My Journey in Pounds

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I'm Not the Best Teacher

Confession #1 - my dog is sabotaging my blogging because he's tired of seeing me do all these other things and not play with him. So he's throwing his face on my keyboard and pushing my hands out of the way. I may have horrible grammatical errors - more than the usual. Bear with me.

Confession #2 - I'm jacked up on Coca-cola and Cookies and cream hershey's chocolate which I downed with some excedrine to help me get rid of a horrible tension headache/migraine I've had all day.  And I didn't excercise.

Confession #3 - the above mentioned headache had me in a Jackyl/Dr.Hyde mode with the kiddos.  I swayed between screaming like an ogre because I was in tears from the pain, to feeling guilty, to being as sweet and loving as I could (and quiet) in order to compensate for my earlier explosion.

At any given moment, a stay at home/homeschooling mom will wonder if she's schizophrenic.  It's true - ask around!

Fortunately we are not crazy! Or alone!

Confession #4 - the 's' key on my laptop is super sensitive and has added an extra 's' to every other word.  I have now calculated that I personally need $1650 to have fully functional electronics. Just for me. Not counting anything for the kiddos or anything the husband is likely to buy because where there is a will, he will make a way.  This is just my dream money to have a working new laptop, a printer, and a smart phone in which all it's features work more often than not.

Word of caution: the HTC1 and Android is like Obamacare - good in THEORY, horrible in practice. Just sayin'.

I'm at a testing point in my life because we found out today that for the most random of reasons, the children and I were kicked off the hubby's medical insurance, and we won't be reinstated until we prove we are his family... and then maybe it will be back-dated to provide continuous care.  Fan-freakin'-tastic!  Because one of my RA medications cost - and we found out today when we tried to pick up a refill that I've needed since last Friday - $137.  So I told Paul I'll just deal with it until the insurance issue is resolved.

I hope the kids and I survive.  I hate to admit it, but I have 0 patience, grace, or tolerance when I'm in pain.  And I have a high pain tolerance to begin with.  It's like constantly hearing fingernails at a blackboard for me; I get to a point where I can't handle another thing.  I know this full well. This was me today.  This is not good for a homeschooling family.

But I have been reminded, over and over, that God loves me because of who I am, not what I can do - and all my children need from me is to do less and be there more.  So where normally I'd be like, "Really?!?  God, You had to throw this our way now?!?!"  Something in me senses that this trial season will deepen my relationship with God.  Instead, my prayer tonight is more like, "God, You are my Shepherd. And You are a Good Shepherd.  If You are leading me through this valley, I will follow close after You because I trust in the pasture You are planning to take me to!  I believe I can experience victory - even over my pain, my temper, and my emotions - right here, right now, with You.  Your Word says You are gentle with the 'momma lambs' and their babies as You shepherd them, and I know You will continue to carry the kids and I through it all."

What I'm experiencing in this walk with God is that He's never failed to show me His presence.  Even through little things. Last Sunday Paul gave the only $1 we had for offering. It was no biggie; we had food and gas saved up since last paycheck.  I wasn't worried about only having $1 left until this Friday.  I found no reason to object to him giving that $1 in the offering.  It's not our biggest offering.  It wasn't our biggest sacrifice either.  But when we got home, I found a piece of mail I had not opened yet, and as I did $2 fell out in singles on the floor.  This survey junk mail sent us $2 in the mail.  Paul and I couldn't help but laugh but the reality is this is how God works - you can't outgive Him, and He desires to bless you more than you desire to honor Him.  I don't feel like I needed the $2 but I believe He sent that our way just to show us He's here.

As far as the homeschooling goes, God is providing above-natural (or "supernatural") results.  My kids are progressing in leaps and bounds and I know it's not the result of my amazing parenting and teaching techniques.  All of us homeschooling moms try our best but we are very honest - there are days when a lesson is a movie, physical education is "Go ride your bikes outside!" and we may have "days off" at random.  That's just the flow of life.  And as we do "life" together, God has put a desire in my children to expand their knowledge all on their own initiative, and it's paying off greater than I could've ever planned or taught.

Tonight while Daddy was making pasta and I had a hot rice sock over my head and sunglasses on (in my living room... It was THAT kind of headache), the kids climbed up on the kitchen table to see the pot boiling and had an impromptu science lesson on the cycle of water, evaporation and condensation.  I could totally take credit for creating a 24/7 classroom environment where they don't ever really stop learning - and Paul loves to share his science knowledge with anyone who will sit still long enough to indulge him - so as parents we both agreed that we would teach them as their curiosity arises and never say, "ask about that tomorrow while you're doing schoolwork".  What I cannot take credit for is what the older 2 kids did next:  Without being told to, they brought down their science notebooks and drew their "science project" of watching a pot boil water, and explained with notes the cycles with charts and arrows.  At 7pm. While dad was making dinner. Why? God knows. Why not?  This is the work of God answering my prayers of what I dreamed homeschooling would accomplish, academically, in the kids.

The older two also loaded the dishwasher and did dishes.  The younger one took a nap as a favor to me because I had a headache.  They spent time thinking of ways to bless me.  That's not something I can take credit for at all.  I know that's the work of Jesus in their hearts.

They refused to go to sleep without Paul. We were blessed with a little more cash and Paul knew I needed the items in confession #2 if nothing that I had done all day helped.  It's now 9pm and I have just removed the sunglasses, but now I have the rice sock over my eyes and it is discreetly absorbing the tears as a result of being so tired and in so much pain.  So Caleb lays down next to me just to cuddle (and he's the least cuddliest of them all) and the other two sit with their Bibles and they are sharing verses they like out loud.  They were not told it's Bible time.  They were told to get ready for bed.  But Caleb told them we need to read a Bible story before bed and they needed to have everything ready for when daddy got home.  I can't take credit for that - I haven't been able to stare at printed words all day.  But even in hearing them pray I know Jesus is working in their lives because they've moved on from memorized prayer ("Now I lay me down to sleep...") to this conversational prayer where they just express their hearts to God in their own words.

I see Anakin write questions about Bible topics and then use the concordance in his Bible to find the verses and answer his own questions.  And he's decided to read the book of Nehemiah.  And he has done research on Rosh Hashana and is planning for our family to celebrate it and has thought of what to fast to welcome the new year (disclaimer, we are not Jewish).  And when he read in Social Studies the Cherokee account of the beginning of the world, he drew a Vinn diagram to compare and contrast their beliefs against Genesis... after his social studies assignment... Why? God knows. And I'm ok with that. I'm ok with not always being the teacher and with some self-directed items added to the lesson plan.  Why not? I'm in no rush. I'm not going to tell him, "Put that away, we need to move on to something else now."

I saw my 4 year old write a list of spelling words 3 times, because it's what the older 2 were doing, so I gave him a small list of sight-words - lo and behold, he could already read them and was more than happy to practice spelling them and practice his handwriting.  I also saw this 4 year old work out multiplication with tangibles (blocks), because adding and subtracting (and counting, for crying out loud) was too easy for him.  So he was manipulating blocks in groups of 5 and counting by fives to figure out the multiplication.  I saw my 4 year old count by 5s and then do subtraction from the 40s and 50s by counting in reverse per how many number of blocks he was taking away.

I saw my 6 year old pick up a 3rd grade chapter book during reading time.  She said the "Little Bear" books were "kinda' boring".  My first temptation was to say, "Oh no sweetie that's too hard for you! Let's pick out an easier book", but before the words came out the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart that it would make her feel stupid.  Instead I told her, "Grab your bookmark, because that book is meant to take a little bit longer than the books you are used to. It may take you a few days or a few weeks to read all of it.  Just be patient with yourself and take your time."  And she read for a total of 45 minutes today.  Her confidence is up. She said she loves it!  She's finding it funny so far.  Confidence and patience is a big thing for her - when her siblings can read simple things faster than her (and that's including Caleb, my 4 year old) because it takes her a second to sort everything out, she can get so discouraged.  When she goes to ballet and she's in a classroom with girls who have the whole ballet gear and have taken dance classes since they were 3, and she can't "get it" as fast as they do - I see the light flicker off in her eyes for a split second, almost invisible to any other eye but mom's, and then courage comes in as she takes a deep breath, smiles, and tries again.  I know she wants to fit in more.  I know she will too because this matters more to her than it does to them.  I see the other girls leave class ready to do the next thing as they jump into their mother's vans and Brielle, the boys and I are walking home for 30 minutes and it's cold outside.  Those little girls don't seem to have a care in the world, while Brielle is lost in thought half the way before she finally says, "I suck at spinning."  And here I am, thankful for this teachable moment in perseverance and confidence, because I know full well that if she was in public school she would get lost in thoughts like this, and drown before anyone even noticed, because it happened often to me.  But it's in moments like our conversation home from Ballet, or when she picks out a tough book, or she chooses to read an NIV Bible (not even the NIrV which is easier for children to read), or she gives multiplication a try on Khan Academy, or she attempted division during her learning assessment and spent 45 minutes on 81/9 (because she drew 81 objects on a piece of paper and circled 9 even groups - and found the right answer to see how many needed to be in a group so that it's evenly divided by 9), these moments I say, "Thank You, Jesus!" I know he's putting a fire of resilience in her as she discovers there is nothing she cannot do... she may just have to learn it first.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not back to the grind, back to the dream!

So I woke up to this image, and I shared that on Facebook...

Also, today, I shared that I was the female, homeschooling version of that guy from Hell's Kitchen...

Bi-polar? Not really. But it has been a rough couple of weeks, and I lost sight that my kids are my dream and my passion.  Our family has got some things we need to work on (don't we all?), and it has been revealing to say the least.
Control, being my major issue, is where I seem to be tested the most.  In my home, I control the activities and the environment.  The kids follow happily after my lead like sheep to the fold.

Out in public, with a gazillion other factors I cannot control... my kids act like real-live tarzans just brought back to civilization.  And so I've yelled - ALOT - in public, and when my stress level is through the roof, my kids find something NEW to embarrass me with.

Parenting fail? That's how it feels.  But I think God wanted to show me that I needed to work on this area of my life and turn this "grindstone" into my "passion".  Groceries, errands, and cleaning is not fun for anyone.  And unfortunately, that was the line-up for the weekend so that we are prepared for winter.  And the whole time my mind was on all the other things I could be doing "next" - when will I finish my degree? And in what? Will I ever be a beach body coach? Or a physical trainer?  Will I have a business? Write a book?  What can I do now to prepare myself for when I'm done with this stay-at-home mommy thing?!?
 Why do I want to be done with this stay-at-home mommy thing?  I just started.  And when I look at old photos of the kiddos, I regret how much I missed the first 7 years of mommyhood (I've been a mom for 8 years now?!?  When did that happen?!).  But the movie "Mom's Night Out" would not have even been thought of if being a mommy was as glorious as Angelina Jolie makes it out to be.

Then again, since my last blog everything has been so... un-routine... That it's unfair to the children and to myself to hold us to a Huxtable family standards.  To start, sometime 2 weeks ago we got sick. After Labor Day the husband went through a very stressful period at work and got home ill - sore throat, runny nose, headache, fevers... and passed it down to us over the period of 8 days.  I pushed through that week, exercising as much as I physically could (although I was so frustrated I couldn't breathe well enough to improve my running time!), taking care of the household + sick husband + sick kiddo (Anakin's schoolwork revolved around medications, poor boy!) + sick me.  And as many Mommies now, we throw ourselves under the bus until everyone else in the house is squared away.  Add to that the stress that I won't be helping this month as much as I usually do financially with my part-time job because my store is being remodeled and I haven't worked in 2 weeks... and the week before that, I only worked 3 hours.  That's, with commission, a whopping $60 from me this month. MONTH.  And keeping my chin up with my personal issues, I also grieved and prayed with a friend who unsuspectingly lost her father about 8000 miles away.  A downer to living in Alaska - you live a $1000 plane ticket ride to anywhere.  I worried about her. I mourned with her.

Although life tends to come at you in this way, random unexpected, unbalanced things flying at you all the time, I'm pretty sure that this perfect storm of circumstances and horrible outdoor weather did not do us justice.  I'm not saying circumstances turned my kids into little demons.  But if I'm completely honest, I'm positive there were moments at home where I mentally "checked out" on the kids, and then "checked back in" to have a fit when Caleb put something in his ear out in public... never mind the fact that he was probably doing that habitually at home often and I wasn't addressing it.

So back to this morning post, my mentality shifted: I am living my passion.  I'm not going to the grindstone of a job or a class, I'm doing right now exactly what I feel like doing.  It's a dream come true, although I'm all the more empty in the pocketbook for it.  God is working in me and that's the best kind of self-improvement anyone can ever ask for.  My vision for the future is hazy but I'm at a perfect platform to start from.  And even though the school year just started, my kids are making progress by leaps and bounds.  I know I don't get paid to do this, and I don't always get a thank you, and the sacrifice feels so big, and I don't get to clock in and out, but it is so rewarding to witness my children expanding their knowledge and their faith as full and as far out as they want to go... the sky is the limit... I've heard it said that you find something you can do from sunset to sunrise and that's your dream... I'm living it!

I must confess though, that my diet and my exercise recently has been haphazard at best.   But it's in this crucible that I've discovered some things about myself. Like the fact that I LOVE vegetables.  I had a week of eating junk food out of a box (because it's cheap and we were waiting on payday), went to Golden Corral on Sunday, and piled 1 (yup! Just ONE!) plate with Brussels sprouts, salad, cabbage, and fried okra.  And some beef.  This wasn't me trying to "eat skinny" or "stick to a diet" (who the heck goes to a buffet if they're on a diet!?), this was the stuff I was drooling after!  (And before anyone puts me on a pedestal, I'll add I also had a bowl with half bread pudding and half cherry pie... see... not "dieting"!)

Another thing I discovered is that I love running. I'm a runner at heart.  Every non-running work out I did was in the hopes that it would improve my running.   Any day I was supposed to run, but couldn't, I was cranky.  I didn't even make it to the gym to lift weights, so I did 21 Day Fix at home, and my motivation for the grind was to be a better runner. More endurance. Flexibility. Strength.

I was super frustrated that it takes me 46 minutes to do 2.75 miles. Which means I'm no where near running a 5K in 30 minutes (make that an hour for this slowpoke).  But it's an improvement to know I can hold a steady, albeit slow jog for 35 consecutive minutes.  So I researched my usual blogs and sites and found a running-based weight loss plan I started today.  I will run more often, sometimes endurance runs, sometimes just for a quick warm up, and sometimes to build speed (yes, that means at times I will sprint. Lord Jesus have mercy on me.).  And strength training and yoga will be more supplementary.  The beautiful thing about the Runtastic app, specially since I went pro (best $1.99 I've ever spent), is that I can build my own interval plan. Or set my own running goals.  I can put all I want to accomplish in a run into the app and only use one app to voice coach me.  Then the phone goes in my pocket and I'm done.  And the training plan was free (here ya go!).  I can only pray for no snow the next 8 weeks, but I wouldn't be surprised if I complete the plan on a treadmill at the gym.  Oh well.

I cannot conceive in my own mind how or why all this is important now, and how it can result in anything big in the future.  I can't see me standing in front of thousands and speaking about my life as a homeschooling mom and a runner as if it was a great, inspirational achievement.  At least, not in comparison to anyone else I would pay to go hear.  What I'm doing now doesn't seem to benefit anyone but my family and me.  And it may be that my life's work, all God ever allows me to fulfill, is only to reach and bless the four people and a dog that live under the same roof as me.  I confess I feel like I have so much more to share, and so much more I would like to influence.  But I've never been one to be lackadaisical with anything I put my hands to, so I will give this season in my life my best until God opens new doors for me.  I think it will be worth it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Scale Isn't Moving

I'm finding myself getting stronger in my work outs, which is a huge perk - when you can do more of a work out, do more reps, do more weights, run longer... It's a little at a time, but it has made me addicted to doing something every day.

And then you'll always see someone "lap" you or out-lift you, but you just have to keep focusing on being better than YOU were last time... You lose in the comparison game.  You need to celebrate YOUR progress.

At the same time, I'm feeling like I need more rest.  I can't spend all my day on the go.  I need a nap, or I need to go to bed earlier, or sleep in a little longer.  I need recovery time, not just physically but also mentally.  So I find myself using exercise time to recover mentally and then reading time to recover physically.  But some days you just need rest.

Then when it comes to my eating, I've been doing ok. Most days during the week I eat healthy consistently.  Then weekends is always a curve ball and I indulge here and there, but somehow I end up either eating over my calorie budget by a little bit or skipping a meal and not eating enough.  And junk food creeps in to my life on weekends, usually around "burn out time", when I need to recover (like a nap) but I can't because I have to work or something, and I start craving the caffeine/sugar rush just to get me through the next few hours. 

I find that it's difficult to maintain balance, but it's in the balance that you perform at your best.

Still, overall I feel stronger, I look slimmer in the mirror, and I know I'm working hard.  I also know that even at a Chinese buffet I can make healthy-ish choices and snot eat until I can't breathe and load up on vegetables and protein... and only one fried wonton... as opposed to four loaded plates of carbs... I know this, because I did it this past Sunday and I walked away from a buffet feeling pretty darn good!

Our groceries are less than ideal but I'm trying to have a veggie or fruit with every meal and go easy on the carbs. Unfortunately, mac and cheese is soooo cheap and sooooo fast.  Portion control is essential here.

And now clothes fit loose and I feel like I need to go shopping because everything looks baggy on me, and you'd think this would be a good thing (like, yay! Shopping!) except I'm broke and I can't go shopping and it might be another month before I can set aside some cash for that.  Oh well, it's a nice problem to have.

But my confession is... the scale has not budged.  In one month.

I went from squatting 35 lbs to squatting with 65 lbs on my shoulders, from running 5 and 8 minute intervals to jogging 25 consecutive intervals, from working out 30 minutes a day to working out closer to an hour a day and still staying active with the children... And the scale has not budged.

I feel like I should be 10 lbs lighter by now, but nope.  It's not moving.

I reason with myself that it's probably because I'm building muscle, I don't beat myself up too much for the quesarito I had for dinner Friday night from Taco Bell (and I shared it with my daughter!), and I try not to let that scale bug me.  I know I shouldn't.  I know it may not budge for a while and I can't give up.

Still, I think it mocks me, and if I let it get to my head, I start second-guessing every meal I've had, every work out I've done, until I no longer feel proud of myself or happy with what I've done.  And that's a quick way to failure and a mindset I cannot entertain because I can't quit now. I started at 207 in March. I'm at 184.9 through August.  I'm still succeeding.  I have to see it through.

And it's not like donuts or cake tempt me all the time, or like I feel like I'm punishing myself when I have a salad for lunch.  I actually don't crave sweets.  My weakness is being tired when I can't take a nap - that's when I crave a soda and chips, or fast food.  And I love eating healthy.  I love that salad because I don't feel weighed down after I eat it, I don't go into a sugar comma, and I feel good. It tastes good to me.  I'm also happy about my protein shake and my almond milk and my whole wheat bread.  I'm happy running and exercising and sweating because it feels good to me.  So it's not like the previous diet seasons where I felt miserable all the time and I didn't see results.  This feels pretty good.  My "normal" is pretty healthy and only getting stronger, and it feels good.  I am happier with myself on a daily basis, I don't live in "self-loathing-ville" anymore.

I just want to have more to show for it.

Then again, I've stayed constant all through out this month.  Which means that even on Chinese buffet Sunday or Taco Bell Friday night, I'm not eating this way regularly and I'm not gaining weight.  It also means that on "that time of the month" when I'm retaining water and I'm bloated and sluggish, I'm still not gaining weight.  And on the days where all I did was walk, and on the days where I happily enjoyed a coke... I am not gaining weight.  Which means for the most part, I'm doing something right.  I'm not stuck in my old habits. So it doesn't really bother me that the scale hasn't budged at all.... It will by the end of next month.

I will see some changes by the end of September, I know it.  I know I'm putting in the work and I have faith it will produce results.  I can only improve from here.