Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm so thankful for the start of a new year that will bring more of the freedom I've been longing for.

I'm thankful for my health.

I'm thankful that God is in control and keeps his promises even when my anxiety is too much to bear.

I'm thankful for a husband who is a man above any other I know.

I'm thankful for a little girl who is sweet as pie, smart as a whip, and as sassy as me!

I'm thankful for the future that this year holds for my family, and to God for his ABUNDANT and overflowing blessings.

Happy New Year friends.

May you be blessed in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tips and HInts Tuesday - Don't wait until the new year.

What are your resolutions?

To eat healthier.

Lose weight?

Exercise more?


Don't wait until Saturday. Start now.

I read something last week about reading through the entire Bible in three months. I really thought it was a huge goal but that I'd start on January 1. Instead, I started that day: December 22. 

I'm not almost done wading through #3. I don't have a lot of faith that I WILL do it, but I really want to. I keep trudging and, right now, I'm a day ahead.

So don't wait Start today.

I'm going to try to take the tree down today too...Like I said...Lofty goal!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Money Monday - Car woes.

Well, the day before Christmas Eve, our junker 1999 Ford Escort with 115,000 miles bit the dust for good.

An interesting and eventful death of the car had to be necessary, right?

Matt broke down on a horrible road (think steep hill with a stick shift, sharp bend, no shoulder) as we were taking the car to a transmission guy a few miles away. Only when Matt called the repair place we had just picked it up from did the mechanic tell him it wasn't safe to drive. Thanks a bunch.

While Matt was waiting (less than 15 minutes) for the $60, cash-only tow truck (because people with cars that are a piece of crap always have $60 cash on them) a police car comes,  sirens blaring, to tell my fierce looking husband that if he doesn't move the car it will be impounded.

During the aforementioned 15 minute wait, the police officer made my husband call the tow company a SECOND time to make sure he was coming because I think he REALLY wanted to impound the piece of crap.

I'm running around like a madwoman, getting cash for Matt and trying to get his cell phone out of the car we were borrowing that had it's keys locked in it....Ah yes, a delightful day.

All that to be said, it's going to cost $1000 to fix the car and that's before the inspection due in January that I know it would fail. We decided to donate the car to a good cause.

Luckily, we have an inexpensive car available to us immediately and we will begin aggressively saving for a new one (instead of another Disney vacation) so we're poised and ready to purchase a newer car next time.

It's nice not to be worried about it!

The basement remodeling project is on hold until we can finish our fully funded Emergency Fund complete and money for a car secured...Hopefully around $15,000. What a lofty financial goal. Hopefully that will be complete by July?? Can it be done??? We'll see!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spiritual Sunday - Why can't we just trust?

If you can master faith - you've won.

It is difficult, isn't it?

I'm beginning my journey of reading the Bible - cover to cover -  in 3 months. I was going to start in January - but why wait, right?

Today (which is really last Monday - I wonder where I actually AM today in my journey) I read the first 17 chapters of Genesis. It seems like a lot, but I can read the entire Twilight series in two weeks....which puts my Bible reading to literal shame.

I am ashamed.

So anyway, I'm back to enjoying the stories of The Beginning and have so many things to think about.

Take Abraham. God promised him...audibly promised him...that he would be the father of many, more numerous than the stars in the sky. He came to him in visions and signed a literal contract with fire.

So, did Abraham say, "Awesome God! Whenever you're ready!"?

Nope, he and Sarah didn't believe him. Sarah was having a difficult time getting pregnant. They were both impatient. So they took matters into their own hands. Have you ever done this? (I only do it most days.)

HELLO BUDDY?! Didn't God like, promise you??

Sarah insisted that Abraham sleep with her servant and she would have a son through her...poor Hagar. Sarah literally laughed in God's face, disbelieving his promise of a son to her.

Hagar ends up running away for a while in fear before returning to give birth to Ishmael...who is referred to as a "wild donkey." Ishmael's descendants are STILL causing problems in the world today.

God does keep his promise, exactly as he said he would (in his time of course) and gives Sarah a son from her own womb, Isaac. Isaac loved God and followed him passionately.

Ok, so I think you can figure out where you and I fit in, right? How are we supposed to have faith when Abraham and Sarah failed and they had God screaming in their faces?

I don't think that's the point.

The point is, God keeps his promises.

Along the way, you and I try to take things into our own hands because we get tired of waiting. Maybe we think we heard him wrong; and we cause all sorts of trouble for ourselves.

Stay on the path. God is always true to his Word. If you look back on your life, you can always see that He came through at the perfect time...and he will this time too.

I pray today that the peace of God's promises to you fills your life.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I wish I could bottle up her excitement. I don't want to think about how empty-nesters feel, because THIS is one of the BEST feelings EVER.

My sweet little baby with her favorite gift. The princess and the frog doll!

I wish I could post more from last night, but I LOST MY MEMORY CARD in the chaos. I was devastated. Luckily, it has been found, but it's still at my grandfather's house at the moment.

Happy Birthday Jesus. Thank you for the gift.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday - A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words...

Very random.



Wellness Wednesday - Emergen-C for Kids

It's that time of the year. Everyone is spreading Christmas

I picked up a pack of Emergen-C for kids. It comes with 30 packs in one box for about $8 at Target.

I give a packet in Hannah mixed with water (it's like a fruity fizzy drink) when she is/or is going to be around sick people, or we have a special things going on, like Christmas or vacation.

It has all of the essential vitamins for children PLUS immune boosting antioxidants. So, when using this, you would NOT give your child their multi-vitamin.

It also has immune boosting:
Vitamin C
Beta Carotene
Vitamin E
Zinc and

Plus it has:
Calcium, Vitamin D and Phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth

and Choline which supports healthy brain function and digestion.

It seems to be really doing it's job! I recommend it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Christmas Card Clutter

I never know what to do with all the Christmas Cards we get. I don't LOVE to tape them to a wall or door because it just seems like clutter to they fall down.

A couple years ago someone, as a gift gave us a little photo album in a sweet little cloth Santa Claus pouch with a little handle perfect for hanging on the front door knob.

I have a touch-it-once philosophy when it comes to mail so this is perfect. I open the cards when coming into the house and after enjoying looking at them - I stick them in this cute little pouch. Clutter free!

Then, I can use the fronts of the ones I like best in my scrapbook!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Money Monday - I found money!

I'm very excited!

I thought I had budgeted well for vacation. A chunk of money from November's budget was set aside, and a smaller chunk from December's budget.

Stay with me, this is confusing.

I use Quicken to budget monthly, and adjust a new budget at the beginning of each month.

We went on vacation and I thought I had $1700 set aside. $1000 from November's budget and $700 from December's.

Well, when we got home, my budget read that there was only $700 budgeted (I wasn't realizing that the $1000 from November was just sitting in the account.) We spent $1200 the week we were in Disney so I just adjusted the budget and pouted a little.

Later I couldn't figure out why there was so much more money in the checking than we had left to spend for the month...and then it clicked!

I'm very excited, because this will allow us to reach our year-end goal in our savings account by the end of the year. That doesn't mean our emergency fund is complete, but it's where we wanted to be by the end of the year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spiritual Sunday

Here's today's devotion. It's pretty perfect for how I'm feeling.

I can't really describe how I've been feeling lately - a little bipolar.




Motivated in my head.

Unmotivated in my body.



Lot's of oxymoronic type feelings there!

I'm seriously considering trying to read the bible in 90 days. I was going to start at the new year, but maybe I'll just start now :)

God bless you this week as we remember the greatest birth in history!

Scrumptious Saturday - Meal Idea

Well, it's Sunday and I'm late posting this but well,'s the Christmas season ok?? And, I'm feeling down and lazy. BOO!

Anyhow, here's what's for dinner tonight.

Sauteed shrimp with linguini, spinach and roasted asparagus in a light cream sauce.


I hope it turns out well!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday - Serving Together

I'm so thankful to be able to serve with my family.

I have always wanted Hannah to feel comfortable volunteering in hospitals and nursing homes and this is the first year she's actually been able to participate with us.

Each year we take the student ministry to Presents for Patients. We bring residents without families gifts and spend time with them.

This year was AWESOME. Our kids did amazing. Not only did they spend time with their resident, but they made their way around the whole place spreading Christmas cheer!

Here's my little girl. This woman kept fixing Hannah's hair and Minnie Mouse ears. Hannah made her way around asking people's names and responded to their questions almost inaudibly. She didn't even show fear when one toothless woman told her she was going to take her away from me to come live with her. Ha!

What a sweet, beautiful, compassionate little girl I have. I hope she continues to blossom into the fantastic little lady she is now...even if she is a little feisty.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wellness Wednesday - Holiday Frazzle

What are people most stressed about during the holidays?

Lack of time - 69%
Lack of money 69%
Pressure to give gifts 51%

How do we respond?

Sadness 59%
Lack of sleep - 56%
Lack of energy 55%

So what are some way to avoid becoming a statistic?

1. Have an outlet (something you enjoy)
2. Control your "stressors"
3. Hang out with friends
4. Focus on positive
5. Try to find balance.

Above info received from this website.

I'm probably about 2/3 of the way finished Christmas shopping. I'm just no good at it. I feel like I get bad gifts and I'm way cheaper than everyone else. I hugely stress about it. I stress about money. I stress about  having something to do every second of every day. This is not what the holiday should be.

I spend a lot of time wrapping gifts tonight. I do have to say...I'm loving the way the tree looks with gifts under it, and I'm fairly confident about the gifts I've purchase thus far...I'm excited to give Matt his gift too. I like to buy him things :)

Also: Happy 51st Birthday to my Dad!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Granola Ever & Simple and Delicious Teacher Gift

I made home made granola for Hannah's teachers for Christmas.

I figured it's healthier (somewhat) than cookies and it looks so cute in the little "chinese food" boxes I put them in.

I included the recipe, since it's completely adapted by me and I really do love it!

Here it is for you too!

Granola Cereal
6 cups gluten free quick oats
1 stick butter
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup golden raisins

(the above ingredients are COMPLETELY adaptable and take substitutes well!)

Melt butter with oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add honey and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves  and then stir in cinnamon. Turn off heat and stir in oats. Spread mixture evenly between two ungreased cookie sheets and press down. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes (you really have to adapt this to your oven) or until toasty brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans before breaking up into an airtight container or zip top baggie. Add in raisins and almonds and mix.

Enjoy dry or with milk!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Money Monday - Grocery Savings

Well, I came back from vacation to an empty fridge, freezer and pantry. No fun! It was more fun eating in the way that we capture in the pictures above!

I had to do a HUGE shop, so I stopped at Aldi and Shop n' Save.

Can I just be blunt and say that if you haven't tried out Aldi, you're crazy.

This is what I got there:

  • salmon - individually wrapped/bagged/frozen
  • frozen broccoli florets
  • hot pockets (They're a backup lunch for Matt if he's late)
  • jumbo cooked/frozen shrimp
  • fresh cauliflower
  • pancake syrup
  • 3lb. oats
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • Fresh bunch of asparagus
  • a bag of naval oranges
  • 12 mini whole wheat bagels
  • 4 anjou pears
  • swiss cheese
  • cheddar cheese
  • provolone cheese
  • Egg beaters
  • 2 cans of green beans
  • ground turkey
  • grape tomatoes
  • bananas
  • butter
  • seedless cucumbers
  • red/yellow peppers
  • bagged spinach
  • bagged salad
  • 4 small zucchinis
  • stick of pepperoni
  • golden raisins
  • dried fruit
  • 1lb chopped walnuts
  • a dozen eggs
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter chips
  • Deli ham

Grand total $61.10

Now come on...that's awesome...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spiritual Sunday - Rejoice

1 Chronicles 16:31

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The Lord Reigns."

Wow, what a great week. It's so weird to be back from Disney World in the frigid temperatures of Pittsburgh, looking at the mistakes I made in the budget, emptying spoiled food from the fridge, paying bills, meal planning and wading through hundreds of emails.


I did NOT want to leave vacation! I wanted to stay another week.

But I will rejoice. I am so grateful and thankful to God for BLESSING us with the opportunity to get away on the vacation of a lifetime.  There are so many things I want to tell you all but it must wait until I can upload the fantastic pictures!

God is good. I felt his hand of protection upon my family all week. He filled us with his joy, rest, and peace, and for that I praise him.

To illustrate his protection; a story. I hate flying. I've avoided many trips with various excuses in order to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. But, when we decided to take this trip, I decided I had to give up my fears. I've really been working on trusting God to protect my family and me and this was the perfect opportunity to see if I've progressed at all.

I did pretty well. Hannah, for some reason, was terrified, so having to pretend I was perfectly calm while reading her a book during takeoff was what I needed. I did pause for a deep breath or two. Our flights to Orlando were without incident...but returning to Pittsburgh was a different story.

We had a layover in Atlanta and the weather was a bit rough. Without any warning or consoling from the pilot the plane was violently jerking, swaying, and deeply dipping. At one point I shrieked out loud in fear. It made me even more nervous to see concern in Matt's eyes. A seasoned flyer, he said it was the worst flight he's ever been on. Once making it through the bumpiness, the landing was awful. The wings jerked quickly back and forth and I'm just going to say...I was freaking out.

The flight crew reminded me of Moe, Larry, and Curly, and the pilot never came on to let us know we were going to hit some rough turbulence or to even acknowledge the aggressive ride - something I think should be an obvious courtesy when thousands of feet in the air with a nervous flier such as myself.

Our flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh wasn't as bumpy, but the pilot came on to keep us posted on the conditions to expect, which is much less nerve wracking to me!!

So, for this and many other things over this past week, I rejoice in my God, my Savior for his blessings.

Something funny - Random guy on airplane screaming himself awake throughout the flight. Matt and I were in tears with laughter while Hannah yelled loud enough for the guy to hear "WHAT'S SO FUNNY??"

Love to all! Rejoice today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wellness Wednesday - Change One

The holidays are here and I'm sure most of us are THINKING about our waistline but now isn't really the time to start shrinking it, is it?

A while back I read about a concept in Reader's Digest called Change One. I've not studied it in depth but I believe I follow that principle in more than one area of my life

If you think about an area of your life that's out of control: your house cleaning, laundry, weight, eating habits, budget, family time, work, schedule etc. you can apply this principle.

Change one thing about the way you housekeep. Make your bed every morning for a week before adding another habit OR make sure your sink is clean each night before bed, OR do one load of laundry a day. Do not add another habit until you're comfortable that you've mastered the first habit.

Do you have a hard time keeping track of debit purchases? Just start by having one place that you put your debit receipts, mine is ALWAYS my wallet. Receipts go right in there, OR maybe you need to balance your checkbook. If you do that stuff, maybe you need to create a simple budget. As with housekeeping DO NOT add another financial habit until you've mastered the first one you choose.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to do everything at once and then I quit on day two (or halfway through day one). So if you need to get your health in check, pick one: exercise for 10 minutes every day starting today, OR add a piece of fruit to each meal OR start a multivitamin. Give yourself time before adding anything else.

The whole CHANGE ONE principle is just that, you make small changes that eventually add up to big change. It's not so unnerving that you quit because you can't do it all. It's about setting reasonable goals for yourself and reaching them before you make another small change.

Don't blow your health this holiday season. We're talking about 5 days max - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day. Make smart choices this month and CHANGE ONE!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Helping Kids Learn

My college education focused on Elementary Education. My favorite part of my higher learning was delving into the idea of "multiple intelligences." When I was studying, I believe they were working on an 8th intelligence: naturalist.

Basically this idea focuses on the idea that there are a variety of avenues for an individual to learn at his or her best. Most fall mainly into one intelligence, but may have qualities of another.

Here they are:

Linguistic (word smart)
Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning)
Spatial (visual/pictures)
Bodily-kinesthetic (movement/hands on)
Interpersonal (people oriented, social)
Intrapersonal (self oriented)
Naturalist (nature)

Using a variety of these when teaching kids (and adults for that matter) facilitates an amazing learning environment. It's interesting how excited I am when I think about these ideas, and how depressing it is to reflect on the idea that most teachers LECTURE LECTURE LECTURE. A VERY small number of students retain knowledge at their full potential through lecture.

Ok, sorry for the lesson, but I've been thinking of how I work with Hannah. We're not on a rigid schedule, I've just always "played" with her by encouraging educational games. When she was 11 months old we'd play with foam letters in the bath tub. Now, we're reading books.

If I tell Hannah, sit down and practice reading, she very quickly, without looking up, says NO and braces for an argument. If I ask Hannah if she wants to play school with her stuffed animals and Magna Doodle and she's the teacher, she's IN! In a few minutes, she's reading and writing words (and punishing Winnie the Pooh when he misbehaves).

1. We make up songs/rhymes/rhythms when learning thing like address and phone number (musical)
2. We go outside and collect rocks/leaves and do art with them (naturalistic)
3. We learn rhymes while jumping on the trampoline (bodily kinesthetic, linguistic)
4. Playing school and making Hannah the teacher (interpersonal, bodily kinesthetic)
5. She uses her tag system and educational leap pad, v smile and DS games (spatial and bodily kinesthetic)
6. We read books and do LOTS of flash cards and puzzles (spatial, bodily kinesthetic, linguistic)
7. We're working on tying shoes (bodily kinesthetic)
8. Hannah is not an intrapersonal learner. She does NOT like to do things alone, but that doesn't mean we don't encourage her to daily play by herself and complete tasks on her own.

If you're in a rut and trying to teach your child to grasp a new concept, try this approach. It's WAY more fun than the "do your homework" technique. I promise.

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