Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And.... I'm Back! (With a Chicken Enchilada Recipe!)

When I deleted this blog, I was frustrated. It didn't have a clear purpose and I couldn't speak my mind. I am a very open person and really, have no problem sharing my thoughts/ opinions/ etc. on the world wide web. Some people in my life, however, see things differently and therefore, I was always monitoring what I wrote which became very tiresome.

BUT here I am, with a great recipe to share, 20 weeks into a pregnancy, trying to work out consistently and eat healthy, and there are just some things I want to share! So, I will be working on writing with a purpose and respecting the privacy of my family members but I guess I just couldn't stay away.

To celebrate, here's a recipe for CHICKEN ENCHILADAS that I promised a few I would share:

2 large cans chicken or 1 pound cooked & shredded
small chopped onion
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 C Colby jack shredded cheese

Mix all of the above together, put in 8-10 small flour or corn tortillas and place in greased or buttered baking dish.

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C milk
8 oz sour cream

Mix sauce together and pour over enchiladas. Top with 1 C shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

This can be made ahead and cooked later, can even be frozen for later use. If I was smart, I would have made two pans and froze one so I could have one in the freezer when the baby comes. I need to start doing this and build up some freezer meals. That will make life with a newborn a little more simple!

Also, next time, I am going to make some Mexican rice and add that to the meat mixture.

Thanks for reading my blog and don't forget to check back for updates!

Friday, September 28, 2012

8 Week Baby Bump

Dan thinks I'm crazy but it's there, really. Before getting preggers, I had a fairly flat stomach. All of my clothes are too tight already. Kid #3 and almost 35 years old. I guess that will make this pregnancy very different from the others.

One thing that is different from my previous pregnancies is that I am working out. I wasn't into working out when I had either of the boys. I could easily use this as an excuse to stop exercising but instead, I'm going to keep at it and hopefully gain minimal weight. I'm sure that it'll be harder to lose after giving birth this time around so the less I can gain, the better.

I need to work on my eating, though, that's for sure. I've really gotten away from healthy eating in the last year and a half. I don't do too bad but there's also plenty of room for improvement. And what better time than while pregnant?

So, continuing to work out and making improvements in my eating. This is what I'm working on :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

One of our favorite dinners around here is Enchilada Casserole. (To go to Kraft's website to view and print the recipe, click here.)

The only down side is I have to pick out the black beans for Connor. The plus sides far outweigh that, though, so until he delvelops a taste for black beans, which I hope he does, I'll continue to pick away!

Aside from being an absolutely delicious dish, it's also easy to freeze.

You know how when someone just had a baby or surgery, etc. and people bring them dinners? Well, a LOT of times it's pasta- because that's easy to make, transport, and reheats well. I like to take this Enchilada Casserole. I make up a double batch, one for us to eat that night (might as well!) then one to take to the family in need. I include baking directions as well as freezing directions, in case they have so much food coming in, they'd like to save something for later.

Another bonus is it's versatile. You can play with the recipe a little. I omit the sour cream. And, as you can see from this picture, I substituted a couple of ingredients. I don't buy taco seasoning so instead, I used 1 tablespoon Fiesta Party Dip Mix from Tastefully Simple and 1 tablespoon ground cumin. Also, the only reason I ever have Italian Dressing in the house is for this recipe but... for some reason, I went to make dinner this day and discovered I didn't. So, I opened my fridge to see what I had that somewhat resembled Italian Dressing and came up with 29-Minute Citrus Marinade, also from Tastefully Simple.

One more thing: do you know how difficult it is to cover the surface of a rectangular pan with round tortillas? Yes, you can just throw them in the pan and call it good enough but for those who may be a little OCD like myself, here is what I do: I cut the tortillas in half with my kitchen shears and put the straight edges around the outside of the pan then fill in the middle with a whole tortilla. Like this:

My OCD self also just realized "Pyrex" is upside down but apparently I'm not OCD enough to redo it :)

And voila! The yummiest dinner in under an hour. It's really very easy and oh so good to eat!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two Steps to a Clean(er) Bedroom

My husband says making the bed is futile.

I think it is one of just two simple steps that make a bedroom look so much cleaner!

Make the bed. Close the closet door.

It's absolutely amazing the difference it makes. And, I suppose you could say that isn't a fair comparison because my room is mostly clean anyway so I did it on my youngest son's room also, just so you could see... it really does make a difference! (Part of making the bed is putting the stuffed animals on it which helped immensely with the floor!)

And with a little more picking up, and a quick run of the vacuum, voila!
(Just so you don't think we live like pigs.)

Oh, and funny story- he was (supposedly) cleaning his room the other day when I hear him exclaim "but it's just too hard for me to do by myself, I just keep playing!" I had to laugh. Love that kid!!!

Do you make your bed every day? Do your kids?

Monday, September 10, 2012


Phew! I had a rough weekend. The boys are at their dad's and sometimes I do okay with that, other times not so much. This weekend was one of the not so much times. I was kind of missing the boys all day on Saturday and then Saturday night, after Dan & I got done watching The Hunger Games, I caught a glimpse of Connor's blanket on the couch. This blanket was made by my grandma for Aidan when he was born but he never really took any interest in it. Connor, however, has loved it since day one and has aptly named it "Sucky" because he sucks on it to soothe himself.

I started thinking about how he sleeps with it every night and it would start smelling really funky from him sucking on it. Or used to anyway. You see, not too long after we started dividing up parenting time, Connor's dad forgot to send Sucky back to my house with Connor. At that time, Connor absolutely would not go to sleep without Sucky so his dad had to bring it to me, which he did not at all appreciate. Well, from that point on, Sucky just stayed at my house and Connor's other grandma made him another blanket for at his dad's.

Then I realized that Connor isn't near as attached to Sucky as he used to be and I started to feel really bad. Sucky has always been the thing he needed to go to sleep at night, the thing he cuddled with when he was feeling down or got hurt. And now, because I left his dad, because he goes almost half of the time without Sucky, Connor has lost his soother and here Sucky sits. Alone.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Recipe I Loved (but my kids did not)

As part of my time in the kitchen on Tuesdays, I want to make a homemade healthy snack each week. I'd like this to be something that will last a few days and/or something that I can freeze and take out a few at a time.

This week, I made Chocolate Cranberry & Oat Bars which I LOVED and promised to post the recipe. My kids were less than enthusiastic about them, however, so that kind of took the wind out of my sails. BUT, the neighbor kids seemed to like them so I passed the recipe on to their mom and figured I might as well share it here, too, because perhaps your kids will like them as well (click on the link above to go to the Kraft website where the recipe is.)

These smell so yummy coming out of the oven and they're wonderful to eat, too! If you try the recipe, I'd love to hear what you (and your kids!) thought about them!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Three Meals Fast!

I had this genious idea last week and it worked out so well, I have to share!

It started one night when we wanted to grill steak for dinner. We took some out of the freezer but there was way too much there for just the two of us. Then I had a bright idea- we would grill it all up then use the leftovers to make fajitas later in the week. To go along with the steak the first night, I made rotini noodles with Santa Fe Cooking Creme from Kraft. I used a whole box of noodles and one container of creme.
Oh! So much pasta left over! What shall I do with it? The next night, I took the leftover pasta and added a little milk, sour cream, and shredded cheese to saucy it back up. Then I added some cubed cooked chicken and steamed broccoli to go with it.

Finally, back to the fajitas. I sauteed half of each: red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, onion then added some lime juice and the sliced steak. We ate these on tortillas with this delicious fresh homemade avocado salsa which I got from Nikki over at Chef in Training. Yum!

So, to sum it up:
Night 1: Steak with Santa Fe Pasta and Vegetable of Choice
Night 2: Chicken Santa Fe Pasta and Vegetable of Choice
Night 3: Fajitas with Avocado Salsa

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School 2012

I'm not one to get sentimental and cry on the first day of school, even when my youngest is starting Kindergarten and both boys are now in school all day every day, as was the case today. I was, however, bummed because Connor wanted me to come into his classroom with him and they asked all the parents to not come in. Here's a picture of his sweet smile while he was standing in line which I'm almost certain didn't last 30 seconds after he got inside and realized I wasn't coming with him.

So now what? Now that summer is over and my kids are both in school all day every day, whatever in the world am I going to do with myself? I've been pondering this for weeks and I have come up with what I think is a pretty good idea of how I want things to look. Here are just a few key points without  boring you to death:

- Breakfast at the table in the mornings, as opposed to previous years where they just got ready while I got ready and they ate breakfast in front of the tv. We managed to do this this morning. I loved spending the time with them and covering them in prayer to start the day!

- Do my prayer/ devotional time, blogging, housework, and work before going to the gym. The gym will be in the afternoon, as a reward for getting my other things accomplished. Otherwise, I would go to the gym in the morning and then dink around the rest of the day. Yup, I'm a dinker, believe it or not.

- Daily household tasks. My list looks something like this:
   Monday- bedrooms & laundry
   Tuesday- kitchen & dining room
   Wednesday- errands & groceries
   Thursday- bathrooms
   Friday- yard work (in warmer months) or project (winter)

Of course I've told both of the boys' teachers that I'm available to help out whenever they need it and I'm one of two room moms for Aidan's class so this could all change or go totally in the toilet!

As far as work goes, I will be doing some things to help Dan with his businesses and maybe doing some work for one of the companies that Dan does some work for. He's also a dinker but at least his dinking around makes money :)

I think it's going to be a great year and I'll be plenty busy without working outside the home and as long as I don't dink around too much, it should be just fine. So I guess #1 goal is no dinking around! We'll have to see how this goes... What are your plans for the year? What improvements or changes would you like to implement?

Must include the cool new shoes in the pic!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Letterboxing Adventure

We have had a yearly membership to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum for probably five years. It's a great place to go and, my favorite part, they participate in a Cultural Exchange program where you can visit other places around town for free during certain months. During the month of August, it is usually the John Ball Zoo. So, I wanted to make sure we took advantage of this opportunity to go to the zoo for free and this month is just FLYING by so I made sure to put it on the books for today.

Side note here-  I have chosen to have a membership to the Children's Museum because I can use it all year long. If we go to the zoo once or twice during the free month, we've gotten our fill of the zoo for a year. The first year I decided to get a membership somewhere, I did the zoo and we BARELY went enough to make it worth our money. We've always gone to the Children's Museum PLENTY throughout the year. I do think, however, that we will get our membership this coming year at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The boys are getting a little old for the Children's Museum, my husband and I really enjoy Frederik Meijer Gardens, and it's a great place for year-round activities. Maybe a little more so in the summer but not so much a strictly summer activity like the zoo is.

Ok, on with the story... so this morning, Aidan points out that we haven't been letterboxing in a while and he really wants to go. I think this is a great idea, it's always so much fun (except when we look and look to no avail- more on that later) BUT remember, the zoo is FREE and I want to take advantage of this! I decide to find a letterbox in a location near the zoo then we can do both. I'm a genius sometimes.

So what exactly IS letterboxing? From the Letterboxing North America website: Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. To begin your letterboxing adventure, visit a letterboxing website- I like to use the LBNA site, linked above- and search for a location and figure out which box you want to find. Then you gather a few supplies and head out on your adventure. The supplies you need are a notebook, pen, rubber stamp, ink pad, and something to clean the stamp with. Here is what we have in our bag:

You'll notice Connor's trail book has the name Heads-N-Tails on it and Aidan's has Hunter. These are their trail names (you'll want your own trail name, too). And Connor's stamp is the monkey and Aidan's is the black lab. You've got your clues and your bag of goodies and now you're ready to head off. What you will do is follow the clues until you find the box that is hidden. When you open the box, you will find a trail book and a rubber stamp. You take your stamp and put it in the box's trail book along with your trail name and the date. I like to flip through the book and see the other stamps and read the trail names and see how often the box is found. The box we found today was just placed in November of last year and the trail book was almost filled up already! After you stamp in the box's book, put the box's stamp in your trail book. And, eventually, you'll end up with a collection of stamps from different letterboxes that you've found. It's like a little treasure hunt. Gets us out into nature and the boys love the adventure!

Today, our hunt was fairly easy and we found the box, which is always a bonus. It doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes they've been moved or taken or we just plain can't find it. The clues were based on Nessi, who is a concrete statue of the Loch Ness Monster that resides in the pond in front of the zoo. When we found the box, the boys were so excited and to make it even more exciting, there was a hand carved stamp inside that was the coolest EVER, according to Aidan.

We were running a little short on time today so we didn't get a chance to journal about our experience, but the boys will each journal in their book about the adventure. This was a great find and a lot of fun. I'm glad I decided to try and do letterboxing and the zoo today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catching Up & A Yummy Recipe!

My goodness this summer has flown by! And quitting my job didn't slow it down a bit :( I am not ready for the boys to start school in the fall (BOTH will be in school full time for the first time ever. What will I do?!)

Since quitting my job almost four weeks ago, I have been using the days when I don't have the boys to get settled into the house, to organize a garage sale, to catch up on some things that I haven't been able to get to in a while. I think that this week Thursday, I'll finish checking things off this list then next week, I will be able to start "working" from home. Not 100% sure what this will entail but it will most definitely be a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Aidan has started football, they are gearing up for what I think will be a great season. It's been kind of crazy because he's got practice from 6-8 which is smack dab in the middle of dinner time so I started just feeding the boys early then Dan & I ate later (or not at all). But that meant the boys were hungry again before bed and often left Dan without dinner. So, I had this brilliant idea to make dinner in the crock pot, the boys and I would eat, Dan could eat when he was ready and then put it away. I started it yesterday and it went well. The meal itself was delicious (recipe to follow) and the logistics of it all worked out pretty good. The boys were still hungry before bedtime but I think that's going to be the case no matter what. They are, after all, growing boys.

Here is an adaptation of the recipe I made (the original recipe called for a lot of Tastefully Simple products). Bonus- It's a freezer meal so these are the freezer meal instructions but if you want to just make it, just skip the bagging it up and freezing it steps (that's what I did).

Slow Cooker Lasagna
Brown 1 lb. cooked beef, combine with 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, 6 oz can tomato paste, basil, oregano, and parsley to taste (1 tsp each?) and 1 cup water in gallon Ziploc bag

Combine 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese and 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, and one clove minced garlic in quart Ziploc bag

Place 8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles in gallon Ziploc bag

Put all three bags in Ziploc bag and seal

Freeze then thaw overnight before cooking

To Cook:
Spoon 1/4 beef mixture in bottom of slow cooker

Layer 1/3 of noodles over beef mixture, breaking as needed

Layer 1/3 of cheese mixture over noodle layer

Repeat noodle & cheese layers twice

Top with remaining ground beef mixture

Cook on low for 3-4 hours, uncover and cook an additional 30 minutes

Clearly, by looking at the picture, you can tell I didn't follow directions very well. I did the small meat layer, noodles, meat, cheese, noodles, meat, cheese. I like my pasta dishes to have a nice cheesy layer on top! I'm sure either way works and the way I did it was absolutely wonderful. It was creamy, rich, and the noodles were well cooked (oh, I actually used extra wide egg noodles), the cheese was just a bit crispy around the edges. Yum!

And the best part- Italian food is one of those that's best the 2nd time around so guess what today is- leftover day! YUM!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Burning in My Heart

I asked my son yesterday if all was right in his world and he said it would be if he had this new toy he's been longing after. WOW. There are kids in other countries with no food or shelter and the only thing that would make my kids day better is if he had a certain new toy?! I reminded him of these things and told him he should feel blessed beyond measure! And I think he does, really, it's just so EASY to take the roof over our heads, the food on our table, the clothes on our back for granted.

Being thankful and knowing we are blessed simply isn't enough, however.  In Luke 16, it says that God responds to those who neglect the poor with condemnation. THAT is not what I want to face on Judgment Day. I do not want to face condemnation for not doing something that really, is so SIMPLE to do. As I've been reading Ann Voskamp's Blog, I have been challenged, convicted, saddened, and blown away all at the same time. This is something that's always been on my heart- compassion to help others- but this has really touched me and inspired me. There are so many people in the world who have so much less than us and yet what do we do about it?

It might require a little sacrifice on our end but with everything that we are so blessed with, how can we NOT do something to help those without a home? Without food? Without clothing?

For $38 a month (the price of cable TV or internet, perhaps?), you can sponsor a child through Compassion International. Also through Compassion, you can provide clean drinking water for a one time donation of $55. They also have a Gift Catalog where you can choose a gift to donate. An insecticide treated mosquito net for someone living in Africa to help prevent Malaria is only $12. My sons could each save that up in a month or two.

I was once reading a wonderful book called Chazown (Hebrew for vision) and it asks in there what is something that makes you angry? Not just angry but angry for God? My answer immediately was that when a low income person without insurance decides they want help for their addiction, they are put on a waiting list because there are SO MANY people who need help. There has GOT to be a way to help these people get the help they need NOW instead of sending them back home to get drunk or high yet again. If you haven't learned yet what God's vision is for your life, I highly suggest reading this book. It's witty, interactive with exercises and questions, and will help you to gain a more clear picture for what God wants out of your life.

I am not sure where this will lead me but I am prayerfully considering it. Praying about what I am to DO with all of this, how I can teach and encourage my sons, and that my husband will come along side- no rather lead the way- as we do what we are called to do. It is my heart's desire to glorify God in all that I do, to be His hands & feet. To be Moses and not leave my kindred- brothers and sisters in Christ. It is my heart's desire that my family be a blessing to others and that my children, regardless of if they have the latest and greatest or not, will be so very grateful for all the blessings we DO have in our lives.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Confidence in God

"Confident people don’t concentrate on their weakness; they develop and maximize their strengths." –Joyce Meyer

This came across my Facebook news feed some time ago and I thought wow... if only I could put that into practice. Use my strengths to honor God. Be thankful for them. I am weak but He is strong.

My weakness, however IS confidence. So I wonder, would it be safe to say that if I work on developing and maximizing my strengths, which would require me stepping out of my comfort zone, that the confidence would follow?

I think so!

And now I have to ask myself: in what areas am I strongest?

I am most definitely compassionate. I wish I had the resources to help everyone, whether it be with clothing, food, encouragment, weight loss, or any other area! Another area I am strong in is hospitality.

HOW do I do these things when confidence is my weakness? By remembering to put my confidence in GOD and not in myself. If He's called us all to do something, we need to step out in FAITH and do it, whether we are confident in our abilities or not. Don't focus on what's holding you back. Focus on God, focus on what you are called to do.

"I can do all things in Him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13)

"For it is we who serve God by His spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh." (Phil 3:3)

Overcome fear. Feel it but overcome it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Life and Home Rennovations

Well, it's been a while since I've posted so I figured I had better give an update! I'm working on a few posts on who our family is, the pursuit of joy, and being chronically late but I am just in the beginning stages of them so keep an eye out!

On June 22nd, 2012, I got remarried. I absolutely love and adore this man! He's wonderful in so many ways. We enjoy being together, no matter what it is we're doing- cooking, cleaning, playing games, hanging out with the kids, or date nights. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or exciting, we just like to BE together.

Our wedding was at the courthouse and we were running late (ha! remember that blog post I'm working on?) but the judge was also running behind so it was not a huge deal except that our photographer had come early to take some pics and we had some squirrly kids waiting. The ceremony was short and sweet. I absolutely could not wait to kiss him at the end!

After the ceremony and some pictures, my new husband (still get giddy saying that!) and I went out to dinner at Noto's. What an experience! We were the only ones with reservations in the wine cellar that night so the waitress and chef were all ours which I think made it even more of an experience. Very personal, very intimate. 

Chef Paul cooking the pasta course tableside!
The following night, we celebrated with our families at our favorite restaurant. We had the private dining room booked and 24 people sat around a huge table, enjoying the food and each other. It was a marvelous time!

We still weren't done with Aidan's bedroom so we got crackin' on that right after we got all of our stuff moved in on Sunday. Phew! Adding a bedroom to a basement is much more work than I anticipated! Especially considering the basement was already finished so two walls and the ceiling were done already. I thought adding two walls would be a breeze. But there was a lot of work to tie into the existing structure. It turned out VERY nice, though, and Aidan is so excited about it. Whenever he hears someone is coming over, he runs downstairs and cleans his room up and makes his bed. Gotta love that!

Will add a better pic of the whole room later!
Now, finally, I think we are settling into a routine and getting used to life in the new place as a new family. The boys are doing great, for the most part, and Dan and I are a united front working hard to make our home a loving, nurturing place!

Another piece to that puzzle was me quitting my job yesterday. It's always been on my heart to be at home and there have been times I've been able to do that and times that I haven't. I am thrilled to be at home again full time soon! I think it will help more with our routines and schedules and also with not being late! There are FOUR things that are very important to me and none of them are happening now: daily quiet time with God, eating breakfast with the boys, exercising regularly, and doing devotions with Dan. We do all of these things some of the time but I'm hoping that being at home full time will enable us to do all of these things all of the time!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Couple of Updates

Happy Monday! I had to laugh this morning when I got into work. My co-worker put this quote by Homer Simpson on my desk: "Lisa, if you don't like your job, you don't strike: You just go in every day and do it really half assed. That's the American way." Now, I don't do anything half assed but I did find this very humorous! Gotta love the co-workers. At least they help make the time at work a little more enjoyable.

Also, I didn't end up doing the Highland Games. I was bummed but in the end, I'm glad I didn't go. It gave me a whole extra day to do stuff around the house (and go to a doggie birthday party!) and gave me some time to think and gain perspective in some areas. That will be coming in a later post. For now, I have to get to work.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wherever You Are

I have this post on my work desk, where I see it often: "Wherever you are, be all there." (Jim Elliot) And I often find myself wondering but what if I CAN'T be all there, no matter how hard I try? I'm here, plugging away at it but my heart isn't in it. Then I remember a friend once told me if  you're not happy where you're at, you either have to change where you're at or change your heart.

I cannot change where I'm at. I have to work, in this season of my life, even though I would rather be at home, running the household, keeping everything and everyone in line and on task.

So, I work on changing my heart. I read a blog this morning from (in)courage entitled "When You Feel Like a Failure" and it couldn't have been more timely. I have been feeling like SUCH a failure lately! I'm disorganized, forgetful, moods swings like the temperature changes in Michigan in the spring. After reading, I am challenged to answer this question: what does success look like to me?

Success to me is following God and His will, praising Him, giving Him the glory in everything I do. Success to me is a happy household where everyone's needs are met- meals, clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads. Lots of laughter, quality time, kindness, and understanding are also a part of my recipe for success.

I strongly feel that God's plan for me as a wife and mom is to be home, planning and organizing for our family, able to join my kids at school for functions and to be able to help out in the classroom.

I have been single for over a year now and have had to provide food, shelter, and clothing for the boys and myself. I paid off some serious debt (which felt wonderful!) and have a little more left to pay off. My car is 10+ years old and has needed some pretty significant maintenance and will probably need to be replaced sometime soon. For these reasons, I have had to work.

I've missed school functions, the boys have spent time being cared for by someone other than myself, dinner is later than I'd like, my house isn't as clean as I'd like, and my planning and organizing has severely backslidden, leaving me frustrated and feeling like a failure.

But, you do what you've got to do. And for me, for now, that requires working. So, I need to change my heart. But HOW do I do that? My heart LONGS to be at home. Thinking about continuing to work makes me physically sick to my stomach.

Romans 5:34 says: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope"

I am SUFFERING right now. But the Bible tells me that suffering produces these other things- endurance, character, and HOPE. Oh, and what's that? It says we REJOICE in our sufferings... I AM thankful that I am ABLE to work, that my employer is flexible with my hours and pays me well, that it is a fairly low stress job that doesn't overwhelm me, that through this job our needs ARE met.

I cannot make my heart not long to be at home. But I can tell my heart what my head already knows- that this is only for a season- and BELIEVE it and make the best out of it. Because, afterall, I have all the ingredients for my recipe for success, it just might not look the same as I'd like it to... for now...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quitter? Maybe. Indecisive? For Sure.

I committed months ago to do this event called the Highland Games, a heavy events sort of competition with Scottish background (stone put, caber toss, heavy bag for height, heavy weight for height and distance...) I've been practicing; it's a lot of fun and I'm doing pretty good in most events.

See that there stone fly?

And that bag, I heaved into the air with that there pitchfork.
This is probably my favorite event.

I even bought a kilt to wear. And it's purple! When I committed to it, however, I was just in the beginning stages of planning the wedding and we didn't have the date nailed down yet and I had NO IDEA how insanely busy I would be getting the house ready for us to move in. Seriously, the weekend before the wedding is going to be serious crunch time. And it's the weekend of the Highland Games.

This is my sister trying to pick up the caber. Yes, 16' tall and we have to balance it in our clasped hands then flip it end for end. This is one I won't be participating in and my sister already decided to drop out completely because she didn't want to wreck her body.

So, I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. I'm not really letting anyone down by not going. My coach and girlfriend who is also participating (and has a matching kilt) might be a tad disappointed but it's an individual competition so as far as the competition goes, it's not hurting anyone if I don't go. And at the same time, I don't want to disappoint my coach and my friend.

If I do participate, that's one whole Saturday of crunch time that I cannot help with the house which means disappointing my fiancee and probably a lot of extra stress/ tension between the both of us. Plus, I can return the $60 kilt I bought that will most likely only be worn one time. But it's a KILT and I was going to wear it. It would be FUN!

So, as it stands right now, I guess what I should do is be honest with my coach and friend and hope they're understanding and still love me when it's done. BUT I'm not 100% sold on that yet. Stay tuned for my final decision and the outcome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Working Weekend

I had hoped to get this post out yesterday but alas... we were busy with drywall! And, I must say I was more than ready to go back to work today and RELAX!

Before the weekend, the room was studded in and we finished running the electrical on Friday.

Saturday morning, we got up and went to Lowe's. We decided on 12' boards of plywood because that would mean less seams. But it also meant trying to get it home hanging out the back of the truck without breaking and moving that very heavy stuff around! But, we work great together and managed it all quite nicely if I don't say so myself.

By the end of Sunday, we had the outer walls done.

And last night, we did the inner walls. (I don't have a pic of that but I like this one, how neat it all looks in there!) Now all that needs done is the closet. Then, on to mudding!

And, the lesson of the weekend: no texting and drywalling, you might get stabbed with a utility knife!

Monday, June 4, 2012

What I've Learned

That love really IS a choice

That I am not as strong as I'd like to think I am.

That I do sometimes like to sit back & enjoy instead of always being the hostess with the mostess.

That life will happen without me planning every moment of it and it's actually nice to not plan every moment all of the time.

Being in debt sucks. Being debt free is completely freeing- even if getting out of debt leaves you broke.

That sometimes when life gets tough, others don't know how to handle it and walk away.

How to forgive; what true forgiveness really is.

That God is the only one who can fill me up.

And the fun one: if you leave your newspaper in the box, they won't deliver more.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's Really Happening!

When I pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon, I was greeted with this sign:

Wow. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This is really happening! In just 3 weeks, I am going to be married and moving out of this place the boys and I have called home for exactly one year and moving into a new place that already feels kind of like home. I am thoroughly ecstatic to not just be starting a new chapter but to be starting a whole new book but until now, it's all seemed sort of surreal.

Granted, the boys never did really like this place- it's small (they can't play hockey in the kitchen!) and there's no neighborhood to run around. But I liked it. It was cozy and very affordable. And, with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, it was far less to clean than our previous house with four bathrooms, four bedrooms, two living rooms, and a HUGE kitchen/ dining area. I like to clean but with everything else going on this past year, it was a nice reprieve to not have to take care of a big house and yard! It was perfect for us, for a transition place. We did a lot of loving, grieving, growing, and sharing in this house. I might actually miss it just a teensy bit.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rearranging Furniture

I love to rearrange furniture, I always have. I once read that rearranging furniture is a sign on someone who is discontented. This bothers me. Is that true? Am I discontent? I don't think so... however, I did get divorced last year and am now getting ready to embark on a new marriage and so I did wonder for a brief minute, is this like rearranging furniture? I also like to plan and dream and have goals and I wonder, when there's not a wedding to plan or a new household or babies to plan, will I get bored and feel the need to change it up again?

I can confidently say that this is not the case. I know that this marriage, this person I'm marrying, is so much more than rearranging and planning. I once read a quote that said "you don't marry someone you can live with, you marry the person you cannot live without." Oh, my fiancee is that person. Every day, I miss him until I get to see him in the evening and as soon as he walks out the door when we say good night, I start missing him all over again.

It's not about getting bored or needing a change but it is indeed about dreaming and goals. Something we do very well together. Dreams of business ventures and building a house and expanding our family... and making the goals necessary for these things to happen someday. And even if some of them don't ever come to fruition, we DREAMED and made GOALS together and that, I think, is very important for marriages. It gives LIFE, something to look forward to, something to talk about, and something to bond over.

Dream with your spouse. And don't quit dreaming with your spouse- especially when things get rough. Dig in deeper, you may have to force yourself a bit but dreaming and making goals together will help to keep your marriage alive!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sesame Chicken, Please!

My boys are always asking to get Chinese for takout. They LOVE sesame chicken. As much as I like to feed them foods they love, I don't like to eat out all the time so I've been on a pursuit for a sesame chicken I can make at home that they love almost as much as takeout. I say almost because there are some things you just can't do like they do in the restaurants... salads are one of them for me and for the boys, it's sesame chicken. I've tried a few recipes but none have really come close. This one, however, nails it and, even better, it's a crock pot recipe!!! It's from Chef in Training and I came across it on Pinterest. Gotta love that site!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

30 Day Challenge

Today is the first day of May and I think that May might be a hard month for me so I decided to do the 30 Day Challenge from Chalene Johnson and hopefully it will help me to focus and be productive.

I have a wedding in just 53 days, for which I have made absolutely no plans beyond picking the date. I have personal goals, including weight loss goals. Plus, this is the month that my first husband and I got married in 11 years ago. Eleven years ago this coming Saturday, actually. And while we are divorced and on decent terms, and I'm the one who asked for the divorce and couldn't get over some "issues" enough to work things out, I do imagine it will be a bit emotional for me. Heck, I'm getting emotional just writing about it.

So, enough about that...

I'll start with my personal goals first since that's the easy part and I know what I'm aiming for there. They fall into three categories: household management, career, and weightloss/ fitness.

For household management, I'd like to do my housework after the boys go to bed so that I can spend more time with them in the evenings and on the weekends. This means picking up and doing one load of laundry hamper to drawer each night. On the weekends when they go to their dad's, I'll spend the first night and/or morning that they are gone cleaning and washing bedding.

For career, I'm just going to keep plugging away at my current job until the end of the school year. When the boys are done with school, I will quit my job and work at building my It Works business and also help my fiancee (soon to be husband!) in his wood shop making icon boards. I LOVE being with It Works and am very much looking forward to building a business with my fiancee and hopefully someday our business will be big and we'll have a little store to sell his wood creations in!

Weightloss/ fitness has been a huge struggle for me. I feel like I've come a long way as far as my thinking goes but I still have goals I need to meet here. I used to weigh myself a lot and I do it every couple of days now. I try not to put so much emphasis on how much I weigh and focus on how I feel. What does still make a HUGE difference for me is working out. If I go 2 or 3 days without working out, I start to feel really cruddy about myself. So, my goals here are to not skip workouts, drink more water, and continue to eat healthy. And hopefully, in doing this, I will be able to lose about 20 pounds that I've gained over the last year. This is certainly secondary to how I feel and how I keep up with working out and eating right.

And, finally, the wedding. We cannot seem to decide if we want a ceremony or if we just want to get married by the Justice of the Peace. That would be the first logical decision to be made. Then, we have a private dining room picked at Hearthstone, our very favorite restaurant, but I think I might like to invite more people than that would hold. So, I was thinking about just getting married by the JOP and then having an open house at our house the following weekend. Actually, that's probably the way I'm leaning but then... what about food? It would be so much easier to have it at Suite 24 and have everything done for us!

So much on my mind, decisions to be made, feeling a time crunch, but I'm sure in the end it'll all work out okay so I'm trying not to get all freaked out about it. Just gotta get rolling.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bag Lady

I had to laugh at myself as I got ready to walk out the door this morning with my FOUR bags.
Why four bags you might ask? Well, my purse- can't leave home without it. Then, my tote with my "stuff" in it; organizational binder, books to read, and today my recipe binder so I can work on organizing that. Then, my gym bag with workout clothes and water bottle. And, finally, my other bag with clean clothes for after the gym. (The last thing I want to do at 6:00 at night is put my work clothes back on!) My boss teases me about the homeless person living in my car and well, I guess I can see why he would think that.

Unfortunately, I now realize that homeless person is myself.

Don't laugh, it's not funny. As I chuckle to myself. I suppose I can't help but see the humor in it. Not because of the circumstances but because it really is kind of funny that I tote all this stuff around with me. And the circumstances: almost a year ago, I moved out of the place I had called home to for almost seven years and left my husband of ten years. In the year that followed, there have been many ups and downs and I've definitely been very much in limbo, trying to figure out the direction of my life and the steps I need to take to get there. I think I finally have a pretty good picture and am starting to take steps in that direction. It will require more big changes and another move so I remain temporarily in limbo but at least now, it's with purpose and not just trying to find my way.

Today's encouraging verse for me: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) And the lesson in that is this: I can do everything through HIM, not on my own accord but through HIM who gives me strength. Such a hard thing to remember but it's so much easier when I do rely on Him and not myself!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Boss Loves Me!

Today is Administrative Professionals Day and I came in to work with a surprise on my desk from my boss.  So thoughtful of him!

And, he let me pick what's for lunch today. SO, because they always seem to order pizza when I'm not here (I am just a part timer, you know), I decided to go for pizza.

I worked here from March 2001 until August 2006 when I had my 2nd son. At that time, I was the assistant branch manager, working 40+ hours a week, making a decent salary plus commission based on our branch sales. I didn't love it. My boss drove me crazy and I wore so many hats and there was SO much work to do! Nowadays, though, I'm just a peon answering phones and shuffling paperwork 22 hours a week. Easy Peasy. And, for some reason, my boss doesn't drive me crazy any more. I'm enjoying it much better this time around and am thankful for a good company to work for, who appreciates me and shows it.

And a side note: Whenever I eat pizza or other fatty foods, I follow it up with Fat Fighters from It Works! They absorb up to 30% of the fat that I eat and it's eliminated naturally instead of being absorbed by my body!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This Week's Meals

Here's a sample of what my week looks like. I am completely OCD about filling in my calendar on Google Calendar so I can keep it at my fingertips at all times on my phone. But I also like to fill out an agenda and put my meals on there and make notes as the week goes on. I keep this in a binder that has other important stuff in it- bills to pay, permission slips to be filled out, articles to read, etc.

I put important times on there, everything else is flexible-ish. Then, in the right hand column are what I have planned for dinner. I have to have a dinner plan or else we'll end up eating out. I am not a very good "creative" cook. And, of course, if the dinner menu has to change, that can be done, too. As OCD as I appear to be about things, I really am not. I like to have a plan but the plan can always be changed. It just gives me a base to work with and something to reel me back in if I feel like things are getting off track.

The recipe for Chicken & Roasted Potatoes can be found on my Pinterest page.

GREENS: My Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Here we are, day two into the week, and it's already been a long week so far! Phew! I'm sitting at my desk, sporting a new shirt (gotta love new clothes!), feeling pretty good, but all of a sudden, it hits me like a brick wall... my afternoon slump. It happens almost every day. And this is when I get uncontrolable munchies, too. I think I must eat to keep me awake or for something to do. That was, until I discovered It's Greens from It Works!

This powdery blend of 38 herbs and nutrient-rich "super foods" is just what my body needs to get me through the afternoon! It wakes me up and gives me energy! Simply add two scoops to 8 ounces of water or orange juice and voila! a healthy, delicious pick-me-up to get me through my afternoon slump. Whether you're looking for a pick-me-up or an overall great supplement, give It's Greens from it Works a try!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Birthday Goals

One thing I noticed is that I always have a goal that I'd like to meet by my birthday. I had one last year, I had one this year. I didn't blog about them, however.

Last year, I was going through a divorce.

This year, it wasn't near as much of a big deal to me as it has been in the past.

Why is that you might ask? Well, that is one of the things I'm learning about myself and growing with. In the past, I had been super obsessed about my weight. I would strip naked and weigh myself 10 times a day. The number on the scale determined my mood.

Today, I still have a goal weight, one I sometimes reach and sometimes stray from but I weigh myself daily, sometimes even every few days. How I FEEL about myself determines my mood. The number, while still probably more important to me than it should be, is just a PART of the big picture. I am learning to love myself for who I am. I have a wonderful man who loves me just the way I am. And, most importantly, I am learning that only God can fill me up and in Him, I am:

more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me Romans 8:37

part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people 1 Peter 2:9

the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath Deuteronomy 28:13

The wonderful part about this is the same is true for you! If you feel like your life is lacking or there is emptiness inside of you, look to God to fill that space because that is something that only He can do. If you try to fill it with other things/ people, the emptiness will never fully go away.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." - Matthew 5:6

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beginning Again

Ok, here we go! Starting up the blog again with a new look, new feel, and new theme!

As you may have noticed, I didn't post at all in 2012. It was a crazy year! Instead of filling you in all at once in this post, I will fill you in bit by bit in future posts.

I was a year of learning and growing for me. Full of heartaches, triumphs, losses, and gains.

I hope to be able to share a little with you about what I went through as well as what I'm going through currently as I continue to learn and grow. Some things that interest me that I LOVE to share about are family, friendships, and healthy living. So, if you share in those interests, would like to keep up to date, or just like to read, welcome and enjoy!