Friday, December 12, 2014

Life Update

I will warn you...I have no plan for this post other than to update you on what's been happening in our lives since I posted last. 
 
No plan = Ramblings. 
 
I apologize in advance. 
 
I feel like my life has once again been a blur.  I don't even know where to begin.  Since my last post we haven't had any interest in our house.  This is both calming and frustrating if that's possible.  I'm calm because I don't want to move during the winter months.  Heck, I don't even want to go outside during the winter months.  (I sooo could hibernate and just re-emerge in the spring...) let alone move all of my belongings to another dwelling in frigid temps.  This is also the hubby's busy time at work so it just would make things that much more complicated.  But it's also frustrating because we were hoping to be moved already.  And just this week there has been something that has come up (in a good way) and we are faced with the possibility of staying here and not moving at all.  It's craziness, I tell ya!  We've been fixing up our house and finishing all those little unfinished projects in order to make our house more appealing to potential buyers and now we may stay here.  Not that I'm complaining.  We now have the in-floor heat hooked up in the living room (that used to be cold in the winters) and now it's toasty warm and we LOVE it.  We also have installed a new kitchen door complete with pretty leaded glass.  And the list goes on and on with all the new perks our house has that makes it harder for me to want to leave it! 
 
The end of November, my oldest turned 14.  FOURTEEN.  And I'm starting to feel my age because of it.  I'm caught somewhere between being excited to see him grow and mature, but at the same time starting to realize that our time with him living in our home is drawing to a close because the next 4 or 5 years will fly by.  Have I taught him everything he needs to know to be a successful independent adult?  Have I taught him morals, money management, how to clean a house, how to rely on God to guide him?  The reality is this:  I have my work cut out for me.  I only get one chance at this thing called parenting.  And yet sometimes I feel just down right CLUELESS.
 
A couple of weeks ago, we lost my husband's Grandma Myrtle.  She was such a blessing to us all and was the definition of what a good grandma is.  She loved unconditionally and was always so welcoming.  She loved each of her grandchildren and never hesitated to ask us about what was happening in our lives.  Although we could see her health was declining, her death was sudden and was a shock to my family.  We were able to visit her a couple of weeks before her passing and I am so glad we did.  She told others how much she enjoyed our visit and I am forever grateful we were able to spend that hour with her.  Her life and passing has helped me to start thinking about the type of legacy I want to leave with my family.  Grandma Myrtle love and laughter will be greatly missed.
 
I have gained about 12 lbs.  Yep, all the weight I lost last year in back on my body...yuck!  I really slacked off on exercising and eating better and it shows.  I feel like I'm carrying around about 25 lbs instead of just 12.  And I have been battling being oh-so-tired, especially since the evenings are getting dark so much earlier.  So I decided it was time to get back to exercising.  And I do well for a week and then the next week I slack off.  And the next week I do well and the next week I slack off.  This is my slacking off week.  And just when I decide I need to work out, I get a cold and I can't breathe very well due to congestion.  And I'm not sleeping well due to not breathing well.  So I'm feeling even more worn out!  And since I felt all unenergized to do ANYTHING around here and have had  some busy days and evenings my house looks as if it has imploded.  Last night I felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack.  I have so much to do and no energy or time with which to get it done.  And it makes me grumpy.  I think I need a vacation.
 
And as if that isn't enough excitement, my sister-in-law in moving back to the States from Mozambique.  I will admit I am super excited about she and her hubby moving here because I want the kids to have a good relationship with their aunt and uncle and it's hard to when they live halfway across the globe.  So that's been a nice surprise for us!
 
With all that being said, I need to get the girls up and start the rest of the morning grind before heading to work.  There's so much more to say but it will have to wait until another time!  :)



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Patience

It seems like I am always apologizing for going on a blogging hiatus....I guess this is just how I roll these days.  I thought I would pop in and let you all know what's been going on since I last posted.  Unfortunately we still have yet to sell our house.  We have shown the house to a few people and we've heard "We love it and will definitely be calling you back!" and then....wait for it....NOTHING happens.  I will admit it is very frustrated and I have spent a good morning of the past two months on an emotional roller coaster.  One minute I think we've got it sold and then next minute I am planning out our future here because it looks as if we won't be moving.  I am learning patience.  And I will be honest and say I'm not sure I like it.  I am also realizing that I am a bit of a control freak...and I am learning to let go and just LIVE.  In the midst of all of this, hubby has been a busy bee finishing all the unfinished projects in our house and I have been busy cleaning and organizing and staging.  It's exhausting both physically AND emotionally! 

And today is the day that our contract on our new home runs out.  I thought I would be really upset if we reached this day and our house had not sold.  But I'm ok with it.  I really like the new property, but hubby and I have been weighing whether going deeper into debt is worth it if we won't be able to afford the things we would like to do there (fencing, cattle, a garage for hubby to work out of) or if we should just downsize to a smaller property and have a very low house payment and maybe buy a recreational property somewhere instead.  I struggle with knowing God's will in all of this and find myself wondering if God really cares where we live?  I don't say that in a mean or disrespectful way...but I wonder if that is really what God deems as important even though we put so much emphasis on where we live?  Jesus didn't own a house, right?  Maybe freeing up some finances by downsizing will enable to us to be more generous and enjoy life more without having to work to survive.  These are some of the questions going through my head lately.  And I will be honest...when I think of downsizing to a smaller (and probably way less appealing house), I can hear friends and family questioning our judgment and making comments/suggestions on what they think we should do.  I am determined to do what God wants us to do and try (really hard) not to care what others think.  But it is a struggle. 

I am also learning not to judge a book by its cover....metaphorically speaking.  I am learning that no matter what the situation looks like right now, most often God is working behind the scenes.  It's so easy to look at the situation right now and think it's hopeless because we don't have a buyer and we might as well give up on the new house because someone else will snatch it up now that the contract has ended.  But that's putting limits on what God can do.  I'm not saying that He WILL do them, but he most definitely CAN.  He could be speaking to someone right now to call us because the have been contemplating looking at our house.  Or God could speak to the owner of the new house to extend our contingent contract.  The possibilities are endless!  Yet, it's so easy to get caught up in the negative thinking! 

So there you have it....a few of my thoughts about this whole house selling thing!  I will try to keep you updated as much as I can, but in the meantime, please keep us in your prayers! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Change

There has been a lot going on in the Snyder House lately!  The biggest of which is the For Sale By Owner sign in our front yard!  We have been feeling the past year that the time was drawing near for us to start looking for a new place to live.  I really like our current property but both hubby and I would prefer to have more land to put out crops, raise livestock, hunt on, etc and the 3 acres we own now just aren't feasible for those things.  Despite only having 3 acres, we have tried to use it as best we can to create a more sustainable lifestyle by raising a pig to butcher each year, laying hens for eggs, a garden (although this year was the worst growing season we have had), as well as blueberries bushes, red raspberry bushes, strawberry plants, rhubarb plants, and a peach tree!  But my heart longs to do those things on a little larger scale.  So we put a for sale sign in the yard and have been busy both looking for a house and making necessary updates/repairs needed in order to sell.  And I'm not going to lie, it almost did me in...mentally and physically.  I really struggled with leaving this house.  The house where we have raised our babies, celebrated Christmases and birthdays, where we have had summer hot dog roasts over a campfire.  But God has been helping me to realize that HOME is not made by a house.  It's made by who is in that house.  I didn't want to give this house up without knowing where our next house would be.  I became a control freak.  And I cried and worried...a lot.  Then one day this past week, I finally had to have a talk with God.  I gave up control.  And I also came to the realization that staying in our current house would be acceptable too if that's where God wants our family.  We have found a house that we all really like that has 42 acres of corn fields, ravine, creeks, and pasture.  The kids had a blast exploring during our short time there this past weekend.  And I would like to think that it will be our future home.  But we can't buy our new house until our current one sells.  So for now I just have to trust God and know that He has our best interest in mind.  He knows the desires of our hearts.  And He has a plan that's bigger and greatly than anything we could ever imagine.  So although this change of possibly moving is stressful, the change occurring in me is good!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Love Skip Jump By Shalene Bryan

I have an amazing book to share with you!  I just finished reading Love Skip Jump: Start Living The Adventure of Yes by Shalene Bryan and I want to recommend that you read it too!  I am trying to be more intentional about the books I review for publishers...there's nothing worse than trying to get through a book you don't like just so you can post a review about it!  And I'm a busy gal so I just don't have time for that!  This book caught my eye because I am boring.  I am not an adventure-lover or risk-taker.  I like playing it safe and playing by the rules.  But it's boring.  In an attempt to want to be more adventurous, I decided to read and review this book!  I am so glad I did!  It really was a remarkable one that I want to keep on my bookshelf for a long time. 

The author, Shalene Bryan, lives in California.  I could tell from the stories in the book that her family is well-off financially.  Her life dramatically changed when a lady at a dinner party she was throwing, saw the picture of the Ugandan girl her family was sponsoring and asked Shalene if she really believed she was helping this little girl and it wasn't some scam.  Shalene had never really thought of it before, but the more this comment got to her, the more the urge to find out for herself grew.  Next thing she knew she was on a plane to Uganda to meet both kids that her family sponsored.  She not only got to meet them in person, but she was able to see firsthand what living conditions they endured and how the money she sent each month really did make a difference in those kids' lives.  This trip changed her life.  And out of it her organization Skip1 was born.  The organization is centered around the idea of us skipping one thing....buying a new shirt, passing on a Starbuck Latte, not getting take out one night...and using that money to donate to needy people.  Even though the amounts seem small, they really do make a difference. 

Each chapter in the book tells a story of loving others, skipping to help others, and jumping in with both feet when God tells us to jump, and the effect it has for God's kingdom.  God has come through for her time and time again simply because she chose to say yes.  She urges us to ask God to show us what we need to jump for/in so that we can experience those same great miraculous stories in our own lives! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this honest review. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

GOOD Morning!

I cannot believe that summer is almost over and the kiddos go back to school next week!  I have enjoyed my time with them but it will be nice to get back on a daily routine. And I will admit that it will be nice to have the house to myself again on my days off!  I have a million zillion things I want to get done around here and it will be nice to have 6 or so hours of uninterrupted time to attack that list! 

With that being said, I decided it was time to start getting myself on a routine.  I am a lover of free ebooks and as I was scrolling through the many I have on my Kindle I cam across one called The Ultimate Morning Routine.  How to use the Hour of Power to set yourself up for a productive and successful day by Brian Ledger.  That pretty much hit the nail on the head, so I dove in.  It's a short book so it didn't take me long to read it and I was able to finish it last night while I sat in the freezing weather (where IS summer, by the way?) during my daughter's cheer practice. 

The main idea of the book is to get up an hour earlier in the morning and spend an hour doing some set things.  You list the things you are thankful for.  You make a list of insights and things that you want to accomplish that day.  You pray for strength and guidance to get through the day and be productive.  Then you exercise for 20-30 mins.  The book urges you to do that every morning for 21 days so that a habit forms and you will be more likely to continue it for the rest of your life. 

So today was Day 1 for me.  I will admit the thought of writing down the things I am thankful for seemed pretty silly and pointless to me.  I set a stop watch on my cell phone and sat down with my notebook and pen and started writing.  I was done in 2 mins...and I was planning to do 10 mins!  I am thinking I was too vague and should be more specific instead of just writing "my husband and kids".  But it got me to thinking that maybe I am not as thankful as I should or could be and that I should start being more intentional about looking for things that I am thankful for.  To be honest, after that 2 mins, my perspective started to change and I started to feel lighter emotionally. 

Next step was listing my insights.  So I started with the heading of "Today I will" and followed up with things like "show respect and kindness to my husband" and "wash down the kitchen cabinets".  This took me 7 mins.  At the end of the 7 mins, I felt even lighter.  Sometimes my head is swirling like a tornado with all the things I need want to accomplish and expectations I set for myself.  And I will be honest and say that many of them blow away and are forgotten...and never reach my to-do list.  Then a day or two later I will have that "Oh shoot!  I forgot to..." moment that could have been alleviated if I had just written it down.  This 7 mins was a time of quiet and no distractions where I could just empty my brain and get it all out. 

The third step was prayer.  I had decided that I would incorporate my devotions into this time too and take longer than 10 mins.  Usually I read my devotion and then journal my prayers.  But I decided to journal first and follow up with my devotion.  I think I liked it!  The things I was thankful for and the things I wanted to accomplish were fresh in my mind so it made for a time of prayer concentrated on those things.  I read my devotion and at the end of it was a little prayer that really hit home ( Click Here to read the full devo) and 14 mins later I was done.  The prayer at the end was just what I needed so I decided to post it to my Facebook status so that others could benefit from it too, so I did that next.  The book warns against looking at Facebook or reading emails until your hour is finished so that you don't burden yourself with what you read or see, but I was really good at only being on there a few mins so as not to clutter up my just-emptied mind.  I was glad to see (after my hour was up) that a couple of friends posted that it was just what they needed, so I am glad I posted it.  Facebook is full of not-so-uplifting statuses and drama and world news that I am trying to post more God-centered things and not go with the normal flow.  I still post about my life, but if I gain new insight that I think will help others spiritually I post it and hope that it does just that. 

The last step was exercise.  I have been wanting to get up and exercise each morning to get it out of the way in case I don't get the chance to exercise in the evenings.  And if I do, then I get a double-workout in!  Today is sort of gloomy/rainy looking so I didn't really want to head out on a run/walk.  I popped in a Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 video and did a Week 2 workout.  I wanted to die.  Not that it was that difficult.  I just wasn't in the mood to work out I guess.  And I wanted to punch Jillian in the face because of all of her comments.  Some days are like that.  But I persevered and finished the 24 mins workout sweaty and breathless.  Go me! 

In that one hour I felt like I accomplished those things that really matter in life.  I took care of my emotional, spiritual, and physical self.  And now I feel like I can take the rest of my day and run with it.  I feel focused, which is hard for me most days.  I didn't get up an hour earlier because today is my day off, but I plan to start getting up at 5 in order to get my hour in before hubby and the kiddos wake. I work the next 3 days so I will plan to set my alarm for 5am tomorrow (ouch).  Luckily I am a morning person and my internal alarm clock adjusts fairly quickly!

So all in all, so far, I can honestly say it's been a GOOD morning!  If you try this, let me know how it works for you!  And I will try to keep you posted on how my progress is going over the next 21 days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Failures and Labels

I was late to work today. 
Poor Time Manager.
 
There is a HUGE fly (the shiny kind) flying around my house. 
Slob.
 
When I came home from work today, my house had a not-so-nice smell (the cause is still to be determined). 
Poor housekeeper.
 
I made cookies on Monday to stick in the freezer for next week when we are at the fair and might need/want a snack.  But I keep eating them.  Frozen. 
Pathetic.
 
I was told by my son's friend that their football practice had been cancelled and only the parent meeting was still a go.  Come to find out, my husband arrived at the parent meeting (he offered to go so that I could stay home and relax) to find out that practice had not been cancelled AND tonight was uniform fitting.    So my relaxing came to an end and off I went with the kids to pick up Misinformant Boy to take them to the school.  Here's the Cliff Notes version of what happened...my son came home mad because someone took his #34 jersey from last year and now he has to be #72.  He is also blaming his friend (Misinformant Boy) for it.  AND there was practice tonight following the fitting.  And my husband made me feel less-than-intelligent for believing Misinformant Boy instead of checking with the coaches (FYI-I don't have their contact info yet). 
 Na├»ve. Irresponsible. Worthless. 
 
I tucked my girls into bed and noticed a strange smell coming from their trash can that was nearly overflowing. 
 Lazy. 
 
I stuck my head in my son's room to say goodnight and he sort of mumbled a half-hearted goodnight and I can tell that he's very disappointed in how the evening went. 
Terrible Parent.
 
Every where I look around me lately I see failure.  No matter how much I try to do well, the not-so-good seems to be staring me in the face and yelling my name.  Soon I can no longer see the things I accomplished well.  It's easy to feel like a failure and give myself labels or allow others to give them to me.  And after awhile I start to believe them. 
 
This past Sunday at church, the pastor spoke about labeling.  He said most of us think we are pretty special when we are born and as young children...usually thanks to our mother's love and encouragement.  Then things start to change and people will put labels on us (either verbally or implied) or we put them on ourselves.  We begin to doubt that we can do anything worthwhile.  Then the pastor said something so profound.  He said that only manufacturers have the authority to put labels on something.  Because they created that thing on which they are putting the label.  He said that God is the ONLY one that has the authority to label us.  Because He created us.  How awesome is that?  Now, I will tell you I was so enlightened hearing that sermon.  Then my busy week hit and has left me feeling pretty wiped out (and it's only Wednesday!) and then today's happenings really threw me for a loop.  And the labels started coming back. 
 
Our thoughts are powerful.  The more we think we are fill in the blank, the more we start to believe those labels subconsciously, and we eventually start acting according to those labels.  Friends, we need to remember who our Creator is and what He has created us to be!  We need to replace those negative labels with labels from the one who created us... 
 
 Chosen. 
Fearfully and wonderfully Made. 
 Forgiven.   
 
I pray that we both can both believe and find rest in those labels and not allow others (or ourselves) to label us any longer!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stitch Fix #1 Review

Today it finally arrived...my beloved and long-awaited Stitch Fix box!  It wasn't supposed to arrive until this Thursday, but it came early and that is just fine with me.  When I checked the tracking information and saw that it was on the truck and out for delivery, I was stoked!  And I seriously wanted to hug the FedEx man, but he dropped off the box and away he went before I could even get to the door.  (I'm judging by the speed of his quick delivery that he may have been hugged while delivery Stitch Fix boxes to other style-challenged and excited gals.

If you haven't heard of Stitch Fix, let me enlighten you!  Stitch Fix is an online styling company that will pick out 5 items for you (usually 4 clothing items and 1 accessory depending on what you request) and send you a box however often you would like one (aka how often you can afford one). The sign-up process is pretty in-depth so that your stylist can get a good feel for your size, body shape, and style.  Once you have answered those questions you have the opportunity to request certain things and/or tell your stylist about your likes or dislikes.  For my first box, I requested a dress or two that would be appropriate to wear to a wedding I am going to next month.  I also said that I liked to wear blues and jewel tones.  As you will see in the pictures to follow my stylist listened! 
After that, you schedule your first fix.  Be forewarned that if you are thinking of scheduling your first fix, do so NOW because I scheduled the fix I received today in May and this was the first date available!  (Also, if you are interested in scheduling your own fix, please, please, please use my link HERE and if you do, I will get a $25 credit towards my fixes!)  The cost for each fix is a minimum of $20 (for a styling fee).  If you hate all the items in your box, you just pay the $20.  If you decide to purchase any items, the $20 is deducted from the total cost.

Once you receive your fix, you have 3 business days to decide what you want to purchase via online checkout.  At checkout, you also have the opportunity to rate each item and tell your stylist how well you liked it, how well it fit, and if you liked the price, as well as any other comments about the item.  This will help your stylist to make each fix better and better.  Once you checkout, you keep the items you paid for and then you stick the rest of the items in a plastic mailer with a prepaid shipping label and you put it in your mailbox or drop it in a USPS dropbox. Easy Peasy!

Enough chit chat, time to see what I received! Because I was so excited, I took some pictures...

Isn't it pretty sitting on my doorstep? 
 



 The style cards that come in each box...one for each item of clothes/accessory that show two different ways to wear the item.  This is great for people like me who are a bit (ok, a lot) style-challenged.  The top right card is actually a note from my stylist telling me why she picked these items for me and how excited she is to pick out thing especially for me.  (She is my new BFF)


 
 Here's what I saw upon opening up my box.  Let the fun begin!
 


 Dylan and Rose Dovette Draped Detail Dress - $68
 
I really like this dress.  The fabric is super light-weight which would be great for the wedding next month.  It's also super comfy!  It's hard to tell in this picture but this dress has sort of a sash of extra material that runs from my left shoulder to the right side of my waist.  I have seen others who received this dress wear it with a thin belt and it looks cute that way too. 
Verdict:  Like it, but not sure I want to pay $68 for it...however I could see many uses for this dress because it could be casual or dressed up a bit with jewelry.
 

41 Hawthorne Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan - $48
 
This cardigan is also lightweight and super comfy. 
Verdict: Undecided...really like this one but it depends on what I decide about the dress above.  Update:  I kept the cardigan and love it!  The only thing I DON'T love about it is that it is handwash only!  Bleck.


I think this cardigan looks super cute tied at the hips too!
 


 
 
Kensie Jeans Sophia Tall Length Skinny Jean - $88
1 Hawthorn Eldridge Star Print Wrap Scarf - $28
 
Let's just get something out in the open...I do not have skinny legs.  And I am self-conscious about them.  So me and skinny jeans have never become friends.  So I was a bit nervous about trying these on.  First of all, they fit way different than my normal Maurices Curvy jeans.  The best way to describe it is that they were swallowing my calves!  I could have used an installation tool to get these on.  The waist fit fine...but the legs were way tighter than I am used to and can tolerate.  Not to mention, the price is more than I want to pay if I don't really like them.  When I modeled them for a friend, she assured me that I can pull skinny jeans off, but I am not yet NOT wearing them. 
Verdict:  Buh-Bye
 
I was excited to receive a scarf (mainly because I wanted there to be something on the cheaper side in case I didn't like anything else so I didn't lose my $20), but I do not like the color of this scarf.  It says it's pink but it is more of a peach....a color I NEVER wear nor look good wearing.  The design itself it sort of cute and the fabric is super thin and cozy.  Despite the color, I also have a hard time wearing scarves...especially in the warmer months. 
Verdict:  Sending it back.
 
Allie, however looked really cute in this scarf! 
 
41 Hawthorn Roni Geo Detailed Lace Sheath Dress - $88
 
This one surprised me.  When I saw the lace I was instantly disappointed.  Lace is not something I normally wear.  Ever.  When I think of lace, I think of old church ladies or something.  When I tried it on, it wasn't as bad as I thought.  It's a little more fitted than what I would like and it's above the knee which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.  This dress has a polyester lining with a layer of lace on top.  The back of the dress has a section of unlined lace at the top with a single button and keyhole opening.  So far everyone likes this dress the best, but it's a bit too warm to wear to an August wedding and it's also a bit too fancy for my tastes.  I can't think of another place to wear it other than a wedding. But it did make me feel pretty!
 
Verdict:  Since it's too fancy for 99% of my life and it's $88, pretty sure I am going to send this one back.
 
At first I was disappointed in my box...mainly because of the two $88 items and the fact that everything with the exception of the scarf was blue.  I was hoping for a bit more variety in color.  But then I remembered that I had told my stylist that I liked to wear blues and, since she probably suspected that I wouldn't purchase both dresses, she sent two blue dresses.  The more I tried the items on, the more I liked them...or was at least more open to wearing them instead of instantly hating it.  I was hoping for more shirt options, so I think I will ask for more shirts in my next box. 
 
All in all, I think was a really fun experience and hope to get more fixes in the future!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hellllo SUMMER! (Finally)

Ahh...Summer is here!!  School let out last Friday for summer break and we've been loving that summer is finally here after a VERY long winter and a weird, cold rainy spring!  We spent the weekend doing summer things like opening our swimming pool and weeding and planting the garden.  On Sunday we hosted my daughter's 10th birthday party with some of her friends and grandparents and it was really nice.  We set up tables in the yard and the kids swam while the adults chatted. 
 
Monday I got up at 6 with my husband to get him off to work on time, then sat down in my comfy chair to do some reading before the kiddos go up....and I started falling asleep!  So I snatched up the opportunity to crawl back into bed and SLEEP IN!!!  I woke up at 8:30 and it was nothing short of glorious! 
 
Yesterday was my daughter's actual birthday and I didn't want it to feel like a let-down compared to Sunday's birthday fun since I had absolutely nothing planned for the day, so when she mentioned wanting to go shopping, that's what we did!  We headed to the outlet mall about an hour from home and she had so much fun shopping with her birthday money!  The rest of the evening was spent at a 4H meeting and more swimming, as well as ice cream sundaes and a late night movie.  (I'm still trying to decide on a reasonable summer bedtime for the kiddos)
 
This morning I got up early with my husband again to pack his lunch for work (and even got a thank you for it today!!) then went for a 2.5 mile walk/run.  My inner whiner was really telling how I should just do other things instead, or workout tonight, but I overcome and the whiner was silenced as I walked out the front door!  It felt good to get out and move despite the extreme humidity!
 
Every summer I have great plans to keep us all on a daily routine, but have yet to actual follow through with it.  Last night I sat down and decided to make up a tentative schedule to keep things running smoothly and to make sure that our chores and housekeeping items were being taken care of too.  Here's what our schedule looks like:
 
9am:  Breakfast
 
9:30am:  Get dressed/Make Beds/ Shower/ Brush Teeth
 
10am:  Feed animals (and divided up the animals amongst the 3 kiddos)
 
10:30am:  Bookwork/School work (The older two will work on their 4H books and the youngest will work on writing a letter to a friend in Texas.)  Eventually I will give them worksheets with math skills on it to keep up their skills over the summer.  During this time I plan to do some bookkeeping for our business.
 
11am: Housekeeping/Laundry Chores (I have a weekly cleaning schedule that we will refer to and assign tasks according to what needs done)  During this time I will also work on folding and putting away some laundry.
 
Noon:  Lunchtime & meal cleanup
 
12:30 - 2:30pm:  Free Time (to swim, play outside, make a craft, play a game)
 
2:30-3:30pm:  Quiet Time (this time will be used to unwind a bit and take naps or read a book silently)
 
3:30-4pm:  Read Out Loud as a family.  I have always wanted to read a book   together as a family, so this will be a great time to!  I picked up Little Women and WOW is that book BIG!
 
4-5pm:  Dinner Prep (I will try to incorporate the kiddos in helping with setting the table, and helping prepare the dinner meal.  I would also like to start to teach them to make simple meals themselves this summer so they can cook when needed.)
 
6pm:  Dinner
 
6-9pm:  Family Time
 
I am really hoping this works out well for my family this summer!  So far, our summer is off to a GREAT start!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Date Nights are Important

I am a firm believer in dating my spouse.  If you work and/or have kids, you know that life can get crazy.  Very crazy in fact.  And my life is no exception.  It is so easy to feel disconnected in your marriage and feel as if you are living in a roommate situation instead of living as husband and wife.  And when your marriage reaches that point, it's easy to withdraw from your spouse...not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  I have been there too many times.  Sometimes I simple date with your spouse can turn things around and bridge those feelings of disconnect. 

My hubby and I have come to realize the importance of dating each other.  We try to have at least 1 or 2 dates a month.  We need them and would do them weekly if our schedules allowed for them more often!  Most often we go to dinner, but sometimes we see a movie.  And since there is a Lowe's store in the nearby city where we most often go to eat, we almost always end up spending a portion (and sometimes far too long) in Lowe's shopping for supplies for whatever our current project is.  Is that romantic?  Nope.  But we are spending time together (trying to find mirror hangers when even the sales associate doesn't know where they might be), making decisions together (should we paint the porch swing in Gentle Wave or Aqua Ocean?), focusing on a common goal (on how to make more functioning storage in our master closer), dreaming together (of the deck we want to build sometime in the future).  And somehow in the midst of all those paint swatches and 2x4's, we find our spark again.  The spark that so easily gets buried under busyness, unmet expectations, laundry and lawn-mowing.  The spark that reaffirms that we are in this together, and together we can overcome anything that comes our way.  The spark that gets us through until our next date. 

If your marriage is feeling strained or just lacking excitement, I urge you to give dating a try.  I know some parents of young kids (and sometimes even older ones) have a hard time leaving their kids to spend time together....they want to take the kids along.  DON'T!  Don't feel guilty and don't take them along!  I promise you that you will not get the same benefits as you would if it were just the two of you.  One of the best things we can model for our kids is a healthy happy marriage.  Kids feel secure when they see that their mom and dad love each other!  And when our marriage is thriving, it naturally trickles down into our parenting, our homemaking, our friendships and other relationships in our lives.  And dates don't have to consist of leaving your home or spending money.  Sometimes we get a sitter for the kids and just stay home, make pizza or popcorn and watch a movie.  You could take a walk around your neighborhood.  You could just go our for dessert instead of paying for the price of an entire dinner.  Go hiking at a nearby state park.  Take a bike ride on the nearby rails-to-trails.  Make a fire in the outdoor fire pit and have s'mores.  Lay in the hammock (or the kids' trampoline) together and look at the stars. 

In addition to our one day/night dates we also try to go away for a weekend alone together at least once a year, but try to shoot for twice.  Our most recent weekend getaway was to Latrobe, PA.  This was our second year in a row visiting here!  We went two years ago and stayed at the Willow House Cottage, which we fell in love with upon walking in the front door. (Not to mention, the owner is super nice!) 





That year, we saw a waterfall, natural water slides, and learned some history about Ohiopyle, PA, and toured Fallingwater

 
One evening we had amazing candlelit Italian dinner at Denunzio's which is located inside Arnold Palmer Regional Airport and our table overlooked the runway.  Here is where I also found my most favorite wine ever from Stone Villa Winery!  During that trip we also visited Johnstown, PA and toured the flood museum.  And I even conquered (ok, not really) my fear of heights by riding the Inclined Plane.
 
So this past year we decided to go back because we were craving that Italian meal and to stock up on some wine, as well as to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial.


  I am almost out of wine already, so we should probably plan another visit back there soon!  As I type this, those fond memories flood my mind and I am reminded of just how important those weekend getaways are to both of us!  Next year, celebration of our 15 wedding anniversary, we are planning to take a trip to Punta Cana for a WEEK!  We have only ever gone on a week long vacation without kids (besides our honeymoon) one other time, but it revolutionized our marriage.  We don't take those week long getaways as often as I'd like to, but I would need to get a 2nd or 3rd job in order to finance them! 

My hubby and I had a date day yesterday.  We were both off of work and spent the entire day together.  We really enjoy each other's company and he truly is my best friend.  And the example from Lowe's listed above?  Yep...those were the decisions we were making in real life!  We probably spent 2 hrs in Lowe's, but I didn't care (that is, until my stomach started letting me know it was lunchtime).  We were together.  And that's the best place to be.

 

Living Life Undaunted by Christine Caine

I was so excited when I saw that this devotional book was available for review!  My small group was currently reading Christine's book, Undaunted, and I loved it so I couldn't wait to receive this devotional!  It is wonderful!  There are 365 readings that are dated so you can read one each day of the year and follow along.  Christine's words urge us to move beyond ourselves.  To be fearless.  To live out the purpose God has for our lives.   And He has one for each of us. We just need to trust that God can and will use us to fulfill that purpose.   The devotional is broken down into 4 sections; one for each quarter of the year: Broken, Loved, Empowered, Commissioned.  And each quarter's readings are centered around that one-word theme.  I have really enjoyed this devotional and look forward to reading it throughout the year!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this honest review. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How's Your Running Going?

Well, I have had a busy last couple of weeks, but honestly, when aren't they busy?  It's like the days just fly by and it's a real struggle to remain intentional in my living instead of just flying by the seat of my pants (which happens most often). 
 
After the busyness of last week, I have to admit I was feeling very optimistic about this week since I have 3 days off from work.  My cleaning schedule sort of fell by the wayside last week and I was in survival mode just to get the laundry done and food on the table.  So where some people cringe at the thought of MONDAY, I sort of get excited because it's like a new chance to get my act together each week!  Ha!  I know, I know, I'm sick. 
 
Yesterday I got out of bed with renewed energy and ready to get to work in my house.  Then my daughter got up saying she didn't feel good...and she still had a rash.  She woke up Saturday morning with a mysterious rash on her arms and torso.  Along with the rash, she was saying her belly hurt and she had a headache.  And her throat hurt when she coughed.  I did some research online and sort of narrowed it down to Fifth's Disease...for which there is no treatment and since the rash is evident, she was no longer contagious.  However, my mom-worrying took over and I was feeling the need to rule out that it wasn't Strep.  So off to the doctor we went.  And the strep test came back negative.  And the doctor said it was Fifth's.  So I was feeling a little frustrated that I had spent the whole day (ok, not the whole day, but a good portion of the day) driving to and from the doctor.  So I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have liked....but I was able to get the bed sheets washed, so progress is progress, right? 
 
Today I got up and got everyone off to school and work, ate my breakfast, and sat down to read out of my new devotional I am reviewing, "Living Life Undaunted" by Christine Caine.  My spiritual life has sort of been on hold as the rest of my life has been crazy.  I hate to admit that, but it's true.  So today I decided that I wanted to once again focus on having a time of devotion and prayer daily.  The devotion I read today really hit home with me because it pertained to running.  I would like to share the devotion with you...
A Designated Lane
 
Do you not know that in a race all the runner run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize. 
1 Corinthians 9:24
 
God has a plan for our lives even before we were born.  He had a lane marked out on the track of life with our name on it and a specific race for us to run.  God has plucked each one of us out of eternity, positioned us in a certain place in time, and given us special gifts and talents for the purpose of serving our generation.  There are certain things he wants us to achieve while we are on this side of eternity.
 
When we stand before God on day, we will have to give an account of what we did with our lives.  God will want to know what we did with the time he gave us, what we did with the talents he gave us, and what we did with the treasure he placed in our hands. 
Therefore, it's imperative that we all ask ourselves these questions:
 
* Where am I in my race of life?
*Am I running my race in my lane pressing on for the prize that God has for me?
*Am I crawling along somewhere, stumbling and tripping, not really knowing where I'm going?
*Am I running in my lane but distracted because I'm looking around to see how others are doing?
*Am I envying how others are running their races and what lane God has placed them in?
*Am I collapsed somewhere along the way, because discouragement, disillusionment, and disappointment have caused me to stop running?
*Have I become a spectator who sits in the grandstands watching the race I should be running?
*Have I been sidelined by a sin that has left me feeling guilt and shame?
*How can I get back in the race, ready to run and win?
 
Moment of Reflection
 
Are you confidently running in the lane God has purposed for your life?
 
 
Like I said, this devotion hit home with me.  As I read the beginning verse, I was stuck on the last part...run in such a way as to get the prize.  If you have never ran in a race before, this probably doesn't mean much to you.  But for those of you who have, you understand what it takes to run in such a way to get the prize.  It takes a whole lot of effort on your behalf.  It's more than just running the race for fun.  It's serious.  To win, it's going to take pain.  Sweat.  Perseverance.  Determination.  And supernatural strength.  You see, it's easy to run a race knowing that you aren't going to win the prize.  You don't push yourself as hard as you could and you can relax a bit and just enjoy the race.  But to win, you have to focus on the finish line and run with all you've got. 
 
And that is how God wants us to run in the race of LIFE.  Not that we can't enjoy the race.  But we have to be determined to run the race well, using the talents he's given us, keeping our eyes fixated on the finish line. 
 
As I read through the questions in the devotion, I felt convicted because I haven't been running the race well.  I've let the busyness of life get in the way and cloud my view of the finish line.  I want to do better.  To be better.  It's time to lace up my running shoes and get into my designated lane. Will you join me? 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

This Mama Can Clean!!

I know I have disappointed some of you (namely ONE of you...you know who are you...lol) because I haven't posted recently.  And I really have no excuse.  My life is a constant flow of motion that I should be used to by now...but when things get busy, blogging unfortunately gets put on the back burner.  And I will be honest, sometimes I just don't know what to write.  I don't want to bore you with the daily happenings of my life...I want my post to be something life-changing for you.  Ok, maybe not life-changing (although that would be awesome!), but something that inspires you to do better, to be better, to make changes in your own life...maybe even make you laugh a little!  Well, sometimes my thoughts just aren't that deep and usually are more like, "Hmm, I wonder what we should have for dinner tonight..."  So that is why I haven't posted. 
 
So, what's new with me?  I'm so glad you asked!  My brain is once again full and I am feeling the need to fill you in...aren't you lucky?!  Here goes....
 
 For starters, I have a CLEANING SCHEDULE!  I wrote that all in capital letters because I am squealing with excitement that I:
 
1. Actually made one up AND typed it AND printed it out
 
AND
 
2.  Am actually USING it!!
 
A friend of mine has voiced her struggles with keeping up with her house cleaning and laundry while caring for her small children.  She came across a book that taught her the importance of having a weekly schedule and said that it was really becoming helpful.  And me, who is always looking for ways to make my life run more smoothly, really liked the idea.  I have had trouble with regularly cleaning my house and honestly was ready to just throw in the towel and accept that I would never have a clean house until the kids had moved out and taken their messiness with them.  When there are 4 people making messes (hubby included) and only 1 person cleaning them up, it's bound to create a cleaning deficit, and it did in the Snyder House.  I had tried posting chore charts for the kids, complete with page protectors and dry erase markers, but this resulted in the kids doing their chores half-heartedly (or sometimes not at all), yet miraculously every chore got marked as completed each day.  Epic Fail. 
 
Enter the new and improved Snyder Family Cleaning Schedule.  I decided to divide my house into rooms and assign specific rooms (or certain tasks) to specific days of the week.  Here is my current schedule:
 
Monday:  Office Work & Errands.  This is the day that the checkbook gets balanced, the desk gets tidied, the bills get paid, the groceries are bought, the deposits are dropped off at the bank, etc.
 
Tuesday:  Living Room, Porch, 3+ Loads of Laundry.
 
Wednesday:  Bathrooms & Foyer
 
Thursday:  Bedrooms & Remaining Laundry
 
Friday:  Kitchen. 
 
Saturday:  Decluttering, Menu Planning, & Family Time.  On this day I will choose an area to declutter/organize.  I will also plan my menu and grocery list for the upcoming week.  The rest of the time will be spent spending time with family or doing projects at home.
 
Sunday:  Rest & Family Time
 
I typed up this list, but also added specific jobs that would need completed each week.  For example, on the living room day, I listed Dust, Vacuum, Tidy, Tidy Bookshelf, Sweep Porch, Tidy Porch.  I also added a place for each load of laundry completed as well as for each load of dishes washed in the dishwasher.  My ultimate goal is for this list to be used for both me and everyone else in the family.  When the kids gets home from school, I won't need to tell them what chores to do.  They will look at the list and pick something that hasn't been completed already.  This way, each room gets attention each week.  There are days where not all the things have been marked off...but that's ok.  I highlight the item when it's been completed so I have a record of it and can do some of the extra tasks when I have time on other less busy days.  I just put this into practice this week and so far it's going well! 
 
I am also planning to make up smaller cards for each room in the house with more detailed instructions on them for the kids to use as a reference.  For example, when cleaning the bathroom, it will list all of tasks in that room and what cleaner to use and what a complete thorough job looks like so they can't speed through it doing a half-hearted job. 
 
 
Exercising
In addition to my new and improved cleaning schedule, I am also implementing a new exercise regimen.  I am feeling a bit flabby and as you know, this has been one long hard winter.  I had all but given up on being able to exercise outdoors ever again because winter just refused to leave...but this week, SPRING ARRIVED!  And it is oh so wonderful!  I have renewed motivation (and energy!) to move my body and burn some of this buttah that has accumulated over the winter months.  I don't really have a plan or schedule for exercising, but I am just trying to make a conscious effort to move my body more...and to sweat more when I do.  I am not sure anyone likes to push themselves enough while exercising to induce pain or immense sweating, and I had been quite accustomed to get through a workout without sweating at all...and hardly getting my hard rate up!  Shame, shame!
 
So this week, I have: 
 
walked 4 miles,
 
 did an 18 minute circuit training workout (that you can find HERE),
 
1 hr of walking with just a small amount of running,
 
and a 25 minute treadmill workout (5 min warmup and cool-down and 15 mins of running at 5.0mph) along with some weight training afterwards. 
 
Not too shabby since it's only Thursday!  I am starting to feel the time crunch before vacation to slim down and firm up...only 10 more weeks until we go to the Outer Banks!  (yay!)  But the thought of wearing a bathing suit IN PUBLIC sends shivers down my spine.  So time to get proactive!
 
Menu Planning
 
As you know, I am following the Trim Healthy Mama plan in order to eat healthier and lose this last 15 pounds.  I was sort of in a rut with my cooking and needed to expand my recipe collection so last weekend I sat down to prepare a menu plan for this week.  I accounted for all meals including a snack each day.  I have a binder that I keep all of the recipes I print out for THM, so I took the recipes that I would be using this week and moved them to the front of my binder so they would be easy to find when I was ready to make dinner.  I used a printable menu planner and typed up my menu and posted it on the fridge.  I tried to plan more labor-intensive dinners on days when I didn't have to work and easy meals for those busy evenings.
 
 Then I used those recipes to compile a list of ingredients that I would need to buy along with some staples...toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.  Then on Monday (because that's Errands Day) I headed to the store with my list in hand.  It felt great to know that I would be coming home with items that could actually make full meals for an entire week instead of randomly throwing things in the cart only to get home and realize I had nothing to make meals with! 
 
When I make a meal, I highlight it on the menu on the fridge so I can easily spot those meals that I haven't made yet.  If I don't plan ahead (by thawing out a particular meat, etc) and have to switch meals around or I am in the mood for a different meal than what is planned, I choose another one from the menu.  Easy Peasy! 
 
All of these changes are really making me feel like I can control the chaos in my household a bit and streamline things each week.  I am hoping that each week that I follow my cleaning schedule, menu planning and exercising, it will get easier and easier and eventually the Snyder House will be working like a well-oiled machine.
 
One can hope, can't they? 
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen M.D. and Mark Hyman M.D.

If you take a good look at the people around you, you might notice something most of them have in common...they are overweight, or even obese.  Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States...and why wouldn't it be?  Our grocery store shelves are overflowing with processed foods that only help to pack on the pounds.  Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church in California and author of The Purpose-Driven Life took a good look at himself and also his congregation one day at a church baptism.  He realized that he was not being a good steward of his body and he felt compelled to change that.  The following Sunday, he confessed to his congregation about his conviction and invited anyone who might interested in losing a few pounds to join him on a 40-day journey to getting healthier.  To his surprise, the result was overwhelming...both the amount of people who signed up and the amount of pounds they were able to shed in those 40 days. 

The Daniel Plan is based on the book of Daniel where Daniel was taken to Babylon to be trained for the king's service. The king said he and his friends could eat whatever they wanted, but Daniel chose to eat only fruits and vegetables and water for 10 days so that he could prove to the king's guard that his eating this way would not affect his health/appearance.  At the end of the 10 days, the men looked healthier and more nourished so they were allowed to continue to eat that way for the remainder of their time there. 

The Daniel Plan is a lifestyle plan that consists of 5 Essentials:  Faith, Food, Fitness Focus, Friends and each plays an important role in each person's success.  These Essentials is what I think makes The Daniel Plan a well-rounded program. 

The Daniel Plan is a lifestyle change.  In the book, the authors thoroughly explain each of the Essentials as well as including a 40-Day Fitness Challenge and a 40-Day Meal Plan.  I think this is a great program that has the potential to change the world and put a dent in the current obesity problem.  There is also a website to coincide with the book and offers many helpful resources. 

*I received a complimentary ebook copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Exhaustion

Those of you who know me well know that I work at a flower shop.  And there are two words that bring fear into any floral designer's eyes:  Valentine's Day.  In my pre-flower shop days, Valentine's Day was a holiday filled with love and romance and flowers & chocolate  Now, it brings exhaustion.  Both physical and mental.  One thing remains: the chocolate (used as the sole means of self-medicating in order to cope with the chaos).  I worked 4 straight days last week...a total of  49.5 hrs.  And I have officially decided that I very much dislike Vday.  I'm pooped!  I feel like I could take a nap at any given moment and am lacking the motivation to do anything productive. 

This morning I awoke to more snow.  And the text telling me my kiddos would be spending the day with me because school is cancelled.  I am trying to take it slow today so I don't overdo it (the older I get I am finding that my body needs a bit more time to recover from stressful & tiring situations it gets itself into!) so I hopped in my comfy "God-chair" and grabbed my laptop and earbuds and got caught up on the past two sermons at church that I missed due to, you guessed it, SNOW.  And boy am I glad I did.  It was just what I needed to hear.  You see, I have had a few situations arise in my life recently that have caused me a good amount of stress and fear.  I will spare you the details but I have found myself not able to sleep at times because my mind is full of worry. 

As I have recognized this worry, fear, and stress in my life, God is teaching me a powerful lesson.  I see it all around me.  In the book I am reading.  In the sermons at church.  In my online Bible study.  There are times when I feel as if God is miles away from me, but this time I feel like He is right by my side, taking my hand, and leading me in His will for my life in these situations.  I still don't know how each situation will resolve itself, but I have peace.  Trust me, I didn't always.  When these situations arise, my emotions can become out of control and I can think thoughts that are unlovely.  But I am learning that my emotions have to be under control in order to be open to seeing God's plan.  I cannot let these negative thoughts and emotions control me.  Sometimes I get upset and I don't even know why.  But when pray and ask God to reveal it to me, He shows me...and it can be very enlightening!  It reveals my desire to control the situation in order to receive the outcome I WANT...not necessarily the outcome HE is planning.  One thing I have learned through this all, is that trying to control things is also exhausting...sometimes even more exhausting than working 49.5 hrs in 4 days!  When my mind is overcome with worry and emotion, it wears me out physically.  And when I am worn out physically, it makes it even harder to control my emotions.  So the cycle continues, but the one who is truly suffering is ME.  I have learned that when I immediately hand over these situations to God, He fills me with His peace that passes all understanding.  I am able to calm down, allow God to work in and through the situation, and I am able to trust Him fully to work it out on my behalf. (well, this part I am still working on...) And when I do this, I start to feel the exhaustion decrease, my hope increase and I feel 100 lbs lighter as God lifts the weight of my burdens off of my shoulders and places them onto His.  Allow Him to do the same for you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Penny For My Thoughts

I will be honest...I don't have a plan for this post.  I just feel the need to write down some of my thoughts, I guess.  Life has been busy and I don't feel like I have had much time to unwind my mind!  When I write it's like it takes those thoughts out of my head and frees up some space in there (not that there's a lot of extra space!  lol)

 
So bear with me as I share what's been swirling around in my noggin, ok?

1.  Weight Loss.  It's inspiring.  It's motivating.  It's oh-so-frustrating at times.  I made a goal at the beginning of the year to reach 150 lbs by the middle of June.  I wrote my weight goal each week on my planner so I would have a guideline to follow to help me know if I was on track.  The first few weeks I was ahead of schedule as it was great. But now I am a few pounds behind schedule and I am starting to panic.  Granted I know I am more than the number on that scale.  But I am feeling like this is going to be another failed attempt at reaching 150.  This has literally been my goal FOR YEARS.  I lived most of my 20's wanting to lose weight, and I'm mid-way through my 30's with the same stinking goal.  I feel pathetic.  And with all the weight loss gimmicks out there it's hard to know what is TRUE knowledge.  I am trying hard to follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating.  I believe in it and it worked for me when I started implementing the plan last fall....I lost 6 lbs fairly quickly.  But now I feel stuck...mainly because I keep going off-plan and it's starting to show on the scale.  I see tons of pictures on the THM Facebook group where people are totally transformed in their physique and I am so inspired.  They found how to put the plan to work for them to achieve results.  I haven't gotten there yet.  I keep thinking back to when I lost the 6 lbs and what I did differently than I am doing now...and I honestly don't know.  I wasn't even doing the plan full-time then.  So frustrating.  So I will keep plugging away and doing what I can with my eating and exercise and hope for the best. 

2.  Church.  I truly LOVE my church.  I mean that with all of my heart.  The people are loving and accepting.  The pastors are amazing and extremely helpful. I want to go each time the doors are open and take advantage (in a good way) of everything it has to offer in the way of classes, activities, etc.  For the first time in a long time I want to grow spiritually and I feel like I know how to do it.  If you aren't in love with your church, I urge to pray and ask God to show you where he would have you to go where you can grow!

3.  Motherhood.  It's tiring!  And I often find myself feeling like a failure when I listen to the way my children talk to one another and fight.  I feel clueless as to how to handle these situations because obviously my current way of handling them isn't working.  There have been numerous snow days in January for my kids which means we have spent more time at home together than normal.  Some days are great and everyone plays together well.  Others, well, not so good.  I am trying (despite feeling completely tired and spent most of the time) to spend a bit more one-on-one time with them, to see my children through God's eyes and recognize the gifts and qualities He has placed within them, to say "I love you" more and to tuck them in when I feel as if I don't have the energy to walk up the stairs to their rooms.  I am noticing how much is caught by them than taught, so I need to be reminded to set a good example for my children in the way I interact with others and with God. 

4.  Marriage.  I miss my hubby.  His current shift at work is really wearing on me.  I am so thankful for his job, but his shift literally allows about 2-3 hrs here at home each day (not counting time spent sleeping).  We desperately need a date night.  We just need some time to connect and not feel the demands of life weighing on our shoulders.  Mental note:  call your mother to ask if she can watch the kids this weekend!

5.  My small group. We had our first meeting a couple of weeks ago.  Those 8 women will be the ladies I share my life with for the next 12 months.  My joys, my sorrows, my shortcomings, my prayer requests.  I am so thankful for them!  We all hit it off at the first meeting pretty well and I could already see the bonds of trust starting to form between us.  It is so refreshing to be amongst a group of women who will not judge you and will love you in spite of yourself and all your flaws.  I am so excited for what God is going to do in this group!

6.  God.  I can feel a stirring in me.  A stirring to know God more.  To recognize His voice.  Heck, just to stop and actually listen for His voice when life is busy and demands are swirling around me.  I want to be totally dependent on Him.  I want to rest in the fact that He has it all under control.  I want to live the life He has for me to live and reach my full potential.  I want to live intentionally, not constantly swayed to and fro by my to-do list and life's demands.  And I want others to see Him in the way I live my life....in my actions, my words, my attitudes, my outlook.   

Whew...I think my brain is all emptied out....for now.  I feel better!  :)


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Be Still My Soul by Randy Peterson

We have been getting a ton of snow here in Ohio, which means we've been participating in being snowed in!  Not really, but since hubby has to work when it snows and I am a chicken when it comes to driving in snow, we have stayed home for the past 48 hrs!  Honestly, it's been great!  We missed out on a euchre party with extended family yesterday and going to church today, but it has been nice to just stay home and relax.  We have watched movies, done a few sewing projects, and I have been catching up on some reading! Which brings me to my next review...

When I received Be Still My Soul by Randy Peterson, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the pages of the book look sort of torn or worn giving it an old-time feel.  And rightly so since this book is full of hymn after hymn and the stories behind them.  I remember my pastor once telling the story behind the hymn "Peace Like A River" and it was so profound to me.  I have always preferred more contemporary Christian music, but now, every time I hear that song I remember the story behind it and it means so much more to me.  Because of that I was excited to dig in to this book! 

The book contains 175 hymns and their back stories.  I will have to admit that there are A LOT of hymns in the book that I am not familiar with so I felt a bit disconnected with those hymns, but there are many that I am familiar with.  I love knowing the stories of why the writer wrote the words to these beloved songs.  From Fanny Crosby's "Blessed Assurance" to Jusdon W. VanDeVenter's "I Surrender All", this book covers them all!  I know that when I hear these hymns being sung or played, I will remember the story that brought them into existence.  And what's even more amazing is the fact that most of these hymns were written by common folk...and little did they know that their words would be sung by many for generations to come!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for this honest review. *

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Say Goodbye To Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

I was so excited to get to read and review Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine! I have been a follower of Crystal's blog, www.moneysavingmom.com, and had read and reviewed her first book a couple of years ago.  Aside from the colorful and catchy looking cover, the title completely drew me in.  I was feeling a bit worn-out and overwhelmed with my life and was totally in survival mode.  And I didn't like it one bit.  It's not a good feeling to feel as if your life is whirling out of control and you don't know how to stop it or where to begin.  Crystal has been there too and she shares in her newest book how to take back control of your life once again...and actually enjoy it! 

Each chapter in her book focuses on a goal to achieve as well as practical advice on how to achieve it.  From getting on track financially to getting more sleep, the author shares her experience in that area and how she was able to overcome obstacles in that area.  From cover to cover the author guides us step-by-step to a less chaotic life...the life God created us to live!  She urges us not to live a life that is overwhelming and out of control in several areas, but to live a life on purpose, with a passion for living it! 

This book was a very easy read.  I was greatly encouraged and motivated to make changes in my own life and putting her tips into practice.  I really enjoyed the various quotes she used throughout the book and I was also excited to see an extra section in the book for additional resources.  I have added several of her recommended books to my to-read list!  If you are feeling down and discouraged about your life right now, this book would be a great read for you!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

No-Spend January Update

How is Old Man Winter treating you??  I tell you what, I'm ready for him to take his snow and cold temps and hit the road, Jack!  When it is as cold as it was earlier this week (in the negatives!) I don't want to go outside...in fact I refuse to!  But there are warmer temps in the forecast for tomorrow and this weekend and I am super stoked!  Spring is coming!!!  Maybe not for another couple months but it IS coming!!  That is how I keep my sanity these days....reciting that mantra until I see the daffodils blooming! 
 
Well, I thought I would pop in and let you know how No-Spend January is going.  Well, so far, so good!  We haven't overspent and are actually looking for ways to not spend!  Here are some things that I've been doing to keep me on track....
 
1.  Writing it all down.  Every paycheck, every debit card use, every check written gets written down.  A friend of mine suggested using an accounting ledger pad so I decided to give it a try.  I picked mine up (before January!) for @ $3 along with some pretty mechanical pencils that I have hidden from the kiddos.  (anyone else's kiddos steal mom's goodies?)  Using that ledger brings back memories of accounting class in college...it takes me to a happy place.  I open it up so there are 2 pages...one of the left (which is actually the back of the first page) and one on the right.  The left side is for my "envelopes" or budget accounts and the right side is for my spending ledger where I write all deposits and debits.  It's a bit complex, but so far I love it and it's working well.
 
2.  Make a menu.  I talked a bit about this one in a previous post.  I make a list of meals that I will make over the next week or so (usually one week lasts us more that 7 days because there are days we eat leftovers, etc.).  This also allows me to "shop" my pantry before heading to the store so I don't buy duplicates of things I already have.  It also helps me to have a plan instead of flying by the seat of my pants which results in eating out or eating unhealthful meals.  I am also finding a bit of enjoyment by using up items that are in my pantry and fridge!  You know all those condiment bottles that take up so much room in your fridge door?  Well I am trying to use them up and when I do I feel a sense of accomplishment.  Weird, I know.  It doesn't take much to entertain me. 
 
3.  Sell Things.  This is what I am working on today.  I have an entertainment center that we no longer use (we got a new TV last year and it won't fit in it), and we have been using it for make-shift storage for board games, blankets, etc.  Honestly, I love that entertainment center and envisioned painting it a fun color...but it no longer has a purpose and it's becoming a collect-all.  So I cleaned it up, took pictures of it, and will be posting it on a local selling group page on Facebook. 
 
4  Take a good look at your bills.  Are you paying for things you no longer need or paying for more than you actually need/use?  When you make up a budget for your family, you start to look for ways to free up money, because when you do, it allows you to pay off debt more quickly or build your emergency fund, or whatever you want to use it for!  Right now I am looking at our auto insurance bill that is due the end of this month and I am wondering if we could get a cheaper price by switching companies or by taking a couple of vehicles off the policy.  We have 2 trucks and 2 vehicles that hubby and I drive to work.  The one truck is strictly for pleasure driving and the other is for hauling firewood....but the total for those two vehicles is over $400...which would cut our bill in half for 6 months.  So I am going to be making a few calls this afternoon to get quotes!
 
5.  Be content.  Would I love to do a DIY project right now?  Sure!  What about go shopping for a pair of winter dress boots?  Uh-huh!  BUT...are either of them a necessity?  Nope.  The more we dwell on what we want, the more we want it.  And sometimes it can be hard to say no to ourselves!  Something that is helping me to overcome these wants is to make it sort of a game to try to cut costs enough to free up the money needed to buy the things we want.  If I end up $50 to the good on my grocery budget at the end of the month, then I can go out and buy one of these "luxury" items without feeling guilty for spending money that wasn't budgeted.
 
6.  Stay home.  I know, this one is boring.  And unrealistic if you work full-time.  I only work a few days a week but when I am in town on my work days, I try to fit in as many errands as I can while I am there so I can stay home on my days off.  This saves on gas and time in my opinion.  When I use my days off to just stay home, I get so much more accomplished here at home! 
 
Well I am having trouble thinking of more so I guess I will stop writing for now until I think of more!  Happy Thursday! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Love & Respect In The Family By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I was part way through reading Dr. Eggerich's book Love & Respect when I saw that Love & Respect in the Family was available at Booksneeze for review.  Because I was really enjoying reading Love & Respect, and I was feeling as if my home life was a bit out of control with kids who were disrespectful...and with parents who felt both helpless and clueless about how to intercede, I chose to review Love & Respect In The Family.  I am really glad I did!  This book is written in way that encourages parents to not lose hope.  But also to not blame their children for the situation they are in.  Change starts with us as parents.  There is a crazy cycle that happens when parents feel disrespected and kids feel unloved.  When parents feel disrespected they tend to act in ways that appears unloving to their children.  When children feel unloved they tend to act in ways that appears disrespectful.  And the cycle goes on and on until someone chooses to break the cycle.  We can break this cycle and transform it into an Energizing Cycle where as we show our kids love they will naturally want to show us respect.  Through this cycle, parent-child relationships are strengthened.

Dr. Eggerichs shares with us his wisdom gained through parenting his own children, who are now grown, as well as years of experience as a pastor and helping families.  His children actually share how the ways he and their mother had parented had helped and hurt them emotionally.  Dr. Eggerichs encourages parents to not give up, but to look to God for help in those tumultuous times where we feel helpless.  He has developed an acrostic GUIDES for parents to use when interacting with their children.  He shows us how to Give, Understand, Instruct, Discipline, Encourage and Supplicate in order to develop loving habits that will cultivate strong relationships with our children. 

One aspect of the book that is extremely helpful for readers is located at the end of each chapter.  The author makes reference to a particular area of THEIR WEBSITE where the readers can go if they need additional information pertaining to topics in that particular chapter. 

I really think every parent should read this book and would greatly benefit from it.  I am encouraged and excited to put this knowledge into practice in my own parenting and see the results!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Booksneeze.com in exchange for this honest review.