Thursday, November 8, 2012

I've been invited to try Time4Learning's online education program in exchange for an honest review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so come back and read about my experience! For more information, try their lesson demos or find out how to write your own curriculum review.

Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes: A follow Up.

1. Remember hubby's promotion (mentioned last week) that I asked you all to pray for? IT WORKED! God is so good. It took 4 tries over the course of more than a year, but it finally 'prayed off'. ::proud wife:: So thank you to anyone who included us in your prayers! :)

2. Margaux Alexandria is 1. She had a decked out princess party. It was pretty awesome. We served strawberry cupcakes (recipe from my neighbor) and THESE chocolate ones. The name is a little scandalous. And ladies, so is the flavor. Oh yes.

3. Can anyone recommend a good camcorder? Nothing fancy. Actually, I prefer it not be fancy (nor expensive) because

...I have young kids that like to get into things. Need I say more?

4. Monday starts a new challenge. The Beachbody Challenge. I'll be doing Brazil Butt Lift (I know the same sounds kind of silly...but try it. Oh. My. Word.) This will be the first time I've taken on a regimented routine and meal plan since before I got pregnant with Margaux. So more than anything I could use some accountability.

5. Speaking of which, I'd like you all to jump over and read the article I wrote earlier today. It's called "Health and Fitness...from a Christian Perspective." Please, please do not look at healthy eating and exercise as a luxury. It is so much more than that.

6. I read this book with the kids earlier this week. SO. CUTE! It's called "Little One Step" and is about a little duckling who just gets so overwhelmed with the task at hand. He wants to throw in the towel, but then his big brother reminds him to take "one step" at a time. I think every child (and adult) should have this book on their shelf.

7. It's laundry soap day. I like to make a huge batch of laundry soap about twice per year. Saves a lot of time and money!

Health and Fitness...from a Christian Perspective.

For moms, whether working or staying at home, taking care of our bodies tends to take a backseat to, well, everything else that we are responsible for. I'll admit to struggling with guilt. Budgets are who am I to spend extra money on healthier foods? I should be doing everything I can to stay frugal in every facet of life, right? Because that's the godly, responsible thing to do... right?

Not necessarily.

Do you think it's a coincidence that God created nature's bounty to be so incredibly fruitful and nutritious? Do you think it's also a coincidence that when we choose to eat right and stay active, our bodies AND our minds work at maximum efficiency?

Me neither.

It is no coincidence that exercising releases "happy"hormones into our brains and our mood is improved. God created our bodies, and not one cell in our body, nor the way it functions, was created that way merely by happenstance or coincidence.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around this. I've always had a passion for healthy eating and exercise/physical activity. However I looked around and saw many of the moms around me saying that they just couldn't find the time or money for these if they were a frivolous luxury, like a pedicure. I started to question myself. Was I being vain? Selfish?

No. There is nothing holy or pious about being unhealthy.

1 Corinthians 10-31 says..
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God."

If we are to make manifest the glory of God in whatever we do, including what we eat and what we drink, should we not be treating our bodies, our TEMPLES, with respect and dignity?

What better way to do this than to live a lifestyle that allows our bodies to function in the way that God created them to? Healthy, natural, and pure. God gave it all to us.

Every time you make the decision to live well, you are bringing glory to God's creation.

So, the next time your 'mommy-guilt' starts to kick in when you're trying to find a way to fit those healthy ingredients into your family's meals or maybe even find a few minutes to yourself to exercise, stop yourself. Stop yourself and instead of feel guilt, feel GRATITUDE. Gratitude to God for providing us with the fruits of the Earth so that we may live healthy, full lives.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1. Margaux is turning 1!! It's bittersweet.

2. Halloween. Do you buy your costumes or make them? Tight budget this year means that not only am I making the kid's costumes, I'm making them entirely out of things that I have around the house. In other words, I'm not going to buy any craft supplies or anything else at the store for the purpose of making costumes. I'm actually really surprised at what we were able to come up with with the help of some super crafty mom bloggers out there. You'll have to wait and see! :)

3. Zac (husband) is up for a promotion--Yay! He works for a company that makes it fairly difficult to get a promotion and he's already been turned down three times. We're praying that the fourth time is a charm. St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Workers, Pray for us!

4. Putting the hobbies up on a shelf for a while. Anyone who knows me, follows me on Facebook, or reads anything that I've ever written on this blog know that I have hobby ADD. From knitting to quilting to baking to...basically anything that involves making something, I want to do it. However I've come to a point in my life where I need some space, some clarity. So, I'm giving myself permission to say "I don't have time for that" and I'm putting most of my projects on the shelf. I have a couple of things that I'm knitting up as Christmas gifts, but that's about it. I've always been about being busy all the time and right now I feel like I just need a little space.

5. Time to close up the garden. This week marks the end of my growing season. If you really want to call it that. I had a wonderfully planned and laid out garden with about 20 different veggies in it. Most of them didn't grow. I got 1 tomato, a handful of green beans, 2 mini-cucumbers, and 3 teeny peppers. It was horrible. It was really dismal. So, I'm closing up shop and using the lasagna gardening method to prepare the soil for next year. I will not give up.

6. Prayer Life. Do you have one? Neither do I. This is one of the reasons I'm setting aside my hobbies. I need more quiet time to spend with God in prayer. I won't make any grand resolutions to pray a daily 15-decade rosary, but I will resolve to fix this void in my life because honestly, I'm a much nicer person when I've spent a little time with God. My husband agrees.

7. Pumpkin recipes. I don't have enough. What are yours?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supermom? Part 1

"How do you manage it all with kids?"

A friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail asking this question. She was specifically asking about time management, I think. How to fit in working, taking care of the children, and maybe even a workout. Or God willing, an uninterrupted shower.

I really had to stop and think for a minute. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Heck if I know. But hey, if you figure it out, let me know!" But I really wanted to be a little more helpful than that.

I think that as mothers, or just human beings in general, we're always comparing ourselves. Maybe comparing ourselves to the mom of 6 who somehow has retained her figure, or the mom blogger who appears to have it all together, or maybe we're just comparing ourselves to the ideal mother that we aspire to be; who we expect ourselves to be.

The truth is, I don't manage it all. I have piles of junk mail on my counters. I haven't dusted my living room in months. I'm always afraid I'm going to find something alive when I'm doing laundry because some of it has been sitting there for so long. I haven't exercised in weeks. The list goes on.

The other truth, which I sometimes have a hard time accepting, is that I CAN'T do it all. We are women of a completely different generation. We want it all. We want family fulfillment, we want a career, we want hobbies, we want unending stamina, we want to be able to do everything and we want to do it NOW. We redefine the word "overachiever." We are redefining motherhood. Which sounds really great and wonderful and inspiring. And it is. But at the same time, it isn't. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes it's overwhelming. Sometimes it's belittling. Especially when you can't exactly fill those ever-growing shoes.

I think discernment is something that we really need to take a better look at. We were all given the graces, the patience, the skills, the talents to be the mothers and wives that God created us to be. So prayer is definitely needed. Not just prayer as in asking God to puh-LEASE give me the patience to deal with this temper tantrum without flipping a lid. I mean prayer as in, God, this is what I WANT to be doing right now, but is this really what I SHOULD be doing? Is this what you want me to be doing and is this how you want me to be doing it?

In my response to the friend who e-mailed me, I used the example of exercising. I love P90X. I mean, I really, really LOVE it. I love how I feel afterward even more than I love the results I see in the mirror. The problem is that the workouts are 90 minutes long. Ninety minutes is a long time to be exercising when you have unpredictable little people in the house. Many times I would get 20 minutes into a workout and the baby would start fussing.

This is the nature of having young children. I needed to accept that 20 minutes was all I was going to get that day. At first I found myself getting annoyed, angry, and frustrated. Not with the baby, just at the fact that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Eventually I learned that I needed to be okay with that 20 minutes (hey, it's better than nothing) and just try again tomorrow or the next day.

It was pretty clear where I needed to be at that point. My baby needed me, plain and simple. I'm not going to look back on my life and wish that I had exercised more, or baked better bread, or made all of our clothes from scratch, or any of that. I'm going to look back on my life and remember the gushy feelings of a sleepy baby in my arms, being relieved that my 4 year old still wants me when he gets a boo-boo and yet totally terrified that someday very soon that will all change. I'm going to remember the moment that I understood that there is something completely blissful and holy about kissing baby feet. I'm going to remember watching in awe as these personalities, so different, so pure, so fascinating, develop right before my eyes.

John Lennon was quoted saying, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

True that.

Better yet, life is what God throws in your face when you think you know better than he does.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homemade Gifts

I know, I know. It's only October. However, I feel that this is ultimately necessary. So, bear with me for a moment as we talk Christmas Gifts.

My husband’s immediate family includes 12 grandchildren ages 4 weeks to 5 years, along with his three siblings, their spouses, his parents, 2 living grandparents, and DH’s godparents. That’s 24-ish people just on my husband’s side. Fortunately my side of the family is a bit smaller. But trust me when I say we are all on very, very tight budgets. We've tossed around ideas over the past few years ranging from one Dollar Store gift per child, to Secret Santas or pulling numbers. None of those really sat well with any of us for various reasons. This year we’re focusing on homemade, from the heart gifts. Nothing fancy as most of us aren't as crafty as we dream of being and, unfortunately, craft supplies can become very expensive.

The important thing for us is to have the kids involved. We really want to instill in them a giving heart…and giving means more than grumbling through the department store just trying to find something that fits your budget and wouldn’t seem like a completely ridiculous gift. I know that when I say “homemade gifts” a lot of people have horror flashes of Martha Stewart-esque ensembles that most people either don’t have the time for, don’t have the money for, or don’t have the talent for. A homemade gift can really be as simple or as ornate as you want it to be. Some people really enjoy getting super crafty. I personally love making homemade things, but I have 3 children ages 4 and under and as much as I try to kid myself, sometimes I just have to admit that I can’t do it all.

Here’s what we’ve decided on this year:

I’m giving the kids each 2 large squares of fleece, with their names either sewn on or drawn on with fabric markers, and some polyfil to go inside. I’ll be cutting the edges to make “tie your own pillow” kits, sort of like a tie your own blanket kit. Then just stuff with the polyfil and you’re done! They can practice tying knots and at the end have the sense of accomplishment of having made their own pillow. This is something all of my children will be able to take part in, from choosing the color of fleece for each cousin to preparing the kits.

For adults we’ll be making lavender wheat bags. Essentially it’s 2 pieces of fabric sewn together like a pillowcase and filled with wheat (dried beans, rice, barley etc all work fine as well) and lavender, then sew completely closed to make an aromatic heating pad. They can be tossed in the microwave to heat and they smell nice as well. My oldest 2 children (ages 3 and 4) will be able to help me fill the bags with the wheat and lavender.

For other ideas try doing a search on Pinterest for homemade gifts. also has some really awesome ideas.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creamy Creole Chicken Pasta

All I can say about this recipe is WOW.

"Yum" would also cover it.

Creamy Creole Chicken Pasta (Serves: 6. Cook time: Roughly 20 minutes)

2 Chicken Breasts cut into strips
Creole Seasoning, to taste
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 container onions, sliced
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of italian seasoning

-Saute chicken with veggies and creole seasoning in large skillet (this is where you'll determine how spicy your dish is. Use more creole seasoning for some kick, use less for just a little flavor)
-Cook pasta according to directions, drain, return to pot
-Transfer chicken and veggies to the pot of pasta. Pour in the evaporated milk, parmesan cheese, and remaining seasonings to taste.
-Heat through and enjoy!

Meal ideas: I served this with a fruit salad. The coolness of the fruit was an awesome compliment to the spiciness of the pasta.

Oh, and also: I made the dish a little *less* spicy so that the kids would be able to enjoy it. After serving up their portions, I added in more creole seasoning because hubby and I are suckers for, well, anything with some kick to it ;)