Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending May 30, 2009


1. Family! While we were in Alabama for Scott's 20th reunion (gasp!), I took the opportunity to visit my sweet Aunt Mollianne for an afternoon. As a bonus, my cousin Annie was at her house also. We had the best time gabbing, drinking coffee, eating yummy carb-laden foods, and sharing life together for a few hours. I am still basking in the glow of those few hours!

2. School's out! Another exciting event ... and we have a FULL summer already planned. But, just the thought that we don't HAVE to be anywhere most days is a wonderful one. (Downside to this is that I am now the parent of a fourth-grader - gasp! again - and wondering where my baby girl went!)

3. Our "country house." We are very fortunate to have a vacation home of sorts in the Shoals. The house we lived in before moving to Georgia belonged to Scott's great-grandmother. His aunt has graciously allowed us to continue to "live" there when we are visiting. It is so very nice to have a place of our own to relax in when we are home in North Alabama.

4. My cell phone. I am very excited right now about my phone because it made the normally unbearable (for all of us!) trip of 9 hours to Alabama much better! My sweet brother Tim taught me how to use it as a modem for my computer so I was able to be online the whole time. I have a data plan on my phone also but it sure was nice to be able to use my laptop for a few hours instead of squinting the whole time on that tiny cell phone screen!!! ;)

5. My new blog! This made a post unto itself on Wednesday but I am so very excited about the gracious and encouraging response to this new adventure! The first series is titled "Finding Jesus in My Messy House." My heart cry is to be Pleasing to God and so to write and share with others how God is working out that desire in my life is a dream come true!! Thank you to all those who have encouraged me - and the few who have pestered me into action.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NEW blog

Over the past few months I have been toying with several ideas for blogging and teaching and writing. I finally bit the bullet and started a new blog dedicated to writing Bible studies, devotions, essays on spiritual formation, etc.

I am really excited about this new endeavor. I have missed teaching a Bible study and am looking forward to adding an in-depth study to the new blog ~ probably in the fall. For now, I have kicked off a series titled "Finding Jesus in my Messy House." Just a look at some of the lessons I've learned about my relationship with God over the years. Amazing how He always uses everything we do to draw us to Him ... if only we are paying attention.

Please visit the new blog ... and leave a comment! Would love to hear ideas and suggestions about potential topics, studies, etc.

Oh, you probably want the link, huh? Pleasing to You is my heart-longing to know Christ and be known by Him. Based on Psalm 19:14, my life verse, which says "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer," my earnest prayer is that the words and messages on this little corner of the world wide web will always bring joy to the Father and be found pleasing to Him, a fragrant aroma and sacrifice of praise.

So, off you go to Pleasing to You ...

Really, check it out here ...

What a difference a year makes ...

Okay, so here are the pics I SHOULD have used for Wordless Wednesday!

A little background ... Scott had weight loss surgery on March 21st of this year. He has lost over 65 pounds as of today (May 27th) and is doing great!!

So, here is a little visual aid ... the picture on top was taken at Jason's graduation from Mercer in May 2008. The bottom one was taken a couple of weeks ago at Judy's graduation from Mercer.

From Scott Weight Loss
From Scott Weight Loss

I am so proud of my husband! He has worked very hard. He still has about 130 pounds to go but HE LOOKS GREAT!!!

Works for Me Wednesday

This is my first post on this meme but I love reading everyone else's so...I thought I'd join the fun!

Maybe I'm the only one who faces this.
Maybe I'm the only one who gets so upset about this.
Maybe I'm the only one who loses her cool completely over this.

But, maybe I'm not!

What is "this"?

Messy kids rooms!!

I get so tired of saying, "Is your room clean?" "Go clean your room." "Have you picked up your room?" etc.

Makes me crazy!! And with summer just around the corner, I am determined NOT to spend time on this every day when we could be enjoying so many other things.

So, I have instituted a new standard for room cleanliness. I actually "stole" the idea from my wonderful Aunt Mollianne.

The standard for Casiday's room is ...

How my room looks at 10 a.m. her room must look at noon.

So, if it's a crazy day and my room is messy - it's okay that hers is too. I think that will help all of us be more conscious of our clutter. And it makes a pretty good rule. So, that's my tip for the week.

Here's to less nagging, fussing, arguing, and whining!! Bring on the summer fun!!!

Wordless Wednesday

This is us! Right after Honors Day this morning.
There truly are no words to experess the love I have for my family.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, so here we go again ... how do Mondays get here so fast? Seems like I just finished writing this blog last week and yet here I sit typing another menu for the week.

Monday - grilled pork chops, pasta salad, grilled corn on the cob, baked beans, fresh strawberries & homemade angel food cake

Tuesday - leftovers (Casiday has dance, I have a meeting, and Scott has quartet practice so we will be eating in shifts.)

Wednesday - baked chicken, parmesan noodles, green beans

Thursday - eat out ... we are leaving as soon as Casiday gets out of dance to head to Muscle Shoals for Scott's 20th reunion.

Friday - A great day! We'll be in Alabama and the Reunion Banquet is at Dale's. So we will be having amazing steaks for dinner that night.

Boy, I can tell we are into summer. In looking at our calendar, it appears that I will not have to plan for more than four or five nights a week of cooking until August. That is crazy but we have a summer filled with so many good things. I am ready to get started! Just three more days of school!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending May 23, 2009

1. Good friends! I had the best time this weekend with some great friends. We spent some time together on Jekyll Island - where, of course, it rained and we couldn’t be on the beach. But we laughed and got “caught up” on each other’s lives. And our girls had a great time together as well.

2. BIBC “Young at Heart” group. The senior adults are our church are just amazing! One of Scott’s responsibilities at BIBC is the Senior Adult Pastor. And without a doubt, that is the best part of his job! Our “old people,” as I always call them (in their presence, of course!), are such fun and genuinely have the sweetest spirits and the kindest servant heart. We are so blessed to have them in our life as a family!

3. Twitter!! I am a huge Twitter fan and I love “following” all the people whose blogs I love to read, celebrities (like Elisabeth Hasselbeck!), and companies with cool products. It is such fun and so easy to keep in touch with friends far away. You can follow me by clicking here.

4. Blogging. Dang, I think I am addicted to this one! I love writing my blogs, reading other blogs, finding new blogs … the whole process!

5. Goals. This week I joined the “101 Goals in 1001 Days” challenge. You can see my list here. I had no idea how hard it would be to come up with that many things I want to accomplish … but I did it!! Yea me! I’m a goal-driven person anyway but it is always helpful to have them written down and even more compelling to have them in public view where people can ask you how you are doing. So, if you’ve checked out my list, feel free to nudge me along the way.

It’s been a great week … I am so thankful to have the countless blessings I have. God has truly been most gracious to me. I’ll close with a verse that has been especially meaningful to me this week ~

For God is working IN you, giving you the DESIRE to obey Him and the POWER to do what pleases Him.
~ Philippians 2:13 (NLT, Emphasis mine)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Type A Personality ~ Yep! Another List!!

Okay, so I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, Three Blondes & a Redhead, and Katie has this little button about 101 in 1001. Intrigued, I clicked on it and it took me to her blog about setting 101 measurable, achievable goals to be accomplished in 1001 days (which is roughly 2-3/4 years). I read her list which you can find here and was fascinated. What a great idea!!

I immediately forwarded the link to Beth (my sister-in-law/co-conspirator in all things online) and told her we should do this. Beth, has not committed yet but she is still in the midst of Spring Cleaning from Simple Mom so I have hopes that she'll join this when she finishes.

Okay, all that aside, it took me almost all day to make a list. I read about 20 other blogs of those who are participating in the 101 in 1001 challenge as well as countless other blogs with New Year's Resolutions and various other "goals" type tags. After randomly "borrowing" ideas from many of them I finally finished my list. Oh and by the way based on my calculations (using my at-times feeble math skills), the 1001 days will end on September 28, 2011.

And here it is ...

1. Finish writing my book ~ "Lessons from the Hundred Acre Woods: Spiritual Truths from Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends."
2. Submit said book to at least five publishers.
3. Start an online Bible study. Yea! Did this beginning in June 09. You can find my study on Philippians at Pleasing to You!
4. Catch up on our BIBC scrapbook.
5. Sort through all the school papers I have saved since Casiday started preschool. That means 6 years worth of papers ~ ugh!!
6. Take a Greek class.
7. Take a Hebrew class.
8. Speak at a women's conference.
9. Make the bed every day for one month.
10. Spend an hour per week in absolute silence for three months.
11. Memorize James 1. (I did this a few years ago and didn't keep it fresh so now I need to do it again.)
12. Watch a sunrise on the beach.
13. Write letters to my grandparents telling them how very much I love them.
14. Plan & take a trip with my amazing sister-in-law Beth (and maybe our girls!).
15. Take a dance class.
16. Try sushi.
17. Teach another class on the Jewish wedding.
18. Teach a class on the Jewish festivals and how they relate to our Christian faith.
19. Complete a 40-day fast using "The Journey to Wholeness & Holiness."
20. Go on a cruise.
21. Buy groceries with a weekly cash allowance for one month.
22. Get 25 comments on a single blog post. 5/22/09 ~~ Okay, Natalie "corrected" me and so I am modifying this to make it a goal rather than a desire. (Thanks, Natalie!!) My GOAL is to write a post that is relevant and meaningful to at least 25 people (who will hopefully leave a comment to that end).
23. Make all Christmas presents for nonfamily.
24. Reconcile with at least one person I have offended.
25. Go a whole week without raising my voice at Casiday.
26. Teach Casiday to make one meal all by herself. Done! She can now make spaghetti by herself!! June 2009
27. Start a journal for me and my niece, Jeffie Jean.
28. Talk to one out-of-town friend per week for one month.
29. Be a guest columnist an at least one other blog.
30. Read through the entire Bible - even Leviticus. :)
31. Take Casiday to the "real" theatre - preferably the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
32. Do a mission trip as a family.
33. Paint my bedroom.
34. Paint Scott's study aka "The Christmas Room."
35. Put out a bird feeder.
36. Develop a plan for the backyard.
37. Have a girls night at least two times a year.
38. Learn to make jewelry.
39. Save an emergency fund of $1000 ~ thanks Dave Ramsey!
40. Pay off credit cards.
41. Drink 32 ounces of water BEFORE drinking anything else ~ even coffee ~ for 21 days straight.
42. Lose 15 pounds.
43. Have a new family portrait made on the beach. May 2009! Thanks, Kathy!
44. Spend a day in downtown Savannah.
45. Visit Charleston for a few days with Scott.
46. Use my golf clubs at least once.
47. Play piano for 30 minutes three times a week for one month.
48. Read 100 books.
49. Develop and stick to a blogging schedule. In process, I have a schedule ... now must stick to it! June 2009
50. Do WiiFit workout four times a week for six months.
51. Get up at 5:30 a.m. daily for 30 days straight for prayer and Bible study.
52. Write letters to Scott's grandmothers.
53. Spend time at Momma & Daddy's when both my brothers are there - and take lots of pictures!
54. Finish my "Pay it Forward" gifts.
55. Learn how to design my blog layout.
56. Order Disney pics and make scrapbook.
57. Get new bedding for our room.
58. Teach Casiday how to put her hair into a ponytail by herself. YAY! June 2009
59. Take off my makeup every night for one month.
60. Floss daily for one month.
61. Compliment Scott about something specific every day for one month.
62. Create a family mission statement and frame it. (Thanks, Katie!!)
63. Write a letter of thanks to both of my parents.
64. Buy all new towels for both bathrooms.
65. Try a new recipe every month.
66. Go to bed by 10 p.m. every day for one week.
67. Get an estimate on repairing front bumper.
68. Speak "Praise Only" for one week.
69. Get eye exam and new glasses.
70. Schedule eye exam for Casiday.
71. Schedule a dental appointment for Casiday.
72. Buy five outfits I love and feel amazing in. In process, I now have two!
73. Watch "Gone with the Wind."
74. Learn to play bass at "hard" level on Guitar Hero World Tour.
75. Buy a flatscreen TV.
76. Get "The West Wing" ~ all seasons ~ on DVD.
77. Submit an article to a magazine.
78. Get a massage at least once a year.
79. Pay cash for everything for one month.
80. Join the Y.
81. Take a cycling class.
82. Go to consignment stores to look for jeans and great black pants.
83. Paint a family plate at Color Me Happy.
84. Start a Christmas Club account at the bank.
85. Do a three-day media fast.
86. Have ice cream for dinner!
87. See an Auburn football game live.
88. Institute Family Night once a month - and make it active! For example, bowling, beach, etc.
89. Go golfing as a family ~ or at least to the driving range.
90. Take a 24-hour prayer retreat by myself. No phone, no computer ~ just my Bible and journal.
91. Encourage Beth to submit one or more of her blogs to a magazine. Seriously, the girl can write!!
92. Go to the firing range. (Just have this bizarre desire to shoot a gun.)
93. Finish the Rudolph quilt.
94. Go to MOSH with Scott & Casiday.
95. Start a meme on my blog.
96. Add a counter to my blog. 5/22/09 Yea me!!
97. Make an encouragement calendar for at least one friend.
98. Put new floors in the kitchen & dining room at the house in Muscle Shoals.
99. Look into do product reviews on my blog.
100. Take a spontaneous road trip so that Casiday can see snow.
101. Go to St. Augustine and spend the day with Scott.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waiting Patiently (or My Argument with God)

Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act...
Psalm 37:7a (NLT)

Waiting. A tough assignment. Perhaps the toughest.

Waiting patiently. PATIENTLY? Really? Seems nigh to impossible sometimes.

Like now.

I love reading the Psalms. Covering the gamut of human emotion and situations, always I find comfort in the words of David and so many others. Knowing that my circumstances and feelings are not unique, that others have faced the same trials and troubles just somehow brings me back to reality. Keeps me from that egotistical idea that what I am facing in this moment is somehow the biggest difficulty ever faced by anyone at anytime in all of history. I need that perspective.

But, right now, the very last word from the Lord that I desired to hear is, "Wait. But don't just tap your foot like you're in a long line at Wal-Mart. Wait patiently."

Can you just hear my argument with the Lord? It generally goes something like this:

Me: Lord, You can't be serious! Wait? Why wait? You see what is happening. You see how it is causing pain and heartache.

God: Yes, I see. I see what you see. But I also see what you cannot see.

Me: Well, could you show me a little of that? Because, God, THIS is too much. THIS is more than I can manage. THIS is overwhelming. THIS is just too hard.

God: (Chuckling) Yes, my dear one, you are right. This is too much for you, more than you can manage, overwhelming to you, and THIS is most assuredly too hard for you.

Me: Are you really laughing at me, God? Because I am serious here. I mean it! I don't know what to do.

God: Oh, my precious child, I am not laughing at you. I am amused that even after all this time of walking with me you still fail to understand that I have never asked you to carry your load alone. I never expect you to bear your burden by yourself. And I have never desired that any situation you face be managed in your strength. My sweet daughter, I am here. Of course you feel overwhelmed and overtaken by this situation. IT IS too much for you. But, child, it is not too much for Me. I have loved walking by your side through all the joys and beauty your life has held thus far. But, know this, it is a greater thrill for me to hold you close during this storm. I take such joy in hiding you while TOGETHER we wait out this storm.

Me: But, God, I don't like the storms. The lightening is so bright and too dangerous. And the thunder scares me ... it's loud and shakes me to the core.

God: I know. But the storms give you something you need. In the lightning that flashes you can learn to see clearly. That brightness CAN be dangerous but it can also protect you. Remember, I am the Light of the World. I do know how the thunder shakes you. But when you are shaking, I am still solid and unmoving. You can trust me. You can wait WITH me. And as we wait together, I will teach you patience.

And so, with more than a little hesitation, I recognize that God is near. Even in the waiting. Maybe especially in the waiting. And as I sit with Him, spend time with Him, learn more about Him, treasure Him, I find that patience comes a little easier, a little more naturally.

And so I wait. Patiently. Even in this current storm, this time of uncertainty and confusion. And I trust that THIS does not overwhelm, surprise, or move my God. I trust Him and I stand on His word:

The LORD saves the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.
The LORD helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in Him.
~ Psalm 37:39 - 40 (NLT)

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week in Food or How Insecure am I??

So, I'm trying to get my menu done for this week and coming up really blank. Casiday & I are going to spend the weekend on Jekyll with some dear friends to celebrate a birthday so it's only Monday - Thursday. One would think that could be done quickly. But no! Apparently, the idea that I am now posting my menus online is creating a mental block for me ... almost like I am worried that my menus won't be up to par (as if others are seriously interested in what I am cooking for my little family and if they are, would be judging the menus for content and style). It's a silly thing but I am really stressed over this. I've been making menus for YEARS! Have months of menus on my Google calendar and yet, for whatever crazy reason, putting menus into my blog (which as an impressive 11 followers! Thank you to each one!!) is totally stressing me out.

All that as preface to say, IF you are reading this and IF you think that my menus are bad and IF you are inclined to post about the poor quality of the meals I prepare for my family - PLEASE DON'T! My all-too-fragile ego can't take the criticism right now. I know we are boring ... and that I fix "veggies" (which sadly does translate to opening a can of some sort) almost every night with very little creativity ... but we eat what I fix and while it may not qualify me for a slot on any of Food Network's Challenges, I do make the effort to cook for my family as many nights a week as possible. So, please, be kind, be gentle, or be quiet!!! :-) ~ Oh & I am really hoping the tone of this is translating well and that everyone can recognize my silliness! ~

Without further adieu ...

Monday ~ vegetable soup (my monthly "free" meal made with the leftovers of our nightly veggies saved in the freezer) & sandwiches

Tuesday ~ hamburger steaks (one of my sweet husband's specialties!) & green beans

Wednesday ~ baked chicken & corn

Thursday ~ leftovers

Friday & Saturday ~ Casiday & I will be on Jekyll Island with our friends. Scott will probably eat some Healthy Choice meals and sandwiches. We'll be snacking & eating dinner out.

Sunday ~ annual Memorial Day bbq at our church ... I'll be serving beside my precious Scott as the staff always takes this opportunity to serve our church members.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending May 16, 2009

Pictures ...

1. "Skinny Scott" who has now lost over 60 pounds!
From Scott Weight Loss

2. Field Day Fun
From Field Day 2009

3. My Judy (aka "Big Casiday") graduated from Mercer
From Judy's Graduation

4. Casiday's room is clean!!!

5. Spring Cleaning is done!! Thanks Simple Mom for the party and encouragement!
From Misc stuff

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring Cleaned the girl's room - and learned some valuable lessons!

This spring cleaning party has been great for me. I'm making such progress and feeling like I'm in control of things in my house. My kitchen and living room have stayed clean and my laundry is basically caught up. All in all, this has been such a wonderful experience. BUT ... I am ready to move to something else. It has required a lot of focus to keep chugging away at all this. And, well, I'm tired of decluttering, cleaning and organizing ... honestly! But, today was more than just cleaning Casiday's room ... it was a beautiful, special time when I was reminded of some very important lessons. Of course, I'm jumping ahead of myself. So back to the beginning ....

Okay, so the day I have dreaded finally arrived. Day 8 - Cleaning the children's rooms. The truth is ... I have a hard time getting rid of things in here. As evidenced by the after photos - there is still A LOT of "stuff." Maybe by next year I'll be able to get rid of more.

Some of the problem is, I really believe, her age. At nine she is still very much a little girl in some ways and so does play with baby dolls, stuffed animals, etc. But she is also getting into that "tween" time of life and so loves her books, DVDs, video games, etc, as well. Plus, she is a creative little thing who is constantly drawing, coloring, writing ... and so there are journals, coloring books, sketch pads, etc. Within the next couple of years, I imagine, her interests in dolls and stuffed animals will have long waned and those things will be packed away for her children or donated to Good Will. However, for now, we have more "stuff" than I'd like but it is all "stuff" she really uses or plays with regularly. And so... as I have said before, that is our reality and I am content in it.

Now, on to the much awaited photos. Remember, I fearlessly posted photos of her room on Day One of our party at the urging of my sweet sister-in-law Beth who felt her children's rooms were much worse. Mind you, Beth has not yet posted a picture of said rooms ... so there is no way to judge. But, I had not done anything in Casiday's room until today since those photos were taken. I did tell her last night that I would be working in her room today so she better make sure that she had put away properly anything she wanted to keep. The girl knows that I have no patience for things put in the wrong place or (WORSE!) shoved under the bed and will absolutely throw away anything I find there. (Yes, she knows this because she has cried as I packed away her beloved Polly Pockets - ALL of them - to put in the yard sale just last month because they were not put away.)

So, here are the before pictures ...

Now for the after pictures ...

Her sheets and comforter are in the washer still. But I'll have them all on the bed before she gets home from school today. So no final picture of the bed ... maybe I'll get one done later.

A few things I learned today:

1. "Treasure" is very subjective! Casiday treasures things I would just toss aside. But they are important to her and, while it is my job to teach her to find balance in saving things, I must let her keep those things that she values - even if I would not.

2. There are just some life stages where you have more "stuff" ... and that's okay! This season will pass and I will miss the dolls in their pallet on the floor.

3. My child is an amazing person! I was looking through the things she had placed on her bulletin board and found myself thinking that she is just a really great person. She had saved notes written to her from her great-grandmother and from a special friend, pictures of her family and friends, momentoes from our trip to Disney last year, a few of her favorite papers from school, and a Bible verse she had written out. Of course there was a lot of other paper and "stuff" on those two big boards, but I am very proud that she is saving things that are about relationships and memories of time spent with others.

4. I only have a few more years to clean up after her. Casiday is finishing up 3rd grade in 2.5 weeks. In 10 years, she will be finishing her first year in college. Where has the time gone? I decided today that having her room be perfectly clean and tidy isn't really all that important to me. I'd rather have more pictures she's drawn, hear more songs she has written & sung, take more pictures of her playing with friends, and fold more tee shirts from all the places she has been. Life is too short ... and the truth is there will always be something to clean but she will not always be this little girl who loves caterpillars and High School Musical and is looking forward to Children's Camp and dance recital.

Maybe these were not the main things Tsh had in mind for us to consider or learn today ... but, oh, how very thankful I am for the time I got spend in my daughter's room. Praying for her, thanking God for her, and just being reminded that "Children are the Lord's best gift" (Psalm 127:3, MSG).

P.S. Casiday has a blog of her own ... I update it as I think of it with her writings and drawings from home and school. It's not overly current but there are enough writings on there to give you an idea of what kind of special person she is. Check it out ... Princess Casiday!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking for a great Bible study for older youth or younger adults? Check this out!!

Christianity Today Study Series
“Faith and Pop Culture”

Christianity Today has produced an excellent tool for opening both discussion and the Bible and considering the relevance of our culture and its impact on our faith practices. “Faith and Pop Culture” is one of eight books in this study series and offers a great framework for addressing a Biblical response to many areas of today’s world.

Each of the eight sessions in this study provides the following segments: Before You Meet - an article to be read before the group meeting which discusses the subject area of that session; Open Up - a selection of opening activities designed to give group members the opportunity to interact and consider the impact of the topic in their lives; The Issue - a discussion of the particular topic area and its impact in current culture; Reflect - selections from Scripture relating to the issue; Let’s Explore - in-depth consideration of the Scriptures read and their application to daily life choices; and Going Forward - a final opportunity to discuss application.

“Faith and Pop Culture” provides an excellent tool for engaging individuals in a serious discourse about how faith and culture interact in our lives. By discussing topics including Art, Literature, Sports, Television, Movies and more, this study is a relevant and compelling study of Scripture and how we, as believers, function within this modern world.

I highly recommend this study and believe it would be especially useful with older teens and young adults. Finding quality material for leading Bible studies for these age groups is an increasingly difficult task. Material such as “Faith and Pop Culture” gives me great hope that we can effectively reach this very tough crowd. Kudos to Christianity Today for creating such meaningful and relevant material!

Rating: 5+ stars - no hesitation or reservations in recommending this resource

“Faith and Pop Culture” was received through the Book Review Blogger program at Thomas Nelson, Inc. For more information about this opportunity, see

Spring Cleaning ... Day 6 - the bathroom ... yuck!!

Okay, so I'm now caught up with the Spring Cleaning Party over on Simple Mom. A wonderful blog that EVERYONE should check out ... I mean EVERYONE! I figure any blog that proves valuable to me - mother of one, a 9 year old who is in public school, pastor's wife who volunteers in both my daughter's school and at the local crisis pregnancy center, helps my sweet husband as much as I can, etc. - and to my sister-in-law - homeschooling mother of seven (ages 10 & under, YIKES!), who is also a pastor's wife in a very small community and who ends up helping her husband with all kinds of stuff ... well, clearly Beth's and my lives are very different. And we both love Simple Mom! So, everyone else I know can certainly find something useful - and simple! - to help in the daily life of MOM.

Okay, free but very sincere! advertising aside ... back to the PAR--TAY!

Today's task was the bathroom. I confess that I only did the girls' bathroom at our house. My precious husband Scott generally maintains his own bathroom - he was raised right, people! Although, I will get in there tomorrow to do some of those tasks he generally despises ... like cleaning out the drawers and cabinets. :) So, back to the bathroom of the day ...

Here are the before pictures ...

And the after shots ...

So, for my daily lessons learned from Spring Cleaning:

1. We keep WAAAAAAY too many extras. I have no idea why I really thought we needed that many travel size portions of anything! So, I followed the advice of sweet Tsh at Simple Mom and combined as many as I could then added the rest to the give pile. Travel size shampoos, lotions, etc are a wonderful donation to your local battered women's shelter!

2. We have way too many bags ... duffle bags, overnight bags, makeup bags, bags, bags, bags! UGH!! So, I pared down to what we love - our Vera Bradley stuff. Everything else was loaded with the books from last week's bookshelf cleansing and loaded in the car for Good Will. The best thing about Vera Bradley - okay, one of the best things! - is that it all folds up inside the biggest piece. Casiday & I both have our own sets ... and every piece is folded up inside the largest piece. Took up one small drawer in the wire rack located in the bottom of the closet.

3. We have way too many beach accessories! Yes, we live 20 minutes from the beach but that is no reason to have 15 bottles of sunscreen! So, I followed the "keep things we use together in the same place" rule and put all the beach towels, beach bags, and sunscreen - along with the small ziploc bag of googles, etc - in the middle wire basket in the closet.

4. Purging periodically is a great thing! I am pretty good about going through the makeup and hair stuff that accumulates in a home with girly girls like ours. So, it was very nice to know that I had just cleaned out my makeup so I didn't have to do anything with that! I go through my makeup on the first day of each season - four times a year! Well, that's the plan ... but by planning it quarterly, I'm still doing great if I get it done twice.

So, it's 10:20 and I'm typing my second blog of the day (check out my Fab Five for last week if you get a chance) ...that means I have already accomplished three of the four MITs on today's list. I'm going to post this blog to Simple Mom and then get started on Meal Plan Monday stuff. Goal is to have everything done by noon so I can get started on some laundry!! LOL I love Mondays!!

Happy Cleaning to all!!!

Fab Five ... Week ending May 9, 2009

1. Books. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read. So, I am always reading at least two or three books. Anyone have any good recommendations? Post in my comments ... I am always looking for something new.

2. Blogging. I think I am officially addicted. I love writing them, reading them, searching for them. For all the woes we often hear about technology, reading blogs written by other moms or pastors wives or wannabe writers or just about anyone makes me feel more connected, more normal, and more like a part of the greater community. Plus, I like that when I hit "Publish Post" I can say I am "published"! Ahh, one day, that dream will come true!!

3. Coffee. Yeah, I know this has made the list before, but I love a good cup of coffee. And I'm enjoying the last of my Auburn City Blend from Toomer's Coffee in Auburn, Alabama. Guess I need to order more or make a trip to Auburn to get some more! (And since I cannot mention the city of Auburn without doing this as well ~ WAR EAGLE!!!)

4. Spring cleaning. Yes, for an OCD type like myself, spring cleaning makes the Fab Five. I've joined the Spring Cleaning Party on Simple Mom (and dragged my sister-in-law Beth into it kicking and screaming!). It has been great! Last week I got my house decluttered and my kitchen and living room cleaned and organized. What fun! And since the party lasts two weeks, you can probably be confident that Spring Cleanign will make next week's Fab Five list too.

5. Good friends. You know the kind that you can go months without having a conversation with but when you talk it is as if no time has passed? I am blessed with many of this kind of friend in my life. Some of whom I have never actually met! God has put some amazing women in my life during this season - they are encouraging, supportive, loving, amazingly hilarious, tender, kind, godly ... and I am humbled and honored to call each a friend. The live in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, North Dakota, and Kansas. What a joy to share this journey of life with so many fantabulous women! Thank you to ALL of you! I love you!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning - Days 3 thru 5 ...I think

Spring Cleaning Party continues at the Underwood home ... Thanks to Simple Mom for making this usually tedious and dreaded task into a big ol' party!!

So I have to confess that two weekends ago I got a cleaning urge and went ahead and did my kitchen. I didn't think to take before pictures - though, honestly, I am not sure I would have been willing to show the before pics! It was bad!!!

So, this week I took two days to do my living room and then I really did nothing in the kitchen as it was already done. So this morning, I cleaned out the two bookcases in my living room (pictures below) and then just took pics of the kitchen.

I am a little embarrassed about these pictures, honestly. I guess I just kept piling stuff on that bookcase and behind the doors of the other shelf. All those pictures are just insane! The bookcase is generally hidden as it is behind our front door which I keep open most of the time. I ended up taking all the photos out of the frames and sorting through them for scrapbooking.

There is a huge pile of books for donation. I have a hard time sometimes getting rid of books. But I made myself get rid of one for every two I kept. Someday I'll be at one kept for one donated ... but today was just not that day!

Okay ... so here are the after pics. Also included are pictures of my kitchen cabinets. My final verdict on all of this decluttering (especially in the kitchen) is this ... our reality may not be the same as anyone else's but I am accepting our reality for what it is! So, Scott's vitamins are out on the counter because that is the only way to make sure he remembers to take them. He had weight loss surgery two months ago and his health is way more important to me than completely clear counters ... so the vitamins stay out.

So, without further adieu, here are the after pictures ... followed by some thoughts I have on kitchen stuff.

Just a few ideas that have made my life easier ...

1. I have all white dishes. We do still have some plastic cups & plates but my DISHES are all white. It just looks cleaner than having mismatched sets or multiple colors in my cabinet.

2. I use the silicone bakeware. It takes up less space and is easier to store. I love it!!

3. I got rid of all my duplicate casserole dishes. Honestly, if I am making more than one it is usually to freeze or give away, so I use the aluminum pans (disposable but I wash & reuse them) for that. Keeps my cabinets way neater.

4. I was going to buy new drawer dividers for my utensil drawer. But when I cleaned out all my plastic storage stuff, I realized I had some pieces without lids that would work. So I repurposed those and it has worked great.

This has been a great experience so far! I am looking forward to next week ... bedrooms & bathrooms!! I know I have MUCH MUCH MUCH work to do in those areas! But I am taking the weekend off - too much going on to do any spring cleaning anyway.

Thanks Tsh ... this has been a great experience! Oh & check out my sister-in-law's blog for her progress - she is a pastor's wife who homeschools her seven children (all ages 10 and under) ... truly if she can do this, I can't imagine anyone who can't!! And I have so enjoyed reading others' blogs and seeing their progress. What a wonderful encouraging week this has been!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pirate-y Fun!!

Casiday was in her first school musical tonight!! She was great! The whole thing was awesome!!

She is in the Satilla Singers at her school and we are so proud of her for being a part of this group. Several of her friends are in the Singers also and so that has made it more fun for her.

Here are the pictures from tonight's performance of "Pirates!"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning - the Living Room ... ugh!

Okay, so it's Day Three of the Spring Cleaning Party on Simple Mom. I'm on my second day since I went with Casiday on a field trip yesterday. (Check out these guys! Pianafiddle was amazing!)

Days 2 & 3 are the living room ... and so I did about half of mine today. Cleaned out the drawers and cleaned off the shelves beside the TV. We have a lot of gaming system paraphenalia. A LOT! There was not a lot to throw away as I had already decluttered this room on Monday. But it took awhile to organize and clean.

Ultimately, I made the following decisions about the "stuff" in this room:

1. We use our gaming systems regularly so it's okay for the Wii Fit balance board and the Guitar Hero drums and guitars to be out. They are not in the center of the floor but we use them often enough that it makes no sense to give up valuable closet space for them. Plus, it is much easier to put them back where they belong when it is in the same room where we play with them. So, as you can see in the pictures, they are placed near the TV & gaming systems.

2. I have a basket by my end of the couch. It is not a very big basket but it holds my computer, a few books, note cards, etc. As long as it doesn't overflow, I am not too worried about what is in it. When it gets full, I'll go through it and toss the magazines, etc. and put away what I'm done using.

3. Scott's space is just that ... Scott's! As long as I can find the phone and the remotes when I need them, it is not worth my energy (and potential frustration!) to go through his stuff and figure out what he needs. He, too, has a basket by his chair and has agreed to try to keep his "stuff" in that basket and not all around his chair.

4. I don't mind dusting the things we love. So, the pipe collection, Norman Rockwell stuff, and the other things that are out are okay with me. It might be cluttered to others, but it is HOME for us and we like it that way.

So, those are my big conclusions for the day. Tomorrow I will be volunteering at Care Net so I will be another day behind on the Party. But Friday I plan to go through the books inside the cabinet and on the bookshelf behind the front door. That will be a HUGE project so I am not starting until I know I have time to finish the same day.

Below are the pictures from today. Happy Cleaning to all!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday ~ My first effort!

I have long been a menu-maker and am typically a menu-follower; but, this week I am just at a loss. So I went to MPM and was so inspired! And then decided to give it a go myself!!

Monday ~ Teriyaki chicken (baked or grilled, not sure which yet) & stir fry veggies

Tuesday ~ Hamburger steaks & green beans

Wednesday ~ (church night so it's gotta be easy!) Soup & sandwiches

Thursday ~ (Casiday has dance & a program at school) Eat out

Friday ~ Pink Pancakes (from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook) with turkey bacon

Saturday ~ Scott is singing at an event so we will probably end up eating out that night too.

Sunday ~ Pork chops with cranberry glaze & veggie of some sort

Springing into Spring!! Day 1 of Spring Cleaning Party ...

Oh yeah! Decluttering ... I love this task. And we have lots of clutter to de... With only three of us one would imagine that it is pretty easy to keep things tidy and clean. Ummm, no ... must be our personality types that work against us. :) Scott is a pack rat ... he keeps everything. Casiday is a hoarder ... she keeps everything. I am a perfectionist ... I let it all pile up until it's overwhelming and then kill myself to get it all put back in order. None of these personality types are useful in daily household tidying.

Today's specific task was to clear off areas and put things in their proper place or into a give/sell or trash box. We just had a huge yard sale at our church this past weekend so everything to be sold or given is already gone - one major part of this task is already complete! Yea me!! But, we seem to have a paper bunny in our house that multiplies every piece of paper exponentially. So, I'm sure the trash bags will be plentiful.

I took my before pictures in every room but Casiday's ... it's just too much! That will have to be a project unto itself. I think she's going to spend the next 10 days having her own spring cleaning party in there. If I get up the courage to let the whole blogosphere (or the three people who read my blog anyway) see how incredibly messy her room is most of the time, I will take pictures and post them. But, to be honest, that is highly unlikely!!

Right now, the main "clutter" in my house is the laundry. We were gone all weekend and so it has really piled up. So, as I declutter today, I'm going to try to tackle the laundry too. Would be nice to have that task accomplished by time to pick up the girl at 2:30 this afternoon ... we'll see.

So, here are the before pictures ...

Okay ... so I managed to get it all done within the two-hour time frame ... at least the decluttering part. LOL Laundry is the project for the remainder of the day but that is a normal Monday task.

Here are the after pictures ...

As for the question asked on Simple Mom about today's task ... well, I think I am more sentimentally attached to some things than I realized. But I am getting better about letting things go. I even put cookbooks (gasp!) in the yard sale pile last week when we were cleaning out stuff. I am very good at getting rid of Scott's and Casiday's stuff, does that count? LOL

So, I enjoyed Day 1 of the party! I had to focus on doing the task at hand and not get distracted by the other things I "should go ahead and do while I'm here" ... so I didn't dust the areas I decluttered ... because I know that I'll be CLEANING those rooms soon. But it is nice to walk through the house and it's all neat and tidy (except Casiday's room but I just closed the door!! Is that cheating?). I am looking forward to hearing everyone else's stories and seeing pictures - I think that is my favorite part of this ... finding out that everyone has the same battle with "stuff" and "piles" that I have. Makes me feel much less like a failure and much more "normal."

Party on everyone!!

Okay ... so Beth challenged me to put up the pics of Casiday's room ... I guess before pictures will make the after pictures even more impressive. I confess that I am utterly ashamed that any room in my house looks like this but even more embarrassed at the sheer quantity of STUFF my child has. Please don't judge me!! :) Keep in mind that she "cleaned" her room on Friday ... and did a pretty good job so this is the work of two days most of which we were not at home. I would like to think this is a phase she will outgrow but I am not betting on it. As I said before, she is a hoarder so I think clutter and mess are going to be in her life for the long haul. :) (But only in my house for another 10 years or so!! LOL) She's a wonderful, funny, beautiful little person and I adore my daughter ... but this makes me crazy! Can I get a witness? LOL Well, enough stalling, I'm adding the pictures and removing all question of my supposed perfection as a housekeeper. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending May 2, 2009

Simple list this week ...

1. Good books that challenge me and cause me to think about myself and my relationship with God and with others in a way that improves those relationships.

2. Health! I am so thankful that Scott, Casiday & I are all healthy.

3. Savannah Smiles ... my dear, sweet friend has this term coined for when she feels the hand of God in her daily life. I am borrowing it and how grateful I am for the many ways God has touched me and made His presence real to me in the past week.

4. Thursday nights. Casiday has dance from 4:30 - 8:30 on Thursdays and I get to spend those four hours with my very best friend and hero - Scott Underwood! Whether it's grocery shopping, a movie, or just sitting in our living room, it is pure joy to be with the man of my dreams!

5. Long-time friends. Got to talk this week to a college friend and it was great to hear her voice (love you, Cristi!) after so many years. What a cool thing to hear how God has done great things in the lives of those who have been so important to me over the years.