Thursday, January 30, 2014

Growing Up...

I am addicted to reality TV shows. Not the crazy "Real World" or "Bachelor" type reality TV. I'm addicted to the food competition type shows.

Recently, I have locked on to The Taste. I love it. At the beginning of the season, when the contestants audition, they always talk about who they are, their age, and what they do for a living. As I watch the audition shows I see that a lot of the contestants are very close, if not exactly my age.

Its then that I start to think about how old I am. I mean I am going to be 28 next month. When do I begin to feel like I'm an adult?

I know it probably sounds silly but I honestly have times that I don't feel any different, or less confused about life I guess you could say, than I did when I was a sophomore in high school. I look back on my life and some days I wonder how I got to where I am. Not that where I am is a bad place I just don't remember growing up.

I always had this thought when I was a kid that when I became an adult I would just feel different, like I would have this confidence in myself. I thought that once I got married it would solidify my place in the adult world. And yet I still felt just as lost in my new role. Then I figured once I had my first child that the confidence would have to set in. How else was I going to raise this new little person in my life and keep him alive and well?    However, I find that I as I get older and my job titles continue to evolve I just get less and less confident in my life and my decisions. I find myself second guessing and questioning everything I do. I need someone around me to tell me that what I am doing is the right thing, no matter what it might be.

Every so often I will feel a surge of confidence and I take a step to get involved in something new or go out on a limb. And then as I begin to step out I feel as if what ever decision I make there is stepped over and undermined. So I find myself right back where I began, second guessing and feeling out of my element.

Will I ever begin to feel like I am not drowning in life? Will I ever feel like I can do things without someone holding my hand all the way through?  Is confidence in my decisions and actions always going to come with a twinge of doubt and second guesses?

I suppose only time will tell.

Anyone else ever feel this way? Please tell me I'm not alone out there.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My path is paved with good intentions....

It never fails. I spend hours and hours putting together schedules and charts and all that ridiculous pinterest-y type stuff in an effort to "get organized" and "make things a little easier."

I go at it for a week or so and yes, things do tend to go more smoothly and I even begin to see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. I begin to feel a spike in my energy. I begin to feel good about life again.

And then while I'm feeling good about life it has a way of sneaking up on me. Someone gets sick and throws off my perfectly organized schedule, a meeting runs long there goes the plans I made for later in the day, or classes begin again and the homework is a bit more than I bargained for causing me to feel overwhelmed.

And then it all goes down hill from there. I loose my drive. The consistency I was working so well with just the week before begins to falter. The schedule begins to collapse in on itself. And my world shuts down.

All my life I have been a planner. If I didn't (or don't) know what is going to happen next I tend to loose my mind. I am not good at spontaneity. I take days to make a decision, agonizing and stressing over it until I get sick. I like goals, and steps that need to be taken to get to those goals. And if that isn't an option then I freeze not knowing what to do first or where to go once I get there.

I think that is one of the reasons why being a wife, mom, and homemaker is such a life challenge for me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being home with my kids. I love being the one to teach them and train them and be part of their constant lives. However, it is the hardest job I have ever taken on in my life.

There is no real way of planning life. Sure I try to set a basic schedule for naps, meals, appropriate play time, and bed time but no matter how hard I try that schedule never seems to stay on track.  I don't have set sick days (ha! I don't have ANY sick days), and I can't schedule snuggle time. I have to take those things as they come. And for me that is a very hard thing to do.

As we continue down our road through Seminary I am realizing that the one thing I am going to have to learn more than probably anything else is going to have to be flexibility. No matter how well I can plan, and organize, and stress the importance of a situation thing are never going to be truly in my control. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
So with January coming quickly to a close my goal for February is to learn to let things be. I know God has His plans and when my plans to go, well, according to plan I am going to try and focus on what God may have planned for that moment of the day. When that staff meeting at church runs long and Dusty comes home later than I had scheduled I am going to trust that God was working through that meeting to make our church the best it could be and sometime that means things have to go a little long. And when I don't get everything done on my well thought out and well designed schedule for that day I am going to trust that those 30 extra minutes I spent playing with the kids or reading the same story for the 1000th time was exactly where I needed to be and the chores that go put off will not break my day.

Are you good with spontaneity? Or do you like things lined out and planned?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Its official: I'm over it!

Warning: This could get a bit long and probably a bit whiney, but I just have to vent sometimes.

Let me begin by saying that I know that life probably isn't as bad as I am most likely going to make it sound. I know that. Rationally, I know all that. But that doesn't mean that things don't get a bit rough every now and then.

Here we go:
I'm tired.
I'm tired of counting every last cent praying they will multiply.
I'm tired of telling everyone in the family "No, we can't go do (insert fun thing here) because we can't afford it"
I'm tired of having to schedule every minute of my time to make sure that there is "family time"
I'm tired of constantly telling the kids that daddy is busy or that daddy has work to do and that he doesn't have time for playing right now.
I'm tired of being home by myself with 2 small children all the time with no hope of reprieve.
Long story short: I'm just tired.

I'm also tired of feeling alone. Like I'm living on the outside of everything. Like I'm watching life happen around me. Feeling like I don't really have any friends around me.

I remember when I was in school, mostly high school but some in college too, I had people to talk to all the time. I can't even count how many times the phone would get unplugged in the middle of the night because I was still talking to my friends when I should have been long asleep.

And in college I had roommates. And we would talk for hours. It was great having those kinds of relationships. The ones where I could call just to chat, not because I needed something or any nonsense like that.

I don't know if its because I got married, or graduated college and moved out (both of which happened with in a month of each other), or what the reason but I slowly became a "lone ranger".  I didn't have anyone to just call and chat with anymore. I found most of my conversations taking place between myself and an 18 month old. Most of the time the conversations were a bit one sided.

Then when we decided to move to Texas for Seminary I began to hear all kinds of stories about how I would be making life long friends that are in the same place in life as me. People who would believe the same things I believed and support me and my family in the decisions we were making for our lives. Relationships that would be exactly like what I have wanted since I left school.

However, I'm finding that it isn't as easy as that. I mean don't get me wrong I didn't expect these types of friendships to just happen over night but I was hoping for more than what I have this far. We have been here 18 months and I still feel so disconnected. Maybe its because I don't ever really get to get out of the house. And when I do I have the kids attached to me so I'm to busy keeping track of them to really have a conversation with anyone. I just don't have the time it takes to invest in anyone so why would they want to take the time to invest in me? I hear pieces of conversations between people around the campus and I realize that they have the friendships that I want. They are invested.

So I often wonder what it is about me that has made the type of person that can't be "lets just chat" type of friend. The kind of friend that you just want to hang around with, and have inside jokes with, and be able to call at the last minute just because. The kind of friend that you want to pour your life into. Why can't I be that person?

Anyone else out there ever feel disconnected? How do you handle it?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Huge Reality Check

Today while scanning facebook for the 1 billionth time I came across a link that a friend posted.

As I sat and read this story I began to cry like a baby. I am that yelling screaming mommy. I was yesterday and I have been already several times today.

And why am I that way? Well, probably because I am too lazy to get myself up off my behind and go see what the problem is when the kids are fighting.

Or I am too wrapped up in the T.V. show I am watching or scrolling through facebook to really take the time to focus on my children.

I get irritated with them when they "bug" me while I'm trying to follow the drama someone else has engaged in or if I miss the next line of dialogue in the show and then have no idea what is happening. When probably the most important line of dialogue that is being shared at that very moment is whatever it is that my kids are trying to tell me.

Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it"

So I have to ask myself: "Am I raising up my children in the way they should go?" Am I teaching them to value the relationships they have or am I teaching them to love technology?

I have to admit I have probably made social media my idol. I spend more time during my day checking what is going on with social media than I do checking on what is going on with my kids. I have often heard my husband sigh then check out for the evening when he realized I have checked my phone for the 7th time since he got home 15 minutes ago.

I don't want to be that mom anymore. I don't want my family to look back on life and remember mommy being to busy on her phone or computer to spend anytime with them. I want to be engaged in their lives.

I also want to break away from the idol that is social media and technology in my life. I know that I could be spending that time reading my Bible, or praying, or teaching my children how to better know and love God.

I know that I can't completely break away from the social media all together. I actually do a lot of productive things with it. And I am also able to keep in contact with my family who is not anywhere near me. I am able to share with them the kids and our achievements through things like facebook, but that doesn't mean I have to be watching it every five minutes to see if something new happened.

So I am giving myself a limit. I will be allowing myself 5 minutes in the morning to check in and see what is going on. Then I will give myself 30 minutes on the computer while I am working on other things during the kids nap time. I will also give myself some time in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed. I will not be checking my phone throughout the day.

I am hoping that with this I will be able to break away from some of the bad habits that I have created and become the peaceful loving mommy and wife that I really want to be. I don't want to be the yelling mommy or the wife that isn't present in my relationship anymore. I want to be 100% there all 100% of the time

What do you do to balance your time?

Have you ever been that screaming person that no one wanted to be around? If so, what did you do to change it?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No Naps for Me

There is nothing a mother looks forward to more than nap time....well at least this mother. Every so often I even take some time to lay down and rest myself once the kids are down for their naps.

However, today I had to accept the horrible reality that I just can't take naps. No matter what happens when I lay down to nap I wake up feeling more tired than when I went down to rest. It's actually really sad. And kind of devastating.

So I guess from now on when the kids go down for a nap I will use that time to work out. Or clean. Or something other than sleep.

Do you have problems napping?

What do you do with your time in the middle of the day?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting Organized

One of my super serious goals for this year is to get organized in my home. Not only organized but I want to get rid of stuff. We have so much clutter it is just beyond ridiculous

Usually when I decide to declutter and clean I make the decision to take on an entire room in one day. What can I say, I'm an overachiever. Always have been. And I'm a perfectionist on top of that.

When I began to work on this task this time I decided to begin with my kitchen. There is a ton of storage in the little kitchen that I work in but I had basically just shoved stuff in cabinets and drawers and called it good. Then I get to deal with the frustration anytime I or anyone else would open up a door to look for something.

The first thing I knew I needed to do was to figure out how to take it in bite sized pieces.

My solution: One cabinet a day.

I started with what I call my "Craft Cabinet" It is the home of most of my crafting supplies as well as the sewing machine that needs to be repaired. From there I took everything out and sorted it. Let me tell you, A LOT went into the trash.

I seriously still had cards from my wedding shower. I'm sure at some point I told myself I would scrap book them or something like that but lets be serious here. When will I ever have time for that? And when I do have that time am I going to be scrapbooking cards or do I want to focus on pictures of my family?  Simple choice there, right?

Before I put things back into the cabinet I took the time to label the shelves. Now, much to the pleasure of my husband, everything has its place. With its own label.  Hopefully there won't be anymore random searching for things.

I did the same thing with the rest of the cabinets. Even the food pantry. Now I can know exactly what non-perishable items I have in the pantry when it comes time for me to make my weekly grocery list. To say that I should have done this a long time ago would be the understatement of the century!

Its amazing how a simple act such as adding a label to a shelf and putting things in an organized fashion can really simplify your life. I like being able to just see, at quick glance, what I have and where it all is.

Here is to hoping this organization sticks!

What about you? What kind of things have you done in your home to keep things easy and organized? Share your secrets, I'm always looking for new things to try out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Foodie Friday

This year for Christmas, Dusty game me 2 wonderful new cookbooks for Christmas. The first one was a gourmet cookbook published in the 1950's and I have really enjoyed looking through it to see the differences the decades.

The other one was the Taste of Home Dinner on a Dime cookbook.
402 budget friendly recipes that pack the flavor without breaking the bank. Or at least that's the hope.

This week I tried one of the recipes out of the "Freezer Pleasers" Chapter. So here it is:

Pizza Pasta Casserole
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 jars (28 ounces each) spaghetti sauce
1 package (16 ounces) spiral pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
8 ounces sliced pepperoni
1.) In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and pasta. (Make sure you actually cook the pasta first. I totally forgot to do that last night when making dinner. The hazards of trying to cook dinner with two small children screaming at you)

2.) Transfer to two greased 13-in x 9-in x 2-in. baking dishes. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange pepperoni over the top.

3.) Cover and freeze once casserole for up to 3 months. Bake the second casserole, uncovered, at 350* for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

4.) To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bake casserole at 305* for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.
The kids loved this one.

I halved the recipe and only made one casserole and I also used ground turkey instead of the ground beef.

If you happen to slip up and not cook the pasta before dumping it into the sauce/meat mixture then just add a can of tomato sauce and cook it together on the stove for a bit then leave it in the oven for a bit longer. It will all work out great!

I hope you enjoy!

Have you tried this recipe or one like it before? Did your family like it?

Have you ever messed up a recipe and still manage to save it? Please tell me I'm not the only one who has done something like that.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Wrap up and the problem with January 2nd

If I could attribute one word to the year 2013 it would probably have to be "challenging." I don't say that in the negative way that many people might see it in. I don't mind challenging actually. Challenge is what keeps life interesting.

2013 marked Dusty's second and third semesters here at Southwestern. It also marked my second and third semesters in the Seminary Studies for Student Wives certificate program, however, along with that it marked the first semester for me as a full fledged grad student.  With that came the challenge of finding time for all the homework, classes, and my household tasks that take up my day. The kids tend to remind me that they need to eat more than once a week so I also have to fit shopping and meal prep in there every so often.

2013 brought on a 1st birthday and a 3rd birthday, a 5th wedding, and the 1 year anniversary of us moving to Texas. Dusty also "celebrated" his first year working for the medical equipment supply company. That brought on a small raise as well as a full time position with benefits. With the added hours the challenge came in finding time for the family, and his homework, as well as eating and sleeping sometime in there. 

While we did have our fair share of good challenges we also had a few not so good challenges. However, through all those challenges we were able to hold ourselves together and become stronger as a family unit. While the year wasn't 100% rainbows and sunshine I like to think that it was a pretty great year all together.

That leads me to the problem with January 2nd. Here is the thing, for at least a week, maybe even longer, goals are made (often in the term of "resolution") for the coming year. With the rise of Pinterest there are now boards dedicated to all the things that a person plans to do to change their lives in the new year. From organization and scheduling to the classic weight loss and healthy eating all the well intentioned goals are set to be put into place on the first day of January.

Then January first hits and the gyms are full, budget guides are watched closely for the day, the grocery store runs out of produce do to the huge amounts of salads being eaten for lunch and dinner that day, and storage bins are out with shiny new labels on them ready to become a tidy organizational system. Everyone is excited to start out on their new life changing journey, when they wake up around noon after staying up entirely too late the night before ringing in the new year.

Then January 2nd rolls around. Everyone is back to the daily grind. Many are back to work, or for those like me who stay home with the children, its time to get them back to some type of regular schedule.  The new of the Christmas gifts are starting to wear off and the bickering is back.

Then suddenly the reality that January 1st doesn't really hold magical powers sets in. Looking at the well out lined calendars and to-do lists begin to become overwhelming. You start to wonder if you might have bitten off a bit more than you can chew.

That was my morning. The house was a disaster, the kids were fighting over everything, and I felt like I had been hit by several large trucks all at the same time. After disciplining my son for no reason (then immediately apologizing for messing up) I sat at the table, called Dusty and had a huge emotional melt down. It was at that moment I realized I had, and probably always have, put way to much stock in "The New Year."

I have spent to much time, especially from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, saying things like "When the holidays are over I will___________" or "Next year will be better, I'll start in January"

The problem with that is I expect that it will all just happen over night. The dedication, the motivation, the habits that took forever to form, all of it will just change once midnight strikes on January 1 and I will wake up a completely new person. It's not that easy.

So, my number one goal is to change my mind set and to be ok with the fact that things aren't going to change over night. I may not get my organizational plans and cleaning schedule put completely into place until December. I will have good days and I will have bad days but if I can forgive myself and I can be patient with my family we will get through this year just fine. Happy New Year EVERYONE!