Saving your child's art work

Monday, August 3, 2015

What do you do with all of those pictures that your child brings home from preschool, daycare or just does at home?  Sure, you can hang them on the fridge or put them in a keepsake book.  But, for those really specially pieces, why not look for new ways to save your childs work?

Shutterfly is my new favorite online shopping go to site!  I use it for gifts and home decorating.

First, I order a calendar ever Christmas for my mother and mother in law.  I add photographs and items from the previous year.  You can always scan or take digital photos of your child's art work to include.

I've also had a phone case made for my husband last year.  I included a photograph from our Christmas pictures. Artwork could also be an addition to this for something special.  

What about a photo book?  If you find it hard to save everything but throw it away?  Scan and put into a photo ok.  It will take up less space and hold up well over time!  Add descriptions from your child, dates and mores. Viola, digital scrapbook!

You could also add pictures to pillows to decorate your child's room!  This is what I did when we transitioned to a big boy bed.  I have one with a leaf from the fall.  Another is a foot print tulip from this spring.  Finally I  did one that has his ne, meaning of his and and bible verse with his photo on the back.  It's a great way to show ownership in your child's room and make it reflective of your child.


Shutter fly has throws, table runners, canvas collages, mugs, and more!  So you have a lot of options as to how you want to preserve your child's work. 

And if your child does something in art that you really love, frame it!  One of our favorite things in our childs bedroom is a framed giraffe painting from a friends daughter.  She painted it at an art camp. And it's wonderful!  

Sure there are lots of ways to save your child's art. It doesn't all have to be digitized but look for something unique that works for you.

A glimpse of what is to come

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recently, I saw a glimpse of what is to come in my life as a mother.  I also realized the selfish and selfless nature of motherhood through new eyes.  King diaper is an only.  Until now, he hasn't really shown a need or desire for other children and playmates.

Sure.  We sent him to parents morning out to socialize and be around other children.  But at that point, it was parallel play.  And his noticing other children was somewhat limited.  Until this week.

A college roommate came to visit with her children.  King Diaper couldn't get enough of her little girl.  He dragged that child all over the house.  And when it was time for her to leave, he said, "I go with you."

Until that moment, I never really saw him needing or wanting anyone else.  His family was enough.  And that was enough for me.

This week at the beach, he ingratiated himself on other children that were near by.  One evening, he wanted to play with some other boys in the sand.  As he vied for their attention.   He circled and screamed - putting his hands on their backs to signal them.  Each boy remained silent, ignoring his ploys.  I said to him, "stop screaming and say hello to them if you want to play."  He did.  "Hel-wo" he said only to be ignored.  He just kept circling the wagons determined to join their sand castle construction.

I watched with my teacher like observation to see what would happen next and thought of what to say.  But stood there silent and sad - both for he and I.  Watching, I saw my baby growing into a little boy that needed and wanted his momma less.  And, I watched as he experienced, unknowingly, the first of many moments of disappointment.

Becoming a new mother, one wants a child or a baby really to love and nurture.  And that vision for me didn't include anything beyond that.  Sure.  I always knew there would be play dates, sleep overs, and then dates and college.  But that is a long way off.  Or is it?

For the first time, I wanted to help him make friends and play with other children.  I also want to let him make his own way.  But, I don't want to let go of that tiny hand that has been holding mine for so long.  And I caught a glimpse of that little boy walking out the door - going to school, to spend time with friends, and holding the hand of a girl he loves.  Because one day, he would be grown up and no longer holding my hand and needing me as much.  

He needs me now, and I'm trying to hold on to that while relinquishing some of my selfishness as a mother.  He needs to play with other children and he wants to be more independent.  Increasingly he is less dependent.  I can't and won't stop those things.  I don't want to, but I want it to slow down.  Even if I could slow down time into a crawl, I would never be ready. 

I see my grandmother letting go seven times to her boys and how that must have felt each time.  And I don't think that lessened with the number of times that she did it.

As I write this, King Diaper is sleeping upstairs.  I'm at the beach while his dad is on duty.  I'm enjoying a little precious time that was once mostly never interrupted pre baby days.  And I realize with that King Diaper achieving independence, some of my own independence will be regained.  

I'll relinquish some of what I wanted when I became a mother and not hold on so tight.  I'm going to help him find his way and nurture him as he does. I know it's my job and how things are supposed to be. 

I only hope he never forgets how to hold his mamas hand because he will always have her heart.  And each time he lets go of my hand, it tugs a little harder at my heart strings.   And as I let go a little more, he will always be my little boy that I hope will always need his mamma.

Summer Fab Fit Fun Box 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box.  It is hands down my favorite box!  It covers all the bases. There is always something that is health and fitness related, beauty and makeup and fun little products that make it well rounded.  The summer 2015 box is my most favorite one to date!

For $49.95, this is what the summer box included:
  1. wireless clip on speaker - $35
  2. jump rope - $12
  3. nail wraps- $12
  4. wren necklace - $100
  5. Vaseline lotion - $6.49
  6. Gorge leave in spray conditioner - $24
  7. Inkling roller ball scent - $25
  8. facial sponge/exfoliator - 
  9. Headspace coupon - $36
  10. Tarte Lip Gloss - $19
This is a total of over $250 worth of products.  How did it stack up?

First, the wireless speaker is great!  It is perfect to clip on King Diaper's stroller, take to the beach, onto the deck for dinner or anywhere really.  It connects by blue tooth or an auxiliary cord.  It has a little cord to charge it up and you are ready to go!  Sound is perfect.  And, it functions as an FM radio!  What is not to love?  Everyone could use a little music on the go!

The jump rope is perfect for travel and
is a nice weight!
While you're at it, the jump rope is perfect!  This is my new go to in my bag I'm packing.  No gym, raining outdoors or just bored with the typical work out routine?  No problem.  Jump rope!  I love it.  It requires nothing other than just good ole sweat and hard work.

The nail wraps are most likely my least favorite, but this is not a deal breaker for me.  I just don't really do my finger nails.  I'm too hard on them for this to be a big interest item for me.  I will probably try them at some point, but its an "eh okay" item for me.

The Wren necklace has a little crescent
moon on it.
Jewelry is something I enjoy and wear but rarely buy for myself.  So, I was pretty happy with this score!  The length is just right.  It goes with lots of things, and I've gotten lots of compliments on it.  Every box has a "big" item.  This was it for this box, and its a pretty good one!   Spring had a great scarf that I've worn a ton!

I've been wanting to try the spray on Vaseline lotion, and this gave me my chance.  Its easy to use and great for summer when the pool and sun is drying out skin.  Plus, this is a full size item.  I really like that.  

Inkling Roller Ball Scent -
Smells Great!
Gorge leave in conditioner spray is a way to give your hair the little extra shine and balance you need.  Summer always fries my hair with pool chlorine and sun.  Plus, styling in general is harsh.  This is certainly something that I needed and have been using daily.  Since I color my hair, I think that I'll be glad this was part of my box.

Over the past few months I've become a bigger fan of roller ball scents.  These are easy to travel with.  So this is perfect for me since I am constantly on the road.  My only complaint is that it is a bit oily and bugs me a bit there.  However, the scent is light and not too heavy.  The pros over ride the oily factor.  

The facial sponge is like getting a facial every time you use it.  And it doesn't require anything with it.  It scrubs your skin and leaves it smooth and polished.  Again, great for summer!

The speaker can be clipped
onto just about anything from
a beach umbrella to a stroller!
Headspace is a meditation download that can be used on the go.  Described as  gym for the mind.  The $36 coupon essentially pays for 3 months of service.  You can download "courses" to listen to on the go.  It kind of reminds me of the digipill app that I have.  The first ten sessions are ten minutes long and very relaxing.  It is certainly worth a try and everyone has 10 minutes.  I always use the coupons in my box because it gives me a chance to try something new!  In the spring box, there was a coupon for $40 off of Hello Fresh.  

The Tarte Lip Gloss is another favorite from this box.  It is glossy with the perfect color and stays on pretty well.  It is just right for the summer and has become my go to lip color this season.

lotion and face scrubber!
The next box will be the fall 2015 box that will be out in a few months.  There is still time to order the summer box or sign up for the fall box and give it a whirl next time.  The ten items this time were totally worth it.  My favorites are definitely the speaker, jump rope, Tarte lipgloss, Gorge leave in condition, and necklace.  If I didn't use anything else from this box, I've done pretty good.

This box is perfect for anyone.  It has a little bit of it all.  And if you are a mom or someone on the go, run and get this for yourself or ask for a subscription as a gift.  I know way to many women that spend all of their time taking care of everyone else and not enough time on themselves.  This box is a way to get somethings fun while taking care of yourself and looking great while doing it.  And given that every box is packed with great products, you will get way more for your $50 than what you spend.  So, you can't loose.

And if the price tag is still bugging you, think of it this way.  How much do you spend on products a year?  Most women spend at least $16.65 on products a month for themselves.  Sometimes these are ones that don't make the cut and get tossed out.  Well, that is the price of this box if you break down the cost per month.  Not that bad when you think about it.  What are you waiting for?  You know you want it!  

It's Smoothie Time

Monday, July 13, 2015

Smoothies are a favorite of mine for lots of reasons.  Over the years, the types of smoothies that I make have evolved, and I hope this means that they have improved.  The main thing that I consider in a smoothie is the ingredients.  What is this stuff that I'm putting in them?  While I'm at it, let me clarify that to me smoothie and meal replacement shakes tend to be synonymous.

There are lots of powders and mixes out there.  Every brand makes lots of claims.  But it comes down to ingredients.

I'm not a nutritionist.  So, let me add that as a disclaimer there.  Nor, am I a medical doctor.  So, all of this is about what I have learned, tastes good and makes sense to me.

When I make a smoothie, I'm considering the following:

1.  Taste and texture
2.  Calories
3.  Fat
4.  Protein
5.  Fiber

If you are going to start incorporating smoothies, think about what you like and don't stick to one thing forever.  You will burn out and dread the thought of another one.  Also, look for seasonal options that make things different and fun.

The freezer can be your best friend.  Bananas that are getting too ripe?  Freeze them!  Want to have fruit on hand?  Buy a few bags of frozen fruit at the grocery store.  Or, freeze fresh fruit from the farmers market and freeze to have on hand!

Also, if you travel, some brands of shake mixes come in prepackaged powder packets that are super easy.  But, don't let that stop you.  I put a scoop of drink mix in a mini plastic container or even a small ziplock bag.  One a recent trip, I put a scoop of mix in a baggie for each day.  Put the bags inside of my shaker cup.  And I was packed and ready to go.  So easy, and I had breakfast each morning on the go.

Look for ways to incorporate vegetables in your smoothies for added fiber.  Beets, carrots, kale and celery can all be good ways to add a little some thing extra.

I always have the following things on hand at my house for smoothies:

1.  Coconut or almond milk - any milk will do!  Take your pick.
2.  Bananas
3.  Protein powder.  Vanilla is the most versatile.
4.  Peanut butter
5.  A bag or two of frozen fruit

When I first started making smoothies, my first one was a chocolate peanut butter with banana concoction that I still love!  But, I have branched out to sunrise smoothies with beets and carrots.  Or I have cinnamon roll smoothies and even PB and J Smoothies.  No!  I do not put jelly in them!

Here are a few of my favorites that I have come to love.

Chocolate Peanut Butter
and Banana
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana 
1 cup milk - dairy or nut
5 ice cubes
1 banana
1 tbsp of peanut butter
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp of cocoa powder

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie
1 cup of milk - nut or dairy
1 banana
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
5 ice cubes

Chocolate cherry
Chocolate Cherry
1 cup milk - nut or dairy
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1 scoop chocolate protein powder*
*If you don't have chocolate, use vanilla and add a tbsp of cocoa powder.

Pina Colada 
1 cup milk - nut or dairy
1/2 cup pineapple - fresh is best or at least canned that is packed in only juice
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Pina Colada Smoothie
German Chocolate
1 cup milk - nut or dairy
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut, toasted
1 tbsp pecans, toasted
you can add ice cubes if you want

The advantages of a smoothie is that you can have a meal that you can drink easily.  If you have things on hand, it gives you a reason NOT to feel like you HAVE to pick something up or order out.  It is an easy way to start your day.  And, many protein powders and drink mixes can be made with just water and used on the road.  I have even mixed my powder with milk on the road and had a meal that way.

When you pick a protein powder, do your research.  Compare brands.  I can tell you the brands that I use.  But instead, I'll tell you that I have more than one brand in my house now.  From experience, if you have more than one brand you will be able to tell the difference in the ones that have lots of sugar and additives.  It took just a little while to tell this.  Sure.  The ones with more sugar taste great!  But, is that what you are going for?  Maybe so.  But, grab a milkshake while you are at it and call it a day.  Labels.  Labels.  Labels.  Read up and choose wisely.  Not all protein and meal shake powder is created equally.

That doesn't mean your smoothie or meal replacement shake can't taste great.  Advocare has a seasonal meal replacement shake.  Iced Lemon Cake is the flavor.  Run and get these as fast as you can before they are gone!  They are delicious and packed with 24 grams of protein.  Trust me.  You will thank me later for that one.  Since they come in little packets, they are so easy to sneak into your purse or suitcase and take with you wherever.  These mix so easy in blender bottle and can be made with water or milk!

I have found that the store bought protein powders tend to be a little more gritty and yield a less appealing taste and texture.  The finer the powder, the smoother the texture overall.   A high powered blender might provide a great texture regardless of the powder, but this won't help if you are using a blender bottle.  So, this is one thing to consider.

And don't let sticker shock scare you!  Sure, $68 sounds like a lot for meal replacement shakes.  But, when you divide that by 28.  This is $2.43 per serving.  With about 50 cents a serving for nut or organic milk, and another 50 cents for fruit, you are up to $3.43 total.  That's a whole meal!  You can't buy a happy meal for that.   Be prepared to spend around $2.50 to a little over $4 per serving for most shakes and powders.  But you totally get what you pay for when it comes to this!  I've tried a lot of them.

Hamilton Beach Single Serving Blender, $15
at Target
Do the math and think about what you are spending per meal.  When you look at it through this lens, it is a lot easier pill to swallow.  Because, when you think about what you spend for a fast food meal or other meals you eat on the go, this is a small price and probably cheaper.  Plus, is it cheaper to eat cheap food or cheaper to buy great food and be healthier!?  I'm sure your wallet will thank you over the long haul along with your body.

I use smoothies as my go to way to have something easy and healthy in the mornings or on the road so that I stay on track.  This past year, I bought a $15 Hamilton Beach blender that I can take with me.  It is small.  When I am driving for work or with my family, I chunk it in a bag and can always have a healthy meal to offset whatever else is going on that day.

Also, Pinterest is my favorite way to find out about new smoothies.  I look for new recipes and combinations all the time.  If I have random ingredients , I do a search for a smoothie with that ingredient.  I did this earlier this spring with beets and came up with the a Sunrise Smoothie Recipe.

Finally, a blender cup works fine.  I use them all of the time.  But, these are really for just mixing powder and liquid.  Fruit won't work in them.  Again, think about the quality of your protein powder you are using.  Finer will give you a smoother shake in a blender bottle.  I probably won't buy any more store bought powders after this go around.  I just don't like them.

My Hamilton Beach $15 single serving blender cup is what I used the most.  But, if you want the fancy brand with more power, well you get what you pay for.  The fancy Vitamix machines and Ninjas provide a smooth texture that is superior to less expensive brands.  But, for me, my $15 blender works just fine.  I'm not trying to be a smoothie chef.  I just want to have a healthy meal.  I don't mind a few chunks of fruit.

I'm not going to replace all my meals with smoothies.  I cannot drink all my meals.  But it is a great quick option.  It is great for being on the go.  And best of all, it is great for keeping me on track.

Once you start to discover all of the creative things that you can do with smoothies, it becomes fun to see all of the great combinations that can be created.  Since many of these things are already on hand, it is a solution that works for any budget and and schedule.

Try something new!  You will thank me later!

Love, Loss and Regret

Monday, June 8, 2015

A life without regret is a life without lessons learned.  Regret isn't pleasant or something I revel in.  But, I would rather look at this part of my life a little more optimistically.

Loss is one of life's hardest lessons.  This past month, I've taken a heartbreaking look back at a loss that I don't believe I'll ever get over.  And, its a loss that I'm trying to finally come to terms with.

The year before I married, I lost a dear friend to suicide.  Just typing that word is difficult.  Saying it is really unbearable.  And in the midst of registering for wedding gifts and all the planning, I missed the last chance to ever talk to him.  We had been playing phone tag for several days.  Its a regret that I can never take back.

Someone cruelly said to me once in response to this regret, "Its rather egocentric to think you could have changed his mind."  I don't think of that phone call that I missed that way.  It is the selfish regret of not having one more memory - something to hold on to.

The night I took Craig to the train station to go home to his parents for the summer, I returned home.  It was late afternoon.  My dad leaned back into his chair, put his hands behind his head and delivered the news.  The initial shock left me numb before the calls started to pour into my parents house.  And I don't think that I even cried much.  That night, after all of the motions, I crawled into bed and sobbed into the darkness.

Eighteen years later, I still cry.  He shared my sisters birthday.  That terrible day was right after my husband's birthday.  And every year, I never forget.   For his family, I cannot imagine the gravity of those dates in their lives.  Those tears I cry some days are for his parents and sister.  Other days, I cry for him and the pain he must have been in.  Still other days, I cry because I miss that person that could just call and had so many connections to.

I go back to my old high school for work several times a year.  Every time, I see that spot on the benches out front where he and I would sit with our friends on break and before school.  I am reminded of pranks and notes passed in the halls.

This year, as I approached that dreaded date, I listened to an episode of This American Life that brought out a flood of emotions.  The segment focused on a place in Utah that helps children deal with grief.  Many of the children that participate in this program are suicide survivors where a parent has committed suicide.  As I listened the day after my husband's birthday, this story sent me into a three day crying fit that I'm still recovering from.

But, it also made me come to a realization about this loss that I think is long overdue.  Am I over it?  No, I don't think its really possible.   My sister told me several years ago that I should face the fact that I would never be over it because of how it happened.  While I was angry at the time, there is some painful truth to that.

I think the past 18 years have been clouded by that final punctuation mark, and it has been difficult to remember the happy and good things that made him so special.  This week I managed to push past the most difficult final memory and reach back to a time when I couldn't image life without this person in my life.

There were lots of happy memories to be had.  Nights at the movies, riding around and talking on weekends and after school, and going to the mall.  We were there together when other friends and classmates left us in high school.  We took classes together in high school and college.  Even after all of this time, there is a void that cannot and will not be filled in my life.  Some friendships are this way - and this is one of those.  

And where does that leave me?  The night of my friend's wake, his mother said something to me that I have never forgotten.  "He loved you.  He loved everyone, but he loved you special."  With the painful loss and overwhelming regret, I'm still left with love.  It is something that was real.  It can't be taken away and still exists even after all of these years.

My son is sleeping peacefully.  Our house is quiet.  That two year old is so innocent and doesn't know loss or regret.  I hope it is a long time before he knows those later two.

He does know the love of his family and our friends.  Love is the most important part.  It is what he will know first, and what I hope he always knows.

My hope for him is that he will develop those friendships that I had growing up that I still have today.  Because even though there has been loss, there are still so many people in my life that I love and cherish.  And it is the love of those around you that carries you through the tough times of loss and regret.  While I can't forget the past and what is lost, I don't want that to overshadow the love that I'm surrounded with daily.

As I go into another year without that piece of my heart, I hope that I can allow myself to feel less loss and regret.  I'll always look back.  That part of my life and that friendship shaped a lot of who I am as an adult.  I can't remove that chunk of my life and never look back.  I don't want to.

But, I do want to take what I have learned from the love, loss and regrets in my life and use it to make a difference in how I live.  There will be more times ahead where there is loss and regret, but I know that I'll always have love - from those that I have lost and those that surround me now.  And that is what matters most.

Bye Bye Baby!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Last night of his crib
This week, King Diaper's crib came down.  In its place is a pretty little twin bed.  His room rearranged, and everything looks much different that before.

He is almost potty trained.  The wipe warmer is on its way out.  The changing pad is no longer needed.  And, he is in big boy pants.

I suppose I should feel sad.  My mom has even cried over this transition. Yesterday, I did a bit.  I sat in his room looking around while his daddy bathed him.  Even though there were a few tears, today was a flurry of activity.  I didn't feel sad at all.

Yes, he is growing up.  That baby he once was is growing into a little boy.  And I don't want to go back.

His start was hard and scary.  I never got to really do his room the way I wanted to.  I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy shopping online and arranging things by photographs and diagrams for my husband and friends to do.  There is no nesting for the mother on bed rest.

I spent many nights after we came home crying in that room with the sheer joy and realization that we were home.  It was overwhelming and difficult in new ways to adjust to all of the equipment at home and what it meant to care for a child with a complicated medical history.
New bed!  He says!

With the transition to the big boy bed, I was able to do what all new mothers enjoy doing.  I was able to arrange and fix his room just as I wanted.  I cleaned out closets and got everything arranged just so.  It felt great.

Looking back is hard.  I don't want to go back.  Moving forward and growing big and strong is such an achievement for him that this milestone is far less sad and much more victorious.

I will miss those days where he was so small when we came home.  Those sweet cuddles and coos were all welcome sounds.   But I will never miss his monitor going off in the night to scare me to pieces.  And while there will be other scares and sleepless nights, I feel like I didn't loose anything with the sweet baby bed he once slept in.  I gained the little boy I always wanted.

Healthy.  Happy and growing up big and strong.  He is laying in his big boy bed tonight after crawling in all by himself.  And I can't be sad about that.  Life is sweet, and I'm going to celebrate us making this move forward in our life!

Get Off the Internet!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Internet is a breeding ground for fear racked mothers to feed their thoughts and curiosity.  It is place that I try not to search for information about "pulmonary hypertension" or any of the other things that we deal with daily.  I am really trying to let the doctors that treat our child do the talking and walk away from that keyboard.

At our last cardiology appointment, I asked just enough questions to get the answers I need to know and to ignite a fear that I wish I could let go of.  I learned a long time ago, that bringing home a micro preemie means a long time of specialists and care givers that give you the good, the bad and just the information that is real.  We are very aware of how fortunate we are and are very thankful.  But, I think I've been living in a state of denial for a long time.  And its time to let it go.

Bottom line, our guy is doing well.  But, he has a long way to go before we are free of all the doctors, treatments and medicine.  Its time for me to stop thinking about less frequent appointments and all the rest of it.  He just isn't ready to fly solo yet, and I have to focus on the positive and get out of the hamster wheel of false hope.

When I finally, asked about his condition, length of treatment and needs for meds, I was told unequivocally that he most definitely needs the medication that he currently takes.   It will be at least a couple years before they can start to think about weening him off of anything.   In fact, his doctor is thinking about going up on his meds, and the dreaded heart cath is back on the table.

Some days I feel like we take two steps forward and three steps back.  He gains a two pounds and looses one.  We are still trying to get him over the 30 pound mark.  No matter how much we feed him and encourage him at snacks and meals, it is just a down right struggle.

He wheezes and rattles when he breathes.   At church recently, we had to pull out his rescue inhaler during church.  This is something I really try to avoid because I hate calling attention to all of this.  When he was on oxygen children stared, adults asked what was wrong and it was scary a lot of the time.  We've come a long way, and stares and comments are really the least of it all.  But, I still don't really like it.

I want him to be a normal little boy that I'm not having to listen in on his breathing as we play out doors so that I snatch him up for a breathing treatment.  And I think that day will come.  Lots of preemies like him go on to lead very healthy lives.  There are healthy term babies that take breathing treatments and heart meds.  So, we certainly aren't alone.

Just this last weekend, his breathing scared me at the park and I had to pull him out of one of those jungle gym tunnels to listen to him rattle about then pull out his inhaler.  I hate those moments.  But, I'm also trying not dwell on them.  He went right back to playing as if nothing had happened.  And I just let him go.  He was happy, and I should be too!

In the mean time, I'm not searching online about his medications and treatments.  I don't want to know anymore than what the doctors tell me about his medical condition.  Even that frustrates me.  No two doctors he sees really agree.  Some say, "take him off his meds and see how he does".  Others say, "if he goes off his meds, he will be back on them and much sicker when he does go back on them."  See what I mean?  And those two conflicting options sometimes make me want to search online for more information.  But, I just can't.  I want to enjoy our life at home that I so desperately wanted and prayed for while we waited for it to happen.

At that very same appointment, I was shown the video from his echo so that he could talk to me about the pressures on the left side of his heart and how bad this is for anyone.  As I listen to the doctor talking to me about too much pressure on the left side can cause heart failure, my head started to swim and my mind just seemed to stop.  No, our guy isn't headed in that direction.  But, he was just nailing in that medicine is necessary to control that pressure that is bad.  Very bad.  See?  Would you want to do an Internet search about that.  And no, don't stop to do it now.  Trust me.  I have not and will not.  That conversation gave me enough to chew on mentally until the next appointment we have in July.

I've taken to asking doctors follow up questions through the medical portal they use.  I ask them to fax me information about his medicines side effects if I need it.  And I try to make informed decisions based on the whole picture that is made up of a lot of moving parts.

And after all, I trust his doctors.  They are the trained medical professionals.  No.  I don't have my head in the sand.  If I thought for one minute we needed a second opinion, I'd ask for it.  But for now, we are on an uncertain path and the Internet is a slippery slope waiting for me to fall into a downward spiral of questions leading to more questions with few answers.

So my advice to any mommies out there - Stay off the Internet.  Don't self diagnose your children and seek out the scary information that may or may not be true.  Talk to your doctors.  Ask questions and work within that dialog.  And save the internet for Pinterest, shopping and all of the other things that you could be doing that might actually benefit you in the end.

Essential Oils

Monday, April 27, 2015

I am in love with essential oils.  Since I was introduced to me this winter, I have become obsessed! Oils can be used for topical use, internal use and diffusing.  Before using any oils, you need to make sure that you are using pharmaceutical grade oils and check to see if they should be used before going all out!

I have a my little arsenal of basics, but am constantly expanding!  We use DoTerra Oils at our house.  There are several brands out there.  But we really like the quality of this brand.

The ones that we use are:

  • On Gaurd - Proprietary Blend by DoTerra
  • Breathe - Also a Proprietary Blend by DoTerra
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Wild Orange
  • Tea Tree
How do I use these oils?

On Gaurd
I diffuse this for killing air born germs throughout our house.  It is great to do this after you come home from school or being in a public place.  I add a couple of drops to our laundry to kill germs.  We even have a spay in a bottle that I use to disinfect surfaces safely.

I use this in King Diaper's diffuser in his room if he is getting congested.  I also mix it in a carrier oil and rub it into his check, back and bottom of his feet at night before bed.  It can also be added to his bath water at night.

I love to use this in water to wake me up when driving.  It is also just refreshing to drink.  It is also a good way to wake yourself up in the morning or for a mid afternoon pick me up with just a quick swipe under the nose!  Its also a great way to freshen your breath if this is in your water.  Win and win!

Also great for drinking.  I make a spray for counters and surfaces.  It is always a great scent to use in the house when cleaning or just first thing in the morning.  I also like to mix with wild orange for a nice citrus scent throughout the house.

I diffuse this at night throughout our house at the end of the day as we wind down.  I also add it to King Diaper's bath a lot to help calm him down.  We also keep this mixed in a spray bottle as a linen spray at the end of the night.

Tea Tree
This can be mixed with lavender and a carrier oil as a topical solution for rashes and skin irritations.

You can search for other ideas for making homeopathic muscle creams for sore and achy muscles to cold remedies.  Its really a matter of how widely you want to use these and what needs you have in your home.  

We have diffusers throughout our house.  I'm contemplating purchasing a travel one for when I'm on the road.  But, no worries.  Place a couple of drops onto cotton balls and spread around your hotel room, and you are covered.  I like to start the day with something happy and energizing like lemon and wild orange.  While I'm cleaning, I'll diffuse On Guard for germ killing properties.  We end the day with lavender around the house.  

Essential oils can be used for lots of different things around the house.  I love using them as sprays to clean because they are safe and effective.  Plus, the house smells great.  

If you are looking for more ideas and ways to use oils, Pinterest is a plethora of information.  I check out ideas from time to time for new ways to be healthier in our home.  Also talk to other users to find out what they are doing that they like.  I was recently introduced to a roller ball mixture that one user calls "Liquid Xanex".  Its a calming formula that can be rolled on easily and is a great scent.  She was willing to mix up a batch and sell it to me.  Happy all around.

I would not suggest to replace medicines that are necessary in your home for oils.  Talk to your physician first.  We talked to King Diaper's pulmonologist about the breathe formula.  She is fine with us using it, but it in no way replaces his needed breathing treatments.  I feel like anything that I can do to increase the quality of our life at home naturally is a good thing.

So, get your curious self out there and check out some oils.  At a minimum, they smell great and can make your house smell like a spa.  Who wouldn't like that?  Even my husband says he likes the way they make our house smell.  And this is high praise from someone who normally takes the side of "whatever makes me happy".  

Letting Go Before I Become a Hoarder! (is harder than I thought)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The pile of stuff for the consignment sale!
Good grief!  Having a small house with small closets may be the best thing that ever happened to me.  Otherwise, my amount of "stuff" would have grown to a level that is indescribable and unmanageable by now!

A few weeks ago, a friend sent a text about a consignment sale and asked if I had items I'd like to place in them.  At the time, I thought that I'd have a few items that I would send.  I started out with a simple bag that I had already placed a few items in.

Before it was over with, this grew into a large plastic garbage sack for donation along with another smaller bag.

Additionally, I had:
  • 1 large plastic bin completed filled
  • 2 cloth bags packed full
  • 2 overflowing smaller boxes
It was time.  It was past time for all of this stuff to go.  What was I going to do with it.

I had lots of great things I hated to part with, but what good was all of this stuff doing me?  After I came home with King Diaper, I faced the facts and packed up the clothes that didn't fit thinking I'd be back in the next year.  And two year later, they were still packed.  

Have I given up on those clothes and being that size again?  No.  Not really.  I have set some very specific goals for myself this year and have been working really hard to get there.  But hanging on to clothes that don't fit isn't going to motivate me to do this.  If I haven't been motivated enough in two years, I need to move on from that.  

More stuff to be donated!
Some times hanging on just weighs you down and is just that sad, depressing reminder that this part of my life has passed.  Or has it?

Not really.  My life has changed.  So has my size.  It happens to every body.  

When I get to where I'm going, I don't know what my size or shape will be.  That always seems to change for women.  Yes.  We did get that lucky!

So, all of the stuff went!  I tossed and turned over it thinking about that grey dress or cute top that maybe I would want later.  Or would I?  Do I want the clothes or what they represent for me?  

I don't know how to answer that.  But I do know that hanging on to them is hanging on to something isn't helping me.  

My closets are cleaned out and have more room.  I have less stuff and baggage.  And maybe it just represents the baggage and everything else that I hope to get rid of this year.  Sometimes life if full circle that way.  And maybe I'm just trying to not be a hoarder.  And maybe I'll end up with a little change for some new clothes.

I think the hardest part was actually seeing the clothes on the rack at the consignment sale.  It was a definite good bye to who I used to be, the size I once was and the clothes that I loved.  But then again, that life was minus one other little life that has filled our home with joy.  It isn't easy making peace with all of that.  But, it is something that I'm sorting out a little at a time.

I think any woman would be lying if she didn't say that she missed her pre baby body if it isn't what she wanted it to be.  I have seen articles recently talking about "I'm fat and happy".  I just don't know if I can or ever will buy it.  Its a concept that is good in theory but I don't think that I'm every going to settle for fat and happy.  I want to be healthy and happy.  That is my ultimate goal at this point in my life.  I don't know what those clothes, that number on the scale or that size is going to look like just yet.  But once I get there I'll know.

Either way, its a good thing.  And it is necessary.  Even if it keeps me up at night.  Because once I embrace the change and letting go, I always sleep much better!

Celebrating Two Years at Home

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Waiting at his last doctor's appointment with
"markers" a.k.a crayons
The day our son was born was not the way I had envisioned motherhood starting. There were no happy pictures of me and a new baby snuggled after giving birth.  It would be more than two months from that date before I ever held our baby.  And even then he was on the vent, and I was holding him perfectly still fearing one wrong move that could remove his breathing tube that he required.  It was not a warm, cuddly moment.  Rather, it was a terrifying feat that still makes me sad.

The day that I will probably always celebrate with more joy than his birthday will be our coming home day!  April 11 was the day that we were finally able to come home and be a family.  Its more like a second birthday for us.  Surviving 193 days in the NICU is something to celebrate!

Today we are celebrating 2 years at home.  It was day for us that I remember being racked with a flood of emotions.  I can remember being happy, excited, scared, sad, uncertain and in some ways numb.

For months, every nurse that cared for our son was our lifeline to what was going on when we couldn't be with him.  He slept in the hospital under their care every night.  He started his days with this group of nurses and doctors and knew nothing else.

On trips for regular check ups, we stop by the NICU to see the nurses that we love so much.  And until this time, he kind of sat in his stroller and starred.  This time, he leapt into their arms and let him hold him happily like long lost friends.  The sounds of the beeping and smell of antiseptic kind of makes me sick, but is strangely familiar.  While I don't want to go back, I do miss this group of care givers that were such a huge part of his fragile beginning.

King Diaper came into this world with us scared and uncertain.  I can remember the days and nights of crying at his bedside.  We made difficult decisions and watched as even more difficult events unfolded for us beyond our control.

Now, we are at home with a toddler that screams often.  He smiles, laughs and loves to be tickled.  He always wants to "make something", for us to "Pick me up" and is eager to tell us "I smell it" or "I do hear it".  And every milestone is a miracle to us.

How to each an ice cream sandwich
Yes.  We will continue to celebrate birthday's with parties and cake.  I want him to have that enjoy a day to celebrate his life.

But his mommy will alway celebrate double on our coming home day!  Each year, we are a little farther from those long days that seemed to never end.  But, I think that I will forever feel that I left a piece of my heart in the NICU.

That last night, I spent at the hospital with him in a rooming suite for mothers and babies to adapt to that transition home.  The last nurse that cared for us had cared for our son many times before.  She had been his nurse many nights when he was at his sickest and required a single nurse 24 hours a day.

On that last night, at the end of her shift, she handed me a letter she had written to him.   It is now tucked into his baby book for him to discover when he is older.  Its a memory that punctuates our lives in the NICU and reminds me of how special each person that works there is.

As we drove home that day, I still remember riding in the back seat next to him in his car seat for the first time.  I read that letter with a tear stained face and heart realizing that our lives had forever been changed by care givers just like her.  One day, he will be able to read that letter himself.

We may have missed those typical first moments, days and months, but we gained a group of caregivers that surrounded us daily with kindness and support.  

I'll never be able to thank each person that touched our lives during that time.  Nurses and doctors are truly special people.  The NICU is a whole different kind of special.  Even on the days that you are mad and frustrated to the point of no return, you will look back after it is over and think about that one moment when someone listened, helped you change a diaper or just let you cry because you had to.

Now that I look back, its easier to not wish for what we didn't have.  Instead, I wish that those who helped us during those dark days know that they were the light that brought us home.  And today, we celebrate you too!  For you were the hands and hearts that helped us through that journey.  Each year, I'll continue to celebrate you in the part that you played on our life as we watched the miracle of life unfold before us.  He arrived much sooner than we had anticipated, but perfect in God's timing.

Lighten Up Your Baking

Monday, April 6, 2015

The makings of a favorite muffin - less the oil!
I love to cook.  Now that I have a husband and King Diaper to cook for, I feel like I enjoy it more than ever.  It is a fact, that I will cook pancakes upon demand on a Sunday night if our toddler wakes up from a nap asking for them.

Applesauce is a great way to lighten up your baking that calls for oil.  I would only recommend this for cakes, breads and muffins.  I'm not sure how cookies would do.  Fats certainly affect the taste and texture of baking.

I am certainly not a trained chef or baker, but I've had great results with this in our kitchen at home.   If you use applesauce for baking, I would recommend the following:

  • Use unsweetened applesauce.
  • Make a 1 to 1 substitution for swapping oil for applesauce.
  • You can also substitute one for one minus two tablespoons and add the two tablespoons back in oil.  A little more complicated, but can yield better results in some cases.  
Why would you do this?  Well, some muffin and sweet breads call for up to a cup of oil!  Thats a lot of fat and calories that can be eliminated.  

I have a recipe for Whole Wheat Muffins from Bottletree Bakery in Oxford, MS.  It is included in the Square Table Cookbook that even Bulldogs should own.  (Even though I hate to admit that!)

This recipe is a basic muffin batter and can be customized with 2 cups of your choice of fruit.  I recently made these with cranberries.  So good!

While I'm on the topic of baking muffins, I also like to use parchment paper for my liners.  I think that they don't stick.  And this is one less then for me keep around.  In a small house I try to buy products that multitask.  Parchment paper is a wonder paper that I use for lots of things.

The beginnings of parchment muffin liners
For muffins, tear off a sheet.  Fold into thirds.  Then fold again into thirds.  This will give you 9 squares.  Cut apart.  Duplicate as needed for the amount of muffins you bake.  I just press loosely into the tin and drop some batter into the center with a cookie scoop.  This weights them.  And you can keep filling until it is the right amount.

Finally, one last swap you can make while baking is with coconut oil.  For any recipe that calls for butter, make an equal swap with coconut oil.  It is considered to be a healthier fat.  For these muffins, it can be used in the topping.  

I didn't say these had no fat!  

What does the difference in swapping oil for applesauce make in the end result?  Well, for this muffin:

Whole Wheat Cranberry Muffins
Whole wheat muffins with applesauce 269 calories and 6.1 grams of fat.
Whole wheat muffins with oil 337 calories and 14.1 grams of fat.

That is a big difference!  And I think every little bit counts.  These little swaps and substitutions can add up to noticeable results over time.  Look for ways that you can make simple substitutions in your favorite recipes and enjoy the results a few changes can make!

Making the right decisions are always the hardest and easiest

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jinx the wonderdog!
Craig and I were always cat people.  When we met, I had my cat Sage.  Then we added our cat Guthrie the year we married.  But somewhere along the way, we became dog people.

I remember it well.  I had agreed to dog sit for a college friend.  Mercedes is a miniature pincher mix. She is chocolate brown, vivacious and the best dog one could imagine.  Having a dog to sit in the kitchen underfoot while I cooked and begging for attention was fun.

Cats are so very different.  They don't really need people other than to feed them and clean their litter box.  You are their human, and you can to earn their love in a snooty little game they play.  And while I love cats, I fell in love in dogs.

Our first dog was Jinx.  She was given to us by someone who needed a new home for this little pomeranian chihuahua mix.  This pomchi was literally like a stuffed animal.  She didn't bark.  She went every where with us.  She had a whole wardrobe and rode around in her purse waiting to see what was next.

After Jinx was our sweet Tia that unfortunately was lost in a mishap on a 4th of July that I can't bear to discuss!  Now, we have Bunnie.  She is a long hair chihuahua that is a sweet little girl.  She is very shy but friendly.

In our four years of having her, my husband and I have talked over and over about getting her a companion.  And in theory it seems like a good idea.   Before now, long before now, it would have been the right thing to do.  But now it isn't.
Bunnie sporting her pink dress

Craig has a soft spot for animals and has just said "whatever you want to do" when a pomchi puppy became available.  Which for most people would be the right thing.  My husband is saying do whatever.  The dog is cute.  She is what we would want in a dog.  And to top it off, she is the brindle black and tan mix coat that I have always wanted.  So why isn't it the right decision.

Well, for starters, I gave up buying things that we don't need for Lent.  So, maybe Bunnie needs a friend, but is it a necessity?  Not really.  Its really a want.  Plus, we don't NEED another dog.  We don't.

We are also about to seriously start to potty train King Diaper.  I don't believe that anyone in our home wants to potty train a toddler and house break a dog simultaneously.  Craig is saying "whatever you want now."  But, in six months, he will not be happy and it will turn into, "You just had to have that dog!"

And, Bunnie is not alone.  Ever really.  My mom keeps our son at our home.  Then my husband or I come home and we do it all over again.  Then we are home on the weekends.  Or, she goes to the sitter if we are out of town.  She is around people 24/7.  Literally!

Puppies are so cute and fun.  They are easy to fall in love with, but they are also expensive.  They have to be "fixed" and get shots.  Then you have to feed them.  And there is always something that is not planned.  Our not planned with Bunnie last week was $120 and still has to have her shots for this year.

Oh, and we have two outdoor dogs.  So yes, we are kind of the crazy pet people that are about to become possible pet hoarders if we add one more to the mix.

So, even though I could do what I want, and I want that dog - We aren't.  Yes.  I want to do this and we could.  But, it just doesn't add up.

Best friends...kind of...
Will we ever get Bunnie a friend?  Yes.  Probably in another year or so, the time might be right.  King Diaper would be potty trained.  He could enjoy a dog much more.  And eventually, he would be able to help take care of another pet.  And for us, that is the right time.  When we can all participate more fully.

Making the right decisions are not always easy.  But, given a little thought and talking it through, it is.  It just makes more sense to wait.  It is the thing that I like least about being a grown up!  I want to be impulsive and do whatever I want because I can.

Isn't that what being a grown up is?  "I can do whatever I want when I move out...or have a job....or am 21..."  And yeah, its never really like that.  But, I'm not really disappointed.  Because I am doing what I want.  I'm making the decision and deciding what to do.  I have the option to get a dog or not get a dog.

Not all decisions are that easy, but I do think that decision making has really changed in our house.  3 years ago, we would be on our way to get that dog this weekend.  But instead, we are having spring pictures made in a mini session and doing whatever else is going on.

And that is the easiest part of all.  We are choosing to do it this way.  And besides, we might turn into cat and dog people.  King Diaper loves cats.  Choosing to wait will also allow our little boy to factor into the choice when the time right.

The Under-Rated Stay-Cation

Monday, March 23, 2015

Just hanging out with mamma!
17 years ago, my husband and I spent our spring break on our honeymoon.  This year, we spent spring break at home. And it was grand.

Being at home is a luxury for me.  During a normal week, I'm gone quite a bit for work.  Many times, the last thing I want to do when I'm not working is packing to take a trip.

Originally, we had planned a trip to my in-laws.  But, with King Diaper's surgery the week before, we needed to be at home.  It wasn't the week we had planned.  But it turned out to be the best week for all of us.

We had time to just be a family.  We watched tv.  I cooked breakfast and dinners for us to enjoy.  We all took afternoon naps.  There was lots of time to "make something" - build towers with legos and play with play dough.  There was ice cream at night.  Dinners with friends.  I enjoyed working out every day.  We slept until we woke up and went to bed whenever.

The best part was no packing, planning or driving.  Sure, I still like to take a trip.  We all do.  But being at home is truly under rated.

Our brave boy with his favorite tablet!
Sunday night, I decided to go to bed at 8:30 just so I could look at magazines until I fell asleep.  Usually, Sundays are the day that we finish up cleaning our house and getting organized for the week.  But this week, we were just keeping up with the house and enjoying no routine or schedule other than naps and meals.

I don't think that we accomplished one thing or checked off any lists.  We just lived a simple existence and loved every second of it.

Sure.  I'm itching for a weekend in New Orleans or a simple day trip to the zoo.  Those days are fun too.  But it is just so easy to settle into our home and lives.  It is something that we really haven't done in a long time.

After my time off, I went back to work on a Thursday.  My husband will go back to teaching.  And we will return to our lives much more rested and bonded.  I feel like sometimes I'm in such a rush to get the next thing done, pick up the groceries, pay the bills or do the laundry that life is a chore more than a joy.  It is hard to enjoy reading that bed time story to King Diaper when there is so much left to do.  And yet this time is precious.  Its fleeting.

Just a quick selfie before putting him to bed
on our anniversary night
I know that there will be days ahead where we as parents will be in the way of what our son wants to do.  He won't want bed time stories or need me to fix him a snack.  I need to enjoy every day of this.  It won't last forever.  And I will miss those tasks that I take for granted.

I think this year was just what the doctor ordered both literally and figuratively.  People talk about God's timing and planning for our lives and how it is infinitely perfect.  Yes.  I think it is.  We all needed a break from everything except ourselves.

Celebrating 17 Years

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy times after our dinner at home!
This year, we are celebrating 17 years.  Its amazing how fast that time flies and how things change over time.  And it really doesn't seem like 17 years have gone by.  I think that is a good thing.

For the past few years, we have celebrated with a quiet dinner at home.  It is something I enjoy planning and getting ready for, and is something that we both enjoy.  This year, our anniversary dinner included the following menu:

Blue Cheese Crusted Filets
Roasted Banana Fingerling Potatoes with Sea Salt
Fresh Greens Salad
Almond Cake

First, let me start with dessert.  I'm a big fan of sweets, simple and make ahead.  This recipe fit each of these.  Plus, it is a small dessert.  BIG plus.  This is a simple recipe that I learned about from The Splendid Table.  You start with blanched almonds, sugar, salt and almond extract.  After these have been pulsed in a food processor, you add butter and eggs.  Finally, a small amount of flour and baking powder are added at the end.  It is baked in an 8 inch cake pan.  Done.  It is recommended to bake ahead of time.  One less thing to do the day of!  Score, me!
Our fancy dinner:  blue cheese crusted filets, roasted fingerling
potatoes and a simple salad.  Finally our almond cake!

The recipe that I use for the Blue Cheese Crusted Filets is something that I have used multiple times.  It turns out perfect every time and will not disappoint.  My husband and I both love this recipe.  Who wouldn't?  Steak and cheese.  Clearly, this dinner is going to be great!

And finally, no need for fussy sides.  I found some banana fingerlings last week and decided that these would make a nice simple addition to this menu.  Given the blue cheese and steak, roasted potatoes with sea salt won't compete with the other parts of the menu.

To finish it off, an arugala salad with tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette.

The best part about this dinner at home was that we made it real date.  We put down King Diaper and then had dinner.  I pulled out the china and the crystal.  We had some music and a real conversation about something other than bills, planning meals and schedules.

If I could recommend one thing to couples, it would be to plan date nights.  These don't have to all be at home or going out.  But planning that time makes a huge difference.  Before King Diaper, things weren't so scheduled.  We probably went out once or twice a week.  Now, it is much more planned.  But it can still be done.  And we both look forward to it.

Plus, I think it is super important for couples to realize that a date night can be staying home.  And it can be just as good as going out.  Putting in the effort to plan something nice or fun gives us both something to look forward to.

Now for the gifts.  Etsy is a favorite of mine.  I can shop for gifts straight from their app.  The choices are endless, and I've always had good luck.

Craig is not the easiest one to shop for unless I'm picking up yet another Led Zepplin or Rush CD or DVD.  He really doesn't collect anything or ask for anything.

I found this great shop that does wall plaques with old license plates.  You can order them with your last name and wedding date or wedding year.  I picked the last name and year option.  This would make a great wedding gift for a couple in your life as wedding season approaches.  Or - if this happens to be a ten year anniversary coming up, tin is the traditional gift!

And yes, Craig did a great job with a gift too.  I had asked for a necklace from a local jewelry maker. Caroline Taylor makes bar necklaces that can be customized for anyone.  We had one made for my mother that says "Bushel and a Peck" because she loves to sing this song to my sister and I and now to my little boy.  Her mother sang it to her.  Its become something very special to us.

Craig had the bar necklace customized to read "We Became One" on one side and our anniversary date in Roman Numerals on the back.  You can follow her on Instagram to see more of her designs.  Her jewelry is truly special as is she.  And this was the perfect gift that has become a new favorite for me.

So, our 17 year celebration was a success.  And no it isn't about the gifts and the dinner.  Its about celebrating how we have changed and grown together over the years.  And that is a gift in itself.  All the rest of it is just bow on the total package.

Giving Up and Lent

Monday, March 9, 2015

Being a mom is certainly a high priority for me these days!
Every year at Lent I struggle with what to give up.  For most of us it tends to be a food item.  I've given up soft drinks, cheese, sweets, and lots of other standards.  I think cheese was the hardest of all. Probably best for me on the scale.  Given that I was a vegetarian at the time, it made eating at friends and restaurants much more difficult.

But Lent doesn't mean giving up something necessarily.  One can choose to add something to their life during this time.  So, there are lots of options really.  But I've tended to make this way to hard on myself.

Then, on Fat Tuesday, I see a post of Facebook about creative Lenten options.  And I decided to go with option 1.  This year I have given up buying things that I don't need.  And what a broad compass this has.

For starters, shopping is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Since I shop online for almost every thing, this is one thing that has probably given me more time and money.  I don't think that I realized how much time I spent scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds looking at sales and things that are interesting to buy until now.  It really is amazing.

Snow time fun with my guys!
Plus its just really hard.  That lamp that would be perfect for my living room from Joss and Main.  It isn't really a NEED.  It is a want.  I have a lamp that works perfectly.  Its just out dated, and I've over it.  But it works.  This is where I start to wonder why I picked this choice for lent.  Its so not fun!

But what else?  Well, when I'm thinking of that Skinny Vanilla Latte.  Do I REALLY need it?  Maybe if I am pushed over the brink of sanity and haven't had caffeine all day.  But, on most days, the answer truly is no.  And that same thing can be applied to those Cadbury eggs clucking at me every time I go to Walgreens.

And speaking of which, well, my trip to CVS was the shortest trip ever this past week.  I went for medicine and left with that.  No looking at lip gloss and nail polish.  I don't need it.

Yes.  My trip to Target last week might be the first time ever that I didn't look at clothes, shoes or home items.  I bought the birthday gift I came for and other household items of need, and I left.

At first, I was kind of disappointed at saying no to those things.  But, with more time and money, its kind of exhilarating.  And I think that I've learned something that I've never really gotten from Lent. Limiting what we give up to one singular thing many times limits what we take from the experience. The broad more generic approach has made a sweep through my every day life on multiple levels.

It has made me stick to my diet on days that I don't want to.  It has made me get through with a task and be more efficient.  And, I actually have that time and money to show for it on a regular basis.

I don't think that I was spending money with wild abandon before.  But I know that not buying things that I don't need has been a good thing for my waistline, pocketbook and just person.  It has really made me rethink the rest of my year and the effect this kind of living would have.  Because I think I'm making more meaningful choices both with time and money.

I'm certainly not as impulsive about my spending.  Thinking through purchases really requires me to take the time to make wiser decisions about my money.  Every week, I encounter someone that is cleaning out closets and drawers to rid all of the clutter that collects.  Will I ever reach a point with less clutter and stuff in my life?  Who knows.  But, for this 40 days this is the case.  And I'm hoping that after Easter I will have made a much more lasting commitment to this in my life.

Jesus Loves Me at the end of every day

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two has been a hard age for us.  King Diaper is a delight and he wrings out every bit of life from every single day.  While it is wonderful, watching a baby develop into a child isn't always easy. We've spent the last few months experiencing lots of firsts and bursts filled with both laughter and defiance.

I'm still not willing to call this age the "terrible twos".  These are definitely trying days at our home. My husband and I find ourselves pointing out, "He gets that from (whichever one is NOT doing the talking)".  I can assure you that King Diaper has all of his mother's positive traits.  

I'll go ahead and own the fact that I was a strong willed child that defied instruction on many occasions.  Yes, I have found out what happens with a bobby pin in an electrical plug and when one sticks a skate to an electric fence.  I seemed to cover all the bases with electricity.  And while I lived to tell about it all, I don't want him to experience the same trial and error that I did.

Yet, he is climbing onto every surface in our house like a monkey.  He is laughing at my cries to get down as he terrifies me.  He knows no danger or fear.  He has grabbed the age of two by the horns and has wrestled it to the puny ground underneath and is stomping in victory!

As a kindergarten teacher, I would read the story "Love You Forever".  Now, I think about all those little naughty boy scenes from that story and how the momma would rock that baby boy no matter what at the end of the day.  I know that mother all too well.

Bedtime is a big ritual at our house.  It seems to be the hardest part of the day.  Everyone is tired.  I've been traveling much of the time.  My husband is tired from teaching.  Throw in a cranky, strong willed toddler and we all need to be reminded of Jesus.  It is certainly easy to loose your religion in the midst of it all!

After his breathing treatment and books have been read, I turn out the lights for us to sing.  We go through all of the favorites.  "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "The Wheels on the Bus" are always part of the routine.  But before I put him into bed, I always sing "Jesus Loves Me".  It is in those moments that things are still, dark and quiet.

The shrieking screams of a toddler not getting his way fade in the night.  And I'm reminded that Jesus loves us all.  He loves that hard headed, screaming, little monkey pants inside all of us - big and little - Jesus does love us.  And it is enough.

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