Thursday, March 30, 2017

Connection Time

Grab your coffee, sit down, and let's chat!

Lately, I feel like I have been so paranoid that my kids are going to get sick.  I feel like we haven't had any serious illnesses since last May, so I feel like it's time.  When I picked Weston up from school, he acted just fine and then I thought he was claiming to be "so tired" because he didn't want to do his after school chores.  Then he fell asleep and had a fever.  It's crazy how quick these things come on.  So, we are home today (not what I had planned for today).  He's resting and feeling better (thank goodness!) and I am trying to get things done.  My to-do list seems crazy, and I am trying to put the final touches on the office so I can officially call it done and get to work on the kid's bedroom. 

Also, March went quick.  Am I right?  It's been a great month and we've had a lot of fun.   We started the month with lego racing since we took the kids out of school for a week.  It was a great way to keep them occupied and can't wait to do some balloon lego racing during Spring Break in a week!

Then, we packed up and headed to Disneyland for a quick trip.  Lots of beignets and delicious foods were consumed and memories were made.  My sister even closed up Meadowlark Yarns and flew in for the quick trip my parents came, too!  Ethan and his cousin pretended to be 10, so they could ride together without the parents and I got to hang out with my sister!  My heart was so happy!  We also braved the brand new Burbank IKEA and WOWZERS that thing is big!  We weren't sure if we would ever get to the bathrooms!  But, we got what we needed and headed home.
We headed back to reality and to a busy week filled with lots of fun!  I even got to do my BFF's daughter's hair for the Father-Daughter dance at school, have a sweet friend over for coffee and get super creative with Soccer Night menu planning. 
Ethan has kept us busy with school projects.  He and his class had to do folk tale plays and designed their own backdrops and costumes and then this week, he had to run for president.  This kid blows me away with his creativity!  He sketched out what he wanted his poster to look like, and then he drew it out on paper.  He used Crayola slick sticks to color the picture of him and then painted the flag.  I cut out the letters on the cricut but that's all I did.  I am so proud of his hard work and creativity.  He didn't win. . . . but when the whole class had to run for president, the chances were slim.  He did tie for second place, though.
The garden is really enjoying all this rain we've been getting.  I think we are going to have a record amount of plums on our tree this year and the apple tree has started to bloom along with some of our trees and bulbs.  Not to mention, the grass is green (that won't last for too much longer once the weather starts getting closer to summer!).  In the meantime, we are just going to enjoy it as much as possible.

So, here's my connection questions. . . don't forget to answer one or two in the comments below or on instagram or Facebook.  I would love to hear from you!
Outside my window the sun is shining through the clouds.  It rained this morning very unexpectedly and it was just gorgeous! The lemon tree just outside the window has a couple of lemons just waiting to be consumed and flowers starting to bud. 

I am thinking
of all the things I need to get done.  There's a lot going on around here and I am excited about it all.  I feel like there is always a lot, but that's just where we are at right now.  Also, I think that Weston is on the mend.  He hasn't had a fever since late last night and he's eating foods and wanting to play.  whahoo!

From the kitchen
not much is happening, but I really want to get in there are bake.  Cookies and muffins are just calling my name right now.  I actually haven't done anything this week in there and I'm kind of sad. . . but it's the end of the month and we are almost out of just about everything. I was supposed to go grocery shopping today, but plans changed and now I am content just checking things off my list.  I might have to bake some cookies.  Yes.  Cookies.  That sounds good.

I am wearing
my pajamas.  I'm home with a sick kid and cleaning.   I did buy a new shirt at Madewell to add to my spring core wardrobe and I love it!  just a blue and white striped tee, but it goes with everything!

I am creating
lots of things.  Right now, invitations are high on my list, but also some Spring decor that needs to happen.

I am reading 
Shauna Niequist's book Bread and Wine.  You should too.  Just saying.  Also, it has recipes that I can't wait to try out. 

I am hoping  that whatever this bug that Weston has is gone and doesn't come back. . . and nobody catches it. 

I am hearing Disney music and some movie that Weston is watching on the Ipad.  It's really a quiet day around here.

Around the House
laundry is being done, Easter eggs are ready to be filled, and the spot on the wall that I haven't finished is begging to be painted. 

One of my favorite things
  right now is taking time to spend with friends.  No matter how busy I am I want to be able to fit in coffee dates and dinner dates.  I went to dinner with some friends from school earlier this week and we talked and talked and realized it was really late and we needed to get home.

A few plans for the week are
finishing up some projects, grocery shopping, menu planning, and doing mom things.  Nothing super exciting.  

I can't wait to hear from you! 

Now, it's your turn.  Go ahead and pick one, two, or as many as you want and comment in the comments, on Facebook, or instagram.  Let's connect and have a conversation! 

Outside my window
I am thinking
From the kitchen
I am wearing
I am creating
I am going
I am reading
I am hoping
I am hearing
Around the House
One of my favorite things
A few plans for the week
What I am listening to 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Menu Planning FAQs {Free Printable}

I am one of those people who probably wakes up thinking about what I'm going to eat for dinner.  I love food. I love the process of making food and then sharing it with others.  I am reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and her love of food and Jesus and what happens around the table just makes my heart leap for joy.  Someday, I'm going to be BFF's with her.  You should read the book.  Really.

But, thinking about what's for dinner is work.  It takes time, planning, budgeting, and creativity.  I wouldn't even say it's easy and if you have kids. . . sometimes it's a game of Risk wondering if what you fix for dinner is even going to be a hit with your kids. . . even though they liked it last week.  It can honestly be enough to throw your hands up in the air and just feed your kids chicken nuggets every night.

Before you click off this page because you think I have it all together, please know that:
:: I don't have this menu planning thing all perfect. I am constantly learning new things and adjusting my style. 
:: A child left our table crying because he didn't want what I made for dinner. . . last night.  It happens.
 :: I may be a SAHM, but life is busy just the same and sometimes there just isn't time to cook a big meal.  
:: You aren't alone.

 I wrote a post back in 2013 (I feel like this was just last year!) about menu planning and there are some very helpful tips back there.  You can find it here.
Now fast forward to 2017 and things have changed a bit and some have stayed the same.  I asked people to write some questions that they wanted answered and so I will do my best. 
How do I menu plan?
I menu plan at the end of every week for the following week.  I first move over the meals that we did not get to the previous week and give them new "homes."  I also look at our weekly calendar to decide what night's would be best to have a meal that was leftovers or if we are going to need to go out any night.  Now that our kids are older, we have to consider sport's practice and other activities that might take place in the afternoons or evenings.  Life is busy and we can't always eat out.  I post my weekly menu plan to my instagram account here.  My goal is to try one new recipe each week so menu planning doesn't get boring.

Our menu plan sits near our kitchen attached to our Family Command Center.  It's a laminated sheet I designed and use Ultra Fine Dry Erase Markers to write on.

I also write my grocery list as I menu plan so I know what I need.

How far do I plan out?
Honestly, I feel like I am menu planning every chance I find myself diving into a magazine or perusing Pinterest.  When I find a recipe that interests me, I pin it to my food board on Pinterest and when I go menu planning, I have it all there.  I do formally menu plan a few days out.   I like to do my grocery shopping at the end of the week, so I try to get this done before I go.  If it's not done, I try not to go major grocery shopping or my budget is gone before I menu plan.

 Do you have any cheater meals?
I like to keep a bag of Trader Joe's Orange Chicken, a box of Trader Joe's rice, and Indian Simmer Sauces in the freezer.  Monday Night's I go easy so it's usually one of these because I also do a lot of baking for the week and prepping for other meals.

How do the dynamics of your family impact the way you menu plan?
We are a family of four.  Four very different eaters.

 Jon I wouldn't say is very picky (ask me that question 12  years ago and I would have a different answer!).  He doesn't do anything eggy or white that may possibly have mayo our sour cream in it.   I made the mistake of making my favorite ranch chicken wraps before we were married for dinner one night and he refused to eat it.  oops.

Ethan is growing into a little foodie.  I think it helps that he likes to watch all the food network jr. shows and help in the kitchen.  He will eat just about anything that I make. . . with a few exceptions.  But, he's 8 and slowly growing into who he is.  It's fun watching this process.

Weston is 5 and his pallet is slowly expanding.  He has a dairy and soy allergy so that makes it more difficult to plan things.  He also could live off of hot dogs and burger king chicken nuggets.  Only recently, has his meat pallet expanded to include hamburgers and dinosaur nuggets.  However, we are constantly trying new things and non-dairy food products to broaden his pallet.

And finally, me.  I've mentioned before that I, also have a dairy allergy which can be a real pain in the rear.  But, sharing it with Weston and finding new products that are healthy and delicious is quite the adventure.  We've learned a lot.  I pretty much eat anything.  Except sushi.  Ever since I was pregnant with Ethan and the thought of sushi grossed me out, and I still can't get past it.

All these things take part in my menu planning.  I know that I can't please everyone, but it's my responsibility as a parent to broaden my child's tastes and give them new opportunities to grow as an eater.  They may not like it the first, second or third time they eat something. But, someday, I make something and it will get eaten. . . and my husband and I will mouth to each other "don't say anything" and then do a quiet happy dance.  Every dinner I make doesn't have to please everyone.  And that is okay.

What is your food budget?
Our food budget is 850 dollars a month.  I most often go over.  For four people this might seem high, but we also buy specialty items that are more expensive and dairy  and soy free.  We also make a lot of things from scratch and buy a lot of produce.  We don't purchase a lot of processed foods because a. fresh just tastes better and b. most processed things have soy in them.  This also includes our eating out money, zip lock bags, paper plates, etc.

Where do I shop?
I find that because we have allergies we shop at a variety of places.  There is no way I can get everything in one place.  So, here's a quick overview of the places I shop, but that is not every week.

Trader Joe's - I can get a lot of things here at really reasonable prices.  It's small and takes me 15 minutes max to get in and out with a lot of our groceries.  This is actually where the majority of our groceries come from.

Target - I am here all.the.time.  They have some of the best deals on a lot of their food compared to big name grocery stores.  I won't lie, I am pretty impressed with their prices.  Plus, if you remember to use cartwheel, sometimes you can find things for even cheaper.  Not to mention, they've been doing a really good job increasing their specialty foods like adding kite hill yogurt!  One of my favorite things is watching for when the meat has 2 and 3 dollar off coupons on it.  This is when I stock up on chicken tenders, pork chops, and ground beef.  Some stores only let you get 4, so stock wisely.

Whole Foods - This is a once a month trip.  If I went more, it would just be dangerous and we would have no food money left.  This is like a happy place for foodies.  They have ingredients I can't always find anywhere else, they sell most of Kite Hill products and a bunch of other amazing non dairy options.  I also treat myself to a spindrift drink and a couple of macarons when I am here.  It's a guilty habit.

Meat Market - The Meat Market is a local meat store in town and I love it.  I can't go with kids because their are wine bottles everywhere.  There meat is amazing and I know I can get good prices on it.  They sell pre marinated chicken for quick meals and their lunch meat is less expensive than grocery store prices.

Sprouts - We are kind of new to Sprouts but it is the best.  It has a great selection of fresh food and some of the best deals on produce around.  We can also find a lot of non-dairy non soy items which on some weeks, makes this the only place I need to go.

Local grocery store - our local grocery store is generally more expensive than all these other places.  I try to only go when I need something that I forgot or needed really quick. We do, however, go here to get our milk and chocolate milk.  We love the freshly bottled milk from our local dairies.

Costco - This is a once a month trip and sometimes twice a month.  We buy our bread, chips, indian simmer sauces, and a few other things here.

Do I coupon?
I don't coupon.  I just don't really see the point since coupons are generally for things I don't need or need 5 of. I will use cartwheel when I remember, but that's about it.  Oh, and if the item I am buying as a coupon for what I am already buying.

How do I plan what meals I will make each week?
I mentioned earlier that I plan towards the end of the week for the following week.  Through Pinterest, I keep track of recipes that I want to try.  I also look at our schedule to gage busy nights as opposed to easy nights.

Each week I aim for:
:: One meal that is completely new to us.
:: A meal that will guarantee leftovers.
:: Easy Night (Monday's) Indian Chicken or some sort of Trader Joes's chinese food.
:: And then I fill in with some of our favorites like spaghetti, tacos, paninis, etc.

Things I consider:
Is their a meal that I really want to make, but I know the boys aren't' going to dig it?  What are they going to eat instead.  Not everything I make is kid friendly.  Also, when we eat Chinese food, Weston can't have it because it has soy. . . so there are always options for the kids.

Is my menu plan flexible?
Yes.  Life happens and there sometimes isn't time for making dinner.  Or sometimes, I am just pooped (I mean, I don't just sit around eating chocolate and watching chick flicks!).  So, sometimes the menu gets moved around or we just have grilled cheese and call it a night.  It's okay.  Flexibility is so important. 

Do you fight your kids to eat?
No.  I'm not saying that there aren't tears.  But, on night's where everyone is offered the same thing, they are required to try it.  If they don't like, they don't have to eat it.  They just don't get their after dinner treat.  If they didn't get enough to eat from their dinner, they can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (this rarely happens), but they still don't get dessert.

I want my kids to enjoy food and forcing them to sit at the table until they eat something that they might possibly actually not like, just doesn't help that.  Remember when you introduce food to babies they usually don't like a lot of things the first few times, but the common advice is keep feeding it to them and eventually they will grow to like it. . . maybe.  I think the same advice holds true here.  As they get older, their pallet expands and dinners become easier.  And sometimes, they just won't like it.  My husband hates tuna casserole.  He hated it as a kid (probably went hungry once a week) and still hates it.  That's okay.  Don't let the pickiness of your children and spouse rob you of your joy in the kitchen.  Find a way to make it work.

Do I do freezer meals?
Yes and no.  When I meal plan, I try to make a soup or something that part of it can be frozen for a later meal.  We eat a lot of fresh produce, so it's just not the same once it's been frozen.  I also like to think about what chicken recipes I might be making and make the marinades right after I buy the meat and then freeze it with the marinade.  That eliminates the step and the night before, all you have to do is take it out of the freezer and come home and cook it up.

Wow!  This was a really long post.  I know I haven't answered all of your questions, but am already planning another post in the near future.

In the meantime, here is a menu plan sheet to get you in the right direction. I printed mine on cardstock and then laminated it.  I also use the ULTRA fine dry erase markers to write on it. There is also a "we're out of" sheet to put on the fridge to keep track of those times you are out of ketchup or milk.

Click here to download.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lemon Crumb Muffins

The floor was scattered with legos, blocks, cars, and who knows what else as we quickly hurried through our morning routine in order to get to school on time.  I yelled for the kids to make their beds and pick up legos and reminded them we had to leave in just a minute, while I frantically finished getting myself ready.  We somehow managed to make it to school on time that morning and get everything picked up.  We even managed to get to school with smiles, even though one kid hated his breakfast options while the other gobbled them all up and asked for more.  

Despite our jam packed day, I had invited a very dear friend over for coffee.  I quickly whipped up a batch of muffins and took a sigh of relief that she was running a bit behind and would be little bit late.  I had time to sit and breathe. . . and pick up a few forgotten legos (they are everywhere!) that had been played with the night before.

Once she and her littles arrived, we sat and chatted over hot cups of coffee and muffins and watched her sweet ones play.  Eventually, we took advantage of the beautiful morning and moved outside.  It was really a perfect morning.   After a couple of hours of beautiful chatting they headed home with extra muffins for an afternoon snack, and I moved on to to the next thing on the schedule.  I was refreshed and encouraged.  I was blessed. 

Several days before this coffee date, I was putting together our weekly schedule and considered canceling our date, but I knew that I couldn't.  This was important.  I needed this.  Taking time to sit and really talk with friends is probably one of my favorite things.  The house doesn't have to be perfect, there doesn't even have to be food.  You just need yourself and a friend (or two).  An old friend.  A new friend.  It doesn't matter.

The truth is we get busy.  Our schedules will always have something that could stop us from investing in our relationships and if we keep coming up with excuses not to invite friends over or hit the local Starbucks after the kids are in bed we will be lonely, sad people.  People. . . friends. . . they are important.  Even those once or twice a year friends.  Face to face talk is so vital and while the introvert in me screams stay home in my pajamas and hide from the world, I go. I talk.  I listen.  I leave encouraged and energized.  Find a friend.  Meet for coffee.  Be encouraged.  

In the meantime, my lemon tree produced a CRAZY amount of lemons and so I had to try some new recipes.  I made these the morning of my coffee date and I am still thinking about them!  The original recipe was HUGE. So, I halved it and they were wonderful!  Maybe make these and invite someone over.  

Lemon Crumb Muffins
adapted from Taste of Home

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cold butter

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients together, careful not to over mix. Set aside.  Combine flour, sugar, and butter in a bowl.  Cut the cold butter in until you get a nice crumbly mixture.  Fill your paper lined muffin cup 3/4 full and sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over warm muffins once they are finished baking.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Easy Magnolia Leaf Tutorial

My tree is lined with these fabulously HUGE magnolia trees.  They produce these lush, green leaves that are hearty enough to have a nice life off the tree.  I don't actually have one of these beauties in front of my house (we might be the only house not to), but I have a super sweet neighbor who let me come and cut some clippings.  Before that, I noticed the city was tripping some of the trees on one of our nearby streets, and so I grabbed a few before they got chipped.  I have been putting them everywhere.  Branches in vases are great, but my favorite product of these "Free" leaves are the wreaths that I've been making.

I tried it out on a whim, because I had so many leaves left over from putting them in vases, so I thought that maybe I could make a wreath.  I searched pinterest and found a lot that had some great suggestions, but all involved way more effort and leaves then I was willing to put put forth.  I really wanted this to be a quick and unintimidating (is that a word?) project that anyone could do. 
Last week, mine that I made during the superbowl last month was starting to look a little sad.  It was turning brown and yellow, but in many ways, still had a little bit of charm.  I might be weird like that.  It was a beautiful day and I had a few minutes, so I thought it was time for a tutorial.  I even made one of those cool instastories as I was working (did you watch?). 

But first, you will need:
You will need a wreath form, some magnolia leaves, and some tiny pins with a tiny little head.  You can probably find these at your local craft supply store.  

My wreath form was leftover from a balloon wreath that I made for Ethan's soccer party last fall and it was already wrapped with some green ribbon.  You can wrap yours, you don't have to.  You can't really see the wreath because the leaves kind of curl around it.  That part, is completely up to you. 
When I was talking my leavves off the branches, I wanted to let you know that I used mostly the two middle sized leaves for this project.  The big ones are great, but the take up a lot of space.  If you are using a larger wreath form, then that might be a great option.  I used the tiny ones to fill in as I went. 
Grab a pin and a leaf and start pinning a leaf somewhere. Stem side down. 
Pin it close to the stem and towards the part that will be hidden.  You are going to cover the stems with the next layer of leaves.

Add the second leaf, stems facing downward, and make a v shape with the leaves.  That way, they are sticking out.
Keep on pinning those leaves on. 

Keep on pinning. . .

As you get closer, carefully tuck the rest of the leaves under the first ones you pinned. 
Ta-Da!  You have a Mulberry Leaf Tree (and my cute shoes)!

And then hang in on your door. 

Easy Peazy! 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 10, 2017

What's for Dinner {February 2017 edition}

Dinner.  It's becoming one of my favorite parts of the day.  The kids pallets are broadening.  Ethan eats almost anything.  Almost.  There are a few exceptions, but we deal.  Weston is slowly adding foods to his like list and we can now celebrate the addition of hamburgers.  Guys, this is a big one.  We don't have to plan our meals around hot dogs or chicken nuggets.  Dinners now have less whine to them and more talking and conversation and I absolutely love it. 

Last month, we added soccer to our schedules twice a week . . . at dinner time.  I have a love hate relationship with it because it's at dinner and that just throws menu planning for a loop, but I LOVE having weekends free.  The Soccer program is more skills based, so Ethan likes to call it off season training (he's obsessed!).  Because of this we don't have to deal with games, or leagues, or snacks.  It's really quite wonderful.  It just adds a bit of complication to the menu planning week. 

When I menu plan for weeks like this, the goal is to not eat out.  So, instead of going easy on Monday nights, I plan a meal that will guarantee leftovers for the next night, a soccer night.  Some weeks, this works out, and others, we hit some kinks like yesterday, where there were no leftovers, because dinner ended up lasting 3 nights and we were so busy, there just wasn't time to make the next thing on the menu plan.  So, we grabbed fast food on the way home.  It just made things so much easier!

So, despite the craziness of our schedules, we were able to fit in some really delicious stuff! 

1.  Korean Beef Bowls
 I know I probably posted this awhile back, because it's super delicious and crazy easy.  I had completely forgotten about it and a friend posted that she made it a few weeks ago and I quickly added it to our menu.  I was so sad to realize I had forgotten all about this one.  We ate this one on a busy night where the kids probably ate chicken nuggets or something because Weston can't have soy. . . and one of the main ingredients is soy sauce (insert sad face here).  The ingredients are super basic and are ones that we keep all the time, so this really is the easiest, quickest recipe! 

2.  Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
This recipe was so simple and I absolutely could eat this every night!  The pork came out perfect and the extra touch of caramelizing the pork was great!  The combo of the pork and salsa just makes my mouth salivate as I type this.  I think tacos are my love language.  Is that a thing.  Can food be a love language.  hmmmm. 

3.  Beijing Beef
This is recipe I have probably pinned several times with the intent to make it.  I'm not sure why it didn't, but probably because there are just a lot of yummy recipes out there.  This one turned out really good.  Not as good as the Panda kind, but pretty close!  Close enough, we will perhaps make it again!  The hubs liked it, so it's a win in my book! 

I thought I had more ideas, but I cannot remember.  I am trying to post my weekly menu plans each week on instagram, so feel free to come follow me and stock me for recipe ideas.  My instagram feed tends to be more real time than the blog, so feel free to come join me!

Other things worth noting:  

The Lemon Oregano Chicken Kabobs in the Against all Grain cookbook are amazing.  I can't find the recipe online, so check the book out of the library and make it.  It's wonderful!

One pan Sausage and Veggies have been on repeat!

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup made an appearance because it was in the freezer and all I had to do was heat it up.  I'm pretty sure I posted that one previously.

Have you made anything yummy lately that I should add to my menu plan?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Thanks!

1 / 2 / 3 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Weston's quilt

I am really good at starting projects.  Like really, REALLY, REALLY good. Seriously.  I buy the supplies, I get the project started and then. . .

and then. . .

LIFE happens.  You guys, this life thing.  It's really getting in the way.  Just kidding. 

The problem is that life happens, I stop working on something for a while and then "awhile" turns into months and, in this case, years.  It must stop.  This year, I am working on finishing things that have been previously started, set aside, and kind of forgotten. 

One of my first projects, I worked on this year, was finishing Weston's quilt.  I bought the fabric at one of my favorite quilt shops on a trip to Morro Bay.  We fell in love with this line of fabric  with surfboards, plaids, turtles, and hibiscus flowers.  We loved the blues and oranges.  The fabric is called Little Surfer Boy, by Jamie Wood for Clothworks.  I knew instantly that this was the fabric that I wanted to make Weston's quilt out of.
I came home from vacation and cut out my pieces and then got right to work.  I used the tutorial for the disappearing nine patch by Cluck Cluck Sew.  It was super easy. I just got busy with other things that came up, that it actually sat almost finished for over a year on our office chair.  Yep.  I sat on it to get things done.  So this year, I made a plan and got focused.  This quilt would be finished before Weston's 6th birthday.  I was sure of it.  

Then, I messed up.  I was in a hurry and was quilting the top with simple straight lines.  And I ended up going all the way through instead of stopping.  I was so frustrated.  My mom, graciously took it home and seam ripped it (I think she's a saint!), and then finished binding it for me.  If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have this done in time for his birthday.  She's a life saver! 

This year, I am working on finishing some project that I've started and have been forgotten due to life just getting busy.  Be on the lookout for more quilts and other fun stuff!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

On feeling overwhelmed.

This post is about being overwhelmed. 

I said it.


Raise your hand if you're overwhelmed. Don't lie. (I am raising my hand sooo high right now. . . trust me.  It's raised!) There's a ton of stuff to get done. There are kids.  Messes.  Food.  Legos (LOTS of legos!). Laundry.  Projects.  Schedules.   It can all be overwhelming.  Life in general can be overwhelming.

This is NOT a bad thing.    

It happens.  It's a part of life.  It's not necessarily bad, because we all have it and often times it can't be helped.  Sometimes, it sometimes feels like you are hanging there waiting for someone to catch you.  And sometimes it doesn't feel like anyone is there to catch you. 
But there is.  We have a God who hold our hands as we walk through the hard, messy, and overwhelming.  Our mess and overwhelming feelings may not be the same as our friend next door, but we all have these feelings.  We have a God who will catch us when we fall down.  It's pretty cool! 

This week, I was trying to get at least one day done for Bible Study (As a table leader, it is probably a good idea that I come prepared).  Last week, we were on vacation, so I was super behind.  Then, I read 2 Sam. 22.  It's a song that David sung to the Lord after he had been rescued from some pretty terrible things and after he had messed up a bunch of times (Isn't in nice to know that the man that was titled a man after God's own heart messed up.  I find that so refreshing!). 

I am in no means being chased by my enemies.  But, when I am overwhelmed the arrows of insecurity and my anger come flying at me and I know that I have to protect myself.  I was reminded that we can cry out to God and he will hear us and help us.   He will help us when we are overwhelmed. 
Maybe you are overwhelmed by more than just a mess and schedules.  Maybe there's just some crazy stuff going on in and you just don't know where to start or those things that are overwhelming you are out of your control. I wish I could just wrap my arms around you and give a hug.  Know that I am praying for you, dear, sweet reader. 

Today, I am reminding myself this:
I don't have to do it all.  In fact, I can't.  There just aren't enough hours to get it done.  I can get the important things done.  I can be okay with imperfection.  I can trust that God has my back.  
Here are some of the ways that I deal with my overwhelming moments:

1.  Go to God's Word. 
This is probably my favorite one and probably for some reason one that I don't do as often as I should.  The time where I dig into the Bible is in the evening (I am a night owl, so it suits me).  However, I have found that by doing a small devotional in the mornings or choosing a verse for the day or week to till on as I go about my business really helps those feeling. If you aren't sure where to start. . . go look up 2 Samuel 22.  It will encourage you!  

2.  Make a list.  
When my lists get long and crazy, I separate them into categories:

Around the House
If I have time

Then, when I know what I am focusing on and get to it.  I also sometimes put it on the fridge so I see it whenever I walk by.  It helps keep me focused. 

3.  Blast Music. 
Music is a wonderful thing.  A friend last year shared how she turns those mundane household tasks into opportunities for worship.  Blare some Worship Music.  Create a playlist that gets you moving.  My favorites are some worhsip and Disney music.  I also listen to podcasts to help me focus. 

4.  Avoid the TV.  The TV sucks you in.  Save the TV for a reward for getting some things done.  Or save it for when you are tackling that mountain of laundry.  I love a good chick flick and laundry!

5.  Take 15-30 minutes.
Before I take on the day, I make myself a cup of coffee, sit down, find a verse, and pray about the day. . . this kind of goes along with point 1. Find that time to just give yourself.  On days where I am home all day, I walk the kids to school, work out, eat breakfast, and have my coffee time in the office.  It has become one of my favorite times of the day. 

6.  Set the timer.  
Speed Cleaning is one of my favorite and most productive ways to get through each rooms.  This is what I am doing today.  I think a bomb might have exploded while we were on vacation.  But, I know when I am focused, even if for a short time, it's amazing what can get accomplished.

What is overwhelming you today?  How do you handle your overwhelming days?


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