Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Home of Love....

This is a Home Where Children Live

You may not find things all in place,
Friend, when you enter here.
But, we’re a home where children live,
We hold them very dear.

And you may find small fingerprints
And smudges on the wall.
When the kids are gone, we’ll clean them up,
Right now we’re playing ball.

For there’s one thing of which we’re sure,
These children are on loan.
One day they’re always underfoot,
Next thing you know, they’re gone.

That’s when we’ll have a well kept house,
When they’re off on their own.
Right now, this is where children live,
A loved and lived in home.

~Judith Bond

Monday, February 27, 2012


This past week, Scott was away on a very long trip to the west coast (both business and pleasure).  The kids and I took a Sparkle Story called Daddycation and decided to change it up a bit.  This past week while Daddy was away we had our own Mommycation!  In the story, Martin and Sylvia create scrapbooks with Dream Pages of what they would like to do over the course of the week.  We created our own scrapbooks and had a lot of fun seeing those dreams come to life.
 We spent time having dinner with friends, playing outside, sipping homemade milkshakes, had a visit from my dad, set up our own mini golf course, finally colored the rocket ship (thanks Uncle B), had our Friday Night Nest, Mommy had a grown up playdate with her friends Rose and Pinot Grigio :), spent the day at my parents, read lots of stories, baked, visited the library and went bowling! There were some bumps along the way... Z got a fluke fever for 12 hours and we had a few cancellations due to sick family members....but overall it was great.
One of my highlights of the week was getting a text from Scott at 10:50 Saturday night.  It said, "I Love You".  This text was sent right after the wedding ceremony and made my heart melt.  It was nice to know that the love of the ceremony made him think of me and that even though we haven't seen each other much for the last two weeks (he has been swamped with work, family stuff and travel)....I am always in his thoughts :)  I am looking forward to some serious family time when he returns.

Friday, February 24, 2012


This TIME OUT is not for the children but it is for me.  It is time to SLOW DOWN, get off this merry go round, take some things off my plate and focus on what is really important.  It is time to focus on my family and myself.

get off the Merry go Round
I learned something about myself this month, I learned that I go through a cycle each month that leaves me at the end exhausted.  At the beginning of the month I am full of energy and love to take on the world.  I agree to do WAY TOO MUCH and spend the rest of the month trying to accomplish it.  As the month wears on, my energy levels slow down and my mood sours (sound familiar??) and then by the months end I have crashed and burned.  It is then that I allow myself to cancel things, relax and renew. But after that brief time of renewal I am raring to go again and the cycle starts all over again.
I wish there were time for me to nap ;)
 My question for myself is, Would I crash and burn at the end of the month if I did not take on so much??  What if I paced myself and decided that one or two big projects for the month were plenty?  Would I then be able to make it through the month feeling good the whole way??  I think this is an experiment I need to take on.

Lucky for me the kids do not feel this cycle, well they may feel it through my mood but their schedule is pretty regular and is filled with LOTS of downtime and play.  We have many home mornings/afternoons where they create, play and enjoy their childhood.  Our outings are simple and stress free and other than having to get Z to school on time and two Kindermusik classes, there is little demand of our time.
So how does life get so crazy for me??  I am caring for two kids (pretty much on my own), creating fun and exciting learning experiences for them, trying to keep up with the housework, supporting a husband who works around the clock (and trying to see him in the wee hours of the night), blogging (2 blogs) and then working on any number of crazy projects.  For February alone I was taking a class in Sourdough and experimenting with all of that, had my 30 day yoga challenge, was taking a class in Peaceful Parenting, read 4 books, have been researching many different modes and aspects of education, have been trying to keep up with my PT, trying to limit our screen time (we are now down to 30 minutes a day for TV) and have been working on a very special project that I can't share right now.  That is a lot for one month!
Our Visual TV/Computer System :)  There are 1-3 stones in the jar and each stone represents one unit of time
 So March will be a time to spread things out, let things go and try to not take on toooo much. I am hoping that come the end of the month I will feel almost as much energy as I did in the beginning....I'll let you know :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Start of Lent

Yesterday we had a great PANCAKE day :)  We had pancakes for breakfast and dinner, read pancake books, dressed up in Marti Gras costumes (Z even had a celebration at school) and listened to our Sparkle Story about Mardi Gras.  Z loved the idea of "Fat Tuesday".

Today we begin the season of Lent.  I am working on some activities for this month (I will share later on) but today I wanted to share what we as a family will be doing for Lent.  Lent is a complicated concept for children but the Martin and Sylvia Sparkle Story summed it up nicely.  They explained it is a time of quiet and reflection where families take care of themselves and each other and watch what they eat and or watch what they do. 

So with this explanation, here is what our family is doing:

Scott--daily exercise of some form
Jess--trying to eliminate white sugar, giving up Facebook (less time on the computer) ;)
Z--giving up Candy (not that he eats much)
Lil'C--will wait until she is 5 to participate (she doesn't eat Candy anyway)

Family--trying to live without our microwave

What are your plans for Lent??

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So Many New Things in 2012

So far 2012 has been a year of firsts for me.  It has been a month and a half of learning, experimenting and growth.  Here are 12 things I have done for the first time in 2012.....

1.  Successfully made yogurt in a cooler

2.  Started two Sourdough Starters....hoping the second one actually takes ;)

3.  Meditated and have been doing it on a regular basis

4.  Have done more yoga in 45 days than in my 34 years combined

5.  Made my first chicken stock

6.  Have started an amazing journey in Peaceful Parenting with my best friend Lauren

7.  Have created a monthly budget/spending plan and I am actually sticking to it!!  And we have a goal to be debt free by 2013

8.  Made my own laundry detergent out of soap nuts :)

9.  Have stuck to all of my resolutions (super proud of the not buying a book one) and have been working toward accomplishing my goals for 2012.

10.  Have started morning and evening routines for myself that are now an important part of my day
can you see the Cardinal??  This was taken while I was staring out the window during my morning routine ;)

11.  Drastically cut back on the sugar in my life and try to only consume healthier sweetners (raw honey, maple syrup)

12.  Taught my children to eat a rainbow and have them working hard to do so everyday!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making Memories

Making Muffins
My little girl who doesn't want to "nap" anymore
Candlelight Dinner

Valentine's Breakfast

Daddy's card for Z

Daddy's Puzzle card for Lil'C
Cooking up a feast

Our Window of LOVE

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Sourdough

About a year ago I got interested in the idea of sourdough.  I liked that it was a traditional process that helped aid in digestion.  I felt like I could channel Ma Ingals and make yummy baked goods that were healthy for my family.  I watched a ton of videos on sourdough and even bought my first starter....but I got cold feet and ended up throwing away the dehydrated starter a few months later.
Doughy and Joey
Fast forward to two months ago and I took a deep breath, built up some confidence and decided to actually take the leap into the world of Sourdough.  I watched more videos, joined the GNOWFGLINS ecourse, took tons of notes and started my own starter in January.  It FAILED :(  Determined not to give up, I ordered another starter and started it up days after I got it.
The beginning days of sourdough are TOUGH.  You start with that initial excitement and then the exhaustion sets in.  Feeding your baby (or in my case babies) every 12 hours, trying to figure out what to do with the discarded starter (I hate throwing it out) and then baking the items that you create with your discarded starter is very time consuming.  I have made pancakes, English muffins, spice cake, wheat thin crackers, Italian crackers and have muffins souring right now.  There are plans for scones, another cake and a no knead bread this weekend:)
spice cake
The crackers are great, the cake was delicious, the English muffins need practice and the pancakes were not my favorite....too savory but they tasted great with Quark (a spreadable cheese).  I have loved this adventure, loved trying to create new foods but I am looking forward to putting "Doughy" in the fridge and passing "Joey" off this weekend.   I am looking forward to having a once a week relationship with my sourdough instead of a twice daily one.  It will be nice to get it out of the fridge, "bake big" (as Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS says) and put it back in the fridge to forget about for another week or two.  I can't wait!!
English Muffins

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A New View on Birthday Gifts

I have two birthdays coming up for two very special little girls.  They are the daughters of my two best friends and one is turning 7 and the other 4.  These two little girls are so very bright, curious and beautiful.  I am looking forward to celebrating their very special days.

The Beautiful Soon to be 7 Year Old on her 2nd Birthday
Their parties are still over a month away but our new budget has already started me thinking about their gifts.  For the 7 year old there will be no gift.  Her mama and I decided last year to forgo birthday gifts.  It is not the most ideal plan (Z might feel weird showing up empty handed) but we have struggled to find a more unique solution and in the end decided to do nothing (Lauren, we might have to revisit this ;)).
The Sweet Soon to be Four Year Old When she was Brand New
As for the 4 year old, I am going to have to have a chat with her mama.  I am determined to give the children in my life gifts of experience for ever more.  I no longer want to waist money on toys they will play with for a few moments and then move onto something else.  Yes my gifts might not have the initial "WOW" factor but in the end they are the gifts that bring a lot of enjoyment.  My favorite gifts to give are magazine subscriptions, passes for an adventure (museum, movies, even did a Chuck E Cheese gift card once), a book I know they will love, I gave my God Son a box filled with Science Experiments or my new favorite find....a gift certificate to Sparkle Stories (We LOVE These!!!).
So Mama Sarah, call me so we can discuss the appropriate gift.  I am right now watching Z enjoy his Click subscription that he got for Christmas from his Auntie.  When he opened it, there was no immediate joy but he has spent many more hours with these magazines and has learned so much.  More time has been spent with this Christmas gift than any other (Lego's Excluded).  Not to mention the excitement every time a new magazine arrives!!  Thanks so much Auntie :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Z's Big Crush

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!  

The other day we were enjoying the warm weather (50 degrees in February!!!) and broke out the sidewalk chalk.  Z took a big piece of chalk and started writing away.  At first I couldn't quite make out what he was writing but then I realized...."Rachel".  He also started drawing hearts everywhere (see the heart after her name??).  My son is in love.  Apparently he has been writing a secret person a Valentine every day of this month in school.  That would be why he knows how to spell her name ;)

Hope your day is filled with puppy love and hearts!!!

Our Family Valentine's
The Girl LOVES gluesticks :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Family Date Night

Saturday night was our first Family Date Night!  It was a huge success and I hope this becomes a monthly tradition.  We started off at 4pm after Scott came home from work.  We surprised the kids with dinner at their favorite restaurant, The Olive Garden.  We could not believe the crowd, who eats that early??  Despite the wait we had a very nice dinner and then came home for a Pajama Party.  Once in jammies we played Just Dance on the Wii and got really hot and sweaty.  Z decided that the perfect way to calm down was to build a nest of pillows (an idea from Kara Fleck on Simple Kids) and listen to a Sparkle Story (our new favorite thing).   It was super relaxing and a really great story.

Our Family Date Night was all about family, love and togetherness.  The perfect way to take some time to be together and celebrate an early Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Z's Lesson in Giving

Taking Dave Ramsey's Advice, we decided to teach our children the importance of money and saving.  We made 3 jars with Z for his money.

He now has a Spend jar, a Give jar and a Save jar.  All money that he earns/receives is to be split among these three jars (70% goes into spend, 20% into save and 10% goes into give). 

A while back I posted about Z doing chores to earn money to donate to Heifer International.  He did earn some money doing this and also took some of his Christmas money and put it in his Give Jar.  After hearing my dad on the radio talking about the work he will be doing in Hondurus later this month with his Rotary Club, Z decided to donate his Give Money to this effort.  We surprised my dad and sent a check for the organization.  He then surprised us by having Z's name added to the list of donors on the plaque that will hang in the new school they are building. 
My dad's Rotary District has been involved in Missions to Hondurus for many years.  They always take a medical team (nurses, doctors, dentists) to work in the hospitals and out in the villages and a civilian group to do a project.  The have built schools, worked on installing clean water filters and so much more.  My dad has been quite a few times and my sister and aunt (both nurses) joined him on his first trip.  This year my dad's best friend is going along and it is my hope that in a few years Z and I will be able to go too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Rocky Weekend

Well this past weekend marked the start of our 10 Day Family Recharge and the best way to describe it was ROCKY.  The recharge has been great and Erin and all of her guest contributors are doing a wonderful job of inspiring us daily to be the best family unit that we can be.  I am hoping that the lessons I learned this weekend will help to make the rest of the recharge for positive.

 When I signed up for the 10 Day Family Recharge, I had a vision of our family slowing down, connecting and having BIG family fun for 10 glorious days.  I should have known that whenever my expectations are higher than normal, I usually fall hard from the disappointment.  Between Scott working at the office on Saturday (he will be doing this all month), Z and I getting over our colds, Scott in the middle of his cold,  Lil' C coming down with a cold and the Superbowl....this weekend was far from my original vision of family connection.

The little time we did have together was either spent coughing, arguing or rushing around trying to get chores done.   Among all the crazy of the weekend, we were able to sneak 45 minutes of family time outside.  This is when we did our nature scavenger hunt (a suggestion from the recharge), fed the birds and just played.  It was nice to have a moment to slow down, connect and be together. 
So what have I learned from these last few days?  I have learned that it truly is about quality and not quantity.  In this season of our life we do not have a lot of time together.  It is all about taking the time that we do have and living in the moment.  What I have to do is not put too much emphasis or expect too much from these moments....just appreciate where I am and who I am with.  As Elizabeth Mitchell beautifully sings, "I am so glad I'm Here...."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making Memories....

"Please Excuse our Messy House, The Kids are Making Memories....."

 I love that saying above and I try to repeat it over and over when I look at my house after a day of my children creating :)  

These photos are from our outdoor family scavenger hunt this past weekend (part of the 10 day Family Recharge).  I had to hide some unnatural versions of some of the nature objects because they aren't around this time of year, it made it even more fun ;)  We also took some time to feed our bird friends and were so excited when a chickadee came to sample the feast right in front of us!!

Can you see the chickadee??

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

30 Day Yoga Challenge

 I LOVE Yoga!  I love the practice of it, I love the way I feel after it, I love how it calms and centers me....I just love it.  The problem for me is I am so sporatic when it comes to doing it.  Some weeks I do it 3-5 times and others I don't get to it at all.  It was my physical therapists request that I join a yoga studio.  I have tried a few studios out but between my husband's busy schedule, our need to save money and my need for quality family time on the weekends, it has not worked out for me.  But that is okay because I am just as content with home practice.

So with my few yoga DVDs at hand and my subscription to Gaiam TV through the Roku (love this!), I am ready to set out on a 30 day Yoga Challenge :)  I started Monday and plan to do yoga everyday for 30 days.  They say it takes 4-6 weeks to create a habit (especially a healthy habit) and that you should tell people about the challenge so that you are held accountable.  That is why I am writing this post and I am hoping that this challenges helps to make yoga a part of my daily life. 
I have also started a morning/evening routine thanks to Tsh over at Simple Mom.  For the past two weeks I have been pretty good about getting to them.  My morning routine involves playing an AM mix of soothing music, drinking 20 oz of water, 5 basic stretches, reading over our Family Purpose Statement and then sipping my coffee while visiting with nature (staring out the window for now but hopefully I will get outside when it warms up).  My ideal would be doing this routine alone but that never works out.  However my kids are more relaxed now in the morning and often times join me for the staring out the window part :)

In the evening my routine is a 30 minute clean up of the house, 20 minutes on the computer, a chat with my dear husband (if he is home), my nightly prep for bed, my PT exercises and then 15-20 minutes of reading.  I usually end up reading for longer so I need to start the routine earlier so I can get enough sleep :)

I now find that I look forward to both of these routines, especially the evening routine.  I am hoping to keep them up faithfully until they become a part of me.