Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten {Thankful Journal}

Here's 10 reasons why you should start a Thankful Journal:

1. Your perspective on day to day life changes. The rule is that you must write at least 5 EACH day. So no matter how your day is going you search for things to be grateful for, thus shifting your focus on the negative to the positive.

2. You begin to love the little things. Admit it. Life gets busy and when it gets busy you tend to lose sight of those things that should matter the most; like when your child stops what their doing to show you how much they love you, or truly enjoying a compliment someone gave...

3. Your prayer life improves. God gives and He takes away; when I'm writing in my journal I'm making a conscience effort to thank HIM for all that He has given me. It's an easy way to glorify Him. Now I'm finding myself thanking Him as I enjoy a simple walk to the church while holding my husbands hand - something I never would've done a year ago.

4. You suddenly don't need anything. As I began to thank God for all that He has given me I began to realize that I don't need a single thing. I don't need more shoes, clothes, scarves, money, a nicer vehicle, a bigger kitchen, finished house, because I have more than I could ever want or need in this lifetime.

5. Satisfaction in all life's circumstances improves. No matter what happens, I have at least 5 things to be grateful for during any given day. So on those days that are difficult, I go back and read all that I've been blessed with and "satisfaction" takes care of itself.

6. Reflecting on past "thank-you's" is a mood booster. This one is pretty self explanatory, but if I'm feeling down I read what I've written in the past and it always improves my mood, because I have so much for which to be thankful!

7. You become more disciplined in your thinking. Any negative thoughts are pushed aside as you focus on finding your 5 thank-you's.

8. Buying a cute, empty journal is so much fun! Shopping in and of itself is fun, (call me a nerd) but I get all giddy when buying a journal full of empty pages to fill (with some fun pens to use). I also go home and decorate it, which is also a ton of fun. (Simple pleasures often bring the most joy.)

9. Your HISTORY is recorded. You'll know what happened on such-and-such day and reflecting on any event in a positive way changes the way you think and feel. Most of the time you can look back and see God's hand in it all and glorify Him in it.

10. Doing it with someone draws you closer together. Every day since February my sisters and I read our thank-you's to one another. Recently I have two friends that joined me in starting a thankful journal and we also share our thank-you's daily. I invited the girl I disciple to do it with me as well. So I'm privileged to listen to 5 different women share their "thank-you's" from the previous day and I get to share mine with them. I'm sharing some of the most intimate pieces of my day with some amazing women - that would draw anyone close together. Plus, sharing my thank-you's with my sisters and friends also holds me accountable; knowing that I have to share my thank-you's forces me to think positively and BE THANKFUL no matter what.  
The moments I enjoy most are sitting down to a cup of coffee and listening to my sisters tell me their thank-you's. Life is good.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank my sister Mel for starting this and being consistent in it. She's a blessing. Because this simple task has changed my life in so many ways, I want to encourage you to start a thankful journal as well. It's a journey that will change you. Being thankful day in and day out for ALL life's blessings is a discipline, not just a season. Begin your "Thankful Journal Journey" this Thanksgiving Season and enjoy all God has given you - big and small.

30 Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude [Day 4,5,&6]

Fall is my favorite season. I love the 60-70 degree weather, the smell of dry leaves, the crisp-fresh air, and the colorful, changing leaves! I'm not sure I have a favorite color but I have favorite combinations like teal, gray and pink, or orange, red, green, yellow and brown, or red, black and brown or or or. That's probably why I love spring and fall so much: the combination of COLORS! 

Day 5 was the morning sky. I set my alarm to watch the sun come up, but yesterday was a gloomy, gray day. It was a perfect day to relax, curled up under a blanket and reading a book or hanging out with my Bean, but I spent it cleaning my messy house. I didn't check everything off my "to-do" list but I worked hard alllllll day to accomplish a lot of it. It was worth it, despite zero motivation. So here's to another day in the life of a stay-at-home mommy....
The morning sky was the same as my afternoon sky: gray and cloudy. This is Bean sitting at the table, eating and dreaming about being outside in this mess. 
Day 6 is books and anyone that knows me, knows I'm a big fan. Here's -a-small-part- of my collection. My theory is that you can never have too many... I'm glad it was on the "Gratitude" list, because I'm most definitely grateful for books. They help keep life interesting, imaginative, and thought provoking.

Tomorrow is "something funny" and between Quigley, Marley, and little Bean I'm sure I won't have any issues finding a perfect picture opportunity during the day. They keep me on my toes, that's for sure, and I'm most definitely grateful for that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

30 Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude [Day 3: Happiness]

I wait until the end of the day to post my favorite photo to go along with the day's theme, so I'm a day behind on posting it here. Yesterday's theme was happiness. All day I was reflecting on the many the ways in which God has blessed me: I'm happy because I have an amazing husband. I'm happy because together we share in the joy of having a beautiful daughter. I'm happy because our dogs show us daily the meaning of unconditional love. I'm happy because I have a phenomenal family. I'm happy because I have an amazing church family. I'm happy because I have an amazing group of women that I'm blessed to call friends. I have so so so so so many reasons to be happy. And yesterday I spent the day thanking God for giving me happiness. I had zero issues in capturing happiness.
We decided to spend the evening grilling at a lake approximately 10 minutes from where we live. My sister and her hubby live an island life and filled our freezer full of fresh seafood on their visit this summer, so we grabbed the lobster tail, a colorful vegetable arrangement (thanks to Bountiful Baskets), garlic bread, and a couple of Redd's Apple Ale and headed down the road. It was an awesome night.

I truly believe happiness is found in the small things that God gave us to enjoy, like...
... colorful, yummy vegetables sauteed over an open fire with butter and sea salt...

... a dog and his ball...

... a wonderful husband who's an amazing s'more maker...

... a daughter who's favorite place to be is outside AND eating to boot...
... a daughters first experience eating (and LOVING) s'mores...

... and happiness is for sure in an October Silhouette that truly reflects the love between a father and his daughter...
I didn't realize that undertaking this photo challenge would force me to look for perfect picture opportunities in the simplest, but most amazing things like smiles, leaves, or a morning sky. Once I find that "perfect picture" I also find myself thanking God for giving me the opportunity to enjoy it. It's like a picture thankful journal and one I'll probably do every year!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

30 Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude [Day 2: Smile]

I am most definitely grateful for this beautiful smile. I have plenty of opportunities to take pictures of this smile throughout my day and I had a hard time choosing. I narrowed it down to 2; aren't they all adorable?
All smiles on the merry-go-round!

She hysterically giggled the entire time. This smile melts my heart!

Friday, October 25, 2013

30 Day Photo Challenge: Gratitude [Day 1: Favorite Food]

I love photo challenges and this one I'm considering as part of my thankful journal. Everything that is listed are things I should be thankful for and as I'm searching for a perfect picture opportunity, I'll be thanking God for blessing me with it. Join me!

Day 1 was an inner debate between no-bake cookies and bread. Bread won.
Especially fresh-right-out-of-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth bread...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Tis the Season {To Be Thankful!}

Thanks be to my sister Mel who initiated a plan to start a daily thankful journal, who was consistent in doing it daily, and who holds me accountable to be thankful in all circumstances every single day. It helps me on days like today, when I'm in this awful, weird, unexplainable funk. This attitude of mine is making me feel melancholy and unmotivated to even step foot out of my front door. Most of the time music helps me, or reading the Bible helps me, or prayer helps me, but today that funk seems to be seething every fiber of my being and so I'm forcing myself to find 5 things to be grateful for right now, it is the season after all. 

There's been many times since February of this year, when we started this "Thankful Journal Journey," that we've joked, "I had to really dig deep today!" and I'm thinking today is one of those days. Still, i'ts wonderful to be able to look back and see the changes that have taken place as a result of thinking positively and being grateful in all circumstances, even days like today. So today, despite my funk, I'm thanking God for all my blessings including...

  1. Songs like "Consume Me" by D.C. Talk. Lord, consume me, especially in moments like this when I'm irritated with how my jeans don't fit, or Brielle emptying the laundry basket because I haven't put the clothes away yet, or that the dishes are still dirty after running the dishwasher, or my messy house that I feel like I'm constantly picking up. Change my attitude, make me more like YOU. Thank you for songs like "Consume Me" that remind me to immerse myself in You. 
  2. I've already filled a journal, so thank you Lord that I have enough blessings to fill these pages and then some. Today marks the day I need to buy a new one. Is it odd that I'm super excited about that?
  3. Thank you for hot green tea and places like goodreads.com and Pinterest that force me to sit down, relax, and enjoy something - but then make me feel guilty for accomplishing absolutely nothing. CURSE YOU PINTEREST!
  4. For friends like Deb and birthday celebrations, which also means I get to shop for a present. Hehe.
  5.  The book Ghastlies, Goops, & Pincushions by X.J. Kennedy is definitely a mood booster, especially this poem:
My Scottish great-granduncle Milt's
Favorite sport is to climb up on stilts
And then stand on his head,
Which arouses great dread
And the warning, "Don't do that in kilts!"

Ghastlies, Goops, & Pincushions

Ghastlies, Goops & Pincushions: Nonsense VerseGhastlies, Goops & Pincushions: Nonsense Verse by X.J. Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know how I ended up with this gem (probably one of my thrift store finds) but I'm ever so grateful that I dug it out of my pile of books to read to my little Briella Bean. I read one poem and couldn't stop! I was giggling at all of them, which of course, made her giggle along with me. There wasn't one I disliked and of the 50 some odd poems, I LOVED over half of them. If you're a fan of absurd goofiness, rhyming, word plays, and absolutely delightful writing, this is a must read book of poems - for all ages!

View all my reviews

"A Giraffe & Her Half" Baby Shower

This shower was a joy to throw. Not just because I love the mommy-to-be, but also because I had the privelege to work with her best friend Jessica. It's always way less stressful when I have people willing to help me put it together, especially when it involves evenings filled with wonderful food, coffee or hot chocolate and plenty of good laughs. Plus, it's so much easier to throw a shower for someone when the person helping you knows that person's likes and dislikes.

It all turned out so cute and God made His presence known throughout the planning and preparation for the shower in more ways than I can count, but I'll share one story specifically. I ordered 2 yards of burlap from JoAnn's Fabric (I had a 50% off coupon to use). Four days before the shower I received an email stating the fabric had been processed and will ship the very next day. When I ordered it I thought standard shipping would do because three weeks was ample time to get it here and complete the project, right? Well, the email specifically noted that with standard shipping I should typically allow 4-7 days, once processed! (EEEEEEEK!) That meant that I'd be getting it after the shower and because I live in a place that does not have a store that offers burlap, I freaked out a tad and wrote in my thankful journal, "Lord, PLEASE work a miracle and get me the fabric here before Saturday!" Well, "work a miracle" HE did. I received it the VERY NEXT DAY. I have been in awe of Him ever since. Yes, it's just fabric, but the fabric isn't the point. The point is that it took less than 24 hours for God to answer my prayer, because He's amazing!

Due to the fact that God is amazing, we were able to complete the projects we had in mind. The Mommy-to-be loves burlap and she seemed to enjoy what we had made, so I'm beyond thankful for that answer to prayer.
This guy was super easy to make. I drew the design I wanted on a piece of cardboard, cut it out and then traced around it on a piece of burlap. I folded the burlap over to cut the two sides (front and back), hot glued the back side onto the cardboard piece, glued the top edges of the front piece on, stuffed it with grocery bags and finished gluing the edges. I then cut out purple giraffe spots out of felt, glued them on, and used pink felt fabric for his face and ears. (The eyes are little green buttons.) Once that was complete, I outlined what I had traced with permanent marker with puffy fabric paint. I used twine to create the puffs for the tail and hair, glued them on and drew a smiley face with puffy fabric paint. Once it was dry I glued twine on the back so this cute little burlap giraffe could be hung up... and voila! This took me a couple hours (not including dry time) to complete. So simple and so cute!
Jessica made this adorable frame, which was the theme for the activity (explained later).

The center pieces were my favorite part. It was so simple and it had special significance. The wooden pieces displayed were used in Ben and Jill's wedding a year ago. We couldn't resist re-using them for her baby shower.

Jessica happened to find the giraffe fabric pieces in a clearance rack and bought them all. We tied giraffe ribbon around the mason jars and filled them with giraffe edibles: twigs and leaves!

Scattered on each table were 10 giraffe facts. For a prize the guest were encouraged to mingle and decide which were true and which were false. Hmmmmm... is this statement true? :)
First thing we did was read a book, which was also the guest book and the inspiration for this showers theme: "A Giraffe & Her Half"

Close Up of the onsie I made...
The book inspired her invitations as well (created using Punchbowl).
The poem I wrote,
"Jill and her half are as cute as can be
So let's celebrate this new mom and her little "mini me"
It'll be an afternoon full of fun-filled laughs
An afternoon to bless "A Giraffe and Her Half"
Jessica had the honor of reading the book, Shel Silverstein is such an amazing author, the kids in the audience LOVED it (which of course was everyone)!

After she read the book we had devotions, where I talked about what Titus 2:3 women are to teach younger women: loving your husbands and children. In a very short few minutes I tried to give a glimpse of that and what it means Biblically. I saw this quote once that stated, "The greatest thing a man can do for his children is love their mother." and explained that also applied to women, "The greatest thing a woman can do for her children is love their father." So what does love look like? We talked about the qualities of love Paul described in 1 Corinthians: patience, kindness, self-less-ness, serving each other, &etc. Still, there's someone that always comes to mind when I think of motherly love and that's Mary, Jesus' mother. Yes, she was the mother of God, so we can (in all honesty) never relate to her, but every time Brielle does something I never want to forget I always think of Mary and how Luke described in her chapter 2:19 and 2:51, "And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart." That statement stops me in my tracks every time I read it. I didn't dive into what it means exactly, what it meant to treasure up the son of God, and I can't imagine the depth of love Mary must've felt for Jesus. Still, every single mother can agree that time flies, you blink and before you know it you're child is 1 and many mothers can attest to blinking and their child is off to college or walking down the isle, so treasure it up. Don't forget.

After devotions the women were encouraged to create something giraffe so that Jill could fill the empty frames as a collage of the wonderful giraffe items made for her. They were to go along with the frame Jessica had made...
Eat, Talk, Create, Laugh, Joke, Have FUN! That was the afternoon. It was so relaxing!

You can never go wrong with yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, spinach-artichoke dip with chips and vege's, and a pumpkin pie dip with honey graham crackers. All washed down with hot apple cider (caramel and cinnamon sticks included).
The food encouraged crafting and the giraffe creations turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself.

As the women were still creating, Jill opened presents. The diaper cake made by Rhonda, was my favorite. How adorable is that?!

I'd say it was another successful afternoon!
Jill & Jessica
Most importantly, the mom-to-be walked away with a ton of great stuff and I think SHE enjoyed her afternoon centered around her giraffe themed nursery and her little half.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday's Top Ten: Postpartum-What to Expect [Without Sugar Coating It]

If you're a first time mom needing to know if what you're going through is the norm, READ THIS AND RELATE! I wish someone would've told me (realistically) what was normal and what wasn't after having a baby (I had a c-section so some of my postpartum experiences will be different from those mommy's who had a vaginal delivery), I think I would've avoided some of the issues I had, so here it is: the truth about your postpartum experiences (and I won't sugar coat it)...

1. If they tell you your nipples will not be sore from breastfeeding, they're lying. Learning how to latch correctly hurts like crazy. Once you get it down, it's nothing, but you might bleed, your nipples might crack, and your boobs will grow astronomically in a very short time period. Lanolin will be your best friend.

2. It's been a year since my surgery but my scar will still hurt occasionally. In fact, I've talked to mom's who's "baby" is 4 years old and their scar still hurts occasionally. Remember, you had major surgery and the healing process takes forever, be kind to yourself.

3. You're first #2 bathroom experience will NOT be a fun one. It will be abnormally large and difficult to push out. It seriously took me 30 minutes or more, and it took over 24 hours to flush. Afterwards I was sweating profusely and joked that this better be the biggest crap I've ever taken in my life. When I saw the result, I burst out laughing and felt 100 pounds lighter. We joked I could've entered it in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. My poor husband.

4. It took me at least 6 months (maybe more) to finally put away my maternity clothes.

5. My belly button is forever changed (it's kinda weird and all stretched out, and I've only had one child!).

6. When you stop breastfeeding you will continue to produce milk for a long time afterwards. You get so full (and you shouldn't pump because your body will tell you to keep producing) that you have to "milk" yourself in order to stay sane. It's so uncomfortable and any contact what-so-ever hurts like the dickens.

7. Sex for the first few timeS after giving birth does hurt (even after a c-section).

8. Your first period after breastfeeding will be abnormally heavy and bright red. Don't freak out like I did (I was having flashbacks to the day I hemorrhaged).

9. You will be hungry all the time while breastfeeding (just like when you were pregnant). I realized that I was consuming at least 3000 calories during the day, AND I WAS LOSING WEIGHT. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of you, eat up!

10. After you've had your baby the nurses will push on your stomach, and it does hurt, a lot.

Thankfully, all of the things listed are well worth it considering the result: a beautiful baby! We were meant to do this and I consider it awesome to be part of such an amazing miracle. God promised it was going to hurt and He wasn't kidding (proof He is a God of His Word!). Pain is all part of the process, but the intense pain you WILL experience during delivery and even before and after, are forgotten once you hold your precious child in your arms. (Okay, sorta forgotten. Forgotten enough that you'll do it again, and again, and again.)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Fun at Fanny's Fruit Farm

This weekend we took Bean to a pumpkin patch at Fanny's Fruit Farm in Gurley, NE. She had so much fun and was exhausted at the end of a very busy day! I recommend checking this place out if you live in the surrounding area.

The price of admission was only $7 and pumpkin prices varied between $1-$5 depending on the size of pumpkin you picked. I thought it was worth the price considering how Briella Bean enjoyed every last minute of it.

They have little bitty goats that Brielle absolutely LOVED!
THE moment she saw the little goats she started to giggle and it did not stop until they were out of sight. I love this picture because it captures her utter excitement!

When they approached her (they were perfect -Bean- size) she wasn't too sure about them at first and stayed hidden in Daddy.
Goat Kisses! I LOVE this picture as well!
She followed this white one around for quite a while. She was obsessed and tried so very hard to give it aw-aw-aw's! She only accomplished grabbing it's hind quarters, haha.

Trying to give it aw-aw-aw's.

Little pats are included in her aw-aw-aw's.

There was a little chair in the goat pin and the goats flocked to her after I set her in it, first there was one...
... eating her shirt...

... then there were two...

... not sure what to think...

... she's had enough, but she's hysterically giggling still...

... trying to get away and still has belly laughs...
I don't know which she enjoyed more, the goats or the pumpkin patch itself!

I thought the buildings were so cool and had to share them with you...
Goat Barn
Chicken coop
You could gather eggs if you wanted... Bean wanted one so bad... anything round she slams on the floor (in her world that's playing catch) and we had to quickly leave the premises so that we didn't have a mess on our hands and she wasn't very happy that mommy wouldn't let her have one... so enough with the chicken coop.

Bean wanted to go back to the Goat Barn!
But we went to the Corn Maze instead...

We stopped to take pictures on the haybales located in the middle of the maze. I'm glad we did. The sun was intense and no matter if you were facing it or had  your back to it, pictures were  hard to take with an iPhone. Still, I think they turned out pretty good.

Kyle's really good at these things. Every single time I'm in a maze Kyle gets us out in no time flat, I don't know how he does it, but I always, always, always follow him, and sure enough his parents took a different route and Kyle had to guide them out... haha... just trust me when I say, "follow Kyle!"

View from inside the Corn Maze of Fanny's Fruit Farm.
We have yet to get family pictures so whenever there's a chance I ask someone to take one of us! I love how it turned out!

After making it through the Corn Maze we ventured through the Pumpkin Patch. Again, I don't know which one Brielle loved most: the Pumpkin Patch or the Goat's.
Lots to choose from...

Perfect Bean-Sized Pumpkin!

She loved it (she's giving pumpkin kisses)!
Giving it love pats.

Oh.my.goodness. look at those chubby hands!
Brielle was in Pumpkin Paradise!

There were pumpkin's everywhere and Bean wanted them all!

Trying so so hard to pick it up.
This is what she does when she loves something: puts her hand under her chin and rocks back and forth while saying, "aw-aw-aw" and then points at whatever gets her affection. In this case it was a very large green pumpkin.

Giving it "aw-aw-aw" love pats.
Aunt Sydnie searched the patch for the perfect pumpkin. Whatever one she picked, Brielle loved.

She wanted nothing to do with the stroller. She wanted to walk! However, with the ground being uneven she'd fall and trip every couple steps, but you can learn a lot about life by watching her walk: fall down, get back up, try again, fall down, get back up, try again... over and over and over again.
The stroller did serve its purpose.
We loaded our pumpkins and Bean up in a wagon and went on our way.
She kept grunting and making this face. At first we thought she was filling her diaper, but then realized she was trying very hard to pick the pumpkin up! Haha!

My mother-in-law and I took Bean on the hayrack ride while Aunt Sydnie, Grandpa and Daddy went to the Haunted Hollows.
I didn't mean to cut Brielle out of the picture, but it was a good one of Tammy and I none-the-less, so I had to share it!

Patty Cake is always a favorite game.
"I do it myself!"
The day was winding down, but we had to stop at the little play house and browse through the gift shop. I'm surprised Brielle held it together because she was already showing signs of being a sleepy baby during the corn maze with a little eye rubbage, but she seemed to enjoy the little playhouse, play horse, and all the things for her to do.

The playhouse smashed the witch!

She LOVED this! It inspired Grandma and Grandpa to get theirs out of storage for when she comes to visit them.
Sydnie and I had fun in the gift shop trying on all their hats. I EASILY would've purchased one of these because they were so stinkin' adorable! But Kyle said I didn't need one, I'm not sure what he meant by that... ;)

If you couldn't tell from the pictures we had a marvelous day. Thank you Fanny's Fruit Farm for providing a wonderful place for us to get out as a family and have a fun filled fall day! After days like this I feel beyond blessed for the life God has given us and the people He's put in our lives, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season.