Friday, September 28, 2007

Family Fitness Thursdays 9/27/2007

So, how we doing on the fitness thing?

We've been up early most days doing some moving and then walking. It's been harder this week as we all have sinus problems with the changing weather--seems to happen each season change!

It's funny how when you're getting up earlier and earlier suddenly 9 am seems like the middle of the day instead of "First thing in the morning" LOL. This is especially helpful to us since we have co-op every other week bright and early at 9 am, and I no longer fear sleeping in on that day and missing the first session.

I found that moving in the morning, before doing anything else, wakes me up out of that fog.

Exercise is one of those things that the majority of us really don't wake up wanting to do (I think anyway) but it is something that most of us get into once we start moving. I never wake up saying...."I want to stretch and lift weights!" but by the time I am midway through my workout I feel better and enjoy it.

By the way, to join Family Fitness Thursdays on your blog, just click on the link below, and fill in the information on the next page.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Strength for the Day

I think it is safe to say that most of us moms are tired much of the time...especially when we have really young children. For me that season is fading fast (the youngest human here is 8 and so only kittens keep me up if anything does), but yet I receive some emails often from moms who have younger children who want to know how I do it all. Here's a few thoughts, including some insights from yesterday's Sunday school class.

Firstly, if you have five children under 6, you need to know that when I also had five children under six I basically was lucky to have dinner on the table sometime before bedtime. There are times and seasons to life, and while all of your young ones are still just old enough to make messes but not quite old enough to be effective helpers on a consistent basis, other things have to be put on hold that are not quite as important (hobbies, projects, group involvements, outside commitments, egroups, etc.). I think it is useful to have something that you do that helps you to be refreshed and come back to your primary job as mommy with your batteries recharged, but it is a balance you have to acheive between your hobby refreshing you, to your hobby stretching you thin or becoming an escape from real life responsibilities.

Secondly, eating better...I'm not talking a perfect diet either. If you tend to be a perfectionist about eating and when you fail to stick to your raw foodism or your low carb or whatever strict diet, you go off on a junk food binge because you feel like you "failed", then you are causing more harm than good. From talking with other moms, I've noticed this is common to one degree or another. Eat good food, but allow yourself grace. Take baby steps to healthier eating so that the changes last longer. Drink lots of water, and get your body moving a little bit every day, and you will find you feel better. moving a little bit every day, that means what it says...if you don't exercise now, do maybe five minutes of simple stretching. You can find some info in a pdf file on this site: in their downloads section...don't just go from couch potato to trying to run 5 miles or working out for an hour in the gym. You WILL be tired!

Thirdly, but perhaps most importantly for a Christian, spend time being refreshed in the Lord. This includes gathering with other believers in your local church, and also private devotional time. I think the tendency I used to have was to look at my devotional times as something else to check off of my list of things to do. But, instead of being a duty, we should view our times with the Lord as a time when God encourages us and reassures us of His love. That was something we learned in Sunday School yesterday. Our teacher is going through the Psalms and was teaching out of Psalm 27. In this psalm, David is warring against his enemies, and reaffirming his trust and hope in the Lord to deliver him. The observation was also made in class that we don't go to the "fortress" to hie but to gain strength to face our enemies (and the Christian's enemies are the devil, the world, and our own flesh). That fortress is our Lord.

The Proverbs 31 woman is pretty amazing and a challenge to all of us ladies, I think, but years ago as I was doing a study (and making a list of everything I thought this passage was telling me I had to do!), i realized that it doesn't say "this is what her DAY looks like.." it was speaking of her whole life...she wasn't just home from the hospital with a new baby, several toddlers, and no help. She managed a household full of servants, ran a cottage industry, wisely managed the household resources, and so forth. If anything, her children come across, in the end of the passage, as being older and looking back at their mother's life, and calling her blessed...the whole point of the passage was that a virtuous wife was indeed RARE...but this is what the pattern of her life looks like, something for us to shoot for as we go through life. It was not to discourage as about not being able to find the time today to plant vineyards, sew sashes and manage our households, or hear our 2 year olds rise up and call us blessed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Piano Lessons

I wish I had piano lessons when I was a kid.

I've always been passionate about music, and have always longed to be able to play. I started piano lessons a few weeks ago...and making progress. This has been an interesting year for me as I have been not only doing piano, but also gotten involved with the Handbell Choir at church...woo hoo.

This morning, we again awoke early, did about 25 minutes of Pilates and then walked a mile with the kids around our neighborhood in the early dawn. I got some more good news too...I went to the chiropractor for the first time in many months, and I weighed in on their scale. Last time I was their (in May), I weighed in about 40 lbs more than I do right now!!! I was so discouraged by the weight gain that I really haven't stepped on a scale in a while. I guess maybe all of that salad, fruit, and walking has paid off. We have eaten salad 4 out of 7 nights this summer, and I have taken a walk most days, too. Woo Hoo.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The President's Active Lifestyle Award

I'm making progress losing weight. I'm down 23 lbs, just from working out more. Recently, I found a great resource I wanted to share with all of you mommas, because it can not only help YOU and give YOU a goal to work towards, but also give your children a goal to work towards as well. It's called the The President's Active Lifestyle Award. Anyone remember doing the President's physical fitness award in elementary school gym class? Or, in my case, getting laughed at while failing miserably at getting the PPFA? Well, that is still around too (and open to homeschoolers!!!) but this one is much more practical as it helps to build the habit of an active lifestyle into our young ones.Our homeschooling co-op is working towards the PPFA and the PALA for our gym class.

After reading about it, I went to the website to find out if moms could also try for the active lifestyle award, since I am helping my kids get in the activity for their logs. I found out that we can register online (as can families!) and keep track of our activity from their website.

Today is day one for me registering, and my 30 minutes of activity (kids have to do 60 minutes) was going through a light callisthetic, stretching, and weight training routine with my kids using 1.5 lb hand weights. It's based on my weight loss pilates DVD that I bought at Walmart, but the DVD has proven difficult for a few reasons, not the least of which is the immodest clothing and cleavage which my son doesn't need to ponder. We also found the choreography harder for the kids, so I am doing the same exercises, plus some work with free weights, and of course situps and push ups to practice for the PPFA.

On another topic that is somewhat related, my husband and my kids were talking about how he is always tired, and he said to them that they should try to get up at 4:30 am every day...they'd be tired too. Well they said, "Sure, wake us up" (Thanks, honey and kids, I really didn't want to get up at 4:30...).Anyway, for the last few days we've been up at that dreadful hour, which has given the added blessing of giving us time to work out. Starting tomorrow, we're going to go marching around town at 6:00am for a walk. The PALA requires kids do either 60 minutes of working out or 11,000 steps for girls and 13,000 steps for boys (that's roughly 3-4 miles) 5 days out of 7 for 13 continuous weeks. Once around our neighborhood is exactly 1 mile, so if we go two times, plus do our callesthetics, we should be good....and I'll go beyond what is required of me as I only have to do 30 minutes of working out...but with my, um, large size, it won't kill me to do a hour with the kids.

So, who else is in? What other families are going to go for the PALA? Who's done it already?

Monday, September 17, 2007


Kay Wrote,

I am so glad I didnt plant Oregano now. I planted basil which has done
great, but now after reading Penny's comment, I am wondering about next
year because it did go to seed. My dill has done great this year also!


I think it depends on where you live, about the basil. My basil grows well, but here in Michigan it is an annual, and I have to replant it every year. Thankfully it hasn't taken over. :-) Although I don't think I would mind if it did! I have more use for basil than I do for oregano!

By the way, congratulations on the baby! Woo hoo.

Oregano is a pest...after all of that oregano we dug up, and even after turning the ground under, guess what is poking up through the ground?? I think I would try to burn it all if I wasn't concerned about my apple and cherry trees.

Starting a Garden

Narelle recently wrote,

Hello, Kimberly (that's my middle name!) I am a newbie to your
site...but I recently purchased a few of your ebooks and thoroughly
enjoyed them! I too am trying to establish a good garden for my family,
and had a blast this summer, and learned a lot too! I too am wanting a
garden that is productive, while attractive! I wanted to ask if you
minded me asking you a couple of questions as to gardening as your
garden is pretty much what I have been aiming for? I'll tack them on
here, and if you don't have time, I understand as I am a busy momma
too, with 4 kids 7 and under. OK...How many raspberry/blackberry plants
would you need for a family of 6 to provide enough fresh and plenty for
canning/freezing/jam/pie fillings etc. Do you recommend thornless or
thorny (I'd like the kids to be able to pick them without too much
pain, but don't want to sacrifice flavour either!) (tha't my main
question, is how much do I need....tomatoes, pickles) I too would like
currants, have planted a red lake, but it's not doing so
great...husband loves blackcurrant juice. I too have been looking into was like reading a book I had written myself! LOL Hope
you are doing well, and I truly hope this isn't a bother for you! You
have been a blessing to me already...Thank you! Narelle

The thing about raspberries and blackberries is that they do spread over time, and can be easily propogated (made to spread) so when buying them, if you bought a couple of packages of raspberry canes (maybe 20?) you could quickly turn that into an awful lot of raspberries, once they get established. The nice thing about that too, is that it would give you the chance to get used to having your rapsberries, and seeing how much of them you would use.

I think the Thornless Red Laethams have the best flavor of all of the raspberries we have, and the Purple Royalty Raspberry comes in a close second (those have thorns). The Laetham's don't spread as fast, but the fruit is enormous, and there are rarely any thorns. The Royalty also produces a nice, big fruit with lots of flavor.

As for how much of other things you need, it depends on a lot of things, such as where you live, and what sort of growing season you have, and how you plan to use what you are growing. I also add one more thing to that list: how much does it cost in the store vs. how hard is it to grow/harvest/preserve? When our weather doesn't cooperate too well up here in Michigan, I need way more plants of peppers and tomatos than when we have nicer, milder weather (at which time we usually have an over-abundance of tomatos and peppers). Usually, though, this is what we plant and how we use it:

  • 50 Roma Tomato plants (canned Tomato sauce and Salsa--I do about 100 jars of sauce and 250 of salsa on average)

  • 25 Red Pepper Plants--these will produce both green and red peppers but require a long growing season to get "really red" (roasted red pepper sauce, salsa, relish, stir fries)

  • 100 sets of onions--SETS NOT SEEDS! (used in Salsa, pickles, and other canning recipes requiring lots of onions).

  • 50 cloves of garlic (used mostly in canning recipes but also as roasted garlic spread on toast, and also used fresh)

  • about 10-20 pickle plants (used for relish, bread and butter pickles, and also fresh in the salad when peeled--I do about 200 jars)

  • 5 Hot Pepper Plants of various types--these are quite prolific (used in salsa, and also dried for use in Chili and other mexican dishes later). If you have very young children you may want to be extra cautious about these as they can burn skin badly if broken open. Only adults can and should handle them, with gloves on. You need to be careful about having them in the dehydrator can be really strong. I find it easier to dry them somewhere out of the way like the basement.

  • I started with 10 strawberry plants, but now I have about 100 by just clipping and replanting the "runners" from the original plants. Now that I have lots of plants, I either give away or sell the young plants. Sometimes I use them to replace plants that don't look like they are doing too well. The first year with strawberries, they make very small berries, but as they get older, the berries get bigger and more plenteous. Everbearing Varieties don't spread as much but have 2 main harvests per year. Junebearing spread faster and only have a harvest in June.

  • My 2 grapevines make about 3 bushels of grapes.

  • My 1 apple tree has been making about 2 peck to 1 bushel of apples within 6 years of planting (our's is 9 years old).

  • 2 packages of Basil Seeds (I freeze basil chopped fine in ice cube trays.)

I think we have given up on corn. It takes up a lot of room and really depletes the soil. Besides that, it can be purchased cheaply from a local organic farm stand.

I often plant other things too which we just enjoy fresh, such as radishes, watermelon, cucumbers (not the pickle variety), squash, pumpkins, various herbs (some of which are perennial and have been in the garden for a long time now), and snow peas. What I listed for you here is what we use for preserving mostly.

About your currants, some currant plants tend to disease, which is why for years currants and gooseberries were outlawed in some states (this ban was lifted, as I understand it, by varieties that are less prone to the diseases that killed pine trees which these plants carried). You may want to go to the library and find Rodale's "Weed, Disease, and Pest I.D. Guide" which is a very handy reference (in fact, I think it is a good one to purchase as you will refer to it again and again). This way, you can check to see if there are any problems with the currant plant itself. My currants grow crazy, but mine are the red variety. The other idea is to ask someone at the nursery you bought them from. Usually mail order is not as good as you want something that has already been living in your local area, especially if it is an "investment" like a fruit tree or bush. A nursery is also a good source of gardening advice relating to big purchases such as bushes, trees, and vines. Still, if you bought it from a catalogue or website, you may want to ask them for some advice too.