WFMW: Taking a Technology Timeout

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I don’t have an office. Or even a desk. I work at my laptop, on a TV tray, while curled up on the left side of my couch. It’s not ideal.

Also not ideal? The left side of my couch kind of sags. Because I sit there too often.

So for the last several months I’ve been trying to take more breaks, to leave the computer turned off more often. I realized a while back that, because I work from home and because I work in the never-takes-a-break world of social media, it’s not uncommon for me to spend hours on the couch, staring at one screen or another.

And that’s not good.

So I tell myself to better manage my time. I make schedules. I make promises. But it’s hard. It’s hard to unplug, to resist the siren call of the screen.

Lucky for me, my laptop is on its last legs!

No, really – this is partly good news! Because when my computer refuses to work – and it does. It just REFUSES to do its ONE JOB. – I have no other choice but to turn it off and walk away. Today was one of those days. And after fighting to get an internet connection for several days in a row, I’d had enough. I unplugged for most of the day.

And when I sat down to write this week’s Works for Me Wednesday post this evening? The one I’d planned about making stuffed peppers and eating fewer carbs? The one that basically REQUIRES me to lean on Pinterest? Heavily? Well, Pinterest decided that even if my laptop was clocked in, it was not on board. Won’t open. Not in Firefox; not in Chrome.

Pinterest has left the building…so to speak.

Edited to add: As soon as I hit publish, I tried Pinterest ONE MORE TIME – and wouldn’t you know? It works now. What?! Oh well. We’ll talk stuffed peppers next week, right?

I’ve read lots of articles about taking a technology break, from wise women who take the time to re-order their priorities and peel themselves away from the online world to spend more time in their real worlds. Those ladies are SMART. And I try to do that. I’m getting better, a little better.

But this time? This time, I believe technology is taking a break from ME! Maybe my laptop and Pinterest and my internet service and my phone (have I mentioned that it doesn’t work that well either? Because it does NOT.) are in on this together, going on strike to force me to take a break.

So, I’m signing off for today (and maybe even tomorrow!). Consider me in timeout. Even when it’s not my choice, taking a technology break works for me.

Have you ever taken a technology timeout?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Photo source

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy | via givinguponperfect.com

We’ve entered a new phase in our house this summer. We’ve graduated from animated Disney movies to live action Disney movies. Which is basically just a fancy way of saying Annalyn and I have watched no less than three – count ‘em! THREE. – High School Musical movies.

You guys, they’re not actually THAT bad. And, thankfully, the same seven-year-old who keeps bugging me to find the fourth High School Musical at a Redbox or the library also not-so-secretly likes watching Elmo with her baby sister.

And, let’s not forget, it gives us gems like this:

You guys. This scene was, by far, the most cheese-tastic one of all! Zac Efron singing (and dancing to) “Bet On It” made me laugh so hard! I mean, it is ridiculous. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

But as I tried to contain my giggles (so as not to offend the daughter) and ended up snorting instead (because REALLY. Just watch it!), I wondered why I found it so laughable that a teenage boy might need to dance out his feelings.

Okay, yes, fine. This particular situation might not be so realistic. But haven’t you ever felt emotions so big that you couldn’t contain them? Feelings so strong you want to put them in a song? A situation so intense you just need to dance it out?

Maybe not. Maybe your feelings don’t come with the urge to belt Broadway tunes and flash jazz hands, but maybe they do beg to be shared somehow – in a Facebook post, from the rooftop (or the front porch), with a “Hallelujah!” or a “Yeehaw!”

When that happens – when you have such great news, such relief or pride or gratitude or just plain JOY – don’t play it cool, friends. Shout it out and share it with us! The world could certainly use a little more leaping with joy, couldn’t it?! I promise not to let a single snort escape, no matter how you choose to celebrate.

After all, how could I, when I’m doing leaps of joy of my own today?

Even though the official release of my book is still five months away, I’m excited to reveal the cover to you now! You can actually pre-order the book on Amazon, too. Can you believe it??!!

I’ve been so nervous to show you the cover and reluctant to show my excitement…

…because the actual launch is still so far away
…because it’s not just MY book and I didn’t write THE WHOLE thing myself
…because lots of people write books these days
…because I don’t want to brag
…because because BECAUSE!

But then I thought about young Zac Efron really COMMITTING to that song in High School Musical 2 and his jubilant leaps at the end of the most ridiculous song. And I decided that just maybe I was the one being ridiculous. That just maybe you all would want to celebrate with me. That just maybe it’s time to let the joy, joy, joy that’s down in my heart out to play.

So … YEEHAW and HALLELUJAH! My book has a cover and a home on Amazon!

Choose Joy final cover

Do you have any good news to share today?
How can we celebrate with you today?

Photo source

Wonder-Summer: Giving the Summer Meaning (WFMW)

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I didn’t make a bucket list for this summer. Honestly it wasn’t any anti-Pinterest or real-mom stand I took; it was more than I just wasn’t up for it this year. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have any expectations for the three months between school years.

I wanted the summer to be fun, and I wanted to spend meaningful time with my family. I didn’t really make a plan for how to create that meaning, though – so I found myself feeling annoyed that we were basically alternating fun with frustration, week after week.

Enter Clive & Ian’s Wonder-Summer Passport, just in time for vacation!

Clive and Ian are two characters from What’s in the Bible, puppet brothers if you must know, and they are the official mascots (is that the right term? they ARE puppets!?) of a fun, FREE downloadable booklet to record your family’s summer adventures. (You can download it here.)

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The booklet has pages for your child to journal about trips to the zoo, the park, a museum and more – and each page asks their favorite thing, who he or she was with, and what they’d like to thank God for. Plus a few blank trip pages for any kind of adventure you might have that’s not covered (like, you know, a family vacation!).

It’s a simple way to focus your attention on what matters most – the people you make memories with and how each new adventure points you back to God.

(Also, you can see what adventures other families are having with the hashtag #CIWonderSummer on Instagram!)

We printed out our passport and took it with us on vacation last week, but though we looked at it several times, we didn’t fill it out. We’re doing that this week as we process. (As Annalyn said when a friend asked her what her favorite part of vacation was, “I don’t know yet! There’s just too much to think about!”)

While we’re processing, I don’t suppose it would hurt to share some of my favorite vacation photos…right? (Last weekend I saw a slide projector at an antique mall. So just remember it could be worse; I could be forcing you to look at slides!)

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You know who I was with, but I can answer the other questions in the Wonder-Summer Passport for you. We drove through a scenic loop in Custer State Park as well as Bear Country. We saw a whole lot of animals up close (I did not use a zoom lens on that bear, you guys!!), and the scenery of South Dakota is stunning. I’m thankful for God’s creativity and artistry!

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These people. They drive me so crazy! But I am abundantly grateful to God for them. And I’m glad I get to see new things and make memories with them.

Clive & Ian’s Wonder-Summer Passport – and giving meaning to summer adventures – works for me!

By the way, if you and your kids want more Clive & Ian (They are very silly. You certainly want more of that!), their Wonderblimp of Knowledge videos are on sale until July 31. Two videos answering 13 big questions about God and His character for just $19.99.

How do you add meaning to your adventures?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

Just Keep Swimming

This post was originally published a couple years ago but seemed relevant this week since I have been on vacation and forced to wear a swimsuit.

When I left my house last Friday morning, I had packed my husband, my daughter and myself for more than a week. I managed to get all of our shoes, underwear and toilet articles in the car and only forgot a few things.

Unfortunately, one of those forgotten items was my swimsuit. And since we chose our hotel based on its promised water park and super slide, that was a problem.

Luckily, though we were several states away from home, we were there to visit friends. So I ordered a clearance suit from Target and had it shipped to my friend’s house. I picked it up yesterday and we headed back to the hotel.

Nervously, I opened the packages and pulled out the plain black swim suit pieces. (As in a tank and a swim skirt, not a bikini. Please.) I stepped into the bottom and thought, “Well, that’s not what I was hoping for.” Then I wriggled myself into the top and though, “THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.”

And then I did the thing I swore I’d never do
(and until this week, had never done). I said – out loud and in front of my daughter – how awful I looked. Specifically, I said, “This is hideous.”

Because I’ve struggled with body image issues as long as I can remember, I’ve determined to be uber careful about how I talk about myself in front of my daughter. I know it probably won’t prevent her from wishing for fuller lips or longer legs (or whatever the must-have attribute of the day is 10 years from now). But if I can find it within myself to model a healthy self esteem, maybe it will help a little.

(For the record, my parents did everything they could to help me feel beautiful. As a matter of fact, my mother still insists on calling me her beautiful baby girl. So I’m aware that, as a parent, some things are out of my hands. But I want to do the best I can with the influence I have anyway.)

But back to the other day.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was horrified. And it wasn’t one of those instances where my child completely ignored what I said or remained oblivious to my personal stress. Oh no. She looked at me, confused, and said, “Why did you say that? You look beautiful!”

Oh, my heart.

I promise you that I did not look beautiful at all. AT ALL. I won’t tell you what I think I looked like, because I really am trying to stop talking to or about myself in an ugly way. But not only did I not feel pretty, I really did not look pretty.

But I’d promised my family that I’d go swimming with them. And my worn-out, stretched-out suit was safely at home, hundreds of miles away. So I really didn’t have a choice.

I tried to make the best of the situation. You know, getting on with life? I grabbed a pair of my husband’s gym shorts to cover up. BUT THEY DIDN’T FIT. (Is there anything more humiliating than not fitting into my husband’s pants? I THINK NOT. . . . Fine. I’m sure something might be worse. But not this week.) So I grabbed a t-shirt, sucked in everything I could suck in, and walked to the elevator with my family.

When we got to the pool, I was beyond relieved to see that we had the whole place to ourselves. Still, I felt terrible. I smiled and played with my daughter, but inside, I was curled up in a ball and covered with a large blanket. I didn’t want anyone – even the people I loved most – to see me.

As I stood in the water, telling my kiddo that yes, of course I wanted to watch her jump in, two annoying tears slipped down my face. Since I had yet to get my head wet, my husband wasn’t fooled and asked, confused, “What is wrong?!”

I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him.

But I didn’t keep crying, either. Slowly, I focused more on my family and less on myself. And I swam a few laps and did a few minutes of water aerobics moves. It wasn’t very long before I felt strong (because swimming is hard, yo) and remembered how to relax and have fun with my family.

And when we went back upstairs and I eagerly went to peel that hateful suit off my not-perfect-at-all body and COULDN’T GET IT OFF? Well, all I could do was laugh. Because really, that’s way better than crying – and being stuck in that soaking wet, octopus-like bunch of polyester was the kind of irony that I couldn’t help but appreciate.

I may never put that swimsuit on again. And I may think twice before booking a hotel room in a place that boasts of a super slide. But despite the horrible feeling of wearing that thing and slipping up in front of my kiddo with the “hideous” bomb, I didn’t let it ruin my day.

Although there was no saving my hair after that.

What’s your least favorite thing to wear? And what’s your favorite? (My favorite is, hands down, yoga pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. Comfort over style IS my style!)

Photo by janfredrikf

Family Meals, Balanced Plates – and Pizza?!

Last week was a hectic week at my house. I was trying to get ready for our family vacation, while also attempting to finish all projects due that week and this week. (I did not succeed, in case you’re wondering.) Add in a husband working on odd shift for the week, a last-minute road trip to attend a visitation and a late night out with my parents, brother and best friend (and kids), and you have the recipe for a whole lot of crazy — and not a whole lot of time for making dinner.

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

I was actually so overwhelmed at one point that on the night I’d offered to take dinner to a friend with a newborn, I COMPLETELY FORGOT. I literally remembered at 1:30 in the morning, sitting straight up and shouting some less than family-friendly words about my stupid, stinking brain.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t at home that night to make and take them dinner. You guys, I WAS AT HOME. And I’d written it on my calendar AND on my to-do list for the day. But I just got flustered and scattered, and I dropped the ball. Or the casserole dish, as the case may be.

Thankfully, my friend was full of grace when I apologized all over place and promised me that they did not starve while waiting for my dinner delivery. And, even more important to me, she let me try again two nights later.

As I did the mental gymnastics required to plan a couple meals during such a busy week, I was so grateful to have a coupon for a CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN® oven-ready pizza.

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

In the same amount of time it would have taken me to order a pizza or grab greasy bags in the drive-thru, I baked a BBQ Chicken Pizza from CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN. It didn’t take much longer than zapping a salty microwave dinner and was definitely easier than [the already easy] mac and cheese. And when I added a salad and some fruit, I felt good about feeding my family something healthy instead of our usual go-to convenience foods during a busy week.

Even if my salad was iceberg and cheddar with a few carrot curls thrown in for appearances. Because a non-fancy, less-than-nutrition-packed salad is still better than a box of fries, right?!

I didn’t know before working with California Pizza Kitchen, but I’m not that surprised, that most Americans only meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for proper nutrition roughly 7 days out of the year (2% of the year). Ouch!! I’m guessing that taking my multi-vitamin a few times a week doesn’t technically bring up my percentage?

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

Balance My Plate is an educational campaign to help consumers build nutritious, delicious, and convenient meals that meet the MyPlate recommendations. So, for example, on busy days you can pair a high-quality frozen food (like a frozen pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, hello!) with fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy or other fresh ingredients.

I’ve used this strategy in the past with other frozen foods – pairing a frozen entree with fresh fruits and veggies, for example. But I know that the frozen foods I served weren’t exactly the healthiest. That’s what makes CPK pizzas a better option – premium ingredients and lower in fat and sodium than other quick options I usually rely on.

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

Another point that Balance My Plate makes is that eating the right portion sizes makes a huge difference when pairing frozen foods with fresh foods. So you’ll notice that the CPK pizzas might be a little smaller than other pizzas. But when you add a salad or fresh fruit, you’ve got a more complete meal than if you’d just eaten part of a bigger, less-healthy entree.

Although, I should warn you that the BBQ Chicken pizza is so good you might want to eat the whole thing. You might consider serving your children microwaved pasta mixed with an orange powder cheese JUST SO YOU CAN HAVE THE WHOLE THING. Or so I’ve heard.

Don’t do that. Cut up the pizza, serve it to your family, and eat your veggies.

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

In case you haven’t tried the California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas yet, you can read more about it at CPK Frozen. And I’m not just talking about all the pizza flavors (although that’s there, including gluten-free crust, woot!). I’m talking about ideas for adding to your pizza, recipes and appetizer suggestions. CPK means business about making frozen pizza a part of your healthy family meals!

CPK Frozen Pizza - Balance My Plate

You can also visit Balance My Plate online for more information, recipes and resources for healthy eating.

I’m curious. How do YOU balance your plate while also balancing your budget and your schedule?

What’s your favorite way to make fast, affordable, healthy dinners?

 
Disclosure: I am a member of the Balance Your Plate team and helping spread the word about CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN® oven-ready pizzas. As a team member, I receive product and incentives in exchange for participating in brand-related activities.

All opinions and temptation to eat THE WHOLE DARN PIZZA are my own. Obviously.