Tuesday, October 28, 2014

30 Books Before 30 . . . Recommendations Needed!

I've noticed a trend, lately, that my friends are making "30 before 30" lists. I just turned 29, so I considered it, but I don't have 30 things I want to accomplish in my life. Let alone accomplish in one year! Lol. Maybe that makes me totally boring/uninspired, but it's the truth. I do, however, have a desire to learn and grow, and spend my time more productively than constantly browsing the Pinterest humor boards and binge watching Gilmore Girls. Hence, my "30 Books Before 30" idea was born.

I want to use this as an opportunity to "expand my horizons." I traditionally read only "inspirational fiction," but I'm ready to branch out - which is where you, my faithful readers, come in. I'll be honest that I'm not ready to branch all the way to fantasy or sci-fi. That just does not interest me. But I'll readily take general fiction recommendations. It's important to me that they be clean, though. I can handle a little bit of swearing and innuendo, but anything beyond that is too much for me.

I'm also looking for non-fiction/Christian living recommendations. My pastor recently shared 50 of his top favorite books. I'll definitely be borrowing heavily from that list. And I have a few more ideas pinned here. But I'm interested to hear what else you all might recommend.

I'll be 30 in 347 days. That's 49.5 weeks. 11 months. Which means I'm going to have to read about 3 books a month. When I was in high school, I sometimes read 3 books a week, but I have this thing called responsibilities now, that is going to make that more difficult. Haha. It's going to be interesting. And it honestly might become 31 Books Before 31 Years. Lol. But I'm going to try my best! I'll probably have to do one hard theological book every month and 2 easier fiction/fun reads to make it on time.

So lay 'em on me. What do you recommend? What's the best book you've ever read? Go!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Saturday 7

1.Last Saturday was our small group Halloween party. We all dress up, show off our costumes for 10 minutes, then change into comfy clothes to eat delicious food and play hilarious games. But I go all out for those 10 minutes that I'm going to be in costume. This year, I worked off of a wardrobe piece I already own: my jailbreak dress. I looked up some images of the hamburglar online and thrift shopped for the rest of the pieces. Justin is not a big fan of costumes, so I tried to think of something McDonald's related that wasn't quite as ostentatious as Ronald McDonald himself. He ended up as a McDonald's worker protesting for higher wages.
Lucy painted the "M." And it says "Not lovin' it" in black on the side. Just didn't show up in the picture.

2. We got some bad news about our house sale this week. We were originally supposed to close this coming Monday (the 27th), but the buyers have had some trouble with their financing, and the title company is running behind, so it will probably be 3 more weeks until we close. C'mon! Let's get this done!

3. Here's the depression update: Thanks to the slow-poke pharmacy, I didn't start taking my new pills until Monday. Last night and this morning I started to feel a little nauseous, dizzy, and shaky - classic withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, since I went directly from one pill to another, it's been pretty mild. And I've felt good all afternoon/evening. Hopefully that's it for the withdrawals. And hopefully the new pills start helping with the depression soon. I did great all week until Thursday. Of course. I tried thinking about the good, I tried getting out of the house and doing stuff, but it didn't really help. I'm sorry to anyone who had the misfortune of crossing my path Thursday evening. :-/

4. So it's been 2 weeks now of majorly limiting my Dr Pepper intake. I generally don't drink any during the week, and limit myself to small amounts when we go out to eat on the weekend. I've also been eating Lean Cuisines for lunch, majorly cutting back on snacking, and replacing my Dr Pepper with 0 calorie sparkling water. And I have not lost one pound. I do not understand how I can cut out so many calories by getting rid of Dr Pepper and not lose a single pound. I was seriously drinking upwards of 30 oz. a day of Dr Pepper. That's 380 calories removed from my diet every day and no change to show for it!! Grrr. I'm still trying to keep at it, and I'm honestly not missing it that much,(which can only be an act of God), but I'm getting discouraged!

5. After my rough day on Thursday, I took Friday to myself. (Justin has Fridays off) I got my eyebrows and mustache waxed, then literally spent 3 hours at Once Upon a Child. I looked at every piece of clothing in my girls' sizes, sifted through every single book in the book section, looked at all the toys, DVDs, shoes, everything. It. Was. Glorious. And I got my girls some really cute stuff. Shopping for girls is so much fun.
Although, I'm totally not a shopper. I was exhausted afterward and didn't even bother going to Target or Meijer or any of the other stops I had previously planned on. Haha.

6. When Lucy was a baby, I started a tradition of thanking Jesus for her body parts as I slathered lotion on them after a bath. For instance, "Thank you, Jesus, for my legs, to run and walk and kick. . . Thank you, Jesus, for my arms to hold things and give hugs and draw pictures, etc." I've continued the tradition with Lena and always wrap up with, "Thank you Jesus that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And soooo beautiful." This week, Lucy's Cubbies verse was Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." One night at dinner Lucy recited her verse and Lena added from her high chair, "And soooo bootiful." I didn't even realize she was listening to Lucy's recitation - or that she made the connection between the verse and what I tell her at bath time. Amazing!

7. This afternoon, I got to go wedding dress shopping with my sisters and my future sister-in-law. It makes me want to renew my vows or something, so I have an excuse to wear one of those beautiful dresses. When I got married, I wanted the plainest, simplest gown possible and ended up with just that. It was so boring. I want to do it again with some lace or pearls or some kind of fun feature. Esther ended up with a beautiful dress that is perfect for her, and I can't wait to see her walking down the aisle in it!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Good

You know that phrase, "The good, the bad, and the ugly?" Well I feel like I share a fair amount of the bad and the ugly that goes on around here. I don't know why I focus on the bad. Maybe just to make others feel better about their "bad" or to commiserate and get sympathy, or just because no one wants to hear about all my perfect moments all the time. And sometimes, the bad and ugly is honestly comical and I want you all to get a kick out of our disasters. But in my quest to squelch the depression, I've been thinking about how I tend to dwell on the bad and just make things worse. I saw this poster on Pinterest and decided I was going to try it:

So I started jotting down "the good things" yesterday and today. Don't get me wrong. Our life is not all happy moments and sweet snuggles. Lena has been sick and not sleeping. She was up for hours screaming both Saturday and Sunday night. I spend a lot of time breaking up fights between Lucy and Lena, a lot of time yelling, "Lucy! Be nice! Lena! Stop pulling Lucy's hair!" But I don't want you guys to think my kids are terrors all the time. They are so so wonderful. Here are some of our "good" moments from the past couple of days:
  • Lena fell asleep in my arms on the couch. She never does that!
  • Lucy and Lena cuddled on the couch together.
  • Lucy sang the "Cubbies" song at dinner.
  • Lucy reassured Lena in her sweet, calming voice, "You can get out of your high chair when everyone is done eating. It will just take a few minutes. You'll be ok."
  • The girls helped my mom sweep the kitchen floor. I was sitting in the other room listening to Lena say "oops" every few seconds. Lucy encouraged her by saying, "Good job, Lean!"
  • Lena screamed and flailed when I told her it was nap time, but as soon as I sat down in the rocker, she laid her head on my chest and cuddled with me while I sang to her.
  • We survived grocery shopping with no meltdowns and very few fiascoes. 
  • Justin and I got Taco Bell after shopping and Lena cracked us up by shouting "chicken!" from the backseat as soon as she realized we were in a drive thru line. 
  • The girls played well together and we all sat together in the living room laughing at their antics. 
  • Lucy brought me a book that we've only read a few times and "read" it to me, remembering the plot, character's names, and basic premise of the story.
  • Lena laid on the couch trying to figure out Lucy's Leappad and I marveled at the softness of her cheeks and the incredible length of her eyelashes as she concentrated on her game. 
  • Despite some initial crying, Lena let Justin put her to bed. (Major success for that mama's girl!)
  • After a rough night, and getting up at 5:30 am, Lena went back to sleep in bed with me this morning until 7 am!
  • Lena snuggled with me for a long time on the couch.
  • Lucy slept 'til almost 10!
  • Lucy did her schoolwork without a single whine and caught on to the "word family" concept quickly!
  • Lucy and I looked at baby pictures of her for her Cubbies lesson. Such sweet memories!
  • We got dressed to go to the store and I had to stop and take a picture of my stinkin' adorable kids. I love girls' clothes and boots!
  • Lena couldn't be bothered to put her cup down for the picture. Haha. But look at those boots!
  • Lena sneezed in the car, Lucy took the tissue I handed her and wiped Lena's nose without an issue. She even said "Ooh, that was a gross one, Lean!" She's becoming such a big helper!
  • We stopped at Meijer for a gallon of milk and I laughed as Lena ran down the aisle toward the pony as fast as her stubby little legs would take her. 
  • Lucy and I read a chapter of her library book before rest time. I love reading with her.
  • They both napped/rested long enough for me to drink a cup of coffee and catch up on last week's episode of "Project Runway." :-)
  • Lucy said to me, "I'm blowing bubbles in my milk. . . . Actually my mouth air is making bubbles in my milk." Lol.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. I went to the doctor this week to discuss my depression. I've been on Paxil for 8 years, originally as a remedy for anxiety. It worked wonders for my anxiety, but hasn't been cutting it for the newfound depression. My doctor was sweet and assured me that the reason my depression has intensified since having kids isn't because I hate my kids or am not cut out to be a mom, but because my hormones were disrupted and haven't settled back into their pre-baby norm. That's probably just psycho-babble totally unfounded in science, but successful in relieving my anxiety and depression about having anxiety and depression. Lol. The good news is she switched me to a new drug (Prozac) and upped my dose. Give me a couple weeks, and then I'm going to be all rays of sunshine and dancing butterflies. ;-)

2. More good news: our house appraisal went through!! We were a little worried it wouldn't appraise high enough. When we re-financed two years ago, it appraised for $20,000 less than what we just "sold" it for. Thank the Lord for a renewed economy! Now we're just waiting on the title company. As of right now, we're still hoping to close on October 27, as long as the title company isn't too far behind. I don't care when we close as long as it's before November 16, when the next house payment is due. Haha.

3. A couple great blog posts I read this week:
Young Woman, I Am So Sorry - another one from my favorite blogger, about how women are taught by our culture to place beauty above all else. I was especially struck when she shared a link that shows how different women look with makeup than without. I see those types of things on Pinterest all the time and always think, "Man, I wish I could do my makeup to look like that." But Jess says this about it:  "[the world will] teach you how to do your make-up so that you cease to look like you, and start looking like a generic, photo-shopped mannequin of a person, with no pores, melanin, or hairs out of place." I've never thought of it like that: doing your make up in such a way that you cease to look like you.

In 2048 When I Look Back - this is from a woman at my church. She writes about the characteristics Paul outlines in Timothy's epistle that a Christian widow should have. I always skim those verses because I'm obviously not an elderly widow, but Cali looked at it more as characteristics of an elderly Christian woman - whether or not she's a widow - and came at it with the perspective of, "When I'm 60, will I be able to say I have these characteristics? That I've spent my life doing these things?" It was both encouraging and convicting (as the best articles always are. :-) ).

4. I've been reading Jeremiah in my devotions and have been struck by how grateful I am that God saw fit to include Gentiles in his plan of salvation. I feel like it's something we don't talk about very often in church. But throughout the whole Old Testament God obliterates entire nations and repeatedly refers to the Israelites as his chosen people. If not for his grace, I'd be included in the "other nations" and have no access to Jesus and his salvation. Darn Dutch blood.

5. This may come as a surprise to you, but I am not a lover of nature. Haha. Every year when the fall color pictures start to flood my facebook feed, I always say, "Wow. Trees. Thrilling." But this year, for some reason, I'm loving it! I think it's partly because Lucy has taken such an interest in the trees changing colors and loves to point them out to me as we're driving. I decided to take some pictures of the view from our deck, and realized that I've taken pictures from the same vantage point in a few different seasons and thought I'd share them all side by side. 

6. A few pictures from my phone for the week: 
This picture cracks me up.

Esther bought me mascara for my birthday! Don't worry, though. Still embracing my freckles and ginormous eyebrows.
Speaking of ginormous eyebrows. This girl definitely inherited the unibrow. It doesn't detract from her cuteness!

7. Big news everyone: I have been Dr Pepper-free for 5 days! I weighed myself on Monday and was shocked by the number. I haven't seen that number outside of pregnancy. So I decided to stop buying Dr Pepper. I can drink it if we go out to eat or something, but I'm not going to have it at home anymore. It's actually been going surprisingly well. I've been adding an afternoon cup of coffee so I don't get caffeine headaches, and I've been drinking sparkling flavored water so I still get my fizz fix. Eventually I'm going to have to start counting calories or exercising or something, but for now I'm just taking one small step at a time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. Did you notice there was no Saturday 7 last week? I was wallowing in my depression a little bit. I felt like I didn't have anything positive to share and was feeling convicted about my lack of joy. So I just skipped it. I'm still fighting through the depression. I don't know why it's so bad all of a sudden, but I have an appointment with my doctor on Thursday to talk about upping my medication. And I've been trying to spend less time on the computer and more time in the Bible. I just finished Isaiah in my "One Year through the Bible" journey and was surprised by how much I loved it. I used to think it was just a bunch of "Woe is you. Israel has come to ruin" but there's also a lot of redemption and hope and love there too.
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . . (Isaiah 30:15)
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by namel you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1b)
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4) 
2. I read so many great parenting articles in the past two weeks. I'm suddenly going to be an amazing parent. (I'm writing this as Lucy watches her 6th episode of Sid the Science Kid [it's educational!] and Lena continually begs me to get off the couch and play with her.) Anyway, one of them was called "Parent Like No One is Watching." It's about autism, but it's something I'm trying to remind myself of anyway. I've been trying to figure out why I'm so uncertain about my parenting. I always assumed I'd know just what to do and be confident in my decisions, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I've decided that it's because my kids aren't turning out like I expected them to. Lol. How's that for honesty? When Niki's kids started whining in the grocery store, she whipped out the angry whisper and they silenced in an instant. When my kids start whining freaking out in the grocery store, I try the angry whisper and they scream even louder! When Niki told her kids no and they started to cry, she told them to stop their crying, and they'd choke down their tears before she finished her sentence. When my kids start crying, they don't stop until the fat lady sings. I feel like a failure and I feel like people are judging me because my kids aren't perfect. But it's time to get over that. I'm doing the best I can. If people want to judge me, that's their problem. And it's a reminder to show grace when I want to judge other parents, too. (All of the above is easier said than done!)

3. I also read this one called The Opposite of the Proverbs 31 WomanIf you're a woman and you've been a Christian longer than 20 minutes, you have read Proverbs 31. And if you've been a Christian woman longer than 20 years like I have, you've read it so many times it's become commonplace. So it was really interesting to see what the opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman looks like. It was also very convicting. These were the parts that especially got to me:

She sits around, aimlessly waiting for opportunities. Her hands are idle, because nothing magically comes her way on its own.She does the bare minimum necessary to contribute to the nourishment and care of her family (and sometimes, not even that!). She can’t be expected to go to great lengths to bless her household. She sleeps in, and uses her time poorly. . . her exhaustion and stress boil over into laziness and inaction.

Basically, I feel very convicted about my laziness and have got to do something about it! 

4. We were busy all week getting our house ready for the appraisal. And by we, I mean Justin. I went with him on Sunday to wash walls while he patched nail holes. I couldn't get any of the scuff marks/grime off the walls with any of my tried and true cleaning methods, so I ended up laying on the living room floor being sad about selling our first house while he did all the work. And then he went back Monday and Tuesday to paint over the said scuff marks/grime that I couldn't get off and mow the grass so everything looked clean and new for the appraisal on Thursday. Still no word on a result, but our realtor said no news is good news. Trying to be patient . . .

5. And now I shall devote three entire points to birthday week/weekend. I have always been a big fan of birthdays. My parents made them a big deal, so I tend to get a little narcissistic around the beginning of October. This year, I held off until the 6th and then declared birthday week. I did not make dinner. I did very little housework. I watched a ton of Gilmore Girls. And I ate to my heart's content. All of which are very Gilmore-esque things to do. 

6. The official birthday celebrations began Thursday, the night before my birthday. Justin and I left the girls with my parents and went on a hot date! First up: Olive Garden. It was so nice to eat while my food was still hot and not have to worry about Lena climbing on the table or Lucy puking all over the place. Haha.
After enjoying our glorious, alfredo-filled meals, we headed over to the theater. When I was at the library on Wednesday, they were giving out free passes to a pre-screening of The Best of Me. I'm all about free movies! Especially chick flicks! I looked it up at home to make sure it was something I'd like and got a little nervous when I saw it was based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Those never end well. But the movie got really good reviews, so we decided to try it out. I don't know why I ever think Sparks will surprise me. It's the same every time. I just need to stop tormenting myself. Ugh. Hated it. 

7. The birthday fun continued Friday morning with breakfast in bed:

I hear you, Paris.
Then, we packed up and headed off to a hotel in Grand Rapids for the night. The girls have never been to a hotel and I knew they'd love it. Plus, I had enough points through my credit card rewards to get a room for nearly free. (I sprang the extra $24 for a "suite.") We had a blast!
Lounging with chips and cable TV. Note to self: most hotels have white linens. Don't bring Doritos.
The main attraction: the pool. I brought some of Lena's bath toys and she had a blast standing on the steps playing.

Mom in the hot tub. Dad and kids in the pool. This is the life.
Everything was peachy until bed time. I really didn't anticipate it being such a problem. Lena is a great sleeper and sleeps anywhere as long as she has her bed and her lovies. Well she had both last night, but was an absolute wreck. She cried forever before falling asleep. And Lucy drank too much of my pop for dinner, so literally didn't fall asleep until midnight. Of course, Lena woke up at 12:19 crying, ended up in bed with us for a while, finally went back to her own bed, when Lucy woke up screaming for no apparent reason at 3:45. Suffice it to say that we have all been tired today. Ha. 

We did a quick jaunt at the mall after checking out of the hotel. I desperately need a new pair of jeans, but I just don't know where to shop now that I'm nearing 30. I usually get my jeans from American Eagle, but I'm starting to feel like one of those moms who's trying too hard to be cool when I shop there. Where do 30 year olds shop? I tried on one pair of jeans in AE, but I couldn't bear the expense . . . or the size I now wear. You know what they say: another year, another pant size! Oy. I need to start doing this. I'll be slim and trim in no time!

Since I was depressed about my jean size, we did the logical thing and went out for lunch!
I was so hungry, I forgot to take a pic before digging in. Red Robin birthday burger! Yummmmm.
It was a great birthday. I was showered with love (thank you for all the facebook greetings!), I gorged myself on amazing food, and I spent quality time with my family. Couldn't ask for anything more!
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