Why We Decided to Trick or Treat

pumpkins-469641_640

Last year I wrote a post about To Trick or Treat or Not To Trick or Treat? and this post generated a lot of positive discussion from friends whose opinions I think are valuable. I had many comments on Facebook from parents who had differing views about Halloween and how to handle trick or treating.

For some of you readers, this may not seem like a problem at all. But for someone like me who grew up in a home that did not condone being scared as a fun activity, you enter into this time of year with some caution. I am not one who messes around with fear. I think the Bible is pretty clear that the spirit of fear does not come from the Lord and it’s something we should be on guard against. I do not want to take Halloween lightly. I think it’s a time of year that can release a lot of darkness and negativity and honestly, sin in the world. Some people can breeze through this time of year without a care and stroll through a haunted house without giving it a second thought. I am not one of those people and I don’t plan to raise my son as one of those people either. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against folks who can go through the Edgar Allan Poe Haunted house. If anything, I would like to join my friends who can go out for a night of haunted houses. But I also wont take my son to a haunted house someday pushing him down the hallway because it’s supposed to be “fun to be scared.”

The problem for me is that once I open that door, fear kicks it wide open.

So how am I going to handle this topic as I raise my little family?

trickortreatpin

After much consideration and prayer, and after reading lots of positive responses from some of my friends, I have decided to take a completely positive view on Halloween. I love traditions. I love making family traditions. Why not make Halloween a positive family tradition? There can be many positive family memories made from creating costumes for trick or treating. Much laughter and joy can come from making homemade candy. Not all decorations need to be gross bones and blood. Plus, there’s always the perk of putting up orange christmas lights lights that can last through Thanksgiving. 🙂 That sounds like a win win to me.

I don’t plan on going into this time of year with a blindfold on either. Just because I choose to glean positive from Halloween, doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to the the reality of evil that abounds this time of year. As my children grow older, I’ll be sure to use the right opportunities to teach them that fear doesn’t come from God. That demons and evil are real and not to be made light of because there is a goofy ghost poster at WalMart. I will teach them that prayer is powerful and our lifeline to fight against the Enemy.

So this year we’re taking Bubby trick or treating. He’s currently into watching Curious George on TV. Carter’s must have read my mind because their monkey costume was on sale. Cha Ching!

If I can just convince Husband to dress up as the Professor in his yellow suit with that yellow hat…

What about you? How do you handle Halloween? Is it something you had to wrestle with?

Word for the Year 2016: Focus…and Cultivate

, ,
I couldn’t decide on one word for this year. I had a few goals and thoughts that I was mulling over for a couple of weeks and I just kept coming back to these two words. Focus was the dominant word. Each time I would delve deeper, the word cultivate kept swimming around my thoughts. So there you have it. My two words for the year are FOCUS and CULTIVATE.

Every year I tend to fill the need to change something in my life. One year I allowed myself to watch TV/Movies for a total of three hours in a one week period. Another year I wanted to run everyday. Ha! That was the year I got bronchitis AND laryngitis. (If you’re wondering, no, I didn’t end up running everyday that year.) Another year Mike and I pledged to eat at one new restaurant a month. One year I decided to read a new book each week. (I was close. I ended up with 50 on my reading list that year.) You get the idea. I have never picked a word to focus on. This will be a new endeavor.

I got the idea from Frank Viola. He posted a great article about getting ready for 2016 and I decided to run with it. If you’ve never heard of or read any of his stuff, you should head over to his site and check it out. Once I decided to pick a word for the year, I started to pray about it. I plan to take this seriously, so it seemed natural to ask God for help.

I knew I wanted to be on social media less, run more, eat healthy, read more, write more, be angry less, spend time with people I care about more and be purposeful in my relationship with Mike. I wanted to focus on them, but not just that, I wanted to grow these things. Improve upon them somehow. Enter cultivate. So here’s my list of focus and cultivation for the year 2016 and how I plan to “implement” them.word2016

1) Facebook less. I plan to turn off all my push notification on all my social media apps (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). I have found that I have great excuses to be on these all the time (while I’m nursing, while Asher is napping, when I’m going for a walk…you get the idea). I keep missing the present because I’m so focused on someone else’s “present.” Who wants to spend life on Facebook. I don’t even want to know how much of my time is spent either surfing social media or the Internet in general. So, I’ve decided to allow myself two times in a day to check these things. I get up early and like to do emails, etc. so morning seems natural. I’m not sure when the other time will be, but it will be minimum.

2) Run More. I like to run. I feel healthier, stronger, and usually mentally stronger when I’m running. Especially if I have a plan for my running. I plan to run a half marathon this spring. That’s as far as I’m taking it right now. The fall gets pretty busy for me with coaching, so we’ll see what it brings. I already try to run a few times a week, so this isn’t new, but I am cultivating this habit. See what I did there.

3) Cook More Wholesome Foods. I believe I’ve mentioned before how I love Lisa over at www.100daysofrealfood.com. I use her site as my go to when I want to make wholesome, less processed foods. I’ve decided to use my blog to help me with this goal. I’ve got some ideas turning but I’m thinking of a “Supper Sundays” post. I’ll post what I cooked, how it went over, the recipe I used and any other resources. I don’t know if anyone will read it, but it will help keep me accountable to cook at least a wholesome, non processed, possibly all organic meal, once a week. I’ll most likely cook this on Sundays, hence “Supper Sundays.”

4) Read More. If you check out my side bar, you can see that I’ve signed up at Goodreads.com for the reading challenge this year. I plan to read 40 books this year. If you are a struggling reader or like to read, this is fun to do. You can join others and check out who’s reading what. It’s an easy way to find some accountability for your year of reading. I love it!

5) Write More. I’ve thought about using my blog to help me accomplish this. Obviously it’s two-fold with the Supper Sundays idea. I’ve thought about other “day themed” writings. I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers do this and it seems like a good idea. I wouldn’t have to keep it up every week, but when I get an idea, I could tie it to one of those themes. I also have realized that I want to schedule more time in for writing. This can be tricky. I have two prime times in a day to do this, but I use that time for a lot of other things too, so I’ll have to decide maybe what days to do what. Book ideas keep floating around my head. Right now, their just floating. I’m trying to get the sail up still.

6) Relationships. I would definitely consider myself and my husband an introvert by definition. We have friends we see every now and then but nothing consistently. I tend to easily run in my head that “I’m introvert. I don’t need to see people to get energy.” This might be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way God intended things for all introverted people. I plan to invest in some of my relationships more this year and spend time with people I care about. I’m pretty sure Mike will go along with this 🙂 I also have a big family, and we can go a long time without talking to each other. This bothers me when I think about it. So, I’ve decided to plan a phone call/text to my family members more often throughout the week.

7) My marriage. I can easily see how married couples lose their intimacy and friendship when they have a child(ren). I can see this slowly happening to Mike and me. He works fairly long days and it’s easy to fall into the roommate mode and give all  your energy to your kids. I’m thinking we need to implement two date nights a month or something. I haven’t worked out all the details of this because I need to talk with Mike about it. but I plan to be proactive in this. We’ve got a great babysitter that we trust and Asher doesn’t have any issues going to bed at night, so we just need to plan to go out together!

That’s my list to help me FOCUS this year and CULTIVATE some things that are important to me. Have you thought about your year? I really like Frank Viola’s idea of making a list of your “Dream Year.” How inspiring! I would like to sit down with Mike and do that. I think it would be a cool idea to see how those dreams pan out for the year. What would  your word for the year be? Why?
Thanks for reading!

Crying in the car and being a control nut: What is your top ten list for 2015?

, ,

I know many are focusing on New Year’s resolutions, but before I jump in to looking ahead, I like to sit back and look at the year and all the things I experienced. I like to make a list, (shocking, I know) and reflect on what had an impact on me as a person. I like to try and narrow down these experiences to ones that seemed most impactful to me. These “experiences” could include a book or music or even a movie. So before you jump into the new year, I would encourage you to reflect on your year in 2015.

WHY make a list?
It’s good for the soul to remember things that have helped mold you into the person you are. As a society, I feel like we’re always looking forward to the next date we have marked on our calendar that we forget to reflect on important things that have happened to us.

HOW to make your list?
I tend to be a “free writer” myself. I don’t start out with a number one and then try to perfect my list right away. I generally sit down and just start writing about the year in total free form. Sometimes I go through all the pictures on my phone to bring up reminders of special events. Sometimes I go through my music play lists to refresh on my favorite songs. I also keep a journal. I like to go through it and reflect. You might even want to talk with someone you spent a lot of time with throughout the year. They might have some interesting perspectives on how the year went.

WHAT to put on your list?
Of course this is very general and can vary greatly depending on the person and what they experienced during the year. Some might find this reflective process liberating and motivating as they move into the next year. We can’t forget the struggles that the year brought. There are many who may have had a tough year who wish to leave it behind and never look back. Think about how your experiences could or may have made you a stronger or more considerate person than before. Your list may include a relationship that ended, a lost loved one, a new loved one, a book, a song, a trip, a concert, a restaurant your family was addicted to, maybe a TV show.

This list is wide open. Be serious. Be funny. Be thoughtful. Be gritty. Be honest.

MY LIST FOR 2015

1) Having my first child.
Of course, this seems like an obvious one, but I must say that it seems almost all my experiences this year revolve around this little guy. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if Mike and I would have kids. God opened my heart and now I don’t even know how I used to think that! I could live without the labor part, and really skip the nine months pregnant part. A stork delivery would be nice. But I would do it all over. Words can’t express all this, really.

2) Becoming a stay at home mom.
If you would’ve asked me a few years ago what I thought I’d be doing the rest of my life, I would have said teaching in a school somewhere. I never would have thought that I’d be a SAHM. Now, I can’t imagine working away from my little guy. The transition had its and still does have its emotional moments, but I am so grateful that I get to be with Asher for all of his “firsts.” Wearing leggings everyday does have its perks.

source

 

3) Love and War by John Eldredge.
This book has brought a new foundational meaning to my marriage. If you are struggling in your marriage and are interested in faith-based insight, you really should check this out. I feel like this book gave me a huge reminder that we are all under attack by the Evil One and prayer is a powerful thing for your marriage, for any relationship, really. Marriage is hard and having a child and being parents is icing on the cake! This book saved us! I really should write a review for this book.

4) Since I’m on the topic of marriage, the song Broken Together by Casting Crowns rang true for me this year, especially after having a baby! There were many car rides, with a lot of tears upon hearing this song. Pregnancy hormones didn’t help either! (Come to think of it, there was lots of crying in the car this year…) There’s nothing more humbling than you and your spouse caring for this new little life (or lives) you’ve been given and realizing how utterly flawed you both are as you walk your parenting journey together.

source


5) Organic and less processed.
This year I have tried to cut out processed foods and create a more “whole foods” shopping list. I am addicted to Lisa’s site www.100daysofrealfood.com I first decided to really pay attention to ingredient lists of foods I buy and I try to buy organic when it’s feasible. I really try to go by the dirty dozen. We certainly don’t always eat healthy, but I feel healthier knowing I’m making more educated purchases at the grocery store.

6) Being a control nut.
I have realized this year that I like control. I like to control as much as I can and when I can’t, I feel like a failure or I feel unstable. Again, having a kid can do wonders! I always knew I liked to plan and organize, but I feel I really saw my controlling flaws within my marriage and my relationships and the unhealthy side of control. I think control can be a good, healthy characteristic, but like anything, too much can become a problem. I certainly haven’t mastered dealing with being too controlling but I feel that being more self aware has already helped tremendously.

7) Learning to laugh more.
Laughter instead of anger. This practice has helped me a lot in my marriage. It could help in any relationship. There are several occasions when Mike and I could easily get snippy or rude with one another, but we’re finding out that sometimes. things can be pretty funny and laughing instead of getting angry can calm a storm very easily.

I could probably add Taco Bell, KLOVE Radio, and the public library to this list, but those are long enough for a post of their own! By the way, I realize I only have a list of SEVEN! I’m working on my controlling deficits.

The new year is almost here. Take some time to reflect before diving in with new resolutions or before planning away all your time. Remember those closest to you and how they have impacted you. Most of all, enjoy the season of life you’re in. We all know things can change so quickly.

16 “Must-Dos” That Should Be on Your Holiday Tradition List

,
source

I love traditions. Now that my husband and I have a little guy, I am gushing with excitement about traditions to start as he grows up and as we add to our family! The more people I talk to about traditions they have for the holidays, the more I realized that traditions are what make the holidays fun for me! Some of these traditions I still do even though a holiday isn’t attached, but I would dare say they don’t quite have the flare and excitement as they do when it’s holiday time! Whether these are your guilty pleasures or typical family fun, you really should add some of these to your holiday tradition list.
I know my list is 16. I can’t help it. I tried to make it 15 so it was more balanced but I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of one.

Here are some fun ideas to add to your tradition list for the holidays!

1. Eat Little Debbie Christmas Cakes. Yes, they’re the Devil, but evil has never tasted so good.

2. Wear your pajamas all day. I would probably still wear underwear…well, then again, maybe not.

3. Have a big freaking breakfast with your family or close friends. I’m talking create your own version of the IHOP gigantic breakfast platter. I feel like gluttony is allowed here. Wait, let me think about that…

4. Better yet, have those family members or friends bring a bag full of food. Take the food and pile it in your vehicle and head down to your local Food Pantry and give someone else a breakfast they may be in dire need of.

5.Take a big nap in the middle of the day. If you have kids and this is impossible, you could always dream about it…

6. Binge watch something (OK, this might be more for me, but do it. You know you want to…)

7. Read something new and different than what you would normally read. Try a different blog or nonfiction instead of fiction. You never know, you might realize that fishing in Wyoming might be pretty cool to add to your Bucket List.

8. Watch a Christmas classic. There’s nothing that gets the Christmas juices going than a movie like It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s OK if you need the Kleenex. I find holiday movies can put your significant other in the mood. You might even get a little lucky…

9. Listen to some Classic Christmas music. I love Bing. Bing Crosby. Or Bubble’. He’s classic enough, right?

10. Stay up late with your family or close friends playing board games. Try not to kill each other. Apparently, Catan can cause uprisings.

11. Stay up late watching all the Star Wars movies…AGAIN.

12. Cook or Bake something new. You know you’ve always wanted to try your snicker doodle cookies with actual Snickers chunks. Would someone please make these already!

13. “Check” your phone less. The world will still go on without us glued to our phones. Unless that means you quit reading my blog.

14. Teach your kids how to shovel snow out off the driveway, the sidewalk, the porch. Better yet, show them how to do it for their neighbors too.

15. Buy yummy scented holiday candles. Olfactory can create a huge “sense” of holiday buzz!

16. My favorite one: Create a “Family Top Ten List.” Take a look back over the year and reminisce with your loved ones about the highlights of the year that everyone experienced. Maybe it was a trip, a movie, a song or a show or a book or a restaurant you’ve discovered you guys can’t live without.

Have fun with it and feel free to eat Little Debbies while you’re at it.

 

Can You Guess the Christmas Movie? #christmasmovietrivia

,

I LOVE this time of year. I am a hard core Christmas enthusiast. Shoot, my husband and I got married two days after Christmas because we both love the holidays!

I have always been someone who associates movies and music with a certain time of year. Favorite movie during fall time: You’ve Got Mail. Favorite Movie to watch at the beginning of summer: The Sandlot. Favorite movie to watch on Labor Day weekend: The Goonies. Who wouldn’t want a little truffle shuffle and end-of-the-summer adventure as school revs up. You’re mocking me, aren’t you? I was a middle school teacher and I’m pretty sure being in middle school all day as an adult for a period of time stays with you for life.

I am also someone who loves to make lists. I have the most organized iPod you’ll probably ever see. Playlists galore. I have a planner with a “to-do” list for everyday. Love, love, love it. I get a kick out of categorizing my lists.

Enter the “Christmas Move Watchlist.” Apparently “Watchlist” is supposed to be two words but I don’t like the Feng Shui of it. What movies do I love to watch and associate with the holidays? Here we go and in no particular order.

I know this goes against the organization gods but I just can’t bring myself to pick one over the other… Instead of making this some ordinary list, let’s see a photo for each one I enjoy and see if you can guess. Honor code people. I didn’t create these pics myself so I had to borrow them. Clicking on the source is cheating. Sheesh.

Can you guess which holiday movie just by looking at a photo from the movie? Read on for more fun details!

1.

source

2.

source

3.

source

4.

source

5.

source

6.

source

7.

source

8.

source

9.

source

10.

source

11.

source

I feel like a renegade having a list of eleven, instead of a traditional list of ten. It really could be more, but these are definitely on my list of movies I always try to watch around the holidays. I also just realized that Nicolas Cage is popular for me this time of year.

Answers:
1. Home Alone
2. Family Man
3. White Christmas
4. Elf
5. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
6. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
7. The Family Stone
8. The Muppet Christmas Carol
9. The Santa Claus
10. A Christmas Story
11. Trapped in Paradise

What would your Christmas Movie Watchlist be?

Ideas to Help You Fight Winter Blues

winterblues2

Have you heard of winter blues before? I had not until a few years ago. It was about this time of a year, and I became pretty depressed. There were some challenges with my job that I think triggered the spiral. Ever since that time, I’m more aware of how easy it is for me to get depressed this time of year. You’d think with the holidays approaching that every thing would be fun and jolly. Well, it is, at times, but there are also those times when it’s not.

Many people may get what is called the “winter blues,” a seasonal depression, and if it’s a mild or a light case, this depression can be helped relatively easily, without medication and with some proactive measures. According to an article from National Institute of Health (NIH), Dr. Matthew Rudorfer explains that winter blues is used as a general term and is considered more mild than serious and can eventually go away within a short amount of time. He goes on to say that many times this depression is triggered by the stress of the holidays and reminders of lost loved ones. Ding! Ding! Ding! That would be me.

It is worth noting that there can be more intense and serious cases of depression during the winter months called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). Dr. Rudorfer mentions that this depression is “a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours” and it “interferes with daily functioning over a significant period of time” (para 4).

I have always felt that as the days get darker sooner during this time of year that I was affected by that, especially since I worked in a room with no windowns! I never knew what was going on outside during the day. I would head to work and it was dark! By the time I I drove home it was dark. Dr. Rudorfer goes on to explain that there is a pattern to SAD, meaning it flares up during the winter with “less light” months and clears up during the spring and summer time.

For me, I feel the less daylight hours, along with the stresses of the holidays, can easily trigger winter blues. I don’t know about you, but I can hide my emotions pretty well. My husband was pretty unaware of my feelings when I was really depressed a few years ago.

I didn’t want to get out of bed, go to work, I wasn’t sleeping well,  and I was willing to lie to get out of responsibilities if it meant I could avoid certain activities that fed into my depression. I feel like this is especially easy to do around the holidays because the good times can easily mask the rough patches from those close to you. Husband just thought I was sick–like physically sick. Honestly, I think I made myself sick. The mind can do amazing things. The built up anxiety can do wonders to the body. I found I am easily prone to ulcers if anxiety and depression settle in for a winter vacation and my winter blues to be kicked up a notch.

The holidays can create this tension that pulls you up and quickly pushes you down. One minute you’re excited to be home for the weekend and be able to spend time with your family and as Monday approaches, the dread settles in. Eventually this dread causes you to take action–sick for the day, which turns in to days, which might lead to resentment for the obligations you made two months ago and now you’re supposed to host this Christmas party you completely forgot about, which cuts in to the indoor soccer game you planned on watching of your son, which takes a night away from you and your husband hanging out and you feel like this always happens this time of year.

Why can’t you just get a grip? Great. You’re starting to get sick. You’re waking up in the night because you can’t sleep. Oh man. Now the real monster comes out to play when you start operating on less sleep.

I find myself walking this balance beam at times during this time of year, and try to take proactive steps to prevent winter blues from settling in.

I am by no means an expert. These tips should not replace any sort of medical advice you may receive or should not replace a reader seeking medical attention for any kind of depression.

Tips to Help Fight Depression Tips to fight Winter Blues

Get outside as much as you can.
If you know that you dislike the hour changes, then try to get outside as much as you can. When I was at my job, I would use my lunch break and plan period to take a quick step outside, either for a short walk or a quick breath of fresh air. I would try not to check my phone and just enjoy being outside for a brief moment. The National Institute of health found that people diagnosed with SAD who underwent light therapy had an “improvement in depression scores after the first treatment of light” (para 11). This can apply too for getting outside more often.

Talk with someone about what you’re feeling…seriously, do it.
Why do we tend to be so secretive about being depressed? Depression seems to have such a negative stigma, almost like it’s a sign of weakness. Satan couldn’t be anymore glad if no one ever talked about their depression, whether it’s mild or serious. If no one is talking about it, then many are probably not getting help or being proactive, which means more people missing out on God’s amazing grace!

When you feel the depression starting to creep up, evaluate positive ways to cope and possibly divert the depression.
For me, a key ingredient to fighting the hormones that come with depression is exercise. For my husband, it’s having a time of no responsibilities in the home, a break from the every day routine. Another coping tool for me is sleep. I can get in serious ruts with little sleep (which made Postpartum Depression really hard to deal with for me!). Since it’s dark anyways, I tend to just go to bed earlier if I feel tired, then getting up early the next day to meet my obligations seems less daunting.

What might be some tools you have that could help you with this? Have you taken the time to evaluate what they might be? Have you talked with someone about this?

Deal with what you can control and seek guidance for the rest.
This tends to be the biggest obstacle for me and it is so easily said than done at times. I can’t control other people’s actions. I can control my emotions and actions. Another easier said than done…cough cough.

For me, this means everyday I have to remind myself that I am a child of God and no matter what happens, He is with me and is there no matter what. If the finances are falling apart or your brother wont talk to you or you’re reminded of your sweet grandma and her delicious cookies which aren’t around anymore, then those are the times to look for guidance. Counseling may be an effective tool for you this time of year in particular.

As I mentioned, for me I have to speak to myself the promises of God from his Word. I don’t always remember those promises in the heat of emotions. I like to write them down on cards and place them around the house, in my purse, in my car.

I can control how many Christmas parties I host. I can control how many activities I get my family involved in. I can control how much money I spend on others. I always think of Matthew 5:37 when Jesus says something along the lines of “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” I have always felt this means if you say you’re going to do something, you should follow through and if you can’t do it, then just say so. I’m sorry my good friend, but we’ve got too much going on already to go to that party you mentioned. I’m sorry cousin, but this argument is between you and your sister. I would prefer to stay out of it. Again, easier said than done. But if we’re doing what we know is right, then we have to trust that decision.

Try not to worry about appearing weak.
Honestly, I was nervous to talk to my husband about it because I didn’t want to appear weak. There it is again, that stupid stigma. Eventually, he caught on though. My demeanor had changed too much at home and he brought me out to talk about some things.

Having someone close that can help you be “accountable” can be very beneficial for some people. Someone who can remind you in a loving way to speak positive in those low moments or maybe remind you to speak God’s Word. Someone who can walk with you during those low moments. Some might prefer someone who isn’t close to them, maybe a therapist, someone you might feel you can be more open with. Either way, the more you keep things in the worse things can get and spiral out of control.

Clinical depression can be far worse and should be treated as soon as possible. This post is not to minimize someone’s experience with serious depression and all the obstacles that come with it. If you feel you are on any path of depression, seek help as soon as you can.

Have you experienced Winter Blues? If so, what have you found that works best for you? Any tips to avoid depression during the holidays?
Peace mamas,
Glo