Sunday, May 29, 2016


This weekend was our annual camping trip with other homeschoolers.  We had a really fun time, and although the weather was hotter than it has been other years, it still wasn't too bad.  It rained Friday night, but fortunately we were already all set up, and the pitter-patter of rain was nice to fall asleep to.  I think this year I slept the best I even have on this camping trip, and that was mainly due to me not nursing anyone.
We used the same tent set-up we had last year, but this year we took 2 minivans instead of dealing with the big van and the big black box thing that goes on the hitch.  It was so easy to load and unload, and we had plenty of room for all our stuff!
It was so nice that Nathan could be with us, both for last weekend at WSS, and also for this trip.  One thing he and Luke spent a great deal of time doing this weekend was making fires and cutting wood.  For some reason the forest service had felled a ton of trees in the campground, so there was plenty of wood around to be chopped.  Nathan had thought to borrow a maul from the L's, and that came in handy.  Bob brought his "sawz-all" from Harbor Freight, which also was very useful.  Since the site has electricity, we could plug in the charger and use it all weekend!
A few years ago Nathan had ordered this literal chain saw from amazon--it's a chain with 2 handles, and you store it in a little pouch.  Here Bob is demonstrating it, but usually Nathan and Luke each took a handle and sawed away.  It was really quite impressive, and they demonstrated to several of our fellow curious campers.
Nathan and Luke also got to show off their mad wood splitting skillz, thanks to all their years of staff at WSS.  We had a nice pile of split wood pieces by our fire, constantly being replenished.
Verity had the best time ever (when she wasn't tripping or tired, lol).  She wandered around to the various campsites and ate a ton of candy.  In fact, Nathanael Cr. remarked that Verity was being stuffed full of candy "like a slot machine".  (She did not complain!)

We went on our usual hike to the falls Saturday morning.  Four years ago, when we were coming back, I got distracted by a temper-tantruming Micah, and we went off on the wrong trail.  Well this time on our way to the falls, I was talking to several other ladies, and AGAIN we went off on the same wrong trail!  Although I actually have a pretty good sense of direction when driving, don't trust me when hiking.  The real problem seems to be that I look down at my feet and don't pay any attention to signs.  Anyhow we eventually made it to the falls, via the long way, but I had been carrying the backpack for Verity the whole time (without Verity in it, which must have looked odd to the people we met along the way).  Verity was with all the other kids in a group ahead of us, and she had to get passed around the whole time.  She got to ride the way back though, and Nathan and Luke were with me, so I did NOT make the wrong turn.
After all the excitement of the hike, plus having gotten up around 7:00, really wore Verity out.  She eventually took a really long nap in her pack-n-play, which was nice for everyone else.  I got to read more of my book, Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, which was funny and light--perfect reading for a relaxing camping trip, although I will say Bryson seemed a lot more curmudgeonly than I usually think of him.  Also more cussing.  

Micah and Drew once again loved the little construction toys,  They are so perfect for camping trips!  Verity enjoyed them too.  She got so dirty sitting on the ground playing that I had to change her shorts before we went on our hike!

Saturday night we had our second annual taco potluck dinner with 4 other families that we know a little better.  I made the taco meat using Amy's nacho meat recipe.  I used 6 pounds of hamburger, and a ton of cans of beans and diced tomatoes.  Everyone else brought all the toppings you can imagine, plus chips and tortillas.  It was all so delicious, and every bit of meat was eaten! 
Sunday morning we had our church service and then lunch.  After lunch the middle 6 kids went crawfish fishing in a creek with some of the other dads.  Bob walked Verity around the loop in her stroller so she would fall asleep because she was super crabby, and we had already taken down the tents.  Nathan, Luke, and I read and napped in our chairs, and Drew found this caterpillar.  He named it "Darby" for whatever random reason, and he played with that poor thing almost the entire time the other kids were gone.  I could hear him talking to it, and making up stories.  It was so cute!  Eventually we got worried that he would accidentally kill poor Darby, and how traumatic would that be for both of them, so we convinced him to leave Darby on a tree.  He continued to watch and talk to Darby until Darby made the great escape, and Drew couldn't see him anymore.  This was upsetting to Drew, but I think the rest of us were all cheering silently, "Run, Darby!  Flee!"

Each year there is a big "pie iron" dessert contest for our loop Sunday night at 7:00.  We stayed for it the past 2 years, but it just doesn't work all that well for us.  It's crowded, the kids are all starting to break down, and we get home really late while everyone still needs a bath, plus there's a ton of stuff to unload.  So this year we had our own pie iron dessert extravaganza Sunday afternoon after we got all the tents put away and everything else cleaned up.  I brought a ton of possible ingredients--raw sugar cookie dough and chocolate chip cookie dough, pie crusts (all those things were premade, which made it easy for me, lol), caramels balls, mint chocolate chips, oreos, marshmallow fluff, leftover Hershey's bars from s'mores, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, nutella, bananas . . . We had some pretty delicious entrees, and we all got to enjoy pieces of them!  That is really the nice thing about a big family--when other things don't really work, you can just do your own thing, and there are still enough people to make it fun!
Here Luke is posing with one of his creations, a pie crust filled with nutella and marshmallows, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top.
Faith and Bob used chocolate chip cookie dough for the outside, and they put a Hershey bar in the middle.  There were many other combinations, all of them delicious.  It was a fun way to spend the afternoon!  And it was a lot nicer to get home a little earlier.  It made unloading and giving baths a lot less stressful.

So this year's weekend was a ton better than last year's.  After we got home from the camping trip last year, we really didn't think we were going to come back.  We debated a long time about whether we should pay our deposit for this year, but we finally decided to go ahead and pay it, since we knew we would be able to find someone to take our place.  I went into the trip last year already feeling so depressed and defeated--it was at the end of the long and emotionally draining college admissions process for Nathan, with all Verity's nursing and weight gain difficulties on top of that.  We were also smack-dab in the middle of what turned out to be 3 months of unemployment for Bob.  We had just gotten through testing, and most people in the family being sick, and I so just wanted a weekend to get back on my feet.  Instead, we got blamed for getting everyone else in the loop sick, even people we never had any dealings with, and it was literally the final straw for me.  I was so emotionally done.  That was the lowest I've been in a long, long, time, and that was when we started thinking that it was time to move back to Ohio in the next few years.  It took me months to recover from last year, and I was not at all sure how this year would go.  Fortunately it was not at all like last year, and I really enjoyed visiting with everyone and just resting.  It's funny what the Lord uses to move in our hearts and prepare us for the future.

But for now, it's just time to go switch laundry around.  I"m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Notes For Next Year's Testing

Standardized testing was this past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I'm the testing coordinator for our elementary co-op, but it's open to the high school co-op associated with us, as well as really anyone else who hears about it and contacts me, lol.  This year we had 21 families totaling 37 kids.

Last year I found out that the Stanford test, which we had been using for years and years, was no longer going to be published or supported starting in June of 2016.  While we could have had one more year of Stanford, I chose to go ahead and make the switch to Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  We test so late, and I was afraid if there was any sort of hiccup, then we would be stuck.

Switching to ITBS did require a ton of extra work though.  We've always had 3 mornings of testing, with nice breaks in between sections.  The high schoolers finished in just 2 days, but everyone else took the full time.  With Iowa, however, there was really a big discrepancy in testing times.  The first and second graders were supposed to take about 4 hours 25 minutes (although the second graders ended up taking a lot longer), and the high schoolers had 4 hours 20 minutes.  But the 4th-6th graders took 5 hours, 26 minutes, and the poor 3rd graders took 6 hours, 11 minutes!  Those probably don't seem like vastly different times, but when you're trying to schedule all the grades so everyone ends around the same time each morning, it was just a challenge.  I ended up having the 3-8th graders only complete the core subtests on Monday and Tuesday, and then those whose parents wanted them to complete the extra subsections for the complete battery (science, social studies, and maps and diagrams, primarily)  came back on Wednesday.  We had 15 kids come back, so I'm glad I offered that option.  The 2nd graders didn't end up finishing the complete test on Monday and Tuesday, so 2 of them came back to take the extra subsections on Wednesday as well, even though that isn't how I had scheduled it.  But things happen, and especially with the younger grades, things can just take longer.  I'm glad it all worked out.

I ended up playing around with the schedule for a long time in April and early May.  When the big box o' tests showed up at my doorstep, I really wasn't ready to look at them, so I just ignored them.  They came right when I was leaving to pick Nathan up from Tech, so I definitely had other things on my mind!  Finally on the Tuesday night before testing, I got around to checking off the contents against my master list of who had signed up, to make sure I had enough tests for each grade.  My heart sank when I discovered there were only 2 second grade books, instead of 3, which is what we needed, and in fact was what the packing slip said was included.  I looked through all the books again, but the missing booklet was nowhere to be found.  I resolved to call BJU first thing in the morning, but I did not sleep well because I was so worried!

I called, and the lady was so nice, apologizing for their error and assuring me they would get a test booklet out to us right away.  She even thanked me for giving them more than one day's notice of the problem before we started testing!  So, feeling greatly relieved, I went back into the study and started on some other task.  I moved a big pile of papers around--and right there on the desk under the papers was the missing test booklet!  To say I was shocked was an understatement!  At that point I had a vague recollection of getting out a test booklet to look at the student information on the back so I could instruct the teachers on how they should fill it out (homeschoolers obviously don't have a school or district or whatever), but for me to a) leave the booklet out of the box, and b) completely forget about ever even doing that was so completely out of character for me, especially with such a high stress area like testing, where I am usually *VERY* careful with everything about it because I don't want to screw things up!  The only possible conclusion is that I am losing my mind, LOL.

As I stood there in the study, clutching the booklet, I was stumped as to what to do--if they had already sent off the extra booklet, they would be super mad (justifiably so) at spending money for rush shipping, but maybe they hadn't already sent it off?!  I stood there pondering . . . and then the phone rang!  It was not a number I recognized, but it turned out to be the BJU "solutions department" leaving a message.  I quickly found a phone and answered.  The lady said she had heard there was a problem with my order, and she just needed to get some more information so they could send off the missing booklet.  I was able to let her know that the missing booklet had been found, and that the real problem was that I was just a moron, lol.  She was very gracious and relieved to hear it was not a problem on their end, while I was mortified, but relieved that I didn't have to worry about not having one test booklet come Monday.  Whew!  That whole thing gave me some more gray hairs, for sure.

One other thing that was a little bit of a wrinkle was discovering in my big box that I only had one set of test administrator directions for all of 3-8th grades.  I had those kids divided into 4 different sections, so clearly that wasn't going to work.  With Stanford, BJU sent a set of directions for each grade, so ordering extra sets of directions wasn't even on my radar screen, since we never had more than 1 section of each grade.  I ended up making 3 photocopies of all the direction pages of the administrator book.  When we actually started testing, I realized I should have included copies of the table of contents, which would have made it much easier for my administrators to actually find the correct pages, since my schedule doesn't just go in order through the book.  (It is nice to break up the language and math sections.)  Ah well, next year . . .

The actual testing part went fairly smoothly.  There were a few small hiccups, like me scheduling 4-8th grades for "word analysis", not realizing that was one of the extra sections that only the 3rd graders too.  The 4th grade test administrator came out all puzzled, having searched the kids' answer sheets for a place to answer word analysis questions, and not finding any such section.  We couldn't find any section in their test booklets either, so it was a real conundrum until I got the bright idea to look at the master test administration page that showed me that "word analysis" for 3-8th graders had a little cross by it, signifying that only the 3rd graders had that section.  Oops!  And it took the 5th and 6th graders a lot longer to bubble in all their information than the 5 minutes I had allotted, so I'm mentioning that here in hopes that I'll remember to give more time for that next year.  Probably not, lol.

Anyhow, it's done, and the big box o' tests is on its way back to BJU as of yesterday evening.  I'm so glad to get that off my plate!

This is only my 5th year to be in charge, but I'm really tired of it!  Maybe next year it won't be so bad, since it won't be a new test.  I already don't like change, and I definitely don't like change that makes more work for me!  When I think that other TNT committee jobs are things like "answer questions for first-time moms in TNT", or "answer questions and show around prospective moms"--well, let's just say it makes me want to hand off testing!  But realistically no one would take it, I don't think.  The only reason I took it over from Leisa was because no one would take it 5 years ago.  I tested that year with newborn Micah sitting next to me that whole 3 days!  If people will let a mom who had her 8th baby just 6 weeks before take over testing, then I am not confidant anyone would jump to volunteer to take it over now!  It is easier now that I'm not having any more babies, that's for sure.  Again, maybe next year will be a piece of cake . .  we'll see!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Retreat Down Memory Lane

This weekend we headed up to White Sulphur Springs for our Bible study retreat.  Because there was a wedding up at the big new hotel, we got to stay at Harrison House.  This is where all my memories of summers spent at WSS took place, as well as memories from when we had a lot less kids, so it is a pretty special place!  I really love the comforts of the new hotel . . . but there is a lot to love about the old hotel!  They had just finished renovating all the bathrooms in Harrison House, so that was super nice.  We had such a grand time this weekend, and it was really lovely to have the place all to ourselves.  We didn't have to worry about kids disturbing people working, or anything like that.  It was great!
The weather was really quite dismal the whole weekend.  Thankfully Friday was nice, though.  As soon as we got unpacked Friday afternoon I told everyone I really wanted to get a picture of all the kids on the wagon.  Well, the wagon has seen better days, and the right rear wheel is actually not attached right now.  Instead the wagon is being held up by a block of wood, so we decided it would be better to not have *all* the kids on the wagon.  Since it rained off and on and was incredibly dreary the rest of the weekend, I was SO glad I insisted on getting pictures Friday afternoon!
One part of the deal we had for using the old hotel was that we provided our own meals, except for Saturday dinner, which they brought down for us from the big hotel.  The teenagers were amazing cooks for us.  They got up at 6:00 both mornings to make us breakfast--scrambled eggs and bacon Saturday morning, and pancakes and sausage Sunday morning.  Saturday for lunch we were supposed to have a picnic of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs up by the picnic pond, but even though it was not raining at that moment, the place was definitely drenched.  Instead, the teenage boys grilled everything and brought it back down so we could eat in the warmth and dryness of the dining room.  Amanda L was the "captain of the mess", and she ably organized everyone, and kept things in the kitchen running like clockwork!  We all brought a bunch of food--much more than we actually needed, lol.  If any sort of natural disaster had occurred, we would have been set for several more days at least!
It turned out that Saturday was not a bad day, even though it was so dreary and overcast, because it didn't actually rain all that much.  This meant we could walk around to different places, even though it was pretty chilly.  In the morning we had a session where we shared about relationships--with God, with our spouses, with others in the Body, with nonbelievers.  It was really thought-provoking, and a good time of sharing and prayer.

Bob and I took a nice walk after lunch (although our shoes got wet!), and the kids did a lot of bowling.  They all went rock-climbing in the afternoon too, even Micah and Drew!  And of course there was lots of just visiting on the porch.  John H. and I had been discussing why everyone really likes rocking on the porch of the old hotel, even though the new hotel has a perfectly lovely porch, with a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains.  I think it's because at the old hotel, you are down in the trees, which are restful in and of themselves, and you can hear the birds and the water from the creek across the street.  It really is so peaceful.
Saturday night after our catered dinner of baked ziti, we headed over to Fort Cochran for some fun.  The kids did some impromptu charades, we sang some songs, and then we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.  The fireplace was so deep, we could fit a bunch of kids actually *in* the fireplace!  We were glad to be warm and dry though!
After the s'mores, there was an unplanned "feats of strength" portion of the program.  Caleb was the first one who was able to pull himself up onto the loft, using just his arms, followed by Nathan.  Others tried, but it was really slippery and tricky.  Eventually people started helping the younger ones up, much to their delight, and then Geoff A. made it up, representing for all the parents.  It was quite the spectacle!  We pulled out the ladder to help get all the littles down, lol.
Verity spent her weekend wandering around, being picked up by anyone she came across.  This made her quite happy, for the most part, except when she was crabby because she had just had her shots on Thursday.  What a life she has, surrounded by especially young men who cater to her every whim!  Elena gifted her with a purple Care Bear that she won at Dennys, where the McC's ate dinner on Friday night.  Verity really took to it, carrying it around everywhere and sleeping with it.
Because it was so wet and rainy the whole weekend, Verity's hair really had some curl to it, including this adorable little curl behind her right ear.
Sunday we had a time of worship, and then a devotional by Geoff A.  He and his family are preparing to retire and take their final move.  In a very moving time, he washed the feet of all the men there, and talked about how they had influenced him and his family.  At our church, Pastor Mike has been going through John, and his sermon on Jesus washing the disciples' feet was just a few weeks ago, so that was fresh in my mind, and made it all the more meaningful.  We will really miss their family!
After pizza for lunch, we all packed up and loaded up in the pouring rain--but not before I got a line picture of the kids in front of the door of the Harrison House.  I love to compare these pictures over the years and see how the kids are growing.  Verity was on her absolute last legs here, and she was very glad to get into the van and go to sleep!  Luke drove the whole way home, in which we had to stop 2 times in a 2 1/2 hour drive for various people to go potty.  And Drew (who was one of the pottiers at the first stop) STILL had an accident in his car seat!  Too much lemonade this weekend or something . . .  The stops and the rain made the trip home seem much longer than usual.  No one wanted to come home because we have testing for the next 3 days, so that is definitely not something to look forward to!

I totally paid no attention to my paleo diet this weekend.  I ate pancakes, pizza, brownies, chips . . . all things I haven't eaten in 6 weeks!  I enjoyed it too!  I'm sure I gained back 5 pounds, lol.  I guess it's back on the wagon tomorrow.  I'm very thankful for a relaxing weekend with good friends who are like family!  What a blessing!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Finishing Up

I love this time of the year, when activities are winding down, and our calendar theoretically gets emptier.
All our co-ops are done now.  TNT finished the end of April, and we had our annual ice cream party at Rivendell this past Tuesday.  All the usual topping choices, plus several different ice cream choices made for happy, full, sticky kids, all of whom were also thrilled to be done with weekly assignments, although sad to not be seeing their friends on a weekly basis anymore!

The AP biology exam was actually Monday, so I was technically done last Tuesday.  Woo-hoo!  It was a wonderful feeling to wake up on Tuesday morning and know that all I had to do was memory work!  The boys felt confidant and prepared while taking it, so that's good.  I guess we'll see when the scores come out in July.  Such a long wait!
Although I'll continue to work with the younger kids through the summer, I am quite happy this school year is coming to a close.  It's been a more frustrating one than usual, due to Caleb and Jonathan's lack of diligence and well, caring, about school this year.  It turns out grades are not much of a motivator for them, and I really haven't figured out what IS motivating.  I'm hoping it's more of a puberty thing that will be outgrown (before it's too late?!), but I will say I now understand much better all those teen stereotypes you see around, like in the comic strip Zits or wherever, since we've been living it for this past year.
Nathan finished up his first year!  As soon as the ice cream party was over, I drove down to spend the night at the house of some friends who moved a little over a year ago.  Megan taught literature at Rivendell for a few years, and we have really missed their family!  They now have a little farm with goats, chickens, and even ducks.  (Did you know ducks eat ticks?  Having ducks keeps their yard tick-free for their kids!)  It was so great to catch up with them and hear all their tales of farm living.  Wednesday morning I drove the rest of the way through mist and pouring rain to Tech, but once I got there, the sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day for hauling stuff down 2 flights of stairs.  We got it all in the minivan, and drove back home, where everyone was anxiously waiting to see Nathan.  I was so glad we made it home in time for us to say goodbye to Luke, who was leaving one hour later with his mock trial team to fly to the national championships.  Crazy!

Nathan had a fantastic year.  He has really grown and matured.  He did so well academically, making the Commandant's list both semesters.  He also did really well in his physical training, as well as in his ROTC detachment, and he made good friends.  We're very happy that this is where the Lord led him--and we're also very happy to have him home with us for a few weeks!  He'll be working on staff at WSS this summer as the assistant boys staff supervisor.  Should be a fun summer for him!  In the meantime, he's been teaching Micah how to play checkers and chess--which has led to a resurgence of interest in those games among the other members of the household!
I've finally finished my whole30!  My last day was Thursday, although I kept on it Friday as well, until I ate some of a casserole for dinner.  It had rice and sour cream in it, and crackers on top of it, so that was grains and dairy introduced back all at once!  I didn't have too much though, and it didn't bother me at all, not that I was expecting it to.  I was *very* proud of myself for keeping on my diet while going down to get Nathan.  I again brought chicken strips and raw vegetables with a guacamole packet to eat for lunch, and nuts, grapes, and 2 oranges to snack on.  Today I had some M&Ms at a graduation party this afternoon, and Bob and I are planning on going on a dinner date to Cheesecake Factory, so that won't be compliant!  I lost a total of 12 pounds, so that's good, and at least 2 inches--but it's not enough to really make a difference.  People who haven't seen me for awhile still say, "Oh!  I didn't realize you were expecting again!" when they see me.  And why wouldn't they?!  I. look. pregnant!  The tummy inches haven't just melted away, so I'm afraid that means I'm pretty stuck with my pooch.  Now I guess I'll see if I can maintain my loss, and even possibly lose a bit more, by not eating after 7:00 PM, and following the paleo diet for at least breakfast and lunch.  Everything I've read says that those first 5 pounds of water weight I lost the first week will come right back as soon as I start eating carbs again.  That will be discouraging, but hopefully expecting it will take some of the sting away, lol.  

So now the last thing I have to get through is standardized testing, which I'm in charge of.  I'll be SO glad when that week is over!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day Whole30 Update

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy friends!  I had yet another day of not celebrating by eating anything special, lol.  Anna, Grace, and Faith made me breakfast in bed--my usual 2 fried eggs, sauteed red peppers, and a bowl of strawberries, blackberries, and grapes (well, that wasn't usual--I never go to the trouble of cutting up fruit in the morning!).  We did have a lovely day at church and just hanging out at home.  I didn't cook--we had enough leftovers, even of things I could eat, so that was a nice break.  The kids picked me a lovely bouquet of yellow flowers while we were watching Luke's rugby game on Saturday!  Don't be fooled--this is just one very small part of all the flowers I received from Faith, Micah, and Drew!  It definitely kept them occupied!

So now I'm on day 26--only 4 more days!  I've lost about 10 pounds, so that gets me back to where I was in August.  I'm not confidant that those pounds won't pile right back on as soon as I left a bite of carbs touch my lips though, and I really am getting tired of not being able to eat anything to celebrate.  I have lost some inches, but not where you might think.  I've had to start wearing my fitbit on a tighter setting!  You can all admire my thinner wrists, lol.  Unfortunately I have not noticed a huge tummy difference, although I didn't find a measuring tape until just a few days ago, so I don't really know for sure if I have lost any waist inches or not.  I still look pregnant though!

Also, surprisingly my cravings were much less the first 2 weeks I was on the diet.  The past 2 weeks, however, I have really had a bigger struggle in resisting them.  It was like they were crying out to me!  I think the difference is hormonal, and it was really shocking to see how much of my eating (and most likely, weight gain) the past few months must have been driven by monthly hormonal changes.  

Honestly, it's been a big shock to me to *have* monthly hormonal changes.  In May of 1995 I had surgery to remove my right first rib after all my blood clots, and a few weeks after that surgery, we PCS'd to Colorado.  That combination of stressors shut down my body, and I didn't have a cycle on my own for over a year.  Eventually I did, and I finally got pregnant with Nathan in October 1996, which was a huge answer to prayer.  That started almost 19 more years of gestating and nursing, such that I really didn't have too many cycles in a row ever.  So this past year has been the start of a new normal for me.  And it turns out it is one where I really, really want carbs when I'm premenstrual.  With all the stress of Latin and biology this year, my will power certainly hasn't been high, and really I don't think I thought at all about struggling to resist.  Now that I've done it for a month, I'm certainly a lot more aware of the struggle.  It was so funny to me how easy it was to resist the first half of the month, and how much harder it was the last half.  Really eye-opening!

I never got any "surge of energy" or anything like I've seen other people mention.  In fact, I really don't feel any different at all.  I don't seem to have any real issues for digesting food, even dairy, so taking all those things away hasn't seemed to make a difference, other than losing 10 pounds.  Going forward, I am planning on keeping my fried egg/vegetable breakfast, instead of bran flakes, milk, and a hard boiled egg, which has been my breakfast every morning for years.  I think I will try to stick with salads for lunch, or at least a paleo lunch.  Then I'll eat more normal dinners.  I've also been not eating anything after dinner, to make sure I have at least 12 hours, if not 14, between dinner and breakfast.  Everything I've been reading has pointed to at least that limited amount of fasting to be beneficial, if not a longer break, so I'll stick with that plan too.  Maybe that will be enough to at least keep off these 10 pounds, and then hopefully I can do another month of Whole30 this summer, and see if more weight comes off.  I don't see me being able to keep up with it during the school year, at least not the first semester.  It's always so busy and stressful.

I've also started using this Bowflex down in our basement 3 times a week.  Nathan encouraged me to do more with weights, so I started a few weeks ago.  It's actually a lot more fun than I expected.  I used to really enjoy the rowing machine when Bob and I would meet at the gym in the mornings before we got married, and so I like "rowing" on this thing.  Then I do about 20 minutes of various arm things.  I must say I haven't noticed any great improvement in arm toning either, but hopefully it's burning more calories.  Bob and I are still walking pretty much every night, and I do pilates 2-3 times a week as well.  But I've been doing that for awhile, and it never made any different before, lol.  

So we'll see what happens in 5 more days . . .  I can say I am really looking forward to a bowl of ice cream!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Happy Birthdays, Bob and Grace!

Grace turned 9 yesterday, and Bob celebrated his birthday today!
We started the celebration on Friday by bringing dessert to Bible study.  Grace picked a huge pan of cookie dough brownies, and we also made a fruit pizza (I guess that was for Bob, lol).  Let me tell you--it was really hard to stay on this crazy diet with all these treats around, and all the celebrating going on!  Grrr . . .I should have started in July, when we don't have any birthdays for awhile!  But I resisted temptation.
Grace had a special lunch of corn dogs Sunday after church, and then she opened presents in the afternoon.  She was thrilled to get a medieval American Girl dress for her doll and some darling earrings from Grandma and Grandpa, as well as a "decorate your own" jewelry box, a camping set for the dolls (from Walmart though--much less money!), and a bunch of the chewiest candy I could find to celebrate her getting her braces off!  She ate the turtles right away and thought they were delicious!

The girls painted and decorated the jewelry box this morning  We got no school done, unless you count "art", because after the box was painted, everyone just wanted to keep on painting on paper.  Micah and Drew were less than helpful with the actual box, but they had tons of fun painting interesting scenes on paper.  I'm just glad they're both past the "smear all the paints around until they're one big blackish blob and the paper tears" phase.  Anna was very proud of the "ROYGBIV" rainbow she painted, although technically she reversed the colors, putting red on the bottom, and violet on top.  I didn't tell her, though!  She forgot my carefully-planned lesson from co-op this year, lol.  I'll have to revisit that concept later . . .

Bob took off work today, which was another big reason school never happened.  We didn't really do anything super-special, since he also was unlucky enough to have his birthday on a Monday, like Anna, which of course is the day before Rivendell.  But he got to sleep in and spend time with us, so that was nice.  He and I did got on a quick date through a torrential downpour to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, where we bought a new "Red Copper" skillet.  Bob's brother-in-law is really happy with his, so we're hoping for similar results here.  Oh, and we got Bob a Fitbit of his own!  I figured I liked my own so much, and now he can keep track of all his steps too!  Now his big hike into and out of the Pentagon each day can count, right?!