Friday, February 28, 2014

My Girl

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Liza has been talking about getting her ears pierced for MONTHS. I hesitated because I wanted to make sure she REALLY wanted to do it. I also wanted her to be able to fully own the decision.

About a month ago I came up with a plan. The girl is always talking about how she is going to take over my business so I thought I would give her a little taste of what work is like. We worked out a plan and then I advertised that Liza would make kid-sized scarves for anyone who wanted to purchase one. We got a couple orders and Liza got to work! She was making money to buy her first earrings.

 2-19-014 scarves and friends

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Yesterday we took Liza's money and had a little girly date. We started by painting Liza's nails and then headed to the mall. First stop was a hair cut. She asked to have several inches off. It's a lot shorter now but I still love it!

After getting her hair done we went to get her ears pieced. She walked up to the counter and told the ladies why she was there. She picked out her earrings and nervously sat in the chair, not knowing what to expect. When the ladies asked if she would like to hold my hand she said, "No, I'll just sit here." And then, before she even knew it, her ears had the sparkly pink flowers in them that she picked out.

Liza shed a few tears, we hugged and then she was nothing but excited!

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We celebrated by going to Menchie's for some frozen yogurt. Spoiled dinner by eating dessert first but who cares! Our last stop was Target where we found some new nail polish on clearance. Liza is as girly as it gets!

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Me and Liza both loved the whole experience... from waiting for orders, to working together, to FINALLY having the money to go get those ears pierced! Our girly date is such a good memory for us now. I'm so proud of her for all of her hard work, saving and decision making. Liza is super cool!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Before Movie ~ Part 3

Today I'm sharing my thoughts on two more books I've finished from the list of 16 books to read before they hit theaters this year.

First up...

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This story hooked me early on. The characters were interesting and psychotic. I was never really able to figure out which direction the story would go or how it would end so I had to keep reading. I enjoyed the story and I think it will make a great movie.

What I didn't like... When did authors decide that in order to have a good book it has to be full of sex and swearing? In my opinion there is NEVER a need to use the C-word. It's ugly and offensive. The constant use of swearing throughout the book really took away from what could have been a fun experience. Like I said... good story, well written... but I have to give this book 3 stars out of 5. Actually make that 2... NEVER use the C-word. Hopefully they'll leave that out when they make the movie.



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Divergent by Veronica Roth

I REALLY enjoyed this book. An easy read that made me ask questions of myself. What faction would I fit in with? What do I value above all else? And in all of it I found a little bit of truth about our world. I enjoyed the characters and the relationships. The quiet strength displayed by many.

I don't really have a lot to say about this book other than I'm glad I read it. It was nice to escape into a made up world and follow the characters. I'm on the wait list for book 2 at the library and I look forward to seeing this movie! If you liked Hunger Games you will like Divergent!


Book Before Movie...
Part 1
Part 2


Monday, February 24, 2014

You Are Lovely

Hi friends,
Today I have a post up on my friend Amy's blog, Taking Steps Home. She has a series going on called You Are Lovely and invited me to be a part of it. You can READ MY POST HERE. If you want to know more about the series just click the button below...





If you are stopping over from Amy's blog... HELLO! You might be interested in a recent post I wrote called "Photography Made Me Insecure". It fits in quite well with the series that Amy is doing.

I'll be back tomorrow with another installment of Books Before Movies.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

So Serious

Jason is the boy of many faces. His expressions are amazing. I especially love how he accents things by raising his eyebrows several times.

Last Thursday was his birthday. He turned six and to celebrate we had a few of his friends over for a play date after school. One of his friends had to stay longer than the rest because his mom was at school so they busted out the superhero costumes and had a great time.

I eventually asked if I could get a picture of them together and thankfully they agreed. As I was about to snap Jason says "SERIOUS FACES!"

His serious face had me dying!

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I repeatedly asked him throughout the day to show me his serious face. I couldn't wait for Mike to come home and experience it! And then I decided that everyone else needed to see it in action so just before bedtime I got Jason to let me record him. I'll treasure this little one minute video FOREVER!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dreaming of Summer

Yesterday was a snow day.
Today was another 2 hour delay.
Icy roads.

Right now?
Right now it's about 50 degrees outside! And when I walked the kids to school the sun was shining and the breeze was blowing. It felt like spring. It felt good!

And while I LOVE winter, once I get that first taste of spring and sunshine and warmth on my face... I want it! I want it all the time. This weekend is supposed to be full of warmer temps and rain. I'm guessing the snow will mostly be gone by Sunday. We'll start seeing patches of green again and everything will look a bit strange since we've been used to seeing it covered in white.

I wanted to get out and enjoy the snow some more before it was all gone so I took my camera for a walk on Monday. I went to the lake where we swim and picnic during the summer. It was absolutely beautiful in winter. I had never gone in winter before! Of course, now that I have I am wondering why it took me so long! And I'm thinking that next year I will take up cross country skiing and ski the lake. I hope next winter is another good one so I can determine if this will be a new hobby for me or not!

So... while the warmer temps and my stroll around the lake have me dreaming of summer, I'm still enjoying these days of winter.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Food Failure

A few weeks back I finished up the Whole30 and told you all about it. I also had a plan and that was to stick pretty close to the Whole30 way of eating. If I was going to splurge I was going to plan it.

I was doing really well with that but what I forgot to plan for was life. I forgot to plan for what to do about the emotional eating urges. And then life happened... don't even get me started on the $1500 car fix to have it pass inspection (still looking for second and third opinions or cheaper options) and the reminder that we no longer have our main source of income... along with several other gazillion little emotional things that pile up to become an emotional monster... and we have an emotional eating binge full of everything that is not Whole30... or even close to it.

Why do I share this with you?
I believe that if I am going to share my successes that I should also share my failures. It's easy to become disillusioned in this age of technology where everyone tweets their fantastic life and shares everything that is good. With all that going on it's easy to fool ourselves into believing that people are superhuman and have perfect lives.

When I shared my success it was fun because several people were encouraged by it and some even began their own Whole30 journey. But the other day when I posted my total food failure on Facebook it was even more fun... because I connected with people in a completely different way. A few people joined the conversation about my success... many more jumped in when I discussed my failure?

Why is that?
My guess is that because they could relate. They too do really well and then they fail for a few days. They understand and humans are strange in that we like to find other people who have the same struggles in life that we do. Those people who can say "I understand, I've been there too." It's comforting.

So yeah... we'll just label last week a complete food failure. One day I only ate those little chocolate covered donuts (a favorite comfort food), chocolate covered pretzels, a few almonds and a smoothie. Yeah... that's about as far away from Whole30 and my plan as you can get.

The good news is that even with all the emotional binging the past few days I am still down another two pounds since ending the Whole30. That puts my total lost since December 28 at 12 pounds. I feel good. My clothes fit great! I'm happy with where I am.

Although... while cleaning in the attic a few days ago I came across an old journal. Right before I got pregnant with Liza I weighed in at 132 pounds. I'm wondering if that is possible to get to again. It's only 8 pounds away...

Perhaps that can be my motivator to end this emotional binging... at least for a while.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Before Movie - Part 2

My fourth book from the list of 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. She is the author of Seabiscut... which I have not read but now want to.

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Unbroken...
I don't even know where to start.

This book had me completely captivated from the preface! It's a true story that takes place during World War II and the man that the story centers around, Louie Zamperini, is an amazing character. I liked him from the beginning and found myself rooting for him even as they described him as a young boy who was always stealing and causing trouble.

Unbroken took me through a full range of emotions... There were moments that filled me with great joy and some that had my chest puffing up with American pride. Some moments had me on the edge of my seat, full of suspense and others had me feeling deep grief. I felt shock, anger and frustration... but I also, at times, felt peace.

I have never been one to enjoy history. (The facts and dates were always boring to me.) Unbroken, however, has me interested in learning more. All the pieces that were floating around in my brain as individual stories in history now fit together for me. The personal stories of men who lived and fought through World War II were just what I needed to become interested in this part of history. 

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I couldn't put this book down! One night I read a few chapters before going to bed and I found myself unable to fall asleep because my head physically hurt as my brain tried to wrap itself around the fact that this was a TRUE story! I don't know how many times I said to Mike, "I can't believe this really happened!! How is this guy not dead!?"

If you are looking for a good book about courage, insane bravery and survival, resilience, victory and healing, then Unbroken is the book you are looking for!

Put Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand on your must read list and move it right to the top! You won't regret it!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Where I Belong

I feel like I've been walking around for the past year unsure of where I belong. I ask myself over and over where do I fit in? Where is my place in this world?

When I went from being involved in a lot of things to being involved in nothing (some of it was my choice and in some instances the choice was made for me) it left me feeling a little lost. I was desperately lacking direction, which was a new thing for me.

I've struggled over the past year with who I am and what my purpose is. I've questioned time and again if all that I had been doing meant anything at all.

I'm still struggling with these questions.
Struggling with belonging... with feeling like I fit in. Although, I feel like fitting in is always a long shot for me because I've never been one to fit in. I've always been the one who is different and most of the time I am ok with that. But I want to know where my place in life is.

Anyways... like I said... it's still all a struggle for me but yesterday morning...

Yesterday morning was a glorious morning. It started NORMAL. That means that everyone left in the morning like they are supposed to. I turned on the music, turned it up and got to singing and dancing ridiculously as I went along, letting the words of the songs fill my heart.

I had chosen a cd that I haven't got out in probably at least two years. I don't know why I grabbed Superchicks, but I did. And there is a song that flooded my heart with answers to my questions.

I do belong. I always have. I always will.

I belong to God... from the beginning and all through eternity.
That is my constant.
My place where I will always fit and be wanted.




Everybody needs to belong somewhere
Life can feel so alone without someone who cares
And when life becomes something just to get through
That's when I'm glad that I belong to you



[Chorus:]
I belong to you
I belong to you
You're the one who will never let me down
Won't let me dwon
I belong to you
I belong to you



Sometimes life brings more pain than we can bear alone
When hope is gone and I have no strength to stand on my own
When nothing helps, there's nothing that I can do
You surround me and show me

[Chorus]

When love is gone, there's no arms to run to anymore
I'm all alone, there's no one for me to live for
Letting go of the things I've always clung to
That's when I need to feel that

[Chorus]



Linking up with Faith and Fellowship blog hop at Simple Moments Stick. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beauty Among the Chaos

Not too long ago I shared how I felt like God was challenging me. He was encouraging me to find beauty in this wintery season of life... just as I have been finding beauty in this cold, snowy winter that we are experiencing here in Western PA.

It has taken a perspective change, but I'm working on it. Sometimes the beauty is really easy to see. Some days I really have to search for it. But I'm finding it.

In this winter where everything breaks and our income drastically changed and relationships are difficult and daily life becomes exhausting, and depression and anxiety are constantly present, there is still beauty.

The beauty is there in...

*the friends who listen and pray for me. Who understand and encourage me.
*the blessing of having my mortgage paid so that it wasn't an added stress as we adjust financially.
*Mike saving us loads of money by figuring out how to fix the furnace himself.
*finding out that pizza delivery isn't a bad paying job!
*bloggers who invite me to share about my business in the hopes of helping me find new customers.
*snuggles with my babies on the days I just want to stay home and do nothing.
*long moments in time spent alone without feeling lonely.
*the need to once again become best friends with my husband because I truly need someone I can lean on right now.
*crocheting with my daughter.
*a warm blanket, hot cup of tea and good book on a cold day.
*a verse that reminds of God's promises.

My life may look and feel like chaos that never ends... but that doesn't mean that my life isn't full of beauty.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perspective

Perspective: a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging 
                      their relative importance.



If I sit on my favorite spot on the couch in my living room this is my view...

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I sat there the other day thinking about how it actually looks like I live in the woods from this point of view.

However, when I go to the second floor and look out the window directly above, this is what I see...

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What I can see from my first view is not enough for me to come to any conclusions about what lays beyond the fence. I can't see enough. My perspective is limited.

My perspective of life is also limited.

It's easy to get caught up in the view of everything that is happening RIGHT NOW. And honestly, my right now is a mess... and it has been for a long time. I think I finally start making progress with the mess and more mess gets heaped on.

My perspective is dimmed. It's shallow. It's limited like my view from the couch. And when I only focus on that limited view of my life it is easy to become hopeless and stay down. It's easy to be discouraged.

I can't see beyond my limited view to the good that surrounds it. But the good is there and there are reasons beyond the mess that I need to remain hopeful about... even though I don't yet know what is beyond the mess.

I know as I go through this hard season in life that I am being refined. I know that I need to push through the hard stuff in order to get back to the good and beautiful life. I know I need to shift my perspective back to God and remember that he sees it all. He sees me and the mess of life... and he also sees what lies beyond and all around the mess.

There is a way out of this mess and as long as I stay focused on God I will find it.

Isaiah 43:16-19
This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

I'm letting God, who sees the full picture, lead me through the wilderness.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Facebook Freedom

Lately, I feel like my life is being stripped down to the basics. Simplifying and leaving only what is necessary. Facebook was the latest thing to go... well... kind of.

I still have facebook. I LIKE facebook. I can't just completely delete it. I still share things because my family likes to keep up with what's going on... especially with the kids. But I've really cut back and changed how I use it.

About two weeks ago I implemented the "No Scroll" rule. I no longer scroll down my newsfeed to read all the postings. If it isn't the top two or three items when I sign in I probably don't see it.

At first this was tough. I kept thinking what if I miss something! Then I realized that if I am close with someone I won't miss things... because we will actually see each other and TALK. At least this is what I am hoping will happen.

The thing with facebook is that it tricks us into thinking that we are so much closer to people than we really are... that we are better friends than we really are... because facebook lets us know everything about a person's life. We know where they work, when they have a bad day, what their kids are up to. We learn a person's successes... and if they are honest enough we can learn about their failures too.

Facebook allows us to know a lot of information ABOUT a person but that doesn't mean we truly know the person.

Since implementing the No Scroll rule I find that I have a lot more time in my day and a lot more space in my brain. I really do enjoy keeping up with people and learning what is happening in their lives... but my brain was becoming cluttered with information. So I'm taking a break.

I am finding that I am now more likely to write up an email to a friend. (I was REALLY slacking at responding to all messages.) My close friends come to mind and I want to say hi. There is more to talk about when I DO talk to my friends because I haven't already heard it all on facebook.

Like I said... I DO like facebook. I'll keep using it. But this break and no scrolling has been so freeing! I think I'll keep it up for a while.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Before Movie - Part 1

Early in January my library posted a link to facebook that caught my attention. It was 16 Books to Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year. I checked it out and decided that I was going to read every book on the list before seeing the movie, as long as I could get the book for free. Apparently, several other people had the same idea because I am on the wait list for five of the books right now. But, I was able to get some of them and get started with reading.


1. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

This is a story about four strangers who meet on New Year's Eve because they all end up at the same spot... the roof of Toppers, which is famous for being life's last stop for many. They all had planned on jumping that night but in a series of strange events, they make a pact to give life a few more weeks and then meet up again to decide if they still want to jump.

The story was good. I enjoyed the characters. It kept me reading. And even though it was about four people who wanted to commit suicide, it was surprisingly full of life. What I didn't like was how much cussing was used in the book. It was overdone and for me, it took away from the story. There were several times where I almost just quit reading the book because of the language. I didn't feel that all the cussing was necessary and if this is how the author always writes, I will probably never pick up another one of his books.


2. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

I didn't finish this book. I was about 100 pages in and it was due back to the library. When I went to renew it I was told I couldn't because someone else was waiting for it. I wasn't interested in paying a quarter a day to keep reading this 700 page book. It hadn't hooked me by page 100 so it was easy to quit. At times it was interesting but then there were the moments that had me wondering if the author was a total pervert. I'm ok with not reading the rest of this book.


3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is a young adult novel and very Hunger Games -ish. But I enjoyed it. It was a quick read that always left me wondering what the outcome would be. And when I got to the end... I ended up getting book number 2 of the series from the library.


I'm currently reading another book from the list and I have a feeling it will be my favorite out of all 16. I can't wait to tell you all about it and hopefully convince you to pick up a copy and read it too!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

White As Snow

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"Come now, let us settle the matter,"
says the Lord.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool."
Isaiah 1:18








Friday, February 7, 2014

Snowflakes and Sparkles

Yesterday morning I stepped outside to walk the kids to school and saw that the world was sparkling!! We got a small, fresh layer of snow overnight and the sun was loving it! The trees had a thin layer of ice and were just lighting up!

But I had work to do and errands to run.

I almost ditched it all and grabbed my camera, but in the end I decided to be a responsible adult. I started out at Walmart, grabbing yarn for my upcoming scarf parties. I ran into the dollar store and then decided I was a fool for not going on a walk with my camera. It was just magnificent and the more I drove around, the more I knew that I would not be finishing my errands. I ran to the bank real quick because I was so close and then I headed home, threw my boots on, grabbed my camera and drove to one of our parks.

I was kicking myself for not going sooner because the higher the sun gets in the sky, the less sparkle. But it was still beautiful.

You might be sick of seeing winter pictures from me... if so, just click the X and come back another day. :) I'm enjoying winter and all its beauty. It amazes me how each snow storm can bring something completely different. Green grass is always just green grass... but with snow... you never know what you might get!


Tree shadows in winter are so different from tree shadows in summer!
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The trees had ice crystals all over them.
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I could see so many individual snowflakes all over the ground... just catching the sun.
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I love how you can see a design in the middle of the little ice cycles.
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Winter is simply BEAUTIFUL!!


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