Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

Piper's second Easter has come and gone and I've got to admit, this Easter was my favorite Easter, yet. We spent the day having fun, surrounded by some of the ones we love. I couldn't have thought of a better way to celebrate Easter! It's always good to remember why we celebrate. We celebrate because Jesus died for us, Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus ascended into Heaven and Jesus will come again. Hallelujah!

The weather on this Easter Sunday was beautiful all day long! The sun was shining and it was 76 degrees outside! I just kept thinking all day, God is so good!

Thankfully, just in time for Easter, the cough that Piper had been battling for over a week now mostly subsided and she was feeling back to her normal wild-child self, again.

On Easter morning, Piper had a couple visitors! She greeted early by her Grandpa Larry (Nick's dad) and then not too long after that her Grammie (my mom) came over with Evan (my little brother). 

Each year my mom and my little brother come over and hide the Easter baskets that the bunny delivers to their house in our yard. This year, though, we caught them in the act! So, they came inside and gave the baskets to Piper themselves. She was so happy to see them!

After Piper's late-morning nap, we all got ready to go to our one and only stop for the day. Usually we have a few places to visit, but there were a lot of germs going around and a lot of people weren't feeling well so we only had one stop this year. Despite how much we missed seeing some of our family this year, it was really nice to have no time constraints on how long we could stay at one place. It was a really relaxing and fun day!

This year, we had Easter lunch at my nana and papa's house. Piper enjoyed it all! She ate ham, peas, carrots, cheesy potatoes and macaroni and cheese! She even ate the ear off of a chocolate Easter bunny. She really loved that!

We barely spent any time inside on Easter Sunday. It was too nice out to stay inside. Right after lunch, we all headed out to play and sit in the sun!

Piper was only in her Easter dress for a short time after we got outside. She wanted to get down in the grass and play around. It was a good thing we brought some play clothes with us!

Piper spent a lot of time playing in the grass. She watched us play corn hole and she also got a to sit on her dad's mini bike with him in between rides. Nick had a lot of fun riding around and we enjoyed watching him! This Easter was pretty great!

I know it's not going to be too long before Piper insists on riding around with him on some of this fun toys he has, too. She is very daring, this little girl.

Nick's mom and stepdad came over after we all got home and gave Piper some more Easter gifts! It was still warm out so she opened her gifts outside! This girl is so blessed and loved!

As we come out of Easter weekend, I have to say that it is not lost upon me how blessed we are to have a healthy, happy family. These past couple weeks have been challenging with Piper being sick, but now that she is healthy we are more thankful than ever before. 

God is good, and we are so blessed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I can't believe these past eight days have only been eight days in length. It seems like Piper has been sick for a month and that it is never-ending. Right now, she is coughing up a storm and her breathing is raspy. It's sad to see, and sad to hear. I hope she gets well soon.

In knowing that my daughter has been sick, it's no surprise that I haven't been caring much for myself in these past eight days. However, one thing that I have been doing to care for myself is taking some quiet moments to read a couple of my favorite Bible study plans.

For Christmas, my husband bought me a Kindle Fire. I love to read the Bible on my Kindle. It's a true luxury! Like I said, I have a couple favorite Bible study plans. Most of my favorites at this time pertain to being a mom.

Current Bible Study Favorites:

Today, I want to share with you the devotional content from day 4 of the "No More Perfect Moms" study. It's not actually directly linked to being a mom, it's a devotional that any woman or even any man could benefit from reading. It's about how we were all "fearfully and wonderfully made".

"When you look at yourself in the mirror, what filter do you see yourself through? Do you compare what you see in the mirror to what you see in magazine articles and television shows? Or do you see yourself through God’s eyes? His eyes care more about the condition of your heart than the condition of your skin. We can make peace with our bodies if we will learn to see it through God’s eyes. Let’s explore what God says about our bodies and our hearts.

First Corinthians 6:19–20 asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (ESV). A little earlier in 1 Corinthians we read, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? . . . For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:16–17 ESV). From the book of Romans comes this instruction: “I appeal to you . . . present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1 ESV). First Corinthians also reminds us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV). All of these verses tell us that our bodies belong to God. He asks us to take care of our bodies and treat them like the Holy Spirit’s precious home. So taking care of our physical bodies is a stewardship issue. We are taking care of something that doesn’t actually belong to us, but instead belongs to God.

When you consider these verses, do you get the feeling that your body is actually a gift from God? I do. In fact, it’s a gift God made Himself! In Psalm 139 we discover, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:13–14). . . .
Now imagine God knitting together your body. When the last stitch is complete, He says, “If you EVER wonder if I love you, just look at this incredible body I’ve given you. It is evidence of sacrifice and a heart full of love for you.” Our bodies are truly miraculous. . . . The human body is an intricate piece of artwork God fashioned and gave to each one of us. Think about that the next time you stand in front of a mirror!"

There are many reasons to want to get healthy and even to lose weight. The fact that these bodies of ours do not actually belong to us, but instead belong to God has got to be the biggest reason to want to take care of ourselves. Just something else to think about on this journey of losing weight, while living life.

Readers, do you have any favorite bible study plans that you would like to share? I'm looking for more!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Piper's Hospital Stay

Last week was one of the top three hardest weeks of my life. Piper ended up getting severely dehydrated from gastroenteritis.

We took Piper to the Emergency Room on Wednesday morning after going about 24 hours without a wet diaper. When I say we, I mean my mother-in-law and I. My husband was sick at home and was barely able to even stand up until later on in the afternoon. He came in to be with us as soon as he was physically able to be there.

While we were in the Emergency Room, they did blood work on Piper which showed that her carbon dioxide level was very low and that her glucose was also out of normal range. The doctor admitted Piper overnight in the pediatric unit. Once we got up to her room, things got a little easier because there was a crib we could set her in. The hours in the Emergency Room were tough!

The entire experience was hard, and I don't know how I would have done it all without my mother-in-law. Around noon, I started getting the same thing that Piper and my husband were both sick with. It was hard to stand and walk around with Piper in my arms. My mother-in-law helped me emotionally, mentally and physically. I could never thank her enough for being there for us.

It was all hard, but the hardest part of our stay was having Piper get an IV. The IV team just couldn't get a vein at first. They tried in one arm and thought they had it but lost it. They were going to try the other arm. After about 15 minutes of Piper screaming, I told them they had to go and try again later after she had a chance to calm down. A few hours later, they finally got the IV in her other arm and she started getting the fluids she needed.

Unfortunately, Piper didn't get all of the fluids she needed. They wanted her to get two bags of fluid, but her IV kept kinking, which would sound off an alarm every 30-90 seconds. My husband had to sit in the chair with her and pull the brace on her arm back so her arm would stay as straight as possible. This was torture for us all. Piper didn't want to be constrained for five minutes, let alone for the entire night!

The doctor initially wanted Piper to get IV fluids throughout the entire night but, since the alarm would bring Piper to tears, we all knew she would have gotten no rest at all that night. The doctor decided it would be best for Piper to get rest over the second bag of fluids so, after getting one small bag of fluids, they gave her a saline stop.

Day two in the hospital, Piper was just done with it all. She started escaping from the room any chance she could and even crawled through the nurses station once (with my husband right behind her). Everyone knew she was doing better but we had to wait for the doctor to come in to see her before we could go.

Finally, sometime around noon, we were released to go home.

Piper has been keeping most of her fluids and food down since we have been home. Unfortunately, she caught something else while we were in the hospital and has been dealing with some respiratory issues since being home. We are all so ready for our girl to be better; hopefully in time for Easter!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Piper vs. Stomach Bug

Tuesday already?! Wow. Time flies when you have a toddler with a stomach bug. That's right, my poor Piper Grace is sick. Thankfully, before she got sick, we had one really fun weekend.

On Friday evening, my husband and I took Piper out to our favorite Sports Bar for dinner. She had so much fun and she was such a good girl. We learned that Piper loves pickles and pretty much anything else that we had on our plates.

On Saturday, we did yard work. Piper played outside with us and we actually got a lot done in our gardens.

On Sunday, Nick's side of the family came over and we colored Easter eggs. Piper enjoyed visiting with everyone but she started to get cranky after a while. It was later that night, or rather at 2 a.m. on Monday when she started to get sick.

This is Piper's first run in with a stomach bug. She was getting sick 4 times an hour for the first 4 hours and then we started to finally get a break around 6 a.m. Monday seemed like it lasted forever and yet, at the same time, it went by fast. By the time I got Piper down for bed last night, I basically collapsed in my own bed with a pint of chocolate ice cream. I did share some of the pint with my husband.
Right as my husband and I were about to go to sleep last night, we heard the cries. Piper was getting sick again. We ended up taking three showers in about two hours. The three of us didn't get to bed until about midnight. Thankfully, we were able to sleep a couple hours after that.
Today, Piper is doing a little better. She is only eating crackers, noodles and rice right now. It's a big improvement from just a couple little crackers yesterday. She's definitely dehydrated so I'm keeping a close eye on her and trying to push fluids all that I can.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mid-March Resolution Check-in

It's almost mid-March. Wait a minute; that just does not seem right but, it's true! In knowing this, I think it's about time that I revisit my 2016 New Year Resolution and Goal list. The last time that I revisited this list was at the end of January. So, the progress made below is progress made since that time.

Here's a little key for you to better understand:
Red = did not work on goal or no progress made
Yellow = began working on goal but did not stay consistent
Green = success/consistently working toward goal!

2016 Resolutions/Goals

- More in-person Church (and online sermons)
- Lose 50 lbs. (starting weight: 250 lbs.)
- More date nights (twice a month would be nice)
- Sleep more (this one is kind of a joke)
- More calorie tracking

Business (Anything Rustic)
- More craft shows (at least four)
- Monthly book-keeping folders
- Work less with more intention
- Bi-weekly traveling office work (sheetz cafe, starbucks, etc.)
- More scheduled work; less blending personal/work time

- Aim for six posts a week
- Better balance with updates
- Learn SEO
- More recipes!
- More scheduled writing time

I'm really happy to see more green on my list during this check-in compared to the last one.

Ready for a date night with my guy <3

Date night's with my husband have been plenty and it's been wonderful! 

I've really been rocking it with counting calories and so that's been helping my weight loss. 

My business has been getting more attention and thanks to my blog post on maintaining balance, I feel really good about my time spent.

Unfortunately, my trouble area is clear. My blog has been getting the short end of the stick as far as my attention goes. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to aim for six posts a week but I've been averaging more like three - four posts a week. That is probably because I haven't been scheduling much time to write, and so I just write whenever I get the chance. I'm going to try to get better at this, along with the rest of my goals for the year!

Readers, did you make any resolutions? When did you last check-in? How are you doing with your goals?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Losing Weight with a Toddler

It's a happy day over here! Mostly because it's Friday! I'm also happy because my husband brought home a pretty little bouquet of flowers for me after work last night. He said a lot of sweet things about my hard work this week when he gave them to me, too.

Today, I didn't work very hard. It's been overcast skies out all day and that made me just want to crawl right back into bed during Piper's nap. So I did. It was wonderful! I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and then stayed in bed reading the Bible until P woke up.

Today was weigh in day! I've been weighing in on Fridays for a couple weeks and it's been working well for me.

This morning I was happy to find that I didn't gain any weight this week. I didn't lose anything, either. I am still at 246 lbs. I'm down 7 lbs. from mid-February!

Balance helped me maintain my loss this week. I counted calories almost every day, with the exception of a night out with some girlfriends. I had a couple beers and pizza that evening, however, I was a good girl for the rest of the week. Balance is my friend!

Eating with my toddler around is another way I'm keeping the weight off. Anytime I eat in front of Piper, she says "oh wow" and asks for a bite or "more". 

I'm mostly joking about Piper helping me lose weight by eating half of everything I eat. Sometimes I hide so she can't see me. Everyone does that though, right? Hah.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Best Week in a Long Time

If you look closely at the picture below, you'll see the world's tiniest little pony tail on the back of Piper's head. Try not to smile at that, it's hard not to, I know.

I know that it's Thursday but I need to take you back to Tuesday afternoon. It was another great Spring-like day and so Piper and I decided to blow bubbles on the front porch while we waited for Evan to get off the bus.

Once Evan arrived, we left for the park. This was our second day in a row at the park. Piper must have remembered going there the day before because she was so happy when she pointed at the merry-go-round, as if she wanted to ride it again.

Yesterday was the warmest day of the week. The sun was shining and I had all of the windows in my house open. The fresh air has been amazing for our souls! Piper and I got ready for our Wednesday earlier than usual. We were out of the door by 9 a.m.

Our first stop of the day was to the grocery store. We grabbed some coffee, lunch meat and more fruit pouch snacks for the big girl. I do make my own homemade snack pouches for Piper when I can, but she is going through them so fast, I often supplement with the organic fruit pouches from the store. 

After grocery shopping, we visited my sister. She is on Spring break and so we got her out of bed to go for a walk down to the park. We packed a little picnic lunch and ate together under the gazebo. Spring Weather + Playing at the Park + Walking Outside + Picnic Lunches = the best week in a long time!

When Piper and I got home, she went right down for a nap. I had some work to get done on a couple of banners but it was over 70 degrees outside. I didn't want to go inside! So, I didn't. I brought all of my craft supplies out to our patio table and worked there, instead.

My work doesn't ever really feel like work to begin with because I love to craft but, working outside took that feeling to a whole other level. I could really get use to this outside office business.

Since it was Wednesday, Nick was home by 4 p.m.! We did some yard work for a little while before it was time for me to get ready for a dinner out with some friends! At dinner, I had the most amazing BBQ Chicken pizza. Pair that with a couple of beers and laughter with friends; it was the perfect end to a great day!

Tomorrow is weigh-in day. Even though I had a couple beers and some pizza last night, I'm not too worried about my weigh-in. I know that I've done really well with staying within calories this week so my little splurge last night shouldn't put me too much over. At least I hope not!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Spring has Arrived (We Hope)

Spring has arrived! 

Actually, I'm not sure if Spring is here to stay or if we're just getting a taste of Spring but, Piper and I have been enjoying these past couple of days, outside! Being a work-at-home and stay-at-home mom is never more rewarding than during the warmer weather months!

Yesterday morning, I saw the temperature start to climb to above 60 and so I worked my tail off during Piper's nap. I put the finishing touches on a couple of banners that needed to be shipped out and got it all done by the time she woke up. Once she woke up, we packed up, shipped out the banners and we went out to play!

First, we visited Piper's great grandma. Piper showed "nana" how she could walk on her own and then she ran (in her walker) all around the big cement driveway. After running all over, we sat Piper down in the grass. Piper loves the grass! She crawled all around and talked gibberish to it for a while.

When it was time to get my little brother Evan off the bus, we waited for him in the car at the end of our driveway. He was so excited to see us waiting there; he came up to the window and he said, "what do I do?" I told him, "if you want to go to the park, you can get in!" He was so happy!

Piper rode the merry-go-round a couple times and then ate a snack while she watched Evan slide down the slides. Once the sun started going down a bit, the temperature started to drop and it was time to head home.

This morning, we went to visit "nana" and "papa" again. I left Piper there for about an hour while I got some work done back at home. It's so nice to only live a couple minutes away from most of our family! While I was working, Piper had fun, going around the neighborhood in her stroller.

Right now, Piper is napping and I'm about to work on the house a bit so we can go to the park again, tonight. Three cheers for Spring weather!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Balance with Working at Home

As I sat down to begin writing a post to share today, a certain topic tugged at my heart. The topic I need to discuss today is on balance. It's always a goal of mine to have balance. I strive for balance in my diet; balance between being a work-at-home mom and being a stay-at-home mom; balance between being a good friend and being a good family member, and; balance between being a mom and being a wife. 

There's a lot in this life that requires balance. Sometimes there's more to balance and sometimes there's less to balance, depending on the season of life we're in.

While I've been struggling to maintain balance between almost everything these days, the one balancing act that has been demanding the most attention from me right now would be the balance between being a work-at-home mom and being a stay-at-home mom.

As you may know, last year I left my career as a paralegal to become a stay-at-home mom. About six months into motherhood, I also took on the challenge of starting my own at-home crafting business. The first months in business were slow, and so balance between being a work-at-home mom and a stay-at-home mom was relatively simple. Piper was a very good napper at the time, and that is when I would get most of my work done.

Now a days, Piper is only taking one nap a day and the length of the nap varies greatly. Some days I have 45 minutes to work, and other days I have a couple hours to get things done. While this was a good amount of time to work with a few months ago, it's starting to become more of a struggle to get everything done in a week of only 5 - 10 hours worth of work. 

Right now, sales for "Anything Rustic" are increasing along with the time needed to complete my crafting tasks. On top of the crafting, there's a lot of behind the scenes paperwork that I'm needing more time to work on, as well.

While I would love for my crafting business to flourish with me only working during Piper's nap schedule, I also know that isn't possible with the change in Piper's nap routine. If I want my business to continue to grow, I need to give in and expand my working hours.

I've been very hesitant to work nights and weekends on my business but, I'm slowly realizing that it needs to happen sometimes. I know that I am working at home, so it may not seem like a big deal, but it was a big deal to me. Time spent with loved ones will always be more important than money to me. So, the struggle is real.

This past week, I gave in and worked beyond Piper's nap schedule. I worked while Piper was awake, I worked at night after Piper went to sleep, and I also worked for a few hours away from home.

I didn't want to have to work while Piper was awake, but she woke up early from her nap at the same time there was a good webinar on accounting for my business. Piper didn't seem to mind much sitting in on the webinar, we both ate lunch together and I was able to catch half of the webinar while she ate.

I didn't want to work after Piper went to sleep for the night; I wanted to curl up with my husband on the couch and watch our shows, instead. In order to keep the balance, my husband worked along side me, and we laughed through it all.

I didn't want to leave the house on a Saturday to get paperwork done without the distractions of my family playing in the background; I wanted to be there, with them, playing, too. However, when I got back home, I was greeted with a happy baby and a happy husband. They were greeted with a less-stressed, happy mom and wife.

These are just a few little sacrifices I made last week to maintain balance with my work, and; instead of feeling guilty about my time spent on the business, I'm coming to realize that it's just a part of keeping the balance of it all.

As my business (hopefully) continues to grow this year, I am also intending to grow along with it. I intend to grow in grace and love. Grace for when I feel like I'm not keeping balance of it all, and love for a few different reasons. Love for myself, as I'm doing the best I can. Love for God and love for my family, as they are the beacon of light that drives me further in this journey we call life.

Friday, March 4, 2016

McDonalds at 9 PM + Weigh in Day

It's weigh-in day!

I know that it's only the fourth day of March but, last week I found out that I actually get some motivation from weighing in on Friday mornings! It motivates me to stay good throughout the weekend.

Today's weigh in was not as amazing as last Friday's weigh in (where I lost six pounds in one week). This morning I weighed in at 246 lbs. This week I lost one pound!

Do I wish I would have lost big again this week? Sure! Who wouldn't? The truth is though, I didn't really do anything to warrant another big loss. I did stay within calories this week, just like I did last week, however; I didn't drink very much water. I also got out of the habit of taking my vitamins daily, and I didn't eat as many fruits and vegetables, either. 

Going to bed earlier last week really seemed to help me lose the weight, too. This week, I was busy with a lot of orders for my at-home craft business, so there were a couple late nights. 

Specifically, last night, I had a "Quarter Pounder with Cheese" from McDonald's at like 9 p.m. simply because I had the calories and I was craving a burger. My husband was hungry too, so we treated ourselves to a greasy treat while we worked late on some banners.

Even with that greasy treat, I am a pound down this morning for the entire week. Staying within calories definitely works for me, but doing it in a way that is more healthy (like not eating McDonalds at 9 p.m.) provides better results. The proof is in last week!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fun Week + Massage Bliss

I can't believe it's already Thursday. They say time flies when you're having fun, and us girls have been having fun, alright!

Remember how I told you that Monday's and Tuesday's are our long days and they can be tough, sometimes? Well, we fixed that by getting out of the house on both days! On Monday, we visited "grandpa Fred" during his lunch. Piper ate a little fruit pouch during our visit and she even stole a couple noodles from grandpa Fred, too. 

After we were done visiting grandpa, we met "dada" between work and his night class. During our time together, we went shopping for some Easter goodies. Target for the win!

On Tuesday, Piper and I met up with my friend, Leah, and her little boy, Rowan. We went to the mall, which ended up being a better idea than we even knew! The mall had a little bit of everything for all four of us.

We went shopping for a bit and then decided to let the kids try out the play place in the concourse. We weren't sure if the kids were old enough to enjoy themselves, but they actually had a lot of fun! After they were done playing, we all grabbed lunch at the food court. It was so nice to do so much all in the same building. The mall is definitely the place to go during these cold winter months. Piper and I both enjoyed it!

On Wednesday, we stayed home. Piper started getting more brave with her walking and took a few spills. (There's a video of her walking on my Instagram account.) She hit her head pretty hard at one point but, within about 10 minutes she was giving me this smile:

Last night, after Nick got home, I left for a couple appointments. I have been looking forward to these appointments for weeks. I was scheduled for a massage and chiropractic appointment. It was complete bliss! I had an hour, full body massage, on a Wednesday evening. I just kept thinking, "whose life is this"? What an absolute treat!

Today is not as luxurious as last night, but I am still feeling the great side affects from my massage. Piper is napping right now and so I'm eating a quick lunch. It's the one pictured above. I've been craving pepperoni pizza but decided that since I've had a lot (I mean, a lot!) of pizza lately, I would make a pepperoni pizza salad, instead. Let's call it balance!

Readers, have you ever made a pepperoni pizza salad?