Category Archives: Family

Our Crossfit Journey (or…Crap Jess Says)

My husband and I started working out (Crossfit) a little over a month ago. We absolutely love it. It daily kicks our butts, but we feel great afterward and we’ve seen some great results in a very short amount of time. The community aspect of it is one of our favorite parts. Our trainers are amazing, and everyone we have had the pleasure of coming into contact with because of Crossfit has been encouraging and motivating. I don’t see us stopping this anytime soon. With that said, we’ve had some pretty weird conversations because of the changes we are seeing and just the overall act of working out. I am sharing a few of these for your entertainment.

Me: “I am so sore…my skin is sore! Is that normal?”

Me: “You never said that running was a part of Crossfit!”

Me: “This is the one time I’m glad you put the tall toilet in our bathroom.” (This was after what felt like a bazillion squats.)

Hubby: “How much do you weigh?” Me: “I don’t know, I’m afraid of the scale since you weighed.” (He’s gained about 10lbs.)

At least once a week while looking at the next day’s workout… Me: “What the crap does that mean? I don’t even know what that is.” (Then googling & getting sucked into Crossfit exercise videos for 30+ minutes.) Me: “Oh yeah, that thing.”

During a discussion of different muscles being sore, being more defined/bigger, etc… Me: “What’s this?” (Pointing to my lower back.) Hubby: “Back fat?” Me: (Punching him in the arm.) “The muscle! What’s it called?!”

Okay, so most of these are me being whiny, but hey, they’re funny. The best part is I’m on this journey with my best friend. I get frustrated and he keeps me straight. He overdoes it and I scold him. Ya know…give and take. ;) Does working out make you ask/say weird things or is it just me?

Transparency

I like to take pictures of everything. Not everyone appreciates photos of the dinner I’ve cooked, my kids making weird faces, messes I’ve made, but hey…it’s my blog/FB page/Twitter account/Instagram…and I can do what I want. ;) In all fairness, most of us post way too much, and we only post the good stuff. In honor of something my pastor Shannon O’Dell has repeatedly said (Don’t compare your life to other’s highlight reels.) I have decided to post 2 pictures of our breakfast today. (Yes, I know he has also said to stop posting pictures of your food, but this is relevant.)

Mmmm...golden, delicious, perfect waffles.

Mmmm…golden, delicious, perfect waffles.

The first photo is of the homemade waffles we enjoyed this morning. I woke up bright and early, did my devotional, made coffee, and whipped up these beautiful waffles for my family…uh, yeah right. I did wake up bright and early…then fell back asleep. I was then awakened by a kid asking for the waffles I promised them yesterday *punch yesterday promising self in the face*. Once I hauled myself out of bed and made coffee, I plugged in my headphones to listen to the bible while I made waffles…beginning to feel good about myself for multitasking and attempting to get back on track, I repeatedly had the earphones ripped from my ears by drawer knobs…which is infuriating. There went my feel good. Back to waffles. Kids are singing praises of how good the waffles smell, and then how good they look and taste. Back to feeling like I’m doing my job well…
And then I get sucked into the life of a homeschooling, crafting, Facebooking, blogging, mother…and get sidetracked…and then start to smell something foul…and then remember the last little waffle. The one I commented to the kids about as I poured the last bit of batter into the waffle iron. The one I said was going to be so cute. The one that was now assaulting my nose with it’s burning aroma. This one.

The cute, little, last, BURNT waffle.

The cute, little, last, BURNT waffle.

This little gem has made our house stink most of the morning…and it actually broke when I threw it in the sink. So, laying it all out there…I’ve had a rough day, and I want you to know that even though I love my life and often post about how awesome and perfect it is…I have A LOT of these types of days. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love my life and think it is perfect, it just means I am human and I don’t want to cause anyone to stumble because of my highlight reel.

Oh, and welcome to my new blog layout…courtesy of my amazing husband. Let me know what you think!

Wow…April Already?

This year is flying by. Not only this year, but just life in general. My kids are growing up so fast. Chubbs turns 9 this month, Froggy is finishing up his first year of home school (4 year old Kindergarten), Princess2T has all kinds of preteen drama going on, and Pickle…well, Pickle is kinda just along for the ride right now. I’ve been doing all sorts of crafts…and posting them in my Etsy store, Lifeat30ish Crafts.  And, I sold one to someone I don’t know! How exciting is that!? ;)

Anyway, back to the point…it seems like life is flying by, but I don’t really mind. My 7 year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks, and I’ve never been happier or more in love with my husband. My kids are growing up, but I feel like we are raising them right, and giving them the best opportunities for their future that we can. I don’t see things slowing down for us any time soon…we have lots of volunteer opportunities on our schedule, soccer games, end of the school year stuff, travel plans, and just random things planned with family and friends aside from all the regular life stuff.  Overall, we are crazy busy, but happy. We, of course, have our meltdown moments…can’t get away from that with 3 girls, but I feel like things are on track.  We have been greatly blessed this year so far, and I know God has big things in store for us. So I guess, we better just hang on and enjoy the ride.

Virtual Stars…who knew?

As a parent of 4 kids, I am always trying to make our time more efficient & run smoothly. We have a schedule that we attempt to follow…even during the summer. Of course, it’s not as rigid as the school schedule unless we have somewhere specific we must be. The last few weeks of school up to this week had been pretty rough. The kids were getting a bit of the summer fever and didn’t want to do their chores, were fighting, and getting quite sassy. No one was earning allowance, nothing was getting done…no one was happy.  We’ve tried chore tickets, charts, set allowance, per chore allowance, nothing seemed to really appeal to all 4 kids. I then discovered an iPhone app that has made a world of difference this week. It’s called iRewardChart.

It’s completely customizable with the child’s name, photo, tasks, and rewards. Once I set everything up and explained it, the kids went nuts. Chores are complete, attitudes have changed, and they are choosing their rewards. Here’s how it works.
Froggy gets a virtual star (a gold star I touch on my screen) for various tasks, such as Help Mom, Make Bed, Laundry, Get Dressed, Listening, Eat Veggies, No Fighting, No Whining, Bed On Time, etc. Once he has accumulated some stars, he can then cash them in for things he wants like, 30 Min. Electronics Time, Special Dessert, $1 CASH, Later Bed Time, 1 Pack of Gogo’s, etc. Each reward is worth a certain number of stars & he decides if he wants to save up for a bigger prize or spend it on smaller stuff.  This control being at the discretion of the child seems to be hugely appealing to all 4 kids.  There has been hardly any yelling on my part (which is huge since I’m a yeller), they have been doing their chores and being extra helpful mostly without complaint (they’re still kids, so there have been a few instances of whining), and we have had so much time for fun stuff this week…swimming, trips to the library, playing games, reading, mini-golf, making ‘chin people’ videos (there’s a blog post coming on that one…too funny!), etc.

Basically, if this continues…and I pray it does, we will get more done around here in a peaceful fashion, and have more fun.  It’s win-win!

Postcrossing

As you may have noticed, I enjoy trying new things. Whether it be different types of food, crafts, whatever…I’ll try nearly anything. I recently discovered a site called Postcrossing.com. The whole point is to send postcards to other members around the world & receive postcards from all over the world. I instantly thought this would be a cool way for my kids to learn about different cultures and places. Leave it to me to turn something fun into a learning experience! I just signed up last week, so I haven’t received any postcards yet, but I have sent out 5 (the limit to have out at once for a beginner). I went to several gas stations looking for postcards unsuccessfully…one guy actually told me he thought postcards were ‘extinct’. I finally found some with a picture of a local bridge on them in a grocery store. I wrote a short blurb about our area and what we enjoy doing, and sent them out.
Our first 5 postcards are headed to:
Dublin, Ireland
Sankt Petersburg, Russia
Taichung, Taiwan
Alberta, Canada
Tseung Kwan O, New Territories Hong Kong

What creative ways do you teach your children about the world?

Oh, the dramatics!

We’ve recently started Geocaching, and like to take a few hours on Saturdays to ‘Treasure Hunt’.  There are a variety of hunts, so we like to throw a ‘hike’ type cache in so the kids get some good exercise and we get to really see some nature.  This week we attempted a cache out near Pigeon Creek.  This was our first ‘multi-cache’, which means the GPS coordinates lead you to the first way point, then you get new coordinates there to the next way point, and so on until you reach the final cache.  We brought lunch with us, plenty of water, our camera, along with various gear and headed out.  Problems began immediately:

#1 Right off the bat, kids start complaining about having to carry their own water…seriously?  I’m carrying a backpack loaded with all our stuff, Big Puppy is often toting Froggy on his shoulders, and they’re whiny about a water bottle.

Mama the pack-mule.

#2 We misinterpreted the instructions of where to begin, so ended up hiking off trail all the way to the first way point.

Way point #1 break

At the first way point, we took a water break, took some pics, wrote the new coordinates down, and headed to way point #2…on the trail.  Along our route, we ran into a man looking for his lost dog.  We took down his information in case we ran across her, and continued on.  We now had kids occasionally whining about their water bottles and whistling/yelling out ‘Ruuuuuubyyyy!’ (We did not come across the dog.)

#3 Since I’m one of those crazy people who want to do things efficiently ALL  the time, we kept going off trail to take a straighter route to the way point (since I am unfamiliar with the trails, I wasn’t sure if it would come back around)…problem because of ticks, icky spiderwebs, thorns, etc.

We located way point #2 fairly easily, took another water break/rest/photo op, and headed on to way point #3.

Way point #2

This is where the real problems began.  We searched the area for about 45 minutes, and did not find the 3rd way point.  We had a really good idea what we were looking for, and where it should be, but were unsuccessful.  Kids took their whiny-ness to a new level, now complaining about being hungry.  We decided to continue on the trail since we knew based on previous cache logs that there was a bench with a beautiful view along the trail where we could enjoy our lunch, and it was in the direction of the truck.  Along the way, Pickle began to sag and lag behind like she was dying, Princess2T in her typical dramatic flair clutches a small tree and cries out ‘I can’t go on!’, Froggy argues with Chubbs about who gets to walk behind me, and Big Puppy brings up the rear so we don’t lose anyone.  To try to keep everyone together, I ask Big Puppy to call cadence…I thought the kids would get a kick out of it, but it was I who ended up doing it.  The only one I could really remember was the Lady Leatherneck song, so I felt like a weirdo singing about my Drill Instructors from over 13 years ago.  The kids loved it though, and were amazed that I remembered the song from boot camp.  We finally reach the bench, and dish out the food…you’d think they hadn’t eaten in weeks.

Lunch with a view.

Our view at the final location...beautiful!

I pull up the geocache logs on my phone & see if I can get a clue as to where the final cache is, since I know it’s near the bench at which my children are sprawled stuffing their faces.  They began getting a second wind, and exploring the nearby rock ledges (not near any edges…I’m a little over protective).

#4 I start looking around and under rocks until I come across this:

Ewww!

You’ve never seen me move so fast…I HATE SNAKES…and pretty much all wildlife in general if I’m not viewing from a distance.  I resigned from the position of under rock peeker, and promoted Big Puppy.  He discovered…scorpions.  No cache.  We took some pictures of our view, and headed back to the truck.  This is when we realized our initial mistake, and discovered how hard we made this hunt.  After our 3 hour hike…yes, I said 3 hours…we made it back to the truck empty handed.  The kids said they had fun and would like to try to find the cache again sometime…WHAT?!  All that whining & they wanted to try again?  Wow…they are full of surprises.  We started home, and decided to do a few P&G’s (Park & Grab) on our way home.  We ended up completing 3 caches that were in a series…one that we had tried before & couldn’t locate.  Once we knew what we were looking for, it was much easier. ;)

Our first find (a micro-cache) of the day...WOOT!

Overall, it was tough, but the kids had a good time.  We got some good exercise, and were able to log 3 finds.  They ask nearly everyday if we can go ‘Treasure Hunting’, so I’m sure this will be a recurring post theme.  If you are a fellow geocacher, please add us as a friend on geocaching.com!  Our user name is Life@30ish.

Our Fantastic Family Adventure #1

What is this ‘Fantastic Family Adventure’ you may ask? It is something that was brought to my attention last week, and I have totally gone nuts for it. I spent an entire day reading on it, and today we got to put our plan into action full swing. We like to go on family outings, play games, and just spend time with each other, but most activities are so expensive…bowling, movies, mini-golf, etc. for a family of 6 is just not in our budget often. So, we spent all day today Geocaching. For those of you who are like I was last week, Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. Armed with a GPS (our iPhones), a pen, water, and a baggie of trinkets, we hunted caches – containers ranging in size from a 35mm film canister to an ammo can, containing at the very least a baggie with a log sheet enclosed. We had a blast all day long!
We left the house at 10ish and headed to our first location. (I’m not going to give any details on the locations as not to spoil it for anyone else who wants to attempt geocaching in our area.) We ended up discovering 8 caches today (Big Puppy & I did 2 earlier this week, just to get started)…including 3 in old graveyards, a crazy hike up a stinking mountain, and a few urban areas. Once we located the cache we would sign the log, and if the container is large enough we would leave a trinket & take a trinket for our collection. Here’s some photos of our finds including the items we traded for.

Our 1st find of the day...WTG Princess2T!


Our 2nd find...our first 'micro cache'.


Our 3rd find...graveyard #2. Very cool.


Our 4th find...our final graveyard of the day.


We found it! Crazy hike that took over an hour to complete.


It was an insane hike through the cedar trees, but totally worth the view.


Our first 'urban' cache.


A good cache where we found our 1st travel bug!


Our final cache...a great one to end the day with!


The goodies we've collected thus far.


The kids had such a great time, they tried to ‘one more’ us several times, and want to go again tomorrow after church. When asked what their favorite part was, Froggy said picking the treasures, and the girls all said the hike…we were very surprised that they enjoyed the hardest part of the day! We plan on doing this often (especially on our upcoming vacation), and maybe creating a few of our own. Be sure to check out Geocaching.com if it sounds like something for you & your family…and add me as a friend (Life@30ish)!

The Poo Has Hit The Fan

This week has been immensely stressful.  I don’t know what is going on, but my kids were not themselves this week.  We’ve had some major attitude, talking back, lying, sneakiness, laziness, etc…the list goes on.  There’s been spankings, grounding, yelling, crying, lectures, blah, blah, blah…nothing has worked.  Yesterday was a doozy.  After dealing with all the nonsense of the week, the last straw occurred yesterday morning.  I’ll spare all the details leading up to the blow up, but as Princess2T was storming out the door for school , Big Puppy had enough.  He got in her face and made it known that this crap will no longer be tolerated in our home.  She cried, they left for school.  While in the car, he let them all know that things are going to change…no more half way doing your chores and getting allowance, no more ugliness to any member of our family, NO more lying, no more attitude, etc.  They all cried (he’s typically not the one that lets them have it, so when he does…it’s a serious matter), he explained why things were changing, calmed them all down & dropped them off at school.

Fast forward to after school…  I pick up Chubbs just like any other day, then head over to pick up Princess2T & Pickle.  I pull up to the pick up area, and only see Pickle looking all freaked out.  I get handed a note by the on duty teacher, who happens to be Princess2T’s math teacher, that basically says she decided to ride the bus today.  She was very surprised that she had done something like this because ‘It’s so out of character for her, she’s such a good kid!’ I smiled & told the teacher that I would call her Dad & let him know to be expecting her, all the while I just wanted to cry.  So, since I have to wait for almost another hour for her to get off the bus, I run my errands, then drive over to where she’ll be getting off the bus.  I wish I had recorded the look on her face when she stepped off the bus & saw my truck, I saw her little mouth say ‘Oh my gosh!’  Her Dad then let her know that she can’t just go where she wants, we have a schedule for a reason & we are on the same team.  It doesn’t matter if one of us makes her mad, get over it.  Discuss it with that person, don’t run away…and it is NEVER to happen again.  So, we went home, had a lengthier discussion, and dealt with the punishment. (Come to find out, Pickle had that note all day & didn’t tell anyone, so she got in trouble as well.)

After all that, you’d think that they would actually try to change and do right this morning…uh, no.  They left their chores undone, didn’t get their morning duties done, and still had attitude.  So, we’ve come to the conclusion that our kids were abducted by aliens, and hopefully they’ll be returned next week.

Seriously, we have some major changes that are going to occur in the Alexander household, starting with us, the parents.  I am partially to blame for the craziness since lately I have been so preoccupied with my own stuff, I have been slacking on my quiet time.  I believe that if my relationship with God isn’t right, then how can my relationship with anyone else be?  I am getting back on track with my daily reading and my quiet time…enough is enough.  Do you find that when you start slacking everything goes haywire?

Teaching ‘Paying It Forward’

Over the last few months, we’ve began seriously following a budget.  We’ve found wasted money, places we can cut back, and things we can completely eliminate.  We’ve actually been able to put a little money into a savings account…can you believe it?!  This is a massive turnaround from our situation a few years ago going through foreclosure & bankruptcy at the same time…feeling helpless and hopeless.

During that time we tried to stay positive…praying that our finances would be blessed and that God would fix what we messed up.  We prayed hard core for what seemed like forever, but we didn’t actually let go and trust God with our finances.  Once we did that…all I can say is WOW!  We were short one month by about $240 to pay our bills, and what came in the mail? I kid you not, a check from an ‘overpayment’ to a doctor’s office for $245.  Another instance was we only had one working vehicle at the time (the other was just taking up space in the driveway), and it started running really rough.  We took it in to the mechanic, and it was only running on 7 cylinders…not good.  They fixed it, we wrote the check in faith…not having any clue where we were going to pull the money from, and we drove home.  A couple days later, we received mail from the mechanic.  First thing that popped into my financially exhausted brain was, ‘What now?! Did they forget to bill us for something? How else are they going to try to squeeze money from us?’  I grudgingly opened the envelope, and pulled out the paper.  As I unfolded the statement, a check fell out…for the full amount we had paid.  Written on the statement was a note…it said that they were returning our payment because an angel came in and paid it.  I burst into tears.  It was almost too much.  You hear about this stuff happening, but it doesn’t happen to you…we were blown away.  We began not only praying for our finances to be blessed, but that we could bless others.

Okay, now on to the main point of this post…

Our church, Brand New Church (BNC), started talking about a mission to sponsor orphans in Haiti.  For only $35 a month, we would choose a child from the ACREJAH orphanage in Haiti that we would be providing aid to.  We spoke to our kids about this, and after a small discussion they were super excited about our plan.  We had trusted God with our finances and wanted to share that experience with the kids, while at the same time blessing others.  After checking our budget, we came up with an idea.  Every other week on Tuesday evenings, after Princess2T’s tumbling practice, we stop by McDonald’s and pick up half price Happy Meals and a Free Redbox movie.  This typically costs us about $40 a month.  Along with trust & blessing, we wanted to teach the kids sacrifice.  We presented the idea of cutting down our McDonald’s to one night a month, and with the money saved, adopt an orphan from Haiti (we would cover the remaining amount).  There was absolutely no resistance…the kids were totally, 100% on board.  Meet our precious orphan…

In addition to the monthly $35, we plan on sending goodie boxes as well once we figure out what would be appropriate to send to Haiti…we’re not real sure about all the rules & regulations yet.  Chubbs actually thought we were adopting her, and that she was going to come live with us.  The other girls talked about going to visit someday, and Froggy made her a Valentine. I am so proud of my kids & pray this is the beginning of a lifetime of ‘Paying It Forward’, being a blessing, and God sized vision.

*NOTE* The ‘God sized vision’ of BNC has sponsored every child in the ACREJAH orphanage & our church has started sponsoring in a second.  We are beyond blessed to have a pastor, Shannon O’Dell, that isn’t afraid to step out and try new things.  If you are interested in sponsoring an orphan or for more information, please either contact me or Brand New Church directly HERE.