Monthly Archives: August 2013

Communication

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There seems to be a common trend in most troublesome situations.  Wherever problems occur 9 times out of 10 you can usually sum it up by saying “boy, that could have worked out differently if they’d have just talked about it”. I tend to be a bit of a mediator. At work, at home, and in life in general. Whenever a problem exists I always try to take a neutral stance, give my honest perspective, and encourage or guide communication so that a happy ending can be reached. For me communication is the only way to truly let people know how you feel, give them the opportunity to do the same, and to bridge gaps and create healthy relationships with others. It seems to happen occasionally though that in trying to have a conversation with someone they may jump to a conclusion or overreact only to sever the communication and create a problem where one didn’t exist.

This week my thoughts have been circling around this commonly experienced, though apparently not frequently discussed topic. So here’s my take from what I’ve learned:

Everyone makes mistakes and it’s important for both participants in a conversation to remember that no one is a saint. At the end of the day we are all only responsible for our own actions and reactions. We can’t force our thoughts, feelings or perspectives on others. Even when facing the same thing everyone has a different point of view of it. It is exactly the same in life. So naturally everyone will have a different perspective on things – even on a common subject. This is also true in how you yourself are seen. Despite how you may know yourself to be, plenty of people will come to know you as something totally different – some good and some bad – maybe because they haven’t taken the time to fully know and understand you, or perhaps because you haven’t taken the time to understand yourself. But if you are lead by the truth and for the good of things then you will better know the world and the world will better know you. You don’t have to live someone else’s truth – just your own. Make no excuses for the way you are but be an honest you. Only then can people truly understand you (at least the ones who want to). And the ones who don’t are probably not worth your time anyway.

Life doesn’t have to have so many blurred lines of communication. Being open about ourselves and accepting of our differences is key to letting people in and allowing people to truly understand you. Understanding and accepting each other and our differences is the only way to coexist. Coexisting requires understanding and understanding usually requires communication. Communication gives us the platform to be open and honest with one another and deepen our relationships. When disagreements, differences or any matters of significance arise, conversation is a beautiful thing because it shows trust, confidence and faith – Trust to approach a discussion with someone in the first place; Confidence in the ability to talk about something with that person; And Faith that a positive outcome is attainable. Never forsake the person who tries to have a conversation with you or you ultimately are destroying those three qualities they thought existed in your relationship. Most importantly you destroy their faith in you, their understanding of you, and who they believed you to be. Conversation gives people the opportunity to grow, to strengthen a bond, to heal or mend a tear and start anew.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to things. If you jump to conclusions right away or put your own spin on what you hear, you are only creating a disconnect in the end where there once was love and faith. In disagreements even if you disagree on many of the details, hearing someone out and then agreeing to disagree is still better than abandoning your love for that person for argument’s sake and ignoring what they are saying to you. There’s a saying that “If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn’t there”. This is so true.

So the best advice I can give on this topic is simply this: Communicate. And in conversation be a listener with an open mind and a contributor with an open heart. Have faith in those that clearly have confidence in you.

Communication is key in every relationship. Clear communication turns those blurred lines into deeper bonds.

Communication is key in every relationship. Clear communication turns those blurred lines into deeper bonds.

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Sweet Start

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Good morning!

Real life still life. Sunrise Apples & Oranges

Real life still life. Sunrise Apples & Oranges

The way the sun rose through the kitchen window and stretched across our fruit bowl this morning inspired me. These sunrise apples became part the breakfast menu – sauteed with homemade caramel sauce and french toast that was perfection.

It’s not every Saturday that daddy’s off and we get to sit down and enjoy breakfast as a family so I figured I’d make it a sweet start for my sweet hearts 🙂

Real life still life

Real life still life

Have a great weekend everyone! Make it count.

I Have A Dream

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Dr. King had a dream for equality and freedom for all. I don’t think his hope was for exceptions to rules or special considerations. Women and African Americans have never had more opportunity than they do today. I realize we have come a long way from slavery and inequality but we are far from ending racism, segregation and ignorance – especially when so many allow themselves to be handicapped by coalitions that exist simply to remind them of the color of their skin. If anything we have strengthened segregation and have shamed those that stood so long ago and fought against it. We are ALL different from one another. My grandparents were European immigrants and encountered plenty of discrimination when they arrived here. I have seen blacks endure discrimination and I have been discriminated against myself for being white. There are true disabilities in this world  but the last time I checked being a woman or being black wasn’t one of them. We live in a country where, regardless of your color, gender, age, religion, or where you grow up you can end up wherever you choose. We live in a land of opportunity and a land of choice. Ignorance is a choice that doesn’t depend on your color. Despite all of the many positive steps since his speech 50 years ago, I personally don’t think Dr. King would be completely pleased with where we are today and how many of his hopes have been led off course. As always, the trouble comes from our varied interpretations – in this case, of one man’s dream. If you want to do his legacy justice then arm yourself with knowledge and realize that the only person holding you back from anything in today’s day in age is yourself. Regardless of our skin color or gender, we all face adversity. I have a dream that one day we will all wake up and realize that we are people regardless of our differences and if you want something bad enough in this world, no one is able to keep you from getting it. That diversity won’t create adversity. Equality does not mean you are granted easy passage through life because of your race, gender, or any of your “flaws”. It does not mean that you will not encounter discrimination along the way. Equality means that despite it all you can still achieve the same greatness as anyone else if you work for it. Greatness exists in each of us and perseveres through negativity and discriminations faced along the way. #powertothepeople

And once we realize this then maybe diversity won't create such adversity.

And once we realize this then maybe diversity won’t create such adversity.

The VMA’s

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In other news, did anyone else watch the MTV Video Music Awards last night? The VMA’s are always a little weird but I was pretty excited about Justin Timberlake getting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award so I wanted to watch it. I heard he was reuniting with N’Sync but was never a huge fan of the group – I just love JT.  Every year I watch I’m usually entertained by the oddball antics that they are known for. From boa constrictor or raw meat costumes, interrupted speeches and whacky performances, it’s always kinda like you’ve entered the realm of some other strange planet. And they didn’t disappoint this year either. From the moment the show started I felt like I had a front row seat at the freak show. Just like every other year, MTV had another circus lineup.

After Miley’s horrible raunchy performance, goofy faces and trashy moves with weird props, I could only feel bad for Robin Thicke who had to endure it while performing with her. Poor Robin Thicke (who married his high school sweet heart, the gorgeous Paula Patton) getting grinded on by a cracked out, scrawny Teletubbie surrounded by mangy stuffed animals and a huge foam hand must have felt like he was trapped inside an acid-laced nightmare. Only Miley has let everyone know it’s not acid that’s her favorite but ecstasy. Unfortunately her whole performance was far from euphoria. Miley obviously had a bit too much “molly” before the show. It seems like she is trying all the wrong ways to show the world that she’s not a little Disney princess anymore. And yet her parents sit in the crowd and are so proud of her. Kinda makes you scratch your head and wonder where any of their heads are. It’s no wonder Liam Hemsworth tends to stay out of the public eye with her anymore. I feel like she’s one more bad performance away from becoming the next Lindsay Lohan / Britney Spears disaster.

Remix!…"La da di da di, too much molly for Miley. And you should stop. Cuz it's not hot. Leave the trashy to someone, give it back to Rihanna"

Remix!…”La da di da di, too much molly for Miley. And you should stop. Cuz it’s not hot. Leave the trashy to someone, give it back to Rihanna”

Then there was the token oddball performance by Kanye West and his voice synthesizer that I wonder if he’s had surgically implanted onto his body yet. I mean, does he ever perform without that thing anymore? Is he walking around the house talking to Kim K and baby Nori like that? It’s been done for so long now it’s just weird at this point.

The craziness that comes out at the VMA’s are always guaranteed to be a show. With all the characters in Brooklyn last night that they kept panning to with the cameras throughout the night I went to bed feeling like I had just watched a new Muppet movie. Between the personalities, dances, funny costumes, hair and just all around weirdness Jim Henson couldn’t have created it any better himself. Every time they cut to artists in the crowd dancing around in their seats I swear I kept looking for strings.

But the night wasn’t a total loss – The performance by Macklemore was great and Taylor Swift wasn’t giving one superficial giddy speech after another by winning everything all night, The “T” and “C” of TLC showed up since there’s going to be a TLC movie coming out soon, Jimmy Fallon was there and the stellar performance and award for Justin Timberlake redeemed the show. He absolutely killed it.

All hope was not lost...Some of the better parts of the night.

All hope was not lost…Some of the better parts of the night.

I just wonder how many showers Robin Thicke took before going to bed last night.

Poor Robin Thicke

Poor Robin Thicke

Maybe she'll do a song called "Ratchet" next

Maybe she’ll do a song called “Ratchet” next

Weeds

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Most weeds get branded so negatively. Have you ever stopped to really take in the sight of a patch of Queen Anne’s Lace? How this “weed” perfectly lives up to its name as a green delicate bundle until it blooms revealing it is made up of a million tiny, perfect little antique white flowers all nestled together like an expensive victorian lace. It’s actually one of my favorites. That and iron weed, the purple highway flowers and wild daisies that made up such a big part of my childhood memories of traveling to Oma and Opa’s house on the weekends and of camping at our family’s campground site. The unbridled side of nature is my favorite to photograph. The untouched and unyielding beauty. It’s a miracle that it still could exist at all anymore with as quick as we are to tear down and build everywhere.

Queen Anne's Lace - one of my favorites

Queen Anne’s Lace – one of my favorites

Weeds may be a nuisance to many of the Joneses but I think we could all stand to learn a little from these wildflowers. At least give them some credit. They have adapted to require virtually no human intervention or help; living and thriving strictly from whatever nature provides – and surviving even when nature doesn’t provide what the rest of us and our “real flowers” need to grow. Strong, bountiful and beautiful returning every year to take whatever the world has in store for them. Every year growing stronger and spreading further in spite of the difficulties of the season before. No matter how much we try to cut them back to make room for our store-bought gardens and our roads and new housing developments they continue to pop up, transforming our highways and lining the edges of our fields with their natural beauty. Yet we call them “weeds”.

The thousands of tiny perfect little flowers that make up Queen Anne's Lace

The thousands of tiny perfect little flowers that make up Queen Anne’s Lace

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be more like these weeds? Never letting the evil and hatred in the world destroy our beauty and faith; Thriving with just what God gives us and not caring what society thinks of us; Coming back stronger than before whenever we are challenged; Growing and spreading throughout the world regardless of how many times we are cut down; Not conforming to everything else but being the perfect and unique beauty we were created to be.

Wild Daisies - a favorite of many butterfly

Wild Daisies – a favorite of many butterfly

So to all the wildflowers of the world: Take comfort and be proud that you are “weed” – living not by society’s standards or influence or requiring others’ approval but instead by God and what he provides to you and what he has planned for you. The roads may be tougher but in the end so are you and you may not have the most fans but the ones you have will be the right ones.

Wildflowers are proof that you can adapt to the harsh ways of the world without sacrificing your delicate and unique beauty

Wildflowers are proof that you can adapt to the harsh ways of the world without sacrificing your delicate and unique beauty

Milestone Highway

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It’s been one milestone after another watching this baby learn and grow. It’s amazing to me. Watching her learn to roll over, to sit up, getting her first tooth (and now after this week she has five!). Going from scooting herself backwards and inch worming along to get where she wants to go and now actually crawling and pulling herself up to stand on her own trying to test the waters of walking. She is so proud of herself and so happy when she sees how excited it makes us. Obviously it’s upped our baby-proofing a bit. We had to drop the crib mattress when she started pulling herself up with the rail and I’ve had to rearrange a few things because she’s a pro running around the house in her walker chasing the dogs and grabbing whatever she can grab off the tables and shelves.  It’s crazy thinking that here before long she won’t need the walker at all and she’ll be stumbling around trying to wear mommy’s shoes and playing dress up. I can just picture the big purse draped over her shoulder and mess of lipstick on her face. She’s really working on her syllables lately too wanting to talk like mommy and daddy. It’s only a matter of time before the words come rolling off her tongue saying everything she’s been dying to say up til then. She’s growing like a wildflower and it’s just such a blessing to be a part of. There is nothing cuter and no greater joy in this world.

Choose Wisely

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Every day is a choice - make it count

Every day is a choice – make it count

Loved these wildflowers we encountered this weekend. Love even more that they can help me share  a positive message 🙂

Frugality, Food Art & My Full Time Job

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Living on a budget has proven to be a job in and of itself. When my husband used the term “make our money work for us” when we discussed whether or not I would continue working and making the money work for the company, I took it on as a challenge. And it’s proven to actually be work. For those that think stay-at-home moms do nothing, I’d beg to differ. I can’t speak for everyone but I know that sitting down is a rare luxury for me throughout the day. I am usually up and down stairs about a hundred times, going from room to room putting away laundry and sweeping, doing dishes, dusting, playing with the baby, walking her around or cooking. Most of the time the only time I get to sit at all during the day is when I’m nursing the baby. Hell, to write this (which I basically wrote in my notepad on my phone over a period of a few days while nursing) it still took me a couple more days to find any down time to get it published.

It’s hard when you go from a double income / no kids to one income and a baby. We were really good at spending money so it’s been quite an adjustment. Fortunately I am good at managing money. I am good at numbers. (My husband says I’m good at anything I set my mind to. God love him.) The biggest hurdle to managing our money was going to be cutting out the ways we always blew it before and returning the luxuries to their not-so-frequent occurrence while making sure that we weren’t sacrificing quality on what was really a necessity – giving up eating out several nights a week and some of our more expensive routine purchases while making sure our home cooked meals are still healthy and fresh. Being on a budget doesn’t mean eating $1 boxed dinners every night with a can of mystery meat mixed in. It was important for me to make sure that we were still eating well even while saving money. Fortunately there are still healthy ways to eat and save – especially when your job is homemaking and you make every breakfast, lunch and dinner and can plan ahead. This is what makes staying at home an actual job. It’s not watching TV and eating all day contrary to those cliches about Bon-Bon’s and soap operas. It’s taking care of your child (who rarely naps and is a pretty constant gig alone) and planning weekly menus, scouring the weekly ads  for sales and web for coupons, cooking and freezing baby food and making up breakfasts and lunches in advance for The Hub. It’s laundry and housecleaning and cooking dinner when he gets home. It’s really paying attention to your bills when you’re paying everything and balancing your checkbook to make sure you’re not overspending on things you don’t need or use and working to eliminate unnecessary charges.  And lastly, it’s about learning to appreciate the simple things.

We used to eat out a lot. With both of us working it was often easier to just grab something than to try to come home and cook a big, fancy dinner after working all day. On the nights I did we usually didn’t eat until 8:00. I can’t speak for my husband but he surely isn’t complaining about having a home cooked meal every night when he comes home. We look at eating out as a treat now – the way it should be. And this may also be what’s helping us both to continue to lose weight. The Hub is down 25 pounds now and I’m finally only a couple pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight!

I’ve been really paying attention to the weekly ads and clipping coupons whenever I can. Extreme couponing is fascinating to me but I’m finding that the bulk of what you get coupons for are beauty items, cleaning supplies, and junk food. There are occasional baby items that come in handy though. It’s a bonus to get a few coupons we can use but it’s definitely not a single solution. I’m still so new to the frugal side of life and I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m finding that just planning the menus around sale prices though helps a lot and still enables us to eat healthy and fresh.  I used to go to town on imported cheeses and wines and now I am more happy coming home and putting away the groceries and seeing a large basket of squash, gourds, pineapple and other fresh foods that are going to accompany our main courses over the next week (and to also be made into fresh baby food  – which she loves). It’s my personalized food art in the kitchen. Real life still life.  It also keeps the creative juices flowing when you’re planning menus and coming up with new things to try based on what’s on sale. (I created a really good dish the other night with rice, chorizo, black beans and some other fresh, tasty ingredients from the “food art bowl” that TheHub absolutely loved). It’s rewarding to hear him praise dishes you worked hard on or say that it’s the best he’s ever had and you couldn’t even buy something that good in a  restaurant. It’s a great feeling knowing that even on a tight budget, we’re not just making it work but making it work well.

This is what homemaking is about. It’s raising my daughter and caring for my family the “slow cooked” way that I’ve always said made such a difference when I was growing up. It’s taking the time to not only do things right but with love and care so that they know how much I love them. The reward isn’t a paycheck every week. It’s a smile, a hug, a pleasant noise as my husband takes a bite of dinner. It’s the healthy appetite of my little one enjoying her homemade baby food. It’s in her laughter and how safe and secure she feels because of the home we have created. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had because there isn’t a schedule – it takes the term “full time” quite literally. There is no down time or personal time. Even my shower routine includes the baby. But even with a 24-7 work schedule and little to no breaks, the return is so much more rewarding than any paycheck. We may not have everything but life is good and we are truly blessed.

Food art: The real life still life

Food art: The real life still life

Got any money-saving or couponing tips of your own? Please feel free to share them – I’d love to hear from you! Sharing is caring people. 😉

Good Night Moon

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The beautiful moon is peeking through the windows tonight as I sing my little one her lullabies. I hope you all had a great weekend and start the new week with a clear mind and a light heart.

 

Good night moon

Good night moon

 

 

Killer Rat Choir

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With all the animals that you aren’t allowed to have in this neighborhood it should be against city ordinance to have two people, both with multiple chihuahuas living next door to each other too. Noisy little bastards.  At least I was already awake before they began trying to rip each other’s faces off through the fence. It’s another absolutely beautiful morning despite the viciously barking killer rat choir.  Enjoy your day everyone!!