Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm here....just trying to organize life a little!

The whirlwind of Christmas brought lots of gatherings, late nights of wrapping presents, and the hustle and bustle of making sure we were where we needed to be with everything we needed. And with that, I am taking the week off of work to organize things in our home. I get so overwhelmed sometimes with the amount of "stuff" we have in the house and I tend to put it up on a shelf, shut it in a closet, and simply forget about it until I become aware that I could possibly end up on an episode of "Hoarders". ha! Well, it's not that bad, but it could get that way if I don't take time to address issue at least once every few months!

I hope that you and yours had an amazing Christmas season and that the magic of Santa and the blessed birth of Christ gave you a chance to reflect on your life and that you are where you are supposed to be and that you are surrounded by positive family and friends that make you better people. Most of all, my wish for you is that the new year brings you great things in your life. I have a few personal goals that I'm determined to meet this year and I have been overwhelmed with support from my family and friends.....so I'm looking forward to sharing those with you as I meet them.

One of my goals (not mentioned above) for this year is to read a little more. And in starting that already, I read something yesterday that is going to be my quote for this year and I think it's something we can all use to start the new year with - best wishes to you in all that you wish to accomplish this year.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Maria Robinson

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Living Within Your Means

This time of year it seems as though every where you turn you are spending money on one thing or another. With much planning and saving we usually do okay and this year is no exception. The bigger the children get, the bigger and more expensive their toys are - so I watch sales very closely, set a budget, and you can always find me out on Black Friday snagging those deals and like this year, I got the shopping done for our children in one day.

I was feeling good about the gifts I purchased for everyone this year, including our children until a friend presented the question yesterday of "How many gifts do you give your children each year?" and in reading the responses I felt a little pang of guilt because some people responded "two" or "a few small gifts and then candy in their stocking".....our children will have several gifts under the tree.....several. Now, I enforce throughout the year and especially this time of year giving to others in need. My children know about the Crisis Nursery in our area and how we donate money to them to help children in need, they go to the Humane Society with me to walk dogs, and they know that the toys and clothes that I frequently package up are going to children that might not be able to have those things otherwise. And during the Christmas season, they are actively involved in church activities and we know that Jesus is the reason for the season. Should I feel guilty about in addition to teaching them giving and compassion for others, that my husband and I spoil them just a little bit with an abundance of gifts?

My husband and I live within our means - our home is nearly 30 years old, our car is a '98, we shop sales, and I'm a little fanatical about being frugal. But when it comes to our kids and Christmas - it's so fun to spoil them just a little bit! And it's not like I go all out and buy them whatever they want at full price.....no way, not me! ha! ha! But in reading the responses I felt a bit of guilt - are we giving them too much?

This morning during my prayers I thought about the phrase "living within your means" and I think that it can be applied to all aspects of life - are you living within your means not only financially, but spiritually, physically, within your relationships, etc. And I think that if you aren't excessive in your life as a whole and you work hard, do for others, and live your life within your means - then at Christmas it's okay to spoil your children just a little.....because nothing gives me more joy than to see the sparkle in their eye and the happiness in their voices when they see that Santa has come to our home and given them gifts. The season is magical because of all aspects and I get sucked into it because it's for my children.

Are you living within your means? Are you meeting the needs of every point in your life? If you are, then you are doing well. If you find there is excess in some areas and a need in others, make a point to make changes. There is nothing that says it's too late to make changes in your life. And after typing all of this out I feel good about how Randy and I are raising our children and on Christmas morning - whether they are getting one present or 100 presents (which, by the way, they're not....not even close) - they will be excited, happy, and full of joy and they will appreciate whatever it is they receive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I have learned in my 33rd year

I'm slowly approaching the age of 34......8 days to be exact......and while I had some time for reflection yesterday I realized that I learned a lot about relationships this year. Ever since I started really looking at my life as a journey each year has taught me a lot about one particular thing - one year it was a year of self-discovery, one year focused a lot on my marriage, another year focused on being healthy, etc. And this year has been all about the ins and outs of relationships as a whole.

Here are some recaps of the life lessons I have learned this year:
  • Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. There is a saying that I love and it's "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle" and it's so true.
  • Don't give up too much of yourself for someone else's happiness. This is a little tricky and I often find myself taking on too much for others and some times I spread myself a little too thin and as result I get stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Learn to say no.
  • When someone challenges your character, while it might feel necessary to respond, goodness, kindness, and true friendship will shine through all the time. Hold your head up high and carry yourself with dignity and grace.
  • Adversity builds character.
  • Friendships should be the least stressful relationship in your life - nothing is better than sitting around with your true friends and laughing, talking, venting, crying, and figuring out that everyones lives are crazy and that you're normal!
  • There is a huge difference when someone is creating their life story vs. living their life story. Don't create your life story, live your life story every day - living the life you were meant to live means that you are living every day with honesty.
  • Change can be good, letting go is hard, and the truth does hurt.
  • Being a good friend means following this.....the more you see, the less you should speak; the less you speak, the more you hear.
  • When someone threatens your character, their character is threatened.

As you can see.....I have learned some tough lessons in regards to relationships and I know that in my life journey I will learn so much more. However, in this new year, my goal is to pay less attention to the people/things that don't mean as much to me and more attention to the people/things that mean the most to me. The white noise that sometimes inflicts our lives shouldn't affect our life - if you don't pay any attention to it, eventually it will blend in to the background.

I am looking forward to the wisdom, the challenges, the moments that will define me, and oh so much happiness in my life this year. I never really thought about where I was going to be at the age of 34 and I think that I was meant to be right where I am at this moment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

One of my favorite songs during the holiday season - the mentions of comfort and joy; and the mention of true love and brotherhood always bring me to the true meaning of Christmas. In our community we have a place called the Crisis Nursery where children can find a safety net during times of strife in their lives. Single parents have a partner in childcare, home visits by counselors to assist with making sure their child/children are developing in the manner they are supposed to, and the Crisis Nursery meets the needs of children by helping to supply diapers, formula, etc.

In an effort to support the Crisis Nursery our family makes it an annual tradition to shop at the holiday shop where our children go in with their list and their money and they buy for us. They get to choose from donated gifts and it's sometimes very interesting when you open your gifts on Christmas day.....my husband got a toy golf set from Noah last year and it was just something that Noah had actually wanted for himself! ha! Logan, our oldest child, puts more thought into it than Noah and is very sweet with the gifts he chooses.

I am happy to report that Logan's 2nd grade class has decided to give gifts to the Crisis Nursery this year in lieu of doing a gift exchange. Logan was familiar with their holiday shop and the concept behind it, so he was really excited about this. And as a mother I am really happy that the concept of the "season of giving" is being taught in other places in my children's lives because there is a better chance of the message getting through! ha!

I urge you to find places in your area that do similar things - there are always bell ringers, the angel tree at the mall, serving food at shelters - whatever is appropriate for your children and family. Find a way to bring the message of true love and brotherhood into your traditions during the holiday season. I know that it's not always easy and if you have fallen on hard times yourself, don't forget that these resources are out there if you need them. Just don't forget to pay it forward when you get back on your feet. ; )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Recipe For Joy

I am a firm believer in giving your time and efforts to charities all the time, however, around Christmas I think it's especially important because I simply cannot imagine my children waking up Christmas morning and having nothing under the tree and no food in the pantry. The thought of any child having to live through that is painful.

We have always made due and had a rough spot in our lives where I didn't know if we would be able to afford much for the children at Christmas. At that time Wal-Mart still did layaway and I don't think we could have managed if I hadn't been able to do that. Our children never knew how stretched we were and how we scrimped and saved to put those gifts under the tree - all they know is that they had a great Christmas that year.

With that I have been inspired by another blogger, Dawn at Because I Said So, to participate in “Recipe for Joy” through Kraft. Kraft Foods has teamed up with Feeding America to donate up to one million meals to needy families this holiday season. For every free e-card sent, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America. Which is very cool and would be a blessing to many families.

All you have to do is go HERE and send a free holiday greetings e-card to your friends, family, coworkers, etc. and they will get a nice personalized greeting from you. PLUS, for every e-card sent, Kraft will donate 10 meals to Feeding America - so send as many as you can because they are donating up to one million meals.

Feeding America directly supports 205 member food banks and Kraft Foods is a long standing partner of Feeding America. Over the last 25 years, Kraft Foods has contributed $770 million in funding and food to support Feeding America and other hunger relief initiatives worldwide. By partnering with organizations, such as Feeding America, Kraft Foods provides much-needed food to hungry people throughout the United States. For more information about Feeding America, log on to http://www.feedingamerica.org/.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Living your life outloud

I have nothing to hide, I am an open book and I heard the term "Living Your Life Outloud" today and I think it describes me very well. I don't mind telling you what I think, feel, am going through.....like I said, I have nothing to hide. My marriage isn't perfect, my kids are sometimes a little nutty, I make mistakes, etc. - I'm normal - at least that's what one of my voices has told me! ha! But I live my life outloud and I don't feel bad about it.

My husband on the other hand, feels that I should be less open with putting out there that our child has ADHD with anxiety tendencies, or that our marriage isn't perfect, or that I'm even having a bad day. I don't know if this is because he's a guy who burps when he's happy, farts when his tummy is full, and grunts as a form of communication. I'm just kidding, he talks sometimes! ; ) He is technically challenged and he doesn't fully understand social networks or blogging - he just doesn't get why anyone would care that I'm hungry and looking for lunch ideas.

And I have to wonder, am I putting myself or my family at risk by living my life outloud? This goes back to my question of are we making ourselves too available to the masses and revealing personal information about ourselves that we might not otherwise reveal to others? I think that the extent of information you reveal is indicative of the kind of person you are in real life, not just virtually. If I wasn't on social networks or blogging and we were standing next to each other in line at the grocery store, I just might reveal to you that I'm hungry for a cheeseburger or that my son has ADHD.....I live my life that way - I have nothing to hide and I feel like in sharing the stories of my life might help others who are feeling the same way.

I have a friend who follows politics closely and has strong opinions about how things are run in the United States and she's not afraid to tell you how she feels. I have another friend who is very Christian and is not afraid to tell you if you are not following the word of God or offers you a bible verse to get you through a tough spot. These friends live their lives outloud and I don't think it's harming anyone, if anything I've learned so much from these women. But others that choose not to voice their opinions on politics or religion might take offense to what these women reveal.

I think that if you are active in an organization, or there is something that you are passionate about that you should voice this to others. If you have nothing to hide in your life and are proud of everything, including all of your flaws, you should share your stories so that people around you can look to you as a source of information or support. I love my husband and sons and am so proud of them all - are they flawed? Yes. Should they be judged for that? Absolutely not. But I do think that sometimes one can reveal too much about themselves and maybe live a little too outloud. And I do hope that I don't do that, I hope that the volume of information that I provide is not too loud - because I would never want to jeopardize my family, I've done that before and it's not a moment that I'm proud of.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Technology Overload

I have been thinking about this a lot lately....how does technology influence your life? Is it a positive or a negative or a little of both? I feel a little overwhelmed sometimes by e-mails, texting, social networks, blogging and everything that comes with it. Because of technology we are accessible to our family, friends, and world wide web acquaintances literally 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Is that healthy? Does that leave us with any time for our life outside of technology? Don't we need at least the commute home to unwind, shut out the world, and quiet our minds?

And in addition to being completely accessible to everyone, how do we handle "tech rejection"? You know what I'm talking about - someone deletes you from a social network, someone you send a text or e-mail to doesn't respond, and a person you know that has their phone with them all the time doesn't answer your call. This is a new form of rejection and I had a difficult enough time dealing with rejection in real life and now I have to deal with this? How do you respond to this new type of rejection? Is there a "Living Your Life Through Technology For Dummies".

Technology allows people to be more candid and ruthless than they might otherwise be in person. People feel less inhibited with their words and I think because the person isn't standing in front of you its easier to be brutally honest and forget that the words on the screen are creating an emotional reaction. Social networks are rampant with teenage angst and bullying and this goes for adults too.....people put themselves out there and sometimes the reactions aren't kind.

I do feel like technology has helped me stay connected to people that I might not otherwise hear from unless it was through the mail or over the phone and for that I am thankful. But on the negative side I have to wonder if I have made myself too accessible to others? Have I enabled others to affect me in a negative way because they have deleted me from a social network site, or never answer my texts/e-mails/phone calls? Have I revealed too much about my life, my family, my dysfunctions and put more judgement on myself or my family?

Are you on technology overload? In our efforts to simplify our lives can we live without technology? And if so, how do we manage these types of relationships if they can disappear as quickly as you hit the delete button?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Set your goals and just go

"Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: 'I'm with you kid. Let's go.'" Maya Angelou
I know that New Year's Eve is the time for people to make resolutions for the new year with hopes to change the events in their life that they didn't like and make it all better. But I believe that at any time you can set a goal for yourself and "just do it". I dabble in eating right and exercising, it's one of those things that if I have time for it I do it and but it's not consistent. I notice this mainly when I go to put on something that could show off toned arms I want to scream because my arms are not tone and are creeping up slowly to the dreaded "Hello Mary Arms". **sound the Psycho shower scene music here**
I am a working mother and a wife and I am busy with everyone else's life it seems and I am making it a goal from this day forward to schedule time for me. I am going to take time to take care of myself and to eat right and exercise regularly. Now....I am having this epiphany on Thanksgiving Day - a day when I will attend two family celebrations and eat so much crap that Randy will roll me home. AND I am doing this during the cold months which is when my Lupus flares up the most. But I am determined to take control of this desire to be fit and follow through with it.
Now, in doing this I have documented that I am making this pact with myself to make an effort to workout religiously and to eat right. I am so inspired by my Facebook friends that workout religiously and they are just as busy, if not busier than me......so for that I am thankful. Today before I eat all of the great food at each family celebration I am going to workout and I will let the kids know that during that 45-60 minute time period it's my time and unless they are bleeding, leave me alone! ha!
So if you have had some goals in mind start them today....take charge of your life and make something happen for yourself. You can do it and I will support you 100% of the way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I am thankful for

I know, it sounds like a cheesy grade school essay, but in thinking about my life today I realized how much I have to be thankful for. Life is so hectic and crazy sometimes and we just forget about how blessed we really are. We become so wrapped up in the chaos of marriage, parenting, work, extra-curricular activities that some times it is so important to stop and look around at the life around you and appreciate each and every moment.

I feel like every person in my life makes me a better person and I am so thankful with everything that I've been given in my life - life gives you what you give it and because of my solid foundation and the great people that I've surrounded myself with that I have been given a great life. This year on Thanksgiving Day and every day following tell the people around you how thankful you are to have them in your life. Nobody is perfect, but if you surround yourself with goodness that's what you will get in return. Happy Thanksgiving everyone - I wish you many blessings today, tomorrow, and always.

"In every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong; honor that; try to imitate it, and your faults will drop off like dead leaves when their time comes." John Ruskin

Friday, November 20, 2009

Before you point your finger, stop and look at how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Sound advice from the Christian radio station that I frequently listen to. I have found myself in situations recently where there has been a lot of finger pointing and I've had to stop myself from pointing back because I know that I am not perfect and I'm willing to accept myself for who I am. I look at the individuals who have done the finger pointing and know that deep down I am the scapegoat for their life issues - does it bother me? A little. Does it change me? Not anymore. I am a grown woman, a wife, a mother.....I have the weight of my own life on my shoulders and refuse to carry anyone else's.

When you point your finger at someone think about the real reason you are doing it. Are you just really unhappy in your own life and it's easier than facing your own problems? I know I'm guilty of doing that - it's easier to point out someone else's flaws rather than really looking at your own. Nobody is perfect and I have found in my journey through life that sometimes it's so much easier to laugh at yourself and say "I'm an idiot, I'm so sorry for what I said/did, etc." and everyone can move on. Accepting yourself, flaws and all is not a simple life lesson and can some times be a very difficult pill to swallow - but it means your human.

I recently had someone tell me something that was being said about me and I didn't react to it like they thought I should - I just took it all in and said "If that's what they think, that's fine, but I know the truth" and they acted as if I should create a scene, a confrontation, clear the air.....but like I said, I know the truth and the truth is what will carry me through any situation. Would I feel better screaming and yelling and carrying on? Not really, maybe for a moment, but screaming at someone at my age just makes me look crazy - ha!

So if you are in a situation right now where fingers are being pointed at you, terrible things are being said, and your character is being challenged - look at the source, look at the real reason they are doing what they are doing. Are they so incredibly unhappy and miserable in their own life that they are willing to put you out there so nobody will really look at them? Probably. Stand strong, be your own person, and be comfortable with the truth.

Some things don't warrant a response and I have had to bite my tongue many many times this past year in different situations - and it's for the best. I am comfortable with myself, my flawed, imperfect self, that is in a marriage that at times seems so dysfunctional, with children that are far from Peter and Bobby Brady, and family that is just sometimes laughably insane.

Don't you look at me so smug
And say I'm going bad.
Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?

I know that I'm not perfect
And that I don't claim to be.
So before you point your fingers,
Be sure your hands are clean.

Judge not
Before you judge yourself.
Judge not
If you're not ready for judgement. Woah oh oh!

The road of life is rocking
And you may stumble too.
So while you talk about me,
someone else is judging you.

**Bob Marley**

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wholey Chicken Batman

I have to admit, I've been a chicken snob for many years - if it wasn't boneless/skinless chicken breast I wanted no part of it. Well, along my journey to frugalness, I have found that you can have chicken without the major hit on your pocket book! When I see bone-in chicken breasts on sale for $0.88/lb. I get super excited! I know now how to remove the skin, cut the meat of the bone and package it up in the freezer for another day......woo hoo! AND if you are like I was and you're buying those bags of chicken breasts.....they are full of sodium because they're frozen in basically a salt water bath - just a side note for those of you trying to lose weight.

More recently I have discovered whole chickens.....initially I thought - what the heck am I going to do with a whole chicken? Well, at $0.49/lb. I was willing to learn! I have made several meals out of a whole chicken along with chicken stock.

Here is what I have learned from SO many of the great blogs that I rely on -

Step #1 - place the whole chicken in the crock pot with celery, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, a little pat of butter and about 1/2 cup of water. Let cook 8 -10 hours.

Step #2 - remove the chicken from the crock pot and let cool - remove skin and bones and return all of that to the crock pot (instructions for that will follow). With the meat you have from the chicken, shred it up and package it into 1lb. packages (or whatever you like). The last time I did this I ended up with four little baggies of chicken. Go through this really well with your fingers - chicken bones can be little. Put in the freezer and save for future use.

Step #3 - all of the stuff in the crock pot will now be made into a rich, beautiful chicken stock! Just fill the crock pot with water - leaving all the skin, bones, left over veggies in there and leave it on low for 8 - 10 hours. After it cools a bit, you can strain out all of the garbage and package up the chicken broth into whatever portion size you would like and stick in the freezer for a rainy day.

A 5lb. chicken that cost me $2.45 can go a really long way - 4 packages of shredded meat and 8 containers of chicken stock. I think that's a great bargain and it's so healthy for all of us!

Why am I talking about whole chickens today....I got a call from my child's school that our youngest was running a fever. In addition to that he is stuffed up and has a bit of a cough. So, in a victorious "planning ahead, best mommy in the world" moment - after I made him a bed on the couch and got him settled, I was able to whip up a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup using two packages of broth, two cups of water, some sauteed garlic/onion/carrot, a package of shredded chicken, and a bag of egg noodles. I know I feel better.....and I'm hoping that he will too.

So far I have used the chicken to make white bean chicken chili and the homemade chicken noodle soup, but it can be used in enchiladas, a casserole, etc. - just like I learned with a small chuck roast that I found way back in my freezer.....alone it's not enough to feed my family, but mixed with things it can make a meal. (You might have already known that, but I am still on my journey to frugalness! ha!)

I hope you have a happy and healthy day and remember to not be so snotty when it comes to cooking, branch out - sometimes you might surprise yourself!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Frugal Christmas Shopping Continued

I am trying to be very conscious of the fact that I have gifts to buy for Christmas.....I would love to spend on myself with all of the sales going on now, but I just can't justify it.....well, maybe I can a little! ha!

I received a coupon last week that I could use at any Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic store, including outlet stores - it was 30% off your entire purchase with 5% going to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. I nearly fell over with joy given that I had come to terms with the fact that I needed to really go out and try on jeans. Not that I've changed sizes, I WISH WISH WISH I would go down just one little, teensy, bitty size....but I haven't shopped for jeans in forever and many times I find myself just grabbing the size I need from wherever and get home to find that they are Ultra Skinny, Low Waist, Not Meant For Mommies That Have Hips and Bend Over A lot Picking Up Whatnot From The Floor Jeans that don't provide me with the fit that I need.

So after I worked the Illini football game on Saturday I found myself with a few hours before I was scheduled to meet some girls out and about and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to travel to the local outlet mall. Armed with my coupon my first stop was Gap.....this is my style, I love their clothes and have for a long time and they were having decent sales on Saturday. I tried on 6 pair of jeans total and ended up buying 3 pair for around $25 each!

My next mission was Old Navy....this time not for me, but for my boys for Christmas! I wanted to get them each robes and jammies - no luck in that department. However, all fleece was Buy One Get One Free and I got them each fleece pullovers, waffle shirts and boxers for under the tree and in their stockings, I'm sure they will be thrilled - but the pullovers ended up being about $5.00 each and I like them, so there! ; )

I ended up going back to Gap and bought them robes originally priced at $29.99 for $15.00 - they have a skull on it, which seems to be on EVERYTHING for boys - so they'll be excited!

I also got a chance to go to a Pampered Chef party on Friday and actually bought a great gift for a family gift exchange that I'm in.....I won't list the contents just in case my family reads this! BUT, if you get invited to a home party like Tastefully Simple, Lia Sophia, Pampered Chef, etc., figure out who is on your list that might enjoy something from those companies and you can give your friend the benefit of purchasing from his/her party and mark someone off your list!

If you are looking for any bargains this week - Gap Outlet has their fleece marked 50% off and I know that hats, scarves, and gloves/mittens are great gifts for any teenage girls you might have on your list? And sweatshirts are always a great gift for boys.

I haven't officially made my shopping list for this year, I've done a rundown in my head of who I know we have to buy for, etc., but I need to really get that done or else I will overbuy and that's just not very frugal! ha! Happy shopping!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A good cry

This morning was a morning of monumental tears. One of those mornings when everything just built up and built up and built up and I finally had it. The source of my stress was our oldest son Logan who has been battling with a diagnoses of anxiety/ADD for the past few months and we're going through a whole gamut of things for him to help him and it's difficult to know how to parent him without losing it every second of the day!

The thing that has been getting to me lately is how he blames every single one of his problems on someone else and I'm trying to get him to take responsibility for his own actions which is a life lesson that I think is so important. If you know you've made a mistake, admit it, apologize, learn from it and move on. I know that's difficult at 8 years old, it's difficult at 33 years old, but it has to be learned. I had it this morning, I had enough of the bad attitude, talking down to his younger brother, and then blaming the whole fight on his younger brother and I yelled at him. I sent him to his room and I yelled at him about taking responsibility and knowing when it was his fault, etc. He talked back to me and told me that he wanted to run away and I told him that there were days that I wanted to run away from problems, but that is no way to solve them. By then I was in tears......an emotional sobbing mess and we were running late for school/work.

I know that we are doing what's best for him by going through the treatments we are for his anxiety/ADD - but I need to figure out how I can parent him the best without losing my cool. I do very well given the situation and I remain calm through a lot of things, but this morning I had one thing on top of another and another and I lost it. I know I should walk away, I know I should count to 10, etc., but the words came out and in that moment I felt like I needed to convey how blaming others was not the solution. Now for the remainder of the day I am left with the guilt that I yelled at my child before school, I upset him before he went to a place that he struggles with anyway.

Motherhood is difficult, parenting is not easy, I know how I felt as a child when I had a bad morning with my mom and I know that this will be one out of a million bad mornings I will have with Logan. I also know that I have friends who would give anything to have even my worst day with my child because their child has passed away and again, I feel guilty for even feeling guilty! So I had a good cry, on the way to work as I was putting my make-up on in the car AGAIN, I cried hoping that I would feel better. And 5 hours later, I still feel like crap about it.....I just realized that today is Friday the 13th, maybe this is just my dumb luck.

How do you handle walking back into your house after having a fight with your child or your spouse? If you are the parent of a child going through anxiety/ADD issues, how have you made changes to your parenting strategies?

Monday, November 9, 2009

A few of my favorite things

Oprah has her favorite things and so in the spirit of that, I thought I would blog about a few of my favorite things. Things that have made my life easier and more manageable as a wife and mother!

1. Aveeno - I love love love Aveeno products including skin and hair! I had coupons for their shampoo this summer and thought I would give it a try and I was very happy with how my hair felt and as a mother I know you can relate to not being able to wash your hair every day and this shampoo/conditioner keeps your hair and scalp clean and not greasy for at least two days. I have used their facial cleanser and lotion for some time and I've always been very happy with how light and fresh they are and how my skin feels afterwards.

I always have Aveeno oatmeal bath on hand because I find that it helps when I have flare ups with my Lupus and develop skin rashes. Plus I have two little boys who are always in something out in the yard.....like Saturday when Logan was playing football and rolling around in the yard and came screaming into the house that his arms itched.

2. Tide Laundry Detergent - I know that I made my own laundry detergent for some time in an effort to save money and I just have to say that I wasn't happy with how it cleaned our clothes. I started back to detergent and immediately went for what was on sale, what I had coupons for, and scoffed at the higher price of Tide. Well, I wasn't happy with the stains that remained on our kids' clothes and one day I convinced myself to try Tide to see if I would be happy with it, even at the higher price. I was sold....the grass stains, the dirt, the random stains that seem to find our boys.....gone! GONE!

I did use the powdered version with a coupon and have been told to try the coldwater kind, which I will do when I run out because I do use warm water which adds to the electricity bill. I justify this because I would like the our clothes to last and if I have to wash clothes multiple times to get one stain out, then I think it all evens out. Plus you can't beat the smell of good laundry detergent!

3. Dryer Max Dryer Balls - I bought these with the recommendation from one of the blogs that I read on how to save money. I believe the blog was about how to save money on fabric softener, but I saw an opportunity to save money on electricity. We have an electric dryer and it just didn't seem to dry our clothes after one time, there were times when we would have to run it two or even three times. So, on a whim I purchased these and I get almost giddy when I open the dryer and find that they have helped the clothes evenly dry after one time.

For around $10.00 these are supposed to last 2 - 5 years and I am just really happy with them because they are going to save money on electricity, the wear and tear of our dryer, and eliminate fabric softeners.

4. All You Magazine - This magazine is awesome for coupons! You can find the magazine on the Wal-Mart shelves or you can visit the website All You for online coupon deals and subscription information. The magazine pays for itself in the amount of coupons you will find. I believe in August it had over $90 worth of coupons in it....plus money saving tips for beauty, home, food, etc. I don't buy magazines because you can find free magazine deals all over the internet, but I do buy this one! I highly recommend it!

5. Rimmel Make-up - I first spotted Rimmel at Wal-Mart awhile ago and I loved the products and the low cost for them. Rimmel is now at other stores along with Walgreens and can be found many times for buy one get one free or buy one get one at 50% off. AND you can find coupons for these products in the Sunday flyer of your local newspaper as well as All You magazine.

6. Tresemme Hair Products - For many years I used high priced salon hair products that I felt that I couldn't live without....until I had children and a budget. I tried a lot of hair products found on Wal-mart shelves that just didn't hold my hairstyle or provide me with the same happiness as the salon products. I felt like the pomades were waxy and heavy on my hair and the hair sprays were scary sticky and the hold was terrible. And then one day I tried Tresemme hair spray and was thrilled with how it held my style and how light it was. And when they came out with a pomade I just knew it would be good and I was right! I also use their mousse and have always been happy with how light it is and how it gives my hair volume.

They are right when they say salon quality.....it really is and it's not hard on your budget.

7. Lia Sophia Jewelry - I am not a terribly girlie girl, but I do love jewelry to accessorize with. I have bought cheap jewelry at the mall, but I wear it once and it tarnishes or breaks and it's frustrating. Well a friend of mine hosted a Lia Sophia party and when I went to it and started trying things on I fell in love! And the prices weren't bad at all, but then they had incentives like buy two get one free and then I read about the hostess incentives and was sold....I wanted this jewelry and I could get it for free!

On top of that, if you save your receipts for the items you order, there is a lifetime guarantee and you can return them for the price of the item and can use that credit for purchasing/replacing your jewelry. Go to their website at www.liasophia.com for a representative near you. **Disclaimer** I don't sell the jewelry - I am just a really big fan!

8. Arnold Bread - Bread in your favorite things? Really? Yes! I love this bread so much that I am giving it a shout out! I am a big fan of feeding my children the best things possible and in a perfect world they would get the correct serving of fruits, vegetables and whole grains....but as we know, our world isn't perfect! Arnold Bread makes a double fiber bread that is great tasting AND my kids will eat it! I get almost giddy knowing that they are eating whole grains AND fiber. I have looked up recipes for good homemade bread, but I don't have a bread making machine and I don't foresee purchasing one in the near future. I can usually find coupons for Arnold bread and I can buy a loaf of the double fiber bread for $1.78 at Wal-Mart when it's not on sale in another store.

9. Free Music and Television websites - I don't have a DVR....I know *gasp* - but I know that I can go to Hulu and catch up on some of the shows that I missed during the week for FREE. I have also found great shows for the kids that I sometimes let them watch as they are eating breakfast because we don't have a television in the kitchen.....I know *another gasp*!

Along those same lines, I love Pandora! You can create your own radio station with your favorite songs and it's FREE! I have discovered new artists and songs by using this website and if you create an account it saves your radio stations and you can just pick out what you're in the mood to listen to that day!

10. Febreze Home Scents - I really love Yankee candles and I will buy them if they are on sale or if I have a coupon. The scents are rich and they make your whole house smell so good. But they are pricey and I usually give them as gifts rather then use them in my own home.

At some point this summer I had a coupon for a Febreze candle and I gave it a shot. Boy was I happy with it! I use Febreze sprays in my home to freshen it up and really like those and I was so pleased with the candle! I then discovered the entire Home Collection products offered by Febreze - home sprays, soy candles, reed diffusers, and flameless candles. This fall when I was getting the itch for pumpkin scented candles I went with all Febreze products and have been really happy with them. I noticed the displays recently of the Christmas scents out and although I'm not ready for those yet (I'm still in love with my Autumn scents), I am looking forward to seeing what they have to offer!

You can find coupons for these products all the time and they priced for those of us that are budgeting and offer high quality similar to Yankee candles.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Truth Police

As parents we have to come up with creative ways to keep our kids "in check". And while I was doing home daycare I dealt with a lot of lying.....nobody fessed up to coloring on my newly painted walls with red crayon, or breaking the toy, or putting a sucker in Bailey's hair, but those things happened and nobody ever came forward and said "I did it Ms. Angela, I'm so sorry". In my world that's what would have happened, but unfortunately that's not the case.

One day while dealing with my own children lying and creating a hectic situation I had a light bulb moment.....one of those parenting moments when you are reaching for SOMETHING that will work. I was tired of threatening Santa, I was tired of talking about God's rules, and I came up with a milder version of the police. The Truth Police were created by me for the sake of my sanity good of the children.

What exactly were the Truth Police, well, they were created at the spur of a moment and I kind of went with the following....the Truth Police know when someone has lied and they will make a report about it and if it's bad enough or if someone continues to lie they could take you to jail. At the time my son Noah was terrified of chickens and upon hearing this he cried and said "Are there chickens in jail", to which I shook my head and said "Yep, there are chickens in jail".

I have the telephone number for the Truth Police and I can call them any time I think the children are lying about something.....as soon as I pick up the phone one of them fesses up to things I didn't even know they did and the other one cries because they don't want their brother to go to jail. One of my kids asked a daycare parent if they knew about the Truth Police and without missing a beat she said "Yep, they hand you that number in the hospital when babies are born". ha! ha! I had an accomplice!

The Truth Police have morphed over the years and now I don't find myself threatening them so much. I look back now and think that the creation of the Truth Police was my tool in teaching my children to make good choices, at least I hope so. Or it could be the thing that lands them in therapy.....that and chickens! Sometimes you have to think so quickly about how to handle a situation as a parent that you come up with surprisingly creative things. As I go into this weekend I hope to not need the Truth Police, they have helped me many of times, but I would just like a peaceful weekend.....maybe I should create the Peace Police?

Happy Parenting!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Reinhart Opera

I just recently read on Facebook that someone's child listened to classical music while doing his homework. I used to do this and so I thought I would give it a try with my own children. I pulled up Pandora and chose the classical music station and thought for sure it would immediately bring calm into homework time.....boy was I wrong!

I felt immediately like I was in a terrible opera....a tragic one. Picture our family in opera singing voices -

"Sit down at the table please"
"Please sit doooowwwwwnnnnnnn"
"Homework is stupid! Homework is stupid! Stupid Stupid Stupid!"

"This book is hard! Mommy this book is hard!"
"Please just try, just try just try just try"

"Please redo that one you wrote that backwards"
"No mommy"
"Yes, do it now....do it now or you will be GROUNDED"
"No No No"

I don't know that it helped calm the environment at all, but I did it again tonight.....maybe it just helped me chuckle a little as we were suffering through it! ha!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teach your children well

One of my favorite blogs to read daily is Here's The Diehl and she has encouraged her fellow bloggers to put down their shiny happy persona's for one day and reveal their flaws. Oh Lord, we could be here all day! ha! ha! I have had to come to terms with my flaws and it seems like with every stage of life there is always a moment when you figure out that you're not perfect in some way.

A friend of mine and I recently had a chance to talk to one another about things that we've been going through with our children and some of the revelations that we've had in our own lives. And I said that I don't want to protect my children from disappointment and failure, I just want to make sure that I give them the tools to handle those things in the best way possible. And I think that as a parent, you can't expect that you are going to shield your child from the rough times, but you should strive to teach them how to maneuver through them.

Our kids know we're not perfect, on occasion they have seen Randy and I have a "discussion", they have seen me break down and cry, they have witnessed us each fall in our lives, but they have also seen us work through any marital issues, they have seen us dust ourselves off and get back up, so they know that even when times get tough, that there is a way out of it.

Now, I certainly don't expose our kids to more than they can handle at their ages. I definitely wouldn't want my children to have to deal with more than they have the capacity to deal with -they have stresses at that age that they are dealing with.....they certainly don't need an overdose of adult stress. I think in life it's important to give them opportunities to be independent, to learn how to deal with life, etc., but I know of some parents that offer these opportunities too fast and that forces their kids to grow up really soon and they miss out on the childhood stuff.

So every day I strive to be real, I am going to have break downs, I am going to have challenges, and not only am I learning and growing with everything that comes my way, my children are learning how to manage as well. I know it's a little corny, but I can't help of "Teach Your Children Well" by Crosby, Stills, & Nash......

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why,
if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why,
if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog hunting for deals

Since I'm a deer hunter's wife, I thought I would make a play on words to represent MY type of hunting. I am a bargain hunter and it's not because I'm cheap, it's because you can have the best in life for less money.....it just takes a little investigative work! One way that I "hunt" for bargains is by checking out blogs. Some of these women put so much time and effort into finding the best for less, that I thought it would be really cool to promote their blogs!

I am listing here my Top #5 money saving blogs - enjoy!

Consumer Queen - Melissa started her blog for fun, then it became a necessity when her husband fell ill and the medical bills were high. She has great tips, always has awesome contests, and promotes high quality items for great prices! The link I posted here is regarding a contest through Frigidaire and a chance to win a year's supply of Tide! I hope that some of my readers can benefit from her frugal shopping and enjoy her witty sense of humor!

The Happy Housewife - Happy is a military wife and mother to seven children.....I love her tips for saving money by using what you have, good recipes, and funny stories! She and her husband live debt free....something I long for - no house payment, car payment, student loans......maybe one day! The link I provided you with is regarding food storage - something I am always learning about because it pains me to throw away food that could have been frozen, canned, etc. - it's like throwing away money! I hope her household tips and humor help you in your life!

The Grocery Cart Challenge - Gayle is a home schooling mother who feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week.....I know right?! She is amazing! She and her husband left their high paying jobs and started their own business and along the way she learned great tips/tricks on how to stay within that budget and still feed their family well. The link I am posting is her "confession" of if she always stay on her menu plan or not. You must read her blog, she is so funny and gives amazing tips for everything from beauty, laundry, clothing, and of course food.

Addicted To Savings - Elisa started her blog as a way to document their journey from living with family to owning their own home. Now she maintains her blog to share some of the great deals that she finds along the way and I have found some of the best deals on her sight! The link I am posting is one for a $5.00 rebate from Real Simple magazine....and I happen to have coupons for many of the products listed! Make sure to check her blog weekly, if not daily for amazing deals at local stores!

Frugal Finds From Your Frugal Friend - Carol is a wonderfully funny lady that blogs about great store deals, recipes, and just humor of life! I have found really good deals, offers, etc. through her and know you would enjoy her blog. The link I have provided here is for natural ways to fight off the flu....tips we could certainly all use right now! Enjoy her blog!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let the holiday shopping begin!

I officially kicked off my holiday shopping a few weeks ago. For the sake of keeping the gifts a surprise to those that will receive them, I thought I would just offer up a few tips on how you can save money this holiday season. And would love it if you would offer up some of your ideas on how you save money on gift giving, etc.

#1 Coupons - I use coupons for everything, not just groceries! Go to the websites of the stores you frequent and sign up for their e-mail alerts - they will almost always send you coupons! I always sign up for e-mails at the store when they ask you because the more you shop there, the better the coupons! Today I saved money at both Kohl's and Yankee Candle simply because I signed up for e-mail alerts.

#2 Buy on sale - I know, common sense right? Well, I didn't always buy things on sale and could KICK myself for that! And if you didn't already know this, buying on sale while using coupons - total money saver right there! While at Kohl's I bought my children toys that were on sale and used my coupons....$40 worth of toys for $5!

And speaking of on sale....someone I know wondered if it was bad to give their children stuff they had purchased from a garage sale. Personally I think that is completely fine, children don't know the difference and if they are happy and playing with it, isn't that all that matters? We gave our son a Rescue Heroes ship one Christmas that was given to us and it lasted through both of our children, daycare children, and was sold in a garage sale to MORE children.

#3 Outlets - We live close to an outlet mall and a few weeks ago a friend of mine and I went shopping there and there were deep discounts on so many things. I love Bath & Body products and will only buy those from the outlet, unless they are having a HUGE sale in the regular store. The body scrub that I love is $4.99 in the outlet store and it's normally $20 in the regular store. I go through their 99 cent bins and put things together for a gift basket or stocking stuffers. I think for Christmas I am going to put together little gifts of anti-bacterial items for all of the boys teachers. And while we were shopping, there was an offer to donate $1 to the Susan G. Koman foundation and get 25% off your purchase. So look for those offers that will save you a little bit and benefit a good cause.

#4 Make a list (and check it twice - ha!) - I have been listening to the boys talk about toys they would like lately and jotting them down. Randy and I set a budget for the holidays and we'll go through that list and see just what we can buy for that set amount. And I have a running list of everyone we are going to buy for and definitely make sure I put down on that list when I've purchased something for them! Nothing worse than losing track of your list and overbuying for someone!

We shop on Black Friday and with our list we go through the ads and see where we could get the best deal and we map out a game plan. I'm all about lists, planning, and organizing....you can maximize your budget if you a put a little extra time/effort into it.

#5 Use self-control - Noah has been saying lately that he wants a robe after his shower and while I could just run out and get one for him now, I have to stop myself and remember that it would make a great Christmas gift! We try our best not to spoil our kids with whatever they want, whenever they want......but I'm married to a big kid who can justify buying toys almost as good as I can justify buying shoes! ha! ha! But, we definitely try and buy them things they need throughout the year and then spoil them around the holidays!

#6 Don't forget the reason for the season - I think the best lesson around the holidays is to give more than you get. So volunteering is super important, we have the kids shop for us through a local organization that benefits families in crisis and all the proceeds go towards that, we bake lots and lots of treats to share with others, and we spend a lot of time talking about Jesus and his birthday. Giving your time is free and I think that is certainly the most budget friendly gift ever!

This certainly won't be my last post regarding the holidays.....I'm just gearing up! What are your plans for this season.....gift giving strategies, money saving ideas, recipes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A soldier's father words on bringing his son home

In honor of Sgt. Christopher Rudzinski I am sharing with you the words that his father Mike wrote regarding their travel to Dover Air Force base to bring their fallen son home. My heart sinks knowing that Natalie and Mike are grieving the loss of another child. My heart sinks even further knowing that Caroline and Ryan are facing the future without a husband and a father. My prayers are with this amazing family today, tomorrow, and always.

through the clouds……

I hope you don’t mind me writing you and updating you on Chris’ return home. I’m not sure I can cry any more tears and remain strong for my family too without talking with somebody. My head is in a spin and my heart aches as we start the process of bringing Chris home. Today Natalie, Caroline, Ryan and I were flown to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer ceremony. It is the ceremony where our men and women in uniform take heroes and render honors as they return to American soil. I’ve had to do some difficult tasks in my life and Army career, but I have to say that standing there in the rain and cold and watching our military men and women take loving care of my son, like they have with the thousands who have preceded him was about too much to bear. It was too much for Caroline, she collapsed at seeing her beloved husband and Ryan’s daddy, in a flag draped transfer case, being unloaded from the plane and put into the van which has taken Chris to the mortuary unit to prepare him for his trip home.

I was moved by the reverence and care the honor guard, the general officer, the chaplains the mortuary staff, the security detail and even the military families on Dover Air Force Base gave to Chris and my family on the way to and from the flightline and during the transfer. I can’t imagine where these people find the strength to do this over and over again. They too, are truly heroes-military and civilian alike.

But I thought you should also know about the other heroes we ran into today, because they made my heart swell with love and pride, even as it was breaking. It started with the United check-in clerk who moved or bumped somebody out of premium seating to ensure that Natalie and I could sit together on the flight to Philadelphia. It continued with the flight attendant who leaned over and whispered some tender words to my wife as she sat crying on the plane, holding the picture or her “baby and his baby” (Chris and Ryan) that I shared with you.

Then came the cascade of wonderful gestures, messages and visitors who were ensuring that my kids, family and friends who could not go with us, were being comforted and feeling the love and reverence for Chris that we received today. Finally I have to say two final events happened which made my soul soar and my tears start anew.

First, Caroline told me, that a gentleman on her flight overhead her talking with her military escort about Chris’ death and he politely asked Caroline to speak with him at the arrival gate when she got off the plane. When she got off the plane, the gentleman was standing there and he said he owned a business and he always supported the troops and he wanted to help her out. He placed several folded bills in her hand and said “buy something nice for your baby.” Then he walked away without introducing himself. Caroline put the bills in her pocket and went to baggage claim.

Later today, Caroline was telling us about this kind gesture and she pulled out the folded bills. She said, “I think he gave me twenty dollars.” She was wrong. He had given her five hundred dollars. Natalie and I started crying for a stranger who’s only wish was to do something nice, without recognition or reward.

When I decided to share this story with you, that ‘s when the second event occurred. I read all of the comments under Chris’ picture and the outpouring of care, concern and reverence that the readers of KisP offered to us. I couldn’t stop crying. We are overwhelmed that so many people took the time to offer a part of their heart in an effort to save ours. You all are heroes to me and my family. And I guess this brings me to my main point. What a wonderful country this is, surrounded by people who offer their treasure, their service, acts of simple kindness and even their hearts to help a stranger in need. I am confident we will prevail against the evil that is plaguing humanity. Thank you for putting Chris’ sacrifice into perspective for me. I think I might even get through these dark times.

May the Almighty God bless and keep you and reward you in this life and the next.


Welcome to the Imperfect Perfectly Normal Mothers Club

You know, as a mother you sometimes feel like you are juggling sooooo much and sometimes the ball drops and I have to remember that as long as we have our health, our tummies are full, our bodies are clothed properly, and we have a roof over our head, then I am doing a good job.

I dropped the ball on Monday by forgetting to send a snack with my son and I didn't realize it until Tuesday evening.....to which my son proceeded to tell me that it had made him cry! UGH! Visualize us scurrying to Wal-Mart for snacks immediately following his dance class.....ha! ha!

I mentioned this on my Facebook and was overjoyed with my fellow FB moms who proceeded to chime in with "if you think that's bad....this one time I......." and I felt completely normal. It brought me out of the dark hole that I had climbed into - protecting myself from the perfect mothers who take the time to bake allergen free cupcake from scratch with hidden vegetables in them and frosting from honey they processed themselves. I am NORMAL, not perfect.....normal!

And as I was getting this rush of advice and wondering if any of my fellow FB moms who weren't responding to me were thinking "that's terrible", "her poor child" or God forbid "I would never forget my childs snack day"......I received great life advice from one of my guilty pleasures....a reality show on MTV - The City.

In a response regarding backstabbing/back-biting/competition a jewelry designer advises someone to "stay refined, stay elegant and the others will fall to the wayside". *sound the heavenly angels please* And armed with that wonderful advice, I will stay refined, stay elegant and let the perfect mothers out there fall to the wayside. Because as someone said to me, if you got through your day and everyone was safe and healthy and the only thing that was dropped was snacks on snack day, then it was a good day.

Now.....hold your head up high normal mothers.....we should be proud of everything we do! In the past 12 hours my imperfect self sat with my children and ate my breakfast which put a little crunch on my morning routine of hair and make-up (you know, a ponytail and few brush strokes of blush, powder, or whatever is in the make-up bag) - so I had to do my make-up in the car on the way to work, last night I was in a rush and did NOT pick up fast food or food from the deli - I made my children a homemade meal with love (boiled noodles and sauce from a jar) and they loved it, and tonight my children may not get a shower because of our crunched schedule due to catechism class. But it's okay.....everyone will survive, life will stay on course, and I will always hold my head up high!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate....that is the question!

Wow....topic of the day today.....should I or shouldn't I get the vaccination for H1N1 or more importantly, should I vaccinate my child or children?

I don't want to open an argument or a debate about this....but I would like to say that as a parent, you know your family better than anyone else and you will ultimately decide what is best for your family. I don't think there is a wrong or right in the decision.....I think if you are presented with the facts and you make a well rounded decision then that's the very best thing you could do for yourself and your family.

People are really passionate about their decisions and I think that's great....but don't forget to not judge others if they've decided to do something different than you do.

I hope/pray that everyone stays healthy and that this passes quickly!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our differences

I had a great conversation with a dear friends mother last night. We were talking about how she invites students from the university into her home for meals and to give them a mother figure while they are studying so far from their home countries. She does this because she came here from another country and within her first few years here she suffered from terrible migraines and was in the hospital for weeks thinking she was going to die. Nobody came to visit her and she felt very alone....she considered moving back to her home country at that point, but ended up moving to a different state, met her husband, and the rest is history.

She feels as thought she is providing this wonderful service to students as a way of giving back and I think it's amazing. While we were talking I asked her out of the 30+ years of giving herself to others if anyone has ever taken advantage of her. She recalled one individual who would demand instead of ask, expect instead of wait for an offer, and someone who pressured her to sacrifice time with people who truly loved her so that she could provide services for this individual. And then she gave me an "ah ha" moment......

She said "Look at your fingers, see how they are on the same hand, but they are all different? They are all serving the same purpose, but they move differently and look differently, and they respond differently to things. That's how I look at people. We are all on this Earth serving the same purpose - but we are all different and we shouldn't expect people to all be the same, we should expect anything from anyone and should be as gracious and as kind as we can be. The people that walk around with expectations will have to answer to their selfishness one day and I know that when my time comes, I will have to answer for myself."

Ah ha! What a great lady and I'm so happy that I got a chance to listen to her talk about her experiences. She brought up forgiveness and how she forgave the individual who did her wrong because again, she had no control over what the person did to her and although it was wrong, this person would have a higher power to answer to one day. And I think that is so powerful, forgiveness is such a difficult thing to do.

I accept others and all of the differences that we bring to this Earth, I try not to judge or label others because I don't like to be labeled or judged myself, and I am working on how to forgive others - I think that is something we work on through our entire life because not every painful situation is the same and there is no blanket statement for forgiveness.

What a great end to a wonderful day.....there are opportunities for us to learn every day, sometimes we have to look for them, and sometimes you find them in the most unexpected places. Every day when you wake up you need to find the thing within your day that is going to make you a better person than you were yesterday. I am excited for the opportunities to learn yesterday and can't wait to see what today brings!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrating 11 Years Of Marital Bliss

On October 24th my husband and I will celebrate 11 years of marriage together....the traditional gift for this anniversary is steel and I have to believe that our marriage is made of steel in order to have made it to 11 years. When you look at the definition of steel and compare it with a marriage, it makes complete sense and it describes our marriage perfectly.

Why is a marriage compared to steel?

"Iron and steel are used widely in the construction of roads, railways, infrastructure, and buildings. Most large modern structures, such as stadiums and skyscrapers, bridges, and airports, are supported by a steel skeleton."

The comparison of a marriage to steel represents the solid foundation that two people should build their relationship on. Large structures are given a solid start by having at the very least a steel frame and marriages should to have a solid foundation in order to succeed.

"Two distinguishing factors are steel's increased rust-resistance and better weldability."

This made me smile when I read it in the definition of steel. What a great representation for a marriage - rust-proof and good weldability. I think that long term marriages have weathered so many storms together and when something metal sits out in too many storms it can easily rust....unless it is made of steel. And weldability makes me think of the bond that forms in a relationship throughout the years.

Can't a marriage weaken over time?

"There are many types of heat treating processes available to steel. The most common are annealing and quenching and tempering.

Annealing is the process of heating the steel to a sufficiently high temperature to soften it. This process occurs through three phases: recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth.

Quenching and tempering first involves heating the steel to the austenite phase, then quenching it in water or oil. This rapid cooling results in a hard and brittle martensitic structure.

The steel is then tempered, which is just a specialized type of annealing. In this application the annealing (tempering) process transforms some of the martensite into cementite or spheroidite to reduce internal stresses and defects, which ultimately results in a more ductile and fracture-resistant metal."

What a great look at how a marriage is tested over time! I think of a relationship heating up as result of an argument and how it can soften the relationship making it weak. Some arguments need a little recovery time, some arguments can be resolved quickly, some issues make your relationship stronger and some transform your relationship into something new.

So as we approach our 11th year of marriage I have to believe that our relationship is strong like steel - we have weathered so many storms together, we have practically grown up together and we have a bond that will never be broken, our love has transformed over the years and yes there have been moments when our relationship was weakened, but we came back stronger than before.

I thank God for having Randy in my life, I don't even want to imagine what my life would have been like had I ever given up, he is my best friend, he looks out for my best interests, he takes care of me, he is an amazing father, and he is the hardest working person that I know. He inspires me to be the best person I can be and I know, I will always know, that he stands by me 100%.

I have always said that two things that are key components to a good relationship are communication and trust.....he's a boy, so the communication part is always a work in progress, but I know that I can 100% trust him and that my friends is the thing about steel - when you have a foundation made out of steel, you know that you can trust it to withstand hundreds of years of storms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Deals Deals Deals

Today is a great day for deals! If you live in my area - apples are $0.88/lb. at Wal-Mart - including HONEYCRISP apples that are normally the price of gold! ha!

And online there are awesome deals on shoes at www.6pm.com - including Red Wing shoes for men!

Enjoy those deals today....I'm off to work to pay for my last order from www.6pm.com that arrived yesterday - 6 new pair of shoes for a little over $50 to which my husband asked "so are you going to get rid of 6 pair of shoes out of your closet?" - um, no honey, but nice try!

Have a frugal day my friends!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm sick

I have bronchitis and pneumonia....what was said to be something "viral" a few weeks ago has developed into something that is threatening to put me in the hospital! EEK! I am loading up on liquids, homemade soup, and sleep.

See you all soon....it's time for my nap!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Super Saturday Savings

I just wanted to share a GREAT website for great deals on shoes and clothes - www.6pm.com check back for daily deals that are outstanding!

I wanted a pair of suede boots with fur this year....yeah right, I wasn't going to pay $150 or more for them.....well, I didn't - there was a one day deal and I got those boots for $14.95! And I bought my husband a pair of Red Wing work shoes for $24.95.

There are shoes, clothes, and accessories for women, men, and children.

Go there often and get your bargain on!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Final Thought For The Week

As we approach the weekend I was taking a look back at my week and realizing that the days go by so fast, lots of activities for the week, always on the go trying to do well at work and be there for my children at all of their functions, I just have to hope and pray that I'm being the best I can be in all aspects of my life. And with that, I am leaving this week with the following quote:

"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."
John Wesley

Have a great weekend and here's to the new possibilities that the next week brings to us!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What do you say ALOT?

Okay, I realized today that I say two words ALL THE TIME......Crack and Awesome.

When something is crazy good - like my friend Briana's Buffalo Chicken Dip, Oreo Cake, or anything that she makes - it becomes "crack dip" or "crack cake". This morning I was straightening my hair and I said that my hair was on crack because it has grown SO much and when my oldest son asked me what that meant - I replied that it just meant that my hair was crazy. BUT on my way to work I wondered what a teacher or another adult would say if my son simply said "my mom is on crack"......UGH! I need to change that - I need to find another word for these things - preferably something I wouldn't mind coming out of my childs mouth!!

I say awesome all the time....my boss asks me to do something and my reply is never "okay" - it's always "awesome" with a sarcastic tone. There are things in life that are truly awesome....my friends baby girl Mia who is overcoming the hurdles of CDH - Mighty Mia is awesome and awe inspiring!

And apparently I roll my eyes all the time....and they are not stuck in that position mom!!! But that's just a silly habit that goes along with my sometimes sarcastic responses.....OOPS!

What do you say and/or do a lot that you sometimes think "EEK....I should really change that?!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oh yeah, that's right, I have Lupus?!

In the warmer months of the year I forget that I have Lupus....I run and play as if I have no worries. Then the cold hits....my hands ache, my body aches, I get sores in my nose, and suddenly I feel like a 90 year old woman. UGH!

Lupus is not fun, it comes in all forms, mine come in the form of arthritis most of the time. When I am having a flare up, which I am having now, I feel like I have the flu and I get sores inside my nose....I know, gross right?! It stinks!

Another cause of flare ups is stress - um, as the mother of two young children my stress levels are already high - add in a little issue with one child, a challenging phase of another, a marriage on hold for hunting season, family drama, friend drama, busy time at work, a couple of college courses in an attempt to finish my degree, and this mama is stressed beyond stressed.

Life with Lupus is not fun, it's manageable, I have no complaints here because I watched a mother with two sons leaving my rheumatologists office and she was using a walker because Lupus affected her spine so bad that she couldn't walk without assistance. I was humbled....I can still walk, I can still go outside and play with my children, and I can still dance around as if I know what I'm doing. But that doesn't mean that my physical being isn't challenged.....today I am challenged, I worked at a football game yesterday and walked a lot in the cold. I used my hands a lot. And my immune system has been compromised because of a cold or flu that has been trying to attack me this week.

Today I am a single mommy because my husband is working and then would like to hunt this evening.....I am preparing a meal for his cousin and his cousins girlfriend who just had a little girl.....I am caring for my own children......and I have to practice hula for a performance this week. If I were a lady of leisure I could call in the nanny to care for the children, call in my cook to feed my children and Randy's cousins family, call in my housekeeper to finish my laundry, and call in my choreographer to learn the routine to teach me later - all so I could rest and focus on myself. But I live in the real world and today I will get through the day and when I can't go anymore I will go just a little more......tomorrow I will wake up and wonder why I am exhausted still and remind myself 'Oh yeah, that's right, I have Lupus".....grrr......ha! ha!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I've Been Robbed

Borrowed From WBGL Tim and Pam In The Morning Show......it describes what I'm feeling right now.

I've Been Robbed

I was robbed during the morning show today.

I was happily minding my own business when, within a matter of seconds, it was gone. It wasn't my wallet - though there's not much money in it anyway. It wasn't my car - though my 2004 Subaru isn't exactly "theft" material. It wasn't even my identity - that was stolen last year.It was my joy. An online conversation with a frustrated listener grabbed it and took off down the street. As you might imagine, it left me in a rather rotten mood. Okay, a very rotten mood.

This listener (a pastor, of all people) was mad that he hadn't received a response to a recent email that he had sent to me, and quickly began threatening to switch his allegiances to another radio station (and speak poorly of me to others) if I didn't get back with him in a timely manner.This instant message exchange took less than five minutes, but it has left a long-lasting impression. As an employee who takes pride in my work ethic, the implication that I wasn't doing my job very well cut deep.

Between Facebook, Twitter, and email...our show receives literally hundreds of messages every week. Many radio personalities respond to very few (if any) of their messages, and (though I'm not perfect) I try very hard to do exactly the opposite.But, this isn't really about email or Facebook or even a frustrated listener. It's about me and my willingness to let someone else's actions effect my entire day.

You may have heard this phrase before: "You can't control what others say or do to you, you can only control how you react to it." It's true. But, let's be honest...that's much easier said than done, right? I certainly don't have it all figured out yet. In fact, five hours later, I'm STILL trying to get my joy back. I have a beautiful wife, two amazing boys, a job that I love, and a free weekend in front of me...and (because of a stupid disagreement) my joy is still hard to find today.

Been there?If so, maybe you can work through this with me: my identity, my worth, and my value are NOT found in other people's opinions or actions. Technically, they're not found in my wife, kids, job, or lack of weekend activities either. God alone gives me my value. The rest is trivial.

Today, I've had it backward.

Thankfully, tomorrow, I have a chance to get it right. At least I don't have any plans.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Little Charlie

Our family has been blessed with a new addition....Charlie the Yorkie came into our family recently and has adjusted to the madness quite well!

We were of course heartbroken to lose our Millie earlier this year and while we love our lab, Lucy, we really wanted to add one more to our tribe because we are just one of those "two dog" families I think.

Charlie is 7 months old and has been a joy - he's playful, easy for the boys to help take care of, he loves to snuggle, and one of the greatest things....he is not a yapper! We thought because of the breed, he might be - but he's not. In the first 48 hours of having him we didn't hear a peep out of him!

I know that the responsibility of taking care of our dogs falls mainly on my shoulders - but I don't mind this 9 lb. sweet face. He is enjoyable, sweet, and we feel truly blessed with him!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I just had to share a funny story.....in looking back at my past posts, I've been a little preachy - I'm going through a lot and this is my outlet

So I was talking to my brother Denis about Logan and his diagnoses of ADHD and Denis had a lot of insight due to the fact that his two sons have gone through similar disorders. And as he was talking he mentioned that he himself had ADHDOS, when I asked him what that was he said "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Dis...OH SHINY" - ha! ha! This is so me - I walk into a room and have no idea what my intentions are in that room. I open a cabinet and have no idea what I wanted out of there.

I am self diagnosing myself with ADHDOS and I know that there are others out there that can relate to me.....let's form a support group and meet once a month for margaritas and dancing! ha! ha!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How do you feel about your judgement day?

In a lifelong journey of growth spiritually I asked myself this morning "How do you feel about your judgement day?" and surprisingly I feel good about it. I know that I have not been a perfect person in God's eyes, however, I feel as though the good I have done has been with the best of intentions, never selfish, and always with the love in my heart.

On Sunday I went to church, to my Catholic church, the one that I feel as though I struggle with....it became clear to me that the only struggle I am having with my church is that I don't make an effort to go and maybe I am just making excuses about why I don't go. When I do go the message speaks to me, as it did on Sunday, and I leave there with a clear mind and a purpose to think about throughout my week.

This Sunday was about following through with God in all aspects, not just praying on your own, saying grace at the dinner table, but attending church and living your life by following God's plan. Message received loud and clear and while I will not be a person that goes overboard with my beliefs and my religion, know that I am actively following God's plan for me. I know what my purpose is, I know what my life plan is, and I am on that journey because I fully intend to get to heaven.

Another message that was so obviously meant for me was dealing with friendships and about being a friend because you truly want to and not because you have selfish motives behind it. This is something that I have so clearly been dealing with lately and I left church with the answers that I have been seeking on this very issue. I know that when my judgement day comes, it will never be a question of if I have been a true friend or not, because I am. I give myself fully to others and never have a selfish intention behind it. I never expect to get anything from others that I am a friend to. My only intentions as a friend is to bring joy, help heal, and to lend a hand.....never to get anything in return. And those are the only kinds of friends that I want in my life.....friends that are kind to me without expectations or thoughts of "what am I going to get out of this".

How do you feel about your judgement day? Is the path that you are on one you are living with a whole heart? Are you following God's plan for you? How do you feel about yourself as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend? What areas do you need to work on in your life? You know there is a saying that I like "You are not a Christian just because you sit in church on Sunday; If you sit in a garage does that make you a car?" - do you follow what you claim to believe? Do you live your life with a purpose that promotes goodness?

I have witnessed so much negativity in relationships lately, so much hypocrisy, and so much selfishness......I just want to say to those people in my life "why do you walk around asking what you are getting out of life, when you should be walking around asking what you are giving to the world around you." I feel good about my judgement day, I know I'm certainly not perfect, but I'm being the best person that I know how to be and isn't that part of the plan?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sometimes your world has to stop spinning just a little....

When our first child was born I thought that I had everything planned out.....he thought differently. He has definitely shown me that there is no textbook definition on how to raise a child - he challenges me, he educates me, and he is overall a really great kid. I write this with a heavy heart because my son is broken, he is broken and I don't know how to fix it. I don't know how it happened and I blame myself anyway.....isn't that just what mom's do?

I want to say that he's been a difficult child for some time, but that feels too harsh - he's been very challenging. And this year, especially right off the bat with school, he seemed to struggle with a lot of anger and anxiety that honestly I didn't know how to handle. I did what I could to get him to a counselor who just yesterday diagnosed him with ADHD, an anxiety disorder, and a bit of an oppositional disorder. She described him perfectly - he is not a trouble maker in the traditional sense - he likes things to go a specific way and when something changes or doesn't go the way he thinks it should he can't handle it. He can't handle change, he can't handle disappointment, and he can't handle doing things differently or imperfect.

In school he can't sit in his seat, he shouts out answers, he goes to the window during a spelling test and points out birds, and his teacher, God love her, has been amazing!

Yesterday it was suggested that we try medication and counseling as a way to get him through this.....now I know it's controversial and I have been opposed to medications for the treatment of ADHD, so I won't say what our decisions have been to help Logan, but we chose the best option for our son and our family and we are going to handle this the best we know how. As a wife and mother, you want to take care of your family the very best you can and I feel like I do the best I can every day - when someone you love so much is hurting, your world has to stop spinning just a little so you can hold them a little longer, say all of the things you need to say a little more, and take every extra second you can get with them. When my child is broken, so am I and I'm just doing the best I can to fix his "boo boos" while I still have the chance.

There is a saying that I've always loved about parenting "the fingerprints on the wall get higher and higher and then they disappear" and you just have to love them while you can and hope that you are doing your very best in the time that you have them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Struggling with faith

Some things have happened recently that have me questioning faith. Recently I have been facing things that I feel like I could find the answers to in church. But I don't feel a connection to my church - I was raised Catholic and still attend (I use that term lightly) the church I have grown up in, but oddly enough I don't feel a connection because it's such a strict religion and frankly haven't followed the rules and am doing okay - so I feel like a bit of an outcast in a sense.

Not only am I struggling with that, but if I were to break away from my church and begin researching or even attending a new church, how would I tell my parents. My family have been strong Catholics for generation and I almost feel like I am a bigger disappointment if I decide to be Christian or Methodist vs. not going to church at all. However, our family has faced major disappointments and I almost feel like if I were to change churches that would be a fairly mild thing to do.

I pray, I have faith, I believe, but I'm just struggling with the fact that the religion that I know to turn to doesn't support me in what I believe in. I want to give my children a good foundation in faith, and have sent them to religion classes every Wednesday night since they were eligible, but they are being forced to go just like I was.....but I have been less strict about attending church every Sunday. I feel like I am praying so much about this and all the while I am needing direction.

I need direction in how to be a good wife, parent, daughter, sister, and friend. In my life right now I am struggling with all of those things. My husband and I are dealing with the stresses of parenting a child that has major anxiety issues, my family is dealing with the deceit and lies that are the result of an extra marital affair, and within my group of friends we are dealing with a change in personalities that is threatening our relationships. I feel like I need to turn to someone who can guide me through this. The other weekend I found myself saying "who is taking care of me?" - and I know who is taking care of me....I just don't know where I fit in to worship him.

So I am struggling with my faith and I think it shouldn't be something that is stressful, but feel like I am going against generations of Catholics here and have to think that they would all support me in this knowing that I am seeking out direction and am turning to my faith for that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Okay, so my plan and my bodies plan don't exactly match up.....

I set into motion my goal for losing weight, getting in shape, and fitting into an AMAZING dress. I put it out the into the Universe my goals, had a plan, and my body said "Wait, no, uh uh, this is what we are going to do instead.......chest pains!"

On Sunday, June 27th, I blacked out; on Wednesday, July 1st, I ended up in the ER with chest pains; and since then it's been about the same. I go tomorrow for a stress test on the treadmill because they believe that I have developed a heart arrhythmia. What is that you say? Well, it's an irregular heartbeat so to speak. What does that mean for me? I don't know yet, and I won't know until the test results come back.

Given that I have Lupus, there are so many other things that this could be because Lupus can attack major organs and the concern is that maybe this is a condition resulting from the Lupus.....until tomorrow we don't know for sure what is going on.

I do know that I am extremely tired all the time, have difficulty doing any physical activity at all without having to stop because I'm out of breath, I continue to have chest pains & numbness down my left arm and my intended plans have been halted until I know further what I need to do to make myself better. I am however, continuing my plan to watch what I eat, because after all, I apparently have some kind of heart condition and I want to make sure more than anything that I do everything I can to remain healthy.

My concern now is not weight loss, exercise or fitting into my dress....it's simply to be healthy, take good care of myself, and make sure I am around for my children for a very long time. This is all happening too soon after I read an article about an increase in deaths for individuals who have Lupus.....so that weighs heavy on my mind given that I never was scared following the diagnoses, I always tend to have a "Whatever it is, I will handle it and everything will be fine" attitude. Sometimes you have to realize that your life plan doesn't always match up with God's plan and I'm trying to work that out with him.....ha! ha!

I am taking one day at a time, looking forward to the test tomorrow and the results it will bring so that I know what direction I am going, loving my family and friends, and making the best out of every moment. Hope you are doing well in your goals and know that I am always cheering for you!