MFM: Week 48, Day 5

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Week 48, Day 5 (-28 pounds)

Heart: My sister-in-law is pregnant and her shower was last weekend! She’s having a boy and I couldn’t be more excited for her! In keeping with my home-made gifts plan, I racked my brain for ideas for baby boys. I know that there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of diy gift ideas for babies. But, she already has a boy. So, I needed ideas that would be cute, but not just add tons more clothes to her already overwhelming pile of boy’s clothes.

I opted for personalized burp rags (because you can always use fresh, new burp rags), a couple of the cutest bibs I’ve ever seen (I found the photo as I scrolled through Pinterest and used what I had/knew to come up with the pattern), and some crib shoes (because this kiddo will need something to keep his socks on this winter). The burp rags are about as easy as it gets- they’re just rectangles. I’ve done bibs before, this was just a new take on a tried and true gift. But the shoes… oh my word, I won’t be trying shoes again for a while. I definitely should have followed a tutorial for the shoes, since it turned out I didn’t have any prior knowledge to work from! They turned out “photo-cute”, but in real life you can see all of the flaws. Fortunately, they were given in love, so those flaws are easily overlooked, right? The gifts were a hit, and my sister-in-law was very touched that they were hand made.

Soul: I just started a new study with my mom, sister, and niece. We’re studying a Joyce Meyer book and I’m so excited! My sister hasn’t lived close for years, so I can’t wait to Skype once a week and talk about how the study is affecting our lives! Few things connect two people like spiritual growth. I think this is due in huge part to the vulnerability that is required when you’re stretching and growing yourself. You drop the façade and allow the people around you to see the raw, broken, hopefulness that connects to their own raw, broken, hopefulness. There’s an air of humility when you drop the comparisons for compassion, the perfection for possibility, and the fear for faith! I am so excited to start this journey with three women I adore so much!!

Strength: I looked at the week number today and realized I’m one month from a year into this!! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year! I need to go reread a few of my first posts. But, here I am, 48 weeks into this journey and down 28 pounds! I’ll take it! But, far more important, I feel great! I feel healthier and I even feel stronger! About 4 weeks ago I started working out to videos at nap time. I know, I know, I swore up and down that videos weren’t the way for me, but it turns out I’m learning a lot about myself through this journey! Some videos aren’t for me… that’s for sure! In fact, yesterday I did a legs workout that started out great, but I hated it by the end. The exercises put pressure on my back, which resulted in me trying to modify them in a way that wasn’t working my muscles at all! So, I won’t use that video again. But, I’ve actually found a lot of videos I really like! There’s a kickboxing one that I love! I also found a phenomenal arms workout. I’m still finding new ones and mixing them in with my favorites, but the thing is, I’m doing it! I made a deal with myself that if I work out, I can watch a tv show during nap time. It’s one of the first times in my life that I rewarded myself with something other than food! I haven’t blogged about it because I’m human and I was so afraid I’d post it, people would see it, and I’d hate it and quit after 2 days. But, here I am, on week 5 and my husband can tell you there are off-days that I choose to work out purely because I want to! There are even days I choose to work out twice! I’m definitely not claiming to be addicted, but I am learning to really enjoy feeling healthy and strong!


MFM: Week 47, Day 4

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Week 47, Day 4 (-25 pounds)

Heart: I made a Christmas present this week. In June?! Yep. But, before you give me too much credit, it’s not because I’m some incredi-mom who gets all of her Christmas gifts done in the summer. It’s because my sister is moving and I refuse to pay $75 to ship this particular gift to her later (it’s very heavy). So, I finished it early enough that she can pack it up with everything else in her house, move it with her and  then open it in December. What is this super heavy gift that was awesome enough to finish 6 months early??

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Giant Jenga!! My nephew has been hinting at it for a couple of years, but the sets are expensive! So, this year, with my goal of making most of my gifts, I researched Giant Jenga and found that it is beyond simple to make!! In fact, here’s a quick tutorial if you want to make this awesome gift for about $30!!


5- 2x3x96 studs (I chose 2×3 to stick with the original ratio of the Jenga game)

1- crate (9.5×12.5×17.5)

1- 2” unfinished cube

6- paint samples in a variety of coordinating colors

Sander and lots of sandpaper


  1. Cut the boards into 54- 7.5” pieces. I would recommend placing a stop on your saw at 7.5” so your pieces are exact. You should have enough board to skip over any large knots.
  2. Sand all of the boards smooth and sand off any stamps. This step makes the pieces slide easier and prevents slivers.
  3. Paint just the ends of each piece. Make sure both ends of the same piece are the same color. You should paint 9 pieces of each color, for a total of 54 pieces in 6 colors.
  4. Paint each side of the cube a different color. I taped the edges of mine, but that’s optional.
  5. Once everything is dry, stack the pieces on your crate (which serves as a stable base) and have fun!

You can play it as regular Jenga, or you can play Rainbow Jenga. To play rainbow Jenga, roll the cube to begin your turn. Then, select a piece that matches the color rolled.

There is no finish put on the pieces because finishes tend to stick to themselves and, after reading lots of articles about making Giant Jenga, the overwhelming suggestion is that they slide best as raw wood.

I’m so happy with how it turned out, and my kiddos are begging me to make one for our family! They don’t know the materials are already sitting in the garage… 😊

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Soul: It is well with my soul. I feel like I have learned so much about my faith over the past several months. From spending some much-loved time in the gospels and learning about who Jesus was from scripture rather than just what I’ve been told, to discovering that the Holy Spirit is so much more than the Jimmy Cricket-like conscience I’ve treated Him as. I’ve discovered that I’m even more excited about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus after digging deep into His story than I ever was at surface level! I’ve learned that there is power in me, through the Holy Spirit, to accomplish anything that God asks! Today, I’m finding peace in marinating in everything I’ve been learning. I know that God has something coming up. I don’t know what, but I can feel something. So, for now, I’m just waiting in this peace and preparing myself for whatever may come.

Strength: I haven’t lost anything this week, but I’m trying not to feel discouraged. I read an article this week that spoke to plateaus. The article spoke to the fact that plateaus are the point at which most people give up, because they aren’t seeing the results. However, it also pointed out that plateaus are a natural, normal part of virtually any process, including weight loss. In fact, a plateau can be encouraging in that it signals a specific amount of progress. Plateaus rarely happen immediately in a process, but after a lot of excellent progress. Now isn’t the time to give up, it’s the time to appreciate just how far I’ve come and look forward to where I’m still going! Because I had a slow-down in my weight loss, I began to look for other ways to monitor my success. I feel better, I look better, but I also discovered that I fit into some of the pants I wore when I was my favorite me, physically! It was a wonderful reminder that my journey is so much more than a number journey!

MFM: Week 45, Day 4

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Week 45, Day 4 (-23 pounds)

Heart: I’ve started subbing! I absolutely adore being home with my kiddos and am definitely not ready to go back to teaching full-time, but if I’m being honest, I love to teach! I’ve missed it! So, I prayed and talked with my husband and decided that subbing might be the perfect solution! It allows me to work one or two days per week and, although it pays less, I won’t have any lessons to plan, or any of the stress that comes with grading. I’ll just decide if I want to work then show up, do what I love and go home! I’ve subbed once a week for the past three weeks and it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be! In fact, I think it’s been really good for my kiddos, too. It makes the days I am home much more smooth and productive!

Speaking of productive, I got it in my head that I wanted to make Baby girl a summer top and as I walked by my pile of scrap material this week, I saw the perfect material! So, I took a few quick measurements and started cutting! I decided to make her an apron-style top that looks like a normal shirt in the front, but has a criss-cross back. As I was working I found that since it wasn’t a stretchy material, her head wasn’t fitting super well. So, I cut a slit in the front neckline and added a cute pink bow! This was such a fun shirt to sew! As I was sewing the hem, I found that it’s just one long stitch! Because the top crisscrosses and connects at the shoulders, the neckline, arms, and hem are all on the same stitch! I started at the neckline, and just kept stitching until I got back to the exact same spot! Then I had a moment of giddy giggling at how cool that was and dubbed this shirt the “Mobius Top”! The shirt turned out so cute and Baby girl seemed to love it! She would hold the bottom and sort of twirl… you know how a girl moves in a top she loves! Momma win!

Soul: This week, my husband’s grandfather passed away. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve dealt with death, but it is the first time Banayner has. Tim and I were just talking about how cool it is, as parents, that we get to experience life from the perspective of a child. Their first taste of ice cream, riding a bike, watching a thunderstorm. Having kiddos means getting to re-experience these like it’s the first time. It brings back the emotions, memories, feelings. This week we’ve been experiencing death through the eyes of our curious, yet confused six-year-old. He’s trying to reconcile the idea of not seeing Gramps with the reality he knows. We’ve talked about death, but he’s never experienced it before. He’s got lots of questions, the first of which was, “Since Gramps is alive with Jesus, how come we can’t see him?” I was convicted by the confidence that he has in the grace of Jesus. He didn’t ask “if”. How often do I ask “if” rather than being confidence in Christ? I think God has a lot to teach me through my children, starting with the hope we have in life after death.

Strength: I’m a couple of months into my no GPS (grains, potatoes, sugar) eating plan and I still love it. However, there have been a few times that I’ve allowed myself to “cheat”. Typically, I’m a you-can’t-cheat-at-ALL kind of girl, but those diets have never stuck. Since I want this one to be a lifestyle more than a “diet”, I’m allowing myself the freedom to decide if something is worth eating. The other night we ordered pizza and I had the toppings, which was fine…. Mostly. But I really wanted a piece of pizza, with the crust. So, I allowed myself one piece, only one piece, with the crust. It was good, I was satisfied, and the best part was realizing it wasn’t really any better than just the toppings! Actually, the best part was how easily I fell right back into my eating plan. Two years ago, on a similar diet, I would have felt like I screwed the whole thing up and given up on the diet completely. But this time, I saw it for what it was… something I wanted, something I knew wouldn’t settle well on my stomach (and it didn’t), but not the end of the world. So, I woke up the next morning and it didn’t even cross my mind to go back to my old habits. I like this eating plan, I like that I’m losing weight, and I love the way I feel!

MFM: Week 44, Day 2

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Week 44, Day 2

2017-05-08 16.52.31

Heart: Happy Mother’s Day a few days late! We made flower crosses for moms/grandmas this year. The boys helped come up with the idea and with some of the gluing. They turned out beautiful! We had a very busy Mother’s Day, running around delivering flowers to moms and grandmas. But, the evening was set aside for a relaxing bubble bath while Tim and the kids made dinner. At least, that was the plan… God has a wonderful sense of humor and decided to use Mother’s Day this year to remind me of just what it means to be a Mommy. So, instead of a relaxing evening, we had the usual “Mommy, I need help wiping!” and I got the added bonus of changing sheets twice and cleaning up messes resulting from both vomit and blood. Gag…

Being a mom is seldom relaxing, rarely quiet, bubble baths are almost never solo, but it’s still the best adventure I’ve ever been on! As much as my instinct was to be upset that I didn’t get to have the relaxing, pampering Mother’s Day that others had, there was utter joy in being reminded what it means to be Mommy. I absolutely adore my kiddos and wouldn’t change a single thing about my life. Not the poop, vomit, blood, none of it! Because, at the end of the day, I’ve never met three people with more joy, love, and hope than my kids. So, after a crazy, comical Mother’s Day, I sent those precious little ones off to bed as they hollered back, “Mom! I love you more than a hundred kisses!”

Soul: We’re reading through the four gospels at church right now. By that I mean that I get a text reminder every day to read another couple of chapters. It’s not just our pastor speaking on the gospels, but the congregation reading them also. It’s been so interesting! I’ve read through the individual gospels a few times, but never back to back in 6 weeks. I can’t believe how similar some of them are (e.g. Mark and Matthew). But, it’s also been interesting to look at the slight differences in them. I still have one book left (John, my favorite!) and then I hope to look back and compare all of them.

Strength: I keep pinching myself… I feel like I should be sick of my new eating plan, but I’m not! I’m still trying new recipes, but we’ve also settled on several “go-to” recipes when we’re stuck. I’ve also pretty much figured out our grocery shopping, which is awesome! We buy mostly the same things every time and usually one or two “special ingredients” for a specific, new meal we plan on trying. I’ve found that it’s gotten a lot simpler now that we have “usual” foods in the house to snack on. We always have hard-boiled eggs, cheese, plain yogurt, pickles, various nuts and seeds, fresh veggies, and fruit. I think having options that are easy, familiar, and always available has made an enormous difference! It’s like I’m forming a habit.

MFM: Week 37, Day 4

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Week 37, Day 4 (-10 pounds)

Heart: Well, I no longer have a baby. My sweet Baby girl turned one yesterday and entered the world of toddler-hood! We finished her birthday present, a busy board, and she loves it!! She and the boys haven’t stopped playing with it since we gave it to her. Well, aside from nap time when Momma tells them they can’t make noise. Turns out this super awesome gift is also extremely loud!

The board is made up of a 24”x48” board we cut into the main board (24”x36”) and two leg pieces. I then sanded and stained everything. One side of the board is personalized with Baby girl’s name painted at the top and a big mirror (20”x24”). The other side has all kinds of things to tinker with: a belt, quick release snap, seat belt, door stopper, bell, handle with rings, wheel, deadbolt, zipper, door knocker, light switch, rings for lacing ribbon, door knob, Velcro, and a chain latch. Most of the items were pretty straightforward to put on the board, but there were a few that made me realize how very much I appreciate my husband!

This was another homemade gift in my year of doing mostly homemade gifts and it was an utter success! I can’t wait to open up my Excel spreadsheet to update and start planning the next gift! Yes, I’m a nerd and proud of it!

Soul: In Acts this morning I was reading about the requirements of those who become Christians. In this particular passage, there were many who thought that Gentile converts (non-Jewish) needed to be circumcised to truly follow Christ. Paul “disagreed vehemently,” as my translation put it, and went to the elders of the church to help make a decision about it. Ultimately, they decided that if God had chosen to give His Spirit to the Gentiles, they shouldn’t make it any harder for Gentiles to follow Christ and determined circumcision a nonissue. It got me thinking about things that we make issues out of that God might consider nonissues. When it came to circumcision, He poured out His Spirit regardless, because it’s not the law that saves us, but the grace of Jesus. I wonder what rules we have for non-Christians that we think they need to follow to be ‘real’ Christians. Things that God would look at us and say, “Are you really making it harder for them to enter into a relationship with me? Because of something so trivial?” The grace of Jesus was poured out for everyone! Maybe we would do better to follow Peter’s example and make it as simple as possible for people to encounter Jesus. Maybe we should let the Holy Spirit do His work in the lives of those who have changes to make. Maybe we just need to love people the way Jesus loves us… completely, unconditionally, and selflessly.

Strength: I encountered the phrase “insulin resistance” this week as I was surfing the internet. I was incredibly intrigued and began researching it, its causes, symptoms, etc. As I was reading about it I kept thinking, “This is exactly what my Dr. has mentioned, but without naming it.” My Dr. has told me for years that my body doesn’t process carbohydrates well. In truth, I’ve noticed the most significant weight loss when I cut carbs. However, up to this point, I’ve only ever cut carbs for the purpose of weight loss. As I was researching this time, I began thinking in terms of how my body processes food. Maybe, if my body doesn’t process carbohydrates well, I shouldn’t eat them. Not because I might lose weight, but because my body may actually begin to function properly without them.  So, I’m trying a new way of eating, not a diet, because in my mind that implies temporary and I fully intend for this to be my new normal. If my body doesn’t process grain well, it isn’t going to process it well in a year, or in ten years. It just may be that for my body to function as it was designed to function, I need to avoid grain. In fact, I’m avoiding grains, potatoes, and sugars right now to see how it affects me. I still get some carbs from fruit and such, but my focus for now is on eating more protein.

Day 2 of this new way of eating and I love it! I thought my children were going to be a hard sell, but they cleaned their dinner plates both nights. In fact, last night Bubby even said, “Mom, this is the best dinner ever!” They’re not eating exactly like I am, they still have potatoes and a few grains, but they’re definitely eating more veggies! We’ve tried roasting broccoli, carrots and cauliflower and the kids loved them all! It’s also been helpful that I haven’t been eating ‘meals’ per se, but more or less just getting a small something to eat whenever I feel hungry. A hard-boiled egg, carrot sticks, an apple with peanut butter, etc. We’ll see how this goes, but for now I feel good!

MFM: Week 36, Day 4

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Week 36, Day 4

Heart: I’m getting ready for Baby girl’s first birthday party… are you kidding me?! She started walking this week and hasn’t slowed down since! I can’t believe my baby is getting so big! For her birthday, I decided to do a fairly simple cake in the shape of a ‘1’ and just put colored sugar on top with an ombre effect. A few days ago, I prepared the colored sugar and it came out absolutely beautiful! I made 6 variations of pink. Beginning with white (I left one jar uncolored) I then added one drop of pink food coloring to one jar, 2 to the next and so on until I added 5 drops to the last jar making it the darkest pink. I then placed them in separate foil ‘boats’ on a cookie sheet and let them dry out in the oven. I set the oven to 350°F and when it was hot, placed the cookie sheet into the oven and turned the oven off. After 10 minutes, I took them out and let them cool. Then I sealed them in containers until I’m ready to make the cake! My plan for the cake is to frost it, then make 6 ‘stripes’ using only half of each color and leaving a gap between (about an inch and a half). Then I will take half of the remaining sugar from two adjacent colors and mix it, placing it between the two colors to provide a nice transition from one to the next. This should result in a beautiful pink ombre cake. *Fingers crossed*

A note about the sugar: it does not come out of the oven ‘glittery’ by any means, but it has a slight glimmer to it. It’s really quite beautiful!

Soul: What is the purpose of a church building? Sometimes it seems like maybe the purpose of the church building is to provide a place for Christians to gather, fellowship, worship and learn about the kingdom of God. Then we can leave the church building, go out into our lives and live the love of Christ so that others might see it and want to know Him. But the building itself isn’t necessarily the place that a non-Christian would just decide to encounter God, right? It’s more for the Christians to get their stuff figured out so we can go out into the world… right? Or should the church, even within the building, be a beacon to those who don’t know Jesus? Should it be a place that even those who don’t know Jesus desire to be? Should we design our services, activities, even children’s ministry to attract unbelievers, even if it means sacrificing some of our personal comforts? I don’t know, this is something my husband and I have been talking about recently and we’re both in a place of… “hmmm?” I wonder if the church building serves the kingdom of God better as a welcome mat for unbelievers or a command center for believers from which to “Go into the world…”

Strength: My husband has been training for an Ironman Race and this morning was feeling a little discouraged because, though he had a decent day, it wasn’t fabulous. He had expected his swim time to improve and it stayed relatively constant. I began typing out a text to him to give him some encouragement, “You don’t have to progress every day, some days it’s ok to maintain.” As I finished typing it, I realized how much I needed to hear those very same words. I was convicted that if I truly believe that for my husband, I need to believe it for me, too. Not every day has to be marked by a new success, a faster time, or weight loss. Some days can be marked by maintaining the success you had yesterday, by continuing the effort you’ve already put in and by holding your ground.

MFM: Week 36, Day 1

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Week 36, Day 1 (-8 pounds)

Heart: This weekend we put up new artwork in the hallway! I was inspired by a friend over at Bitty Bits Blog to be intentional about our Easter celebrations this year. My goal for the kiddos this year is to really keep the focus on the resurrection of Christ! So, we decided to use her idea and paint crosses using painters tape. When we remove the tape, the empty space on the page symbolizes the empty tomb. However, I was not in the mood to deal with messy paint, so I tested out an idea I’ve seen on Pinterest- Ziplock painting! It was fabulous!! Even Baby girl helped paint her picture and it turned out beautifully! First, I taped the shape of a cross onto each piece of paper. Then, I let the kids choose their colors and put globs of paint on the paper (I intentionally put most of the globs near the tape to make sure we’d get a clear outline of the cross). Next I slipped the globbed-up paper into a big Ziplock bag, sealed it and let the kids get squishing! When they were finished, we carefully took the paper out of the bag, let it sit for a couple of minutes, removed the tape and let it dry completely! Their crosses turned out gorgeous (you’ll have to excuse the awesome blanket fort behind Bubby in the picture)!! I’m going to keep this project in mind for those days that the kids need a fun project, but I can’t deal with the mess!

Soul: Do you ever have those days when you know that you know that you know that you’re seeking God’s direction in something and it still feels like it’s falling apart? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Every morning I seek God’s direction and it seems like it’s not going anywhere. Yesterday I got a little bit of a wake-up call. I’ve definitely been seeking God’s direction, but rather than give the situation to Him and trust that He will take care of it, I’m trying to haul the weight by myself! It’s like I’m going the right way, but not letting Him do the work. I may ask for His guidance in the morning, but then I’m anxious and worried about it all day. So, yesterday and today I’ve been really working on letting Him have control of the situation. And would you believe that, as I’m writing this, I’m getting updates on the specific situation… we went from no options to multiple options! Are you kidding me?! Okay, okay, God… You’ve got this.

Strength: Gah, I am seriously having to put my money where my mouth is right now! I keep going over the things I know to be true, and telling myself I just have to stick with it through the ups and downs. Well, here it is… a down day, super frustrating… and I have the choice to give up or keep doing the best I can. For today, I’m going to keep going. I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow, but I don’t get to make that choice yet. I only have control of today and for now, I’m not giving up. I’ll keep eating healthy, keep exercising, keep walking, and deal with tomorrow when it gets here.