PJ Mask Bean Bags and Target

For KM’s second birthday, I invite family and friends to celebrate with us. Because I know children of all ages are going to be at my house, I want to keep games and activities fun for all.

Much to my dismay, barely anyone showed up. Read Disappointment at a Child’s Party for the details. However, that did not stop the children who were there from having fun. I created masks and bean bags with targets for the children activities.

Working full time and having children, I know that I need time and help when making the bean bags and the target. I start two weeks in advanced to ensure I have enough time to get everything done, as well as being considerate of my help’s schedule.

First, the target:

For the target, I reused the props I had for WP’s party this year. He wanted a Fireman’s Party, so I made buildings and used streamers to represent fire.

KM’s party is PJ Mask themed. I use the burning buildings and turn it into the City Night off of PJ MASK. I replace the fire streamers with solid yellow to represent the lights.

MATERIALS:

  • Sheet of Plywood
  • Black Paint
  • Paint Roller or Paint Brush
  • Yellow Streamers
  • Tape
  • Someone who knows how to work a saw in order to cut out the buildings

With one sheet of plywood, I am able to make 3-4 buildings (Depends on how big you want your buildings)

I give JT the instructions on what I am looking for (squares and/or rectangles that will represent windows on a building). He gets to work and makes my buildings. Afterwards, it is up to me to finish.

I buy a quart of black paint and a paint roller and I get to work. Once all of the buildings are painted, I cut the streams to fit the size of the windows and proceed with taping it as needed.

VIOLA!! You now have the City Night off of PJ Mask!!

pin-target

Next, the bean bags:

Please do not be fooled by the name. Yes it is called BEAN bags but you DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, want to use actual beans as a filler. Two problems with using beans: 1) over time, it will attract bugs 2) if it gets wet, it will swell.

MATERIALS:

  • Fabric color of your choice ( I used Green (Gekko) Blue (CatBoy) Red (Owlette) and Black (the Villians)–I bought a half for each.
  • 25 lb bag of Aquarium Rocks
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine or someone who knows how to sew.

So, one year for Christmas, after hearing me say I wished I knew how to sew using a machine, my mother sporadically bought me a Brother’s Sewing Machine. It has a DVD Tutorial on How to Use it and everything… THANK HEAVENS!! Between my mom and I, we were able to make the bean bags.

We cut the fabric into 16 even strips. (Each color made 16 bean bags)

We sewed three of the four ends together completely and the fourth end we sewed half way across. Once the “bag” was formed, we turned it outside in–because when you will sew it, your finished product will have the inside of the bag showing on the outside.

Then, I filled the bags–Thanks to my dad’s creativity, I used a cut water bottle as a funnel. Standard funnels are too narrow for the rocks to pass through without getting stuck and requiring work. the mouth piece to a water bottle is wide enough to allow the rocks to pass through easily.  You will want to cut your water bottle so that you can pour a scoop of rocks in it. I also used a measuring cup to help cut back on the mess that pouring it directly from the bag causes. Using a measuring cup also gives you a more consistent fill. I used my half cup scoop and fourth cup scoop.

Once the bags are filled, you need to sew the opened end closed.

SEWING TIP: When you sew your bags, make sure to double or triple stitch so the bags don’t bust open when it hits a solid surface. I had a 13 year old and 11 year old throwing my bean bags with all of their might and the bags never once bust open.

pin-beanbags

TAH-DAH!!!! You now have your own bean bag and target prop. One thing I learned with my children, they LOVE to throw. This is perfect for them to throw and having the target allows for hand eye coordination.

What do you think? I would LOVE to hear from you! Leave me your comments and suggestions!!

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With Love,
Elizabeth

 

D.I.Y. P.J. Mask-Masks

DIY Children's Masks

For KM’s second birthday, I invite family and friends to celebrate with us. Because I know children of all ages are going to be at the party, I want to keep games and activities fun for all.

Much to my dismay, barely anyone showed up. Read Disappointment at a Child’s Party for the details. However, that did not stop the children who were there from having fun. I created masks and bean bags with targets for the children activities.

Thanks to the wonderful website of PJ Mask, I was able to print out PJ Mask masks. The website is full of wonderful activities, color sheets, and props for the children. There is an adult site and a kids site. I used the Adult Site to print the PJ Mask masks.

Once I printed what I needs, I then set forth to cut out the faces.

I opted, due to time constraints and blistered fingers, to hot glue tongue depressors to the back of the masks. Another option is to laminate the masks in order to use stretchy string so the children can wear the masks instead of holding it to their little faces.

Below is a list of products that can be used to make the masks, as well as a picture of my final product.

The list represents affiliate links, which simply means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the site, at no extra cost to you

Printer– I LOVE this printer. I have been using it for a few years now and would never buy another one. The print quality is AMAZING and the print speed is great! You cannot go wrong with this printer.

Color Ink– With the printer mentioned above, this is the ink that is needed.

Paper– I am not picky when it comes to paper. I feel as though they all do the same thing. I LOVE shopping Target so I stick with the target brand.

Tongue Depressors– I used what I had on hand left over from other projects. I always use the natural color because you can always paint or design it if you choose. However, if you want it to blend in, I recommend going with the colored sticks.

Hot Glue Gun-I am a DIY Crafter. I love using my glue gun for my crafts. I love this gun because of the dual temperature control, as well as the kick stand for it.

Glue Sticks-Again with the, a glue stick is a glue stick. I am not picky. For me, the cheaper the better. I use this one.

Laminating Machine-Yes, I do have a laminating machine. With all my children, it was cheaper for me to buy one than to keep paying a local company to do it for me. Plus, I can do it on my own time from the comfort of my home. This machine is very compact and easy to use. I LOVE IT!!

Laminate Paper– Ok, so if you don’t have the machine and don’t want to buy it but still want to laminate stuff, feel free to use the self-laminating pouches and sheets by Scotch. However, since I do have the machine, and I think the heat and press makes it last longer, I use these sheets by Scotch. Completely up to you!

Stretchy String-Elastic string is the best to use in order to fit most sizes around the head. It can easily be found in any of your craft stores or craft section of your favorite store!

Scissors- Ya’ll, scissors are scissors. It does not matter which ones you use. Honestly. I really prefer the Scotch brand but I love Scotch brand for most products! And this one is a GREAT deal. 2 for 1 pack!!

 

So, if you want to stick with the tongue depressors, then there is no need for the laminating machine, lament paper or stretchy string. From my experience with younger children, the tongue depressor route is the better route because children tend to get fussy about having elastic around their heads/faces.

However, if you prefer to laminate, you must first laminate the masks ( I recommend laminating the whole sheet–saves your hands on cutting). Cut the masks, make little holes and attach the stretchy string.

 

I’d love you hear from you! Please leave your comment!

Disappointment for a Child’s Party

Saturday was KM’s 2nd birthday party. He LOVES Gekko off of PJ Mask, so why not go with a PJ Mask themed party! I spend two weeks gathering and buying materials to create games, make decorations, and provide food. I invite about 25-30 guests (adults and children) a month in advance so everyone can mark it on their calendars. My baby boy will have an AWESOME party!

Games, Decorations, and Food

Since so many children will be at the party, I aim to keep things fun. It is a child’s birthday after all. I make masks for the kids to where. My mom and I team up to make bean bags. I create “the city” like on PJ Mask. I make sure all of my children’s ride on vehicles are charged and ready to go. I order a cake. I buy hamburgers and hotdogs and the garnishments to go with it. I buy balloons, a Happy Birthday banner, plates, forks, spoons, knives, napkins, cups, everything essential for a party where guests confirm they are coming. I spend the rest of my Friday, after working all day, making cookies and cake pops. Two weeks worth of planning and preparing so my guests and KM have a wonderful time.

No one showed up.

I am VERY, VERY happy that my baby doesn’t know better yet. I am disappointed for him but I plaster a smile to my face and push forward. I have to. He does not know any better and I refuse to show him any differently. Out of EVERYONE that is invited, KM’s Godfather, his wife, and their son show up. My brother, MJ, who lives in Lake Charles is also there, and my cousin, who is like a sister to me, along with her two sons (my Godsons) are there. KM’s Godmother shows up, as well as my parents. I am heartbroken. I am devastated. Not because I spend all of my energy and put forth so much hard work, but because people cannot get out of their own way to support and celebrate a CHILD.

Those who matter are there

I have to keep reminding myself that the ones who matter are here. I know that statement to be true, it just hurts my heart that he doesn’t have more people to care. Seriously, out of the 25-30 people I invited, only 10 show up. TEN. And honestly, three of those are children who don’t really have a say-so. So, technically, seven. SEVEN people show up for my sweet baby.

Disappointment

My aunts and uncles that I invited did not show up. My friends that I invited, did not show up. All of these people who have children and who would want and expect me to be there for their children’s events did not show up for my child. My heart is heavy enough for KM. He will probably never have a birthday party where both of his biological parents will be there. This year, he had neither one. I know he has been given the shit end of the stick, but I refuse to ever let him know. The benefit of him being so young is that he will never remember any of this. Also, he will grow up learning his own version of normal. While I am disappointed in my family and friends, I will make sure he never knows how he was passed over.

Why I don’t blast my children all over Facebook and Social Media.

I am asked quite often why I do not put pictures up and share stories of my children on Facebook or Social Media. The simple truth, I believe if people want to know about my children and be a part of their lives, then they need to do so physically. If you want to see how my children are growing, then come visit them or ask me about them. Pick up a phone and call me. Be a part of their lives. If you cannot do that, then you do not need to know via Facebook or any other Social Media outlet.

Now for the fun and games

Below are the pictures from his birthday party. There are links to separate posts for the HOW-TOs on making the masks, bean bags, buildings, cake pops, cookies, and icing. Please check it out and feel free to leave me comments and suggestions!

 

 

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With Love,
Elizabeth

Ice that Cookie with 5 Ingredients

What better way to ice the Quick and Easy Tea Cookies other than using a 5-Ingredient icing?! You can adjust the consistency of the icing to fit what you need.

When I bake tea cookies, I enjoy decorating the cookies for what I need. For WP’s 4th Birthday, I made fire trucks and the number 4 to look like Dalmatians. For KM’s 2nd party, he wanted PJ Mask themed. I made the #2 and made them red, green, and blue.

the 5 Ingredients

  • food coloring
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (maybe a little more to get desired consistency)
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 cups confections sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (can substitute for almond or lemon)

What to do

  • Sift the confections sugar (make sure there are no little balls and it is all smooth)
  • add in the milk and stir until smooth
  • stir in the light corn syrup and extract
  • divide into smaller bowls in order to add food coloring as needed

I dip the cookies into the mixture to coat it. If I need detail, I use paint brushes and paint sponges to detail how I need. The options are endless!!!

Let the beautiful cookies sit after icing so it can harden. Enjoy!!

 

I would love to know what you think! Please leave me your suggestions and comments.

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With Love,
Elizabeth

Quick and Easy Tea Cookies

https://pin.it/2Rcrtq7

One of my staples for any party is making Tea Cookies. It is super cheap; you probably already have most, if not all of the ingredients already. It goes a LONG way; one batch made 96 cookies. And it is EXTREMELY easy; literally the most time consuming part is cutting the cookies out)

Before beginning, make sure you have a CLEAN and SANITZIED, semi-large FLAT surface. You need this to roll out the cookie dough.

LET’S BEGIN:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (can be substituted for other extract flavors)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup flour

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cream butter and sugar in LARGE bowl. (to cream the butter, simple use a fork or a whisk and beat until smooth and creamy)
  • add in egg and extract, continue beating until smooth
  • slowly add is flour and baking powder.
  • using your hands, mix and work all ingredients together until mixture is consistency of cookie dough (if more flour is needed, add more flour a little at a time).
  • using the 1 cup of flour, sprinkle onto the flat surface
  • also using the 1 cup of flour, apply flour to rolling pin
  • roll out cookie dough to desired thickness
  • use cookie cutter to cut out cookies
  • lightly grease a cookie sheet
  • place cookies on cookie sheet
  • bake at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool before icing them. For a super easy, super quick icing recipe, head on over to Ice That Cookie!

 

I would love you hear from you. Please leave your comments and/or suggestions for me!

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With Love,
Elizabeth

Having Tough Skin is Tough

Having tough skin is TOUGH! Letting NO mean NO and not giving in. Reporting destructive behavior and knowing that consequences will follow.  As mentioned in Because Life Matters Part II, my brother is in rehab. I bring the children once a month to visit him. He is starting on his third month in. I know it will take time before he is better, but O.M.G…. he is EXHAUSTING!!!

A Quick Recap

After 4 years being in and out of jail, losing custody of his children (because I filed for custody), and getting too “deep into the game”, my brother finally agreed to go to rehab. However, looking at almost 5 years of solid jail time probably played a big influential role as well. None the less, he agreed; I established it to be court ordered, and I got him accepted into a Rehab program. You would think all of my hard work would be enough for him, right??? WRONG!!! He still wants more.

“Misinformation feeds into negative behavior”

To quote the admissions coordinator of the program, “misinformation feeds into negative behavior.” Why did she tell me this? Because I reported my brother. I worked diligently with the admissions coordinator while my brother was in jail. I learned of the program, did research, and found it to be worth a shot. (Truth is, I don’t think it matters which program he is in. I believe if he wants to change, he will make the most out of any program. It is up to him) After arriving at the facility and learning about the program, my brother was taken to get settled in. I, on the other hand, continue to meet with the coordinator and pay for his admissions. Before leaving, she tells me that she will not be involved any more with him but that if I ever have any concerns, I can reach out to her.

Program Rules

The program he is in provides everything he needs. Nonetheless, to show a sign a good faith and to reinforce my belief in him, I took him shopping to buy a few items to bring with him, which was allowed. Of the things he can run out of, i.e., deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc., the program provides.  In the midst of packing his belongings, he forgot a few items (he only had a night to pack) He calls requesting the items and asking for a carton of cigarettes. Hesitant to oblige the cigarette request, I call the office to get approval. I am told that I can bring cigarettes but they have to be turned in to the office to be rationed out per program rules.

The First Red Flag

Upon arrival, I am met by a worker who takes his belongings from me. She confirms the cigarettes rule. She will have to lock them up and ration them out to him as the program states. Three packs are given out every Thursday.

Once my brother finishes his orientation program, he is allowed visits from the boys. The second Sunday in September, my mom and I take the boys to go visit him. While we are there, my brother is begging us to buy him cigarettes. I tell him no, and explain to him what I have been told about how they handle cigarettes. He proceeds to tell me that we are allowed to bring him cigarettes because the workers turn their heads the other way. He even goes as far as to stop one of the workers (the same worker I gave his belongings to)  to have her confirm the same. And she DOES!!!

Play by the Rules

This worker of the program literally tells us that no, he is not allowed to have cigarettes, but if they do not know, they cannot stop it. If we give it to him, make sure no one is around or sees. My mom decides to buy him a pack of cigarettes so he would stop hounding us. I am not happy by her decision, but she is the mom.

Let’s fast forward a few weeks. My brother starts a new request; he wants the phone numbers of the people he believes may be in contact with his estranged wife. He says he needs closure and he has to confront her as part of his process. At first, I refuse, but then I decide to give him the phone numbers. He is an adult and he is responsible for his own decisions. He did not have any luck with those people. So, he decides to break the program rules, access the internet, and Facebook messages a friend instead of waiting for me to give him his friend’s phone number.

Consequences for your Actions

I learn about his conversation via Facebook because my mom went through his phone to get his friend’s number. When she did, his messenger popped up and she saw the conversation. Outraged that he goes behind my back, I call his counselor to report him. According to him, he is reprimanded but is upset that I report him. I ever so kindly explain to him that I did not work my butt off to get him there only for him to break the rules. The whole reason he is there in the first place is to learn how to play by the rules again.

Going Above and Beyond

Due to him being in Rehab, he is not able to be at KM’s birthday party. So what do I do?? I arrange to have a party at Rehab on Sunday so he can be part of his son’s second birthday. I buy an extra cake; I buy extra presents; I arrange things with the program; I go the whole nine yards. How does my brother show his appreciation? By hounding me at the end of the visit to buy him cigarettes. I just held TWO parties for his son; provided EVERYTHING for both; and even bought extra presents so he can have something to give to his son, and he STILL had the nerve to ask me for cigarettes. I am blown away at his lack of gratitude. I am at a loss for words.

A Cry for Help

I tell my brother that I am not buying him cigarettes and remind him that it is against the rules. He is ballsy enough to tell me that everyone breaks the cigarette rule; the ones they are given are disgusting. Me, being the smart ass that I am, politely tells him to stop smoking if he doesn’t like what he is given. He continues to hound and harass me about it. Then he has the NERVE to say that he is asking for them the right way. If I choose not to buy him any, he will just do what he needs to in order to get some. My dad tells him that he needs to follow the rules and let the program work for him to which he is brave enough to reply that HE WORKS the PROGRAM.

SAY WHAT??? Did he REALLY, back to back, just tell us that he knowingly  breaks the rules and works the program? He cannot be that stupid. This must be his cry for help. So, I answer it.

Having Tough Skin is Tough

Through all of the hounding and harassment, I stick to my guns and refuse to buy him cigarettes. I also point out that I have done way more than I needed to do to make him a part of his son’s birthday. Needless to say, him and I did not part ways on a good note. On the drive home, I am EXTREMELY bothered by his comments. Doing what he needs to do in order to get some. He works the program. In my opinion, none of that sounds good and productive. So, I look at his words and statements as a cry for help, and I answer it. I report him. First I call his counselor and leave a voicemail; then, I email his admissions coordinator.

I am very happy with the relationship I was able to establish with her. Even on her day off, she emailed me back almost immediately upon receiving my email. I simply explain to her about how the worker allows the rules to bend; how my brother is able to access the internet, and about the comments he passed. I tell her my concerns about him taking short cuts in the program because he is smart enough to figure them out and he also knows how to manipulate people. Are my actions childish and premature? Maybe so, but I will not allow him to get away with breaking the rules. I am not doing him any favors nor am I giving him any justice by willingly turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.

Hard feelings

Will he think that I am a bitch? Most likely; he already does. Do I care? Somewhat. Will I stop doing what I think is best because of it? Nope. I pray that one day, once he is past all of this and is on the right track again, he will see that I am not doing all of this to be mean. I am doing it because I care. I know he can be a better person than he once was. I know that he can move forward from his past. I know that he can get back on the right track. I also know that if I don’t put my foot down and stop the destructive behavior, he will never learn.

Someone has to hold him accountable and somehow that someone is me. I think he knows that and I think he tests me. But I am not giving in. I am not sure when I ever became a parent to my brother, but that is definitely what I feel like. And obviously, that is what he needs me to be because he hasn’t written me off yet; he keeps reaching out for more.

Positivity is a Mind Set not an Action

The post contains affiliate links which simply means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Think positive, be positive”? Do you think about it at all or just blow it off in passing? Many people live with the misconception that in order to be a positive person, you have to have a great life free from problems or at least not so many problems. That thinking would make positivity an action, not a mind set. I am here to help you dispel of that thinking and convert your mind to the power of positivity.

Being positive is easy.

Yes, it is easy to have a natural high about life when everything is going right and how you want. Yes, it is easy to be a positive person when you don’t have any troubles bringing you down. Yes, it is easy to be positive when luck and good fortune are on your side. But what about those times when none of that is the case? When you feel like the world is against you and nothing is working out. Those times when life throws you one curve ball after another after another. Those times when all you want to do is break down and cry but you have to be strong and keep it together for your children and your own sake. Being a positive person is easy when things are going right.

Thinking positive is HARD.

So what do you do about those times when nothing is going right and you feel like you are backed into a corner? Those times when you can’t find it in yourself to be positive anymore. Those times when all you see and think are the negatives. What do you do?

I would give in to it, I won’t lie to you. Being easily discouraged and very pessimistic are extremely easy. I needed a ladder to climb out of  pity party hole I dug for myself. But thanks to Heaven Is For Real, my point of view is completely different!

Keeping a positive mindset isn’t easy. It takes hard, hard work. It requires you to look past the hurt that you feel. It requires you to not wallow in self pity. It requires you to keep your head up when your neck muscles hurt and burn and scream at you to drop your head. It requires sacrifice. However, the reward of remaining positive is an AMAZING feeling.

Let me share my latest story…

I am going through a rough time. I allow myself to get down and out. I struggle to find my euphoria happy. I am living mediocre happy. I know I am not satisfied with that. So I change it. I pay it forward. You can read all about it in my post Why Being Selfish is Healthy. Perfect! GREAT! I find my over the moon, things are looking up, and nothing will get me down, happy again and I am going on with my day. Then, I go back to work and my boss calls me into his office to have a talk.

I am two weeks back at work after being on maternity leave. During my second week, I leave early on Wednesday (like only work 2 hours) and take all of Thursday off because my 4 year old has the flu. The talk is about my time. I do not have anymore vacation or sick days left (which I know). Then he proceeds to go on and ask me if I am able to do this job. The job requires me being at work and considering how we are middle of October and I have no more time off left, he doesn’t think I can do the job anymore.

The devil loves to work

Thank heavens just two hours earlier I make up my mind to think positive again. As he is talking, I am taken aback. I understand what he is saying, but it isn’t like I plan on my children getting sick. Being a mom will always be my first job and by far is it the hardest job!! So, while he is talking, I can feel myself start to get upset, not mad upset but feelings hurt upset. When I get back to my desk, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this negative setback is natural. I believe that when you take one step forward, you also take two steps. I believe the devil is hard at work.

Not today devil, not today.

Because of my newly restored positive mind set, I realize what is happening. I take refuge in my Christian faith. I believe I am able to handle and over come many obstacles and hardships because I put my faith and trust in God. By doing so, I knowingly accept that the devil works hard to undermine whatever he is given the power to. As stated in God’s Not Dead, “Sometimes, the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God.” So, when I make up my mind to be positive and do good, I prepare myself to lookout for the actions that would make my efforts feel useless. Being ready for the setback allows me to stay positive.

Positive Polly vs. Negative Nancy

As with any situation, weighing out the pros and cons is very beneficial. In this instance, the main pro of thinking positive being able to see all of the opportunities and blessing that are in front of you. The biggest con of being negative is following in the same rut and rhythm that being negative traps you in. When you are thinking positively, mountains become ant hills and oceans become puddles. When you think negativity, the opposite is the case; ant hills become mountains and puddles become oceans.

Living life with a go get ’em attitude believing that you can concur the world and win opens so many more doors and allows for the best you to shine through. Whereas, if you live life with a why me attitude all that you will see will be obstacles and hurdles and everything happening to you.

Life is constant decision

Life is all about choices and decisions. You have the choice to be positive and think positive or you can choose to let the world slap you around like a little… you know what. Though it is not the easiest task to maintain a positive mindset, I truly believe that the more you practice it, work on it, and hold on to it, the easier it does become. When you believe in the power of positivity, not many things can bring you down or hold you back.

Choose wisely, my friend.

I’d love to hear from you!!! How do you get to your positive place in life? What helps you along the way? What are your strengthens and weaknesses when it comes to having a positive mindset? Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!
With Love Sign Off
With Love,
Elizabeth

Why Being Selfish is Healthy

Growing up, we are taught to not be selfish. Think of others; put others first; share; treat others how you want to be treated, etc. etc. etc. Truth be told, that is a bunch of BULL MALARKEY (to put it nicely)

Being selfish pays off!!

Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about being center of the universe. I am not talking about being so engulfed in yourself that your head is up your butt. I am not talking about no one else or nothing else matters type of selfish. I am simply meaning that there is a time and a place to be selfish in which it is beneficial.

Allow me to explain…

A few weeks ago, I returned back to the working world after being off on maternity leave. I was very upset having to return back because I so desperately wanted to work from home in order to be a part of my children’s lives.  As most working Americans, my company did not offer paid maternity leave. While out, I had to financially depend on JT. I am NOT a big fan of depending on others. So naturally, having to do so, brought my spirits down. At the end of my second week back, I received a SMALL paycheck (it only covered 4 days of work not to mention my insurance increase because I am covering my kids). None the less, I was excited because I now had a little bit of my own money again.

During my lunch break, I ran an office errand. While out, I decided (after having to convince myself) to buy lunch; nothing extravagant, just something a little more than an apple and cubed cheese (yes, that was what I was eating for lunch). While looking at the menu, I easily persuaded myself to not order expensive and stick to simple and basic. That’s when the idea hit me…

PAY IT FORWARD!

I know that the Pay It Forward movement has been ongoing for some time now, but I never considered myself to be in the financial situation to participate. However, for some reason, standing in line, knowing that I had to talk myself into buying myself lunch, then telling myself to stick to cheap, I wanted to treat someone. Though I did not get paid much and I did not have much, I wanted to give a little of the little I had. That “for some reason” being… I wanted to feel good about myself. I needed a boost of positivity. Since the world wasn’t creating it for me, I created it for myself.

Power of Positivity

Having to financially depend on someone, going back to work, not meeting my promote my blog deadline (my own fault for being insecure about it), taking two days off my second week back at work because my 4 year old had the flu, and unsuccessfully finding a sitter for my 2 year old and 3 month old to give my dad a break… all of it had me down and out, struggling to be happy and think positively. I am not the type of person to accept defeat. I always find a way to make situations work, but having all of that all at the same time had me really bummed out. That is why I chose to be SELFISH.

I was SELFISH because I needed to feel POSITIVE.

I needed motivation to get my head back in the game and paying it forward did that for me. I did not pay for someone else’s lunch to help them out or make them feel better. I did it for me. I did it because I knew the gratification I would get from surprising a complete stranger. I had know idea who the person was, what he/she was going through, if he/she had money, didn’t have money. I knew nothing of that person’s life and I didn’t want to know. I knew about me. I knew that I had been having a rough time. And I knew that I was in control of my happiness and state of mind.

We are inadvertently taught young that being selfish is ok.

Positivity is a mind set and it takes hard work to maintain. Read Positivity is a Mind Set, not an Action to see what I mean.

Life does a great job at attempting to discourage me and get me down. Sometimes it succeeds. In those times, my mom’s voice (and I am sure your mother’s voice too) comes in loud and clear—TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. Think about that statement for a moment. Reread it…treat others how you want to be treated… That statement in itself allows us to be selfish. You aren’t doing something nice for someone just for the sake of being nice. You are doing it because YOU want someone to do something nice for YOU. AND THAT IS A-OK!!! THAT IS PERFECTLY FINE!!! It is ok to be selfish and think about how I would feel should something happen to me or before I do something to someone.

I did not pay it forward and buy someone’s lunch because I wanted someone to by my lunch. I paid it forward because, through my rough time, I found it hard to see the positive side of things and I needed to feel positive again. I paid it forward because I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to reignite my flame of happiness. And if, by chance, paying it forward did the same for the recipient, FANTASTIC!!! I am even happier, but I will never know. I will settle for what I set out to be my end result: my happiness I created within myself FOR MYSELF!!

I would LOVE to hear from you. Please feel free to comment or reach out to me with your thoughts!
 

How One Book Changed My Way of Thinking

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Not many people in life have an AH-HA moment.

A moment that they can accredit for a major change in their life. I knew I had one, but it took me a while before I was able to pin point what it was. I finally did.

My world was completely devastated in 2013.

My boyfriend of three years, the love of my life, the man I planned a future with broke up with me. Things had been going so well. He even had a conversation with my dad about marrying me!! But over a few weeks, I started noticing the little things. He started putting space between us; not spending so much time together, arguing about the little things; letting the outside world affect him. I figured it was a matter of time but I stayed optimistic that it wouldn’t happen. Then, one Tuesday night, the rug was pulled from under my feet. Considering how we lived together and it was his house that we lived in, I had to pack my things and move out. Due to being young and paying on student loans and maintaining a household, I had no savings to get my own place. I had to move back in with my parents.

Here is the kicker…

He broke up with me on a Tuesday but I couldn’t move out until Saturday. I had to pack my things and I needed help moving my things. My parents were not able to help me move until Saturday. I was so miserable having to live and stay at a place for four days with no love or support from anyone. Absolute Nightmare. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t sleep; I had no one to hug me and help me through it; all I was able to do was cry.

Finally, I was able to get out of that hell hole

and be around people who loved me and cared about me. Before I moved, him and I had a talk. He apologized for how he broke up with me (a lot of yelling, cursing, name calling, and belittling) but he still wanted to break up. Things were too much for him and he couldn’t handle it anymore. I was the only variable in his life that he could change to try to make things better and that is what he needed to do. I told him I understood and that I appreciated the apology but that he truly and deeply hurt my feelings. I told him that I believed if he took his time to process and think about everything that he would realize we wouldn’t be over but that he really needed to take his time and soul search. I knew; I saw the warning signs; he was scared because he realized that what we had was real and he did not know how to handle that. All I could do was respect his wishes and give him time.

So, back home I go. I was very bitter.

I was hurt by him but had to take the higher road. I was hurt by my parents because I felt like they abandoned me in my time of need. I was hurt by friends because no one was there for me. I was hurt by other family because they weren’t there to help me either. But I had to put all of that aside because two days later, my nephew was born. That was a whirlwind of emotions and left no time for me to decompress what I had just been through.

I quickly learned how to shut out the world

because no one was there for me in my time of need and no one cared that I was hurting because there was a brand-new baby in the family. I was pushed to the side and made to deal with my grief alone. Once the excitement calmed down, a few people tried checking up on me. I was not having it and I made it known. I drowned my sorrows with my new best friend, alcohol. I drank to take away the pain. I drank to help me cope. I drank to have a friend. I drank to feel numb. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I was very rude and ugly to everyone. No one understood what I was going through. It made me furious when they said they did. I was in a bad place.

One day, I got home from work and found a book on my bed with a note. The note said, “This helped me through my dark times; I want it to help you. Since you don’t want to talk or listen to anyone, at least listen to God.” The book you may ask… Heaven is for Real.

Why not give it a shot?

At least it will give me something to do and it may help me sleep. I pick it up and start reading. At first, I roll my eyes. I don’t know how my mom expected a book to solve my problems. She was crazy to think that a book would take away my hurt. Boy, was I in for a whirlwind.

Heaven is for Real

taught me how to handle my anger. It taught me how to talk to myself and to others. It taught me how to believe in myself and in my religion. It taught me so much. The main and most important lessons it taught me were how to pray and how to listen to God’s answers.

I learned how to pray selflessly.

Instead of praying for him to change his mind and for us to get back together, I prayed for his happiness and guidance on finding mine. You see, I couldn’t just ask God to grant me happiness, that would be selfish; instead, I had to ask him to guide me to finding it again. It put me doing the work but having faith and trusting in Him to lead the way. I prayed for forgiveness but I knew that the forgiveness I needed wasn’t going to come from Him. So, I thanked Him for always forgiving me and asked him to help others be more understanding to forgiving me. There are many other prayers that I prayed, but the point is, I learned what the book reminded me of, Jesus sees us as his children and that is how we must talk to him, as his children. Do not make it complicated. Do not make it conditioned. Make it honest; make it real; make it selfless.

Heaven is for Real also taught me an underlying lesson. While the book does not talk about it or mention it, it taught me how to look the devil in its face and send it straight back to hell. You see, God gives us everything we need and the devil tries to tell us we need more. What I learned was to be grateful for everything that I have been given and provided with. If something doesn’t work out or come through, that means it wasn’t meant to be, something better will come along, or the timing wasn’t right.

Looking back,

I am not proud of my actions and behavior toward myself and others. However, I would not change it. That time taught me valuable lessons. I can’t say that reading Heaven is for Real will change your life the way it did mine, but I can tell you that I am happy my mom gave it to me and God guided me to read it. Reading it was my AH-HA moment that changed my life. It encouraged me to stop thinking so negative; it encouraged me to find the positive in every situation, no matter how bad it may be. It allowed me to thank God for not giving me what I want but giving me what I need. Once I started doing that, I realized how much better off my life is by allowing His plan to unfold for my life than forcing my plan to work out. I am not saying to not make plans and to not work hard and work toward something. I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is to not get discouraged when what YOU want doesn’t fall into place and work out. What I am saying is to remember that your master plan in life has already been written and God is the best author there is!

 

South Louisiana Cooking

What do you consider to be a GREAT recipe?

Personally, I like one that is full of flavors and kid friendly. However, I don’t always want what the kids want. Neither do the rest of the adults in my household. That is why this recipe WORKS!! The sauce that you make can be used to stuff the bread OR pour over noodles for a simple fettuccine.

Benefit of Living in the South

LOVE living in South Louisiana. Yes, I am biased because this has been the only place I have lived, but the atmosphere is so charged!!

We have Mardi Gras.

We have summer practically year round.

People are so friendly; we never meet a stranger.

We are hospitable.

We have SEAFOOD.

We love to eat and don’t judge each other for it.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all peaches and cream:

We have humidity that could make the devil sweat (sarcasm implied). Pop up rain storms almost every day during our actual summer months. Mosquitoes that could probably carry you away (again with the sarcasm). Our main college football team isn’t consistent and our professional football team just the same. We do have a minor league baseball team but no major league (by the way, it has recently been renamed… the Baby Cakes!) And a professional basketball team that is mediocre. We also deal with coastal erosion and an economy based on the oil field.

But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Especially when I get to cook yummy and delicious food as I explained above.

Food/Cooking and my Children are my passions. I LOVE being able to prep and cook a wonderful meal from time to time (with my children, it is hard to prep and cook meals 7 days a week). However, what I like and what my children like tend to clash, which is why my Ooey Gooey Stuffed Bread Recipe works PERFECT. I get to use the sauce to stuff the bread for the adults in my house and pour over noodles for the children to eat.

1 sauce…2 ways to eat and enjoy!!

In my recipe, as featured in the picture, I used crawfish. I know how expensive crawfish can be, so please, PLEASE, P.L.E.A.S.E. feel free to add whatever you would like: shrimp, crabmeat, lobster, chicken, even beef (think philly cheese steak but less onions and bell peppers–or add them in if you’d like)

 

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I would LOVE to hear what you think, how you changed it and what your go to recipes are.

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With Love,
Elizabeth

 

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