Saturday, November 1, 2014

Zoe's 1st Grade Portraits

These first 4 are our annual photos that we take outside on our front porch each year on her first day of school! The next photo is her portrait that was done by Lifetouch through LLA and the last one is one that I took when I did photos of the Classical Conversations Sioux Falls group.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today's Task: Planning a New 8 Week Menu Plan

It has been about 5 years since I've pulled off an 8 week menu plan and shopping trip.   Theoretically writing down 7 meals for 8 weeks wouldn't take up that much of my time, but when you factor in special occasions, holidays, community group, our budget, sales, coupons, adding 1 or 2 new recipes, finding out which ingredients are needed for everything, figuring out what's currently in our pantry vs. how much I need to buy.... plus taking into account the 150 interruptions and breaks as a result of my daily household chores, my two wonderful children, and our 3 pets, it results in nearly a 3 day process that is onlly about 80% complete.

Thankfully, next time I go to create the list I can for the most part just copy and paste and make a few tweaks here and there to account for the current sales and coupons and whatever else, and I won't need to start entirely from scratch.

Life just got to be so busy and tiring once Avery was born and before that I couldn't really do any big shopping trips while pregnant so I haven't done a lot of money & time saving things in the past two years.  I'd try to have a monthly plan to go by for food but always forgot to buy something so we'd run out of food earlier than I'd planned for and more often than not we end up eating either super cheap food or fast food for dinner. I don't even want to know how much money I have probably wasted... :-/

For some reason I'm motivated to get this stuff done now!  I think it may have had something to do with reading Stepping Heavenward a couple weeks ago.  My perspective changed on many different things and I think it gave me that push that I needed to get my act together again.  Look, I'm even updating my blog for the second time in a week! :)

I should get back to work on the meal plans. I'm enjoying a brief moment of quiet now that both kids are finally in bed. The kittens (who are about 2 1/2 lbs each and not yet de-clawed) are currently running around the room like mad (I've been watching/reading way too much Sherlock), scratching everything in their path... I can't even count the times they've clawed me since we adopted them about a month ago.  Most of the time it is an accident but nevertheless, it is painful.  So as I write this I am silently praying for protection from these little monsters.

Okay, "play" time is over.  Back to work I go!

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 2014 - Family Updates

We are 3/4 of the way through the month of July already. This summer has been a good one so far.  Only about 2 weeks left though until I need to really start planning and preparing for the next school year!

Here is a list of updates on our family this Summer.

Family Travel: We spent a month in California from mid-May to mid-June.  During this time we celebrated my sister's marriage to Caleb Romo, Joseph Holiday's graduation from high school, and several birthdays!  We spent a day at Sea World, a day at the Safari Park in Escondido, spent a few days at Pacific Beach, and we visited Old Town San Diego, something I haven't done since I was a little kid! Overall it was a nice trip.  I'm ready for a break from CA though... I'm not sure when the next trip out there will be.

Update on Avery: Avery has just recently begun to talk! She says several words now and yesterday she said "I love you" for the first time! Some of her most frequent words are, "Outside" ("Asiiide"), "Mommy", "Daddy!!", "Book", "Eat", "Kitty" (Kiiieeee), "Cup" (Buck), "Hug" (Ug), "Slide" (Siiii) and she says a lot of things that sound like short sentences but it really is difficult to tell if she's actually saying a sentence.  She loves to give hugs, she says, "awwww" whenever she gives someone (or a toy, or a kitty) a hug.  

Update on Zoe:   Zoe has been enjoying the summer by playing with the neighbor kids as much as possible. Her friends' names are Karly, Hayley, Kailah, Jacob, Mataya, and Noel.   She also spent last week attending VBS at Oak Hills Baptist Church with her friends Kjersten and Max.  Whenever she goes over to Grandma and Grandpa's she always runs a few houses down to visit with her friend Max.  The two of them are such good friends. I hope they remain friends!

Update on Gage:  He just sold his drum set that he's had since he was a kid! He intends to purchase an electronic drum set instead.  It'll probably be a few months before he makes that purchase though.  Aside from that he's been busy working at RAS and doing a side job for his Dad that is requiring a lot of extra time.  Occasionally in the evenings we watch a show called Once Upon a Time.  We're also watching Revenge, Parks & Recreation, Community, Burn Notice, and Cheers...although our TV watching times are pretty sporadic.  One night we'll watch several episodes of a show then not watch any for two weeks.

Update on Me: A few weeks ago I decided it was about time for me to start reading again.  I ended up reading a book that my friend Katharine had given me several years ago.  She said I would like it then and it ended up sitting on my bookshelf all this time.  How I wish I had read it when she gave it to me!! My entire perspective on life has been altered as a result of reading this book. It helped me gain an eternal perspective on just about everything. The book is titled, "Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss.   Now I'm reading "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper, and a small book titled "Grieving: Your Path Back to Peace" by James White.  I also just started reading a collection book of Sherlock Holmes stories.

I'm sure there are a zillion other things I could cover but that's just the basic idea of what our life is like right now.  I thank God for allowing such a wonderful life for us right now.  I have so much to learn and so much to teach my kids! God is so merciful for allowing me to be a wife and mother full time.  I am so grateful for His faithfulness and His love.  Without Christ, I am nothing.  All that I have and all that I am is because of Christ!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Birthday Week

This very well may be the first time that I have had nothing to do in at least two months.   Granted, there are things I could be doing... but after spending 2 hours trying to clean the kitchen, making lunch and dirtying the kitchen again, and trying to clean it up all over again... I'm ready to sit down and think about something else for a while.

I realized when I sat down that there really is nothing that I need to be doing right now.   Avery is napping and Zoe is playing quietly.

The past two months have been so busy.  Fun, but busy!  In fact, the past 7 months have been busy.  Spring and Summer are our far less busy seasons! :)

Once our Anniversary gets here in September I pretty much know that I am going to be super busy until mid-March.  Fall activities, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday/December Posting on the Shaina's Deals website, Christmas, Mine and Gage's birthdays,  Avery's birthday (and this year, a 3 week trip to CA in February), and then we end the busy season with Zoe's birthday in March.  We get a good break between April and August.

I don't mind this type of busy though.  I love it.  These are the days that I will miss the most when I'm old!

There are times where it can get pretty stressful but for the most part I am loving every moment.  Even when things are hard.  My favorite pastime is coming up with fun things to do with and for my family.  I want to make these years memorable and I want my girls to learn as much as they can about giving and gratitude.

I love to provide my girls with a special week each year to do the things that they would like to do. This week is Zoe's "Birthday Week".  We've picked out small gifts and activities for her to enjoy throughout the week. We decorated our dining room (this year her theme she chose was of course, My Little Pony) and it will remain decorated until her birthday party on the 15th. She picked the menu for the whole week and I plan to take her out for a couple surprise treats as well!

We don't usually buy toys for the kids unless it is Christmas or their Birthdays so I'm always excited for these times that I can treat them to some extra goodies!

Taking time out to celebrate their birthdays for a whole week is awesome for several reasons:

1. They appreciate each gift far more than they would if they were given them all at the same time (like Christmas.)
2. If there is anything I've learned from the past 9 years it is that life is short.  It's so, so short.  Every day should be celebrated.  Birthdays are the celebration of another year that God has blessed you with.  Birthdays should be celebrated to the extreme, especially when you're a kid and birthdays are all such a "big deal" ;-)
3. It's a wonderful way for me to let them know that I pay attention to their needs and also to their desires. Even when it doesn't seem like it, I am paying close attention to them when they say, "I love this meal" or "This is my favorite candy" or "I don't really like this scratchy dress" or "This headband hurts my head."  One of my favorite things to hear from Zoe is, "How did you know I would like this??"  I know, because I listen and I watch you closely, just as Christ does.
4. It's also a great way to help them build character. There are so many opportunities to teach character qualities during this week!  I care deeply about the condition of each of my daughters' hearts.  Each day of the week is a new day to easily teach gratitude/thankfulness.
5. When the Birthday Week is someone else's in the family, it makes it easy for me to teach the importance of giving and serving others.

It's Not Because They Deserve It

I don't spend the whole week celebrating their birthday because I think they deserve to have a good time on their birthday.  I firmly believe that none of us deserve anything. We are sinners, we do so many shameful things every day yet God gives us grace and he continues to love us.  It's the same with my kids.  They are not perfect children, they sin every day, they disobey me, and they even hurt my feelings at times, but... I love them and I want to teach them. I want to disciple them. I love them more than words can even express.  If I love these kids this much I can't even begin to fathom the love that God has for me! He shows me so much grace each and every day and that is exactly what I want to do for my girls.

He has blessed us, and so we bless our kids.  When I say "bless" I am not talking about the material items that they will no doubt acquire around their birthday.  It's not about the "stuff". Yes, they will get some "stuff", but it's not about the gifts that they get or even the experiences they have during their birthday, it's about teaching attentiveness, showing grace, and encouraging gratitude.  The gifts and joyous experiences are just the icing on the cake ;-) That pun wasn't actually intended, but I'll leave it there because it's awesome.

If you know me at all you probably know how much I love to give gifts! I thrive on the challenge of trying to come up with a gift or an activity or something (anything) that will make a person smile.  I pray that my daughters will have the same love of giving in all circumstances (not only at Christmas or on someone's birthday).  Whether they are giving a gift to a friend, tithing, or giving to the homeless or just someone in need, I want them to do it all without hesitation and with excitement, and all for the glory of God.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014: The only year I can say I'm 29 and have it be true! ;-)

You have to admit, the blizzard today created some pretty amazingly beautiful scenes around town.  It seriously looked like a scene out of Frozen! There was so much blowing snow that we couldn't see our neighbors house!

Despite the crazy blizzard, today was a great birthday!

We went to my favorite breakfast place for "brunch" - Bagel Boy.  It took us a long time to get there and leaving was also a bit of an adventure but while we were there we ate with Gage on his lunch break, and Jenny and Brad joined us too.

The rest of  the afternoon was spent just relaxing at home in our nice WARM house!

Avery was over the top cute today, which was awesome.  She said her second official word, "Tickle". She does say a couple other things on occasion (like, "Go") but I'm not entirely sure she knows what that means. She definitely understands tickle though! She tried to tickle me yesterday and made an attempt at saying it but today was the first time she said it clearly. She's teething right now so she's been pretty cranky the past week or so but today wasn't *too* bad in comparison to other days.   :-)

After Gage returned home we met up with family at Olive Garden to celebrate my birthday.  Grandpa, Grandma, Jenny, Mike, Brad, Ashley, Brandon, and Ariah (sp?) were there.  I love Olive Garden.... I'm totally obsessed with their salads.  Tonight I also tried one of their raspberry Italian sodas.  Wow. So good!

Best photo EVER taken of us! 

Today was the best 29th birthday I've ever had ;-)

In honor of today's beautiful blizzard, here is one of our favorite songs from Disney's Frozen! I cannot wait to buy this movie! Seriously, best Disney movie since The Lion King...which was 20 years ago.  Yes, 20 years. Let that sink in.  I bet if you weren't feeling old before, you are now.  Haha.

Monday, January 6, 2014

30 Before 30

30 Before 30

  1. Improve my understanding of why God has me here and improve my eternal perspective on life.
  2. Do something (or many things) to spread the Gospel of Christ.
  3. Focus on improving our marriage (as we should always be doing).
  4. Learn how to clean everything in my house properly.
  5. Read Bible from start to finish.
  6. Figure out more ways to show my girls that I adore them.
  7. Get everything in order / purchase studio equipment so that in late 2015 I can re-start my photo business.
  8. Spend quality time with all of my Grandparents.
  9. Road trip to a few states I haven't yet been to!
  10. Get in the habit of mailing cards and gifts to family members on their birthdays and anniversaries.
  11. Spend a full weekend with Amanda and Shannon
  12. Spend more time with my Dad.
  13. Host a party at our home that isn't a birthday party.
  14. Complete all of my photo projects that I have planned. I have so many!
  15. Find a good friend in Sioux Falls that likes to go out for coffee every once in a while.
  16. Learn how to dress. Put at least some effort into my style.
  17. Start cooking soups, make homemade tortillas, and bake bread.
  18. Create a super organized filing system.
  19. Go back to Hawaii.
  20. Run a half marathon or at least a 5k
  21. Lose 20 Lbs and work on my upper body strength because... I have none. I can't even do a "girls" push up.
  22. Figure out some sort of exercise routine again (other than running).
  23. More water, tea, and coffee vs soda.
  24. Get more sleep!
  25. Laugh more, worry less.
  26. Look back on my first 30 years.  Create a special book of photos and favorite memories. Things I've learned. Things to pass on to my girls.
  27. I want to be able to sew something without any help.
  28. Get better so that I can have another baby.
  29. Get amazing family portraits taken! Preferably in Oceanside.
  30. Make some progress on learning how to play guitar!

I have one year and 10 days to complete these things.


Finding Joy in the Winter Months

For our family, this time of year is full of two things: celebrations and a slightly overwhelming sense of cabin fever. Both Gage and I cel...