Friday, September 30, 2011

Pizza, Cookies, and Weeds

Today, I think these things are awesome:

1. I love pizza -- could eat it every day. I love when a pizza is fresh from the oven and the cheese strings as you try to cut into it. And that smell. Divine. But there's one thing even better than that -- cold pizza the next morning. That's what I had for breakfast. Calories don't count when they're cold, you know.

2. It is legitimately chilly outside. I'm positively giddy with excitement.

3. Hubby is working late tonight and tomorrow, so Cohen and I have lots of fun "Don't tell daddy" activities planned. The first item on the list was that cold pizza for breakfast. Cohen wasn't as much of a fan and preferred his pancake. I hope he likes the other activities a little better.

4. A friend made these s'mores cookies and brought them over last night. Talk about Heaven in your mouth. I'm not patient enough to bake things like this, so I always love it when others do!

5. I went to the grocery store yesterday and filled up the cart. Like, it was overflowing. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified I'd have to be that person in the checkout line who has to put stuff back because she can't afford them. After store savings and coupons, my total came to $46. Did I mention the cart was overflowing?

6. I feel like this morning, God reminded me that He knows all about the people and things that hurt me. He's using them to make me better. So that revenge I so desperately want sometimes? Unnecessary. God's got it handled, and maybe I'll prove worthy to be an encouragement to others through what I am currently dealing with. Here's a portion of what I read in my quiet time this morning:

We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.
I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children." Oswald Chambers

7. These pretty things have popped up in the backyard. I appreciate flowering weeds for 2 reasons: I don't have to plant them and they are pretty.

Linking up with Momma St. J Says for Finding the Joy Friday.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Try not to fall out of your seat.

I got a makeover.

I know, thrilling. You might as well just go to bed now because your day just couldn't get any more exciting than it is right now.

I kid. I'm one of those people who becomes self-degrading when she's proud of herself. And "proud" doesn't begin to describe me today. Because, y'all, I did this all by myself.

You can praise me if you want to. I won't mind.

Anyway, on to the awesome:

Today, I'm thankful for

1. The Wendy's drive-thru that stays open late and the drive-thru window boy, bless his heart, who took my order for 2 junior bacon cheeseburgers at 10PM without a making me feel any more self conscious than I already did. We were starving last night. Like, we probably would have died had it not been for those cheeseburgers.

2. A great check up at the pediatrician's office earlier this week. I'm only halfway joking when I say that I am always relieved when we leave the pediatrician and they haven't taken my baby from me. I guess we're doing a pretty good job, after all. Cohen loves going to that place because he likes to flirt with the ladies and show off all his new skills. Like walking.

3. I got a check in the mail this week from the consignment sale people. I had almost forgotten about that money. That was fun. If you want to send me a check through the mail, feel free.

4.  Pinterest has supplied a lot of my dinner inspirations lately. This week, I tried a blackened chicken recipe that was out of this world. And it cooked up in less than 10 minutes. Hello? 10 minutes to cook up a couple thick chicken breasts?! Can't beat that.

5. Speaking of Pinterest and food, last week I mentioned the eggplant strips. Oh man, they're fantastic. Eggplant has been on sale for $1 at Kroger. 1 eggplant, an egg, and a cup of breadcrumbs made enough eggplant strips for 3 meals (I prepared and froze the other two portions while I was preparing dinner that night). So that's less than .50 total for a healthy and delicious side dish. We've since eaten all the eggplant, so I made a quick run to the store this week for even more eggplant that I can prepare and freeze. I'm not kidding: we'd eat this stuff every day.

6. My boy is still a phenomenal eater. I started with the eggplant because I want to expose him to all kinds of food. Sadly, hubby and I have loved the stuff so much that we dont save any for Cohen, but I'm sure he'd gobble it up if he ever got some. I pray he continues to be a good eater.

7. I don't know about you, but when I make a stand to get rid of a sin in my life, it seems like the devil does his best to bombard me with multiple opportunities to turn back to my old ways. I wrote last week about forgiving for real this time, and wouldn't you know, I'm having to really work on it this week. Praising God that He is giving me the strength to overcome!

8. I'm having a kind-of impromptu "girls' night" tonight complete with pizza and sugar and nighttime drama. I'm looking forward to it!

9. A month or two ago, a sweet friend from church gifted me with a large amount of brown courdoroy fabric. I haven't cut into it yet because I want to have a plan and use every little bit of it to make as many clothes as I can for the boy. So far, here are my inspirations:
Turkey shirt, Rockstar pants, "Y'all" applique for a shirt, and a couple pair of cordoroy longalls like this:

10. The little mister has gotten 2 more teeth this week -- so now the count is up to 8. Ohmygosh my baby has 8 teeth. I think it just hit me. Whew, good thing I'm sitting down. Thankful that we got through these teeth with minor side effects. Now all that's left are the big side teeth and molars!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for this week? You can post in the comment section below if you don't have a blog to post to!

Linking up with Curious Georgi for Thankful Thursday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Splish Splash

Bath time with the little mister is always lots of fun. I'm going to make this a true Wordless Wednesday and let you make up your own story to these pictures.

Linking up with Paper Mama for this week's Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A true friendship

The Paper Mama
Dear Cohen,

I found this picture the other day. You were just 3 months old, and you loved your Blue Dog. He was never too far from you -- in fact, he was your first visitor in the hospital when you were born. He was your very first friend.

You've since moved on from Blue Dog. You're learning the dynamics of human relationships. That will be a lifetime process, my son. You will fail in some relationships, and you will enjoy great happiness in others. Each one will teach you very valuable lessons.

I originally wanted to share with you the lessons I've learned about friendships, but I know you'll learn them all on your own. The most important thing I can tell you about friendship is what God teaches us.

How To Pick Your Friends:

  • Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
How To Treat Your Friends:
  • Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
  • Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
  • Proverbs 17:17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
  • Proverbs 27:5-6 An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy
  • John 15:13–15 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
  • Proverbs 17:19 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
People to watch out for:
  • Proverbs 16:28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
  • Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
  • Proverbs 22:24–25 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
Keep the Lord's teaching in your heart, Cohen. It will serve you well.

I hope you are blessed with a couple true friendships in your life. When you find them, don't let them go.

I love you, little boy. Always remember that Blue Dog and I will be here to give you love and support, no matter what.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Me Monday (aka Recent happenings that I will shamelessly deny)

I did not wake up way too early on a Saturday morning to pack up my kid and hand him over to the grandparents for the day AND night. I did not almost break down at the thought of not being with him for 24 hours. I mean, he's 10 months old and we've been through this before, forgoodnesssake.

I did not go to our local theme park with a bunch of students from our youth group on Saturday. I did not tell the students I rode everything and then proceed to sit out over half the rides. I'm not that lame, old person. I swear.

I did not get on this roller coaster and scream so hard I lost my voice before we even got to the top of the first hill. I did not scream that I wanted off the ride. I mean, who does that?!

I did not get both a headache and a stomachache on the only roller coaster in the park that barely had a line all day. 

I was not relieved when it was time to go home. Early.

On the way home with one of the families, I did not retell the story of my husband going to his grandmother's funeral. I we did not laugh for 10 minutes straight as I attempted to recreate the noises that came out of that man as he cried at the funeral. That really isn't the funniest story in the history of our 7 year relationship.

I did not go to bed at 9PM and praise the Lord a little that I didn't have a baby to take care of that night.

I did not try to get out of bed the next morning and have my legs collapse on me. I am only 27 years old, after all.

I was not so exhausted that I don't remember anything that happened yesterday. Not one thing. Did yesterday even happen?!

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Issue of Forgiveness

*** Please pray for my sweet friend Leigh Anne and her family. Their 4 month old son is in the hospital, and they don't really know what's wrong. Thank you. ***

This week, God has been speaking to my heart. It hasn't been comfortable. It hasn't really even been all that pleasant. It never really is, when you're forced to acknowledge your shortcomings.

I'm just going to be flat-out honest because I don't know how to do this blog thing any other way.

I'm struggling to forgive.

This is not something new for me. Anyone who knows me well knows how skilled I am in the art of the grudge. That's not really something I want an award for.

I thought I was doing better, growing up. Since I've been with my husband, I've learned how to talk about things and move on and get over myself. But then something ugly emerged, and I failed.

And I've harbored a grudge for almost a year. And I've let it eat at me. And I've let it begin to make me bitter. And I knew what it was doing to me all along, but my pride was too strong to do anything about it. Because, honestly, it felt good to feel that way. It felt justified.

And because of that little word -- justified -- this ugly thing has been allowed to creep back in my heart over and over again. I'd say it's forgiven, I'd say I want it to be over, but if I were honest with myself, I knew that wasn't true. And so I became a liar.

But you wouldn't have known that about me. Because I hid it. I'm good at hiding the ugly.

This week, though, the issue of forgiveness has become a central theme. From personal devotionals, to heartbreaking stories I've read, to even the Sunday school lesson I helped my husband with, God has been telling me I need to forgive. For real this time.

And even if the forgiveness is not reciprocated, I need to move on. My heart can't afford to be weighed down by this sin any more.

I want to leave you with some excerpts from the chapter "Faithful, Focused, Forgiving" from the book A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus: 30 Days to Christlike Character (Elizabeth George). These are words that are resonating in my heart today.

"I forgive you." Three words. Three words that are somewhat easy words to say. Three words that are extremely hard to mean and live. 

You know what normal is, don't you? It's the response we instinctively leap to when we're hurt. Whether our injury is emotional or physical, we move into retaliation mode. Normal thinks, you hurt me, so I'm gonna hurt you. This kind of response is the natural, normal pattern of the world. It's no secret that forgiveness is not the normal or human response. We are to give the supernatural response.

If the person who hurts you or devastates your life never repents...or acknowledges the pain caused to you... or never asks you for forgiveness...or never even says "I'm sorry," you are still willing to extend forgiveness. Forgiving that person will free you of a heavy burden of bitterness!

Forgiveness isn't about THEM, it's about YOU. And your connection with God.  

Our Savior's plea, issued to us all those centuries ago, was to imitate His heart of forgiveness. As He pointed out, our love and forgiveness would be-and is- a sign to the watching world that we march to the beat of a different drum. We follow the Lord Christ, not our emotions, or what we see or read, or what we witness all around us or are told to do. When we love and forgive others as Jesus did, we shout to the world that we are God's children. Truly, forgiveness is a mark of Christian love.

Forgiving others is not an option. It's not up for debate. A Christian's forgiveness is based on realizing he has been forgiven. 

Jesus never asks anything of us He did not do Himself. He asks us to forgive. He expects us to forgive. He enables us with the power and ability to forgive. By His all-sufficient grace, you CAN forgive! 

Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving my sin, and help me in turn to forgive others. Search my heart for situations in which I'm not fully forgiving a wrong inflicted upon me. Whenever I recall the injury, pain, or memory of that hurt, let the beauty of Your forgiveness wash over me. Give me the love to forgive seventy times seven. Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tater tots and eggplant -- can life get any better?

Today I'm thankful for:

1. The kindness and generosity of friends. I don't deserve any of it, but God knows I need it.

2. An understanding of just how precious it is to be considered the bride of Christ. I learned about it in this morning's Bible study. Oh man, I'm so humbled. (P.S. Gerry Sisk leads our Bible study. She is an amazing teacher. Check her out for a blessing.)

3. Funny sounds that the boy is learning to make. He's started incorporating a high-pitched girly scream in the middle of his cries. And while I'm sure that will get annoying fast, right now it's entertaining. Watching him learn and change has been the best part of my SAHM life.

4. The $8 I found in the glove compartment. Combine that with a buy one get one free coupon at Sonic, and hubby and I had a nice little dinner "out" last night.
Since we've been eating at home all the time since June, our tummys have become ... intolerant ... to junk food. So we're hurting today, but we are absolutely not complaining. Because let me tell you, those tater tots were

5. Opportunities that appear out of nowhere. And the ability to discern what's legit and what's not.

6. This illustration of grace that has humbled me and made me look inward to address what I need to change.

7. Kind words and comments from strangers.

8. This new tv season. I was thisclose to selling our tv because, honestly, what's the point in owning a tv when there's no Grey's Anatomy to watch on it? I've been slightly giddy this week with all the new television.

9. I guess Cohen became a toddler this week because boy is he toddling. He is a walking fool, and it's so much fun to be a part of. Oh, and the ability to put him down and have him hold on to my finger as we walk together is really making my back happy.

10. Eggplant. Yeah, I said it. I'm thankful for eggplant. It's delicious. I blame my pregnancy on the courage to try it out one day in the lunch line at school. I've been hooked ever since. It got so bad that the kids learned to back away when the pregnant lady approached the line.  I found a recipe on Pinterest that is similar to a recipe the school cafeteria ladies used. So good!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for this week? You can post in the comment section below if you don't have a blog to post to!

Linking up with Curious Georgi for Thankful Thursday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Red a photo challenge

This week, Paper Mama's topic for the photo challenge is red.

And props to her because, I mean really, at this time of year, is there any other color?

Nah, didn't think so.

Check out the other entries in this week's photo challenge. They're all awesome.

The Paper Mama

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No tricks here -- look at this treat!

Guys, I am a total success today.

I have just wrapped up my biggest sewing endeavor to date. And it looks pretty good.

And all for less than $20! I mean, you can't even buy a costume for that price!

Excuse me while I pat myself on the back. I'm so proud.

I know what you're thinking: "That's a nice costume. But what is it?"

You might be confused because you know I made this and the legs and arms and tail are in the right place. I know, right? I'm awesome.

Officially, it's a wolf.

But unofficially, can you tell by looking at this?

Uh huh, it's Max.

There's going to be a new wild thing walking around this Halloween. A super cute wild thing, if I do say so.

So obviously I didn't come up with this all on my own. I guess I should give credit where credit is due. Jess from Running With Scissors created this wolf costume along with a fox and a bear costume. They are all equally adorable.

You can see the costumes here. Isn't that fox the cutest? I think that's what we'll be doing next year.

I've mentioned before that I'm pretty stupid with the sewing machine. I make a lot of mistakes and get frustrated with most projects before I finish them. But I managed to get this one completed in a little over a week and with only a few snafus.

You know, like figuring out how to sew in a zipper.

But I'm pretty sure that says more about my ability than Jess's pattern.

And you want to know the most amazing part? She's selling the patterns for $6.


We're robbing her.

So if you've got a little one and you need a cute costume this year, do youself a favor and check Jess out.

Now, if only I could convince the hubby to be a wild thing, too...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Did y'all know I'm versatile?

Like khaki pants.

Or a chicken breast.

I have this bad habit of turning a compliment into an insult. I'm really good at it. Drives the hubby nuts.

I guess what I meant to say was Kasi over at Thoughts From Me thought enough about me to give me this nifty little award. Thanks, Kasi.
There are rules to this award...
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself on the post.
3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you've picked for the award.

Here are seven things about me...
  1. I am not a morning person. At all. I actually don't survive well on less than 8 hours of sleep a day. So you can understand how thankful I am to have passed this need down to my baby. We may just be the laziest two people around. It's a gift.
  2. Since my pregnancy, I have developed a continuous craving for cheese. I'm sure that's my body telling me I'm deficient in some sort of essential vitamin or nutrient. I'm not one to listen to others, though. Expecially when not listening means I eat a ridiculous amount of cheese. It's ok -- I load up on the fiber.
  3. This thing kept me cooped up inside my house all day. It stalked the back door and lunged at me when I tried to go outside. We had to wait until the hubby came home to care of the situation ifyouknowwhatImean. I hate all things that scurry. The way I see it, if it scurries, it's up to no good.
  4. Now I'm paranoid there are 63829 other black and yellow devils crawling around my house.
  5. I use Google to diagnose myself whenever I have any sort of symptom. I had to take a break when Google told me I had feline leukemia. You can imagine my horror.
  6. Since I became a mom, I envision all sorts of horrific ways a person can die in every situation. I never really was much of a daredevil before, but this little newfound gift has put an end to ... well... everything.
  7. I hide goodies from my husband. I currently have a Twix bar hidden in a blanket in a basket on our bookshelf. Sometimes he finds them on accident, and I get really angry. I know, I am a horrible person.
I'm passing the glory onto 15 7 people (because I'm new at this):

Saturday, September 17, 2011

How I save more than I spend at the grocery store

I'm a couponer.

Not one of those freaky ones with 200 boxes of cat litter and no cat, but I am a clipper, and a pretty shameless one at that.

Back in the lucrative teaching job days (Ha! That's a funny), I would coupon for the fun of it -- giggling all the way through the checkout line.

Nowadays, I coupon out of necessity -- I have a $300/month "food and entertainment" budget. For some reason, hubby thinks diapers and formula are entertaining, because those get lumped into the budget, too.

Lots of people ask me how I provide for my family on such a small budget, so I figured I'd explain it here so I can say, "Oh, I wrote about it on the blog, " instead of explaining multiple times. So here goes.

Step 1: Do your research. If you want to save money, don't go into a store empty-handed and without knowing what's on sale! I use I Heart Publix and I Heart Kroger to find the sales. I also use Southern Savers -- not so much for the info, but that website allows me to print off a pretty little shopping list for each store, and I like pretty.

I buy 2 newspapers a week and store the coupon inserts by date. I also print off coupons from the internet. Here's what my coupons and lists look like before I go shopping:

Yes, I use pink paper for my couponing. It doesn't help me save any money, but it does make me feel sassy. It's the little things, really.

Step 2: Go to the store. It helps to take someone along with you to keep you accountable and make you feel quilty when you try to buy something full-price. My partner in crime is Cohen. He's already mastered the "Is that on sale? I didn't think so!" look.

I know what you're thinking right now: "OMG, she's got one of those invisible babies!" Although an invisible baby sounds fun (if not way more trouble than I need), I do not have one. My partner in crime stayed home with daddy today. I was lonely.

Step 3: Only buy what's on sale, and buy enough to get you through about 6 weeks. See that pretty sticker? That's what you're looking for. Remember, I like pretty.

(Sidenote: When I first started couponing, I could not just buy what was on sale because I needed stuff to actually make meals, not 5 bottles of ketchup. But once I started stocking up on items when they were their cheapest, I began to create a stockpile at home that I "shop" from. The goal of my grocery trips now is to keep my stockpile full.) Click here to learn more about couponing basics.

Sometimes I'll want to buy something, and when I get to the store, the shelf will be empty. Insteading of cursing the name of couponers who stocked up before me, I just get a rain check for the item. Customer Service gives them out.

Here's what I take with me to shop. I have sections for Kroger, Publix, CVS, and Walgreens coupons for the week. I also have a section where I put coupons that I find while shopping (called "blinkies"), a section for a pen and a calculator, and a section for the money.

Yes, I am one of those people who whips out the calculator to determine which is the better deal: the 2 liter bottle of soda for .66 or the 12 pack of soda for $2.25.

You're curious now, aren't you? The 12 pack is the better deal. By far.

Step 4: Take your loot home and impress your husband at all the great stuff you got for so little money. He'll want to marry you all over again.

Step 5: Pat yourself on the back for how much money you saved. You may never make it on Extreme Couponing, but you did save a ton of money!

(I also shopped at Kroger today. All in all, I spent $67 and saved $80 today).

Step 6: Put your goodies away. Here's what my stockpile looks like:

Food (this is after I stock my pantry and fridge/freezer in the house): 

Cleaning products:

And health and beauty supplies:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living in moment and peering into the future

Our little family ventured out to the park last night.

It looks like that is becoming the norm for us, and I love it. For a couple of reasons: 1. It gets us out of the house. My little guy is starting to get reeeeeeally squirrely at home -- getting into all kinds of trouble. So the more we're out of the house, the better. 2. Each time we pay the mortgage, we're reminded of just how much money we're paying in taxes. Like, we could probably rent an apartment on what we spend on taxes.

So in our "bang for the buck" gusto, we're taking full advantage of county services. Hello parks and libraries!

The park was packed out when we arrived. It made us a little leery since, well, we don't like people too much, but it made my boy one happy little social butterfly.

That makes us sound like real gems of people, not liking people and all. It's not really like that -- we just don't like large groups of people because there's always a dumb one in the mix who ruins things for everyone.

And we're old and crotchety.

Anyway, Cohen was in Heaven. He was so interested in the t ball game going on next to the playground that for a good 5 minutes we just stood there. Watching little boys in grass-stained uniforms chase balls around the outfield while their parents screamed out unintelligible things from the bleachers.

It was my life 4 years from now. I'm not going to lie, I got some warm fuzzies.

Cohen watching all the excitement
When we finally managed to tear ourselves from the thrills, we headed for the swings. It hit me yesterday just how much Cohen has grown in the past few weeks. The baby is fading fast-- he's becoming such a little boy.

A little boy who loves his dada.

Still watching the game.
And has a really great one to model himself after. And his dada is pretty fond of him, too.

I know I've said this so much it's annoying, but it is so much fun watching him grow and learn. He is independent and determined. Don't tell him he can't do something. Unless, of course, you like to eat your words.

He's daring and head-strong.

And he's funny. I didn't think it was possible for a 10 month old to be a comedian, but he is.

And seeing these qualities emerge from him now only makes me imagine who he'll be a year, 2 years, 3 years from now. It gives me a glimpse of the kind of boy he'll grow into.

And that excites me.

I recognize, though, that we've got a lot of living and loving to do now. So I'm going to try to tear my eyes off of the future so I don't miss all the great things happening now. I'm going to enjoy my son. I just wish I could tell him that in a way he'd understand.

Don't look to the future too much, little guy. I love you so much the way you are right now.