Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Laundry and Kids: Choose Your Battles Wisely

With three boys ages 12, 7,  and almost 5, laundry can get to be quite a daunting task.  If I let it.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't have all the answers when it comes to taming the laundry beast.  For instance, what do I do when I find a bunch of clothes in the dirty laudnry that I KNOW haven't been worn?  It could be they weren't put away properly, but it could also be that they were dug out, tried on, and discarded for the next experiment.  But, I digress.  It's a battle that, for the moment, I choose not to fight.

Another battle that I choose not to fight is whether or not the laundry even MAKES it to the laundry room.  I used to be a total nag about this, until one day I learned the sweet relief of just saying, "Tough!"  Ironically, my younger two, who share a room, are pretty good about getting their dirty clothes to the laundry room on a daily basis during their morning chore time.  They both have favorite PJ's and clothes they like to dress up in to play super heroes or Indiana Jones.  So, they're pretty good at keeping each other accountable for their dirty laundry.  They are to take turns bringing their shared basket to the laundry room each morning.  My oldest, however, used to be really bad about bringing his dirty laundry to the laundry room.  He's definitely learned his lesson, though.  I told them all one day that I wasn't going to remind them to bring their laundry to the laundry room anymore.  And I didn't!  I also told them that if they wanted something washed after I was done with laundry for that day, tough!  They would have to just wait until I did laundry the next day.  I usually do at least one load of darks every day, while it takes 2-3 days to get enough whites for a load.  My oldest still doesn't bring his laundry to the laundry room daily, but he has quickly learned to bring it there before he runs out of stuff to wear!  Of course, he is also welcome to do his own laundry.  ;-)  He does know how, and I do have him do it sometimes.  But laundry is actually something I have learned to enjoy, and you're about to find out why.  :-)

Here's how laundry works in our home.  Everyone, of course, is responsible for getting their own laundry to the baskets in the laundry room.  Everyone knows how to separate the whites from the darks.  I have two baskets in my laundry room.  In one goes all the darks and all the bath towels and wash cloths.  In the other goes all the whites and dish towels and dish cloths.

I start the process.  The first load of the day is always the darks, since that's what we have most of.  I will start the washer and load dark clothes in, leaving the towels and wash cloths for another load.  When that load is done, I will call any one of the three boys to reboot it to the dryer.  All three know how to do this, from emptying the lint trap to putting the dryer sheet in to getting the dryer started.  Usually the younger two do it together, but that's usually because whichever one I called was interrupted from playing with the other one, so they try to get it done as quickly as possible.  LOL!  After that's done, I'll start the next load in the washer if another load is needing to be washed.  Then, one of the boys will unload things from the dryer onto my bed and do another reboot if needed.

And now we get to another choice to make in picking battles.  First, I'll tell you what I used to do.  I used to give my oldest his clothes to fold and put away.  Then, I used to fold both of the younger boys' clothes into separate piles and had them put them away.  Then, I used to get frustrated as they dug through their dressers and messed up all those nicely folded clothes.  Then, I taught them how to fold their own clothes and got frustrated with their own frustration, and how long it took, and how their folded clothes never quite looked like folded clothes.  You see the struggle?  No more!  I chose to make this a non-battle.

What do I now do with that pile of clothes laying on my bed from the dryer?  I separate my husband's and my own clothes and put them away.  Everyone else's gets thrown over to the floor by my doorway into one pile.  Then, I call for everyone to come get their clothes.  They come sort out which is whose and they know they have to get them put away right away.  The oldest folds his.  Sometimes the younger boys make a sloppy attempt at folding them, but more often than not, they stuff them into their dressers.  And I am seriously okay with that.  Because now, when they dig around for that cape (or whatever), I'm not stressing out about how they're undoing the work that I did.  The clothes are clean, they're at least put away in appropriate drawers (socks in one, shirts in another, etc.) and they're doing it on their own.  Having clothes folded neatly is simply a battle I choose not to fight.  Just like their big brother, one day they will "get it," and will appreciate how much easier it will make their life to keep their clothes neat, and will be able to do it just as easily as the rest of us.  Until then, at least in our home, pushing the issue into a battle is a completely unnecessary stress.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I am working on going through some of the MANY pins I have in my "Recipes to Try" board on Pinterest, especially a post on crock pot meals.  So, this week's menus will reflect that.  We will also be getting ready to go on our first camping trip of the season this coming weekend, so Friday and Saturday won't be included, as we have not planned those out yet.  Those days will most likely consist of hotdogs or hamburgers, or something similar.  ;-)

Monday:  Santa Fe Chicken
Tuesday:  Pepsi Pot Roast-this is "our" pot roast now, it is absolutely delicious!  It is a repeat from a couple of weeks ago, because the roast packs we get from Costco come with two roasts.
Wednesday:  Easy Shepherd's Pie-Not a crock pot meal, but the pot roast makes a TON of gravy.  I'll make extra mashed potatoes with it, too, and we'll use those two leftovers from Tuesday to make this super easy and yummy Shepherd's Pie!
Thursday:  Leftovers, to get the fridge cleaned out before we leave on Friday.

There you have it!  I hope all you moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday.  Now, back to business!  ;-)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekend Links: Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you lovely, brave mammas out there!  You are truly heroes.  Today, I'm sharing some links that I pray will bless you this weekend.

When Mother's Day Hurts Just a Bit by Rachel at Finding Joy
When There is No Joy to be Found in Motherhood by Bambi at In the Nursery of the Nation
Rise Up and Build by Jasmine at Far Above Rubies
Why Mother's Day is For the Birds by Ann at A Holy Experience

Mother's Day Video: Mighty

One Mom Heart to Another by Sally Clarkson


Friday, May 10, 2013

Readjustment and Light School Days

This week has been a period of transition and readjustment for our family, as my husband temporarily goes back to working afternoons/evenings instead of days.  He's had a chaotic schedule this week, so we've had a little less time of school at the table, and a little more time than usual of life school.  There are still days that I struggle with feeling like we're behind.  Days that I need to remind myself that worrying about those things defeats the purpose of our decision to homeschool.  The only schedule we really have to worry about is God's.  ;-)

It seems that Spring has finally sprung here in Minnesota, and I think it might be finally safe to say we won't have to worry about snow anytime soon.  But, please don't fling any tomatoes my way if it turns out I'm wrong.  This IS Minnesota, after all, and I think I will give it another week before putting the winter gear away for the season!

I did want to share a resource I learned about from a fellow blogger.  These videos from Summit Curriculum are excellent.  They are aimed at the middle school level, but I also think they would be very good for for those at the high school level as well.  I'm even enjoying them as an adult!  Per Angel's suggestion, the first one I watched was "Guard Your Heart."  It is excellent, and I highly recommend it.  On one of the hectic days this week, I watched it with my oldest and we discussed it.  That was our school for the day!  I have also watched "Six Great Questions," "Dear Uncle," "The Case for Abortion," and "Marriage and Family."  All excellent, and I'm looking forward to when I can carve out some time to watch some more.  :-)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thy Word

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

Blessed art Thou, O LORD: teach me Thy statutes.

With my lips have I declared all the judgments of Thy mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

I will meditate in Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways.

I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word.

~Psalms 119:9-16

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My MS Journey: Part 1-First Symptoms to Diagnosis

Hindsight is a funny thing.  I distinctly remember the first time I was aware that I may have multiple sclerosis (MS), but looking back, I see things that tell me I had it before that.  Then there is the question of, Did I have what's known as Walking MS (a form of MS where there are no symptoms) before that?  That question I cannot answer.  Nor is it something that I worry myself over.

I can tell you that I'm pretty sure I had it while I was pregnant with my middle son in 2005.  I had an epidural while I was in labor with him in December of that year.  Which, just like with my first-born, didn't work very well.  A week later, I noticed the numbness in my left big toe was still there.  Eventually, I just "got used to it" and ignored it, but it was always there.  I think I mentioned it in passing once in a rare while to my husband.  Also, as with my oldest, I had the postpartum blues.  The depression went away after a couple of months, but the mood swings stayed.  I became extremely irritable at the littlest things, and I took it very personally when my oldest was disobedient.  I became a full-fledged yeller.  It didn't take much to set me off.  While I didn't like it and knew it wasn't who I really was, I chalked it up to hormones and being a mom, especially a mom of two now.

Fast forward to August 2006.  I contracted a summer cold that lasted about three weeks.  While I was still recovering, I felt a tightness in the skin on my forehead, almost like I was sunburned, even though I wasn't.  Then, I realized I was only feeling this way on the left side of my forehead, and even my face.  The next day, this feeling spread throughout the entire left side of my body.  It was then that I realized the feeling I was having was that numb, tingly feeling you get when, say, your foot falls asleep.  Only, this was everywhere on my left side.  My husband, worried I was having a stroke, took me into the doctor.  After listening to what was going on, the doctor had me take a glucose test.  I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant the previous year.  Since I hadn't yet went in for a test after giving birth, she checked my blood sugar, and it tested fine.  She noticed I was still stuffy from my cold and asked about that.  That's when it clicked for her.  She said that sometimes a viral infection will cause numbness.  Since I was sick for so long, we concluded I must have had a sinus infection.  As we were concluding the visit, the doctor said, "Now, I don't want you to freak out, but if you look up numbness and tingling online with your age and gender, you will get a ton of results for multiple sclerosis.  I just have to tell you that because there is a vague possibility that this could come from that.  Right now, though, it's much more likely it's from being sick."  Now, before you knock that doctor for not testing more, there was no way I would have been diagnosed at that time anyway.  With just the numbness and tingling for a couple of days, coming off of a likely sinus infection, it wasn't even enough for them to order an MRI at that point.  In order to diagnose MS, among other things you need to have more than one episode happen.  We left the doctor that day, the numbness started going away within a week, and in two weeks, was gone completely.  Except for that left big toe.

And then, we come to November 2006.  My oldest was 5 and my then youngest was just a month shy of turning a year old.  Nick was getting ready for deer camp.  He was very excited, because this was the first time he would be up there for a whole week instead of just the opener weekend.  As usual, it was a teary good-bye for me (it still is, by the way...I'm definitely not one of those wives who is excited for their hubby to leave).  But, everyone was healthy, and we had everything we needed to get by for the week.  I had things planned to keep us busy, and was looking forward to "mommy and me" traditions I had started with my oldest, and now carrying on to the next as well.

My husband was barely gone a day, when the numbness started coming back, on the left side of my body again.  I hadn't been sick at all recently.  Within twenty-four hours of noticing the numbness, the entire left side of my body was numb, and the right side of my body was very weak (including drop-foot with the right foot).  For lack of wanting to go into details about other things that were affected, let's just say it's unfortunate that we did not have a bathroom on the main level of the house.  My coordination when I was trying to type became horrific, and I became so weak in general that I couldn't even lift my eleven-month-old son out of the playpen that I had put him in for his nap a few hours before.

I was in tears within minutes of starting my Google search.  I tried to find other, "easier" answers, but I knew deep down that I was having an MS attack.  I called my husband in tears, telling him what was going on.  He wanted to head home that night (it was evening when I called him), but thankfully, his friends talked him into getting some rest and heading out first thing in the morning.  That night, I had to hold my baby in my lap and scoot backwards up the stairs on my behind to get him to bed, as I was so scared I would fall with him.  I put his crib rail down and my five-year-old assisted me in getting him in there.  After making sure everything was set and secure for the night, I didn't even have time to cry as I fell almost immediately into an exhausted sleep.

When Nick got home the next day, we got someone to watch the kids and he took me to the emergency room.  There, they did a CAT scan as well as some nerve and sensory tests.  The scan showed nothing, but the nerve tests (along with all my symptoms) concerned the doctor.  They scheduled me for an MRI in two days, and then for an appointment for a neurologist for when the MRI results came back.  Within a week, we were sitting at the doctor's office, with the neurologist explaining the MRI films to us.  There were three lesions on my brain.  On the outside, I remember being very matter-of-fact, but on the inside, I was an emotional basket case.  She explained that MS was a possibility, but that they would have to do other tests, including a lumbar puncture, to rule out other less likely possibilities.  They did blood work that day and scheduled the dreaded lumbar puncture at the hospital for, I believe, later that week.

The lumbar puncture was by no means fun, but when it was all said and done, it wasn't really that bad.  They made me lie around in a hospital bed half the morning waiting for my spine to "relax" enough.  HA!  The anticipation that came with that waiting was actually a lot more stressful than the procedure itself.  Just don't ever quote me as saying I would be happy to do it again, okay?

Needless to say, I got a call within a week that the lumbar puncture confirmed what the other tests indicated.  That I did, in fact have MS.  In fact, I had and still have Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS), which means that I have flare-ups of symptoms that for the most part, go into remission, then flare-up again because of any number of factors.  In the two months from that November flare-up until I could get on an MS-modifying medication (and including the time it seemed to take to kick in), I was having a flare-up (also called an exacerbation) every other week.  They'd give me steroids, I would get better, then the next week, it would start up again.  It was definitely a time of emotional ups-and-downs, too, and not knowing where this was going to go.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!  Another day soon, I will post part 2 of this journey, what happened after the diagnosis.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Politics and Christianity

Ever since Jesus started his ministry two thousand years ago, lines have been drawn between His followers and those who wish to silence them.  Stephen was stoned (Acts 7), Peter and John were arrested and told not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4), Saul (before his conversion, and becoming known as Paul) arrested many followers (Acts 8:3), and many of Paul's writings are sprinkled with accounts of the persecution he and his fellow evangelists suffered for spreading the gospel of Christ.

Today is no different.  It's really no secret that Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith.  We've been pretty blessed here in America, and I know there are many Christians here that realize how good they've had it compared to our brothers and sisters in other countries.  However, it is clear that our freedoms, even in the area of our faith, are being eroded away.  Those who preach tolerance want everyone to tolerate everything.  Oh, except for Christianity.  We must be careful not to link one faith to its followers that have committed acts of terrorism in our country and others, yet, feel free to fling insults at the Christians and call them names.  Feel free to tell them their faith is unacceptable.  Feel free to shame them into being quiet about that gospel.  Feel free to make it so that it's against the rules to make any gesture that may look like they're publicly thanking God.  Then?  Tell them they need to tolerate ALL views.  Hmm.

I heard a sermon at church yesterday that I've been rolling around in my head.  It was basically about Matthew 5:44,

 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (KJV)  

Forgiveness was also discussed.

"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.  And when he had said this, he fell asleep." ~Acts 7:59-60.  

I need to say, I was definitely convicted.  Yes, I do pray for the leaders of this country, and for those with whom I don't agree, and for those who are persecuting my brothers and sisters in the faith, and for those who are intent on basically outlawing Christianity.  I honestly can say that I don't hate anyone.  However, I have definitely become angry, and maybe even get a little bitter, when I hear what's going on in this world.  And I know my Father doesn't want that for me.  So, I'm asking His forgiveness for this, and for His help in forgiving and feeling love when it's REALLY hard to do.

That being said, many people and even many Christians don't understand that love doesn't always feel exactly like we think it should feel.  When many people think of love, they think of the warm-fuzzy, good feeling.  Many people think that anything that makes them feel bad about what they do is surely hate.  They think that keeping quiet instead of saying something that may hurt or offend someone is the loving thing to do.  But, that's simply not true.  Recently, my husband had to yell at my four-year-old to get out of the street because a car was coming.  He didn't listen (he wasn't paying attention) when hubby said it in a normal tone "Hey, get out of the street, a car is coming."  So he then had to yell.  Then he was told he couldn't ride his bike in the street anymore that day (we live in a neighborhood where their is a "main" road, and then little road loops for each section of houses, so kids play in the street on the loops all the time...hard to explain, but they're by no means busy and drivers know to be very watchful).  My four-year-old started crying.  His heart breaks when he has to get yelled at, and obviously he was upset about not getting to ride his bike any more that day.  No warm-fuzzies there.  Does that mean my husband hates his son?  Because he told him what he was doing was wrong, that he needed to change it NOW, and it made him feel bad?  NO!  Being silent, knowing what was going on, would have been hateful.  Trying to take the time to have a nice, feel-good conversation (at that moment) about how it "isn't really good that you are in the street right now, because a car is coming, and we don't want that car to bump you so that you have an owie, do we?" (trying really hard not to gag here) wouldn't exactly be loving, either, considering our son could have been hit (if the driver hadn't been paying attention) long before that sentence was out.  Yet SO many people hear something someone says, or reads something someone writes and says "Well, that makes me feel bad, or offended, or hurts my feelings, or (insert any other feeling that's not feel-good).  What a hater!"

I will say here, I have personally seen and heard those who claim to be Christian and spout off some pretty hateful things.  I'm not saying that doesn't happen, and that is most certainly not right at all.  What I AM saying is, there is no filter.  ALL Christians who say something offensive, or perhaps convicting, are haters, according to those who would like to quiet us.  They equate being loving with being silent instead of exposing lies and evil, which they equate with hating.  YES, the bible calls us to love, and to pray for, and to forgive our enemies.  It also calls us to expose evil, and lies, and false teachers.

"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;" ~Titus 1:10-13 (emphasis mine).  

Not only are we to expose evil, we are to rebuke sharply those who participate in evil and lies.  This is not at all contradictory of being loving, prayerful, and forgiving. In fact, it is a loving act of doing what is right, even when it is hard to do.

When I see my kids doing something they should not be doing, I call them out on it.  Because I hate them?  No, because I love them!  I also love my God and country, and my fellow believers in the faith.  When I see things happening that could greatly affect my country and fellow believers, I'm going to talk about it.  I'm going to share things that I'm passionate about.  I'm going to share the gospel and pieces of scripture that are on my heart.  I'm going to share things that are going on that are going to affect others.  I'm really focusing on only worrying about what God thinks, and not what other people think (this is not easy, and a struggle of mine).  Anything has the potential to offend anyone.  That shouldn't keep people silent.  Being offended is a choice made on the part of the offended, not on the part of the voice that speaks.

Another thing that has been on my mind lately is political parties.  I've seen the articles that state you can't be a Christian AND a Republican, or you can't be a Christian AND a Democrat, or you can't be a Christian AND (fill-in-the-blank).  Since when is Christianity linked (or unlinked, as the case may be) to a political party?  Let me make this real simple.  You can't be a Christian AND not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  I am a Christian, plain and simple.  And, there are Christians in every political party.  I'm pretty sure that it's no secret that I'm conservative.  More of my political beliefs lean to the Republican side than to the Democrat side.  Even more, they lean toward the Tea Party.  Does that mean that I agree with everything those parties stand for, and that I blindly believe everything the politicians on that side says, or let them dictate to me what is right and wrong?  No!  And it would seriously make me laugh if anyone tried to insinuate that.  Does it mean I think every Democrat is evil and that I think absolutely everything out of the mouth of every Democrat is a lie? No!  I don't pick a party and then base my beliefs on what they think is right.  I look to God my Father and trust that what HE says is right and good is, in fact, right and good.  And, it's certainly no secret that I do not look to society and everyone else around me to tell me what's okay and what's not.  It's all Him.  He has clearly laid out his plan for us in His Word, and that's where I take my cue.  I am by no means perfect (another thing I would laugh at if anyone told me that I was trying to portray myself as such)...I am a sinner just like everyone else.  I may not have the exact same struggles as everyone else (who does?), but struggles I have, just like everyone does.  But I very much long to know Him more and more every day, so that I can learn to be more and more like Him every day.  You can't do that by listening to what everyone else says you should do.  You can't even do that by listening to what everyone else says God wants you to do.  Seriously, I don't even want you to take my word for it.   The only way to get to know God and what He wants for you, is to open up the bible and read, no listen, truly listen, to what He says.

Thank you for reading, if you've read this far.  :-)  These are just some thoughts that have been on my mind, with the atmosphere of our country lately.  If you want to talk, please feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page, or message me on Facebook.  If you are truly seeking information, advice, etc. I will be glad to discuss things with you, but I will not debate my beliefs, as they are not debatable.  :-)  Unless you can use the bible IN CONTEXT where any of my beliefs are wrong...any other source is not going to fly.  Anything disrespectful will be deleted.  My blog, my rules.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

No Sugar Day 16

Well, my oldest and I are one third of the way through our refined sugar fast, so I thought I would post an update as to how we are doing!

Things are going fairly well.  I'm still flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to meal planning, but for the moment, that seems to be working.  For now.  Over the weekend we stocked up the kitchen with lots of fruits, veggies, and healthy foods to make our meals easy to plan and prepare.  I have been perusing Pinterest to mix things up a bit and keep our meals and snacks from being boring.  I'm making more from scratch, as it's either hard, or just plain too expensive to find even some basic ingredients that are made without refined sugar or a substitute.  We are using a lot of agave and stevia when appropriate.  The other day, I made homemade ketchup and a homemade version of our favorite store-bought dressing.  The dressing was a little tricky, because I also had to make a homemade version of condensed tomato soup, replacing the tomato juice with pureed canned tomatoes, and of course replacing the sugar with agave in the dressing itself.  But let me tell you, this extra bit of work is so worth it!  The homemade versions taste way better than the store-bought, and obviously, they're healthier!

I've replaced my soda consumption by making a lot more use of our Soda Stream.  Hubby has found a combination that I really like.  Carbonated water, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice, and a little liquid stevia.  We also have a few different bottles of liquid stevia that are flavored, that we can use with the Soda Stream.

Another thing that I've mourned the loss of is yogurt and ice cream.  Unless you buy plain yogurt, there is going to be some form of sugar or sugar substitute in there.  And ice cream?  Well, that's obvious.  :-)  I've satisfied my longing for both of those with one simple dessert.  Greek yogurt, fruit on top (my favorite combo is sliced strawberries and bananas), then drizzled with agave or honey.  What's ice cream again?  Oh, yes.  Well, I don't miss it at all.  And then, there's this little number I can whip up if I start get a hankering for chocolate.  :-)

Finding different ways to make our favorite foods without the refined sugar has turned from being a pain, into being a challenge that is often fun!  I've always enjoyed cooking and baking, but this takes cooking-from-scratch to an even deeper level, when you have to get creative or find ways to make even some basic ingredients without the refined sugar.

What is going without refined sugars doing for my oldest and myself?  Well, I've noticed our attitudes are a lot more mellow.  I've noticed we're both thinking a little more before flying off the handle about silly things.  We're getting along a lot better with each other, as well as with the rest of the family.  We've always been a loving and LOUD family, but he, as the oldest, and I tend to butt heads more than anyone else.  It hasn't exactly gone away, but it's...changed.  In a good way!  :-)  Physically, things are changing, too.  I don't notice a massive energy boost or anything.  However, I did get a cold just before the weekend, and it was done with by Tuesday.  That's one of the shortest colds I've had that I can remember!  There are some foods I momentarily wish I could have, but cravings for eating when I'm not hungry have completely gone away.  My tastes are changing already, and in some cases, healthy food that was perhaps tolerable to me before has become downright yummy!   Also skin blemishes and a few other irritations I've had have almost completely disappeared.  I've also noticed that with my son.  For a couple of weeks before we started our fast, he had been getting a pretty bad outbreak of acne, especially on his forehead.  Almost-twelve-year-old hormones at work, I'm sure.  :-)  When I noticed my own acne had gone away, I called him over so that I could get a close look at his face.  Sure enough, his, too, was almost completely cleared up! So, yes, we are definitely reaping some benefits of staying away from sugar! Oh, and the fact that I'm dropping some pounds isn't bad, either.  ;-)

Realistically, I can't say that we will stay completely sugar-free when our fast is up, but there are a few things I definitely want to establish.  I definitely want to stay away from both corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame.  I definitely want to make sure that if we do consume refined sugar, it's a TREAT, and not a regular occurrence.  And, I definitely want to stick with making certain things from scratch, not only because it's cheaper, but it's just plain better-tasting AND healthier than the store-bought version.  This has been a learning experience for sure, and has shown me that, yes, it IS possible to stay away from refined sugar and still enjoy eating!

To God goes ALL the glory!  I know that without Him, and if it weren't for the fact that we are doing it for Him, there is no way we would have been able to get even this far without at least a little cheat.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

First, I have to apologize for a lack of photos lately.  Our camera is temporarily out of order, and for some reason, when I try to send an email with a photo from my iPhone, it won't go through.  Hopefully, our regular camera will be operational again soon!

Second, I've been wanting to make stuffed peppers for the last two weeks.  I've looked around online (and, yes, even on Pinterest!) for recipes, and I didn't quite have the ingredients for what I found.  So, I decided to improvise and make my own!  These have been tried by the family and devoured, so it's even kid approved.  ;-)  With twelve pepper halves, this is a pretty big recipe, so adjust as needed.  All three of my boys LOVE bell peppers, so this amount will not have a problem sticking around too long.

6 bell peppers, any or all colors!
Olive oil
20 ounces ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, or to taste (I used between 2-3 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 generous handful of Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Heat oven to 375F degrees.

Cut bell peppers length-wise in half and take out the seeds.  Thoroughly wash the peppers and lay them, cut side up, in two 13 x 9 glass pans.

Heat a swirl of oil in a large skillet, then add the turkey and onion and cook until browned.  Turn off heat.  Add taco seasoning and blend well.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

Scoop ground turkey mixture into each bell pepper half to fill it. (I did have some leftover filling that we will use for burritos for lunch tomorrow.)  Top pans with foil and bake in 375F oven for 40 minutes.

We topped ours with salsa and plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream).  This is a meal in itself, but of course, you can always serve with a salad or whatever tickles your fancy.  The younger boys wanted bread and butter with theirs, so that's what they had!  :-)


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Lunch

Once you have your sweet potato baked, this lunch is simple and fast to throw together!  It is very yummy, and very filling.

1 baked sweet potato
Brown rice
Black beans, drained and rinsed
Plain Greek yogurt

No measuring here, just load it how you want!  Split open your sweet potato and mash it up a bit.  Stuff with brown rice and black beans.  Top with salsa and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  I like to eat this with a small side salad, fruit, and a small glass of milk.  As long as I ate a good breakfast, this lunch holds me over until dinner time, with maybe a small, healthy snack in between.

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast

Here is one of my current favorite breakfasts!  It is simple, delicious, and filling.  Makes one serving, but feel free to increase the recipe as needed.

Cream of Wheat-Original
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 banana, cut lengthwise into quarters, then sliced

Prepare one serving of Cream of Wheat according to directions on box.  Stir in the peanut butter until well blended, then fold in the bananas.  Eat, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

No Sugar Days 3-5

Perhaps I should have written this post last night...the last couple of days have been a blur.  My brain fog must have been worse than I thought!  ;-)

Friday removed a layer of fatigue.  No headache and no body aches.  I was just tired and spacey.  I was able to make dinner and do laundry, but that seemed to wipe me out.  I tried to take a nap, but I don't think I really fell into a deep sleep, as I had on Days 1 and 2.

I was so happy on Saturday to notice the fatigue was pretty much gone!  However, in it's place, came irritability.  Over the last year, I had really taught myself to get used to, and learn to enjoy instead of being annoyed by, my boys rambunctious and sometimes loud behavior.  Yesterday, however, certain noises really irritated me and almost seemed to cause physical pain via creepy-crawly feelings.  I should mention here, also, that I am also inadvertently going through caffeine withdrawl.  It's not part of the fast, but I'm not one of those people who drinks coffee every day (pop had been the major source of my caffeine), and since Day 1, it has just happened that I haven't made any coffee.  Confession?  I'm pretty sure I was too tired and out of it to get a pot going!

Today, things seem to be evening out.  I'm still slightly irritable, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  Of course, that could be because when I stepped on the scale this morning, I had quite the surprise.  I am down 4.5 pounds in just four full days of being off of all refined sugars!  That is awesome, and I am truly thanking and praising God this morning for this motivation and inspiration to keep on keeping on.  All the glory goes to Him!

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Sugar Days 1 & 2

Yesterday was the first day of my journey with no refined sugars.  It started out pretty well, as I expected. The first day of something is always exciting, right?  Although, between my "saying good-bye" to some foods on Tuesday, and only 5 hours of sleep on Tuesday night, it was a tired start.  Mentally, though, I stayed with it and was excited to get going.  After lunch and during the kids' quiet time, I was really dragging and decided to take a nap.  I woke up still very tired and with a bad headache.  I could tell it was my MS acting up, as it started in the back of my head and had an "electrical" quality.  I took some Aleve, but the ache only proceeded to get worse.  Brain fog set in, and for some reason I had 5 bouts of hiccups between the time I got up from my nap until the time I went to bed.  There's obviously no science to back this up, but my theory is that my body was trying to manipulate me into eating a spoonful of sugar to get rid of those hiccups.  ;-)  I was really surprised that I was feeling crummy on the very first day.  I figured it would take a few days before my body realized what was going on.  I think it just goes to show how addicted I am.  A Day 1 highlight?  My oldest decided that he was going to join me and give up sugar, too.  So I'm feeling pretty good about the positive impact my own fast is already having on others in my family.

This morning, Day 2, I did not want to get out of bed.  Hubby let me sleep in a little later than usual, but he woke me up before he left for work, because the kids needed to get up half an hour later.  So, I've basically been in zombie mode all morning.  This fatigue competes fiercely with the MS fatigue I get at times.  It's almost lunch time as I type this, so I will be able to get a nap in soon.  ;-)  I've had absolutely no cravings for the food itself so far, although when I am so tired, I do miss the convenience of not having to think something out, checking the ingredients for sugar, finding sugar, and having to come up with something else before I'm finally able to eat.  So planning is ESSENTIAL in this.  At least now, with my oldest joining me, it will be easier to push myself to do it.  He's relying on me to make sure we're BOTH eating what we're supposed to!

My intention in recording this is not for you all to feel sorry for me, but so that I will have a real, honest record of this journey.  It doesn't look very fun now (and trust me when I say, it's not FEELING very fun!), but I am looking ahead to when I will feel fantastic, and I can't wait to record those days as well!  I do appreciate any prayers you can offer, both for me and my son to get through these first days and weeks.  My number one hope in this, even above getting healthier, is that we will learn to just fully lean on and rely on Him, Who provides all things and all comfort, and that He will be glorified.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: Not a Menu, But a Plan

I don't have my menus quite planned out yet for this week.  Lent starts this Wednesday, and I've really been thinking about a fast this year.  Hubby and I have fasted from various things in the past during Lent, things that perhaps have become an idol in our lives, bad habits,  or things we just needed to force ourselves to take a break from.  I think it's been at least a couple of years since I have seriously thought about something to fast from during Lent.  The start of this year has been a struggle trying to finally get myself healthy.  I started in between illnesses running through the family, and a strong start it has not been.

With that in mind, I began to really think about what the number one thing is right now that is causing me to be unhealthy, and I finally came to the conclusion that it is sugar, hands down.  I have studied the various forms of sugar, their impact on insulin, and insulin's impact on overall health.  Even when I'm counting calories, it seems there is still some form of sugar in anything that is even remotely processed.  Not to mention (it's confession time here, people) I am an absolute soda freak.  And let that be regular soda.  I cannot stand the taste of diet (not to mention, caloric difference aside, aspartame is just as bad for your health as sugar).  And the taste of regular soda has tainted me against the taste of healthier sodas that are made with stevia.

Tomorrow will be both my planning day, as well as my own version of Shrove Tuesday.  No, I will NOT be gorging myself, but there are a couple of things I feel the need to say good-bye to.  :-)  I have been looking at a few cookbooks and websites that provide the type of recipes I'm looking for in going sugar free (not going with the artificial substitutes, either).  From this I will be forming my menu plan.  So, this week I will skip blogging my menu plan, and will hopefully have one to post next Monday.

I also hope to blog my journey.  I know it will not be easy.  I don't think I've ever completely refrained from all refined sugar (I will still be eating natural sugar, such as fruit) from any significant period of time.  I have heard the stories of people who have, however, and I know the first week or two will not be very fun.  I do know, however, that as long as I keep my focus on God, and keep my purpose to be always honoring to Him, I know He will give me strength for this journey.  I am also so very blessed to have a great support system in my family.  I almost feel more sorry for them than for myself the next couple of weeks...hopefully, I won't be too much of a pain to put up with.  :/

Monday, February 4, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Menu planning is another one of those things I have slipped in lately.  It's a little tougher as we get acclimated to calorie-counting around here again (but obviously necessary for that very reason!).  ;-)

Monday: Coconut and Pineapple Chicken Curry over Rice Noodles
Tuesday: Mandarin Orange Chicken served with brown rice and veggies
Wednesday: Subway for hubby and I (Awana night)
Thursday: Stuffed Cabbage Strata
Friday: Transylvanian Stockpot
Saturday:BLT Burgers served with salad

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back to the Basics

For the last few months, I have felt like I'm floundering, wandering aimlessly through life surrounded by chaos.  Between an MS flare-up, the drama-filled election, illness, Christmas (with illness), birthdays, and yes, more illness, the last few months have felt like a complete fog.  My daily time with the Lord has not been consistent, my parenting has not been consistent, and don't even get me started on homeschool and housework!  I've tried to start counting calories again and working out in an attempt to get back on track with my weight-loss, but that's slipped with the last go-round of sickness in the house.


Tomorrow morning I wake up with a clean slate.  I am going to wake up early and have some coffee.  Then, it will be time to start building again.  Back to the basics I go.  I have an idea of all the things I would like to do, but I'm not going to start off my clean slate by mucking it up with a long to-do list.  Nothing will get done, or at least get done right, unless I start my day off the Word.  So my mission tomorrow is to do whatever I need to do to get up early and stay awake to spend some time with Him.  I have a yearly bible reading schedule that I'm currently "behind" on, but I'm not concerning myself with "catching up," but merely just getting started again.  Then, I have an online bible study my husband and I are doing together.  That's it.  Those are my absolute must-do's tomorrow.  Everything else will fall in place as long as I get those done.  My Anchor.