Winter Workouts and Gear

“First, I have noticed that your family is into fitness, and I was wondering when the weather turns cold and snowing/raining, what do you do for cardio? Also, what are some of the things that you might wear in order to stay warm and dry?” A blog reader

This is a great question. We’ve had a lot of snow and ice this winter. It is true that we love to exercise, and just because it’s winter, well, that doesn’t stop us.

While we do most of our cardio workouts in our home gym, we still walk outside, and we girls also try for a weekly run. For walking, we like down coats, especially Eddie Bauer. They have different options of warmth and length available. My personal favorite I wear a ton is the Cirruslite Down Jacket. Jesse loves his North Face down jacket.

All three girls are wearing EddieBauer down jackets.
Jesse wearing a North Face down jacket while hiking. We’ve found down to be perfect for hiking too!

Under Armour Base Layer is another blessing. They come in varying levels, but their 3.0 and 4.0s are perfect for winter. Running gear we prefer to layer because down coats are too bulky and hot. Under Armour’s ColdGear turtleneck is one of my favorite options.

Under Armour ColdGear turtlenecks

If it is icy, YakTraxs are an option to wear over a running or walking shoe. They are a little hassle to put on, though. YakTraxs seriously make it possible to walk in otherwise impossible slippery conditions.

We’ve also found hiking shoes have more traction than normal running shoes, so if it’s slightly icy, but not enough to call for YakTraxs, those are a great option.

That being said, we’ve had so much ice this winter, that Dad and Mom have erred on the side of caution and not done as much walking. Instead, they’ll do a home workout, using the treadmill and the stairs. Then, they’ll finish out with a kettlebell workout.

Dad wearing an UnderArmour jacket and Mom wearing a Columbia coat. She’s since received (for Christmas!) a CirrusLite Eddie Bauer jacket mentioned above and loves it.

I hope some of these ideas help you to brave the winter weather!

Love,
Sarah

“For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth;
likewise to the small rain, and to the
great rain of his strength.” Job 37:6

The Power of a Homeschool Schedule

Last week I spent a morning homeschooling some of my grandchildren while Melanie took a child to a doctor’s appointment in Kansas City. You know what? It wasn’t hard because Melanie has a solid homeschool schedule in place. All I needed to do was consult the schedule posted on the refrigerator, and then follow it. The children are used to the schedule, so they know what they are to do as well. They had even figured out how to compensate for the child who was gone for the doctor’s appointment and wouldn’t be there for her 1/2 hour playtime with Andrew and Benjamin!

Each child’s school morning is structured and interesting. The power of a schedule during our homeschooling years was vital for our success, and now it is blessing my grandchildren’s lives with productivity, direction, and peace (although I know it isn’t always peaceful with little children).

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Such a cute trio
This little guy is almost 2!
Drew reading to me

“Children’s children are the crown of old men;
and the glory of children are their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6

Axton Maxwell’s Newborn Pictures

Eight days after Axton was born, we decided spur of the moment to do his newborn session. I borrowed some props from Christopher and headed to John’s. Upon arrival, I literally Googled something about newborn baby photos natural light, had about two minutes to try to figure out what I wanted to start with, and set to work.

We started photos about 2:30 and ended two hours later. The day was pretty perfect for light, with a cloud cover quite a bit. Babies are so sweet to work with, and Axton did great. I’ll share through the post what I used for location and background.

I use a Nikon D800 and most of these pictures were with my Tamron f2.8 28-75mm lens. I took some with Nikon f1.4 50mm lens. I did not use a flash.

Oh, and John cranked the heat way up in the house, so it was pretty toasty warm: perfect for Axton and pretty warm for the rest of us.

Not quite a happy face yet, but we were just starting.

I began in the dining room, using pillows and a blanket for my background, and put him in a cute little sack. His bright eyes lent the perfect sparkle to the photos.

Next, we went to the nursery. The gray wall was an ideal backdrop. The south window let just enough light in through the curtains.

So I began experimenting. Doing some pictures with Baby and Mommy.

I used a chair or stool for height and worked to get some family pictures and stay with a clear focus in the tight space. Don’t you love how those teal greens worked together?

What a cute threesome!

Next, we needed some pictures of Daddy and Son.

I love those eyes: so trusting, looking to his daddy.

In the midst of that, I wanted a ring pose, and I tried a little different twist.

I originally wanted to try the black shirt so I could do the strong arm holding-baby-out photo. Although it didn’t turn out the way I had thought, the black shirt brought a dramatic look with the gray background, and I loved the result.

Next, we moved to the living room. As I set up for the basket photo, Dad and Mom went by on a walk, and John flagged them down and invited them in. It was great to have some company for the last part of our photo session.

For the black backdrop, I used two dining room chairs and clipped a black blanket on it. We swaddled Axton in the wrap, and then I put the gray blanket on the ground. We had a perfect amount of light coming in from the windows. For the family picture (see the last one), Dad and Mom held the blanket out because I needed the extra width to keep the background black.

An adorable package
Axton Maxwell
Axton Maxwell
The John Maxwell Family

I hope you enjoyed a peek into the newborn baby session!

Love,
Sarah

“By thee have I been holden up from the womb:
thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels:
my praise shall be continually of thee.”
Psalm 71:6

Grandpa and Grandma’s Christmas Gifts

Mom and Dad gave a very sweet practical gift to Abby, Betsy, and Tina for Christmas: Hobby Lobby gift cards. But it had an extra perk. Included with the gift cards was a shopping trip to spend them with Mom and Anna and Mary plus lunch out. Each girl picked out what they wanted to spend their money on.

Love,
Sarah

Mom and Abby
Anna and Bethany
Bethany and Mary

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart,
so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:
for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7

God Loves Us So Much

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 1 John 3:1

He loves us so much we are called His children, if we have accepted Him (read 1 John).

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

He loved us so much, He gave His Son, His most precious possession, for us. When we did not love Him!

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:6

He loves us so much He gives us undeserved mercy. It comes with a call for obedience.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19

He loves us so much He chastens us to bring Him back to himself.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11

He loves us so much He gives us good gifts.

Good gifts: sisters Mary and Anna take in the beauty of God’s Creation

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. — John 14:23

He loves His children so much, He has promised a home in Heaven.

The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. — Deuteronomy 7:7-8

He loves us so much. Please show someone you love an expression of God’s love today!

Random Life from New Beginnings to God’s Mercies

These past weeks have flown by, and now we’re almost to mid-February! The last Random Life closed out the old year, so I’ll catch you up on the events so far.

  • Lots of colds and flu. Yep. All the Maxwell families had some kind of bug during the month of January, but it just makes one all the more grateful for good health! It was a happy reunion yesterday when everyone gathered back together for Sunday lunch and fellowship!
  • I began brainstorming Finding Change’s sequel. I’m thrilled with the ideas that are forming!
  • We celebrated 2500 blog posts! We loved your enthusiasm and support!
  • Axton John Maxwell made his appearance, and everyone is so happy to have another little one around. He’s in high demand!
  • Samaritan Ministries highlighted Titus2 and our family in their January newsletter. We love their ministry. In fact, John just shared when he called to tell them about the additional expense of Axton’s hospital birth (they had planned on the homebirth), the first question the Samaritan Ministries’ guy asked was if Chelsy and Axton were okay. Again, it shows the heart of that ministry!
  • We’re grateful for the Lord’s provision through work. Yes, it provides busy and sometimes crazy days!

Enjoy a peek into our lives.

Love,
Sarah

Nathan and Bethany
A sweet perk of working at home allows one to grab some fresh air when needed. This sunset Ellie and I enjoyed was stunning!
Friends from church — we had a great time with them on New Year’s
Most of us attended a mutual friend’s wedding. Here’s a photo from the reception.
Benji is my little buddy
Dad taking advantage of a warmer day with a fix-it project.
We’ve had quite the weather swings. From 60 to -5. All in January.
These three (isn’t Benjamin growing up so much?)
A quick errand with nieces
Anna at Bible club–one of the moms braided an extension into Anna’s hair. Really sweet!
Mary teaching Bethany some things about painting.
“Was this your chair?!”
Anna Marie and kiddos surprised Christopher with these snow people.
Christopher and his kids with some cousins.
Celebrating John’s birthday
John and Chelsy invited us over for more birthday celebrating that evening.
These two
Lunch with a friend
Spending sweet time with my sisters on my birthday!
My birthday dinner.
I received some really thoughtful gifts!
Meeting Baby Axton
Axton’s baby sign
Babysitting times have kicked up again.
Mary is a pro at homemade pizza.
Axton made his first appearance at a family event at just 8 days old.
Daddy kiddo time.
How cute is the hands-in-pockets-suspender-thing?
More babysitting
This melts me. One afternoon, at the girls’ Bible club, this little fellow was teaching the little girl to ride a bike. He’d had experience teaching his sister.
Ice sledding on Grandpa’s driveway.
Anna organizing–but Ellie wasn’t so sure when it came to her things.
The other night, GiGi, Jesse, Anna, Mary, and I went out for dinner. The first time for this particular group. We had a great time!
So much happy noise and chatter yesterday when everyone was over!

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

The Maxwell family and ministry blog of Titus2.com.