Showing posts from August, 2010

Goals Update - What I've Learned this Summer and a Panic Attack

See this little yellow guy?  We have had a host of them eating a banquet on the cone flower next to our back patio.  This picture was taken on the 4th of July this year.  It has seemed like almost every other morning, I look out the window and see this guy or one of his friends eating away.  I stood there for a long time this morning watching one of these little yellow friends having a feast, balanced carefully on top of a purple flower.
These last few weeks have been very, very painful and stressful for me.  I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and just plain scared.  We have so much going on starting this week. So much. 
So what's going on? * Kindergarten x2 * New job for Lea (approx. 30 hr/wk) * Dissertation work for Lea (approx 40hr/wk) * Committee work at church for Lea (approx 5 hr/wk) * 3 classes for John (approx 15 hr/wk) * Full time work for John (50+ hr/wk) * 15 hour/wk internship for John that includes teaching 2 adult and 1 youth class as well as preaching and ministering * Swimming l…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 29th

Oh, my another week!  And the kids start Kindergarten this week!  I've had some tough moments this week with realizing that we won't be driving to our beloved daycare anymore and we won't be wearing the homemade clothes from grandma every day anymore.  *Sniff.*  I am excited and I will probably cry a few tear on Tuesday morning when we drop them off, but that's the way I am and I'm excited about it - as are they!
So what are we eating this week?
Sunday, August 29: Breakfast: Cold Cereal Lunch: Chicken Dinner Fundraiser at Church Dinner: Wrap Sandwiches, Melon-Strawberry-Blueberry Salad
Monday, August 30: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Pecans Dinner: Chicken Nuggets, Lettuce Salad, Grape-Blueberry-Strawberry Salad
Tuesday, August 31, First Day of School! Breakfast: Doughnuts and Strawberries and Blueberries Lunch: Out for Lunch at our Favorite Pizza Place (half day of school) Dinner: Pork Chops, Roasted Potatoes, Beets, Grape-Peach-Strawberry Salad
Wednesday, September 1: B…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Coffee!

Oh, my, oh my! Do I love my coffee! 
I start my day with a hot cup just rocking in my living room rocking chair for about 10 minutes, enjoying the quiet and solitude.  In the summer, I might stand at my kitchen window enjoying the sunrise over the trees in my rear neighbor's yard and during the Christmas season, I sit with the houselights out and the tree lights on.  So very peaceful and it helps keep me grounded and gets my day off to a good start.
As much as I love the solitude and the quiet, the coffee is just as much a favorite thing for me.  I love a hot cup of coffee!  Almost anywhere or any time of the day, coffee is something I will enjoy.  Oh, I like hot tea too - and it's usually my choice when I need something decaffeinated, but coffee is definitely my first choice.
Oddly enough, I didn't start drinking coffee until I went to college.  I had a friend in high school who drank coffee all the time and continually talked about it's wonders. I thought it was too bit…

Frugal Friday - Making Your Own Flavored Coffee

I love my coffee !  Hmmm...that's one thing I haven't written about on These are a Few of My Favorite Things!  Anyway, I love, love, love my coffee.  I buy my own beans and grind my coffee.  We even have a line item in the budget for my coffee - I'm not sure if that's pitiful or just realistic! :)

I'm not a huge fancy coffee person - typically I just like regular old Joe, not the big fru-fru drinks from Starbucks or Caribou.  Though, the Caramel Machiatto is a really nice treat from time to time!  I think if I had one every day it would loose the 'special-ness' of it all.  I save it for coffee with a friend or a date night out with John. 

I especially love flavored coffee but it can be pricey - more than the 'regular' kind anyway, at least in the brands I favor.  I do buy it occasionally, but found that I could by regular Colombian less expensively.  But I didn't want to give up my flavored coffee completely!  So, a couple of years ago I starte…

Work Home and Family - Simple Centerpieces and Setting a Lovely Table

I grew up with a Mom who always had a table cloth or place mats on the tablecloth.  It was just what I was used to, but I didn't really understand it.    For a while I had a really ugly yellow linoleum table that I pulled out of a dumpster that I would cover with a tablecloth just to get rid of the ugly!  Then John and I bought a nice wooden table with four (matching!) chairs!  At that point I basically quit using table clothes or place mats.

When our children turned 2, John and I realized that we needed a larger table.  The table we had would fit four - squished really tightly and with no room for serving bowls!  Since my parents spend about 3 months a year with us, that wasn't going to work and it especially wasn't going to work now with the kids moving out of their high chairs.  So we started looking for a larger table.

Yikes! We had gotten a great deal on a clearance sale for our last table and I had no idea how expensive tables were!  I also didn't realize that th…

Healthy Habits in 2010 - The "Uff Da" Edition

For those of you non-Midwestern, non-Scandinavians out there my favorite 'definition' of "Uff da" is this: Losing your gum in the chicken yard.   If that's a bit too obscure, it's akin to Charlie Browns' "Good Grief!"

I had hope this week I'd be able to write and tell you how well I'm doing with my 'alternative' exercise routine and how I had effectively cut back on portions and all that jazz.

No can do.

I have one a whole whopping 3 days worth of my 'exercises' but I haven't checked into swimming at one place yet (the other only has open swim from 630-8am - yikes! - and that doesn't fit into my schedule in any way), began walking regularly (much less with my pedometer) or decided what my 'official' plan is going to be.

I have also attended outside events or eaten out 4 times in the last week which meant I was eating things I don't normally eat and that means I had extra calories in my diet.


Goals Update - Having a Plan!

One night last week I was so very frustrated with myself - after a terrific start to the week, in terms of productivity, I felt like I was losing my momentum again.  I started mindlessly reading through my old blog entries while wondering what in the world was so wrong with me that I kept losing my momentum on just about everything.  I have felt like I'm on a roller coaster this year - I get a lot done, then absolutely nothing, and then something done and then nothing again.  Ugh.  Not only that, but it was making me feel like I colossal failure since I couldn't keep being productive the way I wanted to.

I noticed something while reading those old entries:  Things get done when I have a plan.

Uh, duh.

Of course things get done when I have a plan!  Having a plan means that I plan to get things done, so then they get done.  It makes perfect sense (at least to me!).

Then the question becomes: Why do I derail so often, since I almost always have a plan?

I realized two things:
1) …

Menu Plan Monday - August 22, 2010

Oh my, does that picture look good!  I might just have to put some more salads on next week's menu. Hmmm...
Here's what we're eating this week:
Sunday, August 22: Breakfast: Cereal and Bananas Lunch: Leftovers Dinner: Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser
Monday, August 23: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Raisins Dinner BLTs, Pasta Salad, Fruit
Tuesday, August 24: Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies Dinner: Lion's Picnic (Bring Fruit)
Wednesday, August 25: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Bananas Dinner: At Church (Bring Lettuce Salad)
Thursday, August 26: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Strawberries Dinner: Taco Salad with Tortilla Chips, Grapes
Friday, August 27: Breakfast: Peanut Butter Pancakes with Strawberry Jam Dinner: Kielbasa, Rice, Green Beans, Melon
Saturday, August 28: Breakfast: Out for All (Bible Studies) Lunch: Lea's Work Potluck: Bring Lettuce Salad Dinner: Turkey Tortilla Soup, Homemade Bread, Melon and Grapes
What are you eating this week? Check…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - My Husband

John and I have been married 12 whole years now!  Wow!  That sounds like a long time.

In some ways it has been a long time.

In 12 years we've lived in 2 different apartments, purchased a home, had two children, suffered through the deaths of 4 of our collective grandparents, welcomed John's youngest brother (who is now 11!), participated in the weddings of 3 of John's siblings, watched one of those siblings get divorced, and welcomed 3 nephews and one niece. 

Our house alone has given us quite the run for our money with a entire electrical overhaul, a yard overhaul (including installing an enormous patio ourselves), finishing off the basement, redoing the existing bathroom (including stripping it to the studs and replacing everything but the bathtub!), and installing a second bathroom.  We've painted, replaced carpeting and flooring, replaced curtains and light fixtures.
John has held 3 different jobs and is now attending Seminary to become a Hospital Chaplin in addit…

Frugal Friday - What Does 'Simple Life' Mean to You?

I have known for a long time now that my life needs to be simplified - I need less stuff, I need fewer commitments, I need to slow down and spend deliberate time on things rather than rushing from here to there.  As part of that, I realize that living simpler will impact my budget as well - not necessarily by lowering my expenses but by allowing me more control over my money and making me more content with my life.
The thing that disappoints me though is if you, say, Google "Simple Life" most of the links that come back have to do with working for yourself, growing all your own food, raising chickens and cows, churning your own butter, sewing your own clothes from feed sacks, learning how to navigate by the moon, ...oh, wait that one isn't in there!  :)   In any case, many of those links involve reverting back to life as it was 100 years ago or so perhaps with the addition of running water and a flush toilet.  Does living like this make life more frugal as well?  I'm …

In the Refiner's Fire - Mary vs. Martha

Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha? The story of the two sisters of Lazarus who welcomed Jesus and his disciples into their home with Mary sitting at Jesus feet to listen and Martha running around doing her best to outdo Martha Stewart? Ah, yes, that story.  Found in Luke 10:38-42 in the New Testament.

This story rings a bell with so many women for good reason.  Are we Martha's running around trying to do the things expected of us while neglecting our relationship with God?  Or are we building that relationship with God, as He would want? 

There's the other, more subtle angle here too - that of the complaint of Martha, "Lord, tell her to help me!" she cried.  If we are being Martha we may look with contempt on those who don't help out but sit and listen.  I even read a article on housekeeping that says God supposedly wants us to put our household chores above other things so that they aren't 'neglected'.  What a pat on the back for when we …

Work, Home and Family - Do the kids have space to play?

One of the problems of living in a small house is having space.  For anything.  Much less for boisterous children to run, play and make a mess. 

One of the reasons we bought this house was its huge and lovely backyard.  Well, it wasn't so lovely at the time, but now it's great.  And it contains a first class swing set, a fabulous patio, and enough lawn to run and play on for all of us.  We've played many games of kickball, tag, hide-n-seek, and a bunch of other things back there too.  We've hosted parties and planted plants.  The kids love it.  We do too.

The inside of our house is another story. When you have a 900 square foot footprint with 6 rooms and a stairwell in it, each of those rooms ends up small too!  That means little floor space to play in.  When our children were infants, that wasn't much of a problem.  Their crib or an equal size amount of space was perfect for playing.  Once they started walking - look out!  We quickly realized that we needed more …

Healthy Habits in 2010 - More Important Things to Realize

I wrote yesterday about how this broken toe has turned out to be a huge blessing in many ways - other than the fact that my toe is, well, broken.

First: I learned that I was really making excuses for what I wasn't getting done when in fact I just plain wasn't doing things.  I was being lazy.

Second: Guess what?  That goes for my weight loss and getting fit and healthy plans too. 

Oh, I made some strides this year alright.  I got both the early spring and summer promos at Jazzercise (and won a cute tote bag and a really cute pair of flip flops to boot!) - totally 45 classes in 3 months which means I was going to class somewhere between 3 and 4 classes a week those three months.  Whoo hoo!  And I realized that I was eating in part to fill in the gaps in spiritual and emotional intimacy in my relationship with John. That was a huge deal too.

I realized this weekend that a lot of the excuses I had in my head for not doing more in terms of exercise and watching what I eat were exa…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of August 15, 2010

It's Monday again, and that means posting our menu. I've been slacking on posting these last few weeks. My apologies.  Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, August 15:
    Breakfast: Cold Cereal
    Lunch: Baked Eggs, Bacon, Oatmeal Muffins, Melon-Blueberry-Strawberry Salad
    Dinner: Steak, Couscous, Steamed Carrots, Grapes

Monday, August 16:
    Breakfast: Waffles with Pecans and Strawberries
    Dinner: Veggie Calzones, Grape-Peach-Strawberry Salad

Tuesday, August 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Bananas
   Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Grapes

Wednesday, August 18:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Peaches
   Dinner: At Church (Bring Lettuce Salad)

Thursday, August 19:
   Breakfast: Banana-Oatmeal Bake
   Dinner: Chicken Flavored Rice, Veggie Saute, Melon-Grape-Peach Salad

Friday, August 20:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Peaches
   Dinner: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Lettuce Salad, Melon-Peach-Apple Salad

Saturday, August 21:
   Breakfast: Cin…

Goals Update - A Realization

For months now I have been beating myself up about not getting things done in the time frame that I want them done in. I've told myself that I have set my expectations too high and should be happy with any progress, whatsoever.  I have told myself that "life happens" and things aren't necessarily going to get done in the time frame that I want them to.

Last week I broke my little toe on my right foot. 

And, man, did it hurt!  When I initially hurt it, I screamed and then I cried. My son graciously put his hands over his ears and then told me I was "too loud."  I told myself it was just a stubbed toe and continued to do what I was doing.

An hour later I knew it was not a stubbed toe.  My foot was swelling and my toe was turning black and blue and walking, well, hurt.

By the time I had spent a fitful night sleeping and then called the clinic first thing when they opened, I had this idea in my head that I was going to have to have surgery on my toe, that I wo…

Super Savings Saturday - $70 restock

I have another three picture stock up run to show you today! Even more impressive - John took the kids and did this himself! Since I have this darn broken toe and it still needs to be elevated and iced, John had to brave the stores with kiddos in tow by himself. He did a great job!
A couple of the deals weren't the greatest, but we were out (oatmeal for one example) and I felt we
needed to get some in spite of no sale or not good sales. We did up the stock on meat and bought laundry detergent, milk, and juice. My plan is to put together menus for 2 weeks from this and what we have and then only buy milk and fill in some fruit on the $10 we have for the second week.
Here's what we bought:
Store #1: Total spent: $6.06 3 boxes Kraft Mac & Cheese @ $0.69 = $2.07 2 lbs green grapes $4.99 - $1 coupon = $3.99 Total Saved at store #1: $1
Store #2: Total Spent: $37.44 1 Betty Crocker Whipped Frosting $1 1 Betty Crocker White Cake Mix $0.75 - $0.75 coupon = Free Cascadian Farms Cereal $…

Life Happens

So I had all these fabulous posts planned - and some even half-written - about making memories rather than buying things and how to do a couple of things and a couple of projects I'd started on.

We were out of town from Saturday evening until Tuesday night (and had a wonderful time, I might add!) and then I spent Wednesday and yesterday trying to frantically do a couple of things for school so that I can meet the next deadline.

Fortunately, I got those school things done.

Why? Because yesterday evening I walked smack into the runner for our very large, very old, very heavy, wooden rocking chair in our living room.

And broke my toe and sprained a good chunk of my right foot.

Don't ask me how. It makes no sense to me because I was just walking.

So now I'm stuck at home, unable to drive my car, walk any distance or climb stairs for about a week. UGH.

Well, life happens.

And I did want some time to do some concentrated reading for school.
And go through a bunch of old papers that I…

Kid Funny

The kids were playing in our family room downstairs and I was in the kitchen at the top of the stairs when I heard this shouted at the top of the lungs:

"We're almost there, Dinosaur!"

How often do you hear that?

What more can I ask for?

Work Home and Family - Deliberately Slow Moments

One of the things that really hit me during our vacation a couple weeks ago was that we rarely take time to slow down and just be.

So, I decided to do something about that!

With John and I both in school and working it's challenging. And I means I have to be deliberate about things more than some other people who's lives are more relaxed to begin with. I've been reading a blog that chronicles people's daily lives and I'm amazed at how little people seem to do. Of course, if I wrote down what I do all day, it would seem less than I actually do as well, so I'm sure their days are more full than they seem on paper. It still made me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing too much.

Part of me responds to that by saying "Duh! Of course you are doing too much!" And part of me just cringes at the thought.

You see, I'm a bit of a type A personality - always on the go, needing people and activities to keep my mind focused and interested. I always h…