Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lola at One

In celebration of her second birthday on Monday, I thought it would be fun to gather pictures of her past year.

Lola Colette 1-2 Collage

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Life = Laundry and Books


That pretty much sums up our new school year. Lola got sick right out of the gate, of course—back to back days in the nursery at church and at Classical Conversations did her in. The past couple of days I’ve felt more tired than I have in a very long time. Not sick, exactly, but fighting off being sick. I really just wanted to stay in bed all day long.

I have a gorgeous family to share with you—my last family photo session of the year. I think I have one senior session to go and then I’m done. Except for maternity and newborn sessions for my sister—it should go without saying! I don’t know when I’ll start scheduling again. This homeschooling gig is a full-time job with overtime!

Swim team practices started back up. Book club last week with CC moms discussing Night by Elie Wiesel. Book club tonight with my ChocLit Guild ladies discussing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

Lola turns two on Monday. We are celebrating with family on Sunday, and I haven’t even begun to plan or prepare for her party. Bad mommy.

And that’s about it.

How has your September been?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paleo-ish ~ Weeks 2, 3, and 4

AKA: The Rollercoaster

Did anyone wonder what happened to this? It has been three weeks since I’ve shared an update on my quest for good health in the areas of food and exercise. Mostly because I didn’t want to be transparent. That is the point, however, of sharing in the first place: Being willing to own my goals. Accountability.

My goal was to complete a modified Whole30. Having completed a Whole30 Challenge last year, I had slightly different goals this time around. The past 30 days I planned to eat Paleo-ish with some dairy thrown in. I didn’t intend on reading labels so closely. Trace amounts of soy or even wheat didn’t bother me.

I also planned to add in exercise, which is one thing I didn’t manage to do the last time around. I knew that I needed to increase my strength and endurance.

My friend Danielle stuck with the challenge for 30 days and had incredible results. I’m so proud of her! It really is a huge accomplishment.

How did I do? Some days I did great. Some days…not so great. But I’m going to choose to look at the past 30 days as a success.

I improved my eating overall (it may not seem like it if you read my tedious food journal, but if you had any idea what I ate before…). My goal is not to eat well for 30 days. It is to create long-term, workable solutions for making good food choices. I’m still wrestling with what that looks like on an on-going basis. I know I’ve said it before, but I love to eat. I’ve always loved to eat. I love quantity. And I love a lot of junky food. And once I get started on junky food, I can’t stop. (I will say that in the past 30 days I once had a few sips of root beer and once a few sips of Dr. Pepper—other than that, I haven’t had any soda. Wahoo!)

As far as exercising goes, I’m so proud of myself! I didn’t work out every day (and I’m far from ‘shredded’…I’m still on level 1 of the 30 Day Shred), but I’ve been fairly consistent. I know that I’ve gained strength and endurance. I have every intention of continuing with exercising 5 days a week. If only I could figure out how to do so and still get to bed at a decent hour. Sigh.

I don’t expect anyone to read my food journal. It is mostly for my own benefit that I have kept track over the past few weeks. But, if it inspires anyone or even if it helps anyone to know that I’ve fought hard and still slipped up, well, I’m happy to share.

Day 8:
Breakfast—Eggs and bacon
Lunch—Taco salad
Dinner—Salad with romaine, chicken, toasted sliced almonds, grape tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing
Dessert—Apple slices and blackberries fried in coconut oil with cinnamon, a pinch of sea salt, and smothered in coconut milk
(Russ had just picked both the apples and the blackberries…YUM! I thought I deserved dessert after narrowly resisting a piece of pizza!)
Exercise—30 Day Shred

Day 9:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells chicken apple sausage
Lunch—Pan”cake” (almond meal, eggs, butter, and Greek yogurt baked in oven) with a drizzle of honey (meh.) and a few pear slices
Snack—Sweet potato chips
Dinner—Sabatino’s spinach with aged white cheddar chicken patty with romaine and spinach, tomato, and avocado and a carrot
Exercise—30 Day Shred

Day 10:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells chicken apple sausage
Lunch—Taco salad
Snack—A little fruit leather (only real fruit, no sweetener)
Dinner—Grilled trout with onions and lemon, and roasted yams
Dessert—Apple slices sauteed in coconut oil with cinnamon, sea salt, and coconut milk
Exercise—30 Day Shred

Day 11:
Breakfast—Sliced banana, toasted sliced almonds, coconut milk and cinnamon (with a pinch of sea salt) (I ran out of eggs!!)
Lunch—Taco salad
Dinner—Bombed. But I had so much fun with my family, and I still didn’t eat as much/everything I wanted to.
Exercise—Hiking with the family (including some killer steps). I should have done the 30 Day Shred, but I fell when I was climbing over a log and my arm and back were sore.

Day 12:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells chicken apple sausage
Snack—A few pistachios and dried (sweetened) cranberries
Lunch—Bombed. A slice of pizza, a few breadsticks, and a few chocolate chips. We were on the go and I didn’t have anything packed.
Dinner—Pesto chicken (YUM!!), cherry tomatoes, and smoothie (banana, pineapple, spinach, frozen blackberries)
Snack—A granola bar that I should NOT have eaten. But I was hungry and it was my weak hour of 10 pm.
Exercise—30 Day Shred (I put it off until after midnight! and I really had to talk myself into it…but it felt so good when I was finished.)

Day 13:
It pretty much went down-hill from there
Exercise—None. Went to bed because I was in a bad mood. Bleh.

Day 14:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells sausage
Snack/Lunch/Snack—Not good. Not good at all.
Dinner—I was determined to turn the day around. Mexican Stuffed Green Peppers. YUM!!

Day 15:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells sausage
Mumble, mumble, mumble (I did have some leftover filling from the green peppers, cold, while we were out and about and it was yummy.)
Exercise—I walked, and walked, and walked at the Renaissance Faire

Day 16:
Out all day at church and a birthday party. (I *really* enjoyed myself…)

Tomorrow is always a new day. Right?!

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson, (attributed) (HT: Momastery)


Day 17:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells sausage
Snack—Pistachios and dried (sweetened) cranberries
Lunch—Leftover stuffed green peppers
Dinner—Taco salad
Exercise—30 Day Shred

Day 18:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells sausage
Snack—Pistachios and dried (sweetened) cranberries, dried apples, pea pods
Lunch—Pastrami, cheese, and a banana
Dinner—Sausages (some yummy chicken kind), roasted cabbage with fennel, sliced avocado
Dessert--Paleo Pear Crisp (meh.)
Exercise—Walked for hours at the Oregon Garden

Day 19:
Breakfast—Sliced banana with coconut milk, toasted sliced almonds, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt
Snack (ha!)—Eggs and sausage (I was dying of starvation by 10:30. That will teach me to skip eggs in the morning!)
Lunch—Pastrami and cheese. Chocolate chips. Hmmmm.
Dinner—Melt in Your Mouth Chicken (with Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese), roasted broccoli and cauliflower, sliced avocado, and cherry tomatoes
Snack—Toast. Sigh. That 9pm hour kills me.
Exercise—30 Day Shred (I almost skipped it because it was LATE and I couldn’t find the DVD player remote, but I persisted—finally found the remote and worked out at 11:30. It is SO. HARD. to take the time to exercise when I have a long to-do list and I need to get to bed earlier!)

Day 20:
Breakfast—(I bet you can’t guess…Ha!) Eggs and Aidells sausage
It really went downhill from there. For a few days. Sigh.

…Day 21:
Dinner—I did make sausage with cabbage noodles for dinner. That’s something, right?

Day 22

Day 23…


A new start. Again.

Day 24:
Breakfast—Eggs and Aidells sausage
Snack—Pistachios and dried cranberries
Lunch—Celery with almond butter, cherry tomatoes
Snack—Pea pods
Dinner—BBQ steak, grilled onions, roasted yams with olive oil and sea salt, avocado, cherry tomatoes
Exercise—30 Day Shred (I managed to start at 10pm and be in bed by 10:40! It’s a start in the right direction.)

Day 25:
Breakfast—Eggs, Italian sausage with kale and parmesan cheese
Lunch—Leftover steak strips, and banana with coconut milk, sliced toasted almonds, cinnamon, and sea salt
Dinner—Taco salad
Dessert—Paleo pancakes (AKA: a way to use up my too-ripe bananas since I can’t eat banana bread. All four kids gave them a thumbs up!!) (3 eggs, one mashed ripe banana, 1 cup almond meal, a smidge of sea salt/baking powder/cinnamon, and just a little arrowroot powder for the fun of it—mixed and fried up in coconut oil. With a *smidge* of maple syrup.)
Dessert #2—I know. I know. But, seriously. My husband walked in late in the evening with an apple pie hot out of the oven. My friend had made it for him because he had fixed her computer. Hot, home-made apple pie smell wafting through the house. It was a sin to waste it, that’s all I’m saying.
Exercise—It was late, but I owed it to myself after dessert #2. 30 Day Shred at 11pm. Sigh.

Day 26:
Breakfast—Eggs, Italian sausage with kale and parmesan cheese
Lunch—Taco salad
Snack—Yes, that apple pie was still sitting on my counter. I ate some leftover steak to balance out the sugar a little.
Dinner—Beef and Broccoli (my own concoction) topped with toasted sliced almonds
Dessert—Banana pancakes (I’ve got to stop eating in the late evening, but I’m so hungry around 9pm!)
Exercise—30 Day Shred (I’ve also got to stop working out after 11pm, but it is hard for me to finish my other tasks before then!)

Day 27:
Breakfast—Eggs, Italian sausage with kale
Lunch—Steak, romaine lettuce, and spinach-parmesan dip, dried apples
Dinner—Thai cilantro grilled chicken and green salad
Exercise—30 Day Shred (I thought I’d try level 2—die.) (Worked out after book club, but done by 11pm—wahoo!)
(A great day in the end, but I was in such a snacky mood. I went to make chocolate Larabar, but I was out of pecans. I tried to add some cocoa powder to almond butter, but it tasted yucky. I would have caved if someone had brought dessert to book club, but luckily no one did. Only three of us there, but great conversation. I just love those ladies.)

Day 28:
Breakfast—Eggs, Italian sausage with kale
Lunch—Leftover beef and broccoli
Dinner and Dessert—Date night with hubby. I ate whatever I wanted. {grin}

Day 29:
Breakfast—Banana pancakes (I didn’t feel like making eggs, and I figured the pancakes with egg and almond meal would have more protein than a banana with coconut milk.)
Lunch—Leftover Thai cilantro chicken
Dinner—Spaghetti meat sauce sans noodles
Snacks—I made bad snack choices today. (Ritz crackers and chocolate chips. Sigh.)
Exercise—30 Day Shred (level 1 again—ah, much better…in fact, it felt really good…if only it weren’t at midnight…)

Day 30:
Breakfast—Eggs, Italian sausage with kale and parmesan cheese
Lunch—Ham and cheese roll-ups
Dinner—Bun-less burger with spinach, pesto, and chopped grape tomatoes, and a fruit/spinach smoothie
Snacks—Bad choices again today.
Exercise—30 Day Shred (at 11:30 pm)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lola and Daddy

I call her Lolly. Levi calls her Bay or Bea (her words for baby). Luke calls her Lowies or Lala. Daddy calls her Beautiful Girl.

Whatever the nick-name, she’s adored.

I haven’t had much time to post this week, what with full days of lessons, and all. In the absence of anything fabulous or riveting to show for or say about this week, I thought I’d post pictures of Lola playing ball with Daddy at a family BBQ after we returned home from the Renaissance Faire a couple weekends ago. Because it’s always about Lola, you know.


Speaking of Lola, it’s a good thing she’s so cute. This school year is going to be challenging. Brutal, even. I’m telling you, this is not the kid who sits quietly on a blanket playing with toys. She doesn’t sit for anything. Not stickers. Not playdough. Not snacks. Not nothin’.

She just figured out that she can take off all her clothes…and her diaper (which she does all. the. time.).

My sanity-saver, the playpen? Yep. Just figured out that she can climb out. Oh. My. Word. It was only a matter of time (one day) that she would also try to climb out of her crib…and succeed. That was, of course, right after I put her in there for screaming and pulling us all off the couch when I sat down to read aloud to the boys. As if it wasn’t hard enough impossible to read aloud to the boys as it was.

Speaking of screaming while we are trying to do something productive…we were singing our memory work songs and she was yelling ‘no’ at the top of her lungs. As soon as we stopped, she starting singing ‘happy birthday.’ Likes the limelight, that one does.

My hair will be white by the end of the year—if I have any left. Training an independent, determined, opinionated, fearless, almost 2-year-old while trying to get anything else accomplished is not fun. Not fun at all.

But isn’t she cute?


Friday, September 14, 2012

It Isn’t ALL Fun and Games

Just in case you are beginning to think we don’t actually LEARN anything around here with all our hiking, bowling, Renaissance Faire, Oregon Garden, and football galavanting…

Luke is planning on working towards Memory Master this year for Classical Conversations. He wanted to start working on the new timeline as soon as we got it this summer. He immediately LOVED the cards and the song is all sorts of fabulous.

Now that I think about it, it still is all fun and games—because this was all Luke’s idea and he loves it. I decided to record him (in pieces because my camera doesn’t like to record for ten and a half minutes at a time!!).

This is proof that a wiggly, crazy, just eight-year-old boy is capable of learning a great deal if he is appropriately challenged. (And proof that he is a silly little boy…)

Never Before Seen @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


You might have noticed that there isn’t a whole lot of sports going on here at Mt. Hope Chronicles. I don’t know how it happened that my family isn’t much into sports.

My poor dad. The three of us girls used to watch football with him. And then we got married. You’d think with the addition of three sons-in-law (all three of whom played sports in high school) that he would have sports-watching company. But, no. None of us watches ANY sports on television. None. I don’t think any of us even watched the Olympics. What are the chances?!

Then my nephew Drake decided he wanted to play football. He was just heading into 9th grade as a homeschooler. My sister was hoping he would be able to play for a nearby Christian school, but Drake would have had to live in a different school district to play without attending. So they signed him up for freshman football at the local high school.

He had never played football—I don’t know if he had even watched a full game before! He also missed conditioning camp. And didn’t know any of the other guys.

But Drake is diligent, respectful, follows directions, and is ridiculously strong. The coach has him playing offense and defense—the whole game. (And there is a large number of players standing on the sidelines.)

The kids and I attended his game last night. West Albany vs. Crescent Valley. The stands on their side were a little sparse, but I suppose if you took away the 23 people there just to watch my nephew Drake, our side was a little sparse, too. At least we got our effort's-worth since he played all but a couple minutes of the game. Score: 16-0. Nicely done, Bulldogs.

And I remembered just how much I enjoy watching football.

(P.S. ~ To make up for the high of 75 on Tuesday, our weather decided to kick it up a notch. It was 92 degrees as we drove over to the game…)


A rare moment on the sidelines for #75.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day… What day of school are we on? I lost track.

Things are starting to be a blur. (Has anyone noticed how many pictures I’ve posted lately?! Don’t get too used to it. Things slow down drastically as of tomorrow!)


I had originally planned on today being our first full day of school at home—and then I found out that today was homeschool day at The Oregon Garden. I couldn’t pass it up. The Oregon Garden is ginormous and fantastically beautiful. On homeschool day they set up learning stations throughout the garden. The kids receive “passports” in which they collect stamps from each station.


We are studying biology this year. The older boys attended a 3-day science camp this past month where they learned about classification and animals. Today was a perfect plant-oriented complement. Between the science camp, The Oregon Garden, and the experiments the kids get to do each week at Classical Conversations, I think I should be exempt from hands-on science projects at home this year. Right?!


So, we found ourselves at The Oregon Garden this morning. Lola went to hang out with Bambi and Poppy (wahoo!). The day was spectacular (if a little on the chilly and breezy side). Oh, what blues and greens and bright, bright sunshine!! Holly, Ivy, and Jacob joined us up there (whew, it’s a long drive). It was fun to see so many different friends throughout the day. (Shout-out to Danielle and Connie!) We ended up hanging out with my friend Tera and her son Landon for quite a while. Seriously, The Oregon Garden on homeschool day is the place to see and be seen. {grin}


Bonus points if you can spot the cute little guy in the next picture:


We spent quite a bit of time in the children's garden. It is fantastic. The kids love the little hobbit house/tunnel with the perfect slope for rolling.


The sand pit also saw a lot of action.


But there is so much more to see!

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We even made new friends!


It had warmed up to a whopping 75 degrees by the time three o’clock came around. The boys had gotten soaked in the fountain last time we were at the gardens—a precedent had been set. So, of course, they got soaked again. And then they weren’t quite as hot as they had been just moments before.


Then we had no choice to head back to the truck, finally eat our lunch (we just snacked our way through the garden), and drive home. By golly, that was a long day! But a very successful one.

And now it is time to get down to business.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The First Day of Classical Conversations


We had our first day of our third year at Classical Conversations today. The morning dawned overcast and drizzly, with golden fall tones—so perfect for our first real day of back to school!

The early morning went so smoothly we had time to snap a few pictures as we were leaving the house.

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And…we’re off.


Fall was proclaiming the day as a family of turkeys traipsed across the property during picture taking. I had to jump out of the truck to catch a quick snap shot of them heading into the trees as we were heading down the driveway.


Even though we are seasoned veterans of Classical Conversations, we still had a few new changes this year: a new location (which felt like a weighty change!), a new tutor (Luke has my sister Holly who he had the first year, Levi has the same tutor as last year, but Leif’s tutor is new), and a new adventure in the afternoon Essentials class for Levi.

The morning went seamlessly. I spent the time in Leif’s class. His tutor did an excellent job, and Leif loves her already. The room is large and bright. The students were well-behaved. Success!


The afternoon (lunch and Essentials) were a bit more challenging, but we’ll get the hang of things. I’m anticipating a great year!

(P.S. I came home and crashed on the couch, then Russ let me escape for a solitary shopping trip this evening. Now I’m gearing up for another field trip tomorrow!)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire ~ Kings Valley

Ah, the Renaissance Faire. I think this was our fourth or fifth visit. It is a heavenly spot located in a golden field in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hills and trees and cotton-ball-clouded blue sky.

As we were driving along Kings Valley Road this morning, the sky was overcast and misty. The thermometer read 58 degrees! Then, about a half mile from the faire, the sky turned to blue, the sunshine appeared, and the temperature rose. Magical. It was a perfect day. 70s. Light breeze. Just perfect.

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There were a few new things this year. I loved walking through the added forest portion. The cool green darkness, the sun glimmering through the trees.

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The boys also paid for ‘rat hunting licenses.’ They were to search the faire for participants with a rat ‘mask’ (you could hear cries of ‘rat!’ through the faire). When the rats were tagged, they would tie a ribbon on the bracelet each boy was given with their license to show how many rats they had caught. They were also given a little bag with a coin and were to find a nobleman (or woman) and pay their taxes. When they paid their taxes, the nobleman gave them each a little vial of bubbles and a ‘dragon tear’ (a little plastic ball that looked just like the bubbles—which made for a fun magic trick!).

At noon the boys met the Pied Piper who played music for them. They danced and then followed the Pied Piper in a procession through the faire.

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Holly, Casey, Ilex, and Ivy joined us. The ladies looked lovely!!

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A HUGE number of faire-goers dress up in costumes. Some are simple; some are astonishingly elaborate. Some are lovely; some are what I’d call ‘fringe.’ (Ha!) It certainly makes the people-watching my favorite entertainment. There are paid, costumed participants who wander the faire. They are very good about engaging the kids.

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The jousting tournament wasn’t as good as it has been in the past. But we still enjoyed it.

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All in all, I'd call it a very successful day.