Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Apologies

So, whether you have missed me or not, I am back...at least for now.  After several weeks of no blogging, I have come to a few realizations: (1) blogging was wearing me out, yet (2) despite all the work, I love to write!  Needless to say, I need to find a better balance for myself, especially at this stage in my life.  I have a needy (i.e. wonderful) husband, two little girls under three, and another baby on the way.  

Yikes!  I know!  Yes, that's my "life-changing" news!  A blessing from the Lord, no doubt, but a monkey wrench in my plans.  The expression "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans" comes to mind.  I know children are a gift from God.  I have been praying for an attitude adjustment ever since I learned I was pregnant because, honestly, I am tired and another newborn and all that accompanies them, exhausts me.  Yet, I can tell my prayers are working because I can already feel the Lord transforming me, changing my heart and energizing me, despite my fatigue and nausea.

I apologize for my absence and intend to be more present. However, I don't know about menu planning...at least not until this all-day morning sickness subsides.  

My goal for "Growing in His Glory" is still the same: to encourage and help women grow in God's glory as His daughters, as wives, and as mothers, in keeping with I Corinthians 10:31.  That is my own personal goal and something I need plastered front and center in my life every day, especially right now.    

I pray God's richest blessings on you and your families.  Thank you for all your kind words, prayers, and scriptures over the past few weeks in my absence.  That has been a real treasure to me.  


Monday, September 19, 2011

Fleeing Satan, the Master of Lies

It has been awhile since my last post, I know, but I have been struggling physically and spiritually these past several days.  Last Tuesday, I had a horrible stomach virus that landed me in the ER.  Three bags of IV fluids and several doses of anti-nausea medicine later, and I still felt rotten.  In that time I have also had some life-changing news that I am not quite ready to divulge.  It has sent me into a tailspin because, well, honestly, I don't like change unless I am the one doing it. 

Satan has really been filling my head with lies these past few days, making me doubt my Father's love for me and making me question my abilities as a wife and mother.  He's sneaky like that.  Jesus, speaking to the Jews in John 8:44, says:
"He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
Satan finds us when we're at our lowest and preys on us "like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).  In my weakened physical and mental state, he has pounced on me with full force.  It is only by the grace of God, working through the Holy Spirit within me and through my husband that I have realized what he has been doing and fled from him.

On Saturday I spent the majority of the day in tears and misery, throwing up everything I ate.  But on Sunday, following a great morning at church and some time in my Bible, I started to feel better.  Today, I am improving still, slowly but surely.  I can't promise that my posts will be as regular as they have been in the past, but I will do my best.

If you are facing a difficult challenge in your life right now, I encourage you to call on the Lord, to RUN from Satan as fast as you can, and to lean on Jesus' everlasting arms.  
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Fun Fall Crafts for Toddlers

I have mentioned before that I am NOT crafty. I lack creativity and the know-how to do anything crafty, that is, unless someone provides easy-to-follow instructions, and I have all or most of the supplies on hand. These crafts are all appropriate for non-crafty mamas like moi and can be done with toddlers (with a little help, of course). My girls and I went for a Nature Walk this morning and gathered a bucket full of leaves, bark, feathers, and flowers for the Nature Collage we'll be doing tomorrow. Happy Crafting!

1. Feather Headdress

2. Apple prints

3. Paper Plate Owl

4. Turkey Finger Puppets

5. Nature Rubbings

6. Thankful Turkeys

7. Printing Apple Stars

8. Crunchy Fall Leaf Pictures

9. Cereal Box Turkeys

10. Nature Collage

What fall crafts do you like to do with your little ones? I'd love some inspiration!

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Growing in Love for Our Husbands: A Self-Evaluation for Wives

With this post we are drawing to a close our series on "Growing in Love for Our Husbands."  As wives, we have a responsibility to do all of the following:
Our final post involves a personal evaluation of our strengths and weaknesses as wives as well as a discussion with our husbands. The only way we can ever grow in love for our husbands and improve in our roles as wives is by identifying our strengths and weaknesses and devising a plan of action. 

I invite you to click here to download and print "A Self-Evaluation for Wives" that I created just for you (and me!), or just scroll down below.

I would encourage you to take time to thoughtfully and prayerfully answer these questions.  Be honest in your answers.  Remember: the goal is self-improvement.

Then, either print out a blank copy of the self-evaluation or pull it up on the screen for your husband to read and fill out.

Find some quiet time and talk about your answers together.  Don't feel like your husband is trying to reprimand or ridicule you, but be willing to listen and respond with a spirit of humility.

Also, you may be surprised at your husband's answers.  It's amazing that what I considered to be my strong points did not always coincide with my husband's view.  For example, while I think I'm pretty respectful towards Daniel, he pointed out numerous ways in which my actions and words have conveyed disrespect, like questioning him in front of the kids and taking other people's advice over his as well as being short with him.  Wow!  I have a lot to work on! 

Pray about the changes you need to implement; ask God for direction and wisdom.

A Self-Evaluation for Wives

Circle your answers on a scale of 1-5 (1=Needs improvement, 3=Average, 5=Excellent).

How am I at…?

1. Submission     
*Letting him have the final say?                          1          2          3          4          5
*Placing myself under his headship                     1          2          3          4          5
  & having a good attitude?
*Supporting him & his decisions in a                   1          2          3          4          5
  spirit of humility?           
*Obeying my husband?                                        1          2          3          4          5

2. Captivating Him with my Desire
*Fulfilling my husband’s sexual desires?            1          2          3          4          5
*Pursuing my husband sexually?                         1          2          3          4          5
*Responding to my husband physically?             1          2          3          4          5

3. Respecting my Husband
*Verbalizing my admiration for him?                   1          2          3          4          5
*Giving him my undivided attention                    1          2          3          4          5
  when he’s talking?
*Keeping my tone & facial expressions             1          2          3          4          5
*Talking to him with respect, not nagging,         1          2          3          4          5
  instructing, or reprimanding?

4. Being my Husband’s Crown
*Being trustworthy?                                             1          2          3          4          5
*Making a peaceful, welcoming home?              1          2          3          4          5
*Managing household affairs?                            1          2          3          4          5
*Bringing good, not harm, to him?                      1          2          3          4          5


This series has been a blessing to me as a wife, and I hope it has been for you, too.  I have learned a lot about areas of personal weaknesses that I need to improve in, and I am growing in love for and with my husband each day.

Blessings to you!

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of September 11th

It's just another ordinary week at our house: "school"  for Kate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Community Bible Study on Wednesday, and Bible study/baby shower on Thursday.

Here is my menu plan for the upcoming week:

Butternut squash pancakes, oatmeal with fresh fruit, yogurt with homemade granola

Ham & turkey sandwiches, black bean quesadillas, leftovers, fresh fruit, and carrot sticks


Sunday: Chicken stirfry with carrots, zucchini, peppers, onions, and mushrooms (carrying over from last week) and Japanese steakhouse white sauce (Yummy!! Must make this the night before!) on brown rice

Monday: Barbecue beef roast with coleslaw, field peas, Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Grilled fish tacos with guacamole and cabbage slaw

Meatless Wednesday: Tortilla pie (pinto & black beans) with lettuce and tomatoes

Thursday {Bible Study Night}: Spaghetti with meat sauce on whole wheat noodles, salad, and heart-healthy breadsticks
Friday: Pizza Night!

Saturday: Leftovers

What are you planning to eat this week?  
For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Meal Planning & a New Challenge

I have been meal planning for a while now simply because it reduces the headache of making yet another decision that I really don't want to make.  Sometimes I will ask my husband and oldest daughter what foods they would like me to fix with what items we have on hand or what is on sale at the grocery store.  Other times I search Pinterest, scour my cookbooks, or consider my own cravings to help me decide what to prepare.

Every Friday or Saturday, depending on the time I have, I sit down with the grocery sales ads and freezer, fridge, and pantry inventories (right now those inventories are mental ;) ) and come up with a menu plan.  I consider the events of the week, and if I have Bible study one night, I will fix a casserole or something that can be prepared in advance and popped in the oven before I leave.  Recently, with all our bountiful garden produce and what we pick up at the Farmer's Market, I have been trying to incorporate more colorful veggies and also to prepare more heart-healthy foods.

Do you meal plan?  If not, I invite you to join me in the Keeper of the Home's "Plan it-Don't Panic" six-week meal-planning challengeThe challenge will begin Monday, September 26th and run through November 7th.  It is designed to help us hold one another accountable in planning healthy, budget-friendly meals, and I am all for that!

I am joining the challenge for three primary reasons:

1. To save moolah.  Lately, even with a solid menu plan, I have been overspending at the grocery stores.  I know food prices are on the rise, but it seems like I spend $60 and leave the store with only three dinky bags of groceries that don't last us the entire week.  I could definitely use some new menu planning strategies!

2. For encouragement to serve healthier foods.  As I have mentioned before, my husband's blood pressure has been slightly elevated, so I have reduced our consumption of fried foods and red meats and replaced them with more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as beans. 

3. For new recipes and menu ideas from other like-minded women.  Who couldn't use some help coming up with a meal plan?  It gets old fixing the same ol' stuff.  I love trying new recipes, but, to be honest, I usually stick pretty closely to the tried and true.

If you are curious or want a little more information about the "Plan it-Don't Panic" challenge, check out Keeper of the Home's post.  Every Monday, beginning September 26th, any bloggers can link up their meal plans for the week to get some inspiration and encourage one another.  I invite you to join me!

What are your thoughts on meal planning?  Is it a noble endeavor that you would like to do but don't know where to start?  Are you already doing it? Or do you prefer to live spontaneously and fix whatever appeals to you in the moment?  

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My New Hobby: Appliques

I have had my beautiful brand new Brother CS-6000i sewing machine for nearly 7 months now, and, I must confess, I just used it for the first time this week!  I know next to nothing about sewing, and my intimidation with running the machine has been my excuse for not getting started.  But with two little girls, I am bound and determined to learn how to sew because I desperately want to make them cute little matching dresses and costumes to play in.

While surfing the internet this weekend looking for an easy first-time sewing project, I found this simple tutorial for making T-shirt appliques.  {Basically, appliqueing is cutting out a piece of fabric and bonding it to another piece of fabric (t-shirt, onesie, bag, bib, etc.), then sewing around the fabric's edges to keep it in place.} It looked so easy, I thought, rather naively, "Hey, I can do this!" My friend's little boy is having a birthday party this weekend, and I decided to make him a couple of Toy Story tees since that is his favorite movie.  It was an ambitious endeavor for a sewing newbie, but I was determined.

Before tackling the birthday boy's shirts, I did have common sense enough to try a few practice runs on some old onesies.  I'm so glad I did, too!  Check out my first attempt.  Looks okay, right?

Well, look from the back!   Dummy me sewed straight through to the back of the onesie!  My husband actually came in while I was sewing and made the comment that he thought I was sewing all the way through the material.  He was right.  Oops! 

So, I tried again.  This time I made a rectangle.  {I can only sew box shapes right now.  Maybe later, I will graduate to curves. :)}  But not too shabby.  I mean, I'm not setting up an Etsy shop or anything, but I'd let my baby girl wear it.  And the stitching isn't so bad either. Not perfect, no, but decent.  Remember, I am a novice!

So, I decided to take off the training wheels and get out the Toy Story fabric and the t-shirts I found on clearance at Target {Shh! Don't tell my friend!}  I also went back to Joann's to buy a rotary cutter because I could not cut a straight line to save my life.  Here is the outcome:

Now in no way would I consider the shirts anything to write home about except that I MADE THEM ALL BY MYSELF!  I can take pride in knowing I didn't just buy a Toy Story t-shirt at Target; I made one!  If you know me, then you may know I am neither crafty nor creative, so to do t-shirt appliqueing is a really big deal!

My next project is to make monogrammed t-shirts for my little girls.  I will let you know how that goes.

Blessings to you...
Have you ever tried appliqueing?  What is your favorite thing to make?
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Monday, September 5, 2011

10 Reasons You Need a Fall Garden

Last week I posted on "Preparing for Our Fall Garden."  Today, the rain has kept us inside, but hopefully, later this week we can get the soil tilled up and our seeds planted.  We will be growing kale, spinach, bibb lettuce, salad bowl lettuce, and broccoli. 

Whether you lack a green thumb or have a full-fledged garden, here are 10 reasons why you need a fall garden:

1. Lots of planting choices.  You may think that the only crops that grow in the fall are greens but that's not entirely true.  Besides kale, mustard and collard greens, spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard, you can also plant broccoli, carrots, radishes, sugar snap peas, turnips, Brussels sprouts, leeks, cabbage, snow peas, and cauliflower. There are plenty of options depending on what your family likes to eat.

2. It's inexpensive. Essentially the only costs involved in planting a fall garden are the seeds or transplants, compost or humus, and fertilizer (if you choose to use it).  A packet of seeds costs less than $2 and contains more than enough seeds for one season.  I bought a 4-pack of broccoli transplants this week for $1.50; that will more than feed our family of 4.  When your produce begins to come in, then you will save money at the grocery store.

3. Cool-weather vegetables are especially hardy.  Most fall crops, particularly kale and other dark leafy greens, can withstand cold temperatures, even snow, and continue producing from fall to spring.  I even had kale coming up voluntarily this summer!  That stuff won't die!  Another cost-effective reason to plant a fall garden.

 4. Organic produce for pennies! I try to buy organic whenever I can, especially lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens that tend to be sprayed heavily with pesticides.  With a fall garden filled with my choice of leafy greens, I can control the amount of chemicals, if any, that come in contact with my plants.  That not only provides me with peace of mind, but also saves me tons of money on organics at the store, which, we all know, are ridiculously expensive.

5. Healthy food for cheap. Did you know that the veggies you plant in a fall garden are especially good for your health?  Broccoli is a known nutritional powerhouse: rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, D, & K, plus it's high in fiber; dark leafy greens are also high in fiber and have been shown to remove from the body free radicals that cause cancer; and carrot, too, are fiber-rich and specifically linked to fighting colon cancer. 

6. Make it a family affair.  Get the kids involved and the whole family can enjoy the fruits of labor when the produce is ready to harvest.  Not only are children more likely to eat what they've helped grow, but there are so many educational opportunities involved in gardening. 

7. Get some exercise.  Planting a garden is a great way to burn calories and lose weight.  From tilling up the soil to planting seeds and transplants to weeding, watering, and harvesting, there is always something to do that will get your heart pumping.  Plus, there are obvious rewards for your hard work: fresh, home-grown produce.

8. But not too much work.  Compared to a spring/summer garden, in my opinion, the fall garden is much less maintenance.  Weeds aren't as plentiful during the cooler weather, and you don't have to worry about watering everything so often.  Also, the cooler weather crops are just easier to grow. 

9. It's so easy!  Literally, dig up some ground or put some soil into a pot, sow a few seeds, water, and wait for the magic to begin again and again and again.  Honestly, after planting my seeds, the only work I ever do in my fall garden is a little light weeding and harvesting.  Sometimes the greens will become bitter from being in the soil too long, and then I just pull them and throw them into the compost.  Just remember that you want to make sure you are continually harvesting lettuce, spinach, and kale.  Think: fresh salads every day!  That's it!  It's too easy.

10. You're eating local.  Everyone is interested in eating locally grown foods, but what's more local than the food grown in your own garden?  This is "going green" at its best.

Do you plan to have a fall garden?  What will you be planting?

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Growing in Love for Our Husbands: Being His Crown

For the past three weeks, we have been looking at different ways the Bible teaches us as wives to behave towards our husbands.  Thus far in our series “Growing in Love for Our Husbands” we have discussed:
 This week we will look at being a wife of noble character and what that means for us today.    
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”
Proverbs 12:4
To be a crown to our husbands is to make them feel like kings.  How do we do this? 
By our purity, faithfulness, respect, submission to authority, and our willingness to captivate him with our desire. We are a credit to our husbands when we act with integrity and keep our husbands’ reputations above reproach. 

But if we bring shame to our husbands by our disrespect, laziness, willful behavior, and sharp tongue, then we make their lives so unbearable that they cannot escape the pain.  Our husbands’ reputations are so blemished by such atrocious behavior that we become like a disease in their bones!  We are like the "quarrelsome wife" of Proverbs 27:15-16 who Solomon compares to a "continual dripping on a rainy day." That is, we are a constant irritation and annoyance to our husbands. 

To better understand what it means to be an “excellent wife,” we must look at the paragon of Godly feminine virtue: “the Proverbs 31 woman.”  {See Proverbs 31:10-31}

“A wife of noble character” unlike any other, “the Proverbs 31 woman” brings her husband “good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  The qualities she possesses are an inspiration to all women, something to aspire to, but never to imitate. We could never be her, but we can certainly learn from her example. 

 The “Proverbs 31 woman” is…

  • Trustworthy (“Her husband has full confidence in her...”)
  • Industrious (“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family.”)
  • Enterprising (“She considers a field and buys it; out her earnings she plants a vineyard.”)
  • Hardworking (“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”)
  • Skilled (“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.”)
  • Benevolent (“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”)
  • A homemaker (“She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”)
  • Resourceful (“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.”)
  • Fun-loving (“she can laugh at the days to come.”)
  • A wise teacher (“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”)
  • A manager of household affairs (“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”)
  • Blessed by her children & husband (“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also…”)   
  • Worthy of praise (“her husband…praises her”)
 From where does this excellent woman derive her most coveted status? 

From her fear of the Lord (“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”).  Her reverence and respect for God compel her to be the very best she can for her husband, her children, her servants, and her community.  Everything she does is to the glory of God.

It’s interesting to me that “the Proverbs 31 woman” is not once described as beautiful.  She seems to have everything going for her: a doting husband, loving children, a respectful staff, and an admiring community.  But what we are not told is whether or not she was physically attractive.  Because of the high value society places on beauty today, we may expect that she is easy on the eyes, but Solomon's omission suggests that the quality of physical attraction is not as important as spiritual attractivness.  What is important, though, is her inner beauty, a beauty that transcends Spanx, Botox, and manicured hands--a beauty to which we as wives are to aspire. 
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  {Emphasis mine}

1 Peter 3:3-4
What makes us beautiful as women is not our physical appearance but our inner spirits. Having a submissive, respectful, and gentle spirit is far more attractive to a good husband than flawless skin, fashionable clothes, and a toned body. Outward beauty will fade with time but a gentle and quiet spirit is a beauty that will never diminish. THAT is a beautiful woman—maybe not by Hollywood’s standards, but by God’s. THAT is the beauty that enraptures your husband and makes him proud to have you as his wife.
Are you your husband’s crown or his disease?  Or are you somewhere in between?  Why don’t you talk to your husband and ask him in which areas you can improve to be a more "excellent wife"?  If we ever hope to grow in love for our spouses, we must be willing to work at it.  In what areas do you need to work?

Join us again next week for a discussion of ways to talk to our husbands about their expectations of and desires for us as well as what they clearly find annoying.  God's richest blessings on you and your families...

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of September 4th

It's Labor Day weekend and we're grillin' out!  I love to use the grill because that means my husband does a good deal of the cooking, and I get a little break. :)  We will be enjoying some family time this long weekend, playing with the kids, working in the garden, and just relaxing.  

This week I plan to continue fixing lots of vegetables and heart-healthy meals.   That means whole grain breads, whole wheat tortillas, and brown rice, plus fresh fruits.  I'm also going to make some cinnamon whole wheat bagels this week.  Yummy!

Here is our menu plan for the first full week of September:

Sunday: Grillin’ Out, Take 1!  Hamburgers, roasted corn on the cob, & sweet potato fries

Monday: Grillin’ Out, Take 2! Smoked pork ribs, baked beans, & potato salad

Tuesday: Healthier Sweet & Sour Chicken with Veggies (broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, & mushrooms) on brown rice 

Wednesday: Pinto beans, greens, & cornbread


Friday: Pizza Night!

Saturday: Leftovers

I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!
Praying God's richest blessings on you....

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Goals

Can you believe that August is already behind us?  I don't know about you, but I am thrilled that fall is in sight.  This is my favorite time of the year, and yet it is the beginning of the busiest.  Our oldest daughter started back to "preschool" this week.  She will turn 3 and her baby sister will be 1 next month, so we have a party to plan and cakes to make.  Then there are those little holidays--Thanksgiving & Christmas-- that are quietly sneaking up on us!  All I can think is: I've got to get planning!

I have decided to try something new.  Instead of living day-to-day, to-do list to to-do list, I'm going to be visionary.  Ha!  If you know me, then you know I'm not very forward-thinking, more of a "here and now" person, but I'm afraid that if I don't nail down some goals for myself, October will be here and I'll have nothing to show for it.  So, here are my goals for the month of September: 

  1. Daily devotional every morning before the kids are up.  That means I have got to get up!  Some mornings I am just plain lazy.  Those are also the days nothing goes right.  It's best, I have found, to begin the day in the Word and in prayer.  Plus, I am starting a new Bible study next that requires daily work, so I have to buckle down!
  2. Exercise two times a week, minimum.  I will repeat: I am just plain lazy.  My body isn't getting any svelter (is that a word?) or slimmer, so I've got to get it movin'!  I'm thinking walks at the park with the kids, maybe a hike through the woods, or perhaps I will finally break down and join a gym.  I hate to spend the money, but my health is pretty important and I ain't gettin' any younger! 
  3. Read more.  Since I started blogging, I have noticed I am reading significantly less literature and entirely too much internet content and magazines.  Not that I don't read good quality online material, but it can't replace the classics and the Bible.  My goal is to read 4 books this month: (1) A classic, (2) Christian/Spiritual, (3) Homemaking/Mothering, & (4) Fun.  I am thinking (1) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, (2) The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, (3) Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic, & (4) Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery.
  4. Begin planning girls' birthdays and party.  I have already started a Pinterest board with ideas but really need to nail down some details (menus, presents, the cake, etc.).  We will be having a combo-birthday, but I want to make it special for both girls, even though Cora is still a baby.
  5. Plant our fall garden.  Yesterday, I posted on the status of our garden and plans for the fall.  I'm looking forward to getting the soil ready and, hopefully, planting kale, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli next week. 
That's it for now!  I am thinking I probably need to be realistic in the number of goals I set for fear I will fall flat on my face and not accomplish a thing!  At least it's a start.  :)

Each week I will post how I am doing, for accountability's sake, and, if you like, feel free to post a link to your own goals for September or leave a comment below.  I would love to see what you have going on this month.

Happy September 1st!