Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My, How Life Has Changed, Part 3

I've written about this before, but another way we've changed our lives this year is the way we eat. Honestly, I've seen such tremendous change in all of us. I'm still focusing on the 3 things I talked about before-fresh, natural food, grass-fed beef and chicken (and raw milk-here's a site with some info on benefits of raw milk), and little-to-no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I think we're doing really good with things. It's taken some getting used to-remembering to read the labels and just paying attention to what I'm buying at the grocery store. It still surprises me to see how many things have HFCS. I've seen the pro-HFCS commercials, but I just don't buy it. Mainly because our bodies do not digest HFCS the same way we digest regular sugar. It isn't exactly clear how our bodies digest it (it's basically a chemical). Again, I'm sure I sound like a wacko to some people but I'm just really convicted about what we put into our bodies. From my faith's perspective, our bodies are the Lord's temple. He gifted us with them, we are created in His image! I need to take care of this gift. And I need to teach my children to take care of this gift. I think I'm doing okay with that when I hear Anna and Jacob ask, "Is this good/healthy for me?" :) I don't want to create paranoia. But I also don't want to create ignorance! 
These are the changes I've seen in us...Jacob craves sugar far less (yes, he actually craved it). He drinks a lot of water and doesn't throw a fit about doing it. He really likes to eat veggies now! The other day, I picked some spinach from the garden. I had to tell him to wait until I washed it (because I'd sprayed a home-made rabbit repellant on the garden that included raw eggs and tabasco!)! As soon as it was washed, he munched on several pieces! He loves carrots. He still asks for dessert after almost every meal, but doesn't have a melt down when I say no and is even excited when I serve something like fruit and yogurt (made with honey and raw milk), or even just fresh fruit!
Anna has always been a very healthy eater, so the change I've seen in her is simply awareness of what she's eating, where it comes from, and if it's healthy for her.
I have lost quite a bit of weight (not sure how much exactly and still have plenty to lose!) and I attribute 99% of that to the food I eat. I limit my portions (amazing how much less it actually takes to feel full!) and just plain eat healthier. I rarely drink pop (that was a huge help in losing weight. It's ridiculous how many calories are in pop, not to mention chemicals!). I'm just more aware of what I'm putting into my body and how it will fuel my body. If I feed myself sugar and chemicals, I'm not going to feel very good! But if I feed myself natural foods, full of vitamins and minerals and protein, I will feel good and actually have some energy! What a concept. :) I drink a lot more water. The first migraine I've had in over a year was a couple weeks ago and it was solely from not getting enough sleep. Aaron and the kids sent me for a massage for Mother's Day (it was incredible. I actually fell asleep at one point!). I hadn't been in about a year and afterward, she asked if I was on a diet because I looked slimmer than last time. I told her, briefly, what we're doing and she said, "I can tell. Your skin is much healthier."
Aaron's biggest battle is actually eating regular meals. I've never been able to get him to eat breakfast and if he doesn't feel like he has time to come home and eat lunch, he won't eat lunch either. He has a sweet tooth and his office is full of ladies that have stocks of candy! So his body is fueled with either nothing most of the day or only sugar! He's trying and I try to remember to offer lunch delivery if he can't make it home. :)
These are the things I've done to make this change...I buy grass-fed beef, chicken, and milk (usually yogurt, too) from a sort-of local farm (it's about 40 min. away). I buy eggs from a farm just outside of town here. I don't worry about buying too much organic fruits and vegetables. Like I said in the other post, if I try to do it all at once, I'll go broke and fizzle out! BUT, now that I have my garden it will be organic! :) I am trying to make more meals/food from scratch (well, almost all of our meals are from scratch, but things like bread-baking stuff) to save money and be healthier. I haven't mastered yeast bread, yet. I've given up on the bread machine, though!!! The main snack the kids eat besides fresh fruits and vegetables is Goldfish. It took some getting used to, seeing my pantry fairly bare! But my extra refrigerator in the garage is usually full of fruits and vegetables, instead. I'd really like to master bread making...I just need to try doing it by hand. I also think it would be fun to try making pasta. Now, some of these things wouldn't be cost-saving. It's possible that it would cost me more to make my own pasta. But here's why I want to do it...I know exactly what is in my food when I make it myself. The USDA doesn't always require all ingredients to be listed "as is", if that makes sense (a better explanation is in that Wikipedia article I linked to earlier). And there are no preservatives. I just saw a quote tonight that I think is a great rule to go by..."If your food can go bad, it's good for you. If your food can't go bad, it's bad for you." 
I'm not perfect. Sometimes we eat greasy hamburgers and corn dogs at Sonic! My kids like strawberry limeades! But we're taking big steps in the right direction and I feel really good about where we're at and where we're going. I want to stop the cycle with me and my children. I want us to all be educated about nutrition, and be healthy, active people. I don't want to struggle with a myriad of health problems caused by unhealthy living...obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure & cholesterol, heart trouble, depression (I realize not all depression is purely caused by lifestyle, but I think it's a pretty big factor). I want to serve God wholly and I can't do that if I'm tied down by health problems and fatigue! I'm so thankful for the things He has opened my eyes to, for the things He has taught me, for the ability to CHANGE!!!  I can't make these changes without His strength. It's hard. It's more work, takes more time. But it's worth it to glorify Him by living a better life!!
So, there it is. Three major ways life has changed for us in the Wallman house! :) I'm a crunchy, hippy, weird, cloth-diapering, home-schooling, natural-food-eating Mama! (I still think it's funny that all those things actually describe me.) But I'm still the same me...all this doesn't make me a different person, it just makes me a healthier, happier person! :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life on Fast Forward

Life is flying by my very eyes! Time goes much too quickly and I haven't done a very good job keeping the blog updated with pictures. It's mostly because my real camera doesn't work so I don't take any "real" pictures. So here are some poor quality cell phone pictures instead (and mostly of Isaac because at his age, he's the most comical).

 One day Isaac was Dr. Jekyl one second...

 ...and Mr. Hyde the next second. (or however that goes) LITERALLY! Not a fun day.

 Chillin' in Mama's lap, chowing down on an apple, enjoying the gorgeous weather.

 He thinks he's a big boy and insists on sitting up at the counter with the big kids (on a stool). He loves it. I think he loves most that he can really chuck food at me from up there!! Such a stinker.

 Jacob is at a tough stage right now. WHINE WHINE WHINE. If you know me well, you know that one thing I absolutely cannot stand is whining. It will drive me batty faster than anything!!! I'm not sure why he's so whiny, but we're working on it. With more patience some days than others! It's actually one of his chores-no whining!! Other than that, he's such a joy. He is doing SO good with his speech therapy! His speech teacher said she doesn't see him still needing therapy by the time he starts kindergarten! He's become much more aware of sounds/speech in the last couple of months. I'm so proud of him!

 He's ready for Hawaii!! :) Anna told me I should send this picture to Grandpa & Grandma W :)

 Let's see...Isaac put the stickers on himself, Anna put the headphones on, and Jacob put a big wad of painter's tape on his bottom! Isaac thought it was hilarious.

 I waited too long to get more laundry was only a week of not doing laundry! UGH.

 Last week, we went to a strawberry farm in Haysville. It was so hot. But Anna was an awesome picker! She lasted the whole hour we were out there. Jacob lasted 2 minutes before he started asking for shade! :) Waaaay back there is Anna (squatting down), and the boys (standing on the right side).

 I was ambitious and decided we would try for 20lbs. of strawberries!!! We ended up with over 17lbs.!

 I think she won the prize for finding the biggest strawberry!

 Isaac hadn't wanted any strawberries at home for weeks. We got to the strawberry patch and we could NOT keep him out of the strawberries!!! He must have eaten at least 10!

 The haul! They are so. delicious.

 I washed & hulled almost 8lbs and put them in the freezer. 

I used 2lbs. to make a heavenly strawberry pie. Another pound or so to make delicious strawberry bread. A few pounds got eaten straight up! I have just enough left to make another strawberry pie...if I hurry! :)

 Anna's art on display at festival downtown! She was so proud :)

 We went over to the old house so Aaron could mow the yard (he's mowing for them this summer) and I couldn't believe how much one of my rose bushes is blooming!!! I tried everything and replanted 2 times and I still couldn't get any of them out front to bloom! I guess I just needed to neglect them! ha!

It makes me kinda sad that I wasn't able to get any starters off these bushes.

Now, it's way past time for bed!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sweet Prayer...try again

(let's see if it works now)
I noticed Isaac sitting with his hands folded, head bowed as he jabbered. Jacob was talking and Isaac turned to him, put his finger to his lips and loudly shushed him! It was so funny. So all the kids drew a stick from the prayer pot and prayed...even Isaac! So precious!

Monday, May 7, 2012

My, How Life Has Changed Part 2*updated*

I just came across another article from a blog I follow. She states everything I'm trying to say (and then some) so much better than I can. So...go read her post! :) I should just erase the rest of this post and say "what she said!" Thanks for letting me share Stacie!

Another big change we've made in the past year is homeschooling. My feelings on homeschooling have changed so drastically in the last few years. And I realize that this can be a very sensitive topic. I have been on both sides of this, not only in my personal opinion but also as a professional. Just understand this...I do not think that everyone should homeschool...I do not think that you can't be a good parent if you don't homeschool...I do not think that public schools are bad places. I spent four years (and a LOT of money!) to earn a degree in education so I could teach in a public school. I had all the stereotypical ideas about homeschooling-socially awkward kids that don't fit in; fanatical families wanting to shelter their children from everything and keep them in a cocoon at home; etc etc etc. Of course, there are some homeschooling families that fit these stereotypes. Just like there are people that fit any stereotype there is out there! 
So what changed my mind? Well, one was maturity. ha! Being judgmental has always been a struggle for me. I have a lot of preconceived notions about a lot of things. There are always two sides to every story. Sometimes I forget that. Another thing that changed my mind was quite simply, becoming a mother. That's not to say that all mothers should have a change of heart and decide to homeschool. :) Honestly, God was working on my heart for a couple years about this. Even as recently as 2 years ago, when it was time for Anna to go to preschool. I told anybody that asked, "there's no way I could ever homeschool her...she's too stubborn, we're too much alike, we would just butt heads all day long." So she went to preschool. It was honestly the best possible choice for her and us at that point. She blossomed and learned so much, it was incredible! Then it was time for kindergarten. All day. I really didn't like that, and I knew that there was no way Anna would be able to handle all day. She still needed naps most days! When I found out we could send her for only half the day, I felt a little better. I've written about all this before, so you can read that again for our reasons for choosing to homeschool. Another reason I didn't mention is being able to fully incorporate our faith into schooling. I can make every subject relevant to God's word.
One of the questions/concerns that I get the most is the socialization aspect of homeschooling. Honestly, that was one of the biggest concerns Aaron & I had before we considered homeschooling. We had both come across homeschooled kids who were just plain awkward in any sort of social setting. But in all honestly? There are public-schooled kids who are just plain awkward in any sort of social setting! My, how life has's my perspective on it now: I don't believe that having my children surrounded by children of the exact same age for 8 hours a day will develop the "socialization" that I desire for my children. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect (at least it did with Anna & Jacob). I'm not sure how being in a classroom with 15-20 other 6 year olds will teach Anna how to talk to others respectfully, how to relate and speak to adults, how to hold a conversation with adults, etc. I'm not saying that she shouldn't have little girl "conversations" with her friends. I love hearing her and her cousin talk when no one else is around. It's sweet and comical. But we desire to raise respectful, God-honoring children. I'm not saying that you can't raise such kids if they go to public school. I should just make that disclaimer at the beginning of this post! Anyway, she learns how to play with other kids (my 4th grade teacher would be cringing if she read this post...she always hated the use of 'kids' instead of 'children'!!) by playing with her brothers, friends, at art class, and at the homeschool co-op. It isn't as though she sits at home in her room, alone, all day long with no interaction with others! I just came across this article about a huge research survey done about this very subject. It's a very good article and kind of just proves the point that most homeschoolers have been trying to prove for years. Read it here. So anyway, when someone (even my Mom has asked about socialization! :)) expresses concern about my children's socialization, I usually just smile and nod. Most people aren't ready/willing to hear and listen to the answer (this doesn't include you Mom)!
How long will we homeschool? We have no idea. We're taking it year by year. We plan to do it again with Anna next year. I'll work more specifically with Jacob next year for preschool. After that, God only knows (literally!). This much I do know...I have absolutely loved having all of my children at home. They have forged stronger bonds, learned more life lessons, and grown closer than they could have had they been in school all day, apart from each other. And this I also know...Isaac will be ready for school by the time he's 2! :)

He always wants to be right there with us, sitting in a chair/desk, "working" along with big sister!

These last couple of weeks have been a struggle for this girl. She is soooooo ready for summer break (so is Mama)! I plan on schooling throughout the summer, but we'll still take a break for a couple weeks here and there. It allows us to take longer breaks during the school year and it keeps everything fresh in her mind all summer instead of losing so much of it. Then we won't have to spend the first month in the fall reviewing half of what she learned in 1st grade! Anna has thrived with homeschooling. She loves being home with me and her brothers. She works so hard and is really taking off in every subject. Actually, some of the "social" aspects on her report cards from last year have improved solely because of homeschooling! Her biggest issues in kindergarten on her report card were working independently and completing her work in a timely manner. Because she is homeschooled and because I have other things (namely ISAAC!) that require my attention, she has, out of necessity, learned to be a self-motivated, independent worker! She has also had to learn to block out distractions and work in spite of them...i.e. Isaac screaming, Isaac trying to climb into her chair, Isaac pulling her hair (we had to move her desk away from the steps so he couldn't do that!), Isaac banging on the door/desk/you-name-it. Do you notice a pattern? ISAAC is a DISTRACTION! But she's a better student because of it! :)
So there you have. I'm a homeschooling, cloth-diapering mama! *shakes head* I can't believe it. Part 3 coming before next year.....