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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my place in life.
Where do I belong? What am I supposed to be doing?
I’ve had this question in the back of my head for such a long time…
And I’ve always known it, but it’s just now that I have clarity for an answer. 
I’m meant to be a mother!

It’s funny! I’ve heard older people tell me again and again how the most important job you will have in your life is being a parent. And I really didn’t understand it until now.

Growing up, I didn’t have much guidance from my parents. I really don’t remember my dad being around much. I see pictures of me with him when I was a child, but his presence was not very memorable to me. Perhaps most of what I heard others say about him was what sticks in my mind now as reality and most of it was not positive.

And because my dad wasn’t around much, my mom couldn’t be around much. She was constantly working to support the family. As a result, we really didn’t get much of a chance to talk to our parents about life and growing up.

So now I’m really thinking if I am a good mom…or what makes a good mother.

Sharing life is what parenting and being a child are all about. Teaching your kids about life…and all that it entails via example and through everyday experiences is what matters most.

I read a FB status from a friend – the mother of two boys – the other day which read…

I guess I’ve been moody. I’m in the restroom and my 2 yr old opens the door and in his sweet little voice says “you need a tampon mommy?”. To which my husband in the next room says “you’d think so, wouldn’t ya buddy”

I love how open she is with her kids – her boys even about her life. Sometimes I wish I was more open, but then I guess I wouldn’t be me.

Then it got me thinking about why I’m not as open as some parents are with their kids…and part of it has to do with the fact that I’m not confident in my own skin. I don’t think I have ever been. I’ve always done what others wanted me to do and never taken the time to think about what I want to do…and if I did…I didn’t vocalize it to anyone.

(For those that know me…yes I know it is hard to believe, but it is true.)

Well, that ends today! I believe that change can only come in one’s life when they begin to make decisions for themselves. And today, it starts with me.

I’ve started a list of things I want to do and the things I want to complete, and things I just want because I want them.  I’m inspired and I’m gonna go get em’!

Be inspired! Be Healthy! Be Well!

Do you think of exercise as a chore? Do you always find an excuse not to go on that walk you know would be beneficial for you? The hill is too steep (my excuse) or it’s raining or my shoes are dirty?

Do you enjoy games? Do you get excited when you are competing with others or trying to finish a task?

If so, then I think I’ve found the perfect solution for your exercise needs.

Enter the Wii Fit PLUS. 

When the Wii came out with their game console – almost three years ago now, I really didn’t think much of it. In fact, we didn’t even buy one. My sister actually purchased the Wii game console for our daughter – Daphne (3 at the time) – so that when her little brother was born, she would have something fun to play with. At the same time, she added the Wii Fit as a bonus for me to shed those pregnancy pounds.

Well, I played the games, and did some of the yoga poses for the Wii Fit, when we first got it, but I got bored of it easily… It didn’t really do a good job keeping my attention.

One afternoon while chatting with a friend, she told me that she had borrowed the new Wii Fit Plus from her sister…and how much she enjoyed it and had to have it. For me, her recommendations are “golden”, so I was hooked.

On my next trip to Target, I splurged and spent $19.99 for a video game that should motivate me to exercise and do it daily… And to this point, it has not disappointed.

The games on the Wii Fit Plus are incredible. I mean, it has all of the original games from the first Wii Fit game, but it also has games that allow you to throw snowballs at other people (Snowball Fight), march like you’re in a parade, bicycle around a paradise island in search of the checkpoint markers, or use your body and mind as you complete math problems and shake your hips at the same time.

I’m completely hooked… Yesterday I spent 35 minutes at one time trying to find a way to get up to the top of the lookout on the hill while bicycling on paradise island. I never did find how to get up there and I wouldn’t have given up had it not been time for Daphne to spend some special time with her dad…which consisted of them watching Jurassic Park.

The games are fun. The graphics are incredible. And for those who are skeptical, you really do get a workout out of the game.

There are also opportunities for you to weigh yourself and track your weight on an ongoing basis.

Considering that gym membership can run from at least $30+ a month, I think my $19.99 investment in this game was a wise one.

Be Healthy! Be Well!

I haven’t had much time to think or write over the past few days. This past weekend was a busy one in our household.

SATURDAY was the beginning of our busy, three-day weekend. Greg spent the morning working around the house while I ran my grocery errands.

In the afternoon, we took a meal to some of our good friends who recently welcomed baby #3 – their first girl into the world. (We don’t get to see these friends often, but to us they are like kindred spirits. It’s like we don’t miss a beat in between the time we don’t see them.) And she is beautiful. She looks so much like her mother.

Saturday evening was the first official small group service for City Bible Church Baltimore – aka CBCB. Having never participated in a church plant before I can’t really compare it to others, but I can say that it was the first service. The service was very informal and felt more like a small group – which I’m sure it will for a while – than a church service.

We Skype-ed (via computer) with another couple – from VA – who is moving to Baltimore soon to be a part of the church plant team. It was interesting and a testimony to how God is working and expanding his church in this century. Who would have thought 100 years ago that something as complex as the internet would connect people – the church – across a continent??? I love it.

SUNDAY was Valentine’s Day. Our family took an impromptu trip to the beach on the Oregon Coast – aka Fort Stevens1. Fort Stevens was the primary military defense camp for over 84 years in the Northwest. It is located on the the Pacific Ocean just west of Astoria, OR. Fort Stevens was decommissioned as a military base shortly after World War II and today serves as a historic exhibit.

We visited several batteries where the ammo and guns were housed and fired, a museum – which showcased replicas of many of the guns and ammo used during the hey day of the base and a miniature sized replica of what the base looked like when it was at its prime.

Greg and Daphne enjoyed it immensely. I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I guess I do like history more than I thought I did. I found a cookbook – though I didn’t buy it – which contained many recipes indigenous to the United States from the colonial times to the present.

We ended Valentine’s Day at Baja Fresh for dinner and New Seasons where Greg bought me a beautiful bouquet of purple tulips. It was a wonderful day.

MONDAY Greg wanted to go on a morning motorcycle ride – as the day was sunny and bright. So, I took the kids and I drove to the Woodburn outlets on a quest to find a good deal. There were not many to be had that day, but we did come away with a pair of PJs for each of them and a black skirt – from my favorite store – White House Black Market, for me.

Greg had a dentist appointment Monday afternoon and returned in mild pain, so I tried to do what I could to keep the kids quiet. We ended the day watching the Olympics.

It was a busy, but fun weekend.

1Oregon State Parks and Recreation

Weekly Meal Plan

MONDAY French Dip Sandwiches

TUESDAY BBQ Chicken Pizza –Foccaccia Bread Sticks

WEDNESDAY Leftovers

THURSDAY Baked Potatoes & Salad

FRIDAY Chili

PART 1: Ready for School?

PART I

How do you know if your child is ready to start school?

My Girl Daphne

This is Daphne.

This past year, Greg and I enrolled Daphne in preschool. We chose the school mostly because it is only five minutes from our house, but also because we heard good things about it from several friends. The staff was very friendly. We wanted to ensure that we were placing her in the right class.

Most schools determine what grade a child should be enrolled in by looking at their age. In Oregon, by September 1, students must turn 5 in order to enter K, 4 in order to fit into a 4’s pre-K class, and 3 in order to be admitted into a 3s class. At the time, my little girl Daphne was three. (She turned four in December). And in most schools, there would be no expcetions…she would be placed in the three year old class as her birthday didn’t meet the cutoff date.

This little christian school, however did not. We scheduled an appt and met with the school administrator who would test Daphne’s level of aptitude as it related to content across different disciplines and grade levels (up to 2nd grade).

I was scared to allow Daphne to go and take this test alone with the administrator. Not because I didn’t trust the administrator, but I’m not sure I really trusted Daphne. And I started second guessing myself as to whether or not she really was ready for school.

After about 30 minutes, the administrator returned. I asked her how Daphne performed on the tests and she said that “Daphne is a very bright little girl”. She was able to do everything I asked her to do … and in some cases up to 1st grade work.

Of course I was a very happy mother.

Since September, Daphne has been going to school three days a week for three hours a day. And she is excelling in her classroom. Today we met with her teacher who told us that Daphne is a very bright girl who says things at times above her 4 year old stature…more like 24. She is very proud of Daphne and didn’t really have many goals for Daphne the rest of the academic year. She said that Daphne is definitely ready for K next year…

Once again I’m second guessing myself and Daphne. Now I’m asking myself, “will Daphne be ready for K in Baltimore, MD? How will she respond socially with a completely different cultural and ethnic population as the dominant group?”

(to be continued)

Costs Too Much for Me….?

Everywhere you go today, you can find a restaurant, fast food chain or food establishment serving up menu items for $1. And some – not all – of those food choices are high in fat, cholesterol and low in the nutrients your body needs to function.

I’ve seen countless shows where people say that it is difficult to feed a family on a limited budget. And for many that is why they eat out…on the dollar menu.

While it may be difficult, it is not impossible — if you know where and how to shop.

Here’s the scenario. If a normal family of six enjoy dinner eating two items from the typical dollar menu, the total meal would cost $12. Here is how it would looks in terms of calories, fat, carbs, protein and overall nutrition.

SCENARIO 1
Here is what I found for the basic Sandwich and Salad combination at a local fast food chain.

Hamburger
Calories 370 Fat 21g Sat Fat 6 Cholesterol 50mg Sodium 560mg Carbs 31g Fiber 2g Protein 15g

Side Garden Salad
Served with Ken’s Ranch
Calories 330 Fat 26g Sat Fat 6g Cholesterol 30mg Sodium 770mg Carbs 18g Protein 6g

Total Cost for all Items $12 (w/o leftovers)
Total Cost for one dinner (one serving per person) for a family of 6 is $12…which includes 6 hamburgers and six side garden salads – made of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots.

SCENARIO 2

Here is what I found shopping at a local store.

Trident Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers (12)
Calories 170 Fat 9g Sat Fat 1 Cholesterol 60mg Sodium 300mg Carbs 2g Protein 20g
Total Cost $12.99 – Cost Each $1,08

Oroweat Sandwich Thins (6)
Calories 100 Fat 1g Sat Fat 0 Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 230mg Carbs 21g Fiber 5g Protein 5g
Total Cost $1.29 – Cost Each $.215

Romaine Lettuce Hearts (6)
Calories 1 Fat 0g Sat Fat 0 Cholesterol 0 mg Sodium 0 mg Carbs 0 g Protein 0 g
Total Cost $2.99 – Cost Each $.50

Total Cost for all items is $17.27 (w/ extras for more meals)
Total Cost for one dinner (one serving per person) for a family of 6….which includes 6 salmon burgers, 6 sandwich rolls, and 1 head of romaine is $8.27

If you wanted, you could take the extra $3.73 (adding your total to $12) and purchase extras like salad dressing, onions or carrots for this meal and your next.

I’m not trying to say that you should never eat a meal from the dollar menu.  I’m attempting to bring light to the fact that it is possible to eat a meal – prepared in ones home – for less than the cost of eating at a local fast food place…

Be Healthy!  Be Well!

Who would have thought that one could live a life without cable television?

I never thought it was possible. I mean you can watch shows about anything, how to do anything, and where to buy anything on cable. But have you ever wondered how much money you could save if you got rid of your cable for one year??? And imagined what you could do with that money?

Last year, Greg and I took Financial Peace University (FPU). It’s a Dave Ramsey course which teaches you how to dump debt and save money in order to acquire a fuller life. Since we started the program, we have spent less, saved more, and I have a better appreciation for stretching a dollar – not that I didn’t before – but it is greater now.

Cable is one thing that I thought I could never live without. Who can resist the Food Network and Giada’s Hazelnut and Chocolate Pie with Whipped Cream? Or the appeal of BRAVO when you are seeking the latest styles and trends in fashion and merchandising? The channel lists go on and on. You can see anything on cable.

Giada's Hazelnut & Chocolate Pie

For the longest time, COMCAST was the only cable provider in our area. (You could have DISH or DIRECT TV, but because of where we live – there are trees everywhere – it’s difficult to get reception.) And when we moved into our home – five years ago – we thought we just had to have cable. So we ordered it and $85 a month later, we were hooked.

Total spent on a yearly basis – just for cable access, DVR rental and fees was over $1000. Eighty five dollars didn’t seem like much but when you think of cable in terms of the fact that you are spending well over $1000 a year just for access to “specialized” TV shows – that is a huge hunk of change.

I could think of so many other ways to spend $1000 for entertainment purposes. After all, cable – for the most part – is just that – ENTERTAINMENT. Maybe a vacation, a few plays several times a year, a baseball game? The options are limitless.

Well, Greg and I decided to put our money away for a “rainy” day instead of spending it up front on something we didn’t need. And we feel like we have been blessed with the results.

Getting rid of cable has freed up our time and allowed us to find value in other things in life. Things like spending time with our kids, making meals together, eating dinner together are all things that many American families take for granted,.

Not having cable TV is not for everyone. If cable TV is for you, keep it. Make sure you call your cable provider every six months (or so) to negotiate a lower rate. (It is possible!) And at least one day a week…turn off the TV and spend some time with family and friends. The relationships you build will be more valuable to you in the future than Giada’s Hazelnut and Chocolate pie with Whipped Cream. Although if you eat too much of it – it will last on your thighs. 🙂