You Don’t Have to Stay the Same

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

When I was a new mom (23 years ago), I was nothing else. I dove head first into a puddle. It was painful. When I was a college student (2nd try 2014), it was the reason I breathed. I dove head first into a puddle. It was unbearable. When I became a teacher, you guessed it, I focused solely on my purpose … so I dove head first right into that puddle. And this one was excruciating. (lets pause on this one for a moment)

As I write this, I am becoming fully aware that in most of my big new opportunities in life I make it my number one priority; CNA, retail assistant manager, new wife, World Vision Donor Service Member, Women’s Ministry leader, stay at home mom, columnist writer … each time diving into this tiny little puddle head first and end up burnt out, unsatisfied, and need for change.

(unpause) I thought that when I became a teacher, I would have everything that I ever wanted. I mean I dreamed about teaching since I was four years old! Why wouldn’t everything just make sense? Why wouldn’t all of the puzzle pieces line up? Why wouldn’t the big picture I placed in my head become reality?

As Emily Ley asks us to define the box (all those individual puddles) we’ve created for ourselves, I come to terms with the idea that I was made for more than just a puddle. Literally speaking, I am a beach dweller and am counting the days until I can live on an island. But figuratively speaking, I need more than just a puddle to live in. In fact, if multiple puddles began joining together I could create a place big enough for what God has planned for me to do!

Porretto Beach, Galveston Island

Emily Ley writes, “Never box yourself in. Never allow someone else to define your limits. And always remember, to grow and change, to evolve and become.” If I step out of my puddle and dive into wide open waters … it will not bring me the suffering I experienced in the past. I am not saying that there will not be troubles, without limits I am more than just a wife, just a mom, just a student, just a _________________.

I am a woman, child of God, wife, mom, homebody, teacher, reader, writer, foodie, soon to be islander, Noonday Collection Ambassador (world changer), step-mom, sister, designer, daughter, life-long learner, aunt, crafter, ethical fashion enthusiast, friend, traveler, humanitarian …

Do you suppose, I am a wildflower?

Alice in Wonderland

Are you holding yourself back by staying inside your box? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time,

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Mindfulness Moments in the Classroom

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:7

In the course, Trauma Informed Education Journey Part 1 (at IEA Summer Institute), I was reminded of the importance of taking a moment to breathe. I am implementing a mindfulness moment within each class period every day to give students and myself a time to practice our breathing. Using a variety of different mindfulness activities, such as the Breathe Bubble from Calm, to guide us through. I will use the same activity throughout the week to give students a chance to practice and become comfortable with the activity, understanding that this may be new and awkward. I presume that some students will not be interested in this at first (or at all) so I will encourage them to sit quietly as others participate. I look forward to the increased amounts of concentration, sustained attention, and comfort this exercise will provide the classroom environment this year.

How have you added mindfulness to your classroom? Did you see the benefits in the activity? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time …

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He Called Me Mom

Laying in my unmade bed covered in last weeks laundry, my eyes became extremely heavy as though there were weights hanging from my eyelids. I had not been sleeping well since my first child was born 11 months prior.

Realizing that I had not yet prepared dinner, given him a bath nor created a shopping list for tomorrow’s early morning shopping trip I just wanted to crawl underneath my covers and hibernate until his 18th birthday. I began to hear noises coming from his room. “Well so much for hibernation,” I thought as I forced myself out of bed to return to my never ending mommy duties. “Okay a few more hours then I will get some sleep,” I declared as an attempt to motivate myself as I slowly dragged my feet down the hall.

When I arrived at his room I saw him playing with his stuffed Winnie the Pooh Bear, that he stopped as soon as he heard me.

When he looked up at me he was grinning from ear to ear and much to my surprise he opened his mouth and exclaimed, “MOM.”

My heart fluttered, a tear of joy ran down my cheek as I scooped him up not wanting to never let him go. I remember the smell of apple juice and baby powder as I lingered in his room lavishing him with hugs, kisses and telling him over and over again how happy I was to have him call me mom for the first time.

As I carried him from the room there was a bounce in my step. “He called me Mom!” I shouted.

Motherhood is completely and utterly exhausting, it has been many years since that day and I am still tired and I am still happy to have him call me Mom!

Until next time…

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Joy in the Journey

This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

2 Samuel 22:31

I am a recovering perfectionist. I tend to lean toward the side of things of neat and tidy. I take pleasure at the sight of a straightened up and organized room. As the boys were little, I remember waking each morning and fixing the couch cushions, throw pillows, and blankets that were in disarray from the night before. I recall thinking about how I wish they would pick up after themselves or that I wish I had a firm couch that did not have all the slouchy cushions that needed to be adjusted all-the-time.

I am not exactly sure where this need to always look good came from; but I have a couple ideas. My mother cleaned the entire house daily, at times, she would even vacuum twice a day. Our home was far from perfect. A run down one room farmhouse with a bathroom, inside porch, and dilapidated upstairs. I suppose, keeping it clean made it a less miserable place to be in all day. In addition, I recall my father constantly yelling at me to keep my toys in their places and not have them thrown about the living room/ kitchen area, I can understand now this was due to the lack of space we had.

Over the years, I have let some of this perfection go. I do at times find myself adjusting the firm couch cushions, throw pillows, and blankets. As I do, I am reminded of all of the times I did this when the kids were little… how frustrated I was with the task. If I try hard enough, I can switch that memory to how I got to clean up in the morning after an evening of snuggles and watching movies with my children before we went to bed or how we read stories under a blanket fort. Rather it being a terrible memory of the constant battles with a change of perspective I can lavish in the time we once shared together. I guess it is all about taking joy in the journey.

Are you a perfectionist? Where did it come from? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time …

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Creative Meal Planning with Imperfect Foods and Plan to Eat

I am changing things up at home in the kitchen with the help of Imperfect Foods and Plan to Eat. I am going to show you my new way of meal planning as well as share with you the upcoming menu for January 10th – 23rd.

Step One:

On the evening that my shopping window opens at Imperfect Foods (Thursdays), I scroll through all of the available products: produce, pantry, dairy, snacks, plant-based, meat & fish, and wellness. Then I select the items that I wish to purchase, I have until noon Saturday when my window closes to make these selections final. These items will then arrive at my doorstep on Tuesday, the delivery day for my area.

Here is this week’s order:

  • Imperfect Foods Boneless Skinless Seasoned Chicken Breast for Fajitas (14 oz) 1 $5.99
  • Atoria’s Family Bakery Traditional Naan Bread (2 ct) 1 $2.79
  • Organic Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (1 pack) 1 $4.99
  • Organic Cucumber (1 ct) 1 $1.99
  • Atoria’s Family Bakery Traditional Pita Bread (6 ct) 1 $3.19
  • Organic Cilantro (1 bunch) 1 $1.69
  • Organic Green Leaf Lettuce (1 head) 1 $2.99
  • Imperfect Foods All Natural Smoked Apple Gouda Chicken Sausage (5 ct) 1 $5.99
  • True Story Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (4 ct) 1 $5.99
  • Coleman Natural Foods Boneless Pork Loin Roast (18 oz) 1 $6.99
  • Coleman Natural Foods Applewood Smoked Bacon (No Sugar Added) (12 oz) 1 $5.99
  • Imperfect Foods Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (8 oz) 1 $3.49
  • Nuovo Pasta Fresh Fettuccine (9 oz) 1 $3.99
  • Imperfect Foods Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (14 oz) 1 $5.49
  • Red Bell Peppers (2 ct) 1 $2.29

Subtotal $63.85
Discount $0.00
Delivery Charge $0.00
Tax $3.84
Credits $0.00

Grand Total $67.69

Step Two:

Based on the items I selected, I begin creating a list of meals that I will use from my upcoming purchase. This is where my creativity is coming in; as well as, my growing meals on Plan to Eat, Pinterest, and my supply of cookbooks. I will incorporate family favorites and include some new recipes as well.

Here is the list I created:

Step three:

I take a look at my planner and see what is going on for the week (after school meetings, out to dinner plans, evening activities, my husband’s work schedule, etc). Then I start plugging in the above meals in the Plan to Eat Planner. I make sure to include the notes of eating out on the planner and also rearrange meals to have leftovers on busy weeknights or when my husband is at work (he is on 24 hour shifts as an EMT).

Step Four:

This is the fun part, thanks to Plan to Eat! Once the meals are in place, I select Shop and the dates that I am creating a grocery shopping list for. Plan to Eat will take all of the meals and ingredients that I have added to the planner and create a shopping list so that I can create all of these delicious meals.

You can see in the image that it separates out the items in categories and groups like items to make shopping list creation super easy and manageable.

Step Five:

Now I go through and remove from the shopping list all items that are coming in the Imperfect Foods delivery as well as any items I already have at home. I like to physically go through my refrigerator, spice cabinet, and pantry to take inventory and not rely on my memory. This is a good time to straighten things up, wipe things down, and throw out anything that has gone bad or expired.

Step Six:

Add additional items for lunches, breakfasts, snacks, and beverages; plus the items on the magnetic list I keep on the side of the fridge for requests.

Step Seven:

On the Plan to Eat Mobile App you can choose Grocery Delivery! This will move everything from your shopping list to your online grocer of choice. Here I select Walmart, choose the preferred brands and sizes, add them to my cart, and then select pick up.

Step Eight:

Print out menus and post on fridge! Menus are also available on the phone app and are completely functionable. If I need the recipe, I just click on the meal. If there is a change of plans it is easy to reschedule. Plan to Eat also links to my calendar app so I see what I have planned when I check out my day each morning.

On average it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to complete this eight step task. This seems like a lot; however, for the next 2 weeks I know the answer to the question what are we having and I have only one shopping trip (well my husband does.. he is picking them up on the way home from work). I would say this saves a lot of time, decision making, and hassle… not to mention money since I purchased what I needed and plan on using.

How do you plan and create your meals? Please let me know in the comments below.

Until next time..

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