Thursday, April 7, 2016

Family Times

Since December, I have been at home, trying to carve out my new path, and I have been keeping pretty busy!

I decided to become a substitute teacher since it is a great, flexible way to earn some money.  I began the process over Christmas break and finally completed my final step last week, just before spring break.  I am looking forward to finally getting into a classroom; hopefully I'll be able to get over my nerves after I sub the first couple of times.  

Also, as I've mentioned in my previous posts, I'm also starting a small business.  I have been working a lot on developing the foundation of the business and am ready to just start working, but I know I have to slow down and start if off right so it can have a chance to succeed.

I've also been doing some babysitting before and after school, which has been a lot of fun.  And as an added bonus, my kids love having their friends over all the time.

I have been slacking on my organizational projects around the house but I think I've been bitten by the spring cleaning bug because I'm ramping up and getting my supplies and my lists ready to do some serious purging and deep cleaning.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably saw my post on the Garage Embarrassment - I had to temporarily take down that post because of some missing images that I need to fix.  Well, we clean out our garage twice per year and it always ends up looking like it did before.  Last fall, we did some more purging and reorganizing of the garage and it started to look really good but since then, things have just been dumped in there again.  So, my goal for this spring is to finish that purge that we started last fall and start using all of the tool storage units that we have.  Tools have always been a big issue in our garage so hopefully once that's under control, it will be a little easier to keep it organized.  (Pray for us on this - it's been a struggle in such a tight space; the garage is our only storage and we don't like just getting rid of stuff but keeping it all hasn't been beneficial for our sanity, either.)

Also, I have felt the HUGE RELIEF of stress since I haven't been working and we've actually been able to spend more quality family time over the past few months.  Our kids are at a great age right now because we can finally all play a game together, take a walk around our neighborhood, or participate in an activity like mini golf.  Here are some images of our family fun over the past few months:


























This final picture of the five of us was taken for the website of the new church where Greg has just been hired to be the Children's Ministry Director! We are so thankful and excited for this new chapter and acknowledge that God's hand has been directing us and guiding us throughout the past two years, the hardest time of our lives to this point.  God is faithful and His love for us never quits!



Thursday, March 31, 2016

Goals - End of 1st Qtr Update

 
Time for a GOALS update!

So, my first goal for 2016 is....Start a small business.   Do much more reading and research on the subject.  Test out some ideas on friends and family.  Drive down to a more specific niche and market.  Meet set financial goals for business. 3/31 Update: I've registered my business and started work on my website and materials, so I need to finish these so I can launch.  I'm so excited to share more with you guys soon!

Second goal....Read two non-fiction books per month, one of which should be either a biography or about a time in history.  This is not an ambitious goal for most of you, but I need to start somewhere.  I don't tend to make reading a priority, mostly because of the normally-crazy pace that we keep with careers and running after three kids.  I feel this goal is attainable and I don't want to set a crazy high bar for myself that I know I won't meet. 3/31 Update:  I haven't read any biographies at all but have read a couple more personal development books in relation to my business.  I don't see me having the time to stay faithful to this goal at this point, but I will try to make a list and start working on it.

Third goal...Pay off last debt in Baby Step 2, our minivan.  We have been on this journey of paying off our debt since 2009, way longer than I thought it would be, but we have made a lot of progress with varying incomes over the years and this is our last one finally! 3/31 Update: This is still a work in progress and will probably be for a while.

Fourth goal...Spiritual growth in discipline.  This one is not as measurable, obviously, but I have been praying over and working on my discipline for the past few months.  More specifically, with food choices and money spent on bad food choices.  Mostly fast food and eating out with my family.  Since I have been at home for the past three weeks, I have had a few temptations of impulse but have not given in!! That alone is a victory in itself.  Because I know that we won't be going out to eat much this year, I've allowed myself to buy treats at the grocery store that I never bought before.  I feel like it's still a better option to buy some less-than-superfood food from the store in lieu of fast food any day.  3/31 Update: This one has actually seen some progress.  Hubs and I are following a new food lifestyle that has helped with my temptations but recently we have allowed ourselves to eat out more than I would really like to admit.  Starting in April, we're getting back on track.  But, the LORD has identified some more specific growth areas to delve into and has blessed me with many opportunities to rest in His truth and see some improvement.

As we start the 2nd quarter of the year, is it time for you to review and re-evaluate your goals?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Smoothie Recipe & New Workout routine



I have a habit of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into my smoothies with no advanced planning.  It always seems like a good idea at the time but I have gone wrong so many times with this method (but you'd better believe I still drank those smoothies.  I hate wasting food; I may or may not have been known to turn myself into a human garbage can if my kids leave food on their plate on occasion).  The past several days have been nutritional failures.  This morning, I was ready to get back on track, so after I took the kids to school, I decided it was time to torture myself with a Jillian Michaels' workout.  

In January, I started working out 3-4 days per week at home with Jillian's 30-day Shred, Level 1 of course.  Ho-ly Mo-ly was that tough!! The first week, I just felt like dying, puking, and passing out!! I knew I was out of shape but this was quite pathetic!  But don't let that scare you because after the first week or so, it did get easier.  I started off only completing about 80% of the workout and by the end of January, I could do the whole workout and finally, at the end of last week, I moved up to Level 2.  Moving up to Level 2 made me feel like I was starting all over again because Level 2 was much more challenging for me.  But the great thing to keep in mind here is that Level 1 got easier after a couple of weeks, so Level 2 will probably feel the same in that way.  And BTW, these are only 20 minute workouts; you can do just about anything for 20 minutes!  



This past week, I switched to Jillian's Ripped in 30 video.  This one includes a 30 day meal plan and the workouts are broken up into four weeks/levels.  In this video, Jillian recommends working out 5-6 days per week, so I'm upping my game!  Again, Level 1 is tough, but has gotten easier to complete with each new day.  I have one more day of Level 1 and then I'll be moving up to Level 2.  I feel like I'm getting stronger already from this past month of working out. 

After these high intensity workouts, I felt like I needed a super-nutrient packed smoothie afterwards.  So, I looked through my pantry and again just started dumping fruits and fillers into my Ninja blender and some were better than others.  I like that I can play around with different healthy foods for different tastes and textures.  

Last week, I discovered a new smoothie recipe using my dumping method and thought I would share it with you because it really was tasty and super-packed with good stuff.  I like this because it has a significant amount of protein and fiber, but the sugar content, albeit all natural, is probably higher than the ideal amount.  (Warning: If you don't like texture to your smoothie, you may want to change it up slightly.)

I'd love to hear what you guys think of this smoothie. I'm also curious if you have a favorite smoothie recipe, particularly a post-workout smoothie.  I'm always looking for new, yummy mixtures!



 

SMOOTHIE RECIPE

This recipe is for a single serving.  It can easily be doubled or tripled as desired.

Ingredients

1 c

Strawberries
1/2
Banana

1/2 c


1/2

1


1/4 c


1 tbsp

2 tbsp

Baby spinach leaves

Gala apple, small

Avocado slice, small

Almond Milk, Unsweetened

Chia Seeds


Directions

1.     Cut the fruits into quarters or smaller.
2.     Blend all of the fruits together in a blender until liquid.
3.     Pour in the almond milk, spinach leaves, chia seeds, and gelatin. Blend until desired texture.


NOTE: The chia seeds and small bits of spinach will add a texture to this smoothie.  Halve them if a smoother consistency is preferable.

Also, you can add ice if you prefer smoothies more chilled.


+ All of the links used in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you buy the product using this link, I earn a tiny commission for referring you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time for goals setting 2016

 

The last couple of years, I've intended  (I think I came through at least twice...) to update my goal progress at the end of each quarter.  I like sharing my goals with you (whoever is reading these posts) and I hope that you are encouraged to make your own goals for the year.  I feel spurred on to make more of an effort towards achieving my goals when I tell others about what I'm doing.

Our family has gone through so many changes the last couple of years; I never would have imagined being where we are. God has been teaching me more and more how trustworthy He is and that I need to fully depend on Him.  He is faithful and just, and cares about us so deeply.  I want my 2016 to be glorifying to Him, to be yielded to His plans and not my own.

Over the past several months, I have read several personal development books because I believe in always improving and working to learn new skills.  I've learned some things about myself, my work habits and attitudes that I never really understood previously.  For a long time, I have felt stifled and stuck in a box in my jobs and have had dreams and ideas of becoming an entrepreneur but I could not quite pin down my best idea, so I kept working my jobs.  I've been doing some brainstorming lately and reading a ton and I feel like I have narrowed it down but it's not ready to be shared just yet.

So, my first goal for 2016 is....Start a small business.   Do much more reading and research on the subject.  Test out some ideas on friends and family.  Drive down to a more specific niche and market.  Meet set financial goals for business.

Second goal....Read two non-fiction books per month, one of which should be either a biography or about a time in history.  This is not an ambitious goal for most of you, but I need to start somewhere.  I don't tend to make reading a priority, mostly because of the normally-crazy pace that we keep with careers and running after three kids.  I feel this goal is attainable and I don't want to set a crazy high bar for myself that I know I won't meet.

Third goal...Pay off last debt in Baby Step 2, our minivan.  We have been on this journey of paying off our debt since 2009, way longer than I thought it would be, but we have made a lot of progress with varying incomes over the years and this is our last one finally!

Fourth goal...Spiritual growth in discipline.  This one is not as measurable, obviously, but I have been praying over and working on my discipline for the past few months.  More specifically, with food choices and money spent on bad food choices.  Mostly fast food and eating out with my family.  Since I have been at home for the past three weeks, I have had a few temptations of impulse but have not given in!! That alone is a victory in itself.  Because I know that we won't be going out to eat much this year, I've allowed myself to buy treats at the grocery store that I never bought before.  I feel like it's still a better option to buy some less-than-superfood food from the store in lieu of fast food any day.

That's it for now.  I feel pretty good about these goals.  They're measurable, short-term, and attainable, yet still challenging, so I could use some accountability here, friends!  Please share your goals with me, too!

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Twas the week before Christmas and I started blogging again

It has been just over a year since my last blog post.  I've missed writing and sharing in this way.  Since I changed jobs last year, I have not had enough time to dedicate to writing every week.  Well, a little over a week ago, that changed.  I am no longer working at the law firm and am focusing on spending extra time with my family right now.  I have some things in the works but am not ready to share just yet.  I might be reaching out to some of you to gather some input at a future date, so stay tuned.

Today, we had Christmas at my aunt's house. It was a good day to hang out with family while the kids around together, being crazy.






The weather has been so mild this winter so far - we're supposed to get into the 50s on Christmas, which is unheard of in Illinois, but I will take it!


The kids are on Christmas break for the next two weeks and I'm hoping to make this time meaningful since we don't get this type of uninterrupted, unplanned chunk of time together.  So, here's the beginning of a list I'm putting together of the things we're planning to do:

1. Have a couple play dates with some friends we haven't seen in a while
2. Read at least two books together every day, including at least one that Jo can read to me.
3. Have free play time
4. Do a couple of science experiments using the kit and the book that Benji received/will be receiving for Christmas this year
5. Visit the Joliet Area Historical Museum
6. Send Benji and hubs off on a father-son day when he's home from work
7. Play a family board game
8. Play dress-up as a family
9. Play Uno
10. Do some art projects (Jo's new favorite activity)

And obviously, I have some organizing projects in mind during my down time when the kids are playing by themselves.

We've been reading the advent book every night before bed.  The advent book is a really cool hardcover book in which each page has a door and a small snippet of the Christmas story, when Jesus was born.  So each night in December, leading up to Christmas, we get to open the next door and on Christmas eve, we get to read the whole story.  The kids love opening the doors and the boys are taking turns reading the pages this year.  It's a lot of fun and helps them memorize the story and even some scripture.

I have always wanted to start some new traditions with my family during Christmas and the advent book was our first one.  I'd love to hear what you do with your family every year to help get some new ideas!

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