Exciting Week!

Wow! My head is spinning!

I recently decided that I needed to start earning some of my own money if I’m going to continue to stay at home and educate my children. Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling, single mom without any income just isn’t going to cut it anymore. But entering the workforce isn’t an option if I’m determined to keep my children at home…

Dream Catcher

So a few months ago I put myself on the waiting list for a new direct selling company named Origami Owl. The wait list was long and I anticipated the wait would be longer than I wanted. And I wanted to start earning money as soon as I could… So I started trying to find other options. I liked the Flexi Clip that I got for Diva, so I thought about joining Lilla Rose. It took me a little while, but I found a consultant I liked and I signed up. I also started an etsy shop called MamaCre8s. I don’t have much in it right now, but I will be adding to it soon.

FB Timeline Cover 1

But here’s the crazy part… I started the etsy shop in the first week of January; a few days later I joined Lilla Rose. Then my number came up at Origami Owl! All of this happened within a few days of each other – Spinning Head, I tell ya!

Etched Cross

But I am excited! I really like all of these things and I am determined to earn some money to help me stay home with my babies. So, I know I don’t live near anyone who reads this little ole blog, but I’d be happy to do an online show for anyone’s who’s interested in either – or both – Origami Owl or Lilla Rose. Just let me know in the comments. You can also just go to my websites and take a look around without a show.

I am so grateful that there are options for moms like me! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way.

A Cooking Extravaganza {Review}

Doesn’t that title sound like what we are all going to be doing over the next month? At least that’s what it’s usually like for me! I like to cook and bake; but from Thanksgiving until the end of January; I’m doing a lot more! Why January? In my immediate family, we have three birthdays during the month; with a week between each. It’s a very busy ten weeks!

So, when I got this month’s Gabby Moms review package from Lorrie Flem at Eternal Encouragement, it was perfect timing. And now you can get the same package for yourself and your holiday needs; or as a Christmas gift for that special cook in your life.  This set includes seven ebooks and a signed, printed copy of What’s for Dinner, Mom? (If you recall, I got to review that one a few months ago & loved it!)

Here are the ebooks you will get with this package:

  • Bulk Cooking Tips and Tricks
  • Fill Em Up
  • Healthy Sanity Saving Breakfasts
  • Lorrie’s Favorite Recipes from 2011
  • Pizza Primer
  • Sensational Salads
  • The Secrets of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Don’t those sound inviting? They did to me. With a few simple recipes in basic categories anyone can be a successful cook! Then add in the print copy of What’s for Dinner, Mom? and you’re armed with an amazing arsenal of skills.

I love the Healthy Breakfasts ebook – only 10 pages, but jam-packed with a variety of morning ideas (though, truth-be-told I’d serve some of them for dinner too!). I had to chuckle at the last recipe though that’s called “Not So Healthy Granola Bars.”

The Fill Em Up ebook is full of great ideas to help keep those bellies feeling full, while stretching the budget.

I love the photographs in Lorrie’s Favorite recipes! They are very helpful when making a new recipe. I think my daughter would absolutely love the Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake!

These books are short, but sweet. They are approximately 7-13 pages each – the perfect size for someone who’s just starting out – or even for seasoned veterans!

Lorrie’s having a giveaway over at her blog – one lucky winner will receive this entire package! But if you can’t wait or don’t win this giveaway, you can purchase this set here.  If you are considering this recipe package as a Christmas gift, please place your order by December 12 to ensure timely delivery of the print book (the ebooks will be an instant download).

Disclaimer: I was provided with electronic copies of all of these ebooks in exchange for my honest review – all opinions are solely mine.

100th Post – Thanksgiving

I find it very appropriate that my 100th post will be one of gratitude. I’ve seen a few people posting alphabetic gratitude lists on FB each day, so I would like to do that here as well.

I am grateful for:

A: Asperger’s Syndrome

B: Board Games

C: Creativity

D: Diva

E: Eternal Life

F: Faith, Family, & Friends

G: God

H: Homeschooling

I: Ice Cream

J: Jesus

K: Kisses

L: LegoFan & Love

M: My Mother

N: New Chapters

O: Open Air

P: Photos & Photography

Q: Quality Time with my children

R: Restoration

S: Sunsets & Sunrises

T: Tradition

U: United States of America

V: Victories; small, medium, & large

W: Wisteria & Weeping Willows

X: eXcitement

Y: YOU

Z: Zestiness

Thank you for reading – for subscribing – for commenting!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Desire of My Heart

Something happened to me at Mass today…

…but it started last night.

I was talking with a friend who was describing a difficult situation. My heart cried a bit for this friend and all those involved. So I prayed.

There’s something I want. It is something extremely important to me. Have you ever wanted something so badly your heart ached for it? I’m not talking about something material. It’s not a new car or expensive jewelry. It’s not a new wardrobe or more furniture. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having these things, but they’re not a priority like this desire is.

But somewhere during mass today ~ I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened ~ my focus shifted. While I would still benefit directly from obtaining this desire, for the first time in a long time, I realized that I truly wanted this desire for the benefit of at least three other people. My heart now ached for my friend and a couple others. I truly found myself thinking about how it would benefit each of them more than I considered what it would do for me.

It was an amazing feeling! I returned from Communion with tears in my eyes. I knelt there, as I usually do, and offered prayers of Thanksgiving. I have my standard list of gratitude, but this time It. Was. Different.

It all held deeper meaning ~ All because of a shift in perspective.

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, perhaps we could use a shift in perspective. We can look at the gifts in our lives and see how they can benefit others. I do not believe that God blesses us with gifts just to hear us say “Thank you.” I do not believe that He blesses us with gifts so that we can keep them to ourselves. I do believe that He gives us our gifts to share them and to directly effect others in our lives.

So, whether or not God blesses me with this particular desire of my heart, I know that my heart is in the right place. I know that I am blessed.

Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Ps 16:11)

Autism Speaks Walk 2012

For anyone reading who does not know, my son is on the Autism Spectrum. Each year, for the past four years, we have participated in our annual Walk Now for Autism. This year we are blessed to be able to have the walk before Hurricane Sandy threatens the coast. It is supposed to be a beautiful fall day.

LegoFan is an incredible young man. Despite being born with, and developing more, food allergies; and having asthma, and Asperger’s and ADHD; he is the happiest kid I have ever met. He doesn’t let any of this get him down – he usually doesn’t use any of it as an excuse not to do something (ok, he sometimes uses his allergies as an excuse not to have to go outside and, instead, play the Wii…)

I homeschool him and Diva and I have seen him blossom over the last few years! Of course, there are challenges – he hates to write, rushes through his work, moves around constantly, and gets out massive amounts of Legos in between subjects. He even refuses to do certain things if they make him feel uncomfortable; but we work through those (and I usually end up with a little less hair…) and he tends to be successful in the end, no matter how long it takes to get there. He is incredibly smart – reads (when it’s something that interests him) at about a high school reading level, does math like a computer (when he slows down to pay attention), and understands scientific concepts that boggle my ancient mind. But he has to be interested in order to do this – sometimes I think that’s the most difficult part; finding a way to make something interesting to him.

So each day brings something new. I never know what’s going to happen on any given day; even if I have planned out the school day, the cleaning schedule, and the doctors’ appointments. I just never know when he’s going to find something interesting or uncomfortable. But thanks to efforts from groups like Autism Speaks, I am learning how to handle different situations as they arise. Autism Speaks provides so much help, research, and education to families like us all over the world.

I know things are tight all over the place right now, but if you want to help families affected by autism and you have the means, we would love for you to join our team with a donation directly to Autism Speaks – this link will take you to our Walk Now page. We hope you will take a moment to check it out and consider a donation.

Thank you from LegoFans and their families everywhere!

New Audio Series {Review}

For this month’s Gabby Moms post, we were blessed with the opportunity to review a brand new audio series that Mrs. Lorrie Flem is producing through her Eternal Encouragement site. I received a collection of audio recordings (mp3s) and a great pdf file that serves as a companion to them.

I loved having the companion. I used it as a way to reinforce what I was hearing through the audios. But I also thought that it would be something great to come back to after listening to the audios to make sure I had absorbed what I heard. I have found that I am a more visual person; listening to an audio, for me, doesn’t always cement the information into my brain. So I liked having the visual reminder of the pdf file to reinforce what I heard. For those people who are more auditory, using the pdf later can also serve as a great reminder.

Now on to the audios themselves… I liked hearing Lorrie’s voice on the audios. It made her more real; more like a friend offering advice and wisdom from personal experience. The titles I got to hear are titled: Centered and Sane (NEED that one!), Growing Gratitude, and How-Tos of Growing Gratitude. Before even listening to these I liked the fact that not only was Lorrie going to talk to me of the importance of gratitude; she was going to tell me how to do it. That’s important for me. I know that I sometimes read articles that tell me how to improve or enrich my life; and I like what they have to say, but they don’t tell me how to do it or how to get there.

Lorrie reminded me of the saying “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Motherhood can be like a carousel ride – up and down; around and around. We need sanity and gratitude in our lives in order to get the craziness and chaos to stop.

I loved that these audios are short and succinct. They didn’t take up a lot of this busy mom’s time, but really delivered. Lorrie spoke in such a loving and conversational tone, I felt like I was sitting across the table from her. She gave many practical tips on how to attain sanity as well as an attitude of gratitude. That’s what I needed – this ‘old dog’ needs someone to say “try it this way and see what happens.”

These audios were really relevant to my life right now. The life of a single parent is never easy. There is a lot of chaos in my life; I sometimes find it difficult to be grateful because so much seems to be going wrong.  Lorrie reminded me that this time could be a lot less difficult if I focused on that which is good in my life andremembered from Whom those blessings came.

The above picture illustrates a few of the blessings in my life:

  • Two beautiful children
  • The ability to homeschool
  • A place to live
  • Dishes in the dish drainer reminding me that we had food to eat
  • Books and games in the background reminding me that we have fun together

These wonderful audios will be available, starting November 1, 2010, at http://www.attentionmoms.com/

* I received an advanced copy of both the pdf file and the audios for this collection in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Managing My Minutes – A Review

This month’s Gabby Mom’s review was for Mrs. Lorrie Flem’s Managing My Minutes. Boy, this is something that hits home! I know this is an area of my life where I need some definite improvement!

There are days I end up at dinner time and wonder, “What did I get done today?” Now that doesn’t happen every day – thank goodness – but every once in a while is still too often. I need to learn how to better manage my time. Managing My Minutes just may help me to improve this part of my life – and maybe yours too!

Two things I loved about this was ‘asking for help’ and ‘giving God the glory’ – here’s where my sinful nature comes into play. I don’t like asking for help. I am getting better at asking for prayers; but asking for ~ and accepting ~ help is still very difficult for me. As for giving God the glory, I don’t have a problem with that; however, I am forgetful. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I forget where my help comes from in the first place; and then I forget to give credit where credit is due. I’m getting better, but Lorrie’s reminder is what I need sometimes.

I love how she weaves the story of Nehemiah through her book. It really helps to know that there’s someone else who’s traveled this road. I do not need to reinvent the wheel!  Being reminded of what Nehemiah did, and of his methods, helps to remind me that I am not alone in this – now that’s a good feeling!

Lorrie makes a really good case for implementing a schedule – even though it’s something I balk at using! I do have a basic home maintenance schedule; and I began making weekly schedules for the children’s schoolwork last year. Both are helpful. Perhaps it’s time to take the plunge and create a working schedule for the whole family.

How does your family plan or schedule its time?

“Managing My Minutes” is available here.

I was given an advanced copy as a member of the Gabby Moms team in exchange for my honest review.

Theme Songs

When I was pregnant with each of the children, I selected a song for each of them. I’m not sure what drove my decision to do this, but each song was personal to me at the time.  The interesting thing is that each song has turned out to represent them pretty well.

For LegoFan, I chose “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. There’s no way I could have known about his Asperger’s while pregnant; but I chose this song because I liked its message. I liked that it promoted keeping things simple; not chasing after the things of this world, and remembering God above. LegoFan is so simple in his love and his ways; and I don’t mean that to be a negative thing. He loves purely; and everything is matter-of-fact for him. He knows what he likes and that’s it; there’s no deterring him. He’s steadfast. He doesn’t care about dollar amounts or making things fair. He doesn’t seek out riches; and is not greedy. And his is a simple faith; yet it’s obviously there. He remembers the ‘rules’ and reminds us to pray. This is something I don’t take for granted. It is both a blessing and an accomplishment; and it makes this mother’s heart smile each time he reminds us that it’s time to pray.

Here’s the video:

And here are the lyrics:

Songwriters: VAN ZANT, RONNIE / ROSSINGTON, GARY ROBERT

 

(Gary Rossington – Ronnie VanZant)

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It’ll help you some sunny day. Oh Yah!
Oh, take your time… Don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
You’ll find a woman, yea yea, you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

(Chorus)
And be a simple, kind of man.
Oh be something, you love and understand.
Baby be a simple, kind of man.
Oh, won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust, for the rich man’s gold
All that you need, is in your soul,
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

(Chorus)

Boy, don’t you worry… you’ll find yourself.
Follow your heart, Lord, and nothing else.
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

(Chorus)

Baby be a simple, be a simple man.
Oh be something, you love and understand.
Baby be a simple, kind of man. (Fade out)

For Diva, I chose “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. I am amazed by her sense of wonder; and as the song says, I hope Diva never loses hers. She absolutely loves life and jumps right in. She smiles and asks questions. She sings and dances; and never seems to worry about what anyone else thinks. She loves God and the beautiful world He created.

Here’s the video – with lyrics:

 

I love how the children’s lives have reflected the songs chosen before their births – God is amazing!

The Other Day

I think I’ve figured out what bothered me the most about the other day ~ Intimacy.

For me, attending Mass is an intimate experience. I am there to praise and worship; to connect with Jesus and be filled by Him. It’s a special time to be shared; not an obligation.

So, attending Mass with a man who is technically “my husband” but who is actually living elsewhere and participating in an intimate relationship with another woman; is disconcerting to say the least. It should be a spiritually intimate experience; but it’s difficult to share any type of intimacy in this situation.

But this Mass was about love; ok, they all are. However, this one in particular was about Jesus’ love for His earthly mother. He loved her. He honored her. Mary’s life is one from which we can  learn a lot. She loved. She sat at the foot of the cross as her Son hung there dying. She held Him in her arms after He was taken down from that cross.

She prayed.

So I prayed. Admittedly, I prayed for my children and myself first. I know. I’m working on it. But I prayed for him too.

It was still a difficult experience; and I can’t say it actually helped at that moment. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t. God hears all prayers; so I know He heard mine. Praying for the person who has caused me so much pain was/is the right thing to do. It’s what Jesus Himself did. In fact, I borrowed His words:

Father forgive {him, he} knows not what {he} does.

I may never see the results of these prayers; but that’s not important. What’s important is that I pray them; and continue to pray them. For both of us. I believe it’s part of my path to forgiveness.

Please know that I don’t mention this  for my own glory. I am not seeking to be praised for my prayers for someone else.  The purpose behind me writing about my painful journey is twofold: to give God the glory and to help someone else who may find themselves in a similar situation. If my pain glorifies God; and possibly helps someone else, then it will be worth it.

Untitled – On Purpose

Today was a rough day. I didn’t blog about it, but I had a second foot surgery in six months a couple of weeks ago. I had gone back to the doctor wondering why I was still experiencing pain after February’s surgery. At first, the doc thought that the muscles and tendons were just taking a little longer than usual to heal. But then he felt it – another, relatively large, cyst. In fact, he ended up finding two more. He looked at me and said since it’s giving you so much pain, you know what we have to do… So I scheduled the surgery.

It was different this time. This time I had no illusions of any spousal support. He was gone and I was alone. With two children too young to care for themselves. Fortunately, my mother was able to come and help. I was even able to employ some of Lorrie’s Freezer meal techniques to ensure that there was some food in the freezer for those days she wasn’t able to be there. So, while not ideal, it was ok. God provided for my children and myself.

I was officially cleared to walk, with caution, on Monday. He told me I still had to take it easy so I didn’t overdue it; and so that the inside could continue to heal. I was also told that I could drive IF I could get a regular shoe on my foot. Well, I can’t do it yet without pain.

And that’s where today’s difficulties come in. Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in the Catholic Church. I know that there are some non-Catholic Christians who believe that we, as Catholics, worship Mary; especially with feasts like today. However, it really is as simple as this… Jesus grew up here on earth with the same commandments we were given; and following those commandments He honored His mother. And so, we follow His example and honor her too. It’s honor, not worship. But I don’t want to argue that point with anyone. The point is that I wanted to attend Mass with my children on this day that is special to us.

We had the option of attending Mass on Tuesday evening at our usual church a half hour away from the house; or tonight at our church or the church down the street. Going back to my doc’s rule, I tried to get a shoe on my foot. It wouldn’t go on. I was frustrated. Then my ex called and wanted to see the kids on Wednesday evening. I told him about church and the shoe not fitting; and he surprisingly said he was willing to to take us all to Mass and spend a little time with the kids afterwards. I was surprised, but hesitant.

So, if I wanted to attend Mass, I had to be humble and accept his help. I told him I’d accept, but I didn’t say ‘thank you’ fast enough and he yelled at me for my lack of gratitude. I immediately regretted accepting; but I had already told Diva, and she LOVES going to church. I was not going to disappoint her.

We went tonight; and it was difficult. The priest mentioned turning to your spouse for support during his homily. And here I was sitting near a man who is legally my husband, but who I know is going ‘home’ to another woman. I couldn’t stop the tears. I tried to wipe them before LegoFan saw them, but I was too late. It’s amazing to me that he seems completely out of touch with his and other people’s feelings; yet he is completely in touch with mine. He always knows. Always.

Breaks. My. Heart.

After Mass, he told the children that he was going to get them dessert and we went to Rita’s. They began to enjoy their dessert, but he rushed them and told them they could finish at home. As were getting out of the car, he took the kids up to the door and unlocked it. As I was getting my purse, his phone beeped. I looked at the screen. It. Was. Her.

So… He takes us to church and out for dessert. A strange, unsettling feeling.

Jesus, thank you for your love, and the strength to walk through this difficult time. I know you are by my side.