The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Friday, December 31, 2010

Update on my goals for the Oh-One-Oh.

As you may or may not remember, last year I posted my Goals for the Oh-One-Oh.  I think that putting them out for all to see was a great idea and have decided to update you on my progress.  I will be posting my new list of goals tomorrow. 

Last year's list.

Goal #1. finish a book. any book. DONE. 

Now, I must admit that I did not finish any of the books that were on my reading list at the time.  In fact, they are all right where I left off back at the beginning of 2010.  BUT, I did read a TON of books this year.  Good and bad.  Joyce Meyer's Love Revolution was one of the standouts.  A must read if you are interested in learning how you can show love more often and to more people.  I did read some fiction in addition to all my non-fiction titles.  However, with the exception of a few books, most were elementary aged books that will end up in the library at my niece and nephew's school.

Goal #2. learn how to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals that my one year old will actually eat, that don't contain lots of obscure ingredients or involve frying vegetables.  DONE.  Well sort-of done.

Isabelle is eating healthier food, and she is eating on a more regular schedule, but I had little to nothing to do with it!!!  Turns out she was drinking WAY too much milk everyday and thereby not really hungry when it came to meal times.  So.......we cut her milk consumption in half and now she eats.  Amazing, huh?  I am no longer fixing her separate meals, either.  Which, of course, I realize is silly, but Jason and I were used to eating much later than Isabelle wanted to eat and so I usually ended up making dinner twice.  Now, we just eat early.  Sometimes we wait and do dinner the two of us after the kiddos have gone to bed, but usually we eat at 5:30 pm and avoid the two dinner problem.

Goal #3. finish Isabelle's first year scrapbook.   DONE.  I am also proud to report that I am pretty current on Molly's scrapbook.  I am done through seven months and she is only just now nine months old!!!!  I am pretty excited about scrapbooking these days and with the addition of my new Cricut I should be rockin' out the scrapbooks for awhile!

Goal #4. build my mk business. DONE.  But still much to do.  This year I added several team members, became a red jacket and saw my first commission checks.  WHOO HOO!!!  But, I am still a far cry from where I would ultimately like to be, so I must continue to work hard to make my business a HUGE success.  

Goal #5. grow in my walk with the Lord.  Ummmm....Can you ever really say you are done with this goal?  I don't think so!  This year I am going to be a little more specific with my spiritual goal though, so that perhaps next year I can feel accomplished in this area also.  I will say that I have developed a deeper, more meaningful walk with Christ, feel more excited about my relationship with Him, and have seen Him work actively in my life this year more than ever!

Goal #6. and my last goal....learn something new.   DONE.  So I didn't really learn anything TOTALLY new.  I did however expand my knowledge of cooking and have made several delicious dishes since deciding to really start cooking and baking.  I have learned that baking soda DOES expire, that when it does expire baked goods suffer, and I have learned that a kitchen aid mixer does seem to make a person feel more awesome. 

So there you go, an update on my goals from last year!  See you tomorrow for my Goals for Twenty Eleven. 

In case you are struggling to set your own goals, here is a little motivation:

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) Where There is no vision, the people perish.


According to a study, 80% of all Americans have no goals, 16% do have goals, 4% have goals and write them down, 1% have goals, write them down, and read them on a regular basis. That 1% will make nine times more income in their lifetime than the other 99%.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belle and LaLa

I have been a little busy these past few weeks getting ready for Christmas and haven't had time to do many updates on the girls.  SO...I decided to put up a few pictures rather than do a lengthy update list!  December is a busy month for us, but I promise to be more faithful with updates in January!


Molly dressed up in her biker gear!  Obviously the sunglasses and hat are more summer gear than winter, but Jason just couldn't resist.  She is way more cooperative when it comes to wearing hats than Isabelle ever was.


Belle on her new pink tricycle.  We celebrated Christmas with my mom and siblings last weekend and my mom got this for Isabelle!  She is still a little short to reach the pedals, but she LOVES it!



Molly playing with her new phone.  Smiling and happy, like always.

Isabelle playing with her new dishes.  She is getting a new pink kitchen for Christmas, but since we celebrated with my mom last weekend, she already has some kitchen gear.  She has not stopped playing with all her pots, pans and dishes.  She also demanded to wear her apron and chef's hat while she was cooking!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

I love all things Christmas.  If I had hours and hours of time, I would list each thing I love individually, but I don't and no one would read it all.  So, I picked a few of my favs and decided to do a favorites post.  Sadly, Ray LaMontagne has not released a holiday album, so he will be absent from this particular favorites list. 

First up for today, Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack.


I love this soundtrack.  I love this movie.  To make it even better, Isabelle watched this movie this year and is IN LOVE with Charlie Brown.  It is adorable to hear her ask for Charlie Brown, or Char Brown as she calls him.

Second on my list would have to be Christmas cookies and candies.  This past weekend I got together with my sister, Katie (Danny's girlfriend), Karen (Bobby's girlfriend), and my nieces and nephew and we made a TON of goodies.  Ironically we only made one cookie so I may be doing some actual baking this week.

Number Three:  Christmas decorations.  Each year I get more and more anxious about putting up Christmas decorations.  Jason refuses to start before Thanksgiving, but if I had it my way the tree would go up right after Halloween.  This year we were able to do Christmas lights on the house again (we took a break last year) and I am so happy!  I can't get enough decorations around here.

The fourth thing on my list today....spending time with my family.  This year Jason is able to take several days off and I am so thrilled to spend some time together as a family.  We figured out it is the most time he has had off since we were married (10 YEARS AGO)!!!!  Part of spending time together includes our tradition of celebrating Christmas here, at our house, with our girls each year.  I can't wait to wake up Christmas morning and see the look on Isabelle's face when she sees her presents.  So far there are no presents under the tree because her and Molly try to open every gift they see.  When Isabelle wakes up it is going to be totally full of presents in our living room and I can't wait to see her reaction.

Last, but certainly not least (in fact my MOST favorite part), celebrating the birth of Christ.  I hope everyone is reminded this Christmas just how truly blessed they are and how much we all have to be thankful for including the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Molly is CRAWLING!

It only took eight months, but Molly is finally crawling.  I had stopped believing that she would.  I figured that since she had the scooting thing down and could get around the house pretty quickly and was already pulling up that she would just start walking.  I was wrong.  And she can crawl FAST.  I thought I would post a little video for the grands and out of town family!

video


We are getting ready for Christmas.  Our first celebration is  this weekend with my mom and siblings.  SO, if the posts are a little few and far between, I apologize!  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

411

WARNING:  This post may be slightly scattered.  For those readers who prefer order, I am sorry.

This past week has brought about lots of fun things to discuss.  For example, Isabelle's two year check up.  And yes, I realize she turned two in November and yes, I realize it is December, but when you forget to schedule the appointment, that is what happens.  So big deal it was almost a month late?  At two do you really need month by month updates?  NO. 

Isabelle is a tall and skinny kid.  She is an inch shy of being three feet tall, which in two year old world is pretty stinkin' tall.  And she is still skinny, but not so skinny that the Dr. is worried anymore.  Last checkup Isabelle's weight percentile had dropped kind of low.  Low enough that the doctor mentioned it and basically told me to get her eating.  I don't know if any of you realize how difficult it can be to get a two year old to eat, but it is not an easy battle.  However, we did succeed in getting her to put on some weight and move into the 50th percentile.  She is still not a chunk, but she is average.  Average is good.  So now the goal is to get her eating more regular, more balanced meals at regular meal times with the family.  We are off to a good start and because I don't have to worry about her not gaining weight, it is much easier to let her get hungry for dinner, thereby encouraging her to eat what is in front of her, not beg for cheese.

Molly had to visit the doctor this week also.  Of course not on the same day.  That would have been too easy, and saved money.  We had noticed a little red place on her bottom that appeared to just be some irritated skin over the weekend and had not been too worried.  By Sunday evening that little place on her bottom had turned into about a half dozen places all over her body including her back, head and tummy.  Monday we decided to go see the doctor and turns out little Molly has eczema.  Eczema is apparently worse in the winter because of the dry air and can get pretty serious looking.  Luckily for us, we have a great doctor who gave us some medicine for the really bad places and recommended a daily moisturizer for both girls (Isabelle has it also).   Molly's skin looks much better and she is scratching much less!

Jason and I are doing well.  We had planned to visit some friends in Dallas this weekend, taking only Molly with us, but our plans refused to work out.  Try as we might we could not figure out a way to go!  Major bummer.  I am pretty sad about the whole thing.  No Michael and Rochelle (bummer).  No Mi Cocina's (bummer).  No Max (BIG BUMMER).  Our friends, Michael and Rochelle have the cutest little son, Max, and I am needing a dose of baby boy.  Needless to say, I am super sad we won't get to see Max.  We have arranged another weekend so I am not getting overly depressed or anything. 

Christmas is just 15 days away, in case you didn't know, and I am almost done with my shopping.  Online shopping rocks!  Yesterday I was in full panic mode about what to get Jason, but today I have two presents on the way to my house via internet shopping.   Thanks, Al Gore!  I am done shopping for Isabelle and have just one or two more things to get for Molly.  The grandparents are pretty much done (thanks to the internet again) and I have also got my sibling gift done!  This weekend I should be able to wrap it all up considering we now have NO plans except to be in Tulsa!!!!

Life around here is pretty great right now.  I am continuing my adventures in the kitchen this weekend.  Hoping to conquer toffee for my dessert, which my brother, the pastry chef, informs me is harder than I think.  I plan to have all the Christmas shopping done and all the cards mailed as well as finishing up some end of the year Mary Kay work, all by Sunday.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For Danny


My brother Danny just recently developed an interest in saving money.  When my Mom brought over the Sunday paper last week, he tried fighting me for the coupons.  Weird.  Danny has never really cared about money.  I take that back, he has always liked spending money, just never cared about saving money.  So, when he asked me how to save money on groceries I referred him to some coupon websites, some great deals at grocery stores and where to buy essentials like laundry detergent and dishwasher soap.  But I thought perhaps putting all of my grocery savings ideas down in one place for him was a good idea.  And I figure anyone can benefit from a refresher on grocery savings.

First, plan your menu for whatever time period you would like to shop for.  I prefer to shop for meals two weeks at a time.  So before I shop, I sit down and plan out dinner for the next two weeks as well as looking around the house to check on items like soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, trash bags, etc.  Planning a menu prevents the excuse that there is nothing for dinner and forces you to eat at home.  Which, as we know, saves money.   So Danny, plan what you are going to eat.

Second, look for coupons.  There are websites like coupons.com or smartsource.com.  You can also go to the exact product websites for savings.  For example, I registered on Horizon's website and received a coupon for $1 off the organic milk we buy.  Target also puts coupons on their website, so if you shop at Target you should check their website before going shopping.   Obviously the Sunday paper is also a great place to look.  Danny, don't be fooled by coupons.  Sometimes the name brands cost more even when you use a coupon.  Some items you can buy generic.  Also, be willing to check out the money saving queen.  She posts high value coupons pretty often on her website.  Like her on facebook and they will be added to your home page.

Next, stick to a budget.  That is right.  I said BUDGET.  Make one and stick to it.  Use cash if you can for food, including out to eat.  When the cash is gone, you don't go out anymore or buy anymore groceries.  It is called eat what you got.  Jason and I did this in college.  We had some interesting meals made up of canned goods and leftovers.  If you make a grocery budget and stick to it you won't let your food spending get out of control.

Lastly, for today, if you are really crazy, buy what is super on sale and plan your meals around those items.  People do it all the time.  They are the people on TV talking about how they feed a family of 19 for like $5 a week or some crazy crap like that.  I am not that person and luckily don't have to be on that strict of a spending plan for groceries.  But, if you were, you could make it work.  Danny, the lesson here is, maybe if you need to be an extreme couponer, have Katie do it!!!  This amount of saving requires some time dedicated to looking at ads, looking online and perhaps shopping at multiple stores.  I know you work a lot and go to school so you probably won't have the time or dedication for this level of craziness.

I know all of these ideas have been mentioned before, but for my brother's sake I thought they were worth repeating.  Hopefully he will actually check out my blog and read them!!!  If you do, leave a comment Danny!  Love you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

So I have been cooking a new main course and a new dessert each week and so far I have had great results.  This past week was one of the best.

On Saturday my family ate homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, French Bread, and for dessert, Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies.  Jason was in charge of the bread, but the rest was made by yours truly!

It was one tasty evening!

Hard to believe that back in college we ate cheese ravioli and chicken voila, both of which came frozen and only had to be warmed up on the stove.  Equally astounding is that I, Tracy, am the one doing the cooking.  I have always maintained that I do not enjoy cooking, that I prefer baking.  And that is mostly true.  Baking is what I prefer.  However, this cooking thing isn't as horrible as I thought.  I am actually enjoying cooking.  And my family is enjoying my cooking!

With Christmas right around the corner, trying new desserts is as easy as pie (get it), but coming up with a main course is a little more challenging due to time constraints during the week.  So from now on I am going to try my main course on the weekends so that I have plenty of time to prepare, shop, cook, and clean up!  This week will either be a bruschetta chicken skillet recipe or a mexican lasagna.  I will let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a great chicken soup, I encourage you to try the one I linked to above.  It is easy and delicious.  It is my favorite main course so far!  My favorite dessert can be found here, the delicious warm lemon cake!

Happy Monday! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The ITouch

For my birthday this year, Jason bought me an itouch.  It is basically an iphone without the phone.  You can connect to the internet via WiFi and download apps and do all sorts of cool things.  And until this week that is exactly what I had used it for. 

I keep my calendar on my itouch, have all my music on my itouch and have apps like Redbox, Sudoku, Facebook, Pandora and the Bible downloaded for my entertainment purposes.  It is great.


Jason warned me about letting Isabelle play with it when he bought it.  So since his argument against letting a child play with such an expensive electronic device seemed so logical, I have kept it out of her hands for over six months.  BIG MISTAKE.

This past week I discovered the best thing EVER.  Isabelle LOVES the itouch.  She can't get enough of it.  And like I am sure everyone else already knows, there are a ton of great apps for kids.  Our car rides this week have been downright pleasant.  No screaming, no yelling "done" over and over, just peace and quiet.  It is amazing.  I can't believe I waited this long to let her play with it.  This thing is a parent's dream come true.  I am sure this is why so many parents risk their children dropping and breaking their phones or ipods.  Who cares if you have to replace a very expensive phone or ipod?   The calmness this thing has brought to my life is totally worth it. 

With that being said, I am in need of some good ideas of apps to download for Isabelle.  What are the best ones?  What are the ones your kids love?  Let me know.  I'd love to hear some suggestions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Back.....

Seriously, how did it get to be Wednesday?  First, I missed Friday, then Monday came and went and now it is Wednesday and I am sorry to have missed so many days.  Between Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping and Jason's birthday, I have been a little busy!

So rather than a favorites list or a money saving idea I will just give a small update of what we have been up to this past week or so!

Thanksgiving-Eve:

Family came over for our annual game night.  We broke out a new game this year called Bananagrams.  It was a blast!  If you are a game type of family I encourage you to check it out.

Thanksgiving Day:

We spent the day at my mom's house with my siblings and their children.  Pretty low key.  Pretty awesome.  Jason and I tried out two new recipes, both of which turned out awesome.  And now that I think about it, both were Pioneer Woman recipes.  I think I may be a tad obsessed.  Overall an outstanding day.

Black Friday:

Super awesome.  My sis and I headed out for a little Black Friday shopping.  We did NOT go at 4 a.m. or anything crazy like that.  We actually headed out around lunch time and shopped and ate and shopped some more.  We had a terrific time.  I found some great deals on gifts and didn't have to fight any crowds.  We also scored some free Godiva chocolate samples and free Cheesecake Factory cheesecake samples!  BONUS! 

Later that evening, Jason and I put up the Christmas decorations and turned on the lights on our house.  I would like to say for the record that NO ornaments have been broken and only a few have been taken off the tree.  The girls are doing very well with the tree which makes me happy.

Saturday:

Worked around the house, watched the Cowboys lose.  Had birthday cake with the family for Jason's birthday.

Sunday:

Went to church and heard an awesome message.  Celebrated Jason's birthday just the two of us that evening with a steak dinner and leftover cake!

That is our holiday weekend in a nutshell.  We ate too much food, didn't get enough sleep, and accomplished a lot of Christmas tasks.  Now we are back to regular life and the girls and I are having a hard time adjusting.  I am already ready for Christmas vacation time.  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and has been able to get back into the swing of things.  See you again on Friday.  I promise.