Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walking by faith vs. walking by sight

I came across this devotional, and it's got me thinking about a subject I wrestle with on a regular basis - walking by faith vs. walking by sight.

In my high school senior yearbook, for the quote that would follow my name and define who I was at 18, I chose the verse 2 Corinthians 5:7: “We live by faith, not by sight.” I was looking for a way to say that I loved Jesus without actually saying that I loved Jesus.

Crazy bold, I know.

I didn’t have a clue at the time what that statement really meant. I don’t think I even understood the difference between faith and sight. I’m certain I had no clue how much faith daily life would require of me in the future and how much I would long to be able to see the path before me. The thing is, there’s faith that leads to salvation and then there’s faith to walk every moment after that. I understood the first kind of faith, but I didn’t even know I was missing the second kind.

Early in my middle school years, I took the step of faith to say, “Yes, I believe I am a sinner. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died and then rose again to take the punishment that I deserve. Please, Lord, forgive me and make me clean.”

However, in the years and decades that followed, even though I was ordering my life to God’s priorities, I didn’t really let Him have control.

I was seeking God and trying to be more like Him. I was praying and learning from His Word, but I never really let go and let Him have control. I worried like I was in control. I planned like I was in control. I managed people like I was in control. I didn’t exercise faith in my daily life that allowed me to walk in any direction unless I could see the outcome for miles ahead.

Contrary to what I had proclaimed so proudly in my high school yearbook, I was living entirely by sight. The problem with living by sight is that, at its very best, my sight is nothing more than a poor reflection in a mirror. I lived a couple of decades essentially squinting into my rearview mirror, thinking that my view was good enough to drive. While I thought I was living a safe, protected life by attempting to control my circumstances, I was really just living an unspiritual, fearful life.

However, around the time I turned 30, God began to do a work in my life that would forever alter the way I lived. He graciously turned out the lights and allowed me to stand in the pitch dark. He allowed circumstances and pain into my life that I could not overcome on my own. I can see now that it was His love for me that led Him to bring me to the place where I had to face my own inability to solve, plan, control, and manage. I stood in the middle of the pitch dark that my life had become and I began to truly trust Him for the first time. I finally quit trying to get more “sight” and chose faith, believing that if God sent something my way, it must be good for me. I wish I could say that I chose to trust God before all else, but the honest truth is that I didn’t truly trust Him until there was no other option. But I think late is better than never.

The good news is that faith is a gift from God. We can’t conjure it up or fake it. We need only ask God to provide it, making sure it is not sight for which we are asking. And then we exercise it. I have found it to be like a muscle that gets stronger every time I use it. It starts out weak, but each time I choose to trust in the name of the Lord instead of freaking out because I can’t see the path in front of me, my blood pressure goes down and my faith muscle gets stronger. Then the next time I need it, it is more ready for action.

To be honest, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing since I discovered that I could live by faith instead of sight, but, by the grace of God, I have experienced slow, steady growth in the direction of trusting Him. And the peace and joy that comes with being on His agenda instead of my own is filling me up and carrying me through.

Friend, I know you may be standing in the middle of a really dark place right now. I know it is tremendously difficult to have peace when your circumstances appear bleak. But you can take comfort from the fact that darkness is as light to God.

He can see just fine right where you are and He will lead the way if you allow Him to do so. He also says He loves you with an everlasting love and He will never, never leave you or forsake you. Don’t wait as long as I did to choose to trust Him with your daily life. Your own sight will never fulfill you or protect you the way the God who loves you will.

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Is. 50:10b


So if you find yourself in a circumstance, and you pray about it, trust God with it, and then still try to do something to improve your circumstance, are you walking by faith? Or does the very act of trying to do something mean you're still trying to take the problem out of God's hands and you really aren't walking by faith?

For example, we're really strapped financially right now, primarily with the mortgage. We're tithing faithfully, have been since Brian was working at Lone Star last year and making crap nothin', and we believe that yes, God will meet our needs. But still, things are tight, and some things that surely seem like needs to us are out of our reach at the moment. We pray, and we acknowledge that all we have comes from God, none of it is "ours" in our own power, and we're doing our best to be cheerful, faithful givers. But we're also trying to see if we can sell some things on Craigslist, both to clear them out because we don't need them and to have a little extra cash come in. Even though we pray and say we trust God to meet our needs, are we trying to hang on to the issue by trying to sell a $20 something or other on Craigslist?

I roll this around in my head a lot. I can't imagine that God expects us to say, "OK, God, we're turning it all over to You" and then just sit on our hands and wait for something to happen. I mean, it seems like if we don't take chances on things where we've prayed and the answer hasn't been a resounding no, then we may be shutting off some avenue by which God could work if that turns out to be His plan. I know "God helps those who help themselves" isn't biblical, but it certainly seems sound - if we never take any action at all after praying about what should be done, should we expect God to drop the solution ready-made into our laps?

And of course, if what we're doing is walking by sight, walking by faith is going to be a big challenge for me. I don't sit on my hands and do nothing very well!

Thoughts? Does anyone else wrestle with this question, or is it just me?


My stomach is in knots. I got an e-mail from the guy who's been in touch with us re: restructuring our mortgage. He said to call him ASAP. Well, I can't check my personal e-mail from work, so "ASAP" was after 5 PM when he sent the e-mail just before 10 AM. I called and left a message on his cell, and I e-mailed. I hope he gets back in touch soon.

Surely God's plan won't include us losing our house and living with the boys in a shelter, will it?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Praying for a Christmas miracle

It hurts me to write this, I don't think I've mentioned it in here, but we're faced with the real possibility of losing our house. I took out a home equity loan when Kevin and I were married and refinanced it when I was single - it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it's turned out not to be that way in a major, major way. I got behind when I was single, more behind when Brian wasn't working, and now it doesn't look good. We're trying to get it restructured, but I don't know if whatever they offer will be enough. Even though we're both working full-time, it seems like we're still struggling to make ends meet every month. I keep telling myself, God blessed us with the boys (in fact, Brian and I weren't actively trying to have a child and had talked about the fact that it might not ever happen right before I found out I was pregnant with Rhys), He's not going to leave us hanging without the means to take care of them, and surely taking care of them means having a roof to put over their heads. But then I think, well, Job was a man of faith, and God let him be tested in a big way - he lost his kids, his livelihood, his possessions, everything. When he remained faithful, God blessed him more than he'd been blessed in the first place, but still. He let Job be brought mighty low to prove a point to the devil, to prove that the devil couldn't make Job turn from God even when times were beyond tough. So honestly? I don't know what to think. I'm praying for a miracle. I wish, somehow, the house could be paid off and I'd never, ever take out a home equity loan again. I'm kicking myself (although Brian says I was making the best decision I could with the information I had at the time), I'm sick with guilt (because my parents didn't raise me to be in the hole financially - they raised me to live within my means, and I feel like I'm failing to live up to what they taught me), I'm worried about what we'll do if the worst comes to pass, and I want to cry when I think about the possibility of having to take Julian out of the only home he's ever known. Maybe this new job (if I get it) will offer a significant pay raise, and that's what will pull us through. I have no idea. All I know is, this is a problem I cannot fix in my own strength, and while I don't know what God's plan is, I surely hope it doesn't mean us being uprooted from our home. I'm learning a lot about what it means to pray without ceasing.

And then I find myself thinking, do I have the right to ask for God's help with this? Aren't there others who are so much worse off than we are? There are people who *are* homeless, who don't know where their next meal will come from. There are people facing the loss of a loved one at what should be a blessed and joyous season, the loss of a child, a parent, someone near and dear to their hearts. If God is going to work a miracle in someone's life, shouldn't it be someone who deserves it more than I do? Maybe so, but that doesn't mean I pray for one any less for us than I do for all of them. So if anyone has a prayer to spare, we'd appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh, to have the money for a whole new computer

My computer has been hit or miss for the past few weeks, which explains the lack of posts. I took it to the shop once when the monitor would go to sleep and stay that way. For a bit, it would work when I rebooted, but it got to where the system would power up, the green power light on the monitor would come on, and then it would immediately turn amber and the screen would turn black. Hard to do anything with the computer when you can't see anything on the screen. So in to the shop it went. All they could find was a raised capacitor on the motherboard, and given the option to replace that or to replace the whole motherboard, I took the less expensive option.

It worked great for a couple of days, and then blam! Back to doing the same thing. So, back to the shop we went. After four days of diagnostics, they found big fat nothin'. The tech said he turned off the hibernation mode on the monitor, so I'd just see the screen saver instead of a black screen, and said that might help.

Not so much. Last night the screen saver came on and the monitor never went to sleep, but the screen saver locked up when I moved the mouse after it had been on for a while. It's fine as long as the screen saver hasn't been on too long. For now, anyway.

If I had the money, I'd go buy a Mac and just be done with it. But for now, I'm back online.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


After a second trip to the shop, I think my computer is good to go. Hopefully I can post more often now!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So much to post, so little time

I'm sure I have many things I'd like to blog about - our home computer is having issues and I've been without it for nearly two weeks now. (Let's not even get into how unreasonably crazy it makes me to have no home computer.) We thought it might be the monitor, bought a new one, hooked it up...and it wasn't the monitor. So off to the shop it went. Hopefully it will be an easy, not-too-expensive fix and I'll be back online at home before too much longer.

The news of the day: I have strep. Again. I went to the doctor on November 11 with the first bout of it. My throat started hurting during the night, so I went in this morning, and surprise! Round two! Brian is reminding me to take all of my antibiotics, on time, this time. I blame my pediatrician, who could have had my tonsils taken out when I was a kid and chose not to. Dang it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Kindle giveaway from Noobie

Win a brand new Kindle!

I just entered a contest to win a free Kindle from Noobie, and I wanted you to have a chance to win one, too! (Notice I said a chance - I'm really hoping to win it myself! LOL)

All you need to do to enter is to click the link below or copy and paste it into your browser:

Be sure to read the email you get from Noobie after you register. You'll get your own unique link that you can use to earn even more entries in the drawing!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Recipes to save for bulk cooking

I don't always do well at it, but I'm trying to plan ahead and cook ahead and have things on hand. I'm looking for recipes that will work for us, and saving them here.

Money-Saving Mom's Favorite Whole Wheat Waffles (can multiply for bulk cooking)
Freezer Mashed Potatoes
Chocolate Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins
Italian Stuffed Shells

More to come!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's time

After much consideration, I've decided it's time to call it quits with Bright Blessings. The website will come down after Oct. 31, and the Etsy shop will be put on vacation. I'll probably reopen briefly once I see what I have on hand after Oct. 31, just to list all the in-stock items and try to clear them out, and after that, I'll be on vacation for an indefinite length of time. After that, this will be strictly a hobby for me - no more selling. For one, I've got two kids who will only be little once, and for two, I think the good Lord is trying to tell me that this isn't how He intends to provide for us. I don't know how He *does* intend to provide for us, but I don't have to know that, I don't reckon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Review: Harry Connick, Jr., "Your Songs"

I'm a Harry Connick fan. I'm a big Harry Connick fan. I've loved his work since I heard the soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally, many years ago. So when One2One Network offered a chance to review his latest album, "Your Songs", I jumped at it. I figured it would become yet another of my favorites, like so much of his other work has.

As much as I hate to say it, that just didn't happen. In this album, Harry puts his own spin on standards such as "Besame Mucho" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". He also covers more recent fare such as "Just the Way You Are", "Your Song", and "And I Love Her". Much to my chagrin, most of the songs struck me as having a serious lounge lizard vibe rather than the funky piano-based jazz I've come to know and love from Harry. "Some Enchanted Evening" sounded to me for all the world like something you'd expect to hear in a campy Vegas show. And while there are some songs that are classic and timeless and can be well done by a variety of singers, some of the songs on here don't fall in that category. "Just the Way You Are", for instance - I grew up with the Billy Joel version, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a Billy Joel song. When anyone else performs it, no matter who, no matter how good they are, it's just a knockoff. Same with "Your Song" - that's Elton John. "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" - come on, man, that's Elvis. You don't mess with the King. And "Close to You" just makes me want to poke a stick in my ear, no matter who sings it, so that definitely wasn't a hit.

That being said, the album wasn't without its gems. "All The Way" was nicely done, very reminiscent of "When Harry Met Sally". "And I Love You So", originally recorded by Don McLean, was just lovely. "Mona Lisa" is one of those standards that can be done well by a variety of performers, and it was well done here. And "Smile" may be, for me, the redeeming piece on the album. It's darn near vintage Harry, and it did indeed make me smile.

Overall, the album didn't do a lot for me. But the few songs I did enjoy, I'll listen to a good bit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not this time

I found out yesterday that I didn't get the position I interviewed for. Yesterday I was pretty bummed. Today I'm still bummed, but I know there's a reason for everything. I did get some really good feedback about things I can do to improve my chances the next time a position opens up, and it sounds like that may happen in the not-too-distant future, so that's good. I just keep reminding myself of one of my favorite verses:

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

So this job at this time isn't how God plans to prosper me. Sure, it seemed like it would have been a huge answer to prayer, but if it's not the right job right now, well, I reckon I can live with that.

I'm home with Rhys today. He's had the flu this week, but is thankfully on the mend. I hear him stirring in his crib now - guess I'd better go get him!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The wai-ai-ting is the hardest part.

No word from my interview yet. I can't imagine it would take too long to make a decision, as all the candidates were in-house (although I could be wrong). I waffle between thinking I have a decent shot at the job and thinking "who am I kidding, I don't, someone's already been filling in in that position and she interviewed and I know she'll get it." I'm on the crazy train. I hope we find out something tomorrow - if not, it's going to be a long, long three-day weekend not knowing.

My online fortune cookie that day said, “You are soon going to change your present line of work.” Guess we'll see if that's the case, won't we?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

All over but the shouting

The interview is done. I guess it went OK. I never can tell! I found out there were five of us interviewed, and I was the last of the five. Not sure if that's good or bad. (I told Brian maybe they were saving the best for last. LOL) I know who two of the other candidates were, don't know the other two, and that's driving me bonkers - I'd like to know, I'm just nosy like that. One of the managers (not mine) commented on how some of her team members had told her they could come to me and ask questions, and they knew I'd take care of whatever the issue was, and I didn't make them feel bad for asking. That's got to count for something, right?

So anyway, now I wait. I hate waiting! I don't know what time frame they're looking at making a decision - as swamped as the two people already in that role are, I'd think it would be fairly soon, but I don't know for sure.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Wish me luck!

Tomorrow at 11:00 I have a second interview for a different position at my current workplace. It's one I'm very much interested in, although I waffle between thinking, "wow, this would be the coolest job EVER!" and "oh boy, am I sure I can handle this if I get the job?" It would be a pretty big change. So if anyone reading this can spare a prayer or a good thought at 11:00 Central time tomorrow, it would be much appreciated! I'm not really nervous yet - that may come in the morning.

In other news: Rhys is working on a second tooth, doing well with solid foods and SO.CLOSE to rolling over consistently. He did it once and looked really surprised as to how he'd done it. There's a little music-and-lights thingamabob on the side of his crib, and when he wakes up during the night, we'll find him trying to roll over and grab it. I have a feeling he'll be up and running much sooner than Julian was, and once he is, look out.

Julian has made it through the first six weeks of school. Report cards come home on Friday, but I think he's done fairly well. We're still waiting to hear from the Child Study Center about an evaluation.

And now, for once, both boys are asleep by 10:00, so I think I'll take my happy self to bed while I have the chance and before anyone needs my attention!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Surely there's more to it than this

Julian woke up at 3:15 this morning. I got him settled, and then Rhys woke up at 4:20. I hate that my morning schedule is such that, if Rhys wakes up after 4 AM, it doesn't make sense for me to go back to sleep because I'll soon have to get up for work anyway. Hard to feel like you're living an abundant life when you're perpetually sleep-deprived.

And I hate that my kids are prisoners of my schedule. I hate that I have to wake them up at the crack of dawn for school and daycare. Granted, J would have to get up for school no matter where I worked, but I hate that I'm rousting him out of bed at 6:15 to make sure he's awake before I leave the house. If I worked closer to home and didn't have to be there so early, he could sleep at least a little bit longer.

I had some other topic I intended to blog about, but it seems to have slipped my mind at the moment. Perhaps it will come back.

I also find it mildly amusing that my internet filter took out "hate" when I used it above and took out "crack" from the phrase "crack of dawn". I had to turn it off and edit so there weren't random blank spaces in my post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Decisions, decisions

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know that Bright Blessings Candles is my little attempt at a business. I've just about reached the conclusion that it's not meant to be. I've never done much in the way of sales. People seem to like my things when they buy them or receive them as gifts or in swaps, but the word of mouth just never seems to travel as far or as fast as I've seen it do with other e-tailers. My supplies and my inventory take up a lot of space in the house, and for the tiny return I'm seeing on the investment of time and effort and cash, it's just not worth it to stay open. I'd hoped this might be at least a nice sideline that gave off a reasonable amount of income, but it seems that God is telling me (and has been for some time) that this isn't a way in which He intends to provide for us.

So, I can keep this as my hobby, make things for personal use and for gifts, and take down the business. I can sell off my inventory and close up the Etsy shop and the website and call it a day. The question now is, when? On one hand, I'd thought about sticking it out through the holidays and seeing how things go. I've signed up to be in The Little Black Box in November, and I could go through with that, see if it brings in any new business. But then I think, I've done sample boxes before, and it doesn't bring a lot of business my way. And even if it did, do I want a rush of orders at the holiday season, when I'm trying to do things with and for my family? I just don't think it's meant to be. I had a special in my Etsy shop last night, sent out my newsletter, posted about it on two message boards that I'm on, and had exactly two orders. Fifty-eight visits, and two orders. Perhaps that should be some kind of sign to me. It doesn't matter if I have the best product ever, if no one buys it, it doesn't do me any good and it's not worth selling.

So. I'm leaning to just selling off inventory and excess supplies now and being done with it. I can then reclaim the space in my house that's now going to store all this stuff, and I can stop feeling like I have to be making something in my free time. If this were my job, that would be one thing. But with work and commuting and trying to be a good wife and a good mother to two boys, it's too much. The only question is, how long do I keep trying? It may be time to pack it in.

ETA: I went back and read, and I've been running around in this particular circle since 2008, "should I stay or should I go now?" It's just not worth continuing to anguish it. I think it's time to call it quits.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A tiny little update

Rhys is five months old today! Happy five months, baby boy! I didn't even get a chance to take a picture, because he was falling asleep before we even got home this evening. He sacked out around 6:30 tonight. I expect he'll be awake and hungry before midnight. Anyway, he's had his four-month checkup, and at that appointment, he weighed 19 pounds 1 ounce and was 26 1/2 inches long. He's growing like mad.

We also have our first tooth! He's been drooling and gnawing on his hands like crazy for weeks now, and a couple of days ago, Brian saw the little white spots on his gum. The bottom right front tooth is working its way through the skin. No more gummy grins (and yay for a tooth, but it makes me just a little wistful and sad that the gummy grins are going away)!

Julian is muddling through second grade. It's a struggle for him, and it's hard for me to see him struggling. We're getting our paperwork together to send to the Child Study Center in Fort Worth, and hopefully they'll be able to see us fairly soon for an evaluation. I'm anxious to see if it's just ADHD we're dealing with, or if there's something else going on, and either way, I'm anxious to find out how best to help him survive and thrive in school and in life.

And for our daily dose of "awwwwwww" - the boys were in the back seat on our way home this afternoon. Julian was telling Rhys, "I got your finger, I got it, what are you going to do now?", and Rhys just laughed and laughed. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of my boys laughing, and in that moment, I could forget all the rotten things that might have happened during the day and truly thank God for my blessings - you know, the ones sitting in the back seat laughing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - August 31 - September 6

Yes, it's that time again, Menu Plan Monday!

We do so much better about eating things that are at least halfway good for us, and about having ingredients on hand, when I do a menu plan, so here I go once more.

Monday – Spaghetti squash with meat sauce, garlic bread, green salad

Tuesday – MaMa’s Supper Club Tilapia Parmesan, Piccadilly Cafeteria Carrot Souffle

Wednesday – Chicken Delicious, Zucchini They Will Eat!

Thursday – Roast, rice and gravy, steamed broccoli

Friday – Clean out the fridge!

Saturday – Ground Beef Sukiyaki

Sunday – Bourbon Chicken, Awesome Egg Rolls

Go on over to Organizing Junkie and share your own menu plan!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Enter the kettlebell!

My sweetie (whose blog can be found here) has talked me into starting a kettlebell workout.

This should be interesting, as my body strength probably closely approximates that of the proverbial 97-pound weakling, except that I weigh a whole lot more than 97 pounds. Go to YouTube and search for "kettlebell workout" if you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about. This apparently has the potential to make me toned and stronger than I ever thought I could be. Heck, if it shrinks my butt a good bit and helps my upper arms not flap in a strong breeze, I'll call it a success.

I'm starting out with a 15-pound kettlebell (the little red one in the picture - the other two are Brian's).

One of the exercises I'm supposed to do is called a Turkish get-up. It involves lying on the ground holding the kettlebell over my head and working my way up to a standing position, holding the kettlebell over my head the whole time. Well, right now my arms are nowhere near strong enough to hold a 15-pound hunk of metal over my head and get up off the ground from a prone position at the same time, so I'm doing it as a body weight exercise. It's still quite the challenge for this short, rotund woman, I'll tell you that.

I guess at some point I should take my measurements. I have an idea, but still - the actual numbers will probably be a bit depressing. But I'm starting the process of changing those numbers for the better, so that's encouraging. Julian was quite enthused to hear that I plan on becoming a hot mama. LOL I'll catalog my progress here, small and slow though it may be.

Tonight's workout: five minutes of around-the-backs (just what it sounds like - passing the kettlebell from hand to hand around my body) and halos (holding the kettlebell and rotating it around my head without getting my arms too far away from my body). It's a start!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Catching up

Since I'm up before the alarm clock went off, I thought I'd try to catch up a bit!

Let's see, what all has happened since last I blogged?

Julian is now seven years old.

We didn't have a big party this year - he didn't really seem interested like he has in years past. We just went out to dinner and let him pick the restaurant (he opted for Italian). We had a birthday cake at home - Star Wars, one of his favorites:

He got lots of presents from us, and from his dad, and from grandparents. It was a low-key day, but a good one. Happy seventh birthday, my big boy!

Rhys is now three months old:

He'd gotten to where he was sleeping nine hours at a stretch, but a bout with worse-than-usual congestion knocked that right out of whack, and he was waking up every hour to two hours there for a few days. That was no fun, let me tell you. Last night he slept for over eight hours, though, so I'm hopeful that we're moving back toward that nice long stretch of sleep. He's not a chatty baby - he doesn't make a lot of cooing and gurgling sounds, although he does make them. But he laughs. Not a big belly laugh yet, but if I do something that entertains him, he'll go, "ha!" and just get a big ol' grin on his face. (I've discovered that he finds chicken noises the height of hilarity.) I love baby laughs. When he went to the doctor for the congestion, he weighed in at 16 pounds, 13 ounces. He's outgrowing his clothes at a record rate. I can't even think of buying fall/winter clothes yet, because I have no idea what size he'll be!

I went back to work on July 10. Apparently I was missed, which is always a good thing. (I'm hoping the fact that people came to appreciate me in my absence might translate itself into some kind of raise this year, but given the industry I work in, I'm not counting on it.) It hasn't been terrible being back, although it makes me really sad to think that I'll likely never have a long stretch of time off to spend with the boys again.

Julian is now going to summer camp, and Rhys is in daycare. They're both at the same place, which makes drop-off and pick-up easier. I try not to think too hard about the fact that Rhys is in someone else's care for nearly half of every day. If I were to let myself think about it, I'd just cry. It's not quite so hard with Julian, because he's school-age and would be in school for a big chunk of the day even if I were home. But Rhys could be home with me, if only I could be home. I struggle with this a lot, even knowing that I'm not sure I'm temperamentally cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I hate that my kids are and will be pushed into being somewhere and doing something on all their school breaks. I hate thinking that they won't get summers like I used to have as a kid, where you didn't have to be in a rush to get up and get moving so mama could drop you off at day camp on her way to the office, where you could sleep in if you wanted and where you didn't have to do anything in particular if you didn't feel like it. I want that for my kids, and I don't think it will ever happen, and that makes me sad.

And now that I'm all maudlin this morning, let me finish this up and go get dressed for work. So begins another day in the rat race.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The bad, the good and the not so good

Bad: A few weeks ago, the transmission in Brian's van bit it (ironically, as he was on his way to the transmission place to have it checked out). Being as how the van had 125,000 miles on it and a blue book value of about $3000 on a good day, we decided it wasn't worth investing $1500+ in it to fix the transmission. This left us a one-car family, which was fine as long as I was on maternity leave (well, not fine, but doable), but I go back to work on July 10 (tomorrow, but that may be a topic for another post). We needed a vehicle, but weren't really in a position where we felt comfortable adding a car payment to the budget right now. What to do?

Good: We found a 1986 Ford F-150 extended cab for the right price, only 50,000 miles on it. Score! We paid cash, no car payment needed. The air conditioner blew but didn't cool, but a mechanic here in town fixed that for only $109.70 (that and a couple of other little tweaky things, too). And when Brian gave him a $100 and a $20, he said, "Keep the $20, I'll just take the $100 and we'll call it even." He is SO our mechanic for life.

Not so good: The truck didn't want to start today while Brian was running errands on his lunch hour. *sigh* Brian talked to an old guy at the post office (where he was when it conked out) who saw him messing around with the truck. The guy had worked on Fords for 40-odd years, and told Brian it was either the timing chain or a stripped timing gear. I called A+ (where we took it before), and the mechanic told me it would be at most $300-400 to fix. Thankfully we have that right this minute, so that's a good thing. And Brian can take me to the bus station tomorrow and keep the car to do his running around with the boys while I'm at work. It will mean everyone getting up sucktastically early, as I need to be at the bus station by 7:00 to get to work by 7:30, which means leaving here by 6:30 at the latest. That should be fun! Not. Oh well, it could be worse. We could be a one-car family all the time. That would be a big logistical ball of fail.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

I hope we can all take a little time today to remember what this holiday is really about - American independence. God bless our country, and God bless the people who've given their lives to gain that independence for us and those who continue to do so.

I've got a lot to catch up on, and hopefully I'll get the chance to do that sometime this weekend. Today, though, it's cookapalooza at our house. We got a good deal on a lot of meat yesterday, so Brian is firing up the smoker, and we've got potluck at church tomorrow, so I'm whipping up some crawfish fettucine and lemon coconut bars as my contributions. Throw in a few loads of laundry and a couple of Bright Blessings orders to fill, and I think the weekend is just going to fly by!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two months and two days

Happy two months, Rhyster Beast! We went for his two-month checkup on Wednesday. He now weighs 14 lb. 8 oz., he's 22 1/2 inches long, and his head is 16 inches in circumference. He got three shots and one oral vaccine. He handled the shots themselves OK - he fussed at the needle stick, but was fine once the nurse got Band-Aids put on - but he ran a little low-grade fever for about 24 hours and slept a LOT. He seems to have recovered his usual good nature, though, and it was a good checkup. He's doing everything he should be, according to the doctor. She said he should know who mama is, and I told her we joked that he has a "mama has left the building" radar - the few times I've gone out and left him with Brian, he's started screaming pretty much as soon as I've left and not stopped until I've come back! LOL (I tell Brian not to worry, that one day, Daddy will be way cooler than Mama!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another bit of inspiration

Internet Cafe Devotions strikes again:

…for your Heavenly Father knows that you are in need of all these things".

Matthew 6:32b

$10,000! Letters and phone calls came to the house demanding that we pay this amount to the hospital where I recently had surgery. I was struggling to make sense of the insurance forms, hospital and doctor bills, while trying to recover from a major surgery. We had fought with the insurance company to pay over $500,000 in bills so far.

Why did we still have to fight them for this amount, seemingly small in comparison?

We started to pray and ask God to intervene in taking care of this situation. A month later, our answer came in the mail. It was a letter from some friends from our college days. They heard that I had surgery and wrote to tell us they were praying and would like to help out with a gift. In the envelope I found a check for $10,000!

I could just hear the Father saying, "O what little faith you have! Did you forget that I know all these things and will care for you?" In my Bible, Matthew 6 is appropriately titled, "The cure for anxiety." God gives us all the hope we need in that one small section of the Bible.

He shows us how small our cares and worries are in comparison to His care and supply for us. Whether it is money or material goods, God can provide these things for us, just as He takes care of all of His Creation.

If you are struggling with anxiety over medical bills, house payments, or future plans, God has given you hope and peace in this short passage of Scripture to calm your hearts and turn your focus toward Him. Look for ways God is showing His care for you in the everyday, small ways and trust Him to take care of all the rest.

"Father, help me to remember your promises of provision, even when the outlook seems bleak. May I remember that how you care for your Creation is how you will care for me."

What monetary, medical, or relationship struggles are you going through?

How has God revealed Himself to you in the midst of these struggles?

Are you looking for ways that He is showing His care for you?
In Him,


Again, this is something I really needed to hear. We aren't facing a $10,000 medical bill, but we are facing the possibility of having to pay an obligation that we simply don't have the money for if we're going by our own resources. I'm screwing up my courage to call about it now, and I am scared. My parents didn't raise me to not pay my own way, I feel like a failure for being in this position, and I'm praying that God will, in His grace, rescue me yet again from my own foolish choices and not bring hardship to my husband and my kids because of my stupidity.

So if you're of a praying mindset, I'd appreciate some today, as I make that call. Pray I'll have the courage to actually pick up the phone and get it done (because it won't go away if I ignore it), pray that the situation isn't as dire as I'm building it up to possibly be, and pray that, if it is that bad, God will make a way clear for us to get through it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Birthday party planning

Thanks to those of you who posted comments on my last post - I'm sorry there are others out there struggling with financial woes, but in some way, it helps knowing we aren't alone. And it helps, too, knowing I'm not the only one who struggles with really letting go and trusting God to work.

Birthday party thoughts: We're trying to think of money-saving ideas for Julian's party this year. It will be after I've gone to work and we've started paying through the nose for summer camp and daycare, so it's not like we'll be flush with cash. We'd thought of getting a five-pack of tickets to a local water park (which costs about $105 and includes food and unlimited drinks) for me, Brian, Julian and two of his friends, and making it something small that he could enjoy, rather than a big to-do at Pump It Up or Chuck E. Cheese or whatever. (As an added bonus, this way we wouldn't get a ton of presents from his friends that often just get overlooked in the mess of toys around here.) I mentioned this to J's dad, and he said he was sure Julian would be glad to have his four stepsiblings there. I wanted to ask him, "Um, are you planning on buying their tickets?" Because I wasn't planning on 1) having J's stepsiblings as the only party guests (if his dad is thinking the five tickets are for five kids total, instead of for the two s and three kids we'd thought of), or 2) shelling out a good bit extra for tickets and food for four more guests (if I'm paying that much, I might as well go to Pump It Up). Not sure how exactly I'll address this with his dad, especially as I know Julian will be invited to the joint party for his three younger stepsiblings (who all have July birthdays).

And along those lines, if we do go with the water park idea, would it be tacky to put a note in the invitation to this effect for parents: "We will be meeting at the front gate at such-and-such time. You are welcome to drop your child off and return at such-and-such time, when we will be at the front gate preparing to leave, or if you would like to attend with your child, you are welcome to purchase your own ticket." I have no problem with parents either dropping off or coming with, but I wouldn't want parents to think we were paying for their tickets. That would REALLY get expensive in a hurry, even if it were only for two or three parents.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Money may not buy happiness, but a little more of it could sure reduce some stress.

I read this post at Her Bad Mother, and it helped me think a bit about our financial situation.

On the surface, you'd think we should be doing OK. Brian and I both work full-time. Sure, a little bit more salary would be nice, and I'd like to see an occasional raise or bonus (but I figure there's probably not a lot of chance, given the industry I work in and the degree of government involvement there these days), but looking at it on paper, it would seem like we'd be all right, like we could make ends meet.

Yet somehow that doesn't seem to happen. It seems like each month we're scraping to make it, to get everything paid, and that's before we've had to add daycare expenses to the mix (diapers and formula and medical bills, yes, but daycare won't kick in for a few weeks yet). And now we're finding ourselves in the position of having to start shopping for a new vehicle. My car is in good shape, but the van isn't so much. It still runs well, but it's got 125,000 miles on it, it's got some electrical quirks, and one of the wheels on one of the side doors broke last week - it vibrated open while Brian was driving, and that just won't do, especially not with kids who ride in the back seats. Where will the money come from for a car payment on top of everything else? Beats me. We're behind on the house note, don't know where funds will come from to catch that up, and it seems like each month it gets a little harder to stay current on things - even with both of us working full-time.

I don't ever feel like God drops the clue brick on my head too often. I can't point to many things and say, "Hey, God really convicted me of this, and I got the message from Him loud and clear." Tithing is one of the things where I did get a message. Before Brian was working, we decided to pick a number to give as our tithe and stick to it, even if it wasn't the full 10%. When he started at his previous job, we decided at first to tithe the full 10% from his paycheck and stick to the same amount from mine, which was a pretty scary number to us given that his paycheck wasn't that much to begin with. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but one day it hit me - either we trusted God all the way or not at all, and if we trusted Him all the way, we needed to tithe the full 10% no matter how much it scared us or how impossible it might seem. Since then, we've been faithful to give that 10%, even though there are plenty of times when I'm tempted to keep it for us to use (never mind that, in the grand scheme of things, it's not like that would accomplish anything big - it wouldn't be enough to pay our house note for one month, much less catch it up, it wouldn't pay for a month of daycare, it wouldn't pay off my car or get us a new one). I know blessings don't always come in the form of money, but right now things are seeming pretty dire on the financial front, and it's certainly nothing I can fix in my own strength. I find myself singing this song in my head a lot:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way,
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me,
He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side,
With love and strength
For each new day,
He will make a way,
He will make a way.

God is going to have to make a way on this one, because we simply don't have the resources at our command to fix things (short of a death in the family, and we don't want that - we'd much prefer to keep our loved ones with us, thankyouverymuch). I feel helpless, I'm having a hard time with that trust thing, I'm feeling like somehow I've failed my family by the choices I've made or not made, I'm feeling like I must have failed God and gotten far afield of His plan for things to be going so badly. And sometimes I even feel a little resentful. This afternoon we were driving back from doing some vehicle shopping, and we went through a really nice part of a nearby town, the area by the country club where the houses cost more than I'll ever see in my lifetime and where the subdivisions have a list of "approved builders", so you know they're really pretty hoity-toity. I told Brian that I don't care about living the high life, I'm not interested in a million-dollar home or a new luxury car, I just want to stay in my house, fix it up for my family, drive a nice reliable car, have money to pay the bills without it being down to the wire all the time (or even a few dollars short), be able to do the occasional fun thing like a family vacation, and maybe do some good for others that we don't feel like we have the resources to do now. If I wanted to live high on the hog, I can see God telling me, "no, you're just being greedy now, you can't have that" - but I don't, and I sometimes find myself thinking, "God, are we asking for that much that it's not something You feel like we need, enough to not be constantly stressed over and struggling with money?" I've wondered before if being a person of faith, someone who trusts God to provide and meet your needs, has to be inconsistent with any kind of financial stability or security, if those two are mutually exclusive and you have to be one or the other. I don't know if that's the case, but some days it sure feels like it.

And gosh, it seems like I had a very similar conversation with myself back in September. Things haven't gotten better, really, in almost a year. Bright Blessings hasn't taken off, I haven't found a job that will give me a fat pay raise, we haven't won the lotto. Still, we're being as faithful as we know how to be, and I do know God has a plan. Right now, though, I'm just really, really scared. I want to know how things will work out and when, and I'm having a hard time with the trusting and waiting part.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting rid of fifty things

I've been trying to make my breakfast nook into a space for my Bright Blessings supplies, and finally decided it was time to get serious. Here's the before:

I lost count of how many things I threw away, but it had to be more than fifty. It's not complete just yet, but here are the results so far:

I've learned that I need to just give things a good throwing away as I go, rather than letting them pile up, and that my mother was right when she said it was easier to just keep it clean all along.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I love this picture of Rhys. He's sound asleep, stretched out on my chest, not a care in the world. He has nothing but confidence that mama and daddy will meet his needs and take care of him.

A couple of weeks ago, I got this from Internet Cafe Devotions. It reads:

As he walked across the stage to sit down the picture painted a thousand words in my mind. Scott McEntyre, a blind contestant on American Idol, had to be guided through every step. He had no choice. It was his life.

What if we were like Scott?

What if we were that dependent?

Would life look different?

If you could not see one step in front of you, would you wait on someone to guide you or would you feel your way on your own?

Jesus waited for His every step from the One who saw the big picture. He knew He was not to lean on His own understanding.

It's a lost art in this day and age. We are taught to figure things out, get it right, take care of ourselves. Self-reliance is affirmed in the world around us. Do we really have any clue what it means to be totally dependent on anyone?

My daughter is getting married. The truth is we don't have enough money to cover all the expenses. We know God will provide. We've already seen Him cover things in unexpected ways. She's happy to have what He has for her, but sometimes we both feel the pressure to figure it all out.

She came to talk about the wedding cake. It's easy for her to bring the costs to her dad and I, after all we look like the ones who are supposed to have answers. I could feel the tension mounting inside me to come up with a way to cover the expense, when Jesus spoke to me.

"Jewel, tell her to come to me with each detail of this wedding, first." "Tell her I have a cake picked out for her, one I will provide for." "Tell her to ask me to let her fall in love with the one I've chosen for her." "Tell her to give it to me to cover." "She's looking to you and David." "You are not her resource, I am." "Teach her to depend on Me." "Oh and by the way, you need to remember too."

Jesus knows the path of trust. He was not self-reliant. He didn't have to come up with the answers. He knew God had the answers to life around Him. He knew the Father had His needs figured out and would cover them. He didn't fret or struggle to make it all happen. He waited to be covered. He spoke what the Father told Him to speak. He went where the Father told Him to go. He said what the Father told Him to say. Dependence was a way of life for Him.

Why do I not think life should be the same for me?

He speaks to me again. "Do not lean on your own understanding, Jewel." "In all your ways acknowledge Me. "Look to Me in all things, big and small. I will direct your path. I never meant for you to lean on yourself. I made you lean on Me." "I've got your covered."

He knows the path. He knows the answers. He has it all cared for. Whose understanding will I lean on? Mine or His? One will carry the burden, the other will relieve it.

It's pretty simple to understand, yet hard to live. Jesus asks me to live what He lived. Rely on the Father alone. Don't look to myself. Don't try to figure things out.

In those moments of blindness my need for dependence is great. I cannot see. I have no choice. I must be led. Need invites dependence. Dependence leads to life.

He's familiar with all my ways. Every detail is cared for by the One who ordained my life. It's was the path of Jesus. It's the path He wants for me. Self-reliance will kill me, while dependence will bring me life. Jesus knew this. He chose the path of life. It is there I will find Him. It's where He walked. It's where He now waits to walk with me.

Laying aside my world's entanglements I choose to stand in my blindness and wait. I know He is there. I feel His touch. I hear His voice. Rest permeates my body as I lean into Him knowing; He's been waiting for me. He's got me covered.

What about you? Is your immediate response to turn to Him or to try to figure it out? Is dependence more familiar to you or self-reliance?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge (look to) Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5 & 6

This really spoke to me. Really trusting, really being dependent on God, is something that doesn't come easily for me. It seemed to be a lot easier when I was younger - not sure what happened along the way, but that childlike faith is hard for me to come by. I'm much more of the self-reliance school of thought. When there's a problem, I tend to think, "What can *I* do to fix this?" I struggle to find a balance between trusting God to lead me, to provide for me, to help me, and doing what I can to fix a situation. I don't think God expects us to sit idly by just expecting that a solution will fall into our hands, but I do need to be reminded often that He can and does work in unexpected ways. I want to lay my worries before God, confident that He has a plan for me and that He will work things out in His time and according to that plan, just like Rhys is able to fall asleep on my chest, knowing that next time he needs food, it will be there, and knowing he is loved. Some days (more days than not) it takes a conscious effort on my part to let go of the worries and fears I insist on carrying around for myself and insist on repeatedly trying to take back from God, but on those days I do really let go and trust, what a blessing that is.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - May 18-24

It's time for another menu plan!

Monday, May 18 - Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, Redstone Restaurant Famous Cornbread with Maple Butter (the plan changed last week and this didn't get made, so we're doing it this week!)
Tuesday, May 19 - Breakfast for dinner!
Wednesday, May 20 - Easy Crock Pot Pork Chops, calabacitas
Thursday, May 21 - Chicken cashew stir-fry
Friday, May 22 - Fajitas
Saturday, May 23 - Something from the freezer
Sunday, May 24 - Dinner out (by this point, I figure I'll be ready for a break!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

One month old today

Rhys is one month old today.

I can't believe it's been a month already since he was born. Already he's grown and changed so much. Brian said that in true Terry Pratchett fashion, Rhys said his first word tonight - "ook". LOL He'll be working on actual words before we know it, and starting school, and asking to borrow the car keys. I'm trying to cherish the baby days, even the ones that may be a bit difficult to cherish (like the ones where he's awake for several hours at a time, screaming his little head off because he's so tired, but unwilling to give it up and sleep - those are days where I'm just thankful the long wakeful stretches aren't in the middle of the night). He won't be little forever.

Happy one month, little man. I love you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Belated thoughts on Mother's Day

I meant to post on Sunday, but you know how time gets away from you with a new baby in the house!

We went to church on Sunday, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive these:

I was the newest mom there, the one who'd given birth most recently. Once they announced the category, I didn't figure anyone who'd given birth less than three weeks previously would be at church that day. LOL I'm hoping to plant them in the front yard and keep them as a permanent reminder.

Of course, it being Mother's Day and all, I was thinking of my mom:

That's the two of us on the day I married Julian's dad, December 31, 1994. She passed away unexpectedly on January 10, 1995, at the age of 64, and not a day goes by that I don't think of her. The pain isn't sharp like it was fourteen years ago, and I don't cry every time something reminds me of her, but so many times I've wished she were here to see her grandsons, to give me advice (which I would gleefully have rejected out of hand when I was younger, and now I'd love the chance to tell her, "yes, Mama, you were right"!), to fuss at me because my house isn't presentable enough and then to help me straighten it up.

And of course I had to consider my own motherly blessings:

I'm not sure what I've done to deserve two wonderful boys (and they are wonderful, even when homework is a challenge and bedtime isn't as early as I'd like and there are piles of laundry to do and lots of diapers to be changed and general chaos in the house), but I'm very thankful for them both.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - May 11-17

It's Menu Plan Monday again! I've tweaked the menu just a bit since my last post about menu planning. I've got to get back into the habit of doing this. It makes grocery shopping so much easier and evenings so much less hectic. So here's our menu for the upcoming week.

Monday, May 11 - Tuscan Chicken with White Beans (from Super Suppers)
Tuesday, May 12 - Spaghetti Squash and Chicken Bake
Wednesday, May 13 - Red beans and rice with sausage
Thursday, May 14 - Beef enchiladas with sour cream sauce
Friday, May 15 - Breakfast for dinner - pancakes or waffles (depending on our mood), bacon, scrambled eggs
Saturday, May 16 - Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, Redstone Restaurant Famous Cornbread with Maple Butter
Sunday, May 17 - Cashew Chicken Curry

Saturday, May 09, 2009

5 Joys of Parenting

Christy tagged me with this, and I've only just now found it! Right now we've got a small boy who spent a good chunk of the afternoon asleep in the car seat as we ran errands, and now he won't stay awake if we hold him but won't sleep in his crib or anywhere else, so it's a good time for me to remind myself of some things I love about parenting.

1. Spontaneous expressions of affection. Julian is six now, and I know the day will come when he thinks he's too cool for Mama to hug and kiss him, and when he'd rather swallow nails than tell me he loves me, especially if he thinks anyone might overhear. So when he tells me out of the blue, "Mama, I love you!", that just makes my whole day. And he's not too big yet to give me kisses - I took lunch to him at school yesterday, and he gave me a goodbye kiss in front of all his friends. Those spontaneous expressions of affection, given simply because that's how he feels, make up for all the sleepless nights and homework struggles and frustrations that also come with the parenting territory.

2. Watching them learn. Rhys isn't doing a whole lot yet other than eat, sleep, and poop, but Julian learns and changes all the time. When he was a baby, it was so much fun watching him discover that hey, these wiggly things are attached to ME, and look, I can make them move! When he was learning to move around, he didn't crawl first, he scooted on his butt. It was such a joy seeing him figure out that now he didn't need mama to get him from one place to the other. And it thrills me when he realizes, hey, I can do something new by MYSELF!, be it learning how to snap snaps and button buttons or moving up a level in reading or learning to add two-column numbers or taking pictures with the digital camera. OK, I'll admit the trend toward independence also makes me a little misty around the edges, because it means he's growing up and getting closer to the day where he doesn't *need* mama's help anymore, but still. It's a good thing, and he's so excited with himself when he accomplishes something new, how can that not make me happy? I'm so blessed now to have another opportunity to watch a sweet boy learn and grow, too, and I look forward to seeing Rhys reach milestones as he gets bigger.

3. Reading! I'm an avid reader, have been since I was very young. One thing I really wanted to pass on to my kids was my love of the written word. Julian isn't quite as fond of reading as I was - I was never without a book in my hand, and he'd just as soon play video games as anything else. But he does like to read, and we always read stories at bedtime. We read his books, and I'm also introducing him to some of my childhood favorites, like The Phantom Tollbooth (and some more recent favorites, like the Harry Potter books). He's started asking to read stories to Rhys, and I'm hopeful that they'll both grow up to appreciate books, if not quite as much as I do, at least enough to where they'll always enjoy the chance to read a good book from time to time.

4. The chance to play. As an alleged grown-up, I find it far too easy to get caught up in the whirl of "things that need my attention" - the laundry, the dishwashing, the bills to be paid, the car maintenance that has to get done, what have you. There are times Julian wants to play, and he won't take no for an answer. He's not concerned about all that grown-up nonsense, he just wants me to spend time with him. So we'll play Lego Batman on the Wii, or go outside and hit a baseball, or play space rangers and shoot imaginary bad guys, or squirt each other with water guns. And for just a little while, I can reconnect with the part of me that still remembers what playtime is like and wishes there was more of it in daily life.

5. Childlike faith. I grew up in the Baptist church, and became a Christian at the age of eight. Now that I'm older, it often seems that childlike faith was a lot easier to have when I was, well, a child. It was easy to say when I was a child, "God will take care of me" and deep-down believe it. Julian brings that back to me. He doesn't question it at all that God isn't visible to our eyes - it's just how things are for him that we see God with our hearts, and that He's always there, and that He hears us when we pray. It reminds me to take time to nurture my own spiritual life, to refresh my heart and my faith, and to remember that yes, God does hear us when we pray, even if His answers may not be the ones we want to hear or given according to our timeframe.

I'm going to tag Celeste, Melissa, Bethany, and Jenn. Y'all have fun with it!

Getting back on the menu planning train

I know it's not Menu Plan Monday yet, but I need to get back in the swing of things. So I'm jotting down my menu plan for the next couple of weeks as I plan my grocery shopping trip for today. I'm going to start with Monday, as we'll probably just wing it with leftovers this weekend and play clean out the fridge. (Please note: the planned meals may sometimes be replaced with dishes from Super Suppers, for those days when I just don't feel like putting any effort into cooking!) And yes, we will be adding veggies and sides, but I'll just be making those up as we go.

Monday, May 11 - Spaghetti Squash and Chicken Bake
Tuesday, May 12 - Tuna, Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Wednesday, May 13 - Red beans and rice with sausage
Thursday, May 14 - Beef enchiladas with sour cream sauce
Friday, May 15 - Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, Redstone Restaurant Famous Cornbread with Maple Butter
Saturday, May 16 - Homemade pizzas
Sunday, May 17 - Cashew Chicken Curry

Monday, May 18 - Beef Mushroom Stroganoff
Tuesday, May 19 - Breakfast for dinner!
Wednesday, May 20 - Easy Crock Pot Pork Chops
Thursday, May 21 - Chicken cashew stir-fry
Friday, May 22 - Fajitas
Saturday, May 23 - Something from the freezer
Sunday, May 24 - Dinner out (by this point, I figure I'll be ready for a break!)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Just feeling overwhelmed

Not so much with newborn stuff, per se. Rhys is doing quite well for being less than a month old. My only real gripe is that he tends to have a longish stretch of being awake (and fussy) late in the day, at the same time I'm usually trying to get Julian settled. Julian has a hard time settling and sleeping if Rhys is crying, and in the late evening, Rhys usually is crying. I'm feeling especially anxious this evening, as Brian went back to choir practice and this is my first time to handle bedtime for both boys by myself. I'm worried that no one will be in bed and I'll be ready to drink heavily by the time Brian gets home.

I also find myself worrying about finances. We've been tithing faithfully for several months now, and I know God promises to meet our needs if we are faithful to Him. And thus far, no needs have gone unmet. Sometimes they're met at the last minute and with a whole lot of pinching and scraping and scrambling, but they've been met. Now we're adding all the expenses of a new baby to the household - diapers, formula, daycare once my maternity leave is over. We're always cutting it fine just before payday, and I find myself wondering where the money will come from. I'm not sure what else we can cut from our budget, and I guess I'll have to get better with using coupons and finding ways to economize on things we need. I'm trying to keep the faith here, but it scares me. I feel like I've been chasing my tail financially ever since I married Julian's dad, because once we got married, things just went downhill, and I'm still trying to dig my way out from that. But I know God had a plan when He blessed us with Rhys, and I can't believe He'd give Rhys to us and not provide a way for us to make ends meet. It just makes me nervous not knowing what that way may be, and it makes me more nervous given that Brian and I both have full-time employment already, and I know not to expect any raises or bonuses at my job. It also seems like any financial news is always negative, like the fact that Brian will owe $500 and change for his new CPAP machine. Sure, we can pay it out over time, but it's one more thing to add to the list of People We Owe Money To, and it feels like that list just never seems to get any shorter, you know? Just once, I wish financial news would be good, like "you've won enough in the lotto to pay off your house note". I'm not greedy, we don't have to win the Mega Millions jackpot - I'd be thrilled if we did win just enough to pay off the house note.

And then there's the whole job situation. I like my job well enough most days. I like my manager, he's a good guy. I like my co-workers. Hate my commute, hate the fact that it takes me away from home for pretty much twelve hours out of every day, but it is what it is. I just don't think I'm truly suited for corporate America, and it kills me to have to tell Julian (and knowing that one day I'll be telling Rhys), "I'm sorry, sweetie, Mama can't come to such-and-such at school because I have to work." And while I do like my job well enough, it's just that - a job. I'm fairly competent at it, but I'm not passionate about it. I can't fathom having a job I'm passionate about. I can't even think of anything that I'm passionate about that would ever come close to making me any money. I guess I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and not having much success. I'd make a change if I could think of something to change to. But I've likely been out of the legal arena long enough to disqualify myself from most legal jobs, and honestly, there are a lot of jobs in the legal arena that I wouldn't want anyway. I'd love something closer to home, but the options just aren't here - not that I know of, anyway. I'd really love to find something that would allow me to work from home, but I can't think of anything that 1) would replace my current salary, and 2) wouldn't require me to invest time and money (both of which are currently in short supply) in further education/certification/something to get started on a different path. I find myself wondering what I was thinking when I made the choices I did when I was younger, how might things be different had I chosen differently, and sometimes (like right now) it just makes me want to cry.

Then there's my own personal wallow in the pity pit. I've mentioned Bright Blessings before - it's my little sideline/expensive hobby, on hold for now until I feel like I can maybe make a decent showing of it. I've still got my Etsy shop, but haven't sold anything recently. I'm on a couple of boards that deal with, among other things, bath and beauty-type stuff, and I see people starting their Etsy shops all the time and selling things like gangbusters. I find myself wondering something similar to what Melinda wondered here - is my fairly significant lack of success God's way of trying to tell me I'm spinning my wheels trying to ever make anything of Bright Blessings, either on my own site or on Etsy? I see others succeeding where I have not, or at least making a reasonably good showing of their businesses, and I find myself thinking that I must be doing something wrong. I like making candles and scrubs and what have you, and when people have ordered in the past, they seemed to like what they got. Bright Blessings has just never taken off, really. So that's rolling around in my head, too.

I'll have to post later and share some happy things, since I've been such a Debbie Downer here. I just needed to get it all off my chest.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cupcakes for Mother's Day!

It's another tasty giveaway from I Never Grew Up! The giveaway is for a dozen cupcakes from Cupcake Chic. Just looking at their flavor list makes me drool - chocolate cake with mocha buttercream frosting, buttermilk cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate cake with coconut cream cheese frosting? Mmmm, sign me up!

Hop on over and sign up!

Rhys is here, and we're home!

Rhys Daniel was born on April 17, 2009 at 8:32 AM. He weighed 8 lb. 10 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. (For comparison, Julian weighed 8 lb. 8 oz. and was 20.25 inches long. Pretty close, huh?) He came out screaming - no question that his lungs worked! LOL We were in the hospital until Monday, April 20, and then we came home. A few pictures for your viewing enjoyment:

I die of the cuteness.

Yep, my lungs work!

Bonding with Daddy.

Ready to go home.

Daddy loves me!

"What is this, and did I say you could bring it home?"

Hanging out in my crib.

First bath - not crazy about the idea.

Mmm, fingers! Tasty!

I'm still moving a bit slowly, but getting better. I have my first follow-up with my doctor on May 4. I'll be able to drive by then, woo! (I had to laugh - I told Julian I wouldn't be able to drive for two weeks, and he looked at me with this astounded expression on his face and said, "Well, who'll be able to do it, then?!" LOL I reminded him that Brian could drive, too.) I'll be glad when I can sleep comfortably on my side again.

Brian's mom came to stay for the better part of a week. It was wonderful having the help, and Rhys got to spend time with Nana. I know she loved that!

Rhys had his first doctor's appointment last Friday. He's up to 8 lb. 13 oz., and he handled the whole check-up thing pretty well. So far he's been a pretty laid-back kid. He actually sat in his bouncy seat for a while one day, just content to hang out. Vastly different from Julian, who wanted nothing other than mama to pack him around all the time. I joked that I felt like I was neglecting Rhys because I wasn't holding him constantly! LOL

He has had a couple of fussy days, most notably last night, that have made us think we may be better off going with soy-based formula. Julian had to have the soy as well, and last night was such a screamfest and so out of character for Rhys' normal demeanor (I know, I know, hard to judge "normal" after only eight days, and newborns are subject to change without notice) that we figured the soy was worth a try. It's seemed to help so far, which is good - it just hurt my heart to hear him screaming last night and not to be able to figure out anything to help him or to make things better.

I'm off work until July 10. I'm sure it will fly right by, and I'll be back to work before I know it. So I'm going to try to cherish every minute of this time with Rhys.

Friday, April 17, 2009

We're outta here!

It's baby day! Good thoughts and prayers are appreciated, and I'll post when I'm home!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

T minus one.

This time tomorrow, I'll be at the hospital. My c-section will be underway. And tomorrow, I'll become the mom to two kids. Yikes.

I'm not ready to have two kids! The last couple of days with the one I have have taxed me almost beyond belief. I guess it's too late to change my mind, huh? LOL I joke. We're excited about Rhys's arrival (although I'm more nervous about the c-section this time, since I've had a whole lot more time to think about it). I just know it's going to be an adjustment for us all (and probably an especially difficult one for Julian, since he's been the center of attention for six years now), and I'm really not looking forward to that part.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fahrenheit 350 giveaway

I'd never heard of Fahrenheit 350 before, until I came across this giveaway at I Never Grew Up. One lucky winner will get all these goodies, courtesy of Fahrenheit 350:

Half pound Pecan Sweet Log
Half Pound Chocolate Pecan Sweet Log
Half Pound Walnut Sweet Log
8oz Caramel Sweet Sauce
8oz Chocolate Sweet Sauce
8oz Toasted Coconut Sweet Sauce
One pound bag of Caramel Sweet Treats

Now, I don't know about you, but I could mess up a chocolate pecan sweet log! Go check out Fahrenheit 350's site for more delectable goodies, and stop by I Never Grew Up to enter the giveaway.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Nine days

And counting. Yikes.

I hurt. I'm all bunchy in the middle when I get up and move around, I've felt this way most of the day. I don't think it's anything significant in the grand scheme of things - I'm guessing it's just Braxton-Hicks, certainly not like I need to hop up and head to the hospital right away. It's just uncomfortable and that makes me cranky. And now I'm running a fever? 99.4, so just enough to make me feel crappy. Yay. I just think it would be funny if this were some kind of precursor to actual labor, given 1) that my body did absolutely nothing on its own with Julian, and he didn't come out until the doctor made him, and 2) I have a c-section scheduled in nine days. I have my appointment tomorrow at 1:30, we'll see what my doc has to say. If I can just make it through Friday, I'll be off work until July 10.

The hospital where I'll be delivering called this afternoon, saying they had me as a private pay because they couldn't verify my benefits?! I sent the paperwork in weeks ago. I gave them all my insurance information again, and made sure they had my cell number to get in touch with me if something else isn't right. I'm glad they called, and I know I've got insurance, but that's not a call you really want to get nine days before you deliver - "hey, do you have insurance, because we show you're paying for this yourself". !!!! Good that they called rather than just sending me a big honkin' bill afterward.

We have more crops in the garden - cucumbers are starting to come up, as are both our yellow and zucchini squashes. The lettuces are running rampant, and it will be nice to have our own very fresh salad once they're up. The sugar snaps are doing well, and the green beans are starting to come up, too. Our Roma tomato plant is holding its own, but the other one gave in to strong winds. We replaced it, but the wind just won't die down. If it would, that other tomato and our pepper plants might stand a chance. The onions are thriving, too. How exactly do you know when an onion is ready to harvest?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I am Rotunda the Large

That's what I feel like these days, anyway! Sixteen days until baby Rhys makes his big debut.

I'm uncomfortable today, but I never went into anything like labor on my own with Julian, so I wouldn't know if I'd recognize anything as "meaningful" or if this is just the aches and pains of pregnancy combined with being an old skeezer. LOL I've got lots of groin-area pain when I get up and move around. It usually eases up once I've gotten moving, though. I just feel vaguely squirmy and fidgety and out of sorts. Makes it hard to concentrate at work, even though I've got a goal in mind for the afternoon. That sucks.

I did have to laugh, though. When I went for my appointment yesterday, the nurse asked if I was having any contractions. I said I didn't think so, but being as how I never actually went into labor with Julian, I wasn't sure I'd know a contraction if it bit me on the nose. It probably doesn't help that my pain tolerance is pretty high, so something that someone else might feel and know, "OMG, that's a big painful contraction", I might just think "Ow, that's uncomfortable, let's move around and see if it goes away." There's no rhyme or reason to the timing, though, so I seriously doubt any of this is any kind of contraction or "progress". It's just all aches and pains designed to make me good and whiny and more than ready for my c-section when it's time!

My health is still good, and I'm thankful for that. I did decide to take off Monday through Thursday the week of my c-section. By that point, I'm pretty sure I won't want to be bothered with getting dressed and dragging myself in to work.

In garden news: We have crops! Our lettuces and beets have started growing. We lost a couple of plants (one of the tomatoes and our mild jalapeno) to some windy/rainy weather, but we can replant those. It's just so exciting to see something sprouting that we planted with our own hands.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Our garden and other weekend fun

Yesterday was a big day. I needed to get a taillight and headlight replaced on my car, and I'd called the Kia dealership for an estimate, but the dealership is far away and our local Kwik Kar is, well, local. So we dropped the car off there. Not only did they have it fixed within the hour (before we finished running errands), but they also fixed both the headlight and the taillight for less than the price that the dealership had quoted me to repair just the headlight. I love it when things work out like that!

We ran up to Dallas to pick up some firewood (found it free on Craigslist - if you haven't gotten into the habit of checking out your local Craigslist, I highly recommend it, you can find a ton of good stuff for free or cheap if you just keep an eye out). Then we went to Home Depot to pick up the rest of our supplies for our square foot garden. By that time, it was lunchtime and we were hungry, so we went to Chapps Cafe for a hamburger. It looks to be largely a north Texas thing, but if you're ever in the area, it's worth finding one and giving it a try. I love Chapps - I give them full credit for convincing my son that there are better chicken strips to be had than Chicken McNuggets! LOL Any restaurant that he'll choose over McDonald's gets high marks from me, and they make a fine hamburger to boot.

After lunch, it was home to garden! Brian had already made our garden box and the square foot grid for it, so all he had to do was mix up our dirt, put it in the box, and then we were ready to plant.

Here's our box with dirt in it, waiting for good things to grow there:

Here's our box with plants and seeds:

We're growing two kinds of lettuces (Bibb and a salad mix), four kinds of peppers (mild jalapeno, hot garden salsa, orange bell, and Cubanelle), two kinds of tomatoes (Roma and Celebrity), yellow squash, zucchini, sugar snap peas, green beans, golden beets, onions (two squares), and cucumbers. I hope our little garden does well! Brian also got really motivated and built a compost bin yesterday.

And today we gave church a miss. Brian woke up running fever, with a head full of multicolored snot, and basically feeling like a train hit him. Bless his heart, he looks awful. I've been puny for the past few days, and I'm still not 100%, but I'm doing better at this point than he is. He's been sleeping for most of the day.

I think most of my problem is allergies. When Julian and I went out to the store this afternoon, I realized my car was just yellow from the pollen. Ugh. Only a month until I can take my Allegra, only a month until I can take my Allegra....

In other fun, Julian is out of his Vyvanse. He's happy as can be, but Lord have mercy, he's wearing me out. When we went to get a refill on Saturday, the pharmacist said he couldn't fill it due to errors on the prescription form and due to the date of the prescription being written incorrectly and then marked over to change it. We're hoping to pick up a new prescription on Monday and get it filled Monday evening, so Julian should be back on the Vyvanse by Tuesday. I'm just vexed that the doctor's office wrote the prescription out with errors, and vexed with myself for waiting until the last minute to get a new one, and vexed that this is a prescription that they just will not call in - we have to go by and pick up the written form every month. School should be interesting tomorrow. I just hope he doesn't have a completely rotten day, because if he does, it won't be like it's entirely bad behavior on his part. We'll see.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Earth mother

You know, I don't think I'm really suited for corporate America. I grew up in the country, and I like being outside when I've got something to do there. Now that I'm married to a man who also likes the outdoors, we're doing some more outdoorsy-type things. He's planted a couple of trees in the yard, a red oak and a fig, and we're watching them grow. I was out watering them today and it occurred to me that I'd be much happier if I weren't having to schlep to work in the big city, if I could do something from home and tend to our growing things (kids and trees alike). We're planting a garden this year, too, and that will be both food and science experiment - Julian is already excited about the prospect of watching our plants grow (although we'll see how excited he is when he gets to go out and pull weeds! LOL). I like to cook. I like to be outside when I get a chance. Why, then, can't I figure out some way that I could be home doing the things I like more often, instead of sitting behind a desk wishing nine hours of my life away every day?

In other news, I'm now 35 weeks and 1 day pregnant. My c-section has been moved to April 17, so I'll be able to make it to J's school program on April 16. This makes me happy. I didn't figure it would be a real good start to his relationship with his brother for me to have to tell him, "sorry, sweetie, I'll miss your program and art show because I'll be in the hospital bringing your brother into the world!" I know the time will come where he'll have to learn that mama will now be dividing time and attention between two boys instead of giving it all to just the one, but I didn't figure right off the bat was the time he *had* to learn that particular lesson.

I've been home sick the past couple of days. I don't know if it's a cold or a sinus infection - the doctor said it was too early to tell, and I can't really take much in the way of good meds, so I've just been drinking lots of fluids and trying to rest. Julian stayed home with me today, too. I figured we could both use a rest. Of course, the day we *could* sleep in, naturally he was awake at the crack of dawn, wanting to know when I was going to get out of bed. Still, it beats being at the office. I don't feel great just yet, but I guess I feel better than I did yesterday. I'm not perky, but I'm not sure if that's from the crud or just from being hugely pregnant.