Christmas in pictures

I had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did, too. I don’t feel like writing about it, so I thought I would share a few of the bazillion photos I took this week. We are in the middle of boxing up and moving, so that’s taking most of my energy. Before long, we’ll be staying in a temporary 1950’s “bungalow” until our new home is ready. Exciting and exhausting times (especially when you’re 11 weeks preggo!).

My dad came over today to clean the chimney at the temporary house and found it’s full of HONEY! The honey bees have clogged up the darn thing, so they’re going to have to take it apart and clean it out. Who would’ve thunk that would happen? Dad’s hoping he’ll get all kinds of good honey out to eat.

So, without further ado, here’s my photo gallery. Time for a nap!

quiet Christmas morning

I’m sitting here in my living room enjoying the calm before the storm. It’s a little after 6 am and I’ve been up for about an hour (thanks to my husband needing a bathroom break). I’m blaming it on my pregnancy hormones. Once I’m awake in the mornings, it’s hard to go back to sleep. When I’m not pregnant, I don’t seem to have that issue. Anyway, I’m glad I woke up early, because I had time to read a little bit of the upcoming Sunday school lesson for the week and say a good long Christmas prayer. I don’t have quiet time with God nearly enough, so it was a blessing waking up early.

This morning, I gave thanks for all the many blessings God has given me and my family. I’m amazed at all the gifts my son has received for Christmas and what we’re able to provide for him on the money we make. I prayed for my friends and family, that they would be blessed throughout the coming year. I prayed that this unborn, 10 week old baby in my belly would be healthy and all would go well. I asked prayer for those mentioned in church Sunday, for there were many. I requested to be made more whole each day so people will see Jesus through me and know Him better.

Our upcoming Sunday school lesson is “Sin is no longer your master; Christ is.” and the scripture is coming from Romans 6:8-18. There was one point that really spoke to me this morning and it came from Augustine, a 4th-5th century theologian. He pointed out that after salvation, humans are “able not to sin.” This is the exact text from the Sunday school book that I liked so much…”Do Christians still sin? Yes. But now, we have the ability to overcome sin and to grow in righteousness – the life we live to God! We do not have to give in. As we mature spiritually, we will sin less and less. And in the process, we will show the world our life-changing God.” Now, isn’t that promising? I got a kick out of the “key word” they focused on this week. It is “reckon”. Now, around here, we say “I reckon it’s time to go to bed” (or anything else we think we best do). Their definition is “an imperative that may also mean to be of opinion, to believe.” See, we hick people aren’t as uneducated as you make us out to be! 😉

It won’t be long and my son will be waking up for the day. He’s not quite two and he actually may surprise us by sleeping in a bit later since he went to bed a bit late last night. We had a family dinner at 6 pm yesterday and didn’t get home until his bed time. I’ll just say he was over stimulated by all the gifts, people, and food (I guess there were 40 or more people there) and it was a tearful winding down. He just had so much to play with that he was overwhelmed, poor kid. But, I’m excited about him getting up this morning to Santa’s gift. I’m especially excited about this tent we got him! One thing that’s not in the picture is one of our dogs, Cujo. I totally forgot my husband let him in last night and it took me a few minutes to realize he was out cold on the couch.

It's kind of dark, but this is what my living room looks like this morning.

It’s kind of dark, but this is what my living room looks like this morning.

My stomach is growling…I put this great breakfast dish in the slow cooker last night since my mom and her husband are coming over for breakfast. Who wants to cook on Christmas morning? They are bringing his really good gravy and I’m popping canned biscuits into the oven when they arrive. I might have to have an appetizer since I’m up so early. 🙂

I hope you have a very, merry Christmas full of family, love, and peace. Know that the best gift of all was given to us many, many years ago as a tiny baby boy. The baby that would give us all the hope of eternity in heaven. Blessings to you and yours.

’tis the season

Yep, I’ve been off the grid a few days. It was a busy weekend, full of good holiday fun. My son was in his first Christmas program at church, which was sweet. He was supposed to be a shepherd, but he refused to wear the costume, so he was a donkey instead. He wouldn’t get on stage until someone gave him a jingle bell to shake. I haven’t had a chance to see if I have any pictures (I was on stage singing), but if there’s a good one, I will share.

Yesterday, I went with my pal to Charlotte, NC and had my first IKEA experience! How fun and exhausting! I think we were there over three hours looking at EVERYTHING. I picked up some cool Christmas gifts, but nothing for the house yet. We still have a couple/few months before we get to move in and I don’t want to have to store things or move them. Moving the stuff we have will be bad enough. But, I did have a great time looking and got lots of neat ideas. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner (also another first time experience) and it was yummy. Our last stops were Pier 1, Target, and World Market. Then we dragged our tired butts home. I haven’t been out past 10:30 in forever!

This weekend, we’re going to see a group called the Red Head Express and I think that will be fun. I’m hoping I can talk my hubby into joining us and we can take our son. I think he (the son) would have a fun time listening to music and dancing his little toddler shuffle. 🙂

I got the VERY LAST easel they had for sale for just $10!

I got the VERY LAST easel they had for sale for just $10!

I also got him this cool little tent. Won't it be neat to wake up to that Christmas morning?!

I also got him this cool little tent. Won’t it be neat to wake up to that Christmas morning?!


romans 5:19

“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” ~Romans 5:19 (NIV)

I read that scripture in a devotional the other night and it really spoke to me. It’s funny, because today it’s not as profound as it was, but it really moved me just a couple of days ago. All of us mess up in life, but one (Jesus) obeyed and saved us all. Now, how great is that?!

Last night, we went to church and practiced our little Christmas program that will take place this Sunday. It’s just a short program involving all the little kids (I think there’s about 8 of them) and a couple of us adults. It’s so precious to watch them pretend to be angels, Mary, Joseph, and shepherds. My son was supposed to be a shepherd, but he refused to wear his costume, so he’s going to be a donkey. We’re re-purposing his Halloween costume! I hope to have a picture or video to share with you guys after the weekend.

What kind of activities is your family into this holiday season? I hope they focus on the real reason for the season.


i’m expecting!

“Expecting what?” you ask. Why, another baby, of course! 🙂 I found out for sure on Monday when I went to the doctor for a pregnancy test, but I pretty much knew a week or two ago. We’re due July 16 and I’m about 7 weeks along. I hope this pregnancy goes as smoothly as my first one did. I wasn’t sick at all and the only complication I had was gestational diabetes, but I controlled that through diet and exercise.

So, we’re excited about adding another child to our family. Our son will be about 2.5 years old when this new baby arrives and I hope it’s not too hard for him to adapt. He’s the only grandchild on either side of the family that lives close to his grandparents, so he’s used to getting all the attention. But, I’m sure he’ll do just fine. Or, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself!

I made our son a shirt to wear on Thanksgiving to announce our news. My husband wanted me to put “BIG BRO 2 BE” but I didn’t have enough “Bs” for that. So, it ended up being “LIL BRO OR SIS IN JULY”. It went over well.

I feel like a bum this week, though! I’ve eaten well and not exercised very much. I was working out of town a couple of days taking a lifeguard instructor class, so I didn’t make time to workout. This week, I gotta get back at it big time. Thankfully, I’m teaching spin on Tuesday morning, so I just have to figure out workouts for Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll be out of town this weekend with my mom and son visiting some family, so I’m not sure how much exercise I will get then. I’m glad I’ve found some workouts I can do in my yard or in the house. It’s nice and sunny and warm today (maybe 50?) so I jogged/walked around our field then did some lunges, squats, triceps dips, push ups, planks, etc. I feel much better after the fresh air and exertion!

Maybe I can get back to blogging regularly. The holidays are a hard time to find time, eh?!

My son playing on Thanksgiving Day in his big bro shirt.

My son playing on Thanksgiving Day in his big bro shirt.

mandy’s top 10 ways to live on what ya got

I had a young lady tell me today that she wants to make more money. When I say “young lady”, I mean a gal that’s about 10 years younger than me. I’m not old (31), but I’m not a young lady anymore, either.

So, our conversation went back and forth. I guess I’m really a mom now, because I told her that the more you make, the more you spend and so on, and so forth. It got me to thinking (while I was peeling apples for my last round of apple butter) about the lessons I’ve learned in my adult life about managing money. I’m not rich by any means, but I’ve learned to live with what I have.

When I changed jobs about a year ago, I took about an $8,000 pay cut. Ain’t that crazy? I was stressing wondering how I would ever make it on that much money, but I figured less gas (I cut my commute by about 60%) and brown bagging my lunch (I used to spend $10-$12 a day on lunch out!) would make up for most of that. And, I knew the good Lord would provide.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 ways to live on what ya got, to matter how much money you make:

  1. Pay your tithes: If you are a God believing Christian, it’s your duty to pay your tithes (10% of what you make). If it weren’t for God, we wouldn’t have a single thing to our name and he expects us to give back. So, give back 10% of what you make to your Father. You will never have a need. Now, I’m not saying you will get all your WANTS, but your needs will be met. I have seen this happen time and time again. I’m glad my momma taught me this important life lesson.
  2. Create a budget: This one is a no brainer, but it’s dang hard! I really don’t have a full blown budget, but what I do is write down all my pay days and write what bills I have to pay with that check. I got in a bunch of financial stress years ago by NOT doing this, so this actually works. After I pay my bills, then I look at what I have left and know that’s my grocery and gas money, plus anything else I need/want.
  3. Put money in savings AUTOMATICALLY: Earlier this year, I set up an auto transfer from my checking to savings account, which occurs the Monday after each payday Friday. I really try not to touch that money in savings, but if times are tight or I have an unexpected expense, then I dip into that before adding to credit card debt. If you do it automatically, you don’t realize it’s missing.
  4. Save $1000 for a rainy day: I learned that from reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” book. Thankfully, my cousin sent me that years ago and it was a lifesaver. I have managed to keep $1000 in savings for several years now. I may not be much more than that, but it’s there if I need it for some unknown emergency. And, it doesn’t take as long as you would think to save that much if you put your mind to it. AND, once you save it, it’s so darn hard to let it get below $1000…you feel so guilty!
  5. Buy clothes used: Up until this year, I thought I was too good for thrift stores, consignments, or Goodwill. But, when I bought a pair of new Levi jeans at Belk in the spring for $40, it made me sick! Since then, I have found Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor jeans at second hand stores in wonderful shape for no more than $5 a pair. I feel SO much better about that and no one has to know I didn’t buy them new for 10 times as much.
  6. Make dining out a treat: We normally go out to eat about once a week as a family or couple and I will eat lunch out about once a week. Otherwise, we eat our meals at home and I pack my lunch. A can of soup and a peanut butter sandwich can be a satisfying lunch over a good book or magazine (or talking with a friend). I have grown to love cooking since I started working less hours. It’s actually fun and healthier (see #11) and you can eat well on a budget. One tip: eat less meat. Meat is so expensive and isn’t that fantastic for you. Invest some of your meat money into fruits and vegetables!

    My husband and son at Ruby Tuesday last Christmas after seeing Santa.

    My husband and son at Ruby Tuesday last Christmas after seeing Santa.

  7. Use coupons: I’m not one of those maniacs that have a binder full of 1,000 coupons (not to say I won’t be before my life ends), but I DO cut out coupons for things I buy like toothpaste, diapers, baby food, etc. I don’t cut out coupons for things I don’t need or that are too expensive. Just stick with the basics. And sign up for online coupon for dining out. I get Ruby Tuesday coupons all the time. The other night, my husband, son and I went out to eat there and we got out for like $25! I had a coupon for a free flat bread with any adult entree purchase, so I ate that while the husband had his customary ribs. That saved us probably $10 or more.
  8. Pay off your vehicle loan and keep it…and take care of it: I paid off my car last July after a SIX year auto loan (what the heck was I thinking?!) and I plan to keep it until it’s no longer driveable. Is it new and flashy like the 2014 models? No. Does it have scratches and dents? Yes. Do I care? NO! The seats are stained, but I keep the oil changed and all that jazz and it should last me (Lord willing) many more years. I really hope I can get 10 more years out of the thing if I play my cards right.
  9. Make money doing what you love…or at least LIKE: I loved the job I had for about 9 years, until my son came along. Then, I realized the stress of that job was going to interfere with my family. So, I made a change and I’m so glad I did. I really do enjoy work and helping people live healthy lives. I’ve liked most all the jobs I’ve had in the past. If I didn’t like them, I found something else. I’ve been a waitress, toe seamer at a sock factory, gas station attendant, cashier at a grocery store, website designer, technology sales person, and a Longaberber basket sales person. I really enjoyed selling those baskets and I made good money doing it. Do what you like! AND, if you find yourself in a job that you don’t like, work toward a job that you enjoy.

    From a Longaberger basket party I hosted YEARS ago.

    From a Longaberger basket party I hosted YEARS ago.

  10. Be happy with what you have: Like I mentioned to my friend, I really believe if you make more money, you will spend more money. You think you have to have the nicest things, and you end up working harder and needing more money to pay for it all. We have lived in this single wide, 1987 mobile home for 10 years and we’re finally getting ready to get a house. Am I scared? I not really. We’ve looked at the numbers and can see we can afford it, but we’ve lived mortgage/rent free for 10 years! It won’t be fun to have 360 payments looming over our heads, but it will be nice to have something new (and that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to heat during the winter!). I’m going to miss this little trailer we call home, but I know it won’t hold up forever. Our plan is to pay extra and get it paid off in 20 years.
  11. BONUS! Get/stay healthy: The most valuable thing you have in life is your health. If you’re not healthy, get that way right now. Or make steps to get as healthy as you can. The cost of health insurance isn’t going down and the more healthy you are, the less it costs to live. That gym membership may seem expensive, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to having high insurance rates, lots of prescriptions and doctor bills.
Me running a 5K a few years back.

Me running a 5K a few years back.


hiit & christmas time!

Ok, so high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Christmas don’t really have that much in common…or do they? You could kick your own butt doing high intensity intervals and stay lean and mean during the holidays (which is what I plan to do). But, my original intention of this post was to shout “hooray” for HIIT! I’ve been trying to do this pretty regularly for a few weeks now and it’s paying off. Just today, I had two women remark on how good I look. Now, I’m not a fitness model by any stretch, but I can tell a difference in my body.

Up through September, I had been doing mostly cardio workouts while training for triathlons – I just don’t have enough time to do both strength training and cardio (even though I work at a gym, I’m the mom of a toddler). I got burned out on swimming, biking, and running and I haven’t run any distance since my last tri in mid-September (I know, shame on me). So, I thought I would change it up and do some different workouts. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here are some ideas for you:



Speaking of working at a gym, today is my FIRST anniversary at this job! I’m so happy they’ve decided to keep me this long. 🙂

On another note, I started listening to Christmas music a minute ago…it’s probably all I’ll listen to on Pandora from now until the first of the year. I love it!!! I’m so psyched about all the different Christmas happenings coming up. I saw this Billy Graham Library thing that I’m begging my husband to take me and our son to. One year, my husband and I ran a 5K that started on the strike of New Year through Christmas lights. It was so cool!

The finish line photo from that New Year 5K my husband and I ran years ago.

The finish line photo from that New Year 5K my husband and I ran years ago.

What gets YOU excited about the holidays?!