Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Almost Summer!


I can't believe we are almost done with another school year!! Phew! That was a busy one!! I, for one, am so glad that some activities are ending for the summer, so we can rest a little more and not be out every night of the week! There have been lots of changes lately!!

The kids are doing well, finishing up the school year, and growing so much!! Madelynn is finishing up her second grade year, and just finished up her second year of Classical Conversations!! She has been having fun playing outside, enjoys watching Judah and Ruth and helping with them, and has learned so much this year! She is my big helper! She has even started making some of her own food, including scrambled eggs with peppers and sausage, by herself! Tad has been teaching her how to skateboard, and they have been going on long bike rides together. She is getting so big!

Judah is doing preschool this year, and he has done really well. He enjoys sitting at the table and having his own school to do alongside Maddy! He is left-handed, and has learned how to write pretty well this year! He did a few sessions of swim lessons and loved it, especially when Tad got in the water with him on the last day of swim lessons!! He would be beaming the whole time!! Tad has also been teaching him how to skateboard, and he loves that! He is a joy!

Ruth is getting so big! She is now speaking in sentences, and can definitely get her opinions across! She is tiny but loud! She is my sweet cuddler and likes to encourage and make people happy! This week she told me, "I like your ponytail" and "you did good on your workout." She makes my day!!

Within the last few months, I have become a new Team Beachbody Coach. It is so fun to help people on their journey towards health and fitness, as I am on my own journey as well! I just finished up my T25 workouts, and started the 21 Day Fix, which is a workout program that comes with different sized containers, and it tells you how many you can eat of each a day (the different food groups) and also comes with workout DVDs. You get to eat so much food, are not starving, and the weight easily falls off. People have had such great success with it! It was on backorder for a month because it was so popular, but it is now back in stock! Let me know if you want more details, or details about a Fitness Challenge group!

About a week after I signed on as a Coach, I was asked to be the Director of the Classical Conversations in our area! So a lot is going on right now! I am so thrilled for the opportunity, and excited to embark on a new area of work with CC! I have enjoyed tutoring the past 2 years with CC, and this will be a fun endeavor as well, and an awesome ministry opportunity!

We have been busy at our church as well. Tad and I both sing on the worship team, Tad leads the worship team, and we enjoy doing other things there as well. We have been blessed with a vibrant congregation and a Pastor that preaches the Word diligently! What a blessing!
So, as we get ready for summer, and look forward to a family wedding/vacation this summer, we are feeling blessed. Tad is still enjoying his job as a mailman, and has lost a ton of weight running around the neighborhoods delivering mail! He loves being outside, so it is the perfect job for him! Hopefully we can see many of our Ohio friends and family this summer, and enjoy some time off of school! Happy (almost) Summer!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Classical Model of Education

If you homeschool, then Dorothy Sayers "The Lost Tools of Learning" is a valuable read. If you homeschool and participate in Classical Conversations, then it is an even more valuable read! I just finished reading this essay, and in it found why Classical Conversations is such a crucial program for our young ones, and as they grow up in this program.
There are three basic tenants to classical education: the grammar phase, the dialectic phase, and the rhetoric phase. I didn't always quite understand what classical education was, but these three tenants pretty much sum it up. The grammar phase is our Foundations program through CC, and it involves memorizing lots of facts and information, such as history sentences, history timeline, geography, Latin charts, math equations and formulas, English definitions and grouping of words, and science data. At first glance, it might seem unimportant to memorize all this information at such a young age when they don't understand half of what they are putting to memory. And mind you, a lot of the information is put to song, so the kids love it and it is easy to memorize, even for the parents!! And Classical Conversation's model is that a homeschool parent teaches all the subjects in the class, showing the parents that we can teach our children all the subjects, and we don't have to wait for or expect an "expert" to come teach our children these subjects, we can teach them!! And all this information is just one stage in the 3-part Trivium and all of these information "pegs" will be useful in the future as they begin to remember and interact with this information in the dialectic phase. This first stage is the knowledge phase, and is appropriate for the younger ages, approximately 4 years old through 6th grade.
The next phase is the dialectic phase, in which the child starts to interact with all that information that they memorized in the grammar phase. As they get older, they become old enough to think through this information, to start to question some of this information, and to have questions about life. This is where we can direct a child to ask appropriate, respectful questions and to discuss this information in a logical way. Students have a class on logic, learn to form their own arguments, and to dissolve illogical arguments. This is the understanding phase. The students wrestle with information, learn how to debate, and learn to form a solid foundation of truth, and not just to believe whatever they are told or hear. As stated in her essay, Dorothy says, "History, aided by a simple system of ethics derived from the grammar of theology, will provide much suitable material for discussion." They also learn to write essays, and to really be able to put their thoughts and knowledge into valid writing.
The final phase is the rhetoric phase, in which there is a lot more freedom as far as what they learn.
Another quote from her essay is as follows:
"Indeed, at this stage, our difficulty will be to keep subjects "apart," for Dialectic will have shown all branches of learning to be inter-related, so Rhetoric will tend to show that all knowledge is one."
This phase is the sort of culmination of the first two phases, as the student has learned the information, how to grapple with that information, and can then focus on more specialized fields of interest, stemming from his study of Theology, hopefully, and can even begin to study a language other than Latin. Throughout the Trivium, the student will learn the construction of the language of Latin, which will help him to not only learn other subjects well, but in itself is the derivation of many terms and words we used today in our language and other sciences.
Dorothy says, of her digesting through the Trivium, "I am concerned only with the proper training of the mind to encounter and deal with the formidable mass of undigested problems presented to it by the modern world." Because as she compares modern education, at the time this was written, with a sort of mediaeval education that she is trying to return to, she realizes that there will be some differences between the child with modern education and the child with a classical education, but the child with the classical education will, no doubt, be able to apply the tools of learning that they have received to any new study that they will encounter. They learn the integration of subjects, meaning that each subject relates to the other subjects as they all relate to God. There isn't such a hard divide between subjects where the student couldn't see how they worked together as part of the beauty of the creation of God.
So, I hope that this gives you a little glimpse into what classical education is, how Classical Conversations works and what they base their education model on. I didn't always understand what it even meant for someone to have a classical education, but now that I have learned more about it, I am astounded by how beautiful the Trivium works together and how the finished product, i.e., the student who has been trained by these 3 branches, is a wonderfully educated and cultured adult who has the tools to discern and interact with a world with lots of differing views and philosophies. We don't have to worry about the classically trained child, for they have found the lost tools of learning, and are hopefully able to take those with them wherever they go.

If interested, here is a link to Dorothy Sayers "The Lost Tools of Learning," from which this blog post was based off of, and where Classical Conversations gets its basis.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fitness Motivation for Summer!!

Hey, guys. Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately!! I have been so busy with all kinds of new things going on!! One of them is that recently I became a Team Beachbody Coach. This means that not only can you get awesome Beachbody products from me, like Insanity, P90X, TurboFire, Combat, and T25, but I can also coach you along as you use the products to get the best results!! And my favorite Challenge pack is on sale this month!!

Last summer I started doing Combat, and did the whole 60 days, and saw incredible definition that I have never seen on my body before!! I was losing weight, feeling strong, and looked forward to my workouts!! I still go back to those workouts because they are so fun and effective!!
Some other coaches and I are starting a Challenge group starting on March 24 and it lasts 60 days. It basically is a private Facebook group where you get support, accountability, motivation, and can post your goals and successes!!

I am participating in this Challenge group as well and planning on seeing amazing results just in time for summer!! There are other Challenge packs on sale as well, like Les Mills Pump (which Tad just ordered and is super excited about!) and Ultimate Reset!! Plus a myriad of other workout programs not on sale but they are awesome, including the 21-day fix that was so popular last month they sold out!!

So really, you are getting a great deal to get a Challenge Pack and start this 60 Day package because it is a COMPLETE package. It includes everything to help you get on track and get into the best shape of your life for summer!

Come on, let's do this together!!!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Busy, Busy

Sorry I have been so absent lately from my blog; there is just so much going on right now! I don't feel too overwhelmed with the amount of things on my plate, it's more the emotional handling of all the things that are going on right now. It is interesting to see God's hand in the little details of life, and how He lines things up for us, and blesses us in tiny ways that only we can recognize as His hand. He keeps us steady. He hasn't forgotten about us. He is waiting for us to diligently seek Him. I often find myself thinking about how much I have to do, how full my plate is, or how I am going to get everything done. And in my devotional, it talks about how Jesus led a busy, full life when He was on earth. He had people who wanted his attention and company and He knew His mission and plan for being on the earth. And yet, He still got up early and sought that time away, by Himself, with the Lord. It's kind of a funny concept to think that He would need to do that, but what a huge statement for us and how connected we need to be to Him before we start our day. How can we go through our hectic day without Him?
I feel like I have gotten off track of a lot of things lately, and that's often how I roll. I will go from disciplined, to lacking in most areas of my life. And then I will realize that I need to get back on track and really apply some discipline. Areas like eating right, working out, spending time with God, my priorities, or how I spend my time. So I am trying to get my priorities back to where they should be, and apply some discipline. It's not easy, but I want to get back on track and feel more in control of my life, instead of just letting everything happen to me.
I am not one who enjoys spontaneity too much, or plans changing quickly, or sudden decisions being made that are out of my control. It's a control thing, I guess, and I should be able to go with the flow a little more often but I struggle with it. Lately, I think God is trying to see if I will trust Him as things change without my "permission." "I will hold you, I am already in control, all you have to do is trust Me," He says. It's hard. I want to hold tightly to those things that I feel are in my control. But really, nothing is in my control.
These are the times when we can either throw up our hands and give up, curl up in a ball and deny what is happening, or push through in faith, and choose to trust God even when you don't know what is happening, or what is going to happen. I hope I can push through in faith, and come out more than a conqueror through Him who gives me strength.
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Workout Routine

Well, the holidays killed my weight loss plan. I know it's so hard for everyone to be disciplined during all those holiday parties and functions, with all those devilish goodies, cookies, and fatty meals. They are lovely, but they are deadly, too. I think I learned some valuable lessons from it all. Like, if you binge all holiday season, you will waste so much of the time you spent burning that fat off, and you will have to start over, and that is depressing. And, treating yourself to holiday food is okay, in moderation, but once you let yourself go and just binge everyday all day, making up for all those months you "couldn't have that stuff," it is a recipe for disaster. And also, when the new year finally rolls around, and you have the will-power to get your booty in gear, you will feel depressed looking at the "old you" in the mirror, the you that started out many months ago and lost weight.
So, here we are. I guess I didn't think I would erase so much of my hard work, but I learned that eating that junk will do harm very quickly. It also sent my gallbladder into "crazy mode" and started giving me attacks with too much fatty foods. I really wish I would have had the sense to at least be disciplined until those holiday functions, and then given myself some extra liberty to enjoy those foods, instead of just "taking the holiday season off." That was a bad idea. It wasn't my intention originally, but I just got so busy that I even stopped working out for a few weeks, trying to get caught up on all the Christmas duties.
I am excited that I have the discipline to lose this weight though. It has been tough, to try to break away from that "binging mode" that is so easy for me. I hate to admit that I am a binger, but I like to keep it real. I am an eater. And I don't know when to stop. It seems like I am either doing really good, or really bad. Before the Christmas break, I was in the habit of working out everyday during the kid's nap time. But then that changed because Ruth started waking up about an hour into her nap and I was afraid I was waking her up. And if I try to workout early in the morning, it wakes up the kids as well. Then I started to workout in the morning while the kids were awake, and that can be very distracting because they need me so many times during it, or are crawling around my legs while I am trying to do it!! So I started going to the Y a little before 6 in the morning, and one of my friends wanted to join me for accountability! So we go about 3-4 times a week. I cannot even tell you how great it is to get that workout done early, and without interruptions!!
I am slowly getting my groove back with logging all my food on My Fitness Pal, and trying to stay within my range. That is the hardest for me. I am in the habit of working out again. The Y in the morning, or I do a workout dvd the other days in the morning. But the biggest challenge for me is staying on track with my nutrition. The hardest thing for me is the events with food. It is so hard for me to say no. And when I'm feeling stressed, anxious, angry, overwhelmed, etc. I feel like I "deserve" those horrible snacks. Which is actually doing a disservice to myself.
I am so glad that I have my weight loss group on Facebook, because without those amazing ladies, I would be lost. I wouldn't have as much motivation to keep going. But with their daily motivational posts, encouragement, and just the friendships I have formed on there over the last 9 months, it inspires me to keep going. To start over. To keep making good choices, and not beat myself up for past failures. And it helps that they are believers and that the encouragement is also towards the things of God!! Such a blessing!!
So, what are your New Year weight loss goals? Are you maintaining, trying to lose that pesky holiday weight, or starting fresh, trying to lose weight for the first time? What are some helpful tips you could share that would help someone who is in the daily fight to be healthy and workout?
If you qualify for any of these, keep going!!! And feel free to post on here your successes, setbacks, advice, or encouragement!! And for pete's sake, read Made to Crave!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Homeschool Slide

When I first thought of possibly homeschooling, and believe me, it wasn't my idea, I didn't know how I was going to replicate "real school" at home. I wanted to make sure that Maddy was getting the full "experience" and one of my main concerns was that I couldn't give her all of that, because I am only one person, only good at certain things, not all of them. I think when we first started, and even up until recently, I was still holding onto that "homeschool mom guilt." I think we all do it. We wonder what we are missing, what we haven't taught, what we forgot, what the "other kids" are doing. Ok, I still do it. I wonder, "Is she reading as well or better than other kids her age? Will she know everything she would learn in music class at school? Will she excel in art without having "art class" like they do in school? Will she get that kid-interaction and learn how to deal with other kids?" I know she is getting some of these things through Classical Conversations, and for that, I am so glad. She is learning the tin whistle, art, doing science experiments, learning about artists and orchestra, and doing weekly presentations. She is learning to sit in a classroom, when to be quiet, lining up in a line, and making friends in her small class. But as far as what we do at home. I always wonder if we are doing enough. I think sometimes I pile too much into each day, just trying to "fill in the holes." I have an "other" category that includes the things I think of or stumble upon, and realize she should be learning, or should already know by now.
So what is the homeschool slide, you may ask? Well, I think it means that it's where we, as homeschool moms, can take a load off and not worry so much. It's not where we get lazy and stop teaching things. It's not where we drop the ball and watch TV instead of school our children. It's just where we stop the anxiety, and comparing ourselves to other moms who homeschool, or don't, and concentrate on all the wonderful blessings we have in being a homeschool mom. I have realized that it is such a privilege and joy to have my kids home with me all day. I get to teach them about life, and let them experience things with me that they wouldn't get if they were gone all day. They learn more things about how to run a house, how to take care of the baby, how to entertain themselves when mom has things to do, how to work independently on school, how to play when mom sends them off to play "together," and are interested in helping me cook when they see me start to get ingredients out.
Now this is not to say that that's all we do for school. My homeschooling philosophy is very academic, and their studies are very important to me. My mother-in-law is a wonderful example and counsel for me of a homeschooling mom who is strict with her kids studies and has had kids who have graduated highschool and gone on to colleges where their teachers have commented that their mom did a great job. They have been at the top of their classes and have done well in college. So I look to her for advice so that I can help my kids succeed as well.
Not everyone has the same philosophies in homeschooling as I do, and that's okay, but for me, academics is very important. But I guess my point is that we have to give ourselves a break sometimes. So many veteran homeschooling moms talk about how they wished they weren't so strict and hard on their kids in the early years. How there were tears and frustration, and how they didn't need to be so hard on them. I have Judah doing preschool this year, and I am pretty lax with him. I have realized that there will be no permanent damage done if we skip a week of his school, or have a lighter week, or if we don't do our "curriculum" one week but do other stuff instead. And with Maddy, I have to make myself take a day off once in awhile if it's absolutely necessary, and try to not feel guilty about it. We can take those breaks, we homeschool for crying out loud!!
So I guess in conclusion, I have realized that homeschooling is not ever going to look just like "regular school," and that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay, that's the point!! We can give our kids different experiences, a closer bonding with their siblings, and greater responsibility around the house, more hands-on, one-on-one intereaction, and a deeper studying of God's Word that they might not get at school. As in everything in life, our perspective is everything. If we focus on where we are lacking and what we are not doing and how we are failing, then we will be miserable homeschooling moms. But if we focus on our precious time with our kids, the responsibilities they are learning, the unique teaching times we have, and how we get to see their eyes opened to the world around them as they learn, then we will be joyful and content in our homeschooling journey that God has called us to. I know it's not for everyone, but if God has called you and your family to it, then be grateful that you have the opportunity to stay home and teach your precious children!! And embrace the homeschooling chaos!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

I think I originally saw Rachael Ray cook this vegetable stew on her show several years ago, and have made it several times since. It is vegetarian, which I usually don't do, especially for dinner, but this one is so filling because of the amount of vegetables in it, and it is so delicious! Comfort food for sure, for those cold, winter evenings! I think another selling point is that you are suppose to serve it with crusty French bread cooked under the broiler with garlic and parmesan. It doesn't get much better than that, right?
I have been suffering from gallbladder attacks lately, and one way to dissolve the gallstones is to eat clean, eliminating fatty foods from your diet and adding in lots of healthy, fresh foods and increasing your water intake. I haven't been completely faithful to all of that, but I have definitely been adding in lots of fresh foods, fruits, vegetables, and lemon water. So that is why I wanted to make this soup again. And don't be too scared by the amount of vegetables, it truly is so delicious!! And since there are so many, you stand by your stock pot and throw in the veggies as you chop, starting with the veggies that take the longest to cook, and so forth. So, happy winter cooking!!

Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)
Rachael Ray, The Food Network

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
3 cloves garlic, 2 whole, 1 cracked from skin
2 onions, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 eggplant, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
Salt and Pepper
1 (28 oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup stock, chicken or vegetable (I used one whole box of chicken stock)
1/2 cup torn or chopped basil (10-12 leaves) (I used some dried basil and just sprinkled it in)
4 (1-inch thick) slices crusty whole-grain bread
1/2 cup grated pecorino (I used grated parmesan)

Preheat the broiler. Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil, bay leaf, chopped garlic and onions, and let them sweat while you prepare the other veggies.  Work right next to the stove, and drop as you chop, in order of longest cooking time: potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add tomatoes and stock, and cook 5 minutes more, to heat through. Turn heat off and add basil.

Next, char the bread under the broiler and rub with cracked garlic, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with cheese and pepper, and return to the broiler for 30 seconds to brown the cheese. Serve the toasts with the vegetable stew!!