My Apologies to You, Dear Reader

Let’s begin with a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was the light of her mama’s heart.  She had a beautiful smile and always made her mama and dadda laugh.  IMG_5091

 One day, the little girl learned when she dropped her food in the floor, her mama gave her more food.  Also, when she threw her food on the dog, the dog jumped and ran away, so that made the little girl laugh. 

Then the little girl learned how to whine.  She got reallly good at whining, so much so that her mama would give her whatever she wanted just to make her quit whining.

Her mama was worn out.

When mealtime came, her mama took care of the little girl first, then was too tired to fix healthy foods for herself.  Her mama ate whatever quick, easy food she could find, even foods that made her sick, like wheat and dairy.  Mama was too low on energy and creativity to plan good, healthy meals, so macaroni and cheese became the go-to lunchtime food.

Sadly, I am the mama in that story.  As you may have noticed, I have become lazy in my blogging and have reposted several things in the last couple of weeks.  I simply don’t have the energy or creativity or desire to keep myself healthy, much less maintain a blog right now.

Until last night…

I don’t know if you were fortunate enough to take part, but Michael Hyatt did a fantastic webinar about reaching more people with your blog posts.  My husband is an avid blogger and Michael Hyatt follower (see hubby’s at www.stidhammusic.com and Michael Hyatt’s at www.michaelhyatt.com), so he knew about the webinar, planned on it, and invited me to watch it with him.  If all I had to do was sit and absorb, I’d be glad to participate, I told him.

I am so glad I did!  There were so many jewels of wisdom in his presentation.  You can find the printable version or the slide version of last night’s presentation on Michael Hyatt’s website.  The title was something about a recipe.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Anyway, after watching his presentation, I realize that I need to apologize to you, the reader/follower of Making Progress.  I have given you only half of my heart, my time, and my energy the last couple of weeks.  I’m sorry for short-changing you and for possibly even wasting your time.

I’m going to start being more “real.”  I am motivated to plan the time to write new, authentic blog posts.   Although I still feel low on energy, I have a hunch that being more real with one or two posts is better than slapping a half-hearted effort down just to meet my weekly posting goals.

I won’t waste your time any more.  I won’t give you undercooked ideas or advice.  I’m just going to share with you where I am on my journey toward health.  I’m going to show you how I’m making progress toward my healthy goals.  Real-ly.

 

 

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My Favorite Way to Eat Berries

After my walking workouts, I am always starving!  About 11:00 in the morning, baby girl is either still asleep or just waking up from her morning nap, so she usually needs a snack at that time.  It’s too early for lunch, but I need some protein and some hearty food to fill my tummy and refuel my body.  My solution:

OATMEAL!

I already mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I switched out my “usual” oatmeal fixings of butter and brown sugar in favor of pure maple syrup and nuts.  Now, however, I find that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FRESH BERRIES in my oatmeal.

ALDI has a great mix of frozen blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and I usually buy a bag of frozen blueberries while I’m at it.  I don’t even take the time to thaw them since I throw them in the microwave during the last 20-30 seconds of cooking time on my oatmeal.  No sugar needed – the berries are sweet enough themselves.  If you like, put some pecans or almonds or walnuts and some wheat germ and/or seeds of your choice in with them, and you are on your way to making Dr. Fuhrman proud!  Check out his book, Eat to Live, to see what I mean.

Couple it with a good cup of coffee and you are GOOD TO GO!  Try it next time you think you’re hungry but it’s not “mealtime” yet.  Good luck to you as you make progress toward your healthy goals!

Did You Know? Thursday

Did you know the human head is one-quarter of our total length at birth but only one-eighth of our total length by the time we reach adulthood?  No wonder babies have such a hard time holding up their heads!

(Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/16-unusual-facts-about-the-human-body1111115.htm)

My baby girl at 5 months old

My baby girl at 5 months old

Be Present.

We are in a crazy chapter of our life right now.

Guitardude is working 2 jobs AND going to grad school.  I am juggling mommy duties, church/Bible study activities, playgroup activities, and keeping Hubby fed and clothed whenever he “lands” like a bird in our little nest.

We are exhausted (see the post about Sick of Rice and Beans for why), but we decided we would get up each morning to eat breakfast together to spend some quality quiet time together.  I am amazed at how this 30-minute session has lifted my spirits and improved our communication!

One of the things I’ve noticed about our interactions, as limited as they are, is that I have to choose to be focused on what he says or needs.  It takes a conscious decision to put down the phone, quit worrying about the baby, and exist in the current time and space.  Being present requires self-discipline.

You know those people who act like they are listening to you but really aren’t?  They may be looking around the room, or fiddling with their napkin, or checking facebook on their phones instead of listening to/paying attention to you.  It makes me so sad that our loved ones choose to discard these precious moments.  We aren’t guaranteed another moment, another day, or another year.  Every conversation you have may be the last one with your friend or loved one.

Be present in your conversations.  Be aware of the need of the moment.  Listen to your friend or loved one as if they were the only person in the room.

I have to make myself apply these same principles with my husband, and now with my daughter.  There are so many times I need to do chores around the house, or maintain my blog or online business, or fix something homemade in the kitchen.  All of these activities take me away from the people I love.  Are those chores more important than my baby?  It takes self-discipline to stop what I’m doing and go play with my baby girl–sit in the floor, stack the blocks, read a book, take a picnic blanket outside and sit under the tree.  Usually when I choose to spend those special moments with her, I end up laughing and smiling (because she is a funny kid!).  What better blessing?!  “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” -Prov. 17:22 (NIV).

So be present with the people you love and care about the most.  In doing so, you will be EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY blessed!  ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Baby Steps

My 9-month-old daughter started walking this week. Eek! I still can’t believe it.

But as I watch her take her first baby steps, I was struck with the following ideas:

1.) Baby steps are not without forethought. She sees something she wants (usually something she’s not supposed to get into!), stands up, and begins putting one foot in front of the other in its direction. You can see the wheels turning, practically!

2.) Baby steps falter at first, and sometimes fail. It’s a start-and-stop process. She usually gets one or two steps forward, then loses her balance and falls down. But if it’s something she REALLY wants, she’ll get up and do it over and over again!

3.) Baby steps require utter and total concentration. When she has figured out what she wants and gets her feet underneath her, she usually drops the toy she was holding but always keeps her eyes up and on the desired object.

So, naturally, I compared this to the Baby Steps in our journey to get out of debt through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. These baby steps can be applied to your financial life, too.

1.) Baby steps require forethought. What do you wish you could afford? It often sounds like, “When we get out of debt, I want to buy a ____________.” You fill in the blank with what you want. Mine sounds like, “When we get out of debt, I am going to have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my front door once a week.” Start dreaming! That’s what will sustain you as you climb your way out of debt.

2.) Baby steps falter at first, and sometimes fail. It’s a start-and-stop process.  When we found out we were expecting, we began saving extra money into a “Baby Fund,” as Dave recommends. When Baby Girl finally arrived and we all came home healthy, we paid off all of our hospital bills, doctor bills, anesthetist bills, lab bills…OR SO WE THOUGHT! 9 months later, we were slammed with an $800 hospital bill and another $100 doctor bill. We were so mad because we used the remainder of our “Baby Fund” to pay down student loans. Just when we thought we were making good progress, these bills came out of the blue and set us back.

3.) Baby steps require utter and total concentration. If I’m not careful, I find myself saying, “Oh, I deserve this ice cream,” or, “We can just move some money around out of the snowball money,” or, “Oooh, extra money at the end of the month?! I can go shopping!” We are totally bombarded with commercials, ads, billboards, and every kind of sensory attraction to make us think we need to purchase things we didn’t know we needed. STAY GAZELLE INTENSE! Keep your eyes on the prize – getting out of debt and being a better steward of the money God gave you to manage.

Good luck on your debt journey. May God bless you more than you could ever ask or imagine. ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Homemade Baby Wipes

Let me tell you about one of the easiest things in the world: homemade baby wipes.  It sounds really complicated, but it’s not.  I recently read an article (can’t even remember where I saw it) about all the things store-bought baby wipes contain, and it scared me.  I don’t know if the author of that article had credible research or not, but still, I was bothered by what the article said.  Next time you are in the store, look at the ingredient list on a package of wipes…it’s quite lengthy.

Beyond that, I hate the thought of forking over $12.00+ of my grocery money every week just for things I’m going to throw away.  For a while, when Pride&Joy had a bad diaper rash, we quit using the store-bought wipes and used a warm, wet washcloth.  Sure enough, it helped her diaper rash heal more quickly, and we realized how we DIDN’T need the wipes from the store.

So here’s what we’ve started doing:

Buy 1 roll of Kleenex brand Viva! paper towels (they are softer when wet than other brands, yet still get the job done).  Cut it in half with a big knife.  (You’re going to use one half of the roll at a time.)  Remove the cardboard tube from the center of the roll.

Boil 2 cups of water on the stove.  You’re sanitizing it to keep the wipes fresh for longer.

While the water is coming to a boil, get your container ready.  It needs to be something with good lid that doesn’t leak liquids.  You will be turning it upside down, so do a quick test before you get all your stuff in there.

In the container, add 2 Tablespoons of your favorite baby shampoo/soap.  I have started using the yellow Johnson and Johnson’s baby shampoo.  Also, add 1 Tablespoon of EVOO, sunflower, safflower, or even baby oil.  I had some leftover safflower oil from some Christmas projects, so I’ve been using that up.

After your water boils, remove it from the heating element and let it cool (so it doesn’t melt your plastic container).  After it has cooled, add it to the oil and shampoo in the container.  Sit your half roll of paper towels in the container, put the lid on tight, and let the liquid absorb into the towels.  Once that has happened, flip the entire container upside down and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipes are ready to use after all the liquid has absorbed into the towels.

So how has this blessed my life?

I no longer have to worry about what is touching my baby’s skin.

I am not creating the same amount of trash I would be if I were using store-bought wipes.

I am spending a fraction of what I would be if I were buying store-bought wipes.  I think a roll of paper towels is around $2.00, and I had all the other items on hand already.

I enjoy the satisfaction of making something with my hands that is beneficial to my family.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Life’s Too Short

Monday morning, I sat down at the kitchen table with my cup of coffee and my baby girl.  That’s usually my planning time – figuring out what am I going to do with my day.  Usually Mondays are my cleaning days.  After a weekend off (I try to keep chores to M-F), I am itching to get my house clean again.  This Monday was a little different.

I saw a recipe on the Crisco container for snickerdoodles, which looked pretty good.  Then there was another one for molasses cookies.  Those looked really good.  And something just snapped in my brain – yep, I’m doing it.  I’m going to make cookies today.  Forget the housework!  Life’s too short to waste time cleaning when you could be eating cookies!

When I woke up at 4:30 to feed Pride&Joy, my brain fired off several things in my list of “Life’s Too Short Not To….”  So here’s what my semi-conscious brain wanted to share at 4:30 this morning, along with some thoughts from some of my family members:

Life’s Too Short…
-to eat gross food
-to listen to music you don’t love
-to watch terrible movies
-to read sub-standard books
-to go to bed upset
-to worry about the past
-to neglect your children
-to neglect your spiritual life
-not to take advantage of every opportunity the Lord sends your way
-not to live with purpose
-not to tell your children and spouse you love them multiple times a day
-not to fall in love and get married
-not to travel the world

What would you put on your list?  Remember what the Scripture says: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14 (New International Version)

May you be exceedingly abundantly blessed in your life today. ~Ephesians 3:20

What I’ve Learned…So Far

So in the quiet times when Pride&Joy is eating, I find myself lost in thought.  This was one of the paths my mind went down the other day….

Things I’ve Learned from Having a Newborn in the House: My Advice to New Moms

  • Your body can function on much less sleep than you ever imagined.
  • Silence is golden.
  • Accept help whenever possible.
  • Take naps when you can.
  • When it comes to food, the freezer and microwave are your best friends!
  • Housework and cleaning can wait.  A baby grows up too fast to waste time sweeping floors!
  • Pamper yourself, if possible, even if it’s just taking a shower or blow drying your hair (some days, those are luxuries!).  You will feel like a million bucks.
  • Get dressed and put on your tennis shoes.  You will feel better and be more productive than if you sit around in your pajamas and house shoes all day.
  • You need days here and there where you stay in your pajamas and house shoes all day.
  • Make time for your husband.  You wouldn’t be a mama without him!
  • Make lists for when you have rare free time.  It will help you be more focused with what little, precious free time you have.
  • Get your thank you notes written as soon as you can.  Work on them little by little.
  • Whenever we get out of debt and money is no longer an issue, I want to schedule a maid service for any new mothers in my life!

Now I know all of you have ideas of your own from your own experiences…let’s hear them!

Is It Worth It?

When I was pregnant, Guitardude and I made the decision that I would quit my job and stay home.  It was summertime, and for band directors, that doesn’t necessarily mean 3 months of rest and refreshment after a grueling school year.  There’s a marching show to write!  Music to arrange!  Drill to create!  Summer band letters to mail!  Band camp to conduct!  It’s all very exciting but also frenetic and stressful.

I found myself enjoying the silence at home.  I took my time getting around, especially as my belly became more cumbersome and I became more clumsy.  That’s when I noticed how time is extremely valuable.  How much is time worth to you?

When I went to the grocery store, I noticed how people were in such a hurry!  I understand rushing to save time and get on with the other things on your to-do list, but people bordered on being downright rude, especially with a shopping cart.

Same thing when I drove somewhere by myself when I was pregnant.  I felt the need to drive especially defensively.  I stuck to the speed limit, took extra time to look both ways one more time, and took care not to text or use the phone while I was driving, all for the sake of protecting my unborn child.  I kept seeing people driving unsafely – using the cell phone, putting on make-up, speeding unnecessarily, changing lanes without looking.  I remember thinking, “Where’s the fire, people??”

So is it worth it to hurry up and be rude?  Is it worth the “time saved” to overlook the elderly person having difficulty reaching the item on the shelf in front of you?  Is it worth the missed opportunity to spend precious time with your child or spouse, just to get that housework done?  Is it worth your life, or your child’s life, to answer that phone call or text message?

What do you do with all the time you save by hurrying and rushing around?  Is the end result worth it to you?

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)