Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I feel like a new woman!

I took the week off work, we're not going anywhere spectacular, just staying home being mommy without the distractions of work. It is wonderful!

My house is getting back into order - that always makes me feel better! I balanced my checkbook, paid bills, took the kids to story time, went grocery shopping, cleaned behind the fridge and oven and pulled out the kitchen table and bench. I even painted the window railing that had been covered in food and who knows what else. Abby, Gabe and I baked 3 dozen pumpkin muffins and read some great books from the library. I cried during one of the stories - I always cry when reading children's stories about the Great Depression and the penny auctions.

Tomorrow we're headed to the Zoo - poor Abby has never been to the zoo. I'm too cheap to spend the money and its pricey! Tomorrow is half price Wednesday so I'm hoping the cold will keep everyone away!

It has been so nice to just be home, relax in the evenings instead of work, take the kids places and not come back to 50 emails. I could totally get use to this!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Next Year

What an awesome year we are finishing up. This past year we sent Drew to a private Christian part time school in our area. It was a costly but priceless opportunity that I wouldn't trade. I had this idea that homeschooling was just another option like public school - you pick a route and go with it. God had some very out of the box ideas for us this year. In my mind we would enroll Drew, love it and send all our kids there. Now, that would be great if it were free, but its not. If we sent all our kids we're looking at 15K per year!  I truly expected to send the kids there this next year, but God in his wisdom reminded me that we're taking things year by year, child by child. They are all so different and the unique opportunity to be the sole person responsible for their education allows for outside the box teaching!

I learned some valuable lessons this year!

1. I wasn't a half bad teacher, Drew's reading didn't have much to do with me - not even a sweet lady with a doctorate in reading could "fix him!"
2. A weekly plan/routine is a must and Drew can do more work I thought! I just re-created the plan from Drew's current school, fit the lessons in 30 minutes on a Sunday night the whole week is planned!
3. Drew works great in the mornings, no breaks, and we're done by 11:30 - the rest of the  day is for play and exploration! Then whatever is left - mostly Math (read #4) Drew finishes at night before bed when the house is quiet and he can think. Yea - no more school all day long until I want to pull my hair out!
4. John is a great math teacher and doesn't mind managing this one subject - he gets to help out and set up what needs to be done and mommy gets a little help!
5. Drew is like the little bunny in the book "Josh and the Woo Woo" - crazy I know. My kid loves learning but has issues with too much noise. He loves working at night when the house is quiet and he can think!
6. I never had any formal training in teaching so looking at all the curriculum overwhelmed me. I'm such a perfectionist that I'd have Drew do every problem, read every page perfectly, do every activity and every project. We'd be burnt out two weeks into school. How novel - this year  I saw them pick a few projects, work through some problems but not all of them. They created manageable yet difficult lessons that pushed the kids but didn't overwhelm. Wow - what freedom! I totally should have realized this sooner.
7. I love having all my kids home, I love teaching them and being the one who knows all about there days because I was right there encountering it with them.
8. We missed Math U See! We're heading back to this Math curriculum - in fact Drew didn't have much Math this week so he has already started!

In January I began freaking out because the information meeting for the 2013-2014 school year was already set, the deposits were due on Valentines day to save Drew's spot, there was also the question of Gabe who starts kinder this next year. Oi! So John and I prayed and prayed on what we should do. I was shocked on how the Lord changed my heart, when we first started praying we both intended to send Drew back to this school, then as the week went on my heart began to change and God revealed to me how much I love our home days, how much I enjoy teaching my kids. Then he sent a director from Drew's school to observe and help adjust some of our day so we didn't struggle so much with the length of time it took. She pointed out some great ideas and methods for spelling and encouraged Drew that "his work is his worship!" I also saw how hard it is to entertain Abby and redirect her every 5 minutes!

By Valentines Day we had decided to homeschool full time once school ends in May, its not a hard and fast thing though - we love the curriculum selections at the school Drew is at now and plan to keep up in case God changes things up again! The main reason for this decision is the whole reason we began schooling at home - outside the box kids don't want to be boxed in! Now this school is awesome and they really accommodate the outside the box kids, but the hard and fast deal is that a child must read well to go into second grade. Drew has made huge strides this year - huge! I'm so proud of that boy, reading does not come easy for him yet he perseveres and tries to not let himself get down. This year was hard for him, watching kids who were reading like him at the beginning of the year take off and now read chapter books has been a hard reality. Yet, he is coming along so well. Drew is so dang smart that he truly doesn't know what its like to struggle and struggle - this is a good lesson on humility and perseverance.

John reminded me one evening that he didn't read well until he was 10-12 year old. His mother pulled him out of school and homeschooled him for two years. She took him back to phonics and he did learn to read - but it came at a price. John and his sweet mother spent a lot of time on reading  and John did learn to read, but to this day he hates reading. There was such a push for him to learn; albeit he was 11 so I'd be that mom too, yet the outcome wasn't what I want for Drew. I want him to be allowed to develop in his timing with a little push from mom, enough to get the job done but not enough to spend all  day on it. So I'm praying that between our nightly reading and the tutor he will find that reading is so much fun once the hard part of learning to read is over.

So this year we're going to step back, have a tutor come and work on reading 2x a week,  and enjoy school with some small modifications! Sweet Abby will also get her turn - finally - at preschool 2 days a week. I think she will love the independence and the boys and I will enjoy getting some work done!

So in May,  Drew's 1st grade year will come to an end and a week later we'll grab our books and head into second grade at home full  time. I'm so excited, I love to see my children light up with a desire for learning. It is such a blessing to know their unique abilities and push for good handwriting or quick math facts and  then be able to send them outside to dig for worms when they are done.

Drew is excited to attend robot camp and Camp Invention this summer. Gabe is desperate for soccer camps and lots of trips to the Science museum.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Parenting Well is Exhausting

I just returned from a 36 hour retreat - a mere 36 hours away from husband and kids with the sole purpose of building up enough reserve and inspiration and notes to prepare myself for another 365 days of inspirational mothering. I don't write this post to nullify the power of the Holy Spirit because without Him I would be completely and utterly lost. I write this post to remind myself when I am older and these little ones are grown ones - that parenting well - is exhausting.May I show more grace to my future daughter in laws!

My blessed husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in January. It was  a joyous celebration, we smiled at each other, gave sweet kisses in the morning and then went on with life. We did go out to dinner a few days later. It was a good reminder that in this age and phase of life - I am being matured and all forms of selfishness are being drained from my body! As a new bride I imagined a 2 week trip to Rome or Italy or Australia - instead I celebrated my life as I do everyday - amongst the living!

I am blessed - I have a man who loves the Lord, loves his job and loves the life we've built together.

I am blessed - I am a mother of 3 incredible kids who make me laugh and keep me humble. I get to work from home and yet spend most of my days amongst the chaos of my children and love just being in their presence. It hasn't always  been this way, thanks to the Mom Heart conferences and Sally's books, I've been blessed with a conviction and love for the Bible and my children. I've seen a woman go before me who has done it well  - the sacrifices, training, convictions, ideals, and ministry. She grew weary and yet persevered. Somehow just seeing her sweet smile and the blessing her children are makes me persevere. I can just hear the Lord whisper in my ear - "... you too can do this, I've prepared you for such a time as this and you can train these little children how to love and obey me in a peaceful and joyful home. You can also civilize them in the process!

To do mothering well it takes sacrifice and selflessness - I whisper a faint "goodbye" to the glorious trip to Rome, instead to be home amongst my children, to have a roof over our heads with a little extra spending money for Lego creations, lots of tea, great books and a candle supply that rivals Hobby Lobby. I sacrifice because I love my Jesus and He sacrificed so much for my salvation.

There is  a reward when children are friends  and there is an overarching peace throughout  the home.

There are blessings in deep seeded relationships with my children - I smiled as I watched our middle son help his sister into her car seat or our oldest reading to his siblings. Our our sweet girl who asked her brother to play dolls with her. I get giddy when they ask me to read them a book or tell me a "secret!" Our sweet Drew is growing and has random ungodly thoughts "fly threw the barn" of his brain - as we call it in our home. He came and ask me why he thinks this or that and we talk about the power of thoughts and how God wants us to take every thought  captive and line it up with the Word of God. He smiles and then thanks me for just listening even though he was embarrassed to ask..... I love it that they trust me with their hearts!

If I didn't posses their hearts, earned through time and smiling eyes and sensitive words, they wouldn't come to me with their deepest and darkest of thoughts. If my Father didn't own my heart -  I wouldn't run to Him with my deepest and darkest of  sins.

The ultimate blessing is to watch ones children come to repentance and ask the Lord for His story and plan for their broken hearts. On February 19th I received the ultimate reward when my son Drew pulled me aside and asked to pray with him to accept Jesus into his heart. He prayed a sweet little prayer that ended with "Lord, I pray you like it in  there!"  I cried.... blessings..... yes blessings.... for following the sometimes lonely and difficult path of righteous mothering.

I wish I could bottle up all I learned in a mere 36 hours and apply every word to my life - I wish I could read every word of God's Word and apply every ounce of it perfectly. Alas, I step into the power of the Holy Spirit and walk  in grace - that wonderful grace that will allow me to ask my children for forgiveness one more time or that grace that will be sought when I speak words unpleasing to my husband. Then I will press on and continue praying for mastery and wisdom as I tirelessly journey down the blessed path of motherhood. I may not be headed to Italy but I'm headed to the Promise land with a whole lot of promises trailing behind me.

May it culminate wrapped in the arms of my Savior and the words I long to hear " My child, well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord..." and be greeted by my husband, children and the blessings of the ones I've touched while here on this journey I call life.

This place here on Earth is not my destination, its preparation for my final address, where I will walk and talk with my Jesus in the garden. A garden more breathtaking than the blue waters of Venice or the pink coral along the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. There in that awe covered garden I will eat hidden manna, sit and talk with Jesus while eating from the tree of life, I will hear my new name and truly worship the King. I will become a ruler of nations after ruling my sweet little home in Texas and become a pillar in the temple of God because I will overcome this world  - may I overcome well to these little eyes and hearts that look to me for an image of Jesus.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mom Heart Conference 2013

I take notes - a lot of notes at the Mom Heart conference every year. I don't want to miss a thing! Here are some highlight from this year's conference in Irving Texas ..... with some great photos of my kids to keep things sweet!

  • Get up for my kids, not to my kids
  • I am planting oak trees of righteousness
  • I'm a mom, I'm kinda a big deal!
  • A purposeful mother makes a plan
  • Come up with a mission statement or slogan for your family - like "Run to the Battle"
  • Create a family motto every year
  • "Do as little as possible, as well as possible" from inspiredtoaction.com
  • A river cuts through rock because of its persistence
  • My children  are like clay and can't mold themselves, that is why they were given a mother
  • It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, that is why we must capture the hearts of our children if we want them to develop a heart of repentance.
  • God is inviting me into Holy Work!
  • I am living a story, so are my children. Build strong words into their heart, like "I wonder if you will be the Daniel or Moses of this generation." 
  • As a mother I'm investing into the future, I must have hope or my parenting will seem pointless
  • Tell my children often "Mommy wants to spend time with you..."
  • As their mother I'm constantly telling them - "No, not this ____, but ____." "No you may not selfishly take that from your brother, but instead practice being generous ...."
  • "I wonder how God will use you like he used Peter and Paul?"
  • My job is to whisper the secrets of the next generation into the hearts of my kids.
  • My purpose as mom is to light the fire and passion for the Lord,  not to make my kids good. To help light that fire it involves them making some not so good choices which produce times of teaching and training.
  • My home is a place to daily practice righteousness
  • Guard my words, only speak life giving words into my children that build them up to the Lord.
  • Engage my children daily, share with them what the Lord showed me in His word that morning, make the scriptures real and engaging. If possible have them wake to see you in the Word....
  • Have a time of quiet each day - a time to quiet our hearts, breath, read a good book, recount blessings to help ward off restlessness of spirit and distractions from my purpose. If possible take a nap!
  • Celebrate in the dark times - our children will remember those dark times and see your faith and resolve amidst circumstances. It will bring scripture alive - "Give joy in all circumstances"
  • What have I been given to steward over? 
  • Speak noble things!
  • My capacity is more than I thought.
  • The heart is mentioned over 800 times in scripture - treasure the heart of my children and husband - its important to God.
  • What is my children's foundation? How do we shape our children? - Prayer, scripture, living life in this home
  • Live inside our homes just as we live outside -the person I am to my children is who I should be to everyone.
  • What do my children see when they look into my eyes?
  • "I can't make you godly..."
  • "You have to decide how great your going to be...."
  • "You must own it."
  • John 13:35 - "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Be a warrior!
  • All of us have sinned, do not pour guilt into my children.
  • Created sacred spaces in  my home and in our day - "How will they bow before the King without reminders that this life is about Him!"
  • "We work with all our heart"
  • "We choose to be content" make sure our kids see us choosing contentment instead of envy
  • Give my kids a call to the utmost
  • We all want to be part of a great story - our children are writing their story, I am writing my story, make them both great books to read and say Yes to God's story my immersing myself in God's story (scripture).
  • Stillness is a way of finding quiet, teach myself and my kids how to embrace the stillness of God by creating set time of quiet.
  • I have been given my cup - choose to accept my portion that God prepared for me. Do not look at others cups, be content with where God has me and embrace it!
  • Wise men hear and act
  • I am the book my children will read.
  • What do I hope for? Will I be faithful anyways?
  • This is my story for the Kingdom, my work is not invisible


Friday, February 8, 2013

The post I've been waiting to write ....

I did it, yeppers, I did! It took 7 1/2 months of discipline or 7 years depending on how you look at it.
I finally reached my goal weight.

BK - Before Kids - I was so tiny and I totally took that 120 pound body for granted. I didn't have to work that hard to keep trim, I was always active, riding horses, mucking stalls, lifting hay bales, that it wasn't much of a thought that I would ever struggle with weight.

Then I got married moved across the country and my body freaked out from all the stress. I was over the scale in stress - new state, husband, job, wedding, etc. My TMJ flared up and I dropped to 105 pounds. My jaw literally locked and I was unable to open it. I actually struggled with keeping on weight and got very use to drinking all my calories, I was still very active and busy with my new husband and horse so I actually struggled to drink enough calories. The thought never occurred to me that I would struggle with being over-weight.

I had a hard time finding pictures with me in it!
So two years later - still 105 pounds I became pregnant and all those hormones unlocked my jaw and landed me flat on my back in preterm labor. I literally sat on my butt or laid on my back for 4 months. I had horrid reflux and drank a lot of whole milk and hospital food was far from my organic high protein diet I consumed the first half of my pregnancy. I became depressed and bored and developed high blood pressure. I gained 80 pounds (some water from pre-eclampsia) with my first child. That was a lot of weight! After I delivered I struggled with back pain for years. It is actually in the last 5 months that I'm back pain free for the first time since my first pregnancy.

Spring 2007
After child #1, precious Drew, was born I lost a lot of water and weight and within a year was at 130 pounds. Then when Drew was two I became pregnant again and once again added some weight. I only gained 40 pounds this pregnancy but still developed high blood pressure. After our precious Gabe was  born I became really depressed. I did not have any issues adjusting to one child, but two was a totally different ball game! I had very little energy and it felt like I was always in the kitchen cooking. I plateaued at 145 pounds in 2008. I wanted to loose the weight but really struggled with having energy and working out. I played the guilt game all the time and gave up on the whole idea. Finally one morning when Gabe was 1 1/2, I decided that was enough. We wanted to have another baby soon and there was no way I could afford to gain and not loose 10 pounds per kid! So I began working out and really got into spin biking. I lost about 5 pounds and then we became pregnant - way quicker than I anticipated.

Spring 2010
My third pregnancy was a whirl wind - two kids and a high risk pregnancy. This time I was pregnant with a girl - those hormones kept me sick for 26 weeks - I only gained 20 pounds and that was near the end of the pregnancy. Sweet Abby was only 4 pounds 6 oz and within 6 weeks I was back in my per-pregnancy size 10's and at 142 pounds. The stress from her delivery and hospital stays dropped that baby weight really fast!

There was something about that 140 mark that I just couldn't cross over. I would loose a few and then gain it back. I worked out, consumed more calories and then worked out some more. I learned a lot that first year with three kids - mainly to be a good mother I needed to give myself a break from thinking about weight and just enjoy being a mom. That was good thinking and I know it was in that period of life that I softened and just learned to wait for the right timing and not stress about it.

So when Abby turned one, I decided it might be time to look into changing up what we were eating and consider a new form of "dieting." We had switched a lot of our foods to raw and organic, they were pricey so consuming less calories made sense to me. Then I waited a year - the kids and I were busy and it just didn't seem right. I hoped the organic life would shed some poundage, but alas it didn't.That year I dabbled in a few diets, tried a few classes, researched vitamins, considered weight watchers, then I just sat back and waited.

In January 2012 I looked into breast reduction because my back hurt so much, but that is pricey and I decided to try and loose some weight, after all I was smaller before kids when I weighed less?

So, a in July 2012 I made a flexible plan, I had learned many times that telling myself I couldn't have something only made me want more. So, I downloaded an app on my phone and recorded everything I ate for a whole week. I took the Dave Ramsey approach to budgeting, only  applied it to food. I learned I was consuming too much sugar (double!) and averaged about 2000 calories/day. After review my goal weight and my body type I saw that to loose weight at the speed I wanted, I needed to eat 1200 calories/day and to maintain weight I could consume 1500/day.

I added in some vitamins and tried to work out as much as I could. I noticed a pattern that the days I worked out I consumed more calories than I burned. I was unable to resist cravings and most of them were carbs! When my body was less anxious my cravings went away. I did a 20 day eating out fast and removed all cravings from my taste buds. I did a body cleanse twice to get rid of toxins in my gut and consumed a lot of probiotics.
September 2012

So, in July John took the boys to Oregon and I was home with my daughter for two weeks. I had dabbled in watching my weight and had lost about 5 pounds. My goal while they were gone was to eat small and not spend much time in the kitchen. I found when I was busy and not in the kitchen I didn't think at all about food.  It worked, I lost 5 pounds those two weeks. Abby ate a lot of finger foods and I became a fan of Coconut Luna bars. I had 100 calories in the AM in coffee and organic creamer, a 120 calorie Luna bar for lunch and sipped tea when hungry. Then I ate a moderate dinner that filled me up all night.

Over the next 5 months I continued tracking my calories, if I went over I'd take the dog on a walk or run to the park with the kids. My goal was to get to 125 by Christmas. I almost made it but decided to enjoy the holidays and not stress about it. I was traveling and wanted to not be a slave to food - for me that meant eating relatively healthy but enjoying my travels and meals not cooked at home. I gained back 3 pounds but didn't stress about it, I knew I'd get to it in January.

So, I finally made it - I lost the final 5 pounds in January and the first week in February. I finally fit into a size 4 and feel better than I have in 7 years! I am sitting at 125 pounds, which was my goal weight. I honestly felt like that was an impossible goal. I learned a lot about my body in the process, I learned that for me breakfast needed to  be skipped, my metabolism would kick in and I'd have more cravings, coffee is a must in the morning, protein needs to be eaten at 11 am and lots of tea helps curb my evening cravings. I love  Zevia because it has zero calories and is all natural. I love not being a slave to food and being able to eat in moderation whatever I wanted - as long as I was under my calorie count. I would eat 1200/day for a week, then the next week bump it up to 1500/week. My body responded and I lost over 7 inches.  I found out that I must stay away from breads/pasta and instead eat a protein bar or chicken. We switched to raw milk and I feel a lot better, I'm also religious about taking my vitamins now too! I learned a lot about myself and how God designed my body - no wonder no one diet works for all people, we're all created different. I appreciate that God allowed me to take this weight loss journey. it was only through a lot of prayer that I was able to gain the wisdom to see how best to serve this body I've been given. The lifestyle I've adopted will follow me - it wasn't a diet, it was a change in lifestyle and a lesson on choices and timing. I needed to give grace when needed, act when time slowed down, appreciate the small victories and buy new clothes with the old ones looked dumpy! I didn't talk about loosing weight, I tried to keep quiet about it and not allow it to consume who I was, after all its a change in lifestyle not a diet.
November 2012 - still a few more pounds until my goal weight.

Now its time to celebrate, with a glass of tea and a new bathing suite and new bras (yep, no surgery needed)!!