Saturday, September 29, 2012

Things I've Learned This Week

It never ceases to amaze me that the little space between the driver’s seat and the center console in my car will fit any object that can possibly be dropped, but will not fit a hand.

My house looks like we had a major party here. Which would be awesome if we’d had a major party here.

I truly have to remember how frustrating life can be as a toddler. Mine are having a difficult go of it lately and I have to stop and remember that they are not little adults. They are kids. They are trying. They are failing. They need our guidance, not always our criticism.

Netflix now has all three seasons of Drop Dead Diva. There goes all my plans of blogging at night....

Processing a thought in this house is about as easy as watching a silent movie blindfolded.

As my mind is on clothes this month due to the fast I'm on, I can't help but notice how many outfits line the shelf in my boys room. There is enough outfits in there to clothe my son's entire kindergarten class for at least two weeks. Easy. Somehow, every morning, all he wants to wear is a superhero t-shirt. Figures.

Coffee~proof that God knew parents of small children would need help facing their day....

Whenever I lock a car up I always press the button twice in a row to let all nearby thieves know that I mean business.

Considering what Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark did with their wealth, Bill Gates should be ashamed of himself.

Whenever I start feeling spontaneous, my bank account quietly reminds me to calm the heck down.

What I don’t understand is how Dora is a five-year-old bilingual explorer but she needs help to figure out which of her books is red....

So happy the roofers are finally done after two full days of constant, ear-splitting noise. I'm pretty sure I need to commit my dog to a PTSD support group though.

I keep having odd dreams about me cooking strange recipes. It's more odd that I'm dreaming about cooking than it is that I made a pineapple queso, but Whatevs. Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf.

I'm going to start my own cooking show. I think I'll call it “Cookin’ Stuff in the Microwave”. This, my friends, is my specialty.

It is entirely impossible to out-nice the staff at Chick-Fil-A. If you try, you will get laughed at. They are professionals.

START OVER TODAY. This is what I keep telling myself. Start new every morning. Forgive your kids, forgive yourself. Wipe the slate clean today. Forget all the spilled milks from yesterday, all the dirtied laundry, disrespectful words spoken, unleashed anger, tried and failed attempts to have as much patience with the kids as God has with us, all the selfish ways that we showed love yesterday. . .We get a "Do-Over"!! 
"But there's one other thing I remember, and keep remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love can't run out, His merciful love doesn't dry up. They are created new each and every morning. How great is your faithfulness, God!"
Lamentations 3:22-23

Happy Weekend Peeps!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Simplifying Life: I Promise I'm Not Homeless or Clothes 1.0

Here we are.  Week one of my clothes fast is coming to a close and the above statement is one I've thought I need to say out loud the last few days. The beginning of the week was like any other. I pulled on my jeans and Thunder t-shirt and headed out the door like usual. When I went for my run, I traded in my jeans for my black running shorts and took off. When we had our small group bible study on Wednesday, the same jeans worked just fine with my brown Old Navy t-shirt. No repeats, no biggie. But it's Friday and I realize that I am back in my Old Navy t-shirt already. At home, it's whatevs, but I had to drop Mr. Grouchy Pants off at school and I'm pretty sure his teacher noticed that this is the second time that she's seen me in this shirt in one week. Yes, I think she noticed. I got the "once-over" or "second glance". I'm pretty positive. She's judgey like that. Pphfttt! I wanted to let her know as I walked out of the classroom, "I promise we're not homeless. I promise that I have more t-shirts than this. I'm doing a fast; a social experiment, if you will. You wouldn't understand because it's a highly spiritual thing and I'm sure you would never understand.  With your perfect hair that is never in a ponytail and designer leopard-print heels. Have a nice day."

Obviously, I still have a ways to go in this whole "the outside is a reflection of the inside" thing. The fact that I was worried about my impression at all should tell you this month hasn't sunk in yet. Thankfully, I have three more weeks of this. Gravy.

Overall, I've quite enjoyed myself so far. Running to the store, driving through the carpool, visiting the dog park, etc have been so less stress than normal.  I love not having to think too hard about what I'm going to wear. There's only seven articles to choose from, so the real question every morning is What's clean or could possibly get by with just a spritz of Febreeze til I launder tomorrow?  Done deal. Aside from kindergarten drop-off, I'm finding I like Month Two so far. I obviously don't value clothes like food since Month One was ten times harder.  To discover what matters most in your life, take it away and see how quickly you writhe.  I actually thought that the Clothes month would do me in, but I'm finding I quite enjoy the limited decisions in the mornings. While my closet reveals that I am clearly still caught in the consumeristic lifestyle, it's grip on me is looser than I imagined.  I might actually untangle without severing a limb.  Then again, maybe I should be more bothered about wearing the same outfit three days in a row without washing it.  I don't know. Apparently I need to find a balance of some sort.

I will confess: As I was curling up last night to read this new book that I got, I smelled something a bit funky. I smelled the dog. . .same funk as always. Nothing new. Then I realized. . .it was my jeans. They'd been worn for 4 straight days and I was trying to hold off til Friday to wash them, but I believe they've reached their limit. Note to self:  Wash jeans every other wear. So that's embarrassing. I don't want to become that girl this month.  The one who smells of mildew funk. Maybe I should start pushing around a shopping cart full of empty coke cans too. I'm not sure. But one thing I am sure of. . .this month is for ME.  I have a lot of internal work to do and this first week was just a step in front of the mirror with a fresh look at how much my outward and inward are slightly off-kilter. We'll work on that, shall we? :)

Find out how I fared in Week Two

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Lost My Mind


I think I've lost some memory
since my precious boys were born;
I don't remember sleeping late
on a lazy Sunday morn.
I don't remember quiet dinners
with candlelight and wine,
Or getting up and ready for work
and making it there on time.
I don't remember summer days
just lounging on the beach,
And those memories of "girls' night out"
are somehow out of reach.
I don't remember long, warm baths
with bubbles and a good book,
Or my favorite TV program,
or a movie worth a look.
I can't remember all those things
I spent time on yesterday,
And I can't remember my life
being any other way.
But as I lay them down at night,
I smile at life this time;
I can't remember so much happiness,
Since the day I lost my mind.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Simplifying Life: A Wrap on Food and A Look At What Not To Wear

Well, I made it. Four whole weeks of NO Fast Food, NO Alcohol, NO Chocolate, NO Soda, NO Pork, NO Eating After 7pm, and Only ONE grocery trip per month. Boy, am I ecstatic that it's over. Seriously, I'm sooooo tired of telling myself NO on a daily basis. Not this it's not good for me. Goodness, I was becoming a bit of a fast-food-aholic and wondering if I was even able to de-stress without the help of some rum and juice in the evenings. Now I know the truth. I most definitely am able. But it's not nearly as fun. I missed chocolate. A lot. In fact, as I'm writing this post right now I am sitting in Barnes and Noble sipping on a caramel mocha and eating the biggest chocolate brownie I could find in this place. And let me also admit that I do not feel in the least convicted about this splurge. I have been fasting for FOUR WEEKS and I deserve it. Every last triple chocolate chunk.

In all seriousness, I have learned a lot from this fast in the food department. God has taught me so much about myself.  Mostly about will power and drawing strength from Him rather than myself.  Because I must say, this is not the first time that I have sought out to fast from (insert ANY of the following rules in here). Never once succeeding. I am a pathetic mess. This time was completely different. This time, I was doing it in order to see God in a different light. In order to step back and take a look at myself from a third party perspective. Truthfully, it wasn't always a pretty picture. I am quite the selfish, self-indulgent, frivolous, spoiled brat that I knew that I was. But I wasn't so much prepared to find out how little I thought about how my frivolousness looked to other people or how if I changed, it could not only make a difference in my life, but in the lives of so many whom I influence.

Refraining from anything for a season is going to change your view of that thing. Be it food, media, etc.  You see how little it affects you or how much enslaved to it you are.  I saw that I had a real addiction to convenience foods. I had a real problem with using food as stress relief instead of taking my worries to God and facing them head on. I've had to do that this month, and I have to say, I think that this process of four weeks has grown me in those ways. Food is nutrition. It is fuel and it is energy and nourishment.  It is not something to be taken advantage of. It's a blessing and a daily reminder of God's provision in my life. So many around the world lack this resource, struggling to survive on the little bit of food they can afford.  Some go to bed hungry and wonder where their next meal with come from. I will think about this fact every single time I go through my full cabinets and gripe about having nothing to eat. Shame on me for taking advantage of God's provision. I pray everyone has this type of revelation.

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for. . . .MONTH TWO: Fasting in the Area of CLOTHES!

I wrestled with the planning of this month. I read the Chapter in Jen Hatmaker's book on her clothes fast and told myself again and again, this woman is overzealous. There is no way in hades that I can choose only 7 articles of clothing and wear ONLY them for an entire 4 weeks!  Not gonna happen. But here I am and I've officially talked myself into it. Why not?!  Except that people might notice that I'm always in the same pair of jeans and t-shirt. . .They might assume that I never shower or do laundry. . .They might think I have no sense of fashion. . .They might think I'm just as crazy ridiculous at this Jen Hatmaker chick. . .OH my!  All are ridiculous thoughts and I finally had to extinguish these notions and decide if I really wanted to see God stir something up in me in this area (of beauty and outward adornment) then I needed to sell-out and just shut my trap. So that's what I'm doing.

Let's face it, on any given day you'll find me sporting my favorite OU/Thunder/youth group t-shirt and wholy jeans anyway.  I looked like a high school student that rolled out of bed, threw my hair in a ponytail, and marched out the door without a second thought. I like to think I still resemble a high school student in the age department as well, but I know I'm giving myself too much credit on that one. . .Anyhow, I'm a simple dresser, I would say. A lazy dresser who doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about my wardrobe.  Clothing doesn't seem to own me then, right? Though it may sound like I have this area under control, my closet, were it to be asked, would clearly tell you a whole other story!

On any given day, this one included, you can open up my walk-in closet and find not only clothes on every single wall, but also mounds and stacks of folded clothing in piles all around the floor.  That's not including the clothes in my double dresser.  Or the endless amounts of coats I have that spill out onto the floor when you open the closet in the entryway. It's overwhelming. What's even more overwhelming is that each and every item of clothing cost real money. I did some counting and averaging and if I spent $10 on each and every item in my closet, I am FLOORED at how much the totals reflect. I have approximately 400 articles of clothing in MY closet alone. I'm no mathematician, folks, but that amount is sickening. Especially when I only wear an eighth of the clothing that lines the walls in there.  So while I'm bragging about how little my wardrobe defines me as a person, for some reason I obviously can't seem to resist buying more and more. If I am serious about addressing overindulgence and irresponsible spending, I need to look no further than my own closet.

So here we go with Month Two: Simplifying Clothes.  I picked my seven articles of clothing yesterday, as I begun my 4 weeks for this phase today.  My seven articles are:

*Pair of dark jeans
*Thunder Basketball T-shirt
*Pair of thin black leggings
*Blue tunic
*Black running shorts
*Pastel Speckled Tunic Shirt
*Brown Old Navy T-shirt

There we have it. A few things that I am not counting as items. Shoes. This may sound like a cop-out, but to be quite honest, I will more than likely wear the same black or brown flats for the entire month. Nothing flashy. No heels, no sandals. Just plain and simple. Also, no jewelry, belts, hats, scarves, or coats. No frills. No problem.

I know what you may be wondering. . .Underwear does NOT count as an item. It's an essential.  I considered momentarily omitting undergarments, but unleashing my free-swinging lady bits on this innocent world is probably a felony.  Not one deserves that kind of visual assault.  So undergarments get a free pass, and if that makes me a 7 slacker, well, at least I'm a slacker wearing a bra.

That's the plan for now, friends. I'll be updating you on week one's progress and/or woes on Friday. I'm looking forward to finding out how God plans to shake things up using this time. Start praying now for my washer and dryer.  They have a hefty obligation to me this month!

Month Two: Clothes might just kill me. . .
Follow along Here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring, My Kids Find Me Boring. . .

Well, Fall has already reared it's ugly head here in Oklahoma this last weekend. One minute we are frolicking outside in the summer heat, showering ourselves with the garden hose, and lathering on the sunscreen, the next we are shivering in our shorts, pulling on hoodies, and watching the torrential downpour from our patio window. The woes of Oklahoma weather, changes as often as I change diapers. But as the rainy season approaches and we are getting closer and closer to being cooped up for longer periods of time, I decided it was time to put together a little list of go-to activities to keep these monsters busy, lest they resort to stealing all my marbles. Pinterest has been my End-All in my search for Boredom Cures. These activities, all 30 of them, are easy, cheap, and most involve items that you may already have at your disposal.  Enjoy!! 

Sight Word Bingo
I can tell ya, if anyone is OVER practicing Sight Words, spelling, etc,
 it's this mama!
My kid's in kindergarten, for the love of Pete!
But, it's inevitable that I will get looked at as the mom that "doesn't care",
get the "stank eye" from the teacher if my kid doesn't learn them,
so. . .I think this is the perfect solution.
Write them down on a colorful card, provide snacks, and VIOLA!
I can force myself to endure anything over popcorn and pop.
And if the prizes for BINGO involve a kid who nails his sight words. . .
Take THAT Kindergarten!
 Homemade Jolly Rancher Pops
 At first glance, anything that involves ME and "homemade"
 in the same sentence is inevitably
 an enormous FAIL, but THIS. . .
I'm fairly certain that I can't mess these up. 
Take different flavors of jolly ranchers, line them up together 
with a Popsicle stick, and BAKE at 350 for 7 minutos!
Let sit for 10 minutes and you have a super cheap, easy snack 
that your kiddos will enjoy making with you!

Indoor GRAND Prize Game
 Anyone remember the kids game show with BOZO the clown?
Am I dating myself? 
My mornings were not complete before I saw the Grand Prize Game
first thing in the morning before school. 
Our boys have tons of buckets, boxes, containers lying around.
We take all these and line them up in the living room for some
good, old-fashioned, healthy competition.
We throw balls, small toys, blocks, whatever will fit inside. 
Each bucket achieved gets a small prize. . .
ie. Tickle, Kiss, Hug, Twirl around the room, piggy-back ride. . .
What can I say? I cheap out on the prizes! LOL

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
The greatest way I've found to get your kids to leave you alone and
let you enjoy a bit of reading/napping/snacking in peace is this:
And this one can be quite educational.
If you're trapped inside due to inclement weather,
print off some colorful letters and give them a mission.
In 20 minutes, they are to find something in the house that starts
with every letter of the alphabet and place the letter on it.
When they are done, they can take you on a hunt
to re-find all the letters.
But mama's the initial pursuit of household items could take them awhile.
Sit back, and get a Chapter or two in.

Balloon Ninjas
There is no surface in my home that my ninja children cannot reach
They need a new mission besides using ME as their 
arch-Nemesis, although it is fun to body slam them. 
Blow up ten balloons with helium and tie them down with 
balloon weights.  Paint fun ninja faces on the balloons.
Let the kiddos plan their attack!
Balloons are a great way for kids to exert pent-up energy
from being stuck inside.

Indoor Obstacle Course
If you are even a "wanna-be crafter" like me, chances are good
that you at least have a bit of yarn or string in your house.
Use it to tie to posts, columns, or random items in your house
to create a mini-obstacle course!
Time your kids to see how fast they can maneuver through it.
This will be great practice for those aspiring bank robbers/spies/spidermen.

Colored Popcorn
Everything's better with a bit more color!
Take some food coloring and drip it in the bag of recently popped corn.
Shake around until you have a brand new creation!
This is great for afternoon snacks with a movie
or for Fall parties with friends.

Pipe Cleaners! Who Knew?
This is a fun one to do with my kindergartner as he is learning
all of his letters in school everyday.
Making learning fun can be difficult, but this activity was a hit!
Buy a package of colorful pipe cleaners and practice forming
certain letters in different colors. See if he can do the
entire alphabet in a certain timed exercise.
This is also fun for my three-year-old. However, with him we usually
end up with shapes that more so resemble a dragon puking a apple
or a potato with eight arms. It's fun times.

Indoor Finger Painting
Sounds like an oxymoron right?!
Why would you fingerpaint inside??
Well, it's raining, it's pouring, and my kids find me boring
so it's time to shake things up a bit.
Take a sheet of white paper, put it in a gallon Ziploc bag.
Take at least two colors and squirt an ample amount in each corner.
Then take the bag to the kitchen table.
Let the little buggers go to town!
This is especially fun for my younger son and can keep
him occupied for at least 30 minutes, giving me a much
needed moment to pray that God will stop the rain
and give us some sunshine and relief from cabin fever. :)

My house hoards body parts. They are lying around everywhere.
It's no big thing to find an arm or a nose stuck down in the
couch cushions. No matter how hard we try,
Potato Head parts will continue to spring up out of nowhere.
As they are so readily accessible in this house, we will make
a game out of it!  This is a cute one!
Put Mr. or Mrs. Potato head together in
various outfits and poses and take photos of them.
Put all their parts back into a communal bin
and then let your littles look at photos to recreate
their favorite looks. It's like the matching game, but better!
This will keep them occupied for a bit while the rain comes pouring down.

Bathtub Fishing
This one is fun and easy.
And who's kids couldn't use another soaking in the tub, right?
Make your own fishing poles with string and a pole and attach
a strong magnet to the bottom of the string.
Get some craft magnets at the hobby store and stick them to
the kids favorite bath toys.
Let them go fishing indoors!
We do this right before we stick them in.  They even like
to play with the magnets once they get in for bath time.
It's a great indoor activity.

Homemade Stamps
Do you save your bottle caps? Maybe I'm the only crazy one.
But if you can collect a few, you can create your own stamps!
Visit the craft store and grab a few soft, rubber shapes to glue on.
Then use a stamp pad and let your little monster have a field
day! This one has kept mine occupied more times than one!

Bath time Ball Pit
Can you tell that I will use any excuse to give these
boys an extra dip in the tub?
They are most definitely boys and can always use an extra
scrubbing.  Here's another idea for the bath on the
days when playing outside is not an option and
bath time comes sooner rather than later.
Grab as many balls as you can and toss them in the water with them!
This may cause some added clean-up afterward, but
the kids will love tossing them around with their toys!

Living Room Sumo Wrestling
Take some of Dad's XL T-shirts and stuff pillows inside!
Remove furniture from the center of the living room
and let the little sumos throw themselves at each other
for an hour.  It will wear them out and cause lots of laughter!
We do this every other day!

The Lego Game
Okay, this board game is homemade but kids love it!
What child doesn't love legos?!
Create your own board with a start and a finish
and a lot of spaces in between. On each space,
write "Take 2 Legos", or "Remove 1 Lego", etc.
Steal a dice from another game and have each child start at the
START with one Lego each.  See who reaches the
FINISH space with the tallest tower!

Exercise Together

I stumbled upon this fun activity by complete accident.
I had popped in an exercise video to do
and the boys thought it looked like too 
much fun not to join in.
They were bending and flexing and kicking
and stretching right along with me.
The yoga poses on little boys are the best.
You may not be able to contain your laughter at 
their downward facing dog and planking.
A fun activity for a rainy afternoon!

Magnetic Puzzles
This craft is a great one for a rainy day!
My kids love puzzles!
Grab some magnetic tape from your local craft store,
take your kids favorite puzzle,
and attach a small piece to each puzzle piece.
Kids will love putting the puzzle together on the fridge!

Old-Fashioned Board Games
We have a love/hate relationship with board games in this family.
We love them when we win and hate them when we lose.
It doesn't stop us from breaking them out
when playing outside is not an option!
In an attempt to teach good sportsmanship,
I only cheat half the time.
The other half the time I let Mr. Grouchy Pants win.
I don't want to continuously have to go find pawns that
have been thrown across the room in violent frustration.
What can I say?  Mom's the Queen of Candyland!

Go Fish
 Before I tackle this activity, I have to resolve to being a loser. 
At least temporarily. 
My children have not yet reached that age where they are "happy losers".
We are still recovering from a tragic loss of Candyland to 
our cousin Chloe. Cards got tossed and pawns got thrown.
It wasn't pretty.
I bought some cards specifically for toddlers to learn "Go Fish". 
Hopefully this will cultivate some patience in my little guy.
Activities that encourage sitting still and concentration
are hard to come by with toddlers. 

Balloon Tennis

This is an activity that I can't wait to try.
Who doesn't have Popsicle sticks and paper plates a plenty?!
Duck tape or hot glue a plate to a Popsicle stick and 
you have your own homemade tennis racket.
Blow up a few balloons to use and set up your court
in the living room or garage.
Don't forget to let them win a few rounds, Mom. 

Homemade Pizzas
I know, I know, who wants to cook!?
This solves two problems! Use this as a simple dinner that
your kids have to create themselves!
We use dough from a can (I know, very organic)
and pre-made Prego pasta sauce. 
Let them fill the top with cheese and their own toppings 
and bake in the oven for 7 minutes (or until cooked) at 350 degrees.
This is great for an after school snack as well!

Make a Dress-Up Box
You know there's WAY too many clothes in your closet! 
And if you're anything like me, you have things in there
 that would rival Lady GaGa's look on the red carpet! 
This is a fun activity to kill two birds with one stone. 
 Closet cleaning and "Dress-Up Clothes Collecting" all in one. 
 Go through your stuff and select items that are colorful
 and funky and that the kiddos would enjoy dressing up in.  
Store them all in a box or a drawer marked
 "Dress-Up" for hours of fashion fun.  
Get into it with them by creating crazy outfits
 that you model for them as well.  
Maybe even host a fashion show in the living room.  
Be the paparazzi and snap photos of them in each funny outfit!  
Everyone loves pretending to be someone else!

Don't Touch the Floor!
If you've never played this game, then you had a horrible childhood.
Take out pillows or paper plates and put them all over the living room.
Lift the ban that children are not allowed to crawl and jump
on the furniture for one hour only and play the
Don't Touch the Floor Game!
Mom, you join in and show them how it's done!
I used to play this for hours with my siblings!

Edible Necklaces
Half of the indoor activities I have involve food.
I might as well get a snack out of all this "rainy day togetherness"!
Use some yarn or string that you have in a junk drawer somewhere
and grab some snacks that can be strung.
Our favorites are Fruit Loops, Pretzels, and marshmallows!
Let the kiddos make as many necklaces as they want!
You'll need something to munch on after they go to bed!
This is an activity that my boys adore!

Family Photo Matching Game
Use regular playing card and tape small photos of your
extended family on them!
This is a great way to introduce members of the family
that your children don't get to see very often in a really fun way.

Digital Hot Potato
Use your iPhone as the "potato".
Sit in a circle or dance around the room to a song on the phone's
iPod.  Set the timer on the phone to go off every 15 seconds or so.
(You can get a camera with a timer at the app store called "Camera+")
The photos that you come up with will make you laugh and laugh!

Make Your Own Music Video
If your kids are like mine, they like to "boogie".
That's an understatement!
We love to have dance parties in the living room to our faves,
Micheal Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Flo Rida! Ha!
We decided to step it up a notch and start recording our
dance parties with the camera on my iphone!
Boy do they love to watch themselves back!  They giggle and laugh
at all of our ridiculous moves! (Well, their moves are ridiculous. . .
I however, have the moves like jagger.)

Storytime Board Game
We heart books. Like, immensely.
So of course, I create a game out of reading!
I used a sheet of white paper and made a board game with spaces
big enough to write the names of books inside.
Every 5 spaces, I would leave a space for an exercise or snack.
There were about 20 book spaces in all.
I'd let the boys pick out books to go in the spaces
and we would write down the titles after finishing each book.
When we reached the activity or snack space, we would do what
it said (ie. 15 jumping jacks). This just gave us a quick break
from all the reading. Then we would get back to it.
This game lasted a good 30-45 minutes and we went
through half of our book collection in one sitting!

Magazine Collages
Who doesn't have a stash of old magazines lying around?!
If you don't, come on over to my house and stock up!
We love to sit around the living room or kitchen
cutting and pasting to create magazine collages!
I actually think that my kids may love using scissors more than
they love just about anything! It can keep them occupied for HOURS!

Hallway Tents
If you have an extra sheet in the house, this is a great
little activity for kids trapped inside.
We build forts and tents on a daily basis around here,
but doing it in the hallway, and creating more of a tunnel
was super fun! Mom even loved getting down on all fours
and finding my way through the hallway to the laundry room!

Well, there you have it! 30 Rainy Day Activities for Kiddos!
There are many more you can find on Pinterest!
Here's to having fun and not getting cabin fever this Fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mind Bombs

I think I’ve developed an allergic reaction to question marks, thanks to my unbelievably inquisitive children. They have completely beaten me down with all their constant questioning about every freaking little thing under, over and beyond the moon. I’m quite certain that I would completely crumble if ever called to the witness stand in court because my brain comes freakily close to blowing into tiny bits after one too many queries. Here are just a few of the mind bombs my little nuggets have dropped on me lately:

** Mama, would it hurt if you almost shot your toe off?
** Mama, can you grow a penis?
** Mama, why do boogers taste so salty?
** Mama, how far can you jump?
** Mama, what was the very first pet?
** Mama, how fast can you drive?
** Mama, how old is God?
** Mama, what’s the latest you’ve ever slept?
** Mama, how many people have Wi-Fi?
** Mama, how big can you smile?
** Mama, who invented lockers?
** Mama, what’s the biggest poop you’ve ever pooped?
** Mama, what’s farther, Heaven oouter space?
** Mama, how do the chickens get into the eggs?
** Mama, why does the dog eat his barf?

Please leave your answers to any and all of these questions in the "comment section" and I will pass them on to my toddler.  I'm much too tired to dream up some creative responses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Simplifying Life: FOOD 3.0

So, between my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, I have around 240 food items.  This is the kitchen my kids holler in about having nothing to eat.  Nearly everything in my pantry is processed.  We may not eat enough raw broccoli, but we are getting plenty of soy lecithin and sodium acid pyrophosphate.  Most have at least fourteen ingredients, and there is an excellent chance our blood has turned to straight high fructose corn syrup.

This bothers me.

When I started this FOOD Fast, I thought that removing the items that I'm most addicted to would be enough for me to see a huge difference in the way that I felt about food.  Not having my morning Pepsi and chocolate donut; refraining from an every other day taco run; abstaining from a nightly cocktail would rid my body of the hold that food has had in my life. Doing so, however, has just increased my awareness of every other bad thing that I consume on a daily basis.

I have friends who have transitioned their lives to full vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. These are good friends who I see on a weekly basis and I continually poke fun at their eating habits. You don't eat MEAT? Not even EGGS? Where do you get your protein?? How do you survive without Chick-Fil-A??  You un-American, YOU!  I would now like to recant my ridicule.  I do think there is a method to your madness.  You won't see me giving up my double cheeseburgers cold turkey anytime soon, but I am now comprehending the error of my ways in the food department. Most of what we have eaten, even over the last three weeks so far has been processed, in a can, frozen foods, or something Hamburger Helper related. Chef-Boy-R-Dee is our best bud, yo!  But in my relentless pursuit to view food as "nutrition" instead of a "social event", I am not satisfied anymore with what my family is consuming. All the soda, chocolate, pork, fast food, alcohol (only the tall people, guys. Don't dial CPS just yet!) aside, we are STILL not eating what we should.  This fast has only begun the transformation that I want to make in our eating habits. I'm not wanting to jump off the deep end and go live in an agricultural commune and only consume organic foods from goats, cows, and chickens that make residence in our backyards, but something has got to change. I'm in the process of doing some research and coming up with practical solutions to integrate into our lives.  I've started the book, In Defense of Food and it is starting to revolutionize my ideas about what nutrition means. The gist of the book:  Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

Our grandmas ate local meat and vegetables from their own gardens; we eat PopTarts and Velveeta. Over the course of a few generations, our foods have evolved and what we are left with now is food that has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter. Four of the top ten causes of death in America today are chronic diseases with well-established links to our industrialized diets: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. These health plagues remain rare in countries where people don't eat like we do.

One thought that has really stood out to me was made by Jen Hatmaker in her 7 book:  We get to vote three times a day against this toxic food supply with our forks.

In the spirit of spiritual wisdom gained this week, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 has weighed heavy on me.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

I think week three has taught me two main things. One, I can say no to the things that I know are tearing my body down.  I've done that by adhering to the seven food rules I've set up for myself. But beyond that, I have the ability to take it a step farther and choose what I do eat. I don't have to eat out of convenience.  It takes a bit more planning and foresight and research, but each and every thing I put in my body either fuels it or tears it down.  And God has given me the freedom to choose daily how I will honor Him with my body.  The second thing that I've learned is conviction increases with knowledge. When I didn't know any better, just out of pure naivety, I didn't feel convicted about each and every little thing that I ate. The more I know, the more I research, the more I feel convicted about what I put in.  It becomes not just about doing what is healthiest, but doing what I feel is right for me. ( I SAY for me, because just as I don't feel as if living the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is right for ME, my friends feel as if it is right for THEM.  God convicts everyone's heart differently about different things.)  I feel like I have a responsibility now to my family, to myself, to make better choices.

 James 4:17 says:  So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.

It's about time for me to grow up and start looking at food as another opportunity that I have to make a difference.  If I make better decisions for me, then I can be a good example to others about how to "honor God with my body".  I'd like to be around as long as possible for my family and children in particular. This is another way that I can do that. 

Find out how my Fast From Food Ended 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Re-Writing History

It's been a hard couple of years with my oldest child.  I hate to even write that statement down because some might assume I have favorites, and Mr. Grouchy Pants is not it. I have two amazing boys and they are completely different. I love so many things about each one individually.  I do have to confess that there have been times in these early toddler years that I have LOVED my little Grouch, but didn't like him very much.  I write this down because as I explain this struggle, some very desperate parents out there might be able to relate and find a little hope.

Mr. Grouchy Pants was always that.  Grouchy.  My adorable, stubborn, beautiful little sour puss. Sometimes I feel like he came out with a scowl on his precious face that just never went away. Don't get me wrong, there were moments of cheerfulness and big smiles and plenty of laughter. But he was always a very particular child.  I learned early that things had to go according to plan, or he may just have an emotional meltdown.  I probably fed that fire. Don't we all when it's our first baby?  We hang on their every "goo-goo-gah-gah", we give them what they want or need even before they ask us, we are perfectly content devoting our every waking hour to just sitting and staring at them.  They are new and exciting and they learn that we were put on this earth to entertain them, provide for them, and cater to their every whim. Not that this is a bad thing.  But we teach them what to expect from us.  I think in my case, especially, I became all things to Mr. Grouch and worshipped his sweet little spoiled behind one iota too much.  I didn't think that was possible.  He was my baby, and always would be.

Until I had Mr. Stinky Pants.

Boy did our world come to a screeching halt. Especially for Big Brother. All of the sudden, mommy's attention and focus wasn't solely wrapped up in his every move. He had to compete for the chance to be the one sitting comfortably on Mommy's lap. He went from being "Mommy's Baby" to "Mommy's Big Boy" overnight. And if the title "Big Boy" meant no more crawling into mommy and daddy's bed every morning, no more hour-long story times at night, and no more bedtimes where Mommy rocked him to sleep every night for two hours while humming his favorite lullaby, then "Big Boy" was NOT the new nickname that he wanted.

Things changed in our house, but they also changed for me emotionally.  I felt torn. I didn't realize that going from one child to two would be such a drastic difference. What's one more, I thought. Apparently, one more came with a whole lot of sacrifices. The main one being letting go of the atmosphere of "Grouch-worship" that was so routine to us, and embracing a new life of balance.  I obviously did not handle the transition well.  And neither did Mr. Grouchy Pants.

The next few years were filled with meltdowns, resentment, and bitterness.  The more Grouch acted out due to lack of the attention that he'd grown so accustomed, the more I threw my hands up in surrender and just turned even more attention to Stinker. It was a vicious cycle. One that neither of us knew how to stop from happening.  I was so overwhelmed by the outbursts and negative actions of Grouch that I retreated to Stinker and allowed my husband to tend to our "difficult child".  If I were to be really transparent, I would admit that the moment that Stinker arrived, I began to neglect Grouch in such a way that he was left with emotional scars that we are still trying to fix. However good my intentions or how accidental my behavior was in the two and a half years to follow, it left Grouch with feelings of abandonment and a grudge so deep that it will take God's help to overcome. I've accidentally broken my little one's heart. I'm learning to forgive myself for this so that I can penetrate through his again.  It's a daily process.

Through this whole ordeal, I've learned a lot. I've learned that Mr. Grouchy Pants and I were given each other for a reason. We are in so many ways alike. You see, I had a parent who I could never please. One who made me feel like a constant inconvenience.  One who would only love me if I lived up to his expectations.  I was constantly disowned.  Constantly pleading for love and attention.  Constantly feeling abandoned and alone. Don't think for a minute that this is just a coincidence. Generational sins are a real-life curse. My dad and I currently have no relationship. It breaks my heart everyday.  In the same way that it probably broke my dad's heart for years and years that he had no relationship with his mother. And she had no relationship with her mother. This is something that our family has been struggling with for decades.

And it stops here. 

No matter how long it takes me, or to what lengths I have to go, my son will feel loved.  He may struggle with it.  He may fight me like he does sometimes now when I tackle him in a bear hug and struggle to get free.  He may say mean and hurtful things to me to break my heart the way I have unintentionally broke his. But I won't walk away. I won't take the easy route and play favorites and spend all my time with the "pleasant child".  Mr. Grouchy Pants has a Mr. Happy Pants inside him just waiting to be freed, I just know it. I make it my life mission to find him.  Our routine daily takes turns for the better. I'm learning to balance my emotions and get a tighter grasp on my patience. I'm learning that with kids, taking the "easy route" is almost never the best route.  And most of all, I'm learning to not just love my kids, but to like them as well. They are a product of their history.  The history that I get the pleasure of writing every single day. One day, Mr. Grouch will look back on this history lesson and be thankful that his mom was a soldier; realizing her mistakes but never ever giving up the fight.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ever Notice How Patient Children Are. . .

Have you ever noticed how patient children are?  How when waiting for something exciting to happen, they clasp their little hands, don't make a sound, don't ask questions, sit calmly and quietly, and exonerate an insurmountable measure of patience and self-restraint. . . . .yea, me either! We must not be referring to MY little monsters! As much as I can tell from my own experience, this "waiting period" for anything from a childhood's perspective is never a time of self-control.  The usual scenario goes a little something like this:

"Mr. Grouch, wait a minute.  I will give you (said snack) as soon as Mommy gets off the phone."

Chaos ensues. First comes the wringing of the hands in violent frustration and the glaring glances. Then comes the over-achieving sighs of annoyance. The dancing in place begins, proceeded directly by groans of "Huuuuurry up, mommyyyyyy!" to which I politely (yea, right) reiterate that I am on the phone and he will need to wait.

Jumping up and down, grabbing my arms and swinging around, sitting at my feet, continuing sighs of dissatisfaction and impatience follow. This goes on until he decides, I should get her attention another way. This is my favorite part. . .

Mr. Grouch starts running circles in the house, leaping off train tables and knocking items off the table. Before I can grab him he's dive-bombing off the couch onto a mountain of pillows in the floor. And he does all of this in absolute silence. . .NOT. (Yes, I just brought that phrase back.)  The squeals and laughs and shouts for attention overwhelm the obviously important phone call that I'm in the middle of. I try to shush him down, but he is persistent on getting me off that phone and onto snack time.  By this time, I am beyond over giving a disrespectful child anything sugar-related.

I can just see the wheels in his little monster brain turning as I walk out of earshot so as to hear the person on the other line. This tactic is not working. . .desperate times call for desperate measures! I'll just have to get this snack myself! He proceeds to the kitchen, pushing a dining room chair across the floor and up next to the cabinet. Climbing onto the chair, he then lifts a knee and crawls successfully onto the kitchen cabinet. I just stand there and watch in general frustration.  Let's just see how this goes down.  Opening the cabinet, he finds a cereal box and pries the top open and sticks his little grubby hand in. Grabbing a handful, he pulls it out and stuffs it in his mouth as I hang up the phone and come into the room, my hands on my hips. Realizing that he's been caught, he stumbles back onto the chair, it tipping to the side, spilling the rest of the cereal box onto the floor where the dog generously devours each and every little piece.

Mr. Grouch looks up at my disapproving glare with a mouthful of Fruit Loops and eyes of shame. And just as I'm about to tear into him for being impatient and over-anxious and disobedient, it hits me like a ton of bricks just how much like his mother he truly is. He's a child. Waiting for something that seems so far away, yet just out of his grasp.

This is me lately. Guilty eyes with a mouthful of Fruit Loops, apologizing repeatedly for taking matters (of God's) into my own hands because I'm just too anxious to wait any longer for Him to come through.

Waiting is brutal.  Whether you are a child or just a child in the eyes of God who has repeatedly told you to Wait patiently. All things will come together at the proper time. Don't we always assume that NOW is the proper time and that God is just dragging His all-knowing feet. Lately, we have been asking God for many signs and plans to come together that will dictate the future of our family. Open doors, supply resources, orchestrate divine intervention in our lives. . .shine Your light on the next step of our journey! I'm ready for my dang SNACK already!

I'm starting to get it, as I pick Mr. Grouch up off the floor and let him know that he should have waited on me to get his snack.  Explaining to someone who doesn't see the future, doesn't understand the risks of doing it himself instead of waiting on my experience. He doesn't get the fact that waiting is a sign of obedience.  He does, however, now apprehend how easy it is to wreck a situation when you try to take matters into your own hands. Now for kitchen clean-up!

It's amazing how much these crazy little people in our lives can continuously teach us life lessons. It's quite aggravating, actually, I'm not gonna lie. I hate the sinking feeling that I have almost daily when I catch the little bugger doing something that I'm guilty of on a much grander scale. Really clever, God. . . .teach the teacher her own lessons by using her students. Nothing like putting me in my place and reminding me that God still sees me as a little child. But honestly, thank heavens for that! I still have a lot of things to learn, and could regularly use a healthy heap of patience as I constantly try to get God "off the phone" and onto snack time. For now, I'm going to practice clasping my hands in my lap, sit calmly and quietly, and exonerate an insurmountable measure of self-control. . . . .hopefully.

Maybe a few jumping jacks, squeals, and sighs will do the trick too.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Simplifying Life: FOOD 2.0

First and foremost, I have to say that this week has made me realize what a BRAT I truly am. You would think something as small as a simple fast wouldn't have such a dramatic effect. After all, it's not like I've given up food all together! I've just set seven rules in place to create some much-needed healthy limits on my food intake and the rest of it is a "free-for-all". I still have so much freedom, yet I've felt trapped most of the week.  It seems all of the things I crave are the things that I've given up.  Let's recap, for those that have forgotten, exactly what I'm fasting from this month:

*No Fast Food
*No Soda/Pop
*No Alcohol
*No Pork
*No Eating after 7 p.m.
*Only One Grocery Trip a week
*No Chocolate

Which one of them has been the hardest for me to adhere to?  ALL. OF. THEM. Geez, I'm pathetic.

It seems as though I have been living a lifestyle that is way too much "on the go". So much so that I never plan ahead what my family will eat ahead of time, and making the possibility of grabbing something fast food pretty much inevitable. It's been a struggle all week, with trips to the Science Museum around lunch time to mall trips around dinner time. I'm learning that I'm not a planner. I'm a "spontaneous eater" by nature. I graze. A little here, a little there, but hardly ever a little at home. That's been changing as I've learned to schedule our outings a bit after some REALLY late dinners and really cranky kids made me realize that's not acceptable. So, I'm adapting.

Let's talk caffeine. I'm not sure how people do life without it. For years I have suffered through existence with a Big Gulp in the morning to wake me up enough to endure people, and then have refilled throughout the day.  This has been to all of your benefits. I'm really not a nice person without a healthy dose of caffeine running through my veins. I'm still getting my caffeine, but in a bit more creative ways. Since the NO SODA rule, I've been popping Excedrin tablets like their going out of style. Before you deem me a druggie, know that the lack of soda has given me daily headaches and Excedrin (that happens to be chalked full of caffeine) allows me to grin and bare it when I really want to crawl into a corner and cry.  I've also taken my morning coffee to a whole new level. I used to drink it only in the fall/winter. But having a morning java has saved my children from many near-death experiences over the last two weeks. I tell them on a daily basis, "Folgers has saved your lives again."  Not to make myself sound too ridiculously pathetic, I have started drinking water again. You know, the stuff on tap in your OWN homes that's FREE?!  I add a little Mio and Viola!  I'm finding I'm not so dehydrated all the time.  This is something I plan to stick to after this whole fast is over.

Mostly this week I've realized that my slightly reduced life is still extraordinary in every way.  There are so little boundaries and no end to my advantages. For whatever reason, I was born into privilege:  I've never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been blessed.  Ridiculously blessed--relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it's almost embarrassing.  And yet I let little things like the fact that I can't run through a drive-thru window or grab a soda obstruct my view on reality. I can't see how blessed I am most days because I'm  not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. I've been concentrating too much on the few things that I can't have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal. I have more food (even with all the limitations) in one single day than most of the earth's population see their whole lives. If anything is ridiculous, it's that fact. How many times do we really stop and think about that? If we did, I think it would revolutionize the way we think about food.

My husband and I are desperately trying to afford a mission trip coming up in November. We are saving money and planning on visiting Nicaragua, one of the "third-world-countries" in Central America.  I'm not entirely sure what defines a "third-world-country", but I know it involves a poverty like we cannot fathom in the United States. We see hunger, we see poverty, we see a down slide in our economy. . .But we know nothing about this level of desperation. We want to use what resources that we've been blessed with to go there and bless others. Whether that is with food, relational support, or just old-fashioned care and concern. This fast has opened my eyes to the fact that I don't know much about "need". I'm so looking forward to having my eyes opened in November to what a "need" truly looks like. It's not just a craving for a bit of fast food or a soda. It probably looks a lot more like a mom going to bed hungry so that both of her children have at least a little something in their bellies. My children don't know that feeling. I don't know that feeling.

"Tell me about the world before.  What was it like?"
We didn't even know what was precious.  
We threw away things that people would kill for today."
-The Book of Eli

Want to hear more about my journey of
Simplifying Life: Food, Here's Week THREE!