Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Beauty in the Breaking: My Pride Hurts

God is good, all the time. Even when it hurts. Right now life is tough. We are going through some hard things. More often than not I find myself last. Last in line, last to be thought of, looked over and left out. This isn’t fun for me. I grew up as an only child. I can be very selfish and “all about me.” So being in the background can be hard for me. It makes me want to whine and complain about not getting enough attention or consideration. Ugh. I can make myself sick.

So I regularly find myself with hurt feelings. But wait, how can your “feelings” be hurt? Thanks to a teaching called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, I have realized that feelings aren’t sentient, nor do they have nerve endings, thus they cannot be “hurt.” In reality, it is my ego, my pride that is taking a hit and making me feel hurt. This is so true in my case. I can now acknowledge when it is my pride getting offended.

The crazy part? I am thankful for this hard, hurtful time in my life. I believe that God is doing something big in me. I think He is stretching me and growing me; testing me and giving me chances to exercise the things He is teaching me. I am uncomfortable and that is a good thing. I was too comfortable in my selfishness and pride. God is beginning to wreck my life and I love it. In Jen Hatmaker’s book, entitled 7, she speaks to this. She says, “ [Sometimes] we [have] to shed and cull and purge before God can even remotely begin to deal with [our] serious issues.” And I feel like that is where I’m at now. I feel like God is pruning me, shaping me, purging me. All so that I can become the woman He created me to be.

There is a beauty in the breaking of oneself. I am a clay vessel that God is allowing to crack, break, and crumble, all so that He can reshape me. I am learning to serve with a joyful heart and not expect anything in return; not even a thank you. I am learning to be second, third and fourth; I don’t need to be front and center of attention. I am learning to share freely of my time, gifts, and money because none of those things are mine; they are God’s.

So if you find yourself in a hard time or place in your life right now; STOP. Take a minute to love God even in your pain. Acknowledge that He will never leave you, that He is with you even now. Then ask Him to reveal to you what works He may have at hand. Sometimes bad things just happen. Not every mishap is a lesson from God. But we can trust that God will work all things for our good based on Romans 8:28a which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”(NIV)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jammy Jams: Once Upon a Rhyme Lullaby Review

My kiddos LOVE music. I mean, they even dance to the noise that the vacuum makes! We have daily (sometimes more than once a day) dance parties. See, I too love music, from almost every genre. Thus, my kids are exposed to music from many, many decades and sounds. We often use Pandora to listen to a steady stream of music. Thanks to Pandora we were introduced to Jammy Jams. So cute! Jammy Jams is a collection of songs recreated to be lullabies for children. How creative! There are no words, just instrumetals.

I was given the chance to review a special Jammy Jams Collection called Once Upon A Rhyme. This version is based on rap songs. Even my husband can now enjoy baby lullabies because they are essentially throwbacks to our younger days. We love that these are such fun songs. We can listen to them during the day for play, or during the night for soothing; they are versatile. Jammy Jams offers lullabies based on rock, 80's, pop, punk, Christian, etc.

You can order these as CD's or you can buy a download. Jammy Jams would make a great addition to your children's music collection or a great gift! Not to mention you could listen to these yourself. Check out Jammy Jams for yourself today!

Click this link to check out a FREE sample of Jammy Jams.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Being a Mommy Brings Out the Best and Worst in Me

Part One: The Worst

Have you ever been going about your day, minding your own business, when out of nowhere you catch a glimpse of yourself and you cannot believe that it is really you? Your actions/words/thoughts just seem so foreign? Since becoming a mommy to my second set of twins (19 months apart) this has been happening a lot lately.

I guess I wasn’t too stressed with the first set. I mean, twins are all I have ever known. So it wasn’t more or less stressful than having one baby at a time because I had never lived any other way. About 3 months after the second set was born I started changing. I began to notice things in my behavior that I hadn’t seen much of previously.

I am usually a calm, patient, positive, and gentle person. But man, 4 children under the age of 2 quickly changed that. I became irritable with a short fuse. I found myself raising my voice and yelling. All. The. Time. I was so stressed and not sleeping much. Everything was negative. The negativity in our home was tangible. You could cut it with a knife. I was speaking harshly to my children and my face was contorting into these ugly, scary expressions. I can only imagine what I must have looked like to my tiny, precious, sweet children. I was a monster. At least I felt like a monster. On particularly bad days, when 10 out of the last 12 hours were filled with screaming, crying, moaning and poop…so much poop, I would have moments when I felt like I was literally losing it. I would open my mouth and venomous words would just come spewing out of my mouth. I imagined myself looking like the chick from The Exorcist, with my head spinning around. I began to hate myself. I loathed what and who I was becoming.

I was in a spiritual wilderness. God, my Rock, is unchanging. He never left my side. But oh did I wander. I was filling my mind and heart with things of this world and letting my Bible and my praying knees gather dust. I was breaking inside and my soul was so dry and aching for the cool, restorative waters of God, but for a long time I thought I was just going crazy or had postpartum depression. It took 4 months of this for me to realize that these behaviors of mine didn’t come from out of the blue. Trees don’t just appear; they have roots in something. Well, my tree was sporting rotten fruit and the roots were being fed from the ugliness that my treacherous heart was harboring.

The Bible is full of scriptures that warn us that what is in our hearts is what will flow from our mouths.  So one night my husband and I talked. I mean really talked. And we realized that we had been living under a cloud of negativity in our home and neglecting our relationship with each other and with God. That night, we both hit our knees in prayer. That was a life changing moment. Life has become so much more enjoyable! Now that I am daily spending time with God through prayer, devotionals, scripture reading, etc. I am able to recognize when I am becoming uber irritable, and bring it down a notch. God has given me so much joy. He has helped me to serve even when I don’t want to. He has helped me to speak kindly and semi-control my temper ( I was born a read head ya know).

I also finally went to see a doctor about the bi-monthly periods I was having. She put me on birth control to help regulate my hormones. It makes me really nauseas but I think it is helping. I only had one period last month, so only one week of PMS; yay! God, and prayer is always the answer. God will move mountains for you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to pick up a shovel! Meaning, ask God for help, but take medication when you need it. In my case, I needed something to help regulate my wacky hormones. I needed Zoloft right after the second set of twins were born to help me stop crying all the time; and that is okay. There can be such a stigma in the Christian community in regards to taking anti-depressants and the like. But honestly, why? Our brothers and sisters should do what is necessary to remain sane and healthy.

 So if you feel the way I described, you are not alone. But pray. Ask God to show you what is really going on with you and please don’t be embarrassed because you are not perfect. Ask for help. Seek a doctor’s help if need be. I bet there is a mother you know who is secretly struggling too but is too ashamed or proud to ask for help. Be strong for her if not for yourself. Speak up. 

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Took the 30 Day Gallon of Water Challenge

How did you do? No, really, let’s focus on you so that I can hide my failure just a little longer. In general, I really am terrible at following through with diet and exercise programs. Sure, I start off with gusto and all of the right intentions…but after a few days my discipline begins to wane. What’s strange is that I really am not a quitter. I have an amazing talent called being stubborn, which helps me to be firm in things. 

But somehow, taking care of my own body isn’t a top priority.
I ensure that my kids take a vitamin every day. Me? I haven’t taken one since I was pregnant and had to. I make sure the kids get lotion on their dry skin. Me? I’m walking around looking like an alligator because who has time for lotion? I peel and cut up fresh veggies and fruit for my kiddos. Me? I’m eating processed, pre-packaged food because I don’t have (or won’t make) time for that….sigh.

So it was with this 30 day, gallon of water a day challenge. I started out strong. I got my husband involved, I got a reminder app for my phone, I even kept track of my intake on the refrigerator door; for a few days. My point is that I definitely failed at drinking a gallon of water each day. I actually don’t think that I was able to take in a gallon any of the days. I came close many times!

My justification is quite elaborate: I have 2 sets of young twins that keep me from sitting down and chugging water; aforementioned kids drink my water, fight over my water, backwash food into my water, and throw tantrums when I won’t let them drink it. So really, how am I supposed to find time to keep walking to the counter and drinking my special forbidden water that my kids covet? Oh, and I’m forgetful.

BUT, I will tell you that I drank enough water to learn some things. I realized that when I don’t drink enough water in a day, I wake up the next day with sore muscles. I mean, it actually feels like my muscles are contracted and dried out. Without enough water, I find myself exhausted (more so than usual). Also, my lips feel like they are going to crack and fall off my face. My skin overall is much more dry and itchy when I don’t imbibe tons of water. Conclusion? Drink more water! It will make you feel better and have more energy.

I mean, go figure. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, so I guess it makes sense that we need to replenish that on a daily basis. The main thing that I learned was that I need more water throughout the day. But I may not need a gallon. 64oz seemed to be the key amount for me; less than that and I felt the consequences. So how did you do? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for doing this challenge with me. 

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Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Get Your Toddlers (or Any Age Children) to Eat Their Vegetables; Yes, Even Twins

When my first set of twins were babies they would eat anything, and I mean anything. The only food I introduced that they didn’t like was cucumbers…go figure. But, alas, as they got older and their taste buds developed further, they began to reject more and more foods.

Eventually, it got to a point where they began to have issues with the texture of foods. I can’t even pinpoint how many textures they dislike. But I know they don’t like “stringy” foods such as string beans, turkey, chicken, noodles, etc. However, they also dislike all the other veggies I have provided in the last 6 months.

So this meant that I had to become very creative in how I presented these vegetables to them. For their nutrition yes, but also to save me from a personal breakdown at mealtime!! So below you will find some of my tried and true methods:

  • Egg Scrambles. These always work for us! All you do is crack a few eggs into a bowl, add some milk or water, and scramble them in the bowl. Then pour the mixture into the pan and continue to scramble them with a spatula. When the eggs begin to cook and slightly puff up, you add your cooked vegetable and cheese (the cheese is optional but really helps). If you don’t want to cook your veggies, just make sure you dice them up into very small pieces (but if they are not cooked at all, they may be too hard, and your little one may pick them out). *A side note here, eventually my kids began to catch on to me and pick out as much veggies as they could. But never fear! I was prepared. To fix this, I would puree a batch of mixed veggies and use that instead of whole veggies. They no longer had anything to pick out.
  • Bread, muffins, or cookies: grate up almost any vegetables, like carrots, zucchini, cucumber, squash, etc. Or puree them. Then, insert these veggies into any bread, muffin, or cookie recipe and cook as usual. You can make a huge batch and then freeze some. These are fantastic for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Don’t think that you have to put this into a sugary sweet recipe! You can use applesauce instead of sugar to sweeten, but also, you can use savory items like cornbread as well!
  • Sugar or honey. Yes, I just wrote that, and even I cringed inside just a little. I am that mom who doesn’t allow my kids to have excess sugar, corn syrup, food coloring, icing, etc. However, I want my kiddos to eat their vegetables. So sometimes I will put a small amount of brown sugar, raw sugar, or honey on things like carrots, sweet potatoes, or corn.
  • Cheese! Yes, cheese is the answer to most of life’s problems and then chocolate fixes the rest haha! But let’s stay on track here. Vegetables. If I melt cheese on any vegetable they love it. But who doesn’t? If they have a dairy allergy, try the cheese substitutes.
  • Smoothies. Recently smoothies have been a life saver for me. You really can throw anything you want into a blender, along with some juice and the kids will drink it up. Especially my kids. I only give them milk and water to drink, so when I offer them the exotic flavor of a smoothie they are so excited! I also let them drink it out of an adult cup with a straw (that I hold of course). My most recent smoothie accomplishment? I made a smoothie that consisted of frozen fruit, 2 bananas, 1 pear, frozen broccoli, fresh kale, and orange juice!! They loved it! Go figure, even frozen veggies work. Score!

  • Pouches. For some reason, my kids still love those pouch to go fruit and veggie pouches. My husband just told me that he read that those pouches often contain mold (like Capri Sun pouches can) so in order to avoid this I bought some reusable, refillable, BPA free plastic pouches. I make up my own vegetable and fruit purees. Sometimes I make a coconut oatmeal pouch for breakfast. You can slip any veggie or fruit into these!

  • Ketchup. Yes, it really is that simple. Allowing my kids to dip their foods into ketchup or BBQ sauce, or even MSG-free ranch, will liven up any vegetables. Or meat for that matter!

If you can think of any other ideas I, and our fellow readers, would love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments below! 

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why I Have Decided to Quit the Holidays

Just a note: Wow, it really has been awhile since I have posted. There were the holidays, all 4 of our kids currently have Croup, and oh, having 2 sets of twins under the age of 2 is kind of akin to falling off of the face of the earth. But I am still here lol!

So I haven’t quit, not yet. But I really am considering quitting the holidays. In the past 4 months we have celebrated 4 holidays; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and for us, our twin’s birthday and party. So make that 5 holidays. The only one of those that didn’t include a big ordeal was New Years. But even that holiday carries with it the demand to attend a party and stay up late…I am a 28 year old mother of two very young sets of twins…ain’t nobody got time for that! Or the energy for that matter!

Why do I want to quit you ask? Well, to be honest, I’m just tired and exhausted. I struggle on a daily basis to clean my house, take care of my 4 kiddos and husband, and make about 17 meals for everyone (one meal per person per mealtime in my house.) So when a holiday rolls around all of that amplifies. We can’t travel because of our kids so we have relatives come to us. Thus I am preparing my home for more people, and more grocery store trips, and more meals before and after the BIG meal of the holiday. Then I am cleaning up. Oh, and somewhere in between I am being a mother and a wife and taking care of my children.

I must stop here and say that I LOVE MY RELATIVES! I love to have them visit us and stay with us. I do not love, however, the added pressure of the holidays.

Even Halloween is stressful because I have to find coordinating costumes for two sets of twins of different ages and for us, and then we have to dress them and paint faces and change diapers and feed them and somehow take them all around a neighborhood when it’s freezing out. Have you ever tried to paint the faces of two cranky almost two year olds? Fuhgettaboutit.

I just wish that holidays were simple. I wish that family just came together to just be together. I want to relax and enjoy my company but I can’t. I’m worrying about gift buying and wrapping, grocery lists, bank account balances, making it to church for Christmas Eve services, cooking everything perfectly and timing it so that it all comes out hot together. Did I get all the decorations up? Is my son eating the Nativity scene?! Who just projectile vomited all over her third outfit of the day? Are all the kids dressed in adorable holiday apparel? Does my house smell like baking cookies? We don’t have lights up!! What will the neighbors think?

Those are some of my thoughts. Some of the things that keep my mind spinning and my feet running. The things that keep me from just sitting down and enjoying the glow of the lights on the Christmas tree and a snuggle with my husband. Why? Why is everything so busy and commercialized? I think that I have internalized every holiday tradition that I have seen and I am trying to make sure we look perfect, our home is perfect, and everyone is happy. In doing all of this, I feel like I am missing the meaning behind all of our family holidays.
I recently read Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and in her book she has a section called Hostressing. When I read it, it was like reading my own thoughts. It is about how hostessing become hostRessing. And how she finally figured out that hosting wasn’t about the host herself; it wasn’t about have a perfect home or meal, but that it was about offering yourself and your home to the people you care about. This struck a chord with me. In the end, she finally decided to host a “party” but she warned all guests to not be fancy, to bring their own dish and drink, and to leave early haha!

So I’m thinking about quitting. Meaning, maybe we will order food next year or go out to eat. Maybe I won’t decorate. Maybe my kids will spend the days in their pajamas…or maybe we will just go somewhere tropical. I am not sure yet what this temporary retirement will look like. But I know that I am tired. And I know that at the next holiday, I will focus on my guests and not my home, food, drinks, music, clothes, etc. I will enjoy their company, and I think they will enjoy a less-stressed version of me!.....I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not June Cleaver, and that my family is happy with store bought, from a box, stuffing.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jamberry Nails Pro-life Fundraiser

Hi everyone! As some of you may already know, babies, both born and in the womb, are very dear to my heart. I am pro-life and pro-mother. Please take a moment and check out this following post written by my friend Noa. She is a Jamberry Rep and is doing a special fundraiser for the month of January to benefit Care Net Pregnancy Center: 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chenoa but I go by Noa, and I started selling Jamberry nail wraps a couple of months ago.  I am a busy mom on the go and outside of being a mom I work as a Staff Accountant at an accounting firm.  I always love to see everyone’s perfectly painted fingers but unfortunately I wasn’t blessed with the patience gene, so I inevitably need to scratch my face or anything else that will destroy the polish job I just spent what seems like forever doing.  Here enters Jamberry; they are heat and pressure activated nail wraps that come in over 300 designs. They require no drying time and are non-toxic.  They also do not damage your real nails and last up to 2 weeks on fingers and up to 6 weeks on toes!!!  Each set provides 2 manicures and up to 2 pedicures or 2 manicures and several accent nails.

As a New Years Resolution of sorts I wanted to spend my first month of the year giving, so I have decided to run fundraisers for the month of January.  I am donating my entire commission from all sales to Care Net Pregnancy Center of Southern MD.  Although I have never faced the decisions many that come to Care Net face, I understand and have experienced the loss of a baby and the hole it leaves inside.  If someone is facing financial hardship and what may feel like insurmountable odds that could lead to them making a decision out of desperation, and I can even do a little to care for them and help them know that they are in fact not alone, I will.  Care Net provides so much:  counselling, provisions, prayer, parenting tools, and means for parents to provide at a low cost.  They truly are a giving bunch!!!  

In addition I have created a custom wrap to celebrate life, pictured below:
This is a custom wrap and can be ordered directly through me at the following email address:
This wrap has to be ordered in bulk by me so if you are interested you can send me a check for $18.75 plus tax or pay through my paypal account by adding $1 to cover fees.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

30 Day-1 Gallon of Water a Day Challenge

Hi! Happy New Year to all of my readers! It has been a crazy, stressful, joyful, celebrating time here in our household. We have had a lot of visitors, dinners, and parties around here. Our oldest twins just turned 2 on December 29! Yay! So that, on top of Christmas, has left our home looking like a pair of twin tornadoes ripped through it. Oh wait, they did haha! So I personally have been feeling very overwhelmed. I am also tired and achy. I usually attribute all of this to stress and having two sets of very young twins. However, today I came across a couple of articles about drinking enough water. Many ladies in these articles suffered from the same things I described as well. Their doctors recommended that they drink 1 gallon of water a day to hydrate their bodies properly. According to their articles, 37% of people mistake water pangs for hunger pangs, so they eat. hello, that is me, I am sure! 

So these ladies accepted a challenge to drink 1 gallon of water, each day, for 30 days.At the end of those 30 days, these women had reduced under eye darkness and puffiness. Their skin was firmer and brighter. They had reduced oiliness, they lost weight, lost cellulite and their dry skin improved. Oh, and their daily headaches and achiness, and joint stiffness went away. Not to mention their appetites were suppressed and they no longer craved sugar! 

Wow, so water sounds like a miracle cure-all. I will admit right here that I don't drink enough water. Ever. So my husband and I both are going to take this 1 gallon a day for  30 days challenge. Here are my list of complaints that I hope to see relived by an increase in water consumption:

  • Dry skin
  • Dark under eye circles
  • Exhaustion
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches (everyday)
  • Snacking
  • Excess post-baby weight
So 1 gallon, that is 128 oz of water....I challenge you, my readers and friends, to join me in this challenge. Water is free and healthy. Start slow if you need to. Spread the water consumption out over the day. But do it, for you and for your family. And let me know. Let me know that we are in this together. Let me know what results you hope to see, and what results you actually see! 

So here's to us; Cheers! Bottoms up!

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