Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My sick little girl

Ada had her very first sick pediatrician appointment today. And she was not too happy about it. If you will recall, our last well visit did not go so well. Ada was terrified of everything. Well, I am convinced that Ada remembered the doctor because as soon as he walked into the room today, Ada began to absolutely flip out. Flip out. She grabbed onto my shirt so tightly, that Scott had to peel her off of me. She needed to lie down on the table for him to check her ears, nose, and throat. In the midst of her screaming, she kept shaking her head saying no, a word that she knows so well. Fairly quickly, I was able to pick her up and hold her for the rest of the examination, but she didn't calm down until we were out of the office. It was not good, and I was so very thankful that today was Scott's work from home day, and he was able to go with us. I needed moral support!

I mentioned that she has had a cold all week, which made for a stressful visit home. She didn't sleep very well at night, and she took very short morning naps. She has stayed in a terrible mood, at times crying for no apparent reason, and I have been unable to comfort her. When this continued this morning, I decided to take her to the doctor for my peace of mind. Sure enough, she has an ear infection, which I think explains the cranky mood. The doctor prescribed ear drops and an antibiotic. Scott and I laughed because the antibiotic had a warning that it would interfere with birth control. I think Ada would have been okay without the warning:) Question for moms out there, will the antibiotic give her a yeast infection? I don't know if it has that affect on 13 month old little girls. I want to be prepared for that, and I wonder if there are ways to prevent that from happening. It will make me so sad if she ends up with a yeast infection. Seriously, mom readers, any advice, previous experience with antibiotics, etc? I will be sure to feed her lots of yogurt just in case.

So...13 months into life, and she is officially sick for the first time. Of course, she has had several colds, but this is the first time she has had to go to the doctor for any reason other than a routine visit. A rite of passage, I suppose.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Finally...my little girl

Remember this hair...

It has turned into this...

we unexpectedly traveled home this past week. My parents were in Marietta for a funeral, and Ada's photography session was cancelled at the last minute (our photographer is pregnant and on bed rest). We found all of this out Wednesday morning. Ada and I quickly packed our bags--or I tried to pack faster than Ada could unpack, and, by some miracle, we made it to Marietta by lunch time. There my mom got in the car with me, and we headed to Scottsboro for a few days. Ada ended up with a terrible cold, which resulted in terrible sleep, which resulted in the attitude you see below...
She wanted the camera, and, obviously, I wouldn't give it to her.

Playing so hard with toys that I used to play with as a child.

I have just finished tutoring, and I am exhausted. I am sure, if you are a faithful reader, you have noticed my lack of blogging lately. The tutoring is really taking away from my blogging time. Even now, I am dying to get off the computer and relax, but even more than that, I was dying to post these long overdue photos.

I will be back soon with more of an update from our trip home, and updates on life in general. I hope everyone had a great weekend and a great Monday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Life as a working mom...sort of

Well, the tutoring started this week, and it has been quite the adjustment. Scott and I feel like we are running a relay race. He gets home from work, and I pass him the Ada baton as he passes me the work baton. I try to have dinner in the oven when he gets home, I then go for a quick run to get some fresh air before sitting in front of the computer for four hours, and he begins Ada duty and all that it entails. After running, I shower, and plant myself in front of the computer for the rest of the night. Scott gets dinner out of the oven and brings me a plate to eat while I tutor. He does bath and bed duty as well as most of the kitchen clean up. He always brings Ada to see me for a little while before he puts her to bed. Then at 9:30ish, depending on the current tutoring session, I am done for the night, and we finally sit down together to enjoy some mutal down time. It is exhausting, but so encouraging to know that extra money is now coming in. And, praise God, I am able to work and stay at home with Ada. We can't describe how thankful we are.

Next week I will be adding some in-home tutoring to the mix, which I am even more excited about. I love the thought about an actual student, an actual personality, not just words on the screen. Plus in-home tutoring pays quite a bit more than online tutoring. So of course we are thankful for that. It is quite the juggle for us right now, but it is just a season, and we are thankful for this season. Plus it has been very fun for me to begin to talk English again, with students. Real students, writing essays. I love it.

p.s. we switched the menu around and had the zucchini pie tonight. We loved it. Another hit from Pillsbury. We thought it was heavy enough for the main dish. So yummy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Monday

which means it's time for the week's menu. We are using a lot of what we already have in the pantry because I spent a chunk of the week's budget on some great non-food items at CVS. I stocked up on Purex laundry detergent. Purex was on sale for 2.99, I had coupons for .50 off, and I received one extra buck for each bottle I purchased. So, I purchased three bottles for 7.50, and I got 3.00 to use on my next CVS purchase. Almay and Covergirl make up was also on sale, and I had coupons, so I stocked up on those as well. Plus I received 3 extra bucks for the cover girl makeup. And I bought a huge thing of Scott paper towels on sale+coupons+extra bucks. It was a good CVS run. All of that to say, our menu is rather boring and repetitive. But we won't go hungry:)

Remember, I start on Fridays.

Friday night--dinner out with Scott and Ada

Saturday--grill out at a friend's house, dinner whatever we can find (weren't super hungry after the big lunch)

Sunday--Shane's Barbecue for lunch, whatever we can find for dinner (again, full from lunch)

Monday--grilled hotdogs, need to use up from last week

Tuesday--bean soup, again using what we already have

Wednesday--leftovers or veggie stir fry and fried rice (note: though this is always on the menu as a back up plan, we haven't actually eaten it in a few weeks. This week we plan to actually eat it)

Thursday--Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie (had a can of crescent rolls in the fridge). The only new recipe I am trying this week. We will most likely eat this with broccoli and some sort of bread.

Lunches--PB&J and dinner leftovers

Breakfast--kashi waffles (my freezer is still stocked from the great Target sale), south beach bars, pop tarts (again, leftover from great Target sale), and whatever else we can find.

Snacks--yogurt, chex mix (leftover from last week's sale), multi grain cheerios (Ada), peanut butter and crackers

As always, find more great meal ideas at organizing junkie.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why I am a stay at home mom: Part 2

I said in my last SAHM installment that I would tell about college next, but I realized there is not much to say that is significant. In college I thought that it would be so much fun to be a wife and mom--full time. That's just what I thought. I wasn't thinking through everything very well because I also thought that it would be fun to somehow (this is an impossible thought!!) to stay in school forever, get my PhD and teach at the college level. Turns out I wasn't cut out for that:) But I loved the education part of college; I truly did, and I am not sure why it never crossed my mind that I might struggle with staying at home one day. Honestly, I think in the back of my mind actually making it to marriage and motherhood seemed such a foreign concept, that I always let myself only dwell on what was feasible without a man being interested in me. And if I did think about marriage and children, it was all this perfect little fantasy world that I created. See this post for more details on that.

Anyway...it wasn't until I found myself six months into marriage, loving my job as a teacher to my crazy students, and unexpectedly pregnant, that I was forced to really examine the issue. For me it was never a question as to whether or not I would stay at home, but I did need to have a good grasp on the biblical reasons why I thought I should stay at home because my flesh was not wanting to give up the fulfillment of a job and a paycheck. And, honestly, because of my sinful flesh, I have to go back to these verses over and over and over everyday in order to find joy in motherhood. I love Ada. She is the most precious thing to me. I find such delight in being her mom and watching her play and loving on her, but, and this is a big but, I get very lonely and isolated and I often don't feel very important. And then I look at these verses. And there really isn't anything more important than raising children.

Before I discuss these verses please know that I am certainly no theologian and I am not even a very experienced mom. I am mom to one 13 month old. I have SO MUCH MORE to learn!!!!!!!!! But, I can at least pass these verses on, so that if someone is wanting to search the scriptures for what God has to say about parenting, well here is a start. Everything else that I say is just my opinion that I have come to after studying these and praying. Please know that the only truth I know is the word of God. How I have interpreted these scriptures is not truth. It is simply my interpretation.

Here goes.

Psalm 51:5-6 says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

David writes this after Nathan confronts him about his relationship with Bathsheba. To me, it is just one verse that points out the truth, that the tiny, precious baby that you first meet in the hospital, is born in iniquity and in sin. That baby is sinful by nature. Before he or she can even speak or act, he or she is sinful. And God desires truth and wisdom in the heart of that child.

Then Proverbs 22:15 says Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

However the rod is interpreted, one thing is clear here, a child must be disciplined in order for folly to be driven out of his or her heart. Discipline is a tool that God uses to establish truth and wisdom in the heart of a child.

Deut. 6:4-9 says Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

My version, I have to be teaching my children to love the Lord with all of their heart soul and might ALL OF THE TIME. When we sit and rise and lie down and walk and ALL OF THE TIME. And then teach it some more. I have a 13 month old--13 months. And already, she loves Ada with all of her heart, soul, and might. She wants what is best for Ada. What is most comfortable and fun for Ada. And she wants it right when the desire hits. Someone has to drive that folly out of her heart. I believe that I (along with Scott, of course) am the tool that God will use to drive that folly away. To replace that love for Ada with a love for God. I want to teach it so much that Ada gets tired of hearing it, and then I want to teach it some more. And at 13 months, we wake up, and she starts testing the boundaries--most days it is a constant testing of boundaries, and it is mostly maddening, to be honest. But I must be diligent and consistent, and that is what we do all day. I believe training begins at day one. She is born in iniquity!!! And I must teach her ALWAYS.

Finally, Titus 2:3-5 says, Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Okay, so as a woman, and a mother, what are my biblical responsibilities. Well first and foremost, I must pray for wisdom and discernment and guidance that I might drive that folly out of little Ada's heart. That I might teach her in such a way that she understands her need, her desperate need, to love God with all of her heart and soul and might. I am to work at home. I mean, it's right there, folks. I have to be a worker at home. Now, what this looks like--I don't know. If a person can make those two things a priority and still work outside of the home, so be it. I cannot. Honestly, I am not so good at teaching Ada and working at home even without an outside job. And I am praying diligently that the Lord would show me how to manage this new tutoring job. I firmly believe that it cannot take precedent over my primary role as mother and wife.

I know that it is often said that a person can't afford to stay at home, and I know that might be true. This is what Scott and I had to ask ourselves when we felt that we could honestly say we couldn't afford it. What can we not afford? Is what we can't afford an absolute necessity? And again, I have to ask myself, what will bring the most glory to God? That is the ultimate question. I want Scott's life to glorify God, my life to glorify God, and Ada's life to glorify God. Practically, what does that look like. In what way is God leading us to live in order for that to happen. At times when I was teaching, I--Laura Beth--felt very glorified, and it was fun. I liked praise. Don't we all? And, of course, there was much about my teaching job that glorified God as well. We are always to work as if working for the Lord. For me, looking at all aspects of our situation, was I to work outside of the home, I would most likely not be working as if working for the Lord. Again, this is just my story. And ya'll, God has provided. He has abundantly provided. Our budget is so stinking tight, and the majority of the time we aren't sure how it's all going to get paid for--BUT IT DOES. God provides in abundance. And now, when things are even tighter, he has provided work that allows me to continue to stay at home. It is one day at at time. He promises daily bread for this day. God shows up to meet my physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. He shows up every time.

And, I am so far from arriving. I am not good with submission, I am not good at housekeeping, I am not good at teaching and training, and I am not good at much. My sinful nature shows up over and over throughout the day. Scott laughs at the word kind in the verse from Titus. I am most often not kind. All I can do is pray that God does his thing--reconciles me to Christ--changes me--shapes me--makes me a new creation in Him. And I am desperate for him to do the training of Ada for me. I am just a vessel. That is all. Apart from him, Ada and I are helpless, absolutely helpless.

More verses worth checking out: Deut. 4:9-10, Deut. 6:6-9, Deut. 11:18-19, Prov. 13:24, 19:18, 22:6, 22:15, 22:13-14, 29:15, 29:17, 14:1, 31:27, 6:20, Eph. 6:1-4, Col. 3:21, Titus 2:3-5, Psalms 51:5, 1 Sam. 3:13

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Glory Hallelujah, the hours are rolling in

You are reading the blog of a working woman, guys. 18 HOURS next week!! With tutor.com. After being employed with Educate Online since February and getting ZERO!!! hours for the past month or so, Scott and I are in amazement that I have hours. Glorious, glorious hours. And I will be tutoring actual English students. Helping with essays and such. It is going to be crazy for a while, working so many hours at night, but my pay check will be directly deposited into our savings account and once the emergency fund builds up and the debt snowball gets rolling, I will cut back a lot. Ten hours a week is the eventual goal. Two hours right when Scott gets home is the plan. And, I set my own schedule every Friday, so this week I am working 18 hours. If we find that 18 hours is just not doable, then I can take less next week. I am just thankful to have them. So thankful. I feel like doing a victory dance, and we can see the light at the end of the financial tunnel. Plus, if things get super tight again, I can work as many as 30 hours one week if absolutely needed. It's just nice to have something to fall back on. And because I make my schedule every Friday, I can schedule hours around any clients that I get through Club Z Tutoring. There is no doubt--God is faithful.

Friday afternoon I was have a particularly down moment. I was sitting on the kitchen floor and Ada was playing, so oblivious to our financial woes, and I just began to pray out loud, asking for some sort of encouragement. Anything. And I went upstairs, put Ada down for her nap, and I sat down to check my e-mail. According to Tutor.com, it would take 30 days for all of my paperwork to go through, and yet, after two days there sat an e-mail telling me that I could schedule hours. And schedule I did. We are beyond encouraged.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's the real issue here?

I have noticed something since getting married, money, or lack there of, really allows heart sin to rise to the surface. Money has a way of making things easier, happier, and covering those things that we don't want to deal with. Take the money away, and I am forced to face my issues. Money has a way of padding the real issues. Making life a little more comfy.

It's no secret that, for us, money is scarce these days. Thankfully, one of the reasons it is so scarce is because we are (finally) getting responsible with our spending and realizing what we can and can't afford. And in the process, I am being broken, and (please God) changed.

I am currently reading A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God, and in his book he writes,

There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution, (30-31).

Well, there you have it, folks, the state of my heart. Always wanting to possess things. Always looking for what will be most comfortable. Willing to do whatever it takes to be comfortable. ALWAYS forgetting that it is God, and God only, that completes me, fills that longing, that God-shaped hole. This week as Ada and I spent lots of time at home, unable to run to the store for this or that, unable to drive through Sonic for a quick diet coke to get me through the afternoon, I was forced to really evaluate what my needs are. And, wow, are my needs met. If we are only talking about needs, well, my cup runneth over!! My pantry is stocked full of good, healthy food. I have a closet full of clothing. I have a comfortable home. And yesterday, Ada and I headed out for a walk to "town" to buy a diet coke. I am healthy, with two working legs, that can get me where I need to go. I tend to have such a distorted view of what I really, really need. Oh, Lord, please change me. Give me a glimpse of the wealth that I possess.

Yes, I am learning to be frugal out of necessity, but I pray that the changes that I am making will always be around, even years down the road when Lord willing, money isn't quite so scarce. I am reminded that God works all things for my good. And by good, I think he means, he works all things together to sanctify me. Because that is my ultimate good--sanctification--a life that glorifies him. So, he uses these little insignificant things, like no gas money or not shopping at the stores I want to shop at, to create in me a heart that glorifies him.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wonderful, Wonderful Wednesday

I am nearing the end of my carless week, and it hasn't been nearly as bad as expected. I will back tomorrow to tell you all the things I have learned about myself and saving money during my time at home.

Before that, though, I have to tell you about my unexpected treat in the middle of the week. As you know if you have been reading my blog for a while, I LOVE fountain diet coke. I like diet coke out of a can, but there is something about diet coke from a fountain that just makes my life complete. I love it. And normally Ada and I go to Sonic happy hour everyday when she wakes up from her nap for an 86 cent large diet coke. I look forward to it all day. Obviously we did not go to Sonic this week, and I was having fountain diet coke withdrawals. Not to mention that I am drastically cutting down on my diet coke consumption, so we really didn't have any in the house either. Pair all of this with yet another door to door guy trying to sale me a vacuum (he somehow manipulated himself into my house and stayed for over an hour--I promise, I don't know how he got in) and I was in desperate need of something last night.

Well, in addition to all of the above, we were out of milk. And Ada really doesn't go to bed without her milk. So...when Scott got home from work, he loaded Ada and me into his car--our first time in a car since Sunday!!!--and we went through the McDonald's drive through to purchase two milks and a large diet coke. My hero hubby. All paid for with gathered change. It made my day. In fact, it made my entire week. And it was just what I needed to get me through the Wednesday hump.

To top it ALL off, we had a wonderful dinner waiting on us when we got back to the house--16 bean soup that had been simmering all day in the crock pot. Ya'll, it was so yummy. We all three agreed. Ada ate her weight in beans last night, I think. She loved it. We loved it. And it was actually gray and cool outside. Perfect bean soup weather. Remember, I got this idea from Crockpot 365--please check out this blog!!!

Here is what I did.

I bought a bag of 16 bean soup from the bean aisle at Kroger, for less than 2.00. I dumped that bag into the crockpot yesterday morning. I added a packet of french onion soup mix, and a handful of onions from a bag in the freezer. I then covered the beans in water. At this point I was racking my brain because I knew that ham was supposed to go into bean soup, but I didn't have any. What I did have, however, was some uncooked bacon in the fridge that needed to be used. I cut up three large pieces of uncooked bacon and dumped them in the soup, and I let it cook on low all day. I checked it periodically, and when the water was soaked up, I just added more. The soup was very creamy and full of flavor. And oh so cheap. Right now we are contemplating eating it every week. I am sure we will rethink that, though.

Seriously, you need to try this recipe. And for more crockpot cooking, check out Slow Cooker Thursdays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why I am a stay at home mom--an introduction

I had someone ask me to explain my thought process in choosing to stay at home with Ada and the adjustments (and struggles!!!) that I faced along the way. I am both excited and nervous to write about this because I want to only provide encouragement in my answer. I have realized since becoming a mom that women are very opinionated, and we like to share our opinions. I am no exception. This can, however, be discouraging at times, and I am a firm believer that moms (and women) in general need major encouragement not discouragement. So let me say before I even begin this topic that no matter what choice you make--stay at home, work part time, work full time, whatever, it is just plain hard to be a mom. I don't think one group has it harder or easier than the other group, and nothing I write is meant to tear down or discourage, it is simply my testimony of how I ended up a stay at home mom. Furthermore, I think that all moms should support and encourage one another. We need it so badly. And I think that a working mom can encourage me and hopefully I can encourage a working mom.

I also want to say that my convictions are my convictions. I believe they are biblical. I have prayed over them and searched the scriptures. I want to encourage others to do just that. Don't think that I am telling you to do exactly what I have done. I am not telling you that. I am telling you, and I think anyone would agree with this, to take no decision lightly. Whether it be working, staying at home, marriage, children, birth control, your children's education, whatever the decision, I think all need to be prayed about, discussed, thought about. See for yourself what the scriptures have to say. Pray for wisdom and discernment and then make your decision. This is why I always say we (Scott and I) are desperate for wisdom and discernment because I certainly don't know if we are always making the right decisions. But I do believe God honors a heart that is earnestly seeking his will. So that is my prayer, that I would earnestly seek his will.

So, this is how I became a stay at home mom.

As I have mentioned before, my mother stayed at home. Always, until my youngest sister was a senior in high school, and then she went to work at a friend's frame shop. My mom is an artist. She has a degree in graphic design from Auburn, and there were times when I was growing up that she did jobs here and there. Art lessons, portraits, book illustrations, etc. Much like I am taking on some tutoring jobs. They all lasted for a season. They were short lived. For the most part, my mom's job was being our mom. I don't know that my parents ever instructed me that I needed to stay at home one day, but I do know that my mom staying at home hugely shaped my views on motherhood and the role of women. I say all that because I don't know what my perspective would be like had my mom worked. I can only tell my story from this perspective. And from this perspective, my mom stayed at home.

And that is just the beginning of my story. Next time I will fast forward to college and my fantasy years. You know, I have written about it before. When I thought that the city and fashion and marriage and children all magically worked together to form a perfect, romantic life. Ha.

What our life looks like with no cable

Scott and I are not the typical couple to not have cable. We really like television. A lot. We really look forward to 7:00, when dinner is eaten and the dishwasher is loaded, Ada is bathed and in bed, and we can crash onto the couch for some much needed down time.

However, when we moved into the new house, we decided to try living without cable. Instead we bought an antennae at Wal-Mart (or somewhere) and we get a few major channels through that. Enough to watch The Today Show, some football, and the main weeknight shows. Because Ada is, well, Ada, our downstairs antennae is fairly torn up. I am probably not as diligent as I should be about telling her not touch it because I HATE having it in our living room. It just doesn't go with the rest of the decor if you know what I mean. So maybe I secretly hope she tears it up. And I secretly hope we end up having to get cable. But, for now, we just watch a lot of fuzzy Today Show in the mornings.

The antennae upstairs, however, is in perfect condition, and we get very clear, HD clear, NBC. Tonight was the premier of The Biggest Loser, which we LOVE!!!, so we wanted to watch it on the HD clear channel. Problem is, that television is in our empty office sitting on a lonely little shelf, the single piece of furniture in the room. Scott watches it when he works from home on Tuesdays. Remember the air mattress that Scott thought would be a good solution for our master bedroom? Well, we decided to blow it up, get some pillows, and sit on it to watch The Biggest Loser. So there we sat tonight, in an empty room, on an air mattress, watching a channel brought to us by an ugly, ugly antennae. Oh the price we pay for saving money.

By the way, The Biggest Loser looks promising. I get so excited at the end when they show the transformation. I gasp in excitement every time. Never fails.

My Stir Fry Recipe and an update on our attempt to stay at home

Okay, I have had several people ask about my fried rice and stir fry recipe, which I posted in my comment section, but I have decided to actually post the recipe in case someone didn't find it in the comments.

I always cook the rice the night before. For me, this seems to be key. So whenever I am cooking dinner, I just add a pot of rice to the preparation, and then I transport it into a sealed container and stick it in the fridge.

The following night, I put a little extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) into the skillet and I dump the rice in. Then I push the rice aside and add one beaten egg that I just cook along with the rice. I also add a pack of fried rice seasoning that I buy in the asian section of the grocery store. I buy the cheapest brand. I also sometimes add a little bit of soy sauce. In the meantime, in another skillet I add more EVOO and add frozen broccoli, onions, and peppers. I used to use a frozen asian mix of vegetables, but I am allergic to the peas, so no more. I add a packet of stir fry seasoning and soy sauce to the vegetables, and I cook until they are as tender as we want them. I cook the rice until it is slightly crispy. Then I serve the vegetables on top of the rice. It is very good and very easy. We use whole grain rice, and it tastes as good as white to me.

For other kitchen tips, go here or here.

As for other Tuesday thoughts--It was in the 60s this morning. The 60s. Things like the weather turning cooler during the week that Ada and I are stuck at home reminds me that God is personal and he cares about my daily stuff. Ada and I desperately need to be able to get outside this week, and I hate taking her out in the heat. The highs this week are in the upper 70s. Upper 70s!!!! Thank you, Lord for the little details. The little ways that you meet my needs. We already went on a walk/jog this morning, and, who knows, we might go for a second one this afternoon.

We made it through one day at home, and it wasn't terrible. Today's task is to get the master bed and bath clean, so there is a whole list of things to occupy my time. Things are looking up. We can do this--no problem.

p.s. We had the taco bake last night, and it was a huge hit. You should try it. Super easy, fairly cheap, and so good.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our Dave Weekend and my attempt to STAY AT HOME this week!!

Well, as promised, I am here to report on our Dave Ramsey LIVE experience. It was quite the experience. People were fired up about Dave Ramsey, and the man next to us, the man who sat right next to us, despite the hundreds of empty spots all over the auditorium, asked us if this was our first time. We, of course, answered yes, as we are new Dave followers, and the implication seemed to be that many people hear Dave Ramsey live any chance they get. It is like this exclusive club that I knew nothing about until a few months ago. Only you don't have to be high society to get into this club, you just have to be like millions of other Americans--in debt, any amount of debt, and ready to do whatever it takes to get out of it. One baby step at a time.

Dave is very funny in person. His jokes were somewhat cheesy but not so cheesy that they weren't funny. I found myself laughing often. He is very captivating. And he has quite the following. It was fascinating to hear his story of how he ended up bankrupt with a toddler and brand new baby. That's enough to encourage Scott and me!! It could be worse. So much worse. And I have to say that though his method is a tough pill to swallow, I believe whole heartedly that it works, and we plan to do whatever it takes no matter how long it takes us to climb out of this situation one tiny, tiny step at a time. I don't know that he said anything that I hadn't already read in his book, but to be surrounded by that many people who are as determined as we are to stop believing the lies of our society and start being responsible with money is quite motivating and encouraging and inspiring. So, we walked away with new determination. And our first test comes this week. Aghhh....of course my resolve is already being tested.

Our first step before we can do anything is to set a budget and, here's the catch, STICK TO IT!!! NO MATTER WHAT. As in, we used way more gasoline than usual this weekend, gas prices are insane because of Hurricane Ike, the gas light is on, and we have already used the allotted gas money for the week. Yet, we stick to the budget no matter what. So Ada and I are looking at a lot of time at home this week. God does have the sense of humour doesn't He? I just posted about how I am praying that he give me a heart for being at home. So, he says okay, I will take away your transportation so you have no choice. What do you think? Can I do it? Literally not use my car until Friday when the gas budget starts over? I know this, that if I wake up Friday morning and I have managed to stick to it, I will feel empowered and it will probably be just the "fuel" I need to continue to stick to this thing. One baby step at a time. Baby step one--don't put gasoline in the car when there is no money in the gasoline budget. I am thankful that I had Dave Ramsey, in person, to motivate me like crazy before I faced this challenge. I am not good at staying at home. I am not good at sticking to the budget. And these are the things that got us in the situation in the first place. I am changing my ways, people. Changing my ways.

So, the plan, lots of cleaning. My house desperately needs a good cleaning. I am making it happen this week. Lots of walks and Tae Bo. So not only am I setting a goal of no gasoline, I am also setting a goal of at least losing one pound this week, so that I can say good-bye to those last few baby pounds once and for all. And of course, lots of hanging out with Ada. Just hanging out and playing and being together. And naps. Hopefully lots of naps. Our cupboards are stocked, I have lots on my to do list, and I certainly wouldn't call this suffering, so here goes. My first test. I can do this!!

So do I recommend Dave Ramsey LIVE? For sure. It is quite the motivating experience. We are so thankful that we got to go. God has given us such gracious friends. Thanks a million guys!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I am typing this on Thursday night with plans to post it on Monday. I need to organize my thoughts and coupons and lists and everything else, and what better way to do it than on my blog. I am sitting in our living room with a million coupons all around me. I have lofty plans to get super coupon organized this weekend. We'll see how that goes. I have scanned several store circulars and matched coupons and added up the dollars, and this is what I have come up with. And, by the way, I am exhausted and ready for bed.

I actually start my menu on Friday because Friday is pay day and when I shop. Friday mornings to be exact. Remember to go to menu planning Monday for more great dinner ideas.

Friday--grilled hot dogs, baked beans, chips

Saturday--dinner out with Scott

Sunday--frozen pizza (we have community group on Sunday nights, so this is what we always do).

Monday--16 bean soup, corn dog muffins (we had too many leftovers last week for me to ever make this recipe)

Tuesday--leftovers and/or chicken tetrazzini from the freezer, lima beans, rolls of some sort

Wednesday--leftovers and/or Turkey Bacon wraps and chips

Thursday--Taco Bake (this could change at the last minute. We'll see)

Breakfast--Kashi waffles (BIG sale at Target), South Beach Bars (BIG sale at Walgreens + coupons), yogurt (Kroger sale + coupons), multi grain cheerios (Kroger sale + coupons)

Lunch--PB & J, chex mix (sale + coupons), string cheese, yogurt (coupon), leftovers, fiber one bars (coupon), pasta salad made with multi grain pasta (coupon) with added protein (yummy, healthy, and fairly cheap), and any combination of the above that we feel like eating. Some of these things will also serve as afternoon snacks. I am more of a five small meals person than a 3 normal sized meals person, so I have to have my snacks. It's the blood sugar thing.

I am also purchasing some Pillsbury cookie dough which is on sale B1G1 plus I have a coupon. We will pull that out if we need a treat one night. Sarah will be in town this weekend, so I wanted to make sure we had something fun to eat while she so graciously watches Ada.

I always keep the "fixings" for fried rice and stir fry in the cabinets and fridge in case I change my mind about anything at the last minute. I am prone to do that from time to time. We'll see how it all goes. We are crossing our fingers for a super low grocery bill. Yikes. We'll see.

One last thing--I still have plenty of diapers, yea, and I already purchased milk for the week. And, of course, no diet coke.

UPDATE: One, I am actually posting this on Sunday night, but you get the idea. The point is to be organized for the week ahead. Our grocery bill came to about 74.00, which was more than I hoped for, but still good for a week's worth of food. I am working on getting it even lower. I did save 40.00 with coupons and my Kroger card. I worked hard to combine coupons with things that were already on sale.

I will be back tomorrow to post on Saturday's exciting Dave event. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Little Bit of Friday Frugality (is that a word?)

It's frugal Friday, folks, which means it's time for me to report on all the ways I saved money this week. Well, I am taking it a step further and telling you how I MADE money this week. I am so proud of myself.

While we wait for my tutoring jobs to kick in (we laugh because I am currently employed with THREE tutoring companies, but I am getting zero hours) we are getting super creative with our money, trying to make it stretch as far as possible. And Dave says that we have to be intense about this. Get serious. Get angry, he says. And he also tells us to sell stuff. Well, every time I read that or hear that, I think, "we have absolutely nothing to sell." Or nothing that I am willing to sell--such as my china or silver--the two nice things we own:). Then I read this blog post over here, and I decided to try to sell my books. At first I just tried to sell books that I don't want anymore. And then I started thinking about the fact that I am not teaching anymore, won't be back in the classroom anytime soon, and plan to use classical curriculum with my own children, so I have no need for all my old college books. This is when the money started rolling in. Remember at the end of each semester when it was time to sell back books? I loved that part of the semester. This was that same feeling. And I just went crazy, and sold almost all of the books in our home. This is why we have a library, right? If I want to read it I can check it out. And one day, when we are debt free, which we are hoping we will be in just a few short years, I can buy all of these books back through Amazon. For a fraction of the original cost.

So, I packed all of the books up into an empty pampers box, covered it in packing paper, and attached the provided shipping label. Then came the hard part--getting it to the post office. This box was full of things like, The Complete Works of Shakespeare. The COMPLETE works--that's a lot of book, and that was just one of many in the box. I managed, however, to get the box down the stairs and into my car. Then when we got to the post office, I loaded the box in the stroller and carried Ada in. At this point I was stuck and didn't know how to hold Ada and put the box on the counter at the same time. The sweet mail lady suggested I sit Ada on the counter, she would make sure Ada didn't fall off, and I could lift the box. Well, the second I let go of Ada and the mail lady put her hand on Ada's back, Ada went crazy crying at the top of her lungs in a very quiet post office. So...the sweet mail lady came around the counter, unloaded the box for me, and I carried a screaming, trembling Ada out of the post office. And now I just wait for my check. With every week that passes I get thriftier and thriftier.

For more great money saving tips, check out Frugal Fridays.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My favorite easy winter recipe and a tale of how low I will go to save a buck

Let's start with the recipe so that I can save myself humiliation for a little longer.

Taco Soup or Santa Fe Soup, whichever you prefer. This is a common recipe that I am sure many of you already make, but I LOVE it when it is cold outside and there is football on tv and a fire in the fireplace. So cozy. Plus it makes a huge batch and freezes well. It doesn't get much better than that.

2 lbs ground beef
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans pinto beans
1 can ro-tel tomatoes
2 cans shoe peg corn
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix

Cook ground beef. Dump all ingredients in a large pot or crock pot, and cook until heated through. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and corn chips (I prefer fritos scoops--yum, yum).

Just typing this recipe makes me want to cook this soup, and it's hot outside!!

For more slow cooker recipes, check out Diary of a SAHM.

And here is the sad, sad tale of frugal little me trying to save a few pennies.

I am fairly new to the whole couponing thing, and I have read in multiple places that to get lots of coupons, I need to go to the local recycling center. In my mind, I think I pictured nice stacks of newspapers ready to be recycled, you know something, well, dignified. So earlier this week, I googled Henry County recycling center, I got directions, and off Ada and I go, happy as can be, with visions of lots and lots of saved money in my future. Turns out, the recycling center is just a row of big dumpsters, and to retrieve these wonderful coupons, I have to dig into the dumpster in hopes of finding what I am looking for. So the first day I go, I get out of the car, leave it running with Ada still buckled in, and I grab what I can reach. I get home, and I have nothing good. All of the coupons that I did manage to find were expired months ago. Defeat.

Well, I decide to give it another go, and Ada and I headed back to the recycling center today. When we pulled up, there were several men a few dumpsters down, most likely bringing things to recycle. I briefly debated if I should leave, rather than "dumpster dive" in front of these men, but I decided to swallow my pride, and I got out of the car ready to find some great coupons. Again, I walked away with NOTHING. Has anyone else used the recycling center as a place for free coupons. Am I doing this wrong? I am not ready to give up, but I can only dig through that dumpster so many times with nothing to show for it before I say forget it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MUCH needed Ada update

As I was walking around Target just a few minutes ago--all by myself!!!--my thoughts began to wander, and I realized that this blog is in desperate need of an Ada update, my little girl who is leaving babyhood behind right before my eyes.

She is such a girly girl, this daughter of mine, and I can't imagine that she would be any other way, considering that my attempt at being a tomboy when I was young was to request the American Girl doll, Molly, who seemed more tomboyish than all the others. In hindsight, I don't think ordering a doll was going to help my attempts to become a tomboy. But this is not an update on me.

Things about Ada that are so very girly

1. she loves shoes. loves them. She particularly loves the squeaky shoes given to her by her aunt Ann. When she wakes up in the morning, sometimes wearing only a diaper and the shirt she slept in, she immediately finds her shoe and brings it to me for me to put it on her, and then she stomps around the house as hard as she can in order to produce as much squeak as possible. The shoes are still a bit too big, which adds to the comedy of it all. If the squeaky shoes are unavailable for some reason, she will settle for whatever shoe she can find. Even mismatched ones. But she has to have her shoes.

2. She loves her babies and stuffed animals, and she loves to "love" them, which is the word we use for her cuddling them close to her neck like an itty bitty newborn baby. Just the way I used to do with her. We will say, "love your baby, Ada," and she immediately hugs it so tight and sways back and forth for extra cuddle.

3. She is beginning to like dress up of all kinds. For example, she likes to put on several bibs at once and hats and shirts. She comes up with some odd concoction of an outfit and then prances around as if it is the most fashionable thing ever worn. So funny.

4. And, well, her emotions are nothing but girl. Things are always a big deal. She is either oh so happy or pitching a fit. There is never in between.

Other Ada things to record.

She is getting a bit of an attitude that is driving me CRAZY. Anything that I am eating or drinking or doing she wants to eat or drink or do, and she lets me know by pointing and grunting. Which I think is unacceptable. We are really working on the signs for more and please, because I don't like the tone of that grunt. And then if I don't immediately give in to her wishes, she breaks down into sobs as if I have permanently damaged her world. She is so mistreated. Lives such a hard life. Ha.

But she is also such a delight. She gets so excited when she sees me in the morning, and if we are watching baby shakespeare (a baby einstein video full of delightful poetry), she cuddles up into my lap, and I just love it so much. She is thrilled when Scott gets home in the afternoons, running to the door to greet him. And when he picks her up for a hug, she pats him on the back several times as if to comfort him. And she loves to dance. Loves it. She has learned how to turn the music on with all of her toys, so throughout the day, she randomly hits the music buttons, and dances. When the music stops she just repeats the process over and over and over. And she twirls and sways and squats. Whatever best matches the rhythm of the music or her current mood.

She loves to eat beans. All kinds of beans, but she spit out the broccoli that I gave her tonight. She makes her likes and dislikes very clear. And finally she is sleeping through the night on a very regular basis. I didn't know if we would ever reach this point, and I am not sure how we did reach this point, but here we are. And I am thankful for the sleep.

And I am thankful, oh so thankful, for my little precious Ada who just fills my day with so much love and laughter and frustration. My precious, precious Ada. My firstborn.

Tucked into the house on this gray, gray day

There is something about gray clouds on the horizon and the hint of drizzle that comforts me these days. Lately I am really praying that the Lord give me a heart for being at home. I mean that literally. Not like, give me a heart for being a stay at home mom, but give me heart for just staying put during the day. Not having to be on the go just to get through the long hours of the day. I am praying that I would be content to just go through the daily routine and not have to constantly be thinking of things to do outside of the home. I want to find joy and peace and purpose in my home. I want to learn how to thrive with Ada underfoot. I want to not be frustrated when my cleaning efforts are slowed because Ada thinks it is fun to unfold all of the folded clothes. I just want to relax and enjoy being at home with Ada who will only be small for such a short, short time. Just yesterday she looked like this,
and now she is walking and dancing and giggling and becoming a little girl, so I want to learn to love being at home with her doing the housewife and mom thing and just be happy at home as so many women I know or read about have learned to do.

The gray clouds really help my effort. When there is drizzle outside (or a downpour, whatever) and the skies are gray and the house is a little bit darker than usual because of a lack of sunshine, I find it cozy and comfortable to stay at home doing nothing put cooking and cleaning and probably at some point today, napping.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Day is Winding Down at Our House

Ada is such a little morning person. She starts the day in the best mood--usually pre 6 am, when her parents aren't in such good moods. She is chatty, giggly, and dancey all morning long, and then mid-morning/noonish things begin to go down hill. This morning we didn't even make it to 11, she was back in bed by 10:30, which made for an early nap. Not good for the 5:00 hour, the "witching hour" I have heard it called. And it is indeed a witching hour around here. There is much fussing and whining and just general unpleasantness as we try to stretch her bedtime until at least 7 pm. I have found that if I put her down at 6:30, she is certainly going to wake up before 6 am. We didn't make it tonight, though. She was down by 6:30. Yikes. I even tried to fit in a late afternoon nap in order to postpone bed time, but she was having none of that. And by 6:00 pm, I am worn slap out. Any ideas for moving this whole routine back a few hours? If she could wake up at 8am, take an actual afternoon nap, and then go to bed at 8 pm, I feel like everyone would benefit. How can we successfully make that shift? Seriously, ideas anyone?

For a brief second in time, she was napping from noon to three everyday and all was right with the world. It was quite the brief second, though, and now we are doing good to a get an hour and a half nap out of her. I feel like there is some sensible solution that I just haven't thought of. I think I might join her tonight and hit the sack very, very early. There is nothing like waking up after a very full night's sleep. Energizing to say the least.

This is why I must drink unimaginable amounts of diet coke. This is why it feels impossible to give it up. It is my little crutch that gets me through the day. Healthy? Probably not. Helpful? Most definitely.

Monday, September 8, 2008

So many exciting things to share

As I predicted, I am back for a second blog post today.

Ada and I started our week by attending baby lap-sit at the library. We both enjoyed it so much, so I think it is going to become a weekly thing for us. We ended the morning with lunch at Chick-fil-a with my friend Tutti and her three children. It was a great way to start the week. Mondays can be hard because Scott goes back to work, and Ada and I can find ourselves climbing the walls a little bit. I think Mondays at the library are the perfect way to kick off our week.

Next fun thing, my day started out by receiving an e-mail from my friend Amy, asking if I still wanted a sewing machine. And my answer was of course, yes!!! She ended up with an extra, brand new, machine that she is giving to me tomorrow morning. I feel like jumping up and down I am so excited. I have lots to learn, but actually getting a machine is a great first step. I still can't believe that it's mine.

And finally, we have graciously been given tickets to Dave Ramsey Live, which will be in Atlanta this coming weekend. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to go at first because we didn't have a baby-sitter, but my sister, Sarah, is coming for the weekend so that Scott and I can spend most of Saturday learning how to better manage our money. We are so excited, and we anticipate walking away from the seminar with lots of helpful and encouraging information. We plan to end the day with a (very inexpensive) dinner out where we can process all that we have learned. I am feeling overwhelmed with all the ways that God is providing. I feel so taken care of.

Finally, I received two 6.00 off formula coupons in the mail, and we are no longer using coupons. The coupons are for Nestle Good Start, which I have never used, but if we were still using formula, I would certainly give it a try with a total of 12.00 savings. If I have any readers who could use these coupons please e-mail me, and I will mail them to you right away. They don't expire until 12/1/08. I really hate to throw them away because 12.00 off of formula is quite a bit. My e-mail is laura_rhodes@hotmail.com. I really hope someone can use them.

This week's menu

Well, it's Monday again, which means it's time for the week's menu. And remember, for lots of fun meal ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

This week, I have found much inspiration from crockpot365. I strongly suggest that you check out her blog if you find yourself in a dinner rut. We are doing soup and quesadillas this week, plus I found a big bag of potatoes on sale at Target for 2.00, so I am throwing those in as well.

Here's what we'll be eating.

Breakfast: pop-tarts (BIG sale at Target + coupons), south beach bars (for me), grits and eggs
Lunch: bean and cheese burritos, pb&j, and stove popped popcorn

Monday--quesadillas with ground beef, cheese, and black beans
Tuesday--broccoli and cheese soup, baked potatoes
Wednesday--leftovers/whatever we can find
Thursday--16 bean soup, corn dog muffins (last week Kroger had B1G1 Ball Park hotdogs)
Friday--leftovers/frozen pizza/or if Sarah is here for dinner, grilled hotdogs and baked beans
Saturday--Dave Ramsey seminar!!!(more about that later) Dinner out with Scott!!
Sunday--fried rice and stir fried veggies, probably split Shane's barbecue for lunch (10% off with a church bulletin; it's our Sunday ritual)

I will most likely be doing a second post today because I have lots that I want to share, including the very real possibility that I will be the owner of a brand new sewing machine this time tomorrow. Stay tuned:)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Live from Auburn

I am very unexpectedly blogging from Auburn tonight. This morning I got a text message telling me that my best friend's water had broken, and she was definitely in labor--a week early. So, after my interview today, I made sure that Ada and Scott would be okay without me, and I headed to Auburn to meet little Harper Hendrix face to face. Her parents aren't more than newlyweds themselves, and now they are new parents, and all are doing very well. There is nothing like the sight of a newborn baby. And the smell of that skin. It's Heaven. I wanted to stay in that hospital room all night soaking up the newborness of it all, but I decided to let mom and baby get some rest, and I will visit once more tomorrow before I head back to Atlanta. I am now getting in a nice visit with my younger sisters and playing the role of college student once again. I even had vanilla chai tonight. The town is still buzzing in the aftermath of the game, and I am glad to get to be a small part of the hoopla. Oh how I love this town. Oh how I hope that Ada loves it as much I do.

As for today's interview, it went very well. I immediately bonded with the woman interviewing me, and we ended up sitting in Starbucks talking like old friends, discussing everything from education to theology. It was clear the Lord's hand was in it at all, but was there ever a question about that? I don't know yet how many hours I will get every week, but hopefully it will be enough to get that emergency fund going and the debt snowball rolling. I'll keep you posted. I know you are all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear the minute details of my day to day;)

It has been quite the exciting Saturday, though the unexpected treck to Auburn has decreased the rest of the month's grocery budget to nearly nothing. I will be getting creative like never before.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Possible Exciting News

I just got off the phone with Club Z Tutoring, and I have an interview at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. The phone conversation went really well, and the girl I was talking to said that she doesn't normally interview on the weekends, but because she might have assignments for me NEXT WEEK, she wants to go ahead with the interview tomorrow. And the crazy thing is that what caught her eye on my resume is not my teaching experience at Pebblebrook, or even my Master's in education, but a tutoring job that I had two years ago with Linda Mood Bell--a job that Scott and I were desperate for in much the same way we are desperately needing extra money now. And we felt such a huge weight lift off of our shoulders when I got that job two summers ago. Obviously the Lord provided the Pebblebrook job as well, but it didn't feel as relieving as when I found out I had gotten the job with Linda Mood Bell, and now 2 1/2 years later, it looks like God is using that job to get me this job. It is just such evidence that God is always in control--always looking ahead--always seeing the big picture. And of course we don't want to get our hopes up, but we can't help but feel excited. We have been praying every night that God would provide a certain amount extra each week, and if this job works out, it looks like I will be making even more than what we prayed for. Praise God. And the woman said that most of their tutors are stay at home moms looking for a way to use their degrees and bring in a little extra income. Anyway...we are so excited and I am just asking you to pray tomorrow at 1:30 that God would give me wisdom and discernment and that things would work out according to HIS will.

Cutting the Grocery Budget Once Again

I am so, so excited because I have found someone to take Ada's pictures (and a few family pictures) for an extremely reasonable price, and we have scheduled a photography session for the last Friday in September. Despite the insanely low price, we are still having to shave off other areas of the budget in order to pay for the session. The first area that is being shaved is the grocery budget, so I am having to get creative once again. Though it is still rather hot outside, I think I will be cooking several different soups in the coming week. Mainly because they are healthy and affordable.

I am really excited to try a 16 bean soup recipe, whose ingredient list is very short--1 bag of bean soup mix, 1 onion, 1 packet of onion soup mix, and water. I will be serving this with cornbread, and that will be dinner for two nights. I got this recipe from Crockpot 365. Thanks for the idea, Ashley.

I am determined to eat healthy despite the reduced budget. I just can't stand the thought of feeding my family junk just because it's cheap. So...any ideas for healthy, frugal meals? I do think we will be doing Amanda's quesadilla recipe. Thanks for the recipe, Amanda!!

Check out Biblical Womanhood for more frugal ideas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thoughts on Stewardship

With all the money talk that has been happening in the Moore household, the word steward has been used often. And I have heard Scott say in prayer after prayer, "Lord, truly enable us to live as if our money is YOURS not OURS." That really is our prayer right now--that the Lord would use this time to change us, our hearts and our attitudes, because as we examine how we got into this situation (other than the sudden decrease in income when I came home to raise Ada) we realize that we have often lived as if our money was indeed OURS, when, in fact, it belongs to the Lord. This is something that we hear often, and it is my prayer that the Lord would really begin to reveal to us what it looks like to live in light of that truth. Scott and I certainly don't have it figured out yet. We are just desperate for wisdom right now, always unsure about the next step to take--continue to cut our budget, look for ways to bring in more income, etc. etc. And we want to make decisions based on God's will, not what is most comfortable for us.

As we begin to discuss and think more and more about stewardship, I have been thinking lots about what it means to be a good steward in areas other than money. I have noticed over the course of my life that when the Lord is teaching me something, that something begins to show up in all areas of my life. Right now that something is stewardship. This past Sunday our church seminary intern preached on being good stewards of the creativity that God has given us--and he gave several practical examples of what that looks like. He even mentioned decorating a home and cooking meals. I have been convicted lately that I am not really a good steward in any area of life. I often stay up too late, don't exercise enough, don't eat healthy, and I waste lots and lots of time. Now, I don't want to get legalistic about this, but I do want to always be growing and learning and examining my heart for sin areas. And I feel like this is an area that the Lord is revealing to me. I still have much to learn, and I would love to know any specific verses that discuss this. I just googled verses on stewardship, but I only got verses on tithing. I believe that tithing is only one small part of being a good steward. My prayer is that the Lord would reveal to me how to practically be a good steward of all that he has given me--my family, my home, my time, my talents. And I pray that he would give me a joyful heart about it. That I would find freedom in being a good steward. As I mentioned before I have a rather addictive or controlling personality, so I don't want this to become another area of my life where I WORK to be perfect--the key word being work. I want to find freedom in living in such a way that God is glorified in all areas of my life. I can struggle so with legalism, so my prayer is that the Lord would develop JOYFUL stewardship in my life. And that I would rest in the fact that it is God that will develop this in me.

p.s. Family, I am so sorry about the lack of pictures lately. I am once again having trouble downloading pictures, but as soon as the kinks are worked out, I will post lots of new photos of Ada. I promise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday's Happenings and a quick recipe

It's been a rather busy day for Ada and me. We started the day with breakfast at Gritz, which I have written about before. We planned to meet some other moms for coffee at Koffe Klutch, the only local coffee shop in town that sells Big Train vanilla chai. However, Koffee Klutch is CLOSING, which is sad on so many levels. One, it was a kid friendly place. The owner even had a couple of toys that Ada was allowed to play with while in there. Two, it was local. We have a few Starbucks around town, but I am a Big Train fan. I have been ever since sophomore year of college when I basically moved into Taylor's Bakery and lived off of iced vanilla chais. Now that my dad is no longer supporting me (sorry for all that money spent at Taylor's, dad), I only have a chai as an occasional treat, but still, to no longer have it as an option is very disappointing. FYI--a vanilla iced chai made with coffee only has 110 calories, which equals only TWO points on weight watchers. Chais got me through many an afternoon (and early morning and late night) while a student at Auburn. So sad. So very sad.

So after our morning breakfast with the moms, we headed home for Ada to take a nap. I am making every effort to get some kind of handle on the keeping of my house, and I planned to tackle the master bedroom and bath today. It is quite the wreck. While Ada slept, I came up with a game plan for cleaning the upstairs. The master bedroom has become a dumping ground for all things clutter. Ada's toys are everywhere, not to mention dirty laundry and clean laundry. The laundry room is upstairs next to our bedroom, which is mainly a blessing, but it does cause the clothes to pile up in the bedroom. They threaten to take over on most days. Also, our bathroom is an absolute disaster because Ada occupies herself by pulling EVERYTHING out of the cabinets and drawers while I get ready in the mornings. I let her do it because I am already fighting the "no" battle by not letting her sit in the wet shower stall or climb into the tub. Also, as I attempted to clean up today, Ada came behind me, messing up already folded laundry and pulling clothes out of my dresser drawer. It sometimes feels useless to try to make sense of the mess. I would LOVE some advice from other moms. The clutter truly is taking over our lives. And I only have one child right now. I can't even wrap my head around what my house will look like if God chooses to give us a house full.

Leftovers were on the menu for dinner, which means I got in a little afternoon nap instead of cooking dinner. yea for that. Scott came home to a sleeping wife and daughter. (Ada took a very short mid-morning nap, so I put her back down for a second one around 4). And that was our day. The house is slightly neater, but it's not the straight house that I had envisioned having by tonight. Seriously, any advice for tackling the clutter that is literally taking over our lives?

And I will end with a quick recipe. I had several boxes of cake mix in my pantry, and I was craving something that tasted homemade, so I made a dump cake. So easy and very good. Here is the recipe--

1 box of cake mix (I use yellow, you can switch this up depending on the filling. For example, I would probably use spice if I was going to use apple filling)
2 cans of pie filling (or I am sure you could use fresh fruit as well, which would obviously taste even better.) I prefer blackberry, but you can do any flavor.
A stick of butter

Pour in the pie filling, pour in the cake mix, and top with pats of butter.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350

Not healthy AT ALL, but oh so good. For more recipes, check out Blessed With Grace.

p.s. I have come up with the perfect extra job for Scott--he is going to mow lawns!! This pays much better than any other extra job, AND it will give him time outdoors. We just have to purchase a weed eater and blower. What do you think? And I am still pursuing tutoring, so we'll see. We are just praying every night that God will provide that extra amount. And so we eagerly wait and watch.

Monday, September 1, 2008

This Week's Menu

It's menu planning Monday again, and things are looking much better this week than last week. I already have chicken baking for my two Southern Living recipes that I plan to eat AND freeze. I can't wait. Southern Living never lets me down. And it's a great day for cooking because Scott is home to keep Ada out from under my feet. There is just something about a hot oven that attracts little hands. So here it is, the menu for the week...

Breakfast--waffles, eggs, yogurt, and/or south beach bars (10 grams of protein per bar!! Remember, I have to eat lots of protein to keep my blood sugar steady)

Lunch--lean cuisine pizzas (also loaded with protein), pb & j, fruit, and/or stove popped popcorn.


1. Chicken Tetrazzini (eat half/freeze half), divine muffins, lima beans

2. Leftovers

3. Crunchy chicken and rice casserole, broccoli

4. Leftovers

5. New pasta recipe from Southern Living Quick and Easy cookbook

6. Frozen Pizza

7. Scott and I will split dinner out

pasta recipe--

12 ounces uncooked ziti (I am using Barilla plus, which has 17 g of protein per serving!!! This makes up for lack of meat/beans in the meal. Plus it's multigrain)

2 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, basil, and olive oil

1/2 c. chopped black olives (I omit this)

1/3 c. diced red onions

1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette

1 (8 oz) block of mozzarella cheese, diced

1/2 c. grated parmesan

1/2 tsp. pepper

cook pasta according to package directions, including salt; drain

meanwhile, combine tomatoes and next 3 ingredients

add pasta, cheese, and pepper; toss gently. Serve Immediately. Yields: 5 servings