Friday, December 30, 2011

The One Where Autumn Runs Out of the Bathroom...

We went out to dinner with some friends last night.  While we were waiting for a table (at the wrong restaurant, mind you), I went to change Autumn.  There was a changing table in the handicap stall, so I changed her and decided to take care of my own "things" while I was in there.... no need to make another trip.  So I'm, um, sitting there, and Autumn is touching everything.  Because you know, she's a toddler, and to a toddler, even the sanitary napkins basket is super exciting.  I'm freaking out because all I can think of is germs.  But she gets bored of the sanitary napking basket and moves on to trying to unlock the door.  She's a smart kid, so in about 1.5 seconds, she's figured out how to open the door. 

This has all taken place in about 5 seconds. In 5 seconds, Autumn has managed to touch every disgusting spot in the stall, and has also figured out how to unlock the door.  Her 5-second adventure has already bored her.  And I guess she decided she was totally bored with the stall, so she decides to leave.  She crawls underneath the stall door and out of the bathroom while I'm sitting there.  I'm not done. 

So, I pull up my pants in about a millionth of a second, because Autumn is already long gone.  I leave all of our things in the stall and chase after her.  Once I finally get a hold of her, I grab her and drop her on Joel's lap.  He obviously knew, from my expression, that something went horribly wrong - but I don't have time to explain.  This is still an emergency and I have to get back to the bathroom.

With all that being said and shared, I do not understand why public bathrooms don't include the fold-down seat with a 5-point harness for situations such as these.  Mom's are not magicians.  Toddlers are pretty much uncontrollable.  And a seat that we can strap them in so that they don't touch every unthinkable space in a bathroom and then leave the bathroom, would be great.  As a mom, I just want 2 minutes of worry-free time in the bathroom.  2 minutes.  That's all I'm asking for.  So public restroom owners, please do all of us moms a favor and give us a seat for the kids!  It's a need, not a want.  I promise.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 7

I've been sick.  And sick equals zero motivation to get to the gym.  I tried, several times this week, to get up before every one else in the house and get to the gym, but every time my alarm went off, I was beyond-exhausted and opted to stay in bed.  But I did make it today - my first day in a week working out - and I thought I was going to die every time I saw another minute tick off on the gym equipment.

Since I wasn't getting to the gym, I did try to keep track of what I was eating each day and balance things out with all the sweets that were around.  So, with somewhat balanced eating and one workout this past week, I lost 1.2 pounds.  And considering my record the last few weeks, I'm happy to take the 1.2 pounds!

My one measly workout this week:

Wednesday -
45 minutes of cardio, including the elliptical trainer and stationary bike

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Weeks 5 & 6

Yes.  I know.  It's been two weeks since my last weigh-in post.  For good reason, too.  See, I gained 2 pounds last week and was in no mood at the time to share it with you all.  I needed some quiet time to reflect and mourn.

I've been a pretty good girl - still going to the gym regularly, and up until last week, I was keeping a food journal.  I stopped the food journal because I feel I have a much better idea of what the calorie value of foods that I eat regularly are and that my food journal was keeping me way too focused on food... to the point of thinking about not a whole lot except for food.

The very, very bad news is that I am up 2.2 pounds in the last two weeks.  I'm super disappointed, frustrated and mad - but I'm not giving up on what I believe is a healthy, steady way to lose weight.  Although I'm gaining weight.  So perhaps I have no idea what I'm talking about.

One things that I'm considering may be the culprit is my thyroid.  Nine years ago, I had half of my thyroid removed because of a golf-size nodule that was getting large and at a fast rate.  I get my thyroid levels tested regularly and have always had perfectly good levels - even through two pregnancies.  I'm due for another blood test next month, so we'll see if my thyroid may have anything to do with my current situation.

Enough of that.... on to my workouts..

Week 5:
Friday -
60 minutes of cardio including the Elliptical, Arc Trainer and the Stationary Bike

Monday -
60 minutes of cardio including the treadmill, Arc Trainer and the Stationary Bike

This past week:
Friday -
60 minutes of cardio including the Elliptical, Arc Trainer and the Stationary Bike

Saturday -
60 minutes of cardio including the Elliptical, Stair-Master and the Stationary Bike

Monday -
50 minutes of cardio including the Elliptical and Arc Trainer

Wednesday -
40 minutes of cardio including the Arc Trainer and Elliptical

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An End in Iraq

I knew the end was coming soon to our time in Iraq, but as I was reading the news this morning, it shocked me to know that our troops were done with our mission there.  I don't know about you, but I've had mixed emotions today about it - happy to be out, anxious of what may happen in the future and hopeful that they sacrifices made there will be known and remembered.

I never served there.  I never touched the soil or looked into a face of an Iraqi.  But Joel did.  And because of him, I feel somewhat invested in Iraq. 

I hope that as our troops come home, that we would remember their sacrifice to a country that is not theirs and that we would continue to be prayerful for the people of Iraq.

Well done, USA.  And welcome home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 4

Boo.  Hiss.  This is getting old.  Guess what?  I didn't lose an ounce this week.

Now I have gotten a lot of comments from people like muscle weighs more than fat and it's more about how I feel and how my clothes fit rather than what the scale says.  And they are right and it's been good for me to keep that in perspective.  Honestly, I can totally tell a difference in how my clothes fit.  My muffin top is now a mini-muffin top so my pants fit a lot better around the waste.  My arms are totally toned-up - they have always been my easiest body part to tone.  My legs are firmer and I have a lot more definition in my calves than I've probably ever had.  So, with all of that said - I know my body is in better shape, even without much weight lost this month.  And most of all, in less than a month, I've doubled the amount of cardio that I can do in one session.

Another thing I'm considering are the types of foods that I'm eating.  I'm using an app on my phone to record my calories-in and calories-out.  The app also gives me a report about how much fat, sodium, cholesterol, carbs and vitamins I'm getting from my food.  It also gives me a breakdown of what percentage of my foods come from carbs, fat and protein.  My percentage of protein is pretty low in comparison to my carbs, so I'm working to balance that out with lean protein.

My workouts:

Friday -
70 minutes of cardio including the stationary bike and elliptical
30 minutes of strength training

Monday -
55 minutes of cardio including the stationary bike and the ARC trainer
(Note:  the ARC trainer is new for me and probably the most torturous piece of equipment I've ever used.)
20 minutes of strength training

Wednesday -
45 minutes of cardio including the elliptical and stationary bike

Friday, December 2, 2011

10 Things to Smile About: November

1.  My newest niece, Paige!

2.  Watching Gracie as The Little Red Hen in the Kindergarten musical.  She did awesome!

3.  Catching Autumn reading my US Weekly.  Yeah, we're both intellectuals.

4.  Starbuck's Carmel Brulle Lattes.

5.  Lots of great time at the gym with one of my dearest friends.

6.  Nearing completion of my Christmas shopping.

7.  Friend dates.  Karla and I had dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants and then cheered Bella and Edward
on at their wedding.  It was a perfect night.

8.  Eggnog season is here!

9.  Thanksgiving dinner.  It was awesome.

10.  Getting our first real Christmas tree.  Grace helped Joel bring it home for us & Joel's thrilled to finally have a real one this year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 3

Ok.  So a wee bit of good news this week.  I've lost .6 of a pound.  Part of me is happy to have finally lost something, but I'm still kinda frustrated that after 3 weeks of being dedicated to the gym and a reasonably healthy diet, that I've hardly lost weight.  But I'm going to keep at it with hopefully an hour of cardio tomorrow.  We shall see.

My Workouts:

Friday -
65 minutes of cardio including the elliptical machine and stationary bike

Saturday -
20 minutes of cardio on the elliptical (non-gym day)

Monday -
45 minutes of walking (non-gym day)

Tuesday -
45 minutes of cardio including the elliptical and stationary bike

Thursday, November 24, 2011


O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His loving kindness is everlasting.
- I Chronicles16:34

A very Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  As I get a little bit older (just a bit older), I start to realize how truly special Thanksgiving is.  And I'm really starting to understand how truly blessed I am.  I've read so many blogs and Facebook posts this month focused on thanksgiving and writing about what people are truly blessed by.  It's been so insightful to read what people are truly touched by and I've noticed that it's about the people in their lives 99% of the time.

I'm beyond blessed by the people in my life.  Foremost, I'm grateful to have Joel with our family, safe and sound this year.  It was great to sit around our table and spend part of today together.  I'll never forget what it's like to celebrate holidays apart - they will always be more sacred now.  I'm also so thankful for the family in my life - we have a wonderful family and each year I learn to love them better and appreciate their place in my life.  This past year, I've been incredibly blessed by friends.  Good friends.  True friendships.  So for those who walk life with me, pray with me, cry with me, laugh with me and love me - thank you.  God has blessed me beyond anything I could have ever imagined with so many wonderfully loving friends.

Finally, I'm thankful for my readers.  This blog has been a great outlet for me and I'm thankful that you take the time to read about my life.  But most importantly, I'm thankful for your comments and emails that encourage me, make me laugh and teach me something new.

I hope that you've had a blessed day!

Much love & thanksgivings,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 2

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I'm finished with my second week of workouts and better eating habits.  It was a frustrating week for me - mostly because a flare-up of hives kept me from getting to the gym twice.  But, I can say that the time I was at the gym was worth it.  My endurance is already picking up pretty significantly and I've noticed I'm not as exhausted as I was when I started this two weeks ago.

Week 2:  So that's the good news, the bad news is I still haven't lost any weight.  It's a major bummer and a slight blow to my enthusiasm.  But I'm going to keep going and I know my efforts will pay off down the line nonetheless.

My Workouts:

Thursday -
60 minutes of cardio including the treadmill and the stationary bike

Friday -
40 minutes of walking (non-gym day)

Saturday -
20 minutes of walking (non-gym day)

Monday -
60 minutes of cardio including the treadmill, the stationary bike and the elliptical
15 minutes of weight training

Tuesday -
30 minutes of walking (non-gym day)

Wednesday -
30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical
30 minutes of weight training

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In

Hello everyone!  Hope you guys are having a great week.

Well, I've been a faithful little patron to the Y this week.  I'm really surprised by how quickly I'm becoming addicted to the gym.  I've never been a gym person, but there's something about having 1 1/2 hours with a friend while child-free that makes working-out a bit less painful.

As you may remember, I tracked my weight loss while Joel was in Iraq last year, but I didn't give too many specifics in my weekly posts.  But this time around, I'm hoping to share more of what I've been doing - a way for me to keep accountable for my workouts but also, I hope that it'll help those of you who are losing weight, too.

One thing that I've found incredibly helpful is to track my workouts and calories/nutrients.  I'm using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone and it's really easy to use.  I entered my current weight, my goal weight and how much I want to lose each week - it then determines, based on my activity level, what my calorie intake should be per day.  It's a great tool and is helping me to keep on track.  Oh, and it's free!

Week 1:  No weight loss to report.  Sad, but true.  However, I feel more energetic than I've felt in a long time.  To me, that makes the fact that I haven't lost weight kinda okay.

My workouts:
Friday -
30 minutes of cardio on the stationary bike
25 minutes of weight training

Saturday -
45 minutes of cardio, including walking and stationary bike

Monday -
76 minutes of cardio, including jogging, stationary bike and walking
25 minutes of weight training

I have a 5:30 date at the gym tomorrow morning.  Hopefully Joel can motivate me (*ahem* push me out of bed) when the alarm goes off.

Friday, November 11, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In: Veterans Day Edition

First off, a very happy Veterans Day to all of those who served our great country.  I'll admit that this day had very little meaning to me until I married Joel and began to understand who a veteran really is and how treasured they are.  I am beyond proud to not only be married to a veteran but to have so many in my life that I can call friend.  We are all better because of what they have done and continue to do for us - with complete dedication, focus and sacrifice.

Hop on over to Wife of a Sailor to read what other military spouses had to say.

1.Freedom is never truly understoodd until it is taken away .

2.Veterans are quietly dedicated to a cause not many of us really understand.  They are sacrificial, self-less, loyal and one of our country's greatest treasures .

3.This country is the only country I ever want to live in .

4.Veteran’s Day means that we all have an opportunity to give back to those who have given us the most, and if anything, just say thanks .

5.A hero is someone who is so dedicated to the cause that they will put themselves on the line to fight for it, no matter what the cost .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In: Oh, Hello Again!

Yeah.  It's been a really long time since I did a Wednesday Weigh-In post.  If you're new to my blog, I used to do a weekly post to track my weight loss, exercise and healthy eating.  I did it while Joel was in Iraq last year and lost nearly 30 pounds during his 7-month deployment.  The posts pretty much stopped once he came home, mostly because I stopped working out regularly, starting snacking at night and started making more stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals.

So although I was beyond thrilled to have my husband home, I pretty much lost track of my new healthy lifestyle.  It happens, right?

I have worked out off-and on since he came home.  But not at all regularly.  And because of that and my new-found love of nachos, I put on about 10 pounds.

Right now, Joel and I are beginning to talk about baby #3.  We don't have a timeline or anything in place, but I know before I am really ready to get pregnant again, I want to lose about 10-15 pounds.  Mostly because I want to have less weight to lose post-baby and also because I just want to be in a really healthy place before I get pregnant again.

And that is why I'm back with my Wednesday Weigh-In posts.  I'm ready to get back on track and I hope that sharing with you all my highs and lows, that I'll have some accountability.

I got a membership to the Y this week and I have a friend who's going to go with me to workout.  Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Things to Smile About: October

Hop on over to EmmyMom and join in on the fun!

1.  I'm so happy that the new TV season is here and there are some really good new shows out there.  I'm loving New Girl on Fox, Once Upon a Time on ABC and Fox's The X Factor.

2.  Fall colors... seriously, I love this season and our neighborhood is lit up with every shade of red, orange and yellow.

3.  Date nights.  Joel and I went with some friends of ours to a Third Day concert.  We had so much fun... I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

4.  Autumn is walking!  Oh, and she's getting into everything, but she's so stinkin' cute that it kinda makes up for the disasters she leaves behind.

5.  Hummus.  I love the stuff.

6.  The New Testament.  A friend and I are reading through the NT this month - picking out the different names of God.  Even though I just finished reading through the whole Bible this summer, I've loved reading 15-20 chapters a day and having some accountability with it.

7.  Family time with trains.  Joel and I joined another family and took our kids to a local train historical society.  We got to check out a bunch of cool stuff and ride a caboose.  The girls had so much fun... and Joel did, too.  Of course.

8.  Praying friends.  A few friends and I started to get together this month for prayer and accountability.  It's so nice to know that there are those who love you and are praying for you daily.  It helps me to keep perspective when I'm lifting others in prayer.

9.  Financial progress.  As Joel and I continue on our path toward financial freedom, we are so relieved to have a solid budget, so when life happens, we don't get anxious.

10.  Halloween = kid cuteness.  I mean, seriously.  These two are beyond cute.  And it being Autumn's first year trick-or-treating, she picked up on the concept immediately.  Now we'll have to train her not to take candy for strangers.... until next year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor!

1.The best part of October was connecting with so many wonderful friends, drinking tons of Starbucks and seeing Autumn walk .

2.The worst part of October was all of us taking turns with a nasty cold and paying over $1000 to fix the damage our neighbor's tree did to our property .

3.For Halloween, I’ll be a Mom Trick-or-Treating with a really sweet fairy and a super cute watermelon.  I'll also be helping myself to a few Twizzlers along the way .

4.I hope that in November I can make a bunch of pumpkin recipes, get up our Christmas decorations early and get a good start on Christmas shopping.... oh, and that we'll get a great snowfall.

5.Wifey has posted MilSpouse Secret Santa. I will not be participating.

Source: None via Jill on Pinterest

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Man on the Corner

Today I had a conversation with a man I will never forget.  His name is Michael and I noticed him sitting in a wheelchair at an intersection near Grace's school.  After I picked up Grace and got ready to head home, I saw a sign taped to the back of his wheelchair.  It read "Disabled Veteran".  I drove off with the girls in the back of the car and knew I needed to turn around and talk with him. 

So, I drove around the block and pulled into a nearby parking lot.  For a few minutes we chatted.  Michael is disabled - his left leg is amputated.  He is an Army veteran and having a tough time in life.  I gave him what little cash I had on me, but I know it won't solve any of his real needs.  He seemed lonely - eager to talk to somebody.  Eager to share a bit of his story.

I don't know where he's at in life... I don't know if he has a family or any friends.  I don't know where he lives or if he has a home.  These are all things I wish I had asked.  I told him "thank you"... whatever that may mean to him, I don't know.

After ending our chat and saying goodbye, I drove home with the girls.  I was shaken.  I cried when I got home.  War changed Michael as it does all of our men and women in uniform.  His life is forever changed.  And now he has one leg, a wheelchair, and is in need of money and companionship.

It's no surprise that I have a heart for veterans.  I'm proud to be married to one and am happy to know so many.  But there seems to be a great divide - something that is lost and broken after they come home.  We forget to say "thank you", we forget to check in.  Fortunately, many veterans have a good support system.  But obviously many do not.  Too many are left behind after they've served.  I believe progress is being made, but it's too slow and not enough.

Veterans Day is a few weeks away.  I hope that we can all find a way to practically thank a veteran and let them know that we don't take them for granted and we won't forget what they've done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

This post should have been quick & easy.  But in normal Jill-fashion, I completely over-thought it.  So I erased all of that and went with my gut for each answer.  Hop over to and join in this week!

1.I want another baby.  There, I said it.  I'm ready, but we're waiting on the right time.  And that time, my friends, is not now.

2.I have a laundry basket full of clean, folded clothes just sitting in front of my dresser hoping that someone will put them away.  Anyone?

3.I wish a million dollars would drop in our laps so Joel could quit his 2nd job, we could pay off all our debt and I could buy a Land Rover.  Now we don't need a million to do all of that, but I'm just putting it out there .

4.I hope that I will see a cure/successful treatment for severe peanut allergies in my lifetime .

5.I wonder what our life will be like, one year from now, when we are hopefully nearly debt-free .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Wit: Listening

Over the past few months, I've noticed that I've had to repeat myself constantly to Grace.  After school on Friday, I was literally repeating everything I said at least 2-3 times.  So, I finally told her (with complete honesty) that I was considering taking her to the doctor to get her hearing checked.  She didn't say anything about it... I thought maybe she simply didn't hear me.  HA!

Well, on Sunday at lunch, out of nowhere, she says, "Mommy, I can hear you when you talk to me.  I don't have a hearing problem.  It's just that I don't want to hear what you say."

And then today she tells me that she can hear her teacher at school just fine, it's me that she can't/won't hear.

Thanks, Grace.  Yet one more person who tunes me out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Feather & New Color

I don't know about you, but I love to get my hair done.  Fortunately, Joel hasn't limited my salon visits with the new family budget.  So, on Monday, I spent 3 hours with my dear friend, Kelly.  I said goodbye to the feather hair extension I've had for the last 2 months and darkened up a bit for fall.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Financial Freedom Journey: A Look at September

Last month, Joel and I began our journey toward financial freedom.  You can read more about our plan to become debt-free here.

Our biggest adjustment was going to to a cash system. I take $250 out every two weeks - $200 of that goes toward groceries and $50 is what we call walking around money.  I manged pretty well with just $100 per week in grocery money.  I forced myself to go through my freezer and pantry and start to use up things that, for some reason, I've been storing away.  I've realized that I'm a bit of a food hoarder - I like to stock up on things when they're on sale and then I forget they're there.  So we have a full pantry and freezer that has fed us well.

Right now, I'm still trying to figure out how to budget for household goods - toilet paper, toothpaste and laundry detergent or absolute necessities but they add up fast and are eating into our grocery budget.  Two days before the end of the month, we had 1 roll of toilet paper in our bathroom and I literally had $1 in my wallet.  I ran out and stocked up -  putting it on my Debit.  But I need to figure out a way to avoid that this month.

I'm also having to adjust my shopping habit.  Joel and I both get $100 each month to do with as we like.  At the end of September, I still had quite a bit left... mostly because I was afraid to spend it just in case I came across a pair of boots that I couldn't live without.  But I have to admit that it has been hard on me to have to be limited while I'm shopping.  I like clothes, makeup, shoes, accessories and purses. Actually, I love them.  And when I see something I like, I just get it.  And that's probably why we're financially behind and having to make this big life change.  I'm a shopper and I don't like to be limited.

So instead of shopping, I've been going on walks, taking the girls to the library and reading. Those things have been fun but I do feel like I have shopping withdrawals right now.

September was also a great month for Joel and I as a couple.  It's a good feeling to know we are on the same page with our finances and our future.  We still have some things to work out.  Those things will come in time though.  And I'm sure it'll get easier as we learn more through this process.

So, one month down and a little bit less in debt.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

10 Things to Smile About

I've been wanting to join Emmy Mom, in doing her monthly blog post "Ten Things to Smile About".  I love reading hers each month and I thought it was finally time to join in and share with you what things I've loved from September.

1.  Kids who keep learning & growing -
and one who recently discovered how to use our copy machine.  Oh, Autumn...

2.  Starbucks coffee.  I love when the new coffees come out in the fall and winter -
right now I'm loving the Salted Carmel Mocha.

3.  Happy kids in cars.

4.  Pinterest  I received an invite a few weeks ago and am hooked.  Do you Pinterest?

5.  The start toward financial freedom!

6.  Joel's Birthday.  Not only was he in-country this year, but I pulled off
a surprise party for him.

7.  Along with a birthday comes cake.  I love cake and
I'm thrilled that Joel's as crazy about chocolate cake as I am.

8.  Cooler temps.  I adore fall - especially those perfectly crisp days.

9.  For those of you have been with me for a while, you know I'm a major beauty junkie. 
Yesterday I picked up a new Chanel foundation that I'm loving. 
And since I returned some product I wasn't loving, I didn't pay a cent for it. 

10.  Happy kids!

Friday, September 23, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Another fill-in-the-blank week brought to you by Wife of a Sailor.  Join the fun!

1.My favorite thing that happened this week was being able to have 2 lunch dates with dear friends.

2.Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll wonder what gross person dropped the penny and what germs came along with it.

3.Autumn is officially here and my favorite part of the season is the trees changing colors.  (I love fall so much, I named my daughter Autumn!)

4.One of the things I’d like to do before winter arrives is paint my purple front door blue (please, honey!!!).

5.I –would/would not/might– be willing to participate in MilSpouse Secret Santa. (No offense, Wife of a Sailor - I think it's a lovely idea...  we're just on a super strict budget right now.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MilSpouse Education Opportunities

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Martinsburg Institute for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I graduated college in 2003, I decided that I was "done" with school.  I was worn out and exhausted and just wanted to work.  Then in 2006, I left my job so that I could stay home with Grace and be a full-time mom.  It was a hard decision to leave a job I loved, but I felt, as a military spouse, that Grace needed me home in order to provide her some security while Joel was deployed or away for training.  Well, in her 5 years of life, Joel's been deployed overseas 3 times - so I'm glad that I made the decision to stay home with her.

Over the years, though, I've been wanting to go back to school.  But I haven't decided whether I want a Master's Degree or just to go back for some additional training and education that will benefit my career down the line.

But it's hard with 2 kids, a house to run and a husband who seems to deploy all the time.  We live a unique life - full of constant changes.  And a lot of the time we are single parents.  I'm not aware of any education programs geared toward "us" - military spouses.  Until now...

Recently I discovered a school geared toward education for military spouses, service members and veterans - programs created for our unique lifestyle.  The Martinsburg Institute offers distance learning courses for those in our never predictable but always-exciting lifestyle.

Currently they offer programs in Medical Billing and Coding, Electronic Health Records, Human Resources, Financial Management and Accounting, Business Communications, Project Management, Medical Transcription and more!  These programs are so practical and can be used anywhere - and our lifestyle requires job flexibility!  Personally, I'm interested in the Financial Management and Accounting - I think it would go well with my background in Public Relations and Healthcare Sales.  And especially as we work to become debt free, classes in financial management would be so valuable.

Right now, there is $4000 in grants available with MyCAA.  So this would be a great time for you to look into how Martinsburg Institute can help you further your education.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Financial Bumps

I wrote earlier this month about mine and Joel's plan to become debt-free.  We've only been going by our new budget for a few weeks now and have already seen huge progress.  I'll blog more about that at the end of the month to recap things.

But isn't it just like life to throw a wrench in your game-plan?  At the end of August, as we were gearing-up to our new live-like-we-have-no-money lifestyle, a chunk of our neighbors tree fell on our fence and my car.  And because it was an act-of-God and not our neighbor's fault, it goes against our insurance.  Now, I cannot even begin to tell you about the amount of homeowners claims we've had or how many times my poor car has been in the body shop.  So, this is an old story for us.

So, as we're working toward financial freedom, life happens, and it puts a major kink in our plans.  Normally this would get us down and it would really bother us... Why does it seem like life is against us sometimes?

But I have to tell you, even though we're bummed that we're going to have to pay some deductibles and some out-of-pocket expenses for this, we are beyond grateful to be in a position that we can pay for these things.  Yeah, I'd rather be paying down debt.  But we created our new budget so we could take a "hit" from life and not have to worry if we'll be able to pay our bills.

We feel blessed - even with a few financial bumps at the start of this journey.

Source: via Jill on Pinterest

Wordless Wednesday - Laundry

Friday, September 16, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's still Friday... so I can still participate with Wife of a Sailor, even if it's later than normal for me.

1.Right now, our weather is in the high 50s and overcast, but what I’d really like is a whole lot more sun out there and some fall colors on the trees.

2.I like to let my hair down and sing in the kitchen as I do my housewife-thing.

3.Mommy Rambles made a post about heroes… my hero is my father, because throughout his life he has always lived with such integrity, grace and strength.

4.It’s a weird combination, but I swear salt and pizza are a perfect pair!

5.Some may see the glass half empty and others may see it half full, but I can't see how full it is because my coffee's well hidden inside a Starbucks cup.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Right now, as I type, my husband is running around base - getting a few last signatures to finalize his AGR job.  I felt like buying balloons and streamers to decorate the house because I'm so unbelievably excited for our future and so proud of him.

We've waited 8 years for today.  There have been lots of tears (on my part), frustration, anxiety and a heavy sense of uncertainty. 

Today feels like a fresh start.... everything is flowers and rainbows to me right now.

Source: via Jill on Pinterest

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Jouney Toward Financial Freedom

I mentioned earlier this week that Joel got an AGR job at our local base.  Not only is this a great pat-on-the back for him, but it's a huge boost for our family's financial stability.  During the last 8 years, we have probably gone through nearly $20,000 of our savings during periods of unemployment.  We are thankful that we had that money to rely on, but going through that much hasn't allowed us to move forward.

As of September 1st, Joel and I started on our journey toward financial freedom.  Our goal is in the next 18 months, to be debt free.  And by debt free, we mean paying off all debt besides our mortgage.  We now know how much is coming in each month and we can finally count on that income.  Now we need to make that money work for us and begin to make forward progress.

So, as of the first of this month, we are living like we are broke.  Or close to it.

Here are some of the changes we have made:

Allowances - Joel and I each get $100 at the beginning of the month to do as we like with.  So, if there's a big-ticket item we want (*ahem* a new Micahel Kors purse), we will have to save up for it.

Walking around with cash - I am taking out $400 in cash per month for groceries & $100 in cash per month for walking around money (ie fast food, trips to Target, Starbucks, etc.)  Once the cash is gone, it's gone.

No Cards allowed without permission - First of all, credit cards are off-limits.  No exception.  The only card we are allowed to use is our Debit, which comes directly out of our checking account.  The Debit can be used for things like filling the cars with gas or picking up a prescription.  Any other purchases on the Debit card has to be cleared with the other spouse.

Total honesty - Have you ever heard of financial infidelity?  Well, it's a huge problem, and I have to admit to being unfaithful financially.  But there's something to be said about letting your spouse know all of you, even your mistakes.  Joel and I have sat down and shown each other all of our "numbers".  Everything is out in the open.... and it feels unbelievable!  What a relief.

Loving communication - Discussing money with your spouse can be hard.  It's been hard for us.  But we've made a rule that we can discuss it with "safety".  It's a topic that has to be talked about, and you have to be able to discuss it knowing that you can be honest and that the other person is going to still love you at the end of it.  It hasn't been fun to discuss it, and it can get heated.  But we continue to remind each other that we're working toward the same goal.  And in the end, it'll be worth it.

It feels good to get this out there.  I can't wait to share our progress with you all.  I'm sure we will make mistakes along the way, and I'll share those, too. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First "Sick" Day

Grace is into her 3rd week of Kindergarten.  Less than 2 minutes after I came in from dropping her off, I get a call this morning, that Grace is complaining of a headache and is inconsolable.  Her kindergarten teacher said "I think you should just bring her home". 

So, I got back into the car, wondering why Grace would possibly start feeling sick... or why she would say she felt sick.  I just dropped her off and she was in good spirits.  Her only complaint was that there would be pineapple at lunch.  I know the adjustment from home full-time, to being at school all day has been hard.  She's tired.  She's whiny.  But she loves school.  So I prayed for wisdom and picked her up.

Right away, on our way back, she tells me that she feels fine but she just wanted to be home with me today.  I figured as much.  I tried to explain to her, as my mother did to me when I was young, that school is her job.  Just like Daddy has to go to work each day, she has to report to school and be a good student. 

We had a little chat when we got home - that today wasn't a play day.  We cuddled together in bed this morning and took a nap and she seemed to do better after that.

What do I do?  I know she needs more time with Joel and I.  So we'll make that happen.  But this can't be a habit.  She has to go to school.  She's going to private school - we're paying for private school.  Help!  What's a momma to do?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Thanksgivings

Happy Labor Day, everyone.  Joel thinks it's a bogus holiday, and I kinda agree.  But today got me thinking...

Through our last 8 years of marriage, Joel has never had a job we could really count on.  He's been more-or-less activated the entire time, but there have been many times that he's been off of orders and we've had to rely on our savings to get by. 

We've prayed a lot these last 8 years that God would provide a job and give us stability.  We've had many moments of anxiety.  We've worried too much.  But we've never gone without.  Our bills have always been paid and there's always been money in the bank.

Even though we've struggled in this area, God has always provided.  We've tried keep faith.  We've tried to live simply - although not always - not knowing what would happen 6 months down the road.

A few weeks ago, Joel got great news - he got an AGR job on base.  This means stable work - until he retires.  It also means that we can stay where we are and not have to go the active duty route.  Oh, and it also means he gets to do what he loves to do.

We are so blessed.  And relieved.  We can finally breathe a little easier and start planning for our future.

Friday, September 2, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor for another fun fill-in-the-blank Friday!

1.My plans for this weekend include sleeping in tomorrow, going to church, bbqing and relaxing with just the 4 of us, but what I’d really like to do is .... I don't know, right now our plans seem pretty perfect.

2.I consider the Labor Day holiday an end to summer and bittersweet start to the routine of school.

3.My favorite meal for cookouts is BBQ chicken, BBQ shrimp, steaks, potatoes on the grill , sweet tea and some sort of pie, but my scale wouldn’t agree.

4.So far, my favorite part of summer has been spending time with those I love... my wonderful family and friends.

5.When it comes to deployments, my philosophy is to be honest with yourself, be real with others, support your spouse and press on.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Two Weeks In

Grace is now into her 2nd week of Kindergarten.  My baby is now away from home for 7 hours a day.  She is learning. laughing, growing, exploring and changing. 

It's hard for a parent sometimes to let your little ones let go of your hand and explore life on their own.  It's our job, though. 

On Grace's first day of school, Joel had to tell me it was time to leave her classroom.  It was difficult to walk away - not knowing if she'd be sad that we were leaving and not knowing how the rest of her day would go.  I did cry a bit- no surprise there.  But I can't even tell you how thrilling it was to pick her up later that day and see how excited and happy she was about her first day of school.

So, for 7 hours a day, our little Gracie is on her own adventure.  She loves school.  She loves to learn.  And every day, I cannot wait to go and pick her up.  I cannot wait to hear all that's she's done.

Friday, August 26, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Having fun filling-in-the blank with Wife of a Sailor today!

1.The first thing I think of when I get up in the morning is check my messages on my phone.
2.Lately, I’ve been craving nachos because carbs loaded with cheese is just plain awesome.

3.Whenever anyone says the word tornado, it reminds me of my childhood because my hometown was torn-up by a tornado when I was young and I will never look at storms the same.

4.The happiest word I know is shish kabob, but it's actually two words.

5.My spouse may hate it, but I absolutely love sharing meals at a restaurant - he gets one thing and I get another - 2 meals in one.  But Joel never lets me do it.
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's fill-in-the-blank week with Wife of a Sailor.  So easy and fun!

1.My spouse and I rarely agree on the amount for my clothing/shoe/purse/accessories/makeup allowance, but always agree on pizza night.

2.If I could use one word to sum up the way I feel right now, it would be achy.

3.One of the things my spouse does that grosses me out is leaving fingernail & toenail clippings "around".

4.My readers may think I’m crazy for doing this, but I really love to mop floors with my Bissell steam mop.

5.Frankly, my dear, I don’t care if you want to recline your seat in front of me on the plane when I have a child on my lap.... I will let them kick you and I won't feel bad about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Autumn Lovin'

Seriously, this child is beyond cute. 

Just thought I would share her with you today!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Baby Question

After you're married for about a year, everyone starts asking when you and your husband are going to have a baby.  Everyone wants to know.

And then you have a baby and everyone seems happy with that.

Until that baby is about 1 1/2 and then everyone starts asking when you're going to have another baby.

Well, Autumn is nearing that age.  She's apparently old enough to need/want a younger sibling.

So, everyone's been asking.

I don't usually mind.  But sometimes the question just feels like more pressure.

So here it is:  Yes.  We would like more kids.  Maybe 1 or 2.

But now just isn't the right time.  We are trying to be smart about everything and make sure life is in order.  As much as life can be in order.

Don't worry.  We will tell you when the time is right.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bible in 90 Days: Final Reading Schedule

This is a bittersweet post.  Just about 14 weeks ago, we started our adventure of reading the Bible together in 90 days.  It's hard to think that it's nearly over now.

As I look back at what we've read this past week, the theme of Christian growth continued to come to mind.  The Old Testament is full of reminders of God's desire for holiness, His disdain for sin and His will to be in a relationship with His people.  The New Testament starts out by clearly offering a means to holiness (sanctification) and redemption of our sins through Christ's death.  These two things (sanctification and redemption) offer us a relationship with God.  But it doesn't stop there.

Most of the remainder of the New Testament talks about Christian growth and maturity.  The process for us doesn't (and shouldn't) stop at the time that we confess our sins and accept Christ's salvation.  Our life as a Christian only starts there.  The journey from that point is to know Christ, study His Word, live in faith, live a life of works because of our faith and yearn to grow each day to become more like Christ.  The Christian life has to be about growth - growth naturally springs forth from redemption.

I'm sure we all know Christians who are stunted in their Christian life.  They are not growing.  There faith almost seems dead.  There are also a lot of Christians who are all-too content to continue to be fed "soft food".  They don't want to dig into the Word.  They don't want to deal with the ongoing sin in their lives.  Maybe they're intimidated by what we call theology.  They are content to just be.

But that is not at all what Christ wants for us.  And that's not what I want my life to be. 

"Put on them, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him.   - Colossians 3:12-17

Tomorrow's reading schedule:

Day 90, Monday, August 8th
Revelations 18:1 - Revelations 22:21

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where Do You Nap?

What do you do when you're 5 years old, you don't want to take a nap and you don't want to be in your room?  Oh, and you're really tired but won't admit it.


Oh, and don't worry.  I had that very important don't-sleep-on-the-stairs-or-you-may-fall-off-the-stairs conversation.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Proud Mommy Moments: Singing Sisters

Every night, Grace goes to bed with her CD player on.  She listened to Christmas music through June (when Mommy took away the Christmas CD's)...  but right now Grace is listening to Christian kids praise music.  The CD player is on all night, and I can't tell you how many times I just want to turn that thing off.  But she loves it - so it stays on.

Most mornings, Grace ends up in Autumn's room while I struggle to get out of bed.  Sometimes they throw toys at each other, but most often, Grace ends up singing songs to Autumn.  Usually Grace just makes songs up and Autumn claps along.  But last week, I woke up to the sound of Grace singing praise music to Autumn.  I can't remember what song it was, but Grace knew all the words.  And Autumn loved it.

I hope that in 10, 20 or even 30 years from now, those songs, specifically those words are still on my little girl's heart.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bible in 90 Days: Week 13 Schedule

I wasn't sure how I would enjoy reading through all four gospels, one right after the other.  I thought it may be redundant after the second.  But, fortunately, I didn't find that at all.  I really enjoyed it and was given a fresh perspective about Who Christ was and is today.  Of the four gospels, I think John moved my heart the most.  John's account of Christ's life, death and resurrection is different than the others.  Not only does it include more stories about the life of Christ, but the tone of it is entirely different than Matthew, Mark and Luke.

If you ever wondered who Christ was, claimed to be and came to do, John provides those answers!  Many say that Christ was a good person, a leader, a teacher, a wise man or a prophet.  But you cannot read the account of Jesus' life in John (or any of the other gospels, really), and hold to that.  The book even starts out by saying the Jesus and God are one.  They are the same.  And then Christ himself makes six "I Am" statements throughout John's account:
  1. I am the bread of life
  2. I am the light of the world
  3. I am the door of the sheep
  4. I am the good shepherd
  5. I am the resurrection and the life
  6. I am the way, the truth and the life
  7. I am the true
Did something stand out to you this week as you finished the gospels and read through Acts?

We are almost done with our adventure through the Bible together this summer.  After this week, we will only have one more day of reading.  Now, I know some of you are behind.  And that's ok.  I'd recommend that you see if you can plan it out so that you will finish by the end of next week.

Here is this week's schedule:

Day 83, Monday, August 1st
Romans 15:1 - I Corinthians 14:40

Day 84, Tuesday, August 2nd
I Corinthians 15:1 - Galatians 3:25

Day 85, Wednesday, August 3rd
Galatians 3:26 - Colossians 4:18

Day 86, Thursday, August 4th
I Thessalonians 1:1 - Philemon 25

Day 87, Friday, August 5th
Hebrews 1:1 - James 3:12

Day 88, Saturday, August 6th
James 3:13 - 3 John 14

Day 89, Sunday, August 7th
Jude 1 - Revelations 17:18

Friday, July 29, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

This week, Wife of a Sailor has us doing "or's".... so here is mine.

1.Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook.  Every once in a while, I'll check on someone's Twitter, tweets, whatever they're called; but I feel like I get more out of what people have to say on Facebook.  And I'm totally addicted to Facebook!  Any one else ready to admit it with me?

2.Hard Tacos or Soft Tacos?
Soft Tacos.  Hard tacos are messy. Once you take a bite, you instantly have parts of the shell as well as the filling on you.  I like that soft tacos neatly pack away all the goodness!

3.Gardening or crafting?
Gardening.  I often say to my crafty friends that I like to buy crafts, not make them.  I'm not artistic and I'm not handy, oh, and I hate messes.  So crafts just aren't my thing.  But I really appreciate those who are crafty, because I can use them when I need them.

4.Fruit or vegetables?
Honestly, I love both.  But I eat a lot more fruits than veggies.  I love the summer, especially when the raspberries are ripe.

5.Motorcycle or bicycle?
Bicycle.  Simply because they're safer.  I rode on a motorcycle with someone in college - and honestly they were probably the safest rider out there, but I was still not comfortable.  About 8 years ago, I so a motorcyclist hit a curb and fly off his bike onto the sidewalk.  I'll never forget it.  And my girls are never going to ride.  Ever.  Sorry Grace (she wants one).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Wit

During snack time today...

Grace:  Mom, I'm still hungry.
Me:  OK, what else would you like?
Grace:  Do you have a menu?
Me:  (laughing hysterically)  I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

8 Years

Eight years ago, I married my best friend.  These eight years have been full of challenge, growth, love and a deeper appreciation for one another.  I'm so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bible in 90 Days: Week 12 Schedule

As of today, we've read through most of the Gospels.  It has been so neat to read through the Gospels - one right after the other.  It's certainly helped to cement some of the parables into my memory!

So, what has struck you most by reading through Matthew, Mark and most of Luke this past week?  Have you noticed any themes that struck you?

One things that stood out for me, was how many times Christ talked about faith.  As much as Christ taught about Himself, God' purposes and what is right, He taught a lot about faith.  There are numerous passages this past week where Christ directly deals with the issue of faith:
Matthew 8:10, Matthew 9:12, Matthew 9:22, Matthew 9:22, Matthew 15:28, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 23:23, Mark 2:5, Mark 4:40, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:9, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:25, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:5, Luke 17:6, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:18 and Luke 18:24.

Christ taught about faith.  He loved those who had faith.  He healed those who had faith.  He wants us to have faith.  He saves those with faith. And He wants us to grow in our faith.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen."
- Hebrews 11:1

Here is this week's schedule:

Day 76, Monday, July 25th
Luke 20:20 - John 5:47

Day 77, Tuesday, July 26th
Grace Day

Day 78, Wednesday, July 27th
John 6:1 - John 15:17

Day 79, Thursday, July 28th
John 15:18 - Acts 6:7

Day 80, Friday, July 29th
Acts 6:8 - Acts 16:37

Day 81, Saturday, July 30th
Acts 16:38 - Acts 28:16

Day 82, Sunday, July 31st
Acts 28:17 - Romans 14:23

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bible in 90 Days: The Old Testament

I was a bit shocked to turn the page in my Bible on Monday and realize that we were in Matthew.  When we started this journey 71 days ago, I had the attitude on Day 1 that I couldn't wait for the New Testament reading to begin.  Initially, I wasn't looking forward to reading through the Old Testament.  But soon I became immersed in the stories of God and His people - their journey together.

Now that we're in Matthew, I'm still going back in my head to the truths of God that the Old Testament reveals.  It's so obvious to me that in order to be a healthy Christian, you have to be rooted in the God of the Old Testament... because He's the same God of the New Testament.  I've often thought (and said) that the God of the Old Testament seemed distant and harsh to me.  But I can firmly say that I no longer believe that.

Some things that I learned about God through our Old Testament reading....

  • He wants genuine relationships with us
  • He loves through discipline
  • He cannot stand sin
  • He requires holiness
  • He offers a way to holiness
  • His plan is perfect
  • His heart is hurt, like a father, when we walk away from Him
  • His love for us is at the center of all that he does
  • He is always in control, even when things seem chaotic
  • He is just
  • He knows our heart and desires it
  • He created perfectly
  • God works through us, even with our imperfections
  • He desires our praise
  • He desires our heart
  • He can use our failures
  • His love never fails
  • His love never ends
  • His Word is life
For those of you who are Christians, especially those who have been saved for a long time, these truths are not ground-breaking.  They are truths about God loved by His people.  And although we may know them in our mind, too often we do not know them in our heart.  We do not always live like we believe them.

I've learned that it is easy to be academic in our understanding of God.  But that gets us no where.  And God doesn't want that.  The last 71 days have been heart-changing for me, and I pray that they've been that way for you, too!