Writing and the Unknown

Finding my passion after being a mom for 4 and a half years is hard. Like, really hard. I’ve been finding myself pretty restless lately. Not in the ‘I’m tired of my life’ sort of way, but the ‘I’m ready for what’s next but I have no idea what that is’ sort of way.

I know that I’m not going back into photography after the kids start school, for several reasons. But what I don’t know is what I will be doing. I’ve thought about just taking some time off, but I’m already getting that itch to start something now. And now is the time to start searching for what that something may be.

Do you ever get that feeling of starting a new project you are really excited about? That passionate feeling that makes you want to dive in, head first with everything you have? I’ve been getting that feeling lately. But I have NO idea what my project is. It’s been a strange revelation for me in the past few weeks, feeling passionate, but having not idea about what.

I’ve been going through ideas on things that I want to do, or could do, or that might be fun to do. Nothing is sticking so far. Except writing. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, though I never thought for money. I even wrote a book in high school. Yep – a whole novel. But I shelved it, never planning to do anything with it after it was graded.

Recelently, however, I’ve been getting back into it a lot. And more than just blogging. I’ve signed up to take a few writing classes. Carving out time in each week, I’ve been working on a few side writing projects. I want to hone my craft a bit before I really dive in again, but everywhere I go and everything I seem to do, writing comes up. It’s there in the back of my mind without me even realizing it. It is something that I need to persue. A bug that’s been inside of me since I was 8. I think it’s time to give it a chance.

I have another site, Saturday Morning Coffee Break, where I sometimes post some of my work. I’ve been working on a few essays, short stories, and poems. I’ll post there periodically if you’re interested in reading anything.

My mind, eyes and heart are open to this. And if it turns out this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing, then I guess at least I’ll have a little fun in the meantime.


The Art of Letting Go (and other tales of people pleasing)

This morning, I was supposed to speak at the mom’s bible study at my church. However, my son woke up with a 103* fever, so we had a movie day instead. While I won’t give back those cuddles and snuggles for anything, I was really bummed that I didn’t get to share my story.

The study is going through Lysa TerKeurst’s book The Best Yes. This weeks topic was on people pleasing and the awkward disappointment of saying no. I thought maybe I’d share my story with you today, instead.

A while ago, I was part of a group of women. I was excited to be a part of this group. Our kids were going to be best friends, and these were friendships that I was going to have the rest of my life. Because these were the ladies I belonged with.

At least that’s what I kept telling myself. Especially when it got hard.

It was time consuming – we met several times a week. And when you have a group of ladies – especially if there are any ladies with insecurities – it’s going to get hard, and conflicts will happen. It’s part of our sinful nature.

And, honestly, I probably had enough insecurities for the entire group.

A couple of these women, I really did connect with, bond with, and my life was better for their friendships. But there was one relationship I just couldn’t make work, hard as I tried. I seemed to be always saying the wrong things, doing the wrong things. Nothing I did helped – I still felt very disliked and unwanted. Which made me want to try harder. It’s the people pleasing way! If you try hard enough, long enough, eventually they’ll like you, right??

It got the point that I would be in tears several times a week. I would get nauseous thinking about any part of the group because it always led back to this one relationship – and I was constantly thinking about it. It began to take a toll on my family. I was dwelling so much on this cause of friction, that I wasn’t even really spending time with my family when I was at home. I was consumed.

It was actually my husband who approached me first about maybe deciding to bow out. He saw what it was doing to me. My first response was a hurried, “NO!” I wasn’t going to give up. I could make it work. It was worth it.

But the more I thought about it, prayed about it, the more peace I felt about not being in the group anymore. It was a really hard decision for me, since it affected more than just me. But having this peace, and finally knowing what I should do, only meant that I was setting myself up for confrontation.

Yes, confrontation. To a people pleaser like me, everything feels like confrontation. I used to avoid asking my old apartment manager to change my porch light for months, because to me that felt like confrontation. How in the world was I going to tell 7 women that I no longer wanted to be in their group??

I held it in for several weeks; not saying anything. I sat through several meetings with them, as they planned dates and ideas for future events. My stomach turned the entire time. I wasn’t sure how I was going to face these women, and have them hate me for leaving them.

Finally, several weeks after deciding to leave the group, I decided to start small. Telling on person at a time is surely easier than telling them all, right? So one day, while visiting with one of the ladies I just sort of blurted it out. It was pretty much: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m out.”

Way to go, Barbara. Super tactful. I hated the way I said it, but at least it was out there, no long only bottled inside of me. The first hurdle was done. The next few people I told it became a little easier, each with a similar response: a little schock, but mostly acceptance. They all appreciated that I had to do what was best for my family.

Then I told another woman with whom I’d become good friends. Her response: “I don’t accept your decision.” I know it came from a good place, but it brought up so many fears in  me.

Now she’s going to hate me.
She’s going to think I don’t want to be around them.
She’s going to turn the entire group against me.
We aren’t going to be friends anymore.
I’m not going to have any friends after this.

But it was my decision, not hers. I wasn’t changing it.

Once I left, my biggest fear came true. I no longer saw or spoke to the ladies of that group. Part of it was me, I hadn’t sought them out, but neither did they seek me out.

And I was okay!

My family time became so much better. I was focusing on my kids, my marriage. And though I learned that the friendships that I thought were stronger than the circumstance weren’t, the friendships I had outside of the group grew tremendously stronger and better.

So much good has come out of my NO. There’s always a sense of loss, but I cannot deny that it was a place that originally I wanted to be, not where God wanted me to be. I had put my self worth into what these few women thought of me, instead of putting it into who I am as Christ’s daughter, as a wife, as a mom, as a friend.

One of my favorites quotes by Brene Brown:

“When we can let go of what other people think and our own story, we gain access to our worthiness — the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the part of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving. Our sense of worthiness — that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging — lives inside of our story.”

And I don’t think it was coincidence that shortly after all this happened, I read Brene’s words. Or that shortly after that I was searching for a new journal and found one that said ‘You are ALWAYS Enough’ boldly on the front.

When we let God work through our insecurities, because really, that’s all people pleasing is, and with God’s help push through them, we can open ourselves up to so much – love, grace, forgiveness, hope.


Summer is in full swing, the days are getting hotter, and the kids are getting restless. Despite all this, I love this time of year! I love the sunshine (sometimes summer is the only chance we get to see it!) and being outside so much!

Last week, we got to spend some time with family in Alaska. The kids had never been, and it’d been about 8 years since Darren and I had gone. It was great to see family and we had a blast! The kids loved playing at the beach during low tide. They got to see starfish, sea anemones, crabs, clams, scallops and, of course, lots of mud! Flinging mud was definitely a favorite activity.



Now that we’re back, we’re trying to find a new summer routine. Parks, play dates, outings. It’s going to be a great summer, and there are lots of adventures waiting for us!

{Meal Planning on a Budget}


I’ve recently gotten the same question being asked quite frequently: How do you do meal planning while sticking to a budget?

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It’s actually not as bad as you think! Here’s the steps I take to making a great week of meals, keeping my pantry stocked all while sticking to my budget. I’ve also included a few tips to help keep you from overspending.


1. Gather regularly used recipes. Whether this be in paper form in a cookbook, or digital form (Evernote, Keep, Paprika or another recipe keeping app – or just write them down!), just get your recipes easily accessible in the same place.

2. Write out each day and the corresponding meals for each. Seriously. If you actually write out (or in your app) each day, it will be better to organize it, visualize it, and it’ll be more handy come the day of when you’re wondering what’s for dinner. I do this for lunch and dinner (two separate lists in the same app). I don’t worry about it so much for breakfasts, as many days we just do cereal or toast and fruit since we’re on the run.

3. Go through and add meals day by day. After you add one meal, go over the recipe at least twice and add ingredients you need to your grocery list. (I go to two grocery stores – one for produce and one for everything else, so I go over it at least twice to make sure I didn’t forget anything.) Once you add another day, you can just keep your lists going. It also helps for checking to see if you can get meals that overlap ingredients – a great budget saver! If it works better for you, just make your meal planning list and double check recipes at the end.

4. Recheck the pantry. I sometimes think I have something and don’t, or think I don’t have something and buy too much. When making your list, make sure to recheck it to avoid missing something or getting duplicates. While you’re in there, check on the levels of your staples – flour, sugar, eggs, sauces, condiments, etc.

Tips to stay on a budget:

– Buy your meat in bulk. Meat is typically by far the most expensive item on your grocery list (unless you count the wine). We buy all of our chicken and our beef at Costco to cut down on how much we spend at the grocery store each week. Even if you buy solely organic – Costco’s got it! One package of each will easily get us through a month.

– In fact, try to stock up on a few things at places like Costco. We eat a lot of cheese. A LOT. Therefore, we buy it from Costco. We also also get things like whole milk and pasta.

– Set a budget cap by week. I used to set a budget by the month, but quickly realized that by the last week of the month, we were eating tacos all week because they are so cheap. Instead, set a specific amount per week. Don’t go over that. Anytime you do, you cut into the follow week’s allotment. If you find that you are a little tight, try to figure out what you can cut down on. Maybe you have oatmeal at home, so you don’t really need that box of cereal this week. And *gasp!* it’s okay to forgo the wine or beer (or any beverages) for a week! Also, don’t be too strict with yourself. Be realistic. If you have a family of 5, you can’t get a full weeks worth of food (or at least GOOD, HEALTHY food) for $40. It’s okay to set it a little higher. If you find you’re continually spending less, then set your limit lower.

– Don’t be afraid to shop at more than one store. I typically use grocery shopping as ‘me’ time. I go every Sunday night after the kids are in bed. It allows my husband some free time to himself at home, and I get out of the house kid free! Because of this, I like to take my time. My first stop is usually the coffee shop. Hey, a girl needs her weekly treat, right? After that, I hit up the first store (Trader Joe’s for me) to pick up my produce. I’ve found that the produce here is actually a little cheaper and much better quality than my grocery store. (I shopped around a bit before I figured out which place to go.) I’ll usually get my spices here, too. Then I hit up my local grocery store (I go to Fred Meyer’s) to get the rest of my list. (And don’t forget your reusable bags! Stores around here, at least, give you $0.05 each for using your own bags.

– Don’t underestimate the value of coupons. Take 10 minutes (yes, even just 10 minutes can help!) before you go to check the online weekly ads of your stores and other sites like Coupon.com to see if there are any coupons for items on your list. I used to coupon like crazy – get the paper, cut out everything I thought there was a slim chance I MIGHT use and had it all organized in a large 2″ 3-ring binder. What? Who has time for that with toddlers?? Now, I just take a few minutes to do a quick check to see if there are any items on my list on sale or have coupons. The trick for sticking to a budge here is to ONLY get coupons for items already on your list. If you’re like me, I find I’m a target for impulse buying. If I have a coupon for something I don’t necessarily need but find it on sale as well, I’ll end up buying as much as I can and then I’ve just used up some of my weekly budget on things I don’t need.

What are your tips? Is there anything you do for your family to help keep you on track with meals and budgets?

Happy meal planning!

{Play Stations | Sick Day}

We’re home sick from preschool today. I was pretty bummed. The kids really get a lot out of it, get to experience new things and love playing with the other kids.


Since we’re pretty much house-bound, I decided to create some play stations for them and see how it went. I set up four play areas; a shape sorter, a stacking toy, a pounding musical toy, and a lot of safari animals. Though after less than 10 minutes they were done with the stations and started combining the toys, it was fun to watch them run from station to station seeing what was next and trying everything out. It’s not like they were new toys, but to see them in a new light make them seem new and exciting. I didn’t get very many photos – they were moving so fast, and I didn’t have my camera out, so I grabbed my point and shoot and quickly took a few shots.



I love playing with these two; they make it so much fun. It’s so awesome to get to watch their personalities and their imaginations grow and develop.