Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why wait?

New Years Resolutions. 

Do you make them?


Do you keep them? 

I've never been one to make resolutions, but I do try to have goals to strive for every year.  Something to continually motivate me to do better: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.  I am in a constant state of growth (or, at least, I hope I am.  If I'm not growing, then I'm slowly dying.)

I've noticed some things in the last few months that I need to take care of, but instead of waiting until a new year rolls around, I'm going to start right now.  (Once again, I'm striving for that public accountability thing.  Try not to be do hard on me when I fail, but please be generous with the encouragement! wink wink!)

  1. Get outside (weather permitting) or get on the floor and play with my kids for 30 minutes more every day.
  2. Eat a salad with at least one meal a day, plus all my other veggies.
  3. Run a 5k this year (maybe two), and get a schedule set for next year. (Have to start running 3x's a week to obtain this goal.  Gonna need some help!!)
  4. Start writing once a week (blog, book, anything to keep my writing skills up.)
  5. Spend at least one hour a week devoted to the ministries that I am personally involved with at my church (calling my class, working on lessons, tending to the classroom, writing cards, etc.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May in Oklahoma

"April Showers Bring May Flowers"  That's how the old saying goes.  In Oklahoma, though, April showers (or drought, depending on the year) bring May showers.  The bulk of our rain seems to come in May, and oftentimes, it comes with some pretty severe weather.  The state song of Oklahoma is "Oklahoma" from the musical, Oklahoma. (Very easy to remember!) Part of the song talks about how the "wind comes right behind the rain."  For anyone outside of the Oklahoma or the bordering states, that's a fancy, show-tunes way of saying, "When it rains, your gonna get some really nasty wind."

Rain + Wind = Tornado

Now, that's not the technical formula, but it's pretty close!  I've lived in Oklahoma most of my life, and I'm well-versed in tornado precautions.  I've been near them, and I've had close friends and family lose everything (including loved ones) because of them.  They are nothing to play around with.  And when you've lived in Oklahoma as long as me, everyone has their tornado story.  I have two--both with happy endings.  This is the second one:

On Tuesday, May 24th, I had 10 children in my daycare--four of my own children and six extras.  Since we are required to monthly tornado drills anyway, I decided to take them all out to the storm shelter.  I knew there was a chance of severe weather later in the day, and I wanted to be prepared. They did a great job, and actually thought it was pretty fun. 

As it got later into the afternoon, the forecasters started giving more intense and frequent updates, and parents began coming to pickup children.  Slowly, the ten dwindled down to six.  As the last dad came for his two boys, my father-in-law and mother-in-law came over prepared to head to the shelter.  Memaw came from next door too.  It was just minutes after the last child left that Poppy (my father-in-law) told us to head out.  Each child had an adult (plus one dog!) and we piled in just about the time our cousin arrived with her three children. 

Down into the storm shelter we went.  Poppy manned the door, and I was right next to him.  (I'm a little extremely claustrophobic.)  Being the true Okies that we are, we were waiting for the very last minute to shut the door.  As he and I looked out at the sky, we couldn't see this horrible monster that they said was coming our way.  We just saw a big black rain cloud.  It wasn't until we looked straight over our heads at the grey outer clouds spinning around that we realized that rain cloud WAS the tornado. 

We locked the door tight and listened. 

No hail.  No freight train. 

Our ears popped and we waited until the wind began to die down, and then we waited just a little more.  Poppy peeked out to see if it was safe to come out.  The storm was over.  As quickly as it had come, it was gone--off to continue its path of destruction.  The first sight we saw was another cousin's house:
Then there was the neighbor's shed:

So much damage in so little time.  We were spared.  Not only our lives, but also our home and vehicles.  Some were not.  Just a half mile down the road, some very dear friends lost all their worldly possessions, and they nearly lost their lives.  Thankfully, they are alive, but it will take a long time to heal and rebuild.  I cannot  fathom, nor do I even want to ask why. 

The storm took a path that spared some and destroyed some, but, in all of it, God is good.  He gave us each a place to be, a prayer to say, and a way to be a blessing to someone else.  Some bring chainsaws, some bring food, some bring water, and some take the children for the afternoon.  Strangers helping strangers, friends and family coming together to help, a community united around those who lost it all. 

It just makes me wonder how much better we could make the lives of those around us if we lived each day like it was the day after a tragedy like this.  What if we always prayed fervently for others?  What if we were willing to offer food, water or a change of clothes to someone in need?  What if we took a meal to our neighbors just because we wanted to be there for them?  How much would they see God every day--not just on the bad days?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sausage & Lentils

A friend of mine is having a frugal recipe contest on her blog, Coupon Newbie.  I remember a lot of things that my Mom used to cook for us, Roast & Potatoes (yummy!!), Breakfast for Dinner (my fave!) and Hot Dogs (always my birthday pick!).  Being the kid I was, I didn't know when she was serving a "frugal" meal, though.  I just knew what I liked and what I didn't. 

So, I called her to find out what she fixed when money was a little tight.  This is the one I remember and am going to start feeding my family (even if money isn't tight.)  It's that yummy!

I'm adding in prices so you can see just how much little it costs.

1 pkg. smoked sausage ($2.50-$3.00)
1 lb. lentils ($1)

Start cooking lentils according to package.  When lentils are almost done, cut smoked sausage on a diagonal and cook for just a few minutes in a skillet.  Drain on paper towels.  Add to the lentils.  Salt and pepper to taste.  (You can experiment with different seasonings to fit your family's taste.  My husband loves to spice it up with peppers & Tabasco; I prefer it with just some seasoning salt and onion.)

You can fix this with potatoes ($3.00/5 lb.) or pita bread ($2/8) or a tossed salad.  Even if you fixed all of this (which would feed 6-8 people), you would probably have a meal for about $11.  Definitely frugal fare!!

Yum! Now I'm hungry, and I know what we're having for dinner!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm Guilty, and Now I'm Doing the Time!

As a teenager and young adult, I was fairly (maybe even extremely) healthy.  I worked out often, ate moderately healthy (because I couldn't resist pepperoni pizza!), and maintained a healthy weight.  After I got married, I continued this lifestyle even after I had children.  With each subsequent pregnancy--5 in all--I used my "condition" as an excuse to eat unhealthy instead of one to eat healthier.  You've probably heard this excuse.  I said, "I'm pregnant so those extra three or four cookies won't matter. After all, I'm eating for two!!"  When I should have been saying, "I'm pregnant so I should skip the cookies and have some veggies sticks instead."  I know we all have our little indulgences and those are fine in moderation, but pregnancy seemed to release all my inhibitions when it came to food!

So, after five pregnancies--one miscarriage and four healthy babies--I'm sitting here looking down at my scale.

It's scary......really scary.

For someone who's always been fairly healthy to realize that I am 32 pounds overweight is a very SCARY thing.  That's like carrying around a jumbo size bag of dog food on my body---ewwww!  There is absolutely no reason why I couldn't weigh the same as I did when I began having babies.  It was a healthy weight for my height. 

Now, do I expect my body to look the same as it did before I started having babies?

Oh my, NO!

That is physically impossible.  My body has borne children, and it has the scars, stretches, bruises and bags to prove it.  Honestly, the bearing of the children isn't even the hardest part.  It's the raising of the children that's really hard, and there is bodily damage that goes along with that too! 

So, being the crazy numbers person that I am, I figured out just what I need to lose.  I need to lose the birth weights of all four of my children.  8lbs. 1oz., 7lbs. 13oz., 7lbs. 9oz., and 8lbs. 1oz.=31lbs. 8oz.  (I'm really not sure which is scarier--the fact that I let myself go like that or the fact that I sat and figured that out!)

Thankfully, my children's birthdays are spaced out pretty well, and I'm beginning my journey TODAY.  I need to lose Abi (8lbs. 1oz.) by her birthday on June 12th.  I started making better food choices today, and hopefully that will get easier the longer I do it. PALEEESEE let it get easier!!!  I got up and did a mini-workout this morning with the free weights.  Mini, because I didn't get up early like I had planned to, but I wasn't going to NOT workout.  Weather-permitting, I will start running again this week, and I will get in at least three 5k runs before the end of the year.

Why am I telling all of you this?  Because you all care so deeply about my health and body image!

Ok, not really!


I am horrible about being accountable to myself.  I tried being accountable to my husband on this particular subject and it didn't turn out so well.  <Picture flying free-weights and someone strapped to the TotalGym being tortured with Whey protein powder!>  So, I am making myself accountable to you.  Thankfully, this blog only has a handful of followers so I'm hoping you'll be nice about it! *Hint!Hint*  I need some encouragment and someone to watch my kids (Ok, I'm just kidding about that last part. Sometimes.)

These are my goals:
  1. Lose each one of my kids' birth weights by their birthday: (Abi-June 12th-8lbs.1oz; Jada-August 1st-8lbs. 1oz; Hannah-November 16th-7lbs.13oz; Connor-April 24th-7lbs.9oz)  That gives me roughly a year to lose 32 pounds.  I think I'm being very generous with myself.
  2. Get into a regular routine of exercise (3-4x's a week) and running a consistent 5k(3-4x's a week.)
  3. Bring back those healthy eating habits! I am not brave enough to post my food diary on the internet, but I want to bring back my healthy recipes.  Thankfully, grilling weather is now upon us, and it's so easy to grill healthy!
  4. Run a half-marathon.  I'm not setting a definite date on this one, but I watched the Memorial marathon on TV this year and just about cried because I was sitting on my behind.  I would love to do it by next year, but we will have to wait and see.....
Today begins my new life sentence, and I plan on enjoying it!

Saving the best for last, I have at least three people that have inspired me:
  • First, a little girl from my old youth group who is all grown up now.  She's a runner, and she's amazing.  Jodie Smith makes me want to be young again!
  • Second, a woman I've never met, but I know through many conversations on the net, that is winning her own battle for her health.  Jenn Carr inspired me to get started, even a little step is a step forward!
  • Third, another woman I've never met, but has had three children and she ran a triathalon after her third.  Barbie Smith would be running another one this summer if she wasn't pregnant with her fourth, but I know she'll do another one soon!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almost an Hour Late!

I posted earlier about the ladies' retreat that I was able to attend a few weeks ago.  This was the retreat where I was reminded to keep a "gratitude attitude". I and another lady from my church rode separately in her car because I wasn't able to get off work in time to leave with the church ladies in the van. 

First off, my husband calls about the time I had planned to be leaving.  "What time was I supposed to be home?" he asks.  "I was hoping to be gone in a few minutes, honey." I replied.  He still needed to leave work, drive home and turn around to take me to meet my friend.  That set us back half an hour, but I wasn't upset (too much.)

We met, loaded the suitcase, and got on the road.  Almost halfway there, I couldn't take it anymore.  This body that has birthed four children cannot travel very far without a potty break! (I use this as my excuse even though I've been this way since I was a child.)  Thankfully, my friend was extremely understanding, and we stopped for a quick break.  In fact, she needed a candy fix and, since there were no price tags on anything, had a tough time making a decision.  That set us back another 15 minutes or so.

About a mile up the road from the gas station where we stopped, traffic was almost at a standstill.  There were cars off to the side of the road, and no apparent reason for it at all.  As we were trying to forge ahead through the slow traffic, I looked out at the fields we were passing....
HAIL--the size of quarters and golf balls.  We'd missed it by about 5 or 10 minutes. Or, by about the time it takes to make a pit stop.  This is God's way of helping me to give thanks in everything! 

Gratitude Attitude

I had the privilege a few weekend's ago of attending a ladies' retreat with my church.  It was at the same church that my Grandma, my Aunt and other members of my family have attended for years.  I wasn't able to get off work early enough to ride with my church ladies, but I got to spend some amazing one-on-one time with a sweet member of our church who drove separately.  I would have to say that it was a wonderful weekend filled with friends and family (although I did miss the husband and kids a little lot!)

There were so many excellent lessons packed into such a short period of time, I really think I could type for weeks and still not do this meeting justice.  Let's just say, I have a year's worth of things on which to meditate and WORK! 

Two specific things were JOY and THANKFULNESS!

Although the main speaker was exceptional and brought to mind many thought-provoking points (not attacking fellow sisters with "friendly" fire, being prepared for the battle, etc.), I was challenged by the testimony of two different ladies from the host church.

We walked in (almost an hour late) just as the first lady, Mrs. Amy Paget spoke about having joy in your life.  "Why would anyone want to be a Christian if you are always glum?"  She was truly the friendliest person I have ever met, and I feel like I've met quite a few.  Such a challenge to consistently exhibit the joy of the Lord in my life no matter what the circumstances.

The next day, a young lady that I have watched for years gave her special testimony. Miss Kacie Johnson talked very candidly about being thankful for the things with which God has so abundantly blessed his children.  Whether we choose to be thankful or not, He HAS blessed us.  It's up to us whether we have the right attitude about it.  The one thing that stuck with me the most was this, "What if God took away everything that you had not thanked Him for today?" 


Am I thankful for the things God has given me?

The red light that made me late (& kept me from being in the 3-car pileup?) The leftover casserole that spilled on the freshly-mopped floor? The extremely slow computer that never loads anything quickly? The children who are constantly being corrected for talking back? The husband who doesn't pick up after himself?

Am I truly thankful for the blessings in my life or just the blessings that come out the way I had planned?

Like I said, lots of good stuff, and so much to work on....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daddy Duty

That's what my husband has this weekend.  That's right. I'm leaving.  I'm not taking a single child with me, and he gets to take care of everything this weekend. 

First of all, let me say that my husband is a great Daddy!  Our kids adore him and the time they get to spend with him.  His job allows him to be at home with us every single night, and he doesn't often have to work extremely long hours.  Secondly, I don't want anyone to get the impression that I am in charge of our household.  He is definitely in charge! But, let's face it, when it comes to cooking, cleaning, scheduling, etc., I'm the one who takes care of all that. 

With that being said, I have been running around for the past two days almost like a crazy woman like a total maniac trying to get everything done so his weekend will run smoothly.  Laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. are all taken care of so all he has to do is be with the kids. 

After all, a lot can go wrong in 24 hours.  Oh yes, for those of you who were starting to feel sorry for my poor husband left who I'm leaving with my four children, my "weekend away" consists of just a little over 24 hours.  Really.

It's ok.  I'm sure he'll do fine.  After all, he is their Daddy, and he's a good one.  I don't do this often (no blame on anyone else, it's by my own choice.)  So, when I have the chance to get away, I truly appreciate it.  And, my family appreciates me when I come home :)

For those of you who are starting to feel sorry for me, I'm leaving him with four kids--one of whom has a softball tournament smack dab in the middle of the weekend.

I'm sure he'll figure it out...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lazy Italian

Now, before someone gets all offended with me, let me explain.  We have this little restaurant here in Oklahoma City called Zio's.  Not the best restaurant I've ever been too, but it's good.  My husband started taking me there when we were dating.  Oh, the memories!

I found a dish I absolutely loved there.  LOVED.  As in, loved to point that not much would stop me from getting to this dish. 

EXAMPLE:  One night my newlywed husband had gone to the motorcross races with his dad and brother so his mother and I (Yes, we're great friends--that's a whole other story!)decided to go eat something yummy.  We picked Zio's and headed that way.  Unfortunately, while we were headed that way in the right hand lane, a truck in the left hand lane decided to make a hard right turn right into the side of my husband's prized possession--the truck!

The first words out of my mouth, "Kevin's gonna kill me!" Several times. 

After calming down a little, talking with the other driver, and doing paperwork with the policeman; Mom and I got back in the truck.  Amazingly, it was still driveable, and we were still hungry.  So, being less than a mile from the restaurant, off to Zio's we headed again.  The place was busy so we ordered it to go and ate in the truck.  It was still yummy!!

That story should prove the point that I love Artichoke and Spinach Pasta.  I never even thought I could possibly attempt to make it until tonight.  I had chicken, spinach & artichokes--what could go wrong?!  So, I decided to make the version from my kitchen--the lazy way...

First, I sliced the chicken at an angle just like at the restaurant.  Then, I cooked it just until it was done in my favorite skillet.  Zio's grills the chicken, but I have no grilling capabilities without my husband home.

Then, I started on the veggies.  I only had fresh spinach so I steamed it while the chicken was cooking.  (Note to self: Keep a box of frozen spinach on hand for recipes like this.)  Drained it well, and chopped it in my handy-dandy, little-bitty food chopper.  Then, I popped open a can of artichoke hearts, drained them, rinsed them, and chopped them up. 

To the healthy veggies, I added parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Kevin says I like everything better with cheese.  (I think he's I'm right.)  A cup of chicken broth and the secret ingredient...


Philly Cooking Creme.  I cheated--no homemade sauce.  Mixed that all together into a very nasty looking soup.  Added my soupy mixture to the chicken and poured it all over some penne pasta.  I topped it with some fresh, diced tomatoes, and Voila! Homemade Artichoke & Spinach Pasta.  Yummy!

Introduce Yourself

Someone who read my first blog post told me that I hadn't really introduced myself (& that it wasn't very good.)  I am choosing to listen to the first part and ignore the second part!  While you can read a little about me in the "About Me" section, if you are really going to get to know me, I had better let you all in on some of the finer points of my life.  I don't really like to post about myself, but I'd really like you all to get to know me so I can get to know you.  Where shall I begin.......?

ME: My name is Sarah, and I'm rapidly approaching 35 years of age (which scares me more than I'd like to admit.)  I love to cook, garden, scrapbook, read, run, and do a whole bunch of other stuff that I never have time to do.  I am a work-at-home mom with an in-home daycare.  I am constantly surrounded by children, and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming.  That's when I escape for a few hours to be alone--grocery shopping.  Don't be overwhelmed by the excitement of my life just yet, there's more!

MY FAMILY:  I married a man almost 11 years ago that I never would have picked for me, but he turned out to be the greatest catch EVER! I love him with all my heart, and he is my hero in every way, even though he doesn't have a romantic bone in his body!  We have four wonderful children that are the source of great joy and extreme frustration.  We live next door to my in-laws which could be a very sticky situation, but it turned out to be a wonderful arrangement.  My parents are just a few miles away which seems unbelievably different than how I planned my life to be.  I think it went something like, "I'm moving as far away from here as I possibly can, and I'm going to travel all over the world."  Um, not so much!  Thankfully, we all get along and family holidays, birthdays and outings are literally "one, big, happy family".

MY FOOD:  Because I do have a large family, and my work brings even more mouths into the house, I often find myself in the kitchen.  Some days, it's a blessing; some days, it's a curse. Three meals a day and snacks too!  Since I'm caring for other people's children as well as my own, I feel this added pressure to eat healthy.  I don't always succeed, especially when I'm crunched for time or just plain worn out, but I do try!  I love to share my menus and recipes with any and all who take the time to ask.  I also have friends and family with medical issues (diabetes, Celiac, asthma, etc.) so I try to add a few modified recipes in the mix for when we have guests.  I bake my kids birthday cakes, and absolutely LOVE church potluck dinners!  Guess you could say I'm a jack of all trades (but master of none) when it comes to the kitchen!

MY FAITH:  I don't think any summary of my life would be complete without a mention of my faith.  I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ.  I am a Baptist by conviction.  I try not to preach my faith to those around me, but I will--especially if someone else starts the conversation.  I try better to live it through my words and actions.  I very often fail at being a good light in my world, and I'm not always the best one to point others to Christ; but I wake up each morning with that goal in mind.  My faith is what sustains me and gives me peace and joy in my heart.  Public debate about what I believe is not what I am after.  If I post something about my faith, it is only to share a part of my life with you.  Arguing is not my intention, and if "discussion" arises, I'd rather it be one-on-one than in a public forum.

That's a more in-depth "about me", although I'd like to share more of my story with you as this blog continues.  Sometimes, my life is a little boring, and sometimes there are stories that are great to share.  I'll try to share them all as I get to know you a little more.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ball time in Oklahoma

I live smack dab in the middle of Oklahoma.  Yes, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!  Here in Oklahoma, we love us some softball! Baseball is good, but if you have daughters, you're going to play some softball.  Tonight, my two oldest have their first games.  Thankfully for Mom & Dad, they are playing in the same town on fields right next to each other.  (I wish it could be that way every time!)

There's just something about sitting at the ballfield, sipping on a Dr. Pepper, snacking on some sunflower seeds, and watching your kids play ball.  There are little ones running around playing tag, digging in the dirt and hiding from their mommas while the adults talk, snap pictures of the players and offer "some friendly advice" to the coaches. 

If you've never experienced it, you should go down to your local ball field this time of year.  Enjoy some of the concession stand fare, cheer for a team and take in the sights and sounds.  It's southern contentment and craziness all rolled into one!  I'll be off now to enjoy the games, but I'll post some pics when I get back.

These are my girls.  (No, the little one isn't playing, but she wants to be just like her big sisters!)

This is my "Bear" playing first base--she did a great job!!

This is our oldest.  Doesn't she look like a home run hitter? She didn't hit one last night, but this season does look promising.
(Notice the man just behind her carefully watching her swing--yep, that's her Daddy, making sure she's doing it right!)

Monday, March 21, 2011


"I am so blessed."  That is such a great phrase, and it is a wonderful attitude to have.  In fact, the Bible tells us to be thankful and to number our blessings.

I go to a small, but growing church where we are encouraged many times during each week to share "blessings".  I noticed a trend when we (we, meaning myself included) shared these blessings that they were seldom tied to material things, although there were some mentions of new items that someone had obtained.  More often, it was thankfulness for health, family, church, friends, etc.  I am so glad that our church participates in this activity each week because it unites us as a body in being thankful to God for the things He has given us.

As I watched and listened, however, I started to think about the blessings that were spoken.  "Health of my children", "Freedom to worship", "Good, Christian Friends" Suddenly, I was reminded of the story of Job.  He had all of these things.....taken from him.  Yet, he still considered himself to be blessed by God.  He did not curse God when his children were killed or when his fortune was gone. 

I should be thankful to God for my health, my freedom, my possessions. But, what about the person who does have a sick child, no friends, or no job--are they less blessed than me because of it?

Or more blessed? 

Trials and sufferings aren't given to people as a punishment, but as an opportunity to let God grow the one who is tried. Does God count me as someone worthy of such a trial?  Would I still be able to speak of my blessings if I didn't have a husband, a child, a home or the freedom to thank God?

I don't have to seek out an opportunity to grow in Christ.  Opportunities are everywhere, and there is no shortage of trials to go around.  It is up to me, however, how I let God use them to be a blessing in my life.

Just some food for thought...