Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Too Young

As of late, this is a theme that has been replaying in my life over and over and over and over, and I don't understand the reason.  It seems that 28 is the new 15 when it comes to receiving advice from me.  Granted, this isn't the case in all situations, but in many it truly is.  I can't help but wonder why.  It seems that it is the same few people who continue to talk down to me in the "you have no idea what this is like" stance.

Really?  Would I be offering up my opinion or ANY amount of advice if I didn't understand where you were coming from?

No.  I truly would not.

I find myself feeling frustrated at the fact that people look at me as being younger.  Let's be honest - there are not many women who are near my own age who are in the place of life where I am.  A few, yes, but not many.  A majority of my friends are about 10 years older than I am, and when I am with them, they don't point out my age difference or make me feel any less relevant because of it.

So why do others?  Why is it that other people fixate on my 28 years as being inexperienced?  There are so many areas of life that I have too much experience; heartache, loneliness, desperately wanting something more ... check, check and check.  Love, laughter, a live overflowing with happiness ... done, done and done!  Anger, frustration, sadness ... been there, done that.

So maybe this all goes back to this post.  Maybe it really is more about me being confident in the woman that God created me to be.  I am a mother to five awesome children, a wife to one very amazing man, a scheduler of our busy lives, a manager of our household, a laundry goddess, a cleaning guru, a Norwex-seller extraordinaire, an accounts payable representative, a referee of all fights, a judge of the "trials" that happen between siblings in our home, a daughter to three amazing parents (three because I have a step-dad, too!), a sister to three phenomenal siblings, a sister-in-law, a step-sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend and an extreme goofball.

A woman with a huge desire to use my life experience to help others.  To let my story be the thing that touches them and teaches them about the love of our Savior.

So yes, I am only 28.  If my 28-year-old self doesn't qualify to offer advice to you, please just simply say "thank you" instead of talking down to me.  You may not think that I understand because of where my life is today, but I have been deeper in the trenches than most people know, and I have one very awesome God to thank for walking with me through those trenches and leading me out into glorious light.

Beautiful, shining, victorious light ...

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Ethan!

This past Wednesday (November 7th) we celebrated Ethan's 2nd birthday!  We had so much fun!  We started the day with a nebulizer treatment, since our birthday boy is currently fighting off a nasty cold ...


 We had "Ethan's choice" for dinner, which turned out to be Macaroni & Cheese with hot dogs (I really wasn't surprised that he chose that .. he is a two-year-old, after all!) and followed that up with some really yummy cupcakes ...


Ethan opened his present - a bouncing Tigger doll - and couldn't eat his cupcake fast enough to be done and play with it!


Then, once he was playing with Tigger, I couldn't get him to turn and look at the camera even once!


Happy 2nd Birthday my little love!  I am so grateful that you are mine and that I have had the last two years with you in my life.  I hardly remember what our family was like before you arrived!  Daddy and I love you SO much!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Good at Being Me

This is something that has been on my heart for about a month.  I had the privilege of sharing it with my MOPS group yesterday, and now I want to share it with you.  Looking back over the past (almost) four years, I have found that there were so many times I felt I didn't measure up.  It started out with motherhood. Jumping in head-first to being a step-mom to four kids is one of the best blessings I've ever been given, but it also is one of the most frustrating learning journeys that I've been on.  You see, I really thought I was doing a good job - I was staying on top of our housework and laundry (which I now realize was truly a miracle!), I was making dinners, I was playing with the kids and helping with homework.  Sure, we had a hiccup every now and then, but life really seemed to be going smoothly.

Then I started following mommy blogs.

There are few things in the world that tear me down the way that reading a mommy blog can.  Those blogs that give advice for all of the tough moments, that show pictures of the perfect birthday parties and the perfect children who's clothes always match, who's hair is never messy and who always have the perfect, attentive smile.

I hated other mommy blogs!  Suddenly I began to think that I wasn't good enough.  My kids would fight.  My little boys' clothes rarely ever matched (because I had made the decision that I wasn't going to be the mom who forced her kids to wear what she picked out for them).  My youngest threw major fits in the store.  Oh my goodness, I was completely convinced that I wasn't a good mother.

Then I met my neighbor.

She was (and still is) a very wonderful woman - a loving mother and the keeper of her own busy schedule.  The crazy thing about my meeting her was that initially I really wanted to have a friend nearby.  I was so excited to meet her and be her friend.  However, the more that I learned about the way she ran her household, the more I started to do comparisons and made myself feel like I wasn't good enough.  We would get together for playdates and her kids would eat the organic snacks that she had packed, all the while my kids were eating Pop Tarts.  I found myself eventually withdrawing from that friendship because I didn't feel like I was as good as her.

Fast forward to my first year in MOPS.

Initially I was so excited to be part of this group.  I longed and desired for friendships from other moms - women who understood what it was like to walk this journey.  It didn't take long, though, for that old comparison monster to creep up and completely destroy my first year of MOPS.  I decided that I couldn't be friends with one woman because she was far too beautiful - she had it all together and both she and her kids were always dressed to the nines.  I couldn't be friends with another woman because she was the perfect mom - just like all of those mommy bloggers I read about.  Another woman was friends with my organic living neighbor, so she must not want to be friends with someone who feeds her kids Pop Tarts and candy bars.

The list went on and on.  I found myself so lonely in that first year of MOPS, coming with the expectation to meet friends and find relationships, yet allowing the comparison monster to control my thoughts so deeply that I kept myself distanced from ever knowing these women on a deeper level.

It took another year in MOPS and having a baby of my own for me to really allow myself a little bit of grace.  It took having these women tell me that it's not easy and to give myself a break.  It took God radically changing my heart for me to move forward and away from the comparison monster.

Now, one of my best friends is that woman who dresses to kill.  I completely love the woman who is friends with my neighbor.  The mom who seemed to have it all together - she and I are getting closer in our friendship.  The irony of becoming friends with these women was that many of them admitted to feeling the same way about me.  I was completely blown away.  Here I thought I was not good enough, I thought that I wasn't as good at being a mom as any of them - and some of them admitted to feeling like they didn't measure up to me.

Why do we play this awful comparison game?  God didn't create me to be like you - nor did He create you to be like me!  We all have our own attributes and abilities that make us who we are.  It has taken such a long time for me to really grasp this concept, but I finally am to a place where I really own who I am.  I am high maintenance, though rarely ever late.  I love the days when I can wear my sweats all day long.  I am trying to become a runner, though I don't yet enjoy it.  I love to have people over to my house and will welcome you with open arms, but don't judge me that I need to vacuum my floors.  In fact, don't bother taking your shoes off - it's probably safer that way!  I am not good at crafts and rarely ever attempt them.  I am learning to be a good (step)mom, but am thankful each and every day that God offers me grace when I fail.  I love coffee dates with girlfriends.  I am confident in the woman that God has created me to be and I pray that my confidence doesn't ever scare anybody away from wanting to be my friend.

Me (far right) with my dear friends Susan, Amy and Allison before the 10k we ran together.

I am simply me - and I rock at being me!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Monday - A Guest Blogger!

Good morning and Happy Monday to you all!  Today I am very excited to announce that I have a guest blogger here on My Beautiful Day!  My guest is my oldest brother, Jeremy.  He is an amazing brother, a husband and father to four beautiful kids (the last of whom is not yet two weeks old!), among other things.  He also is the one person who harasses me constantly that I'm not good at keeping up with writing on my blog - and every time he says this to me, I always tell him that he's welcome to do a guest post and that way my blog will have new content.  Well, this time he took me up on it!  What he wrote is something he posted on his Facebook page and told met hat I could use it for his guest post.  I love what it says and appreciate any positive feedback you might have for him.  Even if you aren't in agreement of what he says, at least be positive with your response.

So, without further ado, here is my big brother!

Minnesota Marriage Amendment

As the days to voting get closer the more I hear and see people putting there opinion of why they are voting yes, or no on the Marriage Amendment. I have had discussions on this issue with people. And when asked why I am voting yes for the Amendment I tell them that that is the way God intended it. And for some people they understand. Others want more of and explanation. I would tell them the Scripture 
Genesis 2:24
New International Version (NIV)

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.


And say there is one scripture with two examples. 

Example 1: Father and Mother.

Example 2: Man united with his Wife.

Still for some this is not enough. And I never had more than scripture and saying that it the way God intended it. For some still not enough.

I prayed for a better answer. I got the answer a couple weeks ago and will share it with you all. It is a story from my baseball playing days. I will relate it to the issue at hand, the Marriage Amendment after the story and why I still plan to vote yes.


I was 17 years old playing American Legion Baseball in my home town of Perham. This day we were playing New York Mills. Two towns just 10 miles apart. Now this game was like any other with two teams and two umpires. One ump for the bases and one in the “box” behind home plate. The thing that made this game different for me was the umpire behind the plate calling balls and strikes was my Father. And his home town that he grew up in was New York Mills the team we were playing. Most players on both teams and most fans in the stands knew the ump was my Father. I came up to bat for the first time and as I walk to the plate I can hear the fans for the visiting team start to say, “Oh the ump is going to favor the batter. It is his son. This is not fair.” With that the ump takes out his brush and cleans home plate just as I am digging in the batters box. Once he is done he looks up at me and says, “You better be swinging boy.” To which I reply, “If it is a strike blue I will swing.” (Blue is the nickname for ump most players call him that).


Well the ump says, “Play ball.” And I get ready for the first pitch. As it comes to the plate I think it is just too far out side and let it go. The catcher catches the ball and I hear the ump say, “STRIKE ONE!” My head instantly turns straight back and looks at the ump, my Father, with confusion and I shake my head in disbelief. The second pitch now come and it is even further outside of the strike zone and I let it go. To which the ump says, “TWO!!” This now means I have two strikes against me. I step out of the batters box and look at the ump my father and shake my head in even more disbelief. After roughly 20 seconds I step back in to the box and get ready for the next pitch. As it comes I remember it being so far out of the strike zone in my mind that if I swung at it I would not have been able to put my bat on it. Then hear the umpire say,” STRIKE THREE YOUR OUT!!” Right there I wanted to argue with the umpire. I wanted to get right in his face and yell at him and tell him how he was wrong. But I stopped. Because I know that there has never been an umpire that has changed his mind on a strike call once he made the call. And arguing my point was not going to change the fact that I just struck out on what I though were three balls for pitches. The Ump called them strikes. That made them strikes. It did not matter that I thought they were balls.


Now you might be saying how does this story relate to the Marriage Amendment? Let me show you.


Let us put you in this game. But the game is not a baseball game. It is the game of life. There is an Umpire in this game of life. He is Jesus Christ. He is not calling balls and strike but truths and lies. The batters box at this particular time of the game of life will be the voting booth. In which the pitch thrown to you will be the Marriage Amendment. But the best part about this game is that even before the pitch is thrown to you the Umpire, Jesus Christ, is telling you to vote yes. He is saying, “I created man in my own image and created woman to be his wife.” And any argument or disagreement you try to have to change his mind on that call of the game will not change it. Cause it is the Truth. He said so. And when your time comes to be judged by the Umpire in the game of life, Jesus Christ, don’t let your no vote on the Marriage Amendment be a replay that he asks you why did you vote no when I told you in the Bible that Marriage is between a man and a women. Because any explanation you give to him still will not change his mind on the call. 


I hope this helps anyone who believes in Jesus to vote yes for the Marriage amendment.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Working Out" Is My Four-Letter-Word

Can I be honest about something?  Before I ever had a baby, I had that mentality.  You know the one; it occurs when you look at a woman with children and wonder why she hasn't yet lost her baby weight.  The one where you assume it's because she's too lazy to work out and has no self-control over what she eats.

If it were possible to kick my own butt for ever thinking that way, I certainly would!

Now, almost two full years after having Ethan, I can't help but resent how much of a struggle it really can be to lose that weight.  I know that I've come pretty far from where I was, and I know that I do look good (no arrogance here *wink, wink*), but I also know that I would feel so much better about myself if I were to lose those last 10 pounds.

While I know that I will likely never be my size 0/1 little self again ...

~ I won't lie - I miss being this little! ~

... would it be okay to be a size four ... without the muffin top?!

So I have begun the battle.  While I already have been doing lap swimming in the mornings, I have found that it's just not enough.  My metabolism goes up and then plummets down during the day when all I do is swim at 5:10am.  I have tried doing Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred.  This has worked for me in the past when it came to really losing that initial baby weight (you know, the weight that was supposed to come off when I was breastfeeding ... then breastfeeding didn't go so well for my babe and I had to stop by the time he was only two months old).  It just doesn't seem to help truly tone and lose the remaining weight.

What now?  Well, I once again have joined a local gym.  But this time, I'm truly very committed to making it work.  I have a goal in mind and a date by which I want to achieve it.  I have met with a personal trainer (compliments of the gym that I joined!) and laid out a workout plan.  I am striving toward truly building and toning muscle, while hopefully shedding the remaining flab.

Now, the biggest struggle for me is convincing myself to GO to the gym.  It's getting going in the morning and getting my butt there.  It does help that I have a group of girlfriends who go there a few times a week - I am trying to line up my schedule so I can be there when they are and I can be faithful to going.  I so desperately want the end result, and I still have to convince myself every day that the daily work and the struggle to get myself to do it is completely worth it.

It's true.  "Working Out" really is my four-letter-word.  This time, I am determined to conquer it!

Now just to convince my body to stop craving junk food ... :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Faithful

I'm surprised at how often God continually amazes me.  I know that sometimes I should expect that He will, but I am still blown away by Him ALL. THE. TIME.

It's no secret (at least not on here) that I have felt distant from God.  My life has been incredibly hectic and I have felt a lot of self-pity in the fact that there wasn't quiet time.  My prayer recently has been that God would show me where there is quiet time in my life and that I would learn to fill it with Him.

He has been so faithful.

My life is filled with quiet moments.  Yes, they are just that - moments.  But they are moments that I so desperately need to keep my cup filling up.  It might be the five minutes I have while Ethan is splashing in the bathtub and I am sitting on the floor keeping my watchful eye on him.  It might be the sweetness of tucking Colin into bed at night and having him want me to crawl in and snuggle with him in that tiny twin bed.  It might be through loving my children that I discover God's ultimate love for me.

It might be through allowing Ethan to say our mealtime prayer last night, which went something like this:
"Father ... thank you ... food ... bless ... bodies ... (mumbling something I don't understand) .. day .. jeeus name ... AMEN!"

And you know what?  We let that be our prayer.  He has the sweetest heart, and he may not fully understand what he's saying or the fact that he's saying it to God, but it showed me just how much we can teach our children by the way we are living out our own life.

So I'm choosing to be thankful, and in that thankfulness, I am seeing more of Him everyday.

As I draw closer to God, He is faithful and, as He promised, He is drawing closer to me.

And I love it!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

If I Could Go Back ...

I've spent a lot of time in reflection this past week.  Now that my four big kids are back in school and it's just Ethan and me at home, there's a lot of extra time to reflect!  This has been an amazing week.  God has spoken some true revelations into my heart and has met me where I am.  I am so thankful for where I am in life and I truly wouldn't trade this spot for anything ...

... with the exception of one thing.

About three years ago, a very good friend and I had a falling out.  I'm not talking a small deal, either, I'm talking an I-can't-believe-you-said-the-things-that-you-said-and-we-should-never-talk-again kind of falling out.  The hardest part of this for me has been the fact that, as the years have passed and she hasn't been part of my life, the hole in my heart where she used to be keeps getting larger.  She had been my BFF (that's "best friend forever" for those of you who don't understand pre-teen acronyms!) since fourth grade.  Fourth Grade!!!  A huge part of our falling out was my fault.  See, I said a lot of extremely judgemental things in an email to her.  Things that I should have never said - or thought, for that matter.  Those things were the straw concrete block that broke the camel's back.

Through the years, I haven't always been the best friend I could be to her.  In fact, when I look back, I realize that I really was a very selfish friend.  I used her as a sounding board to air out my problems, but I never gave her the chance to talk about her life, too.  I realize now that I was afraid to hear about her life.  I was afraid because I was jealous.  Jealous of her family and their wholeness.  Jealous of the fact that she went to college and was doing what I likely should have done.  Jealous that she seemed to always have it all together.

It's amazing to me that our friendship even lasted through those years.  If I were in her shoes, I likely would've walked away from me a long time ago.

However, through this past week of reflection and quiet time with God, I began to realize just how much I have missed out on by not having her in my life.  I miss the connection of a phone call just to catch up (she lived across the country, so phone calls were usually our only option).  I miss emailing her just to see how she's doing.  I miss hearing stories of her sweet little boy (or her ever-expanding family, as word-of-mouth has informed me that she's expecting her third baby soon!).  I hate that she has never met Ethan or that my one and only chance to ever be pregnant and birth a child wasn't shared with her.

I simply flat-out miss her.

If there were something that I could do or say to bridge this expansive canyon of a gap between us, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I wish she could know just how much I miss her and how truly sorry I am for not being the friend I should have been.  More than anything, I wish she understood how badly I want to reconcile this fight and be her friend again.

If I could go back and change the things I said and did, I would do it.  But since I can't go back, I can only move forward and hope and pray that somehow our friendship will be restored.  This is my true heart's desire.

Picture courtesy of Google Images

Lord .... You know my heart.  You know how strongly I wish that I could go back and fix the wrongs I've done.  But I can't.  Now all I can do is ask for forgiveness.  Forgiveness from you and forgiveness from this friend.  Please let her somehow see my heart, let her know how deeply she is missed, and please, please, please bridge the gap in our friendship.  I don't want to have to miss her anymore.  I want her to be part of my life.  Please, Lord.  Please.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lost and Wandering

Have you ever been in a position where something in your life is just 'off', or even wrong, and you want so desperately to fix it but yet you can't seem to move your foot to take that first step?

Or is that just me?!

I haven't updated my blog in ages.  Part of that is because I really have been busy, part is because I haven't had the motivation to do so, and part of it is because I've been afraid to be truly transparent with you.  You see, right now in my life I am struggling.  I am fighting an internal battle that I don't fully understand, which makes it difficult to express and explain to all of you.

My heart and my soul are screaming, desiring, begging me to indulge in a deeper relationship with my Creator.  Longing to go back to the woman I once was.  The woman who first sought after God, and everything else fell into place surrounding that.

The problem and the very thing stopping me from getting there is me.  Me and every factor living under the roof of my home.  There is always so much going on that it is so easy for me to make excuses.  We have sports all year long.  The kids have different school things going on.  We had friends over for dinner and they stayed late, so I just have to sleep in.  I just flat out don't feel like going to church.  Monte had a really busy day at work and it would be best if he could just relax at home.

In my head, it takes a lot of effort to get to church.  Ethan has separation anxiety, so dropping him off at the childcare is sometimes difficult - even when I know that his crying stops within just a few minutes and he does just fine without me.  In fact, I know that he plays and has fun while he's in childcare!  It's just those moments of tears when I drop him off and when I pick him up that make it hard.  Or maybe they don't make it hard at all, but maybe they just create an excuse for me.

I want to be the woman that I know I was five years ago.  I want to be the woman who puts her relationship with God before anything else.  The person I am right now - the mom who's patience wears thin and she snaps at her kids, the wife who is less understanding and loving that she sometimes should be, the one who yells - this isn't me.  This isn't my heart.

When I am at church I am me.  When I can open my heart and lay it at the throne of God - I am me.  I want the church-Kami to be the every-day-life-Kami.

Lord, I need you.  I am empty and dry.  Please fill my heart and soul to overflowing with You.  Please help me to make You a priority in my life.  I need You.  I so very desperately need You.  Help me to be the woman that You have called me to be.


  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Peek Into My Home: The Kitchen

A few weeks ago I wrote this post in which I shared that we had recently remodeled our kitchen.  I was feeling a bit hesitant in posting about it due to some negative feedback I had received from a random reader when posting about our home addition a couple of years ago.  After I had written the post a few weeks ago, however, I received so much wonderful feedback from you that I decided to go ahead and open the window of my blog up and share our renovation.

In keeping up with something that I started WAY too long ago and haven't kept up with it at ALL, I am including this as part of my "A Peek Into My Home"series.

I do have to give a few shout-outs to the people who helped Monte and me make this renovation a possibility!  A big thank-you to Stacy Klone from KitchenWerks for helping us to look at our space and figure out what would be best for the functionality of our home and for introducing us to the people who helped make it all a reality!!  We are so thankful to have been able to work with you and are absolutely thrilled with the final product!  One of the people Stacy introduced us to is Perry Charpentier from PJ's Home Improvement.  Perry did our cabinetry - building our new pantry, new cabinets and drawers, and my amazing spice rack in the kitchen.  I can't say enough good things about his work - Perry is an amazing craftsman and I will happily have him back if any further projects come up.  I am so completely thrilled with his work!  Finally, a big thank-you to Jayne Morrison from Jayne Morrison Interiors who helped us choose out our beautiful Cambria quartz counter tops, our new kitchen sink and our faucet.  Jayne is definitely gifted and we are happy to have been able to work with her!

So, without further adieu, here is our new (and incredibly awesome) kitchen!

This is the view of the kitchen when you're entering from the office/back hallway.

Here you will notice that our island is no longer two-heights (where previously, the back of it was bar-height to accommodate eating).  We removed the higher portion, expanded the cabinets beneath the counter to 24" and put one solid counter top on it.  Best. Idea. EVER.

This is our new built-in made by Perry.  I can't stress enough how phenomenal he is at what he does.  This piece is completely beautiful - and I must admit, I just LOVE having all the extra storage in the kitchen (instead of having my pantry in our basement like it previously was).

My camera lens isn't wide enough to capture this entire cabinet without moving the kitchen table, but the cabinet is so beautiful that I had to make sure you have the chance to see it all!

I can't help but stare at it ... it's just that beautiful! :)

This is our new kitchen table.  I have always wanted a round table, and with the expanded island and the new built-in pantry, we no longer had room for our rectangular table. So, we sold that table and purchased this one and I do not regret it for one moment.  This is such a fantastic piece of furniture!

Here you will notice the four drawers on the lower cabinets (they used to be cabinet doors with pull-out drawers inside of them - Perry made new drawers for us which has turned out to be SO much more convenient).  We also put in new quartz counter tops from Cambria.  I absolutely love them!  You will also notice the beautiful backsplash which my husband and our awesome friend, Chris, tiled together.  The backsplash was the last thing that we did in the kitchen and it brought the entire renovation to completion for me!

A glance into our kitchen from the lake-side living room.  I would have put the dishes away before taking this picture, but I figure that the fact that I have five kids means my kitchen is hardly ever this clean anyway, so why give you a fake image of us?!?! :)

Our island was moved six inches into the dining room and the back cabinets on it were expanded to 24 inches.  The counter top was made level and new counters were installed.

Isn't that backsplash just beautiful?!  Thank you honey and thank you Chris for all of your hard work!

This is our new faucet.  I never thought that choosing out a faucet would be a big deal, but evidently it really is!  We love this and are SO happy with our selection.

Don't you love the spice racks that Perry made and installed in our cabinet?  They make me so much more organized - even though this cabinet looks kind of insane!

That, my friends, is my new kitchen.  Please let me know when you're ready to come over and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with me - I'm ready to host! :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Surviving the Summer Beautifully Requires Venus Embrace

Today, my daughter is interviewing me about Summer Beauty Tips! Enjoy!


For more tips on staying beautiful all summer long, visit Getting Ready with Kendall and Kylie Jenner and the Venus page.

For a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card, answer this question in comments: "What's the best beauty tip you have shared with your daughter to prepare her for the summer or share your funniest beauty mishap!”
Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/26 - 8/23.
Be sure to visit the Venus brand feature page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
Have you checked out the Life Well Lived section of BlogHer.com? There are some great tips and expert posts on everything from Looking Your Best to Getting Happy and Getting Organized!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five Question Friday

It has been SO long since I've participated in Five Question Friday, but since I'm hoping to be posting more regularly, I figured this is a good way to keep me going!  As you likely know, FQF is usually hosted by Mama M, but since she's enjoying some time away right now, you can hop over to Kate's blog and join the party there!

1. What do you call them- flip flops, sandals, thongs, or slippers?

Flip Flops.
Picture courtesy of Google Images.

I love Flip Flops!  No question about it. In fact, it drives me crazy when people (especially my mom, bless her heart!) refers to them as thongs.  In my mind, thongs are underwear, not something you wear on your feet!  Sandals are usually bigger, often involving straps that go around your feet or ankles.  Slippers are soft and fuzzy and are worn around the house.

2. Are you a "my kids can do no wrong" kind of mom or a "Johnny punched you? Well what did you do to him first?!" kind of mom? 

Definitely the "what did you do to him first?" mom!  I have learned (especially with Colin) that my kids come to me with only the part of the story involving what the other person did wrong.  You would think, by now, that Colin would have figured out that I will ask him about his part in the story - and usually end up finding out that he started the punching/kicking/name calling.  But I guess he just likes to have to have that part of the story dragged out of him!!  ;)

Nope, I never consider them innocent until proven guilty.  Well, almost never!

3. Would you confront a good friend that looked/looks down on your husband/significant other?

I absolutely would.  My husband is my best friend.  He is the most amazing man I know and I have never loved anybody as fiercely and intimately as I love him.  If there was a reason that someone close to me was looking down on him, I would definitely confront it.  I can't imagine having a close friend not get along with my husband, and if there was any sort of an issue, I would want to resolve it immediately.  If it weren't able to be resolved, I would likely have to consider the importance of that friendship in my life.  I mean, come on, look how great he is ...


Thankfully, to my knowledge, I don't have that issue to deal with! :)


4. Biggest pet peeve?


Noises.  Random white noise drives me crazy.  On top of that list is the sound of people eating.  Chewing.  Smacking their lips.  Swallowing.  Eww.  I can't handle it.  Top that off with the fact that any noise starts to annoy me after awhile (including music!) and you find a woman (me) who is working very hard to allow God to increase her patience!!  In a home with five kids, noise is inevitable!


5. What's your favorite take out meal?


Pizza Hut.  It's been my favorite for a LONG time.  Unfortunately, there is not a Pizza Hut anywhere near me.  If I'm ordering take-out from my home, my first choice would have to be Scotty B's Restaurant - SO yummy!!  I love eating in there, too, because the staff are so friendly and the clean-up is WAY easier (because I don't have to do it)!! :)



Friday, July 13, 2012

Seriously Healthy Eating

There's this guy I know who I really want to introduce to you.  I've known him for probably five or six years now.  His name is Ryan and he's loads of fun!

Ryan (on the left) with our friends Tony and Pete.

I met him and his fantastic wife when I dated her brother (for the record, while I was dating him I used to always say that, if it didn't work out and I was dating him just to be introduced to his amazing family, then it was worth it.  That statement holds true to this day!).

Katie and Ryan

He works in Youth Ministry - I actually worked with him for just over a year and would have continued to do so, but then I fell in love, got married and moved too far away to continue to work with that specific group.

 Our group of leaders at Castaway Club (a camp).  I am the blonde in the center - Ryan is directly above me.

Ryan preaching at Bethel College.

One of my favorite things about Ryan is the fact that he's pretty dedicated to healthy eating.  When I say pretty dedicated, I actually mean really-stinking-incredibly dedicated.  With the exception of Chipotle.  We still can't agree on that place (he likes it, I loathe it).

Regardless of our differences, I still think he's a great guy! :)  He recently started a blog all about food and healthy eating - and it is amazing!  Do yourself a favor and get to know this fantastic guy through his new blog - The Menu According to Ryan Braley - and get a few great recipe and food ideas along the way.  Make sure to become a follower of his blog, too, and give yourself a chance to get to know this awesome personality ...


You won't regret it ... I promise!!  :)


** All images, with the exception of the first, stolen directly from Ryan's Facebook page without his prior consent.  :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

To Share or Not To Share

Yesterday was an amazingly productive day.  Colin and I went to Costco and Toys 'R' Us (he earned a reward, and his choice was a little Star Wars Lego set).  Monte and our friend Chris tiled our backsplash in the kitchen.  I took all of the kids swimming at the park near our home.  We had a fun dinner on the patio and Monte and I spent the evening (after the little kids were in bed) playing Texas Hold 'em while sitting at our new kitchen table and admiring the new backsplash.  It was an awesome day.

As Monte and I sat playing poker, he asked me if I would be blogging about the backsplash - putting up pictures of our kitchen remodel, now almost fully complete.  My answer: I really don't know.  You see, while I do fully understand that this is my blog and that I am fully able to talk about whatever I so choose, I am still hesitant to mention it.  The reason?  Well, a couple of years ago when Monte and I decided to put an addition on our home, I chose to blog about it.  I wrote many posts like this one here that detailed where we were in the renovation process.  I loved writing about it and sharing this exciting time in our lives with you!  Until the day that someone decided to comment and tell me, in just a few cutting and painful words, that we were spending our money unwisely and that it wasn't okay, in this economy, to be putting an addition on our home.

It hurt.  In fact, it hurt a lot.

I even went on to explain myself, to say that Monte and I weren't spending money foolishly; that we had planned and prepared for it and already had the money set aside.  I explained that we still had money to fund our lives, money for the kids' savings accounts, money for bills, etc. etc.  I don't know why I felt the need to explain myself, but I did.  The catch: that same person came back with another rude comment.  I don't remember what it was about, and I'm not about to go back through my comments to rehash that one, because even reading it to this day still brings a little ping of pain inside me.  Leave it at enough to say that it hurt.

So, with that being my past experience, you can understand my hesitancy and why I have chosen to be a little more hush-hush regarding this current renovation.  Monte and I have not been foolish with our money - we knew exactly how much we had to spend on this and made it happen within those means.  However, the possibility of someone telling me how to spend my money and how to live my life keeps me from sharing.

Maybe I will find the boldness in me to share those pictures soon.  Not yet, but maybe sometime soon!  In the meantime, I will leave you with this incredibly cute picture of Ellis showing off his souvenir from Wall Drug in Wall, SD.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the Kitchen: Baked Smokin' Mac & Cheese

One of my favorite things about summer is the fact that we have so many birthdays to celebrate!  June is Ellis's, July is Monte's and August is Iain's (among other cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, too!).  When a birthday comes around, the birthday king/queen gets to decide what we have for dinner that night as well as what kind of cake they like.

It never fails that Iain requests the same dinner each year, as it's one that has been a favorite of my kids' since the first time I made it.  We have made this dinner for friends, we make it when people have babies/surgeries or just need some help - it's delicious for parents and kids alike!  Since we love it so much, I decided it was time to share it with all of you.



Recipe courtesy of the "Southern Living at Home" Magazine, January 2011 issue.


Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 8 total servings.
Hands on time: 25 minutes - Total time: 1 hour

1 lb. uncooked cellentani (corkscrew) pasta  [we use Cavatappi]
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
3 C. fat-free milk
1 (12-oz.) can fat-free evaporated milk
1 C. shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 c. shredded 1.5% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
3 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, divided
1 (8-oz.) package chopped smoked ham
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/4 C. Cornflakes cereal, crushed
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

[Side note by me: I have found it necessary to prepare all of the ingredients before you start making this dish, as the timing of it all requires you to be able to just grab it for use].





1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Whisk in Gouda cheese, next 3 ingredients, and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper until smooth.  Remove from heat, and stir in ham and pasta.

3. Pour pasta mixture into a 13-x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Stir together crushed cereal, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, and remaining 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper; sprinkle over pasta mixture.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Then serve to the masses!  Please don't tell Monte that I put a picture of him in this pink shirt on my blog - it's a painting shirt and he doesn't wear it away from the house.  It just might embarrass him to know it went viral! :)

My only change to this recipe is that I use red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper, and I put it on each individual serving as requested since some of my kids can't handle that spice!



Stay tuned for a future "In the Kitchen" featuring Iain's favorite birthday cake! 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What We've Been Up To

It's no secret that we've been gone from the blogging world for awhile now.  Life just gets to be too busy to keep up, especially during the summer!  So, instead of trying to catch you up on everything I've missed telling, I'm going to sum it all up in pictures and minimal words ...

We cleaned out some of our cabinets to prepare for our kitchen upgrade ...

 Ethan has had some fits ...

 I planted our vegetable garden ...

Ethan played with sidewalk chalk and got it all over his face ...

We've taken baths ...

 Ethan has run around the house in just his diaper (and LOVED it) ...

 Ellis has played soccer (and has done amazingly great this season) ...

Colin graduated from Kindergarten and refused to smile for the camera ...

We took a family (minus Ethan) vacation ...

We visited Wall Drug in South Dakota and posed for pictures with fake cowboys ...

We hiked through the Black Hills ...

We visited Mount Rushmore ...

We had new counter tops installed in our kitchen (more on that to come) ...

... and much, MUCH more.  We have been very busy in the start of summer and are continually on the run.  So, I do apologize for the lack of blogging, but we are really living life right now!


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