Thursday, December 31, 2009

Get up off the couch!

Yes! I am talking to you (and, um, myself)!

Check out this site, and you too could be a future marathon runner! It's a very concrete and easy to use *free* plan, to get you up off the couch and running 5k in ten weeks. By mid-March you could be running for real.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Drinking Paraphernalia

I know someone out there has to understand my pain. Plastic cups make me crazy! None of the lids work together, even if they are supposed to. The same brand will make two or three different styles. And, even if I've got children who are old enough to drink without a lid, the more I read about the harm we are doing to ourselves with all this plastic, the more I think they are more than a pain. I'm done with them!

Here's my new plan:
Everyone is just getting a pint jar.

With a colored hair band so they can be identified by the owner, each child gets a color. Easy to slip off for washing and reusable.

I haven't exactly tried this out yet. Today they will wake up to my new and improved idea. I am slightly worried about my one-year-old with an open lidded glass - not the glass part because they have to be at the table with it, not running around - but the spilling part. But I figure, she'll learn. My back up plan is to put the two piece lid and ring on one, punch a hole in it and give her a straw if all else fails!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting Back on the Scale... or the Wagon

So. The big, bad, mean scale is back. We eat like crazy through the holidays pretending that we don't know the calorie count of fudge/cookies/peppermint lattes/egg nog/punch/spinach dip. We know what we are doing but we put our minds on so many other things, that we just don't care.
Ok, so maybe I'm just speaking for myself. .....And maybe I started putting my fingers in my ears and closing my eyes to what I was eating far before the holidays. Because I did. And I keep gaining weight. Yes, I am pregnant, but I know from personal experience that you can keep that "baby" weight down to a minimum and have healthy bundle of joy.

So, as I am watching the scale go to higher and higher numbers (egads!) I am wondering what I am doing wrong. I finally opened my eyes to every thing I ate yesterday. In fact, I plugged it in to Calorie Counter Plus, a free on line diet aid. I type in what I eat and it adds it all up, even giving me a grade for the day.
(Here is a picture of my husband and I in May of 08. I had already started dieting but was so surprised at how I looked. It's such a strange phenomenon that we don't see ourselves as we really are? This picture really gave me the drive to get serious about loosing weight.)

Do I even have to tell you that my calories were way over what I should be eating? And that's without a single sugar cookie in sight! Who knows how much I was eating with my neighbor's famous Oreo balls in the house.

Time to par back a little! I'm setting a calorie goal for myself and plan to stick to it. Many studies have shown that if you just keep a food log (just writing down what you eat) alone, that you will be much more accountable for what you are eating. When just estimating, we are 40% under the real numbers! My plan is to diligently use Calorie Counter Plus and continue to exercise. Hopefully, I can stop the upward swing of the numbers on the scale.
(This was a picture of me in January of 09, about a hundred pounds less than the first picture. What an accomplishment that was, and what a good feeling! All summer we were able to walk and play and do things that I never would have had the energy to do before.)

All of the time and energy put in to calorie counting and exercise is worth it! It is a strange thing, but you receive even more time and energy back for your work.

Anyone else changing the way they eat in the upcoming weeks?

Monday, December 28, 2009

At Our House.........

It snowed again last night to everyone's great delight.

One of my hard workers.
The girls in the coop (verses the boys in the hood) staying near the heat lamp.

The frozen garden that is just crying out to be planted soon!

The real muscle behind the shoveling.

Snowy trampoliners.

Cheesy Chinesey girls.

Big pot of homemade vegetable beef soup on for lunch. Looking forward to nap time. All this "fun" wears a mommy out. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Great Party Dip

We had a fun round of Monopoly here last night, this old favorite, Fiesta Dip was requested for a quick dinner. Everyone loves it - it would be a great addition to a New Year's Eve party buffet.

Fiesta Dip - ready in 15 minutes or less
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
1 can (16 oz refried beans
1 (4 oz) chopped green chilies or jalapenos
1 envelope fiesta ranch dip mix
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese, divided
Sliced olives, chopped tomato, green onion and shredded lettuce
Tortilla chips

In a shallow 1 and a half quart microwave-safe dish (I use a pie plate), combine sour cream, beans, chilies and dip mix. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir; rotate dish a quarter turn. Cover and microwave 2 minutes longer until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with vegetables. Serve with chips. Makes about 5 cups.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Getting Back to Normal

The holidays are over. I know we still have to ring in the New Year but around here, we don't do much to that end. I do however, like to take a look at things, an honest look.

How's our schedule going?

Ok for the most part. There are a few more months of these long and dark afternoons. I'd really like to add in another daily activity or two so that they seem to go by more quickly. I think I need to get back to reading a chapter book regularly.

Exercise -

I'm so thankful to say that we've been faithful to this one. Most weeks we get five workouts in a week. I'm trying to continue circuit training with lots of weight lifting at least two of those days. I feel so much stronger for it. I feel like I need to prepare for the marathon ahead (giving birth!) As for the children, my youngest five have consistently been having bike time in the house every afternoon. I'll be so glad when the weather turns back to warmer days and we can have our daily outside time again. I miss it.

Eating -

Today is the last day of lingering junk in our house. All of these holiday foods have snuck in to our house one way or another. I'll be putting out all of the left over cookies, breads and candies for the Bible study at our house this afternoon. I am not sad to see it go, I'm so sick of the sugar!

One other change I've been thinking long and hard about, and I'm sure it won't be well received, is foregoing snack times around here. Right now I'm offering fruit for morning snack at 10 and something in the afternoon at 3. Admittedly, the afternoon snacks are not as healthy as they could be. I often make cookies or other sweeter things for this time of day. I was talking to a friend recently who told me she just does fruit in the morning and veggies in the afternoon. I'm thinking of making up a tray of fruit in the morning that will be available until lunch and the same for a vegetable tray until dinner. It will be on a help yourself basis. We'll see how it goes.

School - All three older children are chugging along with their lessons. I'm thinking of taking a little break and starting a unit study in the middle of January and having it last two weeks or so. I'm not sure of the topic yet but I'm thinking hands on activities and a few writing assignments and lap books. Since we haven't had any sort of break since September (we go right through the holidays) I think they will enjoy it.

The House - I'd like to get our kitchen painted and the cupboards done. They've been sitting undone for an awful long time and I plan to make this room a priority. I have been thinking of having a meeting with my daughter and deciding to focus on one room per week or month to get it decluttered, organized, rearranged or whatever it needs. We have a whole room in our basement dedicated to garage sale stuff, anytime I find things I don't need, it's been going down there. We plan to have one of the earliest and best garage sales around. I'd like to make a lot of money toward our metal framed pool fund.

Looking toward the spring -

I have been pouring over seed catalogs and imagining the biggest and best garden ever! But, in reality I'm having a baby right smack in the middle of gardening season and I want to be realistic - that's hard! I wanted to do a three sisters garden this year as the native Americans did when the pilgrims came. I had an image in my mind of several circles in our yard but, I think I'm going to try one and keep it to that, the strawberries, tomatoes and peppers. I'm going to have each of the kids pick something to plant and take care of. My oldest son really wants a few flowers around the house and my oldest daughter wants to grow some crazy and different vegetables. I'm glad that they are interested in involved this year.

I'll get another colony of bees and try again with that! I'd also like to try and raise a few baby chicks on our own this spring as an educational activity.

I've been looking through baby clothes and picking out the little white newborn hats and onesies. Could it be that in just 21 weeks I'll have a new little one? It's hard for me to imagine! Over the next months I need to get the birth kit together and prepare the house for the arrival of the baby.

That's it! The tide is turning toward and new and better year. If you have or decide to write up a plan for yourself, please comment or send me your ideas, I'd love to hear what you are doing!
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas On the Other Side

Here are some thought-provoking words about others during this season. Have a wonderful and beautiful holiday with your friends and family. Remember how you are blessed!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Return of a Prodigal.... Chicken

I wrote that last post at about 4 am yesterday. On a whim I decided to go outside in the frozen dark to see if there was any sign of my lost chickens. On the far side, on the outside of the coop, I was so surprised to see that little barred rock that was pictured in that post hunched down near the ground. She'd laid her egg there and her little wings had ice crystals all over the top of them. I bent to pick her up. I turned the heat lamp on, waking the other six up, who came down immediately. The prodigal hen began eating and drinking. I was so glad. My friend Dawn recently posted about the parable of the prodigal. A timely tale for me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lesson from the Chickens

Yesterday on my way out to a quick trip to the library with my oldest son, I stopped at the chicken coop. Feeling sorry for those poor little girls, I let them out of the hen house. I knew I would be back soon and they looked so miserable and deserving of a little fresh air and freedom. Besides, the rest of the family was in the house and would hear if there was a problem.

Guess what was in our yard when I drove back in? A neighbor's big brown dog. And a pile of feathers. Macho Man and I were panicked, running around looking for any of our flock that was still with us. He found three in a far corner of the yard and for many long minutes that's all we thought was left. Thankfully, three more slowly came around. But we did loose two and everyone is mad at mom for such a careless mistake.

While I was running around looking for those chickens all I could think of was this verse, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8. I was thinking of my children. We keep a tight rein on ours, some may call us over protective. But it doesn't take much to protect them. All those hens needed was a little chicken wire and plywood between them and the rest of the world. All my kids need is an alert parent watching out for them, being there to diligently oversee.

It does get tiring and, often times hard, to continually go against the grain, for us and our children. And, the more you have, the more you have to be on watch. But this is a lesson learned for this mommy. Although there may be opportunities outside of the watchful eyes of the protectors, there are many dangers as well. It is not worth the risk we would be taking. "Let us not become wearing in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

So many will say, "You've got to let them go sometime." I say not yet. Not yet.

Let me take this lesson to heart.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On The Bookshelf

Come to the Table a Celebration of Family Life by Doris Christopher is a sweet book full of good ideas and ways to make memories for your family. Many people's traditions and experiences are outlined by holiday and season of the year. It was thought provoking for me, a mother who continually tries to evaluate the time commitment verses the actual quality of the experience for my children. It's nice to read what other families have done.

A second book that has been on my shelf recently is Healing through Exercise by Jorg Blech. Most of it, I could have guessed but it is reassuring to read how wonderful exercise is for the body. While reading this, I often thought of the verse in I Timothy, "For physical training is for some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 4:8. If physical exercise can change the quality and length of your life so drastically, how much more than can godliness change us?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Individuality in a Large Family

A while back a local blogger wrote a post about a famous large family. She commented about their lack of individuality - that they dress the same and are forced to do the same things. It didn't sit with me very well, I thought a lot about it and couldn't really figure out why it bothered me so much.

Recently, I got my hands on the Duggars' book, 20 and Counting. It was fun to read. One thing that struck me was a email question that had been sent in to the family and was answered by Jessa Duggar, here's a quote from the book:

Q: Seeing how you all dress so much alike, I'm wondering how the children in your family are allowed to express their individuality?

A: "We always laugh when a question like that comes in! As one of my sisters said, 'Mom, when we go out to an event somewhere, we often see groups of teenagers who are all dressed alike - sometimes they're all in black, or they're all wearing jeans, or they're all wearing the same kind of T-shirt. Sometimes they all have nose rings and tattoos!' We're just like them; all us Duggars wear similar kinds of clothes. But instead of being influenced by peer pressure, we're guided by our family's standards of modesty and what we read in the Bible." -Jessa Duggar age 16

Wow. There's the answer that I have been searching for! Does that say volumes?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Day of Hanukkah Fun

Do you want to see my family in real life? The messy kitchen, me in my robe and Mr. Right in his jammie pants? Here's the post for you!

Because of the miracle of the olive oil lasting eight days in the temple menorah when there was only supposed to be enough for one day, it is traditional to eat fried foods during Hanukkah. Many people know about the latkes, but did you know that donuts are often part of the festivities? Today is the last day, and to make it special, Daddy got out his deep fryer and made breakfast for the kids, which, of course they loved.

We cheat and start with the Pillsbury pop open biscuits. Here are the boys putting the holes in.

My daughter taking her turn at frying them.

We put cinnamon sugar in one paper grocery bag and powdered sugar in another. The little ones got to shake their first breakfast treats.

Powdered sugar baby.

Here's my seven-year-old dancing in powdered sugar he's supposed to be sweeping up with the broom in his hand. Making memories!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheerios Breakfast Bars

In looking for something a little different to serve for breakfast, I tried these. The recipe was for a breakfast cookie, but I decided that bars are just as good and take far less time! Everyone liked them and with a variety of fruit on the side, it seemed to be a nice change.

They are a whole lot healthier than the standard cereal bar at the grocery store and even better than many of the other breakfast bar recipes I found around the Internet, many contained marshmallows... I just can't go that far for breakfast!

Try these out for a simple, easy and even on the go option for the morning:

Cheerios Breakfast Bars
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
4 cups Cheerios

Heat oven to 375. Beat together sugar, butter, peanut butter, water, vanilla and egg. Add all dry ingredients except cereal and raisins. Gently stir in cereal and raisins. Spread and press dough on to a greased cookie sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes. Let them stand for five minutes before cutting and removing from baking sheet.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sixteen Weeks

I was just reading about the baby's development at 16 weeks gestation, right where I am in my pregnancy now. Apparently, lots of tiny eggs are growing inside the baby if she is a girl. Isn't it a strange thought that part of my potential grandchildren are possibly already inside of me? Amazing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

That's What Kids Are For....

I was thinking of buying my husband new slippers. I'm realizing that's just not necessary. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stuff I Love

I just love this time of year. There is so much to be thankful for.

At our house, each person gets one night to light candles and give gifts.

Here are the little girls. They received handmade vests for their teddy bears, made by my oldest daughter.

This is the family working on latkes. Even though they are labor intensive, everyone agrees that they're worth it!

My two oldest posing together after gifts were given. Even little things have become something to be thankful for and appreciate. All parties were low in funds this year but were creative and found ways show each other how special they are.

And, as I type it is snowing like crazy outside. I have a big cup of my favorite Ginger Snappish tea and am really enjoying reflecting on what a wonderful time it is.