Friday, December 30, 2011
This year I really want to focus on my relationship with Christ. I want His presence to pervade every part of my life, so that others, and especially my children, may see Christ in it. Therefore I want to:
*Read through the Bible in a year again. It’s been years since I’ve done this, but there are parts I’ve missed by just reading aimlessly, and I really want to be purposeful about the time I spend again.
*Focus on prayer. I’m a far cry from a prayer warrior, but I want to be. My goal this year is to make prayer a constant thing…as well as a daily time.
*Be more intentional about showing others Christ. How many times in the past year have I shared Christ with others? Too little. I want to talk about Him with everyone I know and meet. I don’t want to be afraid to ask others if they know Him. What good is my life if He’s not living in me?
I’ve always tried to exercise and eat right, but I want to be better about this. My body is God’s temple, so I should treat it that way. Not to mention that I want to give my children the best chance they can have…not to mention being the best, able wife and mother I an be.
*Be more consistent with working out. Thankfully, this is something my husband and I are focusing on together this year. We need to set goals for ourselves that we are able to achieve. Before this baby comes in August, I want to be in the best shape I can be. I want to be able to keep up with a newborn, as well as work hard to get my body back for my husband. I’m never, ever, going to “let myself go”.
*Eat better. This takes baby steps and lots of small goals, but I think this is definitely achievable. Again, my husband is on board with this. This year, we’ll strive to eat less processed foods, and eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and good foods. I believe that the food I put in my body is very important to the health of the baby growing within me. If I only feed myself junk, that’s all baby will be getting. What a big motivator that is!
*Be more active in general. This pregnancy has already left me feeling very tired, and I know that rest is important. However, I’d like to be more active in my actual work time. What I mean is, I want to live each moment to the fullest and not waste a sigle minute. I want to be intentional about my “down” time as well as my “active” time. I want to cut out all the junk and useless activities that are crowding my life.
I’m a big fan of never stopping learning. I strive to exercise my mind and learn something new every day, but in the past I haven’t been very good at this. This year, I want to exercise my mind better.
*Read more. I love reading, and it’s one of the best ways to learn and exercise your mind. Unfortunately, I don’t always carve out the time for it. Reading is something I can definitely do in my purposeful “down” time.
*Watch more educational programs. Sometimes I’m tempted to turn on the t.v. and watch it mindlessly. I don’t want to do that this year. Yes, there are times when that’s relaxing, but for the most part I could be watching something thought-provoking or educational instead. Not to mention I could really cut out some of the time I spend watching television anyway!
*Learn new skills. What better way to keep my mind engaged than to never stop learning new skills? This year, I want to learn more about sewing and crocheting, as well as gardening, home improvement, preserving, and nutrition. I’m finding things I’m interested in, and that I can apply to my everyday life, and learning more about it. It’s great!
Stay tuned as I break these nine goals into goals for each month, as well as update you on how I’m doing. What are some of thing things you are resolving to do this year/setting goals about?
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Last Christmas we spent here in Arkansas. This Christmas we spent with my family in Arizona and California. We also did an early Christmas with my in-laws the weekend before.
We were living in a little rent home that was rather drafty. We’re now snug in our own house, very warm and toasty…and with two fireplaces.
We drove up to Northwest Arkansas to get a live Christmas tree and a few ornaments. We took a quick trip to Heber Springs to get one. The one this year turned out ugly, so we’ll probably cut our own down next year.
Our ornament that year was “Our 1st Christmas Together”. We bought a house ornament at Silver Dollar City to represent our new home. And my parents got us a “1st Christmas in Our New House” ornament too!
Since it was our first Christmas together, we had to get pretty much everything, which was expensive. We hardly had to buy anything this year. We even had outside lights all ready to go!
Our stockings (which I made), were laid on our arm chair, since we had no fireplace or anywhere to hang them. This year we have a mantel to hang our stockings on!
I gave Andy a nice sport coat. I have lots of ideas this year. The blu-ray player was our main present, but I also got Andy some nice leather gloves, a movie, and some golf supplies.
He gave me a ton of office supplies (and a new printer!). In addition to the blu-ray player, Andy got me a new camera (I was desperately needing one). He also bought us a tablet computer!
Our puppy (still an inside dog then) even got a few treats in her stocking. :) Both the cat and dog are outside animals now. Andy was sweet and got them some stocking stuffers anyway. :)
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my in-laws. This year we spent with my family out west.
My BIL and SIL drove down from Missouri for Christmas Day. Our early Christmas with the in-laws was up at my BIL and SIL’s house in Missouri.
The day after Christmas, my mother-in-laws birthday, we threw a surprise party. Unfortunately we missed her birthday this year…we’ll have to try to make it up!
The day after that, Andy and I took a spontaneous three-day trip out to North Carolina and had a blast. We were still out West this year, so no spontaneous trips! We did get to go to Disneyland though. Woo-hoo!
New Years Eve I drove down to Little Rock, despite tornado weather (eek!), to pick up my sister from the airport. New Year’s Eve we’ll be home in Arkansas, with one of my sister’s visiting.
New Years Day Andy dropped my sister and I off at the church at 3:30 am to leave for Passion 2011. No, we didn’t stay up til midnight. We might stay up late this year. We don’t leave for Passion until January 2nd.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Andy and I have always dreamed of having children of our own. We prayed and waited and hoped for the day when we would be blessed with them, either through birth or adoption.
Well, Andy and I have are pleased to announce that that day has come. Coming in August, the Baker household is expecting a little bundle. Yes, that’s right…I’M PREGNANT! We found out just a few short weeks ago, and surprised our families for Christmas. What great timing!
We are so, SO excited about the new life God has blessed us with. We feel so overwhelmed and blessed by this gift, and we could hardly wait to share it with you all!
And so, the answers to the big questions:
When are you due? I’m estimating sometime around August 12th…close to Andy’s birthday!
Will you find out if it’s a boy or girl? Yep. I used to think it would be fun not to, but Andy doesn’t, so we’re going to find out. :)
Do you want a boy or a girl? Either would be fine by us. We are just happy to know there’s a baby growing within me!
Do you have any names picked out? We’ve had a girl’s name picked out since before we were married, and a boy’s name for quite some time now, so, yes. Wouldn’t you like to know? I might tell you…later. :P
What delivery route will you go? We live in a rural area, so we’re both most comfortable with a hospital birth. There aren’t any certified midwives in the area or birthing clinics, and the closest hospital itself where they deliver babies is 45 minutes away. So, We’re planning on going the hospital route with an OB/GYN doctor. Other than that, I’d prefer as natural as possible…so we’ll see what happens!
Morning Sickness? A little, but not too bad. It tends to come in waves every once in a while, and I haven’t thrown up or anything. I’m very blessed to know that the reason behind it is the precious life growing within my womb!
Any other weird symptoms? Being pregnant is weird, let me just tell you. There are days I feel completely exhausted for no reason whatsoever. Indigestion and soreness also come with the territory.
Baby bump yet? Not yet. I’m only 7 weeks along, so we’ll see in a couple more weeks.
First doctor’s appointment? We have our first doctor’s appointment in a couple of weeks and we’re supposed to get an ultrasound then. I can’t wait to see our precious baby!
I’m so excited to be able to share this new journey with you. When I’m tempted to worry about the baby or about the future, I remind myself that this baby is His. He created him/her, and this sweet baby is in His hands. What have I to fear or worry about? I know that this baby was given to us for a reason and a purpose. I’m so pleased to get to be a part of His amazing plan!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
And the winner of the My Memories suite is...Ashley Schulte! Congratulations!!!
Don't forget...even if you didn't win you can still use my code, STMMMS83953 , to get $10 off the purchase of My Memories Suite v3. It would make a great gift for friends and family (hint, hint...Mom for Christmas!) This code doesn't expire, so feel free to use it anytime!
Monday, December 19, 2011
Last night we got home from Missouri (which was great...more to come!) to find Sam missing...with her tie out. It was ten o'clock at night, dark, and our sweet Sam was nowhere to be found. We called and called, and Andy even drove around for awhile with the four wheeler, but still no sign of her.
I resigned myself to go to bed, knowing that God knew where she was and would take care of her.
I realized we left our toothbrushes in the car and went out to get them. I decided to call one last time. This time, I heard a very faint whine. I knew it was Sam. Only, it wasn't coming from the field behind our house like I thought...it was coming from across the street.
I rushed inside to get Andy, who got the four wheeler out again. Poor guy, I was kind of freaking out a little. I think I woke up all our neighbors when I realized our cat was trying to follow us across the street in front of cars. But I digress.
Andy found her behind the manufacturing building across from us. Her tie out was badly tangled in big pieces of lumber...so much so that Andy left it...but she was okay. I was so thankful, and I knew God had planned my going back to get the toothbrushes. I never would have heard her cries had I not been out front, where I didn't expect to find her.
Anyway, Andy was very sweet about it and got our little buddy all tucked in for the night. I don't think anymore tie outs are in her future...apparently she's just a little Houdini.
171. For God showing us where our little friend was stuck.
172. For Sam being totally fine...just a little scared. (No telling how long she'd been there!)
173. For a wonderful weekend with family in Missouri.
174. For the chance to sleep in two days in a row.
175. For delicious treats and Christmas goodies.
176. For the excitement of seeing my family this next weekend.
177. For looking forward to a New Year, and many new things to come.
178. For finding an ornament that summed up our year perfectly...and half off too!
179. For a husband who goes out in the middle of the night looking for our dog.
180. For sweet buddies who make our life a little big brighter (I'm so thankful for Sam and Elsa!)
To see the rules and to enter click here.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Right now, my dear husband and his brother are "blowing stuff up" in the other room...aka playing video games. Unfortunately, no one else has arrived yet. The boys very nicely suggested I "Facebook stalk" until some other girls arrive.
Thankfully, I'm kind of enjoying the time to just sit here and relax by myself. I know that once some more people start pouring in chaos will ensue. And the truth is, I've had so little "alone" time these past few crazy weeks that I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
Sometimes it's nice to not have anything to do.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
My Memories SuiteGrowing up, I had friends that scrapbooked. One particular friend had a mom who turned their family room into a scrapbooking paradise. She had everything in her numerous cabinets known to scrapbookers, and I loved going over and making things with them. Taking it home and doing it myself was another story.
I’ve had various scrapbook kits given to me over the years. Usually I would start on something, and then fizzle out a couple of pages in. It was simply too much work…and the supplies cost too much.
Enter in My Memories, a place that’s taking the scrapbooking that everyone loves and turning it into a viable pastime for this new technologically-advanced age. My Memories Suite is digital scrapbooking software that makes scrapbooking far more accessible and doable for someone like me. I don’t have to print off pictures or cut them out. I don’t have to even buy endless cut-outs and letters. With My Memories Suite I can simply click on a picture on my computer and drop it in…simple as that!
The GiveawayDid I spark your interest? Good, because I’m happy to announce I’m giving away My Memories Suite V3 to one lucky follower! Here’s how to enter:
Mandatory entry—Go to My Memories and look through their site. Then, comment on this blog post with your favorite digital background. Simple as that!
For extra entries you can:
1. Follow me on Google Friend Connect, Facebook, or Twitter. (1 entry each)
2. Follow My Memories on Facebook, Twitter, or on their blog.
2. Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. (1 entries each)
3. Share this giveaway with the readers of your blog. (2 extra entries!)
Be sure to tell me what you did in another comment on this blog post!
The giveaway closes Monday night, December 19th, at midnight. The winner will be selected at random and announced Tuesday morning.
But wait…there’s more!Even if you don’t win the giveaway, I’ve got some great savings for you. You can save $10 off the purchase of My Memories Suite v3, plus get $10 of free extra downloads, using the code below:
Just enter it into the "discount code" box as you check out!
Monday, December 12, 2011
161. The joy of being completely done with our escrow work. Now we can work on our house on our own time!
162. Finally getting my voice back after a nasty cold last week.
163. Talking to one of my sisters who is now done with student teaching...yay for graduating!
164. Going out for lunch with my man mid-week. Always fun!
165. Spending time with wonderful ladies from church at a Christmas party.
166. Learning to play spades with some pretty awesome people.
167. The blessing of friends, old and new.
168. Having friends over for chili Friday night, and their two-year-old son wondering why on earth our poor Christmas tree was so naked. (We haven't had time to decorate it yet!)
169. Seeing the people of our church donate so generously to send the college group to Passion 2012. Even at Christmastime and even in hard economic times. We raised over $4000 in one day!
170. Looking forward to time spent with family the next few weeks.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Now, modesty is important. I believe how we dress and act should be a reflection of Him who lives within us. But I don’t think wearing paper bags or revealing your body in public is an accurate reflection of Him.
So where do you stand? Where do you draw the line on modesty?
As women, I believe that we don’t often set our standards where we should. When I was graduating from high school, I had it in my head that the nice guys like I wanted to marry would like me better if I wore mostly skirts, did my hair like Pride and Prejudice, and wore very light makeup. Why I thought this, I have no idea. I guess it was from looking around at different families and what the wives and daughters in them wore.
The funny thing is, my husband really likes when I wear jeans. He likes dresses and skirts, but only when they’re cute…and don’t look like a prairie dress. Actually, since we’ve gotten married, my “modesty line” has gotten a tad more lenient. Not because I’m married and don’t have to worry about it anymore, but because Andy has communicated to me that he thought many things were fine. In the past year and a half I’ve started wearing skirts that are just a little bit shorter, shorts that aren’t guy’s basketball shirts, and tank tops without a shrug. I know, shocking right? I’m not dressing skanky or overtly worldly…I’m just not dressing like Laura Ingall’s Wilder anymore. Why?
I believe that when I think about what to wear, how to do my hair, and what make up to put on, I should always be thinking about my husband. When I take the time to dress to please him and look cute, then I’m showing him how much I value him.
Some days I still feel uncomfortable. I’m always afraid of what people will think, and I definitely dress differently in certain settings. But mostly I’m learning to just think about what my husband likes. To me, it’s more important to look nice for my husband than to worry about what judgmental people will say.
And before you get to thinking that my husband only likes “superficial” things, then let me clear that up. It’s not true! My husband thinks I’m beautiful without any makeup on and a messy bed-head. And he doesn’t forget to tell me so. Like I said, it’s more about showing him how much I value him, and my wanting him to be proud of me. If you knew a certain meal was your hubby’s favorite, wouldn’t you want to cook it for him? And isn’t he proud to show off that meal at the church potluck? It’s not superficial, it’s being a good wife.
So stop setting rules that have no grounds and start asking your hubby how he would like you to dress. I can promise you, he doesn’t want a potato sack for a wife, and neither does he want a wife who shows off her body. He wants a wife that takes the time to dress nice for him. It’s like the wrapper on a box of chocolates.
Just make sure there’s some chocolate under that wrapper. ;)
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I wasn’t sure who exactly classified as a young lady, but it seemed like the book was written more for ages 12-16 than anything. It also contained lots of modern advice about acting like a lady. In this day and age, a true “lady” is hard to find, so I was glad that this book emphasized how important being one still is. I especially liked it’s emphasis on modern social areas, such as texting or Facebook. I guess there’s hope that manners and etiquette can still be used in our technology-saturated lives.
My only critique was that I wasn’t exactly sure how many young girls in the target age would actually read such a book. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think at that age I would have fully appreciated a non-fiction book with short points to it. I might have skimmed it, but not actually read it. It would have seemed more appropriate to write the book for mothers in order to help them know what to teach their daughters.
Overall, though, it was a good, short read, and I was pleased to find I learned a lot of new pieces of etiquette as well. I would recommend this for mother’s or teenage girls who want to learn a little more about etiquette and manners.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Often I’m ashamed to admit what our food budget is each month, not because it’s high, but because I see so many young couples with much lower food budgets. $25 a week for two people?! You’re kidding me, right?!
The fact of the matter is, these people are probably eating fairly healthy. Fruits and veggies don’t cost too much if you buy them on sale, right? But what about those of us that are interested in organic foods, or whose husband’s are big “meat” eaters?
I recently saw someone calculate what they spent on a specific meal that contained eggs. The calculated that for 3 eggs they spent 33 cents. I immediately knew they were buying the cheapest eggs at the store, something I used to do. You couldn’t buy organic egg, free-range eggs for that much. For what I spend on them, the cost would be more like 86 cents. Not huge, no, but those things add up.
If I wanted to buy everything organic, I would be spending a lot. Not to mention those options are limited in my area. I typically buy all my groceries at Walmart, and the closest Whole Food’s market is 2 hours away. Not to mention their prices are really high. What’s a girl to do?
My answer is to do what you can, but don’t go crazy. I probably won’t be decreasing my food budget anytime soon. Simply put, as soon as I learn to save money on one item, I replace that cost with something organic. Here are my tips for buying whole, organic foods without breaking the bank.
1.) Don’t expect to be able to change everything overnight. Just as learning to save money takes time, so does finding ways to eat organically within your budget. Like I said, I don’t buy everything organic…far from it. But I’m working towards it. And some of that takes more than finding “deals” at the grocery store. Yes, I’d love to be able to buy all organic, grass-fed, hormone-free meat. But I can’t pay $8/lb for it. My goal in the future? Buy a share in a cow or, better yet, raise my own cow…something that’s very feasible in my area. I’m also looking into raising my own chickens, and I’m pressuring my man to bring me home a deer this weekend. :)
Other goals I have for the future are to grow and can as much as possible (making organic a possibility and saving money), plan trips to Little Rock better so I can visit the Whole Foods market, and finding ways to make more things from scratch.
2.) Spend Money Based on What’s Most Valuable to You. To me, buying hormone-free, high quality dairy products and eggs is important to me, so that’s where I spend my money. Even my husband would tell you how easy it is to tell the difference between organic, free-range eggs and the plain, cheap kind. You can tell just looking at them!
I also buy produce based on this as well. My mom gave me a little card listing which produce contains the most pesticides and which don’t, and I always keep this handy. I’m more likely to spend extra money buying organic celery, because regular celery usually contains so many pesticides. I don’t, buy organic onions or sweet potatoes, unless they’re on-sale, because they typically contain fewer pesticides.
3.) Vary Your Eating Based on What’s On-Sale. I love apples. Like I said, however, apples, however, also are one of the top pesticide-laden produce. Thus, I don’t eat apples all the time. On occasion when I want to make an apple pie, I’ll buy the cheap ones, but usually I wait until the organic apples go on-sale and then stock up. The same goes for anything else I buy. Many things I just can’t afford to buy all the time, so they become a special treat when they are on sale. Typically, you can find organic produce on-sale when they’re in-season, so that’s the time to stock up and store what you can. Other than that, focus on the fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides and buy them. You can always supplement a few foods, despite their being expensive, such as organic spinach. Again, that goes with what you value.
4.) Take the Time to Search High-and-Low. Sometimes finding places to buy good food inexpensively just takes time. Don’t be afraid to ask people or look in unique stores. For instance, at our local farmer’s market in the summer there’s a vendor that sells local raw honey for a much cheaper price then you’d buy it at a store. So, I stocked up and bought enough to last me through the winter.
There’s also an Amish country store in town that sells freshly milled wheat flour, fresh-ground peanut butter, quinoa, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and many other things for very good prices. If you don’t have resources like this, look online or ask fellow health-food enthusiasts where they buy items. Search online for coupons on organic foods and produce. In the different produce seasons, check out the local newspaper to find farms where you can buy produce in bulk. If you know any older people in the area, ask them where to find wild berries. Just don’t be afraid to take the time! It’s an initial investment of time, but it saves so much time and money later!
5.) Learn to Make/Grow Your Own Foods. Milling organic wheat to make bread is still much cheaper than buying pre-made bread that’s filled with junk you don’t need. Sometimes eating the healthy way just takes a little extra time and effort, instead of extra money. Personally, I would prefer to spend time rather than money, and often it doesn’t take that much extra effort.
For instance, I cook my own dried beans to replace canned beans. This way, I can control what beans I’m using, avoid chemicals leached into my food from cans, and save a lot of money. Dried beans are dirt cheap. And really, once you get the hang of it, they don’t take too much time. Soak them, cook them, and you’re done. Take a Saturday to make a big batch and freeze portions. It’s great!
If you’re on a budget, don’t give up on eating whole, organic foods. Let me tell you, you can do it and still be on a budget. Just don’t obsess about it. If buying all organic or grass-fed isn’t in your budget, then don’t do it. Creating stress and stretching the budget just to eat the best you can isn’t worth it. Do what you can and no more. Your efforts alone will make a big difference in your family’s health…I promise!
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
It’s also been a busy season for us. Christmas tasks and house projects have our schedules filled to the brim. It’s nice to take the time to enjoy the season, though. Sunday afternoon it was rainy and chilly, so my husband and I snuggled up on the couch with a blanket, warm chili, and hot chocolate, and just enjoyed being together. All of our Christmas decorations aren’t up, and we still have gifts to buy, but we’re enjoying the time given to us.
151. The wonderful smell of a freshly-cut tree.
152. Hot chocolate on a rainy winter afternoon.
153. Extra parties and celebrations with friends.
154. Singing along to my favorite Christmas carols.
155. Looking forward to extra time spent with family over the holidays.
156. Already having decorations and things to put up…especially our “Our 1st Christmas” ornament.
157. Colorful Christmas lights on our house.
158. Cozy nights spent by the fire.
159. Nieces that are now at the hospital in Minot…one step closer to going home!
160. Fallen leaves and cold weather that remind you of new life that’s right around the corner in Spring.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Yesterday I was out in a long-sleeve t-shirt digging up garden beds and planting bulbs (that I never got to). It was cold, but oh-so-good for the soul. I needed to be out in the sun…even if it didn’t warm my skin.
Really, though, once I got over missing the leaves on the tree I’ve really been enjoying this transition into winter. The mornings are so beautiful and frosty. I look out our back window to see frost on the ground, and in the field behind us. And beyond the field the bluffs are suddenly visible between the trees. It’s beautiful.
In other news, I’m really excited about it being the Christmas season. I’ve been browsing the Christmas section at Walmart since October. Seriously.
Although we don’t have our Christmas decorations up yet, we’ve been blasting Christmas music, breaking out the hot chocolate, and feeling altogether in a Christmas-ey mood.
No, we may not have snow, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. :)
Andy, I love…
1.) How you value extended family so much. I’m so thankful to have so many family members, and I know that it’ll be so valuable to raising our children as well.
2.) That you always take care of me when I’m feeling sick. You are the best caretaker in the world!
3.) That you always tell me how and cute and beautiful I look, no matter how un-beautiful I look and feel.
4.) That you like my cooking. It makes me happy when you want seconds.
5.) That you crave variety. It keeps my life so interesting!
6.) That you put up with my crazy ideas, like fixing garden beds and planting bulbs in December. :)
7.) That you are so willing to help others. Everyone knows who to call when they need help with something.
8.) That you keep me in bed a little longer every morning. It’s hard to get up when you want me to stay!
9.) That you value and protect my sisters as your own. It means to much to me…and to them as well.
10.) That you are so faithful to me. I never have a doubt about your faithfulness to me…and I never will.