Wednesday, June 10, 2015

3 Things That Make Me Smile

1) My Knee is Back in Business: I just finished my couch to 5K workout, and it was wonderful. I can really feel my endurance improving, and it is really motivating. I think, perhaps for the first time in my life, I actually smiled while I ran. Smiling and running...Tobymac can cause that kind of effect, I guess!

2) My Social Butterfly: My oldest gal is such a people person. It is so fun to watch her interact with kids she has never met before. We went to the spray park the other day and she was making friends with every kid in sight. They were coming up with all kinds of games like ``save the caterpillars from going down the drain``. It was so cute and made my heart soar.

3) McDonalds Sugar Free Vanilla Iced Coffee: $1 for 100 calories of pure deliciousness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Faith Stretching

When the hardship won't end, and you're in need of patience. I saw that title (an article link) on Pinterest, and it really resonated with me. Patience. It's a fruit of the Spirit I seem to be struggling with a lot lately. The last year or so has been an interesting one.  Those who we are close with in real life (mostly just close family members) know our unique situation with its constant drama. This I know - God is at work, though I can't understand everything right now. It is a daily struggle to be patient and have faith. The strange and bizarre things that have happened in our life are certainly meant for some bigger purpose. Things that make you scratch your head kind of things and that have you praying, "Lord, what should I do? What are you trying to teach me through this? Lord, I simply do not understand what this is all about." These types of things seem to be happening weekly. I take heart in knowing I have a relationship with the God who created the world, parted the sea, rose from the dead, and will move mountains if it is according to His will. Right now I am praying for a very specific mountain to move, but most of all I am praying for patience and for our faith to not waver if the answer to our prayer is no. 

Have you heard the song by Steven Curtis Chapman called "Glorious Unfolding." It gets me every.single.time.

That's all for now,

P.S. Overall, Brielle is improving with her sleeping. It's not great, by any means, but it has improved enough that I am feeling leaps and bounds better than I had been. This is a huge answer to prayer :-)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5 Favourite Weight Loss Foods

1) Truvia - This is a sugar substitute (stevia-based) with zero calories that tastes almost like real sugar to me. It can be found in most grocery stores. It is quite expensive, so I don't use it in large quantities. It is a bit sweeter than sugar, so you don't need to use as much of it. My favourite uses - to sweeten coffee, homemade "skinny" iced-caps, my zero-calorie copycat Mountain-Dew slushies, and with plain fat-free Greek yogurt, vanilla, & berries.

2) Konjac Noodles (also known as yam noodles or shiratake noodles) - These are an Asian-style noodle that have only 10 calories per serving. They can be a bit tricky to find, but I have found them in the Asian or International section of grocery stores. These are not a pasta substitute, in my opinion (believe me, I've tried!). The texture takes some getting used to as they are rubbery and a bit chewy. However, I have a super-quick Asian noodle recipe that works really well for these. You can eat a huge bowl for only 10 calories, which is crazy. Crazy awesome. Obviously you wouldn't want to eat just these noodles for a meal too often as they are far too low in calories for that. However, you could make a pretty awesome stir-fry with these and still have dessert.

3) Cabbage or Bagged Coleslaw Mix - Great for making "miracle" soup (a low-calorie version of cabbage borscht). Also great for quick and easy "Egg-Roll-in-a-Bowl."

4) Plain Fat-free Greek Yogurt - My favourite way to eat this is with a splash of vanilla, truvia, and strawberries. Low-calorie, healthy dessert or snack. I eat this often for breakfast or in the evenings when my husband brings out the ice cream ;-).

5)  Joseph's Lavash Bread - Lower-carb tortilla/wrap alternative. These taste SO much better than regular tortillas. Love, love, love them! My favourite way to use them is for lunch with deli turkey meat, sprinkle of bacon bits, sprinkle of cheese, 2 teaspoons of mayo, mustard, lettuce, and cucumbers (healthy version of turkey club sandwich).

Even though I do not technically follow the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) way of eating anymore, all of these items are heavily used for those following THM, and I still implement many of their principles into my eating. I tried THM about a year ago and did have a small amount of success. However, I quickly gained the weight back when I cheated here and there. I tried it again about a month or two again but actually gained weight this time around. I honestly think the reason I gained weight on it was because I was simply consuming too many calories.They say you don't need to count calories with the plan, but I know that if you eat too much, you will not have success on the plan. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to weight-loss and healthy eating. I'm a believer in finding what works for you and is a healthy approach. Reading the book and following the THM Facebook groups definitely gave me some great ideas for weight-loss friendly foods and recipes. My plan is my own plan...calorie counting and moderate carbs, exercise, and "cheats" allowed in moderation on the weekend. I have quite a long way to go yet...I try to remind myself to not get discouraged when results are not as quick as I hope.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wrapping Up Kindergarten & Other Tidbits of Life

I have unofficially declared our school year "done." Sort of. We will continue to work through our phonics book as we feel like it and incorporate learning into daily life. Our summers are so short around here, that I really don't want to spend more time than necessary indoors on workbooks and things. It's pretty easy to incorporate learning into everyday life for the early years.

Elianna finished up her Singapore Kindergarten math last week. I really didn't think we'd be finished already, but she really likes math and flew through the last few chapters. I asked her how she liked math this year, and she told me she LOVED it, which means we will definitely be sticking with Singapore for next year. I am also extremely happy with it, which is a big bonus.

We are still slowly working through our phonics program (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons). I'm not too concerned about finishing it this summer, though I'm guessing we likely will. I have not decided yet what we are going to do for phonics for Grade 1. I am leaning toward a year of just reading (making a list of the new words from each book on a white board, then reading the books.) I downloaded The Reading Lesson awhile ago (for free on a special offer), which is one of Heart of Dakota's recommended phonics programs, so I will likely use that for a little extra help. I think this method (reading "real" books) will suit her personality and help her discover a love for reading. I am thinking about maybe ordering something like the Pathway Readers or checking out some of the Heart of Dakota recommended books for emerging readers to work through.

I have been making an effort to get my health back on track. This past month, I started exercising again and trying to eat better (using the free Lose It app for tracking food). I finally saw some results this month, so that is encouraging me to keep on track. More importantly, though, I have rediscovered what a stress-reliever exercise is for me. It really does help me clear my head and improve my mental health. For some reason, I still struggle to get started with it (get into my workout clothes and put the dvd in or get on the treadmill or whatever) even though I love it once I'm into it. Over the weekend, I fell off the wagon a bit and ate pretty much whatever unhealthy thing I could cram in my mouth, but I am getting back on track now (umm...starting tomorrow! Ha!). I hope to start running again soon, but my knees hate me, unfortunately. I'm pretty disappointed with my knees these days. I was really enjoying my 30 minute jogs/walks on the treadmill, listening to music, going through the couch to 5K program. I found it very therapeutic, was wonderful "me time", if you will. I tried running yesterday after taking the past week off because I actually miss it, but I knew immediately that it was a very bad idea. Instead, I'm going to have to use some exercise dvd's and modify some of the exercises to be lower impact on my knees (jumping is out, for example). Right now, my two favourites are Pump, Jump, and Jab (by The Firm) and No More Trouble Zones (Jillian Michael's). Since running is out for now, I plan to focus more on strength/core training instead.
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