The Last Week in Pictures

IMG_0031

Tuesday: My youngest turned 10! How did that happen!

IMG_0041

Wednesday: Major windstorm knocked down this beautiful evergreen in our front yard. Thanking God that it only fell on our garage but damage was minimal!

img_0068

Wednesday, continued: Can you believe the tree missed Dave’s car by mere inches?

img_0167

Thursday: Dave home from China with a cold and a story of a Chinese pharmacy adventure.

IMG_0075

Friday: Rehearsal for first musical! Hairspray! And did I mention this girl turned 16 two weeks ago?

img_0079

Saturday:  My niece’s wedding!  A full day of visiting with family – including my two sisters from out of town.  It doesn’t happen often, but it’s so wonderful to have us all in the same place!

img_0159

Sunday: Hairspray!! Even after missing a few rehearsals because of the windstorm, the kids did an amazing job!

Monday: Tree being removed from the garage roof.

Monday:  The tree getting removed.

Tuesday: Snow day! Deer looking for food.

Tuesday:  Snow storm and another day off of school!  Deer looking for food in the backyard.

 

 

 

2017 Focus

Have you heard about the trend to choose one word for the year rather than make New Year’s resolutions?

I am pretty wordy (I guess you know this if you read my blog, lol) so choosing just one word is difficult for me.

The last few years I’ve had some new year’s resolutions AND tried to pick a phrase or bible verse to focus on for the year.

This year instead of a word/phrase, I’m picking a song.

Magnify” by We Are Messengers

I love the chorus:

“God, be greater than the worries in my life,

Be stronger than the weakness in my mind,

Be louder, let your glory come alive,

Be magnified.”

I’m praying that in 2017 I live so that God is magnified in my life!

What’s your word for 2017?

A gift of a different kind.

Last week I had lunch with a woman who I’ve only recently met.  We are serving together in a ministry capacity and I invited her to lunch so that we could get to know one another a bit better.  I enjoyed our time together very much and when we were about to leave, she said to me something like, “Sharing your real life is a true gift.”

I had been open with her about my doubts and fears in taking on a new ministry role.  Let me tell you, to open up and give others a glimpse of what’s really in my heart feels risky.  Vulnerable.  Scary.

But so many times I’ve seen when getting to know other women that they will only be as open with me as I am with them… and so I am willing to take the risk, and I often do.  I’ve seen firsthand how being authentic is the first step to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I had never thought of it, though, as a gift that I can give to other people.  And so especially at this time of year, I wanted to share this idea you.

Others don’t need to see my pretty, perfectly packaged “exterior” life and my version of what I think they want me to be.  That doesn’t draw people in.  It doesn’t encourage real relationship.  It doesn’t allow people to breathe a deep sigh of relief and say, “me, too”.

Being real is a gift that allows other people to be who they are, too.

Let’s be women who are gift-givers of a different kind this Christmas!

Trim Healthy Mama Favorite Recipes

It really seems like Trim Healthy Mama (THM) has caught on – I have several friends now locally who are on the plan and by the number of blog visitors that view my how to get started post, it seems that lots of people want to find out more!

When I first got started with THM about 2 1/2 years ago, I tried many recipes that frankly, were flops.  I realized that I needed a simple way to keep the recipes that were winners (and also a simple way to add notes about what tweaks I’d made).  I also needed to not be printing out recipes because I have paper issues (have you seen the picture of my kitchen table here?)

So I gravitated to and have primarily used Pinterest for finding new recipes beyond those in the THM books.  Pinterest is so easy to search and it’s also so easy to save links to recipes you want to try or those you’ve tried that are keepers!  You can also comment on the links you pin, and that’s where I make my recipe notes.

(There’s one small caveat and downside to Pinterest, however, that I’ll tell you upfront – if the blog / website that you’ve pinned a link to goes away, then your recipe goes away.  That’s happened to me twice now – two recipes from the same blog that were so good and I’m so sad I didn’t print them out.  My suggestion is that if you find a recipe that you know you love and will make a lot, you may want to print the recipe.)

When my local friends get started and ask me what recipes I like and what my family likes, I always point them to my Pinterest boards.  Here are some links for you as well:

THM Keepers – entrees

THM Keepers – breakfasts and breads

THM Keepers – desserts

THM Keepers – sides

THM Keepers – snacks & drinks

These are recipes that I’ve tried and at least half my family will eat.  Ha! That’s my criteria for whether I keep it or not!

Hope this helps those of you who are looking for inspiration!

Traveling with kids to DC

Mid-August we took a family trip to Washington, D.C..  It is one of the most beautiful cities!  Our kids were, I think, perfect ages for seeing many historic sites, monuments, and museums.  (Oh, and we can’t forget Georgetown Cupcake as my little one is a fan of the show “DC Cupcakes”!)

Some photos from our trip:

 

Pool Time!

Pool Time!

Arlington

Arlington

The White House

The White House

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

There is so much to see in DC that realistically, you cannot do it all in one vacation.  I wanted to see as much as possible but also pace ourselves so we’d still have some down time.  Weeks before the trip I gave the kids the DC tourist guidebook (get a free one here:  https://washington.org/visitor-request-form) and let them each pick five things that they really wanted to see.  I put priority on seeing those things and planned out our days to be most efficient getting around the city – and we were able to see everything on the lists!  Now don’t get me wrong, we were still exhausted from lots and lots of walking – but we were back to the hotel before dinner most nights so we could just hang out and relax!

Although we were turned down for a White House tour (BOO!), we still saw lots of great stuff.  Our favorites were going up into the Washington Monument (yes, it’s worth it!), the Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and my personal favorite, Ford’s Theatre.  So much in DC has free admission – which is good, because lodging and eating out are not cheap!

For us, one of the perks in going to a large city for vacation is the amazing variety of gluten-free restaurant choices.  Traveling with celiac disease can be challenging because you really have to research restaurants ahead of time.  We found some fabulous restaurants with gluten-free menus and so all was good.  I primarily used the following websites to research:  www.findmeglutenfree.com, http://www.tripadvisor.com, and good old google. The best ones we found that had gluten free menus and great food – b DC Penn Quarter and Pi Pizzeria.

I highly recommend finding an affordable hotel downtown as it will cut down on travel time and allow you to do the most sightseeing possible.  (Just a warning that most downtown hotels charge ALOT daily for parking.)  We stayed at Hyatt Place – National Mall and loved it.  I also recommend getting SmarTrip cards from the metro (either when you first get there, or save yourself hassle and order them online ahead of time and have them shipped to you).  These cards give you lower metro fares and can also be used for the DC Circulator bus routes at a rate of $1 per person for 2 hours of hop-on / hop-off rides.  The savings is worth it!

All in all, we loved DC!

Sweet, sweet summer

Well, summer is in full swing here! I love the laid-back schedule and feeling that we can do anything we want, whenever we want! (Full disclosure-very soon the lack of routine will leave me crying. But for now it’s all good!)

Memorial Day weekend we decided to give away our kids’ fort to our neighbor. I didn’t realize how sad they would be – or how sad I would be about it! Just another reminder that they are growing up too fast! But it was a good way to start out the summer because I now find myself more likely to be enjoying the present- to be in the moment- with the kids. More likely to say, “sure!”, with actual anticipation when they suggest an activity.

Here’s a picture I took of them years ago in the fort. It’s one of my all-time favorite pictures of them!

100_2294

And here’s a picture I took of them the day we gave it away.  Oh, my goodness!!

image

There are all too many reminders these days that our time is limited with all three kids at home. I want to thrive this summer- not just survive!

Here are a few things I’m trying this summer to keep myself sane and able to fully enjoy the kids:

Get them to help more with cleaning.

Don’t neglect my first-thing in the morning time of prayer.

Get in the pool with the kids, often.

Say yes to time with friends without feeling guilty.

Do something creative every few days (write, practice hand-lettering, scrapbook, work on redecorating our living room).

Do one extra organizing or cleaning task every day. I’m pretty good at doing maintenance chores around the house like cooking, dishes, laundry- but then I tend to let everything else go. I’m challenging myself to do one extra thing each day so I feel like I’m making progress! So far so good, but we’ll see how long it lasts!!

How’s your summer going so far?  How do you thrive during the summer?

Happy 2016!

Merry Christmas (a few weeks late) and Happy New Year!

Here’s a picture of our family at church on Christmas Eve.  It’s been so long since we’ve actually gotten a picture together as a family and it kind of shocked me to see how tall my kids have gotten!

22

So 2016 is here, the kids have been back to school for a week now, and I guess it’s time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I feel God calling me in this new year.

Although I just posted in December about these verses having been laid upon my heart last year, I feel God continuing to tell me I need to keep these in focus for 2016.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This is what I wrote in my prayer journal a few days ago – so that I could put these themes into practice in my life.

Rejoice always – find joy in being present with my people (not being distracted by to-do lists or technology), live life to the full as if today is my last day (John 10:10), focus on the positive

Pray continually – continue to spend time with God each morning, get better at seeking Him during the day before responding/reacting to situations, pray instead of worry, make a habit of praying as a couple

Give thanks – continue my thankfulness journal, search for the good that God might bring out of every situation, be content with what and to where God has brought me

Feel free to remind me of these throughout the year if you think I’ve forgotten!

Where do you feel God calling you to focus your energy in 2016?