Living in Gratitude

Yesterday I was blessed to host our first Women of Faith spring breakfast. What a wonderful experience to share a morning together spending time sharing, learning and growing in faith and gratitude. I loved seeing the women visiting and getting to know each other in a deeper way than they could on a Sunday morning at church.

One of my favorite things about the morning was sharing how our brains operate on gratitude. The National Institutes of Health studied people’s brains while they summoned up feelings of gratitude and found that there were higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. The part of the brain controls essential body functions, metabolism and stress levels. There were also higher activity in brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. When we think about the things in our lives that we are grateful for we get a dose of dopamine. Increases of dopamine makes us want more of it:

Gratitude = Dopamine = More Gratitude = More Dopamine…..

As we start seeing things to be grateful for our brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for. Wow! Isn’t this awesome?

Living a life in gratitude helps us find more things to be grateful for. Oh this is so much better than living a life being critical, complaining and grumpy. It takes practice but the more you do it – the easier it gets and the more naturally you will be a grateful person.

Start everyday with a moment of gratitude. Write it down. Write it on your mirror, in your journal, your planner, on a note in a gratitude jar or where ever you can see it and remember it. You will be glad you did!

FREE Menu Plan & Shopping Guide

“What’s for dinner?” my husband asks on a regular basis. I used to answer “I’m not sure yet.” A few short weeks after being married I decided I needed to start planning our dinner meals so I could have a more organized and ‘put together’ answer for him. It was so nice to be able to know what meals we had planned for the week, the items that I needed to buy at the grocery store and what had to be taken out of the freezer in the morning. To make things simple and organized, I created this Menu Planning and Shopping Guide – oh what a great tool! This has made my life so much easier and I want to help make yours easier too.  Please feel free to share this post with others and print the guide off each week so when your husband asks ‘what’s for dinner’ you will have a perfectly planned answer too!   Download – FREE Menu Plan & Shopping Guide

Please post any questions or comments below in the ‘comments’ section.

Top 10 Baby Nursery Must Haves

I can’t believe my baby is almost a year old now. Wow does time fly! I was sitting in his room rocking him back to sleep at 3:30 am the other morning as I began reflecting on what were the most essential, favorite and used nursery items in his room. The things that I have found to be the most important and my most favorite over this past year. Thinking this information would be helpful to other soon-to-be-parents, I decided to write this article to help them decide on baby registries and nursery designs. I hope you find this list helpful – and be sure to post your comments below on your favorite nursery items and tell me why you like them so much.

  1. Extra Bedding. You will need extra sheets, mattress covers, and blankets. Babies are messy! You don’t want to find yourself needing to do laundry at 2 am after baby spits up or leaks through his diaper and you have a wet crib. I have found that having two mattress covers and four crib sheets have been just the right combination for us. We were given plenty of baby blankets at our shower – but when your little one finds a favorite… buy another so you can wash one and he can use the other without much fuss because he has a backup.
  2. Diaper Changing Station. Yes you will want to have a designated changing area with all the necessary supplies. We have a changing table so we don’t break our backs trying to change him in his crib. You also wont want to change them on your bed or the couch since little ones tend to potty at times before you can get that new clean diaper on them. Yes, we do have some funny baby boy pee stories (I will save those for another time). Oh… and make sure you decide what you are going to do with dirty diapers. We use cloth diapers and have a tub on the washer to put them in for quick washing.diaper change
  3. Wipe Warmer. Changing poopy diapers is no fun and to make matters worse is a cold wet wipe on baby’s bottom. Yikes! We decided that it would be much nicer to have warm, wet wipes – oh what a difference for baby. The one we choose was designed for both pop-up wipes and regular ones (you could even use wet wash cloths and put them in the tub for warming for an earth friendly choice).
  4. Rocking Chair. This is my all time favorite thing in baby’s room. I have spent hundreds of hours in my rocking chair and have many more hours to go. Be sure to get a comfortable chair that will work for you. Look for padded ones that have removable covers that you can toss in the washer – I did mention that babies are messy… Spend a little more money to get a nice one that will last for several years. As baby grows you will want to spend time reading stories and snuggling on those days they don’t feel so well.
  5. Window Coverings. You will appreciate having the option of keeping baby’s room darker for naps and those longer days of summer. Our baby definitely sleeps better and longer when I close blinds and curtains. It is also nice to be able to gently open them when it is time to wake baby up on those days that they can’t sleep in as long as they would like.
  6. Night & Table Lights. We use both types of lights. The night light is kept on during the night so it is easy to see in baby’s room when we need to get up for feeding, changing and checking in on baby. I do have to take it down in the mornings now and put an outlet plug in since he is crawling and loves to take it out of the outlet at first opportunity. We also have a separate lamp that we keep on his dresser for those midnight soiled diaper changes – you don’t want to be guessing you got everything at 2 am. Choose a low wattage bulb so it’s not so bright to keep everyone from totally waking up.
  7. Side Table. I have a little table besides my rocking chair for basic necessities like tissues, lip balm, water, burp cloths and nipple cream (for those nursing mommies). We now keep story books and his favorite stuffed toy on our table as our little guy is more interested in stories now.
  8. Dresser. You will need to have something such as a dresser, closet organizer or shelves to keep all those cute baby clothes. I have a simple 3 drawer dresser which was given to me and I refinished to match baby’s room. I keep jammies and socks in the top drawer, current sized clothes that he is wearing now in the middle, and the bottom drawer is for those clothes that he will be growing into soon.
  9. Book/Toy OrganizerI have decided to keep the bookshelf in the closet for now with cubbies for books and baskets for toys. It is too overwhelming for little ones to have access to all those books and toys. They just toss them on the floor and throw them around rather than spend focused time playing and exploring one or two things at a time. Remember we are about simplicity and organization – it helps us with focus, appreciation and more time for important things in life (this is true for our little ones too).
  10. Donation Bin. Last, but not least… Get yourself a donation box. Oh the stuff I have given away to friends with new babies and donated to local non-profit organizations. We have been blessed beyond measure in our life and we want to share those blessings with others. As baby grows out of clothes and other baby wares we place items in a storage tub and donate it when it is full. Only keep what you need and are currently using – share the joy of abundance with others less fortunate and other new parents-to-be. You will be so glad you did.

We have so many other great items in baby’s room such as a crib mobile, growth chart, fish aquarium (baby loves to watch the fish swim around as he nurses), and an essential oil diffuser. The moto we have in our house is ‘less is more’ – we can get carried away with so many things for baby that we end up with too much stuff – stuff that we may never even get out of the box. Really think about what you need – babies grow so fast and the most important thing they need, according to my husband, is… love and patience.