Lent (not lint)

Happy Sunday!  I can’t believe how fast the weekend goes!  I also can’t believe how fast the year goes!  It seems like it was just January 1.  We are quickly approaching the Lenten season, and you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about.  I grew up in a Methodist church and do no really remember learning a great deal about the church year.  Since switching over and being confirmed in the Episcopal denomination in my late 20s, I’ve learned a lot!  Now, I think of it as time to prepare for Easter which is sort-of similar to Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas.  Here’s the Episcopal Church’s definition…

Early Christians observed “a season of penitence and fasting” in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning “spring,” the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).  

I have many a false start with Lent.  There was the no-chocolate year that fell by the wayside with a Valentine’s Day gift extravaganza from my students.  Then, there was the season of no-social media which I did last longer with.  I have yet to make it to an Ash Wednesday service or even the “ashes-to-go” option.  Well, no more!  I’m making a commitment to Lent 2018.  I really want to give Lent/Easter the same focus that I tend to easily give Advent/Christmas.  Here’s my Lent plan!

  1. Give up dessert. – Now, this sounds like it might be too close to a New Year’s Resolution to be considered somehow connected to the observance of Lent.  HOWEVER, I tend to use my time in the evenings to bake.  I like desserts, and baking is something I do for fun and for stress-relief.  BUT I feel like eliminating desserts would allow for more time (and less excuse-making) in the evenings to read my Bible or some other inspiring book or perhaps journal.  Also, I would be turning to God and His word versus turning to a sack of flour.  Probably a better choice, don’t you think???  With Lent, Sundays are not factored in, so I’ll plan to enjoy a dessert on Sundays only.  I also counting cereal, toast with jelly, etc. as dessert.  The only exception is fruit for Monday through Saturday.  I am very hopeful that this will open up more time and opportunities for a strong friendship with Him. ***The teacher in me is going to make a sticker chart and give myself a fun sticker for each day completed.  🙂 ***
  2. Daily devotional time – I’m sometimes pretty good about this, but it is definitely not a daily habit.  I want to spend some time each day reading the Bible and writing in my journal.  When I write in my journal, I’m writing a letter to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.  I like to be very open, no fancy language, and casual – like I’m having a discussion with Him sitting right there beside me.  I check in with my other family members daily, so it only makes sense to check in with my Creator.  Holden and I have also been doing a little devotional geared for boys (probably more mid-upper elementary), and I hope to continue that as well.  I’m not making it part of my Lent plan since I’m trying to focus on myself for this.  We also do Resurrection Eggs as it gets closer to Easter, and those are fantastic!
  3. Do Lent:  Pray, Fast, Give with Holden and Helen – I printed this great idea out for Sunday school kids and also did one for my own kids.  Basically, you pull a strip a day for Lent and follow the directions on the strip.  Some of the “Pray” strips are specifically focused on prayers found in the Catholic Church.  However, you could just make up a few of your own or make up your own prayers when pulling one of those out.  Get the printable here!
  4. Ashes-To-Go – Unfortunately, my schedule is not going to allow an Ash Wednesday service.  However, it looks like we are going to make it to the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Party!  My son is WAY too excited about the list of possible toppings!  I told Holden about the whole idea of ashes and what it symbolizes, and our plan is to go get our ashes-to-go after school.  First-timers!

So that’s it!  I am making a commitment to make this a priority this year.  Prayers appreciated for strength and fortitude to see it through!  I’m thinking it will be totally worth it.

Do you give up anything for Lent?

Did your family emphasize Lent when you were a kid?

Thanks for reading!

Natalie

Quitting and Contentment

Hi there!  Goodness, it has been a long time since I wrote anything on this little old blog (August 2017 to be exact!).  To say that I’ve been “up in the air” about many things is putting it mildly!  I’ve been asking myself do I switch to a new church (or not), switch career fields (or not), do I complete coursework to switch jobs within the field of education (or not), do I run a marathon (or not), etc., etc.

I hate to feel like I’m just bumping along without an goal.  I love to take action when I’ve identified a problem.  I also confess to wanting lots of human opinions either from loved ones or the infamous Google search.  These tendencies present a problem when I put ultimatums on myself and timelines and expectations.  Then, the fixing of one “problem” results in lots of internal problems for me.

I guess you could say that my motto for 2018 is just quit. We are only 18 days in, and I’ve already doing a pretty good job.

  1.  Registered for Yuengling Shamrock Marathon – I switched over to the 8K.
  2. Registered, Paid, and Began classes at Old Dominion and Tidewater Community College – I dropped those classes after the first week.  Sadly, this was after I put about 7 hours work into them.
  3. Tentatively planned two vacations – I abandoned both ideas as one was too far of a car ride for our car-challenged children and the other was not the Mr.’s idea of a vacation.  I do see his point as it was a trip to the beach, and we LIVE in Virginia Beach.  😉
  4. Heck, I was already ahead of myself and gave up on this blog back in August!

I think quitting can have such negativity associated with it.  However, I know as a teacher I go over with students when to abandon a book.  How often do we as adults take inventory of our lives (friends, family, profession, spirituality, hobbies) and decide what really needs to be abandoned?  Is there a friend who really isn’t a friend and has become a drain on your emotions?  Is there a family member who requires a little more distance from your everyday thoughts and your heat?  Perhaps, you need to change your job in some way or maybe an attitude/way you do thing adjustment is necessary.  Are you stagnant spiritually?  When’s the last time you truly felt your soul was evolving even in some small way?  Hobbies?  Do you have none or quite too many?  Are you really doing something that is special to you?

It’s no secret that I love to purge/organize/drop-off at the thrift store.  I love the feeling that you have after really clearing out some space in a home.  It feels like I can breathe easier and see with so much more clarity what remains.  I think it’s easier to identify where “clutter” is when it’s tangible and has a sort-of “in your face”-ness to it.

I believe that 2018 for me will be a year of changes but also (*hopefully*) a year of contentment.  I’m quite tired of striving.  There’s that saying – “There’s always room for improvement.”  I do love a good self-help book and the sense of accomplishment from meeting a goal.  I’ve done a lot of that.  I think really for me to grow as a person it might…just maybe…be more important for me to let contentment grow this year.

Can I just be content with my personality?  my skills?  my weaknesses?  my accomplishments?  my failures?  I feels like the quest for the Holy Grail!  I guess I’ll have to find my best Indiana Jones’ hat and try!

Do you set resolutions or goals only in January?  or maybe not at all?

Have a great day and year!  🙂

Compromise in Life and Eats

Hi there!  These August days sure are finding me busy!  We’ve been doing lots of shopping (clothes, supplies, even Halloween costume requests are being made!), doing doctor’s appointments for the dog boy and the non-furry boy, and just trying to prepare ourselves for the upcoming back-to-school routine.  Whew!

I have been thinking about how lots of things will have to be “okay” once I’m back to work.  Like lots of dirty clothes piling up during the week, less time for journaling/reading, shorter walks for Roscoe the dog, and more errands/chores on the weekend.  I am always amazed how much I can accomplish at work in one day.  I sometimes feel like I’m stuck in quicksand when I’m at home.  Example…dishes in the sink for the 9,124 time today!  Compromise is a good thing, I know.  We can’t all have our way all the time.  It’s a good lesson for me to be happy and content with “good enough.”  Then, there are things that you (or maybe it’s just me) can’t really compromise with.  In no particular order, I think it might be exercise, cooking healthy foods just about nightly, time for me to read my Bible and journal, and being able to go outside *hopefully* once a day.  So there!  I’m not compromising on those things.  I clearly don’t mind dirty dishes, clothes, or floors.  Also, I would like to not compromise on having my husband home for dinner by exactly 5:30 each and every night, but this one has been taken out of my hands!  🙂

Speaking of compromise…I think I’ve managed to label myself at least where a diet is concerned.  I’m a flexitarian!  Basically, this means that I’m mostly vegetarian/vegan.  Say what?!  Well, I currently don’t eat beef but do eat venison.  I don’t eat chicken.  I think it’s gross in general.  However, I will probably eat a smidge of chicken salad if given limited other choices.  I won’t eat it at home since I can control my other options.  I have eaten fish recently but didn’t really enjoy it.  So…this may be on the way out as well.  I don’t really like dairy.  Ice cream has no allure for me.  YET I do love a bowl of fro-yo!  I made the switch to almond milk and cheese when I was breastfeeding and kind of continued it.  HOWEVER, I will most definitely eat a slice of pizza with real cheese if I’m at a yummy pizza place.  This diet has been called the lazy vegetarian/vegan, but I think it’s just what will work for me!  P.S.  My husband and kids still eat meat and dairy sometimes.  🙂

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Picture from last summer (2016) 

What are your thoughts on being a vegan/vegetarian??

Natalie

Mountain Trip 2017

Whew!  We had a quite a fun-filled trip to the mountains of Virginia.  We have several family members who are in the Staunton area, so a long summer trip has been on my agenda for some time.  The kids and I were able to go a few days before the Mr.  We enjoyed staying with “Granny” and spending lots of time with Auntie Brookie plus other family favorites.  ❤

Our first excursion took us to the Explore More Discovery Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  I thought this was fun and very appealing especially to younger kids.  Both kids had a ball, but I think some of the stuff was a tad babyish for Holden.

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Our group had a delicious lunch at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza.  Everything was delicious, and the service was great!  Holden and Helen also took their first pony ride that afternoon.  Both kids loved it!

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Our second day of exploring led us to Chiles Orchard.  Peach picking was very easy there.  Although I wish there had been a little more explanation about how to pick the best ones.  My head picker selected a few duds.  This was very fun though.  The peaches were great in a fruit crisp.

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I was so glad that Auntie Brookie decided to take off a few days from work and hang with us.  We had play time and a picnic at Mint Spring after our picking was complete.  This place was just in a beautiful setting.  I do love an ocean view, but these mountains were so lovely too.

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This is when Daddy joined us.  We were very happy to see him at our meet-up location, Monticello!

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I have to confess that we were a mess on this tour.  Little Miss is in the process of *trying* to drop her AM nap meaning we will be down to just a PM nap.  HOWEVER, she was particularly tired and very vocal about it during the house tour.  Perhaps this is why this wasn’t my most favorite historical stop.

We had lunch at Michie Tavern afterwards.  I have mixed feelings about it as it isn’t necessarily my favorite type of food, but I can’t say it wasn’t good food either.  I don’t think Holden was too taken away by the historic setting or the period clothing of the servers.  He would have been just as happy somewhere else!  But…there was an Armory & Artifacts Shop very nearby that he loved.  We’re talking old money, cannonballs, weapons, etc.  This was definitely a favorite of his!

I have no pictures of the boys’ trip to the county fair for a night event, but you can imagine I guess.  Demolition derby.  Need I say more???  Holden loved this!

Although I believe everyone was feeling the car woes (particularly Helen!  Girl hates the car 100%), we continued on with our last big excursion to Sherando Lake.  I’m so glad we did!  We did the short hike around the lake (lower one) and loved the views and easy terrain for little feet.

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There was little island in the lake that the Mr. and I swam to.  Gosh, I forget how even though you can be physically fit in one way you can be completely out-of-shape in another!  We were huffing and puffing on that little five minute or so swim!

We all summoned up our last bit of energy to see the sights at the county fair.  We saw tractors, all sorts of animals, and rides there!  Holden rode the Ferris wheel for the first time.

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He’s getting too big!

Our final day was spent in and around Staunton, Virginia.  We went to the local farmers’ market, played at the park, visited with family, and enjoyed yummy “zoodles” for the first time!  It was a very full and very fun week!  So thankful to have this time to spend with our loved ones!  We made lots of special memories and look forward to our next trip.

Natalie

 

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August Goals

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Hi there!  Can you believe it’s August 1???  Summer always goes so quickly, but I think it went especially quickly this year.  Maybe I’m just comparing it to my previous summer when I was on maternity leave from mid-April to the end of the school year and THEN had summer break too!

I love having some goals/checklists going on to help me focus my time and energy AND ensure I get things done to have plenty of time to slow down as well.  I know I will miss all my extra, small moments with the kids once we are back in school mode (p.s. I’m a teacher so school mode affects us all).  Without further delays, here are some things I need/want to tackle in August.

Home Stuff:

  • Finish washing windows
  • Order prints to add to our family photo albums
  • Sell baby monitor and pump (or donate)
  • Clean house thoroughly including a floor mopping
  • Research (and hopefully return) returning deck pickets that were ordered online
  • Decorate with a “Back to School” theme

Me Stuff:

  • Schedule hair cut
  • Put on new windshield wipers
  • Schedule car inspection
  • Review documents that I brought home at the end of the school year
  • Create goal charts for students
  • Vacuum car
  • Make decisions about upcoming commitments (3)
  • Spend time praying, reading the Bible, and writing daily
  • Blog as much as possible
  • Go on a date with my love
  • Read as many books as possible 🙂
  • Get a birthday present for my brother

Kid Stuff:

  • Pick up H’s recent immunization record and copy of his recent physical
  • Purchase H’s school supplies
  • Purchase H’s new soccer equipment
  • Buy fall event tickets (2)
  • Take H on a Mommy & Son date again
  • Sort/donate some old toys

Attitude:  It is my hope, prayer, and intention to cherish this next month.  I am committed to not following the cycle of worry, fear, and fatigue.  If I insist on doing things my way, I can expect to feel anxious.  I’m trying to rely on myself versus relying on my Savior.

Natalie

5 for Friday

Hi there!  Let’s jump right in with five things I’m loving this week!  I’m linking up with these ladies…AndreaNarci and Erika for their Friday Favorites Link Up!  I am also linking up with April for Five on Friday!

{ONE}

I’m loving that my son is loving soccer camp!  It’s been a day camp from 9-12 each day this week.  He’s enjoyed meeting new kids plus the fun games they play.  He does comment at pick-up that it’s so much fun and so much running.  I’ve also been loving a little extra one-on-one time with this girl!

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{TWO}

I’ve been loving green smoothies for a mid-morning snack this week!  Here’s my recipe:

1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. no sugar added vanilla almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana and a handful of frozen spinach.  I’ve also added in a fiber supplement plus probiotics.  Yum!

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{THREE}

I was extremely cautious while pregnant and breastfeeding about what food I ate, medicines I took, and personal care products I used.  It’s been nice to have a little more flexibility in that department since I weaned my daughter back in April.  I recently started using a Retin A product prescribed by my dermatologist and have seen a big improvement in some acne issues as well as skin smoothness.  I typically use it once nightly and apply a rose hip oil over top.  I love this stuff!  Here’s a link to Amazon to buy.  Here’s a link to an article written by LIVESTRONG.COM about the benefits of rose hip oil use.  

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{FOUR}

I have continued my on again/off again relationship with Wal-Mart.  Isn’t it just a necessary evil sometimes???  I do like the online ordering and curbside pick-up for busy weeks and big, specific orders.

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{FIVE}

I’m loving finalizing and preparing for our last few trips, special days, etc. this summer.  I  want to make the most of the month we have left!  Our plans include three family trips, lots more pool & library days, beach visits, and more!

I hope you have the best day!

Natalie

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday

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It’s  What’s Up Wednesday !

Mel, Sheaffer and Shay host this link up where they share some random and fun stuff that’s up today.

While trying to edit my post from today, I inadvertently deleted it!  I had shared about four recipes for make-ahead meals…

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Baked Chicken Fajitas

Black Bean Burgers

Cancer Fighting Soup

These recipes start off my “What’s Up Wednesday” post for what we are eating!

What am I reminiscing about?  THIS- – -Teeny H doing her first artwork!IMG_3521.jpg

We’ve been doing a little painting around here this summer.  Big H is so into it!  He did a great picture of his coach at soccer camp to take and share as part of his “homework.”  🙂

What I’m loving…

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Yes, my coffee picture needs to be that big.  I was on the decaf coffee boat all through my pregnancy and breastfeeding period.  It’s nice to have a real deal cup every morning.  I try to limit it to one.

I also have enjoyed using all the generous Starbucks gift cards that students have given me over the course of the past school year.  I finished my last one today with this for me and a fruit squeeze for H.

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What I’ve been up to…

Driving back and forth to soccer camp!  So I first had thought we would make the jump into summer camps next year.  H seemed a little young to me.  Although he would never admit it, I think he was getting kind of bored with Mommy and the little one.  He was apprehensive and pretty much downright reluctant when we first started talking about the decision to do it.  However, he has absolutely loved it!  He says it is so much fun and so much running.  🙂  IMG_5040.jpg

The picture above was on Monday (his first day out of 5).  He took right off for the fields!

What I’m dreading…

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Source

I’m dreading fall.  I know I’m probably one of few people to admit to this.  I was thrilled today when the temps were lower, but fall symbolizes a lot of work, responsibility, and just crazy busyness.

What am I working on…

I’m working on relaxing with my “to-do” lists {easier said than done!}.  I’m working on getting Miss H to say all the words.  Right now, she loves to say “no” in a seriously cute slightly nasal way.

Pretty soon I’m going to be working on back-to-work/school prep that includes all the school supply shopping plus organizing plus let’s go back to getting up at 6AM things.  P.S.    I still get up early.  Today was a 4:30 day!  🙂

What I’m excited about…

I’m excited to be doing a couple more family visits before our back to reality prep.  I’m also excited about recommitting to some things.  For me, resolutions and such go better and seem more natural in September versus January.  A new school year is a fresh start.

I’m also hoping to get some one-on-one time with my most favorite person…even if I have to hijack his schedule to do so!

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What I’m Listening/Reading…

I’ve been listening to TED talks when I have the chance as well as Bethel Music.

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Amazon 

This book was excellent!  A romance/sister book plus just a story about having faith.  I really liked it.

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Amazon

This one has some of the same characters in it but looks at a different aspect of the family story.  Liked this one as well!

As far as watching, I did watch some of the best clips from the movie Anchorman the other night.  So funny!

What I’m wearing…

Lots of gym clothes!  I do *try* to do regular shorts and a T-shirt sometimes.

What I’m doing this weekend…

Baby shower, pool {maybe beach}, cleaning, packing some stuff, cleaning windows, exercising, etc.  Playing with my kids, feeding them, picking up their stuff….the list goes on and on.  Basically all the things!  LOL!  I bet maybe half will get done.

What I’m looking forward to next month…

I’m looking forward to being back in a routine.  Kind-of.  Probably not.

What else is new…

This is not new, but it is odd.  I wax my car myself at least once a year.  Each time I do it I think about my grandfather nearly the whole time.  He was the master waxer, showed me the waxing ropes, and helped me do it on my car.

What do I love about summer…

Well, it is nice not having to rush off in the morning.  My most favorite thing though is having to put on less clothes to stay warm.  I’m cold pretty much every day all day when I’m at work.  It’s miserable, and I look silly wearing a heavy sweater in May.  I should also be noted that I stayed in my gym clothes from my early morning work-out all day yesterday.  🙂  I’m not sure if that is a positive or a negative.

 

Hope you have a great day!

Natalie

 

 

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