Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Recap: September 24-28, 2012

This week was pretty standard.  No big surprises.  We just pushed forward.

High - Grammar.  I like how it's easy and I'm really good at it.
Low - Math.  Just because it's math.

High - I like logic because it's fun to solve.
Low - Latin because I think that it's a language that nobody speaks anymore. 

High - Math. I liked it because my chapter review was so easy.  I did it on my own.
Low - I didn't like doing two grammar lessons today.

High - Our book on CD, The Yearling, has been delightful.  I have a feeling the kids are not going to be happy about the way it ends.
Low - H13 is still struggling to schedule her time.  We did get math and logic checked on Friday evening instead of Saturday afternoon this week.  That's progress.  We also agreed that next week math will be done at the beginning of the week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Another Pinterest Project

I love getting my shoes up off the floor and where I can see them easily.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Recap: September 17-21, 2012

We had a busy week.  Rob had his check-up with his family doctor and was released to go back to work part time.  For Rob that means he may be working only 35-40 hours a week instead of his usual 50-60.  Wednesday was his first day back on the job.  His presence at home was missed.  We got use to having him around and were enjoying it.  I think he's happy to be living a more normal life.

As for our school work, this is what I have to report:

M8 enjoyed multiplying.  The focus was on 3s and 4s.  We found manipulatives (marbles) to be really helpful with the groupings of multiplication.  While M8 is getting to be a wonderful reader, she doesn't enjoy it yet so reading aloud was her challenge this week.  Attitude has been a real issue for M8 this week.  She's pitching regular fits over things that aren't fit worthy.  Also she's been telling me no about doing work, both school and home, and following directions.  I am way less than thrilled with this behavior and am looking for a way to cut it out quickly.  In additon to school work, M8 is also perfecting her hoola-hoop skills.

S10 is still enamoured with history.  Logic made his list of favorites this week too.  He completed his first Mindbender book and moves onto other logic puzzles next week.  His biggest challenges are assigned reading and Latin.  He did complete his two books for last week, one on Queen Victoria and the other, Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. We started First Form Latin this year and he's continually making the argument that Latin is a dead language and he shouldn't have to learn it.  I understand his concern but I know that the skills he learns with Latin will be well used through his life.

H13 is enjoying her logic and grammar.  For logic this year we chose The Art of Argument by Joelle Hodge, Christopher Perrin and Aaron Larsen.  H13 enjoyed logic at the beginning of the year last year but when we moved onto formal logic she lost all enjoyment.  Rather than trying to slog through formal logic we decided to spend more time with informal logic.  It was a good choice for her.  Grammar is her last session of Analytical Grammar.  This program has been an excellent fit for her.  She even admits that she enjoys knowing more about punctuation and how it works.  Her challenge comes with time management.  She loves to read and write so those activities are where she wants to spend the majority of her time.  Unfortunately she doesn't always balance the time required to complete her other subjects with her enjoyable activities.  Because she didn't finish school this week until Saturday afternoon, we'll be scheduling her week together and checking in daily next week.  Also this week, H13 mentioned that she might not want to go to public school next year.  I was surprised.  We'll be talking more about that in the weeks to come.

My big accomplishment this week was canning four and a half bushels of tomatoes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pinterest Projects

I love Pinterest.  I love marking things and knowing I'll be able to find them easily when I'm ready to try out a project or recipe.  Here are some of my favorite Pinterest projects.

A splash guard for my KitchenAid made from the lid of an ice cream bucket.  It works beautifully and seals to the edge of my mixing bowl.

Race for a quarter game to sharpen our skills with money and making change.

A super cute birthday gift for my nephew.

A bag for my sister to hold her phone and I-pod while she walks.

Potholders for my mother-in-law.  Two of my sisters and two of my sister-in-laws have sets of these as well.  I even made myself two sets.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Moving Closer to Heart Smart

Rob began cardiac rehab this week and had his first nutrition class.  He learned that trans fat and saturated fat are to be avoided.  Sugar matters less than calories. Keeping an eye on sodium is important.  Toward our quest to being heart smart, we've added a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. We have a lot of farmers in our area so local, fresh produce is fairly easy to get and reasonably priced. 

There were lots of things that we did before we discovered Rob's heart issues.  We always eat whole wheat bread and skim milk.  I make lots of things from scratch and try to avoid processed foods.  We grow our own meat, beef and chicken, and eggs. 

The main things we are doing differently are increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of meat, and exchanging oil for our beloved butter whenever possible.  Rob has traded carbonated beverages for Crystal Light and green tea.  He's also dropped processed meat.  Seeing him eat veggies sandwiches is something surprising and new.  He even enjoys them. 

In addition to increasing our fruit/veggie intake, we are adding more fish to our diet.  The recommendation is to have fatty fish at least once a week.  We had sushi for lunch this week and stocked up on salmon at the grocery store.  We all love fish so this is one diet recommendation that will be a pleasure to follow.

Weekly Recap: September 10-14, 2012

The year is definitely underway and we are rolling along.  I'm going to endeavor to be better about posting pictures this year.  I have a lovely new camera so I should be able to manage it but not this week.

Here are our highs and lows:
I had a good week.  I especially enjoyed listening to The Secret Garden.

Low - Latin
High - History.  I liked learning about the Crimean War.

Low - History because it is so long.
High - Math because it was easy.

Low - Interruptions.  It's so frustrating to have a full week planned and also have life happening each day.
High - The work and attitude of each of my students in impressive.  This year is off to a very good start.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Becoming Heart Smart

I've spent some time over the last few days trying to figure out how to eat a "heart smart" diet.  The internet is wonderful thing.  The amount of information available at my finger tips is incredible, awesome, overwhelming.  And I am overwhelmed.  So, I decided to try something old fashion.  I went to the library in the hope of finding a book or two that would help me on my journey to heart smartness without boggling my brain.

My first question was about coronary artery disease.  If coronary artery disease causes cholesterol, which is made by the body, to collect in the heart, how does decreasing the amount of cholesterol consumed affect the amount of cholesterol produced?

My second question is about prioritizing when choosing foods and reading labels.  A heart smart diet is supposed to control calories, sugar, fat, cholesterol and sodium.  Which is the priority when making choices about foods?  How do you decide which foods are okay and which aren't?

My third question is about running the numbers.  How in the world do I manage this kind of diet without becoming a slave to the calculator?

Over the next few days I'll be adding to this post as I find my answers and probably come up with new questions. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips or suggestions for becoming heart smart, please, feel free to comment.  I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Good for the Heart

Rob's appointment with his cardiac surgeon was last week.  He is doing great and ready to move onto the next step of healing; cardiac rehab and lifestyle change.  While the past month created lifestyle change by necessity from here on the changes be made or maintained by choice.  While Rob's coronary artery disease won't be cured by making lifestyle changes, he does have the power to slow it down and keep himself healthier with his day to day choices. 

Becoming a non-smoker was an obvious change that needed to be made.  The time Rob spent in the hospital and physically recovering enabled him to move through the physical addiction of smoking fairly easily.  The change in his normal routine enabled him to continue his non-smoking habit even after he began to feel better.  Our prayer is that over the next few months, years, decades, smoking will continue to be abhorrent and not even offer temptation.

Adding routine exercise to life was a gradual thing.  As part of his after surgery routine, he was expected to walk a little each day.  He began walking indoors, then in our driveway, and finally down our road.  His walking time increased from three minutes to thirty minutes.  While the walking was good it didn't really meet his desire for building strength.  His arms and chest are feeling flimsy by his standards.  He's hoping that the rehab program will address those issues and he'll start feeling like himself again.  I enjoy the walks because it makes me exercise and it gives us time together to talk. 

Diet changes are something we weren't concerned with during the first part of  Rob's recovery.  When we left the hospital we were told that Rob could eat whatever he liked.  The tricky part of that direction is that for the first two weeks he didn't really feel like eating anything.  He lost about twelve pounds.  Now that his appetite is back he is to start a diet that is low in cholesterol, fat and salt.  While I don't fry food very often (practically never), I do tend to make things that aren't totally healthy, especially for breakfast.  Plus there's the fact that we love dessert.  So, my biggest challenge right now is to figure out what a heart healthy diet looks like for my family.

We made a good start yesterday.  I didn't buy any coke at the store.  I did stock up on fruit.  Our fridge is full of vegetables already.  And, for dinner, I made pizza dough with whole wheat flour.  Everyone noticed the difference but said that the change in the pizza dough was worth the added health benefits.  Rob even opted to leave pepperoni totally off of his pizza and didn't seem to mind.

My prayer is that we'll be able to find new ways of eating that will be as satisfying and so much healthier than the old ways.  And since CAD is genetic, I'll be helping my husband stay healthy now and giving my children a leg up on their adult health.  That's good for all our hearts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Happy Birthday K16!

K16 in her "new" car - 2001 Cabrio GLS
 Birthdays are a big thing at our house.  I love to celebrate and have set the expectation that birthdays are a source of supreme celebration.  I try not to fall into the trap of creating perfect birthdays but rather I try to make a celebration that is centered totally on the birthday child.  They get to pick the theme, the food, the activities, and, to some degree, the gifts.  I always have final say but I really do want their day (and mine) to be about them.

As the kids have grown we've established some age expectations for birthdays.  On their ninth birthdays the girls can get their ears pierced.  S10 opted out of this tradition.  For their 10th birthday, we've done a special experience gift.  K16 & I flew to Chicago, had lunch at a fancy restaurant and saw Wicked on her 10th birthday.  Rob and I took H13 to the Indianapolis Zoo for her 10th birthdays.  She got to swim with the dolphins.  S10 went with his dad on a testosterone filled trip to the Pro-Football Hall of Fame and Cabella's.  Our two oldest children received cell phones on their twelfth birthdays.  And this year K turned 16.

Since she turned eight or so, we've been telling K that whatever money she saved for a car, up to $2500, we'd match when she was ready to get her first car.  We hoped that would encourage her to develop a saving strategy. We've told the same thing to each of our children.  Over the years it has become clear that K is not a saver and that the lure of matching funds is not a motivator for her.  As her sixteenth birthday drew closer, her dad and I agreed that we really wanted to buy her a car. 

There were several factors that made this decision that we really discussed.   First of all, we don't want our children to be spoiled.  While we can afford to give them things, we don't want to be "those parents" who gives their child everything and expects nothing.  Those parents end up with "those kids" that no one can stand to be around.  We don't want to give the impression that we spoil our children.  Unfortunately, there are some who view our parenting and judge us as lacking.  Buying our daughter a car is just going to strengthen that low opinion.   Making a decision based on the values we hold and the means that we have without bowing to the opinions of others is often difficult.

We were also aware that once we gave a car to K we set the expectation for our other three children.  Now, I know it doesn't have to be that way.  Buying a car for one doesn't mean we are required to buy cars for all four. Circumstances can change.  Just because we can afford to buy a car for K now doesn't mean we will be guaranteed to afford a car for M in eight years.  However, it would be very disappointing for all of us if we can't meet that expectation. 

Finally, was it the best choice for her?  Would she truly appreciate getting a car or would she just consider it her due?  Would a gift like this cause difficulty or bring joy?

As K's birthday approached we made our plans.  K and I discussed birthday wishes and she was nervous about having a party that didn't include/allow alcohol.  As a parent, it's frustrating that this is a concern my daughter has.  She didn't think her friends would want to come to a dry party.  Rather than watching her stress over whether or not her friends would come or what kind of party would be best, I took over the planning.  I contacted her favorite pizza place and scheduled a surprise birthday party there. We invited her friends by text and Facebook.  We kept it a secret, sort of.  She knew something was planned but she didn't know when. 

She had no clue about the car.  Rob and a friend spent several days driving to car lots to look at a variety of cars.  During that shopping Rob decided on the type of car he wanted for K, a Volkswagon Cabrio convertible.  The trick was finding one in our area, in our price range, in good shape, with decent mileage.  Finding this car was truly a miracle.  We found it on a dealer website about an hour and a half from our home.  The mileage was right.  The price was right.  The car was just what we were looking for.  We traveled to the lot praying that this would be the car.

When we arrived at the car dealership we realized that the car we had seen on the internet was not their normal listing.  This was a new car dealership.  The car we wanted to see was clearly not what they would normally be selling.  We pulled into the lot found the car and took a look.  It was a mess.  The dealer hadn't cleaned it at all.  In fact, it looked as if the window had been left down for awhile because the inside was kind of mildewed.  It was muddy.  In fact, it looked as if it might have been through a flood.  It was rough.

When a salesman came out to meet us, he acknowledged that the dealership really had no intention of selling this car.  He wasn't sure how it came to be listed on their website.  They were just holding it until it could be sent to a wholesaler for auction.  We asked to drive it anyway.  The battery was dead but jumped easily and we were off.  Right away, we could tell that there were exhaust issues.  A new muffler would be required.  Other than the loudness and a loosey-goosey gear shift, the car was great to drive.  It was small and zippy and a convertible.  Tons of fun!  It needed some work but overall it was in acceptable shape and the issues could be fixed.

We made a list of the things that would need to be fixed with the car.  Then we made an offer.  In short order, our offer was accepted and we were the owners of a 2001 Cabrio. 

Our first concern was getting the car cleaned.  Because of Rob's surgery he wasn't supposed to be driving.  I wasn't comfortable with him taking his first drive in a month against doctor's recommendations knowing that it would last over an hour.  We weren't ready to drive the car all the way home so we arranged with the dealership to have their detail people take our car and do their best with it.  We were hoping for a lot but not expecting much.  Our sales person promised to call us the next day as soon as the car was ready.

On the way home Rob called his doctor's office and asked if he could drive or if it was still unsafe.  He was given permission to drive.  By the time we arrived home we had talked with a friend who offered to go over the car and give it a final sprucing.  We had also made arrangements with our mechanic to take a look at the car to see what needed to be done to make the car safe and reliable. 

On Tuesday, August 28, we returned to the dealership to pick up her car.  We were amazed at how well it had cleaned up.  It looked like a different vehicle when we arrived to drive it home.  The mud and grime were gone.  The paint was shiny.  The interior was beautiful.  We were thrilled. 

The drive home just added to our satisfaction.  Putting the top down and soaking in the sunshine left us both knowing that we'd made a great choice. Our friend and our mechanic both reassured us that the car was a good one.  We could hardly wait to give the car to K.

On K's birthday, the surprise party was a huge success.  About 30 friends and family members joined us for pizza and an Avenger's birthday cake.  K was thrilled with all of it and didn't expect anything else.  As we pulled down the road to our house,  K could see lights that didn't really make sense.  Rob and several others had turned their vehicles so the headlights shown on K's new car.  It looked beautiful in the lights.  Sixteen pink balloons billowed out of the open convertible top.  As K got closer to the house she began to ask, "What is that?"  "WHAT is that?"  "WHAT IS THAT?"

As a parent,  it is a great feeling to make our child so happy.  I pray it will always be so simple to make her dreams come true.