31 July 2014

Emptying Your Pantry

Being Frugal

Since I am watching every penny, packing up the house, and trying to be frugal, I have decided to grocery shop less and use up what I have in the pantry.

I figure this will help with having to worry about packing loads of pantry and cabinet items and it will save money too.

So on Sunday night I made a weekly menu using only the meats and canned food and pantry items I had in the fridge.  Usually I just choose whatever I feel like eating and on Monday go food shopping and pick up all the ingredients.  We have been so spoiled to live like that.

After looking at my pantry/cabinet/fridge stock I found that I could easily make the following meals this week:

Monday: chicken soup with potatoes 
Tuesday: Tuna melts with corn on the side
Wednesday: Baked potatoes w/sour cream, cheddar cheese and broccoli
Thursday: Beef stew
Friday: Leftovers

I refuse to go food shopping this week.  I am not going til Saturday when I can shop alone and John will be home.  And I only plan on buying milk, bread, eggs, bananas, and apples the only things we run out of weekly.

So far my plan is working and my pantry stock is getting smaller!  I love it.  This has been a really fun challenge for me.  I'm hoping I can keep it up until baby gets here.  When she comes I plan on hiring a male cook...his name will be John :).

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30 July 2014

Mommy Camp

Old Bridge Public Library

Making The Most of Summer

I have decided to not start school until after Amelia is born and possibly after Labor Day weekend.  I was going to start August 3rd and get a head start before the baby came but we packed all my homeschool things up and until we are settled into our new home I really can't even think about school.  I guess that is the beauty of homeschool.

So, that leaves the rest of August to keep the kids busy.   This week is our last week of a Vacation Bible School so our next full open week of nothing starts next week and you know me--we will not be doing nothing...even if I am 9 months pregnant these kids will have structure and fun and things to do to keep them happy and busy.

I have decided to structure our days as following since Micah still takes a nap and since I really can't be out all day in the heat this pregnant.

Activity 1

Outing

Activity 2

Lunch

Break

Activity 3

Dinner

Bath

Books

This is the only way I will survive the next few weeks before we move and before Amelia comes.  Honestly all I want to do is lay in bed and drink water and eat grapes, but since I can't we must press on and be productive with our time.



Activity 1 will most likely be something like reading a few books, coloring, or writing in our summer journal.

Outing time will consist of going to a park while it's still cool out, going to the library for story/play time, meeting up with friends at the pool, or running errands.

Activity 2 is usually back yard time because there are no mosquitoes out yet and the kids ride bikes and play while I fix lunch.

After lunch we all usually head downstairs to watch a short movie or we have Drop Everything and Read Time.

Activity 3 is going to be artsy: craft time, painting, play dough, or possibly baking!

Then the kids will wash hands, set the table and we will eat dinner.

This is usually when I beg/text John to hurry home.  We then do bath time/showers and all the kids read on their beds til dad gets home.

It's called Mommy Camp.  We all do variations of it.  We keep our kids busy and occupied while enjoying their company.

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29 July 2014

The Scary Mom At The Park

When Confrontation Gets Scary

So, it was just a normal play date at the park with me and some mom friends and our 9.5 kids (I'm counting Amelia).

The day was sunny and cool and the playground had a spray park and a regular park.  I dropped the big kids off at VBS met my friends and Micah played with all of their kids til it was time to pick up Julia and Mark.

Since the church was close to the park I came back and the big kids got to play too.  It was really a perfect day and all of our kids were laughing and playing in the water and just having a great time.  As we started to head over to the playground to pack up our stuff and let the kids play some more and dry off before heading home we had a little "incident".

I was glued to watching Micah, who is only 16 months old and quite the little climber, while my two mommy friends were packing their bags and watching the big kids.  All of the sudden I hear one of my friends telling a little boy not to splash water into Mark's face.  That caught my attention and I turned around to see what was going on.

The little boy who threw the cup full of water on my son's face at this point ran over to his mother and said another mom yelled at him.  This mom became irate and yelled, "Which MOM yelled at my son???" very loudly.  At this point the entire park was engaged and looking on and wondering what indeed was the matter.

My friend calmly walks over and said, "I'm that mom and I didn't yell at your son, I told him not to splash water on Mark's face."  She really did not yell at this little boy.  She talked to him in an even toned sing songy voice but she was firm.  And if some random kid threw water on your kid wouldn't you say something?

Well, at this point it gets tricky.  We don't know who was telling the truth or what was left out.  But the little boys story was that my son Mark (who barely talks to people he doesn't know) was making fun of his older sister.  (I highly doubt that, not because my son is perfect, because he isn't, but because Mark doesn't talk to kids he doesn't know...especially not girls...and especially not older girls...this girl was at least 8 or 9 years old and very tall...way too intimidating for mark...and mark doesn't make fun of people).  Then the boy switched his story to his mom and said that Mark threw shreds from the ground at her (this part I think could've happened...and just a few minutes before this he was playing with Micah like that...so it's totally possible, although still a bit suspicious).  So the boy's story was that Mark did this so he deserved the cup of water in his face.

Now, I got involved and walked over to Mark and said, "Mark, did you make fun of this girl?" He shook his head no.  "Mark, did you throw stuff at this girl?" He shook his head no.  "Mark, are you telling the truth?" To which he completely broke down and started crying.  So I kind of felt like he was guilty but because I didn't see what happened I guess I will never know.

I said, "Mark you need to apologize to her.  Stop crying and say you are sorry."  The girl wouldn't even look at mark or come down off of the monkey bars.  She just kept climbing.  So Mark apologized.

Then the Mom just kept attacking all of us.  Yelling at us and saying we shouldn't have confronted her son.  At this point we decided to leave because she was just a lunatic and was so loud and it was ridiculous.

As we packed our kids in the minivan and they all were settled, me and my friends tried to make sense of it all.  First of all, if Mark threw something, he was wrong and I was glad we apologized.  Second of all I was glad my friend saw what happened to Mark and confronted the little boy.  And third of all I was glad that my friend was brave enough to speak up to the irate mom because she was very intimidating and all I wanted to do at that point was crawl under a rock.

My friend brought up a good point...notice that the mom never made her son apologize to mark...her answer was, "Well he shouldn't have to."  That spoke volumes to me.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  Just because mark did something wrong doesn't mean it gave her son the right to do what he did.  As adults I think the best thing was for everyone to apologize and move on.  

On the car ride home yesterday, right after the incident it was totally over for my kids, they were not mad or sad or angry.  In fact Mark goes, "Mom, can we go again tomorrow?"  In Mark's mind the situation had been handled and no harm had been done.  I was glad for that.  Although I don't see us going back to that particular park any time soon...unless my hero friend comes with me!

The scary mom at the park ruined the park adventure for me.  I was a tiny bit sad driving home because I was just like, "What went wrong there?"  I wished I had seen the whole event play out in front of me.  I hope we did the right thing.  Sometimes people can be so unpredictable.  And it wasn't helpful that this lady kept ranting and raving when we were all being calm and trying to handle the situation properly.

What would you have done?

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28 July 2014

The Red Light Is On

Being Frugal

We have had a phrase in our marriage that works very well for us. When the "red light is on" that means there is no unnecessary spending.  Only the basics are expected like groceries and bills.  

God has always provided and always been so faithful to us but when you have kids back to back you see how expenses unexpectedly creep up on you.  Hospital visits, trips to the doctors office, clothes, and shoes for everybody all adds up.



I can't remember us using this phrase before kids, but I think when we had an unexpected septic issue in our townhouse we were extra careful with our spending.

Now, that we are in the home stretch to putting a down payment on our home, paying for movers, doing last minute odd jobs around the house to meet the demands of the new homeowners, we have had to tell the kids that "the red light is on". 

That means just last week when we stopped at the mall and had to buy shoes for Micah and stopped at the Disney Store to look around the big kids were upset that I wouldn't buy them anything.  Usually I give them a $5 or $10 budget in a store like that, I mean they are always so good, and it's one of their favorite stores, but this time (and the last few times) I've had to say no to things they have wanted. 

We love our public library...the teachers know us by name


 Julia wanted the new Elsa dress which was $50...I had to say no.  She wanted Elsa shoes for $12...I had to say no.  Mark always wants something by the superheroes and I have to say no.  Micah...well he just didn't want to leave the store because he was coloring at the table and listening to Disney songs.

I've been really careful this summer by only partaking in free events like:

1. Trips to our favorite local library
2. Trips to Liberty Science Center (our annual pass was paid for in January).
3. Spray parks
4. Vacation Bible School at our church was COMPLETELY free, and that included a T-shirt, crafts and snacks everyday.
5. Local Parks
6. Turtle Back Zoo (our annual pass ended this May)
7. Playing in the Back yard pool and eating ice pops
8. Making crafts/art time
9. Riding bikes/skateboarding


Things I have avoided:

1. Movie Theaters
2. The Mall
3. Amusement Parks

Fun Free Events We took Part In:

1. Free Rita's Ices in March
2. Free Slurpies at 7/11 on 7/11
3. Free Donut at Dunkin Donuts in June (with beverage)
4. St. Ambrose Carnival



Inexpensive Fun:

1. The beach ($14 for parking and admission...kids are free)
2. Read and Pick Program at the Farm in Princeton only $7 per big kid
3. Picking your own fruit at orchards (pay by the lb)


I have had to learn this summer in particular that Free can be awesome...it just takes a little more planning on my part, research on the computer for discounts and coupons, and an open mind that is able to think outside of the box.  I also had to avoid tempting places so that the kids didn't beg me constantly to buy them something.  And another great thing we started was the fact that they earn their own money for good behavior each week and by Friday or Saturday we take a trip to the Dollar Tree and they can pick out a few prizes with some of their own spending money.  It's amazing how much longer they will play with a toy that THEY had to earn and pay for!

Pinterest

Check out my Pinterest page with ideas on ways to be frugal but still have fun! click here

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Not Taken For Granted

For All You Do...

In just 2 weeks John and I will celebrate our 11 year wedding anniversary.  I think the fastest part of those 11 years has been the last 6...beginning with the birth of Julia, then Mark, Micah, til now.  I feel like the part of us that actually was able to enjoy true quality time with one another was the first 5 years, before the kids and glorious and joyous chaos that they bring.  

The past 7 months have been the absolute most stressful part of our marriage.  Not really between us as a couple but just with the demands of life and the choices we have had to make with finding out we were pregnant with Amelia, putting our house on the market, and then actually finding a new home that fits all of our needs.

This past weekend I basically had a "nervous breakdown" in my own way, probably not in the truest definition.  I just couldn't sleep, talk, or eat.  The stress of life and just trying to really grasp how much is going to change for us this next month is so incredibly overwhelming.

But John has really been my Rock.  And going to church this morning and worshiping just really put everything back into perspective.  We sang this song about how the waves can be crashing all around us but we just need to keep our eyes on Christ.  I keep looking all around at my "mess" and the scary circumstances and I keep doubting and forgetting to trust.

I know in my mind that it will all get done.  But the details of it all are just so incredibly stressful.  And then there are so many decisions we have left to make with Seminary, Chinese School, Homeschool, Fall Activities for the kids, and I just want to bury my head in the covers and pray for September to get here.

We just had our home inspection 2 weeks ago, and there was a list of about 16 or 17 things that we had to work on to have the house in tip top shape for the new homeowners, and don't you know...in the last 2 weeks John has completed every single task except one.  Every.  Single.  Task.

I don't think he will ever truly know just how much I appreciate all that he does.  And I just love him for working so hard when I can't really be of much help these days except to sign papers, run errands, watch the kids, and make necessary phone calls.

Even this weekend he helped with dinner, spent quality time with the kids, which they desperately need from him.  He even taught my Sunday School Class...Again.  He just keeps being so faithful and dependable and I am just really blessed and thankful and I hope he knows that I do not take him for granted at all.  I so appreciate the man he is.

And to make the weekend even better...we got to have a date night on Saturday and saw an awesome movie together.  

So, eleven years later...I am still the girl who is so in love with her man, so thankful for him in my life, and so lucky that he chose me to be his wife.  I love you, babe.

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24 July 2014

Summer Hibernation

The Next Few Weeks...

For the sake of my sanity, the sacredness of my marriage and the constant need to be able to do it all but not be able to do it all because I am pregnant...I will not be blogging as frequently these next few weeks.

I am almost 35 weeks pregnant.  We move out of our home in the next few weeks.  The place that we have called home for the past 8 years.  And we move to a new home all within this next month.

I am to the point in my pregnancy that bending, doing dishes, shaving, putting on one's sandals, etc, is no longer an easy feat.  I am getting really tired, very emotional and rather bummed out at all the things I really "can't do" right now.

I am feeling for my husband who has so much on his plate with home repairs, working full time, and keeping up with the paper work and phone calls from our lawyer and realtors.  There is so much to do be done and at times I feel like all I am really capable of doing is growing this baby and making sure the bigger kids are clean, fed, and happy.

So, if you happen to think of us, or miss us, or wonder what we are up to please pray for us.  We have so much going on it's kind of like our "December", you know the busiest time of the year with shopping, wrapping, parties, etc, when all you really look forward to is January 1st to be able to say you survived it all.  Well, I am really looking forward to September.  I am looking forward to our new home, another precious baby, and no more boxes to step over.

I have learned a very very valuable lesson through all of this.  My faith is not as strong as I thought it was.  I think we all think we have a deep strong faith in God and all that He has planned for us, but I have learned that when my faith is tested I usually find out just how weak I am and just how much I need Him, and just how much control I DON'T have.

I am learning that when things are normal it is easy to think you have a deep faith and trust God, but when you could be homeless, or you lose a job, or you lose a loved one, or when God somehow rocks your world and your faith is tested through the fire in that unhappy circumstance its then that God separates the men from the boys...and I have discovered that I am just a small boy and that I do not have the deep strong faith I thought I had.  I struggle with trusting God.  I struggle with agreeing with His will for my life.  And I don't know what is best for me.  I only think I do.  So I guess these past few months God has really opened my eyes to my inner self and I am realizing just how much I need to work on and just how much more I need to rely on God and not myself.

I think these are all good lessons for me to learn and I'm glad to learn them now.  Please pray for us as our family embraces many new challenges and changes these next few weeks.

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23 July 2014

15 Things To Do When You Can't Sleep

I. Can't. Sleep.


First of all, after reading this article i would change number 3 to Pray! Pray! Pray! And I would change number 7 to Read God's Word...The Bible.

I feel like whenever you read articles that give you 15 steps to the perfect sleep they forget you may have a million kids (like I do) or that you are incredibly pregnant (like I am).

The article suggests taking a bath before going to bed...tempting but I'm pretty sure if I get in the bath tub...I'm not ever coming out.

Also, when I can't sleep I automatically open up my Mac Pro and go on blogger to write a new post.  Apparently using technical gadgets with bright screens is no good.  But it keeps me busy.

Don't have any stress...ummmmm, let's see we are selling our house next month, moving next month and having a baby next month...stress? anyone? anyone? anyone?

Don't have any big talks before bed...really?  John and I have a major, deep talk EVERY night before bed regarding our family, the house, the baby, etc.  This is the only time we have during the day TO talk!

Don't eat before bed...but I'm starving!  You try growing a person and not eating before bed, seriously?!  Cheese and crackers, apple slices and peanut butter, almonds and bananas, that's what I'm always craving before bed.

Don't drink liquids before bed...well, I wouldn't if I wasn't so darn thirsty every five seconds...and you know what?  Water with a ton of ice before bed is delicious!!!!!

Ok, ok, I'm shutting off my computer.  

I'm taking the last sip.

I'm closing my eyes.

Good night.



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22 July 2014

A is for Abigail by Lynne Cheney

Our Weekly Book Review

Julia (6) and I are starting a new venture together!  We are going to review one children's book a week for the duration of the summer.

This week we chose A is for Abigail by Lynne Cheney.  We have been reading lots of great historical books this summer to prepare us for Classical Conversations this upcoming year.

This 2003 book is an almanac of amazing American women over the past 200 years.  It starts with Abigail Adams in 1776...and each letter of the alphabet is dedicated to an American Female Hero!  From Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman to earn a medical degree) to the woman athlete of the year (6 all time winner) Babe Didrikson Zaharias.  

I loved how this book featured well over 200 amazing women from all different walks of life, careers, and races.  All of the women talked about in the book have added to our awesome melting pot in American history.  And I really enjoyed traveling through time from 200 years ago to present times.  I got to share with Julia people I was familiar with like Rosa Parks, Mary Lou Retton, Hellen Keller, Susan B. Anthony, Oprah Winfrey, Ella Fitzgerald, Laura Ingalls, and countless others.  I also learned a bit of history myself!

Julia loved the illustrations and especially loved the picture of all the First Ladies starting with Martha Washington and ending with Laura Bush.  And she loved the all the famous actresses, especially Shirley Temple!  She really liked all the historical facts that you could learn by studying little tid bits from each person's life.

Our favorite quotes in the book were, "I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman!" by Helen Reddy.

Julia liked: "Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do.Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." by Ella Fitzgerald.

This book will teach you a lot of women history (something we really don't read a lot about in our history books) and fill you with tons of pride for our country and the women who have made it so wonderful!

Julia and I give this book 5 stars ***** and recommend it to all young readers! 

P.S. Even Mark was reading it over our shoulders!  Although he did ask, "How come there aren't any boys in this book?!"  (Julia and I thought that was cute and we had to tell you!)

To order this book from Amazon go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Abigail-Almanac-Amazing-American-Women/dp/0689858191/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405975882&sr=8-1&keywords=a+is+for+abigail+an+almanac+of+amazing+american+women

or click here


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21 July 2014

Amelia Susanna our Beloved

Her Name Means Beloved

The final 6 weeks (if we make it that far) are upon us.  

I am super ready.  

This past weekend my entire family threw me a surprise baby sprinkle.  The theme was "Sprinkled with Love."

Let's just say, Amelia now has 3 big bins full of clothes and shoes packed and ready to go into the new house in her own nursery.

John helped out with the surprise by telling me he planned a date night...which I totally believed!

And Friday evening was rolling around and I started getting so tired...

I took the kids to the beach and all I wanted to do was sleep the rest of the day.

I called John to cancel and he must've been going nuts because it was his job to get me to the location.

He told me he could only cancel one part of the date, but that there was another part that he couldn't cancel.

He said the church wanted to have a prayer meeting over me and the baby.

I looked at him and said, "Really? Why? What's wrong with my baby?"  Can you hear the tiredness in my voice.

"Well, they just miss you, and want to pray over us as a family." he said.

And.  I.  Believed. Him.

Then we walk in and go to the "prayer room" and all the women in my family yelled, "SURPRISE!"  I was never so shocked in all my life.  And normally I love surprises.  But John had me so wrapped up in this date night/prayer meeting...I was so confused!

Anyway, John took the boys home and left me and Julia at the shower to be spoiled by our friends and family.

It was really wonderful.  I got to see Grandma Sue (John's Grandma) and my Grandma Corinne.  Plus all the aunts on both sides, cousins, and close friends.

We named Amelia after Grandma Susanna.  She is such a strong woman, she had 5 kids that she basically raised by herself, and she is turning 90 this August.  It seemed very fitting that we would name our Amelia after her who will most likely be born in August also.

Dear Amelia,

Hi baby girl!  We are anxiously awaiting your arrival.  We have your diaper bag packed.  Your brothers Mark, and Micah, and your sister Julia have special shirts all ready for when they meet you!  We packed all your clothes, diapers, wipes and things for the nursery neatly.  And we are so excited to add you to our team.  You are our beloved.  Daddy calls me his beloved and we are honored to call you our beloved last little baby.  Keep growing strong and come when you are ready.  We are all waiting to meet you!

Love, Mommy


P. S. This is our doula Roe and my husband John...they make a great labor team for me!  You will see them when you are born!

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18 July 2014

Keeping Busy

34 Weeks

Well, I am getting closer and closer to having this baby.

Between packing and moving and selling and buying we have been SO busy with SO much!

I could never have gotten through this time without Linda and Colleen Rowan who constantly babysit when we need them to head out house hunting, or to doctor's appointments.

I also have some awesome friends who are always helping me with the kids and play dates are so fun!

From time to time I still like to do my own thing and take all three kids out for a special day of fun.  This past week we went on our monthly excursion to Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.  It has a zoo, an aquarium a 3D theater and an IMAX theater, and tons of fun exhibits.  It's days like this that I really just love packing the car and being with my kids and having quality time with them.  Our life right now may be going at warp speed (and little Amelia we are desperately waiting for your sweet arrival...you will only complete our team!) but you and I both know...I wouldn't have it any other way!

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17 July 2014

People

Restless Part 5

This is the Bible study my MOPS group is doing over the summer.  Please feel free to catch up and read the last few posts on the chapters in the book.

Chapter 1 Intro

Chapter 2

Chapter 3 Suffering

Chapter 4 Places

Main Point: Pick Imperfect People, Love Them, Be Intentional, Don't Leave Them

This week's study was all about the business of people.  It was all about how we are all imperfect.  Jennie reminded us in the video (we watch a video clip each week before we review the notes/homework) the importance of grace and forgiveness in our relationships with people.  

She reminded us that loving people gets messy.  But that the beauty of relationships, the beauty of dealing with people and being intentional about pursuing people is that all of us are eternal beings.  Sometimes I think we forget that.  We forget the value of each person.  We forget the value of each soul.  Maybe you don't, but I definitely do.  In fact Jennie (and I totally agreed) brought up how the minute people don't meet our standards, or drain us, or cause us pain we tend to want leave them.

I can relate to that feeling.  In fact, I remember a sermon Pastor Steve gave once about difficult people.  He said in this world there are two types of people: soft blanket people (I love you guys) and sand paper people (ummm, you guys are rough), and he talked about how we all love the soft blanket people but that God uses the sand paper people in our lives to smooth our own "rough edges" and we may all think we are blanket people, but to somebody else, guess what...you might be sand paper!

The point is, no matter what type of personality you have, we were all created by God and we are all valuable and we all NEED each other.

I love how Jennie constantly talked about in the chapter about our need to pursue people and be intentional about it.  I find this rather easy because I really enjoy people, I can make friends easily, and I can start a conversation just about anywhere (at the grocery store, in line at the post office, at the park, etc.).  But I struggle with the fact that not everyone else may have my list of needs or standards in a friendship.  It's hard for me to keep pursuing someone who I feel does not reciprocate in the same way.  I often feel like I am the only one putting in all the effort into the friendship and then I give up or pull back if I feel the other person is not doing their part.  Do you find you are this way too?  It's definitely a flaw on my part because we are called to love others unconditionally.  And Jennie talks about this constantly in this chapter.  We are called to pursue and love others and not to leave them no matter how they treat us.

Look at the life of Joseph in Genesis 41-45.  Look at the life of Jesus in the 4 books of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).  Joseph displayed such loyalty, respect, kindness, and compassion for people, even though he was treated so unfairly by so many.  It was not "all about him" it was all about loving others.  Joseph had care and concern for all those in authority over him and in the end his hard work was blessed and prospered and he preserved life for countless people.  All because he knew how to love people.

If I was Joseph...and my brothers through me in the pit, sold me into slavery, and then years later came to me for food and help, I think I might be bitter.  But Joseph never displayed bitterness.  He knew that God allowed that suffering in his life to preserve life for others.  He wasn't angry or bitter.  He allowed God to heal his hurts and to forgive.  And in his healing, he was able to be a blessing to countless others.

Mark 12:28-34 Our First and Second Callings as Followers of Jesus:

1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength

2. Love your neighbor as yourself

Jennie talks about how loving people is a great investment of our time.  She asks...

1. Who do you need?
2. Who are your mission minded, like minded friends?
3. Who are the people who make you love God more?
4. Who can you safely share your soul with?
5. Who are wiser mentors you could pursue?
6. Who needs you?

Obviously we all need God!

But who are the people that need you?  Are you using your life and giving your love to people around you that need you?  And Jennie was not talking about our spouse and children (obviously they need us!) she was talking about people we come in contact with every day that we may need to be more intentional about and look into their eyes, and love them for the sake of loving them.

One thing I will not forget about this study is that we all need grace, we all need God, and we all need love.  I really want to do better at loving those around me and really being intentional about "seeing" people...really "listening" and really "loving" people unconditionally. 

Jennie ends the chapter by asking:

Who needs you?  Who needs God? Who needs hope?



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16 July 2014

Breastfeeding, it worked for me...but it wasn't easy!

This is Julia...one day old...we were still at the hospital

It Worked For Me

Listen, I am not one of those moms who thinks breast feeding is the only way.  I'm not judgmental.  I think formula is totally fine.  As a matter of fact with this baby I actually plan on doing both.  The more kids you have the harder and harder it is to devote the demands of breast feeding.  But, I do love bf and it really has worked out for me.

I am not a crunchy granola mom like I call my doula Roe.  I'm not a mom who uses cloth diapers, baby wears, and makes her own food.  All those things are awesome, but I am happy using wipes and diapers from the store.  I buy jar food and I love holding and cuddling my baby but baby wearing was never comfortable for me.

I hate it when moms make other moms feel bad about their choices.  And breast feeding is a choice.  Some say breast is best, but I think it has to work for mom and baby, and sometimes it doesn't.  Some moms try very hard to nurse and their milk never comes in, or there baby doesn't latch, or mom has some type of major surgery that interrupts the whole process.  I think as moms we should do what we feel is best for us and for our baby and not let other moms make us feel guilty.  It is so silly really.  I mean you cannot tell me a mother who feeds her baby formula loves her baby any less than a mom who breastfeeds, and I'm pretty sure there are no awards in heaven because you did or didn't do it.  I always wanted to try it and it just so happened to work out, but I have so much sympathy and grace for moms who really try and can't and feel guilty.  I hope if that's how you feel you let the guilt go and know that you did your best.

As far as breastfeeding goes, here are the reasons why I do it:


1. It is a jump start to your baby weight loss plan!  I chose the most selfish reason first, I know.  But it's true.  I never wanted to keep on the extra weight and so after 6 weeks I am working out at the gym or doing P90x with my husband.  Breast feeding is known to help you burn a million calories a day (ok a slight exaggeration) because you are feeding another person with your body!!! How cool is that?  With Julia I was wearing my regular jeans and back to my original weight by week 3 (that's having a baby in your 20's)  With Mark I think it took me 2-3 months.  With Micah...oh good gracious...it took me at least 4-5 months of hard core working with a trainer, eating healthy, juicing and watching my carbs.  But I did it.  And once I was back to my normal size...I was pregnant again!  

2. The bonding with your baby is priceless.  I loved being able to cuddle with my babies and feed them and see them get nourished and feel comfortable and safe with me.  I loved being able to play with their toes, hold their hand, and talk or read to them as I nursed. 

3. The convenience of breastfeeding.  It's so easy to pack a diaper bag minus the bottles!  I loved just being able to whip out my nursing cover and feed the baby wherever I was.  Even though I am super super super shy.  I will not be the one posting pics of me nursing my baby.  I have gotten better about it with each baby.  I always cover myself, and I always try to go someplace private if possible.  I hate it when people will stare at you while you are nursing.  I wish I could say, "I'm sorry to bother you but my baby has to eat."

4. The cost effectiveness of not paying for formula.  I tease John all the time and say: "Look how much money I have saved YOU!  We never had to pay for epidurals, c-sections, or formula!"  Formula is SO expensive.  As a stay at home mom I just feel really good about saving all that money and just being able to feed my baby.

The things that make breast feeding difficult for me...

1. I hate pumping milk.  I literally feel like a cow.  After Julia I stopped pumping milk and started to just breast feed on demand because the milk pumping became a full time job.

2. After awhile I just want to be able to wear normal clothes. This is probably another selfish reason but at some point with every baby I just got to the point where I just wanted to stop.  I felt like I just wanted my body back.  I hated the nursing bras, the nursing covers, the nursing lotion.  I just wanted to stop.  I have bf all my babies up til age 1....and then I weaned them off.  Julia nursed til 10 months and weaned herself.  Mark nursed til 13 months.  Micah nursed til his first birthday and the next day we stopped.  He was already only nursing once or twice a day anyway.

3. I constantly felt like (since I didn't pump) I couldn't go anywhere without my baby.  This is partly my own fault I guess since I nursed on demand instead of pumping but it was annoying at times when I knew I had to go out and be back at a certain time for a feeding.  

4. Did I mention how shy I am?  It was really hard for me to get used to bf because with Julia if we had visitors I would pump milk so that while my guests were over they wouldn't see me nursing her.  Obviously I outgrew this but that's how incredibly shy I was.  I hated how people would stare in public even when I was totally covered.  I always felt very uncomfortable.

5. Let's be honest...bf does hurt in the beginning.  People actually told me, "You must be doing it wrong if it hurts."  No!  I wasn't doing it wrong.  BF does hurt in the beginning, in fact there were times I saw STARS because of the pain.  I would cringe every time it was time to feed.  After a few weeks it gets better but there were times I was sure I was going to quit because of the pain.  I would say, "I'm only going to do this for 1 month...ok 2 months...ok 3 months I will stop."  But by then it was fine.  And I would love it again.  Out of all my kids Mark was the easiest to nurse.  He was an absolute gem.  He latched perfectly right away and it was smooth sailing.  Julia and Micah were the most difficult.  Julia I think because I was so new at it all.  And Micah because he was a lazy latcher and I had to have a professional come to our home after two weeks of cracked/bleeding issues and major pain bc we couldn't get our act together.  But as you can see we got the hang of it and Micah turned into a champ!

So ladies, whether you nurse or use formula, just know that feeding your baby and watching them grow is the most beautiful and coolest thing.  Breast feeding may or may not work for you and that's ok.  I think with Amelia I am going to breast feed exclusively in the beginning and after a few months start to pump and supplement.  I am still trying to wrap my brain around having 4 kids!

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15 July 2014

Why I Love Water Births

The Beauty of Natural Birth

Yesterday's post drew such a large crowd (over 300 page views) I wanted to write more about my birth experiences!

Here are 5 reasons why I have chosen to labor in a birthing tub every single time I deliver.  Many of you have asked what hospital I deliver at (because not all hospitals allow this or provide this service) I go to Monmouth Medical in Long Branch, NJ and my OBGYN for all of my births is Dr. Giovine at A Woman's Place.  Although Dr. G helped to deliver Julia and Mark, Micah's labor was so long that the doctor's changed shifts and I had Dr. Burke at first and then their midwife Lee who was absolutely amazing.  I seriously doubt I would have delivered Micah naturally without her expertise and encouragement.

1. The birthing tub is relaxing.  Call me crazy but I am a woman who loves to sit in a bath tub, a hot tub, or a pool, I find it to be extremely relaxing and cathartic.  I knew I wanted to do a water birth with all of my children when I was a teenager!  I saw a video in high school about birth and the woman giving birth did it naturally in a tub and there was no screaming, no chaos, no fear, it was just her and the water and she was focused and determined to bring her baby into the world naturally.  From that point on I always had it in my mind that that was how I wanted to deliver.  How awesome it must be to enter into the world into a warm bath instead of blaring lights in a hospital bath?  How peaceful the baby's entrance must be from the amniotic fluid in the womb to the water in the tub?  Although I labored in the tub with all three of my babies.  Mark was my only successful water birth.  And to this day he is my mellow, chilled out, peaceful guy.  I wonder if that has any correlation to his birth entrance?

2. The birthing tub eases the purposeful pain of labor contractions.  One thing I look forward to during every birth was that warm tub.  I have a birthing ritual that once I am in the "zone" I labor in every corner of the room and even in the bathroom during contractions and once the contractions get really bad I just want to be in the comfort of that tub.  The water honestly does ease the pain and it is very calming for me to be in there.

3. It gives John a job as my partner during labor to set up the birthing tub.  For every birth John and my doula Roe have worked hard to set up the tub and fill it with just the right temperature of water.  The first tub we used we rented from Aquadoula, although the liner and tubing is used only once obviously.  The last two times we used the one that Roe leaves at the hospital.  I know John needs to be "doing something" when I am not having a contraction and so the first thing he does when we get to the hospital is start to set up the tub.  I think it is his labor of love.  And I love him for it.



4. The birthing tub provides me with my own little world during labor.  I don't know about you ladies but for me I just really need peace and quiet and honestly I could birth my next baby without any staff or doctor.  I finally know exactly what I need and want during delivery with it being my fourth and all.  I like the privacy of the birthing tub.  I have seen couples in the birthing tub but for me that is not what I need at all.  I want my own space.  I want to focus.  I want to work on my breathing and get through the contraction.  And the tub is the best place for all of that.



5.  One thing I hate about birth is having your legs up in the air on a hospital bed.  The beauty of the water birth to me is that you are somewhat covered and have a deeper level of privacy as you are pushing.  I guess I am just shy.  I loved my birth with Mark because after 2 easy pushes in the water, after my water broke, he was floating up right to me.  I know there are tons of birthing positions besides legs up on a hospital bed but that one seems to be the most popular.  I loved the beauty and calmness of having Mark in the water.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I can't even begin to tell you how great I felt after having him.  I literally had him in the tub and about 5 minutes later I was in bed making phone calls to family and friends.  It was AWESOME!





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14 July 2014

Natural Birth vs. Medicated/C-section

What Worked For Me

My last 3 births have been natural/vaginal births with no epidurals.  For me, I just never wanted to use pain meds during labor.  I wanted to have a doula and my husband there for support and I wanted to be able to go through the purposeful pain of labor without a needle in my back.  I didn't want my baby to get the affects of the epidural and I didn't want to be numb during the labor.  I wanted to know when to push, how to push, and feel exactly what I was supposed to feel.  I also didn't want to be confined to a bed.  I wanted to be able to walk, use a birthing tub, eat or drink if I was hungry, I wanted the freedom to move around the room.

All 3 of my children were born early.

Julia's due date was Jan 13th, but she came naturally on Dec 31st.   Weighing 8.1 lbs

Mark's due date was June 13th, but he came naturally on May 27th.  Weighing 8.1 lbs

Micah was due March 29th, but he came naturally on March 25th. Weighing 9.2 lbs

Thankfully none of my labors had to be induced, each one just started on their own.  Julia was born within 7hours from start to finish.  She was my fastest labor.  Mark I felt minor contractions all day and headed to the hospital around 3:30 pm and had him at 10:16pm  Micah's labor was my hardest. Contractions started at 11:30 pm...I got to the hospital around midnight.  In my head I thought I would have him by 9am...he didn't come til after 2pm.  He was also my biggest baby and most painful.  And since I labored all night I never had any rest and was exhausted at the time of pushing.  I was so incredibly tired and almost positive I couldn't do it.  But I had a great team, my midwife Lee, doula Roe, and husband John encouraged and helped me to push that baby out.


The surprise of this fourth pregnancy has led me to have many fears.  

Will Amelia be a big baby like Micah?  

Will she be early like the rest of my children or come on time or be late?

Will my labor be long and painful?  

Will I be able to endure a long labor without the use of pain meds this time?

So many of my friends have had C-Sections.

They get to know when the baby will come.

They get to have pain meds.

They only have a tiny scar from their births.

They can plan their days and weeks near their scheduled due date to the T.

My friends who have had vaginal births most of them used an epidural and LOVED it.

It took the edge off of the pain of the contractions.

They were confident that they could get through their birth.

They knew right away they wanted to use one.

They still knew when to push and how to get their baby out.

So what is the best way?

It's what works for you and your family.

I'm still trying to figure out the kind of birth I want...I keep reading books and watching birth videos and honestly all I am certain of is I don't want a lot of people in my hospital room.  I don't want to be interrupted while I am having contractions.  I don't want the doctor to intervene unnecessarily.  I want my labor to start on its own and I want to labor at home longer.  I usually head to the hospital right away and I'm usually 3-5 cm dilated.  This time I want to stay home as LONG as possible so I am not constantly poked by the nurses and checked internally or monitored during contractions.  I am like a cave woman during birth I just want to go in a corner, focus on getting through each contraction, and do my best to keep moving to get the baby out!

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10 July 2014

Woman At The End

You Know You Are A Woman At The End of Her Pregnancy When...

1. A billboard advertisement determines what your next meal will be.

2. Everything makes you cry...e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g

3. You are willing to ask for help, when normally you wouldn't dare

4. Taking a 5 minute nap becomes your greatest dream in life

5. You hate driving anywhere because your belly gets in the way of the steering wheel, and even if it doesn't your baby won't want you confined to sitting for too long

6. You are so thirsty all the time that you literally drink gallons of water, no more like buckets of water...b-u-c-k-e-t-s!

7. Your walk becomes a sever waddle.

8. You have to hold your baby in when you walk for fear she will simply fall out!

9. Sleeping at night just doesn't happen because of all the "nature calls"!

10. Did I mention the crying? :)

The last trimester of pregnancy goes extremely fast...in a few weeks she will be here...I just hope we will have a home to bring her to!  This post was meant to be funny.  I hope my readers know how much I love being pregnant and I don't mind the waddle, water, or tears.  I know God is creating a miracle.  I'm just happy to be a part of it.




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09 July 2014

Restless Part 4: Wherever you are, be all there

What are your "places"?

This chapter came at the PERFECT time for me personally.  God is so cool like that!  He always has great timing.  It seems that whenever you are reading the Bible, or doing a devotional study with your group there is something that is so relevant to what you are going through.

We are still studying the life of Joseph.  We are digging deep to find out how Joseph was able to be so darn awesome when he had such awful circumstances!  He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, and started working for Potiphar, then falsely accused of inappropriate behavior with Potiphar's wife and thrown in prison for 10 years.

It was the prison part that got me.  How could God possibly use one of his people in PRISON for crying out loud?!  How does an innocent man in prison not grow bitter after 10 years!!!  How was Joseph able to prosper in PRISON?  How did he find favor in PRISON?  How was he so willing to use his god-given gifts in PRISON? (remember when he told the butler and the baker what their dreams meant?)

If I was Joseph and I was thrown into prison for 10 years I'm pretty sure I would not have found favor  with the guards and inn keepers.  I'm pretty sure there would be some major sulking and pouting and feeling sorry for myself.  How did Joseph know that PRISON was one of his "places?"

Jennie Allen had us read MATTHEW 28:16-20

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In this passage God gives us our job description:  This is in my own words
1. Worship God with your life
2. Make disciples of all nations (plant seeds in the lives of the people you meet)
3. Baptize them (encourage your friends, family, and people you come in contact with to be "all in" for Christ
4. Teach them to observe all things that he has commanded us (exhort others and remind them of his goodness and what he expects of us)

So basically our main job is to worship God with our lives and to plant seeds all along the way with the people we meet by sharing the greatness of who He is.  People can only see how great God is in your own personal life by the way you surrender your life to him.

Jim Elliot, the great martyr missionary said, "wherever you are, be all there!"  I know exactly what this means.  Wherever God has placed you currently do it to the best of your ability using 100 percent of your gifts and talents for the glory of God.

So, what are your places?  And by places I mean where is God using you to bring glory to himself and shine for him?  It could be your neighborhood, your workplace, your home, the gym you work out in, etc.

My "places":

My home

My blog

The grocery store

The post office

The bank

The cleaners

My homeschool group

My church

My library

My Mops group

These are my places because:

This is where I invest the most time, where I shine and use my gifts, the places I come in contact with the same people on a daily basis.  These are the places I want to be a blessing.  God has led me to these places again and again and I am doing my best to smile, be sweet, plant seeds, and be a blessing, and hopefully be able to share my faith.  What is more important than that?  I want to have an eternal perspective and be focused on an eternal purpose.

Jennie calls us to cast a vision for each of our "places".  She asks:  How might God want you to be intentional like Joseph in each place?

Then she called us to Dream, Deal, and Draw about our places (I love the homework she gives us because she really pushes us and challenges us beyond the pages of the bible and gets right into our hearts and faces.

In our group discussion today we talked about how sometimes fear keeps us from sharing our faith.  We talked about how sometimes we don't trust God enough to catch us, provide for us, or protect us when we are in scary "places".  Sometimes the place that God allows us to be in is just like in Joseph's case....sometimes it is a place we do not want to be in but we are kind of stuck there because of circumstances that we cannot control.  Our attitude and behavior is what we can control.  We discussed how impressed we were with Joseph and how even though his Place was not ideal he still used his gifts and talents and prospered there all because he loved God and wanted to honor Him.

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."


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08 July 2014

Write The Author (Homeschool through the Summer)

Keep Using Language Arts and Writing Skills During the Summer!

Just because it is summer time doesn't mean we just forget all about our reading, writing, and language arts skills.

It is amazing how much kids forget over the summer if they are not constantly using these skills.  There are so many fun ways to keep writing, reading, and using language arts during the summer.

A few ways we have been using them lately is writing to pen pals.  Julia has been writing a letter a week (at least) to 3 different pen pals!  She loves using stationary, adding stickers, and putting the stamp on too.  We chose some local friends and a sweet friend who lives out of state.  Mark has been writing his local buddy Charlie.  The kids are learning how to not only address envelopes, and write a formal letter, but they are building friendships too!  I try very hard not to correct these pen pal letters because I know it is meant to be fun.  It's actually adorable to see their phonetic spelling.

This week we decided to write a few of the authors we've been reading books from the library.  When I was a teacher we would read a novel a month in our classroom after lunch time.  After we finished a novel (if the author was still living) we would write the author and tell them what we loved about the book and include a picture of our favorite scene or character...the best part was waiting to see if the author would write back!  And believe it or not most of them did.  I still remember getting a post card from Ms. DiCamillo the author of Because of Winn Dixie and the box full of book marks from Andrew Clements after we read Frindle.

Writing to authors also helps with perfecting grammar, using punctuation, and reading comprehension when they have to remember their favorite part of the book or explain why they liked a certain character.

Here is what we do:

* Choose a book we really enjoyed that week.  

This week we read The Broken Promise by Ravi Zacharias.

* Go online to see if the author is still writing books (still living).

* Look for a publishing address usually on the first 1-3 pages of the book.

* Get some stationary, a stamp, a pencil and an eraser!

* Tell the author what you loved about the book! What was your favorite part?  What did you learn from the story? Who was your favorite character?

* Include a picture of your favorite scene, favorite character, or of yourself!

* Ask the author to please write you back!

* Don't forget to include your name and the grade you are in!

* Address your envelope and be sure to include a return address so they can write you back (usually they send kids book marks or posters).

* Wait patiently!

Happy Writing

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07 July 2014

S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D?

Psalm 121

My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents.


121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.


I have been so stressed with our move, the packing, and the baby, that all I can really do right now is focus on the Lord...I guess that's the best place to be.  I feel like everything is caving in on me and the  weight of the world is on my shoulders.  I know my help comes from the Lord.  I am so thankful to know it in my head...I just need it to get to my heart.

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