Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 Things You Didn't Need to Know About Me


1) I cannot live without hazelnut chocolate in my life.  *Cue country song, "How do I Live" by Trisha Yearwood.* I am obsessed with any kind of chocolate, for that matter. Except chocolate cake. I can live without chocolate cake in my life. Given the choice, 9 times outta 10 I'll choose vanilla or white cake. I still don't understand it.

2) I get crazy ideas in my head that are completely unrealistic. For awhile I was dreaming about getting my master's degree and becoming a speech language pathologist. Then, I was thinking about advancing my piano training and going for my ARCT. Next thing you know I'm thinking about taking up the violin. Or cello. Or tuba. Or becoming a circus clown that plays the tuba. The last one might be feasible....minus the tuba.

3) I absolutely stink at wrapping presents. If you want to know which gift was wrapped by yours truly, just pick the ugly one.

4) Lately I cannot live without horseradish. I've been putting it on and in everything these days. In fact, I just excused myself from this blog post to go to the fridge and eat a spoonful of it. It is just so delicious.

5) No, I'm not pregnant.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Your Window Explodes...What Do You Do

So....you are sitting in your van with your family late in the evening, minding your own business, when you suddenly hear a very loud BOOM, sounding like a gun shot. You look at your husband and ask, "What was that?!" Then, the rear window of your van smashes into a trillion pieces and falls out.


WHAT DO YOU DO? (AKA..WHAT WE DID)

1) Panic. Assume you are under fire and shout at your husband, "GO! GO! JUST GO! What if someone's shooting at us? GO! Drive! Just get OUT of here!" Husband drives.

2) Shuffle through the freshly-fallen snow, enter your house, put the kids to bed, while ignoring the feeling that the air inside is a little...crisp.

3) Spend the next three hours cleaning up glass while stressing about the fact that you desperately needed the van this week.

4) Google things like, "Can a vehicle window randomly explode?" and "Cost to replace rear van window."

5) Crawl into your bed around midnight, exhausted. Immediately get back out of bed. You are freezing cold, so you put on your absolute warmest pajamas and your fuzziest house coat, warm up a heat pack in the microwave, and crawl back into bed with your heat pack. Exchange some friendly banter with your husband as he crawls into bed and comments on your "stinky wheat" heat pack, which has long been a hilarious bone of contention around here....LOL.

6) Husband comments, "Wow...it's cold in here. I'm going to go turn up the furnace."

7) Quip, "Yep, that's why the "stinky wheat" heat pack is a most-necessary bedtime accessory."

8) Husband suspiciously questions, "Why does our thermostat say it's 68 in here when it's supposed to hold at 70?" Husband proceeds to turn up thermostat and wait for furnace to kick in.

9) The furnace does not kick in.

10) Fiddle around with a few switches, check thermostat batteries. Try again.

11) Furnace still does not kick in.

12) Spend the next 3 hours attempting to get the furnace to turn on, going through manuals, and looking up troubleshooting furnace tips on the internet.

13) Discuss how a randomly exploding window AND a broken furnace all in the same night has contributed to it being a doozy of an evening.

Throw in the fact that
        1) It's the weekend, so businesses are closed.
        2) On Monday husband is working alone and has no lunch break for making phone calls or running errands.
       3) Tuesday is Rememberance Day, so that means businesses are closed.
       4) It's the first snowy, icy, cold week of the year. Thus, a broken furnace and smashed vehicle window are not exactly conducive to a comfortable, wintery week.
       5) Husband has to travel for work this week on roads that will likely be less-than-ideal.
       6) Car doesn't have winter tires on it yet...because
       7) He was planning on driving the van that already has winter tires, but van is now out-of-commission for long travel due to window exploding and cold, snowy weather.

14) Gather electric heaters and throw on a few more blankets.

15) Crawl back into bed sometime after 3 a.m.

16) Get up with toddler and baby several times in four hours.

17) And...it's 7 a.m. Sunday. Good Morning! Needless to say...we didn't make it to church....

18) Be extremely grateful for a kind and generous relative who has experience diagnosing furnaces and will come take a look at it and try to help, so we don't have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to hire someone to do it after normal business hours.

19) Find out the problem is likely that the circuit board is fried and that the 7 year warranty is 2 months expired.

20) Recall the several power surges that occurred in our city on Friday night and figure it likely wrecked our furnace.

21)Scratch your head, bewildered by what seems to be a series of rather unfortunate events.

22) Remind yourself, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Potty Training Award


I have just completed 3 days of potty training this mischievous munchkin. I am just tickled pink to announce that I have been awarded the very prestigious potty training award dubbed, "Mother Most Likely to Fail At Potty Training." I have a special place for this award. I'm sure it will look right smart next to my "Mother Most Likely To Give Birth to Babies Who Stink at Sleeping Well" Award.

Cue Applause


This kid...he don't care if he's wet....he don't care if he's dry....he just don't care 'bout nothin' to do with potty training....

I really wish we didn't have so much carpet around here...umm...yucky...


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blog Announcement

I have recently taken the next step toward a dream I've had for quite some time now....My very own self-hosted Wordpress blog! It's an idea I have been mulling over for almost a year now. On a whim last week, I decided to sign up for a free blogging class that also included a year's worth of hosting (an $84 value!) and my own domain. The blogging class is not normally free (I think it's normally around $25 for the class), but for one or two days, it was totally free. How could my ultra-frugal self pass that up!? So, for the next while, I will be embarking on a steep learning curve as I try to learn how to navigate the Wordpress waters. I'm so excited, though! I've come to realize that blogging really is something that I enjoy doing and miss when I don't do it, so why not dabble a bit more in my interests and branch out a little? I have some ideas for ebooks way back in my mind that maybe, maybe some day I'll end up writing. That's a pretty big maybe, though. And if that day never comes, it never hurts to dream, right!? :-). I plan on keeping the blog very similar to what I'm doing now. I hope to just be a bit more focused and consistent in my writing...and hopefully ensure my writing is "me." It will likely include a lot more tips on frugal living, recipes, homemaking, biblical encouragment, homeschooling, and a healthy dose of my daily, personal life as wife and mom. I can hardly wait! In the meantime, I'll still be here blogging here and there while working on setting up and transferrng content over to my very own .com.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Stomach Flu






Love these little munchkins so much! 

Thankfully we are all over the stomach flu, which took 9 days to make its way through our whole family. Honestly, I really hate calling it "the stomach flu." I want to rather call it by its technical term gastroenteritis, but then people would just think I'm weird, so I call it the stomach flu. It really bugs me to call it that, though. Like, I cringe just typing "the stomach flu." What's wrong with me? I've got issues, I know. Gastroenteritis The stomach flu meant going through 2 large pots of the most amazing chicken noodle soup. I have finally perfected my chicken noodle soup recipe...Mennonite style. I will share the recipe with you soon. I am thrilled to finally have the spice blend the way I like it. Unfortunately, this *ahem* gastroenteritis seems to have weakened our immune systems enough to allow a respiratory virus to take hold. Sorry, I just couldn't "stomach" the thought of referring to it as "the stomach flu" again....hardee har har. My husband is especially sick and is likely going to need to see the doctor soon if things don't take a turn for the better since it seems he has developed a bacterial respiratory infection. I can feel something brewing in my lungs/throat that I'm not too excited about either. 

As for Brielle's sleeping...no lasting improvement there, I'm afraid.  She is still waking up every 1 to 2 hours. every.single.night. As soon as I'm drifting off, the crying begins. I actually get anxiety over it every night because I just know it's coming the moment I lie my head down. Every night around 11 pm  to midnight, just before I fall asleep my husband hears me whisper, "My night shift is about to begin." It never fails - 5 minutes later, she starts screaming. Every time. How's that for optimism? Sigh. We shall keep trying, although I'm feeling terribly discouraged about it. Obviously. The other evening when she woke up again I let her cry it out for what felt like an eternity. She did, eventually, fall back asleep, but it took a very, very long time, and I felt pretty bad about it. I *think* I could handle it (whatever "it" is) way better if I could get 3-4 hours in a row once a week or so, but that's only happened once or twice in 8 months. Actually, 2 hours of sleep in a row has happened less than 10 times in 8 months...but who's counting. You may think I'm exaggerating the facts. I assure you that I am not. She sleeps worse than a newborn. The sleep situation really is that bad. I feel insanely, horribly irritable all the time....like my skin is crawling. That's honestly how I feel. Believe me, the sleep deprivation is bringing to the surface my ugly sinfulness and reminds me of what I wretched person I really am. Apart from Christ, I am nothing but a mess. Apart from Christ, I have nothing to bring that is of any value. HOW GRATEFUL I am that salvation is not based on anything I do but on  the work of Christ....His grace and faith in Him alone. I have to pray like crazy to not turn into a monster mom & wife and repent like crazy when I fail miserably. When I am tempted to make excuses my attitude and behaviour (which, I confess, I have done), I try to remind myself how tired Jesus must have been, especially the night before He died when He was praying in the garden, and yet He did not sin

I'm starting to sound like a broken record about this whole lack-of-sleep thing. I will try not to say much about it until there's something of great importance I think deserves reporting. I am going to try not to talk/complain so much about it. I will try. In the meantime, please pray for me. 

Moving on....

Our family is beyond thrilled about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement yesterday regarding tax breaks for single income families (in the form of income-splitting) and an increase in the Universal Child Care Benefit. Sure, it's likely a very strategic political move (let's not be naive....how is an extra chunk of cash a few months before the election NOT going to sway some people....But....don't tell me the other parties wouldn't do the same....it is politics, after all.), but we are not complaining about it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Quirky Little Jingle

Going on Day 7 of the stomach flu here. It's slowed down but not over yet, sadly. Staying up for almost 48 hours straight is no good. No good. Last night was not quite as bad, but it was still bad.

When 'da babies don't sleep, 'den 'da mamas don't sleep. 
An'den 'da mamas, 'dem poor mamas,  'deir minds dey don't keep. 

This is the kind of stuff that randomly pops up in my head...and yes, there's a tune to that little jingle. I am starting to realize that I'm an awfully weird person. Well, that's not entirely true. I've actually known it for quite some time now. Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile but don't know me in person probably really do think I've lost my mind and wonder if I've changed. I have a feeling, though, that those who know me quite well in person are not at all surprised that these are the kind of things that randomly pop into my head. They know me all too well. Now, so do you.

My heart is to blog about homemaking, frugality, home schooling, and biblical living. That has not changed. My love for the Lord and living for Him has not changed. But for the longest time, I felt like I was hiding my quirky personality and that my blog writing was not totally "me." I wasn't letting my personality infuse my writing. My values have not changed at all. It's just that in order for me to keep writing on here once in a blue moon, I need to quit worrying about people not liking me or my blog because they think I'm a little strange. The truth is...in real life, I am a little strange. a little quirky. a little weird. Or maybe a lot. I can see my relatives nodding their heads.

We have a substantial amount of life-stress going on right now. How do I deal with this? Well, not all that well all the time. But, really....prayer and reading God's Word. Even in the midst of my exhaustion, if I make the time to read even a few verses, I find that God's Word is balm to a tired body, mind, and soul, which should come as no surprise.

The occasional quirky little jingle doesn't hurt either.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sleeping...or Lack Thereof

After two nights of sleeping for 3 hours in a row last week, our system kind of fell apart with not being home enough over the last few days. Of course, we had good reasons for not being home :-). We enjoyed some visiting with relatives we don't get to see too often and also celebrated a niece's birthday.

After the 2 nights of semi-hopefulness, Brielle was back to her usual sleepless antics. I am seriously tired, dude. So tired, I'm saying dude. So tired, saying dude makes me laugh like a hyena. Dude is a funny word. Dude. bahahahaha. Okay, now I'm acting like I'm 10. Be quiet, Jenna. Seriously. See, I'm even talking to myself. I'm also hallucinating some days. I was absolutely convinced I saw a mouse scurry under my dryer the other day. Then, I saw something run across the floor yesterday. My first thought was mouse! Then, giant spider! Turned out, I had kicked a cheerio. Freaky little things, those cheerios are.

I fear I look like a walking dead woman most days. I'm afraid to go out in public or have to talk to anyone as all that wants to come out of my mouth is garbled up jibberish that make no sense. Gratefully, my Mom-in-law took my two oldest for an afternoon. Though the house was a disaster, I put Brielle in her crib to play and crawled into my bed for a nap. This morning, my husband offered to keep the kids occupied in the morning, and I had a two hour nap. I felt like a new woman after that nap. I'd like to feel like a new woman every day. Today, I was trying to get her back on track with her naps and bedtime. She ate a huge bowl of food for supper tonight and went to bed at 6:45 pm on her own, so I'm feeling hopeful. But, now she's crying.... Start the timer for 10 minutes. I feel hope slipping away...

In other news, I went to the doctor regarding my neck pain and numb/tingling/weird sensations in my arm. I have a cyst in my wrist that is causing my wrist pain. The neck/arm/shoulder thing is a little weird, but all basic neurological stuff seems to check out fine. I will be trying physio, massage, and chiro for that. It's kind of a pain. Literally. Why am I just so funny, sometimes?

Timer's up. Time to go. Toodles.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sleep Training Day 3 & Kindergarten

I am almost afraid to say it...

I think we are making progress with Brielle.

Today is Day 3 of using the Sleep Sense Program

Night 1...She went to bed around 6:30 p.m. (Yes, there was intermittent crying as was expected, and she didn't really settle into sleep for a longggg time.) It was much like previous evenings, but we handled it according the the book this time. I nursed her awake again at 11 p.m., she woke up at 12:30 a.m., again, crying. I changed her and put her back in her crib awake and followed the program with how to deal with the crying, but I did not feed her. She fell asleep again around 1 a.m. Woke up at 4:45 a.m. I ended up nursing her awake again around 5:00 a.m. since she really did seem hungry. She fell asleep on her own and then woke up for the day at 7 a.m. This is a HUGE improvement. I cannot even tell you how awesome it was to get 3 1/2 hours of sleep in. a. row. I'm feeling optimistic.

Night 2: I'm following the books suggestions for naps and daytime routines, etc. She had a pretty good nap in the morning (from 9 to 11). She pretty much has NEVER napped this well before, so I am shocked and amazed and thrilled. The afternoon nap did not go as well. I'm not really sure why. I am trying to figure out if she should be having 2 or 3 naps as she is borderline between the two it seems.
She went to bed around 7 p.m. I followed the book's suggestions again for dealing with the crying and waking up. I nursed her again at 10:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 a.m. After the 2:30 a.m. wake up, she slept all the way until 7 a.m. This is insane progress. Like, I can't even tell you how massive an improvement this is. I'm so excited. Too bad my 2 year old decides to protest and gets up a few times in the night and is up for the day at 6:15 a.m. (he has learned how to climb over his baby gate now....ugh. Seriously, child...). I am seriously frustrated with the fact that my 2 year old (who used to be a great sleeper) has decided to act up in the night. Just when Brielle starts to improve... If it wasn't for my 2 year old, I would have had one pretty awesome night.

Day 3: We are off to a great start. She was up happy at 7 a.m., ate, had breakfast, down for nap at 9 a.m. with very little fussing this time and is just starting to stir at 10:45 .

I'm so crazy excited, nervous, and hopeful that she will soon be almost sleeping through the night that I'm afraid to even mention it...I'm just praying this progress continues and that my son will stay in bed now, too.

Homeschool

This morning I ordered the Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum from Heart of Dakota. I really, really like what I'm seeing from them and still think out of all the curriculums I've looked at, it suits my teaching style and our family the best. In later years, it's pretty heavily-centred around American History, which is a concern I've had. However, in researching curriculums, I've found that there are lots of Canadians who still use Heart of Dakota and just supplement it with Canadian material. Next year, I plan on supplementing with Donna Ward's curriculum Canada, My Country. For now, we have just been doing school very informally. We've been doing a few phonics lessons a week from the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book. We are half-way through the book. By the end, she should be reading around a Grade 2 level. We are also reading lots of books from the library, including classics like Beatrix Potter and also non-fiction books, such as Canada's Arctic Animals as one example. I am eagerly anticipating my Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum to arrive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sleep Training: Day 1

After last night, I`d finally had enough.  After the usual bedtime attempts, crying it out, and the usual shenanigans, Brielle finally settled down at 1 a.m. Before that, she slept for 20 minutes here and there. Well between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., I was still up 3-5 times with her. Nathanael woke up at 6 a.m. and would not go back to bed. I probably got somewhere between 2 and 3 hours total sleep (not consecutive). This pattern has gone on for far too long. Though I`ve read 5-10 books about sleep training, today I was on the search for a sure-fire solution. I am desperate. I found one more book I had not yet read. The Sleep Sense Program. I bought the ebook version of it and spent most of the afternoon reading through it,  or at least through the most relevant parts. Honestly, it`s not rocket science. It pretty much the same thing I`ve read before, just packaged a little differently. It`s more straight forward than most of the books I`ve read, though. It`s a little more...here`s what you need to do, here`s what to expect. It`s a no-nonsense approach. Less theory. She says it like it is. It gives numbers, as in the number of minutes to do this or expect that. It gives me an idea of what`s reasonable. I like that. I need that. I have a good feeling about this one.

Tonight is Day 1. I`m preparing myself for a bit of a tough night. I`m hoping I`m stubborn enough to not resort back to the old ways of eventually becoming so tired that she ends up in bed with us at 4 a.m. The plan is to wean her cold turkey. No more co-sleeping. No more all-night-buffet. No, that does not mean letting her cry it out all night long. If absolutely necessary, I will feed her one time in the night, but only if absolutely necessary. I`m actually hoping to instead give her a bottle in the night if I have to. Even my trusted pediatrician has assured me that she only needs one feeding in the night (if at all) once I have her on solids. I put her to bed quite a bit earlier than usual (6:40 pm) tonight. It took only 20 minutes for her to fall asleep tonight after our bedtime routine. She woke up again 20 minutes later, though, and we were off to the usual protesting. Eventually we got her back to sleep on her own (without me nursing her). It took a long time, though. It will likely be a rough night. I *think* I`m mentally prepared for it, though.  I have a plan after reading the book. Insert self-talk. Okay...I can do this! I need to do this!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Gist of It

The other day I wrote a long post called "Something's Gotta Give." Perhaps some of you already read it. I decided to take it down off my blog. It just felt a little too much "woe is me." It's not that I didn't feel what I wrote...because I did. It's just that maybe I was a little too honest, as in, I told too much. Maybe I'm just feeling embarassed about what I wrote. I don't know. Blogging is a fine line between "keeping it real" but not airing out all your dirty laundry for all to read. That line can get blurry sometimes.

For those of you who didn't read it, here's the gist of it:

- My baby doesn't sleep.

- Physically, I'm not doing overly well. I've been having some strange symptoms lately.

- I've been troubled with a lot of anxiety/stress lately. This may be the cause of many of my symptoms.

-Things need to change around here.

What does this translate to?

I'm dedicating the rest of this year to getting things back in order around here. A real, focused effort to changing our habits. Working on getting Brielle to sleep better, potty training Nathanael, routines, boundaries, healthier habits for myself, etc. This means much less time online. I don't know yet how much less exactly. Being online...social media, etc just isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. The dynamics of my life have changed a lot since I first signed up for Facebook and started blogging. Our family has changed and grown. This season of life is especially busy, and so this little blog of mine has been neglected. I don't really feel bad about that, though. My time needs to be spent on other things, on better things....on people...my family...

Thanks for understanding,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

This week my menu plan is based on using up what I already have on hand or can make from scratch (such as the tortillas for the wraps). I'm going to do my best to avoid going to the grocery store this week.

Monday - Cheeseburger Soup (using leftover grilled burgers in the freezer)

Tuesday - Crockpot Pepper Steak & Herbed Rice

Wednesday - Grilled Salmon, Herbed Rice, Salad

Thursday - Leftovers & Mashed Potatoes

Friday - Pizza Night

Saturday - Crispy Southwest Wraps

Sunday - Leftovers

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quiet Evening Thoughts

I hear the pleasant chatter of neighbours outside as I breathe in the refreshing air of another beautiful fall evening. The dishwasher hums and swooshes in its methodical, rhythmical way, which is strangely comforting. On the cupboard a few dishes were waiting for me to handwash them, but I somehow managed to fit all of my stray pots and pans from supper into the dishwasher.  I love it when that happens.  And for the moment my three precious children are all sleeping, though only a minute ago I heard a sweet little squawk from Brielle. My hard-working husband is in the field, helping to bring in the harvest for another season. Though there is work for me to do...there is always work for me to do :-)... this introvert is enjoying a moment of rest and quiet contemplation amid the stillness of the evening.

Our home has been a bundle of busyness and stress as of late. It has been exhausting. Only family and our closest friends know the extent of it all. Physical and mental rest has eluded us for far too long. I long for days of routine, familiarity, calmness, and predictability. I pray those days will come soon. I caught a glimpse of those days the other evening when I snuggled up my kids on the couch to read a Beatrix Potter tale, a bedtime story read unhurriedly for once. Routine is comforting, not boring, to this introvert. Are you surprised I'm an introvert? Most who know our family would likely think of me as the extrovert and my husband as the introvert. I am far more introverted than I like to admit and am strangely surprised that I am not very extroverted. Being alone energizes me. Unless I am properly rested, being around people drains me, which pains me a little to admit that. That is not to say I can't talk a mile-a-minute and jabber most everyone's ears off when I want to, though.:-) My husband is the opposite. He is usually energized by being around friends and family, always up for a spontaneous adventure. He is usually calm and rather quiet in a crowd, but that is because he is not an attention-seeker and is far more self-controlled than I am. Though we are both first-borns, and so, naturally, we bring a double-dose of hard-headedness and stubborness :-), we complement each other and get along very well. We are very similar in many ways, and so we truly "get" each other's strange quirks, thoughts, and habits. We have been married for just over 9 years. I love him more than words could ever express. He is a fantastic husband and dad. Oh, life has felt rather tumultuous lately, but how much more bearable it is to sail the seas of life when you are riding its waves hand-in-hand with the one you love most, trusting the Captain all the way.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Babies Don't Sleep

6 1/2 month old Brielle is really not sleeping well. She's crawling, pulling herself up to standing while holding on to something, saying "dadadadada", but not sleeping. I don't know what my problem is, but my babies just never sleep well. Elianna was a horrible sleeper until she was probably 2 1/2 or 3 years old. Nathanael was a horrible sleeper until he turned a year old (when I quit nursing, he went from being up 3 or 4 times a night to sleeping 12 hours straight almost immediately). Brielle is up...oh...at least 5 times a night (as in 5 times within 8 hours). I put her to bed (or Craig puts her to bed) around 8 pm. She will sleep for approximately one hour and then at 9 pm, the crying fits start. I mean, she cries pretty much non-stop for 5 hours unless she's being snuggled or nursed if it's been awhile, although that doesn't even always help. My gut tells me that nursing-to-sleep/co-sleep thing that we were doing for awhile is a major part of the problem. My gut also tells me that she is having stomach-aches (as she can be very gassy), though I have not found the cause of that. Now, though, we try very hard to not do the nurse-to-sleep thing, but the sleep problem has not ended. She will sleep for 20 minutes up to an hour sporatically within those 5 hours. But from 9 pm until 2 or 3 a.m., it's pretty much impossible for me to sleep as it takes me at least 20 minutes to get to sleep and by that time her next crying fit has started. And no, I don't race in at the first cry, either. I have read every book out there to do with sleeping issues. I've tried cry-it-out, I've tried EASY, I've tried babywise, baby whisperer, pat and shush, gas drops, gripe water, giving a bottle. You name it...I've TRIED IT ALL!  Finally, at 2 or 3 am., she settles down a little bit and might sleep for 2-3 hours in a row if I'm very lucky. This stretch often happens with her sleeping not-so-soundly with me on the couch. This is the only way I've been able to get any sleep whatsoever.This happens Every.single.night. Her best night was probably when she was about 3 weeks old and slept for 4 hours in a row once or twice  No, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I'm barely surviving. I have a 2 year old and almost-5 year old to chase around all-day. Honestly, the last 6 months have been pretty brutal, and I am tired...bone-tired. My house is an absolute disaster.  I would do just about anything for 3 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep. Just.about.anything. Don't even talk to me about something crazy like 5, 6, or 7 hours in a row...

Our extended family has been a real blessing to us and has taken the older two kids for a few days here and there.They have baby-sat for me when I have had several appointments lately (I've had to go to the dentist 4 times, chiropractor 2 times, doctor once, and massage therapist once in the last month for myself along with dentist for my kids, immunizations, and doctor appointments for my kids).  My sister is amazing and comes and washes my dishes for me and helps me put the kids to bed. I can't imagine how I'd be coping without them! This, along with a pretty hefty dose of "life" stress that has been hounding us down lately, is the reason why this blog is on the back-burner. Very recently, I was flat out in bed for almost a week with an incredibly sore back. Driving down the road to go to the doctor had me pulled over with tears streaming down my face. The pain was similar to labour-pain. That's the only way I can describe it. I am SO thankful that I went to the chiropractor, who told me it was actually my pelvis that was out of place and he fixed my problem! I was a bit of a skeptic that the chiropractor does much good (don't hate me for that!), but now I'm on-board as he gave me almost immediate relief! I was shocked at the difference. It lasted 4 days and then went out again, but I went back and have been good now for another few days. Yes, I still have the "normal" back aches/muscle aches, but the excrutiating, debilitating pain that I was experiencing (I couldn't even sit at church) is gone. Praise the Lord! That was a big answer to prayer.

Any "spare" minute I have is used to either eat (which, like yesterday, meant scarfing down a few cheesies and an apple at 8 pm (I forgot to eat my own supper as I was feeding Brielle), shower (which doesn't happen as often as it probably should), or sleeping/veging-out. There is no time (and if there is ever "time", there is rarely the energy) for cleaning, exercise, hobbies, or the like. Play-dates, mom's groups, etc...at this point, I don't even have the energy for that. This is survival-mode at its finest (or worst). If you want to still be my friend after seeing me in this mess I'm in, physically and mentally, well, you are just too sweet. I know this post sounds far too whiny and complaining-like. I truly hesistated to even write it as I'd much prefer to write something edifying and encouraging. I really, really, really would like to say that thing are going "really well." But, truthfully, they aren't. I am not ungrateful for the many blessings I have and have found that focusing on those things helps keep my heart in the right place. Spiritually, I am doing "ok". God has seemed distant lately, but I know better than to depend on my feelings because by faith and through His Word I know He is near, cares for me, and loves me even though I don't always "feel" it. However, I feel like it's important for me to write this just so people can maybe understand why I have had to say "no" to so many things lately. All this stress and exhaustion is why we went to our parents' church in town yesterday instead of to our dear home-church (which is a drive out of town). It is not going to be this way forever. This is only a season. I am not depressed, though. I can find joy and laugh and smile during moments. I am just incredibly, insanely stressed-out and exhausted mentally and physically. I couldn't even remember my phone number when the chiropractor's clinic asked me.

On the homeschool front, we continue to focus on phonics and reading. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of not yet ordering our planned curriculum for this year and, instead, focusing on character training and reading/phonics. I found this Character First program here, which has enough free material to cover many character issues. We have plenty of kindergarten "workbooks" and a fantastic libary to supplement that. I have talked to lots of Christian homeschool veterans.You know what nearly all of them advise? Don't worry so much about the "curriculum" when they are so young and pushing curriculum. Focus on character, work ethic, Bible memorization, and read, read, read. I know our daughter picks up a lot from simply reading to her. We are pondering how to approach this all and figure out what works for us and where the Lord is leading. Both of us feel strongly the Lord pressing on our heart to invest more in building strong relationships with our kids and in biblical parenting/character training. Our most important task is to point our children to the cross and pray for their salvation, which does not come from homeschooling, following the right "curriculum" or even "character training" (though character is important) or Bible memorization but from the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Please don't get me wrong...we are not neglecting our children's education. We educate throughout the day in day-to-day life, are following a phonics program, and are just trying to figure out which way to go this year and what to "focus" on as she only just turned 5! She is young! Most kindergarten kids are going to school to learn the basics...how to follow the rules, respect authority, relate to others, communicate well, tie their shoes, act in an orderly fashion, follow routines, learn to share and play nicely, respect others, conflict resolution, how to cut, glue, colour nicely, create, draw, print, and basic phonics and math. We will cover all these and more...We are simply thinking of taking a less-traditional "curriculum" approach this year (or at least for the first half of the year) and focus more on character training and biblical principles.

There are plenty of professing Christians who know their Bible and know "good character traits" but are not truly saved. However, our job as Christian parents is to train up our children in the way they should go and teach them about the Lord and share and live out the gospel daily. Biblical principles and encouraging godly behaviour is important and plays a role in pointing our children to Jesus, but it will not save them! We cannot save our children...only the Lord can. (and because we will fail at godly character and producing the fruit of the Spirit without the Lord's help...this points us to the cross and shows that we are in utter dependence on Him as there is not one of us who is "good". It shows how desperately short we fall and how our only hope is that we can be forgiven our sins only through faith in Jesus and by His grace.)

Those are my scattered thoughts for today. Welcome to my sleep-deprived brain, which never seems to turn off...

 Coffee time...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kindergarten Homeschool Plans

What a busy, busy summer we have had. We have had a lot of stress in our life lately, and unfortunately we were unable to take full advantage of summer as I had hoped. Oh well, there's always next year...
Fall, however, is my absolute favourite time of year. September is probably my favourite month with its crisp, cool fall air.
Elianna starts kindergarten this year, and time just really crept in on me and I have not yet ordered the curriculum that I intend to follow this year. Despite this, we started "school" today, using her Pre-K book from Heart of Dakota, the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book, and a few workbooks I have around. Nathanael (2 1/2) had a great time doing "school', too. I am not too worried about it, and my main goal this year is character training (need to do a lot of work in this area with my oldest two) and to read, read, read, and have her reading.  We are about half-way through her phonics book, and though we took several few weeks off, she has not forgotten anything and read a short story today better than she has ever read before. I love listening to her read! I want to get into more of a routine, but for now, we are just playing catch up and fitting in school during the day whenever it works.

The Plan -

Piano Lessons
Music for Little Mozarts

School
We are going to be using Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory (this is an all-in-one curriculum/teacher's guide that is all planned out with additional activities. It is designed for an hour and a half of school a day and covers all subjects. All I have to do is follow the guide and order the material!). The following material is what I plan to use (ordered through Heart of Dakota).
*Math - Singapore Essential Math Kindergarten A & B
*Bible - Devotions for the Children's Hour & Daily Bible Reading (from curriculum)
*Phonics/Reading - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
                            - Bob Books (from library)
*Science - The World God Made
               - Canada Close Up Books (from library)
                - Various library books
*History - History for Little Pilgrims
              - History Stories for Children
              - Canada Close Up Books (from library)
*Printing - Handwriting K (kindergarten) ( A Reason for Handwriting)
*Fine Motor Skills - Rod & Staff's  Do It Carefully and Finding the Answers Workbooks
*Literature - Storytime Set
                 - Little House on the Prairie series
                 - Variety of Library Books

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama Update

I've been following the Trim Healthy Mama principles for a few weeks now and have lost 5 pounds with a LOT of cheating. Some of you may recall that I attempted this before I became pregnant with Nathanael but fell off the wagon rather quickly. I don't know what it is this time around, but it seems to be much more doable this time. Perhaps it's because THM has taken off in the "diet" world (though THM should be a lifestyle, not a diet) and is much more popular now than it used to be. This means there are tons of THM-friendly recipes out there on Pinterest, making meals much more doable and fun. My husband has NOT noticed a change at all in our meals. In all this time, there was only one meal that was not his favourite (it was a spinach and cheesy chicken casserole I found on pinterest. It wasn't my favourite, either!)

THM has been very doable for us this time because I have been cooking practically the exact same for our family with THM-friendly options for me. Here's an example of what this has looked like for our family:

Cheeseburger Pie (in Trim Healthy Mama recipe section) - My husband LOVES this recipe. It really is one of his new favourites. I serve this with mashed potatoes and a salad or veggies on the side. I skip the mashed potatoes.

Hamburgers on the Grill (S) - Everyone eats these as usual. I had mine in a crunch iceberg lettuce wrap to keep it THM friendly. I did not even miss the bun.

Steak on the Grill (S)- BBQ as usual. I serve potatoes with this usually and a salad. I just skip the potatoes to keep this in S territory.

Tacos (S or E) - I either make mine into an "S" salad and load it up with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, full fat sour cream, avocado, cheese, and all the veggies I want but leave out the chips (or only 3 or 4 chips added, if I want to go slightly off plan). Or, I can make this into an "E" meal by using chicken, beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, low-fat sour cream, and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.

Cocunt Curry Chicken (S or crossover) - This is one our family's all-time favourite meals. I usually serve it with brown rice on the side and broccoli or cauliflower. I will have either this over a small amount of brown rice for an S-helper meal, or up to 3/4 cup brown rice for a crossover. Crossovers are not off-plan - they are just combining healthy fats and healthy carbs and not as optimal for weight-loss, according to the book.

I ordered the Swanson natural whey protein powder a couple weeks ago. I really hesitated to do this as it's quite pricey for an item I don't usually buy (around 45 dollars for a HUGE container). However, this is one of the key things used on this plan (though the plan is workable without it), especially in the fuel-pull smoothies. I figured out that one big container should easily last me at least 3 months...and that's with using it every day, which I doubt I'll do. The health benefits of this stuff is pretty incredible, so I think it will be worth it to try it. I just used it to make my very first true-to-the-recipe Fat Stripping Frappe as part of my lunch (Egg roll in a bowl...super frugal, super quick to make, super tasty). I am SO THRILLED at how it turned out!!  I've tried making the Fat Stripping Frappe without the whey protein powder before, but the powder is what really makes this smoothie awesome, filling, and super fluffy. It's like a chocolate frosty/milkshake and does NOT taste at all like some some of the super nasty protein shakes I've sampled in the past. I was seriously so surprised. I actually think I could give this to my husband, and he would never guess what was in it....

Anyway, I will continue on with THM...I'm enjoying it so far, seeing some results, and it's much more doable now that I allow myself off-plan meals a few times a week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Menu Plan

Oh, what a day it's been so far. What. a. day. I'm pretty sure I've been completely stripped of any shred of dignity that ever remained after having 3 children.  Moving on. (okay, so this was technically yesterday. There was no way I was going to finish this menu plan yesterday with all the shenanigans going on around here.) Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning, and we are off to a much better start today:-)

Here's what we plan on eating this week:

In case you are wondering...Yes, I am still following the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle...except for on the weekends when it all goes out the window, it seems...Please don't tell the Trim Healthy Mama folks what I had to eat on Sunday, but it may or may not have included an iced capp and a sundae. "Was it worth it?," chimes in the Trim Healthy Mama folks. Umm...yeah, it was worth it! Sorry, but it's true. Gotta live a little! Can you tell which of the THM sisters I identify with the most?? That would be Pearl, most definitely. Microwaves are friends, not foes. Haha!

Monday: Crockpot Coconut Curry Chicken over Brown Rice (crossover)

Tuesday: Creamy Tomato Pasta (I'll have mine over broccoli slaw). (S)

Wednesday: Picnic Supper (sandwiches & salad)

Thursday: BBQ Hamburgers (S)

Friday: Pizza (crossover)

Saturday:BBQ Salmon (S)

Sunday: Leftovers

Breakfasts: The usual (toast, cereal, oatmeal, eggs)

Lunches: The usual (sandwiches & leftovers)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Here's the plan for this week with my THM modifications:

Suppers

Monday: Taco Salad (I will skip the chips - S)
Tuesday: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Veggies, Caesar Salad (I will skip the potatoes - S)
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Sweet & Sour Chicken over Rice (off plan - didn't get made last week)
Friday: Pizza (Using 5 Minute Artisan bread fermented 3 days to break down carbs - Crossover)
Saturday:Kommst Borscht (using leftover roast beef - I will skip potatoes in mine - S)
Sunday: Leftovers

Lunches

Flat Out Wraps with deli turkey, lettuce, mustard, mayo, cheese (technically off-plan as the Flat Out Wraps have slightly more carbs than allowed in store-bought bread...still, very close to being on plan S)

Ham & Cheese Sandwiches on regular bread for rest of the family
Leftovers

Breakfasts

The usual choice of regular toast, cereal, oatmeal, & fruit for the family

THM-Breakfast Options for Me
2 eggs fried in butter, Greek 0% yogurt with berries, sweetened with Truvia (S)
Volcano Mudslide Muffin (S)
2 Slices Low-Carb Sprouted Bread with Slim Belly Jelly, 0% Greek Yogurt  (E)
Oatmeal & Fruit (E)
THM Pancakes with either Slim Belly Jelly if E pancakes or Truvia-Sweetened Whipped Cream if making S pancakes

Snacks:
A whole lotta of the "Fat Stripping Frappes"...
Might attempt the secret agent brownies...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was a busy one. My menu got switched around quite a bit, and I ended up making quick things like Taco Salad instead of items on my menu. Many of the meals on this week's plan will look the same as the last few weeks since I haven't got around to making them yet and need to use up the ingredients I have for them!

My menu is mostly THM-friendly or can be easily adapted for the THM lifestyle. I have found that since starting to follow THM (I'm only following it about 60% of the time), the weight is starting to slowly come off again after being stalled for a couple of months, so I think I will continue what I'm doing and keep following THM principles the best I can, while allowing myself some off-plan meals once in awhile.

Monday: Cheesy Spinach Mushroom Chicken Bake (S), Brown Rice, Buttered Broccoli
               *I will either skip the rice to keep this "S" or only have 1/4 cup of rice for an "S helper" meal. Since I'm nursing, it's important that I eat enough carbs.*

Tuesday:  Tuscan Vegetable Soup and Sourdough Bread (E) / Leftovers for family

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers (S) & Buttered Vegetables & Salad

Thursday: BBQ Steak & Caesar Salad (S) (also put potatoes on grill for rest of the family)

Friday: Pizza on the Grill...using sourdough bread recipe and reduced fat cheese (E or crossover)

Saturday: Sweet & Sour Chicken & Rice (definitely off plan...I'll just watch portion control! This is one recipe I will not be sacrificing for THM as it's a family favourite!! )

Sunday: Leftovers


BREAKFASTS
Baked Oatmeal Revised (E) (THM - style) topped with fresh fruit *Made this on the weekend, and it was very good! I love baked oatmeal, and this tastes very, very close to my usual non-THM recipe, so I'm pretty happy to have found a recipe for Baked Oatmeal that works for THM*
Eggs fried in butter and topped with cheese (S) X 2
Volcano Mudslide Muffin topped with Greek Yogurt & Berries (S) (X 2)
Stovetop Oatmeal (E)
Toasted Sourdough Bread with Scrambled Egg whites, Greek Yogurt & Berries (E)

LUNCHES
THM-friendly leftovers for me all week

Kids/Hubby
Leftovers X 2
Sandwiches X 3
Pancakes X 1
Mac N' Cheese X 1

THM DESSERTS/SNACKS (so I don't feel too left out when hubby is snacking on delicious things in the evening!)
Skinny Chocolate (S)
Popcorn (E or crossover with butter)
Berry Cheesecake Crunch (S)
Vanilla Crumble (S)
Celery & Peanut Butter (S)
Skinny Frappe (frozen coffee cubes, cottage cheese, truvia, almond milk, cocoa, vanilla blended. Sounds gross, but it actually tastes pretty good. Cottage cheese just thickens it up and addds protein since I don't have whey protein powder yet)
Cottage Berry Whip (FP)

GOALS
Exercise 3 times
Baby/Books 1 hour
Photo Albums 1 hour

*Linking up to Menu Plan Monday hosted by orgjunkie.com*

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Menu Plan...A Little Late

Last week I did a modified version of Trim Healthy Mama. I am not 100% on plan, but I think this is what will work for me. The full-out THM way of eating is just not going to work for me. Been there. Done that. Major fail. However, I still think many of their principles work and are doable, so I'm willing to give some THM a try....but I'm going to be all rebellious and do it my own way. I wish I didn't have to even bother with THM, to be honest, but the weight this time was just not coming off with my usual counting calories & exercising. That always worked before, but this time, it did not seem to work very well. I got discouraged, stopped exercising, ate horribly, and it didn't even seem to make a difference (as in, I didn't seem to gain either). Weird. I was stuck at the same weight for 3 months, and if nothing changes...well, nothing changes. Thus, things must change. Profound, I know. And, I'm just not really loving wearing maternity clothes at 4 months postpartum. I'm far too stubborn and cheap to go out and buy new clothes, so I need to get this weight off, so I can fit into normal clothes again!  

Life has been overwhelming me in every way lately, and I've been feeling really, really s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d.  It seems as though I am truly working 24 hours a day with little to no rest (although that can't quite be true or I wouldn't be writing this! It HAS taken me 4 days just to write this, though. Little snippets, here and there :-). We hit the ground running around 7 a.m., and it's just go go go after that until I crash into bed at midnight (usually later) with a baby who enjoys an all night feast and sleeps very little. It's such a dichotomy that I can feel so fully blessed and incredibly stressed at the same time...
..."Such is life, Pip. Such is life."

I found Gwen's tips for busy mama's to stay on plan very helpful for planning on how to make this work without causing much extra work for me.

Monday:  Stuffed Peppers (S) (didn't get made last week), Tossed Salad with S dressing
Change of Plans....had a freezer spaghetti pie meal instead.

Tuesday: Steak on bbq (S) (didn't get made last week), Mashed Potatoes (I will skip these), Caesar Salad without the croutons to keep this (S)
Change of plans. Had leftovers.

WednesdayStuffed Peppers (S)

Thursday: Cheesy Spinach & Mushroom Chicken (S), Leftover Mashed Potatoes (I will skip these), Buttered Veggies (S), Broccoli Slaw Salad (S)

Friday:   Tuscan Vegetable Soup & Sourdough Bread (E), Cottage Berry Whip (E)

Saturday: Homemade Pizza on Gwen's sourdough bread (crossover but still on plan.)

Sunday: Leftovers

Breakfasts:
The kids and hubby will have their usual quick breakfasts (toast, fruit, eggs, cereal, oatmeal)
I will be having quick THM-friendly breakfasts.This was not an issue at all last week as I love eggs, cheese, omelets, cottage cheese, and 0% greek yogurt with berries sweetened with Truvia. All of these foods are on-plan, and I don't mind eating the same sort of things for breakfast every day.

I had a Volcano Mud Slide Muffin  topped with 0% yogurt sweetened with Truvia & berries for breakfast last week. This was surprisingly pretty good.  It only takes about 2 minutes to make, too, which is a pllus! I was really skeptical to make it as I had not had success with THM muffins last time I attempted them, but I have been having success with Truvia. It tastes so much better than plain stevia. I will definitely be adding this to my usual breakfasts.

Lunches:
*I plan to eat leftovers for lunch when possible since they are all THM-friendly or can be adapted to be THM-friendly*
*Lunches around here are quick. I add raw veggies & fruit to our simple and often not-so-healthy mains for the kids & hubs*

Grilled Cheese & Cream of Tomato Soup 
Hot Dogs
Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Crackers, Cheese, Pickles, Veggies, & Fruit
Pita Pizzas
Pizza Pockets
Pancakes (on Saturday... I will probably try THM-friendly pancakes for myself and make usual pancakes for the rest of the family)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Brielle's Birth Story - Part 1

When I first found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child, I was very happy, excited, nervous, and a little bit scared/anxious, if I'm being completely honest. Our circumstances were quite different this time as we were in the middle of struggling and praying through some potential major changes in our life. We had felt ready and called to have a 3rd child, but then suddenly life got really crazy. We were stressed out. Big time. No, we'd better wait a bit longer, we thought. I doubted...but God's plan is perfect... at this point I was already expecting! :-). I'm sure my main prayer throughout my entire pregnancy was for greater faith


Truthfully, I do not really enjoy being pregnant. Some people feel wonderful being pregnant - I am not one of those people. Though I am grateful and feel blessed to be able to carry a child, and I have enjoyable moments being pregnant, I struggle throughout my pregnancies. I actually knew I was pregnant before I even took the test because I was so horribly nauseous right from the start. After experiencing awful morning sickness with my first pregnancy and not wanting to endure that again, I headed straight to the doctor for a pregnancy test and prescription. I likely would have had awful, debilitating morning sickness with this pregnancy, but I took medication (the highest dose) for it right from the start to ease it, though I was still glued to the couch and feeling quite sick for the first 4 months. It would have been far, far worse without the medication, though.  I think I gained 30 pounds in just the first trimester. Hardest of all, though, was the depression that I struggled through (and blogged a bit about) during the pregnancy. Our stressful circumstances combined with the hormones of pregnancy really tested me and stretched my faith throughout the pregnancy. I had not experienced that kind of emotional and mental turmoil since middle school. Nearly every day I fell in a heap in the bathroom sobbing my heart out before the Lord. I truly felt as though I was in a pit that I could not get out of unless God would pull me out. It was difficult. I didn't feel like "myself" at all. I didn't want to be around anyone...not even closest friends and family....because I just felt so....off. I just wanted to be alone all the time, but I knew that that would only make things worse, so I forced myself to try to spend time with people even when I didn't feel like it.

My due date was set for February 14. I felt that likely my "real" due date fell somewhere between February 8 and February 14, but because I seem to go way overdue (11 days and 9 days) and after calculating things out, we set it for February 14. My midwife was leaving town on February 14, and we joked that I would go into labour the day she was leaving as she had missed Nathanael's birth, too. (My 2nd midwife ended up delivering him, and I had a great experience with her).

Around February 8, my Braxton Hicks contractions started picking up and becoming quite strong. I remember attending my husband's grandpa's 80th birthday party and being distracted by them. I was hoping the spicy Chinese food we ate for supper would trigger real labour :-).
We did not attend church the next day because I felt that I wouldn't be able to hide when I was having the B.H. contractions (and we have to drive out quite far to get to church). For the whole next week, I had strong Braxton Hicks contractions that would wake me up at night. It was reminiscent of my pregnancy and labour with Nathanael, and I knew this could go on for weeks yet, so I wasn't too concerned as they were definitely not "real" labour-like contractions.

On February 14th, I woke up around 4:30 a.m. with contractions, but unlike the strong Braxton Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for the past week, these ones hurt...like "real" contractions. They affected my back, front, and legs. They came in waves with definite peaks of intensity/pain. Those who have experienced labour know what I'm talking about. They started off coming about every 9 minutes, like clockwork. Then, every 6 minutes. They were getting more painful and closer together and lasting longer. Once they started coming every 5 minutes and lasting for a minute, I called my parents to come drive in. About 45 minutes after calling them the first time, I called again, asking them to hurry because now they were coming every 3 to 4 minutes and were getting much more painful (My parents still had a bit of a drive to get to our house and the intensity of the contractions had me a bit concerned that if things kept picking up, I could be entering transition soon.) My parents arrived, and I called the midwife to let her know I was in labour. I was convinced this was the real deal. We decided I would call the midwife again in 2 hours to check-in unless I could not handle it at home before then. At this point, I was breathing through them and not able to talk during the contractions. My whole body was even shaking through some of them (which was kind of freaking my sister out, I think). I was sure baby was on her way, likely to arrive that day, possibly even that afternoon. Through the contractions I would think about Brielle and remind myself that "God is my strength," which is the meaning of her name.

To be continued...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Menu Plan

Monday: Cream of Broccoli Soup & Biscuits (double and freeze some for a friend)

Tuesday: Cheeseburger Pie & Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Stuffed Peppers

Friday: BBQ Steaks

Saturday: Homemade Pizza (or possibly pack sandwiches for a family picnic)

Sunday: Leftovers

My goals last week were to potty train Nathanael and get back to exercising. Neither happened, though I did get a bit more prepared for potty training Nathanael (bought him some more underwear.)

My goals this week:
Exercise 4 times
Make homemade pizza pockets
Get freezer meals ready to take to a friend in need for next week
Eat a bit more THM style this week. (just myself...I will aim for THM friendly meals for myself for breakfast and lunch and a few suppers).
Finish thank you cards
Try to donate/sell a few items

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Growing Up Duggar

When it comes to choosing books to read, I still find myself gravitating toward non-fiction. I desperately want to enjoy fiction, but I have yet to find a series I can really get into. If anyone has any awesome fiction to recommend, please do! I think I would likely enjoy historical fiction as I am interested in history and love stories that help history come alive. Please, someone recommend some good fiction reading for me!!

One of the most recent books I finished reading is written by the oldest girls from the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting called Growing Up Duggar. I highly recommend this book, especially for teenage girls and young women. If I had a teenage daughter, this would be required reading for her. It is full of wisdom that goes against the grain of today's culture, but, most importantly, the love of Christ shines through each page.  Even as a married woman, I still gleaned much from this book, though I definitely think it is more suited for teenagers or young women not yet married. I personally enjoyed A Love That Multiplies more, but that is likely because I am at a different stage of life than the oldest Duggar girls.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Menu Plan

I know this isn't the healthiest menu plan on the planet, but I'm trying to use up the things I have around here to minimize grocery shopping for now. Besides, these are all quick to prepare, which is going to be important this week. Okay, who am I kidding...quick to prepare is becoming increasingly more important with every passing week. Quick to prepare is becoming a menu-plan theme around here. Thankfully, no one in my family seems to mind too much if it's less-than-gourmet.

Monday: Crockpot Steak & Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts & Peas/Carrots

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Burritos, Tossed Salad

Thursday: Hot Dogs, Veggies & Dip

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Potato Soup

Sunday: Leftovers

Goals
Get back on the exercise bandwagon
I might attempt potty-training Nathanael this week...help...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Menu Plan

Monday:  Homemade Pizza & Caesar Salad (Yep, we are taking a walk on the wild side and having pizza on Monday instead of Friday this week :-) ).

Tuesday: Tacos/Taco Salad

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Sloppy Joes over Buns

Friday:  Leftover Sloppy Joes with Mashed Potatoes

Saturday: Grill Steak & Potatoes

Sunday: Something Simple...(Potato Soup, maybe?)

Goals for This Week:
My goals...try to not go insane, maintain some sense of normalcy around here, and cast all my cares upon Him.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Menu Plan & Goals

Last week was kind of one of those weeks. The fridge was leaking, the washing machine was making strange noises, an underground sprinkler was broken, etc. I was really, really grateful to have some freezer meals to use up when things got a bit crazy. With our washing machine still needing repair, it's going to be a busier week around here again as I'll likely have to bring my laundry somewhere else to wash. Keeping it simple again this week:

Monday: Leftover Spaghetti
Tuesday: Tuna Macaroni Casserole (didn't make this last week)
Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers (didn't make this last week)
Thursday: Freezer Meal (probably meatloaf) & Mashed Potatoes (went with a different freezer meal last week)
Friday:  Eating with family
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Leftovers

Goals for Last Week
  • 1 hour working on baby books
  • Exercise 4 times (|I think I managed to get this in 3 times)
  • 1 hour organizing closets
  • Sell some kids clothes/items online
  • Write up 2 detailed piano lesson plans
  • 1 hour working on chore charts/reward charts for kids
Goals for This Week

  • Exercise 4 times
  • 1 hour working on baby books
  • Spot clean rug upstairs
  • Get dirt from Mom & Dad worked into soil
  • Attempt to kick bad habit of biting fingernails (yep...it's gross & true...but my sister in law gave me her Thumbs Away for helping kids stop sucking their thumbs that I'm going to try)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Menu Plan & Goals

Keeping it simple this week:

Monday: Chicken Fingers & Fries
Tuesday: Perogie Casserole
Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers
Thursday: Freezer Meal (probably meatloaf) & Mashed Potatoes
Friday:  Grilling Steak, Potatoes, Coleslaw
Saturday: Leftovers/Pizza
Sunday: Potluck (I'm making Tex Mex Coleslaw, White Chocolate Rice Crispy Cake, and either Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole or Sweet & Sour Meatballs)

My Goals for Last Week:
  • Attempt to make a DIY headwrap (made from old t-shirt) for Brielle (didn't get to this....probably won't happen this week either)
  • Exercise 5 times - (Exercised 4 times)
  • Clean up front flower beds
  • Spend 1 hour working on baby books
Goals for This Week
  • 1 hour working on baby books
  • Exercise 4 times
  • 1 hour organizing closets
  • Sell some kids clothes/items online
  • Write up 2 detailed piano lesson plans
  • 1 hour working on chore charts/reward charts for kids

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fitness Friday Flops

You probably aren't going to be surprised that I'm scrapping Fitness Friday check-ins for awhile. I should probably have been calling my weekly check-ins Frustrating Fridays rather than Fitness Fridays :-). No change this week - up slightly, actually. Yep, I'm crazy frustrated with this weight-loss thing this time around. I really do not think it was this hard to lose the weight after my first 2 babies! Maybe I'm more stressed this time and that's contributing? I don't know...All I know is that unless I have something somewhat significant to blog about regarding fitness and weight loss, I'm going to scrap this Frustrating Fitness Friday stuff.
As I was going back in my calendar, I noticed that I've lost a grand total of 3 pounds in 2 months. Wow.  The sad thing is that I feel like I'm actually trying, but it's not paying off. By this same time with Nathanael's birth, I had probably lost about 25 pounds. It is tough to stay disciplined and make good choices with exercise and food when you don't see visible results. I really, really, really do not want to have to try a different "diet" such as Trim Healthy Mama again (separating carbs and fats with basically no processed sugar - a low glycemic plan, meant to prevent spikes in blood sugar), but I'm starting to think about it. If nothing significant changes this month, I'll likely reconsider trying something such as THM again.  Until then, I will journey on. I am determined...(Besides, I have hardly any clothes that fit me right now other than maternity clothes!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Grocery Trip Tale

I did my giant monthly grocery trip last week. I do this trip at a large grocery store (where you have to bag your own stuff...ugh).

A typical monthly grocery trip goes something like this (with only a few slight exaggerations :-D...)

Park car. Give self pep talk and gather supplies necessary for trip. Grocery list. Menu Plan. Loonie for cart. Calculator. Flyers for price matching. Reusuable shopping bags (Got to be thrifty  green because paying 5 cents per grocery bag is really not conducive to a frugal lifestyle  I don't want a pelican to accidentally choke on a plastic shopping bag that will end up in a landfill sometime. Load giant cart full of groceries. Include large and heavy things like 20 pound bags of potatoes and flour. Steer giant boat cart throughout the store. Pile it higher, higher, and higher. Smile and wave when groceries fall off of piled-way-too-high-cart. I would make a terrible engineer. Mumble to yourself how you are saving money in hopes of taking a 10 year anniversary trip next year when people start to stare. Believe me, people stare. Try to ignore the fact that said staring people are likely thinking one or all of the following:
    A) You must have 10 + kids and/or a wolf for a husband
    B) You are a hoarder
or C) You live in the middle of nowhere, a thousand miles away from civilization and only come to town once a year.

None of which are true. Except for maybe the hoarder part. Oh, and maybe the thousand miles away from civilization part. That's up for debate.

Steer the ominous grocery  ship  cart up and down the aisles. You are as strong as a lumberjack. Load it with things you would never consider buying such as bleu cheese because, hey, when it's 7:30 pm and you've been in the store for 2 hours already, even moldy cheese looks crazily scrumptious. Load piled-way-too-high cart of groceries onto grocery belt. Bag groceries. All of them. The ones you can fit, anyway. Load ridiculous amount of groceries back onto cart. Remember where you put the cartons of eggs. Oh no. Can't fit it all back on the cart. Must push and steer massive cart, boat ship (yep, it's now a ship) with one hand while lugging huge package of paper towel in the other. You are a strong woman, strong. People stare. Again. Smile and wave. Again. Never Mind. You can't wave. Your hands are full. Unload groceries into car. Drive home in a stupor. Stumble into the house carrying far too many bags. Show off your incredible grocery-bag hauling ability Politely make small talk to the neighbours. Remind yourself you are a strong woman when your arms start to give out. Okay, maybe you are not so strong. Kind husband takes pity on tired, exhausted, and verging-on-grumpy wife. Said wife must now find a place to store a month's worth of groceries. Husband picks up bleu cheese, raises eyebrows, and questions wife. Tired wife just smiles and nods. Smiles and nods. Husband is unconvinced that moldy cheese can taste good. I'm sure Pinterest can come up with something that can make even bleu cheese taste good. Right? Please tell me I'm right....

Exhausted, put the kids to bed, turn on a semi-interesting documentary, laugh about how the psychologist who is spewing ridiculous psycho-babble looks exactly like your university english prof, and eat the only reasonable thing a person can have for supper at 8:30 p.m. A coke float.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I had a wonderful Mother's Day filled with time spent with those I love the most. I was well-loved, well-fed, and even came home with a few new clothes, all courtesy of our awesome families.

Here's what we plan to eat this week:

Breakfasts: Yogurt with Strawberries & homemade granola
                   Oatmeal
                   Eggs
                   Toast
                  (all with fruit on the side)

Lunches: Salads for me, Sandwiches for kids and hubby with veggies & fruit on the side

Suppers:

Monday: Tacos (using leftover taco meat from freezer) (Taco Salad for me)
Tuesday: Sausage & Perogies (one of my all-time favourite meals)
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas (NEW). I am very excited to try this new recipe as chicken fajitas is one of my favourite foods, and Mel's Kitchen Cafe recipes have yet to disappoint.
Thursday: Mennonite Style Chicken Noodle Soup (using leftover chicken from last week's roasted chicken) & Homemade Rolls (from freezer)
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Leftovers/Pancakes
Sunday: Leftovers/Tuna Macaroni Casserole

Extra Goals for This Week:

  • Attempt to make a DIY headwrap (made from old t-shirt) for Brielle
  • Exercise 5 times this week 
  • Clean up front flower beds
  • Spend 1 hour working on baby books

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fitness Friday

Nothing too significant to report this week. I'm down 1.8 since last week (0.6 lower than my lowest since starting to really work at this). I was actually pleasantly surprised with the small loss since I didn't exercise much at all this week. I don't know what happened, but this week just seemed to fly by faster than usual. The only deliberate exercise I can remember was doing the 30 Day Shred once. I was, however, really busy running around after 3 kids all week.
In other news, I did our monthly grocery trip yesterday. It was exhausting. I confess I was really having to fight off the grumpy syndrome after that. I came home around 7:30 pm (having skipped supper), put the kids to bed, and was so crazy hungry by 8:30 pm that I crashed on the couch to watch a documentary and had a coke float for supper. Yep, a coke float. That's really going to help this whole weight and healthy eating thing, I know. But, hey, after the minor success I had this week, maybe I should be eating coke floats more often ;-). Just keeping it real.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I am keeping things simple this week. Brielle, who is normally an extremely content baby, has been quite fussy lately. I am hoping to get a few projects done around the house and get some work done on the kids' baby books and photo albums.

Breakfasts: Choice of oatmeal, toast, or eggs (all with fruit on the side)
Lunches: Salad or leftover soup for me, leftovers for the kids, pita pizzas for one lunch meal
Suppers:

Monday: Hamburger Vegetable Soup & homemade rolls (from freezer)

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday:  Roasted Chicken & Mashed Potatoes

Friday:  Leftovers

Saturday: Tuna Macaroni Casserole

Sunday: Leftovers or something simple

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fitness (or lack there-of) Friday

This past week was not the greatest. I did not lose anything...in fact, I gained a pound back. I'm not overly surprised since I didn't watch what I was eating quite as closely, "cheated" more than once, and didn't exercise quite as much. It still stinks, though, as it reminds me just how crazy hard I;m having to work to make any progress this time around! Despite not having as great a week, I still didn't think I was doing so poorly that I would GAIN!
I am sure I didn't have to work this hard last time....maybe I'm getting old(er) ??

In other news, I'm planning on watching the Raptors game tonight. Though I played basketball in high school, I have never really been into watching NBA basketball on tv. Around here, we prefer watching hockey and football on tv. I was SO excited a couple years ago when the Lakers just so happened to be playing the Nuggets in the playoffs when we were on our family holiday in Colorado. We were able to get tickets, and it was definitely one of my favourite (and craziest) family holiday memories. And yes, I am just as big a sports fan as my husband (if not more!). He doesn't care quite as much about watching basketball as I do. But I don't care quite as much about soccer as he does.  The Raptors are just way too exciting this season for me to not to hop on the band wagon! I was a big Raptors fan way back in the Vince Carter days...

And on that note....when I think back to how crazy fit I was in high school, how I could play an entire high school basketball game without sitting on the bench, and how...umm...unfit I am now, it's kind of sad. With a lot of hard work, though, I'm sure I can improve from where I am now. I can still remember the amazing feeling of being fit (healthy, full of energy, and strong), and I would love to feel somewhat close to that way again someday.

It's a crazy time in our life and for many, many reasons, I just love this quote (I think it's an African proverb), "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

I'm gearing up for my monthly grocery trip soon, so these are mostly pantry or freezer meals, trying to use up what I have on hand. I still haven't figured out if the monthly trip is actually saving me money yet. I am still playing around with what method of grocery shopping and planning is saving me the most money. We've been trying to eat healthier around here, so I think one big monthly trip (for canned goods, on-sale paper goods & diapers, etc) plus a couple of small trips for seasonal produce & milk is likely what will work best for us.

Monday: Spaghetti & Meat Sauce (freezer meal - this is our all-time favourite spaghetti sauce), Salad

Tuesday: Three Bean Chili Chowder & Cornbread

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Crispy Southwest Wraps (using beef instead of chicken, though), Veggies & Dip

Friday: Homemade Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Something Simple (hot dogs or something like that...)

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