Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby Steps For Eating Healthy

I'm a health nut. A lot of people think I am crazy. But I have my reasons. I have so many friends and have read so many stories of people who have been relieved of big-time problems just by eating healthy. Problems like infertility, asthma, food allergies, autism, seasonal allergies, fibromyalgia, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and the list goes on and on. I just can't ignore it. What you eat affects how you live!

I wish I could, but I don't really have the time today to put together a post to convince you of the importance of good nutrition. I'm just hoping that you believe me. I mean, every mom wants her family to be healthier, right? But how to start? Who has the time to make everything from scratch? I try so hard, but I definitely don't.

When I began my real food journey after my first baby was born, I was totally overwhelmed with all the changes that I thought I "had" to make. I finally realized that I could only do one little change at a time. Once I got that one improvement down pat, I moved on to the next change I wanted to make. For instance, first I started making my own bread. The next year I started buying grain and ground it with with my cheap coffee bean grinder and the following year I finally bought a nice grain mill. So it took me about 3 years before I finally reached one of my initial goals. An easier and faster goal for me was to buy good quality milk from a local farmer because it didn't require as much time on my part. We just had to re-arrange our grocery budget so that we could afford it. That was a quick change that drastically improved my family's health. (Note: if you cut out processed foods from your grocery budget, you will find ample money left for better quality food!)

So just in case you are like I was, (wanting to change the way my family ate but not knowing where to start) I thought I'd give you some good links to help give you some direction. My biggest advice would be to start reading labels, and refuse to buy things that you cannot pronounce or items that contain high fructose corn syrup or soy. Avoiding those products will greatly improve your health. And then start on some of the worthy steps that these other bloggers mention. Good luck!

Nutritional Eating on a Budget -- Lindsay's "do-able" steps to real food
Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion
Good Foundational Eating Habits -- Good advice from Kitchen Stewardship
Rookie Tips from Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Cheeseslave's 15 tips for Beginners
Nourished Kitchen Tips for Newbies
Making It Practical -- from WAPF

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A closer look at our schooling decision...

My educational background is quite diverse: private school in kindergarten, public for 1st and 2nd grade, homeschooled in 3rd, public for 4-5th, homeschooled 6th, private in 7th, and public 8-12th grade. Whew! I know it sounds crazy, but I was actually excited about each change, enjoyed it, and excelled each year. I was Valedictorian of my public high school so I definitely do not think my various schooling methods bothered my education.  So I'm a firm believer that a child can do well in any school as long as the parents are highly involved. I totally respect my parents for being willing to do whatever they thought was best for me each year. I doubt I'll switch my girls around quite that much, but I do plan to re-evaluate each year and spend much time in prayer about the decision. I'm very much a fan of the classical-style education and I'm not sure I could do it justice as my girls grow older. Most likely I will home-school in the early years and send them to a private Classical Christian school for at least high school if we can afford it at that time. But we will just take it year by year...

We decided to homeschool this year for several reasons. Since I taught pre-school and loved it, I just can't see paying someone else to teach my daughter. I'm really excited about all the fun things I want to do with Karis! And we really don't have the money right now to pay for preschool. Also, she and Karlie are such great friends that I really hate to separate them right now. They entertain each other so well and I really think that Karlie would be much more of a handful without her big sister to play with. But the main reason I want to keep Karis home with me is so that I can spend more time with her. I want to have more time to cook with her, read more Bible stories, remind her how to peacefully resolve conflicts with her sister, sing with her, encourage her imagination, and so much more! I also think that kids should be kids and have lots of time to just play so I'm just not in any hurry to send her off to school.

Here are some of the things I plan to do with Karis in the fall:
-- Join a local homeschool co-op group that goes on field trips together each month
-- Join a MOPS group so that she will have more opportunity to play with kids her age and so that I can get to know some other Moms in the area
--Read most of the books from the Sonlight 4/5 curriculum (by checking them out at the library or buying them used)
-- Purchase the My Father's World Curriculum to use with her -- I love that it is classically based and is filled with fun, "hands on" activities that she will enjoy!
-- Continue using tracing, dot-to-dot, and other workbooks to develop her writing skills
-- Continue going throughThe Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teach Reading by Wise with Karis
For Kindergarten the following year, I will probably use Handwriting without Tears and Saxon Math (because I used it when I taught preschool and loved the repetition and all the fun manipulatives!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life with 3 littles...

Since my little baby is now about 2 1/2 months old, I thought I'd discuss how life has changed for us with 3littles under the age of four. I have definitely not figured it all out yet! It is difficult in many ways but absolutely wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I have to say that this little poem below perfectly describes the stage of life that I am now in:

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs; dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep!"

First of all, I really believe that 3 under 4 is way easier than 2 under 2. My big girls are able to entertain each other so well and they understand when I need to focus on the baby. They are also really big helpers and love to get things that I need and can clean up fairly well on their own. This is a big difference from when I had Karlie and Karis was only 20 months old.

The first month with the new baby was actually fairly easy. My big girls were enamored with Abbi and I had a lot of help from the grandparents and meals from my church family. The second month, however, was much more difficult. The girls began acting out more, obviously because we had slacked off in discipline for the first month and because they got quite spoiled from all the attention of the grandparents. We really had to buckle down and start again from square one. They almost had to completely re-learn obeying "all the way, right away, and with a happy heart." But we worked at it and things are much better now!

Honestly, the relational and emotional aspect of being a mother to three has been fairly easy and such a joy! I love each stage that all my children are in and relish the time we spend together. I'm not one to crave busyness and am quite happy to stay at home and spend time with my girls. So what has been the most difficult or frustrating part about this season? Simply getting things done! Everything seems to take so much longer with three little ones! I have so many fun things I want to do with my girls (art projects, cooking projects, playtime outside, reading, "school time," etc,) not to mention the housework that keeps piling up. And each day, when I look at my "to-do" list, I find that if I am lucky, I have only crossed off one item. Seriously. How is it that I can be at my house all day long and the only visual accomplishment I see is the 3 loads of laundry, cleaned, but still in piles, still waiting for me to find the time and energy to fold and put away? Just getting us dressed and ready for our day seems to take forever now.

So I just wanted to let you know that I don't have it all together. And I think that is ok. I'm still trying to keep an organized home for my family. But even if I fail some days, I try to remind myself that what really matters is my attitude and whether I am consistently portraying the love of Christ to my girls. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a mother to 3! But I have to watch myself and not allow myself to get frustrated with the girls for mylack of ability to get things done. When I finally have the bedroom clean but the girls quickly destroy it again while I am nursing Abbi in the other room, do I fuss at them in exasperation or do I pray for patience and calmly instruct them how to clean it up? When Abbi is *supposed* (as if an infant is *supposed* to be doing anything!) to be napping while I am trying to fix dinner, but wakes up every 5 minutes because she is burping, do I take joy in the chance to snuggle with her for another minute or do I grow frustrated that dinner won't be ready on time? I really do treasure this precious time, but sometimes I have to remind myself to just enjoy it and not get upset that my house is a mess. My girls are such a blessing from the Lord and this season of life will pass all too quickly for me to worry about such things