ezra and wisdom

Up until now, I have avoided posting my child’s name on my blog, but now I feel it’s time to share. My precious two-year-old’s name is Ezra and it came from the Bible. I didn’t like it when my husband first suggested it, but it’s been the perfect name for him and everyone says it’s so pretty and uncommon. We’ve picked out another uncommon boy name for #2 (if it’s a boy), but I’ll wait and share that when this baby shows up. We have a girl’s name picked out as well – Charlotte. That’s what I had picked the first go round, convinced that my baby was a girl. I was wrong, so I kept it for #2 just in case. Anyway, I digress.

The other day, Ezra insisted on wearing his dog toboggan backward, with his boots and undies in the rain. He claimed the hat would keep his head from getting wet. Smart kid, eh?

The other day, Ezra insisted on wearing his dog toboggan backward, with his boots and undies in the rain. He claimed the hat would keep his head from getting wet. Smart kid, eh?

Our little Ezra has been such a blessing these past 29 months. Even in the throws of “terrible twos”, he’s not terrible at all. He’s sweet, loving, energetic, healthy, funny, talkative…We just can’t believe how blessed we are (“we” being my husband and I). Our other family members feel the same way.

I was thinking of some of the funny/interesting stuff he’s done here lately and wanted to share:

  • He’s been mesmerized by the poison oak all over my arm and the other day I said, “It’s awful.” Now, every time he sees the remainder of the rash (which thankfully is going away now), he says, “It’s awful.”
  • Last night, I went to check on him before I went to bed and I always creep into his room in the dark and feel around in his bed until I find him. I grabbed something I wasn’t expecting – a naked butt! He had removed his diaper and was sound asleep on his belly. Thankfully, he hadn’t wet the bed, so I was able to diaper him up without waking him (a skill we learned when he was around one).
  • Speaking of potty training, he’s not there yet, but I’m not pushy about it. I figure it will happen when he’s ready, but we’ve been encouraging him to go outside since it’s nice and warm. The other day, he actually went twice outside in a row (no accidents in between), then he actually performed a #2 while standing in the yard! I hadn’t encouraged and wasn’t expecting that one, but it made me laugh so hard. We’re just standing there and I hear this “thud” and there’s a nice little present on the ground. It was a hoot.
  • Yesterday, he scared us to death when he almost ran his battery powered tractor over the bank. Thank God (literally) that this stump stopped him or we would have had a mess on our hands. Needless to say, we’re making some changes as far as that tractor is concerned.
  • This morning, I went to lay with him when he was waking up and one of the first things he said was, “I want to feel the baby move.” That was very sweet, because he really hasn’t shown much interest up to this point.

I could go on and on about my kid, but who couldn’t? Each parent is so amused and in love with their child…it’s just something hard to explain.

Last night, I picked up my Bible and read a little in Ezra. My favorite verse thus far was 7:10 “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” I think I’m going to frame that and hang in his bedroom as his life motto. I think it’s befitting.

On the subject of wisdom, that’s what our Sunday school lesson was about this morning. I actually got to teach the ladies’ class, which I haven’t done in some time. The verses were Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:5-7 and the point was “God will give me wisdom when I humbly seek it.” Notice the last part of that conditional statement that I bolded – we have to humbly seek it.

I liked this lesson today because I feel like I need and desire more Godly wisdom in my life. Knowledge is easy to obtain, but wisdom comes from God alone. I asked God for His wisdom recently in something that I just didn’t have the mental energy for and He’s really helping me out. However, I can’t be lazy and make Him do all the work. I still have to put some effort into it.

One of the challenges in the lesson is to seek God’s wisdom by reading one chapter of Proverbs every day in the month of July – there are 31 chapters and 31 days. I asked my husband if we could do that together and he agreed, so we’ll start tonight. I figure we need a jump start since we’ll probably get off track a few days in July with this new baby arriving. I look forward to what God is going to reveal during this exciting, yet challenging time in our lives. I’ve not yet read this article, but it’s a suggested reading in the Sunday school book that I hope to get to soon – http://blog.lifeway.com/biblestudiesforlife/stripping-the-veneer/.

This week, spend some time in God’s word and see what wisdom you find…

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recent photos & a bad case of poison oak

I caught some neat shots lately of random things that I thought I would share. And I’m eaten up with poison oak – the worst case I’ve had in about 3 years. I honestly think my son gave it to me, but he doesn’t have a spot on him, thankfully. Anyhoo, I’ve tried everything…Benadryl gel, calamine lotion, Appalachian Secret, Dawn dish liquid (including taking the rough side of a sponge and scrubbing – painful and didn’t work), and finally jewel weed soap. I had my regular OB appointment today (37 weeks come Thursday) and she wrote me a prescription for steroid pills and cream. That should do the trick, I think. I have it on my arms, fingers, chest, stomach, legs, and even eye lids!

OB says all is well with me and baby so I go back in a week. Won’t be long before baby arrives! The heart beat was around 140, so what do you think about the gender?

how i eat

I went through the drive through this morning and got a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for my “second breakfast” (my first breakfast was about 5:30 am and I was hungry). This was due to lack of planning on my part, which is always when I seem to have issues eating well. While I was munching on my biscuit, I thought I might like to share how (or maybe “what”) I eat.

Honestly, I feel like I eat well 80% of the time. I try to eat fresh veggies and other healthful foods most of the time, but there are occasions when I fail to plan and I end up eating something I’m not too happy about. I have found that if I keep healthy snacks on hand (fruit, nuts, yogurt, etc.) then I don’t eat much vending machine stuff or fast food. Also, I have to plan the day before what I’m going to eat for lunch (when I’m working) or I can get myself into trouble.

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it’s important for me to maintain my weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just like it and I feel better when I do. I’m also trying to set a good example for my son (and future child).

Here’s a sample of what my meals may consist of when I’m behaving myself…

Breakfasts:

  • Burrito – scrambled eggs, salsa, dollop sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado
  • English muffin with egg & cheese
  • Yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, and granola
  • Scrambled or fried (olive oil) eggs with toast

Lunch:

  • Supper leftovers (most common)
  • Salad (I normally grab a bag of the Very Veggie or Romaine mix then dress it up with whatever I have – sometimes just olives, cheese, and oil & vinegar)
  • Homemade sandwich from this local Amish bread store (using their wheat bread – yum!)
  • Can of Progresso soup (one of the vegetable kinds like Minestrone)

Supper

  • Last night it was yellow eyed beans (cooked in the crock pot with olive oil), corn on the cob, watermelon, and macaroni & cheese
  • Simple spaghetti (wheat pasta & a jar of Bertoli or Classico sauce) with a veggie or salad
  • One of the other recipes I’ve posted about in the past

Snacks

  • Apple (my favorites are Pink Lady and Honeycrisp) and yogurt
  • Yogurt, fruit, and granola
  • Almonds

Like I said, I feel like I do well 80% of the time. Here’s what the other 20% may consist of…

Breakfast

  • Cinnamon rolls (from a can) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Pancakes (I try to make mine from scratch now so they’re not full of preservatives) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Breakfast pizza
  • French toast with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage

Lunch

  • Pizza (I absolutely LOVE plain old cheese pizza!)
  • BBQ sandwich and fries from the drive through
  • Hot ham and cheese from Hardee’s

Supper

  • Tombstone cheese pizza & fries
  • Stuffed manicotti (I may actually make this tonight…)
  • Take out pizza
  • Sloppy Joe and fries

Snacks

  • “Nabs” (crackers) from the vending machine
  • Snickers or Milky Way
  • Ice cream (this has been my weakness during this pregnancy)

I really try to limit the junk, but I’m human!

From my experience, these are the things that help me eat my best:

  • Take some time before you head to the grocery store and pick a few healthy recipes for the week. They don’t have to be new, but allrecipes.com is a great source!
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Also, try to avoid the middle isles of the grocery store where most of the packaged/processed products are.
  • Start in the produce section and try to fill your cart at least 1/4 to 1/2 full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry…ever! Always eat a snack before you enter the store.
  • Buy organic or local when you can…it can be expensive, but it can be more economical than you would expect.
  • PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try to think a day ahead of what you’re going to eat the next day. Or at least a meal ahead so you can prepare.
  • If you work, pack your food the day before or take a week’s worth of snacks to work with you if you have a fridge. Then, you won’t be tempted by things you’re not supposed to have!
  • Watch the weight scales or your clothes for signs that you’re veering off track.
  • Keep a food journal and write down what you honestly consume in a day. There are lots of great apps for smart phones that make this easier.
  • Grow a garden and/or visit the local farmer’s market.

Some final closing thoughts today that were forwarded to me via email just this morning…

  • Researchers estimate that every day 16,000 to 24,000 children die from hunger related causes. In 2004 almost one billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day. These impoverished people struggle daily with malnourishment and hunger, and the majority live in what has been called the “developing” world. This developing world has six times the population as the 57 or so countries that comprise the “developed” world.(1)
  • In the United States, by contrast, over two-thirds of the population are overweight and almost one-third is considered obese according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2001-2004.(2)  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control shows a steady increase in the number of obese persons in the United States in their data compiled from 1985-2006.(3) Living with an over-abundance, we are barraged by diet fads and quick-fix strategies to shed extra pounds. Despite all the effort to promote healthy eating and lifestyles, the fact remains that in 22 different states 25 to 30 percent of the populations are considered obese.(4)

(1) Statistics from Bread for the World, http://www.bread.org and the World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org.
(2) Statistics from the Weight Control Information Network http://www.niddk.nih.gov.
(3) Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov.
(4) Ibid.

After I read the email, it really made me think (again) how blessed I am. I thank God before each meal for the food He has provided. That’s another healthy habit – being grateful for your food!

squash blossoms & new recipes to try

My garden is coming along so well! I told my dad I had blooming squash or cucumbers (I didn’t label what I planted like a good gardener would), so he told me a yellow-orange blossom is probably squash. I couldn’t remember which was in that row (yellow or zucchini), but he told me to look behind the blossom and I should see the squash. Isn’t he a smart man? It’s my very first ever zucchini from my very first ever garden!!!

IMG_6931

Right now, it’s only about 3 or 4 inches long, but I bet it will be ripe for the picking in no time. I’m kind of excited about having a bunch of zucchini because I like to eat it. Plus, I found a neat Blueberry Zucchini Bread recipe I’d like to try.

Check out the other things I have coming up in my garden…

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Not pictured: watermelon and cantaloupe, but they’re still pretty small.

I have been on a kick trying new recipes and thought I would share a few with you:

  • Overnight Blueberry French Toast – made this for my Father’s Day breakfast in addition to the breakfast pizza I’ve made before. It was delicious! I made 1/2 the recipe and we had enough to eat again this morning.
  • Lemon Lime Avocado Pie – this was the easiest, coolest recipe! You just put all the stuff in the blender and then pour in a graham cracker pie crust. I thought it was very tasty and I felt less guilty for eating it thanks to the avocado! And it’s GREEN, let me tell you. It would be perfect for St. Patty’s Day. I finished it off today and it wasn’t as bright green, but it wasn’t brown either.
  • Quinoa Salad – I made this for my mom today when she came out to visit. She’s somewhat vegan and we both really liked it. This recipe isn’t the exact same as what I used, but I can’t find the one I had online. My version just has quinoa, cherry tomatoes, corn, edamame, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I had planned to make up my freezer meals today for when baby arrives, but I’m going to take a little nap first (while the toddler naps). If the feeling hits, I’ll get to it in a little bit. I bought all the stuff Saturday, so I really need to get with it, huh?

Before I go, I must share a beautiful shot of my  husband and son from Father’s Day. The both looked so handsome ready for church and I caught this picture while they were walking through the yard going to the car. My son had picked some weed and was telling his dad all about it. I love these two fellows so much!

My husband and his "mini me". Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

My husband and his “mini me”. Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

our golden corral experience

I’m sitting on my couch at 1:30 am blogging while the darn cat that woke me up an hour ago is snoozing beside me. Since I can’t sleep, I thought I’d blog about our Golden Corral dining experience this evening. I can hear my cousin Jennifer laughing as she reads this – she has two kids and has surely gone through something like this in her past. This one’s for you, Jen!

Golden-Corral

Earlier this week, my wonderful husband (Happy Father’s Day!) saw a commercial about endless ribs at Golden Corral on television. Ever since, he’s been harassing me about going to eat there. It finally happened yesterday evening. It had been a busy day and I told him we could do whatever he wanted for dinner. Right before we left, he tried to change plans and stick around the house to go fishing or just play outside, but I insisted that we go ahead and go since he’s been thinking about it all week.

The parking lot was full when we pulled in and there was a cloud of smoke around the front entrance from all the nicotine dependent diners who aren’t allowed to smoke inside (thank goodness). After making our way through the smoke, we stepped inside and I knew right then that this is not where we should be. Our son decided he wanted to stop and play with the little retractable strap that blocks off the maze leading up to the register. My husband’s comment: “You have to pay before you eat?” It’s been a long time since we’ve been to a place that doesn’t come to your table to take your order. Either way, we should have turned around and left when the total for two adult buffets (kids under 3 eat FREE!) was $30. I could see the look on my sidekick’s face…we were both thinking “We could have had Ruby Tuesday for $40!” But, we didn’t leave – we just took our tray and shuffled to a table, wiggling our way through the swarm of hungry folks.

I went to the buffet first, fixing our son a plate of strawberries, carrots, pizza, and macaroni & cheese. The sheer amount of people waiting to fix their plates was incredible. When I got back to the table, I told my husband to go on and get his food. I explained how there were two stations where you could pick up plates, etc. My son actually started eating his strawberries after he successfully pulled all the green tops off of them. I thought, “This might not turn out so bad after all.” Heh.

Husband comes back with a plateful of buffet food and I head to get my own. By the time I get back, our son is in a different chair and my husband is trying to get him to eat. Dining out with a two-year-old is a job (can I get an amen?). I sit down and attempt to eat my food (black eyed peas, pinto beans, mac and cheese, carrots, meatloaf, green beans, Mexican corn bread…yum) when our son decides he wants to go back and forth under the table. The objects on the table are amazing to him – the salt shaker, hot sauce, steak sauce, milk cup, etc. I’m eating with my left hand and telling him “You need to sit still and eat. Eat your strawberries. Eat a bite of pizza.” Of course, I had to throw in “If you sit still and eat your food, you can have an ice cream cone.” That worked for about 30 seconds.

My dear partner goes back for a bit more food and I know we’re in trouble when I see him stop at the dessert bar. I meant to tell him not to bring anything sweet to the table until after our son finished his food. I knew what it would be. The dessert? A pretty piece of chocolate cake.

After about two minutes at the table, our son finally sees the cake.

“I want cake,” he says.

“You can’t have cake until after you eat your strawberries and pizza,” I quickly reply.

Then, it’s the classic game of keep away. He crawls under the table to his dad’s side, and I put the cake on my side. Then, he crawls to my side and I put the cake on dad’s side of the table. After about 5 rounds of this, Husband says, “Can we just go?” I’ve been ready since we got there.

Son is not happy that we’re leaving without the cake and of course, I try to reason with a two year old why you can’t have cake until after you eat your “real food”. For the first several minutes in the car (Husband decides we need to immediately come home and I don’t argue), it’s an awful silence. Then, son starts saying, “Where dat cake?” repeatedly. Finally, we can’t do anything but laugh about it. If you don’t laugh, sometimes you think you might go berzerk. Husband remarks how the experience was something like the Griswalds and Duck Dynasty.

After we went to bed, my husband and I laughed and talked about being parents. We questioned if we’re doing something wrong by expecting our son to understand he has to eat his dinner before he gets dessert. We laughed about how redneck Golden Corral is and how we’ll never step foot in one again. We talked about how freaking expensive it was to eat there and how we could have gone to tons of other places with better food and atmosphere. I remarked about how quickly these toddler years will be over and how we’re going to miss these crazy things.

With all this being said, I must end on a positive note, because this blog is “Because Nice Matters”, of course. I thought about the “bright side” of the situation and here’s what I came up with:

  • We made it to and from the restaurant safe and sound.
  • I’m thankful we actually make enough money to go out to eat on a fairly regular basis (once a week or so).
  • None of us have experienced food poisoning from the buffet (yet).
  • Looking back, we can laugh about it.

It’s nearly 2 am and we’re having the in laws up for Father’s Day breakfast. I need to get my booty in the bed so I can be a good hostess and make it through the day. First, I must have a snack, though. My $15 buffet meal has worn off…

great story from reader’s digest

I actually had a chance to sit down and read some of “Reader’s Digest” last week and I found a very sweet and inspiring article, which I’ve shared below. Also, I ran across something very interesting! There was a two page spread where people ended a quote that was posted on Facebook. I believe the quote was something like “Maybe I should…” and I read one quote that said something along the lines of “…accept that I will be healed from my car accident in God’s time, not mine.” I looked and it was my cousin Autumn! She’d been in a terrible accident last year and is still recovering to my knowledge. It was just really strange to see a quote from your own kin in such a big publication.

Either way, here’s the touching story I read that I wanted to share. I hope my son has great teachers like this one…

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Bullying

Here’s how one schoolteacher takes time each week to look out for the lonely.

By Glennon Doyle Melton
Also published in Reader’s Digest Magazine June 2014

A few weeks ago, I went into my son Chase’s class for 
tutoring. I’d e-mailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home 
is math—but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She 
e-mailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.”

And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth-grade classroom while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily for me, I didn’t 
have to unlearn much because I’d never really understood 
the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but I could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously 
we have a whole lot in common.

Afterward, we sat for a few minutes and talked about 
teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility 
it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are not the most important things that are learned in a classroom. 
We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community—and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals 
who are kind and brave above all.

And then she told me this.

Every Friday afternoon, she asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student who they believe has been an 
exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, she takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her, and studies them. 
She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to 
request?

Who never gets noticed enough 
to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed 
by their peers. And she’s pinning down—right away—who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children, I think this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever 
encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see 
beneath the surface 
of things and into the hearts of students. 
It is like mining for gold—the gold being those children who need a little help, who need adults to step in and teach them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to 
join a group, or how to share their gifts. And it’s a bully deterrent 
because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside her eyeshot and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But, as she said, the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets 
of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained 
this simple, ingenious idea, I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine. Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched 
Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed may eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often in the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher 
is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it.

And what this mathematician 
has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything—even love, even 
belonging—has a pattern to it. She finds the patterns, and through those lists she breaks the codes of disconnection. Then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s math.

All is love—even math. Amazing.

Chase’s teacher retires this year. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day, and 
altering the trajectory of our world.

Glennon Doyle Melton writes the popular blog momastery.com and is the author of Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life.

Read more: http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/stop-bullying-strategy/#ixzz34WbsBiVa

purple and teal open house baby shower

My families threw us a baby shower on Saturday and boy, do I feel blessed! It never ceases to amaze me the generosity of friends, family, and church members when there’s a wedding or new baby. They just give, give, give! We got so many nice things, including lots of diapers and wipes which we asked for. Like with our first baby, we’ve decided not to find out the gender until the baby arrives in mid-July, but we still got lots of girl stuff. There are lots of folks hoping this second child is a girl…

I had seen an article in Southern Living Magazine about a purple and teal party and fell in love, so that was our theme. I wanted to have the shower at our new house since we’ve only been here about 3 months and not many people have had a chance to come see it. My mom made a cake and my mother in law had special little chocolates made. Then, the best part of all is my sister from Tennessee showed up and surprised us! Well, I say “surprised.” It was strange, because the day before the shower, I had this gut feeling that she was going to be there for some reason. She’s a terrible sneak and never gets away with anything. 🙂

When you’re showered with love and gifts like we were on Saturday, you just scratch your head and wonder what in the world you did to deserve so many blessings. I still don’t feel like we deserve anything good we get, but I’m terribly happy that so many people love and care for us.

Enjoy some pictures from the party!