My Mom Was Right...

... when she always said to surround myself with good influences and distance myself from the bad.

Lately I've been surrounding myself with Christianity and seeking out ways to improve myself spiritually (which will result in improving myself in every other way, as I've found out) and it has made a difference.

The only music I really listen to anymore is Christian contemporary... check out http://www.klove.com/ for a station near you, if you haven't already. You'll hear some great stuff! When I find a particular group or style that I'm drawn to, I plug them into my handy Pandora app on my phone and discover even more! I've even caught my 2 year old singing along in the car with me to songs about Jesus... much better than some of the songs that my husband listens to in HIS car. (Love you, honey!)

I left a wives group on Facebook that I was a member of that was focusing on a lot of negative behavior lately, telling tales of drinking to excess and promiscuous sex... it was really bringing me down and making me see people that I consider friends differently. After I got a negative response from a few members when I asked if people were drinking safely around their children (and why they were drinking that much to begin with) I left the group altogether.  Something was missing though, so I started a new group called Living With Grace, for Christian women to share and support each other.  It really took off quickly and has 26 members so far! I'm loving all of the sharing, praying, praising and conversations that we're having.  If anyone reading this would like to join, please just ask and I'll gladly add you.

Something else that has been on my mind lately is improving my marriage through God.  Mike and I have only been married for 7 months and are very happy... but I want to make sure that we keep working together and that our marriage excels and is filled with the Holy Spirit. One way we're working on this is by having our marriage blessed by our pastor! We were not members of a church when we got married, so we had a short non-denominational ceremony done at our reception site.  It was beautiful and everything I could have asked for, but I still want us to promise our marriage, our lives, and our hearts and souls to our Lord.

Along those same lines... Mike and I never did get a honeymoon.  These two options are REALLY calling my name:

     1. Love Like You Mean It Cruise A marriage cruise sponsored by Premier Christian Cruises! An all inclusive cruise (cabin, meals, drinks, etc) featuring marriage workshops from Christian speakers and performances by some of my favorite music groups! Plus plenty of husband and wife time. It's 5 days in February 2012.

     2. Weekend to Remember: Marriage Getaway Check out the link... it explains the weekend better than I ever could.  There are a lot of different semi-local options for this one, so I'm hoping to be able to take advantage of it.  There is one not far from my parents house actually... (mom and dad I'm looking at you for spending a weekend with your lovely granddaughter!)

Another way I'm working on growing spiritually is by reading my bible.  Right now I'm doing "The Essential 100" which I will finish in way less than 100 days, as I'm really enjoying my nightly readings.  After that I'll probably start a new guided reading plan.  I have also joined an online growth group through our church and starting in April we're reading Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado. I'm really looking forward to it and have already downloaded the book to my Kindle. :)

The one place that I've been "spiritually slacking" is in actually getting my booty (and my families collective booties) to church on Sunday mornings! We will remedy that this weekend, though. I'm determined to get back in that habit. I LOVE our church, our pastors, our congregation, our sunday school, everything... and I WANT to be there.

So that's me in a nutshell right now,  just enjoying life and trying to make the best choices for my family.

I leave you with this... a totally unnecesary but totally adorable picture of my pride and joy taken this morning. :)


We're Taking Over the Neighborhood!

I have some exciting news to share with everyone... my baby sister and her family have moved in next door to us!

Erica, Shawn and their kiddos (Aiden and Shawn Jr) are now only a fence and a driveway away... and we've been having a blast! Aiden and Abby have spent a ton of time playing in our backyard with Roxie, and Mike and I went over for some cards and hanging out one night last weekend. It's already been a big convenience too... Erica locked her keys in her car a few nights ago and I was able to run her over her spare without even having to change out of my jammies! Then yesterday Mike ran over and watched the boys for a bit while Erica was at work and Shawn had to run an errand. Here are some pictures of the kiddos hanging out during moving day...

 Aiden coaching Abby on how to hold a bat properly

 The Abster hitting a home run

 Baby Shawn chowing down on some pizza crust

 Aiden "Lightening McQueen is on the phone!"  Abby: "Hello Mr. Queen."

 Taking a ride around the yard

...and for good measure, my little lovebugs playing together. :)

Welcome (back) to the neighborhood, Erica and family!!!


Happy :)

So apparently my simplifying plan was very effective. I feel great again! After weeks of clouds and gloominess, the sun is shining again (figuratively AND literally!) It's a gorgeous 74 degrees here today and the past few days have been beautiful as well.  We've spent a ton of time playing outside and life is grand. How could it NOT be grand with a cutie pie like this to share everything with?



So I haven't blogged in a few weeks.  It's because something is wrong... and I'm not quite sure what.  I know part of it is that I'm suffering from some cabin fever (aka seasonal depression).  It has been a looooong, cold, grey winter and I NEED some sunshine and outside fun.  I daydream of laying out back on the lounge chair, reading a book, while Abby and Roxie frolick in the sprinkler and water table.  I can't wait!

The other part of it is that I think I'm over-complicating my life by trying to compensate for the lack of time that I get to myself.  I feel like I've lost touch with what makes me Nicole. I'm so busy trying to be the best mom, wife, christian, employee, friend, housekeeper, etc that I have nothing left to help me be the best Nicole.  All of those things do make up who I am... but what would I have left without them? At this point, pretty much nothing.  I've started to lose interest in things that I enjoy and have been feeling kind of robotic lately.  I know the right things to say and the right things to do... so I just do them.

No more though! I'm going to take action to pep myself back up and hopefully avoid MORE medication.  I've started simplifying my life and concentrating on what's important and what I enjoy.

1. I've temporarily pulled out of all regularly scheduled activities that take up time after work or on weekends.  Working full time and raising a two year old is enough. My sanity can't handle extra classes or meetings, our lack of available babysitters, etc. Hopefully I'll get back to them again when Abby is a little older.

2. I'm trying to cut down on my multi-tasking. I take on too much at once and don't give my full attention to anything.  I'm going to do one thing at a time so that each task has my full attention and isn't overwhelming.

3. I'm going to try and avoid my "stress triggers".  I'm going to keep on top of keeping our living spaces clean and organized at all times, because the clutter and mess stresses me out, and in turn when things are messy, I'm crabby, and everyone suffers. I'm also going to attempt (husband: notice that I said ATTEMPT) to keep more on top of chores like laundry so that they don't build up until I have 4 loads to do in one day and hubby has no clean work clothes. I'm also not going to freak out if I don't attain this goal. The clothes EVENTUALLY get clean and nobody has left the house naked yet.

4. I'm going to de-clutter and get rid of a bunch of stuff.  I'll admit it... I'm a pack rat.  However, we don't have a large enough house for me to keep hoarding everything! I'll make some yard sale boxes and throw them in the shed until someone has a sale. 

5. I'm going to demand that I get more me time.  I'm going to make myself understand that reading on the couch while Abby plays next to me doesn't count... I'm still on edge and in mommy mode and not really relaxing like I deserve. I DESERVE! And when I do get this time to myself I'm going to savor it. I was getting my hair done the other day and instead of relaxing and daydreaming I spent the whole time thinking about what needed to be cleaned, what needed to be paid, what needed to be done, what messes were being made at home while I was gone, etc.

6. I'm getting back on track with things I do enjoy! More homemade meals and less convenience food. I love cooking and I'm good at it... and it's much healthier for my family.

So to sum everything up, I'm working on making mom happy again.  As someone once said... "Nobody is happy if Mom's not happy".