Friday, January 31, 2014

lazy lunches / 002

 photo lazylunches_zpse638e3b0.jpg Pre-toddlers and toddlers can sometimes be super hard to feed. Amiright? I mean, they are picky for sure, they can't quite feed themselves with a spoon and like anyone else they get tired of eating the same thing every single day.

When I say pre-toddler, I'm referring to that age in between goopy baby food-eaters and serious toddlers. They are stumbling around, getting better at walking, definitely gaining independence but aren't quite there yet. Let's call this age 10 months to 18 months. I feel like this is the hardest age to feed.

I wrote a post a while back about Isaac's favorite meals and snacks at the age of 16 months. You can read that post here. I noticed that it is by far my most pinned blog post on Pinterest and it occurred to me that this is an area where moms are looking for ideas. So, the idea of regularly posting our pre-toddler and toddler meals on the blog was born. We're calling it "lazy lunches" because that was the title of that very first post.

I'm going to try my darnedest to post every week about what Eli is eating and hopefully give you some new ideas. I'll also be posting pictures of these meals on Instagram (you can follow me @jessibridges) with the hashtag #lazylunches. Will you join me? Please post photos of your kiddo's meals and snacks so we can all get ideas from each other. Because let's face it, we all get into a rut time and again.

I must first warn you that if I'm going to be sharing what my son is eating in photos, you are going to get a glimpse at his dirty high chair tray. I mean, it just doesn't always get cleaned.

Eli is currently 14 months old. He had his first food, avocado, at 5 mos. He wasn't as interested as he'd led us to believe. He didn't really begin eating solids until almost 8 mos. I attribute why he loves food so much to him starting to eat at his own pace. Because, from the moment he started eating, he could.not.get.enough. And the kid, seriously prefers veggies to fruit. But don't worry, Isaac (my 3 year old) was a super picky eater, so I'll definitely be sharing meal ideas that will hopefully appease even the picky eaters! Also, I have to note that he does have a few food allergies: egg, yogurt, milk and some cheeses.

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Cut up fresh fruit is always a winner. Eli has to have a banana every single morning. Or else I think he might die. With his fruit he's eating homemade granola. It's grain-free for you Paleo people and made entirely from nuts and flax seed. The recipe is here. It's fantastic. Every morning, he also gets a cup of Vanilla Almond Milk. If he wasn't allergic to it, I would add some yogurt to this meal.

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Hello pancake breakfast!! As I noted above, food allergies. Bummer for this kid.

Pancakes in our house look like this:
1 cup Bisquick
1 egg yolk
1 heaping spoonful of ground flax seed
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

He gets powdered sugar on top because it's not messy like syrup (we only use real maple syrup. If you don't, seriously switch. It's so much better and my oldest, who has a crazy reaction to high-fructose corn syrup and sugar in general, handles it just fine). Recently a friend suggested I try making a glaze for his pancakes mixing together coconut oil and mashed banana. Sounds amazing right? Haven't tried it yet, but will next time and let you know the verdict.

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Avocado is his favorite. Plus, since he can't eat a whole lot of dairy it's a good source of fat. 

Also, a really good food for babies is cooked beans. We eat a lot of pinto beans in our house. It's so easy to just throw a huge pot on the stove and let it simmer all day long. You can either use the beans to make re-fried beans for burritos or just serve them as is. Finger foods are an absolute must in our house. Other beans to use: garbanzo, navy, black eyed-peas, and lima beans. He also likes edamame. 

My go-to lunch or snack food if I'm out of ideas or food is cream cheese on crackers. The ones pictured are whole wheat crackers from Trader Joes. They're the kids' favorite. But saltines or ritz would work too! 

And a side of fruit with every meal. Here he's eating dried cranberries, another favorite in our house. 

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This is a leftover dinner lunch. Pasta with kale and spinach pesto. I make my own pesto and the recipe varies each time but here is the gist.

Throw it all into the food processor:
Equal parts fresh kale and spinach
A handful of almonds (or could be cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, really any nut of your choice!)
A handful of shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Turn on the food processor and drizzle in olive oil until the pesto is combined and sauce-like. But, you don't want it mealy and you don't want it runny.

Cook your favorite pasta: tortellini, ravioli, shells, spaghetti, whatever! And pour pesto over hot pasta. Sprinkle parmesan on top if you'd like.

With it he's eating cornbread and he most likely ate a mandarin orange before I snapped the photo.

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This is the easiest go-to meal for my particular pre-toddler. I buy the bags of frozen Vegetable Soup Mix from Kroger. It's basically a bunch of cut-up veggies (easy for me!). I throw half a bag into a vegetable steamer over simmering water. Season the veggies with a little salt, pepper and paprika, put the lid on and cook for 5 or so minutes. It's great as a side to go with something, or I serve it over a grain. Here he's eating it with barley, a fantastic source of protein!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

living for this moment: state of the home VLOG

First of all, thank you to everyone who is joining us for this first Living for This Moment link-up. We are beyond excited about this project and that you're joining us. My prayer is that the Lord will use this link-up and some other fun things we hope to announce soon, to create an online community where wives, mothers, homemakers can come together and be totally honest with each other and encourage and build each other up.

This month we're talking about the current state of our homes, the things we are confident about and the things that we could use some help changing. And of course, we're talking about our 2014 goals!


You can read more about my 2014 BIG goals here.

Now its your turn! Create a short video (under 5 minutes) or write a blog post following this month's prompt and link up using the widget below. You only need to enter your post once to be linked up on both blogs!! Please take a few minutes to visit the other ladies who linked up and leave comments on each vlog you watch. The link-up will be open for 2 weeks, so if you don't have a vlog to link-up today, you still have plenty of time to join us! I can't wait to watch all of your vlogs!

Grab a button so your readers can find this linkup as well!!

Living For This Moment Linkup

An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, January 27, 2014

how to eat the same 20 meals all.the.time.

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Over the course of the last 10 years as a wife and mom, one of the ways I've found to keep myself sane is to 1. menu plan and 2. repeat the same meals over and over again in my menus. That probably sounds like insanity, just doing the same thing over and over, but it seriously saves me so much time and energy. And therefore my sanity.

I get a lot of questions about menu planning and about cooking. They are both things I love to do and I really enjoy helping others to improve their own processes. Here is my guess about why many find menu planning and cooking to be difficult or intimidating: we think that to be a good cook, a successful homemaker, we need to always be cooking new and exciting recipes. The same 'ole, same 'ole is boring.

But maybe we're bored of those recipes because we don't have the right perspective of food and meals with our family. We'll get to that in a minute, but first let's talk about why it's totally okay and really helpful to eat the same 20 meals over and over again:

  • I have almost every single recipe committed to memory. No need to always pull them up on pinterest (how annoying) or flip through a cookbook.
  • You can make a list of your recipes to use as you menu plan. Not a whole lot of choices so the process is super quick. (After a few months, you'll be able to remember all of your dinners without even looking at a list).
  • I buy basically the same ingredients for every menu so my grocery lists take almost no time to write. Or you can even have a pre-written list to use every time. No more list writing!
  • I know exactly where every ingredient is located in the grocery store (because I always buy the same things) and so it takes me less than 30 minutes to shop, with 2 kids. In and out! 
  • I don't have to worry about learning a new recipes, accidentally forgetting an ingredient at the store that I'm not used to buying or accidentally not leaving myself enough time to make the meal.
  • My kids don't complain about dinner because they eat the meals all the time and are used to them.

I know you're wondering, how in the world can you eat the same meals all the time and not get tired of them? The answer to that is contentment. Seriously, what you eat is a heart issue.

It doesn't take much observation to notice how obsessed we are with food in this culture. And I don't mean just that we eat a lot of it, and all the time. But also that we want it to be pretty and pleasing to the eyes, mouth and stomach. We always want to try something new and in a new way. And then there's always a new diet to try. Hello, there are entire television networks, blogs, careers and business empires dedicated to food.

And I am totally not knocking food. I love food. I eat it often. And I love cooking shows. I watch them far more than my husband appreciates. I'm surprised my television isn't permanently stuck on PBS Create. And I have my favorite food blogs. I mean, where would we be without food blogs and Pinterest?! But food is something I enjoy as a part of my life. And it's something that I view as a gift from God and a reason to turn back to Him and praise Him for what He's allowed me to eat and enjoy.

In order to be content with what we're eating, we need to readjust our focus. It should not be about the food. It should be about the Creator of food, the blessing that He's bestowed on us called food, the worship and thanksgiving for food, and the fellowship we get to enjoy as we eat the food.

When we stop to adjust our focus back to God, the smaller things lose their importance. Not that food isn't important. We obviously need it to survive. But worrying about the food we eat, always needing to try new food, wanting to eat just because, focusing on how the food looks and how much it satisfies us; all of that fades away. And we are simply grateful that the Lord has given us food to begin with.

This post is part of my How to Live Within Your Means series because eating the same 20 meals all the time is one way we've found to live within our means. It's difficult to always stay within your food budget when you change what you eat often. But as I said above, I always know what I'm going to buy and so I know that what I spend on food from month to month doesn't very much. And although we don't have a whole lot of money for food, because I don't spend a lot of energy worrying about, I have learned to be content with what we eat.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Phil 4:11

If you are considering building a similar menu plan, let me offer some tips that have worked for our family. I've also started a Pinterest board called 20 Meals Ideas that includes many of my own 20 Meals and a few others that would work great.

 photo 20meals_zps7a68283b.jpg

1. Pick what you know Think about what you already enjoy cooking. Is there a "go-to" recipe in your box or pinned on pinterest? Make a list of those recipes and add them to your 20 meals. If you already know a recipe really well, you may as well stick with it rather than having to learn a bunch of new ones!

2. Practice makes perfect If you're eating the same meals pretty often, you'll become really good at making those meals pretty fast. And not only that, but once you've mastered a recipe you'll feel more comfortable making changes to it, adding something new, omitting something you feel like isn't working. Just because you cook the same things doesn't mean you can't have a little fun in the kitchen!

3. Consider what your family likes Don't pick meals your family hates. Obviously you want everyone to enjoy dinner. At the same time, there may be a meal or two that your husband absolutely loves that you don't care for and vice versa. Throw one or two of those in there. You might learn to like it. He might learn to like it or eventually you might agree to omit it altogether.

4. Practical over elegance Choose recipes that are fairly easy to make. Nothing with super complicated ingredients or ingredients that are hard to find. That will only make you want to never cook such a recipe again. The goal here is to find recipes that you enjoy cooking! For me, I generally don't make any dinner that takes more than 30, 45 minutes max (with the exception of a roasted chicken, which I do every other week). Some recipes may take a little longer the first couple times, but once you get used to them they will only take 30 minutes. Don't omit those recipes immediately. Give them a chance!

5. Stick to inexpensive and similar ingredients Don't choose recipes that call for ridiculously priced cheeses or an expensive cut of beef. Look for recipes with fresh veggies (and stick to the season if you can so they are more affordable), rice, beans, barley, veggies that can be bought frozen (Kroger has frozen veggies for around $1 a package), and items you can buy in bulk and use over and over again. We eat mostly recipes that call for chicken. I buy a big bag of frozen chicken breasts at Sam's Club and use that for almost every dinner. Aside from that, I buy a double pack of whole chickens. I roast it one day for dinner that night and then use the leftover chicken for the next 2 nights in other meals (think soups, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, pasta etc). Also consider doing a meatless or vegan meal a few times a month. These are substantially cheaper meals.

And please feel free to ask questions in the comments. I will be doing a Q&A post in the furture!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

living for this moment: a brand new project

Today I'm really excited to share something that my friend and fellow blogger, Becky, and I have been discussing over the past couple of weeks. You know I'm big on goals and I get pretty pumped at the beginning of a new year because it means a clean slate. My first BIG goal for the year was to menu plan 3 months at a time. But other than that, I didn't set any goals specific to home management, the state of my home, how I can make it better and more efficient. I did, however, start writing out my action plan for working toward all of my BIG goals and a lot of the steps I would like to take had to do with just that. As I began to write my plan, I found myself thinking back on how I've been doing as a wife and mother over the past year. 

And that is why when Becky asked me to join her for Living For This Moment, especially when we started discussing the first prompt, I didn't even hesitate. Her and I are both stay at home moms who have multiple children and have been married for a while. Because of that, we have each spent several years figuring out what works really well in our homes and and what doesn't. But we also have areas where we struggle and are in need of wisdom, as we all are! 

Next Tuesday, January 28, we are launching a monthly vlog link up to explore the issues of today that help us or prevent us from embracing THIS moment. We invite you to link up on this journey with us as we start with the topic “The State of The Home”.  Make a short video, 3 minutes or less or write a blog post. Then come back next week and link up with both blogs! Below is the prompt.

Living For This Moment - State of the Home:

What part of homemaking do you feel you are good at?

What part of homemaking do you struggle with?

Did you set any goals for 2014? Are you keeping them? Modifying them?

Be sure to grab the button to add to your sidebar and/or post!

Living For This Moment Linkup

PS- We have some other exciting things planned for this project along with the vlog linkup so be sure to stay tuned for those announcements!

Monday, January 20, 2014

we're having a...

2014-01-19 15.08.13
Did you guess? Because I so totally didn't. We are pretty darn thrilled, but I still have no idea what to think. I mean, I'm a boy mom. I grew up with brothers. I know boys! What in the world do I do with a girl?? I'm used to trucks and dirt and blue everything and cars and tractors and more dirt. Girls like that stuff, right?

Okay, maybe I have a little research to do before she gets here. But seriously, I am so excited to meet this little gal and that she gets to have two older brothers! The other day, while Eli was snuggling me (because he is the snuggle monster), I couldn't help but think how wonderful of a brother he will be to a little girl. I mean, they'll be so close in age and he is just so sweet and caring and snuggly. I like to think those qualities will make him a sweet and caring and snuggly older brother.
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Now the question is, do we buy a bunch of girl clothes? Or does she just wear her brothers' hand-me-downs and a bow on her head so people know she's a girl? You know I'm leaning toward the second option. I do have a few girly things my sister-in-law gave me just in case this sort of thing happened. But I have a feeling she will be getting pleeeeeeenty of girly clothes from family and friends. So I'm not too worried.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, we haven't picked a name yet. And we haven't a clue what it will be. We have a list about a mile long of boy names. Not one girl name. I'm sure you've noticed a theme with Isaac and Eli's names (Bible names), but we just aren't so fond of the female names in the Bible. And it's not like we haven't had time to think about it. There's always been and 50% chance we'd have a girl, but still we just don't know.
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[This was Isaac telling me that the pink pants are for the girl baby in my tummy.]

Well, there ya have it. We're having a girl!

ps- Please feel free to submit your name suggestions. I think we might need some help here. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

the IUD: let me say it again

A few years ago I wrote a post about the moral and ethical questions that need be addressed when women, especially Christians, are considering the birth control pill.

Many Christian women use the birth control pill or another form of hormonal contraception. For a long time, I was one of those women! And that is why it was so important for me to write that post. But I've noticed something else that is becoming more and more common among young Christian women, mostly mothers who have a few children and either want to wait for more or want a more "permanent" solution without stepping into the world of sterilization. And that something is the IUD (short for intrauterine device). And I fear that the IUD is far more dangerous and deadly than most realize or want to admit.

So, as I did in my post about the birth control pill, I would like to review how the IUD works and then talk about why that is so concerning and potentially unethical, especially for the Christian. I know I'm going to step on some toes here and that's perfectly okay with me. Ignorance is no excuse before a holy and just God. We all need to know exactly what we're getting ourselves into or what we've gotten ourselves into so that we have an opportunity to repent and change direction. I only write this to inform, never to judge. It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict hearts, not mine.

uterine armor[source]

What kind of IUDs are on the market and how does each work?
There are currently 2 types of IUDs available. Let's look at each individually and how each works, because they work in similar, but different ways.

1. ParaGard- This is a copper IUD that is non-hormonal. Birth control pills work by releasing hormones into the body that stop ovulation, thicken mucus and prevent implantation of an embryo. With a copper IUD, there are no hormones released. To be honest, they don't fully understand why the copper IUD works, but it does. The information insert says this about how ParaGard works:

Ideas about how ParaGard works include... 

Did you catch that? Ideas about how it works. Not "Paragard has been scientificaly proven to work by..." So let's take a look at how they think this particular IUD works:

...preventing sperm from reaching the egg, 
preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg, 

In other words, "Ongoing use of the copper IUD prevents fertilization by releasing copper, which alters fluids in the uterus and fallopian tubes to act as spermicide." The primary way in which Paragard works is more as a spermicide to kill off sperm on it's way to the egg. This prevents both the sperm from reaching the egg and also from fertilizing the egg (which are basically 2 different ways to say the same exact thing). There is nothing morally questionable about this function. Using spermicide in itself as birth control is a simple barrier method and is considered perfectly acceptable for Christians.

It's the third way mentioned in the ParaGard insert that is concerning:

and possibly preventing the egg from attaching (implanting) in the uterus.

First of all, that sentence is a bit misleading. When it says "the egg," what they are referring to is a fertilized egg, not just an egg. Those are two very different things. An egg in itself does not implant into the uterus. That's not how pregnancy works. It must first be fertilized. What they really mean is a newly formed embryo is prevented from attaching to the uterus. In essence, this is an abortion.

They say "possibly" in this sentence because, as with the birth control pill, there is no way to actually know how often this method is happening. But, you can be sure, that at all times while the IUD is inserted, it is creating a hostile environment in the uterus that any embryo, if he/she is formed, will not be able to survive in. Planned Parenthood, a huge supporter of birth control, especially the copper IUD, admits it this way:

In theory, ongoing use of the copper IUD may prevent implantation by thinning the endometrial lining of the uterus, but there is no scientific evidence that this actually happens. 

They use the phrase "in theory" here because again, we cannot know exactly how often this happens. But we know it does. It's one of the ways that ParaGard works, as we just saw. They can say there is no scientific evidence, but that is because, again, there is know way to know exactly. It would be incredibly difficult to replicate this in a scientific study. But, no one is denying that the copper IUD does work in this way.

Now that we know how the copper IUD works, let's look at the second type of IUD:

2. Mirena- Mirena is a hormonal IUD. Because of this, it works more similarly to a birth control pill than the copper IUD. However, the difference between Mirena and most pills is that is is estrogen-free (some pills called "mini-pills" are also estrogen-free and work in the exact same way as Mirena). We'll get to why that's important in a minute, but first let's take a look at what the information insert says about how this IUD works:

contraceptive effectiveness of Mirena has not been conclusively demonstrated. Studies of Mirena prototypes have suggested several mechanisms that prevent pregnancy: 

Again, similar to the copper IUD, the studies about how exactly this birth control method work are not conclusive. There is no way to know exactly how it works or how often each speculated method works. They are only suggestions. Let's look at the ways they believe Mirena to work:

...thickening of cervical mucus preventing passage of sperm into the uterus, 
inhibition of sperm capacitation or survival...

In layman's terms, Mirena works in the same ways that ParaGard works except that instead of copper, it uses a type of progesterin (a synthetic progesterone). The sperm is kept from entering the uterus or the fallopian tubes by thickening a type of cervical mucus that is hostile toward sperm. The idea here is that the sperm will be killed off before it can reach the egg. But, as with the copper IUD, there is a third method in action here:

...and alteration of the endometrium. 

The Mirena insert speaks in much fancier terms than the ParaGard insert, that's for sure. Alteration of the endometrium means this: the lining of the uterus that a newly formed embryo would attach to is altered, meaning it's so thin that the embryo cannot implant and will die. 

How are ParaGard and Mirena similar?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how the IUD works, whether copper or hormonal, we need to consider how they are the same and why women, especially Christians, must be very careful about whether or not they decide to use this type of birth control method.

If you have an understanding of the birth control pill, you know that most contain both estrogen and progesterin, as I stated above and in my original post. Notice that both the copper and the hormonal IUD contain no estrogen. This is the important part so stay with me. Estrogen is the hormone in birth control pills that is responsible for inhibiting ovulation. In fact, when you read an insert about how the pill works, the number one way in which the pill stops pregnancy is by stopping ovulation. If the ovary doesn't release an egg, there is no egg to fertilize and the sperm that reach the fallopian tube simply die off.

So, if the IUD doesn't contain estrogen what does that mean? Simply this:

Every women using an IUD still continues to ovulate every single month, just as she did before the IUD was inserted.

This means that there is always an egg released, when the time comes for ovulation, that has the potential to be fertilized, in turn, becoming a newly formed human being, from the moment of conception.

So, if the initial method of preventing pregnancy fails, which in the case with IUDs is stopping sperm, there are now no more barriers in place to prevent conception. The only thing you have left now is that the lining in your uterus is so thin that it will cause the baby to be aborted. This is how both Mirena and ParaGard work.

Why should this matter to the Christian woman?
The thing is, I'm not making this up. I'm not trying to be scary or contentious. I am simply following the line of reasoning based on scientific information printed in the inserts for each type of IUD. It doesn't take a PhD to come to the logical conclusion that an abortion is possible when using the IUD. Every single month, this could be taking place.

But like I said before, we don't know for sure. We can't know for sure. And that's why all the dissension on this topic. We only know that the stakes are far higher with the IUD than with other forms of hormonal birth control.

One thing, however, is crystal clear: when an egg is always present during ovulation, and the uterus is always hostile to an embryo, if that first method doesn't work, we know what will. And that is why the IUD is so effective. It almost always prevents implantation. But I would venture to guess that in many instances, it isn't preventing conception. (I need to stop here and note that conception and pregnancy are the same thing. Once the baby is conceived, you are pregnant. Some like to say that you aren't technically pregnant until the embryo attaches in the uterus, but based on science and embryology, that simply isn't the case).

As Christians, we believe that once life is created, once it begins in the womb, at conception, it's alive. The baby, whether we want to call it an embryo or a blastocyst or a fetus, is still a living, separate, newly created human person. There is no denying that.

If we ignore the fact that with certain birth control methods, there is always a chance that a newly created human baby could be destroyed, at your hands, there will be consequences. And with the IUD, there's always a chance. When you play with fire, you're bound to get burned. Taking a risk means there's always a chance of losing or getting it wrong. And my fear is that too many of us are claiming ignorance or saying, "that wouldn't happen in my case" or "my doctor told me otherwise" (placing the blame elsewhere), will save us from the justice of God. But the truth is, none of those worked for Adam or Eve. They tried them all! And yet, they were still held accountable for their own decisions and actions.

We are too.

So please, Christian, hear me out. Is the convenience of an IUD worth the risk of ending the life of your own baby? Knowingly or not? 

Get on your knees, take that question before God, but I guarantee you already know the answer. I'm not going to decide for you, but you have to make a decision either way.

For further consideration:
The insertion of an IUD is incredibly painful because the cervix must be dilated first. Also, any manipulation to the cervix always carries with it the risk of damage.

The Mirena insert states an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy while on the IUD. 1/2 of women who became pregnant while using Mirena had ectopic pregnancies. Such pregnancies are potentially deadly to women and always deadly for the baby.

Both IUDs lead to an increased risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which is an infection of the uterus that can cause irreversible damage. Risk is highest just after the IUD is inserted.

For alternatives to the IUD and other hormonal contraception, you can read this post.

Further reading:
Christian Birth Control Options from Mars Hill Church
Can birth control cause abortion?
New study on IUD used as emergency contraception causes abortion

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

reflection on 2013's one little word and my pick for 2014

I began choosing #onelittleword each year in 2012. That year, it wasn't so much a word, as it was a phrase: be intentional, simplify (which is currently my most pinned pin on pinterest. must be a popular sentiment for the new year!). Last year I wasn't so intentional about my word choice. I don't think I even wrote a blog post about it. I mean, how unofficial is something if I didn't blog about it??

My word for last year was together.

I chose it at the beginning of the year, thinking it would be a good fit for 2013 and promptly forgot all about it. Seriously, like 2 days in I probably wouldn't even have been able to tell you what word I chose. It was that unintentional.

But the funny thing is, together ended up being the perfect word for 2013.

The last week of 2012 our family of four was finally able to stand on our own feet again and move into our own place. It was small and sort of in the ghetto and it was a rental, but we finally had our own space after sharing a very small space at my parents' house for the previous 6 months. It was a wonderful feeling.

For the first time in a while, we were out on our own and we were together. But this time we had a new addition: Eli, who was born while we were living with my parents'. Really, 2013 was the year that we grew and did life as a family of 4. And while we didn't do anything together intentionally because that was the word I chose, we certainly did a lot of things together! Trips to the pool, birthday celebrations, hiking at Red Rock, buying our first home, beach camping for Thanksgiving, and Christmas morning in our own house.


For 2014, I am completely switching gears. This is a year that I have super high hopes for. While 2013 was just sort of a year to get through, I want 2014 to be a year that I make happen. And I have some big plans. But I'm also totally relying on God to guide me to His plans.

This year, my word is moxie.

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Ben and I decided that moxie was a girly way of saying aggressive. And I think it fits quite well. As I mentioned in my post on my 5 BIG goals for 2014, one area that I've been really focused on lately and will continue to be focused on this year is how to combine my passion for and the position that God has given me within the pro-life community with the position I have as a blogger and my passion for creativity and crafting. And I want it to be something tangible, something more than writing a blog post here and there.

If that's going to happen, I'm going to have to have moxie. I'm going to have to make things happen. I'm going to have to do some hard work in order to see the fruit of all the ideas and dreams and plans I have swirling around in my mind right now. And that is exciting to me.

But none of it is going to happen if I don't take action. 2014 is not a year for me to sit back and wait for things to happen. It's not a year where I prayerfully reflect on what should and shouldn't be done (although there will be plenty of that!). 2014 is a year where I take the vision that God has already given me as a result of the prayers and petitions I've laid before Him and I put it into action. .

2014 is the year for boldness, fearlessness, guts, spunk, tenacity, bravery, determination. But most of all, this is the year for moxie.

2014-01-06 09.08.14

Friday, January 3, 2014

big goals for 2014

Review of how well I did with 2013 BIG goals here.

I used to post monthly goals. And I found that I rarely accomplished them. I decided to start setting just 4 super, giant, scary goals every year and working toward them over the course of 12 months. Surprisingly that works better for me. I hang my goals on the refrigerator so I see them multiple times a day. I think about them, pray about them, work toward achieving them.

This year I tried really hard to narrow everything down to 4 goals. But instead I settled for 5. There's not one that I can eliminate or put off. And at the same time, I don't feel like I've over-done it either. All 5 are big but all 5 are doable.

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*develop a 3-month menu plan to rotate throughout the year Currently I menu plan every 2 weeks, and as I've mentioned before, we basically eat the same sort of things every 2 weeks. And that's totally okay with us. So, instead of re-planning every 2 weeks I think it would make much more sense to write out multiple month menus and rotate them. By this I mean I would have 3 months of meals with a corresponding grocery list pre-determined. We would use that plan for January, February and March. Then in April, I would use the same plan over again and we'd eat it April, May, June. It would be rotated 4 times in the year. And boom, no more bi-weekly planning. No more new grocery list-writing each time. It will all be done. No-brainer. No planning required and it will free up my time for other things that I would rather be doing anyway!

*give (along with our tithe) outside of the church We've always been very serious about tithing. This past year has been a bit pathetic on our part and I would blame it on the fact that we've spent too long church hunting and haven't had one single place to give. But that's a whole other issue I don't really want to get into. And really it's no excuse. But in the mean time, we have gotten a lot better about giving to other areas outside of the church like specific ministries that we care about, overseas missions in countries we have a heart for or to specific individuals or families where we see a need. This year, while we'll be planting our butts firmly in a church, making it our home and faithfully tithing there, we are also going to make a serious effort to give to other places and people that we care for and want to see helped and encouraged.

*integrate my prolife work and passion with my love of blogging and crafting in a very tangible way This one is a little more difficult to explain but I'll give it my best effort. I have been praying and dreaming and thinking about how I could somehow unite the position that God has given me at Nevadans for Life and in the prolife community in general, with the position that God has given me online and the passion He's given me for crafting, handmade, and creating. Those are the 2 areas of my life that I can firmly say are where my purpose lies. But what does that look like? I'm not totally sure. But I've been asking that question a lot.

And the answer is: it looks like a whole lot more than just blogging about abortion and the sanctity of human life. I mean, I will keep doing that. I will never stop pounding that drum. But I know that He has a bigger plan than that. What it is exactly? I can't say for sure at this very moment. Although I do have a pretty good idea, I'm not ready to announce it just yet. Instead I want to spend the next couple months researching, planning and most of all, begging God to direct my steps and guide each and every one of them in this endeavor.

*meditate and journal on scripture daily I am really bad about writing down and reviewing what God is revealing to me through His word. I love to read scripture. But I usually forget to grab a pen and paper and write down exactly what the Spirit is telling me. And then if I do, I can honestly say that about 98% of the time, I don't go back to meditate over it and really let it sink in. How horrible is that? It's bad. I know. So this year, my goal is to do just that. Read it, write it, journal it, meditate over it, let it take root and live it out.

*greatly cut down on social media and online time It always sounds sort of funny when a blogger says they want to spend less time online, but I think the most successful bloggers spend very little time online. We all know it's a drain on our time and our creativity. We all know the more we're online, the more we're comparing ourselves to others, clicking through a thousand things we want but can't have, idolizing and coveting. And that's just bad. It's pretty pathetic how one little click onto Facebook, which should take all of 37 seconds, can easily turn into 20, 30 minutes. I'm not the only one, right?

Well that's going to stop. I have a new daily schedule for myself that severely cuts back on social media time and online time. Instead of telling myself I'm getting creative ideas from Pinterest, I'm doing to actually go create.

Okay, so what are your goals for 2014? I'm ready to get started, what about you?