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About Me!

My One Word for 2015

Each year I select a word to be my emphasis for the coming year. It’s a great alternative to resolutions because it can be a broader concept that applies to various aspects of life, and a single word is easy to come back to throughout the year.

My word for 2015? Focus.

This means several things for me:

Night lights

 

Focus on faith. Day in and day out, in everything I do, I want the way I act and treat others to be rooted in Christ as my example. Hebrews 12:2 is the scripture that I’ve chosen to go along with my word.

Focus on family. The past few days we’ve had icy weather, and in Texas that means you just hole up in your house because no one knows how to drive on ice-covered roads. Spending three solid days stuck in the house with Brian and the kids just cemented how much I love spending time with them. It’s easy to get pulled in a thousand different directions, but I want to work at continuing to prioritize family time each week.

Focus on others. I want our kids to grow up knowing the value of serving and giving to others, and I want to make sure we’re not so caught up in our own little world that we neglect to see problems around us that we can work toward solving.

Focus on health – physical and fiscal. Stereotypical areas for New Year’s Resolutions, right? But rather than something specific, I want us to make a concerted effort toward healthiness and smart spending.

Focus on creativity. Brian and I are both creative-minded, and we’ve had ideas in the past that have stayed just that – ideas. In 2015, I want to make sure we’re taking action toward projects and goals, because just thinking about them gets us nowhere. And even if our ideas don’t pan out, we’ll have fun working on something together.

Focus on the positive. This is part of my overall life view; I’m definitely a glass-half-full kind of girl. While I’ve definitely had my fair share of gripes, I want to always choose to see the silver lining. For example, our house is almost always cluttered. If you’ve been over and are wondering what I’m talking about, congratulations: you’re one of the lucky ones we straighten up for. But seriously, day-to-day style around our house includes a toy explosion, a trail of pajamas and socks from wherever children got dressed that day, clean laundry in a stack just waiting to be hung, and dishes in the sink that should really have been washed yesterday.

It’s totally against my love of organization. I’m happiest in an organized space… clutter drives me bonkers. But somehow the chaos of clutter in our house has become something I cherish. Maybe it’s out of necessity, to save my sanity. But I also know those toys mean lots of happy playing has taken place; the pajamas remind me of our sweet head-in-the clouds C, who frequently gets distracted mid-task and leaves discarded clothes and socks all over the house; the clean laundry is a) actually clean – amazing! and b) plentiful; and the dirty dishes are there because we chose to fit in family time instead of cleaning the kitchen.

So, there’s my word for the year: focus. What’s yours?

It’s Been a While

It’s been fifteen days since I last posted. I think that’s a record – not that I was trying for one with my lapse.

It’s also been sixteen days since I started my new job. Correlation, maybe?

love my job. It’s a perfect fit for me, the people are great, and the work environment couldn’t be nicer. Over the past two weeks I’ve been learning the ropes of designing two different magazines – one the first week, another the second – and whew, learning new things is exhausting. In a good way, but nonetheless it’s meant that I’m not left with much mental or physical energy to divert toward my blog as of late.

At first it felt counterintuitive to not post after selecting “purpose” for my word this year. Shouldn’t I be posting with greater fervor, with crafts and recipes galore? Maybe, if that were my purpose. But I’m reminding myself day in and out that my faith, family and friends are top priority. I adore blogging, and am about to have my three-year anniversary with the Frugal Novice (craziness)! I’m finding a balance with it this year, though. Balance was actually another word I considered for this year, but I think it can go hand-in-hand with purpose, so it’s kind of enveloped with my goals for 2013.

I do have some review posts coming up soon for products I received in 2012 (there are some really great things I think you’ll enjoy hearing about), another Great Value baking party in the works (these have been such a blast!), and DIY post on its way. My good friend Kristi has a daughter who was born just five days after E, and we’re doing headbands, onesies, and yes, even legwarmers for them for Valentine’s Day. Can’t wait to share the finished products with you!

Off to tackle a mountain of laundry while the children – yes, all three of them at once! – take naps. I hope you all have an amazing start to your week!

 

Transitioning

KidsPJs

I couldn’t think of a good photo for this post, so I’m including a favorite one from Christmas – my attempt at a sweet PJ pic Christmas Eve night. Instead I got rolled eyes from C, a not-so-happy look from E, and J’s attempt at a convincing smile when all he wanted to do was unwrap one gift as promised. It makes me laugh every time I see it – love these kids!

Well, we’re only five days in to 2013 and I feel like it’s been a whirlwind of a year already.

I started a new job Thursday, designing magazines. I love what I’ll be doing, who I’ll be working for and with, and it’s in the same office space as my husband. I can’t see him from where I sit, but it’s still nice knowing he’s mere feet away – and we can carpool. So, I’ve only worked two days but it’s gotten off to a good start and I feel really good about the change. It was bittersweet leaving my old job, because there are a lot of people there who are wonderful and several who have become dear friends to me, but I feel confident this is the right path for me and for our family.

So, there was that change. And because I’m back to work in an office, that means baby E started day care. That was a rougher transition that starting a new job, although not nearly as traumatic as when J started back in 2008. I guess now I know from experience what a great nursery our day care has, and how well the kids have thrived there, so that helps. But still – as I walked away from her class that first day, there was a slight catch in my throat. She was fine, mind you. They said she did great and was her typical smiley self all day. I was smart and took her for a trial run the day before work began, so she could have a shorter day but I could still get that first day over with. It also helps that one of my great friend’s daughters is in the class with her, so I know she’ll have a little buddy there. When, y’know, they can actually interact with each other a little more than lying beside each other under the play mat arch. But still! BFFs in the making, I tell you.

Another transition is that our three year old, C, moved up to the “big kids” class. It’s the class he should’ve been in this past fall, but potty training challenges meant he was with the kids a few months younger than him. It was a blessing the way it worked out, because the teacher in that class was just what he needed, and he got to experience being a leader, which I think gave him a new level of confidence. Being a younger sibling to a very Type A older brother doesn’t give him a lot of chances to take the reins, and I think he really got to shine in that class. I really felt like it was time for him to move up, though. For one thing, the teacher he has now (whom I adore and think is really great) is much more strict, and I think his little three-year-old self could use some of that.

J’s still in his same class and is excited to be back with friends, which is a total 180 from the whiiiiiiiiiiining we heard on the way that first day – “I don’t waaaaaaaaaaant to go to school!” We’re trying to really make sure and enjoy this first half of 2013, while he hasn’t yet hit kindergarten and the new realms of big kidness. August will bring about a truly big transition for us, and I am trying to steel myself to prepare and not be a blubbering mess at my baby going off to school.

I haven’t blogged since New Year’s Eve, because we’ve been in the midst of adjusting to our new routine, and because I’m trying to really stick to my word – purpose. I want to be more present with the family when we have the opportunities to all be together and enjoy each other, so blogging has been pushed slightly to the back burner. I’ve still got a few commitments to fulfill so I’ll be taking care of those, and I do have some upcoming partnerships I’m excited about, but my hope is to write more posts like this. I’ve shied away from writing too much about our day to day life, because I’ve tried to post content that would be appealing to a broad audience, and I admittedly got swept up in a lot of product reviews. I’ll still do those from time to time (especially here at the beginning while completing agreements previously made) but you’ll notice a reduction in those, or at least more editorial content in proportion to those posts. Brian and I love to cook, and I’m trying to incorporate one new meal each week, so I hope to write more food-related posts this year, too. If you think of anything you want to see on this blog, let me know. I’m always looking for ideas!

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, everyone.

My Word for 2013

Last year I came across a blog that discussed the concept of selecting a word as your theme for the coming year. I loved the idea and decided to embrace it – my word for 2012 was give. I realized how blessed I was (and at that time I couldn’t even imagine the blessing-to-come in our daughter) and wanted to share that with others, both in resources and in time. It’s also vitally important to my husband and I that we teach our children to be givers as a natural instinct (something that can feel impossible with a 3- & 5-year-old). I’ve certainly still got room for improvement in that arena, and giving will be something I strive to continue, but I felt like it was a fitting word for the year. An unexpected lesson learned was to also be a gracious receiver. Sometimes I can be so enthusiastic to give that I might inadvertently rob someone else of the joy of giving, and I learned that receiving things wholeheartedly and joyfully can be a gift to others, too.

So, now I’m on the cusp of 2013 – it’s literally about an hour before it reaches us here in Texas – and I was struck today with my word for 2013. Honestly, up until this point I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d pick a word for the coming year, because nothing really spoke to me. Then, as I was thinking about a project I am hoping to tackle this year, I realized what my word should be:

Purpose.

photo-12It’s very easy for me – with family commitments, work commitments, and blogging commitments, among other things – to fall into autopilot mode. I rush through the morning to get us out the door on time. I mindlessly snack on things, sometimes without really even being hungry. In spare time, it’s quickly sucked away by aimlessly surfing Facebook or Pinterest. With regard to budget, it’s all-too-easy to fall off track and make impulse purchases that are, frankly, idiotic for our long-term goals.

So, I want to live with purpose this year. I want to keep my faith at my forefront. I want to think about what I say to those that mean most to me – especially my husband and kids – and make sure words are uplifting and encouraging. I want to think about what I say to those I don’t know, remembering that my interaction with them could very well make a difference in their day.

I want to be purposeful in what I eat and make healthier choices. I want to really think about items we purchase and decide if they’re worthwhile. I want us to spend our money in a way that benefits others that need it more than we do.

I want to be a more purposeful blogger, and write posts that really reflect what I think and what is going on with my life. I want to tackle a project I’m really excited about and act with purpose to follow through on bringing it to fruition.

My hope is that keeping purpose as my theme for this year will cause it to trickle down through every aspect of my life, so that I can live more fully, be there for others more often, love more deeply, be a better example of Christ, and become a better person as a result.

I almost finished this post with the sentence above, but realized that I ought to decide on a few specific actions to start implementing purpose from the start, since January 1 is looming.

  1. Go to bed earlier. I tend to stay up too late, making me tired and less effective. This will mean making better use of my time in the evenings, too.
  2. Get up earlier in the morning – early enough to allow time for a decent devotional and a brief workout, and to really focus on each of the kids without just rushing out the door. I want the start to their day to send them out the door feeling loved, valuable, and happy.
  3. Perform one purposeful, conscious act of kindness each day, whether big or small.
  4. Make, and stick to, a budget. Set a couple of goals for things to save toward for motivation. Set aside money specifically for giving, and let the kids help us think of creative ways to use that money to help others.
  5. Make a monthly meal plan and be better about shopping sales again to save money. Have a variety of meals (no more food ruts!) and incorporate plenty of veggies & fruits, even if I have to sneak them in for our five-year-old.

What is your word for 2013? And do you have any advice for me on really committing to purpose? 

Whatever your word, or your goals, or your hopes and dreams for 2013 are, I hope it’s a year of blessings and growth for you. For safety and happiness, for joy, and for memories made with those you love.

Almost Halfway There!

I’ll be 20 weeks on Sunday, and then Monday is the “big” ultrasound where we’ll (hopefully, if the baby cooperates) find out if we’re having a little boy or a little girl join our family. What’s your guess? I haven’t had any sort of intuition, but then again I didn’t with eit

We had a regular checkup yesterday and got to hear the heartbeat, which is SUCH a great sound! I’m not feeling consistent movement yet (although the doctor said the baby was moving around a ton at the appointment yesterday, based on all the noise with the doppler), so hearing the heartbeat was a nice reassurance that the baby (or “Ninja” as J dubbed him/her) is doing well.

I’m still tired a lot, as Brian can attest to (it’s typical for me to conk out on the couch around 8 or 9… still!) but other than that I’m feeling great! I’ve had cravings for beef (brisket, hamburgers, steak, etc.) which is a new thing for me – and my biggest craving by far has been for…

Bacon-wrapped jalapenos filled with cream cheese! During the first trimester when I felt nauseous so often, these were the only thing that actually sounded good to me. We’ve only made them a couple of times but mmmmm they’re so amazing!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but two of our best friends have already had babies this year, so it’s been fun for me to be around newborns again! Amanda over at MomOnReview had a baby girl in February – Baby Rea. Isn’t she adorable?

Brad and Amanda tried for several years before getting pregnant with Rea, so it was especially exciting when she was born. They’re amazing parents already, and I am sooo happy for their sweet family.

And in January Paul & Jen had their third daughter, Haven. We spend a lot of time with them – their girls and our boys are similar in age and play together really well, which is an added perk! We also swap babysitting with them from time to time (which is the BEST setup ever – I highly recommend finding friends you trust to swap with). We babysat for them last night, and the boys loved having a baby around.

So sweet!

It was a great evening despite it taking over an hour for the four older kids to fall asleep. I know we’ll have some insane days once the baby is born, but it showed us that we can figure out a way to make it work with three kids, and I loved seeing how the boys were around a newborn. They both “held” her (with my help) and were so gentle with her!

I’m off, but I’ll be posting again later this week with a great giveaway from Rubbermaid… and then of course keep an eye out next week for the big reveal!

Happy Easter!

We’ve enjoyed a leisurely morning, since we’re not going to church until 11:00. Easter baskets, bacon & toast for breakfast, and plenty of playing – fun morning! We also fit in a trip to the zoo yesterday. We had a blast, but how’s this for ironic timing – we got to watch the alligator be fed, and they gave him a rabbit. Whole. On Easter weekend. I told Brian I wondered how many kids asked their parents why the alligator ate the Easter Bunny!

Here are our little monkeys at the monkey exhibit:

I’m trucking along in the second trimester and just hit 17 weeks today – only 3 more weeks until the “big” ultrasound (I even put a little ticker in my sidebar to help keep track)! I’ve thought I felt movement several times throughout this past week, but most definitely did last night. I felt several little thumps, and Brian could even slightly feel them from the outside, which is crazy because it was much later with both of the boys. It may have been a fluke with positioning but it was still very cool. Can’t wait until movements are more consistent and the boys can feel them too!

A friend at work took a belly pic for me last week, right around 16 weeks. I feel like I started to show a lot earlier this time around, but have really “popped” within the last week or so.

In not-so-great news, the contract on our house fell through. HUGE bummer, especially because it really felt like the timing was working out perfectly. We know it’ll all work out eventually and are trying to just be patient and have faith that it’ll be the best situation for our family.

Alright, I’d better get outta here! Time to wrangle some little boys into getting dressed for church. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

And then I walked away from the computer, forgetting to click “Publish” until, oh, almost 7 hours later. Did I mention forgetfulness has been a little more rampant lately? :)

Second Trimester!

I can hardly believe that I’m already in the second trimester – my pregnancy with C flew by, but this is seriously ridiculous! I guess this time around I’m too busy to think about being pregnant a whole lot. With my first pregnancy it felt like it dragged on forever. I scrapbooked my pregnancy, if that tells you anything. Here’s hoping I remember to take any belly pics at all this time around.

I’m at this weird stage right now, though. I don’t have nausea anymore (wahoo!) so other than still being tired & falling asleep early every night, I don’t have symptoms. And it’s too early to really feel the baby move. I Googled it (I Google everything), to see if I’m normal for thinking this stage is weird, and found out I’m not alone. I do have an appointment Monday and they should use the Doppler to let us listen to the heartbeat. I should mention that I am hungry all.the.time, which means I do a lot of planning to bring mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to work. So anyway, I guess I’m not entirely symptom-free. I’m just apt to worry. :)

Since we have two boys, I’ve been asked quite a bit if we’re hoping for or were trying for a girl. I totally blame pregnancy hormones but I have to admit I get a teensy bit defensive when people ask that. I love having boys and it sometimes seems like that question implies that two boys is subpar, so hopefully we’ll hit the genetic jackpot this time and get a girl. But my rational, non-hormonal side does not get offended, because I know what people really mean. To answer the question, we’re completely on the fence. Another boy would be great and would fit right in. We know what we’re doing with boys. But a girl would be fun, too (and would probably be more prone to getting pedicures with me down the road than the boys will). It’s kind of nice to have this mindset, because we’ll be equally excited no matter which sex the ultrasound reveals. To be completely cliche, we are just praying for a healthy baby. True story.

Things are plugging along. Brian turned 30 at the beginning of the month, and the boys decided he needed a Star Wars party. I called around and found a bakery that would do a Star Wars cake (tired=no homemade cake!) and this is what we got:

An air-brushed cake with a plastic stand and figurines with light sabers. I wasn’t impressed, but the boys (Brian included) liked that the light sabers actually lit up, so I guess you’d call it a hit. All in all he had a great birthday with a party that included breakfast foods (his favorite).

J started soccer, which has definitely been a rollercoaster ride. He liked it a lot at first, but the first game ran long and it was windy/dusty, so then he decided he didn’t like it. At his next game, he literally stood on the sidelines and cried, refusing to play. We had a long talk about supporting your team and sticking with something, and we went back to practice this week (with a Sonic slush beforehand to sweeten the experience) – and he had fun! So here’s hoping this weekend’s game is a success. And doesn’t he look adorable in his uniform? I love that the boys on the team are so little that their shorts meet the top of their socks.

Another thing we’ve been dealing with lately is that the boys have decided they can’t stand getting water in their eyes when we wash their hair at bath time. Mind you, J was doing just fine for a long time, but C pitches fits and J’s decided to present a solid front, I guess. So, when we were picking up some soccer gear we grabbed goggles to try. The boys were in love with their gobbles and wore them all around the house.

Not, however, big fans of wearing them in the bathtub. Oh well, we tried. They’ll just have to suffer through!

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re also in the midst of selling our house right now. It’s really been a blessing that we got an offer and have moved forward past the option period and everything! I’ll be 100% excited about it once we actually close, but for now I’m cautiously excited. I’d prayed that it would work out for us to move before the baby is born, and it’s looking good for that to happen!

That’s about all that’s going on in our neck of the woods. I get frustrated sometimes because I have a heap of ideas (J’s big into saying he has a “heap of cars” or a “heap of Legos” lately, so I figured I’d give it a try) I want to share on my blog. And I totally missed posting a March cleaning calendar. But I’m excited for April and hope to post at least a couple of crafts and/or recipes – the things I like to post about best.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – I’m excited for a picnic at the park with my guys tonight. Yay for pleasantly warm Texas days!

It Turns Out Falling Asleep at 8 Every Night Isn’t Great for My Blog

And WHY am I falling asleep at 8:00 all the time?

I’m PREGNANT! Baby 3 is due in September. We are all really excited, especially J who has temporarily (probably permanently in his mind) named the baby Ninja. I’m 12 weeks today, so hopefully the tiredness will get a little better soon. I’m actually still up after 9:00 tonight because my sweet husband let me nap for FOUR hours this afternoon.

Aside from that, we’re on the roller coaster ride of selling our house. We’re feeling cautiously optimistic right now but I’ll wait to update until things are certain. Regardless, the task of keeping the house clean and showing-ready is no easy task, especially with two little boys who seem programmed for scattering toys as quickly and broadly as possible.

Between that, a huge project at work, and prepping for Brian’s 30th birthday this weekend (the boys decided he should have a Star Wars party), I’ve totally fallen behind on blogging. I’m glad to be back! I have a couple of fun giveaways to post this week along with an Easter craft idea.

I’m trying a Pinterest recipe idea this week – pepperoni pizza monkey bread. I think it sounds like a fun take on pizza that the boys will really like.

I packed away our bundt pan in an attempt to declutter the kitchen cabinets, so I’m going to be a little creative with execution and I’ll let you know how it turns out. Somehow I think it’ll be hard to go wrong with bread, cheese, pepperoni and garlic butter.

I’m also participating in a campaign to try out Chef Boyardee products in recipes, so watch for a post later in the week sharing our thoughts on that! We’ll have some friends over and let the kids help us cook, so I think that will be fun for everyone.

See you soon – hope you all have a great start to your week!

Project 365

I take TONS of photos, so committing to this project of taking and sharing one photo every day shouldn’t be a problem for me. Except I already didn’t take one January 1st, so I’m using one from Dec.31 instead. :) After this week I’ll probably post a week’s photos at a time on here, or you can view them on my Flickr stream here. Here are my first three:

January 1: As mentioned, actually taken 12/31, on a 70+ degree day we enjoyed at the park. C had this determined look as he rode, because he really wanted to catch up to his big brother.

January 2: Actually taken by Brian – nothing like a friendship between a boy and his dog!

January 3: Keeping the romance alive- Brian needed to run an errand at lunch so we grabbed our sandwiches and ate them in the car. We lead an exciting life, I know!


Are you participating in Project 365? I’d love to see your pics too – share a link in the comments below!

New Year… New You?

I love fresh starts. There’s just something inherently motivating about a new year, even though it’s really just the next day on the calendar. I liken it to the start of a school year, which (at least for me) was always a time of excitement for what was to come – and new school supplies, of course. Oh how I loved my Lisa Frank folders! But I digress.

So here we stand on the brink of another new year, and I’m one of those that can’t help but want to make a few changes, to set a few goals. It’d feel like I was missing out on an opportunity if I just let this newness pass me by. In the past I’d make pretty explicit tasks my focus – lose a certain amount of weight, save a certain amount of money each month. So, I suppose my initial resolution is to change how I set my resolutions. Instead of changing specific things, I’ve got a few overarching goals for 2012.

1. Make conscious decisions. No more eating mindlessly, spending thoughtlessly, or staying awake way too late unintentionally. There are many more behaviors that could fall under this, but you get the idea. I want to decidedly make prayerful choices for my life, so that a year from now I can feel good about where I am and what I’ve done. This is first on my list, because it will directly affect my success with my other resolutions.

2. Give more. I decided last January that “give” would be my word for the year. A lot of bloggers wrote about picking a theme word that would be their focus, and I really liked the idea but never got around to writing a post about it. It’s my word for 2012, too, because I’ve got room to grow in this department. I’m blessed, and want to bless others’ lives through my actions. So, I hope to give more this year – to strangers, to friends, to those who need it the most. I want to remember that giving can be big or small, and it can be of things, money, or time. And I really want to teach this concept to my boys through our actions as a family.

3. Be creative. I love to make things and bake things, and used to work on projects all the time. Now I know I waste time browsing online or watching TV, when I could be doing something I love. I want our family to actively, on a regular basis, be creative with something we enjoy, whether it’s paint, Legos, food, or anything else we dream up.

I’m sure I could come up with several other resolutions (in fact, I had to limit myself ahead of time to three so I didn’t go crazy with it), and I have to admit there’s a part of me that wants to NOT make them because it’s such a cliche. Regardless, I think we could all use an impetus for change now and then, and I’m ready to do just that.

What changes are on your list to make?

Santa Baby Blogger Mashup!

Before I started blogging, I had no clue about how many amazing bloggers there are out there (tons, by the way!) but now I’ve been blessed to get to know great bloggers and blogs. Quite a few of us from all over have teamed up to spread a little Christmas cheer your way – via song, of course! Think we ought to join up and go on tour? :)

Below the video is a list of bloggers in order of their appearance – hope you’ll pop in and say hi to everyone! Thanks especially to Toni for putting the video together and coming up with the great idea to begin with!

A Daily Dose of Toni
Nuggle Mama
Fab Grandma
The Mom Buzz
MomDot
Yellow Tennessee
My Little Me
Mom On Review
Frugal Novice
Frosted Fingers
The Suburban Mom
Moscato Mom
Write Spell
Lindsay Blogs
Beautiful Side of Hectic
Not Quite Susie Homemaker