Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Lately

It has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I would update you all as to what has been happening in our lives.  First of all, my dear husband painted our family room and I am working on decorating it.  I started Square Foot Gardening.  We currently have 3 4x4 boxes with lots of veggies growing.  Since this is my first time ever gardening, we decided to keep it simple.  Next year, we plan on more than doubling it to 8 boxes.  It is so easy and a lot of fun.  Everyone loves it!  We are also experimenting with herbs.  Our first herbs to own are lavender, pineapple mint, and peppermint.  My husband has also been working hard on our yard.  Finally, we decided to continue with Sonlight and ordered and received our curriculum.  This next year, we will be switching to just 1 core instead of 2.  We will be finishing the second half of American History.

We have completed through week 24 of Sonlight cores 1 and 3 (now B and D).  Our plans are to continue through the summer.  The month of May, I have doubled up on the lessons and then will go back to single lessons.  We just wanted to have some of a break before we start back in late August.  The kids are maintaining a great schedule and loving Sonlight and so am I!  

Another thing that we have been working on establishing is a workable schedule.  A few years ago, I purchased, read, and implemented a schedule from Managers of Their Homes.  However, we have moved since (in September) and things were in real need of help.  We are still in the process of making it completely workable, but it is MUCH better around here.  The kids even know what to expect when and look forward to it.

Visiting the chiropractor has also been a part of our lives lately.  My husband is also visiting him regularly.  We have found a chiropractor that we love and highly recommend here in Amarillo.  I can honestly say that I feel great and look forward to the day when my dear husband can say the same thing.

Exercise- I completed the Jillian 30 Day Shred and then moved on to The Biggest Loser Boot Camp with full intentions on completing it in the next 6 weeks.  But other circumstances have put it on hold for a little while.  I think that I will just be walking on the treadmill for a little while or sticking with level 1 of Boot Camp.  However, I have achieved my weight-loss goal and am now back to 122 and feel great!  Part of visiting the chiropractor, exercising, and over all health improvements also means improvement in  the way we eat.  We have switched to raw goats milk (and love it :)), farm fresh eggs, and will be picking up our half a grass-fed cow this week.  I have also started ordering bulk food and grains from Azure Standard and including beans in our diets a whole lot more.  We have switched from white sugar to Sucanat and I am even going one step further and completely going away from all sugar in my diet.  This is hard especially when my husband brings home donuts for a breakfast treat.  Instead, I happily cook eggs for myself and drink a spinach, strawberry, and banana smoothie.  Funny thing about all of this is that when I returned home from the chiropractor today, everyone was in a sugar slump and I was not!  I guess that is true motivation for me- a true sugar lover!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Good News

My oldest son, Matthew, wrote his first song, The Good News.  Our fantastic music minister, Steve, wrote the music to the song and brought it to us yesterday.  Here are the words:

1.  The gospel is the good news that Christ became a man to die for us on the cross.
2.  The gospel is Jesus, who bore my sin and pain and died for me on the tree.
3.  The gospel is the good news that, though they buried Him, He rose up from the grave.
4.  Christ Jesus came and will come to take His children home.  He rose, so we're raised with Him.
5.  The gospel is the good news, that Christ became a man to die for us on the cross.

Refrain: Jesus is the Savior; Jesus is the Lord; the good news of the world.

Also, if anyone knows how to add a song from an I-tunes file please share so that I can share the tune to this song.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exercising With My Little Ones

A few weeks ago, my friend sent me an exercise video for a very belated birthday gift.  The video was Jillian's 30 Day Shred.  I immediately called her and told her thank you and asked if she was trying to kill me by sending me a Jillian workout video.  She just laughed and said that she thought it would work well with my schedule to only have to exercise 20 minutes a day.  Let's just say it sat upon my shelf for a few weeks because I was too intimidated to even give it a try and I did not own any dumb bells.

After thinking about it for sometime, I thought that I could at least give it a try and use what I had for hand weights- pint size jars of honey!  Don't laugh they work :)  So, this past Saturday I popped the dvd into our player and proceeded to exercise for 20 minutes with my honey.   You may be saying that 20 minutes is easy, but I beg to differ- it was a WORKOUT!  However, I still did not let that intimidate me, I continued on to day 2 and two of my boys decided to join me.  They, too, went and picked out jars.  One of them picked out 2 quart sized jars of peanuts and the other picked out 2 spoons.  At this point, I found it hard to stay focused on my exercises because I was laughing so hard!  If only I had a video camera in the background recording all of this I could have won a million dollars on AFV.  After laughing so hard, I pressed on and so did they.  They received LOTS of praise from me the whole time since they were supporting their momma exercise pursuit.  Today was day 3 and they were begging me to put in the dvd so that we could all start exercising just after family worship this morning.  Believe it or not, this time I had all of the children trying the exercise.  The two little boys stuck it out the whole time. My oldest girl joined us a little way into the routine and so did our oldest son.  My oldest son dropped out because he said that it was way too hard for him.

In the beginning, I wondered if I really had the endurance to stick this thing through for an entire 30 days  straight in a row.  Each day I am feeling it more and more.  It is hard and my whole body hurts, especially my legs.  However, I think that I will be able to stay with it.  I have cheerleaders!!!  They motivate and encourage me.  Who says that exercise is impossible with 5 children?  Not me any more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is It Possible To Eat Healthy While Maintaining A Limited Food Budget?

This is the question that I have been asking myself a lot lately.  While living in upstate NY, we had settled into a grocery routine and had bulk food shopping down to a science.  However, since moving to Texas in September and living in a city, I became lax in my pursuit of bulk food shopping and have made many more trips to the grocery store and health food store just because it is conveniently located in the same town  and not far from my house.  Our food budget is $600 a month for a family of seven.  I still make most things from scratch and have some favorite blogs that I get my recipes from and even get a menu mailed to me each month from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Stolen Moments.  She also has a blog at Stolen Moments Cooking.  That being said, I have been encouraged to look for places to order in bulk and save money.

This morning when I woke up, I decided to write out a spread sheet of all the food we regularly purchase, how much we go through in a year, and how much everything cost.  The next thing that I did was to brake it down by the month.  I divided that number by 12.  Finally, I broke it down even further and divided that number by 4 giving me the total for the week.  When it was all done, I was amazed that I had still had around $100 extra each month that I could spend.  Wow!!!  I encourage you, too, to do the math and see where your money is going and how far you can stretch it.

Here is a break down of what I did:

  • Nuts- $59 a month
  • Meat- $141 a month
  • eggs- $48 a month
  • Dairy- $80 a month
  • Bulk food order from Azure Standard- $175
         Total Spending = $503 a month

Recently I discovered that Azure Standard has a delivery stop in my town.  Boy, did I ever rejoice when I found out!  My nuts come from Braga Organic Farms in California.  This is a family owned business.  I order the nuts and dried fruit in bulk, get a 10% discount from Heavenly Homemakers, and only pay $10 in shipping.  This morning, I ordered 100 pounds of nuts and dried fruit and payed $708 with shipping.  Also, a friend recently told me about a nearby farmer who sells beef, pork, chicken, eggs, lamb, and goat.  His animals are grass-fed and are well taken care of with no hormones and plenty of sunshine.  His farm is in Lubbock, but he delivers all over Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado.  He has a delivery stop here in town each month.  The name of his place is Paidom.  His egg prices are between $3.50 to $4 a dozen.  Plus with all the other meats he sells our order with him will average around $1700 a year.  We plan on buying 3 dozen eggs a week, 24 chickens, half a cow, and half a pig.  Our bulk food order will come from Azure Standard and will cost around $175 a month in the beginning and then average out to around $100-$125 a month.  Our dairy will either come from Braums Ice Cream and Dairy or from a private farmer (hopefully this will be the case).  Vegetables will come from our back yard.  I also plan on ordering my herbs in bulk from Bulk Herb Store and this is a place that I highly encourage you to visit soon if you have not already.  The service is superior and the product is beyond amazing.  The shipping is fast and the herbs are super fresh!  Plus if you order from my side button, I get store credit.  All the more reason to order from them.  Olive Nations is also a great place to order things like olive oil, vanilla beans, and such.  If you order through Heavenly Homemaker you can get 10% of your total order and shipping is always free.

This year we also plan on having our own garden.  A friend recently loaned me The All New Square Foot Gardening.  I will be using this method of gardening while using Heirloom seeds.  Hopefully my garden will grow well and we will be able to harvest quite a bit of vegetables from it this year.  This will be my first garden ever and I am very excited about it.

So to answer the question about eating healthy while maintaing a limited budget- YES it is possible.  Just  look around and ask others.  Eventually, you, too will be finding lots of places where you can save money and eat healthy foods.  Before I found Azure Standard, I shopped a lot at Natural Grocers.  Their sales prices are amazing.  I still plan on shopping there.  In addition, there are farmers markets in the summer.  Last of all, there is Swag bucks (points that you get just for searching the internet that translate into gift cards or prizes) that you can use to purchase groceries and other things at Amazon.  If you sign up for their subscribe and save program, you can save 15% more.  Plus you can save 15% more if you sign up for Amazon Moms.  How do you save on your grocery budget while eating healthy?

Peasant Top Is Finished

Last night I finally finished the peasant top.  Today I get to start on the capri pants with ruffles at the bottom and then on to the kerchief.  After that is all finished, I will start a matching outfit for my two year old girl.  Sewing, even though it only happens in little time increments, is helping me to feel great.  It has been the best decision to keep the sewing machine out in the open.  Every time I walk pass it, it calls my name.  When I have a few extra minutes I sit and sew even if it is only 10 minutes a day like yesterday.  Yesterday, I used that 10 minutes during a very busy day to finish the top.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Highlander, Dress-up, Adoption, and Sewing

Life around here has been much the same with the exception that I have not written a post in the past week.  My excuse is Highlander.  In the evening, after the children are in bed, my husband and I sit together and watch Highlander on the computer through Netflix.

The children have had some fun playing dress-up and the girls have had fun playing horsey and baby dolls.  I have been thinking much about adoption and how that I can help others while God is working on my heart and it seems impossible for us at the time being.  For now, I am just advocating for Celine.  Will you join me in praying that God will place it on a loving Christian family's heart to adopt her?  The selfish part of me wants someone in our church family to step forward to adopt her since it cannot be my husband and I.  The other part of me just wants her to be in a Christian family where she does not have to spend her life in a mental institution.

The last thing that I have been doing lately has been sewing a peasant top and capri pants with ruffles at the bottom for both of my girls.  When I am done, I will be posting pictures.  I have finally figured out a way to add sewing to my schedule- keep the sewing machine set up and always in my view.  If I have only a few minutes to sew then I sit down and get busy.  This is motivation!  It may take others only a few hours to make this simple outfit for their children, but it takes me days due to many small children and a busy schedule.  At least, I am sewing a little each day.