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Friday, May 18, 2018

A year of Fasting 5:2

I am coming up on my 1 year anniversary to starting 5:2 fasting.  For those of you unfamiliar with this idea, you eat normally 5 days a week and then 500-600 calories the other 2 days.  The 2 fasting days can not be consecutive, otherwise you can space them as needed.  I wanted to reflect on how this journey has been and share why I will be taking a break from this lifestyle for a bit.

Things started off very well.  I started gaining energy and really enjoyed the flexibility that not eating until dinner gave at first.  I was pretty quick to start losing weight as well.  The summer was a little hard since the family is around and we do lots of fun stuff, but I kept with it.  When September hit I was into a routine that was easy to keep with.  I quickly did discover that I could not fast on the days I played soccer.  So I moved my Monday fast to Tuesday, the day after I played.  For the remainder I generally did Tuesday and Friday fasts.  This worked well for me, except for the week of my period.

It started with being utterly exhausted in August.  I wrote it off as the back to school time and wacky scheduling.  But then I realized the timing of it.  So I changed and took out a fasting each month.  My energy level came back up and I continued on.  At the beginning of December I was down 15lbs, YAY!  I promptly gained 5lbs back due to holiday eating and cold weather, despite continuing the fasting. 

Unfortunately, I have only lost 2 of those pounds nearly 5 months later.  I have been working out and doing a lot more strength training.  As the weather gets nicer I am adding more walking and some distance running in.  And that is how I have been able to lose those 2lbs.  But I've also noticed I am getting very hungry, even on non-fasting days.  I am starting to wonder if I am eating enough overall, as I know that my body doesn't do "starvation mode" well and I can actually gain weight if not eating enough.  I haven't been counting calories at all.  But with my hard work outs 2x/week, soccer once a week, and 2 lighter work outs, I may need to increase the fuel.

I was so excited in February when I hit my 5th month in a row of 28 day cycles.  I thought I had found something that finally put my body back on track.  But I am not on my 3rd month of 29+ day cycles and waiting to find out the length this month.  My body is clearly unhappy about something going on. 

I am feeling fairly fit.  While I dread some of the difficult work out days, I feel good when the work out is done.  I cut off about 30 seconds from my 2 mile run this week.  And at the end of the 2 miles I didn't feel like I couldn't walk!  So these are definitely good things.  It means that at least the exercising I've been doing is agreeing with my body.  For a variation, I am going to try out a 30 day jump rope, kettle bell challenge.  Looks like it will be fun and a good way to get outside.

I was sleeping great.  I was able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night.  But for the last several weeks I have had trouble both falling asleep and staying asleep.  Some of the research I've found says this is very common in females when they are getting enough food.  I guess our brains start to become hyper-aware so we can do a better job finding food.

I'm debating whether to finish up this month as it would just be 3 more fasting days or just to end now.  I skipped today because it should be time for my new cycle to start.  So I guess that will tell me.  If I have to skip Tuesday then my body really needs me to be eating again.  I'm not sure how I'm so starving today even though it's my third day in a row of regular eating.  I guess my body is just over this idea for now.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: Smile

My daughter is a prolific reader.  She seems to gobble up books as though they might be gone tomorrow.  This is both awesome and troubling at the same time.  It is awesome to have a child that I don't have to ask to read.  She gets to read about experiences that she'll never have and learn some good lessons.  Hopefully this will help her to not have to experience some of these lessons in real life.  The troubling part is beginning to be finding books that have challenging vocabulary but the content is appropriate.  I don't have time to read as much as she does, so I can't pre-read everything that she does.  I have to rely on librarians, teachers, and reviews to know what is good for her to read.  We made it to the public library today and she checked out 20 books.  I have set aside 3 of them to read myself to ensure the content is appropriate.  To help others that are facing a similar "problem" I have asked her to begin writing reviews of the books she's reading.  Hopefully this will help you know whether a book will work for your child!

Title: Smile
Author: Raina Telgemier
Pages: 214
Chapters: 8
Age Read: Late 8, 3rd grade

Short Summary: Raina is a loving girl who injures herself and wonders could this ruin her life? After she is treated for it she realizes that injuries can be fixed. Raina starts out as a sixth grader and ends up in high school.

Review: Smile is a wonderful book, both serious and funny. Smile is written as a graphic novel. It has great content and is a quick read. Raina is a caring and loving character, but when her friends turn on her and she's on her own, it starts to get ugly. Raina learns 2 very important lessons: 1. It doesn't matter what others think, it only matters what you think of yourself.  2. It doesn't matter how you look, it only matters how you feel. Others don't get to choose how you feel, you do. I rate Smile as a 5 star book. I hope you read and enjoy the book Smile!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thankful for my Jobs, PARCC update

We had a quiet afternoon yesterday, since none of the neighborhood kids were around for a change.  I cooked pizzas while Carolyn drew at the table.  James joined her for a while and then drifted to the couch.  He looked exhausted, but it was a little strange that he just curled up on the couch under blankets without anything to do.  I had a feeling he was getting sick.  So when he woke up this morning still feeling crummy I didn't hesitate to take his temperature.  But at 98.3, there was no fever so I put him on the bus.  Around 11 I had finished enough of my work to go for a run.  Just over halfway my phone rang and it was the school nurse.  James' fever was 100.5 so I needed to pick him up.

As I made my way home I felt terrible that he had to wait an extra 20 minutes for me to get him.  He probably was feeling terrible and because I was out for a run he had to wait longer.  But I had figured he made it long enough that he wasn't coming home.  When I got there to bring him home, the nurse relayed their earlier conversation.  Since this was the first time James came home from school, the nurse asked if he thought I would be home.  To that he replied "my mom is always home."  The nurse chuckled and said she thought I might sneak out occasionally.  How ironic I was out for a run at that time.

I brought James home and tucked him into bed.  He watched tv for a while as I ate lunch.  He asked for his lunch but didn't eat it.  Once he fell asleep I snuck out of the room to finish my work for the day.  And this is why I am so thankful for my job.  I was able over the next 3 hours to juggle getting work done while caring for James.  He got to sleep in our bed, take a bath, and then lay on me without anyone being stressed.  There were no arrangements to make and he didn't feel like a burden.  He knew that once that fever appeared, I would be there.  As frustrated as I've been with the crazy hours I've been working (30 this week), the flexibility I have is unmatched.

I love the extra snuggle time I get to have with both kids.  I am so thankful that I can make extra income to help our family without having to sacrifice the level of care the kids receive.  So the next time I start to think about working outside of the home again, I just need to come back to this post.  I will remember that God led me to these positions for a reason.  And until the kids are old enough to not want extra snuggles when they are sick, this is where I need to be.

As an update to my earlier post about refusing the PARCC, I am happy to report that so far the school has been wonderful.  During the practice tests, Carolyn has been allowed to simply read a book.  We plan to visit the public library over spring break next week to ensure she has enough to read during the testing windows the week after break.  Once the letter was delivered I didn't even hear back from anyone at the school.  So looks like we will have no issues.

For those interested, I also updated my other blog tonight as well.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Heartache for Local Families

I feel like we are constantly bombarded with ways to give and serve internationally.  Or when there is a big disaster, we're asked to give to help massive efforts for those displaced.  To apply for my new teaching certification in 2 new states, I had to get fingerprinted (again).  Since we live in the unincorporated part of town, this means I had to go to the Lake County Sheriff, located in Waukegan.  So I drove through parts of North Chicago and Waukegan to get there and get back.

As I drove through these towns, my heart just ached.  The number of run down buildings with boarded up windows was sad to see.  Many of these weren't even businesses, they were homes.  And my response is, who is helping these people?  In particular, who is helping these kids?  How do we expect these kids to make a better life for themselves if we don't do anything to help?  And how long are we going to ignore the needs of the people right around us to serve others thousands of miles away?

So I sat down this afternoon to find a place to start giving to.  It took me about 15 seconds to find a charity in Lake County that gives to places that serve these communities.  I likely need to spend some more time researching these charities to ensure a large percent of the donations go to actually help people.  But I've found that the smaller the organization (ie local,) the less administrative costs.  So I'm going to look at as a potential place for us to being donating regularly.

Those of you that go on big missions trips, that's awesome if that's what God has laid on your heart.  But for those that don't feel called to that, for those that don't feel they have funds to go on a big trip, what if you took the time to find a local charity?  What if you took $10-20/month and donated it locally?  Could you contribute more than that to give another family hope for the future?

My next step is to find places where we can volunteer regularly.  I know I have skills that could be a blessing to others in my background as a math and physics teacher.  In this season of thinking about the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us, I am going to consider the sacrifice of time that I can contribute to help those that need it the most that are practically right in my backyard.  I challenge to find something to contribute to locally on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is the hardest day of the year for me.  It is getting a little easier as the years go by, but is still a lasting reminder of just how much my mom has missed.  I know she sees everything from up on heaven.  And I'm sure she's having a delightful party with her mom, dad, and grandparents up there today.  But I didn't get to hug her at my wedding.  She didn't get to snuggle my little ones when they were born.  And I will never again get to hug her.  She isn't on the other end of the phone when I need motherly advice.  She'll never get to attend any of
the kids' sports events.  But I have to be comforted knowing I will get to see her again once God calls me home, hopefully not for many more years.  The sun is shining today and I like to think that it's her looking down and saying how proud she is of our children and all the people they are becoming.  We had a cake today to celebrate her birthday even though she couldn't be here.  She liked to celebrate, so I know she smiled as I had cake and ice cream with the kids this afternoon.

Have you heard of TRX?  I took a class with it at Park Center one time when I had free classes and it wiped me out.  Seriously the hardest workout I've ever done, short of plain running.  Anyway, I found a cheaper version on Amazon (TRX wants $150 for a few straps?!) and at $35, ordered it.  Yesterday I tried out a workout I found online, getting a feel for what everything should look like.  This morning I went through and timed how many reps fit into the time suggested.  I prefer to count reps rather than look at a timer.  I know it's all mental, but it's good to know what works best for me.  Are you a time or reps person?  Here's what I did today.  This morning, this afternoon
Chest Press - 7, 8
Low Row - 10, 11
Squat - 13, 14
Burpee - 6/6, 7/7
Deltoid Fly - 8, 9
Power Pull - 10/10, 11/11
Sumo Squats - 13, 14
Hamstring Curl - 13, 14
Lunge - 10/10, 11/11
Crunches - 12, 13

My abs are feeling it the most right now which sounds great to me.  I'm going to try and keep increasing the reps until each exercise is at a maximum.  What's awesome is my heartrate even gets going with this.  So until the weather is warm enough to sustain getting out there regularly, I will switch between this and kettle bells.  Complete body work out in 10-12 minutes!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Make 1 Income Work

My goal here is not to feed into the debate of SAHM vs WM.  Every family needs to decide what is best for them.  But I do feel like there are a lot of women that wish they could stay at home but can't see how it could ever work.  Or may you are just getting married and thinking that when you have kids you would like to stay at home but can't imagine getting by on just 1 income.  Having lived it, I can tell that it is definitely possible.

What you have to decide is what sacrifices you are willing to make.  I've never been a Starbuck's person.  In fact, I hate the taste of coffee.  I've never been one to love eating out all the time, I prefer to know what's in my food.  I don't wear make-up as in high school my skin was super sensitive and I just never started doing it after that.  So these may be some areas to consider reducing your budget with.  We chose to cut back as much as possible.

One of the biggest things that helped us was the decision to take 1 year at a time.  We looked at our budget and our income when I got pregnant.  We knew that our house was purchased based on 1 income.  This is key if you are planning for the future as housing is going to be the biggest expense each month.  I tried to find some side jobs and as a former teaching was able to pick up some tutoring for extra money when the kids were tiny, but never worked much until they started school.

Once our first child was born, we said I would stay home for 1 year and then we would evaluate where we were financially.  Jon was only making around $40k/year before deductions at that point.  We had no car loans, but both had significant student loans.  But there were 2 major reasons why we decided to try me staying at home for a year.  First and foremost, it was what we both really wanted for our child.  We wanted one of us to be with her as much as possible.  It made sense for it to be me since I could then breastfeed, a huge savings for our budget.  Second, we looked at what I was making.  I was 25 when Carolyn was born and finishing my 3rd year of teaching.  I was making similar to Jon at around $40k.  By the time we considered paying for day care, gas, taxes, and work clothes expenses, the amount we would get to keep from my paycheck was pretty small.

So what did we give up?  We stopped going out to eat.  But who really enjoys going out to eat and wrestling a baby the whole time?  Once our contract ran out, we gave up cable.  We opted instead to use Redbox to rent movies, check them out from the library, or watch movies we already owned.  We shopped sales to reduce our grocery budget.  Along with meal planning, this made a large impact on our monthly expenses.  Jon packed lunch for work each day to keep our food expenses as low as possible.  Realistically, because we were quite young when our first child was born, we did not have an extravagant lifestyle so we didn't miss much of what we cut.  When it came to clothes, we graciously accepted all hand me downs available.  Especially when kids are tiny, they outgrow things so fast that most of what we received was nearly new.

Something nobody tells you when you're about to have a baby is that month to month, babies are cheap.  The first few years of life, when kids are most malleable, child care is most expensive, and you can have the most impact by staying home, that's when kids are the cheapest to stay at home with.  Babies don't need to take classes.  If you join a moms group, you can find playgroups to attend or park gatherings to get out of the house.  Going for a walk is good exercise and most little ones love it.  Once you've come out of the sleep-deprived coma of the first 2 months, you can even use your baby as a "weight" to combine bonding time and a work out routine.  Our kids loved it when would lift them over our chest (just not right after nursing).  The first 6 months there don't have to even be any additional food expenses.  If you breastfeed, that is all the baby needs.  And if you are home with the baby, you don't have to worry about pumping.  Our oldest had maybe 6 bottles while our youngest had none.  For the next 6 months, purchasing real food for the child to try is minimal.

My kids are now 6 and 8, our income has increased dramatically since those first few years.  One year we were less than $1k away from receiving the EIC on our taxes.  As the kids have grown, I have increased my work with 2 online companies.  Now that both kids are in school I find myself often working 5-6 hrs/day.  But because we've always done such a good job with our finances, my paycheck can fund all the things we gave up when the kids were tiny.  I love being home each day when the kids get home so they can just play.  And they would tell you the same thing.

So if you feel in your heart that you want to be home with your kids, know that you can make it work.  It might not always be easy and you will have to make some sacrifices, but you can make it work with some planning.  One thing when looking at your income to consider is how much less in taxes you will pay with an extra dependent and a significant reduction in income.  If you'd like ideas of things to cut, I'd love to help.  Start by writing down all your expenses for a couple months and I'm happy to take a look for you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Refusing PARCC

As spring approaches, so does the state testing in our public schools.  I shudder to imagine that weeks are devoted to tests that tell us so little about all of the students.  But most of us sat through it when we were in elementary school.  I actually remember enjoying getting the score reports (but I was/am a little weird).  But testing today has taken on a new name and has lost a lot of meaning.  I don't mind the MAP testing that most public schools in this area do.  In fact, I can entirely see how they can use it to help guide instruction.  Since MAP testing takes a total of 2 hours for the math and reading, including prep time to get the kids settled beforehand, I also don't see it as a huge intrusion.

PARCC testing is a whole different animal.  For starters, it is not nationally normed.  Therefore, the results mean basically nothing.  So the children sit through hours of testing to get a score that doesn't provide any real information.  It also is not tied to any state funding.  So why would schools spend these hours that might otherwise be used for actual instruction?  That's where the bureaucracy of public schools come in.  But the more of us that have our kids refuse to take this test, the quicker we can sweep PARCC out the door.

Tomorrow I will be sending my 3rd grader to school with a letter to the principal informing her of our family's decision, signed by both me and my husband.  I have sent an email tonight to her teacher as a heads up.  I have also stuck some small slips of paper into Carolyn's folder so that she does not have to verbally decline.  I have asked her teacher to let me know if she the school will require her to verbally decline in case we need to prepare for that.  As I was printing out the letter tonight and trying to explain this test to my kids, I could see their inner struggle.  And that is part of what is sad about all of this.  I am left to explain to my 8 year old that in this one instance, it's okay to refuse take a test (multiple tests, really).  I want her to continue to be a good citizen within her school and continue to be generally obedient to her teacher.  I had to try to explain to her why this test is different from all the others.  I hope I did a good enough job and I hope the school makes this easy on her.  I will update with more as this process continues.  Our school got a late start this year due to construction so testing is not scheduled until the second week of April.

For those looking for resources on how to help your child opt out, check here:
Facebook Opt out Group
Raise Your Hand IL