Frumpy Momma: Why It’s Time to Start Taking Care of Myself Again

I can’t believe that’s me. This is not me. Oh, but it is…oh, but it is.

I don’t know about you, but life definitely goes in cycles for me. I have phases where I’m like, “I got this,” and I wear make-up everyday, exercise regularly, smile at people, have feelings of happiness, and spend time socializing as well as time taking care of home and family. Okay. Well, things are never really all THAT perfect, but I definitely have phases where I am taking way better care of myself than I am right now.

This is not that phase.

This is a learning new things everyday, flying by the seat of my pants phase. We moved across the country and took on home-schooling our four boys for the first time this year. I’m way behind on lesson plans, blogging, housework, and pretty much everything.

My primary focus has been teaching and toddler care, and that just hasn’t left me much time to take care of myself. I rarely wear make-up. I never exercise. Some days I don’t really even get dressed–not really.

*gasp* the horror!

My eyebrows have not been properly plucked since the road trip in June. That was also my last pedicure. There is one dot of polish left on each of my big toes.

Shake my head.

My wardrobe? Well, I think I wear this t-shirt at least twice/week:

Youch. It’s a 5K participant t-shirt from 2012. Only I certainly haven’t been running any 5Ks lately…

I was telling my friends at Bible study this week, it’s time for me to become more self-disciplined about going to bed earlier, so that I can wake up earlier. Waking up at 7:15 doesn’t cut it around here.

I don’t completely apologize for letting myself become the grungy homeschool Mom. For the past few months, I NEEDED to focus on getting my school and my house in order. I only arrived here two weeks before I started our school, and I was not able to spend the summer preparing due to shipping issues. I did what I had to do.

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

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So I’m not going to beat myself up about my current “down to earth”, “laid back” look. However, now that the garage is completely organized, and the school and house are becoming more routine, it’s time to turn my attention to what I’ve been neglecting: me.

I’ve discussed before that when I don’t exercise and rest properly, I have serious back issues. More specifically, I have chronic joint pain. My flare ups started again in 2012, after another phase of self-neglect (Alan’s deployment). A combination of exercise and going to a good chiropractor, helped me to get the joint pain under control. I’ve mentioned that before.

Last week, my shoulder and hip really threw a fit, and I decided it was time to figure out what is causing all this. I got online and made a list of every single one of my symptoms: joint pain on only one side of my body, psoriasis of the fingernails, occasional fevers, and fatigue. It popped up a short list, and I read through until I came across one that sounded EXACTLY like a match. I’d never heard of it before: psoriatic arthritis.

I read a few different web articles on this autoimmune disorder, and it fit my condition perfectly.

Here’s a website reference for the curious:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/basics/definition/con-20015006

Thankfully, I do not have psoriasis on my skin, just on a few of my fingernails. My poor fingernails didn’t have a chance because I get really cold, and when I do I get no circulation to my nails because I also have Raynaud’s disease, another autoimmune disorder. Apparently, if you have one autoimmune issue, it’s common to have more than one. Bleh.

Are you wondering what psoriasis of the fingernails looks like on a 33-year-old? Well, here you go:

Don’t say,”ew.” Then I might feel really sad. You can also see my badly neglected eyebrows in this pic…

Groan. And all this stuff says that if you don’t get the psoriatic arthritis under control, it will cause permanent damage to your joints. And yet, it’s incurable. Lovely.

So what’s my action plan? You know I enjoy setting goals:

1. On Monday, call the infamous appointment line to see if I can get a real person to answer my call and make me an appointment. Military clinics. Oh my goodness, those poor, poor people who thought they wanted the government to run their health care…I’ve tried twice already and failed to get anyone to call me back and make me an appointment.

2. Go to bed by 11pm at the latest so I can wake up by 6:30 and go walking in the morning.

3. Wake up by 6:30, and go walk.

4. Make a spa appointment. Yes, spa. It’s been 6 months since I had eyebrows fixed, pedicure, or a hair cut, so I think that’s fair. I may even spring for the massage.

5. Make a chiropractor appointment.

6. Make a dental appointment. Ugh.

Okay, that’s a lot. I probably won’t get all of that done this week, but it’s something to aim for.

Now that I’ve shared all of these scary, and yet highly accurate, photos of myself, here’s what I hope to look like, once I get my act in gear:

 

Ah. Well groomed lady. Look at those eyebrows. My goal. :)

Happy Thanksgiving week, ya’ll! I am so excited. I love Thanksgiving.

……and you can vote for my blog, nominated for Most Influential Blog 2014, Here. Thanks, ya’ll!!!

Watching Frozen with Four Little Boys

2:30 pm Friday

All four boys are awake, and yet I am going to attempt to blog…

Caleb and Joshua are upstairs counting their money.

Daniel and JD are right here beside me. After finishing school at 1pm, washing the dishes by hand because we have to worst dishwasher ever, and baking a chocolate cake, I began to run out of steam.  Time for a break.

Daniel and I had this conversation:

“Mommy, me watch my shows?”

“Sigh. Yes. Okay. Your show.”

Daniel happily ran to the living room and said, “My shows! My shows! No baby shows. Me watch big boy shows. No girl shows.”

Huh. That’s a new one. The boys have officially trained him on their proud anti-girl-show rule.

But I do like movies better than t.v. shows, so I asked, “How about a movie, Daniel?”

I can be terribly manipulative when it comes to my sweet three-year-old….

“Yes!  Movie! Me pick!!”

“Sure, Dan.” I started reading him the titles, “Frozen?”

“No, Frozen. Yes! Yes, Frozen.”

:)

Frozen is my favorite, and if any of you tell him it’s a girl movie, you will answer to me. He thinks the big boys just don’t like it. He suspects nothing…

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Now Daniel is “counting” his money. He scoffs if you offer him dollar bills. He only wants coin money. hehehe

JD is walking around, sucking on a pacifier, and carrying a Lego man. He keeps laying down because these are the songs (Frozen songs) that I’ve been singing to him at bedtime all year. Bless him.

Caleb has now joined us, and I asked them each what their favorite line from Frozen is.

Caleb:  Nothing. None of it.

Daniel: Me wove it.

Joshua: (from the dining room) None! Well, ok. Let it Go.

Caleb: Actually, I do like Let it Go a little bit.

Ah, the influence of the oldest brother.

*******

Well, it looks like I’m the only one still watching the movie…

Elsa just started singing “Let it Go,” and Caleb chimed in “Yep! She’s thinkin’ it!”

“Huh? Thinking what?”

“She’s thinking of slamming people with ice.”

“What?”

“But someone could break it. I’m tellin’ you.”

Elsa begins to build her castle, and Caleb says,

“See what I’m telling you?”

“Caleb, she isn’t slamming anyone. She’s just building a castle.”

“Yeah, but she could slam someone. She will.”

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The two littles are now digging through the big boys’ Skylander collection. Let me catch you up on what else has been going on around here lately:

-Caleb left his Nabi (kid droid) on the back seat of the van. I put a grocery bag in the back seat with it. It tipped over and smashed the Nabi.  :( Oops. :(

-Caleb is now playing on my droid.

-I took all the boys to the Commissary with me Wednesday, and it actually went WELL. I know! I was surprised too. I let Joshua and Caleb each push their own buggy, and I pushed the littles in the “race car buggy.” Everyone was so happy. We went through the store, 3 buggies, in a single file line. I was marveling at how adorable I thought we were. Ha!! Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded. 10am. If I’ve learned anything from 9 years of parenting, it is that you always take children out on errands EARLY, if you take them out at all.

-You don’t want to know how much we spent on food that day. 3 buggies full….$400. That should last us all month right? Nope. Never. I’m way too embarrassed to tell you how much we actually spend on groceries each month. Yes, I’m aware that it will get much worse. I do realize they will all eventually be Alan-sized. (Well, probably not Daniel. He will probably be more like 5 foot 8, but please don’t tell him that, either.)

-Caleb is still flying HIGH in his math class. I still haven’t figured out just the right reading program for him. He can read on a beginning second grade level, but he still isn’t very interested in reading. I’m constantly looking for more reading material that he will actually like so that I can get him to read more.

-Oh! We have begun Daniel’s formal education. He is doing GREAT. More on that in the next post!

-Thanksgiving: we are going to go eat with a family I’ve never met this year.  Haaaa!  A real California Thanksgiving! :) No, I’m half kidding. There’s a family Alan met at our church that lives either on one of the California farms or out in that farming area, that has invited us. It won’t be ALL about meeting new folks, though. Two other families that we are friends with, from our Sunday School class, are also going. Apparently, there will be lots of room for the kids to run and play. It’ll be great. I don’t know what I’m going to take yet. Something Southern!!!

-We do something different every single year for Thanksgiving. I kind of like that we have a non-tradition tradition.

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-I’m now #10 in the Most Influential Blog 2014 contest. Please help me not fall out of the TOP 10! Have you voted today? It’s super easy. Just click on the icon below. It will take you to my voting page, and you just click on the thumbs up for me!  Thank you so much!!!

 

Book Review: Watching Seeds Grow

 

Every once in a while I manage to actually read a book. It honestly doesn’t happen that often. Jumping into my first year of home schooling with a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, a 3 year old, and a one-year-old has proved to be QUITE the time consuming challenge. Therefore, any book that claims my time must offer something of value.

This book, Watching Seeds Grow, “a guide to entrepreneurship for parents and children,” by Keith Greer and Peter Greer, fit the bill. This book got me thinking about things I need to teach my boys, and even a few things I still need to learn myself. It’s also nice and short. I read it in two sittings. It is an easy, to-the-point, thought-provoking read, and that is what I LIKE in a book!

Peter Greer is the President and CEO for Hope International, and Keith Greer is his young son. Have you heard of this company? I was only vaguely familiar with Hope International, when they sent me a copy of this book. To put it simply, Hope International helps the poor by providing them with the resources they need to make a living. They empower people around the world to help themselves. You have to admire a company like this, and you can learn more about them at their website: http://www.hopeinternational.org/

“Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him for life.” Hope International reminds me of that old concept.

Prior to reading the book, I had not given one second of thought to teaching business skills to my children.  I personally have never cared at all about going into business for myself, and yet now I actually AM in business for myself…(the blog…It’s sort of like a business.) Huh. Weird.  Accidental entrepreneur. I haven’t made enough money for it to matter yet–actually, I’ve made no profit whatsoever….but one day I just might! This book actually inspired me to think of more ways that I might do that! Don’t you love it when you read something that you think will help your children, but it ends up helping you too?

In Watching Seeds Grow, Peter’s young son tells the story of how, while in Africa, he found some leftover beans in a field. After checking to make sure no one owned these leftover beans, his son was able to sell them for profit, to vendors in town.

This book will tell you how to lead your kids through the business model so that they can sell a product or a service, using a well thought out business plan outlined in the book, to actually make a profit.

Why is this an important thing to do?

2 words: Financial responsibility.

Look at the gobs upon gobs of Americans of all ages who have never learned this lesson.  Do we want our children to end up like that?

The Greers encourage us to use our heads to find a way to gain a profit, and then learn how to use that profit wisely. Many of us have marketable skills that we could harness to go into business for ourselves.

You may be wondering if we have tried it yet, here in our House of Many Little Men? Have Joshua and Caleb come up with a business idea yet?

Well, no, but we WILL, so stay tuned. There will be a follow up post once I actually get the boys to put this into action. Business ideas were always hard for me because I’m sort of a squirrely-headed-creative-writer-dreamer type. If I mange to put a business plan into action and help my children to do so too, I guarantee you, anyone can.

The book provides brainstorm sheets, action plans, to do lists, and a financial planner. It is an excellent resource. This isn’t just for homeschool families. This is a book for all families. Be sure to check this one out! It might just help you come up with a way that your family could earn money and learn a whole lot in the process.

 

 

OH!!!  And don’t forget to vote.  :)  Thanks!!!! 

Having Happy Helpers

many hands

We had an easy week around here. Alan’s parents (aka Nonna and DaddyO) came to visit, and our house stayed nice and tidy all week. Yes, Nonna and DaddyO, that’s our new “clean”. Standards get a little lower with each child and with each added load of hobbies and homework!

I can’t tell you how sweet this was of them to come help us. Nonna wasn’t fully over her surgery (for a broken bone), but they came anyway, and we were so glad they did.

On Monday, Nonna tagged along to Classical Conversations with us, while DaddyO stayed here and ran loads of laundry ALL DAY long. Thank you, DaddyO!! Then Alan and Nonna stayed up getting it all folded and put away while I attended a class on uses for essential oils. More to come on the oil thing soon!!

Nonna’s contribution at CC (our homeschool tutoring group) is nothing to sneeze at either. She went to Caleb’s class, and that’s an emotionally difficult class to go to. He has a sweet tutor, and it’s a fun, interactive class, but we just can’t get Caleb to fully participate.  It kind of reminds me when he was in Pre-K 3, and he refused to do the Art Center, and I kept getting notes. Nowadays, Caleb lives for Art, but something about the whole CC thing greatly intimidates him, and he folds up very deeply into his shell–which is funny–because who even knew that Caleb had a shell…

It’s hard to explain. It’s not all bad. There are parts of it that he enjoys. It seems to be a confidence issue.  The introduction of the tin whistle has caused a lot of stress. This is his first year with it, while most of his classmates are returning students.

On the bright side, he has learned a TON, and I guess that’s the most important thing. He’s also made fast friends with pretty much everyone he’s met.

Caleb may or may not have embarrassed Nonna a little bit with his overuse of the phrase ‘dang it,’  at school.  I blame Mater….certainly not me…I would never, cough, ahem, cough, uh, say such a thing…..

Each week at CC, the boys are required to give a presentation. There are suggested themes for each week, but you don’t have to stay on theme. Last week was “tell about a state.” I let the boys choose a state. They BOTH chose Alabama, which surprised me a little. I thought surely one of them would choose Virginia or California, but I guess we see where their hearts truly lie!

…..and that was just Monday! On Thursday and Friday, I was able to get in full days of school without any ankle biters tearing through “sensory bins” at my feet. The school room floor is so much cleaner now!

Thank you so much, DaddyO and Nonna.

I am always telling the boys, “Many hands make light the work,” as I drag them through chore after chore that they don’t really want to do. People were made to work though, and I feel like the key to keeping this house from imploding is to teach the boys to help out a lot.

Meanwhile, it sure was nice to have backup!!!

Of course, the best part was the sleep. JD is cutting his 4 canine teeth, as we speak. He was a literal sleep monster this past week. No, really. Boy woke up multiple times every single night, and DaddyO and Nonna handled it for me.

That in itself deserves a medal.

Here are a few snapshots from their visit:

These were from the famous “17 Mile Drive” in Carmel. JD, Nonna, and I went, and it was the first time for all of us!

This is the closest most of us will probably ever get to golfing at Pebble Beach.

our tiny runner

We weren’t the only ones having fun.

DaddyO WALKED JD to the park. Yes, you read that right. I always make him ride in a stroller, so DaddyO got bonus fun points for that!

My DaddyO lets me have fun.

My DaddyO lets me have fun.

Best of all, we just enjoyed visiting with DaddyO and Nonna. It’s hard to live this far away from every single member of our family, so it’s super exciting anytime we get to squeeze in a visit!!

We are so blessed to have two sets of grandparents that visit, help, AND babysit!!! Alan and I did get to go on a date night, and we needed that so badly.

Thank you again, Nonna and DaddyO! We love you!

I told Nonna while she was here, “There’s enough work here for me to have a full staff. I could have a laundress, a cook, a housekeeper, and a tutor!” But that’s just the phase of life we are in. Isn’t it blessed?? I’d much rather be overworked than bored, don’t you agree?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

This truly is the Lord’s work.

Ok. JD needs me. Better run.

Don’t forget to vote:http://voiceboks.com/stories-of-our-boys/

I should also confess that one reason I have way less points than the top 4 contenders is that I have failed greatly at 4 Twitter challenges.. I will try to improve. You have to ‘tweet’ the most about our sponsors, and well, I apparently haven’t tweeted enough. I’ll work on improving with that. Thank you for voting!!!

We are Amazon ready for Black Friday.

 

Look for this in my sidebar.

I’m so excited to tell you that I am officially an affiliate for my favorite company:  Amazon. What does this mean for you? It means that if you click on the Amazon badge on my webpage, it will take you to Amazon.com. Once there, if you buy something, I will get a tiny little commission.

So feel free to use and abuse my webpage as your gateway to holiday shopping.  I know most of my family does their Christmas shopping online anyway.

All that leaves me to fix on my new webpage is the About me section–I’m having a hard time with the widget for that and the twitter icon. Look how silly it looks–all tinier than the other icons–so embarrassing. We’ll call it the tiny twitter baby sister.

Thank you so much for all your votes. Only 2 more weeks of voting, and then I promise to leave you alone…It’s just not any good to be #11, you know?  Thanks again!!!!

As a thank you, here’s a beautiful ocean photo from 17 mile drive: Carmel, California:

but I think Dan + Carmel is much nicer:

 

A Week of Serious Breakthroughs

When I started college in 1999, the computer world looked absolutely nothing as it looks today. We barely used email, let alone websites. Books were purchased at stores that sold coffee, notes were written on paper, and Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter were not even thoughts in anyone’s heads.

On top of that, as an easily bored 18 year old, I swore off anything computer or business world related. I made my home in the school of Arts and Sciences. The only contact I had with computer geeks were the engineers that I flirted with at the library. I will say that for me. I did study a lot. I was pre-physical therapy, and let me tell you, pre-med studies are hard!

Therefore, my computer skills were seriously lacking when I started this whole blogging thing in 2007, with my private blog. It has been QUITE the learning curve for me, but I now feel so confident in website building.  I can’t tell you what a high it gives this non-computer-chic to tell you this:

Thanks to DaddyO and Nonna being here this weekend, I’ve had a little more time to work on the blog, and …….I moved the email subscriptions from the old blog to the new blog……..ALL BY MYSELF!!

One day, I’m going to take some computer classes, and then I’m really going to be out of control. ;)

Blogging friends, if you are thinking of taking the leap to a self hosted website in order to make income with your blog, go for it!!! It’s not nearly as hard as they make it sound. I went with Bluehost, and so far I’m as pleased as punch.

Meanwhile, the blog platform is still WordPress, so I don’t have to re-learn how to design my blog. It’s mostly the same as before.

Thank you so much for listening to my celebrating about my blogging education. Here are a few photos of what else has been going on around here:

JD has become attached to this puppy.

Oh, and I have had homeschool breakthrough after home school breakthrough!!!  So exciting!

We’ve been struggling with the skip-counting, so this week I used Caleb as guinea pig, and taught him only 3-4 numbers per day. This week we were on the 15s. That boy can roll out 15 30 45 60 75 90 105 120 135 like NOBODY’S BUSINESS now.  WhooT!!!  So no, he never got all the way to 225 like I’d hoped, BUT knowing 15-135 SOLIDLY is better than not knowing 15-225 at all.

It may be hard to tell in the photo, but we finally got the garage cleaned out to the point that you can actually park a car inside it.  This is us partying in the garage. It is now part storage, part playroom.

Daniel was so proud of this power wheel (doesn’t work) that we commandeered from the neighborhood dumpster. He sat in it for hours. It’s a firetruck, and the siren still works.

Daniel told Alan, “See your truck, Daddy. (pointing to Alan’s truck) This my truck. (pointing to power wheel) My truck have ladder. Your truck no have ladder.”

:)

I found a new way to entertain JD. I gave him empty sippy cups and lids. He did whatever he did with them, all while studying his coin chart. Haaaaaa

Sometimes you have to work with what you have. The boys were doing great at matching states to capitals, but not so great with matching those capitals and states to the state shape on the map.

Then I went to my friend Joy’s house, and she had these awesome flash cards. I couldn’t find any to purchase, so I worked with what I had.

The dollar store had state “flash cards” that had so much information on both sides, they were completely useless…..until now. I cut out some bolder, less congested state images from the maps Amy sent me, blacked out the city/state names, and voila! Flash cards! These helped us BIG time this week.

I’m running out of time, so let me share this one last thing!!!  Character lessons! Here’s the link so that you can purchase them yourself:

http://thecharactercorner.com/lads-ladies-character/

I love these. The ones in the picture are just the ones we’ve been through this year. You spend a week on each character trait. Next week’s is “forgiveness.” I just think this is such a great way to start out the school day. What is more important than having godly character?

So I’m off to watch the Bama/MSU game. We recorded it, so don’t tell me what happens!  :)

Roll Tide!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” Zephaniah 3:17

 

Halfway there! Thank you so much for all the votes. I’m #9 right now, so please keep voting. I wish there were something I could do to tell you all thank you!! Virtual hugs!!

Dear Caleb’s Future Wife

Dear Caleb’s Future Wife,

Do you know what Caleb said to us yesterday? I hope you laugh when you read this. So cute:

“One day I’m going to make kids all around the world. I’m going to have 22. I mean 200. 2000!”

This is Caleb, holding up his Alabama poster. Caleb is seven, not even seven and a half.

I want you to know that Caleb already thinks about you, though. Once, we passed a field of yellow tulips, and Caleb said, “One day I’m going to give my wife hundreds of those.”

You’re welcome.

Only I can’t really take credit. Each boy is different, and Caleb is his own little man. This just is who he is. Right now he yells, “Ew!!! Girls!!!  Go away!!!” when girls come near our backyard, but rest assured, this is all for show.

Now as for the 2000 children. I don’t know what to tell you, but I thought you might wish for some warning. Sponsor an orphanage maybe?

Love, Your Crazy Future-Mother-in-Law with a Blog, April

artwork by Caleb

 

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Now, ya’ll, let’s talk about the blog for a minute.

This is it. I’m still beautifying it, but this is the new website. Thanks for coming!!! All subscribers were lost in the process, so if you’d like the blog delivered to your email, please re-subscribe. I know. So annoying. This is the third time I’ve moved the blog in two years, but I have GOOD NEWS.

This is the LAST time I have to move this blog. Wahoo! It doesn’t get any better than what I have right here, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief and settle down.

Now, please follow me on your social medias, or email, and don’t forget that I’m nominated for Most Influential Blogger, and I’m starting to fall behind. Last I checked I was #8 (wahoo!), but that could change any second.  Thank you!!!!!