A Little Help From my Friends

Today we are having our first ever blog hop with our East Tennessee Bloggers group!

I’m going to be aging myself with this “cheer” but when I was in Elementary School just a few years ago back in the day, we had this cheer where all the cheerleaders introduced themselves and then it went down the line until everyone had finished….It went something like this “Jump in! Jump out! Introduce yourself! My name is Rebecca, and I’m a cheerleader, and I’ve been cheering for a very long time.” Okay, I was NEVER a cheerleader (or a Fly Girl–If you know the 90’s you’re still following me. And don’t try to pretend like you didn’t want to be a Fly Girl too!), but I sure did pretend! Now I’m REALLY rolling laughing at this, but please hang with me here!

The point of that little digression is to let you know that today on my blog I am introducing some fellow, local bloggers!  I want you to get the chance to read their own words about themselves and their blog and check out their blog for yourself!

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So, you all know me, but I want to “jump out” and introduce some of my blogging friends!  Some of them I know personally and others I only follow their blogs, but I can tell you that these ladies can write! If you enjoy blogs, {blog}hop around and read theirs to see if there’s someone that you really can relate to.  You will find inspiring, funny, encouraging & informative things written on these blogs, so get to hoppin’!

858540_10201455575243696_106113655_oCandace from MERCY IS NEW

I’m Candace and I blog at His Mercy is New. I’m married to David and we have 3 children that we homeschool; we live just east of Knoxville where my husband and I met at Carson-Newman College about 15 years ago! On my blog you will find homeschooling posts, great reads, posts about faith and especially encouragement for moms struggling with depression. I pray you are blessed and encouraged each time you visit!

MouseChristina from MOUSE IN YOUR HOUSE

Living in 400-square-feet with our new sweet baby boy. I blog about the hilarious side of parenting, and keep things exciting with DIY and home decorating ideas and projects. I throw in the occasional Q&A with crafty people and dig into lifestyle trends. Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!

1654194_10202526500740894_458696713_nSarah from SARAHSHEARTSHOME

My name is Sarah and I am a homeschooling mom to three young children. I blog at www.sarahsheartshome.com where I write about daily life as a mom, recipes, homeschooling ,and more. I strive to find Joy in the Journey (as my subtitle indicates.)

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Meghan from KMAC CREATIONS

My name is Meghan and I write. Streamlined & slapstick stories of memories made. Not perfectly, but purposefully. Under blankets snuggled, my space for words is covered with stories of family, fashion, homeschool and design. Faith finds its way in too. Always. My blog {http://kmaccreations.com/blog/} documents time honest, hilarious and most certainly hope filled

melissaMelissa from LIFE OFF THE PAVED ROAD

Hello there! I’m Melissa. I am wife to Stacy and homeschooling mom to five children. We live in East Tennessee, just north of Knoxville on land that has been in my family for five generations. Life Off The Paved Road is my online home where I talk about natural living, marriage, parenting, homeschooling, and adoption. I hope you will stop by, hang out for a while and come back to visit from time to time.

heatherHeather from KISER RIDGE FARM

Hi, I am Heather, stay at home mother of soon to be 5 children. We live on a small farm in East Tennessee. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, hogs, dogs, cats and kiddos. Kiser Ridge Farm is also my herbal shop, where I combine my 15 years of experience in herbal medicine, with my 20 years in Emergency Medicine, researching and mixing natural remedies. My blog is new and so is my business.

natalieNatalie Contributor for KNOXVILLE MOMS BLOG

At Knoxville Moms Blog we are passionate about parenting, community and the city of Knoxville. We strive to provide moms with relevant, timely and fun information about all things mom here in the Knoxville area. We are a collaborative blog written by and for local moms with daily posts on things to do around town, ways to get involved in the community, parenting solutions, personal essays from local moms, local business spotlights, giveaways, and an opportunity to share with one another in the journey of motherhood.

stephanieStephanie from THE MULTI TASKIN’ MOM

Being a wife, mother, full time work-from-homer, and a homeschooling mom, means that I must be able to multi task. Come join in as I share the journey along with several other moms on The Multi Taskin’ Mom:

saraSara from HAPPY BROWN HOUSE  &  CHATTANOOGA FAMILIES

Sara is a Chattanooga area blogger that writes about life in the Happy Brown House: homeschool, crafts, kids, adoption, and faith.

Sara is also the blogger behind the site, Chattanooga Families, a blog dedicated to helping local families find resources and local fun. Sara shares the reall nitty-gritty details about local events and places that are relevant to families in the Chattanooga area through a weekly newsletter. Want to know where the best park is or what restaurant has a free kids meal? Chattanooga Families is your answer.

melissa crabtreeMelissa from FINDING JOY ON THE JOURNEY

Finding Joy on the Journey started as I felt moved to record the blessings that occur in the every day. The beautiful blue sky, the warm sunshine on my face, the sweetness of a good book finished. I used to say, “simple pleasures” in high school and college. Only now they’re deeper than that. It’s deep-seated joy that isn’t based on circumstance. So I write here about joy in the midst of infertility, food allergy frustrations, depression, chronic health problems, and life just not turning out to be what we thought it would. (Is it ever?) The Lord’s name is to be glorified in it all, and that is what I want to do here on my little home on the web. I hope you’ll join me!

Megan

Megan from LIFESONG

Hi! I’m Megan, a wife (to one) and homeschooling Mama of three. I am passionate about Jesus, teaching my kids, and taking pictures. But I also love baking, Amazon, reading and writing. My blog is a little of everything – homeschool days, recipes, stories, traditions, and encouragement. We have made East TN home for the past eight years, and we love it here! Come say hello at Lifesong

Edie

Edie from LIFE IN GRACE

I’m Edie and I’m a lifestyle blogger, wife, momma, writer, home cook, foodie, keeper of chickens, and reader of many books. I’m a lover of home decor, truth, beauty, goodness, cowboy boots, and all things Appalachian.

Kristen

Kristen from WHEN AT HOME

I’m Kristen : Stay at home mom, Bible School grad, writer, yoga pants dweller, and obsessive chai drinker. I blog honestly and sarcastically about motherhood and wife-hood and whatever I feel like hood. I’m a little bit random and lotta bit fun.

Stacey

Stacey from ABIDING WOMAN

Hello, I’m Stacey, and I live with my husband and three daughters in the beautiful hills of East Tennessee. I’m currently expecting my fourth baby! I am very passionate about my walk with Jesus Christ. My heart is to encourage other women to walk closely to Him, and that is my main purpose in my blog, Abiding Woman. As I seek to encourage women to abide in Jesus I also blog about homeschooling, homemaking, fashion and beauty, recipes, marriage, parenting, childbirth, and pieces of my journey.

Thanks for checking out my friends. Don’t forget that you can follow or subscribe to their blogs to receive content when they update. We will be doing a once monthly blog hop on varying subjects, so be sure the check those out!

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Weary Mamas

I saw a post from a friend yesterday about the struggles of her day.  As I read it, I could FEEL the words she wrote.  She was tired, her kids were sick (yet again), one of them was having a meltdown….She was weary to a certain degree.  She craved another Mama to tell her it would all be okay.

Have you been there before? I know I have! I don’t think there is a Mother out there who hasn’t felt overwhelmed at least, oh, a million times!  Sometimes we just need someone that has been there to tell us “this too shall pass”.  Now, before all the Dads get upset that I’m just talking about Moms, I know there are some Dads who do a lot to provide and help with their children, finances and cleaning.  So, I know dads do a lot too.  But for today, I am speaking to Mamas because I am one!

I saw this picture yesterday on FB and I really thought about what it said.  I know that I personally feel like I always have something going on.  Part of that is because I have children (and forgetful children) and part of that is because I am a volunteer–not just because I live in the Volunteer State either!  Ha Ha!  But I never want to be too busy to spend time with God.  I know I couldn’t make it without Him!

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When I had my youngest child, this was my life.  I had a “bonus” son who was 5, a son who was 22 months old and a newborn.  I worked full-time up until 2 weeks before my last son was born and then I stayed home.  I wanted to be able to stay home at least until my children went to school.  With the costs of daycare it totally made sense.  We even though about homeschooling our children, but that didn’t happen.  I think it was really a combination of things.  I tease it’s because my middle son was strong-willed, but that really wasn’t why.

I remember my husband worked 12 hr shifts at his job and he went to work less than a week after me coming home with our youngest son.  Trying to nurse a baby who wanted to eat every 2-3 hrs, keep up with a toddler who just wanted to go outside and play but it was too cold, trying to rest myself and get a schedule of food and naps while changing diapers and forget about trying to clean–I was exhausted!  He called me on one of his breaks and I just cried on the phone and told him I couldn’t do it.  HA!  Oh, he was so sweet and encouraged me that I really could.  But that was a WEARY time!

I worked for about 9 months right before our youngest turned a year old.  Then, I was home again!  I loved being able to spend that time with my boys–even though it wasn’t always easy.  When our middle son started Kindergarten, I started work.  Now, I understand that everyone can’t stay home and everyone can’t work outside the home.  God made us, and our situations, different.  There are probably people who are working that could stay home and people who are staying home that could work, but that’s not a question I choose to debate.  I believe we do what we feel is right and there should be no judgement on a fellow Mother regardless of whether she works inside the home or outside the home.

I can tell you, since I’ve been on both sides, that you WORK regardless!  Being a Mom is a full-time job!  I think sometimes the world wants us to feel like Stay-at-home moms do nothing but watch TV and lay on the couch while spending all the money their husband makes on QVC….and that Working Moms get away from the children and spend their time in a fantasy world where they don’t worry about the things at home for that 8 hrs and spend all the money we make on clothes & shoes (oh and that we don’t love our children).  Well, NEITHER of those is true!  Though I know that SAH Moms crave & need adult interaction, they are working hard at keeping up with everything that has to be done on the home front as well as the schedules of extra curricular activities and volunteer work.  And working Moms are trying to do their “outside” job, but all the while are thinking of what needs to be done at home, what the schedule for after work is and what they might be missing in their kids’ world this week.

I would like to encourage all you Mamas out there to stick together!  Not just with those Moms who are like you, but also with those who do the opposite of you.  I like having SAHM for friends–they help keep me grounded about what the important things in life are!  They help remind me of the days when my children were younger and now I can look back and see the fun we had.  Even though I missed some things my kids did because I worked, I worked even harder to enjoy the time I had with them.  And, I hope that SAHM can look at me and see that although I don’t have it all together I enjoy my family.  Family is important–whether you have a big family or a small one–and making the most of that time, as well as taking some time for yourself, is a necessity.  Whether you just started your family or like me, are almost an empty nest.

Encourage a Mom this week!  Send her a message, note or card.  Let her know that motherhood can be challenging, but some of the best things in life are worth working for!  Also let her know we don’t have to be perfect!  I could give you a long list of things I’m not perfect at, but I’m thankful that my God sees the good and sometimes sends sweet friends in to remind me that I am loved!

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Lord, I pray for all the Mothers who read this.  I pray you give them grace to see through the hard days, peace to know things will get better and rest when they have the opportunity to take it.  I pray you surround them with women who are encouragers who allow them to talk when they need to and let them know it will be okay.  I pray for both the Stay at Home moms and the working outside the home moms would respect each other and love each other–not talk down or be jealous of the other’s “perceived” way of life.  I thank You for the different abilities and strengths you give each of us as Moms, Wives, Sisters, Daughters and Friends!

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Here is a snippet of my morning today–just so you can realize that I DON”T have it all together as a mom! Most of my days are similar (& sometimes worse) than this. HA HA!

I went to bed at 11:30pm, got up at 4:30 am to let the dog out, then got back up at 6:30 to start my day.  I got Brian’s clothes ready, woke Hunter up, fed the dog & let the dog out. Then I went to make lunches for my guys and realized that we had no lunch meat or peanut butter and we had no chips or crackers and the only fruit we had was 1 over ripe banana. So, I proceeded to tell them they would need to eat at school today (which isn’t near the amount of food I pack for them). So, I let the dog back in, get Brian’s medicine for him, pray with him and kiss him goodbye. Then, back off to force Hunter to get out of the bed–that is a fight every morning. I took a quick shower because my hair HAD to be washed, got dressed & left my hair curly and just quick dried it because I didn’t have time to completely dry it. Finally got everything together and headed out the door and I thought we would be good. Then I started the car and my gas light came on. I knew I wouldn’t have time to stop on the way to get Hunter to school or he would be late! So, I drove him to school, asked him where his backpack was (he forgot it in his dad’s truck) and where his checker was (he forgot it at home). I’m not worried about the backpack, but he HAS to have his checker! I went to the closest gas station to put gas in. When I left the house I was burning up because the heat wouldn’t kick off (& I was rushing around), so I forgot to grab a sweater. Here I am pumping gas in the cold with half sleeves on freezing!  I knew I didn’t have time to go home to get his checker, so I grabbed something for breakfast and headed to work. When I got to work, I opened the passenger door and a CD case fell out of the door pocket, opened up and the CD went rolling under my car….thankfully it just kept rolling because it rolled uphill out from under the car and then hit the wheel and fell. I could just see me climbing under my car to get a CD! So, now the only thing I have to do is work, go to the post office and run home to get his checker, drop it off at school, log into the school lunch area and put money on his account (since he doesn’t normally eat at school) and come back to work!  See, life is never boring!

When I get stressed about it all I just try to remember the good times! I hope you can too!

I think about the country song “Don’t Blink”…..it is so true!

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

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Fit by 40

Fit by 40? What’s that you ask? Well, it is a motto that I came up with last year and I am sticking to it! Of course, some of you may think I’m already 40–and you would be WRONG! Ha! Ha! I have a little more time before that hits, but it isn’t really about the age. I’ve always felt that age was just a number. But weight, on the other hand, was a totally different subject. That was a number I was not willing to talk about.

Like a lot of people in America, I am not in “great” shape. I have tried & succeeded & failed & succeeded & failed & failed & failed at losing weight. This past year in May I had determined that I was never going to lose the weight for good. I gave away almost every stitch of clothing I couldn’t wear (both smaller & larger than my size at the time)!

Then in June, I talked to some friends who were going to do a Biggest loser “competition” starting at the end of July. I decided I was going to do it with them. I found that having friends who were wanting to eat healthier & exercise helped me SO much! I didn’t feel like I was alone in my struggles. That was the BEST decision I have made in a long time!

Prior to the competition starting I lost 13 lbs. That was motivating, but I knew that would come back in no time if I stopped exercising. During the actual competition, I lost 27 lbs. I was so excited! It was like a switch flipped for me and I was ready to be (& stay) healthy!
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Me in May 2012                        Me in Dec 2012
I took a month off after that and some friends and I began another competition. I wasn’t working as hard as before because it was the holidays, but I was still watching….just not exercising. I just didn’t want to get back in that mode of making excuses for why I didn’t exercise or why I didn’t eat healthy.

Now, the new year has come and I am back at being motivated. Thankfully I didn’t put any weight back on during my lull, but I know if I want to get the rest of this excess weight off I have to become serious again! So far I have added an additional 6 lbs to my total weight lost from my starting weight in July….that’s 46 lbs total! That is some serious weight, BUT that isn’t even the big picture!  I can do things now I never thought I would.

I was able to begin running last year. Although I’m not what you would consider a “runner”, I really enjoyed pushing myself to do something SO outside my comfort zone.

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I actually just signed up to do my very FIRST 5K! (Told you I wasn’t a runner.) I’m going to run the Color Me Rad 5K in Knoxville and I am super excited! I don’t hope to come out with the fastest time. What I do hope to come out with is the ability to mark something off my bucket list AND the knowledge I did something I never thought I could. In reality, almost 50 lbs ago I wouldn’t have been able to!

For those of you who want to know HOW I did this and if I used unhealthy products or lived on bread & water to lose 46 lbs in 5 months, I can assure you I didn’t!  There is no “miracle” way! We all put weight on 1 lb at a time and we have to take it off the same way. I have LOTS more I could write on this subject (and will some day), but know that if losing weight or becoming healthier is something you want to do you are NOT alone! Basically, it is hard work, but VERY worth it!

Here is a list of products, websites or workout plans that I use:

logo     Lose It Website

1.  I started using the Lose-It app on my phone to find out how many calories were in the foods I was eating and to log those foods so I knew how many I was actually putting in my mouth during the course of a day.  Trust me, when it says you should have 1405 calories, but you log your food and you have eaten 2600 you get a rude awakening! Cutting calories HAS to be done in order to lose weight and your calorie amount goes down the thinner you get, so Lose-It automatically adjusts what you should have in order to continue losing weight. Do you realize that to lose 1 lb you must either cut out or work off 3500 calories?!?!?!  That’s why the average person can cut back and eat less, but still not lose weight!

zumba-logo23 Zumba with Letitia & Kim

2.  I started working out with weight machines, ellipticals, stationary bikes & the track at my church and doing Zumba at Talley Ward. Letitia & Kim are great inspirations! They have come up with creative exercises & toning and mix things up so you work your entire body. They are even going back to get a new certification soon and I’m SO excited!

XOOMA-007sml         Xooma Products

3.  I started using Xooma products–the X20 sachets for water and the AM Xtra capsules. These products helped me to drink more water (which is essential in losing weight), but they also contain minerals that your body needs, so I also became healthier. The AM capsules help give you energy and that helped me to maintain a workout regimen.

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4.  I have found LOTS of suggestions, healthy recipes and motivation on Pinterest!  It has definitely helped me create healthy recipes that are different than “old standbys” that are not healthy for me. It is an online pin board where you can “pin” things you like and go back to them at any time. To me, it is MUCH better than having 10 different cookbooks taking up room in my kitchen when you only like 3 recipes in the entire book! 🙂

Do you have any tips for losing weight? I would love to hear them!