Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Putting love into action

My time with my family is coming to an end and it has been a rewarding trip which I am thankful for. Well as I stated before, my Grandpa Cook died on October 12th early in the morning. Goober and I got on the airplane that morning to come for my dad and his family. I will admit that I was not planning to come because I wasn't really close to him. But after talking with Cyrus, my hubbie, who is very close to his grandparents, I decided to take the trip. I dedicated the trip to be there for all my relatives.
The first week was so busy spending time with my dad's side of the family. All the brothers were there except one. That doesn't happen often. My dad's side of the family are private people so there was no service for my grandpa except for a dinner with all relatives that could come to share stories about him. It was comforting as my huge family crowded together in my mom and dad's house telling stories from different points of view about grandpa. I even got to see my dad cry a little bit for the first time. It was a blessing for me to be there for my dad's family.
Every Thursday, my mom goes over to her parents house to take my grandma who is suffering from dementia out to coffee. My grandma always looks forward to it and it gives grandpa mcnabb time away from everything. But this time, grandma had a surprise because we decided to keep from her that goober and I were in town. Grandma and grandpa were so happy to see us. I even got greeted the following Thursday with a hug from grandpa who is not a hugger. Mom and I were intentional to stay over longer so that they could see goober more. It was so rewarding to be able to spend intentional time with them to bless them.
I also made the initiative to try to spend time with my cousins who have kids the same age as goober. The thing though about these cousins was that I never tried to get to know them when I was younger because I always thought they thought they were better than me. Now as an adult I know I was wrong and wanted to make it right. In result I got to spend time with one of them twice and it was such a blessing to have some conversations with her to get to know her more.

See the point is when I got out to visit my family I don't make it about them but all about me. I am so thankful that God has been working on my heart and having me listen to what He wants me to do to love others instead of fighting Him with what I want to do.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Flying with a Little One

This past Monday, early in the morning, my fifteen month old little one and I got on an airplane to go see my family. My Grandpa Cook died and we were coming to support my dad and his family (more about that later). The last time I flew with my little one was when she was four months old. There were hard things with that but this time was a little harder. Here some tips from what I learned when flying with a little one:

1) Pack the essentials only
I had a backpack carrier, diaper bag, purse, my personal bag, and the car seat to carry. Yes that sounds crazy and yes I am not doing it again. I determined to carry what is only important which means sharing getting rid of my purse and personal bag and combine it with her diaper. The carrier is heavy but having three bags especially one of them with small straps really hurt my shoulders more. So when we go back home I am only carrying her diaper bag, the car seat, and the carrier.

2) Don't reject anyone who wants to help you
I was unbelievably thankful for all the nice people that helped me! It was tempting at first to be prideful and I say I got it but I would be lying. Being prideful is not worth the pain and frustration you can have trying to do it all on your own. Maybe that's just me.

3) Chew chew chew
When my little one was four months, her ears did not brother her when we ascended and descended on the plane. But I felt like it would be different this time. I know as an adult I know that chewing gum and yawning helps me but my fifteen month old wouldn't get that. But she still had to keep her jaw moving. So I had some cereal and always had some sort of drink every time we ascended and descended. It really worked. She actually whimpered and tugged at her ear and I gave her some cereal  and she stopped.

4) Having a car seat
Besides needing it here while visiting my family, I am so glad that I had a car seat. It made it clear to my little one we were traveling where she accepted that she was in her car seat. There was another lady with a little one and did not have a car seat and it really seemed like a struggle for her. Yes, she did have two others with her but it would seem to be easier if at least one of them was in a car seat so she could have focused on the other two. Also make sure your car seat is FAA approved because one of the flight attendants questioned if it was. I freaked out because I assumed it was since it was new that it was ok. Another thing I did not know about or even thought about was assigning my little one a window seat. The flight attendant told us we had to move to the window seat because of regulations. So both times I had to switch with the other passenger. I am glad neither of them were grumpy about it.

5) What to pack in the diaper bag
My little one is very low key where she didn't play too much with most of the toys I packed for her. So on the way home, I am going to pack less toys along with a few diapers, wipes, a snack or two, her cup, an outfit (which I actually had to use), my wallet, and my ipad. I am excited to see how it will go for us next time.

It was an exhausting trip but I have to say that God gave extra grace those times I wanted to cry. For example, every time I needed help someone asked, because my little one was so good we got a free box of snacks, and my little one slept for almost the entire four hour and fifty minute flight. God was good.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life - love = useless

First of all before I get started I am sorry to say that I had to end the Living well spending zero challenge because of unforeseen circumstances but God has still given me a lot to write about. I am excited to share what that is.

Last weekend I went to my church's ladies retreat, and it was a blessing to be around women who were real about who they were but gave God the glory. I really got to know some ladies I saw around church but never thought to talk to. The ladies retreat team even gave us a game of 26 questions to help us to approach all the ladies in order to get to know them. I was able to get to talk to every lady there. It was alot of fun. Very good idea.

The topic was 1 Corinthians 13. I will admit I think 1 Corinthians 13 is kinda cliche but of course I was wrong to jump to the conclusion that God cannot still teach me something from that chapter. And He did just that.

The second session was the one that made the most impact on me. She went over the first three verses. To sum it up would be: life-love=nothing. Starting at verses two, she went over six things that we do can do as Christians stating if we don't have love in anything it is all useless. The one that caught my attention was the gift of prophecy which she stated as speaking truth. It really got me thinking, "Do I speak in love when I speak God's truth?". To be more specific, "Do I speak in love concerning politics online?" or "Do I speak in love when I write on my blog?". Or am I self centered or self glorified? It really got me thinking because I really think I make it all about me and what others think. I have always struggled with this and truly want to be better.

I was so thankful for my weekend away at the retreat but what I didn't realize was that God was going to have me apply showing love sooner than I expected.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Day 9 #31daysLWSZ- cleaning the house

We are now starting the second phase of our challenge which is cleaning your house. To start out we had to get rid of the clutter to get ready for the big cleaning. I was so motivated that my house looks pretty good and not cluttered. I filled my laundry basket full. It was a very successful and motivating day.

Here is some cleaning tips that has always helped me and keep me motivated:
1) Play some music or a podcast
    Some of my favorites is listening to old school 
    Christian music on You Tube
    I also like to listen to Lecrae also on You Tube
    Here is also some of my favorite podcasts

2) Start with one room and gather things up and
    put it in one pile- stick to the room until done (that's hard for me but its works)
    I do really like Ruth's idea of carrying a laundry basket too and filling it up

3) If you have stairs to climb, leave things at the bottom of the stairs so that when you go upstairs you can take them with you instead of going up and down the stairs. (Maybe that's just me because once I start cleaning I can get sporadic and leave a room to go and start another even if the other room is not done lol)

4) Its ok to have a junk drawer
    for those random odds and ends : )

5) Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but sometimes I take a 20 min break and watch a 20 min show on Netflix to remotivate myself.
    like today, I took a 20 min break and watched 30 Rock and then got right back to cleaning again

These are only a few ideas that helped me out today for a simple clutter clean up task like yesterday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 8 #31dayLWSZ- Reflection

I am going to answer some questions Ruth challenged us to answer for the challenge.

What was the SCARIEST part of starting this challenge?
I was afraid that I was not going to have enough food. Yes I did go shopping for some food on the first day but it was really just two types of meat, some produce, and the basic essentials.

What is the ONE thing you are most excited to get out of this challenge?
How to become more creative with meal preparing and how I use my time.

What has been the BIGGEST struggle this week?
My pride. I went into it thinking that I was ahead of everyone else since my hubbie and I already have a strict budget as it is, but I realize that there are things that I still need to work out concerning things with being a mom who lives well and spends less : )

Where were you most tempted (or where did you) CHEAT?
I was tempted to go out and just find a snack through a Burger King drive through but didn't go. I also have to say that my in-laws have spoiled us a lot because I have eaten out and gotten ice cream without playing a cent : )  

What are you MOST worried about looking forward?
Honestly, I am not sure. Maybe that I don't learn anything : (

Did you have any "AHA" moments?

What has been the MOST surprising thing about not spending this week?
I don't think there was anything. Just glad I am doing the challenge.

Day 7 #31dayLWSZ- Proverbs 31 Woman

The challenge was freezer meals...lets just say I am not a freezer meal gal. Most of the time, mine have not turned out well. To be honest, I am just plain lazy. I just haven't had much luck with them and for something I am not very excited about, I just don't feel like doing it. It kinda makes me feel guilty because I have always desired to be that wife and mom that comes up with ways to be more resourceful and save some money. I want to start a garden with the .65 acre of land we just recently bought. I want to be able to write to earn money. I want to make meals that my husband would be excited about eating. All of this makes me think of the Proverbs 31 woman.

This challenge has really made me think about her (the Proverbs 31 woman) and what that means to me. There are some days where I am just so lazy and wish that I had more motivation to do something productive. I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. Is this desire based off of her? Or is it being a product of today's society of constantly always having to being doing something or looking at something? What would the Proverbs 31 women look like today? What about grace in all this? Am I expecting perfection or do I need to step it up? Is there more that I can be doing or is God going to show me in His timing and I just need to be still? Yeah lol I am thinking about all of this just from freezer meals : ) I have always been a person who wants to please. How much pleasing does the Proverbs 31 woman do? Does it come naturally because of her character? I know Ruth is not saying we have to do this and if we don't, we are bad. This is just something that I am thinking about and freezer meals got me there.

I believe I just added another goal to this month: to understand the role of the Proverbs 31 woman and what that means to me right now during this 31 days and as a wife and as a mom. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 6 #31daysLWSZ- Hungry Girl

Day five was a very simple day. Eating out is probably one of the hardest thing when it comes to this challenge or even just being on a budget. It is one of the first things that seem to go.
Ruth challenged us to eat out at home and gave us many recipes for food from various restaurants. My hubbie and I don't really don't do that too much. It got me thinking of what food I actually miss from restaurants that I like. My mind went straight to Hungry Girl. It is an amazing website that gives you healthier alternatives. She has a email that she sends out what feels like everyday. The details of the emails range from what things or meals to avoid at restaurants to new items you should get at the store.
My all time favorite copycat recipe is her orange chicken. Amazing. Instead of frying the chicken after you bread it, you put it in the oven which actually does taste good. The sauce is common Asian ingredients like soy sauce and rice vinegar with orange marmalade. Kinda cool. 
Another recipe I like from her is her spoonable BLT. It is such a simple meal with common ingredients you most likely have in your house. It is exactly what it sounds like. You put turkey bacon (Hungry Girl alternative) for the B, spinach for L, and the tomato soup is the T. She puts diced tomatoes in there, but I am not a fan of that. You then top it off with croutons for the bread. Very simple but very good.

The Hungry Girl website also has breakfast in a mug recipes ranging from your basic omelet to a deconstructed sausage mcmuffin.
Hungry Girl is a very resourceful website. You should check it out! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 5 #31daysLWSZ- Meal Swap

Yesterday's challenge was something I was not expecting at all but became more and more excited as I learned more about it. Since it was Sunday, we had our periscope meeting at three instead of ten thirty. This just made me so happy that this challenge was led by someone who was Christian that attended church. Before the meeting I read up on our email and found our challenge was meal swapping. I never heard of it before but the basic idea is that you and one or more people get together make some meals and swap them between themselves. Ruth told us at our periscope meeting that it was a time to get together and have fun but also save money on gaining other meals from your friends all the while blessing them too. So for example, if I go over to my friend's house and she invites two other people. That is three meals I get to take home. Kinda cool.

So after periscoping, I went on Facebook and asked four of my friends that I think might want to try this. I found out that one of them already sort of does this every August with her friend and was unable to do it this year. One person. Check. Then I thought of another girl who is going to have her first baby next month and thought she would love to have some meals. She is a maybe! : ) It then made me think of another mom who is also going to have her second little one in November also. It really got me thinking of how the church could do this for pregnant women in their church. A fun time of fellowship while blessing a mom to be. Just a thought : )

Yesterday I also used a can of crab soup that I really never ever thought I would use but I found good use for it. I just added more crab, some milk, and some cornstarch to thicken it up. I then put this sauce on top of noodles and top it off with breadcrumbs and cheese. It was not bad. Kinda salty but thinking next time I could add corn or even put it on toast. I think I will do that today.
I am very happy with this day. I learned a lot but also got me thinking about other people in the process. Kinda like being a Proverbs 31 woman : )    

Day 3 #31daysLWSZ- Blessings and my pantry

Well yesterday was a very good day despite missing the periscope message in the morning. I was able to go out with my mother in law fully wanting to surprise her and pay for the new place I found. She has spoiled my little one and I the past 2 weeks buying us things and taking us out since I had to drive her to her eye appointment since she had her cataracts surgery done. So like I said I wanted to tell her I appreciate her spoiling us. I know that I am not suppose to go out to eat for this month but my mother in law and I planned this a week ago and plus Cyrus and I budget it in our envelopes. Well when we got there, I told her I would pay for it and she said no because she wanted to take us somewhere nice. I told her she did that the past few weeks and we budgeted for it. She still said no. I mean I really wanted to do this but instead she blessed Cyrus and I for being so good with our budgeting. So I got spoiled once again and have not spend anything yet.
Along with the periscope message, I also get an email. My challenge was to go through my pantry and see what we had and organize it. I was excited because I only wrote down what I had but did not organize it. While I was organizing it, I found some cornbread which I did not know I had. I was very excited about that too. Now I cant wait to see what I am going to come up with with all this stuff we now have. That is where the challenge will begin.

Day 4 #31daysLWSZ- humble pie

Wow yesterday was so exhausting and humbling! I was gone all day with my in laws, my hubbie and little one and only got little done on the challenge. The challenge was to come up with a meal plan using only what I had in my pantry and fridge. So before I went out, just as Ruth said, I came up with several meals that I like. I then went after my list of my pantry/fridge and lo and behold I could not find it on my iPad. I looked everywhere and could not find it. Very frustrating especially since I was ahead but now was behind. After I put my little one to bed and took a shower and got into my pjs, I gathered up all the motivation I could to re write my pantry and fridge again. I did it! 

Now I had to come up with a meal plan. I have to say I have never put together a whole month of meals before, and looking at my list, it was kinda defeating. But I kept pressing on. I was so eager to look for recipes with sausage since I found out we had more than I thought. I was also anticipating to use a lot of ground meat since I got a good deal on that. I have found some new recipes that I am excited to try. I am going to share two of them right now. 

First the egg roll in a bowl


After humbly rewriting what I had in my pantry and fridge and writing out my meal plan, I feel little more confident then I did two hours ago. Yay! Let's bring it on!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2 #31daysLWSZ Challenge

Yesterday I joined some of the Living Well Spending Zero "runners" to gather together on periscope ready to see what Ruth Soukup had to say for our first day. She answered a lot of questions that were streaming up on the screen, pumping up the ones who were uneasy and uncertain about what they were getting into. I was ready to see what our first step was. I will admit it was all introductory and where I found out I was one step ahead of everyone already knowing what was in my pantry. Ruth then told us that we needed to decide what we had to spend on with the basic essentials. That made me see that being on the envelope system made Cyrus and I one step ahead of everyone else. Everyone seemed to have little direction or fretting about the coffee they were going to miss. Don't get me wrong there is still stuff that I need to learn. I can't wait to see the ways I can get creative as she says you will have to. So I decided to step forward and spend what we decided on with our grocery budget. The only difference would be that I wanted to only spend half of what we normally would spend and not spend on anymore the rest of the month. Normally I go shopping twice a month but not this time because I want to depend on what I have in the house. That is what I am excited to see what I learn about. So we went shopping and found some good deals. My hubbie even contributed and made dinner. So let's see what Ruth will say this morning. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My goals for the Living Well Spending Zero challenge

Cyrus and I have been participating in Dave Ramsey's baby steps since May. We have been using the envelope system which personally for me has made budgeting tens times easier. I know what I have and I stick to it. Then this Living Well Spending Zero for 31 days challenge by Ruth Soukup, founder of her blog Living Well Spending Less, came up on Facebook newsfeed. The challenge is set up for people to see their ability to live on what they have at home and only buy the essentials. I felt like this was something to try to maybe help me out with ways to be more wise with my grocery budget. So I am excited to see what happens.
So for 31 days I am going to write about my journey through this experience. 
For my first post, I would like to write my goals or things I desire to learn these next 31 days
1) I want to learn how to use what I have at home for food to make simple meals.
2) recipes recipes recipes- it always nice to get new ones.
3) to write on my blog everyday for 31 days. 
4) instead of focusing on money, focus bettering myself by reading more, projects around the house
That's it for now. Maybe I will add more during the month when more is known.
So here I go.
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