Tuesday

Rounding Up 11 Months

Well, the house is looking more like a home. Alexis is getting more opinionated and active by the day. Mr Smith and I still love each other. Lexi and I visited the grandparents this weekend and played with the dog, chickens & goats. Every animal is "woof"





Grandma Smith sent an Easter package


Jenny came to visit for General Conference


She loves her stroller rides. We love living within walking distance to 3 parks!
And then there is that stink face . . .





So she wouldn't let go of the cracker to feed the goat at first. She would just laugh as he tried to take it from her and then she'd attempt to eat it. But eventually she learned to give it to him. Super cute.


 The best BBQ I have found in the South #bananapudding


We started practicing with milk in a cup. Transitioning from breast milk to whole milk! Hurrah!




The Choice of Life and Pennies

We just finished our taxes. Yes, I realize it's April 8. Thank you Turbo Tax for not prolonging the agony. And thank you Alexis, for allowing us a portion of those dollars back. But to be fair, it's the grad student loan interest & dental work that emptied pockets last year. Next year, I have a feeling it will be medical costs. Due to having to get our own individual health plan, future children are more expensive, like really expensive (but they are priceless). I'm not pregnant. I only want to be-ish. But my nursing child is sucking all the nutrients I need. Pity party. Let's dance. (but really I look malnourished…)

This year, I hope we get a break from surprise "life" costs. But I doubt it. Life wouldn't be life without them. But all this talk about money has got me thinking about what life would be like if it were any different. Because I think the natural man does think the grass is always greener in some ways. We pay tithing as a reminder that all of it is truly a gift. But is money really a blessing? That was my question. Again, we often think that. We think I'm experiencing a trial when I feel the pennies are being pinched. But what if it's the other way around?

I didn't think about it until I watched this talk 

by Boyd K Packer (one of the 12 apostles) from years ago.

The talk was on Choice and at first I didn't see how that was the focus. But then it clicked. He talks about where we can find true success and complete happiness. Isn't that what everyone is after? And of course you anticipate that the true answer is with Jesus Christ. And you're correct. But his main point surrounds the Choice that brings about that success. We can think of many we make on a daily basis. 

The Choice of Life is between good and evil. NOT fame and fortune. The greatest decision in life is between good and evil, NOT what will be most noticed and fortunate. In contrast, he states that wealth & power can be the hardest trial. The scriptures warn many times of the dangers of wealth.

There are many ways to figure out whether or not wealth is a factor of true success, but then he shares this quote by Poor Richard, which I enjoyed: "Experience is a dear school, but the fool will learn in no other."

Ha! That sums of my adolescence pretty well.

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Essentially, seek ye first for the kingdom of God, then if wealth comes, you will use it to bless.

I love that thought. Because if your mission is to serve the Lord, then you will not be weighted by the gold, but you will use it to lift burdens for your family & for others. The light of Christ will shine within your service and there will be no desire for glory or praise, only the desire to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

But I'm not saying wealth always comes because you're great. Whether it comes or not, it's what we do with what we have been given that matters in the end. And as Elder Packer warns, it's not easy for the wealthy to stay focused on the Lord. They have the most to lose if they are asked to give it up.

Knowledge should be more valued than gold. Making and keeping sacred covenants and serving our fellow men should be more valued than gold.

But often times we struggle to move past the dreams of jewels, grandeur, and site seeing the world. If we get the chance, we can still appreciate those things, but our hearts will never be satisfied if we do not have them connected to God and family. 

For me, I'd like to go to the grocery store and not have a budget. I don't want to stress about the change. But why do I think it should be any other way?

I didn't make this print, but I love it.

Thursday

You are Great




So I have this friend, who is pretty fantastic. {One of those people who "randomly" come along in your life and you don't get much time with them face to face, but you instantly love them.} Any time you do have, is filled with happiness. Some people are like that to everyone they meet. It's such an admirable quality that I do not have, but I value it. People that bring joy to others and light up a room with joy are just an inspiration. But sometimes, just because of circumstance, personality combinations, life experience, who knows, there are just those relationships you struggle to label, but it's perfect even though you aren't sure why. Sometimes we think we need to know everything before we understand. Sometimes, you don't. Sometimes souls connect. It might be because of who they are or it might be because of who they were to you once before, before this crazy world I mean.

Children, I want you to know that there will be many people who will come in and out of your life. Understand that they did not come by happenstance. You were meant to learn from them, understand them. They were meant to leave you a little better and you should make it your goal to leave them a little better. Sometimes that will seem almost impossible. And sometimes you won't be able to control their reactions. But you can control yours. Learn and grow from everyone. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone.

Sometimes we cheer when people leave our lives. Sometimes it crushes our inner soul to say goodbye. And there is a lot of in between. I think this life is about relationships and not because they define us. We define ourselves. But because they cause us to react. There are good and bad reactions, but most times, it's just about finding a reason to live. For me, true satisfaction never came from traveling alone and keeping all my stories to myself. For me, true happiness never came from doing things that only served myself. There just isn't much to live for when you're only living for yourself, you see.

So I love you children & Mr Smith. I love you brothers & Mom + Dad. I love you aunts, uncles & cousins. And I love you best friends & blog followers. Because you make life exciting and worth living. To all the hellos and goodbyes, to all the laughs and the cries, we exist. We exist to help the next person see greatness, to feel greatness. There is greatness in us all. So much greatness surrounds us and sometimes we choose to close our eyes.

Open your eyes. Look Up. Smile.

as someone passes you by on the sidewalk. the bus. the check out line.

Learn to trust in God's love.

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I made these prints, inspired from pinterest. I'm not sure why the one below is gray when it's actually a white background (thank you blogger), but ... I can email PDFs to anyone who'd like one. I'll probably make a third option here shortly. I'm thinking of putting the first one in Lexi's room.




Tuesday

Food Goals & Disclaimers

I feel like this is what we want to do for us, right now. I'm sure things will change over time. Or maybe even tomorrow. But it's good to have specific, attainable goals in the beginning . . . We want to become more self sufficient and experience a whole foods, well balanced lifestyle. We can't grow a large garden and live on a farm, currently, but there are other things we can do.


So, some of my current Food Goals:

1. Only buy whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice and other whole grains with one exception, some recipes still need a mix of wheat & white flour so I will still by the unbleached from time to time.

2. Buy a wheat grinder and more hard wheat so we can have whole wheat flour whenever we want it: homemade tortillas, rolls, baked goods even. All that will be new for us. I'm not sure about tortilla chips, but there are whole wheat options there too.

3. Make sure fruits and vegetables make up 70% of my weekly shopping cart and my weekly grocery budget is $50. Aldi makes that doable. {we're at the point now where we can just replace items already in our food storage as we use them}

4. At least three meatless meals a week, which basically means using items purely from food storage. Bring out the legumes!

5. No more than one meal a week with eggs or two meals with cheese

6. Eat more oatmeal for breakfast. Give up sugar cereals.

7. No more HIC Punch or other high fructose things, except for Mr Smith's strawberry jam. We will also try to avoid artificial sweeteners & flavoring except for the occasional Koolaid. That also means limiting the candy intake to only special holidays. I will name them for Mr Smith: Halloween, Valentines, Easter & Mr Smith's birthday.

8. Use plain yogurt, avocado, honey, applesauce & bananas more as substitutes for mayo, sour cream & white/brown sugars

9. Learn to cook more soups

10. Max: one package of bacon per month & two fried potato nights a month.

11. Enjoy Lactose Free milk and maybe one day transition to Silk Almond milk

12. Grow my own herb garden

13. Don't eat out for dinner more than once a month. (Papa Johns doesn't count, but should be limited to special events & missionary dinners)

14.  Learn to make my own salad dressings. Then eat salad.

15. Stay away from prepackaged snacks with the following limited exceptions: Ocean Spray or Target brand fruit snacks, Aldi brand chocolate fiber bars (weaknesses), & cliff bars for hiking trips. Also (haha) certain crackers & chips.


Food Goal Disclaimers:

We can't afford to buy "organic"

I will be using up whatever white flour, white rice and white pasta we currently have, but I won't be buying any more, unless I have a really good reason.

I plan on getting whatever I feel like when we go out and spend money at a restaurant. If I want a 6 oz steak, I will get it. But it turns out we probably eat out less than once a month.

Same thing if we go to someone else's house for dinner or find ourselves at a party, I will not be picky.

I will continue to buy chicken broth from a can. I don't buy the most expensive oils. and we will probably always have shortening in food storage.

Almond butter is too expensive to substitute for regular peanut butter

We haven't agreed on an ice cream limit for Mr Smith

I will still buy Rhodes rolls to eat whenever I feel like it.

The only time we buy soda is for sweet pork. The only time we drink soda is when we're at a party. Both do not happen often.

I will probably edit this post a ton more times. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Or you will inspire me with something else to add.

I will probably always use instant pudding and Dream Whip. Sorry people.

I also will continue to use Country Time butter in a tub. Unless someone can convince me otherwise. I'm open to options for stick butter (which I only use for baking which I hardly do)



Monday

Neglect

Morning nap time issues. Photo shoot edits. Boxes in the house.

All of those mean I blog less and I forget to take pictures at the monumental month marks.

Alexis, I'm sorry I fail you. But seriously, it would be awesome if you would take your nap right now. Instead of babbling to yourself and chewing on the ribbon of your crib protector. I really need to figure out how snaps work.

I feel like there is some progression on the house, but we're still struggling. For me, the lack of order increases my anxiety daily. The lack of order comes in all forms. I want all the pictures hung, but I want Mr Smith to hang them. And the curtains . . . I don't know what to do about curtains. But I know I can't find them at Walmart.

The main issue is still getting the outlets grounded. That way the office and living room area can officially be situated. At least the weather is perking up. And conference is this weekend. And Jenny is coming to visit. Lots of things to look forward to!!


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