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Thursday, September 30, 2010

End of September Musings

I've been thinking a lot today, about several things, in particular.

One if these things can be resolved with the help of you, dear reader. And the other will be resolved with time, I suppose.

You see, yesterday we had to take our Pomeranian to the Humane Society. Ever since we got him from the Humane Society last year he has taken every chance to get out of the house unleashed and shoot out of here like a rocket. Countless times I have had to rush the kids into the van and scout the neighborhood for him and then hope that once we found him we could catch him. With kids coming and going from this house multiple times daily it was impossible to contain him at all times. I realized that sooner or later we were going to find him hit by a car.

That doesn't mean it was an easy decision, nor an easy task. I've felt sick and saddened since taking him in yesterday, and had dreams of him last night. He was such a good little dog, aside from the running away (and his annoying barking, too!). I did write a detailed note about him for anyone considering adopting him. With some advanced training and hopefully an adult only home (or fenced in yard) he will be an excellent pet. We have been in a glum mood since though. I keep wondering if I did the right thing...

And on that note, let me switch over to the task in which you can help me with. Challenge time! Shall I have another challenge for October? What would you be the most interested in? Another budget challenge? Weight loss challenge? A new challenge? Or keep it the same as it has been going this month? I would like to hear what would be of most interest to you! I'll be back later with the results.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Grandma

Yesterday I wrote about eating out with family at the oldest restaurant and bar here in the state. One of the main reasons for choosing that particular place to eat at was to see my Grandma's painting on the wall.

My Grandma is an amazing woman. There is a plaque near the painting at the restaurant detailing some of my Grandma's life. She married a WWII veteran and raised 10 children on a very little money. She was ingenious when it came to finding ways to clothe and feed her ten children. It wasn't until her children were older that she had the time to really work on her art, but I'm sure that she got her start in it while making and mending clothing for the kids and making so much out of nothing.
She makes the most beautiful crazy quilts and I am honored that she made each of my children a small baby quilt when they were born.
She carves wood and has some of the most beautiful statues that I have ever seen. One of her carvings is displayed here in town at the courthouse.
The last few years she has spent most of her artistic talent on painting. The above painting is painted from the view below, which is right outside the restaurant.

It took her months to complete the painting and I remember several times when she would be exhausted from her work on it, while at the same time completely absorbed into the painting. Her art took her over as she finished the painting.
What is amazing is this is not the first painting she had done of that magnitude, nor the first painting she had done for the restaurant. The picture above was similar to a painting that the restaurant had hanging on their walls for years. The place burnt down several years ago, burning the painting with it.
My aunt and uncle decided to hire my Grandma to make a painting for the restaurant as they are friends with the owner. Instead of a summer scene they had my Grandma paint a winter scene:
That painting took months to finish but turned out amazing. A year later the restaurant burned to the ground again. The owners decided to rebuild yet again and my Grandma set to work on the summer scene which you see in the first few pictures. Let's hope that this painting is safe from fire so that many generations get to see the talent that my Grandma has!
Photo credits: Daniel Kenyon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family Fun

This past Sunday we went with a large group of family members (close to 30 total!) to the oldest restaurant and bar here in the state. My Grandma is an artist and one of her paintings is displayed in this restaurant, so it was nice to get to see it up close and personal as well as enjoy dinner together.
Not only was the meal delicious (albeit quite expensive!) but the area surrounding the restaurant was breathtaking.
The area out back of the restaurant was family friendly where the adults were able to talk while the children ran around in the grass and toured the gardens.
Joe was fascinated with the statue of St. Francis and seems to have made a new friend.
The pumpkins were a good resting spot for in between play time.
My husband and I finally have a recent photo of the two of us.
It was a wonderful day and it was such fun to spend it with family. Here's to many more of these lovely Autumn days!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Can You Afford to Stay Home?

I recently received this question/comment on an older post about affording to stay at home:

I want to be a SAHM (and soon, homeschooling, I hope) more than anything I've ever wanted. I worked part time for two years, but we struggled financially. I am now full time again (my husband and I make about $78,000 together before taxes) but our daycare is extremely expensive, I hate my job, and I spend all my spare time googling ways to cut to one income. We rent, we do not have car payments, we rarely go out to eat and never shop. The only thing is, we try to save about $1000 a month in a savings account. Problem is, if we don't do that, we'll NEVER get ahead, never be able to buy a house, will always be stressed about money. I don't know what else to do. I feel like my babies are growing so quickly, and my chance to be a SAHM, what I want more than anything in the world, is going to pass me by and then it'll be too late.
By Lynn on Can You Afford to Be a One Income Family? on 9/23/10

This is a heartbreaking comment, and an all too common one. The problem is that we live in a society where a two-income family is expected. Lifestyles around us are based on two-income families. It doesn't have to be this way, Lynn.

No one on their death bed ever said "I wish I would have bought my house sooner" or "I wish I would have had more money". I'm sure many have said "I wish I could have spent more time with my family". Which means, if your dream is to stay at home with your children (and possibly homeschool them), the time to make something change is now (or soon!).

You mention that your husband and yourself make a combined income of about $78,000 a year. You didn't mention how much of that you contribute but it seems as though much of your income goes to childcare, meaning that you don't make nearly as much as your income appears on paper. Add to that work clothing, expenses getting to and from work, maybe not as many home cooked meals or relying on pre-packaged foods due to feeling rushed for time, etc. and you may be making very little at your job. Not to mention that by working full-time you possibly don't have time to "save money" by scouting garage sales for second-hand items (therefore paying full price for new things), unable to save money on your electric/gas bills by hanging out laundry, spending more at the grocery store instead of watching sales and using coupons, etc.

You make it seem as though if you quit your job you will NEVER be able to get ahead and will always be stressing over money. We have no idea what the future holds - your husband could get a nice raise or someday find a job that pays much more. You could find a job that you are able to do at home. Never say never. You may not be able to put $1,000 into savings each month but there should be something left over to save. Your dream house goal may be set back a bit, but you will be meeting an immediate dream of staying home with your children. That is something that you can never "re-do".

With that said, I can't tell you that you won't be stressing over money. It sounds like you are already stressing over money though, just in a different way. You'll just be trading one stress for another so shouldn't be too different!

My advice to you to see if you can do this is to take your monthly income (just yours!) and pay all your "work related expenses" out of your income for one month. Childcare costs. Any eating out that you did because you were too tired to cook. Overspending at the grocery store that happened because you were relying on packaged foods too much due to being on a tight schedule. Gas for your vehicle. New clothing or other items that could have been bought used or on sale that you didn't have time to do because you were busy at work or tired from being gone all day. Your lunch as well as your husband's lunch costs, which could have been packaged at home had you had extra time (that is, if you don't already bring your own lunches). Think of any other work related costs and subtract those as well. Add in the fact that you are paying more income taxes due to the fact that you are at a higher income bracket at the moment.

Sit down at the end of the month and figure out how much you are left with out of your pay. Is it $900? $500? Less than that? Is 40 hours a week of work and stress worth $500 a month in actual pay?! All those other expenses could be eliminated if you were a stay-at-home mom. You could find ways to save or make $500 a month if you were a stay-at-home mom.

I wish you all the best of luck and would be interested in seeing what you decide after tracking your expenses for one month.

Does anyone else have advice for Lynn or other women with the same question?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Miracle Worker?

I picked up some organic facial cleanser on clearance. It said anti-aging and I figured that at the ripe old age of 28 it wouldn't hurt to use an anti-aging product.

After two weeks of regular use my skin is breaking out like a teenager existing solely on chocolate and potato chips. I guess this anti-aging stuff really works, huh?!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Scrumptious Saturday

My divided lunch trays for the kiddie lunches are still a hit. Mind you, we don't eat these every day but I have found that when I serve these trays the kids clean their plates a lot better. Making lunch fun makes lunch taste better.

On this particular day we had cauliflower, broccoli, and vegetable dip, organic grapes, and chips with hummus. The kids usually enjoy the garlic hummus that I buy but only Becca liked the roasted red pepper hummus this time around. I think I prefer the red pepper hummus over the garlic so am happy to finish the container off on my own!

Recently I tried a Beer Bread recipe from I'm a Frugal Girl. I absolutely love it as it is simple (no kneading or rising!) and tastes delicious. I served it with a tuna noodle dish but can't wait to try it with chili or other soup. I even had the leftovers for breakfast the next day. It was great warm from the oven but a bit crumbly. It firmed up overnight and was easier to cut the next day so do not despair if you bake it a day or so ahead of time!

Beer Bread

3 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar
12 oz. beer
2 T. soft butter
1 garlic clove, minced

Mix dry ingredients, add garlic and butter. Add beer and mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why is Our Dog Wearing My Little Pony Panties?

Because her polka dot boxers are in the wash, of course!

Our Olde English Bulldog has had such a rough summer, after getting hit by a car and breaking her back leg in June. She had surgery with a pin placed in her leg. After 6 weeks they took the pin out but didn't like that it didn't look fully healed so put her in a splint. After two weeks she chewed the splint off, while also chewing her leg raw. The vet decided to just let her leg be after that as the x-rays looked pretty good. She still wasn't using her leg, at all. I would massage and manipulate her leg, trying to get her to use it, with no luck. I was resigned to the fact that we would probably have a handicapped dog.

Last week she finally started to walk on the tip toes of her left rear leg and now uses the leg about 5% of the time. It will take time for her to become comfortable using her leg again and time for the muscle in that leg to gain strength. It is a start and I am thrilled!

Because of the whole ordeal with her leg this summer the vet and I did not want to put her through a surgery to get her spayed until after her leg was healed up. She was finally to the point where we could get her spayed when I noticed that she was in heat this past weekend. It turns out that you can't spay them during their heat as it is a much more intensive surgery. So now we have to wait, and go through another heat cycle which is no fun at all.

We can't leave her outside in the kennel as she barks when in there. We can't confine her to a crate either. My last option was to buy doggie diapers but the nearest pet store that carries them is 45 minutes away and I haven't been able to go out of town yet. I had no idea what to do except put a baby gate up in the kitchen since that floor is washable. Until a friend mentioned how an old pair of panties with a menstrual pad works just as well as the doggie diapers, and is much cheaper.

Weezy is now wearing a pair of undies handed down from Becca and it is working just fine. Those doggie diapers are insanely expensive and since this underwear was going to be thrown out anyway (since Becca outgrew them) it is not only frugal, but green as well. It's not easy to wrangle her into them each time she comes back inside, but just two more weeks...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is Breastmilk Always Best?

Recently a baby in Minnesota lost his mama when he was just a week old. The father knew that his wife was adamant about giving her baby breastmilk and wanted to continue to do so after she passed away.

Fast forward a few weeks later to when Mckmama of mycharmingkids.com put together a breastmilk drive for this wee one. She sent a shout out and many mothers responded by pumping and donating milk to the father of this baby.

It is amazing to see so many breastfeeding mothers come together to support a father who wants to do the best for his child.


the milk drive that Mckmama pulled together is causing a great deal of controversy. And rightly so.

My personal opinion is that breastmilk is best for a baby. After all, it is the way God intended for a baby to be fed and is geared specifically for each baby. The nutrients are far superior to formula. This is not to say that a mother who formula feeds is a bad mother; formula vs. breast is a personal decision (much as organic vs. traditional foods is). If I was unable to breastfeed my own babies I would consider buying breastmilk from a milk bank (if I was a millionaire, that is...this stuff is expensive!) or accept breastmilk from a long-time trusted friend or family member.

I would not accept breastmilk from a total stranger.

There is a reason that breastmilk from a milk bank is grossly expensive. The mothers and the milk have to go through a rigorous screening and testing process. Health is monitored, milk needs to be stored and transported a certain way. This is for the safety of the infant. Breastmilk expressed and stored incorrectly can cause an infant to get sick or miss needed nutrients that should have been in the milk. Mothers with health issues (HIV, Hepatitis, etc.) can pass those illnesses along in their milk. Mothers on certain medications or with alcohol or other substances in their milk can be a danger to the baby receiving the milk. There is a reason that milk banks have a testing process in place.

I think Mckmama's heart was in the right place but that her plan was executed much too quickly without a whole lot of thought behind the specifics. Could she not have raised funds instead for this father so that he could have purchased milk from a milk bank? Could she not have organized a group of women in his own town that could go through testing and then donate their milk to him? Collecting breastmilk from complete strangers with unknown histories is a danger. Who is to say what is in those breastmilk storage bags that she collected for this infant?

I wouldn't give my baby breastmilk from a complete stranger that had not undergone a complete blood work test and health written statement from her doctor any more than I would eat a sandwich given to me from a stranger at the door.

In this case, it seems, Mckmama is putting the horse before the cart. Untested breastmilk from strangers is much more risky and unhealthful than formula. Mckmama hasn't stopped to realize that in her quest to help this infant she could be causing a great deal of harm by the route she is taking of collecting breastmilk. She seems to be promoting the idea that any and all breastmilk is better than formula, when that is not even close to the reality. Breastmilk is not always the best, in my opinion, if there is a danger to the baby from unscreened strangers.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


In our local free classified newspaper there is a section called "$75 or Less". As long as the item you are listing is $75 or less the cost of the advertisement is free. I often laugh at some of the advertisements as they seem like a joke. For example, today we have:

Hardcover cookbook, excellent condition, variety of food recipes. $15

Jigsaw puzzle for ages over 12 years, 25 cents

Scooby Doo complete twin size bedding set $50 (I don't think these are even near $50 new)

VHS movie $5 (it doesn't even list what movie!)

These are all different people, so I can't blame it on just one person. I almost feel like calling about the jigsaw puzzle and offering them 10 cents, if they can deliver.


No, I'm not saying that I'm mindless, though some of you may beg to differ (in which case, why are you reading my blog?! :).

I'm talking about mindless eating. I was doing so much better with my eating recently. I have had more energy and was not beat by the end of the day. Actually, for the first time in a long while I have not felt like plopping into bed by 10pm and have been staying up to midnight lately. Because I had the increased energy. I didn't even have to drag myself out of bed in the mornings, even with the late night hours.

And then Sunday happened. This past weekend was one of those terrible gloomy ones. Rainy, gray, and chilly meant that we were stuck inside most of the weekend. My husband did take the kids out on Saturday to a park in between the rain and got them to spend a little of their energy while I stayed home and got a bunch done. But besides that productive few hours the rest of the weekend bombed. It was the type of weekend you just want to sleep away.

I was grouchy, grumpy and tired. I did stay on track until Sunday afternoon. My husband wanted to rent a movie for the kids so headed off to Walmart to the Redbox kiosk. Stupid, dummy me told him to pick up some Chex Mix and something chocolate for snacking on during the movie. That's exactly what we did...snacked, and snacked, and snacked. Mindless eating is my destruction. My kryptonite. Well, mindless eating and candy corn.

I'm not beating myself up over the slip up. I've seen the light and what mindful eating can do to benefit the body. I just needed that reminder to keep on keepin' on. The results are so worth it.

On a side note, since I'm unable to rejoin TOPS right now due to having to be too many places on Tuesday nights I have decided that I have to buy a scale. While I initially said that I didn't want to focus on the weight or the numbers I realize that I need to see some progress. My increased energy is visible to me but I need to see more, so off to the store I will go this week for a scale.

Tell me, please, what your kryptonite is.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too Little, Too Much

Last week two small towns nearby had their city-wide garage sales. I was sorely disappointed with the selection and prices. Why, oh why, do people price old worn out clothing (not even good brand names!) for $1 or more? It's the type of stuff that you would expect to see in a free box, and wouldn't even consider taking.

The odd thing is that it is the richer neighborhoods that I find this happening the most often. You'd expect someone who could afford a $200,000+ house to not be dressing their children in Garanimals from the 90's. You certainly wouldn't expect them to price that clothing at $2!

Then I run into a garage sale with really nice stuff...that is terribly overpriced! A Bumbo seat for $20, or sweatshirts for $10. It is nice stuff, and I know that things cost a lot when new, but these types of prices are not realistic for a garage sale. Even at consignment shops you can't expect that type of return on your investment.

What about the sale that had a candle set from the dollar store priced at $3? Or an ugly little mirror with a crack in it priced at $8 (and no, it was not an antique!).

I have to really dig through a lot of garage sales to come up with a few good things. Sometimes it doesn't seem worth it, after gas money and all the running around. The thrill of the hunt and the really good sales keep me coming back for more though.

In each town wide sale there tends to be a couple places that has nice things and decent prices. I head to these places first. Out of the two city-wide sales this past week I only bought one bag of things, from one sale. I was able to get this whole bag of clothing for the boys for $10.75. It was 12 pieces of clothing.

Do you live in an area where there is a lot of overpriced junk? Maybe this is typical of most sales? What was your best garage sale find ever?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stop. Think. Smile.

There is a saying that goes "Be kind, for everyone is facing their own battle."

I'll be the first to admit that I often am quick to judge. It's something that I am totally working on. It helps to slow down and realize that we are all just human. A bad day can throw us out of whack and make us snap at a store clerk, be rude to a neighbor, yell at our child, or be mean to our spouse. It happens.

I was reminded yesterday of how everyone is dealing with something. While waiting in x-ray with Jacob (which, by the way, his tests were the same as last year...and no change is good in these cases!), a man walked to the counter and said he was there for his full body scan, as he was finished with his CAT scan. My mind went straight to cancer, as I am familiar with the steps of the scans having had many family members go through the same process. The man sat down and grabbed a magazine to read while he waited, so I studied him for a bit. He was alone. He had no wedding ring so I can't say if he is married or not. He didn't seem too nervous, until I noticed his twitching foot.

From the outside he seemed to have it all together. Had I not heard him mention what he was there for I would have assumed it was a basic routine x-ray of some sort. And yet, assuming that he was there for tests to locate cancer or see what has spread or what was going on in his body, I can only imagine the turmoil that he was facing within himself. His own personal battle.

We humans are good at hiding emotions. Our emotions will often come out in other ways. Snappy comments, rude remarks, wrongful actions. And that is why I am making a considerable effort to remember to be kind, for everyone is facing their own battle. It's not personal.

I've had days that couldn't seem to get any worse. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. The slightest thing could either send me over the edge or light up my world. It's truly amazing that the slightest effort on someone else's part can either make or break a person. A kind word, a warm smile, or a compliment can get one out of a foul mood. Or a run in with a rude, condescending, hateful person can make your day just that much worse.

The question I keep asking myself is 'Do I want to be that kind word and warm smile, or the rude, condescending, hateful person?' After all, everyone is facing their own battle. A life is only worth living if you can make a difference in those lives around you. And the next time that store clerk is rude, remind yourself that maybe her car wouldn't start that morning, she could have been up with a teething baby all night, her husband could have just left her, a parent or loved one could have just died. Give someone a genuine smile, hope that it is contagious, and know that your kindness may have blessed someone else, instead of hindered them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Off to See the Wizard

Jacob and I are off today to see his Pediatric Cardiologist for his yearly appointment. Jacob was born with a heart murmur and after several tests he was found to have a bicuspid aortic valve. A bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is a defect of the aortic valve that results in the formation of two leaflets or cusps instead of the normal three. This is something that needs to be monitored to make sure it is not thickening or changing for the worse.

He could live his whole life with this condition and be just fine. Or when he is much older he could require heart surgery to repair the valve. Either way, even with this condition he is a healthy little guy with no side effects. It is one of those "watch and wait" type of things. As a matter of fact, many people have a heart murmur and are walking around with this very issue not even knowing they have it.

Today we will be meeting with the Cardiologist and doing the regular tests of an EKG, sonogram, and possibly another x-ray of his heart. Sine he is rarely sans little brother and big sister he will be treated to lunch out with mom afterwards. Here's hoping that everything is looking good on the tests this year...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Freeze Frame

We are planning our fall portraits to be taken within the next week or two. Our fall portraits will also be the photos that we send out with our Christmas cards so we will be killing two birds with one stone.

The nice thing about this whole setup? My brother is the photographer, which means the kids are comfortable around him and I don't expect any tears or weird faces like the ones we have gotten before from other studios where the "photographer" tries sticking feather dusters in the kid's faces or yells "boo!" at them. That won't be happening this time around!

Yesterday we had a test run, to try out a few poses and look at different styles of photos. I had to share a few favorites:

The next two are just extras for your viewing pleasure. This one is an older photo with strange lighting. It wasn't intended to look this way but I thought it looked too cool to just delete:

This is the photo Jacob requested for himself. He wanted a battle scene, and he got one. It reminds me of a pathetic 1960's war movie!
I can't wait for our fall/Christmas/back-to-school/family portraits!
Photo credit: Daniel Kenyon, Kenyon Studio

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This & That

Since school has been in session I feel like my days are filled to the brim. While the actual book work with little ones is just an hour or less a day, there are activities throughout the day which keep them (and therefore me) busy. It's a good busy but at times lately I have felt my brain go to complete mush. I feel my brain is screaming at me *Circuit overload, must shut down*. Maybe it would help if I would write things down instead of trying to keep my to-do list, school lesson plans, appointments,what to have for dinner, etc. running through my head. After all, isn't that exactly why they make To-Do List notepads?!

Fall is in the air. Leaves are turning colors and the air in the morning is crisp and delicious. I love fall, I truly do, but it is a reminder of what is yet to come - winter - which is a season which I dread. I'm not hyperventilating about winter so much this year as I have grand plans to head to a warmer region in the middle of winter. Let's hope those plans can become a reality.

You know it is lovely weather when the blankets and sheets are flapping in the breeze...

and the boys are building forts (of some sort) in the backyard.
We spent much of the afternoon yesterday at our homeschool meetup. We are lucky to be able to meet at the perfect park which is all-age friendly. There aren't many around here that aren't death traps for a toddler so while scouting parks out this summer I was thrilled to find this one, which is just 10 miles away. I had every intention of snapping some photos of the kids at the park today and completely forgot about my camera in my purse when I left it in the van. Just another sign of circuit overload!

The kids had a blast. It seems that there are new kids at every meetup and everyone meshes so nicely that no one is left out of any of the activities. Whether it is playing board games, playing a game of ball, or playing on the playground equipment - they do it all.

I finally received my other two ThredUp purchases late last week. I've written about ThredUp here in detail. Basically, you trade clothes through this site and pay just $13 shipping for a box of new-to-you clothing. I'm a bit torn about the site as of late because I found out that they are raising the "cost of a box" to $15.70. I don't know if trading a box of my own children's clothes and paying $15.70 for a box in return is such a good deal. Some of the boxes people receive are great and would be totally worth the $15.70, but some boxes are not worth that at all. I can get a lot of clothing at a garage sale for less than $15.70. When the price increase happens (Sept. 24th) I doubt I will be doing any trading, unless I am looking for something very specific that I can't find elsewhere.

The boxes I received were worth the $13 this time around. The picture below shows only half the stuff that was in one box, the rest is in the wash for Becca to wear. Nice brands such as Cornelliki, Gap, and Children's Place:
This box was stuffed with 11 pieces of Gymboree:
I have one credit left and will be saving it to find a box of 5/6 boys tops as Jacob is in need of those for this coming winter. After that?! I won't be jumping at a chance to get a box when it is raised to $15.70.

I am preparing for a garage sale next week and have been clearing out dressers, drawers, closets, and bookcases. I am also looking forward to some city-wide garage sales in the upcoming weeks. These are the last of the season so I better get my fill now!

What have you been up to this September?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Italian Subs

My husband and I love the Italian Subs that the restaurant East of Chicago makes. We don't have any East of Chicago chains here...well...because we are west of Chicago.

I finally found the right combination that tastes almost exactly like the Italian Subs! I used to use small, individual buns to make it but like the recipe I used on Saturday much better, so will be sticking to that from now on.

1 loaf of french bread

Hard salami, pepperoni, and ham slices

tomato slices

diced onion

shredded mozzarella cheese


Italian salad dressing

Slice french bread loaf halfway. Lay meats on one side of bread. Layer onions, tomatoes, and cheese on other side. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Once out of oven, sprinkle with shredded lettuce and pour Italian dressing over the sandwich. Close the sandwich "lid" and cut into manageable pieces. Enjoy!

This sandwich is messy but oh so yummy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Two loads of laundry hung on the line...check

One load of laundry folded and put away...check

Menu written out, grocery store run...check

Breakfast and lunch made...check

Kitchen and bathroom floors mopped...check

Playroom organized...check

Toys picked up out of living room, office, and dining room...check

One more box packed up for garage sale...check

Dishes, laundry taken down from line, supper all still needing to be done.

Going to visit my Grandma after all this is said and done and relaxing with family...priceless.

What have you been up to this beautiful Saturday?

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Step In The Right Direction

I'm feeling a bit better today, as opposed to my piggy self of late.

For supper last night I had a big salad. For a snack I had an apple. I took a 2 mile walk with my dog and sister. The only thing I am disappointed about is my water intake; I really need to force myself to drink enough water and didn't do as well as I should have yesterday.

The best achievement thus far? Yesterday when I went shopping I really, really, really wanted some candy corn. It is a weakness of mine and considering it is only available about two months out of the year I tend to overindulge. It isn't the plain ole candy corn (which I do find in stores year round) but rather the autumn mix candy corn. Those chocolate candy corn pieces and little pumpkins are scrumptious. I promised myself to cut the sugar way down, and I was determined to stick to the challenge.

I walked by the candy corn display and only paused for a moment before continuing on my merry way. I was proud of myself...until I saw a lady ahead of me in line with not one, not two, but three bags of autumn mix candy corn in her cart.

She was beaming with a happiness that only those with three bags of candy corn in their cart can beam. I thought to myself 'I could be happy too if I went back and put three bags of candy corn in my cart'. She was glowing. 'I could glow too if I had candy corn!' I thought. She looked as though she didn't have a care in the world. 'All my problems could go away if I just go back and grab some of that darn candy corn!' my brain shouted at me.

Then I snapped out of it. She didn't just have candy corn in her cart - she also had cases of soda, bags of Doritos, and a bunch of other junk food. That was me just a few days ago! That junk doesn't make me happy, it makes me feel like junk.

I walked out of the store candy corn-less and actually looking forward to the organic apples that I bought...for just 79 cents a lb.!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I've Fallen...

...off the wagon, that is. The healthy eating, mindful of body wagon.

I've even quit TOPS for the time being. I didn't want to quit TOPS, mind you, but this summer has been incredibly busy so I was unable to fit the weekly weigh-ins and meetings in. Then when the kids joined Tae Kwon Do it was pretty much impossible to go since it is at the same time as TOPS and someone has to be at home with Joe. Even if I could go to TOPS I would be scared to step on the scale now.

The thing is, this past spring I was at the exact weight that I felt comfortable at. My clothes fit perfectly, I had more energy, and I felt healthy. Now, not so much. I bet that I only gained five pounds or so but my clothes are feeling a bit tight and I feel so blah. I'm not eating the right foods and not exercising enough.

Actually, this is what I feel like...

My summer was quite stressful. Recently more stressful events have taken place. When I'm stressed I eat. Add to the fact that I had a raging case of PMS last week where I wanted to shove every bit of food in the house into my mouth and also felt like murdering everyone for the littlest thing and we can come to the conclusion that things have taken a downward slide in the healthy department.

It is hard to dig yourself out of the pit of despair. It is a vicious circle...I get stressed therefore I eat, I eat crap therefore I don't feel good, I don't feel good therefore I don't feel like fixing healthy food, I don't fix healthy food therefore I feel like a pig, I feel like a pig therefore I am stressed...

Not fun. Not productive. Something needs to change.

I don't have a scale at home so I can't chart my progress. Here's the thing though, right now I don't want to focus on weight, but rather how I feel. Right now I feel like crap. My goal is to not feel like crap.

Today marks a new day and I am going to challenge myself to get back into healthy mode. Better foods. More exercise. A lot less junk. My goal is to get back to where I feel comfortable with myself; where I have energy and feel healthy.

I will begin with going to the grocery store today and picking up healthy foods. I will take a long walk today. It's a beginning...and I need a new beginning! Because right now I feel like a pig.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movin' On Up

As you may have noticed, I'm changing the layout of the blog. Unfortunately, I am having major issues with the layout program and every time I try to access the program it shuts my computer down. I'm stuck about half way through my redesign so please bear with me as I try to get it to where I want it.

We signed the two oldest up for Tae Kwon Do a little over a month ago. We wanted an activity for them that would be fun but also teach discipline and respect. Our tiny town doesn't have a whole lot to offer in the way of children's activities but we feel we have made a good choice as the kids are enjoying it greatly.

They have already been able to test for a new belt and just tonight received a white with yellow stripe belt. They are no longer newbies! They were so proud at the belt ceremony where they were applauded and handed their new belt from the instructor. I wish that I had photos of the ceremony but I had to stay home with Joe and my husband didn't think to bring the camera. I do have these two photos of the kids on Saturday right before they went off to their belt testing. They were both excited and nervous.
Besides Tae Kwon Do, we will be signing them up for 4-H Clover Kids. They also go to the homeschool get together that we have twice monthly, so those worries about "un-socialized homeschoolers" that so many have is unfounded. :)

Looking at the kids today I realized that my babies are growing up! When Becca smiled at me with her two missing front teeth I glimpsed that little baby I used to have within the body of a big girl. It's bittersweet in the fact that some days I can't wait for them to just act a little older, and other days I want to make time stand still. The emotional battle of being a mama...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homeschooling? Don't Forget to Sign Up!

Public and Private School children sometimes get some perks for being in school. One thing I remember as a child was the Pizza Hut Book It! Program where you could earn a certificate for a personal pan pizza for reading a certain amount each month.

Many businesses are now recognizing homeschoolers as students as well (it's about time!) and one of those places is the Book It! Program. Be sure and sign your homeschool up here for the program!

Make Your Bucket List!

There has been a lot of talk about "bucket lists" lately. There is a whole movie about two gentlemen who received a terminal diagnosis and go on to do things they wanted to do their whole life. I couldn't watch it as I really dislike movies with a sad premises.

I do think that "bucket lists" are a grand idea. I don't think that they are for the sick or dying, I think they are something that we all should make for ourselves. After all, we have just this one life to live and we should live a life that won't leave us with regrets. In reality, a bucket list is writing down your goals, hopes, and dreams for yourself...things that you want to do before "you kick the bucket".

I've talked to people that have no idea what they want to do in their life. When asked what is on their bucket list they respond with "I don't know". The saying "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow" is a great one.

My own bucket list is:

1. Visit all 50 states. I only have 9 of them down...so 41 more to go!

2. Buy a small acreage and be as self-sufficient as possible. Go back to the basics and be off the "system" as much as possible.

3. Raise good kids. They don't have to be unusually intelligent or grow up to be rich and famous. I want them to be good people.

4. Do something to change the world, or at least a small part of some one's world. One could say that I am changing my part of the world by raising my children, and I agree. There is so much suffering in the world though and I can see where there is so much more to do. Something such as a mission trip is a thought. We have also talked about fostering children someday. I want to make a difference. Too many people get so caught up in their own life that they can't empathize or see how others are struggling. I want to always try to put others first.

Okay, that's my list so far. Maybe I'll change it or add to it at some point but it's a good start. What's on your list?


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