Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cutting Back

Do you ever just feel so overwhelmed that you want to hide in your house and do nothing at all?

That's sort of where I've been lately.  I feel like I can't say no, I find myself volunteering for stuff so that I can make others happy, and I just feel drained.

It just so happens that for my birthday I was given this book, and at church our pastor has been doing a sermon series using this book.

I have been taking an "inventory" of what is replenishing my soul (and my family) and what is draining.
Now, by draining I don't mean that it's a bad thing to be involved in.  I just mean that it's not a good thing for ME and my family.  It's likely not somewhere God wants us right now.

I have prayed and decided that for now, we need a break from our homeschool co-op.  I love the people, I love what we've gained from it (many friends and a lot of confidence), and I love how much we've grown there.  We just need a break.  So we're taking a semester off.
This was such a hard decision to come to, but it's right.  For now.

I'm also learning to re-arrange my schedule so that we only have appointments on a certain day of the week.  No more running all week to random things.

Ben and I are making date night a priority, even if it's just twice a month.  I'm working to plan at least one fun "family night" once a month.  We need these things.

Just these small (yet big) changes are going to make a big difference for us.
Also, if I tell you "no" when you ask something, it isn't because I don't want to.  It's because I just don't need to.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back To Writing

We started back with IEW writing two weeks ago, and I must say that I was really surprised with how much my kids retained!
I was so intimidated by this program a few years ago, but now I'm sold!!

We did not practice writing over the summer (I know, I know...we got busy with summer stuff!).  

We jumped right back into class (remember, my friend Michelle is teaching the kids) and there was no fighting (that happened our first few weeks last year) and they knew exactly what to do.  

It's amazing how much their writing improved over such a short time.  

Their key word outlines are better, their grammar is improving (I use their rough drafts to see what we really need to put more focus on) and they are so proud of what they are doing!

Now, we started small last year (with the last section of PALS) but I think that was good for us.  It really gave them the basics without too much pressure.  Michelle suggested starting there and I'm glad we did.  Wyatt thought it was silly at first, but then he realized that he had a lot to learn!  We struggled with some difficulties with one of the kids early one (dyslexic tendencies, late reading) and so the writing process wasn't a big focus.  

Now we're on to Student Writing Intensive Level A.  I'm excited to see how much they improve this semester, and I'm pretty sure their confidence will only grow!  

Maybe I'll upload their first paper last year and then the last one this year--that would be a wonderful comparison!

What do you use for writing?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Crockpot Jambalaya: Trim Healthy Mama (S)

I am so excited to share this recipe!!!
I was given this recipe for jambalaya about two years ago. The original calls for cooking in the oven, but I like it much better in the crockpot!
 It quickly became a family favorite and Ben has been asking for it, but I was hesitant to make it.  If I did, I would eat it.  This is a problem because the original has one ingredient that isn't on plan.

Yesterday I decided to try riced cauliflower in place of the rice, and it worked!!!!  Oh, it was so good!  
Ben had 3 bowls!!

To "rice" cauliflower, use a cheese grater or food processor and "process" the florets until they resemble rice.  I do mine in a Vitamix!

Trim Healthy Mama Crock Pot Jambalaya (S)
(Printable Recipe)

*1 pound frozen shrimp (no tails)
or 2 cups shredded chicken (rotisserie works well)
*1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
*1 onion, diced
*1 bell pepper, diced
*1 cup celery, diced
*3 cups beef broth
*4 cups "riced" cauliflower
*1 can ro-tel
*2 bay leaves
*1 stick butter
*1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper
*dash of tobasco
*1 bunch green onions

Combine everything in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I've decided to postpone the start of our school year until September 2nd.  Why?  Because I can :)

We are switching up almost all of our curriculum this year, and I am determined to have a good battle plan in place.  So, I'm taking an extra few weeks to make sure that plan is nice and strong!

I ordered this awesome planner in the hopes that I can stay on track. 
 I love the motivation it has in it, along with scripture and accountability each week.

Now to convince Ben that I need a whole day sitting at Panera with my laptop and planner!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Why is it every year this sneaks up so quickly? 
 It doesn't help that school is barely out before stores are stocking shelves with notebooks, pencils, backpacks, and such.

Our plan had been to school through summer, but that didn't happen (hardly ever does). 
I ended up setting some goals for each kid to accomplish by the time we start our new school year, and that's going well.
For the older two it is mainly to learn all of the states and capitols.
  They are doing great thanks to Sheppard Software.  I love this site.
Mason also plays on this site, strengthening his letters and numbers, as well as some basic math skills.

I also grabbed a new Hooked On Phonics kit from the library.  It's okay--I didn't love HOP when I first used it with Wyatt, but it's a good supplement and the newer ones are more fun.

We're trying to soak up some of the nice, cooler days and hoping to get started with day one of school on August 4th.  Starting early so we can take plenty of days off through the year!

When do your kids start school?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Montana Part 2

These are just some of my favorite pictures from around our cabin!

Can you see the little "gopher" in the picture above?  Pretty sure these were prairie dogs (or a type).  They were cute, but apparently a big nuisance for ranchers.

Pretty sure he is contemplating the perfect spot for his cabin!

This little deer would visit us every morning and evening!

Montana Part 1

Ben and I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week in Montana from July 9-16.  
I have a lot of pictures to share (I don't claim to be a professional, but I tried to get some decent ones!).
I'm going to break our trip down into a few different posts to make it easier to follow!

We arrived around 3pm on the 9th, and by the time we grabbed groceries and made it to our cabin in Rock Creek, we were pretty excited and I didn't think to take out my good camera (so most of my pictures are on my phone!).

We stayed at the Valley Of The Moon cabin on Rock Creek, and it was wonderful!  A quaint little cabin attached the main cabin, and our hosts were so accommodating and fun!  They were full of suggestions for things to see and do!

Valley Of The Moon is a historical property.  Theodore Roosevelt and Louis L'Amour are just two famous people to stay here!
Rock Creek runs through the property, and since dark doesn't hit until 10pm Ben had plenty of fishing time in the evenings!

Our next day was full of fishing along the Bitterroot River with a guide service.  Again, all pictures are on my phone (didn't want to chance dropping the good camera in the water).

On Friday we headed out early and did some exploring.  We ended up at a little spot along the Blackfoot River.  The fishing wasn't great, and we left when a family with kids showed up and started splashing around (not conducive to good fishing).  It certainly was pretty, though!

We drove along a mountain highway for about 40 minutes and ended up at the cutest little town ever--Ovando, MT.  Population of around 70!
"Main Street" was a little dirt road, and the town consisted of a General Store, Museum, Fly Shop, and a restaurant called The Stray Bullet (we had lunch here--it was a cozy little place with great food).
It's also a stop on the "Lewis Minus Clark Expedition".  


The owner of the fly shop suggested a good fishing spot, so we trekked into the (very remote) wilderness to this little place.  I was a bit nervous the whole time, seeing as there were bear warning signs everywhere and we had no bear spray!! 
It was beautiful and very peaceful, though!

Our day ended back at our cabin with Ben fishing and me enjoying a book!

Saturday, May 3, 2014


My sweet Ruby has been missing for over a week.  I keep looking outside, hoping to see her.  I can't bring myself to put up reward posters again, because she'll just keep getting outside and if someone took her again, it will keep happening.  
If they do have her, I hope they'll bring her home. 

I miss my bunny snuggles.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hands On Learning

I love that learning can be so fun.  At Mason's age (5), it feels like I'm planting seeds that will grow and grow and grow in the years to come!

This is a treasure that he found at Goodwill yesterday, and it's provided plenty of entertainment while the big kids work on their writing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ava Anderson March Specials

Here are the March specials from Ava Anderson!  (Party ID 23256)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama: Week One Plus A Recipe!

I have to say that I ordered this book more out of curiosity than I did with any plan to follow the program.   I had a few friends who were doing well following this plan, and I am on a facebook group for moms and quite a few ladies on there have raved about THM for months.

 Once I got the book and dug in, I couldn't believe the wealth of information that was included!  It was all so easy to understand and I was finally understanding concepts and facts about the body and nutrition that I had never really been able to totally comprehend.

After I made it through the chapters that explained WHY this eating plan made sense, I was sold!  
I had already made out a plan to get those pesky holiday pounds off, but I took an extra week and reworked things to fit Trim Healthy Mama!  

Can I just say that I LOVE THM!  

I really wish I had bought this book after I lost weight 2 years ago (was it even out then?).   This way of eating makes sense and is working wonders for me!

Let me back up a bit.  Back in the summer I was down to my lowest weight yet...I was eating great and exercising, yet I started having some health troubles.  My doctor sent me for blood work just to check everything, and my fasting blood sugar came back high!  My blood pressure had been running high all summer and I couldn't figure out why.  I had gone off of my bp meds a month into my initial weight loss in 2012 and thought that I was done with that issue.  
My doctor urged me to increase my exercise since I was already eating good, and asked me to monitor my bp.  

Fast forward to December and I was having a lot of trouble with my BP still.  Didn't surprise me since it was already elevated leading up to Thanskgiving, but that's also when my eating started going downhill.  I won't hide that fact that my attitude was bad--I had spent months wondering why I even bothered with the clean eating if I was still going to have trouble.  So, I started eating stuff I knew that I shouldn't (the scale showed this pretty quickly).  
I had a bit of panic and went back on my blood pressure meds.
Fast forward a bit more to now--I have been following Trim Healthy Mama for 1 week and things are going great!  Reading the book helped me to realize that while I was eating good foods, I wasn't combining them in good ways!  It makes total sense to me now (as well as the fact that my BP was likely high due to the increased insulin in my system).  

I LOVE that I have spent the past week eating some amazing foods that are completely satisfying!  I am filling my diet with "good fats" that I used to eat sparingly (once a day maybe).  My family is eating all of the meals that I make and I haven't had any complaints (in fact, they often go back for seconds). 

 My cravings for sweet, salty, snacky foods are gone thanks to the abundance of fats that I'm eating!
I've lost 3 of the 10 pounds that I gained over the holidays--and I haven't counted a single calorie!  
My jeans are feeling lose and I am pretty sure that I won't be on those blood pressure pills much longer (I'm already sensing that my bp is going low!).  

THM is a bit overwhelming at first, but I gave myself some wiggle room in that first week and had to learn by making mistakes.  It takes time to figure out how to pair the foods, but only a week in I feel like I have a good hang of it.  The facebook page is helping me a lot!   

I can honestly say that this is a fun way to eat and I am pretty sure that it will be permanent for our family!!

Now, if you read all of that then you deserve a little reward! 
 This is the recipe for a snack that I eat almost every day.  I went a bit heavier on it this morning and had it for breakfast.  A friend's husband calls it "Hippie Yogurt" and I think that's perfect!

"Hippie Yogurt" (S)

1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt
Stevia to taste (I use 4-6 drops)
1/2 cup rasberries
1/3 cup walnuts 
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon hemp oil (optional)

Mix yogurt, stevia, and hemp oil in bowl.  Top with berries, coconut, and walnuts.  
In the picture I used a small handful of blueberries instead of raspberries and no walnuts.  That pushed it into FP territory, so keep that in mind.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back On Track

I fell off of the "clean eating" bandwagon around Thanksgiving.  I now have 10 pounds of "Holiday Cheer" that I need to offload, and to be honest I need to go lower than my original goal 3 years ago (was it really that long ago that I started working on this issue??).  

I have done fairly well maintaining my weight for the last 2.5 years.  I tend to play around with 10 pounds here and there, but I always get it back off.  This time I'm going for about 10-15 more, so we'll say that I'm working to lose 25 pounds.  Give or take a little. 

 I don't like that I have to continue working to keep the weight off, but I have come to terms with the fact that this will be a lifelong journey.  If I stick with the lifestyle changes and stay one step ahead of the nasty enemy, it will be much easier!

This is my "plan".  These are things that I know will work for me and they are realistic.  I will likely mess up sometimes, but that's okay.  I'll pick myself up and keep going!  

*I'm going to cut out all grains and refined sugars.  I will allow myself stevia and a limited amount of coconut sugar.  

*I will be trying out the Trim Healthy Mama plan (waiting on my book) but again, no sugars or grains and very little dairy.  I have had a few of the recipes from the book and they are good!  

*I'm going back on my SuperMom vitamins.  These are awesome and I really had a much easier time losing weight while taking them. Maybe a coincidence, but I do know that I feel great while taking them.

*Drink 1/2-1 bottle of Kombucha a day.  I love this stuff so much.  I make my own but also drink this brand when I'm out of my stuff.

*Track my foods using an app.  I won't necessarily be "counting calories" but I do need to journal what I'm eating.  

*PLAN MY MEALS!!!  Going into the day without a plan is a recipe for disaster.
*100 ounces of water a day.  Ideally you want to drink 1/2 your body weight in water each day (converted to ounces, of course!).  100 ounces isn't 1/2 my body weight.  It's just an amount that I aim for.

*Get back to taking a probiotic again.  The Kombucha is full of probiotics but I am going to take another one as well.

*30 minutes at the gym, 3 times a week.  This doesn't sound like much to some, but again--setting realistic goals.  I'll build up to more.  If I take a class then it will add extra time.

*Last but certainly not least, PRAY!!!  This will always be an important part of my battle.  It's a spiritual one for me--the enemy knows that food is my weakness and he uses it against me.  I may re-read Made To Crave as well.

Hopefully I can keep my progress updated here weekly...I'll do my best!!