Monday, December 17, 2012

When Dolly is Defiant

We called it right when we gave Brooke the title of Diva while I was pregnant. She had the little neck roll, hand in the air, "whatever" down at a very early age. What was so cute and silly when she was 2 is not so cute at 5. I will admit, she gets it from her momma. I am was a handful at times. Having a good attitude and be respectful is something we are working hard at these days, and Brooke has been doing a lot better. But recently, Dolly has been having some trouble with it.

Dolly's time out spot in the kitchen cabinet.

In an effort to speak her mind, without worry of getting in trouble, Brooke has been using her toys and stuffed animals as her scape-goats. At first I didn't know how to handle it, because I know that the disobedience is coming from her heart and it isn't just "play". So I sat her and her toy down, and I let her lead the discussion with Dolly about why her actions were not good. Initially, she thought it was funny and that I was just playing into her game, but then I reminded her what happens when SHE acts this way, and it was off to time out Dolly went. Now this was as much a punishment for her as it was Dolly, because now she didn't have her toy to play with. After this little exercise, I was able to see how much she really is understanding, and the things that are still being lost in translation. I now know what is truly being defiant and what areas I need to show a little grace and forgiveness for.

It also leaves me wondering, how many times do I try to blame my disobedience on an outside source, maybe even unintentionally. I am so thankful that God shows us grace, but also that he points those areas out to us in a loving way, because honestly, I just want to make my Daddy happy, just like I know Brooke wants to make me happy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pizza Night!

It's Friday, which means it's pizza night here in the Ham house. We try to spend Friday nights at home as a family. Brooke and I make homemade pizzas, Maddux mixes up a salad and Daddy gets Ellie Grace ready for bed early. When dinner is ready, we all pile on the couch and pop in a movie (tonight its "The Grinch"). Yes, this is a tradition I hope we keep for years and years to come! We make our pizzas from scratch for 2 reasons, 1) it's cheaper and 2) it tastes better. I am aways on the look out for new topping combinations, but we have been stuck on this "White Pizza" for a while now. I initially looked up a recipe for it, but now we just wing it. (hmm, just made me think... maybe we should try a take on hot wing pizza next week). Focus Kelli! Anyway, here is my recipe.

Loaded down with chicken, spinach and cheese... it's a hearty meal without being too heavy.

White Pizza

2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
white cheese ( I use a mixture of mozzarella and Monterrey jack cheese)
bunch of fresh spinach or small package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
homemade pizza dough (below)

Over medium-high heat, drizzle a large skillet with olive oil and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions become translucent (3-5 minutes). Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook the chicken through (10-15 minutes), remove from heat. Spread olive oil over the dough, add the chicken mixture. Top with a few handfuls of spinach and then cheese. If you really want to kick it up a notch you can also sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Pop it in a preheated (350 degrees) oven for 20 minutes. The last two minutes or so, I like to turn the oven on broil to get a nice golden hue to the cheese and crust.

Pizza Dough

3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup  hot, tap water
1 package active dry yeast

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in hot water for about a minute. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour and mix (don't be afraid to get your hands in there and get dirty!). On a floured surface, knead dough slightly, then roll or press dough into a pizza pan or shallow cookie sheet. Top as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. No rising needed!

There you have it, easy as pizza pie!

Do have any weekly traditions or rituals with your family? I would love to here from you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ministries for SAHM's

In my late teens and early twenties, I spent a lot of time serving in different ministries at our home church. It was my passion. My own life had been so impacted by others who had invested in me, I wanted God to use me in the same way. Then, I had our first daughter, we did some moving (4 times in the first 4 years of marriage to be exact), and I stopped serving all together. My ministry had become motherhood. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with the chance to make this my full time mission field but I still felt this desire to be serving my church family as well. I also feel like it is SUPER important for our children to see us being an active member of the Body of Christ. So I began praying about areas where I can serve, without taking away from my family.

One of my middle school girls, Caroline, all grown up. I have been so blessed by my time as their Sunday School leader.

Providing Meals- The women's ministry in our church organizes Care Calendars for families that have just had a baby, lost a family member or has been very sick. I never realized how important this was until I was on the receiving end of it after Ellie Grace was born. This is probably the easiest one for me and the one that my kids can actually help with. I usually just make a double portion of what my own family is having. I let my littles wash fruit or bake some goodies to pack up and I take them with me to drop the food off. In most cases, the families are not up for a lengthy visit, so we just hand it over at the door and make our way back home for our own dinner. I try to leave any instruction on a little note, just in case they don't eat it the night it is delivered. If something comes up, you can always call in something for delivery.

Prayer Warrior- Sometimes we will have people at church announce prayer requests or praises they would like to have lifted up. But for the "smaller" (nothing is too small or too big for God) everyday requests we tend to keep them to ourselves. Whenever God places someone on my heart or when I see a new mommy who looks just as frazzled as me, I try to make it a point to ask them "how can I pray for you?". I know that I have needed prayer but felt that it was too silly to ask for it, when I finally do, God comes to my rescue. Not that I am saying God can't answer my prayers before they are lifted up, but I think sometimes he is just waiting for me to humble myself and ask for help. Case in point, when Brooke was 2, I was struggling with potty training her. It was my first time doing it and was at a loss. I was talking to another mother about it and she asked me to be praying for her and her son who were going through the same struggles. I was amazed that she was praying for potty training!!! I thought I was the only one! So we started praying for each other as mothers and for our children, wouldn't you know that in less than a month both kids were completely out of diapers!

Mentorship- This is something that I have gotten most out of practice doing. Most of us know that God calls us, in Titus, to mentor younger women. Sometimes we think that this is just for the "elder" women in church but it is for all of us. There is always a younger woman to reach out to. It doesn't have to be anything super formal. In fact, I have found that the less formal, the better. Prayerfully consider who God would like you to invest in and make a connection with her. Invite her over to your house to hang out, take her to grab a coffee before church one Sunday, ask her to come with you to the grocery store, go watch her cheer at a football game. I know initiating the relationship can be intimidating, but what she really needs is an older friend she can talk to. Most of us have faced similar issues and insecurities, she needs to know you can come out on the other side a stronger person. I know one of the things I worried about when I taught middle school girls was that they would ask me a question and I wouldn't have an answer, but I learned that it's ok. God can teach you through them. When you honestly say "I don't know, but lets figure it out together." It shows them that we are still learning, we are human and only God has the all the answers. We show them that we love them and care about what is going on in their lives so much, that we are willing to devote our time to helping them find the answers. Just make sure you keep her trust. If there is something that you feel her parents should know about, offer to stand by her while she tells them. If she refuses, prayerfully consider how God would have you handle the situation.

All of these can be done in your home, with your children, and can have an eternal impact. I truly feel like you are blessed ten fold when you devote time to blessing others.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ready to Step Out

I started this blog almost 4 years ago. I had been a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half and wanted a place to share pictures of our family and document our journey. I have been posting a bit here and there throughout that time. I started another blog for a little while, as I wanted to get into design and event planning, it was pretty short lived. But lately I have been feeling like I need to focus "This Little Piggy". I began praying about what I should do. I am putting my voice out there for the world to read, but what is it saying?? What do I want to put my focus and energy into?? I still want to share our families journey, but more than that, I want to share how God is working in and around us. I want the words that are put here to glorify God. I want to write Truth and encourage others. I want to share fellow believers journeys as they are following after Our Heavenly Father. I want document my continuing testimony of Christ's love and grace in my life. I want my life and ministry to be an overflow of Christ's love into my family, my community and the world.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

It is my prayer that God will use this little blog to impact someones life, even if it's just my own.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

God's Grace Delivered

I have never really mentioned much about my pregnancy with Elliot. I didn't know how to put into words all that happened and what I was feeling. As I spend time thinking about Jesus and the grace that God gave us all through His birth, death and resurrection, my mind goes the grace that God showed me through Elliot's birth.

Matt and I stared trying to get pregnant in April of 2011. I had gotten pregnant with the first two without even trying so we were expecting to conceive fairly quickly. Three months in, without a positive test, I had become defeated and desperate. Every night I spent hours praying that we would get pregnant, for patience while we waited and for contentment if we never did. I started following an ovulation calendar, but even when we did everything science said would work, we got nowhere (this just goes to prove how much pregnancy is a miracle). In the middle of my struggle, the unthinkable happened... we lost our sweet niece, Desi, at 34 weeks gestation. This was extremely hard for our whole family, our eyes had been opened to fact that there are no guaranties in life. Even while mourning, my heart ached for my own child, the missing piece to our puzzle. We quietly continued trying until November came around. I knew that the absolute last thing I wanted was to get pregnant at the end of November and be due around Desi's birthday, it wouldn't be fair for my sister or my baby, but God had other plans. Just before Christmas I got the double lines I had prayed so hard for, but the news was met with many mixed emotions from everyone, including us. My tears and prayers of longing had turned into tears and prayers of anger and fear. How could this be God's timing when so many would be hurt? Why couldn't he have answered my prayers 6 months ago? Would he do to my baby what he had done to my sisters precious baby girl? I spent the first trimester in an angry daze; angry at God, angry at my family and angry at myself. I felt so alone, I had secluded myself. I saw my mood had begun to effect the older two children, so I put on a happy face. I began to convince myself that all would be ok as long as I was having a boy. God put another kink in MY plan and my 20 week appointment revealed a little girl. I tried everything in my power to make things better. I posted her ultrasound pictures around the house, talked to her and rubbed my belly all day, I still could not connect with her the way I did with Brooke and Maddux. I had accepted that she was coming in August, and that she was in fact a girl, but I still lived everyday with the fear that she would be taken from me before I even got to meet her. My prayers became pleas for forgiveness. Asking for protection over my little girl and comfort if I lost her. I wanted so badly to shop for baby items and set up a nursery, but I couldn't stand the idea of coming home to it empty handed. Desi's birthday came and we were able to put all of our focus on remembering her. It felt like God had finally answered one of my prayers and spared me from going into labor that day. A week later I was induced, and as an emotionally and physically draining pregnancy came to a close, I still worried about connecting with this child God was giving us. Then I was given a gift, God's grace. Even though I was so angry with God and doubted him every step of the way, He gave me a healthy, happy, beautiful baby girl. I was blessed with two amazing months of nursing in which that missing bond was built. My love for her is so great that it brings me to tears. It isn't just because of who she is but what she represents, a gift that I surely don't deserve. My God is so good and His timing IS perfect.

Today, my little Ellie Grace turns 4 months old and the last year seems like ancient history.

My Sweet Princess, My Saving Grace.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Warm Bellies!

I love soup,it's a fact! One of my absolute favorite recipes is my moms Broccoli and Cheese soup. This one is so quick and easy, I am planning on using it before candle light service next Christmas Eve. I have modified my moms version slightly to meet my families taste but it is still oh-so-yummy!

Broccoli andCheese Soup

1-32oz box of chicken broth
2- bags of frozen california style veggies
1-package smoked turkey sausage
1-small block Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
1-can diced tomatoes (if you like more bite, use a can of Rotel)

In a large pot, bring chicken broth, veggies and sausage to a boil. Turn off heat. Stir in cheese and tomatoes until cheese is creamy. Enjoy!

*Important note: don't bring the cheese to a boil or else it will curdle.

I like to pop a few Sister Scheubert dinner rolls into the oven while the cheese is melting and dinner is done!

I am linking up to Ashley's Holiday Recipe Party at Domestic Fashionista.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Under Construction!

I am going to working on updating the look and feel of my blog. So if you check by and it is a mess, please forgive me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

5 Gifts That Keep Giving

One of my favorite things about Christmas is giving gifts, whether it is a box of little treats for the neighbors, an awesome toy my kids have been asking for all year or shopping for something nice for the moms in my life. I think I get even more excited seeing others open presents, than opening them myself. Those gifts are even more special when I know that they are helping others as well. Here is a list of five companies that help my gifts go the extra mile.

Here is a little bit of what they are about:

 At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family. While the owner is no longer raising money for their Rwandan adoption (though they think more adoptions will come), the vision remains the same. We advocate for the orphan by:

◦Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for families. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.

◦Help families raise money for their own adoptions. We give 10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.

◦Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection also gives towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our beneficiaries.

◦The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.

To read more of their story and check out their gorgeous collection, click here or on the link above!

This ain't your average cup of joe! Just Love goes above and beyond by making sure their coffees are fair and sustainable. They also help adoptive families raise money.

In our first two years of business, we have given away over $200,000 to adopting families, orphan care, and non-profit organizations. Every bag of Just Love Coffee you purchase, every cup you drink at a café, is a blend of coffee and love. Thank you for helping us Share the Love!

To read more about them and their mission, follow this link.

 This sweet girl is donating part of her proceeds to the Moorhouse family to help with their adoption. I love supporting small businesses, it's just a plus that she is willing to help one families call to adopt. Not to mention how cute these prints are! I may need to get one for Elliot's room!
 This company has some of the most beautiful scarves I have ever seen! FashionABLE empowers women fleeing a life of prostitution, creating a better life for themselves and their children. Watch their video story here. Hurry over to view their stock, styles are selling out FAST!

I am loving these super cute bracelets made by at risk youth, paying their way through school. The Threads website says it best:

Threads is a cause driven business that changes the future of at risk youth. They come from various backgrounds, but all have one thing in common, they want to break the cycle. By employing them, we instill values of self reliance and hard work. They are paid fair wages for the bracelets they make, and in turn are able to pay their way through school. Many of Threads employees are first generation college students. They dream of becoming nurses, broadcasters, writers and engineers.

Your purchase will directly impact a student. Even beyond financial support, your belief in them is a symbol of hope and trust that they can achieve what for so long seemed impossible. By purchasing Threads you are wearing more than just a bracelet, you are wearing change.

Check them out here.

Now I would be lying if I said I found all of these shops by on my own, a big thanks to these bloggers who have featured these companies over the last month or so.

All three of these women have awesome stories and faith to move mountains. Check them out when you have time!

Happy Shopping everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seize the Moment

Stealing a candy cane from the Christmas tree.
Where normally, I would see two little ones getting into candy without asking, I decided to use the moment to help them link the shape of the candy cane to the shepherds at the manger. When it is hard for a babe to compete with Santa, it is nice to find ways to get them excited about the true meaning of Christmas.

It's also a lot more fun being a mommy who doesn't sweat the small stuff... something I should try to do more often.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Happy Medium

I have a confession... I have recently fallen prey to something I swore would NEVER enter my life, the worst four letter word I can imagine... D-I-E-T. Gasp!

I have never had an issue with weight, and at this very moment I am still comfortably inside the "suggested" weight range for my height and build, but I have not been happy with my body in a while. When the baby weight did not come off quick enough for me, I decided it was time to cut out sweets and carbs. Do you know where that got me? Even more unhappy and ashamed. Not ashamed because I was eating "healthier" but because for the first time in my life, food became the number one thing on my mind. Is it because of my inching closer and closer to 30? Is it because I know I will never look the way I did when I got married, before three kids? Is it because I fear I won't fit the image people expect from a fitness instructor?

This is insecurity at its finest folks, where a comment from my three year old (asking if I have a baby in my tummy) sends my emotions straight down the toilet... Where I get defensive when my five year old asks me why I hide in to closet to get dressed now... Where my husband asking to take me shopping sends me into a rage because I don't want him to see the double digits on my jeans. Yes, I have allowed Satan to creep his way into my life via my own self worth. Well from this point on I am giving it to God. I don't know what the happy medium actually looks like... I am sure God wants us to care for these vessels he gave us, but I KNOW he doesn't want us to turn it into an idol in our lives. I have to end this cycle before it begins, after all I have these two watching my every move.

I want them to realize how fearfully and wonderfully they were made.

Girl Behind the Blog- Most Embarrassing Moment

Hey Yall!

I know it has been way, way too long since I posted. Epic fail on the 21 Day challenge to myself. Although I got a lot done, I didn't finish everything on my list and wasn't able to sit down and blog about any of it!

Anyway, I am did another vlog for Girl Behind The Blog at 5oh Wifey. I love Ashley because she is a fellow Police wife and mom and Christian, so I feel like I can relate to all of her posts. So today they are sharing embarrassing or funny moments. I have plenty of those I could share, but for me there is nothing worse than embarrassing myself in front of the hottest guy I know... my husband! I don't even know if he remembers this story but it sure sticks out in my mind. I hope you can imagine how silly I felt at this very moment.

Ok, so I totally screwed up the ending for this one, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to edit it.

P.S. A close second was when I messed up on a dance routine for drill team, while we were performing in front of hundreds of people, in DISNEY WORLD!!! Wow, glad that I never had to see any of those people ever again.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects: Day 7- Freezer Clean Out

Well, this post is about 12 hours later than I had hoped to post it! I have been SOOO under the weather today! Anyway, I finally got my "chore" for the day done.

I remembered to get my before picture!!! Yes, lots of severely frost bitten venison in there.
After: Frozen fruits and veggies each have their own bin. We have been in the process of adjusting our diets to include more fruits and veggies... frozen is the next best thing when you cant get fresh!
The white bin holds our extra bread, below that is our red meats and on the very bottom is our chicken. When I worked in the restaurant that the bottom of the freezer is the safest place for uncooked poultry. The only thing in the door is our ice packs, I also plan on storing our seafood there when I go grocery shopping... which needed to be done yesterday!
So tomorrows post will probably be a little late as well but this weekend I will get back on track, I promise!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects: Day 6- Clean out the Fridge

The fridge is one of those things in the home that I probably don't clean out as often as I should. I sometimes forget how much use it gets on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, I throw out old food when I go to the grocery store and wipe up any spills that may happen, but as for deep cleaning... it slips my mind. Because cleaning and organizing do not come naturally to me, I hit up the Internet (pinterest mostly) for tips and tricks to help me get a system I can stick with.

I started by clearing out all old/expired food, then I took inventory of what I had left and thought about what I normally keep in my fridge. I went to Target with my list and purchased a few containers to help with organization. I had never thought of using plastic/glass bins in the fridge so I had to start fresh this time. When I got home, I pulled everything out and soaked the shelves and drawers in the bathtub while I wiped down the inside. After everything was sanitized, I started figuring out my shelf arrangement. Now there is a place for everything and everything in it's place. I just hope everyone else can keep it this way!!!

You will have to forgive me for not having before pictures, I got home from the store at 4 and had dinner date at 7... I was eager to get everything done in time and forgot.

From the top: I put the leftovers front and center so we remember they are there for lunches the next day. Also on the top shelf is my Velveeta box filled with baking chips and coconut shavings. All of our birthday candles are in a small glass vase so they don't get lost. The shelf below has bins for our lunch meats and cheeses.

We used to keep all of the lunch stuff mixed in a shallow drawer, but I keep so much of it on hand that we needed a some bigger containers. I decided to keep the drawer out all together to give more shelf space.

Just below that is another container with all of our salad dressings and a lazy susan with the condiments.

On the very bottom is where I plan on keeping my mason jar salads once they are prepped. I also read in my Internet research that the best way to store asparagus is in a cup of water, so that's what I did. Not much changed in the fruit and veggie drawers.

I picked up a few glass milk jugs to help keep them cold through all of the opening and closing of the door. I put the eggs in the top door shelf to keep them from getting squished.

The very bottom has containers with the kids snacks and my bar-b-q sauce packets (I'm kind of obsessed with Chick-Fil-A's BBQ)
 I am hoping that with everything compartmentalized it will be easier to pull everything out for a nice wipe down... And maybe, just maybe we will be able to keep it up!

Monday, November 5, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects- Day 5: Kelli's BOWtique Pt.2

Well, now that we have a surplus of bows, we need somewhere to put them. So I went shopping around the house (my new favorite things since REAL shopping is impossible with 3 kids).

I took the glass out of an unused frame, did a few measurements, and glued some strips of ribbon on it for clipping the bows.

Now we have all of our "fancy stuff", as Brooke likes to call it, at arms reach in the kids bathroom. Brooke spent a few hours in and out of the bathroom working on her "styles".
Unlike yesterdays project, I was able to get this one done during nap time!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects- Day 4: Kelli's BOWtique

This is how I spent my evening...

Watching Drop Dead Diva, knee deep in flowers, bows and hot glue!

Making these bad boys...

for my two little girls.

Yes, my awesome sister made me aware of the "supplies" section on Etsy, where I went nuts ordering bows and flowers in bulk. I think it is safe to say the girls now have a bow to match pretty much any outfit they wear. For less than $1 a piece, they were worth the time it took to glue the flowers together and add a clip to the back. They had been sitting in a box for over a week, but now they are one more thing checked off my to-do list!

Come to think of it, I may do one more bulk order of roses, bling and some feathers and make some for Christmas presents... off to Pinterest to get some ideas!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects- Day 3: Master Closet

I have a tendency to want to do projects around the house that are most important to me, go figure! But lately I have been trying to work on things that will benefit the other people in my family as well. One particular area my husband has really been wanting to change is our closet. My hero is not a small guy, but he was shoved back into the most narrow end of the closet. I took the day to pull everything out, sorted all of my clothes (any woman knows, you don't dare donate your husbands favorite 10 year old t-shirt) and rearranged a bit. Now I would love to knock out all of the existing shelves and do a 100% custom build but that is not in my expertise or budget! For now, this will do.

Before: Hubby's cave... no wonder he felt claustrophobic in there!

Before: I hate that this is so messy, but I am trying to keep it real! Shoes everywhere, bags of clothes that no longer fit on the floor and random junk on the top shelf. Not my proudest moment!

Before: Crisscrossing shelves and rods made for a very dysfunctional space. Oh and the mismatched hangers, chaos!

After: I took the far end of the closet, it isn't bad at all. I shopped the house for supplies. I love these felt hangers from Home Goods, they are very sleek and grip the clothing nicely so things aren't falling all over the floor ( I know my side looks a little sparse by girl standards but I am between maternity clothes and my normal size, so I am trying to make do with what I have.

After: Matt has room to breathe now! I took the hanging rods from the kids old shared closet (which was a bust if you forgot).

After: His work side. The shoe shelf is also from the shared closet.

After: I got this book shelf from the old play room. I made myself give away any shoes that didn't fit... but I have since gotten a pair of rain boots and new tennis shoes. If I keep my rain boots in the garage, I think I may be able to fit the tennis shoes in there somewhere. A tip for holding your boots up straight, roll a thick magazine up and stick them in the shoe. No more creased ankle I know this is a very large number of heels for a SAHM, but in my defense, my husband bought 90% of these without me even being there (great taste huh?). Have I mentioned how much I love him??
This was another project well worth the time it took to put together!

With the new season starting, are you ready to purge old items and make way for new stuff?

Friday, November 2, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects- Day 2: Re-organize Kithchen Cabinets

One of the many blessings that we got in this house was a large kitchen with quite a bit of cabinet space. When we moved in, I set everything up in a way that mimicked they way my mom organized dishes in my childhood home. It had been tested and approved, so it had to be the best solution, right?

 I spent that last 31 days following a series on Domestic Fashionista called 31 Days of Creative Homemaking. In Ashley's post about her kitchen layout, I realized that my ow kitchen is not as efficient as it could be. Not that moms way of doing things was wrong, it's just that her kitchen was laid out differently. I wanted to put everything in the spot where I would use it most. Then I began the great shuffle. Poor hubby woke up in another dimension! (Have I ever mentioned how great he is at putting up with my crazy antics? He just shrugs his shoulders and say "whatever you like best honey". I heart him!)

Anyway here are some pictures of my final layout.

I moved all of our dishes to the cabinets near the table. I put the everyday stuff on the lower shelf and the extras for parties up higher. I also put the silverware in the drawer below. I wanted it to be close to the eating area to make it easy for the kids to set the table.

For the most part I just cleaned out the pantry. After removing expired food items I organized everything so that there is nothing on the floor and so that I had room on my top shelf for all of my white platters and serving dishes.

I moved the cups next to the refrigerator. I did have them over the washer but then we were having to walk around the island, across the kitchen to get our drinks. We don't use the glass cups as often as we used to because they tend to get broken from little hands picking them up, so those are higher up, along with my stemware for special occasions.

In the cabinet below the cups, I put the storage containers. I like that they are right next to the fridge and the table. I usually serve dinner "family style", so all of the left overs can be packed up straight from the table. We also pack daddy's lunch at the island which is right next to this area so that is helpful.

Above the stove/oven is all of my baking supplies and spices. These were relocated from the cabinet by the table, it is nice to have things within arms reach while doing prep at the island or cooking on the stove.

Under that area are all of my pots and pans, pretty self explanatory. To the right are all of my candles and vases. I put them there mostly because they are the only space big enough to hold the tall items and because my gas shut off valve needs to be easily accessible. I used the broiler to make some salmon and the heat didn't seem to effect the wax at all.

Next to the dishwasher are two thin cabinets, I used one for all of my dish washing supplies and the other for my tea pot, pitchers and drink mixes.

Before the big move, under my island was not utilized very well. I had my trash can and cleaning supply bin down there... why?? So after a nice long scrub down, I moved my appliances and dutch oven down there. I always do my prep in this area but for some reason I was lugging my heavy Kitchen Aid across the room every time I wanted to bake. just having to lift it up is much better in my opinion!

Last, I moved my plastic bags and foil into a drawer, before they were in a skinny lower shelf but it was always a mess with bags all over the place and boxes falling over themselves. I hope this works out better for us.
I didn't think this project would ever end but after several hours and my Pandora Dance Cardio Mix... it is done! And I actually have a few empty cabinets and drawers! I had to catch myself going to the old layout when cooking dinner but I am sure after a few times unloading the dishwasher, we will all be used to it.

Have you ever changed up your kitchen to work better for you? Do you feel the need to?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

21 Days of Unfinished Projects- Day 1: Cloth Diaper Review

We only have 21 more days until Thanksgiving!!! That is three weeks y'all! Knowing that the holiday season is fast approaching, I have been wanting to get some projects done, and in a hurry. I figured the best way to hold myself accountable is to blog them all. So please if I miss a day, come rush my front door with your pitch forks and torches... I need to get my home to a complete stage so that I can focus on enjoying the holidays with family and starting our new business.

The first project I have been meaning to do is my cloth diaper review. I had promised it so long ago but never took the time to sit down and write it out. I am not a pro at reviewing products by any means, but i had so many people mention how much they learned from my first CD post, I figured I needed to finish the job.

They always say, "save the best for last", but I am the kind of girl who eats dessert before my dinner (rebel I know!). So here is my number one favorite... Jungle Roo!

Why do I love them? Well, for starters I have never had a single leak from these diapers. They have SO many snaps which is very important for diapering long term. Jungle Roo's fit from 10 lbs up to potty training. I love that the waist band can overlap, not just for fit but also when I am out and about I can roll up my diaper and secure it like you would a disposable. Also on the minky styles, there is this awesome extra strip of fabric just inside the leg elastic that prevents "blow outs". The only con I have is that I only have three of these :(. I would love to see some super cute flowery girl patterns but it is not worth the trade off... I will explain later.

My second favorite, Royal Fluff. These are awesome because they are a) really cute and b) very functional. They have the most snap options, I started using them at 10 lbs but they probably would have worked well from birth. They also have a very tailored pocket opening which is visually nicer than some others. I got my small wet bags from them as well. They have held up great which is more than i can say for my BumGenius pail liner from Babies R Us. The only thing that puts these a half step behind first place is that they don't have the extra protection from blow outs (not that we have had any major leaks from these either.)

Next are my SunBaby diapers. These I have had the longest. They are the best for getting started as they are good quality at GREAT prices. They offer some lovely designs but it does take close to 2 months for your order to be delivered. Another downfall is that there aren't as many snaps and you can't overlap the waist flaps (poopy diaper opening up in the wet bag... no fun!). In the top of the picture you will notice that extra white fabric poking out, that is from the pocket opening. It isn't very pretty but doesn't effect the overall function of the diaper. One feature that I would love to take from this diaper and add to the others is that the PUL (outer water-proof) fabric overlaps to the inside of the diaper about 1 inch. This is great for my tummy-sleeper because it helps protect her clothes from "overflow" (of the pee variety) while  sleeping.

My biggest disappointment has been with these beauties. Lotus Bumz have the cutest selection by far, the only thing is that this uncontrollable adorable-ness comes at a price. I don't know if the cotton outer absorbs moisture or if I have a defective bunch, but these are always leaking! This makes me really sad since they were he ones I looked forward to trying the most. I even got all my Baby Legs just to match these dipes. I still use these when I know she will be up for me to change her often but they are not really sleeping or outing approved. I am ordering some new, super absorbent inserts to try in these... maybe Elliot is just a REALLY heavy wetter?? I hope this fixes the problem because I really do love all of the fun patterns, plus they make up a third of my stash! Besides the cuteness, the structure is really good as well. Great amount of snaps and tailored look, I just think the outer fabric choice was less than optimal.

I know it sounds lame but for Christmas, Ellie Grace is getting new inserts and some more Jungle Roo and Royal Fluff diapers. She will only be 5 months so I don't think she will mind.

Do you cloth diaper and have a brand I should try? I would love some input!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My First Vlog!

Ok, so I know I have a lot to catch up on but humor me for a day and check out my first ever vlog. I am linking up with Erin over at Living in Yellow (who is totally adorable by the way!) for The Girl Behind the Blog- Show and Tell Link Up. I must have been living under a rock for a while because this is the first I have heard of it.

Anyway, today the girls are talking about what three things they can't go through their day without. In all fairness I cut off the cable and deleted my Facebook account, so I have fewer distractions while studying my trainer certification material, so that is why my phone is no longer on the list.

Please pardon my crazy flu voice and wild hair... I also say ummm a lot. There is no real excuse for that, it is just a bad habit intensified by my nervousness. I hope it gets better with practice but I can't promise it will ever totally go away. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Taking the Plunge!

You know the term "never a dull moment"? Well, never has a term rung more true for the Ham family than that one. As if welcoming our third child, Elliot Grace, into the world wasn't enough, God has been working other things into our family. You see, back in August when Matt was off to help me with the kids, he and his best friend were approached about their interest in buying a gym. Both of the families started praying hard as to what God would have us do. Matt and I felt like this opportunity was an answer to a long line of prayers for Matt to be able to spend more time with the family, the other family felt like it may be more than they are able to take on at this time. Then the current owners decided that they weren't as ready to let the gym go as they thought, so the deal was pulled before it even really got going.

When Matt and I heard this, instead of being disappointed or upset, we felt peace about it... but we also felt that desire to continue pursuing the idea of opening our own gym. We continued praying that if it was God's will, that He would keep us both in agreement about the next steps forward and that he would open doors to make it possible. We both decided that the first step would be for us to get certified as personal trainers and take a nutrition course. After much research we decided to go with the school that has been around for the longest and has the best reputation, ACE fitness (American Council on Exercise). This is a non-profit organization that offers many continuing education courses after we become certified. One program I am looking forward to most is the group fitness and Matt is really excited about the Sports Performance Training, so he can open the gym up to high school boys during summer.

Next, we started thinking about names. We had a few ideas that had been tossed around several years back, when the dream of owning a gym was "when we retire". They were clever plays on our last name and Matt's profession, such as Hamstrings and Outlaw fitness, but they just didn't feel right. I spent all night talking with my SIL (who has a marketing degree) and she had some great ideas too. That night before I went to bed, I prayed "God, I know this may sound trivial in the grand scheme of things but can you help us find a name that portrays the image we want to set forth." We already know that we want to make it clear to anyone who sees us to know that our focus is God first, family second. The next morning, as I was waking up the word iron popped into my head. It fit seeing how they call working out "pumping iron". I got on Facebook, as I do most mornings, and a friend of mine had posted a verse on her news feed. It read "Just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17", I knew this wasn't coincidence. This is just what we want to say to our clients, we want a place where people develop new relationships and encourage one another to be the best that they can be, not just with fitness but in all aspects of life. A quick google search showed that the name had not been taken and so it is with much eagerness that we are going to file our DBA as "Iron Fitness Training Center".

Our next step will require a lot of FAITH on our parts and PRAYERS from friends and family. This dream all hangs in the balance of finding a small business loan. We have to trust that if we cant find someone to invest in us, then it just isn't part of God's plan, and if we do find the money then we have to believe that God will allow us to be profitable enough to pay back the loan. Both scenarios are scary to think of but I know that God knows better than we do! Our hope is that no matter what happens, God will receive all the glory.

So next week we begin studying for our personal trainer license and apply for our name. If you find yourself thinking about us, please say a quick prayer for us and our journey. We still have so far to go, but we are trying to take it one step at a time... right behind God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Trip to the Library!

We went to the library for the first time yesterday and boy did the kids love it! I have not been feeling well at all lately so I figured it would be good for all of us to get out of the house. It was a nice distraction for the kids to enjoy Toddler Time. They had stories and songs and crafts... oh my! We also got our first library card which was the highlight of Brooke's day. She really is a girl after my mom's own heart. When we were driving home I asked what her favorite part of the day was, she replied "The part when we first walked in and I saw all those books, it was just perfect." Each of them picked out a book and as we made our way to check out we noticed these backpacks that had a book and coordinating puppet, so we couldn't pass those up. I only got a few pictures with my phone because I couldn't carry my big camera and Elliot at the same time.

Maddux listening to the story at toddler time.

Brooke found a nice spot to preview her book before we brought it home.

In the end, we came home with a Toy Story and Tinkerbell comic book and Author Gets a New Puppy.
As I am sure you can guess, we plan on going back next week!