Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quality Time vs. Quantity time

I spend most of the day with my children.  I mean, I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), so even when I am doing "other things", my children are around.  I get stuff done when they are sleeping and when Brandon is off work.   I cook or pick up or sew or check e-mail or balance the checkbook or blog during afternoon naps (after we finish home-school) if the kids are home, and while BabyK takes his morning naps while the kids go to preschool (2 mornings a week).  So I actually have plenty of time to do the things I want to do, just not a lot of time all at one time.

I hear a lot about spending quality time with your kids.  Like if you only see them in the evenings, then that time needs to be quality time, but what does that really mean?  Does that mean that you are only doing things with them? That you aren't cooking, or cleaning, or what?

Something that I have been working through is how I make sure that my kiddos know that they are in their proper place in my list of priorities.  I mean, my kids are so much more important than checking e-mail, playing on pinterest, or writing this blog.  They are really more important than balancing the checkbook or making a gourmet dinner for a guest.  They are more important than my latest sewing project or Sunday school planning or ironing or putting away laundry.  So the question is this: How do I demonstrate that?  I still have to do all of those things.  I can't get them ALL done while kids are napping!  Starting in Jan, I will be home-schooling BoyD full time meaning that he won't go to any pre-school.  BabyK will most likely abandon his morning nap in the not to distant future.  And GirlM her afternoon one.  So my "free" time is going to diminish.  My to-do list won't.

So here is my solution for the moment.  It is a work in progress.  But the first thing that I want to always do is spend some time everyday with each of my children just playing.  (not necessarily 1 at a time...I can play with all of them together).  Not doing school work or a planned craft or even having them participate in one of the things I am doing, but just sitting and playing.  Doing what they want to do.  Apart from my to-do list.  This is actually very hard for me.  I find that I spend so much time with them but very little of that is just playing.  And boy, do they want me to!

The other thing is that I don't EVER want to be too busy or too involved to look my children in the eye and give them an answer if they want to ask/tell me something.  Let me specify.  When I am reading an e-mail for example, and one of my children comes to my side and I hear the familiar "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy", I want to be able to stop, turn to them, look them in the eye, listen to what they want to tell/ask me, and then if I need to, explain that I have to read the e-mail and that I will be with them when I finish.  And then get done asap to give my attention back to them.  Not the distracted response of "one-sec" or "can't you see I'm busy" or "sigh...hold on!"

Although my kids are not the only thing in my life, they are one of the most important, and giving them that place in my heart means I have to give them that place in my schedule.  

Do you have any ideas or things that you do to make sure your kids know how important they are to you?  I would love to hear them!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food on Friday

For this week's menu, I am using some recipes that I found on Pinterest.  If you don't know all about Pinterest, you MUST check it out!  You can also click on the link above to "follow me" in my pinterest endeavors.  I will be linking the recipes that I am using. (To actually see the recipes and not just my "pin", you have to be a member of the site...just request an invite)

L: Meatless spaghetti (made with chopped vegetables instead of meat)and salad w/ easy breadsticks
D: Left Overs
L: Crockpot mushroom chicken with rice
D: Left overs (with sandwich cookie-rice crispy treats)
L: Veggie Frittata
D: PB and J sandwiches with apple slices
L: Chinese food with ramen noodles
D: Chicken pasta salad
L: leftovers
D: Black beans, rice, and coleslaw
L: Soft tacos with spicy slaw
D: Apple pancake with sausage
L: Beans, eggs, potatoes, tortillas
D: Family Fun night (popcorn, apples and cheese)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Elasticized Jeans

Do you ever have jeans that are a little too big in the waste but fit you everywhere else? Do you ever get that gap in the back of your jeans when you bend over a little bit? Does the waist of your jeans get stretched out during the day and start to droop?

I have a solution! This is thanks to my friend Chantelle who did this to her jeans and showed me how.  The pair of pants in this tutorial is my third to elasticize and I love it so much!

Basically, all you do is sew a length of 1inch wide elastic into the back of the waist of the pants.  And as long as they aren't WAY too big, you can't even tell they have elastic while you are wearing them.

You start by making vertical cuts in the inside layer only of the waist band. I do mine from one side-back belt loop to the other so that I know it stays even.
On this pair I my elastic was shorter (I'm too lazy to go buy more) so I cut mine closer to the center.
Here it is with the slit cut.
  Measuring out an appropriate length of elastic, I thread it through the newly made tube from one opening to the other using a safety pin.  It is better if you have extra elastic as it is easier to sew if the measurements aren't exact.  Here, you'll see:

Don't forget to match your thread so that  the stitches aren't noticeable on the back of your jeans.  Sew one side with a zig-zag stitch one a very wide stitch being careful to stitch the elastic and both cut ends all together.

Pulling the elastic tight through the pants, pin then sew the other opening closed like this.

Your pants should look something like this:

Now check to make sure that you sewed all cut edges and then pulling the extra elastic tight, trim it off.
If you want those zig-zag lines to be invisible, you need to hide them under your belt loops.  See, you can't even tell while I'm wearing them that they are elastic in the waist!

Arrows point to the zig-zag stitches that hold the elastic in place.
All done!  Enjoy your gap-free, stay-put jeans!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Food on Friday

Here's our budget friendly weekly menu for this next week.  This week I spent $55 on food, a little bit of cosmetic stuff and some cleaning supplies.  And I will spend another $6 or so on Monday at the market (fresh veggies)

L: beans, eggs, tortillas and potatoes
D: Thai food (chicken, peanuts, spinach, garlic, and rice noodles)
L: Frittata and homemade bread
D: Left overs
L: Meatless spaghetti (made with chopped vegetables instead of meat)
D: Leftovers
L: Leftovers
D: Lemon pepper chicken and pasta with garlic green beans
L: leftovers
D: Black beans, rice, and coleslaw
L: out of town
D: Cheesy hamburger macaroni and mixed veggies
L: Beans, eggs, potatoes, tortillas
D: Family Fun night (popcorn, apples and cheese)

One thing that we have started doing that is saving us some money, is baking bread in the breadmaker every night.  Or, most nights.  When we remember.  That way we wake up to fresh baked bread and it costs us around $1.20 per 1 1/2 lb loaf.  And we actually eat a lot of bread so that ends up saving us quite a bit.

And we also don't use fresh milk for anything except drinking.  We keep powdered milk that we use for all cooking and for Brandon and I to drink.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Being Feminine in a Feminist World (part 2)

To see my critique of the Feminist movement and Part 1 of the blog, go here.

I really want to talk about what Biblical femininity looks like.  I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what the Bible teaches regarding what it means to be a woman and what our role is.  

Let me say what it is NOT and then contrast that with what it IS.  

What Biblical femininity is NOT: a woman must be in submission to a man...any man...whichever man is around.
What it IS: a woman must submit to her husband. (Eph. 5:22)  That is the only man that I must submit to, so I chose wisely.  And for the record, scripture tells us to submit to one another! (Eph 5:21) We shouldn't, as disciples of Christ, be looking out for our own interest, but the interest of others!  (Phil 2:4)

is NOT:  weak and helpless and needs a man to take care of her
IS: "She is clothed with strength and dignity" (prov. 31:25)  Don't get me wrong, I love that I have a husband who takes care of me, considers me, works to bring home an income so that I can buy things.  But that doesn't leave me weak, and certainly not helpless.  A godly woman is a woman who has both inner and outer strength!  Just look at the proverbs 31 where do you see that she is weak or dependent. 

is NOT: belittled because of anything
IS: honored because of her pious and modest behavior.  Is looked up to by other women as "having it all together." She is praised by her children and husband! And she is confident in her relationships because of her righteous dealings: honest and trustworthy.

is NOT: destined to live life wearing drab black dresses, covering her head, not wearing makeup or anything that makes her pleasing to the eye.  (There is an important note I want to make here.  If someone, because of their convictions, religious practices, or personal tastes, are described by the above comment, this is not a criticism of that, it is just a statement of my opinion that those things are not required of a godly woman by God.  Please, please take no offense)
IS: praised because of her womanhood and her beauty. (prov. 31:22, Song of Solomon chapter 1) She is not simply beautiful because of her outward appearance, but more importantly because of her Christlike character.(1Pet. 3:3-4)

is NOT: suppressed: sexually, personally, emotionally, or professionally!
IS: free from the negative consequences of promiscuous behavior, free from shame, free to be who God made her to be using whatever gifts God has given her!  And to have the help of the Creator of the Universe in using these gifts!

is NOT: controlled by her husband, by her lusts, by the culture, by a quest for beauty or youth, or by any human.
IS: controlled by the Holy Spirit and by herself (self-control) In other words, independent! 

So do you have real femininity or have you bought into the Feminist movement's definition?  

I wonder what you think of what I have written.  Do you agree/disagree?  There is so much more that I want to say regarding these topics, so there may be a part 3!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Household Notebook: an overview

I have created (or rather re-created) my Household Notebook.  Do you have a Household Notebook?  Do you know what one is? It is basically a place to organize my job as household engineer!  A place to keep important stuff.   I decided I would share an overview of mine:

My sections in my notebook are as follows:
My Daily Docket : a one page summery that I complete for each day.  Click here to download my version...I LOVE it!  I adapted it from the one I found  here.
Routines: These are actually stuck to the inside cover of my notebook and include my A.M. and P.M routines
Financials: budgets, debt load worksheets, financial goals worksheets, and spending worksheets
To-dos: The master list that I use when things need to get done.  From this list I delegate, move to my weekly or daily to-do lists
Meal Time: My monthly menu plan, but you could also add a weekly menu planner and/or grocery lists.  Many people put in pantry/freezer storage inventory, too. Oh, and some put favorite recipes in here, but I have a recipe notebook in my kitchen.
Laundry: A stain remover guide
Emergency: An emergency list with numbers and info, you guessed it, in case of an emergency
Holiday: Maybe one of my favorite sections: has birthday planning sheets, and holiday gift budget planner
Blog: Eventually this will have a place to organize blog ideas and projects.
Projects: So far this just has my master project to-do list, but I will eventually have project/craft organizer worksheets in here, too
Yellow Pages:  place to store the family's important numbers.  No more running to the phone book or internet to find that one number that I used last month but can't remember the exact business name.
Ministry: My ministry schedule and lessons that I am using/working on.

Really, a household notebook should have a place for cleaning checklists (I have a full time maid so I don't have this section), a household inventory for insurance purposes, a place to keep warranties and receipts, school/activity schedules, medical info, babysitting info...the list could go on and on!   I am just getting started and may end up adding much more!

For more info, just google "household notebook" or some variation of that.
Here are links to the places I went to find the printables that I used:
Frugal Living
Buttoned Up
Martha Stewart
Organized Home

Being Feminine in a Feminist World (part 1)

Well...I thought I was being so creative in my title of this blog.  I have been mulling over writing something like this for a long time and this title fit so perfectly.  Then I go and google it to see what all was out there about this topic and I came across a mountain of writings/blogs/books/articles all by this name or some variation of it.  Oh, well. I'm not copying anyone, I'm just not that original!

I really struggle with writing blogs.  I have a list of like 10 different things that I want to blog about; some creative, some spiritual, some logistical, etc.  The problem is that I only get like 15min. at a time to write and it always seems like such a daunting task to write the whole thing at once.  And then there are pictures to get off the camera, organize, edit, and post. goes...something.  I am going to start this discussion and hope that someday I will be able to come back to finish everything that I want to say regarding the topic.

First, I want to mention my thoughts on Feminism as a whole...I want to hear back from you regarding these things.  Feminism as a movement for equality of women in the political, economic, social arenas is an extremely loaded concept.  Should women have equality in politics? Yes.  Should women have equality in the job market?  Yes.  Should women equality economically? Yes.  All of those things we have today (for the most part) because of the feminist movement that said the status quo of keeping women in there place by political and social "rules" was no longer acceptable.  Women are intelligent, capable, strong, economically savvy  and politically shrewd.  There is no reason that they shouldn't be able to participate in the market place in the same capacity as men.  They should have suffrage, equal pay for equal work, and should not suffer discrimination because they are women.  They should have the opportunity to pursue economic gain and should lose the stigma of "old maid" if they aren't married by 25.  

Let me tell you where Feminism has gone wrong: The idea that women's rights and women's roles are the same thing, that women are sexual beings (just as men are) and should have sexual liberties that have traditionally been afforded to men, and that in order to be strong, brave and independent, a woman must behave as a man does with the exception of flaunting and using our sexuality to our advantage.

The reality of the matter is that women and men are different.  We are NOT equal in roles and we are NOT equal in authority in a marriage or in the church.  The problem is how the feminist movement takes offense to this instead of celebrating it!!  Let me say that I would not be a man for all the money/power/authority/rights in the world.  I don't want that.  I like being a girl.  Being a woman. Being feminine. God, in the Bible, celebrates femininity!  God made us feminine!  We just need to know what that looks like!

 Click Part 2: What does being feminine look like?   to see the rest.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Food on Friday on Friday on Sunday.  We've had a lot going on over the last few days so this is a couple of days late.

Our menu for the following week:

L: Veggie eggs (cut up sauted vegetables mixed in with scrambled eggs)
D: Taco Bell and S'mores.
L: Roast and homemade bread (slow cooker and bread machine) and salad
D: Left overs
L: Cheesy hamburger macaroni and mixed veggies
D: Vegetable soup
L: Left overs
D: Beans, rice, and coleslaw
L: Spaghetti and vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli and carrots)
D: Black eyed peas and cornbread
L: Tuna salad sandwiches
D: Leftovers
L: Beans, eggs, potatoes, tortillas
D: Family Fun night (popcorn, apples and cheese)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food on Friday

I think I am going to start something new. Brynne, our intern for the summer, gave me this idea and I have no idea if will help anyone or not, but we're gonna try it.

I am going to post our weekly menu every Friday here. Every Friday I sit down and make the menu for the next week. I try to take into account our schedule as best as I can and I try to use leftovers. I then use that menu to make my grocery list and I do my weekly shopping on Fridays as well. I never include breakfasts on my menus because I never know what my mornings are going to look like.

For breakfast we usually eat one of the following:
-Cereal (or granola) with yogurt
-peanut butter toast (make toast, spread w/ PB, and pour on a little bit of syrup.)
-Frog on a lilly pad (bread with the center punched out grilled with an egg in the middle...a mix between a fried egg and toast)
-Eggs and beans and toast.

Ok..on to this week's menu.

L: Chicken tomato basil mozzarella pasta.
D: Leftovers for kids, grownups eat out for birthday party
L: crock pot: chicken with tomatoes and onions served over rice with broccoli salad. (everything is made in advance so we can just eat when we get back from church)
D: Leftovers
Lunch: grilled cheese and tomato soup with carrot sticks and celery in ranch
Dinner: meatloaf, mixed veggies, and salad
L: Black beans, rice, and coleslaw
D: leftovers
L: Homemade vegetable soup w/ homemade bread.
D: Leftovers
L: Bean empanadas (Gladys will make them) with rice and tomato cucumber salad
D: Mussel soup and bread
L: re-fried black beans, scrambled eggs, handmade corn tortillas
D: Family Fun Night (popcorn, cheese, and fruit)

You might notice that we eat a lot of beans. They are cheap, healthy, and we can make 2 lbs once a week and it serves us many meals. We eat cheap. I usually spend around $50 a week at the store. We buy our meat in bulk like once every 2 months and that costs us around $100 for 30lbs of beef. We don't eat meat everyday. We try to use up all of our leftovers.

If you have any questions or want any recipes, just ask! Maybe this can give you some ideas or inspiration.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Last Minute Baby Shower

My friend Tiffany left the country on Friday morning to return to the US and her 2nd baby is due in September, so on Wednesday afternoon we threw her a baby shower and good bye party. She was out of town the entire week before and only had very limited time available for us to do this, so we didn’t even know we could until Sunday afternoon. So I had 2 ½ days to plan and implement the party on an EXTREMEMLY limited budget. It was so super fun! I wanted to share some of my ideas and how we pulled it off.

For the goodbye part of the shower I made a scrap book using cards that I had made from a kit. I bought the kit at Target one time when I was in the states at the 1 spot and it made 8 cards. A FANTASTIC deal. I then went to a scrapbook store and bought the paper that matched and some sticker embelishments as well as a scrapbook to put them all in. It was very inexpensive and I put one card per page as well as a space to journal and a photo. Each guest came in and secretly wrote in a card in the journal. I took pictures at the shower of everyone and I will send those to her so she can print them and just stick them in the scrapbook. She was very surprised and it was fun watching her look through each of the pages. Gonna show some pictures of the scrapbook when I get some. Forgot to take them! :(

For the baby gift, I had to get creative. I didn't have time to really shop around for her and I wanted to give her something special. I had some burp cloths (prefold diapers) that I had dyed red and yellow. I took those and found some coordinating flannels and accent fabric that I already had and embellished the burp cloths with some fun designs. I am going to make a couple of more of those and I will post a tutorial here. It took a couple of hours in all, but so worth it! They came out really cute.

For games I took several of GirlM's baby dolls and some newborn cloth diapers that I had and we played pin the diaper on the baby. It was hilarious! The women had to first work in teams and then individually to see who could pin the diaper on the baby the fastest w/o it falling off or actually pinning the diaper TO the baby. Then we played "what's in the diaper bag" where I filled the diaper bag in front of the ladies with all the things that a baby needs when you leave the house. We had around 15 items and then I gave each person a piece of paper for them to try to remember everything that I had put in the bag. It was fun. There were enough mommies there to fill me in on the things I forgot to include!

We don't know the sex of the baby so the cake and all the decorations had to be unisex. I looked and looked at the walmart for some toy or something that I could use as a cake topper and coudn't find a thing, so I settled on this green bow. I just cleaned off the bottom part really well and then just stuck it on the top.

We did the following for decorations:

A few flower arrangements, some confetti on the table, some color coordinating dishes.

I used a couple of GirlM's doll diapers (plastic) and stuffed them with some tissue paper and hydrangeas from my back yard.

I used some of the bouganvilia from my front yard to weave in and out of this plate from Southern Living at Home and wrote a little note on it. I didn't have any cute ribbon, so I made do.

I hung up some twine over our entry to our Living room like a clothes line and hung up some of GirlM's doll clothes with some little clothes pins that I had already. Instant baby decorations!

We also put up balloons with ribbon all over the place. Balloons are big here.

Just another shot of the table. Some of the food is missing from this picture, but you get the idea.

We used facebook for invites so we could put this together so fast so I made an invitation just for Tiffany as a keepsake.

For food we went simple. We made chicken vegetable tostadas, we had fruit salad with a yogurt/mayo dressing, we had some mixed nuts, and cake. And a Guatemalan punch called Rosa de Jamaica (hibiscus tea). Oh, and a bowl of chocolates.

For party favors I just bought some tiny gift bags and stuck some chocolate goodies inside.

Anyway, it was a ton of fun and a good memory for Tiffany. All in all I spent (on food, gifts, flowers, decorations, favors, scrapbook, everything) around $80. If you were hosting a shower like this with others, it could be even less expensive. Hope this gives you some ideas. It was really a fun time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Recap of the week.

This last week was crazy busy for us in terms of ministry and our personal lives. Please check out my other blog at to hear more about some of my ministry events of last week.

On a personal note, we had a rough week. We had big kids sick with a diarrhea, but thankfully they got over it quickly. The baby had diarrhea which I first thought was from teething because he is cutting two molars (OUCH!) and that isn’t un-common, but after finally taking in a sample to a lab, we found out that he had a pretty yucky bacterial infection. Now…he is doing SO MUCH BETTER!

The other thing that was rough was that a dear friend of mine that lived here in Guatemala left the country Friday morning with no specific plans to return. Her name is Tiffany and she has been such a blessing in my life over the last 4 years. She has a little girl the same age as BoyD and were our first friends here in the country. Her Guatemalan husband was my language instructor for 2 weeks when we first moved here and we promptly met his wife and his little girl as they lived just a few short blocks away. We walked to each others’ houses, the kids shared baths, and she introduced me to cloth diapers.

This last Wednesday, we had a baby shower/goodbye party for her here at my house because her second baby is due in September. It was so fun and it was good just to enjoy some time with her. I am truly, truly sad to see her go. To see more about that shower, including how I put it together in about 2 ½ days, check back. I will post that next.

So here I am, my Saturday, my day of rest, and I am cleaning my house from the week of craziness, planning the Sunday school lesson for tomorrow, and planning this next week’s home school curriculum.

BoyD has to have his passport renewed so we have an appointment in Guatemala City on Monday. We will be leaving beautiful Xela right after church and taking a ½ day mini-vacation on Sunday night and Monday morning at the Barcelo, our favorite hotel in Guatemala city. We will get to sleep in a bit, eat out, and swim. We need it, even if it is just for a day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm expanding!

I'm expanding! I can only link up one blog at a time to facebook and this is the one that won, but I have another blog that I am starting. This will be a blog about my ministry life. My life as a ministry. I should say "our" life, but I am not sure if Brandon will post to it or not. I hope he does.
Anyway, go on over to to check it out. Leave a comment if you can so I know you made it! So to sum it up:

Reflections of a Wife and Mommy will be a blog about my life as a wife and mom, a homemaker, a crafter, a baker, and a home schooler.

Tales from the Branches will be a blog about ministry things we do, places we go, inspirations we have, etc.

Although there is some overlap, I am excited for a place to categorize my thoughts and experiences a little bit. Remember, you can visit either blog and subscribe to them via e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the little box on the left. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Saved by Grace through Faith Alone? Really?

Yes. But...

Saved by faith,
Saved for works.

You CANNOT separate those two. Please stop trying. Stop preaching that all salvation is is faith in Christ. Please stop reducing the gospel to fire insurance, or even to an abundant life for the believer only.

"Our Christian habit is to bewail the world's deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality [homosexuality], disregard for human life [abortion], and materialistic greed. 'The world is going down the drain,' we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is 'Where is the light?' Similarly, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat; that is what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed. The question to ask is 'Where is the salt?' Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish, there is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked. The question to ask is 'Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?' It is sheer hypocrisy on our part to raise our eyebrows, shrug our shoulders, or wring our hands. The Lord Jesus told us to be the world's salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame." [insertions, mine]
--John Stott

So we look down on the homosexuals as gross sinners and we shame the abortionists (or worse, those who have had abortions) as murderers and miss entirely the plank of apathy and self-righteous judgement that is in our own eye. What are we doing to be light and salt? Going to church? Inviting others to church? Hrm. How well is that working for us?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Challenge #4 - Write a note

Don't forget that you can subscribe to my blogs and have them delivered to your e-mail by going here and typing in your e-mail in the "subscribe" box.

I've been out of the loop lately. My grandmother died and I had to go back to the states for the funeral and there was packing and travelling and unpacking all related to that that took an entire week out of my "30 days to a better me." And then we didn't have internet for a day and a half. I mean, I didn't stop doing my challenges, I just stopped giving them for a bit.

Let me sum up my progress: I have not been charting my time, but it is no longer necessary. I have become incredibly aware of how my time got wasted, and apart from that, the last week has been so busy that I literally haven't had time to even check my e-mail. So, I'm not wasting time. For now.

I have kept my hot spot (my desk) clutter free. Except last night when I went to bed w/ stuff on it. My excuse? I am working on these same things this morning and putting them all away and pulling it back out again would probably use up some valuable time. Lousy excuse, I know, but I was zombie tired when I came up with it. It doesn't hold near as much water in the light of day. :)

Overeating: Mas o menos. I mean...a couple of times I have eaten too much, but I have lost of total of 3 lbs since the beginning of the month so I'm not too worried. I sort of "gave up" yesterday and ate too much and ate too much chocolate, but I won't do that today. It is a new day and I am done overeating.

The Challenge:
Write a note
Not an e-mail, an evite, or an e-card. Not a message on facebook or a tweet. An actual note on paper. We live in an electronic age and we have lost much of the value of pen and paper. There is something so cool about getting a letter or card in the mail with a handwritten address and a real stamp! This is an easy challenge, so to make it more difficult, I am going to ask you, plead with you, beseech you to make this a weekly thing. Do you need some ideas or inspiration?
Write a sweet/romantic note to your spouse and leave it with cologne or perfume on their pillow.
Write a note to your kid(s) and put it in their lunch box/backpack that tells them in detail how proud you are of them and how much they mean to you.
Write a thank you note to a friend or neighbor just for being there for you.
Write a far-away-not-in-touch-with relative to ask how they are doing and tell them you are thinking of them.
Be creative. Be genuine!
The Bible tells us to "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13
So how are you going to encourage someone today? Don't you want to be one of those people that makes other people feel important and cared for? Boy, I do! I am going to write some notes and mail them from here. Even cooler to have a postmark from Guatemala, right? haha!

Comment here and tell me how you are going to answer this challenge. We all need accountability.

(ps Look for another challenge coming very soon)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Challenge #3 - You are what you eat?

We are on our way to better us-es.
We have been logging our time to see where we've been waisting. Ok...I have had been travelling etc so I haven't logged but one day, but I'm gonna start again tomorrow.
We committed to "put out" a hot spot and keep it out for the next month. I am doing REALLY great on that front. My desk is neat and orderly.

Now we are going to address the next battle front in the war for a better us: our digestive system. I say that so generally because this issue is going to vary wildly depending on your habits and circumstances, I don't want to limit this challenge to any specific problem

We all have areas of our digestive health that are not super healthy. Some examples: You eat too much. You eat a disproportionate amount of carbs yet you don't run marathons. You skip breakfast. You don't get your recommended amount of water every day (take your weight in lbs, divide that in 2, and that is how many ounces you should drink in a day. I weight 135lbs, so I should drink 68oz of water in a day) . You don't take vitamins. You don't eat any vegetables. You eat fried foods more days than not. You never just eat 1 eat the whole batch. You drink soda on a regular basis. You don't get hardly any fiber in your diet. You eat an unnecessary late night snack every night before bed. I could go on, but you get my point.

The challenge:
Choose one unhealthy food related habit (or a healthy habit that is lacking) and change it. For the next month, don't do whatever it is that you do that puts junk and not goodness into your body. Commit to do this every day for one month.

I have already been addressing some of these things in my life, but one that I have let slip and have noticed a difference in is overeating. I tend to eat too much food when I really like it. I act as though this will be the last time that I am going to get to eat this amazing thing! The truth is that if I ate less, I would have some of whatever it is as left overs! I could eat it again and save money on groceries! Haha! So I commit to stop eating when I've had enough. Reducing my portion sizes to a reasonable amount, and only get a second (or third) helping if I am still hungry.

Well...we'll see how this goes! Are you doing this with me? Are you going to change something in your digestive life? I think we will see a difference! We can do this one step at a time.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Challenge #2 - Hot spots

Are you keeping track of your time today? I had said that Brandon and I were going to keep track for a week, but I don't think that will be necessary. At least not for me. I am finding that as I try to keep track of what I am doing and how long it is taking me, I am more aware of waisted time! I am going to make sure I track a home school day and a non-home school day so that I can really see where my time goes. But geez...I am staying on task so much more just knowing that I am going to have to log. It is not to late to participate in this challenge. Go here to find the post. (if that link doesn't work, or there isn't a link that appears, then just go to my last blog entry to find it)

The new challenge:
Take Care of a Hot Spot
What is a hot spot? This comes from Flylady and I LOVE IT! You know when you have had a fire but the fire has died down? Even if you don't see any flames or any red, there can be hot spots in the coals. Areas where there is enough heat that if you put a small log onto it, it will catch fire again. We have places like that in our house. Places that collect clutter. You can clean and organize it, but as soon as the first piece of mail (or whatever) hits it, it catches fire with clutter. These places are battle grounds for order. One day goes by unattended, and these hot spots are blazing (and covered w/ crap!)

The only thing you can do about hot spots is keep them clear. Keep them clear of ANYTHING. Hot spots can be bathroom counters, junk drawers, entry tables, nightstands, desks, kitchen counters, treadmills, and even living room furniture! The challenge this week is to become a fire fighter for at least one hot spot in your home. Take how ever much time you need to get it completely cleared off, actually finding a home for whatever was on there, even if that home is the garbage. Then, commit to keep it free of fuel. Every day, several times a day, whenever you see that spot, clear it off. And keep it clear for the next month.

My hot spot is going to be...hmm...I have so desk. That's the one. I commit to keep my desk free of clutter and things that don't belong there for the next month. I will put away my supplies when I finish a task. I will not get up from my work until my desk is orderly. I will struggle against the family machine that puts misc. toys/papers/trash/crap on my desk.

We will probably do this challenge again w/ a different hot spot, so don't overwhelm yourself with 10 places to de-clutter. Depending on how hot the spots are, 1 or 2 will be sufficient.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

30 Days to a Better Me

Actually it is going to be 28 days or so. It is from now until May 1st and since today is April 2nd, we won't have a full 30 days. 28 days of a better me doesn't sound as cool. I digress. Let me explain.

Over the next month I will be making a few changes, solidifying some changes I've already made, and sharing all of this with you. Nothing is going to happen too drastically or too quickly, but I know that if I'm honest here in sharing what I'm doing and going through, I am more likely to be honest with myself and more motivated to do what it is I want to do.

Also, I am going to ask you to be a part of what I'm doing. I want people to participate in these challenges with me. Won't that be fun? I commit to post here at least every other day (It would be fun to post every day but that might not be realistic) and give new challenges as well as keep track of any progress made or lost.

I know many of you read this blog on facebook, but if you want to you can subscribe to my blog by going to and clicking "subscribe via e-mail" and my blog will be sent directly to your e-mail.

So on to the first challenge. This will actually start tomorrow (Sunday, April 3rd).
Keep a daily log.
I suggest in 15 min. increments. Brandon and I are going to do this for a week because our daily schedule varies a lot depending on the day, but if your days are pretty routine, you could just do it for a couple of days. Basically, you write down everything that you do for the entire day in 15 or 30 min. increments. From brushing your teeth, to taking a shower, to fixing your hair, to preparing and eating meals. And just to give credit where credit is due, this is actually a suggestion by Dr. Howard Hendricks, renowned professor of Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics at Dallas Theological Seminary. I am going to print up a few excel spreadsheets to make it easier.

The purpose of this is as follows: So much of the time we waste time by keeping busy with things that we don't even realize we are doing. You are at work and you check facebook every hour or so but you are on for 15 min. You end up not working for almost 2 hours in your 8 hour day! You go in to take a shower and you spend a couple of minutes plucking your eyebrows and popping zits instead. You go into the kitchen to start on dinner and you find yourself looking through the pile of mail on the counter. 15 minutes later no bills are paid and you still haven't made dinner, but you have a really good idea which is your favorite rug in the new Pottery Barn catalog. You get on the computer to check e-mail at home, and you find a fun website that keeps you occupied for a half an hour. Maybe none of that sounds familiar to you, but there is probably time in your day when you are doing something that could wait until later, or you are doing something that takes longer than you planned. These little 15 min snippets rob our day of productive time and then we don't have the time that we need to do the things that we WANT to do. In my case it is practicing the guitar, playing the Wii w/ my kiddos, sewing, or making homemade bread.

If you want to do this challenge with us, and you want me to e-mail you a copy of the spreadsheet that I am making, just leave your e-mail address as a comment and I will send it to you. Just use the form "address at suchandsuch dot com" instead of typing in your actual address. After I do this for a couple of days, I will be able to post here some of my results.

Join us if you can. It will be fun to see what all we can accomplish in 30 (or so) days!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Routines and keeping chaos under control.

Have you ever felt like life was too much to do in too little time? Are you living with a messy house and a constant rush to figure out what's for dinner? Do you go to bed every night with a to-do list on your mind from the day before. Are you usually late?

I have been sick for the past couple of weeks, not having the energy to get up early and workout, etc. My routines have been disrupted big time. I have been needing a nap every afternoon. And I have been going crazy! My desk got messy, every table in my house had stuff piled on it. I felt totally burdened under a never ending pile of crap. I felt like I was constantly behind on my chores: laundry, diapers, meals, etc.

For me (and probably for most), the key to a stress free home is routines. Reasonable routines.

Depending on whether or not you knew me as a child, this might surprise you: I am, left to myself, extremely unorganized. Messy, chaotic, big picture. Now, after much discipline and work and effort, I am in serious control of the little world that is my house. Let me explain.

My house is normally neat. I keep a tight schedule. I home school my children and plan their classes a week (sometimes 2) in advance. I have 2 calenders that are filled and synced. My day is planned out. My menu is planned a week in advance and my groceries are purchased. In my home, almost everything has a place. We still have almost all the pieces to the toys that we have. This only works when I have my routines in place.

Generally speaking I get up at 5:15-5:30am. Work out until 6-6:15am. Have some Bible study until 6:30. Get ready until 7am. Get the kids up and dressed, get my stuff ready for the day (errands to run, things to do, school to do, etc). Kids are either on their way to school by 8am or we are doing school upstairs by 8:30. School is organized around BabyK's nap times so that they aren't working with markers while he is crawling between them. In the evenings we all help clean up the kitchen, we pick up the upstairs, the kids have their bedtime routine and are in bed by 7:45-8pm. Brandon and I have an hour to watch TV, etc, and then we head to bed at 9pm. Fridays are grocery days, Friday nights are Family Fun Nights, Saturdays are calender sync days, and Sundays are get ready for the week days. Disclaimer: this is not set in stone and we are not perfect at it...Brandon does so much in the mornings and evenings so that I can get my stuff done.

When those routines are disrupted, I'm a wreck! And my whole family feels it. If you are what I described in the beginning, let me suggest some serious routine re-haul. Maybe you do OK w/o routines, but that isn't normal. Routine it and keep chaos under control. Did I mention that I have a maid that comes every day and keeps my house clean? That helps! haha! If I didn't have her, I couldn't play my guitar, sit and blog, work at the church as much as I do. Don't feel like you have to have it all together all the time. That is unrealistic. I just want to share what keeps me sane, organized, and what keeps our chaos under control. (Note that I didn't say that we don't have chaos. :)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wool Diaper Cover Giveaway

There is an awesome giveaway over at Mom's Milk Boutique blog! You can win (i'm trying to) a wool cover! I've always wanted to try one of those, but they are pricey, so this is the perfect chance. Check them out!

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, BabyK was born at 9:30pm in Lubbock Texas, weighing 7lbs 10oz.

Since that date, he has learned to lift his head, roll over, push up, clap, drag himself across the floor, sit up, crawl, stand up, walk along a table/wall. He has learned to say mama, dada, mimi, night night (ni-ni), ball, no, no-no (more emphatic), nose (while pointing to the appropriate part). He has learned to sign "more" (also "mas" in Spanish), "all done," and "milk" and to give hugs. He has learned to find his baby, his hair, and his shoes. He has learned about gravity, tickles, pain, books, love, kisses, and falls.

I have learned all over again how much God loves me.

I am in love with my beautiful baby boy, and I am so thankful to have had this last year getting to know him. He loves to pull hair while sucking his thumb or nursing, so we gave him a baby doll with hair to save mine. Now he is hooked! He is a light in our home. He is so sweet and snuggly and loves to laugh. He is the hardest teether I have ever seen and has never consistently slept through the night. I love him and my life, our home, our family is better because of him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Discipline: A Very Good Thing.

So BoyD got disciplined today. He does everyday to an extent, but today it was a little harder.

Today, after getting BabyK up from his afternoon nap, I asked BoyD to pick up his toys off of the floor so that I could put the baby down. He had out some magnetic stick/ball things and legos. Total choking hazard. I told him twice. I then proceeded to chit chat w/ my hubby while waiting for him to do what I had asked him. 10 minutes later, nothing was picked up and he had continued playing with them. Obviously, we had not enforced the rule that he obeys me 1st time when I ask him to pick up his things. When should I have enforced this? At the beginning. I have been very inconsistent w/ this, giving him 2,3 even 5 warnings before a consequence. I realize that this is not fair to him. How can he know if I mean it the 1st time or even the second if one time I enforce on the 4th or 5th?

That has changed. So after he hadn't picked them up, we took away the magnetic things (the first thing I had said to pick up). We then said that if he didn't have the legos picked up by the time that Brandon got back from putting the other toy away, that we would also take away the legos. He played some more, and got the legos taken away. So...the teaching has begun.

He then throws a fit and says "If you take these things away from can just give them away! I don't want them!"

I have noticed lately that he has been saying things that he obviously doesn't mean when he's mad. And for the most part, we threaten to do what it is he says ("I will never play w/ that again!" kind of things) but as soon as the threat leaves our mouth, he changes his tune.

He keeps saying them b/c there are no real consequences for his actions. For his words. So Brandon talks to him about how his words matter, and we give the magnetic things to GirlM. They now belong to her. We weren't mad or yelling. We feel very bad for him and we told him so. We said how sad we were that he had said those things. After a lot of mad crying and stomping around and hiding in our closet from us, he creeps around the corner with puffy red eyes and comes over and climbs in my lap. He cries and cries. Consequences suck some times.

This is a good day. A good day for us...relearning to be consistent. A good day for BoyD. How many people have you known that say all kinds of things they don't mean when they are mad? No one ever taught them the consequences of that. BoyD has learned (probably not for the last time) that once words leave your mouth, you can't get them back in. The person you said them to can't un-hear them.

Discipline is a very good thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Body AFter Baby: 30 day challenge update

For all those mamas who are struggling with their weight/self image...for all of those mamas who desire beauty...listen to this:

(if you don't see a youtube video to click, please go to this link:

Ok...I have officially finished 2 weeks of my 30 day challenge. I am proud to say that I worked out every single day! Yeah, me! I was never short on my water intake! Yeah, me! And I was intensely controlled with my eating. I basically didn't eat any sugar (except for my chocolate and cake at a party) and I only overate once! That was huge for me. I cut out evening snacks and had a TON of energy! Even getting less than 7 hrs sleep every night, I managed to make it through each day w/o dragging. That has been the biggest thing that I have noticed. I feel great. I feel fitter and healthier.

My struggle: Ok...I know I'm only supposed to weigh once a week. I weighed last Friday (my update day) and I had gained a pound. I measured myself (with a different tape b/c I lost mine) and I had gotten bigger! I was so discouraged. I mean, I don't really want to put forth all this effort for nothing. Now...I know that weight can fluctuate from day to day. I get that. And I know that I switched tapes and I was consistently 1/4 inch bigger so it could really be my measuring or the tape. feel better, I weighed myself again on Monday (after really not dieting at all on Sunday) and I was down 4 lbs from Friday. Makes no sense. So if I only weigh once a week, how do I really know if that weight is accurate or not????

This week my weight is the same. As far as measurements: I think I actually shrunk a couple of cm. (I am not using inches b/c I will loose cm faster b/c they are smaller! LOL!) Not exactly sure the details, but I feel good.

The final thing...I think my milk supply is on the decrease. I may have been cutting too many calories too quickly. I am going to go back to the way I was eating before (not trying to limit portions too much...eating slow and eating until full, etc) except I will keep out the sweets.

And I still love Workouts on is not for the fitness guru. I mean, I haven't tried all of the videos, yet, but they aren't super hard, but they do get me moving and a couple of them have really made me sore the next day! Always a good sign. Check it out if you can.

Are my kids really a mirror?

I've been watching my kiddos lately. I mean, I always watch them...but I've been watching them in the context of how they behave in relation to how I behave.

The other day BoyD and I were carrying his leggos into his bedroom while picking up the playroom. I was carrying a plane that he had been working very hard on. Well, I dropped the plane and it fell to the ground and broke apart into quite a few pieces. I said "Oh, BoyD, I am so sorry!" and he said, "Its no problem, mommy. Don't worry about it!" Wow. At that moment I thought that maybe Brandon and I maybe did something right. Maybe he learned that attitude from me!

Then, later that same day, BoyD was frustrated with GirlM about something and I see him with clenched fists yell at her through clenched jaws, "GirlM...get over here now" It was like looking in the mirror when I get mad at him. Of course he isn't allowed to talk to her that way (or to us either), but then why am I allowed to be so disrespectful to him? So...he learned that one from me as well! Ha-ha!

So...when you look at your kids, do you like what you see? Do you like your kids? Do they have cheerful attitudes. Are they grouchy, kind, angry, peacemakers? Do you think that this is really a reflection on you as a parent or just a personality quirk, or a combination?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I think I'm a bad missionary

Let me explain. This is not to beat on myself. I have been so blessed to be a part of a team of missionaries here in Guatemala. We are a discipleship team and we get together once a month and meet. We share our lives, our challenges, we pray for each other, and we eat together. It is my favorite time each month.

Well, one of the couples works primarily with Indigenous Mayans in a village context. (No shopping malls, no grocery stores, no pizza delivery, etc) They have been truly immersed in the Mayan culture and have been forced to be learners. They have been humbled, taught, corrected, abused, neglected, loved. The following came from a conversation that we had with them at our last team meeting.

Before coming to the field, Brandon and I had a total of 7 weeks of intensive training. We learned about entering into a new culture. We learned about how to seek out and be learners, how to NOT be that missionary that comes in and tells all these people what they need to know. It is a lot more complicated than that sounds, but it basically entails dying to your own culture and accepting the people for who they are. It means that you try as best you can to forget the American way of doing things and to keep an entirely open mind. It means not criticizing the bizarre things of the new culture just because your intellectual, enlightened western mind knows better. It is about judging right and wrong solely based on scripture, and not how you were taught before you arrived.

That is where I have failed. Essentially, I have done it all wrong. I have been so arrogant in "my" way of doing things. I have told people how silly it is that they think that you can get air out of your tummy by putting a lit candle on coin placed on your abdomen and then covering it with a glass. I have told them how you can't really get sick from the cold. I have told them that it is impossible for cold to seep up through your feet and enter your lungs and make you sick. I have told them that walking over a hose won't cause your baby's umbilical cord to strangle them. I have told them...informed them...educated them. Why, might you ask? Basically, because I know better. So, so foolish. Do I really? It just seemed so natural at the time.

I may have alienated people because of my arrogance. I hope not. I hope that God can use my contrite apologies to humble me in their eyes.

I repent. I repent of my "know it all because I'm an educated American" attitude. I want to be a better listener, a better learner. Why? So that I can reveal Christ. So that they can see in me something that they desire, not despise.

Pray for me as I live this out with the help and grace of Jesus Christ. It is not by my own efforts that God will bring people to himself, but, Lord willing, by my humility and the work of Christ in me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Body After Baby: 30 day challenge

Another Body After Baby Post: I don't have much to post regarding my progress because I haven't checked my weight or my measurements since last Friday morning. I will check again this Friday morning. I normally weigh myself every day (or thereabouts) but I am resisting the urge.

I can say that I have had 64+ oz. of water every day. I have worked out every day but Saturday. I am really liking the Workouts on Demand website. I have done 2 different salsa dance videos (not hard but a fun way to get active) and part of a kick boxing one. Tomorrow morning I will be doing a total body toning one with hand weights. I slept late (until 6am) this morning, so I only had like 20 minutes and I didn't get much done.

The other mornings I did some interval training up and down my street (sprinting, lunges, sprinting, calf raises, sprinting, stretches). I have been watching my portion sizes and have cut down drastically (except dinner last night and lunch today) I lost a little motivation today, so this blog could not have come at a better time.

I really just need to get more time in for exercise. Every day I have to be a mom, be a wife, get time in the Word (usually only happens b/c I have my Bible in the bathroom! TMI, right?), practice my guitar, manage my home, teach my kids, sew, and on occasion, bathe. LOL! That means 5:30am wake up times or it just doesn't all get done.

So tomorrow I am going to get up at 5:30 and be on my street by 6am. I really want to try to get in another 20min. or so of the strength training on Workouts on Demand. We'll see what time the kids get up.

I will post on Friday for anyone that might care regarding my specific progress.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Body After Baby Challenge Week 6 (I think)

I have not moved one bit since my last post a few days ago. I have also not worked out once (well...I went to the park but I mostly just stood there) since my last post. I have eaten ok. I did drink a lot of water yesterday. So there is really nothing to post, except that Samantha over at Mama Notes is adding to her Body After Baby Challenge. She is making a 30 day challenge.

She is going to be using The Shred DVD by Jillian Michaels as her first 30 day challenge. Well, I don't have that DVD and can't get it, so I am going to commit to join her in this challenge, but a bit differently.

I will be using Workouts On Demand which is basically an on-line workout class. I paid $3.25 for a month (it is more after the first month b/c there is a 75% discount for the first month) and I have access to a bunch of streaming or downloadable workout videos, a fitness journal, and a food tracker. Also, I will be using a yoga video that I have, as well as a pilates video. I may even venture out to the garage to use the treadmill. I am going to ask Brandon to give me 30minutes (from 6am to 6:30am) 5 days a week to work out.

I am also going to cut out white sugar for the following 30 days w/ a couple of exceptions. I will still eat my 1oz. of chocolate a day (if I want it) and I will eat birthday cake on my kids birthdays. I will still put honey in my tea, natural fruit jelly on my toast, etc. I am also going to try my best to avoid while flours. I can't get all whole wheat things like in the states, but I can decrease my white flour intake somewhat.

Here is the thing...I weigh between 132.5 and 135 (depending on the day) and am 5'6". I am not fat. I am not even really overweight. Yes, I would like to get down to 125 or so so that I can start my later portion of life skinny. But if I lose some loose flab and replace it with muscle then I may not can get that low. All that to say, the number on the scale is less important that the following: toned arms and legs, flatter tummy, more energy, and keeping my body in peak condition (my mom has arthritis so bad that it is hard for her to get up and down from the floor, do any workouts other than walking and swimming, and her body just generally doesn't work that well). When I'm 60, I want to be almost as active as I am now.

I may take some measurements and track my progress in inches instead of lbs. Or maybe both. Not sure.

Ok, I could use your encouragement and your prayers. This is going to be hard with 3 kids 5 and under.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Body After Baby Challenge Week something I'm way behind on my body after baby challenge from over at mama notes. It has been crazy and I definitely took time off for Christmas. So that being said, I had lost a total of 3lbs before Christmas, I gained it all back +1lb over the 2 weeks around Christmas (my mom was in town and I baked a lot) and have since lost 1.5lbs. So...I am over all down .5lbs from where I started. Oh well.

I will say that while my wonderful, precious, funny, sweet mom was here, I overdid it at every meal. I over ate, ate too many sweets, stayed up too late, and was generally unhealthy. But I was having fun. That counts for something, right? Well...I also noticed that I had a general feeling of unwell. I was full, bloated, tired, and had indigestion. So, when I said goodbye to my mom very early at the hotel in Guatemala City, I decided that I was so sad, and to not feel worse, I would try to feel good physically. Since then (Sat. early morning), I have eaten better (not over eating), drank more water, gone to bed earlier (but I still have a waking teething baby and a 5 yr old with leg cramps), and eaten a lot fewer sweets.

I am still eating my token piece of peppermint bark, but I'm not doing it at 10pm after a piece of pecan pie and a huge dinner. I am feeling a lot better, and back on track.

As far as exercise: I don't get any. I'm too tired to cut out any sleep, and I just can't figure out how to work it into my routine right now. Brandon's parents are in the country for the next two weeks, so maybe I can use them to take care of kids while I exercise. I did take the dog and the kids to the park today and ran around with them a bit. goals...keep up my water intake, try to find a chance to exercise, and no sweets late at night.

Oh, and since the last BAB post, my mom got a stomach bug, Brandon got strep throat, I got the stomach bug (or maybe it was just junk food and exhaustion b/c I got over it quickly), my kids had a school program, we had Christmas celebrations, and we traveled to and from Guatemala City. I've been a little busy!

Thanks for reading...for those other Body After Baby participants, I'm sorry I've been out of the loop, but I'm back in with a vengeance.