It Takes a Village

Over the past two and half years I have learned a lot about what it means to be a mother and a wife. The most important lesson that I’ve learned about myself from this time is the importance of community in my life. Although the beginning stages of your child’s life are so rewarding and miraculous there comes a time where you begin to crave adult interaction. I am a firm believer in the phrase that, “It takes a village (or community) to raise a child.” There are so many things that I can learn as a mother and my daughter can learn from the people that God has strategically placed in our lives.

I’ve been so blessed in my own walk to have people come alongside me and join me in this journey of life. I’m so grateful for each and every person that God has used to foster and build up this beautiful state of community that I live in. I have godly friends that serve not only as spiritual leaders for myself, but also as encouragement for my family. I also have a church that is positive and uplifting.

My family belongs to a small group from our church that meets on a weekly basis to discuss life, struggles, and sermons from the pastor. I find this group particularly encouraging because we were led to join a group where we were the youngest couple. It is so awesome to have the resources of mothers who have children older than my own to seek wisdom from. These moms get what it’s like to be in my shoes and they have survived. I look forward to meeting with these families every week and they are so special to my family. This is a goofy picture of some of our small group packing candy for a Trick-or-Treat outreach we did this fall. I’m not quite sure why the men decided to make silly faces…maybe too much candy.

I’ve also met one of my dearest friends through this church group. One week as a prayer request I mentioned needing a new sitter for my daughter as my sister who was the previous sitter was moving. If you’re a working mom you know how scary this can be. I was really fearful of the idea of not knowing who I was going to end up entrusting my daughter’s care to, but this friend of mine stepped up and I just felt so at peace at her offering to watch my daughter. That has been such a huge blessing and confirmation to me that we are where we are supposed to be as a family in this group. My daughter loves her new sitter and she is such a good friend on so many levels. (More on her in another post to come)

God has also blessed me with a friend that I work with who has been there for me through so much over my past four years of employment. We’ve been friends through so many of life’s big stages and milestones and I feel that our faith has kept us close even when our lives are busy and insane. We’ve continued to make our friendship a priority even when we both are stretched super thin. We share many values, but are both uniquely different in our personalities. I love it. This picture is of my good friend watching the fireworks with my daughter last Fourth of July.

Community has also been built with family. My husband’s family lives in England while we reside in Ohio, but Skype has been amazing at keeping us close and updated on the happenings overseas. I’m so pleased that our daughter regularly talks about her English grandparents and carries memories of the few times she was able to see them. We venture that way every summer, but for my two year-old to vividly recall memories of them the way she does I know that means they have had such a pivotal role in her life and they mean so much to her already. This picture is from July 2014 when my husband’s family came for a visit.

My own family lives near us in Ohio. My family does a lot to help us out and we have made a point to do Sunday Dinners with my mom, dad, and sisters. This is so important because as we each grow and live our busy lives we are able to reconnect on those Sunday evenings and our kids are able to have that weekly time to bond and play together. This is a picture from my sister’s wedding in June 2014.

So my community is….

-Family

-Friends

-Church

-Small Group

I felt the need to shout out to those that God has put in my life today. Thank you all for being there for me and my family. Although it is my responsibility to care for and raise my child I know that I can’t do it alone. All of you have taught me and my family so much through your guidance, love, and faithfulness. Thanks for being my COMMUNITY…or village 🙂

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My First Award: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Just over a week ago I made the bold decision to begin publishing my musings in the wonderful blogging realm. I’ve always been a journal keeper and a secret writer, but I took the leap of faith (and advice from my husband) and began to publish my writing on this blog. I have been completely overwhelmed by the response I have received. My site stats are quite impressive and have exceeded my expectations. I’ve been averaging around 100 views per day and have created a following and community with blogging strangers around the world. I’ve gained some feedback from those more experienced than myself and I value that feedback greatly. But today, I have reached a new and unexpected milestone. My blog has been nominated by Welcome to My World for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

I am honored and delighted to be nominated for this award. The nomination comes to me from a follower of my blog. If you enjoy my blog you should follow this inspiring blog as well. The author is a cancer survivor who writes about everyday life with a toddler and all of life’s ups and downs. Her posts are very relatable and sometimes I feel like we are great friends because her everyday life so closely resembles my own. I’m really excited to be nominated for my first award. I feel like maybe some of my ramblings may be inspirational to others out there. So I am very grateful for this nomination.

So what’s the point?

Why would one want to be nominated for a blogging award? The answer is two-fold. One goal of every aspiring blogger is to gain readers and followers and awards help make that happen. When I began blogging I wanted to know that the information I was putting out on the Internet was helpful and inspirational to other people. Of course, it is a great outlet for my thoughts and creative thinking, but my goal the whole time has been to encourage other people through letting them in on my imperfect life. By being transparent I believe that other moms or women may be able to relate to my position and be encouraged that we don’t have to have it all together all the time. Another reason why I am so thankful for this award is because it means that I am achieving that goal of inspiring another woman out there and hopefully countless others.

As a nominee for this award I have 10 questions I must answer on my blog so here it goes:

10 burning questions for the nominees:

  1. If you had the opportunity to donate what or who would you donate to and why? If I had the means and opportunity to donate I would choose to sponsor children overseas through organizations like World Vision. I currently sponsor a child in Guatemala through World Vision with a club that I advise at the high school where I work. For $33.00 a month we are able to provide food, clothing, education, and Bibles for our sponsored child and his family. If I could I would sponsor several more children. I wish that all children had the privilege and necessities that my own child has and it breaks my heart when I hear stories where that is not the case. One of the coolest things about World Vision is that they send correspondence between you and your sponsored child. (They even translate when language is a barrier)
  2. What is your favorite season and why? My favorite season is Spring. What I love most about Spring is the feelings of new beginnings. The winter in the mid-west can be daunting and at times (like right now) it seems as though the warmer temperatures and longer days will never come. Once spring sets in I receive new energy and look forward to all that comes with the changing of the seasons.
  3. Who is your favorite author? This is the toughest question on this survey. I love reading which is why I am a high school English teacher. I have several noteworthy favorites. I love Harper Lee, JK Rowling, Beth Moore, and many many more.
  4. Early bird or night owl? Early bird for sure. Since I was pregnant with my daughter my days as a night owl have disappeared. I would much rather get up early than stay up late. I’ve also learned that I am a much more productive person in morning (granted, I have the jump start of a cup of coffee…or two)
  5. Favorite dessert- Can I count coffee as a dessert? If not, then anything coffee flavored (cheesecake, tiramisu, cupcakes, ice cream…)
  6. Describe your perfect day from start to finish- The perfect day would begin with a little bit of a late start. I may wake up earlier than most, but I would take my time getting ready for the day. I would spend the morning drinking several cups of coffee, journaling, blogging, doing a devotional all while cuddling my daughter and husband on the couch. We would make  a family lunch and dine together still in our pajamas. After lunch, we would head to our favorite corner of the world: German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The weather would be beautiful. We would go to Schiller Park, walk the brick-paved streets, visit The Book Loft, and have cookies and coffee at the Pistachio Vera Bakery. Dinner would be at the quaint and world famous Schmidts in German Village. After dinner, we would venture home and watch several episodes of our current favorite show on Netflix until we all fell asleep on the couch. Yep, perfect day!
  7. What is your dream job? My dream job is yet to be determined. Something where I am able to use my gifts to help and inspire others. Right now I’m a teacher and I’m pretty happy with that!
  8. What is your favorite thing about blogging? My favorite part about blogging is that it is not only therapy for myself that allows me to creatively work out my thoughts and ideas, but it also is a platform to encourage and inspire others.
  9. Favorite movie- Wizard of Oz. Why? Because I’ve known every line and dance in that movie since I was 3. I also love all Disney movies and many many musicals.
  10. Warm or cold climate? Warm. No contest. I am much more happy, energetic, and productive with a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun. The cold is depressing and makes my joints hurt. Maybe I should think about relocating from the midwest 🙂

As a part of the nomination process I must also create 10 questions for my nominees:

1. Who do you admire most in your life? Why?

2. Where do you turn for inspiration and encouragement?

3. Why did you begin blogging?

4. What are three goals you have set for yourself (long or short term)?

5. Describe your family and its members.

6. What is your favorite accessory? Why?

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?

8. What is your favorite TV show?

9. What is your favorite blog and why?

10. Where do you see yourself and your family in five years?

I nominate the following blogs to receive this award as well:

Desperate Housewife

Thyme is Honey

https://acaffeinatedblog.wordpress.com/

Nominees, here are the ground rules:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. (that’s me 🙂 )
– Put the award logo on your blog.
– Answer the ten questions sent to you.
– Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
– Nominate seven blogs.

Thank you once again, Welcome to My World. You have made me feel like my time spent narrating my life is well worth it. I have also been encouraged by this award to set some new and higher goals for my blog and to pursue my own personal writing dreams. It means a lot. Please take some time and check out my nominee sites and help them reach their viewer/follower goals.

Life is good.

Staying On Top of It All

Once again this teacher is cut off from society and stranded at home yet again. Our district was set to begin state tests this week, but due to weather and now a gas leak in our high school it is Wednesday and we have not yet commenced the testing. I am making the most out of all of these days at home. I’m using this time to get organized, clean the house, and make progress toward health and fitness goals. So today I want to focus on some of the ideas I’ve come across for organizing my life and goals.

1. Goal Setting

As the year was beginning I set some goals for myself. I created an organizer for my goals to help get the ball rolling and into action. I made a pyramid with the goal for the year at the top. Then, I broke the goal down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals within that pyramid. My two goals to focus on in 2015 are: Completing a 5k competitively and doing some professional writing (i.e. a novel). I got this idea from Jillian Michaels. I found some articles on goal setting according to this famous fit and healthy icon and used some of those ideas in creating my own goal plans for 2015. Here is a link to the template I found most helpful: http://images.agoramedia.com/jillianmichaels/cms/unlimited/journal-11.pdf

2. Daily Organization:

Also at the beginning of the new year I sought out a planner that would help me keep on top of my goals and would be an encompassing life planner. After some searching online I purchased a pad from Thyme-is-Honey.com. I am super pleased with this product because it allows me space to plan out my day according to health, home, and fitness goals. When I set daily goals for myself it helps my long term goal seem more attainable and keeps me organized. I recommend taking a look around Thyme-is-Honey’s page and shop. There are a lot of organizational ideas that I find inspiring. (I follow this blog)

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3. Blog Ideas:

When I created this blog not only was I looking for a creative outlet for myself, but I aimed at sharing real life experiences as a busy mom with the world in hopes of mutually encouraging others out there either just like me or who have been where I am now. I’m definitely in the infant stages of blogging. I’m learning a few new tricks and ideas every day. As I began setting up my blog originally I wasn’t quite sure what I would have to bring to the table that other people would want to read. I spent a lot of time scoping out the competition and looking at the posts of others in the blogging community. Instead of narrowing my ideas to one topic I decided I would try to cover all the facets of my life on this blog. After a successful first week as a blogger with over 350 views and more subscribers than I anticipated I decided to also get organized with my blogging. I set up a schedule of blog post topics. I plan to write on a rotation basis so as not to get bored of one particular category of writing. My goal is to create a post a day and to become an active member in the blogging community by commenting and subscribing to at least two new blogs a day. Here is a look at the plan of attack I’ve created for moving forward with this blog.

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I am not claiming to be a mom on top of it all by any means, however, I do have to admit that I am currently the most organized that I ever have been. I’ve been taking a few minutes everyday to focus on myself and my goals and that has made a world of difference. What are you doing to keep organized and reach your goals?

Working On My Fitness

I am singing the winter blues. I’m so over the snow, frigid temperatures and the short days. Bring on the sun, warm temperatures, and long evenings. It is so much more motivating to get out and work out with a blast of Vitamin D from the good ole sun. At the beginning of the new year like many of you I set some resolutions for 2015 that included creating a more fit and healthy lifestyle. Winter is making it difficult for me to follow through.

At the beginning of the year I outlined plans for regular fitness activity and healthier eating habits. As far as the healthy eating goes I haven’t strayed too far from my goal. I may have eaten a few too many slices of cake than I had intended, but overall, I am sticking pretty well to my plans of cooking healthy meals at home every night (with the exception of special date nights).

Where I seem to be lacking is in my regular fitness activity. For the first few weeks of the new year I was on a pretty consistent schedule of 30 minute elliptical workouts every other day. But have since made working out less of a priority. I’ve been crazy busy at work preparing for new state tests, family commitments, and by the time I get home some nights I’m just too exhausted. Eating healthy is great, but without the fitness to compliment the eating habits I know I am missing out on the goal. I want to be both fit and healthy.

A fit and healthy lifestyle (like the one I am trying to adopt) begins first with a clear and measurable fitness plan. I started the year with the goal of working out thirty minutes a day every other day. I thought that was reasonable. Then life happened.

In high school I was a long distance runner and have actually completed several half marathons. I would love to work into shape to once again compete in road races and do well. During the winter I tend to do less running and more elliptical and core strength workouts. I have a Fitbit which is nice for tracking exercise and calories. I also have access to weights.

So…I’m opening today’s blog up to my viewers and followers. I’m asking for advice. How do you stay motivated during the winter to continue training and working out? And…What are your workout plans? 

I tend to be more extrinsically motivated so the more comments and advice I get, the more likely I will be to get myself into a regular routine. I also plan to use this blog to hold me accountable to both my fitness and health goals. Bring on the comments!!

Monday Menu (Slow Cooked Curried Chicken Stew)

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There are few things I enjoy devouring more than a warm stew or soup on a cold frigid day.  As you can gather from my recent postings I have spent quite a few consecutive days sequestered in my home. The snow and low temperatures have been relentless here in the mid-west not to mention the lovely flu bug that has finally swept its way out of our now sanitized home. So when it came to preparing a homemade meal for my family this weekend I had quite a few stipulations. I needed to cook meals that would settle well with those weak in the stomach and bring nourishment to replenish lost nutrients surrendered to the nasty sickness. The meal needed to also require ingredients which were readily available in my own pantry because venturing out during a snow emergency is virtually impossible. So while racking my brain to create a concoction to meet the needs of my family this weekend I created a new dish with which I am quite pleased.

This meal is very British in roots so my husband loved it immensely. He wants it to be added to our rotation of meals. I’ve never written a recipe of my own before so this may be rough and hard to follow, but I felt it was worth sharing.

Curried Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

1 Tb olive oil

2 pounds chicken breast, cubed

1 Tb garlic, minced

1 cup frozen green beans

1 cup frozen carrots

1/2 jar of favorite curry sauce or paste (I used Patak’s Original Korma Paste)

2 potatoes unpeeled and cubed

Recipe

1. In a large skillet heat oil. Add chicken and garlic. Cook until chicken is done.

2. Add frozen green beans and carrots to the skillet. Saute until vegetables are soft.

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3. Pour chicken and vegetable mixture into a 4 quart Crock Pot or slow cooker.

4. Add potatoes and curry sauce.

5. Mix to coat all ingredients.

6. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

This recipe is simple and can be easily adjusted. I used a more mild sauce to achieve the soothing effects desired for someone conquering the flu, but a hotter sauce would be delicious as well. Curry is definitely more popular in England than it is in America. This dish was very nostalgic to my husband’s upbringing. If you find that your family likes curry I would recommend keeping a jar or two on hand at all times. I have found them at World Market and the North Market in Columbus, Ohio. I’m fairly certain many of the franchise grocery stores carry them in their international aisles as well. It’s a really easy staple to those nights where you just want to throw something together. I have literally made meals before where I have baked chicken in the sauce and served it over rice and it was delicious.

Enjoy!

The Man Flu

I vigorously disinfected. I ensured that I was the one touching and taking care of our two year-old daughter as she recovered from her recent illness. I quarantined the germs. All in hopes of not allowing my husband to contract the dreaded Man Flu. The preventative actions were all in vain. This morning I awoke to one helpless victim of the Man Flu.

Some of you may be asking what is this Man Flu illness? I’m not sure how this disease looks in your home, but in the Sisley house the Man Flu is comparable to Ebola. The symptoms are similar to that of the common cold, but beware the infected personnel of this disease may be experiencing near-death. Or so it would appear.

The Symptoms: inability to get out of bed/off the couch, insistance on another to provide food and beverages, fatigue, long naps, dramatic statements such as “I think I’m dying” or “My head may fall off”, low grade fever (at best), viewing five or more consecutive episodes of favorite shows on Netflix, and inability to complete expected chores and responsibilities.

Really, if your man exhibits any of these symptoms or looks like this…he may be in danger of contracting this illness:

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Treatment: the only real way to treat this disease is with compassion and sarcasm. Equal parts of both. Oh, and a gentle reminder for the patient of the pain and agony of child birth. (That’s a quick cure, but only works if the patient is in good spirits…I don’t recommend trying this treatment if your significant other doesn’t show signs of a sense of humor-or if you have not yet had children)

Man Flu is a joke in our house. My husband does not often become ill, but when he does…BEWARE. I think this time around he uttered the phrase, “I think I’m dying” a handful of times. He knows he is guilty of this and even refers to his illness with the same name. To be truthful he told me I should write today’s post about him and the Man Flu so this is not me bad mouthing my husband in any way. It is simply me making light of the fact that I have now spent the past week nursing to health both my daughter and my husband. (And it is not hard to guess which was the better patient)

So a note to mothers out there…BEWARE of the MAN FLU. The struggle is real.

In all seriousness I don’t mind the occasional Man Flu. It gives me the opportunity to serve my husband. I live to help my family and I enjoy the time spent slowing down and resting. However, after a week of being snowed in with both family members sick it may be driving me to insanity. While Sam rested with Arianna on the couch and they bonded over stuffy noses and drinks of water I cleaned my house to help extinguish the apparent germ infestation. I had a fairly productive afternoon and am ready to place a Doterra order to help prevent this family mayhem from occurring again. (I’ve kind of jumped on the Essential Oils bandwagon lately) I am thankful for my kick-butt immune system this time around and am looking forward to the start of a new work week tomorrow.

I will leave you with a photo I stopped to take while cleaning today to prove that little miss Arianna is on the up-and-up. Stay healthy, viewers, followers, and friends!

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Do Not Neglect Progress

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture Saturday

When I first became a mom I struggled a lot with making time for myself. Who am I kidding? I still have a difficult time stepping away from all that needs to be accomplished in my life and take time to focus on me. I am a very check-list oriented person and I spend a majority of my time working through my priorities each and every day. There was a time where I unintentionally allowed my own personal time with God and the Bible to falter in order to make time to throw in a load of laundry or to grade some papers that I had been putting off.

I have come to recognize the importance of beginning and ending each day with some time alone in the Word and prayer. This was a habit I had formed in my singlehood and even the early stages of our marriage, but as many mothers can atest to I became a little overwhelmed with my schedule when I had someone so dependent on me for every thing. I became so occupied with other people and what I could do for them, and lost sight of my own needs in the process.

Well, lesson learned. Those were some of the most trying times of my faith. I struggled with so many issues that had I been reading the Bible regularly or been seeking God for wisdom on a regular basis I know I would never have dealt with. I was exhausted and what I needed the most was to be refreshed and refined by God. The passage I quoted above shows just how important it is to read your Bible and be in constant relationship with God. We need the Bible because it teaches us, rebukes us, corrects us, and trains us in righteousness. If we neglect the opportunity for these things to be done in our lives we neglect progress.

Exactly fifty days ago I began a journey to make regular Bible reading more of a habit. Overall I have been doing much better the past six months than I have in two years, but starting fifty days ago I had a set time and place to take a few minutes away for myself. And I stuck to it EVERYDAY. I drink a cup of coffee every morning so I have planned that a great compliment to my favorite part of morning routine would be the addition of Bible reading and prayer. The results have been tremendous. I find that starting my day in the Word before anything else that I am not only more productive, but my focus is on the right thing and it is a lot harder to be struck down by the enemy. I am seeing victory over some of my biggest personal struggles and I have a more positive outlook.

So my challenge to you, dear followers and viewers, is to find something that you are neglecting in your life and set a time and place where you regularly work on that specific thing. Try to consistently follow your plan for fifty days and document the progress you are making in your own life. Progress will be made.

Make time for yourself+make time for God=PROGRESS

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