Monday, February 27, 2012

Kate - Pumpkin Dip Recipe

This is the EASIEST chip dip recipe ever, and it's SO good. People are always asking me for the recipe, and I like to make it sound really complicated but it's not at all! Serve warm with corn chips and wait for the compliments! This is not low G.I. but sometimes you have to splurge!
"Pumpkin Dip"

(No pumpkin in it, we always called it that because of the colour)
1 cup salsa
1 block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheese

Place salsa and cream cheese in a food processor, or mix with a blender or hand mixer.
Mix in shredded cheese.
Pour into pie plate and bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until it turns pumpkin coloured.

Ta-da! So good!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Let go

Did you have a plan for your life?  Did you know what you wanted to be, where you wanted to live, who you wanted to marry,  how many kids you were going to have?  Did you have it all planned out?  Do you still have your plan?  Are you willing to give up on that plan?

I am a person who craves stability, predictability and certainty.  I want to know that things are fine, they will go as planned and that they will stay that way.  I don't like surprises.  I don't like the unknown.  I hate uncertainty.

So what do you think my life has been?

Every day I see more and more that I am definitely NOT in control.    It is definitely NOT certain nor predictable.  By the Grace of God I am slowly learning to be okay with that.

I have always believed I was a Christian.  We went to church every Sunday, went Sunday school, sang in the choir, and participated in youth group and church events.  What I didn't realize is that even though I believed in Christ, I didn't KNOW Christ.  I didn't see Christ as someone who wanted to be in my life, and BE my life.  HE was a far away entity that had so much more important stuff to look after in the world that there was no way I really mattered.

By His Grace I am learning that I AM loved.  I AM wanted.  I AM worthy.
HE has a plan for my life.  However, He doesn't feel the need to share that plan with me.  Instead He just wants me to trust HIM. 
 I must admit that I find the trusting VERY hard.  Not because I don't think that He wants the best for me, but because I fear what He might ask me to do.  I fear what He might make me have to deal with that I don't want to or don't think I can.

Over the last few years we have had many things happen in our lives.  Gord was out of work for a year, we had our 3rd baby during that same year (which was a huge surprise!), we lost our vehicle, we lost our house, many times we had very little food, couldn't pay our bills, every day was a struggle. Our relationship with Christ was put through the ringer.  We cried out to Him, we were angry with Him, we questioned Him, we were grateful to Him  Anything you can feel, we felt. 

But God is Good. 
 We have learned so much and been so blessed during that time as well.  We had food provided for us many, many times, money came even from people we didn't even know.  We were given a vehicle, and so much more.  God used all of those things in our lives to bring us closer to Him.  It is still a journey of faith that we are on every day.  He has now had us move 2 hours away from any of our family and friends, but we feel that this is where He wants us at this moment.  We have no idea where God is taking us, but we know that if we continue to trust Him, He will work it out.

A few months back I made the comment that I am thankful that God has it all worked out cause I just don't see it.  A very good friend of my had this to say in reply.... IF you could see it YOU WOULD never CHOOSE it and you'd miss the mark He has set for you... She really made me think. 

God knows where He wants me to be.  He also knows that I don't think I am ready to be there.  So, He lovingly gives my GPS alternate directions.  Each step of the way I am learning, growing, and maturing.  Each step brings me into a closer relationship with my heavenly Papa.

This might not be how I thought my life would go, but I am grateful that God loves me enough to keep bringing me back to Him. 

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

KATE: The Latest Chapter in my Weight Loss Journey

I have struggled with my weight (and accompanying body-image problems) for probably my whole life. I imagine a lot of it comes from my Mom's similar struggle, combined with not eating well growing up. (I grew up in a single-parent home, and my Mom had to work SO hard to provide for my sisters and I). Either way, I was rarely comfortable in my own skin while growing up.

I was a typical University student and put on weight pretty steadily over the course of University and teachers' college. Mike and I got married while I was still finishing school, and I think being newlyweds combined with me being in school (and working three jobs) taught us a lot of bad habits. So although I made a few attempts at getting it under control, (joining a gym, trying to eat healthier etc.) nothing really seemed to work.

Then the baby happened! Oh my sweet little Thomas. I gained about 30 pounds while I was pregnant, which I considered not "too bad". But keep in mind that I wasn't starting from a particularly healthy place. My eating habits didn't change drastically, and I had only a few craving moments (I still tell Mike he got off easy! We'll see how he does with future babies!) things like cucumber, salami and red licorice. But not together.

When Thom came out weighing almost 9 pounds, I thought "Hey, almost a third of the baby weight, gone immediately!" and then after all was said and done I lost about 15 pounds by giving birth. So I figured, okay, halfway there! But I knew I had to do something, in order to feel better about myself, set a good example for my son, and just generally be healthier. I've also had problems with my liver in the past 3 years or so, and I thought maybe eating healthier and trying to be more active might help with my liver problems. So when a friend mentioned he was going to try a "Low G.I." diet, we thought nothing of it, until we saw a book with a similar title at my in-laws. Mike (who is SUPER skinny) thought maybe if we gave it a try, it would have the double benefit of us eating healthier, and he was hoping it would give him more energy. I think he forgot the part where we were new parents! No sleep=no energy. But we decided to "borrow" the book, and give it a try.

Basically the philosophy is that you eat good food that keeps you full for longer. G.I. is "glycemic index" which has something to do with how much sugar is in your food. I didn't really read the whole book, I must admit. But I read the important parts, and the recipes! I make a weekly meal plan and try to stick with the recipes and meals suggested in the book, but we do stray occasionally. Pizza is just so delicious. But a lot of smaller changes (I had to eat a bagel with peanut butter every morning for breakfast when I was pregnant. Somehow it settled my stomach) seemed to add up to bigger changes. I also started trying to get more active. I signed up for a "Mom & Baby" yoga class (which I love), going for walks with Thom and friends, and I've even tried Hot Yoga and a few Boot-camp classes (ow). I am beginning to understand how much my body needs to move, and how much better I feel afterwards.

Over the course of the past 7 months, I've lost around 65 pounds (since being 9+ months pregnant) and I'm finally starting to feel comfortable in my body. I'm not a "stick", and I never will be. My body has been through some crazy things in the past 10 years or so, but I know that I'm doing right by it. I can feel myself being more present, getting stronger and just being healthy. I used to get migraine headaches almost every day, and I can say I've had like one, maybe two since being pregnant. I'm actually excited for my annual appointment with my liver specialist doctor, because I'm curious if all my lifestyle changes have made a difference to my liver.

I am still learning to be comfortable with people commenting on my weight-loss, complimenting me and asking me my secret. I haven't figured out how to explain to people, some people really aren't comfortable with the "diet and exercise" as an explanation. A few people say something like "You must feel so much better!" which I never know how to respond to. I never really "felt" bad. I felt big, but I was super pregnant! And he was a big baby! And before that, I was just used to being big. I still had (and have!) a husband who loves me and supports me (and does most of the cooking! I'm so lucky.) no matter what I look like.

 I don't really know how to conclude this post! We are still following the diet, (Mike gets to eat 2X more food than I do, because I'm so paranoid about him losing weight he cant afford to lose) but we are less strict about it than we were at first. I would love to lose another 30 pounds or so, (my ultimate goal is to weigh less than Mike!) and 7 months ago I never would have thought that was possible. I was convinced I'd gain the baby weight permanently. But now I know that if I commit and stick to it, I can achieve it. Or at the very least I can try. My body may not want to go that far, but I'm okay with that. I currently weigh less than I did on my wedding day. I tried on my "going away" dress from our wedding, and it's too big. And this is almost 5 years (and 1 baby) later. I'm really proud of that accomplishment!

The only problem I've found with losing a lot of weight is that very few of my clothes fit anymore... and we can't exactly afford to buy me a whole new wardrobe! Maybe someday...


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Introducing contributor JYLLIAN!!

It is time for another introduction!  Please welcome Jyllian to the Sisterhood!   I am blessed to have Jyllian as my baby sister.  I am sure you will enjoy sharing with her. 

Well I am new to this whole blogging thing...but I’ll try anything once!! ;)

Let me introduce myself…Jyllian Kuhnen! Nice to meet ya! ;) Well that sounded a bit like I was introducing myself to myself but I told you I was new to this!! Seriously though, my name is Jyllian and I am a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom living in Alliston, Ontario.  I grew up in Kitchener, Ontario (miss you K-town!) but moved up to Alliston about 7 years ago. I have been married to my husband Erik for 7 years and we have been blessed with 3 gorgeous girls who make every day a beautiful adventure! J I just celebrated my 38th birthday a few weeks ago (well, actually, I tried to sleep all day and just skip it but that didn’t work too well – lol) and find myself pondering a great many things these days…which I am sure you will read about in the coming weeks on this blog. ;) Triumphs, regrets, proud moments, blessings, desires, hopes, dreams, beliefs, fears….and that’s just on Mondays.  J

Things I love…

Erik – my Holland-born husband of almost 8 years. I am sure I take him for granted quite often, but he is the love of my life, a true friend, and I cannot imagine life without him.  And he puts up with my quirks (and trust me, I am definitely quirky!) and loves me anyway. ;)

Delaney – my gorgeous 13-year-old teenage daughter who amazes me every day with her insight and acceptance,  her poetic soul and artistic flair, her love and loyalty to her friends, and her tolerance of her sisters (lol – couldn’t resist – I was getting sappy!).  She makes me proud to be her mom and shows me what I want to be when I grow up.

Aubree – my beautiful, sensitive soul. Just 8 years old and going to change the world. Elite competitive gymnast, brilliant student, so creative and dramatic, always busy and wanting to do more, learn more, see more. She makes me wish I could bottle her energy and sell it – then I could afford all the things she wishes she could do. J Love her past the stars.

Piper – my little angel. I asked her to promise me that she would stay little forever – she said she had to grow up, but that she would cuddle me forever.  She’s my sunshine – my perfect little 5 year old cure for anything that is bringing me down. Full of giggles, stories and songs – makes me want to freeze time and savor these moments. Love her to the moon.

Basketball – yep – a TOTAL basketball fanatic. Started when I was young and just got worse as the years passed. Played, watched, coached, earned scholarship, blew out knee, lost scholarship – such is life! Go Raptors! Go DUKE!

My friends and family  - I am truly, truly blessed to have such wonderful amazing people in my life. My family has always been there for me and I have some absolutely amazing friends –some new, some old, ALL amazing!!

My job – I am a Team Leader with JOCKEY Person 2 Person and I am absolutely loving it!! In one fell swoop I found a business, a purpose and a family that has been the perfect fit for me! LOVE my job! ;)

I could go on forever but maybe I’ll save some for another day…


Be my Valentine.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day.  I must admit that after 20 years together my husband and I don't make that big a deal about it.  We do make sure that we wish each other a Happy Valentine's Day, and sometimes there are cards or small treats, but that is about it.  This year one of the young girls of our church had made some wonderful chocolate to sell.  We couldn't decide on which of the four flavours to choose so we picked up a package of each.  She had them tied with a lovely red bow.  Very cute and yummy too.  That was what we gave to each other.  I know that they are more for me than him though. 

 I hope that I let my hubby know all year long how much I love him and that he means the world to me, and even though I don't think a big deal needs to be made of Valentine's Day it is still nice to hear that I am still his Valentine.  He is certainly still mine.

Having two of our boys in school we participate in the ritual of giving Valentines to their friends.  We chose The Superhero Squad and CARS valentines this year and added some Rockets candies to them after the boys had written all of the names on them.  It makes the boys happy to be able to give things out to their classes and I like that the teachers make sure to send a list of the student's names home so that no one is left out.  I remember worrying when I was young that I wouldn't get any valentines.  Everyone wants to be liked and they will have enough disappointment in their lives as they get older, at this age Valentine's day should be fun.

The boys were quite excited to show me all of their Valentines when they arrived home from school.  They received valentines, some chocolate,  suckers as well as a bookmark and pencils.  To top it all off they received a package in the mail from their Grandparents with a card and some treats in it.  All in all they enjoyed their Valentine's day and will have treats to last them for the next couple of weeks.  Thankfully my kids are content with only having a single treat each day.  It makes the treats last longer and saves their bellies :)

So how do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  Is it important to you?  Do you make a special dinner or pick out a special gift?  Do you ignore the commercial ritual all together or make a big deal of it?  Whatever you do, I hope that February 14th was a sweet day for you, and that you will have many more sweet days ahead of you. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Introducing Contributor KATE!!!!

I am very happy to introduce to you the first of our contributing writers!!  Please give a warm welcome to Kate.  I am very pleased that Kate has agreed to come and join us here at The Sharing Sisterhood.  I know that you will love getting to know her.

Well, I can't say that I've ever "introduced myself" in a blog before! I do write my own blog, but I assume that anyone reading it probably already knows who I am. So here goes! My name is Kate, and I've been told I'm "Brutally Honest". Which I take as a compliment. I'm a wife (Mike and I have been married for almost 5 years) and a new Mom (Thomas is almost 7 months old). I'm learning new aspects of what God wants me to be within those roles each and every day!

Things I love:
  • My husband. I know in my heart that God meant him just for me and I try so hard to remember that when we have grumbles. But we laugh a lot and I think when it's all said and done, we still really enjoy each other's company.
  • My son! He makes me laugh every day. I try to take a few seconds every day and just look at him and appreciate him. He's already changed so much and the days seem to be getting faster and faster. I'm trying so hard to cherish these moments!
  • My cat... His name is Hobbes, and he is indeed a "homicidal psycho jungle cat". And that would only make sense to you if you were a fan of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. Which I also love.
  • My extended family and friends. My sisters and Mom and I are extremely close, and Mike's family is wonderful as well. They all live relatively close by, and I wouldn't have it any other way! My close friends are a little more spread out, but they are also wonderful. I wish we got to see each other more!
  • Music. I love to sing, bang on a piano, listen to the radio etc. Music soothes my soul.
  • Balloons escaping. (Hence the picture) I read a beautiful blog post which captured almost exactly my feelings about escaping balloons. And I imagine she did it in a much more eloquent way! For my 21st birthday my two best friends and I set a big bunch of balloons free, and it still makes me smile to think about.
  • Books! I'm currently working through a pile I was given/lent from Christmas, including books by A.J. Jacobs, "The Help", and I just finished "The Hunger Games" (and loved it!)
  • Laughter.
  • Yoga. I took it up after Thom was born, as a little something I could do "just for me"... and I really do love it. It seems to keep me grounded or something. Makes me a little less crazy.

Things I hate:
  • Mushrooms. I just can't get past the fact that they grow in poop. Also I don't care for the taste.
  • Horses. I'm really scared of them. They are giant and bite-y and I just don't trust 'em. I like donkeys though, I think it's because they look so funny.
  • Birds. See "Horses". But in this case, it's the flapping. Pretty enough to look at, just don't fly near me. Or flap your wings. No thank you.
  • Sand. I do not enjoy the beach. Water yes (love swimming!), beach no. Give me a dock and a chair at the cottage any day! I hate finding sand in "places", I hate getting my feet sandy, it's making me uncomfortable just thinking about it!
  • Ground beef. I was a vegetarian for 12 years, and though I can now eat most meat, and even enjoy some... (mmm bacon) ground beef still gives me the willies.
  • Balloons popping. I'd rather set them free.
I welcomed the opportunity to write for this blog. I used to write all the time, but as the days go by they seem to get faster and faster and I can't seem to accomplish everything I want to in a day. I ran into an old English teacher of mine a few years back, and the first thing she asked me was "Do you still write?" and when I had to say no, I could see the sad look on her face. She really believed in my writing when I was younger and I felt like I had disappointed her. Since then I've really tried (and continue to try!) to make a point of expressing myself in writing, though some days are more successful than others!

I think that's it, for me... I'll be posting periodically, about whatever is on my mind at the time. I'll apologize in advance. I tend to go off on rabbit trails, and I've also got a raging case of "Mom brain". So I may never actually make a point. But I'll try!

Kate Shantz, OCT

This is Me.

When I was considering starting up this blog I knew that I would want to have each of the contributing writers tell our readers about themselves as their first post.  I knew that I too would need an introduction post.  So, I began to think about what I wanted the post to say.  What are the things about Janessa that I feel are the most important?  Who means the world to me? What things have had the most impact in my life?  What do I want people to know about me and my journey?  Who am I?

After considerable thought I decided that the first thing I wanted to share is that I am a believer.  My God is the most important part of my life.  HE is in control and has my life in His hands.  HE has been working on me A LOT in the last few years and as much as I have not understood or even liked some of what has happened or continues to happen, I am THANKFUL that everyday I am coming to a deeper relationship with my Papa and that by His Grace I am saved.  No matter what I do, or say, how I feel, or how often I seem to lose sight of Him, HE never changes, never leaves me, and always loves me.

I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, Gord, who loves me just as I am.  We will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in June of this year.  I am lucky enough to be able to say that I am more in love with him now than ever before.  We have weathered some difficult storms, but we have stuck together and are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together.

The greatest joys in my life come in the form of three little boys.  After 11 years of marriage and coming to the conclusion that we just weren't meant to have children, God chose to give us Gabriel (Gabe) who is now 8years old, Zachary (Zach) who is 5, and finish our family with Isaac who is 2.  They are all unique in personality, but look very much alike.  At times I feel very out numbered and still don't totally understand the love that the male gender has for burps, farts and other such bodily noises, but I love them with all of my heart.  They teach me, mold me, frustrate me, make me laugh, cry, sing and scream, all before 9am....Some days I wonder what God was thinking, but most of the time I am just thankful for them.

So,  what else?  I am 40 years old.  I am a stay at home mom, and seem to always be finding more laundry, especially stray socks.  I have an ongoing battle with my weight that I am sure I will post about in the future.  I recently moved to just outside of Sarnia and have been blessed with an awesome home to rent for the next few months that looks out over Lake Huron.  Its absolutely beautiful....and I'm sure I will post about how we got here and why at some point as well.  My life has been a journey.  There was I time when I hated that.  Don't get me wrong, I do not enjoy everything that we are going through, but every day I see more and more how God is working things out. 

I love music and movies, renovation shows, crime dramas like CSI and the Mentalist, and inspirational stories.  I enjoy crafty stuff, photography, and reading however I have not seemed to make the time for much of any of them for far too long.  I love spending time with my family and friends, and hope that some of them will come to visit us soon!

I look forward to introducing you to the other wonderful ladies who will be joining me here at The Sharing Sisterhood.  Please let me know if you are interested in becoming a regular or a guest contributor.  The more the merrier!

Many blessings :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Sharing Sisterhood

As the years go by I have come to appreciate tremendously the women in my life.  I have been blessed with two wonderful sisters, four sisters-in-law, a mom, a mom-in-law, and a step mom, a bunch of aunts, even more cousins and many, many wonderful girlfriends that I would happily consider sisters.

These women have shared so much with me.  Whether it be advice, or tips, encouragement or sympathy, recipes or recommendations, I always know that I have many wonderful ladies around willing to share in so many amazing ways.

This is why I have decided to start this blog.  It will be a place where we can share our journeys, our experiences, hopes and dreams, heartaches and fears.  Inspire and encourage each other.  Teach, learn, grow.  Laugh, cry and enjoy!

I will be writing here as often as possible, but to help me give you a reason to want to come back and spend some more time with us here, I have asked several wonderful women to join me as regular contributors and we will also have some occasional guest contributors as well.

So, without any further ado, WELCOME TO THE SISTERHOOD!  May you enjoy sharing in the lives of our contributors and come back to join us as often as you can.

Many Blessings :)