Sunday, December 30, 2012

So much to do in so little time, but God is good all the time.

The last few weeks, I have not been able to blog very much, but that will all change the next few weeks.  Two weeks ago I found out that I will have to have surgery this coming week.  While I always knew this problem could occur at sometime, I quite honestly expected it to be in my later 30s (not the year I turned 30).  Because this came at an unexpected time and is happening very quickly, I have been very busy getting things in order around my house, on top of the normal business of family and church Christmas celebration and other activities that fill this time of year. 

While I should be home within two days of having surgery, I will be on a very strict lifting and pushing/pulling restrictions and I am likely to have a significant amount of pain at least for the first few weeks.  So, every extra bit of time since receiving the news, I have been trying to do all of the main house cleaning (scrubbing the shower and bathtub, mopping the floors, etc.) and stocked up the house with groceries so my husband can make simple meals for the kids if I'm not feeling up to it.  I am also blessed with great friends and family!  My husband is always a big help about keeping the house in order, so I know that he will be more than willing to pick up the slack in housekeeping duties, many of my friends have already called to see what would be "safe foods" to make due to my food allergies for our family, I've had offers for people to keep the baby for the first few days so I can get some rest, and my mother-in-law has offered to come do my vacuuming and any other tasks I'm not able to.  

While I have spent the last few weeks preparing for this, God has been working things out for the past few months to make this an easier time for our family.  If you read my previous post, you know that I truly believe that God works things out for our good, even when we can't see them.  Let me share with you just a few ways God was looking to take care of us.   

1.  I currently teach for two schools and was planning to give up teaching for one of them.  I received an email the week before Thanksgiving from the coordinator asking if I was planning to teach again for winter semester.  I sent her an email back the next day with my intention to give up my position, but somehow, she never received it.  The first week of December, she sent me another email asking me if I had received the first one and requested an answer from me.  I immediately sent her back another email apologizing for the inconvenience of the missing email and again informed her that I was not planning to teach during winter semester.  She replied with a message that said that would be fine.  Then, a few days later another email followed that asked if I would consider teaching for one more semester since the switch to the new curriculum would be happening starting in the fall and it would help them not have to train someone for just one semester.  I talked it over with my husband, prayed about it, and decided that I could in fact commit to one more semester.  I signed my contract just a few days before I found out I would have to have surgery.  My class to teach for the other school that I prefer teaching for was only a 6 week assignment this coming semester, so in order to be off for my recovery, I had to give up that job entirely.  If it weren't for the job that I was trying so hard to quit, I wouldn't have any income at all while I am on my surgical leave of absence from all of my jobs.

2.  My transmission in my vehicle that was just replaced in August began acting up again a few weeks ago.  We had borrowed my grandparents' vehicle for me to get back in forth to work, but we only had that until December 21st.  That also was my husband's last day of work until he had 10 days off over Christmas.  I worked the day after Christmas, and I work New Years Eve and January 2nd.  What we thought would be a transmission rebuild and take about a week, has now become us needing a completely new transmission, which will cost quite a bit more money, and means it will be a few more weeks until I have my vehicle back.  There is no way that I would be able to commit to teaching 3 days a week without a vehicle, and I am not even allowed to drive for 2 weeks anyways, so as much as this is not going well, it is still probably the best time for it to happen.

3.  My daughter is a very busy 18-month-old who loves to climb and jump on everything, including me.  Especially for the first two weeks, the doctor said that I need to be extra careful about her so that my internal stitches don't get torn.  In the middle of December, my mother-in-law, who works part-time, switched from a position on afternoon shift to day shift.  She had had many opportunities to do so in the past and had passed them up but had decided that now might be a good time.  With it, her schedule of which days she works was re-arranged.  She works every Monday and Friday and every other weekend, but with the exception of one day each week has most week days off.  My mother also works part-time and her days off each week are Mondays and Fridays.  Since they both live within 5 miles, the only days I would have no help available with baby if I needed it would be the one day mid-week that my mother-in-law works each week and friends have offered to watch her on those days.  

These are just a few examples of the many interesting ways I have seen God intervening in our lives recently.  What about you?  Do you have any personal stories to share about how awesome our God is?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't worry! I have a plan! Love, God

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" -Matthew 6:25-34: 

This afternoon a flock of birds landed in our yard after flying around the neighborhood looking for food. I had put aside some breadcrumbs from an overdone loaf of bread just a few days ago, thinking even thought it's winter, we might get a chance to feed some birds.  As soon as I saw them land, my daughter and I went out to feed them some, but as soon as we got on the porch, they flew away and hid in the large tree in our yard.  Eventually they made their way back down, and we enjoyed watching and listening to them for quite some time.

While we were sitting there, enjoying the time, this verse came to my mind.  It made me think of how we can behave the same way in our lives.  We are so busy worrying about the small things, that we sometimes miss the big pictures.  Like the birds, we see differences or changes as scary, unable to see how we may gain something from being open to it.  No matter what our current circumstances might be, God is in control and has a plan for our lives. Sometimes life takes turns we didn't see coming, but that's because God has something in store for us just around the bend.  

I pray that I am able willing to follow God's leading and that I am open to seeing what God is trying to teach me through all circumstances.  Currently my husband and I are experiencing something that we were not prepared for, and it is a bit upsetting and originally caused us some stress, but I am trying to see in the months leading up to this, how God was paving the way and working things out despite our best efforts to go in a different direction.  While it isn't always easy, I seek to live out my personal life verse each and every day.

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything, with praise and thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guide your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  - Phillipians 4:6&7

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Tis The Season

Christmas: it's a single word that means so many things to so many different people.  For some it's all about the gifts, spending hours of time and large amounts of money to find just the right ones, while others prefer a more simple holiday celebration.  For some, it's about all the get-togethers and time with family and friends, cooking elaborate meals or doing marathon baking sessions.  Some volunteer their time or donate money this time of year.  Some have extensive outdoor lights displays.  Others make it a point to attend Christmas Eve church service.  Life is full of choices that we make everyday, and those choices are made based on our values and beliefs.

As for me, I want my December to be a time of focusing on God's gift to us, and sharing that with our children, extended families, and friends.  CHRIST is the true reason we celebrate CHRISTmas!  Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to come to this earth, leaving heaven behind, to live a simple, humble existence.  He know the day of his birth that he would eventually have to die for our sins, and yet he still did it.  He loved each and every one of us that much!  All year long, not just during the moth of December, I try to share the love of Jesus with those around me.  There are many ways that my family and I choose to do that.  Sometimes we donate money to a need at church or to purchase groceries or other needed items for a struggling family.  We try to take meals to new parents.  We offer our time when something needs to be done in the community or at our church.  The young adults from church know that our home is always open to them (and a few have shown us what always means), and we take the time to mentor a young married couple.  I send notes of encouragement and Jeremy chats with friends who are struggling on a regular basis.  

For us, December may have a few more events, but our day-to-day lives aren't that different.  We prefer to celebrate Christmas in a simple way, while still enjoying the festivities of this time of year.  Here are a few of the ways that we celebrate:
  • We take an annual trip to Bronner's (The World's Largest Christmas Store) and each person in our family selects a new ornament for our tree.  It's quickly filling up though, so we may have to thing about getting a bigger tree.  I know sorting out the ornaments would be an option (I truly love to declutter!), but at this point in our lives while the kids are still little, I don't want to part with any of them just yet.
  • We take gift tags off of the angel tree at church to help make someone else's Christmas better.  Each person in our family chooses a tag of someone close to their own age and gender to make it seem a bit more personal, and then we shop as a family for those items.
  • We have the young adults group over for a fun night of white elephant (recycled/used) gift exchange, Christmas movies, and snacks.
  • We make handmade gifts for all of our children's grandparents.  This year we had pictures of all of them with at least one of our children easily available, so we made photo frames with those inside.  In previous years, we have passed out candle holders painted like peppermints with a note that said "You're worth more than a 'mint' to us!", a copy of the book The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever and a note about why it was one of our family favorites, and whisks filled with Hershey's hugs and kisses candies with a note that said "We 'whisk' you a Merry Christmas full of hugs and kisses".
  • We fill Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes filled with small toys, candy, school supplies, basic clothing and hygiene products
  • We attend Christmas Eve service at our church each year and invite our extended friends and families.
  • We set a gift budget and stick to it for the most part.  For us, Christmas isn't about the amount of money spent on the gift, but the thought that the giver puts into it.  This year, we are trying something new with our children's gifts.  Each child is getting something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need.  They will also be getting 1 small gift from Santa each.  We don't make a big deal about Santa in our house, but we do let them celebrate the fun of it.  They also each get one special gift from my husband each year, since even our 7-year-old knows that I do the majority of our shopping.  For our parents and our siblings along with their significant others, we try to get them couples gifts that our something they can go enjoy together such as tickets to a sporting event or a movie night basket. 
  • We attend the local Christmas lights parade.
  • When we are out and about, we are always on the lookout for nativity scenes to point out to each other.
  • We spend Christmas Day at home as a family, instead of running all over the place and everyone becoming stressed and overwhelmed.
  • We try to have all of our Christmas shopping done by December 1st so that we don't have to fight our way through the stores with all of the other stressed out people.
  • We have family movie night at least once a week.  We turn off all of the lights in our house, except the Christmas tree, eat popcorn and other treats, all cuddle up on the couch, and watch movies we all enjoy together.  
  • We read the Christmas story to our children.  While our daughter isn't quite old enough to understand just yet, we still want her to be a part of it so that as she gets older, she will come to realize the importance.  
What about all of you?  What are some of your family's favorite ways to keep your Christmas celebration focused on Jesus?  I'm always looking for new ideas for my own family.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  I look forward to it all year long.  What could be better than a good meal spent with good company, all while reflecting on the many ways that we are blessed?  While we try to teach our children to be grateful throughout the entire year, it is awesome to be surrounded by other people who are more willing than usual to share about all of the good things they are thankful for in their own lives.  This year, on the main wall in our dining room, we replaced some pictures of family and friends with a piece of string hung with mini clothespins on it.  Leaves were available for those who were in our home to fill out and share with us what they are most grateful for this year.  Many of our family and friends participated and it was good to see how God is working in other peoples lives, as well as our own.  

Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions you share with your family and friends?  Take a moment to reflect on those and how they make you feel, then please leave a comment about the activity to give the rest of us some new ideas for our own Thanksgiving celebrations next year.  Maybe you all be blessed immensely, not only during this holiday season, but the coming year as well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Clean Home Is A Happy Home

When our home is clean, I feel much more productive and energetic.  However, when our home is messy, I have a hard time concentrating or relaxing.  Lucky for me, I married someone who feels the same way about keeping up on housework as I do, so he is willing to jump in and do whatever needs done to keep things maintained.  While my house requires constant upkeep (one words... children!), as long as I do some small things each day, it rarely gets out of control.  My goal is to have all of my more deep-cleaning projects done by next week so that I will feel okay letting those things go in the month of December to enjoy the spirit of the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are a few of my best tips for keeping things in order (in no particular order):
  1. I make my bed every day.  Not only do I have a hard time going to sleep if my blankets are all bunched up when I crawl in, but it gives my bedroom an instant look of being more organized, which then motivates us to keep the other things (like folded laundry that needs put away) taken care of too.
  2. Before we go to bed each night, we make sure the living room is picked up and the dining room table and counters are cleared of any odds and ends left out during the day.
  3. We have a window seat by the back door where everyone is supposed to leave their things for the morning.  This includes my purse and/or work bag, my son's backpack, and my daughter's diaper bag.  We pack all of these at night so we aren't running around in the mornings like crazy.  (It's a work in progress, but the system works when everyone does what their supposed to, and really, who is perfect anyways...)
  4. We sort junk mail from the regular mail at the trash can before it ever makes it's way to our desk.  It only takes a few seconds and is one less thing that we have to deal with later.
  5. We make a menu on a regular basis. It includes all of the dinners that we have the ingredients on hand for.  This helps me remember if I want to make something that needs to be thawed from the freezer or if I have a few extra minutes, what I can do to prep meals for the next few days.
  6. I keep a magnetic list pad on the refrigerator where we can add items that need to be replaced right away.  Now that my husband and son are in the habit of doing it, there are much fewer runs to the store when we are out of something that we absolutely need (like milk for the baby).
  7. I try to do a load of laundry or two each day that am home.  This keeps the laundry from getting out of control (either to wash or fold and put away), and we rarely have an issue with needing something that is in the dirty clothes since everything gets washed on a regular basis.
What about all of you?  What are your best tips for keeping up on housework?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life Happens! (But what is God trying to show us?)

 "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer."  Proverbs 16:1 (NLT)
I was supposed to work today.  However, that verse was my Facebook status this morning at 4 am from my devotional.  I typed it after scrubbing the couch and floor and starting a load of laundry because my son came down with a stomach bug and didn't make it to the bathroom before vomiting all over.  I truly believe that God allows all things to happen in our lives for a reason, and I feel that lately He has been showing me how I need to realign my priorities.  This was just one more lesson in that.  While I feel awful that my son is sick, it has been another reminder to me of how important my role as a mother and wife is.
The last few weeks, I have been working quite a bit.  The truth is that I currently have 4 part-time jobs.  I work as a nursing instructor for 2 different schools, which means that I teach 2 days at the hospital each week.  I am also on-call in the local ER and work at another area hospital as a RN Case Manager on an average of 2 to 4 days per month.  Occasionally, other instructors will also ask me to sub for their clinical groups.  Between all of these jobs, I have been averaging somewhere between 42 and 60 hours a week for the past 3 weeks, and my schedule continues to be just as intense for the entire month of November.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that I have hardly any days scheduled in December, and I have decided to be much more choosy about which days I agree to work during that time.  
Originally, I had picked up some extra shifts because both of our vehicles needed new transmissions within 3 months, which was a very large expense.  We had wiped out most of our savings to pay cash for the first one and wanted to be able to pay cash for the second one as well, so it seemed fine to work a little more for a short time and be able to meet the goal.  (And I'm so thankful that I have a career that allows me to do that!)  However, while I started this schedule for good reason, in reality, I truly do love to work.  As much as I love to work, though, I love my family more, and the reason I took the part-time jobs in the first place was to have more time with them while the kids are still little.  I was already feeling a little unsettled about the situation, then 2 other nurses that I hardly know made comments comparable to calling me a "workaholic".  While I don't remember what exactly was said, I do remember feeling convicted by what they said because it was a confirmation of what I was already feeling myself.  As much as I truly enjoy my job and am satisfied with the things I am able to do with my job, there are often things left undone at home and I feel more disorganized that ever even though I am taking a year off of school to get my life in order.  For this reason, I am praying diligently for God to show me which jobs I should keep and which ones I could do without.  
The last week or so, I finally feel like I am getting some clear answers.  One of the hospitals will be starting to use an electronic charting system in the spring, which would including having to attend computer training sessions (a total of approximately 6 days), meaning more time away from my family.  Plus, I would then by trying to use multiple computer systems (which are very complex) on back-to-back days frequently which may be very difficult to keep straight.  I spoke to my husband about the transition, and he was in total agreement that it would be a good time for me to step out of that role, so that will free up at least 2 more days a month for me to be home.  Secondly, now that I am no longer attending school at one of the colleges that I teach for, the pay is not that good compared to the other school without the half-off tuition discount I was receiving and that just happens to be the teaching job that gives me the most stress, so I am seriously considering giving up that position as well.  
I am so thankful that we have a God who is working in our lives everyday.  If we are seeking Him, he will open or close doors on things that are helping or hindering us.  The key is to be paying attention for what he is trying to show us.  My co-worker has a beautiful framed sign hanging in our shared office that couldn't be more true for this season in my life.  It reads the following:
"We must listen quietly for God, 
because He whispers while the world yells."
It is important to think when we are going through our busy day-to-day life if our activities are filling up our time or giving our life a purpose.  For me, it required some real soul-searching and some tough decisions, but I know that when January arrives, I will feel like a much more balanced person which will hopefully allow me to feel like I am truly fulfilling my calling as a Christian wife and mother.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baking Day!

Up until this point, I have not written about my food allergies.  So, let me share with you today.  Baking day is a necessity at our home because I am severely allergic to all milk and soy products.  For this reason, I have to make pretty much all of my foods from scratch.  Unlike my husband and children, I can't eat breads bought at the store, and there aren't any snack foods for me (except fruits and veggies) unless I make them myself and store them in the freezer.  After working quite a few days in a row, I was out of almost everything that I can eat, so today I have been baking up a storm.  I have made loafs of sandwich bread, brownies, pepperoni rolls (similar to cinnamon rolls but with pizza-type fillings), and am making English muffin bread for toast next.  I also made some stuffed green peppers for my lunches, since trying to buy anything at the cafeteria other than salad is difficult as well.  While I can't honestly say that I don't mind having these food allergies, I am finally finding some products that allow me to enjoy some of the foods I liked prior to developing the allergies and I am adjusting to this new way of life.  After 5 years of dealing with this, I am finally able to go to the grocery store without feeling extremely frustrated most times.  I am slowly finding new ways to enjoy foods that seemed impossible prior to the health food store opening in my area and am getting better with substitutions and alternatives to make some more traditional meals that I enjoy most.  So, in closing, if you have any awesome dairy and soy free recipes, please share them with me!  :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Day Of Rest

Last night, I fell asleep on the couch.  When I heard my husband get up this morning for work, he told me I looked so tired and was sleeping so soundly that he didn't want to wake me when he headed to bed.  After he left for work, I got our son up for school and once he was on the bus sat down to have some morning coffee and spend some time reading my devotional and praying.  Afterwards, I just couldn't get motivated to do anything.  At first I was beginning to worry about everything I wanted to get done today, but then I realized that I have worked 7 out of the last 9 days and have put in way more hours than usual working.  I decided that for once, it would be alright for me to let things go for a bit and instead enjoy my day.  I did throw in a load of laundry because my daughter had an accident in her bed which required washing her sheets, but other than that I have spent the day relaxing and I do not feel bad about it at all.  I got the fall decorations put up in the house (which was work, but will make me feel good when I get up tomorrow and smile every time I walk in the house for the rest of the season), spent some time reading, and enjoyed my time with my daughter.  Remember that in a usually hectic existence, sometimes you just need to take a day to rejuvinate by doing things that make you happy.  The photo is one that I came across early this morning.  It reminded me that life is all about perspective and helped me to change my attitude towards my to-do list today.  I hope that it inspires you as well and that you are able to enjoy at least a few minutes of relaxation today, whether all alone or with your children.  Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Start Of A New School Year

After taking the summer off from most of my usual organizational activities (and this blog), complete chaos has ensued in our home, and it is a time to get things back in order.  For starters, while we had a few random ingredients laying around the house, we didn't have any real meals or snacks, including in the freezer.  I made my first menu plan in over 3 months last week and completed a mini freezer cooking session (ham & cheese pockets and taquitos).  It felt like a small step in the right direction, but there is so much more that needs to be done.  Now, I just need to keep moving forward with small changes to get everything back the way it was.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it is going to take time and I can't overhaul everything the way I want to.  Here are my goals for the rest of this week and I will post my progress on them next Wednesday.
  • Clean my desk
  • Create a weekly schedule for getting homework graded
  • Organize our bills
  • Sort kids clothes and take outgrown items to the local mission 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Realities of Freezer Cooking

I love the idea of freezer cooking.  For this reason, I have repeatedly tried freezer cooking.  I have done the marathon cooking sessions as well as swapped meals with a friend.  It is all great.  It truly does save time and money.  There are times when just whipping a meal out of the freezer at the last minute has been a great help to my family.  The problem for me is that I actually really enjoy cooking.  Coming home to make dinner after being gone all day usually isn't a problem because it gives me a chance to de-stress in the kitchen alone while my husband takes care of the kids for a few minutes.  So in reality, what happens at our house is, I put all these well-planned and carefully cooked meals into the freezer where they stay for months until I finally work them into our dinner plan because they need to be used up, and then we ended up eating a sub-par meal that has been in the freezer a bit too long no matter how well wrapped it was.  So my new take on freezer cooking is to stock our freezer with a few homemade convenience foods.  I have already been freezing batches of chopped onions and peppers, cooking large quantities of hamburger and freezing it in the portions needed to make some of our favorite meals like tacos or nachos, and pre-marinating meat for the grill prior to freezing.  After reading Money Saving Mom's 4 weeks to fill the freezer series, I'm also going to start making some lunch and breakfast type of convenience foods for my husband.  New recipes from her website ( that I plan to try are pizza pockets, ham and cheese pockets, energy bites, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Now that I've told you how I feel about freezer cooking, why don't you tell me what you like or dislike about it and how you go about freezer cooking if you do.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

While today was not a noteworthy Mother's Day, I am still thankful to be a mother.  I have to keep reminding myself when day to day frustrations arise that we do it all while we hope and pray that the end result will show all of the work we put in.  The hard part is that it is a very long process.  Today in church, they showed a video about the unnoticed acts of mothers.  I know that I every day do many things that go unnoticed by my children and husband, but I have to keep in perspective that God sees it even if no one else does.  Often times, when I'm struggling with feeling unappreciated, I remind myself of the verse in the Bible that talks about doing all things as if doing them for the Lord.  This helps me to keep plugging along in the drudgery of unending to do lists that are part of being a mother and also helps me to enjoy those unexpected sweet moments when my husband does notice all my hard work or my son unexpectedly does something nice to help me out.  While thinking about all of the unnoticed things I do, I can't help but also think about the many number of unnoticed things I'm sure my own mom did for me and my sister, and I am so appreciative of it now, even though I can say with all honesty that I did not completely understand all that she did until becoming a mother myself.  So to all of the ladies out there, whether it was the best Mother's Day ever or one full of struggles, know that I am wishing you a Happy Mother's Day and that someday all of you do will be recognized in one way or another!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rest & Relaxation

Life has been better to me lately and I feel like I can finally get back into a routine and start blogging again.  My goal is to post on Wednesday and Friday during the summer.

My husband and I just returned from a 5 day cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel and it was just the time I needed to come home feeling refreshed.  We laid out in the sun, had a few drinks, ate lots of yummy food, and enjoyed adult time doing things such as karaoke that aren't a normal part of our lives.  We had left the day after classes were done and enjoyed a long weekend with our kids and my family in Florida before we left on the ship.  The end of the semester was very difficult for me so I couldn't wait to go, but now that is all behind me and I'm ready to start teaching for the spring/summer semester next Monday.  Right now I am busy planning my baby's 1st birthday party.  While I am excited, it does make me a bit sad that the year has flown by so quickly.  Sometimes I think that I focused to much on other things and should have made time with her more of a priority, but in the end, we do the best we can at the time.  As I am only working 16 hours a week this summer (plus grading, but I fit that in whenever I can), I have plans to spend a lot of time enjoying my time at home with the kids.  We have a 15 foot pool, a trampoline, and by the end of the day, hopefully a swingset so we will have plenty to do.  Do you have any exciting plans for the summer?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Road Of Life Is Full Of Potholes

This weekend was my son's state championship for wrestling.  The coach's wife gave the hotel information to my husband, who apparently was not listening when she was explaining it.  He simply told me to call and make a reservation at that hotel so I did but they said they were sold out.  We made other arrangements to stay with my aunt that night and then come home the following afternoon after he wrestled.  When we stopped for him to weigh in, he asked if he could stay and hang out so we agreed.  A little while later the coach's wife called and asked if we were headed to the hotel.  Apparently she had made all of the reservations in her name and had paid for all of them.  We then had to scramble around to get all sorts of things we hadn't brought to stay with family or for two nights.  The rest of the weekend was filled with computer glitches, getting lost, and a bunch of other mishaps.  In the end though, our son had a great weekend even if he didn't place and we survived.  My husband and I even got some alone time on the way home!  :) 

Remember... When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cleaning Out The Car

With the really nice weather outside today, I decided to finally clean out my car.  It was VERY messy after the winter.  I frequently envision having a nice, clean car but in reality when carrying in the baby carrier, diaper bag, and purse, plus any extras like my work bag or groceries, there is the tendency for lots of odds and ends to get left in there for longer than I would like to admit.  There was even some popcorn left on the floor in the back seat from a movie we had went to a month or so ago.  I removed a grocery bag of trash, a grocery bag of pop cans/bottles, and a bag full of items that needed to be put away (a baby bottle, reusable coffee mug, book, etc.) from the car.  I still need to vacuum it out, but since my husband ruined our shop vac sometime the end of last year, that will have to wait until I go somewhere I can get it done.  I am hoping I will be able to keep it more clean now that I've got it all emptied out, but I know I have to figure out a good way to do that if I'm going to succeed.

What are your best tips for keeping your car clean?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hooray for Spring Break!

I am on Spring Break this week.  No work.  No school.  Just lots of things on my to do list, or so I thought...  My break started with us taking the baby to the doctor on Friday.  We thought she just had a simple cold but then she'd had a fever for a few days.  What it turned out to be was pneumonia, which meant I would have to give her breathing treatments and medicine.  So much for my days off from nursing, only now I was nursing my daughter back to health.  I haven't got hardly anything accomplished that I wanted to, but at least she is getting better by the day.  I am getting my kitchen cupboard organized, but instead of doing them all at once as I had originally planned, I am simply completing them one at a time as I can.  I've got my coupon binder more organized and was even able to run to Rite Aid last night and get a really good deal on diapers.  I also have been able to cook us actual dinners and am planning to go swimming and to Pizza Hut tonight to try and enjoy some of my time off.  Tomorrow I am FINALLY getting my haircut, which hasn't been done in over 7 months, and trust me, you can tell!  Overall, Spring Break hasn't been what I had planned, but that's how life goes.  I'm making the best of it and trying to enjoy the time off as much as possible.  Hope you all are having a good week!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why I love mornings...

I love mornings!  It's when I feel most productive and it's really the only quiet time at my house during the entire day.  On the days when I don't have to work, my husband and I get up and I pack his lunch while he gets ready and then we are usually able to chat for a few minutes before he leaves.  Then I get my son up and on the bus.  After that, my daughter usually sleep for a few more hours so I am able to get so much accomplished during that time alone.  I get a load or two of laundry started, put away the dishes from the night before,  make my bed, spend time reading my Bible, enjoy my morning cup of coffee (I know I drink way too much caffeine, but I'm ok with that!) and usually have time to get started on my homework or grading papers too.  Once the baby is up, I do what I can around the house when she is entertained for a few minutes and then complete anything else that needs serious attention after the kids go to bed.  If I have to do that though, it takes away time I could be enjoying with my husband, so I try to get as much done as I can in the mornings to make the rest of the day go more smoothly.  On the days I work, it's a whole different story, but the same principle of getting a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time when no one else is up still applies.  I get up at 4 am and am out of the house by 5 am (sometimes 5:30 am if I'm subbing at a facility close to my house), but in that time, between getting ready, I can usually unload the dishwasher or answer emails and get something started for dinner for my family.  

Today's tip for getting the most out of your day is to get up before your family (or at least your kids) in the morning and take the few extra moments of quiet to accomplish something you have a hard time fitting in later in the day.  I hope you all have a blessed day! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Day!

I love snow days!  I love getting to sleep in and the extra time with my son!  However, my house does not love snow days.  Wednesdays are usually my day to catch up on house cleaning and organizing, but instead I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my family (fun-shaped pancakes) and then visited some friends who live about a mile away and went to lunch with my husband while the kids stayed and played at their house.  Today I am remembering that although I love a clean house, I love my kids more and it's important to build fun memories with them whenever the opportunities present themselves before it's too late and they don't want to hang out with us anymore.  Our son, who recently turned 7, is already starting to choose hanging out with his friends over doing things with us whenever it is an option.  It won't be long and I'll miss all these times.  In the meantime, I'd better go finish the laundry and figure out what I'm making for dinner while both of my kids are taking a nap.  I hope you all are having an enjoyable day too!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm sorry!

I want to apologize for missing quite a few posts recently.  I called last week to make an appointment with my doctor because I have been extremely tired (even though I've been sleeping more than usual) and having some strange episodes of confusion lately.  I'm hoping it's just a problem with my thyroid, since those are two of the common side effects and after pregnancy you are at a higher risk for thyroid dysfunction.  Unfortunately for me, my doctor is on vacation for 2 weeks so it will be the middle of March before he can see me.  Hopefully I'll get some answers then and get back to feeling like myself.  Spring Break is next week and I'm looking forward to it to hopefully have some time to relax.  I got very lucky that my school and the school I teach at have the same break this year so I don't have anything to worry about during that time.

On a good note, I'll recap some of our recent family accomplishments...  Our son finished his main wrestling season.  He didn't make it to states but placed 5th at regionals, which is really good for a first year wrestler.  We are so proud of him!  He still has 3 more tournaments to go for a different league but even if he doesn't do as well as he hopes at those, at least he has found his new favorite sport.  :)  Our daughter (who turned 9 months old yesterday), is now crawling all over the place and started to pull herself up on furniture.  Yesterday was the first time I'd seen her try to stand up, but my husband was off work all last week and said he saw her doing it then.  She also got 4 new teeth in the past week as well, so he had his hands full while I was very busy with work and school.  My husband is busy studying for his upcoming fire exam and I just keep praying he does well because he is very nervous.

Thanks for all of your understanding as I have not been keeping up my blog very well!  I hope you still enjoy reading when I am able to post.  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bills & Budgeting

So, after finishing the book The Money Saving Mom Budget recently, I have realized that I need to do a better job of managing our finances.  I used to be very organized about our budgets and bills and had a very nice system in place, but ever since baby #2 arrived, I have let everything slide.  I spent 2 hours this morning purging my office area of bills and other paperwork.  Many of them were bills that I had duplicate copies of because I had forgotten to pay them, or worse yet, used the "shut-off" notice as a reminder to pay my bill when the money had been sitting in my bank account the entire time.  I know that this is not the way that I want my finances to be, so today I decided to make one small step towards making the change.  I got rid of any duplicate bills and only kept the most recent copy so that I know exactly how much money I owe to where and was able to pay off a good part of the bills this afternoon.  The other thing that I did to help with organizing our finances was to put a new calendar next to the computer (where I keep all of our bills and do all of our online bill paying) and put all of the dates of auto withdrawals for different bills on it.  I hope that with time I will be able to get my old system back in place because it did function so well for us.  I have spring break coming up in a few weeks so I am hoping to spend that time off from school and work reorganizing a lot of things (finances included) while I have a good amount of time all together to start and actually finish some project.  Any tips on how you organize your bills and bill paying?  I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How menu planning can save the day...

So, I have missed a few posts recently because of the sickness continued to go around our house until today and the fact that we had 3 wrestling tournaments in 3 days this weekend, which involved a night spent out of town.  But I'm not going to complain about all of that.  Instead, I'm going to tell you that I like menu planning all the time, and I especially like it after the past week when without it we probably wouldn't have ate very well at all.

I don't do your traditional meal planning, but what I do works tremendously well for our family.  I simply write out everything we have on hand in the house (whether fresh from the grocery store or in the freezer and pantry) and then work off of that to decide what we're having on any given day.  Because of our well-stocked pantry and freezer and the menu ideas already written out, I didn't have to worry about grocery shopping in the middle of a crazy week.  it was easy for me to tell my husband what to make when I was too sick to get out of bed and I was able to whip together some quick and easy meals when I was taking care of everyone else.  Although this system works for us, it may not work for you.  I encourage you, however, to find a system that does work for you.  If you need some other ideas, just search for it online and I'm sure you will get a ton of new ideas. 

Meal planning takes a small amount of time to do, and can save you a lot of frustration, time, and money. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sickness has hit our house...

I know this is a day late, but the norovirus that has been going around struck our house yesterday.  It was the worst illness I can ever remember having and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  Luckily, the baby hasn't seemed to get it.  I can't possibly imagine what it would do to her little body.  I will be spending the day spraying down and cleaning every possible surface in my home with Lysol.  I will post more tomorrow afternoon.  Have a happy and health day everyone!

Monday, February 6, 2012

No, I don't actually live in my car...

So, this post is a day later than I had planned, but I literally have not been home long enough to type anything, only long enough to sleep the past few days.  Friday we headed up north for my son's wrestling meet.  We would have been home around 5 pm on Saturday afterwards, but we ended up hanging out at some friends' house when we dropped off their daughter who rode home with us.  It was about 7:30 pm by the time we arrived home, with our son's friend in tow, and we were surprised to find a new 43" tv and entertainment center to match in our house when we arrived.  (My parents and grandpa had bought it for us!  Thank you!!!)  By the time we got that set up I was worn out and went straight to bed while my husband and the boys stayed up to watch some pay-per-view fight they ordered.  We went to church the next morning and then stayed afterwards for the potluck and helped clean up after that.  We were planning to be home by noon but didn't get home until about 1:45 pm and had to leave my 2:30 to go to our new friend's Superbowl party so we could meet her husband.  As we rushed around to make our food to take, my mom showed up for an unexpected visit.  We dashed out the door about 10 minutes late but luckily the drive was shorter than we thought so we still arrived on time.  When we got back home, we realized that our son's friend had left his favorite stuffed animal at our house so we thought we would take it back really quick (they only live about 2 miles from us), but we ended up staying until about 10:30 pm.  We would have stayed longer but I told my husband I had to be up at 4:30 am and I was leaving so I could get a little sleep.  I was up and at it early this morning, teaching clinical all day, and then we had a meeting with our financial planner late this afternoon.  We finally made it home for a quick spaghetti dinner and now I am typing this before getting started on my paper that's due tomorrow.  The topic is stress.  Do you think my professor would accept a copy of this blog as enough proof that I can define stress?!? 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Running Behind...

So today's post will have to be short and sweet, since I am running WAY behind (as usual).  We are leaving for my son's wrestling tournament as soon as he gets home in an hour and I have not packed a single thing yet.  Because I had been sick pretty much all week and the baby has been teething, my to do list today seemed never ending.  Top priorities including paying bills, packing for this weekend, and writing the 8 page paper I have due on Tuesday.  Normally, I can whip together a paper at the last minute when I have to (as much as I don't like to do that), but with the Super Bowl being on Sunday and my husband's uncle not expected to make it through the weekend (I hate cancer!), I'm just not sure I'll have the time to work on it at the last minute.  I guess I will be hauling my weekend up north with us this weekend so I can get it done.  Here's hoping you all have a blessed weekend!  See you next week!  Now, off to find some clothes for us to wear and hope that his wrestling uniform has been washed already...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Goals for 2012

In my last post, I talked about committing to spending time once a month hanging out with my son.  That got me motivated to finish figuring out the rest of my goals for 2012.  They included main goals of things to accomplish, books to read, DIY projects to try out, and recipes to make.  Here are a few of the highlights....

Overall Goals:
  • Commit to reading my Bible daily (In the past I would skip it if I didn't get to it in the morning before the kids get up, but this year I'm going to read it before bed if I haven't gotten around to it yet.
  • Schedule a monthly date night with my husband.  (It's usually more like every 3 months around here and I really do like hanging out with him.)
  • Attend family game night at church at least 4 times this year.  (We always say we'd like to go check it out but never get around to it.)
Books To Read:
  • Heaven Is For Real (I just finished this book and highly recommend it!)
  • The Money Saving Mom Budget (I'm currently reading it and it has been good so far.  If you follow her blog, there are still new things to be learned from the book.)
  • Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem
DIY Projects:
  • Plant green peppers.  (My family loves these and I've heard they are fairly easy to grow.)
  • Start my own blog.  :)  (Done!)
  • Try to re-sell my outgrown children's clothing.  (I haven't decided yet how I'm going to do this so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.)
Recipes To Try:
  • Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • Ice Cream Cake (I've never made one before, but found a really fun recipe that involves Malted Milk Balls, which are my mom's favorite, so maybe I'll make it for her.)
  • Lemon Buddies (A chex mix made with white chocolate chips and lemon flavor that's supposed to taste like a lemon bar.  I hope it's as good as it sounds!)
How about the rest of you?  Any goals for the coming year?  And lastly, always remember... 
"Progress, Not Perfection!"   
It's important that even if we aren't meeting our goals entirely to keep working towards them.  Good luck in whatever you are trying to acheive right now!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Money Well Spent

Lunch for 2 at a "fancy" restaurant - $20
2 Movie Tickets to Beauty & The Beast in 3D - $20
Popcorn, Pop, & Candy - $10
Awesome day with my son.....  Priceless!

So, ever since my son saw the previews for Beauty and The Beast in 3D, he really wanted to go.  Since I also loved that movie when I was younger, I promised him we would go together.  With wrestling taking up pretty much all of our weekends, today was the first chance we've had to go.  After church, my husband and daughter headed home to take a nap while my son and I headed out for our "date".  First we went and ate Chinese for lunch, since we both love it but my husband doesn't like it at all.  He said the restaurant was "probably the fanciest one he'd ever been too" because "they have real napkins on the tables".  Then, we went to the movie.  We both enjoyed it (even though our regular glasses make it hard to use the 3D ones the theater provide) and had fun quoting some of our favorite lines on the way home.  After that, we went to Walmart to let him use a gift card he had gotten for his birthday.  Seeing the excitement on his face when he realized it was his money to spend on whatever he wanted made my day.  It is rare lately that he and I are able to spend time hanging out, since wrestling takes up a lot of his time and most of my time is spent taking care of the baby or keeping up on household tasks.  I had forgot how much I enjoyed it being just the two of us and how much fun we can have together.  My new goal for the year is to spend some one-on-one time with him at least once a month.  I am afraid I only have a few years left before it will become uncool to hang out with his mom and I want to enjoy this time as much as I can.  On Friday, I was saddened to hear about an old friend who's new baby son is in NICU and hanging on but not doing very well at all and have been frequently in prayer for them.  That was just the reminder I needed to commit to this time with Seth today.  We never know what tomorrow brings so we need to enjoy the time we do have with our loved ones right now.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fatigued Friday

So, I had the best intentions for getting things done today, but I succeed at very few of my plans.  I just drank a cup of coffee after finally getting out of my pajamas just before 3 pm, so maybe the motivation will kick in shortly (as soon as the caffeine starts to work)... 

On a good note, after teaching yesterday, I went grocery shopping.  I scored some really good deals by combining coupons and sales: free Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds (my husband's favorite cereal), Oscar Meyer Carving Board meats for $1, and 3 large containers for Enfamil formula for $35 to name a few.  I may not have gotten home until after 10 pm but it was well worth it to at least not have to leave the house today.  I was even more glad I didn't have anywhere to go today when my son's school got cancelled due to bad road conditions.  Shopping with the baby is difficult at times, but shopping with a hyper 6 year old can be down right frustrating. 

When I'm done with this, I need to get started making banana bread I've been putting off (the butter is softened and we actually have the eggs in the house after grocery shopping, so there is no excuse not to)  I also need to get working on some dinners for our meal exchange.  A friend of mine, who has a baby around the same age as mine and also works and goes to school, suggested that we do this and it's worked out great.  Every other week, we exchange 2 to 4 different meals (depending on our schedules for the week).  Then we just pop them in the freezer and use them as we need.  I don't know why we didn't start doing this sooner!  They have been a real sanity-saver on a few different occasions and we get to try different foods that I normally wouldn't make.  If you can find a willing friend, I would suggest doing something similar.  It's amazing how easy it is to double a recipe you are already making and in exchange, once or twice a week you don't have to deal with the "What's for dinner?" dilemma.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yes, I'm becoming "that mom"...

Sunday night, we had the Young Adult's class from church over for our monthly dinner and a movie night.  As I was getting our son ready for bed he asked how he was getting to school in the morning, which is a regular question in our house considering our schedule is always changing.  (That is until next week anyways, when my husband and I are finally both on a regular daytime schedule.  Hooray!)  While I was trying to remember what the plan was for Monday morning, one of the ladies in the group commented that she thought her younger siblings, who are still in school, had the day off.  I decide to look at the lunch menu hanging on the fridge, and low and behold, she was right!  Students were off school for teacher records day.  Luckily for us we have a very understanding daycare provider.  Since we already let her know our daughter would be coming early in the morning, it would be no problem for my husband to take our son as well.  Crisis (barely) averted!

Lesson of the day:  There is no point in putting things on the calendar if you don't actually check it daily.


Welcome to my blog!  Here you will be able to read about my often times hectic life trying to juggle the multiple demands of family, home, work, and school.  There is always something going on around here and I'm a lot more disorganized than I would like to admit.  I'll tell you about the bumps and glitches we run into along the way, as well as some of my tips for trying to keep it all together.  Look for updates on Wednesday and Friday afternoons and Sunday evenings.  Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to share the stories of your own crazy life!  :)