Sunday, July 31, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme - Week 3

Heartfelt HomeschoolingWhether you want to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds or 100 pounds – it always helps to have support from those around you.

Goal – lose 20 pounds   
Pounds Lost (Week 3) – Up .5 pounds (Down 4.5 total)

How it Went This Week:
Well, I’m sad.  I know this is how weight loss goes, but I’ve been SO good this week and the scale went up!  Part of it, I think, is water weight (my ankles are cankles right now).  I’ve been doing a lot of walking out in the heat.  But…  Even down a half pound would feel so much better!  :-(

What’s my Plan for this Week:
First, I’m going to do more than mentally count calories.  I’m going to write down everything I eat and the calorie count.  If I’m doing as good as I think I am, the scale should start moving.

Second, keep walking the mile a day.  It’s not much, but it’s something.  That and two TKD classes are my exercise for now.  I need to be off the computer more too.  That’s one of my goals for all of August.

Third, drink more water.  Yuck!  I don’t like drinking water, but I need to commit to doing it.  For this week, I’m going to drink a glass of water every time I drink anything else.  Alternating.  That should help with water weight.

How has your week gone? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

3 in 30 Challenge - Goals for August

3in30 Challenge
This is my first time doing the 3 in 30 Challenge.  I’m a goal oriented person, however, so it’s right up my alley.  This idea is to come up with three goals you want to accomplish in thirty days (one month).    I love being held accountable – it drives me, so here goes…

Goal #1:  Lose Weight

I’m going to keep losing weight.  I don’t want to necessarily put a number of pounds in thirty days on this goal because I really haven’t been doing it long enough to be in a losing pattern to estimate yet.  My overall goal is twenty pounds.  So, sticking with it is my goal this month.  I’m doing a meme for losing weight that is helping tremendously with encouragement and not feeling alone on this journey.  Check it out:  Slim Down Sunday Meme.  I post on Sunday, but linkup is any time during the week.

Goal #2:  Learn my Poomses
Poomses are taekwondo combinations that we learn for each belt.  The boys and I are on our sixth belt now and we should have all six poomses memorized.  However, I seem to have poomse amnesia.  Every time I start learning a new one, I forget the old ones.  This is bad and frustrating.  I really don’t understand why I can’t keep them memorized.  I’m surmising OLD syndrome has something to do with is.

Goal #3:  Invest in our Homeschool
This goal is ongoing, but I wanted it stated clearly for this month.  Homeschooling the boys is my priority right now; however, it’s easy to let other things start getting in the way of giving it my all.  One of those things is my job.  I tend to get distracted by my commitments to my students at the university and become more lax in my focus on my two most important students.  That is not to say their academics suffers, but I want to be more accessible and even more invested.  I’m going to find balance here.  I’ve taken a term off from teaching online to see how much of an impact that has on our schooling. 

So, those are my three main goals.  Thank you for your encouragement and comments as they all help keep me on track.

What are your three main goals for August?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Digital Edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Take a look at the brand new Summer digital edition of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

TOS is offering this digital issue of the magazine totally free with no strings attached. Enjoy this free gift from TOS—no registration or email address required to view the magazine!

Take a peek here. Then share the link with your friends by clicking on the share button at the top of the magazine pages.

Wordless Wednesday - Giant Leaves

We have an area by our house that stays too wet for most plants, but the elephant ears love it.  These babies make those stories of Frog and Toad floating down the river on a leaf believable.  We actually have three sets.  They are huge!

From a Distance

Middle Son is 5'7"

One Big, Beautiful Leaf

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dear Bump-and-Run Driver...

Dear Bump-and-Run Driver,

I took the hubby’s car into the repair shop for a repair estimate today.  You managed to do about $1900 dollars worth of damage to his back bumper and trunk.  Fortunately, we are blessed with good insurance and the incident will only cost us $250 and one week without his car.   Ouch!
If you are a person with no insurance knowing that the cost would be a burden on your family, we forgive you.  Accidents happen and sometimes we make a panicked choice.  I do wish you had owned up to your mistake.  We would have shown compassion and worked with you, but you couldn’t have known that.

However, if you took off because you place your needs above others and are selfish, then I pity you.  Each time a human being makes a choice like that, it is a shining example of why the needy are afraid to trust their fellow man.  I pray that one day you will have the opportunity to give unselfishly and erase this blemish on your character.  If you have a family, then I hope you at least considered the burden you were placing on another just to save yourself time or money or a headache. 
Bump-and-Run, in the future, please consider the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Your turn is coming, and when it does, I pray the person in your shoes makes the right decision.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme - Week 2

Heartfelt HomeschoolingWhether you want to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds or 100 pounds – it always helps to have support from those around you.

Goal – lose 20 pounds
Pounds Lost (Week 2) – Five!!!

How it’s Going This Week:

I have to say, I am very excited about the five pound drop.  I know it won’t keep coming like that, but it’s a boost to have a drop instead of nothing or worse going up.
This past week was more of the same at the workshop.  Walking to and from the class helped with exercise.  They served fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and I was on my own for dinner.  Since I was solo, it was easy to make healthy choices. 

I ate several Subway subs with ham or turkey and no cheese or condiments.  Also, Wendy's has a apple/pecan salad that is yummy.  (I order it with no chicken.)  So, lots of reasonably priced choices that taste good.  One thing I was shocked by - Panera's Turkey on Country white with no cheese or condiments is 450 calories!  Yikes!  So watch what you choose, sometimes it's deceptive.
Now that I’m back home and emboldened by the drop, I went and got a bunch of fruit and salad stuffs to keep up with what appears to be working.  I have the feeling I’m going to get sick of salad, but I’ll keep eating it as long as I can.  I bought several bags of frozen veggies, too.  A big serving of broccoli or the like can be very filling without calories or fats.
What’s my Plan for this Week:
First, walking around the block at least twice a day.  Our “block” is half a mile, so a mile minimum a day.  If this heat would back down a little, it would be easier to envision increasing this number.  May try to up TKD to three times a week, but we’ll see.
As noted above, I’m going with the fruits and veggies plan.  One thing I definitely notice is that if I eat carbs like cereal or breads for breakfast, I’m hungry all day.  So, none of that!
I’d like to try drinking more water.  At the workshop, I was probably drinking five to seven diet cokes a day.  So bad for me!  Maybe I’ll try a tall glass of water for each diet coke I drink.  I miss sweet tea!
Finally, I'm counting calories.  The main reason for this is because it forces me to face how many I’m eating in a day.  My goal is to keep it between 1200 and 1500 a day.  I know I'm a lot less likely to eat something with a lot of calories if I have to write it down and subtract it from what I’m allowing myself.  This really seems to help me just say NO!

How are you doing this week?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Last Day of the Alice Workshop

This is the last day of the Alice Workshop.  It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot.  So excited about what I’ll be bringing back to teach at the homeschool co-op.   Here are the two quick projects I developed for the class.  One is a tutorial on what binary is and one is a simple hidden object game.  They are interactive in Alice, but just videos here.  I can already see ways I could improve these.
This tutorial is in conjunction with worksheets you can download at CSUnplugged.

This is a hidden object game showing that you can use several different scenes and lighting techniques in Alice.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lessons I Learned from Leaving Home

As you know, I’ve been at a workshop for the last two weeks.  My goal is to learn a new programming environment to teach homeschoolers.  Sure, I learned a lot about programming, but I learned even more about enjoying little pleasures.

First, having food ready for you!  I now understand why men have enjoyed the expectation of a hot meal ready for them when they get home from work.  We had breakfast and lunch catered for us.  What a joy to simply get up, help ourselves and go back to our seats.  No choice, no preparation, just the enjoyment of a fresh meal two times a day.  I could SO get used to that!
Second, a room to myself.  They put us up in a hotel and by the luck of the draw I didn’t have a roommate.  A whole room where I could do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it with nobody to interrupt.  Some may think this lonely, but, when life is always hectic, calm is such a blessing.  I could have the TV on the channel I wanted or leave it off.  I could rest, or work on the computer or go down to the exercise room.  Dinner was on my time and what I wanted to eat.  Bed time was when I was ready.  Wow!  I’ve never lived alone – this was quite an experience.  Mind you – I wouldn’t want it full time, but two weeks of it was nice. 

Third, housekeeping.  Leave the room in the morning, come back in the afternoon to a clean room with the bed made and fresh towels.  Bliss! 
Finally, education!  I love learning!  Getting to sit in a classroom and learn day after day with no household responsibilities biting at my heels was wonderful.  Young college students just don’t realize what they have: the chance to immerse in education with no other concerns.  I wish I could rewind and really take full advantage of those years.

I miss my family and can’t wait to be back into life’s regular routine, but I feel so blessed to have this opportunity for me.    It’s no spa, but I feel rejuvenated nonetheless!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Duke Cathedral

Visiting Duke University for two weeks at a workshop - the following are pics of their gothic style cathedral built in the 1930's.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Plugged-In Parenting Review

Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War

Author: Bob Waliszewski

I really enjoyed Plugged-In Parenting.  We have struggled in our home to maintain a sense of appropriateness in the face of the media culture.  This is especially true for our older teenagers who sleep with the TV on, own IPods and spend a great deal of time on social media. 
There have always been rules in the house.  Movies, games or songs with inappropriate content are strongly discouraged.  However, parents can’t watch their kids 24/7 especially when they get older and more independent.

Bob Waliszewski addresses both the impact that negative media can have on an individual and the fact that parents will fight push-back when attempting to keep their kids from being exposed to those films and lyrics that “everyone” listens to these days. 
While Bob offers examples of extreme cases where violence has been the result of media influence, he also address the smaller nuances that can result from allowing our minds to be affected by what we watch, play or listen to.  Kids or teens especially can be influenced to believe that smoking, drinking or promiscuity are socially acceptable for everyone. 

I appreciated that Bob not only pointed out the problem, but offered some solutions.  ClearPlay is a product that allows families to download filters for popular movies or programs removing objectionable content seamlessly while keeping the story intact.  Further, Bob suggests creating a family constitution that defines the family stance on what is appropriate in media and what will not be engaged in by family members. 
I admit I felt overwhelmed by what I read.  Negative messages comes at a family from all angles, even when watching appropriate programming, a commercial can throw a monkey wrench through suggestive selling.  While we do monitor our children’s media, how does one reign back in teenagers who are “doing their own thing”?   

Focusing on what God would find appropriate helps.  Bob focuses on this aspect throughout the book.  We can get busy in life and forget to run things through our God filter.  I think that’s what it all boils down to.  This book helped remind me about how important it is to be in the world, but not of it.  We are going to make a pact as a family to renew our God filter and monitor more carefully the media we let in. 
If you are interested in Plugged-In Parenting, you can read a chapter here.

*** I received a copy of this book free of charge from Tyndale for my honest review.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme - Week 1

Heartfelt HomeschoolingWhether you want to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds or 100 pounds – it always helps to have support from those around you.

This meme is an opportunity for you to share your successes and setbacks with others hoping to slim down as well. We kicked off last week, but this week is the first real link up! Come and join me! 

Same pic as last week - I cut my hair! Hate it! So, give me a week or two and I'll update with more hair and, hopefully, a slimmer self.

Goal – lose 20 pounds
Pounds Lost (Week 1) – Honestly, I stayed off the scale this week. It’s my least favorite week of the month, if you know what I mean, so I always gain weight this week. I didn’t want to start with disappointment. :-)

How it’s Going This Week:

Wow! I couldn’t have picked a better time to decide to lose weight. I am at a two week workshop and we just finished week one. The instruction has been excellent, and they are really taking care of the participants food wise. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

Breakfasts have consisted of fruits along with different items each day like quiche, donuts, bacon and cheese grits… Lunches have been sandwiches, pasta, chicken pot pie… Yikes! Add to that the two bins of snacks they provide each day including chips, candy bars, fruit cups, etc. and it would be easy to put on a TON of weight.

Fortunately, I’m Type A, and a diet is a diet! So, only fruits, veggies and low calorie meat choices for me. It hasn’t been too hard – I’m glad for that! The fruit and salad choices have made it easy to ignore the other sweet temptations. I hope that proves true in week two as well!

As for exercise, well… I have done more walking than normal commuting back and forth to the campus. I did wander down to the exercise room one night to walk on the treadmill. However, no taekwondo, so I’m thinking it’s probably a wash. Something to work on more next week. If the temps are cooler, walking the campus is a distinct possibility.

Plan for Next Week:

I’m going to keep on keeping on with the eating healthy. I do plan to walk the campus or be more active next week. We’ll see. I want to break out my Hungry Girl Cookbook when I get back home as there are many yummy low-cal, low-fat recipes I need to add to my repertoire.

If you haven't checked out Hungry Girl before, I suggest you do. She does a great job of encouraging us dieters while offering great suggestions for eating to lose weight. I LOVE her recipes! 

Where do you get the healthy recipes that help you lose weight? What’s your plan this week? How is your diet going? 

Link up here and then be sure to visit the other links and leave them comments of encouragement as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When the Cat's Away...

Hubby and the two younger boys headed to the beach to hang out with his family while I came to my workshop.  It was actually a relief for me because I knew they were having fun while I was away.  I think they had a pretty good time!

My Handsome Boys

Fighting Some Waves

Hanging with Nana
My guys wanted me to know that even though they were having lots of fun, they were thinking of me.  Awww...  I love it!

Casa de la April

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Would You Want to Teach? America has lost It's Perspective!

Being here at Duke has been a real eye opener and a confirmation of the value of education!

It’s been an eye opener because I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with middle and high public school teachers this week.  I am shocked and dismayed with the pressures and lack of support these teachers receive while trying to educate America’s youth.
One wonderful lady I have met is expected to teach several computing courses with very little resources.  They are providing no textbooks, no training and yet she is expected to walk into the high school this year and teach concepts like programming using Flash and design in Photoshop. 

Another was telling me about the thirty-five students she will have in her classroom.  Thirty-five!  If a teacher is absent, classes are combined and students sit on the floor. 
I am especially appalled by the amount of negative parental influence allowed.  Parents of lackadaisical students complain to administration and teachers have been told not to fail them or to change their grades.  In some cases, teachers have seen changes to their grade books.  Accountability and consequences are out the window.

Finally, the budget cuts are really hurting the teachers personally.  One lost his job days before the workshop started.  Others say they are dealing with furlough days and major budgetary cuts for supplies and resources.  Some districts have implemented health plans now that require teachers to demonstrate health through weight and activity or pay high premiums. 
I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to homeschool my boys, and, yet, I am frightened by the trends in America’s education.  Our schools are filled with kids needing a strong education, and teachers are being crippled by the administration and the government.

Why would people choose teaching these days when they have no support, low incomes, and ridiculous expectations set for them?  America is at a crossroads, and if we don’t invest in teachers and our youth – the America we know and love will be a thing of the past as we watch the rest of the world pass us right by.  

Alice Days Two and Three - More Complexity

It's day three of ten at the Alice Workshop.

Homework last night was challenging.  Learning to make characters do certain motions and trying to remember the commands were a stretch.  Here’s the video result.

Today, we’re into more fun stuff:
  • Making objects move like the dragon flapping his wings
  • Adding small animations and sounds like the fire he breathes
  • Including backgrounds to make the view more rich

I’m really loving this because of the levels of creativity, critical thinking, and logic that are required.  Can’t wait until we can make a game!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At the Alice Conference

This two weeks is very exciting for me!  I love technology and believe we need more of it in the homeschool community.  Sure, there are lots of online classes, but what I am referring to is computer science, not simply using the computer as a tool.

A friend of mine works in technology for the local school district and often sends me links to new tools the district gets access to.  I’m so happy she thinks of me and does that!  About six months ago, she sent me a link to a program called Alice.
Alice was developed by Carnegie Melon as a free tool to teach students 3D programming in a visual platform.  What is exciting about this is that Alice creates an environment where students can move code and see the results quickly and easily.  Much more inviting than the old text-based programming.

So, long story long, I got on an email list to learn more about Alice.  Instructors from around the world post to this list.  It so happens Duke University has a prof that not only teaches Alice to college students, but holds summer conferences for teachers at the middle and high school level.  She encouraged me to apply, and I was picked to go.  Thus, here I am!  So, what did we learn Day 1? 

Here’s the video of the outcome of our first program:

Here’s what the code looks like:

Very exciting!  Yes – you can teach your kids to do this too!

My plan is to bring this information back and teach homeschooled students Alice at our local co-op.  In addition, I’m going to post the lessons I develop to this blog so that all homeschooled parents have the opportunity to include Alice in their homeschool.

Interested?  Stay tuned!  I’ve got nine more days of classes and am excited to see and share the results!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme

Whether you want to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds or 100 pounds – it always helps to have support from those around you.  This meme is an opportunity for you to share your successes and setbacks with others hoping to slim down as well.   I wanted to start each week reviewing my goals and fixing any setbacks, thus “Slim Down Sunday”. 

I’ll post each Sunday.  Come on by to link up any time during the week, grab the button on the lefthand sidebar, and then visit and encourage the other ladies who link up.  Also, feel free to follow and post comments rather than linking up if you want the encouragement but prefer not to share your weight loss journey.
Goal – lose 20 pounds
Pounds lost – none to date, I just started
Approach to losing weight:
I have found that the best way for me to lose weight is to watch my fat and calories.  My goal is to drastically cut back on fats while also trying to watch my calories.
I’m fortunate to be at a workshop for the next two weeks.  That means I can eat healthy all I want without having to have my kids on board.  No – “Mom!  Yuck!  Vegetables…”  J
I know that physical fitness needs to play a role as well.  However, I hate to run!  So jogging is NOT in my future.  I’m thinking walking more.  There will be a lot of walking at this workshop.  Once it’s over, our neighborhood is a 1/2 mile circle, so one extra mile a day for starters in addition to TKD I already do twice a week will be the goal.

This is really day one, but I would say there have been a couple of successes already. 
1.  The hubby is on board and supportive.
2.  My BFF has agreed to be the angel on my shoulder guiding me towards success
3.  This blog.  Several of you wanted to join in.  A community makes a big difference in weight loss.

Obviously, none so far.  My sweet tooth will be a challenge.  I love me some sweets! 

I’m SO excited to have you all joining me.  It’s easy to give up when you’re the only one who knows the plan.  Much harder to do when others are keeping an eye on you and encouraging. 
I created a button located on the left sidebar if you want to add it to your blog.

Link up and then visit each other so we can all encourage and slim down.

I'm Losing 20 Pounds - Want to Join Me?

I’ve decided to lose twenty pounds.  My weight has always been a roller coaster.  In high school and through college, I was always on the high end of a good weight for my height.  (5’8”)  After my third child, I really got in shape.  Then, I got pregnant.   About five years ago, I went on a massive diet and managed to get down to skin and bones. I wanted to see what I looked like really skinny – not so great.

Once we started homeschooling, about three years ago, my life became more still.  We run a lot of places, but much of my time is spent sitting on my bum.  Between schooling, working online, blogging and my penchant for web surfing – I sit A LOT.
So, the hubby and I have decided to get in better shape. 

I LOVE to eat.  My kids and hubby love to eat.  The problem is the kids like kids food, and, for the most part, so does the hubby.  Add to that our hectic lifestyle, and we eat a lot of unhealthy foods.  Besides that – eating healthy is expensive!  We'll have to figure this part out.
But, that isn’t the total motivation – I am always tired and achy.  I wanna see if losing weight and getting more active changes that.

Anyone care to join me?  I thought about a blog hop.  Not a competition mind you, just a way to support each other as we get to our goal weight.  Leave me a comment if you're interested and we'll kick it off next week.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Youngest Turns 12!

Youngest turns 12 on Wednesday.  We celebrated today because I’ll be going out of town for a two week workshop.  I hate to miss his birthday, but he knows it is a big opportunity (more on that soon), so he’s graciously celebrated early.

After having a sleepover with friends (yawn!), we took him to his favorite restaurant – Sticky Fingers.  A big plate of cheese fries and chicken later we returned home for gifting.

Yes, the trashbag is a gift.  Some things just don't fit in a bag or are conducive to wrapping paper.

One of his requests for this birthday was a body pillow.  :-)  He got a cover for it as well.  Given his lack of sleepover sleep and a big day, that pillow is going to feel really good tonight!
His dad got him a gift card to the Apple Apps Store.  Youngest has been saving up since November to buy himself an IPod Touch.  He's wanted one badly for about three years.  He has saved about $120 dollars to date.  So, Dad got him the App card so he'd be ready to fill it with his favorites (Pocket God) when the purchase was made.

His last gift was fun for all of us.  Knowing how hard he'd saved, we thought the best thing to do was to reward his efforts by making up the difference.

Yep, the IPod Touch he'd been saving for.  I did use his money and let him know how proud we were of his saving.  That face is priceless!  Sissy is smiling for him in the background.  She's the one that showed him how it works and how to download from the Apps store.  A fun bonding time for both of them.  I may have to pry it out of his hands tonight.

I can't believe my "baby" is twelve.  He's been a blessing each and every day, I can't wait to see what the future holds for this amazingly creative young man.  :-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

High Green Belts! Woot!

The boys and I take Taekwondo together.  It's a great activity to keep us in shape, meet lots of amazing people, and learn discipline all while striving to become good at Taekwondo. 

Today, Middle and the Demo Team performed and then we tested for our high green belts.  This is our sixth belt!  Very exciting.  We've been so blessed with TKD - not only because of the physical aspects, but also the moral aspects taught daily.  At the end of each lesson, we recite the 10 Committments. 

1.  I will be loyal to my country
2.  I will honor my parents
3.  I will love my family and cooperate with them
4.  I will be faithful to my friends
5.  I will respect my elders and care for my juniors
6.  I will establish a positive relationship with my teachers
7.  I will treat all living things with care
8.  I will never seek advantage of those who are weaker
9.  I will only use Taekwondo to benefit myself and others
10.  I will always finish what I start

You can't get much better lessons than that!  What I love is that the instructors all embody these committments making it easy for the kids, and adults, to want to live up to them as well.

Middle Performing with the Demo Team

Middle Performing Self Defense
Three of us high blocking for testing

Middle and Youngest Testing
Middle and Youngest with Instructor O and their new belts.