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My grandma passed away a week ago; today was the memorial service and “celebration” of her life party. It was a beautiful day, exactly how she would have wanted it! Yet, there is still a sadness and a void straining to be filled by the many, many memories of this amazing lady I was blessed to have as my grandma!

I spoke at her funeral, thought I would share:

My grandma was a beautiful, generous, and sweet lady. Everyone who met her loved her.

My kids loved their GG and loved visiting her. They made her cards and pictures when she was sick. Little Marin would drag her around the house; Mason would jump on her chair or bed; Mackenzie would talk to her and tell her stories. I hope they brought her more joy than grief from the red jello spilled on white carpet and rough housing on couches.

Not only was she a blessing to my kids, she has been one to me. I was lucky to get to spend lots of time with her growing up: grilled cheese sandwiches at Broadway, sleep-overs complete with the beach, treats from Vons, boxes of animal crackers, dress up with her high heels and clip on earrings, eggs with bacon and cinnamon rolls in the morning; black Friday and birthday shopping trips, hanging out at BBKs and eating stuffed tomatoes for lunch, drives down south to visit Betty… She always made time for us and made us feel special.

And then all the little things that were Her: boysenberry pies, ice cream roll for birthdays, melting moments and stockings at Christmas, Ginger ale in the fridge, Early Times, her white tin pan of toxic smelling cleaner, black sweaters and pearls, her necklaces, her candies, cards, thank yous…

My memories are many and great and like my brother Sean said recently, “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” I’m going to miss her humor, conversations, and just seeing her. But I’m so thankful for the life she shared and the legacy she left behind.

She taught us so much… to share your food and home with family, friends, and strangers. To make people feel special through dinner invitations, a note, a gift, or a pie. How to dress with style, how to keep a home and how to entertain. She taught us to value family, to have fun, to laugh, and to fill your home with people. I thank her for the love, manners, and lessons she instilled in me. I love you grandma. Our memories are treasures.

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Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I think this is something we forget as we walk through life. We forget about God’s call to trust Him and not the world to REALLY TRULY KNOW that He is with us wherever we go and no matter what happens.

I was listening to one of Dave Teixeira’s (Ventura Missionary Church) messages recently, there was some great and encouraging thoughts:

People forget God’s power and faithfulness… God is always calling His people to trust Him again… As I was with Moses, so I will be with you, I will never leave you or forsake you… God says never forget what I have done… my promise to go before you… God knows that time and time again in this world His followers will face fear, discouragement, doubt… God says remember, remember who I am and what I have done… time and time again… Look back to find faith to move ahead… And never forget whose story this is… Give fully the glory to God…

There is so much peace in knowing God and trusting God and glorifying God that He has a plan for my life and that He has written the story of my life (and your life).

As many of you may know, my family and I are on a “road trip”. We have been gone for almost a month and have visited seven states so far. Some days are long, some days I want a few minutes alone from husband and children, some days I just want to jump back into my regular life back home, but for the most part I am thoroughly enjoying the adventure, the sights, my children’s reactions, the people, the experiences, and just being together as a family. I highly recommend going on a road trip- most won’t find themselves in the unique situation we did and have the flexibility of months of exploration, but carve out a week and leave it open-ended and flexible… see what you discover.

So, if you happen to be moving and going on a trip here is the list for you:

Closing up the home:
-cancel water
-cancel trash
-cancel gas
-cancel electric
-cancel TV/phone/Internet
-cancel gardener
*You can do some of these online, and you can do all of these ahead of time- at the same time change your address on the accounts for last bills.

Finances:
-arrange for any income to be direct deposited
-have a relative become a signer on any local bank accounts you hold
-set up through Bill Pay your bills to be paid for the time you are on the trip
-change addresses on bills, magazines, insurances, all accounts
-change your address at the post office (online)
-change your address at the DMV (also covers you for voting)
-Budget out your trip

Moving Tips:
-go through each room, looking for: donations, give-aways, craigslist/ebay/selling worthy items- start a couple weeks before you want to start packing
-Pack and move to the garage immediately non-essential items (books, etc.)
-Start the tear down/packing portion when you are ready to be done comfortably living in your house- keep this as quick as possible- enlist friends help- girls night!
-Make sure you have plenty of packing tape, boxes (check with friends, craigslist for free boxes), packing material (bubble wrap, newsprint…) BEFORE you start
-Make a meal plan that is doable for you during the crazy packing weeks- frozen pizza, dinner with friends or family, PB&J, salads

Trip Tips:
-make a packing list
-pack your car, bags, trailer… as you pack up your house
-finish this up before the crazy packing begins!

A day about death, followed by Easter- a day about life. Christ died for our sins, so that we can live.

After many unanticipated life circumstances, we decided selling our house was the best financial decision we could make. And then after months of having it on the market and all that goes with that… Well, this Friday our house sold- death to ourselves with anticipation of our new life ahead. Anticipation of our new life and God’s plans revealed.

As parents, we look to others for guidance and the how-to as we navigate the new waters of parenting and each new stage. Sometimes we do this consciously and sometimes it seems to be more of a sub-conscious decision to follow the norm.

I challenge you to consider each choice you make as a parent carefully. Don’t just figure because x is right for the majority it is right for you and your child.

Clothing, media, curfews, activities, school all test us as parents. We often default to the current trend or popular decision or what seems to be the “norm” for a certain age. Sometimes we aren’t even happy with our decision, but we figure we are just being silly because “everyone else is doing it.” (A mentality we find ourselves falling into, yet desperately want our children to always avoid.)

Before you tell your child, “Yes, they can watch Alladin” or “Yes, they can listen to Hannah Montana.” or “Yes, they can start wearing x.” Ask yourself if you really think that is best for your child and your family. Does it fit with your values? Can your child resist any temptation given from the situation? Is your child mature enough to understand? Are you saying yes to avoid a conflict with your child? Are you saying yes because other parents are saying yes?

I challenge you to parent boldly and resist the urge to follow the norm. Parent for your child. Parent as God calls YOU to parent.

One of my friends recently made a very bold parenting decision- she pulled her son out of preschool. There was another child that was influencing her son greatly in a very poor way. And they tried to work with the situation, but they identified that the son could not handle the situation, and the behaviors were effecting home life greatly. So, she boldly went against what she had wanted and against the grain and pulled him out.

Another family I know has given their high schooler very specific movie watching guidelines and any movie that she watches that pushes these guidelines must be run by the parents. This means she calls to find out about a movie when she is at a friend’s house. This may mean she has to tell a friend she can’t watch a movie. She respectfully follows her parent’s guidelines. This does not follow the norm but fits with the parents beliefs and desires for their children.

Before you buy your child a top that you think may not be appropriate, but they really really want, give yourself permission to say no and consider your decision carefully.

Before you let your child start driving or dating- consider your child, are they ready? How were their personality handle each situation they are challenged with?

Look at your child, their unique strengths and weaknesses, how they make decisions, your families morals and values… Adjust your decisions accordingly.

As part of my monthly shopping, I pay a visit to the local Costco. I know what items I will get there and I know what items have the best price at Costco. Again, buying in bulk is a great practice as you try to minimize spending.

Some items to consider buying at Costco:
-frozen blueberries
-nuts
-Organic quinoa
-peanut butter
-Cheese
-Chunk Light Tuna
-TP
-butter
-Yeast
-Wild Fish

I’m sure that this question prompts a long brainstorm of things you want to instill or encourage or even train in your children as they grow into independently functioning adults.
Some things that may come to mind:
-a variety of life skills: brushing teeth and flossing, cleaning up after yourself, cooking…
-developing their talents, passions, and interests
-character traits: honesty, patience…
-a passion to serve others

The list probably moves from simple to complex in your mind as your child grows and matures. Have you spent time thinking about what you want to instill in them and how you will go about doing that?

Right now, I want my children to be polite and have good table manners (among other things). So, as part of their chore chart we are working on a different skill at dinner each week. Last week, we worked on putting our cup in the top right hand corner of their place mat. That was our only table expectation for them last week. This week we are working on saying “please” and “thank you”. I am trying to deliberately and slowly work on the things I want to instill in my children age appropriately.

How are you identifying these things and working to instill them in your children? What does your time, your child’s time, the activities you choose to participate in, the time you spend as a family reflect? Thoughts for pondering…

I encourage you to go through the following exercise in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs…

Make a list of all the things you shop for on a regular basis, as you shop the various stores you purchase them write down the prices (make sure to pay attention to quantity and like items). Excel is a nice way to do this for the computer savvy.

I recently completed this exercise and was surprised by a few of the prices. Now, as I do my minimal monthly/weekly shopping I am aware of where I want to purchase particular items to get the best price while still considering quality.

Last week, I held a cooking class on homemade snack foods. We covered different types of crackers, hummus, and granola bars. We also discussed about incorporating veggies and fruit into snack life.

Snack time tends to be a time where you need and want something quick and easy. You want to limit mess and clean up since you do it all day.
A couple problems with snack foods: (1) our children seem to only want them and not a normal meal (2) too much snack food is consumed taking away from the nutritional main meals we provide them with (3) the snack food we provide may be better considered junk food.
A you consider the health issue regarding snack foods: Take a look at the labels of snack foods you buy- what are you really giving your child?

Snacks to consider:
– cut up veggies w/ or w/o hummus
-fruit
-homemade granola bars
-cheese wrapped in a piece of turkey
-apple or banana with peanut butter
-celery with peanut butter and raisins
-granola mixed with dry fruit
-nuts (if age appropriate)
-a slice of cheese or string cheese
– a small cup of granola
-yogurt- get plain and sweeten with honey and fruit or a small scoop of jam
-a smoothie

Other thoughts:
-have a shelf of fruits and veggies that can be eaten whenever a snack is wanted
-limit snack time to only fruits and vegetables
-only serve water outside of meal times and make it a standard

Granola Bars- like Nature’s Valley

3 ½ c rolled oats (toast first)
1 c nuts (whatever you want)
1 c raisins, cranberries, or choc chips
½ c coconut
2/3 c coconut oil
½ c honey (could do half molasses)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla

1. Toast oats by spreading on a cookie sheet and baking in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
2. Mix all ingredients- I like to use a cuisenart.
3. Press into a greased cookie sheet
3. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until brown around the edges. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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