Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Monthly Archives: January 2013


I borrowed this book from a friend after watching the movie. I actually read a hard copy book instead of one on my Kindle. Boy do I miss holding an actual book in my hands! I went out to the library and borrowed another real book that I’m sure I’ll review on here soon.

But anyways, back to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. First I will say that the movie and book seemed like two completely different stories. Neither one bad, just completely different. Both follow Abraham Lincoln from a young age and takes on the notion that he hunts actual vampires. One of the biggest difference is in the movie he had a childhood friend who assisted him with vampire hunter. However, in the book this same friend was one he’d met as an adult. In the movie this childhood friend was part of the reason he was anit-slavery. However, in the book, despite disliking slavery, his biggest reasons for removing it from the United States was its link to vampires. I much preferred Henry’s background story in the book versus the one in the movie.

The book was fantastic and I would recommend it. The author does an amazing job integrating historical facts and events into his fictional world of vampire hunting. Thus making the whole story seem very plausible. It is clearly well-written and pulled me right into the story. It is filled with lots of facts which I could see becoming tedious to read. Myself, however, felt it added to the story and made it seem more real. It also gave me a great glimpse on history. The characters were vividly written. By the time I finished the book, I felt so connected to the characters I was bummed by the movie’s interpretations.

The one drawback to this book, is the history. I did love it as mentioned above, but as the story was winding to an end, I really found it to be too much. I think the story could’ve been summed up quicker.

Rating out of 5 Bookends: 4.5 knocked down a bit due to the end being a tad long.

My Legacy- Part 3

What I Want Other’s to Know About Me

This has been the hardest of the 3 part series to write. I’m not sure why, if I feel like it makes me seem egotistical or if its odd to think about what I want people to remember about me when I’m gone. Despite the challenges, I feel its important to think about it so I can live purposely. This process has allowed me to really evaluate what I want people to think about me and to think about if I’m truly living this now.

Here’s what I hope people remember about me or, in other words, how I see myself:

Christian: I remember when my grandmother passed away, there was no doubt that she went to Heaven. In fact, people specifically recalled her as a Good Christian Woman. In fact many of my memories of her are bursting with Christian values and experiences. I want people to say they know that I am good Christian woman. This is an area of improvement for me. I need to find ways to live my faith Outloud.

Compassionate:  Compassion is feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others. I tend to be very compassionate and work hard to show this. I do unfortunately tend to be a bit direct and blunt. Sometimes I think this may take away from my compassion. I work hard at being supportive when I know people are going through tough times.

Passionate: This is something I’m certain anyone who knows me very well, will say about me! I’m very passionate about my kids, food allergies, family, living a moral life, reading, fitness, and the list can go on! My passion oozes when I talk about these topics and I read everything I can about topics I’m passionate about. unfortunately, I think I can accidentally put people off my the amount of passion that comes bursting out!

Now that I’ve identified what I want people to remember about me, how can I live to embrace these things? Am I doing a good job at embracing these things? I mean, after all, actions talk louder than words. What actions can I take to help grow those attributes?

Since I’m always looking for ways to better myself, here are my steps I plan to take to help grow in those things I want people to remember about me:

1) Growing in faith– One of the ways my grandmother become such a strong Christian woman was because she was familiar with God’s word. I must read the Bible more and spend more time within his word. I must not shy away from Biblical conversations. I need to become more involved in church.

2) Compassion– I need to remember to be compassionate in tone, as well as, actions. I will (try to) be more outgoing and approachable to others as I sometimes come off as too direct or stand-offish.

3) Passion- I will curb the passion when needed and try to read people’s body language better. I will keep bringing up the food allergy issues and continue to be available for those who want to talk about it but remember that NOT everyone wants to discuss food allergies. I will re-direct my passion to things that I CAN change and be OK with letting those that I can’t go by the wayside.

What do you want people to remember about you? What do your actions say about you? Are you living that out? Are there ways you can improve? I’d love to hear from you if you feel like sharing.
If you’ve missed the other previous parts to this series, check them out here:  Part 1 and Part 2 


The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury, read via the Kindle

My church started a book club and this is the first selection. I am very excited to join as I’ve been looking for a book club to join for quite some time. I’ll write more about my experience as the club gets going.

This story follows two main set of people. Molly and Ryan and Donna and Charlie. Donna and Charlie own a book store, the Bridge, where Molly and Ryan spent most afternoons while in college. Unfortunately a great flood has completely ruined the bookstore and Charlie and Donna are on the verge of losing everything. Molly and Ryan now living separate lives are brought back in the common goal of helping save the Bridge. This novel leaves you with the “It’s a Wonderful Life” feeling as everything gets tied-up nicely just in time for Christmas.

This book was a short book, probably bordering a novella versus a novel. This makes it an easy introduction to Christian novels. It’s nice for the beginner Christian novel reader since its not overwhelming with Bible verses and references. I personally felt it could’ve used more but its good to not have the reader feel “preached” at or overwhelmed. The characters are very connectable. I believe most people can connect to the “one that got away”. Its a very short, sweet novel which captures the Christmas season.

Unfortunately even the best novels have some downfalls. One for me was it could’ve been longer. I felt like I was just connecting with the characters and then it abruptly got tied up in a neat little bow and was over. I did miss how she in the other book read had one verse that was the focus of the book. I wish she would have done something like that in this book. I also felt this was slightly overpriced for the length of the book. I called one of the local Christian stores which was selling the hard cover for 19.99. I bought it from the Kindle for 7.99. Its short enough that this busy mom of 2 small children read it in 3 short settings…maybe a total of 4 hours. In fact approximately the last 15% of my Kindle addition is acknowledgements and group discussion questions.

I do think this one is worth a quick read, especially if you’re wanting to try out Christian novels. Its short and sweet and leaves you believing in love and miracles.

Rating out of 5 Bookends: 4.5 only docked down due to the almost too neat ending and was a bit overpriced


My Legacy Part 2- Teaching My Children

All parents know how very important it is to teach your children how to interact successfully within society. Although the process varies from families, the outcome is the same. As parents, we want our children to be successful. I have several items I want to teach them to help them along the way. Here is what I want to teach them.

Dear Children,

1) Spend time on your knees and not just at bedtime or dinner time. We are very lucky to have a God who wants to present in our lives. He will help guide you if you spend time listening to Him and talking with Him. Remember, that sometimes the answers you receive may not be what you want and sometimes God’s gifts are through unanswered prayers. Most importantly remember to express gratitude in your prayers for what He has given you.


2) It will not profit you to lose your soul on the way to success. Monetary success is NOT the only success in this world. The world will tell you to do whatever is necessary to get ahead. It will tell the nice person doesn’t win. I will tell you that IS NOT the case. Remember that successful men have a well-rounded life. They have true friends, ones you will only gain through fair dealings and genuine behavior. They have families that love and support them. And most importantly, a successful person knows the VALUE in hard work. Remember to work hard, be fair, and considerate. These things will truly benefit you and will have life long benefits.


3) Dance in the Rain, let your hair down, wear your goggles outside of the pool; remember to relax and enjoy the little moments. The rain is refreshing to flowers just as relaxing is to people. Rain is necessary for growth and for a fruitful world. It is the same for you. Take time to relax, dance a bit. Take up a hobby and excel in it. This time will help to refresh you and you will do better at work and school. You will be a better spouse and friend.


4) Think for yourself ALWAYS and ask A LOT of questions. Growing up I was accused of asking too many questions, don’t worry I’ll NEVER accuse you of that. A curious mind will find different answers which will only increase your knowledge. Asking questions leads to wisdom and leads you to a better understanding. Search out the truth and base your direction and thoughts on the answers to your questions. Don’t follow the crowd unless you know it’s the right path. Remember, discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you (Pro 2:11).

5) Life isn’t fair, never has been and never will be. It’s a sad truth and I would be doing you a great disservice if I told you otherwise. Take a second and let that soak in. Sometimes you will work harder and longer and the other guy will get the promotion, the better grade, the recognition. Sometimes you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes your friends will disappoint you. Get my point? Remember in those times, if you’ve done the best you can and you’ve remained true to yourself and upbringing, you have NOTHING to be ashamed of or upset over. Because you worked HARD. Also know that when you get that promotion, recognition, or in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time, there is someone else out there disappointed. Be HUMBLE, be KIND, and always THANK those you have helped you. Because, sometimes life’s not fair.

Finally, remember you come from a family that loves you dearly. Mistakes will happen but we will always be here for you. Remember you are loved.

Your Mom.

If you’ve missed part 1, check it out here.

Organize it!

A series of blogs focused on keeping an organized house. It includes entries on household organization as well as general tips and ideas on running a household.

Small toys/crayons


Little toys and crayons seem to be easily spread throughout the house. It always seems in the middle of the night my barefoot feet find them on the dark living room floor. OUCH! Crayon boxes in my house fall apart or get ripped. Is it just me or are the boxes just as problematic as the actual crayons?


Well, here is my solution for small toys, hair ties, crayons or any small items you want to keep together. I went to Target and found these glass jars. Target has a wide variety of sizes and shapes for decent prices. There were plastic ones too if you have problems with your kids breaking glass.  I picked out ones that had a wide mouth to them so the kids could easily get their hands into the jars without getting stuck. I also looked for jars that stored easily on my shelves. In the picture below you can see that two of these jars fit on one shelf next to other toys. It helps make everything look a bit neater! Not only do these jars keep the items contained when not in use but it also helps with clean-up since the kids know right where to put their items.


What do think? Do you use jars to store or save items? If so, what do you store in yours?

My Legacy Part 1- What influences a legacy?

I feel like I’m surrounded by loss right now. My mother has almost completely slipped away into a dementia fog and daddy-in-law is on the brink of meeting God in person. As I sit here, trying to concentrate on my work, my mind is thinking about when I’m gone. What will people say about me? What kind of legacy have I left? Are the words people would use to describe me positive? Is my legacy one I would be proud leaving?

Several years ago, I never thought I’d have this life. None of my visions for the future included my two brown-eyed angels and they didn’t include the title wife. My visions included me living alone in an old farm-house with a couple of labs to keep me company. My vision for the future had me living miles away from anyone.  If you asked me back then about what I thought would happen when I died, my answer would’ve been bleak. I would assume that no one would notice or miss my absence. Sure a few people would attend the funeral but no one would talk much about me afterward and I’d quickly fade into non-existence. And, as sad as that may seem, it really didn’t bother me. I was lost and disconnected from the world and most people. As in so many cases, God had other plans for me. I met my husband and well, as they say, everything else was history.


Now, I see things very differently. I have two amazing children whose big brown eyes I see every time I close my eyes. Their sweet voices fill my thoughts and dreams. Mommy is my favorite title above all others. I long to hold their warm bodies pressed against my after a long day at work. I look forward to putting them in bed at night. After a long day’s work, I look forward for my husband to come home and to feel his strong arms hold me at night. He is the rock of this family (even if he doesn’t realize it). I know, my place will always be right by both my husband’s and children’s sides. Now the thought of not being in this world to help guide my children and be a companion for my husband makes my heart ache. I know if I were gone, they would be heart-broken and sad. And as my husband says, he would be inconsolable for at least 10 mins 😉 He’s of course joking about it only taking 10 minutes to get over me ( I am after all, pretty awesome! 😉 )but it does illustrate how I’m now connected to people. I have a legacy.

So, what will this legacy look like? Only God knows and time will tell. I do know that I’m working very hard to mold that legacy. Because even though we don’t think about it every day, we are doing just that, molding our legacy. How I raise my kids, the values and beliefs I instill in them will determine who they become and who they marry. It will influence how they parent their kids and how my grand kids parent and raise my great-grandkids and so on. Likewise, I must credit the same experiences that left me feeling unconnected in my late teens to early 20’s to my legacy. Those experiences that lead up to those feelings and those experiences during that time influence how I raise my kids. So, you see, even my deepest secrets and experiences will also impact my legacy.

Now it leaves me to thinking what AM I leaving behind when I’m gone? I plan to write a second and third part addressing what I’m hoping to teach to each my children and what I hope people will say about me. These will be the lessons I hope my children learn and will provide insight to what I want my legacy to be. Have you thought about your legacy? What do you want to instill in your children? What would you like others to remember about you.

20130103_134314It’s that time of year again! How in the world did another year pass so quickly? The new year is a time to purchase new calendars and start the year fresh. The picture above is of the pretty new calendar my husband gave me. It’s a good time to reflect on the year that passed and the year to come. Naturally, many people make resolutions and plans for the future.

A few weeks ago I was in the car, listening to a local Christian station and first heard the concept of one word resolutions or one word to sum up your resolutions. I really liked that idea. So, this year, even though I have specific resolutions, I searched for one word that I felt summed them all up. The word I chose was HEALTH. 

Definition: the state of being free from illness; a person’s mental or physical condition. 

I want to work on health in all aspects of my life, not just limited to my physical condition. My goal this year is to look at all the situations and consider its “health”. Although I’m making two specific resolutions, I’m planning on looking/examining everything and considering whether its healthy. For example, do we have a “healthy” budget (or are we overspending)? How does this activity affect my spiritual health? How can I improve my home management to make it “healthier”? Get it?

My specific resolutions this year are as follows: fitness/weight loss and household management. But before I get too involved into what I want to accomplish, I want to tell you what I’ve accomplished last year.

Last year I realized I was less than 10 years away from when my mom had her first stroke (she was quite young). Quickly following that realization came the one that I was out of shape and had several extra pounds. So, I resolved to start exercising. During the winter I started using my elliptical at about 20 mins and worked myself up to 45 mins (yaay me!). I first started not lifting weights and by the end of the year now I’ve made tremendous improvements in my strength training. Then in the spring I started training for a 5K. I took the training slow basically following the couch to 5K with a few adaptations. I jogged my first 5K in Aug and continued on to jog a total of 4 between Aug and the beginning of Oct. At to end the year I was back on my elliptical 4-5 times a week with a goal of doing 30-45 mins at a time and lifting 3-5 days a week.  I’ve lost a little over 20 lbs last year which is a great start to my overall weight loss plan.


This year’s fitness/weight loss goal is three-fold: 1) jog a 10K planned for September 2) jog  a 5K in under 38 mins 3) work on losing another 20 lbs. My plan: exercise 4-5 days a week to include 30-45 mins on my elliptical or jogging and weight lifting. I also plan to track calories to help in the weight loss.

My resolution for household management is to put together a cleaning schedule and stick to it! This way I don’t feel so overwhelmed trying to get everything done. I also hope it helps me to stay on top of some of those less frequent household cleaning things (like dusting). I’ve made my first step in creating a monthly cleaning schedule. I plan to start implementing it next week. I anticipate there may be some adjustments made as I go but I’m certain this well help me have a “healthier’ household management.

So that’s it, my New Years resolutions. And, you might think I’m done, but I’m not. I’ve felt led to pick a Bible verse to focus on this year. I can already anticipate some difficult times ahead and I know I will need something to help me provide strength for my family. For me, my strength comes from God and his words. Knowing this, I’ve decided I should pick one verse that I can keep close to my hear this year to help comfort me and encourage me. The verse I chose is this:

Trust in the Lord always with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I personally like this verse because it helps to remind me that I am not in this alone. It reminds God watches over me and I don’t have to feel like I need to do it alone. And quite frankly, I need to remind myself that I don’t have to control everything because well, God actually controls everything.

Did you make any resolutions? Please feel free to share, I would love to hear from you!

When talking with your children about money, do you think about what language you use? I recently had a thought, a simple fleeting thought. Well, more of a fleeting question. Does the language we use when speaking to our kids about money matters, matter? This was followed-up by, Do my kids think we’re poor? My kids are 2.5 and 4.5 years-old. I know, some of you may think this is really young to have any sort of financial conversation. And I would agree they are really too young to sit down and have a conversation discussing finances and why we do what we do. However, I know my daughter (the 4.5 year-old) is listening and absorbing all of our conversations.

I listened to my kids playing downstairs with their daddy while I put the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. Listening to my daughter talk excitedly, reminded me of several weeks ago I and her were shopping at Target. (On a side note, as a family we had just begun a stricter budget- cash only.) She saw a toy, I can’t remember what it was, and asked, in that same excited tone, if I could get it for her. It wasn’t overly expensive but I was running low on cash. My response was that it was too expensive right now. She then repeated it back and asked if it costs $50, it only cost $15 but I let her believe it was $50 since in her head that’s how much “too much” was.


As I was re-thinking this today, I began wondering what I’ve said about finances to her. I’ve used the “its too much” and many other versions of this. I’ve used “we don’t have the money for it”. And most recently, “wait and see what you’re getting for Christmas”. What do these things tell her? Do they portray to her that we live on a budget because we WANT to or because we HAVE to? Does it put any fear in her about our financial security?

A long time ago, I read an article about kids and financial perceptions. I don’t remember much about it, but what I do remember is that kids have perceptions and thoughts on financial stability of the family younger than I’d imagined. They have fear associated with their perceptions if they perceive insecurity. This most often was the case in families that were ACTUALLY in financial distress or a parent had lost a job. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if our recent change in financial philosophy could cause my children insecurity.

Our family is not in financial stress. We simply made the change to cut back on excess spending in order to increase our savings in hopes of moving next spring. We want to have a cushion that we’ve not had since the kids arrived. As a couple, my husband and I decided credit card spending increases those spontaneous buys (in the past I would have bought her the $15 dollar toy without a blink of the eye). Spending only cash keeps us on budget.

When I was growing up I knew from a very young age that we were poor. I knew that we didn’t have much food at the end of the month. I knew my mom looked forward to school returning in the fall because she wouldn’t have to worry about feeding us lunch. Even in elementary school I knew that I had to take care of my tennis shoes because if they got holes in them, I would most likely still be wearing them. Quite frankly, I worried about the finances.

I want to teach my children about finances and budgeting. I want them to learn that we should save up for things and only buy things when we truly have the money. These lessons will extend far into their adulthood and hopefully help set them up for financial intelligence. Most importantly, I want these lesson to be positive and not shed a negative light.

Which brings me back to, does the language we us matter? I say, yes. Words have specific connotations attached to them. Some words are negative and others are positive. Take the words Poor and Rich, which one seems more positive? Ok, so that’s obvious. What about the words poor and budget? What about the feelings associated phrases? Too expensive vs can’t afford it? What about can’t afford it vs not in the budget? Or Save for it vs too expensive? What really is a better way to phrase it? Personally, I need to think about it for a while to make sure I’m choosing a phrase that’s conveying what I really want my children to know.

Taking budgeting, saving, and financial health a step further, we have an activity to help our children learn about “saving up” for that desired toy. It’s not allowance per say. It’s the sticker system. Each child has a card with their name above a grid. They have specific activities that are age appropriate and promote positive behaviors. They then earn stickers by doing their assigned activities/behaviors. When the card is full, they get to trade it in for approximately a $10 toy (If it’s a few dollars over I don’t mind and if they are a couple of dollars under we don’t add up unless its $5 or less). If they want something more expensive, they save up cards. My daughter earns her stickers by 1) staying in her bed all night 2) getting dressed in the morning and recently added 3) not complaining about the food I’m serving. My son earns stickers by 1) peeing in the potty in the morning 2) staying in his bed all night and 3) not complaining about the food I’m serving.

I like this activity for multiple reasons. One, it helps curb some of the challenging behaviors we’ve had in our house. Two, it teaches them to save up for something 3) teaches them value in their things (after all, they worked hard!). They are so excited when they get to trade-in the card for something they’ve been waiting for. When they’ve got a card that’s not already dedicated to an item, it’s a lot of fun watching them pick something. This is especially true for my daughter, she weighs each item and looks at everything her card can buy. She puts thought in her purchases.

Do you talk with your kids on budgeting/finances? If so, what language do you use? Do you have a reward system similar to our card system?

Do you