Mighty Mommy Monday – What’s next?

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!

 

I finished my last laps last week. 30 miles. 30 miles spent swimming back and forth in silence, praying about my fears and dreams. Thinking about all the things I was hoping to accomplish… planning out sewing projects and homeschool activities. I wonder if I could finish out the year with 50 miles?

To that end, I’m working to figure out my new routine. This week, I’m planning to spend more time in the pool since the temps are nice and I won’t freeze coming home. I know. I plan my life around the weather. I’m a wimp.

Monday: Swim 1 mile/Abs

Tuesday: Swim 1 mile

Wednesday: Abs/Arms

Thursday: Ellipitical and abs

Friday: Swim 1 mile

Saturday: Elipitical/Abs/Arms

Sunday: Rest

So here we go… finding a routine and hoping to settle in. My foot is healing nicely, and I’m being more careful. No more crazy. More sanity and structure.

Senior

When I was a senior in high school, my parents adopted the cutest little boy… EVER. The adoption process started my sophomore year and every so often once we were placed with his cuteness, we’d get an updated photo and a letter about how he was doing. And I’d stare at those photos dreaming of the day we could snuggle together and all the fun things we would do. But the Indian government was taking it’s sweet old time and it took until Homecoming weekend my senior year for him to come home.

My parents had to fly out to New York to pick him up {lots of drama throughout the whole process suffice to say} and when I woke up a week later, there was this precious, precious little boy with enormous brown eyes staring at me. It was a Saturday morning and my parents were exhausted so they went back to bed and I got to stay up with him. And just absorb his sweet face, his chocolately skin, his curious eyes. Typing this, my eyes are welling up with tears remembering wanting to cuddle him so badly, but needing to wait 3 painfully long days for him to trust me enough.

In the last 16 years, he’s grown up a lot. He’s experienced many things that children his age don’t and when I see him, I am amazed at how life has changed him. Sure, sure I knew he’d grow up and lose his baby face. I knew his braces would come off and he’d start shaving. And I knew he’d eventually graduate from high school and move on with his life. But what I didn’t anticipate is how I’d feel.

I’ve said before he changed me as a person. I finally understood the sacrifices a parent makes and how deeply you love a child. And then I had my own children and I think my heart grew to love my brother even more. It’s odd. These maternal urges just take over! This week, he played his final game of the regular soccer season. He walked across the field as a senior and was presented with a soccer ball from the team. The announcer said he wanted his teammates to remember how funny he was and that he’s going to study engineering.

Last night, I put the kids to bed and slipped over the field to watch the last part of his final home game of the season. His final season as a high schooler. I realized how much I am going to miss watching him play on these chilly evenings. He’s chosen a college that is close enough we could make a weekend trip out of seeing him play, but it’s not the same. I won’t pass him as he drives home from school. And Liam won’t get to run up to him after church for a hug.

As much as I respect my parents for choosing adoption, I’m grateful to his birth mother for choosing adoption. I’m so grateful she chose to give him to us. To give him a safe and healthy life. I wish I could tell her how much her decision has changed my entire life. I wish I could thank her for loving him that much. And I wish she had the opportunity to be as proud of him as I am.

Labeled {product review and discount code}

Courtesy of: Kidecals
Every one needs a little boost from time to time, don’t we? My happy boost comes from neat, tidy and labeled. Every year, I make jars of jams and jellies to give as gifts to my MOPS table, neighbors and lucky family members. But every year, I have a hard time coming up with a label I love.

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I want the label to hold my name (so they know the source of the yumminess) and the name of my gift. But I also want it to be cute. Kidecals gave me the opportunity to test out their products and after a long, long time scrolling through all the options, I happened on their pretty canning labels. And just like their name, they are definitely pretty! I’m really excited to give away my jars this year… now I just need to start collecting baskets to put them in!
The labels are thick and stay put on the top of my jar lids. If you’re into freezer cooking, these labels might just be the ticket for you! And for the child who has serious allergies, I am really impressed with the variety of labels they’ve created to help you give a head’s up for those who might be caring for your children.
Check out the Kidecals website and don’t forget the discount code they have graciously provided for my readers when you check out! Discount Code:  fashion
Are you thinking about your Christmas gifting yet? What’s your favorite homemade treat to give?

Unprocessed 2014

Tomorrow is the first day of October. And oh-my-goodness has this year just zipped by! This is my fourth year signing the pledge for October UNprocessed and by now, as September closes, I just know it’s time for the CLEAN.

It just so worked out that today was my scheduled grocery shopping day and so I walked into Kroger at 740 this morning, list in hand and an exciting coupon for money off on produce! I’ve been working really hard on creating a menu for our family that actually works. Meals that can be prepped in advance or are low impact on my day are meals that help me to be successful. Menus are planned out 2 weeks at a time and I make sure that I keep money back in my budget so that about a week or so in, I have plenty left over to buy more fresh fruit and dairy products.

When I got home, I washed all the fruit, put it in containers on the lowest shelf in my fridge so the kids can help themselves and refilled the fruit bowl. I give it 5 days until I need to refill considering Sylvi has already eaten 2 apples since this morning!

So. If you haven’t taken the challenge yet, check out Andrew’s blog and see if you feel inclined to participate. I hope so! Join the challenge and make sure you check out all the resources on his site.

In my sidebar, I have a tag specifically for October UNprocessed posts you can see my past experiences and recipes. Condiments are my greatest challenge so I always use this time as an opportunity to break my dependence on Kroger to provide me with “necessities”. This year, I also created a Pinterest Board for all the pins I find with how-tos and recipes so I can be as unprocessed as possible!

Join up! And share with me your tips and tricks for kiddo snacks!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Adjusting

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!

 

Throughout the summer, I’ve had significant pain in my feet and lower legs. My calf muscles are huge so I assumed that they were just tight from all the work I’ve put in. So I’ve iced, foam rolled and toughed it out. I’ve rested and slathered myself in Deep Blue. But nothing really alleviated it. So after a month of stabbing pain in my foot, I called the doctor and got an order to get an x-ray. It took me about another week to actually get in to have it done. And on said x-ray was a crack on a bone in my left foot.

Ironically, those muscular calves {according the doctor} have been part of the problem. They got strong faster than my feet muscles and placed additional stress on my bones. So they gave me an order to get off my feet and not run at all for at least a month. This of course, came a mere 6 weeks before the 1/2 marathon. At that point, I was only up to a 6 mile stretch and I knew that even if I were to resume training after the minimum 4 week break, I’d not be able to complete the race to 1.) my best abilities and 2.) my own satisfaction.

My options were limited and I opted to get rid of my bib, rest my foot and HEAL. It was a hard decision and I {as usual} cried pretty hard over it. But I do feel that I’ve made the best decision for my health. Physically, I think I’m doing a lot better… my health had become quite an issue in the last 6 weeks or so and I was concerned that I was doing more long-term harm than good. At this point, my foot pain has diminished, and my deep fatigue is resolving. I haven’t had a headache in 8 days and I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Today marks the beginning of my 4th week since my x-ray. And I’m back to exercising. I took the 1/2 marathon off my goals, but I’m only 1.5 miles out from my swimming goal. I need to figure out a workout routine, though. What I Ioved the most while training was the order. I liked knowing I had a plan and right now, I feel like I’m floundering. So this week, I’m going to meet my swim goal and figure out my new routine. But don’t worry, it will still involve a lot of my beloved elliptical. I tried jumping on Thursday. It was painful.

Life Lately

Last night, I told Matt I needed a break. I wanted two hours to just process all that has happened in our life, write a little and write out a cohesive to-do list. He not only did he agree, he took it as an opportunity to take the kiddos and go visit his mother and go to a local festival. It’s been 4 and a half hours… the house is… quiet. In honor of the quiet, here’s a life lately post :)

Reading/// One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp {affiliate link}  Wow. I was blown away within the first few pages. I’m an analyst of life. Why did things work out this way? What did I eat that made my body ache and cramp for two days? What is the key to this person’s reaction? So many questions always swirling in my mind and then I read the line “Just that maybe… maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” And deep in my soul I wondered if perhaps all my analytical thoughts aren’t in fact, working against me. I can’t wait to read more!

Drinking/// Oh thank God. The Salted Caramel Mocha is back. End of story.

Planning/// Christmas for my darlings. Stockings are done, but now I need to buckle down and figure out what exactly we want to do for them. I want this year to be simple. Last year I started with making something for each person on our list and I fully plan to do something similar again.

Writing/// newsletters for the MOPS group I am a part of. Our year starts in just 3 weeks and I am excited to see what we all learn as we explore our bravery.

Linking/// I haven’t written much lately, but I have been reading and making discoveries thanks to my blog subscriptions and pinterest

  • Not sure how I didn’t read this blogger before, but I am now and loving her posts!
  • I’m considering making these for my living room soon.
  • I really need to make this again. Thank God for soup season!
  • Just bought this for family photos next month. Sylvi will look adorable in this with her leopard tights.
  • Am I the only one who loathes stink bugs? I’m not messing around this year.

And now, I’m off to continue on my Mama Day… I’m looking forward to getting in a little time at my sewing machine!

Biblical Womanhood

Oh Monday afternoon, I sat out on the back patio while the kids played and relished the fact that my assistance is not called for every 2 minutes. And I read. I’m back into the swing of reading again… this season in my life has made it so simple and easy to leave a few books around the house and grab one to read every few hours. Seriously. My children will probably remember me as the mother who stood in the kitchen stirring caramel sauce and reading a book. Thankfully, our library has an online account where I can reference book reviews I see, add them to my cart and set a pick up location. And for the forgetful ones like myself, I can renew {and pay fines} from my desk as well.

Anyway, Crunchy Chicken is doing a book club with the book Almost Amish  {that’s another post} and while I was ordering that one, I came across the book, Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. I recognized the author because she writes very intelligent, provoking blogs that are frequently shared by people in my Facebook feed. On a whim, I snatched it up.

Now listen. I grew up in church so the concept of the Proverbs 31 woman is not foreign to me. But it irks me that it is either used to put oneself down or to judge another. As I read through the beginning of the book, I realized that while I might not be challenged to fit into the guideline, I could certainly learn from all her research.

Out of the entire book, there were two portions that stood out to me: the discussion about a woman of valor and the challenge to be mindful about where our purchases come from.

Why did “Woman of Valor” stand out to me? Because we don’t support each other enough. Because we spend time talking about how “she” does things differently and is therefore cray cray. Because we can’t seem to wait to pass along the next little bit of gossip. Because if “she” is a dedicated runner/crossfitter/yogi/fitness buff she’s “obsessed with herself”. Because if “she’s” opinionated, she’s a B. I know I’ve said it before, but dude! We have GOT to stop comparing and judging and just link our arms and be a team. So if you get a text from me calling you a Woman of Valor, it’s a compliment. Embrace it.

The challenge regarding our purchases cut pretty deeply. Chocolate isn’t a huge issue, but coffee is and I just felt so sad thinking of the children who are abused because I need that cuppa. I realized that once again, I’ve slipped into cheap and convenient over what I know I should purchase. Rachel’s trip to Bolivia really hurt my heart in a good and convicting way… so much so that there was coffee shopping last night.

The book was a quick read… I finished Tuesday afternoon. And entertaining? Oh gosh, I laughed out loud at several points… who doesn’t love a good kitchen disaster story?! And I must say that I have great respect for the amount of research Rachel needed to put into this book. It opened my eyes to the reality of how great our lives are in the 21st century. I know that already, sure, but to really consider what those women thousands of years ago endured just because of their gender? Big stuff there. I may never, ever complain about how embarrassing the purchase of feminine products is. After all, I could be sitting in a red tent for a week!

Sight words and life lessons

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

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When we moved into this home 4 years ago, I struggled to make it my home and get over that it was my grandmother’s home my entire life. Initially, I picked darker colors for all the walls… Covering every inch of the stark white paint I could. The hardest room for me to “transform” was the dining room.

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For one thing, it’s in the middle of the house, and filled with the massive dining room suite I couldn’t sell when we held the auction after her death. Dark and formal, it’s never been the style that is practical for our family. And the added worry of little ones opening the glass doors and breaking the china? No thanks.

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As the years have passed, I’ve taken things out of the china cabinets and packed them away. The table no longer has a centerpiece or a table cloth for that matter. And little by little, the table became the place to settle in and draw or paint. So when we decided to homeschool, I knew right where we would set up.

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The cabinets now hold workbooks and books I’ve been collecting in the last year. The drawer that once held fancy silverware now holds my Montessori letters and 100s board. And the table that was only used for holidays now is the table I will always hold dear as the place where Liam learned to read.

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Every morning we settle in at the table and I’m grateful that although I never thought I’d find a way to make this room ours, it fits like a glove. We watch the cardinals out the window and spread our words out on the table. We high five our success, jump out the frustrations and soak in our lessons.

For us, the room that didn’t fit is now the room I look forward to spending more and more time in as the years pass. In that, we all are learning together – sight words and life lessons.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

Awesome!

I need this for my home… where we can see it every day!

It is my personal parenting goal to teach my children that we can do hard things. Life is hard. Challenges come and we are faced with how we will respond. We choose to tackle these challenges head first, asking for help if needed, and we conquer. I’ve had the Bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in my head over the last few years, so I felt that it was an appropriate addition to the lesson. 

On the first day of school, we sat down and talked about the rocks and how we are building a foundation in their lives, one lesson {rock} at a time. By the way, Liam is the only who got this discussion… Sylvi was thinking about Ariel… So when he masters a sight word, or has a particularly awesome attitude for the day, or I catch them acting in kindness without prompting, an AWESOME ROCK goes into their jar. And lest you think that I’m just piling stones up, once they get to 10 in the jar, they get a bonus when I pay out their allowance. It’s a huge hit :)

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Today wasn’t the smoothest school day. Liam needs to work on ordering numbers, and he loathes practicing this. Although, he really enjoys math in general, I just haven’t found the right way to work on this skill so it’s not tedious for him. Neither child nor mother got an awesome rock. But in the afternoon, we were invited to a friend’s home to swim in their pool. I strapped on life jackets and told the kids to play… to be brave and swim without hanging on to me. Both children panicked and cried when they first realized they couldn’t touch easily. I encouraged from where I sat {close enough to help if it was needed, don’t worry!}, and actually watched the fear on their faces be replaced with determination as they moved their bodies from bobbing to kicking and stroking.

In the end, what was hard became something so fun they want to return… to swim without me. They tackled something that was hard and scary, but they did it. I’m really looking forward to tonight’s review of the day to get their thoughts on how they felt when they conquered. In the meantime, though, I’m adding some awesome rocks to their jars!

Gym daze

Even though I said that my workout schedule switched to the early mornings during my Mighty Mommy post this week, it’s been going on for a while… I’ve just been comforting myself with the notion that at any point, I can snooze an extra hour or so and just go after supper. So I’ve been dragging myself out of bed and into the gym almost every day of the week, joining the throngs of other people {just kidding, there’s only like 10 people there} who are up before the sun. For real. It was still dark when I left my house this morning.

Anyway, since you are now duly impressed with my dedication, it’s time to mention that I’m pooped. So while I’m sweating away, I’m thinking and I’m planning all the things I will do before supper, the meals I will make in the remainder of the week and the topics I will write about. But somewhere between the sweat and soccer drills, all these lovely plans go straight out of my head. Gone.

Today was the first day of co-op. I went to the gym, I came home and showered {forgot to eat breakfast} and then put gym clothes back on since the class I’m a part of for the first hour is K-2 gym. During the second hour, I get a break… time to sit with half of the mamas, drink coffee and, if you’re me, work on that to-do list you started 4 hours prior. Except that I could not remember a darned thing. Sheesh. So I stared at my paper like a complete dolt, but I did manage to muster up a few items, which now that I see them, I have to laugh… clearly I wanted to look busy.

Friday is supposed to be my rest day, but I think I’m getting up once more. Saturday is going to be “cold” and rainy and my kind of day to stay home, put a roast in the crock pot and read. So tomorrow, after lunch, the kiddos and I will pack up and head to the library. And I will pick up a new pile of books to bury myself in for the weekend. I should probably change the sheets too. And put away all my canning from the weekend.

This is a season and as with all life, it’s fleeting in reality. I think there’s a shirt somewhere that says “Sore today, Proud tomorrow” or something to that effect. After my run, I stopped to wipe all the sweat off my face and gulp water. I happened to catch the eye of a Y employee who {bravely} high-fived my gross self and said “THAT is what you are supposed to look like when you’re done. I did not look at myself. Instead I told her I wanted a nap. Ain’t that the truth?