Blogging as it relates to life

I have a confession to make.  My name is Natalie, and I behave in a negligent manner towards a loved one.  I’m thoughtless and am unkind without remorse.  I demand that this person meet unattainable goals.  I wrongfully believe that this person can meet all the needs without requiring anything.  I tend to put this person down and tell her that she couldn’t possibly be successful at this, that or the other…

I am being mean to me.

Isn’t that just sad?!  Actually, it just makes me mad!  See the issue?  Who am I mad at?  Self-love is not my default…and I would even say self-like may be pushing the envelope.  How does this relate to blogging, this blog…you may ask?  Well, I just spent about thirty minutes rereading old blog posts and enjoying seeing what I’ve been up to since I started up this little project back in August 2012.  I love watching Holden (and us as parents) grow up over time.  I have felt a little sad that I discontinued it over the past few months.  I’ve also felt extremely overwhelmed and like I have no time for anything besides the basics.  Now, this feeling is partially just my personality, but I think I could make a pretty good list of why this feeling is valid (new baby, full-time work, busy family life, daycare craziness, average ups-and-downs of life, etc.).  I’ve pushed aside this outlet to make time and focus on other things.  Important things like feeding humans I love, talking to my extended family on the phone, paying attention to my curious and talkative 5 year old, carrying around a sweet baby who is very partial to her mama, and just general life stuff like tidying up tons of blocks and clean clothes that are piled on the sofa.

The thing is…I’m not sure what to do about it.  I keep telling myself that this is just a season of life!  I’ll have more time for me (hobbies, interests, friends, etc.)when <insert milestone life event here>.  Will I really though?  Will I have a good, long life to explore all the possibilities?  Am I being selfish?  unreasonable?

Things I do know:

  1. I love my children.
  2. I desperately want to follow God’s plan for my life {even though I must be too dense to get the picture sometimes!}.
  3. I am not bionic despite my sister’s ideas.

To conclude this rambling blog post, I’m unsure if I will continue to write in this Internet space.  And I guess it should be enough reason for me to keep doing it if I ENJOY IT (not considering how many “likes” or “hits” it gets.  HOWEVER, I just can’t bear to completely shut it down.  So Happy Friday!  Good grief, that was some heavy thinking!

Natalie

Thoughts on Thursday

Happy Thursday!  It’s been a pretty great week!  Little Miss H is smiling with more frequency and definitely giving up lots of half smiles.  Roscoe P. got his senior (yes, he’s now a senior but not getting any senior discounts at the vet!) wellness check.  The best thing I can say about that is that no one was harmed in his examination.  Also, the week has not been a total rain-out.  Who am I kidding?  Any four day week is probably a good one!

Sadly, I have to report some bad news.  Luvs diapers stink!  We are now the proud owners of an Amazon Prime membership.  I thought “Great!  Let’s order diapers!”  They are very noisy due to material, and they are scented.  I HATE scents!  The smell of baby powder (which is what they smell like) reminds me of a time that I used way too much baby powder as a child and nearly made myself ill!  Looks like I am off to Sam’s Club again for diapers!

Since I’m home on maternity leave (which is officially over in a week as Big H will be out of his M-F preschool), I have a bit more free time when the Little H naps.  I’ve been trying to return to my daily devotional time.  So far, I’m doing pretty good!  I think the best thing is to be flexible with when it actually happens.  This is also true for work-outs, but I digress.

I like to flip through my Bible and read random selections.  Now, I prefer the New Testament.  I mean, who doesn’t?  However, I try to show some love to the Old Testament sometimes.  I happened to flip to Ezekiel and read chapter 34.  It was talking about a bad shepherd v. a good shepherd.  It talked about how the good shepherd lovingly tends the sheep and does not rule with force or cruelty.  This passage reminded me of my children.  If I do not tend them, they become prey to any “animal” that comes along.  It also says that the good shepherd will give the best food, rest, and peace to his sheep.  Now, the good shepherd spoken of in this passage is God.  I realize that I can’t be the perfect parent/do everything for my children to make them have these perfect existences.  However, I do feel sure that God holds me responsible for my “flock.”  As I was telling Holden last night, I have to correct him and teach him how to behave.  I have to be an example of whatever I want him to do.  The Mr. and I are their first teachers, their first coaches (you should know how much sweat and tears have gone into H’s first soccer season), first confidant, first of many things.  It’s my job.  God gave me these two precious little people, and I only have them for a few years.  I’m so thankful for the job.  Even when Big H asks ten million questions in 2 minutes and Little H has been crying for an obscene amount of time about NOTHING, I am thankful for them.  It would be completely fine though for everyone to take a moment of silence every once in a while.  🙂

Ezekiel – Chapter 34

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

from Bible Gateway

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Cute little sheep, aren’t they?  I’m quite sure they smell better too.

Natalie

A Meal and A Lofty Craft Ambition

It seems as if my school days are more fast and furious each day!  Although I complain about it sometimes a lot, I do like being busy.  There is a fine line between completely overwhelmed and just putting in good work on a work day.  Teaching English/reading skills all day is good in a way as the skills and lessons can overlap somewhat being I’m working with third and fourth graders now.  It just cracks me up that NO YEAR is remotely the same as the last, and I laugh at the thought of being able to reuse/recycle lesson plans!  So not happening!

Today’s chillier temps and a busy day meant it was a soup and bread kind of dinner for us.  My favorite soup recipe is this…

-1 pkg frozen mixed veggies

-1 medium onion, chopped

-1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

-2 cans navy beans, rinsed and drained

-2 tbsp.-ish of olive oil

-salt & pepper

-2 bay leaves

  1. Soften chopped onions in olive oil in large stock pot for approximately ten minutes over medium/high heat.  Be careful not to burn.  I do this often!
  2. Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil and let boil for about five minutes.
  3. Reduce heat or turn off completely with lid on for about 15-20 minutes or whatever!
  4. Server with warm bread and butter (preferable that you let someone else bake for you!  Thanks Kroger!)

Ta-da!  Everyone LOVED it!  H especially liked dipping his bread in his soup.  I am reminded at every meal how thankful I am that H is a super good eater.  This recipe gave us dinner and three containers of left-overs for lunches.  Enjoy!  🙂

Now, my craft isn’t that easy!  I’ve always admired these peace sign wreaths…especially at Christmas time.  I would love to have one and discovered one to buy.  However, it was sadly more than ten bucks (like 5 times that much!), and I’m cheap.  Here’s the one at CB2!

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Then, there’s this DIY one…

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It doesn’t look super complicated.  I think the most challenging part may be gathering up the twigs!  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I can wander around my parents house and find some that would work.  Hmmm…DIY is not my thing.  What should I do?  Buy, make or just admire via the internet?  🙂

Speaking of other Pinteresty wants – Look at this neat one!  It’s a fingerprint sweethearts necklace.  I LOVE personalized jewelry that is super meaningful.  What could be more personal than something as unique as a fingerprint of your love?!?

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More cute jewelry!  I love all these cross bracelets!  Unfortunately, the one I like the best {the white one} is sold out right now.

Could this post be anymore random???  Yes, it could.  I know when I’m not feeling my best or when things are challenging at work the people (and doggie) at home get the rest of me, sometimes not the best of me.  I saw this good reminder recently and thought I would share.

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Click here to get the free printable!

It can be hard to remember in the craziness and demands of the day, but I know ultimately that my husband, my child, my family have to be my priority over students, fulfilling roles outside these walls, etc.  Each day is another chance and another challenge.  Hopefully, this list inspires you like it inspires me.

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September Randoms + Paper Planner Talk

Hi there!  Another week since I’ve said hello here!  The work week is serious stuff!  I’m so glad it’s hump day as we have lots of fun weekend plans that we’re looking forward to.  Last weekend consisted of yoga class, bike rides, church and plus a lovely pick-up response from Holden which included thrashing about in mulch {apparently, he REALLY likes his buds at his new preschool and doesn’t want to go home with Mommy}.  We’ve made some improvements in that area, and I actually got a hug yesterday!  I did cheat slightly and pick him up during snack versus the outside recess time.  Here are a few randoms from my phone…

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How did he get so big?!?!

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Random weekday breakfasts for H and I – The top picture is a mixture of plain yogurt, grapes, and Kashi’s Heart to Heart cereal.

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My Constitution Day twin!  We didn’t plan to show up in our matching Target tops.  🙂

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Online dress shopping for my sister’s wedding – Everything looks good on those models!

September is the time I get all our holiday plans straight pretty much through the New Year.  I confess to having commitment phobia when it comes to my choice of planner.  In recent years, I’ve tried the Lilly Pulitzer planner

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the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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the MomAgenda Day Planner

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and I’ve even been using the cheap plastic one given to me by my school in recent weeks!  With the Lilly, I felt like I was being a fake-preppy as I’m not super preppy at all!  I did love the amply room to write in stuff on each day plus the monthly overview.  I like the Simplified Planner, but honestly, I don’t need each day broken down by hour with room to write.  It is also pricey.  The MomAgenda just was okay.  I’ve actually been making out okay with the cheap plastic one from work by color-coding work and home events.  However, it’s starting to look visually messy as things fill in and our days/weekends fill up.  I’ve never tried the Erin Condren LifePlanner.  They are beautiful but quite expensive.

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What is your favorite type/brand of planner?  I just like a paper product for list-making etc!  I think I’m going with the Lilly Pulitzer this year unless I find something better when I stop in Barnes and Nobles this weekend.  I guess I’ll be faking the preppy look with my planner!  Have a great day!

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DIY: How to Stay Chill When Life Gets Tricky

Hi there!  This post is dedicated to my previous behaviors that were SO not chill.  I am admittedly a worry-wart, pessimist, negative Nelly, and generally “the sky is falling!” gal.  Over the course of the past month, I’ve been making some conscious efforts {more successful on some days than others} to up my “chill out” ability.  Now, this is practically fighting genetics!  Even though these things/actions that I’m going to list may seem simple or well-known, they are what have worked for me.  The trick is to actually DO IT.  🙂  Why do I want to chill out you may ask?  Well, the truth is that my natural tendencies can be very handy when there is an intense day at work or perhaps an issue happens at home, but I am pretty sure that it is not good to demonstrate these not-chill behaviors over a prolonged period of time aka life.

  • SLEEP – I’m trying to sleep more.  It’s a struggle.  I’m the type of person who gets excited about the next day or invested in a project when I should be in bed.  I’m aiming to be in bed by 9 each night.  This is really the best time for me as I plan on getting up about 5:15 each day once the school year starts.  I’ve also accomplished the ability to nap occasionally.  I think I may have taken 4 or so in the past month.  This is a record, people!  I’m usually too excited to get something done when H is sleeping/jumping on his bed in his room.
  • JOURNALING – I use my journal as a place to record Bible verses that really hit home with me.  I also use it as a place to record my worries, blessings, etc.  I think this is very helpful, but the key is to be brutally honest in your journal and just dump everything.
  • YOGA – I’ve made it a habit.  FINALLY!  I’ve been doing yoga almost every day but at least every other for about four weeks now.  I love all the breathing and flow of it.  I even purchased a membership to a local studio through Groupon to really help me make sure I’m practicing some of the moves correctly.  My strength training has taken a back seat to yoga. Who would have thought it?  It has been very helpful for my achy shoulder that is still in recovery mode.
  • MEDITATION – This one is tricky.  I’ve been doing a few of theses ranging in time from five minutes to fifteen minutes.  Some days go better than others.  I would say I’ve been doing this about three times a week.  YouTube is my source for different ones.
  • RELAX EXPECTATIONS – I’ve really tried not to set myself up for failure {i.e. a to-do list a mile long} or put myself in negative situations.  I think as women we have a tendency to have ridiculously high expectations of ourselves AND overextend ourselves.  The end result is tragic and ultimately destructive.  I’ve tried to make conscious choices about setting a relaxed pace for the day {thank you summer vacation for the possibility!} and remove myself when things/people are a bit too much.
  • SWIMMING – I’ve really enjoyed swimming this summer.  I’ve been swimming everywhere!  In the bay, in the ocean, the gym’s pool, friend’s pool, mother-in-love’s pool…anywhere there is a pool!  It’s so peaceful.  If you have a chance to swim and some goggles, my favorite thing to do is lay on my back under the water and look up.  Everything is quiet, and the world seems far away.  You can let an air bubble or two trickle out just to watch them float up to the surface.  So relaxing!
  • DRINK HOT BEVERAGES – I quit coffee, but I’ve replaced it with tea and/or hot water with lemon and honey.  I like to have it twice a day or shoot…maybe three times!
  • GET SOME SUNSHINE – I’ve been going outside without sunscreen!  Don’t tell my dermatologist, but I’ve been taking morning walks or afternoon walks without sunscreen to get some Vitamin D.  Great facts about how good it is for you!  P.S.  H only skips the sunscreen if it’s pretty early in the AM.
  • TALK LESS – Try to talk about your worries less {this is when you could use that journal!}.  Focusing too much time on worries/complaints is a major bad habit of mine.  Instead, spend an allotted time thinking/praying about them, and move on!  Give those negative thoughts less “air time” in your brain.

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Preschooler Art Time – Can be Your Chill Time too!

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To Blog or Not to Blog…

Hi there!  Boy, I’ve been doing heavy thinking for almost a week now about blogging, social media, basically our technology world!  I had decided to quit blogging and not renew my site.  Yes, I actually pay to have this site.  Once a year.  I always think of other ways I’d like to spend the money too!  I really thought I wanted to use my time in a different way.  Truthfully, sometimes I feel burdened by blogging.  Like, I really should give an update especially for the family who reads it to keep up with H.  I feel guilty taking the time to do it instead of taking on the other tasks and projects that could be done at home.  So this is where I was…until last night.

I talked with my art therapist aka my best good friend who counseled me free of charge about creativity and the desire to be more “arty” for lack of a better word.  She recommended a book called The Artist’s Way. She had lots of other good tips/advice too.  Plus, I just like talking to her.  🙂  I sat down last night to read the introduction and the first chapter.  Although I’m unsure I’ll delve into the full load of work that is laid out in the book to discover your inner child’s creativity (warning!  It is a little “out there.”  The Mr. was like…what are you talking about!?!), I did already find the book beneficial.  I thought about what I enjoy, what I feel good at, how I express my creativity- – -my inner child.  😉

Duh!  One aspect of that is blogging!  I told the Mr. last night that I thought I had no hobbies.  He gave a snort and said oh yes I do!  So here goes…the hobby-less girl’s hobby list to prove to myself that I am creative and I don’t need to go buy a set of oil paint to prove it!  (P.S.  Not that you should worry about proving it to anyone anyways!):

  • cooking – I rarely follow a recipe in totality but prefer to make it up or add in.  Usually tasty, never reproduced!
  • blogging – Picture taking and writing – I actually enjoy composing the post.  Thinking about how to express yourself has got to stave off Alzheimer’s right????
  • outings/trips/plans – I like to do new things with H and pretty much with anyone!  I guess you could say I “creatively” plan!
  • hair – I hate wearing my hair the same way all the time.  I could never have a “signature” hairstyle!  Curly, straight, bangs, no bangs, braid, twist, high bun, low bun, ponytail…etc.
  • work-outs – This is new, but I’m getting very creative in varying my work-outs, trying new ones.  Guess what?  I’m actually on a one week yoga streak!  Yes, I have done it!  Created a yoga habit!  Love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for home yoga!  Plus, I went to my first fitness class ever on Monday night that was a yoga class – 1 hour later, I only feel over a few times!  I’m planning on trying a few more with my flexible summer schedule.

So there!  I am creative.  I am an artist.  Maybe not to the letter of the official definition, but in some aspects, I sure am!

1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.

2. person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
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5 for Friday

{ONE}

Just saying no! – Over the past few weeks, the Mr. and I (not simultaneously) decided to quit coffee.  If you know me, I’ve tried this numerous times before.  Well, this time I think I’ve actually done it!  The Mr. has never tried before, but he had no problem (besides some slight crankiness) quitting.  I’ve replaced my habit with one cup of green tea.  The Mr. has been drinking one cup black tea followed by one cup green tea.  Go us!  Here is an article discussing the advantages of quitting coffee.  

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I just love these sweet quotes on my tea bags from Trader Joe’s.

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{TWO}

Popsicles – I broke down and bought the healthiest popsicles I could find at Wal-Mart.  Lots of good reviews for these!

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There don’t seem to be any fake ingredients in them, and they’re low calorie and low in sugar.  I had the strawberry and thought it was delicious!

I’ve been trying to make better dessert choices with some mixed success.  I admittedly have a HUGE sweet tooth.  I just added new recipes to my recipe binders (yes, I’m on to two large 3 ring binders!), and the majority, by far, was desserts!  Although I like popsicles, cookies and chocolate treats still are my number 1.  I’ve been trying to replace my usual dessert cravings with fruit parfaits that consists of plain yogurt, fruit, and granola.  I admit to going a bit too heavy-handed on the granola this week.  😦  Why can’t fruit be enough!?!?  The dessert struggle continues.  The item pictured below certainly just increased my chocolate cravings…

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Underneath all the treats, there was a delicious vegan toasted coconut frozen yogurt.  Wow!  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.  It even inspired me to recreate a one dish brownie bowl that I’ve done before.  Sadly, my recipe was not as good as the time before.  A little strawberry jelly helped, but it just wasn’t like it was before.

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Here’s to hopping back on the “no chocolate dessert” bandwagon!

{THREE}

I have been doing lots more running since our trip to visit family.  Not having a the gym option really got me into it.  I continued this week with one 3 mile-ish trail run.  IMG_2399

My shoulder is still keeping my workouts light.  I did do bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and bent-over rows this week with 8 pound dumbbells.  This weight is way low compared to what I was doing.  My shoulder was a little stiff and sore this morning, so I guess it is more light workouts for me.  It’s a bummer to lose muscle you worked hard to acquire, but I know that I can gradually increase again.

Here are some core moves for runners that I’ve been trying out…

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Here are some great shoulder stretchers…

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{FOUR}

Wedding Bells – My sister is getting married!  Well, it is sort-of old news, but it is getting closer which means the excitement is building.  I asked for some official duties {besides my day-of matron of honor duties} to assist with planning, and I got assigned some “look this up on the internet” jobs.  Gladly!  I found these cute tags to possibly tie to favors on Etsy.

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Aren’t they perfect for her Charleston, SC wedding?!?!?!  I’ll spare you all the other poor quality pictures that I texted to her.  Needless to say I was consumed with scouring the internet for about an hour that day!  You can see by my tabs at the top of the picture that I was also doing some online window shopping for Roscoe P.  I’m thinking about getting him a new collar/leash/harness.  This guy has literally had one collar for about a million years!  It’s looking a little worn, and I thought maybe a little early birthday present {his birthday is in November – always overshadowed by Thanksgiving 😉 }for him.  He puts up with a lot.  We love him so!

Here Roscoe is being a good sport again and wearing H’s T-shirt yesterday afternoon.

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No animals were harmed in the photography session, lol!

{FIVE}

Words to Inspire –

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Have a great Friday and a weekend full of fun and family!

Natalie