Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Today has been just that - a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I feel like I'm failing. I really do try to give my best everyday to all situations and in all relationships, but I totally fall short.

I need to pull weeds, clean windows, power wash the house, put away laundry, cook dinner, take inventory of my deep freezer, get Liam's toys/jumperoo out of the attic, wash fingerprints off walls and doors, deep clean parts of the house, throw out my failure-of-a-garden (due to lack of watering during the hottest summer ever!), wash and vacuum my car, purchase dozens more prizes for work, create a menu for the week, re-caulk in our master bathroom, make a decision about repainting in more neutral colors, organize my clothes in the closet, take clothes to the dry cleaner, write 3 thank you notes, sell a bassinet, file important documents, trim bushes/cut down lilies, work 2 1/2 days a week, water our yard, feed Liam 6-7 times a day, play with Noah, spend time with my husband, keep up on social contacts, stay in touch with family, read the Bible daily, work on my small group's character study (I'm working on - you guessed it - patience), buy gifts for upcoming celebrations, pick up heartworm medicine for Kya...the list goes on and on.

Don't think for a second that I am delusional enough to think that your list isn't just as long as mine. I know it is. I know you feel buried underneath it sometimes, too. It totally stinks! Sometimes I feel like I'm balancing my work and play really well, and other times, I'm drowning in one or the other. I hate feeling this way. Most of all, though, is hating feeling like a bad mom or wife. The guilt that I can feel in those two relationships is unbearable. It makes my never ending to do list seem so much more overwhelming.

Going back to work has been a difficult transition, and to be honest, it probably always is. I just don't remember it being that difficult because it only happens once a year. I will be glad when we are in our routine again, and my life feels balanced because for now, it's just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.



My mind is constantly on the move these days, dreaming of the future while trying to stay engaged in the present. It all began so innocently, just like most things often do. I was browsing through open house ads in the Sunday paper when low and behold, a beautiful house caught my eye. I raced upstairs, showed the picture to Ryan, and after taking one look at the smile on my face and the light in my eyes, he said, "Well, let's go!" We loaded up the kids and were out the door lickety split.

After pulling into the housing addition, I realized that this was the neighborhood that had a model home I had seen many months prior. Everytime we drove by I would tell Ryan how that was the kind of house I hoped to live in someday. It was just my style! We drove back to the open house, and Noah proved to be more excited than any of us. He rushed around each room, pointing out the unique features and playing in all of the closets. The second floor was perfect, but we felt like the main floor was lacking space. It was fun to look, nonetheless, and we got back in the car to drive home.

Then it happened.

My husband gave me the greatest gift any man can give his wife. He gave me permission to dream.

For any of you who know me, I'm a pretty grounded, organized, and practical person who lives on a schedule and always has a plan. Not only was this the way I was raised, but I've also happily embraced these qualities as an adult. We always planned to live in our current home for 5-7 years before buying our forever home. You know, the one our kids would grow up...have their friends over to stay the night...come home from college during holiday breaks. Well, as of this summer, we will have lived here for 5 years. Our dream home has a basement, 3 side car garage, beautiful kitchen, upstairs laundry room (have one now and wouldn't want to go back), and a larger back yard.

Well, as we were leaving the neighborhood, Ryan told me to go grab a packet of information to see what floorplans they were building. I mean, why not? We're just dreaming...right? The next few days consisted of me studying each floorplan and trying to decide which one contained all of our non-negotiables and which one would make the most sense for our family. Then I started crunching numbers and considering our timeline. I went back and forth between wanting to stay grounded and wanting ever-so-badly to dream. It was never our plan to build a home. Why build when so many existing homes are on the market? Then it hit me. We could build exactly what we wanted without settling for anything. So often we see a house and say, "Well, I like the yard but hate the kitchen," or "The laundry room is upstairs, but there is no basement." Building a home would allow us to have exactly what we wanted, and the idea of that was so exciting!

Since that time, we have visited several models and have fallen in love with a particular floorplan. I've researched and researched, read every available resource I can find regarding the company, the vendors, the process of building, etc. You name it, and I can tell you about it. Ryan has been so supportive of this new dream we share. In fact, he even went with me to a design center where you pick our your flooring, exterior, light fixtures, cabinets, countertops, etc. We had so much fun picking out everything. Dreaming is exciting!

Ever since this journey began in June, that word has been ringing in my ears.


We have two summers before Noah starts kindergarten and would love to be settled in our forever home before that milestone begins.  Whether or not it ends up being this home, only God knows. For now, we are starting to make preparations for possibly putting our house on the market in the Spring. We are praying a lot. But most of all, we are being patient.


God is All Around Us

Over the past four months, I have felt the presence of God all around me like never before. It has been beautiful, breathtaking, and oftentimes, an emotional experience to feel Him near us and near those around us. Sometimes God shows Himself when you least expect it, and at other times, He presents Himself after fervent prayer.

God presented Himself in the shape of a little 3 year old boy named Noah yesterday evening. I was getting ready to have dinner with some girlfriends and found myself in tears leaving Liam. I have cherished the last 14 weeks at home with him, and I am so sad to leave him despite being excited to get back to work part time. I said goodbye to Noah a few minutes prior and was collecting myself before walking out the door. All of the sudden, Noah yelled out from the living room and ran to me saying, "I'm going to give you a bug hug and kiss." He did just that, and I knew right away that God was using the arms and lips of my sweet son to tell that He was right there and that everything would be ok.

Late last night, my mind was swimming again with thoughts and worries about both boys when I go back to work. I felt so much tension in my neck and head, and without saying a word, Ryan started giving me a massage that melted all that tension away. Again, I felt God saying, "I'm right here. Your boys are going to be fine. I love them more than you can ever know. Remember, I am their Father." God again used the hands of someone I love to show His presence.

For people who believe in God, reading these simple examples will affirm their feelings about our loving God. They also experience simple acts of love and reassurance from an awesome God that nonbelievers would see as coincidence. It makes me sad to know when people I love don't have a relationship with God because they miss out on seeing God's blessings around them. They might be thankful for their job, house, kids, etc., but they don't see God's hand in them having those things. He truly is all around us, if you just take a moment to look and see.

Like so many people, I always find myself falling asleep while praying at night. I was talking about that with some people, and one person said, "Well, just like a mother loves having her baby fall asleep in her arms, I imagine God feels the same about us falling asleep in His." I have found that to be one of the most profound things I've ever heard. I just love it.

So, do you see God in the simple things around you? I would love to hear some of your own experiences. I could write a million more but have written this blog one-handed while Liam is sleeping in my arms. It was "shot day," so he gets extra snuggles, just like God holds me extra tight when I'm not feeling well. I love our God and pray that all of you know Him, too.



Freezer Meal Fun

My friend, Dalia, is getting ready to have a baby soon, and when I asked her what I could do to help her get things ready, she said that she wanted to make a bunch of freezer meals. I had been putting off making meals in preparation of going back to work, so it was just the motivation I needed to get things in gear. First, I made a list of all the possible meals I would want to make:

Baked Spaghetti
Sloppy Joes
Chicken Pot Pie
Beef Stroganoff
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Parisienne (white wine, mushrooms, cream of mushroom, sour cream, etc.)
Honey Pork Chops
Homemade Pizzas
Pizza Pies
Chicken Tetrazinni
Spaghetti Carbonara (bacon, peas, heavy cream, parm cheese, parsley, pepper)
Baked Blueberry French Toast
Farmer's Casserole (breakfast casserole)
Pulled Pork
Baked Penne with Ham, Peas, and Jack Cheese
Ham, Mushroom, and Egg Noodle casserole

I emailed Dalia the list, and she chose five meals to make (fyi - because you always let a pregnant woman chose what to eat - it's a courtesy!):

Sloppy Joes
Beef Stroganoff
Spaghetti Carbonara
Baked Penne with Ham, Monterrey Jack, and Peas

Ryan picked up some foil containers with lids from my friend, Beckie, who bought them from this website. For $132, she was able to purchase 500 pans (approximately 26 cents per pan). They are big enough for 4 servings and stack perfectly in your freezer because organization is key! I made out my list of ingredients for all five recipes, marking out what I already had in my pantry and refrigerator. Dalia sent me her list, and off to the grocery store I went.

Dalia came over around 7:00 p.m. a couple Saturdays ago, and after eating some Jimmy Johns (YUM!!), we were zooming all over my kitchen. Since Dalia is on moderate bedrest, she took the job of slicing and dicing vegetables and meat, while I worked on preparing the dishes. We started with the beef stroganoff because it is one of the more involved recipes. Sloppy Joes were a great second dish because they are super easy and quick! Next we worked on the Chicken Enchiladas since they are more involved, too. The penne pasta was the last dish we made that evening, and it was super easy and quick. By the time we had all the dishes washed (thanks, Dalia!) and put away, it was 1:00 a.m. I made the spaghetti carbonara the next day in about an hour. It was very easy!

By the end of the cooking-freezer-meal-marathaon, we had 26 meals and split them between the two of us!!

5 pans of Enchiladas
3 pans of Sloppy Joes
6 pans of Beef Stroganoff
6 pans of Spaghetti Carbonara
6 pans of Baked Penne with Ham, Monterrey Jack, and Peas

We did 5 hours of cooking the first night, and then I did the additional hour the second day. So, six hours of hard work for 26 meals. Not bad!

A couple things to consider when making meals. First, you have to cook meals that will actually fit inside your cookware. For example, I used a skillet and my largest pan for my stove. Those two items allowed us to double each recipe we were making (with the exception of sloppy joes b/c they take up very little room. You could duplicate this recipes several times). Second, we could have saved lots of time had we been a little more prepared. For example, if we would have written down exactly how much onion we needed TOTAL rather than cutting it per recipe, that would have saved some prep time. Same goes for the meat. Had we cut that up prior to getting together, that would have saved us considerable amount of time.

I would LOVE to have bi-monthly freezer meal preparation days with a bunch of girlfriends at once. The tricky part would be having enough space to cook, as well as space in your cookware. For my kitchen and cookware, two people is probably the limit. If we had another skillet, there is a good chance we could've made enough to triple each recipe.

One idea, if you are interested in making freezer meals, is to find 5 other friends who want to be part of a freezer meal group. Each person chooses 1 recipe and makes enough for 6 families (one for each friend and one to keep for yourself). Then, you trade meals, which allows you to acquire 5 new meals to add to the one meal you made yourself. Make sense? I did this with some girlfriends a couple years ago, and it worked out great! The tricky part for me now is that I buy my meat in bulk (quarter cow, half hog, bulk whole chickens and chicken breast), and this meat doesn't contain hormones, antibiotics, etc. I spend a little more to have this kind of meat, but it's totally worth it! If you question that, just watch Food, Inc. It will change your life. Anyway, to participate in a freezer meal group with friends, we would all need to be cooking with the same meat or it would defeat the purpose of us buying it. So, for now, I just continue to make meals on my own, and that works just fine. It just takes a little more self-motivation because I don't have anyone waiting for a meal from me. I think I will order some foil pans of my own soon, and this time, I might get the 6 cup serving pans. You get 250 pans for $115 (46 cents a pan), which would give us some for leftovers. We'll see, though! If anyone is interested in ordering this size and wants to split the cost $23 for 50 6-cup pans or $26.40 for 100 4-cup pans (if four other people are interested), let me know!

Also, let me know if you have any questions or want any recipes! Cooking ahead like this will save you so much time and energy on nights where you just don't feel like cooking anything. I love it!
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