Monday, October 31, 2016

Perks of Homeschooling

We do not celebrate Halloween in our family.  We just believe there is nothing redeemable about this "holiday."  So we don't participate.  BUT...we do celebrate something on October 31!  We celebrate...


That is, the day the Protestant Reformation was more or less, born.  499 years ago, the monk, Martin Luther, boldly nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church for all to see.  Thus sparked the people's eyes were opened to the rank disobedience to God in the Catholic church.

So, today, instead of the usual homeschool;  we did a mini unit study!  I researched on Pinterest for ideas...and found some gems!  I printed out 2 pages for the kids to color.  One was of Luther nailing his theses on the door with his name, "Luther,"  in bold letters at the bottom.  The other page was of his crest, a rose with a cross in the middle;  and Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  I then looked on Amazon Video (we are Prime members.) and found the Torchlighters had an animated "documentary" for kids called, The Martin Luther Story.  The kids loved it, and I enjoyed it as well.

Sorry about R...haha

This is why I LOVE homeschooling!  I can decide to change up the day's learning to match the holiday, or some event taking place in our lives.  I also love that we have the Internet as a huge resource!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall Cleaning with Thieves Essential Oil

I know everyone does, or has heard of, Spring Cleaning.  I am in the process of Fall Cleaning.  And I'm dousing my home in Young Living's Thieves Essential Oil to help keep sickness away.  I have Thieves Household Cleaner, Thieves oil, Thieves Laundry Detergent, and Thieves Dish-washing Liquid. Here are some of the ways I use Thieves oil and products...

~ Multi-purpose Spray

I mix Thieves oil with Castile soap and water in a spray bottle.  I use this to wipe down kitchen counters, tabletop, bathroom counters, and doorknobs.

~ Diffuse

I diffuse the Thieves oil in my diffuser at least once a week.  I also use Purification, Lemon, and R.C. oils to freshen the air.

~ Floor Cleaner

I use Thieves Household cleaner to wash my floors.  I take a few capfuls of cleaner and add them to a gallon bucket of water.  It is gentle enough for my bathroom floor;  which requires non-harsh cleaners.

~ Dish Washing

I use a small amount of Thieves dish-washing liquid to wash dishes.  I also use it to wipe down the counter around my sink, and clean my sink.

~ Laundry Detergent

The Thieves detergent has a gentle scent that makes laundry smell amazing.  You only need a small amount for each load, which is definitely cost effective.

The fall/winter season is riff with sickness, and last year our family got hit hard with the Noro virus...which meant weeks of vomit and diarrhea.  I do NOT want to go through that again, so using Thieves oil to clean my home makes me feel like I have a leg up on this cold and flu season.

Along with washing my house, I am also de-cluttering and organizing.  I have several lists of containers and shelves I need to organize, and I am purging clothes, toys, and miscellaneous other items that are laying around with no home and no purpose.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Unknown THM Gems in the Cookbook

Since buying the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook last year, I have discovered some hidden gems that my family loves.  These recipes are cheap to buy and easy to prepare;  making them family favorites in this house.  (I've provided the page numbers for each recipe found in the cookbook.)

1.  Slim Sloppy Joes (pg. 63)

This recipe is amazing!  Just beef, veggies, and sauce.  I serve it to my husband and kids on regular hamburger buns, and I eat it between 2 toasted slices of sprouted bread.  My husband raves about it, and often requests it!

2.  Cabb & Saus Skillet (pg. 58)

This one is a semi-favorite.  A few of my kids don't like it...but they do eat it.  It is just cabbage, sausage, and spices.  Now, I used whole cabbage, which requires cutting and it's very labor intensive for me.  But you can always buy pre-shredded cabbage to make it easier.

3.  Chicken Parmy (pg. 161)

Everyone LOVES this recipe!  And it is so simple!  Chicken, breading, sauce, and cheese.  So easy to prepare, and gobbled up in a second!

4.  Singing Canary Shot (pg. 399)

I highly dislike the fact that the regular Singing Canary takes FOREVER to make because you have to do special things to the lemons...UGH! But the Singing Canary Shot is amazing!  I use Lemon Juice because I rarely buy lemons. Tastes great, and has the same benefits...just a smaller dose.

5.  Let 'Er Rip Side Salad (pg. 229)

This little gem is great!  You just tear up a head of lettuce, and add veggies, (I also add Rohnda's Ranch Dressing) and you have a side dish! 

6.  Creamy Herbed Chicken (pg. 165)

I found this recipe one evening when I was in a quandary about what to make for dinner.  I had all of the ingredients, so I made it, and the Hubs LOVED it! 

7.  Coconut Thai Chicken (pg. 45)

This is one of my favorite recipes!  And it is SO easy!  Chicken, veggies, and sauce simmering in the slow cooker all day.  I serve it over brown rice, which I cook in my rice cooker.  It has such a delicious flavor!

8.  Watcha Want Mexican Chicken (pg. 47)

This has got to be the easiest recipe!  Just 2 ingredients slow cooked all day, served over brown rice.  I add black beans to stretch it out a bit.  Delicious!

9.  Sweet Potato Bar (pg. 166)

We love this recipe!  I like that the chicken and the potatoes are baked together.  Just add veggies and sour cream.  I add a pat of butter and some shredded cheese on top for the rest of the family for a good crossover. 

10.  Waffleized Breakky Sandwich (pg. 241)

I tweak this to make it a delicious, on-plan crossover.  I toast 2 slices of sprouted bread, then add fried eggs, bacon, and a slice of cheese.  So good, and so filling!

What are some recipes you've discovered and loved while doing THM?  Please, share them in the comments! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Focus on Fitness

Lately, I have decided to focus on my Health and Fitness.   I still have about 20lbs. to lose to reach my goal.  I follow Trim Healthy Mama, and have just recently created a workout schedule for myself.  Exercise is greatly encouraged on THM, despite many, many mama's touting impressive weight loss numbers without working out.

My weekly workout schedule looks something like this:

Sunday:  Rest Day
Monday:  Run (2 miles or more)
Tuesday:  PiYo (30 minutes or more)
Wednesday:  Run (2 mi.+)
Thursday:  RIPPED class (55 min.)
Friday:  Run (2 mi.+)
Saturday:  Kickboxing/PiYo/Zumba (basically whatever I want)

Occasionally, the Y will have a special RIPPED class on Friday night or Saturday morning.  If Bram is working second shift, I occasionally attend the morning RIPPED classes on Monday and Wednesday.

Sometimes, I know some ladies wonder how to work out and stay modest.  When I am running or going to the Y, I typically wear a racerback tank (preferably high-neckline), somewhat long to cover my butt.  Bottoms are normal, workout bottoms such as Under Armour capris, or in fall/winter...leggings.  In the summer, I wear workout shorts, but make sure to either wear the 2-layer shorts or long shorts.  Everyone has their own standard of modesty.  Before I go or do any kind of workout, I do ask my husband what he thinks of my clothes.  I've had him say "No." to numerous items.  I also try the "plank test" with my tops...if you can see my breasts when I'm in plank...that top is OUT!  My favorite brands for workout clothes are Under Armour, Victoria Sport (formerly Victoria Secret Sport, or VSX), and Old Navy Active.

Workout bras are a MUST, seriously!  I only wear Victoria Sport bras.  They have all kinds of different styles and supports.  They are just so comfortable, and they work so well to hold you in and close while jostling around!   
My workout shoes are either trail running shoes, or training shoes.  My favorite brands are Under Armour, Asics, Salomon, New Balance and Fila.  I have a problem with my shoes slipping around when at the Y due to the waxed gym I try to use my training shoes for the gym.  Trail-running shoes do NOT do well indoors!
You can buy dumbbells at Walmart, Target, Dicks, and Scheels. Start with 2s or 3s...then work your way up to whatever you can handle SAFELY.  You're not trying to prove anything to anyone, so be careful!  I started my Y classes with my 3 pounders and am just about able to go up to 7....and I've been doing classes on and off for about 1.5 years.
 So, I encourage everyone to start some kind of exercise routine for themselves.  I know that as a mom, there are precious few times to workout, but if you make it a will happen.  Fitness is very important to my husband and I, so we make it a priority.  I always tell myself this when I don't feel like working out and start to come up with all of the excuses...

"No one has ever finished a workout, and regretted it."  

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Trim Healthy Mama Plan (a blurb)

I have to admit...I am not 100% on plan.  I still splurge at Starbucks.  I eat real pizza.  I love me some Doritos (more than I should, seriously!).  But I do try to stay on plan as much as I can.

All of our dinners are from the THM cookbook.  Our go-to recipes are Cabb & Saus Skillet, Rich & Tender Stew, Coconut Thai Chicken, Chicken Florentine, Lemon Herb Drummies, Bangin' Ranch Drums, and Eggroll in a Bowl.  We just discovered the Trim Zuppa Tuscana Soup and everyone loves it!  I do alot of the crockpot meals for convenience.

I always have brown rice on hand.  Salsa Chicken was a favorite meal as I was growing up, and the Watcha Want Mexican Chicken is exactly the same.  I add a can of black beans to our pot for more substance, and the kids and my hubs add a dollop of sour cream to their helpings.  I also serve the Coconut Thai Chicken over Brown rice, making it a crossover...which is better than going off plan with white rice.  My husband always likes a starch with his dinners.  I always have coconut milk in my cabinets.  I snack on fresh mozzarella, which you can find in the produce section of Walmart.  I also love to snack on various nuts, and popcorn with nutritional yeast sprinkled generously on top.  I also keep canned tomatoes in stock.  I buy the bulk containers of spices that I use frequently...such as garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder.

This past month, we went half in on a half of a cow with my brother-in-law.  That gave us tons of ground beef, chuck roasts, and various other forms of steak.  That is so amazing to have in our freezer, as we can use the meat in a variety of THM meals.  Everything came out to around $3/lb.!!

So, this is just a small blurb about how I make THM work for me.  I realize that I may not see terrific results because of my non-purist, and sometimes off-plan ways...but this works for me!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Starting Over with our Homeschool

We started out our second year of homeschool using Bob Jones University Press (BJU Press) curriculum.  I loved it.  I was excited and wooed by the bright colors and manipulatives.  Well, not 6 weeks into it, we are getting rid of it and starting over with something new.

Here is why:

1.  BJU Press is extremely time consuming.

I know, homeschooling itself is extremely time consuming.  But having a curriculum that is easy to manage and not extra-time consuming is important...especially as a busy mom of 6.  BJUP takes a lot of time to set up.  I first realized this when I had my mom and mother-in-law over to help prep and there were WAY more manipulatives than I had originally thought.  Every night,and sometimes the morning of, I would spend at least an hour, maybe more, getting things ready for the next day.  Math and Phonics had the most manipulatives, and every day added more and more onto what we already needed.  There were HUNDREDS of small, vocabulary cards;  sight word cards, family cards, word cards, and parts of a word cards to be prepared...and sometimes story characteres needing to be copied, cut out, colored, and glued to a stick.  And that is just one subject!!  It was just all too much for me.  

2.  BJUP is geared more towards an actual schoolroom.

The curriculum is made to be used in a classroom setting.  It assumes you have bulletin boards or space to store everything you need.  It has homework-type assignments.  It has activities or games that you need more than 2 students to do.  I was constantly having to come up with ways to adapt lessons for just my 2 first graders.  Again...wasting time.

3. They are a Baptist doctrine-based curriculum.

We are a Reformed Presbyterian family, so when doctrinal discussions came up (specifically salvation)  I was having to correct the text and the kids' work texts to fit into our doctrinal beliefs.  Not necessarily bad, but annoying to have to do.

Something Good about BJUP...

I loved their Math!

Their Math 1 curriculum is amazing.  Despite all of the manipulatives, the math program is great.  I especially love their use of Unifix Cubes.  When I started using them to help F and T review addition and more-or-less concepts...they picked up on it almost instantly.  They (the cubes) were a great visual to help them understand more and less...greater and lesser. I love that! 

So, what are we going to do?

Well, we decided to use Christian Liberty Press.  They are a Reformed doctrine-based curriculum, which is great for Bible class.  Their schedule is much more conducive to our needing-to-be-flexible family life.  Their work texts are simple and easy to follow.  Our books are being shipped to us soon, and I cannot wait to start!  

As my mother-in-law pointed out to me,  it is better to start all over with a new curriculum, than to struggle and force your way through one that doesn't fit.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

To my Pregnant Friends...

Dear Pregnant Friends,

I know, I just lost my baby at 10 weeks.  I know that some of you don't know what that is like, and can't comprehend how it feels.  I know that you have no idea how to talk to me, or what to say, or even if you should say things.  I know you feel that you can't share your pregnancy joy without hurting me.  But I want you to know some things:

1.)  I am SO happy and excited for you during your pregnancy!

Yes, I feel a pang of sadness when I see your growing belly...but that doesn't mean I am not thrilled to hear about his kicks or her bout of hiccups at 10 p.m.  It doesn't mean I don't want to celebrate with you when you find out it's a boy or a girl.  I love to celebrate the precious life inside of you!

2.)  I cannot wait to hold your newborn!

I might cry the first time I hold her, but it's not you or's the sadness that I won't be holding my own.  I will drink in your baby's newborn scent, laugh at scrunched up faces, and love her head of hair.  I'll tell you he looks like you or her daddy.  I'll celebrate her arrival and bring a special gift for him.

3.)  I may, at times, well up with tears.

It's nothing you said, or did.  Grief hits me at all times and in all places;  sometimes for no reason at all.  It's part of losing a loved one.

4.)  I will sometimes need to talk.

Some day, some time...I may need to just talk.  About my grief, about my baby...just talk to someone.  So someday I'll need your ears to listen, and your words for comfort.

Grieving is a process.  I'm never going to "get over" losing my child.  But with the Lord's help, and support from dear friends like you...I can live a happy, joyful life.  I won't obsess over the child I lost.  I will laugh at jokes and funny stories.  I'll spend time with friends and family.  I'll live my life to it's fullest knowing I will see my baby again in Heaven.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.  (it is completely overshadowed by Breast Cancer awareness...)  No one talks about it as much as they should.  The statistics surrounding P&IL are staggering.  One in Four women has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or SIDS.  There shouldn't be a stigma around P&IL.  We should be able to talk about it and find support through it as common as cancer.  Women should know that they are not alone, and they don't need to go through this pain alone.

As Christians, we can find comfort in knowing that our babies are in heaven with Jesus;  singing and dancing and praising our Father.  We will meet them one day, and we will never be separated again.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My First Participating Tough Mudder Experience

Saturday, October 1, 2016.  We woke up early and got all of the kids fed and dressed.  We had gotten our gear, tickets, waivers, and extra clothes all packed up and ready to go the night before.  After a minor hiccup (I accidentally put my phone in the diaper bag that was at my in-laws) we were off to Road America (the racetrack the event was held)!!

I have to honestly admit, I was SO nervous!  I mean, 12 miles...20+ obstacles...electricity...UGH!!  On top of it was rainy and gloomy and cold.

We arrived at Road America.  We passed our fellow Mudders from the earlier waves already tackling the "Ladder to Hell."  Our wave was at 10:15.  We had a half hour before we were to get in line.  I did a super short, live Facebook video for our friends and family who couldn't spectate.  (we were there all by ourselves, and honestly, it was a crappy day for the spectators.)

We got in line, and were herded into a holding pen (seriously, a cattle.  People were mooing all over the place, haha!).  Then we got released up to the warm up area.  After squatting and lunging and doing jumping jacks we to go to the actual starting line.

The announcer said "GO!"and we all went!  It was exciting!  We jogged for a bit, then we got to the first obstacle, "Kiss of Mud," which is about 20ft. or more of super watery mud that you have to crawl/swim through while keeping your butt down so you don't get caught on the barbed wire strung over the entire swampy mess.  It was fun, although the water was cold.

My husband did most of the obstacles, I did about half.  It was freezing cold, and the trails themselves were an entire, 12 mile obstacle as the rains from the week before turned everything into a soupy, muddy pit.  This was Bram's 3rd Tough Mudder run...and he, as well as all of the other legionnaires, were commenting on just how AWFUL the trails were.  This year was by far the muddiest, toughest course they had experienced...and some of the legionnaires have done more than 20 runs!   (just in case people think I'm exaggerating how bad it was...)

I was SO ready to quit so many times!! I was cold, miserable, and just tired.

After 5 hours of mud, sweat, and more mud...we got to the last obstacles.  Since Bram is a legionnaire, he was able to take the alternate finishing obstacle, "Frequent Flyers."  This was my first run, so I either had to do "Electroshock Therapy" or bypass.  I have a deathly fear of electric shock, and I know you're supposed to "Conquer all fears!"  but I decided to bypass.  I still got my headband and shirt...and a beer, which I took a sip and then gave to my hubby.

My favorite part about Tough Mudder is the camaraderie with the other Mudders.  Everyone looks out for and helps everyone else.  We met some super nice people, and were able to help each other out.


Would I do it again?

(I actually signed up for next year this morning!!)