Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Favorite Grilling Recipes

Kelly over at is continuing with a great Show Us Your Life schedule!  This week's is Favorite Grilling Recipes.

My all time favorite grilling recipe is super simple.

It's marinating chicken breasts in a bottle of Italian dressing and grilling them.

Yep, that's it.

I marinate for at least a couple hours, but pouring the bottle of Italian dressing over 'em just before I walk out the door to work is great!

Throw a salad and some yummy fruit with it, and you've got yourself a fabulous meal!

One bottle of dressing to about four or five chicken breasts.

Visitation Days

If you know of someone that is a foster parent, and they tell you, "Today is visitation today" please take a moment and pray for them.

I promise you it is needed.

I promise you it is appreciated.

You won't know details, but you can still pray.  God knows EVERY detail.

Specific things to pray for, no matter the situation:

Wisdom for all involved.

Peace for the little one and the foster parent.

Discernment for the decision makers (FYI: This is not the foster parents.)

Abounding love and patience for the foster parents to be able to shower on the little one

Thank you, in advance, for your prayers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Favorite Charities/Non Profits

Kelly is continuing with Show Us Your Life over at and I'm linking up today.

I've actually changed my opinion of giving in the last two months...for two pretty major reasons.  Well, let me amend that.  I haven't changed my opinion of GIVING, just my opinion of HOW to give and to WHOM to give.

1.  I helped out a tiny bit the weekend after the May 20 tornado in Moore.  It was devastating to so many.  Money and goods were POURING in.  And, they were needed.  However, the churches and Red Cross and other non-profits couldn't house it all.  Couldn't store it all.  Couldn't get it out to people fast enough.  Also, the Red Cross has a lot of overhead: salaries to pay and office supplies to purchase and travel and lodging for employees to pay for.

2.  I'm a foster parent.  Money could go to shelters or adoption agencies.  However, they also have the same overhead that Red Cross has.

So, in the last two months, since I became a foster parent and helped with the tornado relief, I have changed my opinion about HOW to give and to WHOM to give.

I'd rather give straight to someone in need.

I don't want to give to the Red Cross.  I want to give to someone that lived through the tornado and now needs to buy new clothes for their children and the insurance check hasn't come through yet.

Some of the absolutely most encouraging moments on this road of fostering as a single parent is when someone, out of the blue, says "I want to help you.  Here's a Target gift card."  or "I'm going to pay for her swim lessons."  or "I will buy a zoo membership for you."

I know the responses to this way of thinking.  "What if I don't know anyone?"  and "How can I know they will use it responsibly?"

In answering "What if I don't know anyone?", I say Facebook, Twitter and other social media are awesome at this exact thing.  You might not know someone.  But someone you know will know someone.

The other question is a little harder.  You might not know if they will use it responsibly.  You might be able to send them a Target or Wal-mart or Kroger or McDonald's gift card.  Sending a check they can use anywhere isn't the wisest, but sending gift cards that you know will buy groceries, clothes or food, is a safe decision.

On a completely different note, I sponsor William through Compassion International.  I absolutely love getting letters and pictures from him!  I like Compassion because they are a Christian organization that works to feed, clothe, educate, doctor, and teach the love of Jesus.  I like that I can send him a $25 gift and get a letter from him telling me what all was bought...and y'all, it's a LOT!  I like that ALL the children get Christmas gifts.  It doesn't matter if the sponsors could afford to send money for a Christmas gift that year.  I like that Compassion has blogging trips and I can read other bloggers' stories of traveling to countries, and I feel, a tiny little bit, like I was there.

I plan to sponsor William until he turns 18 and graduates from the program.  I chose him as a little 9 year old boy that didn't look like he knew how to smile.  I chose him because I taught 9 year olds and I liked the fact he was the same age as my students.

I like Compassion International because they're legit.

I like giving directly to people, because I know my gift is being used.

If you think that's a little contradictory, I'm okay with that, too. :)

Packing to go out of town

I'm always a low key packer.  I make sure laundry is all done ahead of time and then the night before I leave town, I just throw some stuff in a bag.  I even share a suitcase with my sister sometimes.  

It hit me yesterday that it might not be that simple this time.

Two of us for two days that includes swimming.  Shouldn't be too hard, right?


I'm nervous!

Wish me luck....I'm heading to our closets!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Night terrors vs Night mares

I think I heard of night terrors for the first time a year or so ago.  I didn't have any inkling what they were or how they were different from night mares.

I have now been our pediatrician.

HUGE difference folks, so this is my PSA.

Night terrors:
The child does NOT wake up fully.
The child does NOT remember anything the next day.
The child WILL scream bloody murder.
The child WILL calm down and go back to (all the way) sleep fairly quickly.

Night mares:
The child DOES wake up fully.
The child DOES remember the bad dream VIVIDLY.
The child might or might not scream, but will definitely be afraid and tears are probable.
The child will take a LONG time to calm down and go back to sleep because the child is scared to have the bad dream again.

Let me tell you that NEITHER one of them are fun at all, but they're VERY different experiences.

Monday, July 15, 2013

That Certain Summer

Sometimes blog posts take awhile to percolate...this has been one of those.

I read a book by one of my favorite authors, Irene Hannon.  It isn't her "typical" book.  At least, not like the action, suspense, drama thrillers I've read of hers in the past.  I knew that going in, so it wasn't a surprise, though I wasn't sure what to expect.

Surprisingly, I really connected with each of the two main female characters in very different ways.  I say surprisingly, because while I usually fall in love with the characters Ms. Hannon develops, I don't necessarily connect with them.  I might want to be more like them.  I might sympathize with them for their hurt.  I might get angry on their behalf.  But, I don't always connect with them because I have that same emotion or hurt or baggage or perspective.  However, I very much connected with Karen and Val from That Certain Summer.

Some of the details were very different, but the main core was the same.  I was impressed and pleased that Ms. Hannon chose to address such a weighty topic that is so real in our culture.  That of low self-esteem and self-worth.

Karen struggled with feelings of low self-esteem.  She constantly tried to please every one around her, to the point that she was a bit of a door mat and no one really wanted to be around her, because she never voiced her opinions or stood up for herself.

I don't think there is anyone that would say I don't express my opinions.  In fact, there are many times I need to SHUT my mouth instead of open it.

However, I can very much relate to the low self-esteem.  Karen even marries a guy simply because she likes the attention he bestows on her.  I didn't get that far before I called off one particular relationship, but that has always been a concern of mine.  An internal, private one.  If a guy shows some interest, am I going to fall head over heals before I realize he's NOT a nice guy?

Val goes so far down the road of regret that it's difficult for her to see her worth.  She punishes herself, withholding life's joys from herself, because she doesn't think she deserves it.

Oh, the ways I have done that!  Oh, the heartache I have heaped on myself because I don't acknowledge the One who created me!

Each evening, I read my little one the story of Creation from a Children's Storybook Bible.  When we get to the part about God creating Adam and Eve, the sentence is "They were lovely because He loved them."

YES!  I get choked up a little reading it sometimes, because she is lovely because God made her and loves her.  I am lovely because God made me and LOVES me.

It doesn't matter what America's standard of beauty is.  I am lovely because God loves me!

A Picture Says...

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Day at Home

There was absolutely nothing on our calendar today, and I was looking forward to our day at home.  For several reasons, we slept in and took the morning slowly.  Also for several reasons, I'm VERY thankful it's summer.  But that's another story. :)

Rest time for her is, of course, when my high motivation hit!  I could have taken a nap!  Oh, well.  Much more progress on my closet has been made!  Still some work to do, but LOTS accomplished today!

Pretty quickly, I realized we were going to HAVE to run one errand, and therefore might as well do two more.  After rest time, we pulled on our bathing suits and cover ups and headed out for our errands.  We hadn't gotten out of our pj's yet, and all our errands were drive thrus, and we were going straight to the pool when we got home, so it made the most sense! :)  One errand took us to my parents' neck of the woods, so we stopped there briefly, too.  Always fun to be able to just drop in.  A major benefit to living closer! :)

We got home and ran inside to grab our towels, floaties, make a snack, drinks for both of us, and sunscreen and sunglasses.  Um, "ran inside" sounds like that was quick.  Well, quick is relative, right? :)

We walk across the parking lot to spend the next several hours splashing til our hearts content and the gate was....dun, dun, dun....LOCKED!  :(  The maintenance guy was on the other side of the pool and chatting on his phone, but he managed to communicate it would be closed all day.


Promising a 5 year old an afternoon of swimming and then not going swimming is not an option.

So, we went back to the apartment and called the public pool to make sure it was open.  Score!

We spent about two hours splashing and jumping and practicing her kicks.  She's doing great with her arms, too!  She went down the little slide, while constantly asking for the big slide.  (She's about 6 inches shorter than required.  Brave girl is ready to go, though!)  They had fun shower, squirt things that just shoot out of the ground randomly, which she LOVED!

Then home for breakfast for dinner...her new fave...and an early bedtime.

And, that was our day at, not?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Girls' Night Out!

I love spending time with my little one.  There's been some ups and downs, but I still love being a mommy!

However, every mommy needs a break and I had emailed Veronica a few days back craving Mexican food and adult conversation.  She was happy to oblige. :)

It was so much fun!  We talked.  We laughed.  We shared our hearts.  She challenged me.  We shared prayer needs.

I love having a friend that challenges me, prays for me, laughs with me, shares her family with me, shares her heart, her joys, her past, enjoys my little one and is always willing to meet for Mexican food! :)


Expel breath.

My soul needed that!

Love you, V!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Explaining the Seasons

When a little one wants snow...and it's currently summer in Texas...

Monday, July 08, 2013

An Evening at Home Means a Conundrum

Clearly, it's been a busy few weeks! ;)

My parents are always willing to help out and I asked them to have fun with my little one at their house, so I could have a few hours of absolute downtime.  My plan was to lay on the couch and watch DVR, I mean, I was going to go all out lazy!  But when Dad came to pick her up, he also dropped off an organizer I'd bought on Saturday that Mom and Dad had tweaked for me.  That meant, I had a conundrum.

I seriously sat on my couch for 24 minutes and thought about what I should do.

Should I rest?

Should I clean out my closet and organize?

Should I get a handle on the toys and clothes in her closet?

Should I rest and then organize?

Should I organize and then rest?

I finally decided to head to the closet.  I'd been wanting to do it for awhile and having the organizer was a blessing!  I folded up sweaters and sweatshirts and long sleeve tees and jackets and they are now neatly organized and out of the way.  I cleaned out VHS movies that I'd been holding onto for sentimental reasons I guess.  I threw away a bunch of hangars.  I have a couple of items for Goodwill.  I even have two pockets of the organizer that aren't full!  Plus side pockets to hold accessories!  All my purses went to the shelf that used to hold the VHS.

I still need to clean out the cookbooks and face facts that the new red shoes hurt my feet and I don't ever wear them, but for the most part, my closet is organized.

Little Bit's closet organization will be for another time.  We have a meeting soon where I will find out a lot more information, so I'm waiting until then before doing anything major.  But, I'm pretty sure that closet will be getting this organizer shelf, too.  It's fantastic!

After I cleaned out my closet, I headed down for the DVR.  I still wasn't sure what to do with myself.  One thing about single parenting is that it's pretty difficult to run errands, especially if I have a late night hankering for _______________.  I mean, that's just not going to happen.  Now's my chance!  Ice Cream!  Chuy's!  Chili's!  The sky's the limit!

I wasn't hungry.

Can you believe my luck?

I did watch Pioneer Woman and the beginnings of a Criminal Minds re-run.

It was weird.  It was like I didn't know what to do with myself.

I went and picked her up and helped out my parents with a couple things around the house.  When we came home, and snuggled in "our" chair for stories and prayers before bed, things felt right again.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoyed the little time a part, but it was good to reunite, too.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Being an Adult: Budgeting for a House

I have wished to buy a home for a very long time.  I've tried 3 times, once seriously moved through the process of making an offer.  It's never worked out.  It's never been the right moment.

I haven't ever actually had the finances for buying.  Realtors and Brokers and even friends have told me, "You don't have to have a down payment.  Now is the time to buy.  Do it!"

Except, cash is necessary for buying a house.  And not having a down payment is flat out stupid.

20% of the final price is the wisest down payment to have.  That means AT LEAST 20,000.  30-40 is probably closer to accurate.  Closing costs are another $3-4,000 and of course there is decorating and then furniture needed for a larger space and moving expenses, etc.  It adds up fast!

Um, yeah, I'm a teacher.  I can't just cut back here and there and have 30-40k saved up.  It takes awhile.

My goal is to purchase a home by the time I'm 35.  That's in two years.  I'm not changing my goal, but I'm not sure it's realistic either.  However, I'm working hard to make it happen!  Pedicures are now only via gift certificate (hint, hint, if you need a gift for me!)  Movies will be the dollar theater and restaurants are via gift card or a place where a little one can play.  (More good gift ideas!)  I'm constantly looking for free activities for a little one and I to participate in and we're learning to love some play days at home with a friend coming over to play.  The library has been great and we're looking forward to story time there this week!  I'm not just cutting back, I'm also working hard to increase my income.  I'm tutoring twelve students this summer and would love to add another Baking Class of two kiddos if I found someone interested.  I have one student for sure lined up for fall, and I think two of my summer kiddos will continue as well.  I would love another two, and those will happen naturally, but the school year just can't have as many tutoring sessions as the summer can!

We land ourselves at Mom and Dad's dinner table a couple of times a week, and due to Kroger discounts and filling up several cars at once, Mom and Dad buy me a tank of gas once or twice a month, which is helpful! :)

I'm not trying to be naive, but I think I can probably start handling 2 kiddos after this little one's permanency plans are figured out.  However, I will need bunk beds...or a home with more rooms.  I'd love to be able to love on more kiddos, but for right now, I'll love on the ones the Lord gives me!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

I'm Learning...

I'm learning to ask for help when I need it.

I'm learning to accept help when it's offered.

(Those are two different things!)

I'm learning to majorly celebrate and appreciate small steps forward.  No matter how small, just the act of moving forward is monumental!

I'm learning it's okay to cry more often.

I'm learning about my own expectations of others, and how they're not always fair.

I'm learning why parents are excited when school is almost out for summer, but they groan a little bit, too.

I'm learning small breaks are important for sanity.

I'm learning that it really is possible to survive on a LOT less sleep.

I'm learning organization is HUGE, and I can learn from others who have walked these steps before me.

I'm learning that some moments are more difficult than English words can describe, but when she reaches for my hand or climbs into my lap, physically showing her trust of me increasing, those tough moments become bearable.

I'm learning the routine she needs.  We all need routine, but each of us need something different.

I'm learning sacrifice is sweet and I don't (usually) mind it.

I'm learning to see the excitement and anxiousness of life through her eyes.

I'm learning I absolutely LOVE being a mommy, and a tiny part of my heart is sad I'm just now becoming one and that it doesn't look a little differently.

Same, but DIfferent

My little one is a precious 5 year old.  She is the same as all young 5 year olds in many ways.

She likes swim lessons, but they make her a little nervous.
She loves green grapes and asks for them all the time.
She always wants input on her clothing options and hairstyle for the day.
She has a tooth-filled grin.
She talks to herself when she plays.
She likes to pull all her toys out at once, but will clean them up when I ask her to.
She wants routine.  She wants to know what's coming next.
She likes cereal for breakfast.
She says, "I want to help!" a lot.  (It makes me smile!)
She needs assurances that she is loved, cared for and safe.
She loves to play at "Donuts" (McDonald's), but when she's tired, she wants to leave now.
She loves to draw and color pictures.
She wants a night light on when she sleeps.

Just like all children are unique, she is unique in many ways, too.

She likes salmon, as long as you don't call it "fish".
She enjoys pink chicken (pork chops).
Cooked spinach and broccoli and "salad" (lettuce) are asked for pretty regularly.
Pink is her favorite color.
She can play for a long time by herself, but she wants me to be nearby.
She has a tender heart, but a pretty tough head.