Pieces of Me

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Joys of Home Ownership and Home Cooked Meals

In the past month, we have experienced the joys of owning our own home. 
  • Our fence is falling down (again)
  • Our lawn continually needs to be mowed (and weeded), and I broke the lawn mower
  • Our refrigerator died, and with the help of my loving sister, we were able to replace it
  • Our a/c condenser stopped working, and with the help of a good friend, we were able to diagnose and will hopefully get it running again today!
Of course, we are so blessed to have people in our lives to help us when we need it.  But this has taught us that we cannot continue to live paycheck to paycheck.  We have made poor choices with our finances and are continuing to struggle.  Last week, I made a commitment (and talked to Stephen about it) and things are now going to change. 
For one, we are not eating out for 30 days.  That alone will help us build our emergency fund again.  It’s been a while since we’ve had one, but we’re going to get it back into play so that we are able to take care of ourselves when crises arise.  Once that fund is in place, we will start to aggressively pay off our debt and become debt free.  We are going to live by Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University again – no questions asked.  We are making this a part of our life.
Of course, last night was a little stressful not knowing what was wrong with the A/C.  Usually we would just stress out, go out, and eat away our sorrows.  Not last night.  My mom offered to come and take the kids so we accepted and then worked out a plan of action.  Nothing could be done until our friend called us back so it was silly to freak out.  I did eat a package of Pretzel M&Ms (I got my free sample in the mail and yummo!) but because I had stuck to my meal plan all week, I had extra points I could eat.  It was nice. 
I made it through an entire week without taking a trip to Sonic.  I had 1/2 coke on Thursday at school when my headache became so unbearable that I needed some caffeine.  Coffee was a luxury this week, too.  I’m proud of myself because I made a commitment and have thus far stuck to it.  Isn’t that what a commitment is anyway?  So I will continue to stick with this plan – it’s working – I just pack the kids snacks and water, pack myself snacks and water, and eat at home.
Dinners this week were very good and very big.  I only cooked twice – I made enchiladas and pot pie, and we ate leftovers the other days.  And it was okay.  They loved the pot pie, and I loved the enchiladas.  We still have a couple meals left for the week since I didn’t have to cook them all.  Both the above meals feed 8 or more (well my kids don’t eat a lot).  We didn’t have a single chicken nugget in our house this week (my kids were treated to Chick Fil A by my mom last night) and they are both asking for water over anything else to drink.
So although I’ve yet to watch Jamie Olliver’s Food Revolution, I’ve heard enough about it to realize that America is making our kids fat.  We are doing this to ourselves and our children.  I am doing this to myself and my children.  And it has to stop.  It’s just not okay to eat the way we were eating.  I’ve always prided myself that my kids will eat whatever is put in front of them, meaning they have a great palate.  They will eat something they’ve never had before.  A friend and I were talking about how our kiddos will not just eat the “American” option of school lunch.  Hannah chooses tacos over a hamburger or enchiladas over chicken fingers.  But my children will also eat EZ Mac or Chicken Nuggets all day every day if I let them.  They are kids.  I’m happy to say that it’s time to teach them not only why it’s important to have a variety of colors on our plates, but also what will happen if we don’t eat that way.  It’s unhealthy, it will make us sick, and our bodies will suffer if we don’t eat the right foods. 
I’m not so concerned about getting my children to worry about becoming fat.  They are too young to start with body image.  I am teaching them that when they make wise food choices, they have more energy and more brain power.  Forget obesity with my children.  I don’t need my 6 year old worrying about her weight.  She’s at a healthy weight so I’m not going to worry about that part, but you and I both know that eating healthy food in healthy portions = healthy children.  There’s no need to worry because eating right means living well.
Oh and for those following my weight loss journey, I’m down 2 lbs this week for a total of 5.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

God Made the World and Everything in It.

On April 22 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, Freeway and expressway revolts, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. (Wikipedia)

Today is Earth Day.  I can’t believe it’s been around since 1970.  40 years!  I’m kind of in shock over that.  It wasn’t until recently that the entire world began to participate in this day.  And it’s amazing the things that are going on today – lots of recycling, lots of special events.  If you take 5 plastic bags to your local HEB in Austin, Texas between the hours of 3 and 7 pm, you will receive a special reusable bag.  There was an “Earth Day Festival” in Austin yesterday.  Today more than 50 local businesses are donating 5% of their gross sales to certain non-profits.  It’s a big day for the earth.
But as much as we are busy recycling and picking up trash.  As much as we are making better choices and choosing to purchase more organic food and use few chemicals, sometimes I worry about people’s reasoning.  Are they really doing all this to save the earth?  And why exactly?  Hannah came home from school today and let me know it was Earth Day.  How I wish she could have heard what I was able to share with my class today.
You see, Earth Day, isn’t just about caring for the earth.  It’s such an important day because it’s a day that we can remind everyone that “GOD created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1.  We shouldn’t take care of the world because WE want to preserve it.  We should take care of it because the LORD gave this beautiful planet to us.  He created everything in it.
There’s a song we sing in Preschool that I made sure to sing in my class today:
God made the world and everything in it.God made the land and the seven seas.  God made the world and everything in it.  God made the world and God made me.
And He did.  He made this world that we live in and so therefore we should do our best to take care of what He has given us.  And we should continue to do so every day, not just on the day the world has set aside as “Earth Day.”
Here is an example of the art we made in our class today.  Even 3 year olds can remember why we should celebrate Earth Day:
s-cofeefilter

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Body Detoxing

Now don’t get me wrong and think that I’m going to the extreme of one of those insane cleanses.  I’ve had friends who have gone to real extremes to lose weight.  One of those extremes is called the Master Cleanse, or the Lemonade Diet.  For 10 days, you drink a laxative tea at night, a laxative solution 1st thing in the morning and then homemade lemonade throughout the day.  Sounds like a lot of time in the bathroom to me.  Painful and to be honest, STARVING.  I know you get some nutrients from lemonade made with maple syrup, but there’s no protein in that cleanse, and it just seems like such an unhealthy way to lose weight.  And water weight at that.  Or muscle.  You’re not losing fat, that’s for sure.  And I just have no desire to put my body through something that extreme.
And then of course, there’s the surgery route.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking anyone who has had weight loss surgery.  If you’ve had it, and are happy with it, and have really changed your lifestyle because of it, then, hooray.  I do get frustrated when I read about people who have had the surgery and are disappointed in the results.  They aren’t losing the weight “fast enough” for their taste or timing.  And I think that’s nuts.  I don’t think weight loss surgery is a quick weight loss fix.  I’m fairly certain that it’s one of the last resorts and totally extreme for people who just need help.  Have I thought about it?  Yes.  A lot, but I’m just not to the point where I think I need to go to that extreme.  Have I been jealous of people who have had the surgery and look great now?  Yes.  But more because I haven’t committed to really losing weight and seen the results in myself.
This week was the start of a month long commitment for my family.  We are committing to not eat out for 30 days.  I want to show them how much healthy we can be when we cook our own food and know exactly what we are putting in our bodies.  I also want to show them how much money we can save (or how much money we are wasting) when we don’t (are) eating out. 
This week has been an eye opener for me, and we’re only on day 3.  You see, each week, Hannah has piano twice a week.  And usually on those days, I take the kids to McDonalds and buy a 3 pack of cookies and myself a soda.  On Monday, I stuck to the commitment, and packed snacks for the kids from home.  I packed strawberries, grapes, chocolate muffins, and juice.  Then we stopped at Newflower to pick up the Quinoa Noodles we love and stopped at the bakery to allow each child to have the free cookie the bakery offers. 
To my shock and surprise, neither kid ate their whole cookie.  Hannah ate 1/2 of hers and Cayden took a few bites.  And then they asked for fruit.  At home this week, they have asked for apples, muffins, and yogurt.  Now realize, my chocolate muffin is a box of brownie mix (next time I will try buying one w/0 HFCS) and 3 cups of All Bran (with also has HFCS, so frustrating) soaked in water.  So it’s not a healthy snack, but it’s definitely better for you that chocolate chip cookies from McDonalds.
Anyway, point being that on Mondays, I get $40 from running errands with Martha, and usually by Wednesday I have about $25 left.  Today, Wednesday, I still have $40.  I haven’t been stopping to get those drinks/snacks.  And no one is suffer. 
But I digress.  My body is really showing signs of detoxing from all the junk I’d been putting in it.  Drinking mostly water now, except for an occasional cup of coffee (I didn’t have coffee Monday, but did have it Tuesday), my face is that of a kid in jr. high/high school, and it sucks.  My hair is even acting weird.  So much that I looked in the mirror at school yesterday and said, “What is up with my hair?” only to get the exact same response from a pre-k student, “Mrs. Rose, what is up with your hair?”  My response, “G,  you’re telling me.  It’s CRAZY today.” 
But what I haven’t had to deal with are the headaches I was worried about getting from withdrawal of the sugar/caffeine.  Instead, I’m not getting a good night’s sleep and having terrible dreams.  But I  truly believe it’s from withdrawal.  My body is detoxing.
I recently read an article in Women’s Health Magazine called, “A Cleanse That Isn’t Crazy.”  And it confirms all of my worries and concerns about extreme cleanses.  In fact this stood out most to me:
Today, most commercial detox diets tout an unhealthy formula of minimal calories and nutrients along with some key – usually foul-tasting – ingredient that has supposed fat-melting power, like cayenne pepper or vinegar.  But no science backs up the idea that following a specific diet for a week or eating only one food will get rid of “toxins.”  Your body has the power to do that all on its own: That’s why you have a liver, kidneys, and a digestive system.
And these diets aren’t on the market or regulated by the FDA. 
But the article does go on to say that there is a healthier way to cleanse your body of all the junk we put in it.  And what is that?  Just follow a healthy eating plan.  Most people eat way more than necessary which puts more pressure on the liver and kidneys.  So to a healthy detox would be to cut out added sugar, saturated fats, and alcohol.  And just by doing those things, your body will detox. 
So now it all makes sense.  I’m eating better – and only 3 days into this – and yet my body is craving the good stuff and purging the bad.    What am I eating?  Lean Protein, TONS of fruits and veggies, and yogurt – oh and my chocolate muffins.  They are almost gone since the family is eating them.  Today I will make some apple cinnamon ones :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watch My Tongue (or fingers)

I’m a people pleaser.  I want everyone to be happy and everyone to like me.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people in this world who are just not happy, and there are people in this world who will never like me.  I get that.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I totally get it.
This part of my personality is a huge flaw in some ways.  I’m a peacemaker.  I try to keep the peace in my world.  I don’t like to cause rifts, and if there is a rift, I want to fix it.  Not always possible.
And when I can’t fix a rift, or when I learn that something I’ve said has caused another hurt, it crushes me.  I never intentionally mean to hurt anyone.  But more times than not, I open my mouth and say something that can literally knock the wind out of someone.  And more times that not, I have no idea that I’ve done it.
I can’t apologize for who I am.  God made me this way.  He’s still molding me into the person He wants me to be.  Believe me, I’m trying to listen to Him.  Trying to allow Him to take me and mold me.  I know sometimes I fight it, but at this point in my life, it’s hard to allow things to be erased.  It’s hard to start over.
But I can ask Him to help me.  Ask Him to guide my thoughts and words.   I can live by Psalm 19:14, “”May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” and Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
I know that some of the words in my last post have hurt a good friend.  And that was not my intention at all.  I had no idea that my words could be so cruel.  I’m not going to go into detail, but judgment and hurt were not my reason for the previous post, and so I have removed any part that may be read in that light.  I do not want my words to ever cause anyone pain.  I want to speak the Truth in love.  I know that my opinions are just that, my opinions, but if a few words can cause someone so much pain, I do not want them on my blog.  I know I can’t just erase what was said and erase how it was taken, but please know, that I truly love and accept everyone – past, present, and future.  There is nothing you can do to change me.  That’s who I am.  I don’t see the past as something that stops me from forming relationships.  I don’t see the present as a time to put off friendships, and I look forward to the future where I can share my life with others.  For me, acceptance of others isn’t difficult.  It’s just my nature. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

World’s Worst Parents

I know everyone has seen that email about having the meanest mother.  If not, you can click the link and read the note.  There’s a lot of truth in it.  My parents  didn’t let me get away with much.  We always had dinner with a vegetable.  We had a bedtime and curfew (although never stated aloud, it was just understood). 
Although my parents had rules about eating what she cooked and always letting her know where we would be (remember, this was before cell phones), she also gave us freedom.
My mom had very few TV rules.  We were not allowed to watch The Simpsons.  She thought it was gross and annoying, therefore, we did not have it on in our house.  And you know what?  To this day, I do not watch The Simpsons.  I think they are annoying and gross. 
She didn’t let us watch scary movies, mainly because I think they scared her.  And to this day, I do not watch them.  They freak me out and give me nightmares.  Although my children are young, even when they are older, we will not watch scary movies in my house.
But my mom did allow me to watch The Dukes of Hazzard and The A-Team.  She allowed me to watch movies like Pete’s Dragon, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang without blinking an eye.  In fact, my dad took me to see E.T. when it came out in theaters.  I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old.  I watched Annie over and over again, and repeatedly watched The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins
My parents also took us to church.  Every Sunday.  Sunday School, too. 
Some of my parenting style is directly reflected upon my parents.  I do some things the way they did, and other things the way they didn’t.  I’m not criticizing them in any way.  In fact, I’m thanking them.  Thanking for them allowing me to decide if I didn’t like a movie.  Thanking them for allowing me to voice my opinion and share my thoughts with others.  Thanking them for taking me to church everyday and making sure I received the Christian foundation that I did.  They kept their promise that they made on the day I was baptized.  Dad, too. 
I’m thankful that my parents didn’t think that viewing certain movie would waver my faith.  I’m thankful that my parents really believed me when I told them the truth and trusted me to make good decisions.  And because of their trust, I know for a fact that I am the person I am today.  Of course, I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.  When they trusted me to be home by 10 pm or midnight depending on the day, I wanted to prove to them that I was worthy of their trust. 
My parents expected me to ask permission to do things.  I never called home and said, “I’m doing such and such.”  I expect the same thing from my children. 
I allow my children to watch movies like Pete’s Dragon and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  Oh, and The Princess and the Frog.  I’m not worried that Hannah and Cayden are going to start practicing witchcraft and voodoo.  And one day, when they are told enough, I will allow them to watch Harry Potter and even read it.  I do allow them to watch Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana.  I don’t however allow them to watch The Simpsons, Spongebob, or Sonny with a Chance.  Why?  Because I think they are gross and totally inappropriate.  I don’t find bathroom humor funny.  I think it’s gross.  Thanks, mom!!
I’m not worried about my kids faith.  I am watching it blossom and grow.  I will continue to nurture it.  And trust in the Lord to keep my kids on the right path.  I know with His help, they will grow up to be great people.

Eating At Home – Healthily Week 1

So it’s not really week 1 in this weight loss adventure of mine.  It’s more like week 200+, but I’m thinking that if I start to post my weekly menus, and blog about my journey, in a more public setting, not just on weight loss blogs, I might get to see the results I’ve been praying I’d see for the past couple years.  It’s so hard for me to admit to everyone that I have not been 100% committed to this like I pretend I have been.  So hard for me to admit this.  When I joined WW in 2004, the plan was just so easy to me.  I gave up soda, just like that and only drank water.  I didn’t drink coffee, and now I’m addicted.  I had a weekly Starbucks date with Crystal in which I would order a Grande Mocha Frappacino with no whipped cream (this was before the days of nonfat or light frapps).  Starbucks, once a week, to chat about the ups and downs of the week. 

And each week, I ate pretty much the same thing for breakfast and lunch, and then cooked dinner.  EVERY NIGHT.  For all the adults (as we were living with Mom and Dad McIntyre).  And everyone ate better, everyone lost weight, and everyone was just healthier.

I dropped nearly 50 lbs in 10 months and was the healthiest and happiest I’d been in years.  And everyone noticed.

And then we got pregnant with Cayden.  And I thought it would be a breeze to go through a pregnancy and pick up where I left off.  And then, I was sooo sick, and the only thing that helped was drinking Coca-Cola.  So by the time Cayden was born, I had gained 50 lbs.  And to this day, I have yet to lose any of it.  done the yo-yo, on again, off again, lose 5 lbs, gain 5 lbs for the past 4 years.  And I’m sooo tired of it.  Cayden turns 4 next week.  And I’m finally to the point where I can’t take it anymore.  I’m tired of being fat.  There.  I said it. 

So. . . taking things one week at a time.  Weighed in this week at ______ (like I’d share that with you).  I will share my weekly weigh ins (up 1 lb, down 3 lbs), etc.  I’ll share my ups and downs with you.  Have my weekly Starbucks chat, on the computer.  Maybe I’ll treat myself to Starbucks and sneak away to the quiet of a coffeeshop once a week to have this conversation with myself (and whoever else is reading this blog). 

You may get tired of me.  Because when I have a bad day, I’ll let you know.  When I have a great day, I’ll let you know.  I need to do this.  I need to turn somewhere other than to food to get through this journey.

First of all, we are not going to eat out at all this week.  My personal goal is to have a 30 day fast from eating out.  I don’t know how possible this is going to be since Mother’s Day and Aunt Becky’s visit is coming up and she wants to go to the Salt Lick.  I may have to skip the Salt Lick and meet everyone at Lizzy’s for her birthday.  If I’m going to do this.  I really need to do it.  100% commitment, right?

As far as recipes are concerned.  I have lots of FB friends who post amazing looking recipes online.  Each week, I’ll go through their recipes and pick and choose the ones I think will be good for our family.  And then, I will check out the recipes and make substitutions where I need to.  I know that some may flop, but for the most part, I have really learned how to cook food without all the fat.

So here we go.  Join me??

Here is this week’s menu:

Breakfasts – Breakfast Boats (w/ substitutions), Choco Fiber Muffins, Apple Bran Muffins

Lunches – Sandwiches or Salads: Whole Wheat, Turkey, Provolone Cheese, Spinach

Dinners – Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie (with substitutions and extra veggies), Pepperoni Penne (with Quinoa Pasta), Spicy Crusted Salmon Over Spinach, and Green Chile Enchiladas (you’ll have to scroll down).  We will also have leftovers this week as these meals feed lots of people.  I haven’t decided what order we will eat these in, but we will be eating these meals and only these meals.  I’m so excited!  And I’m thankful for all those who have been with me for this 1/2 ass (yes, I said ass) journey.  Now I’m in 100%.  I will be exercising on my own for 6 weeks, and then I will start running (in the hot, no doubt) with Lesle.  She will be given the clear to exercise after having her beautiful baby girl, Ella Mae. 

So there you have it.  A new lifestyle, new outlook on life, and new friendships that are blossoming.  I am so blessed.

Oh, and if you follow me, will you do it publicly?  And will you leave comments??  I’d really appreciate it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It’s Hip to Be Square

Each week, Cayden has show and tell and school.  For 23 weeks, we brought a letter to school.  The last week, we chose between X, Y, and Z.  After the alphabet, Cayden’s teachers moved on to shapes.  Last week we had to take a circle show and tell.  I have no idea what Cayden took because I stayed home on show and tell day.  This week, our required item needed to be in the shape of a square.
Wednesday evening, I asked Cayden what he would like to take for show and tell.  I told him it needed to be in the shape of a square.  His response?  “Paper is square.” 
At this point, I took out a sheet of paper and said, “Cayden, this isn’t a square.  What shape is this?”  He responded, “It’s a rectangle.” 
Okay, so I started going through things with him.  Here is our conversation”
“Look Cayden, look at this book.  It’s about Elmo.  And it’s a square.  Would you like to take this?”
“Paper is square.”
“Cayden, we already talked about that.  Paper is a rectangle.  Oooh, look at this.  This is a box.  Isn’t this cool?  It’s a square.  Would you like to take this?”
“Paper is square.”
At this point, I don’t even remind him that the paper is a rectangle, I just move on to another item.  “Cayden how about this bolt.  This bolt is square. Would you like to take this?  Or this block?  This block is square.”
“Paper is square.”
“Cayden, we have already gone over this.  Paper is not a square.  Paper is a rectangle.”
And then his reply, the one that made the decision for his show and tell, and shut me up, “You can cut it.  You can make it into a square.”
So Cayden look a black sheet of paper that we cut into a square for show and tell.  Why?  Because the child who was insisting that paper is a square, finally made his mommy feel like a dingaling (not that I would EVER tell him that).  He knows his shapes.  And he wanted to take a piece of paper.  It’s always the simplest things that make them happy, right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

See you in Heaven

On our way home yesterday, we were listening to the new Lifeway VBS CD, Saddleridge Ranch.  For a taste the music, click here to listen to the theme song.  Since Cayden put change into our tape deck, every now and then, it becomes possessed and turns itself off.  The ride home, during the middle of a song, it decided to do that.  It was at that same moment, that Hannah began asking me questions about heaven.  I can’t remember the how the conversation began, but I do recall us talking about when we die, what happens to us.  And how do we go to heaven, when we get a grave.  So I brought up the fact that when we do die, our body is buried, but our soul, the part of us that believes in Jesus, goes to heaven and gets a whole new body.  Thjs fact is a little hard for me to grasp myself, so to explain it to a 4 and 6 year old is even more insane, but Hannah remembered the conversation between her and Grandma and went to explain it to Cayden.  They are very excited about their new bodies, and cannot wait to meet people who once had to have wheel chairs but now have new legs, or people who were deaf, but can now here.  They are also excited about being able to understand people who speak in Spanish.  That’s just a little bit of heaven. 
Then our conversation turned towards, to get to heaven, you have to know Jesus.  It amazes me that Hannah really understands this.  I know that last Christmas (2008), she told me that she “said the prayer the Pastor at Park Hills said” during the live nativity, but with myself not growing up with that type of spiritual background, it’s very hard for me to comprehend what that means.  But I know that, although I’ve always been grounded in the church, there was some point in my life where it all clicked.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember that moment, which is okay.  But it is really neat to know the exact moment when it clicked for Hannah.
Our conversation then turned to knowing Jesus, and at this point, Cayden pops in, “You know, Jesus loves the little children.  But his servants didn’t want the children to talk to him.  In heaven, I will get to talk to him.”  Of course, I interject that that was in the Bible and that Jesus did have the children come and talk to Him.  And now, we can talk to Jesus when we pray, etc.    Hannah and Cayden continue to have a conversation all about being Jesus’ friend and meeting Him in heaven.  How neat that will be.
And then, Hannah and Cayden start to talk about who they will get to meet in heaven.  Hannah tells me, “Mommy, when I get to heaven, I’ll get to meet Mary!  And Hannah!  And Samuel! And PapPap!  And Granny and Grandaddy!  I just can’t wait.”
At this point, I’m crying.  Not only because my children love Jesus and that’s just awesome, but also because they are not only remembering the loved ones we’ve lost, but looking forward to seeing them again.  And then the moment that completely makes me lose it, Cayden pipes in with, “And our two brothers!  I will get to meet my brothers that are in heaven!  And I will get to play with them, and it will be so fun!” 
You see, many years ago, before Hannah, I had two miscarriages.  Although we’ve never really talked about what these are with the children, we do have two ornaments for our tree in honor of them, and so each year, the kids see them and are reminded of them at Christmastime.  And although we don’t talk about it or dwell on them, my children know they have siblings in heaven.  And they love those siblings.  So I guess they are right, we will see so many people in heaven.  And it will be wonderful.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Insensitive? I promise I’m not

Early this morning, I had someone accuse me of being insensitive.  There were two situations today in which I laughed involuntarily.  I didn’t purposely laugh.  I didn’t even think the situations were funny, but before I could stop myself, I chuckled out loud (kind of like a blech, but a laugh) and then expressed my genuine sympathies to these situations.
Death is not funny to me.  Cancer is not funny to me.  Someone falling down and getting hurt is not funny to me.  But for some reason, I laugh before I am sad.  My sister is the exact same way.  And she’s gotten called on it as well.  She, too, feels awkward and embarrassed. 
But today, I stuck up for myself.  I sat the person down who just blurted out in front of a group of people, “laughing at tragedy?  that’s totally inappropriate,” and explained to her why I do it.  I guess I don’t really know why I do it, but I can’t help it.  I’ve tried and it just happens.
But I promise I’m not insensitive.  In fact, several people have told me I’m the most compassionate and caring person they know.  And in certain situations, I do not laugh at all.  Some situations are too shocking to even get a chuckle out of me.
Of course, being who I am, I have spoken to several others today who have said that lots of people react this way.  And I even Googled it when I got home.  And I’m not alone.  Just apparently the only one in this group of ladies.  :)
So there’s my dilemma.  Take it or leave it, but please try to understand.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Favorites

I have lots of favorites.  My favorite colors are purple and yellow.  My favorite food is peanut butter ice cream.  My favorite soft drink is Cherry Coke.  I have a favorite pair of jeans, a favorite shirt, even a favorite blanket.
There is an appropriate place for favorites.  It is okay to have favorite things.  It is not okay to have favorites kiddos in the classroom, or favorite people in your family. 
I’ve teased and said, “spending time with my favorite people,” but in reality, those are just people to whom I am closest. 
Sometimes it’s hard to not get upset when favoritism is shown.  I try my hardest to not get upset.  And I am teaching my children that there is a time and a place for favorites.  Hannah has favorite colors – pink and yellow.  Cayden has a pair of favorite pajamas – the ones with racecars.  Both kids have their favorite blanket, their “baba” as they like to call them.
They do not however have favorite people – as far as I can tell.  They love to play with everyone.  They love do like to play with certain people, but whenever we are with a group of children, I notice that they tend to be the peacemaker, the ones who want everyone to play together, or play with children who are similar in gender or age.  Regardless, they rarely leave people out.  And that makes me a very proud parent. 
I guess I need to look at my children and follow their example in this area.  Instead of feeling sad because someone is showing favoritism over another, I should just take it with a grain of salt, and live life as the person who wants everyone to get along and no one to feel left out.  I need the reminder that I don’t like everyone and so therefore not everyone is going to like me.  I’m not going to be able to be friends with everyone, but I can be nice to those people, even those I do not like.
Of course, I suppose it all has to do with what happens to us as we get older.  Being the adult who was left out as a child, I want my children to include everyone.  And I want everyone to like my children as much as they like others.  So I notice it more when it is happening.
And regardless, I have two favorite children, my own, but if they are ever being ugly to other people, I scold them.  Respect is something I want my children to learn.  I want it to become second nature.  Maybe I’m asking too much of my children, but as far as I can tell, they are both happy and loving. 
And I must give myself the gentle reminder in the book of James that favoritism is indeed a sin, and therefore requires forgiveness. 
James 2:9 - But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned” (CEV).
 James 2:1 - My brothers,show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (CEV).
And I am so thankful for His forgiveness, because although I try my best to not have “favorites,” I know that I fail.  And so I am able to admit my mistake, ask for forgiveness, and receive it.  And that’s a pretty amazing gift.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Family Pictures

You would think that as a photographer, I would be able to capture the beauty of my family in a photograph.  Well, a decent photograph, that is.  I’ve been known to take beautiful family photos of my clients. Some people have been so excited about their family photos, that I have received referral after referral from them, making my job as a photographer way easier than I thought it would be.
Since Stephen and I have been together, we have taken a “family photo” together.  That is since Easter 1997.  I still have that photo of us.  We look like babies.  I’m 19 years old.   I had to take a picture of a picture since my scanner is acting funky.
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I have an Easter photo from every year except last year, when I spent the year in Pennsylvania.  They are usually under the tree at McKinney Falls.  Sometimes, they are just at Beautiful Savior by the cross (the years when it has been raining or freezing on Easter).  Some years, we do an entire family photo, some years, just our little family, but every year, we get a great photo of us.  Here are the photos from Easter since Hannah entered our lives!
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Until this year, that is.  My children wouldn’t cooperate.  They wouldn’t cooperate for wildflower photos earlier in the week, and they wouldn’t cooperate for our family photo.  So this year, I leave you with three photos of my family.
I think I’m going to get a 20x30 of this photo and hang it in the living room.  Easter 033 copy

This one is a little better.  It’s actually the best one.  The sun was a little bright, I guess, since both Stephen and Cayden are both squinting.Easter 123 copy 
And lastly, this one.  Stephen and I look great.  I wish our kids were looking at the camera.Easter 126 copy
We didn’t get a photo of the cousins this year.  We didn’t get any with extended family.  I guess with all of us having our own fancy cameras, we weren’t too worried about shooting the pictures.  Now I wish we had gotten one of those of us at the park.  Or even the kids with Grandma and Grandpa.  But we didn’t.  Life goes on.
One more attempt at this family photo thing in the wildflowers this evening.  Praying the weather holds out for us and my kids cooperate.  I’d just like to get a new photo to hang in Grandma’s hallway.  We shall see.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Elephants are extinct?

Actual conversation between my children this afternoon -

Hannah: Cayden, do you want me to read you this book?  It's about animals that are extinct.
Cayden: You don't need to read it.  I know what animals are 'stinct.
Me: Right, animals like the dinosaurs.  Ones that are no longer living.  Hannah, what other animals are extinct?
Cayden: I know, I know
Hannah: I'm not sure.  This book is about animals who are IN DANGER
Cayden: I know, I know
Hannah: What?  What animals are extinct?
Cayden: Elephants
Hannah: No, elephants are NOT extinct
Cayden: Yes, yes they are
Hannah: No, they are not
Me: No, Cayden, there are still elephants, but some are endangered
Cayden: YES!  Yes, elephants are.  Elephants stink.  Yes, they do!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Joys of Cranky Children

I am listening now. . . to the sounds of my children whining in the bathtub.  Hannah just came into the living room to inform to us that her brother said his name was Mickey Mouse and then poured water on her.  Really?  They are in the bathtub? 
But you know what?  Sometimes it’s okay to hear listen to them whine.  Why?  Because at least at this very moment, I know they are whining from pure and utter exhaustion.  They spent the entire day outside at McKinney Falls State Park. Stephen and I joined them at 1 pm after shopping for last minute Easter presents.  Outside, away from computers, TVs, and cell phones.  For a brief moment, I had gotten so “bored” that I pulled out my phone to play Bejeweled.  And then Grandpa made a comment about all this nature and there we sit with our cell phones.  Away went the cell phone and out came the conversation.
We reminisced, about past Easters at the park.  We heard the story about how when Grandpa was younger, Granny never let the kids have water guns, and yet, when he had kids, she initiated the play.  Reminisced a HUGE water fight between the entire family.  Grandma provided the water guns this year for the grandchildren, and I think Grandpa had more fun with them than any other child.
Stephen and TJ shared with Barrett about the cheesy movies they used to watch and the jokes they used to tell.  And it was so funny to watch Barrett roll his eyes and be a teenager! 
I remember a tad too late that you’re supposed to reapply sunscreen.  Praying tomorrow’s burn isn’t as bad as I think it is going to be.  Thankfully, Hannah tans, and Cayden was in long clothes (since he sat in the water gun bucket.  What is with my children and buckets of water?
Tomorrow we will celebrate the resurrection with my parents, hunt Easter eggs, and spend more time with family at the park.  And again, although we’re living on Zyrtec, we’re having so much fun!

Shopping for a dress

Hard to believe that the last time I bought a dress was last year.  And I bought it not only for Crystal’s birthday, but also for my grandfather’s funeral.  Knowing very well, that I would need something nice to wear.  Before that, I hadn’t bought a dress since 2005.  I was thinner then, and not so self conscious about my body.  After having Cayden, I just haven’t had the courage to buy dresses and wear them.  I know it’s terrible, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to shake this weight.  Doctor’s are aware of it.  I’ve been told to try Weight Watchers again and have been given the clear to run again, so I am.  I’m also spending a lot of time in prayer, trying to just let it all go and let God.  It’s not always easy.
Being on the computer is something that I know has hindered in my journey, but lately, I don’t want to be on the computer, I want to be outside or reading a book.  I turn on the computer to edit photos or share them.  I’ve got to start working on school scrapbooks as the school year is quickly coming to a close and I’m nowhere near finished – yikes!
But I digress.  I’m working on the weight loss.  And yesterday, I went shopping with a close friend who brought me two dresses to try on.  And I loved both of them and now have two Spring dresses in my closet.  Of course, I hope they don’t fit next year and I am buying smaller sizes, but until then, here’s to feeling good about myself.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reasons I Love Spring

1.  The warmer temperatures – I love that it’s so nice outside that my kids want to be out in it.  All day.  They are running off extra energy,  taking in fresh air (even with the allergens), and staying away from the TV.  It’s nice that I can just put the radio on, and they completely forget that we even have TV.  I also love that Cayden will randomly turn the TV off and say, “TV for the day is over.  Let’s go play outside!”  In fact, even on this super windy morning, with the threat of rain, they are already outside!
2.  It’s cool enough to open up the house.  In spite of our families horrific allergies, I just cannot NOT open the house up.  The breeze keeps the house cool without needing air conditioner, and the fresh air helps air out the stuffiness that takes place during the night/day while we’re sleeping/out.  It’s been a Zyrtec every day Spring already, but just having the house open gives me a different outlook on life.  It’s like I am experiencing the outside without having to be out there.  I can still do daily chores without missing the beautiful weather.
3.  The wildflowers.  At least this year they are AMAZING.  I just can’t get over them. 
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We did one round of photos in the bluebonnets already, but this weekend, we are planning our next round.  This time, we will get photos of the whole family.  I’m very excited!!
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4.  Daylight Savings Time – As much as I HATE adjusting to the time change, I absolutely LOVE it.  I love having more daylight in the evenings – gives me time to do things like go running in the evening.  The temperatures are just cool enough that I can head out for a run with Buster and not worry about it getting dark on me.
5.  Everyone just seems happier this time of year.  It’s kinda like Christmas all over again.
6.  Easter – my favorite holiday of the year.  The time where we remember Jesus death and sacrifice and celebrate in His resurrection!  He is Risen.  He is Risen, indeed.  Hallelujah!
In preschool we talk about how Springtime is a time for many wonderful changes in our world.  Trees blossoming, flowers blooming, the world just seems to come alive.  It is during this time when I remember why I love Springtime so much.   And it’s not just because of the 6 things I mentioned above.  It’s really neat to watch my children react to the springtime.  Hannah gets excited just seeing a simple flower in our yard.  We happen to have bluebonnets springing up in our side yard.  She is sooo excited.  I have to mention that I am, too.
Cayden just loves seeing all the insects and animals.  We’ve made a home for earthworms and pill bugs.  We’ve made bird feeders for those birds (and squirrels). 
What’s really amazing though is to see my kids make the connection between Springtime and Easter/Jesus.  I know they don’t fully understand it all, but Cayden has told me this week, “It is (S)pring.  (S)pring means that new life is coming.  New birds, new bugs, and even Jesus.  He is Risen!!  I am so (ex)cited about Jesus!  He loves us so much to die on the cross and then become alive  again!”
I am sure that he doesn’t get the full concept behind everything he tells me, but the fact that he is becoming aware of it just makes my heart smile.
Hannah on the other hand, knows what death is and knows that Jesus came alive again on Easter.  She knows that because of what he did for us, we will go to heaven.  And she knows to tell others of His love.  And to not only tell them, but also love them. 
First I leave you with my favorite Lenten Hymn.  The words are just amazing.
My Song is Love Unknown
My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.
In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
My favorite Easter hymns come to mind and so I leave you with them:
At the Lamb’s High Feast – this has always been a favorite since college. 
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious king,
Who has washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side.
Alleluia!
Easter triumph, Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s power, Lord, set us free,
Newborn souls in you to be.
Alleluia!
I Know My Redeemer Lives
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.
He lives, all glory to His Name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!