Category Archives: Random

Kids in the Kitchen

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Kids in the Kitchen

Several years ago (before twins), my first two children enjoyed helping me cook, and I enjoyed teaching them. I took pictures of them and created a digital scrapbook with some of our favorite recipes at the time. I gave these to all the grandparents and great-grandparents for Christmas that year. We use this as a cookbook frequently in our home.

I had intended to create a new scrapbook each year, but life got busy, and we had more kids, and sometimes it was hard to cook at all. I had my son take this photo so I could look back on it one day and smile. It was so exasperating at the time to have two toddlers crying and clinging to me while I tried to cook dinner, but I knew it wouldn’t always be that way.

Once all four of the little people started asking to help in the kitchen with me, I was quickly overwhelmed. They all started doing different things, and I wasn’t ready! Oh, the messes! I was also stressed about not being able to keep an eye on each one for safety reasons. A wise friend told me she has her boys take turns helping her on different nights of the week. I need to work out a calendar for my children to take turns helping.

This evening, we had breakfast for dinner, and I decided to delegate some tasks to the kids. The twins went to the barn to get more eggs, and then they took turns whisking the eggs. Big brother wanted sausage, egg, and cheese burritos. The twins wanted pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs. (Big sister is staying the night with a friend.) Then the girls took turns mixing up the pancake batter and posing for some silly photos.

While the bacon cooked in the oven, I had the girls help cook the eggs in each pan. They swapped pans when the eggs were almost set. Silly girls! Big brother kept an eye on the bacon and removed it from the oven when it was done.

Once the girls had bacon and eggs, I started on the pancakes and let them start eating. It’s a little chaotic having two five year olds help with dinner, but their smiles make it worthwhile. Maybe I’ll start on volume two of our Kids in the Kitchen scrapbook series, but don’t look for it to be completed any time soon. At the rate I’m going, I won’t have enough photos for a cooking scrapbook for a few years! I need to get that cooking schedule for the kids figured out first.

Click here for a pancake recipe. We still use this basic recipe. Unfortunately, the girls prefer white flour and no flax seed in their pancakes, so we just use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour and ground flax seed.

For the breakfast burritos, we use one pound of pork sausage, crumbled and browned on medium heat. Then we lower the heat and add a dozen scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are set, we add about 1 1/2 cups of freshly shredded cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Don’t cook it too long, or the cheese will melt completely, and you won’t be able to tell it’s in there. My son hates that. Enjoy!

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Family Fun

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Family Fun

My mom and step-father came to visit us today, and they spent some time with the kids in the pool. A couple of the kids wouldn’t cooperate for a group photo, so this was the best I could get. I’m glad they were able to come and spend the day with us.

This boy has had a growth spurt recently. He has grown two full inches since his birthday in January! He is now 5′ 4 1/4″, which means I’m only one inch taller than him, and he will be taller than me in a few months.

Big sister didn’t want her photo taken, but I was able to snag one with her carrying the watermelon ball. My kids love that silly ball, but they don’t play with it like the directions suggest. They like to play solo instead of a group game, which means they usually end up fighting over who gets to play with it.

Little sister was happy to pose for a photo with Grammy in the background. When we first started swimming again this year, the twins told me they needed more swimming lessons. They wore their puddle jumpers the first few times they swam, but they are jumping in and swimming across the pool now. They also love to throw dive rings and torpedos in the pool and dive to get them. Ms. Alisha taught them well the last three summers!

Sissy was too busy swimming and diving to stop for a photo. She kept asking me last week to teach her to swim on top of the water, so I tried helping her swim freestyle, but that’s not what she really wanted. Yesterday, I finally figured out that she wanted to learn to tread water and dog paddle. That was easy for her to learn.

Before we got in the pool, I asked my mom to take a photo of me and the kids. I had to convince big sis to change out of a hot pink shirt so we could all match. This photo shows the dramatic height difference between my oldest two children. They are only 2 1/2 years apart but 12 inches apart in height! Big sis is 4 1/2 years older than the twins but only six to seven inches taller than them. We literally take clothes from her closet and pass them directly to the girls now. I expect all the girls to be in the same size clothing at some point in the near future unless big sis has a sudden growth spurt.

We had fun as a family today. I hope you were able to enjoy some time with your family today too!

My Gluten-Free Experiment

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I debated whether or not to share this online, but I thought my experience might help other women, so be warned that this is of a highly feminine and personal nature (men may want to just ignore this post).  

This wasn’t my first time to eliminate a food from my diet.  While nursing my first daughter (second child), I quit eating tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers (the nightshade family) because these foods in my breast milk irritated her stomach.  If you know me at all, you will understand how difficult this was for me.  I LOVE spicy foods.  I add cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, salsa, jalapeños, and/or Ro-tel to almost everything I eat.  However, it was worth it to avoid the awful blowouts, ruined outfits, and smelly diapers.  

After I had the twins, we quickly realized that one of them had an intolerance to dairy in my milk, so I eliminated dairy for several months.  This was not as hard for me as the previous exclusions had been (except for the ice cream!).  I learned how to cook with coconut oil, almond milk, coconut milk, etc., and it was completely beneficial for everyone.  My baby was able to sleep and so were we.  

Eliminating gluten came in a round-about way.  A few years ago (while not consuming dairy and for awhile after), I had a weird, mild stomach pain that didn’t seem to be connected to anything I ate.  I saw my physician who ordered an ultrasound to check my gallbladder, even though my symptoms weren’t consistent with gallstones (no sharp pains, no nausea, not occurring after eating fatty foods, etc.).   The ultrasound showed two small stones, and my doctor wanted me to schedule surgery.  I’m a firm believer in keeping the body parts God gave me unless absolutely necessary, so I opted to change my diet and not undergo surgery.  The pain eventually stopped occurring, and I was glad I didn’t have surgery.  

Ever since I had my first daughter, I have had very heavy menstrual cycles.  So heavy on a couple of the days that I felt I couldn’t leave the house.  I was in the restroom every thirty minutes, and even then I might have to change clothes.  I discussed this with my OB/GYN, and my options were limited to some sort of birth control, which I did not want to use since I had my tubes tied after the twins were delivered.  I just dealt with it each month.  I tried various essential oils with mild effects.  I returned to my OB/GYN to discuss ablation or any other option.  She refused to perform an ablation on me because I’ve had multiple pregnancies, and the risks for me outweigh the benefits.  She informed me that I needed to take action because I would end up in the hospital from losing too much blood one of these days.  (My periods would last at least a week, and then I would have a couple of dry days before bleeding again for a couple of days.)  My doctor prescribed the low dose pill for me to try for a few months, starting mid-February, and the pill definitely did lighten my cycles.  

I spent all day on April 13th preparing food for our annual Easter egg hunt on Good Friday.  I made a lot of foods that contain gluten, and I sampled them throughout the day.  By that evening, I was having severe pain in my abdominal area and had trouble sleeping all night.  The next day, the pain continued to increase until my back hurt as well.  I was tempted to go to the ER, but the pain stopped by bedtime Friday night.  I decided Friday morning that I would eat clean for a few days in case it was a gluten issue or a gallbladder issue.  I did some research on both and discovered that birth control pills can contribute to gallbladder disease, so I quit taking those as soon as I finished the last two active pills.  I also read that gluten can contribute to menstrual problems, so I decided to conduct an experiment.  I would eliminate gluten for a few months and see if anything changed.  I visited my physician on Monday to make sure I didn’t need to have any tests run or anything.  He supported my decision to eliminate gluten.  

Three months and four cycles later, I am pleased to report that my experiment has been successful.  I figured the first two cycles would be lighter because I had been on the pill, so I continued to eliminate gluten to see what would happen.  While I still have one heavy day during each cycle, I only need to visit the restroom every two hours on that day, which is a vast improvement for me.  My cycle is also much shorter, lasting about five days, but the best thing is not having any bleeding between cycles.  I am planning to continue to eat gluten-free indefinitely.  I will visit with my OB/GYN on Monday and share my findings with her.

As I said when I began this post, I’m hoping my experiences will help other women who have similar issues.  It is not easy to cook without gluten, certainly not for my family, but it is possible.  Even though I struggled when I eliminated the nightshade family and later dairy, those were easier for me because I knew I only needed to do it for a short time (less than a year).   Not having an end in sight makes this elimination more daunting.  However, a friend told me that she allows her daughter to have gluten occasionally without her daughter experiencing symptoms.  She said it takes five days to get it out of her system, so I allowed myself to eat some cheesecake last weekend when my husband and I had a rare date night.  I don’t think the small amount of flour in the crust will have any adverse effects on my next cycle, but I guess that is to be determined.

Let me know if you have experienced similar issues or if you have some great gluten-free recipes.  I’d love to hear from you!  I have been experimenting with gluten-free flours and pastas, but I’m always willing to try something new.  

Two Months of Eating Less and Moving More

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Two Months of Eating Less and Moving More

When I began this weight loss journey over two months ago, my goal was to lose 20 pounds over the next four months.  The first two months have gone well with 5.8 pounds and 5.6 pounds lost each month.  While weight loss was my goal, I’m even more pleased with the inches that have come off and the way my clothes fit now!  

From July 26th to October 1st, I have lost 13 pounds, 3.5 inches on my waist, 1.5 inches on my hips, 2.0 inches on my right thigh, 1.25 inches on my right calf, and just over an inch on my upper right arm. I couldn’t see much change in my photos on September 1st, but I can definitely see the difference now, and I am so pleased that my determination and hard work have paid off.  


I know this isn’t the dramatic weight loss some of my friends have experienced following different plans and using various weight loss products, but I choose to do things the old-fashioned way–eat less and move more.  I lost a lot of baby weight too fast after I had the twins, and my stomach skin is still loose.  I would rather lose this weight slowly and be able to avoid any more loose skin.  I don’t if my belly will ever be tight again. 


About six weeks ago, my first period students were complaining about being tired and getting up “early” that morning.  I told them I had been up since 4:30 am.  They asked me why, so I told them that I work out in the mornings before school.  They asked why again, so I told them about my goal to lose twenty pounds.  They asked why a third time, and I said something about wanting to lose the weight I had put on after having the twins.  They didn’t seem to think that was a good reason.  I couldn’t tell them that I really just want my stomach to be flatter than my chest!  I can tell I’ve lost inches in both places, so I may never achieve that goal, but I will keep trying. 

A friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook last week in support of his wife who has worked her butt off (literally) the past year and lost over 100 pounds. I love this saying, and I will continue to do what I need to do to achieve my goals. 

First Goal Exceeded!

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First Goal Exceeded!

I am so excited about beating my weight loss goal of five pounds for August!  After a rough two weeks with no loss, I buckled down the last 10 days of the month and started really watching what I ate.  It paid off more than I expected. 


Since August 1st, I have lost 5.8 pounds.  I have lost 1.5 inches on my waist at my belly button and 1.25 inches on my waist at its narrowest, 3/4 inch on my hips, 1/2 inch on each thigh, and 3/8 inch on my upper arm.  I gained 3/8 inch on my calf unfortunately. 


I can’t tell much difference between my photos a month ago and today.  My kids took the photos, so it was hard to get the exact same angle.  My son said my butt looked smaller, and I agree, but it could just be the different angle.  The capri pants I wore yesterday were hanging about three inches too low by the end of the day, so I have definitely lost inches.  It’s wonderful to see some progress.  Just 14 pounds to go!


If you are taking this weight loss journey with me, let me know how you did for August.  Let’s encourage each other to continue moving more and eating less. 

Week 5 Progress

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Since school started, I have not been able to work out at least five days each week.  I need to get up at 5:00 am just to get myself and my four kids ready to leave the house by 7:15, and I have been staying up late almost every night to work on school things, so getting up earlier than 5:00 am hasn’t been an option until today.  I worked hard all weekend on lesson plans, worksheets, doodle notes, grading, etc., so that I was able to go to bed at 9:30 last night and wake up at 4:30 this morning.  I enjoy starting my day with a workout.  It wakes me up and makes me feel productive. 

Last Tuesday, I adjusted my calorie goal because I am not exercising as frequently as I had been, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to shed another two and a half pounds by the end of this month if I continued with my 1800 calorie limit.  I ate between 1400 and 1500 calories everyday (except Friday) this past week, and I only have one pound remaining to reach my goal for August.  I will update on September 1st to let you know if I reached my goal or not. 

The yellow on the graph means I ate over 500 calories less than what I expended, which is fine because the other option on my app was 700 calories below, and I didn’t want to be that limited. My previous goal was to eat less than 1800 calories a day, so this has been a big change.  I am hungry often, but I will drink water and remind myself not to give in because I will reward myself with a fun size Snickers at the end of the day.  This has worked for a whole week.  I will continue with this reward system.  

I have lost 5.6 pounds since July 26th, but I would like to lose another 15 pounds.  My goal for September is another five pounds.  If you committed to going on this journey with me, let me know how you have done this month.  I’d love to hear from others what is working for you. 

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

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If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

I get so frustrated when I wake up early to work out and my little girls get up before I can finish or, sometimes, even start working out.  Today was one of those mornings.  I woke up at 6:00 am and got ready to work out.  I remembered that I needed to post an answer key for my students’ weekend homework, and while I was doing that, I heard a little voice yelling for me.  She woke her sister, and neither one of them would go back to sleep because they were hungry.  I don’t understand how they can be hungry before the sun rises after eating dinner at 9:00 pm the night before, but I gave them each a bowl of cereal, thinking I could still work out while they were eating.  They saw their “thumbs up” coloring sheets (from gymnastics) on the table and asked for crayons so they could color them.  After last week’s crayon catastrophe (see photos below), I wasn’t about to leave them alone with crayons.  

Little Sister said she was trying to draw circles on the floor.


I made her pose with her “artwork”.

She said she drew a butterfly on this wall.

It took her a long time, but she was able to remove most of the crayon off the floors and baseboards by herself. The walls had to be repainted, and my husband spent awhile working on the grout in the kitchen.

So I stayed in the kitchen and put away dishes, started working on our September menu, and ate breakfast.  Then, the girls wanted to go outside, and after a few minutes, they asked if we could go for a walk, which means they ride their bicycles while I jog along beside them and then push them up hills and over all bumpy, rocky, and uneven areas.  I get a good workout doing this, so we went for a “walk” for about 30 minutes.  

They took their babies along for the ride.


We need to work on losing the training wheels, so I don’t have to stop and push them every time they get stuck. Big Brother rode without training wheels at 4 years and 3 months. Big Sister rode without them at 4 years and 11 months. Three years and six months might be a little early, but I may try it when it gets a little cooler.  

After our “walk”, I was not as grumpy as I was earlier this morning.  I felt that if I made the effort to get up early, I should have been able to work out.  I need to remember when I can’t beat them in the mornings, I should just let them join me in exercising.  It’s definitely better than not exercising at all.  

Week 1 Progress

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The experts say you should lose no more than two pounds a week, so I allowed myself to eat up to 1800 calories a day.  I was afraid this would be too many calories, but my workouts have enabled me to eat a little more than I would be able to otherwise.  I will continue with my current daily calorie goal until my weight plateaus, and then I’ll make adjustments.  

First thing this morning, I weighed and took my measurements.  I am down 1.6 pounds since last Tuesday, which puts me at an even 145, which works out perfectly for my goal of losing five pounds each month.  I like for my numbers to be nice and neat.  I didn’t lose any inches on my hips, but I lost a whole inch on my waist at its narrowest point.  My other measurements ranged between 1/4-inch and 3/4-inch less than last week, so I feel good about my progress.  Slowly but surely, the weight and inches will come off.  


I am eating a balanced diet with plenty of lean protein and vegetables.  I usually eat leftover dinner casseroles/entrees for lunch, but sometimes there are no leftovers, and I need something that is healthy and filling, so I have made a large salad for lunch each day.  I don’t usually enjoy salads because there are very few dressings I will eat, but I love a salad piled high with meat and vegetables.   Yesterday, I added some grilled chicken leftover from dinner last week.  This was delicious without any dressing. 


The day before, I topped my salad with leftover taco meat from dinner last week. I used a head of romaine hearts, tomatoes from my garden, about a quarter cup each of corn (leftover) and black beans (another leftover), and one ounce of pepper jack cheese (yes, I measured it on my digital kitchen scale).


I was out of leftover meat today, so I added extra black beans and corn.  I planted an heirloom tomato plant this year, and it has large yellow tomatoes that have a wonderful flavor.  I topped my salad today with one of those tomatoes that my daughter picked fresh from the vine.  It was fabulous.

What are your favorite lunch options?  If you eat salads, what are your favorite toppings?  

Weekends, Working Out, and Weighing In

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Our family calendar is set up with weeks beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday, but I prefer to think of Monday as the beginning of my week.  My kids have Daily Checklists that start on Monday, I start reciting my weekly Bible verses on Monday, the workweek begins on Monday, etc.  I think of the weekend as a unit, not as Saturday belonging to the past week and Sunday belonging to the next week.  Therefore, I usually plan to start new things on Monday.  However, I weighed and posted my weight-loss goals last Tuesday and started working out on Wednesday.  I’m looking forward to beginning August on a Monday and continuing to work on my goals.  I have resisted weighing myself since Tuesday because I know weight fluctuates, and I don’t want to be discouraged by weighing too often.  I plan to weigh every Monday morning and share my progress.

Many of you replied here or on Facebook that you were committing to get in shape with me, and I hope you will share what you are doing to get healthy and your success stories as they come.  The scale isn’t the only measuring tool for success, so be sure to take some measurements to compare later.  I measured my waist at its narrowest, my waist at my belly button, my hips, my right thigh, my right calf, and my right upper arm.  These are the areas in which I am hoping to lose significant inches.

I challenged a few friends to a “Weekend Warrior” competition on Fitbit to see who could take the most steps this weekend.  Without this challenge, I doubt I would have gotten up to work out this morning, but my competitive streak won.  I’m currently in the lead, but my friend Sherry and I have been neck and neck all weekend.  She has pushed me to keep moving all day!  I hope your weekend is going well.  If not, tomorrow starts a new week.  Set some goals and track your progress. 

Country Life III

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband discovered a bird’s nest with three tiny eggs in our garage.  The nest is inside a manual fertilizer spreader (dark green in photo) on the top shelf.  There is now only one egg in the nest, and there are two baby birds in the clear containers on the shelf below their nest.  

 The mama and daddy birds fly in and out of our garage throughout the day to feed and care for their babies.  Early this morning, the girls and I were outside in the driveway when I heard a noise coming from inside our garage.  It was a persistent clicking noise that sounded almost like an alarm.  I saw one of the adult birds looking towards our garage window and making that noise.  It was an alarm because there was a snake in our garage, crawling from the top of the window down the side between the blinds and the frame.  I told my husband about it, but it was just a garter snake, and there didn’t appear to be any way for it to reach the baby birds, so he left it until this evening.  The snake stayed hidden on the far side of the garage away from the door into our house, so it didn’t bother any of us today, but we would rather not have a snake in our garage.  After dinner, my husband moved the tool chest that the snake was hiding behind and used a long piece of rebar to prod the snake outside.  It took a few minutes, but he was able to get the snake outside, and it slithered away into the brush on the other side of our fence.  


Both baby birds are still alive and in the containers, but one doesn’t look well.  It’s wings have lost feathers and have holes in them.  I’m not sure that one will make it.  The other one only has a little down left on its head and will probably be able to fly away in the next few days.