Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Really Exciting News + Birthdays!

Esther's New Jessie Doll - she loved her old one
to death, literally!  She LOVE her new Jessie!
Can you tell that Esther
Loved her New Ball! 
Our Dossier has been accepted in Priscilla's Country, and we should get "the signature"s in 1 - 2 weeks and then they'll tell us our travel dates soon after that...to know more, check out my blog post about that.  PLUS we will be changing her name when she becomes officially ours, and I announced what her new name will be too! I actually wrote that post last Thursday and it already has more page views than any other post on my adoption blog, so you really should check it out!  Right now we are thinking we'll be traveling to meet her either the last week of October or sometime early in November!

We are busy preparing for Jeremy's wedding - I finally got my new blouse to wear with my dressy black skirt just yesterday.  I have a few details to square away, but  I'm getting there!

Rachel got a couple of lovely books
from her friends!
Just this week we had the opportunity to get a lot of mushy pears and peaches and I immediately thought "baby food" and then "I won't need that this year" but then I thought of Christy (Priscilla's new name, but you really need to read my post about what her full name is and what it means!).  She is likely to have eating issues as the orphanages tend to bottle feed the children until they are much older, and then they are given baby food for a long time.  So having baby food, home preserved, would be great.  If we don't use it for her, then we can make fruit leather later!

Sam and her sister/Maid of Honor, Emily!

We've had a few birthday's this month!  Daniel turned 12 (sorry no photos, we had his birthday at Jeremy's house after church and we did not take a camera with us!), Rachel turned sweet 16 and Esther turned 5 just last week!

Sam plus her grandmother, mother, sister and friends!
We've gone to two showers for Sam so far.  I took a few photos at our church's shower.  It was a beautiful time celebrating their love story.  I was so amazed at how amazing Jeremy sounded from her sharing of their story.  He also impressed everyone by dropping by the church before the shower and leaving her a beautiful bouquet with a really cool chocolate duckie!  He has turned out to be one amazing young man, romantic to the bone - not sure where he got that from!

My hair styled with a small
Lilla Rose Flexi Clip
I'm continuing to lose inches doing T-Tapp and following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating.  I still have a long way to go but I'm loving how I feel.  I feel a lot slimmer than I look, but I'm hoping that I will look as slim as I feel before long!

To prepare for Jeremy's wedding, I layered my hair and added some more to my bangs.  I starting to experiment with ways to style my hair.  Today I tried curling the ends.  I'm planning on an "up do" but it's fun to find out what else works, as there's still one more shower and the rehearsal night too!

And I just signed up to be a Lilla Rose Consultant!  We love our Flexi-Clips so much we want to get more without paying full retail, plus sharing them with others!  I'll share more on that later, but for now you can use the link in my side bar or Click HERE to check out all the wonderful hair style helpers they carry!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Last of Summer and Some Exciting News!

First the exciting news - our dossier has been submitted! If you want to know more about what that means, read My Blog Post about that!Our summer officially ended over 2 weeks ago.  We began homeschooling early this year since we know that we will be taking extra time off for our two trips to meet and bring Priscilla home, plus I will need to take a week off to prepare for Jeremy's wedding - just a little over 5 weeks away now!

Speaking of the wedding, I have a lot to do and I need to get going on it - color coordinating clothes for Daryl, myself and all the children Rebekah on down.  That is a lot of shopping.  I also need to get shower and wedding gifts and workout the last details of catering the rehearsal dinner.  On top of all that I need to begin to think about our trip to meet Priscilla, which could happen in very close proximity to the wedding!  I just keep reminding myself when I begin to get flustered that everything is still under the control of God's sovereign hand, and that if I look to Him for wisdom and strength I will have all I need to accomplish His will for me each and every day!
We ended our first week of school by spending the afternoon at the beach.   We had a great time, especially Esther who just can't get enough water time!  Carese has not quite developed a love of the water, but she loves playing in the sand and getting a little wet!
The Shirt Says it All!

Carese has found that she love fruit.  Even if her little teeth aren't quite up the challenge of eating an apple quite yet, she does try for all she's worth!  She's also a great subject for Rachel's photography!

In other news, Daniel turned 12 years old this past week, and Rachel will be turning 16 this weekend!  How time flies!  Esther will also have a birthday this month - she will be turning 5 years old!  She is suddenly growing like crazy!  She getting bigger and she's learning news words and new things to do!  Read my Blog Post about her recent advancements for more on that!

Carese is growing and learning too.  She is saying new words, and she is learning sign language very quickly.  So far she has signed without prompting "more", "please", "milk", "cookie", "all done" and others.  If she's all fussy about something, and you suggest the thing that she needs, like a bottle, she'll stop crying and sign!  It's amazing!  She loves pointing at things too.

Esther and Carese are quickly becoming buddies.  They love to play together and in general, Esther is really good with Carese.  We do have to keep an eye on them though, as Carese is a little dare devil and has no fear, and Esther can get a little pushy at times.  Esther is about twice the size of Carese, and she knows it.  But she loves Carese and the two of them often have little hugging and kissing parties.  Sometimes these parties even take place on my lap as they vie for my attention - too much fun!

This week another big event is happening - Jonathan is moving out.  Since Jeremy is getting married, Jason is moving out of Jeremy's house.  Jonathan is going to share an apartment with Jason and another friend.  Jonathan is still driving truck and loving it.  We will miss having him at home, but I think this will be good for him.  The three younger boys will have such a spacious bedroom!  I'll get a photo of that once Jonathan is moved out and we've re-arranged. 
Speaking of re-arranging bedrooms, I did that this week for the little girls and I really like the new arrangement.  We removed all toys from the bedroom in order to simplify things both in general as well as to prepare for Priscilla's coming home as she might be overwhelmed if the bedroom is too exciting.  I was just realizing this week that we will be in the market for another crib in the next few months as Carese will be outgrowing her little crib - I think it' a one year crib, but I really have no idea.  She has learned that she can climb out if anything it near the crib, so I had to change that right away!

Looking over this post I realize that I have too many photos of Carese, sorry about that.  I will work harder to get photos of all the children and be more fair about that! She's just so stinking cute!


Monday, September 2, 2013

I am (Almost) a Trim Healthy Mama!

I say "almost" because I am not a Trim Healthy Mama "yet".  I am trimmer, but not yet trim.  But, I AM healthy!  And I am most certainly a Mama - in fact, I think it would be said that I am a Mega Mom! I think having 12 children would qualify me for "Mega Mom" status, wouldn't you?  But, I do not want to ever be a "Mega Sized Mama" ever again!

As you read in my last post, I started a journey to regain my health over a year ago, beginning with T-Tapp.  That was an awesome basis for my return to health.  When I started T-Tapp, I had just began to be able to go around without crutches for the first time in over 4 months.  I was out of shape and over weight.  I did some experimenting with my diet through last fall.  I went sugar free for a few weeks.  I tried a little of this and a little of that to just be eating healthier overall.  I switched over to only using good fats - olive oil, coconut oil (instead of shortening) and butter.

We had the opportunity to watch a couple of inspiring DVDs - Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and Food Inc.  I found that something that I had begun to suffer from over the summer was, in fact, "Urticaria".  Joe, of the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead DVD had suffered from this.  My doctor had told me that my immune system was out of whack and was thinking that any irritation to my skin was a cause for an all out battle, so even something as minor as a mosquito bite because eczema very quickly - painful and itchy and would not go away.  I began to be serious about trying to eat right and get healthier.  I did some juicing - that DVD was so inspiring I just had to try it.  I couldn't do a full on juice fast since I was still nursing Carese, but I did have a fresh veggie/fruit juice for breakfast everyday for about a month. Within a few weeks of eating right, cutting our sugar and refined flour, and doing some juicing, my urticaria began to heal and disappear!

So, fast forward to this past spring.  I was so excited that I had consistently lose inches from T-Tapp and I felt overall healthy, and I had so many projects around our home that needed attention. So I made this huge summer "To Do" list and dug in with a vengeance.  The only problem was, that after just a few days of painting and cleaning projects I bottomed out.  I just couldn't do it.  I was tired, yet I wasn't sleeping well at night.  My left eye was constantly twitching.  I had mood swings and was definitely dealing with some hormonal issues.  I did some research, as well as began to feel that many of the things I was dealing with were similar to what I dealt with over 10 years ago when I experience adrenal fatigue.  I decided that what I needed was a real juice fast.  I started a 15 day boot camp which was 5 days of eating all fruits and veggies, cooked, raw, juiced and blended, followed by 5 days of just juicing.  I actually did 8 days of juicing and then I hit the wall.  I just couldn't go on.  I told Daryl that I HAD to quit - it was doing great things for my health (my eye had stopped twitching and my energy had returned), but I could tell my metabolism was shutting down - I was cold all the time and super cranky!  Juice fasting and motherhood just are not great companions, and that is a fact.

That very day, I got an email showing a blog post about a book about eating healthy that was written by two "mothers of many,"  Trim Healthy Mama.  It was perfect timing.  Everything that this blog post said about this book made sense and I knew that this would be the next step in my journey to health.  I did some research into the book and the program and found the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page for women using the program (over 8,000 members at the time) and talked it over with Daryl.  I ordered the book (there was a wait time) and adjusted my diet according to the basic principles of the book (yeah, I'll get to that in a minute).  I also borrowed the book from a friend and began reading like there was no tomorrow!  I finished the first 10 chapters or so in just a couple of days, and then researched what supplies I needed to have on hand for most of the recipes that I thought I would like.  I talked about the eating plan with my husband and older girls, and was able to get them to agree to try this with me for the 4 weeks left until our church camp out.

Fast forward a few weeks.  we were challenged at first to work out what recipes we liked, as well as how to tweak recipes that we already have, and find something easy and enjoyable for us.  Some of us were more challenged as they were dealing with sugar withdrawals (I was just coming off a juice fast and had been sugar free for a while), so that made it hard the first week.  But we all stuck with it and worked to find what would work for us.  Here are some of the benefits we discovered in that first 4 weeks:

No intestinal distress - no gas, no indigestion, no burping!
Acne/pimples were nearly gone - great reduction in blemishes for all of us
Noticeable inch loss, and for those of us who were weighing, there was significant pounds lost too!
Cravings greatly reduced - sugar was not our only addiction we quickly found out, but after a couple of weeks, all cravings were basically gone (well, if someone ate something in front of us, it might be a difficult temptation, but we were no longer craving foods/snacks.treats out of the blue)
Better Sleep!  At least for Daryl and I
Dessert every night - this made everything worth it!

So, as we approached the camp out, I asked if they were going to return to the plan after camp.  Daryl was so enthusiastic about this way of eating that he didn't even want to eat our old way even at camp - we both ended up caving here and there, but mostly stuck to plan at camp!  The older girls were mixed on going back on plan, but Jessica decided to go back on plan in order to be as healthy as possible in preparing to be standing up in Jeremy's wedding (she really enjoyed/is enjoying the lack of blemishes when she is "on plan").

So, here we are, 2 months since we started the "Trim Healthy Mama" way of life.  Unlike any other diet I have ever been on (and there have been many), this is becoming our new "normal."  We are loving how we feel, and loving the lost inches.  Daryl has very little left to loose and is now experimenting with meals that are meant for weight maintenance.  I had a very busy two weeks in August, and although I had not cheated during those two weeks, I felt that I probably had not lost much, as I was just eating what was our new normal, and no longer having to focus on what I was eating.  To my surprise, I had a record inch loss - over 8 inches lost in 2 weeks!  I was doing T-Tapp regularly, but I was still having THM desserts every night!  I believe I can safely say that this is now a way of eating that I will be sticking to for the rest of my life.  I never want to go back to eating foods that may taste good at the time that they enter my mouth, but leave a legacy of indigestion, gas, lethargy, acne and weight gain.  We are eating tasty meals, delicious snacks and desserts.  For many of our meals, you'd be hard pressed to even tell what we did differently - it looks the same, just made differently.  We have homemade pizza every week, lasagna monthly, spaghetti and burgers every week.  We have scrambled eggs and bacon or muffins for breakfast every day.  I have delicious protein smoothies every afternoon.  I do "cheat" once in a while, but it's usually things like popcorn, or thin whole wheat burger buns - still healthy foods, just a little too heavy in the carbs - but it's working - I'm still losing inches and feeling wonderful!  A few things I've cheated on and regretted though - Little Caesar's Pizza or a Dairy Queen Blizzard for example, were very hard on my system - indigestion, gas, pain were my punishments.

So what is the basics of this way of eating?  In a nutshell, you will learn when reading Trim Healthy Mama, that eating two sources of fuel in a meal will cause you to burn one and store the other.  Fuel sources for our bodies are fats and carbohydrates.  So a doughnut is the ultimate evil in this plan.  So it having a burger on a big old bun, and adding some french fries or potato chips.  So we choose to have our hamburger on a low carb bun or tortilla shell, and then have a salad or veggies with dip on the side.  By limiting your fuel source to one fuel, your body will easily burn that fuel source and will not pack anything into fat on your body.  So there is two types of meals in this plan - the "fat" based meal that is rich in good fats and low in carbs, and the "carb" based meals that are higher in carbs and low in fats. Instead of sugar, you used forms of stevia, and instead of wheat flours in most recipes you use things like almond meal and flax meal.

It is so good for you, and after you get adjusted to this way of eating (probably at least 2 weeks for most people to get the hang of it), it is quite easy.  It does require purchasing ingredients that most people do not regularly purchase, and some of these things can be a little pricey.  But once we were on the plan for a little while, the extra costs have lessened (we had to purchase a lot of new things all at once to start off, but now we just replace them as we use them up, so it's not all at once).  

I highly recommend getting this book for another reason besides learning to be healthy - the first 12 chapters are chocked full of great information about how our bodies process foods, and what nutrition is and all sorts of great information about health.  I'm going to be requiring my children to read these chapters this year as part of their science curriculum!

As a side note, it's a fun book to read.  It's written by two very different sisters, and they can be so funny as they banter back and forth in the book and even in the recipes!  One sister has 9 children and the other has 6 children.  The mamas were both home-schooled growing up and home-school their children.  One is a super healthy purist (i.e. no microwaves) and the other is on the more practical side (i.e. if it takes too much time, it's not going to work for me).  It's a great balance that ensures that most moms will be able to relate to one or the other!  They even have easy vs purist version of many of the recipes!

I think one of the best things about this way of eating is that both of these mamas got to the point of no longer needing to lose weight.  They found that they had to make adjustments to the plan in order to maintain a healthy weight!  They created meals that will tweak the weight lost meals so that they are maintenance meals.  So you don't end up at your goal weight and then left all alone, trying to figure out how to keep what you've worked to hard to achieve!  Also, this way of eating can also be used when pregnant or nursing, you just need to have more of the meals that are weight maintaining in order to support the extra demand on your body!  I sure wish I had known about this years ago, but it wasn't known then so I'm just thankful that I have found it now!  And these are proof that is works - they've both been following this way of eating for years and years and they both look so healthy and trim!

A little warning to those interested in trying out this way of eating.  The book seems pricey, but there are hundreds of easy to follow recipes - it's almost more of a recipe book than anything else!  But it's so important to read the actual book and understand the how and why of this way of eating and why it works so well.

And a little tip - there are tons of recipes to be found on blogs, Pinterest, the Facebook Page, and the Trim Healthy Mama forums.  And there's lots of help to be found too - can't figure something out?  Go to the Facebook Page of the Forums and ask and you'll get lots of help!

And lastly - I know you're thinking "I just can't live without chocolate" - well, let me tell you, these ladies LOVE chocolate and so do lots of other mamas on this plan, so there's tons and tons or great chocolate recipes!

So what are you waiting for?  Go buy Trim Healthy Mama and start your journey to good health and a trim figure today!