Monday, 24 September 2012

Peak 313 Challenge Check in #2

Today is check in #2 for the Peak 313 LivingActive challenge. I exercised 5/7 days last week with a mix of cardio and weights. So far I am feeling stronger both physically and spiritually. I really enjoy the "Soul Food" that goes along with each week. Last week's verse was,

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
 Each day has enough trouble of its own"
Matthew 6:34

How true is that!??!?! So each day I focused on the exercise/workout/jog at hand. I didn't worry about what I couldn't do the day before. I didn't worry about how I would fit in fitness the next day. I even took the verse to heart for every moment. If I had to drop weights in Rep 1 I didn't worry about it and when Rep 2 came up I gave it even more. I have been learning lately to really let go of worry and to put myself into God's hands more. Amazing things happen when I am in God's hands.

As far as exercise went here is a quick breakdown:

Monday- Level One Extreme Shed & Shred

Tuesday - Level Two 30 Day Shred

Wednesday- 1/2 hour fast walk (pushing stroller)

Thursday- 1/2 hour interval jog (pushing stroller)

Friday- OFF

Saturday- Level Four Ripped in 30

Sunday- OFF

As you can see I took two OFF days this past week. Not so much intentionally but because I was literally OFF on both those days. My schedule and routine were whacked and I didn't get make the opportunities. This week I am really going to try to hit up six days again. Today feels like a jog kind of day, I may possibly round it out with some arms work. 

I have a new verse for this week too, it's a good one. It's about cravings (as I eat my square of chocolate). I look forward to sharing it with you next week. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal

IIIIIIIIIIt's Homeschool Mother's Journal Time.

In our homeschool this usual I do a separate blog post on this. I do that almost more of a way for me to keep track. Plus I like the idea of being able to look back on my thoughts on how each week went. It is a learning process for me as well. In short, we had a bit of a lazy week but in the end some great seeds were sewn and we will be ready to get back at 'er on Monday. For a longer description please check out Homeschool This Week (Sept. 17-21).

Places we're going and people we're seeing...We saw our friend the geologist this week. He brought over some very neat and shiny rocks for the boys to check out to help introduce our earth science. Evelyn kept trying to pocket the fool's gold. It went over very well. We also had some nice evening outings that included fall evening walks, hazelnut lattes (for me of course) and pit stops at the park. 

My favourite thing this week...stocking up on tea. I am a bit of a tea nut. I love finely flavoured loose teas. I happen to live in decently close proximity (15 minute walk/5min drive) to a fabulous tea store in Canada. If you live in Canada and have a David's Tea nearby you MUST get there. I had intended on only restocking two of my favourites and trying one new but as usual I couldn't restrain myself. I restocked three (Pumpkin ChaiFantasy Island, and Salted Caramel). Then I just HAD to check out their Fall teas. I picked up Banana Nut Bread (which has real banana chips in it) as well as Toasted Marshmallow. I have already made myself a Toasted Marshmallow latte and it was AMAZING! I drink tea on average two to three times a day so I go through it a lot. 

Things I'm working on...operation get the junk out of the house. It is pretty simple really. I am going through all those deep dark tucked away spaces (like closets and and basement corners of boxes and bins). I turfed out a contractor size garbage bag full of stuff yesterday. That was JUST from our bedroom closet alone. 

I'm reading...Colossians. I am enjoying the Good Morning Girls study so much. So far I am finding it affirming, refreshing, and inspiring. 

I'm cooking...hamburger soup for supper tonight. Mmmmm. I have the nice parmesan to sprinkle on top and we picked up a couple mini multigrain baguettes to go with. Totally perfect for the cold, gloomy, and rainy last few days we have had. It also makes a TON of leftovers so I am happy to have lunch tomorrow covered. 

I'm grateful wonderful husband. Not a day goes by where I don't tell him how much I love and appreciate everything he does for us. He works in the sun and heat for us and in the snow and cold for us. Today he is out their in the wind and rain. A part of him enjoys his job but a greater part I know wishes he were already out on the road touring. All in due time. All in due time. 

I'm praying for...patience. Oh man do I need it. If I keep it in the forefront of my mind I do much better. It is so easy though to lose one's cool when one child if driving his hot wheels on the tops of canned goods, one is whining about not getting the cereal they wanted (which was already in the cart btw), and the baby is literally trying to scale her way out of the cart. I survived. And decided that shopping carts should also come with shoulder straps in addition to waist straps. 

I'll close it off with the last question...A photo to share...this was my view from the kitchen the other night. I love being able to look over and see my family enjoying the music. 

Homeschool This Week (Sept. 17-21)

It's Friday! That means it is time for another wrap up of our homeschool activities this week.

This week didn't have a whole lot going on. It became a bit more of a learning by living kind of week. We had a variety of things going on so I figured we would just flow with it.

Monday began with a visit from a dear friend. Hold tight and I'll quickly explain. He is one of my sister's besties. His dad is our dad's bestie. His dad is my Godfather. We chose him to be Max's Godfather (along with my sister as Godmother). Not only is he a friend BUT he is also a geologist. He is a super cool guy. He goes on geological digs most of the year (except when a volunteer forest fire fighter in the summer). So when our dear friend the geologist came over he brought us some rocks. We learned about igneous rocks, deep mining, fools gold, differences between hard and soft rocks. The boys just kept firing questions and he kept answering. Next time he visits he plans to bring some other rocks samples for the boys to look at. It was a great way to kick off our earth studies. We followed up a little throughout the week with some reading of See Inside The Earth.

In general geography we continued making some more circles. It is going to be fun putting all of them together.

Throughout the rest of the week we remained a bit low key. We hit up math a few times. Viktor worked through more pages of basic addition in his workbook. I am finding that the more basic the question layout the better he understands it. We will be doing some additional worksheets to solidify before we move on for sure. Max worked on his Number 2 worksheets. He really likes getting right in there (for short bursts anyways) so I am always printing off a variety of sheets for him to do.

At first glance it seems as though we didn't do very much in the way of Language Arts. We have yet to really delve into the phonics curriculum. I am not overly concerned though. We do a lot of reading. They really enjoyed hearing A Prairie Alphabet. It is even a childhood favourite of mine. This book serves double duty as well with both lessons in both LA and Canadian Geography. There are other versions as well I look forward to nabbing such as A Mountain Alphabet. Viktor also does a TON of spelling and reading prep with all the Angry Birds stuff he does. It is CONSTANT! He knows more words than even he thinks he does.

Max did some letter B worksheets this week. Same kind of thing as his number worksheets. Keep a variety on hand and keep them coming. He blasts through them.

Music class this week was comprised of a few rock out sessions with Daddy. Sometimes we will crank the iTunes, Daddy plugs in and plays along, and we, well, rock out. The kids play air guitar, someone starts plunking on the piano, someone is dancing and someone is pretending that two pencil crayons are drumsticks on a bench.

In our Daily Wind Up Viktor continued to record the temperature, weather, and moon phase (picture), in our log book. It is really neat now being able to look through and see the moon phases like that. We also discovered some neat NASA videos that show us the September sky and what planets, constellations, and events we can see and when. Very cool. Viktor kept pausing and playing the video so he could draw it all. I also had to start a log book for Max. He was none too impressed that he didn't get to draw the moon (don't know what I was thinking there).

Today is Friday!! That means our week is also done. Today was a grocery day. I am going to start altering things so that Friday is a free day. I need the one day a week to do our grocery shopping and whatever else needs to be done. Stores on the weekend are busy enough that they don't need our level of crazy added. At first I felt kind of guilty that I wasn't getting that full five day week but now I just figure we can call it Life Skills Day. They help make the meal plan, they help make the shopping list, they help look and shop for the groceries and other necessities.

This weekend holds some a lot of house cleaning and some a lot of finishing off of a few things that we didn't fully get through this week. I have a few tracer pages for both of them in a few subjects and we need get in some more dino unit. I got an email from my parents and we know what they have been up to so this weekend we will begin piecing some things together poster board style. We may do some nature walks to collect a few items for upcoming art projects. Hopefully by Monday we are further ahead than we are behind. Here's hoping.

Is it just me or is it really scary how fast September is going by??

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

How About A Little Faith 2/2

If you made it through Part 1 and came back for more, good for you :) and Thanks!!

I'll add some more backstory here...

I have a fascination with other religions. I took a number of comparative religion classes in University. Not only did a gain a certain level of appreciation for other Faiths in this world but it gave me a deeper appreciation of even my own Faith. I feel that as a Christian/Catholic there is a lot that I can learn from other Faiths. In no way does the knowledge I gain from this affect my own personal beliefs. If anything it makes me that much more stronger in my Faith. I take that as a testament to my convictions.

At one point in my earlier twenties I took the Alpha Course. I don't remember a lot of specifics. I remember some speakers, I remember yummy dinners and I remember talks afterward. I know I learned from the experience. I know I grew in my love of Christ and began to see how while I understood Catholicism, I didn't really understand Christianity. I know I realized I had taken Christ a bit for granted. Without that course I also would be still stuck in a little shell where I could not talk about my Faith. At. All. I found it intimidating to speak about it. Going to the Alpha course and seeing how comfortable others were with sharing and praying together really helped me.

Speed forward to today. This moment.

I am at a point in my life now (I just turned 30! a month ago!!) where I feel a greater need to tend to my spiritual well being. I began the Good Morning Girls study of Colossians on Monday. I am three sets of verses in and I am already learning so much. The talk of hope and faith is right up my alley. I feel affirmed. I feel inspired. After reviewing the scripture and observations and discussing them with my Bible study buddy Becky I began to hear the music in my head and the perfect words. Words that are straight from Colossians. Hope. Faith. 

I dug out my Catholic study books the other day too. Getting them ready to be delved into again. Not often can you find a FREE resource that is so fantastic. The books are excellently thought out. They refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which I often refer to as "the big green book"). The study booklets are great and the fact I can answer the tests online is perfect. Each time I finish a book and complete the test I can order a new book. So far I have worked through We Believe and We Worship. I currently have Mary, Christ's Mother and Ours on the go.

I also at this moment have my Women of Faith study guide sitting in my lap. The one about Living a Life of Balance. I am vowing right now that I will have finished chapter one of this book before I go to bed tonight. Balance, here I am, come and get me.

Speaking of balance I have done an overabundance of writing today. Time to switch gears. Dishes, laundry and a workout are begging to be done. I'll leave you with this...

How About a Little Faith 1/2

I decided to make this a two parter. This part is some back story with some kids involved. The next is more about myself.


In the past I have been a bit tentative to speak about my faith, especially here on my blog. I have made a few mentions in past posts and a listen to any of my music is usually a good give away. BUT I have never really dedicated a post to it. I am however feeling a little inspired right now about sharing this part of my life.

So just a quickie back story. I was baptized Catholic. I received my first communion at age seven. I took weekly Catholic Catechism classes all through out my grade school years. I was confirmed at age 15. I attended Mass regularly in my early twenties. I was a Music Minister at my parish for five years. I have been on a pilgrimage where I had the awesome opportunity to hear the Pope speak to hundreds of thousands of youth on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne, Germany. My husband and I were married in the Catholic church and both boys have been baptized as Catholic. Evelyn isn't...yet. I worked as a secretary at a Catholic high school for 3 years and was an executive assistant for the executive director and board of the Catholic Women's League of Canada for 9 months (I discovered Evelyn was on the way when I started working there).

Confession: I feel guilty that I do not take my children to Mass regularly. I have a few poor excuses. First off, I feel overwhelmed taking kids to church. I always feel that their hijinx are distracting to the other parishioners. I also feel guilty going to my Parish and not being musically involved. It hurts my heart to be at a Mass without a note of music and know that I have the power to completely change that BUT I can't do it with three children in tow. Unfortunately my husband often has to work on a Sunday if the weather during the week was uncooperative so that puts a major crimp in plans. Pretty lame excuses. I know. I am working on this. No longer feeling a connection to my Parish doesn't help either. I have become a C&E Catholic and I don't like it much.

Moving forward. We may not regularly go to Mass BUT we have a A LOT of faith and spirituality in our home. My children know about God and Heaven and Jesus on the cross. They know that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. Sometimes they wear one of my rosaries because it makes them feel good. We read stories from their children's bibles. They enjoy hearing Just In Case You Ever Wonder before bed. We listen to the Christian stations in the van and they hear me singing my own songs of praise all day. Without a doubt my children know that God is great and powerful and amazing and awesome.............

Given the ages of the boys now it is time to start some more official Bible studies and learning about the faith they have been baptized in. As a homeschooler I have the opportunity to add this to our day. While I did not choose to homeschool for reasons of faith I can not deny the possibility that God still led me to the choice to homeschool. I will be ordering very shortly two important resources. Our Bible study The Great Adventure Series and our Catechism study from the Faith and Life Series.

In addition to those we are beginning our character studies with the Kids of Integrity materials. That is some super cute stuff there. I am also looking forward to getting into the Truth in the Tinsel materials (but in due time, I'm not rushing fall, yet).

We are also going to be veering off in a different direction. Anyone who has seen a picture of my husband (there are a few on here) may notice that he is of Aboriginal descent. It would be shameful on our part to not teach the children anything about their Cree heritage. With that in mind we will be teaching them in a variety of ways the Seven Sacred Teachings. These teachings are very plain and very simple. They are at the core of one's being. They are: Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility, and Truth. Now some may run for the hills upon hearing us teaching our children aboriginal teachings but they do not stray that far off the Christian path. True they may refer to the Great Creator (but in this house we interpret that to mean God) and yes there may be additional symbolism (that we understand as such) but the core values are universal.

I can only pray that using the tools at my disposal and the guidance of God that I am doing a good enough job to lay a foundation of Faith in my children. Nothing like setting some lofty goals.

That about wraps up my Part 1 on this subject. Part 2 is coming up shortly.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Peak 313 Challenge Check In #1

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken". Ecc 4:12

How true those words are in my life. I may have made significant changes in my health and fitness. I may have lost a significant amount of weight so far. But I have not done this alone. I have the support of family and friends. I have an online network that gives me ALL my accountability. I HAVE to weigh in every Friday. I have people who are even now looking to me for advice and inspiration on their weight loss journey (talk about pressure eh?). Just as the words say, if I were alone in this I would have been overpowered long ago by temptation. If it were just me with one supporter I could maybe have a good defence but what of my offence? With the multi levels of support I have nothing can stand in my way.

I would also like to take this verse one step further. A cord of three strands can refer to many things. Not only does it refer to the connection of people but it means something even deeper. It is the connection between mind, body, and soul. Strength of mind and strength of soul are contributing to my strength of body. There is so much to be said for will power and motivation and determination. Bind these together and you have yet another cord of three strands.

I feel very good about this past week's challenge. The challenge goal is to exercise four times this week. I did it six days. Here is a look at my fitness accomplishments this week:

Monday- Extreme Shed and Shred Level 1
Normally this workout takes 45 minutes including warmup and cool down. I was only able to make it through the warm up and 2 1/2 circuits. I believe that would put me at about 20-25 minutes of heavy exercise. If Evelyn hadn't woken early from her nap that day I would have completed the entire level. Yes, I am blaming the baby, and her incoming molars.

Tuesday-Ripped in 30 Level 4
This is a half hour workout. I can describe it in one word. Intense.

Wednesday-Extreme Shed and Shred Level 2
This time I got through the entire 45 minutes of Level 2.

Thursday-Shred It with Weights
This is a 25 minute kettle bell workout. I <3 the kettle bell workout. This is a lower impact workout but still heavy exercise. So far I am using a 5 lb dumbell but I hope that I can upgrade to an 8 or 10 lb kettle bell soon.

Friday-40 minute walk X 2
The first walk was an afternoon trip with the kids to the grocery store. I could have taken the van but decided to walk instead. The second walk was a family evening walk. Usually our full family route takes us an hour and a half but Daddy had a long day so we cut the walk shorter than usual.

Saturday-OFF DAY

Sunday-Interval Jog/Walk 30 minutes
I am now up to 3 minute jog intervals. I was actually surprised at how easily I breezed through the 3 minutes each time. I started to really feel as if I was creating a decent stride. My eldest often will go jog with me but at age 6 he just can't keep up (and I don't get the jog I want). We came up with a fantastic solution. He rides his bike alongside me as I jog. I loved it and he loved it. Chasing a bike sure helps get that stride gong too.

Exercise aside I did very well following and journaling my weight watchers points. I only used half my weekly flex points and I didn't eat any of my earned exercise points. Those have been goals of mine for a quite a while.

All my hard work this past week though did really pay off. Between diet and exercise I dropped 2.6 lbs. Woot Woot!

Since it is Monday again I have a new verse to print out and I am working up the ambition to do a workout. Not sure which one to do. The boys just finished watching some Power Rangers so maybe I'll fire up the Shed and Shred Level 1 again. Get in some kick boxing :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal Entry

This is my second Homeschool Mother's Journal Entry. I am already enjoying these. I enjoy the element of introspection. I normally don't have too much trouble looking within and deciphering my levels of oddness but this is different. I get to delve a little bit deeper. Here are my answers for this week...

In my life...we bid my parents farewell as they go on a long journey overseas. They will be gone for a month and visiting China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. We will follow along with their itinerary and check out our atlas and the internet to see where they are and what they are doing. Voila! Following Grandma and Grandpa on their trip becomes a Geography Unit!

In our homeschool this week...overall everything went well. We made great progress in our social studies units and got into our math curriculum. For more on what we covered this week please read my post Homeschool This Week (Sept 10-14) or my School of the Rock page where I will be chronologically filing our Homeschool This Week posts.

I am inspired by...the beauty of fall. I've had to stash my Birkenstocks and bring out my moccasins. I think the duvets are next. I love sweaters and scarves and cool noses. Fall flavours, colours, smells, and textures are invading my home!! I <3 fall. Thank you God for Fall.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...just our regular errands and seeing regular people. Nothing extraordinary. One thing for sure though is that we try to spread smiles and happiness where we go. A walk to the grocery store needn't be a chore. There is a lot to be said for making a conscious effort to enjoy life.

My favourite thing this week was...finally seeing the finished promo video for the bands that Daddy plays in. The videos were simply awesome. We watch them every day. The kids love dancing and singing along and pointing out when Daddy is on screen.

Things I'm working on...time management. I look at the hours in the day and I look at what I have to accomplish and while I know there is enough time I just can't seem to get things into the right time slots or segments. It's a juggling game. I'm working on it though. Experimenting if you will with what works best for us. I am not seeking a strict schedule per se but more of a general routine. We'll get there. Slowly and steadily.

I'm grateful dear friend Becky. We met online over a year ago. We got to meet in person this past Spring. We chat online frequently, sharing ideas and stories. We have bonded over our similar age babies, faith, and our choices to homeschool. This past week she also started a blog. Please pop over to Raising His Children and show my friend Becky some love.

I'm praying for...the upcoming week. That it be filled with love and peace not only for our family but for everyone out there in the big wide world.

Now it is time to go and spread some happiness :)

Homeschool This Week (Sept. 10-14)

This will just be a short little review of what we did during homeschool this week. During the week it seems like we do so much but when I look back after we are out of the thick of it it doesn't seem like we did much of anything. I know we did accomplish some things though. Some activities we flew through and some made me feel like beating my head against a wall. You win some, you lose some.

I am approaching September with a very lax attitude. Not lazy. Lax. We are going through our subjects at a nice easy pace. Introducing things gradually so as not to blow anyone's mind yet.

Language Arts
So far we are just doing a lot of reading together and a lot of me reading out loud to the boys. I like to think that we are creating an environment for reading enjoyment. I am adding more discussion after our reading. Getting a little reading comprehension in there. This coming week though brings the introduction of our phonics unit.

We began working out of our math curriculum. This is something that will require A LOT of patience on my part. I could sense right away where I was pushing too much. I must also say that I have already seen where more reinforcement is necessary and acted appropriately and sourced additional worksheets which I was immediately told were "so much easier". It wasn't that they were easier but presented in a slightly different way. That just goes to show how much difference a delivery method can make. And once again one of the beauties of homeschool :)

Max on the other hand took to his worksheets right away. At his level he is simply colouring but the concepts are there and getting nestled in his grey matter in a subconscious kind of way.

Social Studies
As always, my favourite. We continued working through our "Who Am I/Where Am I" unit. We made our Neighbourhood, City, and Province circles and after another week they should be ready to be assembled.

We also began our Canadian Social Studies Curriculum. So far we have begun to learn how to spell Canada and sing our national anthem (which we sing every morning). The boys also coloured a map of Canada. I continue to be fascinated at how they approach things. While I imagined Vik colouring the map how I would (orderly with each Province a different colour) he took to drawing the ocean currents and what I presume is the Trans Canada Highway. It may look like a mass of scrawl on the page but I know what he is doing.

Our dinosaur unit proceeded as planed with reading another chapter of our book, learning to spell Pteranodon and other relevant words and colouring a few pictures of the creature.

We did not delve into our Science this past week. I am gradually introducing subjects and concepts this month and next week will bring on some science. I do not want to overwhelm anyone, myself included.

We did a few little crafts this week. So far we are tailoring most projects to represent the season/holiday. For now we are focusing on fall crafts. The boys really enjoyed their Fall Tree Craft. Any free drawing or colouring they did was Angry Birds or Batman. Go figure.

Nothing cooler than watching your Dad's own music video for music class. That's all I'll say about that.

There it is. Our week in a nutshell. Not too shabby actually.

Before I close I would like to make mention of something totally cool I found this week. I found CUSTOMIZABLE TRACER PAGES!!!! How cool is that?? I am busily compiling a list of all the many words we will learn with this resource. So far we used it for learning to spell Canada and words for our Dino unit. Max is doing an amazing job with the tracer sheets. To get your own tracer pages go to Happy Tracing!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Just What I Need

In the past 14 months I have gone from 247.2 lbs to 175.6. It has taken loads of determination and motivation. I have had mental plateaus (where I become complacent) and I have had physical plateaus (where my body needed an extra nudge). I have had weeks where I have had fantastic losses and weeks where there have been gains. Through it all though I have remained positive and have become enlightened in the process.

When I hit 200 it was a game changer. My body hadn't seen the underside of 210 since I was 19 and even then it lasted for only a few months. I knew if I was going to continue I would have to start exercising. I had lost 47.2 lbs through diet alone (with some mediocre and sporadic exercise, a few times a month). So that is how I started to Shred and that is how I became a bit of a fitness nut. I feel incredibly guilty if I miss more than my rest day and sometimes have to remind myself to take a day off.  If I do miss a day it is usually because the window in which I exercise (Evelyn's nap time) gets messed up.

I am currently in the best physical shape I have EVER been in. Lighter than I was in high school AND with added muscle. Yet there is still so much work to be done. I am seeking a goal weight of 150 lbs. I have 25 lbs left to go. The first 50 lbs took half as long to lose as the last 25 lbs. I fully understand that the next 25 may be twice as long as the last. That is hard to swallow. I am afraid of wussing out and altering my goal to a higher weight. I am afraid that maybe my body isn't meant to be 150. I am afraid that 150 is a weight that I can not maintain happily.

To my extreme luck though I discovered the Peak 313 Fitness Challenge. It is (as the post title says) Just What I Need! I truly LOVE the spin that she puts on fitness. My body is a gift from God and it is my duty and privilege to take care of it. So simple. This also helps me in my quest to eat whole foods. I am not putting any chemicals and junk (90% of the time) into this body, no way.

There are a few components to the challenge. Checking in via Twitter (#livingandactive) and Facebook. Linking up with a blog post. There also is a prize (which I actually didn't even realize until today). I have also added the Living and Active button to the left column of my blog (buttons are such a cool way to show support and solidarity). This challenge runs for 5 weeks so every Monday for the next 5 weeks I will blog about how I am doing, my plan and all that jazz.

My Plan
My plan is to pretty much continue as I have. I do a Jillian Michaels Shred DVD almost daily and they average 25-45 minutes (when I am extra crazy I have done an 80 minute one but that is usually reserved as punishment for a weekend of bad eating antics). I also have been dabbling in some Couch to 5K running. On my run days I often feel ripped off in the strength training so I will be checking out some of the Peak 313 youtube videos and workouts to take care of that.

As far as diet is concerned again I will continue as I have. I am a Weight Watchers girl. I am a point counter and see foods in terms of points (made up of protein, carb, fat, and fibre). All the food I make though is nutritionally sound and for the most part always has been, it is the portion control aspect I need. I am also a mostly clean eater. There is very very little processed food that enters our home and if it does it is usually something specific I need to add to a recipe (or something my mother or mother in law have sent for the kids). We don't do packaged cookies or treats as I do all our home baking. After a few years of cleaning up I can't even eat a lot of processed things as I will get a rash in my mouth almost instantly. I am no longer desensitized to the additives and preservatives.

My Accountability
I am part of a network of wonderful ladies who I am doing a biggest loser challenge with. We have been doing the challenge since July 1st, 2011 and are now on round FIVE! Together we have lost over 300 lbs, at least. We chat back and forth and give each other tips and and ideas and support. It is great. Without them my transformation never would have begun. It started as a way for everyone to lose their baby weight but for me became entire health overhaul.

To date I have come in 2nd twice, once I had to bow out (due to personal reasons) and once I didn't make the top three but must have been at least 5th. This round, this is MY round to win.

My Hopes
I hope that between having the Peak 313 Challenge and Round 5 of our Biggest Loser challenge that I will be able to blast off these last 25 lbs.

I hope that I will continue to make healthy choices for not only my body but for the bodies of my children as well.

I hope that I can increase my will power where my home baking is concerned. That is my big downfall. I'll make a pan of uber healthy granola bars but it doesn't take many before the points really add up.

I hope that the Peak 313 exercises will give me a boost to my jogging days so I can go from dabbling in jogging to actually being a jogger. I won't feel gipped strength wise if I add the exercises which will encourage me to jog more. That is my theory.

My Prayers
I am praying for the mental strength to achieve my physical strength. Motivation and determination don't come easy.

I am praying for the ability to resist the temptations of seconds, the extra handful of chips, eating the whole chocolate bar (current fav is the Lindt Dark with Chilli added, WOWZA).

I am praying for, and I know this sounds materialistic and superficial runners. I have only one pair that is a few years old. Slightly more of a fashion than function kind of runner, kind of like a basic walking shoe. They don't have the cushioning and stability for what I am doing. I also have very weak ankles, especially the left which suffered a break a few years back. My ankle is causing me a lot of pain and has more recently been requiring me to have more off days than I would like. In a way new runners are a necessity. Trouble is that the higher performance runner you need the more expensive they get (heck even basic ones are $100). I have my eye on a few and am waiting praying for a sale. Selfish I know but rolling an ankle is not good and I am afraid I am doing more damage the more I stress it.

I will close this post now. Evelyn has drifted off and I must put her in her crib. It also means that my window to exercise has opened. I think I will hit up the level four in the Ripped in 30 DVD. Afterwards I will make myself a pineapple, banana, and strawberry smoothie. Yummy!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal Entry

Yesterday I had posted regarding our first week back into homeschooling. I then added it very excitedly to the iHomeschool Network Blog Hop for the Homeschool Mother's Journal. Today though I realized that my link was removed. From what I could deduce from what I read it would have been removed due to not following the proper format. WHOOPS! Funny how in yesterday's post I noted how the boys need to learn to listen to directions better and here I am hastily linking without checking.

Sooooooo.....lets try this again. And with proper form this time (using the guideline questions that were given).

In my life this week...we started homeschool for the 2012-2013 school year, I did several high intensity work outs, we went on a few long walks and the biggest breakthrough-Evelyn slept 5 hours straight in her crib!

In our homeschool this week...please check out yesterday's post.

I am inspired by...the sunrise. Each new day is a new opportunity to make better choices that will impact my family today and tomorrow. Each day is a gift and I am inspired to lead a better and more fulfilling life every morning I am blessed to wake.

My favourite thing this week was...finding my son's second lost tooth. It fell out about a month ago and I put it in a safe spot. And then...I LOST THE LOST TOOTH. I was mortified and dubbed myself a horrible mother. BUT I redeemed myself earlier this week when I found it! Phew. So last night I got to play tooth fairy. Can you say stressful? The pressure! Rule Number 1: Don't blow your cover! I made it out alive though and the big boy was mighty excited this morning.

Things I am working, music and more music. About every day consists of 1-2 hours of it. Mostly arranging and composing and writing with a little bit of audio and video recording thrown in for fun. Writing music for God is my personal vocation (along with motherhood) and I take it seriously. Hopefully soon I can share more of my faith through my music.

I'm reading...besides homeschool resources? Nothing at the moment. Sadly I don't have much time for reading (see because of Things I'm working on). However the most recent book I read which struck a chord in me was The Red Tent. Amazing. Biblically based fiction (oxymoron anyone?). By far one of the best reads I have had in maybe years.

I'm cooking...a lot more in the oven. It seems that as soon as September hit the cool weather came and with it the urge to make more stews, roasts and apple crisps.

I'm praying, health and peace for everyone in general but then everyday there is something that happens where more concentrated prayer is needed. Such as for this little guy.

There, that ought to do it. There were a few more questions but I didn't have any good responses in mind for them. I am happy though that I noticed my link was removed so I could do this post. It was rather fun and I always like a chance to participate in things.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Back At It

It is official. Our 2012-2013 homeschool year has kicked off. The boys are excited. I am jazzed. This is a journey that my children and I are taking together. Even just yesterday watching them learn together brought tears to my eyes. It was a strong affirmation that YES we are on the right path. YES this decision is still the right one.

I could say I was surprised by how well our first days went but I'm not so much surprised as I am relieved. I set fairly low expectations (in a good way). I know there is a lot for the boys to take in. Even in public and private school the first few days are all about review, going over curricula and gearing the students up. That is what the last few days has been. Gearing them up and they are right revved.

I have to say too that there has been significantly less whining and rough housing as well. The structure and routine suits the boys. They need more focus and this is going to help them get it. We are getting our groove and I already feel more confident than I did last year. Maybe I just feel more prepared (found a way to lesson plan that really works for me). 

The vision that I have for our homeschool is taking shape before me and I am loving it. In just a few days I can already tell what some ideal strategies will be for making our homeschool a successful place for learning.

Such as but not limited to:

-Doing Math and LA when Evelyn is sleeping (this requires more concentration from both the boys and myself and I don't want them to miss out on anything, plus when it comes to math manipulative time having Miss Grabby Hands napping is just wise).

-Don't force the day to start too soon. I once had this idea that I could get up by six and have school going by 8. Nope, not happening. Am I bummed? Not really. I don't mind the extra sleep, we can leisurely get up, have a nice breakfast, kids get some early morning energy out. It also makes no sense to be in the middle of things when Daddy is leaving for work. Once Daddy is gone we get ourselves started.

-Don't start the day too late. There is a fine line between too late and too soon. If we start too late the boys have lost their "school drive" and quite frankly so have I. For example we started later today so I skipped our Wind Up. That sucked and nothing else felt right or flowed. Seems as though 9:30/10 is the ideal time around here. 

-Keep activities and lessons short. I think the longest we can probably extend something is to twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes tops with a sweet spot of probably just fifteen. Anything longer than that and I have completely lost my audience. I also have to keep them engaged the whole time or I lose them. 

-Religion class will become an evening activity. I think. I am not 100% on this yet but I feel that bible readings and prayers and learning about our faith make a perfect wind down activity before bed. I like to think that filling their little heads about God and Jesus before bed will make for nice dreams. 

-Don't Cram! Ease Up! Lay Back! Don't forget that patience is a virtue. I have to constantly remind myself to be patient. The more I push the more they will push back. Knowing what and how to push something is becoming a fine art and I am becoming a skilled painter. 

-Let go of perfection. Vik likes to do goofy things when working on sheets. He likes to do it his way. It may say make an X over something but he likes to circle it instead. It won't be unusual to see an angry bird midway through a line of 5s. I know that. I accept that. That is him and I accept him unconditionally. We can work through that. 

With those observations out of the way, how about a bit of a run down of what we did during our first three days. 

My sister had the boys for a sleepover on Tuesday evening (she took them to a corn maze the lucky ducks!).

I picked them up Wednesday around noon and we headed home for lunch which was homemade Mac & Chz with these. Perfect right? After lunch we got a few of our plans underway. We went outside and took our 1st Day of School pix and afterwards we did a little interview of what their favorite things were. This is something I plan on doing each year with them. Here is a peak of it put together.

Then the boys got to go through their buckets. Not so fast though. It was an exercise in listening to directions. I had them pull out specific things to put into their pencil cases and look at their scribblers and binders. Kind of like Simon Says. Mamma Says find your pack of crayons. Mamma Says find your eraser. At the end each were left with a bag of smarties in the bottom. Smarties for my smarties :)

After that we looked through the variety of books we were going to learn from and I told them about the things we would be learning about. They really enjoyed getting a look at the Earth Science book. Every day now (and I am sure until we actually do it) I am asked about doing the volcano. 

That was about it for our first day. Nice and easy. See low expectations.

This was our first full day. The first day where we would really get into things. Some started smoothly, some rockier but everything we started we finished. We began with our Wind Up. Some people call this Circle Time or Gathering Time or Calendar Time. I'll have to do a post on that itself someday soon. 

Snack time followed our Wind Up. Then we got into our Social Studies unit "Who I Am/Where I Am" with a little project I picked up from pinterest. I look forward to sharing it when it is finished. Next we started our History unit about Dinosaurs. I am basing this unit off of the Magic Treehouse Book Dinosaurs Before Dark. We will be taking info from the book, fact checking it, doing some timelines, some colouring, some flow charts.

After that we took a walk around our neighbourhood (which isn't out of the ordinary but did serve a greater purpose in this instance).  We capped off our day with some math. I made a last minute change to my math curriculum plans and will have to fill you in more on that later too. 

As I said before we skipped out circle time and were behind all day. Evelyn slept quite poorly last night and was quite cranky all day with a very short nap which meant a lot of our plans for the day wouldn't get done. Really the only thing we did do was some more activities for our "Who I Am/Where I Am". Today I printed off the map of our neighbourhood and we traced out the route we walked yesterday. This whole unit is for them to develop a greater understanding of where and who they are in the world which will lead nicely into our October unit on Maps/Globes/Compass. 

We didn't hit math today or science or history BUT there in lies the beauty of this whole homeschool thing. IT DOESN'T MATTER. We will do the things we missed very casually over the weekend and be back on pace on Monday without feeling like we didn't get a break or feeling like we got behind. 

Next week is going to be a big week. A full week. This is where the testing of ourselves starts. Testing the limits, boundaries, strengths and weakness of our own person. It is also where the learning really begins. It is where happiness will be shared. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Soooooo Behind....

Yup, that is me. Always behind. I am sure I could even be found procrastinating about procrastinating about something at some point. My room in high school and University was always cleanest during exam time. Hmmm, I wonder why?

I think it is because I am always thinking. I have a lot of things on the brain. I am easily sidetracked. There is always something that grabs my attention away. Perhaps on the verge of some kind of attention deficit (no enough to make it a disorder but it creates disorder in my life nonetheless). Then I tell myself it really is because I am a closet perfectionist. I deal with it best by just not doing something. If I can't do it perfectly why try. I see these traits in my son (perfectionism, lacks attention span, short fuse, obsessive, compulsive) no question who he gets it from.

Enough of the late night psycho babble though. I have excuses to lay down for my lack of posting:

-Getting ready for homeschool. Making lesson plans. Downloading and printing off resources and materials.

-Getting the laptop back up to speed. Yeah, that put me behind in a lot of things. The downed laptop threw wrenches in a lot of things and I am now finding myself recreating a lot of documents I had before. NOT fun times.

-Baby E has been a cranky sleeper. That has completely sapped all my evening time. I am on stolen time right now even. Daddy wonderfully helped her crank herself to sleep but it is a ticking time bomb as to when she will wake up. Crossing my fingers.

-Max has been taking late afternoon naps. Again. Every so often he dips back into this weird habit of having an afternoon nap. I am suspecting it is related to growth spurts. That leads to him not going to sleep well in the evening. Right now he is hanging out on the stairs nowhere near sleep. His late nights are later than I want to be awake.

-How about life? Yeah, pesky how life just gets in the way. Not even big things mind you. Just little things like laundry and dishes and cooking and kids. Believe me the number of pants I wash and the number of bowls and spoons we go through in a day would knock socks off, but I don't want to wash more socks so I won't say.

That really doesn't actually sound like much does it? Makes me feel even worse for not posting more when I see that what I have been doing doesn't amount to really anything.

Something I am trying to do though is create more order and balance. We are getting better though. Step one: The Mighty Meal Plan, has been going over swell. And step two: Implement Homeschool Schedule, should also go fairly decently. It will come together. It will come together. I will repeat that until it does. It will come together.

That is about it right now. I am procrastinating about doing the dishes right now, hence why I am writing :) and there is a kid on the stairs that needs to be led back to his bed. I have a few post outlines under way (more for the iHomeschool Blog Hop and Nature Project update to name a few) and a fun baking idea.

Part of the whole schedule/order/balance thingy includes allotting better time for blogging. I suggested to Daddy I need a few hours a week to get a coffee and take the laptop with me. We shall see about that one.