Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Adoption Updates

Remember me? Boy, is all this adoption stuff time consuming, or what?!? Hey... there's a learning curve with everything, I'm told. It shouldn't surprise me that it's taken a while to get used to the new lingo, meet all these new "friends" who guide you through the process, and run in rabbit trails gathering information and documents for the final application. I get even MORE tired just thinking about it! LOL!

For my friends on Facebook, some of this will be old news... so bear with me and the others as I catch everybody up, mmmkay? ;) One thing I've realized is that things change DAILY and what was considered set in stone one day, can change in a moments notice. I'll try to keep everyone updated as best I can. So let's get to it:

We have decided that we will give our sweet little girl the name "Evie" as her first name. It was going to be short for "Evangeline," but Chuck said that was such a big, long name for such a little girl (that and the fact that he said he didn't know if he could even SPELL it. Cop-out!) and because we were going to call her "Evie" and not "Evangeline," he explained we should just name her what we will call her. I wanted to argue that I think it's very southern to have a "proper" first name that isn't a nickname, and that Evangeline is just so beautiful, but I relented just because (1) he made a valid point and (2) we have so many more decisions to make that I figured we needed to agree to move on. Marriage is all about compromise, right? Let's just hope he remembers what an agreeable wife he has the next time a decision needs to be made! LOL!

As for a middle name, the jury is still out. Bernice is still a contender as well as Hayden, McKnight, Lee and Charles, which are all family names. I love the names like Mercy and Glory, but they do not "go" with her first name, so they are put on my mental shelf for future reference if ever this situation were to arise again. ;) I also love the name Hope and it keeps presenting itself in conversations and in written words between friends, so it's on the short list too. I'm also loving Laine (which would be a form of my mother's middle name "Elaine"), so I'm going to reach out again to all of you to give me your opinions, too. You all did GREAT last time so let's hear what y'all have to say. Names are SO fun!

I received an e-mail the day before yesterday telling me of some changes to Evie's scheduled surgeries. Her emergency medical visa was denied but she has gotten approval to be a patient on the African Mercy (a naval battleship outfitted as a floating hospital with American trained doctors and nurses). Now they tell me she is scheduled for blood work on the 19th of April and surgery to repair her lip on the 20th if her blood work comes back okay. She will stay in recovery on the ship for 7 days and then her next surgery will be scheduled after that according to her rate of recovery. Pastor Samson will be taking her to her appointments on the ship. I wish I could be with her. Please pray for the nurses to treat my baby like their own while she recovers. I can't imagine what she'll be thinking is going on. :(

We are plowing full speed ahead with the rest of our adoption paperwork and it's grueling. I feel guilty taking the time to write this update, even, when it seems like I should be working on what I can to get farther along in the process. Ahh, mommy guilt. Even for the child that is not yet mine! What am I saying... of COURSE she's mine. Silly mommy. Anyway, the circuit clerk's office denied my passport photos because they said my glasses were cutting off my eyes. All this after I sat and filled out 3 pages of an application, went to the bank to get the cash that needed to be paid to the clerk for a "clerks fee" in addition to the $110 for the passport itself, and then she tells me about my photos. Sigh. I almost flung myself out of her second story window! That was last Thursday. A week later, I'm still no closer to getting that stupid passport. But, I've had good reason:

We have been busy collecting donations for our yard sale that we are having Saturday to benefit our adoption and our garage is FULL. Like an episode of "Hoarders," full. I need to take a picture... cuz it's AWESOME! People have been so great bringing stuff by and I've gone and gotten a truck load from Anniston and a van load from a friend's house and we are just pumped to make some money this weekend for our little Evie! I should be out there sorting and pricing right now, but I'm blogging instead. Priorities. ;) Chuck is off tomorrow so he can help me. Cuz there is LOTS to do, people. I'll let you know how we did on Monday.

So on that note, I'm gonna scoot and start my "Flight of the Bumblebees." Just wanted to take a few minutes and touch base with all of you. Pray for our yard sale that the people who need what we have to sell will come. And pray for sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine.... :D

Saturday, March 31, 2012

More on Names

I love it when you make a request and the people comply! Thanks, everyone who've given me suggestions for names for my little B. They are still coming in as a matter of fact! Keep 'em coming!

Halle has now dropped down to third place. What a difference a week makes, right? Bringing up the rear in fourth place is Layla which means "dark beauty." In keeping with family names (since both of my other girls have them), my second choice is Laina Bernice (which is a form of Elaine, my mom's middle name). My absolute favorite choice is Evie (actually Evangeline... because my girls also have "biblical" names as well and though it's not an actual name from the bible, I still consider it biblical). Chuck likes Evie, too, though most of the time we still refer to her as "B." I've caught myself calling her Evie-B a time or two, but Jamie still calls her Bernice. I told her she could call her whatever she wanted to, and JR seemed okay with that for now.

I've been reading as many "adoption blogs" as I can trying to see what others have done about name changes. I read one this morning where a couple had adopted a toddler from Uganda and they changed his first name and kept his African name as his middle name. They also gave him a second middle name, so he actually has four names. Maybe I will send them a message and get their input on this name change dilemma. If any of you have comments or suggestions, please let me know.

A few people have wondered if Bernice has a traditional African name, and I don't know if she does or not. I'm not even sure if she has a middle name or what it is. I must write all this stuff down and try to remember to ask the next time I talk to Tammy Brooks from the Jesse Brooks Foundation. I haven't heard from Tammy in a while. I would like to know if she's heard anything regarding B's emergency medical visa. I may try to call her today and see what the status of all that is...

So that's the update on the name thang. :D I'll keep everyone posted as we narrow it down. I'm thinking Evie just feels right, though. Time will tell! Next in my order of business (besides working on our child abuse/neglect clearance and getting fingerprints made) is working on a timeline of sorts to document all this adoption business. I'll be sharing that with y'all soon. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Expectations

Being new to this adoption process, I'm constantly surprised at all the emotions that I've experienced over these past few weeks. I guess in the beginning I was in pure shock that we were even considering it. Fear crept in not too long after that (could we handle this physically, emotionally, and financially?). That soon gave way to excitement pretty quickly, and now I'm just anxious to have her here. It's funny. Working my way through the adoption process, I have experienced the same emotions that I had when I was expecting my two biological children!

Talking to my friend today, I realized just how much I actually feel like I'm expecting! And I know that technically we are, but I just never expected to feel the same way about it as I did with the other two. Well, not physically, of course. I never "did" pregnancy well... either time. If you had a terrific pregnancy experience, good for you. I'm actually jealous. Terribly so. That's why expecting this little one's arrival without morning sickness, swollen feet or hemorrhoids is all "win-win" in my book!

We are planning on making the office into the baby's room and are thrilled to be getting a day bed from my cousin for Lil' B to sleep in. Guess that means I've got a fantastic excuse to get my decorating on, right? We have enjoyed tossing around possible first names and planning where everyone will sit in the minivan once we go from "four" to "five." My sister assures me that she's got plenty of Peyton's clothes to share with me and I've caught myself looking in the stores at little 18 month sizes and wondering if she'll like pink as much as Jamie Ruth does. I seriously think about her constantly throughout the day and though my tummy is not growing by leaps and bounds, my heart sure is. This "expecting" thing is pretty cool. Maybe the third time really is the charm!

Many of you have asked where we are in the process. Well, we have begun to fill out the final adoption application and it's taking a while. Mostly because it's 25 plus pages and I get a little overwhelmed trying to schedule time to get fingerprinted, get a physical for the four of us, write my autobiography, get my vaccinations, contact references, watch 10 hours of adoption education, etc., etc., etc., all the while taking care of the day to day business of a family of four. My friend said this stage of the process is called being "paper pregnant." At first I thought the term was a little silly but now I'm beginning to think it's pretty appropriate. Many people enjoy pregnancy... I was not one of those people. Perhaps it's not big shocker that I'm not having a ball with my paper pregnancy, either. But it's a necessary means to an end, I guess. And like my other pregnancies, I'm just trying to take things one day at a time! More to come...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random Pre-Adoption Thoughts About a Name

So, like I don't have more important things to think about like "where in the world are we going to get $15,000 to adopt this baby?" or "shouldn't I be watching some of that 10 hours of required adoption education instead of blogging?" I think about random stuff like "should we keep Bernice's name or give her a new one that we gave her?"

I remember years ago when Angelina Jolie adopted her son Pax (you don't hear as much about ol' Pax, do ya, compared to the others) and I distinctly remember that I thought it was odd that she changed his name. The reason I found it odd, I guess, was because he was older and not a baby like her other children were when they were adopted. I tried to imagine what it would be like if all of a sudden one day, someone said that you were no longer "So-and so" and that you would from now on be known as "Such-and such." Weird. I imagined little Pax playing and Angie calling him for dinner and him not responding. "Oh wait! I'm Pax! She's calling for me! Coming Mom!!!" See. Random thoughts even way back then.

Chuck, JR and I have talked about it and I was outnumbered by their vote to keep Bernice's name what it is. JR doesn't like change, so it came as no big shock that she wanted to keep her name the same. Chuck explained that he actually liked the name Bernice (really? Because... really?). The man continues to amaze me. Perhaps stupify would be a better word. But getting back on track here... I've been thinking about her name and wondering if it's the best fit for her. Here's why:

I was told by the lady who runs the orphanage that Bernice's mother tried to kill her twice and eventually just neglected her because she thought that she was cursed (because of her cleft lip and palate). So if Bernice is the name given to her by the woman that tried three unsuccessful attempts to end her life, well... I'd rather her not have ANYTHING that ties her to that situation. On the other hand, if by the time she gets to us she is old enough to understand that she IS Bernice, would changing her name totally mess her up? I've contemplated a few names for her first name, while keeping Bernice as her middle name, but nothing has won me over.

Some friends of mine have suggested that we call her Niecee (like Niecee Nash) and I think that's cute. My aunt has called her Bernie... also cute. Chuck calls her Lil' B (and I do too, sometimes). And though it's catchy, somehow I can't wrap my brain around her filling out school work and putting her first name down as "B," the artist formerly known as "Bernice." Both of my older girls have family names, so should Bernice be given a family name too? I'm perplexed.

So what do YOU guys think? Leave me a comment or message me if you want if you have any ideas. Names that I like for little girls just don't seem to fit her and who she is. The only contender right now is "Halle Bernice," because Halle means "unexpected gift," and that"s exactly what she is to our family: a beautiful, unexpected, magnificent gift. :D

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Like He Needs ME Bragging On HIM

Friends, words are just not going to be able to do justice to all that has been going on here in the last three weeks. My life has been turned upside down, backwards and sideways and all in the very best way possible. I have been accused of losing my mind by some (leave it to family to tell you like it is!) and heralded as a "Mother Teresa" by others... neither of which is any where NEAR the case. :) When I talk to people these days, people just nod and shake their head in a blank, dear-in-the-headlights kind of way. I've tried to explain it to the people that know me best as the feeling of being body-snatched. I realize that I am still me, but I am not operating like me. Are you nodding at me all wide-eyed? Of course you are. That's okay. You are in good company. ;)

March the second was a typical Friday night for our family, with one exception: it was the day that God intervened in my life and planted a desire (with every single member of my household simultaneously on board) to adopt a special needs child from Africa. If you are friends with me on Facebook, this is old news. Bear with me. I'm planning on using this blog to document this new world of "adoption stuff" that has opened itself up to me. I will explain in detail later exactly how it came to be, but I figure I needed to have a jumping off point in preserving all of this for posterity and so that one day Lil' B (as she has been lovingly referred to lately) can read this amazing story of how she came to our family.

First and foremost, let me be the first to say that four weeks ago, adoption of ANY kind was not even on our family's radar. Chuck and I voluntarily removed ourselves from the gene pool years ago. One handicapped child and one feisty red-head was more than enough to keep him and I busy. Hey, we recognized our limitations. Any more than that and we would be outnumbered, right? Our plate was (and IS) full, as I'm sure many of yours is. Let me also say that I was perfectly content in my life and was going along, minding my own business, taking care of my own things on the home front when KA-BLAM! I was changed. Body-snatched. I look at nothing the way I did prior to March 2, 2012. I've been a somewhat religious/spiritual person all of my life, but have never had an experience with the Almighty like I've had in the past 18 days.

And to top it all off, when the Creator of the universe orchestrates something... stand back and be amazed at what starts happening around you. Seriously, I almost expect to walk out my front door some days and find that my hedges are on fire (remember the "burning bush" from Sunday School?) or have an angel of the Lord knock on my door with some specific instructions for me. You know, instead of the occasional Jehovah's Witness I usually get. No offense to any Witnesses reading, of course.

And you better believe that I'll be sharing all of this with you that care to read my lil' ol' blog, because honestly, I never want to forget a single thing. I'm in awe. You may be too. And I know God does not need ME bragging on HIM, but if the Alpha and Omega can reach me, use me, change ME, he can reach, use, and change you. More to come, I promise...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Music Therapy Thursday: "Free" by Dara Maclean

This is my favorite song right now. Seriously, I listen to it over and over. And over. :) I love it when I feel like an artist has reached into my head and penned out a song that I'm just not talented enough to write myself. That's what Dara Maclean has done with this song.

This particular version is acoustic and I think it makes it all the more beautiful. And just LOOK at her. She is so incredibly beautiful and talented that I thought watching her perform would be more interesting that just looking at the lyrics. But if you want to listen to the radio version and read the lyrics, you can find it here. It's a little funkier with a an infectious beat, but I think you'll agree both songs are just awesome. Listen for yourself and enjoy today's music therapy!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities (and Fourteen Bras!)

Have you ever looked back over the course of an event in your life and cringed at the fact that that there are precious hours that can never, ever be gotten back? Hours that could have been used... oh, I don't know, educating your self on organic gardening, studying your SS lesson, playing with your children, discovering a cure for cancer (alright, now I'm just getting silly), but instead you have become mind-numbingly exhausted performing a dreaded, albeit necessary, task? Welcome to my last 5 days.

It all began with my weight loss. Yeah, I'm gonna talk about it AGAIN because, well, I'm pretty proud of myself and because it has affected every.single.area. of my life... and not all in good ways. Strange, right? When can weight loss be a negative? When you start out on a mission to find a bra that fits your ever-changing body shape, that's when. Yeah, this is one chapter they left out of all the fitness books I've ever read. Why? Because I'm almost tempted to eat my weight in banana split Blizzards just to get back into my old bras. I'm only half kidding.

It was time for new bras anyway. Without the weight loss, my bras were in sad shape: stretched out, ripped in places, underwires all jank. That's right: jank. ;) And because I've got lingerie selling experience (what job haven't I had, right?), I knew that a bra fitting was of the utmost importance. So off I go. The cute little bra fitting specialist who rocks red lipstick better than anyone I have ever seen, did her duty and proceeded to tell me (like I figured) that my bra size had changed. Formerly a 38 C, I was now gonna be sporting a 36 D. This is where I'm NOT going to go into the details of the subtle differences between band size and cup size, but feel free to message me if you need clarification. I'll also explain how to measure yourself later on in the post. The majority of women are walking around in the wrong size bra. True story.

Anyway, to say that I tried almost every single bra on in the store would not be an understatement. Luckily, I felt like I redeemed myself somewhat with the staff because I was able to put the bras back on their hangers appropriately (that year of working in the lingerie department at Sears has really paid off). What I ultimately decided on was the same style of bra I have been wearing for the past 3 years, just in a different size. Now, I'm a freak and would prefer that all my bras be nude in color because it takes the guesswork out of deciding what to wear under my clothes so as to not show through whatever I'm wearing over it. And yes, white bras do show up under certain fabrics, but this rant isn't about my obsessive behavior (although I guess it really kind of IS), so I digress... I leave the store with one white, one nude, and one black (because that's all the colors they had in my size) and order two more nudes. Throw in two packs of underwear and a pack of socks and I almost skip home giddy to clean out my underwear drawer and start fresh.

Two days later after WASHING the bras and wearing them, I realize that I cannot under any circumstances wear them for another single second. I take off the bra I'm wearing and find that the underwire has all but poked a hole in my side and the band has left a permanent red indention all around my torso. How can this be? They felt fine in the store. Annoyed, but deciding maybe after 10 years that underwire bras may be the enemy, I return to the bra place.

Cute little red-lipstick-wearing bra fitter was working again and was even more determined than I was to find some bras that worked for me. I liked her spunkiness and her customer service. I swear you would have thought she worked on commission. Anyhoo... off I go trying almost every single WIRE-FREE bra in the joint. I left with 3 of those boxed bras that I used to think were only for grandmas (ahem), and a sleep bra. Yeah, I sleep in bras. But that's another story.

Another full day of wearing said "wire-free" bra, and the misery ensued. Did you know that the main support of your bra is in the band and not the straps? More trueness. My girls require more support than a wire-free bra can give. And I began to think the band was a bit too snug, even in the loosest hook. So I go BACK to the bra store (little red-lipstick-wearing bra fitter is working again and now thinks I'm either stalking her, or the most particular customer this side of the Mason-Dixon). I purchase a 3-pack of bra extenders and went on my merry, slightly chaffed and corded, way.

The good news is I called and cancelled my order for the two bras that were on back order. The bad news is that although the bra extenders I bought helped with the ill-fitting band, they presented another problem in the process: the cups began to pucker. By this point I'm about ready to walk around all National Geographic-like and say to heck with all this bra business. "It shouldn't be this hard," I think to myself as I put my old-ratty-bras-I-was-trying-to-replace-in-the-very-beginning back on. Light bulb moment: Just go get your old size bra, even if it's not as snug in the band as you would like. Besides, 10 more pounds, and the snug bra might fit. It would have to be a better alternative than all this other nonsense. So I go off again... this time to another store in another city (that I look up online to make sure they carry the style I'm looking for) because I just don't think I could face little red-lipstick-wearing bra fitter again. Seriously, does she not get an off day? Sheesh.

This time I find my good ol' standby (in white and nude... the only two in my size in the store) and proceed to checkout. My husband, along for the ride and moral support, suggests I try on more bras by picking out a few more for me while I was in the dressing room. Really? I just want to go home and put this nightmarish hide-and-seek game to bed. But I relent. Mostly because I was just too tired and defeated to argue. I'm beginning to accept the fact that I'm in an in-between stage/size and that in another month with persistent diet and exercise (or a couple of Shamrock Shakes later, depending on which route I choose to take) I can look forward to doing all this crap again. Yippee.

But as luck would have it, one of the bras he chose (appropriately named "the softest bra ever") pulled through for me. Underwire: check. Not poking me in the side: check. Comfortable band: check. No "spillage:" check. Soft inside lining that doesn't feel like it's made of burlap: check. No lace: check. Folks, we have ourselves a winner! Got three of THOSE babies too in white, nude and taupe. Wearing one now. Tags are still on the other two just in case. lol! Now all I have to do is grow some courage to return the other two bras in the box to the bra place or stalk the joint like a private investigator to make sure cute little red-lipstick-wearing bra fitter is (finally) enjoying a day off. :/

If you are keeping track, that's 5 days, 2 different stores, in 2 different cities and 14 (count 'em: FOURTEEN) bras and 1 completely exasperated momma with appropriately covered, completely supported, and perky boobs. Men should thank their lucky stars every day that they were born a man, right? I mean, what could be more miserable than bra shopping? Oh yeah. Swimsuit shopping. And ironically enough... I'm gonna be needing a new one of those, too. Aye caramba!!!! :D

To make sure you are wearing the right size bra, measure yourself around your ribcage, right under your boobs. Add 4 inches. I don't know why, just do it. ;) This is your band size (If it happens to be an odd number, you could possibly go either up or down. Trying on bras is essential to finding a good fit for you. They are all made a little different.). Next measure the fullest part if your breast across your nipples. Subtract the original number you got from measuring your ribcage from this number. This determines your cup size. If the difference is:
1 inch: A cup
2 inches: B cup
3 inches: C cup
4 inches: D cup
5 inches: DD cup
6 inches: E cup
7 inches: F cup

If you are larger than an DD cup, I suggest contacting a specialty store that caters to larger bra sizes. Hope this information is helpful to some of you. Good luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Let's Start Monday With Dessert!

This post is brought to you today by my wonderful sister who has been doing Weight Watchers with me and who continues to KILL it every week on her weigh-in day! She shared with me a snack/ dessert that is delicioso and only 2 Weight Watchers points. Yep. TWO.

I did not realize that chocolate graham crackers are less in calories and carbs than regular graham crackers. Read the labels, peeps, and compare. It's true! Also, fat free Cool Whip, when left frozen, has the consistency of ice cream. One flat of chocolate graham crackers (broken in half), plus about 2 TBS of fat free Cool Whip (remember your portions!), plus some sliced strawberries on the top (fruit is FREE!) equals 2 measly points of maximum awesomeness for your taste buds!!! That's the kind of math momma can get excited about! lol! And best of all.. it's really like a little sundae, of sorts. And delicious. Did I mention how delicious it is?!?!

It's been fun to be creative and find new ways to satisfy my sweet tooth on this weight loss journey. Now go and make yourself this little treat and enjoy it guilt free. Or you could have some cobbler and ice cream for 13 points instead. I'll let you decide. ;) Happy Monday, folks!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Music Therapy Thursday...New Attitude (Remix)

I got a picture text this morning from my sister standing on her scale, looking down at the digital read-out. We've been encouraging each other since we've started doing Weight Watchers and her pic this morning showed that she's lost 11 pounds!!! Woot-woot! The only thing I love better than having a weight loss plan that works, is having a partner in crime to cheer you on (and cheer you up when the scale's not budging) along the way. Way to go, Courtney! You are kicking butt and taking names, girlfriend!

For today's music therapy I thought I'd post a song that I love working out to. When I found this remix, I knew it would be perfect for today's post! The video is a little grainy, but whoever mixed this song did a great job making this Patti LaBelle hit current. Now if only we could do something about that 80's fashion... YIKES! But seriously, any version of this song will help you keep a pace that will burn some serious calories during your cardio! Download now, chicas!

And again, GREAT JOB COURTNEY! We are going to be so cute in our bathing suits this summer!!! I have been in such a great mood the last couple of days and I KNOW it's from the confidence I have gotten from losing weight. And it's not so much about how I look in the mirror (although that's part of it), but I'm really proud of myself for making up my mind to do something and actually succeeding with it. It's a great feeling, really. Momma's got a "new attitude," herself!

"I'm in control, my worries are few.
Know where I'm going and I know what to do.
I've tidied up my point of view.....
I've got a NEW ATTITUDE!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A (Long and Rather Disturbing) Rant About The Best Kind of Valentine

I hurried out this morning after dropping the girls off at school to pick up some treats for the 3 loves of my life. Nothing like waiting til the last minute, huh? Apparently great minds think alike because I found myself among other last minute shoppers, vying for the last of the picked over cards and chocolates, and grabbing up flowers and teddy bears like they were bread and milk with a 3 day snow in the forecast! You might think that this is where I'm going to bash Valentine's Day for all it's commercialism and how I'm going to buck the status quo and NOT contribute to the multi-million dollar business that surrounds Cupid and his pesky bow... but you would be wrong. I just love Valentine's Day!

I'm not your average girl (we all know this to be true already, right?). I'm not one that requires flowers and jewelry on what I call the trifecta of wallet zappers: birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine's Day. I'm actually a girl that enjoys practical gifts. Anytime of the year. I've also been known to ask for hand written notes for the aforementioned "holidays." Of course I realize that for someone who does not operate on the side of the brain that I do that a Whitman's Sampler and a rose from the Jet Pep might be a lot less work, but so far, I've not been disappointed in any gift that the hubs decides to give me. This year is no exception.

I got a text this morning from my better half telling me "Happy Heart Day" and to inform me that he would be cooking me dinner tonight. For those who know us, this is not unusual, but what makes it special is that he had looked up two recipes for dinner and dessert that would not only be delish and something I would enjoy, but that would also stay within my allotted Weight Watchers points for the day. The man is resourceful if nothing else. Oh, and the bomb-dot-com! And he's all mine, girls.

I've said it before and I'll say it again now: he's the best gift I could ever get for any holiday. Am I making you want to vomit yet? Sorry. I understand that this kind of talk can be sickening sweet, even for me most days. But it is what it is. I'd trade all the candy and all the flowers in the world for his sweet heart that he gives to me 365 days a year. Okay. All done. Mushy rant over. We now return to your regularly scheduled blog post... sans all the lovey-dovey mumbo-jumbo!

So... in return, I had planned to give him something thoughtful and romantic: An Adele CD. He loves that woman and her fantabulous voice (though he prolly wouldn't want me sharing that with the world. Our little secret, okay?). But guess what? No Adele CD to be found anywhere in the county after her clean sweep at the Grammy's. Boo! So I've decided chocolate and lingerie would have to suffice (for me, not him. Ahem. That would just be weird. Oh! But the chocolate IS for him and not me. Confused yet? No worries. I'm starting to confuse myself...). So mother and Glenda, if you are reading this ((blush)), I apologize for getting all "bow-chica-wow-wow" in this post. But we are married. It's legal. And God told us too. Yeah, that's it. We're just being good Christians. ;)

ANYWAY... My point is that I don't think it matters what you give to your sweetie on Valentine's Day as long as it comes from the heart. Instead of finding the perfect gift to give, let us be the perfect gift to our significant other. Guaranteed you will get the best return for your investment. Four out of five naked cherubs packing arrows agree. ;) Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Redeeming Myself From Yesterday...Must Be Doing Something Right

I love it when my husband tells me he's read my blog. You know, without me even telling him to. ;) Yesterday's conversation with him began with him telling me that he had indeed read my blog (cue the applause in my head), but then ended with him telling me that he thought it was kind of harsh (and the LP playing said appause makes that screeching/scratching sound when the needle is not so delicately removed and the record stops). Ouch. Huh?

I feel like my mothering style is schizophrenic at best. I teeter back and forth between breaking my arm patting myself on the back for volunteering at school and making homemade Valentines with Jamie to beating myself up for giving her coke with breakfast and having terribly incomplete baby books marking the girls' milestones from birth to age 5. Can you relate? I hear so many times, "Pick your battles with your children," and for the most part, I feel like I do a good job. But then I stumble across a blog about a mother with seven children who homeschools them all, makes homemade bread, and only buys organic produce (if she doesn't grow it herself in her garden that all seven children help her with). I become exhausted just reading about it. Mouth gaping wide open, I turn the computer off and wonder how my lil' chilluns are EVAH gonna make it with a momma like me.

Well, lucky for them they have a dad that goes above and beyond the call of duty. If yesterday's post left you thinking that I'm doing all this parenting stuff by myself, you are sadly mistaken. My husband often jokes that I don't know how good I've got it, to which I reply, "Uh, yeah I DO. I dated the planet before we met. I know what's out there. Why do you think I waited 28 years to get married???" I don't know if this kind of sarcastic comeback is exactly what he had in mind if he was fishing for a compliment, but he knows he's appreciated. I tell him all the time.

And then there's the saving grace that I pray for my kids all the time. I call down all the powers from heaven most every day in carline to help me be able to cope with whatever the red-head has been holding in all day, only to release it on me in the comfort and safety of the minivan. I pray for strength (both physical and emotional) to be able to care for my sweet Anna as she gets older, and heavier, all the while reataining her 18 month old mindset. I pray that despite my faults and shortcomings, that somehow, somehow, I will do something right and instill in them love and compassion for others, self respect, and respect for God. And then like in the movies, the skies part, and my prayers are answered.

Jamie came home from school the other day and began telling me about her day. She said that the substitute teacher they had that day suggested that the children break up into partners to read to each other as the school day came to a close. A little boy in her classroom (whom she has talked about before) began asking different kids if they would like to be his reading partner. (Okay, here's some background info: This little boy would be what an adult would call an "outcast." He's just a bit too quirky for the status quo and unfortunately is excluded by others for being what Jamie describes as "weird." ) Anyway, the little boy asks student after student to read with him and each child he asks says no. Jamie then tells me, "So I just walk up to him and say, 'Charlie,* would you like to read with me?' " I asked what he did then and she says, "He just kinda jumped back a little bit, kinda shocked, and shook his head yes. My friends were all looking at me like I was weird, but I didn't care." I almost cried.

"Of all things you have ever done, Jamie Ruth, I am most proud of this one thing. You may not realize it now, but you have made a difference in this little boy's life. This is what God wants us to do: love each other and take care of each other. Did it make you feel good to be nice to Charlie*?" She nodded. "I bet it made God feel good too. Come here and give me a hug!" And just like that, all that "coke for breakfast" and incomplete baby books didn't even matter anymore. Light had conquered darkness and my ability as a mother was not in question anymore. At least not for the rest of the afternoon. ;)

And then yesterday rolls around and she tells me, "Mom, Erin totally stole my idea." "How so?" I replied. "Well, yesterday, she just went up to Charlie* first thing and asked him if he wanted to read with her." "That's great, honey! Now because what you have done, others want to include him too. Isn't that great?" "Yeah, I guess. But I did it first." LOL! I guess we'll still need to work on humility, but thank GOD, I must be doing something right! Happy Thursday, peeps!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time for ME

I hate this idea of motherhood being all about self sacrifice. And could I SOUND any more self-centered??? Well, maybe I am. I sure as heck don't feel self centered most days when I'm playing chauffeur to my precious gals, forking out big bucks for violin lessons, or being so sleep deprived, but still managing to function well enough to make it to the fridge to get a little red-headed baby a drink when she's sick. Or change a diaper. Or guide a sleep walking child back to their bed. Again.

But that's what we DO, right? We are good mommas and we put our little ones' needs and wants ahead of our own. But at what price? Where is that proverbial line in the sand where the sacrificing mom of the year turns into our personal "own worst enemy?" Almost 11 years and counting, and I'm still having trouble figuring this one out.

As a new mother, my "mommy guilt" came on rather quickly. Sure, the newness of having such a sweet bundle of joy to feed in the middle of the night (every two hours, sigh) got me through for a while. And frankly, I got a kick out of being "the one she needed" by breastfeeding. But at 7 weeks old, I dropped that precious bundle off at day care without a tear and drove like a bat out of Hades back to my j-o-b. With mommy guilt. Not because I was leaving her, but because I was happy to do so and get back to something that was just for me. I blamed it on the fact that I had waited so long to have kids and tried to convince myself that in time, my feelings would change. But they never really did.

Chuck, I think, always wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom. We would talk about it right after Anna was born and plan that "when things got a little better financially," I would consider the idea. Emphasis on the word, consider. ;) Life had other plans, though. After only 13 months of motherhood, Anna began having seizures and multiple health problems that required me to quit my job and stay home. I did NOT handle it well.

Years later, another kid in tow, and after many shed tears, I became okay with my lot in life: SAHM, housewife, martyr. Yep. Martyr. "One who makes a great sacrifice for the sake of a principle." Notice how similar the word martyr is to mother. Don't ALL mothers make great sacrifices for the sake of their children? (Well, not all mothers. But that's a post for another day.) Seriously, we sacrifice and go to work so our kids can have a private school education or to afford the extracurriculars. We sacrifice and stay home to keep them from having to be the "latch-key" kids we were when we were growing up. We sacrifice our wardrobes so that they can have one. We sacrifice our gym membership for their intramural soccer season. We sacrifice "must see t.v." and watch recorded "Barney" episodes for the umpteenth time. We sacrifice pedicures for art lessons and date nights with our hubbies for slumber parties. And if you sit there and tell me that all of that is perfectly okay with you and you wouldn't have it any other way... well, I both applaud you and feel sympathy for you all at the same time.

Motherhood is but a season, dear sisters. By all means, cherish it. Embrace it. Give your children your best. Too quickly we will be reminiscing about our little ones in a far better light than things actually were. ;) Unless you are like me and are the mother of a handicapped child who will grow to be a handicapped adult and need your constant mothering at home until, I don't know, forever... your reign as mother hen will come to an end and another role and season of life will emerge. Who are we besides mothers and caregivers?

As I get closer to my 40th birthday, I barely recognize the reflection peering back at me in the looking glass. I understand that youth, like mothering small children, does not last forever. But what I see in the mirror is someone who has been neglected. And not just her physical appearance. Where is the light in the eyes? Where is the "get up and go?" I'm reminded of Rosie the Robot... you know, the maid from "The Jetsons?" (Totally dating myself, here.) A worker, for sure, but lifeless. Robotic. Monotone. Most days I'm simply running on autopilot, getting things done. Sacrificing for the good and welfare of the family. But again, at what cost?

Remember the last time you rode an airplane? What did the flight attendant say? "In the event that the oxygen masks drop, if you are traveling with small children, first place the mask on yourself and then assist your children." Cuz momma ain't gonna be any help to her offspring if she's passed out from lack of O2, mmmkay? And the population at large accepts this as good common sense. So why do we have problems relating this to life? What is the "oxygen" that you are depriving yourself of, all the while fumbling and gasping to get your children's masks on?

While talking to my good friend Jaimee the other day, she reminded me (as she always does) to take time for myself. "Promise me, Linds, that you'll do something just for you once a week, okay?" At first this idea seemed so foreign to me. Something just for me, huh? What? When? So then I decided to reward my 5 lb weight loss with a pedicure. Whilst the callouses were being sloughed off, that dang mommy guilt reared her ugly head. "Really, Lindsey? A pedicure in January? Nobody is gonna even see those toes. Shouldn't you be mopping the floors at home, anyway? And you could've put that $25 to something a little more useful, don'tcha think?!?" Mommy guilt is my nemesis. Hate her.

So then I began a little dialogue with myself as the massage chair worked it's magic on my rhomboids and I politely told mommy guilt to shut-the-heck-up. I'm worth a whole lot more than $25, and I would be seeing my toes, thankyouverymuch, and just so we were clear... that particular shade of turquoise would make me smile every time I looked down and caught a glimpse at how outrageous my little piggies looked. Bam! Take THAT. Putting mommy guilt in her place like a BOSS. LOL!

"Me time" doesn't have to include spending money, either. There have been days reeking of PMS, with all the rights and privileges therein, where I have declared a "do-nothing" day. After dropping the kids off at school, I have been known to pop an Advil or two and crawl back into my memory foam mattress and snooze until 2:oo p.m. Once again, I sacrificed the laundry pile and a spattered cook-top, but we were really no worse for the wear. And no one was killed in a PMS rage, so I consider that day a success. :)

I see more books downloaded to my iPad in my future. A little more window shopping at antique stores, and a little more yoga and fitness... because I did a lot more of those things before I was a wife and mother (except the books were actually paper back then, gasp!) and those things make me happy. And how does that old saying go? "If momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy." No truer words, friends. Put on your oxygen mask first, and then attend to your children. And be sure to wait until the pilot turns the seat belt sign off before walking about the cabin. ;) Enjoy your flight!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Music Therapy Thursday...More Rain!

Who else besides me is SICK of this rainy weather? It's enough to make one a little stir crazy, no? Well girls, for today's music therapy I chose a song that always makes me happy, no matter how much the weather is affecting my mood. How apropos that it's about rain... :D

The Weather Girls can flat out SING, peeps, as this live performance shows. The male dancers in their sequined tap pants are a little creepy, but it makes me smile all the more. What I love most is watching every.single. age. group in the audience rock out to this "single woman's" anthem... even the dudes. Gotta love the French. They embrace life like no one else!

So enjoy today's music therapy and boogie on down with our French friends across the pond. I'm feeling better already....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cleaning Green, Compliments of Pinterest!

Here is a picture of me doing three things that I love: using craft supplies, re-purposing something into something else useful, and cleaning "green." I have been using a brand of cleaners from a company called Shaklee for about a year now and I really do love them. But being the economically savvy consumer I am, I just couldn't justify throwing out all the scrubbing bubbles I had left over from a Costco trip, so I have been trying to use it all up. Now that all the scrubbing bubbles are gone, I've been needing something with a little scouring power to clean my shower and tub alongside my Shaklee stuff and found the answer in Pinterest, of course.

Basically, the pin suggested to put baking soda in a parmesan cheese shaker to use as a dispenser for cleaning. When I went to Wal-Mart this morning and found said Parmesan cheese shaker, it was $1.98!!! And only about 2 inches tall... and GLASS. Umm... no. I remembered I had saved some Crystal Light containers to craft with, so I took out my crop-a-dile (mack-daddy hole punch) and used the smaller size hole punch to randomly perforate the lid. One small box of baking soda filled the container 3/4ths of the way full. Now I have a container for each bathroom at just about FIFTY CENTS a piece. Lurve....

And there she sits on the side of the tub waiting patiently for me to quit blogging and get to scrubbing. Ahhh, Pinterest. How do I love thee?! Have you ever made anything from your pin boards on Pinterest? This is just the first of many for me, I'm sure. Happy Monday, y'all! Now, pardon me while I go scrub the tub......

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sighing and Sassiness and "Swats," Oh My!

I've got a cheeky 7 year old girl that resides in my home and constantly tries my patience. Although she is very naive in comparison to her peers, she already has the mouth and the attitude of a teenager. Oy vey! And I'm painfully aware that it's MY fault.

I would consider myself the "heavy" in my household... you know, the "bad cop" in the "good cop/ bad cop" scenario. Don't get me wrong, though. Chuck means business and does discipline the girls, but I am the parent that Jamie says she's "scared of." Why? Because I'm the one handing out the corporal punishment 99.9% of the time, that's why. Yeah. Fun times.

Don't start reprimanding me for spanking my children, please. "To spank or not to spank" is not up for discussion, thankyouverymuch. ;) I've got no problem with any parent spanking a child's bottom when said child needs to be brought back into the fold of little people who know how to act appropriately. And say what you want about how awful it is that my child is afraid of me. It is my personal opinion that young people in general should be a lot MORE fearful of their parents... but those arguments aren't what's on the table today.What IS on the table is my inability to hand out those "swats" appropriately and effectively. Lemmee explain...

Like any mother who loves her children, I would rather do anything but hurt them. And because I am "the heavy," it gets really old being the enforcer all the time. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot more "talk" and a lot less "action," if ya know what I mean. Well, this momma is tired of talking. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your kids did things the first time without having to be hounded and sans whining? Yeah. I could go for some of that, myself.

My downfall is that I've been trying too hard to keep from spanking. That sounds a little strange, doesn't it? In an effort to keep from paddling my child's rear end, I exhaust myself with words, which leads to yelling (both ways), which inevitably leads to me wearing her little bottom out anyway. I've read every child-rearing book I could get my hands on, and they all say the same thing: do not spank in anger. Epic parenting FAIL. I only spank when I'm angry, how about you? I know I shouldn't, but I do. Why is it that I think that I know more than child psychologists and behaviorists? Why do I think that, somehow, the rules of behavior do not apply to me and my situation? Cuz I'm a stubborn old goat with a tender heart for my beloved, though mouthy, offspring. Sigh.

Well, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel or put my own twist on another's ideas, I've decided to just do what the experts say and do it consistently. After telling my seven year old what is unacceptable behavior (eye rolling, crossed arms, huffing, stomping, slamming doors, a sassy tone, or any other disrespectful gesture), the first offense is not another warning, but one swift swat on the butt. I've told her that I won't be angry when I do it (and I haven't been), but that the kind of behavior that has been shown previously has been unacceptable and will not be tolerated from here on out. How has it worked?

Well, Sunday she got two spanks before we ever even got to church. But the rest of the day she was great. To be honest, she was even more helpful and considerate afterwards than she's been in a long time. Yay! Of course, because it's still a new concept, she gets taken off guard when I pop her rear after she's sassed me... but she's catching on and it's getting better. And that's all I could hope for.

I walked in on her yesterday watching an episode of "Super Nanny" where Jo (the nanny) was explaining to the mother on the show that making your children mind makes you a good mother. Jamie asked me how I learned to be a mother. I told her that it was something that you learned as you go, but I was always trying to do better. She asked me if it was hard and I said that it was, but that it was something I enjoyed. I didn't know what to say, really, because she took me by surprise. But maybe one day, when she has kids of her own and she's dealing out her own "swats," she'll remember our talk and maybe, just maybe, she'll appreciate the discipline she received as a child. I hope so. Until then, I'm going to try to stay consistent and swat when necessary. Oh yeah, and maybe call my mom to apologize for the sassy lass I used to be. ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music Therapy Thursday... Sweet Home Alabama

This week, the Alabama Crimson Tide brought the National Football Championship title back to the great state of Alabama. Although I live in a house that roots for their state rival (Chuck went to Auburn University), we were all glad to see the Tide bring that crystal trophy back "home" (Auburn was the BCS champion last year). Alabama sure does love it's football. ;) But what I love about Alabama has more to do with the people and the way of life we have here in the "heart of Dixie," and not so much about championship titles and football games. I realize this puts me in the minority against some of my die-hard, football-enthused friends and relatives. Truth be told, I wouldn't even consider myself a "fan" (because I'm not the least bit fan-atical) and that alone makes me un-Alabamian if nothing else does! LOL!

Am I proud that Alabama has positive recognition for stellar sports programs at the collegiate level? You betcha! Am I proud to be associated with a state that prides itself not just on "tradition," but a winning one, to boot? Heck yeah! It gives me hope that people can somehow forget the fact that our state was once better known for setting fires to churches, rioting over bus seats, and the insensitivity, intolerance and the ignorance that was shown by Alabamians to fellow, darker skinned Alabamians. We've come a long way, baby.

Today I hope people see the Auburn students and faculty reaching out and helping the people of Tuscaloosa after last year's devastating tornado in April. I hope people see the faculty and students of Alabama banding together for their "Tide for Toomer's" campaign, showing their support for Auburn and their disdain for the poisoning of the beautiful live oaks by a radical Alabama fan. I guess "haters gonna hate," as the saying goes. But I believe that the majority of us are good people, with kind and caring hearts, no matter what side of the football field we're sitting on.

I love the fact that people drive down the roadways and throw their hands up in the air to wave to complete and total strangers. I love it that the bag-boy at the grocery store calls me "ma'am." I love it that you can find a church or place of worship on almost every street corner because we Alabamians are a God-fearing ("fear," here, means "respecting") bunch of folks. I love the fact that all celebrations and catastrophies of life require a covered dish of something delicious delivered to your home by friends and neighbors. I love the fact that people will pull over on the side of the road, at anytime of the day, and wait for a funeral procession to pass.

I'm proud that Alabama is home to a fantastic space and rocket program just minutes from me in Huntsville. I'm thankful for an exceptional children's hospital that has been indispensable for our family, located in Birmingham. And though the sugar-like sand at the gulf is (to me, anyway) the most beautiful beach you'll ever see, you can't beat the scenic view atop Cheaha Mountain or the rolling hills found all over the state. Trees are so green here and the air is, dare I say it... sweet. :) Perhaps that's how the lyrics of Lynard Skynard's rocking anthem for our state came to be.

Yep, I'm proud to be a southern gal hailing from the great state of Alabama. There were a few years where I tried to shake my hillbilly roots, but you know what they say: You can take the girl outta the country, but you can't take the country outta the girl! This version of "Sweet Home Alabama" is fantastic because it's a great live performance and I just dig those clothes circa 1975. The guitar solo at 4:42 ain't to shabby either. Enjoy today's music therapy. And y'all come back, now, ya' hear?? ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My New Breakfast Fave

Ever get into a rut with what you are eating on a day-to-day basis? I know I do. And trying to adhere to a healthier meal plan can just throw another cog into that wheel. But yesterday, the skies parted and I've been introduced to something that is super yummy so I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

I subscribe to Peak313 Fitness on Facebook and she was asking everyone yesterday what we were all eating for breakfast and then shared what she was having. I tried her suggestion and I'm hooked! It's super simple and super yummy too: a toasted whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, banana slices and just a drizzle of honey (I'm loving me some honey these days, BTW)! AND the whole breakfast is only 5 Weight Watchers points and it's really filling.

So stop whatever it is that you're doing and go and make yourself a little piece of heaven on a plate. "You're welcome" in advance. LOL! Thanks, Clare at Peak313 Fitness , for great inspiration as always. If you are looking for some health and fitness motivation with a Christian influence, check her out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weighing In On My Resolutions...Pun Intented

Happy January 10th, folks! We've all had just over a week to get ourselves adjusted to any New Year's resolutions we might have made... so how's it going? I'm delighted to report that from my side of the blogosphere, things are going well!

My main New Year's goal (as 40 creeps closer and closer) is to get healthy and active. I was tired of being tired. ;) Been there? Yeah, me too. And for too long. Getting a little more specific, I have set my mind to weigh what I did when I got married. Granted that was 12 years and two kids ago, but it was also a time where I was taking pretty good care of myself. Still, that requires a weight loss of 35 pounds. Yep. Christmas (and Thanksgiving) was a two-month celebration for my taste buds. And my waist-line is the proof. :/

Unlike Januaries past, this year I've committed to doing Weight Watchers instead of my "go-to" South Beach diet. I'm trying to eat moderately and really make lifestyle changes and not get caught up in a "diet," so to speak. I'm also learning that I'm going to eat a cupcake now and then, and darn it, I am NOT going to grieve myself silly over it. I'm just going to eat healthy the majority of the time. It's about balance, you know?

And as for the active part, I'm trying to walk at least a 20 minute mile most days. Did you see what I did there? Most days. No real set schedule, just trying to do it every day that I can. I still have dreams of running a 5K this year, but I'm taking things moderately, something I've never tried before. And days like this Thursday when I'm going to be in Birmingham all day with doctors' appointments, I'm not going to fret over missing a day or trying to work harder or longer the next day to try and make up for it. All this might sound like a "no-brainer" for a lot of you, but this is brand new territory for me. My "all or nothing" mentality hasn't gotten me anywhere but stressed and NOT where I want to be physically, mentally, or emotionally. So 2012 is going to run differently. So let's see how it all shook down, shall we?

Starting weight (Jan 2): 172 lbs. Gulp.
Monday (Jan 9): 167lbs. That's 5 pounds, baby! Woot!

And the best part is? I had a burger and fries for lunch one day and peach cobbler on another day. I just reigned the eating in around my "splurges," and walked as many days as I could (which I think was 3, but I'd have to check to make sure). How awesome! Now, it was a little bit of a challenge to take the time to write down EVERYTHING that I ate all day, but it really does give you a wake-up call to what you are putting in your mouth and how often. For me, I'm allotted 26 points a day and 39 "overage" points a week for days I might go over or for special treats. I'm doing WW online, so I don't have to go to any meetings or anything. But the online tools have been fantastic to track how much water I'm drinking (which wasn't enough previously) to reminding me to take my vitamins (and, ahem, other medication that keeps momma outta the crazy house, if ya know what I mean ;)!! ). All in all, I'm pretty pleased and ready to celebrate my 5 lb loss.

Which leads me to this: I've been trying to come up with non-food related rewards for every five pounds of weight loss. My first reward is a pedicure, but I'm having trouble coming up with the other 6. These are things that I'd like to do that I normally wouldn't do for myself so that it will be extra special and exciting to reach each goal. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave me a comment. I'll post my reward schedule when I'm done with it. I hope today finds all of you on your way to meeting your own goals!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Back Says, "Thank You!"

This is a picture of the door that leads into our house from the garage. Do NOT judge me for all the junk on the shelf. Save that until you've seen the other side of the garage that could technically qualify us for an episode of hoarders. ;) Just keepin' it real, folks. Anyways... this is not a post about organization (gasp! Although de-junkifying the garage DID make the list for the near future! LOL!), it's actually about how awesome my brother and my Pops are for building a wheelchair ramp for us in like three.whole.hours. I know. They are supah-stars!!!

Here they are in the demolition stage. They look handy enough, right? You have no idea. I stayed out there with them the whole time because I was just amazed at how they decided what to do and then executed the plan effortlessly, working together like a well oiled machine. I asked my brother how he knew what to do without a drawing or anything, and he just pointed to his temple and said, "I've got it all right here." Gotta love that.

Here they are a little further along in the process. I'm glad they weren't opposed to me taking pictures like a maniac. :D They were so in the "zone" with their building that they hardly noticed me at all.

And here she is all finished! They added a runner to the ramp for a little extra traction and to help keep from tracking dirt in the house. How thoughtful!

You can see that the rug is doing a bang-up job catching the sawdust after we tested the ramp out to make sure it would hold us all! Poppy even mounted my broom rack to the front of it to keep my cleaning stuff handy but out of the way of wheelchair traffic. He's good like that!

My favorite part is the personal "stamp" my brother put on it after they were done. Since Chuck is an Auburn grad who married into a family of die-hard Alabama fans, Bill couldn't resist throwing a little jab his way.

Bill also said that if he comes back and it's painted orange and blue, he's tearing it down. LOL! Chuck and I are so thrilled with it, we wouldn't care if it was all decked out in houndstooth with crimson pom-poms. But don't give my brother any ideas, okay?!?! Thanks so much, Bill and Poppy for all your hard work! We love it AND you!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Anyone Else Getting Organized?

This is the side of our pantry when you walk through our kitchen door. Below are our recycling bins that barely made it into the picture. :) This little wall is like the "command center" of our house where the big calendar usually stays (notice the 3M hook in the middle. I had already started to take stuff down when I thought about blogging about this organization project! LOL!). The lunch menu from school also hangs out here along with random reminders and miscellaneous artwork that all get hung up with blue painters tape to keep from marring my solid wood cabinets and the drywall. But it's a mess, no? Definitely not the prettiest thing in the world, so I headed to Staples to pick up a few things to make this area really work for our family...

Ta-dah!!! I purchased these three boards for about $20 dollars each and I think they do the trick, don't you? The top one is a cork board, the middle one is a dry-erase/ magnetic calendar and the bottom one is just a blank dry-erase/ magnetic board. I picked up a magnetic cup holder at Wal-Mart in the school supplies section to hold all the markers and it's found a home in the top right hand corner of the bottom board.

Here's a closer look at these beauties. I spent a little more on these that had the black wooden frame around them because I thought they coordinated well with the other black accessories in my kitchen. Did you notice the calendar, though? I actually started my New Year's organizing back in December! Trust me, there's LOTS of organizing left to do around here! Do any of you have a "command center" from which your family operates? Is it working for you? Perhaps you could implement something like this in your kitchen or office and organize all that paper clutter. Another solution would be to paint the side of a cabinet or wall with magnetic paint and/or chalkboard paint (which I almost did here). How about putting a large sheet of flashing from Lowe's on the wall to hang your calendar or notes from? The ideas are endless, really. I hope this has given you a few ideas to get you started. Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Music Therapy Thursday... Strong Enough

Today's choice for a little music therapy was a no-brainer after my last post on New Year's resolutions. It was solidified when I learned that my good friend Mary Snyder will be having surgery on Monday to remove her bladder. She has bladder cancer.

I talked with her yesterday and, of course, she's frightened about what lies ahead. It breaks my heart because I know few people as wonderful as Mary and cannot think of anyone who deserves this less than she does. However, trouble comes to all of us in this life. Lance Armstrong put it best, though, when he said "In life and in medicine we have two choices: give up or fight like hell." Mary is a fighter and I know she isn't going to give up, but over the last year I have felt like Mary and probably many of you who are going through your own battles. I've wanted so many times to throw my hands up and say "I can't DO this anymore! I'm just not strong enough to take this!"

But here's the beauty and the dichotomy of it all: we don't have to be strong enough. As this songs states, it's in the times that we are flat on our face with no where else to go but up that we reach out and take the hand of the One that IS strong enough. Are you tired, struggling, suffocating, stagnating, and have done all you can do for yourself? There is freedom in letting go and letting the master and creator of the universe do what he does best: restore, redeem, and make new his creation. He's on our side. Better than that, he'll carry you to the finish line!

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." We all need this reminder from time to time and Matthew West does an excellent job with this song. Even if Contemporary Christian music isn't your "thing," I hope you give it a listen. Blessings to you this Thursday! Now rock on!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let's DO This Thing!!!

I love a fresh start. A clean slate. A new beginning. Nothing brings more hope than the idea of starting things off "brand new." That's what I love about a new year. 365 days to do more/better/differently than the 365 days previously. What can I say? I've always been an overachiever. ;)

I've heard many of you are not making resolutions for fear of not completing your goal. For some it's weight loss (me), for others it's debt management (umm... also me), and for others it's organization (yep. Ahem. ME!)that eludes us year after year no matter how sincere we are about our endeavors to change on January the 1st. Hey, I'm with you! If I had a nickel for every resolution I've kept over the years, I'd be writing this blog post from somewhere tropical, with a slushy drink in hand, topped with an umbrella. While getting a massage. Waiting on my next massage. ;) But trust me, this does not mean I'm not going to hike up my knickers (once again) and jump off into the deep end of the resolution swimming pool. I'm going for it. I'm ALL in!

Yes, I'm stealing the phrase coined by the Auburn tigers during their championship season in 2010. Sure it's corny, and I'm not even a "real" football fan according to the rest of my fellow Alabamians, but I think it sums up what I've made up my mind to do this year. For my health and fitness goals this year: I'm all in! For our family's financial future: I'm all in! For my house and tackling the clutter therein: I'm all in! For my family and our time together: I'm all in! For my relationship with God and my spiritual journey: I'm all in!

Why such a drastic stance? Because in looking back at these fundamental areas of my life, I can see where I've given things "the good 'ol college try" but have not given them my all. I'm not beating myself up too badly because over time there have been EXCELLENT excuses that have kept me from doing so. Valid excuses, but excuses all the same. And because I have realized I cannot do everything or be everything for everybody, I'm letting a lot of things go so I can concentrate on these five main areas. Yes, I've made some specific goals and specific lists that I'll share later, but for now I'm just thrilled to be starting fresh. I feel like I've hypothetically swept my arm across my desk, clearing off all the junk, and am slowly putting only the things that belong back on there. How's that for a visual? LOL! I'm such a weirdo... No amount of resolve is going to change that, I'm afraid!

How about the rest of you? Any goals or resolutions to speak of so far this year? I promise to encourage you, if you promise to encourage me, mmmkay? C'mon! Let's DO this thing! My step-dad always said, "Can't never could and won't never will!" So here's to a Happy New Year and to new beginnings!