May 25 2016

Lily - Red & Orange Flower - Mother's Day Gift

Friendships are a special part of life, and each and every friendship is different.  Some friendships develop and grow when times and places make it easy for friends to be together and share.  Some friendships mature and change and last a lifetime, even when distance and silences exist.  The wonderful part of a good friendship is that it touches your heart with feelings that make every day more beautiful and worthwhile.  – Ben Daniels

I am thankful for my friends.  While reading the other day I came across the above insert from Ben Daniels.  It was a great reminder for me and might be for you as well.  Hopefully each of us have developed at least a handful of these types of friendships in our lives because they are priceless.  They journey through life with you no matter the amount of miles between you and the time gaps in seeing each other.  With all the technology (cell phones, internet, social media and other) we have the resources available to at least stay in touch to these friends.  Reach out to these friends in your life this week.  Be an encouragement, share some laughs, and invest the time in these friendships.

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May 24 2016

Last week was incredibly tough with all the school projects, activities, work, and balancing everything that was going on with the family.  We were all exhausted by the end of the week, but thankful for what we were able to accomplish and for the blessings along the way.  There was so much to be thankful for last week.

I want to be accountable to you so the following are snip-its of some of the things I am thankful for this past week.  Counting My Blessings – Week In Review:

Monday – Thankful for a job that allows me to adjust my schedule so I can pick the girls up from school earlier since they are no longer having Chorus practice this school year.

Tuesday - Thankful that the girls were able to attend swimming lessons these past few weeks (today was their last day).  They really enjoyed the classes, made a few new friends, learned a lot of great techniques, and had fun.  I think they would be happy going to swimming lessons year round and were asking when they could take them again!

Wednesday - Thankful that the girls were able to get a couple of their huge school projects turned in today.  Their Book Reports and Science Fair Projects.  They did a wonderful job on their presentations too.  I was able to go to Karlie’s presentation and Jake was able to make it to Brina’s presentation.  The class was absolutely fascinated by Karlie’s presentation and they loved eating cupcakes for Brina’s.

Thursday - Thankful for Brina qualifying for the next level in the Science Fair Competition with her “Cupcakes on the Rise” project.  She has been working for months on her project and it was great seeing her get rewarded for all her hard work.  Also, grateful to our chiropractor for getting all of us on his schedule this week.  Jake went earlier in the week, but the girls and I went today.  It is amazing how much better you move when everything is working and in line.

Friday – Thankful for an opportunity to spend time working together as a family.  Cleaning up the house from all the science fair and school project paraphernalia.  As well as working together on projects around the house, reading together, and taking some time to relax together.

What are you thankful for today?  I encourage you to take the time to write down a few blessings that you have in your life today.  It will help cheer you up and turn your focus on the amazing blessings you encounter each day!

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May 23 2016

http://www.blessingsmultiplied.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/4088699532_ae44f04b7dc.jpg

The upcoming week will be a really busy schedule with work, school, and extra activities.  I am not sure if we’ll get it all done, but we are going to try!  This week is the girls last full week of elementary school.  After only a few more days will be watching them graduate and moving onto Middle School.  I know they will love it and adjust well, but this Momma is having a harder time seeing my babies growing up.  Going to 6th grade seems like such a big leap especially since they have been at the same school since K4!  We have been blessed with a lot of great teachers, awesome administrators, and friends at this school.  Wish a good chunk of them could head on up to 6th grade with our girls!  It will feel weird the first few weeks going back to school and arriving at a totally differently building.

Looking forward to a great week celebrating with our girls.  Also one of the girls won the Science Fair Award and is advancing to the next level of the Science Fair Contest which is this Thursday along with a Field Trip, Bowling, celebrations, and more good stuff.   Proud of them, but never a dull moment with these kids!   Several evenings I have activities in preparation for their big event on Friday so I am trying to keep the menu simple.  Here is our menu plan for the upcoming week:

Our Weekly Menu Plan

  • Monday (Beef or Pasta Entree):  Mongolian Beef Stir Fry, Fresh Veggies
  • Tuesday (Seafood or Soup Entree):  Grilled Salmon, Macaroni & Cheese
  • Wednesday (Chicken or Vegetarian Entree): Sweet & Sour Chicken, Fried Rice
  • Thursday (Pork Entree or Kid‘s Night to Cook): Apple Bourbon Pulled Pork, Beans
  • Friday, Saturday, & Sunday:  Leftovers, Family Preference, and Hosting

I have a general pattern I try to follow for my weekly Menu Plan (for example Monday we have a beef or pasta entree and so forth).  It is my goal, at least in the beginning, to have at least the main dish and one side planned.  I will put together the remaining side dishes (veggies / fruits) based on the food items that need to be used up first and compliment the main entree.

Setting a weekly menu plan helps me utilize my time better, thus freeing up extra time to spend with my family.  On the days that I am working longer hours I can prep the meal in advance so it will be easier to pull together once I am home.  As I go through the menu planning process I will try to share some of our favorite family recipes.  If there is a specific recipe you would like please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate (some recipes are a toss together meal and I do not use any set measurements).

As a family of four our life can get busy.  What’s for Dinner is our weekly menu planning series and one of the ways to help keep us organized, on schedule, and within budget.  Our family typically eats 6 to 7  dinner meals at home a week.  We do try to go out to eat at least once a month as a special treat.  Breakfasts are eaten at home before work and school, lunches are eaten at work, school, or home, so dinner is our main meal together as a family.  Dinner is our time to reconnect, share, and enjoy being together after a busy day.  Our weekly menu plan covers Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday only because the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) is our time to spend with family and friends.  The weekends tend to be more spontaneous and my husband (who is the better cook) likes pitching in therefore we keep the menu open for variety.  We use up the leftovers throughout the week for our lunches and on the nights that we are busy or can’t cook.

Photo by Liz

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May 23 2016

Last week was an incredibly busy week with everything going on, but we made positive progress in the right direction for some of the items on my list.  There were a lot of activities and later nights.  I am thankful for that the grading part of the school year is done now for all the year end parties, activities, graduations, and other excitement over the next week and half.

I have had a lot of big projects going and have been keeping track of the progress personally, however, I have not been faithful in updating my blog like I used to do.  Even though the busy summer days with the kids at home are just around the corner I am going to try and be more consistently with my weekly goals and other postings for you.  Here are my goals for this week:

Last week’s goals

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein to the kids. - got a great start on it, but wasn’t able to finish with all the extra activities this past week
  2. Read 7 Stories from the Bad Pets on the Loose by Alan Zullo book to the kids. – only read a couple
  3. Go through 7 more Brain Quest Flash Cards with the kids. – was only able to get through a few cards
  4. Read through 7 more pages of History Trivia with the kids. – got through some, but not very many this week
  5. Do devotions and prayer time with kids every night. – devotions we were not very consistent on, but we did do prayer time
  6. Plan one special activity with the family – working on it
  7. Play a Game with the Kids – spent most of the extra free time on projects that were due soon
  8. Spend time Monday –Friday helping the kids with HomeworkBrina finished her “Cupcakes on the Rise” and Karlie finished her “Less = More” Science Fair Projects.  Both did really well.  Brina won for the 5th grade class and will be going on to the next level of competition this Thursday, 5/26/16. 
  9. Attend After School Activities  - Brina and Karlie finished their last day of swimming lessons, they loved it!
  10. Lunch Boxes & Book Bags packed the night before
  11. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s) – working on it
  12. Prep & Figure out Schedule for upcoming Summer Break – have some activities planned, but need to finalize the rest
  13. Ride Bikes with the Kids – did was a rainy week and spent most of our time working on projects that were due.
  14. Work on family projects together – started working

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Keep up with my FitBit Goals – did better some days than others
  3. Do yoga at least 5 times a week – did it more than once, but was not consistent
  4. Go to my Appointments Scheduled this week – had to re-schedule one due to a conflict, but did everything else
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily
  6. Tackle some lingering projects on my “to do” list – somehow the list continues to grow ever longer….

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day – we were working on the laundry room so the washer and dryer were unavailable a good chunk of this past weekend
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – Laundry Room Remodeling Work (get all of the subflooring cleaned and prep and help Jake with getting at least 1/2 of it completed) – work in progress
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Find Bins / Containers / Baskets to put on shelves in Laundry Room once up) – starting to look but haven’t decided what I want yet
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Annual Termite Inspection)
  6. Pet Care (Focus – Give Skipper a Bath)Brina and Karlie helped get this one done
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Refinishing our Laundry room, tearing out the old linoleum and sprucing it up) – working on it

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails – have some more to go through
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention  – some days I didn’t have time to get it all done
  4. Work completed for clients – couple special projects that need to be done still
  5. Notes typed for work – didn’t get to it
  6. Folders Labeled for work – got a couple done before getting pulled away
  7. Desk drawers organized – working on it.

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Schedule a meeting with the Financial Advisor – made reached out, waiting to confirm with schedules
  2. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt – working on getting it eliminated
  3. Pay Bills & File Paperwork – paid all bills that came in this past week but need to do some filing
  4. Go grocery shopping one time this week and stay within budget – went to several stores and spent extra money for Brina & Karlie’s graduation celebration.

My goals for the upcoming week

Family Goals

  1. Finish reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein to the kids.
  2. Read 7 Stories from the Bad Pets on the Loose by Alan Zullo book to the kids.
  3. Go through 7 more Brain Quest Flash Cards with the kids.
  4. Read through 7 more pages of History Trivia with the kids.
  5. Do devotions and prayer time with kids every night.
  6. Plan one special activity with the family
  7. Play a Game with the Kids
  8. Spend time Monday –Friday helping the kids with Homework
  9. Attend After School Activities
  10. Lunch Boxes & Book Bags packed the night before
  11. Prep for upcoming Family Adventure(s)
  12. Prep & Figure out Schedule for upcoming Summer Break
  13. Ride Bikes with the Kids
  14. Work on family projects together
  15. Brina & Karlie’s Graduation Ceremony
  16. Brina & Karlie’s Award Ceremony
  17. Prep & decorate for Graduation party (Meet with people Mon / Wed) after school
  18. Take Brina to the Science Fair Competition

Personal Goals

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water each day
  2. Keep up with my FitBit Goals
  3. Do yoga at least 5 times a week
  4. Go to my Appointments Scheduled this week
  5. Update Counting My Blessings and Other journal entries daily
  6. Tackle some lingering projects on my “to do” list

Home (Yard & Pets) Management Goals

  1. All laundry for the week washed, folded, and put away in one day
  2. Weekly Dinner Menu planned out for the week
  3. Clean House (Focus – Laundry Room Remodeling Work (get all of the subflooring cleaned and help Jake with getting at least 1/2 of it completed)
  4. Organize Chaos (Focus – Find Bins / Containers / Baskets to put on shelves in Laundry Room once up)
  5. Yard / Garage Cleanup (Focus – Plant Lilly Flower and Blueberry Bush – weather permitting)
  6. Pet Care (Focus – Give Skipper her vitamins)
  7. Repairs – (Focus – Refinishing our Laundry room, tearing out the old linoleum and sprucing it up)

Business Goals

  1. Work on ideas for upcoming blog posts
  2. Respond to Inquiry – Business Relation Emails
  3. Keep up with the day to day items that need my attention
  4. Work completed for clients
  5. Notes typed for work
  6. Folders Labeled for work
  7. Desk drawers organized

Ministry Goals

  1. Meet a friend or family member for Breakfast or Lunch

Financial Goals

  1. Schedule a meeting with the Financial Advisor
  2. Payoff Other Outstanding Debt
  3. Pay Bills & File Paperwork
  4. Go grocery shopping one time this week and stay within budget

I think it is important to share and encourage each other as we seek to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.  I want to live intentionally not just hope all my dreams and goals come true.  When I focus on small steps of improvement I am able to see results as I get closer to my goals.  Some weeks I get closer to the goals I have in my life and other weeks a take a few steps back (life happens, emergencies occur, people get sick).  Once the goals are written down and shared it provides a guideline for what I aim to accomplish this week.

Why Share My Goals?

  • To keep me accountable
  • To share a piece of my life with you as I strive to be a better Child of God, Wife, Mom, Friend, Homemaker, Entrepreneur and the many other roles I have each week
  • To have my goals consistently written down so I can gauge progress more accurately
  • Create healthy habits in my life
  • To encourage you to share your goals with me as you continue to grown and learn

How did you do this week on your goals?  Feel free to share or link to your list of weekly goals.

The picture above is one that I created for my own purposes, however, The “SMART” acronym was originally coined 30 years ago by Peter Drucker in his classic work, Management by Results.

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May 18 2016

Karlie - Red Rose FlowerRose picked by Jake from the Mother’s Day bush Karlie gave me last year! Beautiful!

I am blessed to have a loving husband.  He takes great care of me and the girls, loves me despite my faults, pitches in around the house, always seeking ways to teach our girls, and intentionally invests regularly time and energy into our relationship and our family.

Yet for some reason when I am tired, hurting, or discouraged he is the first person I tend to lash out at.  Is it because he is near?  Or is it that I trust he will continue loving me as he helps me get through the moments of hurt?  Is it that he is the first person who notices that I am struggling?  Is it because I allow “little stuff” to build up, get emotional, and blow the “little stuff” way out of proportion?  Or is it a complex multitude of feelings and connections of life that make me think it is acceptable to snap at someone truly trying to lovingly help me?

Life is tough.  It would be a lie to say that I have not gone through a multitude of various emotions over the past few months.  My girls are growing up so quickly and my Momma’s heart is rejoicing yet broken over it at the same time.  I have not invested the time and energy into relationships that are important to me.  It has been a struggle to balance life, schedules, and times to the point that some days I feel like I am messing up everything or falling short. It feels like there are days when I am rushing through life and trying to just get what has to be accomplished done only to crash at night and re-start the process all over again the next day.

How can I be an encouraging, positive, loving light, sharing God’s grace with those around me when I feel like the walls are falling in on me?  I have been praying specifically that God would break down the walls I have built up around my heart, revealed those areas I need to heal and repair, fill the holes that are plugged with the wrong motives, and work in my life, however, it is at times a very painful process.

When an animal is hurting they tend to find a safe place and withdraw into themselves.  If you approach a hurt animal when they are in that safe place or feel like they are backed into a corner they have a tendency to snap at anyone reaching out to help them.  Their eyes are clouded with hurt or pain, their defenses are up, and they don’t know what to do so they react in anger at anyone trying to help because it is hard for them to distinguish between someone who is trying to hurt and a person who is trying to help.  I am sure vets or people who work with animals see this all the time.  The animal wants to be alone in their pain, lick their wounds, and retreat to safety even though it it not the best action if they truly want to heal.

As humans we cannot and should not react the same way as an animal would.  We are built to value and crave relationships.  Some of our relationships may be healthy while others are pulling us down.  We cannot be everything to everybody, it’s impossible, yet we can make an impact on the lives we touch.  Starting with our relationship with Christ, spreading to our spouses, children, and reaching out to family, friends, co-workers, and others that we interact with in our lives.  It always works best when we are living our life looking for strength, encouragement, and wisdom from the top and allowing it to filter down through our lives to the people we have the privilege of loving and living life beside.

Take time this week to spend time pray.  Investigate your heart, reflect on your relationships, and start the process of breaking down the barriers we have created to falsely shield us.  Those barriers are really just holding us back and blocking those who truly love and want to help us.  Allow your spouse and others to speak truth into your life.

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