Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent 2015: Preparing Our Hearts

The season of Lent is upon us.  Are you ready?  I spent some time this weekend planning for our family practices during this season.  I hope this will be a good year for us as a family to institute some new, good family habits to help our home life center more closely on Christ.  At the same time, today, my heart grieves for the Christians murdered yesterday.  This Lent, I will be praying especially for the end to the violence in the Middle East.  Please join me. 

I'm planning to take the boys to our church's Ash Wednesday service.  M loves going to Church, and I think the application of ashes will help to demonstrate the change in the Church seasons for him.  Then we will come home and take down our Valentine's decorations and (hopefully) begin learning some new prayers and Christian songs.   

Personal Prayer Time:  I'm planning to get up 30 minutes early on a regular basis so I can return to a personal prayer time and devotional study each morning.  I'm planning on reading Scott Hahn's Signs of Life (it has 40 chapters, that aren't too long, so hopefully I can get through a chapter a day).
Prayer Chain: Over the weekend, I cut out 40 strips of paper and wrote the names of forty people/families/causes on each one.  I'll let M pick one each morning, and then we will pray for that person/family/cause that day, and turn the strips into a prayer chain of color to decorate our home for Easter.  I set out to do this last year, but didn't, and I can't really recall why it fell apart.  But I'm ready this year!

Fasting/Family Disciplines
My Individual Fasting: I will be observing the no meat fast.  I'm also going to give up soda (diet coke/coke zero), sweets and french fries.  My favorite food!  In light of recent events in our world, that seems rather trivial, but I will be trying to focus on increased prayer for persecuted Christians and peace in our world!  I'm also going to fast from iPad/random phone browsing during the day for me.  If I'm going to be internet-ing, it needs to be purposeful and not just random scrolling while I'm giving our sweet baby a bottle.
Family Practices: I asked my husband about trying out the "count to 40" before meals idea that I learned about from Kendra's blog at Catholic All Year.  He is on board, so we are going to try it this year!  I'm excited.  I'll also put out a bean jar, which hopefully will be filled with beans of good deeds, to be replaced with jelly beans on Easter.  M is only 2, but he is so observant, so I'm hoping these kinds of practices will plant seeds that will grow over the years.

I'm aiming to live more simply and donate any savings.  I'll be limiting what foods I buy to perishables as much as possible and eating out of the pantry and freezer.  I think I will also allow M to choose something from the pantry to donate to the food pantry each Friday.

I'm looking forward to challenging myself to a renewed focus on and closeness with Christ.  I want to listen, really listen to Him so that I can more closely follow His will for my life.  I hope that your Lent is full of God's blessings!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Quick Takes: 7 Surprises about Living in Idaho

We've lived in Idaho for a little over 3 years now.  So I've had a little bit of time to think over some of the ways life out here has surprised me with its differences from our previous life on the East Coast.  Here are seven things that have surprised me about living in Idaho:
Finishing a stroller run with a hike in the woods.

1.  It is not as rural as you might think.  Right now we are living in a regular, ole neighborhood with sidewalks and playgrounds and running water and trash pick up and all that stuff.  My childhood home in northeast Florida is more rural than where I live now!  5 minutes from Target and 30 minutes from Nordstrom (woohoo!).  On the other hand, it doesn't take long to be out in the mountains with no cell reception, surrounded by nature.  Best of both worlds?!

Suburban life!

2.  The seasons are amazing.  I know I talk about weather so much that I am starting to sound like an old person, but seriously, the weather is fantastic.  We get all four seasons, without a crazy hot summer or a crazy cold North Dakota-style winter.  (So far.)  Half way through October, I was still wearing flip flops.  It's February, and I'm back in flip flops.  Take that, Boston! 
The view from Lookout Pass

3.  Idahoans love their motor sports.  We live close to four different downhill skiing spots, so I expected that there would be a lot of downhill and cross country skiing enthusiasts.  But I did not expect sports like snowmobiling and motor cross (i.e., the noisier outdoorsy sports!) to be so popular here.  Seems like everyone has a couple of snowmobiles or dirt bikes stashed in their garage!
Hiking in the National Forest - we saw more ATVs than hikers!

4.  Nobody is actually an Idaho native.  Well, I am only slightly exaggerating.  =)  It seems like even our friends who went to grade school here, weren't actually born here.  Which makes it a lot like Florida.  I mean, I'm from Florida, but then again, I'm really not. ;)

 5.  Lilly Pulitzer, smocked baby clothing and little Stride Rite shoes do not exist here.  Dorothy, we are not in the South anymore! Fashion (for adults too, not just kids!) is completely different in the inland northwest.  I'd love to do some more posts about Idaho fashion, since I love fashion, but I'm not very fashionable myself, so I'd certainly not be an expert!
Smocked bubble suit!

6.  No air conditioning.  There are brand new homes built here without air conditioning.  That seems so strange to me.  But there are plenty of people who seem not to mind?  My university dorm did not have air conditioning, but it was built a hundred years ago or something!
I just had to post another of his cute outfits. =)

7.  People are *passionate*.  For a small town, there are a lot of people who feel very strongly (and make their opinions known!) about a lot of different things - just take a look at the letters to the editor of our local paper! ;) 

And a bonus: People are really nice here.  During my first week here, my car died in the Lowe's parking lot.  As I was trying to crank it up, a man walked over, simply popped the hood, worked some magic and got it going for me!  I was so amazed by this random act of kindness and have met many other kind people here.

I'm sure I'll discover more surprises and I know there are others that I can't recall right now.  We feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful spot, just hate that it is so far from family.  Thank God for Southwest Airlines!

Have you been to Idaho?  Are you an Idahoan?  Any surprises about life where you live?

Go here for more Friday Quick Takes! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's In My Diaper Bag

I love my Vera Bradley diaper bag.  It is a little touch of Southern out here in the Pacific Northwest, where the VB craze does not seem to have taken.  But lately I've been admiring these Lily Jade bags too, and they look like cute bags, not just cute diaper bags!

So here is a little sneak peek inside my diaper bag as an adoptive mom of a vivacious toddler and sweet infant.

For our big boy, I only carry all the necessities for an "accident" - which hasn't happened yet, thankfully!  I usually also have a truck and some fruit snacks to go along with his awesome, leak proof water bottle, although we're trying to cut back on the snacking/grazing!  On Sundays, you might also find our Mass books in my bag too.

For our new little one: everything needed for diapering and feeding, although all the bottles/formula stuff isn't pictured here since I didn't dare leave the house today!  That can add up to a lot of extra stuff and space, particularly when we fly since I never know if we're going to be delayed.  You certainly don't want to run out of formula when you are stuck on the tarmac!  We've had lots of luck with Avent bottles and Enfamil Newborn formula.  Basically, that is what a close friend recommended we use before M was born, and since we had less than three weeks to prepare for his arrival, we just went with it and it has worked well for both boys.

Then I also carry my essentials: wallet, phone, hair bands, gum, tissues.  And apparently a Coffeemate coupon too.  Pretty boring.  Lots of hand sanitizer and disposal changing pads.  Word to the wise:  the Starbucks in Missoula, Montana does not have a changing table.  #yuck. 

The only downside about my Vera bag is that the shoulder straps don't fit over stroller handle bars, so you always have to stuff it underneath the stroller or carry it on your shoulder.  I like that you can wear the Lily Jade bags on your back too - that sounds very handy for boarding flights when I am usually hauling a car seat and shepherding a toddler to our seats. 

What am I missing?  What's in your diaper bag?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blessed Little Moments

When we were first married and hoping for children, I always had this personal little daydream about having little dance parties in the kitchen with my children.

Well, this weekend we had some friends over for dinner, and after they left, our cleaning up the kitchen time turned into an impromptu family dance party.  I picked up M and danced around with him, and D was bouncing little J around and saying he was playing the "baby J guitar."

Now I know what it means for a heart to be bursting with joy.

5k By the 5th

Good morning!

I ran my first 5k for Laura's 5 by the 5th this weekend.  Whew, am I out of shape!  It took me 28:33, so that's the time I'm going to work hard to improve upon over the next few months, using the workouts in the link above as my guide. 

I also did a short, two mile stroller run this weekend, and that was even harder!  Got to get used to running, and running and pushing the stroller again.  Even though it was tough and I was panting like crazy, it was great to be out there.

How is your running going?  Tell me about it!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fitness & Newborn Adoption

I made it back to our gym a couple of weeks ago for my first return to "exercise"!  Before we brought J home, I thought I might be able to just bring J to the gym and park him next to my treadmill while I ran, as soon as we got home.  Without missing a beat!  It's not like I needed any physical recovery time like a biological mom!  But haha -- we were pretty exhausted that first week from no sleep the night before we met him, no sleep in the hospital and still trying to figure out our new schedule.  Add to that M's recent fever/cold bug, followed up by (successful!) potty training, and we've been stuck at home and inside longer than I thought.

In any case, all I did my first time back at the gym was walk a mile on the track while wearing baby J in my wrap, but I figured that was a start and better than nothing.

When D's parents were here, I went out for a few very short stroller runs with M to get him outside for a bit in the fresh (cold) air while they watched baby J.  I'm thinking that for the next month, I'll try to get to our gym 2-3 days/week and either walk on the track or try out the variety of machines there.

Big Brother pushing Little Brother out of the gym!
As I was walking today, I noticed all of the different machines that I never use - the rowing machine, cycling, stair climber, etc.  I think this season of life will be a good chance for me to try out a variety of machines and maybe also do some more lifting too?

I also signed up to participate in Laura's "5 by the 5th" virtual challenge.  I'm planning to do 5Ks, and hopefully work on developing a faster pace.  I'll probably be doing these runs as a mix of treadmill runs and outdoor runs if I can get them in on the weekends while baby is napping and my husband is playing with M.  Or I'll just bring him with me in the stroller!  I also have a barre DVD that I have yet to try, so one of these days I will choose to do that rather than nap while the boys are napping, haha!  So hopefully this season of fitness will be one of enjoying my precious boys and mixing up my fitness.

Are you trying anything new, fitness-wise, this year?