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Monday, November 7, 2011

Our CSA and a Recipe


In our attempt to eat healthier, untainted foods we once again joined up with a local CSA. This one was new to us and consists of TWO farms working together to bring us quality, fresh and ORGANIC produce!

So far, we have been thrilled with the produce we receive each week. There are usually more leafy greens than we know what to do with. Often there are items we are not quite sure of what they are! And then there are weeks like this last one where there are lots of neat goodies that are like treats to us!
This week we were thrilled with pomegranates, a variety of squash including pumpkin and even a melon that at first we thought was a squash! Then, we had these neat, little, teeny tiny potatoes! They are REALLY little. Actually each one wasn't much bigger than the top of my thumb!

After being on a 4 day long juice fast, and craving lentils, I decided to use them in a lentil soup:

Notice the ring around the pan showing how full it started and how empty it became. We ALL LOVED this soup! Actually we all stuffed ourselves with seconds and then argued over who would get the last for their lunch the next day! I let my husband take it to work for his lunch today, but then my 14 year old started going on and on about how much he loved it and wished we had more. Kind of craving it myself, I relented and made another pans worth!

Keep in mind these are LENTILS my teen is BEGGING for! They were so good, I thought I'd share the recipe here!

Lentil Soup

2 cups red lentils
6 cups water, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 large jalepenio seeded and diced
1 cup diced potato
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tapatio or other hot sauce
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder

In a smaller pot combine lentils and 4 cups water. bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes

In a large soup pot add oil and onions and saute until onions become soft. Add celery, garlic and jalepenio. Cook for 3-5 minutes longer until fragrant. Add potatoes, can tomatoes, broth and remaining 2 cups water, hot sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add lentils and water and cover and cook until lentils and potatoes are soft.

This is yummy and great alone, but it would also be great served in a whole wheat bread bowl, or served with corn bread. We enjoyed it with TLC crackers, with some in the soup!

Never a Dull Moment!



One thing my life isn't is dull, boring or routine! It's been a busy last couple of weeks around here! It all started about three weeks ago when my 14 year old ran into a book shelf and broke his toe. I mean, he really broke his toe! It broke into a Y shape and the toe was about two good inches from where it belonged.

Then the same child was referred to an Orthodontist and it was determined he did indeed need braces on his teeth.


Not to be outdone by his brother, our youngest started back up again with his morning "migraines." When we went into our pediatrician for a refill on his prescription medication it was determined because of his developmental delays he should see a neurologist. The neurologist agreed that his issues needed more looking into and scheduled tons of tests, scans and such.

Keep in mind we live 40 minutes out of the nearest town, and all these doctors and specialists are another 40 or more minutes each further from that town! For over two weeks straight, literally every week day and one weekend day we
were at these doctors!

Thankfully, so far everything is turning out okay for both children, though we are waiting for the scan results on the youngest!

Matthew is thrilled with his braces and for the first time in his life he has become a bit of a ham in front of the camera. Here he is showing off his new smile in the making!

We lucked out with a great orthodontist who even took the time on a SATURDAY to call just to check in and see how the new patient was doing a few days after getting the braces on. I was impressed with that!

We did manage to sneak in a trip to the pumpkin farm which Austin LOVED!

Hopefully, things are slowing down a bit now and getting back to as normal as they get for us around here! Of course with the holidays starting.......???????

Monday, October 10, 2011

I LOVE These Record Books!

While I remain a loyal fan and customer of the Well Planned Day Planners for my own planning I recently came across some Student Record Books that I am totally crazy about!

These would be perfect for families that use a variety of homeschooling methods, especially a Charlotte Mason Style or relaxed approach. Even those using a traditional workbook/textbook style will love these.

This year for the first time ever really, I think in our 15+ years of schooling at home, we are using a very traditional worktext program(ACE PACES) but we do SO MUCH MORE than just our book work! My family leads a weekly PE class for local homeschool families, attend AWANA, one child is in Confirmation Classes this year, one is learning ASL, we take art classes, guitar lessons, voice lessons, participate in the church choir, take frequent field trips, volunteer with two well known organizations, and MUCH, MUCH more!

I feel like by just looking at our lesson plans, you don't see much other than our book work. These Record Books take care of that! It is recommended to get one per child and there are places to record service projects, health and fitness, spiritual life, and MORE!

There is room in the back for recording not only what books the child read, but what books were read TO them! We do LOTS of read a louds around here! There is room to record test scores, grades and even awards.

I will definitely be ordering these each year from now on, I only wish I had seen them sooner! Not only are the books great but customer service is AWESOME and shipping at regular rates was lightening FAST! I just love it when I find something new and exciting! Be sure to check them out, there are even samples to view at their SITE!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Homeschool By Any Other Name

I believe I've shared on here in the past the importance of choosing a good name for your homeschool. But just today I was reminded of that as I filled out our yearly affidavit for our state. When I first named our school I had several young children in the home and the name I chose sounded like a cute name for a preschool or grade school. I liked it and it never occurred to me that one day my children may not like that particular name on their high school diplomas.

When I sent our order for my oldest sons diploma to be printed was the first time I realized that name may not be best suited for a high school diploma. I sent it in as such anyway because for twelve years we had filed our affidavits with that name and I was concerned if I chose another and anybody for some reason checked records, there would be no record of our school under any other name.

My son shared his graduation with his best buddy, who also was homeschooled and their diplomas looked very similar, but while his friend had what we thought was a really cool name for their school printed on their diploma, there on ours in BIG, BOLD writing was our preschool sounding name! My son has had to take that diploma, his transcripts and other records to places such as the Navy recruiters office!

Now, the name isn't that bad, but still, it wasn't very grown up or official sounding.

So, today when I once again filed our yearly affidavit, I decided with my next oldest son now in 9th grade, now was an ideal time to make the name change.

Oddly enough, after having all of these years to come up with a new name, we were stumped! Seeing as it will be the name on my sons diploma, I thought best to let him pick. He had no name in mind, all he knew is he didn't want THAT name on his diploma like his big brother had!

We wrote down several ideas and narrowed it down to a few and I let him make the final decision.

I know in some states, you can't change your school name once you pick one, and in others you don't even need a name. Check you local laws and regulations and follow those, but keep in mind what may be a cute idea in your first year or two of homeschooling, may not seem like such a good idea when your child is a high school senior and about to graduate!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Simple Pleasures of Life

Last week after a rain-shower one of my sons called me out to go look at a rainbow. He was so excited over that one rainbow, you can imagine his pleasure when just a bit later he saw a DOUBLE rainbow!! He was almost giddy with joy. I myself had never seen a double rainbow so shared the photo below on facebook:





Several people kept referring to the "Double Rainbow Guy" and I had no clue what they were talking about. My curiosity getting the best of me I googled it and came up with the following video clip:





This guy REALLY enjoyed that rainbow! At first it's easy to assume he's on drugs or something, but maybe, just maybe, he really, really enjoyed the rainbow and like my son was just giddy with excitement. We could all use a lesson from him and learn to find and experience such joy in the simple pleasures of life!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A New Career For Me!


As I am sure you've all noticed, I have not been around here all that much lately. I've kept part of the real reason why pretty quiet, but I am now ready to share. Since about Christmas time, I've been working on my Personal Training Certificate and I am now DONE!! I passed my exams and am now officially a Certified Fitness Trainer Through ISSA.



You can visit my website HERE. I will be working on updating it over the next several days to be more specific to my offerings and specialties.

While I am qualified to work with most anyone and help them to reach their health and fitness goals, I am in the process of working on some programs specially designed for homeschooled youth and their families. I think it's incredibly important for families to stay fit, healthy and active together.

So, stay tuned for more details on all of this and I hope I am now able to be more regular in posting here from here on out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicks!


We've raised chickens more years then I can count and for many years, got new batches of chicks each spring. But for these last few years we haven't gotten any new ones and our older ones quit laying years ago.

I've been paying for organic eggs lately, and even at Costco, the prices are pretty outrageous, especially when I know how cheap and easy it is to raise your own!

So, this last weekend we loaded up the kids and headed to the feed store and bought just under a dozen Rhode Island Reds and Ameracauna's.

Of course, the kitty cat thinks they are her new playthings as she is rarely more than an inch or two away from them. But lucky for them they are headed out into the little house tonight to finish their growing before moving them out in the coop. I just couldn't resist sharing this picture of our Samantha Kitty with her little "friends."






Container Gardening


On our quest to eat better we've been really trying to grow as much as our own food as we can. Years ago we intentionally looked for homes with property with gardening and animal raising in mind. We do now have just under five acres, but we don't have the mini-farm we envisioned. We have been fighting pests, bad soil and extremes in weather for years.

Our soil is mostly either really sandy, or thick, hard and clay like depending on which part of the property you are on. Neither is really great for growing. Not only that, but we have rather large amounts of rabbits, gophers, squirrels, birds and other pests that literally have taken down a rather large garden area in one night alone! For years after this incident we didn't even try to plant a garden.

We did have an old grape vine though on the property when we moved in, and for the first couple years I watered it faithfully, and nothing really ever came of it. It grew, and looked rather pretty but the grapes never took off so I just gave up.

Then one year, after no watering for about two years, guess what? GRAPES!! We have gotten plenty each year since!



After lots of thought, reading, and asking around, we decided to start planting in containers. That way we could purchase good soil, and have the plants kept safe from the over abundance of bunnies and gophers we have around here!

We use everything from old detergent containers, kitty litter containers, wheel barrels and more!

Years ago, we got a great deal on old wine barrels and purchased several. These are by far my most favorite containers, but normally they are pretty expensive and not easy to come by. I am always keeping my eyes open for more though!

We also use old animal water buckets and old Christmas Tree pots.

Kitty litter buckets don't make the prettiest containers, but they work and will get the job done!

A wheelbarrow is cute and functional!

Even old plastic bins are great for things like herbs.

We've been able to grow great peppers in just a five gallon bucket we got free for asking at our local garden center!

We currently have garlic growing in an old plastic water barrel we cut down. In that we also have some seeds starting in small planters, kept out of the dogs reach(who has turned out to be the BIGGEST garden pest of all!)

Our inherited grape vine!

A small grape vine we planted last year.

Green onions in the other half of the water barrel that the garlic is in pictured above.

A view of the larger containers lined up.

Swiss Chard in our old water bucket.

Tomatoes

Our kitty litter containers with stuff actually growing in them!

Most of these ideas can work anywhere regardless of the space you may have. It just requires a little creativity. I am sure it can be done on a small porch, balcony, stairs, just about anywhere. It's nice because you can control the soil, water, and pests so much easier in these small confined areas.

We have grown zucchini, squash, cucumbers, radishes, beets, a variety of greens, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and more in these containers.

You can save money on your produce, limit your trips to the grocery store and eat healthier by growing your own food. By purchasing organic and/or heirloom seeds and controlling the soil and what I use or don't use for pest control, I also know my food is poison and toxin free.

It's a great way to involve the kids too and teach them about where food comes from. Makes a great homeschool or afterschool project. Just give them a container or two and some seeds and let them grow their own little mini-gardens. They might even eat a veggie or two that they normally wouldn't even try if they grow it themselves!



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Soda Pop Planters


Just yesterday I saw a picture for these in Mother Earth News and thought it was such a clever idea that I did an Internet search for them this morning to share a picture with you, and not only did I find the picture, I found INSTRUCTIONS!

I plan on finding a soda drinking friend and hitting them up for several of these bottles as I have lots more herbs I'd like to plant and I think these are just perfect for that project!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Avoiding Toxic Food Substances

So, now that I have pretty much figured out that I have an obvious sensitivity not only to MSG and Aspartame as I have been sharing here over the past couple of weeks, but as I've shared in the past a sensitivity to High Fructose Corn Syrup, the hard part is figuring out how to avoid these substances, not to mention GMO's. It can be overwhelming.

The first and easiest way to avoid these items in your food is to avoid packaged and processed food. An overwhelming majority of these kinds of food will contain one or more of these substances. If you stick to fresh produce, meats and whole grains you can avoid many of these and by sticking to organics of these items you can avoid most GMO's as well.

I know organics can seem significantly more expensive, but by cutting back on the processed and packaged food, you can apply the saved money there to organically or naturally grown produce without too big a hit in your budget.

Another option is to grow as much as your produce as you can. What if you live in an apartment or have no property to grow on? No problem, many foods can be grown in containers! While I am blessed to live on several acres, between rabbits, gophers and moles not to mention sandy soil I have never been able to grow in the ground. But, I have been able to grow tomatoes, zucchini , yellow squash, strawberries, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, garlic, several varieties of herbs, peas, peppers and more all in containers!

Almost anything can be used as a container. For bigger plants we use wine barrels, but we also use gallon and five gallon buckets, kitty litter buckets(ones the fresh litter comes in) old animal water buckets and more. Just today I saw a clever idea that would work well for herbs and smaller plants; 2 liter soda bottles, hanging up side-down with the bottom end up and cut off! I am going to copy this idea myself as I still have more herbs I wanted to plant but ran out of containers. Those pests I am battling will have a hard time getting to hanging containers too!

If you must buy packaged foods try your best to stick to organics and be sure to take along a list of the hidden names of MSG. Unless you stick to a totally pure natural, fresh food diet you're not going to totally be able to avoid these substances, but you can do your best to avoid them as much as possible.

I have also discovered for myself once I cleansed my body of all the toxins I was continuously taking in I have been able to add back in my health shake or protein shake once a day with no obvious side effects so far. I think for me, it was that I was consuming SO many items that had these substances on a daily basis I reached toxic levels. I had learned in the past with my corn syrup issues the same thing. Once I had gone a long time without any I could occasionally have some with no ill effects, but if I had it more than a few days in a row I would have symptoms again.

While I personally feel it's best to avoid these substances as much as possible, my point is that each of our bodies are different and each of us may be able to tolerate different levels of these substances and like all things in life, moderation is the key. While I want to try my best to attain optimum health, I also don't want to be overly neurotic about my food.

I will share some photos of my container gardens past and present later and see if I can find those hanging soda bottles to share with you along with a few other ideas.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Symptom Free

I have gone close to a month now avoiding MSG, Aspartame and other harmful ingredients as much as possible. Not surprisingly nearly all my concerning symptoms went away. I expected they would once I narrowed down what was causing them and avoided the substances that were causing them.

What surprised me though were other health concerns that have cleared up that I never related to these substances. Since I was sixteen years old I have suffered from chronic heart burn and acid reflux. I have been on over the counter and prescription meds for close to 30 years. Not one night would pass even on medication that I wouldn't wake up with burning pain and food coming back up my throat into my mouth. I had tried every thing from bland diets, natural remedies and more. NOTHING ever helped. Well, guess what? Since less than a week after giving up foods with toxic substances I am for the first time in close to thirty years off ALL medications for heart burn and acid reflux!

One night about a week ago I made Green Chili Enchilada's for supper. I used natural chicken, organic salsa, organic corn tortillas, canned green chili sauce and natural cheese. Within ten minutes the left side of my face around my lip went numb. I knew everything I used other than the can of sauce was natural and/or organic. So in a frenzy I dug through the trash for that can to look at the ingredient list. Sure enough, not even hidden on the label was the MSG! That night for the first and only time since giving up toxic foods I again experienced heart burn and TERRIBLE acid reflux.

That experience is enough to convince me, that I am on the right path. I also now realize other health issues I just passed off to age or environment or my liking for spicy foods is also related to these toxic food substances. Other symptoms I never would have expected to be related besides the heartburn that are now gone or nearly gone, are allergy type symptoms, fullness in my left ear and menstrual irregularities.

Avoiding this stuff is harder than one might think at first as it is in so many foods. More on this later.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mother Knows Best


After watching the films in my previous posts, I became sure that my mother was right, and Aspartame was evil stuff. I now sure wish I would have listened to her all those years ago. The other substance my mother used to nag me about was MSG. Again, I was never convinced until watching those movies already mentioned, as well as THIS ONE:




I honestly don't remember if this one named MSG specifically, but it was a combination of the movies already listed as well as this that convinced me my bizarre health symptoms were from substances in my food. To this day I don't know whether it is the MSG or the Aspartame that I am reacting to or both. But I do know without them, I no longer have symptoms, and other symptoms I never even related to these substances are now gone!

See, my drinks not only contained Aspartame, they contained MSG as well. MSG is in EVERYTHING, or nearly everything. And those who put this substance in their food stuff are VERY sneaky about it. It wont always say MSG or even monosodium glutamate.

I wonder why they are so sneaky about it? Why don't they just label it as it is, rather than sneaking it under hidden names?

Here is a GREAT website that has tons of information on this toxic substance as well as lists of the hidden names, and just about anything else you could ever want or need to know on the subject: TRUTH IN LABELING. They are also really friendly and helpful if you email them with questions. They helped me to find the hidden MSG in a "health" shake I consume and was reacting to, but couldn't find the MSG or Aspartame in the ingredient list. It was surely in there, just under one of the many hidden names.

Later I will share the other symptoms that I had that I had lived with for years, that I never even would have thought had anything to do with any of this, that all have miraculously disappeared since I gave up foods containing these substances. I will also share what medication I have been able to give up for the first time in over 30 years since stopping eating foods that contain MSG or Aspartame. I will share ideas on how to avoid these substances and more.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Your Diet Soda Making You Fat...or Sick?

I came across this video a few weeks back on Facebook and found it VERY informative, not only about "diet" soda and weight gain, but more so on other effects on our health. It really covers how they are bad for our bones and yet another symptom I suffer(ed) from; heartburn/acid reflux.

VERY much worth watching!


My Big Light Bulb Moment.

Yesterday I was sharing my bizarre health symptoms and how I was able to link them to my favorite calorie free beverages. I didn't know for sure what it was in them that was causing the symptoms. I was assuming it was the caffeine. Perhaps I was overdosing myself on caffeine. I checked the milligrams I was consuming per day with the recommended amounts and it was a bit over, so for that time being I was sure that was the issue.

A few days later SWEET MISERY arrived from Netflix.
I honestly don't recall why I had it in my queue to begin with, I had originally thought it was about GMO foods, and was a little disappointed that it was on Aspartame.

My disappointment quickly faded! As I watched this documentary I quickly realized that BOTH the drinks I was consuming that caused these symptoms I was having had Aspartame! People in this film talked about symptoms VERY similar to mine. All of a sudden it all made sense. I HIGHLY recommend this movie for all, whether or not you think you are having symptoms related to Aspartame and similar substances. It is VERY eye opening in many other ways. I was shocked and angered as I learned more about how this product actually got approved and how it had great difficulty getting approved at first, and of all the noted side effects and diseases caused by using this product. Yet, we are constantly being assured it is safe to use.


Feeling I found my answer, I quickly purchased the follow up; SWEET REMEDY.

I was unable to find it on Netflix, so I purchased it as I really felt so strongly that this was my answer! This film was even more enlightening as it touched on even more toxic food substances like GMO's and MSG.

I feel both these films are worth watching, but if I could only see one, it would probably be the second one as it went into more depth on the dangers of many of these food additives, and some of the politics behind keeping these dangerous substances on the market while keeping safer, natural sweeteners off the shelves.

I wish I could say the Aspartame was my full and complete answer on my health issues, but it wasn't. While these films opened my eyes and helped me to start to narrow down what substance(s) are a concern for me, it just scratched the surface. But they did get me looking into all of this a bit more.

I will share a few other films that have helped me in my search as well as some youtube videos you can view now, and many helpful links to sites on the web. I thought here was a good place to start though, as this was my own personal starting point as well.

Check back in soon for more!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What Is Causing This?

For many years now, more than twenty at least I have been consuming diet beverages despite many warnings from my mother and others. I never thought I was suffering any of the so called side effects other than an occasional head ache or digestive upset. But certainly nothing that would make me give up a calorie free treat in exchange for the same treat with 200 or more calories! My goodness, I wouldn't want to get fat!

I read all the warnings that drinking such beverages could actually lead to weight gain, and ignored them, as there seemed to be as many disputing that argument.

In the last two years as I have gotten really into fitness, I started consuming protein powders, health shakes, amino supplements and more. Not to mention continuing my 2-3 a day energy drink habit. I mean, I need energy to keep up with these intense workouts, right?

Several months ago, I started having really bizarre symptoms and was convinced I was having either several mini-strokes or developing MS. My left side of my face would get numb, even my brother noticed my mouth drooping. My left hand would go numb and my arm felt heavy and like it was lagging. My speech felt like it was slurred to me, words were hard to form and I was having lots of trouble concentrating, forming and keeping thoughts and just more odd such symptoms.

Now, you'd think I'd go to the Dr. My brother even urged me to after he witnessed one of my "episodes." Those that know me well, know I don't go to the Dr. unless it is an immediate life threatening emergency. Also, over time I noticed these symptoms were most severe after consuming my Energy drink and also a certain Amino supplement that I am fond of.

Once making the connection, I completely stopped all of the above supplements and drinks to kind of test myself to see if this was really what was causing such disturbing symptoms. My symptoms almost completely disappeared within three days. One day I was extra tired and had a big day and drank an Energy Drink. That was the day my brother witnessed my symptoms and the very last day I consumed an Energy Drink. Not only did the numbness occur, but the confusion was the worst ever, so bad in fact, that I actually got lost driving to meet him, because for some reason, I couldn't distinguish my right from my left. I was sure I was making left turns to my destination and was confused to why I was struggling to find where I was going. I eventually got there after several calls to my brother, and didn't realize until the last turn what I had been doing! He told me to make yet another left turn into our final meeting place, and I was outraged when it appeared to be a right to me. Why would my brother screw up the directions so badly? Then all of a sudden it hit me...I was the screw up...I had been making rights rather than lefts the whole time!! I was frightened beyond belief. As a 42 year old woman, who takes pride in how well I educate my children at home and someone who is very physically acute and aware, taking martial arts, yoga and more, I have NEVER had a problem telling my right from my left!!

It was that day I realized something was terribly wrong, and something I had been consuming for years in my quest for health and fitness was causing it.

It was then I started my own research trying to discover exactly what was going on. What I found surprised, shocked, scared and totally outraged me! What was happening to me, had happened and is happening to several others. I did not like the answers I found, on many levels.

Over the next several days, I'd like to share with you what I've discovered and what I am doing to improve my own health and my family's health. I will share links of sites and research I found as well as movies, youtube clips and more.

So, check back very soon as I try and gather everything together in a way that wont overwhelm or bore you. If you have been suffering with strange symptoms or have children who are suffering with hyperactivity, behavior problems, chronic allergies or sickness, be sure to check back in. Hopefully you can find some answers too!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Recipe.

I found this recipe last week and made it last night for the family and it was a HUGE hit! It makes a nice summer meal. The dressing was incredible. My fourteen year old actually asked me to make the dressing again to dip chicken in.

Here is the link to the recipe: Oriental Chicken Salad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Video Worth Watching!

I saw this video making it's rounds on Facebook today and just had to share here! I love that it is so positive about homeschooling, without necessarily bashing the alternatives! I LOVE the Ron Paul comment at the end too!


Done!!

Today we officially finished our 2010/2011 School Year!! A week and a half earlier than scheduled at that! It feels SO good to be done! We will be taking a short summer break, just under a month and a half before we start back up again.

This school year was a little more hectic than most, though not the most hectic we've had. But because of a very demanding toddler and other things going on in our lives I really feel like this school year wasn't our most productive.

We've always been more eclectic type homeschoolers using a little of this a little of that, Lot's of unit studies, read a louds and more "creative" learning methods. Next year though I think we are going to switch gears a bit and go to a more traditional workbook style curriculum for all of our core subjects with the older boys, hoping that they will be able to work a little more independently, while I focus on the preschooler and some of his needs. Also, this way I can be sure they are getting their basics in giving me more time to plan more fun type activities and electives. I will share in another post later more specifics of our plan for the next year. Right now, I just want to relish in the fact that we are DONE!! And VERY glad about it!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Counting My Blessings....and a WARNING

Last night I experienced one of the biggest scares in my twenty-five years of parenting. I am praising and thanking God that all turned out well, as it could have been a tragic even fatal accident. The most important lesson learned, is that this was all 100 % preventable.

Words can't even describe the overwhelming fear and dread I felt when I heard a huge crash and bang from the upstairs bedroom.

My youngest had been a handful most of the day. I was really sick, the sickest I've been in a while, coming down with the nasty cold bug he and my twelve year old had earlier in the week. My youngest kept challenging me all day, climbing on furniture, jumping off of furniture, basically just doing dangerous stunts and not responding to my corrections. Tiring out and not feeling well I sent him to bed early.

As usual, I sent him up with a snack, tucked him in, gave him a kiss and latched the safety gate, which we keep up to keep the little dogs and other pets out of his room. I came back down and sat at the computer to listen to a sermon I had downloaded and was anxious to hear.

About ten minutes later, came the CRASH, BOOM, BANG!

I quickly ran up the stairs, with my 12 and 14 year olds following closely behind. When I saw the scene all I could do was start praying out loud that my child would be okay. I found the tall chest of drawers fallen over on top of him and his body half in and out of the dresser. It looked like a dreadful scene. I was sure there had to be VERY serious injuries. Before I even entered the room I ordered the 12 year old to go down and call 911.

I was so eager to get into the room, and my strength just over took me as I tore the safety gate right off the wall to gain access. The first goal was to get the dresser off of him. The way he was under it I feared he could have a back injury and most likely a broken arm and leg on his left side.

I am 100% convinced it is a miracle that other than some bruising the child is fine! Luckily the 12 year old had difficulties operating the cell to call 911(Something we will work on and review today, as it could have been tragic if it turned out we did need them and precious moments were lost due to him not being able to figure out how to use my smart phone) After the tears were shed, and we got the injured child up and moving, it was amazingly obvious he had no serious injuries.

If you had seen the scene I saw when I found him with the dresser on him, you too, would be having the same feelings of awe that I now am. I am extremely grateful he is fine, but can hardly believe it!

In this horrible situation, my 14 year old really stepped up and played man of the house. He took down the gate to my room and moved the dresser over there until my husband can install brackets on it to secure it to the wall in the boys room. He put back up both gates, did the clean up(a lamp, and several books and other items were on the dresser when it fell) and basically took care of all the stuff his father would have had he been here, so I could tend to and comfort the injured child. I am so proud of my son for taking all this on, on his own without being asked. He just knew what had to be done, and did it.

I want to warn all parents of young children about the serious potential dangers of large pieces of furniture not secured to walls. We had already had brackets on the other dresser, as we noticed he was climbing on it long ago. It is secure to the wall. Why we didn't have this dresser secured, I don't know. I don't know if we just thought because it was so tall, he wouldn't climb it, or we just overlooked it or what. But it wasn't secure.

Even if you don't have a climber, they can still pose a danger if you live in an area like we do that is prone to earthquakes. I just urge you, for the few dollars it will cost, and the few moments of time it will take, SECURE your large furniture to the walls!

I know last year there was a fellow blogger who lost a young child due to a similar accident. That was what was running through my mind when I saw my child under that dresser. I am SO thankful and know it is only by the grace of God, that he is okay.

In my sons case, it turns out he opened the drawers and climbed the drawers to get onto the dresser. So after reading articles about securing dressers I wasn't surprised to learn that it is also wise to put safety latches on the individual drawers as well.

Accidents happen, but many are preventable. No matter how hard we try to protect our children, there will be times we will overlook something, and we can't blame ourselves if the worse does happen. I am just beyond thankful that this time all turned out okay.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What 100 Doctors Say

I have been using Beachbody products for almost two years now. Starting with P90X back in June of 2009, followed by two more rounds of P90X, a round of Insanity, currently doing Asylum, and mixing up all of the above including ChaLEAN Extreme and all of the One on One videos.

I guess it would be no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Beachbody products! So, it may surprise you to know during all of this time, until two weeks ago, I NEVER tried Shakeology. Shakeology is probably one of Beachbody's biggest selling products, right up there with P90X, Insanity, Turbo Jam and others.

I think it sells so great because it really is made for everyone, from the elite athlete, to the stay at home mom, to the overworked dad, those looking to lose weight, and certainly anyone looking to improve over all health. Rare to find a product that could appeal to such a diverse group of people, and really deliver the desired results to each individual.

I really thought it was a bunch of hype and wasn't interested in even trying. I like my morning post workout protein shake/smoothie, but beyond that, I am not one who is a fan of liquid meal replacements or similar type items.

So, what made me finally try? Well, a couple of my friends got on it and were raving about results such as weight loss, healthier skin, nails and hair, improved digestion, increased energy and more. I was still reluctant until my husband came home and started saying how people at his work were on it and making the same sort of claims!

So I broke down and bought some. Now, I wont lie, in regards to the taste it wasn't love at first bite...or sip. There is a reason they send out recipe cards with your order! The Greenberry tastes much better than, but still very much like any other "greeen" health shake. It is much improved with a banana and orange juice blended in.

The Chocolate, is okay on it's own, but downright heavenly with added fruits. My favorite is a handful of frozen raspberries or cherries. A close second is a banana and peanut butter.

I noticed right away a HUGE increase in my overall energy. Also almost immediately there was a MAJOR decrease in cravings for not only sweets, but caffeine. I still drink my Amino Energy, but have cut down to three scoops a serving rather than four. I also have given up my Monster Energy Drink addiction. I normally buy and drink a CASE a week and I have had one or two CANS since starting Shakeology.

A few days ago I started noticing my hair felt better, smoother and softer. Just today I am noticing my skin is softer. I have lost four pounds without changing anything other than this week I am exercises LESS due to an injury. I haven't changed my diet and I don't replace a meal with it, just use it as a snack.

So, now you could say I am a believer! But don't take my word on it. Watch this video to see what Doctors say about it:




If you'd like to learn more or find out how to order please consider visiting my Shakeology Website: SHAKEOLOGY

When you buy Shakeology or any BEACHBODY product from my websites you also get me as your FREE personal coach to help you in your journey towards better health. I am here to answer your questions, guide you and walk with you on your journey towards improved fitness and health.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Confirmation Day and a Major Breakthrough

This past Sunday was a HUGE day in many ways for my family! My 14 year old son, Matthew, got confirmed into the church! That was a huge deal, but not the hugest. Those who know my family in real life know that Matthew is incredibly shy. Shy is putting it mildly. He is painfully shy. He likes to just keep to himself and maybe a close friend or two. He doesn't do well in large groups, has a hard time making eye contact, and is just....painfully shy.

Our pastor was insistent that for confirmation my son get up in front of the church and read an essay he wrote in response to two questions asked of him by the pastor. My son has been DREADING this for months. He was so excited to get confirmed after two years of classes, but just did NOT want to do this one thing. I honestly thought he wouldn't.

I had emailed the pastor several times requesting my son be excused from this request. Perhaps he could just read his confirmation verse? The pastor was insistent! UGH!

The big day arrived and my son was refusing to go! Now what? I called, and emailed everyone I knew and asked them to pray. My son finally gets ready but insists he wont read this. Now, really unless you know him, you have no idea how painfully shy he is and what a huge and to me at the time unreasonable request this was.

We arrive and take our seats and I can just see my son turning different shades of green and grey! I thought he was going to get sick right there!

His name was called and he went up and.....READ his essay!

Now, I wont lie, or glorify it. The truth is he was so quiet he could not be heard by those beyond the front two or three rows. He skipped sentences and mumbled a bit. But HE DID IT!!

I don't think anybody there believed it. My son has grown up in this church and not one person thought he'd do it. Nobody even noticed how quiet his speech was or how slurred it was, because they were all praying for him the whole time!

What a break through! Once it was done he was so relieved and just enjoyed the rest of the day.

That morning I wasn't sure how much I liked my pastor. I didn't have warm and fuzzy feelings toward him, that's for sure. But you know what? He was right in making my son do this and in thinking he could. I don't think my son would have done this for anyone else either. He has some connection with this pastor that he never really has with any other and I think he'd do just about anything for him out of respect.

I really think this was a big step and will give my son more confidence in the future because this pastor believed my son could and would do this instead of just letting him stay in his shell like everyone else(including mom and dad!) has always done!


He did it!!

Still Trying To Balance It All...

I know I've written similar posts too often before, but I have to remind myself often, that I named this blog "My Balancing Act" as at the time I created it, I really felt like I was wearing many hats and trying to balance many things in my life.

At the time, instead of trying to compartmentalize my life into many blogs, I decided to share it all here. Slowly over the last year, I have found myself again trying to compartmentalize not only my life, but my blogging life too. I moved my recipes over to a cooking blog, and my fitness lifestyle issues over to a specialized Facebook page and fitness blog over on my Team Beachbody profile page.

This made sense as I didn't want to clog this blog and subject readers that weren't interested to post after post of fitness information, or recipes. But in the process what has happened is I have 3-4 blogs, Facebook pages, and profiles at fitness sites and most if not all are being severely neglected. As I decide "which" blog or profile to post on, I end up not posting on any.

I have had people tell me they love reading my homeschool or family related posts here, but are turned off by my fitness posts or reviews. I've had others tell me they come looking for the fitness posts but don't really care about homeschooling. That is fine, to each his or her own. We all have our own interests.

But, I happen to be a Christian, a homeschooler, a total fitness fanatic, a mom to five blessings, a patriot and many more things. As such I will be blogging about all of the above and probably more here. The scroll wheel is a great tool. If something is posted that just doesn't interest a reader, scroll on past...no offense will be taken, honestly I'll never even know!

I will no longer be maintaining my cooking blog. I will keep it up as that is where most of my personal recipes are stored. But in the future if I come across a recipe or cooking site I want to share, it will be posted here along with the occasional fitness review or tips and an array of homeschooling related items.

I hope as a result I will be posting here more frequently.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Checking Myself In!!


After going completely insane with Insanity and getting the best results I've had yet, I've decided to check myself into the ASYLUM!

Asylum is the follow up to Insanity and looks like quite a challenge and loads of fun! I ordered mine and was so excited I even ordered second day air delivery! I can hardly wait!

As usual when I start and complete a new program you can count on before and after pics and reviews of the workouts.

If you'd like to join me, you can order from the link above, then add me as a buddy on the Team Beachbody site and we can do this together. As a Beachbody Coach I am always here for you to help you with your goals!

Here's just a sample of what Asylum is all about!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Signs"

We had to make a LONG drive over the weekend and so I had the chance to see lots and lots of signs on the freeway each direction. I didn't notice the signs so much on the way out as I was anxious about where we were going, but on the way back once boredom set in I couldn't help but notice the signs.

There seemed to be three main themes and I just couldn't help but laugh at the irony of two of them. The first theme was the gambling/casinos. Nothing too striking there, other than it sure reminds you how old you really are when they are advertising your favorite singer from the past and your kids have no idea who they are, and they now look old enough to be a grandparent. Makes you wonder if you too look that old.

The other two themes, which where overwhelming in amount, kind of struck both a funny bone and a sore spot with me. I kid you not when I say at least every four miles there was a sign for some form of weight loss gimmick. The overwhelming majority were for the lap band procedure.

I just couldn't help but think one couldn't help but feel fat or overweight when every four miles was a sign for either the lap band procedure or a diet clinic or some form of liquid diet. I can see and understand a sign or two, but for the 150 mile drive home I was reminded every few minutes that I am fat.(I'm not by the way, but you sure can't help but wonder when being bombarded with these signs every few minutes)

What was somewhat ironic and to be honest, enraging for me was the fact that the signs right in front of or right across from these weight loss signs were signs for fast food restaurants. What is the message here? The media is always sending these sorts of mixed messages. Who are we to listen too? I watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars and am told via Carl's Jr. that I am sexy if I eat this over sized, dripping burger or sandwich and men will watch me with their jaws dropped as I look like a sexy vixen eating this artery clogging death sentence of a meal. But then, right by this Carl's Jr. sign on the freeway is a reminder of how fat I am once I consume this meal and need my stomach stapled.

As an adult and one who makes health and fitness a hobby and lifestyle and soon to be career, I can easily decipher these mixed messages, but what about our young and impressionable youth, especially the young ladies? What kind of messages are we sending them?

Driving another direction through Palm Springs which we often do, there are just as many signs, but these are for various forms of plastic surgery. It seems no matter where we go, or even how hard we may try to avoid negative forms of media, it seems to find a way to sneak into our lives and taunt us and remind us of how inadequate we are in the eyes of the worlds standards! No wonder we have so many who struggle with eating disorders and body image issues!

Then we have the real problems of unhealthy school lunch programs and lack of PE programs in the school. Not to mention just lack of general healthy movement of any sort thanks to our lifestyles today. It is hard to stay healthy physically and even more so mentally in regards to healthy thought processes about our bodies when we are constantly bombarded with these sorts of mixed messages and overwhelming negative ones.

I suppose it's just all a good reminder of where we really need to be looking for our self worth and it's not the commercials on TV, the radio or even the signs on the side of the road. A good place to start is :

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Label Me(NOT)!!

Lately I have noticed on a variety of message boards and egroups that people have personalized signature lines. Because most of the groups I frequent are homeschool related, most of these custom signatures include a list of the members children, ages, and usually something extra about each child. It seems in the past, it use to be the curriculum each child used or school method or something educationally related.

Lately though, I've noticed something different that seems to just kind of rub me the wrong way. Perhaps it's just me, but the new trend seems to list the child's name, age, and now instead of curriculum used, a label diagnosing the child's "disorder." This could be anything from Apspergers and Autism to Bipolar disorder or ADD.

I know(trust me I know) that there are an increasingly growing number of children with these "disorders." What I don't understand is why so many are so quick to use one of those labels to identify their child to the world.

Labels can be helpful, to give you a label to identify my son might help you understand better why he cringes away when you reach out to touch him, or why he seems to be lacking in communication skills. It can help a health care provider to understand why he is difficult to treat, but here's what that label doesn't tell you, it doesn't tell you;

that his favorite colors are pink, red and orange and in that order. It doesn't tell you that he loves animals with a passion and they seem to naturally flock to him as well. It doesn't tell you that he loves to give "high five's" and has an unusual interest in the weather and weather conditions. It doesn't tell you how much at four years old he loves and appreciates a good sunset. It doesn't tell you how much he LOVES to dance and express himself through movement. There are just so many things that label can't tell you about my son, so I hesitate to and rarely use that label. I feel that label defines and limits him, and he is so, so much more than a one word label.

In the past many of our great inventors and artists were labeled as such, just great inventors and artists. Today, we even want to go back in time and label these great contributors to our world. Sure, I am sure today they would have been labeled with some sort of "disorder" but what defines them? The label or their genius contributions?

So, while there is nothing wrong with using a label to shed some understanding or explain your child's unique "quirks" don't let that be what defines them to others or themselves.

Here's my new siggy line for my special child:

Tara, mom to Austin: Sunset lover, weather watcher extraordinaire, Video game master, possible future veterinarian or professional dancer and expert high fiver!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preaching To The Choir

Convention season is starting soon! I normally LOVE homeschool conventions and can't wait to go. This year though I find myself second guessing whether or not I'll go. Usually it's a no brainer...I GO! This year the one closest to me has one of my very favorite speakers. At first I was SO excited and was sure I'd go. I have yet to mail in my payment and registration form though. Why? Well...

I totally agree with most everything this speaker regularly speaks on and have a great deal of respect for him. He is one of the few speakers I get totally excited over and feel like shouting AMEN to several of his famous one liners. I have noticed the great majority of the audience does the same and we all get fired up. I've also noticed though that several squirm in their seats. I have seen talk of him on several popular homeschool message boards and have come to understand the discomfort many have with him and others like him.

It would be easy to say that they are feeling convicted in their sin and that is what is making them uncomfortable. That may be true for some, but I am not too sure. While I do believe most of what he and others like him speak is the truth, what good is the truth when you are only preaching to the choir so to speak? Those of us in agreement with him get all excited and riled up and more convinced than ever that we are on the right path, but we already believed that BEFORE we walked in to the conference. What about those who may NEED to hear what he says, but whose ears are going to be closed because of the delivery of the message?

Those who need to hear the truth in a loving way are going to be turned off to it because of the delivery. It's one thing to be convicted on something, but sometimes there is a fine line between expressing that conviction and arrogance. I have to repent here myself and say that I am afraid there have been times I have allowed my own personal convictions to turn to arrogance. A feeling of superiority that I am doing things the "right" way and therefore those who aren't doing things just like me have it all wrong and are wretched, horrible sinners. Okay, slight exaggeration, but shamefully I have suffered from feelings of superiority and pride in areas of my life.

Sadly many considering homeschooling may never begin because they go expecting to learn something about this still somewhat unfamiliar to many alternative in education and end up in a room full of people all excited and raving how this particular way is the ONLY way to do it and any other way is wrong and perhaps even sinful.

I don't know, see, I'd rather be speaking and reaching to those that are searching, than those that already agree 100% with me. First, I think we who homeschool for religious reasons need to remember that not everyone interested in homeschooling is doing so for religious reasons. I wasn't when I started. I wasn't even a practicing Christian when I started. It was homeschooling that helped lead me back on that path. I think if I had been hit over the head with what I see and hear from many prominent so called homeschool "leaders" I may have run FAR the other way and not even considered homeschooling and as a result may not be a Christian today.

It's like that in many areas of Christian life, whether it be the preaching in churches to those already saved rather than hitting the streets or jungles to those who have never heard the Word. Christian films that have great messages that even unbelievers could appreciate, UNTIL the sappy preachieness becomes so overwhelming and obvious that those who aren't already part of the choir shouting "AMEN" get up and leave.

Don't get me wrong, there is a definite place for Christian films, good preaching and powerful homeschool messages. I happen to be a fan of all of the above, but I recently am starting to wonder if in too many of these areas those in leadership should be trying to reach out to those who really need the message rather than continue to the back patting, ego stroking choir.

I know I rush out and buy or download most of the big conference speakers talks as they become available, and all the latest Christian films, and I LOVE them, but I am not so sure many of my family or friends would feel the same. I do believe we should boldly speak the truth, but that bold truth must also be spoken in love or it's only going to be spoken to deaf ears or of course those who already agree with you.

One thing that really got me thinking about all of this and it's relation to homeschooling is the movie "Waiting for Superman" which I will share about a little later. Great film, but I think I got something a little different out of it than most.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking Back

I am feeling rather nostalgic today thinking back on my son leaving a year ago for boot camp. That combined with the fact that one of my oldest and dearest friends own son is leaving for boot camp this May.

As I think back on my own experience and in trying to prepare her what to expect, a few major(at least to me) things pop in my mind. I am sure I have shared many if not all of these things at one time or another on here(with each year that passes, so does a bit more of my already failing memory) but I want to share them again in hopes they may help someone who is getting ready to go through the experience of a loved one leaving for military service.

First and foremost, I truly believe my biggest support through our whole boot camp experience was Navy For Moms. I HIGHLY recommend any mother, wife or loved one of a future or current Sailor take a visit there and sign up for the group or groups related to your expected needs(boot camp group, A School group, etc..) Having the support of those who had already gone through the experience as well as the bonds made with others currently going through it with you make a HUGE difference. I knew what to expect and when, from the first letters, to the dreaded "box" of your loved ones items they left home in and more. Thanks to letters shared by other mothers and wives from their Recruits I knew how things were going even when I didn't get my expected letter one week. A year later and many of those ladies are still my friends on Facebook and other social networks. Our loved ones are now stationed in different places all over the globe, yet we women still share that bond of having gone through the boot camp experience together.

One thing many loved ones want to know is what kind of gift to give the recruit before they leave. Honestly, if it wont fit in their wallet, they shouldn't bring it, because it WILL get sent home! Many learn this the hard way. Even stationary items will be sent home. The best gift you can give is a phone card, already activated, stamps, and LOTS of letters while they are in boot camp. I was so sad to learn how many young men didn't get letters. I wrote my son daily, sometimes more than once a day. I sent Facebook status updates, photos of friends, thoughts I had friends write before he left and I held on to and other items of interest.

A year later and my son still often comments on how much mail he received. Those letters from home really help them get through the whole experience. Even if it's not your own family member going through boot camp, WRITE and write OFTEN! Church members wrote, friends, other family, and I can assure you each and every letter was saved by my son and still cherished.

Which leads me to my next thought. The nicest thing I think anybody has ever done for me! Before my son left a friend sent me a keepsake box:

Filled with many boxes of cards, stamps and writing instruments:

We not only used these to write many of our letters, but in turn have used it to store his letters to us as well as other small Navy related items he has sent home or left here:

I still often go through these letters . Some bring a tear, some bring a smile, but all remind me of this last year and the growing all of us as a family have gone through, through this experience.

I loved and appreciated this thoughtful gift more than words can express, and I plan on stealing this idea for my dear friend whose son is leaving soon(my best ideas are my "borrowed" ones!)

Our church has a quilt ministry. Several of the ladies make quilts for those who are ill or going through tough times. On the quilt are SEVERAL threads, and we as a church pray for the person receiving the quilts and then tie a knot for each prayer. There is no magic per say in the quilt or the knots, the magic is in the prayers, but the knots show the person how much they are cared for and how many prayers are being said on their behalf. I think that is pretty magic!

Our church also has made "pocket" quilts for our brave young men and women serving our country. One was given to my son prior to leaving for Boot Camp, and was able to fit in his wallet, making it so he can keep it at boot camp.


While those brave young men and women who willingly choose to serve our country, especially in these times when we are already at war deserve our utmost respect and gratitude, let us not forget the moms and wives who are at home holding things up on the home front. The young wives especially who are doing the hard work of perhaps raising young children and running a household alone could sure use some extra help and support. Parenting and marriage is hard enough under ideal circumstances, but can seem especially overwhelming when you are worried about your better half serving and protecting our country.

If you know such a young lady, offer to watch her children for an afternoon giving her some much deserved rest or make a meal or two occasionally. Anything special to lighten her load and lift her spirits.

Of course us moms missing our child can use a smile or word of encouragement as well. We all feel an overwhelming sense of pride in our young service member, but we also miss our children dearly. For our family, it's one year of service down, and four to go, more if he decides this is his career path. It gets easier over time, but never "easy."

A Year ago Today

Today marks the one year anniversary of my son starting his Navy career. A year ago today I left him at the recruiters station and spent the next several months locking myself in the bathroom crying. I was and am so happy and proud of him, but the mom in me had a hard time letting go, and the no contact for those first few weeks was nearly unbearable.

It's been a long year in many ways, and in others it seems like just yesterday that I left him there in that parking lot and said good-bye.

Most of this first year has been training for him, first bootcamp, then "A School" for his Hospital Corpsman training, followed by yet more training with the Marines this time for his Field Medical Training Battalion (FMTB) Training. So he didn't actually arrive at his first non-training duty station until this past December. He is at a small Marine base, and for the most part enjoys it. We are so incredibly blessed that he is only a few hours from home now and we get to see him at least once a month if not more often.

Overall the Navy (and the Marines he serves with!) have been very good to and for him. I am confident he made the right decision for himself and couldn't be more proud!

The night of graduating boot camp

Arriving home after bootcamp and A School

After his training with the Marines

Monday, February 14, 2011

Treats for my Sweeeties!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!! I always loved Valentines day as a child. We never did much in our family, but I loved the Valentines exchange at school, it was one of my favorite events! As a homeschooler I always worried my children would feel left out(actually it was ME who felt like I was missing out!) so we've always participate in mail valentines exchange with our online support groups. They are great fun! I LOVE getting valentines from all over the U.S. and in some cases even other countries!

For the past several years we've also arranged Valentines Day parties for our local homeschool group. They are usually one of our bigger events, though this year only two other families showed. It was still fun!

This year for the first time, I made goodies for the kids and my hubby. They were surprised and enjoyed them lots! It went over so well, I think I will do something similar every year.

I TOTALLY stole the idea from THIS blog. I even used two of the recipes, though I must say hers turned out much prettier than mine. Good thing my husband or kids never saw hers so therefore had no comparison and were quite pleased and thought I was quite original and talented!




Friday, February 11, 2011

Bye-Bye Facebook!

I did it, I pressed the button and it feels SO freeing! I clicked "de-activate" account on Facebook. I have struggled off and on for months or longer with the "should I or shouldn't I" be on Facebook crisis.

It's not that there is anything wrong with Facebook in and of itself really, it's just that for me it became a HUGE time eater. Not only that but while I had hundreds of "friends" on there I felt it was keeping me from maintaining those "real life" friendships I had. For instance just this week I found out on Facebook that my dear sister in-law had a surgery. I would have known that had I just picked up the phone and called her each week like I use to. But no, I was too busy posting three sentence blurbs about my workout or my dog or something else lame...

I even found out my own son had pneumonia on Facebook before he called to tell me. To top it off he was staying with me on his leave when this happened!

I in many ways felt more "connected" to my loved ones on there, especially those like my son who may be far away, but I think really in the long run it makes me less connected. Instead of long phone calls or letters I became content with the three sentence blurb.

I also started to get annoyed with so much negativity on there. So many post nothing but their negative thoughts or negative things going on in their lives whether it be their health, children, family life, whatever. There is nothing wrong with venting occasionally, but with hundreds of "friends" and half of them posting only negative items, it starts to bring you down as well.

I have also gotten into real life disagreements with people because of misunderstandings either on my end or theirs in regards to a status update comment. NOT worth it!!

I think Facebook can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and stay up to date on current events, but like anything else it takes a certain amount of self control to use it in a wise and worthwhile way.

I have an addictive type personality, whether it be food issues, caffeine, Internet usage, even my health and fitness. I struggle to find balance in all these things.(hence the name of my blog: My Balancing Act) For me personally, at least for now it has to be an all or nothing decision for me. For now I choose nothing. It is zapping too much of my family, schooling and sadly even Bible time.

So, if we were "friends" on Facebook, I didn't de-friend you, I am gone from there period. I may or may not be back, but it will be many months, if ever. If you were a "fan" of my fitness page, watch for details here, I am working on a website dedicated to that, until then I may post occasional items of interest here.

I suspect I will find more time to post here now as well, whether that is good or bad, well you can decide that I suppose!

FAREWELL FACEBOOK(and good riddens! LOL )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Rare Breed

"A Rare Breed." "A Dying Breed." "One of a Kind." These are phrases we often hear in regards to our eleven year old son, almost daily during our daily trip to the post office. Some people give him strange looks, most just look utterly surprised, many smile, and a surprisingly large amount will actually seek me out in the office to comment on my child.

What is it that he does that warrants so much attention? Actually something quite simple, but apparently not often done these days; He holds open the door for people coming in an out of the post office.

It started off with just me asking once or twice for him to run on ahead and open the door for an elderly person or someone with lots of packages. Over time, either because he started to enjoy it or because of all the attention he receives, he now always stands guard at the door during our time there, opening and closing the door into the mail box hall as well as the door to the actual post office. It really does seem it just makes him feel good to make other people if even briefly feel happy or special and the positive comments only make him more enthusiastic to do so.

I guess there are at least two lessons to be learned here. One, there is much joy to be experienced by helping others and letting them experience a moment of feeling good, and second, a positive comment to a child can really help build those character traits in children that we want to see more of. Those comments should come from mom and dad often at home, but a word of praise to a child or about a child to the child's parents, yet within hearing distance of the child can go a LONG way in developing that child's character. Those comments and words of praise are also sweet music to a mothers soul and just the encouragement she may need to keep up the hard day to day work of raising and building young boys into young men!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Tale of Two Movies(or "The Value of a Life")

I recently watched two similar yet very different movies within days of each other. They both left me thinking about each one itself as well as how there were similarities yet completely drastically different endings. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!)

The first was Million Dollar Baby


We started off really enjoying this movie about a young lady, who it seems had a pretty difficult life, and a love for boxing. With the help and training of an at first somewhat reluctant coach/trainer, she goes on to be a champion female boxer.

This is a somewhat rags to riches story, she is eventually able to provide well for her ungrateful mother and family and seems to have it all; Success at a sport she loves, money to provide for herself and her loved ones. Life is now good.

Then a tragic accident happens, one that leaves her permanently disabled. I don't know whether this was a true story or not. I suspect not, but I honestly don't know.(more on this movie in a minute)

The next movie we watched was Joni. This movie is a true story. It is similar in that Joni was once a very active, young lady as well. It is also similar in that a tragic accident left her permanently disabled just like the young lady in the movie above.

The difference in these movies is how each responds to her situation. You would think being a major Hollywood, well known and successful production the first title would have the happy ending and be a more uplifting movie, while the less known true story would have a more tragic ending..you would think, but think again!

In the first movie the young lady decides without the use of her body, her life isn't worth living anymore. Sadly it seems many agree with her. Ridden to her hospital bed she tries to find ways to end her life. She even begs her beloved coach and seemingly only true friend and support to help her end her life.

I mean, once you've lived and experienced the glory of winning a championship who would want to live life confined to a bed? What use was there for her in this life? What reason did she have to continue going on? Apparently she or her coach never found those answers because in the end he granted her request, though he struggled on many levels with it, in the end I guess he decided that was the right thing to do.... How sad...

Joni is different. While she struggled with many of the same feelings(which one of us wouldn't!) she DID find a reason to go on! For one, her faith in Jesus, which grew and became deeper over time was a huge part of that, with her family and close friends by her side, a self worth defined by more than her body or accomplishments she has gone on to live a full and vibrant and worthy life. She has been a HUGE inspiration to many, and has reached out to help and bless others.

Is her life different than it once was? Of course! Is it less than it once was? Not a chance! Her life will obviously never be what it would have been had the accident not occurred. But it doesn't make it any less a valuable life, or one less worth living.

I personally just really had a hard time with the decisions and choices each made and the drastically different views each had of their own worth and life's worth. As a Christian I can't help but believe that it was Joni's faith in Jesus Christ that made the difference for her. I guess if you don't have an eternal perspective on life, than even the life here on earth has a different meaning and value.

If all we have is ourselves, our bodies, our money and accomplishments, I guess it would be hard to find a reason to continue on when all that is taken from us.

It does make one want to take the time and pause and evaluate where we are placing our worth and value. If you look closely you will usually see it is where we are spending most of our money or our time, energy and thoughts.

If you look closely and are honest with your self, you may find you need to do a little re-prioritizing in your own life. I know I do!