Thursday, September 3, 2015

Girl Mom Series: Rebekah, Living && Learning

 Hi! I'm Rebekah and I blog at Living && Learning. I blog about life in general and whatever strikes my fancy that day. I've been married for four and a half years to my wonderfully supportive husband, John. We have two daughters, Coralie (23 months) and our brand new, 6 week old Ada!
I'm so excited to be a part of this awesome series, thank you for having me Beth! 

(I'm failing on the picture front... this is as close to a family of 4 picture I have since I'm pregnant in the picture - we apparently haven't taken one of all of us since she arrived!)

Two years ago, as I was anticipating Coralie Elizabeth's arrival I was so nervous to enter the world of motherhood because I didn't have my own Momma. Everyone I knew about my age had their mom & as they birthed their own babies their Mommas were there helping so much in those early weeks. I couldn't imagine going through this drastic, life-changing transition without her. I had never imagined growing up, that as I welcomed my first child, my mother would only be present in Spirit and Namesake.  

In those first few weeks and months, I felt closer to Mom than I had since our Father called her Home. I realized that part of her was in me, more than just her DNA - all those years of observing her raising my baby brothers and I had become a part of me, just as ingrained as my genetics. I saw her in the faces I would make at my own baby, the little songs I'd hum through the mundane tasks of diaper changes and endless laundry. These chores I found myself not minding because it is all just a part of caring for this little Blessing. I also realized, As much as I missed Mom and wanted her here, she had taught me what I needed to know and I stood on my own two feet and owned motherhood (...most days haha)!

I think that it's really easy to get wrapped up in our day-to-day lives and to forget the big picture. Now that Cora is older, noisier and messier, it's easier to forget that she's a little sponge! When she makes a mess or does something very child-like (but still quite aggravating) it is so easy to get frustrated. I know that every mom has been there, you don't want to be mad but you are because now you have one more mess to clean up! On days like this I try really hard to remember that how I react reflects on my daughters more than just today... I'm raising future mothers! I see so much of my mother in me (more and more each day!) and one day, Lord willing, I will watch my daughters as they raise their daughters and sons and I'm sure I will see myself in them and their parenting. I pray that the reflections of myself are positive and what I want to see when I look in the mirror of time. 

Our baby girls are influenced by their surroundings at such an early age. Cora who is barely talking is already practicing her Momma skills with her baby doll (and occasionally sissy when Mommy doesn't stop her less-than-gentle comforting techniques quickly enough!). This last December we gifted Cora "Dolly" at Christmas. We thought it would be a fun toy since we were about 2 months along with Ada. Little 14 month old Cora had no idea I was pregnant, hadn't ever seen me with another baby (much less an infant) but she instinctively knew how to sweetly rock Dolly and put her in the car seat carrier! She cared for her "baby" the way I cared for her. Dolly is still her favorite toy, while I swaddle Ada, Cora tightly wraps Dolly in receiving blankets. Just about everything I do in taking care of Ada is mirrored by Cora. It is so sweet to watch and such a conviction that her little feet are following in my footsteps! 

Becoming a mother of two connects me to my own Mom in such a new way. More than once I've mentioned to my Dad or a brother about "how did Mom keep her sanity?!". I look back on some of what must have been the days she spent in the trenches of motherhood with much more guilt for what we put her through, but also an abundance of grace and compassion for some of her reactions. If my babies do what we did, oh goodness - if I only have half the graciousness my mother did I will consider it a success!

The other night my husband and I took the girls for a walk. As we walked an area my own mother walked many times, it struck me how much she would have loved being a Grandma to my baby girls. Tell your daughters you love them! Remember that your words and actions are molding future Mommas. The days are long, but oh how short these years are!

Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us Rebekah. I so often forget how much the way I mother my girls will influences them. Life provide us with countless opportunities to teach our children and sometimes the most obvious one, our example, is easy to look over. My prayer is that we will teach them well. That we would be humble enough to confess our wrongs and apologize when we mess up. And that we would continuously point them towards Jesus as we live a life following after Him.

If you would like to share your "Girl Mom" story I have a few more openings in November before taking a break for the holiday season.
You can fill out this survey and I will be in touch.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Monthly Goals {September 2015}

August is gone.

August is over and with it comes the feeling that summer is officially over too. We are well into the routine that that the school year brings, our tans are now fading and we start to look forward too all things fall. 

This month was busy and full of lots of change, but we still managed to cross off most of our goals.

*Continue blogging 4-5 days a week.
*Participate in a new to me link-up
*With school starting back up I want to try and write more posts on the weekends

Posts were wrote and mostly wrote on the weekends. Sometimes this feels a bit like cheating but most of the time I just can't write a post the day before it publishes. I know SO many of you can relate to that too. My kids don't take naps, my house needs to maintain some level of cleanliness and I have kids to teach along with all the other household duties of the day. Getting 2-3 post done on the weekend is the only thing that keeps 5 posts a week happening during the school year.

I did find a new link up this month. 

 Let’s Be Friends

This link up goes live every Tuesday morning and you simply link up your favorite post from the last week. 

If you want to check out more you can visit Tiffany & Chelsee's sites for more info.

*Ice cream or donut date
*Wrap up our summer bucket list
*Family movie or game night
*Take both girls out on individual dates

Family time was abundant this month!
We some how miraculously finished up our summer bucket list this past weekend by making popsicles.
Stay tuned for a bucket list highlight post next week.

We went on another milk shake date.

Watched Home with the girls.
And had two date nights where we took turns spending one on one time with the girls. 

*Exercise at least 5 days a week.
*Finish stage 2 & most of stage 3 in "The New Rules" program.
*Find a better balance in my nutrition.
*Encourage others more.

Exercise is always the area that comes easiest for me. Probably because I would go insane if I gave that up. I got in my 5 work outs every week and squeezed in a great 4 mile run with Anna. We hadn't ran together in almost 2 months so we had lots to talk about... when we could actually talk. 

Stage 3 of the new rules program was completed the last day of the month! Onto Stage 4! 

Encouraging others along there fitness journey is always something I not only love to do but comes natural for me. This month I tried to be more intentional. I want to be a person that always says you can to others and pushes them towards achieving their goals, whatever they may be. 

Nutrition, meh. I did better but not amazing. I did recently find a printable food journal to try through September. We'll see how that goes next month.

*Read Women of the Word
*Resume Bible study meetings with Sarah. 
*Pray more in good times and bad

Still working on the book. Sarah and I met a couple times to talk about the book but we need to get back at it on a more consistent basis.

My prayer life has definitely improved over the past month which I think is a result of feeling completely broken.

Home School-
*Finish summer off with a celebratory & fun last week
*Participate in the Back To School blog hop on August 12th
*Take back to school photos.
*Start off the school year strong and prayerfully.

We had a great final week of summer including pool trips, lunch dates and daddy taking the afternoon off work.

The blog hop was huge success, thank you!

Our back to school photos turned out amazing this year. The girls seriously brought their A game. I wish taking photos of these to was always that easy.

Our first few weeks of school have gone really well, thank God.
I really think this is going to be our best school year yet!

*Celebrate 8 years of marriage
*Date night at the dirt track
*Attend a baseball game
*Girls night out
*Print out my goals for this month ;).

8 years was celebrated twice! Once at the dirt track, once at the car show
Yup, we really are car people... and a little redneck too. 

The baseball game never worked out #sadface and I didn't get a girls night out worked in either #doublesadface. A girls night out is high on my priority list for next month.

I also technically didn't ever print out my goals. But I did check in on them once a week so we'll call that one good. 

*Continue blogging 4-5 days a week.
*Re-do images for a few of my fall posts
*Participate in a new link-up

*Family donut date
*Family trip to the Frisco Trails
*Attend a festival
*Attend a car show or cruise night

*Exercise at least 5 days a week
*Begin and complete Stage 4 of the new rules program 
*Keep a written food journal
*Do a 5 mile run once a week

*Continue reading Women of the Word
*Resume Bible study meetings with Sarah
*Be real about where I am, pray more

Home School-
*Stay on track with lesson plans
*Plan one field trip

*Girls night out
*Decorate for fall making one new piece
*Get some canning done
*Create and share a fall bucket list
*Implement a new meal planning system

September promises to be another busy month as we say goodbye summer and hello fall!


Do you have any goals for September?

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup {Recipe}

Almost a month ago I shared a post giving all the details on how you can easily brew amazing iced coffee at home. It was and has been a lifesaver for this busy on the go family. Being able to walk to my fridge with a cup of ice and make myself a delicious iced coffee, while standing there with the door open?! It doesn't get much better than that and you have whole heartedly agreed. My iced coffee post quickly earned a spot in my top blog posts with almost 2,000 views so far. 

There was just one problem to my new found iced coffee love...
The coffee syrup.

Anyone buy a bottle of coffee syrup lately?
At nearly $4 a bottle that flavored sugar water is expensive.

There are few things I love more than figuring out ways to save money in the kitchen. Knowing there must be a solution I began searching and discovered something amazing along the way.

Do I have you attention now?
Let's get started!

1.5 Cups Sugar
1.5 Cups Water
4 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2.5 T Pumpkin puree

*The substitution for cinnamon sticks would be 4 tsp of cinnamon. That said the same results are not guaranteed.
I plan to test this out more closely with my next batch.

1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan.
2. Stir frequently until the water and the sugar come to a boil.
3. Add the spices and the puree and simmer for 12 minutes. 
4. Pour the mixture over a fine mesh strainer.
5 Allow the mixture to cool. Pour into an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. 


It's the perfect syrup for the perfect season.
Maybe you will even save some money since you won't need to make quite as many pit stops at "The Bucks" this pumpkin spice season.

You are welcome ;).

Now it's your turn to link up with Tuesday Talk!
Meet your hosts!
Becky from BYBMG, Beth from Our Pretty Little Girls, Whitney from Polka-Dotty Place, Elizabeth from All Kinds of Things, Tara from Mrs.Coach Sims, Keri from Living In This Season, Sarah from Abiding In Grace, Lauren from Simply Free , Emily from Morning Motivated Mom, and Jessica & Katie from Sweet Little OnesChristina from Waltzing In Beauty, Amy from Go Forth and Mother & Michelle from Grammie Time

I'd love for you to grab the button on my side bar and link up with us this week!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Jumping To A Healthier You!

Happy Monday morning friends. 
I hope that you had a great weekend!

Today I want to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart,

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite ways to add some fun to my exercise routine, the benefits it provides and a great new product that makes it easier.

Jumping rope can:
*Improve Coordination
*Decrease foot and ankle injuries
*Burn a high numbers of calories
*Improve cardiovascular health
*Increase endurance

And that only names some of the benefits.

Long gone are the days when jumping rope was something that little girls did with beaded jump ropes.

Allow me to introduce you to the TKO Soft Grip Jump Rope
It is 9 feet of smooth PVC rope, has comfortable soft grip handles and functions smooth enough to make the least coordinated of us look like a pro in not time. 

My favorite part about this rope is easily the handles. They are the perfect size making them really natural to hold and have an excellent grip. Did I mention they function perfectly too? Half of the battle of jumping rope is a rope that works smoothly. The TKO Soft Grip Jump Rope is top of the line.

TKO workout ropes are affordable and fun letting you add variety to your fitness routine. That means less boredom at the gym or anywhere you choose to take your TKO rope!

Jumping rope is such a versatile way of exercising.
HIIT  or endurance, traditional jumps, high leg, one leg, alternating. 
The options are abundant!

Utilizing your legs, arms and core muscles jumping rope is a full body workout that can burn up to 170 calories in 15 minutes, yes please! I have absolutely loved rediscovering my love for jumping rope and I know you would too.

Thank you TKO for letting me try your product and share it with my readers today. 
Be sure to check out these other great products from TKO as well.

 I received this product free in exchange for my review. 
For more info you can see my disclosure statement. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Highlights 8.28.15

Hello Friday!

It's Friday again and we some how miraculously managed to finish all of our school work during our four day school week. Which means it's a 3 day weekend for the Newman girls! Maybe we'll go to Hobby Lobby and spy out some fall decor, hit up Target, or look for new pumpkin recipes. #kiddingnotkidding.
Fall is coming and we are ready!

Now for this weeks Friday picks.

{ONE}  On The Blog This Week

This week:
I did a guest post on Being Mrs. Beer answering the top 5 questions people ask me about homeschool.

Recapped our weekend at the 2015 HAMB Drag Nationals.

Shared some of my favorite tools and techniques for teaching pre-schoolers.

And told the story of the very first time I told Russ I was pregnant.

{TWO} 1953 Ford F100

Something about this time of year gives us the urge to buy another old car. Last year we picked up our still unfinished 37 Ford. This past Tuesday we went for a drive to take a look at this gem.

The Mr. knows I have ALWAYS wanted and old truck and I think he is taking advantage of that. Either that or being incredibly sweet.

We are still undecided on if we are going to take the plunge and buy her, but we should figure that out soon enough. Buying old ratty cars is just a way we invest money so as long as we get a good deal I am always happy about our purchases. After all they do just keep getting more and more rare. 

In the mean time at least I snapped this great photo. I see it framed and on display in our home in the very near future.

{THREE} Insta-lately

I have been trying to post at least one photo to Instagram every day lately. I don't want to over-gram my life and let's face it, there just isn't enough time. But I do love Instagram more than any other social media platform. 

Here are a few favorites from recently
We all squeezed in the Model A and drove a couple blocks to a car show.

Weather in the 60's has meant LOTS of walks.

This is how I do it #momstyle

My chalkboard fun continued with a special one celebrating wedding anniversary #8!

If you aren't currently following my on Instagram I would LOVE to connect with you there. Find me here, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to follow you back!

{FOUR} Fall Bucket List

Is it too soon to start dreaming up our fall bucket list in my head?
I think not. 

This was last years Fall list.

I'd love to change it for the same of variety, but this list seems pretty hard to beat if you ask me!

What would you add or change?

{FIVE} Be Thou My Vision

The other day I was sitting at the desk writing up a list of to-do's when I was struck by this song.

Suddenly my goals, plans and visions seemed so worthless. 
I laid my list aside and doodled up this.

My prayer for the week quickly became that I would desire God's vision more than my own.
I have a feeling this prayer is going to stick around for quite some time.

Friday Linkup Parties

To see where I am linking up check out my link-up tab.

Have a great weekend!
We will see you back here soon.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Looking Back: The Very First Time I Told Him I Was Pregnant

Hello Thursday!

The week has been long but good and it is finally Friday Eve. Thank you Jesus!
 The weekend just never seems to come fast enough.

Today I want to tell you a story that I have wanted to write about for almost a year now. The story of  the very first time I said the words "I'm pregnant".  I usually don't blog about the past but since my stories out date my blogging days I thought it may be fun to go back and share the special ones. 

*DISCLAIMER* I do feel the need to warn you that a curse word may or may not be involved, sorry mom. Secondly I also feel I should say that I now realize using a curse word and the phrase "I'm pregnant" in the same breath is not the classiest way to go about things.
With that in mind, here we go!

October 2007

In October of 2007 we were newly married and on our way to Florida. This was our very first big trip together since we never really took a honeymoon. During our trip I was.... well lets just say some may use the word psycho. Crying at anything, mean, overly emotional, angry and more. The mood swings were strong, unpredictable and often. People aren't supposed to act like this on vacation, are they? It is a small miracle that Russ didn't divorce me as soon as we got back home friends. Thankfully he was and still is a man of patience and grace.

We arrived back home and the crazy came with us. I assumed I was just a hormonal train wreck but eventually I decided I had to rule out pregnancy. So Saturday morning I woke up peed in a cup and headed off to Walmart (wow this story gets classier every second). I ran in Walmart (leaving the pee in the car) grabbed the cheapest pregnancy test I could and ran back out before I bumped into any one. Which makes me wonder if any other happily married women ever have the fear of bumping into someone you know while buying a pregnancy test? Safely back in my car I dipped it, capped it and tossed that bad boy into the passenger floorboard. Then I pressed my head back into the seat and quietly waited. A minute later I did a peek followed by a double take and then a full body lean. 

There it was +. 
I was shocked.

One million thoughts and questions flooded my brain. Feeling of being completely ecstatic to worry over how he might react. We both wanted this but didn't expect the blessing to come so quickly. I went to work for what seemed like the longest Saturday morning ever, I am pretty sure I didn't even do any actual work. If my memory serves me correctly I secretly googled anything pregnancy related I could think of. Finally after what felt like forever my half day was over and I headed home, pregnant, to my husband who was still clueless.

And then things got interesting.

Did I brainstorm a way to announce the baby, No. Did I wrap the test up for him, No. 
Did I buy a card, write a poem, make a dinner or buy a onesie?

No, No, No, NO!

So what did I do? 

I stormed into the house where he happened to be taking a shower. Banged on the bathroom door, flung it open and in a loud annoyed voice said "Well, I figured out why I've been so b*#%*y lately!" To which he responded, "Huh?" Then I angrily blurted out "I'm PREGNANT" slammed the door and walked off. 

I still can't believe that's how it all went down. 

Maybe it was the hormones, the so called crazy I was feeling. Maybe I was simply terrified and didn't know how to process my feelings. The good news is I look back at this story with no regrets. Sure it was less than ideal but at least it makes for a funny story. 

Besides when he finally came out of the shower and I showed him the test he still refused to believe I was actually pregnant and repeatedly told me I wasn't for days and weeks to come.
It seems I'm not the only one who was caught off guard by the big news.

About 6 Weeks later we were both made believers when we saw our baby on screen for the first time.

We joyfully told our parents and friends and don't worry, I made sure to leave curse words out of those announcements.

How did you share the big news with your husband the very first time?
(Go ahead with your sweet stories, I can take it.)

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