Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In the Quiet of this Christmas Morning


This Christmas morning as I sit, computer on my lap, coffee at my side, baby playing quietly at my feet, I reflect. On the year gone by, on years past, on previous Christmases, and on that very first Christmas. The one when God sent his SON to be born as a human so that he could DIE for us.

His son who was with Him in Heaven. In the perfect place with no hurting or sorrow. Sent him to take on flesh, to become one of us. Knowing. Knowing that Jesus would grow up and be persecuted and die. That other humans, mothers and fathers with kids of their own, would kill him.

God sent His son to die for us. So that all of mankind could be saved.

What an amazing gift. One I'm not sure I could give, quite honestly. So, to take that for granted, to ignore it, to not share it with others. That would be almost as bad as not accepting it in the first place.

On that first Christmas day, our savior was born. Born into this world so that he could ultimately pay the sacrifice for our sins so that we don't have to. We are all sinners, born into an imperfect world, but we don't have to die sinners.

Romans 10:9 says that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved. It's that easy. God sent his Son to die as punishment for our sins. Accepting that gift is as easy as believing and confessing. If you haven't already, won't you today?

Send me a message or comment below if you'd like to talk more about this. I don't have all the answers but I'd love to look with you and find them together!

Have a blessed Christmas and do be sure to enjoy your Gift!

 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

In His Time


I've been reading "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope with a fantastic group of women. Such a great read, very encouraging, and I'm learning so much! I hope the others are getting as much out of it as I am!

Hebrews 10:35 says: "so do not throw away your confidence..." This tells us that God has already given us confidence, it is in us somewhere, we just have to dig through the crud of our past and our insecurities and find it and trust in God along the way. Chapter 8 is titled "When Doubt Whispers 'I Don't Have Anything Special to Offer'" and it deals with spiritual gifts and finding one's purpose. In my own thoughts and in our discussion and in discussions I've had with others in the past, I have noticed a main theme: no one seems to know what their purpose is. This is incredibly frustrating to me personally. I'm a very goal oriented person, I like to have something that I am working toward.

I was expressing this frustration to Dan the other night, paraphrasing Proverbs 29:18- "without a vision, the people perish." Right after I said that, God whispered to me and he told me that right now, in this moment, my purpose was to be a wife and mom and to take care of our family and our home. As I thought about this more later, I realized that as I trust in Him and live this out, that he will reveal the next part of my purpose to me when the time is right. And now, here I sit in awe of the God who is my Father and who loves me so much that he has GOOD plans for me because do you know what? I just went and looked that verse up in other versions and the message version says THIS: "If people cannot see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed."

WOW.

What if right now, in this moment, we took time to enjoy where we are at, quit looking for some grand purpose and just lived out the life that God has planned for us, revealed to us as we are obedient in fulfilling it.

Because not everyone in the world can be missionaries or entrepreneurs or CEOs or all these perceived BIG, IMPORTANT people.

The world needs moms and wives, too. Women who will raise their kids and support their husbands and love them and nurture them. And I love being a wife and a mother. I really wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

Aren't they just the most handsome, precious kiddos?



So why do I get frustrated? Why do I feel like there's got to be more to it than this? Well, because the world and, ultimately, Satan tells me so. That's what he'd like me to believe. He would love for me to believe this so I can try to get through it as fast and haphazardly as I can so that I can move on to "bigger and better" things.

Don't get caught listening to the lies! God has big plans for me and for you, maybe not by the world's standards, but by His and that's all that matters. And there is more, just not right now. I won't always have kids at home. Eventually, they'll be grown and leave home and THEN it will be time to move on to something else.

Wherever you are right now, is part of God's plan for your life. He has a plan and a reason for everything that happens in our lives. It might not always be pretty but it is always for a reason. Sit back and trust Him and continue to seek Him and His will for your life, and He will continue to reveal the next step when it is time- in His time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

And... It's December!


No Spend November is over! I must say, I'm rather indifferent about it. I could go on and on with this no spending stuff. Well, to an extent. I have to admit one of the first things I did on Monday morning was go to Biggby :)

Anyway, I think I'll do a no spend November every year. I keep joking that I'm going to do a no spend 2014 but my kids don't think that's funny. My husband thinks it's a great idea on the other hand. Personally, I'm SURE I couldn't do it. A month is one thing

but a whole YEAR?!

I didn't just do the challenge for a month to go back to my old ways. I do plan to maintain what I've learned and to keep new habits I've formed. I think a lot more about purchases I make and I've been spending my time more wisely. Goal accomplished.

I have a lot of things that I'd like to do in 2014, one of which includes quitting eating cereal. LOL I bet you didn't know I LOVE cereal, did ya? So, we'll see what happens... maybe I'll do a challenge a month for 2014.

Then again, maybe I'm just coming off of a successful challenge and feeling a little too ambitious.

We'll have to see what 2014 brings. Keep reading this here blog and I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Week Three of No Spending


I don't really have much to update... still going good. Like I said before, it's been surprisingly easy. Probably because I know this is something that I need to do. It's crazy how we get swept up in the spending, the wanting, the "gotta have," and even the justifying wants by making them, in our minds, a "need."

For instance, one night last week, Connor had wrestling practice so the boys ate a light dinner and off we went. Afterwards, they were "starving" and I didn't really want to go home at 7:30 and make food so McDonald's quickly morphed from a want into a need.

We could have easily come home and had sandwiches and carrot sticks. But, well, it was late and they were withering away and I was lazy.

Along with not spending money, I've been trying to spend my time more wisely. This week, I was able to do some more cleaning in the basement and make baby food. I've always said I wanted to make my own baby food, but have never done it. This is a huge accomplishment for me!


Thirty-five containers of food, if I feed 2-3 a day, it should last 10-14 days. And I figured the price to be about .43 for each 4oz. serving, not including labor. But really, it took probably no more than an hour total. Not too shabby.

My Facebook fast didn't last all month but that's going good, too. Trimming my friends list helped immensely and in 26 days, I've done 25 posts which is less than one a day, a huge improvement over what I was doing! No one wants to see or hear about every moment of my day (I can't imagine why not!) and yes, I realize that they can hide me from their timeline but I don't want them to do that! Plus, way less time on Facebook means more time for cleaning and cooking during the day (at least until Emmett quits sleeping 5-6 hours during the day) which means a happy momma with lots of time for her kids and husband in the evening! 

I do stay home, after all, to take care of the family and house, not to Facebook ;)



Monday, November 18, 2013

Over Half Way!


Well this day has really gotten away from me but better late than never, huh? And I got to spend some quality time with a friend I haven't seen in a while which was super awesome. I wouldn't trade that for anything!

I am just over half way through No Spend November and I must say it's actually been rather easy. Of course I really could have gone for some yummo On The Border for lunch today (and any other day!) instead of making lunch at home... but other than my vice of eating out, it's not been difficult at all. In the beginning, I said I didn't think my spending habits were out of control and I do believe that if nothing else, this is evidence of that. If I did overspend and spend frivolously on a regular basis, I think this challenge would be much more difficult.

Another thing I am trying to accomplish this month is getting some projects done around the house. This week, I got totally fed up with washing burp rags every day, I finally pulled out my sewing machine to sew up the fabric that I had cut out.



And while I was at it, decided to shorten the bed skirt that had been crumpled on my closet floor for months.


Phew! I am NOT a seamstress! Thank goodness those projects are done and I am able to tuck the sewing machine back away, not to be thought of again for at least another three years.

Two things I am not doing so well/ at all this month are staying off of Facebook and purging 5 things a day. I did, however, trim my Facebook friends list from 239 to 105 which has helped considerably in how much time I spend on there. There is so much less STUFF to get distracted by now! I have decided to do the purging challenge separately in January. I think putting all these things together in one month was maybe biting off more than I could chew. Too much to keep track of.

Focus, Elizabeth, focus.

Time to sign off for another week. Thank you for following my blog and supporting me through No Spend November!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Two Weeks Down



Good morning! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! Pretty low key here, as usual- especially when the older two boys aren't here. It's too quiet sometimes then!

If you missed my post about week one of No Spend November (the name that's caught on around here and I like it so much, I think every November will be No Spend November!) you can read about it here.

Week two went really well, probably even better than week one. I can't remember the last time I thought in the format of a status update and I trimmed my Facebook friends list from 239 to about 105. Wow! That made such a huge difference! I've gotten on there a couple times since then and my news feed is so much quieter, it takes just a minute to browse it and I don't get sidetracked by SO many posts.

I'm surprised at how easily the spending part is going. Oh, I did have one setback. But how do you say no to your husband when he wants you to join him for lunch? He eats out every day anyway, so that's money he would have spent regardless. I really couldn't pass up the invitation so we did spend a few bucks extra for me to join him. We used to do that on an almost weekly basis and we just don't any more so it was quite a treat! Not to mention the onion rings were delightful :)

The hardest part for me was not buying books at the book fair. The boys and I always go to the book fair and get a couple books for each of them. They are books, after all. I'd much rather spend money on books than toys! It was hard but I told them no and stuck to it. Much to my surprise, they understood and didn't really argue about it. The oldest was a tad more persistent in asking but he eventually gave in and didn't throw a fit.

So, what have I accomplished in not spending money and time on things I don't need to? Well, we've enjoyed more family time and I have been more productive. Yes, I managed to get almost everything on my cleaning list done last week! This week, I hope to get it ALL done. Also, I've spent some good, quality time reading my Bible and preparing for Bible study and praying. It's been good!

Looking forward to week three. My goals for the week are to get all my housework plus projects done. See you next Monday!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Challenge Has Started!

Well, it's November 4th and so far, it's been going pretty good.

Dan's birthday was this weekend and we took a trip to Indiana to see my dad. We spent some money but that was accounted for in my preset guidelines. We had a fun weekend of traveling, visiting, and a little shopping- antiquing, the wine and cheese shop and this wonderful candy store that I could have bought out! The older boys thoroughly enjoyed visiting with grandpa and Emmett was such a great traveler!

Dan bought some antique woodworking tools and I got this beautiful bean pot to replace the one I lost in the big D.
Yes, we argued over a bean pot. This one is perfect and has wonderful memories attached to it!
I managed to stay off of Facebook for the most part. It got the best of me on Dan's birthday and I just HAD to log on to wish him a happy birthday :) I've spent a good part of my thoughts forming status updates, though, that I couldn't post. My brain is overrun by Facebook. Aaaargh! Definitely need to take this break!

I need to figure out how in the world to get all my stuff done. That's my focus for this week. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day and I'm always trying to get the basic things done that need done that I never have time to do anything extra, such as sewing or little fix it projects. I load and run the dishwasher but it takes forever before I can find time to unload it. Wash and dry the clothes, no problem. Fold them, eventually. Put them away, maybe...

I know I'm not the only one that struggles with this and maybe I'm being obsessive but there has GOT to be a way. I don't even work outside the home so that's an extra 9+ hours at home a day and I STILL can't get it done. I find this extremely frustrating.

And, on that note, since it is November, and the point is to be spending more time being thankful and appreciate who and what I have in my life, I'm thankful that I have this beautiful home to live in and take care of. I'm thankful for my family, immediate and extended, and for time that we get to spend together.


See you next Monday with another update. Please, comment below and let me know if you, too, struggle with getting everything done and how you organize your time.




Thursday, October 31, 2013

In Case You Missed It


Earlier in the week, I did a post my Zero Spend month.

Yes, I am going to refrain from spending any money (with a couple of predetermined exceptions, which you can read about in the other post). I will also not be spending time on Facebook or blogging (again, see other post for predetermined exceptions). Instead, I will be spending time focusing on God, Family, Health, and Home.

So really, it's not a zero spend, it's a rearranging of spending. I'm looking forward to it, actually. I put some things into practice this week and it's gone surprisingly well and I've gotten a few things done that needed done and feel like the time spent with my family was bumped up a notch.

Here are some pics of my kiddos dressed up for Halloween on this last day of October...




Looking forward to November, the month of rearranging spending and being THANKFUL!

I will be posting a weekly update so make sure you follow my blog or like my blog page on Facebook if you want to see how I'm surviving!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zero Spend


Not too long ago, I came across a zero spend challenge. They were a week into it at that time, though, and we have things like Christmas coming up so I thought "eh, I'll wait until January and do it then." I've been convicted lately, though, about my spending habits- how I spend my time and how I spend my money. This morning, while reading a blog post "What to neglect to have a rich life," I was convicted once again. I do not think that I spend frivolously but I'm sure that I buy more unnecessary stuff than I realize. I know I spend more time on the internet than I should. And, being bombarded day in and day out with pictures and statuses of vacations and new vehicles, Pinterest boards of clothing and home improvements doesn't help matters.

In the month of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. All month long, friends in years past have infiltrated my news feed on Facebook with daily thanks. But not this year. I have decided that November- the month of thankfulness- is the perfect time to spend zero AND to take a break from social media, allowing me to focus on the people in my life and be thankful for what I have and content where I'm at.

So, here are my guidelines:

NO SPENDING except for one small project I'm already working on (more on that in December, when it's done), an overnight trip to Indiana next weekend which we already had planned, and groceries. By groceries, I mean necessities- I bought this at the grocery store today but well, neither was a necessity ;)


NO SOCIAL MEDIA. This means no Facebook, no reading blogs, no blogging. I will keep a paper journal about how this journey is going and will post an update once a week, on Monday morning.

What will I do instead of shopping, Facebooking, and Blogging? I will start my Bible study and read my Bible more. I will spend more time in prayer and more time with my family, maybe do some crafts and other things I've been meaning to but "haven't had time". Maybe my bed skirt that has been crumpled up in my closet for a month because it needs to be shortened will actually get fixed and put back on the bed.


Also, not only will I not be bringing more into the house, I'm going to work on decluttering and purging. Five things a day. Ah! It should be a whole different home come December 1st!

Now, you may think I'm crazy. And maybe I am a little. But I am actually really excited about this (and yes, Dan is on board) so  please don't judge and please, if you don't want to hear about it or encourage me, then don't read my updates. If you'd like to join me, comment below and let me know!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Not Without a Price


The two oldest boys were at their dad's for Labor Day which means I didn't get to see them off to school on the first day of school. I could have gone up to school but I've done that in the past and found that it's just too much crazy and they're way too excited to stop and let me snap a picture of them. So, I decided that for now on, when they are at their dad's for the first day of school, we'll celebrate the second day of school here :) It's not ideal but I'm learning to make the best of the situation. Of course getting them to smile for a pic is like torture, regardless of if it's the first or second day of school or the last (yes, really).



I thought it would be fun to hang out with some moms after all the kiddos were settled in and, since I didn't have the boys that morning, I figured I'd do the work and bless the other mommas and have a little brunch gathering. We had egg puffs, a pastry, some fruit, and yogurt parfaits along with good chats and fellowship. I had a great time and I am so glad that I was able to do this.


One of my friends mentioned that she had thought "wow, that Liz, she's got it all together" and then she remembered that I didn't have the boys that morning. Yeah, about that... My house may (usually) be clean, I have time to work out and host events and write a blog, blah blah blah... but the only kid I have at home half of the time is still immobile and doesn't talk. Half of the time, I don't have to run to football practices or help with homework or referee brotherly brawls. Or even cook dinner for that matter.

But I tell you what, I would trade the clean house and brunches with girlfriends, time to work out and other free time for cooking dinner every night, homework meltdowns, and refereeing brawls a million times over. Because nothing, I mean nothing could replace having my kids here with me ALL the time.

Since that is not going to happen, however, I will continue to make the best of the situation but please remember it is not without a price.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Love


I can hardly believe summer is over and the kids are back in school! It was such a wonderful summer, it always is. I really enjoy spending time with the boys, even on the days when they're nit-picking and beating each other up. I may feel like pulling my hair out but there's always a better time right around the corner, just gotta hang in there.

I saw someone post on Facebook the other day asking what was your one favorite memory from this summer? I had such a hard time coming up with just one. We didn't do anything monumental, didn't even go out of town- well, except for a trip across the state to visit my mom and grandma. But this summer was made up of a lot of great little moments instead and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Though, for my husband's sake, because he works SO much, it would be nice to actually get some time off and go away.


My dad lives out of town and we don't get to see him near enough so going strawberry picking and making jam with him was definitely a highlight of my summer. My nephew was there, too, and the boys LOVE to spend time with my dad and nephew!

















Another great memory for me was the water balloon fight we had in our front yard. Five of the neighbor boys came over with a bunch of balloons which Dan and I filled up so the kids could burst them all in about 60 seconds, leaving our lawn spattered with rainbow colored shards of balloon! Dan even got in on the action with the water hose!













Also on the top of my list is time spent with Dan's family- pizza nights, swimming in the pool, fireworks...

And the boys and I went on this great letterboxing adventure (which I don't have any pictures of) and we also included some of the neighbor kids on a sweet scavenger hunt that I put together.

I was reflecting on some things earlier in the summer and I coined this phrase: "doing life together is about spending time, not spending money" and I think that our summer reflected this for the most part. We had a wonderful summer, many good memories were made, and most of all, we played together, laughed together, loved on each other and really didn't spend a whole lot of money.

What were your favorite memories from this past summer?



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Girl Friends: Making Time


In talking with a few people about friendship struggles, I have found that the biggest obstacle is TIME.

First off, I'd like to say that if you don't seem to have enough time for your girlfriends because there are other things, such as God and your husband and children that get most of your time, that's not a bad thing! Your priorities are in order :)

But, I do know that we desire time with other women. And I feel strongly that it is very important for us to have that time. We need friends we can share with (whether it's laughing or crying), friends to pray with, to get advice from, and for accountability.

And, ultimately, these things can enhance our relationship with God and with our spouse and children. Good for us, good for them! I thoroughly believe it makes us better women. Learning, growing, being held accountable.

So, if we have been working diligently on our relationships with God and our husbands, then by all means, a little girl time is in order!

I know that as we get older, it seems to be harder to make new friends. It's easy to look at other friendships and compare which does absolutely no good. We get in a rut, stuck wishing for more, better, friendships. I know- I've been there.

Thoughts such as "I wish I had a girlfriend I could curl up on the couch and watch a movie with" or "I wish I had a girlfriend I could go shopping with" or "I wish hubby and I had a set once a month dinner with another couple" can trap us. I apologize in advance to my friends but to be perfectly honest, I even find myself having an occasional pity party, thinking "I don't have any friends." And that's a load of crap. They're there, I just need to make time for them.

Instead of wasting time on these thoughts we need to start looking at the friendships we do have- even if it is only one- and focus on how we can make time for that person and how we can better that friendship. Who knows, maybe one of my friends is sitting at home having the same pity party when really, all one of us has to do is make a call or send a text or get on Facebook and take the initiative.

Now, back to the main obstacle that many of us run into with our friendships- time. I am a firm believer that if something is important to us, we will MAKE time for it. Schedule it in, just like you do work or church or the other very important things in your life. (It also works GREAT for exercising! I most definitely schedule my workout time and it gets done!)

My friendships are important to me and sometimes I may feel like I just want to hang out at home with my family but it's been way too long since I've seen my girlfriend so I will schedule that time. And sometimes, to be honest, it is hard for me to get motivated to GO and DO it but once I do, I never regret it. I never think dang, I wish I wouldn't have done that! (Again, same goes for working out!)

If you've made it this far, I thank you for reading and I hope it's given you something to think on. Just remember: God and husband first. Then, instead of looking for newer, better friendships, look at what you already have and figure out how you can make that better and make time to do that.

Lets help each other: share in the comments below how you are going to improve your friendships.

For me, I'm going to start taking the initiative more because my friends ARE important to me.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Girl Friends: But First!


Okay, I think I'm beginning to make a little bit of sense about all this friendship stuff in my head so lets see if I can type it out to make sense here. Friendship is something I've always struggled with and I'm hoping that something I say here will encourage you in your relationships with your girl friends.

But first, there are one, maybe two other relationships that need to be addressed (depending on if you're married or not). Foremost in our lives should be our relationship with God. Then, our relationship with our husband (if we're married). And finally, other relationships.

It is a fact that when we seek God, when we desire Him, and put Him first in our lives, we will be fulfilled in a way that no one or nothing else can fill us. The Bible tells us that when we seek first the kingdom of God, everything else will be added. It also says in the Bible that we aren't to have other gods before Him. Anything- anyone- that is more important in our lives than God can become an idol to us. Also, when we are feeling lonely or sad or hurt, if we would look to God instead of to other people, we would find comfort and belonging and peace. He promises us that in His word. So, for those of you struggling, I urge you to go to the word first and to seek Him. Invest your time and energy in Him and he will bless you in ways you can't imagine. He will fill your heart so full you won't be able to contain it!

And then, with what's overflowing out of that heart, look at your other relationships, beginning with your husband. He should be your very best earthly friend. I am so thankful that my husband and I have the friendship that we do. In all honestly, there is no one that I would rather spend my time with (sorry gals!) I miss him the minute he walks out the door in the morning until I get to kiss his wonderful face when he gets home in the evening. We watch movies together, go on walks and eat ice cream together, he paints my toenails, we play games, we shop and go out to eat together. I couldn't ask for a better friend and husband!

Now let me just say this- not every marriage looks the same. Every couple is different. So don't compare. I think it's pretty special that my husband paints my toenails and will go shopping with me but some of you wouldn't want your husband going anywhere near your toenails with Cozu-Melted In The Sun polish and not every man has the patience and sense of style that it takes to make a good shopping companion. Invest your time and energy into finding things that you enjoy doing together, find a thing or two that he likes to do that you can tolerate and do that with him. I actually went fishing with Dan last summer, which I know he was thrilled about. And I didn't have a bad time, either.



When I am working on my relationship with God and seeking him consistently and all is good in husband land, life is pretty darn sweet. There is, however, still this underlying longing for time with girl friends. Sometime I think I long for friends because I'm lonely but I'm realizing now that I have friends, what I need is TIME with friends. When I asked people what the biggest struggle in friendships was, a lot of them answered "time."

I have a solution for this but I think I'm going to let you chew on what I've said here for a day or two while I form my thoughts on the rest and I will do another post over the weekend. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on what I have here so far. Please, leave a comment below if you'd like!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scavenger Hunt

One day last week, the boys were feeling restless and I had just come across this post with scavenger hunt ideas so I decided to put together my own. I told the boys and 7 of the neighbor boys that after lunch, we'd all do a scavenger hunt.

Armed with a plastic bag, a list of items to find, and a crayon to cross off their list, the boys set off on their adventure.

 


I like free entertainment! If you're looking for something to do with your kiddos, this is a great thing that will keep them busy for a little while. AND scavenger hunts are so versatile and can be adapted in many ways. Do one with your kids some day- they'll love it!


 
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sidetracked!

This was not at all on my list of things to do yesterday. It has, however, been something I've been wanting to do. I forgot to take a before picture but here's the "in process" picture. All that stuff came out of the closet!

 
 
My vision was to create a space where I could have a work area and keep all of my stuff (craft stuff, important papers, my laptop, etc.) all in one place as opposed to strewn about the house. This was once Dan's office and when Emmett is old enough to go share a bedroom with one of the other boys, it will become Dan's office again. So, I figured if I had a space in Emmett's room now, eventually Dan would move his office back in and then I could do my thing at my area while he's working at his desk or drawing at the drafting table. Because we're weird like that and want to spend every possible waking minute together ;)
 
So, the obvious first step was to empty the closet. I found about 6 items of clothing that are E's current size that should be in his dresser. Bonus! I put all the clothes for him to grow into in a tote to go to the basement. There is also a small pile of things to sell/ donate. And once the rest went back in, it looked like this:



 
 
One bright idea I got from Organizing Made Fun was to use tags to label baskets/ bins. Here's a look at mine:



 
And then there is the pesky exercise ball which I love to workout with but my kids also love to play with and gosh darn it, IT'S NOT A TOY!!! ;) SO, since I wanted the ball put up and I needed a chair for my desk that's not a desk, I just threw it in on top of the shelf and when I want to sit and use my computer, I will sit on my ball. Great for my core and sanity because, after all, out of sight = out of mind, right?!
 


I'd like to find something else to do with my wedding dress but am at a loss. Any suggestions? My vision was to have a desk in here but I don't have a desk and I don't want to spend money on a desk so I decided to just use what was already there. Perfect! If only I had thought about it 4 months ago. This would have been even more perfect when I was up all night with a newborn!



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dinner in Review

Sitting here planning our menu for next week and I'm thinking about what we had to eat last week. Since I shared the menu and a couple of recipes on my blog, I thought it only fair to also share some revisions and reviews of the food.

First of all, every time I plan to make the Crock Pot No Boil Manicotti, I don't get it in the crock pot in time and end up just baking it in the oven. Really, the only difference is that I have to boil the noodles. Not a big deal, although I imagine filling hard noodles would be easier than filling floppy noodles that tend to tear. Since I wasn't doing the crock pot manicotti, I just winged the recipe. Here is what I did:

I boiled the noodles until most of the way done

Then I mixed 16 oz. ricotta with 2 c shredded mozzarella and some Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning from Tastefully Simple and put that into a Ziploc bag, cut off a corner, and piped it into the shells.

For the sauce, I pureed some tomatoes that I canned from our garden last year and mixed those with Mama Mia Marinara (also from Tastefully Simple but currently unavailable; I'm hoping they'll bring it back for fall/ winter). I poured the sauce over top and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes. Here's a pic of it getting ready to go into the oven:


 
 
It was so delicious! The Balsamic Chicken was also delicious. We had that with rice and the kids weren't crazy about it but Dan & I really liked it. I will definitely make it again but maybe when the boys are not here.
 
Hopefully you've gotten some good ideas from the last post and this one. Share in the comments what's on your menu for the next week and maybe I'll get some inspiration for my menu!
 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Menu Monday and a Meatball Recipe

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend and is well rested and ready to face the week!

A couple weeks ago, I decided that to make our Sundays more relaxing, I would start putting food in the crock pot before church so that when we get home from church and everyone is ravishingly hungry and the baby needs to be fed and I just want to get into my comfy clothes, food will be ready so everyone can eat when they want and I can slip into my comfy clothes and nurse the baby. Everyone's happy.

We finally returned to church this week after a few months off and surprisingly, I was prepared to do this. I was a little pressed for time but this recipe for Hawaiian meatballs is super easy to throw together! Of course I had to make the rice and carrots but if they were so starving that they couldn't wait, they easily could have eaten the meatballs without the other stuff. At least a few to hold them over.

 
For the rest of the week, our menu looks like this:
 
MONDAY: Meatball Leftovers
TUESDAY: Balsamic Chicken
THURSDAY: Burgers & Brats
FRIDAY: Leftovers
SATURDAY: Steak
 
Have a great week everyone!
 



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today's Wanderings


I was running errands today- you know, trying to fit everything in between baby feedings- and one of my stops was at a friend's house I'd only been to a couple of times. After wandering for a bit, I found her house, dropped off her goodies, then as I was driving away, I gloated to myself: "I can find my way anywhere if I wander for a while."

Then a thought popped into my head: "you can find your way through life if you wander, making a few wrong turns- eventually you'll get to your destination. BUT God has a PLAN, a map so to speak, for your life and when you follow it, you'll get to your destination so much quicker and easier!"

I am constantly seeking God's plan for my life and while I'm not sure what his complete plan for me is, what the final destination is (I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!) I do know that as long as I follow him, turn by turn- maybe more like a GPS than a map- I will get to my destination, the ultimate plan God has for me in the best way possible.

My thought for you today is don't wander; keep your eyes on God, trusting him to show you the way turn by turn.


 
 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

First Two Zucchini Recipes

 

Finally got some baking done today!

This Zucchini Chocolate Cake is one of my favorite recipes. It's very moist and tasty. My kids even like it! I, um, forgot the oil so I was a little nervous about how it would turn out but I really don't think it affected the end product.



Just pulled the Zucchini Bread out of the oven and it smells equally as tasty. I can't wait to try it!


 
 
Both of these recipes took the smaller of two zucchini that I had. If you get your hands on some zucchini this summer, I highly recommend trying these recipes!
 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini!

My dear, sweet neighbor gave me not one but two zucchini from her garden this past week. When her kids brought the first one over, I was ecstatic! I couldn't wait to get busy cooking and baking. I am pretty sure my husband thought I had lost it.

It was a hot week, though, and we spent a lot of time at the pool and as little time as possible with the stove and oven on.

The boys are gone for the weekend and we're looking at cooler temperatures so I plan to get my baking done soon. Me, the kitchen, and zucchini!

Here is what I will be making: chocolate zucchini cake, zucchini crisp, and zucchini bread.

I will post the recipes along with pictures tomorrow when I'm done creating!

Aren't They Beautiful?!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Morning Routine and Kids' Chores


Along with being huge on making lists, I need to have a routine. Actually, I don't know if it's the routine I need or the excuse to make another list. HA!

At any rate, I thought I would share what we've been doing lately. Here goes the list:

I usually stay in bed until Emmett wakes up (which was 6:30 this morning- yawn!) I get up and feed him and then we start our day with
  • Coffee
  • Breakfast
  • Devotions
  • older boys do one job, get dressed, make beds, brush teeth while I get the baby bathed and dressed
Pretty simple. After that, pretty much anything is fair game. It is summer, after all!



Right now, I do my own devotions and reading whenever I get some peace and quiet. Sometimes that's in the middle of the night, sometimes it's in the middle of the afternoon. I would like to find a routine when it comes to this. Much as I hate to admit it, I think the best way to accomplish this would be getting up earlier and at a set time but that would mean missing out on snuggle time and I'm just not sure I want to give that up.

Do you have a morning routine? What does it look like?

For the boys' chores, I took this post from Organizing Made Fun and tweaked it a bit to fit our needs. Well, maybe it was partially out of laziness. I didn't want to take time to make the cute cards she has so I used popsicle sticks.



I changed the "rules" a bit, too. They have six 15 minute sticks for screen time and they each have five jobs. Each day, they have to do one job after breakfast and then the stick goes in my jar. For every 15 minutes of screen time, they have to put a stick in my jar. When they're gone, they're done with screen time for the day. They also can't bank screen time. I haven't told them that yet, though, and they haven't brought it up. At night, I put all six back in the kids' jars for the next day. If they misbehave, I take away screen time or have them do a job out of their jar. When their jobs are done for the week, they start drawing out of my jar and hey, some might get done twice! There are also bonus screen time sticks for when they deserve a reward. The bonus sticks don't expire at the end of the day, they can save those up. And, if one is mean to the other, the one  who is being picked on can give his brother one of his jobs to do right then as a consequence. I can see now we're going to need more jobs in the jars!



The only glitch I've come across so far: yesterday, one of them was not listening to me so I had him go draw a stick out of his jar. His reply was "yippie! I get to clean the bathroom!" Yes, my boys like to clean the bathroom. Weeeiiiirrrddd.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Beauty


 

I came across this from The Mom Initiative in my Facebook news feed the other day and whoa, did it make me stop and think.I read it over and over again. Hmmm... If my inner beauty became my outer beauty, how would I look?... I'd be a mess, that's for sure! I'm kind of all over the place, as I imagine many of us are. I have a big heart, love to serve others, am compassionate. But I am also angry and mean and yell, too. This drives me absolutely bonkers. I have prayed about it and given it over to God a hundred times but it still manages to weasel its way back in there. 

In this blog post from Mom Heart, Amanda reminds us that we are God's masterpiece. It's hard to see myself as a masterpiece, that's for sure. Despite all my fears, failures, and faults, I am His masterpiece. How do we get this message from our head to our heart- to where we KNOW it and believe it to be true? Lean into God, let go of the fears, failures, and faults, focus on the victories and the goodness inside. Don't let the ugly mask the beauty. Work every day to overcome the obstacles, the not so pretty things on the inside. And don't get discouraged when those ugly things rear their heads, no one is perfect and we're always going to have something to fight against. Just keep fighting it and don't give in to it.

And, God, bless my husband and my kids as they put up with me while I deal with it and give me grace and patience to help them work through the things they struggle with.


French Press Mornings



Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Fitness Focus



I was doing some blog browsing this morning and came across this wonderful post about being lean. In the post, Molly asks "How lean do you want to be, and will you sacrifice what it takes to get there?" Whoa. Good question.

I've always strived to be lean. It's never happened. I get frustrated and angry, let it control my mood, and go to extremes to try and achieve leanness. But after reading that question and thinking on it for just a moment, I had an a-ha! moment. I have never achieved it because I've never been willing to make the sacrifice it would take to get there. Imagine that.

Then I gave it a little more thought, asking myself "so what sacrifices are you and are you not willing to make?"

I AM willing to SCHEDULE my workouts. They are a part of my routine, just like making dinner and vacuuming the carpets.

I AM willing to work out 4-5 times a week and to give it all I've got.

I AM willing to eat fairly healthily by eating smaller, more frequent meals and not skipping meals. Also by drinking more water.

I am NOT willing to be a food Nazi, counting calories and denying myself treats on occasion.

And since food is 80% of the battle and exercise only 20%, therein lies the reason I will never be super lean.

I like to work out and I've always made it part of my routine to ensure that it gets done. I also like food. I like to eat out and I like to indulge sometimes. I'm not willing to give that up.

I've had my epiphany. Now to come to terms with it.

From the post on being lean, I stumbled on this post about fitspo and how awful it is. And you know what, I totally agree. I sometimes find it inspiring but more often than not, it discourages me because I then start to compare myself and push myself to achieve something that I'm never going to achieve which bums me out because I can never reach my goal.

Jen also poses this question: "When do we come to peace with the fact that being healthy doesn't necessarily mean we'll be really lean, and being really lean doesn't mean we're healthy?"

I actually was pretty lean two years ago. I loved to admire the outline of my muscles in my arms when I was blow drying my hair. All of the clothes that are currently too snug on me were falling off of me. I weighed 20 pounds less than what I did last year when I got pregnant for Emmett, 35 pounds less than I do currently. I wasn't healthy. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, I was working out a lot, and had other unhealthy habits.

My new focus is to let go of the idea of being ultra lean, to be healthy, eat as healthy as possible, and workout often.

What are your fitness goals? What are you willing to give up or not willing to give up in your quest to reach these goals?



 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Super Easy!


Two easy things I did yesterday:

Crock Pot Creamy Black Bean Chicken from Chef In Training

and organized the bathroom drawers. Picked up drawer organizers at Target for $1 each. I'm sure they have some similar ones at the dollar store. Here are the before and after pictures:

 
 




















Now I'm wishing I had bought a 3rd for the boys' bathroom.

The chicken was so good! I've made it before and took it to the in-laws when people were over swimming and it seemed to get everyone's approval there, too. The only one who has an issue with it is my middle child who doesn't like beans. For him, I just pick them out ;) It's so easy and tasty and truly a tried and loved recipe! I hope you try it, too!!

In the crock, getting ready to cook

Just slap it on a tortilla, add cheese, salsa,
cream cheese- whatever- and devour!

 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Two Months!


I am not kidding when I say I didn't think I would make it through the first month. I think it nearly killed me. No joke. But here we are, my babe is two months old and by golly I made it!!!

Two Months Old!

The first month, I was tired and sore. I could hardly muster up the energy to nurse Emmett. Mother's Day was bittersweet. The worst ever and the best ever at the same time. Around five weeks, he started only waking once during the night. That made a world of difference. I started to feel like a human being again. By six weeks, he was sleeping all night. Phew! Just in time for summertime and the older kids home all day, which means no more naps for me.

We are closing in on nine weeks now and things are great! Emmett is such a good, happy baby! He is so content and laid back. He's been on field trips, to field day at the school, on multiple shopping trips, to the park, on walks, to the pool. You name it. And he just goes with the flow. Of course he sleeps through a good portion of it but when he's not sleeping, he's smiling. If he gets fussy, it's because it's time to sleep again.

Sleeping by the Pool!
It was definitely an uphill climb but as he sleeps better and is more alert and interactive, smiling and cooing when he's awake, I see the fruits of that and know that it was so worth it!



Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Goal for this Week: WALK!

Phew! It is hot outside! And I just got back from a walk which makes it seem even hotter. I don't notice the heat when I'm hibernating in my air-conditioned house ;)

Since I am trying my very hardest to get back into my workout routine slowly and not overdo it, and since it is so easy to make excuses,  I made a goal for myself to walk every day this week. So far, I'm three for three. YEA!

One day when I took off, thunderstorms were on the way and I felt six raindrops (yes, I counted them) before I got to the end of our street but I kept walking. It never did rain. How easy it would have been for me to say "oh, it's going to rain, I'd better go home" and turn around! Today, it's boiling hot but I wasn't going to let that ruin the walk. The older boys wanted to go to the school and play and the baby loves riding in the stroller so off we went!

How is it that kids don't seem to notice the heat? I'm sure I was like that once upon a time- kind of like swimming in the pool- I used to swim in the lake, no matter what temperature and now, I will only swim in a pool and only if it's over 85 degrees. What happens to us as we get older?!

I digress.

It was a beautiful day for a walk, quality time was spent with the kids, and I am one day closer to goal completed and stepping it up a notch with my workouts. I'm just glad I'm not the one who was walking with NINE kids, one as young as probably 15 months old. Yeah, I saw that. For real. Amazing!

What are your fitness goals? Do you find it hard to not make excuses? Be encouraged, you can do it! Just keep plugging away!