Be Encouraged.

The bummer of a word that keeps rearing its ugly head in this journey…discouraged.  Why?   Life can just be plain discouraging, can’t it?  I’m sure I don’t need to list all the reasons why, but here are some that could be relevant to you and me: physical limitations, emotional baggage, enormous responsibilities, personal failures and disappointments, financial stresses, professional commitments and duties, relationship struggles and children (enough said).  What am I missing?  

Did you notice that the word can in the above paragraph is italicized?  Because although life circumstances really can sometimes discourage a person, conversely there are times we receive the exact opposite.  When those opportunities appear in my life, I try to pounce all over them.  Next month brings to me ways in which I can do just that.  Be encouraged!

March = two (!) very different and encouraging conferences.  I often hear if you want to be great suround yourself with great people.  This is exactly what I feel like I get to do.  Hang around and learn from some amazingly talented, smart, motivated, selfless and encouraging women.   One day and 4 workshops later, I walk away brimming with ideas and new found encouragement. 

I’ve never experienced the second conference before so I’m going into it with limited expectations.  It will be more of a retreat experience in which I am surrounded by amazingly wonderful, strong , dynamic women and get to be encouraged in a spiritual way with words, music and prayer!

Sounds good for me and very refreshing 🙂

It was way too cool…

To not post about it, the Blizzard of 2011!

Here are some pics: That don’t do it justice

Here are some tidbits that I will always remember

  • State of IL claimed to be in a state of emergency
  • Lake shore drive got shut down…shut down!
  • Snow drifts of 5 to 6 ft. high
  • Snow lightning…I have never seen snow lightning in my life
  • It is considered the 3rd largest blizzard Chicago has EVER seen

Was that dramatic enough for you?

I am thankful we had food and power and our safety.  I can say it was cool because I had no where to go for the duration of it. I wasn’t stuck in my car on the dangerous roads or even inconvenienced by it in the least.  It was a great excuse to stay in our jammies, watch movies, eat snacks, read books and go play in it.

Wow, Wow, Wow!  I’m guessing this snow will still be around here until spring, boo.

Oh yeah, here is what my couches turned into:

Systems… that actually work

  • Sweet!
  • Finally!
  • Thank Goodness!
  • Yes!
  • Hip Hip Hooray!

All things that are said when you find a “system” that you can use AND it actually works. 

Here is the biggest thing I’ve learned about systems; you cannot copy them from others.  It just won’t work for you the same it works for them.  Every family and person is so different, however, you can take bits and pieces and put them all together to make it your own.  This system was inspired by a friend who has a list of all the meals that she makes for her family in in 1 central location, the “reminder binder”.  (The reminder binder is another post for another day.  Maybe she’ll guest post for me on that system ;)) 

Over lots and lots of time, I’ve gathered recipes that I’d consider staples for our family from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, other people and combined them in my own binder.  Here she is…

Front pocket:  Recipes pulled for upcoming week

Middle sections:  Recipes that we like to eat, staples at our house for breakfast, main courses, side dishes, treats and snacks

Back pocket:  Chaos… I mean, recipes that I’d like to try out to see if they will “make the cut” into the binder. Also, recipes that I just haven’t gotten around to adding to the appropriate place…yet.

Imagine what a creative person could do to this binder?  It could be cute, pretty, trendy and practical.  Maybe someday. 

Here is a couple of criteria that increases the chance of a recipe getting into my binder and some other tid bits:

–  Its gotta be easy
–  Staple ingredient recipes work best
–  Make the harder things on easier days, crock pot meals or such on the busier days
–  Always have a couple “go-to” meals in a pinch (mine are bean burritos, homemade chicken nuggets and pasta)
–  Be really flexible

Here is how the dinner binder works:

Sunday: inventory fridge, check grocery store ads for sale prices, match sale ingredients with list of standard meals or the try-out pile, create meal plan for the week and pull the recipes to front pocket for easy access. Lastly, someone, somehow go get the groceries….Done for the WEEK (except for prep, eating and clean up, but that’s obvious).  

Why having this plan and order is SO worth it to me:  Saves me time.    I will 100% admit I still don’t love to menu plan. Over time, I’ve realized I actually don’t mind cooking…most days 😉  It does require a bit of time up front.  I spend about an hour on Sundays organizing this, but overall,  it saves lots of time during the week. 

Saves me  energy. “What the heck is for dinner tonight?” while cruising through cook books and standing at the pantry door with hungry people needing to eat 10 minutes ago is kind of stressful and leads me to the next reason this system is worth it to me. 

It saves our family money.  Why?  Because when I was standing at the pantry door at 5:45 pm, when we reach meltdown hungry toddler mode at 5:30, I’d get on the phone and order pizza or chinese or burgers and it would inevitably cost us lots of money.  Lots and lots of money. 

Lastly, I love it because it is personalized.  How many recipe books do you have around your home and how may things do you actually make from them?  This binder is chalk full of tried and true/keeper recipes.  It gives us a bunch of staple options without eating the same 3 things every week and plenty of opportunities to try something new.  If we like it, it stays.  If we don’t, well at least we tried.

So, there is one system that took a while to put in place, but works for us.  Now, to find a system that actually works for:  time managment, orgainzation, cleaning and all the rest.

I’m working on them…I’ll be sure to post if something actually clicks for me.  Let me know your favorite systems you use. oh and yeah..I’m still looking for an awesome chili recipe.  I’ve tried 3 and none of them made the cut.  Can you help? 

Sweet!  Finally!  Thank Goodness!  Yes!  Hip Hip Hooray for the dinner binder!

We Are Going to Disney!!!

….Well in 2 years that is, BUT, we have $75.00 (soon to be 150.00) in our Disney fund and we are setting some goals to help realize our family dream vacation, Disney World!

This is a new series I’m starting on mommydreams.net!  What is your dream….?  Why, for no other reason than, it is FUN!  So join me for the fourth Thursday (or whatever day of the 4th week) to voice your dream.

What is your dream vacation??

This may sound weird, but I kind of think traveling is over rated.  (Kyle, don’t gasp). I have a sister who went on a 3 month honeymoon and is constantly wanting to travel as well as a brother that doesn’t keep still.  He is the reason I’ve been able to travel to places like Japan and others in my family visited him in Spain.  I have another younger sister who travels the US, spending every night in a hotel, for her job.  Crazy travelers in my family.

However, me, I’ve already stated how my dream vacations are the ones we spend on a lake or on a boat close to home.  Just goes to show you how different every one’s idea of a dream vacation is.

In my little travel experience including: Hawaii, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Ireland, Bahamas, and places in the US, I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that it may be a tad over rated.  Or maybe the real discovery is I am more of a homebody.  I have enjoyed having new experience and seeing different cultures.  It is a great and fun thing to do. 

Now, don’t get me wrong…if someone were to say I won an all expense paid trip to Australia or Greece, I’d be over the moon. I mean who wouldn’t?  I’d enjoy every second.  Its just not something I will go out of my way to throw lots of energy and resources at.  If I never get my kids anywhere outside of the United States, I won’t feel like they don’t have a fulfilled life.   If we do, great!

However,  there is one place we dream of taking our family…Disney world! 

(I know lots of people who think this place is over rated). It will take lots of energy and resources to get there so we’ve made it a bit of a priority 🙂

I know there are many, many things that can happen between now and then that could derail this plan. We must start somewhere though and we have started!  For today’s post:  Here we come Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy and all you Disney films.  Will you wait for us?

AHHH…

Until then, we’ll look forward to a “stay-cation” to KeyLime Cove soon.  A makeshift kind of Florida if you will.

Special Interview!

I saw this idea floating around blogosphere and I HAD to do it because I have a feeling it will be one of my favorite posts of all time 😉

An Interview with Dillon’s (4 year old self)!

What is something Mommy always says to you?
clean up

What makes mommy happy?
when I do a chore

What makes mommy sad?
rain

How does mommy make you laugh?
puts me in the garbage

What was mommy like as a child?
liked to build castles

How old is mommy?
33 (pretty close, buddy, pretty close)

How tall is mommy?
(shows me an arm length)

What is mommy’s favorite thing to do with you?
play zhu zhu pets

What does mommy do when you are not around?
I don’t know, I’m always around.

If mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
playing hockey

What is mommy really good at?
washing the sink (wow, I promise I DO NOT clean all day in the least)

What is mommy not really good at?
I don’t know.

What is mommy’s favorite food?
pizza

If mommy was a cartoon character, who would she be?
a ballerina

What do you and mommy do together?
build gingerbread houses

How are you and mommy the same?
Our shirts (we both had stripes on)

How are you and mommy different?
When we change our clothes.

How do you know mommy loves you?
(Shows me an arm length) and says “this much”!

Where is mommy’s favorite place to go?
the mall

Thanks for your time, kind Dillon!

Best Piece of Advice…

The best piece of advice I’ve received all week…stop procrastinating.  Its not really that profound, is it?  However, I’ve been procrastinating quite a bit for a couple of weeks.

Instead of putting my Christmas deocration boxes away in the storage  hole, which requires pulling everything out, rearranging and organizing to get them all back in, I’ve putsed (sp) around, read and decided there will be a different time when I’ll get to work on that.  Oops, there they have sat for a week and a half for us all to trip over and enjoy their beauty, not. 

Instead of planning some food and making some easy peesy stuff for the freezer, I’ve procrastinated. It needs to be done cause I’m pretty sure we haven’t eaten anything real in this house for 3 weeks now. 

Oh boy, and that is just two little things I’ve procrastinated.  I’ve got more, but I’m going to heed that best piece of advice for the week and get to work on the boxes…yes, I’m going to get to work on the boxes!

What are you procrastinating AND what do you do instead? 

Happy, happy day.

Why is that so hard?

Why is “giving” so hard, anyways, you ask?   

Cause I am a in my comfort box kind a gal.  If I have to take a couple steps out of my comfort zone, I get fearful.  Fearful of starting and not finishing, fear of failing, fear of not doing it good enough, fear of disappointing. 

I do now know that failure is not always bad.  I’ve failed many times over in different areas of life.  It was a journey to get to that point, though. So even if I do come back and tell you I only made it to February the “failure” would be part of my growth for the year.

Here is a quick illustration of this.  For thanksgiving, I wanted to provide a meal for an elderly person whom had no family to go to and needed a special meal provided to her.  In my head, I wanted to be able to bring something like this

But knew it would probably end up like this:

A box of canned everything.   I knew in my heart that it would of been acceptable and enough, but what if it ended up being a disappointment to the recipient? 

So, instead I did nothing.

Irrational, illogical.  Yes, I agree.  Does it make sense now why this little (big to me) goal is a whooper to me?  I push forward…

First Post for a New Year

Home Sweet Home!  A whirlwind of a couple of weeks.  Lots of love, laughter and good times, but it is always so good to come home.

A brand new year!  One would think the first post of the year would be profound and well thought out.  This is not going to be that post.  

I do want to quickly write about my new resolution for this year in an attempt to hold me accountable.  I’ve already tried to sideline it.  It’s simply to serve more.  Why?  Cause I’m being hounded “led” to.  I’ve also thought this would be a good life teaching moment.  Sorry little people.  Yep, I’m dragging our boys into it too. 

This is going to be harder, I think, for me than last years.  I’ll do a differnt post about why that is the case because I can’t be the only one who fears these things. 

I’m also excited to post about what we are working on, how its turning out (if it is turning out) and details about the journey throughout the year.  

What did you come up with for 2011?

Life Lessons from the Kiddos- Slow Down!

I can’t slow down.  I have a lot on my plate.  There are things to get organized, put away, cleaned up, returned, 1/2 priced steals to find, places to pack for, and a car to load up. 

There is grocery shopping to do, menus to plan, coupons to clip, and cookies to bake.  There is ALWAYS laundry to do and why oh why do I always decide this time of the year would be a good time to go through closets and sort and giveaway?

There are pictures to print and put in an album, thank yous to write, an annual letter of the year to compose for the kids.  There are new budgets to write, goals to gleam and writing to do.  There is ALWAYS a good read and library returns that go along with that.

But then, I look at my boys and I’m encouraged to slow down.  How happy and content they are to fill their morning with Build Your Own City.  That’s it.  Nothing else. 

None of my list is pressing. Not.one.thing.  Thank you little ones for demonstrating the value of slowing down.  I could learn a few things by doing  just that.

Enjoy your week of rest and slowing down 😉

7 Quick Takes- December 17, 2010

1.)  This week simply got away from me.  Before I knew it, it was Wednesday.  Then Thursday and oops it’s Friday.  Its a busy time for everyone and I’m sure about this time next month I will not remember what was putting life on the fast track.

2.)  I happened upon a blog that I normally do not read, however, I read these posts and thought to myself, “No way, I do love your posts Ms. ‘My Cup to Yours’ blogger”.  Check out this.

I really related to the part in the post where she stated this as most of it applies and is true for me:

Maybe your life’s dream is to be a mom. I can relate to that; ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to have kids. I knew I wanted to stay home with them, too. And when our daughter was born, even though it meant giving up a great career and changing our lifestyle a bit, quitting my job and staying home was where my heart was.

But I had other dreams too.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom actually opened the door for me to rediscover what those dreams were

3.) And then this post! Wow, a blogger after my own heart.  I haven’t really processed that post.  Responsibility taken to a whole other level.  I’m going to ponder.  I’m probably checking out her blog more often!

4.)  My very, very favorite parts of this week were watching Brayden as he got home from seeing Barney with his dad.  He was so darn happy.  A Barney “high” for a full 2 days. 

Also, watching Dillon in his Christmas performance at school.  He sang so loud!  This week was “all good”!

5.)  Christmas shopping is almost come to a halt for this family.  Thankfully, because we have certainly done our part in stimulating the economy.  Our Christmas wad has been spent 😉 

How is your Christmas shopping going?  I’ve heard of a few people who haven’t even started.

6.) Does a fresh new daily planner make anyone else happy?  I’m trying out a new “system” this year.  So far I like this planner a lot.  But then again I like all journals, pads of paper, pens…Actually, just put me in an office supply store, I am in a bit of bliss.  Geeky, girl for sure.

7.)  I’m thinking it’s a great time to take an intentional blogging/computer respite.  That is exactly what I’ll aim for in the next few weeks.  I can just say Merry Christmas a full 8 days early 🙂

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