Category Archives: Hidden Valley Thoughts

The Juggling Act: Working, Dieting and Exercising

To follow up on my previous post about the most neglected aspects of being a mom, I want now shift the spotlight to juggling the aspects once the neglect is overcome.

What do I think about the juggling act of activities in a woman’s daily life? Some women may think it’s a work of fiction, but I think otherwise. As human beings, it’s embedded in our nature that we find excuses for the things that we think we don’t have time for; just like diet and exercise. It became particularly hard to excuse after I started breastfeeding. My nipples were sore and the bras I was buying to counter the issue were not working. I ended up attempting to hunt down the best bottles for breastfeeding and this freed me up for more exercise time.


When pregnant, it’s really about finding the right kinds of food to eat and keeping everything that I put in my mouth in moderation, especially since I breastfeed my child. During these days, I get to eat my favourite food guilt-free!

When I get the writer’s block in the middle of work, I often take a break and use the time to work out instead. Did you know that Youtube is a great source to find free workouts? I find myself saving the ones that I want to do next. Oh yes, this can become very addictive especially since it allows me to be the boss of my own time. My favorite ones are the ones that I can do right at the convenience of my very own home. Using weights can really help, too, since they’re inexpensive and help build and tone muscles. I’m not really conscious about the numbers. Just as long as I’m fit and healthy, I’m happy with myself.

The Most Neglected Aspect of Being a Mom

lovehandleBeing a mother for the first time is really exciting. Taking care of another human being can be really challenging at times, but it’s fun! However, you devote so much time to your newborn that you don’t have much time for yourself. Or if you do, you’d rather spend it sleeping to compensate for those early morning wake up calls. As time progresses, you get a little bit of time back for yourself.

One of the things I was guilty of neglecting was my sexy figure. Oh yes, before I became pregnant I led an active lifestyle like yoga and swimming. Now that I have more time on my hands, I need to make a promise this year that I’ll try out new activities or get into a routine that will allow me to exercise all my worries away. Since I gave birth, I still have all this excess weight to shed off. The good thing is my husband is really supportive of me gaining back that active lifestyle and has even offered to join me in the journey of getting back into shape. I want to gain that sense of myself and hold onto what makes me, me.

I do have to admit that it is a little difficult to incorporate exercise into my life since the nearest gym is about an hour away. What I’ve done now is that I’ve bought a couple of weights, a kettlebell and a fitbit. I’ve looked up simple workouts on Youtube and sneak in a few sessions within the day when the baby’s asleep. I’ve heard working with a personal trainer can really do wonders and so I’m thinking of doing that so that I won’t have to go to the gym and leave my son for a period of time.


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To give the year a word, as some do, this is mine.


1. The act or an instance of chasing or pursuing.
2. The act of striving: the pursuit of higher education.
3. An activity, such as a vocation or hobby, engaged in regularly.

Pursuing health of surrendered, passionate love.

A constant activity, for the moment apathy slips in, the return to the pursuit is a thousand times more difficult than the beginning steps. Constant, purposeful mindfulness of that which is in front, the desires of my heart which really, have flowed from the desires of His heart and been revealed in quiet moments with Him.

Allow the world to take over and vision becomes tainted. With the taint comes forgetfulness and with forgetfulness comes reverting back to that which we long to flee and abandon. Those things that make us shudder and weep at how it fails those around us and the One we long to love with our whole heart.

Striving to obtain, yet realizing there is only so much within my own power. The ultimate realization comes when I lean into His grace and rely upon His enabling. Letting the life of The Vine course through this weak branch, that should it be cut off, would have nothing within.

Pursuit is for that which is beyond reach but not impossible to grasp. Not if His hands meet us in our reaching and bridge the gap we are unable to cross in our own power. There is complete reliance on Him to complete the pursuit because of ourselves, we simply can not.

What wonder!

The pursuit is not dependent upon my strength alone but instead, dependent upon my weakness. It is my weakness that brings me strength. The less I am, the more He is. The more He is, the closer to the desired treasure of the soul because I am carried there within His enabling. Carried, even as I  also make the action to advance in the process. Because that is the freedom of choice He has given me.

We choose, but choice does not mean exhausted striving. Choice is accepting all that has been offered for the pursuit that He has called us to. Not the pursuit we create for ourselves.

The pursuit is also relationship. It is the relationship that brings us to that which we reach for. We reach for Him even as He enables us to do so. For the process of the pursuit and the end of the pursuit and yes, the beginning too, is found in Him. Without Him the pursuit would not exist, neither does it find completion.

He, then, is the pursuit.


How to get Approx $25 in Amazon Gift Cards Monthly with Swagbucks

Here is a screen shot of some of the Amazon gift cards I’ve redeemed over the past year with Swagbucks


It goes back to April and it’s $75. This is before I learned how to make a lot more Swagbucks than I was.

Swagbucks has much, much more to redeem than just Amazon cards, but as an avid reader and a Mama who uses Amazon constantly for kid’s toys and books, the Amazon gift cards are what I redeem regularly.

Around December I figured out a system that now averages me $25 in Amazon gift cards a month. A system that does not even include trade-ins, videos, playing  Swagbuck games, and  Swagbuck codes, which are other ways people add up.

Since I can’t be on the internet constantly, I had to come up with a plan that worked for the time I do have to get on the internet. And this is what I came up with.

I think it’s pretty streamlined and takes 15-60 minutes a day. Minutes I try not to take unless my children are in bed or playing happily. No amount of Amazon gift cards is worth neglecting my children!

So what’s my new system?

You can either watch this video, in which I take it step-by-step as I do daily or you can go down through the written list below.

NOTE: Someone has remarked that I say “swOgbucks” instead of “swAgbucks”. It is pronounced “SwAg”, I guess I just pronounce it with a long “a” instead. You know. . . like “crEEk” versus “crIk”. 😀

2. I use that toolbar for everything. If I go to log into blogger, I “search” for blogger through the  Swagbucks toolbar. I search for my Facebook login page through the toolbar. I don’t use my favorites links or my cookies that automatically recognize where I’m going. I always, always get to sites through the Swagbucks tookbar. This usually yields 2 to 3 Swagbucks wins a day.

The next daily tasks I will show you a screen shot for:


Do you see the menu on the left? That is how I make my other Swagbucks.

3. I do the NOSO daily. No Obligation Special Offers. You simply look at opportunities and then click “skip” to get to the next one. After 5-7 you’ve earned 2  Swagbucks, simply for looking at them.

4. Do the daily poll for another 1  Swagbuck daily.

5. Trusted surveys give me the most  Swagbucks. Some days I can get up to 300  Swagbucks, other days I get disqualified for every one I attempt. For every 5 disqualified ones (also known as DQ’d) I get 1 Swagbuck. They are worth going through daily. You can at least get 50  Swagbucks almost daily from a survey.

6. Coupons. I select and print the coupons I can use and redeem them at the checkout. I not only save my family money, I get 10 Swagbucks for every coupon I redeem. Double score!

7.  Swagbuck TV. For every 10 videos I watch, I get 3  Swagbucks. They are anywhere from 1/2 a minute to 5 minutes. I usually do this while folding loads of laundry and/or cooking meals (thanks to a laptop) I just keep clicking through to the next video to earn my Swagbucks, all while doing my mindless task at hand.
My daughter also LOVES cooking shows, so I can earn  Swagbucks just by letting her watch a few cooking videos. 🙂

8. I also Tweet and Facebook my wins as well as whenever I redeem for a gift card. This makes people curious, they click through, and sometimes, they sign up under me. Which I hope, you want to do after reading this. 😉 There are Swagbucks for every person who signs up under you and you are matched to what they win, up to their first 1000. The more referrals you have, the more Swagbucks you can earn as they earn theirs.

Happy Swagging!

PS—Here’s a trick. The $5 Amazon gift card takes less Swagbucks than the $50 giftcard does when it is tallied up. In other words, the overall bang for your buck is better with the smaller redemptions. 

As soon as you redeem, you can to to “Your Account” on Amazon and then click under “Gift Cards” and apply your gift card code immediately to your account. This balance with Amazon will never expire and it will be an option at check out on whether or not you want to use it for your purchase. 🙂

* Hidden Valley Thoughts Meme – Archives*

***For more on “Hidden Valley Thoughts”, see below the archive list***
Toys Underfoot

Nobody Listens to Me!

About Hidden Valley Thoughts:

As a career woman, turned stay-at-home-mom, I have learned what it means to live in a hidden valley.

Moms live in a hidden valley day after day, completing tasks that will never be recognized but always taken for granted, putting in longer days than even the most ambitious career woman, and playing more roles than a well paid movie actress.

They wake up each morning, longing to write that book, open that art gallery, record the music CD, start that exercise studio, and then fall into bed each night, too exhausted to pursue those dreams.

There are tears that no one sees, laughter that no one hears, and lessons that few people ever hear about.

Once a week, those who want to share a particular lesson or incident that took place in their Hidden Valley, can do so. It may be something God taught you, a moment of letting your kids play in the mud as you realize a little dirt doesn’t hurt anybody, or a video that stuck a chord in your soul. Whatever it is, if it touched you, share it with us!

Steps for participating in our blog carnivals:

1. Create the particular post that matches up with the meme we’re doing.

2. Post the button that matches, on your post somewhere

3. Come back here and leave a comment with the post URL (please leave the url to the actual post, not your main blog url)

4. Visit each other!

Happy Blogging!