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 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 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'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 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 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 least every day for the month of November.

stay tuned...