Last Minute Moms…We Are Enough!

Today I am feeling compelled to encourage my fellow “last minute” moms. You know us as the ones always scrambling, always a bit frazzled, and rarely completely done up head to toe (I personally pick one thing whether it be “real” clothes, make-up on, hair done, etc.).

I know I have thousands of things pinned on Pinterest collecting dust. However, I do know that even when I don’t have great activities planned out or fabulous meals on the table, my kids are for the most part HAPPY.

Ellie’s new thing is to ask me each morning, “What are we doing today?” Usually I have one or two things to tell her, but after each activity it is always the same question: “What’s next?” I often feel bad or guilty that I don’t have something planned and ready to go in the afternoon. While there is nothing wrong with being a planned, Pinterest-worthy mom, (in fact, I salute you!) there is also nothing wrong with leaving room to be creative and come up with things on the fly.

Most of our activities stem from some interests the kids have that day or week. I whipped up our Mailbox activity one day that Ellie was curious and interested in mail. Yesterday we were putting together our new stroller and my husband turned the box into a spaceship that we filled with toys and then let the kids sit inside the box and color. Brilliant!

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I think time that isn’t planned is great for the kids’ creativity too. Ellie will create elaborate tea parties or trips to the zoo all on her own. I’m having a lot of fun seeing what she can imagine.

In closing, I just wanted to encourage you that it is enough to just be present with your kids. Even if we just sit with them and watch a show. Letting them know that we love them and are near them is enough! One day we will get to all those amazing pins on Pinterest. Maybe one day we will even make our snack foods from scratch. But if today isn’t that day, throw a few pouches and fruit snacks in your diaper bag before you head out the door and put a smile on your face because YOU ARE ENOUGH!!

(And if you do want an excellent last minute craft. Find a large box and some crayons. Put your kids in the box with the crayons and voila! fun activity with little to no clean-up)

Rach Signature48

Mexican Rice

Use this recipe with the following recipes to make a full meal
Mexican Taco Cupcakes
Mexican Marinade
Salsa #1
Salsa #2

Mexican Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1(14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1(4 ounce) can diced green chiles (optional)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium (optional, chicken broth)

Directions

In a large skillet or sauce pan add oil, turn to medium-low heat and saute onion until tender, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and continue to saute one additional minute.

Add remaining ingredients, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for approximately 45 minutes or until rice has soaked up the liquid and is tender. (NOTE: The time it takes to cook rice depends on the brand. 35-60minutes)

Remove from heat, leave covered and allow to set 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from http://skinnyms.com

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Decorating on a Budget-Part 2

It is 11:30 pm and Bekah is still sorting and organizing the new home she and Ashkon moved into 2 weeks ago. So I am her ghost writer tonight. Today, we had a successful adventure searching for the best deals we could find. We were looking for creative ways to store useful items in her home in an organized manner. Buying new pieces of furniture was definitely NOT in their budget so we brainstormed all the places that might have things we could use. We hunted for inexpensive things that could be used for functional storage spaces. We saved a lot of time and money by being prepared with all kinds of coupons, discount codes and special apps on our phone. We had a strategy for which stores to start with and what to look for in each store.

Here are some things Bekah did before we left that gave us the upper hand for our “Decorating on a Budget”.

1. Look up each store online to discover their weekly ads and markdowns and print up any available online coupons.

2. Take advantage of the in-store specials.

3. Check to see if the stores you are going to have apps on your phone and have all the items you wish to buy designated before hand on the app. (Target’s Cartwheel app is fantastic!)

4. Check for coupons that come in the mail, in magazines or in flyers that you may have picked up the last time you were in the store. Some stores even give you coupons on your most recent receipt, but you have to keep an eye on the expiration date on those receipt coupons.

5. Check your email for free membership subscribers coupons that come to your inbox once or twice a week and print out any coupons you need. Some of these memberships will text the coupons to you as well.

6. Use your smart phone to check prices for competitors in case the store you are in does price matching. And, if you know that your smart phone shows a lower price than what you see in the store, do not hesitate to ask for the store manager to see if he or she will honor the online coupon or sale price.

7. Pull up the most recent coupons for each store while you are in the store

8. Always remember to ask for Military or Student/Teacher discounts when checking out.

So 5 hours of shopping and 5 hours working in the apartment-building shelves, setting up creative wall units, moving furniture around in a few rooms and filling all kinds of baskets and clear plastic bins we are heading to bed. We even had time to hang a functional shelf and a hat/coat holder. A full day of fun and a home that is almost done. I have a handful of receipts in my purse and every single one of them has a big $$$$$ saved written on the bottom.Mission accomplished!!!

Pictures to follow when Bekah has all her home finished.

Kerry Signature48Bekah Signature48

Redecorating on a Budget

Moving can be stressful, but it can also be fun. The challenge of creating an organized living space on a budget has reminded me of my first 15 years of marriage. We lived in 7 different cities and 13 different homes in those early years, so I became the queen of reorganizing and redecorating on a budget. Today the possibilities are endless with all the retail stores that focus on organizing closets, kitchens, bedrooms etc, but when you are on a tight budget you need to do your research and find the best deals possible.

My daughter and her husband are just settling into their new apartment and I came to give them a hand. They had found a fantastic deal on a dining room table and four chairs but the cushions on the chairs needed to be recovered. So we headed out to the local fabric store with coupons in hand. She chose some beautiful canvas style a pollsters fabric that was on sale and we headed home to recover the cushions.

Start to finish, the project took about 2-3 hours but it was worth the time because the new covers for the chair cushions completely changed the look of the table and chairs. Here are the tools you need.

2 yards heavy duty canvas or upholstery
Staple gun and light duty staples
Screw driver
Scissors

Remove the cushions from the frame work of the chair with your screw driver.image

Place the cushions one by one, face down on wrong side of canvas fabric.
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Cut out squares of fabric the size of the cushion plus 6 extra inches all the way around. ( a 16 by 16 seat cushion needs a piece of fabric cut into a 28 by 28 square)

Place the cushion onto the wrong side of the square of fabric and center it. Begin on one side by pulling the fabric up and over. Fold under at least 2inches to create a finished edge and pull tight over the cushion frame and staple down. Do the same thing on the opposite side. Follow these same directions for the two remaining side making sure to pull tight and keep the cushion centered. Keep the staples to a minimum until you have your corners finished so you can pull the sides tighter at the end.image
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To finish off the corners you must make a fold like you are tucking your bed sheet at the corners. Pull and fold and staple each piece to make a crisp and nicely finished corner.
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Go around the entire frame and pull and staple to secure the fabric all the way around.image

Place the newly covered cushion on the chair frame and screw back in place.image

Repeat these directions for all of your cushions.

Viola, you have a refurbished dining room table.image

One quick and easy way to redecorate on a budget.

What redecorating projects have you tried?

Kerry Signature48

Roar-iffic Lunch

I am on a “simple with a twist” theme. Can you tell? Baby #3 is coming in a couple months, so I’m trying to keep things interesting in very simple ways.

My two girls have been very picky for meal time. I had some success this week making them a “roar-iffic lunch.” They really like lions and making lion sounds, so I decided to make their lunch food into a lion.

They loved it!

I just changed the look of the same foods I have been offering them to make it a new experience. Here is their lion lunch:

photo(3)Frozen waffle with butter, blueberry smile, cheese mane, freeze dried strawberry ears and nose, raisin eyes.

The silly lion faces made lunch fun. We also talked about the different parts of the face (eyes, ears, nose, mouth), which made it a fun learning experience.

There are so many little things we can change in small ways that make a big different with our kids. This lunch was fun for me to make and fun for the girls to eat.

How do you keep things exciting for your kids in simple ways?

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Interruptions

Switchback at the base of Cape Smokey, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Is your day so scheduled that you have no room for anything else? Do you run from one thing to the next? Is your vision so focused just so you can get through your day? Is there room for spontaneity? Where’s the space for anything else that may come your way? What if we were open to having our world interrupted. What if we weren’t so set on our own schedule that we could “interrupt” someone else’s world (in a good way)?

Let’s look at Acts chapter 8. The church was growing. The gospel was spreading. The apostles were journeying to new places. They were willing to leave their comfortable place. They were obedient to go without knowing the exact destination or the future. They were determined. They knew their purpose. They were set in their obedience and their journey, but not set in their schedule. They were willing to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. They were willing to step out in faith. They were looking to see God in the unique things that happened on the journey. They were open to opportunity.

The Ethiopian in Acts chapter 8 was not someone that Philip would ordinary seek out. But Philip heard him reading and went to him. Philip was not preoccupied with what he wanted for himself or what his own plan held. Philip was willing to listen to the Lord. Philip got the opportunity to help the Ethiopian. He got to help him not only understand the gospel, but baptize him in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As soon as the Ethiopian understood the good news of Jesus and wanted to instantly take action in his own life. He didn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be baptized. Now that he understood the truth, there was only one way to live. If Philip hadn’t been willing to go to him, the Ethiopian would have never known the good news and would have never experienced transformed life.

The crazy thing about this story is the disappearing act at the end.  As soon as Philip baptized the Ethiopian, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away.  I don’t understand exactly how this would have happened or what took place after this event.  But it didn’t seem to matter. What is important is that Philip was taken out of the picture. It wasn’t about Philip. It was about the Lord. The Lord just used Philip in his plan.

As we follow Christ, he is going to bring circumstances in which he wants to use us. But it isn’t about us. It is all about the Lord. It is about His plan and His purpose. But He cannot use us if we are not willing. So we have to be open to opportunity. Be obedient to follow. Go on a journey. Let the Lord lead. Take the next step. Take action. Be obedient to listen to the Holy Spirit and look for Jesus. And take a risk. Be uncomfortable. Be willing.

LOOK FOR INTERRUPTIONS. Let people interrupt you, or interrupt someone else.

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Roasted Veggies

Vegetables are always a staple side dish in our family! They usually get eaten within the first 5 minutes after being prepared- so if you are ever over for dinner, you better be on your game to get your fair share of the veggies ;)  Here is a quick and easy way to roast your vegetables in the oven…

Combo #1: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts [Halved] (I used Broccoli and Cauliflower)

Combo #2: Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Bell Peppers

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What Else You Need:
— Cookie Sheet with a High Rim
— Foil
— Olive Oil
–Your Choice of Seasoning (I used Complete Seasoning and Garlic Powder)

WHAT TO DO:

1. Choose your combo of vegetables and chop them up. Place a sheet of foil on the cookie sheet and all the veggies on top.

2. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle seasoning over the veggies.

3. Place in the oven to roast veggies at 450 for ten minutes. Continue at 350 for another 10 minutes. At this point, check them and continue at the low heat if needed.

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What is your favorite way to eat vegetables?

Bekah Signature48

Disappointment and Discouragement Become Hope and Desire

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” Proverbs 13:12

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

Screenshot 2014-08-19 12.52.43Disappointment and discouragement can come at any time and from almost any situation. Often disappointment comes when you least expect it and before you know it you have slipped into discouragement, frustration, confusion and temporary irrational thinking. If you are a person who loves the anticipation of an upcoming event, like I do, then the progression from disappointment to irrational thinking can occur quickly and turn your life into emotional chaos.

I was the unlucky recipient of a bit of news this past week that quickly set me on a roller coaster of emotions and took me on the challenging ride from disappointment to discouragement before I could catch my breath. Compared to many of the VERY difficult things I have faced in my life, I am surprised that I was so thrown off by this seemingly insignificant curveball that was thrown my way. Sitting here this morning, 4 days after the disappointing news, with a better perspective on the whole situation, it is a bit hard to understand how and why my disappointment moved so quickly to discouragement. And with discouragement come the inability to think creatively and problem solve effectively.

My husband and I have saved and dreamed and planned for a VERY long time to go on a Pilgrimage to Israel. We were in the planning stages 3 years ago to celebrate both of our 40th spiritual birthdays, but the trip had to be postponed for a GREAT reason-both of our older daughters were pregnant and one of them was having twins-such a blessing, but not an appropriate time to be overseas. So this fall seemed to be the perfect time to go on our pilgrimage. We had been excitedly preparing for the past few months. This would be the trip of a lifetime with, until things started heating up politically over there and our trip was canceled.

I knew in my heart that I could be patient once again for the perfect time to go to the Holy Land and I understood the practicalities of NOT going into a political hotspot, from a safety standpoint. So rationally, I knew in my head that the decision was wise and yet I was so terribly disappointed. What I was not prepared for was how quickly my disappointment turned to discouragement and emotional confusion. After much discussion and many tears (I am embarrassed to admit), we have come to the conclusion that it is OK to be disappointed but the important thing is that my husband and I will still be able to spend some quality time together, we will still be able to make wonderful memories and explore places we have never been before and it is up to me to have a good attitude. So rather than mourn the loss of a dream, I will trust that the hope of that dream being fulfilled will come to pass someday at the perfect time for both of us. I will be grateful that I get to go on a wonderful adventure with my husband, even though we will not be going overseas and we will see what God has in store for us together during this time.

We then were faced with a dilemma-cancel the entire vacation or plan another adventure during the same time frame. Since it is so difficult for my husband to schedule time off, we decided to plan an alternate vacation. But because I am the one who plans every detail of all of our vacations and I was so emotionally distraught those first few days, the thought of planning a 2 week vacation in a matter of a few days seemed overwhelming. A wise woman, (one of my precious daughters) gave me some sound advice when I was struggling with my disappointment and discouragement over the loss of the “dream” of our perfect celebration. She challenged me (and my hubby-her Poppa) to write down three things that we WANT to accomplish with this block of time we have to spend together and to write down three things we do NOT WANT to have happen. We spent some time writing down our wishes, our fears and our desires and it turned out that we wanted the same things-time together, doing something new (an outdoor adventure) and not being rushed. My husband was NOT interested in spending too much money and I was most concerned about having to plan all the details by myself in such a short amount of time and to be perfectly honest I was afraid that if we stayed in the USA where internet is freely available that my husband would be able to work during our vacation (which really does NOT appeal to me). So we agreed on the parameters and I “got to work” yesterday to plan our adventure and although there were moments of discouragement, I was able to keep at it with many encouraging phone calls from my husband to cheer me on and at midnight last night we had a grand adventure planned that we are both excited about. God is in the midst and with Him all things are possible!!! (Pictures from our adventure will be added to this post next month.)

“I have sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

When have you experienced a disappointment and how did you handle it?

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Attitude Adjustment

I love when a friend shares something on social media that I really need to hear. A few days ago, a friend posted an article titled, “6 Ways Changing My Perspective Helped Stop My Kid’s Tantrums.” I almost didn’t read it, but lately I’ve been feeling helpless during my own kid’s tantrums. I’m so glad I took the time to read this blog because it was so helpful!

What really got me from the start was her quote, “It wasn’t until I changed my reaction to his tantrums and realized my job was to teach him how to calm himself that his tantrums ended.” I knew my anger during the tantrums was not helping, but gosh, silly tantrums make me angry! Especially in the car! There is nowhere for me to hide.

Here 6 tips were so simple, and just what I needed to hear. One of my favorite lines from her blog states, “My son needs to know I love him no matter what and not feel like he’s a bad kid for freaking out.”

I tried some of her tips today during not one, but TWO major tantrums. Two tantrums plus my pregnancy insomnia, girls waking up an hour early, and many other mini meltdowns would have normally been a recipe for quite the angry mom. But you know what? I didn’t yell or get angry. NOT ONCE!

The tantrums were pretty long and pretty loud, but I clearly saw how my attitude and my perspective influenced the duration and outcome of the tantrums. My daughter calmed down all on her own. By the second tantrum she said “sorry” all on her own. I ignored the screaming, kicking, throwing things and came up with positive ways to let her have space and calm herself down rather than telling her to “stop.” I saw how clearly my own attitude was fueling the fire during her tantrums in the stark differences of her tantrums today.

I really appreciated the perspective from this blog post and hope you find it helpful. I have also started reading “Grace Based Parenting” by Tim Kimmel. I am only two chapters in, but I am so excited about this book already. How can I not be excited about a book that has a forward by Max Lucado stating, “Tim knows families. And he knows how to help ours. Tim helps us grasp what it is our children need most from us. And, just as importantly, he gives us practical, good-sense ways to give our children the security of unconditional, grace-filled love. In doing so, Tim helps us give our children the greatest gift: a heart that yearns for God.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Read this book.”

I am so excited to keep working on my own attitude to help me be a better, more loving parent!

I am so excited to keep working on my own attitude to help me be a better, more loving parent!

What are your favorite parenting books? What has helped you when your child has a tantrum?

Rach Signature48

Not So 50/50

When we are spending time with people, I think most of us want those relationships to look a certain way.  We want the friendship or relationship to go both ways, be reciprocal, have a give and take, or be somewhere close to “50/50″. It’s pretty normal to have that perspective about most things. With friends, family, coworkers, classmates, whoever it is, there is a certain level of expectation that relationships go two ways. It’s an investment. And with investments there is usually something received in return.

But here’s my dilemma… what if Christ loved us under those conditions? What if Christ only loved us if we loved him first.  What if he loved us the more we did for him? It’s a good thing that this is so far from how to characterize Christ’s love. Christ’s love is unconditional. He doesn’t ask us to come half way. He comes all the way, no matter how far into the depths that all the way is. He doesn’t ask anything of us, except for us to let Him in. There is no formula, no agenda, no guideline. Just LOVE. It reaches beyond anything we can even imagine. We can’t even picture how much He loves us because it is just too big.  Nothing we ever do will earn more love or take away His love. We don’t deserve it. We don’t even know how to fully understand it.  But we can receive it.

So we say we love as Christ loves, but do we really?  Don’t we usually have some sort of agenda lurking in the background? We say we are giving and loving people and don’t expect anything from them but I am not sure if that is always the truth. Maybe you are struggling today with your expectations of people and feeling let down.  Remember that Christ will never forsake you or leave you.  Keep striving to experience more of His love in your own life, and also overflow and love others with the abundance of love. Of course our friendships with people are going to look a little different than a relationship with Christ, but knock someone’s socks off with how much you love them.  Get excited to love without expecting anything in return. Christ calls us to love God and love people.  Although we can in no way reach the level of his love for us, we can strive to love him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. And out of that love for him we will be compelled to share that love with other people.

Christ has written on our hearts the desire for relationship.  We just get it a little confused in our humanness when we think more about what we want rather than the needs of others.  Don’t try to have 50/50 relationship. Don’t keep score.  Have 100/0 relationship and see how much you can bless others. Be willing to give more than you get. When Jesus loved Zacheus he wasn’t trying to get some deal on his taxes.  When Jesus reached out to the woman at the well, He had no hidden agenda. When Jesus fed the 5,000 it wasn’t so people would give him food in return.  He served, acted, moved, breathed and spoke in love.  He defines love. He encompasses love. He is LOVE.

Philippians 2:1-11 “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Pick one way to show Christ’s love. Let us know how it goes by commenting!

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