Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Look Back On Our Summer (Yes I realize it's November tomorrow!)

A 36 degree, cool, brisk, October day seems like a perfectly reasonably time to talk about our past summer, right? Perhaps it will warm me up! :)

I live for summer every year. Maybe it's because summer around here is so short, or maybe it's because I truly love sunshine and warmth. Whatever the reason, I look forward to it each year.

This year however, was one of the strangest summers I can ever remember. After the longest and coldest winter I can ever remember, we were looking forward to summer more than normal. Sadly though, summer took the longest time ever to come and it didn't seem to last long enough.

Xiomara, Zoelle, & India (cousin)

We did however try and enjoy it to the full. In June, we had our annual parade that I love and look forward to each year. However most of June was rather cold, so that was a bit of a bummer.

In July, the heat finally came and we enjoyed the 4th, we celebrated Xiomara's third birthday, we went camping (and met new friends), we attended our county fair, and we swam as much as we could!

August brought about Chris' 30th birthday. Since I can never surprise him as he will find out, we decided to have a joint birthday party together (I'm not turning the big 3-0 until December, but shh, we aren't talking about that yet). The guys did their thing (which meant shooting at clay targets), the girls did our thing (which meant floating down the river on our tubes) and then we all met up for dinner at a local restaurant. Followed with ice cream at a local candy shop and lastly a big bonfire in our backyard. It was one of the best times I can remember with some of our greatest friends and family joining us for the whole day! Chris & I also celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a Bed & Breakfast getaway for a few days. I wrote more about 10 years of marriage, here.

This summer however also brought some challenges to our life. I'm not sure I'll ever fully blog about it, but there were some new stresses that were completely unexpected that came to us this year. Ones that took me by surprise and challenged my faith and trust in God more than I can remember in a long time. To be honest, some of these stresses are still here. I can't say I really like that, but then again, it's making me look at God differently and I literally have to wake up each morning knowing that He has everything in His hands and that I can't control it, no matter how much I want to. There is comfort in knowing that I'm not in charge, but also a bit of fear because somehow I feel like if I can control it, all will go well.

So combined with the weather of summer and these stresses, I can say I didn't enjoy it like I should have. Looking back, I'm really regretting that as I do love summer and it only lasts so long.

I suppose since I'm finishing writing this on the last day of October, I can catch you up on our Fall thus far. The highlight of my September was going to a Taylor Swift concert. I've loved Taylor for years and honestly feel like we could be best friends (you know if she wasn't famous). ;) She did not disappoint and bless my husband for putting up with 13 year old me once again!

October has been full of state park visits, pumpkin patch visits, and getting ready for winter. While I feel like fall hit way too soon, we did have a beautiful one.

Now, as I gear up for winter a sadness does come over me. I think part of the reason I don't like cold and winter is that for my life, it's always come with loss. I've lost some of the closest people in my life always in the fall or winter of my life. Both physically through death, and also emotionally through life changes. It brings a sadness over me each year as I think about it. I've also mentioned before that no sun, lots of snow, and cold, do not mix with me. I still don't know why I live where I live and if it wasn't for my husband, I would not be here. So as we all go into the winter season, would you mind saying a prayer for me or thinking good thoughts? I'd really appreciate it!

I hope you all enjoyed your summer and are currently enjoying fall! Catch me up on your lives in the comments below!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Calorease Review

Despite what you may think, I'm always very hesitant to hop on any weight loss bandwagon. For one, I don't want to be jumping from one weight loss product to another to another. For two, I'm still working on being satisfied with the way I am right now. However, I'm still a woman, and I'm human and I know that I do need to lose weight. My main goal in life is to be healthy in what I eat, drink, and also through exercise.

Recently Moms Meet offered me a chance to do a review on a product called Calorease. After doing some research on the product, I decided to give it a try.

Calorease is a stimulant-free and therefore heart-healthy diet aid to help manage weight. It has been shown to bind and eliminate up to 9 times its weight in dietary fat, reducing up to 500 calories a day from the fat in foods.

Here are some other facts on Calorease:

*It's easy to use! Simply take two tablets with a fat-containing meal three times a day.

*If taken as recommended, results can been seen in 2-3 weeks.

*It does not contain gluten, lactose, yeast, wheat, sugar, salt, eggs, soy, dairy, artificial colors, sweetners, or preservatives. It is naturally sourced from grain and is suitable for vegans.

*A 90-tablet pack retails for $29.99

*Calorease is not a license to overeat, nor is it a magic bullet for quick weight loss.

*Stay consistent for best results.

*If you are still needing more information, click here to watch this video on how exactly Calorease works.

So what was my experience with Calorease? Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, unless I set an alarm, I am very inconsistent with taking vitamins, pills, etc. of any kind. Consistancy is one of the things stated to help further weight loss. However, for the last two weeks I have been for the most part very good about remembering to take the pills with a meal. At the end of the two weeks, I am down 1.5 lbs. To me, this is a positive experience as so far, I have really struggled to even lose 1 lb. It is also worth noting that I had no negative side effects! I will continue on taking Calorease, along with starting a new exercise routine, an in general trying to up my vegetable/protein intake.

Interested in trying Calorease out for yourself? Go here and type in coupon code: 4MOMS for a 50% discount!

To keep up to date on Calorease and to learn more about them, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC, or the manufacturer of the product.

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Update From The Chicken Coop

It's been a long time since I did an update on our chickens. If you remember, we started out with eight chickens last summer. We wanted an even dozen, so we ended up getting four more. All throughout the winter, the girls kept laying for us. We got around eight eggs a day, which I considered awesome considering we had the coldest, longest, winter we have seen around here in years.

iPhone pic. Chickens following me on a walk!
Come spring, we had a new challenge in keeping Teal (our dog) away from our chickens. Last year, we let our chickens free range all year. They had four acres to roam, but mostly really liked hanging where we were at. In fact, my husband would always laugh if the girls and I went on a walk through our woods, the chickens would be following along right behind us. Since Teal is a brand new puppy (now 8 months old), we are working on training her. She is my husband's hunting dog and is trained to mainly pheasant hunt, or duck hunt. Thus creating a bit of a problem with our chickens. So we determined that this summer, while Teal is still in training, our goal is to leave them in a huge fenced in area until around 3 or 4 p.m. when they are once again allowed to roam free. It's not my ideal situation for them, and I'm hoping by next summer, we can have Teal so well trained, that it won't be a problem to have them out together.

Thanks to my CSA leftovers, scraps, and some kind neighbors who give us scraps from their garden to feed our chickens, our girls are well fed. This spring, we were getting some of the most beautiful eggs and an abundance of them.

iPhone pic. The chickens come right up to us! This is my personal favorite!
Then this summer we went camping (still have to blog about our summer). A friend has agreed to check on our chickens for us when we are out of town. On this particular camping trip, Teal was at a local dog kennel, so we told our chicken babysitter (Ha! That sounds super funny!) to just let the chickens free range from sun up to sun down. Well, three days in to our trip I got a text that said something like, "Hi Vanessa, has Chris gotten any of my texts or calls? Something terrible has happened." I frantically had Chris call her thinking maybe something had happened to our house. Thankfully, our house was fine, but our chickens not so much. Somehow, all but five survived an attack that we think must have been by a dog. I'm not going to lie, I was devastated! Not only were some of my favorite chickens as far as personality goes, killed, but these were my best layers. The girls too were so sad that all their chickens were gone. I promptly went on Facebook and Craigslist once home in order to get some more layers. Surprisingly, I found 10 more to get us to 15. The transition for them wasn't perfect though, and one refused to roost in the coop and would fly over the kennel. I didn't realize it one day, but she was out and I let Teal out and you can guess what happened. So much for trying to train her not to attack them. Another one got sick one day, laid down and never woke up. We still aren't sure what happened, but I'm grateful we didn't lose more.

However, our girls have pretty much stopped laying. I typically now get 3 or 5 eggs a day, but today got none. I know that the stress can cause a chicken to stop laying and I'm pretty sure that is what happened with many of our chickens, both old and new. Now though I'm wondering if some aren't molting? I often find lots of feathers in their coop and around the yard. Although my daughters and I do 99% of the chicken work around here, I really know very little about them and what to expect from them. So if anyone wants to tell me how long molting goes on for and if they will start laying again, I'd appreciate it! :)

iPhone pic. This one is my second favorite, although she isn't as friendly!

Oh, and before I finish the long post, you must know that my daughters (with the help of their dad), have decided to name of few of our chickens. Hop along Hope (because she has one bum foot), Oreo (because she is black & white), and Cheetos (because she is orange). We all have our favorites, and I'm really hoping they all start laying soon and that nothing more happens to them because somehow, we have all fallen in love with them.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What School Looks Like Around Here

With it being October, I figured it's finally time to blog about our school year. We are one month into our second official year of homeschooling.

Just because we homeschooled last year, did not mean that it was an easy decision for us to homeschool again this year. In fact this year, the decision became a lot harder because I not only have Zoelle to teach 1st grade to, but I also wanted to start Meridian & Xiomara in Preschool. On top of all that, I have a household to keep clean, laundry to fold and put away, and all the other households duties to keep up with. To say I was worried about it before we began, is an understatement. However, we firmly felt that this was the right thing to do for this year. I'll admit though that I'm already looking ahead to next year and knowing that most likely, unless things change, I won't be able to keep up. So this may potentially be our last year homeschooling. It's bittersweet for me to admit that, but I'm just not sure I can do it all.

As for this year, and homeschooling in specific, it is going very well. Zoelle is doing an excellent job and particularly loves math and reading. She also has a community choir she participates in, that she looks forward to going to each week.

Meridian is showing an interest in school this year (which is very different than last year where she showed no interest), so we are working through our curriculum which focuses on learning her letters and the letter sounds. She is showing more and more interest in learning to read, so perhaps she will do so this year.

Xiomara likes to sit and do "school" with Meridian. While she isn't as interested in school as Meridian, she does like to sing her abc's, count, "write", etc.

So overall, life has gotten a lot busier around here, but we are each learning to adjust our schedules and show grace to ourselves or one another in the process.

How is your school year going? Has it been a process of change, or has it gone smoothly for you so far?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Breathless Sunrise

Photo Credit: My hubby who took this while duck hunting