Thursday, November 7, 2013
Sometimes I just don't want to do anything. Can you relate? Sometimes I would rather drink a cup of awesome coffee and browse through Pinterest than do whatever housekeeping items need to be done. Sometimes, I am just tired. I'm married to a night owl:we both like to see the sun rising, but he likes to stay up for it, while I like to wake up for it. So, if I have stayed up with the Rev too late at night, I can feel that lack of motivation pretty strongly. He may be able to run on 3 hrs of sleep, but I'm pretty much worthless if I try it. ;)
I really feel pretty strongly that it is not just my job, but my calling to make a comfortable home for my family. I really do want to make a cozy place for us to do life, not just for us, but for anyone who might stop by. So, what to do? Just pull myself up and get to it, right? Well, that might work some days, but other days I need a little more motivation. Here are a few things that I do to help myself out.
1. Make a Wish List
I don't make To-Do lists. I never accomplish everything on them and then I feel like I failed. I make wish lists. I write down everything I am hoping to get done to make my home comfortable and my week easier. I put down the most pressing things first, and then I expand to things that would be nice to get done if I can. So my wish list might look something like this:
*Put Beef Roast in the Crockpot
*Wash load of jeans
*wash load with underwear and socks
*make weekly meal plan
*make skinny chocolate with the kids
See? Clearly, the underwear is way more important than the Chocolate, so I would put that higher up on my wish list. I know, some of us may have a hard time deciding that is true, but I don't think the Rev would be consoled with chocolate if he had no clean underwear to wear to work. Can I get an amen? So, there you go.
2. Get some help
My kids have their own little jobs at our house. Big girl is awesome at folding towels and putting them away in the linen closet, while Little Girl excels at putting away the clean silverware from dishwasher tray. Both kids can collect wash and help me load the washer, and they actually race to be the helper to switch the load from the washer to the dryer. I'm sure this will not last forever, but for now, they are great helpers. Whatever the age of your kids, let them help. It's not just good for you to have help, but it is good for them to help. They will love the praise for handling the responsibility well. I promise. Give it a try. :)
3. Set a timer
Set a timer for 10 minutes. Just do one of your tasks for 10 minutes. If you still don't want to tackle it after the ten minutes, fine. But most likely, once you are up and doing it, you will just keep on going.
4. Light a Candle
I'm not talking in a Catholic-like-light-it-and-say-a-prayer-for-help kind of way, although if that helps you, go right ahead. I am talking about lighting a candle for the sheer beauty of it. This is my favorite motivator. While I am notoriously cheap about nearly everything, I make an exception for my house candles. I watch for sales and then stock up on a few really good Yankee Candle Jar candles. Like right now they are having a buy 2 get 2 free sale with free shipping. That's a good deal! But I digress. Anyway, I buy good quality candles because of how motivating they can be. In my mind, I feel that it is a waste to light a great candle like that if my house is a wreck. Think about it: why bother making your house smell lovely if it is messy? Why light a pretty candle and set it on a stovetop you haven't wiped up after breakfast? (oh, don't judge. You know you've put it off at least once, too :) haha) I have this drive to make my house worthy of my fancy candles. That may be some weird neurosis on my part, but I think you might find it the same if you give it a try.
5. Remind yourself why you do it
I do it for the Rev, yes, but that is not the main reason. While I do love to have him come home to a clean and cozy home, and to bless him that way, I really need to do it because God has called me to do it, and I need to glorify Him in my calling. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." More important than the approval of my husband and children, or even people who might drop by, is the approval of the Lord. I'm not saying God is going to smite me for not wiping the counters or vacuuming up after lunch. No, He is far more interested in the attitude of my heart. If the reason I didn't wipe up or vacuum is because I was being selfish or lazy, I wasn't glorifying God in my heart. But if the reason is because my child has the sniffles and needs some extra snuggles with Mama, then it wasn't a heart issue. Clear as mud?
After all this, I want to remind you gently to make sure you are showing yourself some grace. Have realistic standards and expectations of yourself and your household. There are seasons in life where you have more to do than time in which to do it. The season with children in it is one of those seasons. Strive to be tidy, but don't expect perfection. You will not attain it, and you won't be any fun to live with if you try. Just do it as well as you can, just like you try to do everything else you do the best you can. It's all about balance. How do you motivate yourself to get things done? How do you keep things balanced in your home? I'd love to hear from you.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I posted my weekly calendar of meals yesterday, and if you read it, you probably wondered if I feed my kids THM food or if they get something different. The answer is, "Yes." :)
My kids mostly eat what we eat, but I occasionally give them something different. I have been known to give them a cookie or a scoop of frozen yogurt after dinner, or goldfish crackers for snack. But most of the time, they get healthy food and can actually make fairly good choices already.
On days that I make eggs for breakfast, they get eggs, too. They might also get a piece of wheat toast with homemade sugar-free strawberry chia jam on it. They love it! On days that I have a shake, they usually have a banana, kefir, and a bowl of cereal. It will be something like Cheerios or homemade oatmeal, not something dyed, sugary, and cartoon-like in any way. Little Girl also usually comes after my shake. She thinks its pretty great. :)
For snacks they get a variety of things. They enjoy yogurt, apples, pears, mandarin oranges, plums, berries, nuts, cheese cubes, wasa crackers and laughing cow cheese, CLIF kids bars (once in awhile), and goldfish crackers (once in awhile). As I write, they are enjoying carrots and broccoli. They love cut veggies, but not with dip. They reject all kinds of dip for some reason. I'm okay with that.
Lunches are often different from what the Rev and I are eating. The kids get sick of salad, soup, and leftovers, so when I eat those I give them something else. They do like sandwiches, so if we have a sandwich, they do too. Some of their lunches will be breaded chicken breast "nuggets" and a vegetable, or Peanut Butter and homemade jam on wheat with fruit. They really love it when they get to make their own personal pizzas. They do this on a whole grain pita, with tomato paste, mozzarella, spices, and pepperoni. They'll also have cut veggies with it.
Dinners are always the same for everyone. The kids eat it happily most of the time, but if they are unhappy about it for any reason, we gently remind them that they will eat it for breakfast if they don't eat it at supper. But they usually like it enough to just scarf it up anyway. ;)
As far as beverages go, they mostly drink water. When the kids were little they would drink water with a splash of juice in it, but as I learned how bad the sugar was for them, I started weaning them off of it. The only time they ever have juice is if someone gives it to them at the church potluck, which happens sometimes, but life is for living, so I am not going to get freaked out by it. They like water: ice water, bubbly (seltzer) water, whatever. It's wet, they like it. They also like to sip off of my GGMS (which means Good Girl MoonShine, and is NOT an alcholic beverage, but rather a ACV and Ginger drink that I whip up in the morning). They also like Almond Milk and Kefir, which is a lacto-fermented dairy beverage. That sounds weird, so we'll just refer to it as yogurt drink. It's yummy, has good bacteria in it like yogurt, is lactose free so it is gentle on their tummy, and has great protein and calcium. You can find it in the dairy section of your grocery store.
That's pretty much it. I don't give them much sugar in general, but I also don't freak out if they have some. Someone usually slips them a donut at church on Sunday, and that's okay. Their little metabolisms can handle it. Every parent has to decide what is best for their kids. Some people feed their kids entirely homemade food made from sprouted grain and fruit and veggies they grew in their terrace garden. Other people feed them spaghettios. There is a whole range in between there, and only you can choose where to fall on it. I'm just telling what is typical for our family right now. Feel free to share what your kids eat!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
As I mentioned the other day, I am totally freaking out about awesome Trim Healthy Mama is. It's truly life-changing. If you haven't gone and bought the book yet, hurry up and get to it! I think I heard something about Amazon being back ordered right now (because the book is so awesome!), but I am pretty sure you can get it from Barnes and Noble, too. I know they can order it for you. Just helping you out there. ;)
I function best with a meal plan and it helps keep me on budget, so I make a monthly overview of dinners, and a weekly plan with meals and snacks all spelled out. I am going to share the weekly plan with you. Keep in mind that, in order to avoid being in my kitchen any longer than necessary, I prep some of the ingredients for these meals ahead of time. The MIM (aka the muffin in a mug) is so yummy, and I often get a hankering for it. I prepped the dry ingredients for a dozen muffins in individual sized snack bags, and put those in my fridge. All I have to do for those is take the ingredient bag out whip it up with the 3 wet ingredients and zap that sucker in the microwave. Awesomeness. Same for the FSF (aka Fat Stripping Frappa): so delicious that I must indulge often. So I prepped the dry ingredients for that ahead too and keep it in my pantry. I highly recommend prepping ahead as much as you can, but I keep my menu pretty easy anyway, so don't be afraid if you don't want to prep.
Coffee with 1/2 & 1/2 and bullet proof coffee made with MCT oil (S)
(we wake up running on Sunday's since the Rev and I have to be at church so early for our various responsibilities. We're pretty lucky we get the coffee, actually. :) The kids get Kefir, a banana, and a kids CLIF bar. They always get a nice snack from the fellowship hall and in their class, so this doesn't bother me too much. If this bugs you, just think happy thoughts and pretend you didn't see it.)
Sandwich on plan approved bread, pickle spear, and an apple (E)
Chocolate MIM with homemade whipped cream and coffee (S)
Leftover baked chicken, sliced carrots with ginger and nutmeg, and brown rice (E)
(I'm pretty tired on Sunday, so I make double the food the night before. We sit down to a good meal of leftovers, and I don't have to knock myself out too much.)
2 eggs and 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites scrambled up with frozen peppers and onions and turkey sausage in either coconut oil or butter. Fresh Raspberries on the side (S)
Small salad and a Peanut butter chocolate FSF (FP) (This remains a FP because I use defatted peanut butter)
Two light rye wasa crackers with 1 light french onion laughing cow cheese wedge on them, and a cup of Earl Grey Tea
Turkey Burgers seasoned with Mrs Dash and baked, a pickle spear, and homemade (sugar-free) broccoli slaw. (S)
(If you absolutely must have a bun, there is a recipe for one in the book, or you could use a josephs pita. I am not that inclined toward buns, so I either eat it with a fork or with two lettuce leaves.
Coffee and a FP Smoothie. Either a FSF or a BBS (you'll understand that if you buy the book. See? you need it :) ) (FP)
Lunch: Crispy Salmon (pg 283) over salad with Balsamic vinegar (this is so delicious, I am sad when it's gone. For real) (S)
Snack: Pumpkin Pie Cake (FP) This recipe is on Pinterest
Dinner: Slow Cooker Beef Roast and steamed broccoli florets (S)
2 eggs and 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites scrambled up with frozen peppers and onions and turkey sausage in either coconut oil or butter. Fresh Raspberries on the side (S)
Lunch: Buffalo Chicken on Salad with Kens ranch. (S) (I use canned chicken breast in this recipe. Heat up Franks red hot sauce and a little butter and parmesan cheese) and then add in the canned chicken breast. Heat and put on your salad. Easy)
Snack: FSF (FP)
Dinner: Parmesan crusted chicken, spinach quinoa, and green beans (S)
Breakfast: Coffee and a FP Smoothie
Lunch: Just like Campbell's Tomato Soup (in the book!!) and grilled cheese on pita or lavash (there is an approved brand that fits in with THM) (S)
Snack: Coffee and Skinny Chocolate (S)
Dinner: Freezer "E" burritos (pinterest)
2 eggs and 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites scrambled up with frozen peppers and onions and turkey bacon in either coconut oil or (S)butter
Lunch: Crispy Salmon on Salad (SO SO YUMMY!) (S)
Dinner: Speedy Crust Pepperoni Pizza and Salad (S)
Breakfast: Chili Rellenos and raspberries (S)
Lunch: Lettuce Wraps (E)
Snack: Wasa Crackers and Light Laughing Cow Cheese (E)
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Brown Rice: and Steamed Carrots (E)
Dessert: Baked Apple
Friday, November 1, 2013
Dawn arrived this morning and brought with it a new month. November: I'll admit, it is my favorite month. It isn't just because fall is in full swing in most of the country, or because there is a holiday with turkey, pie, and a pretty cool parade. It isn't even because my birthday falls in November. The reason I love November so much is that it is designed to be a season of thankfulness.
Sandwiched snugly between two months where people are focused intently on what they will be getting, November has the potential to be a haven of rest from the wild lunacy of commercialism. It falls after the mad scramble for costumes and candy, and before the mad-dash for the best deals on gifts for Christmas. Like footsteps on a carpet of fallen leaves: soft, quiet, beautiful. It is a perfect time for reflection and thought.
We often rush in life: we run from place to place, trying to get everything done. We are so busy looking ahead, at we need to do, or want to do that we can easily overlook where we are right now. We neglect to slow down and reflect on the blessings in our life. The most common thing we neglect is the wonderful people in our lives. We assume they know we care about them, and we assume that there will be time to show them tomorrow. But what happens when those tomorrows are ripped away?
I lost a loved one this summer. My cousin was exactly one month older than me, and she was my very first friend, but we allowed time and distance to grow us apart. It is never easy to lose a family member, and it is an especially awful pain to lose one so young, but there is an extra sting in it when you know you could have loved them better. Grief is a great magnifier of regret. It shows you so clearly what you could have and should have done better. It is too late for me to tell her that I loved her. I can't go back and take those missed chances.
What I can do, though, is take the time now to love and appreciate those around me; to be thankful for these great blessings. I can be thankful, even in my grief, that I knew my cousin and that she was so very loved by others. I can be thankful for her daughter, who is her exact miniature . I can be thankful for the lesson learned in her passing, though I wish it had not come. I can slow down and look at my sweet children, growing bigger every day, and my husband and family and friends, and appreciate who they are and the richness they have brought to my life. I can view my life through a lens of thankfulness and thanksgiving, thanking God for all He has done and all He has provided.
So, for the month of November, I won't just be celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving, I will be living a life of thanksgiving. I would like to challenge you, too. Take the opportunity to put aside the rush and fuss of life, and the temptation to barrel into the holiday season, and just love where you are and those around you. Try to close out the distractions of life, and really focus on being thankful for what you already have and those you share it with. At the end of the month, I predict we won't want to stop. Oh, how different the holidays would look then.
Love to you all.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Halloween.. Harvest fun dress up and eat candy day?
Oh....Halloween. To celebrate, or not to celebrate. That is the question. Or is it? I think the real question, about Halloween and really everything, is to glorify God, or not glorify God?
Candy is not, apart from the terrible amount of sugar, evil. Costumes, in general, are not evil. Pumpkins with little toothy grins are not evil. Dressing up and being festive with our neighbors is not, necessarily, evil. But, oh how quickly those things can be corrupted. Zombies, ghosts, witches, vampires, murderers, psycho possessed dolls that give you nightmares for years...not so good. Halloween is one of those events that can very quickly escalate into tolerating (if not celebrating) things that do not glorify God.
The line is so easily blurred on this. On one hand, we tell ourselves that we aren't really celebrating the bad part of Halloween. It's just fun to dress up and get candy on a night where everyone else is doing it, too. It's so cute to see little kids dressed up as pumpkins, and monkeys, and princesses. But on the other hand, we have to ask ourselves how going out among people who ARE glorifying demons, and satan, and characters that directly oppose everything God is and stands for and just letting it all slide for our own fun is good? Is there really such a thing as a neutral activity? Doesn't everything we do say something about who we are and what we believe in?
But what if we used this night as an opportunity? What if you dressed up in character to be able to open the door to make a difference? It could be a tract, but it could also just be having a great conversation with someone about what the Lord has done in your life. I guess what I am saying is, take an honest look at your priorities. Do you (and your desire for fun and free candy) come first, or does glorifying God come first? You need to talk to Him about how that looks. I'm not going to do that for you.
As for us, two little princesses will be handing out candy at our church booth at the town Safewalk. We have decided that our family is going to make the most of every opportunity. There are going to be a lot of things we have to explain to our children, but they are going to grow up knowing that we don't stand with our toes on the line. We are going to make every effort to glorify God, even if we are only a very tiny light in the darkness.
I know that won't be a very popular opinion, but there it is anyway. I hope you will at least think about it. Blessings!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
I alluded in my last post to how busy I had been this summer. It's true: there was so much going on, but a lot of it I can't share with you right now. What I can share with you though, is the discovery of the greatest book ever written. Well, that may be taking it a little far since the Bible already holds that title, but I will say it is a book that has changed my life forever.
As I had mentioned a long while ago, I have been struggling for a long time with my weight. I would cut calories, exercise like a maniac (like I was doing 8 miles on the elliptical daily. Seriously, ain't nobody got time for that) and I was struggling to lose even a pound. It took me half a year to lose about 30-ish pounds. It was torturous, and I was tired, and I was ready to give up. Then I found the book.
Trim, Healthy Mama is a book by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. They are two fellow homeschooling Moms who did a crazy amount of research, tested their findings on themselves, and came away with the most balanced and Biblical approach to food I have ever seen. When I tell you I have found freedom from my relationship to food because of this book, I am seriously understating it.
I am not going to give away too much of the book's secrets ;) but I will tell you that it is a healthy way of eating that does not cut out any macronutrients and works to stabilze blood sugar/glucose. It. Is. Awesome. It's awesome because you never go hungry, and you never feel deprived. You eat satisfying, yummy foods and heal your body at the same time. Curious? Check them out on Amazon. They are relaunching their website very soon, but until then, just look at the reviews on Amazon.
I have lost 55 pounds since December. I have lost two clothing sizes since I started THM in late July. I have gained great confidence and a better body image, and best of all, very good health. No more pain in my feet, much more energy, and the petichae I had on my legs for 8 years is disappearing.
I heartily recommend this book. Anyone can do it; men, women, and kids, and I promise you won't be disappointed. I will be sharing my meal plans from time to time on here. The meals and snacks will be labeled according to the catgegories in the plan, and quite a few of the recipes can only be found in the book, so you won't be able to cheat and skip buying the book. You can always get the e-book or PDF version if that floats your boat, but you will have to anty up and pay these lovely ladies for all their incredible work. Keep your eyes peeled: I'll be posting my first menu very soon!
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
It's been about 6 months since I last blogged. So much has gone on this year, but this last six months has been absolutely jammed. I did end up doing a very light, abbreviated version of school for the kids. We also spent quite a lot of time running in the sprinkler, swinging on the swing set, visiting the library, and doing a lot of art projects. There were also a lot more movies than I allow during the school year. Summer is our wet season in the waaaay south, and it rains like clockwork every afternoon, if not all day. We would get outside while the weather would allow, but we had to entertain ourselves indoors a lot. Raise your hand if you know how hard it is to keep a three and four year old inside 24/7. Bless your heart, I feel your pain. ;) But in all seriousness, while it was a challenge, it was also a lot of fun.
Fall arrived (on the calendar anyhow) and with it, the official start of school. While I have been using Sonlight K loosely for my four year-old, I have been doing all sorts of things with my baby (well, she's three but she is my baby). Like I mentioned in the previous post, I ordered a Letter of the Week curriculum for her. She flew through that so fast she was finished with it by the end of the first quarter. Honestly, I was thrilled and horrified. I love that she is so bright, but I was really frustrated that I'd picked the "wrong" curriculum again, and that she was finished with it already.
But wait; isn't this homeschool thing about making the choice that is best for your individual child? My kids have loved their school time, and they don't seem to think I made the wrong choice. Little Girl loved every minute of her LOTW curriculum, she just mastered it much more quickly than I had anticipated. So, where did this "wrong" label come from? Oh, yeah. Me. There is this huge pressure out there to make sure we do it all just right and, if we are honest with ourselves, we will own up to our own role in it. I have never once had someone question my curriculum choice, or if Big Girl and Little Girl are learning enough. I have never had anyone tell me I am a failure as a mother or a parent because I homeschool. No one has ever said that my kids have to learn faster or more than the homeschool families on the Internet forums. There is a little competition on some of those forums, but I really think it is our own faults. We lay that guilt trip and that pressure on ourselves. Once we realize that, there is this beautiful freedom to be had.
So once we have that freedom, what do we do with it? You make the choice that is best for your family. You do it thoughtfully, and reasonably, and you walk in the freedom that you are their parent and you know how they will learn better than anyone else in the world. Other than Jesus, of course. ;)
I want to share some tips for planning your school year and choosing curriculum. Hopefully it will help you as much as it is helping me.
1: First step in planning and choosing: Don't!
I don't mean don't pick anything at all, of course, but I do mean don't think you have to plan and pick everything for the whole year at once. Who said you have to buy all your work in August? Yes, it's exciting and those curriculum companies are so good at calling you right up and helping you pick everything you "need", but just don't. When you buy everything at once you feel like you have everything you need AND that you you have to fit it all in. I don't have to tell you that your child is unique and special and marches to the beat of their own drum. Just plan the first quarter, and see how it goes. You will have to adjust the plan, and that's okay!!
2: Be Honest with Yourself!
Take a really good look at how your family functions. How does your day unfold? Are you the kind of family that likes to rise and shine early in the morning, or would you sooner blow someone up for talking to you before you've had your coffee? Do your little ones like to get out and run off their energy a bit before you start your lessons, or do you find that if you don't start right away you'll never get their attention back? What kind of climate do you live in? Is it so hot in the afternoon that you can't play outside after 10 am? Is it too cold to play outside until 3 pm and you have to keep everyone indoors until then? How long can your kids sit still without getting the fidgets? Do they like workbooks, or would they rather you read to them all day long? Do crafts make the lesson sink in or does music? Maybe it's videos or computer games that make the concept stick. Chances are, you've already been organizing your day in the way that is best for your family. If you struggle to function before ten, and your little ones really really love to watch Peg+Cat on PBS, why on earth would you pick to organize your school day to start at 8 and require you to teach math concepts before the caffeine has wakened your brain? Start when it's best for everyone. You're homeschooling: you can do that. :) If your little one loves writing in workbooks, like mine do, then feel good about using a workbook based curriculum. If they thrive on unit studies, awesome! Pick that. Do what your family loves, and own it.
3: Be realistic!
When considering what you are going to do that year, consider what you can realistically accomplish. If you are on a very tight budget, understand that you might not be able to do field trips to the zoo and the aquarium, buy a cupboard full of art supplies, and still afford a bookcase full of reading material. But you could visit a local farm, the fire station, and the local historian instead, buy a few really good art staples, and become best friends with the public Librarian. You'd be surprised at the books you can get your hands on for free. Also, be realistic in how much you can accomplish in one year. Be flexible with your kids and yourself. See step one: If you plan a little bit at a time, you will have a much better grasp on this. I also have to stress that you don't make lofty goals just because you are certain that you can rise to the occasion. You probably could do it for awhile, but you will wear yourself out. Just be realistic, stretching yourselves just a little at a time. You can accomplish so much if you just keep taking small steps.
I hope that saves you a little bit of trauma and drama. What kind of tips or questions do you have?