Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

I’ve Moved!

Guess what! I am very pleased to announce that I now have my own domain name and website! Check it out at www.mkbrander.com

This is something that I’ve been dreaming about for a long, long time. I know that hosting and domains are cheap people, but the problem wasn’t that, the problem was that I didn’t believe in myself. I thought, who am I to have my own domain? Little old me? Really? Do I even have any readers? Does anybody even listen to what I’m saying? Well, I took the plunge, thanks to a little bit of encouragement from my friend Marla Taviano and a lot of help from her husband Gabe Taviano.

What does this mean for this site? Well, I’ll still keep it up here for the old posts, but really, if you want to see any new stuff, you should head on over to my new site. So update your feeds, change your bookmarks, etc.

And pop over to the new site! And while you’re there, enter the giveaway for Nerve! It doesn’t have very many entries right now so you have a pretty good shot. :)

 

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Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool Review and Giveaway!

Name of book: Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool

Author: Taylor Clark

Summary (from Amazon): Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It’s not that these people feel no fear; often, in fact, they’re riddled with it.

In Nerve, Taylor Clark draws upon cutting-edge science and painstaking reporting to explore the very heart of panic and poise. Using a wide range of case studies, Clark overturns the popular myths about anxiety and fear to explain why some people thrive under pressure, while others falter-and how we can go forward with steadier nerves and increased confidence.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating: I thought this was an excellent book. Even though it was a non-fiction book, it was a compelling read. He made the science really entertaining. It was also well organized and well thought out, something I especially appreciate in a non-fiction book. And I felt like I could use the science in my life. I really get stuck in worry sometimes and while I know I shouldn’t worry, sometimes understanding why I get sucked so easily into the worry loop (which he talks about) is helpful to ending the worry loop. Trust me, you do not want to miss this book. He makes the results of studies accessible, entertaining, and informative and looks at people in real life situations, not just hypothetical ones. I look forward to reading his other book someday.

Find Nerve on  Amazon

Find Nerve on Goodreads

And now for the giveaway! What happened was I won this book in a giveaway on another blog (which blog I don’t remember, it was a while ago, otherwise I would link to it) and I was accidentally shipped two copies of it. I called the publishing company and they said to keep it and do whatever I wanted with it. So in exchange, I am going to pass that along to you and giveaway my spare copy! No need for me to have two!

To enter, click on the link below that says a Rafflecoper giveaway and fill out the form – easy peesy! Let me know if you have any questions! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms: Contest is open to US only (sorry, I can’t afford to ship it internationally) ages 13 and older. Contest will end on December 1st at midnight (so last day to get your entries in is November 30th) and I will pick a winner using random.org. I am solely responsible for this giveaway and Little, Brown and Company are not responsible or affiliated in any way.

Disclosure: I won this in a giveaway on another blog! I am just reviewing it because I liked it and did not receive anything to do so. These thoughts are 100 percent real, honest, and mine. The Amazon link is also an affiliate link and if you purchase it through there, I will receive a small portion of the funds! Thanks for supporting me!

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Being Soul Hungry

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35

Eating is all something that we have to do every day. I was curious because I was looking for statistics on how much of our lifetime we spend eating and I found this American Time Use Survey has most Americans eating a little over an hour a day, which equals to over 400 hours spent eating every year or over 2,000 hours when you stretch that out over five years. Crazy isn’t it? Now I mean, I love food as much as the next person, but imagine all the things I could do if I didn’t have to stop to take time to eat? It would be a crazy amount of time back.

So when Jesus says we’ll never have to be hungry again, it’s a relatable analogy. Because he’s not talking about literal hunger and thirst. He didn’t come to feed our physical bodies. He came to feed our spiritual selves, to keep us from being soul hungry. Because how many people out there are searching for something to fill the emptiness inside of them, the hunger for something that means something? They turn to all sorts of substitutes – alcohol, drugs, false gods, more money – the list goes on and on. But those things can’t fill our soul hunger. They may feel like they do for a little while, but it’s only temporary. It’s not lasting.

But Jesus, he offers that lasting soul filling, the bread and water that your soul can eat and never be hungry again. It’s amazing. We were designed to be his and without him in our life, we will never find completeness. With him we can have everlasting life, the bread of life.

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Reading To Your Kid!

As many of you know, I was a writing major in college. As you may guess from that, I value words, reading, writing, books and everything else along those lines.  So to me, it’s important to find time to read to Dom on a regular basis. I shoot for daily, but that doesn’t always happen depending on how crabby he is and what we’re doing during the day. However, I still find time to do this when I can, because the benefits are huge. Reading books to your kid is really crucial and important for their language development. So today I thought I would share some of the books that Dom and I love to read. In no particular order, here are five of the books we really love right now.

1.The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

I don’t know exactly what it is about this book, but it’s fun and it’s cute. It’s a short and easy read, with entertaining colorful pictures. This is the book I’m most likely to give to Dom to look at by himself.

2. Hello, Animals! by Smriti Prasadam

This is one of our favorites. I could easily read this book to Dom three or four times in a row and he would keep paying attention. Additionally, it’s full of a lot of fun sounds that are really entertaining. This is actually a library book, but I keep thinking I’m going to have to buy a copy for our personal book collection.

3. My Daddy And Me by Amy Sklansky

Being a SAHM, it means I am the one that Dominic spends the majority of his time with. However, it’s important to me that Dom builds a good relationship with his dad. So while Nick is away, I like to read books like this to Dominic and talk about the fun things that dad will do with him when he gets home. This one is so cute and is a particular favorite. It talks about pairs of things that go together, just like dads and their children do.

4. Time for Bed by Mem Fox

This is a cute book that rhymes (which helps with language development). It’s all about mothers telling their various baby animals that it’s time for sleep. It’s a very cute book, in my opinion, and great to read before nap time or bedtime.

5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

This one is a favorite for us just because it’s classic and it helps teach colors. Really, who doesn’t love Eric Carle?

Reading “Moo Baa La La La” – another great book!

And here are my tips for reading with a little kid!

1. Try and pick books that they can touch and play with without the fear of them getting wrecked. This is why I pick board books. Occasionally, I will read to him from nicer picture books, but I don’t want him to rip the pages of those, so not very often.

2. Read to them at a time when they are in a good mood and have all their needs met. I.e. if they are hungry, feed them before you read to them.

3. Don’t try and force them to sit there too much longer than their attention span. I just find that it’s better to read to him a little bit and maybe not finish the whole story, than force him and sit there and be crabby about it. I want reading to be a positive experience for him, so I try and gauge his interest level. Sometimes he just wants to be moving about and I know there will be downtime later where it would be a better time to read to him.

Tell me, what are you favorite books to read to your kids? Or, if you don’t have kids, what were your favorite books as a kid?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the link and buy the book, a small portion of the cost of your book will come back to me. Thanks for supporting me!

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“The Customer Is Always Right”

I want to talk a little bit today about being a customer. And I think what I’m going to say applies to most every industry where there are customers. Because you know you hear that slogan, “the customer is always right” but I think it’s gone too far. People in this day and age have become bad customers. I think it goes back to that mentality where they think they’re always right so then it doesn’t matter how they act, though that’s just a theory.

I’m not saying every customer is a bad customer. But I think you know the type. The person who won’t get off their cell phone to check out for just five minutes. The person who just complains about every single little thing and nothing is good enough. One time when I was working in a fast food restaurant, we had a guy come through with a very large order close to closing time and we were doing our best to get everything right and as quick as we possibly can and we forgot to include silverware in the bag and he came back and cussed us out for at least five minutes with f-bombs and everything. I mean, I realize we forgot his silverware but still, does it really merit that level of a response?

I guess what I’m just trying to say is that the people who are serving you, be it at a restaurant, a clothing store, the grocery store, Wal-mart, wherever they may be, they are people too. They deserve to be treated with a basic level of respect, of common courtesy, of just niceness. There is no need to be rude or vulgar or disrespectful to these people. It bothers me so much when I see people acting that way. Just because they are serving you doesn’t mean they are beneath you and deserve to be treated so poorly. As the old saying goes, it shows more about your character the way you treat the people below you than the way you treat your equals.

I guess I’ve just seen a lot of this poor behavior lately and needed to get this off of my chest. Please just treat other people with basic kindness and respect.

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Vocation (AKA What Is Your Calling?)

I was reading another blog post (as I am apt to do – I love exploring the vast internet) and what I was reading was just striking me just so, so I wanted to write about it. There are two parts from the article (found here) that really just struck me as I was reading it, so I’ll break it down and just talk about those two parts. It’s fun, the way I’ve been reading stuff lately and I just feel so inspired and fired up to write about it.

The first part is this:

The first is that Christian parents and certainly Christian churches need to teach students that God calls people to be more than full-time pastors or missionaries to Zimbabwe.

For the longest time when I was growing up, I thought I wanted to be a teacher (in a Lutheran school). I think, in part, because my dad used to be a teacher. The rest of the motivation I’m not sure that I remember, but it was what I answered when I was asked, “Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

And so when I realized that I no longer wanted to be a teacher, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to be, I struggled with it a lot. There was definitely an emphasis in the schools I went to that to serve God you must be a teacher or a pastor, that those were the superior ways to serve God. And don’t get me wrong, those are great ways to serve God. But they aren’t the only ways to serve God. Growing up, I know I heard the message that you can glorify God in all things, but I also heard the subtle message that the best way to do so was through being a teacher or a pastor (if you were a man).

In fact, even after I started college, I was still struggling with this fact. It actually took a conversation with a friend of mine, who is now a pastor (but who was just a seminary student at the time), on the way home from church to have it really set in the idea of the doctrine of vocation (which is how Martin Luther referred to it).

Basically, it’s the idea that God calls some to be teachers and pastors, yes, but God calls people to all walks and occupations in life. And it’s totally backed up in scripture (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-30). We need more than just pastors and teachers, we need the lay people of the church too. And understanding this, truly understanding this, blew my mind wide open. Because I had a heart that wanted to serve God but Satan was tricking me into believing that I couldn’t serve God right where I was at, that I needed special credentials to serve him. But that’s not true. I can serve Him right where I am. Being a stay at home mom, taking care of my household and raising my son, I am still an important part of the body of Christ. Just as important as a pastor or a teacher, just as the sense of hearing is as important as the sense of sight, theu’re just different.

Which kind of leads to the second part I wanted to highlight:

Christianity is not something that is compartmentalized when one is singing a worship song, having a quiet time or sharing a Four Spiritual Laws tract with a friend. Christianity is an entire worldview which impacts — and often transforms — every aspect of one’s life.

It goes without saying that if you realize that you in your everyday normal job realize this, you live your life differently. Because when you live your life to the glory of God, it looks different to the rest of the world. Suddenly you’re no longer showing up just to punch the clock at your nine to five job and get a paycheck. You’re showing up because your job with your gifts and talents is part of what God has set before you to do and by doing so, you are striving to glorify Him.

I was actually having a conversation sort of about this earlier. Because I was saying to someone, when you truly believe what the Bible says, you’re going to live it out, it’s going to impact your whole life. You don’t just show up once a week and punch your church card. No, you do your best to live it day in and day out, because Christianity isn’t some fad. It isn’t something you “do” on Sunday mornings. No, Christianity is your life. And yes, you will not live it perfectly all the time because we’re sinful human beings, which is why we need a Savior. But when you are trying to live for Him, it is different, and that’s a guarantee.

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When a Pro-Choicer Becomes Pro-Life

This is just a quick post and I know it’s an old story, but I love to read and share the stories of abortion workers who turn pro-life. I think it’s just so powerful to see someone who used to support and help with the performance of abortions to realize the error of their ways and change their views. I also think they’re valuable to read for two reasons. One, it helps us learn more about the real mentality of pro-choicers and of Planned Parenthood workers and etc. And two, because it can often provide insights about what techniques do and do not work in changing people’s hearts to be pro-life. So here’s a story for you to read about a former abortion worker who turned pro-life. Leave me your thoughts on it!

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“Show How Much You Care”

I wasn’t going to blog tonight to be honest. It’s late, I’m tired, I should probably be sleeping instead of blogging.

But I read something tonight. Something that I’ve read before a million times and I’m sure somewhere I thought about it in my head. I’m sure somewhere I must have processed it. But it never hit me until tonight how much it bothered me.

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard it too.

“Show how much you care” with x, y, or z product. Yes, because we’ve turned caring into commercialization. Praying on the guilt of people who just want to be good parents or spouses or siblings or children. Allowing others to check out because they’ve bought something for someone else so clearly they are showing they care. But buying someone more things doesn’t show them you care. It just shows them you have money. It just shows them you can buy stuff.

No amount of stuff can make up for never being around. Or for the hurtful words you said. Or for the time you screwed up. Because at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. And you certainly can’t take it with you when you die.

I’m not saying that gifts don’t have their time and their place, because they do, I’m just saying that it’s foolish to think that stuff would ever be as meaningful as real human interaction. I can tell you I have no idea what I got for most of my birthday presents when I was a kid. No idea. I’m sure I was really excited about it then, but it just wasn’t meaningful. Not that it wasn’t great stuff, but it was just that . . . stuff. But I can tell you I remember the trip to Six Flags, all the times we went camping, the family get togethers, cross stitching with my grandma. Because those – those are memories.

So the next time you want to show someone you care, why don’t you think about the ways you could not just buy them something and then check out, but think about the ways you could invest in their life? I will tell you that I will probably forget who got me what when Dominic was born, but I’ll never forget the two friends who brought me over a meal.

So take a walk with someone, invite them over for dinner, smile with them, laugh with them, cry with them, play with your children, make a memory. I can guarantee you that will show them you care a lot more than just about anything you can buy them.

P.S. Yes, I realize there are generally exceptions to the rule about gifts because sometimes gifts can be really meaningful like if you know someone loves a particular author and you go out of your way to get a copy of one of their books signed or a first edition or a signed first edition, but marketers slap that “show how much you care” on lots of things that are often very generic gifts that don’t require a particular amount of thought or effort.

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5 Months Update, Brainstorming, and Dreams of BlogHer

Wow, I can’t believe my little guy is five monts old already. It’s crazy how time flies! I saw a newborn at church yesterday and even though I know, logically, and I remember that Dom was once that small, he looks so much bigger and older in comparison! And it’s only been five months since then!

He can sit really well now. It takes a lot for him to fall over and I think a lot of the times that he falls over right now he does so on purpose so he can be on his belly or his back. He can scoot himself around in a circle while sitting. He is so close to crawling and so frustrated that he can’t yet. He can get up on his hands and knees at the same time, which is a new development. He loves to be upside down, silly monkey.

Don’t you just love this face?

Somedays I get weary. It is hard to be a mom. In fact, it is the hardest job I have ever had. But it is so, so worth it. Especially when he smiles at me like this. I just love it.

Does this suit make my head look small?

This is the new snow suit Oma got him. It’s a little long for him now, but by the time it snows, I’m sure it will fit him much better. We didn’t get any snow yesterday, but it was chilly, so I dressed him up in it before we went over to church.

I do not think this is how it works.

While he’s not on solid foods yet (at six months we will be doing baby led weaning, like I think I mentioned last time), if he is awake during meal times I sit him at the table with us and give him baby silverware to play with. I just had to take a picture of this yesterday because it was so cute and funny.

He’s interacting more and more every day with us and with his toys. It’s neat to see him discovering the world around him. You forget sometimes that all these things were new to you once too, because now as an adult they’re so common and every day, but to babies everything is new.

I think he’s teething (I think I said this last month too hehe) and I go back and forth about it like every day. Sometimes he acts like he is, sometimes he doesn’t. I think that maybe I will just say it all the time he’s unusually fussy (he’s generally a happy baby) and eventually I have to be right.

With Nick’s blessing, I am attempting to brainstorm ways I can make money from home. I’d really like to at least help out as long as Dominic remains my first priority and as long as Nick is okay with it. So now that I have his blessing, I am trying to think of things I can do. I have decided that soon I will babysit again, like I used to, and I’m actually kind of excited about that and looking forward to it. I think Dom will really enjoy too having other kids to play with. I thought for a bit about doing direct sales (think things like Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, etc, etc) but I briefly dabbled in that in college and found that it didn’t really work for me. I have an easier time selling to strangers than to people I know. Isn’t that funny? I think it’s because when I’m selling to friends and family I usually know a little bit more about their financial situation than I do with a stranger. So does anyone else have any ideas for me? I’m open to hearing all suggestions. I’m not particularly crafty so I’m not sure if there’s something I can make. So I’m open to hearing any and all ideas – so go for it!

Also, lastly, part of the other reason why I’d love to earn some extra money on the side is that I really, really want to go to BlogHer. I’ve been dreaming of going for the past couple of years (at least 3), but something (usually finances though this past summer it was having a teeny tiny baby) kept me from going. This year it’s in Chicago so it feels super attainable and Dom will be a little older by then so maybe I could get my sister to come down and visit us to babysit him (and maybe I can get her to guest post too). I don’t know if it’s a smart financial decision though or if I should go, but it’s my dream, so I’m just putting that out there. I’ve been really working hard on blogging regularly and I think it’s falling into place for me. My next step is to go self-hosted someday. So hopefully I’ll be able to do that.

Anyways, leave your thoughts for me in the comments!

Melissa

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Super Bean Burrito Review!

All right, time for another recipe review. Bonus, this one’s vegetarian!

Today I reviewed the super bean burritos from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

Changes I made: I took out the jalapeños (I haven’t been able to eat things that are too spicy since before I was pregnant and I am also super, super paranoid that I’ll handle a hot pepper like that and accidentally touch my eyes – I know, I’m weird), I used already minced dried garlic (someday I hope to get a garlic press but for now, I’ll have to stick with the stuff in the jar), I only used half the green onions called for because Nick has told me before that he’s not a fan (though I love them, so I left some in), and I used cheddar cheese instead of Monterey Jack (I actually love Monterey Jack cheese but I had some cheddar cheese already opened so I wanted to use that up first).

The verdict? I really liked them. They were quite tasty. I had to talk Nick into them though because he’s like “I don’t really like beans” but even he said they were “not bad.” I would mash the pinto beans a little bit more next time (I only half heartedly mashed them this time) and I’d like to try fresh garlic, but other than that, I loved them.

There was only one problem with them, in fact. Maybe you can tell from this picture.

I was so hungry I started eating it before I remembered I wanted a picture – oops!

Apparently, I can not roll burritos. I tried rolling it just like it said in the instructions and I just could not get it. All the filling kept oozing out so eventually I gave up and just ate it like it was a taco. Still tasted good! And I was going to try freezing them, but because I couldn’t get them rolled up like burritos should be, I gave up on that and just put the leftovers, unrolled, in the fridge. That will make some good lunches for me this week.

So, leave me a comment below and tell me your best burrito rolling tips and tricks! I want to try again! Because I will make this again!

PS, I am trying to convince my sister that she should blog but she’s nervous because she’s never blogged before so I told her she could guest blog for me to try it out and see if she likes it (I think she would). But she’s not sure about that! Leave her an encouraging comment below and let’s see if we can get her to guest post!

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