Survive Cold and Flu Season with this List

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Just don't let a minion give you your flu shot!

Just don’t let a minion give you your flu shot!

Well, cold and flu season is upon us as the leaves change colors and begin to cover our front lawn.  I love fall and everything that comes with it, accept those dreaded soar throats, congestion, and body aches.  With seven people in our house, it’s nearly impossible to get through the fall and winter months without any cold or flu symptoms sneaking in to spoil the holiday season.

Here are just a few things I like to keep on hand to get us through those unfortunate times when those little organic lifeforms get us down.

 

 

    1.  Soup (I would recommend something organic with garlic)
    2. Vitamin C drops or supplements
    3. Lozenges/Cough Drops (Try Ricola Extra Strength Cough Drops)
    4. Cough Syrup (I like Matys All Natural Kids Cough Syrup or make your own!)
    5. Nasal Spray
    6. Kleenex
    7. Orange Juice
    8. Tea (I recommend the Seasonal Tea Sampler)
    9. Tylenol Cold and Flu
    10. Children’s/Infants’ Tylenol
    11. Apple Sauce
    12. Clorox Wipes
    13. Water/VitaminWater

In addition to all of the personal care items above, you’ll obviously need lots of sleep.  So, plan for someone else to watch the kids if you’re the one that’s down for the count.  Don’t push it, or you’ll get worse and won’t be able to take care of anyone!  You’ll need someone to take care of you!  So, everyone get lots of sleep to prevent and fight sickness.

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Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! For Breakfast!

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0001167_banana-chocolate-chip-mojo-muffins_200Now, I’m not really much of a cake person, but I do love me some muffins!  A nice warm muffin, cinnamon roll, or even a stack of pancakes with my coffee in the morning really hits the spot.  But, where’s the all important protein and fiber in those foods?  And, should we really be eating all of those calories if we want to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight?  Those are some good questions!

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and Women’s Health, a study showed that “those who ate more calories in the first half of the day lost significantly more weight and demonstrated better metabolic activity than those who ate heavily in the evening.”  And, what about protein?  Check out the visual below to learn what protein can do for you and why it’s good to eat it in the morning.

 

Protein, The Building Blocks Of Your BodyFrom Visually.

*Eating most of your protein in the morning can keep you feeling satisfied and help reduce your carb cravings throughout the day.  It will boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite.

Fiber is also important in the morning.  According to many experts, including Chris Powell, fiber is very important and should be included in your morning meal.  The morning is also the best time to consume your carbs for the day.  Getting all of these things in the morning will help curb appetite, flush out toxins, and give you the energy to get through the day.

As a mother of 5, I’m always looking for ways to keep my energy level up.  But, I still love those muffins!  Of course, most muffins don’t have a ton of protein in them.  But, I refused to give up my morning muffin!!  All I had to do was find an alternative to the low nutrient temptations I craved.  So, I scoured my usual food finding places, like Amazon and Peapod.  I also checked my local grocery store and Costco.  Anything high in protein was usually in the form of a bar or bland cereal with nuts.  The only muffins I found with a high protein and fiber content were the FlapJacked muffins that come in individual cups.  Sounds easy enough, just add water and stick it in the microwave.  And, Voila!  You get 20 grams of protein in a cup.  Now, let’s see how much they cost…hmmmm.  $24.99 for 6 cups!!!  Are you kidding me?  Well, that’s just not going to happen.  I guess I’ll just have to make them myself.

*Update 02/01/16:  I did make some pretty awesome protein pancakes recently that turned out amazing… and they’re gluten free!  Check out my Instagram for the recipe.  I don’t always have the time to experiment, but here’s what I came up with.

 

Well, I don’t have a ton of time on my hands, but I suppose if I found a good recipe or something I could whip up some yummy protein muffins.  So, I went searching for recipes.  I found this website that gave me a list of 20 protein muffin recipes.  Some of them had high protein content, but those recipes called for protein powder.  Protein powder isn’t cheep and usually comes in huge tubs.  I still felt like I needed something easier, like a muffin mix.

Ok, well sometimes gourmet and direct sales companies have uncommon foods.  So, maybe I’ll find a company that has high protein baked goods and maybe some other healthy breakfast options.  I started searching online for a company that had what I was looking for.  I went through a few different companies before coming across what looked like a brand new company called “Crave It!”  I guess “Crave It” is the sister company to “Do You Bake?”  They make food mixes with all real ingredients, including a protein banana chocolate chip muffin mix!  They also carry a line of protein smoothies, bars, pancakes, and more!  They even have some gluten free mixes that look really yummy.  I got so excited about the food, I just had to order some.  So, I went through the process of ordering and discovered that I could get 50% off my first order if I became an “ambassador.”  So, yea, I just had to take advantage of that.  I ordered the protein muffin mix, a Goin Green Smoothz, and a freezer meal kit.  I waited in anticipation for my package of yummy goodness to arrive.  It took FOREVER!  I guess it had a lot to do with the new year rush and the fact that they’re a newer company, and hopefully that their products were just that good.  I hoped that it was all worth the wait.  I didn’t want to have to search for another company to feed my obsession with baked goods in the morning.  After all, I had gotten the protein muffin mix from “Crave It” on sale AND got the ambassador discount.  SWEET!

Now for the moment of truth.  I opened my package to find gift bags full of mixes, cool looking noodles, a rice mix, and some kind of sauce.  It all looked so…so…time consuming.  Well, I certainly asked for it.  I mean, I just HAD to get that freezer meal kit, didn’t I?  With 5 kids, it’s always a good idea to stock up.  Ok, back to my protein muffins.  I pulled the box out and looked at what I would need to make the muffins.  Bananas…check, greek yogurt…add to list, and eggs.  Ok, that’s doable.  Now, let’s see how they turn out…

YUMMY!  Not too sweet… just right!  Only 5 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein per muffin (or 3 mini muffins.)  One box made 3 dozen mini muffins.  Since they are pretty filling, they should last a while.  I decided to freeze a bag of them for next week to keep them from going bad before I could enjoy them.

 

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The protein smoothie I got was also delicious and really convenient.  They come in individually wrapped bags for ease of use when you’re on the go.  So, when I’m at the gym and I don’t want to spend $5 on a protein smoothie from the smoothie bar, I just shake up my own protein smoothie/shake by filling my water bottle with water and the Smoothz powder.  Delicious and nutritious!  Yum!

 

Order Now

 

Just tried half a packet of this #smoothie mix and it was yummy! http://www.getfitwithcraveit.com

A photo posted by Marissa Schmucker (@mschmucker31) on

Since I love the products so far and I love what the company stands for, I’ve decided to promote the “Crave It” line of products on my blog to support the mission of both “Crave It” and FamFinFun.  We are all about promoting a healthy lifestyle and showing others how easy it can be with the right support and convenient, healthy food options.

*Update 02/01/16:  New for February 2016!  Get the “Crave It” breakfast bundle for only $31.95!!

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If you would like to support our mission and give your body what it needs, without sacrificing flavor, please browse our catalog below and order online here.  You can also enter to win a free packet of Smoothz protein powder here or have an online party.  Want to get 50% off your first order, make money, and help others make healthy choices?   Join me!

Join Our Growing Family Stand Up for REAL FOOD Banner

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Thank you for being a part of our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle!

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Sunshine and Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie

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I made up this smoothie this morning and I thought it was actually pretty good.  It’s packed full of good stuff and will keep you full for a good portion of the day.  The orange juice and peanut butter make for a surprisingly tasty combination.  You can always adjust the amount of each ingredient according to your own personal preference.  Enjoy!

minionbanana

1/2 frozen banana

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

2 tsp orange juice

2 tsp peanut butter without added sugar (Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter suggested)

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla suggested)

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup fresh organic spinach

 

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Why is Sleep So Important?

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When you have a newborn, a sick child, or you just can’t sleep because your brain won’t turn off, it can be hard getting enough sleep.  But, how much sleep is really enough sleep?  And, how important is sleep really?  Why do we need sleep?  And, what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

Sleep has been a struggle for me since my first child was born over 9 years ago.  Even after each of my babies started sleeping through the night, it was still hard getting to bed and falling asleep at a decent hour.  So, I’ve been through the effects of sleep deprivation, and it’s really no joke.

Sleep is important.  Not getting the sleep your body needs each night to refresh itself can lead to some serious side-effects.  These are just a few that I’ve experienced.

  1. Loss of Energy:  This, of course, is a given.  If you’re not getting sleep, you’re going to be tired and lack energy.  Depending on the severity of sleep deprivation, it may be difficult to keep moving throughout the day.  Your eyes may feel heavy, as well as the rest of your body at times.
  2. Irritability:  To put it plainly, you’re going to be crabby.  Just like a two year-old who misses a nap, it’s going to be tough keeping your emotions in check.  This can lead to a strain on relationships in addition to feelings of self-hatred and guilt.
  3. Depression:  When you feel tired and crabby all the time, it can be easy to slip into a state of depression.  When you feel depressed, you lose the desire to be social and can isolate yourself from others.  Again, not a good thing for relationships and even worse for your mental health.  This can also lead to a vitamin D deficiency if you’re not getting out of the house.
  4. Weakened Immune System:  That’s right!  Not getting enough sleep can make you sick!  And, everyone knows that being sick can disrupt whatever precious amount of sleep you do get.  So, this can get serious pretty fast if you don’t fix the problem.  No amount of vitamins and/or medicine, as great as those are, will help you out here if you’re not getting that much needed rest.
  5. Loss of Concentration:  Since your body hasn’t been given enough time to rework the wiring in your brain during sleep, you can suffer from what I call a fuzzy brain.  It can be hard concentrating on important tasks when you feel like your head was just stuffed with cotton or you have a few screws loose in there.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

 

 

So, how do we combat against sleep deprivation?  First, I think we need to look at the underlying causes.  The reason for my sleep deprivation may be different from yours and everyone else, but here are a few of the main ones.

crying_baby

  1. Stress/Anxiety:  This is a big one and it can come in all different forms.  What it really comes down to, though, is how your mind/body is handling life and everything it throws at you.  This was the main one for me this past year, since there are many things in my life I have little or no control over right now.
  2. Responsibilities:  Sometimes it’s a sick child that needs tending to, or maybe it’s a project that needs to be completed.  Whatever it is, you’re responsible for it/them and you’re losing sleep as a result of that responsibility.
  3. Caffeine/Sugar:  How’s your diet?  When you’re feeling tired, it’s easy to reach for that extra cup of coffee and eat whatever is quick and easy.  This is another one I struggle with.  I love a hot cup of coffee with flavored creamer in the morning and I’m not very good at preparing healthy meals in advance.  Still working on this one.
  4. Disorder/Sickness:  Maybe it’s just a stuffy nose keeping you up or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.  Getting uninterrupted sleep when there’s a battle going on in your body can seem impossible at times.

Now, think about what is keeping you up at night.  Is there anything you can do about it?

Yes!  There is hope! Take Your Pick.

  1. Take a vacation to relieve stress
  2. Write in a journal or pray to empty your brain before going to sleep
  3. Drink soothing tea like chamomile
  4. Cut back on caffeine and sugar and eat a well balanced diet
  5. Sticking to a routine can help everyone in your household sleep better
  6. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
  7. Cut back on screen time by limiting T.V and computer usage
  8. Get your heart rate up every day and make it fun!
  9. Get out of the house and into the sunshine
  10. See your doctor for more options

 

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Eating Healthy With Kids

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I have to confess, I most certainly have a sweet tooth and would be content to eat nothing but a bowl of ice cream for dinner.  But, ever since I had my first baby seven years ago, I’ve been struggling to be a good role model for my kids when it comes to eating healthy.  I may look like I have my eating under control, but even thin people struggle with the foods they eat.

We have everything at our finger tips here in the USA and in many other places around the world.  Just around the corner is a McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Dairy Queen!  I’m sure I’ve missed a few more fast food places in that list, but I’m sure you know how I’m feeling.  We all have to drive past those places on our way to school, work, the store, and even at the most vulnerable time when we’re all hungry after church on Sundays!  Am I right?  The kids never fail to ask if we could just stop for a while at McDonalds or get some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  The kid inside all of us would love to do that very thing every day.  But, we know exactly what that would lead to and we don’t want to go down that path.  Not only would our belts and budgets be busted, we would also experience the quantity and quality of life God has blessed us with diminishing with every cheeseburger and blizzard we buy.

There is a verse in scripture I was recently given a new perspective on.  Some parents take this verse to mean that if we teach our children about Christ, they will eventually believe and be saved.  I don’t, however, believe this verse has anything to do with salvation.

The verse is Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m sure you’re asking “What does that have to do with healthy eating?”  I’m getting there!  You’ll just have to bare with me, ok?

When you see the word “train” in scripture, very often it is used when speaking of war.  Soldiers were trained for battle so they would have the best chance of survival.  Although in most cases we are not training our children for a real physical battle, the Bible talks about another type of battle.  James 4 addresses the war within us that wages each and every day.  It is a war of “passions.”

We need to be training our children to face these passions at an early age and overcome them.  We all know that it is much easier to develop good habits when we’re young than to try breaking bad habits when we are older.  I believe that is at the root of that verse.  If we train our children to eat healthy and develop other good habits, they will not depart from those good habits when they are older.

eating

We should be establishing these good habits to ensure a bright future for our children and their children.  Not only are we at war within ourselves, we are also at war as a nation.  Our country is fighting obesity, diabetes, depression, and so many more conditions that are fueled by the foods we eat and our lack of physical activity.  If we fight against these bad habits now, our children are less likely to struggle as we do.

Throughout my childhood, and now into my adulthood, I have struggled with a sugar/carb addiction.  I never established good eating habits and I am now paying for it.  While in high school, I used to eat Fruity Pebbles for breakfast and come home after school to devour a few scoops of my favorite ice cream or get a blizzard at Dairy Queen after Tennis practice.  Sugar was my reward for almost everything.  It was my reward for waking up in the morning!  And, don’t even get me started on my birthday favorites.  Ok, I’ll get me started.  My birthday included French Toast (made with Wonder Bread) piled high with butter and powdered sugar, Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, and Pizza for dinner.  And, don’t forget the birthday cake made out of Oreos and Cool Whip!

You may be asking, “How are you not overweight?”  Well, the answer is very simple really.  I never ate large portions.  I would eat throughout the day in small portions.  This kept my metabolism up.  To this day, I still have a hard time finishing an entire meal.  It’s just not natural for me.

Although I may have my weight under control, my emotions have been taken on a rollercoaster.  When I eat nothing but carbs and sugar, I become very irritable and sometimes depressed.  My emotions are all over the place and I have a hard time focusing on tasks.  Being a Mom of four young children already keeps my emotions on high alert and keeps me from completing tasks.  I certainly don’t need to be feeding my frustrations with “crabby calories.”  Eating donuts in the morning for breakfast might be fun while you’re eating them, but just wait a little while after that and you’ll be more likely to snap at little Timmy for spilling his milk again.

 

It’s important to find a way to kick your sugar/carb cravings.

 

Teaching our children good manners, healthy eating, cleanliness, and self control at an early age will ensure a life of good habits and can even give them a better chance of survival in this world we live in.  A rude, unhealthy slob with no self control will not survive and thrive the way we want our children to.

 

Breaking Bad Habits

If you are one of the many people that struggle with a sugar addiction or you’re just looking for ways to change your families eating habits, here are a few simple steps you can take to become healthier.

Step 1:  Education

Get Educated!  Sit down as a family and watch a documentary on food and how it affects your health.  You can find some good videos at http://www.documentarystream.com/category/health/food/.  After you discover the facts as a family, discuss your findings.  Then, find some healthy recipes for meals you would all enjoy.

Step 2: Find Healthy Alternatives

Before you go on a rampage and throw out all of your favorite treats, you’ll want to take it one step at a time.  First, try replacing those treats with a healthier version of them.  I know these may cost more, but you are paying to keep the nutrients that your body uses to properly process the sugars.

 10 Healthy Alternatives to Kids Favorites

  1. Replace fruit snacks and gummy bears with dried fruit or Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit Rolls
  2. Replace refined sugar with date sugar, a whole food sweetener made by simply grinding up dates.  Date sugar can be used to replace white sugar or brown sugar in most baked goods and it tastes just as sweet!   Check out my recipe for date brownies!
  3. Replace chocolate with carob chips or powder.  Read about the benefits of carob at http://amazinghealth.com/AH-health-carob-chocolate-methylxanthines
  4. Replace ice cream and yogurt with unsweetened fruit smoothies.  Try the recipe book Green Smoothie Recipes & other Healthy Smoothie Recipes to get you started.  Or, just come up with your own smoothie recipes and have fun with the kids!
  5. Replace regular peanut butter with Natural or Organic Peanut Butter with NO Sugar.
  6. Replace Pancake Syrup with 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  7. Replace Jams and Jellies with 100% Fruit Preserves
  8. Have designated “snack” times throughout the day to avoid hungry tummies and over eating at meal time.  Great snacks include fruit, string cheese, carrots, and dried fruit and nut mixes.  Read about the benefits of Snacking.
  9. Try to have your children help or just be in the kitchen with you while you are making dinner.  They will be more likely to eat what you’re making if they can participate somehow in the meal preparation.  And, maybe they’ll learn something!
  10. Instead of delivery or frozen pizzas, try making your own!  My family and I love socca pizza and it’s really easy to make.  We got our recipe from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Recipe Book.

 

Step 3:  Drink More Water!!

Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated and keep you from over eating.  Sometimes your body just needs water, not a bar of chocolate!

Step 4:  Stay Active

For some reason, this is the hardest thing to do for most people.  As a mom, I get tired just watching my kids jump around.  It also doesn’t help when your body is being dragged down by junk food.  The first week I cut out refined sugar, I felt horrible!  I didn’t want to do anything or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was focus on getting through the week without putting a spoon full of ice cream in my mouth!  But, once I got past the first week, I found that I had much more energy.  Not only that, I also felt less irritable and had a clear head.

Once I got my energy back, I started to force myself to exercise.  I couldn’t understand why it was still so hard for me since I had the energy to get through the workouts now.  Suddenly, it dawned on me!  Exercise can be fun!  I just had to find an activity that I loved doing.  I tried going for a run and nearly died of boredom.  I know I love tennis, but now it’s the middle of winter.  I also don’t have the time to go to a fitness center or join any yoga or zumba classes.  So, I had to think of something I could do at home while taking care of my four kids.

One day, I finally found the ear buds/headphones I had been looking for.  I plugged them into my iPod and started dancing around the house as I did laundry, vacuumed, picked up toys and clothes, etc.  Not only did this give me a great workout, it made me happy!  The kids found it amusing and I’m sure they noticed that Mommy was in a better mood.  I had finally found something active that I loved to do… dancing!

Step 5:  Treat Yourself!

While you may have gotten rid of all the junk food in your house, there are still those temptations outside of the house.  Once you’ve cleansed your body and gotten into a clear state of mind, you most likely won’t crave the junk anymore.  But, don’t fool yourself!  Those memories of sinking your teeth into a gooey glazed donut will not fade as quickly as you hope.  You can still treat yourself once a week without giving in to your addiction once again.  You’ll find the less you eat the sugar and carb filled treats, the easier it is to pass them up and only have them once in a while.

It’s important to teach our children that cake and ice cream are for special occasions.  They shouldn’t be something you keep in the house to eat after every meal.  Once that has been established, you and your children will begin to enjoy the healthy treats.  Your interest in different flavors will grow, and life will be that much more exciting!

 

 

 

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I Hope You Dance

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I love dancing, don’t you?  How about music?  I like music too.  The two go hand in hand of course.  You can’t really have one without the other.  Even if you’re not dancing outwardly when you listen to music, I bet you’re dancing on the inside.  For the past couple days, I’ve been walking around my house with my iPod in my pocket and ear-buds in my ears.  My husband and children have caught me dancing many times.

I’ve found that music motivates me.  It motivates me to clean the house and keep going until the laundry and dishes are all done.  It motivates me to be active.  Dancing isn’t the only thing we do to music.  I often see people out walking or running with their MP3 Player.

Depending on the song, it can motivate me spiritually by lifting up my soul to my Creator God.  A life without music and dance is a life that is unfulfilled.  So, not only do I pray that you’ll be motivated by music… I hope you dance!!!!!!!!

 

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What is a “Me Day?”

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Candace Me DayOur family just loves the cartoon “Phineas and Pherb.”  If you have never seen it, you have got to give it a chance.  This past weekend, I was thinking about one of the episodes where Candice is determined to give herself a “Me Day.”  Most of her summer days are spent trying to “bust her brothers” as they are building or doing something crazy and amazing.  But, this day was different.  While watching this particular episode with my kids, I began to imagine myself as Candice.  She looked so comfortable and relaxed in her robe and slippers just zoned out in front of the TV.  Why couldn’t I have a day like that?  A day where I could just turn myself completely off.  A day with no responsibilities and no parental obligations.  A day that I could call a “Me Day?”

Then, I realized that I’m not a cartoon.  I am no longer a teenage girl with a long summer break.  Nor am I a robot that can just be switched on and off.  I am a wife and a lover, a mother and a teacher, a sister and a friend.  I am a child of God, an intelligent human being, a lover of all that is good.  I am a blogger, an inspirational book reader, a gluten-free baker and cook.  I am a movie critic, a ballerina at heart, a quiet yet quirky soul.  I am a seeker of truth, an often overwhelmed thinker, a half-done homemaker.  I am Me!

So, what IS a “Me Day?”

To me, a “Me Day” is a day in which I am truly myself.  A day that is filled with everything and everyone that I love.  When I get to the end of a “Me Day,” I have the feeling of calm confidence and accomplishment.  I will have gotten up early to take a shower and make a large breakfast (something I did not do today!)  I will have spent time in quiet prayer and devotion before my oldest heads off to school.  I will have spent time playing with my children, connecting with friends and family, and writing notes of encouragement to my husband.  I will have danced to at least one song.  I will have eaten balanced meals and taken a walk to the park with my children.  I will have spent time teaching my children something new and written an inspiring blog post.  In the evening, I will have made a healthy and delicious meal for dinner.  After dinner, my husband would have taken over the parenting for the day while I get out of the house.  At the end of the day, I am in bed by 9pm for time with my husband.  By 10:30pm, we have talked about our day and spent time praying and preparing for the next day.  That would be my “Me Day.”

DepressionMost of my days, however, I would not call “Me Days.”  Most of my days start out with me throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt.  I get out the cereal for everyone to eat and quickly read through a Bible verse.  I rush through my morning, fill the dishwasher, and start folding laundry.  My 5 yr old and 2 yr old watch educational television while I take care of the baby.  Once the baby goes down for a nap, I plop on the couch to watch TV with my kids.  After a morning inside, we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and take naps.  Since I have not eaten healthy food or had any exercise so far, my energy level is low and I don’t feel like doing much.  I sit down at my computer and have nothing to blog about, so I spend an hour or two watching a show on Hulu or browsing the web.  The kids get up from naps and I’ve hit another low point.  With the kids energy levels at their highest and my energy level at it’s lowest, this causes tension.  I rush to get laundry and dishes put away before it’s time to start dinner.  Since I didn’t spend any time thinking about dinner, I only have enough time to make something simple and high in carbohydrates.  My husband comes home with no desire to take on the mess he sees and quickly heads for the couch after grabbing a couple bites of pasta.  Since the kids have had no outlet for their energy, we spend the evening trying to relax while yelling for the kids to stop jumping around.  We rush to get them in bed and calm them down.  Exhaustion sets in and we both fall asleep by 9:30pm before saying a word to each other.

Normally, after a day like that, it is hard to recover.  I quickly realize that turning myself off like that only makes me feel worse.  It does not refresh the body or the soul when you have a day like that.  In fact, being unhealthy, tired, and overwhelmed can lead to depression.  Not what I’m going for!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

We were not created to work ourselves into the ground.  Nor were we created to sit around and do nothing all day.  God has created us to “do good works.”  Those good works generally involve being a servant to others.  If we are not serving others on a daily basis, then we are not being who God has created us to be.  That is how I see it.  If I’m not being who God created me to be, then I’m not being ME!  How can I have a “Me Day” when I’m not being who God has called ME to be?

Now, I have never asked my readers a real question before, and I’m not sure If anyone is even going to read this.  But, I’d like to know.  What does your “Me Day” look like?  Try to picture a day where you’d feel the most like yourself.  I would LOVE to encourage you to be who God has created you to be!

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Public School or Home School?

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Abigail and Eliza
2nd Gr and K-4

We’ve had a lot going on these past couple weeks.  It all started when my husband and I finally went on a long overdue date, thanks to our wonderfully gracious Mothers who offered to watch the kids for a few hours.  We were able to talk through many things that have been looming over our heads during the summer months.  One topic in particular was the topic of this year’s homeschooling curriculum.  I had been asking him for weeks to help me get things set in stone for our 7 year old to start 3rd Grade Math and 2nd Grade Reading, Writing, Science, and so on.  We had gone through most of her 2nd Grade workbooks last year, but we were interrupted by my husband’s new job and our newborn baby boy, Timmy.

My husband had been able to help with homeschooling up until March of this year when he started his job as a web developer for a new company and was no longer able to work from home twice a week.  I had especially been needing help since our baby boy, Timmy, was born in December of last year.  Plus, I’m not always on top of things when he’s not there cheering us on.  So, needless to say, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  Our heads just weren’t in the game like they should be.

Our conversation began over a couple of mocha shakes around 7pm.  We knew it was going to be a long night, so coffee sounded like a good choice at the time.  We began talking about what our schedules were going to look like for the Fall Season.  My husband talked about his desire to improve his health and activity level and I expressed the same desire.  We talked about the time we would need to focus on that and added that into the schedule.  Then, we began discussing our spiritual health.  We both would be signing up for our separate small groups in addition to our Sunday morning meetings with another couple at our church.  These things were all added to the schedule. Add in the date nights and grocery shopping trips every week and we had a full schedule to say the least.  Plus, my husband decided then and there that he would be signing up for a History course at our area technical college!  Well, that would mean that he would be maxed out for time.

After taking a few good sips of our mocha shakes, we came to the topic of education for our children.  Since being married, we had always thought that homeschooling would be a great adventure and superior to any public school education.

Some things we thought homeschooling would offer:

  • Flexibility with schedule and curriculum
  • A closer relationship with our children
  • A faith-based alternative to public school curriculum
  • The ability to advance our children as we see fit
  • Giving our children one-on-one teaching
  • Allowing our children to take part in daily activities and chores
  • A superior education and learning experience

What we’ve now discovered that homeschooling offers (in addition to those listed above):

  • An often stressful environment for parents with many small children
  • Distractions are everywhere!
  • Organization is a MUST!
  • Learning can take place at any time, not just during the day
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Having Mom in your face every day doesn’t.
  • “… with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  Having more than one teacher is a good thing!
  • A superior education and learning experience may be hindered at home

After discussing our findings from the previous homeschooling year, we trudged on to our options for the upcoming school year.  It was already mid-August!  What could be done?  We reflected on our public school experience and the statistics for the schools in our area.  We knew that our children would be in good hands if we were to enroll them in the public elementary school close to our home.  Our county schools are known for educational excellence.  If we were living in the city, we would not even have considered enrolling them in a public school.  But, we love the county we live in and know many of the people in it.

Our conclusion?  Add “start 2nd grade at the local elementary school” on to the schedule for our 7 yr old and call it a night!

The weeks following our date night were busy to say the least.  My days have been filled with paper work, e-mails, and phone calls to the school.  I was able to get my 7 yr old, Abigail, enrolled in 2nd grade and couldn’t be happier about our decision.  Everyone at the school has been very helpful and Abigail is super duper excited to start school next week!  I will still be homeschooling my soon-to-be 5 yr old (on Sept. 7th) since I couldn’t get her enrolled in Kindergarten for this year.  She is sad, but I know she will work extra hard this year to prepare for Kindergarten next year.  She may even be able to skip right to 1st grade!  Not sure she’ll want to, though.

We’re all excited for Fall and look forward to a year filled with learning and growing!

 

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How We Made Extra Money Using Craigslist, Ebay, and Rummage Sales

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I love looking on Craigslist at what people in my area are selling or trying to barter.  It can be a great place to find stuff you need, sell stuff that you don’t need, or resell something to make extra money.  Sometimes you can even find some good stuff for free that you can sell to make extra money!  This weekend, I will be listing a bunch of our stuff on Craigslist to make extra money.  We’re hoping to get enough money to replenish our emergency fund after we cleaned it out to buy a used van (more about that later.)

I would normally blog about Frugality on Fridays, but I’ve decided to combine topics today.  Topics will include Frugality, Fitness, and Fun.  And, they will all relate to making extra money with Craigslist somehow.  So, here we go…

Frugality

  • Make extra money by listing things you don’t need anymore on Craigslist.  Easy, right?  Just look around your house, take some pictures of the things you don’t need anymore, and post it on Craigslist for free!  Then, just wait for someone to call you, pay you, and pick it up. And, if there’s no one in your area that wants it, there’s sure to be someone out there in eBay Land that wants it.  We actually tried selling a Limited Edition Harley Davidson Leather Jacket on Craigslist, had someone come take a look at it, and they passed it up for $300.  Then, we listed it on eBay with a starting bid of $0.99 with no reserve.  The winning bidder paid $600!  So, we made twice as much money by listing it on eBay.
  • Save money when you purchase things on Craigslist.  Make sure you don’t pay the asking price by offering to pay cash at a lower price.  We bought our used mini van off of Craigslist just yesterday.  We offered them cash if they would knock off $600.  They agreed and we are now the proud owners of a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country that we paid only $2800 for.  Many people are more than willing to negotiate and come down on their asking price.  Just have the courage to ask and bring cash if you can.Garage Sale
  • Have a Rummage Sale and list it on Craigslist!  Some of my family will be having a rummage sale this weekend and I was more than willing to put an ad on Craiglist for them.  Why wouldn’t you put your rummage sale on Craigslist?  It’s free advertising!  Of course you’re going to list your rummage sale on Craigslist when it’s free!  Who’s going to pass up free advertising?

Fitness

  • So, I purchased a Malibu Pilates Chair with 3 Workout DVDs from a woman off of Craigslist for only $25!  It was still in the box!  Everything was still in the packaging.  It retails for around $500!  It will give you a great workout if you have a little extra space.  Sadly, I found that we don’t have a little extra space.  At least not any usable space.  Having 4 small children doesn’t really allow for personal space other than our bedroom.  If I were to set the chair up (which I did by the way) in my living room, my kids would think I had bought a jungle gym for them to play on in the house (which they did by the way.)  My two year old especially couldn’t keep his hands off of it.  So, back in the box it will go.  I’m still debating whether I should keep it or sell it and make some money off it.  I’m leaning toward selling it to make some extra money.
  • The Malibu Pilates Chair is a great exercise tool and would be great to have if I had my own workout room.  I’ve discovered, though, that I really only need a couple of 3 pound weights and an exercise mat to get a good workout.  I’m thinking that I’ll try making a couple hundred dollars off of the Malibu Pilates Chair and put that money toward my healthy food plan.  What is my healthy food plan you ask?  It’s simply that, a plan to eat healthy.  I plan… to eat healthy!  But, healthy food costs a lot more than empty calories.  So, we just have to make it a priority to eat healthy.  Which means, any money we can spare will go toward healthy eating.  It’s a work in progress.  Just put some of that “extra money” toward buying some cook books with gluten free and sugar free recipes.  I made the gluten free/sugar free chicken fingers last night and they were AWESOME!

FUN!

  • Isn’t it fun to go to rummage sales?  I just love looking through all of the junk until something catches my eye.  My husband and I mostly go looking for things that we can purchase for less than $50 and sell for over $100.  We did make a large purchase one time, though.  My husband found a Vintage Slingerland Drum Kit and paid $300 for it.  We turned around and sold it for $800.  That was the most we’ve ever made on a resale item.  And, the whole experience of buying it and finding out how much it was really worth was a lot of FUN!  It’s such a thrill!
  • When finding things on Craigslist, at rummage sales, and at thrift stores, it’s not really about making money.  Making extra money is a nice outcome.  But, for me, it’s mostly about FUN!  It’s fun to hunt for treasure!
  • Want to read some Mindless Banter about Rummage Sales?  Check out my husband’s blog post.  You’ll either laugh until you cry or be completely dumbfounded.
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