Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Words of Wisdom: REST

This summer, I have experienced a "rest revelation" that has really changed my daily life! For quite a few weeks now, I have actually been going to sleep at a reasonable hour, sleeping soundly, and waking up feeling rested!

Here's the sitch...
*I linked to Urban Dictionary in case you're old like me and don't always understand cool kids' slang words.

For... um... basically all my life... I have generally hated going to bed. I could be drifting off on the couch and Blake would ask if I was ready to go to bed and I would emphatically say "NO!". As one of my friends calls it, I have the FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out! Even though I'm exhausted, I hate going to bed!!!

Secondly, I don't always sleep soundly. Insomnia runs in my family and - lucky me - I have it sometimes! I can go weeks without getting a good night's rest. I will often wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to return to sleep for 1, 2, or 3 hours. It can be very frustrating to go through that night after night.

I desperately wanted and needed to get some good sleep.

Then Blake and I bought some new bedding on sale at Wayfair. We have been without "official" bedding for quite a while now as our original (and expensive) comforter basically fell apart after being washed a few times. So when we got the new bedding, I, of course, had to make the bed look pretty! Brought out the pretty pillows, started making the bed in the mornings... you know, all the stuff you see on TV but never actually do in real life!

Then we started getting in bed around 8:30/9pm. Instead of reading or watching a show in the living room (where I would ultimately pass out on the couch and sleep from about 9-11:30pm), we started crawling in bed at the same time to read or watch a little TV before going to sleep.

Then I stopped fighting sleep. Instead of trying to keep my eyes peeled open as long as possible, I started turning over and "officially" going to sleep.

And THEN we bought new pillows! Beautiful, glorious, more-money-than-I've-ever-spent-on-a-pillow new pillows!!! (**Please note: We got ours for more than 50% off!**)

Then - and this is a little TMI - I stopped drinking. ;) Liquids. I mean... I stopped drinking liquids after about 7pm. I have a little bit of a beverage problem - I love drinks. And apparently as I am getting older, my bladder is getting smaller. Waking up multiple times a night because I drank 4800 ounces of water is no bueno.

Add all those things together and you get a really, really, really good night's rest!!!

It's not the fanciest or frilliest or the most colorful (I have a thing for cream...), but this has been my absolute favorite place to be the past several weeks!

I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but all of this has really helped me come to terms with needing sleep. I actually enjoy going to bed now and wake up feeling more refreshed than I've felt in a long time! I have actually slept through the night quite a few times over the past several weeks, which rarely ever happens for me. And since I am sleeping better, I am kicking my caffeine habit which will also make me an overall happier, healthier human being!

As I have started to feel better, Matthew 11:28-30 has been repeating in my mind.

8 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Yes, I know, the Bible wasn't talking about mattresses or pillows or ambient noise or any of that. But, still, the verses to me are appropriate. I have cried out to God so many times in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep and just wanted to rest. I would feel frustrated in the mornings about not feeling rested. It was an ongoing cycle that was just. UGH. Annoying. But lately I feel like he has been giving me the tools I need to be able to sleep better and more soundly and for that, I'm super grateful.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: 8/25-31

I'm sorry for being absent last week... Monday was my birthday and it started with Maleah waking up with pink eye! The rest of the week was just as stressful, so I didn't really have time to write anything!

Last week was a strange week... we had to alter plans because of sickness and then we also went to a couple of dinner parties. So, this is all I can remember cooking last week:

Monday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, brown sugar & bacon green beans
Thursday: BLTs & baked sweet potatoes

That's it! Haha!

This week's plan is a little more "normal":

Monday: Spaghetti, garlic bread, sliced cucumbers (gotta eat them before they go bad!), and roasted zucchini & squash
Tuesday: Campbell's Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole, baked corn on the cob, brown sugar & bacon green beans (seriously, they're so good!)
Wednesday: Zaxby's 
Thursday: Taco Soup, tortilla chips & salsa (if you remember, I made a double batch of taco soup a few weeks ago so all I have to do is let it thaw and reheat it!)
Friday: pizza
Saturday: popcorn shrimp, mac & cheese, sliced fresh veggies
Sunday: Church Potluck - I'm bringing a dump cake topped with powdered sugar! I will probably use blueberries instead of cherries 'cause that's how I roll!

I did want to briefly share my smoothie system as well as a new lunch item for Maleah!

I am on a smoothie kick right now. I haven't tried too many combinations (I'm counting down the days 'til I make this pumpkin pie smoothie!!!), but I've just been figuring how how to make the process simple during the busy morning times. I bought those bags at Sam's and they have lasted over a month! 

What I've been doing lately is making individual portion-sized bags. I put about 1 - 1.5 cups frozen fruit in each bag (and this week I added a few spinach leaves). So, all I have to do in the morning is grab one of these bags and the rest of my ingredients to make a smoothie in five minutes or less! (These have 1/2 banana - previously frozen individually - 1/2 cup strawberries, 6-8 blueberries and 3-4 spinach leaves.

 This is the "tropical" smoothie mix, which Blake prefers. We bought a bag of tropical fruit mix so it's just 1.5 cups of pineapples, strawberries, peaches, and mangoes! 

I make 14 bags. I know that seems wasteful - but wait! - it's not! A coworker suggested I not throw the bags away after each use. I have been using them for about 3 weeks and will probably toss them after the fourth use. I just put the sealed bag back in the freezer after it's empty. So far, it has worked great!

For my smoothies, I add four heaping tablespoons of plain or vanilla yogurt, the fruit mix, about 6-8 ounces of coconut milk, and a big heapin' helpin' of peanut butter (about 2 tbsp)! So tasty!

This past week I had a little lunch revelation for Maleah. I have been buying avocados, halving them, and putting them in Ziploc bags for a while now. I just take them out of the bag (and use the bags 3-4 times each to reduce waste), put them in her lunch container, and it's usually thawed out pretty well by lunch time (we might heat it for 10-20 seconds just get it to the right consistency).

So when I cooked sweet potatoes recently, I wondered if I could do the same with them. I had made sweet potato puree when she was smaller, but hadn't just tried to freeze it whole. Sure enough, it worked great! I waited until the potatoes were cool, scooped out the meat, put them in freezer bags and let them freeze. I let it thaw in the fridge until lunchtime and then heated it for 20-30 seconds. And since were were home Monday, I tossed in a little brown sugar & cinnamon. Maleah ate sweet potatoes twice this week for lunch! I might even make a few for myself for days when we don't have leftovers and I don't feel like making a sandwich (which is basically every day... I hate making sandwiches!).
I also put some of the frozen strawberries and blueberries in small individual containers to pop in Maleah's lunch box. I personally do not like to eat thawed frozen fruit, but she loves it! I keep the containers in the freezer and then just put it in her lunch box and... by lunch time, they're ready to eat! (They stay in the school fridge until lunch.)

So, even though last week was a little nutty, we're back on track this week and ready to roll! Hope you all have an awesome week! Happy homemaking! :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wisdom for the Working Mom

Sometimes I think I am not cut out for being a mom. No, really. I always dreamed of being a mom and now that I am one, well, it just isn't what I expected. Sometimes that's a good thing, other times I am completely thrown off by it and sent into a tailspin wondering how God could have trusted me with this little child when I am often so very incompetent.

Maleah is a very emotional child. I was a very emotional child. As some would say, I'm getting my "payback"!!! She is a very sweet-natured, smart, gentle little girl who is also silly and a little stubborn. But that all means it doesn't take much for her to get upset. About anything. You know the blog, "Reasons My Son is Crying"... well... that's Maleah.

It's quite challenging to parent a child who is so easily distressed. Nothing calms her - no music, no snuggling, no words of affirmation, no toys... she just has to finish crying and let all of her emotions out. I remember being that way. I would get so upset and it DID. NOT. MATTER. what anyone said or did - I was upset until I was finished being upset. Apparently Maleah is going to be the exact same way.

Yesterday I had one of those "I hate myself" mom moments during one of her scream-a-thons in the car. I just totally lost my cool with her and it wasn't pretty. I cried about it. She cried about it. I have never felt more terrible about myself as a mother! I know you've had those moments, too. You are unsure of your decisions. You're not confident with your actions. You regret words spoken in anger. You regret punishments dealt in the heat of the moment.

I was still upset about it this morning wondering why I can't be the perfect mother. I have worked with children all my life - I even have a degree in KIDS! How is it that I often struggle so much with being a mom? I thought this was supposed to come naturally! I thought I was supposed to be able to fix every problem! I thought my hugs and kisses were supposed to make tears stop flowing! I thought my words were supposed to bring a smile! But, instead, I struggle everyday.

And while I was thinking about all of this and giving myself grief over my lack of perfection, I remembered: "But then God said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for YOU. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.'" (2 Cor. 12:9; emphasis added)

His grace is sufficient for even me - a stretched-thin mom who falls short every day.
His strength is made absolutely perfect in my frequent moments of weakness.

Trusting in Him and in His word is the only way I will ever make it as a mom in 2014. It is increasingly more difficult to cling to His Word, but I will. I will continue to trust that He is bigger than my shortcomings. He is bigger than the challenges Maleah faces with her emotions. He is bigger than my knee-jerk responses. So I will trust 2 Cor. 12:9 and hold firm that God is the supplier of every bit of parenting wisdom I will ever have.

Each Wednesday, I will post a Scripture (and maybe a song) that has inspired me as a wife, mother, and woman. I hope these are helpful to you!