Friday, September 20, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: She

Write for 5 minutes on this week's topic. Go to Lisa Jo's blog for more info.



She is a woman of faith, love, courage, compassion, wisdom, discernment.

She is me.

I am not all those things on a regular basis. I am human after all.

I am always a believer but I lack faith in some moments, some experiences.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend. I love. I don't love perfectly and I don't love well. I struggle with my selfish desires and my wants and let love slip through my fingers.

I have courage, well somedays. I have so much I want to tell people but I rarely tell them. The good or the bad. I'm not very brave but it's something I want to be. May someday.

I have compassion. I guess this has come with motherhood. I have more compassion especially for children who don't have it as great as my kiddo's. I think they have it pretty great anyways. I hope I show compassion to those less fortunate. I hope I learn more compassion as I mature and as I raise my girls. I want to raise compassionate women.

I am wisdom and discernment. These are new traits I've discovering about myself. I've been praying and reading God's word (a little more anyways), wanting and craving His discernment in my life. There are many things to want discernment for, especially lately. I'm hoping I can discern His voice in this life of chaos.


This post is linked to Lisa Jo for this week's Five-Minute Friday.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

on becoming real

This little blog is something I love. It's something I've loved for awhile but neglected as life comes my way. And I'm okay with that. It's the stage of life we're in, as a family. 

But I see this blog as something more. I see it has a place to be real with my readers. I'm not saying I haven't been real but I haven't been real enough, for me. Does that make sense? I spend too long on some blog posts, fine tuning every. single. detail. when that isn't real life. It isn't my real life anyways. I don't know about y'all but I don't have all kinds of time to fine tune everything in my life. Yes, I'm an introvert so I am always watching and listening to others and hopefully learning from their mistakes. I look inward a lot and fine tune certain details in my life, but not everything. I have a long way to go.

My reality is messy, fussy, lazy, bored, selfish, dirty. 

My house is in disarray most moments. I thrive on organization and order. Messy is hard for me. 

The girls fuss and it drives me crazy. They are small after all but that's hard to remember in the moment.

 I'm lazy some days. I do a days worth of chores in 30 minutes before Daniel gets home just to make it look like I did something during the day.

I get bored with my life. I long for adventure and change, some days. I'd love to be traveling and seeing the world's great masterpieces and works.

I'm selfish. I long for a day or two of sitting in my house reading, writing and lying in bed until ten in the morning.

Life here is dirty. Old food is on the floor, crumbs are in the chairs and I haven't showered today. The girls need baths, their faces are a mess and it smells like poop.

This life is also a process of learning grace, compassion, mercy and love. I want to try and show that here on our little blog. So many times I've put on my mask and hidden behind it. I make you think everything is beautiful and perfect in our little lives. It's not. 

I get  upset with my girls, I even yell sometimes. It's not some of my finer moments and it's rare, but it happens. I'm ashamed to admit it but there it is. I immediately regret it. And yet, it happens again. Why?

My kitchen is not always sparkling clean. We don't always stick to our menu. We go out way more than I'd like. There's papers on the fridge that need to be sorted and put into their places. Our room is always the last to get attention. Toys are strewn across every. single. room. in this house. I pick up yet they're always there.

There are books on the floor, blocks to trip over and missing pieces of this and that hidden under furniture. It's my life. And I want to show it. 

From now on I'm going to be more transparent.

I struggle with finding time to read God's Word. I have my alarm set in the morning, before the girls get up. Laziness finds me and I switch my alarm off and go back to sleep until I hear the girls. I struggle with losing weight and winning the battle against food. Will I ever lose the 50 pounds I so desperately need to? I struggle with finding contentment in this wonderful, easy life I've been given. How dare I be unhappy with all that is around me?! I'm a selfish sinner saved by grace and love and mercy. I need to focus less on me and more on others. I need to focus less on me and more on Him. "He must become greater, I must become less." (John 3:30)

Get ready, my real life is coming soon to a blog post near you. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Finding the Time

I struggle with finding the time to spend my own moments with God. Anyone else? I mean, we're all busy with life, raising kids, working, cooking, etc.

But then I wonder is it really time or lack of want to? Maybe it's just me, but I hear so few people talk about their struggles to actually sit down with God each day and spend time with Him. I mostly hear that people are doing it. But are we really? I'm not.

I have my alarm set to 6:20 am Monday through Friday. This alarm is set for me to get up, go downstairs and actually spend time in the Word and in prayer. Alas, I've silenced my alarm for the past 7 days, rolled over and gone back to sleep. Ouch! That hurts to actually write that out and see my laziness. I'm not really tired. It's just that initial "got to get up and get moving" that's the hardest for me. Someone please tell me they are like that too?

I know it's a process, a life-long process. I try not to beat myself up if I don't get up all 5 days but not getting up at all during those 5 days is unacceptable, for me at least.

Do you struggle to "find" time to read God's Word? If so, what have you done to prevent your struggle?

This post is linked to Read it With Me Wisdom Wednesday at Life is Good. Come link up and join the fun!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday-Sept 16

Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a good week and ate yummy foods.

We stuck to our menu pretty well last week. I've been enjoying cooking and baking lately (I go through phases) so we've been eating and freezing delicious foods. This week I'm trying some new dinners, mostly casseroles. The recipes call for each dish go into 9 x 13 inch pans but I'll be dividing them into 2 8 x 8 inch pans (or 9 x 9 pans), eating one for dinner this week and freezing the other for another meal. I'm hoping to stretch our food budget by making a few more casseroles for our freezer. And freezer meals are great to have when you're in a time crunch.

Monday- chicken alfredo pasta with steamed broccoli

Tuesday- pulled chicken sandwiches on homemade buns (delicious and ready in 40 min) and fruit

Wednesday- layered enchilada bake, made with homemade tortillas and homemade salsa

Thursday- baked three cheese chicken pasta and vegetables

Friday- homemade pizza

Saturday- chicken vegetable quesadillas with chips and salsa

Sunday- leftovers

What's cooking in your kitchen this week? Are you doing any freezer cooking to help you get ahead in the kitchen?

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Acquire [Board Game Review]

This is going to be my favorite review to date. It’s not because it’s my favorite game - Agricola and Power Grid co-own that title. It’s not because it’s the best-looking game. It’s because it’s the first “real” board game I played. It’s the game that got me started in the world of strategy gaming. I can very fondly remember joining my dad and uncles when I was 10 or 11 to learn this game and was in awe that there were games that were like this.

The old 3M edition of Acquire - the version of the game I own
Acquire is a game for 3-6 players and takes around 90 minutes to play, though more like 120 minutes as you add more players. The goal of the game is simple - accumulate the most money through your investments in hotel chains (or technological companies depending on your version).

Photo courtesy dandechino @
This is how your turn goes - you play a tile on the board and then purchase stock in any hotel chain currently on the board. If you create a group of 2 more tiles with your placement, you may "found" that hotel chain with one of the available color tiles. If you lay a tile that joins 2 (or more) chains together, a merger occurs, and the majority shareholders in the acquired hotel chain receive a bonus. As I always say, this is not a full explanation of the rules. That is what the rule book is for.

So what do I think of this game? It is great. Sid Sackson, the designer, was ahead of time really. The game is so elegantly simple in its design, but "mastering" the game is the challenge. Which hotel chain do you invest in? Which chains do you merge? When do you merge them? All things you have to consider. All key decisions you have to make. When you look at this game, you can clearly see its influence on other games - Airlines Europe immediately comes to mind.
If you are looking to take friends or family beyond Monopoly, Life, etc, Acquire could be a good start. It would be very easy to teach the game as you go. If you are a more serious board gamer, then this should definitely be in your collection

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

This week I'm joining Lisa Jo's Five-Minute Friday link-up. Come join the fun and read what others are saying about the word of the week. It's amazing to read what others think of when they hear one particular word! And don't forget, you only get 5 minutes of writing time!



Do I show mercy to others?

That's what I think of when I think of the word "mercy."

I'd like to think I've been shown mercy a time or two. Not by Jesus because I've definitely been given His love and mercy. Thank goodness for His mercy! But by others. We all do stupid crap. We all have tough times. Some would argue others have had it tougher. I'd agree with that. Honestly, I've had an easy life but I guess that's another topic for another day.

Do I show mercy to others?

Hmm. This is an interesting question and not one I'm sure I can answer. I'd like to say that my kindness and compassion comes out when I meet people. A few people in my life have described me as a "sweet spirit" and I hope that's what comes out and that goes toward showing mercy to people. There are so many who need our mercy and our compassion. Are we really giving it to them? Can we honestly say we love our neighbor and would show them mercy if they came across a tough time? I hope I would but I honestly don't know. I'm a selfish sinner who looks out for myself and my family. They are my bubble after all. But others? They get put on the back burner. Ouch.


The Company We Keep

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17

I'm sitting here in the quietness of a late Saturday night, the sound of the fan whirring the only noise in the house. All of my ladies are asleep. I'm still awake, thinking about this verse in Proverbs.

What I take away from this verse is the advice that the company we keep, in part, molds us into who we are. Let's be honest here... our friends have a significant impact on our lives. Positively and negatively. Not that we all just become the same people, but think about it, we begin to value what they value. And vice versa. The ones we are closest to have a tremendous impact on the trajectory of our lives. 

Which can lead to some difficult moments if you get down to it. Do you really value what they value? Or do you just want to fit in with them? What matters most to them? What do they value? What is important to them? Are those values values you want to aspire to or hold onto? 

As I have grown through my 20's I see just how much this matters. The saying about being known by the company we keep is very accurate. Because once you get lumped in with a group of people, it can be hard to escape that. It can be painful to escape that. 

If your friends' ideas of the weekend include bar-hopping, partying, and staying out late, and then you decide that's not for you anymore, that's a tough spot to be in. If you are striving to grow closer to your spouse and becoming a better parent, but they don't, that's hard. If you're trying to grow in your faith but others around you don't care, that's a challenging position. The examples can go on and on...

So what do you really value? What are your goals? What kind of person do you want to be? Can you reach that with the company you keep right now? 

Up until now I've only spoken about the negative. But imagine the positive. And maybe you're here. If you're around people who want to have great marriages... If you're around people who strive to raise their children to be the best they can be... If you're around people who recognize that the journey of faith is a long, winding path and can be difficult at times... Your trajectory is that much better.

And with two little girls who will be teenagers before I know it, this verse, this idea, well, it makes me wonder... What will they value? What company will they keep? And then I think back to myself. Because I'm showing them what I value. I'm showing them the company I keep. And they watch. They learn. They see. They know if the people I am friends with bring me up. And they know if those people bring me down.

We're known by the company we keep. For worse. But hopefully, for better.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gratituesday: Little Moments

I don't always appreciate the little moments I have with my two little girls. They drive me up a wall somedays, sometimes all day. They ask a million questions over and over again, spill a drink or food four thousand times a day, are at my feet playing with dolls when I'm trying to prep a meal, color all over the table and not on their paper. This list goes on and on.

Sometimes it takes looking back at pictures, even from just a few days ago, to fully appreciate how blessed I am to stay home with these girls. I look back and these pictures and laugh at their antics. Naomi wants to wear my sunglasses all the time and I happily oblige. Can I get a picture of the two them together and smiling at the same time? Not a chance at this stage in life but I can tell from their faces they're happy.

I love that homeschooling them means I won't miss all these moments as they get bigger. If Naomi wants to wear sunglasses all day and she still gets her work done, so be it. If Nyla spills yet another drink but cleans it up without being told, I know I'm doing a good job as a parent. Training up young minds and learning life skills is what it's all about after all.

The days are long but the years are short. I like not missing a moment with these two crazies! :)

Yes, we're in the bathroom. ;)

Sweet girls

Cheese!? Or maybe not. :)

Our visit to the zoo last week

Before church this past Sunday. 

Nyla is getting so big. She was copying me with her legs crossed.

These girls love to color!

Naomi's first haircut

Nyla can write her name

A cool day in August meant a picnic lunch on our driveway

Having fun after bath time.

This post is linked to Heavenly Homemakers for this weeks Gratituesday. Come link up and share what you're thankful for in your life!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday-September 9

September 9-September 15

Happy Sunday! Can you believe it, I'm posting my menu plan again?! Shocking, I know. :)
I try and post here  and I have too many posts in my draft pile. Raising girls and running a home keep me pretty busy these days. And unfortunately, this blog is on the back burner for the most part. We're trying and we're here. We read your comments and are encouraged by them. Please keep stopping by!

Monday- chicken nuggets, twice baked potatoes (from the freezer) and veggies

Tuesday- slow-cooker chicken marinara over whole wheat pasta, breadsticks

Wednesday- turkey burgers, fruit

Thursday- italian chicken breasts (from the freezer), brown rice, veggies

Friday- pizza

Saturday- leftovers

Sunday- leftovers

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Hop on over and get more great ideas for your dinner menu!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Room Time

I bought over 100 e-books/pdf's a couple weeks ago and one of the books included was Jamie Martin's, Steady Days (she writes at Simple Homeschool and has her own blog, Steady Mom). I was excited to see it among the list of books I received and started reading it immediately. She is one of my favorites! She's real, funny and is a busy work at home mom who also home schools her 3 young children.

One of the things she mentions is having a routine, flexible to you and your family. She even gives printables at the end to fill out and make your own. I printed it off and started filling it out. So far, it's been very helpful. I consider myself a fairly organized person but our days weren't going like I thought they could, some days at least. I struggled to find productive things for the girls to do at times and just got frazzled. The flexible schedule has helped!

One of the ideas, in the schedule, that really struck me is what she calls "room time." This is a 30-40 minute block (morning or afternoon, whichever suits your family) where your kids go to their respective rooms and play independently. It's not punishment, it's just a chance for everyone to recharge their batteries. Let's just say the girls haven't taken to it all that great. I'm starting out in a 10 minute block of time (she says to start small if your kids aren't used to it) and that's worked well. We'll build up each week and hopefully it won't be an issue in a couple weeks. It's hard getting them up to their rooms, they fuss and think they're being punished. I explain, in a few words, it isn't punishment, but a time to play with your own stuff and not have to share. The girls spend ALL day together and some separation time is helpful to them. I know it'll be good in the long run.

Not only is "room time" good for them, to learn some independence, but it's good for this mama. I can catch up on emails, this blog, switch laundry, get lunch together or just put my feet up. I need a few quiet moments just like they do. Who doesn't?

I can see that this will be a good thing for all of us. We'll build up to the 30-40 minute block and I think they'll be disappointed when "room time" is over. At least that's what I keep thinking in my head. Who knows, maybe we'll do 2 a day.

What routines have you established in your home that make you feel less frazzled?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Airlines Europe [Board Game Review]

Hello again, readers. It is I, Daniel, back with another game review for you. You can check out the previously reviewed games here. This time, I will be taking you through the game Airlines Europe, a fun and relatively fast-paced game about, well, airlines in Europe. Imagine that.

Airlines Europe is the brainchild of Alan Moon, who also created Ticket to Ride. When you open the game box, you can see the similarities, both in the components and in game play.

Airlines Europe is a game for 2-5 players (although a quick search of the Google should yield rule changes for 6 players) and should take about 15-30 minutes per player. Ginny and I played a game Friday night that took under an hour, but a 5-player game could up to 2+ hours. The goal of Airlines Europe is to accumulate the most points through investing in airline companies and expanding their routes across Europe.

On your turn, you have four options: 1) Claim a route for an airline company, paying the money to the bank and advancing the company up the share track and drawing a share of stock into your hard; 2) Lay down shares of stock into your "portfolio," earning money for each share laid down; 3) Exchange shares of stock for shares of Air Abacus, a government-run airline company; 4) Receive money from the bank. Three times during the game, a scoring card appears, and you award points based on ownership in each company. Total all the points accumulated through each scoring round, and the one with the most points wins. As always, the rule book details these steps further.

What I like about Airlines Europe is the simplicity of the game yet complexity of the decisions. What airline do you expand? What stock do you add to your hand? What stocks do you add to your portfolio? When do you add them to your portfolio? When do you invest in Air Abacus? Those decisions make the game fun for me. The game can turn quickly if a scoring card appears right after (or before) you lay down stock into your portfolio.

This game is one of my favorites. It is easy to teach, easy to learn, and a lot of fun. If you've introduced Ticket to Ride to people, I think this would be a good next step game for them. I give it an 8.75 out of 10. A fun game that you should check out.

Happy Labor Day!