Friday, May 28, 2010

On the wagon again...

So, yes, it has been a while since I've posted. Been dealing with some internal struggles with de-cluttering my house, my mind and my body. I am an all or nothing kinda gal. I'm all in or all out. I Go Big or Go Home. I have always struggled in all the above areas without success of having a good balance. Since having the Brownies, my priorities have shifted. Shifted primarily to my boys. I don't usually give myself much time to decompress.

I fell off the workout wagon about 2 months ago. I gained all 6-8 pounds that I had lost and added 2 more. Ugh...seriously. The vicious cycle of lose and gain has reached out and got me again. I went to a 3 year old birthday party last weekend. After my friend posted pictures from the party, I saw a picture of myself that was my wake-up call once again. I think I have an image of what I look like and when I see myself in a mirror, it really isn't reality. Same thing when an anorexic person looks in the mirror and sees fat...I see fat, but I don't REALLY see it. So, when I see myself in a photograph, I usually want to gag and puke.

However, a bad photograph is great motivator and with that, I'm back on the wagon. A gentle push from Aunt Fudge hasn't hurt either. Having someone else to be a little bit accountable to helps. Someone that has the same desire to lose weight and be healthy. Not that Aunt Fudge has nearly the amount of weight to lose, nevertheless, it helps to have someone else to encourage you. Daddy Brown and all my family are a great support system as well. Daddy Brown gives out encouragement on a regular basis.

Today, my goal doesn't only entail my original goal of losing 50 pounds before the end of the year, but a short term goal. I want to run a 5K marathon. I have always wanted to run in a marathon...ALWAYS! I would ultimately like to participate in a triathlon. I am terrible at running, I am terrible at riding a bike and I am terrible at swimming. So let me just put that out there in the universe. However, there is no time like the present to get on the wagon and strive to reach some goals while I'm still young, while I can still get out there and make a change in my life. I need to do this for myself. I need to do it for my boys.

I downloaded a program from the Internet...Couch to 5K. It should take me 9 weeks to get there. I am going "ALL IN". I am registering now to participate in a local 5K run on August 21st. I am committing to 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks to reach my goal. Doesn't seem like a lot when I say it out loud. However, my shins, hamstrings, knees and calf muscles tell a different story. I will chart my progress. My longer term goal is to run a local 5K in each of the following months to December. That should keep me moving in the right direction of continued health as opposed to meeting a goal and marking it off the list. I wrote a post back in February about "Exercise is not negotiable". I had forgotten that motto. I had forgotten that everyday that I don't get up and do something for myself, and exercise is for myself, I'm going to continue to look in the mirror and see the same old me. Not the me I am inside, not the me that I know I am.

I recently read a post of a gentlemen that is charting his 5K and weight loss journey. He has some very poignant and raw posts. I understand everyone of them. I'm there too. I want to encourage you to get back on the wagon. And remember...

"Where I am today, is where MY mind put me. Where I'll be tomorrow is where MY mind will put me. When I look down at myself, the only thing that causes me to look the way I do, is MY mind and MY will!" ~Billy Blanks

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Jesus name we pray...

So, I know it has been a little while since I have made a post. We have been stricken with a sick Little Brownie, I've had an eye infection and Daddy Brown likely has a sinus infection. We are holding out that Big Brownie stays healthy. It has been a nice little break, but I have so many things to share.

Today, I'm praying for a friend. She is pregnant with her 3rd little girl and today she is on her way to the doctors office. We are in prayer that she and baby girl are fine. I have prayed all morning long...declaring their safety, praying for the Good Lord's spirit of calm to wrap them as they make their way to the doctors office. As I have stopped to pray aloud, Big Brownie has asked me, "What are you doing Mama?" I told him, "I'm praying for our friend." He said, "Oh, why are you praying for her?" I explained, "She is having a baby and we need to pray that the baby is safe." He said, "Ok Mama, take my hand and let's pray together." So precious and heartfelt my child. If you have a moment, please say a prayer for our friend. She is 39 weeks pregnant and we are ready to welcome their new addition to the world!

This opened the door to having our first discussion about..."Where do babies come from?" I told him that there was a baby inside of our friend's belly. I explained that she will go to the doctor and the doctor will help her bring her baby into the world. He asked, "How did the baby get in there?" I told him, "The love our friend and her husband have created a baby. That God put a special seed in her belly. That seed has made a baby and it has been growing in her belly." Amazingly, he understood. He replied, "You mean just like in our garden?" I said, "Exactly like our garden". I'm always amazed at his comprehension of what seems to be a complicated topic. He did ask, "Can we put a seed in your belly and we can make a baby too?" I told him, "Only God can put the special seed in Mommy's belly and I don't think I have a seed growing right now". I think he was a little disappointed.

I promise I'll share more soon. I wish for you a blessed Friday and wonderful weekend. With all my love...Mama Brown.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I believe in my heart of hearts that the Good Lord meant for me to be in this world for a reason. There have been times in my life that I have struggled internally in search of what that purpose really is supposed to be. People have entered into my life and some have exited. However, there are a few people that remain constant. I feel very fortunate that my life path up to this point, has been a fairy tale in many ways. I was swept off my feet by the love of my life. I have two beautiful healthy children. I have a beautiful and loving family that love and care for me unconditionally and I them.

Being a Mom, is one of the hardest jobs in the entire world. It is a 24 hour a day job and we work 7 days a week. I sometimes have a mini vacation when the kids take a long nap or when Daddy takes over for a short time. However, there is nothing like the unsolicited "I love you" that comes from my boys lips and the request of hugs and kisses that happen on a daily basis. There is no sweeter sight than the peaceful look on my child's face as he sleeps in my arms or the touch of my baby's hand as he rubs my arm when I hold him tight. Being a Mom for me has so many rewards. I'm now blessed to know that my purpose is to be the best Mom to my Brownies. I could not have been more prepared to be a Mom, had it not been for special people in my life.

In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share a little bit about two Mom's in Mom (Tutu Nani) and Daddy Brown's Mom (Gran Gran).

My mom is one of the strongest women I know. She has so much determination in life. She is eternally optimistic and always looks first to see the good in people. She has taught me that I can do absolutely anything in my life I choose. She inspires me to be a good mom. She helps to pick me up when I'm low and I know I can talk to her literally anytime of the day or night. She will stop anything she is doing at the drop of a hat to help me or her family. We have spent a lot of time together lately. Time that is so precious to me. She travels with her job a lot, but she always makes time to be a part of our lives. I love my mom with all my heart and I am thankful everyday that the Lord picked her to be my mom. She has great faith and is very caring. I feel I got a great balance of my parents. I am somewhat technical and mechanical which I get from my Dad. And my Mom, I got her "Go get 'em" attitude among many other likenesses. I remember one day as I was walking past the bathroom mirror, I took a quick glance as I was exiting the room. In that split second, I saw my mom. There she was looking back at me. It was further validation that, yep, I'm just like her...and that is fine by me!

Gran Gran is another special mom. Now going on 16 years of having her in my life, I am one of the luckiest daughter-in-laws in the world. She is a true blessing to me. She is a superior mom to Daddy Brown. She is my "Go-to" spiritual advisor. I am always in awe of her faith that is so unwavering. She loves her children, all of her children, with every fiber in her body. I don't think I have ever heard her say a cross word about anyone in the 16 years I've known her. She also inspires me to be a good Mom. One of my favorite "Mom" memories of Gran Gran is when I was preparing to be married to her son. I had a wedding dress fitting and unfortunately, it fell on a day that my mom was out of town. Because of our wedding date and my mom's travel schedule, we could not postpone the fitting. I called Gran Gran and asked her to be my stand-in Mom. I remember feeling so comfortable with her there. I will always remember the look on her face when she saw me in my dress. And I'll remember the laughs we shared as I pranced around in my dress wearing my brown dress shoes. I knew on that day that I'd love her forever.

Yes, I'm very fortunate and very blessed to have 2 very special Mom mentors in my life. They love on me and Daddy Brown and The Brownies every chance they get. Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's in the world today, but a special Happy Mother's Day to Tutu Nani and Gran Gran! I love you both very much!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ever blessed....

For those who might live in a tunnel and haven't heard the news, we had record breaking rains in our area last weekend. It was somewhat frightening to have a real threat of a tornado, rising waters and flooding. As I began gathering all the essential supplies, in the event we needed to run to the safe place in our home, I went through my mental checklist, shoes...check, bottled water...check, flashlight...check, waterproof matches...check, crank radio...check, snacks and lollipops for the boys...check, first aid kit...check, and the list goes on and on. Fear is not a normal emotion and I don't like to feel it. When the tornado came through Nashville in 1998, I was in a nearby area working. We shuffled into our neighboring interior office space for cover. We were safe...thankfully. For months after that day, I felt fear. If a storm was coming, Daddy Brown would find me huddled in the closet almost in tears. I was paralyzed in fear for a long time. Something that still crosses my mind when I hear tornado warnings and watches being issued.

This week has not been about fear for me. It has been about the spirit of all the volunteers that have showed up with a servant heart to help in anyway needed. My heart aches and breaks for the people that have been devastated by the flooding. My parents had water enter their basement. Thankfully, my sister was there when it happened and was able to move anything that would be damaged out of harms way. Tutu Nani, the Brownies and I drove to some of the areas that were hardest hit this week. We delivered cleaning supplies, water, Gatorade and cash to those who have lost all of their worldly possessions. Just think about having to start over. Seeing your precious belongings that you have worked your entire life, displayed as trash on your front lawn. We visited a friend that my sisters and I went to school with. Her mother-in-law's home was in the middle of one of the hardest hit areas. As we drove down the road, I began to tear up. Her street looked like a scene from a movie. It looked like something we would have seen in the rebuilding stages of Hurricane Katrina.

As we found her mother-in-law's house, we parked and I got out to find our friend. Her mother-in-law was crouched in the front yard trying to salvage 25 years worth of photographs and precious antique lace that was made by her mother. Lace that was to be passed on to her grandchildren. My voice broke several times, my eyes watered and we embraced her. However, I wouldn't let myself cry. I was there to listen and lend encouraging words. We walked into her home. Drywall and insulation had been ripped from the studs at least 4 or 5 feet high from the ground. Her clothes were hanging over the backyard fence to dry. To my amazement, there were at least 15-20 people working in her home to remove the debris. As we talked to them further, they said these people were a gift. They were volunteers that had showed up to help and most of them, they didn't even know.

As we stood in the street looking at the devastation, a construction crew came walking down the street. The crew chief asked, "We heard there is an elderly man that lives down here and doesn't have anyone to help him. Our labor is free and we are here to help." My heart swelled as they shared story after story of volunteers showing up to help clean and clear out homes. Volunteers that brought sack lunches, hot meals, bottles of water and ice. It was amazing to me. As we were leaving, we saw a family camping in a tent on their front lawn. Because of all the debris on their lawn, you could have driven by without even noticing.

This experience has made me feel eternally thankful and grateful. I have a roof over my head and I have a belly full of food. I was able to put my babies to bed in a warm, dry home with clean clothes and a fresh bath. I don't have to worry about my next meal and I don't have to worry about where I will lay my head tonight. I'm counting my blessings. The Lord is Supreme. Even in tragedy, his people rise up to help their fellow neighbors. No one knows what the next day, hour or even minute will bring. Live in the now. Not in the past and not in the future, but in today, in this moment. Hug and kiss the people you love. Heck, hug and kiss the people you don't care for. They may need it more than you know. Show up and play in the front yard of life. You may be surprised what it holds for you. You may be enlightened in the people that your life's path will cross. You may be an encouragement for someone who sees no hope. Through this tragedy, I find myself thankful. Through this volunteer spirit, I find myself grateful. Through his love, I am ever blessed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Say What Wednesday...

I have terrible arachnophobia. Spiders are my Achilles heel. Before having the Brownies, if I saw a spider, I would either close off that room until Daddy Brown came home to "deal" with the situation, or I'd just leave the house. However, having two Brownies now, I don't want them to be afraid of bugs...especially since they are boys. So, I've had to buck up and not show any fear when it comes to insects. I pick up worms and caterpillars in the yard. I catch bugs for the Brownies to look at and admire. Sometimes, a bug is out of reach and I just have to move on with my day as if it doesn't exist. This was the scenario yesterday. Big Brownie and I were in the kitchen. He looked up and saw a HUGE black spider on the ceiling. It was one of those that was a little fuzzy with a white dot. I think pretty harmless, except for the fact that it was a SPIDER! Big Brownies said, "Look Mommy, a spider. You need to get it!" I told him, "We will leave it for Daddy to get when he gets home. Mommy can't reach him all the way up there." He said, "Oh, okay" and he disappeared from the kitchen. A few minutes later, he comes running into the kitchen and says, "Mama, I'll get the spider!" I turned around to see him and he had an M&M's holiday fan from his Easter basket. He jumped onto a stepping stool, reached his hands high in the air and turned the fan on. His plan was to blow the spider down the wall so we could get it. It just so happen that the spider started to crawl on the ceiling and he exclaimed, "IT'S WORKING MAMA...GET HIM!" But, as the spider wasn't really affected by the M&M wind, he stopped and camped out in the same position for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, I was happy to see him try to come up with a solution.

Big Brownie has officially graduated to underwear. It took some time, but I finally put my foot down and told Big Brownie he had to wear underwear. And just like that, he wears it everyday. We enjoys sprinkling his "yellow water" about any chance he gets. He pee-pee'd in Andy's water bowl in the kitchen. I have caught him several times with pants down and squatting to hit the bowl since. I tell him, "Andy's water bowl is not the toilet. You have to use the potty!" He reluctantly say, "Okay Mama." A few days ago, we were in the kitchen and I was putting away the dishes. I heard an unfamiliar noise behind me. I turned around and Big Brownie was peeing in Andy's food cup while standing on a stepping stool. I said, "Why did you pee-pee in Andy's food cup?" He said, "Well, I had to pee-pee real bad and I just looked down and I saw Andy's yellow food cup, so I just pee-pee'd in his cup and it was FUN!"

So, do you find yourself telling your kids, "Eat 2 more bites and then you can be done?" I do. Big Brownie is very familiar with this and Little Brownie is getting the knack. And it is funny how little ones take your words so literal. I told Little Brownie last week he had to eat 1 more bite and then he could have some grapes. He complied and as he was chewing his last bite, I said, "Chew it all up". He started chewing his food while looking "UP"! It was hilarious. Big Brownie has been doing that forever and I never caught on. When I say, "Chew it UP", they think I am telling them to chew their food while they are looking UP! See, I totally would have missed that one if I didn't have a second Brownie!

Last year, Daddy Brownie finally decided I was old enough to have a garden. I have wanted a garden for years. He felt that I was working so much that he would be the one tending, weeding and such as opposed to the one "ME" who really wanted it. So, now that I'm a stay at home mama, he agreed that with dual work, we could venture into the gardening world. We had a great harvest for our first year. We had corn, beans, (TONS) of cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, cantaloupe and watermelons. This year, I planted tomatoes, corn, lettuce, bush beans and black beans, cantaloupe and cucumbers. I even talked Daddy Brown into having my own pumpkin patch. Whoo-hoo! Not sure with the rain and flooding we had this weekend what will actually come up since some of our seed were washed away at the bottom of the garden. However to my surprise, upon further inspection yesterday, I have some sprouts. The Brownies love to check on the garden with me. Unfortunately, they really don't understand that when we see a sprout, we leave it in the ground. To them, it's harvest time! Ugh...I have tried to keep my cool when a bean plant gets pulled, or my tomato plant gets a good yank. Big Brownie told me yesterday, "Good job mom, our garden looks SO de-wicious!" Little Brownie bends down and looks at the sprouts closely and say, "Look Mama, Mommy, Mommy...a BEAN!" We will see if we get anything out of our garden this year with the help of our new farmers!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just call me Mama "Green"...

So, I will admit it, I'm not a tree hugger...Gasp! I have not been a fan of all the "Green" PSA, news reports and global warming. I have boycotted products that adorn the words, Organic, Free-range, environmentally friendly, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeding my kids foods that are soaked with sodium nitrates, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, etc. I do read labels...a lot. I feel like I'm a pretty informed mother. I try to choose healthier version of most anything. I choose to cook meats and whole chickens that are antibiotic and hormone free, and I make homemade chicken stock so not to waste any opportunity. We try not eat overly salted and overly processed foods. We eat whole wheat bread and I use whole wheat flour and brown sugar as opposed to the highly processed white versions. However, I do not automatically buy anything because it has been marketed to me as healthier, or because it came from a store named "Whole Foods". I have nothing against these types of stores or brands. I simply get angry when foods and products that are "better" for us are so much more expensive than their less healthier, non-environmentally friendly counter parts. I coupon and I buy on sale. I would consider us to be a very frugal family and we definitely work inside of a budget.

Last week, I was looking through my blog roll and I saw someone write a post on home-made cleaning products. I have been a die-hard fan of Clorox, Windex, ALL laundry detergent and Lysol for many years. I added vinegar and water to my cleaning arsenal a few months ago and have had great results. So when I saw her post, I was intrigued. She had recipes for just about everything from toilet bowl cleaner to laundry detergent. I jotted down some of the ingredients and mixtures. I went to our local Kroger Marketplace because they have an organic section and knew some of my items were specialty. I was surprised to find almost everything I needed at Kroger's.

The product I was most excited about trying...homemade laundry detergent. I brought in my bar of soap and grated it with vigor, poured in my washing soda and Borax. I shook my glass jar to mix my ingredients and ran upstairs to try my first load. I even used distilled white vinegar as my fabric softener. I washed the DIRTIEST items I could find. You know the ones that you might have to wash twice to make sure they are clean. I had 2 towels that had been used to clean up puppy and Big Brownie pee-pee from the floor that were ready to be washed. I added some other towels that had been used to clean up messes, not just clean bodies.

I WAS SHOCKED! They were so clean when they emerged from the washing machine and they smelled so wonderful. I would even venture to say it did a better job than my traditional laundry detergent. It is pretty cost effective as well. Borax was $3.99 a box, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda was $2.79 a box and I bought a vegetable based bar of soap that was $2.19 a bar. While I do use coupons when buying laundry detergent, this recipe cost about the same per load. But the catch for me, I know what is in the detergent. Did you know that commercial detergents do not list hazardous chemicals in their ingredients...because they don't have too? That was astounding to me and scary at the same time. What else may I be using to clean my house or the Brownies toys that could be harmful not just to the environment, but to us in our own home?

So, I know my clothes are getting clean and I am now using a "Green" product. Today, I'll be making my own soft scrub and using my vinegar and baking soda to clean the bathrooms. Still not a tree-hugger, still skeptical to all the hype surrounding anything "Green", still upset to pay more for "Organic" foods, but happy to be doing my part to help the environment and most importantly, my Brownies. Yep, don't call me Mama Brown me Mama Green! :)

scroll to the bottom of the page to see her recipes for homemade products. Unfortunately, I can't remember the blog name that I found last week. If I find it, I'll post it too.

Found it...