Monday, August 31, 2015

Journey Homeschool Kickoff ~ 2015/2016

Today was our first day of school! Woo hoo! We had a crazy, busy summer with graduating one child and marrying off another. We took a little extended break the last three weeks to recharge and gear up for another fantastic school year. It is so hard to believe that we are starting our 6th year of homeschool! Each and every year I am more and more thankful for the opportunities we have with home education.

We had a totally rad first day of school, and I will share all about it on Thursday. (And it will explain why I just used the phrase "totally rad".)

But, for today, I will just share a couple of photos of my two amazing students. Eli is now in the 6th grade and Brynne is in the 5th grade.

Let the school year begin!!! It's going to be a Journey to Excellence. Come along!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Random 5

1. Oh, I am SO tired of seeing nothing but sorority posts on social media! I am glad to see all these girls having fun at college ... but where are the textbooks? Am I the only one wondering if these girls are participating in anything educational? Oh, but they have found their family. Geez.

2. Dawson completed his first week of college. To say that he did so without a ridiculous amount of moaning and groaning would be a complete lie. For the first time in his life, and I mean IN HIS LIFE, he had to actually sit down, more than once, and do homework! He was appalled that he has a paper due on Monday ... in Comp class! I sure hope we make it without one of us bashing our head against a brick wall. I am thinking I might be the first.

3. Today is our last regular day before we start back to school on Monday. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth going on around this house. But it is time. My dear little ones, it is time.

4. We have finally done it! After three years of living apart the majority of the time, Rick is making the move to work remote at our home in Missouri part-time. We have worked out a trial run schedule for his company to get us through the end of the year. I am sure the system will have to be tweaked and such, but so far it is agreeable to everybody. He will be spending longer stretches of time here with more time during the week. This will allow him to participate in more of the kids sports and activities. We have made him a den in the dining nook in our kitchen which has served as our back entryway. It's just the right size for a nice desk and all of his office supplies, and gives him a little privacy away from the general hub bub of the living and dining room. Although we will all have some adjusting to do, us getting used to him being here while we do schoolwork and him getting used to us being here while he is working, I think it's going to be so great for our family.

5. It's been a crazy couple of weeks for our whole family in regard to doctor and dentist appointments. We have one more doctor appointment to get in before the month's end. And it's a good one ....

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ketogenic - Becoming My Norm

I have been on a full Ketogenic diet for a week now.

I am not sure I can call my version of the diet truly Ketogenic. I am not sure my carb levels are low enough to actually be kicking me into ketosis. And I am not going to be one that checks my ketosis levels with a meter or testing stick every day. I am not that bonkers about it.

But I do know that I have adjusted my carbs down from my normal 40-50% daily to 10-15% daily! And that is HUGE! In fact the past two days I have been closer to 10%.

I am not going to lie. It took some adjusting.

1. I had to get over the detox headaches. Yes, I was definitely addicted to carbs and sugar because I had a raging headache for a couple of days and slept horrible. But I am beyond that now.

2. I have had to make adjustments for the drastic decrease in magnesium and potassium that a low carb diet entails. I was having jittery legs at night and even caught myself right before I had a full-on leg cramp. So I am taking a magnesium citrate supplement once a day. For the potassium I am just making sure I eat enough of high-potassium foods to get my levels up. Honestly, by doing this I am eating about the same amount of potassium I was eating before, maybe even a tad more because I am so conscious about it. My go-to foods are sliced mini-portabella mushrooms, eggs, cauliflower, unsweetened almond/coconut milk, a banana before I go to bed, and I am using Morton Lite salt which is half sodium and half potassium.

3. I shoot for about 20 grams of carbs a day and then allow myself a small banana at night before bed which gives me another 20+ grams of carbs. If I can keep my carbs at around 50 grams a day I feel like I have been victorious!

4. I have spent a lot of extra time in the kitchen. But that has been mostly prep work. I wanted to have things already prepared and in the fridge or freezer so that when I am hungry I am not tempted to grab something easy (which is usually a carb). Yesterday I even froze some puree'd very ripe peaches (with water and stevia) in ice cubes so that I can use them to make a peach syrup to eat with cream cheese pancakes. The kids love having pancake and bacon nights and now when we have that I can have my own version, too, already pre-prepped.

5. For me the name of the game is not to deprive myself! This week I have successfully modified several of the family's regular meals to meet my needs. That way I am not cooking two separate dinners every night and pining away at the meals they are eating.

On spaghetti night I had zoodles with turkey meatballs and grated parmesan cheese.

Another night I had mini pepper chicken nachos while they had regular beef and tortilla nachos.

I got to have pizza by making a cream cheese pizza crust that was amazing so I had my favorite mushroom and onion pizza with no sauce (I don't care for the sauce anyway) with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses!!

Today I had cauliflower rice for the first time to make a chicken, shrimp, and mini colored peppers stir fry. It's better than real rice, in my opinion. More flavorful!

Tonight I think we will have those pancakes and bacon. (I can have lots of bacon!)

6. In this quest to low-carb I have decided to just cut out ALL grains. And I mean all grains. I have been grain free for one week! And, I am missing them less and less. I am reading Wheat Belly Total Health by William Davis, M.D., to bolster me in that resolve.

7. I have also cut out all added sugar. I use stevia for any sweetening I need to do. And it's enough.

I am not out to lose weight. At all. My goal is to quit providing my cells with excess glucose and to rid myself of my carb and sugar addictions.

So far, so good!!

I'll let you know how those pancakes turn out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

It's hard to believe but next week's Hodgepodge will find us in the month of September. What's one thing you want, need, or hope to do still before summer officially ends?

I honestly can't think of a thing. Summer is my least favorite season of the year so I am completely okay with the activities to end. We have swam enough, vacationed enough, lounged enough, and I have certainly mowed and watered enough. Maybe we will need one last trip to the DQ for ice cream, not for me but the kids would love it, and maybe another trip to the lake.

When were you last at 'your wit's end'?

It would definitely have been the two year child support hoorah with my ex-husband. But perseverance won out and the court definitely took care of the kids so it was all worth it in the end.

Describe a time you were figuratively thrown into 'the deep end'?

To me being thrown in the deep end would entail a period of panic and trying to get to the surface to get to some air as soon as possible. This would have been from a long time ago, when I got out of law school and started actually working in the legal field. I worked for a drunk solo practitioner (I didn't know it when he hired me) and he would send me on a court case without me having any idea what I was doing. Then I went into solo practice out of desperation and talk about panic and constantly searching for air!! I still have nightmares about practicing law, even the years that I worked at a large, reputable law firm and totally knew what I was doing. Man, I hated practicing law.

Does the end always, ever, or never justify the means? Explain.

"If a goal is morally important enough, any method of achieving is acceptable." (wikipedia)
I would have to say never because ANY means any method, whether moral or immoral. Just because the goal is morally important, it doesn't mean you can use immoral ways to achieve it. That doesn't make any sense. It would be like having a morally important goal of causing a rapist to pay for his assault on someone you love, and then walking up to him at the courthouse and shooting him dead as a way to reach that goal.

What makes your hair stand on end?

Snakes. Definitely snakes. Even seeing them behind a glass case at the zoo or on t.v. makes the hair on the back of my neck stick straight out and makes me shiver. I am deathly afraid of them.

I read an article on the website Eat This! Health that listed 11 foods we can eat to help end bad moods. Basically it's a feed your brain so you're less anxious, grouchy and lethargic. The foods are ... mussels, swiss chard, blue potatoes, grass fed beef, dark chocolate, greek yogurt, asparagus, honey, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and coconut. Which of these do you think would most help end your own bad mood? Which do you fear, if forced to eat, would put you into a bad mood?

Well, I ought to be in a really good mood right now (come to think of it, I am) because I have been on this ketogenic diet and eating some of those foods .. swiss chard, dark chocolate, greek yogurt, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and coconut. In fact, eggs and coconut are part of a good majority of my meals. The others are hit and miss as side ingredients. Now, if I had to eat mussels it would not be pretty. I do not want to eat anything that is trying to crawl back out as I am trying to swallow it.

What project around your home, office, or life in general feels like there is 'no end in sight'?

Oh, just all the things that come with a turn-of-the-century home ... basement leaking, hot water heater leaking, not a top-of-the-line sewer systems, bathroom needs gutted and renovated, cracked plaster on walls needs repaired, roof needs repaired, garage needs town down. Need I go on?? If it's not one thing it's several others.

Insert your own random thought here.

It's all about the choices.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Outside my window ... Oh my gosh the cooler temperatures ... in August! The highs are in the 70's this week! It's awesome, especially since the sun is also shining!!

I am thinking ... that I am thankful that my biopsy results came back showing all benign tissue. No worries!! I have a new mammogram scheduled in 6 months to establish a new baseline so we can carry on as normal.

I am (also) thankful ... for "perfect" days like yesterday. I was up at a reasonably early time and had plenty of time to do my Bible study, get caught up on my blog and e-mails, and just sit on the couch covered in a blanket (it was chilly ... in August!), and drink my coffee until the kids woke up. Kyndal stopped by to chat after her first day of work. I went for an afternoon walk to the grocery store to pick up some bananas after fixing the kids some lunch. While walking by my mom's house I saw her outside so stopped to chat with her for about an hour. Then I walked back home, put in a load of laundry, cleaned out my refrigerator (not the most perfect part of my day, but necessary), and had an afternoon cup of tea while watching an episode of Chopped and folding laundry. I fixed a yummy dinner which I was able to easily modify to fit my eating requirements so I could enjoy it, too. The kids peacefully did their own things all day. We spent the evening relaxing and watching some t.v. while I heard all about Dawson's first day of college. And then I got to bed at a reasonable time to read. At the end of the day I had exactly hit my ketogenic nutritional goals and exercise goals. All of this occurred while a nice breeze flowed through the open windows. Days like yesterday are why I love my life! (Of course we start school next week so these easy, breezy days won't occur as often, but we can still have the same attitude because we are so blessed!)

I am wearing ... pajama pants (because, again, it's chilly! ... squeal!!!) and a Canton "Shop 'til You Drop" t-shirt.

I am creating ... the final plans for our first day of school on Monday.

I am going ... to pick up the form today for Brynne to enter the Junior Miss Septemberfest contest that is next week. She has participated the past three years and won first runner-up last year. Hoping this is her year to bring home the crown!!

I am wondering ... why I can't think of anything I am wondering about. Seriously, I have sat here for 10 minutes thinking about it and I am not wondering about anything. Weird. Guess I'm content.

I am reading ... Grange House by Sarah Blake. Wheat Belly Total Health by William Davis, M.D.

I am hoping ... that I don't severely injure myself at the Wipeout Run on Saturday.

I am learning ... all about the ketogenic lifestyle and how it can work for me. It is definitely trial and error. Like Sunday I was starving even though I ate a ton of calories and yesterday I ate about 500 less calories and had to make myself eat them. I have learned that having restless legs and insomnia at night is not for me so I have allowed myself some extra carbs before bed in the form of a banana so that I can reap some extra benefits of potassium. (P.S. that seemed to help last night, along with some lavender oil.)

In my garden ... I have actually started to have some production .. crazy Missouri summer weather this year. I am using the heck out of my garlic chives and even used a jalapeƱo this week. I have lots of tomatoes but can't really eat much of them because of the carb content. But they sure are pretty!

In my kitchen ... I have been spending a ton of time! Not to be repetitive, but with this ketogenic way of eating I have had to do a lot of food prep. I do this so that when I am feeling hunger, I don't reach for that easy carb food. Instead I can use ingredients I have prepared ahead of time and put them together. I've got several things in the freezer, including a grain-free banana bread! It's not real sweet but it is something that I can heat up with some butter to curb that grain/carb craving I might be having, or to eat when my family is enjoying a dessert or sweet something of some kind. That way I don't feel deprived.

In the homeschool room ... only six more todays until the young ones start back to school! I can't say they are as excited as I am, but it is time! We need a regular schedule! Not in the homeschool room, but Dawson started college yesterday! What a big day!! I remember bringing him home to homeschool for the 8th grade with the only goal that he would at least get out of high school with the attitude of not wanting to run as far away from further education as possible. After his first class (a math class of all classes) he called me and said, "It wasn't awful." That, my friends, is what I have been praying for consistently for the last 5 years. I am looking forward to watching his success in college.

A favorite quote for today ... "There is a great divide in Christianity between those who call Jesus their Savior and those who are willing to go the next step and call him Lord, and do as He says. I fear that the 'get out of jail free card' that too many Christians are holding may not be recognized by Jesus because Jesus is in the business of changing lives today, not just in eternity." ~ Ken Alexander from Always Learning in response to the latest Josh Duggar scandal.

A peek into one of my days ... 

One of my favorite things ... Ground organic turmeric. I put it on my veggies, eggs, meat, and even in warm coconut/almond milk with some stevia (my absolute favorite way to use it, thanks to @hmama). Yum!

From the board room ... Since I have switched to a ketogenic way of eating, I have been pinning away. I am trying to find some good alternatives to some of my favorite foods, and especially some snacks. Kyndal has even been sending me pins. (It is nice to have the support of family. My mother-in-law texted me a link to an article yesterday, too.)

Here is a variation of my favorite recipe to date ... Bell Pepper Chicken Nachos. (I used 12 mini colored peppers that made 12 nachos when cut in half, used coconut oil to heat my chicken, sprinkled on a little turmeric and garlic salt instead of using fresh garlic, and eliminated the salsa and cilantro.) Holy nachos, they were good!! I didn't even crave the tortilla chips the kids were eating.

Post Script ... "Iowa Barber's Deal for Kids: Read for Haircut". This is BY FAR the best thing I read on the web all week. What a great story! What a great man!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ketogenic + Restless Legs = Insomnia ... Um, No!

Okay, I have been eating ketogenic for five days now. I have gotten through the carb detox headaches and have settled into a macro plan of 5% carbs (no grains), 20% protein, 75% fat.

The upside is that I like the idea of limiting my body of all of the glucose which will help my minor health conditions.

But there are definitely downsides!

The first is that I am having a hard time getting in enough fats under the strictures of the diet. Who knew it would be hard to eat fats? The real problem is that the fats I want to eat then include a consumption of protein and/or carbs and then throws off my percentages. Still working on that one.

The bigger issue is that for the past couple of nights I have had trouble sleeping, and I have had restless legs.

Sleeping is one of those things that I do well. I go to bed at the same time every night (for the most part) and get up at the same time each morning. I can fit in a 15-30 minute power nap in the afternoon and have no trouble going to sleep at night.

But I have noticed a direct correlation between this new eating plan and my sleeping. And that is just something I cannot accept.

I mentioned in my last post on this topic that I am not one to jump on a diet bandwagon. I am a pretty firm believer in moderation. I also know that I need to get my carbs under control and know that grains are the major culprit.

It has not settled very well with me on this ketogenic diet that you have to limit your fruits so much. To me that is not balance. But I was willing to go with it if I was reaching my desired results of having a healthy body to host healthy cells.

Last night, after a good hour of being wide-awake and very restless, I got up and ate a couple small spoonfuls of almond butter and a swallow of real milk and went back to bed. And I fell right asleep and slept comfortably the rest of the night.

I am missing carbs, and not from a craving standpoint.

My body is missing carbs. My body, at this point, needs more carbs than I am eating to get proper sleep. And because I am not eating in enough moderation I am also lacking desperately in potassium and magnesium, which medically causes restless leg syndrome and leg cramps. I am taking a magnesium supplement which will take care of that issue. But potassium supplements are trickier and you really just need your levels to be obtained from food.

I am not abandoning this way of eating. But I am going to make a modification.

I have been trying to eat around 20 grams of carbohydrates a day (versus the 150 grams I used to eat). I am going to stick to that in my normal planning of my daily foods. But before bed I am going to eat a banana, to give me those carbs and help with the potassium levels, and drink a warm glass of coconut/almond milk blended with tumeric and some type of sweetener (I am thinking chocolate/carmel popcorn seasoning .. yum!). That will have me between 50-60 grams of carbs a day, with no grains, and I think it's just what I need to do.

It's always amazing how when you start to follow a school of thought that it is easy to get brainwashed by it and then even fearful to veer from the strict guidelines. It's amazing how with just a few days of following this way of eating I am freaked out over every carb gram I consume.

That is not healthy.

I have a body to protect and right now it is telling me that I am eating too few carbs. So I am going to listen to my body and adjust my levels.

(It reminds me of when I started giving the kids probiotic gummies each day. Brynne had always had stomach/regularity issues, and Eli had his own variation of a normal gut with no stomach problems. After about a month we had two separate nights where Eli was up all night, and I mean all night, with excruciating stomach pain. We thought it might be his appendix. It occurred to me, out of the blue, after the second night that the only change in him had been the addition of the probiotic. I stopped it immediately and he has not had one problem since. Brynne has taken it consistently since that time and it solved her stomach issues. The point? Just because science tells you that you should do something for good health reasons does not mean it will work in every person's body! We are all different! If I don't up my carbs and potassium level naturally then it would be like me telling Eli at that time that, "Yeah, I know you are in extreme pain, but the health professionals say probiotics are good for you so you are just going to have to suffer." I would never do that to him, and I am not doing it to me!)

I'll keep you updated.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why I am Taking on a Ketogenic Diet

I am just not one who has ever gotten on a bandwagon when it comes to diet. I try to have a good balance of foods and nutrients and have relied on some of the science behind Trim Healthy Mama. It has treated me pretty well in relation to keeping my weight down and feeling good.

But a certain word keeps popping up in my health exams, and has been for the past few years ...


I have had a couple of separate bouts of pre-cancerous cells in my cervix. I have had one pre-cancerous spot removed from my nose and now appear to have another one forming. And then this week my follow-up mammogram showed some indeterminate calcifications that were troubling enough to necessitate a biopsy.

There is a better than good chance that the calcifications are nothing, completely benign. But with the tiny amount of family history I have with breast issues, and the fact that there were more calcifications present together than what could be classified as definitely benign, I went for a biopsy yesterday. Now we wait for the results from the pathologist. There is at least a slim chance that they could be pre-cancerous or even cancerous. (The good news is that if they are, in fact, cancer that it is a cancer called DCIS that is a Stage 0 breast cancer confined to the milk ducts and is 100% curable after a lumpectomy .. no radiation or chemo needed.)

But there is that word again ... Pre-Cancer.

And it just makes me mad.

Gosh darn it, I do my best to take care of my body! I eat as healthy as I can and exercise, take my vitamins, drink tons of water, wear sunscreen, and more. Perhaps it's my early years lifestyle coming back to haunt me or possibly it's just genetics. In any event I am not taking it lying down.

It has become obvious to me that cancer thinks it might want to take residence in my body. No way!

The first thing I always turn to when I am having a health issue is diet. What can I do to change my diet to make things better?

Research told me that cancer needs glucose to thrive. There is a pretty decent following of the theory that eating a low carb, higher fat diet is one way to battle cancer. If carbs and sugar are limited in the diet then there is no glucose to feed the cancer cells and they die.

I am believing that I do not have cancer, and I think it is doubtful that I have any pre-cancer cells in my breast. The specialist really didn't thing so, either, when he extracted the calcifications.

However, I have decided that I am not going to willingly open my body up for such a predator.

I am a carb addict and always have been! I absolutely love carbs! And they make me thick in the middle. And I need to limit them anyway. So, this is a win-win, in my book .... if I can pull it off. Extremely limiting my carb intake is going to be a major adjustment!

But my health and my family are more important than my love of carbs, so I am going to give it a true shot!

I made goals changes on MyFitnessPal to help me stay accountable. I am attempting to limit my carbs to a therapeutic level of 5% of my total daily calories. That's hard to do! It's not enough to just cut out breads, pastas, and the like. (Although I am reading and relying on Wheat Belly Total Health by William Davis, M.D., to help me with this difficult step.) Carbs are everywhere! The last couple of days I have had my levels at about 11%. I still have some work to do.

My goal is not to lose weight. I am happy with my weight and general body composition right now. And I am staying away from Trans Fats and loading up on healthy fats, primarily coconut, avocado, eggs, cheeses, and a little more butter.

What I eat will, honestly, not be that much different from what I normally eat. But I will just be cutting out cereals, pasta, and breads, and limiting my fruits while upping my veggies. I have gotten into a habit of eating about 20% Protein each day, anyway, and I will continue to push those lean proteins. The real test will be in getting in enough of healthy fats. I grew up in the Low-Fat generation.

So that's what I am up to today. While I am recovering in bed from the biopsy and cell extraction I am pinning some ketogenic foods and looking at websites. If you have any experience with this lifestyle change, I would appreciate your input!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question submitted by Marla who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks, Marla! She asks, "At what age did you feel like a grownup? What keeps you young now?"

The day after graduation from high school (when I was 3 months away from turning 18), I moved into my own apartment, by myself, in my college town 30 minutes away from my parents. I had a full-time job working at a law office and went to school full-time. I definitely felt like an adult for the first time. I was completely responsible for myself and everything I did or didn't do (until I got sick one time and had to go back home to my mom!). What keeps me young now? I definitely feel the youngest when I am eating healthy and exercising regularly. I have also always said that my youngest, Brynne, is either keeping me young or making me really old. And that changes every day. I'm going to say that she is keeping me young.

When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?

The last vehicle we purchased was my husband's used Ford Explorer. We bought it from a friend's parents. The purchase experience was just fine. But it is a Ford, so has been a constant source of stress for him, even this past weekend when the air conditioning stopped working on the way home but then started working on its own again on the way back to Oklahoma. We have definitely had 1 purchasing experiences and 10 purchasing experiences. It always depends on how much *rap the salesman tries to feed you.

Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder -- your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?

It's a toss-up between corn bread and corn on the cob. If I'm having corn bread, I want it with either fish or chili. With corn on the cob? Anything grilled!

What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?

Definitely educating my children. I try to not only provide them with a diverse education, but an enjoyable one as well. I doubt you are ever going to get them to admit that they love school. But if they look back on their childhoods and have warm feelings about our time learning together at home, then I will be happy. But I take the planning of their education very seriously! I spend hours every week dreaming and planning.

Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.

Okay, well there are several ... Grease, The Breakfast Club, Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Back to the Future. (Sorry honey, but Grease 2 did not make the cut!) But, there are two movies that take the top spots in my book. And I can't choose one over the other.

This is definitely one of my favorite movies! I was so sad to hear about the recent passing of Amanda Peterson.

And Sixteen Candles. I know every single word to this movie. A classic!!

Reading, writing, and 'arithmetic' are commonly referred as the three Rs. What are the three Rs in your life right now?

Resting (gearing up for a new school year after a very busy summer), Running (because I have some 5Ks and a 4-mile coming up and if I don't get in gear I am going to regret it), Reorganizing (purging the basement, preparing for Rick to come home to work).

What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?

I made a chalkboard sign for my niece's first day of preschool. I thought it turned out pretty good, and it was easy to do. (She did do a little smudging before the photo was taken, though.) Also, the sign didn't turn out nearly as cute as she is!!

Insert your own random thought here.

I will be having a biopsy soon of some indeterminate calcifications in one of my breasts. There are too many of them for it to be classified as definitely benign (without a biopsy) but they are not structured as to be classified as suspicious, which is good. I am not really worried about any of it, but Rick is pretty upset about it. Please pray for him and his peace of mind, and for good results.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Outside my window ... I see some cloud cover. Will we get the rain that is predicted?

I am thinking ... about my baby brother whose 36th birthday is today. Wasn't HE just 10?

I am thankful ... that we did not move Dawson into a dorm room this week but that, instead, he will be attending a local community college and living at home for the next several years.

I am wearing ... my pjs (Girls on the Run 5K t-shirt and striped pj shorts).

I am creating ... a purged basement! Yes, I am finally doing it, with the help and motivation of my mom. Yesterday we cleaned out all of the toys we have accumulated over the past 15 years or so. Ten trash bags of junk and six cardboard boxes of items to donate to our church's garage sale and we have a totally revamped one half of the basement. (I have plans for that empty space!) We are working on the other side of the basement today, and it is not nearly as daunting a task.

I am going ... to have additional scans of one of my breasts today. This one always produces questionable results in the routine mammogram. Hoping for a good report.

I am wondering ... what week we will get to go to Florida. We are waiting for the volleyball schedule to finalize our plans.

I am reading ... Grange House by Sarah Blake.

I am hoping ... that Kyndal feels better today. She's ready to be done with the pain and discomfort from her wisdom teeth extraction.

I am learning ... that too much activity in my life causes me to isolate myself from my relationships. I get so worn out that all I want to do is spend my free time alone! I know this, of course, but don't take the necessary steps to avoid it. Sometimes lots of activity is unavoidable. There are just those times in our lives. Let's just say that I am glad to be out of one of those times so I can have the energy to concentrate on my relationships with my husband and family.

In my garden ... Last week I spent two afternoons cleaning out my gardening area. I pulled tons of weeds out of the mulch surrounding my raised beds and cleaned up my beds. Then I got out the tree trimmers and trimmed back some shading branches and unwanted vines and pokeberry bushes. It looks so great now!!

In my kitchen ... some changes are getting ready to be made. Well, really in the dining nook portion of the kitchen at our back door. Right now it is the back entryway where we have a table and baskets. It's our dump-everything-off area. We are making moves for Rick to work from home half the time so that he is in Missouri as much as he is in Oklahoma. But he needs a dedicated place to work during those weeks he is home. We are cleaning out the nook area and turning it into a small office for him. It will give him the privacy he needs during the day, gives us the room we need for schooling, but allows us to all be home together.

In the homeschool room ... the countdown to the first day of the new year is approaching. In the meantime the kids are taking some much-needed time off and just concentrating on some reading every day.

A favorite quote for today ... "Realizing that this is more about how they learn, than it is about how I teach ...." Shawna at Not the Former Things.

A peek into one of my days ... 

I took Dawson to a doctor's appointment yesterday and we stopped in Hastings
afterward. He was in heaven, and came out with another beanie. He has a
beanie fetish.

One of my favorite things ... Saturdays and Sundays with nothing to do. I enjoy fixing meals for the whole family, watching recorded tv shows and movies, and taking naps.

From the board room ... Still working on lesson plans for our enrichment class, so pinning gardening ideas and activities. I came across this chart that tells which crops are not good planted together. Thought I might put together a lesson about good and bad friendships.

Post Script ... "How to Get the Laundry Done and Not Hate Your Life", again by Shawna at Not the Former Things. Oh, I am totally doing this!!! I haven't worked out all the planning details yet (it may have to actually be a lunch hour activity to get it fit in consistently), but I am going to do a load of laundry each of those days and escape to my bedroom for an episode of Gilmore Girls while I am folding and then a little 15 minute power nap. What a great idea!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

Brynne had her birthday party this past Friday night. We rented the city pool for the evening and she invited all of her friends and their families. We served popcorn with flavorings, cupcakes, and pink lemonade and the kids swam and swam and swam. (I actually got very few photos because I was busy talking with friends.)

Only one of these girls is also homeschooled, and there were several other
friends not in this photo. She is a poor, unsocialized little homeschooler,
isn't she??

Dawson and Taylar, with daddy in the background. As you
can see Dawson is gearing up to start harassing little kids.

Eli was his first victim. There were others.

After the swimming party she had her two best friends over to spend the night. They did as little girls do playing Beanie Boos and watching Barbie movies and staying up most of the night talking and giggling. I love how these two friends bring out the little girl in Brynne.

I've said it many times over the past week or so ... where in the world did the last 10 years go? In the blink of an eye she'll be 20.

This was the conclusion to her birthday celebrations. She had a great 10th birthday!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Random 5

1. Yesterday Kyndal got her wisdom teeth extracted. She had access to her phone in the back seat on the way home and posted some very interesting Instagram and Snapchat posts. Oh my! They were hilarious! Today she's not feeling so good. My poor baby.

2. Tonight is Brynne's birthday party. She is having a swimming party at our city pool and is very excited!!

3. I am pretty sure Eli has not gotten out of his pajamas this week. Well, he has showered and put on new ones, but has pretty much worn them all day every day. That's real summer break for ya!

4. Today Dawson and I are going back to the financial aid office for more paperwork that we thought we had already gotten done. Truly, it is so annoying, especially since the kid is not entitled to any financial aid. Maddening!

5. Our public schools started back yesterday. I AM SO GLAD WE HOMESCHOOL!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?

In August of 2012 we moved from Oklahoma back to my childhood hometown here in Missouri (in fact, it was three years ago this week). We had a professional move us ... his name is Rick Taulman. Ha! Rick knows how to move! I have learned in my life to never assume that where we are is where we will always be. But, I do hope that we will keep this house forever as our base home. I want to always be able to come back here even if we are out and about. What do I mean by this? I would like to have a few places were we can go, but always be able to come back here. My dream is to have a pull-behind camper that we can use to travel and stay wherever we want (a nice one that feels like a home) ... a few weeks in the summer in Colorado, a few weeks in the winter in Florida, a few weeks in the mountains of Tennessee or Kentucky, a few weeks on the East coast or up North in the Dakotas. I want to be able to live all over the United States but have this home to come back to as often and for as long as we want. I really hope that we are moving in that direction. Moving back here was not to a new city because it was where I grew up. But I can say that moving back here was the most comforting place I have ever moved. I felt like I was coming back to the nest. In 2001, when we moved to Oklahoma, it was exciting for me. I love going to a new place! It was an adventure when we initially moved. Each time we move, however, I say this is the last time and if we ever move again we are either selling everything we own and starting over or hiring someone to move us. Neither of those things ever happen, though. We just take all our junk with us from place to place.

When were you last 'moved to tears'? Explain.

I watched a little clip of a video one day of a dog laying on the grave of his owner actually moaning with grief. Oh my gosh it killed me! Made me sick to my stomach, actually! I just can't imagine the fear and loss of a dog when his or her owner dies.

Do you have rules about eating in the car ... any forbidden foods? What's the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?

The 'Burb will be owned by us for 10 years in November. So, no, I don't really get too worked up about eating in her. The last thing I ate in the car was a chicken sandwich from Wendy's. My favorite traveling snack food is corn nuts.

Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.

Cruise by Florida Georgia Line.

What's your most frequently visited drive-thru ... Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?

Definitely the drive-thru at the bank. And I love having a small town bank because the tellers know me by name, know what I like, don't have to have an actual deposit slip with my account number on it because they can just automatically pull up my account on the computer when I drive up because they know me. We have actual conversations about my grocery trip I am going on because she (Kimberly) knows that's what I am doing on those Fridays I drive through.

"He who hesitates is lost." Would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the 'lost' category?

I don't necessarily agree with that. He who hesitates is wise! There is nothing wrong with pondering and praying about a decision. I am one who pretty much follows my gut reaction and makes decisions quickly and easily. But there are times that I wish I would have taken a little more time to consider my decision before making it.

When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?

Getting lost is a regular part of my traveling routine. But with my iPhone I can find my way out of my predicaments so I am not too stressed about it.

Insert your own random thought here.

I bought 4 Christmas gifts and a birthday gift (for a birthday later in the year) today. It feels good to have some of my Christmas shopping done already! That, in addition to some post-Christmas deals I snagged last winter, has me with a pretty good jump on things. Yay!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Outside my window ... it is a beautiful day! The sun is shining but the temps are only going to be in the low 80's. We have had some rain so the grass is green again (and also needs to be mowed).

I am thinking ... about some of the kids we knew in Oklahoma that graduated from high school last year and how consumed their lives are with getting into the "right" sorority. It is mind-boggling to me how that is the focus of their kids' futures. It seems so pointless. I can't imagine spending that kind of money to send my child to college to be involved in anything other than academics. It is just another way I see such dramatic differences between how I raise my kids and how others do.

I am thankful ... for the contentment of a simple life.

I am wearing ... a Baltimore Maryland t-shirt and gray sweat knee-length shorts.

I am creating ... a care package for my Mother-in-Law who starts another round of chemo tomorrow.

I am going ... to take Kyndal to get her wisdom teeth extracted on Thursday.

I am wondering ... why in my 40-some years of life I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

I am reading ... To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I am hoping ... that when Dawson and I go to his community college on Friday for him to re-sign two documents he has already signed, that the financial aid step of his enrollment will finally be complete! We thought it was, but it's not, even though we were told that it was. I just don't get it.

I am learning ... about the great resources at for classrooms. I hadn't thought about using the show American Pickers as a history resource, but how much fun would that be? We have "Freedom Fridays" which is, basically, a day where the kids have to do learning all day without me doing any teaching. They are free to learn about what they want, with some guidance. They like to watch some educational shows like Brain Games. Eli loves being a detective and American Pickers has a whole website devoted to Kid Pickers, and there are teacher resources. It even gives guides for kids to do their own hunting and picking and investigating/researching. We have a great secondhand shop in a nearby town and it would be so fun to take them there on a Friday, give them each a limit on how much they can spend, and have them choose something to pick and investigate further.

In my garden ... I will be later today. Since the temps are cooler I am going out to tackle the weed situation. I want to make it pretty again, even if there aren't any vegetables growing. I need to get it ready for our enrichment class we are hosting this next month based on the book The Victory Garden by Lee Kochenderfer.

In my kitchen ... is the rest of Brynne's Dr. Pepper birthday cake that I need for someone to eat before I do.

In the homeschool room ... we are on a very specific break from any school work until August 31st. I see homeschoolers starting back, and our public school starts on Thursday, and I think, "No! We just aren't ready yet!"

A favorite quote for today ...

A peek into one of my days ... 

Laundry, coffee, Project Runway

One of my favorite things ... are quarter zip shirts in the winter. I found this cute monogrammed one through Groopdealz and I am going to order it with the birthday money Rick gave me. I will wear the heck out of that thing! Just trying to decide what color thread to do for my monogram. I'm thinking mint green.

From the board room ... While pinning some science ideas, because I always need science ideas, I came across these cute Jello Sky with Fluffy Clouds. There is nothing scientific to them, but they would be fun to do when studying clouds!

Post Script ... I have found a new blog I like called Marc and Angel Hack Life, a personal development blog. They write three inspiring posts each week with the intention of helping others thrive in their own lives. Everybody needs a little boost of inspiration, huh?

Monday, August 10, 2015

What Some Might Consider an Abnormal Birthday for a 10 Year Old Girl

This past weekend was a whirlwind of fun as Brynne turned 10 years old. I could get all sappy here and post pictures of her when she was an absolutely adorable 3 year old (and, OH MY, was she an absolutely adorable 3 year old!). I could show you how we used to dress her up in all of the fashionable boutique outfits with matching shoes and a hair bow ... always a hair bow. She was precious.

But that is not who she is now.

Brynne is a crazy mix of tomboy and video gamer who absolutely adores to play with her puppies and stuffed animals, is most comfortable in running shorts and a t-shirt but loves to wear a nightgown to bed. She is a sports fanatic, playing every sport all throughout the year, but also loves to sit and color. I am not sure I can really describe her fully. She is unique.

She had a few very specific requests for her birthday this year.

1. She wanted to have a family fish fry. She loves Collin's fried fish, so he and Papa delivered! With it we had potatoes, corn on the cob, homemade macaroni and cheese, corn bread, pea salad, and fruit salad.

And we had Dr. Pepper cake. Yum!

2. For her birthday she wanted a Pokemon game for her 3DS. Dawson and Brynne are obsessed with Pokemon and wanted to be able to play their games together and trade Pokemon.

3. She desperately wanted an Xbox One. Those are expensive! But we lucked out and were able to purchase a used one from a friend for half the cost. She actually had birthday and Christmas money left over from last year, so she paid for half of the used cost and we paid for the remaining. With it we gave her the game she wanted the most, and Dawson bought her a headset.

4. She wanted to have a LAN party with Dawson's friends. This means that several of Dawson's friends bring over their Xbox's and tv's and set them up all around my dining room table. They start playing their video games sometime in the evening and play ALL. NIGHT. LONG. munching on cheese balls and Pringles and drinking Mountain Dew. Dawson usually has these parties when the little kids and I are gone. This time Eli and Brynne stayed to participate and they kicked me out. I spent the night at my mom and dad's. They got to bed at 7:00 this morning. They will sleep all day. She had the time of her life. The best day (er .... night) ever! Just her and the boys.

5. She wants to go back to Oklahoma to go to Big Splash. When we lived there we had season passes to the waterpark every single year (11 years!). So we are driving to Oklahoma tonight and going to Big Splash tomorrow.

6. She wants to have a swimming birthday party. Next Friday we have rented our local public swimming pool for her birthday party. It will be a lot of fun! Then she is having a sleepover with a couple of her friends.

We do birthdays big around here. We don't give, buy, or do too awful much during the rest of the year, so we do birthdays and holidays big.

I can't believe that my little girl is all grown up. If you have older children then you know that by age ten their childhood is over in the blink of an eye. I wonder what she will become, what her future will look like, where she will live, what she will do. But until then I will soak in every minute of her quirky little self, making sure that even if she would prefer to hang out with the guys that she knows that she is still my little girl and that I love her to pieces.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Random Five

1. Whewwwww, the Republican Debate! Fun! Oh, Donald Trump. My goodness ... made me laugh!

2. For the past couple of weeks I have eaten horrible and by Monday of this week my stomach was feeling pretty blech! I found a Citrus Detox drink that looked promising to me and picked up the ingredients mid-week. It includes fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, and orange juice, turmeric powder, and fresh ginger root. I put all these ingredients in my Ninja and gave it a quick blend with some ice. Although a glass of it plain tasted very refreshing, I decided I liked it better with one packet of Stevia in the Raw. It is really delicious! I read up on the anti-inflammatory, antioxident-rich, health boosting and cleansing effects of these ingredients. I plan to drink between one and two glasses of this a day.

3. On the same note, I have done really well this week with my diet (and by that I mean, nutrition). I went back to what I know and that is tracking all of my foods on MyFitnessPal. I made sure I stayed under my calorie, carb, and fat goals and ate healthy protein at every meal. Sure I would love to sit and eat Oreos dunked in milk every day. But, it makes me feel bad and it makes me gain weight. So, instead, I hope to continue to make those healthy food choices to take care of my body.

4. As of today the kids and I are now on the last part of an official summer break, putting away our worksheets and formal lessons until August 31st. (Oh, and we finished the last book in the Little House on the Prairie series yesterday, and I may be grieving just a bit.) We have a lot going on between now and then, and we will be reading everyday because reading rocks. But otherwise we will be staying up late, sleeping in, and doing exactly what we want to do.

5. My baby girl turns 10 years old tomorrow. 10 YEARS OLD! How on earth has so much time gone by so quickly?? She has a very fun weekend ahead ... a family fish fry on Saturday night and then an all-night video game party on Sunday night with Dawson and three of his friends, playing her new Xbox One she is getting for her birthday. (For the record, it is a like-new used one we bought from a friend and she paid for half of it with birthday and Christmas money she still had saved from last year.) She may be a small girl, but her true best buds are some 18 year old precious, kind, and respectful boys who would do anything to protect her, and who share her love of gaming. They'll all be hooked up to their systems and televisions circled around our dining room table with headsets on munching on cheese balls, Pringles, and drinking copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew. She is a lucky and much-loved girl.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Before the Week is Even Over

Last week and this week have been the regular summer school weeks that I always plan for us to have. It is important to me that the kids continue with reading, math, and grammar, because math and grammar are subjects that can have concepts "lost" after a few months of break. We only do two hours of school a day in our summer weeks, and more than an hour of that is reading.

Yesterday I told the kids how absolutely proud I am of them for what they have accomplished in their work this summer. They have been doing some complicated addition of fractions, mixed numbers and uncommon denominators. It's not really something you want to do in the summer. But they have done their math lessons like champs and have mastered all of the skills they have been confronted with so far.

Fred is in the house now, too! We started Life of Fred: Fractions last week. We will do one chapter of the book two days a week.

The kids are also one week away from completing the first level of Fix-It Grammar by IEW, "The Nose Tree". Throughout much of last year Eli really struggled with grammar, with identifying the different parts of speech and diagramming his sentences. He would get very overwhelmed and very upset. But the last two weeks the concepts have just clicked with him, and it has been so great to witness!

Both kids are reading books that they really enjoy. Eli is into the How to Train Your Dragon series and absolutely loves it! Brynne is waiting for her next Warriors book to arrive so she has been reading books again from The Puppy Place series. These books have inspired her to want to have a dog adoption agency someday.

Finally, we are only two days away from finishing the last book in the Little House on the Prairie series, The First Four Years. Man, reading this series and studying the late 1800's pioneering days was such a blessing to us, and we will miss the Ingalls family!! Thankfully, we are only on Season 3 of the television series, so we have a lot more stories to experience.

A real summer break starts for us next week until August 31st, when we start our full-time fall schedule. We will put away all of our worksheets, but keep out our reading books. During our break we are going to go visit some friends and their farm, go to a water park, go on a field trip, visit family, get through all our remaining doctor and dentist appointments, start volleyball practices, go to speech therapy, celebrate Brynne's birthday, swim, go to the Wipeout Run (5K), take some back-to-school photos, and more.

After all this fun, it will be time to hit the books again!!

One last thing ... the winner of the book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is my commenter, poetryinleaves. Please e-mail me your address at Congrats!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Outside my window ... is another sunshiney day. Thankfully the temps are in the high 80s right now.

I am thinking ... about how much better I feel when I do things the right way, you know eating right, drinking lots of water, exercising, reading my Bible, getting my housework done, taking an afternoon power nap.

I am thankful ... for the weekend we had together as a family. Rick got to come home a day early so we were able to just hang out on Friday. On Saturday my family treated me to a fabulously fun birthday. And on Sunday my MIL and FIL came for a visit and for dinner. It was a family weekend, and I loved it.

I am wearing ... a hot pink "Gotta Run" tank, running shorts, Brooks tennis shoes.

I am creating ... our school days and breaks schedule for the new school year to make sure we get in all of our hours while still getting that much-needed time off.

I am going ... to shut my computer and go for a run. I have got to stay on track so that I do not die at the Wipeout 5K at the end of this month.

I am wondering ... what I need to buy to get rid of the camel crickets in our basement. I don't want to start having mice, which camel crickets attract.

I am reading ... Alice I have Been by Melanie Benjamin.

I am hoping ... for cooler weather so I feel more motivated to get out and run. I hate when it is stifling hot!

I am learning ... to look around me throughout the day and enjoy what I have, and to smile about it. (I'm not a big smiler.)

In my garden ... is a place I don't want to go. I need to do some major de-weeding, so hoping for some cooler temps so I can get out there and get it done.

In my kitchen ... is a new lamp my mom got me for my birthday.

In the homeschool room ... I actually heard Eli say the words "like" and "grammar" in the same sentence. Now, he was saying he likes grammar more than math, but at least he didn't say he hates both! They are both reading books they enjoy so they both have been all smiles when it's time to read.

A favorite quote for today ...

Photo Credit

A peek into one of my days ... 

I love this photo Kyndal captured of Rick having a huddle
with the kids before his 4 hour drive back to Oklahoma for
the week.

One of my favorite things ... is a new couscous I bought at Aldi. Oh yum!!! Pair it with a tilapia filet and some fresh green beans and you've got yourself a 365 calorie, healthy, yummy dinner!

From the board room ... After eating so much junk and LOTS of sodium this past weekend, I felt horrible on Monday morning! In fact I declared that I would not put anything unhealthy in my body for a couple of days. I really kind of had to make myself eat all day because I just felt yuck! I kept thinking, "Man, I just need to detox!" I did a Pinterest search and found Citrus Reboot and Detox Flush. I didn't have the tumeric powder or fresh ginger root, so am going to swing by the store tomorrow afternoon to pick it up. After a few days of clean eating I think it sounds like it will be a refreshing treat and just what I need!

Post Script ... Summer Break or the Intrinsic Value of Boredom. This is a good article about the value of taking a summer break. While preparing our yearly schedule, I have been pondering the breaks that we take from our schooling. By breaks I mean those times that we step away from the dining room table lessons and put away our clipboards. To many it might look like we are always taking breaks. And, I guess, we are to a certain extent. But we school year round. We do this so that we can take an extended break in May, another one in August, a shorter one in the Fall, a long Christmas break, and an extended Spring Break. We need the time away from our "lessons". But, during these times SO MUCH IS BEING LEARNED! Boredom creates opportunities for creative play, for learning to cook, for resting our brains! It gives us more time for exercise (swimming, sports, riding bikes, tossing a frisbee). It gives us time to build relationships and really enjoy each other without the stress of finishing a math worksheet. Don't think for a moment that we aren't learning most of the hours of the day on our breaks. We're just learning by real life. And, yes, sometimes we are bored. And that's really nice.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Day - August

The First Day of August was also my birthday! Since it was on a Saturday we had the whole day to have fun.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My delivery just happened to come on my birthday, so it was like getting a present!

Lots of new fragrance mists and some hand soap.

My girl wanted to bake me something special on my birthday. She bought a mix from the Amish store.

Rick and the pups lounged together.

Oh, Kyndal and Collin.

Someone woke up looking her age! A shower and makeup should help!

The blueberry muffins and coffee were delish! Thank you, Brynney!!

A decade ago on this day this girl was exactly one week away from making her appearance.

We hit a rain storm on our way to the movies. It ALWAYS rains when we go to the movies!

First movie of the day in Town No. 1.


Watch out Pixels, we are coming for you next!

We road tripped to Town No. 2 to see Pixels.

Rick stopped and picked up Kevin at Walmart first. He's hoping he can keep his Wifi running smoothly.

We all met up for dinner at Applebee's.

And then went to see Pixels.

Kyndal bailed on the movie to go home and take care of post-surgical Chloe.

I bought a portable phone charger since my car charger won't work anymore.

And we bought some new games for our library.

Before I went to bed I put in a huge pork roast to slow cook overnight
for a family dinner the next day.

Busy and extremely fun day!!

Join Nicole at Journey to Josie each month for First Day. Take photos of your whole day and link up with her.