2013 Goals

January 8th, 2013 by Rachel

I made a few goals last year, but I didn’t do a very good job assessing my progress, and I forgot about a few of them. Oops! I hope to assess my progress every quarter and see how I am doing.

-Clean 100# (current max is 90)
-Back Squat 150# (current is 135)
-Deadlift 200# (current is 170)
-Jerk/Press 100# (current is 90)
-Be able to do a full handstand pushup
-Run a < 9 minute mile (I really need Thomas to pace me to make this happen) -Maintain lifting/crossfit workouts 3-4xs/week, run once a week Spiritual
Do some sort of Bible study/devotional (will update when I find one)

Have people over 20 times this yar. Since Micah was born, we have not been as good about inviting people over for dinner like we did in the past. Dinner time is louder and crazier that it used to be, but I need to get over that.

Streamline meal planning with a paleo-friendly meal plan. Meal-planning and making a grocery list have been taking longer than they should (I abandoned my 12-week meal rotation I made two years ago because we don’t eat most of those foods anymore.)

-Make a schedule for reviewing past week’s memory work.
-Start doing a reading curriculum with Annalise (ordered it yesterday), and in the summer, begin math with her.

-Attend 1-2 births this year.
-Complete 15 CEUs by June. This was one of the goals I forgot about last year. Yikes! I need to get busy.

Soft “Paleo” Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 4th, 2013 by Rachel

I love chocolate chip cookies, and I had perfected my recipe over the years. Thomas insisted that I keep that recipe a family secret, much to the disappointment of some fans of the cookies. I blame those cookies for about 10 pounds that I gained during my pregnancy with Sugar. Anyway, I have been trying various grain-free chocolate chip cookies over the past two years since I started following a paleo diet (not that cookies are paleo, but you know… a treat now and again is okay.) I never found a recipe that I liked enough to make more than once. I tweaked several different recipes and came up with one that my family and I love. The kids don’t even complain about wanting the old kind anymore!

Soft Grain-free Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups almond flour (locally, I get this at Brazos Natural Foods. It is the cheapest and best quality around. You can spend more and get Bob’s Red Mill, too.)
1/3 – 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (I also get this at BNF, it has a lower glycemic level than regular sugar or honey)
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life are good, so are dark Santa Barbara chocolate chips)

Melt your butter and stir together all the ingredients. No need to beat it or anything, just combine everything in a bowl, then stir in your chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes, no longer! They might not look all the way done, but let them cool completely on the cookie sheet. They are even better the next day, as if the almond flour softens more overnight. Makes about 15 cookies.

Funny Kids

January 3rd, 2013 by Rachel

I drafted this post a few weeks ago, but forgot about it.
The kids had us in stitches last weekend with all the hilarious things they were saying. The bigger two participated in their first race. While they have attended several races to cheer on Mom and Dad, this was their first to run in. They surprised me with how well they did on the 1.2 mile course. I hoped and prayed that they would finish it without giving up halfway, and they did!

Sugar refused to let Thomas run with her, and opted to run with a friend of hers and his daddy. Afterward, she boasted about not needing a daddy to run with like her friend did, but I pointed out that she just used her friend’s daddy instead of her own. Her friend’s daddy relayed some of their conversation along the run:

Sugar: I just had to wear my hair in a ponytail this morning or else I would have hair all in my face. You can’t run with hair all in your face! You can’t see where you are going!

Later, Sugar: I am going to need a bath after this! Running makes you sweaty and stinky like a hamster. Hamsters stink and I am going to smell like a hamster! (I have no idea where this came from!)

While explaining to Bud about Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy, Bud failed to see the significance of the event. Finally he said, “If the trophy isn’t made of solid gold, I don’t see what the big deal is.”

Thomas and I got all dressed up to go to his company’s Christmas party. I bent down to tell Sugar good-bye while she patted my hair, dress and jewelry.
Me: I love you, Sugar.
Sugar: I love your earrings.

December in Our Home

January 2nd, 2013 by Rachel

We upgraded to a new camera after a Black Friday sale we couldn’t resist. Our old camera was purchased before we got married, and the quality of pictures has steadily declined. (I blame the children.) This month, we took twice as many pictures as we took in any other month. Of course, December is full of picture-taking opportunities, but still… this post has a lot of pictures. Click on any to enlarge them.

We went on several nature walks during the first part of December when the weather was gorgeous. We have been learning about plants and classifications of living things, and the kids have really enjoyed the nature walks. Bud was determined to catch a butterfly, but found lots of caterpillars instead.

The kids also ran in their first race, a one mile kid’s race as part of the BCS Marathon. They both finished and had a blast, though training for it had its highs and lows.

December was full of parties–end of CC semester party, a CC review day party, our PE co-op Christmas party, Thomas’ company’s Christmas party, and Christmas celebrations with my mom, Woody and siblings, my dad, Gigi, and sister, Thomas’ parents, and our little family on Christmas day. Whew! We also drove through Santa’s Wonderland one night (Speedy sat in the drivers seat and had a blast), and we walked through Christmas at the Creek one night. While visiting my mom, we spent a morning in Tyler catching up with our friends, the Eylers. (It was so much fun to see you guys!)

Christmas with kids is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed seeing them soak up more about the meaning of Christmas–God with us. Our tree was typical of one with a toddler in the house, no ornaments on the bottom three feet, though Speedy was often found standing on one of the presents he drug out from under the tree in order to be able to reach an ornament.

We also harvested a measly crop of sweet potatoes (we didn’t water enough), and have had lots of broccoli and lettuce. Did I mention we got a new camera and took a ton of pictures?

November in Our Home

January 2nd, 2013 by Rachel

I am a little behind, but at least my pictures are organized on the computer by month. November was a busy month for our family with homeschooling, Classical Conversations, gymnastics, and starting a new Bradley series. I also taught a breastfeeding class at the crisis pregnancy center. Bud also started Upward basketball, and Thomas jumped in to coach his team. They are enjoying that special time together, and Thomas is learning how to coach six to eight year olds with limited basketball experience.

We spent a lot of time outside this month enjoying cooler temperatures.

We made a trip to Hamilton to visit Thomas’ parents. There was a benefit for the fire department, and the kids enjoyed climbing all over some of the fire trucks. We had fun walking around the square.

I cut 11 inches off my hair, and I love it!

Newborn got married to Sam with Thomas officiating the wedding. As you can see by the picture, he had a really hard time keeping a straight face while saying things like, “Newborn, do you take Sam…”

We spent a Saturday at the Brazos Valley Worldfest. With a huge amount of International students at A&M, there were many countries represented. The kids enjoyed learning more about countries they have learned about with our geography lessons at home and their CC memory work. Sugar was amazed by the fancy dresses, and we all had fun with the food.

Thomas built a bike rack for the garage. This has been helpful in preventing the pile of bikes that has been growing over the years.

A sweet friend of ours got married, and we all had a blast at her wedding.

We celebrated cooler weather by roasting marshmallows in the backyard.

We spent Thanksgiving here with several friends coming over. There were 10 adults and 9 children, and more than enough food. Once again, we bought a smoked turkey from C&J’s bbq, which was delicious. We had a great time, and were so happy to spend time with lots of friends, but I didn’t get any pictures.

November & December Books

December 30th, 2012 by Rachel

25. No Biking In the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Faye Greene – This author wrote “There Is No Me Without You”, a powerful book about AIDS orphans in Ethiopia and an Ethiopian woman who helped rescue hundreds of them. This book is the author’s personal adoption story of adopting five children internationally. It was a sweet book about her nine children, their family dynamics and the honest trials their family experienced.

26. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers – I was in the mood for some lighter fiction over the holidays, and this fit the bill.

27. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – Wow, this was a hard book to read. The author spent three years living in the slum of Annawadi, in the shadows of the Mumbai International Airport in India. She followed several residents of the slum and their stories of survival, despair and hope. It was shocking and terribly sad to read of the corruption and oppression of the poor.

28. The Round House by Louise Erdrich – This was a page turner. I enjoyed learning more about Native American tribal laws, modern issues among Native Americans, and this fiction adventure story. I could have done without some of the language.

29. Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers – This was the next and final book in this series. It was not as fast-paced as the first book. It seemed to drag quite a bit in the middle, but I had to find out what happened to the characters.

Sugar is 4.5

December 4th, 2012 by Rachel

You are finally four and a half! You have waited for this day since you turned four, six long months ago. I wish you would stay little, but you are in a hurry to be a big girl, and you have your big brother to keep up with and your little brother to mother.

Even though you are surrounded by all these boys, you are one of the girliest girls I have ever known. Your clothing choices are labored over (sometimes days in advance). You have been working hard at styling your own hair, sometimes using up to 25 bobbypins and 10 clips at once.

You also love to accessorize. HEB has jewelry-dispensing machine, and though you have been getting pieces you don’t like, you continue spending your hard-earned quarters there. You almost always have on a ring and necklace, and often sport a bracelet or huge clip-on earrings. We have reached a compromise on your clothing choices–you can wear whatever you want as long as it is weather-appropriate. I tell you long-sleeves or short, pants or shorts, and then you go for it. The only exceptions are family pictures and weddings.

You are such a little momma to all of your dolls and stuffed animals. Every stuffed animal is dressed in doll clothes with your hair clips on their ears. Your favorite is a tiny dog you named Newborn around the time your baby brother was born. Newborn has been in your arms almost nightly as you go to sleep. You feed her, diaper her, and apparently she wakes you often in the night to nurse. However, recently Newborn aged quite a bit and you spent three full days planning her wedding. You made confetti, flower arrangements, and you even wrote a song which you performed on her big day (and rehearsed at the top of your lungs that morning at the park for a good 15 minutes.) Daddy officiated the wedding so you could be free to orchestrate it. You have an attention to detail that amazes me. Someday, you will be planning our parties.

Though you act like a very big girl, you have say some very adorable things. My favorites include:
-I wonned ya! (Instead of “I beat you.”)
-It is going downer. (Instead of “getting lower.”)

You also got a big girl bike recently. You manage it very well, and have woken up very early in the morning to practice riding it while I workout in the driveway.

You insisted on getting your hair trimmed last month after begging and begging me to take you to cut it shorter. I held you off for a few weeks, but when you threatened to cut it yourself, I knew it was time to go. However, you cried for at least two hours about it when we got home before you decided you liked it.

You amaze me with how much you are learning in CC. You don’t often participate when we are reviewing memory work, but then you blow me away with how much you know when you do participate. I have been holding off on teaching you reading since you are content to draw pictures and play with your dolls most of the time when Bud and I are doing school. Last week, I got out the letter tiles and put together several simple words, which you sounded out rather effortlessly. I guess it is time to start formally teaching you to read.

You are such a blessing to our family. I love you so much! Happy half birthday.


Speedy is 15 Months Old

December 3rd, 2012 by Rachel

Time is flying with Speedster. He has one speed–go, and he seems to do everything with a lot of gusto. He is so much fun these days and keeps us on our toes and in stitches, to use a few cliches.

We had pictures done with Shannon Morton last month, and I am in awe of her ability to get so many great shots with such a busy boy. More to come later.

Some new things for Speedy this month include:
-mastering climbing onto the coffee table (though I am trying to thwart this by putting him in bulky cloth diapers and tight blue jeans. It really works.)
-climbing ladders well including the big kids’ bunk bed ladder
-taking one nap most days (we had only one two nap day in the last week)
-mastering a wealth of animal sounds including crocodiles chomping, seals barking and whales singing
-new words: sit, car, backhoe, backpack, shoes. He makes a slurping sound for cup/drink and says “choo choo” for train
-blowing kisses with a big “Mwah!” to cars driving by or anyone saying good-bye
-still loving to read books and he will sit for ages if you are reading to him

Another milestone this month was that Speedy learned to sit in the shopping cart without standing up. Ever since he was about 8-9 months old, this kid figured out how to roll himself over in the shopping cart seat and stand up with the belt tightly around his waist. This led to me having to wear him on my back for every shopping trip (and have my ponytail tugged constantly). Anyway, I am enjoying not having a monkey on my back in the grocery store.

We have gone on several nature walks this month, and Speedy is content to ride in the Beco backpack for most of the time, and then he explores right along with the big kids, dragging a huge stick around just like them.

He bit Sugar on the arm last week. I think he has had enough of her pestering him and is asserting himself over her more.

He loves anything that goes–cars, trucks, trains, construction equipment, tractors, airplanes, buses. I let him watch a few little videos on the ipad so I could clip his fingernails, and now, if he sees the ipad, he starts whining and begging for “backhoes.”

We had a rough few weeks of sleep with Speedy with three or more night wakings some nights. Previously, he had one or two, which I could handle but three or more was taxing. I am not sure if it was caused by a low fever he ran for a day or two, the transition to one nap, or teething (he still only has 8 teeth), but whatever it was, he seems to have turned a corner.

He is making his sound for camel as we were waiting in line to pet one at the WorldFest earlier this month.

Pumpkin Patch Pictures

November 20th, 2012 by Rachel

We made our annual trek to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins for the kids to paint. Speedy had a blast trying to lift all the “balls” and succeeded in rolling several off the pallets. You will notice is mouth saying “ball” in many of these pictures.

October in Our Home

November 20th, 2012 by Rachel

Wow, I got really behind on the blog, but I want to keep these going as a digital scrapbook of sorts. We had a busy, fun-filled month in October. We enjoyed a nice, long rain at the end of September (yes, I know, the pictures were still on the camera when I did my September post). The big kids and I also went to see our community theater’s performance of The Music Man. It was a great production, and the kids loved it and begged to go see it again and again. One of my someday-dreams is for our family to perform in a musical together. Wouldn’t that be a blast?

We hosted a block party in our driveway for National Night Out. We have done this before, but we decided to go all out this year and we rented a bounce house and grilled burgers for everyone. We have amazing neighbors who are all very friendly, so it was a great time. The only pictures I got were of the kids in the bounce house before everyone arrived. I was too busy chasing Speedy to get any other pictures.

In celebration of cooler temperatures, we roasted marshmallows and made smores, and we picked out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. Speedy tried to haul around all of the “balls”. We also planted our fall garden of lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.

We did a lot of school, enjoyed our Classical Conversations community, lived it up in our PE co-op, went on a few field trips, and I took the kids with me to vote.

Bud and Thomas joined some of their favorite guys and boys for their annual Boys Only camping trip. It was the day we got a serious cold front, and they got to camp out with temperatures in the upper 30s. Sugar and I put Speedy to bed and painted our nails, made ourselves a treat, and watched Cinderella together. This is Bud all packed and ready to go.

At the end of the month, our polo-playing neighbors invited us to watch them play polo in a benefit match. It was a beautiful day, and we all had a great time watching our neighbor score the one and only point. Speedy thought the horses were dogs and kept panting at them, and all the kids lived it up in the bounce house between rounds.