Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oh it's here...somewhere....

I've mentioned on a few occasions about my love for our household schedule. Now I'm going to mention (go into great detail) about my new love for our household folder.

Apparently household notebooks are all the rage. I suppose I should know this since I've tried my hand at various attempts of this for the past year. My first household notebook contained beautiful print-outs from an organizational website. I had every document you could imagine...even ones that made no sense for our family.

My second attempt contained more items that I created myself. This still failed because I once again overdid it.

Enter attempt #3...a folder. No binder, no clipboard, no "home central" corkboard......

A folder. And right now, it's working quite well for us.

A few months again I devised a household schedule. I have since adapted this even further--but this schedule is doing wonders for our days, our home, & our sanity.

Upon opening our household folder you'll find:
our household schedule (in two pages). This was created by making a list of everything I felt needed to be done each week and how often. I plotted cleaning tasks on our "less busy" days. Each day has a list of five things that need to get done everyday (make bed, bible study, clean dishes, check trash, pick-up toys), any activities for the day, daily chores, and paper pushing tasks for the day. Please know that there has yet to be a day where EVERYTHING has gotten accomplished!!!!
a monthly/semi-monthly checklist to fill in & personalize with tasks to complete (downloaded here).
6 months worth of calendars (from here.)
A Master to-do list (you know, for all those things that need to be done...someday)
A Master to-do list before baby (this is a room by room checklist of things to clean/organize/sell & a Misc area for items like "install car seat." I had a similar checklist during my first pregnancy & it was awesome for the nesting instinct)
A "need before baby arrives" list
A list of craft project ideas
Birthdays/Anniversaries for the year
An Inventory Checklist (Freezer, Panty, Fridge, Cleaning, Paper products, diapers, and Linen closet lists---this has the top items we need to have on hand. I do a quick check through these areas with my checklist and will use that to make shopping lists---or lists for items to look for a good coupon sale)
2011 Goals (more on this later)
Freezer Cooking Plan for the month (I make notes of recipes to try, meals to cook, etc)

The pockets contain post-it's with blogging and writing ideas, information for my work at home job, & library events.

And for now, that's it!

There are potentially a few things I want to add/tweak, but right now this is working great for us! I am working on a cleaning checklist that details what cleaners to use where, along with a guide to doing laundry. Because my husband will be taking over some of this when baby arrives & because we'll potentially have family here helping--he agreed (no really, he did!) that a cleaning/laundry guide might be helpful...along with where certain cleaners are stored.

Like anything, if it's going to work for you...you have to figure out what your family needs...even if that means customizing some of your own forms!

Monday, December 27, 2010

one heck of a project....

When we moved into our new-to-us home back in May, I was certain we'd be unpacked within a month or two. For the most part we were, aside from two rooms that have boxes with who knows what in them at this point.

I knew when we moved that I wanted the process to be as efficient as possible. I labeled every box I packed with a colored number. The color represented the room it would go to, the number corresponded to a list that said what was in that particular box.

As we unpacked our belongings in our new home, a few items just didn't quite find their place & they joined the boxes in the room upstairs, what was supposed to be my office/craft room. Time went on and our spare bedroom became an impromptu office...(which really means it just got filled with paperwork & odds and ends.) Anyways, we're three months away from baby's due date & in need of that second room. Which means we are needing to transition the pseudo office/guest room upstairs.


That room is & has been filled with boxes...nearly floor to ceiling...and the problem has grown.

See for yourself....

We started on this room a few weekends back and have already made tremendous progress. We are both getting really excited with how this room is turning out! I'll continue to post updates on our progress!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

and if I can't finish the first one, what hope is there for the next?

baby books.

I have a love/hate relationship with them. I had great aspirations of documenting each pregnancy/ first year of my children's lives with great detail & photos.

I have a belly book that is almost finished (from Lucy's pregnancy, no less) & her baby book has about 1/4 of the pages written on. I couldn't tell you exactly the date she rolled over (though that's on video), sat up, started crawling, walking, got her first tooth, etc.... I have approximate time frames, but for the life of me, I'm not one of those moms.

Enter Plan B.

I cheated. I totally just assembled photos of Lucy's first year into a photo book. I'm hoping to write out little notes about each month and attach at a later date....but if that never happens, at least I have a photo book documenting her first year.

With Baby #2 we're going to try hanging a calendar in the nursery and documenting milestones there--then I can have it all ready to go when I order a photo book documenting their first year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

toddler traditions.

When my husband and I were first married we swapped stories of our favorite traditions growing up and ideas we had for future traditions for our family. As it turns out we didn't have to wait long to begin such traditions. One of the first things we started was purchasing an ornament for our tree. The next was spending Christmas morning together...in our own home.

That first Christmas was a little strange to wake-up in our apartment, away from family, for the first time on a holiday. At the same time, it was simply wonderful. We opened gifts, lounged in our pajamas and ate a healthy amount of cinnamon rolls.

Our second Christmas we were blessed to have a five-month old daughter to celebrate with. New ornaments were purchased & Christmas morning was once again spent relaxed and at home. We videotaped our daughter's reaction to seeing her presents from Santa, though a five month old doesn't really change expressions all that much.... :)

This year we've been able to add many more "traditions" now that we have a toddler who is much more interested! Thanksgiving morning we woke up and ate pumpkin pancakes from the freezer, traced turkey hands, & watched the parade. When December 1st approached, I wrapped up 25 Christmas themed books I had picked up last season/over the summer. Based on an idea from a friend, I wrapped each book individually & Lucy has been allowed to open one each night. She has had SO much fun with this, I can't wait for next year to be able to introduce even more traditions! Her excitement has made me excited for Christmas morning...I'm so looking forward to bringing her out of her room to see what gifts she has to open...

And this year, I know we'll get a great reaction :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

what will we eat?!?

In the mornings when my husband is on his way out the door I always say the same thing....

"think about what you want for dinner..."

Oh yeah...I also end with "Love you!"

(just so we're clear that my love for him does take priority over what we shall eat that night)

For a few months now we've been relying on the fruits of our labor to feed us. Our last freezer cooking frenzy was a success. We tried a few new things and they were huge hits and are on their way to making it to the master list.

Today I opened up the freezer and saw the makings of four more dinners. I pulled a taco kit from the freezer (cooked taco meat + already grated cheese) to thaw in the fridge.

Dinner's Done! (almost)

The best part, something my husband and I both agree on, is that there are no pans/cheese graters to wash afterwards. Our two plates get tossed in the dishwasher & we call it good.

We have burritos left & a handful of pancakes, but our freezer is in dire need of filling up again.

I'll be planning our next three months of freezer cooking dates soon...or at least getting them on the calendar so that we can start stocking up on ingredients as needed. I'm hoping to try a few new items again in January & February in preparation for our (hopeful) mega freezer cooking session in March...just in time for baby #2.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Promise me you'll be here in the morning..."

Maybe it's the hormones from pregnancy. Maybe it's the reality that tragedy exists.

Or maybe it's just that I shouldn't watch Lifetime movies...or movies like "Raising Helen" when I'm nearly 7 months pregnant. Regardless, that was the phrase I tearfully said to my husband the other night before drifting off to sleep.

This was the conclusion of what started out as a harmless, almost joking, conversation with my brother-in-law a few hours prior. God forbid something ever happens to both my sister and brother-in-law, my husband and I will step up and try to fill the mighty big shoes of these incredible two people...as guardians to four additional kiddos. My brother-in-law has often joked about this responsibility, and the mortgage that comes along with it.

My husband and I have talked off and on about the reality of needing to have something in writing, God forbid something ever happens to the both of us. We have no monetary possessions that people would fight about, but with so many people that love our daughter--we want our wishes to be clear. It's in these conversations I feel like I see the desires for our child (ren) for the future, and pray that the Lord will make my husband and I a part of them.

Obviously we desire for our children to be exposed to the love of Jesus that has rescued the two of us, but the more I express what I would want to happen, the more I realize the issue goes much further for women than it does for men. (though I will say my husband and I have generally been in agreement about what we want) Practically speaking, our children could have multiple options of people to love them in our absence---but last night it became clear to me what I've been trying to express in all these conversations with my husband.

It's what Helen's sister wanted. (Seriously, I've watched this movie about four times in the past month. :) Helen wasn't necessarily the obvious choice, she was who her sister felt could represent her the best in her absence.

Simply stated: I want our "fill-in" parents to be able to be the best representation of the kind of mom I am and desire to be. I want them to be able to share stories of my husband and I; stories of growth, humor, sadness, change, love, etc. I want them to let my kids get messy, stay up late just because, crawl in bed on the weekends and watch cartoons, take impromptu trips to the park/library/wal-mart, read books to even when there "isn't time," etc.

If my kids can't have me, I want them to have what I feel would be the best representation of me.

...even if it means they have to move into a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn because that's all the new guardians can afford once they've taken them all on.

(and if you haven't seen this movie, you should watch it...)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

that's what she said...

No really, that's the post title I chose. And it doesn't mean what you think it does.

Lucy. It's about things Lucy has been saying.

My daughter is quirky, fun, active, & outgoing in every sense of the word. (True story, she sat on a stranger's lap in an airport recently after running up and hugging her.)

My daughter is also apparently developing a sassy streak, at the ripe old age of 17 months I might add :)

Last night my husband was placing toys back in the buckets and trying to get her attention. As he crawled around on the floor picking up toys he kept asking her to help. She, oblivious to what was going on, continued to spin in circles while holding a pinwheel she received back in July. Finally my husband says: "Lucy, Lucy, Lucy.." each time getting ever so slightly louder.

Lucy stopped spinning, squatted down, placed her hands on her knees and while looking her father in the eyes said "Da-Da!" in quite the loud voice.

We chuckled. No, we burst out in laughter.

And then I imagined us 12 years from now and we've entered the teenage years and that same voice is looking us dead in the face and saying "what???" in the same exasperated tone as we heard "Da-Da!" last night.

This morning we all overslept. Well, technically you can't say that Lucy and I overslept as we had nowhere to be...but my husband, he did in fact oversleep. He blames the flannel sheets...

Anyways, as he was rushing around this morning to get ready, Lucy brought him one of her favorite Christmas books of the season to read. Being the good daddy that he is, he of course obliged and read it. Minutes later I also had to read the book & then apparently she wanted Daddy to read it...again.

My husband finally said "Daddy can't read the book right now, I have to go to work."

Lucy just shook her head and in the saddest voice ever said "no, no, no..."

And then I remembered, that even with a little extra sass in her step, she's still our little girl. She still longs to be read to, hold your hand, & cuddle in tightly when it's cold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm makin' a list....

Several, in fact. Every Saturday or Sunday I sit down and compose a weekly to-do list on my trusty yellow legal pad. These items are in addition to our weekly household checklist. So far this system has worked wonders in place of my very random notes that were stuck around the house and seemingly always forgotten.

When I was pregnant with Lucy I put together a two-page spreadsheet of things that needed to get done before Lucy arrived and I hung it in our kitchen. My husband and I worked on this list and accomplished almost everything (even items like "organize the Laundry room" made the cut on this particular list.)

I guess this is a part of my personal nesting instinct because I've already begun brainstorming different checklists that need to be made for Baby #2. Our due date is still 15 weeks away, but the last 25 have breezed by...and if it weren't for my ever-expanding belly and persistent kicks from the inside, I'm not sure I'd believe I was really this far along.

So the lists I'm preparing this time around?
-Items needed for Baby #2
-Craft projects to complete for Baby
-Household tasks to complete before baby arrives (clean-out/de-cluttering that I won't have time to do after baby arrive, etc...)
-Freezer food to prepare for us. We've been doing lots of freezer cooking and compiling a list of things we feel freeze exceptionally well
-Items to stock up on before baby (making sure that linen closet is full, diapers are ready, etc..)

I'm hoping to get the lists accomplished this week during one of my bursts of energy & then the husband & I will begin tackling them. He does this because he loves me & knows that feeling prepared is the best way to soothe his wife :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

25 weeks

25 weeks....seriously?!?!?

Wow! This pregnancy is seriously flying by...and that realization is making me fret a little about all that we need to do before life changes in a big way!

A few highlights...

We are feeling movement all the time and SEEING it from the outside. Because of an anterior placenta this time around, we didn't start feeling movement until about 21 or 22 weeks...which the doctor warned us we probably wouldn't because of the placenta location.

But once we started feeling it, we felt it! Baby moves all. the. time. This kiddo is very active and I feel the baby move from one side of my belly to the other. (side note, it's getting really hard not to say he/she. :)

So yes, we know the gender...and no, we aren't planning on sharing until baby arrives. This wasn't the original plan....but we're kind of enjoying having a secret to ourselves.

Within the last few weeks my belly has really started sticking out there. My muscles are starting to hurt in both the belly and the back...in other words, I'm already feeling very pregnant which is not a good sign. :)

With this in mind, we're going to start tackling some big projects this weekend with the hopes that we'll be ready to go for baby before March even arrives...or that's the plan.

Oh and for comparison, me at 25 weeks with Lucy & 25 weeks with Baby #2

..obviously a bit bigger the second time around, but everyone says that's normal...and I didn't start out this pregnancy as tiny as I was when we found out we were expecting Lucy. :)

either way, I enjoy having a pregnant belly. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DIY Decor.

If you keep up here at all, you'll recognize we run a pretty slim budget...and decor is never really a part of it :)

However, during our move this summer it seems that several of our holiday decorations were ruined do to breakage or mildew/mold damage as a result of a garage that frequently flooded.

Armed with this knowledge, I purchased a few items to try and spruce up our home this holiday season ( & beyond.)

The first project was inspired by the Michaels Black Friday ad. I purchased the holiday colored chargers at 2/$3, my husband found some plate hangers for $1.50 at Wal-mart, and I dug out some white paint and brushes.

The second project I've seen on various websites, all of varying types. (Sorry if that's not proper credit to the original idea---but I'm not sure who actually had the original idea!) On Black Friday, Jo-Ann's craft store was selling flannel fabric for $1.29/yd. Not quite what I had in mind--but it fit well with our small budget. I purchased a pack of 10 8x10 art canvasses & a pack of 5 7x14 for $10 a piece at Michaels. A little more than I wanted to spend, but these can be re-used...and I have several leftover for an additional project for baby #2. Cut the fabric so that you will have enough excess to wrap around the back of your canvas and staple with a staple gun. Seriously...it's that easy. :) The solid green ones ended up a little too plain, so I added some mirror snowflakes. The brown damask print ones hang above our bed & the butterfly print is also jazzing up our bedroom decor.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

thinking about being thankful.

So perhaps this post is a little...late? To be honest, I wasn't really feeling very thankful leading up to the actual holiday & I'm not sure I'm loaded with thanksgivings right now either.

Now, I am thankful that my family is healthy, my babies are growing (the one on the outside and the one tucked inside for a few more months!), my husband loves me, my marriage is stronger today than it was last year, & right now I'm even thankful to go to bed at night with a clean house.

But to be thankful in the "everday" things, that's where I'm seeming to struggle. I've always been the one to see small blessings in our lives even when our bank account sat empty. I've been the encourager when we had to wait to pay one bill because there was only enough to pay some of the bills. I've even been the one to get really excited when we have money in our bank account at the end of the month, even if it's only a few dollars.

But the truth is, we are not poor. In relation to the world we live in....my husband and I live in such abundance, it's ridiculous that I even consider using the term "we're broke". Don't be fooled, we have heat, a tree with soon-to be presents underneath, meat in our freezer, and an occassional ice cream treat. But, it's a common phrase lately...from our mouths & other mouths. And, that terminology can just leave you feeling REALLY defeated.

November was a tough month, a kick in the face to be brutally honest. Between a lack of pay from my job for the two week vacation I took, a mis-hap in not paying the utility bill from last month, a broken car, broken glasses, etc...it was just a rough month financially. We live on a meager budget (like most we know) & are in a position to have "enough" to just get by. We came home from a wonderful (& budgetted for) vacation....and it's like November chose to take away that joy upon our return. I won't even get into what happened when a certain company turned us into collections saying we owed them $450 for equipment we had RETURNED. (No worries, a government consumer protection agency cleared this up for us a few weeks later)

I spent several evenings in November feeling anything but thankful. We were doing the BEST we could with what we had, why did I feel so...forgotten? Now, maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, but I spent a few nights in tears spilling my fears to my husband. He, in turn, kept telling me not to worry about tomorrow. (Ironic role reversal as these were the same things I was saying to him last year...)

And then as November came to a close, I recognized my failure in all of this---something I have avoided quite often. My faith was being put in our bank account, and not in My GOD. I was being blessed ALL around and I couldn't see it because of that small bank total I kept focusing on. My husband and I typically pour out praise over small things when we can see God's hand in it & I was NOT recognizing those things...and had not been for sometime.

So as December started, I did just that....
-We praised God that our in-laws had loaned us their car...and praised him again when my dad volunteered to fix my husband's car, for free.
-We praised God when we found ourselves blessed with several 20% off diaper coupons to amazon & stocked up on diapers for Lucy at the cheapest prices imaginable
-We praised God when we discovered our tree was one of the few decorations that escaped damage during flooding in our garage this winter...even if our ornaments weren't so lucky
-We praised God when he blessed a family member with incredible understanding about our delay in re-paying them
-We praised God when a bill was resolved & a subsequent refund check was sent to our home
-We praised God when my husband fixed his glasses with a popsicle stick
-We praised God when we decorated our home for Christmas with flannel fabric and art canvas
-We praised God when I was able to find items to fill my husband's stocking for free after coupons
-We praised God when we filled our freezers with meals for the next month or so, meat included :)
-We praised God when my current boss for my work at home job emailed me about an additional project she needs help on...that will add around $600 of income a month if it works out...even if it is just a possibility at the moment
-We praised God, not our bank account.

It's all too easy to put our faith in money, possessions, people, job stability, etc....and, oh, what a beating my heart took when I allowed it off course. And what a blessing it is to be getting back to faith in God alone, not our bank account, to provide for our needs....over & over again...

my husband pointed out that I had disallowed anonymous comments, that has now been resolved!

Brand-Name Bargains.

I'm a bargain shopper. I'm also a sucker for brand-name items. (This doesn't make me a snob, I'll always try the store-brand equivalent and sometimes switch, but typically brand-names win out.)

Believe it or not, bargain shopping and brand-name addiction can co-exist...often with the brand name coming out cheaper than store brand if you play your cards right.
I've talked before about combining my love for expensive kid's clothing with bargain shopping. And not that I'm endorsing anyone, but Gymboree almost always wins out in my mind of having cute and durable kid's clothing. Their prices are outrageous and I wouldn't even spend that money on adult-sized clothing, but when shopping smart, I can get what I want super cheap if I buy ahead for the next year, combine with a coupon, or if I simply wait for the item to be clearanced out (which happens often.) Example: on Black Friday I purchased two long-sleeve winter-themed shirts for Lucy, two packs of hairbows, an outfit for Baby #2, and 4 Christmas/Birthday gifts...for right at $50 shipped to my door. (Oh, and I'll also have a $25 off my next purchase coming in that box as well...)

Example #2, I'm pretty loyal to the type of toothpaste, deodorant, bar soap, razor, etc that I use. When I first started couponing, I wasn't sure the two could co-exist---but alas, I was wrong. Case in point: Read your coupon. (sorry for the terrible picture, btw...) Anyways, I recently had a stack of 4 coupons that read "Buy 1 secret deodrant get $5 off ANY Olay bar soap, body wash, or in shower body lotion." Perfect! I picked up the deodorant at around 2.25, and a 2 pack of bar soap at a similar price. Free deodorant and bar soap. And since I had four coupons...four free deodorants and four free packs of bar soap. I'm pretty confident this is less expensive than a store-brand similar product :)
And my last (recent) example of a brand-name bargain is really a no-brainer. If you haven't started buying diapers through Amazon's Mom program...well, then you should really start. It's quite possibly the easiest way to save money on diapers, they ship free to your door, and they are cheaper than buying at your local Target. (Again, not endorsing...just encouraging!) The program saves you 30% off diapers and ships them free to your doors. You can cancel your save and subscribe order as soon as you receive it and you'll receive no more shipments OR you can keep it saved and Amazon will continue to ship you diapers at the discounted rate.
I did some price-checking this weekend. The biggest box of Pampers size 5 I could find at Target was 136 count for $36, or .26 a diaper. Amazon sells the box of 156 diapers regularly for $40.15, or .26 a diaper. If you do subscribe and save, the price drops to $28.11 a box, or .18 a diaper. Awesome deal! BUT, it gets better! If you can get your hands on a coupon found in Parents magazine or Parenting: The Early Years, you'll locate a coupon for 20% off a diaper purchase. That drops the price to $20.79 shipped for free to your door, or .13 a diaper. And if Pampers aren't your style, this deal extends to Huggies, Luvs, and all sorts of wipes. I have a box of three large refill packages of Huggies Wipes (sell for $5-$6/package in stores) for $11. And, if you have amazon giftcards through Swagbucks....well, you'll be getting an even bigger deal. (and yes, that's my referral link if you sign-up---I earn matching points.)

I hope that's motivating to some....that good deals CAN be found on brand-name products with just a little bit of effort!

Friday, December 3, 2010

What Lucy's been up to....

I feel like our toddler is busy trying to grow up very quickly. She is starting to say new words, but we don't always hear them more than once after she says them the first time. :) We are working on that....

Lucy is very into wearing hats, mittens, and fuzzy socks lately. Part of that is enjoying dressing up, part of it is the drop in temperature. She loves bringing us oven mitts to wear and has a new purse that she likes to carry around and fill with items.

Her rocking chair is her favorite place these days. She stands in it and looks out the window, piles her animals in and out of it (and her diapers), and yesterday I found an empty milk jug sitting in the chair with her animals. Awesome.

She LOVES her daddy....she runs to the door when he gets home and lately the wind blowing so hard has tricked her several times into thinking daddy's home when he really isn't. They snuggle and watch cartoons in the morning and he handles bath time and storytime before bed. The other night Daddy had to work late and she just kept carrying her book to the door and pointing and asking for Da-Da....REALLY sad to watch. :(

She has said (for a while now) ma-ma, da-da, & duck. We now hear: no, yeah, juus (juice), nanna, whoa, what, arf (dog), uv you (love you). Again, sometimes only once or twice...except for "no", we hear that one A LOT. When asked to say "please" for a snack, she just lifts her shirt and points to her belly. That's our fault (and Yo Gabba Gabba's...for the whole song "there's a party in my tummy...)

She blows kisses to EVERYONE, gives kisses on the mouth when she feels like it, has had a few "time-outs" recently, loves to hold hands and guide you places, enjoys throwing things in the toilet and trashcan, starts the vacuum frequently and runs away, and chews on her crib (has LITERALLY ate a chunk out of her very nice crib) and books. She is active--and we love it!

She has an incredible personality and we are trying to get her to say please and thank you. (but right now she just points to her belly when she wants to eat something) :) We let her feel my belly and we talk to the baby. But she just says "yeah" and sticks her finger in my belly button. We've been trying to get her to say some of the baby names we like--I told Jon whichever she says first we'll go with.

She isn't the type to sit and watch TV--but she will occassionally watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She much prefers being on the go...all. day. long. :)

She'll usually nap mid-morning for at least an hour--sometimes two. That is her ONLY naptime of the day. In the afternoon she gets "quiet" time in her crib and I put on Sesame Street DVD's for her to watch. This lasts about 30-45 minutes. She has fallen asleep on occasion during those times. We try and get her to bed by about 8pm and she is still waking up at least once a night...and has been waking up anywhere from 6-7am. Usually at 6 if Daddy isn't ready to be up, she gets some milk and her sesame street DVD's then too...which she loves :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving in a nutshell.

My husband and I have traveled to the in-laws the last two years to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year we stayed put and celebrated the day with my family. I like that each year has looked a little different and that we have modified plans to fit our desires and needs of our growing family.

Wednesday night we headed to my Aunt's house and celebrated with my dad's side of the family over a meal of tacos :) It was so nice to get to catch up with the cousins and see all their kiddos. There were 11 kiddos there, 6 of which were 2 and under! My how we have grown over the years!

Thursday we relaxed all morning (I slept in--thanks to my hubby!) We ate pumpking pancakes from the freezer while my husband cooked sweet potatoes. We headed to my sister's home (with a quick trip to CVS on the way). We celebrated with my parents, sister, brother in law, and my niece and nephews. We didn't have much responsibility in terms of the meal---but overall the day was SO relaxing. No schedule, no place to go or people to entertain...just our small family unit. Enjoying food, conversation, and football! My mom, sister, and I began scanning the black friday ads and making our shopping lists.

Friday I decided to start later than our typical 4-5am departure time, with the hopes that we could meet up later. I didn't leave the house to shop until after 8 am, and I still managed to find most of the things I was hoping to--and then some, of course :) I never did meet up with my sister or mom--which turned out ok. I haven't had that much time out by myself since before Lucy was born. :)

The best way to describe our Thanksgiving this year was...restful. I enjoyed the laid-back nature of those days...and now we're just looking forward to Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

in which i justify that which needs NO justification.

Sometimes I wish we lived back in time...in a time where staying home with your children was considered a "job" and valuable.

Recently I was a part of a conversation in which other women and mothers were sharing about their jobs (incredible ones I might add) & one of these women looked at me and asked if I was staying home with Lucy.

my reply: "yes, and I'm also working 20 hours a week from home to help make ends meet."

Her reply: "oh, but you're not really using your degree?"

me: (gains composure) "well, I majored in Family Studies & Human Services...and did several semesters of coursework in child development and elementary education...so..yes, I'd say I'm using my degree."

another woman: "don't you get bored at home?"

me: (laughs...) "um, no...not really. Again, I'm working from home part-time AND taking care of a toddler all day who naps less than 2 hours of that time...and that's if I'm lucky. So no, I'd never say I'm bored."

What's my point? I'm tired. Tired of justifying that staying at home is valuable AND really is a full-time job in itself. Tired of justifying the fact that I don't need a career on my plate to feel successful as a woman. Tired of feeling as though mothers who work full-time outside the home are the "best kind", because they can "do it all." Tired of people thinking my days are filled with soap operas, ice cream, and luxurious naps. Tired of feeling like I have to provide an explanation why my husband and I chose this route...which, even if we had felt like I should continue working, almost 75% of my take home pay would have been put towards childcare during Lucy's first year of life. so NOT worth it to us.

Now, I know several moms who work outside the home and this is is NO way an attack on them. My point here is not to say there is a right or wrong, a better or a worse. Everyone has to make decisions that make sense in their situation.

I personally know several moms who desire to be home with their babies, but it is simply not an option. I know moms who work outside the home (part and full-time) to help make ends meet or simply for the sake of insurance benefits (another soap box topic for another day, health insurance that is) I know moms (like myself) who are generating income from home part-time...which presents it's own set of challenges and I know several moms who have some of the neatest jobs that they feel called to do & I'm so thankful for their talent to continue what they're doing.

But, using one's degree in a full-time career outside the home does not make them a better mom than me...anymore than me staying at home full-time does NOT make me a better mom than them.

And I'm sure moms who work outside the home feel judgement just the same. And I hate that...we're all moms. We're all doing the best we can in our given situations (stay at home, work from home, work outside the home, etc...) And honestly, every situation looks incredibly different---even when comparing two stay at home moms.

I just wish I didn't feel the need to justify my husband and I's decision...or explain to others what our days really look like.

(and, I'll admit it....in those newborn days, there were a few luxurious naps and soap operas....and maybe some ice cream :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

5 kiddos and one swimming pool turned ball pit..

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience what my life would be like if I was mom to 5 kiddos...age 7 and under. Of course, my experience was only for an afternoon and I had Toy Story 3 and animal crackers in my corner as bargaining tools. :)

My sister is a proud mama to four kiddos--one girl (7), and three boys (5,3,&23 months). She had a few errands to run that day and since I was home with 6 loads of laundry, I volunteered my home and Lucy's toys to entertain her kiddos so she could experience kid-free errands for a day.

Now, my niece and nephews LOVE their cousin Lucy...so they were stoked to be spending the day at Aunt Rachel's (though they were more stoked when Uncle Jon came home from work...) They played all afternoon in the swimming pool turned ball pit, cooked up gourmet plastic meals at Lucy's kitchen, and watched the latest Toy Story while I folded those 6 loads of laundry.

They are an active bunch...but I totally love their energy and imagination. I see a lot of their outgoing personality traits in Lucy...and she becomes quite the daredevil herself when they're around. :)

My sister loved the time out and I enjoyed getting to have play mates for Lucy in which I didn't have to leave my home. Lucy was a fan of the attention (she thrives around other kiddos) & all in all it was a pretty good day.

My favorite part was when my brother in law (their dad) called to see if I had to call the cops/other emergency assistance yet....I knew he was kidding, but you really just never know with that bunch :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the holiday season rewind.

My husband and I were discussing the fact that, yes, there is indeed a baby growing inside of me and it's not just residual baby belly from Blessing #1 :)

Anyways, we talked about the upcoming holiday season and how at Christmas I'll be 27 weeks pregnant....and then we talked about the holiday season over the last four years. Now, if you know me in real life (or if you have taken the time to read my profile) you'll understand that our lives have changed a LOT since we rang in the new year in 2008.

Let's rewind a bit.

Holiday season 2007. I'm quite the single gal....with quite the crush on this one special guy. He's quite the single guy with quite the crush on this one special gal. We talk to each other over Christmas, several times in fact. But alas, we both celebrate Christmas 2007 solo.

Then, 5 days later....my now husband asks me out :) So, at least we got to celebrate New Years Eve 2007 as a couple. We get engaged 3 months later and meet each other at the front of our church a little over four months after that.

Holiday season 2008, we are with child....as in, my uterus is now home to Blessing #1. I'm 12 weeks pregnant....we're newlyweds....and I'm loving how God's plan is shaping up.

Holiday season 2009 we have a six-month old daughter! We play Santa, play in the snow, and stay in our jammies all day long!

And this Holiday season--2010? I will be 27 weeks pregnant with Blessing #2.

We don't have the "typical" story....or maybe we do?

Either way, I can say with complete confidence that we had nothing to do with it. Our God is faithful in ordaining time, situations and babies. Ok, so we had a little to do with that :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

one year devoted...

Last week my husband and I completed a journey we had been on for 365 days together.

One year ago we both were desiring some direction in our spiritual journey together. We needed to add something to our prayer time at night together and we were in a place were we needed to truly be focusing on our marriage.

Now, I've started many devotionals, reading plans & books...and I last usually 3-5 days on that plan. Maybe that's why the completion of this journey feels like such an accomplishment...maybe it's because our marriage relationship has been challenged and strengthened over the past year...maybe it's a little of both.

Last November we walked into the Christian bookstore with a goal in mind. Both fans of the movie Fireproof, our eyes and hearts were attracted to the Love Dare Devotional.

Of course I was ridiculously skeptical and I would be lying if I didn't say there weren't moments where this devotional was a bit...over the top? And no, it wasn't filled with theologically driven writings. It was basic. to the point. exactly what we needed at that point in life.

Either way, my husband and I committed to the task and added this nightly reading to our prayer time together. Each week there was an assigned dare...and while we purposed to do a few, most fell to the side. I don't think that ruined the experience.

With the exception of the night my best friend got married...and the night we were both so angry with each other we went to bed without speaking (yes, even cute couples like us have our moments...) we completed each night's reading.

We sat in bed last week discussing how far we've come individually and as a couple this past year. We talked about the highs and lows of our year and what we felt like God was doing in our lives presently. We dreamed out loud about the future and we smiled as we opened our Love Dare Devotional for the last time.

A year ago I was skeptical we'd make it through a week of this reading. Now I'm stoked to think with my husband what we'll tackle next.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas card

Love 2010 Christmas Card
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My freezer is full, my Kitchen is clean, and I am satisfied...

We filled our freezer once again this weekend with meals, sides, and odds and ends. If you recall, we did this a few months back....and let me tell you, we were quite delighted with the results then. We've made mental notes about our last freezer cooking session..what worked, what didn't, meals that didn't turn out quite right (fries and breakfast sandwiches), meals we wanted to try this time (pancakes, BBQ Beef, Pizza Pockets) and I made a plan.

Throughout the month I've been mindful of what we have on hand and stocked up on staple items needed to cook with. And while we will end up about $100 over our typical grocery budget of $180 a month ($45/week), I'm still satisfied. The extra $100 came as a result of having no meat in our freezers. So, armed with several packages of chicken, a roast, hamburger meat, a turkey, and a ham...we went a bit over :) Granted, the turkey was free with the purchase of a Ham...but I digress.

So what's filling our freezers right now?

Chicken & Bacon Sub Sandwiches (ready to be grilled) x 3 meals worth
Taco Kits (Shells in the pantry, cooked meat/cheese in freezer) x 3 meals worth
Lasagna x1
Enchiladas (sauce in pantry, meal in freezer) x2
Shredded BBQ Beef (meat and buns in freezer, sides in pantry) x1 (Should have been x2, but we had this for dinner one night while cooking :)
Bacon-Cheeseburger Roll-up kit (Cooked bacon/meat/cheese in freezer, pizza crust in fridge) x1
Pizza Pockets x 3 meals worth
Bean and Chicken burritos x 6 meals worth

Pumpkin Pancakes x33
Blueberry Pancakes x13
Pop-Tarts x 8

Odds and Ends:
Cooked and Shredded Chicken for Lucy x 8 bags
Hashbrowns x 13 bags
Smoothies x7

That gives us 20 full meal options (granted, some of the pizza pockets and burritos will go with Jonathan to work, but still), plenty of quick breakfast items for Lucy, and Smoothies for me in the afternoon :)

Now I'll be the first to admit that we eat very simply around here...or are right now. I could prepare more elaborate dinner items--and likely will in the future, but life demands simplicity in regards to everything right now...so if taco kits help simplify life a little more, count me in.

We also have the makings of 6 additional dinners in our pantry/fridge...So we'll be eating well for a good month or more (with left-overs in between)

The process seemed so stress-free this time..and dare I say, easy? Even with a sick baby who wasn't sleeping, a potential concussion from a head bang I endured while grocery shopping, and my husband I both having work responsibilities...the whole process was very smooth!

Three things I liked best this time:
1.) Jonathan cooked up all the meat and seasoned appropriately at the very start which helped me put together meals much more quickly than cooking meat as we needed it.
2.) We took our time...in fact I just made and put the lasagna in the freezer yesterday
3.) We tried some new things! The pizza pockets were awesome...as were the pancakes! I'm excited to keep trying new things each time so we have a great list of things to cook before the baby arrives!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time to send out the Christmas Cards...

This item has been on my to-do list. Last year I managed to snag a deal for 50 free photo cards and I wrote a letter highlighting our past year. This year I'm trying to streamline the process---getting the photo + letter into one place :)

I've been browsing online for different designs and had spent a fair amount of time on Shutterfly browsing their collection for holiday cards. I didn't have our Christmas cards printed from there last year, and although I got the photo cards for free last year, I wish we would have sent out a more quality card for Lucy's first Christmas.

I have, however, ordered from Shutterfly before. We announced the birth of our beautiful daughter with a design from their Birth Announcement collection. And...I may have been browsing for the birth announcement for our next little one....

:) If it's another little girl, I'm thinking this is the ONE. I love the simplicity of the design...and the focus on the cute little baby

And if a boy is headed our way, THIS would be my choice. I love the colors---and feel like there is even a level of simpleness in it.

Anyways...back to Christmas cards! I'm having a tough time deciding...but one of my favorite designs is THIS. I love the brown and I love that I can incorporate our Christmas update into the card---saves me a step!

And..if you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift, consider a photo gift. I ordered Jonathan a photo calendar from Shutterfly last year to hang in his office and he's loved it! Plus, after the year is over we'll save the calendar as a keepsake.

Another reason I'm really digging Shutterfly this year? They're offering 50 free holiday cards to bloggers who blog about this promotion! Interested in getting 50 cards yourself? Fill out the submission form here. You will be emailed with further instructions and once you complete your blog post, you should receive a code to put in for your 50 free holiday cards!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chaotic Holidays

Thanksgiving is next week...what? Weren't we just dressing up to receive free candy and carving pumpkins? Wow. Typically the holidays sneak up in mad fashion but this year they just have completely caught me off guard.

Sadly, the three things I thought about while realizing the holiday season truly was "just around the corner", were...

1.) "I have no idea on earth where ANY of our decorations landed in the move."

2.) "Where on earth are we supposed to get extra money for gifts?"

3.) "I REALLY hope one year we'll make it through without feeling totally guilty."

Now, I'm not a grinch personality at all...I love the holidays, the changing seasons, the decor that corresponds, Black Friday, etc... But this year I have felt fatigue when thinking about the holidays--deciding what to do, buy, etc...has just really started taking the joy out of what we're really celebrating.

We received several pieces of advice before we were married about what to do when holiday season rolled around---one of the best pieces was to make sure we took time to create our own family traditions (ie: don't try to cram in a visit to every Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, etc.)

Each year our celebrations have looked a little different, but we have managed to keep Christmas morning as an intimate time with Mr. B and now our precious lil' gal. I love waking up knowing there is no rush to be anywhere, hanging out in our pajamas as we open gifts and eat breakfast while sipping something warm, I love resting and treasuring that time with my husband and daughter. And for reasons many people won't understand, I'm also very protective of that tradition. (Our one and only thus far...)

But I feel like it gets a little harder each year as we make decisions about how to spend the holidays...especially now that children are involved. I end up feeling guilty over things I shouldn't and I've been guilty of almost wishing we can rush through the season to avoid the unavoidable hurt feelings.

However, one of my favorite bloggers today posted about how they do holidays...and I felt, supported? Knowing I'm not the only one out there who favors intimate time (if even for a few hours) as a small family unit.

So I'm feeling better about this approaching season. I'm focusing on what this season is really about and letting go of any unneccessary guilt I feel.

After all, my new goal is experiencing True Rest....even at the holidays :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A return to coupons...

October was a vacation month. A vacation to Disneyworld, a vacation from work, a vacation from real life, and a vacation from couponing even. I think it's good to take a break even from coupon shopping every once in a while.

However, our linen closet isn't as stuffed as we're accustomed to, our pantry needs some re-stocking, and I really want to see both stuffed before this baby makes his/her debut. :) I make it a goal to keep several boxes of toothpaste, razors, shave gel, wipes, etc. in our closet so as to never have to make a "quick" trip to Wal-mart...because, those trips are never quick and they are NEVER cheap.

So, this week I emptied out my coupon album. Cut out hundreds of coupons and got pretty excited with what coupons had been available the last few weeks. I purchased 5 newspapers a few weeks back...(and yes, that cost $10 to do so...but I always buy more than one paper at the beginning of the month because the best coupon inserts are in there...and the coupons I cut out of there will easily save me $100 or more.)

One of my favorite coupon to find is one that leads to a free product...like this one...$1.00 off ANY one size Tide.

Which leads to a bag in our linen closet like this..
Yup, I purchase travel size items for free...because they work the exact same! In fact on our recent vacation, I took several of these packets with us and did laundry for free in our condo. And, should I need laundry soap if I ever happen to run out--I have a good 30 packages ready to go in my linen closet.
I don't claim to be "cool"...I just claim to be frugal and creative. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thriving in Survival Mode.

Life has been....busy? hectic? stressful? hmmm...I just can't choose one word to describe it.

Between growing a baby in my belly, dealing with a fussy toddler, working from home, keeping our home running, outside activities, and spending time with my sweet husband, life has felt like survival mode....at best.

And yet, in the midst of this pretty rough week, I have felt like we are actually thriving. After some thought as to how I could arrive at such a conclusion after the lack of sleep we've been through and the incredible frustration of this never-ending balancing act, I realized the reason I've felt like we're actually thriving is because of some of the elements we've worked so hard to put into place the last few months.

Let's face it, when you're exhausted and you've spent the entire day trying to work and wrestle an exhausted and sick child, the last thing you want to do is cook a nice dinner. Enter meals from our freezer! A while back we spent a weekend filling our freezer and we have thoroughly enjoyed the reward--in fact, we've emptied almost everything we cooked and are planning another cooking session.

The second is our household routine schedule. I'm still tweaking this to get it the way I feel most benefits our family---but at the end of a crazy week, our house is clean, laundry is done, and I haven't felt stressed about it one bit. By having a schedule like this, I was able to look at the chores and decide what needed the most attention and what could be ignored a while longer...and, since we've stayed on top of things, picking up messes or dusting furniture is a fairly quick process.

The third is a three-part plus. I've started making some of our own household cleaners and laundry soap. Earlier this week, when I ran out of kitchen counter cleaner I just mixed up another batch instead of having to make a trip to the store.

Similarly, I keep a well-stocked linen closet with personal care products (though it's looking a bit sparse lately--more on that later.) Instead of having to make a weekly wal-mart run or an impromptu trip whenever we run out of toothpaste, I just shop in my closet and save us a trip, time, and money. Oh, and it helps that most of those products were free or nearly free. Also, we've been buying diapers on amazon lately as part of the free Amazon mom program and Parenting magazine coupons. When my husband pulled the last diaper out of a box this week, there was already a reserve box waiting to be used.

Now, before you think that I must have it all together or that I'm showing off--you should know I haven't put on make-up all week, I've only left the house once, and I'm currently wearing my husband's sweats and a bleach-stained t-shirt. Oh, and I also wore the same yoga pants/shirt combo three times in a row this week. But, looking awesome wasn't high on my priority list this week.

I'm excited to feel like we're making some head way in home management techniques that actually work in our home---the trick has been tweaking every suggestion I've come across to match OUR home and OUR unique needs. I'm thankful that we're seeing progress in this area and feeling like we can actually thrive, even in survival mode....because in five months we're going to have a newborn in this house demanding attention....and it's going to be survival mode for quite some time :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frugal Fun...

When we returned home for our vacation last month, I was on the hunt for more age appropriate toys and activities for my active toddler. Toy keys and teething rings were just not entertaining the little girl the way they used to! :)

So, I pulled her inflatable baby pool out of the garage from this summer and skipped on over to Target to purchase a $15 bag of balls.

The results of our "homeade" ball pit have been very favorable...both with our little one and her four cousins that came to play this afternoon. The best part? It was WAY cheaper to make our own ball pit than spill the money towards a store bought one.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

He IS my Shepherd

Our chuch is teaching from Psalm 23 for the next several weeks and after one message, I'm feeling challenged...and based on conversations with my husband and others, I'm not the only one.

Oh to talk about true rest...not just a movie night, a long nap, or a day spent shopping alone....but that elusive "true rest." Well, let's just say there's a lot I'm wrestling with lately and this message couldn't have been more timely. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks as well.

To be honest, I've felt overwhelmed lately. I felt overwhelmed before our vacation and I felt overwhelmed upon returning. I have felt rushed, busy, overcommitted, exhausted, and just plain cranky. I feel it in my relationships with other...and I have felt it spiritually. I feel a sense of frustration that I can't keep up, pull it all off, or have it all together...whatever those things actually mean (because if we were all to be honest, none of us keeps up, pulls it all off, or has it all together...)

I'm sick of putting myself in competition with other moms..either in real life or via the blog world...because I have a feeling if I peeked inside their real life, I'd see just how rushed and unrested they felt as well.

And let's face it...I'm 5 months pregnant and chasing a toddler all day...that alone is a full time job! Toss in chuch commitments, outside activities, Lucy's social agenda, working 20+ hours a week from home, trying to keep house, maintain a budget, buy things at rock-bottom prices, grow my marriage, play with my daughter, plan a menu, bring snacks to various activities, keep up with friendships....etc, etc, etc....and eventually? SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE.

I'm not playing a comparison game. We all feel busy. We are all way too busy. We all pile too much on our plate. We all long for true rest.

So this week, I'm going to work on time management...and not as in "I got everything done I wanted to do so I'm good at time management!" Rather, I'm going to think about what needs to get done each week, what I want to get done each week, and realistically what my time looks like....because I'm guessing something has to go....even if just for a short while.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to reflect on Psalm 23, focus on quality time with my husband, and get down on the floor and play as much as I can with my crazy little toddler.

Crafts, cleaning, and deal shopping can wait.

He IS my Shepherd.

Monday, November 1, 2010

wrapping up October and diving into November

I promised a lot of great posts and photos upon returning from vacation and I haven't quite delivered..because, well, I came down with a case of exteme exhaustion..(Um, where exactly is that second trimester energy burst?!?!) Lucy ended up sick towards the end of the week and I also had to dive right back into my work from home routine. Finding 20 + hours a week to work from home is becomingly increasingly difficult. I'm hoping to wrap up some loose ends this afternoon---and then it's time to tackle some household chores.

I was thrilled to come home to a super clean house. My husband and I worked hard the last few days before leaving for vacation to ensure that cleaning would be the last thing we'd need to worry about. Right now remnants of our vacation are strewn from one side of the home to the other, but we'll get back into a routine.

Speaking of which, our goal for October was to put together a household schedule of chores, activities, priorities, and fun tasks. With prep for vacation and the actual vacation itself, it's hard to judge how much this actually helped--but I'm continuing on with the schedule through November to see what needs to be tweaked.

Also in November, my husband and I are doing some brainstorming (again) about cost-cutting and savings. We enjoyed our vacation so much...we've been inspired to start saving for another! Now, we have NO wiggle room in our budget--so saving might only be a couple of bucks a month, but we're determined to start somewhere!

We both are also committing to one another to be in the Word everyday. I'm in an incredible study at church that works through one book of the bible a week, so this isn't a hard challenge for me--but the hope is to keep me focused and going. Jonathan's also been doing a lot of reading as well, but we'd still love the added encouragement from one another!

Those are our goals for November--and I'm also working on some home projects as well...more on that later!

Monday, October 25, 2010

MIA...for like, two weeks?

It's true....I had a whole host of things to write about prior to our big trip and now I've been off the map for well over two weeks. Right now I'm blogging from Tampa--awaiting our delayed flight home.

That's right, I spent the last 10 days in Florida...and they had unseasonably high temperatures as well. We spent 6 days in 4 different Disney Parks, attended Mickey's Not-so Scary Halloween party, swam in the Ocean, flew over the Ocean, and even slept near the ocean.

I'll be sharing more about our trip in the next few weeks--complete with photos.

I'm sad to be heading back--I mean, it's always nice to go home...but it's been much nicer to be away from reality for awhile. My husband and I have had some great talks about new ways to save money---and have started planning our "goals" for the month of November...more on that later as well.

But, I'm also glad to be heading back. The break from "reality" is just what we all needed---even if we're coming back exhausted and sun-burned...I'm excited for the fresh creativity I have and some neat ideas for blogging, freelancing, and managing my home.

Vacation does a mind good...even if it wore out this pregnant mama's body.

Speaking of which, I'll have pregnancy updates as well!

So, lots to write about upon our ACTUAL arrival to Kansas!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

16 weeks, aka 4 months pregnant!

(so, the baby belly is come and go...but this week we're definitely noticing that it's starting to harden up, as in, take shape and not just look chubby all the time :)

Size of baby? Avocado

Total weight gain/loss? Zero pounds--as of my visit to urgent care a few days ago

Gender? Don't know & probably won't be finding out!

Maternity clothes? Yes! And LOVE them. God bless the inventor of stylish maternity clothes....and men's sweats that sneak out of my husband's drawer and into mine :)

Movement? Thought I might have felt something the other night laying in bed--but can't be sure

Sleep? Getting some finally

Symptoms? No nausea to note this week and the cramps have let up...just super sleepy....

What I miss? lifting Lucy without worrying about it giving me a side stitch

Cravings? Sweet tarts.

Best Moment this week? Realizing on the way to the library that I'm going to have TWO babies in a matter of months!

Looking forward to? Our trip to Florida!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I have my good days....

I don't have it all together. I don't pretend to have it all together. Take for example right now, my daughter and I are both still in pajamas (it's 11am)---she has refused a morning nap and our kitchen floor still has remains of last night's dinner. What you see is what you get here. My goal is to keep the major things MAJOR (loving my daughter, treasuring this time with her, encouraging my husband, etc..) and the minor things MINOR (keeping a clean home, always looking put together, etc...) It's easy for these things to get out of balance, and my God is faithful to convict me when they start to.

Yesterday Lucy went down for her morning nap at the scheduled time. I ate breakfast, got dressed, did hair/make-up, and finished up my bible study during that hour and twenty minute block of time. We played a lot after nap time until it was time for lunch....and then we played a lot after lunch time. Around 1:45, I loaded her up in the stroller and we walked up to the library for story time. I was feeling pretty "put together" yesterday and then I walked into the library and sat down on the floor.....and then I realized that I had dried applesauce all up and down the legs of my black pants, a slight mishap from lunch. And I started to let thoughts of "oh my goodness, I bet these people think I don't care about my appearance/think I don't know how to wash clothes/think I'm a bad wife for not trying to be attractive for my husband..." And then I looked at my daughter who was dancing to the music, blissfully unaware that her mom was wearing her lunch....and I stopped caring.

Now I don't purposefully do those sorts of things, but those things humble me enough to remind me to keep the major things major....and to throw the minor things out the door.

We checked out some books and came home yesterday afternoon and read them. I taught her to roar like a dinosaur and we played with my make-up brushes until Daddy rolled up. We ate dinner as a family before I rushed off to Bible study. Around 10pm last night she woke up and would not go back to sleep, instead of getting frustrated--I took her out of the crib and we cuddled under a big blanket on the couch.

I have my good days....

Monday, October 4, 2010

for everything there is a list...

Armed with the first glass of warm apple cider of this season I set out to complete a major project this afternoon.

I wrote 7 lists....well 6 new ones and updated my ongoing to-do list :)

1. I made a "crafts I'd like to work on" list.

2. A "focus area" list---as in, whenever there's a spare afternoon---I can refer to this list for large projects I can work on (ie: going through our massive bookshelf, DVD collection, etc..)

3. A home inventory list. I stockpile personal care items, paper products, pantry staples, and cleaning items when I get great deals--but sometimes there will be less than desirable sales and we'll find ourselves out of a particular item--which ultimately leads to a trip to wal-mart....which typically leads to finding 2-3 more things we need. So, I have an inventory list to check once a week and see if we're in need of (or will be needing soon) a particular item that can be added to the shopping list.

4 & 5. A BF and AF list, as in "before Florida" and "after Florida". We're headed out of town for ten days in the next couple of weeks and there is a LOT do do before the trip---and I'm assuming there will be many things that need to be on the "after" list as well, I'd just like to be prepared

6. And finally, a cleaning/activity schedule for the home. I had a cleaning schedule in the apartment that worked fairly well. The concept is assign tasks to each day---if they don't get done, it doesn't get done. Now, I have 5 things that are on EVERY DAY with the hopes that if the dishes don't get finished on Monday, they will on Tuesday. I made a list of every chore that needs to be completed and how many times a week I'd ideally love to have it done (ie: mop kitchen floors 3 times, pick-up bedroom 2 times, etc) I added to this schedule what activities we have on each day and I added a "paper pushing/etc" section which includes items like bill paying, coupon clipping, bank account updating, set aside reading time, craft time, and focus area time. This list has been a work in progress for a few weeks and I'm finally happy with how it looks.

Now, I need to rewind a bit---I love lists. I crave organization. I appreciate a nice clean home...BUT it is NOT and (never will be) my top...or even close to the top of my priorities list. I am a realistic gal who is quite aware that I don't have it all together and never will---and I'm certainly not going to pretend that I do :) I have a very active lil' gal who sleeps less than I would like her to and a husband who works a very varied schedule---those relatioships get my whole attention first...and if that means nothing gets checked off that week, it's quite ok with my husband and I.

The second reason for this list is that I have a very hands-on husband. Yes, I "stay home" (which is quite deceptive--because I actually work 20 hours from home a week, but I digress...) Anyways, Mr. B and I share just about every responsibility in the home...though I am solely in charge of updating our bank account (I have a special system for that) and he's solely responsible for taking the trash out :) I'd say that's pretty fair...

Anyways, my sweet husband often asks what he can help me with and some days I'm so frazzled that I have a really hard time thinking about what I need help with--our hope is if he can see a visible list and what is checked off, he'll be able to help and bypass talking to a crazy woman :)

So that's our October goal---which is probably the worst possible timing given the aforementioned trip....so it'll probably just be a "fall" goal. Having a schedule and seeing if that helps maintain order and actually make "keeping house" easier...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

so, how'd we do?

At the beginning of September we set out with the goal of spending less than $160 on groceries for the whole month ($40 a week)

We've continued to cut spending in all areas, but our grocery budget has always been a struggle to really cut significantly.

Well, the total is in and we spent $164.72 for the entire month. Now I'll admit we ate out more than normal this month, but honestly I don't think that affected our grocery spending. We still have many items in the freezer ready to be eaten and many items in the pantry for the making of more meals.

We're hoping to continue cutting the budget in the next few months--but this month we are headed on vacation and will be buying groceries for the trip and in Florida--so I expect some higher spending.

All in all, we're pleased. We attribute a lot of our "success" to having a handful of freezer meals ready to go, adding to our stockpile of pantry staples throughout the month, and shopping for the best prices.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

15 weeks (a few days late...)

(I'll answer the survey questions next week---I think I'll do those every 4 weeks...and maybe I'll be able to get a belly picture again!)

So to mark the celebration of being 15 weeks along...cause I mean, it's like less than 1/3 of the way, right?? :) Anyways...we made a pit stop to the Doctor's after hours office last night because the cramping had increased and the OB on call thought it wise to see if I had an infection. A few abnormal cells--but nothing to indicate an infection. So, lots of fluids and lots of "takin' it easy" this weekend to see if the cramping reduces.

With this past weekend being not high on rest, we all went into the week worn out and it's been downhill since. My husband stayed home to work on Thursday morning which allowed me to get some much needed rest and take away some of the cramps throughout my body.

I've been nauseous everyday this week...I really thought we were passed that and all of a sudden it's back and I've brought back the saltine's and pregnancy pops.

But, we're excited! We're talking about whether or not Baby #2's gender will be a suprise---right now we're leaning towards not finding out with this pregnancy...and that's made things a bit interesting to think/dream about! I can't believe in a matter of months (ok....like 5 months) we'll have a second little one to snuggle with! What a great unexpected blessing!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

new experiences.

Polar bears, 1st carousel ride, 1st shared ice cream cone with her sweet cousin=Lucy's first trip to the zoo!

My sister has a season pass to the KC Zoo and today Lucy and I joined my sister and her three youngest boys for the afternoon. I don't have a lot of photos--I mean, let's face it....when you're at the zoo with four kiddos under the age of 5 it makes it a bit more difficult!

However, I managed to snap this one on my phone. Gage is about 6 months older than Lucy and he was NOT interested in sharing his ice cream cone. Carter, Lucy's 3 year old cousin, gladly shared his ice cream bar. Anyways, something about that interaction triggered Gage to hold his ice cream cone out for Lucy and the two of them took turns back and forth. By the end they were both a sticky mess, my sister and I were cracking up and I was delighted to get to create such fun memories.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

out of control discipline

(hmm...I thought I had this scheduled to post early this morning...I'll figure out the automatic post times sometime!)

What do you get when you put together a Family Studies major with a Criminal Justice major-turned social service worker? Two people with LOTS of ideas, thoughts and concerns about human behavior and discipline.

My husband and I talk about parenting....a LOT. Before we were married we began talking about how we saw our family. What we liked growing up, what we felt could have been different, how we'd like to raise our kids, our thoughts on homeschooling, whether or not spanking is effective, etc....We have a variety of books on our bookshelf about parenting, discipline, and even homeschooling. We take each book not as a reference guide, but merely as a discussion starter---and the homeschooling book? We just want to be educated should we ever decide that one or more of our children would benefit more from being educated at home.

With both of us having backgrounds in the foster care world we've seen "discipline" go horribly wrong. We watch what others around us do and talk about what methods we feel are or are not effective....but mostly, we just talk about what we'd like to try.

Lucy is nearing the age where she can recognize a few things that are not acceptable behaviors---but we get that she still needs a lot of reminding that we don't play with DVD's. :)

Now my husband and I have both been guilty of being the parents that literally say "NO" all day long...and often at increasing volumes. But last week (after one of those days) I felt really convicted about my attitude. Sure, I'm exhausted, sore and growing a baby--but Lucy doesn't get that. She's just exploring her world and I was trying to stop that explorative spirit. The next day at MOPS--our speaker further tugged at my heart about nurturing my daughter's creativity and changing my focus from worrying about the "minor" things.

That night (and into this weekend) my husband and I talked at great lengths about how can we teach our daughter to obey us as parents while also not creating an environment so controlled that we kill her curious spirit? We don't have many answers yet---but we're on the same page and enjoying the discussion. We know there are certain things that she must learn she can't touch---and the other things? Well, it's merely an annoyance for us to have to put all the towels back in the drawer for example--but for her, it's a good 15 minutes of fun finding the towels, unfolding them, lining them up on the floor and then sitting on each one. It takes us two minutes to clean up---and soon she'll be at the age when she can start helping.

It's easy for me to forget sometimes that my daughter is only 14 months old...and developmentally she can't possibly remember or even predict what things are off limits...especially in new environments. My husband's job and my education have continually reminded us of that fact and the fact that discipline can (and often should) look differently for each of our children. We're learning, talking and adjusting our ideas and expectations---which honestly, I feel like is the best part of all of this. We know we're going to have days when we fail miserably---but we'd like to be able to get it "right" most of the time! :)

I love that my daughter is curious. I love that she doesn't show much fear and will willingly go play with other children and hug family members she hasn't seen in a while. I love the excitement in her eyes when she figures something out or discovers where all of her shoes are "hidden". I don't want to kill this curiousity by saying "NO" to every minor thing and losing my cool daily.

....and for that, I'm going to need a LOT of grace :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

14 weeks...and some odd days

A little late getting a pregnancy update on here--a trip out of town Fri-Sunday put us a bit behind in every aspect of life it seems.

Baby #2 is 14 (almost 15 weeks) baked. We had an appointment last Thursday and were able to hear the heartbeat. The doctor was having a hard time finding it--but located it quick enough for us to hear it briefly--but we weren't able to get a heartrate because it was so difficult to locate. No weight gain yet, but the belly is starting to shape up (or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that I look more pregnant than fat? hmmm.... :)

We're getting excited--I think the shock of "oh my goodness we're going to have two babies under the age of two!" has worn off a bit and we've moved on to talking about baby names, nursery ideas, and planning for a smooth transition.

Physically speaking I feel exhausted...still. I'm incredibly sore already. I had a lot of back pain and cramping throughout my first pregnancy and the pains seemed to have started sooner this time around. Partly that's due to obviously caring for a toddler right now--and partly due to the travelling in a car this weekend and sleeping arrangements. The nausea for the most part has disappeared---though I did manage to throw up a lot Friday night while out of town in a hotel room....but my husband and I are calling that a fluke and both praying that we're past at least one discomfort.

I'm hoping for the second trimester energy boost to show up any day now and we're going to try a back support belt that my doctor recommended.

Otherwise we're preparing for a big (big as in several years in the making!) trip to Florida in a few weeks, trying to get caught up on work for my job at home, working to keep up with one curious lil' gal, and learning a lot about parenting and discipline (but that's another blog post!)