Monday, February 28, 2011

Save Time in the Kitchen With Meal Planning

I love to cook, but when life gets crazy, cooking can quickly become just another chore.  Years ago, I started planning our menus week by week, and found that it saves hours of work and lots of money.  It may seem overwhelming at first, but it's not as hard as you think.  Here are a few steps that will get you started:

1.  Plan menus using your calendar.
I always have my day planner (a.k.a. my brain) open beside me as I plan menus.  I can see which days I work late, when my husband has meetings, or when my kids have activities and plan accordingly.  The days I have more time are the days I cook more complex meals.  On the busy days, I find quick and easy meals.

2.  Make your slow cooker your best friend.
The slow cooker is a working mom's best friend!  Turn it on in the morning, and you come home at night to a hot meal - just add a veggie or a salad, and dinner's done.  I use mine at least once a week, often twice a week.  There are so many fantastic recipes for slow cookers!  My resource page lists some of my favorite sites.

3.  Plan for leftovers.
Plan some meals that will provide leftovers - one meal will then stretch to two.  Soups and pastas are great for this!  Taco soup is one of my favorites - not only does it make a huge meal, but it freezes well, too.

4.  Post your menu.
Keep a copy of your menu handy - post it on the fridge, keep it in your planner, or put it into your phone.  That way you'll be able to find it quickly.

5. Use your menu to plan your shopping trip.
Once your menu is done, you can plan your shopping list around it.  Check your pantry to see what you have and what you need, and within a few minutes, you have a list ready.  You can save money by buying only what you need and save time by not having to run to the store every couple of days for something you forgot.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Simple Joys

This week has been crazy busy as we change over to a new software program at work.  Honestly I think of my simple joys this week should be that the weekend is finally here!  It's been a good week, though.  I'm so glad to have you linking up to Simple Joys this weekend!

My youngest being silly - "Look, Mom, your coffee cup has eyes!"

My oldest with his Lego creation - a mansion, complete with bathtub and toilet. :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life With Boys

I've learned a lot from raising two boys.  They're young, but we've already had so many adventures (and disasters).  Here are some of the lessons we've learned so far...
  1. When you tell your five year old to take a shower, it doesn't mean he's taking one - instead you may find him in the living room, playing Wii...naked.
  2. Boys don't require soap for showers (Learned when cleaning the bathroom, realizing there's no soap in the their shower, and realizing that it hasn't been there for a week)
  3. When you're traveling and your child says, "Mom, my tummy hurts," it's already too late.
  4. When boys are fighting, "You wear a bra" is one of the worse insults they can say to each other.
  5. Kool-Aid punch can be a discussion starter for five year olds - "It looks like blood...boys just like talking about blood and stuff."
  6. Eight years olds are tramatized by seeing their mom folding her underwear (His exact reaction was, "Mom - ugh," followed by a shudder.)
  7. Boys have surprisingly large vocabularies, which include words like "hostage" and "assassinate" (I wonder sometimes if we're watching too much Star Wars at our house.)
  8. It is perfectly logical for a mom of boys to yell across the house, "Put your pants back, stop hitting your brother with underwear, and put the underwear back where you got it!"
It's never dull, often challenging, and I wouldn't trade it for even a second.  I love being a mama to boys!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Call it what you want...

I'm not sure what the best term for it would be...  Driven.  Type-A.  Focused (sometimes to a fault).  I'm not good at decision making, but once I do make up my mind, it becomes my sole obession focus.  Whether it's work, college, hobbies, or any other area, once I set my mind to something, I'm going to go after it with everything I've got...and if someone tells me I can't do it, that makes me even more determined. 

In some ways, it pays off.  College is a perfect example.  I had one episode right after my first anatomy and physiology test where I wanted to quit (even though I got an A on the test).  I was overwhelmed and terrified.  But that was the only time I really thought about giving up.  I've questioned my sanity...a lot.  But I'm more determined than ever that I want this.  I can't wait to walk across that stage and get my degree.

In other ways, its really, really bad.  Like when people talk to me and I walk right by, never hearing them, because my mind is a million miles a way.  Or when I'm pulling straight A's in college, but I would die a thousand deaths from humilation if anyone saw the way my house looks during finals week.

For better or for worse, though, that's me...

Monday, February 21, 2011

A New Project - Gratitude

I've been working on several projects lately - some small, some big, all things I want to accomplish before I start back to college in July.  I seem to always have a list of ongoing projects, but I'm serious about wanting to get these done.

One of them is my gratitude journal - my 1,00 gifts journal.  So this week, instead of doing a big blog posting, I decided to work on a new page for the blog instead - my 1,00 gifts page.  I hope you'll check it out.  I'm amazed at how much my attitude has changed since I started this project.  When we take the time to be grateful for the little things, we realize just how blessed we are.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcome to the Simple Joys weekend meme!

I'm so excited to hold my very first Simple Joys weekend meme at Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom!  As women, wives, moms, and more, we all lead such busy lives.  This year, one of my goals is to take time to slow down and enjoy the little things that make life so great.  I've started keeping a gratitude journal, and I can already see what a difference it's making. 

Each weekend, join me here to celebrate the little things that bring us joy.  You can link up any way you'd like - a list, photos, or a post that describes what's bringing you joy right now.  The meme will open each Friday morning, and will be open until midnight on Sunday.  Please post the button from the sidebar in your post, and I'd love for you to share this new meme with others.  Thanks for linking up!  I look forward to sharing with all of you.

Here are some of the simple joys that I'm loving right now...
  • Early mornings with my Bible, my prayer journal, and my coffee
  • Chocolate truffle coffee with chocolate raspberry creamer
  • Listening to my boys giggling together
  • Warmer weather
  • The brand new Sisterchicks book (Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes) to enjoy
  • Finding two new library books by mystery/suspense authors I've been wanting to try (Robin Parrish and Katherine Mackel)
  • Curling up on the couch after a long day of work to watch a favorite TV show with my husband (we're getting hooked on Chicago Code pretty quickly!)
  • Working on my blog
  • Getting my first guest post for Our Mommyhood accepted - it will go up in April!
  • Homemade Valentine's cards from my boys

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thankful for Being Thankful

Okay, I know that sounds crazy, but it's true...when I started reading A Holy Experience, it really challenged me.  One of the areas it challenged me in is gratitude.  I decided to start keeping a gratitude journal - my own book of 1,000 gifts.  I just started it last month, and I'm already amazed at how much that little book is changing me.

When you take time to look for things to be grateful for, you realize just how how much you have.  I'm so amazingly, abundantly blessed.  There are so many little things that I take for granted every day.  Writing it all down makes me stop and think about things I might otherwise overlook.  So, I'm thankful for learning to slow down, enjoy the little things, and be thankful.

A little redecorating...

Welcome to Working Mom Wednesday!  One of today's prompts is about sharing your life in pictures.  I've been snapping lots of random pictures lately, because we've been doing some decorating in our house.  Our house flooded in the storm surge of Hurrican Ike in 2008, and we had to pretty much start from scratch.  Remodeling took months, and redecorating has been an ongoing process that we're finally wrapping up.

Our big project has been finishing out the kitchen and dining area, and we've done some work in the living room too.  Here's what we've been doing...

The perfect red chair for the living room!  We searched for that chair for months.

The sign we found at Hobby Lobby - it's perfect for our bistro/coffee house look.

One wall of our dining area - Hobby Lobby was sold out of "love," so I have to go back for it and we'll put it at the bottom.  (We got really silly putting this up, saying our hopes are too high, we're living too low...everything is funny when you're stuck at home because of winter weather!)

The other wall of our dining room, and our table...both the picture and the flowers are more great Hobby Lobby finds.

As awful as the flood was, we have really enjoyed getting to remodel our house.  This is the first time in our married lives that we've gotten to redo everything and make it totally our own. 

Now, I can't resist posting the pic of us bringing that picture above home...we found it on sale for half-price at Hobby Lobby, and we thought it would fit in the didn't.  So my kids had to ride back home - a 30 minute drive - with the picture in the back seat.  Let's just say they weren't happy campers...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Faith and Fitness

A lot of my goals for 2011 involved two major areas - faith and fitness.  These seem to be at the top of a lot of people's lists.  I think it's because most of us struggle with them so much.  They are also two of the most important goals we can have.  I often tell women at the gym I manage, it's not selfish to take time to take care of yourself, because we can't give what we don't have.

I think that what makes these goals seem hard to reach is that neither faith nor fitness just happen - both require us to be intentional.  We have to make time for them and make them a priority.  We have to have discipline to work toward these goals. In a lot of ways, these goals are very similar, and I've found a lot resources recently that combine the two.  Here are a few favorites that I'm incorporating into my daily routines...

Years ago, in high school and college, I tried yoga and loved it, but as I started learning more about the background of it, I just wasn't comfortable with it anymore.  Then I found PraiseMoves.  PraiseMoves is a Christian alternative to yoga.  The creator tells about her yoga background and how she came to start this new workout on her website.  She has several DVD's available.  You get a great, relaxing workout, while praying, meditating on God's Word, and memorizing scriptures.  You won't be disappointed!

Fit Bands
I just won a Fit Band (thanks Julia!) and I can't wait to get it!  I thought this was such an awesome idea.  Fit Bands are wristlets you can wear during your workout - you can attach Fit Cards to them so you can pray, memorize scriptures, and have devotional time while you work out.  It will be perfect for those time-crunched mornings that I know I'll have when I (hopefully) start dental hygiene school this summer.

Audio books/podcasts are perfect to listen to as you work out.  I have a playlist of some of my favorite Christian songs (Third Day, Superchick, dcTalk, etc.) that I sometimes listen to as I work out, but I never thought about the podcasts.  I plan to download some from my favorite teachers and listen to some as I run.

I'm really excited about the goals I've set for myself in the areas of faith and fitness.  I've even more excited as I see how I can work towards both at the same time and as I see the progress I'm making.  My husband is joining me in some of my fitness goals, so I'm excited to have him on board as an accountability partner in this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Bad Rap for Social Media?

Before I start today...I'm so excited to be guest posting today for the very first time! You can check out my post at one of my favorite blogs...please stop by and check it out!

I saw an interview recently with a mom whose family gave up all technology for six months because the mom felt that they were all too attached to it.  I understand where they're coming from, but I can't help but think that's looking only at the bad side of technology.  I hear people talking often about the evils and dangers of social media.  While I see their point, I also feel that social media and technology get a bad rap.  The good points of it are all too often overlooked.  Social media has been a huge benefit to me in so many different ways...
  1. Our family is scattered throughout the country, ranging from six hours to fourteen hours driving distance away from us.  Thanks to Facebook, we can keep up with everyone in one place.  Sure, I'm on it pretty much every day, and yes, I probably spend too much time on it...but I'm able to stay connected with my parents, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, neices, nephews, cousins, get the idea.  There are a lot of people to keep in touch with!
  2. I have found so much spiritual encouragement thanks to the internet!  From Bible studies to inspirational ideas to accountability groups, you can find it all online.  Just this year, thanks to blogs and Twitter, I've started keeping a gratitude journal, memorizing Ephesians, digging into Bible study, reading through the Bible in a year, and getting up early each morning for quiet time and exercise.  I've also found accountability groups and discussions to help me stick with it all.
  3. There are so many great resources available through social media - ideas and resources for fitness, time management, organizing, recipes, and more.  Just take a look at my resource page and you'll see what I mean!
  4. Support is everywhere!  Three and a half years ago, as a new working mom, I was stressed out and overwhelmed.  I desperately needed to hear from other moms who were in the same situation.  I needed to know that guilt is normal, that it takes time to adjust, and that you can find a lot of joy, even if you're not in the situation you'd hoped for.  Thanks to Twitter, Blog Frog, and other sites, I found that support, and now I hope to help provide support with my own blog.
Whenever I hear people start bashing social media and the internet, I try to step in and give my own take on it.  I share how much it has helped me and the benefits it's added to my life.  I think that it's time to focusing on the good that social media and technology are doing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

This is, hands down, one of the best books I have ever read.  Same Kind of Different as Me is a must read! 

This amazing true story tells how God brought two very different people in the most unlikely way, how their relationship evolved to the deepest of friendships, and the woman who brought them together changed both their lives forever.  It's also the story of how God can bring us through the most painful circumstances with His limitless love.  I shed a lot of tears as I read this book, but by the end, I was in awe of how powerful love and friendship really are.

For everyone who grew up in the comfortable, middle-class lifestyle that many of us knew as children, this book will also open your eyes.  As one of the co-authors, Denver Moore, tells his story of poverty and homelessness, you will see a side of American life that you may not have known even existed.  It gave me a totally different perspective on poverty and homelessness.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone!

*In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Special Valentines

If you want to know about my special Valentines, this picture sums it all up.  They're what makes Valentine's Day special...and Easter...and birthdays...and Christmas, and everyday life in general.  Next to my relationship with Christ, these three have influenced me more than anything or anyone else in my life.  I'm thankful for them every day.  I love you, Robby, Bobby, and Spencer!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Home Keeper's Journal - 2/9/11

I'm really excited to be linking up with the Home Keeper's Journal for the first time!  I'm a working mom, pastor's wife, and college student who is trying to balance it all.  My house is usually thrown to the bottom of my priority list, but I'm working really hard to change that.

In my kitchen this week ………lots of meat, since my husband and I are both on high protein diets.  Ten pounds to go and I'll be at my goal weight!

Foremost in my thoughts this week …… to-do list, especially at work.  We're drowning right now at my job - too much to do and not enough time to do it all.  Business is booming, so it's good stress, but it's still keeping me pretty uptight.

I’ve been so busy with ……..housework!  I'm glad that I'm finally getting caught up on it all.  There's still more to do, but thanks to new routines for our family, it's finally getting done.

Could someone please ……..send the House Fairy my way to finish things up for me?
I’ve been wanting to do this for so long …… and relax!  Since I have this semester off from college, I'm trying to catch up on all the books that have been on my list for quite some time now.  I'm really looking to forward to my favorite author's new book, coming in April - The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker.

If I manage things just right ……..I'll have my house clean and organized and my family on a good, working schedule before I start back to college in July.

The Good and the Bad

#1- I'm really good at....

#2- I'm really bad at....

These were both such great ideas, I couldn't resist doing both.

I'm really good at:
1. Cooking
2. Planning
3. Procrastinating
4. Working with kids
5. Balancing everything

I'm really bad at...
1. Housekeeping (see Monday's post)
2. Actually doing what I planned
3. Dancing (I love Zumba...but I'm sure it's not a pretty sight!  lol)
4. Playing sports (I love working out...but you wouldn't want me on your softball team.)
5. Balancing everything (Some days it works...other days it flops!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coming Soon to Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom...

A new meme is coming soon!  Watch for Simple Joys and link up here on Fridays to celebrate the little things that make life amazing.  Watch for details soon...

Monday, February 7, 2011

How to Know You're a Bad Housekeeper

I will be the first to admit, housekeeping is not my strong point.  Although I'm trying really hard (and doing much better, thanks to FlyLady) to develop and stick to a system, it's something I've always struggled with.  Through the years, I've learned to notice a few signs that back me up on this...
  1. When you pick up the Pledge can and a dust rag, your husband grabs the camera and starts snapping pictures, saying, "I have to get proof of this!"
  2. You open a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and the kids start asking, "What's that smell?  What is that?  Are you cooking something?"
  3. The dog walks into the room, sees you holding a Swiffer duster, and starts barking madly.
  4. When the kids are putting their dirty clothes away, they have to ask, "Is this the clean clothes hamper or the dirty clothes hamper?"
  5. You require a week's notice before any company arrives or any major event takes place at your home - it will take every bit of that to get the house clean enough for them.
Anyone else have this problem?  I'm learning and hoping that soon, this trend will change.  Have a great week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flight of Shadows

I really stepped out of my realm when I chose Flight of Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer for a book review. Admittedly, I’m not a sci-fan fan, but I read some of his books several years ago and really enjoyed them, so I wanted to give this one a shot.

The writing is great, and the story is interesting. My only real complaint about the book was that I felt lost. I didn’t realize that it was the sequel to a previous book, and the book assumes that you already know a lot of the background and characters of this story. Set in a futuristic America, Flight of Shadows tells the story of Caitlyn, a young woman with very unique DNA thanks to genetic experimentation. In fact, it’s so unique that she’s running for her life, with the help of a few unusual, but loyal, friends. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of science fiction, but I would recommend reading the first book, Broken Angel, so you’ll have a deeper understanding of the characters and story.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinions expressed are completely my own.

Awesome Giveaway - Fit Bands

I have to share the awesome giveaway I discovered over at Work, Wife, Mom, Life

Julia is sharing a ministry from a fellow blogger that combines two of my favorite things - fitness and faith.  Fit Bands provide a way for you to memorize or reflect on Scripture while you're working out, running errands, or taking care of your kids during the day. 

I'm really excited about this idea, especially since I'm doing the Hello Mornings challenge.  Me and all of my #hellomornings Twitter friends are working on our goals of spending time in Bible study and exercise each morning - what a perfect tool for both goals!

To enter and to learn more about Fit Bands, go to Julia's blog and check it out. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Setting My Goals - 3 in 30

I just stumbled across the 3 in 30 challenge (via Twitter) at The Tuckers Take Tennessee.  I love this idea!  I have lots of goals for 2011, which I blogged about last month, and it can get overwhelming sometimes.  I think that breaking them down into 3 smaller goals each month will help me get them done.  So here are my 3 for February:

1. Follow my daily FlyLady routines!
This is a habit that I've been kinda-sorta doing...some days it gets done, other days it doesn't.  I want to make it a daily habit, because I know it will go a long way towards keeping us all more organized.  I'm also trying to get my kids into the habit - they each have a folder now with their daily jobs and homeschool assignments.

2. Get to bed on time every night.
I am by nature a night owl, but after a long day at work, I'm too exhausted to get anything done at night.  I started consistently getting up early a while back, and now I've started the Hello Mornings challenge at Inspired to Action, so I'm getting up even earlier.  The problem is I also like to stay up late...late nights and early mornings do not a happy mommy make.  So I've got to get myself to be at 10:30, 11:00 at the latest, each night.  Maybe then I won't require a venti Starbucks skinny carmel machiatto to get me going...

3. Have a family devotional time each night with my boys.
This is a habit I was really good at for a while, but during a very difficult college semester (this past fall) I let it slide too much.  Now we're totally out of the habit.  I'm doing great with my daily quiet time - now it's time for the kids to see that example lived out.  So every night, I plan to read our Keys for Kids devotional, pray with my boys, and spend a little time talking about what God has done that day.

What Blogging Has Done

I love the prompts this week for Working Mommy Wednesday!  I chose #2:

Do you feel starting a blog has improved your life or added one too many things on your plate?

When I read Julia's post this morning, I thought, "Oh my word, I could have written that - that's exactly how I feel!  I've been blogging for almost a year and a half now, and I have been all over the blogging roller coaster.  Some days it's the best thing in the world, and other days I feel like quitting.  Some days I envy the "big bloggers" and other days I'm glad my blog is still a pretty simple one.

I went through a stage where I was definitely overloaded with blogging - or I should say, I overloaded myself.  I put way too much pressure on myself to post every day, sometimes twice a day.  Now I've settled into a better routine, and if the thought of quitting crosses my mind, I talk myself out of it pretty quickly. 

I love the connections I've made through blogging.  I love it when people leave comments or tweet me about something I said that inspired them.  I love the amazing blogs I've found and the inspiration I've receieved from them, especially when it comes to my faith and being a working mom.  I love finding blogs that encourage me, challenge me, and push me.  I also love finding other working moms who are dealing with the same issues I deal with - sometimes just knowing you're not alone is enough to make things better.

So overall, yes, blogging has definitely improved my life.  It's become my outlet, my stress relief, and my encouragement.  It's pushed me to do things I never would have done before I became a blogger.  It's grounded me even more in my faith and I truly believe it's made me a better wife, mom, and woman.  I'm so glad I decided to give it a try.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Day in the Life of...

I found this link up at Simply Rebekah, and loved the idea!  You take a picture for each hour of your day, and post a photo diary of your day.  I chose Saturday, which was a pretty typcial day for me.  So here it goes...

6:00 a.m.  Breakfast and my Bible before work (I only have to work Saturday once a's usually just during the week.)

 7:00 a.m.  Getting ready - have to be out the door in 30 minutes

8:00 a.m.  Unlocking the doors of the gym for a bunch of people who are ready to work out!

Okay, and that's where the pictures stopped for a's hard to stop and snap pictures at work.  But here's how it went...

9:00 a.m.  Help people set up their Smart Equipment for their workouts

10:00 a.m.  Zumba

11:00 a.m.  Grab a quick snack...still recovering from Zumba!

12:00 p.m.  Start closing up and cleaning up

1:00 p.m.  On my way home!

2:00 p.m.  Hubby grilled hamburgers for a late lunch

3:00 p.m.  Time on my laptop - working on my blog, and playing on Facebook

4:00 p.m.  (Okay, 3:45) Sonic run for Happy Hour

5:00 p.m.  Helping hubby get ready for Sunday

6:00 p.m.  Still helping hubby as the kids entertain themselves

7:00 p.m.  Send out a few emails to friends

8:00 p.m.  Almost finished helping at our church

9:00 p.m.  Work on blog (this post!) as hubby battles his computer - the kids are wearing out, and we are too, but we're almost done...

10:00 p.m.  Finally home to see a very happy Yorkie and eat a very, very late dinner

Okay, she doesn't look happy...she was happy we were home, but she HATES having her picture taken!

11:00 p.m.  My wonderful, beautiful bed...oh how I love you!
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