His Word, Kids/Parenting

5 Fun Ways to Spend A Weekend

If you had told me when I was in my 20’s that I was going to spend my Friday nights in bed before 9:00, waking early on Saturdays and Sundays, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.

But it’s true. Here are five ways I spent my weekend which were the most fun I have had…well, since the weekend before.

1–I knew our weekend was going to be crazy busy, so I wanted to sit down and enjoy a meal with my two favorite people. BUT, I didn’t want to cook, busy mama’s you feel me, right? So, we went to one of Elijah’s new favorite places — Cheddar’s. He LOVES the chicken breast on their kids menu. I’ve tasted it before, it IS pretty phenomenal. Emma ordered…wait for it…MAC & CHEESE! I know, I know, this really surprises some of you. All too often, when we are rushing from one activity or another, we don’t get the time to sit and just enjoy one another’s presence. This was a huge gift to me. (And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. Acts 2:46)

2–When we got home Friday night, after our early dinner (seriously, we were done before 5…we were out with the ‘Early Birds’!!), Emma wanted to watch some Netflix and relax. So, she did just that. She sat with her headphones on and the iPad in front of her, and watched 4-5 episodes of one her favorite shows, Liv & Maddie. While she was doing that, I assumed Elijah would want to watch Netflix too. Or play a video game. Or build his Legos. Instead, he comes to me and says to me, in the sweetest voice, “Momma Jo, I wanna play a game with JUST you and me.” So I let him pick out the game and we played. Then we finished and I thought his ‘love bank’ would be full and that he would be ready to do something on his own. (And that I might be able to read.) But, in his super sweet voice he says that he wants to play ANOTHER game. So I again let him choose what game he wanted to play. He chose Pictionary.

Now, I will be the FIRST to tell you that I do NOT have an artistic bone in my body. That gene went to Emma. No matter. If my son wants to play Pictionary, then Pictionary it will be! We had so many wonderful laughs during this time. This time with him was quality bonding at it’s best. During our game, I asked him what his favorite part of his day was. This is something we do often; discuss ‘highs and lows.’ He looked at me and said, “Probably right now, Momma.” I stopped what I was doing and looked at him and said, “Really?”. And he confirmed that right there, at that time, spending time with him, loving on him, filling his love bank, connecting with him…that was the best part of his day. And my heart grew three sizes! (Behold, children are a heritage from the Lordthe fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3)

3 & 4–The third and fourth ways I had tons of fun this weekend was shuttling my kiddos to and from their Saturday activities. As I’m typing this, Emma is participating in her first ever Science Olympiad regional meet. I had to have her on Purdue’s campus at 7:00 in the morning. WOWZA! That wasn’t too early for me, but I had to get the kiddos up about an hour earlier than normal. This would normally be too much for both of them, but it turned out to be pretty exciting.

Emma 0.5 is all ready for her first event!

While they waited for their events, most of the kids had fun playing UNO to pass the time.

Wainwright Middle School 2017 Science Olympiad Team

Before Emma’s first event, I had to leave to take Elijah to his Impact basketball game. This boy loves to play ball — baseball, basketball, football — it doesn’t matter! He loves them all! I’ve told him so many times before, I love to watch him play. I love to see the concentration on his face. I love to see him be respectful of, and be obedient to, other adults. I love to see the sheer joy on his face when he makes a great play. He is so passionate about sports. As long as he’s passionate, I’ll support and encourage him.

Elijah dribbling down the court as point guard

Unfortunately, his team didn’t win. But he had fun, nonetheless.

After his game, I made my way back to campus to Emma’s SO meet. She was just finishing up her first event. We got to sit and eat lunch while she told me all about her event. Then we waited and played cards and talked while the other students finished up their events. The awards ceremony started late because they ran late with an event. So, it was pretty late by the time we got home. My girl was so disappointed because she didn’t win a medal. She takes things like that pretty hard. She is my mini-me, for sure!

When we got home, I pulled out some essential oils to help relax her muscles, I made her some hot tea, and just pampered her. It was a long day, for sure! I was so grateful for the time with her.

5–Sunday, it was just me and my girl. We did a lot of ‘girl’ things. We browsed for a piece of furniture at a couple of local antique shops. We ate lunch and enjoyed our surroundings. We book browsed and bought at Barnes & Noble. We watched a movie. We did laundry together. We did the grocery shopping for a week.

I have to say that I’ve read the words of mothers who came before me, saying the pre-teen/teen years are the best because the kids are just so eager to please. It’s true. Both of my kids are such fantastic people and I truly enjoy their company. This was another awesome weekend in the books!

What do you do for fun on your weekends? I know we don’t all share the same interests…so tell me what you enjoy!

His Word, Kids/Parenting

God’s Timing

I’m sitting by my toasty fireplace, unwinding from the day.  It’s relaxing and peaceful to hear the flames flicker and watch them dance around (even if they are gas…). I would like to share with you some things I’ve learned today about God’s timing…

See, His timing is perfect. HIS timing…not mine…not yours…not your uncle’s sister’s daughter’s dad’s. Only God’s timing is perfect.

I started my day with plenty on my ‘To-Do’ list. I had to drop off my son, drop off my daughter, get to the grocery store, meet a guy from the fireplace company at my house, and I really , REALLY wanted to get my Christmas tree down.

Things took a slight turn when I ended up on the phone with my cousin. She is genuine salt-of-the-earth people. She knows I’ve been going through a really tough time lately. I mean, the past 2 1/2 months have been stressful in and of themselves with some circumstances…then you throw the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the mix and WOAH!! I’m feeling like a rest and reprieve are in order.

Any who…we chatted for 1 hour and 27 minutes. (I just checked my phone log.) During that entire 1 hour and 27 minute phone conversation, there was no radio silence…NONE. She is the kinda gal that I can go months without talking to and then pick up like no time has passed. So, I was running slightly behind my ‘scheduled departure time’ because of the amazing conversation.

I was concerned I would be late for my first appointment. Turns out, I was just 2 minutes early! Score! From there, Emma and I had to make 3 quick stops. One of them was to our house to get a few things for her appointment.

As I was traveling, I let my mind wander. I tend to do that. I was inwardly yelling at myself, thinking, ‘if you had just taken an extra 5 minutes before you left the house the first time, you wouldn’t have to go back again. you’re so irresponsible. why can’t you just get. it. together?!?!’

What? Doesn’t everyone mentally berate themselves from time-to-time? I do; more often than I should.

So, we made our three stops and I dropped her off. It was 11:45. I had exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes to make it to the grocery store and then back home by 1:00 to meet the fireplace people. I thought to myself, I can DO this!

I get to the grocery store, Aldi’s – where I do most of my shopping, and of course it’s PACKED! Go figure, right?

In case you don’t have an Aldi’s near you or you’ve never been, let me explain a few things for you about how they operate.

First, you pay a quarter to ‘rent’ the cart. You go to the little cart corral, put your quarter in, and voila! You have a cart! You get the quarter back once you have loaded your groceries in your vehicle and return the cart. It prevents them from having to pay for cart boys, thereby saving YOU, the consumer, money!

Second, the store has a clear outline of how you are to proceed through the store. Once you start, you’re really bucking the entire system if you have to go back to any prior rows for anything. Because then you are going against the grain.

Third, the cashiers are ON POINT! They can really move those items across the scanner. The other thing that helps this is that there are multiple UPC bars on every item. That way, it doesn’t have to be only one place that your item can be scanned. (As a side note, I really wish EVERY product manufacturer would use this method. Anyone else stand at the self-checkout wanting to SCREAM because it just. won’t. scan. your. item? No? I’m the only one? Ok….) So, they quickly scan and put your items in your cart.

Fourth, from there, you take your items to a place on their 80′ counter and bag them yourself. Again, this helps keep costs down, because they’re not paying someone to bag their groceries. Also, lest I forget, you have to bring your OWN bags to Aldi’s. ‘Cause they don’t provide them for free. You can buy them, of course. But it works better if you simply plan ahead and bring them. (Another side note, I’m not always the best at this, so I do have some Aldi paper grocery sacks which are a whopping 6 cents.)

Ok, now that I have it set up for you…

I’m in the grocery store, which is crammed with people. I get what I need and head to the checkouts. Behind me in line, there is one lady who doesn’t have many items. I don’t pay much attention to those in line behind her, until after I begin bagging my groceries.

Normally when I bag my groceries, I go to the counter way down by the doors. They’re usually less crowded because the cash registers aren’t feeding into their area. Today; however, I chose to go to the counter directly across from the register where I checked out.

While I’m loading my bags into my cart, I hear a woman in line behind a man and his two sons who are standing at the checkout, waiting to pay. She apologizes to the cashier because the older son of the man’s, who is around 12-13, had gone to get her a head of lettuce. He had the form of payment and wasn’t back by the time they were ready to pay and leave, which was holding up progress. And one thing those Aldi’s cashiers really dislike is someone holding up progress.

I happen to look over just as the older boy is coming back with a head of lettuce for the nice lady in line behind he and his dad and brother. He comes to the cashier and I hear his dad say, ‘How much is on there?’ I realize they are paying with an EBT (food stamp) card. I glance up and their total is $12 and change. I look in their cart and they have a pound of bacon, a gallon of milk, three boxes of cereal and a 12 pack of orange soda.

The boy scans the card, and there is $9.98 remaining. I begin to walk away.

I hear the cashier say, “Ok, what do you want to put back?”

At which point, God told me to go back and pay the difference so they could have their groceries.

I walked back and I told the cashier, as quietly as I could, that I would cover the difference.

The difference was $2 and some change.

The man and his two sons each thanked me, at least once. I acknowledged their thanks and told them they were welcome, and that I wanted them to bless someone else.

Here is my point in all of this. I don’t share this with you for any accolades whatsoever. I simply share this with you because if at any point in my morning, there was a minute added or shaved off of my ‘schedule,’ I would not have been at that God-appointed location at the God-appointed time to be the hands and feet of Jesus and share my meager $2 with this man and his sons.

So many times, I think we get caught up in doing something BIG for God…or doing something really worthwhile for His kingdom. When every single thing we do for God to be there for someone else IS big and worthwhile to Him.

For the amount of money I would have spent on a soda or two, I was able to help these folks get the groceries they came for.

Friends, it’s not about how BIG of a thing we do for God. It’s simply about being available to Him and following His prompting.

I could have easily walked away from this situation; I was already half-way to the door. But God. But God nudged my heart to give. But God reminded me what it was like to be on food stamps and have to budget so tightly to make it work every month. But God reminded me that He blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. But God…

That God of mine is really something. I hope you know Him too.

Book Reviews, Link-Ups

Return of the Continuums – Book Review

I recently finished two books by Jennifer Brody: The Thirteenth Continuum and Return of the Continuums. These are the first two books in a trilogy by this author.

I was given a copy of Return of the Continuums (RC) in exchange for my honest review here. I knew that it was the second in a series of 3 books, so I had to purchase The Thirteenth Continuum (TC) in order to get the full story.

I enjoyed the TC very much. It was suspenseful and had a plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was anxious to start RC, the second book, once I finished the first one.

The author’s characters were full of depth and were well developed in RC. Although there were times I had trouble keeping up with the many characters and their roles, RC is an excellent follow up to TC. It is also engaging without stooping to the level of using sexual scenarios or bad language to ‘sell’ itself.

In the same vein as The Hunger Games series or The Giver, The Continuum Trilogy is a science fiction based story based in a dystopian society. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you will certainly enjoy The Continuum Trilogy of books.

While this is not a light, fluffy read, it will certainly keep you engaged and turning the pages.

I am looking forward to the next book in the trilogy and will definitely read it when it’s released.

His Word, Kids/Parenting

Traveling in Life

Recently, I traveled to French Lick, Indiana with some of my loved ones. When mapping out our journey, I found there were 3 routes to choose from. One was a direct route which was shorter in distance, but longer in time. One was a little bit out of the way with longer distance but shorter time. Then there was one in between – medium time and medium distance.

I chose the shorter, more direct route in distance, but longer in time.

This route took us across the winding countryside – through twists and turns, up hills and down hills, and into valleys. We were able to see the gorgeous fall foliage and scenery.

We saw quite a few horse ranches and just as many single-wide trailers. We saw an expansive open pasture with cows grazing lazily.

More than once, Elijah thought we were lost. Despite having failed me before, I had confidence in my GPS and navigation system.

Our destination was a resort-style water park. It wasn’t even visible from the road. It was perched high upon a hill and surrounded by trees and a long, steep, windy driveway. Once it was within our sight, the kiddos got super excited!

When we got to the water park, we discovered there were 2 tube slides and 2 body slides.

Now, I have no problem doing the tube slides – but the body slides are not my favorite. The kiddos did the body slides and tried to take me into the body slide. Eventually, their pleadings got the better of me and I momentarily abandoned my senses. I agreed to go down what I thought was the lesser of two evils, the yellow slide.

I have no idea what the blue slide is like, but I know the kids really enjoyed it. From experience, I will say the yellow slide was enough for me!

Its zips and zags and twists and turns and the rapid descent with the water in my face was enough for me to be assured that I would NOT be trying the blue slide.

As I was rapidly descending, I began to wish I could go backwards – back up to the top – to change my mind. That got me pondering some paths I’ve gone down in life. Many times, I would begin to travel one way or another and I would wish I hadn’t taken this path. But I couldn’t go back, because I couldn’t follow the path back to the beginning perfectly. I wouldn’t have made it to the same place I started.

The only thing I could do in the slide, as in life many times, is to hold on tightly, close my eyes during the really scary parts, and pray for God’s hand of protection over me.

Kids/Parenting, Link-Ups

Save Money with Groupon Coupons!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

Dear readers, the Christmas season is rapidly approaching, which gets me thinking about gifts, which can bring panic attacks upon my fragile heart.

Do not fret!

Do not fear!

Groupon Coupons are here!

Ok yeah, it was a little cheesy…but seriously…you can find some pretty amazing deals on the Groupon Coupon website.

One thing I do every year, without fail, is make a homemade calendar for my mom. I get 12″ x 12″ scrapbooking paper, measure out the month, and label the days of the week and the dates of the month.

Here's a snapshot of the work in progress!
Here’s a snapshot of the work in progress!

This goes on the bottom page. On the top page, carefully selected pictures make the ‘pretty’ part of the calendar. I started this a few years back, and it was meant to be a ‘one-and-done’ thing, but she was so excited about how the first one turned out, that in about November, she says, “Oh gosh, I can’t wait to see what next year’s calendar is going to look like.” And with that, a tradition was born. As much as I complain about doing this project, it allows my creative side to blossom.

So, Groupon has incredible coupons for Shutterfly. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to be using these coupons when I’m ready to print pictures to put in my momma’s calendar. Free shipping and 100+ free prints?!?! Oh yes! That’s music to my ears!

Other really important gift recipients around the holidays include my kiddos’ teachers and their office staff. I mean, these people typically spend more time with our kiddos than we do during the school year. We really need to reward them for putting up with our rugrats and all of their ‘stuff’ (that will likely cause them to be in therapy in later years, but that’s for another post altogether).

That’s why I’m going to be going to Groupon to use coupons for the Scholastic Teacher Store. I really want to keep these teachers and school administration happy. I want them to like me (and my kids), even if I have to buy their affection 🙂

I mean, after all, look at what they’re working with here:

emma-osmosis    elijah-osmosis

In defense of my kiddos, they really ARE super smart. They’re just super funny sometimes!

Knowing that Christmas will be here in just a few short weeks really gets me motivated to get some shopping done. I know that I’ll be able to find some really great deals with Groupon Coupons. Saving money is one of my #absolutefavorites!

How do YOU use Groupon to save? 

#GrouponCoupons #ad #spon