Wednesday, October 24, 2012

To Hug or Not To Hug?.. That's The Question.


hug

verb, hugged, hug·ging, noun

1. to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection;embrace.
2. to cling firmly or fondly to; cherish


It's so nice of the dictionary to give a "simple" definition of a hug, but let's be real... Going in for a hug is neither simple nor easy. There are emotions flying, thoughts bouncing around in your head, all while physically making the motion to go in for the kill or back away from the situation. It can be a very intense moment. So let's navigate together to try and find answers to one of life's greatest questions: Should I hug?


When to Hug...

There are SO many scenarios when it comes to hugging and on when/when not to. Here are some basic guidelines:
  • In The Workplace- Avoid any possibility of being inappropriate and stick to shaking hands, ESPECIALLY with the opposite sex. 
  • First Date- Just hug it out. Even if you weren't into him/her, they still have feelings and shaking hands is a pretty rude awakening at the end of a date. If you don't want to give the wrong impression or don't feel comfortable with the full frontal hug, go with the Side Hug (see below). Otherwise, a hug can help establish some sort of relationship, even if platonic.
  • First Time Meeting in a Social Scene- Again, hug it out. The quicker you get the "first hug" out of the way, the easier it'll be when you see those individuals again. It'll also help break the ice or help change any bad first impressions you may have given off. 
  •  "Old" Friend or Acquaintance- This is when it starts to get sticky. If you've had a friend or an acquaintance for awhile, but have never established that level of "hugging," it may be awkward the first time you do it. But once you build up the courage, just go for it and don't look back.

Going In For the Hug...

Although you may be ready to hug, the other person may not. Here are a few tactics to help with that predicament:
  • As you go in for the hug, prepare the other person verbally by saying, "I'm a hugger." That eliminates any element of surprise.
  • Go so extremely awkward up front that the issue of a "hug" is irrelevant. For instance, at the end of my first date with a guy he said, "Welp..." and stretched out as arms as far as he could with a look on his face as if to say, "Are you gonna hug me or not?" Needless to say, we were married a year later.  (Note: Wouldn't recommend this unless you are the type of person who can "get away with it.")
  • If you are more of the "rico suave" type or have the confidence of Angelina Jolie, you probably are convinced that everyone wants to hug you so there shouldn't be a problem.

Types Of Hugs..

Going in for the hug is half the battle. The "type" can be a deal breaker.
  • Side Hug- This is a safe bet for the potentially awkward hugs:
    • Tall Individual vs. Short Individual 
    • Male- Female acquaintances and nothing more (usually both married)
    • Age Gap of 10 + years and non-related
    • I have no idea why you put your arms out to hug me, so I'll give you one of mine
  • Barbarian Hug- These hugs take the definition of a hug to the extreme. You are squeezed so tight that it no longer feels good, but starts to hurt the bones in your arms. You may come out of it with a few bruises, but you can leave with a happy heart.
  • Don't Touch Me Hug ("DTM Hug")- To achieve this hug, stick your butt out and make sure no other body part other than your hand and maybe some forearm touch the other person 

  • The Pat- Oh the pat... How I loathe thee... This just adds another element of confusion. Do they not really want to hug me? Are they thinking "good girl" as they pat me as if I were their pet? Are my shoulders just THAT big that I can't really be embraced and a "pat" is as much as they can do? ...  ::sigh:: ... What I failed to mention earlier in the awkward exchange between my husband and I on our first date was that when we finally got to the hug, he patted me. Moral of the story: Even if you are patted the first time, there is still hope for future hugs.
  • The WTH Hug-  This is the DTM Hug + The Pat. Basically, you cannot stand touching the person with anything but your hands and even with that, you are constantly breaking body contact by patting. Not sure why you are hugging in the first place if you do this, but to each his own..
  • The Balanced Hug ("Bear Hug")There are individuals out there who are known for their hugs. They usually have the perfect combination of body contact and heart.  Just enough to make you feel loved, but not leave you physically hurting afterwards. 
  • Hug with Flair- Once you achieve the Bear Hug, don't be afraid to add a little somethin' somethin'. These can help people feel that much more special and/or can serve as a cue for "I'm done hugging now, please let go":
    • A quick rub on the back 
    • A quick even tighter squeeze
    • A... moan? Was really trying to think of another word to use because this can REALLY be taken the wrong way... Not a moan as in grumbling or that of a "physically excited nature," but more of an "Awww..." without opening your mouth. You get the idea.

The Hug. It can be the source of the greatest feeling... or... it can create one of the most awkward moments of your life. Either way, just go for it! Just keep it mind these rules:

  • Once you've hugged, never go back. A hug establishes how you'll conclude your visits with one another. Otherwise, the two of you will always be confused on whether you're going to hug or not. COMMIT. 
  • Wear deodorant. 'Nuff said.
  • When in a small group, if you hug one, hug all. Don't hug six out of seven people. That's just weird.
  • If it becomes awkward, make a joke of it. If you walk away feeling like a fool, you'll never want to see that person again. Laugh at yourself before anyone else can. Life is a little easier that way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Few Truths About Having Children

Having children has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Each child brings that much more joy and laughter to my world.... no lie.

That being said... Let's be real... They are no angels and often come with some... oh... "extra" qualities.

Let's just take a gander into what life is REALLY like with babies and toddlers...

  • There is not a day that goes by that you don't have to run the dishwasher at least once. Depending on the meals, it may happen a couple times a day. Point is- the dishes never end. (Same goes with laundry).
  • Meals are usually... less than perfect. Sometimes you don't even really enjoy or get to taste your own food because you are focused on getting Child A to eat his/her food, Child B to stop standing in his/her chair and wondering why Child C came up to you out of nowhere with his/her underwear in hand saying he/she needs help putting them on.
  • Moments you thought were "cute" with the first child end up being "not so cute" with each consecutive child (ie. standing up and playing in the crib during nap time, spitting out food while making new noises, mocking you with the sound "nuh uh uh uh" as if getting in trouble, etc)
  • You will inevitably end up with some sort of bodily fluid (or solid.....) on your fingers. It's unavoidable. Just sayin.. If you are weird about that stuff, you'll learn to get over it quickly.
  • If the children are awake, silence is not golden. Silence means trouble. 
  • The floors are never clean. It doesn't matter how many times you vacuum or mop, they'll end up getting dirty within 20 minutes. 
  •  It's always exciting buying new clothes for the baby the first few months... Then you realize that you are ALWAYS buying clothes because they never stop growing. 
  • Children are animals when it comes to eating. No matter what age, male or female. They will consume food like nobody's business. 
  • You think something like preschool will help "break up" your day and possibly give you some time to get housework done... Nope. They're in-class activities or field trips cause you to leave the house more than before.
  • They will do and say things that blindside you in the midst of disciplining them that leave you with no choice, but to just stop talking or burst into laughter. (Unfortunately, I've been known to laugh when I shouldn't ANYWAYS, so the disciplining thing may or may not be my hardest challenge.)
  • Apparently it's not in children's "nature" to encourage one another to do the right thing in a graceful manner. Either they join in or tattle. Weird.

Oh life. Unfortunately, none of these were fabricated and a number of them probably already happened in my home today... 

But it's moments and faces like these that make you just smile and understand why it's all worth it:








Sunday, August 26, 2012

Top 10 Marriage Tips

In honor of our anniversary week, I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of the best marital advice that we've been given or discovered for ourselves over the years.



WARNING: The following tips have not been censored or "sugar-coated" to make the reader feel "comfortable."


1. Sleep naked

2. Pray together

3. Find time to date- especially if you have children

4. Never let a day go by without exchanging a kiss and an "I love you"

5. Fight naked

6. Focus on fixing YOUR flaws, not your spouses

7. Have sex daily

8. Try new things together

9. Ladies: Let him watch his ESPN. In fact, watch it with him

10: Gentlemen: Just tell her. Whether you're thinking that you love her laugh or that she looks hot in those jeans, let her know. She needs it.


Here's the deal. I could make a list of 100 things; not because we're perfect, but because we're human. We've had the most amazing moments together, but we've also had the worst. The best thing you can do is not look at the damage caused from the hard times, but how you can grow from those situations and make yourself a better spouse.

And to tackle the big elephant in the room... Yes. There is a theme of being naked. Why? Because you can't "hide" behind anything. You are completely vulnerable and transparent. Again, these aren't things to make you feel comfortable, but to bring you closer together. I'm just telling you, the hardest thing to do is strip down and be completely naked when you are pissed off. Not because taking off your clothes is a hard task, but because you will no longer feel "protected" and "defended." It really puts a damper on "fight mode." 
Let me put it this way... 
How can you be "one" with him/her if you can't stand before them completely exposed and in a state of humility?


P.S. If you're looking for a good book on marriage, there's this one called the Bible. Pretty good stuff. Just sayin.. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Living with Morning Sickness

There is no denying it. Aside from fatigue, morning sickness (or 24/7 sickness in my case) is the worst part of pregnancy. I unfortunately have had it now with all four pregnancies. With my first pregnancy, it lasted for 7 months. With the middle two, it was gone after the first trimester. I'm reaching the end of my first trimester with this pregnancy and am praying it will go away, but we shall see!!!! So, needless to say, I have tried almost every remedy out there. Some have worked, some haven't, and I've found some of my own. Hope some of these help y'all!!!!


1. Snacks- I have tried everything in the book from plain saltines to fruits. But I always find myself snacking on crackers. My two favorites are the Mini Multi-Grain Club crackers and good ol' Goldfish. I read you should keep them by your bed so if you wake up in the night you can eat a few to keep something on your stomach so it isn't as severe in the morning. I tried that a couple of times and didn't really see a difference. Maybe you would?






2. Hard Candy- It has really helped me maintain my nausea by having hard candy handy. Anything from peppermints to Jolly Ranchers work, but my favorites are the Preggie Pop Drops & Country Lemonade Hard Candies (which I've only seen at Costco). Between these two, card rides are a LOT easier!


3. Breakfast- In my experience with morning sickness, it hasn't just been the morning, it is all day, but the mornings have been the worst! You know that you need to eat something, but nothing sounds good. The breakfast options I've turned to are toast with cinnamon sugar & light butter, oatmeal, and the best.. Maple & Brown Sugar Malt-O-Meal with a little bit of half-and-half and honey. Not sure why, but this is the one thing I can count on staying down. 



4. Drinks- The golden rule of pregnancy is to drink more water than you've ever consumed. Well, I don't like water. I know, sounds weird, but I have never cared to drink a lot of it.  That makes it really difficult when you don't feel good. So, for those times where I need a little more "flavor," these are my go-to's: Ginger Ale, MetroMint water and Tazo Decaf Chai tea with some honey. The MetroMint water  has been my bestfriend since I don't care for water. It adds just a splash of mint to help soothe my stomach and tastes better than regular water to me! I would say, if you try these, make sure you take a couple of drinks before you judge. It's not the kind of thing you can sip on and love. The only down side is I have only seen them at King Soopers in the refrigerated aisle. 








5. Chicken Noodle Soup- Pretty self explanatory. When nothing sounds good, chicken soup always does the trick. There is just something about that broth... 


If you have severe nausea, don't hesitate to tell your doctor. They do have medicine to help manage the sickness. But don't forget, this is just a season! It stinks, but this too shall pass!!!! 



We're Expecting!

Yes, it's true. We are expecting our fourth child. Next year we will officially have 4 children under the age of 4 for a few months!!! Are we crazy? Crazy excited!!! 



To put any rumors or thoughts to rest, no, this was not unexpected. We hit a point at the beginning of the summer that we both knew we would not have peace if we stopped after Cobi. We always wanted 4 pretty close in age and it just felt "right." So, we "pulled the goalie" and the rest is history. 


We are so ecstatic for this new chapter in our lives. We're no fools- it's not going to be rainbows and daisies all the time. In fact, there may be a season where I completely lose my mind...!!! But we do know that we'd gladly take on those tough times knowing that they are followed by a million smiles, memories and giggles. 


Nothing beats the blessing of a child..



Friday, August 10, 2012

The "Balanced" Meal

My perfect meal is:

  • Cheap- No explanation needed. We have a budget and I need to fit that. 
  • Quick-  I never know when my husband will be home so I have to be able to cook in 30mins once he calls & says he is leaving the office.
  • Healthy-  I'm not a nutritionist so don't count on the "healthy" aspect to be super healthy... Its more of being cognizant of the balance of carbs, veggies, protein, & fruit. I don't count calories, sugars, carbs.. none of that. We really eat based on the "everything in moderation" mentality.
  • Toddler Approved- I don't have just one, but two kiddos I am having to please. They are pretty good eaters & not too picky, but still get weirded out by different textures or new flavors.
  • Delicious- I have had numerous styles & flavors of meals. I wouldn't say I have a "broad palate" for food so it needs to be something I would cook again & eat the leftovers! 
It's hard to find meals that incorporate all of those traits without having to go on a "special eating plan" which I personally don't have any desire to do! So over the last few weeks I started documenting our meals and have picked a few of our favorites that I think cover all the above.


Note: On most of our meals, I will separate the ingredients for the kids. 
They tend to eat it better when it's not all mixed together!!!


GREEK SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pkg Romain Salad
1 lb bef stir-fry strips (can use frozen)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Greek seasoning
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup bottled Greek salad dressing (I use Panera Bread's)

Cut any large pieces of beef into bite-size. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef & Greek seasoning. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. (If using frozen strips, cook according to package directions & add Greek seasoning once cooked to desired doneness)  Divide salad among plates & top with the cucumbers, tomatoes, beef & feta. Drizzle on the dressing. 

Serving Suggestion:  Serve with pita chips & hummus! 







PEPPER & PESTO SKEWERS

Ingredients:

1 3/4 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces dried fettuccine
1/3 cup prepared pesto (I like Classico)
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Thread beef & peppers onto skewers. Brush with 2 Tbsp of the oil. Season with salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium-high heat & cook kabobs, turning frequently until meat is done (7-9 minutes for medium). Remove from grill & coat generously with pesto. Toss drained pasta with Parmesan, remaining oil and the pepper. Serve with kabobs.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with in-season berries!




SUMMER PASTA SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pkg (16 ounces) bow-tie pasta
1 large boneless, skinless, chicken breast.. or 1-2 cups of already cooked diced chicken
1 tsp EVOO
1 cucumber, peeled & diced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can (15 ounces) Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain & rinse with cold water. Dice the chicken breasts & saute in small skillet for 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are no longer pink in the middle. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the chicken, diced cucumbers, cheese, diced tomatoes and dressing.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with watermelon and/or foccacia bread for the kiddos.




TACO RICE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 lb ground round
1 minced garlic clove
3 cups cooked yellow rice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pkg Romain Salad
3 cups of chopped tomato
1 cup of corn (frozen or canned.. I like Green Giant's Canned Mexicorn)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed & drained
1 diced avocado
1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar or Mexican style)

Dressing:

2/3 cup fat-free sour cream
2/3 cup picante sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef and garlic, cook 9 minutes or until browned. Drain; return beef mixture to pan. Stir in rice & next 4 ingredients. Cool slightly. Combine lettuce & next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine. To prepare dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl & stir with whisk. Spoon dressing over lettuce mixture; toss to coat. Place lettuce mixture on plates. Top with rice mixture & cheese.

Serving Suggestion: Light baked tortilla chips, cantaloupe, and/or kiwi.




I LOVE feedback so let me know if you tried these, have some suggestions for meals like these, and/or just your thoughts!!!! Happy Eating! 



Saturday, August 4, 2012

finding peace in the storm.

It's simple. My life right now is like a hurricane. Things are in a constant state of change and uncontrollable, but in the midst of it all is my peace... my constant: God. 

If I'm being honest I haven't always been able to see that peace right away. There have been times where I have been so stretched to the point of falling on my face before God, wondering when I'll see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've been blessed on a couple occasions to see a miraculous change in my circumstances to the point of total peace. But at others, I've had to endure the fire and storms in order for my faith to be refined and/or for me to get to the place where God needed me to be. Is it something I like to go through? My flesh would say "no," but I have to remind myself of the truth...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything... Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." -James 1:2-4, 12

Life seems like it sucks sometimes. There is no sugar coating it.. But friend, stay strong and be encouraged..

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"... Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" - Psalm 30:5






Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If You Can't Fight 'Em, Join 'Em!

On an average day, I might have a total of 30 minutes during the day without the kids.. and this is when the girls' nap and Cobi's nap overlap in the afternoon so it's not necessarily a given. Needless to say, multitasking & planning are my best friend. These may or may not help you, but I thought I'd share some tricks & tips that have helped me maintain order in a life where there isn't enough time to do it all:

1. Bath Time + Cleaning the Bathroom- I'm not sure why it took me so long to do this one, but I started a few weeks ago and I'm lovin it! Obviously you can't clean the actual bath the kiddos are in, but you can do the counters, mirror & toilet all while keeping an eye on the little ones! This gives me several options during the week on when to clean their bathroom.

2. Let Them Help- I don't know about your kids, but my girls LOVE to help clean, do laundry, etc.. At first, I would try to keep them preoccupied with something else, but found myself just constantly checking on them & not getting much done. So, I just started giving them each a duster & letting them walk around the house with me as I clean. Keeps them busy while I'm busy! The same idea goes with doing the dishes and laundry. I give them one task (putting their kid dishes away or putting the pile of laundry into the washer) and not only do they feel cool, but it's keeping them out of trouble & away from a TV or iPad. I think this was the hardest one for me since I am very much a control freak & letting them do it their way instead of mine was something I needed to get over sooner rather than later. 

3. Play + Workout- This seems obvious, and is. This is the same idea as the cleaning. Instead of trying to find a time when you can do it without the kids (if you are working out at home), incorporate them:

1. Take a walk as a family

2. Do what they love to do: run, jump rope, skip, etc.

3. Invest in some items that will keep them active while you do your workout routine 
(soccer ball, trampoline, basketball hoop)

4. If you have a little baby, there are exercises all over the internet to do with your little one
(see below for a website to help you get started)

5. While they have a snack, do a quick routine


Again, pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't do this, but then either complain that their kids are lazy and/or complain that they want to lose weight and don't have the time. If you can incorporate this into your everyday routine, you and your little ones will build a healthy lifestyle together.

4. Quiet Time- In the afternoon after the girls' nap and while Cobi has his, I like to have quiet time where the girls can read their books or color, just no toys or noise. I set them up with lap tables in the family room with a couple of Color Wonder coloring books & markers (the kind that you can't color anything, but the book) and then several books (which I rotate every couple of days). They have to keep themselves occupied with this for 30 minutes while I either do my daily devotions, pay bills, or something else that needs my full attention. After 30 minutes we turn on some music & they can get their toys out, even if I'm not done with what I need to do. I think a little quiet time does the body.. or sanity.. good! 

5. Any Room is a Playroom- I ADORE our house, but we don't have a playroom for the kids. I wish we did, but I have to work with what we got! So, when I absolutely need to get something done (put laundry away, shower, create worship set, etc), I have to bring the kids to "where the work is."  I have toys stashed away upstairs, downstairs & in the basement so wherever I need to be, there is something for them to do. This helps to keep toys "new & exciting," but also prevents me from having to lug around a basket full. Something that also comes in handy are our gates. They are light & mobile so if I need to gate off at the entrance of a room or section of the house so the kids don't go far, I can.


There ya go! Happy Multitasking!!!! 



Meet the Fam.

So now that I've talked about everything under the sun, I thought it'd be appropriate to finally "introduce" my family... I'm a visual person so for those of you who are like me, I thought I'd give you a face for the name dropping that I do in my other blogs! 


ADDISON MARIE : 3 years old
Crazy. Hilarious. Nurturing. Tender Spirit.
Loves monkeys, dancing, the color orange, clothes,  friends & chicken nuggets.


JAELYN LIV: 2 years old
Fearless. Adventurous. Hilarious. Loving.
Loves singing, laughing, the iPad, airplanes and sharks.


JACOBI KAI: 7 months old
Joyful. Ticklish. Loud.
Loves to smile, giggle, babble and cuddle.


JOE/JOJO
Sweet. Romantic. Funny. Spontaneous. Hot. Loving. Amazing. Smart.
Basically, everything you think a man of God, husband, and father should be... 
he is.
I love this guy.. 



what's in a name.

So, you may or may not have noticed the name change on the blog. If you did and were curious what "the JAR" is... Well.. long story short.. a dream of mine is to open a boutique. My hubby is always encouraging me to do it sooner rather than later, so we decided to trademark a name. After a few ideas, we decided on "the JAR" because it is an all encompassing kind of name that can be used for anything, including a blog! But more importantly, all of our names (JoJo, Ali, Addison, Jaelyn, Jacobi) start with an "A" or "J" and have the same last name "R." Thus, "the JAR" was created. There ya go. Not sure if you are smarter for knowing this information, but if I'm famous one day it could be good Jeopardy knowledge... ?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Real Me

1. It only took me 4 years to realize that while my husband is incredibly romantic, I am lacking in that area. I love being romanced, but apparently doing the romancing does not come naturally to me.. Poor guy. I do try though!

2. While my incredibly adorable 3yr old loves singing "Ring Around the Rosie," I can't stand it. To my knowledge, that nursery rhyme was written about the Black Death in England and find it more suitable for a theme song of a scary movie than for playground fun.

3. My house is always in order. There is hardly a time when things aren't in their place... And for the most part, it is usually pretty clean.. However.. If inspected closely, you will find three things that are usually dirty because I can't stand cleaning them:
  • My bathroom sink: Always full of toothpaste, hair & makeup leftovers. Gross, I know. My husband can't stand it. Good thing we each have our own.
  • The inside of the microwave: I have TRIED and TRIED to keep this thing clean.. I even bought one of those plastic covers for when you heat up your food, but somehow it still manages to get dirty.
  • The coils on the stove: If I am being honest, I have cleaned those things ONCE since we got the house 4 years ago. I don't know what it is.. They are just really annoying to clean!
4. I laugh when people get hurt. I know. It is a HORRIBLE characteristic, but something in me can't help it. I have tried soooo hard to make sure the person is okay first before breaking into a deep manly belly laugh, but haven't quite tackled that one. I'm sorry if you are someone I have laughed at. It's not that I don't care, it's just things tickle me that shouldn't. 

5. Taking a nap on the couch sounds awful to me. It's not the sleeping that sounds bad, it's the waking up on the couch. I am literally a straight up mean person if I fall into a deep sleep on the couch and wake up realizing I'm not in my bed. Oh, and if this happens at night and I have to get up just so I can go upstairs to go back to sleep... Lord help any human being or inanimate object in my way. 

6. I am an awful laugher. What does that mean? Well, not only do I sound like a man, but my body goes crazy on me. I either have to stomp, hit or rock back-n-forth until I'm done. I may or may not look like I am having a seizure. And on top of all of that, all my chins come out and I just look like I gained 500 pounds. 

7. I was in Honors/Advanced English classes all through my education. I've always been a pretty good writer, reader, speller, etc.. But to this day I can't spell vacuum correctly (I totally just had to use spell check by the way). I want to spell it vaccum. It seems more natural to put in two "C's" rather than "U's." Oh, and "restaurant." That one kills me. Takes me 5 tries until spell check stops yelling at me.

8. I can't stand a messy house, but the car is a different story. I won't throw my trash on the floor, but will only clean it out when all the cubbies, cup holders and other nooks and crannies are full of trash that has accumulated because of me. 

9. I am the worst person to watch "Frozen Planet" or "Planet Earth" or any other nature series with. I not only have huge moral dilemmas in watching it, but I verbalize my every thought. If you were in our house, you might hear a conversation like this.. with myself:

"Oh no! Don't go after the baby! Ugh. I hate that. Jerks"
"Ugh. Well now it's injured! Just kill it. Stop letting it suffer!!!"

(if the predator doesn't get the prey...)

"Oh... poor guy.. Now he's hungry.."

Unfortunately, this is no exaggeration and it happens with every predator/prey encounter. Yes, my husband is a saint.

10. Along with being an ugly laugher, I'm an ugly sleeper. I snore, sleep with my mouth open and have to wear a retainer. Oh, and I do have the occasional talking in my sleep. Hot, right?! But the cool part is, the love of my life kisses me goodbye every morning, regardless of my unattractiveness when out cold.... 




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party

5 birthday girls + 60 guests + mickey mouse themed everything= awesomeness. 




I love throwing parties, but this one probably takes the cake (no pun intended). Thanks to my sister-in-law, her sister (who happens to be our Pastor's wife), a ton of planning and creating, and of course the hubby... We pulled off a pretty cool party for our girls. I'd go into detail about how we created everything, but it might take a couple of years to write out.. So if you are interested in re-creating some of these fun things, shoot me a message and I'll help ya out! 

The Dessert Table: Cake Pops, White Chocolate Popcorn, Sugar Cookies




The cake pops may have been the hardest part... Shouldn't have been, but they were. In fact, while making them we were questioning why we decided to do that.. But apparently the hard work paid off. We even had a couple people claim they were the best they had ever eaten! 

Blocked Areas, Become Like Mickey or Minnie Station, Thank You Table


Instead of putting up signs to keep people out of bedrooms and such, we put up balloons to sort of block off where people didn't need to be. Thanks to my cousin and her creativity, we had these amazing ears to hand out to all the kiddos. The thank you table was pretty fun for the kids. They picked up their thank you bag (which had their family picture, a thank you note & a sugar cookie in it) and filled it with whatever candy they wanted. 

Present Drop Off & Photo Booth


When guests walked in, there were designated boxes to put their presents/cards in for each girl. This helped the awkwardness on so many levels since not all the guests knew all the birthday girls. Then the kids were given either Mickey or Minnie Mouse ears and had a nose drawn on them. We had the families sit on the couch where we took a polaroid to attach to their thank you bags at the end of the party. It was SO FUN and a huge hit. 

Outside Party Area


With over 20 kids under the age of 10, we wanted to make sure we could do the party outside. We had a couple of pool areas, a trampoline (Mickey Mousekersize), a painting station where they painted with spray bottles, a water/sand table, an inflatable jumpy castle type thing (not sure the technical name! ha!), tables and seating for the adults and a couple other activities. It kept the kids busy for 2-3 hours with no meltdowns or injuries! 

Again, this was a ton of work, but it all paid off. We were very happy with how smooth it went and how everything came together!!!! That being said... I don't think my kids will get another party until their wedding.



Another thanks to my cousin Cayla for the Mickey Mouse ears... For more of her craftiness, visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/itsquirkshop. 

Your Past Does Not Determine Your Future

I read this passage in a book* and thought it was too good not to share:

He was the child of a slave and the son of a queen.
He was born in a hut and lived in a palace.
He inherited poverty but lived in unlimited wealth.
He was the leader of armies and the keeper of flocks.
He was called the mightiest of warriors and the meekest of men.
He was educated in Pharaoh's court and lived in the desert.
He was a city boy who wandered in the wilderness.
He was backward in speech and he spoke for God.
He was the giver of the law and a picture of the grace to come.
His life illustrates huge failures of faith and unbelievable successes.

This man was Moses.

There isn't much more to say about this... It is powerful all on it's own. But what I can say is that no matter what you've gone through, who you think you are or what people have labeled you as, God has a bigger and better dream for your life and is just waiting for you to receive it. 


"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11



"Moses- Steps to a Life of Faith" Bob Saffrin*


Friday, April 27, 2012

Childlike Faith

For over a year now, our middle child Jaelyn has had to undergo various tests in order to determine why she has chronic hypoxemia (lack of oxygen). We've had to keep oxygen tanks in our home and have to test her levels periodically to make sure she doesn't need the oxygen. Long story short, today we met with a pulmonologist to determine the next steps... The results weren't what we were looking for. She will more than likely have to be put under general anesthesia and undergo extensive testing.

I tried to be the strong mom and take the news like an ox, but my emotions got the best of me and while watching "Winnie the Pooh," I broke down. My husband came over to comfort me and the tears started flowing. I looked up and saw my three-year-old, Addi, standing there saying, "I know mama, I know" as she rubbed my arm and gave me a look of sympathy. That alone made me feel so much better... But it was what happened next that I will never forget.. Without any prompting, she hugged my leg and said, "Jesus, help mama. Amen."

My husband and I just looked at each other with a look of surprise, but were filled with overwhelming joy. Without any instruction or hesitation, our baby knew to turn to God for help.

Humbled.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Do I Do It? Well...

Apparently, when you have three kids under three, people assume your house should be a mess, you should look like you haven't combed your hair in weeks, and that you've filled out papers for admission to the psych ward... So when people see my house is in order and tidy, that I shower daily and am generally happy and not stressed, they wonder how I do it..

Here's your answer: Prioritization. Moderation. Support.

In order for you to have order in your life, you must first prioritize everything in it. Start with who you are and what you are called to be. I am a Christian and a firm believer that God is pretty clear about what every woman should be (Proverbs 31), so that is my foundation. I prioritize based on that..  These are a few questions you can ask yourself:
  • Is this something I need or want to do in order to help me be the wife and/or mother I'm called to be?
  • Will ______ get in the way of me fulfilling my wifely and/or motherly duties? 
  • Am I putting __________ before my husband and/or children?

It may not be a fun process, but I would encourage you to go through this with your husband. He is the leader of your home and as a wife, you need to respect and submit to him if he thinks you should or shouldn't be doing certain things

(Note: If this seems hard to do, I'd suggest reading "Reforming Marriage" and/or "The Excellent Wife." They really dig into what it means to be a Godly wife and what that looks like.)

Moderation and Prioritization go hand-in-hand. With each child, I've learned there is a time to be organized and a planner, and there is a time to adapt and be flexible. I make a list every week of all the things that need to be done and for the most part, I try to get those done (the planner). But when life's unexpected's come into play, you need to be OKAY with not finishing your list. Whether it is as serious as a child being hospitalized or as minimal as a spontaneous trip to the zoo, you have to be happy with not checking off all the boxes for the day (the adapter). Also, you cannot let your day be so full of tasks that it is at the expense of spending time with your husband and/or children. You need to examine your life in order to find time to take care of your family as well as enjoy time with them. Here are a couple of suggestions:
  • Have a "cut-off point" at the end of the day where you no longer do house work, but spend time with your family
  • Split the tasks across the week so you have flexibility in your day (do laundry a couple times a week so it isn't so overwhelming once a week, clean the bathrooms one day and vacuum another, plan your meals and pull your coupons one day and grocery shop another, etc)
Lastly is Support. I am blessed beyond words to have family and friends around me that are willing to help with my kids so my husband and I can have a date night once a week or I can go to the store every Tuesday without the kids. If there are people around you willing to do that, LET THEM. You will find that stepping away from your children every once in awhile helps you get through the tough times that much easier because you had time to breathe and appreciate who they are, regardless of their mistakes. If you don't have that external support, really work with your husband to find a place where he can support you going and doing things while he helps with the kids (make sure you come from a place of submission and respect rather than selfishness). If the two of you are on the same page, there is more grace, love and understanding that you need in order to be joyful on a daily basis, despite not having much time to do things for yourself.

Wow, that was a chapter of a book. I could probably write an entire book on this and maybe will one day, but for now, this is a nugget from me to you! Hope there was something in there that encouraged you! 

more of my favorite things..

1. Zumba- Thanks to this gem of a workout, I have lost weight relatively fast and LOVE DOING IT... Regardless of your "sweet dance moves" or lack thereof, I would argue everyone should take a class. My class in particular is 75% of women 50 or older... Not joking. So if they can shake their booty, so can you.

2. Swiffer Vac & Swiffer WetJet- I'm not sure how families with little ones get by without these. I end up vacuuming our kitchen half a dozen times a day and probably have to mop at least twice. I can whip these babies out and be done in two minutes!

3. "Fruit Pouches"- This probably isn't the technical name for them, but that's what they are known by in our house. It's pureed food that comes in a pouch for the child to hold on to.  Some brands make them for babies as early as four months while others (Gerber) make them for toddler age. There are also applesauce and fruit varieties for older kids in the condiment aisle. These are AWESOME to have in your car, diaper bag, and/or purse in case you need an emergency snack! All three of my kiddos use them now. Better yet, at Babies R Us, you can purchase a spoon head that screws on to ANY fruit pouch to feed the tiny guys instead of having to open a jar, use a spoon, and possibly make a mess. I used this method at the doc's office the other day for Cobi and he devoured it.

4. Sparkling Ice- My mom introduced me to these. They are flavored sparkling waters. You can get a case at Costco. So refreshing and they claim they're full of vitamins and antioxidants..

5. Vitamins- No explanation really needed. An essential part to trying to live a healthy life. My husband, my girls and I all take them.

6. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp- This is geared towards parents of toddler age and older, but I think every parent should read this BEFORE that age so you can start out on the right foot in raising your child. Found some good nuggets in this book.

7. Coupons- I am not an extreme coupon user, but on average, I save 20-30% a month overall in groceries and fast food/restaurants by getting the Sunday paper and clipping the ones I receive in the mail. That's a pretty significant amount! Allows me to get my Starbucks!!!

8. Yoplait Coconut Greek Yogurt- Has to be the best flavor out there.

9. Battery Operated Nose Aspirator- I have now had three children in the hospital for various respiratory issues. Every time, they have sent us home with a plethora of nasal saline and a bulb for suctioning. I'm pretty sure all kids hate their nose cleaned out. However, my children seem to not mind the battery operated one (ours plays music) and it does the job!

10. Mederma Stretch Mark Cream- Yes. I have stretch marks. I made it through two pregnancies without them, but they found me this last one. ::Sigh:: But this stuff has helped a ton! You can barely see most of them now. A tad on the expensive side, but it has worked the best out of the few creams I've tried.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flawed Thinking.

I am not the perfect parent. I try my hardest, but of course fall short... a lot. Lately, my "downfalls" have been caused by comparison and false expectations. Yes, it could be a lot worse, but this is the root cause of a lot of my frustration with the kiddos and it's my own dang fault.

You see, when you have three kids under the age of three, it is VERY EASY to forget where they should be at: physically, emotionally, mentally, etc... And it tends to be VERY EASY to compare one child to another. I'm sure this happens with parents whose children are more spread out in years, but I think the closer in age, the easier it tends to be...

Example One:

Addi (almost 3yrs old) can use her words very well and for the most part, articulate why she is upset. Jae (almost 2yrs old) tries to use words, but doesn't have the vocabulary like her sister. Here is where I get to be the bad parent and repent to my daughter... a lot. "Jaelyn, you need to calm down, stop crying and use your words please." (More crying). "Jaelyn Liv, I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong." (More crying. More frustration on my end). "Jaelyn. Stop crying. Obey the first time." (Both of us pretty frustrated now). Then it happens... I get convicted and have to repent to my daughter because it clicks in my head- she is not even two, but I have the same expectations of her as I do for her three-year-old sister. If you have kids, you know there is a WORLD of difference and ability between a two-year-old and a three-year-old. Yep. Another Parent Of The Year Trophy for me (That was dripping with sarcasm if you couldn't tell).

Example Two:

My girls were crazy good babies. I never had to get up more than once a night with either of them since they were born. Addi started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, Jae at 13 weeks. When I mean sleeping through the night, I'm talking sleeping from 8pm-8am... at least! So, when my joyful little man Cobi arrives, I have this expectation that he'll be a good sleeper as well... Nope. He is four months old and I still have to get up with him at least once a night; two on a "bad" night. Looking at it rationally, it's not that bad. Looking at it at 3am when you are straight up exhausted, the thought "why can't you sleep like your sisters" comes to mind very easily.. 

You get my point. It's really hard to let children be themselves and act their own age when you have others running around doing things differently. No, it's not the end of the world and I could be doing worse things. But how easy will it be to compare their grades and job professions later on in life if I'm doing it with things like naps?

::Sigh::

Oh the life of a parent.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

more fun with the kiddos.

It's been awhile since I've posted about some of the fun things the girls & I have been doing...
So here is a handful for ya!


Balloon Ping Pong

Paper Plates. Popsicle Sticks. Balloons.

My girls tend to want what the other has, so we printed a picture of our faces & glued them on to each of the paddles so they would know which one belonged to them.  They also had fun coloring them before we played!


Finger Painting

Large Drawing Paper. Finger Paint. Paper Plate
Plastic Toys with Textures (ie. blocks with letters, peas, plastic car with wheels).

Rather than having the girls just use their fingers, I pulled out a few plastic toys that had different designs or textures on them and had the girls use those to make prints on the paper.  I put a few dabs of paint on a paper plate, let them explore with the toys and after a while showed them how to use their fingers. They LOVED it! 



Car Magnetic Trays

Metal Cookie Sheets. Spray Paint. Magnetic sheets/strips. Small Toys, Books, and/or Puzzles

For the trays, I purchased a couple of small cookie sheets from the dollar store & spray painted them just to add flare.  I knew we had six hours of driving coming up for a day trip to Wyoming so I bought a ton of little toys, books, puzzles, dominoes, etc from the dollar store & added magnetic strips to the back of all of them. I did find out the hard way that you need to make sure the magnet strength is strong. Otherwise, they don't stick well & that defeats the purpose of the whole thing... ! I can't promise that this will keep your kids entertained for hours, but it did put a good dent in our driving time!!!



Count with Easter Eggs

Plastic Easter Eggs. Number Stickers. Pom-Poms (various sizes).

This activity is more about learning to count & read numbers... 

To prep, I placed number stickers on plastic Easter eggs & put that many pom-poms inside. The first thing Addi had to do was find the egg with the number on it that I had told to her. She would then open it & had to sort the pom-poms by size. Once we went through all the eggs (1-10) & emptied them, we went backwards. So she would again have to find the right egg with the correct number on it, but this time she got to choose which pom-poms to put inside as long as she counted them out & put the right amount inside. It was pretty fun to see how well she knew her numbers. If she had trouble finding one, I would pick out the egg with the correct number as well as one other & narrow it down to those two choices for her.  She was pretty proud of herself!!! 




Felt Cupcakes

Felt. Template (http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/build-a-felt-cupcake/)

I saw this idea on Pinterest. The only thing I added was I put the cupcakes together before hand, took a picture & printed it out for the girls to look at as they put them together. It was cool to watch Addi put them together, trying to copy the picture rather than me having to tell her verbally where everything goes. Jae didn't necessarily get the concept at first, but caught on quickly as she watched her big sister! 



Face Mask Kits

They have these types of craft kits at Hobby Lobby all the time. I love it. They come with several paper masks & Popsicle sticks (tape already on the back). All the kids have to do is color & put the stick on. If you don't have time to come up with a craft, but want to do something, these are great to turn to! 





I know crafts can take some time to prep, but if you pick your craft(s) at the beginning of the week & pick a time to prep them all, it makes it easier to pull them out at any given time during the week when you need something for your kiddo(s) to do. Have fun!!!!