Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making Progress?

I never really believe this is true, but I have had desperate moments as a stay-at-home-mom when I've wondered, "is anything really being accomplished here? Am I making any progress throughout the day, or is my life (our lives) like a broken record stuck on repeat?" When in doubt, remind yourself of these wonderful truths:

1. The Lord is working in and through you to carry out His good purposes for your life and for the lives of your believing children! He is! In the midst of the mundane, ALL things are working together for His glory and our good!

2. Progress is being made! Recently, when I was in one of these aforementioned funks, wanting tangible evidence that my daily labors were not in vain, I happened upon some photos and video footage of my second child's birth day. In addition to being convinced that I loved that day and babies so much that I want at least six more, it hit me that lots has been accomplished since I first held him in my arms. He is now a healthy and joyful 2 1/2 year old who is walking (running most of the time), talking, thinking, feeling and doing any number of things that I couldn't imagine him doing 2 1/2 years ago. All the meals, laundry, discipline, stories and hugs mattered. These basic tasks that I more often considered routine - and even burdensome at times - were essential to his overall development and well-being. The Lord has supplied me with all that I need to care for him and I praise Him for it!

3. Write it down. Another way to give yourself a little boost and recognize that goals are being met and tasks are being accomplished, is to write down all that you did at the end of any given day. Do not skip a diaper changed, a meal served, a laundry load washed, dried, folded and put away, a spill mopped, a time-out administered, a story read, a closet organized, etc., etc.. Don't see the list as just a motivator to add more to it, or mentally cut and paste for tomorrow, but know that, while these tasks are probably won't make the cut for your resume, you have done so many necessary things that all of the other members of your family are depending on for their well-being and even survival!

Friday, October 14, 2011

From Waiting to Reading (in the Car)

Right now our family has one child in school. Life is still pretty simple and I'm not spending too much time in the car rushing from drop-off point(s) to pick-up point(s). I have friends with more children or older children than I have and they are spending tons (I means tons) of time in the car. Most of the car time is riding, but some is sitting and waiting. With time to spare, but not enough time to run an extra errand, they find themselves waiting in the car, just waiting, until it's time to head in to their next destination. Considering this dilemma this week, I decided that I need to start keeping a small stack of books in the car. While this waiting doesn't happen to us often (yet!), it does occasionally, and it'd be nice to be prepared. With an extra ten minutes - or even two - we can pull out a book and enjoy a good read instead of sitting with the engine running, staring at the clock or out the window. Trade your waiting frustrations for a book and enjoy!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What Did You Expect??

If you are married, you need to read What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp. If you think your marriage is going on swimmingly, you need to read it. If you are consumed with children and schedules and you think you are too busy to read during this period in your life, you need to read this book! Tripp draws from years of counseling experience and careful study of God's Word. He describes encounters with counselees about various marital experiences. He asks heart probing questions that require you to consider the garden of your marriage and gently and deliberately pluck out the weeds, which you may or may not be aware are entangling the fruit in your relationship.

As moms, we have multiple lives (and relationships) entrusted to us that we need to tend and nurture throughout the day. It's hard work! As we can often get caught up in our relationships with our little ones, Tripp reminds us that understanding, effort and work are essential to fostering a healthy and biblical marriage.

Here's an excerpt regarding the importance and function of prayer for your marriage:

True, heartfelt prayer ends as it begins - with recognition of God's kingship and His glory. Prayer reminds you that life is not about you. Prayer reminds you that the center of your universe is a place reserved for God and God alone. Prayer reminds you that real peace, satisfaction, and contentment come when you live for a greater glory than your own. Prayer reminds you that the hope of marriage is not found in a husband and wife conspiring to build their own kingdom but in submitting together to the wisdom and rule of a better King. Prayer calls you away from the kingdom of self, which is so destructive to everything a marriage is intended to be, and welcomes you to the kingdom of God, where a God of love rules in love. (p. 265)

Read it! Read it! Read it! You will not be disappointed and I assure you that your marriage will be strengthened because of it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Ladies and a Closet

My mom came to visit a couple of weeks ago. When mom visits, things happen. Things that should have "happened" weeks, months or years ago, but nevertheless they get done and more weights than I can count are lifted from my shoulders! One weight in particular was gloriously dealt with and I've been giddy about it ever since - my closet! My closet was not a disaster. Things were not spilling out of it, but there were definitely more clothes in there than I could ever wear and some items that saw their best days during my high school years. They clearly needed to go, but I needed help. What is our problem with clothes (I use "our" here to make me feel better. This is an universal issue, right?)? We hold on to things for YEARS that we don't wear season after season somehow convincing ourselves that we just might need them someday. Well, my reinforcement (mom) came in, guns blazing, and spoke some sense to me when I tried on something, hesitant to get rid of it for sentimental reasons, or for no good reason at all (i.e. it's been in my closet for so long that I can't imagine my closet without it). Here are some of the tips that she shared:

*Only have what you actually WILL wear in your closet. Get rid of things that you don't wear and keep a separate bin of things that you might wear if an occasion should arise in the near future.

*Take stock of what you have. You can only wear so much black. If you find you have an abundance of one color/type of clothing, pick your favorites and give the others away.

*Take note of what colors, styles, shapes, etc. look good on you and stick to those. Shopping will be a lot easier if you can bypass all of the beautiful boat-neck tops in the store if boat-necks just don't suit you.

*If one comes in, one goes out. You've probably heard this rule before. I'm not going to be a stickler about this if there's really nothing that I'd like/need to toss out, but I do think it is a good general rule.

*Take pictures. This sounds really cheesy, and frankly it probably is, but if you try on an outfit that you really like, take a picture so you'll remember it. You could also write it down, but one click of the camera might be more time efficient.

*My favorite rule: if you're having a hard time letting some sentimental piece of clothing go (because you remember the fun you had wearing it on that date 8 years ago...), remember that if you're not wearing it, someone else could be! It's so helpful when making the decision to know that another person could actually wear (not just stare at it on the hanger) it and really enjoy it. What's old to you will be new to them!

Okay, so what's with the title of the post? While I only had my mom with me for my closet showdown, I went back to my hometown the following week and we did the same thing with my mom's closet and my sister-in-law's closet. Three seemed to be the perfect number for the task and here's why. First, we all have similar taste, which kept things simple and easy. Second, we know each other. We know which stage of life the others are in and what is and is not practical for our needs in the immediate future. Finally (and finally to the main point), when someone was trying something on, we had a conversation about why she should or should not keep the piece/outfit. We were honest, but in a gentle (most of the time) way. Discussing these things together eliminated the possibility of throwing something out without considering all the ways it could be used. For example, a top may look worn, but under a sweater or scarf it could look great. Or a top may look blah, but worn with the right accessories, it could be vastly improved. On the other hand, if both are telling you that a dress has got to go, you'll feel more confident sending it on to Goodwill.

This post may be a waste of time for those of you who are more naturally oriented to the world of fashion, accessories, or putting an outfit together. But, at the ripe old age of 31, this is new territory for me and the necessary help transformed my closet from a walk down memory lane to a pleasant, practical and manageable display of things I'll actually wear!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

S'More Please!

My son's preschool teacher made these for our class when the kids performed all of the songs they've learned this year. The treat was such a hit that the request for the recipe was overwhelming and we found the following printed out in our kid's cubbies the next day! Enjoy!

S'More Cups

7 whole graham crackers (about 1 cup crushed)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
12 large marshmallows
6 T. butter (melted)
4 Hershey bars (divided)

*Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Finely crush graham crackers. Combine graham crackers, melted butter and powdered sugar. Place a teaspoon of the mixture into mini muffin pan. Press the mixture down into the pan. Bake 4-5 minutes.
*Meanwhile, break apart two of the candy bars into rectangles.
*Remove pan from oven; place one rectangle of chocolate into each cup.
*Cut marshmallows in half with kitchen shears run under cold water to prevent from sticking. Place one half (cut side down) into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes.
*Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes, carefully remove from tin, return to rack to cool completely.
*Break apart remaining candy bars, place into microwave bowl. Microwave on high until melted and smooth (20 seconds at a time) or melt in double boiler. Dip top of marshmallow in melted chocolate.
*Turn top-side up and let stand 1 hour or until set.

Makes 24 cups.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You for the Reminder, RLS

I came across a quote today that was the encouragement I needed to hear at the end of a very, very long mommy day. Simple, concise and oh so true. I'll be printing it out and taping it to some wall in my house (or maybe multiple)!

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ultimate Cookbook

Life with two kids is busy. Life with two kids keeps getting more and more busy every day. I'm constantly looking for ways to cut corners in order to simplify our lives, but this is not always easy in the kitchen because I LOVE to cook. I've decided recently that I just can't spend hours upon hours (exaggeration, but you get the point) flipping through various cookbooks and recipes each week when I sit down to write out our menu. I'm determined to consolidate and I've found my go-to! The Ultimate Southern Living and the All New Ultimate Southern Living cookbooks are the most sure-fire recipes that combine mostly simple and relatively few ingredients, healthy options and dynamite dishes! I have yet to make a Southern Living dish that I haven't been pleased with and I have made MANY that I've just loved. And you can get the All-New version used on Amazon.com right now for a little over $7, including shipping (see link at the bottom of this post)!

Some more thoughts on simplifying your meal planning:
1. If you really like a variety from week to week, pick one cookbook per week to cook from. You'll get a variety, but you won't be overwhelmed by the options!

2. Make notes in your cookbook! You may already do this, or you may be the type that just can't bring herself to mark in a beautiful book. My advice to you - mark away anyway! Start a star system labeling your favorite dishes. Write down what you need to add for extra flavor, which family member really likes it, or whether it's best for a busy weeknight or a casual Friday night meal. The star system (or dog-ear system) will help you locate your favorites easily!

3. If you have your own recipe folder, go through it and remove recipes that didn't go over well with your family - they're just distracting you from the good recipes that are in there.

4. If you get really excited about trying new recipes, pick a couple of nights a week to try them and keep the rest of the week simple.

Happy planning!