Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Artwork Challenge


We have come into a new phase of childhood at the Zavala house...artwork.

Now that Hayden is going to his speech classes daily, he comes home with all kinds of crafts and scribbles that are precious. Okay, well some of them are cute. Some are two black marks on a blank page - but who am I to judge the quality of original Hayden Zavala's?

So what does one do with all these?

I have come up with a solution that has worked pretty well. I save my favorites, but the rest I add to a pile for the grandparents to dig through and keep for themselves.

I also make cards for the grandparents out of scrap "coloring" activities. For instance, I cut a heart out of some of his scribbles and threw it in the Christmas card or birthday card. So far that's kept us from drowning in crafts and still avoid the guilt of tossing his hard work.

How about you? What do you do? Or maybe what did your parents do to save your childhood art?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Muscle Relaxer Induced Post

Let's go random today....

1. There is a rumor of snow tomorrow - dare we believe it?

I can't help but get giddy at the thought. I don't know why, not like I get a Mom's "snow day" or something. I just get two stir crazy kids and possibly a husband who has to work from home amidst the chaos.

2. My kitchen was supposed to be done yesterday. We started this remodel November 2008...yes, you read that right, over a year ago.

I think we are cursed when it comes to this kitchen. Hours from job completion and they hit a pipe in the floor - water goes rushing everywhere. This leads to hours of waiting for the plumber with no water, removing tile and concrete, and now they have to come back tomorrow to finish. Oh joy.

3. I have this bottle of wine that's awaiting the "completion" celebration. I intended to drink it last summer...uh huh.

4. Hayden has been organizing things into "families". Like if there are four penguins, he labels them momma penguin, daddy penguin, Hayden penguin, Corbin penguin. On the potty the other day, after finishing he ended by pointed out the momma poo-poo, daddy poo-poo, Hayden poo-poo, and Corbin poo-poo.

5. Last week when asking Hayden to go upstairs for bedtime he responded, "Umm, no. I'm busy." Wonder where he gets that from...

6. At church when the teacher asked Hayden to help clean up, he responds, "Ummm, no hanks (thanks)." Always polite.

7. Hours before we were supposed to attend a funeral, Corbin decides to toss his only pair of shoes in the toilet. Luckily we found a babysitter at the last minute.

8. Mark and I bought "Just Dance" a new game for the Wii. After 17 minutes of dancing (yes it's timed) we were both sweating and too tired to continue...I followed that session with a muscle relaxer for my back - just in case. We're getting old.

9. I found a new blog to love - Walk Slowly Live Wildly. Very inspirational.

10. I stopped drinking soda. During the Olympics, I saw a commercial for Coke advertising that they support the Special Olympics, and drinking Coke helps support them. I almost ran to the fridge in support, until I remembered all we had was Pepsi. Guess I'm still not drinking soda.

11. I'm not a huge fan of the Olympics...I know...I'm like the only person in America not glued to the TV. I had a bad experience ok? This is why school sucks. I was FORCED to watch the winter Olympics one year and record as many events as I could for extra credit. I really needed that extra credit to get my grade up and I had PAGES of scores. I turned it in and the teacher LOST it. LOST it!!! I still can't believe it. I think she just hated me. Since then, the Olympics and I don't get along. NEVER AGAIN!!!

12. Okay, Mark made me watch Ice Dancing - which I totally tease him for watching...but the Great Britain couple was pretty good (doesn't hurt that we shared the same last name as my family - go KERRS!!)...but I'm still not INTO the Olympics. P.S. The snow jumpers look like flying squirrels.

13. I totally think I could get in shape doing the Just Dance thing...I know lame - but dude, who wants to exercise when I could be playing games!!! So I predict I'll either start slimming down, or break an arm doing some wild move.

14. And finally, do you know how to turn off the water to your house? Well you should. Ours is practically down the block...ok well on the side of our neighbor's yard in a flower bush...but still, I would have NEVER found that. I'd figure it out now before you really need to know that info...you know, like if your house is flooding from a broken pipe.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

V-Day

Mark and I aren't really Valentine's Day folks. In fact, we celebrate the weekend after and get all our gifts and chocolates 75% off, and we avoid the lover-packed restaurants and romantic venues. But, even so, I like enjoying the actual February 14th date with simple treats - like homemade chocolate covered strawberries!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Plan C


I just read an excellent post over on Tapestry by a friend of mine Laura Singleton. If you haven't read her posts before - they are really worth a few minutes of your time. She is always challenging me in my thinking and I highly recommend her writing!

Her topic this time was "Stop trusting God to fulfill those promises". I know sounds crazy, right? But, as usual, she was right on.

How often have I put words in God's mouth - promises I've "claimed" He's made that He never agreed to?

And how often have I limited God when praying? In a small way, her point #4 came to life for me just recently with Corbin.

This February we headed back to the urologist for another consult on Corbin's bladder reflux condition. My prayer requests fell into two possible outcomes - either that the condition wasn't fixed and God would give me peace and comfort about the surgery to come OR that Corbin was healed.

Instantly, I limited God's plan into two paths - my paths - never thinking that He might have an entirely different road for us.

And, of course, He did.

No, the bladder reflux wasn't healed. But, the specialist thought that we could continue on without surgery OR his daily antibiotics and was optimistic that the condition would heal over time without surgery.

Whoa, what? That wasn't one of my "solutions". But it was God's solution. He answered my prayers in His own unique time and way - and that really hit home to me. And His way continues to challenge and grow me in the areas of patience, peace, and just "letting go" of the illusion of control I think I have over the health of my boys.

How many other times have I "put God in a box" and limited my prayers to my own plans and solutions?

This was a great reminder that God really does work in mysterious ways and even when things seem like they are going south, maybe God's road map of my life is supposed to head south for the time being so that I can reach my final destination.

Are there times in your life where God's plan didn't match your own and He answered prayer in unique and amazing ways?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Losing My Life



For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. ~Matthew 16:25


That speaks against all rational thinking, right? Lose your life, to find it. And if I lose my life, will I like the life I find?

Who knows better than me what I need in life, right?

So let me ask you this - how's life working for you?

I'll be the first to admit - it wasn't working so well for me. I mean from the outside it looked pretty good. I had all my "stuff" together and a pretty good front of being who everyone needed me to be.

Inside...I was a wreck in so many ways. Torn in a thousand different directions, trying to serve a thousand different masters.

Continual failure, never pleasing everyone, always drowning in my duties and responsibilities.

Never truly happy for long, discontented, disappointed, and frustrated with my inability to "get it right".

Lost in this world, searching for the point, living without a passion, and going through the motions.

I had the "good Christian" act going. But I never lost my life to Him. He was an accessory. A label. A social club. Another duty.

And then something changed. Better yet, I think Someone changed me, because I've never gotten a thing right in my life. My attempts at "check box" Christianity were always met with dry and feeble connections to God.

And for a while now I've been falling down this "Alice and Wonderland" rabbit hole of Him. Discovering Him more and more - and finding that there is no end to this falling. He is all-consuming and never ending.

Little by little, He's been releasing my grip on this life I've built up and turning my heart towards Him. He's been opening up dark holes in me that I'd long since considered "Off limits". He's been reigniting passions in me that I'd given up years ago.

I feel...on fire.

I feel...consumed.

I feel...free.


Some days these feelings are SO strong I want to run out into the street and scream it for all to hear:

Life doesn't have to be like this. There IS another way. There is Someone so wonderful out there, you can't even imagine it!

I am no longer who I was. And yet, I was never me. God is opening up this whole new world of who I can be in Him, and His work is just so beautiful.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Monday, February 15, 2010

Secrets of Motherhood

One of my favorite things about motherhood is those little "secrets" just between you and baby. You know, like those unspoken needs or gestures that only you can interpret.

Like if my son Corbin walked up to you and handed you a chip clip - would you know what to do with it?



Secret: Open it.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Difficult Day


Today was, well, a difficult day. Most of the day I have just felt off. And I am going to ask you to excuse my lack of real post, because I think the time would be better spent in prayer and time with Him than trying to explain about my day - because we've all had one of THOSE days. So you can already relate without my saying a word.

But I'd love to hear about one of THOSE days that you've had? They can be quite funny once they've passed, HA!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Book List


I know it's a little late - now that we're in February, but I do have a book list this year, so I thought I'd share it. Mine is not as long as some I've seen. And frankly, I don't know how you'd have the time (as a mom at least) to get through 30 or 40 books in a year, but maybe I'm just slow. So here's Mel's Small Booklist:

1. Daughters of Sarah - I read this in January. I love, love, LOVE this book. In fact, I'm going to blog about it soon, it was that life changing.

2. Hunger for God - My current read. I'm hoping to do a book each month, so this is my February book.

3. Calm my Anxious Heart - I've actually already read this one, but it's such a needed reminder that I read it once a year.

4. Believing God - The ladies bible study I stepped out of this year is currently doing a study from this book, I'd like to do it on my own this spring as well.

5. Captivating - I got this one a few years back in MP3s, so technically there's no "reading" involved, but whatever.


And that's it folks! I'm keeping my "planned" reading list small so I have plenty of time for those "new" gems I may find throughout the year.

What about you? Do you have a book list? If so, what's on it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daily Exercise...


Today I got my daily exercise, courtesy of Corbin...

Deciding I would be extra special industrious, I went grocery shopping with Corbin after dropping Hayden off at school - in the WEE hours of the morning.

Patting myself on the back for being so energetic, I was enjoying my morning shopping, until...I look down at Corbin's feet and see the dreaded....missing shoe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, Mom's of mischievous children the world over know about "The Missing Shoe". Your kid has a propensity for rubbing his feet together as long as it takes to pop off that shoe.

And this isn't just any old shoe...THESE ARE HIS ONLY PAIR. I refuse to buy multiple pairs of shoes for the few months he will be in this size. And, of course - he LOVES these shoes.

ACK! Okay, what to do...I retrace my steps (by the way I was almost done shopping at this point), I ask the helpful store employees to watch out for a shoe, I make it all the way back to the area where I picked up the cart. I poke my head out the door of the store, just in case that little bugger is lying out in the parking lot.

Nope.

Fifteen minutes later, I am now defeated. I have no other options left except Lost & Found (located past the checkout).

As I turn back to the cart, what do I see sitting on the rack under the cart? The missing shoe. I had had it with me the whole time, pushing it around the store like some idiot.

I can only laugh - this IS motherhood.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Musical Furniture

In the Zavala house we've been playing a bit of "Musical Furniture" in the past 2 months - a take off of musical chairs but with all the furniture in our house. We've lived in this house for going on nine years, and have been through all different stages of life in it.

We began as newlyweds (married for a little over a year) in our first house. I was still in college and Mark was working, so we didn't spend a lot of time "home making". The house was a mismatched collection of college years, wedding gifts, and cheap items we'd found.

When I graduated and went to work, the additional income allowed us to make a few more purchases - we made the upstairs room into a game room complete with a pool/casino game table and red and black walls. We added a few decorations, but not much. Most of our time was spent at work.

Then we got pregnant with Hayden and I turned the spare room into a nursery (with lavender walls - before we knew the gender). The nursery then exploded and threw up all over our house - making it unmistakable that we were new parents. Swings in the living room, toys littering the floors, changing mats everywhere, little shirts and socks lining the couch - it was a sight.

When Corbin came, in true second child style, we threw him in the game room and just lived in survival mode with two children under two.

Only in the last few months have we looked up from the diapers and sippy cups to see a disheveled and crazy house, with no organization or reason. We've just been trudging along and not stopping to think about why we put things where we did.

It was time for a change.

Our first change came with the boys. With the largest room in the house being the "game room", we decided that it would be perfect for the boys. We moved Hayden's things upstairs and sectioned off a part of the room as "his". We dismantled the pool table and shoved all the unused items to one side of the room (the idea being that we would move or get rid of it all in time).

This allowed us to use Hayden's old room as an office. Now Mark and I can use our computers without waking the boys at night (they were previously located in the loft next to the game room), and it allows Mark to "shut the door" when he's working from home and keep the boys out of his way.

Then came the living room. We finally got those bookshelves/entertainment unit we'd been looking at for over a year. Wow! This has given us so much more space. Now there is finally a place to put my massive book collection, all of our DVDs (or dvdv's as Hayden calls them), and electronic equipment. This has been the best purchase we've ever made for the house in my opinion. I'm still in the process of "filling it up", but so far it has been wonderful!!

Motivated to continue

Seeing how just a couple of changes have impacted our lives, I'm eager to make more! I have ideas to help organize our bedroom, as well as our closets, and even our garage. I can see how having too much stuff, or just plain unorganized stuff has been draining us. It's more to clean, more to look through, more to organize, just MORE. And right now in my life, I want LESS.

How about you? Have you gotten the organizational bug? How has organizing an area of your life improved it? Or what do you wish you could get organized and how do you think it would improve your life?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mark's Birthday

I've got no words today, so here are some pics from Mark's Birthday:


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yar Matey!


Captain Morgan Poses



Pose failed...


Try again

Yar!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Corbin's Goals


After writing Hayden's goals, I took a bit of time to think about Corbin's goals. After all, writing goals for a 19 month old is a little different than a 3 year old.

I must point out though, every 19 month old is different. In fact, I find that at this age in particular children are VERY different on all levels. One kid is running, one is just learning to walk. One is talking in phrases, the other doesn't say a word. So basically, to come up with goals I have to base my expectations on what I think he can understand verbally, as well as accomplish physically. No matter how bad I want to teach "manners", if he can't talk, there's no way he's going to say please (unless you teach him sign language).

Obedience

Corbin has demonstrated the concept of understanding his name. So at this point I am working on first time obedience - coming when called. This is a big concept out of Mom's Notes that I also used with Hayden.

Anger

Corbin has a temper that comes out as hitting objects or knocking things over when he is mad. We have been working on correcting this for the last few months. He is getting much better, but still occasionally will knock things off the table. I do feel this is less of an issue though. And obviously, any tantrums would also be corrected.

Skills

In the past couple weeks, we have successfully taught Corbin how to go up and down the stairs unassisted. (Going down consists of doing a belly slide down each step, but it works). This was one of my major concerns since I've moved the boy's room upstairs.

We're also working on introducing more sign language since he's still not talking. He knows "All done", "more", and the more rarely used "Milk". I would like to add "help", "please", and "eat" so that we can avoid the communication frustration we encountered with Hayden. He was unable to verbalize his needs so he would just shriek. Very hard on the ears!

His spoon and fork skills have improved tremendously over the past month. He's actually getting quite good with the fork. Although, actually getting him to eat the food is another story. My biggest hurdle with Corbin is the limited variety of foods he's willing to eat. I am slowly expanding this, but it's a long uphill battle.

God

I want to introduce some more songs and do a few stories from his toddler bible. As of yet, he isn't much of a listener for book time. I'm hoping that will change as he understands more. He seems to like songs and books with hand movements, so I'll try to look for more like that. He is learning how to pray, and sometimes will fold his hands with the family at dinner while we pray.

Okay, that's it!! I try not to make the plans to complicated, you can only work on so much at a time!

What are your goals in parenting? Do you have any methods or ideas that have worked for you?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Favorite Moments


You know what is one of my favorite things about being a mother and wife?

It's that moment, near the end of the day, when the house is quiet and you look around and everything just feels like home.

The air still echos of children playing and laughing from a long afternoon, even though right now it's silent.

The house is lived in, but basically picked up and clean, the smells from dinner are still in the air, maybe there's even a half-asleep baby in your arms - but that's it, right there, that quick glimpse around the house and you know - I'm doing what I was made to do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Simplification Review: January


Can you believe January is gone already?? Wow. 1/12th of the year is done and I still haven't taken down my Christmas tree!!

There's no reason to do a theme or new year's resolution if you're not willing to evaluate yourself periodically for progress. So here goes my simplification evaluation!

#1 Simplify my material possessions

I really took this one to heart this month after finding the secret to laundry. I purged myself of 50-75% of all of my clothing and have never felt better!! I absolutely LOVE doing laundry now, and anyone who knows me can tell you that's a complete attitude change from before. What do I love you ask? I love that I'm no longer searching for hangers (now that I have less clothes, I have more hangers available). I'm no longer shoving things in drawers or squeezing clothes in my closet. I don't sit in my room for five minutes wondering WHERE I'm going to put the pile of clothes I just washed (which usually ended with me dumping them on the chair next to my bed) I actually get excited to do laundry now, because I love seeing how organized my clothing is and stays.

#2 Simplify my time

As announced, I did step out of Ladies Bible study. It was really hard to do, but it was the right decision. Simplifying the laundry has also helped simplify my time. I spend less time on laundry now that I have smaller loads. I do about 2 loads a day about 4 days of the week. It's very simple now and probably takes about half the time. Since my loads are smaller, they also take less time in the dryer. I was overfilling the dryer with was making it take 1 1/2 cycles to completely dry. Now it takes less than 1 cycle. Now if I can only find the secret to dishes! Anybody?? Got a method?? I NEEED one.

#3 Simplify my diet

I don't think I've made much progress here yet, but I have a post coming up that will start on this area soon!!

#4 Simplify my finances

We made a budget for January (and now February). Although we didn't "make" budget I felt it was a good guide and goal. I made a few tweaks for February and I'm looking forward to doing better this month! I started a "Want" list to curb extra spending and added a small eating out budget. Hopefully, these changes will be helpful.

#5 Simplify my parenting

I wrote out some actions/goals for Hayden (still working on Corbin's - watch for them later this week) and unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to do a lot in this area. The boys have been sick most of this month (and so have we for that matter) so we've been living in survival mode. One activity that we have implemented, and quite well surprisingly, has been room time for the boys. It gives me a chance to pick up the house in the evening before Mark gets home (without them destroying it behind me) and lets them learn how to play together. Other than the occasional squabble over a toy, they've been doing pretty well! This is definitely a much needed activity that has improved MY life tremendously, haha. Hayden has also successfully mastered using a real cup (not a sippy)!! Woohoo!!

All in all, I think I've made progress in simplifying my life. I've been intentionally about applying my theme every day.

How about you? Did you have a theme or word of the year? Or perhaps a New Year's resolution? What progress have you made so far or how has it changed your life?