Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"So, are you still doing that exercise thing?"

I was asked this at a recent Christmas someone who has known me for 5 years!

Yes, yes.  I'm still doing that exercise thing.

But are you?

I've had several people tell me this week that they just haven't had the time to get in their exercise.  There's baking and parties and shopping and wrapping and pageants and no time.

I totally get it, but I think seasons like this will be more enjoyable if we carve out just 10 minutes for ourselves.  I haven't talked to a person yet who has said, "I'm eating cookies galore and I feel fabulous!"  Nope.  Everyone is saying "I'm eating cookies galore and I feel fat!".

Here's my 2 cents.  Eat cookies, but not galore.  Enjoy the yummy food, just not all the yummy food.
AND, go for a run.  A short run.  Around the block while Hubs wraps a few presents.  Jump on the treadmill for a mile jog while you watch a clip of your favorite Christmas movie.

Trust me, just a few minutes a day will make you feel better and you'll relax and who knows, maybe even enjoy the holiday that you've been busting your butt for.

Not a jogger?  Walking also works.  OR do this 3 times a day:

10 squats
10 push ups
10 sit ups

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas photos

Having a hard time capturing the magic of Christmas?

This should make you feel better about the pictures you're getting...

Considering submitting this to "Awkward Family Photos"...

Merry Christmas, from the angry 3 year old.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year

The Nativity is up and we've begun our family Advent readings.  My bible lays open to Luke chapter 1 in the center of our kitchen, as I pray our focus this Season is on Jesus. 

We don't do Santa or Elf on the shelf with our kids, but teach them that we celebrate Jesus' birth by giving gifts, just like the wise men brought Jesus gift and like God gave us the gift of his only son.

But I have a confession.  I love Christmas movies.  Not the good ole classics, no, the cheesy, romantic comedies that are made for TV and have nothing to do with Jesus.  They might just be my love language.  Pair that with a Christmas puzzle, a hot drink, a lit fireplace and some peppernuts and I am one happy girl.

Every year, for the month of December, I go into this wonderful place.  A place where I make time for things I really love.  I bake cookies and make gifts with the kids, and when they're asleep, I put on a movie and work on my puzzle.  I'm happy and I think in turn, the house is happier. 

Tonight as I was finishing up chores and putting the kids to bed and anticipating my upcoming "me time", I realized that I need to find something that gives me this wonderful time, year round.  I would normally say running would be this, but I love that Hubs and I exercise together. 

Perhaps 2014 will be the year of finding my hobby, aka year round wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


 We had an amazing Thanksgiving...hope you did too!
I love the Christmas season, but I'm kinda sad to take down my fall decorations.

2 things forever changed our house this year:

spatchcocked turkey


Never going back.
It's nice to upgrade a classic.

After our fabulous feast, we set up our Christmas tree...made me think of this clip.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A good laugh

You all are probably starting to gather with family and beginning the cooking process today.  If, however, things start to get a little tense, just take a break and watch this video.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Today's Thankfulness

The morning after my last post, I wrote this:

After last night's post, I went bed...only it was a rough night.  Up 3 times with 3 different kids and not feeling so great myself.  In the midst of wiping snotty noses and getting drinks, I found myself feeling thankful.  Today, I'm praising the Lord for a new morning and asking Him to help me let go of perfection and find my value only in Him-not in how clean my house is, how well behaved the kids are or how much I think my hubby loves me.  I'm resting on the truth that I am never alone and that Christ loves me no matter what...he loves me when there's pasta thrown all over the floor, he loves me when my kids are screaming and climbing on furniture and he loves me even when I don't show others love.
Today I will fill my moments with thankfulness.

I'm thankful for...
an immune system to fight bugs
for coffee!
hubby's job and the ability to stay home
kleenex and hot showers
playdough and Bubby's ability to think outside of the playdough box
*correction: home made playdough that is safe when eaten :)
my kids love for learning

I planned on leaving my computer out for the day and writing down everything I was thankful for.  In every situation, I would turn it to thankfulness.
I left to teach my body design class and came home to the unexpected...strep.  It hit hard and furious and the next couple days were a blur.  Hubby ended up getting it too, but caught it so quickly that he said he never felt that bad.  I confess that I was angry for a few minutes.  He was fine, but I couldn't swallow or sleep or talk.  I had a fever and every inch of my body hurt.  And the kids thought it was great time to hit a growth spurt all at the same time and all they wanted to do was eat...or maybe that was because I let them eat an entire bag of marshmallows.

But you know what the great thing about strep is?  You can't fight with your spouse or yell at your kids.  You can't clean the house or do laundry.  Nope, instead you have to lay on the couch and watch your kids play and savor their childhood.  You have to feel the love your hubby as he brings you tea,  and you have to realize that life still goes on with a messy house.  Having strep this week, made that 'not very good day' post look great.  I soon found myself thankful for simply the ability to eat lunch or sing to my baby or read the kids books.  There's so much that I take for, a voice, good food. 

One night, I found myself praying, "Lord, I need a miracle."
No sooner had I prayed that than a friend from church came to mind.  She's battling cancer for the third time...what must her prayers be?  I have strep that will be gone in a few days with antibiotics.  I shouldn't be praying for a miracle for me, I should be praying for a miracle for her. 

My brain is still a little foggy from the medicine, so I apologize if this post doesn't make sense.  Tomorrow begins Thanksgiving week and I'm looking forward to great fellowship and lots of yummy food.  Hubs and I just made the grocery know it's going to be a good week when '7 boxes of cream cheese' is on your list :) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One of those days

Having one of those days...a day that may just push me over the edge.

~I burned the "warmed rice in sock" pinterest idea to clear Princess P's congestions...nothing like a house full of stink to clear some snot.

~Speaking of snot, Princess P woke up with her entire face covered in dried snot.  I can handle puke and poop, but snot is my worst enemy.

~Besides all my efforts of extra vitamins and probiotics, we are all fighting the snot bug.

~Both boys refused to put on shoes this morning so I shoved them into the stroller, screaming, and ran Princess P to the bus stop.  One mom asked "is it one of those mornings?"...asking that is kinda like asking if you're grumpy.

~The homemade finger paint turned out clumpy and Bubby's school "leaf" project looked like he just sneezed on some construction paper.

~I mopped the floor twice, only to leave it slippery and the kids were falling left and right.

~Charlie threw 3 bowls of pasta, 1 bowl of applesauce and a cup of milk on said mopped floor...yet it was still slippery.

~Charlie refuses to say anything but "dadda" which irritates me to no end because all I hear is "MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!" from the other two.

~The rice crispy treats were too gooey and the healthy cereal I used was not crunchy.

~I almost missed getting Princess P off the bus because I was getting the boys their maditory millionth snack for the day.

~"Mommy!  Charlie's standing on the table!"...need I say more?

Wish I had a big long page of encouragement for the mom reading this who had a similar day...I don't.  I'm going to bed and praying that Princess P wakes up with zero snot on her face and asking for strength to get through tomorrow.  I know there will be a I will miss all of this craziness...Charlie won't always be a wave of danger and destruction, they won't always need something of every second of every day, they won't always be small enough to carry to bed.  Each day is precious...but today I'm feeling like it's a miracle I survived.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ab challenge, Day 3

Whew!  My abs are sore!
Hope yours are too :)

25 weighted sit ups
35 incline sit ups
30 leg lifts
25 V-ups
20 in-outs
50 crunches with legs in diamond shape...knees out, touches the floor, toes together
20 second plank
20 second plank with hip dips
20 second side plank
20 second side plank with hip dips

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ab Challenge, Day 2

30 weighted sit ups
30 incline sit ups
45 crunches
25 leg lifts
10 flutter kicks
20 v-ups
45 second plank
45 second side plank

Don't forget to drink LOTS of water!

S'More cobbler

We host our church's small group twice a month and I always serve a dessert and decaf coffee.  This week, as I planned the dessert, I went to a friends Pinterest page and searched her "desserts to try" board.  I thought it would be sweet to make a desired dessert for her.  The recipe was for S'more Cookie Bars...
S'mores Cookie Bars
I even thought I would be extra cool and make my own graham crackers.

I tried a new graham cracker recipe and they were not my favorite...should have been my first sign to give up on this fabulous dessert.  But I persevered on, mixed up the easy dessert and this is what came out of my oven:

When I pulled it out, the marshmallows were puffed up and had eaten the topping.  I set it on the counter and just started laughing.
Biggest Pinterest fail to date.
I left it out with a picture of what it was supposed to look like next to it.  I figured we could all have a good laugh about it and eat some fruit instead.  My guests asked if they could still eat it and said it tasted friend said we should just rename it to S'more cobbler.  You really can't go wrong with chocolate and marshmallow, if you don't mind eating it with a fork.  But don't be deceived, I would still say it's a fail.  By the time guests left, what remained in the pan was rock hard.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ab Challenge- Day 1

I pinned an Ab Challenge on Pinterest.  I would share it with you, but I've changed it so much I thought I should just post my own.  I'm continuing the challenge through Thanksgiving...hopefully my tummy will be nice and tight and won't budge with all the yummy food consumption.

25 weighted sit-ups
25 incline sit ups
20 leg lifts
10 V-ups
10 in-outs
40 crunches
30 second plank
15 sec side plank
15 sec side plank

Each day will get a little bit harder.  Stick with me...your pants won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spin Workout #1

Well, you all owe me 10 bucks...7 people actually showed up for class today (the room only holds 10)!  I thought I better share this workout so I don't think about it anymore and scare even more people.  If you look around the web at spin workouts, they are BORING.  Here's my non-boring, slightly ADD, will make you pour buckets of sweat workout.

So jump on your bike that goes nowhere and pump some music.

All I want to do, Sugarland: warm up
     flat road.  slow pace.  make sure your shoulders are back, down and relaxed.  hands should be light on the handle bars.
Every good thing, The Afters: alternate sitting and jogging every 15 seconds.  Gear: 8
Gold, Britt Nicole: alternate between a medium and high gear every 15 seconds, stay sitting
       I alternate between gear 10 and 13.  Keep RPM's in 80's, even in high gear.
Get back up, tobyMac: alternate standing and hovering over seat every 30 seconds.  Gear: 10
Tornado, Little Big Town: sit whole song at a medium/high gear.  I do should be uncomfortable, but not "you think the instructor hates you" hard.
Rollin in the deep, Adele: climb big hill.  Start at 10, move up a gear every 15 seconds...I max it out at 20
Footloose, Glee cast: RPM: 100-110.  Jog on chorus, keeping that 100 RPM
I want crazy, Hunter Hayes: Standing rolling hills.  switch gears every 15 seconds, from 10-15.
Everybody Dance Now, workout music mix: 8 count jumps
Rise, Shawn McDonald: peddle backwards, stay sitting.  Gear: 12, RPM: 70's
Little white church, Little Big Town: stand up, lean forward, hover seat, sit down...move positions every 15 seconds
Take it all, Hillsong live: sprint every 15 seconds
What makes you beautiful, One Direction: slow jogs on chorus...focus on only your legs moving
NY2LA, Press Play: climb hill, alternate standing  (i.e. start at gear 10, sit for 15 seconds, stand for 15 seconds.  press it up to 11, sit for 15 seconds, stand for 15 seconds).  End song at top of hill...
Me without you, TobyMac: stand at the top of that hill and alternate gears between 18, 20, 18, 13
Stuck like glue, Sugarland: stretch

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thinking Face

I taught my normal spin class this morning.  I have several plans I cycle through and went on autopilot as I started my "spin 2" routine.  I started thinking about possibly posting a spin workout on the blog and how I would outline it and if anyone would even be interested in a post like that.  Class seemed normal...same people, same workout, same sweaty mess afterwards...good times.  Afterwards, one of the "regulars" came up to me.  He usually says "good class young lady", but today he said, "Good class.  But you seemed deep in thought the first part of class, like something is really bothering everything okay?"  I was surprised at his concerned and assured him everything was fine and apologized for seeming to be distracted. 

When I told Hubs what happened, he said, "Yeah, you do have a concerned look when you're thinking".  Oh no.  This happens to me all the time!  I very frequently will let my thoughts wonder while exercising and "go somewhere else".  I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself spacing out in RIPPED and don't realize I'm thinking about cooking dinner until I'm still doing jumping jacks and everyone else has moved on to push ups.  I'm sure my fellow instructors don't appreciate it...or maybe they think I'm just super slow and uncoordinated. 

Anyway, apparently my zoning out is scaring participants and I don't know how to solve my concerned look when I think.  It's spin for goodness sakes!  We're sitting on a bike that goes nowhere for an hour and thinking about something other than the dark wall in front of me helps the time pass. 
Maybe I'm too comfortable with my workouts.  Maybe I should chew gum the whole time so I can't scowl.   Maybe I should just let them all think I'm mean. 

Well, I already made the mistake of telling my spin class I'm subbing tomorrow too...10 bucks says no one shows up.

Any thoughts how I can solve my problem?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Letter K

K with Keys (cut out letter and glued keys on it)

Kit Kats

Kidney Bean relay
Jump like a Kangaroo

Kissing the Kind King eating Kiwi in the Kitchen

Made cookies to take to the Kids at the bus stop.

lined up the cookies and pretended they were a train's load...boys.

Nutella cookies 

super easy and kid-chef friendly

1 cup Nutella
1 cup flour
1 egg
(I add a little canola oil)

350 for 8 minutes.

We took the cookies to all the kids at Princess P's bus stop.  This gave us a great opportunity to talk about being kind to others and to talk to others, period...a skill Bubby needs work on in general.  We worked on using kind words and saying "would you like a cookie?" and looking our friends in the eye.  Little things are big steps for preschoolers.

On the Kind note, we started this chart for the week:

At co-op we told the kids that if they earned all the stickers, then we would have a special treat next week at school.  Well, yesterday I found that Bubby had snuck his paper down and covered it with stickers (we're only on the 3rd day).  He said, "Mommy, I have all my stickers!  Can I get the big treat now?!"  Oh to be 3.  I'm making him earn all the stickers he put on the chart and haven't decided about school next week...

We listened a lot to Sovereign Grace's To Be Like Jesus music this week, especially the You Show Me Kindness song.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Letter J

Painted a paper plate with orange puffy paint (shaving cream + food dye) and glued cut out face pieces on.

Jello 'J'
Jack-O-Lantern muffins:
Toddler muffins with orange cream cheese frosting.  Kids decorated face with pumpkin seeds and raisins. 

Jump rope
Jumped like Joey kangaroos across pillow path
Jump on letters, inspired by this blog

Nursery Rhyme:
Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack jumped over the candle stick
*jumped over a flameless candle while saying the ryhme.
*snack: banana slice with pretzel stick in the middle=candlestick

Bible Story:
Luke 1: Jesus birth

Bible Verse:
Psalm 98:4
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!


The past 2 years, we've had a thankful tree inspired from this Pin:

The Thankful Tree

Every evening, we would write something we were thankful for on a leaf and hang it on the tree.  Thanksgiving day, we would take all the leaves off and read everything we had been thankful for that month.
However, Hubs was not thrilled with having a tree in our house.  I had it in our dining room and branches would often get knocked as we walked by.  I'll never forget one day when we had a repair man in the house...he ran right into the tree and got tangled in the branches.  Hubs said to him, "Yea, I'm not sure why we have a tree in the house".  It still makes me chuckle when I think about it.  So, I kept all the leaves, but the tree went back outside.

This year, we're trying something new.  Bubby is having a hard time grasping the time frame of holidays (i.e. he asks 10 million times a day if Christmas is coming).  I saw an idea for school, using Hersey Kisses to count down to Thanksgiving.  But when we came home from trick-or-treating with this:

I refused to buy more candy.
I tweaked the project and hot glued a piece of their favorite candy from our stash on ribbon for each day of the month.  Now, every evening, we write down what we're thankful for and then they can eat their one piece of candy.  It gives Bubby a visual for how many days are left until Thanksgiving and diffuses the constant questions about eating Halloween candy.  Win. Win.

P.S. I wrote their names on the top of the ribbon so there was no confusion about who's candy was who's.
P.P.S.  If you have a toddler in the house, raise the ribbons!  It took all of 2 minutes before Charlie snatched a sucker off the ribbon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My freezer

The end of my pregnancy with Charlie was anything but "usual".  Hubs left for Navy training when I was 35 weeks pregnant and returned a few days after Charlie was born.  We anticipated his absence for the end and did everything we could to prepare.

In my nesting craze, I was convinced that I was going to stock our freezer full of meals so I wouldn't have to worry about food during this time.  While on a walk with a friend, we noticed her neighbor had a freezer sitting in the lawn with a "free" sign on it (See? God provides and it worked perfectly!).  She convinced me that it was too good to pass up and our husbands loaded up the beast.

That freezer sat empty for over a year.

When my friend came to visit for the half marathon a few months ago, she opened our freezer and said, "Whoa! That is the emptiest freezer I've ever seen!". 
She was right.  It did look pretty pitiful.
I asked her what a normal freezer looked like...
"Fuller" she replied.

Hubs and I aren't really freezer food fans, but her innocent comment got my wheels turning.  
Freezer food...I love the idea of having something ready to eat to pull out on those evenings that I just don't feel like cooking.  But in my snotty opinion, I think frozen casseroles are gross. 
Her comment inspired me to figure out how to make freezer meals, Jen style.

I began my quest by making a big pot of our favorite soup and froze the second half of the pot that we didn't eat.  I slowly started doing this with foods that we eat on a regular basis.  Then, when I was grocery shopping, I would buy just a little bit more meat than we needed and froze the extras.  Any fruit that was past it's "raw" prime, I froze for smoothies or muffins.

I found that by being a little more intentional about freezing food, we've saved/reused more food than before, meal planning is easier and it's even eased some of the stress of hospitality.
For instance, I made a full batch of cookie dough, rolled it into balls and threw them in the freezer.  I baked a few for our dessert, but I had a giant bag ready for surprise guests.  They definitely came in handy a few times.

Here's a Pinterest fail, mixed with a win.  I bought fun contact paper for my "line your refrigerator with contact paper and it will be pretty and clean forever" pin.  
BIG FAT FAIL!  Yes, it was pretty, but the stuff wouldn't stick to the shelves and every time I moved a food item in the refrigerator the whole sheet would come off.  I was so frustrated!  
I still have the loads of contact paper if anyone wants them...

But I took one of those pretty scrapes of contact paper, framed it and mounted it on my freezer.  I use it to keep a running list of what I have on what shelf.

So from empty to full, here's my freezer list.  Guess I should also note that everything is made from scratch, except for the meat :) There's no boxes or processed foods.  Just healthy, ready to go food.

Vodka cream sauce
Indian Lentils
BBQ Pork
Pork chops
Pie crust
Apple crisp
White chicken chili
French Onion soup
Tortilla soup
Sourdough boules
Whole wheat bread
Hamburger buns
French loaf
Pizza dough
Bread crumbs
Apple cider muffins
Black beans
White beans
Brown rice
Squash puree
Carrot puree
Chicken broth
Fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches)
Lime juice
Yeast, nuts, ginger
BBQ pizza (half cooked)

What's in your freezer?  Anything I should add to my staple list?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

God provides

When I was pregnant with Princess P, Hubs and I were both working full time jobs.  We spent those 9 months trying to figure out how we would live off of just one of our incomes.  It was a sacrifice for me to quit and stay home with our baby, but a sacrifice that is well worth it...for us.  First, I have to say that my Hubs works hard.  At the time, he was a youth pastor and would build websites on the side and we always had what we needed.  And although I am a purger and not a shopper, there were times that I would start to worry about being able to give our babe what she needed.

It didn't take long for me to see how great God provides for his children.  What a beautiful thing it is to see!  Every time we had a need, someone would be looking to get rid of something.  I LOVE hand-me-downs.  I want my kids to be kids and not be worrying about getting brand new clothes dirty.  Lots of baby gear is only used a few months and can easily make it through several paces.  Perhaps my favorite hand-me-down is a highchair.  Our kids were messy eaters and it was great to not have dollar signs starring at me every time baby food was splashed all over it.

Over the years, I've had new moms express the same concern to me and I love that I can share with them the stories of God providing for my kids.

At the beginning of this month the weather started to get chilly.  I decided it was time to break out the fall clothes and started to dig through the back of closets.  Having just moved this summer I knew it wouldn't be an easy task.  After some time of organizing, I realized that Bubby had zero fall clothes.  One pair of pants and that was it!  No jacket, no long sleeved shirts, no tennis shoes.  We headed to TJ Max and I scored a $10 jacket that I hoped would tide us over until I figured something out.
A few days later, I was searching for a specific toy for school and opened the last box in the house labeled 'Toys'...only to find it wasn't toys, it was all of Bubby's fall clothes from last year!  Sure, some were now too small, but there were a few that he could still wear.  I was so thankful!


 But then...
a few days later a friend sent me a text that she left something on my porch.
I opened the door to find 4 giant bags full of clothes.
Like so giant that I could barely drag them inside.

My dinning room exploded into piles of clothes and it took me a week to sort through everything!
There were oodles clothes for all of my kids!

But it still gets better.
There was a good chunk of clothes that were too small for Princess P or that she simply didn't care for (she's very picky about clothes).  There was also a good chunk of these clothes that still had the price tag on!  My preschool co-op friend came over for school and I asked if by chance her girls needed any clothes.  I could see the emotion in her eyes and she said, "Actually, YES!  What an answer to prayer!"  I filled 2 bags of clothes for her and she said it was exactly what she needed for her girls.

God provides for all our needs, perhaps in ways we don't expect it.
For the new momma, you may not have designer clothes, but you will have all that you need.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Letter I

*Watched a video about insects and caught a spider in a jar.
*Watched 'Ice Age' and age ice cream
*Read 'God gave me eyes' and played 'I spy insects'
*Chisled ice cream cone out of ice block

*Caterpillar...with pom poms and googly eyes

*Painted ice cream cone with puffy paint...saving cream, glue, food coloring

Caterpillar blueberry muffins with pretzel antennas and raisin eyes

Mother may I
Don't break the ice

Itsy bitsy spider

Bible Stories:
Genesis 18-Isaac
Exodus 1-Isrealites

*Indoor ice skating!

Body toning weight workout

Need one set of light/medium weights.

Each set= 30 reps

Bicep curls
Tricep kickbacks
Bent over wide rows

Alternating lunges
Plie squats

*Plank-30 seconds

Hammer curls
Shoulder press
Tricep pushbacks

Ski squat
Static lunge

*Plank with hip dips-30 seconds

Push ups
Leg lifts
(on all 4's, weight held behind knee) Weighted sit-ups

Tricep push ups
Hip press

*Side plank-30 seconds each side

Overhead press
Lateral raise
Bent over pulls 

Calf raises
Dead lift
Side lunge

Repeat all the way through, without planks, 16 reps each.

~Is the larger font better?  I can't decide...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perfect Pairing

I found this wine recently and I think it might be the perfect wine for me.
Love the name, the price and the taste.

I used it in our french onion soup this week.  We made our first sourdough boules and the soup was awesome in them.  I love recipes that call for a little bit of wine and then you get to drink it with dinner too.

Protein Bars

2 Cups Peanut Butter
1 3/4 Cups honey
2 1/4 Cups Protein Powder
3 Cups dried oatmeal or granola

In a microwave safe bowl combine peanut butter and honey for 70 -90 seconds. Add protein powder and oatmeal (I blend the oats first).  Mix all of this (it will be thick). Press it into 9X13 inch pan. Put it in the refrigerator to cool.  Once cooled, cut it into bars and put into snack size baggies.

Warning: these are not granola bars!  They are not to be simply snacks, but to be used as "fuel" for post lifting workouts.  Consume one within 30 minutes of your workout.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Throughout our 10 year marriage, Hubs and I have done lots of "hosting" people in our home.  Being in ministry and having all of our family live states away, it seems like there is a constant flow of people coming over.  We actually really enjoy having people in our home and there's a few things we've learned make a big difference.

*Clean the bathroom the guests will be using!  Make sure there is extra toilet paper handy and light a clean scent candle.  There's nothing that says "unwelcome" like walking into someones dirty bathroom.

*Plan a meal that can be prepped before guests arrive.  Having food ready, dishes cleaned up and the table set, tells guests that you were ready for them and enables you to really enjoy their company, instead of being stuck in the kitchen with your attention elsewhere.

*Have an easy appetizer out when guests arrive.  But please, please, please do not put out a veggie tray.  Try homemade hummus with some grilled pita bread or mutigrain tortilla chips with guacamole.

*Don't make excuses.  Be willing to have people over even if there's a mountain of laundry sitting on your bed and don't say, "Please excuse the mess" only brings attention to the mess and makes guests feel like they're intruding.  Just shut the door to that room or don't say anything at all. Remember, they have a pile of laundry sitting at their house too.

*If serving wine, have both red and white...and make sure the white is chilled.  Most people enjoy an occasional sip of wine, but will choose white if they're not regular wine drinkers.  If you yourself are not a wine drinker, a Chardonnay or Merlot would be a good option to have on hand.

*If guests are staying over night, place a basket of "might have forgotten" items in the bathroom.  Simple things like an extra tooth brush, mini lotion bottle and face wash, can help guests feel more at home.  If you are able, make a little basket of things they can take home in their room.  Trust me, they'll be talking about it for a long time.

*Have beds made (with extra bedding available) and meals planned for the duration of guests stay.  Let your guests know that you were looking forward to them coming and anticipated their arrival.

Those are my tips and I thought that would be the end of my post.  But God had bigger plans for my little post.  You see, I've been praying a lot about this idea of hospitality.  The past couple of times I've had people over, I've thought, "Man, I really nailed that!  The house was clean, the food was good and my kids were calm.  Check."  Then I had this little gnaw at my that really what it's all about?  Did they see Christ in my home tonight, just because it was clean?

In church on Sunday, we read 1 Peter 4:9.
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."  

It stirred me to continue learning about hospitality.
Romans 12:13
"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."
Hebrews 13:2
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Then this morning I read Genesis 18 to Bubby for school.  My intention was to read about Isaac, but I quickly saw how the story is a great example of biblical hospitality.  Abraham was sitting by his tent when he saw 3 men.  He hurried to them and asked them to stay for dinner.  Sarah cooked them a good dinner and the men shared with her God's promise to her...Isaac.  They were angels, sent by God.  Just let that simmer.  How easy would it have been for them to pass up this opportunity to serve.  I'm sure it was not easy cooking then and I can guarantee that it was a sacrifice of food and time for Sarah.  But she cooked for them right then and there.  She didn't ask them to come next week after she had planned an extravagant meal and deep cleaned her tent.

Yes, hospitality is more than simply inviting someone over for dinner.  It's more than having the right food, ready at the right time.  Perhaps it's more about being ready and willing to serve others when God nudges us to jump up. 

It's caused me to pray for open eyes and an open heart, to see who needs to come into my imperfect home for some fresh baked bread.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Letter H

I've hesitated on posting about school because I can't think of a "neat" way to share it.  So for now, it will basically be a list of what we did that week.  
Sorry.  I'll work on it, I promise.

We've started doing preschool one day a week with a friend.  It has immensely helped with motivation and social interaction for Bubby (he tends to be very quiet around other people).  It's so much more fun playing games and doing crafts with more than one kid.  Plus, my friend has a baby too, so we take turns teaching and watching the babies.

We jumped in with them at the letter H.
Here, they're learning about animal homes and habitats.  We talked about how God made the animals and gave them the instincts to know how to build their homes.
We also watched a short video about animal's homes.

We started a notebook full of letters to trace and color.

Then they look through magazines to find pictures of things that start with that letter and glue them in their folder.

build a horse
glued cheerios on a heart
traced hands
colored Cat and the Hat picture

hopped through hula hoops
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Build a house with block (match colored blocks)

heart apples and Ho Ho's (healthy/unhealthy food)
ham and cheese rolls (hot/cold food)

 Happy and you know it
Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Heaven is a wonderful place!
played the harmonica

Hop on Pop
Robert the Rose Horse
Cat and the Hat

Bible Stories: 
1 Samuel 16...David's good heart
1 Kings 1...Solomon's wise heart
Matthew 13...parable of seeds falling in good soil which is like God's love growing in our hearts
Revelation 1...heaven

Memory Verse:
Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and your mother

I tried to do a day around the Cat and the Hat.  My plan was to read the book, color a Cat and the Hat picture, count a pile of hats and stack them on our head to see how many we could balance and end with making our own hat.  However, Bubby seems to have a strange fear of hats recently and would not participate.  He's been grouchy lately...and he's 3.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Better with Age

Hubs and I ran in the annual local 5k last weekend.
It's fun to have traditions and to be able to look back at life.

Here's me running 4 years ago...I was 3 months pregnant with Bubby.

I have no idea why we decided to run that year.  I remember we signed up the morning of the race, pushed a large 2 year old Princess P in the stroller (which we later found out was "illegal") and had to stop several times along the course.  Then, shortly after the race, Princess P had her first accident since potty training and had to wear one of our race shirts the rest of the morning.

Good times.

2 years later, we ran again...this time I was unknowingly pregnant with Charlie.

We left the kids with some friends that year and ran much faster, placing 1st and 2nd place!
I remember wanting to quit the whole race because I was getting passed by little, tiny kids and old men.  Thankfully I didn't, or I wouldn't have gotten that really cool beer glass.

Hubs ran the following year with the Y's group and placed 2nd place again.
I was still in "just had a baby"stage of life and stayed home with the kids.
It was so hard to stay home...

This year we left the kids at the Y, ran with our church's group and were anxious to reclaim our titles.

We both ran personal best 5k's, but sadly there was some fast out of town competition and I only placed 3rd for my age group.  I'm still kinda mad Hubs didn't place...for crying out loud, he ran a 23 min 5k!

As I look back at our running journey, I'm simply proud of us.
Never would I have thought that we would get more in shape as we aged.
I thought we were in our "prime" in our 20's, but I was completely wrong.
"Prime" just keeps getting better and I can't wait to see where we are in 4 more years.

A Better Simmer

After my apple candle failure, I turned to an old friend for a fall scent to fill my house.
I found this idea last year on Pinterest.

I bought a small pot at the DAV to use just for simmers.
Throw an apple, cinnamon stick, a couple whole cloves and grate some fresh nutmeg in the pot with some water.
Turn the stove on low and enjoy the wonderful, fresh smell.

If I have an apple that is too bruised to eat, I'll throw it in there.
It also works with orange peels.

I'm loving the warmth of fall!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hubs' Fancy Schmancy Chili

Hubs makes the best chili.  It's way beyond a can of chili beans and's amazing!  We usually top it with Frito's and sour cream (healthy, I know) and the beer is optional :)
I tease Hubs that I have to document all of his cooking, so that if he dies first I can still eat all my favorite food.  I really do love him more than food, I promise.

1/2 a bag of black and pinto beans, soaked over night
1 can Rotelle-chili mix
4 roma tomatoes, diced
chicken broth
1/2 tsp. Ancho, chipotle and chili powder
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 lb hamburger
12 oz. Denver griller steak, seared 1 minute on each side.  let sit for 10 minutes before dicing
2 small onions, diced
2 mild peppers (ancho and pablo), diced
3 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cumin
3 cloves garlic
juice from 1/2 lime
1 cinnamon stick (remove before eating)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

We go through a lot of seasonings in this house and when I found this at Target this morning, I fell in love.  They're all so pretty and organized...made my heart go pitter-patter.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Did these as a warm up this morning...heard lots of groans, so they must have worked :)1001-t-pushup-483x300.jpg

Friday, October 11, 2013

If you have kids...

Hubs and I love Jim Gaffigan.  He's a great comedian and very clean.  If you have kids and need a smile, watch this...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Modified Drop Sets

Need 2 sets of weights...heavy and heavier!
Warm up: 30 seconds each, repeat 2x
jog in place
jumping jacks

Each set=
Heavier: 10 reps
Heavy: 20 reps

lateral raise

dead lifts
calf raises

hammer curls
wide rows

static lunges

bicep curls
tricep kickbacks

ski squat
plie squat

overhead press
forward lift

curtsy lunges
wall sit

In between each set=
30 second plank
10 push ups
10 weighted sit ups
10 boat rows

*mix up those planks!  Add hip dips, leg lifts and side planks.

Really Good

I was at the farm with a friend and our kids last week.  I asked her how she was doing and she said, "Actually, really good."  I felt the same...the past few weeks have been wonderful.  By the grace of God, I've felt on top of the laundry and cleaning and homeschooling and running and teaching and I've enjoyed it.

I find it odd that we often don't tell others when things are going really well?
We usually come up with something that is happening, maybe to relate to the other person or perhaps just in fear of making the other person feel bad?

After a blissful day, full of friends and laughter, my baby woke up with croup.  
I've never experience croup, but I immediately wanted to call all my momma friends who've gone through it to apologize for not being more sympathetic. 
 It stinks
And is flat out scary.
 I could hear him trying to breath from across the house.  He was working hard to get oxygen in and couldn't even babble or cry.  I tried all home remedies and made several phone calls to my nurse-sister.  I did everything I could to make it through the night, so I didn't have to wake up my other 2 sleeping kids.  But the second they woke up, we were in the car on the way to the hospital.
When we walked in I didn't have to say who we were there for or why...a nurse walking by stopped in her tracks, looked at Charlie and told us to follow her back.
She must be a mommy too.
In ER, waiting for meds to kick in
They gave him some oral steroids, a breathing treatment and took x-rays.  But as we waited for the meds to kick in, I realized that I had all my kids in the ER!  What was I thinking?!
Oh that's right, I didn't want to inconvenience anyone early in the morning.
 I wanted to have it all together and take care of everything by myself.

But I needed help.
I called the only contact in my phone who I knew could get on base and would have room in their car for my kids.  It was humbling making that phone call.
My friend was quick to come get my kids and took great care of them all day.

Finally resting after 12 hours of labored breathing

By the time we were all home, it was late afternoon.  Charlie needed fluids and we all needed dinner, so we headed to the grocery store.  I was feeling so guilty for what I had put the kids through that day, I let them buy whatever treat they wanted.

Clean eating out the door.

When I finally curled into bed that night there was nothing 'really good' about life.
There was vomit in my shower.  Did I forget to mention that part of the night involved vomit?
Towels were still sitting in the washer...wet.
Caprisun wrappers were strewn all over the living room and
My kids hadn't had a bath in 4 days!

Being a mom is hard.
But for some reason, we don't talk about it or want anyone to acknowledge it.
We are the ones who are up all night with little ones, who brush their teeth and make sure they have clothes to wear.  We are the ones who worry about them from the second they are created.
Don't get me wrong, daddies are fabulous.
But for some reason, the really hard things come when daddies are away from home.

None of us have it all together.  None of us are perfect.  None of our kids are perfect.
There are times that are wonderful and there are times that are flat out horrible.
It left me wondering why we don't share these things with one another.

For me, I think it's because of grace.
I don't give myself the grace to enjoy the 'really good'
 I'm always adding to the to-do list or comparing myself to another momma who is doing way more exciting things with her life.
I don't give myself the grace to sit in the 'not good at all'
I try to mask it or run from it.
I don't extend grace to other
  I'm quick to judge when someone shares the really good with me and brush it off as they're bragging.
I'm often not willing to accept grace from others
 I don't want inconvenience them or take up their time when it's likely I won't be able to pay them back.

The house is cleaned up and Charlie is almost better.  But it took me 2 days to share with my neighbors the events of the weekend.  Looks like I'm still working on those lessons of grace.