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!