Friday, January 11, 2013

What I'm Reading/ Thinking Now--Be careful!

I'm a cah-razy reader.  I read detective fiction, chick lit, literary fiction, young adult lit, parenting books, teaching books, blogs, magazines, etc.  My brain is organized chaos, and my reading life tends to be organized chaos as well.

So without further ado-- a reading list of sorts:

1.  French Kids Eat Everything

In an effort to accomplish my goal of becoming a healthy family, I began with this book.  The author really likes the French (she married a Frenchman), and she is very anti-American eating mentality.  However, I liked her 10 rules, and I am implementing some of them at the Denton house-- less snacking, enjoyable meal times, more "real food," etc.  The book is not revolutionary; however, it is good sometimes to be reminded what you should be doing.  I am especially working on having the table set (I have 3 great table-setters) and making supper time a time to enjoy one another as a family.  In other words, I am working on getting my family to help out and relaxing my expectations :-).

That being said, I felt that she cow-towed too much to her husband and his family and that she put too much responsibility for her children's eating on her shoulders.  From what I got from the book, both she and her husband were work outside the home parents, and to me, it should seem that they should be equal participants in feeding their children.  However, I don't know why this angered me so since it is the way it goes down in my family as well.  Maybe I'm angry because I not the homemaker type, but I feel forced into this role--either by my control-freaky nature or Brad's lack of guilt over our children eating McDonald's every night :-).

2.  Sophie Kinsella books like this and this.

OK.  I am woman hear me roar.  I have feminist tendencies.  I want to be respected even though I have no desire to make a perfect casserole.  BUT, I LIKE CHICK LIT!!!!

Sophie Kinsella's books are just fun and funny.  They are not revolutionary or life-changing, but you will laugh and laugh and laugh.  Plus, there are no gratuitous sex scenes.

3.  The blogs.  I love to read blogs.  Especially blogs by funny, smart women.  Actually, I only read blogs by funny, smart women.  Here are my favs (the ones I read every day, or at least every time they post):
Jen Hatmaker--  She meets my "smart and funny" requirement, and she is also challenging and real.  I have especially enjoyed these blogs of hers this year:
The Election Thoughts From a Christian Independent
Women of Valor--Pinterest Aside
For Cheaters, Shirkers, and Cherry-pickers
The Easter Conundrum:  Part 1
In the Basement

Sarah Bessey-- Definitely "smart and funny" and also struggling, challenging, real, and a great writer.
Read this:
In Which I Hope She Remembers, This Day at Church
In Which I Learn to Own My Authority

The Pioneer Woman-- I read all of her new confessions, and I try some of her recipes.  I find her incredibly funny, and I have shared some of them with Brad and he finds them funny as well.  Loved this one:
I Digress

Southern Hospitality--Her story is what fascinates me.  She decorated this beautiful house with her husband in Alabama, and then he left her with nothing.  She had to totally start over.  She moved in with her parents in Atlanta, saved up her money, and bought a 70,000 fixer-upper.  Most of her blog is her journey to fix-up this home with her mother and father.  They are pretty amazing.
Her story

Bower Power--  Katie Bower is the epitome of REAL.  She just had her second baby, she is rehabbing a house, her husband has an hour commute--sometimes life is not pretty, but she is honest and funny throughout it all.  She lives in Loganville, so I have fantasies of meeting her in Walmart and becoming her best friend :-).

Young House Love-- They are the ones that started me on reading blogs regularly.  They are a couple who quit their jobs to blog about rehabbing their house.  I just like their personalities.  I wouldn't mind being their best friends too :-).

4.  The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler-- I love, love, love a good Anne Tyler novel.  I started reading her novels with The Accidental Tourist and then Breathing Lessons and then all of them.  I'm a little behind on her recent novels because (see Chick Lit section) I have been reading mostly pulpy things since we had children.  A good Anne Tyler novel, though, will take your breath away.  She is a beautiful writer who writes fabulously drawn characters--and I LOVE great characters.  The Beginner's Goodbye was good, but it is not her best.  I love Digging to America and really any of her books.

5.  The Night Circus-- This book seemed to be a set up for a movie, rather than a fully formed novel.  I love well-drawn characters, and the characters in this book were not very memorable to me.  In fact, I kept losing track of who was who.  The plot meandered and this book was unique.  So if you like meandering, unique plots, read it :-).

These are the books I have read recently.  Maybe I'll write about the books I enjoyed most this year next :-).  Who knows?  I figure this blog will be like my reading preferences, meandering, awkward, and a little weird.

Peace out XO (I teach JH)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Internal Conflict: Why is It So Dadgum HAARD!?

Romans 7:15 (or a perfect description of my internal conflict)

15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 

And then, Romans 7: 19-25

19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Argh!  Here is what I know:

1.  I am responsible for what my children eat and when they eat.  They are in charge of how much they eat.  

But.  .  . at the end of the day, I just want calm more than anything else.  I don't want to struggle with my kids at supper time.  I just want to feed them something they will eat without complaining.  I want dinner time to happen quickly and without incident.

2.  Snacking should be healthy.  Oreos are not healthy, and therefore, are not a good snack (neither are No Bake Cookies.  Darn you, Brad Denton for making them on Wednesday night.  Fortunately, or unfortunately they were gone by Thursday night :-/).  

But.  .  .then I want quick and easy and I'm stressed and the only thing that sounds good is chocolate (and not just one little bite of dark chocolate.  I want melt in your mouth goodness).  I want the crunch of chips--with a Coke, a real one with sugar and no nutrients.

3.  Healthy eating requires a good plan and food prep ahead of time (see note about how Oreos are not a health food even though they are easy).

But.  .  . I am so tired, and I want to rest.  And it is more embarrassing to send my children to school in stained clothing than to send them to school with Fruit Loops as a snack.  And my bathrooms are dirty, and I can't stand dirty dishes.  And I can't chop vegetables for those healthy snacks until my sink is clean--with bleach.  And did I mention I'm tired.

4.   I should work out at least 4-5 times a week.  When I do work out, it feels good, relieves my stress, and makes me healthier.

But.  .  . I want a nap.

5.  Eating healthy food makes me feel better than eating unhealthy food does.

But.  .  . unhealthy food is easy.  And for some reason it satisfies some longing inside me.

6.  When my prayer life and Bible reading life are good, my life is more centered and my decisions are more pure.

But.  .  . have I mentioned I'm tired?

7.  Cokes take calcium from my bones and are not good for my kidneys.  They also are full of calories and sugar.

But.  .  . Oh my goodness!  That sound a Coke makes when you open it!  The sizzle it makes as it goes down your gullet.  Oh Nectar of the gods!

I stand in the way of my good decisions, but why?  I know what to do.  I have read books.  I know how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  I know that Zumba makes me feel fabulous afterwards.  Why then is it so hard to go?  Why did I have to force myself to go today?

As I was Zumbaing today and then lifting weights afterwards (I was sooooo good today), I determined that in order to be consistent, I am going to have to do some things:

1.  Plan.  I know from being a teacher that a good plan is essential.  For me it makes me sane, helps me with classroom management, and lets my students know we are heading in a direction (not just wandering aimlessly in the land of language arts).  So here's my plan for next week:
  • I will continue with the One Year Bible, but I will read it before my nightly novel reading.
  •  I will pray after I do my Bible reading and my prayers will focus on my family and my church family's needs.  I will also pray about my success with my goals and that they are God's goals.
  • Monday will be Jami day-- I will work out, and I will attend the accountability group at the Y.            Brad will cook supper and tend to the children for me.
  • I will also do strength training on Tuesday after the kids go to bed and cardio on Wednesday right after school.  I will pack clothes to go to the Y on Wednesday.
  • We will leave right after school every day, so that my children can have a healthy snack at home and time to play outside.  I will be present with them while they play, and I will enjoy them.
  • Monday will be taco night, Tuesday will be an e-meals night, Wednesday will be vegetables and sandwiches, Thursday will be e-meals, and Friday will be vegetables and sandwiches.
  • I will get carrots, celery, and peppers at the grocery store because my children will snack on them (and so will I).
  • I will continue to have water before school, to limit my coffee intake, and this week, I will only have Cokes every other day (Yikes!).  I will not snack unless it is a fruit or a vegetable.

2.  Change my identity.  We were talking about reading in my class this week, and one of the students said, "How do you find time to read?"  And I don't know--I just do.  I'm a reader so I read.  I don't think about it.  I just read every night, and I have for most of my life.  I need to be a healthy person.  It needs to be my identity, and I need to help my children to have this identity like my parents help me to have a reader identity.  It needs to not be what I struggle against, but who I am.  I need to remember daily that it feels good to be healthy.

3.  Pray and have others pray for me.  I know that when my prayer life is good and active, I make positive changes in my life.  

So God, please "rescue me from this body of death."  I need it :-). 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


What do I want for 2013?

I have noticed that a lot of people have chosen words for their years for the past couple of years.  It is somewhat of a trend.  As I have been contemplating the new year and what I want out of the new year, I have decided to follow the trend and choose a word.  My word this year will be present.  I desire to be present for my life.

I tend to be future focussed.  I care little about the past, and I am thinking always of what I want next.  This year, I am going to try to be in the here and now.

Today at the end of the day--the last day of our break--I became overwhelmingly aware that I had spent little time with my children.  I had spent the day readying us for tomorrow, and I had spent virtually no time enjoying today.  Now, I am not bemoaning myself or saying I am a horrific mother.  My children were well-cared for and had a wonderful day.  They played hard and had a terrific day--one of the best days of the break.  I am bemoaning the fact that -I- missed out on the joy.

I am also not saying that I should have let the house fall to shambles around us, and we should live in squalor while I ride roller-coasters every day with my children.  What I am saying is that I should find time every day to be present and to enjoy my life.

And while I am being present, I am just going to focus on two goals for now until May (when I will set summer time goals):
1.  I will eat healthier, I will cook my children healthy food, and I will encourage them to make healthier food choices.  In pursuit of this goal, I will drink a glass of water before work in the morning, only one cup of coffee a day, and I will not snack.  I will not stay at school past 4, my children will have a healthy snack at home, and I will find at least 5 healthy, easy meals for us to have every week.  I will do Zumba once a week, take a walk with my children once a week, and do some other type of physical activity once a week.  I will blog weekly about our menu, new recipes, and successes and failures.

2.  I will grow closer to God by reading his word and praying before I am too tired to keep my eyes open :-).  I will do this by going to bed earlier, so I will have time to read and digest the day.

And that is it, peeps.  So what are your goals?

Monday, December 31, 2012

My Second Annual New Year's Resolution Post and Update

Um, yeh. That promise to blog more lasted until March and reading the Bible nightly lasted until May (Darn you, Leviticus!). I did lose 20 lbs (and then gained back 15), I did the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels, and my feet are in better shape. Woo hoo! We are going to call it a successful year :-).

I have decided that based on my performance this past year, I am going to do beginning of the year and then mid-year resolutions. I think the ENFP in me needs a new challenge around May, so instead of bemoaning my weaknesses as a human being, I am going to accept who I am and work with the raw material I have. Yep, being 36 is great--gotta love being OK with yourself.

So these are my "From January to May" Resolutions:

1. Go to bed earlier and get up earlier. If I accomplish this goal, it will be HUGE. I am an enormous night-owl. My body prefers to go to bed around 5AM and then get up around 1 in the afternoon. During the school year, I am able to modify this preferred behavior (I go to bed around midnight and get up around 6:20), but, of course, getting up at 6:20 does not give me enough time to get myself and my two adorable, grumpy children ready for school and out the door by at least 7:00 (preferably 6:45). My mornings end up being pretty grisly. So I resolve to be in bed reading by 9:30 and in bed with the lights out by 10, and I resolve to get up by 5:30.

2. Eat healthier and feed my family healthier meals. Emma is a horrible eater with a sweet tooth the size of Texas. She would rather eat chocolate ice cream than anything else. The only meat she eats are chicken nuggets from fast food restaurants. If I want her to eat healthier, I am going to have to be more consistent in my cooking. I need to have a rotation of about 5 healthy meals so that she is exposed over and over again to good food. So I resolve to plan and cook healthy meals for my family at least 4 nights a week, and I resolve to have healthy sweet things in my home to satiate Emma's sweet tooth.

3. To walk or do some kind of physical activity at least three days a week. I think this can be accomplished by getting up earlier. I get ready incredibly quickly, so if I get up by 5:30, I should be able to do 15-20 minutes of some kind of physical activity. The problem, of course, is I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS! I want the results-- a healthier body that will be able to play with my grandkids--but I don't want to do the work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm in the midst of reading the Old Testament right now (Phew! I made it through Leviticus). It is the first time I have read the Old Testament as a partially-actualized adult (not college student), and I am surprised. The God who I thought presided over the people of the Old Testament is different from who I thought he would be. So far this realization has caused me to rethink how I have studied the Bible in the past. I thought I would find God to be a rule enforcing dictator, and there are A LOT of rules in Leviticus, but when I finished reading Leviticus (and I read it, every stinking word), I was struck by how God gave those rules with the purpose of making the Children of Israel his. It is about being God's people vs. being a pagan people; being set aside for God. The "rules" aren't rules for rules sake. God is VERY about culture.
The point I am trying to make is that God changes the "rules." The rules are different in the Old Testament than they are the New--why? It seems to me that the purpose of the Bible is to show us that God strongly desires a close relationship with his people, not strongly desires "rule following" people. He is so strict in the Old Testament because the people are sooooo far from the people he desires them to be (Hello? Bestiality?). By the New Testament, they have cleaned up their act a bit, but they are so focussed on the rules that they forget about God.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Logan is TWO!!

My Big BOY!!

My next post was going to be about Moses and being called to things that we don't feel talented at (in?), but in the midst of my deepish thoughts, my baby grew up. I mean really grew up, as in started having temper-tantrums, started pushing, started saying "no" and "mine" A LOT, started playing with the contents of his diaper, and started doing weird things like sticking his hand down his throat to see what happens- grew up. My sweet little boy who I worried about the first few months of his life because he was sooooo quiet has started running, climbing, squealing, yelling, jumping, and demanding to be put in time out (I figure that is what he is doing when he pushes me and says, "No"). But even with all the "asserting himself" he's been doing lately, he still has moments when he flashes that stellar smile of his and melts my heart.
His first birthday was a kind of a sad affair. Logan had double-ear infections, and I had been staying up with him for days. I was exhausted; he was so miserable. He did manage to eat a little cake, but it was not the blowout that we had for Emma on her first birthday.

Logan at his birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa's a week before ear infection madness.
trying to smile while, but you can tell he has uber-chapped lips and feels horrible a week later at his real birthday party.
Since I am determined to not short-change Logan (as much as possible), I wanted his second birthday to be more festive. For Emma's first birthday, I made her a delectable Pablo cake (from the Backyardigans), so I decided for Logan's second birthday, I would make him a car cake since he is obsessed with carrrrs (and motorcycles, vroom, vroom) right now.
We also had non-family guests--The Woodwards. The Dentons are kind of anti-social when we get home, so having people over was a BIG DEAL. Emma did not have friends over until last year, but she is more individualistic than Logan (she is carrying on her mother's tradition of talking a lot, but enjoying time to herself). Even though he is quieter (MUCH quieter) than she is, he is also friendlier and enjoys being around non-family more than she does. And he has such a good, little friend in Charlie (or Lolly as he likes to call him). Charlie and Logan (Lolly and Lolo) are at Ms. Margie's together, and they have Sunday school together. They truly do have a great little relationship and enjoy one another. And I am trying not to hold it against Lolly that Logan said his name regularly before he said, "mommy," regularly :-).
I was a little afraid that things might not go well for the party when Logan was still asleep when our guests (Mimi, Wells, Shelley, and Charlie) arrived. However, when he finally woke up (with some help from his sister), he was ready for a good time. We had hot dogs, hamburgers (with rye buns--note to self: Do not send Brad out for buns again), apple slices, chips, and CAKE. Charlie and Logan ate supper at Logan and Emma's little table and looked adorable doing it, and then they moved on to the high chairs for some major cake demolition.

I think much fun was had by all, and I sure enjoyed having a better birthday party for my sweet little boy. And, yes, I should have put pants on him after his nap before we started snapping pictures. Live and learn. Live and learn.

Now for an update--
The TWO-year-old Logan

Cars, motorcycles (sahcles), trucks, his car table, buckling things, taking his clothes off, strawberries, opening and closing doors, outside, pushing and saying, "MINE," asserting his will and saying, "NO," even when he means, "yes," using a fork and spoon, music and dancing, turning the lights off and on, brushing his teeth, standing on Emma's stool, coloring, kissing, saying, "Ah-men," and "Oh man," counting, singing the ABC's and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", placing his cars in places that others might step on them, having his daddy "wetify" is hands after supper, running, climbing, taking off all of the pillows on the couch, throwing everything in his crib out of his crib, Emma's sippy cups, The Wiggles, the book "My Truck is Stuck," tickling, running around naked with shoes on, and clean diapers.

having a runny nose, not getting his way, being frustrated, cheese, having food in his mouth when he is suddenly full (he will just all of a sudden spit out his food), having his nose sucked, having a blanket on his feet, messy hands, putting a jacket or pants on, getting his diaper changed, Emma getting a whole rice cake and him getting half, sitting in his car seat all the way home, sitting still in restaurants, teething, a poopy diaper (it must be removed IMMEDIATELY), using words (he'd rather point and pull), mornings (when he has to leave the house), and being restrained in any way (he wants to be free).

We are really learning who Logan is right now (sometimes he tells us LOUDLY). I am really liking the little boy he is becoming. We are working on normal two-year-old things like temper-tantrums, sharing, not pushing, and not getting your way all the time. I have found that time-out works really well with him, as does talking to him calmly. Yelling, spanking, and anything extreme just causes him to dig in his heels and act worse (I know your shocked. Those are such good parenting methods :-)). At this stage, he is more challenging than Emma was because I think she was so clear from the beginning in telling us who she was and what she wanted. Logan has just all of a sudden started caring about things, so it is taking us longer to figure out what works with him.

Parenting him thus far has been an adventure, and throughout the good and the bad, I am always so proud of who he is and so thankful that God has allowed me to be his mommy. What delightful children I have been blessed with! Here's to another great year with my little Logan.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


In case, y'all hadn't heard the news, IT SNOWED in Atlanta last week. I mean really snowed. And we got out of school for a whole week--not one measly day, but a WHOLE week. It was amazing and astounding.

Sunday night, I did all my Sunday rituals--"finished" laundry (made sure Emma had underwear and uniforms, that Logan had pants, and that Brad and I had at least one clean pair of underwear), made lunches, and cleaned the kitchen. I just was not gonna believe that snow was going to fall. I'd been burned before. Newscasters had promised snow days, and I had woken up gleefully at 5:30 AM to find out it was a beautiful day--urgh. So when Brad opened our front door at 10:30 on Sunday night and exclaimed, I was in shock (and totally prepared for a day of doing nothing--well, nothing except putting up the Christmas decorations that were still lingering).

Here's what our patio looked like Monday morning:
This is the front of our house.
Then the most amazing thing happened. It was truly astounding. A bigger miracle than the snow. MY CHILDREN SLEPT UNTIL 9. Just so you know, sleeping children is not the norm in the Denton household. Logan has maintained since around 4 months that sleeping is for sissies. But for some reason on the first snow day, EVERYONE slept. And then we played (or Emma played and Logan fell in the snow, got up, and fell again).

Here's a picture of Emma's neck and Logan touching the snow.

Monday was truly a blissful day. We played, we had hot chocolate, we went on imaginary adventures to Japan, Logan laid down and took a nap without being rocked (Again, A-MA-ZING!), I got the Christmas decorations taken down and Brad put them in the attic, and we ended the day watching Beauty and the Beast.

The rest of the week was just as blissful (except for Saturday. By Saturday, the children were ready to scream until someone came looking for them and rescued them from the confines of the Denton home. I thought about screaming, too (and did briefly), but then I remembered my New Year's resolution.). We painted, we made snow cream, we baked, we ate the food that we baked, we sledded, we made a snowman, we watched movies, we played games, we did puzzles, and we totally veged and watched countless hours of Caillou (sp) and The Wiggles. It will go down as one of the best weeks of my life. It was like it was some kind of reward for the struggles of last year. Just a week to be and to enjoy the precious children and wonderful husband God has blessed me with.

Emma sledding on her stomach:
Brad attempting to belly sled, forgetting that he weighs a bit more than Emma.
Emma and her gInormous piece of ice. Logan and his smaller piece of ice.
Logan all Aquaphored up.
My beautiful girl.
My silly boy.
Emma having hot chocolate by the fire (in case you couldn't figure out the picture)