Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tired

I've been at my Mom and Dad's for a week now. It's been fun but I'm ready to get back home. I'm tired and I want my own bed.

There was, at one point, 14 people staying in this house. Lots of people crammed into four little bedrooms and some on the floor downstairs. Me, Mike and the kids were all sharing my old bedroom. Mike took the top bunk. Jason was on the bottom. Me and Liza shared an air mattress on the floor.

I made it five years without sharing a bed with one of my kids and I only have one question... How do co-sleepers do it!?!?!

I didn't sleep well.

Of course... Liza is a super great snugger. The girl just wanted to cuddle all the time. The first night I thought it was really awesome when in the middle of the night she scooted right up to my back and snuggled me. I liked it. It made me smile. But it also kept me awake.

The second night she scooted her butt up to my back... and then farted on me. I laughed.

Another night while sleeping on my side with my back to her I felt her shove her little arm under me and flop the other one on top. She stayed like that for a while. I liked it. But it kept me awake.

One morning she was playing with my hair. Problem was that I sleep with it in a pony tail and she was grabbed bits of it and tugging it out. When I asked her what she was doing she said "trying to play with your hair while you sleep." It woke me up.

I'm tired.

And today I go home! You have no idea how much I am looking forward to having my bed back and my husband in it instead of my daughter! We used to kick and punch each other in our sleep but we've had almost nine years together and have worked that out. :)

I think I need to spend a week doing nothing but sleeping and sitting at Panera. Of course that's not going to happen. Thank goodness Mike has to work tomorrow morning so going out tonight isn't even an option. We'll be ringin' in the new year by sleeping. 



Friday, December 30, 2011

Success With the Sugar Thing!





So... not too long ago I shared about my sugar addiction and how I would not be eating sugar for a year. And then Christmas came and I would be spending a week at my Mom's house.

What you need to understand about spending days at my Mom's is that she will feed you well. And there will be sweets. Lots of them. In fact there has been a dessert mountain on the counter since the day I got here and every time you think the cookies might be getting eaten up they seem to replenish themselves. There are cookies of every kind, chocolates, sweet rolls, pies, pumpkin bread, chocolate covered pop corn. The amount of sweets that have been consumed this week in this house is unreal!

But I'm happy to say that not one bite was consumed by me!!

I've stayed away! Sure, it's been tempting. Yes there have been times where I walked by and out of habit almost dipped my hand in a bag of something but I always caught myself. I need to retrain my mind when it comes to sweets. I'm doing just that... one day at a time.

Now don't get the wrong idea... I still haven't ate amazingly well and I still need to cut my portions and make other big changes... but if you've ever been to a house like my mom's at Christmastime you will understand how huge of a deal it is to avoid eating the sugar.

Also! I've been exercising every morning! I have not skipped one day. Not even Christmas. I'm now on day 8 of level 2 of the Shred and I'm feeling pretty good! Level 2 is really hard and my shoulders want to cry every day but I keep going. My mom has been doing the Shred with me and Mike and my sister joined in a few times. Some of them because they feel it is necessary to do SOMETHING due to the amount of food they have been eating. But me... I've been doing it because that is what I do now.

I'm making changes. I'm making progress. I'm feeling good. I still have a lot more changes to make though. It will be a long transformation and it certainly isn't going to happen with a lot of sacrifice and hard work but it will all be worth it in the end.

And I have to be honest... what it all really comes down to this week is that God has been good to me. He has given me the strength to say no and walk away from the sweets that I know I love so much. It is because of Him that I have been able to sit in a room full of people eating my favorite cookies and not feel like I am going crazy because I can't have one.

Eventually it will feel normal and it won't be such a struggle. But I'm only about two weeks into this thing and it still takes a lot of thought. Making a lifestyle change is difficult but it is possible!

I know that several of you talked of making changes as well after reading my post on addiction. How are you doing with those changes!?


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Take a Guess...

Yesterday I posted about my new favorite game... Telestrations. It's genius. And it's hilarious.

My dad is certain that he is a fabulous artist and he just couldn't understand how people couldn't correctly guess his pictures. :) So I took pictures of a few of his drawings and I want you to see if you can figure them out. Some of them are pretty easy and these were taken the second night we played and I have to say there was great improvement from the first night.

Keep in mind that he might have had to draw something that didn't make sense so go ahead and make your best guesses. And don't change them when you see what others guess. :)

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6.
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7.
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8. And because it's hilarious here is one by my brother-in-law, Troy...
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Go ahead and leave your guesses in the comments! I'll post the answers in a few days. :)




Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Telestrations

I have a new favorite game!

It's called Telestrations and it's basically like telephone with pictures. It. Is. AWESOME!

Telestrations isn't a competitive game. I've been comparing it to Apples to Apples in that it is more for fun and laughs and great for a group.




It's a pretty simple idea... Everyone has their own dry erase flip board. Each person takes a card and draws one of the words on it. Then you all pass to the next player. Each person now tries to guess what the last person drew. Then you pass and the next person has to draw your guess. You continue this pattern until everyone gets the drawing pad that they started with.

Ok... that probably sounded confusing so let me show you my favorite example from last night...

I started with "snake bite".

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And I drew it... or at least attempted to...

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I then passed it to Troy who guessed...

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It was then passed to Mike and this is my wonderful husband's artistic drawing of Eve...

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(Pretty sure that was the point where I started laughing so hard that I cried.)

Mike's wonderful drawing was then passed to Grace who guessed...

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Linda then drew "adult diaper"...

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and passed it to Mom who guessed...

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Dad was up next and he drew...

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Matt was the eighth person and he guessed...

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And then it was back to me.

Snake bite to baby face. With some bizarre drawings along the way. :)

And remember that everyone who was playing started with their own drawing book. We had eight funny books to share at the end of each round!

Seriously... FUNNY GAME! Lots of laughs. And I'm sure you will end up with plenty of things to tease each other about for a long time!











Family!

I'm visiting with family all week and I love it! Almost the entire family is home. Only Lisa and Jeff are missing. And we miss them. It's a full house at Mom and Dad's. 14 people are staying here. It's just a regular sized house so it's a bit crowded. And when Dave drops by with his family there are 18 of us here. Thankfully they live close enough that they don't need to sleep here! Not sure where we would put them.

Anyways... we are having tons of fun! I love my family so much and there are lots of little kids running around now.

Remember my nephew Caleb?? (He's the one I asked you all to pray for when he was born because he needed surgery to fix his esophagus.) He will be 19 months on Monday! Caleb is such a cool kid and he is now able to eat just fine. He's running around and talking a ton! and well... I just love him and all his cuteness!

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Could you all keep praying for Caleb please. He has asthma and has to take medicine a couple of times a day. He also has things like eczema that just aren't fun. It would be lovely if he was healed of all of these things. Thanks guys!

My sister Linda decided about a week before Christmas that they were going to be crazy and drive from Florida to PA to be with the family. We didn't tell Mom and Dad that they were coming so that was a really fun surprise when she showed up with her family!

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It's always nice to see these little faces. It happens about once a year. But I will be going to Florida for a visit in February.

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The cousins are having an absolute blast together!

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And Mom and Dad are loving having all of their grandkids home at once. It's very rare!

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We had to bribe the kids with cookies.

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It's loud here. I'm tired. But I'll enjoy a few more days of it all. :)







Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It Was a Good Christmas!

We did Christmas a day early since we would be waking up and leaving on Christmas morning. I figured the kids needed a day at home to play with all their new stuff. :) It worked out really great and we even saw a few snowflakes! Glad we decided on a day early.

Anyways...

The kids woke up and found their stockings stuffed and hanging on their door knobs. They grabbed them and ran into our room and joined us in bed. Liza and Jason were really cute opening their stocking gifts and they were excited about every little thing.

We then read about the birth of Jesus and headed out to the kitchen to sing happy birthday to Him and have some cake.

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And then they tore into their presents. :)

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We had a really great day and Christmas was lots of fun this year. Hope yours was too!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Poem

The other day I posted about a Christmas video we recently discovered called Buck Denver asks... Why Do We Call It Christmas? In the bonus features Buck Denver shares a little poem and I loved it so I had Mike run the remote while I typed it out...



Good Day America. This is Buck Denver with a Christmas poem.

My favorite time of year is here
with Christmas joy and Christmas cheer
as children grin from ear to ear
and families from afar draw near.

The stores they sell
The shoppers buy
packages and boxes fly
to songs we know so well and why?
They've been playing since July

As Rudolf scampers on TV
we stack our booty 'round the tree
and if we bought excessively
we'll just tap home equity

Then later lying midst the toys
with sugar coma-ed girls and boys
in brand new shirts and corduroys
we wonder if we hear a noise

A baby crying in the night
as camels stamp their hooves in fright
no TV show no neon light
to welcome him that Christmas night

He came to earth for you and me
he saw what we were meant to be
a diaper wrapped divinity
who gave his life to set us free

so put your iPod on the shelf
turn off that show about the elf
say this as the candles glow
"Jesus loves me this I know."








Thursday, December 22, 2011

Church Directories... The Devil's Idea

Back in November we had to get pictures taken because our church was putting together a directory.

I think church directories are the devil's idea.

You see...


I had to sign up for an appointment. I had no idea if Mike would still be working or not so I took an evening slot. There was a lot of thought that had to go into this. I have two small kids. If I did it too early I would hit nap time. Any time after that complicates dinner. We went for 6:00pm and ate an early dinner.

Thankfully we have a large church and they were doing photos for a month. I signed up for some time near the end. I needed a month to figure out what we would all wear. I can hardly throw together a good outfit that matches for myself... and now I had to coordinate outfits for four of us! That's pretty much a nightmare for me!


We had to spend money to buy Mike a new sweater since he had nothing at all that would match with what I had. THANKFULLY I had something to wear because I hate shopping for something like pictures.


Then the day came. And we had to wait until 6PM even though Mike wasn't working. It was a really long day at home. And it was a weird day with the kids getting baths in the middle of the day and dinner early and trying to keep everyone happy because it just wouldn't work well to go take pics that tons of people will see right after every one had a big fight.


We show up at the church on a super down-pouring rainy night. (Thank you church for having a covered drop off area!) We sit and wait our turn. We get fifteen minutes with the photographer and then they send us off to the salesman.


I looked for a pricelist and saw none so I started asking my questions.


ME: How much does an 8x10 cost?
HIM: Hang on a second. Let's do this first. (Starts going through more of the photos to see which ones we like best.) Sooo... you like this one. If you get an 8x10, a couple of 5x7s, 24 wallets and the digital copy it will be this much.


A price that is almost $200 pops up on the screen.


My jaw hits the floor.


ME: So how much is an 8x10? I just want a family picture.
HIM: Ok. So you want an 8x10 and five 5x7s to give as gifts.
ME: No. I'm not going to give any as gifts. How much is an 8x10?
HIM: Ok. So an 8x10 and two 5x7s for gifts. That will be this much.


Another disgusting number pops up on the screen.


ME: No. Really. I just want an 8x10 of the family.
HIM: Well we could do something like this. (Shows me more examples of how I could order several and display them on my wall.)
ME: I'm really not going to hang them on my wall. I have no pictures hanging on my wall. I rent and my walls aren't even really walls that could hold the pictures. I don't have any shelves to put frames on. I really just want one 8x10 of the family. How much would that be?
HIM: (clicks out of everything, pushes back from the table, looses all the charm he formally had.) Well if you just want one 8x10 it would be free.


:)


I don't like when people try to sell me things I don't want.


After we settled that I would only get an 8x10 he then asked if I had recently had pictures done. To that I replied "Yes. I took them."


I'm sure he thought that I was like the masses of people who think they are good but in truth suck and don't have a clue. But I knew better and walked out with a smile. And I got my free 8x10 that came with the session.


But here's the thing... imagine I was a mom who didn't take pictures and hadn't had a family portrait in forever with all of us in it. And imagine that as that mom I also didn't have the money to spend on pictures... especially since it was Christmas time. And there I am sitting with a pushy salesman and I'm just not good at saying no and I feel obligated to buy something since I showed up. I'm guessing several people walked away thinking "I can't believe I just spent that much on pictures! But I just wanted one of the family together so bad!"


It was all just pretty much a stressful thing for me. I would be happy to never do it again!


The pictures that they got of us were nice enough... but they were studio portraits. Not quite my style and not something I would hang in my house. If I'm going to spend money on pictures I'm going to get something I love... not just something that I like and think is nice.


I just don't feel like these pictures represent our relationship that we have with each other... but like I said... they are nice. Just not us.

You can view some by clicking these links...

Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

I despise this pose... Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

Not a fan of this one either... Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

The kids were adorable though. But I hate the background and how dark it is. And I don't like the red.
Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios

Image Center - Olan Mills Portrait Studios


I was all over their website and STILL can't find prices! Not cool.

Anyways... I have these for my memories...

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Are they perfect? Nope. Do I love them more than anything? Absolutely!

And the best part is that they were taken right in my living room and will cost me less than $10 to print enlargements of all three.

Have you had a church directory photo experience lately?










My Twin Elves

A friend sent an email with a link to her elfyourself video. It totally cracked me up and I started playing around. :)

Liza and Jason look like twins! It's insane. No wonder I get asked if they are from time to time!





And I decided that a disco with some friend would be awesome too... and I was right!





Hope you enjoyed that! I laugh every time I watch them. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Addiction

Last Friday I wrote a post titled "Confessions" where I shared about how I constantly overeat and have a serious problem with sugar.

My friend Steve commented on that post... (Hi Steve! And by the way... you ROCK for losing 70 pounds in the past year!!! You are my hero!)


I understand where you are coming from. I put myself on a diet last January, and have since lost 70 pounds. However, I found that if I completely cut something out and told myself I was not allowed to have it, it was all that I craved. In reading some books I came across a wonderful technique that has worked wonders for me. One day a week I allow myself to indulge in something "naughty" and I don't allow myself to feel bad for doing it. Since I started this little practice I have found that I no longer allow binge on these items and have been able to stay on track better.

I wish you all the best with this step in your life.

Awesome!

What I want to talk about is the whole moderation thing when it comes to the "naughty" foods. I've had a lot of people suggest that to me over time and I have to say that I hate when I hear it works for others. Because I'm jealous. I want it to work for me too because I loooove "naughty" food soooo much.

I want moderation to work for me. I've tried moderation. It just doesn't work. I eat one bite... I eat the whole cake.

I honestly have an addiction and sugar is my drug. I crave it. I want it all the time. And once I have it there is no stopping.

Just like an alcoholic can't indulge once a week to keep the binges off... I can't indulge on the sweet stuff.

It's all or nothing for me. Sadly.

The other day I was praying about this because I hate losing and it's just been a losing battle for the past few months. I'm tired of feeling awful physically and I'm tired of over-indulging. I want to feel good again. And I know I can not beat this sugar addiction without the help of God. And so I cried out to Him. I need His strength.

I felt like He was saying to my heart "Don't eat sugar for one year. You can do it."

And that is now what I will set out to do. I used to need incentives from Michael to not eat sugar. "Don't eat sugar for 'so many months' and I'll buy you a massage." Stuff like that. It worked for a while but it's not working any more. And if I don't have a reason to not eat the stuff it's really hard to stay away from it... especially when the urge is insanely strong. I need a reason to not give in.

This time I will not have to answer to my husband... I will have to answer to my God.

Today someone gave us a box of chocolates. Oh my! How I loooove chocolate! It was sitting on my counter and eventually it started calling my name. When food calls your name and you can think of nothing else and feel that you can't go on until you have a bite... that's when you know you have a problem. I have a problem.

Mike told me he wasn't planning to open the chocolates. He was going to take them with us when we went to my parents. I appreciated that but it wasn't enough this time. The calling got louder and the NEED to have those chocolates just kept getting stronger. I was consumed by the thought of eating them.

Man did I struggle! I wanted to cry. I walked to the counter and held the box in my hand. I knew I had a decision to make. It was either to open the box and eat them or open the box and throw them all in the garbage.

I had a decision to make.

I was making excuses in my head. I wasn't going to eat sugar for a year but that could start on the 1st. Maybe I could have just one this time. I'm never going to be able to go without sugar it's just too hard.

I still had a decision to make.




One victory in the bag, many more to go!

So... now you all know my problem. My addiction. Please be helpful! Please don't encourage me to try something or have just one bite. I know in the past you have all meant well... but now you know more. You don't have to hide things when I come over and you can still make dessert for others. Just the other night we had friends over and she said "I was going to bring dessert but you aren't eating it." I told her others would enjoy it so please bring it anyways. Having a heads up was helpful. The surprises are the hardest.

I'm going forward with this no sugar thing and I would love to have your support. If you see me struggling remind me that I will just go home and cry and feel absolutely awful about myself. Remind me that I really don't want to make that decision.

And please don't be like my kids and eat a piece of chocolate and then breath in my face. :)

Here begins my year of no sugar. Yes... I am starting now and going straight through Christmas. I've never been one to wait for January 1st to make a resolution. When a decision needs to be made it needs to be made now.

Hold me accountable friends!

And pray for me. I need it.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Do We Call It Christmas?

I've been sharing books about Christmas that we love and just this past Sunday I stopped in our church's library and realized they had an entire Christmas selection! I should have stopped sooner. Anyways... I grabbed some videos and we just finished watching one that I will now put on my favorites list and will soon be buying for our own collection.


Buck Denver Asks... Why Do We Call It Christmas?



Cutting down trees? Hanging stockings? Santa Claus? What do any of these have to do with Jesus' birthday?  More than you'd think!

Join VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer along with intrepid newsman Buck Denver and all his friends on an amazing journey into the world's most popular holiday! Sure, you know the Christmas story. But do you know the story of Christmas?

Don't miss the whimsical, educational, Christmical party to end all Christmas parties as Buck Denver Asks … Why Do We Call It Christmas?



Sure it's a kid video but I laughed and learned right along with them! The writers covered pretty much all things Christmas while still managing to maintain a great focus on Jesus. It's cute. It's silly. It's full of information.


Buck Denver Asks... Why Do We Call It Christmas is great for the entire family!



Monday, December 19, 2011

My Christmas Newsletter

Note: If Christmas newsletters is your thing then rock on and keep doing them. This is about no one in particular. Don't take it personal. I'm just having a bit of fun.

Every year a get a bunch of Christmas newsletters from friends and family. This year after reading a bunch of them I ended up feeling like my life was really lame... even though I don't really think it is. A bunch of everything is awesome and we had a super amazing fun year and did a gazillion things and our kids are perfect newsletters... well... yeah. Not feeling so hot.

So... just in case there is anyone else out there that has read a gazillion cupcakes and rainbows newsletters and is feeling down about their very normal life... I offer you... My Christmas Newsletter.

*****


Merry Christmas friends and family!

It's been a year, that's for sure. Let me explain...

We were unable to take a big family vacation because, honestly, we just don't have the money for it right now. However we did enjoy lots of days of swimming in the sun at our local lake. And lots of days at home doing absolutely nothing at all. The backyard was the play ground and we might have had one or two play dates. But the kids had fun in our little sandbox and on the swings that the landlord put on the hill behind our house. Also, if we were going to take a vacation it's likely we would do it without the kids at this point.

We love Liza and Jason a ton. They are super cool. And while they also love each other they have learned to fight better. By that I mean that Jason has learned he has a voice and he is learning to stand up for himself. Liza likes to boss him around a lot and well... he's just not ok with that any more. It's been an interesting year of learning to navigate through all of that and teach them to work together. We've made some progress but still have a ways to go.

Mike is still working the same job, roofing. No promotions to speak of here!!!

We got another year out of the car. Still chuggin on. Mike will get his dream car some year... but this wasn't it. 

God has been a huge part of our lives over the year. While growth is exciting it is also hard. God has been challenging me to say yes this past year... always... no matter what. Not always easy. I've had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to say yes. But it was always worth it.

Marriage has been good but we have also had our fights. Pretty sure I slept in the living room a few times because I was too angry to fall asleep in the same bed as my husband. But we are committed and we work through every argument. I'm learning to be much less selfish... but it's still something that needs a lot of work. I AM looking forward to more years with Mike!

I ate too much this year and didn't exercise enough. The result of that was that my size eight jeans no longer fit and I had to go out and buy size ten. I wasn't too happy with myself about that but oh well. Life goes on. I'll get back on track sometime soon and maybe loose a pound or two. :)

I haven't achieved all of my hopes and dreams but I'm not where I was at the start of the year. Thank God for that!

Hope 2012 is great for all of you!

Love,
ME

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Fitness Friday: Confessions




Confession: I'm horrible at eating healthy.

I just can't get on track and STAY on track. I overeat all the time. I'm not sure if I remember what it feels like to actually be REALLY HUNGRY.

My biggest weaknesses are bread and sugar. I looooove bread. I'm addicted to sugar.

I was doing really well with not eating sugar but then for about a day and a half this week I had a bit of a chocolate binge. I hate when I do that. In fact I was so mad at myself that instead of doing the usual workout... level one of the Shred... I made myself do more. For punishment I did both level one and two in a row. It sucked. Level two will kill me. I just know it.

And I only have five more days on level one. That's right... just finished day 25 of the Shred. Haven't skipped a day. But when I started level two the other day I wanted to cry. Planks. Walking pushups. Weird squats. What is this stuff!?!?! I hate planks more than I hate anything. I want to punch them in the face more than I want to punch Jillian Michaels.

I need help.

Anyways... if I could just get my eating on track I would be alright. My goal is to make it through the holidays without eating the sweets. I've done it before and I can do it again.

And now that I've confessed and complained I'm going to pat myself on the back...

Chocolate covered pretzels are one of my most favorite things EVER. I love them. This morning we went to MOPS and had a little Christmas party and one of the other moms made some really good looking chocolate covered pretzels for everyone to take home. I wanted them. I wanted them BAD. But I left without them.

Getting on track means giving up things I want but don't need.

Maybe someday this won't be a struggle for me. I hope!




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photography Tip: Christmas Bokeh

I have been meaning to  hang some Christmas lights around my living room but I haven't got to it yet because I've been using my lights for photography purposes instead. I think I'm having more fun with them that way!

I saw an idea on Pinterest and decided to give it a go.

I clothes pinned strings of light to my curtains. It would become my background. Then I put one of my kids about eight or so feet in front of the lights. The distance is necessary to get some bokeh. The further away the background is, the more blur you should get. I used my 50mm lens because I can get a lower aperture with it.

I also had to use my external flash. I turned it down and bounced it off the ceiling. If I didn't do this the faces would have been full of shadows since they were backlit (by the Christmas lights.) I needed some light coming from the other direction to even things out.

I had a lot of fun with this and I am so glad that my kids cooperated because I LOVE the pictures!

(Note: There are a ton more of Liza because Jason was only cooperative for about .2 seconds.)


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Stunning little girl!
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Now go play with Christmas lights!!




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