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Monday, January 31, 2011

Did You Know?

I also have a cooking blog here: Cooking Simply

I have been debating combining both blogs into one as I have been posting there even less frequently than here. I have not been posting here as much as I used to or like to either. I thought by combining both here, I could post more frequently.

I am still thinking about it. For now though feel free to visit at the above link!

After Going "Insane"

I just finished my 60 days of the "Insanity" Program from Beachbody. I hadn't posted updates like I had planned, but I did want to share my results here. I started off at just under 120 lbs and am now 114.2.

I lost and inch and a half on my waist and two in my hips. I am comfortably fitting back in my size 5's. (even 7's were tight when I started.

I have to say it was truly the hardest program I've done, but it was also a great deal of fun. I also have such a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. There were things I saw the examples of and was just sure I at 41 couldn't do, but you know what? I DID!!

I am happy with my results. I am sure they would have been much better if I hadn't started the week before Thanksgiving and had to make it through that whole holiday as well as Christmas and New Years! On the bright side though, while others gained over this time, I lost! Just not what I would have had I been watching my eating better(those cookies get me every time!)

So, looking for the next challenge I started ChaLEAN Extreme today. I am glad for a change and a little less banging on my joints, but I think it seems not quite as intense as the workouts I am used to with Insanity and P90X. I got a GREAT deal on the program though and want to give it a fair try. I did do the first workout today and still had energy to burn so did the Fast and Furious Insanity workout. Those two together wore me out good!

You know, it really is about more than just looking good or getting into a certain pant size. It's about being as healthy as you can, making sure you're doing everything you can to set a good example for your children and loved ones. It's about making sure you are physically up to any task God may call you to do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Finally Done!

It seems like it's been forever, but it's only been a bit over two years since Daniel got burned in the campfire incident. We started off with trips to the burn clinic several times a week, then weekly, bi-weekly and monthly until we finally got to these last couple of check ups several months to six months apart. This whole time we still never knew for sure when the trips would end and when and if surgery would be ruled out.

Finally last week we got the news we've been waiting for. Daniel has a clean bill of health in regards to the burn! We not only do not need to make the two hour trips(each way) to the plastic surgeon anymore, but surgery has also been ruled out!

This whole thing has been an ordeal for us all, but also in many ways it all turned out so much better than it could have. From the first day until now, everything has just gone so smoothly and surprisingly well not only to us, but the Doctors involved in his care as well.

At first it was assumed and we were told he'd require to stay in the hospital for days for pain management, yet he went home that same night and has never taken anything stronger than a Tylenol for pain.

Each visit to the Burn Clinic they were prepared with strong pain killers before they began treatment, all of which he never needed.

Surgery until now had never been ruled out, as areas of the burn were third degree and the fear was that as he grew the skin may not stretch with him, but that appears to no longer be a concern.

Below are pictures of the progression from day one, to after the first few treatments to last week. I think it is all nothing short of a miracle. The human body, the skin and it's healing abilities just awe me beyond words. What a wonderful designer who created our bodies!

(oops! The pictures are in reverse order with the top one being the most recent!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Yummy, Chewy, Home-made Brownies!

I LOVE brownies! They are one of my few food weaknesses. Lucky for me, I don't get to indulge too much, as I had never found a home made recipe I really enjoy. UNTIL NOW!!

In most cases, nothing beats homemade, whether it be desserts, main meals, sauces, whatever. One of those few exceptions in my opinion, would have to be brownies. I just love how the box mixes come out chewy and slightly gooey. SO soft.

All the homemade recipes I've tried always came out dry or cakey rather than chewy. Until I found this recipe! (warning, they are SO good, you can't eat just one!)

2/3 cup butter(softened)
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking powder

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs. Then mix in flour, cocoa and powder.

Bake in a greased 13x 9 inch pan at 350 for 25 minutes. Do NOT over bake!

These are SO yummy! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hoarder, Mental or Just a Slob?

I love watching "Animal Hoarders" on Animal Planet. I'm not sure why, as most people I know are disgusted by it. I think it's because I can relate to the situations on there on several different levels. I have always kept animals, usually many animals at a time. Currently I only have four dogs(2 outdoor, 2 indoor) and two indoor cats as well as our chickens, which obviously are outdoors.

At one time we had three horses, seven goats, three rabbits, a few dozen chickens, cats, four dogs and assorted caged reptiles.

At another time I had 15 or so cats. All indoor, no other pets though.

I would say the closest I was to a "hoarder" was when I wasn't the hoarder per say but the caretaker of the hoard itself. I was 14 and my mother was recently divorced and in need of employment, housing and an income. We became the caretakers of a gentleman's house and his 37 cats. Yes, I said 37!!

So, you can see I have plenty of experience with large numbers of animals. Perhaps even to the point of being considered a hoarder at various points in life.

I can understand the emotional aspects that are involved in loving animals and the circumstances that may drive one to latch on to their pets rather than the people in their lives. While it's not necessarily healthy, it is understandable.

But keeping the hoard and understanding the emotional aspects is where my sympathies and understanding end.

Watching this show I am always disgusted and appalled at the filth the majority of these people live in! I have watched episodes where a couch was pulled from a wall to reveal several FEET worth of cat feces! I watched an episode tonight where most of a woman's floor was covered in feces. In the year or so we took care of those 37 cats I can honestly say I don't think I ever saw animal droppings anywhere in the house other than one of the dozens of litter boxes. There was a bathroom and a garage that was designated just for the cat boxes. There was definitely an unpleasant odor in and near those rooms, I think that is unavoidable under the circumstances, but it was CLEAN.

I am not the best house keeper by any stretch of the imagination, but even while currently training a young puppy you wont find a mess on my floors. Oh sure, they get made, but they also get picked up as they get made. If I didn't pick them up as they occurred I am sure it wouldn't take too long for my house or anybodies to resemble the ones I see on this show. The trick is to clean the messes as they're made!

What got to me tonight was while this one woman's house was gross with cat feces everywhere, considering the cats and nature of the show, you kind of expect to see that, but they showed the microwave she was heating up her dinner in, and it too was sickeningly disgusting! I don't think it had anything to do with the animals, it was just massive amounts of caked on yuck in and out of the microwave.

So, when I see things like this, I can't help but think the issues here go beyond hoarding animals. I have seen one episode where the couple featured had obscenely large amounts of animals yet had a house that was amazingly clean considering the nature of the show and the houses in previous and future episodes.

On similar hoarding shows that involve the hoarding of "things" or "stuff" versus animals there seems to be similar emotional issues that cause that sort of hoarding, but I've also noticed there too, that some of the hoarders houses are absolutely filthy, caked on food on the floors, counters, stove top, etc.. and in others their "hoard" is neatly stacked and piled and the house is relativity clean. I mean sure, there is lots of clutter but considering the amount of junk they hoard the house is reasonably clean.

So it seems hoarding animals or stuff doesn't necessarily make one a slob as well. I try and keep my house reasonably clean and certainly don't judge others by the cleanliness or lack there of of their houses, but for some reason it really bothers me that this show depicts hoarders, animal or other wise as slobs as well as hoarders. To me, it is two separate issues, not necessarily related to one another. I don't know if the causes are the same or if there are different reasons for each issue, I also don't know why this is bothering me this just is.

Large Family Logistics

I am just finishing up this book and I have to say I am really surprised at how much I LOVE it and how much I am learning from it!

See, having only five children and only three currently at home I don't really consider us a "large" family by any means. Also, being a mom for 24 years and homeschooling for fourteen I just didn't think there was a whole lot more I could learn that would really be helpful. Boy, was I wrong!

To be honest, I only ordered this book because it was half off at the time and I thought I'd look it over and gift it to one of my many friends who really do have a "large" family. I don't want to let it go now! I will certainly be happy to share it and lend it out though.

The tips in this book are great whether you have two children or twenty. Lots of great advice on everything from organizing your house, homeschool, home office to parenting tips and more!

One thing I appreciate is how the chapters are kept short and even those are broken up nicely that if you have to put it down you can easily get to a point where you can easily find where you left off. The chapters are short enough I can read a couple at a time between school subjects or chores.

While it is no longer half off, it is currently 20% off at VISION FORUM and worth every penny!

Doesn't Everyone?

We just love it when our son brings home fellow Sailors or Marines on his visits home. I know lots of these guys are far from home and haven't had a good home cooked meal for ages. Many just want to be around a family for a few days, even if it isn't their own. I feel like it's just one small way to say "thanks" to them for serving our country. I also hope deep down inside that when it is my son far away from home someone will return the favor and perhaps offer him a home cooked meal or a little hospitality.

This last fellow stayed with us a few days and like most of the Service Men we've had the pleasure of offering hospitality to he was very polite and thanked us at each meal. He did though at one point ask me, "Do you always cook all of your food from scratch?" I guess to him it seemed odd. I am not sure what he is used to, but to him it seemed quite odd that anyone still did things the "old fashioned" way.

Cooking from scratch is really all I've ever done. First in our early years of marriage it was out of necessity as that is all we could afford, after all it is much more less expensive than pre-packaged meals or take out. Now, even though we still do all we can to save money it is also just a matter of preference. I KNOW what is in the food I cook. I also know what's NOT in there, like tons of preservatives and chemicals I can't pronounce. Also, I get a certain enjoyment and pleasure from cooking my family's food.

Really, I always just thought I was in the majority in preparing my own food and those who bought pre-packaged items or ordered out a lot were in the minority. But, I am finding that is not the case. Even one of my husbands uncles recently asked if I ever got "tired" of cooking all of our food from scratch. Well, no, not really.

Even those who cook or prepare a lot of their own food use a lot of packaged items in doing so. I couldn't help but giggle once when shopping and I heard a young daughter ask her mom if she could get a certain salad dressing and her mom said, "No, we're going to make homemade," as she reached for the Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing mix. Don't get me wrong, I happen to love that stuff! But it's not quite "homemade" though it is a step in the right direction I suppose.

I realize that I am blessed that I can stay home and teach my children at home, clean my own home and prepare my family's meals. Not every woman has that luxury and I surely don't judge those who are unable to do the same. I just find it odd, that so many find it so weird that I not only do these things but ENJOY it. The younger generation I can understand, as there does seem to be less and less stay at home moms, but I am finding many even in the older generation who find this odd.

I think it's kind of sad that many have never had the pleasure of having homemade bread with their dinner or a home baked apple pie for dessert. I find it even more sad that so many seem to view a woman who still enjoys such pleasures as odd or even enslaved.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Because I Am A Mom!

This post is nothing more than a shameless bragging session on my son, so please forgive me, but I am just so proud of him I could burst!

He just recently made E3, which isn't too bad considering he went in an E1 less than nine months ago. But even more exciting, he just became certified to be a BLS Instructor. I think that is Basic Life Saving, but I am not sure. He gets to instruct and certify others who need to become certified.

I am just so happy that he is doing well and enjoying his new duty station. I am so happy that in this harsh economy when so many are without work, he has a steady job and income, and is encouraged to continue his education and already has earned enough college credits for a years worth of college, all while getting paid to do it! The military has been a good choice for him. Not always an easy choice for him or us, but a good one none the less.

My Favorite Planners, Now on Sale!!

I am SO excited! My favorite home school planner is now on sale! I have shared about this planner several times on here. Next Fall we will be starting our 15th year of schooling at home. In all those years I have tried more planners than I can even count. I never did find one that satisfied all my needs and tastes until I found this one.

Not only are they very useful, they are pretty too! Full of inspiring quotes and Bible verses, I really enjoy using this planner.

This year I am especially excited about a new product to their line; A multi-purpose planner on the go! I honestly was just thinking this week how much I wish they'd make such a planner, and they did! It's like they read my mind!

They also added new binder accessories, and updated their high school and student planners. I didn't think these products could get any better, yet they seem to improve every year.

The same company also publishes a lovely home school magazine, you may want to check it out while you visit the site.

If you order within the week not only will you get the special pre-release sale price, you will get FREE shipping, making these even more of a bargain than they already are. I HIGHLY recommend these if you are looking for a good planner, they have been my personal favorite for two years now, and I will be ordering for a third year tomorrow.

Check them out at WELL PLANNED DAY.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lady at the Store

This evening on my way home from guitar lessons with my boys I stopped at the local mini-mart to treat the kids to a soda. There was a lady in front of me buying minutes for her phone. I heard the clerk commenting how she was going through those minutes like crazy this evening. Then I heard the story from the lady....

Her son just graduated from the Air Force boot camp today in Texas and she was unable to be there. I could sense all of her emotions, having gone through many of them myself not so long ago. She was proud, sad, excited and more all at once. Mostly she was just so sad she couldn't be there on this very special day. Had my kids not been in the car and needing me here at home, I was SO tempted to stick her in my car and DRIVE her to her son!

I was blessed that my son had saved his last couple of paychecks from his civilian job and paid for me to come out to see him graduate. Otherwise, in our financial situation, I would not have been able to go myself.

So, while I could relate to all this woman has gone through these last long months with her son away, so far from home, probably for the first time and with so little contact I couldn't fully relate but could SO understand what she must be feeling tonite. Such a sense of pride yet so deeply sad she couldn't be there to share his special day that he has worked so hard for.

Boot camp was among the hardest things I have done thus far as a parent. There are several weeks with no contact what so ever. When the letters start coming in, there is some sense of relief but they too, have their ups and downs. One day your child may tell you the military is the best thing he/she has ever done, and the next letter tells how they think they made the biggest mistake of their lives! Then the anxiety as they prepare for academic and physical tests, as a failure in one can set them back or even get them discharged. Injuries during the vigorous training can do the same. There are just so many emotions moms, wives, girlfriends or other loved ones go through during this time. Words can't even give justice to the array or intensity of feelings.

I have yet to go through a deployment with my son, though I understand that will be in our future. Aside from that possibility/reality, I think the hardest thing a military family goes through is boot camp.

If you know a mom, wife, girlfriend or other close loved ones of a military hero in training, give them a hug, offer them a thanks for raising such a fine young man or women and support them in any way they may need, even if it's just moral support and a hug or shoulder to cry on.

I think most Americans support our military, but many don't think about those left at home who are supporting them and how hard it is. Many of these young men and women also have children who are without a mom or dad over the holidays and other important times of their lives. Remember and support them too.