Month: November 2012

Not Yet Ready for December + Monthly Goals

I know I should be overjoyed that December is tomorrow, but I am not yet. December will be wonderfully, beautifully full… but I feel like I need to prepare more before it comes. I need to get more organized. Come up with a plan.

Isn’t that how we feel approaching God sometimes? That we need to prepare before entering his presence? We need to clean up our lives, finish a to do list before approaching? Sometimes what need most is to just simply enter. Allow him to give us the rest we are looking for, way before we get our act together. That’s the very purpose he entered our lives. So that through the love shown by his life, death and resurrection, we can boldly approach God and receive the rest and daily need he promises.

So, whether I like it or not, the hustle and bustle of the season has already began. Doesn’t it feel like it started after Halloween this year? I may not be ready, but that’s ok. I don’t have to be! God will provide the rest and energy I need on a daily basis, just as he promised.

On a lighter note, here are some of my goals for this month.

  • Wrap all of my presents by December 20
  • Run, run, run! Last month of marathon training.
  • Go to Disney World with J’s family :)
  • Finish reading one book
  • Watch our favorite holiday movies
  • Sit down with J and develop our 2013 budget
  • Finish decorating my guest room
  • Have a holly, jolly Christmas!
I told you it was a beautifully full month! What goals do you have this month? Are you ready for December or feel you need some more time?

PS – In case you’re wondering, I finished 8 out of the 9 November goals I set last month. Still have some more gifts to buy, but almost done!
PPS – Want to see more goals? Here were my December goals in 2011, 2010, and 2009.

DIY Holiday Garland

This holiday season, J and I decided to keep things simple and not get a big Christmas tree. It was a hard decision, because I love a good tree to light up the living room, but we will be out of town for a week in December and our apartment is so small there really isn’t a great place for one to go anyways. So we are using my old Charlie Brown tree that I bought in college when our crammed 600-square foot four-bedroom apartment needed a little holiday cheer:

It will do for us this year. But after setting it up, it was a little depressing how just a corner had twinkle lights and the rest of our home was dark. So I decided to improvise and create a space-saving way to light up on our home with some DIY holiday garland.

It was the easiest project. To make it you’ll need fabric or ribbons, scissors, and a string of lights (12 foot strand is perfect). To assemble it, cut your ribbon or fabric to about 5 to 8 inches, depending on how long you prefer. Tie the ribbon around the string of lights, about five or six ribbons between each bulb. (Note: it helps immensely if you are watching a Christmas moving on TV while you are cutting and tying. I was watching Home Alone.:) Then hang and enjoy!

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I wanted a little more modern look, so I chose green, red, pink, silver, blue and gold ribbon. It was such an easy way to bring more holiday cheer to our small home, and perhaps one day when we have a fireplace it can grace the mantle. The whole project cost me $8 — $3 for the string of lights and $5 for the six spools of ribbon.

Are you getting a Christmas tree this year?
Do you decorate your home with garland?
What affordable ideas do you have for decorating your home this season?

Happy Birthday to Our Little Boy Across the World

Friends, meet Jacques, our precious African boy:

Jacques lives in Togo, Africa and we sponsor him through Compassion International, an organization that helps rescue children from poverty.

J and I decided to sponsor a child a few months ago and looked for a child that had been waiting the longest on the website — and that’s when we found Jacques. He lives with his mom and two older siblings in a village, and she cares for the family on a small income selling textiles. Our sponsorship helps Jacques afford education and basic needs for the family, such as food and health care.

We wrote him and sent him pictures, and he sent back a message with a few things that he likes to do. Some of them include:

  • Hobbies & Sports: group games, walking, singing, dolls
  • Family Duties: running errands, carries water, gathers firewood, helps in the kitchen
  • Wants to be when he grows up: a mechanic
  • Favorite sport: football / soccer
  • Favorite food: rice

And today is his birthday! He turns 5 today, so we sent him a small gift to celebrate. I am praying he will feel very loved  and cherished.

Have you ever sponsored a child through Compassion International or another non-profit organization? If you are interested, it costs $38 a month, which provides a child with meals, education, health and hygiene training, medical check-ups, involvement in their local church, and love. J and I decided that we spend $38 and more on eating out at restaurants or quick meaningless trips to Target to pick up stuff we don’t need. It was a small portion of our budget to give up, but went such a long way in the life of Jacques. I greatly encourage you to look into it! If Compassion International isn’t the way to go, there are other sponsorship programs available.

PS – I was not compensated by Compassion International for this post, it is an organization I whole-heartedly support. 

My Thanksgiving via Instagram

This Thanksgiving I spent four days in Greensboro with my family and it was some of the most fun we’ve had together in a long time. Here are some snippits of my weekend via Instagram. (Sorry if this is a repeat for your followers! If you want to follow me, feel free!).

Row 1: Puppy dogs meet for the first time // My mom’s gorgeous and moist turkey // Prepping for the party // What would a holiday be without a classic sister shot?

Row 2: Apple cider by the fire // 28 people gathered for dinner! // Leia and I sad J had to work on Friday // Black Friday shopping at Anthro

Row 3: Pedis with cousins // Snuggles with babies // 16 mile-run with Al // Crocheting by the fire with old friends

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? If you posted on your weekend, please comment with your link! I’d love to read. :)

Sunday night? Sorry, we have plans.

J and I decided a while back — Sunday evenings are off limits. We purposefully plan to not make plans that evening.

Life is busy, remember? We both work full-time jobs, have something planned Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, Thursdays we are free, and then flip a coin and those are the odds that we’re in town on the weekend.

But Sunday evening? It’s the only time where don’t do anything.

I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon: we are 10x more likely to be grouchy, impatient, stressed, and eat unhealthy during the week when we don’t plan accordingly. Aren’t workdays hard enough without adding all that to your week? A good Sunday evening prepares us for a good week. It’s the perfect blend of productivity and relaxation.

Some of the things we like to do on Sunday evenings may include:

  • Meal plan for the week – It takes about five minutes to plan meals for the week, but it makes all the difference in the world. I just read this great post by Aly on meal planning with some cute printables. I use this pad to help me each week (sometimes I put Leia as the chef of the week. Tehe.)
  • Grocery Shop – I wish I didn’t have to join the thousands of others who shop on Sunday, but that’s the best time that works with my schedule. I hate grocery shopping, so I head to my superstore as early as possible armed with coupons, my list and a sweater because my goodness it’s cold in there!
  • Cook! – Cooking and baking is so much fun when you have all the time in the world! (You may even find me dancing in the kitchen to Rosemary Clooney when J is out.) I like to make a big meal for Sunday that can last days as leftovers or in the freezer later for a busy evening.
  • Blog and schedule social media posts– When do you think I have time to write these posts? It’s not during the week, I assure you!
  • Prepare lunch for the week – We try to eat out for lunch once every couple of weeks, so Sunday evenings we do as much ahead as possible. The biggest time-saver is putting non-perishable things like crackers in baggies or leftovers in small containers so it’s easy for us in the mornings to assemble our lunch.
  • Clean and do laundry – I love starting my Monday mornings with a fresh, clean apartment. When necessary, I will vacuum, clean the bathrooms, take out the trash, and there is almost always a load of laundry running on Sunday nights.
  • Pay bills and file away papers – We open our mail every day, but then pile it in on our guest room desk and come back to it once a week. During that time we pay any bills, recycle, file away, or get rid of anything we don’t need. We check our bank account and make sure everything looks good and talk about any major expenses for the next week. At first I thought it was a bad habit stacking bills and paper on my desk, but it’s nice to leave it all and deal with those responsibilities once a week.
  • Watch TV, drink a glass of wine, and relax! – I’ve already confessed our obsession with TV shows, so Sunday nights we like to catch up on our DVR and chill.

So there you have it! Why we are always unavailable on Sunday nights.*

Do you have a day of the week you purposefully plan not to plan? When do you catch up on all of your at-home responsibilities?

*There are always exceptions of course! We aren’t always hermits, just need to set these boundaries for a little sanity in our full-time working life. :)

Why I Decided to See a Nutritionist

Digestive problems are uncomfortable to talk about. If you suffer from headaches or have a low immune system, you have full reign to complain and share all you want, because most people are fine hearing about pounding headaches or terrible sore throats. But digestive problems? The symptoms of an upset stomach are not so pleasant to speak about. Just google it if you’re curious what I’m referring to. ;)

Well, I started having a few digestive problems a couple of years ago. My symptoms have never required any major medical attention, but it’s been a general discomfort that would come and go randomly after I ate. I noticed my stomach hurt more when I would travel or my routine was off, but otherwise my symptoms were inconsistent. So I just figured I had a sensitive stomach and would pop the Pepto Bismal pills when needed.

I once told my primary doctor about the issue and she told me she could prescribe me some medicine to help. I declined, since over-the-counter stuff was working fine, but was frustrated that there wasn’t a resolve to the issue, just a suggestion to mask the symptoms. I then thought about going to see a nutritionist, but hesitated because I thought they a) cost a lot of money, b) would tell me to take a ton of supplements and not really fix the problem or c) worse, would immediately diagnose me with a food allergy that would cramp into my “c’est la vie” lifestyle of eating.

When I got my new job, I noticed my health insurance included up to 6 visits a year with a nutritionist at the cost of a normal in-network copay. So I thought, Well why not? Maybe they can help me feel a little bit better and I can lose a little weight in the process? 

My first visit was a pretty standard — she asked me all of my symptoms, what I eat on a regular basis, if I feel any of the symptoms after certain foods, etc. We talked about sleeping, exercising, stress, and everything in between. After describing my inconsistent symptoms to her, she gave me a few suggestions and homework to do until we saw each other next.

I loved it and am so happy that I decided to start seeing a nutritionist.

My nutritionist is, first of all, really nice. That’s pretty important when things get a little personal and you share how many times you go to the bathroom in a day. Second of all, I don’t feel like I’m being sold a lot of things. I thought they would try to sell me supplements right on the spot, but she gave me a list of things I can shop for on Amazon or elsewhere to get a better deal. And finally, I really feel like I am listened to and she is tailoring everything for me. It is so nice to share what I am feeling and hear her say, “That’s not normal, we can try some things to make you feel better.” Anyone who’s been sick — that’s all you’re looking for your doctor to say.

I will share a little more in another post what she came back with to help remedy the problem, but for today I just wanted to share my journey finding a nutritionist.

Has anyone been to a nutritionist before? Do you find them helpful? Do you have any food sensitivities or aversions? 

PS – If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area and want a reference to my nutritionist, feel free to send me an email.