Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Healthy Habits in 2011 - 5lbs and 2 Inches Down!

Soooo, how's that weight loss thing going, huh?

I'm down 5lbs.
I'm also down 2 inches on my waist!

I have a pair of pants that have been snug for the last several years and I had to wear a belt with them to work yesterday to keep them from falling down to my hips. 

I LOVE that!
I have also been able to work out an average of 4 times per week for the last month.

I am giving that extra working out the credit for not gaining back those 5lbs since I spent last week eating a ton of junk food - cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, hot soft pretzels, ice cream, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I probably shouldn't even mention on a healthy habits entry! 

We had several events where we needed to eat desert and, of course, I didn't plan ahead and went with a basically empty stomach each time.  (Or I did like I did today and forgot a spoon to eat my yogurt with! Opps!)

That meant lots of eating things I shouldn't have.

We have loads of fruit in the house this week and I'm determined to eat better this week.

Fruit and vegetables if I'm hungry between meals.  A cup of yogurt if I have a long time between meals or a couple of crackers with a small piece of cheese.  Not too many calories but filling enough that I don't want to keep snacking. 

Well, that's the scoop for this week. 

How are you doing?  I'd love to hear!

Goals Update - March 28, 2011

Some days I really feel like I'm scaling Mount Everest or something equally daunting.

Writing a dissertation and jumping through all the hoops necessary to gain a Ph.D. degree is far, far, far harder than I ever imagined it would be.  I have been making steady progress on things and spring break was particularly productive for me.  I can't cross things off my sidebar yet because everything has to signed and sealed by the graduate officers before I can "officially" say they are done.  *sigh*  I have made good enough progress that people are impressed - and the right people too!  :)

Emotionally and physically the last few months have been difficult. 

I have been bogged down by the emotional impact of too many deaths of people who are far too young to die. 
I have been bogged down by the physical demands of working part time, going to school full time, being a wife and a mama, and a daughter and a friend.
I have given myself a goose egg on my forehead, sliced open the side of my nose, bruised the bone in my left elbow, broke several blood vessels in my knees and my feet, and pinched a nerve in my neck.
I have had 3 migraines.

Saturday morning I sat in Bible Study and finally asked the lovely ladies of my group to pray for me and for John as we go through this time in our lives. 

Another women there, M, is in the midst of a very stressful situation herself and suggested that I don't think about the next 2-3years (the time it will take for John to finish his degree), but in terms of this week, this day or this hour, depending on how stressful things are.

Another woman, W, suggested that I think about what I can do rather than what I can't do.  Even if I can't finish all of something right now, what can I do?  For example, can I fold half a load of laundry even if I can't fold the whole thing?  Can I grade 6 papers even if I can't grade the whole stack?  Can I dust the 3 shelves on this bookshelf even though I'd really like to clean out the bookshelf instead? 

Both of these things were really helpful - I knew then in my head, but hearing how those two dear women used them (M in her current situation and W in her life as a mom of 3 and an ICU nurse) helped immensely.

Two weeks ago I hit a 'wall'.  I was so ready to change everything and I started to try.  I was feeling so frustrated that I couldn't do it all and change things as fast as I would like them to and be what I wanted to be right now.

I have had great productivity in the last 72 hours since that Bible Study.
I have gotten 1/2 of the rest of my atrocious home office cleaned out (really!).
I have gotten all the rest of my back-log of grading done.
I have gotten through the last bit of data matching I needed to do for my dissertation.
I have gotten through a stack of laundry the size of a mountain.
I have done a pile of mending
I have played 3 games of UNO with my kids.
I cleaned out my fridge/freezer.
I have gotten someone to do a reliability study on my data for me.
I have had 3 deep and meaningful conversations with my husband.
I have played with toys or blocks or dolls several times with my kids.
I have read 4 books to my kids.
I have washed dishes, cleaned the kitchen, swept and washed floors, and done a whole host of other chores.

Being reminded that God's grace is sufficient and He won't set me to any task that He won't provide for the completion of makes a world of difference.

One week at a time.
One day at a time.
One hour at a time.
One task at a time.

In the here and now.

I am truly blessed and feel so grateful to M and W for their wisdom.  Can you say a little prayer for them today?  Just as a way of saying thank you.  And to maybe bless their way a bit too?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of March 27th, 2011

I think I live in a time warp.  One minute it's Thursday and then *poof* it's the following Monday!  Where, oh where, does the time go?

We've done a fantastic job of sticking to the grocery budget of $40 per week lately.  I'm very pleased with that.  We spent $37 this week and that means we have $43 for next week.  I'm confident we can do it since our house is overflowing with food  - at least that's the way it seems!  We got a lot of fruit and vegetables this week on really good deals so we're eating heavy in those areas this week.   Included in those are 2 pints each of blackberries and blueberrys, 1 lb strawberries, a melon, 2 containers of baby portobello mushrooms, a head a broccoli, a 2lb bag of salad, 6lbs of oranges and 10lbs of potatoes!   I think we're good for a while with those things!

Here's the menu:

Sunday, March 27th:
    Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
    Lunch:  Leftover BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches, Blackberry-Strawberry-Banana Salad
    Dinner: Baked Tilapia, Couscous, Salad, Blackberry-Strawberry-Grape-Blueberry Salad

Monday, March 28th:
   Breakfast; Quinnoa with Apples, Walnuts and Cinnamon
   Bag Lunches: Apples Slices with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks, Cookie
   Snack for Mom: Orange and Cheese Stick
   Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Apple-Blackberry-Blueberry Salad

Tuesday, March 29th:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
   Dinner: Portobello Mushroom, Broccoli, Onion and Potato Saute, Strawberry-Blackberry-Blueberry-Banana Salad

Wednesday, March 30th:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins with Bananas or Orange Wedges
   Bag Lunches: PB&J Wraps, Applesauce, Carrots, Cookie
   Snack for Mom: Crackers and Cheese
   Dinner: At Church for Lent

Thursday, March 31st:
   Breakfast: Banana Bread and Orange Wedges
   Dinner:  Pork Loin, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Blueberry-Apple-Banana Salad

Friday, April 1st:
   Breakfast: Blueberry Muffins with Orange Wedges
   Lunch:  Hot lunch for the kids, Leftovers for Grown Ups
   Dinner:  Leftovers for Kids, Out for Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 2nd:
  Breakfast: Cinnamon Braided Bread and Bananas
  Lunch: Vegetable Soup, Tuna Wraps, Carrots, Celery, Melon
  Dinner: Crab Cakes, Salad, Melon-Apple-Banana Salad

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kid Funny

My Buddy loves, loves, loves dinosaurs and has talked for two-plus years now about being a paleontologist when he grows up.  My parents bought him a National Geographic DVD on dinosaur excavations for Christmas.  It was on back-order and just arrived last week. 

While watching it one evening the whole thing went something like this:

Narrator: "This 167 Million Year Old Dinosaur...."

Buddy:  "Mom!  That's older than you are!  No, wait...That's even older than Grandpa is!"

Umm, thanks, Buddy. 

I think.


What more can I ask for?

In the Refiner's Fire - God is There

Last night's Lenten sermon was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have been struggling with my faith for several years now and in that last six months or so, I've realized that I really am very, very Lutheran.

You see, the Lutheran faith has something that most other denominations of the Christian church don't have - the idea that secular and sacred intermingle and that we are simultaneously sinner and saint in one.  The idea that our salvation is handed to us by God regardless of what we do to 'deserve' it is the main pin of this philosophy.

I can't do enough to earn my salvation, no matter what I do, and I am despirately in need of God's grace and forgiveness because I am far too sinful a person.  This is where Jesus dying on the cross comes in - He is the final sacrifice for my sin, I don't have to do a thing but believe.  The "good works" piece enters in in allowing God in Christ to work through me - the good works are truly His, not mine.

So often we get caught up in what is "Christian" and what is not. 

I listen to "Christian" music, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who listens to "secular" music.
I haven't been divorced, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who has been divorced.
I only do business with "Christians", so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who does business with anyone.
I don't wear mini-skirts, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who doesn't.
I work for a "Christian" business, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who works in the "secular" world.

I have seen "Christian" products that belittle and demean. 
I have seen "Christian" businesses with shady business practices and inflated prices. 
I have seen " Christians" wearing clothes that meet the letter for "modest" (skirts, ankle length, not elbows or collar bones) but were so tight that they left nothing to the imagination (and I was surprised that they weren't splitting seams left and right). 

I have also seen "secular" products that uplift and edify.
I have also seen "secular" businesses with impecible business practices and excellent prices.
I have also heard "secular" music that edifies and asks difficult and important questions, making the listener think about others and their needs.

The sermon last night asked us to think of the following:

Finally, brothers, 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.
Philippians 4:8

If something is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, God is there.
No matter if the label given to it is "Christian" or "secular".

And sometimes the secular can bring someone into the realm of the sacred. 

And isn't that more important than the label we give something?

Something to think about anyway.

Soli Deo Glora.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life at Our House...

These last few weeks have been hard emotionally around here.

First my cousin took her beautiful 2 1/2 year old off life support.

Then I had a 3-day-long allergic reaction between my medications and something I ate, which meant I had to cancel class and stay in bed and deal with a digestive track that was swollen beyond belief. 

Then I had to play catch-up from all the stuff I'd missed and didn't get done.

Then the kids had spring break with no daycare so we had to juggle schedules and random babysitters and too much of the neighbor child (who is a complete terror!).

Then we had a meeting with our Pastor about a lot of not-so-good-things that had been happening at our church.  We thought the meeting would have been decisive and it wasn't.  It just made us more confused.

We've been attending another church in the area and it's been wonderful, but it's not "home", which makes me feel adrift and unsupported.

Buddy lost his glasses - they're not in the house and they can't find them at school.   And he lost a mitten too.

Missy has been on a continual grumpy trip, which has culminated in growing 2 inches and needing new shoes and new pants (thankfully I can let down her skirt hems).

Now I have a sinus infection, yet again.

I know that God is way bigger than any of my problems and He knows exactly why these things are happening all at once.

I am so angry, hurt and frustrated about all the things at church.
I am terrified for my cousin's health and well being - she is in a truly dark place right now.
I am so weary of all the day-to-day 'stuff' that clutters my life - even though I know everyone has the same things going on!
I am tired of being sick all the time.
I am tired of the gray weather and the snow and the yuck and muddy footprints in my kitchen.

I am grateful that I can lean on God. 
That I can rant and rave and shake my fist. 
And He smiles like I do when my children are having a fit for no particularly good reason that I can see. 
He waits until I'm ready and then comforts me and holds me and guides me to the next thing I have to do.

What do people do who don't have God and have all the trials and tribulations of life?  I don't think I want to know. 

I know for sure I couldn't continue without it.

We're working on getting back to 'normal' around here - or whatever counts as normal, that is.  I'm hopeful that I'll get back to a regular blogging schedule here again since I'm finally 2 weeks ahead with my course stuff for teaching and I've made some significant progress with some school and house things as well (spring break is a wonderful thing!). 

Thanks for the prayers and your online friendship. I so appreciate it!

Menu Plan Wednesday - Week of March 20th, 2011

The fabulously decadent breakfast we had on our anniversary weekend last year! Yum!

Now, I'm not putting together anything nearly as fancy as the meal above - though it sure does look good, doesn't it?  That was such a nice memory and it was so warm that weekend!  We have more SNOW today. Ugh.  I'm SO ready for spring and we had been teased for the last several days - including spring coats out over the weekend.  I know that spring is coming.  For some reason this winter has seemed far longer than normal.

So, back to the whole menu thing... what are we eating this week?

Sunday, March 20:
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: Baked Eggs, Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists, Apple-Grape-Banana Salad
Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Apple-Grape-Banana Salad

Monday, March 21:
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Bag Lunches: Turkey Sandwiches, Applesauce, Carrots or Tomatoes, Cookie
Dinner: Spaghetti with Garlic Bread, Salad, Orange Wedges

Tuesday, March 22:
Breakfast: Yogurt and Bananas
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, March 23:
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Bag Lunches: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Yogurt, Applesauce, Cookie
Dinner:  At Church for Lenten Supper

Thursday, March 24:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
Dinner: Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Salad, Apple and Pear Slices

Friday, March 25:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Raisins and Cinnamon
Bag Lunches: Hot Lunch for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
Dinner: Leftovers

Saturday, March 26:
Breakfast: Out for All (Bible Studies)
Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Carrots and Celery, Apple Slices
Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Salad, Apple and Pear Slices
Desert: Kids at a Birthday Party, Coffee/Cocoa Date out for Mom and Dad

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more menu planning inspiration.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows

Well, I think spring is finally starting to spring around here - we had rain today instead of snow and it's been quite warm comparatively around here (in the low to mid 40's F).  I'm hoping!

In the meantime, it still feels COLD!

One thing that I really love during cold weather is hot cocoa.

My cousin made us some homemade hot cocoa mix and homemade mint marshmallows!  YUM!  A dear friend had made me cocoa and mocha mixes for Christmas as well.  YUM again!  I LOVE IT!

I've had to work hard at not having more than one cup with 4 marshmallows per day...yes, it's that good.

Since I'm trying to loose that pesky extra weight I've had hanging around since my babies were born how many years ago now, I've found that this is the perfect afternoon 'snack'.  Perfect for when I'm not hungry, but want something or when I'm not hungry but am having a sweets craving attack.

Add in a quiet house, a warm throw, and a favorite book and I'd say that's got to be my perfect afternoon!

Truly hot chocolate is one of my favorite things!
What more can I ask for?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Frugal Friday - Comforting the Grieving

Whew - these last two weeks have been a blur and one of the things that happened was my cousin taking her little daughter off life support and the subsequent funeral.

All of that really made me think about what we do as a family to comfort the grieving. 

We've experienced so many losses ourselves in the now 12 1/2 years we've been married - 3 grandparents, 4 uncles, 6 cousins, and numerous friends and further flung family. 

What have I appreciated during those times? What have I not appreciated? What was necessary? What was nice but ultimately not necessary? What was helpful? 

My short list of things that I really and truly appreciated and were comforted by was this:

* Thoughts
* Prayers
* Companionship

None of these things need to cost money, only time. 

Attending the funeral of the mother of some dear friends of ours and stopping, calling or emailing to see who they were was far more appreciated by the friends than the dinner we brought over (the dinner was a nice extra).

Calling my aunts on their daughter's birthdays and saying "I'm thinking of you and wondering how you're doing." was more appreciated than the sympathy cards I'd written at the time of the funeral. Making sure someone stops in to see my Uncle on his son's birthday is also appreciated (he lives well out of town or I'd go myself and he's now deaf so I can't call him). 

Note cards saying I'm thinking of you and praying are cheap and so is postage.  An email would work and be free of cost too.

I've realized through the last several years that companionship and the knowledge that others care and understand that you are hurting is far more important than impressive flower displays, monetary donations, and funeral attendance.

Meals so I didn't have to cook, the dear 14-year-old neighbor boy who brought over Halloween candy so my children wouldn't miss Halloween one year, and lovely plants are all nice and very much appreciated.  What I appreciated more was the knowledge the someone cared enough to bring them or send them. 

Comforting someone who is grieving doesn't have to be expensive, it only has to come from the heart and take a little time.

For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Healthy Habits in 2011 - Weight Loss Challenge

So, me being me, I decided that I needed some outside accountability in my little weight loss journey.

When Jazzercise started their Jazz It Off! promotion this month, I decided I'd do it. 

Never mind that I hate public accountability of my very personal habits.
Never mind that I REALLY don't need a single other thing on my plate right now.  REALLY.
Never mind that in order to do that I need to add two more exercise sessions a week to my current crowded schedule.
Never mind that when I'm on a "diet" all I can think about it food - I rarely think about food when I'm not "dieting."


Last week was the first week.

I chose my weigh-in day as Thursday.

I attended 4 classes between last Tuesday and today.

I watched what I've eaten more than I have for a long time  and asked myself a lot if I was truly hungry or eating because I was bored.  Mostly the answer was "bored". 

I went to a baby shower on Saturday afternoon and ate only 1 small piece of cake - whoo hoo!

I weighed myself today 'just for fun' - on the same scale at the same time of day as I had last Thursday.


Never mind that I'm sure at least half of that is water.
Never mind that I may have been wearing my shoes last Thursday (I can't remember!)
Never mind that when I weigh myself on Thursday I'll probably be a pound or two over what I was last week.
(I'm hoping that even if two or three pounds of it is water weight, I'll still have lost something!)

I'll take the encouragement if nothing else.

And I'm making tangible progress at least in making some changing that I've been wanting to make for a while.

How are you doing? I'd love to hear!

Menu Plan, er, Tuesday - Week of March 6, 2011

The Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake I made for Thanksgiving! (Before adding the powdered sugar topping.)
I just thought this looked yummy tonight...

We made a big 'stock up' run this weekend and spent $65 for a whole bunch of stuff.  We also received a large cooler full of meat - venison and bear - from my cousin who bagged two bucks and a very, very (~600lbs) large bear this year.  I'm grateful that we received some 'extras' with that - it makes it easier to 'stretch' things with fabulous gifts like that.  Don't worry, my cousin gives most of his meat to his son - who has a very low income and 4 children to feed, so we get the leftovers after he helps them and himself!  I should be easily able to stick to my budget of $15 for this next week with all the 'stuff' we have in the house presently. 

With all that, what are we eating this week?

Sunday, March 6:
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: French Bread, Cheese, Fruit
Dinner: Salmon, Tortilla Chips, Mango Salsa, Grape-Strawberry-Banana Salad

Monday, March 7:
Breakfast: French Toast with Bananas
Bag Lunches:  PB&J, applesauce, popcorn, carrots or tomatoes, cookie
Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola
Dinner: Baked Beans, Tortilla Chips, Spinach Salad, Grape-Strawberry-Banana Salad

Tuesday, March 8:
Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack for Mom: Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, PB&J, Grapes

Wednesday, March 9, Ash Wednesday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
Bag Lunches: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes, Popcorn, Cookie
Snack for Mom: Yogurt with Granola
Dinner: Fundraiser at Church

Thursday, March 10:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Walnuts and Peaches
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack for Mom: Almonds and Dried Fruit
Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes, Grape-Apple-Banana Salad

Friday, March 11:
Breakfast: Chai Spiced Oatmeal
Bag Lunches:  Hot Lunch for Kids, Leftovers for Mom and Dad
Snack for Mom: Apple with Peanut Butter
Dinner: Leftovers

Saturday, March 12:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Bread, Banana-Peach Smoothies
Lunch: Minestrone Soup, Tuna Sandwiches, Grapes
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese, Apple or Pear Slices for the Kids, Out for Mom and Dad

Even though the Lutheran Church observes Lent, we do not do the fish on Friday thing that our Catholic friends do.  So, we'll stick with Leftovers! 

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Prayers Please

My cousin's disabled toddler is in organ failure (liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart) and she and her husband have to decide if life support is something they want to continue.

My cousin is struggling with a belief that God is taking away her children becuase she is "a horrible person" (her words).  She burried her son in 2003.  They have no living children other than this darling little girl who is now at the end of her short life.

Please pray for the Y. family.  They need the prayers so despirately.

And go hug your children and thank God for them - whether they are healthy or not. They are ALWAYS a blessing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Work Home and Family - Making My House a Home

So this is definitely not the best picture in the world, but it shows you one of the things that I do to make my house a home. 

This was the Valentine's Day gift I made for my children. The blue/green chain is for Buddy and the pink/purple chain is for Missy.  Each link is a printout of my "Gratefulness Journal" for that person.  Then I made them into a chain with heart-shaped links.  Yes, all 365 days of them from 2010 into a chain for each person for Valentine's Day 2011.  I have a journal for John too and made a chain for him too - a red/orange one.  And I hung them around the house, making the whole place feel festive!

Each day I write down one thing I am grateful for with each member of my family.

This goes a long way to keeping my attitude the right attitude.

I just spent a weekend with a group of women who, for the most part (like any of us) are wonderful, caring, loving women.  They spent the entire weekend complaining about their spouses and kids.  Part of it, I'm sure, is just having a sympathetic ear who understands the day-to-day frustration of picking up after others, re-cleaning thing after thing, and the like.  I did make me wonder how much they did it at home - it was that automatic.

It's really hard to be cranky at people when you're grateful.

And thus my "Gratefulness Journal".  Today's entries in my journals look  like this:

Buddy:  "I'm grateful that Buddy like to 'spike' his hair - he looks so cute with it that way!"

Missy: "I'm grateful that we were able to get a doctor's appointment for Missy today." (She has what we think is a bladder infection).

John: "I'm so grateful for all John has done for me and continues to do for me on a daily basis. I'm so blessed to be his wife!" (He took care of several things that normally aren't his responsibility this week so that I could deal with yet another relative who was admitted to the hospital in critical condition this week).

Sometimes it's really hard to find something to be grateful for. Missy, for example, has been cranky and fussy and just plain a bit of a pain to be around the last few days.  Last night she went to the bathroom about two dozen times in two hours and told us it hurt to urinate.  Now I know why she's been so cranky.  And yes, I'm grateful we know why.  I'm even more grateful to have good medical care available to take care of the bladder infection.

Being grateful makes life so much easier.  And it makes my house a home.

If I'm grateful, it's much easier to keep my house clean, my family taken care of and my things in good repair.

Keeping my gratefulness journals take less than 5 minutes per day.
But they make so much of a difference.

What do you do to make your house a home? I'd love to hear!