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Showing posts from November, 2010

In the Refiner's Fire - So Very Thankful!

It's Thanksgiving Day.
And I have so very much to be thankful for...
....my health.... ....my husband.... ...my children... ...my home... ...my education... ...my career... ...my parents.... ...my husband's parents... ...my husband's parents... ...my husband's 8 siblings and their spouses... ...four lively nephews... ...a lovely niece... ...the addition of a new brother-in-law and his two daughters as nieces in the next year... ...safe vehicles to travel in... ...plenty to eat... ...plenty to wear... ...money for things I need and desire... ...health insurance... ...access to good medical care when needed...
...with all of this glorious bounty the thing I am the most grateful for this Thanksgiving is by far and away this...
...the Grace of God Almighty...
...who gives abundantly beyond all things we could ever hope or dream of... ...who cares for us in our time of need... ...and carries us when we'd fall... ...and continues to refine me into the person He would have me be... ...which is far …

Work Home and Family - Busy Mom TIps #3: Holiday Trips, Gatherings and Meals

Turkey day is TOMORROW!  Are you ready? 

We head out of state to the in-laws this weekend.  John's wonderful, huge family.  His parents, 8 siblings, 3-in-laws, 4 nephews, 1 niece, 5 dogs, and random cousins, aunts, uncles and friends as well. 

It's a super busy time and we enjoy it.  Most of the time.

We're heading out after I get done teaching today - which means we won't get on the road until about 8pm.  We'll get in around midnight and hit the ground running tomorrow morning. 

Here are some of the busy mom tips I use to keep us sane and happy while running around like the proverbial chicken with it's head cut off:

Get a hotel room.  Seriously.  If it is at all within your budget and you have to travel, stay at a hotel.  While Aunt Matilda may be terribly mortified that you are, it gives you a place to 'recover' in peace and you don't have to worry about offending sister Sue because you stayed with brother Joe (our original reason for getting a…

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Mixing Times Up a Bit and that Food Journal

My goal for the month so far has been to get up with John at 530am and do the 30 Day Shred on the days when I don't go to Jazzercise (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and possibly Saturday).  That wasn't working out well.  John and I have a short devotional time before he leaves in the morning and my working out at that time meant that we didn't get to do that.  It may sound trivial, but since that time is an integral and meaningful part of our day we decided that wasn't working well.

So, I decided to work out to Ms. Jillian after the kids go to bed at night on those nights - about 830pm.  I realize that people recommend working out first thing in the morning but I have always preferred working out in the evening (usually 6pm-ish rather than later) and I have been just completely beat when I get home and want to crawl into bed right after the kids do.  By working out at that time, I have the energy to get my evening schedule actually completed rather than falling int…

Goals Update - What do you do...?

We have an ice storm in Minnesota currently and I hit the pavement this weekend - my back patio.  On Sunday, I went sailing off the back step and landed in the middle of my patio, bruising my back end and my right arm in the process.  Today my whole body feels like it's been beaten with a stick. 

While sitting around on the couch with an icepack on my arm, lamenting that I didn't make it to church and reading random articles on the 'net, I had a bit of a revelation.

I have a huge problem with procrastination (no, that wasn't the revelation!).  A huge problem.  And I have had it for a long time.  I know that.  And I've been working on it.  And I've made huge strides in the last year or two - especially after my surgery in fall 2009.  I'm proud of that.

But...
(Yes, you did know that was coming!)
I have a long, long way to go.  Not only to be where I want to be but to get myself out of the hole I'm in and get moving forward toward that somewhere I want t…

In the Refiner's Fire - Holding Myself Accountable

I realized something a little better than a week ago.

I have a terribly hard time holding myself accountable.

So does John.

Boy are we a pair!
Where there's outside accountability we do great - at our jobs, school (with grades or other 'incentives'), outside commitments where other people are counting on us to get our jobs done!  At home and personally it's a completely different story.

We had a huge "discussion" last week and it came down to this: neither one of us holds ourselves or the other accountable for anything worthwhile (at least in our estimation).  John commented that he didn't know how to hold me accountable without being a drill Sargent.  I don't know how to hold him accountable without being a drill Sargent either.  Being a drill Sargent isn't good for either one of us. 

Yet, I grew up in a house where expectations were high, and people were held accountable without resorting to drill Sargent tactics.  You were expected to do certa…

Work Home and Family - Busy Mom Tips Part 2: Cooking that Meal

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Last time on Busy Mom Tips, I talked about menu planning. Today's topic, Cooking that Meal, is intimately linked to planning your menu. Busy nights mean that dinner either needs to be something that can be made quickly or something that can be made ahead of time and just eaten. Slower nights mean that more time can be taken to make dinner. Freezer cooking or simply planning ahead can aid on any night for making cooking dinner (or any meal) quick and easy. Here are some tips that help me make dinner quickly and easily, especially on busy nights!


Learn your timing. It takes 20 minutes to cook the brand of rice we buy. So if I'm making stir fry, I start the rice and then brown the meat at the same time, then cook everything else. That way everything gets done at the same time. No time wasted waiting for certain things to cook and no overdone food with others. This does take some trial and error but just looking at the recommended cooking times can help. If you have something that…

Healthy Habits in 2010 - How Loud Can You Say OUCH?

I started the 30 Day Shred a week ago last Wednesday - two weeks ago tomorrow. 

OH MY LAND.

Jillian does pack quite the punch.   The workout is a real workout - no ifs, ands or 'butts' about it!  I can feel it. And I really felt it the first week - so much so I ended up with a knot in my left calf the size of a ping pong ball ( you could actually see it!).  Jillian combined with a new killer leg routine at Jazzercise was apparently just too much for my little legs to contend with.

Anyway, I'm plugging away at it - so far it's been Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I haven't hit a Saturday yet, though part of me would like to.  I go to Jazzercise Tuesday and Thursday. That gives me 5 workouts a week.  And since I'm not trying to "Shred" myself, just get more fit and add in extra workout time, I'm expecting to see "Shred" results at the end of the month.

So here's the run down according to me of the 30 Day Shred (all opinions are 100% mi…

Goals Update - One Word: Slow!

I have two words on the tip of my tongue lately when people ask how things are: "busy" and "slow."

That seems to be a contradiction in terms, but the pace is busy and the progress is slow. So I guess they go to together.

Or something like that.

I have had a number of set backs with this darn degree this semester and I only have one left to clear out and then I can begin rapid forward progress again. My goal is to get that one knocked off by Thanksgiving next week so I can go into the holiday without quite as much on my plate.

Teaching is going well, but it is keeping me busy - as it usually does.  New preps (as in preparing for a course I haven't taught recently or at all before) are time consuming.  So that is a problem.  I am having a difficult time with a few things and I have a few students who have been a real blessing as well as a real challenge.

I have pretty much relegated myself to not getting much of anything on my giant home to-do list done other th…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 14th

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Another week!  Wow!  I think I officially live in  a time warp or something - either that or I'm officially getting "old".  Who knows?  Anyway, we have another busy week ahead of us.
Here's the menu for the week: Sunday, November 14: Breakfast: Cold Cereal Lunch: Breakfast Tacos, Fruit Dinner: Baked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Fruit
Monday, November 15: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Apples Bag Lunches: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes, Fruit Snacks, Juice Box Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Fruit
Tuesday, November 16: Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Orange Wedges Dinner: Potluck at Church: Bring Fruit Salad
Wednesday, November 17: Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Raisins Bag Lunches: PB&J Sandwiches, Carrots or Tomatoes, Orange Wedges, Juice Box Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola Dinner: Harris Pizza, Salad, Fruit
Thursday, November 18: Breakfast: Waffles with Strawberry Banana Smoothies Din…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

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We woke up yesterday morning to this - a winter wonderland.  Now it's sleeting outside but as long as I stay inside, I can ignore that. :)
 This is my very excited little man who wanted to go out and play in the snow in his pajamas!
I love the look of snow. I love sledding. I love Christmas lights. And Christmas Carols. And hot cocoa with big marshmallows.
Most of all, I love the excitement on my children's faces and the light in their eyes when the snow comes!
What more can I ask for?
(BTW, the orange 'dots' on the door are pumpkin stickers.  Buddy thought that the house needed a little extra 'decorating' this year!)

Frugal Friday - Using Leftover Candy

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We got a ton of candy this Halloween and there was no way we were going to eat it all.  I froze some of the chocolate pieces (kisses, peanut butter cups, 4 full size Hershey bars, crunch and nut bars, etc) for baking at Christmas time and pulled out more hard candy than I've seen outside of a store for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. 

But we still had a ton left.

So what do I do?

Well, I got asked to bake for the Church bazaar the week after Halloween. Since I'd scored several boxes of cake mix at 88 cents a box plus 50 cents of two coupons for a grand total of 63 cents a box and some frosting for the same price.  I decided to bake 4 cakes and decorate them using candy. 

Here's how it goes:

Start with this:
Then pick these:


Add these, which I had bought for another 'project' with the kids:



Then use the candy to decorate the cakes so that you end up with these:

Skittle flowers with fruit slice 'leaves' and Pixy Stix colored sugar.


Smarties grass and flowe…

Work, Home and Family - Busy Mom Tips - Part 1

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Busy Mom Tips Part One: Meal Planning

The thing I get asked about the most when people find out we eat dinner at home about 28 nights (or more) a month and that we cook dinner, rather than buying pre-made is "How on earth do you do it!?"

For me this is normal. I grew up with a working outside-of-the home Mom and a homemade dinner on the table almost every night. Take-out or pizza was a rare treat, meaning either a special occasion or Mom was out of state visiting Grandma and Dad got to "cook". :) So, making dinner at night each night is just what's normal for me. And, yes, I've put certain meals on the table at night and thought "Ack! I'm turning into my mother!" That's okay. Really. My mom is a lovely person and she's an excellent cook. Plus, she taught me all she knows! Well, except how to milk a cow and butcher chickens. And unless I actually need those skills in my daily life at some point, I don't plan on learning!

Anyway...…

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Setting New Goals

Well, it's NOVEMBER already.  Can you believe it?  Where on earth has the year gone?  I have no idea and I'm really pretty shocked that it's already November.  It just blows my mind how fast this year has flown!

Way back in January, I set a goal to reach my target weight (165lbs) by the end of 2010. 

The short answer to whether I made progress is that I really haven't budged in weight since way back then.  I weighed in on January 12 at 175 lbs.  And guess what?  I weighed in today 174 lbs.  At least I'm holding steady! **cringe**  I know I have lost inches, and that makes me happy.  I do have a bit of a roll of fat around my hips and thighs that needs to go and hasn't budged. 

I was convinced by several people at Jazzercise to be licensed as an instructor and I will do that - after I finish this darn PhD, which won't happen until sometime next summer. 

In the mean time I need to lose that extra weight - how much credibility does a flabby and unfit aerobi…

Goals - Long Overdue Freezer Cooking Update

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That's my homemade granola from my freezer cooking week, which actually ended up being a 2-week stint.

Do you remember my colossal list?

I got almost everything done:  I skipped the calzones and cheese pizzas because I ran out of room in my freezer and ditched making the cookies and the pancake mixes since we rarely have pancakes and I ran out of time.
It was a good experiment and I'm so glad I did it!   I totally resonated with Crystal when she talked about adding things to her regular cooking rather than having a big, single cooking day.  That's the only way I could do it, certainly.

Amazingly, I got the rest done and I still have a LOT in my freezer and my cupboard:
* several of the stir fry packets
* turkey stock
* 16 bean and ham soup
* 1 frozen pizza (half cheese and half veggie)
* tomato sauce
*  1 cornbread mix
* 3 of my baking powder biscuit mixes
* half a batch of granola

This month I've done mini-apple-crisps (apple crisp in foil muffin tins frozen before …

Oh My Word!

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I think Trick-or-Treating was successful!
What do you think?
I am completely shocked at the amount of candy we got - but I have ideas for much of it and the kids do get the chips in their lunch boxes today along with some of the fruit snacks.  What a treat for them!
If I got 1/5 of this when I was a kid, it was a really successful night.
I guess times have changed.
How was your Halloween?