Thursday, February 25, 2010

Goals, Helps, and the Olympics

Ok, so the Olympics are kicking my tail, and even though I'll miss them, I'm ready for them to end!  I've enjoyed them so much, which means I've stayed up way too late for the past two weeks to watch my favorites (Thank goodness for DVR's--it's the only way to go in my mind!  Watch what you want and fast forward through the rest!), and my 5:30 am alarm comes calling WAAAYY to early!!

The kids and I finished our Olympics unit study this morning.  That has been great fun, too, and has added to my enjoyment of the games.  We've all learned a lot, and I'm so glad I decided to take a break from our "regular" curriculum to do this.  However, I'm ready to get back to our old routine, and I think the kids are, too.  One note to self:  one month is too long for a unit study!  It was pretty much the way it needed to be in light of the topic, but in the future, I think a one-week unit study will be the perfect break from the usual routine.

As for my goals, things are rocking along pretty well.  To date, I've lost 10 pounds since Jan 1st, which I'm really pumped about!  (Need to lose weight?  Or just want to be healthier and live a more balanced life?  I highly recommend "First Place 4 Health" for the best Biblically-based, balanced, healthy-living program there is!  I love it!!)  Five more pounds to go before the end of March, and my weight loss goal will be met, and I'll be shopping for a new Easter dress!  My afghan is also nearing its goal of completion.  I have until Sunday to crochet 7 rows and add the fringe.  I can't wait to snuggle up for a long winter's nap with it!  I'm up to date with my Bible reading and Bible study, and my exercise goals are being met, too (probably the only reason I'm surviving this Olympics-induced sleep deprivation thing!), so I'm pleased. 

NOTE:  No, I don't have it all together.  You could draw a masterpiece in the dust on the coffee table, and the bathrooms are far from spotless.  But I've lived this life long enough to know I will probably NEVER have it ALL together--so I'll celebrate the victories that are there and keep working on the rest of it!

I wanted to share a new find with you.  I came across an ad for it in one of my recent Christian magazines.  And it is endorsed by Dave Ramsey.  Enough said.  Anyway, if you could use some help in the meal planning/grocery shopping area of your life, you might want to check out their program.  For only $5 per month, you have access to weekly meal plans based on your grocery store sales, provided with a complete aisle-by-aisle grocery shopping list.  There are regular meal plans for either a family (serves 4-6 people) or a regular meal plan for 2, and also specialty meal plans like low carb, low fat, points-system and vegetarian.  I decided to give the low-fat meal plan a try for a few months just to check it out and see if it would save me any more money than I already save by couponing.  Plus, having the menu already worked out without me having to spend an hour or more on it is a nice bonus.  I don't have one of their listed stores in my small town, so I use their "any store" menu and shopping list.  I just pull up the list every week and print it out, add the other things I need from the grocery store to the list they've already made for me, and I'm set!  I've used it for two weeks, and my family has been very pleased with all the menus thus far.  They're simple, use "regular" down-to-earth ingredients, and are nutritious, low-fat and good.  If you are interested, just click on the button below and see what you think.

SAVE TIME AND MONEY WITH E-MEALZ MEAL PLANS

I guess that's all for now.  If there's anything else I should be writing about, my sleep-deprived mind can't remember what it is.  So I'll be back once the Olympics are over and I've caught back up on my sleep!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What I'm Reading

I love, love, love books.  Reading has always been a favorite past-time of mine.  To think I went through a few years as a new mom with the belief that I did not have time to read is so sad to me now.  I know I would have been a better mommy had I taken a few minutes each day to read something I loved.

When a book strikes my fancy, I usually wait until I find it on a sale table somewhere before actually purchasing it.  Such was the case a few years ago.  A parenting book caught my eye that had been advertised in one of my Christian magazines, and not long afterwards, I actually found it on a bargain table for only a few dollars.  I bought it and brought it home--to my bookshelf.  Where it has been ever since.

I've tried a couple of times to read it, but have never made it through to the end.  I have no idea why.  I've just never finished it.

Over the past week or two, in various articles and stories I have read, this particular book has been quoted.  When something like that crosses my radar so many times in a short amount of time, I've learned I need to pay attention.  So I got it off the shelf yesterday and put it by "my spot" where I do all my quiet times and reading.

After lunch today, I got the kids settled into their rooms for "rest time" (that's what "nap time" morphed into when Hannah gave up her naps at a way too early age, which thus forced Benjamin to stop napping for fear of missing something important.  Mommy, however, still needs a little quiet time in the afternoons, so they still have to go to their rooms for one hour and play while I have some time to myself.) and snuggled up in "my spot" with this book and my notebook (I retain and learn so much more when I take notes on what I'm reading).

The book is "Grace-Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel.  Something I read on page two blew me away.  If I'm being blown away on page two, I figure this is the time for me to buckle down and finish this book.  I wish I had a speaker system connected to all my mom friends, especially those who struggle with being a mom, so I could share this with them:
"Raising children is the greatest thing you'll ever do.  It's greater than any milestone you can hit in your career.  It dwarfs any fame you may receive for your ideas or your inventions.  You've been handed a piece of history in advance--a gracious gift you send to a time you will not see--and you play the biggest role in how that history will ultimately be recorded."
And that was only on page TWO!

Rest time is over, chores are calling...but I can't wait until tomorrow to see what other gems of wisdom I'm able to glean from this book.  I'll let you know when I find them! 

(But before I start my chores, I'll be typing this quote to print out with some pretty little border around it to hang on my bathroom mirror...)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Change of Pace

After a few days of pondering, I decided yesterday that the kids and I would take a little detour from our usual lesson plans and do a unit study on the Olympics.  For those of you not familiar with a unit study, it has a main focal point (in this case, the Olympics) and every area of study is centered around that focal point.  So for the next month, all of our history, geography, handwriting, read-alouds and more will be about the Olympics (I think I'm still going to have to sneak in some Math for Benjamin to complete the lessons).

I'm so pumped!  It will be a great change of pace and add some excitement to this time of the year when reasons to take a break from school do not appear in abundance.  Besides, I pretty well have our noses to the grindstone because I'm pondering a change in next year's school schedule, and I need to have us finished with this year by the end of May in order for it to all work.

I had a hard time making the final decision to jump off and try this unit study.  For one, I've never done one before and wasn't sure what to expect.  Also, I'm VERY Type A and a perfectionist to boot, so structure and a plan is extremely high on my priority list.  Besides, if I do this unit study, what on earth do I do with the four weeks of lesson plans that we would have been doing otherwise?!?!?!  (my personality is exploding out of this paragraph!)

I was talking to God about this yesterday morning and asking Him to give me the guidance to know whether to do this or not (all the while wondering if He really cared whether we did an Olympics unit study or not).  As I was writing my prayer about this (yes, I am one of those that writes out my prayers in a journal...key word: FOCUS), God was answering me at the same time.  This is what he put on my heart:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3.5-6
(It just so happens that was the kids' memory verse just two weeks ago, so it was fresh on my mind...guess it wasn't just for the kids.) 

I know this decision wasn't rocket science, but as a homeschool mom, any decision regarding their education is not taken lightly.  And God showed me that He does in fact care about the little details of my day, even regarding a change of pace in our homeschool life.  Peace immediately flooded over me, and my mind went to work getting us ready to start this study.

Today, the kids made folders in which to keep all their Olympics-related work.  We talked about the start of the Olympic games in Greece (did you know the early Olympians wore nothing but maybe a layer of oil when they competed??), made drawings of the country and flag of Greece, looked at the temperature and weather conditions in Vancouver (43 degrees and light drizzle), talked about what it means to play fairly, read about an Olympic runner back in the 1920's and his good sportsmanship, and practiced our handwriting by writing Psalm 139.14 (I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful).

Our plans for future days and weeks include making a chart to keep track of the medal count, learning about different countries with athletes competing in the Olympics, talking about notable athletes of the past, and much MUCH more!  I think this will be a shot in the arm for us and will make watching the Olympics that much more exciting.  I'll try to do more posts on the things we are doing and learning as we attempt our first unit study!!

(In case you are interested, I got my unit study here.  No, I did not make it up myself!  I do have a life, you know!)