Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lazy Housewife: Crockpot Beef Stew

Easy Crockpot Beef Stew 

This was probably the best beef stew I've ever made.  You know what, it was DEFINITELY the best beef stew I've ever made.

I only made ONE change.  You're shocked, I know.  I didn't use bouillon cubes because we have "Better Than Bouillon" in our fridge all the time, so I used that instead of the cubes.  That's the only change I made.  I ate it for 2 days straight--dinner, lunch, dinner, lunch.  Yeah.  Then we froze some of it and The Punk and I ate it for dinner a couple weeks later.  Still delish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Two For Tuesday: Habitats

These links go along with our Magic School Bus summer science.


We will be making the FWSS flipbooks for the all the habitats we will be covering, so this is for the next few weeks (we won't actually be USING it with this unit, but I am trying to be prepared.)  Saylor's Log: Forest Anyone?


We'll read Frog and Toad books, and discuss how the habitat needs of Frogs and Toads differ.  We will also review the life cycle of frogs.  These are some great printables (I'm hoping I can just find I know I have these already, if not I'll print them again.)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Skinny Housewife: My FIT Journey

I was thinking back about where this all began for me.  When Four was almost 1 yr old, I talked The Bestie into taking a Zumba class with me.  She hauled her cookies 40 minutes to my house, once a week, so we could drive another 20 minutes together to take this class.  We did 2 sessions (12 weeks) and I loved it.  Life happened, and my One's dance class got moved to the same night and made it impossible for me to take the class any longer.  Approximately a year later, One and Two started taking pottery classes at the community center.  While we (The Bestie again) were sitting and waiting for them to be done, we observed that there was a Zumba class in the building DURING the same time frame.  If we had to be there every week ANYWAY, why not take the class too??  The Bestie signed up with me, again because I just drag her along whenever I can.  She was only able to do another 2 sessions-she has a lot of health issues-but I stuck with it.  After taking the class for nearly 9 months, I decided to become an instructor.  I had no job prospects for it, but I wanted to be able to do it more so why not??  Several months later my instructor wanted to "retire" and handed me her class.  It's the class I still teach, and there are a handful of students left that originally took that class WITH me.

I lost 15 lbs in that first 9 months of class and I made no other changes.  I don't diet well, and I was only exercising that ONE time a week.  1 hour once a week, and I lost 15 lbs.  I wish I had measured myself instead of focusing on numbers, because I know I lost several inches in my thighs.

Zumba became a "gateway exercise" for me (*think gateway drug..*)  And now that I was 15 lbs lighter and my heart and lungs were stronger, I could run again.  I loved running YEARS ago when I was in high school.  I started the couch to 5K program with a friend, and we met up 3 or 4 times a week to walk/run.  I signed up to do a mud run with a bunch of friends.  I was HOOKED.  I did a color run, a glow run, an electric run.  But obstacle course/mud runs were my happy place.  I like the added difficulty level that the mud/obstacles adds.  It pushes me harder than just "running."  And, I like to be pushed.

I started BikiniBodyMommy, and do two rounds of her program (which I HIGHLY recommend.)  I lose inches.  I'm happy.

I have a friend who I met through Zumba, we attended the same class originally and both became instructors.  She taught at a gym, and started working out at the gym in addition to teaching.  She started taking CrossFit classes.  She signed up for a Spartan race.  She invited me.  After reading about it, I KNEW I wasn't ready for that.  Fast forward a year.  She asks again.  She assures me that I CAN do it.  But, I'm really uneasy about it.  I'm NOT strong.  I am a good runner, yes.  I've done obstacles, yes.  But nothing even CLOSE to the level of a Spartan.  I consult another friend (who has done more races than he can probably count, and is by all accounts the most badass guy I know.)  He tells me the truth-which is why I consulted him-that I can't do it, right now.  I CAN train and absolutely do it.  He suggests Warrior Dash as a "try and see," since it is harder than the obstacle/mud runs I've done, but not as hard as a Spartan.  I sign up.  I drag some friends.  It was AMAZING.  It was hard.  But I finished.  And I finished in decent time.  One of the friends and I discuss half marathons WHILE running the Warrior Dash, and decide we want to do one together (He has already done one, I have not.)  I come home, and sign up.  4 months later I completed my first half-marathon.
I decided my new goal was a Spartan race.

I bit the bullet and signed up.  I installed a pull-up bar in our house.  I joined the gym.  I joined and started a program at the gym.  I lift weights.  I run.  I do pull-ups and burpees.  I get sick.  Really sick.  I lose a full month of training just weeks before my first Spartan race.  I sign up for the 2nd race to complete my trifecta BEFORE even completing the first.  Because I believe I can do it.

I show up to my Spartan and meet up with the ONE friend (Warrior-Dash and half-marathon friend)  I could convince to run it with me.  Turns out he didn't really read anything about a Spartan race, and was expecting something Warrior-Dash-Esque.  He was in for a shock.  We did it.  SLOWLY.  But, we did it.  Together.  I was/am so super proud of him.  I was/am so super proud of myself.

Over the last year,  I've lost nearly 19 inches total.  I have the measurements from when I started BBM, and I did comparison measurements last month to see how far I've come.  My weight hasn't really changed, but that's ok.  I am happy with the way my pants fit, and that's what really matters.  I'm also SO MUCH STRONGER.  SO.  MUCH.  Just this week, I had a new milestone!  I was able to do the bars at the park.  I've NEVER been able to do them.  Not ever.  And, I'm currently 'nursing' a shoulder injury (I see the Ortho in 2 weeks, that's the earliest they could get me in) so it makes it even more impressive to me.  I am strong enough to do them, even with my shoulder being less than 100%.  That's a BIG deal.

Now, I'm signed up for Spartan Super, and will be signing up for Spartan Beast (after I volunteer and receive my free race) this year, so that I get the Trifecta medal. The Bestie asked me "What's next?  What is there for you to DO after you've completed this?"  I didn't hesitate with my reply,  because, yes I've already thought it out...Tri-Athlon.  2016 is the year of the Tri-Athlon.  The Bestie had a fit of giggles.  I'm always moving, always training, always pushing.  Why WOULDNT I know what I'm going to be training for next year?  ;)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two for Tuesday: Our Summer Plans

The Homeschool Belle: Free Science Plans Using Magic School Bus 

Seriously, how much WIN is in this??  We are doing what promises to be an AMAZING science Co-Op next year (and I'm sure it's going to be totally amazing because two of the smartest, creative, most organized women I've ever met are organizing it) but to get through the summer....we will be doing this.  We will not be doing one unit per week, probably 2 a week to make it fit into summer.  And likely not in "order," because week 1 is about Ants and I own THIS, but don't have the ants for it so we will start in week 2 and come back to week 1 when our live ants arrive.  BUT-I know the boys are going to LOVE it.  They are both HUGE into science experiments, and c'mon who DOESNT love MSB.

A comment was posted on the blog listing the season and episode number for those who are going to watch them via Netflix (like us,) so here is that info:

Gets Ants in its Pants: S1-E12
Hops Home: S1-E5
Gets Swamped: S4-E4
In the City: S4-E12
In the Rainforest: S3-E12
Takes a Dive: S4-E11
All Dried Up: S1-E7
Cold Feet: S2-E12
Going Batty: S2-E9
Spins a Web: S3-E2
Gets Ready, Set Dough: S1-E9
Meets Molly Cule: S3-E2
In the Artic: S3-E1
Bright Idea: S3-E5
In the Haunted House: S1-E8
Makes a Stink: S4-E10
Gets Eaten: S1-E4
For Lunch: S1-E2
Inside Ralphie: S1-E3
Flexes Its Muscles: S2-E2
Goes Cellular: S4-E5
Works Out: S3-E9
Lost in Space: S1-E1
Out of this World: S2-E11
Sees Stars: S4:E7
Gains Weight: S4-E8
Under Construction: S3-E3
Getting Energized: S2-E10
Gets Charged S4-E9
Goes on Air: S4-E3
Cracks a Yolk: S4-E1
Rocks and Rolls: S3-E13
Meets the Rot Squad: S1-E6
Gets Planted: S3-E11

(A note about the InsectLore link above--we've used LOTS of their products.  We've had the butterflies, ladybugs, and praying mantis habitat previously with One and Two.  I've always been very happy with their products.  We've never done the ants, so One and Two will probably geek out with us on this as well.)

My second summer goal is Spelling.  We don't currently do spelling, but I know we need to start.  I've always been a naturally good speller, so it slips my mind a lot.  Having a child who is really struggling with reading/spelling keeps bringing it back to my attention, so I'm going to attempt to put it into place over the summer while our schedule is much slower.  Here are some links that spell out (HA!) how I intend to work this.

Sunny Days In Second Grade-- each boy will get a composition book to use for all the things.  Day 1 they write the list of words.  And do one of the "tic-tac-toe" items you'll find here:  Tic-Tac-Toe Spelling Homework Freebie, Day 2 and 3 they will do a tic-tac-toe item as well, and Day 4 we will do a pre-test which if they ace, we will call the test and be done!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Manic Monday

The start of our final week of "school."  What that really means is that our regular school year activities are winding down (mostly co-op,) and I couldn't be happier. I love co-op. I really do. But it makes for such a long day that I'm looking forward to the break.  Lego Club and TKD will continue through summer. Lego Club is one day a month though so it's no biggie and TKD will have a break each month for camp (the boys will be attending a week there.)  doable. 

Today:  I teach. Back to back classes. Then get home for lunch and take the boys to TKD.  My shoulder (which I injured 6 months ago and finally just made an appt to have checked) is killing me this morning. That should make classes extra FUN!  I took ibuprofen. I just need it to do its thing now. 

This weekend was a whirlwind!  It was a ton of fun though. I spent ALL day Saturday with some of my favorite folks. Exploring Artsplosure in downtown Raleigh and eating and drinking. It was a good time. Yesterday, MADD put on those annual Kids obstacle course run and the boys both ran it twice. I volunteered and ran the slip-n-slide which was a joy for me.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Snapshots

One with her gorgeous purple hair. 

My hands!  Grape Ape. 

Wine and Design with The Bestie and some other beauties!

Four lost his first tooth!!!

Our last official co-op class of the year, we learned about coral reefs. 

Quill writing in Old Salem. 

Friday night Magic School Bus. 

Saturday at the arts festival. The Bestie filling out the "before I die" wall. 

Today at the MADD Crazy Lil Run obstacle course run for kids. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flashback Friday: Spirited Kids

Wordy Wednesday is a post I made about my favorite parenting advice author.  If you have a spirited, spunky, "difficult,"  Star-Girl/Boy in your family....I recommend her.  Also, if you don't get the Star Girl reference, you should read this.

Also, since there are no links in the original post, here is a link to the amazon page that has Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's books.  I got to see her speak in person once, right after the Power Struggles book came out.  She's amazing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Skinny Housewife: I AM SPARTAN

I talked about my Spartan leading up to it, but didn't get the POST-race blog up yet.  Today's the day!

Before I launch into pictures, I want to talk about this race.  FIRST-I can say it was the hardest thing I've ever done.  It pushed me past where I thought I could go.  It was physically draining.  The hardest obstacle (deemed by others...) was the bucket carry-I can't find my pic of that-but I totally felt like a BOSS during that one.  I do believe that carrying Four gave me good practice.  I held the bucket like I hold him and just powered through.  I even went back and helped my teammate with his bucket.  Because that's what Spartans DO!  For me personally, the hardest obstacle was the barbed wire.  You had to army crawl, or roll, under barbed wire for what felt like at least a full mile.  It was just grueling.  I hated it. I still hate it.  It's the one thing I'm LEAST looking forward to in the other two Spartan races I will do this year.  Ugh.  I did have to take some penalties, and it gave me a good gauge of what I need to work on for the upcoming races (pull-ups...lots and lots of pull-ups.)  SECOND-a friend who has done these races for a couple years, and then someone random on the Spartan FB page had this message "No one is ever a Spartan alone."  That message played true on the race course.  I saw people, who were clearly in tip-top physical condition and capable of blowing through the obstacle, stopping to help someone they didn't know who was struggling.  I was helped by strangers (and two Spartan volunteers.)  My teammate helped me.  I helped him.  We helped others.  Others helped us.  It was such an encompassing experience to become part of this tribe of athletes.  I'm humbled and honored.  I AM SPARTAN.  AROO.  AROO.  AROO.

Now, pictures!

My friend E and I, pre-race.

 You had to swim under this wall, we chose the "limbo" method, although, you see my face is still pretty much covered in mud.

Post-Fire jump.

Here is the badass finisher medal that I earned.  AND my SPRINT piece that fits the Trifecta medal.  

And a post-race selfie with E.

Last photo. If you haven't heard of Jamberry, or if you're feeling skeptical about the idea...this is for you.  These are Jamberry nail wraps on my fingers POST race (obvs.)  I didn't lose a single wrap during the race.  AND, I hadn't just applied them.  They were 19 days old and STILL withstood a Spartan.  If you want to check them out, click here:  Jamberry  I'm not a consultant, but that link will take you the page of a good friend of mine who is!  I don't get a kick-back of any sort from promoting her or the product, I just really believe in them.  Also, my nails still looked GREAT after I took the Jams off-because, hello, all that mud...they had to come off.  Better than they have ever looked after an OCR (Obstacle Course Run.)  Jamberry also lets you design nails, and I will be designing some Spartan themed wraps for my next 2 races now that I know how well they held up AND protected my natural nails.   I won't race naked anymore.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Two for Tuesday

Math Aids allows you to make custom math worksheets for the skills you are working on!  I kind of love this site right now.

Learning Language Arts Through Literature has been one of my favorite curriculum since One was around the age Four is now.  Wild.  I just pulled down our second grade level book (the red book) and have been using it with Three for a couple months.  I had forgotten how much I love it.  I'm so happy I saved them (I have them through 6th grade.)  The website allows you to print out a sample lesson to work through.  And I will say that there is some Bible in there (we recently did a lesson about David and Goliath) and I know that can upset some very secular folks.  Full disclosure and all that.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flashback Friday: Better Than A Book Report

50 standard book report alternatives