Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Short Update!

I don't have too much time today but I'm in between stuff at the moment so thought I'd write. See? I am trying to make good on my promise to post more! The bread baking and other stuff-making is still continuing. Haven't had time to take pictures and list the rest of my stuff on eBay yet. I'm still going strong with my interval workouts. Have only lost a couple of pounds, but have lost inches - Yay! A little less of me is a good thing. I'll post pics of the stuff I've been making when I get a chance. Haven't heard anything yet from the homeschool magazine about the project editing that I responded to them about. Wonder if I'll get that? Work is picking up for me though. The doctors seem to finally be getting to work. On the downside, my paycheck from one of the companies was late because they couldn't make payroll because the hospital didn't pay them because of short funds. We're all wondering what's going on when a hospital can't pay it's bills. The homeschool magazine I mentioned, The Old Schoolhouse, sends out a weekly email newsletter and one of the columnists for that has a website for dads. It's a really enjoyable site and I think any dads out there would like it. It's called Familyman Ministries. On the school side of things, Andy has a couple of days off which he won in a scavenger hunt we had. I'll write more about that next time. Right now I really need to get busy! More later.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Feast or Famine

Being self-employed has it's positives and negatives. For Jerry and I, the positives far outweigh the negatives and so we choose this. For me, working from home and when I want gives me the freedom to homeschool Andy and to do what I want, when I want. For the most part Jerry has the same freedom, too. Besides - I have never really taken well to authority - ask my mom! Oh, I am a hard worker and can do what needs to be done after someone has told me what to do, but then leave me alone so that I can do it! Jerry is the same way. The downside of our jobs is that there is no steady paycheck coming in week after week. I refer to the state of our finances as "feast or famine" - we either seem to be in one or the other. Seldom are we in the middle for very long. Right now we are in the "famine" stage! With homebuilding crawling along, Jerry's work has slowed down. For me the doctors have been on what seems like an extended vacation since Thanksgiving and work for me still isn't very brisk. I have asked for more work, but then again so have all the other transcriptionists, and there is only so much to go around. At least we're used to it by now. I find it a challenge to see how long we can make something last, or just how far we can stretch that dollar. Jerry was watching me make bread the other day and commented that I actually seemed to like this kind of thing!

While we have basically been cheap frugal for a while now, sometimes we aren't as frugal as we really should be. But we're still having fun! Some of these things we really should have been doing all along, but just got lazy. We were not going to use the woodstove this year as we were a little afraid of using it. It is about 28 years old now and has gotten pretty thin. We changed our mind about this after receiving our first electric bill after having used the heat pump only. Jerry checked the woodstove out thoroughly and decided we could eke another year out of it. Now that's the only thing heating the house. I love that woodstove and that's why we've had it so long. It heats this whole house. Sometimes it gets too hot and we need to open a door or window!

Right now as I'm typing this I have four loaves' worth of bread dough rising. I was making a loaf at a time for the last couple of weeks by working the dough in my bread machine and then taking it out and shaping it into a loaf and baking it, but it's too time consuming doing it one loaf at a time. There have been times that I've just gone ahead and let the bread machine bake a loaf, but the loaves are too big for sandwiches. I prefer to just let it go through the dough cycle and take over from there. Something else I have done was make sourdough starter. That's really good bread! Unfortunately, my starter kind of fizzled out last week, but at least I got a few good loaves out of it. I made a new starter this morning and so far it grew up and out of the container and I had to put it in a larger container, so I think this starter will be okay, but it won't be ready to use until at least Tuesday. For anyone on a low carb diet, I realize that daily bread isn't a good thing, but for those of us on a financial diet, bread is versatile and filling. And you just can't beat a grilled cheese sandwich made on homemade sourdough bread! Meals are more carefully planned and everything is made from scratch. And I do mean everything! Also, milk is only used for coffee. If it's needed for baking or if the boys want me to make a pot of hot chocolate, it's with powdered milk. I also made the happy discovery that I can make the equivalent of Dunkin' Donuts cinnamon spice coffee! After much experimenting (it didn't go to waste - even the experiments tasted good!), I finally think I found the right combination. I put four coffee scoops of regular coffee, two teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of allspice into a coffee grinder. Yes, the coffee is already ground to start with, but you need to grind it again to thoroughly incorporate the spices or it will just end up running through and you will have a layer of what looks like chalk on top of your coffee. Yuck! Anyway, I pulse the coffee grinder three times, for five seconds each. Then I dump the whole batch into the coffee filter, breaking up any clumps that might be there. This makes an 8-cup pot. It has become a favorite now.

Anyway, this has certainly turned into a long post! Now I think I'm going to take some more pictures of more stuff I'd like to list on eBay. Unfortunately the books I had listed before didn't sell, so I'll lower the price and relist them. They are not doing anything for me but taking up space here. Not to mention that every little bit helps with the finances. I also received an email from the homeschool magazine that I subscribe to and they and another homeschooling publishing company are looking for people for editing projects, to work from home. You can bet I responded to them as soon as I saw the email. I'm such a stickler for grammer and spelling anyway, that I figured this would certainly be a good match for me and it would be something I could do in addition to transcription. We'll see how it goes. I'm not worried about anything as I know that the Lord is taking care of all the details of our lives, including our finances. But I also know that being wasteful with money is not pleasing to Him, and so I'll do my part, and let Him do His. Well, right now a huge batch of bread dough is calling, so more later.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I have been having a great time with my new toy. I treated myself to a Momentum fitness heart rate monitor system a couple of weeks ago and I love it. I had heard about this from Flylady (and we Flybabies get a discount) and thought about it for a long time before I just decided to go for it. The online tracking is wonderful. Each day I track my weight and my workouts and even get my workouts adjusted for me according to the information I enter in off of my heart rate monitor after my workouts. I have only worked out 9 times so far, 6 interval workouts on the treadmill and 3 strength training sessions on the DVD that comes with the system, and already things are well, firming up! Even though I'm overweight, evidently my heart is healthy because I recover from my highest heart rate down to my baseline one in less than a minute. The best thing about this is that it doesn't take a lot of time. For your intervals all you need to do is 30 minutes and then it's suggested that you do the No Excuses workout every other day which is divided into four six-minute segments so you can do as little as six minutes if that's all the time you have, or you can do the full 24-minute session. The No Excuses workout is a killer, though. In each six-minute segment you do 15 exercises of each major muscle group, so if you do the whole 24 minutes you have done 60 pushups in various forms working different arm muscles each time, 60 crunches working upper, lower and side abdominal muscles, 60 lunges again in different forms working your thighs, and various other exercises. The hardest part for me is the third set of pushups which are with your hands only six inches apart on the floor which works the back of your arm. You know, where the Jello-O likes to be?! What I also like about the DVD is that there aren't macho men and Barbie dolls bouncing around all over the place. It's just the guy who created the fitness system, one man and one woman, modestly dressed and just getting through the exercises without any theatrics. So far this device is making it easy for me to keep this resolution.

It snowed today! Honest to goodness SNOW! It was beautiful. I just stood at the window looking for the longest time, then I went outside to take some pictures on my phone to send to Jerry, who is in Delaware until tomorrow. It had snowed there earlier and he had called me to see if it was snowing here (he knows how I love snow), but it was dry as a bone here. About three hours later it started so I took pictures to send him. Tom's school ended up closing early. It was apparently much worse in Virginia than here and Tom said the ride home from the Metro was definitely interesting.

Andy and I didn't go to Delaware with Jerry this week because we had his semi-annual homeschool review with the board of education. Don't get me started. It's already been covered in past posts how I feel about those things. Anyway, it went well. We had a different reviewer this time and she was very funny. When she was looking through Andy's pre-algebra math book she asked Andy what he thought about math. She noted that he must like it because he hadn't gotten lower than a B on any of his tests and Andy told her that it's really tough at first and that at the beginning of a new lesson - and I quote - "my brains are pretty much scattered all over the floor", but then it gets easier. At the end of the review the reviewer writes a summary report on her findings and the parent has to sign it. I never read those things, I just sign the paper, but yesterday she handed me her review and I reached for a pen and started to sign it when she stopped me and asked, "Aren't you going to read it?" I didn't see why, but I read it anyway, and then about fell out of my chair laughing. Here's what she wrote - on the formal review no less - "He is doing well in math, pre-algebra, even though his brains are scattered all over the floor trying to understand it." When I started laughing, she started laughing, then we showed it to Andy, and he started laughing. By this time people were staring. I like this lady! She will be our reviewer when we go back in June, and Andy is glad.

Well, time to go and do stuff. I listed some books on eBay this morning and need to take pictures of some more stuff I want to get out of here, but my camera is acting up. Maybe I'll just go to bed instead! Happy Thursday, y'all! Well, what's left of it!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tree Tossing History

For those readers unfamiliar with our tree tossing tradition, here are links to the previous posts and pictures documenting three years of demented family fun. We do indeed find amusement in the strangest places.

Here's an excerpt from a January of 2005 post:

We will wait until this weekend for the annual throwing of the tree. Yes, this has become somewhat of a tradition in our house. We drag the Christmas tree out to the back deck, where Andy gets to toss it off into the yard from where it will make its way to the brush pile. The first year we just rolled it down the deck stairs into the yard. The next year Andy decided it would be more fun to drop it from the deck, so we just put it on the rail and pushed it off. Now it has become more of a hoist-and-throw type of activity. We find amusement in the strangest places.

It's Tree Tossing Time, 2008!

Andy gets first toss.....
..... and it's gone! (the tree is the blurry thing you see flying through the air!)
Tom takes a turn - the tree seems to be standing up in mid-air!
Tom takes another turn.
Here is Andy's second toss.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Welcome, 2008!

1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group.
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

I like the fourth definition the best - firmness of purpose. How many resolutions have you made, either this year or any other year? How many did you succeed in keeping? For me, the "firmness of purpose" didn't last long - maybe a month at best. Then the newness wore off.

In my job I type reports for a diabetes clinic. The patients have a pattern of behavior once they are newly diagnosed with diabetes. At first they are completely compliant with their carbohydrate counting, insulin regimens, and blood sugar monitoring. Doctors actually have a name for this - it is called the honeymoon period. In the reports that I type, if a patient is doing extremely well and was only recently diagnosed, the doctor states the fact that the patient is doing extremely well, but then adds the caveat, "but the patient is still in the honeymoon period." Later when the patient's monitoring and carb counting becomes a little more erratic and their compliance begins to slip, then the doctor might say that they are "out of their honeymoon period."

Each January first begins a new honeymoon period. I have now come to believe that when you make a resolution, the hardest part is keeping it after the novelty of the new whatever-it-was- you-resolved-to-do has worn off. That is where the firmness of purpose needs to come in! Anyone can make a resolution - keeping to it is a resolution in itself.

I will share with you my resolutions for this year. I have not included the resolution to keep my resolutions once their shininess has worn off, because that applies to all of them and so I have mentioned it here.

1. Do I need to say it? To lose weight. I am trying some new tactics this time around and truly hope that this is the last year I will make this resolution, but if not, that brings us to:
2. To love myself just the way I am - having lost weight or not. To realize that I have qualities and talents that are not based in any way on what the scale says.
3. To be more transparent with those around me and in this blog. Fear has kept me from posting many things - fear of sharing inner thoughts and feelings, and fear of what others might think of me. This resolution ties in closely with #2 - that I am uniquely ME and that my thoughts and feelings are valid, and it does not really matter what others think of me.
4. To hold my tongue! I have a terrible habit of speaking before I think. Although it doesn't seem so at the time, biting your lip and not saying something is actually easier in the long run than trying to take back something said in haste once it's left your lips.
5. To be less judgemental. To remember what scripture tells us, "For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you." (Matt. 7:1)

So, in the interest of Resolution #3, I have been transparent in sharing these with you. Now I would like to know what resolutions you set for yourselves. You can post anonymous comments to this blog and they are indeed anonymous. I do not know who you are if you choose to post anonymously, nor do I want to know. I thought it would be interesting to share what other resolutions people are making. Unfortunately, I do have to add that if a comment is unseemly or deemed inappropriate, I will delete it and it will not be posted. No, this is not a violation of Resolution #5 - I'm not judging anyone, I just choose not to have offensive language and/or remarks on my blog.

Okay - the invitation is out there. What's your "firmness of purpose" for this new year?


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