Friday, December 31, 2010

Family Friday



Wow, it's the last day of 2010. How much my life has changed this year.

I can honestly say that this year has brought me the most intense ups and downs.

Maybe it's the postpartum emotional state I'm in anyway, but I get emotional just thinking about it.

At the beginning of the year I had a miscarriage. It was something that was too painful for me to talk about for months. After waiting so long for another baby, it just seemed unfair, but I was secure in knowing that God had a plan and knew what he was doing. It just hurt so bad. I still think about that little baby and it's hard for me to say that I only have two children when anyone asks - because in my heart, I have three.

A month after our sad loss, we found out we were pregnant again. We were overjoyed but kept quiet for a while out of fear.

In June we moved back into the house I grew up in. How stressful! But, I love the house and it's perfect for our family. I love having a finished game room, two bathrooms, and a cul-de-sac for the girls to play on. Our street is so much quieter. I do miss my old neighbors, but the new ones are pretty cool too!

Hannah started Kindergarten in the fall. Academically, she does fantastic. I was not, however, prepared for the emotional struggle she would have leaving me every morning. We'd both end up in tears and the after school exhaustion only made things more difficult. We finally got into a pattern and routine and things settled down. Moving, starting full-day Kindergarten and having a baby sister on the way is a lot for a five year old - especially when moms lap, though still welcoming, is shrinking! While excited about all of this, she also had a lot of anxiety and fear. I guess this is just part of the journey of parenting and growing up.

Then, during the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy, the doctors informed me that little Emma Grace wasn't growing like she should. This began the 10 weeks of constant worrying, monitoring, testing, and specialist visits to check on her. I'm grateful for the doctors and their precaution. That's important to me. They wanted to induce a week before my due date. We packed up and got ourselves ready only to be sent home after the induction failed. I'm glad they didn't force the induction, but boy was I disappointed to come home with Emma still in my belly. A week later, November 29, 2010 at 12:58pm, little Emma Grace made her entrance into the world. She was a peanut at 5lb 14oz and 18 inches long, but she was perfectly healthy and beautiful. There's nothing like the pure bliss of holding your baby in your arms for the first time.

I feel like things are going pretty smoothly and I'm thankful that, through all of this, my eyes have stayed healthy. I pray they stay that way! I'm anxious about germs and sickness because of the season and the holidays - and at 4 weeks, Emma has already had a cold. I thank God she hasn't had a fever or breathing issues. As I sit here looking at a full year gone by, my family recovering from the excitement of celebrating our Savior's birth and from colds (Matt's just getting hit with it now,) I'm grateful to God for saving my life and for blessing me with a family that I couldn't have thought up in my wildest of dreams. I have a husband who is unlike any other and two gorgeous and amazing little girls. I pray that they grow up serving and loving the God who has blessed our family in so many ways.

I pray that the beauty of this year carries over in the many to come. I pray that our family and yours is blessed with health and joy and peace. I pray that I can serve God with all that's in me, do everything as if I'm doing it for him and cast my cares and concerns onto Him fully, trusting that He's going to take care of things.

My family has been through so many transitions this year, but as I sit on the floor in Hannah's room, listening to Matt read her stories and look at Emma sleeping next to me (serenading me with some serious GAS) - I am at peace and filled with a contentment that brings me so much joy.

Thank you for the part that YOU have played in our lives this year. We have been so blessed by the love of family and friends on this journey and we love each and every one of you who has touched us in one way or another.

I leave you with a verse that gets me through life.

Philippians 4:4-9

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday - Low Fat Granola - Melissa's Way

Ingredients

8 cups Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats (you can use Old Fashioned)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup agave nectar (or any sweetener you prefer )
1/2 cup unsweetened all-natural applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sliced almonds/walnuts
1 cup raisins

I have been messing with a low-fat granola recipe that satisfies the craving that I have for the full-fat version I've been making for a couple years. It's been a difficult transition for me - because I really love the full-fat version. To Hannah - she prefers the ZERO-fat version. Weird. So, I think I've got it. I still include a little bit of oil and probably a little more sugar than I should have but - the agave doesn't spike your blood sugar, and the honey has antioxidants.

Here's what I did.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take a two cup measuring cup and add the oil, honey, agave, and applesauce. You'll only dirty one measuring cup for this step :)

Dump the mixture into a large sauce pan and heat until it starts to bubble. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat and add oats and nuts. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread evenly between two baking sheets with sides. I prefer to line with parchment.

Bake for about 35 minutes, stirring every ten.

Remove from the oven when granola looks crisp. Let cool. Add raisins or other dried fruit - and eat.

*You can substitute all honey if you don't have agave, add coconut if you like it, and change up the nuts or dried fruit.*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Family Friday - Does Guilt Come with Parenting?

I'm feeling so guilty.

Hannah got an invitation to a birthday party. It's for a little girl in her school that I know she plays with and interacts with a good bit. We just got the invite on Monday in the mail and the party is tomorrow. I didn't even tell her about it. Matt said he would take her to the party, but I just asked him to call and tell them we couldn't make it.

I feel awful.

First of all - the party is at Chuck E. Cheese. Despite the fact that I'm a germ-a-phobe, you have to at least agree with me that, that is one germ infested place. I know she comes in contact with this stuff every day at school, I just really don't want to risk her getting sick with all that's going around, all that she's been through physically and emotionally, and the possibility that she might be sick when the baby comes (which could happen anyway.)

Second of all - We are constantly moving. With all of the stress of this pregnancy and how she's been managing school (which is finally settling down) I just hate to add ANOTHER thing to her schedule. Last weekend was an overload of events and I just feel like we need some downtime as a family - and she needs time to relax and recoup from the week.

Lastly, HOLY COW! MONEY. It's not a big deal to buy a gift for a kid, but come on. There's always something. I'm trying to finish Christmas shopping before Emma comes, we have to get a roof leak fixed, and our car is getting inspected today...Our 10 year old car. There's always some kind of birthday party or event to buy something for. Sometimes you just have to say no!

This post should have been encouraging YOU about how guilt is a natural emotion as a parent and we just need to learn to keep it in check, but I'm just feeling guilty about not telling her about it. I know she would have had a blast going to this party.

Am I just being selfish??

Maybe we'll do something else fun tomorrow or something.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Sigh....

I know a lot of you have been wondering what's going on, and I've been pretty much MIA since my appointment today.

I was at the doctor's from 9:15am to 1pm. It's really enough to drive one insane. I'll spare you the annoying details and get to the specifics.


Emma fell below the 10th percentile and didn't gain much weight since the last ultrasound.

I'M THANKFUL THAT she is in no distress and, other than lack of weight gain, looks fine. (She's hairy like the rest of us too!)

I'm not dilated or they'd induce me now. So, I'll be seen two times a week to be checked to see if I'm dilated at all and to do a non stress test on the baby. If I start to dilate at any time, they'll induce. If Emma doesn't look good at any time, they'll induce. (They don't want to do so beforehand because of a high risk for a C Section.)

If I never dilate, I will be induced no later than Wednesday, November 24 (the day before Thanksgiving.) Who's bringing me turkey in the hospital???

Please pray that my body prepares itself so that it's ready for labor, and that Emma is completely healthy AND FAT. They believe she's just physiologically small at this point.

I'm frustrated and worried. I just want her to be healthy and I don't want to have a C Section. I just don't understand why she's so small and not growing well. I feel myself detaching from her a little bit emotionally because I can tell anxiety will take over if I don't.

I'll let you know what happens Monday. I'm hoping I'm dilated!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wellness Wednesday - Nesting

I'm 37 weeks! Full Term! CELEBRATE!

I have a doctor appointment tomorrow along with an ultrasound and a non stress test. If the baby hasn't grown enough, and falls below the 10th percentile, there's a chance they might induce this weekend. So, I'm spending today making lists and finishing up my bag packing.

I feel bad saying that part of me WANTS them to take her out tomorrow. I'm getting uncomfortable and cranky. One friend looked at me yesterday and exclaimed with much zeal that I have dropped. I told her not to tease me! I'm having a lot of pain...pretty much everywhere. Lots of contractions...and some delightful mood swings. I know it's par for the course, and ultimately I want Emma to stay in my belly as long as she can, but can you blame a girl for wanting to wear pants with a zipper??

Another important thing I'm doing today. Vacuuming the blinds and the baseboards...Weird. It's been bugging me - and I love to vacuum.

I need to fold clothes now and get some more things done.

I'll do my best to keep you posted if it's time to have the baby this weekend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Stop your cookies from burning

I have a couple of old, dark cookie sheets that I now only use for roasting vegetables. They burn my cookies and anything delicate that I put in them.

I have the lighter colored air-bake cookie sheets and I love them, but I've run into a problem.

When I make granola that needs stirred (my low-fat recipe will finally be posted on Saturday) those pans don't work, because they don't have sides. But, when I try to use my dark cookie sheets, the granola turns to BLACK in about 5 minutes.

Not ready to buy more cookie sheets, I simply used a piece of parchment paper to line the dark pan and my granola came out perfectly.

I was surprised at the expensive cost of parchment paper, but for as long as it lasts, it's worth it. Plus, it's way cheaper than buying new cookie sheets for one recipe!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Money Monday - Cars

Well, I feel like we've learned some lessons the hard way.

We've been duped by mechanics and it's getting old. Last month we paid $400 to "guarantee a fix" to our car and got completely cheated. We had the car back to the mechanic 3 times and each time, it was worse than the last.

When we took there, the engine lagged a bit when you first started the car. After they "fixed" it, it stalled every time you started it.

We got about $75 back and learned that location may be convenient, but reliability and honesty is better.

Our car is due for inspection and we're going to drive a little further for the honesty we know we'll get from someone else. I don't mind paying a little more if my car is going to be fixed! Just don't lie to me.

Matt has been putting a $3 bottle of "Gum Out" in the gas tank at every other fill up. Now, not only is the car not stalling, it's not lagging at all either...Pretty sad that our $9 fix cost us over $325 and 3 days without our car.

It's just difficult when you don't know about cars enough to argue with a mechanic. Oh well - lesson learned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday - AHHHH my sweet bed has found me.

35 weeks today.

Well, Thursdays are my doctor day and just like the last 2 - I was there ALL DAY (9:30am-2pm) with this one. This child is going to send me to the nut house. 

When I got to the doctor they put me right on the monitors for my non stress test (NST). I was armed with Kool-Aid and a Poptart to get that little sucker moving so I didn't have to go over to the hospital again.

For twenty minutes that kid didn't move AT ALL. Turd. Her heart rate was steady but barely even moved - which isn't good. The nurse took the printout to the doctor who came in and said, "You're having an ultrasound." But, from the time the nurse left until the doctor came in, little Emma was going NUTS. I told him she was moving again and he looked and said she looked good now. Whew.

So,  I go back for my appointment. He measures my belly. STILL NO GROWTH!! I'm still 30 stinking centimeters (should be 35). My belly hasn't grown in 4 weeks and I had no weight gain from my last appointment (even though my scale at home said 2lb.)

I can tell he's going back and for in his head between: 

1. The baby is just small because I'm small.
2. What if something else is wrong?

He says - "Get dressed, I'm sending you to Allegheny General for a special ultrasound." He then walks out of the room leaving the door OPEN. That was interesting.

Finally a nurse came in and said that I was to go down to AGH to see a perinatologist who specializes in these sort of things to get a higher level ultrasound. We would see what she said and then, "discuss delivery options."

Enter lump in throat.

I call Matt and tell him he should probably come home because who knew if they were going to send me right to be induced if the ultrasound showed Emma in distress.

The appointment there was extremely fast. Baby looks good...She's SMALL. She's gained some weight since last week and stands (or swims) at about 4lb 13oz and in the 12th percentile. It looks like my placenta is functioning well, the cord is functioning well, and her heart beat, movement and fluid are all great. GREAT.

Concern: Her belly is what's measuring small. This can indicate lack of nutrients. So, they'll keep doing what they're doing. If she doesn't stay on HER growth curve (meaning a half pound of weight gain a week) she's coming out. Even if I do make it to 39/40 weeks the perinatologist wants to get her out. We want to leave the baby in as long as possible, but not too long. We have to weigh what's safer for Emma and if I'm full term - she might as well come out to be monitored.

So, I'm pretty calm about the whole thing. Matt never even made it down to AGH, but it was nice to have him here when I got home. He set up my pillows and my computer in our bedroom so I could lay here while he went to get Hannah from school. He's a good husband.

Lastly, Emma looks just like Hannah on the ultrasound. Big old lips and same button nose. It's so calming to see that precious face on there and know my beautiful second little girl is doing okay. She just likes to give people a run for their money. I guess I'm okay with that.

I'll post her ultrasound picture later. I think Matt took it with him to show Hannah. Thanks for all your prayers and concern.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Family Friday - Updates

These are two front pictures of just Emma's face. The top of her head is to the left. Her big Terebessy lips are to the right. We couldn't get a good 4D shot because her arms blocked her face completely.


Well I went in for my 34 week appointment and ultrasound yesterday.

Little Emma is...well, little.

In three weeks she has only gained about a half a pound. I was so hoping for a pound and a half.

She's about 4lb. She fell from the 37th percentile to the 18th percentile. This is concerning.

Good news? Everything else is good: Her heart rate, her movement, fluid levels, placenta - all look very good. This hopefully indicates that Emma is just a small baby.

The decided to do a non stress test (NST) at the office to monitor the baby's heart rate and fetal movement. Emma kept moving away from the heart monitor causing them not to get a good reading so I had to go over to the hospital AGAIN. I was there from 10:30am - 4pm. She looked good other than one heart rate dip to about 70. They think she might have just stepped on her cord briefly.

Here's the plan:

I will have appointments weekly with NSTs each time. As long as those are consistently good, at 37 weeks (3 weeks from now) I will have another ultrasound at which time they will determine whether Emma is safer inside my belly or outside. I may be induced then.

How do I feel? I was really hoping she was going to bigger than she is, but my ultimate hope was that they'd let me keep her inside for a couple more weeks, and I got that so I'm leaving it in God's hands. I am, however, extremely annoyed because my husband has forbidden me to exercise even though all the doctors said I still can. I'm completely miserable about it and I don't want any comments from the rest of you about how you agree with him - because I just don't wanna hear it! :)

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As for our firstborn, she's doing well right now. Her persistent vomiting is currently on hiatus. I'm extremely disappointed in our pediatrician as I feel like she went way overboard with her suggestions as to what it could be and was trying to scare me. She spoke way to bluntly in front of Hannah saying she could die from a twisted bowel.  After taking Hannah to the nutritionist, they found that she has a parasite and gave me a calming spray to help with her anxiety.

If, after a month, Hannah does not show improvement, we will move forward with the doctor's suggestions for an upper GI and blood work. At this point, to me, that just seems like overkill.

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I am looking forward to spending time with my family at Open Mic night tonight and at Zoo Boo tomorrow. There's lots of fun fall stuff going on and I'm loving the crisp cool weather.

Lots of love to those of you who care about all this stuff :) Thank you for your encouragement and prayers and stories of success. It is so helpful to know that I'm loved.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wellness Wednesday - Hitting home

Oh this is so hard for me to write about. I don't like to write about my "emotions." I can show my emotions and I can give factual information - but when it comes to admitting weakness...ick.

There are two issues at hand here and one maybe causing the other.

You all know we've been worried about the baby's size. I have an ultrasound tomorrow morning at 10:30am and would appreciate your prayers for lots of growth and a healthy looking Emma. As of my last measurements, the size of my stomach hasn't grown in 3 weeks. Hopefully that doesn't mean the baby hasn't grown.

My nutritionist heard of what was going on and called me. She is one of the most amazing people I've met. People wonder why I'm so obsessed with Health Horizons in Oakmont...It's because they care about PEOPLE, not MONEY.

Anyhow, apparently she had the same thing happen with her fourth pregnancy. Her midwife told her to rest. Well, she had three kids at home and it was the middle of summer. There was no chance of her taking a two hour nap in the middle of the day. So she told me she began resting as soon as she put her kids to bed at night, every night and from then on, the baby began growing well again.

I know I'm over-doing it. I can't help myself. I just can't stop doing things. No one is telling me I have to stop exercising, but that I need to rest. There is something in me that's overtaking common sense.

These are the things I think about constantly every day:

How much weight am I gaining? (I'm eating plenty and gaining normally)
The house needs to be clean and organized.
I need to have food prepared for after the baby is here.
I need to get my work done.
I need to get the budget updated.
I need to get my scrapbook caught up before Emma gets here.

These are the things I focus on after I get Hannah to school and before I pick her up. When she's home - we have a whole routine that I'm focused on. I don't sit.

Anyhow Dr. Palombini told me I'm probably running off adrenaline and that I just need to find time to relax in the middle of the day. I told her that when I sit down in the middle of the day - I fall asleep for two hours - and that just confirms what she's saying.

Here's the part that's hard to share. After two afternoons spent in Labor & Delivery for dehydration and contractions on top of all this growth stuff, I told Matt that part of me just wishes they'd put me on bed rest. It would free me from the overwhelming pressure to constantly be getting things done. Do I really want to be on bed rest? Of course not. I guess I just wanted permission from a doctor to stop.

Pregnant people who act like invalids drive me crazy. I don't want to be physically limited because I'm pregnant. Maybe that's flawed thinking. Too far one-sided. Too extreme. Obviously it is, because I've reached my max. And today, I was given permission to stop. Now granted - I do this to myself. My husband, family and friends have been giving that permission (and telling me I'm nuts) for months. I just needed to hear it from a doctor.

This won't be easy for me. I'm not going to stop exercising and I'm not going to stop my cleaning routines. But I am going to make time to lay down and relax in the afternoons. I have to.

In the evenings, I'll let Matt take over a little more. He already takes over with Hannah once he gets here, but I always feel like I have to have her bathed and in her jammies when he gets home. He's more than able and willing to do that stuff for me.

So there you go. I'm not superwoman. I'm a weakling who has just aired her flaws in cyberspace.

(Wanna know what I'm thinking? I hope I have time to rest AND make a double batch of that mexican casserole tomorrow.)

:)


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wellness Wednesday - Is this pregnancy over yet?

I went to the doctor's for a routine check up this morning.

Last night I had two dreams -

1. They told me something wasn't right with the baby.
2. I got stuck in an elevator (I hate elevators!)

Hence the start of my day...

I drop Hannah off at school. I haven't been feeling well, and while waiting for my appointment I had 8 contractions.

After running ANOTHER test for preterm labor - he says the baby is still small and that he wants me to go over to Labor and Delivery at the hospital to be monitored while we wait for the results of the tests.

My measurements were the same as 2 weeks ago - but he said that doesn't necessarily mean it's accurate since two different doctors were measuring me.

I was 30cm - and I should have been 33cm.

So I go over to the hospital - and see the same nurses who tortured me with needles last time.

All the while I'm thinking - I have so much to do today - and no one is giving me ANY explanation as to WHY the baby is small.

Finally - we determine that I will NOT go into preterm labor based on the test results. I am mildly dehydrated AGAIN, and that I need to start going in for weekly ultrasounds. The problem would be (if she's not just a small tyke) that the placenta is not giving my little one enough nutrients to grow for whatever reason. If at anytime, Emma hasn't grown since the previous week's measurements - they're taking her out immediately...Um....yikes.

The doctor on call at the hospital said that Emma's size according to my LAST ultrasound was small but not excessively small.

So I left the hospital and I'm continuing on with life. On my way out, I asked the nurses where the STAIRS were!

Please pray this little girl keeps growing strong.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday - Italian Herb Bread


Nicki at Domestic Cents has THE GREATEST bread recipes. I highly recommend you head over there to check out more than just this one I got from her listed below. She has a great blog too!
This bread is absolutely amazing I can't stop eating it! I'm going to try to make shredded Italian Roast beef and make sandwich buns from this dough...YUMMY!
Italian Herb Bread
(adapted from allrecipes)

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. (or 2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal

Directions:
  • Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes until it appears slightly foamy and creates small bubbles (this is proofing).
  • Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat it until it’s smooth. Then let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Beat in the salt and herbs. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until it forms a firm dough.
  • Knead until it is smooth and springy. This is going to take about 8 minutes or so if you knead it by hand. It needs to be very smooth in order to have a fantastic consistency.
  • Place it in a greased bowl and turn it over so that the dough is greased all over (you don’t want it sticking to the bowl). Cover dough with a cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for one hour.
  • Punch it down gently and divide into 3 balls. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets (be sure you pick two that will fit in your oven at the same time) then sprinkle lightly with cornmeal (cornmeal is optional, but I like it). Form dough into either long or round loaves on the cookie sheets. Use a very sharp knife a cut a few slits in the top of the loaves. Cover and let rise about 30 more minutes.
  • Bake in a 450F degree oven for about 20 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped.








    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Wellness Wednesday - A Day in the Hospital

    Ah well - I suppose I was due.

    Saturday morning, I just wasn't feeling right. I was feeling a lot of pressure among other things that just left me uncomfortable. I called the on-call doctor at the hospital who said I was probably fine, but to come in anyway.

    I went in through the ER but was quickly whisked up to Labor and Delivery when they could see I was having trouble standing.

    Can I just say - that from this point on - I have never had a more torturous experience??!! I've always been satisfied with Forbes Hospital. They delivered Hannah and took out my appendix. Neither procedure was easy on my body - but I was fine.

    THIS VISIT WAS TORTURE!

    I am NOT a fan of residents. I know they have to do what they have to do - but please don't practice on me! One procedure left me with two bite marks in my arm because it was so painful. I don't like to think of myself as a wimp, or someone with low pain tolerance - but this was just awful.

    After registering 4 contractions at 5 minutes apart and confirming that I was dehydrated - the nurses insisted on IV fluids. This was so frustrating! For the last 2 or 3 days I had be MEASURING my water to make sure I was drinking AT LEAST 8 glasses a day!

    Well, the first nurse tried twice to start the IV line with no success. Blood everywhere. 4 MORE PEOPLE TRIED. JAMMING WRIGGLING AND GIVING ME THE PLAY-by-PLAY about how they were hitting valves and such. I wanted to puke. Finally they had to call anesthesia in to run the stupid line.

    I'm scarred.

    Once the contractions slowed and the IV was in - they let me go home waiting to confirm test results that preliminarily indicate that I also have an infection as well. Emma was fine the whole time - spunkily moving herself off the monitor constantly.

    I came home  very depressed, feeling tortured and bummed at a beautiful Saturday with my family wasted - and even more irritated that our Red Box movie was going to be a day late. Blah.

    Glad baby is healthy and staying put for now - but I am subsequently now nervous about labor and delivery - which I was not before!

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Tips and Hints Tuesday - Just Do It!

    How many times do you sit around and say to yourself...

    I have to remember to do __________.

    I can't forget to pay the ____________bill.

    I can never remember to _______________.

    Instead of writing yourself notes, making to-do lists, or simply TRYING to remember, when you think of that "thing," get up and DO IT! Right now.

    You might be tired, you might be in the middle of something, but just go get it done. It makes such a huge difference especially when it's something you can do very quickly. If you do things right away - you won't forget to do it and your mind will be so much less bogged down.

    So...JUST DO IT!

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Money Monday - When you get discouraged.

    Money is overwhelming, frustrating and discouraging at times.

    When, on your journey to financial freedom, you're feeling like you're never going to "arrive" and maybe even like quitting - let me remind you of a few things.

    Every step forward is one closer to your goal. BABY STEPS.

    The freedom that comes with a lack of debt is worth a difficult journey to get there.

    It's always easier to get yourself INTO a mess than it is to get OUT.

    Work hard now, be rich later! Be stupid now, PAY PAY PAY FOREVER!

    Focus on mini goals instead of the end goal.

    Look how far you've come, not how far you have to go.

    You can do this!!!!!!!

    It's great being debt free and all. I know we're doing pretty well building our emergency fund and saving to pay cash for cars, but I'm sick of paying for car repairs and inching our way to our goals. I want to buy maternity clothes, stuff for the nursery, artwork for my house and furniture for my bedroom. The attic floor needs put in and the siding is STILL damaged from the snow in February. I'm feeling discouraged because there's just not enough money to all of this stuff right now AND buy a new car. Within the next year we need to come up with at least $9,000 and that just seems like a huge goal with a new baby on the way in 9 weeks! So, as you can see, I need some encouragement myself.

    Does the discouragement make it worth it to me to go out and finance a car?

    Nope.

    That answer will always be the same.

    So, that said, we might as well suck it up, look how far we've come, and keep plugging away!

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Spiritual Sunday - No Quitting!

    It's amazing to me, as I read Nehemiah, how nothing stopped him. He went into Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. The government officials were not happy in the least with him. He had been told he had no authority to come in and do what he was doing. But his response was always - "God is with me." and "The God of Heaven will help us succeed." (Nehemiah 2:20)

    It's so interesting how quickly we quit, forget about God, or assume he's abandoned us. Look what Nehemiah faced - ultimately death, but he knew God was with him, so he plugged away. Was he afraid? I'm sure. But, when you have the God of the universe on your side and you BELIEVE it, I suppose you make it through.

    Today's encouragement: No quitting!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Scrumptious Saturday

    Some of you have been asking for the pizza dough recipe that I've been using. It's quick and easy and I've adapted it to make my own "hot pockets" for the freezer for lunches.

    This is the straight up pizza dough recipe. Please note that I use half white and half wheat flour.

    If I am making pockets - I make the dough and then keep cutting the dough in half until I have around 30 little golf ball sized balls.

    I roll them in my hands and flatten them out on the table with my rolling pin. I put 1 teaspoon of filling in the dough. If you put more in, you will be sorry! It overflows and doesn't seal properly.

    Then I fold the dough over, pinch it shut and use the back of a fork to seal the edges.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

    FILLING:
    Whatever you want!

    Pick a meat, a veggie and a binder - with seasonings to your liking.

    I've done:

    roasting chicken, broccoli and a light cheese/light ranch dressing mixture to bind
    pepperoni, spinach, sauce and mozzarella
    turkey, broccoli and cheddar/light sour cream to bind

    The options for fillings are endless. Just prepare and have slightly cooled before you roll out your dough.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Family Friday - Stuff to do this Weekend.

    FREE American Girl Doll Event at Michael's Craft stores from 10am to 2pm.  Check your local store to see if they are participating.

    Locally - Harvest Festival - Saturday, September 25 11am-5pm
    Carpenter Log House (Pierson Run Rd - Boyce Park - Plum)

    Entertainments
    Crafters
    Re-enactors
    Scarecrow Making
    Chidren's Games
    Food

    Thankful Thursday

    I haven't posted in a week or so. Things have just been pretty busy I guess - but I am very thankful this week for many things....

    Hannah is FINALLY starting to adjust to Kindergarten! For the most part, this week she's been back to her old self with the exception of yesterday. She was asleep by 7pm! I think we're going to need to figure out some sort of adjustment regarding Wednesday night church - because she's losing over 2 hours of sleep that night. The options are - she doesn't go OR I go down to Nexus to set up earlier in the day and give her a nap after school. We'll try both and see what happens.

    I'm in the 10 week countdown! I've always told pregnant people - wait until you get to the 10 week countdown - it goes fast (until the last 2 weeks that is!!) Woo hoo!

    I'm thankful I'm back into reading my Bible. I'm still on my journey from reading the Bible from start to finish and this morning I made it to Esther!

    I'm thankful God still loves me when I'm stupid...because I just realized it's not Thursday - It's Friday.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Tips and Hints Tuesday - Racing mind keep you up at night?

    If you're like me, the second I lay down to go to sleep, my mind starts racing.

    I need to remember this at the grocery store....
    Hannah's library book needs turned in on Friday...
    I have to take something out of the freezer in the morning for dinner...

    Sound familiar?

    Keep a post-it note pad and a pen beside your bed. When your mind starts racing, jot down what you need to remember and leave it for the morning. This has helped me to relax on many occasions! Happy rest time!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Money Monday - Little Budget Busters

    For this Monday - I want to look at some things that nickel and dime your budget away, leaving you asking, "Where did it all go?" at the end of the month. Here are a few that come to mind this morning.


    Purchasing coffee out each morning - I know a lot of people like their morning cup of coffee from [insert favorite cafe here], but you spend so much more money than you would if you made your coffee at home! If you're a Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts fan - even consider purchasing their brand to make in your own coffee pot!

    MONEY MATTERS: Here's what coffee's costing you and how much you can save by dripping your own. Data received from Financial Edge.



    Leaving Lights On - We're having such a hard time with this since we've moved. There are light switches and lamps everywhere. There are no overhead lights, so we need to make a conscious effort to shut off the lamps. There are always lights on! Pay attention to how much light you need and switch them off when you leave the room! Consider purchasing the lower wattage fluorescent lights.

    MONEY MATTERS: You can save 10%-20% on your energy costs simply but turning off lights.

    Not planning ahead (errands/trips/purchases) - If you plan ahead, you can save a ton of money on plane tickets, clothing, gifts, and gas. By knowing at the beginning of the money/day/year what you need to be prepared for - you can plan by looking for sales, deals and coupons.

    Something as simple as running your daily errands can cost you more money than necessary. If you know what needs done in a day - plan your route so that you're not backtracking or forgetting what needs done - so you have to make extra trips. Try to do all your errands in one day (even if you're tired and don't feel like it!) You'll be glad it's done and your car will use MUCH less gas!

    Letting the water run while brushing your teeth You can save up to 8 GALLONS of water a day by shutting of the water when brushing your teeth! 


    Skipping the meal planning/shopping list/coupons Now - I've been lazy more recently, but if you don't plan for your meals,  you spend A LOT more money. 


    MONEY MATTERS: By scanning sale ads, meal planning, digging for coupons and checking my cupboards so I don't make double purchases - I'd say I save at lease $80 a month. Now when we were hard core and paying off all our debt, our grocery budget was $150-$200 per month for the 3 of us and less than $40 a month was spent on eating out. I don't go THAT crazy now, but our grocery budget (including toiletries, paper products and cleaning supplies) is at about $300 a month which still isn't bad. 


    Buying school lunches  At $2 a day that's $40 a month per child for your kid to eat CRAP - but that's another story. Making your own lunches can be very quick if you plan ahead with freezer cooking, much healthier and definitely cheaper!


    Interest and Fees
    Overdraft fees, parking tickets, interest payments, and NSF fees are all a result of poor planning. Budget, know what's in your checking account and work hard to have an emergency fund for unexpected expenses to avoid these fees.

    MONEY MATTERS: According to a study produced by Dartmouth College it is reported that the "average cost of annual fees for a share draft account at a bank was $183.14. Of those fees three-fourths of them came from NSF/Overdraft fees."

    So in the end, walk away with this. The little things do matter. They can add up to a lot of cash that leaves  you wondering why there is so much month left at the end of the money. Small changes add up to big ones that may just help you get started on your road to financial freedom.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Spiritual Sunday - It's pretty simple.

    I'm still reading through the Bible and working my way through 2 Chronicles. I'm almost on to Ezra!

    I know it's the Old Testament and things have changed under the New Testament, but sometimes I'm just fascinated by the stupidity of some of the ancestors of David who reigned as kings during this time - and how it's applicable to today. Maybe hindsight is 20/20, but come on.

    It's totally clear that when these guys followed God and tried to please Him, He blessed them....and when they didn't...he didn't. It's this total back and forth game they play where success abounds when these people align themselves with God, and destruction ensues when they try to do their own thing.

    Uh...sound familiar?

    This is totally how we live our lives today! It's not that our lives are perfect when we follow Jesus - but the puzzle pieces certainly fit together much better!

    I leave you with this:

    Proverbs 8:32 And so my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Family Friday - Discipline - For Myself?

    It's been a difficult two weeks. I never anticipated the struggle that we would have with Hannah starting Kindergarten. She's always been an independent and well-behaved kid and I was sure she'd move into the change seamlessly. Although, things weren't as bad as they could have been, I simply wasn't prepared.

    The transition into Kindergarten has meant adapting to very long days, earlier bedtimes, and frustrations and anxieties surrounding both of those things. Simply put - she was tired and she missed her parents.

    I put funny notes in her lunch box and a picture of the family in her folder - but still I was noticing a pattern. Every morning, Hannah would throw a tantrum about something - a two-year-old tantrum. It instantly sent me into anger-mode. I just don't tolerate her fits over her shoes, or the back of her shirt feeling "weird" when she sits in her car seat. Everything was a battle. Then I'd yell at her and she would cry and the morning would be a disaster. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SWEET LITTLE GIRL??!!??!?

    Then came homework time. We just...clash. I'm guessing it's because we're so much alike. Matt told me to let him manage homework time, but I refuse to dump it in his lap because I can't get control of my relationship and communication with my daughter. I went to school to become a teacher for goodness sake!

    After days of fighting over scissors techniques - I feel like I'm starting to make progress.

    Notice I said "I" and not "she."

    I believe that there are times when we, as parents need to discipline ourselves. This has been extremely difficult for me - and all I can say is that I'm making progress.

    In the mornings, I've come to ANTICIPATE Hannah picking a fight about SOMETHING right before it's time to leave for school. Instead of getting angry - I remind myself that this is coming from anxiety. I purposely change the tone of my voice to a kind one and give her a hug. It's amazing how much smoother the morning goes when I'm prepared for her attitude. It's quickly dissipated and things are fine.

    During homework time (which is right after school) I have learned to WALK AWAY unless she needs my help. She doesn't do well when I hover. When she becomes angry - I CONSCIOUSLY LOWER MY VOICE and ask her if she's frustrated and if I can help. Then I'll check her work at the end. 


    Asking "ARE YOU FEELING FRUSTRATED?" seems to immediately validate her feelings and relax her.

    Lastly, I HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF to COMPLIMENT GOOD WORK AND BEHAVIOR. I think I've heard that for every criticism, there should be 7 praises. I need to do better with that.


    After a day or two, I feel like we're finally making progress and our days aren't ending with both of us in tears!


    So - it's a little twist today. Think about disciplining YOURSELF to get better behavior from your kids. Sometimes I think we can encourage bad behavior by how we respond!

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Thankful Thursday!

    Today I am thankful for last night!

    We had our kickoff Junior High Service to start of the school year and it was AWESOME!

    54 students in grades 6-8 came out for meet with Jesus and have a great time. I always leave Nexus recharged by their energy and passion. It was amazing to see the fantastic group of senior highers and volunteer staff loving on Junior Highers and praying over them. It truly makes me feel like I'm part of something worthwhile and important.

    After a difficult day, I ended the night with my heart filled up - thankful to be able to make relationships with students and help to show them a path that will save them from so much heartache during their teenage years and for the rest of their lives.

    For that and many other things - I am thankful today.

    What are you thankful for?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Wellness Wednesday - Update

    You know -  I'm so consumed with the new baby, that I never talk about my eyes anymore.

    That's because - thankfully - there's nothing to talk about!

    I had an eye doctor visit today with my favorite specialist and everything is fantastic. I had to confess that I only use one of the 3 drops I'm supposed to be putting in my eyes because I don't feel like it does anything!

    The first lady I saw (who checks my stats and vision) gave me a bit of a hard time about it and put in my chart "NOT FOLLOWING DOCTOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS."

    Yikes!

    So, I told my doc I really wasn't using them because I didn't think I needed them and he said to go ahead and stop them because my eyes look great...So there, lady.

    Other than that - I'm feeling pretty darn fantastic and looking forward to seeing my junior highers again tonight. I'm nervous about the stress that Wednesdays will bring now that Hannah is in school full time. She really needs her sleep! It's just a busy day - but I know we'll adjust.

    Hope you're all feeling mighty healthy today! I gotta run to pick up my baby and get a move on with this evening!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Tips and Hints Tuesday - Left Over Hair Conditioner

    Okay, let me just say I think this post is kind of silly. I have leftover hair conditioner and I'm too cheap to throw it away - but don't care to use it on my hair. So, I'm looking for other things to do with it, so it doesn't go to waste. If you have any ideas that are better than the ones I've found - please comment.

    If you're wondering what to do with what's left in the bottle, here are some ideas.

    • Make a detangler spray - Mix a couple tablespoons of conditioner and fill up a spray bottle with water and voila!
    • Eye make up remover - Eh, I don't like this idea. I think Vasaline works very well and seems so much safer. I wouldn't do this.
    • Use it as a UPC label remover on merchandise.
    • Use after you clean paintbrushes to keep them pliable. After washing, apply conditioner and let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. 
    • Use it to remove fake tattoos.
    • Use instead of shaving gel.
    • Rinsing pantyhose with conditioner supposedly gets rid of static cling.
    I don't know that I'll keep that bottle of conditioner long enough to try all this stuff, but there are some good ideas for alternative uses. I just hate waste!

    Babo Botanicals - Berry Primrose Instantly Smooth Detangler 8 oz (Google Affiliate Ad)

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Money Monday - CHEAP home renovation.

    I hope you're all enjoying your holiday Monday! I took a couple days off from blogging and really enjoyed spending a long weekend with my family after the first week of school. But, it's Monday morning at about 6:30am and I'm back to the grind, albeit enjoying the quietness of early morning.

    I have been able to exercise and spend time reading my Bible already this morning, and I feel well!

    If you are friends with me on facebook, you have no doubt, been seeing my excitement in our progress in little Miss Emma's bedroom. We removed carpet in 2 of our bedrooms when we moved into the house, but never managed to refinished the fairly beat up floors. Everyone told us it was a time consuming and expensive job.

    Then, one of our friends mentioned that our floors didn't look stained and it seemed like they just might need a light sanding a clear coat of polyurethane. Well, that's the idea we investigated for Baby Emma's room. We aren't tackling the other bedrooms yet because it's a toxic job and the rooms are full of furniture!

    None the less - I am excited to show you the finished project which (because it was a smallish room) took a minimal amount of labor and get this....$20!!!!!! That's why this is a Money Monday post, because I'm shocked at the outcome for such a cheap price and little hassle.

    Here are the before and after photos:
    I can't tell you how excited I am! Now I want to do the other floors!

    Happy Labor Day everyone! (I'm giving Matt the day off  :)

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Family Friday - FINALLY

    Today's Family Friday will express my excitement that my brother Ricky and his wife Doreen are flying on a one way trip from Houston to Pittsburgh this Saturday! They are moving back here for good! I believe it's been 3 years since Ricky has moved down there (2 since Doreen joined him when they were married.)

    I'm sure Houston and Johnson Space Center will miss him, but Hannah wants her uncle (and his "moon boots") here. While skyping, Uncle Ricky pretends to wear moon boots that make him float around the screen and Hannah thinks it's hilarious. She's certain that they will run out of batteries by the time he gets home.

    Aunt Doreen always picks out the best dresses totally suited to Hannah's taste. She knows just how to love on her neice(s) and nephews!

    So, gushing aside, I'm glad to have my family close by and hope they won't get sick of us too quickly.

    WELCOME BACK RICKY AND DOREEN!!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Thankful Thursday!

    27 weeks Finished - 3RD AND FINAL TRIMESTER!!!!

    I'm feeling huge, but thankful that things are still going well with little Baby Emma. She loves when Hannah talks to her and always goes nuts when she hears her voice! 




    First day of school.

    This was all I got of the first full day of school. I should have taken pictures of the half day we went with her the day before. 

    Here, she was irritated that I was taking pictures and milking some sympathy hugs out of her daddy! That said, she loves going to school and has been coming out of her bedroom in the mornings completely dressed. 

    What more could I ask for!?

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Wellness Wednesday - Vaccinations

    As our little bambinos head back to school, doctor well-visits ensue.

    Since Hannah has a late birthday (she just turned 5 last week), she goes literally right before school starts and every year I think about vaccinations.

    When she was an infant, I AGONIZED over vaccinations. Is the MMR going to give her autism? What if she gets sick as a result of the vaccine? I felt like I couldn't win - which in turn helped me to understand delayed vaccinations and those that are spread out.

    Each year when this time comes around, I reevaluate my feelings on the necessity of yearly vaccinations and flu shots. Even with all of the "natural" tones my life has been taking over the last couple of years, as of right now, I'm settling comfortably with "pro-vaccine" status.

    Why?

    Well, I guess my response is, why not? Don't reply to this post with a list of "why nots" PLEASE. I have done a lot of digging and feel educated in the somewhat rare side effects of vaccines and have decided that, for my family  the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks. 


    Some childhood diseases that were once eradicated, seem to be popping up again due to the number of individuals foregoing vaccines for them. The argument that "my child will not get a disease because it's long gone" can't be used. It's "long gone" because we're vaccinating!


    Even the flu vaccine, which many people skip, can be beneficial. Why would I put my daughter through fever, chills, and missed school days if I don't have to? Now, don't get me wrong - I really worried about the swine flu vaccine and chose not to get it for anyone in my family. I was adamant that they weren't going to test a new drug on the people I love! But, most of these vaccines have been around for ages and have been well-studied.


    One vaccine that does concern me is the chicken pox vaccine - as I heard one can lose his immunity to it over the years, putting people at risk for shingles - which is so much worse than childhood chicken pox. This bothers me. 


    On the flip side, I worry about little baby Emma who can't get a flu vaccine and worry about children who have never been vaccinated coming in contact with her - if that should ever happen.


    So, I'm settling on vaccinations. I do have concerns, but at this point have decided to move forward. 


    .

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Tips And Hints Tuesday - My Binder...

    ....is not finished.

    It's functioning well for me and I've been debating all morning on whether or not to show it to you (as I've actually gotten some requests to see it!) because it isn't perfect.

    But then, As I sit here, I'm thinking - it doesn't need to be perfect, it needs to be functional.

    You all know I use my daily life organizer and I posted a link to what it looks like on last week's Tips And Hint's Tuesday. Basically it has a list of chores to do each day, spread out over the week, slots to check off my water intake, Bible reading and blogging.

    Then in my binder I have dividers that allow me to plan out my day in a more detailed way. I'll write down everything that needs accomplished in the order I want to do it.

    I have a tab and loose leaf paper for meal planning, projects, longer term to-dos, shopping lists, budgeting, and a pocket in the back to hold my coupons. It's really nice to have everything in one spot and when I think of something - I can quickly jot it down in the appropriate area helping me not to forget things! There's also a folder in there to hold miscellaneous things. It's been really great and for the most part, I'm sticking with it. I don't beat myself up if I miss something - but it's easy to get back on track - and things are getting done.

    Here are a couple poor quality pictures of my primitive little binder.

    This photo is flipped, but it's the front of the binder showing where I jot down my detailed daily plans.
    This is the back of the binder which shows my coupon pocket and the folder for stray items.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Money Monday - Christmas Shopping...Now?

    It's not so ironic that I'm already thinking about money this morning! Since it's the 30th, I was really hoping my paycheck would hit the bank today instead of tomorrow (the 31st), but I must wait another day. Oh well, I supposed we will survive. Looks like a spaghetti night for dinner, $10 in the gas tank, and one more day to stay away from retail therapy.

    Since we had a month without a mortgage payment, we've been really trying to save enough this month to put that money into our savings account in order to replace some of what was used in the move. Sitting down to budget for September has been somewhat daunting as our mortgage and utilities have increased, we need more car and home repairs, and we have a baby on the way!

    With all of this going on - I'm going to be very diligent (starting now) about saving for the holidays, and Christmas shopping early. I figured we can probably do Christmas in $400 or less this year, so if we save $100 a month, starting now - we should be good.

    I also want to be done shopping by mid November since I'm due December 1. Who needs the stress of holiday shopping in the middle of December with a newborn and a Kindergartner? NOT ME!

    So today - if you're with me, mentally plan out how you'll pay for Christmas this year. Set aside $5 here and $10 there. I know - I've never done it before either - but you'll be so glad when December comes around and you have money set aside for gifts! You can leave that credit card at home! Now that's getting rid of holiday stress!

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Scrumptious Saturday - Making

    We had two of our favorite guests for dinner tonight and decided to make our own pizzas! We had a great time. I didn't feel like ordering out because I'm sick of fast food, preservatives, and not knowing what's in my food.

    So, I made some homemade sauce, pulled some part-skim and fresh mozzarella from the fridge, and started my own quick wheat pizza dough recipe which you can find here at Hillbilly Housewife. I used 2 cups of wheat flour and 2 cups of white. The dough tasted great and the recipe was requested by Cierra herself :)

    I liked this activity because we all had fun. Hannah - who's 5, all the way to Cierra - who's 11.

    Here are some pictures of our good time.

    Truly a scrumptious Saturday!

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Family Friday - Getting Ready for #2

    You all saw my embarrassing pictures I posted of Emma's room a week or two ago. If you want to ogle at it, it's right here.

    Well, I haven't posted the pictures, but the NEXT DAY - her room looked like this:

    I would say that's a significant improvement for one day! Now to get rid of that carpet and redo the floors. Im ready to get this show on the road! I'll keep you updated on our progress with that. 

    I'm itching to do something fun tonight. I want to buy things. I want new furniture for our bedroom and side table lamps. I wanted wall lamps, but I know the cords will drive me INSANE! Any tips on that?

    I'm just looking forward to hanging out with my family this weekend. Hannah has an appointment at the eye doctor this afternoon after we have lunch with a student who has graduated and is leaving us to move across the country for college. HOW RUDE! :)

    It is the last Friday I'll have with my baby before she's in Kindergarten all day every day. She's so excited! 

    Well, off to be efficient!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Thankful Thursday!

    Yesterday was a little bit exhausting for me! I got a lot of stuff done, but ended up working a lot more than I had planned and snapping at Hannah too much.

    This morning I feel fresh and ready to start my day! After about seven and a half hours of sleep I've done a half hour of yoga, read my Bible, made my bed, cleaned the downstairs bathroom and got Hannah breakfast.

    I AM THANKFUL FOR MY NEW SCHEDULE. Hannah and I both do so much better on a schedule. I'm much more productive and less lazy. I have been scheduling EVERYTHING, from an hour to rest, to blogging, even playtime with Hannah.

    Scheduling allows me to not feel guilty stopping one thing and moving on to the next. It also helps me not to feel SO overwhelmed about everything that needs done, that I do nothing.

    Also - I'm thankful for the sweet little girl who sings to my belly, and for the one inside who kicks back.

    I'm thankful for my sweet husband who waits on me hand and foot and puts up with my minor mood swings.

    Lastly, this morning, I'm thankful for PRETZEL M&Ms!

    Hope you all have a day where you can find things to be thankful for all around you!

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Wellness Wednesday - Easy Ways to Maintain A Healthy Weight

    Well, if you're trying to manage you're weight and you're anything like me, you can put away food without even realizing how much you're consuming. Some days I just try to forget what I ate because I am able to consume massive quantities without batting an eyelash!

    I'm not a fan of dieting, eating only sprouts and grapefruit, or counting points. What has worked for me in the past consists of 4 very simple steps.

    1. 30 minutes of cardio most days. I don't beat myself up if I miss a day, but my rule is - I can't miss more than one day in a row.

    2. One Plate Rule No seconds. This is hard for me because I like to pick - especially when I'm putting food away.

    3. Keep A Food Log Write down what you're eating. You'll be surprised at how much you're consuming with a little taste here and a little snack there.

    4. Don't Eat After 6pm period.

    As you can see, my tips do not include specific foods although I eat fruits and vegetable every day. I allow myself junk here and there and I eat dessert...every day. I need something sweet!

    At this point - you can't totally model yourself after me because I'm gaining a half a pound a week! But, before I started growing a baby, I was able to maintain a very healthy weight and BMI by doing these things.

    Start that log today! And remember, write it ALL down! You'll be less likely to eat randomly if you have to account for it!

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Tips And Hints Tuesday - More On Organization

    Call it nesting or call it the start of a busy school year, but I have an itch to get everything in order. Lately, I've been feeling like I'm accomplishing a quarter of what needs done in a day. I'm finding that I become so overwhelmed with what needs to be done, that I do nothing. So, last night I took the bull by the horns.

    If you're feeling like I did last night, let me recommend some ideas to get you back on track. Who knows how long it will last, but so far I feel fresh and ready to go.

    A while back I showed you my Daily Life Organizer. Since moving and having life change, I've altered it a bit to suit me now, but I'm going to try to pick this back up again. But before I even looked at that, I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down the goals that were important for me to maintain each day. These are things that I feel fulfill my family and me on a daily basis.

    My list looked like this (in no particular order):

    Bible Reading
    Active play with hannah
    Meal planning
    Time with Matt
    Exercise
    Catch up on Scrapbooking
    Work
    Computer time
    Blogging
    Emma's Room
    Budgeting/Bills

    If you look at my list - not one item includes cleaning...perplexing.

    I look at it this way - In order to accomplish the above goals - I need to organize my day so that I have TIME for the things I WANT to do.

    So (and I realize this sounds neurotic) - I planned out my day today - last night. I wrote down what I want to have accomplished during time frames the entire day. Crazy? Maybe. But, I find myself killing hours doing virtually nothing and have nothing to show for my day at bed time, leaving me feeling useless, unaccomplished, and still overwhelmed with what needs done.

    So, today's tip is to PLAN YOUR DAY. Write it down and check it off.  It will get you motivated and help you to accomplish your to dos. I find writing it on paper is better for me than typing it on a computer.

    Next week - I'll let you in on the Organizational Binder I'm creating. Hopefully I'll still be using it by then!

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Spiritual Sunday - A Glimpse Into The Future - From the Past

    I find it fascinating to see what God said through the prophets about the coming of Christ. Back in Chronicles, as David is thinking about building a better housing structure for the ark, God reminds him, through the prophet Nathan what his real purpose is, and I find it simply amazing.

    "And now I declare that the Lord will build a house for you - a dynasty of Kings! For when you die, I will raise up one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house - a temple - for me. And I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he will be my son. I will not take my unfailing love from him as I took it from Saul, who ruled before you. I will establish him over my dynasty and my kingdom for all time and his throne will be secure forever."

    1 Chronicles 17:10-14 (NLT)

    Imagine how David felt. Jesus was to come from his bloodline. It's just fascinating to me, as well as a reminder of the might and power of God!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Wellness Wednesday - What's lurking in your hair/skin products

    Say hello to 25 weeks. It's 3am as I type this post and can't sleep because Hannah is having some pre-K jitters and I have some sort of pregnancy related stuffed up nose that's driving me NUTS!

    Other than that and my large butt, I'm feeling fine and so is the rest of the family which I'm thankful for.

    On to Wellness Wednesday:

    Natural and organic products can be so expensive, but do you know what's in your shampoo? Your makeup? Many of us have heard of the term parabens and that they're bad, but why? Last time I checked (5 days ago) Johnson and Johnson still has them in their baby wash - so it can't be that bad right?

    I was reading an article in this month's Taste For Life magazine that I receive free at the health food store near me and it made me shudder once again.

    "Parabens are preservatives found in 75-90% of all conventional beauty care products. They can travel to body tissue and mimic the hormone estrogen." Have you heard of the rise in breast cancer? It has an entire awareness month! Much of the breast cancer seen recently is "estrogen fed." So many products (including soy) mimic estrogen in the body and are worth taking a second look at. It's been all but unanimously decided that synthetic estrogen is less than ideal for women going through menopause, but look at the other ways it's sneaking into our bodies!

    "Propylene glycol is used to help seal in moisture, but it can contain impurities such as LEAD, NICKLE, or [get this!] ARSENIC!! It is also the active ingredient in ANTIFREEZE." This sickens me. Look at your makeup containers and your children's shampoo bottles, but stand near the toilet in case this bother's you as much as it bother's me.

    Suave Naturals brand is an inexpensive way to avoid some of this. Their shampoo and body washes for children lack the aforementioned items, but I just checked my body wash which contains propylene glycol.

    Obviously everything seems to be bad for us these days, and we can't win. I just suggest making minor changes where you can. Too much can be expensive and overwhelming, but education is the best weapon. BE INFORMED.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Tips And Hints Tuesday - Home Organization

    I don't know if it's early nesting or what, but I have been wanting everything to be in it's place. The baby's room is a mess and is going to need to be started soon - but for the last 5 months, I've been throwing anything and everything baby related in there. In fact, as of a few days ago, you couldn't even open the door. I would have taken a picture if I could have.

    I've been throwing all of my maternity clothes in there and every baby item given to me to borrow or have - not to mention all of Hannah's outgrown clothes. It's a mess. And, as I just went in there to take before pictures - I just realized why I never actually post before pictures. It's embarrassing. But, I must squelch the preconceived notions some of you have of me, thinking that I'm always neat - because it is as far from the truth as it could be. Ask my mom :)

    So, please keep in mind, that I have actually STARTED in this room. I have sorted and labeled maternity clothes and put most of them in my drawers after saying goodbye to the last of my pre pregnancy pants and tiny tees.

    This is what I'm working on.


    That's not every angle, but it's all you're getting.

    So, my tip for you today to motivate you to move is to SNAP A COUPLE BEFORE PICTURES! I guarantee you'll  be motivated to take some "afters!" I'll include mine in the MONTHS ahead. We're a ways off completion in this room

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Money Monday - Snagging Deals

    An update on the depleted emergency fund after our home purchase? By the end of this month we will be 57% of the way there, and then we'll need to start saving for cars.

    Today's Monday Post is about "deals." How often do you shrug sales/deals/coupons off, or throw them away because it's only a few dollars, or you can't make time for them?

    Tonight, we went to Kohls. I didn't feel like going, but we went. We had received a $10 coupon in the mail and we tried to use it last week, before it was valid and had to put our $10 worth of stuff back because I am so cheap!

    We went back today and got a new bed pillow for Matt, a three way picture frame for me, and a shirt for "Red White & Blue Day" for Hannah and we paid...get this...$1.66. They weren't frivolous purchases because we have been thinking about buying those things and we spent next to nothing to get them.

    Sometimes it's worth paying attention to what comes in the mail, coupons, circulars, or random deals. If you scout, you can get some great deals - just make sure you know what you're looking for and what you need.

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