Monday, January 30, 2012

Goals for this week


Last week's goals went pretty well. I was encouraged to see that I got almost all of them crossed off, meaning I'm making progress towards my goals for this year.

Here's a review of last week's goals:
-Read through Genesis 47 (still following this Chronological Bible Reading Plan)
-Memorize Psalm 119:7-8, continue reviewing verses 1-6
-Finish reading Shepherding a Child's Heart and choose a book to read in February.  {I'm planning to read The Money Saving Mom's Budget
-Stay within my Weight Watchers point allowance for the week. {I'm only one pound away from my wedding day weight--yay!)
-Do the  Postnatal Bootcamp 2  workout at least three times.

-Help Katie memorize Catechism Question #6, continue reviewing #1-5 daily.  {We missed reviewing a couple days, but she still knows all the answers for numbers 1-6, so I consider this goal completed}
-Spend time one-on-one with Katie each day during Benjamin's morning nap. Continue reading The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh.
-Pick one or two baby books to read specifically to Benjamin each day. {I read to him every day, but it wasn't always baby books read specifically to him}

-Design pregnancy tea for a unit project using bulk herbs I purchased (no, I'm not pregnant that I know of--it's just part of an assignment!) {Started on this, but it needs some definite tweaking.}
-Complete Unit 6 of the Family Herbalist course and pass exam.

-Continue deculttering 15 minutes per day at least 3-4 days. This week I will be working on the Master Bedroom (FlyLady's Zone 4).  {I missed a couple days, but did a longer decluttering session one day to make up for it}
-Finish making a detailed two-week menu plan and grocery list for the elimination diet we'll be starting on Thursday.

Now, for this week's goals:

-Read Genesis 48-Exodus 18
-Memorize Psalm 119:9-10
-Read the first three chapters of The Money Saving Mom's Budget
-Stay within my Weight Watchers points allowance for the week
-Do Postnatal Boot Camp 2 , part 2 workout at least three times

-Continue spending one-on-one time with Katie daily during Benjamin's morning nap.
-Work with Katie to memorize the seventh question in her children's catechism, continue reviewing questions 1-6
-Work with the children to clean up their room each evening before bed (our habit for February)
-Read to Benjamin each day.

-"Perfect" my herbal pregnancy tea
-Do the reading for Unit 7 of the Family Herbalist course

-Continue decluttering 15 minutes, three to four days per week using FlyLady's method. This week I'll be in the living area.

What are your goals for this week? If you need some goal-setting inspiration, be sure to head over to Money Saving Mom.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Menu Plan, January 30-February 5

Our elimination diet is going well thus far. Today is Day 4. While there aren't yet any noticable changes in Ben's asthma, at least he is finding the food tolerable.

Here is what I have on the plan for this week:

Potato skillet with sausage and spinach
Banana bread made with brown rice flour and flax meal
Quinoa porridge with cinnamon apples
Pumpkin Pie oatmeal
Grain-free Apple Flax Muffins

Coconut milk smoothies
Cranberry Mango Millet Salad

Chicken and vegetable soup
Honey Lime Chicken, black beans, brown rice, fruit salad
Meatloaf, baked fries, cooked veggies
Brown rice pasta with meat sauce, steamed broccoli
Ginger sweet potato chicken bake
Lentil and brown rice casserole (without cheese)

What are y'all cooking this week? If you need menu planning inspiration, head to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January's book: Shepherding a Child's Heart

One of my goals for this year was to read one book each month. It may not seem like much, but it's so easy for me to go without reading unless I'm intentional about it--so I'm going to start with one book each month and hopefully work my way up.

This month, I read Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. It was an excellent read.  The focus of the book is disciplining your children not just so they outwardly conform to your commands while they are young, but so they grow up to love Christ with all their heart.

The author had a lot of excellent points, many of which we've already been trying to apply in our interactions with our children. A couple of the main points I came away with were:

::Communication. It's easy to go throughout the day and talk to the children only when they ask questions or when they need correction. As Pastor Tripp pointed out, communication with our children should be so much more than this. We need to really talk with them, not just talk at them when they need instruction.
"This shepherding process is a richer interaction than telling your child what to do and think. It involves investing your life in your child in open and honest communication that unfolds the meaning and purpose of life." 
"You must become a good listener. You will miss precious opportunities when you only half-listen to your children. The best way you can train your children to be active listeners is by actively listening to them."

::Consistency. Discipline isn't fun, but when it is done properly (in a completely un-abusive way), it should bring forth wonderful fruit. Consistency is so important when training children to obey the first time, rather than waiting until we're really fed up at their refusal to do what we say.
 "Never allow your children to disobey without dealing with them. When they disobey, they are moving out of the circle of God's blessing into a place of grave peril. If you understand the fear of the Lord, you will not allow your child to ignore God's law without intervening."

::Christ-centeredness. We should never discipline our children because they are bothering us. We must discipline them in love when they dishonor the Lord. Our discipline must always point them to their own sinfulness and desperate need for the glorious salvation found in Christ.
 "The central focus of parenting is the gospel. You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts. You need to show them not just the "what" of their sin and failure, but the "why." Your children desperately need to understand not only the external "what" they did wrong, but also the internal "why" they did it."
"If correction orbits around the parent who has been offended, then the focus will be venting anger, or perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive. If, however, correction orbits around God as the one offended, then the focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience. It is corrective."
 And, one last quote that I really think sums up the book well:

"You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God's world. There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over."

Have you ever read this book? What have you been reading this month?

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This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Goals for this week


Setting my goals for this year based on what I could fit into a reasonable schedule has worked out really well, as has breaking my big goals into bite-sized goals each week.

Here are my goals for this week:

-Read through Genesis 47 (still following this Chronological Bible Reading Plan)
-Memorize Psalm 119:7-8, continue reviewing verses 1-6
-Finish reading Shepherding a Child's Heart and choose a book to read in February.
-Stay within my Weight Watchers point allowance for the week.
-Do the  Postnatal Bootcamp 2  workout at least three times.

-Help Katie memorize Catechism Question #6, continue reviewing #1-5 daily.
-Spend time one-on-one with Katie each day during Benjamin's morning nap. Continue reading The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh.
-Pick one or two baby books to read specifically to Benjamin each day.

-Design pregnancy tea for a unit project using bulk herbs I purchased (no, I'm not pregnant that I know of--it's just part of an assignment!)
-Complete Unit 6 of the Family Herbalist course and pass exam.

-Continue deculttering 15 minutes per day at least 3-4 days. This week I will be working on the Master Bedroom (FlyLady's Zone 4).
-Finish making a detailed two-week menu plan and grocery list for the elimination diet we'll be starting on Thursday.

That's it for this week. Do y'all set weekly goals? Be sure to head to Crystal's blog for lots of goal-setting inspiration. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan, January 16-22

I hope y'all had a great weekend! We are getting ready to start an elimination diet next week to see if we can find a way to improve my husband's asthma, so this week I'm working to clean out the pantry and save some grocery money since we're not going to be eating dairy, corn, gluten, peanut, egg, and soy (this isn't a big deal, as we're usually mostly soy-free anyway)for at least two weeks (and then we'll slowly add foods back in to see how they affect his symptoms) and I'll need to buy some speciality groceries to get us through the period.

That said, here's what I have on the menu for this week:

Cranberry chocolate chip muffins (x2)
Leftover baked oatmeal (from this weekend), scrambled eggs
Egg, sausage, potato, spinach skillet (x2)
Cranberry oatmeal pancakes
Pumpkin baked oatmeal (I haven't found a recipe yet--any links for me?)

Quesadillas, fruit
Snack lunch

Leftover country fried venison steak, green beans, and mashed potatoes
Chili, cornbread
Leftover chili (we go to a prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, so I try to plan leftovers or something really simple)
Mexican lasagna
Homemade pizza, salad, fruit
Mini-meatloaves, green beans, mashed potatoes
Sunday dinner with Ben's family

What are y'all cooking this week? If you need some inspiration, head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snack on real food

One area of the diet people tend to compromise on often is snack foods. A lot of us plan three meals per day, but what about when that mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon hunger strikes? It can be tempting to grab cookies or chips or even (gasp!) a candy bar if you haven't planned ahead or you're out and about.

Some folks don't snack much but I've been pregnant, nursing, or both for three and a half years. That means I'm hungry all day long--I'm sure some of you can relate! In order to provide nourishing foods throughout the day for myself and my babies I have to plan ahead.  The good news is, eating healthier snacks does not have to add any extra time to your busy schedule!

Vegetable tray DSC00883

Some of our favorite healthy snacks :
::Homemade ranch dip and veggies. I like to keep a bunch of this ranch dressing mix on hand. It is so good, and my husband even agrees that it tastes better than pre-made dips. Just stir two tablespoons into two cups of sour cream and you're good to go! I usually buy veggies and cut them up myself but if you buy baby carrots and other pre-cut veggies, the prep. time is even less.
::Fresh, canned, or dried fruit. I always keep organic apples and bananas on hand, as well as other seasonal fruit. If you need a protein boost, dip your apples or bananas in nut butter. While fresh fruit is always healthier, fruit canned in its own juice and unsweetened applesauce can be healthy options. So can dried fruit, as long as you avoid selections with added sugar and preservatives.
::Leftover breakfast foods. I often hand out cold (or toasted) leftover pancakes or muffins for a snack--especially if we don't have enough left to make it a full breakfast meal the next day. 
::Yogurt. We all really enjoy yogurt. And, I'm so glad the children love it because it the good bacteria in it is so healthy! I like to make my own, but if I run out or don't have time, I buy a big container or organic, plain, whole milk yogurt. It's more cost effective than buying small cups of it and I prefer to flavor it myself to avoid excessive amounts of sugar. Normally, we just drizzle in some raw honey and, if we have them, berries.
::Cheese and/or nuts. A slice of cheese (preferably organic, raw cheese--but any cheese will do!) or a small handful of nuts is easy to grab and either one can provide some good nutrition and a filling energy boost. 
If you are in a pinch and need to get something pre-packaged, it is still possible to make healthier choices. Our grocery store has a natural foods aisle where I am able to find a few healthy snack options. Look for foods made with whole grains and natural sweeteners (evaporated cane juice, honey, etc.) and definitely check the label to make sure it does not list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.

When I find them for a good price, I get Clif Crunch granola bars (the Oats & Honey variety). Not only do they not contain white sugar, but they also don't have any soy--an ingredient we try to avoid that is found in almost all prepackaged foods. We also enjoy Kettle brand potato chips (the "sea salt" and "sea salt and vinegar" varieties, as the others appear to have MSG) and tortilla chips made from organic corn.

So there you have it--several of our favorite healthy snacks that take little to no time to prepare and most of them will even please picky eaters.

What does your family like to snack on?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The bright side

When we were planning our 17 day trip to visit my parents and our friends in Florida I had grand visions of visiting with different friends every day of the trip, enjoying wonderful fellowship and catching up on all that's happened since we were here over a year ago.

Then Benjamin got sick. And then Katie got sick. Then Ben got sick. And, I lost my voice, so I guess that means I got sick too. And we're all still sick a full week later--unless everyone who was still sick last night wakes up feeling fabulous.

That means we've spent half of our trip (and still counting) being unable to visit with any friends. I had to miss church to stay home with sick babies. We've had to cancel at least two get-togethers. We're supposed to have dinner with friends tonight and go to a wedding on Saturday.  And, we may have to back out of those engagements too.

Thinking about it too much makes me sad. There are a lot of people here who we love and really wanted to catch up with, but we have to leave for home Monday whether we get to see them or not. And, I don't know when we'll be back.

But, I guess there is a bright side to it all. We're on vacation which means we can relax instead of trying to do too much while we're under the weather (or, relaxing and letting our house go completely to pot). Mom has been around to help with laundry, baths, and diaper changes. We've had lots of time to snuggle our babies and watch movies and read books and talk to eachother. And we've enjoyed a lot of really nice fellowship and yummy food at home with my parents.

Though our days haven't been filled with the activities I had initially planned, they have still been filled with finer things.

Sickness is never in the vacation plan. Have y'all ever been sick on vacation? What did you do to make the most of it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weight Watchers update

Over the summer, I did a post about the weight-loss I had accomplished using Weight Watchers Online. Since so many people endeavor to lose weight as a New Year's Resolution/Goal, I figured I'd share an update on this program since it has worked so well for me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Weight Watchers here's a quick rundown: You get a daily points allowance based on gender, height, weight, age, activity level, and breastfeeding status (this is part of what attracted me to the program--they make extra allowance for breastfeeding to avoid compromising milk supply). Each food you eat has a points value. Staying within your allowed points should help you lose 1-2lbs. each week. I started off at 50 points per day, and am down to 38 since I weigh less and I'm no longer exclusively breastfeeding (if Benjamin weaned, I'd be down to 31 points per day).

I have lost a total of 34 pounds since I started the program in February. That puts me at 7 pounds below the weight I was when I got pregnant with Katie and just three pounds over what I weighed on our wedding day. My total weight loss has averaged slightly less than 1 pound per week (about 3.4 pounds per month) since I started. Fast would be nice, but I'm happy with slow and steady as long as I can keep it off!

As far as I'm concerned, the only real problem with Weight Watchers is that they put a large emphasis on eating reduced-fat foods and also recommend the use of artificial sweeteners. But, since there are no "forbidden foods", I have been able to ignore those recommendations and continue eating our normal "real food" diet while still using their PointsPlus system to lose weight. 

My favorite aspect of the program is the unlimited fruits and veggies. My produce intake is definitely much high than it was before I started, and since fruits and vegetables are so important for your body to function well, this is a definite plus. I also love that there are no forbidden foods. This makes it easier to enjoy fellowship with other families without blowing the diet every time. 

In my Weight Watchers post this past summer, I shared several more tips about making Weight Watchers work on a real food diet. If you are interested in the program or planning to sign up, you should check it out.

I'm curious--what do y'all do to get back in shape after having babies?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Goals for 2012

I have made a point of setting goals every year for the past several years. Most of the time I have accomplished some of them (last year, I accomplished half of the goals I set). 

This year, I have made an effort to only set goals I have time for. After writing out my priorities and determining areas that needed to improve in each (as Crystal outlines here), I printed out a week-long schedule form and filled it in, leaving a couple hours each day for margin time (diaper blow-outs, extra nursing, reading more books to cute babies, etc.). I also consulted with my husband throughout my goal-setting process(what a blessing to have a godly man by my side!). He balances me out so well!

After that process, these are the goals I came up with. Barring any upheaval in our lives (or exhaustion from a pregnancy--which would be fine with me!), I think it's a reasonable expectation that all these goals are things I will accomplish this year.

Personal Growth:
-Read the Bible through chronologically following this plan
-Memorize a minimum of two Bible verses per week. I am planning to work through Psalm 119, though I don't think I'll finish it this year.
-Completely read one book per month besides the Bible and the books I'm studying for school.
-Continue losing weight. I have lost all the weight I gained while I was pregnant with Katie, plus a few pounds. I want to lose another 12 pounds this year. 
-Strengthen my core and pelvic floor. I am going to start by working through this Postnatal Bootcamp 2 this month and next.

Marriage Goals:
-Get in a routine of regular date nights--at least once or twice per month. Ben's family is only half a mile down the road from us and they're willing to watch the children for us. 
-Read a few books together.
-Have bi-monthly meetings to talk about family issues, our business, budget, etc. 

Parenting Goals:
-Begin working through Sonlight's PreK 3-4 curriculum with Katie (she will be three in February)
-Work with Katie to memorize one catechism question each week
-Read at least one book to Benjamin each day (we read to Katie so much as a baby, but haven't been as good about reading to Benjamin, though he's often around when I read to Katie).
-Choose one habit each month to work on with each child. This will start after we get home.

Education Goals:
-Complete Vintage Remedies Family Herbalist program and upgrade to Holistic Wellness Professional program.

-Systematically declutter our entire house using Flylady's method 
-Choose one new "real food" project to tackle each month (some I have in mind: sourdough, sprouting grains, crispy nuts and making nut butters, and lacto-fermenting veggies/fruits).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan, January 2-8

Can y'all believe 2011 has come and gone and it's already January? The whole year really flew by for me--I think at least in part because Benjamin was born at the end of 2010.

I love beginning a new year. Ben, the kids, and I are visiting my parents this week, which is such a blessing. We arrived in Florida on Christmas Eve and we're planning to stay through Sunday, and leave reeeeeeally early next Monday morning.

One of my favorite things about visits with my parents is getting to plan and cook meals with Mom. We don't have a plan for lunches. Mom & Dad eat leftovers for lunch pretty often, and there's always stuff for smoothies around too. Here's what we have planned for this week:

Baked oatmeal x2
Blueberry Coffee Cake muffins
Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast
Arepas with eggs, ham, and cheese
Huevos Rancheros

Grilled chicken, black eyed peas, cornbread, coleslaw
Mom's chicken tacos (recipe to come!), brown rice, black beans
Out to eat with Mom and the kids while Ben and Dad are at Bible study
Women's fellowship--Mom and I are bringing arepas, black beans, and cheesecake (YUM!)
Filet Mignon with Pepper Cream Sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad
Dinner with friends (not sure what we're bringing yet)
Sunday dinner--not sure what yet

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.