Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mommy Bloggers

The new trend (for me anyway) is to get news from facebook feeds and such. I think that is both good and bad. In one sense I love it because I have learned so much and have seen that other moms feel the same as I do and struggle with the same things. I have learned what to pray for and how to be more organized, exercises to make me healthier, alternative medicines to use, and new dishes to cook. Parenting strategies and Christian studies that have been very helpful have also been wonderful. In another sense it can breed covetousness and feelings of inadequacy if you can't live up to the pretty posted pictures, and get too caught up in the lives of the other people in the world.

My favorites are the mommy bloggers. You probably know some. I follow several. Some of my tops are Scary Mommy, Rage at the Minivan, Pennington Point, Mix and Match Family, Pioneer Woman, We Are That Family, and Marathon Mom to name a few. Some I readily identify with. They truly seem to live a life similar to mine. They have more than 2 kids, the house is always behind in cleanliness, and they second guess themselves. They live by trying to make ends meet each month, raise wholesome kids in today's world, and manage a crazy life. Then there are the ones living in homes that look like mini-castles, homes that never seem to be dirty or even mildly dusty, who wear the cutest fashions on their tiny frame, and who have parties where even the cookies are out of my budget (but they are awesomely cute!).

It is ok not to identify with everyone. I can still learn from them all even if we are on completely different playing fields of life. And we are. We all are.  Everyone out there is sharing and that makes me happy. The world doesn't feel so alone. I find things to strive for. I love all the neat posts no matter how varied. I don't always agree or identify with them but they are still learning experiences for me.And they are way cheaper than magazines.

Sometimes I ponder the idea of making my blog earn money for me, like many of them do. I just can't seem to be interested enough to want to carve out the time to figure out how to do that. I'm not a tech person, and I am quite busy with things I feel are important. This just doesn't yet rank up there in the important things of my current life. Also I am prone to long dry spells of blogging. If you make money from your blog, it needs to be posted to consistently, like daily.

Yeah, not happening for me. I may glance at FB daily and twitter a couple of times a week, and post a picture to instagram once a week or so, but beyond that, it is just too exhausting to do more with media, for me. Maybe one day I will jump on the mommy blogger bandwagon...but by then I might have to be a grandmother blogger. Not quite as relevant I guess. So I will just be content to keep reading what these lovely ladies share, and keep my blog mostly private for the time being. Because while many women can and do make the time for blogging, I think my feelings on it can be summed up in the phrase....Ain't nobody got time for dat!

Keep it up ladies! I love reading your stuff....and you will probably never see mine ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Health and Nutrition Are Important-but there are consequences

The history of my health is not inspiring. I was a normal kid who rode bikes and played on swingsets and jumped rope. We had an hour of PE and two recesses at school. It was required. From age 9-12 I played summer softball. From age 13-16 I performed with a drill team in autumn. I never played sports beyond that. Didn't want to, wasn't interested. I ate what I wanted. Then I went to college--basically out of shape and with teenage eating habits (candy, sodas, and chips). Still, I was not overweight. Never have been. I just had "well placed fat". I hated working out so I took my four PE credits asap and worked, while taking a full load of classes. I lived on coffee and bagels for a couple of years and lost weight. Too much weight--like down to 109lbs for a 5'7" medium build frame of a girl who needs to be a good size 8 misses. I was a size 6 and was told I could not give blood because I was underweight and not healthy enough. Then I began teaching and eating and cooking (I was married). I got up to that size 8 and stayed there for years. It was about where I was in high school but with more womanly curves. Oh, and almost no exercise at all, except for walking now and then.

Then came children, starting when I was 28. Five of them in 8 years were born. It should be noted I gave up soda when i got pregnant the first time and have only had them sporadically over the last 16 years. I really don't care for soda. Anyway, I was at my heaviest after the second was born (two kids in 19 months). But after nine months I was back at the size 8. I was an active mom with active kids. We walked everywhere and rode bikes and I carried the whole house with me everywhere usually with a couple of toddlers and a baby in my arms or in a monstrous stroller. I had some muscle! I know because one thing they do to moms is weigh them often, and I went from 130lbs to 150lbs at that size 8, over the years. So, i guess I was doing better just by being a busy stay at home mom.

When the youngest kid was 6 I decided it was time to exercise, for me. I wanted to be healthier and toned up. I found some great workout wear on clearance at JC Penney and actual workouts on pinterest. I got an exercise ball, some arm and ankle weights, and started walking daily and working out. I thought I would tone up and that would cause me to get a little bit slimmer in the process, along with eating better. I cook most things from scratch. I really do eat well and drink tons of water. I don't care much for sweets either. is what actually happened when I got healthy (at age 42, by the way):

I walked and did my workouts about 5-6 days a week, trying to push myself to be stronger and have more endurance. Then a friend asked me to do a 5K with her. I did, and signed up for an extra one just for practice. I began jogging with the couch to 5K program. That nearly killed me. I have never discovered the "runner's high" that some experience. I still hate running most of the time. I jogged for about a year and then injured a foot tendon from wearing improper shoes. Let that be a lesson to all of you! Get the right shoes! I know they cost big money but I promise you will want to use your feet every day of your life. I was still eating right and working out with weights. It paid off. I took a self defense class and found out I really was strong! Encouraging. Yes! I was not jiggling. I was strong. My blood work came back great. I had endurance. I was healthy!
But there was a side effect. I was not a size 8 anymore. I was a 10-12. And still am. You see, getting healthy means you will gain muscle, and that weighs more than fat. I put on about 10 pounds ( I know this from the doctor's office. I have never owned a scale) and was rounder in many key areas than ever before---think rear, and calves, and arms. My abs were tight, but that just made the loose pregnancy skin sag more. Not fun. But the muscles were tight. The strength was present.
I have endurance. I don't jog as much to save my foot from surgery, but I still do it sometimes. I'm just a little stubborn. I walk/jog a minimum of 2 miles a day...usually more like 4. I do workouts with 8lb arm weights every week. I do yoga poses, ballet tightening, cardio, and crossfit work outs. I fit in at least 3-6 of these every week. I eat right and drink lots of water and take my vitamins. And I am bigger than I was before I started it all. Women who are like me have to get over wanting "thin". Wanting a certain size clothing. We have to wear what fits well and flatters. Anything else looks awful. We have to dress the body we were given by God and take care of it by keeping it healthy. My husband likes it now that my body is tight and I am healthy. I am a better example to my kids--and I make them work out now too. I feel better. But I do admit to sometimes wishing I was still that smaller size. Media does a number on us girls that are over a size 6. It is hard not to notice. But I also notice most women who are really healthy are not tiny little people with bones showing. They are toned and fit and strong, and come in all shapes and sizes.

When I was thin I was my most unhealthy and light weight and a smaller size. That isn't true for everyone, but it was for me. Not everyone gets the results I got from working out. And that is ok. I still find it hard to clean out the clothes that are now too tight thanks to working out. They were a smaller size that used to fit, before I was fit. But that is the way it goes. I am getting older, and am healthier than I have ever been, and this is me. God made me and I take care of what He made. It's all good.

Home Improvements?? Indeed.

As I told you over the summer, we were facing some challenges with a couple of the kids. A storm of life. And we struggled and prayed and searched for solutions. It was hard. Sometimes it was so hard I really wanted to just throw in the parenting towel and be done. I am not kidding. But through prayer and patience and a trial and error system we have come to a good place. My kids will survive this school year and so will I. Not only will we survive, we will thrive. Last year I couldn't say that.

So what changed??? A lot has changed. Hindsight lends so much insight. What I thought was a behavioral issue with one child, actually led to a realization that another child had a major food issue. So we tried the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone. First, I spoke with a therapist. I also spoke with several friends who deal with the same issues in their children. Then i formulated a plan. I decided to use an elimination diet for gluten. I hated it because I love to bake. And the gluten free stuff is so hideously expensive. I also hated that there would be no more burger joints or toast or rolls or pancakes or crackers or any bread without offering a GF option as well. Big FAT bummer.

However, after doing this diet for three weeks, there was a significant difference in one of the kids---not the one I was originally trying to help mind you. SO that was awesome. But still the issue remained with one. It was better, but not enough to be good. One meltdown every three weeks instead of once or twice a week still wears a mom down fast..So I employed essential oils.

Folks, I am a natural skeptic. I didn't want to believe a GF diet would help or that these oils I saw as "mystical" and weird would help, but I was at the end of my rope, short of psychiatry. So I did some research and chose some and gave them a try. i also found out about a supplement that helps ADD kids and employed that. So where are we now and what have we learned?

I can homeschool these kids. In July I wasn't so sure I could do that ever again. But some new things have to happen. These kids MUST eat GF bread products, especially avoiding the processed kind (homemade is not as bad). These kids MUST take the supplement and some DHA every day.
These kids MUST have their essential oils about 3 times a day, every day. I do not know or care how or why they work, but folks, they do. I even got some for me. This makes them behave like regular kids should.

It is amazing. It is an adjustment. I don't always like it. Do the kids? No, not always, but they see enough difference in their own selves that they remind me to give the oil and remind me of the supplement and refuse to eat bread products with gluten. They know what life was like before and what it is like after. So we have made improvements in our home environment. It kind of feels like a band aid, but we have to deal with the physical ailments caused by gluten and ADD, and what I believe to be a chemical imbalance due to some early age head injuries from normal childhood falls.

If you want to know what oils and what supplement I use  I would be glad to share privately. Just know that sometimes conventional methods and medicines are not the answer.  I am thankful for the solutions we have come upon. I have gained much knowledge, from my personal experiences. HOWEVER, though this worked for us, it has become glaringly obvious that different things work for different families based on a number of parameters.

Blessings to you and yours!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Off to a good start....

We began the homeschooling year on Monday August 25. It was a good week. We have some pretty good solutions for the ADD and gluten intolerance, and oils/diet/behavior modifications for the one we suspect has a chemical imbalance, and the LD is getting more manageable.
The high schoolers are working hard and doing well. One is about to job search. One is planning her calendar and working in solace. We are waking at good times in the morning, and thanks to some wonderful ladies at church, we sisters are challenging each other to rise earlier than family, read bibles and get a jump start on the day. Also, our co-op starts next Friday, along with an activity group, a homeschool PE class, and dance classes , including one for moms! This is all good stuff.

Husband's company is in turmoil. The company is offering the hourly employees the same healthcare package and 401K matched retirement that the salary workers get, but the union protests and has chosen not to strike. There has been a lock-out until an agreement is reached. The union chose to meet for talks on September 21, so until then, DH is working from 4:40am until after 5pm each day, six days a week. It is hard to have so many long days each week. We are trying to be quiet at night and are going to bed at a more decent time. But it is hard not getting to see him much. It is almost like he is on a continual business trip. So we count our blessings that he is employed at a good company. We have food on the table and a home.

On a rather somber note though,  coming up in a week is the 9/11 anniversary for America, and tensions are high. Recently ISIS has been beheading Americans and Christians and causing all kinds of evil  havoc, Russia is invading Ukraine and defying everyone and making sure we all are aware they have nukes, 11 jets disappeared from Libya--really?--you can track people but you miss this??, and that is just the tip of it all. A world without God is turning more and more Godless. Or so it seems...Sometimes things have to hit rock bottom before they turn around.

On a more positive note, I choose to pray fervently and stay loyal to my God. The world situations are out of my control except through prayer anyway. Each day has enough trouble of its own. We are not to worry about those who kill the body, for they can't kill the soul. Still, the world is a scary place, some seasons more than others. And honestly, if it weren't these looming things, there would be something else. there always is. My job never changes. love my neighbor, be a follower of Jesus, pray and study and teach the truth in gentleness and love, raise my kids.

I hope your year is going well and in the midst of all life's situations, that you can see and feel God's blessings abounding. They are there always. Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My PSA for you and yours....You're welcome

I have five kids. Guess what they do....guess!! guess!!!!
They grow up. Yes, they do, and inevitably they want to drive. And given that we live in the USA, they need to know how, if they are physicaly and mentally able to do so responsibly.
Kids can apply for a permit at age 15. Then they can learn to drive, ALWAYS with a supervising driver (parent or guardian) in the vehicle with them, and they are covered through the insurance of the supervising adult at no additional charge, should anything go wrong.
However, as I shockingly discovered this week, not all insurance companies will allow a permitted driver to be covered under the supervising guardian. My company was one of those. They have their underwriter put in the policies that once a teen has a permit for six months and reaches the age of 16, you must either pay a premium on your highest rated vehicle (for the maximum insurance payment) or exclude them so that nothing is covered. And according to their policy, it makes no difference that the teen has no license. I was floored. You expect me to pay to cover a supervised permitted teen who doesn't have a driver's license and hasn't even finished driver's ed???Are you insane???
Apparently the answer was a resounding YES- WE DO EXPECT THAT...or we can exclude him and you have no coverage should anything happen.
Now, I am generally pretty logical and calm (relatively speaking), but this angered me to the point I was shaking and sick to my stomach and got a migraine. I am not exaggerating. So I did my research and contacted DMV, state insurance licensing board, and spoke to many people with teen drivers. Everyone thinks my company is nuts---except for my company.
I spoke to them about my research and explained my position that we should not have to pay for coverage for a permitted driver without a license (especially not on the vehicle he will likely NOT be driving). I explained that we expect our kids to work and pay for their own insurance, because we will not pay it for them, and he needed to finish driver's ed. They didn't want to hear it because they made their policy this way on purpose. My guess is so that at the earliest possible moment they can receive the highest possible payments from consumers. I didn't like or appreciate that AT ALL. In my little world I call it extortion, but maybe I am just being extreme.  I could not, and would not, abide by their policy. I did what I thought was best-- switched companies.
For auto insurance, I cannot say enough good things about State Farm, my new carrier. Rates are excellent and they insure licensed drivers. Permitted drivers are covered under guardians policy at no charge. And they don't care how long you have the permit. Only licensed drivers are required to pay. insurance company is not my company anymore. Not for auto insurance. Or life insurance (way too high on premiums for terrible coverage--dropped them years ago). And I wholeheartedly cannot ever recommend that any family use them for auto or life insurance. Because if you have kids, they will eventually learn to drive, and they need insurance when they earn that license.
My old company can keep my homeowner's policy. It is reasonably priced and has good coverage and rates and service.
If you are curious who this old company is, I will tell you privately, but not here. The initials are FB...It is a large company like Allstate or State Farm or MetLife, so you can guess.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer...what happened???

It is only about 2 1/2 weeks until we begin the new school year. I had such hopes of an easy, laid back summer. Mostly it happened, but as expected, some kinks came our way.
We did spend lots of time at the pool, went to camps, went on mission trip, did service projects, attended lots of youth rallies, did a tiny bit of schooling, did VBS...twice, and went bowling a few times. We finally had the June birthday parties in early August along with the August birthday.
We connected a lot more with friends and I connected more with other moms. That was awesome for me beyond words! The kids got deeply involved with church friends, and barely saw their homeschool buddies. That is all about to change though.
Some unexpected things??? Yes. Two of mine went on gluten free diets with the addition of essential oils. The results have been amazing. I cannot describe how different they are. The house vibe is different. I have hopes for a better school year. Last year was the kind I could not endure twice. Public or charter school was becoming an option. Now it is not. We also have a surgery for the oldest coming up very soon. He is not excited or amused. Also found out he needs braces to avoid losing all his front teeth in about ten years. Joy.
We have the a/c in the van blowing heat, but thankfully this has been one of the coolest summers on record. God is watching over us...and I asked Him if he would kindly let this be the norm. The weather, I mean. Especially if it comes with a cold winter again! I love that.
So, summer is winding down. Today I registered the kids for dance, and next week I will meet with my partner in Friday school crime, and then in two weeks we will hold our registration event, and school will start and life will get crazy.
But for tonight, i am going to slip into my swimsuit and hit the pool again.
Have a great summer, friends!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Changing the World One Step at a Time

As promised I am going to tell you a little about our upcoming homeschool year, followed by some information about making an impact on the world.
In a little over a month we will be embarking on our 12th year of homeschooling with kids in 3rd, 5th, 6th/7th, 9th and 11th grades, respectively. The oldest two are in high school and are following Sonlight cores 100 and 300 with added Life of Fred math, Rosetta Stone spanish, and Apologia science for one.
The middle schooler is still on track with the youngest two. These will be doing a combination of Saxon and Teaching Textbooks for math, Learning Language Arts Through Literature (with some supplements) and for LA (and I'll throw in some reading and writing projects here and there), Story of the World and Texas history units, Apologia science, art.
So far we are in a good place and I have very high hopes for a smoother year on the new gluten free diets. The kids will also take some dance classes and participate in co-op again. There will be various activities within the church and community as well.
This brings me to the changing of the world. I want my kids to know the bible, but also to make Christianity their own, and truly follow Jesus. Whatever they choose to do, this has to be something they choose to make time for, set aside money for. We have always given to the local congregation, and visited and served wherever we could, usually within the church programs, and those typically serve only our local church members. Nothing wrong with serving internally, but shouldn't we be serving externally in the world, just as much? If the church congregation doesn't do it, I can do it on my own, I reasoned. It has been on my heart to help the world at large with major needs that we don't feel and experience here in our comfy little American life bubble. The command to go into the world means we Christians have to go. When we can't go, we have to pay to send people and support their work. Changes take time, and there are so many factors affecting each situation. My personal call to action came through reading three specific books this spring: Crazy Love, not a fan., and The Hole in Our Gospel. I began to see that my ministry at this time may my children, the neighborhood in which I have contact, and social media. BUT, being middle class, surely we could spare some cash to help globally, right?? I thought so. I want my kids to be aware of missions, and give now and then, too. I did some research on reputable charities that I felt good supporting. Here are the ones I decided we could and should support on a regular basis as much as possible. I hope you will check them out and decide to help globally, too. Or find some other ways to help reach the world with basic needs and the gospel. We can change the world one dollar and one person at a time. But we have to be the ones who go, and the ones who give. Here are my charities of choice, though there are many worthy causes out there:

Raffa Clinic
Children's Medical Center
St. Jude Childrens Research hospital
World Vision
Doctors Without Borders
Eastern European Missions
Habitat for Humanity
Local food pantries
Local children's homes

Matthew 22:36-4036 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 25:31-46  31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 Luke 18:18-23  18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

Matthew 28: 18-20    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”