Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Christmas Countdown

Last year, I blogged at The Homeschool Classroom about a counting the days to Christmas tradition that involves reading Christmas themed books.  You can click here to read my article.  One note, we did open one book each day last December.  Sweet Julie selected and wrapped 24 books for Leah and Sam to take turns opening each day.  I haven't wrapped our Christmas books this year, but it is on my list to do before December 1st.
Here is the link to the post.

We also have a felt calendar that my mother made for my brothers and me when we were children.  It has a Christmas tree at the top with 24 pockets that hold ornaments at the bottom.  All of my children take turns putting an ornament on the tree beginning December 1st.

December is around the corner!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Menu and Miles

I did it!  Last week for the first time in a few weeks I completed all of my weekly miles for my marathon training.  40!

This is my marathon training so far:
Week 1:  26 miles--complete
Week 2:  30 miles--complete
Week 3:  33 miles--none
Week 4:  35 miles--walked a few
Week 5:  37 miles--walked a few
Week 6:  39 miles--ran 32...almost there
Week 7:  40 miles--complete!

This week, Week 8, features 44 miles with a long run of 18.  Well, since Lynn and I are running the St. Jude Half Marathon on Saturday, I am just going to get the miles in like this:  10, 7,7,7, and then the 13 to get to a total of 44.

My Menu
Sunday:  homemade potato soup
Monday:  pasta salad
Tuesday:  mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, black-eyed peas, sauteed zuchinni, green peas
Wednesday: sweet and sour vegetables served over brown rice
Thursday: bean and brown rice salad

You can visit Orgjunkie.com for more menu ideas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Thanksgivings

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend, celebrating at both my parents' and Jimmy's parents' homes. At both places all of the children and grandchildren were able to come for the food and fellowship, except for Jimmy.  It was his year to work Thanksgiving, but he will be off for Christmas and New Year's Eve and Day!

We enjoyed turkey, dressing, and all of the typical side dishes at both houses.  And of course delicious desserts.

Here are some pictures of my loved ones.

My brother Ryan and his wife Mary Margaret

Clay with my grandmother, Momo

The younger cousins playing Legos at my parents' house.

My brother Rhett, his wife Amanda, and their youngest son, Johnson.

My grandmother, Meme, with Olivia

Leah and Olivia with Millie Janalee

Leah holding Millie Janalee

Sam, Millie Janalee, and Olivia

Clay and Grace

The sisters-in-law
Jenny, Megan, Me

Julie, Millie Janalee, and Olivia

Elle, Will, and Millie Janalee

Olivia and Seth--born exactly one week apart!

 Clay, Russ, and Will, putting up Granmomma's tree.

 Julie, fluffing the branches and decorating

 Sam, helping the other younger cousins trim the tree.

The finished product.
Megan even brought presents to put under the tree!

I enjoyed seeing all of my family!  Now we have just a few short weeks until we all gather again for our Christmas celebrations.  I have a lot to do between now and then to prepare!

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Black Friday Experience

I have never shopped on Black Friday.  Normally I am either still at my parents' house visiting or on my way home to cook and then celebrate Thanksgiving with Jimmy's parents and siblings.  Plus, I like to shop ahead of time (except that this year I have not done so well). Also, my inbox is flooded with online Black Friday offers, so unless I am in the market for a big screen TV or a sofa, it seems like most of the deals can be found online as well as in the actual store.

But last night I got a taste of the Black Friday craziness!  Leah asked me to take her to Walmart so that she could buy some duck tape.  She is busy making Christmas presents for her family and friends, and she had run out.  It was about 6:45 PM.  I even had my mother call Walmart to see if they were open.  Ha!  Of course they were open!  I had no idea how busy they would be on Thanksgiving night.  I thought it wasn't Black Friday yet!

My first clue was the completely full parking lot.  Full.  We did find a parking place, but there were no buggies.  None.  As we entered the store we were greeted by lines and lines of people with almost empty buggies, just standing there, waiting.  And it was just not one line.  There were several lines criss-crossing and snaking all over that store.  From side to side.  Front to back.  Some lines led to the electronics department.  Some lines led to the toys.  Most of the lines led to I don't now where.  But the lines were there.  As Leah and I worked our way through these lines to actually shop, I overheard different people comment on how long they had been in line.  Wow!  And some of the people were already fussing!

After we gathered our duck tape plus a few more items, we worked our way to the check-out counter (and this was difficult with all of those people in all of those line with their buggies) which had no waiting.  Now that's a first for Walmart!  The shoppers were all in line to snatch up the deals, so we sailed through check-out.  I asked my checker what were of those people were waiting for.  She said, "TVs, video games, toys, and who knows what else!"  Then I asked her what time the madness would begin.  She told me that one sale began at 8:00 PM, and the next one at 10:00 PM.  I am so glad that we were home by 7:30 before the sales rush began!

Megan and Lynn have both participated in Black Friday in years past, and it seems like they have had success and lots of fun!  I have even considered meeting one of them to participate. But if I remember correctly, in past years the sales began at midnight or at 4 or 5 in the morning.  So they had the excitement of staying up all night or getting up really early......this year it seems like all of the big sales began at 8:00 PM or maybe even earlier.  That doesn't seem like as much fun!

Anyway, I just made one online Black Friday purchase yesterday, sitting on my parents' couch, using my laptop.  It wasn't that exciting except for the good deal that I got.  My Black Friday fun for today is to meet Lynn for our long run of 18 miles.  Then on to Kroger to buy groceries for the week.  And then home to cook for the Johnson Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

And that's my Black Friday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude Journal

For several years now.....well I think for 17 or 18 years, I have kept a gratitude journal.  Or sometimes I just call it a thankfulness list.  Anyway, it is just a list of things I am thankful for.  I simply write down five things each day that I am thankful for.  Over the years I have kept most of my lists in the front or back of spiral bound notebooks, notebooks that I am using for my current Bible study.  Currently I am using a really pretty gratitude journal that I bought for myself last March.  For the first time, I am numbering my lists, and I am on about five hundred or more.

For me, the lists serve as a journal of sorts.  The things that I list that I am thankful for each day reflect my current stage of life.  I do have gaps in my lists.....when I was pregnant with each of my five children and suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum (the fancy word for throwing up all day every day), I failed to keep up the gratitude lists.   But I can tell when I began to feel better, that's when I started listing things I was grateful for again (five things each day---and the first several days' list always included how thankful I was that I was not throwing up anymore!  From time to time I enjoy reading my gratitude lists from the past.  The lists bring back so many fond memories.  Of course my lists have recurring themes--my hope of salvation, my husband, my children, my family, my church family, my friends, my health, etc., but I try to list very specific things in these areas.  I also list simple things that I am thankful for too, like hot coffee first thing in the morning, a new book, a clean closet, etc.

Thanksgiving produces joy.

The more we think about and write on paper the blessings in our lives--the things that we are thankful for each day--the better our attitude is.

There is always, always something to be thankful for.

We are commanded in God's Word to be thankful, and there are no qualifiers or exceptions whenever Scripture mentions thankfulness.  We are to find things to be thankful for, and give thanks for our blessings to God.

I encourage you to begin your own gratitude journal on this day, Thanksgiving Day.  You don't need a fancy notebook, anything you have on hand is fine.  Just begin listing your blessings.  Thank God for your blessings.  Writing them down is therapeutic, and looking back on your lists to remind you of past blessings is beneficial too.  Five things you are thankful for each day.

Today I am thankful for spending the day with my family (parents, grandmothers, brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews).  I am sad that Jimmy had to work today and could not be with us, but I am thankful that he has a job, and that he works so tirelessly to provide for our family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Soup Recipes

Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. jarred garlic
1 five pound bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbs. Earth Balance *
2 Tbs. flour
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup almond milk *

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, salt, pepper, and the cubed potatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
While potatoes are simmering, make a white sauce.  Melt Earth Balance in a small pot.  Stir in flour until well blended and the mixture begins to thicken.  Gradually add the milk, a little bit at a time, letting the mixture thicken each time before adding more milk.  
Using a slotted spoon, remove a little more than half of the potatoes and place them in a bowl.  Mash them with a potato masher.  Then add the mashed potatoes back to the soup pot.  Add the white sauce.  Stir until well blended, and simmer a few more minutes.  Taste and add more salt if needed.
***You can use butter and regular milk if you prefer***

White Chili

2 cans white navy beans
2 cans Great Northern beans
1 can white corn
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs. jarred garlic
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 can chopped green chilies

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Put all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low 6-10 hours.  
Serve over tortilla chips or brown rice.
2 cups vegetable broth

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Good Running Week

Overall, my first week back at high mileage after 3 weeks of rest was a good running week.  I ended this week with a total of 32 miles.  My goal (although somewhat unrealistic) was 39 miles.  I am having trouble with my knee!

Today, Lynn and I had a great run.  It started out pretty cold at 6 AM, so I wore tights, pants, gloves, and four shirts!  It was so nice to be outside running with my dear friend Lynn.  I also enjoyed running with Leanna earlier this week.  Four weeks is a long time to not run with my friends.  Both Leanna and Lynn are being very patient with me as I rebuild my mileage and struggle with my knee.  In fact today, Lynn and I had the slowest average pace that we have ever had on a long run.  Our scheduled mileage for today was 18.  I set my watch to beep--five minutes running, one minute walking.  I wasn't sure how long my knee would hold up.  My plan was to run as far as I could.  I made it almost 15 miles before my knee began to hurt.  I walked the last mile to the van to get in a total of 16 miles this morning!  Hooray!  Lynn went ahead and finished all the way to 18 miles.

I am planning another 18 mile run next Friday.  I hope to make it the entire way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Holidays Are Near!

I am behind where I normally am this year, but I have begun!

For Thanksgiving, we celebrate on two different days--once with my side of the family, and once with Jimmy's side.  I help cook for each meal, and that is about all I do to prepare for Thanksgiving.  Our house has been decorated for fall since September, although I did put out different placemats for November.

I have begun making my pages for this year's Christmas Binder.  I ordered my Christmas cards yesterday, and we plan to buy our live Christmas tree this Saturday.  Yes.  Before Thanksgiving.  Jimmy is on call and working all of the Thanksgiving holidays, and the weekend after that is the St. Jude Half Marathon/Marathon, so this Saturday is the only day we can buy and decorate the tree!  Unless we wait until December 8, and that is just too far away!   Since I don't host a Thanksgiving gathering, I don't mind having my Christmas decorations out before Thanksgiving.

I have done some of my Christmas shopping, but I have a lot more to do.  I have some sewing projects planned (gifts for some family members), and I am looking forward to beginning those.  I need to get on Pinterest and look for some more unique gift ideas.

This weekend, in addition to trimming the tree, I hope to get all of my thoughts together and completely plan the next several weeks--until New Year's Day.  Then I will begin whittling away at that list.

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NACA Cross Country Championship

Last Friday, I joined the Spartan caravan and traveled to the Chattanooga area for the NACA Cross Country Championship weekend.  This fun event was held at Dayton, Tennessee at the Fort Bluff Camp.  We left our house at 8:30, and finally arrived (after a few potty breaks and a lunch break) at 4:30.  

We checked in, got our room assignments, dropped off our luggage and bedding, and the runners jogged the course.  I don't have any pictures of the boys accommodations, but I stayed in the girls' bunkhouse.....FUN!  We all stayed in one room that had triple bunk beds.  Sam stayed with me in the girls' bunkhouse, and we slept on the very top of one of the bunk beds.  This was quite an experience!

 the girls posing in the bunkhouse before our banquet

We joined the other runners for a nice banquet meal.  It was a fun night of food and fellowship.  The Spartans rarely see each other in nice clothes, so that was a treat!

 at the banquet

The children had some free time after the banquet, and then it was lights out!  I actually slept pretty well.  Morning came early though (6:00), and we all went to the dining hall for breakfast.  Here are some pictures of the young people at breakfast.

Next, Heather gave the Spartans some last minute instructions and a pep talk.  Then they all got on their uniforms and began warming up for the race.

 the girls' lodging

 Leah and Avery having fun during the races

 The Spartan Moms!

 The Spartans and another home schooled cross country team from Mississippi--from Hattiesburg.

One last picture of Leah on Sam on that very top bunk!

Jimmy had to work and couldn't join us on this two day trip.  So I drove all the way to Chattanooga and back!  My friend Julie Mc. and her daughter rode with us along with my three girls and Avery, Lynn's daughter.  Clay and Sam rode with Lynn and Kelly and their three boys.  I got to drive the girl van!  It really was a fun trip.

Both our girls and boys teams won 3rd place.  I think I boys scored better than they ever have in the past at this meet.

The Spartan XC season is officially over.  Olivia was sad after her race since it was her very last XC race!  That is hard to believe!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Menu and Miles

I am planning on jumping in my week 6 of marathon training this week.  I completed weeks one and two, took three weeks off, and now today, I jumped into week 6.  I am not sure how smart that is, but my marathon is 9 weeks away!  I am also planning to run the St. Jude Half Marathon in less than 3 weeks.  Actually, Lynn and I plan to run 5 miles before the race in order to get in a total of 18 miles for that day (our long run that week).  

I ran/walked 6 miles today.  I did pretty good, walking a quarter mile, then running up to 1.25 miles without stopping until mile 3.25.  Then I ran the rest without stopping.  It was fine, except that at mile 5 mile my knee began to hurt.  The same pain I have been experiencing while running for a couple of months now--when I run a long distance.  I think that from now until my marathon in January, I am going to do all of my runs in my old Brooks with my orthotics.  The only thing I have changed with my running is my shoes.  My cute Brooks hybrid shoes and my old Brooks without the orthotics just don't seem to be working for me.  

Miles this week:
Monday:  6
Tuesday:  9
Thursday:  6
Friday:  18

Menu this week:

Monday:  vegetables (steamed spinach, okra, corn on the cob, new potatoes, black eyed peas, roasted asparagus and carrots, and cornbread
Tuesday:  spaghetti, salad, homemade bread
Wednesday:  burritos, Mexican rice
Thursday:  potato and black bean wraps, salad
Friday:  BBQ wraps, baked onion wrings

Sam requests these muffins every week.

Pumpkin Muffins
(makes 24 muffins)

1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 29 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups other flour (oat or brown rice or a combo of the two)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix lemon juice and milk and set aside.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, syrup, and vanilla in large bowl.  Add milk mixture and stir.  Then add all dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  The batter will be thick.  Spoon batter into muffin pans.   I use paper liners, and I spray the liners with non-stick vegetable spray.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Please visit www.orgjunkie.com for more menus and recipes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Week in Review

Every day I say that I'm going to blog, and every day flies by without a chance for me to do it!

This was the last week of cross country practice, and after this weekend's big meet, things will slow down a little bit.  The St. Jude Marathon/Half Marathon is in 3 weeks!  Jimmy is signed up for the full marathon, and Olivia, Julie, Clay, and I are signed up for the half marathon.  Jimmy and Julie are both injured.  Julie is definitely not running.....she is resting from running for a few more weeks while she heals, and Jimmy has not decided yet. He has a knee injury that developed after the St. George Marathon last month.  And of course I am not up to par, but I do hope to be able to complete the half marathon.

I began running yesterday (just one day earlier than my doctor instructed!).  I began with 30 minutes of walking 1/4 mile and slowly running 1/2 mile.  Today I did a similar workout of walking 1/4 mile and running 1/2 mile, but a couple of times I ran farther than 1/2 mile before walking, and I ran faster than yesterday.  I was able to complete 3.87 miles in 45 minutes.  It's a nice start.

I tried two new recipes (both soup in the crock pot) this week, and they were both very good.  I will try to post the recipes this weekend.

We started three new read alouds this week, and I am really liking Eagle of the Ninth.  We have read only four chapters, but I think it may end up on my favorites list.  I can tell that the main character is going to grow and mature while facing life's disappointments and challenges.

I was able to deep clean Sam's room this week.  I had not done this in months.  The children helped me clean the upstairs and the basement, and I was so happy!  I am really trying not to overdo it.  I let the children do the vacuuming.

I am feeling really good this week.  The week before was yukky, so I am so glad to be feeling nearly normal!  Being able to run and walk make me feel so much better.

Well, that's the week.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Menu and Miles

Please visit OrgJunkie for more menu inspiration.

I am trying to recreate some sense of order around my home, so I am going to begin with my week's plan of menus and miles.


peanut butter toast
fruit/spinach/protein smoothies (They taste way better than they sound!)
pumpkin muffins
oatmeal or cereal

pasta salad
soup and salad

Friday:  veggie burgers (I bought the patties from Costco.)
Saturday:  white chili
Sunday:  15 bean soup
Monday:  mashed potatoes, lentil loaf, peas
Tuesday:  taco soup
Wednesday:  burritos and Mexican rice
Thursday:  black bean cakes, quinoa salad

I still have several more days until I am cleared to run.  The official date is November 9 (three weeks post surgery).  I may or may not run one day early.  I have a busy day planned for Friday, and I am not sure that that will be the best day for my latest running debut.  Prior to Thursday or Friday, I will walk.

I walked only 7.68 miles last week!  In three separate sessions (2, 2, and 3.68--which took me one hour!).  My goal for this week is to walk 30 minutes to one hour each day, Monday-Thursday.  This week's actual marathon training plan (for my January Disney Marathon) is 37 total miles with a medium run of 8 and a long run of 17.  Ha!  My modified, realistic goal of total miles this week is 10.

Even though I am only walking, and walking very slowly, the exercise makes me feel so much better.  I have never regretted a workout.  Never.  I only regret the days that I don't make myself get outside or on the treadmill and do it.

So that's my goal.  10 miles.  I hope I can post next Saturday or Sunday and say that I met my goal.

You set a goal too!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wrapping Up Our Spartan Season

Last week we celebrated a successful Spartan Homeschool Cross Country Team season with our annual End of the Year Pizza Party and awards presentation.  Although technically we have a few more days in our competitive season for our older runners....we are attending a National Christian Schools Championship XC Meet later this month.  Only the competitive runners are still attending our twice a week practices, and after the championship, we will have a break from XC practice until early March. 

 The Spartans

 The Senior Spartan Runners
I can't believe that Olivia is a Senior!

 just waiting for the next photo

 Coach Heather and Olivia
Heather is an awesome XC coach, a super mentor and example to the runners, and one of my best friends!

Some of the younger Spartans.
Before we know it, they will be in the Senior Picture!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Quick Blog Post

What a week this has been!

I have been up and down physically and emotionally....trying to balance rest with resuming my normal household duties while battling the lingering feeling that I am always behind.

I have walked a total of 4.5 miles this week--over three days.  Baby steps!  I hope to walk 2 miles today, and I have a long walk of 1 hour planned for tomorrow!

Since it is the first of a new month, today is the day for my monthly Sam's and Walmart shopping, as well as my weekly grocery shopping.  I need to make my menu plan and all of my lists and then go to town.  Jimmy is off today, so it is a non-school but do lots of work day. 

We finished two read aloud books in Sonlight yesterday (always a satisfying feeling to finish a book), and I dropped one book from Clay's Core W in the middle of it and began with the next book on Wednesday.  Every once in a while I do that.  We try and try to read some of the Sonlight books, and then I just have to say you know what? we are just not going to finish this book. We will start the next one.  So that's what we did this week.  And I am so glad.

That pretty much sums up the week.