Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Great Day Every Day



Great Day Every Day
Max Lucado
Four stars
The likelihood of experiencing a "perfect" day is about as rare as winning the lottery. That "perfect" day that many seem to long for is somewhat elusive...even the slightest misfortune can turn an otherwise perfect day upside down. Great Day Every Day, in classic Lucado style, illustrates the beauty and grace in every single day, even on the worst days. Lucado leads us through with scripture and personal testimony to show the reader that it is never too late to turn a bad day in to a good one. 

Personally, I really enjoyed this book. I really appreciate the "workbook" section in the back of the book, with each section correlating to a chapter of the book. I actually appreciate any book that does this because I feel that it's conducive to really getting in to the book, a way to put the things that you read about on paper and apply it to your own life or situation. 

I'm generally a fan of any of Lucado's work, but this is probably one of my favorite books of his. 

All in all, four stars from me. I highly recommend it! 
 
If you wish to purchase Great Day Every Day, you can purchase a copy here
The fine print:
This book was provided for review purposes from booksneeze.com. The contents of the review are my own and are my honest opinion of the work.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Post-move post

Well, our bare-bones move is done and we're just getting settled in at Casa Lickfold. There are still a few odds-n-ends that need to be dealt with but for the most part, things are coming together nicely. 

Now, I'll probably be the first to admit that I'm the type of person that when things are going well, I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I cannot seem to stay focused on things that are positive, but rather I seem to "wait" for the time when things start to go sour. 

And that moment happened a few days ago. It seems like since Monday afternoon, anything that could go wrong DID go wrong. Now I know I should accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, but sometimes it helps to lay it all out there. 


I'm not going to make a giant list or anything, but things that have been delivered that we were very excited to receive were defective. I need to return them, but unfortunately we only have ONE computer that seems to work with our printer, even when plugged directly in to the printer, and it just so happens that this computer broke mere minutes ago. So, no return ticket can be printed. In addition, another of our items that happened to be quite expensive is also apparently defective. And let's not forget our 5 year old stereo receiver randomly giving up the ghost...


But the worst of all of this? Everyone in the house has had a horrible attitude. The kids are not listening, they're fighting like cats and dogs and even getting angry and physical with one another, and my husband goes off at almost no notice. It's ridiculous. 


Please Lord, PLEASE just let something go right. My sanity is slowly slipping away, and I'm most upset with the attitude of the people in this house, as everyone is on edge. Some days are just worse than others.



 
Friday, June 15, 2012

Owen's story

Pregnancy...one of the most joyous, yet scariest times of a person's life. There is so much that is unexpected, there are no guarantees, and there is A LOT that can go wrong. The last thing on a person's mind when they get that positive pregnancy test is whether their baby will have a disorder, a disease, or God forbid, not survive at all. 

I found out I was pregnant with Owen when our first baby was barely 2 months old. I was shocked, my husband was shocked...well, pretty much everyone was shocked. The only person who gave us any sort of other reaction besides pure shock was my OB/GYN, and that was more of a "What in the heck are you thinking" reaction! 

The beginning of the pregnancy progressed as normal. I felt great! By the time our 20 week appointment came around we had decided not to find out the sex of our baby, feeling strongly that it was a girl and she was healthy. So, Brandon and I sat happily and watched our wonderful baby that God was knitting in my womb. The ultrasound tech looked at the brain, the heart, the lungs...and then she paused. She saw something that wasn't quite right on the screen and got a little flustered and said that she needed to get the doctor. We had NO idea what was going on, so I began to press her for information. She said that the issue is sex-specific and we need to know if there is a family history of a particular disorder. That's when she told us that we were having a baby boy and he wasn't quite healthy. 

It turns out that what the tech saw was a "keyhole deformity" that indicated Posterior Urethral Valve Syndrome (PUVS for short). This was a congenital defect that affects the urinary/renal areas of the body; the valves can obstruct or reverse the flow of urine and cause numerous other health problems. At that point, my doctor chose to see me for another ultrasound in four weeks to see how the condition was progressing. So at 24 weeks, we went back in to the doctor and the condition had worsened. He immediately referred me to a perinatologist where I was seen every few weeks for stress tests and ultrasounds. 

The perinatologist was a completely different animal. They were very careful with what they told me and often didn't disclose much as far as Owen's condition was concerned; they chose to have me focus on seeing the baby, watching him breathe, and looking at his *very* large feet (which he still has, by the way) and wonderful profile. A handsome baby. But regardless, I couldn't help but wonder "What is happening to my baby?". At one of my appointments I heard the doctor call in a colleague and I remember them discussing keyhole deformities and other medical speak that I didn't understand. All of my appointments ended with a meeting with the perinatologist and at this particular meeting, he recommended I get in touch with a pediatric urologist because the diagnosis of PUVS is incorrect. We chose a pediatric urologist and he began working with her right away. I was told I would receive a call...

That call never came :( Before my appointment at 32 weeks I decided to give my pediatric urologists' office a call. I calmly asked the nurse what was happening with my son, and she dropped a bomb. "Um...Mrs. Lickfold...the doctor has diagnosed your son with PKD. Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease. I'm sorry". I pressed for more information, but she said I had to speak with my perinatologist and the pediatric urologist about that. I was heartbroken. 

My baby has a disease? MY BABY HAS A DISEASE!

At that point, I went in to my appointment and watched him as his little body move around my belly, watching him practice his breathing. The doctor came in and you could clearly see the cysts on his kidneys. We knew that one kidney was larger than the other, as this had been explained to me in previous sessions, but now I could actually SEE the tiny little cysts all over his kidneys. My baby wasn't okay, and I had no idea how to handle that. It was at this appointment that they also noticed a significant difference in the amniotic fluid level and was officially diagnosed with oligohydramnios -low amniotic fluid. The doctor explained what was happening, that the outcome for PCKD was highly variable-anything from stillborn due to complications associated with all of the side effects like low amniotic fluid, to the "best case scenario" which would be needing a kidney transplant at around age 3 IF HE WAS LUCKY. The doctor wanted to see me in two weeks. 


Over the next few weeks I did all the research I could about polycystic kidney disease and I hated what I heard. My sister-in-law put in several prayer requests at her church, had homegroups praying for me, and had many, many people praying for me and my baby daily. At my 34 week appointment at the perinatologist, it was just a normal NST, measuring amniotic fluid, and quick scan of the kidneys to see how the disease was progressing. The ultrasound tech called out to the peri with a serious sense of urgency in her voice, and I began to panic. The peri came in the room, and in amazement said "I need a second set of eyes, here". He went and got a specialist that just happened to be in the office (don't you love that?) and they both stared at the large u/s screen until my peri sat down and started doing the ultrasound himself. Then, one of the doctors, I cannot remember which, exclaimed "These cysts are not communicating. They're isolated!" That meant nothing to me, so once again, I began to panic. The specialist that was visiting asked if my baby had been given a clear diagnosis of PKD and the peri said that I had, and he had previous ultrasounds to prove it. The u/s tech continued with the ultrasound while the two men disappeared, and I continued to look on the screen for any obvious sign of something else being wrong. 

When the appointment was over, my husband and I went in to the perinatologist's office where he and the specialist were waiting. We sat down, and the peri pulled out my file and started showing us a bunch of pictures of our baby's kidneys. First of all, the one kidney was still rather enlarged but amniotic fluid, although low, had stabilized. Then he dropped the bomb:

Mr. and Mrs. Lickfold, I have never seen something like this in my years as a perinatologist. Initially your son had been given the diagnosis of PUVS, which we found to be an incorrect diagnosis. Then we discovered that the kidney was rather enlarged and had some cysts on it. The pediatric urologist reviewed all of our material and gave the diagnosis of Autosomal Recessive PKD. However at this ultrasound, by some miracle, that diagnosis seems no longer correct. We are stumped; we have no explanation because this is not a condition that just "goes away". We are downgrading his diagnosis from PKD to Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney Disease because the cysts were *originally* communicating, which we witnessed in several ultrasounds, however they are no longer communicating and are clearly isolated. We have not seen anything like this, this was a clear case of PKD initially and now...well, now it's just not.

Well then...that's interesting. He went on to explain that we'll still need support staff in the delivery room *just in case*, but at that moment something came over me and I felt like everything was going to be okay. I had already made peace with the diagnosis over the last two weeks, but I was overjoyed that his condition had MIRACULOUSLY changed. 

The only thing I could think of was that praying had worked; that the Lord had not necessarily healed, but delivered Owen from this horrible, scary disease. God listened.

I was able to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy, but I was still cautiously optimistic. The pediatric urologist, my perinatologist and his partner, and several other nurses and support staff attended my c-section to ensure that everything went as planned. Owen was born screaming before he was even all the way out! His lungs were good, my fluid was low, but his lungs were good!

Shortly after his birth we were visited by the peri and the pediatric urologist. They explained to us what would be happening over the next several hours. First, he would receive an ultrasound of his kidneys and bladder to see how things went. Then, he would receive a VCUG, a voiding cysto-urethrogram which required a catheter to be inserted. First they did the ultrasound while Owen lay in his daddy's lap. They noted that the kidney was still enlarged but there were fewer cysts. The next day they did the VCUG. I was wheeled down to the room while holding Owen and all I could do was snuggle my precious miracle. I couldn't believe he was here! When we got to the room, I stood there and watched as he screamed while they put the catheter in. I felt faint so I sat down. Unfortunately, the first attempt didn't take, so I had to leave the room while they attempted it again. I was wheeled back to my room while my husband (bless his wonderful heart) stayed with our son while they did the VCUG. 

Results from the VCUG were negative-there were no issues of fluids backing up in to the kidneys, and the bladder drained just fine. Owen was put on antibiotics *just in case* to stave off any possible bladder infections/UTI's/kidney infections since they had NO idea what was going on with his condition. We also saw the pediatric urologist once every few months. 

When Owen was almost one, we moved to a new area. We felt that he was healthy but there were still questions about his condition that were unanswered. We had to take him in to have some testing done where they give him an IV with some dye and see how his body eliminates it from his system. They were in effect testing his kidney function. We were able to be in the room while they did the testing, and he slept peacefully (thanks to hospital blankets and blanket warmers) through the whole thing. A few weeks later we met with the doctor to discuss the results. 

The results were shocking. His kidneys were functioning at 49 and 51 percent...which doesn't get much better than that! There was no "backflow", there were no more cysts, and his enlarged kidney had gone down to completely normal size. 

The doctor was baffled. She had told us that this was a sheer miracle, as his diagnosis of PKD is not something that just "goes away". She said she had never seen anything like this before, going from a certain, clear-cut case of PKD to being absolutely NOTHING. She said the only explanation she could arrive to was that "maybe there was a kinked ureter or something, causing things to build up". 

Owen is my reason for believing in God. I think that the experience we went through with him is nothing short of a miracle. Many people have tried to explain away his condition and my belief that the power of prayer healed him, but nothing can shake that belief. I will always believe in the power of prayer and I *never* take prayer requests lightly. For us, Owen is our miracle baby...nothing short of a miracle...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Couponing-Keeping America fat???

From previous posts on my blog, it's obvious that I used to enjoy practice couponing. Eventually times got hard for my family and I nixed the newspaper subscription, thereby eliminating the source from which I got most of my coupons. Now I'm not going to lie or mislead, I did save money while I was couponing, but the cost savings are not that great when you consider what I was actually feeding my family. 

I'm not some crazy health nut now or anything...I mean, it's not the end of the world if I, God forbid, make brownies from a box! However, seeing what some people pick up while couponing has opened my eyes to something-It's ALL JUNK. 

For this example, I look to someone I know personally. This person is rather proud of their accomplishment, walking away saving $XX by using coupons. That's *awesome*, but they scored chips, oil, chocolate, sugary cereal, ice cream, bread with zero nutritional value, cookies, and crackers on ONE shopping trip. I understand they're super proud of their purchase, but enjoy your heart attack, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and higher risk for obesity. 

I may sound critical right now, but I'm MEANING to sound critical right now. The USDA estimates that a healthier diet could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs and the Centers for Disease Control claim that the government spends 1,000 times more treating disease than preventing it (National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, 2010). Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, which most but not all of us Americans are involved in right now, can lead directly to chronic disease later in life. Chronic disease means more healthcare dollars spent, more stress, and a decreased quality of life when we're older (or even NOW). 

It's not fair for me to give the impression that all coupons are bad or evil, but coupons are a marketing strategy...manufacturers put them out in the hopes that offering a small amount of savings will encourage people to buy their products. Guess what...it works! The latest NCH study shows that coupon use has indeed increased sales on products where coupons are offered, not only successfully creating new customers, but increasing brand loyalty and brand awareness. Additionally, coupons allow manufacturers to create so-called "tie-ins" and motivate purchases that don't involve the use of a coupon (NCH, n.d.).


Just a quick search of coupons available reveal mainly processed foods like chips, cookies, instant oatmeal, and cereal. There are also coupons for paper products, diapers, and personal hygiene products. Yes, both types of coupons get used, and no I don't see an issue with using coupons to get discounts on things like laundry detergent. My concern is that with couponing being SO unbelievably popular right now, we are beginning to eat increasingly unhealthy food. Not only are we eating more unhealthy foods, but we're generally eating MORE of them. There are a lot of couponers out there that stockpile goods like cake/cookie/brownie mixes, frosting, packaged mashed potato mixes, and cereals. Either these things will expire, or people will eat it up. 


Okay, it's not bad to save money and the reality is that people buy products like this anyway. My real bone to pick is with manufacturers...why won't they offer coupons on healthy food? Although I have seen some deals for things like salad mix, bulk fruit, and semi-healthy yogurts, it feels like coupons for really healthy products are just few and far between. I still stand by my opinion that coupons are making us fatter. We are buying unhealthy food in massive quantities, more than likely related to the fact that we can get such great deals with sales and coupons. But is it really saving us any money in the long-run? What about doctor's visits, costs of prescriptions for preventable diseases or ailments, and a deteriorating quality of life? Either way, most coupons issued are for unhealthy products. I suppose it's buyer beware, right?!




References:
National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity. (2010). National health priorities briefing book. Retrieved June 13, 2012 from http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/cdc_briefing_book_fy10.pdf. 

NCH Marketing. (n.d.). NCH annual coupon facts. Retrieved June 13, 2012, from https://www2.nchmarketing.com/ResourceCenter/assets/0/22/459/535/075ecfb07df44902bb773158e59b9b8a.pdf. 
Sunday, June 3, 2012

When you're "different"

I've always known that I'm not quite like anyone else. I've always been really independent and okay with being by myself...

When my husband was moving away without us, I had so many people saying "Oh, you poor thing" or "That's such a long time by yourself". I think they found it odd that I wasn't bothered by it all that much. I wasn't afraid to be by myself...Lord knows I would miss my husband (and do miss him) like crazy, but I'm not scared to be in this house by myself, raising our four children for what will end up being a time period equivalent to a drop in the bucket of our married life. Five months? Big deal! 

Most recently I had someone make a comment that I had "weird" taste in the limited TV programs that I watch. Oh...because I'd rather watch a National Geographic special or a documentary on History instead of Desperate Housewives or Jersey Shore I'm WEIRD? 

Well to you I say...I sure am glad I'm weird! I'm glad I'm weird because my 6 year old took the time to watch the documentary on the planet with me yesterday...it was a learning experience for both of us and now he knows about plate tectonics, earthquakes, what the Earth is made of, and all sorts of other fun facts that he hasn't learned in school yet. How fun! How fun is it that my programs are enriching not only for me, but for my kids? I think it's cool. I'd rather do that than be afraid that they'll walk in on Snooki and the latest flavor of the day making out under blankets...or shooing them out of the room because the program isn't safe for kids' eyes. 

ANYWHO...

My latest weird gesture, the one that no one understands, is the one where I feel compelled to give our belongings, the ones we've been trying to sell, to families in need. When Brandon and I were first together we were blessed with generous family members willing to give us a bed, a couch, or a dresser. Some people are not that lucky...I know how frustrating it was that we couldn't even afford blinds (yes...the story of the paper blinds will come back to haunt you continuously, I'm sure of it). 

In a society so consumed with possessions, I find that even the word "GIVE" is a dirty word. The concept is nearly lost; not completely lost, but nearly lost. Not only that, but people are so obsessed with "getting a good deal" that I've seen grown women fight over a child's toy that sold for $10 when it costs $15 brand new. Ridiculousness! I've seen people obsessed with getting top dollar for the items that they sell. It's sad :( Now, I'm not saying that making money is a bad thing, but I wish people would soften up a bit. It'd make me feel a little less "weird" for wanting to give all of my excess away so someone else can benefit from it. 


Either way, it's okay to be different. Someone, somewhere appreciates the difference. It's like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, or a refreshing glass of water with just a splash of lemon. It's refreshing to be different :)
Monday, May 28, 2012

Where is *your* focus?

Well, the past few months have been quite a ride for my family. We've been through a lot of changes, and these changes will continue through the end of June. June itself is a ridiculously busy month with a wedding, kids getting out of school, bachelorette party, my graduation from college, and moving 500 miles away. Despite all of my activity, I still  have time to focus on someone else's situation and think "Wow, they sure are lucky. Everything is going right in their life, things are falling in to place for them, and we're stuck by the wayside in these horrible circumstances. Why can't *we* catch a break?" 

Worrying about someone else, or focusing on someone else, is just plain exhausting. I cannot tell you how many times I've questioned God's judgment or His plan. Sometimes I just wish that *we* would be the lucky ones to with the lottery, or find a great deal on a house, or have a baby (yes, I'm aware that I have four already...but babies are so wonderful I can't help but want another one). 

That's me...always focused on someone else. So much of my energy expended on someone else and on feelings of sadness, jealousy, and envy. In the Bible, Joseph's brothers were jealous of him and the favor he had with their father, so they did all kinds of unspeakable acts out of their jealousy. That's why I don't like these emotions...because they make people do mean things like get angry and destroy relationships. These emotions stink. 



But sometimes we cannot see past our own circumstances and we get jealous of what someone else has, or what positive event is happening in someone else's life. At this point, I want to scream at the Lord to "FIX ME" because I don't like feeling this way. Ephesians 6:18 says we should always be in prayer, and Romans 8:26-27 says that even if we don't have the words to pray, the Lord will help us because he knows our heart.  Philippians 4:6 says we should pray for everything...


So...pray always, pray fervently, and look to the Lord when I'm faced with dilemmas and feelings like this? I think I can do that :)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's a funny kind of funny, a funny kind of sad :(

This describes my emotions as of late...

I've been going through some serious stuff lately, and all I can think of is how this is just a funny kind of sad. It's a weird sad. Today, I'm talking about my expectations as a parent and how I'm surprised that I'm sad something isn't working out "according to plan". 

So I'm notoriously known as the girl who is *terrified* of making plans, but that's not always the case. I like to leave my schedule open because I hate to disappoint people if I can't make an event, but when it comes to my kids and their childhood, I like plans. 

Justin went to preschool when he was younger, then Owen was able to go. I always assumed Jacek would have the same experience and go to preschool and for the most part, he did. But lately that's not been the case, and I found out today that he will no longer be going to preschool. It makes me sad, but I don't know why. 

I think it makes me sad because I long for him to have the *same* experiences that his brothers had. It was a positive experience for Justin and Owen, but Jacek never took to the 'school' thing. So I shouldn't be disappointed that he's not able to go any longer, but I'm still disappointed that there won't be any preschool pictures to hang alongside his brothers' preschool pictures. I haven't figured out why this bothers me so much :( He seems okay with it, but I'm not. 

Sometimes parenting brings up things in me that I really don't like, and this is one of those times. 
Thursday, March 15, 2012

No Kids Allowed

In the past year or so there has been increased attention on places that are enforcing "no kids allowed" rules. This, to me, is very strange. To be fair, I think that having kid-free locations can be appropriate, but general "no kids" rules seem to be the next "big" thing and I think it's horrible. 

Our children are starting out their lives being discriminated against RIGHT OFF THE BAT. What's next? Kids must occupy the back of a bus, use special water fountains and bathrooms, and must stay out of movie theaters? I think that this could get really out of control, and the really sad thing is that it's not only the kids who have to deal with this, but the parents as well. It's already difficult enough to take a kid to a restaurant, but to have restaurants NOT allow them AT ALL? That seems absurd to me. I sure hope the future of this fad isn't grocery stores banning children-I'd lose my most valuable helpers :( 

This is part of a bigger issue that I see, and that is the attacks on the family, and sometimes children in general. But my problem is this: people not being able to go where they want to go, or being forbidden from being somewhere SIMPLY BECAUSE OF WHO THEY ARE OR SOMETHING ABOUT THEM THAT PEOPLE DON'T LIKE. That doesn't sit well with me at all...
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Then there are "those" days...

Today I'm having one of "those" days. I'm sure every person with a heartbeat has an idea of what I'm talking about...one of those days where you just...need...a...break. 

We're in the midst of some serious changes in my household. We've had to make a decision that we've never wanted to make, we're in the middle of figuring out how to move our household several hundred miles away, I'm in the last quarter of my college "career", and then there's all the normal craziness of single-parenting four children while my husband is away for work. Let's not forget the 7 year old's science fair project that's due in a week. Ugh. More work. Work, Work, Work.

I'm overwhelmed and I...NEED...A...BREAK! It's rainy outside, the kids have tracked mud through the clean house, there are food products and wrappers everywhere (my fault-I tried to escape for an hour and have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband), the kids are completely unruly and misbehaved. They just don't understand. I've been frustrated all day because their behavior is just awful. Why can't they just play nicely downstairs??? I NEED A BREAK!

And then something happened. I'm sitting here stewing about how awful today is, how overwhelmed I am, and my 7 year old turns on a TV show that I particularly enjoy and sits down. All the kids are quiet...

I really don't need a break as in a "vacation" or "to get away", I just need some cooperation. Some quiet. And that's exactly what's happening right now. The thing is...it's really not *their* fault. I am under a lot of stress and it can feel like walking on eggshells around me at times. I do my best to keep a light environment when the kids are awake, but sometimes the situation gets the best of me. 

Isn't that interesting? The *situation*is controlling ME. How bizarre...something that is nothing unless *I* make it something is controlling me, my attitude, my feelings. Do I really need a break? Maybe so...everyone needs some time to decompress. But perhaps I need to learn a more effective way of dealing with things. I need to learn to not let things get the best of me, to not become overwhelmed by what's going on. 


So frequently we like to say "My kids are driving me crazy!" I'm going to start challenging myself to examine what is *really* going on...is it my kids, or is it the situation? How many fights could be avoided if instead of projecting our frustrations or anger on to people, if we analyzed what was really eating at us, what the "real" issue is. I can say that more often than not, it's the situation, it's not my kids. It's the fact that my kids are loud when I want quiet, it's the fact that the kids have made a mess when I just got finished cleaning. Is it my kids, or is it the situation? 


Anyway...that's my random rambling for today...
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We're going "Bare Bones"

For the past 5 1/2 years, we have called this place "home". We've been proud to call it home; we've brought two babies home from the hospital here, watched first steps being taken, watched kids fight here...it's hard to leave a place that holds so much. 

However, this place holds more than memories...it holds stuff. Almost six years of accumulated stuff, to be exact. While we'll be sad to leave this place and the memories it holds, we're not sad to say goodbye to our stuff, and that is why we're choosing a "bare bones" move. 

I believe that Americans have an unhealthy attachment to stuff. After all, what do we really need? This is often a question I think we are afraid to ask ourselves. If you had 15 minutes to gather your belongings, what would you grab? First of all, you'd be surprised at what you can round up in 15 minutes...but I already know what I would grab. However, I have more than 15 minutes, I have about 15 weeks. In light of this, I need to get rid of a lot of this stuff. 

This isn't a popular view to take, however. Yes, it is expensive to sell everything and then replace it later, but when you have no intention of "replacing" it, when you genuinely plan to live on less, then selling is the way to go. And that is exactly what I intend to do. If it doesn't sell, it goes to goodwill. 

Currently I have about 13 bags ready for the giveaway truck, and I'll have more by the end of the week. I also have high chairs and other big items, and I'm sure that there's a hungry dumpster out there just *waiting* for all of our broken stuff and miscellaneous trash. But still, even my family thinks it's crazy that I'm just doing away with most of our stuff. But the fact of the matter is that this stuff has so little value, is it even worth moving? Not only little monetary value, but sentimental value as well. In fact, as I look around, I can name on one hand the items I'd like to keep- my dining room table, my vanity, my Playstation, and my computer. That's it! 

As I go through the motions of paring things down, I'm going to have to make some tough decisions, and I have a feeling that not many people could do a "bare bones" move because there's not only so much stuff, but often times, we let our "stuff" define us. When we throw something away, we feel like we're throwing away a part of ourselves; and when someone low-balls us on something that we're trying to sell, we often feel like they are devaluing *us*. The challenge is to not let my stuff define me and to no longer let it run or ruin my life...

So...Happy cleaning. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: The Blessing





The Blessing
John Trent and Gary Smalley
Five Stars

I have had the pleasure of reading The Blessing over the past several weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the authors did a phenomenal job in this revised edition of The Blessing  and I truly believe that every parent, or every adult child, should read this book.
The Blessing takes us through a few stories about children who have not been "blessed" by their parents, or who have otherwise felt not accepted by them. It briefly describes some of the ramifications of this non-existent support and explains the importance of a true blessing. 

Part 2 of the book explains exactly what a blessing is comprised of: five elements that are essential for a blessing, followed by a brief description of each. The rest of part 2 delves further in to each element of a blessing and gives examples of the blessing in both real-life situations as well as from Biblical events.  


Part 3 of the book gets in to what happens when the blessing is not received or when it is withheld. Once again, examples from real life as well as a reference to the Bible help to further the reader's understanding of what the authors are trying to convey. 


Part 4 is a "blessing challenge" that the authors put forward. Make a blessing for yourself and your children, live in the blessing, and again uses some examples from the Bible to illustrate. 


All in all, this is a *fantastic* book for parents of any age, as I believe it is never too late to give your child your blessing. I highly recommend it and give it five stars






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Skool

I've had homeschooling on my heart for a little while, and while I briefly attempted to do preschool with my now-7 year old at home, at that point in time, I failed miserably. I never thought I'd be able to pull off homeschooling, but now I'm faced with a big decision and the opportunity to try my hand at it. 

With hubby working in a different state and us relocating there shortly, I have to decide whether I want to put my kiddos in Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade in our new town when there is a high probability that we will move again in the next few years. Homeschooling actually seems like the logical choice, but it's still a scary decision to make. However, this is a small, small town. I doubt that there will be co-ops and groups and activities for homeschoolers...something that is readily available here. 

However, I'm really beginning to lose faith in the public school system. Even private schools aren't all they're cracked up to be anymore. I firmly believe that parental influence and involvement is a huge factor in school success, sometimes I think that a parent can be really involved, but the student just doesn't get what they need *at* school. 

Case in point: Straight A student cannot spell worth beans. What kind of straight A student can't spell? In middle school? This seems so incredibly backwards to me. This person...I don't think it's necessarily their fault, after all, if the teacher (or parent) never corrects improper grammar, spelling, or punctuation, how are they supposed to know it's wrong? However, how can a student go through school writing papers and speeches and still get an 'A' without being able to spell? 

I find this highly frustrating. 

At this point, said 7 year old son is struggling in school. Despite my best efforts, he just doesn't "get" it. My husband is dyslexic and I often wonder about my kiddo, determining what's normal and what's not. The teacher, God bless her soul she's a wonderful lady, but she's maddeningly unhelpful! I try my best and we get through some of it, but it's taken me awhile to realize that my son needs a different style of teaching. I'm not trying to sound conceited, but learning always came naturally to me, especially history and language arts. I couldn't understand why my son wasn't understanding what I was teaching him at home with his homework because I was teaching it *exactly* like his teacher. He would get frustrated, I would get frustrated. Step in Mr. Wonderful-scary-good-at-math-husband. He began going over math with our son and he picked it up almost immediately. The problem was that he wasn't teaching him the "right" way to do things. He said "I've always done math this way, I've always learned this way, and it's 'wrong' ?" 

That got me thinking...it's not necessarily wrong, it's just a different style. I can't help but wonder if my son would be less frustrated and understanding things better if he were taught that way instead of the way the school teaches? So, this gets me to thinking about homeschool-for one, because I think that the school system is doing our children a huge injustice if they're handing out 'A' grades to kids who can't spell, and for two because my son clearly needs to be taught a different style. 

I hate making decisions like this, especially when it affects my kids' future!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interesting...

Awhile back when the Duggar's announced they were pregnant (before the loss was announced, obviously), I had posted my congratulations on my facebook page. A baby is a blessing, whether it's your first or your 20th! However, there were some people on my facebook who were a little less "enthusiastic" about it; one person said it was "disturbing and disgusting" and the other person said other negative comments I do not wish to repeat. 

I understand that not everyone shares my beliefs, and that's OKAY! I'm fine with that. What I don't understand is how someone could say things like that. 

Interestingly enough, one of those people posted their excitement about the new season of MTV's popular "documentary" series "16 and Pregnant". 

Interesting...

So it's deplorable for a married, well-adjusted couple to welcome their 20th child in to the world, a couple who raises productive members of society, but the idea of BABIES HAVING BABIES is something that is celebrated and looked forward to? 

What the *heck* is going on here? I understand that not everyone likes the idea of someone having 20 kids, but I *really* don't think that this is about the fact that little Jubilee was the Duggars' 20th child, but rather, it was about their beliefs. The Duggars were following their beliefs, their convictions...and they get attacked for it on a daily basis. And I'm not saying that the girls featured on the MTV show don't get criticized or beat down...but the idea that one is celebrated and the other is castigated is extremely puzzling to me. Doesn't that send the wrong message? 


Now, this isn't about "Teen Moms" and criticizing them. I was a teen mom; I was 18 when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. But the idea that this type of thing seems to be so accepted, but a married couple having a baby seems so unaccepted, that's just strange to me.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One the verge of change

Today's Bible passages:

"In all ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight". Proverbs 3:6 
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

You know, God works in funny ways. Sometimes we pray so fervently for something to happen, but it just doesn't happen the way we thought it should. 

My husband received an email a few months ago saying that God doesn't really say no, he says "not right now". When you think about it like that, it seems like not getting what "you want" is a pill that isn't so hard to swallow. It's not no, it's just a not right now. I'll have to update at a later date as to how this applies to our circumstances right now, but for now, I have to keep my lips sealed.

Have you ever been saddened by the idea that maybe God is saying "no" to your prayers? I sure have...facts are facts, not getting what you want STINKS! However, sometimes God has some greater things in store for you, so with this in mind, be patient. What you are praying for and not getting might be a lesson in patience, or it might be because something greater is out there for you and what you initially wanted isn't entirely right for you. 

When you're not getting what you want, be patient. Pray on it. And then realize that God has His own plan for us. Hindsight often reveals that our plans were waaay off and we like God's plans better :)
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's in store for 2012?

The new year is kind of weird, isn't it? Methinks it strange how so many people regard it as a "fresh start" when in reality, every day lends the possibility of a fresh start :) Just a random observation to kick off this new year!

I do love hearing about other peoples' resolutions, though. What I don't particularly like is hearing about their "failure" to keep their resolution. Now, I think it's important to note that I'm more of a short-term person, so to set a resolution to maintain for the whole year scares the pants off me. I'm not saying that people who don't keep their new year's resolutions are failing, but they seem to think so! I've seen so many friends admit "defeat" after a month or so...realistically, you haven't failed. Tomorrow is a new day, so get back on that horse and go again!

The other thing that I don't particularly like is when people set these unrealistic resolutions or expectations of themselves. Although I commend their effort and their desire to set high expectations for themselves, sometimes they're not always realistic. A few years ago I set a "resolution" to clean my entire house every day...it was an effort to gain some control in my life, or what I *thought* would be control. I failed miserably. After a few days of not seeing out my resolution, I felt completely beat down and like a total failure. How realistic is it to set a resolution to clean a 2300 square foot home with several people living in it EVERY DAY? The ENTIRE house? How realistic is it that bathrooms need to be scrubbed down every day? My resolution was a little too big, and I think that's an issue many people have-the resolution is HUGE! 


My suggestion for keeping a "new year's resolution", or if you like my approach-a new day resolution, I recommend these things:


1. Take baby steps! If you have a BIG goal that you'd like to accomplish, resolve to do a little bit at a time. Moderation is key...too big of a goal can seem daunting and stifle your motivation. 


2. Make sure your resolution is realistic. This is extremely important because while it may seem that others are able to work out for one hour per day, every day, this might not be realistic for you. I'm happy if I get a shower every day...working out for that long every day isn't entirely realistic for me. And it's important to note here that my daily resolution isn't necessarily to put in an hour on the elliptical, but just to be more active! Sit less, move more!

3. If you have an "off day", don't beat yourself up about it. Say that there is a day when it's just impossible for you to do what you had resolved to do. Don't beat yourself up about it, but remember that *every day* is a fresh start, so start over tomorrow. 


4. Start. That's the best advice I can give. Follow steps 1-3 and then START! 


5. It's okay to have a day off! Never forget that you need some time to check out and do what you need to do :) If you're so focused on your goals that you are neglecting other things around you (husband, kids, feeding the dog, taking care of yourself), that's bad juju. You need to take a day off every now and then. 


It's important to set goals in life otherwise we really have nothing to look forward to. Don't get discouraged if you see others around you doing things that you seemingly can't do, and don't get discouraged if it feels like you're not accomplishing all that you wanted to accomplish. Less comparison, more focusing on yourself and what you need to do. 


I hope everyone has a blessed 2012 and remembers that every day is a fresh start! January 1 is NOT the only day that you can set goals or "resolutions" for yourself :)