Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beautiful Chaos

Brunch with my parents Sunday morning

Christmas Eve at Gigi's
She's baking us a cake in her mixer

Naomi at Gigi's, making a silly face

The teepee we got the girls

Christmas morning at my parents house

Christmas has been overwhelming to me in the past 6 years. But I try not to look at it as overwhelming, not anymore at least.

See, I grew up with just my parents and sister in town. Our Christmases included presents, breakfast, relaxing and then a movie later on in the day. And maybe some of our grandparents would come for Christmas on the occasional year.

Now, six years later I've just completed my fifth Christmas of the week. Yes, five! Friday night we had dinner with the Gafford's, Christmas Eve was with my MIL, then Christmas with our family of 4 later on that day, Christmas morning with my parents and Christmas evening with the Whitehorn extended family (my MIL's family). And the extended family functions aren't small, the grandparents all had 5 children and then all those kids have kids and those kids are having kids (the great-grandchildren now). If you're exhausted from just reading it, I totally understand!

Last year was really hard for me. We'd made the decision to start paring down our belongings and then Christmas came along and we all got more stuff. Thankfully, I'm fairly strict about the "one in, one out" rule so as to not be so overwhelmed.

This year I had a good attitude and looked at it as "beautiful chaos." Let's be honest, Christmas time can be utter chaos but instead of looking at it like that, I took a positive approach and made it "beautiful" instead.

"Beautiful chaos" means enjoying the special moment when Nyla lights up about a certain present. It's about Naomi opening her first presents and trying to get the hang of opening things. It's being surrounded by loving family who are so giving. It's about sitting next to my husband as present-opening is happening and showing one another what the girls got. It's about enjoying the moments of our girls being this age for just today; they'll be one day older tomorrow and one year older at the next Christmas. This piece of their life is so short to us.

Instead of looking at it as we got more "stuff" and getting bogged down in that negative feeling I enjoyed our "beautiful chaos" this weekend.

Merry Christmas!

Working puzzles at my parents

A few of the grandchildren and great grandchildren Christmas night

Nyla got a tricycle from Gigi and she had to ride it immediately!

We started a tradition in our home this year. I made a cake and we sang
"happy birthday" to Jesus.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Power Grid [Board Game Review]

Up to this point, I have only talked about "lighter" games. By that, I mean that they can be picked up easily by those new to the strategy game hobby - i.e. beyond Monopoly. Now, however, I want to talk about one of the heavier (more in-depth, strategic) as well as one of my favorite games out there right now: Power Grid.

Power Grid is a game all about, well, power. Each round of the game consists of several phases: An auction phase for power plants, buying resources to power the power plants, a network-building phase to establish your power grid, and the "get paid" phase. The game continues in this order until a player builds to a certain number of cities, which varies according to the number of players.

Power Grid is definitely a step-up from Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. The rules are more complex, so you will need to read and re-read through the rules both before and during the game. The order of each phase in the game is fixed throughout, but within each phase, there are several rules to remember and follow. I recommend making notes in the rule book and consulting this FAQ guide.

What I like about Power Grid is the auctioning of the power plants and the way player order is determined. There can be a great deal of positioning and posturing for who goes where in the turn order. There is a tension that exists as you try to manage both your money and resources, all the way trying to connect cities with the cheapest connection costs possible. The imbalance of both power plants and the map (connections are more expensive in some geographic regions) are offset by the player order and the fact that you can decide where to build and what to buy. I also like the fact there are several expansion maps available. Among my favorites are the Italy and Korea maps.

The downside, as I've somewhat alluded to earlier, is that the rules are a bit complex and "fiddly". Through our first play, we were constantly checking the rules to make sure what the proper procedure was. Some players may be prone to "analysis paralysis" or the tendency to over-think and spend too much time calculating a move. The tension that makes the game fun can also make the game last longer if players get too bogged down.

Overall, I rate Power Grid a 9 out of 10. It is a great game for those who already are in the world of strategy game. For those not, I would point them toward Ticket to Ride or TransAmerica.

Happy gaming! And merry Christmas!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Heavy Heart

Friday was a day of broken heartedness with the events from Connecticut. We cried on and off in our home most of Friday afternoon and held our girls so close. I know if we didn't have the girls we would've felt grief for the families but having kids, it hit closer to home.

I cried while I watched pictures flash on the screen, listened to a piece of President Obama and watched him cry for the families, when the girls woke up from their naps and then cried again while Daniel and I were talking later that night. It was a hard afternoon.

Thankfully, I find hope in Jesus Christ. Hope amongst the pain and grief. I pray that everyone affected find it too. He's there, waiting on us to find Him, waiting on us to talk to Him. It makes the pain a little easier to bear but the grief for the little ones and their families is still heavy on my heart. And I know it will be for awhile and that's okay. I can cry out to God and know He's there, there's comfort in that. We'll never know why it happened, never know why that young man was so angry he felt he needed to   take the lives of innocent people.

I pray we learn from this experience. Are we doing enough as a community to help prevent this in the future? It's hard to say we're learning when it seems someone is shooting up a school at least once a year or someone is taking their own life because kids are cruel to them. What else can we do? What aren't we doing for our kids that we need to be doing? I hope we take a good hard look and keep this day fresh in our minds so we can be compassionate to those who have a need. We need to see their need and not turn away from it because it seems too hard, too daunting. Intervene and save a lives, not just one but possibly many.

I know I can't save the world and save x amount of children. I do know that I when I see a need I step in and do what I can. In the future the girls will bring home friends that may not come from a loving environment. I know that we can provide one for them. We can be a shelter in their storms of life. I hope that when they walk into our home they know Jesus is a part of our lives and see Him acted out in our lives. I pray that they can talk to us and we can listen and pray with them and for them. I pray we can stop the cycle of hate and neglect in our home, one kid at a time. And even if it only ends up being one child, so be it. Because of that one child how many others can live to see another day and grow up and live the lives their parents imagined for them?

Love starts with Jesus. I can't love others without loving and knowing Him first.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When the Girls are Away...

This past weekend, Ginny and the girls abandoned me left for a weekend trip to visit G's grandmother in the great town of Griffin, GA. Sunday was her birthday, and they wanted to spend a weekend with Grammy.

That meant I had the entire house to myself Friday through yesterday. "What did you do with your time?" you, the fair reader, will ask. And my response to you is an emphatic and resounding...

Other than going to church Sunday and to Dairy Queen Saturday night for a Blizzard, I did absolutely nothing. I sat on the couch, watched TV, watched way too many YouTube videos, and ate junk food.

I'll be the first to admit - the house was just too quiet. Sure, I enjoyed sleeping past sunrise. But I missed my girls. All 3 of them. I enjoyed the time to myself. Don't get me wrong on that. But 3 nights was a long time away from them.

Thankfully, they made it back safely yesterday afternoon. Promptly, Nyla and Naomi both scooted over to me, wanted to read books, and played with Daddy for a while.

When the girls are away... Daddy misses them!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Very Gafford Christmas

Christmas is quickly approaching. Does it get faster with each year? It sure does seem like it!

I'm finding the season to be a little harder this year. Getting into our own family traditions and such is more difficult than I thought. I'm having a hard time with "Santa" and what I want the Christmas season to look like to our girls each year. I know it'll evolve each year, with each season of life we go through but there are a few things I do want to keep as our "traditions." 

What we'll do:
-go look at Christmas lights a few times
-bake for neighbors, our Pastor and a few church volunteers
-have a craft or activity each day of the month (or most days)--see my list here
-wake up in our own home on Christmas morning 
-send out Christmas cards--I got a few free from Shutterfly and Nyla and I have been working on a few at a time for a couple weeks

What we won't do:
-go out of town--thankfully family is in town and we'll see just about everyone over a 4-day period
-buy one another presents--Daniel and I talked this year and for one another we're just doing stocking stuffers and after Christmas we'll go out to dinner and have a mini-shopping spree for a couple new clothes items, just the two of us! 
-buy a lot of presents for our girls--in the years to come we'll do 3 gifts like Jesus received or 4 gifts using this motto: "One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear and one thing to read." I like the idea of this because it's not to much and since we're trying to simplify our lives, it'll work well for us. And, most likely one gift will be a "gift of experience" (i.e. zoo membership, children's museum membership, etc), and another gift or two will be a joint gift. This year it's one per kid and a joint gift. And I was done a few weeks ago! :)

What are some of your traditions?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Crafts

Tis the season of decorations, family activities, gifts and so much more.

Around here we are beginning to come into our own traditions with our girls. Now that Nyla is two she's becoming more interested in Christmas trees, lights and the season itself. We've begun talking about baby Jesus and what He means to this season. I'm so excited to enter into this stage with her. I love crafting and haven't had much time for it but now she's really into it. She wakes up some days and says, "I need to do something." As in, she needs to do a craft. It's very funny that she loves diving into new things like that. I'm having the best time looking for fun things to engage her mind and motor skills. She's getting good with glitter glue, I'll tell you that!

Since Nyla is only two this Christmas and Naomi is only one we can still keep things minimal, but special, around here. I've been chatting with a friend I went to high school with about Advent crafts. She has a 4-year old boy (and another boy who's under 1) whom she's been doing fun, crafty things with for the last couple of years. A couple weeks ago she posted on Facebook that she was getting her list together for Advent activities for her boys and I commented that I'd love to see her list. I was looking for some ideas and a little structure on the holiday season. I want to do more with Nyla but I like to have some sort of guide to help lead me. Her list was exactly what I needed to help get me started! Thanks Kim!

As soon as I got her email I printed off what she had and began taking away and adding what I wanted, to personalize it for Nyla's needs. And wouldn't you know she had a Pinterest board specifically for the Advent crafts she wanted to do?! I loved I was able to pop over and see what she had and see if some of them would work for us. And some of them did.

My next order of business was to complete my list and get everything typed up for our Advent crafts. I started with Dec 1st and ended with Dec 25th. Not everyday includes a craft. Some days include going to look at Christmas lights in our jammies, baking for volunteers and neighbors, cleaning out toys to prepare for new ones, etc. Once it gets closer to Christmas and we have places to go and family to spend time with, that becomes the "to-do" of the day. I tried to make everything fit into our two year olds needs but I know that some days won't be a hit and that's okay. I'm not looking for perfection, I'm looking for extra opportunities to talk about Jesus and what this season means to us as Christians.

Here is a link to my plans for Advent crafts. If you scroll down the page a little you can follow me on Pinterest and see my "Christmas Crafts" board to see what we'll be doing this year and maybe just give you some ideas. I hope you find inspiration for making this Christmas season special for your little one(s).

Do you do anything special events or activities with your little one(s) during the Christmas season?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

29 Thanksgiving Thoughts

Every 5 or 6 years, my birthday happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day, and today this was the case. This will be my last year in the 20's. So in honor of that, and to be totally cliché, here are 29 reasons I am thankful this year... (in no particular order)

1. My awesome wife - She wears many hats and wears them well. We will celebrate 5 years of marriage next year, and I am thankful for her.
2. Tubes - Both girls had tubes put in their ears this year, and in both cases they made immediate impacts. Both girls became much happier and more like themselves.
3. My job - The company I work for was acquired this spring. With that came the usual questions about job security. I am thankful that I still have a job and enjoy what I do.
4. Naomi's gap-toothed, goofy grin - Seriously, that girl's smiles could make even the worst day better. When she crinkles that nose and shows all of her teeth, there's nothing better.
5. Nyla's smile - Our serious toddler is not one who freely gives out smiles to everyone like Naomi does, so when I get her to smile, it is great.
6. Both girls' laughs - Is there anything better than baby laughs?
7. My wife's cooking - I am the envy of my co-workers whenever I heat up a delicious plate of leftovers in the break room. Ginny can cook, ya'll!
8. Board games - I know I am a nerd, but I have many, many fond memories of playing board games with my family. Plus, Ginny likes to play them with me, something many husbands don't have.
9. My mom - Gigi as she's affectionately known as now, is a terrific mother and now grandmother. Nyla and Naomi now fuss over who's going to be held first. I am thankful she lives nearby and can give us a break every now and then!
10. A tall glass of water - I am a water-aholic. Our water is the best in the world, and I know others aren't as fortunate.
11. Our pediatrician - We've seen her way more than I would have liked, but she is great with the girls and takes time to talk with us about whatever we're there for.
12. Chocolate milk - I think coffee is terrible. Chocolate milk, on the other hand, is the best. Only now I'm having to share it with a couple of little people. (I'm not sure how I feel about that.)
13. The smell and sound of rain - One of my favorite smells is when it has just started or is about to start raining. The sound of rain is one of my favorite sounds. Refreshing and relaxing.
14. Nyla's vocabulary - We are at the point now where Nyla can carry on a conversation with us. Some of the things that come out of her mouth are hilarious.
15. Books - If Ginny or I say, "Bring a book to read," both girls will bring their own books. Right now, Nyla is into "Corderee" (Corduroy), while Naomi enjoys, "It's Time for Bed" and "Pat the Bunny."
16. Proverbs 11:2 - "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." My favorite verse in the Bible.
17. My dad - January 2013 will mark 14 years since his passing, but I am forever thankful for the memories and lessons I have. If I had one wish that could be granted, it would be for him to hold my girls one time. (Sorry, I know you need a tissue now.)
18. Fresh sheets - The smell and feel of fresh, clean sheets on the bed makes me happy. It's the little things we should remember to be thankful for.
19. Family - As Ginny can attest to, my family is unique, but we are close-knit and (generally) have a good time whenever we get together.
20. No cable - Some will gasp, but we don't have cable TV. We had it, got rid of it, and haven't missed it. There's not a whole lot worth watching right now anyway.
21. Nyla hugs and kisses - She gives the sweetest hugs and kisses. I know every day when I get home from work that there's a hug waiting for me!
22. Good sleepers - Our girls can get to sleep on their own and usually sleep great all night. We taught them to go to sleep on their own and self-soothe with lovies (blankies) and fingers (Nyla - index finger; Naomi - thumb).
23. America - The greatest country in the world.
24. The Memphis Zoo - Our zoo is one of the best in the world. Our girls love going to see all the animals. Thanks to Cookie (Ginny's mom) for getting us a membership package for Christmas every year!
25. Amazing Grace - Both the song and grace itself. How sweet the sound indeed.
26. Nyla's singing - Hearing her sing "Jesus Loves Me" makes me smile every time.
27. Naomi's kisses - Most of the time she will shake her head when I ask for one, but she gives me one, they are the best open-mouthed, drooly kisses ever.
28. Being surrounded by 3 beautiful girls for the rest of my life. What could be better?
29. I'm thankful I decided to write this post when I turned 29 and not 39!

I hope everything had a great Thanksgiving and enjoys the rest of the holiday weekend!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Surviving the Stomach Sickness Successfully

(Alliteration is fun, ain't it?)

In any event, we have had an adventurous time the last week and a half in our house. It all began last Wednesday night, when we heard our dear Nyla whimpering at about 8:30pm, after having been asleep since 7:00. When Ginny walked in, the smell was undeniable - she had gotten sick. Change of clothes. Change of sheets. Some lovin'. Back in bed. 15 minutes later, yep, again. Another 20 minutes later, well, you get the idea. Thankfully, three times was it for her, and we thought that maybe she had just eaten too much for dinner that night...

(Cut to scene Saturday night.) At 11:30, I hear our dear, sweet Naomi crying in her crib. Being the first one to hear her, I walked in her, and, much like Ginny Wednesday night, was greeted by the smell. That began a night where she got sick about every 30 minutes. The only way she could comfortably sleep and not gag herself was to lay on one of us in her rocker. Ginny handled the first shift for an hour and a half. I handled the 2:30am to 5:00am shift. Fortunately, she seemed to be doing as well as she could, only throwing up on me twice.

(Cut to scene Monday night.) My stomach had not felt that great all day Monday, but I chalked it up to a lack of sleep over the weekend and golf on Sunday afternoon (on 2 hours of sleep... it was my first full 18 holes of the year... I couldn't pass up the chance). That evening, while Ginny and Nyla lovingly ran to get me some Sprite, yep, you guessed it. Our daughters passed their fun onto me. Thankfully, by Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling better. Even more thankfully, Ginny never got it.

I don't have some 3- or 5-step list to surviving, but merely to share this thought - When Naomi was laying on me Saturday night/Sunday morning, the only thing she wanted was comfort and snuggles. What mattered more to her than getting sick was getting snuggled. She buried her head into my chest and fell right asleep. As for me, I didn't really care if I got thrown up on (which I did). I just wanted my girl to be comfortable. We parents will go to great lengths to take care of kids, won't we?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stationery card

Let Peace Sing Holiday Card
holiday party invitations and thank you cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Menu Plan-November 12

November 12-18

Hi y'all! I haven't shared my menu in a few weeks so I figured I would. I've still been planning I just haven't told you about it. :) We've been sticking to the plan of plan one week and eat it for two weeks in a row. But I think I'm tired of that. Each week goes by so quick and I feel like we're eating the same things all the time. So I think I'll stick to the idea of plan once and eat twice here and there but plan different things in between so I don't get burned out on spaghetti and jambalaya because I definitely am!

Monday- smothered "aussie" chicken, brown rice, vegetable

Tuesday- lasagna and homemade breadsticks

Wednesday- Thanksgiving at church (I'm bringing a corn casserole {new} and a chocolate chip pie)

Thursday- penne alla vodka with italian sausage

Friday- bbq chicken pizza

Saturday- Callie's chicken soft taco's {new}

Sunday- pepperoni pizza

Have y'all tried anything new I need to check out? I'm looking for some new recipes!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sensory Box: Water

In the past couple of weeks I've found one of my new favorite sites, No Time For Flash Cards. It's packed full of craft ideas for babies, toddlers and older kids, sensory boxes, book recommendations and much more. I doubt I've even scratched the surface of this incredible site! Since I found it we've been crafting everyday. 

Last week Naomi and I went to Hobby Lobby and Target and picked up a bunch of craft supplies. I now have a giant box of craft supplies that is getting opened 2 to 3 times a day. Nyla climbs up in her chair at 6:30 in the morning and says, "Need to do something." Haha! She'll settle for markers or paint until I can get my craft supplies together for a specific project I have planned. She's my little craft girl and I love it!

I haven't been brave enough to give Naomi more than a crayon. She tends to eat those, still, and I haven't wanted to do much more. There are lots of crafty things for babies her age to do (she just turned 1 last week) but I'm nervous about paint and such. I guess I need to get over that. :)

Sensory boxes are something I see a lot of online these days. Because we have limited funds I'm trying to be super creative in the way we play and learn. These girls LOVE water so I thought our first sensory box could be water with bubbles, along with cups to pour and squirt toys. It's similar to their bath but I figured I'd see how they do with the water but not sitting in it.

My supplies for this sensory box are a storage bin filled with a couple inches of cold water, some shampoo for bubbles, a cup, little cups and squirt toys. Oh and beach towels to cover the floor. 

I laid the beach towels down, filled up the bin, mixed in some bubbles and threw in the toys. We rolled up sleeves and got to playing. I found their differences in how they played to be very funny and interesting. They're 15 months apart and while that won't be much later in life it's HUGE right now.

Naomi splashed and stuck in hands and arms in frequently. She also made a mess with her cups.
 Nyla is obsessed with bottles and tops so she went right for the empty shampoo bottle to open it, fill it, close it and squirt it.

You can see here that I've taken Nyla's clothes off because she was getting soaked. It didn't take long for them to both start splashing, a lot. I tried to keep that to a minimum since this isn't the bathtub.

Nyla started rubbing the bubbles all over her hands and arms, as you can somewhat see in this picture.

Naomi's little arms were getting drenched so now she's without a shirt. She's my splashy girl!

Okay, so I went to grab another towel, literally 15 steps away and when I got back they were both in the tub. Naomi still had her pants and diaper on and Nyla was in her panties. As you can see in this picture Naomi is without pants as I took them off immediately!

Since they were soaked from all the fun we just headed to the bath to rinse all the soap off of them. They're so silly!

Overall, I think they'll end up enjoying sensory boxes we do. While this one didn't last as long as I would've liked, they were too busy splashing and climbing in, they thought it was just like the bath so I'm not surprised. If I do water next time I may put in different toys from their bath toys to show them this is play and not bath time.

Do you have any sensory box ideas?

Seriously, check out No Time For Flash Cards. It's an awesome site with loads of craft ideas. I'm in craft heaven! And since I have a hard time coming up with crafty things, this is a great site for guidance.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Take it 6 weeks at a time

I don't know about you but I have a hard time committing to working out, even though I know I need to. I start out pumped up and ready to go. But the weeks drag on and then I get out of the habit. I need to take care of myself and my family and working out helps me feel better and gives me a lot of energy during the day.

Since July I've made more of a commitment to working out. I started running (read my journey here) with my sister and completed my first 5k last Saturday. I ran/walked it in 43 minutes. I was shooting for under 40 minutes but I walked too much, but that's okay. It was really warm for a 5k and for November. I finished the 5k and that was my biggest goal. I did it!

Since running has ended, I've decided to take it 6 weeks at a time. Six weeks of consistently working out is what I can give full out until I become burnt out from working out. My plan is doing 6 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off, but no more than 2 weeks off. I don't want to get out of the good habits I've started!

This next 6 weeks I've committed to doing a cardio/weights routine 3 times a week. Three times a week isn't much but it's what I can do right now. I have some dvd's, called Core Secrets, that are weights with cardio worked into them. I keep moving, get stronger and strengthen my core all in 30-45 minutes. I love them. I can keep up with the tempo and I'm sore the next day, meaning I'm getting something out of it.

This is my first week of my 6 week program and I've completed 2 days of Core Secrets. I'm sore too, which I like! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

How do your workouts work for you?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Naomi!

Sweet Naomi, you are 1 year old today. Where has the year gone?!?!

I was floored at how I loved you instantly. Unfortunately, it was hours before I got to hold you! But it was as if I'd known you forever when I finally did get to hold you. It was such a natural feeling. Since you were baby number two, I was much more confident in my mothering skills. Your wild and busy sister prepared me for that! :) And since you're a much more sensitive child I was glad you were baby number two. Being more relaxed help me cope with your sensitivities. 

With all 11 pounds 4 ounces of you, there was a lot to love! And I couldn't get enough of your chubby cheeks and big round belly; I still can't. You are so beautiful and we love our "Chunkster."

I'm thankful God entrusted us to be your parents. Wow, that floors me just typing that out! I still can't wrap my brain around God's unconditional love for us. Until your sister and you came along I didn't get it at all, at least now I understand a very small piece of it. I don't think you'll ever understand how I love you or how much I love you, until you have children of your own. I don't think anyone gets it until then. 

I'm so thankful I get to be your Mama. Through the good days and the rough days I am always here for you and for Nyla. Life would look so different without you in it. You are a constant joy in our lives. You smile ALL the time, giggle at everything Nyla does and give big, wet kisses. I didn't think my heart had room for another baby but I was so wrong. There's always room!

Happy Birthday to you, sweet Naomi. We love you so much!!!

Naomi around 5 hours old. Her sugar was low and my recovery wasn't going great
so she went to the nursery while I went to recovery for what lasted forever!

Taken just a couple of weeks ago. This about sums her up: BIG smile,
lots of teeth and wild hair. She is busy like her big sister!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrap-Up for 31 Days in 2012

I have had the BEST time writing each day this month. I'm really surprised I saw it through and finished the task! It felt like a big undertaking some days with 2 little ones running circles around me but I know tracking what we've been doing this month will be fun to look back on one day. I hope you enjoyed reading how we do things in our home. I know seasons of life will come and go, we'll change some of what we do but I see us sticking to the simple life. Writing about it this month has renewed the hunger of wanting to get rid of more clutter and live a freer life, full of experiences and moments and with less stuff!

And don't go away because we'll keep writing on this blog! Daniel and I love tracking what we're doing here. It's a good way to look back and see how far we've come as a family. And I feel like the girls will enjoy reading this one day too.

I'll continue to write through Five-Minute Friday's, I'll post our menu plan, pictures of the girls and whatever else tickles my fancy. Thanks for reading and we hope you'll continue to come back!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days: Kids & Chores


It's such a dreaded word. I know I hated it when I was growing up even though I had basically no chores. But they have to be done and someone has to do them.

My parents talk often about how they wish they had taken responsibility in giving us more responsibility around the house. Learning from them and knowing how I want to help shape my girls, chores will play a part in that.

I'm a big fan of John Rosemond. I've written a book review on one of his books, mentioned him in another post on our TV habits and I am just, well, a fan, a big fan. He's a BIG believer in chores, even starting them at a young age. He believes they help shape a child's character and make them feel like they play a role in their family. I have to agree with him 100%.

When we first had Nyla I didn't think much about implementing chores with her or future kids. I figured I would just do everything (but let Daniel vacuum) and that would be that. My dad had mentioned John Rosemond's books on a few occasions and I finally borrowed one of his and was blown away. I then asked for a couple more for Christmas and blew through those. He talked briefly about chores but how he felt they were an integral part in the child's developing into a competent adult who contributed to his family, therefore contributing to the world. How many of us didn't know how to do laundry until we were in high school or had gone away to school? Did you know how to cook, meal plan and budget? I'd say there were a lot of us who didn't know about any of this. I didn't. And I know my parents regret it.

Now that Nyla is two she helps with a few things around the house. We've been picking up her room and the den for awhile now. She has her days when it's a battle but for the most part she's helpful. Now she helps unload the dishwasher (she started when she was about 20 months old). I told my mom that and she said, "But she can't reach anything!" Yes, but she can hand me everything. "Oh, right" was her response. Does it take longer when she's helping? Yes. Has she dropped things and broken them? Yes, but so have I. Does she put things in the right place? Not all the time. I love that she helps and wants to help. She thinks its fun and she has some ownership in the task. And she feels good about herself when I tell her what a good helper she is to me. She's contributing to our family.

Not only does she unload the dishwasher, she helps clear the table, sweep the floor, take out the trash, put a new bag in and wipe the table down. Yes, my two year does all this. She does it with help but she still does all that. It doesn't happen every night but it does most nights. I know it's so important that she feels she's contributing and being helpful and she's learning life skills. One day she will run her own home and need to know how to do things.

I think it's so important for kids to do chores. While we dread them and they eventually will too, it's part of life. Stuff has to get done and us mommies can't do it all, nor do we need to. It's part of growing our children into adults who contribute to our family and this world. And it's never too early to start implementing life skills into them. As she gets older, she'll get more tasks and she'll be expected to do them everyday. I also will teach her how to menu plan, grocery budget, shop and cook simple meals when the time comes, among other things.

Did you have chores as a child?
Do your children have chores now? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days: Fall Festival (with Pictures)

This weekend were most of the Fall festivals around town. The two we always hit up are my parents church because they're right down the street and they like to walk around with their grand girls and then we go to our church's Trunk or Treat.

Because I'm so terrible about getting the action shots, all I have are the girls in their costumes before we went to either destination. But they're still cute. I'll tell you, it's tough getting a decent shot of them together. They are on the move these days!

Naomi is a bunny and Nyla is the bunny farmer. :)
Hey, neither costume cost me a cent, I had to improvise!

Sweet pigtails!

Naomi is one cute bunny! 

I couldn't resist that cute bunny tail.

Nyla and I went to our church by ourselves. Daddy wasn't feeling good and Naomi
likes to go to bed early. It was very chilly so we didn't get to show
off Nyla's costume but we had a great time together laying and eating chips. :)

This girl is obsessed with the moon. She has been forever! This is her pointing at it.

I actually talked her into getting on the hayride with me. I couldn't believe she said she
would but I told her I'd hold her the entire time. She did great!!

Nyla and I had a great time together when we went out to our church. It's so rare to spend time with just one child, especially her. Since she goes to school two days a week I get that extra time with Naomi but rarely just Nyla. We're trying to make a point to have one-on-one time with each child but it's hard right now. I know we'll make it a priority as they get older.

I think she had fun with just me and having all my attention! We ate chips together, split a cupcake, talked to and loved on all our friends, rode the hayride and just giggled about nothing. We also had a great time collecting candy from all the cars and seeing all our friends. All-in-all was a great night at both churches!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days: 2 Days of Rest

Sorry you didn't get a blog out of me yesterday. I've been battling a pretty intense headache since Wednesday. Thankfully, the past 2 days haven't been terrible. I'm on the mend but trying to take it easy. I'll be back tomorrow for the last few days of this 31 days writing challenge. See you tomorrow!

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days: Voice (Five-Minute Friday)


Finding my voice as a wife, mother and still an individual is hard to do right now. With two young children who need almost constant attention, I struggle with finding my voice. There seem to be so many things I want to do. So many things in my head I want to get out but can't. How can I still be Ginny?

Realizing that my girls will grow up quicker than I want I'm thrown back to the reality of "it's not forever." Tomorrow they'll be one day older than they are today. Tomorrow they'll be one step closer to not needing me as much. But still I find myself complaining to myself how frustrated I am with being stuck in this house all day. Not enjoying every moment like I long to. Not having an hour to myself and always having someone follow me to the bathroom. 

"Quit complaining" is something I've been saying to myself a lot these past few weeks. "Be thankful" I can even have kids and am able to stay home and raise them myself. Daniel sacrifices to go out and work all day so the girls and I can stay home and be together. It's a blessing, I know this.

I know I'll find my voice again. I know it'll take some time.

Linked to Lisa-Jo's Five-Minute Friday link up party!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days: A Few of Our Favorite Things

One of the best parts about being a parent is seeing all the little quirks and mannerisms our girls develop over time, as well as things they enjoy a lot. With that, I present to you some of these about each of sweet girls.

Our sweet oldest definitely has her unique quirks. She likes to chew on her index finger when going to sleep. She typically requests one of three songs before going to bed: "Bible Tells So" (Jesus Loves Me), "Whole World" (He's Got the Whole World in His Hands), or "Wheels on Bus", after which whoever is singing is told to get the other parent. When I get home from work, she runs out the door to my car, hops up in my lap, says, "I need to drive" (ugh), and then wants to sit in the passenger seat and turn my hazard lights on. She's very particular about her shirts, making sure they're pulled down as far as they can. Her new thing is asking to play Angry Birds on the iPad. She's the only one in her KDO class that doesn't cry when dropped off. (Ginny is thankful for this!) And I think she knows how to work my mom's iPhone better than my mom.

I could just say, "Naomi is Naomi, and that's all you need to know." Of course, most of you don't know her, so I'll have to elaborate. She is one of the happiest babies you'll meet, but if she is hungry or tired, call the exorcist look out. Sitting in her high chair, she will wave her hand and shake her head if she does not want a bite of whatever you're giving her. Eventually, however, she caves in, because the girl loves to eat and eats as though the food vanishes into thin air in 5 minutes. Girl can throw some food back. If she's happy with herself, she growls or purrs. She will give her stuffed animals kisses, but Daddy leans in, she turns her head away (smiling I might add). Of course, at bedtime, she will snuggle so close. She likes it when Daddy "power bombs" her on the couch, but she gets nervous when Mom does it. If you (or a pillow or Nyla or a stuffed animal) are in the floor, prepare to be attacked.

I could go on and on, but I think that's enough for now!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days: Dear Girls

Dear Nyla and Naomi,
These past couple of weeks writing about our lives together has made me so appreciate the little time I have with each of you. The days seem to go slow but the years truly are flying by. Nyla you are 2+ and Naomi you'll be 1 in just 2 weeks. I feel like I just had each of you!

I'm so thankful I get to stay home with you each day and help shape the person you are to become. I pray I'm a good example. There are so many things I want to teach you. I get in a hurry. I am learning to slow down, we'll get there in time. And I know I couldn't do it without the help of Jesus. He shows me each day how to improve upon my mothering skills. I'm proud our God gave each of you to us and entrusted us with your safe keeping. And I'm proud to follow Him. He is the ultimate example of love!

I hope you appreciate the simple lives we lead. We lead simple lives to show you that not everything in this world is needed, that you can "go without" and still lead a happy and healthy life. We go against the world in regards to "stuff." I hope you don't ever see it as deprivation but as seeing there are others with so much less than we have. We have a roof over our heads, running water, multiple clothing choices and always plenty of food. We are better off than so many people in this world. I pray you always remember that. I pray we can not only tell you that but show you we are beyond blessed.

I pray that you learn to love the Lord as your daddy and I do. I pray we are lights to Him and show you the way to Him. I pray many things for you each day but this is number one. He is the ONLY way to a life filled with love and happiness. Know Him and keep Him in the center of your life.

I love you more than you'll ever know,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days: Planning a Lunch Menu

Recently, I've tried to make breakfast time go smoother in our home. I planned out a weekly breakfast menu that doesn't change and have stuck to it for the past few weeks. It's been helpful to look at it the night before and get out what I need to be ready first thing in the morning. Breakfast time isn't as stressful anymore. Thank goodness!

Last week I wrote out a lunch menu that basically follows what I do at breakfast. I made a different meal for each day of the week and it doesn't change until I'm ready for it to change. I do adjust if I needed and don't have all the lunch items. I have a few other lunch ideas listed just in case.

Note: Nyla goes to KDO 2 times a week so I plan for her. Naomi still eats some pureed baby food so I have that listed as well.

Here's our weekly lunch menu:

Monday- Naomi: pureed snow peas, fish sticks, veggie straws
Nyla (for school): peanut butter sandwich, grapes, chips or veggie straws, graham cracker with Nutella

Tuesday- pureed cauliflower, cheese, crackers, oranges and yogurt

Wednesday- pureed black beans, noodles, cheese, bananas or fruit cocktail

Thursday- Naomi: pureed snow peas, hot dog, veggie straws
Nyla (for school): peanut butter sandwich, grapes, chips or veggie straws, graham crackers with Nutella

Friday- pureed sweet potatoes, yogurt, noodles, cheese and grapes
Out to lunch with my mom and sister, we take lunch if they won't eat something where we eat

Saturday- pureed green beans, leftovers or sandwiches

Sunday- pureed black beans, pizza, veggie straws and yogurt

Quick substitutes if my usual food isn't available: leftovers, pureed corn, turkey burger

As you can see Nyla isn't a big meat eater. I've tried hot dogs and fish sticks with her but she wants nothing to do with them. I do have to have somewhat separate menus for the girls because of this. Also, I have quite a bit of baby food so I may switch what's listed around to suit our days needs.

This is what works for us right now. I've tried planning different menu's for breakfasts and lunches and was WAY overwhelmed with planning separate everything. I feel like our menu is varied and I'll change it as the girls grow and change. I hope to have a more well-balanced diet when they get older. Right now I'm just doing what I can for them. I just want them to eat at this point. :)

Do you plan your lunch menu? If so, do you plan it differently each week? 
If you don't plan, have you ever thought about planning? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days: Getting Ready for the Week

These days getting ready for the week is a bit more challenging when caring for two little ones. I have to be organized and prepared or things can get pretty hairy here in a matter of minutes. Or seconds.

To stay on top of it all I make a point each Sunday evening to get ahead. Really, I just look at what we have going on during the week, get the kitchen and den tidied up and get Nyla's kid's day out things together.

First, I take a look at our dinner menu for the week. Do I need to get anything out tonight to have thawed for tomorrow night? (I do this each night or try to). I then move onto breakfasts and lunches for Monday morning. Naomi still takes pureed baby food with her meals and it's in the freezer. I have to get it out to be thawed in the morning for breakfast. And, if possible, I prep for breakfast too (i.e. cook bacon for the week, make a batch of scrambled eggs, etc.) Now that I have a weekly breakfast menu my life is SO much easier! Looking at it each night before bed really helps our mornings go smoother. I know exactly what we're eating and how I can be prepared for the next day. (Our lunch menu will post tomorrow).

Once I have our food situated I pick up what toys and books were left out. Nyla and I try and pick up most of it before she goes to bed, since she's learning responsibility, but there are always a few things left in the den and kitchen. I make sure her toys and any of our stuff is put away too. When I walk into the den the next day and it's all picked up it makes me feel so much better about starting the week. It really is amazing how that works! The kitchen works the same way for me. I like to have the dishwasher running before bed so I can unload it while the girls are eating breakfast the next morning. Or I'll empty it so it's ready for our dirty dishes.

On Monday's Nyla goes to "Kid's Day Out" (KDO). She has to have a backpack with an extra change of clothes, a sleep mat with cover, her lovey for nap time and her lunch. So I'm not rushing around like a mad woman I make sure her bag is packed and ready to go, her mat has her cover and there's a lovey attached to it and at least part of her lunch is packed. That way if time gets away from us, which it usually does, her stuff is ready to be put in the car and we won't be late.

Getting ready for the week has saved my sanity. Yes, I stay at home and I know working mom's think I have it easy, but we stay busy too! It's so important to me to have things in order on Sunday night. I've really been trying to do each task every night but sometimes I'm just too exhausted. For the most part, I'm at least ready for breakfast. And I prep lunch during breakfast. That works most days for us too.

What do you do to get ready for the week?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days: Hosting a Baby Shower

I'm thankful to be involved in such a sweet church who love to help with everything. A friend and I talked about throwing a baby shower for another girl friend and I had quite a few people tell me if I needed help to let them know. After we planned out our menu I started asking those sweet ladies who said they would help. And I had no problem getting all our foods covered for the event!

Arrangement my mom put together. Beautiful!

Leigh and Jordan

Leigh and her baby boy, HB

The future parents opening gifts... Nate and Kristy

The food spread

The strawberry cupcakes I made. Mmmm!
For our menu we had:
fruit and fruit dip, cheese ball and crackers, marinated cheese and crackers, buffalo chicken dip, mexican corn dip, hot sandwiches and strawberry cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing. I wanted to have nontraditional shower foods because we were eating right after church and I know people are always hungry right after church, plus I'm not a chicken salad fan. :) And I asked Kristy what she'd been craving and went down that road too. Her cravings have been fruit, strawberry and vanilla and spicy foods. I feel like I incorporated well what the mommy-to-be has been craving!

I love being able to plan showers. I'm thankful there are so many special women at our church who love to help and love to cook. I couldn't have done any of this without them. Thank you, Ladies!
I also like not having them at my house so I don't have to worry about cleaning the house. :)
We had a great time getting together and blessing the parents-to-be with much needed essentials.