Thursday, December 26, 2013

A little about me...

Welcome to my blog!  I am so glad you found your way here and that we get to spend some time together.

If you are new here let me tell you a little about myself...

My name is Lindsay and I am a Mom of two kiddos.  I am in the trenches of motherhood and striving to love it rather than complain about it...easier said than done sometimes :)

I am married to my college sweetheart, Nick.  An amazing man, he works really hard to provide for our family so I can live out my dream of being a stay at home mom.

We got married in college.  Three years later we had our first baby and life seemed to take off!  We had our next baby 20 months later and life became even busier.  I have a degree in Corporate Finance which now only comes in handy when balancing our checkbook or moving investments around.

We are a homeschooling family which is super expensive!  If you are a homeschooler than you can agree and if you aren't a homeschooler you may have never thought of that!  While I do it as cheaply as I can, we still have to pay for things that would be free for our kids if they went to a public school.  Because of that I also search for deals and coupons, making me a self proclaimed bargainista :)  I love finding deals and I hate paying full retail for ANYTHING! :)

Above all, I am a Christian who would be so lost without the salvation and grace God has provided me.  God has blessed our family so much and I strive to let everyone know how trusting him transforms our life!

Our life is not perfect.  But it is real.  I try really hard to not portray a life that seems all puppy dogs and butterflies but a true picture, behind the curtain of kids throwing things, a couple learning to parent, and the rawness that is why we all need grace.

I blog about a lot of things but sometimes not very consistently.  I blog about life but my life is not blogging by any means.  I blog to remember things and to share our experiences with others in an effort that we may help someone with what they are going through or'll see blogs on organizing, couponing, our journey with autism, homeschooling, decorating, vacationing...the works!

As a disclaimer please know that any meany-weeny or malicious comments will not have a welcome spot on my blog.  I know everyone has their own my opinion but this being my blog I get to make sure this blog makes peace, not war.  :)

I hope you enjoy my blog!  So glad you could stop by!  :)

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Good Bye 2013 and Good Bye Debt!

Hello there!  Happy day after Christmas!  Or Boxing Day if you are reading this from Great Britain or Canada...does oh Cananda!  pop into anyone else's head when they type Canada?  No? Just me?  Well then, moving on...

I hope you had the most fantabulous Christmas ever!  The kind of Christmas where you feel joy and know how much God loves you by people around your table.  We spent Christmas running around or dragged around and I had the flu so it was fun.  ahem.  

But we felt love, we know we serve a great God and we got so many great gifts!  It was amazing! All kinds of cash and fabulous prizes!!!

We were talking and at first we were going to pool our cash (Nick and I's not the kids) to get a new faucet for the bathroom where we are trying to put a farm sink we've had for eva!

But today we were talking and since we don't have enough cash to get the whole things we'd have to spend more (cause faucets don't come in pieces, y'all).  And truth be told we've been throwing around the whole Dave Ramsey get out of debt concept for a while.  But we just haven't been very active with it.  So after a quickie conference in the kitchen (don't you just love those?) we decided to start our debt-paying snowball with that money.  We also have money in our checking that we were planning on using to pay things down so we'll use that too.  After that on a month to month basis I have no idea what we will do to pay down what we owe.  We don't have huge amounts but enough it would be nice to get it paid and just be done, you know?

I am excited to be doing this and hopefully by writing about it it will keep us a little more nose-to-the-grindstone with this.  Our hope is to stick at this really hard for 2014 and basically be done by the end of the year.  Yeehaw!

I am not sure how gung ho we are getting.  I don't know that we are cancelling cable as we are stuck in a contract, and we are in no means getting rid of our car to get a klunker.  But I do know we are planning on cutting out eating out, extra spending to try to free up some more cash to pay things down!

Can't wait!
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Nine Days into December...

Here we are nine days into our "super spectacular Christmas makeover"  and so things are going well!   I must say, the 5 gifts a day thing (which means I'm wrapping 5 gifts a day...I wish I could have 5 gifts a day.  Why isn't that happening?) is going well.  Day 2, I was a gift short having only wrapped 4 so I got to wrap an extra gift the next day, which really was, no big deal.  The thing I like about wrapping 5 presents a day is that the wrapping paper situation is under control.  I mean, seriously.  I have all of my wrapping paper grouped together and when I go to wrap them I only have to grab one roll.  I have also finished off about 3 rolls of wrapping paper which is super helpful.  Usually I am rolling around in all of the wrapping paper rolls and in the process I am losing my tape and scissors and everything else.  Which by the way it is super frustrating, so this way it saves me a lot of headaches.

I also must reiterate how fantastic it is to be semi-organized this time of year because as I can attest to, things come up and when it does it is so nice to have a clear schedule.  Secret:  we are getting the kids Nook tablets for Christmas.  The Nook HD plus to be clear :)  Which this week and next week somehow turned into the "hot item" of Christmas shopping and also was the one thing we had not bought.  So we've been looking everywhere.  Nick was able to find some and buy them from a Target 2 counties and an hour and a half each way away.  Oh joy!  It really wasn't that bad and the kids had fun and I had fun...until Emma puked in the car.  Twice.  See?  I probably would have blown my lid if I was stressed with being behind and needing to shop and clean and everything else that would be over my head.  But since I am keeping everything in check and taking small bites out of my to-do's I am less stressed and able to at a moment's notice go out and help out with the finishing up!  See people?  Being organized works, I tell ya :)

I hope you all are having a great Christmas season.  I feel so blessed to have a warm home, a huge tree, and a happy family to enjoy it all with!  Jesus is the true meaning of our season :)

Cheers!  :)
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The most confusing Doctor's Appointment Ever!

Sorry about the blur in this photo...I just love it and it speaks to me for some reason
Today we are leaving the house.  We have a doctor's appointment.  Well, Cal does.  With his developmental pediatrician.  The neat thing about his doctor is that she did her internship with the doctor I had when I was a little girl, so we go way back.

Tomorrow I will leave the house with a little boy with Autism.  He has either PDD-NOS or Aspergers.  I may not return with an Autistic child though.  Because of a DSM-5 change to Autism spectrum conditions, he may no longer be considered Autistic.  

The confusing part comes in that, how amazing would it be that suddenly your son is no longer Autistic?  Same problems though, so with no Autistic diagnosis that means we can't qualify for the Autism school we are on the waiting list for. 

This is a weird feeling.  This feeling of not really knowing how I want him to be diagnosed.  And I know that a diagnosis doesn't really matter...Calvin is Calvin is Calvin.  

Now onto that appointment :)

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Update

 Hello my loves!  I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgivting celebration!  Ours was fantastic...we laughed and ate lots at the Thanksgiving at my Grandma's house and then we loaded up and traveled to Illinois for another Thanksgiving, this one on Nick's side, where I was able to catch up with one of my very best friends, Lisa.!!!

Black Friday we always go and find a Christmas tree to chop down.  Here we are with our tree.  I feel like I look huge in this picture but it could be because I remember wearing 3 shirts and a feather vest under my coat.  Yoink.  Look at poor Emma, she can't even put her arms down, ha! Oh well, at least we were warm.

When we got home we went to town decorating the tree.  We got everything on it and looking swell before we crashed into bed!  Saturday we went shopping on our monthly grocery extravaganza and then Sunday we stayed home from church (Cal and I were under the weather) and so we decorated, decorated, decorated.  As I write this it is Sunday afternoon...Nick is watching 'Da Bears and I am typing away during a much needed Pinterest Break :)  Hopefully tomorrow I will be at the place where I can write a post showing you everything I've decorated to my little hearts content...we will see though :)

I thought though that I would give a little update on my previous post about Christmas helps and let you know how I am doing.

*Christmas cards: they all successfully made it into the post office box Wednesday afternoon.  It was a janky looking post office box with all of the stickers and seals peeled off of it so I was a little skeptical as to if it was even in service!  But I heard from a friend that she got our card and so I knew all was well :)  Towards the end of Tuesday I was still addressing them when I hit somewhat of a wall but I just kept going.  I was thinking of how nice it would be to have them all done.  I do have a couple more to do but they are ones where I have to wait to send them due to people moving or I am waiting to hear back for new addresses.

As much of a burden it can be, don't you just love sending out Christmas cards?  There's something so wonderful about it, families growing, moving, changing.  Sending cards to Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, Maryland.  All over and it is so nice to think that Christmas brings us all together in that way :)

*Decorating: It is going pretty well.  I took out the board books and things I really didn't want them playing with and so there was no struggle when I opened the bins.  I am struggling as the weekend ends to get everything decorated.  I know if I don't finish before the week starts then everything will just sit in bins while our weekly busyness just swirls around.

*Making/Taking Food: On Saturday when we went to do our monthly shopping, I looked at everything thinking "cookie day, Christmas meal, ugly sweater party"  If I thought something would be good for one of those events, I scooped it up with the thought that it will just be less I have to go out for later on in the month.  You know, when it's all harry-scary out there with the crowds and the ice and the stress.  Yikes.

So there are my updates.  Hope you all are having a relaxing and productive weekend around your neck of the woods.  I know here I have digested WAY too much green bean casserole and cherry pie.  But oh well, it's the holiday weekend.  Tomorrow it's back to normal around here!

Much love to you and yours!  :)

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Making a List, Checking It Twice

This year I am making a list.  And I'm going to check it twice.  Maybe the song isn't talking about making a list of things to buy but a list of things to do.  At least that's what my list is about.
Anyone else ever feel like this about Christmas?  :)

Last year I tried to be more organized. I shopped all year 'round and really felt like I had a leg up...until it got a little too close to Christmas and I realized that I had let my ego of being ahead get the best of me and I found myself way behind way too late to fix it.  Basically I shot myself in the foot by convincing myself that a year worth of shopping meant that I was done.

But I was far from done.

So I took the feelings that I had from last year and used them to kind of troubleshoot my faults to be prepared for this year.  Here are things that always catch me up and the solutions I've come up with so I don't have these things hanging over my head:

*Christmas cards-I always put these off, have lots of cute cards, and then am struggling at the last minute to get them out in the mail amidst all of the other tasks going on.
SOLUTION: I'm already addressing them to get in the mail the day before Thanksgiving. I can wipe my hands of them and sit back and relax.

*Decorating-Every year I have the best intentions.  I am going to make amazing displays around the house, people will ooh and aah and it will be amazing.  But it never happens.  I always have Nick bring down our decorations and then 5 bins end up sitting in a corner, just waiting to be unloaded up until the very last minute.  This year I'm not doing it.  Not gonna do it.
SOLUTION: While we are sticklers (my husband is) about not decorating until after Thanksgiving, I was able to have him bring all of the bins out of the attic.  I am going through them the days before Thanksgiving: weeding out what the kids are too old for (training dishes, board books), and paring down the bins we need to decorate with by getting out things I know we will not be using and putting those things together.  I tend to get really nostalgic once that tree's up so sitting in my craft room doing this really helps me to think don't need, need, don't need, don't need.  Trust me folks, this works :)

*Christmas Shopping- I've always been okay about shopping Christmas early, but early was November, maybe October.  I always ended up thinking I had bought more than I really had and ended up going on massive shopping sprees at the end.
SOLUTION: I have taken a clue from my favorite person, my Aunt Jan, and have shopped all year.  I've made a detailed list of what I've gotten for who including how much I've spent along the way to make sure I don't overspend.

*Christmas Budget-I always tried to spend money but with the massive shopping trips I took I was ruining my budget at the finish line.
SOLUTION: To be honest I don't have an overall Christmas budget.  I try to buy items as cheaply as possible  (with coupons, clearance, sales, etc) and it always seems to work out.  An example is for one child I bought 13 items and spent $42.00.  The retail value of those items was about $184.00 so I saved a lot of money!   $42.00 is within the range of what I am willing to spend so I am okay with that.  I keep an eye on my spending throughout the year so I am aware of what I've spent.  What I do budget for is the month of December: Christmas tree, dinners, cookie making, stamps, gas going to extra places: it all adds up...we set an amount to stick to with all of those categories.

*Gift Wrapping-Am I the only person who hates the whole "staying up late wrapping gifts until the break of dawn on Christmas Eve" thing?  This year I've decided no way, no how am I doing that again.  My problem being that the place I wrap presents is also known as our homeschool classroom which makes it a little tricky to get things wrapped, and then not touched by inquiring little hands :)
SOLUTION: Gifts are going to be wrapped ahead of time and then taken to any houses they are going to that are not mine.  We exchange gifts at my grandma's and so any gifts that go there are going there immediately.  That way there's less to keep track of here.  Once those are out of the way I will start wrapping the gifts that stay here but aren't for our kids.  Those we have room for in our classroom while still doing school.  After we start our Christmas vacation the kiddos won't be in the classroom and I'll be able to wrap the kids gifts without them spying them :)  Whatever works for you, the point is make a number and wrap that number of gifts per day...5 is my number.  5 gifts a day gang :)

*Taking/Making Food-I love cooking but when I am asked at the last minute to bring a dish or appetizer, I freak.  When I freak I spend way too much on stuff I know no idea how to make and get so nervous.
SOLUTION: I've thought of what people usually ask me to bring and what I am comfortable taking to places.  I usually make appetizers or desserts. So in November I found a sale and stocked up on crackers and cream cheese for making cheese balls and dips.  I also stocked up on cocoa powder and add-ins for brownies and cakes like peanut butter, nuts, toffee pieces.  With these things on hand I'll be able to whip up something relatively quickly without the fuss of running out to buy ingredients.

So I hope this helps you all with the dreaded Christmas tasks.  I came up with this list for myself when I noticed that Christmas was starting to feel more daunting than darling.  And I don't want that.  This year, with these items checked twice and under control, mistletoe will be the only thing hanging over my head!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Morning Sunshine!

Good Morning!  I hope you enjoy this video this morning!  

We live here in the good old midwest, I am proud to say, and yesterday as you may have heard, we had storms rip through.  So I am thinking lots could use a little pick me up right now.  

We got the children's school pictures taken last week and I am over the moon with how they turned out.  Love these kiddos so much! I'm still having a love/hate relationship with these children growing up so quickly!  

Friday evening my cousin Andy arrived.  He is the children's favorite uncle and they have been having so much fun with him!  He's their Funcle :) We've been busy catching up, laughing, talking, and having so much fun together!  

Well I think that is it for now. Hope these pictures and the video get your week off to the best start it can have!  

Love to you all! 


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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Babies Aren't Babies Anymore :(

I know all mother's go through this so I'm just going to say it...I hate these babies growing up!  It's hard and sad and heart-breaking all at the same time it's exciting and fulfilling and heart-warming.  

 These babies of ours are 5 and 7!  5 and 7!!!  I just can't believe it.  I look back at these pictures and am so saddened by how quickly the time has fled.  Where did my babies go?  When did they stop being babies?
 And this teeny little guy...well, he's going to be 6 in January!  Six!!!!  Where did the time go?  This is truly startling.  We will never again have a four year old, or a new little baby in the house.
I miss the chubby cheeks.  The soft little curls they both had.  I miss their new smells.  
And as hard as it is, I'm so thankful for silly pictures.  Because I can remember the silly smiles and giggles that came along with the pictures, the softness of their skin, their cuddliness.  It's amazing to me what pictures bring back to the mind.  It's all in there somewhere just not in the forefront of my memory.

Now, off to stop these little ones from getting any bigger! :)
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Crushing Comparison


It's one of the worst habits I have.  

Every day I seem to try to compare our lives to others around us.  

I try to homeschool like others I blogs, in friends, in some imaginary perfect world my mind seems to create.  I try to keep house like books, commercials, and magazines suggest.  I try to be a wife as soap operas, movies, and reality television hints at being.  

I try to do these silly, foolish things because I compare my life to others.  I compare what I have and how I act to how they are and what they have. 

And suddenly within an instant of seeing what people make on pinterest, the perfect lives they display on facebook, the blogs that tout the amazingly patient homeschool mother, suddenly my life just doesn't seem good enough.  My abilities don't add up to what is required to be a good wife, mother, teacher. We don't have good enough things, I don't keep our house decorated as well as I should.  My husband's not romantic enough.  My children aren't well behaved enough.  

Comparison takes our joy. It takes our happiness.  It makes us miserable about a life that should make us happy down to our very core.  

We are after all so blessed beyond measure. Blessed with things and love God gives us that we don't in any way deserve.

By comparing my life to others I diminish God's ability to give me what is perfect for our situation.  In a way comparison is throwing back into God's face what he has given us.  Saying it's not good enough.  That what we have in mind surely must be better than what he came up with.  

And seriously, when put like that, how dumb does it sound?  

I decided to blog about this when I came across some articles on Pinterest titled things like "20 things to do to be happier each day"  or "4 things that will ruin your homeschooling".  I'm not linking to them because there is absolutely nothing wrong with those blogs and are written my wonderful women.  

But the bullet point each article contained that said something generic like "don't compare your life to others" left me wanting more of an explanation.  I mean, that I know.  I get it.  But the hard thing for me, the obstacle I struggle with is, "how do you stop comparing?"  How do you make your views and your life be good enough for you?  

To stop comparing, these are some things I have done:

*Take a Facebook break.  I think the time period you do this for, well, this kind of revolves around your habit of checking it.  Do you check it once a day?  Maybe go a week without it.  Check it every hour?  Even going a day without it could break your cycle of dependency on finding out what everyone else is doing.  Even sub-consciously you may be sizing yourself up to everyone else without even noticing.

*Make a gratitude journal.  I began doing this after reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp and it has so truly helped.  Writing simple and yet complex blessings God gives like "light slanting through autumn leaves outside kitchen window" gives me a profound new viewpoint which helps me to see the every day as a gift and to actively seek out and establish blessings for what they are.  

*View yourself in a better light.  I so often find fault in myself.  The other day a mom was talking to me while Emma was in ballet class.  She complimented me on how well behaved my children are.  I found myself, in looking back to be a humiliating way, talking about how it's because I have them on a schedule and then proceeding to tell her how it's so bad that their on a schedule and how they now depend too much on their schedules.  Rather than accept the compliment I had to distort and twist it until I made it into something bad that I do.  How weird is that?  So seek what you do, and what you do well.  Find things that you are good about and bask in them rather than try to find fault in yourself.  By doing that we can stop wanting to be like others.  

*I read a book recently that said something like "quit comparing your outtake reel to someone else's highlights video".  Do you get that?  I had this problem especially with Facebook.  I would look at someone else's photos of their perfectly dressed children from their most recent photo shoot and suddenly the last bit of confidence I had while sitting in my cruddy sweats on my discount couch in our dusty house, crumbles and I feel inadequate and poor and a failure as a mother.  All because I saw a photo.  People often times only show what they want you to see.  You don't see the bad, the ugly, the tired, the fights.  But so often you are shown their best while you're in your worst. Sound familiar?  By remembering that their best is not the only side of them can help you to stop comparison and to remember that they are broken people in a broken world too, just like you.  

I hope this list helps you.  I have gotten a lot better at comparing our life to the lives of others I see.  I've been able to say to myself "okay I may not be able to do that but there are lots of other things I am good at" and just leave it at that.  I hope today you can squash any comparison going on in your mind and you can store up the joy you have in your heart because of the life God has blessed you with.  

Happy weekend sweet friends! 

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Neighborhood Halloween Party

This past weekend we took the kiddos to our neighborhood's Halloween party.  
 Here are the kiddos all ready to go!  This year we have a bride and a ninja.  Emma is actually the bride from the movie "Tangled" but she's pretty much dropped the movie part and just tells people she's a bride.
 So excited to be here and get started!  Nick's mom and dad joined us too at the party and we all had a great time together.  We love our neighborhood: it's an old historic district in our city and it's actually even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The brick streets and old houses make you feel like you are some type of movie set or something :)
 Here's Emma hard at work.  When she's really concentrating her angel kiss shows up :)  She's decorating a bag for all of her treats.
 After the kiddos parade around the block they dug through hay piles for candy

 Then it was Pinata time!  Emma and Cal were in two different age groups so they got different pinatas.

All in all I think the kiddos had so much fun!  Love going out and seeing all of our neighbors and friends.  We have a Christmas party coming up and we are already so excited for that!

Hope you're enjoying Halloween celebrating as well!
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Thank you Allison!!! :)

I just wanted to say a huge, HUGE, HUGE thanks to our friend Allison who left a super sweet comment on my facebook page after reading this blog.  Truth be told I have been filled with so much self-doubt lately.  Darn you Satan, darn you!!! :p

I used to write a blog for our area's newspaper and struggled with this problem then as well. The problem of: who in the world even cares what I have to say?  I never want what we are doing around the house to be a self-righteousy and I'm so sorry if they come across that way.  I struggle with blogging because on one hand I really want to get everything down so I can look back and remember it.  So our kiddos have it to look back on some day.  I want to be a voice, an advocate, of Cal's struggle with Autism and Apraxia and if I can help one mom feel like she's no alone then the whole mess will be worth it. I want to help other Mama's trying to homeschool their littles to get ideas or to think, wow, my house is so clean compared to hers! But I never want to come across as "look at me, look at this cool thing I made, I'm so much a better Mother than you could ever hope to be".  It's a delicate balance that's required in the mental state to blog apparently.  Writing all of these reasons out helps me to remember why I'm doing this at all. 

There are blogs I read, one particular is coming to mind, where the mom has their kids volunteer their time for something, then proceeds to follow them around, taking pictures and blogging about it.  In my mind helping others should be a selfless act, not a self promoting thing.  Am I the only one who feels that way???  It's things like that that I don't want to do.  I also never want to share too much of my children's lives; to make them end up feeling like they are living in a fish bowl. 

All that being said though, I am going to take up blogging again.  At times it is hard because hardly any of you stinkers comment but I know you read. :)  There are always people telling me they are "blog stalking" me which I think is cute.  Well, cute unless you're creepy.  Then that makes it...creepy. 

So thanks again Allison for seeing through the clutter and dust to view our children's rooms as colorful and full of life  :)  Seriously you made my day, week, life.  :)
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Hello my loves!

Hello everyone!  Sorry I've been gone from the blog for so long but we have been busy, busy, busy!  
 As you can see we've been being super cute!  Emma got a part in the Nutcracker here in town and is a snowflake. She is so excited!!!  And we are so busy running her to practices!
 The kids met Pete the Cat who has a book series in case you are wondering where he's from (like I was)
 We got a Spiderman...
 And a Hello Kitty...
 Some found a love for defense...
 While others discovered maybe they don't like soccer so much..
 We toured a fire house
 Practiced jumping out of burning buildings
 We picked pumpkins
 We cleaned out the sandbox...
 And now we play in it every day!!!
And last but not least we built a lego our pjs.

So on top of school we've managed to stay pretty busy!  Cal has started Taw Kwon Do and Nick has started his new position...finally!!!!  It is so nice to have him home by 4:30 every day but boy that sure does make our days fly even faster than before!  Hope you all are well!!!  I'll write soon :)
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