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Since Apparently Suicide is No Longer Selfish

If you are anywhere in the social media world, you have probably already seen the heartbreaking story of the 29 year old woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and moved to Oregon where she could  use the death with dignity laws to kill herself. Yes, I said kill herself. I didn't say "end her life" or "choose how she left this earth" because all those phrases sugar coat what she actually did and that is commit suicide. 

Let me first say that when I read her story it made me really sad to see someone so hopeless. I can't imagine being in such a dark place. She killed herself to avoid pain and suffering that she never needed to suffer. Jesus died for her healing, both physical and emotional. Christian or not, cancer can be cured naturally, many people have done it, but that is for another day, and not where I am trying to go with this post.  

I opened my Facebook app the other morning after she had reportedly gone through with her plans, and I could not believe people's responses. People calling her brave, calling her a hero, and praising her for her suicide. What the heck is going on with this world? When did suicide go from being sad and selfish  to becoming an act of heroism? My main question to the people calling her brave is this... Since apparently everyone has decided that we can play God, when exactly is it acceptable to kill yourself? 

Maybe you say "Well if you are in pain and suffering then you should be able to decide how you go."

Okay, then I ask you this, does this only pertain to physical pain, or does emotional pain count also?

Maybe your response is "Well if you are a drug addict or alcoholic and kill yourself then you are selfish because addiction is the wrong path to take in life, this girl didn't choose to get cancer."

No she didn't choose cancer, but drug addicts most of time inherit their addictive behaviors from their genetics, or they grew up with a horrible life and suffer intense emotional pain. Who are you to judge?

Here is my point people. If you have ever called a suicide selfish or wrong, but have taken a stand that it isn't wrong this time, then you are a hypocrite. At least be consistent here and say that you no longer think suicide is ever selfish because whether or not the pain be physical or emotional, it is pain and they should be allowed to end it. Fine, I can accept that answer. While I completely disagree with every ounce of it, I can still respect the fact that you aren't a hypocrite. 

There is hope. God created you, he has a plan for you, but he won't force it. If you decide to kill yourself, he isn't going to stop you. He gave you a free will, freely choose Him, freely choose life.


Faith and Finances

They say financial hardship is the biggest strain on a marriage, and after all the junk Dustin and I have been through in this area, I can confidently say that we can make it through anything. In the past five years of our marriage we have had two babies, paid a lawyer for two separate custody cases for Bre, started a business, sold that business, meanwhile maintaining the regular expenses of home ownership, two cars and a boat. We have been very independent during all of this and somehow managed to maintain a good relationship with each other. We have made sacrifices so that I could stay home with our kids and I would not trade the time I have had with them for anything in the world. I would do it a million times over again. 

This past summer all of that financial strain caught up to us. It seemed no matter how much overtime he worked, we could not keep up. We got dangerously behind on our mortgage, and didn't know how to climb our way out of that hole. Thanks to a gracious family member, we were able to borrow the money to catch up on our mortgage, which Dustin is now working off. 

Man, that hurts the pride. Nobody wants to admit defeat and have to borrow money. It was honestly the lowest of lows for us financially. I am thankful now looking back that we are out of that phase and moving into the next WAY better one, which is what I am excited to write about. 

I look around at a lot of people our age with kids, and see that there are a lot of similar problems with finances. Everyone seems to be struggling. This should not be the case, especially for those of us who are believers! The word says,

"And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

"Well I am a believer and my needs are not met, so what is going on?"

Every situation is different, but I think our story will help you write yours. Every promise in the bible is done only according to faith. We spent all this time stressing and worrying and working way harder than we should, only to stay behind. That is not faith! I would have said I believed the word, but my ACTIONS were proving otherwise. Not only that, but we were expecting a harvest that we hadn't planted. 

The first thing we started doing was get consistent in our giving.

It has brought us out of our comfort zone for sure, but you can't expect a harvest when you don't CONSISTENTLY plant seeds. 

"Give, and it will be giveto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running overwill be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

The very first day that we "planted some seeds", we had our AC guy come out to fix our AC and he didn't charge us a penny. We knew from that point on that there was no turning back.

Next, we made a plan!

Our goal is to be completely debt free (including our house) in 10 years or less. Part of that plan is that we will NEVER borrow money again. No credit cards, no family members, nothing. We will be the lender, not the borrower. We are using a debt snowball plan, and lowered as many of our bills as we possibly could, and got rid of the stuff we could live without. Through a literal miracle, my husband traded in his boat (which was broken down) for a brand new one that is being custom built, with a warranty, for a way less interest rate than the last one, without being upside down, and significantly cheaper monthly payments! That was God's favor and blessing in an inexplicable way, that stuff doesn't just happen to people!

God has blessed me in my work. I am able to spend very few hours away from my kids, doing something I absolutely LOVE, with more students than I can even take, really! My dance classes have waiting lists! There is not another job on the planet that could be more perfect for me in this season of life. I am soooo thankful for God's favor. 

I realize now that other than giving, and making a plan that you will stick with, the third and most important key to all of this is trusting. 

Trusting that God meant what He said when he promised to take care of our needs, it is that simple. Just this past month, we had money come to us that we were not expecting, that put food on our table and gas in our car. We have done all that we can, in our power, and we know that God already promised to do the rest. There has been so much freedom in letting go of the worry, and watching how God provides. There is a reason that the bible says "fear not" 365 times, one for every day of the year!

I encourage you to take these steps with us. Give consistently, make a plan (and stick with it) and most importantly, let go so that God can do the rest!! 


Dropping the F Bomb in My Prayers

Yep, you read that title correctly. I indeed drop the F bomb when I pray. Actually, Jesus said to do it so I am only obeying his commands. He said....

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

The F bomb I speak of is forgive. In this chapter Jesus commands us to forgive others, it is not a suggestion. If he died and suffered for us while we were still rotten, dirty sinners, then we would be nothing but hypocrites to hold someone's offenses against them. If we want to be like Jesus, we have to forgive people, even if they are still doing us wrong.

"How do I do this? I don't feel like I forgive this person at all. Actually, they get on my very last nerve, constantly."

We must do it the same way we do anything in our spiritual life, by faith. Just say, "Father, I know my feelings do not line up with what I am about to say, but because you said to do it, I know my feelings will have to follow, I forgive _____. I hold nothing against them, and I give them to you. Help my feelings line up with your will."

"Why is this important?"

Unforgiveness is not something that will hurt the person you are bitter towards, they don't realize they are wrong. Holding a grudge will only hurt you. It will destroy you from the inside out. The bitterness will eventually take over your whole life, ruin all your relationships, and open the door for all kinds of bad stuff to start happening. If you are a Christian, it also makes you a hypocrite because how can we receive God's grace to forgive us our sins if we aren't forgiving others for theirs?

Forgiveness means you put God's word above your own pride. This is something that is very hard to do because we all have "really good reasons" why we are right and the other person is wrong. The reality is that we have to die to ourselves in order to live the life God called us to, and forgiveness is just the beginning of that surrender.

I have learned that when I start feeling angry and unforgiving, I have to stop and just pray it off. I don't even let it take up space in my thoughts. It takes discipline, but the bible says to take every thought captive, and with enough practice, it gets easier and easier.

The result of forgiveness is beautiful. You give God the problem you can't fix yourself, and in exchange you get peace and a quiet mind.

So start dropping those F bombs, y'all!


3 Foods to Never Give Your Kids for School Lunches (and the healthier alternative!)

With school starting for us tomorrow, I wanted to share my sentiments about school lunches. I look at every meal as an opportunity to give my kids something nutritious that will benefit their bodies, not just fill them up. I am shocked that kids these days even survive considering how unhealthy they eat. Here are a few of my horror meals that no person should ever consume, especially a growing child!

1. Lunchables. There is so little actual food in these things that you would literally be better off not eating and sparing yourself from the chemicals, preservatives, and GMO's. Here are the ingredients in the plain old turkey, cheese and cracker lunchable. I have highlighted the harmful ingredients in red:


A good alternative? Roll up some Boar's Head nitrite-free turkey breast and Organic Valley cheese, throw in some Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. Real food, what a concept!

2.Smucker's Uncrustables. I guess this is the processed food industry's idea of a PB&J. Once again, I have highlighted the harmful ingredients which are preservatives, chemicals or GMO's. There is so little food, and so much poison that once again they would be better off skipping a meal.


A good alternative? Almond butter and organic jelly sandwich on Ezekial Sprouted Grain bread! So easy and super healthy! Ezekial bread can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store.

3.Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. New York times did an article on Kraft mac and cheese and there are two warnings that every parent should be aware of before they feed this to their child:

Warning #1: This Product May Cause Adverse Effects On Activity And Attention In Children (This warning label is required because The US version of Kraft Mac & Cheese has artificial food dyes yellow #5 and yellow #6 which are proven to be linked to hyperactivity in children.)
Warning #2: GMO Declaration: Made from genetically modified wheat. (May contain GMO) (This warning label is required because the US version of Kraft Mac & Cheese contains GMOs.)
A good alternative? Annie's makes a large variety of macaroni and cheese for only a few cents more. You will completely avoid the GMO's and food dyes by going this route.
Some other healthy lunch options:
A small salad with dressing on the side
Left overs! I often cook extra the night before so I can send the left overs in a thermos
Amy's Organic Spinach Pizza-- Bre loves this pizza and its good at room temp if there is no microwave. 
Carrots or cucumbers and dip, string cheese and crackers.
Peanut butter and raw honey sandwiches
Fresh berries, organic yogurt, granola
Breakfast for lunch! Cut up some pancakes and send a side of Grade B pure maple syrup
Organic chicken noodle soup in a thermos with a side of crackers
What about you, moms? What healthy lunches do you pack for your little ones at school?

It Is Okay to be a Size 0

I read a beautiful article the other day about how we should talk to our daughters about their bodies. The message was simple, don't talk about it. Don't let their body define who they are or how they see others. I loved it. The focus should be on being healthy, not on looking a certain way. There is such a big movement of women trying to send the message that it doesn't matter what size you are, and if you are overweight it is okay, often even applauded. I have to rant here, so I apologize in advance. 

I read an article today, in a popular magazine, about a clothing company who is adding a size XXXS to their line. The writer was disgusted and angry that they would dare have such a ridiculous size available. Seriously? You are mad because there was a demand for smaller sizes? Up in arms because there are small people who would like to buy clothes!? How dare they!!

Come on people. I have always been a small person, yes I even wear a size 0, and I am sick of people trying to make me feel bad about it. I grew up constantly being told I was "skinny." After hearing it all the time, I began to think that there was something wrong with me and I needed to gain weight in order to be "normal." It gave me an awareness of my body that I didn't need at that young of an age. I certainly don't want my daughters to have to worry about all that. I want them to focus on the inside, and the outside will flourish as a result.

Discriminating against a body size, big or small.... is wrong. 

Ladies, love your body by taking care of it, eating healthy and exercising. Please, let's stop with the discrimination....on both sides. 


What Every Teacher Wishes They Could Say to Parents

With a new school year quickly approaching, I wanted to share some things that I believe every teacher would want a parent to know. So often there is a parent vs. teacher mentality that is unproductive and frustrating for both sides. Here is a little perspective from the teacher side of the fence.....

Dear Parent,

Lovely to meet you, thank you for trusting me with your child. I am so excited for this new year, but also just as nervous as your little (or not so little) one. As we begin this journey through the year, you should know a little bit about me. It takes more than just a quick visit at Open House to know what is most important.

I want you to know that I spend lots of time thinking of ways I can teach your child a new thing. I lay in bed at night trying to come up with ideas that will make them laugh. I research the best ways to impact your child for the rest of their life. This is not just my job, it's my passion. I often wonder if I am truly making a difference in these little lives. Will they remember me as one of their favorite teachers? Will they love the subject I teach them more than anything else? Nothing is more rewarding than seeing them change and progress over the course of the year. It makes me so proud of what I do.

I want to make you happy, parent. Your approval means the world to me. I want you to be blown away at how much your child has changed this year. In a year, five or even ten years I want to hear all about how they are doing. I want you to know how much I care. I love your child, and I want them to love me too. If I had to, I would give my life for them, as many teachers have in the past.

I wish you would tell me when you think I am doing a good job, and not just leave communication for issues that arise. I see you over there chatting with the other parents, I wonder what you are saying? Are you talking about all the things you love about me, or are you complaining that it isn't good enough?

I hope you know that I will always do my very best. There will be times I fail, and I ask for your grace to forgive me. I only want the best. Lets work together, not against each other.

Here is to a great new school year!


Greater Love

The other day I read an article focusing on the idea that people who take a bunch of "selfies" actually have some sort of mental disorder. I don't know if there is any truth to that, but one definite truth is the fact that people in our society are becoming increasingly more self centered and narcissistic. Taking selfies constantly is just a symptom of that, not the problem.

People are so obsessed with themselves, but instead of becoming obsessed with making themselves better spiritually, and emotionally they get stuck on the physical and blame everyone else when their life is falling apart.  While we can't control other people, and we can't control bad things happening, we CAN control our reactions to those things. If you let your emotions run your life, you will always be a victim. Are you spending more time improving your physical body and taking selfies, than you are on your spiritual and emotional health? If so, you probably often feel defeated and sad. 

God created us with a need for love. If you are a human being you need to be loved, but the ultimate love can only come from getting to know Him. Most people don't know how much God loves them so instead of seeking Him, they turn to other things to fill up that spot. Drugs, alcohol and the need for lots of "likes" on their selfies, are just a few of those ways. The "Jesus love you" saying is something we all have gotten used to hearing, but it does not impact very many people, because they don't understand it. 

There is not much better of a sound than hearing your child laugh uncontrollably. I love hearing the hard, belly laughs of my kids, and even my husband. I love hearing the people I love, laugh. That is how God feels about you. He loves it when you laugh uncontrollably. He doesn't care if you have done all the worst things a human can do, He doesn't care if you have never entered a church in your whole life. He doesn't care if you know nothing about the bible or have ever read a single bible verse.You could be the best Christian around or an Atheist, it doesn't matter. His love won't ever change for you, no matter what you do or don't do. He died for you. 

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."
John 15:13

What would happen if we replaced the time that we spent working on our physical bodies, and spent half that time learning how much God loves us? I challenge you to give it a try, it will change your life :)

Why I quit my "real job" for the "mom job" (and you should too!)

Becoming a mom is the most life changing experience any woman can go through. You find out things about yourself that you never knew. We all have a different story, a different experience, different opinions, and different situations, but the one consistent thing is the desire to give our children the best. This is my story, and why staying home with my children was the best decision I ever made.

When Dustin and I met, I had a very well paying job with room for growth, my own apartment, no credit card debt and a great credit score. I enjoyed my freedom and independence, but I always knew that I would want to raise my own kids, and not send them to daycare. After we got married, and got knocked up with baby number one, Dustin and I both agreed that it would be best for me to stay home with the baby. I made more money than he did, so this was a big deal, people!

The first year was hard. Lots of sacrifices, some credit card debt, and a big adjustment to our lifestyle. I often hear women say "I can't afford to quit my job, we wouldn't be able to pay our bills." I am a living testament that you can do it. If you have one income, that is enough. We have never lost a car, our home, or not been able to feed our children. Yes, my credit score suffered on some default credit card payments.Yes, there were (and still are) months that really test my faith, but I will pick my kid over the money any day of the week.

 Let's break down the hours in the work day to get some perspective.

Let's say you get 7 hours of sleep (haha, I don't even remember what 7 solid hours feels like)
Work including commute/dropping off and picking up from daycare, 9 hours (I am being generous here because I think it is prob more like 10 or 11)
Getting yourself and children ready, 2 hours
Preparing and eating meals, 2 hours

That is 20 hours when you add it all up.

Children go to bed several hours before their parents (usually) so after it is all said and done you get to spend 2 hours a day with your child.

There are 120 hours in a work week and you are spending 10 of those hours with that little person who might not be able to express it in words, but wants to spend all 120 with you. It breaks my heart.

I am not trying to condemn anyone, but I want to tell you that you are missing out. Missing a lot of firsts, and a lot of lasts. The worst part is that not only are you missing out, but your child is missing out. Their loss is worse than yours. There is nothing more that a child wants than your time. Nothing. You can make lots of money at your job, trying to "better their future" but it is a waste. The best investment you can make in their future is your time. They just want you. They need you. No day care worker, parent or friend can love and take care of them like you can.

I am not trying to say that if you have children you should not work. I have a part time job. Very part time, about 5 hours a week, but my home is the first priority, and if it suffers, I would quit in a heart beat. My husband stays with the kids, and if he is on shift my mom will watch them (thanks Mom!) I think it is important to have an outlet, and a career is great, but I can guarantee you that when I am breathing my last breath I will not have any regrets about putting a career on hold to raise my children.

I will not regret spending my mornings drinking coffee trying to have a moment of sanity while they destroy my living room. I will not regret the funny, silly conversations in the car. I will not regret being home for them when they get back from school. I will not regret seeing all their "firsts" and the millions of pictures I have snapped on my phone. I will not remember the financial sacrifices, and I will not regret a short season of a bad credit score. You only get one chance to mold them into the person they will be the rest of their lives, don't waste it.

I have had people tell me "You are so lucky you get to stay at home with your kids." I will tell you that luck has nothing to do with it. All it took was decision and determination to make it work. I wear it as a badge of honor that I work hard for, no luck involved.

There will be a time when the kids are gone, and I will have all the time in the world for a career and it will be wonderful! For now they need me, and because of that, there is nowhere else I would rather be <3


10 Outings for Kids Under $5!

As a stay at home mom on a budget, there are not very many options for getting the kids out of the house without spending a bunch of money! I am also not the type of person who can sit in the house all day long. I try to get out with the kids at least once a day, even if its just a quick outing. I have had to get creative finding inexpensive ways to get out, without blowing up the bank account. Here are some ideas for you to try that won't hurt your wallet!

1. Frozen Yogurt! I am not big on sugar for my kids, so this outing is a special treat, and since you pay by the ounce, I always spend less than $5 because they certainly aren't going to fill up those big cups! If you have one that you can walk to, even better! Makes the outing last longer and gives everyone some exercise!

2. Coffee date! The drink I get at Starbucks(doppio espresso over ice with 2 pumps white mocha mmmm) is only $2.71 including tax, add a couple cake pops for the kids and you are right at your $5 mark!

3. Dollar store craft day! When we want to get our creative juices flowing, I will go look at my crafty pinterest boards, and make a trip to the dollar store! I make sure to find crafts that are 5 "ingredients" or less and not only does it get you out, but gives them something to do when you get home!

4. Story time at the library! Find your local library for a free membership and fun story time! Check out a few books while you are there!

5. Splash pads. We have a splash pad and playground near our house for $2 a kid. This is a great way to have some fun in the sun without worrying about the littler ones drowning!

6. Dollar movie days in the summer! Regal cinemas puts on their dollar movie days during the summer, check out their website for showtimes

7. Farmers Markets. Today we checked out a local Farmers Market that has a petting zoo, food trucks, and live music. They charge $2 a person to get in, but under 3 is free! We had lots of fun! Save some of your grocery money, and shop local and fresh produce while you are there. If you live in the Orlando area here is the website for the one we went to today

8. Visit your local feed store. We have chickens, and when we go to get feed we also make an event out of it and see the animals. They have bunnies, baby chicks, baby ducks, rats, mice, fish and birds. They let the kids hold and pet.

9. Pedicure party! This one is good for those of you with girlie girls! We like to go to the store, pick out a new nail polish and come home to do pedicures! If you are feeling brave, let your little ones give you a pedicure! Simple but fun :)

10. Last but not least, check out your local fire station! We love going to visit daddy at the fire station, but anyone can go! You can call ahead to make sure they are there, then go tour the fire truck and station!

Tell me, what are your favorite budget friendly outings? I would love to hear from you!!!


Why I don't deserve a Mother's Day

Being a mom does not deserve an award. It doesn't even deserve a special day. Being a mom is enough of a privilege in itself. A privilege many women never get to experience. Instead, I want to recognize another group of women. The woman who tried for years to get pregnant and couldn't. What about the woman who had several miscarriages and no baby? What about the woman who had a still born baby? What about the step mom who gets no recognition in helping raise a child that is not fully her own? What about the foster mom who has to part with a baby after getting attached? What about the single mom struggling to put food on the table? They deserve to be recognized more than I do. My rewards already arrived in the form of  two little humans. That is all I ever needed.

Mother's Day is not a day we should expect to be served, but instead a day we should be thankful. I am so thankful that after being a step mom and then having a miscarriage, that I now have two beautiful babies who are perfect and healthy. Nobody owes me anything for being their mom. I am honored that God blessed me with children, every day is Mother's Day for me, because I have them.

If you, reader, are a person who desires to be a mommy, is a step mommy, foster mom, godmother, spiritual mom, mother of a child who has passed away, single mother, or any other type of nurturer, I want to recognize you. You deserve to have your own day, because the journey is not always easy.

Spread love this Mother's Day. Encourage, uplift and recognize those women around you who are not traditional "mothers".... because they need it more than anyone.

And to the more traditional mommies of the world, be proud and thankful. After all, we have the hardest but best job ever.


3 Tips for a Toned Booty in 20 mins!

Exercise and losing weight are a beautiful thing, but if you are anything like me, the first thing to leave along with the pounds is my booty! I started working on my butt and thighs in the last couple months and have had great results, so I wanted to share my tips! Here is what I have been doing....

**** Please note, I am just a mom, sharing what worked for me, this is not medical advice, always consult your doctor. Carry on..****

1. 100 squat and presses. I use 5 lb weights in each hand and just do a regular squat, but when standing up do a press up with your weights. Don't start with 100, you will never make it through all of them without passing out, start 40 and work your way up. This not only gets your butt and thighs, but also makes sculpted shoulders.
2. I do this video, it is only about 12 minutes and is very well rounded (no pun intended, hehe)

3. Don't forget cardio! You won't be able to see all your nice, new sculpted muscles, if there is a bunch of fat laying on top! All you need is about 30 mins, 4-5 times a week.

Not Meant to be Tamed

In the last almost 5 years that Dustin and I have been married, I can count on less than one hand the amount of fights we have gotten into. Ask anyone who knows us well, they will tell you. We have never gone to bed angry, and while we might have disagreements from time to time, we always resolve them very quickly way before they escalate to a fight. Ok, ok well actually we do fight, A LOT..... Play fighting of course, it is a lot more fun than real fighting, hehe. Anyway.... why do we get along so well? It is because we don't try to control each other!! Very simple, but very eye opening, and letting go could save your marriage!

When God created human beings he gave us a free will. We are not made to be controlled by anyone, not even Him. The only person we need to control is ourselves.

A lot of couples could save their marriages if they realized this one thing. You can't control your spouse! God did not create them to be controlled, and that includes using manipulation. Manipulation is a form of control, because it uses tactics to force someone to do something you want them to do. This usually comes as some form of "punishment" for not getting what you want. For example, "I am just not going to talk to him" or "He is not sleeping in the bed until..." or "I am not going to have sex if he is not going to..." I could go on all day with examples, but I think you get my point. If you are doing any of those things, I would encourage you to stop because God cannot be involved in helping your marriage if you try to control your man. 

God knew when He created us that we would grow to resent Him and be angry with Him if he controlled us, and since He loves us, He wants us to FREELY choose Him!

Let your spouse freely choose you. I have done this with Dustin and he chooses me over everyone. TOGETHER we are able to have conversations about anything, we got baptized last Sunday TOGETHER, and we don't make any major decisions about our kids without EACH OTHER! If you love someone, let them go, right?? No! You should never trap them in the first place! Let them choose to be there. Pray for them instead of controlling them, and watch how your relationship grows!


Life as a Firefighter's Wife: Finding Consistency in the Chaos

The lifestyle of being a firefighters wife, with two little kids, a part time teaching gig, and a step daughter who is home every other week, is similar to the feeling of living out of a suitcase. I can't even begin to discuss the logistical chaos that my day to day life entails.

I was feeling overwhelmed tonight as I finished my last load of dishes at 10pm, after a long day of non-stop crazy. I thought about it and quickly realized my life is nothing like most people's. I sometimes envy wives who get to spend every night with their husband, and have their help with the kids. I wonder what it is like to have your husband sleeping beside you every night. Being a firefighters wife sometimes feels like being a single mom. I knew when I married this man that his profession would keep him away every third night, I also knew that by marrying him I was also marrying his little girl. Crazy schedules are all we have to work with around here. Fast forward some years, and a couple kids later and I now find myself trying to figure out how to cope with a lifestyle that is anything but normal.

I like routine. I like order and organization. I like consistency. I think all of us thrive when we have all of these things. So how do you thrive when you don't have all of these things? Well I can tell you that this life is not for everyone. Marriage is hard enough on it's own! Dustin and I have come up with a few things to do that keep our life consistent, even in the chaos.

1. Regularly scheduled date nights. It is not a luxury around here, it is a necessity. I have had a lot of friends tell me they can't afford to do date nights. That is only because it isn't a priority to them. We budget money for date nights and if the money isn't there, we find creative ways to get out, and spend less. Last night we went and played pool and darts. I think we spent a total of $30. If you want to keep your marriage happy, you have to be consistent about dating your spouse.

2. Dinnertime. We eat a meal I have cooked, at the table, together as a family. This may seem simple, but in our crazy society of constantly being on the go, many people don't even cook! It is very important to Dustin and me that our kids eat healthy, and also that we have that time together at the end of our day. So many problems in families could be fixed if they just ate dinner together.

2. Bedtime. We are very consistent about bedtime. Our kids are in bed by 8:30 on a regular basis. We have started the routine of reading them a couple stories from the bible every night before bed. We do this together as a family, and not only do they learn something important, but we get the quality time with them.

3. Chores. The girls both have a list of tasks they are supposed to accomplish every day. They have become routine for them, and most of the time I don't even have to ask them to get it done! This teaches them responsibility and their role in the family, and also helps with tasks around the house!

These are just a few ideas, I certainly hope to add many more things to help create a stable and consistent environment in our home. I would love to hear from you! Any firefighter's wives out there? Give me your ideas!

Stop drinking chemicals: 2 Ways to Filter Your Water on a Budget

We all know by now that the food we eat directly effects our health but is diet everything? Nope. Diet is a HUGE part of being healthy, but what most people don't realize is that when you put something on your skin, it goes right into your bloodstream! Think about the products you apply to your body every day. What about your kids? The lotions, sunscreens, shampoo, etc... All of those ingredients enter their developing bodies. Many of those ingredients are known carcinogens.

Aside from personal care products, think about the water they are drinking and bathing in. Most cities dump all kinds of stuff into the water in order to make it "safe" when in fact those chemicals are harmful to your health. If you are on a budget like we are, chances are you can't go spend thousands on a fancy filtration system. Instead, here are two things you can do to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals in city water.

1. Neutralize bath water and add stuff that will be beneficial for the skin to absorb. City water is full of chlorine, and many of us are mineral deficient. An easy solution to both of these problems is to make a bath salt mixture with epsom salts and lots of citrus essential oils. Dump at least a cup in the kids bath and let it sit for a couple minutes before you put them in. Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar, and bentonite clay are also great for your skin and make wonderful additives in a bath. If you can't afford a fancy filtration system, give this a try!

2. Drink properly filtered water. My first choice for drinking water filtration would be a Berkey water filter, but the budget is not allowing that just yet. After lots of research, the best filter I could find, at an affordable cost, was a Tapmaster Jr F2. It filters almost all the chemicals, and about 93% of the fluoride. I got ours on Amazon for $99 and the replacement filters are $29.95 every 3 months. 

By following these two guidelines you will eliminate most of the harmful chemicals in the water from entering your children's bodies! 

I would love to hear from you! What kind of water filtration systems work best for you?

Oh Darlings, don't you ever grow up

It is days like today that I never ever want to forget. There are days when I feel like I have absolutely lost my mind and am the worst mom in the history of moms. Then there are days like today that I just love every second of mommyhood.

I hope I never forget how excited Hazel was to put on her new ballet leotard, and take her first ballet class, with mommy as her teacher, of course. How hard she tried to do her spins perfectly, and how happy she was that she learned to plie. How she requested beans and rice for dinner, then fell asleep on the couch. Nothing life changing happened today, but I have absolutely everything that anyone could ever hope for. A healthy little girl who lights up my whole world.

Then there is the boy. I don't ever want to forget how he came speed walking up to me with stretched out arms when I came to pick him up. He was so happy to see me, and as soon as I got there he was pointing at snacks saying "this." I hope I never forget how much he likes food and snacks. How he already goes in the snack cabinet and picks out what he wants. How he scrunches his little nose when he is whining or trying to be cute. I can't imagine life without that little fat fat.

Today is gone, tomorrow they will be a little older, and a little closer to being big kids who no longer want mommy to "hold you." I want to soak up every second. I want them to remember a happy mom who spent time playing with them, holding them, snuggling them, dancing with them, laughing with them, and mostly loving them.

Lord, please help me be the mom you want me to be. I don't want to waste a single day. Amen.

When natural parenting has gone too far....

If you look in my kitchen cabinets right now you will find that about 90% of my stuff is organic. Once you start learning how much our food is contaminated there is no turning back. I literally cannot bring myself to buy things that I once enjoyed eating. A lot of people think we are crazy. When I say "we" I mean all the crunchy moms of the world who would be horrified if they saw their kid eating McDonalds or a hot dog. The problem is that once you have woken up to the reality of what has happened to the food supply in this country it is easy to become fearful. Fear is never good motivation for doing anything, especially when raising your kids.

I have realized that even if you don't vaccinate your kids, feed them all organic food, cloth diaper, and breast feed, there are still many ways that they are exposed to chemicals and toxins outside of your control. It is easy to become so caught up in the natural and organic world that it becomes an unhealthy obsession. For example, if you can't go to someones house for dinner because you are worried they won't cook a healthy meal, you might have a problem. If you can't go out to dinner once in a while because all the ingredients on the menu are not certified organic, gluten, soy, and dairy free, you might have a problem. You laugh, but I actually know people like this! This is a life of fear, and while we do our absolute best at home, we are not going to let our health choices prevent us from enjoying life.

With that said, I am still astonished how willfully ignorant many people still are about nutrition. Food decides whether you are healthy or not. Disease and cancer feed off sugar, processed foods and GMOs. The science is there to prove it! 

God gave you one body. Just one. Be responsible, not fearful.


Social media, TV, and Complaining? Take your time back!

Every day should be intentional. Every conversation should be intentional. When you wake up in the morning, you should do so with purpose. Make life happen, don't let it just happen to you.

I know we all have days that we get up and just go through the motions, but what if we paid more attention to what we spend our time doing? Over the last few weeks I have been picking apart my days to see where I put my time. I was shocked how much time I was wasting doing things that in no way improved my life or the lives of my husband or children. Instead of spending quality time with my hubby, I was busy on Facebook, instead of cleaning my house I was watching The Bachelor, or instead of speaking positive words, I was complaining. Yikes, I don't have it as together as I thought I did!

Social media isn't bad, but if it is replacing actual human interaction then you might need to cut back...Enough said.

I am not much of a TV person, but in the past my guilty pleasure was watching The Bachelor. I knew it was a waste of brain cells and time, but I did it anyway.After realizing I was wasting 2 hours a week watching something that was not adding value to my life, but was actually just filling my mind with garbage, I decided to stop watching My husband was not sad about that choice either, let me tell you. Basically, if your kids couldn't sit there and watch it with you, you probably shouldn't watch it at all. That might sound extreme, but it really isn't hard. There are lots of interesting shows that are not promoting the degradation of our society, just give it a shot.

Do you consider yourself to be a positive person? Do you see the good in people or situations or are you constantly focused on the negative? I believe negative people need to have something to complain about. They will look at people or situations and pick them apart until they can find something negative, and with enough research you can find negatives in everything. Let me just set you free right now with this challenge. Stop. Just stop. Be intentional about it. When you have conversations, don't complain. Even if you have the best reason ever, just don't. I challenge you to go a week intentionally thinking about everything you are saying. While you may be tempted to whine just a little, don't give in!! I guarantee it will change your life! I understand we all need to vent once in a while, but if you are not sincerely looking for a solution, then even venting is a waste of time. The bible constantly talks about words and how they are life and death. Speak life. Complaining is not life. Complaining is self centered. Every person on the planet has things they could complain about, it doesn't make you special. Every time you feel the need to complain or vent, speak something positive. Give a stranger a compliment, tell your kids how much you love them, encourage your husband and thank him for being such a great provider. Whatever you need to do. I promise you, these words will change your life!

As I go through my days being more intentional I am finding myself to be much more productive, and I have also cleared the way for God to do some exciting things in my life and heart. I challenge you, take control of your life and don't give back the reigns!

4 date night ideas to bring passion back into your marriage!

Dustin and I are going to celebrate 5 years married this year, I can't believe it has already been that long! Time flies when you have a sleep over with your best friend every night!

In our years together we have already seen friends and family members get married, then divorced. It is a bummer. One of the things that contributes to our marital bliss is DATE NIGHT! We love all of our children dearly, but if we don't have a solid relationship with each other, we cannot be the parents we are supposed to be. God first, then each other, then our kids.

I know some mommies and daddies who have kids, and that becomes their entire life. Don't get me wrong, I live for those littles, and I spend the majority of my time with them, but their daddy comes first. He is my other half, my kids will eventually grow up and leave me (tear) and we will be left with just each other!

Getting out and having fun without kids is key to staying connected and keeping the passion alive. Dustin and I like going out to dinner, but dinner is not always FUN, you need to have fun with your spouse. Do you remember what made you fall in love with him? One of the main things I loved about Dustin was that he liked to do stuff, not just sit around and do nothing all day. Here are some ideas to help bring the passion back into your marriage:

1. Get competitive. There is something fun and flirtatious about talking a big game to your significant other. Bring that good tension back into your marriage! We have been paint balling, bowling, putt putting, go carting, and a bunch of other competitive stuff. I destroy him in putt putt by the way, and I don't let him forget it.

2. Get out of town. Yep. Even if its just for a few hours! It is amazing what happens when you roll down the windows, turn up the music and leave all your troubles back home. One of the best nights Dustin and I had was on our anniversary this past year. We drove to the coast with hardly any money, had a couple drinks, listened to a band, walked the beach, and had the best time ever. We both left feeling refreshed and happy. A night neither of us will ever forget.

3. Try new things. Just because you might have a favorite restaurant doesn't mean you should always go there. You go on a date night to get away from routine, not to get stuck in a new one! Try new restaurants, check out new little towns, go somewhere you haven't been since you started dating. It will help you remember all the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

4. Plan it. I hate to tell you this ladies, but if you don't plan it he probably won't either. Dustin plans it out sometimes, but usually I have to tell him to get me out of this little nuthouse we have created :) The sooner you realize this, the less frustrated you will be. Men are usually not planners.

A lot of marriages could be fixed by date nights. We try to go once a week, but usually it is more realistic for us to go every other week. Make it a priority before your marriage is beyond repair. Don't you want to be one of those cute little old couples holding hands? I do!

What are some of your favorite date nights?


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