12 Things New Homeschooling Moms Should Know…

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Hey, lady.

You.

Yes–YOU.

First time homeschooling?  I knew it.

How?  Well, you have that “deer-in-the-headlights-everything-is-so-overwhelming-what-in-the-world-should-I-do” look on your face.

“What am I going to do?  Will my kids be freaks?  There are so many things to learn!  What if I turn my kids into idiots?!”

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I know it well because I, too, went full-fledged Bambi my first year.

I need you to do a couple of things for me, okay?  I need you to go get yourself a cup of coffee.  Or tea.  Or water–whatever you need.

I need you to take five deep breaths.  I’ll wait.

[“…everybody was kung-fu fighting…”]

Back?  Good.

So, you’ve decided to homeschool–or maybe you had no other choice given the state of the public and “Catholic” schools in your area.

I’m here to give you some helpful tips and suggestions to make this new journey in your life as smooth as possible.

1.)  Let’s talk WHY you are homeschooling.

You need to figure out exactly why you are homeschooling.  Are the “Catholic” schools in your area a joke?  Are the public schools dangerous and taking kids on field trips to places you’d rather them not go?  Do you have a child with special needs?  Is you child’s life miserable IN school, and you’re just trying to let them grow up with a peaceful childhood?  Whatever the reason, you need to figure this out.  Write it down if you have to.  This will be the whole basis on how you choose your curriculum and how you live your homeschooling life from this point on.

2.)  Figure out what is going to work best for you.  Do you need all the books for the year shipped to you in a box with step-by-step lesson plans?  Ain’t no shame in that game, lady!  They’ve got “boxed curricula” all over the place.  Are you more of a squirrel who loves shiny things?  (*quickly raises hand here)  You might love planning your OWN lessons and gathering your OWN books for the year.  “Hey, you know what?  Sam loves insects.  We’re going to do an insect unit study this year.”  or “I’m not a huge fan of this book because of x, y, and z, so instead, we’re going to use THIS.”  There are pros and cons to a boxed curricula and designing your own.  Figure out what you need in your life.

3.)  Now that you have figured out WHY you are homeschooling and what kind of style you have, it’s time to figure out what materials you will use.  You will immediately find that there is an overwhelming amount of curricula out there.  Some families use secular homeschooling books (meaning they do not come from a religious point of view), some families use online “schools”, some use religious curricula, some actually “unschool” and let their kids pursue whatever interests they have until they are blue in the face.  I’m going to offer you some advice, if I may, when choosing your curriculum.

–If someone touts that their curriculum is the Way, the Truth, and the Life–it better be Jesus talking to you, sister.  You will find some VERY arrogant people out there in the homeschooling world, and if they claim their program is the ONLY program, that it’s far superior to anything out there, they mock or belittle other homeschooling publishers or families, that THIS is the only way to go–run.

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Run far, far away from that person.  That’s a red flag.  If their program is great, they shouldn’t be worried about putting down others.  Just my 3 cents.

–Choose a curriculum that appeals to YOU as a mom as well.  If you are a super visual person and love to be creative, do NOT pick a curriculum that deals in workbooks only.  You’re going to hate it, and your children will probably suffer because of it.  On the flip side of that, if you are VERY analytical and the thought of art projects has you curling up in the fetal position, figure out what you need to do.  Pick something that excites YOU and something YOU want to teach your children.  This kind of goes along with what I’m chattin’ about up in point #2.

–Having said that, keep in mind what kind of leaners you have around your table.  My oldest la-la-la-LOVES him some workbooks.  My second born would be happiest out in the backyard, collecting bugs, all the live long day.  It has worked well within our family to cater to their strengths–this IS a beauty about homeschooling after all!  If your child is excelling at reading, don’t keep them in 2nd grade reading level books because “he’s in 2nd grade.”  Let ’em fly, my friend!  If they’re not quite grasping the concept of counting money, hit “pause” on the lesson planning and work with them on it until they get it.  There is no time table like there is for public or private schooling–give your child the time he needs!

–The first piece of advice I ever received about homeschooling was from a mom who said, “Don’t…skip…around.  You’ll find that new materials are published every year–don’t give into the temptation to drop yours and run to the next best thing.”  I thought this was great advice–and there really is merit in what was said.  If you skip from one program to another program to another, your child might develop some gaps in their learning.  However, if the curriculum you are using starts teaching errors, it’s not vibing with your family, or your children are DRAGGING their feet to get to the table in the morning and burst into tears at the thought of school, you might find yourself hopping to something else.  Both have pros and cons–just think about what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish before you start racing toward the newest and shiniest trend in homeschooling.  (Have I jumped around?  Yes.  Yes, I have.  But we’ve found our groove, and we are WORKIN’ it in this house!)

–Get your homeschooling books used!  Oh…my…goodness.  How much money have I spent on materials when I could have been buying used?!  I even found workbooks this year–never been cracked open–for that older child of mine who LOVES them for LESS THAN HALF of what I would have paid brand new.  Shop used–save the difference.  True story.  Write that down.

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4.)  Do NOT compare your homeschooling style, successes, and failures to the Smith family down the road.  They do everything online?  Great.  Good for them.  The Jones family does a co-op three times a week?  Fabulous.  Good for them.  Little 6 year-old Johnny is already doing multiplication.  Bravo, Johnny.  Good for you.  The Miller family tried this curriculum and threw it out the window?  Good for them–hope they found something that worked for them.  DO NOT COMPARE THYSELF OR THY CHILDREN TO OTHER HOMESCHOOLING MOMS OR FAMILIES.  Pretty sure it was the 11th commandment, but Moses heard about the people worshipping the golden cow, and, well–he took off running with the tablets.  Seriously–focus on YOUR family, YOUR successes, and learn from the failures.  Call an audible if you have to if something’s not working.  Re-group.  Breathe.  Your kids are going to be FINE.

5.)  Join the HSLDA.  (What’s that?  You want to know what HSLDA stands for?  Get used to a LOT of acronyms, my funny homeschooling mom.)  It stands for Home School Legal Defense Association.  For a whopping $10 a month, this group will come to your aid and represent you should The Miller family down the road decided to call you in because your kid was out in the front yard at 9:30 in the morning, watering the garden.  When we first started homeschooling, I thought, “Eh…what are the chances, right?  We don’t have that kind of money to be spending on a ‘what if’ situation.”  And then I bought a huge bag of M&M’s, a skirt I didn’t need, and an expensive bottle of water while waiting to check out, and I realized, “Hey.  We’ve got some wiggle room here.”  HSLDA–do it.  You will be grateful should someone ever come tap-tap-tap on your door.

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6.)  There is going to come a time every year where you can’t even fathom cracking open the books. Some people claim February is “homeschool burnout month”–particularly if you live in a place where the sun rarely shines, and snow covers the ground.  For us, it’s November.  Holidays, birthdays, traveling–my brain is pretty much fried until the next year.  So, figure out if you need some time to regroup before coming back strong.  Relax–you’re going to be fine. Expect that month, meet it head on, and make a plan.

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7.)  There is going to be a point in your homeschooling life when someone asks your child, “What grade are you in?”  and you will feel sweat trickle down your back, your palms will drip, and your heart will race.  Your thoughts will consist of, “Does he know what grade he is in?!  OH, MY GOSH.  HOW DID I MISS TELLING HIM THIS?  Wait.  Do I even know what grade he’s in?!  He’s reading at a 5th grade level, doing 4th grade religion work, but he’s in 3rd grade math.  WHAT GRADE IS THIS?!”  And your child will say, “Um, 3rd grade,” and the person will nod, smile, pat them on the head, and move on.  You, however, will need a stiff drink and a plan for next time.  Bottoms up, friend.  Bottoms up.

8.)  You are going to acquire a LOT of homeschooling books throughout the years.  I highly suggest finding a patient husband and some really nice bookcases.

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9.)  One of the things my husband was concerned about before we started homeschooling was how much pressure it puts on Mom.  She has to school the kids, get laundry done, raise angelic children, keep the house clean–he felt it was way too much for the wife.

I love that guy–should I mention that?  I love that he UNDERSTANDS.

As a homeschooling family, you will find that it’s not just about shoving books at your child and checking lessons off of a page.  Homeschooling gives order to your family, and everyone realizes they are in this family together.  Teaching your 8 year-old to do laundry after teaching the 4 year-old how to separate the laundry into different categorical piles?  You’re not just teaching them book knowledge.  Your teaching them LIFE knowledge.  Everyone in the family has to pitch in and do their part for the house to run smoothly.  Have I figured this out completely?  NO.  Our home is a work in progress.

We’re ALWAYS learning around here.

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10.)  Be confident in your decisions.  This is YOUR family.  YOU are the parents, and YOU know what’s best for your child.  Who cares if your brother thinks you’re crazy?  Who cares what Grandpa says?  Who cares what Dave down the street thinks?  I’ll say it again:  THIS IS YOUR FAMILY.  THESE ARE YOUR CHILDREN.  You know what is best for them.  Do not let anyone else’s opinions impact how you’re trying to educate your children.

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11.)  Having said THAT, find a support group.  Seriously–join homeschooling groups on Facebook.  Find a circle of homeschooling friends–cling to them like velcro.  Get on homeschooling forums and chat ideas, frustrations, successes.  Find “your people.”  Find “your tribe.”  You are all in this together, and supporting each other makes a world of difference.

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12.)  Lastly?   Have fun. This should not be a chore–it should be a joy.  The first time I watched my child put sounds together to read a word on his own, I cried.  He wasn’t in a classroom with a stranger–he was with me, and I got to see him start on his path of literacy in person–the exact moment it happened.  The first time I watched my child sit down on the couch and make the connection that he could read on his own–it was a beautiful moment.  I’ll never forget that, either.  And it never gets old–I’m watching it with my 6 year-old and my 4 year-old right now, and it still brings tears to my eyes.  Go on nature walks, storm the local library, get them in the kitchen making lunches to work on fine motor skills and organizational skills–it’s not about school.  It’s about LIFE.  Have fun with this.

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Top 10 Gifts for the Hypothyroid Patient in Your Life

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While my thyroid levels are currently stable (HURRAH!), it’s been a journey getting here, and there are SO MANY PEOPLE out there suffering from thyroid issues.

They might be crying for no reason in the corner–at their child’s birthday party.

They might be wearing a Snuggie–at their teenager’s summer baseball game.

They might be knitting a Chewbacca costume–out of their own hair.

So, I started thinking.  What would be THE best gifts you could possibly give someone who suffers from Hypothyroidism?

1.)  The Snuggie.  I thought these were pretty dang ridiculous when I first saw them, but then when you start looking through the Hypothyroidism lens…?  GENIUS.  Feel warm all the time and still use your hands while not getting off the couch the entire day.

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2.)  Eyebrow pencils.  Because most of the time the last half of our eyebrows mysteriously vanish.  Let your Hypo loved one fill in some brows.

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But, just to be clear, the following ways of drawing in your eyebrows are NEVER acceptable:

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And don’t you DARE go trying to get all fancy on me:

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3.)  Electric foot warmers.

Seriously–this lady is laying on the surface of the sun, and her feet are STILL cold.  THAT’S how awful Hypothyroidism is.

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4.)  Tired of telling people WHY you have no energy?  WHY you’re crying?  WHY you can’t think clearly?  Stop telling people.  Just start pointing them in the right direction.

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5.)  Let’s be honest–Hypo patients have no idea what day it is or why they even woke up this morning.  Trying to remember a list of items or ANYTHING important went out the window long ago.  Give ’em a hand by letting them record their entire life so they don’t forget a thing.

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Appropriate examples include:

“Need to get milk, butter, eggs, and bread from the store.”

or

“Remember to call endocrinologist tomorrow to give him a piece of my mind because he’s an idiot who has NO IDEA what this is like and doesn’t seem to want to actually help me fix this problem.  Then remember to find a new endo.”

6.)  Weight gain is common among Hypo patients.  Give them the scale that will always make their day.

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7.)  Hypo patients are tired.  All…the…time.  Let me repeat:  they are tired.  NOT LAZY.  So, let them pass out when they need to and wherever they need to in style.

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Be patient.  She’ll come to in a few hours.

8.)  Hypo patients’ hair falls out.  A lot.  Huge clumps at a time.

Look at this woman.  Her hair is falling out so fast that she can’t even stand up straight anymore.

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It’s quite common for your brush to look like this after one swipe down your bangs:

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Expensive creams and shampoos are so yesterday.

Give them the gift that keeps on giving.  Head to your local Hobby Lobby, hit up the crafting aisle, and really encourage them to open up their own ETSY shop with that renewable resource they’ve got goin’ on.

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9.)  Motivation is lacking in a Hypo patient.  We would LOVE to exercise, but seriously–who has the energy for that?  Some days we can’t even get out of bed.  Give them the gift that will let them exercise without having to move any major muscle groups.

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Still can’t open the pickle jar, but they are well on their way.

10.)  I know what you’re thinking:

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“Who needs that much Kleenex?”

Hypo patients–that’s who.

This should last your Hypo loved one a full day or two when they’re having a “bad Hypo day.”

Let them sob into a fully supply.

And there you go.  Ten thoughtful gift ideas for the Hypothyroid patient in your life.

Raw rambling from a mother…

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“And God help Mom to be nicer to our family.”

Well, that’s gonna leave a mark.

Those were the words prayed by my 6 year-old last night at family prayers.

It comes on the heels of learning I have made life unpleasant for my family for the past several weeks.  (Which hurts even more than normal since I thought my energy levels were up, patience was up, etc.)

I don’t think I can adequately express the hurt going on in my heart right now.

Not even just my heart–my whole body seems to just hurt, and the words just keep echoing in my head.

No one said motherhood was going to be easy–I didn’t expect it to be.

What no one tells you, though, is how much it can hurt at times.

You’re trying your best to keep these small creatures alive.

You’re trying your best to get them to Heaven.

You’re trying your best to train them up to be responsible citizens in life.

You’re trying your best to keep a house clean while juggling homeschool and every other thing on the schedule.

You’re trying your best to do it with a happy heart and a chipper smile.

But sometimes you fail.

Sometimes you fail a lot.

And you’re not allowed to fail.

Because this isn’t just your job.

This is your life.

You don’t get 30 minutes in the car to yourself to unwind or quietly think while on the way to your job.  You don’t get 30 minutes in the car on the way home to reflect on your day and detox from what just happened throughout the day.  You don’t get to leave your co-workers behind for the evening to decompress before seeing them again the next day.

Motherhood isn’t a job.

It’s life.

And it’s a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week gig.

And included in that is sleep deprivation.

So, not only are you in this gig 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without those moments to decompress or unwind, you also get to do it while having no normal sleep schedule.

I have been up every 2-3 hours most nights for the past 6 months.

There is a reason they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture.

You’re irritable, you’re tired, and you would sell your soul for 5 minutes of uninterrupted sleep.

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So, add sleep deprivation into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some bad days.  Or weeks.  Or months.

Except you’re not allowed to have a bad day.  Or week.  Or month.

Because this isn’t a job.

It’s life.

And those little souls you’re trying to get to Heaven are looking at you for how to deal with those bad days.  Or weeks.  Or months.

No.  pressure.  there.

And I’m not trying to make excuses.  Really, I’m not.

We ALL have room for improvement and could change the way we talk to our loved ones.

But I am human.

Just not superhuman.

If you don’t think that we, as mothers, go to bed every night feeling like we have failed at life and are trying to formulate a new plan for the next day, then you’re wrong.

If you don’t think that we, as mothers, are already feeling guilty at how our kids are going to turn out because we have failed over and over again, then you’re wrong.

If you don’t think that we, as mothers, are constantly worrying that we are ruining our kids or somehow setting them up for failure, then you’re wrong.

Maybe there are some moms out there who really can run on little sleep and keep a smile on their face constantly.

Maybe there are moms out there who really can have a child screaming at them without losing their cool.

Maybe there are moms out there who can do it all.

But I just…can’t.

And I’m tired.

And my heart hurts because I can’t.

There are a lot of times that people will make comments when they see I made homemade playdough for the kids or put together a fun activity packet for them on a feast day.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

“You inspire me to do better with my own kids.”

“I need to be more like you.”

But you don’t.

You need to be more like you.

Because I’m apparently not doing so hot at this.

“And God help Mom to be nicer to our family.”

I prepare meals for you.

I educate you.

I hold you when you’re hurting.

But in this line of work, there is no reward for effort, is there?  Not any immediate reward here on Earth.

I’m reminded that when I’m doing the little things that no one else seems to notice or appreciate, God is watching.

He is seeing.

He is understanding.

He is also willing to hand over help in the form of grace if I should ask for it.

But I forget to ask for it…a lot.

Another check in the “failure” column.

I’m all about shattering records these days.

These are the days I think, “My kids would be better off in school.”

Or worse:  “My kids should have a different mother.  My husband should have a different wife.  One with patience.  And smiles.  Who makes life pleasant for everyone.”

But God gave me my family, and He gave them me.

We’re stuck in this together, like it or not.

“And God help Mom to be nicer to our family.”

Last night, I laid awake, trying to think of any saint to pray to for help.

“St. Monica…?  No.  You were pretty much awesome your whole life.”

“St. Anne…?  No–you probably didn’t lose your cool.”

“St. Rita?  Nah–you were pleasant while your husband was beating on you.”

“Ummmm….anyone up there a mother who just failed a lot but kept trying?  Anyone?  ‘Cause I’m down here and could use some help.  I’m hurting.  And I have no idea how to be because everytime I feel like I’m actually making progress and doing a good job, I’m quickly reminded that I’m not.  I’m sinking down here.  I could use some help.  So, if there’s any saint up there who tried and tried and kept sinking and sinking, I need some prayers.  I know there are worse things in life, but this is my life, and this is what’s happening.  Thanks.”

So, while my 6 year-old’s words made my heart break, they also left their imprint in big, bold letters on that same heart.

And all I can do is try harder today.

And try again–even harder–tomorrow.

Trim Healthy Mama Journal

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In order to begin my Trim Healthy Mama (THM) journey, I needed to write things down and be able to SEE what I was doing during my day.

So, the Trim Healthy Mama Journal was born!

This is a place for you to either plan out your day OR to track your day–complete with little circles to put “S, E, FP, etc.” for what type of fueling meal you have eaten.

I also love the place for notes/goals.  This is where I put down “Drink more water!” or “Exercised for 45 minutes today–do it again tomorrow!”

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Hope this helps some of you just starting out on your journey!

Download yours below and print!

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and if you’re all about getting this bound at Kinko’s into a serious journal, we need a cover, don’t we?

Behold…the cover:

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Or perhaps you are more visual and need to cross off those glasses of water you have hydrated yourself with–and need a place to write page #’s for recipes:

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And the cover, of course:

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Happy Trimming!

Bettering Myself…

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Motherhood.

It’s difficult to fit time in for anything other than cooking, cleaning, schooling, changing diapers, laundry, first aid–the list goes on and on.

But it’s a beautiful list.

A list we’re called to do.

Sometimes, though, our health takes a backseat.

After having our third child, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.  I didn’t really think it was that big of a diagnosis.

Sure, my thyroid didn’t work properly–it seemed almost common these days, right?

I had no idea the lows and highs that would come with Hypothyroidism, and while it was being tamed, I was an absolute mess, and my husband will probably be canonized one day because of it–along with all of my children.

With Hypothyroidism also comes weight gain–the icing on the cake, amen?

As someone who has struggled with body image since my freshman year (that’s what you get when ONE person says you’re fat!  I was a size 5, people!), weight gain means a severe mental game with how I look, what I wear, etc.

After a few more babies, I’m happy to report that my thyroid meds are at an all-time LOW, but the weight hasn’t budged.

Perhaps it’s because I was averaging one meal a day–maybe two–due to homeschooling, trying to keep up on the house, running after toddlers, etc.

Apparently that makes your already-low metabolism (thanks to Hypothyroidism!) tank even further, and your body hates you.

And to show how much it hates you, it just decides to roll around in the fat and la-la-la-love it.

And I then roll around in self-loathing–FUN!

I just haven’t liked myself.  As a person, as a mother, as a wife–just not thrilled with who I have become.

So, I was introduced to Trim Healthy Mama awhile back from a good friend and fellow homeschooling mom as we would sip on Goodgirl Moonshine at her house on playdates, but the “plan” seemed way too complicated for my life.

Because, um, I homeschool?  And I can’t figure in eating every 3 hours.  And I’m dealing with five kids here.  Ain’t nobody got time for that, you dig?

So, after getting on several Trim Healthy Mama facebook groups and just…stalking…and trying to figure out the crazy language these women spoke.

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The success stories were highly motivational.

My Hypothyroidism, however, is the most unmotivational thing ever.

So…nothing happened.

I tried checking the book out from the library a year later, but I couldn’t get it, so I just went ahead and nabbed it and dove in.

Because, hello, my name is Delena, and I’m a sanguine who jumps first and thinks later.

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Guess what I found out?

These mamas who wrote the book?  They’re homeschooling moms.  With way more kids than I have.  So, there went that excuse.

If they could manage to eat every three hours to rev up their metabolism while changing diapers, changing toddlers, and yelling out spelling words, I can do it.

ANYways, I started the plan on a Monday.  By Saturday, I tried on clothes that were…a size smaller.

Seriously.

But you want to know what I noticed first and foremost?

I’m…hot.  Like, hot a lot.  When you have Hypothyroidism, your body (and feet especially!) are constantly cold!  (Another cause for sainthood for my husband:  sleeping with quilts in the summer because his wife is FREEZING.)

Could that be my metabolism being jolted awake from a VERY long hibernation?  I don’t know, but I’m not complaining.

I have…energy.

I have endorphins that are flooding my brain, and I am…happy.  Dare I say…joyful?!

And…I’m so completely full from eating the foods on the “plan” that I don’t feel hungry at all.  It’s crazy.

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And that energy?  I have exercised nearly every day.  (I took Sunday off.)

Which was the WHOLE point of this extremely long-winded post:  my little exercise routine that I have been trying to implement.

It’s very simple, and wonderfully mortifying:

I dance.

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Yep, that’s it.

I have always loved dancing, did it in high school, and still love to bust a move with the kids in the middle of the kitchen pretty much every day.

So, I made a playlist, hit “play,” and the next thing I knew, I had danced for 45 minutes.  (The kids, meanwhile, were downstairs picking up toys in the basement, and the baby was napping).

And then I did a set of three planks, stretched, and downed a full glass of water.

And then I was ready to begin the rest of the day.

(Yes, I realize I’m starting sentences with “and,” and I don’t care).

So, here’s the playlist:  (Disclaimer:  it is possible there are slightly off-color words in here.  I honestly don’t know because when I listen to music, I rarely am thinking about the words–ask my husband, I have severe lyric issues.  I’m thinking about harmony and the rhythm.  So, proceed with caution if you are sensitive to things like that.  I also used Spotify, but you could use YouTube.  Please keep in mind I am not endorsing any of the music videos because I have no idea what’s in them.)

  • “This is gonna be the best day of my life” by All American Authors.  I danced around while unloading the dishwasher to warm up.
  • “Lips are Movin'” by Meaghan Trainor
  • “All About that Bass” by Meaghan Trainor
  • “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  • “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (yes, twice in a row because I AM happy, and I love the song!)
  • “I gotta feeling” by Black Eyed Peas
  • “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (yes, again–I love it)
  • “Pump It” by Black Eyed Peas
  • Random techno music.  When I was a freshman in college, I danced several hours a week with friends at clubs, and I was in pretty killer shape–like, size 3 shape.  My favorite was techno music because the beat seriously keeps you going for hours.  I turned this on today and just kept going until the 45 minute marker.
  • “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.  This is the cool down for me, and I also do the planks at this point.
  • “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith.  This is what I use to stretch.

So, that’s it.  That’s my plan.

In order to be a better mom and a better wife, I have to start by being a better me.

And there are other aspects to this, not just physical.  Reading Psalms, praying more, keeping a gratitude journal, focusing on more patience and perseverance, etc.

But this is a start.

And we all have to start somewhere.

On the Feast of St. Patrick…

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Well, it’s the Feast of St. Patrick today, and that is a VERY special feast day around here!

And now just because of our Czech, German, and French roots!

patrickpic

St. Patrick was originally born in England, and he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken as a slave to Ireland.  He lived as a slave in Ireland for six years before escaping and returning back to his home in England.  He would later have dreams of the people in Ireland, and he decided to return.  He became a Catholic priest, was ordained a bishop, and he spent the rest of his life preaching about Christ throughout Ireland.  He died on March 17th–which is why we celebrate him on this date!

If you’ve ever wondered why the shamrock is popular on St. Patrick’s day, I can tell you it has nothing to do with leprechauns or shakes at McDonald’s.  In his efforts to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity, it is said that St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain to the faithful.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost–all three separate, but all the same.  Make your head hurt?  Don’t worry–that’s why it’s a mystery.

Irish_clover

So, that’s a little bit about the man behind St. Patrick’s Day.

How do we celebrate in this house?

We will begin our morning by reading about this saint.  The kids will work on these Feast of St. Patrick packets I made a few years ago:

Feast of St. Patrick Packet FINAL

The packet is full of information on St. Patrick, coloring pages, recipes, and activities–like making your own holy card of St. Patrick!

We will also eat our Shamrock Sugar Cookies and talk about the Holy Trinity.

The kids will get to eat these with a little Irish Breakfast Tea.

TWIN IRISH BREAKFAST 20CT ENGLAND

In the afternoon, the younger kids will watch an animated movie about St. Patrick, and the older boys will watch:

st. patrick movie

While I know Irish Soda Bread is a traditional item to have on St. Patrick’s Day, our family just doesn’t much care for it.

What we DO enjoy, however, is making Irish Beef Stew that we have had every year on this feast day since our oldest was little.  The recipe can be found in the St. Patrick Activity packet above!

Irishstew

And last, but certainly not least, our oldest will be serving at High Mass that evening–which he is VERY excited about.

Happy Feast Day!

What do you and your family do for the Feast of St. Patrick?

Three weeks of lunches in just an hour…

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So, while I’m already avoiding dairy due to baby H’s allergy to it, I’m also avoiding grains.

Breakfast is easy:  eggs with bacon.

Dinners are easy–I can pretty much modify everything I make for the family.

Lunches, though?  Difficult.  With five kids underfoot who need to be fed first, I generally just end up skipping lunch because I don’t have the time to start cooking up a bunch of meat for myself.

Yesterday, though, in an effort to stay awake throughout the afternoon, I knew I needed to do something to keep myself busy.

So, I whipped up three weeks of lunches with two meals:  Jambalaya and Chicken Tortilla Soup.

slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup-large-50414

Here’s how it all went down:

Cook up 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water.

Find something else to do while those cook.

To make Jambalaya:

Slice up one package of Kielbasa.  Mix the kielbasa and three of the chicken breasts (shredded) in a large bowl.  Chop up a bell pepper (or just dice up some frozen bell peppers that come in the frozen foods aisle!) and a small onion (or just buy a package of diced onion in the frozen foods aisle!).  Throw that in the bowl and add in a can of diced petite tomatoes.  Season with creole seasoning to taste.  Stir it all around until full incorporated.  Divide up into sandwich size baggies and freeze.  On the day you fix it for lunch, just add your jambalaya mix to some chicken broth!  (If you can have grains, serve this over rice–oh, my!  SO good!)

To make Chicken Tortillas Soup:

Shred up the remaining three chicken breasts.  Throw into the same empty bowl you used for the Jambalaya mix.  Add in a bag of frozen “southwest blend” that has peppers, onions, beans, etc.  Mix all around.  Throw in a can of diced petite tomatoes.  Mix around.  Season with cumin to taste.  Mix around.  Divide up into sandwich size baggies and freeze.  On the day you fix it for lunch, just add your Chicken Tortilla mix to some chicken broth!  Serve with plantain chips instead of tortilla chips!

That’s it!  I then took all of the Jambalaya bags and put them in one large gallon freezer bag that was properly labeled, and I did the same for all the Chicken Tortilla mixes.

I can now pull out a single serving of mix for myself each morning to let thaw and just throw it in chicken broth at lunch time!

Enjoy!

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