Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Week Between

I typically love the week between Christmas and New Years.  In general, it's an opportunity to rest after the rush of the holidays & to reflect on the year that is coming to close while also preparing for the year to come.

I spend the week between in cozy clothes.  I jot notes about things that worked well in home management this past year and I dream about ways to make life run more smoothly in the year to come.  I plan goals, write to-do lists, watch old movies & enjoy finding homes for presents.

This year I started planning for this week before it even arrived.  Last year's goal-setting was so....off the mark.  For starters, I set some great goals.....but I didn't take into account the new little life that would be joining our family.  As I've mentioned time and time again....we're just "getting by" here.

And sometimes that's okay.

But as I look to 2012, I'm filled with ideas of how to make life more efficient....how to make time for what's really important...and how to create margin in the day-day "must dos".

I'm planning to re-vamp our chore schedule, my planner/planning system, do a major organization overhaul, carve out time to sharpen some skills, tackle some DIY projects in our home to truly make it our home.

I have "to read in 2012" list to be written, planning sheets to be designed and printed, a new filing system to be set up....and so on...

...however, this year's "week between" is knocking us all down.  From teething to colds, and most recently, a stomach bug, we are all slowly falling down.  I'm typing this while I rest in bed during naptime for the kids...praying that I don't fall victim to the stomach bug myself. 

So the "week between" may be a little delayed this year---but the thought is there....and while sick, the rest & old movie watching is also present.

Monday, December 5, 2011

a blown challenge

Yeah....so...blogging everyday for the month of November didn't happen.  I'm ok with that.

To catch you up:

made a mad dash to finish homeade gifts for Thanksgiving/Christmas with the in-laws
spent a week out of town at the in-laws
spent a week recovering from a week out of town
it's the next week...still feel like we're all "recovering"

the trip was great--but still exhausting.
But really it was last week's super busy work schedule that my husband had that made coming home feel so exhausting.  I think I still have one bag that has not been unpacked--and I'm ok with that.

There is no Christmas decor up....and I blew it on getting anything ready for advent---and right now, I'm ok with that.

Instead, Lucy and I have spent most mornings curled up on the couch watching cartoons and movies---with me often enjoying some pinterest viewing as well.

I have some things to share....later....like some new takes on discipline/parenting that my husband and I have discovered, a cookbook I'm really enjoying, switching insurance plans,  plans to "make-over" our home on a $0 budget, the fact that I can never find a planner I enjoy---so I'm making my own---again, prepping for potty-training?, my sweet 8-month old (not so little) guy, how I ended up with 49 bottles of dawn dish soap....and more, I'm sure.

Oh, and with the $0 budget make-over plan & the need for a new planner and organization---comes a whole host of home organizational projects.

and maybe, just maybe....I'll be able to share some of this before Christmas....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You make time for what is important to you

I've alluded to this topic many....many times before. 

About six weeks ago I felt overcome by fatigue of the rut I had dug myself into.  Sure, there has been a lot on my plate to manage....and sure, there are things going on that are out of my control.  BUT, my frustration was coming from my own lack of discipline across many layers of life.  I was disappointed that I wasn't getting done what I wanted to get done...nor was I accomplishing "goals" I had set in my head.

After pouring out my frustrations with my husband I realized that so much of my frustrations were from areas of life that while they felt like they were out of my control, there were things I could do to improve in them. 

I've made lofty goals before and failed miserably.  Mostly because I've set goals out of selfish ambition, pridefully seeking out my own self-interests and ignoring what God would desire of my time and talent.

So, like in all areas of planning in my life....I made a spreadsheet.

I identified nearly 20 areas/goals/domains that I either wanted to maintain or improve on.....

And then for six weeks, I prayed through that list.  Over and over again not just recognizing the "area", but the importance behind it.  Why do I REALLY want a clean home?  Is it to look impressive/be able to brag/make myself feel better than other moms?  Or do I want to create a peaceful environment for my family? 

I am ashamed to admit that goal-setting for me can often be a prideful practice....in which I can quickly see it as a way to "one-up" the person I might be envious of that day.  Which is why I sat on this list for six weeks...and prayed for God to reveal to me what areas HE wanted to work on....what areas HE felt needed to be addressed....why HE felt it was important to get some things in order.

It's been a fruitful time of discovery.  Ironically during these last several weeks, a blog I love has also been doing a series on personal discipline---and I've been re-reading Five Smooth Stones for a discipleship group at church.

The theme for me is clear.

You make time for what is important to you.

I wouldn't dream of not checking my facebook/email/pinterest/blogs for a day.....or skipping watching TV...or putting down that book that is such a good read.  But ask me when the last time was that I spent a great deal of time (say, everyday for a week?) studying scripture and I'll quickly tell you I just don't have time.  I don't need a "self help" book to tell me what's wrong with that equation.

It's embarassing, but true.  You make time for what is important to you.

There is SO much that begs for my attention during a given day---mostly good things in moderation.  But it is easy to let those things be what fills me up/relaxes me....and it's even easier to allow those things to take over my time in my life.

I'm not sure I'll ever be in a position to blog about these 20 areas---but in the weeks coming up, I have plans in place to start getting back into a better groove...whether it be coupons, housekeeping, savings or quality time with my husband.

It feels good---this time around---to have my focus for change rooted in the one who has changed me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Over the river and through the woods....

We are off to Grandma's house in a few days to celebrate the holidays.

A few things that are "new" for us regarding this trip

1. We will be gone for nearly a week when we do go
2. It will be our first overnight trip with Jack
3. We are making all homeade gifts
4. We are planning to travel with our homeade baby food
5. We are planning to exclusively cloth diaper during the week

There are still gifts to be made, packing lists to be written, projects to plan for (for both the wee ones & myself) & materials to be gathered for those projects.

There is a LOT to do between now and D-day (departure day)---and the thought of traveling with two in the car for several hours is not something I'm excited about.  (We did this in May and our toddler was awake/cried most of the trip)

Black Friday also falls during our time we will be away...and while my in-laws do not embrace this "after Thanksgiving holiday", I do....and my husband has learned to.  There are lists to be made for that day (what am I on the look out for)---and with cloth diaper stores holding specials as well, there are additional lists to be made to correspond with the stores I have gift credit at.

There is a lot to be done---and even with some of the unfavorable factors listed above, my husband and I are excited for this trip.

Yes, we are excited to be with family, to celebrate two holidays in one week....to see if our hard work in gift-giving brings delight to their faces.

But, we are also so excited to just....get away.  These last several months have been hard.  Dealing with Jack's weight gain issues, Lucy's tantrum issues, financial issues and work issues....it's been months of "issues" that we just need an escape from...if even for a little while.

I'm looking forward to the family time, but I'm also looking forward to time with my husband...to have him a part of our days.  I'm looking forward to the possibility of a date night (haven't had one since August!).  I'm looking forward to maybe catching up on a little sleep & tackling some organization projects while we chit-chat with one another. 

I'm praying the kids will cooperate & that we won't overstay our welcome after a few days.

So, today I am thankful....for the opportunity to be with family, a "vacation" away from home...if even for a few days & hopefully an opportunity for both my husband and I to be refreshed

***side note, if you are a burglar and think that this a prime opportunity to rob our house, you are forewarned that it will be a TERRIBLE waste of your time. (Kind of like the time someone broke into my car to steal my car radio & must have been so upset to discover the radio was totally busted) Aside from our laundry detergent stockpile and maternity clothes that span every season, you will find very little of value in our quaint home.  Oh, and we have a dog...a HUGE dog.***

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

no words

I have no witty observations, cute stories, thoughtful insights or lessons learned.

Today I am struck by two very separate tragedies that leave me at a loss for words.

known only to me either on paper or "a friend of a friend of a friend"---both situations leave me heartbroken.

As an outsider, now I pray.

...and I would encourage you to do the same.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

back on the wagon (part 2)

After my valiant attempt on Friday night to "catch up" for the missed days previously....I sort of just passed up Saturday.


well, here are the words/phrases to sum up all I really have to say right now.

teething. weary. lots of laundry. over it. fighting bedtime. tired. work schedules. annoyed. mall trip. excited. good deals. blessed. cheap laundry detergent. expensive formula. fighting without words. not fighting fair. worn out. need a break....a real "break". pajama bunco. must bake something. complain a lot. overwhelmed with gratitude too.  potty training? snuggles. miss him when he's gone. must accomplish to-do list. long road trip ahead. not sure I have the energy. fell asleep while sitting up. parents as teachers tomorrow. must clean house. must keep house clean. behind. maybe something new? NEED something new. no competition. it is what it is. i like to be cryptic.

Friday, November 11, 2011

back on the wagon

I've missed two days in a row.  Let me catch you up.

If I had posted Wednesday, it would have read somewhere along the lines of:

"dear friends from MOPS,

Thank you so much for helping me get my screaming toddler into the car today.  By you taking my son (who was in his carseat), I was able to wrangle the toddler and save her from running into the parking lot.  So thankful for you all."

"dear middle-aged woman at craft store that was not wrangling two children under the age of two.

Yes, "god bless my heart" indeed.  And thank you so very much for knowing that I too had been driving around town to find that product only to find it at THIS store.  The fact that you grabbed it and bought the last one while my toddler reached for yet another glass item made me sort of want to punch you in the face....but I'm a little classier than that."

Thursday would have read something like this:

still royally ticked off at the lady from the craft store.  the nerve.....in retrospect, I'm wondering why I didn't tell my daughter to bite her.  Did I mention she started biting recently?  The toddler, not the lady from the craft store....though I suppose she could be a biter since she did snatch the last item on the shelf even though she didn't have two children to drag to YET ANOTHER STORE.

As for today....

My husband had the "day" off.  He's working this evening, but we were able to run errands this afternoon.  After two different craft store visits, I'm happy to report I found the over-priced item I was in need of.  Let the homeade gift-making commence!

Oh yes, we decided this year we would try the "homeade" route.  With minimal sewing skills---and no real ideas on what I'd even sew--I've opted for all gifts that don't involve sewing.  Somehow the homeade gifts are turning out far more expensive....ahem.  Either way, I've nearly finished FIVE whole gifts tonight....which would be amazing except for the fact that we are making multiple gifts per person.

Did I mention we leave to go out of town in a week to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws and swap those gifts?  It'll happen.

One more thing...

dear lady from the craft store, I'm sorry.  I've moved on.  I don't know what was going on in your day and you had every right to that item.  I apologize for the terrible glances I shot your way.


lady with the two screaming kids.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

one week

I'm getting this post up just in time....because for once, I'm so dedicated to completing a simple goal I've set that I'm here at 11:30pm---with very little to say, a baby crying in the background, a killer sinus headache & a husband that's just trying to take care of us all and get us to bed.

But I promised myself that I was going to carry forth this month with the determination that the postal service has...and if they can deliver my numerous credit card offers, arby's coupons, grocery store ads & mail for someone else to my house each day----then I can certainly sit down in front of my computer and type whatever nonsense I have to share.

Today, today you just get that.  The change in time and weather has done a number on our household.  Sleep is all sorts of off, our littlest one seems to be perpetually sick & I'm battling a sinus headache going on three days.

But you know, we are THANKFUL that this is all that is going down in this household. 

According to some facebook statuses we've been reading, many of our friends are dealing with stomach bugs (and their children the same!) and that is one bug that is not welcome in our home.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A soapbox moment....


If you've read anything I've written since this blog debuted in July 2010, you'll know that I enjoy bargains, couponing & never paying full price.

What I don't enjoy is the skeptics.

Thankfully I have friends (and now my sister!) who embrace my love of savings right alongside me and get just as giddy at saving a buck as I do.

But there are the doubters...and I KNOW everyone has the right to their own opinion...but as someone who works diligently to save the many bucks that I do, nothing frustrates me more than when people tell me that couponing doesn't work for them/there aren't stores that would help them/coupons are only for junk/blah blah blah.  (It is so infuriating when someone is an "expert" on something they really have not put the time in to learn about!)

Now, to be honest....I could really care less if anyone else ever used a coupon....seriously.  I'm also not talking about "extreme couponing" here where I walk out of a store with 500 packages of paper towels for free.

We live on a very...very.....very trim budget.  We don't use credit cards and my husband is in social service and moonlights as a pizza delivery driver.  You do the math.

Couponing has provided food, clothing & personal care items for our family (and extended family and friends at times) for free or very cheap.

It takes time, diligence, patience----and some common sense to really make coupons work.  As for the "junk" that coupons are made for....

I bought 4 tubes of toothpaste, travel size detergent, body wash, shave cream & ketchup all for free this weekend....and coffee for about $3 off a can (matching store sale + store coupon)---forgive me, but we all use toothpaste, yes?

So, ahem....before I step off this soapbox....please understand it really does not matter to me whether or not people exercise the right to coupon!  I get that it's not for everyone/doesn't interest them/there isn't time to invest in it--I get that!  But please, do me and other couponers out there that do so to make ends meet a favor...please...please don't tell us that we "spend more than we save"or that we are "only able to get junk"

Because at the end of the day, I'm a stay-at-home mom who is pouring enormous effort into helping ends meet for her family....and those phrases aren't accurate and can actually be fairly hurtful.

steps off soapbox for the day...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

choosing to be "whole"

"They would never even know."  I reasoned with myself.

"They make millions of dollars off people like you everyday, what's an extra $5 to them anyways?"

That voice taunted me as I pushed my cart through the local supercenter to return two bottles of laundry detergent that I had picked up the day before.  Another store had them on sale and I had chosen to price match to get them each $2.50 cheaper.  Problem was, I picked up the wrong kind.

These would need to be returned and I knew without showing my receipt, I would be granted full price in return....which would give me a $5 profit.  It was tempting.....incredibly tempting.

I tossed my bottles up on the customer service desk and swiftly handed over my receipt.  The cashier scanned the items and actually attempted to refund me the full sale price.

"Actually, I price matched those items, so I only paid $5.99 for them."

I did it.  In that moment when I could have let my weakness, my selfishness, my sinfulness take over.....I (through God's grace ALONE) was able to choose to be integral, to choose to be whole.

I've been learning a lot about this lately----and even when I think I'm doing well, opportunities like this present themselves in which "no one would know"---and I have to choose, to honor the God I say I love and to obey and be holy like He has called me to be.

We all have those moments, and I don't always get it right.

Today, I'm thankful I did.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Husband said what?

I mentioned the other day of being without new clothing items and living day to day in the husband's sweats.  They are practical, comfy & hey...if I'm changing my clothes every time I get spit up on, I'd prefer it not be something "nice". 

I think the clothing rut and my own personal appearance "rut" go hand in hand.  Most days I shower with an infant in a bouncy seat right outside the shower and my toddler coming in and out opening the door to tell me "hello", "wove you", "see you ater", "buh-bye".....literally....about 50 times in one 5 minute shower.

And that's if I'm lucky.  Some days my toddler will strip down and climb on in because she loves to play in the water. 

So my shower time is short and sweet and my personal prep time if we're just going to be around the home or running short errands is about the same length.

But, the other day I was feeling up to the challenge of blow-drying & straightening my hair AND applying make-up, just to sit at home. And so I did.....

...and then I waited for the moment my husband would burst through the door and comment on the fact that I looked "so beautiful" & "wow, I can see you really put some time into getting ready today!"

He arrived home and nothing.  So I tossed my hair to the side in a "do you notice anything different?" sort of manner....

And in the most sincere tone he responded, "something is different....Oh, did you wash your hair today?"


I returned to the ponytail the following day.

(after my sister in law left her comment, I thought I ought to edit this real quick as I realized this post makes my husband sound terrible!  I SHOULD have made it known that my husband prefers the "comfy" look to the "all dressed up" look and that after guessing wrong the first time, he nailed it with "you straightened your hair!"  He's a wonderful...WONDERFUL man who makes it clear that he finds me beautiful...ponytail and all)  :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

share before you bear.

(also known as day 4)

It's short and sweet today.

I spent the morning catching up with my dear friend---my sister, really, we just have different mothers....but I KNOW we were meant to be sisters. 

Anyways, I look forward to these chats...mostly because of the many people I know in life, she is one of the very few that I can let go of pride and just lay my junk out there and say "yeah, I'm struggling.  I'm messed up.  I blew it this week.  I'm impatient.  I'm finding it hard to trust God."

And we all need that.  We need to be able to share our struggles, temptations, failures & burdens with others that can pray for us, encourage us, come alongside us---and admit that they don't have it all together either.

It's a humbling process.  But if we are to "bear one another's burdens", then we have to be willing to share those burdens first.

So today, today I'm thankful for the ability to share.....and to "bear"

Thanks for the chat, friend.

miss you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It happened.... (day 3)

I like to shop.

I enjoy new things.

I appreciate the feeling of nice clothing on my body & expensive make-up on my face.

Back when I was enjoying these new items on someone else's dime (I was in college and my parents were generous!) & when I was a single person with "extra" cash in the budget, I indulged myself....often.

Enter marriage, babies & a drastically different budget and the days of purchasing a new item are long gone.  Truthfully, giving up shopping for nice/new things never even bothered me.  They weren't needs, just wants....and what we "need" is every possible penny going towards making ends meet.  Besides, since we discovered we were expecting three months after the "I dos", maternity clothes had to be purchased...and then kids clothes.....and then the heat bill needed to be paid....

Somewhere along the line, my favorite Banana Republic jeans got replaced with maternity jeans will the large stretchy panel.  My favorite shoes were given away because my feet actually grew AFTER having children. Flattering sweaters and shirts have long been tucked away to make room for clothes to nurse in & in sizes that fit the "I've had two babies in less than two years" figure.  Where my favorite Victoria's Secret credit card once held a spot in my wallet you'll now find a coupon for .50 off flour tucked away instead.

And it's ok, truthfully, because through this whole evolution I understand needs versus wants.  I understand that we need food on the table & that I want a pair of jeans that fit (without the maternity panel).  I understand that my kids need clothes, shoes & immunizations & that I want to replace the items that read "maternity clothes" with items that fit and don't leave others questioning, "is she?  again?!  so soon?!"

I understand that no amount of "losing the baby weight" will ever get me back to my "pre-pregnancy figure."  Two pregnancies & deliveries of 9lb+ babies made sure of that.

In the meantime, I'll treasure my precious kids that brought me to this point and learn to be content in my husband's sweats and maternity gear...even if I am 7 months post-partum.....

...because someday, there might be a little extra "guilt free" money to spend on a new pair of jeans, a compact of make-up, a colorful cardigan or a bag that doesn't just hold diapers.

And I'm okay waiting for that day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

day 2--cuteness from the tantrum thrower

We're dealing with the epic meltdowns that come along when your child turns two....and apparently continue on until they leave for college.  I'm a family studies major.  My coursework prepared me for understanding WHY a tantrum happens.  It did not prepare me for what it would be like to repeat 15 times in a row, "no you may not have a "cooookeeee"...."

Anyways, I digress.

What I MEANT to post about was the cute phrases that are repeatd in our house all day long.

Here's a typical conversation that happens about 15-20 times in our home (no joke) a day.

Lucy: "Daddy, where are you?" (Lucy begins the hunt around the house)
Me: "Daddy had to go work."
Lucy: "bye bye?"
Me: "yup, daddy went bye-bye."
Lucy: "chooees?"
Me: "yes, daddy put his shoes on."
Lucy: "Car?"
Me: "yes, daddy got in his car."
Lucy: (makes noises that resemble a very sick animal)
Me: "yes, daddy's car is terminally ill."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1.

"Your breath smells rotten....we need to brush your teeth."

I got up and handed my husband our daughter's toothbrush hoping that the overpriced tube of bubblegum toothpaste (seriously, is it even really toothpaste?) I had purchased this past weekend would cure the halatosis erupting from our two year old's mouth.

 I then plopped down in the comfort of my desk chair intent on zoning out to facebook & pinning DIY projects I'll likely never have time (nor talent) for. Instead, I found a challenge that intrigued me.

I'm now deciding to take part in a "blog every day for the month" challenge....
For the record, I had no idea that November is National Blogging Month, ..I'm just a little bummed I didn't know ahead of time or I would have baked a cake.

The theme?  "Blogging for Blogging's sake"---(FYI, this makes me want to bust out in Christmas Carol lyrics, "so be good for goodness sake..." )  I like that it isn't really a theme, just write.

I dig it.

My sister-in-law is committed to writing a novel this month & now I'm committing to doing my best to over-share and bore my 14 subscribers out there with intricate details of our days.....at least every day for the month of November.

stay tuned...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Treat others well...

I hate waiting.

I can’t stand being stuck behind a slow driver…(or a bad one!) I dislike being held up in line at the grocery store. It drives me nuts when I have to make an effort to get around someone walking slow or taking up an entire aisle in Wal-mart.

I know what bothers me & as such I try not to impose on others in the same way. Unfortunately, I’m probably the worst kind of offender.

In this current season of life I am being convicted of all the times I have rolled my eyes trying to get past someone, tapped my foot impatiently in the checkout line or honked my horn and shaken my fist at another driver. Why am I being convicted? Because I just never know what’s really behind their actions.

The person that is in “my way” in the store? Maybe they are so focused on getting all the items on their list, keeping their children quiet or trying to find the best deal that they simply don’t notice I’m trying to pass by with great impatience.

The person driving “too slow”? Maybe they are out for a relaxing drive around town because their babies just fell asleep and it’s the first time in weeks they’ve gotten some peace and quiet—or maybe this is how “date nights” are occurring for them right now.

The “bad driver” that speeds past me on the interstate? Maybe they are running late for yet another doctor’s appointment, a desperately needed play date or are in dire need to meet their best friend for coffee and girl chat. (side note: I am not condoning BAD driving at all…)

The person holding me up in line because they are watching their purchases like a hawk? Maybe they are having to stretch an already too thin budget to purchase groceries for their family. Maybe in order to put food on their table they are needing to use complicated governmental assistance programs. Maybe they are price matching and/or using coupons in order to avoid a trip to another store and lower the money coming out of their pockets.

We’ve all been an annoyance to someone. For me, I’m trying to think before I act out in impatience. Knowing that I’ve been both the giver of such impatience AND recently the receiver of such impatience, I’m desperately trying to remember we just never know what’s going on in that particular person’s life that day---and maybe a little extra patience and grace could go a LONG way.

Because while that person might be a minor annoyance to me today, I could be just as annoying to them tomorrow….and well, I’d like to think the “treat others as you’d like to be treated” rule could work in my favor…

~takin' a walk in someone else's shoes...~

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't need "just another thing"

My husband and I feel the strain of this whole “there’s only 24 hours in a day” thing every single day.  When asked how we are doing, we’ll likely respond like most others we know “good, busy/hectic…”  I’ve been feeling the strain of frustration as I watch the seasons change outside, knowing we are in for what will likely be another looooongggg winter.  Additionally, as the leaves fall all around us, I’m reminded that we are in one of the shortest parenting seasons (in the grand scheme of things)….even if it seems like we’re stuck in a loooooooonnnnnnngggg season.

From the time we were first married (a whole 3 years ago) we’ve tried to be incredibly aware of protecting our time.  With my husband working two jobs, two children at home to nurture, involvement in our local church & a home, that despite the desires of my heart, will not learn to clean itself.  Add in family, friends, errands, doctor’s appointments, etc….and those 24 hours are gone….and often we’re negative in time.  As such, we often find that we have little time left over to just play with our children, let alone sit down and have a conversation with one another….or get to bed at a decent hour!

 We’re learning that a “yes” to one thing, is a “no” to another.  A “yes” to a second job, while financially necessary, is a “no” to more family time with Daddy.  A “yes” to a commitment outside the home, is a “no” to that extra time in the home.  A “yes” to a night out with the girls on my husband’s nights off, is a “no” to an in-home date night with him.  And believe me, there are a whole list of things that I often would like to do (volunteering, taking classes & even working outside the home)---but those things aren’t feasible right now…and certainly don’t make financial sense for us right now—hello daycare costs!

The question for us is “when to engage vs. when to retreat.”  We want to be givers of our time, but we also want to be wise and place our own family high on the list of needing our attention.  So, for now, we’re choosing our “yes’s” wisely.  We want our commitments to jobs, others & our local church to be things we are passionate about---and not things that are “just another thing” we have to do.  We remind ourselves that this IS just a season (hopefully my husband won’t always be working two jobs!)---and that our children won’t always be this tiny…and Lord willing, we’ll have an abundance of time “someday” that we can do all those other things we want to that would take additional time now.
I tried to model this mentality last week.  I pushed my to-do list and cleaning schedule to the side and reminded myself that the laundry will always be there, but I won’t always have an opportunity to teach my daughter to jump in the leaves…or spend some extra time cuddling with my son.  Those our moments that no amount of cleaning, errand running, etc can compete with.  Our weather was incredibly warm here (think shorts and tank tops in October!) and we spent several hours outside every day just playing….and after a week of not keeping up with chores, our house is in some terrible shape!  I know I can’t always ignore the work before me, and I’m not suggesting that you should….I’m just suggesting that I need to learn better balance & to place my children in higher regard than completing my to-do list or cleaning my home.  (believe me, I LOVE a neat home and completed to-do list…this is NOT something that comes natural to me!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Good enough for now...

That's the phrase I recite to myself all day long, "it's good enough...for now."  This is the state of mind with which I'm living in---and will likely be in---for awhile.

Jack had his appointment with the failure to thrive clinic last week---it went well, considering our fears going in.  Jack is 5 1/2 months now and at his appointment he weighed 11lbs, 6 oz (a 1/2 oz gain in 2 weeks)We still have no answers...but we have some direction, a plan of sorts.  Jack showed off and flashed smiles, giggled and just talked up a storm.  We heard the same things "he looks amazing!", "he's on track", "his physical exam presents no concerns."  All incredibly awesome things to hear.  They spoke of three potential causes off the top of their heads---1.)problems with his reflux (ie: the medicine is no longer working and that could somehow be hindering weight gain)  2.) he has a higher metabolic rate and therefore needs far more calories (there's no way to test for this) 3.)There could be a problem with how his body is absorbing nutrients.

So, we go back in about a week with a stool sample to test for problems concerning proper absorption and in the meantime we are continuing supplementing after every nursing session, only this time we were given a equation to concentrate the calories (think more powder, less water) in an effort to see if a higher calorie intake is necessary.

After months of feeling like I was doing something wrong, I left this appointment feeling respected as a parent and felt like I was heard, really heard.  I needed that.  I needed to hear from a medical professional that I wasn't ruining my child--and that there were several plausible explanations.  I'm hoping the addition of calories will bring a high weight gain and that a higher metabolic rate really is to "blame." 

In the meantime, fall activities have started up---the Mr. is still working two jobs---and the toddler is in the midst of those "terrible twos" that we have heard so much about.  Life around here is challenging right now, and that's putting it lightly!

So, for now...our motto is "it's good enough for now."  I'm fighting hard against comparing myself to all those fictional moms who "have it all together" and focusing on what really matters in this season of life---and right now, that's getting and keeping Jack healthy.

And what about all those other things I talk about so often?  Well, to be honest....I haven't used a coupon since July--true story!  And you know what, it's been a nice break and because of our couponing efforts in previous months, we also haven't done hardly any grocery shopping---except for perishable items.  Let me tell you, that's such a welcome relief to have "one less thing to worry about"  In coming months I'm going to have to "jump back in" to couponing to re-build our stockpile, but for now...we're enjoying the fruits of our labor.

As for a cleaning schedule....that went out the window when Jack was born and I haven't made my way back to it.  Our house doesn't get as "deep cleaned", dusted, or vacuumed a week as I'd like it to....but the "good enough for now" principle applies here as well.  I want us back on a schedule, and we'll get there...because it does make life easier...but for now, it's ok if the bedrooms don't get dusted one week....or we only grab the vacuum when we have animal cookie heads to sweep up.

And the cloth diapers?  That is one that has stuck!  Aside from church events and Jack overnight--our kids are in cloth diapers full time.  Yes, it's a bit more work....but it's something that is forcing me to slow down a bit and enjoy the one on one time with my kids---even if it is during a diaper change.  We've been rapidly adding to our stash without spending more money and I've been working to convert some very well-loved diapers.  I'd love to do a whole post on that....someday.

With three more Doctor's appointments on the calendar before the end of the month, my husband's long work-hours and two little ones that seem a little "high-needs" these days, I'm working hard to accept that "good enough for now" is really "exceptional for now!"  I pray if you find yourself in discouraging, hectic or stressful circumstances that you too would find the peace that comes from letting some things just....go

Saturday, September 3, 2011

in the dark and on my heart.

I have a running list of things I want to blog about----our successes in cloth diapering, how awesome my two kids are, our struggles in trusting God, my attempts to save us even more money & the ever popular "oh my stars will I ever sleep again?!" type posts.

But, much like my home sits in shambles most days---this blog goes neglected.  Simply stated, there's a huge lack of desire---and an even larger lack of time.  However, today all those excuses are tossed out the window when I just simply need a place to process some frustrations and discouragement.  Lucky you, I process well (and find great comfort) in expressing these thoughts through writing.  Lucky me, a friend reminded me that my blog can be an incredibly freeing place to share these frustrations.  So, today you get raw---you get un-edited feelings---you get what's on my heart without all the cute packaging.

Today, like most days lately, I'm feeling "in the dark."  I've shared before our struggles with nursing both kiddos and I've shared recently about Jack's inability to put on any weight.  You'll recall that he weighed in at a whopping 9lbs, 9oz at birth.  He lost nearly a pound within that first week---but at five months he was only at 11lbs, 5 oz. 

Now, there's no real indication if the two struggles go hand in hand.  Here's what I do know---until four months, I exclusively nursed Jack.  He has several wet diapers a day, has an "appropriate" amount of dirty diapers, interacts with others, is hydrated, appears developmentally on track, and up until he started teething (side note: still not sure the screaming is a result of ACTUAL teeth)---he's been a pretty happy guy (post colic/reflux of course)  At our four month appointment our doctor told us to nurse every three hours (which is about what we were doing)--I decided to additionally add in 4oz of formula supplementation a day (sometimes more).  After a month of doing all that, we saw a 4 oz weight gain....total.

I'm pretty sure my heart sank when they put Jack on the scale a few weeks back and those numbers flashed back at me.  Thankfully I was too exhausted to shed any tears of frustration---I saved those for my husband.  To be honest, that day (and really still today) I feel like I am somehow doing something wrong---that I am to blame for my son's lack of weight gain.  Primarily I feel that way because there is no other explanation at this point.

We've been referred to a special children's clinic that works with failure to thrive babies.  (even saying that phrase gets to me!)  We recieved our bright colored pamphlet (I think that's to make it feel more cheery?) along with all the necessary paperwork to complete prior to our two hour initial appointment where a team will "work with us" to "develop weight gain goals" and "identify potential issues" so that we can be "actively involved" in determining what is causing inadequate weight gain.

Now, this could all be a really simple answer----or, what we fear is that it could be something far more complicated.  There are some other concerns/symptoms we have that we've shared with our doctor that go along with Jack's lack of weight gain.  We just don't know....and it's that "in the dark" feeling that feels totally isolating.  We have waited two weeks and we know after this next appointment we'll likely have to wait some more.  If you know me, you know I am the least patient person in the world and that I've been web-md-ing the "situation"

It's been a humbing experience.  To read friends and family post about similarly aged kiddos and how big they've gotten just makes me have to fight bitterness....and feelings of feeling sorry for myself "why do their kids gain weight and my son can't?!"  When others tell me "how big Jack's getting"  I feel like I'm biting my tongue---because it's just not true---and I'm assuming that's the nicer thing to say then "why is your nearly six month old so skinny??"  And I'm embarassed to admit how prideful I have been when it comes to answering particular questions or upon being told we would be meeting with a team---which included a social worker.  "a social worker?  I'm not one of those people that starves my kids"  True story...exact thoughts spoken out loud to my husband.  (side note, praise God for the patient husband listening to all my thoughts!)

So, there's the story---raw, un-edited without any fancy wrapping.  In reality, it is such a miniscule problem to be dealing with---but when you're in it and feeling the judgement, questions, and opinions surrounding it---it somehow becomes a much bigger problem.

In the meantime, we continue to pray for quick answers and for humbled hearts.  For God to strengthen us and for us to recognize that Jack is His son first.  For God to equip us as parents to handle whatever comes our way (simple answer or complex)...and really, for God to continue to use this experience to make me more aware and strip away at my prideful, "better than you" complex.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

3 years

~August 16th, 2008~

"From this day forward, I Rachel, receive you Jonathan, to be my husband. 

With kindness, trust, and unselfishness, I will walk by your side and encourage you as we follow God’s plan for our lives.

I promise to love you, pray for you, honor you, and always remain faithful to you. 

I promise to respect you and protect you from harm, to be truthful and to cherish you always,

By loving you Faithfully: In times of joy and in times of sadness, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of surplus and in times of shortage, in times of blessing and in times of doubt, until our Heavenly Father calls me home.                          

     This is my solemn vow.

Three years ago I put on the most beautiful dress I had ever laid eyes on and recited the vows we had written ourselves with a man that caputured my heart.  We wrote our vows because we knew what we wanted to commit to one another.  Looking back at these, we had no idea what God had in store for us in three short years.  Two career changes, a "new to us" car, a "new to us" home, two precious babies, financial struggles, relational highs and lows, unexpected personal and spiritual growth, the merging of two families & a kind of love I never expected to receive.  These photos highlight the most beautiful and shocking moments of marriage for us (um, two babies in three years?!)---and yet in them, I know the footprints of the struggles that have awaited us and that we have tackled painfully head on.  Marriage is hard....and it can certainly even be painful.  But I believe with all my heart that marriage is a gift, truly designed to bless us, challenge us & bring us closer in intimacy with our Heavenly Father.  It has certainly been all those things for me.

To the man that has seen me at my worst---and loved me at his best--words cannot express how lucky I feel to be your bride and the mother of your children.  Even in what seems like such an ordinary life, you make me feel extraordinary.  Every struggle has resulted in a triumph....I am ever so thankful to be your partner as we journey through life together.  I meant those words three years ago, and I mean them today.  I pray we will both feel freedom in the commitment we made before God to each other.  Can't wait for the next surprise......(another baby, perhaps?) :)

**wedding photos courtesy of Mark Sorenson Photography**

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two and four

Two years & four months, that is.

 On July 8th (yes, a month ago!) Lucy turned two years old!  Her special day started with streamers hanging from her door & her very own birthday balloon.  Jonathan took her out for donuts AND she got McDonalds for lunch.  We celebrated that evening with a zoo themed party.

 So what is she up to???  She is 30 lb (85%) & 33.5 in (45%).  She is talking up a storm & just starting to combine two words together.  She can make lots of animal noises, but her favorite is an elephant.  She walks around hunched over with her arms dangling pretending to be “george” (curious George) She insists on putting on her tutto, plastic dress shoes and cowboy hat EVERY SINGLE DAY.  She loves “chooes” and thinks saltine crackers are “coookeees”.  She loves her Daddy and insists that he crawl on the floor and play with her the moment he walks in the door.  She’s showing some interest in the potty, but we aren’t really pushing the issue.  She is still very attached to her Ellie and loves her “bay-beee ja” (baby jack!)  She is a funny, lovable & super sweet little girl.  I love seeing her personality unfold.  She is certainly outgoing, unreserved & easily excited.  She’s tough!  Even when she falls down hard she just brushes her self off and keeps going!  It’s an absolute joy watching her explore her world and there are several bittersweet moments we have experienced as she gains independence.  I am anxious to continue to see her learn new things!

On to Jack….
Jack turned four months old on the 26th.  He is our little guy in terms of weight but is the cuddliest and sweetest little baby ever!  At four months Jack is 11lbs 1oz (2%) & 23.75 in (15%).  (You'll recall that he was 9 1/2pounds at birth)  He’ll be checked again in a few weeks to see how he’s doing on weight, but that is the only area he seems “behind” in.  Jack loves to cuddle and will flash his smile at anyone!  He discovered his voice over a month ago and will talk at length with anyone willing to lay there long enough.  He started rolling over both ways at three months and has been on the move ever since.  He literally will just roll across a room if you let him!  He likes to follow people with his eyes and will track you wherever you go.  When up on his belly he lifts his head and will almost “belly crawl” enough to move himself as well.  It is a total delight to get to have a second baby in our home and see just how different he is from Lucy!  Earlier this week he started laughing officially which just brightens my day even more!

Friday, August 5, 2011

crying over poured milk...

It’s no secret that breastfeeding a child can be both enjoyable & terribly frustrating.  For me, my experiences tend toward the painfully frustrating.

I was convinced that breastfeeding would be simple, wonderful & effective.  I knew the benefits and I had seen plenty of mothers nurse their babies successfully.  In fact, when my daughter was born I hadn’t heard of a single woman that struggled.  Imagine my surprise when my nursing relationship with my daughter got off to a rocky start.  She was born at 9lbs & by the time we left the hospital she had lost nearly 10% of her weight.  She was very jaundice and had become dehydrated as well.  Supplementation was ordered in order to help kick start her systems. She had further problems gaining weight. She received at least half of her feedings via formula until 7 months when I decided I was over the frustration of making that little bit of milk I was getting for her.

 With my son I thought for sure things would go better.  By the time he was 48 hours old, he had already lost over 10% of his weight and by 3 days old he was down to 12%.  His problems were different.  No jaundice but somehow he had a lot of mucus in his little body that he was vomiting up…followed by anything he had ate.  Zantac started helping those issues and our exclusive nursing relationship was starting to look up.  He’s satisfied, happy & developmentally exceeding expectations.  But he’s not gaining….like at all.  At over four months of age, he weights 1 ½ pounds more than he did at birth.  We know I don’t have an abundance of milk, but there is milk.  We’ve “checked” all the ways (dirty diapers, pumping, skin color, etc) to see if he’s actually getting milk.  All systems say “yes”---for the most part.  But he is still not putting on weight.

That news is absolutely devastating.  As a mother who believes in the importance of breastfeeding….to know that your child is not gaining weight from YOUR milk…well, it can make you feel quite inadequate.  Toss in the fact that you now have a distracted eater, a grumpy toddler & a tired momma and that whole problem just escalates.

Yesterday I had had it.  Jack was hungry and I felt totally unable to sit down and feed him.  I had no pumped milk on hand---but I needed a break.  The formula companies thrive on these moments….and as I stood in the kitchen with my husband debating what to do, I decided I needed to give him a bottle of formula.  I NEEDED a break.  Jack NEEDED a break too. 

 And so I mixed that bottle, tears in my eyes feeling like a total failure.  Why couldn’t I work through this?  Why couldn’t I get over the hump?  My husband noticed quickly how upset I was and even his reassuring words weren’t enough to make me feel like I wasn't failing my son.

But I sat down with that bottle and Jack looked me in the eyes and gripped my finger tight through the entire feeding.  I immediately relaxed.  He was being nurtured from milk that I made…. even if it came in the form of a packet or can.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Head in the clouds...

August two. 

Whoa….how did THAT happen?!  July sort of just “took me by surprise…”  It’s been a wild month filled with fireworks, birthdays, challenges, new routines & lots of laundry. In fact, I only used three coupons the entire month and that happened on July 31st. You all only heard from me once in July, and that was in a desperate plea for advice.   Since Jack’s birth, we’ve struggled to maintain any sort of schedule around here, cleaning or otherwise.  I wanted to adapt our old schedule, but I also knew that I would just have to adapt…again…once new activities began.

 As a result of that and my husband putting in an extra twenty hours a week at a second job, keeping up with anything has become a huge struggle.

 We need order.  As much as I pride myself on things that are “anti-order”, I’m also very much an organized and detail kind of gal. I like things clean & organized, even with the chaotic clutter of children.  That’s been lacking here and I am tired of spending my days playing catch-up.

 So, august second becomes my fresh start.  We’re working on a new schedule around here, a new way to try and maintain some semblance of order.  We’re figuring out how to stay on top of laundry…even with three extra loads a week (or more!) of cloth diapers.  We’re deciding how to organize our time so that when my husband is home, we’re able to make that quality family time.  We’re challenging ourselves with new monthly goals that take us a bit out of our comfort zone and provide some good accountability. We’re tackling creative projects that have long sat on to-do lists. We’re focusing on essentials & shutting out the noise.  We’re engaging our minds with God’s word & books, and not just “resting” in the comfort of television and the internet.  We’re trusting God in the “in-between” of life right now….in the “what might happen” as we explore some new and exciting opportunities that will for sure add further challenges.
We’re getting back in the swing of things.

Monday, July 18, 2011

To wake the baby or not....

Ok....so I'm taking a brief hiatus from writing (if that wasn't obvious before)  BUT....I need some good ol' mom advice!

Jack is approaching four months.  At three months he rolled over for the first time (belly to back)---and within days was rolling both ways....and all over the place during the night.  (shockingly I have yet to actually see him roll over in person!)  He still likes to be swaddled to fall asleep (but gets mad if it's too tight that he can't bust out and roll over!)---but he'll still roll to his belly to sleep. 

As a result, he's napping...for hours.  Maybe it's a growth spurt...maybe I'm hyper-concerned that he's too skinny....maybe this is just what babies do....

But, do I wake him to eat?  To I let him sleep until he indicates he's ready to eat (even if that means going 5 hours?)

While Lucy was rolling at three months, she never rolled to her belly in the middle of the night until well past 6 months.....she was also a cat napper and never slept longer than an hour or so.  Also, Lucy was supplemented with formula and breast milk (but essentially we always knew how much she was eating)

Lucy went through a skinny phase as well (shocking!) at this exact time that I feel Jack is on the light side.

We don't go to the doctor for another few weeks...so I'm not sure how much Jack weighs (and I'm not real interested in lugging both kids out the door to try and get a weight)

So, do I let him sleep?  Do I wake him?  Do I keep pumping milk every four hours if he doesn't wake?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our children were not "planned" part 3

This is part 3...you can read parts 1 & 2 by simply scrolling down...

But, money does factor in.  We live in a society with emphasis on responsibility…and we very much want to be “responsible.”  But what does that really mean?  As my husband and I process through the idea of future children/family planning….money is always the issue.  I’m perplexed….because I hear the commandment “be fruitful and multiply” & yet it’s as if there’s a “when your bank account is full” that is now attached to that statement.  We consider families big when there are three or more children, we tell people not to have children until they can “afford” them (what does that even mean?  Can I afford a child if I can feed them….or dress them in designer clothes…or fully fund their education?) we* laugh when someone announces a pregnancy while still nursing a baby & we encourage people to wait several years before “trying” for a family.  Is any of this wrong?

I don’t know.  I truly don’t.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel a little uneasy about some of it. Have we as a christian community somehow gotten it “wrong”?  Have we lost sight of the idea that “children are a blessing from God”?

**I use “we” because I lump myself into the group that does these things.  Even with all my questions…I probably am the most hypocritical person ever.  Just sayin’…


We had one positive pregnancy test as soon as we physically stopped trying to prevent (sure, we could have gotten pregnant while using the pill…but I believe God wanted us to take that step of obedience.)  We had another positive pregnancy test while preventing pregnancy….but also praying for God’s will in that area.  Right now?  Right now I simply don’t know. 

The one thing I know for sure is that our children were planned.  Planned by God…ordained to be with us at this very moment in time.  They were welcomed with great anticipation & love…and are celebrated every day in our lives.  Our future children, Lord willing, will be no different.  Even if our financial situation never changes, I pray to God that I will welcome every child with the same, if not more, anticipation and joy….and appreciation for His timing. 

This is where I sit…wrestling in my heart.  As my husband and I pray through all of this, we’re met with the reality that financially and worldly speaking, another child would be “irresponsible” at this point.

 On the other hand, we’re faced with the undeniable truth that God has had perfect timing with our children and set into motion a beautiful faith journey and legacy.  We battled through some tough stuff in our marriage the first year or so…and having a baby girl on the way made us more committed than ever.  Would we have made it through without a baby on the way?  Probably...but I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God has used our children to stretch us & push us so far out of our comfort zone into the unknown...and into His arms.   Learning to trust in God’s timing and providence has been (and probably will be) a daily…if not hourly…battle for us for the rest of our lives….and He has used our pregnancies and our children to push us into deep intimacy with Him.  For us, that is worth any worldly sacrifice we may have had to make.

Thanks for allowing me to process…this is an area that my husband and I are always in prayer over.  I don’t have the answers…I just have loads of question…and hopefully equal amounts of trust.  This is just me sharing the wrestling of my heart over this issue....

questions?  comments?  concerns?  email me at rachelonrewind at gmail.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our children were not "planned" part 2...

(this is part 2 of 3...you can read part 1 by scrolling down....)

…my faith in the whole “let’s trust God’s timing” began to shift.  I found myself laughing it all off in conversations where I had to answer those hard questions.  There was so much more to the decision to stop birth control…and yet it never felt right to go so deep into the reason I felt I was obeying God and allowing Him access to every area of our lives.

Our daughter was born and we again wrestled with the “what should we do now?!?”  My husband had gotten a full time job after deciding Seminary was no longer a path he was being called to.  I stayed home with our daughter and worked part-time both in and out of our home.  I went on the mini-pill & went off it a few weeks later….(how had I not learned my lesson before….hormonal pills just DO NOT work with my body...and we will NEVER be using them again.)  We used natural family planning and eventually switched to barrier methods. (sorry family members who aren’t interested in the specifics!)  We so desperately wanted to trust God…but we were broke.  We prayed that the Lord would make it known to us when to “try” again, but we mostly believed it wouldn’t be until financial situations changed.

My husband had taken a day off shortly after our daughter turned one to paint our guest room and work on other projects in our new-to-us home.  I joked that I might be pregnant and that’s why I couldn’t help paint.  We both laughed, thinking it was impossible considering we were utilizing methods that are like 98% effective?  On my drive to Wal-Mart to get groceries…I suddenly thought through the last few days and came to the quick realization that I actually could be pregnant.  I bought a test and took it right there in the Wal-Mart restroom.

 “pregnant.”  I think I might have laughed as I sat in the bathroom.  I drove home and handed the test to my husband, who, at that point thought I was handing him a positive test from my first pregnancy.  When he realized I was serious, the largest smile I have ever seen stretched across his face.

…Here we were, actively preventing and yet still very much pregnant.  I braced myself knowing I would face more questions…and more unspoken judgment.  This time I was able to answer the  question of “planned vs unplanned” but I still continually felt like I missed the mark.  Sure, we weren’t planning to get pregnant…but we had also prayed that God would make it known to us when we should have a baby…so, yeah…the pregnancy was planned.  9 times out of 10 I just answered “nope!”and laughed at the idea we had become pregnant while spending money trying to prevent that from happening.

Through this all I felt increasingly uneasy.  In every conversation in which I talk about having two babies in less than two years, I’m always met with surprise…and I get that!  I share in their surprise!  But, I feel uneasy because I’m never able to articulate how unbelievably sure my husband and I are in the timing of our current children.  Sure, the money is even less there than it was a year ago….but God has so faithfully timed when these two beautiful babies would enter our lives, that the whole money equation shouldn’t even factor into it.....

I feel like if I'm to trust God...and allow Him sovereign control over every area of my life...including whether or not I get pregnant....shouldn't I also believe that He is big enough to walk through the journey with us and provide for our needs...even if it isn't in ways we expect?  I mean, He's already proven Himself faithful in that...so why do I worry now?


(stay tuned for part 3!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our children were not "planned"

(this is part 1...I wrote so much it needed three separate posts!)

No, in fact, they were wonderful answers to prayer.

 Before I go any further, let me say this…..this is our journey, our faith story, our convictions, our struggles, our wrestled with thoughts.  Please hear it as such, and not as anything else.

 When I walked down the aisle almost three years ago, my soon to be husband and I were in agreement that we would start thinking about trying for a baby when we celebrated our two year anniversary.  He would finish Seminary while I continued to work full time.  We would save as much money as we could and we would hopefully be in a house by that point.  While we knew we wanted a large family, we also wanted to enjoy married life without being burdened with children yet.

 About a month later we were driving home from a wedding of some dear friends.  I had been struggling a lot with feeling as though God was tugging at my heart.  I began to share these struggles with my husband.  Imagine my surprise when God had been nudging him about the exact same things!  We both felt trapped.  We felt as though we were so certain of how the next 2.5 years of our marriage would work out that we were leaving very little room to truly trust God to work in our marriage and lay the foundation of our future.  We felt convicted about our attitude towards not wanting children…yet.  We felt uncertain about our future career plans…(this would later be made QUITE clear that this was not an intended direction after all.)  We felt….we felt we needed to surrender one particular area of our lives to God.

I went off the pill….almost as quickly as I had went on it.  Honestly, it was making me sick and causing a whole host of other problems.  We believed our doctor when she said it could take several months.  We were not trying, nor were we preventing.  We were trusting.

Two sweet pink lines showed up on the same day America elected Barack Obama to office.  I was shocked, scared & delighted….all at the same time.  We were starting a family, and yet, we had barely unpacked from our Honeymoon. 

Thoughts of “what will people think” flooded my heart before the test was even dry.  I knew what they would think….because I’ve been on the opposite side as well.  And we had to answer questions…the worst was/is “was she planned?”  There were several times that I cried to my husband that people would always think our daughter was an “accident.”  In our minds, she was just the beginning stage of a deep faith journey God was about to take us on. 

She was planned by Him…a gift to us….to know Him more…..

stay tuned for parts 2 & 3

Friday, June 24, 2011

An update on that one little challenge....

(There are a number of posts “in the works”…things I want to blog about that I’m wrestling with…stories I want to share….but while those all sit in “editing” mode, here’s a mini update)

Remember when I said I was putting our family on a strict $50 a week budget and we would NOT be eating out the entire month of June?

Well, here’s a little check-in on how we’re doing. As a reminder, we have bought groceries on $40 a week in the past. This ONLY included things we could actually eat, and at the time we had a freezer full of meals   & we were eating out at least once a week.  This month, I set out to determine whether or not we could live on a $50 a week budget for all groceries, household items, paper products, personal care items & any disposable diapers/wipes we might need. And as of right now, we are successful at this goal!

We started on May 29th—and will run for 5 solid weeks. This gives me an overall budget of $250. When it’s all said and done, I do believe we will go slightly over budget, and that’s really ok. The fact is, we’re most concerned with continuing to cultivate discipline and good stewardship in our lives. It is the desire of our hearts for God to mold us into financially responsible individuals. While we have made many financial mistakes in the past (mainly credit cards) we are working hard to be responsible in every other area.

When we entered this challenge, our stockpile was quite low. Jonathan and I were both on our last stick of deodorant, there was no “extra” toothpaste or men’s body wash & our pantry was also looking pretty bare. We had no extra chicken or beef in our freezer & little in our cleaning supplies stockpile. I’m delighted to say we have been more than able to take care of all these areas.

As for the eating out…we have failed in this area. But---only twice! Two meals out in five weeks time is a record for us…especially with a freezer empty & Jonathan working an extra 20 hours a week in the evenings.

What I’ve learned:

-While our family could survive on $50 a week (or less) just by buying what we need that week, we are better stewards of our resources when we put the time in to stretch that $50 further (and we get FAR more for our money!)

-in order to make this happen, I need to plan ahead and always keep an eye on where our stockpiles are---to make sure that we are buying items we need as cheaply as possible (or free)

-I will need to shop at least three stores a week/or price match items at Wal-Mart & I need to utilize coupon deals even more so than I was in order to get the best deals and stretch our money.

-It takes a LOT of planning & organization….but the result for our family is worth it

-even if I only make it to Wal-Mart, I can still save lots of money.

-some weeks our shopping trips will look strange (like the week I bought 8 lbs of cheese, several boxes of pasta, and multiple packs of toilet paper) That’s ok.

--by exercising such careful planning, I can purchase little indulgences (example, my husband loves tic tacs & we never purchase them. After a doubled coupon, I was able to pick up 8 packages of them for free.---a small treat, but fun for him! I love smoothies, but make them from scratch, with a sale and a coupon, I was able to pick up four packages of Yoplait smoothie mix ready to be blended for free!)

--I LOVE being able to share with family/friends. I’m not buying 100 bottles of mustard like you might see on TV, but when I find a great deal for free items…I certainly will stock up. It’s been nice this month to be able to share some of our free purchases with family.

--MOST importantly….We are doing what we feel is right for our family. We like saving money and stretching our dollars. We believe we are being good stewards of our money by living this way. Not everyone is going to understand why we do what we do, people will inevitably not understand or agree with how we use our resources & some will think we’re crazy and not really be interested in adapting a similar lifestyle…. that’s ok. It’s worth our time.

And if this sounds like I’m bragging…I’m sorry!  I am incredibly proud of the hard work my husband and I have put into continually breaking our budget down more and more. For the last two years, we have tracked every penny in and out of our account…we have drastically cut our spending over these two years, and yet made our money go further at the same time. There is not a day that goes by that we aren’t trying to think up a new way to save or make more money. I am thankful that he works hard outside the home and he is grateful that I work so hard to save us money and make $50 go far. I am blown away by the discipline God is cultivating in both of us & excited to see how we can be stretched farther! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

toilet tips?

When I departed for college nine years ago, my mind was made up with what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” Over the course of four years, my mind (and major) changed about a dozen times. (At one point I was seeking a Women’s Studies minor, true story.)

My diploma will tell you that I paid a whole lot of money to become an expert in “Family Studies & Human Services.” What does that expertise get you in the real world? Not a whole lot. In my home, however, it has given me valuable insight into marriage, pregnancy, childbirth & raising children. I took courses labeled “Human Development”, “Intro to Human Sexuality”, “Choices in Childbirth”, “Early Childhood”, “Family Relationships & Gender Roles”, etc…

Now, my husband has a diploma that indicates he’s an expert in “Criminal Justice,” however, his real life job has put him into lots of trainings that correspond with what I learned as a college student…so, often we are on the same page when it comes to parenting topics. We are both always searching out additional resources to challenge us, make us question, give advice, etc when it comes to marriage and parenting

Bottom line, becoming a wife & mother has brought to my mind several things I learned during my time at college. The most recent topic of conversation in our home has centered on potty training. With our daughter nearing the age of 2…and subsequently developing a fascination with taking her diaper off, we have been talking through when/how/what when it comes to our approach to potty training.

Drawing from my time at college, I can remember developmental cues to look for…what DOESN’T work & when NOT to potty train (forcing a child before they are ready, training during a transition at home, etc…) I’ve refreshed my memory on some things from the Sears & Sears “The Baby Book.” And while we are in NO rush to even attempt the process, we are starting to see a few signs that encourage us that maybe potty training can begin in the next few months. (side note, in our opinion…when we actually start to train…we want to be very serious and intentional about it…as in, not potty training for months on end. If it doesn’t take quickly, we’ll be stopping and trying again a few months later)

We came home a few weeks ago with a stack of big girl panties passed on from an older cousin….the same cousin is donating her princess potty chair to the cause! We have started talking about the potty, where we go when we need to do those things & giving names to what she is doing. Lucy already has a LOT of naked time at our house…usually before and after baths when she runs off quickly…so we’re still doing that to help her recognize what’s happening to her body….even if it means sometimes getting a little pee on the floor….and we let her be naked in the backyard last week while we were playing with the pool. And we’re playing dress up with the big girl panties, even adorning her elephant with a pair.

I’m looking into other resources, but mostly…we’re just hoping to take a very laid back approach & not get too stressed out over the whole process. When she’s ready, she’ll train. I’m convinced of that. We’re just trying to start talking about things & get REALLY excited about the “big girl potty”

I know every family is different, but we’re always eager to hear what works for others. So, what helped you move your little one from diapers to underwear???

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why facebook makes me a better person...

Just the sheer title of this post is likely to elicit a giggle or two….I get it. Trust me, I’ll be the first to confess that I waste obscene amounts of time on facebook, reading blogs & obsessively checking my email. Thankfully I live in a world where iphone’s exist & I can nurse my habit while nursing my baby. Anyways, back to my point: facebook makes me a better person.

I created my account in my cozy little dorm room during my junior year of college. I posted obscure status updates with hidden meanings like all the other cool kids and I profusely complained that “dead week” was never REALLY “dead” at all. I friended all sorts of people, joined countless groups & spent days trying to figure out just what “poking” was. (for the record, I still don’t have an answer and I still think it’s rather ridiculous.)

The truth is, I’ve been committed to my facebook account longer than I’ve been to my husband. And like any good relationship, my connection to the social network has evolved over the years. My facebook time used to be purely an excuse to put off reading assignments, waste time at work (gasp!) or even forego sleep to partake in affectionate stalking. It is now my outlet to the world, which, to some is just ridiculous and people will protest that no one picks up their phone (or their pen) to communicate anymore.

Have a question about a child’s illness? Need an idea for dinner? Trying to find a good deal on toothpaste? Within about five minutes I am guaranteed a response on ANY question I post to my facebook account. I am given the opportunity to regularly humble myself when I need advice & to gracefully respond to others as well.

When I’m awake (and irritated) at five in the morning because I’m feeding a baby I can pop on over & be thankful (and convicted of my negative attitude!) when I discover another friend is up with a sick child. When my friend mentions on facebook that her son broke his leg, I am able to pray for her every time she comes to mind…or pops up in my newsfeed.

When I recognize an opportunity to encourage a friend, I’m able to do so….even if it’s limited to a 500 word comment. Sure, I’d love to take her out for ice cream….but in that moment, I can do that one simple thing & pray that it’ll make at least a bit of difference. I know that after a hard day, those simple encouraging comments from other mommas can make me feel like I have the energy to get up and do it all over again in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I desire in person connection over internet-enabled ones any day! But for now, I am so thankful for any little outlet I can have with the outside world….even if I have to request to be your friend first.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm here....somewhere

The last few weeks have been crazy busy...and crazy emotional.

We held another garage sale in conjuction with my sister's family last week, my husband started a second job & Lucy is battling her second ear infection in the last month.  There's been a lot of other "things" that have taken place---and I have a whole host of topics/successes/struggles/soapboxes that I'll be writing about soon.

But for now, I wanted to let you in on a little challenge I've set up for myself for the month of June.  If you've read for any length of time--you know that I will work my hardest to find a deal on ANYTHING (in fact, I'll let you know how I landed free teeth whitening for my husband and myself in a few days).  After Jack was born, my couponing became survival mode instead of stock-up mode.  We recently purchased a subscription to our paper (more on that later) & with coupons coming to my door---I have jumped feet first back into stock up mode. 

Because last month was the first month since my daughter was born that we've had to rely solely on my husband's income, we struggled a lot.  He has since started a second job in which he brings home cash from tips each evening.  I've set a $50 a week budget for us the month of June to cover ALL groceries & ALL household expenses.  For us this includes any disposable diapers, wipes, soaps, paper products, laundry soap, food or misc. items that need to be purchased.  We've managed on a $40 a week grocery budget before---but that did not include household expenses, and at that time our freezer was quite full of food.  Oh, and did I mention I'm also determined to keep us from eating out ALL month?  For us that means no eating out, gas station sodas or shaved ice treats.

So, yeah...it's going to be interesting to see how I can transform $200 to cover all of our food & household expenses for the month.  I'll be using cash my husband brings home to fill the envelope up at the beginning of each week.

Last week was our first week.  We went over by about $3....which was because I really wanted a cheap sprinkler for my daughter to cool off in.  All in all, we've been successful thus far.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you how well we do!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our cloth diaper "stash"....

The Laundry supplies...
Last week I shared a lot of the "why" we chose to make the leap into cloth diapering.  Today I present the "what" & the "how" of the equation....via photos.  For the most part, we wanted to be as economical as possible.  Now, I had found tutorials on how to make my own diapers & had even been offered tutorials.  But I didn't have the material necessary...nor the skill, really.  Additionally, even I had those two things--I didn't have time & patience to make enough diapers to put two kiddos into cloth.  After a LOT of research and talking with other cloth-diapering families, we decided on trying out prefolds & covers for the bulk of our stash.

diaper rite prefolds: NB, Small, Medium, & Large

Econobum One-size covers.  Lucy wears hers unsapped,
Jack's gets snapped all the way down

Other covers: Rumparooz one-size, Thirsties Duo-Wrap,
Bummis super lite

NB flip insert, one size insert, FLIP cover
In the midst of purchasing prefolds, I also decided to try some of the Flip inserts out.  These just lay inside of a diaper cover--and they're probably the easiest way we have of cloth diapering.  I love them for Lucy, but they are too huge for Jack.  I ended up purchasing some newborn Flip inserts for Jack--and aside from the occasional poop leak, these have been a really trim way to have him in cloth.

I also really wanted to give flats a shot after hearing so much about them.  Having no money to spare, I ended up purchasing flour sack towels from Wal-Mart & Target for $1 a pi
ece.  I can fold these nicely for a good fit on Jack and I can pad fold them and line a diaper cover on Lucy.  I love these!  They are super economical & easy to wash. 

These are my fleece liners & homeade flannel wipes.  The wipes are still a work in progress.  The fleece liners are sometimes inserted into a prefold or flat in order to wick away moisture from Jack or Lucy's bottom.

We ended up adding a few pockets to our stash as free "gifts with purchase" when I purchased X amount of dollars in diapers & when I purchased two separate nursing bras.  A HUGE bonus for us.  Later I purchased two Bum Genius pockets in a "seconds" sale for half off & two Kawaii brand pockets (they're good for the price!).  I also added a Bum Genius AIO for Lucy that I also found half off.  These pocket diapers are all still very huge on Jack, but have worked wonderfully on Lucy.  I am a huge fan of the Bum Genius pockets...and hope one day I'll be able to add to that collection.

The laundry...ugh.  I've tried a few different soaps & Rockin' Green was the clear winner (so far..)  I do laundry every other day.  Dirty diapers for Lucy get dunked & sprayed with Bac-Out..while Jack's just usually get a quick spray with Bac-out.  All diapers go into one of our Rumparooz wetbags until laundry day.  I do a cold soak/rinse with a small amount of Rockin' Green....followed with a hot wash & double rinse with Rockin' Green.  On nice days, everything gets hung out on the line to dry & everything but the covers get tossed in the dryer to fluff afterwards.

How we organize: Lucy's on top, pockets & flips in the middle
Jack's on bottom.  Drawer has fleece liners, and extras

My favorites?  I LOVE my Thirsties duo wrap cover for Jack...perfect for his little waist.  I also love the NB diaper rite prefolds on him.  For Lucy I love the Bum Genius pockets & pad folded flour sack towels.

So yeah...this is what we're using for now...and what works for us now.  I'm hoping to add to the stash to get us in FULL time cloth diapers (right now we're using disposables a few times a day still)