Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thirsty Thursday

This was always our name for Thursday when I worked at the dental clinic. After getting on my soap box Tuesday I decided to do something a little more light hearted and fun today.

Here in good ole Iowa it is a scorcher. Yesterday and today have had highs in the 90's with heat indexes in the 100's and it's just been a good idea to stick close to home and stay cool. I'm going to share some of our favorite hot weather drinks...

1. Iced\Sweet Tea -- Who doesn't love a nice cold glass of tea when the temperature boils over. I make both kinds, sweet and iced, depending on my mood.

2. Cherry Limeades -- This is a personal favorite. My husband and daughter don't seem to share my love for it though. A simple way to enjoy it when you can't down a pitcher on your own is a glass of lemon-lime soda with grenadine (also known as a Shirley Temple). Otherwise here is a link to a recipe from scratch.

3. Sno-cones -- I make my own by throwing ice into my food processor and then adding syrup. Yum!

4. Lemonade -- The classic hot weather drink!

5. Water -- when the temperatures get this dangerously high I push a lot of water on my family if we are going outside. Nothing is better!

What is your favorite hot weather drink?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Volunteering is something that has become very near and dear to my heart. I find it important not only because it helps those who are less fortunate than my family but because it helps make events possible that may not otherwise be possible.

I currently donate clothing to the local clothing bank, donate household items and time to a group that collects items to send to the Appalachian Mountain region in Tennessee, donate time to the local 4H group and donate time to my church's Sunday School program.

However it is hitting our community right now the need for volunteers to make local events happen. Every August we have a town celebration. A normal year includes rides, games, a flea market, local dance groups performing, food vendors, a rodeo, a classic car show, a beer garden, and, of course, a parade. The festivities start Thursday night with a teen dance and end up Sunday afternoon.

This year most of the council has retired from the committee because they are getting older and want to hand it off to the younger generation, my generation. However at this time they only have a handful of people who have volunteered. A handful. And so it is moving from the local county fair grounds to main street and will only be for one day.

My husband heard about this and started complaining. Saying it wouldn't be the same, wouldn't be as good, what were they thinking, why change.

I would like to insert here that my husband, who I love very very much, doesn't volunteer at all. Even when he goes to the 4H meetings with me, he hangs out with other dads and ignores the 4H meeting.

I asked if he was going to volunteer for the committee for next year to help fix it. This is a totally reasonable question since he is so upset about it. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said no.

Sadly this is a common response from my generation. We feel entitled to having all the things we have always had, never realizing how much work our parents went through to make it possible for us. And when we do realize, so many feel like someone else should take it over, we don't have time, we have too much else going on in our lives.

I looked up the statistics on volunteering. In 2011, 26.8% of Americans volunteered in some way. 29.3% of women volunteered and 22.9% of men. The ages showed that people aged 35-54 were the most likely to volunteer (30%) where people aged 16-24 were the least at 20.8%. Married couples voluteered more than their single counterparts, as did parents compared to people without children. *Information from Bureau of Labor Statistics

If we would all take the time to help our communities at the very least, our world could be so much better. If every one of us took the time to volunteer in some capacity within our community, the load would be less for each of us, maybe even leaving time and resources to help communities around the world.

When I think about volunteering one verse speaks louder to me than any other. I think about Acts 20:35 "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” This is a greater reason than any other to volunteer our time, gifts, and assets. Because God has told us that we need to.

What verses speak to you about volunteering? What do you do within your community to make it a better place?

God bless


Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

My menu plan for the week of June 25 (this week is a little off due to some extra things going on)

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Bologna sandwiches, chips
Dinner: Spaghetti casserole

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chicken pasta
Dinner: Chicken and rice casserole

Breakfast: Eggs
Lunch: Chicken nuggets, applesauce
Dinner: Hot dog roast (at Alexis' youth group)

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Dinner: Tuna Noodle casserole

Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: corn dogs
Dinner: pizza (we are ordering in)

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Salad with grilled chicken

Breakfast: Donuts\Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Pork chops

A Proverbs 31 Wife

If you search this in Google you get over a million hits. Every time I read this verse I get something a little new from it. but this is my ideal. This is goal that I am striving to reach. I need to have this verse framed and hung in my kitchen, where I spend a good portion of my time.

Proverbs 31:10-31

The first thing that jumps out is that her husband trusts her. This means to me not only always being truthful with my husband when he asks me something, but giving him all the information. Being completely truthful about our finances, being completely truthful about our plans, and being upfront with him about everything.

It also strikes me that she works with willing hands. To me this is saying that regardless of how much I hate to hem pants, clean the litter box or wash blankets, I still do it, without complaining, without putting it off. Not because Jaime wants me to do it, or because it needs done, but because God wants me to do it.

I also see that the earnings should be put back into the family. It says specifically "She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings" (Proverbs 31:16). So she (or I) takes the money that she has for her earnings, which would be after tithing, and after the bills, and reinvests it in her family. Today this may mean literally buying plants for a garden if you have the space, or it may mean investments, stocks, or even putting it into savings where it can grow. 

She volunteers her time for the needy. This is pretty much the same today as it always has been. I personally live this by volunteering my time to the Appalachian Warehouse, donating our gently used clothes to the Harmony Clothing Closet (a local clothing bank that is free for anyone to pick up from), and taking excess canned goods to the local food pantry. I also volunteer with the local 4H group, but being Alexis takes part in this club, I don't usually count this.

The other big one that jumps out at me is that she is never idle. I have long since quoted that idle hands are the devil's playground but this also shows that it is the making of a good wife. I live this by always having something in my hands. Whether I am crocheting or embroidering, even when I am watching TV with my husband, I keep my hands busy. However I could always do more.

This is not by any means a full personal interpretation of Proverbs 31:10-31. This is just the huge things. I also read Proverbs 31 Wife Handbook.

God Bless


Sunday, June 24, 2012

1 Year

A year ago today, June 25th, I married the man of my dreams, my best friend, and so much more.

It hasn't been an easy year. We had our up and downs, just like any other married couple. But we have pulled through. Our marriage is even better now than a year ago because we have learned more about one  another.

I didn't move in with my husband until a month before the wedding. We didn't learn one another's mannerisms, quirks or daily living before we were married. Looking back, part of me wishes we could have waited until after the wedding. On the other hand trying to move and get married at the same that would have been crazy.

In the last year I've learned that my husband is not fit to be around pre-coffee in the mornings. I've learned that he needs his 8 hours of sleep. I've learned that he doesn't like shows that are faked but he prefers either reality shows like American Pickers or Hell's Kitchen or adult cartoons like American Dad or Family Guy. I've learned that he likes to read. I've learned that, although he is very laid back and generally is open to anything, if he says no he stands firm in that decision. I've learned that his family dynamic is absolutely the opposite from mine. I've learned that he is unaware of his nonverbal cues the majority of the time, and if I call him on them he 1) usually doesn't know what I am talking about and 2) very rarely do they match up to what he says. He also doesn't like when I try to 'read' him, which means he doesn't want me to pay attention to those nonverbal cues.

None of these are bad things (ok my husband pre-coffee is bad but that's not the point). They are just pieces of him that I've had to learn. I find that I love him more all the time.

A perfect example is we have found a balance in the house when it comes to housework and disciplining Alexis. I take care of the majority of the housework. The cleaning, the cooking, the laundry. Jaime does the dishes. However Alexis listens far better to Jaime than she has ever listened to me. And so he tends to take on the authority role in our family. This has required me to adjust some of my attitudes, as I've discussed before. However yesterday, when the house was clean, laundry put away, and I was volunteering, he decided to clean my car for me. Not just getting the random trash out of it, but vacuuming it out and wiping it all down. He did this because he could.

I am learning to see things that he does to SHOW me that he loves me. Yes I like to hear the words, yes I'm a romantic and my idea of showing me is with flowers, candles, dinner, but that isn't how he functions.

He wakes me every morning before he leaves for work with a kiss and I love you. He kisses me good night every night and tells me he loves me. I may say it first, but he always says it back when I do.

He shows that he loves me by cleaning out my car (he knows I would rather clean the house top to bottom than clean my little car.)

He shows that he loves me by going to the store to buy my soda in the morning when I'm not functioning yet.

He shows me that he loves me by letting me sleep when I'm exhausted.

He shows me that he loves me by agreeing to Italian food when he's more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

He shows me that he loves me by setting up my sewing area when I mentioned that I wished I had somewhere that was permanent.

He shows me that he loves me by coming to Christmas Eve service because I find it very important that we are together that day. (And has been going with me every Sunday ever since)

He shows me that he loves me by bringing me my dinner at work when I forgot it at home.

All these little things that could easily be overlooked. Overlooked while wishing for a candlelit dinner, or a sappy card, or a bouquet of my favorite flowers. But when I listen to him, and pay attention, I realize that I don't need those things. My husband loves me very much, and he shows me and tells me in his way.

It's been a year, it feels like we've been together a lifetime. In a way we have, our paths crossing but neither of us realizing what was to come. But that's a story for another day.

God Bless


Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Family Saturday

I somehow got lucky and got the day off. It is wonderful and I feel blessed for the time that I got to spend with my family today.

I started off the day going to the warehouse with my best friend, who is also my daughter's aunt, and my nephew. *For simplicity I just claim them as my own, also I have been in their lives since they were babies and they have called me Aunt Ash as long as they could talk. Telling them, or me, that we aren't family doesn't usually bode well for the speaker* We sorted through the clothes that were brought and ooohed and aahhed over the various things.

The warehouse is what we call it. The actual name is The Appalachian Warehouse. We accept donations of clothing, appliances, furniture, housewares and toys to send to the Appalachian Mountain region for the communities there. Once or twice a year the church that her dad attends will take semi truck loads down and distribute it. They will usually also do some manual labor, like house repairs, while they are there. It is a great cause and I love to volunteer my time, even if my church isn't the one who sponsors the cause.

After that we came home. My daughter managed to harangue her aunt into taking her home, mainly because Jaime and I were already planning on going out later on. Jaime and I ate our lunch together in the peace and quiet and then headed out to their house.

The great thing is that we are friends with the respective parts of the married couple. We had cauliflower and cheddar soup (which was delicious and a recipe is included in this post at the end) and chicken breast. Her husband had all of his top teeth pulled on Thursday and so he needed to have nice soft foods. Then we played a board game.

It's called Anybody's Guess. It is from 1990, and although parts of it are outdated, it is a great game. You can find it here if you want to try it next time you and your married friends get together.

We also decided we wanted to play The Newlywed Game. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun. We get together at least once a month and so some new games sound like a good idea. The other game we want to try out is Cranium.

Without further ado, here is that recipe I promised:

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup (from Fine Cooking)

Kosher salt
1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 lb.), cored and cut into 1-1/2-inch florets
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. packed, freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cups grated sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 14 oz.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the cauliflower until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Trim the stems from 18 of the cauliflower pieces and cut the crowns into mini florets about 1/2 inch wide; set aside. Reserve the trimmed stems with the remaining larger pieces.
Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until the aroma subsides, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the flour, nutmeg, and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the broth, cream, and 2 cups water. Add the thyme and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cheese until melted and simmer for 5 minutes to develop the flavors.
Remove and discard the thyme stems and stir in the larger cauliflower pieces and reserved stems. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add the mini cauliflower florets and reheat gently before serving.

***We didn't add mini florets at the end. It was also soupier than we wanted so we added mashed potato flakes to thicken it up. Jaime and I want to try making the soup with some bacon and sausage like potato soup.

What are your favorite games to play when you get together with friends?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Books I Love

I'm a reader. When I have downtime I love to read. Whether it's blogs or books, it helps me to relax so here are my top

1. Bible -- Of course you should know that this is going to be at the top of my list. I am currently on day 10 of The Bible in 90 Days plan. I may not always get to read the Bible every day but that is my goal. There are several places where you can get reading plans but I use YouVersion. I like the catch me up feature on the plans and I love the variety of plans that are available.

2. The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer -- This book is full of hope and thought provoking ideas. It has questions at the end of every section and the end of every chapter, plus a resolution for us as women to make. It is similar to the The Resolution for Men which comes from the movie Courageous (which I also love). This is a book I foresee myself reading repeatedly.


3. Rid of My Disgrace by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb -- This book is a book of hope and healing for victims of sexual assault. This book was recommended to me by my older sister. A fact that few people know about me is that I was molested as a young child (about 3). This is a fact that made relationships for me for a long time. I don't remember much about it, but I still had anxiety at times that once I was told about it made a lot more sense. This book gave me the hope that was promised, and I'm learning to heal.

4. Shared Encouragement from Circle of Friends Ministries -- This book is a daily devotional. I start my day with this book and find encouragement, hope and love in this book for women.


5. Sheparding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp -- This book is full of thoughts about raising a child. We read this in the parent equipping class we had during Wednesday night youth group. This book is honest. It made me laugh, it made me squirm. I still look back to it and refer to it when I'm not sure how to handle an issue as a mother.

6. Delivered with Love by Sherry Kyle -- This is a fiction story but it is heartwarming just the same. I cried with this book, I laughed. It was a good book to curl up in a blanket and read as a storm raged outside earlier this week.

Share your favorite books, fiction or nonfiction, with me. I'm looking for more to add to my ever expanding collection.

God Bless


Turning My Perspective Around

Yesterday I had a turning point.

I was putting away a basket of laundry my husband had brought upstairs the night before while I was at work. As I was putting it away I realized all that was in this basket was my clothes. He had put his away, given Alexis' hers and left mine.

At first I was frustrated. Really, I put his clothes away all the time, never ask him to put them away himself, just do it and do them all. Is it really so hard to take 5 extra minutes and put my clothes away too?

Then I stopped and re-evaluated. Even when we are working all of the time and he is trying to help me, the laundry is something that is mine. Granted it's mine because he takes the clothes out of the dryer and things may still be damp and he just puts them away, folded or hung up, but he tries. So he went out of his way to help me do something.

He didn't have to put away his clothes. He didn't have to give Alexis her clothes and have her put them away. He could have left all of it for me to do. Then, instead of 5 minutes, it would have taken closer to 15. And so I should be grateful for his help, instead of criticizing what he didn't do, or feeling like he didn't do enough.

I'm working very hard at adjusting my perspective. As I was growing up my dad wanted things done completely immediately. This perspective rubbed off on me. However I am trying to adjust this to being appreciative for the help that I receive. It isn't his responsibility to keep the house or help with laundry. It is mine. So anything he does is that much less that I have to do.

I know my husband is trying to adjust to our new dynamic. I have always been home in the evening. I have always been the one to make supper. Now I have nights that I'm working from 4 to 11 and he has to do bedtime and dinner on his own. Wednesday night, while Alexis was at All-Stars, he even brought me supper because what I took wasn't enough to fill me. He is considerate of my needs, especially when I am clear about what those needs are.

As a Christian wife it is important to show that I respect my husband. I can't tear him down because I feel he hasn't done enough. I have to build him up for what he does. In Ephesians 5:33 the Bible says "To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband." (HCSB) God says to respect our husbands and so we must, not based on what he does or doesn't do, not based on if we feel he has or hasn't earned it. It's not my job to judge my husband, it's my responsibility to follow God's commands. And so I need to show this respect by thanking him for what he did do, not criticizing him for what he didn't do.

Have you had a problem with appreciating what is done for you, even if it wasn't ALL done for you? Won't you share with me?

God bless


Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Testimony and more

First of all, I would like to share with you my testimony that is currently featured on Blessed Beyond Measure.

Now I would like to apologize for being missing from cyberspace for so long. Life got crazy busy and I was falling into bed at night with no down time.

I volunteered at my church in the 2nd grade classroom for the first time this past Sunday. They are so sweet and so smart. I'm very glad that this will be a summer thing and not just once or twice. In fact I may work through other classrooms through out the next couple of years. I really feel like God is calling me to help these children and at the same grow through their simple, unwavering trust.

That afternoon, Sunday, Father's Day, we all went out to my parents. Jaime's dad hasn't been around for the last 2 years, didn't come to the wedding or let us know when he moved across the country. So my whole family, from my grandpa down to my nephew, gathered at my parents house. It always makes me smile to have all 4 generations gathered together.

Alexis and I surprised Jaime with an air compressor (or the promise of one anyway). He had been wanting one and so, with the fantastic sale at Lowe's, he finally got one.

Beyond that I have been working, and trying to find permanent, full time work. I love my current part time job, made even better by the fact that it is right across the street and the people are great to work with. But it's not the same as full time work.

I'll try to post again later, in the power of day dreaming and daily bible reading, however I make no promises because I work again tonight and the housekeeping has to be done sometime.

God bless


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning to Live

Yesterday I rejoined the workforce part time. Today I am learning to once again learn to juggle work and home life.

Dishes still need done, laundry is still dirty, meals need made, floors need swept or vacuumed. No magical fairy came in last night after I crawled into bed at 11:30 after my shift and took care of this for me.

However all day it has been all I can do to take care of basic necessities like making cereal for breakfast, driving to swimming lessons, and watching my daughter play. It's like I'm having to learn to live again.

On the plus side these late nights will only occur a couple of times a week. However I'm still pursuing a full time job as well. And my personal opinion is if I can take care of my duties as a mother and a wife while I am working both jobs, great. It will help us get our savings together to have a down payment to buy a house. However my first priority has changed over the last 6 months.

6 months ago I would have said my priority was having money in the savings account and buying a house. My husband could keep house as well as I could. He could make meals, dress our daughter, put her to bed, whatever needed done if I was working. 6 months ago I would have said it doesn't make a difference if I'm keeping house or if he is.

Today my tune is a little different. My first priority is to my husband and daughter. I still believe that my husband can keep house as well as I can. I still believe that to make a house function the best it takes teamwork when both spouses are working. However ultimately the housework is my responsibility. In Proverbs 31:27 it says "She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle" This means it is MY responsibility.

And so I am learning to live and thrive again. This is my verse for today.

How do you juggle all of your responsibilities?

God Bless


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Visiting Grandparents

Last night Jaime, Alexis, my mother-in-law, her boyfriend and I went to visit Jaime's grandparents. They live about 30 minutes away and yet this is the first time I have ever been to their house.

Alexis felt right at home. Whether this was because we told them this was her great-grandparents or because they are so easy to get along with I'm not sure but she immediately started playing with the toys, cuddling with Aunt Shelly, and helping Grandma make supper. I had to smile at how easy she found it to fit right into the family.

Jaime showed me around the property, the gazebo that he helped build, the bushes that he and his cousins ran over that managed to survive (after his grandpa had told me the story of finding the others beat down), the wood shop, the scrape on the house where he ran into it with the lawn mower after running over his grandpa, the 'stream' that was the favorite play spot in summer for all the neighborhood kids. It was fun listening to these stories of his childhood.

We live in his childhood home but I heard more stories last night in a 3 hour visit than I have the last year that we've lived in this house.

We had spaghetti and meatballs with garlic cheese bread for supper. The table wasn't big enough for all of us to sit at so they had a table for Alexis and his grandma and aunt both offered to sit with her. After supper Alexis crawled up onto Grandma's lap and nearly fell asleep until it was time for ice cream sundaes.

Before long it was closing in on bedtime and everyone was ready to go home. And so, home we went, with fond memories made and promises to be back soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Managing a Home

How do you manage your home? Your calendar, your budget, your wishlist items? There are so many things that we as moms are expected to do and be able to say at the drop of a hat that I have gotten overwhelmed.

I have tried to use an old fashioned wall calendar to keep my schedule straight but it never fails that I get asked questions when I'm not at home and can't see my calendar. Scheduling 4H meetings, events with friends, interviews, all these things that I need to be able to see my calendar. So I use Google calendar.

In all honesty I use Google for several things. My email, my blog reader, my calendar, even my documents. All from Google. I use Google Documents for my gift list ideas, my household chore chart, my to do lists, my baby sitter info sheet. It's a great central location, I can print them off, I can even share them with any Google user.

I also have my calendar synced to my smartphone. This allows me to look at my schedule, add things to my schedule and just remember what I have going on no matter where I am at.

My budget I use Budget Simple. This is again an online tool. I have found that online (AKA non paper) tools are the easiest for me to use. This allows you to input your scheduled income and budget your outgo. It does have you set your budget to come out at $0 but you can put whatever excess you have into savings.

I also use Pinterest for birthday party or gift ideas. I love the idea of an online bulletin board. I use this for craft ideas, gift ideas, recipes, home decor that I love. If you haven't joined yet you do need an invitation. Leave me a comment with your email and I'll send you an invite!

I'm not perfect and I'm still learning the best ways to keep my family organized but so far, these are my favorite places. How do you do it all, Super Mom?

God Bless


Busy Life

It has been a busy few days, with today being no exception.

We had dance recital all weekend that kept me super busy. Alexis performed in both shows so I volunteered at the second show to help out so other parents could enjoy the show. Alexis was happy and excited.

Monday and Tuesday were filled with swimming lessons, reclaiming the house, and trying to fit in a little bit of summer schoolwork. Alexis is doing well with reading daily and the math website the school provides is wonderful.

Today is interviews (Thank You God for hearing my prayers to find me a job) and then visiting Jaime's grandparents for supper.

I'm working hard to make time for gratitude, meditation, and growing as a mother and wife. Hopefully tomorrow will be slower to make time for a longer post.

God Bless