Friday, January 29, 2010

I Do My Best Work

I do my best work at night...with music...and lattes.

Not a lot of blogging to be done amidst the cries for help out of a rough wrestling match between brothers. Come on Corbin, just bite his toes off!! No eye gouging!!

But at night...aaaah. Easy writing.

I prefer to write 3-4 good posts in one sitting. Usually ideas I jotted down during the chaos. I write my ideas in titles, hehe. Titles are the hardest part for me, so if I have that nailed, I'm good to go.

When I'm not organized enough to do this you get posts like this, and this, and this. Yeah, those were nuts, but definitely a dive into my brain.

And while I was digging around in my posts, I found this one for all my preggo friends. Ah, those were the days.

So how about you? When are you most productive? If you have kids, how do you get any coherent thoughts out?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Netflix Watch Instantly Picks

I really love the "Watch Instantly" option of Netflix! For those that don't have Netflix, basically they have a selection of their movies that are available to watch anytime online. The downfall of this is that once you get passed all the major blockbusters of days gone by (that you've probably already seen) there are a LOT of movies on there that really stink. I mean horrible acting, never heard of this movie in my life - stink!

Part of the annoyance is trying to sift through the thousands of movies to find one that is actually good! So to help wade through the junk, here are my picks for tolerable and even enjoyable movies I found:

Penelope - Cute and quirky "fairytale" with Christina Ricci

Jericho Season 1 & 2 - Excellent series with awesome acting and storylines. I was so sad this only went 2 seasons!! I think the writer's strike killed this one prematurely. Sadly, I think they took this one off watch instantly this month...but it's so good, I'd rent it.

Confessions of a Shopaholic - It was cute and funny - Amy Adams doing what Amy Adams does. Her dancing scene is hilarious. I warn mothers the world over with weaker bladders - I almost peed myself I was laughing so hard.

America the Beautiful - Great documentary on America's obsession with beauty

Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World - Eye opening documentary on Aspartame, completely backed with scientific studies, court cases, and testimony. Very interesting.

Rachel Getting Married - Interesting film and kind of different - have a box of tissues handy.

Passengers - Diamond in the rough here - excellent suspense and unexpected ending.

How About You - Loved the focus on life and its meaning.

Okay, now it's your turn. If you have Netflix, what do you recommend? And if you don't, I'd still love to hear some of your favorite movies!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Under the Moon

Photo courtesy of Flower L*u*z*a*'s

Hang in there with me
Sometimes it takes a different kind of love to raise a child
So don't give up
- lyrics from Raise it Up (The IMPACT Repertory Theatre & Jamia Simone Nash)

I've been reading about a girl. She's only twenty-one. And mother to 14 rescued daughters in Uganda. So I believe that qualifies her as a woman!

I often have trouble understanding The Gospel in the context of the suburbanite, super-sized, fast-paced corner of the world I find myself in, but in the arms of a girl, who gave up everything and everyone to Love thy neighbor as thyself it is truly breathtaking.

As I roamed the sidewalks of my little neighborhood, sick baby in my arms, I thought of her. I thought about the fact that right now although we're miles away, we're under the same sun and moon. As I walk with my bundled baby, aching arms, and tired spirit, I imagine her. I imagine that she is probably nursing several little ones back to health. She's probably aching and tired right now too. She's probably weeping over her own little or not so little ones.

Thinking about her, I hold my baby tighter, my spirit strengthened, full of thankfulness.

And I do another lap around the block.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventures in Baby Sleeping

I think one of the worst days is the one where your sick, and obviously tired, child can't fall asleep.

Today is one of those worst days. (Oh, and I schedule out my posts, so I guarantee the day you read this is not the actual day it happened, so if you see us out and about and perfectly well, it's because the Lord has granted healing at last!)

My day started gloriously - finding Corbin, his clothes, his blankies, and his beloved Doggie covered in puke.

Like I always say, if your day starts with cleaning up vomit - it's only downhill from there. Both boys, and the hubby were sick. I'd already been taking care of Hayden for the past 4 days, and now it had migrated to the rest of the family and still lingered on with Hayden.

The rest of the day consisted of the usual whining and crying that goes along with sickness. When I put Corbin down for a nap, within 5 minutes he had vomited again. The boy was fine all morning, but 15 minutes before I need to head out to my physical therapy appointment he's puking. I have to wake up Mark to help since I'm running low on time and only have two arms - which Corbin demanded be used to hold him.

After cleaning up puke round #2, getting fresh clothes for everyone - including myself - and making sure Mark was up to handling it, I rushed out the door for my appointment.

Neither Corbin or Hayden took naps, despite the obvious need for one.

I just knew they'd fall into bed early tonight...uh huh.

Let's see...where to begin...I put Corbin down first at around 6 because his eyes were drooping and he was falling asleep in his high chair at dinner. He fussed a bit, but overall didn't put up a huge fight.

I let Hayden play a bit more, while I took a Mommy break to read a new blog I found through She Laughs At the Days.

When it hit 7pm, I decided it was Hayden's turn. We did our usual routine - potty, jammies, blanket, sippy and headed for his room. I laid down with him for a few minutes, hoping he'd drift off to sleep.

But no such luck due to the fussing coming out of Corbin's room across the hall. He had heard us and was now wanting OUT. And his fussing was keeping Hayden awake. So I told Hayden I'd be back in a bit, and went to check on Corbin. He didn't like that idea, but well, that's tough.

So I grabbed Corbin and tried to settle him - didn't work. So I took him downstairs and started turning off all the lights, hoping he'd get the idea. He still was restless. So I thought, "Fine, let's go for a walk." I held him in my arms and did a walk around the block.

When we came back, Hayden was in meltdown mode. Mark, in his sickness, apparently was dead to the world and couldn't hear him. With Corbin in my arms, I went upstairs and sat on Hayden's bed with Corbin. By this point, Hayden had gotten himself in such a huff, he was coughing again.

I asked him if he needed a breathing treatment, and he answered sweetly, "Yes, mama."

So we all went downstairs and started up Margo Moo. There we all were, Corbin in my lap, me holding Hayden's dinosaur mask, Hayden, and Margo. Thirty minutes later, the treatment was over and we all went back upstairs. I put Corbin back in his bed - fussing of course. And went and laid down with Hayden.

He fell asleep (despite Corbin's whines) in about 10 minutes. Then I sneaked out of Hayden's bed, moved all the toys away from his doorway and quietly closed his door - leaving a crack open of course.

Back to Corbin...Poor baby was still awake and fussing. Okay baby, let's take another walk. We walk around the block again. I get this bright idea...a car ride. Whenever Corbin is even the slightest bit sleepy he passes out in the car. Sweet! I'll drive to Starbucks, get a Chai Tea Latte (yummy!) with my giftcard (cha-ching! free!) and he'll pass out on the drive!! I am SO smart.

And off we go - Mommy and baby. I congratulate myself - "It's like a date! Oooh I'll have to blog about my genius idea. Wait, what are those lights? Is that an accident? What the? They aren't serious...closing the road? Detour? What is this neighborhood?? What the devil? Where do I go now? Hey, didn't I pass that FedEx truck earlier? Dang it, yes I did!!! Oh Lord help me, I'm lost. Ah, crap - I'm back at the entrance."

Thank God for sweet firemen who give good directions.

So...30 minutes later...back on 620. I look back to see my awake child. Hmmm. Then I start making deals with myself. Okay, the other Starbuck's is on the other side of 620, if he's asleep before I get to my light, I'll just head home, otherwise I'll go.

I look back...still awake. Okay, great - off to Starbuck's - attempt #2 at Chai Tea Latte (yum!). Get the latte, look back...still awake.

"Hmmm....ok well you know, they say a watched pot never boils, maybe a watched baby never sleeps??"

Then I start making deals. "Okay, so don't look at him for the rest of the drive. Not until you pull into the driveway".

I get to a red light, instinctively I almost look back. "Nooooo...don't look". Phew. Okay, keep driving.

Then I hear a jingle - his Doggie. "Hmmm, that could be good. Maybe his little baby hands have released the doggie in sweet slumber?"

Then I hear a cough..."Hmph...maybe not."

A rustle of blankets - "He could be getting cozy, yeah, that's it. He's getting comfortable."

I pull into the driveway. "Okay, now you can look."

A sweet little doe-eyed boy looks back at me, as if to ask - "What's next?"

As I open the door he lets out a big yawn. "Yeah, yeah, I win."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Budget Review

In part of my 2010 theme of Simplify, I chose to tackle our finances.

I made up a budget for January and committed to stick to it.

And then...January happened - which means life happened. It's funny how that works.

I think we blew our budget in just about every way possible, HA!

Some of it was our own fault, but some of it was just unexpected bills. For instance, my budget plan forgot about the 12-month no interest purchase we made on our Lowe's card last year when remodeling the kitchen - and those 12 months were up!

Okay, not a problem, but then...Hayden's numerous bills from his November hospital stay started coming in...oh yeah, right, forgot about those...and the big one is still out there - we are disputing some of the ridiculous charges (like thousands of dollars of breathing treatment therapy that was done by me, not the staff).

And then, there was my CT scan bill - ouch, honestly what DO I have insurance for? Add in Mark's birthday and a last minute party and that ups the total.

Then, I replaced some clothing that was in dire straits - my one and only pair of yoga pants have been sagging for months with shot elastic, and let's face it, that is the uniform of the stay at home mom. Mark's been commenting on my saggy butt pants, so it was time for some new ones.

But, of course, I also just plain overspent. "Wants" became "needs". Poor planning and exhaustion became eating out and extra trips to the grocery store. All in all, we didn't exceed our income, but we didn't save as much as I'd hoped either.

Forward Progress

Yet, after all the mishaps and extra spending - I'm not discouraged at all! Building a budget is not a one time event, but a monthly - maybe even weekly - method of fine-tuning. I make the budget, the budget doesn't make me. I love the end of the month because I can go back and look at why we overspent and how to prevent that in the future.

For me, it's not as easy as just telling myself - don't do that. I have to have real solutions and replacements for my problems. Otherwise, I'll just find myself right back where I started.

So, here are a couple of real world examples of evaluating the previous month's spending and making changes that will improve the budget outcome for next month:

Don't be unrealistic

That's my first downfall. In January, I said we would have no eating out. Uh, huh. First off, I'm a mother of two very small children. I prepare 3 meals a day without exception - very often more than that if you count snacks. Kids get sick, it's cedar season, and I'm not the energizer bunny. That means I'm not always going to have the energy or desire to cook.

Now, how do I translate that into an affordable budget plan?

1. Mark and I discussed the situation, and came up with doing lunch on Sunday's at Wendy's. It's affordable - usually under $10 to feed us all, and it's an enjoyable and relaxing thing to do after a long Sunday morning at church.

2. Planning some "easy" meals that don't require an hour in the kitchen to prepare. This means my grocery bill might be a bit higher, but is nothing compared to the almost $100 we spent this month in eating out.

Take the "impulse" out of my buying

I'm a big lover of buying online. I can do it in my jammies, I have my credit card number memorized (don't worry, we pay it off every month), and I have the world at my finger tips, without even getting in my car!

I love books - and I get suggestions for such good ones from numerous blogs I read. I have a favorite online clothing company that sells such great clothes and their sales are awesome - seriously, like $50 sweaters for $6 if you catch it right. There is just too much good stuff out there! I'm pretty disciplined about my buying, but there is always room for improvement:

1. I started making a list of all these "wants" or even "needs". Even things for the house that Mark and I would like to purchase. My idea is to write them down whenever I get the urge to run out and buy them, and then...wait. Wait 30 days, and then see how "urgent" these needs really are. Very often, I no longer want or need the item I thought I couldn't live without.

2. I'm also making use of "lists" already available to me, like Amazon's Wish List. If I get a recommendation for a new book - I just add it to my Wish List, to be reviewed next month! If I still want it, and I have the money budgeted for it - I'll buy it.

Both of these items, if done well, should save us a couple hundred dollars in excess spending! What I love is that they are simple, yet still effective in keeping us on budget. Next month, I can re-evaluate these changes and see if they helped. If not, I can find out why, and then try another solution. If they DID work, I can move on to another area in our budget that could use some work!

How about you? Do you use a budget? How often do you stay on budget? What are your biggest pitfalls? Where have you found success?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rat Nest Kids

I was dropping off Hayden at school the other day, when I happened to see two kids with the craziest hair. This was serious bedhead. You know, the kind that looks like a bird might be living in there. It was a brother and sister, and they both had matching hair.

Now first of all, the school Hayden's program is at is in a very wealthy neighborhood - and these kids were no exception. So these aren't disadvantaged kids who don't own a comb. The mom drives a nice car and obviously lives close.

It hit me that this mom had just been talking last week about how she likes to stay busy and was even organizing a marathon. At the time I thought - wow.

I don't know what the deal was with the hair that day. Maybe they all woke up late. Or maybe it was bad hair day at school. Maybe mom decided that the kiddos were old enough to be responsible for their own hair and was trying to teach them a lesson. Who knows. I'm not judging this mom, all I saw was a snapshot. My kids have spent most of their lives with crazy hair - it's the Zavala trademark.

But that snapshot got me thinking about myself.

I hope I'm never so busy that my kids take a backseat to my life.

I hope I always have time for the small things in their life. I pray I'm there to listen to their stories, dreams, and heart aches. I don't want to dismiss their thoughts and needs. I don't want an attitude of annoyance or frustration when they are interfering with my plans.

I hope I always remember that they bless me, not the other way around.

Psalms 127:3
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him.

Photo by meddygarnet

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two Things

I read some advice on a blog that I've actually taken to heart AND found useful.

That's important, because not all of what I think is great is useful, and certainly not all of what is useful do I actually use.

As a mom, I'm generally overwhelmed in some area - or all areas, haha. I have the desire to "do it all", but I don't have the time or energy. My house is usually in a state of chaos - despite my cleaning efforts. Laundry and dishes pile up by the minute it seems. Toys multiple like bunnies. Freshly swept floors look vaguely reminiscent to convenience store bathroom floors in no time. It's exhausting just thinking about it.

But this post boiled it down to two things. Just do two things really well, and the rest will fall into place.

Uh huh.

And what are those two things you ask?

Laundry and meals. The bare minimum the family needs to survive. The key is to do them well. And she lays out a pretty good system for taking care of them.

I'm really only on the first task - laundry, and I'd say my life has improved 100%. Her post on the secret to laundry really hit home. Basically, if you want to win the laundry war - you need fewer clothes. Ah, uh wait, what?

I'm no fashion whore - that's for sure - but I have my fair share of clothes. Not clothes that I wear, mind you. But sentimental clothes...

What are sentimental clothes, you ask?

You - the dress I wore to the first college dance I went to with Mark - a hot little number - skimpy, tight, and black.

Or, those jeans I haven't been able to fit into in 5 years.

Or the dress I wore to so-and-so's wedding.

Or the sweater I wore in my senior pictures!

I seem to tie memories to clothing, and then just keep it around long after it's due to be donated.

So I cleaned out my closets. I'd say I donated 50-75% of my clothes - many of which were from the "good old days". I'm ashamed to say there might have been some high school numbers in there.

And wow. I felt such a relief. Having all this "stuff" suffocates you! Now I'm getting rid of all kinds of things! I'm purging it all! There is a huge release in letting go of all this sentimental junk that has been building up over the past decade or more.

If you come over and see only a folding chair and a cardboard box in my house, feel free to tell me I've gone too far.

How about you? Do you have sentimental clothes? Emotional attachments to things that never see the light of day?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

End of My Rope

There are those days, when it's 10am and I'm already at the end of my rope.

I cannot imagine getting through the day.

The noise level in my house matches any concert or sporting event.

Happiness factor is zero.

Whining is up 400%

That's when I declare cabin fever and toss everyone outside - muddy yard or not.

Just so I can breathe.

How about you? What do you do on those days?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Investment in Hospitality?

Mark and I have been known to throw some parties in our time, pre-kid days of course. They generally have included copious amounts of both decorations and alcohol - adding up to lots of preparation and cleaning for us.

As a tip for the general public, don't serve lots of alcohol unless you are ready to also clean up that mess in all the different forms it can and will take. I'll just leave it at that.

But those days are long gone. I don't have the energy for cleaning or decorating with two little ones, so the fun is not worth the hassle.

So how do you replace that and still have a really good party where people stay until the wee hours of the morning without being passed out in your bathroom?

I give you...

the Wii.

I had no idea the power "The Wii" (I think that will be it's official name in our house) had over people! If you're looking for the perfect way to get your friends and neighbors over for some fun and games - "The Wii" is it.

Think of it as an investment in hospitality. Seriously. It's better than any food you could cook up. I could invite six people over, throw them a bag of chips, a pitcher of water, and the wii, and I would have an instant party.

Do you have a Wii at your house? What are your favorite games? Has it brought success to your gatherings?

P.S. Wii is also going to start working with Netflix - woot!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crawling Under a Rock

Every have one of those days (weeks) where you just want to crawl under a rock and hide?

Yeah, that's about where I'm at.

I got this ambitious plan to "make changes" and get the kids eating a wider variety of foods, but most specifically to get Corbin to eat things that are not known as:


These are his two preferred foods. If it's not crunchy or doesn't get served in a glass, he's not interested.

Argh...unleash the insanity of my week here...think tantrums, whining, crying, following mommy around, pulling on my clothes, etc.

Apparently, denying crackers is comparable to extreme torture tactics for 18 month olds. But not torture for him, torture for me of course. And I commiserate with him...believe me kid, I'd love to toss a package of crackers at you and go take a nap - but I can't. It's that whole...being a good parent thing.

And so we suffer...all of us.

And lest you think I'm exaggerating - I have witnesses! My friends have seen the horror that are my children without snacks. I'm surprised they didn't run out of my house screaming and thanking their lucky stars they don't have children like that. (Then again, maybe they did.)

Most of my ambitious plans tend to go this way. Change is NOT easy - and certainly not for toddlers. But I will prevail!!!

How about you? Do your changes get fought tooth and nail by your children (or even yourself, haha)? Did you survive the change, or just change your mind?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Psst...hey you...yeah you...guess what?

You see that guy down there in the picture...

He's cute, huh?


It's his BIRTHDAY!!!

I cannot express in words how deeply I love this man, and I've tried, yet it still isn't enough. So I'll just say...

I Love You Baby, Happy Birthday!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Parenting Purposefully

In the fall, I took a parenting class through our church - Shepherding the Child's Heart. Out of that, I wrote some goals - but overall, I haven't implemented much of what I learned. (Sad, but true). We have worked sporadically on the goals we laid out, but certainly not with clear intention or direction.

I think the biggest downfall of this, is once I wrote out goals for the boys - I didn't write out HOW we were going to work on these goals. If it's just a lofty "pie in the sky" goal, with no real objectives or measurable steps, than it's pretty difficult to succeed.

I spend a lot of my day in exasperation over their repeated misbehavior, but really have no "plan of attack" for dealing with it proactively. I'm in the "fire-fighting" mode of parenting - just kind of making sure no one loses a limb, drinks poison, or gets into a brawl with another child.

So this post is outlining the actions behind the goals - how we are going to work toward those goals.

Hayden's Goals:


We will go on daily walks (out of stroller) when weather permits. This will give him an opportunity to follow simple instructions and show obedience. I.e. the direction we walk, staying out of the street, stopping for cars


Talking back will always be met with discipline without exception. We have become more strict in this area as of late because of his increased misbehavior. Mark has now taught Hayden the meaning of "rude" and "disrespectful" and Hayden is expected to speak to us in a respectful manner. I have been more lax in disciplining this and giving him second chances - this is just allowing the behavior to grow and from now on, he will be disciplined after the first offense - no "warnings".


Any hitting or tantrum is basically his anger response. Intentional hitting and pushing are not permitted and disciplined on first offense. We also pair that with teaching the appropriate response. For instance, if he hits his brother because Corbin took a toy or hit him first, the appropriate action would be to ask for assistance from a parent, not club his brother. We've also showed him how he can offer another toy to Corbin, since very often Corbin will quickly move on to something else. We end the teaching with reconciliation between Hayden and Corbin through apology and affection (hugs and kisses between brothers). This is one area, we have been pretty consistent in.

Tantrums are met with discipline, often paired with restriction. For instance, if he throws a tantrum because he doesn't like the toys that are out, or show that is on, I just take away the toys or turn off the show. This seems to have the best effect for us, as long as I don't give in and return the item or whatever - even after he improves. I generally say it is "gone for the day", and that has been the most effective.


Hayden has been consistently potty training. Although we aren't there yet, we never take "days off" and he is using the potty every day, but still with accidents. Each week he seems to get better at this.

We have always worked hard at language development, and use every opportunity to teach Hayden new words. He's now going to preschool language classes 5 days a week.

We are also working getting him to use a regular cup (instead of a sippy) - he now has a regular cup at meal times, but it always ends with a spill, haha. He successfully sits at a normal chair, eats most of the time with fork or spoon - so he's almost done with his mealtime skills!


The most important part of his ongoing training is definitely the development of his relationship with Christ! I've been reading stories to him and we've taught him to pray, but haven't done a lot past that. For my own studies, I've been working through My Utmost For His Highest. Little did I know - there's a kid version of it - AND, I own it. I had received it in an orientation class for the last church I attended when Hayden was just a baby. He was much too young for it then, but he is just now starting to understand enough for us to start going through it. It's called Jesus Wants All of Me, and it's a daily devotional for kids that is taken from the adult version. So you will be teaching your children the same principles that you would be learning that day. It's beautiful! I'm excited to start this with Hayden!!

Phew! That's quite a list - and that's just Hayden. I'll save Corbin for another day.

Do you set goals for your children or even yourself? If so, do you have a "plan" for making those goals happen? What do you do each day to get one step closer to your goal? What results have you seen in previous goals?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Life - From the View of Facebook

A picture of my life December 2009 - only from the perspective of Facebook status updates:

  • The world conspires against me...
  • Oh Austin Radiological, we are becoming dear friends...see you soon!
  • I HATE insurance companies...
  • There comes a time when you just need to close the search engines and walk away...and that time is now, hahaha
  • How to get a nap in the middle of the day? Go get a CT scan!!!!! 25 minutes all to myself in between scans.
  • And the results are in: Hemangiomas (translation: that's good news). Woot!
  • Taking the kids around the neighborhood to check out the xmas lights. Hayden was super impressed at 10am this morning with the 2 houses that still had their lights on, can't wait to hear what he'll say when it's actually dark!
  • My phone is so nuts...I just got 4 text messages...3 were from if you sent me a text then, I just got it! Uh, happy thanksgiving to you to?? Go TMobile.
  • Thanks so much to those that made this day special! I have the greatest friends! Love you
  • Is it possible this week to truly be productive? I have a "to-do" list a mile long...and that doesn't include my "want-to-do", hehe.
  • ARGH! Apparently, it costs $4200 for a respiratory therapist to walk into our room, squirt medicine in the neb tubing, turn the nob and WATCH ME give my child a breathing treatment every 4 hours during our hospital stay. Considering I do this AT HOME every day, I don't see how this is THAT expensive of a procedure?!
  • There really are just so many uses for duct tape that I'd love to test it 8pm yet?
  • I hate potty training...getting ready to head out to a dr appt, take Hayden to the bathroom, and pees all over everything...including my pant leg. BAH!
  • Hayden talking to his underwear: "No no pee-pees, not in the pants!!" As if they had a mind of their own - this kid cracks me up.
  • It's official - the Zavala household is sick - ugh.
  • This Friday is shaping up to be magical. Long naps from BOTH kiddos, spent the hours in quiet time (not mindless internet or movie watching) AND getting my "to-do" list done. Why don't I do this everyday????
  • Get in the Christmas spirit - iTunes has a 20 track holiday sampler - for FREE. It's not bad. :D
  • Never send your hungry husband to the store or he may come home with 10 boxes of cereal...
  • Nothing more fun than jumping in the down comforters with two crazy little boys. Corbin prefers the kamikaze style belly flop, Hayden the more reserved backwards flop
  • Interesting what you find while cleaning out the pantry...I think we can safely say we won't need to by hot chocolate, oatmeal, tea, or crackers for a long, long, LONG time.
  • I'm in the selling mood! Finally trying to sell our old kitchen cabinets, and our entertainment center!!!
  • and Already had a scammer try to buy them, hahaha. No certified checks please. :P
  • For all those who might encounter my child - if he says you have a "big belly" don't be offended, because, if you ask him "Do YOU have a big belly?" He cheerfully says Yes!! So I think his size comparison is a little off.
  • I think I just got an upper body workout from the chicken dance...Hayden made us do it like 50 million wings are tired!
  • Today is definitely a day for soup...this cold rainy weather makes me want to crawl back into bed.
  • So far my medical investigations into my back pain have discovered: a gallstone, hemangiomas on my liver, and mild scoliosis - not of which should be contributing to my pain!!! ARGH! Can these folks just stay on track for one second...I want a solution! This is why I hate doctors, I go in relatively healthy and come ...out with all sorts of abnormalities, just no help for the original issue.
  • Me: "It's naptime, everyone needs to take a nap now". Hayden: "Mommy's tired". Me: "Yes, that's right, Mommy IS tired".
  • Sweet. Corbin loves homemade chicken stock. He drinks it by the glassful, haha. Thankgoodness! Maybe he can get rid of this cold.
  • Now that Hayden has mastered the art of taking off his clothes, he had now shown his preference for sleeping in the nude...everytime I go to wake him up, he's w/o clothes...hmmm...
  • New Year's Eve with the Zavalas: 2 indoor play tents, marshmallows, and sippy cups with milk of course. We'll break out the good stuff after bedtime!
  • Honestly, I have to admit, one of my favorite gifts this year was a 3-pack of socks! Without noticing, my sock supply had gotten pretty scarce and these were just what I needed. HA!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Au Naturel

Each year, I seem to be getting farther and farther down this "natural living" road. It's not really a path I ever consciously set out on, but sort of stumbled onto. Every time I go a step further and find some success, I go one step more. Suddenly, I look back and I'm not really sure how I got here. But here I am.

This time, I've been tackling deodorant. Years ago, Mark informed me that I needed to stop using antiperspirants. And like all things I've formed an opinion on, I can't really remember why - hmm something about aluminum - so go look it up. HA!

Of course, I balked at the thought of switching from my fragrant, wonderful deodorant (with antiperspirant), in favor of some junky imitation deodorant with no sweat-fighting ability...and then I scoured the store for an antiperspirant-free deodorant - which at that time was really hard to find.

But, honestly, those deodorants were just NOT that great at their job, and the "natural" ones - were WORSE. They certainly didn't last as long, and I was always slightly leery I might suddenly find myself smelling like a guy's locker room. I even kept a secret "stash" of the real thing (i.e. antiperspirant) in my purse for emergencies. I know...I'm all kinds of messed up, just love me in my quirkiness

The idea of possible making my own...never entered my mind. And then I read this, and this, and this, and...well you get the idea. Suddenly, it didn't seem like such big deal. Especially when I found an easy recipe with ingredients I already had in the house: Baking soda, corn starch, and coconut oil.

So I made it. And it works great!!! It lasts an entire day and night (no reapplying before bed or anything), and it's just as good as any antiperspirant - but with none of the chemicals. I absolutely love this stuff and am so happy I finally found an easy and CHEAP solution that actually works.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Music To My Ears

(Sorry, I'm having trouble starting this post because I'm rockin out while the kids are napping and that makes it difficult to actually think coherently with words that aren't -

SO WHAT, I'm still a rock star....)

The List

Okay, so this could be potentially embarrassing, but here's a screen shot of my iTunes in order of most played (keep in mind my main iTunes stash is on my laptop, not this computer, another "to-do" on my simplify list). Click to see a larger view.

I think Gomez, P!nk, Matisyahu, Matthew West, and Bob Marley go just fine together, thank you very much. Now where to go with this post? I guess you could say I've been recycling music - listening to stuff that I had long ago thrown in the "OLD" category. But each year I get older, I find I like the OLD stuff better. Soon, I'll be like all those grandmothers griping - "I don't get this music today - crazy kids!"

What I Love to Hear

But here are some of my recycled favorites that have stood the test of time, and why I like them:

Mindy Gledhill - Beautiful worship music. She's got this amazing, soft, sweet voice - she could sing the Elmo song and still sound good I'm sure.

Bob Marley - Music is awesome. What can I say? Anyone who's read my blog for awhile knows I love me some Bob Marley. Legend CD is a good place to start.

Baby Mine: Classic Songs for Bedtime - If you have young children, you need this CD. Blissful, sleep inducing lullabies that my children LOVE. If you have any kind of singing voice, it's also a great place for finding easy to sing songs to serenade your babies to sleep.

Solaris (Soundtrack) - I don't know why, but this instrumental soundtrack is just haunting. I love it.

Bob Schneider - If you live in Austin, you've probably heard his music. I still love the old CD Lonelyland and I've had it for almost 8 years.

Muse - One of my favorite bands, hands down. Awesome music, even BETTER lyrics. Every time I listen to their CDs, I discover a new favorite song. Their older Black Holes and Revelations album is ALL good in my opinion.

Geez, I could go on, but your asleep already. My real motivation isn't about what I'm listening to, but what you are.

Who are your favorite artists? Why do you love them? What song does the world HAVE to listen to right now?

Friday, January 8, 2010

There's a Lesson Here

When Hayden was younger, I dreaded baby well checks. In each visit, they always found something wrong. As a new mom, it was nerve racking. The last thing you want to hear is that your baby has a problem.

Taking things for granted

There are so many little things our children do that we take for granted. And if you stop and think about it, they are really miraculous achievements. It's only when, they don't do something that you suddenly appreciate how complicated and difficult it really is. Learning to sit, crawl, eat, walk, and talk. They are all feats of wonder that we should look on with awe.

It's more than just talking

We are all excited to hear that much anticipated "Mommy" or "Daddy", to finally be able to communicate and teach our little ones about our world - but when it doesn't happen - you are led down this Alice and Wonderland world of communication. The word "talking" just doesn't cover it. Receptive language, expressive language, articulation, fluency - the list goes on. From there you go into hearing tests, surgeries, evaluations, and therapy. You learn about programs, therapists, and classes. Techniques, strategies, and sign language. A new world opens up to you.

Shame and guilt

Every parent carries the burden for the life of their child. When something happens, the first question you might ask yourself is "What did I do wrong?" Did I not read to them enough? Or maybe I didn't label items enough? I'm an introvert - maybe that's what's wrong, I don't talk enough? Maybe they didn't get enough vegetables? Or perhaps I shouldn't have said yes to that vaccine? Suddenly, you're questioning every parenting decision you've ever made, looking for the cause.

Losing the bragging game

There's an unspoken game that parents play with each other where we list the achievements and proud parent moments to all who will listen. It's a natural overflow of your delight in your own children, you want everyone to know how special and amazing they are. And we all do it in some form or another. Yet, it seems when you have a child with a disability or some other delay - you slowly learn to step down from this "game". Not because your child isn't amazing and wonderful, but because you now see the other side of this game. How this "measures" them in what they can or can't do and sets up false expectations and disappointments unfairly for them. I know there are many things that at one time or another my children couldn't do, but that doesn't make them any less in my eyes.

Walking with experience

Walking this road once before with Hayden, has prepared me for the battle ahead. Corbin's 18 month well check resulted in what I had expected - a referral for a speech evaluation. Corbin still has no words, and prefers pointing and limited baby sign language as his method of communication. Yet, instead of the fear, disappointment, and confusion I faced the first time around, I meet this with acceptance, peace, and understanding.


Our children and the challenges we've faced so far with them have made us better parents. They've made me cherish every word and achievement, see them for the amazing wonders they are, and have developed peace and patience in me. I wouldn't be the person and mother I am if we hadn't had these struggles. With each new battle I face I now pose the question: What's the lesson here?

What lessons have you learned from either your own struggles or those of your children? How has that helped you today?


- Has decided that clothing is "optional"
- Pee pees have a mind of their own - as in Hayden talking to his pee pees - "No pee pees, not in the pants! No no!"
- Mommy: You made a big mess Hayden, do you want to help clean up? Hayden: Umm, no thanks.
-Hayden has made a new "rule" in his room - no socks, for anyone. He always takes his socks off and tosses them outside his room as soon as he gets in. He also tackles Corbin when he comes in and takes his socks off too...with his teeth.
- This week Hayden threw up in the middle of the night. The next morning he informed me that "I spilled...out of my mouth. (Then he reenacted the throw up noise) Sorry, momma. Spankin?" Poor baby. But I love the ingenuity of trying to describe the throwing up without the word knowledge.

- Has an obsessive compulsion to slam closed any open drawers - regardless of whether your hand is still in there or not.
- After a year of refusing to eat any kind of baby food, he has finally decided (at 18 months) that he likes it. Better late than never???
- His constant companion is his stuffed dog - never leaves his side. Corbin shows his love by biting on his nose and butt. Poor puppy.
- Has a fascination with all items that have a tag, he carries them around like blankets. Including dirty clothes from the hamper - Hayden's underwear is no exception, bleh! Crazy critter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recycling my life...again

I've been thinking a lot about a post I wrote a few years back about recycling your life. The idea was to look at your life and find ways to enjoy the things you already have. Maybe it's an old CD you haven't listened to in awhile, a candle you got for Christmas six years ago, or a book you bought but never read.

Stuffed full...of stuff

We have access to SO MUCH these days. Even if you aren't wealthy by this country's standards, it's still staggering the amount of possessions we accumulate and how much we simply just throw away.

With this year's theme of simplify, I'm simplifying our finances to cut out frivolous spending on just these type of items. So I need to find ways to entertain our family this year with the possessions we already have. Which, honestly, won't be difficult. I am a bit of a hoarder - yes, I can admit it. My first thought is always - maybe I'll need this one day. No there aren't stacks of newpapers lining the walls of my house, or 50 cans of cream corn hanging out in my pantry - but I have found ways to amass plenty of "stuff".

Am I alone in this obsession? Does anyone else have bookcases crammed with books on every topic from parenting to poetry? Kept every CD they ever loved, even if the thought of listening to it brings cringing or outright laughter? Have twenty board games they play maybe twice a year? Keep gardening seed packets from the last decade? (Hehe, of course now that it's 2010, that could mean like from last week!!) Random plastic parts that "go to something"? Every paper clip, rubber band, and twisty tie that every came through your door? Clothes that either don't fit, or you never wear because honestly, you don't like them but won't admit it?

No? Ok, well maybe that's just me.

Things left undone

Another problem I have is failing to finish what I start. I have dozens, no probably hundreds, of unfinished projects. And yet, I continue to start more each year. Simplifying my finances also means there won't be money for new projects. Instead, I am going to focus on finishing the ones I've already started AND have all the materials for. I have no excuse for boredom with all of these projects waiting to be finished. I, also, have no excuse for spending more money, when I've already wasted so much buying things I never finished.

Moving forward

I can't change the past, but I can move forward in simplicity by repurposing our old possesions, finishing up those things that I've left undone, and just enjoy what we have. I hope to be able to blog about my "finds" while recycling our life. In honor of that, this post's picture is "recycled" from three years ago - a camping trip we took with our Real Life Group.

This week's finds:

Pulled out one of my old favorite purses for a "new" purse feel.
A credit at Blockbuster provided a movie night on Saturday.

What do you think about "recycling your life"? Do you have possessions that you are thinking of "recycling" back into usefulness?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

End of the Season

It hit me today that Christmas is over. I was driving Hayden to school for his first day back, and he sadly noted - "No more lights?". The last month's drive to school has been a bit of a winter wonderland with all the decorations and lights our neighbors had put up in their yards, but now that's all gone. All that's left is empty lawns and dead grass.

There is something depressing for me about January. We spend half the year in anticipation or celebration of the holidays, only to be met with another 6 months of nothing after it's all over. Our only reprieve is Easter, but that's a long way off. The world "sleeps" through this season in anticipation of Spring.

This winter I refuse to allow myself to just drudge through. There must be something good about winter. So I'm making a list of what's good. This is what I have so far:

- Soup! Soup definitely tastes the best during winter. I will have to add soups to our menu.
- Superbowl? Although I only follow college football, I do love a good Superbowl party! I think we may have to invite a few friends over now that we have a new TV worthy of such an event (Our Christmas present to each other this year was a new TV, hehe).
- Warm nights snuggled under the covers. We have a down comforter which is sort of miserable the rest of the year - but perfect every winter. I need to enjoy it while it lasts.
- Tea. Hot tea is best enjoyed if it's warming you up!
- Occasional flurries. Ok, let's be real - this isn't an often occurrence in this area, but just the possibility brings excitement and joy to everyone!

What do you enjoy about winter? Do you get "down" during this season too? Or do you find ways of making it enjoyable? What do you do to keep busy?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pantry Adventure

Part of my new theme this year was to simplify. One aspect of that was to simplify not only our diets, but our finances.

Pantry Overload

In 2008 (wow, that seemed like a few months ago, not years), I wrote a post on how much food I had unconsciously "hoarded" into my pantry. I spent that month using up the ingredients in my pantry and freezer instead of running out to the grocery store for meals ingredients.

It was amazingly freeing and once again I find a need to go through my pantry and freezer. Although I have made permanent changes to my grocery habits to ensure I don't "collect" as much food (like weekly meal planning), it still has added up over the last few years.

The Challenge

Using up food you have already at home is also easier on the budget! Instead of spending $50 or more in food, this week's grocery bill was under $16. And, no, we aren't eating rice and beans for every meal. If you are looking for ways to save money this month AND simplify your pantry and freezer, I'd highly recommend going on a Pantry Adventure. There's even a "blog" challenge occurring right now over at Money Saving Mom (a new favorite blog I've found). And if your stuck on trying to create actual meals out those random ingredients - try this! It's a casserole "formula" for taking just about anything and making it into dinner. I know I'll be testing this out in the weeks to come.

What do you have lingering in your pantry or freezer? Can you survive a nuclear attack for years to come with your hoarding? Or are you the Spartan - keeping only mustard and ice cubes?

Monday, January 4, 2010


In all the craziness of the holidays, I didn't post a thing about my 29th birthday! Yes, this is my last year of 20s - sniff sniff. But I think I'll survive.

The Cake

Here's the gorgeous cake (thanks Jenny!):

Daffodils are my favorite flowers! The cake was four layers with lemon filling - YUM!

The Party

The party was a bit bamboozled by the crazy weather and date changes - but it was still great to see a few friends and relax! I may have to schedule a "do-over" though, because I have a great gift certificate to The Cupcake Bar that I need to use up before November! So me, and nine of my nearest and dearest friends can stuff ourselves with yummy cupcakes decorated by cupcake "bartenders"! Sounds like a blast, start sucking up now for your place (just kidding, hehe).

The Gift

I was showered with wonderful gifts by my friends, everything from dinner and a movie out to a new game I'm addicted to called Set. Also out of that birthday party I snagged a new camera from the hubby (our old one bit the dust last Fall) - a Canon Rebel T1i. So I've been having LOTS of fun with that ever since.

It's always been a lifelong dream of mine to learn more about photography, so I was really excited to finally get a DSLR. Since then, I've been driving our kids batty with lots of "shoots", haha.

But even photos with my new fancy camera can't compensate for the fact that the kids generally either have A.) boogers all over their face or B.) No pants on.

Or my choices in location. Like in this shot where Hayden looks adorable, but the background with Peter from the Family Guy in his underwear, is really, well, NOT.

A "real" photographer would probably have caught on to that and turned off the TV. Oops.

You'll finally be seeing my Flickr account active again, since I don't really want to store all these photos just on my computer. These files can be really large before processing them down! I'd, also like to keep track of my photography progress online. I think keeping track of another blog would be overkill, but maybe a weekly posting to this one along with Flickr would be enough. So look for more photos to be gracing my posts!

Anyone else get anything needed or just "desired" for Christmas/holidays that has really impacted you? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Fresh Start in 2010

I have to admit, I love getting a fresh start. 2010 is not only a new year - it's a new decade! A new year has so much possibility. Will this be the year I get in shape? Get organized? Become super mom? Finally get consistent on a daily quiet time? Stay on budget?

I don't ever do new year's resolutions, but I do enjoy the clean slate "feel" of a new year and each year I focus on a theme. In 2008 I ushered in the year of "Right Now", 2009 was the year of "Held", this year my theme is Simplify.

Simplify my material possessions.

Do I really need hundreds of books, DVDs, 2 crockpots, every scrap of paper since 1998, and 50 strands of christmas lights? Do my children need every toy, book, and movie that comes out so that my house is one giant tangle of Elmo, Thomas the Train, and those freaky singing stuffed animals? Seven different sizes of clothing on the off chance that I might someday lose 30 lbs? Twenty pairs of shoes, because, well, you never know, I might be wearing that prom dress one day (right after I lose 20 lbs) and I'll need those shoes!

Simplify my time.

This year finds me shuttling Hayden to school for his speech therapy. I was going to attempt to still do ladies bible study in spite of the fact that it starts at 9:30 and Hayden gets out of school at 9:45. This would have me arriving around 10 or 10:15 each Thursday and rushing to drop off kids at childcare and sit in on the last few minutes of group discussion before we all head to watch the lecture. In my new lens of simplification, I see how ridiculous this is. When I attempted it the last day this fall, I was completely frazzled and disoriented arriving late, and it wasn't enjoyable. So I will be sitting this semester out.

Simplify my diet

My life has been changed doing The Lord's Table courses (I'm finishing up the second one). My perspective on food and diets has been radically altered. I'm learning to recognize cravings as the deceptions they are - they don't really provide any meaningful satisfaction - and turning away from food as an emotional support. In response to that, I have less need to eat out several times a week, or purchase craving-satisfying food. I have been making simple, but nourishing meals for my family at home, which is much easier on the wallet. That brings me to my next point...

Simplify my finances

This week I finished up the budget for January 2010. I have made some drastic changes and some lofty goals. After reading this post, where a family has saved 100% of their money to buy a house, I decided that it was totally possible for Mark and I to pay off our house over the next four years. This means I've reduced our spending to only the necessities, and even then there are plenty of frivolous categories that still linger.

Simplify my parenting

I made a decision long ago not to overdose myself on the latest parent psychology, but nevertheless, it slowly finds its way in via snippets on TV, in magazines, blogs, or through other parents. I think it would be mind boggling and completely overwhelming to read EVERY parenting philosophy or idea out there and so I choose to say NO. Can I simply reduce my parenting to:

1 part love
1 part patience
1 part teaching
1 part discipline

Being sure that one part does not overpower the others? As in, I'm not scolding all the time, but also not ignoring all their misbehavior. I recognize that they are still small children, yet also strive to teach them daily. Showing them love and affection daily. Doesn't that seem like the gist of this parenting thing?

Now that I've spelled out my theme for the year, I'd love to hear from you guys! Do you do resolutions? What are they? If not, do you do something else?