Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So What! Wednesday

So it's another week of So What! Wednesday and I'm linking up with Shannon over at Life After I Dew.

Here's what I'm saying So What! to:

  • I spent another whole day goofing around with my blog layout.  Nothing else gets done when I choose to blog.  I can never seem to settle on a layout and stick with it.  Too many choices, I guess.
  • My kids ate ice cream at 8:30 last night (on a school night) and they didn't get a bath either.
  • I decided I was going to take a break from writing for Yahoo! and today I found myself researching a topic to write about.  I guess if I have a great topic idea, I might as well run with it and get paid, too. 
  • It's so nice outside and my neighbor is playing with my daughter outside and I'm inside playing on the computer.  There's something so wrong with that!
  • So what!  I'm going to screw the "hurry-and-get-something-done-before-the-kids-get-home-from-school" bit and I'm going outside to play.  I don't care if anything gets done today... including the laundry!
  • I'm still in my pajamas and it's 4:00

What are you saying "So what!" to?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1-2-3 Pause

You've heard it before, "Don't forget to stop and smell the roses...."  We are so busy these days most of us don't even have time to breathe.  Fast food restaurants are at an all-time high, eating on the run, making phone calls on the run, checking e-mails on the run....  Does that even sound appealing?  Who wants to live life like that?

Have you looked around our world?

I mean really looked? Our world's sunrises and sunsets are gorgeous, mountains of trees that look like broccoli, beaches with seashells, array of brilliance in flower gardens, stars in the night sky, even bugs that sit on a window for a rest can bring some kind of interest, even for a non-bug person like me.  As long as I'm on the other side of the glass, I can't help but to stop and look at a bug chillin' on a window. 

it's looking at me!
Have you ever wondered....

If you had the opportunity to create your own world, something completely different than what you know the world to be, how would you do it?  Perhaps you could come up with some interesting creatures and 'things' but have you ever thought about how you would create it in the very beginning?  It's almost too much to wrap around my brain.  I'm a creative person, but not THAT creative!

When I see something beautiful or interesting in this world, I can't help but give God credit for creating something like that.  I've learned to "stop and smell the roses" and ponder just how little I am in this universe.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.... And God said, "let there be light," and there was light.  God saw the light was good.  Then God created the sky and there was evening, and there was morning - the second day and God saw that it was good. demondimum

He also made the stars to give light on earth and separate light from darkness and God saw that it was good.
God said let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth and so God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing and God saw it was good. 
So God created man (and female) and God blessed them.  And God saw it was good....  Taken from Genesis 1

It's so important to "stop and smell the roses" from time to time and give thanks to God for giving us such wonderful gifts.  God gives us light to see, flowers to smell and most importantly love that we all can never have too much of!

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture."  ~ Psalm 100: 1-3

What have you stopped to ponder and wonder today?

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Mustard Seed

"He told them another parable:  'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.'"  ~ Matthew 13:31
Mustard seeds

 This parable reminds me of a song we used to sing in the children's choir at church.

Pass It On (It Only Takes a Spark)

It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.
And soon all those around, can warm up it it's glowing.

That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it, it's fresh like spring, you want to sing, you want to pass it on.

I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I've found
You can depend on him
It matters not where your bound.


I'll shout it from the mountain tops
I want the world to know
The Lord of Life has come to me
I want to pass it on.


This song chokes me up every time I hear it.  It brings back memories but it also reminds me of a very important message:

Just as the smallest mustard seed can grow into a huge tree, only a tiny spark in your heart of God's love is all someone needs to experience the love of God.  Once a spark happens, it doesn't take much for the fire to get going.  Once that love grows, it doesn't stop, then soon the glow of the fire will come out of you and affect everyone and everything around you.  God's love will make you want to shout it out and pass it on to everyone.
A mustard tree
Happy Friday, everyone!  Enjoy the glorious (and hot) weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Health Kick Kickstart - Avocado Smoothie

As I gobbled down my late-night kale salad, I'm eager to write about my new smoothie recipe. This smoothie, you've got to try! I'm not a fan of avocado on its own but blend it up in a sweet smoothie, I'm there!  This one was WITHOUT the plastic chunks.

Healthy Avocado Smoothie

One avocado
One apple, peeled and sliced
1 packet of Sweet Leaf Stevia (or 1 TB sugar)
1 c. unsweetened almond milk (or regular milk)
handful of ice

Blend well.  Enjoy.

I've tried this smoothie with regular milk and sugar and no apple and it's good.  I've even tried it with honey instead of sugar.  It just doesn't quite cut it without Stevia and almond milk.  Not only is the smoothie much better for you, it tastes much smoother (like a milkshake) and with just the right amount of sweetness.

I'd love to hear what you think of this smoothie!

Health Kick Kickstart - Part 2

Still on my health kick.  It's such a love-hate relationship.  I love feeling good with lots of energy but I hate that I 'choose' not to eat the bad crap of food, like Oreos.  I do eat the Oreos, but with fear in my heart because I know that I can't eat just one.  So I try to come up with new recipes and fun ways to eat healthy food and then my sugar cravings actually go down.  Yay me!

I've written before about kale and how good it is for you in my first Health Kick post.  It's the healthiest green you can eat.  I tested a smoothie recipe in that post with kale in it.  It's surprisingly good so you'll have to check it out if you haven't already.  Here's my next recipe from Amy Marzluff at Advanced Wellness Center in Columbus.

Massaged Kale and Currant Salad

1 bunch of kale
pinch of sea salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 c. currants (or apples)
1/3 c. sunflowers seeds, cashews, almonds, etc.
1/2 c. avocado, chopped
Lemon juice

De-stem the kale and place in ziploc bag.  Add a pinch of salt and seal.  Massage the leaves for two minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, shake well and enjoy!

Here's what I learned: 

Tear the kale in very very very (very) small pieces.  It's easier to chew.

The first time I had this salad, I didn't massage the leaves long enough.  You don't want to massage too long or the kale will get mushy.  Two minutes is just about right.

I don't think I used a full 1/4 cup of olive oil.  I eyeballed it and ended up adding a tiny bit more once I dumped it in a bowl.

I didn't have currants so I chopped up tiny pieces of apples.

I'm not crazy about avocado alone so I used a quarter of one avocado.  Perfection!

I loved this salad more when I added the apples and sunflower seeds instead of using cashews and currants.  The sunflower seeds gave that bit-of-salty/nutty flavor and the apples toned it down with a touch of sweetness.

If you're not sure about eating kale as a salad, I remember my mom always saying (and I now say to my children) "Don't knock it 'til you try it.  You just might like it."

Let me know how YOU liked this salad!  You might be surprised!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So What! Wednesday

I'm linking up with Shannon at Life After I Dew for another week of So what! Wednesday.

This is what I'm saying "So what!" to:

If my husband ever read my blog and my "So What! Wednesday" posts, I'm screwed.  Really, I'm confessing things that would cause me to have to rub his neck (and probably his feet) for a week if he found out.  So what!  I'm doing it anyway cuz it's just so much fun!

Last week I wasted about 10 hours in the same day messing around with a new blogger template.  So what if it didn't even work?  I changed my template about 4 times that day and I finally landed on one I really like.

That same day, my kids ate dinner at 7:40pm.  At 8pm, I was mopping the kitchen floor while my kids took a bath alone.  So what! if they didn't wash their hair well enough.  At least they sat in water, right?  Oh yeah, and there was water everywhere!

So what! we spent a car payment on flowers, topsoil and mulch for our backyard.  Our gardens are beautiful and I'm looking forward to enjoying them all summer.

Yesterday I made a very healthy smoothie (so very excited to drink it!).  Since my blender sucks, I was using a plastic spatula to push the food down and make it mix.  The blades at the bottom chipped off the tip of the handle and I didn't know until it was too late.  I looked for a chunk of plastic and couldn't find any.  So what I drank it anyway.  I was not going to waste expensive produce!  I'm hoping the teeny tiny bits of plastic I must have consume will not kill me.

What are you saying "So what!" to?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What am I doing here?

I was sitting in church on Sunday and getting very inspired to write.  I do that every Sunday and wish I could secretly open a laptop and write something during church.  So I takes notes, however, now that it's Tuesday night, I've lost that inspiration and train of thought but I'm going to try to take myself back to Sunday.  Messy scribble notes, don't fail me now!

I've been blogging for a year now.  I wasn't in full force until around February of this year when I got my own domain.  I've gone down several trails regarding my blog:

My original goal to blog was to promote my Yahoo! articles - FAIL
I wanted to promote my Keepsakes by Jill business - FAIL
I've written about anything and anything. - FAIL (well, mostly)
I've tried useless facts and interesting stuff - Not too bad...

So I decided for a whole new blog re-vamp.  However, I still struggle with the fact that I only have a few followers and no one comments on my posts.  I thought if I promoted my blog more, get my name out there, more people would read it.  Then I hesitate at the same time.  Do I really want pictures of my family and things I do and say for the world to see and read?  My new purpose for my blog now is to write about Christian living and write devotions about everyday struggles in my life.  While I'm sitting in church, it dawned on me that if only one person read my blog, got inspired and told a friend, then I've done my job.  It's so hard sometimes to see other people scale up the success ladder and I feel I'm still down at the bottom rung.  Who am I inspiring?

Perhaps blogging isn't my calling....

Writing and blogging was only supposed to be a hobby.  Something to keep my brain from turning mush.  I tend to get a bit competitive with my own goals.  If I'm not being sought out for what I'm doing, I'm not good enough.  Then it dawned on me that I've been chosen to have the highest honor in the world.

I'm a mom...

I get to stay home and watch my kids grow up.  I get to be part of their lives, visit them at school, teach them how to live, be functional, play with them, laugh and love them.  What more could I ever ask for?  God has trusted me with two of His children, four stepkids, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.  That is the highest honor anyone could receive and I got it!  If  being entrusted with God's children isn't considered an award, then I don't know what is!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Facts about dragonflies

My daughter and I went to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio for a girl scout activity.  I've lived in Columbus for 17 years and never knew we had an Audubon center, much less know anything what an Audubon center is.  In case you've never heard of one, it's a nature oasis where you can take hikes and sit and watch nature happen all around you. They usually have a wetland of some sort and a river nearby.  We were there to explore the many wonders of water.

One of the activities the girls got to do was dip a net into the wetland and see what kind of creatures they pick up.  I love doing this stuff.  I may not touch most creatures, but this, I will find in the bottom scum of the wetlands and be amazed at what lurks below.  Today, we learned some fascinating facts about dragonflies.

1.  Dragonflies are good for our environment.  They mostly eat mosquitoes but will also eat other insects such as bees, butterflies, bloodworms and even small fish.

2.  Dragonflies are not born with wings.  They actually hatch from larvae and live in the water until they complete metamorphosis with wings.  They emerge above water and wait for their wings to dry, then off they go.
both pictures are of dragonfly nymphs.  The left is much younger than the one on the right.

3.  Males have 2 tiny hooks on their rear end.  They use them to hook onto a female to mate.

4.  The female will lay her eggs near the water and that's where the dragonfly nymphs spend most of their lives.

5.  Dragonflies only live for about 2 months as winged insects.

6.  Male dragonflies and nymphs are aggressive.  See the tadpole someone caught at the top?  Someone is pointing to it.  It is actually a lot bigger than the picture shows.  It was the size of a golf ball.  The large dragonfly nymph you saw in the previous picture could eat that tadpole if it really wanted to.

7.  Dragonflies will shed their outer shell as they grow, much like cicadas.

8.  The largest dragonfly fossil ever found showed a wingspan of 3 feet wide.  That's the largest insect our planet has ever seen.

9.  Dragonflies are harmless to humans.  They are curious but won't bite or sting.

10. Dragonflies have 30,000 lenses in each eye and can see in a 360 degree radius.

11.  There are currently about 5,000 species of dragonflies.

12.  Dragonflies have double wings.  One for maneuverability and the other set to actually fly.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Health Kick Kickstart and a smoothie recipe

Some of you who know me well, know that I tend to get into a little health kick this time of year.  The weather turns nice, I clean off my grill and hit the produce section.... big time.  Ok, it's not a little health kick.  It's a huge swift kick in the rear end.  It has nothing to do with bathing suit season.  I could care less what I look like in a bathing suit.  It's the I'm-sick-of-feeling-like-crap syndrome that I'm desperate to get out of.  I noticed lately that my face is all broken out (thank you Proactiv!), my stomach is bloated, my hair looks dry and brittle, I'm dead tired and very unmotivated, my arthritis and carpal tunnel has kicked in and I just get sick of being around myself.  So today, I hit the produce section at the grocery store.  I spent darn near $150 on produce, Stevia, sea salt, chicken breasts, and almond milk and whatever else ended up in my cart.  This is what my fridge ended up looking like: 

For dinner, we had grilled pork chops, green beans and a salad.  I'm so proud of this salad.  I got it at Aldi's and it was really good.  Both my girls (4 and 8) ate this salad.
Of course, I had to doctor mine up a bit.  I like hearty salads.

So, a couple of years ago, I visited a wellness doctor because I had tried all avenues of weight loss, and yes, including wasting my money on diet pills, and nothing was working.  I had severe hormonal issues due to my second pregnancy and even when my baby was 2, my hormones just wouldn't calm down.  Dr. Maureen Passifume with Advanced Wellness Center did a muscle test on me and found out that not only were my hormones completely out of whack, my liver and kidneys needed some (a lot) help, too.  She helped me get back on track through my diet.  I learned so much from her and those changes were very easy.  Following her simple diet guidelines, I started sleeping better, my hormones started behaving themselves and I lost 20 pounds.  My reaction: "Wow, you were right.  This does work.  You weren't just trying to scam me..."

It has been a long time since I've seen Dr. Maureen and when I found out she was having a girls' night on nutrition, I went with a friend.  She has partnered up with Amy Marzluff, a holistic health coach and Amy made a couple of recipes for us to try.  These women are amazing and they're amazing because not only do they NOT pressure you into buying their services and products but they just want people to be healthy.  So I'm going to share a recipe you will be SHOCKED how good it tastes.  It was easy to make and even my kids drank the smoothie.

Banana Mango Smoothie

1/2 c. water
2 c. frozen mango
2 frozen bananas (I only used 1 since I'm not a huge banana flavor fan)
3 big leaves of kale (no stem)
1 lemon (use the whole lemon or just squeeze the juice)

Blend well together.

Have you ever tried kale?  It's the thick leafy stuff you usually see on a veggie tray or garnish tray.  That, my friends, is NOT a garnish.  It's actually the healthiest green for you.  So instead of wasting that leafy green "stuff", blend it up in a smoothie.  You will not taste it, you'll boost your immune system, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and the list of zillion benefits goes on.  It's also super cheap, too!

VERY IMPORTANT!  Do NOT let your kids (or your husband) see you make this smoothie.  Their gag reflects will kick in before the straw touches their mouth.  I told my kids it was a shamrock shake (you know, ice cream) and they liked it.  If you have to, disguise it in a colored cup, or add some ice to make it thicker like an actual milkshake.  Let me know how you like it. I'd love to hear from you!

Nature's Rules

My granddaughter is approaching 8 months old.  She hasn't quite figured out crawling yet but she sure can roll around on the floor.  My daughter-in-law has mentioned her concern about Adyson not crawling yet and perhaps she would just skip over crawling and jump right into walking.  I remember thinking the same thing about my first daughter.  Of course, she quickly proved me wrong and there has been no stopping her since.

I was inspired by Life Lessons 4 U when they mentioned learning lessons from the movie The Karate Kid.  In case you haven't seen the movie in a while, Daniel was doing all of Mr. Miyagi's chores.  "Wax on, wax off..."  He washed the cars, painted the fence, painted the house, sanded the decks.  Just when Daniel was fed up with doing Mr. Miyagi's chores, Daniel ended up learning karate without knowing it and a life lesson, too.
“First learn stand… then learn fly… nature’s rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”          ~ Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid movie)
We don’t realize that what does not make sense today will make sense in the future. Not everything we go through in life will make sense to us, just some things at a time.

This is when we must trust God that He knows what He is doing and sometimes we just have to go along for the ride.  It's not our job to have everything figured out and to know why some things are the way they are.  If we knew everything and why, we might as well be God.  Life is like a bunch of baby steps.  You have to learn to crawl before you walk, walk before you run, and so on.  Life lessons happen to us all the time.  Sometimes we just don't know it, but we have to trust that what we go through in life today, will shape us into a brand new person another day.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  ~ Matthew 6: 34

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning Life Lessons

I've looked high and low for a quote I remember reading that really stuck with me.  I wish I could find it, so if you know what I'm talking about, please tell me!  The quote was something like this:

If you wake up in the morning, you haven't learned all the life lessons God wants you to learn before He calls you to Heaven.

Sometimes I look at life like a child and God as my earthly Father.  Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way, just like a child.  It's easier to send my child to her room when she's misbehaving and as reluctant as she is to go, she has to go because I told her to.  It's not like God can send me to my room but God can send me lessons I need to learn. I just have to be willing to pay attention or the lesson would get lost.
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
Friedrich Nietzsche

We've all heard stories about people winning the lottery and losing it all.  Someone who just bought their dream car only to total it the next day.  Falling for an expensive scam.  Buying a house and lightning strikes it a month later.  Yeah, these are really hard lessons to learn.  Some really big ones.

There are also small lessons such as hitting every red light on the way to work when you're really, really late.  Having to park in the farthest parking space at the grocery store.  Getting stuck at a very long checkout line. Even missing girls night because a meeting ran too long.  These lessons stink and can often be misunderstood as a "bad day" or "bad luck", when in fact, it could've possibly been a blessing.

Recently, I wrote about our family vacation to Disney World and what it was like for me when we came back.  Normally, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation but I didn't feel that way this time.  I came back feeling so refreshed and ready to conquer the world.  The next day, my husband was called into work and my nightmarish week immediately began.  It was everything from last minute change of plans, phone ringing, kids asking for money, sudden realization that we were dirt poor after our trip, bills due, deadlines due, downpour of rain on the way to pick up the dog (also running very late too) and each day never ended.  I was up all night, couldn't sleep, had to get up early and the next day continued on.  However, I was proud of myself for keeping a positive outlook on everything, but at rock bottom of my week, I realized I couldn't take it anymore.  I looked at my life and realized I didn't like what was happening.  I had taken on way too much and realized that if I had continued this way (before our vacation), I probably would've eventually snapped.  I needed that vacation to chill out and I didn't even know it. 

So I prayed....

I prayed and honestly tried to give my worries to God.  I honestly tried to not worry about our bills, everyone else's problems and all the stupid little issues my own body was giving me but I couldn't do it.  When I realized that it was time to simplify my life, I had a hard time choosing what to let go.  Then I felt like God was sending me a life lesson.  I started taking on things that weren't really mine to have in the first place and perhaps this was God's way of forcing me to "go to my room" and think about what I've done to myself.  Perhaps it's not for me to worry so much about contributing to our family financially (such as my yahoo articles) and that my ultimate job is to take care of my family.  Nothing more, nothing less.  When I realized what my life lesson was, a huge load was taken off my chest.  I was able to refocus my priorities and man, do I feel better!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So What! Wednesday

Thanks Shannon at Life After I Dew for letting me link up with you for another week of So What! Wednesday!

This is what I'm saying So what! to:
  • if there's a pile of spider clumps in the corner of my kitchen.  So far my husband hasn't seen it and it's not not even motivating me to clean the kitchen.
  • I let my 4-year-old and her best friend play outside all day.  They get into the mulch and pick leaves out of the garden.  As long as they're playing nice together....
  • I've slacked big time on the kids' chores and homework for months.
  • I decided to (temporarily) quit writing for Yahoo! when we just added two new bills to our budget
  • I haven't scheduled eye appointments for my family yet.  They were due months ago.
  • my closets are busting at the seams.  The frustration goes away as soon as I shove the door shut and move on to the next room.
Have a sunshiney Wednesday!

Disney World Vacation

I'm not much of a moment's notice kind of girl anymore.  The older I get, the more of a planner I become.  My husband surprised us with a Disney vacation with only 9 days' notice.  We took our 8 year old out of school for a week, which is something I'm against and we packed up and took off to Orlando.  We drove two days down and two days back and spent the week in Orlando.  One day at Magic Kingdom, one day at Sea World and two days at the beach.  I didn't realize how bad I needed this vacation until we got back.  When we got back Sunday night, I immediately started on the laundry and took me two days to accomplish.  Monday, my life began just as quick and I didn't even get to blink before all the drama began.  Phone calls came rolling in, kids, school, bills, writing deadlines and it didn't stop all week.  I started to look at my life from an outside perspective and thought, "how in the world did I manage all this?"  That's when I realized it was time to simplify.

Writing, blogging, volunteering, household duties, family duties and an endless to-do list, some things had to give.  Not everything can be dropped obviously, but as much as it pains me the things I've chosen to drop for a while is volunteering and my writing obligations for Yahoo!  I make money off of Yahoo! and that was why this decision was so difficult to make.  However, it has become a big stresser for me because I've run out of topics to write about.  I've always learned that to be a good writer, you have to write what you know.  I get featured for parenting topics and crafts and hobbies.  I can always find topics to write about but I've written over 200 articles and have collected over 83,000 hits.  With that many articles, I've written about things I know and now the rest is up to research, homework and learning new things.  I'm all about learning new things but with a 4-year-old, a baby granddaughter and summer quickly approaching, there's not enough time in the day.  I commend parents with full-time jobs who also go to school.  I don't know how they do it!  I am unworthy of them and envy their motivation!  Right now, time is not on my side.  I pray that for me to type this out loud, I may jinx myself and come up with some new creative topics to keep my status at Yahoo! but I'm not going to let it bog me down and ruin my upcoming summer.

Perhaps our vacation served me better in more ways than one.  I was able to come back so refreshed that I was able to see the amount of craziness my life circles around me.  I am motivated to simplify and to have a simple life is better for my kids (and me) and I can enjoy them while they are still young.

With that being said, here are some pictures from our vacation.

One day at Magic Kingdom
of course it was all about the princesses...

3 hours later, 2 sets of princesses and expensive photos

this was just one side of all the strollers.  never have i seen so many!

my breakfast every morning

my little mermaid

my other little mermaid

this girls' breakfast - oh yea!

we taught the girls Austin Powers' power laugh when we got preferred parking at Sea World

with VIP passes, we fed the sea lions, sting rays and dolphins.  Personal tour guide, preferred show seating, free food, and quick queue for ride lines made Sea World the best ever!

this was under the dolphin exhibit.  the tour guide had to come get me cuz i parked my butt right on the floor and watched these beautiful creatures.  I could have stayed there all day.

The dolphins were waiting for bubbles to come out of the pipe.  it was too cute!

our feet on the beach.  We found 5 shark teeth and tons of huge seashells

 We found this mussel/clam/oyster on the beach.  It came in with the high tide and was just sitting there.  When we picked it up, it closed.

 Eventually, it opened back up again and we realized it was still alive!  So we threw it back in the ocean.
A minute later, it jumped out of the water, clamped itself shut and landed in the water and swam away.

one of the best things about our vacation is that we got to see our girls actually getting along and loving each other.  I really didn't want to come home because of that!

I can't wait to go back to the beach.  My husband wants to move to Florida when he retires.  Oh how I wish I had a genie!  At least we didn't come back to snow and ice and now we can blend right into our summer.  I wish it was hot all year round!