Thursday, October 28, 2010


Everyone knows by now that I am a little bit of a perfectionist. I expect the best from myself, from my family, from my friends. I often set myself up for failure and disappointment when I do that. I know that. I accept it, but it doesn't mean I've learned to live with it.

School started back on Monday after a long, fabulous three week break. I came back to work to chaos because I hadn't really planned or prepared much during the break. But, I pulled it together pretty quickly and my kids have been responsive to the things we're doing. Midway through the day on Monday, I noticed my voice starting to waiver. I attributed to talking more and louder than I had in weeks, and to the layer of sawdust that had blown in through the permanently semi-open window when the huge old oaks were cut outside my room.

However, three days later, I'm in absolute misery. My head hurts, my ears hurt, my throat hurts, I can't hear, I can't talk, and I'm coughing. Time for a visit to the doctor. To no one's surprise, she pumped me full of antibiotics to cure the ear/sinus infection and some decongestant to thin out the gunk. So, I'm sick. It's official.

The problem is the timing. This week just doesn't work for me. Tomorrow is Audrey's birthday and I had planned to take the day off and accompany her class to the pumpkin patch. Doc says that is a bad idea. Audrey disagrees. Tomorrow night, we have tickets to see a play at the Opera House, which is part of my awesome birthday gift from John. My house is a MESS. I need to clean up and cook, and then, of course, clean up again. Family is coming Saturday morning for Audrey's birthday brunch. I'll usher them out the door just in time to welcome in a gaggle of five and six year old girls in their pajamas for our non-sleepover PJ party. Gotta get the cupcakes baked for that. Sunday, we'll have church, Sunday School, and a chili potluck Harvest Party after church. Maybe a mini-nap will happen before Trick or Treat on Sunday night.

I'm thinking I need to be 100% to do all this. I'm not. I am about 65% right now. I've been advised by many to let go, not to worry, and such. The problem is, I want to be Supermom. I thrive on it. I want to please everyone, do it all just right, and never, ever disappoint. In my quest to be perfect, I fear that I might just be missing the point of it all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Progress, perhaps?

I sat down tonight and worked on school plans...yuck! However, I realized it is a 7 1/2 week quarter, so that was a good thing. It motivated me to get plans at least outlined for two of my courses. Now, I feel less hopeless than I did before.

I have also been struggling with my boys in a big way. Sam is extremely stubborn and just a different kind of kid. He wants to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Jackson is just loud and very, very physical. He has to touch everything. He doesn't like to slow down or to listen. These are personality traits that are very much NOT like me, so I just have a hard time relating to why they behave the way they do sometimes.

Another part of my struggle is even more frustrating and embarrassing. They will not poop in the potty. They are four years old. It is making me crazy. I have read every article on potty training, searched for help, asked my pediatrician...and nothing is helping. I know, I know...they will go, eventually. But in the meantime, I am soooo frustrated and TIRED of poopy underwear. Ugh!

Their overall behavior is really starting to bother me. Wednesday night at church, Jack would not listen to me. AT ALL. He was defiant and thought it was funny. John wasn't there yet, and if I weren't the study leader for our class, I would have dragged him down the sidewalk and headed home. Sam pooped his pants at Children's Choir after we had taken him twice and the teacher had taken him once. It was really hard for me to hang on and not loose my cool.

I stumbled across a blog, Homestead Wannabees, which is in my blog list, and Jackie, the mom who writes it, had a great idea about a pyramid of consequences. She explains it really well, so pop over and check her story out. Anyway, I made one and I made a jar of prizes they can draw from if they don't move past the first level all day. The prizes are quarters, pick a movie, Wii time, and easy stuff they love. Tonight, Sam had to go to the second level, and didn't get a prize, so hopefully seeing Audrey and Jack get one will motivate him.

I am also being more intentional about praying for my children and their specific needs. I prayed out loud for them at dinner tonight and asked God to help them have listening ears. I told them they needed to remember to pray for that, too. I am going to dig out my copy of Stormie O'Martian's Power of a Praying Parent and see if she has any specific advice for this. I honestly don't know where else to turn but to God on this one. It is something that is beyond my control.

Anyway, I feel like I've turned a corner, at least a little, in that I am not as discouraged tonight as I have been earlier this week. I am praying for all of the other moms out there who are struggling with the same things, or even worse! As frustrated as I have been, I know it could be so much worse. I am thankful for the health of my beautiful children. Everything else will work itself out in God's time.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back to the real world...

My fall break is almost over. I am proud of the success I've had with many of the goals I set for myself. With the exception of the goals about exercise and quitting Diet Coke, I've met them all! Now, I must face reality and begin planning for the upcoming quarter of school. I'm a little scared. When I begin to think about how busy I will be when school resumes on Monday, I start to panic. I have so much to do and so little time!

Here is an overview of "stuff" I'll be doing next week...

Saturday- attending a wedding of a co-worker. Exciting!
Sunday-Church, Sunday School, and planning meeting at church in the evening.
Monday- Back to work, staff meeting, last soccer game.
Tuesday- AM Meeting, Work
Wednesday- Work, Dinner at church, Wednesday Night Bible Study
Thursday- Work
Friday- Personal day! Audrey's birthday and her class field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. John and I have tickets to see "Spring Awakening" at the Opera House
Saturday- Family birthday party @ 11, friends party @ 5
Sunday- Church, Sunday School, All-Saints Day party, Trick or Treat.

Whew. I am tired just thinking about it! Somewhere in there, I'll need to prep for Halloween treats and party food for the birthday girl. Fortunately, all my meals are in the freezer, so I have one less thing to worry about throughout the week.

So, what else can I do in the next three days to make sure my sanity stays in tact??
I can...
  • Make a list of all party foods to serve and plan when to prepare them
  • Buy the Halloween candy and hide it
  • Lay out clothes for everyone for next week
  • Buy, wrap, and hide Audrey's birthday gift
  • Make and post a master to-do list for next week and check off tasks as completed
  • Clean and de-clutter as much as possible
  • Plan my lessons for the week, make sure all copies are made

In case you haven't noticed, I like having a list! It makes me feel like I can control the situation and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I actually feel better right now than when I started this post! I feel more organized and settled. I am not as panicked as I was. I might just survive going back to school!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Laity Sunday

Today was Laity Sunday at First United Methodist Church. Our worship leader, David Goins, asked me to be one of the speakers. I accepted, then procrastinated planning my remarks until last night. Here's what I said, in case you weren't there to hear it yourself!

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. For those of you who aren't familiar with Crohn's, it is an autoimmune disease that attacks the gastrointestinal system. It isn't a very glamorous disease- and certainly not a convenient one. At that time, my boys had just turned two and Audrey was almost four. As a teacher, a wife, and a
mother, I needed all of my strength to get through my busy days.

But I didn't get a choice in my diagnosis, and Crohn's it was. In a way, it was comforting to finally know what was causing the bizarre symptoms I'd been coping with for years. And while Crohn's isn't curable, it is manageable, so I began treatment to get my symptoms under control.

About that same time, I was also faced with a sort of spiritual crisis. I guess a life threatening illness will do that to you! While I had complete faith that I would eventually be healed, I was lacking in the emotional strength to get through on a day to day basis. I prayed. My friends and family prayed. I was on every prayer list at every church around. I would write Bible verses on post-its and stick them all over my desk at work so that I was constantly reminded of the greatness of God's power.

I especially liked Jeremiah 29:11-14. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."

The thing was, no matter how hard I looked, I just couldn't find Him. After Audrey was born, John and I decided to move to Frankfort, which meant leaving our church in Lexington. We had a hard time getting settled in a church here and as a result, my spiritual life had deteriorated. At the time of my illness, we were active in a church, but it felt more like I was just going through the motions rather than engaging in a real relationship with God. I knew something was missing, but I didn't realize that the answer was right under my nose.

I came in and out of this building every day to bring my kids to First Care. I was friendly with other parents who happened to attend the Good News at Nine service. They continually showed concern for me, invited me to church, kept me updated on things that were happening here, and just made me feel loved. John knew how spiritually restless I was and we had many conversations about what we were looking for in a church home. We wanted a place with people who had servants' hearts. A place where things were happening, where we could be active and engaged. A place that was exciting. Church had become a chore for me, an obligation to check off my to-do list, and I knew it could be so much more.

We agreed to give First Church a try and we were instantly surrounded by a loving and supportive church family. We started coming regularly, plugged into a Sunday School class, and I joined the HOPE circle. I found the joy that had been lacking in my spiritual life. And, while I was still very ill, I began to find that I was growing stronger though the support of the people here. One Sunday, I was sharing that I was pretty sure I needed surgery, but I was out of sick leave time and I was going to try to put surgery off until school was out. Everyone in my Sunday School class began offering to donate sick time or do whatever was needed to help me out. When I did have surgery, they brought me meals, visited me, and prayed for me.

The past two years have brought many challenges and changes in my life. My Crohn's is now in remission and I feel better than I have in years, both physically and spiritually. I am grateful everyday that I continued to seek the Lord and that I found him here in this church and in the hearts of the people in our Good News at Nine family.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Freezer Cookin' Friday!

Today, I decided to stock my freezer. I have been meaning to do this for a while, but it hasn't happened yet. I made it happen today.

I prepared triple batches of the following:

  • Cranberry Chicken
  • Beef Bowtie Bake
  • Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
  • Chili

All but the chili came from the Don't Panic! cookbooks, with my adaptations. The chili is mine. Tomorrow, I will bake some cornbread as well...I just got tired today! Plus, I baked a pan of brownies and made a salad to take over to a friend who is moving and feeding her volunteer labor force.

Later, I will post pictures and a cost breakdown of the meals. My goal was to be as cost effective as possible. I shopped at Sav-a-Lot and Kroger, kept a detailed list of the amount I paid for each item, and bought as much on sale as I could. I think I did well. Without the receipts handy,I am going to estimate that cranberry chicken was the priciest meal at about $8...but it serves 4 to 6, so I feel pretty good about that. The pasta dishes were probably around $6 or so, and serve 4-6. You can't beat that!!!

I plan on baking some homemade bread this weekend, too...never done that before and I am not a great baker, so we'll see how that turns out.

I have opened so many cans of tomatoes, beans, sauce, etc, that my arms got a great workout! I am proud of myself, excited to get the final tallies on the prices, and completely exhausted!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marvelous Monday

I had an ambitious to do list today and I've completed quite a bit of it already! I tackled the clutter in the hutch in our kitchen. It is a catch all for stuff I'm not quite sure what to do with. I threw out old candles, cheap flower vases, and loads of paper scraps of old mail, etc. It looks less like a danger zone now. Honestly, I was a little afraid to open the doors before!

I've started an Oreo Cheesecake in the crockpot. I got the recipe from Stephanie O'Dea's A Year of Slow Cooking blog. I did not make the gluten free version and I didn't have heavy cream, so I used half and half. We'll see how it turns out! I've never done dessert in the crockpot.

For dinner tonight is an Old-Fashioned Beef Casserole, from a new cookbook I bought last week, The $7 A Meal Cookbook by Linda Larsen. It is simple...ground beef, rice, carrots, onions, cream of mushroom soup, and parmesan cheese. I'll probably top with a little casserole blend cheese, too, just because my kids tend to try new things with less prompting if they are covered in cheese. Or ranch dressing.

Audrey loves to clean the bathrooms, so I let her tackle that. I need to teach her to love laundry, too. That would be huge!

Left on my list:
  • Fold and put away laundry. (Grrrrr...didn't I just do that????)
  • Reading time with Audrey.
  • Start The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. I read it years ago...would like to do it again.
  • Dollar General Store--- new hamper for my bedroom.

Short of laundry, I think I have tackled the most difficult and undesirable tasks.

On my master to-do list, I am still lacking in the exercise department. I promise, promise, promise to do better on that this week!!!

Hope your Monday is marveous as well. I will leave you with this marvelous thought, my prayer for all of you who take the time to read my ramblings:

" But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5: 11

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What I believe...

Today, we started a new Sunday School series studying the Apostles' Creed. It is interesting, because, growing up in a Baptist church, I had never heard of such a thing. When John and I got married and became United Methodists, I would hear it recited, and I would sort of mumble through it. I heard Rich Mullins, and later Third Day, sing it on the radio, and I started to learn it and think a little more about what it says and what it means.

Here's the "traditional" version, found in The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 881:

"I believe in God the Father Almighty
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit ,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen."

There are other variations of the creed, but all of them contain at least this much.

When I began to try to learn it and understand what it meant, my first point of confusion was that it said, "the holy catholic church." What? I thought I was a Methodist! A footnote in the hymnal indicated that catholic meant "universal," and in the song, they say, "one holy church." So, it just meant that all of us who believe these things are one body of believers. I was okay with that.

I am more than okay with all of it, actually. There is nothing in the creed that opposes what I had been taught all my life in Baptist, Pentecostal, Christian, and Methodist churches, and I really truly believe all of it.

But doesn't it leave some things out? Hmm...

What about all those things that people have argued over for centuries? The rules? You know...can women be preachers, do we sprinkle or dunk, and what on earth does the Book of Revelation mean anyway??? All those things that have divided believers for years and driven people away from God's love.

Conspicuously absent.

Now, I know, I know...the creed is a man-made thing. Early believers in the second century recited it as a confession at baptism, and it has evolved over time. It doesn't come from the Bible, chapter and verse. BUT, doesn't it describe everything a Christian is commanded to believe? Isn't it scripturally sound? Maybe, in its simplicity, it is enough.

I guess what I'm saying is this: It is important to know the essentials of what you believe. Know what is absolutely fundamental. Learn it and live it. Cling to it. Everything else? I'll stick with the words of Augustine that John Wesley liked to quote "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday's Update

Checking in... red was yesterday's update, purple is today's.

Here is how I'm doing:
1. Go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. Not yet.
2. Try Zumba Not yet.
3. Cook every day! And freeze things too. YES!
4. Clean out all the closets and get rid of things that don't fit/aren't worn. Mine is done! Kids are done!
5. Get rid of 25 "things" that I don't want/like/need/use anymore. I've done more than 25, but I have lost count! One huge storage bin of books and magazines to half price books, removed one old item of clothing for every new one I purchased, and cleaned out the kids' downstairs toy bins. Much more to go! Today I did the toy room. WOW!
6. Cut out soda all together. None yesterday or today! Still doing without! Yay, I guess! I'd really like a big fountain Diet Coke about right now.
7. Blog everyday. Tried yesterday but couldn't log on. Two out of three days....not so bad! Does another update count?????
8. Read my Bible everyday. Yes, but not as much as I would like.
9. Deep clean every room. No deep cleaning, just decluttering at this point. Upstairs is CLEAN!!!
10. Take care of dental and doctor appointments I've been putting off. One down, several to go!Appointments have been made for my GI doctor, kids checkups, dentist for me, John, and Audrey...all next week.

I think this is good progress for four days of break. I've managed to sneak quite a bit of resting in there, too. Next week is a committed to some doctor/dental appointments and one-on-one time with Audrey. She's been at Mom and Dad's and is coming home tomorrow. I have missed her soooo much. She's such a fun kid!

I still have gobs of school work to do, and I guess I'll do that next week but I just haven't even had any interest in it so far. Oh, well...I have two more weeks left to get to it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Win some mini Grands!

Enter the contest on Living on a Budget...

and win yourself some yummy biscuits!!!!

Checking in!

On Monday, I posted a very ambitious list of goals. It stressed me out Monday because I was so focused on accomplishing my goals that I failed to focus on relaxing and taking care of myself. I refocused a little, and now I am feeling back on track, but not quite so stressed out!

Here is how I'm doing:
1. Go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week. Not yet.
2. Try Zumba Not yet.
3. Cook every day! And freeze things too. YES!
4. Clean out all the closets and get rid of things that don't fit/aren't worn. Mine is done! Kids next!
5. Get rid of 25 "things" that I don't want/like/need/use anymore. I've done more than 25, but I have lost count! One huge storage bin of books and magazines to half price books, removed one old item of clothing for every new one I purchased, and cleaned out the kids' downstairs toy bins. Much more to go!
6. Cut out soda all together. None yesterday or today!
7. Blog everyday. Tried yesterday but couldn't log on. Two out of three days....not so bad!
8. Read my Bible everyday. Yes, but not as much as I would like.
9. Deep clean every room. No deep cleaning, just decluttering at this point.
10. Take care of dental and doctor appointments I've been putting off. One down, several to go!

All things considered, this is decent progress for three days of break. I need to remember to keep this break some, play some, rest some! I need to celebrate the little things so that I am encouraged to accomplish the big ones.

One thing that I have tried to focus on is simplifying. Our family does not need all this "stuff." It doesn't make us happy. It smothers us. Our home would be so much happier if we didn't have so much unnecessary stuff to distract us. That's my priority right now...creating and maintaining a happy, healthy home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doing Fall Break- Domestic Diva Style

Fall break has finally arrived. My body, mind, and soul have been craving this three week long rest. I have so much to do, but I am really looking forward to being super focused on taking care of things at home and not being pulled in a million directions at work!

Here is a list of the things I hope to accomplish over the break:
1. Go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week.
2. Try Zumba
3. Cook every day! And freeze things too.
4. Clean out all the closets and get rid of things that don't fit/aren't worn.
5. Get rid of 25 "things" that I don't want/like/need/use anymore.
6. Cut out soda all together.
7. Blog everyday.
8. Read my Bible everyday.
9. Deep clean every room.
10. Take care of dental and doctor appointments I've been putting off.

It is time to take care of my family and myself. I invest soooooo much energy in other people all week long during the school year, I feel that my family is neglected in the process. Now, during my three week at home retreat, I will tend to our needs and focus all of my efforts on making my home a happy, healthy, well-functioning place.