Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leftover Overload!

This is quite possibly the silliest thing I could get excited about, yet, I must confess... I am sooo excited about this organizing solution I just discovered!!!

I am obsessed with saving stuff. Especially food. Problem: leftover overload

Getting it together post about my lack of organizational skills. It's been a year since I posted that, and I have been trying to solve each of my problems one at a time. This one was so simple, I'm kicking myself...

Dry erase marker on Tupperware!!

This ONE simple realization has been an amazing help! I just write the date & contents of the Tupperware on the outside of the container with a dry erase marker. Then when I look in the fridge, I know exactly how old each container is and what's in it! It has helped us make sure to eat the oldest leftovers first, and identify what's in them instead of just "a science experiment gone wrong"!


...What are some simple things that worked for you?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Married with Kids

I never really watched the show by that title, but I did see bits and pieces of a few of the episodes, though I don't remember much. However, I know the premise was that marriage gets crazy, harder and/or more challenging once kids enter the picture. Marriage is never easy and always takes work. But kids take all that to the next level.

I realized that I write a lot about our kids and our adventures in parenthood, but never about our marriage. Yet, our marriage is supposed to be the foundation of our families. So, in effort to continue my challenge to myself to remove my mask and be more real with you and the world around me, I am also going to try and write more about marriage. My marriage as well as my observations about the state of marriage in our culture, with the hope that these more real posts will help and encourage you in your marriage or future marriage.  (In NO WAY is my intention to make anyone feel bad about their marriage. So please forgive me if anything I write offends!)

Sooo, this May 19th, Chris and I will celebrate our 10th year of marriage. (10 years! That makes me feel OLD!!! )  I am trying for figure out how time has passed so quickly!!! Oh yeah, 4 kids might have something to do with it!! But, it has not all been "happily ever after."

We did have a great example in Chris' parents, however. Their marriage was a model of real love. Real love is the kind that isn't fickle. The kind that survives the storms and thrives on the sunny days. The kind in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.  But learning how to navigate the waters of marriage on our own has taken time and patience!  And we have by no means perfected it. It is an on-going process.

There is one thing we have learned and accomplish most of the time, and that is what I want to share with you today: We are committed to putting our marriage first. With kids, that gets tough for two reasons:

1- When you have kids, you are always tired. This constant state of exhaustion I live in tends to make me selfish. I often find myself trying to figure out "when do I get to rest?" But, we committed each put each other first. So, despite my exhaustion, I have to try to think of Chris and his needs before my own. Some days, I left him sleep in or take a nap, so HE can rest and recover. Then some days he lets me sleep in or take a nap. We also share the housework, considering it helping the other so it doesn't all fall on just one of our shoulders. But putting the other first can be especially hard during an argument, but eventually one of us "gives in" and apologizes. When he does it first, it makes me feel loved and grateful and remorseful over the fight we were having. So when I remember this, I make sure to return the favor after the next fight. It is hard to swallow your pride and be the first one to apologize or initiate the make-up. But it never fails to make the other feel loved, and isn't that the goal?

2- TIME! there is never enough!! However, it is IMPERATIVE that parents make time for each other!   We make it a goal to have a date night at least once a month. Finding a sitter can get challenging! But the benefits of together time and real conversations without interruptions is very worth it!

Try it sometime. Put your spouse before yourself and see what happens. And make time for a date night, and see what happens.

PS: What have you found to be a secret to a successful marriage? Is there something you wish you could change/do better? I have a list I could share (and probably will one day)! Let's take off our masks and be real and help each other improve our marriages!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Seriously Need a Castle...

... And not because I want to feel like a princess, though that would be nice, too. No, the reason I need a castle is because I desperately want to adopt like, all the homeless/orphaned/under-loved kids in the world.

Photo for Puzzle Peace only. Do not copy or download.
I can't help it....

You see, Sweet Baby started smiling! And he smiles so much, like all the time, even during diaper changes! So I decided I'll start calling him Smily Boy, and I was just loving seeing his smile, after smile, after smile.

But suddenly, when I looked into his big bright eyes as I kissed him and told him how wonderful he is and how much I love him, I was suddenly (and then consistently) rushed with a flood of knowledge that there are waaay too any kids out there who are never kissed or hugged or told they are loved or wonderful. Or worse, they are often told they are worthless and unlovable.  Then my heart breaks. Over and over and over again.  (Am I messed up that a kiss on my new baby's cheek leads me to tears on a regular basis?)

My solution... Adopt them all!!! WaHoo! That would be AWESOME!!!

However, in the real world, that is quite impossible. I realize that.

BUT... If I had a castle, I totally could. And I would!

Until then, I gotta figure out what I CAN do to help those kids. Or else my heart won't stop breaking.

Any suggestions? 

PS: Share with us something you felt/feel strongly called/ drawn to. What are you doing to achieve  it or get closer towards achieving it? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It must be a full moon...

All I can say is W-O-W. Tonight was the toughest night we have had in a looong time!! My kids were like possessed! IS there a full moon tonight? Um, no. OK, so maybe aliens abducted them and replaced them with temporary look-alikes? Hopefully my real kids will be back tomorrow. Yikes.

So, you wanna know what happened? Here we go...

It started this morning, when JP decided he didn't like the class snack I packed. (It is his week to bring snack to preschool.) He decided instead of animal crackers, he wanted to bring fruit cups. However, I explained to him that there were not enough fruit cups to take for the whole class. "Yes there are!" he yelled at me!  (Insert speech about how we DO NOT yell at mommy!) Then I explained "No, we need 12 to have enough for the whole class, and we only have 4."   "We have 12!!" He yelled again, holding up a pack of.. yep, 4!! WhAt wAs hE ThInKinG? Ahhh!  Yeah, that conversation went nowhere!

Then, after school, while I was feeding the baby, JP and PB proceeded to throw all the Legos and puzzle pieces out the back porch window!! WHY!?

THEN! While he was supposed to be outside picking up all those pieces, he proceeds to TEAR OFF THE LATTICE SURROUNDING THE BACK PORCH!! All in a matter of minutes, while I changed the baby's diaper.

The entire time he was screaming about me being "mean" for making him clean it up and how it was so "not fair!"

Who is this child? He can't be my JP, because my JP knows better than that! We have talked endlessly about making good choices and how bad choices have bad consequences, yet he STILL chose to act this way? I don't get it.

Needless to say, he got some consequences. I had planned for us to go out for mexican tonight, since we had a coupon for buy-one-get-one-free for tonight. I was all excited to take the kids out, since they love that cheese dip (and that I wouldn't have to cook!) However, after the day's antics, we had to cancel that. (Speaking of unfair, my kids make bad choices and I get punished?! Oh well. ) He also had to miss soccer practice to instead spend that time cleaning up his mess, and then he had to go to bed without his story time. I hated to take that away, and I still feel guilty about it. BUT, since losing soccer practice, dinner out and dessert didn't fix his attitude, what was left?

Then, PB cried herself to sleep. I hate that, too. But she was mad that we made her clean up, and that she didn't get dessert. After explaining her choices caused the loss of her dessert privilege, she proceeded to call me "mean mommy." That's not fun to hear. Especially twice in one night. :(

Meanwhile, HC is begging to play Donkey Kong, and I explain to him I cannot handle one more battle tonight. He says it won't be a battle and he will turn it off as soon as we tell him to. So, Daddy lets him play. When bed time rolls around and we ask him to turn it off and put his PJs on, he starts crying!!!

Yeah, I had to go for a drive.. (had to pick up dinner anyway, since I hadn't planned to cook!) ... a drive with the windows down and my rockin' praise music by Thief on the Right blaring. The loud music and wind in my face helped calm me down significantly. Then the memories came rushing in about why I love these darn kids so much. Ahh, yes. That's right. I totally love them.

Ugh. Here's to praying tomorrow is better.

PS: Have you had a day/night like this lately? How did you handle it? Was the day after better? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Free Zoo Visits!!!

I LOOOOOVE when I find awesome and FREE stuff to do with my family!!!  This was super-exciting for me and my animal loving brood!!

Zoo Atlanta has partnered with the Georgia Public Library to offer free admission for a family of 4!  You can read all about the free Zoo Atlanta Family Pass here.

Hooray!!! My kids get a thrill out of going to the zoo! Now Dad and I can too cuz it's F-R-E-E!!!!

If you don't live near the Atlanta area, check with your local zoo. A staff member told me she thought several other zoos were doing similar programs, so maybe your is too? If not... suggest they do! You could be the one to pioneer their Family Pass Program!

Do you know of other cool, free stuff to do in and around Atlanta? If so, please share in the comments below! We'd all love to hear about it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When I'm Four...

There are so many things I would expect to follow that sentence. This was not one of them!

At dinner tonight, C picked all the ham off her Hawaiian pizza and declared that she did not like ham. BUT... she followed that declaration with this statement:

"When I'm four I'll like ham. But I'm not four yet, so I don't like ham."

WHAT?! Where did this come from? Where did she come up with this?? So silly, I thought...

Then, I realized the wisdom in her statement. Our taste buds do change! I like things now I despised when I was younger. So, yeah, maybe when she is four she will like ham!

Too bad she just turned three. Oh well, she can keep picking the ham off until her next birthday.

Thanks for reading! Perhaps this reminded you of something profound one of your kids said at dinner recently? Do Share!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making Time for Cinderella

Sunday night I did a really dumb thing. I almost missed it.

Luckily, before the moment was gone, a song came to mind reminding me not to miss it. It is another beautiful momentous song by Steven Curtis Chapman  called simply "Cinderella":

       "She spins and she sways
        To whatever song plays
        Without a care in the world
        And I'm sitting here wearing
        The weight of the world on my shoulders

        It's been a long day
        And there's still work to do
        She's pulling at me
        Saying "Dad, I need you

        There's a ball at the castle
        And I've been invited
        And I need to practice my dancing
        Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

"Ooooh I'll Dance with Cinderella..."
        So I will dance with Cinderella
        While she is here in my arms
        'Cause I know something the prince never knew
        Oooooh, I will dance with Cinderella
        I don't wanna miss even one song
        'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
        And she'll be gone..."

When this song first came out, I cried and cried each time I heard it playing, because this one sentence is ME: "It's been a long day / And there's still work to do / She's pulling at me / Saying "(Mom), I need you".   I hear myself replying "when I finish my work" to waaay too many requests from my kids. After this song came out, I made a vow to never do it again.

But Sunday night I almost did.  You see, I was busy working on end-of-month. At the end of each month, I have this huge Excel spreadsheet of stuff I have to bill for work so they can close the books out for the new month. Sunday night, I was frantically trying to get it finished before Monday morning (I was already behind! It should have been done by the 1st!) Usually at end-of-month, Chris will take care of putting the kids in bed and cleaning up after dinner so I can start working earlier than usual. But this particular night, Princess Ballerina decided she had to have me sing her bedtime songs. Chris and I take turns putting the boys and Princess to bed anyway so we can each share that special time with them throughout the week. So, typically at end-of-month, the kids are OK with Daddy putting them to bed and singing them their bedtime songs. For whatever reason, this night was different for her.

First, she asked nicely. I replied with my usual "tomorrow night I can baby girl, when I am finished with my work." So she begged "Pweeeeeeeease!" And I said "No sweetie, Mommy has work to finish." But then she got pitiful. "Mommy, I need you to sing me my songs!" And I realized I was forsaking a special moment with my girl for a measly extra few minutes of work. 5 minutes would really be all I had to sacrifice, two songs' worth.  Thankfully, God hit my upside the head and reminded me of Cinderella, and of the fact that two songs would barely be 5 minutes worth of missed work time. I realized I could totally give that up for my princess because she wanted MOMMY to sing her a song!

So I did. PB has two songs she always requests at bedtime lately: "On My Knees" by Jaci Velasquez and "Find your Wings" by Mark Harris. She calls them collectively "My knees and my wings Mommy!" I hope I never forget these moments. I hope I never miss one again.

Though I know I will.

It's comforting that even Steven Curtis Chapman almost missed a moment too!! He explains it here in the story behind the song. He wrote this song as a reminder of that almost-missed moment. I am glad he did. It continues to help me remember to focus on those moments and not let them go by. Our kids grow up too quickly as it is. It's my prayer that I can remember not to miss anymore of those precious moments.

Thanks for reading. Remember not to miss those moments with your loved ones.


PS: Have you realized when you almost missed a moment but something (or Someone) slowed you down and helped you to see it before it was too late? Tell me about it! Let's help each other focus on moments & not let them slip by!!

What can we do to help us remember to slow down?? I really need help with this!!

Funding Adoption

When I think about all the orphaned children, desperate for a forever family, I wish I could just have a mansion and unlimited money so I could adopt them all.

But I know that's not realistic. I wouldn't have enough hours in the day to give them all the love & time they deserve. So I pray for more families to rise up and desire to adopt them. I heard Steven Curtis Chapman once say that if all the churches banded together, we could resolve the orphan crisis! Not that every family has to adopt... not at all. But we could all help the families who are called to adopt. He said there are more churches than there are orphans! (I forgot the exact #s he gave). But it hit me, wow! The churches could come together and help support the families who are willing to adopt it it weren't for the money issues.

Then I heard about this amazing family... they created a home business to fund adoptions! Check out EZ PZ Pies! They started selling (delicious!) home made pie fillings to help fund their adoption story. And now, they use those funds for grants and further orphan care beyond their precious family! HOW AWESOME IS THAT??!

I LOVE how creative & resourceful people are in order to find a way to help these children. Father, I pray that when it is our turn, we will be able to find such a way to fund our own adoption story.

Go check out their website and BUY SOME PIE!!

EZ PZ Pies

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our Little Puzzle Peace

So far, I have attempted 3 separate blogs, none of which I kept up with very well! Some were for business, some for pleasure just to write my random thoughts on life, etc. But none had a real purpose of passion for me. This one does. I hope this one will be different. Life is still crazy and I may or may not keep up with it very well. BUT, my passion for it is to help others through this crazy life see that God has a bigger picture He is painting and YOU and I are a part of it, whether we believe it or not. We each fill one piece of that picture, like a giant puzzle. And sometimes, it doesn't make sense because we can't see all the pieces. Often things happen that we don't like. That's when we need His "peace that surpasses understanding" (Philippians 4:7) to cover us and help us through it.

So this is my new commitment to this blog, where I will therapy write my thoughts about life and motherhood, parenting and marriage down and hope and pray someone reads it and will be blessed by it. 

We are all a piece of God's Puzzle. My prayer is that you find His unexplainable Peace as you walk through it.