Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Guardian--A Book Review

Sometimes I enjoy a total fluff read, a book that is just happy and doesn't make you have to think deep thoughts or work too hard to get through it.  The Guardian by Beverly Lewis is such a book.

Jodi is house-sitting for her cousin in Lancaster County.  One morning while out for a run, she discovers a young girl sleeping on the side of the road.  Jodi takes her home and tries to find out who this little girl might belong to.  Eventually, the path leads to an Amish family who is very grateful to have their missing child returned home.

The girl becomes attached to her rescuer--her guardian angel.  Jodi finds herself being drawn into the family, and the Amish community, through many twists and turns.  In the process, she finds peace, comfort, and direction for her life.  Her struggling faith is reawakened through the example of her Amish friends.

I really enjoyed this book.  It entertained, it had some twists, and it kept me guessing.  Up until the last few chapters, I saw the book going in one of several directions and wasn't sure how it would end.  The book made me want to sit down on my front porch with a glass of iced tea and watch horse-drawn buggies go by.

There is something magical about the simplicity of the Amish that captivates me.  Life with few possessions, raising children with few toys, where God, respect for others, an education, and hard work are central to a child's life.  The book made me want to transport myself to a simpler way of life.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers.  All of the opinions expressed in this review are mine.**

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hope...What Does That Even Look Like

There has been a lot of discussion about hope among my circle of friends lately.  What does it mean to have hope in Christ?  What does it mean to have hope for the future?  What does it mean to have hope for your every day life?  What does hope even look like?

I've been ruminating on this for a few weeks now and every day another little piece of the puzzle seems to come together for me until a picture is forming in my mind.

Yesterday I was chatting with my mom about the diet I am following because she recently purchased the Trim Healthy Mama book as well.  She was asking me what you would do once you got to your goal weight and were ready to eat "normal" again.  I told her about crossover meals, where you eat high protein, moderate fat and moderate carbs all in the same meal.  This is what you do so you stay the same and don't continue to lose weight.

To which I laughed.  Hahaha!!! I can't even imagine getting to my goal weight, let alone wanting to not lose more weight.  And so this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw a number I haven't seen in over eight years, I laughed.  I did a little dance.  And I realized that every time I step on the scale, I hope that the number will be smaller, but I have been disappointed so many times that I tell myself that it will be a higher number so I don't get my hopes up.  Or when I see a smaller number, I am excited, but doubt that it's for real.  Tomorrow it will go back up.  It's just a fluke.

I am doing this diet, following it 95% of the time, exercising, and seeing progress.  But in the back of my brain I am thinking that this won't really work.  I will just stall out after a few weeks.  I will never fit back into my wedding dress.  Etc, etc.

And then today I realized that this is how I approach God sometimes.  I sort of, kind of, maybe a little bit have hope that He will act.  But every time I pray, it's just like when I step on the scale--I tell myself that nothing will happen so I don't get my hopes up.  And then I am surprised and excited when God does act and my prayers are answered.

But this is immature hope.  It isn't the hope that God is calling me to have.  He wants me to have rock solid hope in both Him and in His ability to act.  It is easy to have hope for heaven and a future with God.  It is hard to hope that things will change here on earth.  It is hard to imagine that my Hubby's leg will ever miraculously be healed or that David will suddenly talk clearly without articulation errors.  It is beyond my imagination to hope that I will ever be as "fat" as I was back in high school (what was wrong with me back then when I thought I was so fat???).

And yet, these are exactly the things God is calling me to put my hope in Him for.  Hope for healing.  Hope for getting to a more healthy weight.  Hope for a future for my family both here on earth and in heaven.  God is telling me (us) that we are dreaming too small and praying too small.  God wants me (us) to dream big and pray big, hoping and believing and trusting that He will act.

When I pray, I am no longer going to pray with my eyes squeezed shut, afraid to see the answer like I do when I weigh myself.  I am going to pray with my eyes wide open, hoping, believing, waiting for miracles to happen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Problem Is Me

Image source

You know that moment when you realize that the problems you are having with your child, the ones that have been going on for a long time, the things that are destroying your relationship, are your fault? Ya, that was me this week.

I have a child that I have a hard time understanding because we are very different people.  Or I take them at face value because that's the way I am and only later realize there is so much more going on under the surface.  Or this child is constantly doing things that are normal for a child, but drive me crazy.  So I find myself constantly correcting, nagging, criticizing.

And then I am praying, asking God, what do I do with this child who seems to have a low self esteem, who thinks they are stupid and can never do anything right.  Give me wisdom, God.  I don't know what to do.  Hahaha!!!

God is awesome.

"Hey, Lisa.  Guess what?  The answer to your problem is simple.  You're the problem."


"Stop correcting.  Stop nagging.  Stop criticizing.  Unless it's actual sin, let it go.  When you see something good, say so.  When your child comes to you to tell you about their latest creation, stop and listen.  Ask questions.  Show interest and encourage them.  So what if it's about something you could care less about.  It means something to your child so it's important.  Give more hugs.  Give more smiles.  Give more attention that is positive.  When your child says they are stupid, give them a list of reasons why they aren't."

So this is what I am working on right now.  Strengthening my relationship with my kid.  Learning to understand them better.  Engaging in what is important to them.  Curbing my tongue when it's just something that's annoying and not actually wrong.

I prayed for wisdom and I got it.  Even if it wasn't what I was expecting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Learning To Do Dishes

I started having my kids do dishes on a regular basis a few months ago.  David does Monday and Thursday, Lizzy is Tuesday and Friday, and Joy does Wednesdays.  By dishes, I mean rinsing and loading the dishwasher with dinner dishes.  I have always handled the hand wash only dishes.

But then I started thinking...Dangerous business, thinking.  I was pretty young when I started doing dishes, except we didn't have a dishwasher.  We had a sponge and a sink full of soapy water.  If I could do dishes by hand, then my kids are definitely old enough to learn how to do all the dishes.

My kids did not agree with me, but I didn't take their opinion into account.

The first time I asked David to wash the easier dishes by hand, he looked at me like I was crazy.  He picked up the sponge and swiped at the dish.  "No, David.  You have to scrub like this."

He tried washing just a small part of each dish.  "David, do you see the food on this side of the dish?  You have to clean the whole thing."

He tried not rinsing.  "David, you have to run the dish under the water to get all the soap off."

I know when I was a kid, I was horrible at dish washing.  I would dip the dish in the soapy water, dip it in the rinse water, and then put it in the dish drainer.  No actual washing involved.  (Of course my mom made me come back and do the job correctly)

But honestly, it made me laugh to see how incompetent David was at dish washing.  And contrary to what my kids may think, doing a poor job will not get them out of the chore.  I will just keep instructing and making them do it all over again until they get it right.

Because I am that mom.  The insane one who makes her kids work.  Or the smart mom who makes her kids work because it means that one day soon I can turn the dish washing completely over to my kids and not have to do it myself.  Wow, wouldn't that be something?!

Monday, April 22, 2013

They Zip Up!!!

Sitting in the sun soaking up some vitamin D--In my skinny jeans

A month ago if you had asked me if I would ever be able to wear my jeans from last winter again that I talked about trying to fit back into this past August, I would have said the chances were not very likely.  I did the Couch to 5K program, I did a month of a whole foods fast, and nothing was working to get me back into my favorite jeans.

I went three months this winter not having one single pair of jeans that fit.  I refused to spend money to buy a pair of "fat jeans."  But mid-December I broke down and bought one lonely pair of jeans to tide me over until I lost the weight.  My old jeans sat in my closet taunting me..."Na na na na boo boo, you can't wear me."

A week into my Trim Healthy Mama diet, with 7 pounds lost, I decided to try on my old jeans just to see how much more I had to lose before I could fit into them again.  I pulled them on, buttoned them up and then let out my breath.  Well.  I could button them.  That was a start.  Of course I couldn't breathe so well in them.  But I could button them!  That's more than I could do a month ago.

Today, two and a half weeks into my diet, with 9 pounds lost, I tried the jeans on again.  I zipped them up, I buttoned them.  I let out my breath...and nothing.  What?!  No big blubbery belly hanging over the waist band of my jeans???  No stomach cramps from wearing too tight pants???


I emailed my mom and sister because I needed someone to celebrate with me.  Because this was a big accomplishment that sort of felt rather hopeless just a few short weeks ago.  And this is just the beginning.  One day I'm going to put on these jeans and walk right out of them because they're that much too big for me.

I spent a lot of years (almost eight of them to be exact) thinking that this whole weight loss thing was hopeless.  I lost the weight after having David, but not so much after having Lizzy or Joy.  Even when I tried the weight didn't budge.  So why is it working for me this time around?  I have no idea other than to assume that this plan actually works for me.  It's a way of eating that I can do for the rest of my life.

So yeah!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Numbers Don't Lie

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So I've been doing the Trim Healthy Mama diet for two weeks now.  Last week I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to have my blood work done both so I could have a baseline to work from and also to see if there were any hormonal problems going on that I needed to address.  I had the normal tests run plus I had my thyroid, estradiol, progesterone, and vitamin D checked.

The funny thing about blood work is that even when you think you are doing fine and feel fine, sometimes things aren't actually fine.  Like this time.  First my thyroid results came in showing that my T3 and T4 levels were low.  But my doctor said we were going to wait to see how my vitamin D level was before treating me for hypothyroidism.  I sort of scoffed at this, assuming my D levels would be just fine because I take 1000 mgs of vitamin D every single day and have been for the past two years.

The joke was on me this time--my level was at 21.5!  Ugh!  Stupid, sunless, northern climate of Michigan!  I was instructed to start taking a whole lot more vitamin D every day and then we will retest everything in 6-8 weeks.  My mom asked me if I was getting out in the sun--I may have made a funny face in answer.  Um, right.  It has been either cold or raining for the past...six months.  No, I haven't pulled out my bikini and sunned myself lately.  Maybe in June.  In the mean time, mega doses of vitamins are my only hope for raising my levels to something bordering on normal.

During those three days while waiting for my results, I was busy researching hypothyroidism and possible treatments.  I am not a big fan of long term medicine unless it is really, truly necessary.  So I wanted to know if this was something I could treat with diet and exercise.  Because I have been doing this THM diet for a whole two weeks now.  If I committed myself to it for the long haul (like, forever), and lost my excess weight, would that be enough to "fix me?"

My research proved inconclusive.  While being at a good weight can help, it doesn't usually make the need for medicine obsolete.  Shoot.  But the good news is that my research also revealed that the way I am eating now is the optimal way to be eating if there is to be any hope of correcting my hormones without drugs.  All except for two things...

Caffeine.  (Insert big sigh)  Caffeine is bad, bad, bad for your thyroid.  And just about everything else.  I knew it was time to kiss my Diet Pepsi addiction good-bye; I have been working toward it for a few months anyway by cutting back slowly.  So after all my research, I knew it was time to kick the habit completely even though I love my pop.  Monday I went pop free.  It hurt.  Somehow I avoided the normal excruciating withdrawal headaches, but I definitely did not avoid the aspartame detox symptoms.  My legs have been achy for three days pretty much non-stop.  I have to take tylenol before bed just so I can sleep at night.  And I am so tired!  So very tired.  Sometimes I wonder at myself and how I let myself start drinking this death-in-a-can in the first place.

Which leads me to the second thing I should give up that is even harder than pop.

Wheat.  Double ugh.  I know it's bad for me.  I can tell when I overdose on wheat products and bloat up like a balloon.  When I eat a wheat laden meal--like pizza--and watch my hands become full of a flaming red rash and wake up with arthritic-feeling fingers.  But I am Italian and I LOVE my wheat.  For the past two weeks I have cut out almost all wheat products from my diet and it has made a HUGE difference in how I feel (minus the last three days).  My hands have cleared up.  I don't feel bloated and I don't wake up with aching fingers.  I have replaced my wheat lust with other alternatives--pancakes made from oats, cottage cheese and egg whites; flax meal wraps; sprouted Ezekiel bread which doesn't seem to cause me any discomfort at all; and xanthan gum or glucomannan as a thickener instead of flour.  All new things I've learned from THM.

I will probably never go completely wheat free, but I am limiting it to special occasions--like Grandma's lasagna.  Ain't nothing going to keep me away from that.  And the occasional slice of pizza when my willpower is overwhelmed by the smell of my very most favorite food in the whole world next to Grandma's lasagna.

So we will see.  I have two months to give this way of eating a good faith effort to see if it can fix my thyroid levels and bring them back to normal.  I have two months of taking higher doses of vitamin D to see if I can get my level back into the healthy range even without tanning in the sun every day.  I'm glad I had the blood work done so I could see where I'm at--and despite all this discouragement, it was really great to see that everything else looks excellent (no high cholesterol or out of control sugar levels here, thank you very much).  It all just served as further inspiration to keep on with eating better even when it gets challenging.  (Like this weekend when we have a family dinner and I will end up in a stare-down with the dessert.  Just say NO, Lisa.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cheater, Cheater, French Fry Eater

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Sometimes a gal gives in and has a big fat cheat meal.  Even if she is losing weight and doing great with her diet.  But when the Hubs says, "Let's go to Wendy's for lunch," and the kids start cheering, and you hate Wendy's salads, you are left with cheating.  So I did.  I got one of their new asiago ranch chicken wraps and fries.

But then I came home and entered my food into MyFitnessPal.com and nearly threw up my lunch.  Ugh!  So many calories!  So much fat!  Combined with all those carbs!  Blah!  While it was tasty, I'm not sure if it was worth it.  My tummy is not all that happy with me right now.

And so I started thinking about all those times when we are faced with real life and have to make decisions about the food we eat.  It was too easy for me to discount Wendy's salads--they all have bleu cheese or chili on them (yuck!).  Or fruit--also yuck.  But I could have thought outside the box and asked for them to hold the cheese.  Or I could have ordered a side salad instead of fries with my sandwich so I was only eating half the fat and carbs.  Not great, but not as bad.

As I sit here thinking about my cheat meal, I just remind myself that it was only one meal and that I won't be making it a habit.  Tonight we are going to a potluck for dinner, and I have been thinking about how I will handle it.  It's hard to make wise choices when confronted with all those cheesy casseroles, carb-laden side dishes, and sugary desserts.  But it's not impossible.  I know that there will be at least one main dish I will be able to eat, and someone always brings a salad or cut veggies.  For dessert I will bring along a few pieces of Skinny Chocolate so I can have an on-plan treat.  I considered bringing my own food altogether, but I am not quite to that level of unembarrassment yet.

What I learned from my cheat is that it's okay to cheat every once in a while, as long as you get back up, dust yourself off, and get back on plan immediately.  The trouble only occurs when you decide-well, I cheated so I may as well blow the whole day off and eat what I want.  Wrong attitude!  That would get me nowhere except fat and unhealthy.

I am determined--DETERMINED--to fit into my pre-David jeans.  That would be 10 years, 3 babies, and 40 pounds ago.  Back in the day when I could still shop in the Juniors department.  Ha!  Wouldn't that make my daughters happy.  (Wink)

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Rather Boring Week

Sorry that this was such a boring week for new things.  We had a sick (or just allergies?) kid in the house--though I did get to administer an inhaler like ten times which is a new record.  Needless to say, our outside activities were stifled.  But I did get in some baking.

Sprouted wheat berries--Yes, it does look like a bowl of bugs

This week I did some experimenting in my kitchen attempting to make some Trim Healthy Mama approved baked goods.  I sprouted wheat berries, which is incredibly easy, threw them into the food processor with a little salt (which was incredibly messy), and turned them into rolls.  My first attempt was a bit of a flop.  I under baked them so they were still gooey on the inside.  Next time I will bake them even longer.

My next kitchen experiment involved making flaxseed meal wraps that called for 3 T of egg-whites into an egg-free food.  While I can eat eggs without going into anaphylaxis, I do have to be careful with them because too much makes me break out in hives.  I decided to do a test making up three alternate recipes using various methods of egg substituting to find the one that worked the best.

For 3 T of egg whites, I substituted 1 T flax meal and 3 T water; 1 T soy flour and 2 T water; and 2 T kefir.  The kefir was a big fat gloppy mess that I ended up just throwing away.  The soy flour turned it into a crispy cracker that was actually really tasty.  Joy ran off with half of it declaring it delicious.  But definitely not suited for being a wrap.  The flax meal option did turn out a fairly decent wrap, though it was not as flexible as the egg recipe.  So I decided to bake it in the microwave a little bit longer and turned it into a tostada.

But by far, my greatest accomplishment this week was sticking to a new eating plan without cheating even once for an entire week.  I turned down cookies, mashed potatoes, tortilla chips, banana bread, and a whole menu of delicious foods when we went out to eat--I ordered a salad and a bowl of plan-friendly soup.  I just kept reminding myself that cheating would only slow down my weight loss, so buck up and say no.

Hopefully next week we can get out of the house and do something more exciting than kitchen experiments.

Week 32 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream
Week 23--The Reluctant Servant
Week 24--Snow Day!
Week 25--I Hate Change..Even if it Does Present Me With New Opportunities
Week 26--Bribery and Cooking With Kids
Week 27--Best Laid Plans Interrupted
Week 28--Gluten Free Bread Baking

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Did You Hear That Noise???

If you heard a loud shout sometime around 6:30 am this morning, that would be the sound of my excitement when I saw a weight on my scale today that I haven't seen in three years.  I know because I've been tracking my weight on fitday.com since 2004.  I've only been on the Trim Healthy Mama plan for a week and I have already dropped 7 pounds.  I am very, very excited!

The plan is so easy.  Eat either higher fat or higher carb, but not together.  Always with protein at the center of each meal.  For an example of what I eat, here is yesterday's food log.

Breakfast: Flaxseed wrap, Jenni-O extra lean ground turkey, shredded cheddar. (S meal)

Lunch: Plate of lettuce topped with shredded beef, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and salsa. (S meal)

Snack: Handful of peanuts, Whey protein shake (S meal)

Dinner: Corned beef and cabbage, strawberries (S meal)

Snack: 2 slices Ezekiel bread with 1 tsp all natural peanut butter and 1 TBSP Polaners All Fruit with fiber jelly

Drinks: 1 can Diet Pepsi (A habit I am almost done kicking), 1 quart water with 2 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar and a piece of fresh grated ginger, plus lots of regular water

I entered all my food into My Fitness Pal and realized I didn't get enough calories in yesterday--only 1,387.  Which is funny because I felt fine the whole day.  But the food diary doesn't lie, so I will have to be sure to add in frivolous fats or proteins into my day if it looks like I'm headed that way again.  I don't want my body to go into starvation mode so I want to keep my calorie count to around 1,500.

They may look sort of pretty, but they didn't turn out so well

But with every new way of eating, there have to be some big fat failures.  My failure came in the form of trying to make homemade sprouted bread.  This is where you sprout wheat berries, grind them into a dough, bake them and then eat them.  While my bread turned out looking good, the insides were still gummy.  Oh well.  I will just stick with buying Ezekiel bread from the store.  While slightly expensive, at the rate of only consuming two slices a day, it's not a big deal.

If you have been struggling with trying to lose weight and haven't had success, this is a great plan to try.  It's easy, it lets you eat both fat and carbs, and it includes lots of dessert options (using stevia or truvia to sweeten).  If you live local, I might even let you borrow my book for a few days if you ask nicely.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Me On A Diet

I get a magazine called Above Rubies and kept seeing an advertised book written by the magazine founder's daughters called Trim Healthy Mama: A Common Sense Guide to Satisfy Your Cravings and Energize Your Life by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.  The book looked interesting as I glanced through the available samples, but I was put off by the cost, $35 (the book is currently $31.50--the price went down the day after I bought it), and the sheer size of the book--over 600 pages.

A nice big book, packed full of great information

But then last week a status popped up on my Facebook page about someone who had been following the book's advice and had lost 30 pounds in four months.  Well.  My interest was piqued.  I read the reviews on Amazon.  I did a Google search and read around ten blog reviews of the book.  I checked out Trim Healthy Mama's Facebook group.  And I found myself hitting buy and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new book.  (It is amazing how impatient I have become waiting for things to ship to my home thanks to an Amazon Prime membership--I only had to wait two days for the book to get here, but it felt like an eternity).

Once the book got here, I ended school early and sent the kids outside to play so I could cuddle up with my gigantic book, a notepad, and a highlighter.  The authors make sense.  Their premise is that insulin is the problem and that we need to eat in such a way as to keep insulin regulated.  Plus, our bodies will store fat if we each both glucose and fat at the same time.  There are a lot of scientific reasons for this, but I won't go into them.  

The steadfast rule of the program is:

Never include large amounts of both fats and carbs in the same meal unless you are trying to gain or maintain weight.  In other words, don't tandem fuel.

They then instruct you to eat either Satisfying meals--meals that are higher in fat, but have less than 5 net carbs or Energizing meals--meals that have up to 45 net carbs from the healthiest sources but are low fat.  You can mix and match the meals as you desire, but for each meal you eat either a higher fat S meal or a higher carb E meal.  For all meals you always have protein as your base.  

And then they have the Fuel Pull meals that are high in protein but are both low carb and low fat.  They are neutral meals that you can eat at any time.  But the S and E meals should have at least a 2 1/2 hour break between them to give your body time to digest the fuel source before switching to the next.

There is a whole lot more to it (obviously since the book is very big), but that's the highlights of the program.  To me it makes sense.  Eating only one fuel source at a time enables our bodies to fully digest it without adding extra fat to our bodies.  Switching between the two types keeps our bodies from getting used to one style of eating.  I have done both low carb and low fat diets.  I always lost weight right away but then hit a plateau because my body got used to eating that way.  Not to mention the intense cravings for either carbs or fat.  

I started the program half-heartedly on Friday.  Circumstances made it necessary to eat "normal meals."  But since then I've been following it completely right down to my Skinny Chocolate made from cocoa powder, coconut oil, and Stevia.  It was hard to resist a plate laden with Grandma-made cookies and other desserts Friday evening, but I just kept reminding myself that I had plan-friendly chocolate waiting for me back in my freezer.  I came home and promptly ate a piece.  

This morning I saw a recipe for a flax seed meal wrap and just had to try it.  I made it up quickly in the microwave and stuffed it with cheese and extra lean ground turkey sausage.  It was really yummy.  I have found my new favorite breakfast (assuming my body can tolerate the 3 Tbsp of egg white I gave it.  I might have to figure out a different option for the eggs--More flax?  Ener-g egg replacer?), but for those who don't have egg allergies, this is a surprisingly good wrap.

It's still early days yet, but so far my body is happier, my energy level has improved, I haven't had any sugar highs or lows, and I've lost 4 lbs since Friday.  A very good start.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Finally Did It

Dying Easter eggs

It's been a busy week over here.  On Saturday we welcomed a new nephew/cousin into our family--and he is really rather cute (I'm not in the least biased).

Hubs and our new nephew

Sunday we celebrated Easter with the family.  We dyed eggs, we had yummy lamb (my SIL is the new official maker of lamb in our family), we celebrated Christ's resurrection; it was fun.

The beginnings of our garden

Wednesday our first batch of garden seeds starting sprouting and now we have our "weed" lab up and running, as Hubby likes to call it.  We have four different types of tomato plants and some red pepper seeds growing.  This weekend I will be starting some herbs to transplant, and I will do direct sowing of cool crops--spinach, lettuce and radishes.  I can hardly wait to pick fresh produce out of my garden.

Fun at the zoo

Today we went to the zoo with friends.  The kids always love the zoo, but this time was even more memorable because one of my other SILs (the lamb-roasting one) brought my four month old nephew to the zoo for the first time.  He didn't really get it, but the kids enjoyed making him smile.

But for sure, the big news over here is that last night....Drum roll please........We FINALLY had our guest come over for dinner that I tried to have over last month.  Yeah!  I think along with God's message to me that it was time to start having people over, He also gave me a special grace to entertain without stressing out.

My usual MO for having people over is to stress out.  I run through the house cleaning everything which involves lots of stern directives to the kids to pick up their stuff, stressing over what to make and worrying that it won't turn out, anxiety over what we will talk about over dinner, etc.

This time none of that happened.  I even was crazy enough to invite two little girls over for a play date that morning.  I cleaned up the house in under thirty minutes, had dinner all planned out without any stressing (and it all was ready right when she walked in the door), and I just let the conversation come naturally.  I even talked and asked questions.  Hubby will tell you that I sometimes have a habit of letting him carry the conversation because I'm a bit shyer than he.

Yup, I was definitely feeling a special grace last night.

Overall, we are generally very hospitable people and have guests over on a regular basis--we just always invite the same sets of people.  In our almost eleven years of marriage, I can count on one hand how many times we have invited people over from outside that small group.  Mostly because of my own fear--I will freely admit that talking to strangers or people who I don't know well has been known to cause me to skip events or be less than willing to open our house to others beyond our circle of friends. But part of this whole transformation thing God has been working in me has made me more open to meeting new people.

Today I sat down to have my prayer time and asked God, "Who's next?"  Because it was kind of exciting to have someone new over.

Week 31 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream
Week 23--The Reluctant Servant
Week 24--Snow Day!
Week 25--I Hate Change..Even if it Does Present Me With New Opportunities
Week 26--Bribery and Cooking With Kids
Week 27--Best Laid Plans Interrupted
Week 28--Gluten Free Bread Baking

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


You can't be serious

Can you hear it???  The whining and crying coming from my house???  That horrible, loud, obnoxious sound would be the cries of my children in reaction to their new school work load.  They aren't complaining about the content of the work, just the amount.

Clearly I have been too lenient with them.

We ditched our old curriculum and started over with Preparing Hearts For His Glory from Heart of Dakota.  I suspected that our old stuff was a bit lax in teaching essential skills, but I didn't realize it was this lax.

"I have to look up vocabulary words in the dictionary?!"

"I have to draw a picture of a dinosaur?!"

"I have to read my own school books?!"

"There's more work?!"

Geesh!  You'd think they'd never done school before.  We covered math, science, history, Bible, language arts (vocabulary, English and storytime), a history drawing project and a coloring project.  And the grand total time it took to accomplish all of their subjects today including throwing in our own spelling program?  Three and a half hours.  

My children have forgotten what it was like when they went to a brick-and-mortar school.  Back in the day when they did school all day instead of just all morning.  We had been doing school all morning before; it just involved a lot more work on my part versus on their part.  Which is why I hated the program because I spent so long reading their books to them, helping them with worksheets.  They just had to sit there and give answers at the appropriate time.  I learned a lot; they did not.

Suddenly they have to do most of the work all on their own.  Huh.  Isn't this how school is supposed to be???