When Your Dreams Take a Different Turn

I want to thank Melissande from Our Growing Roots for starting this link-up of Transparent Tuesday. The internet is not lacking in blog posts that show the best in our own little world, whether it’s a recipe, a craft project, or family time at the park. But, we all know these are just select snapshots, and often we’ll discard the pictures that don’t quite portray our world in the best light.

But, isn’t your heart also drawn to things that show life as it really is? I wanted to join this link-up to show you that life isn’t always picture perfect (or blog perfect). In fact, life appears real messy sometimes, like an artist’s palette, but just wait. In due time, God will unveil His masterpiece.
 
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There’s a pile of papers waiting for me to look through. They’re not bills that need to be paid. They’re not my kids’ schoolwork that need to be put away. They’re not letters that need to be opened.

They are papers given to us by a doctor, a specialist in speech pathology and audiology. Why would I have papers like these on my desk? Because one of my children was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. So now, we have some decisions to make about therapy, education, and how all of that will affect our whole family. Honestly, it all gets overwhelming sometimes. Hence, the papers remain untouched on that desk.

imageWhen a woman first realizes there is this life growing and thriving inside her, there are no limits to her dreams. She dreams of rocking that baby to sleep. She dreams of holding his hand and never letting go. She dreams of showing him the beauty of this world and its Creator. Those were my dreams.

They still are, but the path to each looks far different from what I had imagined. I did not picture doctors, therapies, treatments, psychological assessments, and special needs consultants. But they are there, and I must accept that and believe that even though it’s hard to see sometimes, God will make something beautiful out of this.

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I imagine that you probably have something like this in your life. Something that has not turned out exactly the way you planned. Something that you feel is out of your control. May I encourage you to receive it, embrace it, and make the most of it.

There are really only two choices: despair or hope. I have been in despair. It is a dark, dark place and a paralyzing state. But, hope in God is what enables me to keep moving forward and pressing on despite the obstacles before me.

What do you choose?

 

It would be great if you can join the link-up at Melissande’s site. You can share a story, a picture, anything. The link-up went live on Tuesday but is open all week. Click here for more details and to read about what other bloggers have shared.

Our Growing Roots

 

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5 Things I Need on a Deserted Island

Special thanks goes to Man Crates* (a company that specializes in sending custom gifts to men) for inviting me to do this fun post! Hope you’ll have fun with it too!

 
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My husband can tell. Maybe it’s the dark circles under my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m still in my pajamas. Maybe it’s the tangled mop on my head that I call a ponytail. Maybe it’s the 4 little voices that call my name nonstop. “Sweetie, let me take the kids out so you can take a break.”

You would think that I would jump at the chance of having some “me” time, but it’s not quite that easy for me. If I was left alone in my house, I would likely start vacuuming or doing some other chore. I know. There’s something seriously wrong with me.

So, my husband gives me option B, “We’ll stay home, and you go out and do something fun.”

Oh, good! I can finally do some grocery shopping. We need eggs, milk, bread … Yep, there is something wrong with me.

What my husband might have to do is send me off to a deserted island. That’s a sure-fire way to get some “me” time. “Honey, you’ve been working hard. You need a break. Pack 5 things that you’ll need during your stay at Mommy Island.”

Five things? That’s it?  “It’s a single-engine plane, so there’s a weight limit.”

Ok, here it is then. The 5 absolute must-haves for me during my indefinite stay at this remote island.

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1. Books

I can’t just dig my feet in the sand and stare at the waves forever, even though that would be cool for the first few days. I don’t always get a good block of time to read books during this season of my life, so I would probably bring as many books as I can. I would bring a variety of reading material, but among those would definitely be the Bible and an island survival book.

2. Journal and Pen

I can’t not write. If there’s no blogging on this island, I can still write in a journal. Maybe once I get off the island, I can get a book deal and get it published!

3. Lindor Chocolate Truffles

I would go mad if I had to stay on a deserted island without an endless supply of these chocolatey treats. Need I explain more?

4. Ukulele

I can’t play, but my husband does. I would probably ask him to give me a crash course before my departure. There’s just something about music that lifts up a spirit.

5. Photos

I would just miss my family so much. Here’s something you don’t know about me. I spent about a week in the ICU years ago because of a serious infection. My husband would visit and bring me pictures of the kids. I could not have gotten through the loneliness without seeing their faces next to me.

So, there you have it. The 5 things I absolutely need during my time of isolation. What about you?

If you were on a deserted island, what would be in your survival kit?

 

*Man Crates is a new company that sends awesome gifts to men, all wrapped up and shipped in a manly crate with a manly crowbar to open it up. My husband looked at their products, and he’s already dropping hints at what he wants. If there’s a man in your life that you always seem to have a hard time shopping for, Man Crates may have the solution for you! Check them out!
 

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Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This is Not a Product Recommendation Post

The year: 2002. The place: Genova, Italy. Upon entering the room, I noticed right away the small balcony with a beautiful view of this town. Putting down my bags, I inspected the room to make sure everything was in order. In the bathroom, I saw something like this.

Bidet Mate!

At first sight, I had no clue what it was. Is it an extra toilet or an extra sink? Later on, I learned that it was a bidet (Look it up if you still don’t know what I’m talking about). Good thing I didn’t wash my hair in it!

I don’t know about where you live, but here where I’m from those things are just not common in the average bathroom. But I have seen these.

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It attaches to your toilet, and basically functions as a bidet. Toilet and bidet in one! Some people would say “I gotta get me one of those!”

If you are in the market for one of these bidet attachments, think real carefully first before you purchase, especially if you have a toddler in your house.

One fine day, when we were at someone’s house for a visit, one of my children went to the bathroom to do their thing. My youngest decided to follow his older sibling, and while this child was sitting on the toilet, my little boy turned the knob on the bidet. The poor victim of this incident screamed as if there was a fire in the house. And, when I went to investigate what the commotion was all about, I discovered that it was not a fire, but a geyser.

My little one must have turned it full blast because that water shot up from the toilet, hitting about 5 feet up the wall. I am not exaggerating. I wish I had a picture to show you, but taking pictures was the last thing on my mind that day.

After mopping up the wet floor and walls, we all had a good laugh about it.

What still baffles me about this bidet is why would anyone want or need to turn it on to the highest setting?

Has anything funny happened to you lately?

 

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Get a Free Photo Book! This Weekend Only!

After all my talk about my love for photo books, I’m so excited to share this deal with you all! The deal is only good for this weekend, so get those photos organized!

Get a FREE Classic hardcover photo book, a $29.99 value! Limited time only! Offer Valid thru 7/20

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You have to click on the link or image above to get this offer! Feel free to share this post!

Happy Friday!

What Every Blogger Should Do Before Clicking “Publish”

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Blogs and social media have given people around the world the opportunity to connect in ways never before imagined. It has provided an outlet for many folks to express themselves where they would otherwise feel inhibited. But, is it really necessary for bloggers to share everything on their minds? Here are 5 reasons why I believe it isn’t.

Discretion is a virtue to be desired.

There’s a proverb in the Bible that says, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Having wisdom to know what to say, when to say, and how to say enables you to be a more effective communicator, both in the blogosphere and in your daily face-to-face interactions.

Self-editing is a skill in life, not just in blogging.

Most bloggers will edit their post before publishing. But, beyond checking for grammatical errors and typos, make it a habit to also check if you’ve just shared too much.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You’re in a conversation with a group of people. And, when you leave the party, you’re replaying the whole thing, all the while, kicking yourself for all the foolish things you said. Self-editing is definitely a life skill. Well, the plus side to blogging is that you have time to proofread before making a fool of yourself to the whole world.

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Gossip is a dangerous poison.

I used to have a blog, where I posted anonymously. It was a journal type of blog, where I often wrote about my family, so privacy was a concern of mine.

There is a temptation, though, when you are writing anonymously or under a pseudonym, to gossip about or slander others. You can even change the names of the parties involved, and you may feel safe in saying negative things about them from behind the computer screen. But, the wounds from hurtful words sometimes never heal. And often, the damaged relationships go beyond just the immediate persons involved.

If you have a private conflict with someone, be aware that discussing it in a public blog will only escalate it.

Your face-to-face relationships may be impaired.

When I first began blogging, I would tell my husband about all the nice people that I was meeting through this site. He totally supports me in this and was happy that I was making some meaningful connections. But, he also reminded me not to neglect the wonderful friendships I have been blessed with. If I am developing worthwhile connections online, how much more meaningful should my relationships be offline?

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Transparency is not the same as complete exposure.

To be transparent means having a willingness to open yourself up a bit. Part of the reason may be to help with processing your thoughts and emotions. But, the other part (and this is why you put it in a blog, and not in a diary) is to reach out to someone, who may also be in the same shoes.

I enjoy reading posts, where the writer gives you a window into her world, sharing both her triumphs and trials in life without necessarily disclosing everything. Just enough is shared that I am left saying, “That is exactly how I feel! I’m not alone!” That’s transparency!

Remember the 4 P’s

Anyone can start a blog and speak their mind. The possibilities seem endless. But, the next time you’re ready to unveil the next blog post … Pause and take a deep breath. Proofread but go deeper than checking for typos. Ponder if what you wrote is the best way to share with the world. And finally, you are ready to post.

What goes through your mind before you click “publish”?

 

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Wednesday Blog Linkup

Is Your Life “Crazy Busy?”

The other day, my daughter gave me a very sweet love note.
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Then towards the end of the note, my heart sank as I read this.
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It was as if that one word, “busy,” hopped right off the paper. Is that how my daughter (and my other children) see me? I don’t think she meant it as a complaint or a rebuke. She was just calling what she sees. I am a busy person, a “crazy busy” person.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I am fully aware of

  • the to do list that seems to never end.
  • the numerous occasions I have said to the kids, “Not now” or “You have to wait.”
  • the guilt of not spending enough time enjoying the children.
  • the pressure of balancing all aspects and areas of my life.
  • the constant feeling of being behind on everything, from chores to homeschool.
  • the countless times I feel just plain overwhelmed.

Do you ever feel this way?

In an effort to help us look at the issue from a biblical perspective and take solid steps to remedy this problem, my husband and I began reading this book together.

Crazy Busy:
A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem
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by Kevin DeYoung (Isn’t that a great title?)

According to the author, one of the main issues is not correctly assessing what you can really handle in a given time period. I know, for me, I tend to take on more than what I can really manage. The result can go one of three ways.

  1. I’ll somehow get it all done, but not without a lot of tears along the way. And, I’m no happy camper at the end of the road.
  2. I won’t finish everything, and I’ll feel like an utter failure.
  3. My plate will be so full that I have no room for flexibility. And that means having to say “no” to some things that may be more important.

In his book, DeYoung writes,

“We are here and there and everywhere. We are distracted. We are preoccupied. We can’t focus on the task in front of us. We don’t follow through. We don’t keep our commitments. We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.”

DeYoung is also a blogger, so he understands the amount of time it takes to keep up with a blog, and how that time can infringe on what should be for your family. There’s a quote from the book that just cut me to the heart as a mom and blogger. Shall I dare share it with you? If you’re a blogger, you might hate me for it. It’s one of those I-don’t-want-it-but-I-need-it kind of quotes. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we will be better in the end.

But … I’ll let you read it for yourself because I highly recommend reading the whole book rather than just a few snippets. And don’t say you’re too busy to read this. Make some time. It’s a short book for good reason.

How do you handle your “crazy busy” life?

 

(Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Click here for my disclosure.)

 

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What Are Catalina Coupons?

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Do you know what Catalina Coupons are? They are the printed coupons that come after your receipt at the store is generated, that the cashier hands you, that you hurriedly grab and stuff in your wallet, that ends up in your wastebasket when you get around to cleaning out your purse. If this describes you, then you probably don’t know what a Catalina Coupon looks like (see picture above).

Supposedly, a Catalina prints out according to what you purchased. Every time I buy cereal, 99% of the time I get a Catalina coupon for cereal. Sometimes, it’s not an exact science, like getting a coupon for bladder control pads when I buy diapers.

Honestly, most of the time, I don’t use these coupons, unless it’s for a product that I buy regularly. These are not exactly high-value coupons, and I could probably find better ones out there.

But, once in a while, a nice Catalina prints out, so don’t be so quick to dismiss these and throw them away. Look closely below at one of the coupons I received from a recent trip to the store. See it yet?

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That’s right! A free photo book!

So, I told you a few posts ago how much I LOVE Shutterfly. I love their products, and I love them even more for the deals that they offer. So that homeschool yearbook that’s supposed to be finished by now (I’m getting there) can now be covered by this coupon. It’s nice when procrastination works out in your favor.

So, here’s the frugal tip for today: Don’t just check your receipts. Check your Catalinas. You never know what great offer you may get.

Have you found any good deals lately?

 

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Staying Steady in the Ups and Downs of Life

Corkscrew Roller Coaster

In April of this year, my three oldest kids got their first taste of the thrill of roller coasters. We were at a family event at an amusement park, and hanging out with their slightly older cousins had some effect on their choice of rides. Sadly for my husband (who hates roller coasters), my 5-year-old could only ride with an accompanying adult.

In my younger years, I LOVED roller coasters. Now, I’m older and wiser, and I’m just fortunate to have a 3-year-old son, who is my excuse right now to avoid those rides. By the way, did you hear about the roller coaster that derailed because of a tree branch that fell on the track. Scary! … But, I digress.

Where was I? So, roller coasters are on my mind because that’s the kind of week I’ve had.

One day, I’m on top of the world. Thankful. Happy. Enjoying my kids. Enjoying life.

The next day (sometimes, the next hour), I’m screaming at the top of my lungs at the disastrous descent that I’m on. Complaining. Angry. Hateful. Missing out on life.

I realized that I’ve been careless with my words and my tone when speaking to my children. Kids will be kids. They won’t always do everything you tell them to. But I’ve sometimes resorted to the lazy parent method of scolding, snapping, and getting angry. Sure, it gets some quick results, but it creates major damage to my relationship with them. And, they learn nothing but “Don’t get mom mad.”

Humility and forgiveness. My prideful heart fights against these. But they are the soothing balm to hurting hearts, mine and my children’s. And, what I love about my kids is that they do not hesitate to forgive. Despite my failures, their love has not wavered.

Thank God the ride ends! I can get off and come to my senses. I don’t like roller coasters. I don’t like the unnecessary highs and lows.

I want to remain steady … fixed, focused, and trusting in my God.

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Why You Should Teach Your Child Greeting Etiquette

Making friends in the Children's Home

“Hi, my name is Grant*.” He confidently extended his hand to a man that was more than twice his size.

That was my son, introducing himself to his dad’s co-worker. We were at a family picnic, sponsored by my husband’s employer. We talked to our kids before the event, making them aware that there was going to be a lot of people they didn’t know. We prepared them because we didn’t want them to feel scared or intimidated or hide behind Mommy or Daddy when someone wanted to meet them.

I understand that personalities will differ. I have four children, and I can tell you that within the same social situation, they all react differently. However, I desire for them all to be equipped to handle the most basic of all social interactions: the introduction and greeting.

Why should children learn how to introduce themselves?

It teaches them proper etiquette in conversations.

“Hello.” “Pleased to meet you.” A smile. A handshake. Eye contact. These seemingly trivial actions can determine if a conversation will continue or not. If I greeted someone and they barely lift their eyes from their smart phone and mumble an incoherent “Hey”, I’m likely to move on to the next conversation.

It gives them an opportunity to connect with others.

If you are a blogger, you know the importance of connecting with others. Though you may not have a future blogger in your hands, your child will discover the necessity and joy of interpersonal relationships. Most of those relationships begin with an introduction.

It gives them the confidence to speak to adults.

I remember explaining to one of my kids about talking to a trusted adult if ever they were lost, like at the grocery store. This child protested, “But, Mommy, I think I’m too shy.” There’s going to be times when you won’t be around to help your child, so they need to know how to talk to another adult if a certain situation requires it.

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It develops their language and communication skills.

Before children even start uttering words and putting them into simple sentences, they are like sponges, soaking up the language that is happening around them. When they are young, they are usually not hindered by social fears. Get to them when they are ready and willing. Do some role play at home. To them, it may seem like a fun game, but more than that, it will benefit their language development.

What has worked for you in training your child how to handle social interaction?

 

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*nickname used
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6 Ideas for No-Cost Date Nights

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There have been seasons in my life when, for various reasons, budget was tighter than usual and when we were literally living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, we did our best to cut out unnecessary expenses, and one of them was date nights.

It wasn’t always easy for me. I tried to be tough, willing to make sacrifices for our family and telling myself that our marriage relationship was strong enough that we didn’t need regular date nights. But to be honest with you, there were definitely times when it was nice to have some time alone with my husband.

A big lesson we learned was that date nights really did not have to cost anything. During lean financial times, this doesn’t have to be a sacrifice that couples have to make. After all, there’s more to a romantic night out than a fine dining experience or even a movie.

So, here are six ideas for date nights that won’t empty your pockets.

Shop but Don’t Buy

If you have really good self-control, this would be a fun thing to do for a date. We like going to Ikea (to get organization and home ideas), to Costco (to get some free samples), and to the farmer’s market (to check out the different vendors and products). If you don’t have much self-control, you can still do this … just leave your money at home.

Search for Free Admission Days

Many places, like museums, designate certain free admission days throughout the year. We’ve taken advantage of this for planning field trips with our kids, but why not do this for a date with your spouse? Looking up your city’s events calendar can turn up some free community events as well.

Stop by Homes for Sale

We live in an old house, but there are many areas around us where new housing developments are popping up. Sometimes, we like visiting the model homes, where we can get some decorating ideas. On weekends, properties that are up for sale usually hold open houses. A word of warning: I wouldn’t suggest this activity if you get too tempted to covet these other homes.

Stroll Along a Favorite Spot

We love going to our downtown Main Street to take a leisurely stroll. I love the uniqueness of all the stores and shops and seeing the history of some of the buildings and architecture.

If you have a university campus nearby, this can also be an interesting walk. Trails, parks, or even the streets around your neighborhood are all great options for your stroll. An unhurried walk, will not only give you some time to talk to each other, but is also an opportunity to hold your sweetheart’s hand.

isn't she a beauty...I'm talking about the lens!

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

If you have a favorite restaurant or other establishment, consider signing up for their customer loyalty program. If you don’t mind receiving email notices from them, you may score some coupons and great offers. (Hint: creating a separate email address dedicated for things like this will help keep your inbox under control.)

Often, these places will give you something free, at least for your birthday or anniversary. I’ve received free desserts and dinners at favorite restaurants and received emails announcing free admission at the drive-in theater.

Stay Home

Though you may be itching to get out of the house, staying home is probably the best way to assure that you won’t spend anything. Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun date night. Check out my post on How to Have a Date Night When You Don’t Have a Babysitter for some ideas, from reading a book together to gazing at the stars.

What do you do for date nights when you are short on cash?

 

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