Monkey Town Read-a-long

Once, again, I’m joining the amazing Marla in a read-a-long.  The book is “Evolving in Monkey Town” by Rachel Held Evans.

However, I haven’t read the book yet!  I put it on hold at the library weeks ago and I’m next on the list to get it.  Hopefully I’ll have it in my hot little hands soon.

In the meantime, feel free to head on over to
Marla’s blog
 to read the comments and blog post link ups.

7: Stress

I’m joining Marla for another read-a-long.  You can find all posts in this series here.

I am a high stress person.  When I was in the working world, I lost many nights sleep fretting over work related things.  When I was in charge of an office move, I had trouble sleeping for days (weeks?) because I kept thinking of things I needed to remember to do and was eager to get into the office and just do them!

Now that I’m a stay at home mom, I am still a rather high stress person, it’s just that my stress is more related to things in my home life than in my work life.  Like a recent situation with our neighbor who was going to contact his lawyer about our shared fence falling down to see if he had a case that we should shoulder all of the cost for it to be fixed because he thinks our bush helped knock it down (combined with the severe wind we get in our city).  My husband just shrugged it off and said some people like to threaten things like that to scare you.  But, I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that we were now going to have a tense relationship with our neighbor.

One thing I appreciate about how we do life is that we are homebody’s.  Before I got married I worked full-time and had plans most nights of the week and had multiple plans over the weekend.

My husband and I are introverts and have really settled into the routine of not usually having plans on weeknights.  We used to sing in the choir and were each in a Bible study, but once our daughter arrived, we pretty much cut out all our outside activities.  We still go to church and have friends over, we just don’t have any standing commitments every week, other than going to church.

Our daughter is only two, so she isn’t involved in any extra curricular activities.  And I hope as she gets older, that will continue to be the case.  I’m not saying that she can’t be involved in anything, but I don’t want to follow the example of another family member whose kids are involved in everything.   Seriously.  A few weeks ago we went to one of their kid’s birthday parties (on a Saturday) and found out that they had 3 other events going on that day besides the party.  Oh, my word!  That is just not the type of life I want to lead.

I’m reading a book by Dr. Kevin Leman and he tells the story of someone visiting his family and after observing them together, she asks how they got to be such a tight knit family.  His answer was that they didn’t do a lot of outside activities and they spent a lot of time together which allowed them to bond and learn to actually enjoy one another’s company.  That’s what I want for my family

To switch gears here.  The thing that most spoke to me in this chapter was when   Jen was talking about refugees (p 206-208) and how they need people to help  them navigate things in their new country.

I lived in Canada for a year and knew a couple of refugees.  They both were living with families who were helping them get on their feet and get off to a good start.  I keep in touch with one of the girls who was a refugee and found out that both she and her Mom have become believers.  Isn’t that  amazing?  Her Mom  has a steady job and is able to support she and her daughter and they know the Lord.  I love it.  And reading the few pages where Jen spoke about refugees,  it made me want to reach out and help those in my city who are new to our country and trying to rebuild their lives.

I get so frustrated feeling like I am not in a season where I can use my skills to help others.  Perhaps getting involved with refugees will be a good outlet for me.

Discipline Challenge: Week One {Exercise days 1 and 2)

I’m participating in the Women Living Well Discipline Challenge. To see all my posts in this series, go here.

On Tuesday I decided to try a workout DVD I bought several years ago and think I might have attempted to do it once before shortly after I purchased it.  Here’s a summary of how I felt about 2 minutes into the workout:

“You call this a warm up?   I’m about to die, how am I gonna make it through the actual work out section?”

The DVD is called “Firm It Up!  A Dance Workout by Suzanne Cox”  Never heard of her?  Me neither, but she was a UK Gladiator.  That shoulda told me then and there that this was not the workout for someone who hadn’t been exercising on a regular basis.

I’m used to doing about a 20 minute workout from start to finish.  This one was 30 minutes and it was super intense.  Also, the moves were hard to follow.  I consider myself a seasoned aerobics exerciser.  I’ve been doing these types of workouts since I was a kid.  But, the tempo of this was wayyy too fast and combining the arms with the leg movements was just about impossible.

Less than an hour after finishing up the workout, my legs were sore!!  I figured that was not a good sign.  But, the next day I actually felt pretty good.  The following day though, my knee was bothering me.

On Saturday I decided to try an exercise video that I got from the library.  It’s called “Get Fit Daily Dozen 12 moves 12 minutes” by Denise Austin.  I knew I should probably do pilates or yoga since my knees bothered me after my first day of exercise, but I really prefer aerobics.  So, I did a 12 minute “Cardio-athletic fat blast.”  Again, in the first few minutes, I felt like I was in over my head!  The tempo was sooo fast!!  At least I knew how to do most of the moves, though!

I guess I’ve been stuck in the 80’s doing old exercise tapes.  Another favorite VHS of mine was by Kathy Smith.  I found it at the library in Canada in 2003 and then bought it on eBay.  But, since my VCR is broken, I guess I’m gonna have to find some newer videos I can use.  Which apparently means I’m going to be working much harder in my exercises than I was used to!

7: Spending

I’m joining Marla for another read-a-long.  You can find all posts in this series here.

My brother is a plumber and he was telling me over the weekend about a client of his who had a hand carved bath tub from Italy imported for their new home.  The cost of that tub was $25,000!!!  (Yes thousand).  And it was so heavy, they had to use a crane to drop it through a sky light to get it inside the house.

I shook my head in disgust and made a remark about the list of worthwhile things that money could have been spent on.  Then I was reminded of Jen’s comment “..we are not big-ticket item buyers; we nickel and dime ourselves to death.” (p. 167)

My husband and I are not typically big spenders.  But, I am guilty of making small purchases that are more often than not, unnecessary.   The Dollar store and Target’s Dollar spot always trip me up.  And that money really does add up.

Even so, I’d say we do pretty well when it comes to spending.  We never spend more than my husband makes and our only debt is our mortgage.   And we hope to pay that off ASAP.

We tithe and support missionary friends and I just recently started sponsoring a Compassion child.

On the other hand, right before I started reading this chapter, I was working on our budget and noticed we were already over our grocery budget and we still had almost 2 more weeks to go!

Then again, our budget was made over 3 years ago (before we had our daughter) and when we lived in a smaller home that was less expensive to heat. Like I said, we never spend more than my husband makes.  Our budget numbers are just suggestions that perhaps need to be revised.

There are so many things that I used to spend money on when I was single (and had a full time job) that I no longer spend money on, or at least not as much.  I still love to buy (inexpensive) clothes, but not as often as I used to.    Which was just about every weekend.  We hardly ever eat out.  I love fast food, but my husband doesn’t, so it’s a rare treat to go through a drive thru these days.   The monthly massages?  Those went out the window a long time ago.  My annual hair highlights and fancy cut?  Gone years ago.

So, yeah, I feel like we do pretty well as far as actually having a budget and not spending more than we make.  But, I know I still have room to grow.   Or should I say to cut back.

“The poor don’t lack ambition, imagination, or intelligence; most simply lack resources.” (p. 169)

It is really sad how we can disillusion ourselves and treat the poor as less than human.  On Easter we were driving to my parents house and as we came off the highway, there was a guy with a sign  that said “Vision of a cheeseburger.”  I thought it was clever.  But, as traffic started moving, the guy in the car next to us opened up his car door while we were moving (don’t ask me why he didn’t  just roll down his window) and yelled “Get a *(#!@$$ job!” and gave the guy the dirtiest look (yeah, he was driving with his car door open, and his eyes not on the road).

To be honest, I used to have little compassion for homeless people.  I figured if they could write a message on a sign, they could fill out a job application.  Then I spent a year in Canada and was introduced to the idea of social justice.  And my heart has been softened ever since.

My goal is to cut out the unnecessary spending and to use that money to help someone in need.

Discipline Challenge: Week One {Exercise}

Discipline Challenge: Week one {Days 1 and 2}

I was just thinking the other day that I need to get back into exercising.  I have loved doing aerobics since I was a kid.  I used to watch the exercise routines on TV, one after another.  My favorite has always been Denise Austin.  More recently, I’ve done some Tony Little videos.  But, alas, my ancient VCR gave out not too long ago and I haven’t been able to watch my favorite instructors on video.

But, Courtney, has just started a 5 week challenge on disciplining ourselves  (we’ll focus on a different area each week) and she mentioned that you can find Denise Austin’s exercise videos on YouTube – YAYY!  I am sooo excited!

I thought it would be a good idea to get it out on my blog that I am intending to start exercising again so I’d have some accountability.  It’s really funny.   In some areas I am so disciplined.  I am very, very good at not staying up too late.  I have trouble sleeping off and on and I always wake up early.  So, I know I have got to get to bed early or I won’t get enough sleep.  Often times if I go to bed late, I have a hard time sleeping well.  Totally bizarre, but that’s how my body works.

Anyways, I’d love for my going to bed early discipline to spread to having discipline in exercising on a regular basis.

I want to make this challenge doable and ease back into working out on a regular basis (it’s been a long time), so my goal is to exercise twice this week.

7: Waste

I’m joining Marla for another read-a-long.  You can find all posts in this series here.

To be honest, I’m not a very “green” person.  I do have some reusable tote bags, but I only got them because they were free and my grocery store would reimburse you $.05 for each one you used.  Well, once they stopped the reimbursement (due to rising costs), I stopped using the bags!  Oh, except for one that I take to the library to carry our millions of books home in.

A couple weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry and was horrified at the sheer number of plastic grocery bags we had.  We use them to line trash cans, but we still had way too many.  So, the day before I began reading this chapter, I decided to start using reusable totes again.  And I took two bags full of empty bags to the grocery store and put them in their bag recycling receptacle.

I got into the habit of recycling when I lived in Canada in a huge house with lots of roommates.  One of my chores was sorting and taking out the recycling.  The city I now live in charges for recycling pick up.  And my husband (who might be a tad more frugal than I am) refuses to pay for this service.  He thinks recycling companies make money and should take our materials for free.  I don’t know if they typically make money, but I read an article in our local paper a while back that said they were not currently making money.

My solution?  My parents live an hour away and their trash fees include recycling.  So, I save up my recycling and take it to their house whenever we visit. I also found out that our city has a drop off site where you can recycle for free.  They have two giant trash bins that you can toss your recyclables in.  I’ve made the trip there twice, but it’s almost an hours drive round trip, so I have to wonder if my gas pollution is negating my recycling efforts??

As far as waste?  I’m sad to admit that I am a huge waster of food.  I am very anal about expiration dates and pretty much refuse to use anything past the date on the bottle/can etc.  My husband on the other hand uses items (like condiments) that have been opened and expired for a couple of years.

I’d love to reduce our food waste.  It kills me to know I’m throwing money in the trash and wasting what was at one point, good food.  I’ve thought of putting a list on our fridge of what needs to be used up first so we can either eat those items for snacks or I can incorporate them into our upcoming meals.

Our utilities company had a program a couple of weeks ago where you could turn in up to two shower heads and get free water saver ones.  We took advantage of this.  I  love taking long hot showers and I have to say, I really miss our old shower head!  It was much easier to adjust and just plain led to a more enjoyable shower!  Even if it did have a few stray spots where water would shoot up to the ceiling…

I felt convicted as I read the beginning of this chapter where Jen mentions how God created this world that we are tearing apart.  I haven’t ever really looked at it that way, but now I can’t stop thinking about it!

Just as I was working on this post, I saw this article about food waste.

Project Simplify: Desk & Closet

My desk is a never ending project.  I get it cleaned off one day and by the next, it’s a disaster area again.  Here’s a before picture:

and after:

I sell a lot of things on eBay, so I have packages under my desk and next to it.  But, at least most of them are now corralled into containers.

Last year I had my sister come over while I tried on a large portion of my clothes and she helped me decide which ones to get rid of.  The past two weeks I’ve been trying on the clothes again. I have a lot of work clothes that no longer fit me after I had my daughter, but I was hoping they’d fit some day soon.  Well, most of them still don’t fit, so I decided it was time to let them go.

I have been wanting to reorganize my closet so I could find things more easily. I finally decided to put like items together and then sort them by color.  So, tops would be together and within that section all the black tops would be together etc.  I have two closets (well my husband has one half of one and the other half of the second one has my wedding dress in it).

Here’s a before picture of the first closet: (nevermind all the junk on the floor.  That’s a project for another week!)

and after (the stuff on the far left is maternity and I didn’t want to mix it in with the rest of my clothes)

Before closet 2

After closet 2 (I put my warmer tops in this closet and categorized them by sweaters, sweatshirts, etc.  Oh, well the far right side has my t-shirts for wearing around the house).

The below  picture only shows some of what I’m getting rid of.  The other items were in the wash as I plan to list them on eBay.  I didn’t count the total number of items I’m getting rid of, but I did count 9 pairs of work pants.  Yikes!  Good thing I’m not in the working world any longer or I’d have to do some serious work clothes shopping!

I absolutely love my new method of organizing my clothes in the closet! The first wonderful moment was when I was looking for a top to wear with a pair of greenish capri’s my sister had given me.  I’m a bit fashion challenged and had no idea what to wear with them.  She said a dark solid shirt would do.  It was a hot day, so I knew I wanted to wear short sleeves.  I walked over to my newly beautifully arranged closet, saw that the only solid colored short sleeve shirts I have are black.  I  grabbed one in all of 5 seconds and that was that.  It was brilliant!  No more going through each item looking for that elusive top I want to wear.  And putting my clothes away is easier too because I have an empty hanger right where it goes.