Saturday, October 24, 2015

Getting Ready for THM

At the beginning of the year, I started a new way of eating, Trim Healthy Mama. I was doing really well on it, losing weight, getting my blood pressure down, getting my energy up, etc. Then we hit a snag in our budget where we had to shrink the grocery money for awhile. You can totally do THM on pretty much any budget, but *sigh* I got lazy and started making my usual frugal, go-to, not-so-healthy meals and bringing lots of non-THM food into the house. This had been happening several months before I posted about my latest pantry challenge.

Now, I have changed the game a little. As stuff has dwindled on my counter, the stuff that I want to use up to rotate out my pantry, I have added more to the counter. You see, I started out with my main kitchen cabinets, and as that's gone down, I've added things from our pantry closet and other cabinets. In September, my copy of the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook that I pre-ordered a couple of months before that, arrived. With the way that I've been feeling lately, I know that I have to get back to it. Flipping through the cookbook recently has me inspired.

So, I have re-evaluated and rearranged my pantry challenge. I am in the process of making a master shopping list based on the recipes in the cookbook, as well as a list of foods to keep on hand from the original book and the new cookbook. Today, I have gone through the items on my counter and pulled back everything that is THM-friendly. I cleaned out the original cabinets that I originally pulled food from and started collecting these THM-friendly items there. I will then inventory all of these items on my Master Grocery List. When I go shopping, I will start stocking up on the non-perishable items that I still need, thus gradually changing out my home pantry.

This is going to be a slow ease-in to THM this time around. Hubby and I are taking a class at church and learning all about finances all over again. I am not into wasting! I will eat as healthy as I can while still using up what we have that is not on the THM plan. Then it won't be so overwhelming...emotionally OR on the budget. The planning and prepping I'm doing now, will keep it that way.

Eating healthy on a budget, no matter what the plan is, takes some careful planning. I do think, though, that turning over the pantry is one of the keys of keeping it manageable. Gradual is fine, you don't have to do it all at once! But, I think that perpetually trying to maintain a pantry of two or more completely different eating styles is going to be more expensive than getting everyone on the same page. I do realize that some families don't have a choice, with food allergies and such, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing. It can just get to be more high maintenance and need more careful planning. Some families would just rather get everyone on the same page for ease of planning and budgeting, and that's what I'm gradually doing with my own. Honestly, I don't have the patience or energy to make different meals for myself and the rest of the family; or myself and hubby and the rest of the family. I can do THM, where everyone eats the same meal and you just add an extra side or two for growing kids; where you have so many options that you really can do it on a pretty low budget...again, careful planning is necessary, but even that really doesn't take up much of my time.

So, that's what's going on in the kitchen of our home lately. I hope to blog occasionally about my THM journey, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 2, 2015

School, Fall Colds, and Cleaning. Oh, MY!

My goodness, this has been quite an interesting week! I think we got all of about 2 days of actual sit-down, book school done. But that's okay, because actual in-the-thick-of-it, life school is constantly being done around here, too.

We are still on our last week of USA geography for North America. V is an old hand at telling me where all the states are since he's had years of review, but A impressed me. He just learned his states last school year, and he can fly through them just as fast as V now. In science we are learning about the different layers of the forest, and this week is especially about tree identification. Just for fun, hubby decided the other day that we would all take a field trip to the local zoo, which also happens to have fantastic exhibits of different tree and plant life as well as animals. It was a fun day.  My crack-up of the day was when we saw some kudu and A shouted, "Hey, look at the cantaloupe!" LOL! We had to tell him he meant antelope, but that wasn't what he was looking at at the moment. "Besides," I told him, "cantaloupe is delicious." Hubby had to step in and say that antelope also, are in fact delicious. I had to concur. Now the kids want to try some!

A and S have also been taking turns with colds/allergies/sinuses/whatever you want to call it. It's nothing serious, just enough to put an annoying kink on our week. It's one of the reasons I've taken it easy on the stricter schedule this week. I just realized, too, I need to order more doTerra On Guard...I learned last year this is about the time to start stocking up on all those winter illness oils!

 V is also on his last week of 8-hour shifts at work. It's really put a kink into our school routine, even though it's only 3 days a week, so next week he's going to half-days so we can get "together school" done in the morning. Then he can go to work after lunch while I finish up with the youngers, and he can do his on-his-own stuff when he gets home later. We are so blessed that he can pretty much make his own schedule there and continue to get experience in learning the ins and outs of computers, hardware, and software.

Since V is on his last full day of work today and hubby is at training until a little later this afternoon, the youngers and I have spent the morning POWER CLEANING! Ah, power cleaning. I have missed you. I used to power clean so much more often, but just haven't been able to keep up like that the last couple of years. I hope now that the kiddos are getting older (aka, more helpful) I will be able fit some more house home keeping into our days. I have gotten to a point where I can tolerate the clutter in the name of making sure the kids don't remember me as an obsessive museum-keeper. However, I am still never really at ease around it. When I can get my house nice and clean, I really am happier at heart and less stressed out. I really want to go through on some of hubby's off-weeks and get some good de-cluttering done. We have too much STUFF again, and I'm really just wanting to clear surfaces, cabinets, and closets. Why is it we seem to think that because we have a space, it needs to be filled?

In similar news, the pantry challenge has been so fun and has been working out so well, I decided to continue it instead of putting the stuff back. Things are getting used up and we've been having some pretty good meals because of it, and everyone's been really happy with the results. So, since we still have stuff to use up, I will continue cooking from the pantry the next couple of weeks. Today and tomorrow are our shopping days, so we'll get some fresh things to go along with our pantry meals. I will also begin stocking up on Trim Healthy Mama staples, since we will be going back to that when I'm done going through the pantry stuff. When I get back on track, I will start posting our weekly menus.

So, that's been our week in this home! I'm not sure yet what the weekend has in store for us, but I hope y'all have a fantastic one!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

This is, Like, the Best Night!

I ruined it. No. I almost ruined it. A post on Facebook reminded me that the Supermoon eclipse was happening tonight. I ran to the window and looked out. Whew! It was just starting. I called the kids over and gave them a brief science lesson while they looked at the umbra just beginning to pass over the moon. The view we would have from anywhere in our immediate yard would be a disadvantage, so we turned off all the lights and gathered around the living room window to watch.

It was so nice and peaceful...staring at the still-bright moon in the quiet darkness. Then the dog ran to the window to see what we were all staring at. He growled when he detected movement as the neighbors stepped out of their own door in the dark to see what they could see. It did not take them long to discover that their best view would be from inside as well, and so they headed back in. A and S started play-fighting in the recliner they were laying on together to watch the moon. V started getting antsy. Soon, I found myself yelling. Once. Twice. Grrr. They were ruining my OUR Supermoon experience!!! Then, "HEY! This isn't going to happen again until 2033! Is making me mad how you want to remember this?!" Ahem. Yup, I went there. Sigh. Thankfully, it didn't take long to feel the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit, "Is this how YOU want to remember this?"

As the youngers found their flashlights and began flashing them around the kitchen and dining room, I closed my eyes and had a conversation with my Father right there in the midst of the chaos. He calmed my spirit and took away that nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling that kiddo chaos sometimes brings me due to my MS and thus, my irritation melted away. God is good!

Their game eventually evolved into a game of hide-and-seek in the dark house with their flashlights. Their big brother joined them which automatically makes everything ten times louder. Every time they went by the living room windows they looked out at the moon and showed genuine excitement as it got closer to total eclipse and the color got more red. The boys were being loud, but not obnoxiously so, and having a blast. I thanked God for checking me.

Suddenly, I heard A exclaim, "This is, like, the BEST night! It's like a PARTY!" Sigh. This time, it was a happy, grateful sigh.

While the eclipse has peaked, I'm letting the youngers stay up for awhile so they can see the shadow leaving the moon. As I type this, the lights are still out, and they are having fun playing in the dark. They are a little quieter now, since I had to check them a little bit kids have a tendency to wind up, and up, and UP when they play together if they go too long without a reminder. But they are content and playing happily, while running in to check on the moon once in awhile. They We all got to have our special Supermoon night together, and I'm praying they will remember the fun, stay-up-late "party" they had in the dark rather than my not-so-proud moment in the beginning.

After all, it is, like, the BEST night!  ;-)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Have I Prayed Enough?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; ~Philippians 4:6

I've been thinking lately. I know, scary right? Seriously though, ever since I decided to make a change, I've been thinking about my prayer life. I hate to admit it, but I'm just being real here, I don't think I pray nearly as much as I should. It's a bad habit I picked up. Back when I was first truly saved, I used to have constant conversations with God throughout the day...the line was open between us. I've noticed quite often lately that that doesn't seem to be the case all the time anymore. And I know for a FACT it's my own fault.

I can't remember where I've heard it lately, but I've been thinking about this: Following a formula takes away the need for prayer. When I get into the habit of looking at "model Christians" and forget to also look past them and ask God what He would have me do, I start thinking that if I could only be like those models, I'll be good to go. I'm not talking about salvation here. Only Christ can do that for each one of us. I'm talking about living our everyday walk as a follower of Christ. If I start putting together a formula to live out my life as a Christian based on what I see people doing (people *I* deem, no less, to be "model Christians"), I get lazy and begin following the formula rather than doing as I ought and bringing everything to God in prayer and supplication. And in that, more times than not, I forget the thanksgiving part, too. I am NOT talking about reinventing the wheel, either. In itself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with following other Christians' examples. I think we should be setting an example for each other and the world! What I'm saying is, instead of just looking at someone's example and saying "Yep, that's the way I'm going to do it, too" (totally preaching to myself here); look at their example and ask God if that's the way He wants you to do it, or if perhaps He has another way in mind for you and your family. I'm also not talking about loose interpretation of Biblical commands, either. If the Bible says we should do something a certain way, then by all means, we need to do it that way. I'm talking about areas where the Bible doesn't exactly get specific...I actually started to list some things here at first, but then decided against it. I could go on and on with examples of things to pray about, but that isn't the point, and I hope you get the picture.

Another thing that gets in the way of that open prayer line is me not wanting to hear from God. My head is bowed in shame, but anyone else? I know from talking to others that I'm not alone in this. When Christ said we need to become as children to enter the Kingdom, I'm pretty sure he didn't have this in mind. This one reminds me of our dog, Marcus. Marcus is the Daddy's boy in the family. Seriously, if the rest of us disappeared and only hubby was left, this dog simply wouldn't notice. He does love the rest of us, but he LOVES I said, a Daddy's boy!  Every time hubby walks in the door, even if he was just out getting the mail, Marcus greets him like he's been gone for weeks. Recently, Marcus has gotten a taste for getting in the garbage. He ONLY does this when everyone is gone. We have since learned our lesson and started latching his kennel door when we all leave, but before that, the following would happen: We would walk in the door, including hubby, and NO MARCUS! He would be hiding in his kennel (we just never latched it before). Sure enough, when we walked through the house, he would have garbage strewn all over the place that he had dug out of the garbage cans. And as much as he LOVES Daddy and loves greeting Daddy, he KNEW what he did was wrong and didn't want to get in trouble. I wonder if he thought that if he stayed in his kennel, we wouldn't notice the mess? Don't we sometimes do that with God? Sometimes we ignore that still-small voice prompting us, or we conveniently "forget" to pray about something because deep down, we know we will get an answer we don't like. As if that would perhaps make it so that God doesn't notice we're doing something we're not supposed to. :-) Garbage strewn around the house by a dog is definitely noticeable, and so is our disobedience whether it's direct or not.

I acknowledge that it will be tough getting back into the habit of praying without ceasing, but I also know that with God, "...all things are possible to him who believes." ~Mark 9:23

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Happy first day of Autumn/Fall/Autumnal Equinox! Whatever you call it, it's my absolute favorite time of year.

I am sitting down to a nice, quiet dinner alone. It's Wednesday, AWANA day, and my kiddos all chowed down and hurried out the door to be brought to church. Ds14 is too old for AWANA, but he's in youth group on the same day. This is usually hubby-and-me time, but since he's giving a message for the AWANA kiddos tonight, it's just me time. Most of the time I'm not too thrilled having the house totally to myself, but I'm slowly getting used to enjoying it as the kids get older. A lot of times, I will get some cleaning or de-cluttering done.

Today, I have a short & sweet shopping trip to make. Other than that, I may waste a little time browsing Fall-ish things on Pinterest, or perhaps catching up on some Fall magazine reading that I've been saving for some down time. After the school day we've had today, I need to let my brain rest awhile.

It was a WONDERFUL day! We are in my favorite year in the My Father's World curriculum cycle, Exploring Countries & Cultures (ECC), which is a year of Geography before we jump back into the history cycle.  It is just so fun learning about all the different countries, and then I will try to make at least one meal from the country we're learning about. I love, love, love the missionary story read-alouds, too! For the longest time, V wanted to be a missionary because of some of these books. Now, he has his sights set on being a police officer.  Either way, I would be one proud mama!

Today, V helped me teach the youngers our National Anthem. Poor thing had to, and they were all giggling at their mama as I of course, teared up as I was teaching what some of the lyrics mean and then again as we sang them. There is just something about singing this song together with my kiddos that makes me start bawling, especially with the state our nation is in today.

I also teared up a little as I was teaching V and A together, because I heard in the other room S reciting his AWANA verses out loud. My heart just melted! Later, he wanted to say them out loud to me to make sure he was ready for tonight. These boys never cease to make me proud of them.

There were also times of laughter, especially when V took the dog outside to go potty "while there was a break in the rain." Now I need to mention, our dog LOVES water. Most of the time. He will be the first to jump in a lake, or pond, or whatever. But he will NOT set foot outside when it's raining. It doesn't matter if it's been raining all day and he hasn't gone out all day...he has, like, an iron bladder when it comes to going out in the rain. That should explain V wanting to take him out while we had a break in the rain, which is just what he did. While they were out there and the dog was looking for a place to go, it goes from nothing to heavy down-pouring. The youngers start cracking up and A says, "Hmm, God must be having a little humor with Marcus (our dog)." Oh, that made me laugh!

Of course, we had times of arguing, frustration, and me wanting to pull my hair out. That goes with the territory, doesn't it?

So yes, it's been quite the full day in our misfit homeschool. I wouldn't want it any other way, either! I am so thankful when I am granted these moments of quiet, but I am also glad they are only for a moment because I am ever so thankful for the wonderful blessings that bring chaos to our home as well. ;-)

Now, I'm off to the store. And then? A little indulgence in my love of Autumn. Thank you, God, for all the seasons!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pantry Challenge

Today, my youngest kiddo is feeling under the weather. I'm thinking he's more sensitive to the weather like his Mama. He's been snoozing off and on all morning, so it's just me and A for school this morning.  My oldest is working, so he will get his school in when he comes home.

In order to move things around for other expenses, our grocery budget is pretty tight this pay period. I decided to make it fun and give myself a pantry challenge. I've seen these before around the blogosphere and really enjoy seeing how creative people can get when they're cleaning out their pantry. I've tried participating myself, but of course everyone has different things in their pantry and well, let's just say I have a hard time getting creative.

Well, I decided to challenge myself on just that, so a few days ago, I had the younger kiddos pull out all of the food from our kitchen cupboards that I would use to cook or bake with. Then I grouped everything into like items so that I knew exactly how much of everything I had.

I took some of the money that I did have in the budget and bought some meat and a few fresh things like eggs and cheese. There are also things in our closet pantry that I will pull out as the things on the counter dwindle, if needed. I'm actually excited about this, because 1) I'm cleaning out my cupboards, 2) I'm using up stuff that would have been ignored until it was time to trash them, and 3) we get to have some fun meals and desserts!

Fortunately, I have lots more counter space, so having this one taken up is not a problem for me. I realize not everyone has this luxury, but having everything where I can see it and where I constantly have to look at it does two things. It helps me be more creative by being able to see what I have, and it motivates me to use everything I can so that I can get my counter back!  When this pay period's up and I can go back to normal menu planning, I will put things back in the cupboard and reclaim my counter.  I just hope it's a LOT less than what I pulled out. Some of these things really needed to be rotated out. Later on, I will work at restocking with things that we consistently use.

For now, I'm off to "dig up" some lunch and get back to school with my middle child. :-)

I would love if you would share what kinds of meals you come up with when you're eating out of your pantry or working with a smaller-than-usual budget!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Typical (or not) Monday

(I know I'm not the world's best photographer, and I'm okay with that.)

Today on the school-front, it's catch-up day. Most Mondays, V volunteers with our church at a local homeless shelter.  While he's gone, I do school with A and S and then catch up ds14 when he gets home in the afternoon. Both V and hubby have crazy schedules, so it keeps our school schedule all over the place. It used to really drive me crazy, but now I've gotten used to it, and I'm not sure what I would do with a "normal" schedule.  LOL! As an example, today we did no book school, since V has a bit more to catch up on from last week. Since their school all kind of works together, I didn't want to overwhelm my oldest by getting the littles too far ahead.

Instead, they did their chores this morning and then watched one of their current favorite Netflix shows while I caught up on some kitchen tasks. Nope, my kids did not join me! I'm not against kids in the kitchen, and yes, my kids are learning to cook and work in the kitchen. However, I do it in bite-sized chunks (pun totally intended). I am very territorial when it comes to my kitchen, and I really have to be in the right mind-set to share tinkering privileges in there. Anyway, I made hamburger buns for tonight and roasted up the pumpkin that came out of our garden. I'm going to just make it into puree and I really want to make some into a pie for dessert tonight. But I still need to feel out my energy levels. While the MS monster has really done a good job of keeping itself at bay lately, my tank does go empty and the level I start with each day varies greatly, especially in Spring and Autumn when the weather is constantly changing.

Due to a change in our plans today, I had to meet with the hubby to leave V with him so they could go to the chiropractor. Because of that trip, I got to get a coffee cooler from Caribou, which is a rare induldgence! So, I sent the youngers outside to enjoy this WONDERFUL, breezy, blue-skied, Fall afternoon so that I can get my kitchen pulled together for dinner. Oh, and enjoy my coffee of course. ;-)