Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving for children: Ideas

Since our national holiday of Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I've been thinking about different ways I can teach my children about this most lovely time!!  Not only in ways that we can celebrate the roots it has in our national history and some of the founding events in our country, but also in the state of mind in which we live everyday!!
As a parent who has been given 6 delightful lives to nurture and guide in Biblical values and truths, I want my children to learn how to live always in a thankful mindset.  In scripture we are told that it is God's will for us to be thankful in everything we experience.....good times and bad.

"In everything give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

This verse certainly gives no limitations on when we are to be expressing thanksgiving to our Lord, so even though we certainly do verbalize things we are thankful for at this time in November, I want my children to learn that we should be thanking Him ALL the time!!

But practically, how do we do this?  How do I teach my children to be thankful for EVERYTHING?  For the things that are good in our lives, as well as the things that are uncomfortable or, dare I say, downright ugly?

For one thing, I think it takes practice.  Naturally, we are grumblers and complainers.  I know I am anyway.
It takes a conscious effort on our part, a disciplined mind, to praise the Lord in difficult times.

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and (enter) into his courts with praise.
Be thankful unto Him,
and bless His name.
(1.)  For the Lord is good.
(2.) His mercy is everlasting.
(3). His truth endureth to all generations."

~Psalm 100:4,5

My children are memorizing this entire Psalm this month, and I think it's significant to point out to my babes that no where in this scripture are we commanded to thank the Lord for the circumstances around us or the material possessions we have.  Our focus is to be on the attributes of our Heavenly Father.  We can always find something to praise Him for because we know that God never changes.  He is always good.  His truth never changes.  His mercy to us is "new every morning!"

Another way I can teach my children to be thankful is to learn to see things the way our Heavenly Father sees things.  We don't always understand why things happen to us that we may perceive as being "bad".  But scripture tells us:

"And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose."
~Romans 8:28

I want my children to understand that even though we don't know the outcome, our Heavenly Father has the blueprint of our life that He is following, and that sometimes we have sorrowful, or painful, or hard times to teach us to trust Him more, or for a purpose that we may not even be aware of yet.  We are told to just be thankful.  Even if we don't understand.....even when it seems illogical...we must trust Him.

Finally, I want to teach my children to write things down!!  Write out everyday something you can be thankful for!!    Two of my favorite ideas are found at :


"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to the which also ye are called in one body;
and be ye thankful."
~Colossians 3:15

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturdays are for: Visiting with precious friends!!

This precious couple has been friends of our family for years.
When I think back over the years of knowing them,
 what has always stood out about them is their love for children.
They have been foster parents, he has been a history teacher in tough public high schools,
and she was always my "craft lady" for Vacation Bible School.
Their generosity to our family alone is incredible.
They have blessed us over and over.
The sweet boy between them is the son of one of their adopted daughters.
They are now raising him.
Today, we helped them celebrate his 4th year of life.
And what a celebration it was!!
We all went hoping to be a blessing to them, to play with this little guy, to delight him with a gift,
and express our admiration to them for the daunting task they have so willingly taken upon themselves.

But guess who ended up being blessed the most?

 Of course, it was us!!
Again, their generosity to us was very humbling, and my children
were very touched that THEY were the ones who came away with gifts and so much love.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The journey: Getting Started

That's such a lame title.
Maybe, as time goes on, I'll think of something a little more descriptive.
What I DO know is that I don't want this to be all about me.
Over the course of this year, I have learned so much about how SO MUCH is not about ME!
I write the following information strictly for the curious.
Since the beginning of this year, I have run into people I haven't seen for awhile and here is the first reaction:
"Wow!!  You've lost weight!"
The second statement that ALWAYS follows is this:
"How did you do it?"
So I quickly want to answer that question before I move onto what I actually gained this year!

When I decided that I was GOING to lose weight, I knew I was going to need a plan.
Something outlined in map formation.
With little goals along the way that would help me reach my ultimate goal of losing 45 pounds.

But I did not want to spend a lot of money on this.

I didn't want to buy any exercise equipment:

1. I don't have space in my crowded house for something like that.
2.  I don't know one. single. person who has purchased a piece of exercise equipment who didn't end up moving it out onto the patio for storage or just selling the thing. 
3.  I didn't want to get involved in something I would not want to continue once I reached my goal.

I didn't want to go out and spend a fortune on a gym membership,
or for a fancy, shmancy set of tennis shoes and matching workout clothes.

I didn't want to get involved in some kind of fad diet that you grow so secure in that you don't
learn how to change your lifestyle on your own for lasting weight loss.

No pills (what are you learning about yourself when you pop a pill?).
No weight watchers (great group, but not for me, 
hard to maintain unless you keep going to the support groups).
No pre-packaged meals sent to my house (too expensive, processed food, how are you learning portion control yourself when they do it for you?).
No cleanses or flushing of the bowels for this chick!!

I remembered that when we were sitting in the hospital with Ashlyn when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes nearly 2 years ago, that our "Diabetic Educator" handed us a book
that you take everywhere you go that has nearly every restaurant in the country listed
along with every entrĂ©e that restaurant offers.  Then they have the calories and carbs listed so you
can figure out how much insulin you need with your meal.
It's called "Calorie King."
I remembered that when I read through this book, I realized the guy who started putting all this information 
together was passionate about making weight management easier.
So I went to their website.

I read through the information on the website, and did the 1 week free trial.
What was there to lose (besides 45 pounds???)
I immediately liked the user friendliness of the program and ALL the tremendous information they give you.
I liked that it was simply about learning how many calories your body needs every day, 
and then reducing that amount by several hundred (calories) to lose 1-2 pounds a week.
I liked that you have to learn that every morsel you put in your mouth has a calorie attached to it,
and to remember that amount, you must write it down.
I especially like that they said up front, "You don't HAVE to exercise to lose the weight."
I wasn't sure how I would fit exercise into my already overloaded daily routine.
I didn't want my weight loss to become the overriding obsession of my life to the point
that it impacted my time with my children and husband.
I didn't want them resenting that I was gone everyday for hours!

So I signed up.
And I followed it faithfully.
I recorded my calorie intake everyday in their online journal, weighed in once a week, and learned that with exercising you can eat a few more calories on that day.  
I started walking 30 minutes 3 days a week.
Then I bumped it up to 45 minutes for 4 days a week.
The first week I lost 5 pounds, then every week after that I lost 2 pounds....until about the fourth week.
That's when I ran into my first experience with the phenomenon known as:
the plateau!!

That is the infamous point in your weight loss journey that can occur over and over where you lose very little weight one week to no weight at all!!
Those are very frustrating weeks!!
I'll tell you more about what I learned through those times and how to "bust 'em"
in the next installment of this journey!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Fundays!!!

Last week my husband was gone all week to a conference that was several hours away in another big city.
Today, neither of us really had the energy or desire to pack up everybody and go do something.
So for today's "Monday Funday" we had a stay-at-home game-day.

Games are a great way to practice with your children certain
math skills, reasoning skills, vocabulary skills,
how to take turns, be accepting of each others differences,
 and self-control among other critical social skills.
Here are a few of our family's favorites:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturdays are for: A Random Act of Culture

I just loved this when I first saw it, and just had to share!!
Crank up the volume and enjoy!!
Can you just imagine how much fun this was!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Classic Conversations"

Do you have conversations like these with your children?
Here is just a taste of the confabulations at my house.....

Garrett (who is 4 1/2):  Mom, do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Yes. Daddy is my boyfriend (said with much gushing)!
Garrett:  I'm your boyfriend too, and so is Grant.  You have 3 boyfriends, Mom.

Abby (who is 6):  Uh...Mom!!  Why did Garrett get both an ice cream cone AND a slushie?
(Asked of me at Sonic the other day, after some confusion on Garrett's part as to what he wanted for his treat.
He had originally asked for a slushie, but upon seeing everyone else's ice cream decided he wanted ice cream.  So I got him an ice cream with the intention of the his slushie going home with us. But after eating the ice cream, he then was chugging down the slushie before I realized he had it; and, of course, Abby witnessed all this with a completely different interpretation.)
Me (knowing what she was unintentionally implying):  Because Garrett is my favorite!!

My husband has been gone all week to a work related conference in another big city 5 hours away.
The second night he was gone, Ashlyn (who is 10 1/2) asked me where her daddy was sleeping.  
"Is he just staying up at the Hilton Garden Inn?"
(This hotel is just 5 minutes from our home and 3 in minutes from his employment.
Apparently, she thought that his week long conference was at his place of employment,
and that instead of just driving home, stopped in at the most convenient place to stay for the night!!!)
Me:  No, Ashlyn.....he's in San Antonio.
Ashlyn:  He's in SAN ANTONIO????

Abby: Mommy, how long til Christmas? 

Me: Um, I think like 8 weeks or so.

 Abby: I think 2 (weeks).

I was sitting in the front room of the house enjoying the quiet, when I hear from the other room
where all 6 children and Daddy are:


Me:  "What is it?" 

 Lexi:  "A piece of carrot from the salad......way up in Aryn's nose!! Daddy had to dig it out with tweezers!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Before and After....My Journey

Why did I choose to blog?
What motivates me to sit down a few times a week and record the lessons I've learned,
the events our family has enjoyed together,
the struggles I'm growing in,
and the methods by which I do things?

One of the reasons I blog (journal) is so that my children will have a written record of why their mother did the things she did and how she did the things she did (in case by some wild chance they would want to follow that pattern too!)

I also blog with the thought that I'm not alone in this journey of motherhood and life.
I talk to other ladies everyday who are struggling with areas of their lives incredibly similar to my own,
and sometimes I'm a little farther down the road and want to offer some encouragement and ideas
to help her keep moving forward.

Finally, with those ideas in mind, I blog to point both my family and others to Christ.
He alone gets the credit for the beautiful things in my life,
as well as the challenging times which I know He has
sovereignly, deliberately planned for me to purge things out of my life,
and to grow new things in my life to make me more like Him.

On January 1st of this year (2010), I began a journey toward better health.
By December of last year, I just wasn't feeling like myself.
I've told many friends, "I just didn't feel like myself.  I don't know WHO I felt like,
but it WASN'T me."
I didn't like feeling the lifesaving flotation device around my waste every time I sat down that had gradually developed over a few years.
I had noticed that I was exhausted all the time.
Like, new pregnancy exhausted every time I woke up in the morning no matter how much sleep I had.
I noticed I was beginning to feel that my mind was in a thick fog. 
I always felt two steps behind every one else, and I had trouble remembering where I had put things, or names of people from long ago in my life, and if I didn't pay attention my mind would wander off.
These were such little issues I know, but they were beginning to bother me and interrupt my daily life.
Then, I was talking to a friend who was struggling with some thyroid issues.
As she began describing some of her symptoms, I could see some of the same things in me.
One evening, just by chance, I tried to find my thyroid, and low and behold I felt a knot!!
I couldn't believe it.

I told my husband that I thought it might be a good idea for me to have a physical done since my 40th birthday was just 2 months away.
I went to my OB, and during his exam I told him about my feelings of hopelessness some days,
and like I was drowning in my responsibilities.
I asked him if this knot on my thyroid should be there, and he agreed that it should not.
He did some bloodwork, and sure enough my thyroid levels were high, and he referred me to an
endocrinologist (which, of course, I was completely comfortable with!).
To make a long story short, the knot is just a "beneign nodule" but I needed to be on some thyroid medication.
I told him I had set a goal to lose weight this year, and he told me that I wouldn't have lost much to ANY weight if I hadn't addressed this issue first.

Those two visits (and my impending BIG birthday) motivated me to get my physical health back under control.
I know I wasn't falling apart, but I know that's the mindset that gets folks in trouble.
Don't do anything.
Don't try something new because it's hard.
"It's not THAT bad."
I didn't want to be a statistic.
Type 2 Diabetes runs like a river through my family, and I just knew I was headed to take a dip in that river.
I knew I needed my energy back if I was going to continue on this path of homeschooling these children that I felt the Lord has brought me to.
So on the 1st of January, I set a goal to lose 45 pounds.
I weighed 180 pounds.
(I don't know why I hate putting that number out there.  For some reason, I feel embarassed that I somehow intentionally "let" myself get to that unhealthy weight when in reality it just grew there so gradually that I hadn't noticed.)
It has taken me just over 10 months, but this last weekend I FINALLY reached my goal!!

With the motivations in mind that I mentioned at the beginning of this post,
I will be journaling a little bit about where I've been and what I've learned to do to accomplish this over the next couple weeks.
Maybe I'll do a weekly series with a posting every Tuesday.....I'll have to think of a name.  
Any ideas?
(Maybe something like....."Weight-loss Wednesdays"......but then I'd have to do it on Wednesdays!)
Over time, this journey has become about WAY more than just losing the weight.
The Lord has taught me many things about myself, 
 about Him,
and that my sufficiency is found in Him alone!!

This picture was taken just 11 months ago at the end of December 2010.
I have such mixed emotions looking at this picture of myself (not of the people in the rest of the group!!).
I remember so vividly how the flags were waving violently in my head that I was not in a good place.

45 pounds lighter in October 2010 (several weeks ago).
What a journey this has been!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Monday" Funday!!!

Mondays are the Brough Family's day off.
But, just because we call it "Monday Funday,"
and just because that is the day of the week in our schedule to do fun things,
doesn't mean that we can ALWAYS do something really amazing.
This last Monday was such a day.
Because I know that my husband has that day off, and we generally don't do formal school work that day,
I also use that day for doctor's appointments.
Such was this last Monday.
I took 5 of our children to their bi-annual dentist visit as well as having a cleaning done on myself.
We always enjoy going to our dentist.
She's such a hoot!
She is your classic Texas baseball loving, mexican food craving, pink wearing tiny Southern lady!!
And she has the whitest, brightest smile to boot!!

because we were at the dentist all afternoon, we didn't get to go on a field trip that day.
we went on Wednesday.
We just completed our unit study on the Civil War,
so of course we took the children to the "Civil War Museum".

Can I just say.....amazing!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturdays are for: Celebrating birthdays with best friends

The theme was "Knights and Fair Maidens".
Our dear, dear friends who have 5 children also have an annual "birthday bash" to celebrate
all of the children's birthdays at once.
It works out so well that way!!

The girls all received hand-beaded head bands and tulle sashes to wear.

The boys all received hand-made shields, swords, armor, and masks!!

 Garrett loved this!!
The mask is cut out of plastic milk jug and painted.
Tie it on with twine!

Aryn loved the cupcakes made to look like "the sword in the stone," 
and ice cream.

Such a fun time!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Update on my Type 1 Diabetic....

Yesterday was Ashlyn's quarterly visit with her endocrinologist.
I was pretty much resigned to the fact that because her blood sugar levels have been so up and down the last couple months, that her A1C would be up higher than it's been since her diagnosis in February 2009. 

I haven't been able to figure out why her BG (blood glucose) numbers have been like a roller coaster. 
 It seems that if we don't TOTALLY focus on where she's at every minute of the day, she's either crashing or swinging up really high. 
 It's not unusual for her BG to be between 200 & 300 later in the afternoon every. single. day.
In the morning, she's either waking up slightly high or a little low, and then dropping to around 40 before lunch.
We've tried adjusting her insulin, and her ratios now stand at 1:5 for breakfast, 1:5 for lunch, and 1:4 for dinner.
Her bedtime Lantus dose is 20 units.
To me, that just seems like so much!!
Imagine my surprise when her the results of her blood test in the clinic came back with an A1C of
"Not perfect, but not too bad."
That actually was exactly what it was in August, so I was okay with that.
But I know it's just because her crashes have balanced out her highs.

So the doctor gave us several recommendations to try:

1.  He told us that for some children, the long-acting insulin (Lantus) isn't always as "long-lasting" as it's supposed to be.  So he wants us to split her Lantus dosage to 9 units at bedtime, and 9 units at breakfast.
The idea is that it will cover her better throughout the entire day by giving her some at breakfast so it will last throughout the afternoon when she has been going so high.

2.  We're also scaling back her breakfast ratio short-acting insulin (Humalog) to 1:7.  Again, the idea here is maybe she doesn't need as much Humalog in the morning, hence why she's been crashing after an hour or so.
Plus with the extra dose of Lantus on top of that, she probably won't need as much Humalog.

3.  The doctor talked at length with me about the pros of getting her on either the insulin pump or omnipod.
I've been resistant up to this point, but I'm finding myself warming up to the idea because of how difficult it has become managing her BG levels lately.  I'm wondering if it will actually give us better control?  The doctor seems to think that it encourages "compliance" on the part of the child because it's a little less work (everything is right there hooked on your hip and you just have to push a button for a dose).

Overall, it was an encouraging visit, but a good reminder that this is something that we will always have to pay attention too.  There are no breaks or vacations from Type 1 Diabetes.  
There is no room for complacency.
I'm so glad we live when and where we do to have such technologically advanced methods of caring for our children!!  
I'm so thrilled for wonderful endocrinology team she has and that we have one of the BEST Children's Hospitals just 20 minutes from us!!!
God has everything in control for us,
even when we can't keep things under control!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1

Robin Redbreast

"Bright yellow, red and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian princes,
But soon they'll turn to ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough;
It's Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
'Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And what will this poor Robin do?
For pinching days are near.

~ William Allingham

When the Frost is on the Punkin

"When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys,
and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kind o'harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock."

"The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries -- kind o' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below -- the clover overhead! --
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock."

~James Whitcomb Riley