Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Last week, I had a double ear infection and a sinus infection.  A month before that, I had a virus on the nerve in my BRAIN that goes from the inner ear to the brainstem.  Just as I start to round the corner, Juli gets sick.  Stayed home with her today.  Tonight, Abby comes home from school with a fever.  Now Dan is sneezing.  ((Grumble))

Monday, January 28, 2013

So Far, So Good

I have a confession to make.  I do not believe in New Year's resolutions.  I am not saying they aren't for anyone - they are just not for me.  Each year, for many, I would make a short list of things I wanted to do, be, and not do for that year.  Each year, I would fail at one or more of these promises to myself.  This did not make me feel good.  As a girl of...varied interests, it is hard for me to promise to do anything for one month, let alone twelve.  So, now I just sit myself down with me and I say, "Self, do your best this year."  Myself responds, "Okie dokie."  This makes us much happier overall.

That being said, I have lost seven pounds.  Not because I made a resolution to lose a certain amount of weight, but because I am trying something new - with no promises or official commitments made.
Shred: The Revolutionary Diet by Ian Smith, M.D.
This is a six week plan.  Now I know I said I can't commit to anything for even a month, but I am taking this one day at a time.  So far, so good.  Dr. Smith outlines exactly what you should be eating and doing each day.  It is like "Getting Healthy for Dummies" - seriously.  Those of you who know me know that I do NOT like to sweat.  Dr. Smith feels that we should exercise five days out of seven.  I have not done this and I have still lost seven pounds.  That being said, I am following the meal plans fairly closely with the exception of one thing - I cannot eat all of the food he wants me to!  He says we should be eating anywhere from three to four meals per day and then three to four snacks - and that we should be eating something every two to three hours.  I can't eat that much in volume, but I have changed how often I eat and what I put in my body.  Here is a typical day of eating that he recommends:

Meal 1:
     a piece of fruit
     a piece of whole wheat bread

Snack 1:
     100 calories or less

Meal 2:
     smoothie/protein shake/soup
     fruit or veggies
     diet soda/water/lemonade/juice/unsweetened tea/low-fat milk

Snack 2:
     150 calories or next

Meal 3:
     one of the above drinks (but it can't be the same one as meal 2)

Snack 3:
     100 calories or less

Meal 4:
     chicken, fish or turkey
     2 veggies
     one of the above drinks, but it can't be the same as meal 2 or meal 3

exercise for anywhere from 20-40 minutes

Again, this is a typical day during week one.  This is how my day *actually* goes:

Meal 1:
     as directed

Snack 1:
     as directed

Meal 2:
     smoothie or shake
     diet soda
Snack 2:
     as directed

Meal 3:
    I make a dinner from The Six O' Clock Scramble and we eat it

Snack 3:
     only sometimes

No exercise if I can help it.

Seven pounds.  S.E.V.E.N. (in two weeks)

This has been a public service announcement.


Friday, January 25, 2013

We Are Reading...

We are back on track with the homeschooling at night.  For Juli, we are simply reading our bible stories and, lately, focusing on fairy tales.  For Abby, we are working on comprehension.  Her reading fluency and accuracy are very high, but her comprehension is at a "basic" level, so we are buckling down on it.

We have just entered Exodus in this book:
Family-Time Bible in Pictures by Kenneth Taylor

If you have a youngster between the ages of 3 and 5 years, I would recommend this as a first bible.  The pictures are colorful and the stories are short.  Both of these are important when it comes to kiddos.  Additionally, there are questions at the end of each story for you to ask the kids - questions that increase their understanding of the story and help them to make text-to-self connections.

On the lighter side, we read this book:

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
This is a great book to read at bedtime.  It is about a little girl who is getting ready for bed and, as she does so, is playing a rhyming game with her Daddy and also counting objects.  Great for reinforcing these math and language skills.  Not on that, but the main character is African American, which is a rarity.  I love exposing the kids to people of other races and cultures as often as I can - it is a big world out there, people, and we need to be sure that our children accept everyone in it equally and respectfully.

The next book we read was this one
I am a Bunny by Ole Risom

I am a Bunny by Ole Risom, with pictures by Richard Scarry.  LOVE the art in this book.  This was originally a Little Golden Book (I believe) and is difficult to get ahold of anymore.  It is about a bunny named Nicholas who goes through the four seasons in a charming and sweet way.  It highlights his activities throughout the year and is done in such a colorful and enchanting way.  A great book for teaching seasons to young children, for sure.

Then we started in on this one

Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales, retold and illustrated by Val Biro
Again, this is another book that is difficult to get hold of, but if you can, it is worth it.  While it only contains 11 of his stories, and not necessarily all of the well-known ones either, the drawings are wonderful.  The characters have....well, character.  I really like the way the people in this book are drawn.  The first fairy tale we read was Thumbelina.  Does it get any cuter than Thumbelina?  Juli must be able to relate to her (she is a small kid).  Anyway, this story, if you did not know, is great for girls in that it is about a girl who does not take the first offer to come along and waits for the right guy for her.  (Maybe I should have read this more as a child - oh well, third time's a charm, right?)

Then we switched books - don't fret, we'll go back to Hans in a minute - to this one

Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus

This book is about a little mouse who saves his mother, his father and his baby brother from various dangers.  He is a hero.  Doesn't everyone need a hero?

Then we went back to Hans and read Dan the Dunce.  This is a little-known story by Andersen and cannot be found (to my knowledge) as a solo story, although it is told in this video on YouTube.  It is about a man who is quite the underdog in his town.  It is surprising to me, that someone so lazy and filthy could actually accomplish anything, but he does.  Teaches the kiddos not to judge books by their cover.  Good read.

Next, we read this

The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christan Andersen
This teaches kids about self-awareness, surrounding yourself with the right (honest) people, and how NOT to jump on the bandwagon or succumb to peer pressure, along with lessons against vanity and selfishness.

I know this seems like a reading marathon, but this is the stuff we have read for all of January.  Next, we enjoyed this one by Andersen:

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, retold and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
 This is another "don't judge a book by its cover" book.  I love this moral.  The story also teaches young people to be proud of themselves.  Both valuable lessons, indeed.

Finally, we read this tonight

The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen
 This has always been one of my favorite fairy tales.  The moral is the same, about looks not being everything and beauty on the inside being more valuable than beauty on the outside.  I wonder why ole Hans used this moral so much?  Does anybody know?  I mean, was he ugly?  Anyway, Juli liked this one so much that she asked me to read it to her again - immediately.

For the next few weeks, we will be focusing on fairy tales, just so ya know.

Thought I would throw in a pic of the two youngest girls.  Guess who the cheeser is??



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Remembering 2012

I thought it would be a good idea to recap 2012's major events before we get too far into 2013.  So, here we go...

In January, we did not do much, but our good friends Christopher and Heather came out for a visit, which is always fun!  We played Dance Party on the Wii and Heather surprised us by kicking our butts!  Dan was living in a hotel in Chicago at the time, and coming home on the weekends to visit.

In February, Dan took the girls (all three of them!) to Ohio for a visit and Mommy took a break (being a single-ish mom five days per week can wear on a person, especially while they are working on their masters degree and teaching kindergarten.

In March, we took the girls to see Disney Princesses at IU.  Also, we visited Daddy in Chicago and went to the zoo and celebrated St. Patrick's Day by viewing the green river and the St. Patrick's Day parade!  There were sooooo many people there that we all got a bit hot (believe it or not, it was 75 degrees!) and cranky.

In April, we had a tornado in Bloomington.  Luckily, it did not come near our house, but we were hiding out in the basement for a few hours.  Wow.  Scary.  Abigail got her ears pierced, which was a dramatic experience for all of us.  A word of advice, when getting a child's ears pierced, find a way to get them both done at the same time, instead of one after the other.  Some children might want to stop after the first one.  Ugh.  DeDe and Craig came out for a visit - they were also attending a wedding nearby.  It was wonderful to spend time with them and for them to see where we lived before we had to leave.

In May, we packed up and left Bloomington, Indiana for good.  Daddy was still living in Chicago, and the girls and I headed to Virginia for the summer.  What a surprise it was for YaYa to find out that we were not staying for two weeks, rather four months!  Surprise!!!  We also managed another trip to Ohio to see Grandma and Grandpa, Mike, Loren and all of the other fabulous folk along the way.  Oh yes, Abigail graduated from kindergarten - I cannot believe how big she is getting!

In June, Samara, Abigail, Juliana and I settled in for the summer and YaYa became a prime investor in Excedrin.

In July, Daddy came to visit and took the girls to D.C. for two days.  They toured the Smithsonian and walked around the city.  Another break for Mommy - I love that man.

In August, we went on a two week vacation to give YaYa a break.  We started out at Brian and Andrea's place in Towson, MD.  The girls had so much fun visiting with Ella, Paige and Madison.  We sure do miss our old neighbors!  Then, we headed north to Manasquan, New Jersey to visit Auntie Jenny and Uncle Ed.  We have been friends with them for nine years and it feels like we met them yesterday - two couples were never better matched!  After that, we went to Christine and Mike's and relaxed on their resort-like estate in Maryland for a few days.  I overcame my fear of chickens and we spent a lot of time in their pool.  Lovely to swim whilst surrounded by blooms and butterflies.  Abigail started first grade in Petersburg, Virginia - we figured it was best to get her in school for the month that we would still be there.

In September, we packed up and headed to Libertyville.  Actually, we headed to the northern suburbs and stayed in a hotel for a few weeks while we waited for our closing date and the truck to arrive.  It sure was nice to have our little family back together under one roof, even if it was a rented one.

In October, we moved into our (((little))) house and stood there scratching our heads, wondering how the heck we were going to be able to get all of our stuff into this space.  The answer - multiple trips to Goodwill. Abby joined a first grade class at Rockland Elementary School and Juli started in a preschool class at Goddard School.  We. love. Goddard. School.  She learns everything in English, Spanish and ASL and they practice yoga everyday.  Really???  I want to go there!  We also ventured into the city to take the girls to the planetarium - we rode the Metra, which was an adventure for the kiddos for sure!  We raked leaves.  Mommy turned 41.  We raked leaves.  Juli turned 4.  We raked leaves.  Trick or treat!  Aaaaand, we raked leaves.  When I say "we", I mean Dan.  I hate raking leaves, and I am allergic to them.  Poor guy.

In November, Abigail turned 7.  I can't believe she is that old.  Wow.  Her top two teeth are coming in and her hair is down to her waist.  Samara came for Thanksgiving and so did Kylie.  Fun was had by all and the tree was put up and decorated.

In December, Grandma and Grandpa St. Peter came for a visit.  Jingle (our elf on the shelf) came for the month and we started a new tradition.  At the beginning of the month, I wrapped 24 Christmas/winter books individually and placed them under the tree.  These are books that we borrowed from the library or that we already had and had packed away last year, so no money spent.  Each night, the girls would pick a book, open it, and we would read it to them.  They REALLY enjoyed this, so we will do it again next year for sure.  We also made several crafts over the span of the month - homemade ornaments, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, gingerbread houses, etc.  Fun!  We finished up the month with a trip to Missouri.  We stayed with DeDe and Craig and made rounds visiting Uncle Jeff and Aunt Liz, Dillon, Matthew and Kassidy, Uncle Greg and Roberta, Aunt Marsha and Uncle Steve, Daddy's grave, Uncle Ron and Aunt Linda, and Alicia, Brian, Afton, Wilson and Emmalin.  It was wonderful to see everyone and to spend time in Parkville.

All in all, not a bad year, eh? 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

We Have Been Busy

Hi there!  Wow - what a whirlwind of a holiday season that was!  We have so much to catch up on, but here are a few of the highlights.  I will definitely go into more detail in a later post.

First of all, I am trying to go more vegan this year.  I can't promise all vegan, because we do go out to eat on occasion and I would like to have carte blanche with the menu (hello, right??).  However, I am trying.  Just so you know, I will not be foisting this onto my family and friends, although there are a few friends out there who I know will be joining me on my journey, but I will likely slip a vegan dish in every now and then.

Ok, so the other day, I am walking out to the trash can and talking on the phone at the same time.  I fling open the lid to the dumpster-on-wheels and proceed to scare the ever-lovin-crap out of a squirrel.  A squirrel who had apparently been snacking in there.  Of course, the cute little ball of fluff scared the crap out of me, too.  In fact, being the pillar of bravery that I am, I ran off down the driveway screaming at the top of my lungs (I had forgotten I was still on the phone).  I am sure the neighbors enjoyed this sight.  After I got my wits together, I went back and took a picture of the aforementioned ball of fluff.  Can you see him?  Can you??

Look reeeeally hard.  He is there, looking back at you.
Dan put up lights this year.  First time he has ever hung them on the house.  Yay, Daddy!  Poor picture, but you get the gist.

Good jhob, Dad.  Good jhob.

Then Abby and I attended Juli's holiday extravaganza at Goddard.  Oh my cuteness, Batman!

Seriously???  Can you stand the cuteness??

Oh, I got picked up for subbing in Libertyville.  Here I am on my first day.  Feels goooooood to be in a classroom again, even if it is not mine.

How about a little lesson on the ethics of human cloning, eh?  A far cry from my precious kindergartners, but you know - go with the flow!

We took December off from Mommy School to do Christmas crafts and read a different holiday book every night.  This was so much fun, and it will be repeated next year for sure.  What great memories we made!  Now we are back in the swing of things, though.  Today, we read about Moses and the burning bush in Juli's Family Time Bible and then we read this:

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Great book!  It only has about 12 different words in it, which makes it "readable" for pre-schoolers.  There are lots of details in the illustrations and at least four different themes to follow.  First, and most obvious, is the frisky little gorilla who steals the zookeeper's keys and lets all of the animals out as the man says good night to them one by one.  Then they all follow him home and....well, you know I don't ruin endings!

Then there's the mouse who follows the gorilla.  He is trying to carry a banana.  Too cute - look for his valiant struggles.

Check out the animal's cages - you might see some toys that you recognize.

Finally, look at the pictures in the zookeeper's house - it is clear that this man (and his wife) loves his job.

Then, Abby and Juli ate bananas for snack, of course!

That's all for now, folks!


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy 2013!

Take a moment.  Look back at 2012.  Think of ten things you are thankful for that happened in the last twelve months.  What are they?  Here are mine...

1.     Having our family back together under one roof. 
2.     Spending the summer with mom.
3.     Seeing Juli become the healthy child she was meant to be.
4.     Finishing my Masters degree.
5.     Selling our house.
6.     Finding a new house to raise our family in.
7.     Having new, wonderful neighbors.
8.     Having Mom and Dad St. Peter come visit.
9.     Spending three weeks traveling up and down the East coast visiting friends this summer.
10.   Spending Christmas with family in the Midwest.

Again, yours?