Friday, July 29, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: Baking Cookies and Golf Camp

Daniel had golf camp this week, so again we've spent a good bit of time in the car taking him and picking him back up.  Fortunately, the golf course is only five minutes away, so our trip is nice and short.  He has had such a good time, telling me every day how much fun camp is.  I'm glad he's enjoying himself!  And it's good for him to be around a bunch of boys.  :)

I took advantage of his being gone one morning and taught Sarah Beth how to bake cookies.  I showed her how to do everything:  cracking eggs, using the mixer, etc.  And I defined terms for her like "softened" butter and "creaming" butter and sugar.  She did great, and she thinks she might be able to do it by herself next time.  I'm not so sure, but I'm willing to let her try!  Maybe next time I have a hankering for some cookies, Sarah Beth can take care of that for me!

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • Baking cookies with Sarah Beth.  
  • Seeing how excited Daniel was every day about golf camp.
  • Staying caught up on laundry the past two weeks.  Sarah Beth needed to wear the same t-shirt to camp last week, and Daniel wanted to wear the same golf shirt to golf camp this week, so I had to do laundry every night.  While I may not have enjoyed that, I did enjoy keeping on top of it all, and not have tons to do any one day.
  • The last week of summer.  We start back to school next week.  :(
  • Half-priced Sonic Blasts on Wednesday.  Yum!
  • Running errands by myself one morning this week.  Wow!  I can achieve so much in a couple of hours when I don't have my five children with me.  Don't get me wrong:  I love my children, but it is nice to have some time to myself occasionally -- even if it's just running errands.  :)
What did you enjoy this week?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Easy Tips for Losing Weight

Did the title get you?  I thought it might pique your interest!  Actually, though, losing weight isn't easy, but you already knew that.  :)

Of course, I'm no professional weight loss specialist, and I haven't lost a tremendous amount of weight.  But I have successfully lost "baby weight" five times, so I think that gives me a little credibility.

And honestly, these tips aren't easy; I should have said "simple."  Because losing weight is not easy.  But it is simple.  Basically, you have to move more (burn more calories) than you consume, as I wrote about here.

Here are my three simple (not easy!) tips for losing weight.  They worked for me, and maybe you'll find something useful in my successes.
  1. Move more.  You probably know that I walk/jog on my treadmill several times a week, but you don't have to do something like that.  A simple walk around the block could be enough, especially if you walk quickly instead of stroll.
  2. Eat less.  Put less food on your plate.  How much less?  That's up to you.  But I've read that you need to eat 500 fewer calories a day (3500 per week) to lose a pound.  
  3. Don't give up your favorite foods!  I have no data to prove this, but I wonder how many people give up on "diets" because they try to cut out every single food they eat that isn't good for them.  I say, eat a cookie!  Have a piece of chocolate!  But only one.  You can even splurge on a milkshake, if you don't do it very often.  You can lose weight while eating ice cream every night before bedtime.  How do I know?  I've done it!    It's all in the size of the portion.
Here's how these tips look for me:  I walk/jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes four times a week, and I eat what I want just not as much as I want.  For example, I only eat one cinnamon roll (the kind in a can) instead of two.  I keep myself from getting hungry by eating a boiled egg along with it.

There you have it; the three things I've successfully used to lose weight.  I'm sure they can work for you, too.  

What ideas have you used in the past to lose weight successfully?

Monday, July 25, 2016

July Books

I love this picture!

I enjoyed almost all of the books I read this month, so it was a good month for reading!  I was able to get a good amount of reading done while at the beach.  Also, I've had more time this summer for reading since we're not doing school.  Oh, and reading while walking/jogging on the treadmill gives me more time, too.  :)
  • None Like Him:  10 Ways God is Different from us (and Why That's a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin.  This wonderful book does exactly what the subtitle suggests, and I highly recommend it.  Wilkin's writing is interesting and straight forward, and she does a great job teaching about God and how His differences from us should impact us.
  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson.  I thought this book would be a biography of the great reformer, but it was more of an exposition on what he believed and how he related it to others.  It was very informative, and our country would be helped tremendously if pastors would read this book and follow Luther's example.
  • Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse.  This sad book tells the heart-wrenching story of how the Aleuts were removed from their islands by the threat of the Japanese during World War II.  It reminded a lot of how we treated Japanese Americans during the same time.  I wish I could read more about these people during this time, but I can't find anything else.  And that makes me more sad, knowing that this story might be forgotten.
  • The Seahorse Legacy by Serena Chase.  Rollicking good fun, this book made me wish my workouts on the treadmill were longer -- almost.  :)  Erielle, a new knight and the first woman knight in the kingdom, keeps making foolish decisions which place the princess in danger.  Finally, she realizes how harmful her pride and immaturity are, but is it too late?  
  • The Sunken Realm by Serena Chase.  The sequel to The Seahorse Legacy, in this book, Erielle is married to the pirate Cazien, although neither of them loves the other.  What I enjoyed most about this book is how Cazien purposed to love Erielle, and then he did!  I appreciate how the author uses this book to show that love is not just an emotion, it's an action, something that you can do even when you don't feel like it.  But I also enjoyed the rest of the story as Cazien and Erielle dispense justice on the high seas, rescuing kidnapped children from slavery.
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith.  I thought I would never finish this book!  And it's not that long.  The story was slow as it followed Isabel trying to figure out what happened to a young man whom she saw fall to his death.  Was it murder?  Or was it an accident as the police ruled?  Ugh!  I'm done with this series.
  • The Case for Classical Education by Douglas Wilson.  Even though this book was written twenty years ago, its points are still valid.  Wilson shows how public schools fail our children, how they can't be reformed, and then he gives his alternative:  Christian private school.  I think he is too hard on homeschoolers, not willing to believe they are capable of teaching all subjects at home themselves, but, like I said, this book was written twenty years ago when homeschooling wasn't as big as it is now, and he may have changed his opinions somewhat.
What have you read lately?

Friday, July 22, 2016

What I Enjoyed the Past Two Weeks

My mother brought a couple of puzzles, and we had so much fun putting them together.  As a matter of fact, my brother and I put together a 550 piece puzzle one morning almost by ourselves!  I had no idea we made such a great team.

There were so many moments like this, where one of the older cousins was being sweet to one of the younger ones (mine).  The especially enjoyed Hannah, but who doesn't love a sweet baby?  :)

Proof that Hannah and I went to the beach!  Since neither of us got any sun (because we weren't there very long), I'm glad I have this picture.  :)

Two weeks ago, we left on a trip filled with family.  First was a family reunion where I saw aunts and cousins I hadn't seen in years.  And I met some of my cousins' children which was fun.  I also met some of my father's family, people I had not met before.  Here are a few things I enjoyed from that part of the trip:
  • how well Hannah did in the car.  Honestly, we were amazed at how well she traveled because we were dreading all of the time spent in the car.
  • getting reacquainted with family I hadn't seen in a while
  • spending time with family I hadn't met before
  • seeing where my father spent time as a child and learning more of his history
  • listening to these CD's from Heirloom Audio; they're very good!
After the reunion, we drove down to Destin, Fl., for a week with my immediate family.  Here are a few things I enjoyed on that part of the trip:
  • knowing that a week of vacation was coming
  • spending quality time with my younger brother and sister and their children
  • watching John interact with our children; they had a great time!
  • being so close to the beach; it was wonderful being close enough to walk down for a few minutes, not feeling like you had to stay for a long time
A few things I did not enjoy so much but that had silver linings:
  • being on the third floor of the beach house; I did not enjoy climbing the stairs, but I did appreciate knowing that I was burning some of the calories I was consuming.  Do you eat too much on vacation, like I do?  :)
This week, I've enjoyed being home!  Also, Sarah Beth has had camp, and while I'm not thrilled about having to take her and pick her up every  day, I do enjoy knowing that she's having a great time!

What have you enjoyed doing lately?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Four Tips to Make it Easier to Return to "Normal" Life after a Vacation

All tuckered out from the beach.

We returned from a wonderful week at the beach last weekend, and after we unpacked the car, I started thinking about what I needed to do to get us back to "normal."  And I realized that I didn't have much to do.  Since we arrived home at 8:00 pm, I was glad!  But what did I do to put myself in such a nice position?  Here are a few things:
  1. Washed all the laundry before leaving.  I really did this so that we would have the clothes we needed for our trip, but when we got home, the clothes were still clean.  :)
  2. Washed the laundry before we came home.  While still at the beach house, I washed all of our vacation laundry.  I just had to unpack the suitcases, put away my clothes, and have the kids put theirs away.  So much easier than having to wash as soon as we got home!
  3. Cleaned and straightened the house.  Isn't it nice to walk into a clean, neat house when you get home from vacation?  I took a few minutes to straighten and do a little cleaning.  You don't have to do a deep clean, but if you can, you'll appreciate it when you get home.  :)
  4. Had breakfast food ready.  I had made extra muffins before we left and froze them, so we just pulled them out of the freezer for breakfast the next morning.  We didn't have any milk, but the kids survived on water.  Of course, PopTarts or cold cereal would work, as well.  If you're going to arrive before supper, you might want to think about that, too, unless you just want to eat out.  
What do you do before you leave for vacation in order to facilitate your return to "normal"?

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Family Reunion and a Trip to the Beach

The view from the third floor balcony.

We've had an eventful couple of weeks!  We left a week and a half ago on Thursday for a family reunion in Centre, Al., for my father's father's family.  It was wonderful seeing cousins and aunts whom I hadn't seen in years, and also to meet others whom I had never met.

After the reunion, we drove down to Destin, Fl., for a week at the beach with just my immediate family:  my sister and two of her children, my brother and his family, and my parents.  We had so much fun!  There were "maintenance issues" with the house we rented, so we were upgraded to a bigger house on the beach.  It was great to be able to walk down to the beach for a few minutes or to stay as long as we liked.  As you can see, the beach was beautiful.

Hannah and I didn't spend too much time down at the beach, but I still had a good time.  I was able to relax and get some reading done.  John spent a lot of time with our children, and I enjoyed that.  Hannah couldn't have been sweeter, especially in the car.  We were worried about her, but God blessed us with a happy child.

I plan to post more pictures on Friday along with my enjoyment post, but I wanted to let you know where I've been.  I've got a lot of blog reading to catch up on, as well.

What have you done the past two weeks?  :)

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Berenstain Bears' Caring and Sharing Treasury by Jan and Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears' Caring and Sharing Treasury by Jan and Mike Berenstain is a compilation of five books that were previously published separately.  One book shows different options that children have for when they grow up.  Another shows the cubs helping others when part of Bear Country floods.  Sister learns how hurtful gossip can be in another, and the whole Bear family learns to look past the exterior of their neighbors to see who they truly are in the fourth.  In the fifth book, Brother and Sister learn not to brag.

Since we enjoy the Berenstain Bears, we enjoyed this book.  I especially like the Christian messages they contain; when they're not overtly Christian, the messages still encourage moral behavior.  I also appreciate having five books bound together in a hardback which lets me get rid of some of our paperback books, and the hardback should last longer.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: My Sweet Husband!

Rachel's expression!

This week was a strange mixture of busy-ness and quiet.  Monday was fairly busy as John was home, and I tried to take advantage of that to get a few extra things done.  Tuesday and Wednesday were quiet, other than running a couple of errands and getting caught up on laundry.  Thursday and today, however, are very busy, but I'll have to tell you about that later.  :)

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • It was wonderful having John home for a three day weekend especially since
  • one of those days was his birthday!
  • Watching John play with our children.  He played Risk with Sarah Beth and Daniel, tossed the baseball with Daniel, and read books and played Uno with Rachel and Mary.  Do we mothers appreciate anything more than seeing our husbands spending time with our children?
  • More doughnuts.  I couldn't help taking advantage of my new doughnut pans and this scrumptious recipe!  (Baking doughnuts really isn't hard.  :) 
  • Finishing this blanket.  I love the way the stripes change as they progress up the blanket, and I'm tempted to keep it for Hannah.  But I will probably donate it to the local pregnancy center since that's why I made it.  :)
  • Having a clean coop.  No, I did not enjoy cleaning it out, but I do enjoy knowing that it's clean -- or at least, it was before the chickens went back in.  :)
What did you enjoy this week?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Three Ways to Find Time for Yourself

Being a mother requires sacrifice.  Not only do we give of our time and energy all day long, but we even give of our bodies when we carry and nurse our children.  Of course, this sacrifice is worth it, but in order to give to our families, we have to recharge ourselves first.  How do we do that?  Well, part of recharging ourselves involves doing something that we enjoy, something that may not have anything to do with our family.

For me, resting and recharging usually involves reading and knitting or crocheting.  I've already given you five ways to find time to read more, and now I want to give you three ways to find time to do something you love.
  1. Nap time/play time.  Train your children to spend some time in the afternoon without you.  During Hannah's afternoon nap, I send my older children upstairs to play.  They can play in their rooms or the playroom, by themselves or with others.  I don't care.  They just need to be upstairs playing relatively quietly while I have some time to myself downstairs.  (I don't even usually care how much mess they make, although they will have to clean it up later.)
  2. Evening.  In a blog I read a couple of years ago (I wish I remember where it was), the writer told how she stops her housework at 7:30 every evening.  As mothers, we know our chores never end, so we have to set a time that we're just going to stop.  Otherwise, we could keep going all night long.  :)  I try to stop my housework after I clean up the kitchen in the evening after supper.  After that, I can read a book or work on my current knitting project.
  3. Early morning.  The time before children wake up in the morning could be a wonderful time to work on something that you enjoy.  I have to admit that I don't do this, other than a little reading, but I'm thinking about it.  John gets up at 4:30 most mornings, and I could get up with him and use the extra time productively.  But it's so early, and I just don't know that I have that much drive.  :)
One thing, though, that you need to keep in mind.  These times are for you to rest and recharge, working on something that you love.  Unless you just love cleaning your bathroom, this is not the time for that.  I understand how nice it feels just to know that your bathroom is clean, but you need to take a break from the chores to spend some time on yourself.  As you recharge, you'll have more energy for your family which benefits everyone.

What do you love to do?  How do you find time for it?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Hannah at Five Months

  Hannah seems to get sweeter and sweeter as she grows.  And it's so much fun watching her grow and develop.

She is rolling over more and more, but it's still pretty much an accident.

Hannah is so sociable:  she tries to catch the eye of whomever is in the room.  When they look at her, her face lights up, and they have to smile back.

Thanks to my mother's suggestion, we've started using the bumbo when we go out to eat so I don't have to carry the carseat.  This picture is from our first trip to Chick-fil-A.  She seems to have enjoyed it, too, don't you think?  Even though she didn't get anything to eat.  :)

Friday, July 1, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: Doing Well with my Goals and Doughnuts!

This week has been a little busier than I expected since I spent more time than usual in the car taking Rachel to camp every day and picking her back up.  But it was worth it because she had a wonderful time.  Also, I've been busy getting ready for my first Information Meeting for Classical Conversations which was last night.

Here are a few things that I enjoyed this week:
  • Seeing how much fun Rachel had at art camp.  She hasn't brought much home yet, so I'm excited to see what she's been doing!
  • Triple Chocolate Donuts.  Oh, my!  These were good!!  
  • Running errands on Wednesday for a couple of hours by myself.  :)
  • Having a babysitter who isn't afraid of keeping my five children!
  • Doing so well on my goals!
I feel like I did really well with my goals for June, especially since I had quite a few.  
  • Clean out the children's closets.  I went through Daniel's closet and Sarah Beth's, putting some baby things in his closet since his is almost empty.  I have worked a good bit on the little girls' closet, and I hope to finish it today:  sorting and storing hand-me-downs.
  • Sort through the playroom.  I took advantage of my mother being here when we almost flooded because she's very good at going through things quickly.  We tackled the playroom and got everything sorted in less than an hour with my children's help.
  • Work on my children's writing three days a week.  One week we only did it twice, and today will be the third time for this week -- assuming we do it.  :)  Of course, the week we almost flooded, I didn't worry about it.
  • Go to the pool at least once a week.  We did this every week except the week we almost flooded and this week when we were busy with Rachel's camp.  Maybe we'll go tomorrow.
  • Start teaching Sarah Beth to cook.  This one didn't happen this month.  :(
  • I also want to continue exercising four times a week.  I accomplished this goal every week except the week we almost flooded.
I know that I'm going to be relatively busy this month with a few things, one of which is getting our CC campus planned.  So I want to keep things fairly easy, mostly just continuing my same goals.  
  • Start teaching Sarah Beth to cook.  I hope to get to this in July.
  • Continue walking/jogging on the treadmill four times a week.
  • Plan for CC to start back up in August.  
  • Go to the pool at least once a week.
How are you doing with your goals?