Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in Spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Isn't wonderful to know that of all the many things God is, close to the brokenhearted is one of them? It doesn't matter why we are brokenhearted, God draws near to us. It might be a seemingly small reason that can set you off; a tough day at home with your children, a day where nothing goes right, unfulfilled expectations or the pangs of loneliness. It doesn't matter how we got to this point, to God, a hurting heart is a heart that needs love, a heart that needs Him.

If today you find yourself brokenhearted or your spirit broken down, run to Him. He won't minimize your pain, expect justification, explanation or a promise to be stronger tomorrow. He just wants to hold you, His dear child.

Let God hold you. Let Him love you. Let Him save you. No strings attached.~

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. —Psalm 46:10
photo credit: pinterest http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3f/6e/f3/3f6ef38f6d0399480f5d9faaa2658e0a.jpg

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Planning a No Spend Week

Planning a No Spend Week or: How to Save Extra Money when You Don't have Extra Money

As a large(ish) family living on one income, I’m always looking for ways to save money and lower our weekly and monthly expenses. Through talking to other woman, reading books, blogs and my own trial and error process, God has blessed us with many different ways to save!
I recently have been using another method to save money, called a no spend week. My no spend week is a chance to save a little money in addition to whatever Daniel brings in. Admittedly, my no spend week savings go towards… “fun” money. 

We often have a little extra left over at the end of each week, and unless there is something we are in need of or some unforeseen bill or expenses, that’s our “extra” or fun money for the weekend. We don’t do much, normally it’s a weekend breakfast out as a family, gas money to take the Jeeps out to the beach or date night money. So although there is that extra amount, I hate spending our family fun weekend money on say, a new rug. Daniel always encourages me to use what we have if I find something I like (he is so generous and giving!) but I know that the kids and us will have more memories from being at the beach for the day, than say me getting on them for stepping on my new rug with muddy shoes! So, my no spend week is a way for me to have a little fund that I can use to buy things for the home or keep hidden away for a rainy day,  it’s a mini savings that won’t take away from the money we put into savings or take away from our weekend fun money budget!

What is a no spend week?:

* A no spend week is where you do just that, don’t spend anything that week! 
Normally each week I carefully budget our $160 to account for all meals for the five of us for the week plus groceries like toilet paper, diapers, pet food, ect. I plan our weekly menu and shop for that week.

* During my “no spend week” I don’t go shopping for anything but some fresh fruit and some milk. That’s it! So for my first week of trying out this method, I saved myself about $140.00! Of course you could take it one step farther and buy nothing, but I get very picky about milk and we eat so much fruit that it would be almost impossible for us not to buy any fruit in a week.

Planning your no spend week:

 Now I say that my first week I saved $140.00 but that took 4-6 weeks of preparation. It‘s a simple plan, you just need to be diligent about keeping stock of what you have and not use the food you are preparing for your week of not buying anything!

I’m sure there are many people who could do this in less time or on a bigger scale, but this plan is specifically for anyone who doesn’t plan on spending anything more than they normally would in a week’s time.

Here is step by step how to plan your no spend week:

Week 1-4

* Buy what’s on sale! This seems obvious, but pay attention to anything that is at a super low price and stock up! If fruit is on sale (and often there is something at it’s peak of ripeness so the price is dramatically cut down.) buy it and freeze! Sale prices on specific items seem to rotate every 4-6 weeks. Our local grocery store has a sale on our favorite bread once a month or so, instead of $1.88 it’s $0.88 that week. So I always buy twice what we need, so I can stash a weeks worth of bread in the freezer for later but I still haven’t spent a penny more than I normally would have.

*  Check out the clearance carts! Lots of small town grocery stores will have a cart or part of an aisle dedicated to clearanced out food. (It’s often just discontinued items or dented cans) this can be a hit or miss, but if you check them every week for 4-6 weeks and stash away at home anything you buy from the clreaenced aisle, you normally have a nice little stash of food for cheap!

*Always divide up your snacks! I keep 2 plastic shoes boxes in my pantry. One at eye level and one larger sized one (with a lid) way on top in back of the pantry where no one can see it! When I buy a box of nutri grain bars, I dump them all into the main shoe box and stash 2 in my secret shoe box. If I buy pop tarts, all but one pack goes in the snack shoe box. When I buy mini pretzels or animal crackers, ect. I divide the bag up into a bunch of sandwich size ziplock bags and always stash a bag away. At the end of the month for my so spend week, I always have plenty of filler snacks on hand!

*Freezer meals! This is one of the biggest ways to save money! In order to have enough dinners for your no spend week, you have to squeeze out about 1 to 2 extra dinners a week from your normal budget (without spending extra) . This can be done fairly easy as long as you are willing to get a bit creative! For example, If I’m making meatballs, I add a little oatmeal and some cooked rice to the recipe. Because of that I can then add in extra tomato paste, egg and anything else the recipe calls for. So one pound of ground meat can quickly turn into 2 pounds worth of meatballs. (and they taste just as delicious, I promise!) IN fact, I almost never cook ground beef by itself anymore. By adding finely shredded carrots and onions, you can gain about an additional half pound of “meat” from one pound of ground beef, plus your sneaking in carrots! When I do that, I divived the meat portion for whatever Im making in half and freeze the rest of the meat for tacos.

French bread pizzas are another good cheap and yummy freezer meal. You can normally pick up French bread for cheap on the bakery sale rack. (once again, not spending anything extra) Then just slice the bread lengthways, top with sauce cheese and whatever toppings you have and bake half and freeze the other half for later!

So that’s how you squeeze out extra dinners, just 1-2 a week and before you know it you have a stash quickly built up!

* I also do this with breakfast! Make extra pancakes, freeze half, make extra French toast, freeze half. Using the extra ingredients doesn’t take away enough from our pantry to send me to the store for anything more, but that is at least 2 breakfasts worth sitting in the freezer.

Week 3

By the last 2 weeks of prep, I start to take stock of what I have in my pantry and what I have already saved specifically for my no spend week. I build a menu based off of that then make a list of what meals or snacks I’ll still need. I don’t need much and can easily squeeze what I need out of the budget for the next 2 weeks.

Week 4

Make hay while the sun shines! Basically, if you’re like us, there are always some weeks you have more money than others. The weeks that hubby got a little overtime or less bills were due that week, that’s when I take the few extra dollars and buy an extra thing of toilet paper or an extra package of diapers and stash away for later. With all this meal planning don’t forget other household necessities!

Week 5

On the last week I make sure we have the bulk of the freshest food, like extra fresh vegetables and lots of eggs. We eat eggs often, (scrambled eggs, deviled eggs, hard boiled, in cooking…) so I’ll buy a pack of 5 dozen this week (around $9.00) and that will be more than enough for this week’s menu and next week.

Week 6

Bask in all of your hard work and money saved! Since my menu is already planned out, I don’t even need to do that this week, yet alone grocery shopping! Like I said, I do keep a little grocery money on hand ($20.00 more or less) but the rest is there to do what we want! Not only that, but I didn’t realize what a break it would give me the rest of the week as well. Other than sometimes whipping up a side dish, I really didn’t cook all week! I would pull a dinner out of the freezer the night before and stick it in the fridge, then throw it in the oven right before dinner. No prep, no cooking, no dishes yet we still had a good home cooked meal each night.
Breakfast was just as easy! The weekend was pretty much breakfast casserole or quiche and during the week if we wanted French toast, I just would use the toaster to dethaw and heat it up!

As long as you are willing to put in a little extra effort with meal planning and have some patience, you can easily save $150 or more depending on your weekly grocery budget. This has really helped me save some money, what are some of your favorite sneaky ways to save money?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Before & After Entry

I have so many posts rolling around in my head! As usual though, things are always busy and finding time to sit down and write posts for my blog usually take a back seat to other things. like, Pinning on Pinterest, I'm sorry to say :) But here we go with the first of many posts on..... how home renovations have been going! (and by renovation, mean lots of paint :) But seeing my friend (and cousin... in law! ) share all of her inspiring home projects have inspired me to share and come up with my own!

The first project to share.....
The Entryway!

I forget how old this house is (we rent) but I can tell you, many, MANY renovations were done in the 1970 and 1980s! And I don't mean the cool, vintage vibe of the 1970s. More like dark gloomy colors and lots of stained, peeling wallpaper.


Now, cost is a big factor in the changes to our home. We only plan on being here a short while. So in addition to saving for our dream home (That, God willing, will be a nice piece of Texas land to put a pond in and have a cow :) We don't want to get "to comfortable" renting and seeing this as home. But, after living in an apartment for 5 years and never doing much to that, we really want to make our home really feel like "Our home" and reflect us.

I'll be share some of the deatils about the decor, but this is how our entryway currently looks:


So much more lighter, refreshing, and airy! I still have many things I want to do, like paint the trim and get a mirror and some larger pictures. But right now, I'm really just liking the airy and more "us" feel of everything. :) 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Day in Our Home and Some Recipes!

So tonight I have been unable, or just  unwilling to go to sleep. Although it's been a long crazy day and I'm exhausted and my feet hurt, I just lay in bed not wanting to sleep. It's not even that my mind is racing, I feel perfectly peaceful, calm and collected. But that's just it... the calmness! The Peace! The still gentle quietness. I know once I close my eyes it will all slip away the moment I fall asleep. And although my sleep will most likely be a restful one, it still seems like I sleep for a moment and all of the sudden the alarm goes off and another whirl wind of a day starts! 

Today was pretty "average" in all the wonderfulness and tragedy that comes with staying home with young children. So in case you were wondering, this is what a average weekday looks like at our house....

5:00 Wake up! Hubby gets ready for work while I make coffee and prepare his lunch. We get to talk and snuggle just a few minutes before he is out the door! I also let out the dogs and feed that kittens and dogs.

5:45 Shower, get geared up for the day, make our bed. Drink coffee! Eat some peanut butter.

6:15 Spend some time with God praying, giving thanks and reading His word. This is so very necessary for me! This quite time in the mornings with my bible and coffee is what keeps me grounded for the day and is the well in which I draw hope and patience for later on!
You know those woman are so patient and slow to wrath? Come to find out, that's not me....  But God picks up where I let off!


7:00  Quick check on emails, blogs, facebook, and Pinterest!

7:30 First girl wakes up! The second girl isn't far behind! (One always seems to need a little more sleep than the other. :) We all lay around a little and usually watch Micky Mouse Clubhouse on the couch together.

8:00 I make pancakes! I make all that we need for today plus what's left in the rest of the box. That way I can freeze the rest for a day when we are short on time!

8:30 Caleb is up! He was up a bit ago but seemed content so I let him be so I could finish making breakfast. Once I go to get him though, I find out he has peed through EVERYTHING! 

8:45 The baby is clean and the bedding is all tossed in the laundry room. I make the girls pancakes and hold Caleb while he drinks some milk. (although he is weaned, he still like to sit on me most mornings cuddled up and drink his milk.) The girls finish their plates, I get them seconds and make Caleb up his plate of pancakes.

9:15 Clean breakfast up, Go hang up laundry on the clothes line, start a new load of laundry. We all spend time together in the living room playing/ I write out my goals for the day. We all eat a snack of fresh blueberries! 

10:15 Suntan and bug spray on! We all go outside to play before it get's too hot out. We fill the girl's pool up so they can play in it later. We play with the hose and chase each other around the yard. Caleb finds handfuls of mud and proudly brings them to me :) The Girls dance in the water :)

11:00 Inside, dry off, Caleb gets changed and put down for a nap.

- The girls and I clean the living room top to bottom. We pick up and put things away. They take turns dusting and washing the windows. 
- The girls pick up the mess in the hallway/ foyer area. I sweep
- I tidy up the bathroom and sweep. Girls feed the pets and clean the litter box (Diana loves that job 0_o )
- Go outside to take the laundry of the line, fold it, hang up a new load and start another load of laundry!

12:00 Eat lunch! Mostly fresh fruit and sandwiches for the girls.

12:45 Do a little school! (Very, very laid back school. But learning none the less! :) 

- Practice letters and sounds
- Practice writing out letters
- Do a few pages from pre K and Kindergarten workbooks.

Us girls just talk, write in our notebooks and play.

1:30 More suntan lotion! (Brutal South Texas sun!) 

I bring fitness and cooking magazines along with my pen and notebook. The girls swim and play in their pool while I plan my freezer cooking.
I bought extra food last week so I can cook a bunch of extra dinners for convenience and in anticipation of my no spend week. (More to come on that later!) 

With 9 pounds of chicken breasts and a pound of ground beef I plan my dinners:

- 2 9x13 pans of lasagna roll ups


- 2 9x13 pans of wild rice and chicken with slivered almonds


- 2 9x13 pans chicken, green beans and potatoes

- 1 gallon bag of chicken breasts, onions and vegetables for the crock pot

- 1 gallon bag of lightly breaded rosemary and Parmesan chicken strips.

Since I pulled out all the meat earlier in the day and everything is just about de thawed, surely I can whip up most of those meals in an hour or so after coming inside... right? :) 

I almost call my mom and sisters, but instead spend time talking to the girls while writing out my list :)

2:15 Come inside. dry off! have a snack. I hear Caleb up but wait to get him until the girls go down.

2:30 The girls get tucked into bed for quite time and spend some down time cuddling with their kittens.

 I get Caleb after putting them down. Diaper change then lunch for the little man! 

After getting cleaned up I spread toys on the floor and we play with cars then I scoop him up and cuddle and play and swing him into the air and be silly!
I can't but help think of the dishes and my dinners. But remind myself that the reason I stay at home with my kids isn't to have a perfectly clean home and a bunch of things accomplished (though being at home instead of working helps me get more done around here! ) The reason I stay at home is to lavish much love on all my children! The rest will always be there.

3:15 The girls get up. All the kids eat a snack. They play and hang out while I divide my attention between playing/checking on them and cleaning the kitchen and dining room and do all the dishes.


The dishes, they smile at me!

4:00 PBS Wild Kratts starts ( Two 30 minute animal shows, the kids love it!) They watch tv while I start browning the hamburger meat, slicing the chicken breasts up and cook a few batches of lasagna noodles. (I need a bigger pot!)

I prepare the filling and lay out the pans for the lasagna dinner. The kid's show is almost done so I have the girls help me! I knew it would be messy and take longer, but decided to go for it anyway.

I brought Caleb's play pen into the kitchen and set up 2 little "stations" so each girl could help with one pan and I stood in the middle to help them.

Oh My.....

I knew this would be messy, but the mess far exceeds even what I anticipated! The girls have food everywhere, they are starting to fight and Caleb's fussing has turned into crying. The dogs are chasing the cats and fighting over all the food on the floor and totally under foot.

5:45 Dinner finally ends up in the oven and I freeze the other pan. The kids get cleaned up I give them a snack because I know dinner is going to be late and then clean up the mess in the kitchen. (Most of it, anyway)

(Random things that often happen when I go to the bathroom)

6:00 Hubby is home! Kids get crazy we try to talk over them and then dinner is done!

6:30 Dinner time!

7:00 We finish dinner, Daniel chases the kids around the living room while I sit and watch them all and laugh. Daniel and I literally sit and talk for 10 minutes before the kids start to meltdown. He turns on the tv, they all chill. I start the bathwater for all the kids to take a bath and gather dry diapers and pajamas. By this time the kids are calm and hubby has fallen asleep on the couch. (He worked almost 12 hours outside in the 100* heat! Poor man :( )


7:30 Bath time (Crazy time!)

8:00 Kids are all out of the bath, dried and ready for bed. Hubby is still lightly sleeping so I go ahead and tuck the kids in. I put Caleb down and give him some milk and sing him a song and then go to the girls room, tuck them in and pray with them. Diana's prayer is that she is so thankful we got to do school and Ellie was so happy we got to play outside :)

I put away away dinner and prepare Daniel's lunch for the next day. I take care of the dogs and change into comfy pajamas myself. I check my emails and hubby wakes up!

8:45 Although still somewhat early, we are both exhausted and decide to get ready for bed. By the time we actually finish showers, talking, laying out clothes for the next day get something to drink ect... it's 9:15 when we actually go to bed.

9:20 The hubs is already asleep and I'm laying in the peace and quite. I can hear the bull frogs outside and the moon light is shining bright and streaming through the window into our room. So peaceful! I feel as if I could lay here and enjoy the quietness all night. But 2 minutes in and I'm already feeling myself fall asleep. Except, I'm really not. I have gotten out of bed and have been on line for 2 hours! So before much more time passes, good night all!

                                     source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/384846730627826191/

*Next Day Edit*
Note to self: When you're exhausted, go stinkin to bed! There is a reason why God lets us feel peaceful and tired at night, it's so we can go to bed and get some sleep and not be dead tired and grumpy the next day! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Houston Ballet: Swan Lake

This past Saturday Daniel's brother Josh, hubby and I went to the Houston Ballet's performance of Swan Lake. Oh. My. Goodness. It was completely breathtaking! I have been to 8-9 professional ballet performances between The Milwaukee Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet (Chicago) and the Houston Ballet. Houston'a Swan Lake was by far my favorite! The opportunity to go came at just the right time too.

Lately I have been feeling a little, homesick? I guess that's the word? That isn't completely right, because Texas is home and I'm not totally distraught like I have been in the past missing my family, friends, and all things familiar. But I have been missing everyone/everything none the less. So when Josh randomly asked if we wanted to join him at the ballet that weekend, we said yes! It was the perfect sort of thing to get out of a kind of gloomy mood and have something fun for the weekend planned. Houston is still a very "new" city to me, so I love when an opportunity arises to go do something fun in Houston!

Also, I  was finally able to wear my headband of strands of twisted crystal rhinestones that I bought and haven't been able to wear yet. I wish I had a better picture! But, believe it or not I hardly took any pictures! We had so much fun talking in the car and jamming out to music that I did't have time to worry about my camera! That, and you can only take so many selfies when other people are around ;)

The ballet was at the Wortham Center, which is just the most beautiful and perfect place to watch a performance. It's in the heart of downtown, and with it being an evening performance, the downtown city lights just seemed to make everything dazzle. 

Photo credit: iaahouston.com

Photo credit: downtownhouston.com

I always get so, so excited for, well, things in general. :) But when I'm eagerly watching the clock as each minute passes and I'm waiting for something to start... well I can hardly stand it! You could tell everyone was excited! I mean, most people. I was excited for the actual ballet, Josh was excited to hear a full, uncut score of Tchaikovsky, and Daniel, well he was excited because he loves to make me happy and spend time with his little brother. :) 

It seemed like forever as we eagerly waited in our seats (which, by the way were the very highest and farthest back you could get, and still $50.00 each!) 

As soon as the curtain raised and the music started, Oddette came gliding in on a boat surrounded by mist. The whole stage was flooded with with deep blue and green lights and there were beautiful, eery trees all around. The music just soared from the orchastra and I settled back into my seat. I could just tell this was going to be stunning!

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/houstonballet/swan-lake/

For a good synopsis of Swan Lake, fee free to go here ----> Swan Lake 
But in short:

Swan Lake is about a beautiful maiden named Oddette who gets turned into a swan by an evil night named Rothbert. She is a swan by day and a maiden by night.

After a successful day of hunting, the prince, Seigfreid is reminded by his mother the Queen that this is the last day of his youth. He will need to choose a wife at the ball tomorrow and take on the responsibility of adulthood. He is introduced to four beautiful princesses, none that he falls in love with. He runs deep into the woods alone that night.

 Deep in the forest that evening along the edge of the lake, Siegfried sees a young maiden.  She is beautiful, and he falls instantly in love.  However, she is terrified, and begs him to leave, to no avail.  Charmed by his bravery, Odette finds herself falling in love with him.  As the sun begins to rise, the evil knight Rothbart summons Odette.  She goes to him and is transformed into a swan and flies away.  Soon thereafter, a large flock of swans lands on the lake.  Siegfried’s friend and some hunters from the royal party see the flock and prepare to shoot, but the Prince intervenes and orders them to leave.  Siegfried notices that one of the swans is Odette and he professes his love to her.

The next night the Queen once again hosts a ball and this time, the evil knight Rothbert arrives, with Odile. Who is the Black swan and mirror image of Odette. Prince Seigfreid is tricked into thinking the dark swan is Odette, professes his love to her only to realize he was fooled and runs after Odette, who was at the ball and he begs for forgiveness. 

The sun is starting to rise and the maidens turn back into swans. Odette is swept back up into the sky along with Rothbert and the black swans. Prince Seigfried, desperate to be with his love, grabs his cross bow to shoot Rothbert. He misses and instead hits Odette. She falls into Prince Seigfreid's arms as a maiden, the curse broken. She dies in his arms. Seigfreid picks her up, holds her close and walks into the lake, drowning himself .

So yeah, not the happiest of stories. But, wow, it sure does make for a dramatic and beautiful ballet! 

It really was hauntingly beautiful. The dancers acted just as much as they danced, you were just drawn into the story as they danced and swirled across the stage. 

Photo Credit:http://www.pinterest.com/houstonballet/swan-lake/

All the costumes seemed like they walked right out of the page of a story book! The colors were fantastic and everything has just the right bit of whimsy.

Photo credit:http://www.pinterest.com/houstonballet/swan-lake/

The skill of the dancers was just amazing! It's one thing to be able to do an amazing and technically difficult move here or there, but each dance was just one amazing feat after another. Swan Lake is actually considered the most technically difficult ballet ever written and choreographed! 

Odette and her prince danced a very convincing couple! The love and tenderness in which they showed on stage made every beautiful, gliding movement so romantic!

photo Credit: unknown google image search

Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/houstonballet/swan-lake/

It was just a beautiful, beautiful story told through dance and some of Tchaikovsky's best work! It was also very long. Often they will cut down the music for swan lake, but this time they kept the whole original score. The ballet was 3 hours long (with 2 short intermissions) and I just loved it!

Since we went to the later showing at 7:30, we didn't even get out to the car until after 11:00pm We were also starving as we made our way back home. Of course not much was open, and despite being midnight, iHop was packed. So we settled for a classy dinner at Taco Bell :)

This last weekend was just so fun! I really do love this city and state and can't wait until the next time we get to see another ballet!

Monday, June 2, 2014

(Not) Losing It: Struggling With the Baby Weight. Part 2

OK, so like I was starting to explain in my last post (before getting a bit off track!) Although I'm happy and free, I'm still carrying around extra baby weight. Quite a bit of it. I eat pretty healthy. Extremely lean and healthy almost carb free meals for breakfast and lunch, decent dinners, and sugar is considered a treat that I don't indulge in to often! I mean, not as often as I used to anyway. ;)

I do pilates, rarely sit down during the day, sleep well, ect... but the weight is just staying put! There are weeks that I do exercise a lot more, but that will literally take up all my free time. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but my hour in the mornings is bible devotion/sleeping in when I need too (not past 7:30 or 8:00 though!) 
Evenings are family time. I have tried staying up after everyone is in bed asleep, but I'm either so exhausted that I can't make it through a session, or what usually happens, I become totally awake, get wound up, stay up and then become crabby the next morning. I still will do that now and then, but night time is not a good long term solution for me! 

I have tried working out while the kids are up, but in a different room, but with a 5,4, and 1 year old, I'm interrupted so much it's hard to keep my heart rate up for longer than a few minutes!

Caleb takes 2 naps during the day. The first one is at 10:30. This is school/me and the girls time. So I won't change that! And then during his second nap, I have the girls read or color quietly on their beds for 45 minutes. That way, if they need it they will end up falling asleep, but regardless that's 45 minutes I know that I get each day to get things done. Of course the girls will try to get up, but usually that's just my quite time.
That's when I will balance the checkbook, make phone calls, go online, pinterest, ect... And let me tell you, that 45 minutes go fast! Often I spend that time just cleaning and getting things done too. So, I guess if I *really* wanted to, I could exercise my little heart out then... and I have for weeks at a time, but spending all my emotionally "quite" time doing cardio, well... makes my heart sad. lol I knowI I know! Being good to your body should make you feel good, and it does, but I need a little time during the day to recharge and have a few minutes to work on my interests (like photography and photo editing!)  before hubby gets home, because then our night is just in fast forward until we all go to bed.

So I'm left with a choice, how much do I dedicate my time and energy to working out and counting each calorie? I want to continue to try to make as many healthy choices as I can each day, but how much do I want to push myself? And why do I need to push myself? Sometimes I worry it's vanity, but other times, each pound seems to drag my 5'3" frame down so much I feel like I'm carrying 100. (Living in a southern, high humidty climate dose not help!) I think about losing weight every day, many times, everyday. I feel like I get way to obsessed about it, and I have been really trying to accept that right now, maybe losing a lot of weight is just not going to happen in this season of life right now. Maybe  I need to accept that I have a few extra pounds, enjoy my young children, be glad my life is filled with so much joy, and get on with life.
Other days, I'm so totally exhausted, I feel like crap and I'm still at times wearing maternity clothes ( I have been for almost 5 years :( how embarrassing) and I cringe whenever I see a picture of myself. I feel slow, tired, and out of shape. 

I know there is a healthy balance between these two, but I'm having a really hard time finding it. Especially when I see so many other moms lose the weight, I wonder how I don't. Is it genetics? Age, what?!?! What am I doing so wrong?

Anyway, I was standing in line at walmart the other day. And granted, I was wearing one of the said maternity tank tops, so that probably didn't help. But as I was having my things checked out the older lady behind me asked "when is little one due?" "what??" I was in my own little world, and totally off guard and didn't even totally catch what she said, so she motioned to my belly and asked again" when is little one due?!"
Oh Lord... As she stood there with now her and her husband smiling at my belly I realized she thought I was pregnant. I was so humiliated. I just stood there for a moment, mortified as now her, her husband and the cashier all stood there waiting for my response. "Oh... Uh... " I should just tell them I'm not pregnant, just fat. then maybe they'll feel bad, let it go and I can get out of here. " I opened my mouth and before I knew what happened next I blurted out "I'm 12 weeks" Lord, forgive me for lying.... "Well! Your mighty big for only 12 weeks! "oh... it's my fourth, so... (Oh God! Another lie! I'm sorry Lord!) at this the cashier and lady in line proceeded to make comments on have I figured out what causes pregnancy and tried to go into birth control options for me to consider, at which point I grabbed my bags, just laughed and walked out of there as quickly as I could.
I felt just pissy and mad as I walked through the parking lot and into the jeep, but after I shut the door. I burst into tears. I cried the whole way home. 

Long story short... I was hurt, but I knew not to let one person totally ruin my whole night and just asked God to help me let it go and not become obsessed about it. I did proceed to have a good night, but I do feel like it confirms in my head that I don't just feel heavy, I look it. 

I haven't ever wanted to talk about my weight loss efforts on here because, I keep thinking this is just a phase and I'll get over it quickly. And maybe I'll talk about it after I lose all the weight and can share a success story. But now I feel like I want to share.

I think being accountable to my blog will help me stay on track to eating clean. I have always used lists, journals and notebooks to help me stay on track. So I think this will not only perhaps help me stay on track, but maybe let other people know they are not alone in trying to lose the weight!

This life is too short and to fleeting for anyone to judge their value or worth on a stinkin number on the scale, but I'm all for feeling healthy and filling your body with good things! 

So, here is to a fresh start of eating healthy and gaining more energy (and less weight!) 

Friday, May 30, 2014

(Not) Losing It: Struggling With the Baby Weight

Let me just preface this by saying that this turned into such a long post covering more that one subject, that I'll finish this post in a second part later :) Second part here is here ---> part 2

Well, as I was talking about in my last post, summer is upon us and in full swing, at least as far as the weather in concerned. Every day this next week is in the mid 80's sometimes hitting 90* and the humidity level is, as always, just off the charts down here. This is all fine and wonderful, I do love the warmth! But it brings attention more and more with each hotter day to my weight.

Since having Caleb (my 3rd baby) I have had a very uphill struggle with losing the baby weight.

5 years ago after the birth of my first daughter, I had gained quite a bit of weight (45 pounds!) Part of it was pregnancy itself, indulging in my pregnancy cravings, and still in the "newlywed" phase of our marriage I was cooking large, rich meals. But, after giving birth I lost all but 13 of the 45 pounds in the first 4 months. That was such a great start that I just planned on continuing to work out when I could and drop the rest of the weight and tone up!

Of course, most of you know that at only 4 months post pardum I became pregnant with my second daughter. It was such an exciting time! I gained another 30 pounds on top of that 13 though. Then, after the birth of Ellie, post pardum depression hit me, hard.

I have dealt with depression on and off a lot of my life. Thankfully, I know Jesus Christ as my own, personal Savior. As long as I keep my eyes on Him, I'm safe, happy, content, and joy filled. He fills my heart with joy and is a shelter from any storm that is happening on the outside. When I can feel the waves of depression coming on, I go to the one source of true comfort, my God. And the one place where I can get 100% good advice and wise words, the Bible. These two put my life into perspective. God's word banishes fear from my mind, gives peace to my heart and instills a joy so complete this world can't take it away!

The problem is when I start to try to figure out problems on my own.... when I don't run to God but run to Google, when I don't focus on His word, but my own problems. When my heart feels so heavy I reach down inside myself, instead of up towards God for strength. Of course, my strength fails every time, so I only get more depressed, more withdrawn, and deeper into places where I don't want to go. 

Anyway, my old enemy depression hit me full force, literally hours after Ellie was born. The first day home from the hospital, I spent almost the entire night (when not nursing a baby) in my closet, door shut, bawling my eyes out.
At this same time, Daniel's hours at work were cut dramatically, we fell behind with bills, money became extremely tight and Daniel was fighting his own battle feeling incredibly home sick for Texas and missing his family.
Up until this point in our marriage, I would go to Daniel to help my feel better. Not only my best friend, but he himself is so close to God he always just gave the best advice and could make me feel better. But, with us both struggling and hurting on the inside, with nothing left to give the other, we both felt let down and alone. As you can imagine, fights ensued and the newlywed stage came to an abrupt end. 

I knew the answer to my depression was to run to God, but it was like I had fallen so deep so quick, I felt enveloped by my depression and was to weak to fight for joy. 

I felt pretty hopeless, despite knowing where my hope was found. I felt like I had tried to reach out to God.... but just couldn't do any more than I was doing, and just really gave up. The thing about God though, is if you're His, He's yours forever. And even when we let go of Him, He never let's go of us. He might allow us to go through things, but He's never really left us. He finds ways to bring us back to Him and spring new life in the winter that our hearts are in.

God used one of my very dearest and closet best friends Becky to do just that. Becky and I have been friends now for 21 years(!) Going through phases where we saw each other often and not so often. We hadn't gotten together very recently, but here I was with 2 little children and she was pregnant with her third, so we were both busy. But, she reached out and reached out to me inviting us over. Of course anyone dealing with depression knows that getting together with anyone and trying to muster up a happy facade just sounds like just the most monumentous task, so you refuse.

But finally, I had run out of reasons not to go... so packed up the kids and came over for a visit. 
That one afternoon at Becky's house was like a ray of a warm sunshine after a dark and horrible storm. I wasn't completely over my struggle, but getting together with my beautiful friend left me feeling energized, hopeful, and not so alone.
That afternoon, Becky's peaceful joy was so evident, that I couldn't help but be inspired. I think she would think it's funny that I would describe an afternoon at her house as "peaceful."  But the funny thing about peace is that it can take many forms, and doesn't always need to be noiseless! Despite the craziness and chaos of having all of our littles together, she has such a beautiful and quite spirit, that God really used her to reach me.
We started getting together more often. We would share stories, recipes, ideas, ect. We could share and lift each other up as we confided about struggles with children, being good wives, and family things. The thing about Becky that I love is that she can be happy and share her love of her family, but can also be transparent about what's going on her life and share her frustrations. She is just real! 
The weeks went by and turned into months, and I started to let go of things and God picked them up, took care of them and restored my peace and my joy. I recommitted my life to Him, and found myself turning back into the joyful, happy woman that I like to be. With me not so invested on my self, my relationship with my children, and especially my husband once again flourished. Joy abounded in our home and peace was restored to even better than it was before!

Remember, this joy wasn't due to anything I knew or did, it was simply letting God take the life I so feebly was trying to hold onto.  I was a christian and knew God already, but sometimes we fall or slip, because we're human and that happens. No one is immune from heart ache and sin. But the difference between doing it alone and having God; is that God will gladly take your burdens and tears, and trade you for joy and peace. If you want joy, real joy, all you have to do is ask God. That's it. Just tell God that you're tired of doing it on your own and want Him in your life. He'll guide you through the rest.

How do I know God is real and that He exists? Because He has shown me. He has restored me. He has saved me. If you have never asked God into your life, I would encourage you to do it today... do it now! He is real, He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to help you. But God doesn't go where He's not invited. So won't you invite Him? If you want more information on becoming saved, I would encourage you to go here ------->  Becoming Saved 

Have a joyful day friends! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time for summer!

Welcome summer! Well, almost summer. Summer for me anyway. Although I have lived here in Texas for just over a year, it's going to take longer than that for this cold weather Wisconsin girl to get used to the south Texas weather! So for all the Texans down here, it's spring, but in my mind, if the trees are all lush and green, the flowers in full bloom and every day is in the 80's.... SUMMER!!!!

Our summer (Spring) has been off to an eventful start! In the last 45 days, we have had 34 days of overnight guests! Not really guests, but my family. :) My sister Amanda came here for about a week, we went to the Houston livestock show and Rodeo, it was so fun! We also so Zac Brown Band, went to the Houston Zoo and just spent a lot of quality time together. She met Caleb for the first time and we got to just be fun giggly sisters together!

Then, about a week and a half later, my youngest sister Emily came on a whim! This was her third time down, so we didn't do a lot of touristy things, but pretty much hung out. And she finished installing the flooring in the hallway! It was a project Daniel had started, them Emily and I were working on together. I went to town for some shopping and when I got back... volia! She surprised me and went ahead and finished our project. What is family for? ;)

My grandfather was originally planning on coming a week and a half later, but he changed his plans last minute and got here early, while Emily was still here. Unexpected, but still a blessing. :)

Em left so it was just Papa (my grandpa) and us for 2 weeks. I'm not going to lie....  we kind of just hit a wall. Everything was going really well, and it was so great to have my 74 year old grandfather with us, but Daniel and I were starting to miss "our time" together. It's amazing how much you need that alone, quite time together to recharge and prepare for the next day.

 That being said, it was really cool to see my grandpa have the same relationship with my kids as I remember him having with me as a child. Grandparents are such a blessing and I'm really going to treasure the time he was here.

I was so unbelievably excited for my parents to get here! After Grandpa was here for the two weeks my parents flew in!!!!! My goodness I love them! I have always been super close with them both, so not seeing them for a whole year has been extremely hard on me. For the most part I would try not to think about it, because I would just get so overwhelmed with how much I miss them, but as the weeks got closer and then the days, that's almost all I could think about! Caleb and I picking them up from the airport has been one of the best days this year!

We had an amazing time together, we jam packed so many memories into 10 days it will be enough to get me through until this fall (when they are planning on coming down again :) My grandpa was here for another week after they got here before he left, and then we had just a few days of just my parents. :) I could go on and on.... My mom and dad are just the most God honoring, loving, generous people I know. I love them dearly and miss them fiercely. 

Dropping them off at the airport was really hard and I had an emotional drive back home, but once I actually got home and just sat back on the couch with my hubby while all the kids played, I realized I almost felt relived to have just us again. Almost 5 weeks of overnight family visitors is a lot of late nights, mini road trips, sugary treats, long talks, and happy memories. So many things that make life so beautiful! But all that can also include some schedule changes, crabbiness, and over tiredness. For the kids too! :) 
So despite me missing my family, I'm ready to get my own little family back on schedule. I have a renewed sense of joy and eagerness for life in general and now really feel ready to start our long summer!

So what about you? Are you ready for summer after this long cold winter?!