Monday, September 15, 2014

My Babies Don't Sleep

6 1/2 month old Brielle is really not sleeping well. She's crawling, pulling herself up to standing while holding on to something, saying "dadadadada", but not sleeping. I don't know what my problem is, but my babies just never sleep well. Elianna was a horrible sleeper until she was probably 2 1/2 or 3 years old. Nathanael was a horrible sleeper until he turned a year old (when I quit nursing, he went from being up 3 or 4 times a night to sleeping 12 hours straight almost immediately). Brielle is up...oh...at least 5 times a night (as in 5 times within 8 hours). I put her to bed (or Craig puts her to bed) around 8 pm. She will sleep for approximately one hour and then at 9 pm, the crying fits start. I mean, she cries pretty much non-stop for 5 hours unless she's being snuggled or nursed if it's been awhile, although that doesn't even always help. My gut tells me that nursing-to-sleep/co-sleep thing that we were doing for awhile is a major part of the problem. My gut also tells me that she is having stomach-aches (as she can be very gassy), though I have not found the cause of that. Now, though, we try very hard to not do the nurse-to-sleep thing, but the sleep problem has not ended. She will sleep for 20 minutes up to an hour sporatically within those 5 hours. But from 9 pm until 2 or 3 a.m., it's pretty much impossible for me to sleep as it takes me at least 20 minutes to get to sleep and by that time her next crying fit has started. And no, I don't race in at the first cry, either. I have read every book out there to do with sleeping issues. I've tried cry-it-out, I've tried EASY, I've tried babywise, baby whisperer, pat and shush, gas drops, gripe water, giving a bottle. You name it...I've TRIED IT ALL!  Finally, at 2 or 3 am., she settles down a little bit and might sleep for 2-3 hours in a row if I'm very lucky. This stretch often happens with her sleeping not-so-soundly with me on the couch. This is the only way I've been able to get any sleep whatsoever.This happens Every.single.night. Her best night was probably when she was about 3 weeks old and slept for 4 hours in a row once or twice  No, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I'm barely surviving. I have a 2 year old and almost-5 year old to chase around all-day. Honestly, the last 6 months have been pretty brutal, and I am tired...bone-tired. My house is an absolute disaster.  I would do just about anything for 3 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep. Just.about.anything. Don't even talk to me about something crazy like 5, 6, or 7 hours in a row...

Our extended family has been a real blessing to us and has taken the older two kids for a few days here and there.They have baby-sat for me when I have had several appointments lately (I've had to go to the dentist 4 times, chiropractor 2 times, doctor once, and massage therapist once in the last month for myself along with dentist for my kids, immunizations, and doctor appointments for my kids).  My sister is amazing and comes and washes my dishes for me and helps me put the kids to bed. I can't imagine how I'd be coping without them! This, along with a pretty hefty dose of "life" stress that has been hounding us down lately, is the reason why this blog is on the back-burner. Very recently, I was flat out in bed for almost a week with an incredibly sore back. Driving down the road to go to the doctor had me pulled over with tears streaming down my face. The pain was similar to labour-pain. That's the only way I can describe it. I am SO thankful that I went to the chiropractor, who told me it was actually my pelvis that was out of place and he fixed my problem! I was a bit of a skeptic that the chiropractor does much good (don't hate me for that!), but now I'm on-board as he gave me almost immediate relief! I was shocked at the difference. It lasted 4 days and then went out again, but I went back and have been good now for another few days. Yes, I still have the "normal" back aches/muscle aches, but the excrutiating, debilitating pain that I was experiencing (I couldn't even sit at church) is gone. Praise the Lord! That was a big answer to prayer.

Any "spare" minute I have is used to either eat (which, like yesterday, meant scarfing down a few cheesies and an apple at 8 pm (I forgot to eat my own supper as I was feeding Brielle), shower (which doesn't happen as often as it probably should), or sleeping/veging-out. There is no time (and if there is ever "time", there is rarely the energy) for cleaning, exercise, hobbies, or the like. Play-dates, mom's groups, etc...at this point, I don't even have the energy for that. This is survival-mode at its finest (or worst). If you want to still be my friend after seeing me in this mess I'm in, physically and mentally, well, you are just too sweet. I know this post sounds far too whiny and complaining-like. I truly hesistated to even write it as I'd much prefer to write something edifying and encouraging. I really, really, really would like to say that thing are going "really well." But, truthfully, they aren't. I am not ungrateful for the many blessings I have and have found that focusing on those things helps keep my heart in the right place. Spiritually, I am doing "ok". God has seemed distant lately, but I know better than to depend on my feelings because by faith and through His Word I know He is near, cares for me, and loves me even though I don't always "feel" it. However, I feel like it's important for me to write this just so people can maybe understand why I have had to say "no" to so many things lately. All this stress and exhaustion is why we went to our parents' church in town yesterday instead of to our dear home-church (which is a drive out of town). It is not going to be this way forever. This is only a season. I am not depressed, though. I can find joy and laugh and smile during moments. I am just incredibly, insanely stressed-out and exhausted mentally and physically. I couldn't even remember my phone number when the chiropractor's clinic asked me.

On the homeschool front, we continue to focus on phonics and reading. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of not yet ordering our planned curriculum for this year and, instead, focusing on character training and reading/phonics. I found this Character First program here, which has enough free material to cover many character issues. We have plenty of kindergarten "workbooks" and a fantastic libary to supplement that. I have talked to lots of Christian homeschool veterans.You know what nearly all of them advise? Don't worry so much about the "curriculum" when they are so young and pushing curriculum. Focus on character, work ethic, Bible memorization, and read, read, read. I know our daughter picks up a lot from simply reading to her. We are pondering how to approach this all and figure out what works for us and where the Lord is leading. Both of us feel strongly the Lord pressing on our heart to invest more in building strong relationships with our kids and in biblical parenting/character training. Our most important task is to point our children to the cross and pray for their salvation, which does not come from homeschooling, following the right "curriculum" or even "character training" (though character is important) or Bible memorization but from the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Please don't get me wrong...we are not neglecting our children's education. We educate throughout the day in day-to-day life, are following a phonics program, and are just trying to figure out which way to go this year and what to "focus" on as she only just turned 5! She is young! Most kindergarten kids are going to school to learn the basics...how to follow the rules, respect authority, relate to others, communicate well, tie their shoes, act in an orderly fashion, follow routines, learn to share and play nicely, respect others, conflict resolution, how to cut, glue, colour nicely, create, draw, print, and basic phonics and math. We will cover all these and more...We are simply thinking of taking a less-traditional "curriculum" approach this year (or at least for the first half of the year) and focus more on character training and biblical principles.

There are plenty of professing Christians who know their Bible and know "good character traits" but are not truly saved. However, our job as Christian parents is to train up our children in the way they should go and teach them about the Lord and share and live out the gospel daily. Biblical principles and encouraging godly behaviour is important and plays a role in pointing our children to Jesus, but it will not save them! We cannot save our children...only the Lord can. (and because we will fail at godly character and producing the fruit of the Spirit without the Lord's help...this points us to the cross and shows that we are in utter dependence on Him as there is not one of us who is "good". It shows how desperately short we fall and how our only hope is that we can be forgiven our sins only through faith in Jesus and by His grace.)

Those are my scattered thoughts for today. Welcome to my sleep-deprived brain, which never seems to turn off...

 Coffee time...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kindergarten Homeschool Plans

What a busy, busy summer we have had. We have had a lot of stress in our life lately, and unfortunately we were unable to take full advantage of summer as I had hoped. Oh well, there's always next year...
Fall, however, is my absolute favourite time of year. September is probably my favourite month with its crisp, cool fall air.
Elianna starts kindergarten this year, and time just really crept in on me and I have not yet ordered the curriculum that I intend to follow this year. Despite this, we started "school" today, using her Pre-K book from Heart of Dakota, the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book, and a few workbooks I have around. Nathanael (2 1/2) had a great time doing "school', too. I am not too worried about it, and my main goal this year is character training (need to do a lot of work in this area with my oldest two) and to read, read, read, and have her reading.  We are about half-way through her phonics book, and though we took several few weeks off, she has not forgotten anything and read a short story today better than she has ever read before. I love listening to her read! I want to get into more of a routine, but for now, we are just playing catch up and fitting in school during the day whenever it works.

The Plan -

Piano Lessons
Music for Little Mozarts

School
We are going to be using Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory (this is an all-in-one curriculum/teacher's guide that is all planned out with additional activities. It is designed for an hour and a half of school a day and covers all subjects. All I have to do is follow the guide and order the material!). The following material is what I plan to use (ordered through Heart of Dakota).
*Math - Singapore Essential Math Kindergarten A & B
*Bible - Devotions for the Children's Hour & Daily Bible Reading (from curriculum)
*Phonics/Reading - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
                            - Bob Books (from library)
*Science - The World God Made
               - Canada Close Up Books (from library)
                - Various library books
*History - History for Little Pilgrims
              - History Stories for Children
              - Canada Close Up Books (from library)
*Printing - Handwriting K (kindergarten) ( A Reason for Handwriting)
*Fine Motor Skills - Rod & Staff's  Do It Carefully and Finding the Answers Workbooks
*Literature - Storytime Set
                 - Little House on the Prairie series
                 - Variety of Library Books

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama Update

I've been following the Trim Healthy Mama principles for a few weeks now and have lost 5 pounds with a LOT of cheating. Some of you may recall that I attempted this before I became pregnant with Nathanael but fell off the wagon rather quickly. I don't know what it is this time around, but it seems to be much more doable this time. Perhaps it's because THM has taken off in the "diet" world (though THM should be a lifestyle, not a diet) and is much more popular now than it used to be. This means there are tons of THM-friendly recipes out there on Pinterest, making meals much more doable and fun. My husband has NOT noticed a change at all in our meals. In all this time, there was only one meal that was not his favourite (it was a spinach and cheesy chicken casserole I found on pinterest. It wasn't my favourite, either!)

THM has been very doable for us this time because I have been cooking practically the exact same for our family with THM-friendly options for me. Here's an example of what this has looked like for our family:

Cheeseburger Pie (in Trim Healthy Mama recipe section) - My husband LOVES this recipe. It really is one of his new favourites. I serve this with mashed potatoes and a salad or veggies on the side. I skip the mashed potatoes.

Hamburgers on the Grill (S) - Everyone eats these as usual. I had mine in a crunch iceberg lettuce wrap to keep it THM friendly. I did not even miss the bun.

Steak on the Grill (S)- BBQ as usual. I serve potatoes with this usually and a salad. I just skip the potatoes to keep this in S territory.

Tacos (S or E) - I either make mine into an "S" salad and load it up with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, full fat sour cream, avocado, cheese, and all the veggies I want but leave out the chips (or only 3 or 4 chips added, if I want to go slightly off plan). Or, I can make this into an "E" meal by using chicken, beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, low-fat sour cream, and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.

Cocunt Curry Chicken (S or crossover) - This is one our family's all-time favourite meals. I usually serve it with brown rice on the side and broccoli or cauliflower. I will have either this over a small amount of brown rice for an S-helper meal, or up to 3/4 cup brown rice for a crossover. Crossovers are not off-plan - they are just combining healthy fats and healthy carbs and not as optimal for weight-loss, according to the book.

I ordered the Swanson natural whey protein powder a couple weeks ago. I really hesitated to do this as it's quite pricey for an item I don't usually buy (around 45 dollars for a HUGE container). However, this is one of the key things used on this plan (though the plan is workable without it), especially in the fuel-pull smoothies. I figured out that one big container should easily last me at least 3 months...and that's with using it every day, which I doubt I'll do. The health benefits of this stuff is pretty incredible, so I think it will be worth it to try it. I just used it to make my very first true-to-the-recipe Fat Stripping Frappe as part of my lunch (Egg roll in a bowl...super frugal, super quick to make, super tasty). I am SO THRILLED at how it turned out!!  I've tried making the Fat Stripping Frappe without the whey protein powder before, but the powder is what really makes this smoothie awesome, filling, and super fluffy. It's like a chocolate frosty/milkshake and does NOT taste at all like some some of the super nasty protein shakes I've sampled in the past. I was seriously so surprised. I actually think I could give this to my husband, and he would never guess what was in it....

Anyway, I will continue on with THM...I'm enjoying it so far, seeing some results, and it's much more doable now that I allow myself off-plan meals a few times a week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Menu Plan

Oh, what a day it's been so far. What. a. day. I'm pretty sure I've been completely stripped of any shred of dignity that ever remained after having 3 children.  Moving on. (okay, so this was technically yesterday. There was no way I was going to finish this menu plan yesterday with all the shenanigans going on around here.) Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning, and we are off to a much better start today:-)

Here's what we plan on eating this week:

In case you are wondering...Yes, I am still following the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle...except for on the weekends when it all goes out the window, it seems...Please don't tell the Trim Healthy Mama folks what I had to eat on Sunday, but it may or may not have included an iced capp and a sundae. "Was it worth it?," chimes in the Trim Healthy Mama folks. Umm...yeah, it was worth it! Sorry, but it's true. Gotta live a little! Can you tell which of the THM sisters I identify with the most?? That would be Pearl, most definitely. Microwaves are friends, not foes. Haha!

Monday: Crockpot Coconut Curry Chicken over Brown Rice (crossover)

Tuesday: Creamy Tomato Pasta (I'll have mine over broccoli slaw). (S)

Wednesday: Picnic Supper (sandwiches & salad)

Thursday: BBQ Hamburgers (S)

Friday: Pizza (crossover)

Saturday:BBQ Salmon (S)

Sunday: Leftovers

Breakfasts: The usual (toast, cereal, oatmeal, eggs)

Lunches: The usual (sandwiches & leftovers)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Here's the plan for this week with my THM modifications:

Suppers

Monday: Taco Salad (I will skip the chips - S)
Tuesday: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Veggies, Caesar Salad (I will skip the potatoes - S)
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Sweet & Sour Chicken over Rice (off plan - didn't get made last week)
Friday: Pizza (Using 5 Minute Artisan bread fermented 3 days to break down carbs - Crossover)
Saturday:Kommst Borscht (using leftover roast beef - I will skip potatoes in mine - S)
Sunday: Leftovers

Lunches

Flat Out Wraps with deli turkey, lettuce, mustard, mayo, cheese (technically off-plan as the Flat Out Wraps have slightly more carbs than allowed in store-bought bread...still, very close to being on plan S)

Ham & Cheese Sandwiches on regular bread for rest of the family
Leftovers

Breakfasts

The usual choice of regular toast, cereal, oatmeal, & fruit for the family

THM-Breakfast Options for Me
2 eggs fried in butter, Greek 0% yogurt with berries, sweetened with Truvia (S)
Volcano Mudslide Muffin (S)
2 Slices Low-Carb Sprouted Bread with Slim Belly Jelly, 0% Greek Yogurt  (E)
Oatmeal & Fruit (E)
THM Pancakes with either Slim Belly Jelly if E pancakes or Truvia-Sweetened Whipped Cream if making S pancakes

Snacks:
A whole lotta of the "Fat Stripping Frappes"...
Might attempt the secret agent brownies...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was a busy one. My menu got switched around quite a bit, and I ended up making quick things like Taco Salad instead of items on my menu. Many of the meals on this week's plan will look the same as the last few weeks since I haven't got around to making them yet and need to use up the ingredients I have for them!

My menu is mostly THM-friendly or can be easily adapted for the THM lifestyle. I have found that since starting to follow THM (I'm only following it about 60% of the time), the weight is starting to slowly come off again after being stalled for a couple of months, so I think I will continue what I'm doing and keep following THM principles the best I can, while allowing myself some off-plan meals once in awhile.

Monday: Cheesy Spinach Mushroom Chicken Bake (S), Brown Rice, Buttered Broccoli
               *I will either skip the rice to keep this "S" or only have 1/4 cup of rice for an "S helper" meal. Since I'm nursing, it's important that I eat enough carbs.*

Tuesday:  Tuscan Vegetable Soup and Sourdough Bread (E) / Leftovers for family

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers (S) & Buttered Vegetables & Salad

Thursday: BBQ Steak & Caesar Salad (S) (also put potatoes on grill for rest of the family)

Friday: Pizza on the Grill...using sourdough bread recipe and reduced fat cheese (E or crossover)

Saturday: Sweet & Sour Chicken & Rice (definitely off plan...I'll just watch portion control! This is one recipe I will not be sacrificing for THM as it's a family favourite!! )

Sunday: Leftovers


BREAKFASTS
Baked Oatmeal Revised (E) (THM - style) topped with fresh fruit *Made this on the weekend, and it was very good! I love baked oatmeal, and this tastes very, very close to my usual non-THM recipe, so I'm pretty happy to have found a recipe for Baked Oatmeal that works for THM*
Eggs fried in butter and topped with cheese (S) X 2
Volcano Mudslide Muffin topped with Greek Yogurt & Berries (S) (X 2)
Stovetop Oatmeal (E)
Toasted Sourdough Bread with Scrambled Egg whites, Greek Yogurt & Berries (E)

LUNCHES
THM-friendly leftovers for me all week

Kids/Hubby
Leftovers X 2
Sandwiches X 3
Pancakes X 1
Mac N' Cheese X 1

THM DESSERTS/SNACKS (so I don't feel too left out when hubby is snacking on delicious things in the evening!)
Skinny Chocolate (S)
Popcorn (E or crossover with butter)
Berry Cheesecake Crunch (S)
Vanilla Crumble (S)
Celery & Peanut Butter (S)
Skinny Frappe (frozen coffee cubes, cottage cheese, truvia, almond milk, cocoa, vanilla blended. Sounds gross, but it actually tastes pretty good. Cottage cheese just thickens it up and addds protein since I don't have whey protein powder yet)
Cottage Berry Whip (FP)

GOALS
Exercise 3 times
Baby/Books 1 hour
Photo Albums 1 hour

*Linking up to Menu Plan Monday hosted by orgjunkie.com*

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Menu Plan...A Little Late

Last week I did a modified version of Trim Healthy Mama. I am not 100% on plan, but I think this is what will work for me. The full-out THM way of eating is just not going to work for me. Been there. Done that. Major fail. However, I still think many of their principles work and are doable, so I'm willing to give some THM a try....but I'm going to be all rebellious and do it my own way. I wish I didn't have to even bother with THM, to be honest, but the weight this time was just not coming off with my usual counting calories & exercising. That always worked before, but this time, it did not seem to work very well. I got discouraged, stopped exercising, ate horribly, and it didn't even seem to make a difference (as in, I didn't seem to gain either). Weird. I was stuck at the same weight for 3 months, and if nothing changes...well, nothing changes. Thus, things must change. Profound, I know. And, I'm just not really loving wearing maternity clothes at 4 months postpartum. I'm far too stubborn and cheap to go out and buy new clothes, so I need to get this weight off, so I can fit into normal clothes again!  

Life has been overwhelming me in every way lately, and I've been feeling really, really s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d.  It seems as though I am truly working 24 hours a day with little to no rest (although that can't quite be true or I wouldn't be writing this! It HAS taken me 4 days just to write this, though. Little snippets, here and there :-). We hit the ground running around 7 a.m., and it's just go go go after that until I crash into bed at midnight (usually later) with a baby who enjoys an all night feast and sleeps very little. It's such a dichotomy that I can feel so fully blessed and incredibly stressed at the same time...
..."Such is life, Pip. Such is life."

I found Gwen's tips for busy mama's to stay on plan very helpful for planning on how to make this work without causing much extra work for me.

Monday:  Stuffed Peppers (S) (didn't get made last week), Tossed Salad with S dressing
Change of Plans....had a freezer spaghetti pie meal instead.

Tuesday: Steak on bbq (S) (didn't get made last week), Mashed Potatoes (I will skip these), Caesar Salad without the croutons to keep this (S)
Change of plans. Had leftovers.

WednesdayStuffed Peppers (S)

Thursday: Cheesy Spinach & Mushroom Chicken (S), Leftover Mashed Potatoes (I will skip these), Buttered Veggies (S), Broccoli Slaw Salad (S)

Friday:   Tuscan Vegetable Soup & Sourdough Bread (E), Cottage Berry Whip (E)

Saturday: Homemade Pizza on Gwen's sourdough bread (crossover but still on plan.)

Sunday: Leftovers

Breakfasts:
The kids and hubby will have their usual quick breakfasts (toast, fruit, eggs, cereal, oatmeal)
I will be having quick THM-friendly breakfasts.This was not an issue at all last week as I love eggs, cheese, omelets, cottage cheese, and 0% greek yogurt with berries sweetened with Truvia. All of these foods are on-plan, and I don't mind eating the same sort of things for breakfast every day.

I had a Volcano Mud Slide Muffin  topped with 0% yogurt sweetened with Truvia & berries for breakfast last week. This was surprisingly pretty good.  It only takes about 2 minutes to make, too, which is a pllus! I was really skeptical to make it as I had not had success with THM muffins last time I attempted them, but I have been having success with Truvia. It tastes so much better than plain stevia. I will definitely be adding this to my usual breakfasts.

Lunches:
*I plan to eat leftovers for lunch when possible since they are all THM-friendly or can be adapted to be THM-friendly*
*Lunches around here are quick. I add raw veggies & fruit to our simple and often not-so-healthy mains for the kids & hubs*

Grilled Cheese & Cream of Tomato Soup 
Hot Dogs
Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Crackers, Cheese, Pickles, Veggies, & Fruit
Pita Pizzas
Pizza Pockets
Pancakes (on Saturday... I will probably try THM-friendly pancakes for myself and make usual pancakes for the rest of the family)
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