My Genius Grandbaby

“A genius is someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.”  (Wikipedia)

Son (spelling so as to not alert the little one of our plans):  “Mom, when are we leaving to go S-W-I-M-M-I-N-G?”

Two Year Old Grandbaby’s immediate response: “Gwamaw!  I wanna go SWIMMING!”

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Scaling Down

It is Day #3, Week #2 of our attempts at weight loss.  I am trying a new plan based upon an article I recently read.  It said that if you go at least 48 consecutive hours with no/almost none carbs, then it will spur a metabolic boost that will help lose weight later in the week.

The first week I tried this, all went well until Day #3 when I made a mad dash for the donut shop, effectively undoing the progress I had made.

This second week, however, I am more focused.  I made a concious effort to buy extra no carb foods so that I could experience some variety.  Based upon our weigh-in this week, I also implemented this same strategy for both of the boys.  We are all slightly overweight….not much, but slightly.  Having to go without carbs for two days has really been an eye opening experience.  We have all seen just exactly how awful our carb intake has been. “You don’t miss it, until you no longer have it”, right?!  Well, we definately missed the carbs, but at the same time are gaining a knowledge of what is healthy and what is not.

I’ve done a considerable amount of research over the last few days.  My question was, after the two days are done, then just how many carbs (and calories) are healthy for each one of us?  Thankfully, I now have a plan to monitor for myself and the boys during the rest of the week.  I will attempt to stay at 1200 calories/180 carbs per day.  Both of the boys will be at 1970 calories/295 carbs per day. 

Preliminary results are good!  Our weights this morning revealed a 1.5 lb loss for me, 3.3 lb loss for the youngest son, and 4.6 lb loss for the eldest son.  I’m so grateful that they were able to see results, and that their “suffering” paid off!  Ok, they really didn’t SUFFER……I just realize that finally they have experienced hunger pains for the first time in forever.  Prior to this plan, they basically wanted to eat every five minutes, it seemed.  I would justify giving additional snacks because they are “growing, energetic boys”.  However, what I realize now is that they were consuming too many calories and carbs. 

We’ve never had trouble with them eating vegetables…..it’s not that they wouldn’t eat a well balanced meal.  It is just that they also wanted two helpings of meat, Texas garlic toast, sugary cereal (for breakfast AND snacks), popcorn melting in butter, ice cream, and what WAS the occasional Dr Pepper was now a “3-4 times a week Dr Pepper”.  Add that to too many hours playing video games and being stuck in the house too long and we begin to see the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

I don’t want a weight issue to be with them into adulthood.  I want to claim a healthy body for myself as well.  So, this is the plan, at least for now and it’s working 🙂

One interesting thing to note is that normally my weight starts small(er) in the mornings and then fluctuates 1-2 pounds within the day, ending at a higher weight in the evenings.  This is typical, I think, for most people.  However, weighing in after lunch actually showed me 1/2 lb LESS than what I weighed this morning!  Hmmmm……maybe the metabolic boost thing is working?  (despite having 3 muffins, a piece of bread, and caramel rice cakes today)

Lastly, I wanted to share one very, very low carb treat we’ve found this week.  It’s refreshing, cold, and creamy so it’s likely to stay on the weekly menu for a while!

Orange Creamsicle Dream Dessert Drink

8 oz diet orange soda

2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1 cup of ice cubes

Mix it all in a blender and enjoy!  It makes one serving, so just add what you need to multiply according to the number of people you will be serving.  The drink’s texture is a little bit weird as the cream does not mix with the ice like most sugar laden smoothies.  However, we ate the chunks with a spoon and then when the ice broke down enough to liquify, it became a really cold wonderful creamsicle drink!

We’re having pork chops tonight…..AND summer squash……AND mashed potatoes!  I only get 1/2 a cup of potatoes so you can bet I will be slowly enjoying every bite!

Nutrition Info:  103.5 Calories, 11.1 g Fat, 0.8 g Carbohydrates, 0.6g Protein

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Swallow Saved

As I recently wrote about, we have been babysitting a family of swallows.  If you’ve followed this blog lately, you already know that one was killed by ants, and two were swallowed by a snake.  Thankfully one naturally matured to fly from our make-shift nest.  The last of the five babies, however, just needed some extra care.

As the days went on, it became obvious of an injury to one of its’ wings…perhaps after it fell the long way from the nest to our front porch?  Day after day we watched the parent birds fly in with meals, and then stall in a nearby area flapping their wings and calling to the baby.  O ver and over they would repeat this process encouraging the little one to join the flightful paradise.

The baby would call back, jump up to the highest point of the crate and then jump, only to land on the ground unable to achieve the goal.  It would stretch its’ wings; first the right one….all the way out, then the left one….only from the elbow to the shoulder.  Yes, we knew it was much more this bird needed than we could provide.

Even its’ sibling bird would come back to the crate, snuggling up to the injured bird as if to provide the personal love and attention it might need to fly.

Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center welcomed the baby bird.  The owner said it had a broken wrist but would most likely heal.  She swiftly wrapped its’ wing with such precision and exactness, we knew it was in good hands. 

 

When we first arrived there, we noticed how busy the facility was.  It is spring, and as you can imagine, they were just filled with birds needing help.  One look on the worker’s faces said it all.

Secondly, we were asked to make a donation to the center.  With so many birds to take care of, and no regular funding other than from the public, I would imagine there is a constant need for financial help.  Feeding and caring for what must be hundreds, if not a thousand or so birds has got to take alot of people, food, water, and supplies.  We hope to return with a donation, and continue looking for ways to help.  If you would like to help, please consider making a donation through their website here

We were also invited to walk around the facility.  There we found some amazing winged creatures that seemed very grateful for the care they were getting.

We think of our feathered friend often, wondering if he’s feeling ok and how his wing is healing.  It’s been a great experience for the boys.  This is what makes homeschooling fun!

 

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Creation, Family, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life

Please don’t make me eat another egg!

Recently I read an article that said if you severely limit your carb intake (little to none) for 48 hours straight, then it will cause a metabolic boost that will help loose weight the rest of the week.

This seemed like a workable plan for me.  I figured two days without bread, sugar and starch would be better than what I had been doing, so there could only be a healthy consequence by trying this plan.

Last week was Week #1.  My two carb-less days went ok, however, by day #3 I was seriously starving.  We celebrated the accomplishment with a trip to the donut shop…..sigh.

Realizing that my Overly-carb’d Day #3 absolutely busted any progress I had made with Day #1 and #2, I remained determined to keep trying this plan.

Today is Day #1, Week #2.  So far, we have had watermelon for breakfast, and a grilled chicken/avocado salad for lunch (no dressing).  Tonight I plan on making an egg omelet.  It’s not a perfect no carb day, but  very close.

Tomorrow, what will be have to look forward to?  Eggs, meat, some veggies.  I will admit I’m not very excited at eating the same thing again.  I like variety.  There’s not many foods that I don’t like, and so I want to eat them all!  (thus, my growing weight problem) 

Do any of you have any no/very very low carb recipes?  I’m also looking for an internet link to a simple fruit/veggie list and each one’s carb counts.   I sure could use some ideas to keep this going!

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Filed under Health, Life, Recipes

What’s Cookin’?

I’m still going through mounds of recipes collected but never tried.  Probably somewhere within the pile are the directions for making twenty different variations of blueberry muffins.  There’s cheesecakes, savory favorites, side dishes, and of course a thousand different kinds of breads.  Why do I always  collect the recipes, but never actually cook them?!  As a result, my self-commanded challenge this year is to cook my way through all of them.  

If the prepared recipe makes the grade, it will be included in my “Best of the Best” recipe collection and handed down to my kids.  One thing we have learned as a family is that when Grandpa was cooking his “fabtabulous” homemade biscuits, we all should have written down the recipe.  Now that he is gone, many of us lament about not having the tasty legacy to pass on. 

Hopefully, with all our favorite family foods in one book, my kids and grandkids will remember how much I love them!

Here are some recent tries that didn’t make the “A+++” grade.  They were good, but just not good enough!

Chicken Marsala (with not much chicken!)

Breakfast Pizza (the picture is green…the food was not 🙂

Lime Cilantro Pork Chops

 

Like I said, these were all good, but not the “Wow” factor our Family Cookbook requires. 

Two tasty treats that DO warrant saving are:

  Coconut Cream Pie

The crust is not homemade, but that doesn’t matter….the filling and meringue definately make up for it!  Also, this is the first time I’ve been able to use my new Kitchen Aid mixer for meringue, and it did not disappoint.  Never has mixing been so much fun and so easy!  Thank you again, my sweet and thoughtful husband, for making Valentine’s Day really special this year!

Coconut Cream Meringue Pie

2/3 c sugar, 1/4 c cornstarch, 1/4 t salt, 2 cups milk, 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten, 1 cup flaked coconut, 2 T butter or margarine, 1/2 t vanilla extract

Meringue:  3 egg whites, 6 T sugar, 1/4 t cream of tartar, 1 9″ baked pie crust, 1/2 c flaked coconut

For filling:  In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Gradually stir in milk until smooth.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Gradually stir 1 cup hot filling into egg yolks.  Return all to the pan, stirring constantly.  Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat; stir in chopped coconut, butter and vanilla until butter is melted.  

For meringue, in a mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar, beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time on high until stiff peaks form.  Pour filling into crust, spread with meringue sealing edges to crust.  Sprinkle with coconut.  Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. 

Also, this Quick Chicken Parmesan really makes the mouth water! 

Quick Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 egg

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, pressed

1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained

1/3 cup pitted ripe olives, cut in half

Place each chicken breast between 2 pieces of Parchment Paper.  Flatten chicken to at least 1/4 inch thickness.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper in a bow.  In another bowl, lightly beat egg.  Dip chicken breasts in egg; coat with bread crumb mixture.  Sprinkle with any remaining bread crumbs, and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet until hot.  Add chicken breasts; cook 3-5 minutes per side or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.  Remove chicken breasts from skillet; keep warm in oven.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in skillet.  Press garlic into skillet.  Add bell pepper; cook and stir until pepper is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and olives; stir.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Serve tomato sauce over chicken.  We also paired it with fettucini  and alfredo sauce which made for a very filling and scrumptious meal!

So…..that’s a little of what’s been cookin’ around here.  What’s going on in your kitchen?  Got any great recipes to share?  (No wait!  I’m not supposed to read any more recipes until I finish cooking through what I’ve got!  Ugh….I’m a recipe-aholic I think!  Somebody help me 😉

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Filed under Family, Family Traditions, God, Life, Recipes, Resolutions

Swallows Swallowed

I love how God uses real life lessons to support our homeschooling endeavors!  Countless times, He brings people or situations into our lives just during or after we have studied them.  What an opportunity to take our head knowledge and put it to practical use!

One such opportunity recently fell (literally) onto our own front porch …

Walking out the door one day, I looked down and noticed a baby bird had fallen out of the nest on our front porch.  We have been watching these birds since before their eggs were hatched. 

Day after day, the parents carefully built the nest, laid the eggs, and then patiently sat waiting for their big arrivals.

The nest was well located, approximately 12(‘sh) feet above our front door securely attached to the brick wall.  Even with our highest ladder, we could not reach the nest, and felt therefore that no other predator could either.

On this day, however, we found the newly born bird laying on the porch and covered in ants.  It was a sad day.  We have spent the last several months studying birds, their behavior and reproduction and now with the opportunity to see it all up close, this poor little baby lay as a feast to the relentless jaws of Texas ants.

Cleaning and spraying for ants (again), we remained hopeful that the rest of the birds would stay put in their snug abode.

The next day, however, we noticed yet another baby bird fledged too early and was sitting on the porch. 

Then, yet again, a third bird found its way there too.

Quickly, we rescued them from the ants, placing inside a small dog carrier, and determined to do what we could to save their lives.

For the next couple of days we noticed their frailty.  We contacted both the local Audobon Center and a Wildlife Rescue facility for information.  We fed them with a dropper and kept them indoors at night, but outdoors in full view by their parents during the day.

The third day, we noticed a marked improvement in their health and rejoiced over how much attention their parents were giving inside the opened crate.

Remaining in the nest were two more babies, so the parents flew back and forth between the crate, now on a chair on the porch, and the nest high above the door.

As the boys and I continued to monitor the babies in both places, I opened the door, noted the babies in the crate, then peered up only to be shocked and surprised and definately very, very frightened!  This was the sight I saw…

Let me just point out here that I. DON’T. DO. SNAKES!  If a snake wants this house, it is more than welcome to HAVE IT!  I will gladly take my purse, laptop, kids, and keys and leave the perimeter for as long as a snake wants to inhabit the premises!  So, as you can imagine, I was pretty much FREAKED out at this point!  

My boys, on the other hand, thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

We called the city who transferred the call to the county, who promptly responded by sending a police man to save the day.  Praise the Lord for policemen and women who protect our country from drugs, murderers, evil-doers, and SNAKES!

He knocked down the nest, snake and all, and promptly cut it into several pieces.

We could see the bulge of each of the two remaining baby birds inside the snake’s stomach.  Poor babies 😦

(…and of course, my boys had to squeeze the birds out of the snake…yuck!)

By the way……I noticed how disgusting the smell of the snake was within just a few minutes of dying.  Gurrose!

Once things calmed down and the snake was gone, we began to turn our attention once again to the two birds in the crate.  Those poor parents who had so faithfully cared for their children were sitting on the roof tops mourning the deaths of now three of five birds. 

Even more so, the boys and I remained determined to save these birds.

It’s been several days since the snake incident.  We were rewarded with seeing one of the baby birds fly from its nest crate.  The second bird has a problem with one of its wings so we continue to closely watch over it.  Three or four times it has made it to the top of the crate and jumped off, however that wing just won’t work correctly.  We are thinking it might have possibly been hurt in the fall from the nest.

Until it is ready for flight, we continue this up close and practical application of our new-found Ornithology wisdom.   I never knew bird watching was so rewarding and fun!

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Filed under Children, Creation, Death, God, Gross, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life

Our Best and Worst

Homeschooling is a journey.  We have homeschooled for five years now and along the way made discoveries that pave our path.  Certain curriculum, certain schedules, certain processes….all these have brought us to the place we are now.  Constantly on the look out for ways to improve our boys’ education, I’m not afraid to make changes that would increase their learning potential and the effectiveness of our day.

One thing that stands without a doubt as a most effective, convenient, and frugal educational tool is use of the internet and technology.  Many times we are able to enhance our studies at the computer.  The wealth of information available far exceeds what one book might provide.  Our basic studies are dictated by the book’s outline,but more in-depth and relative information is gained through use of the internet.

That said, our worst enemy is also technology.  As soon as they rise in the morning, the first place our boys want to gravitate to is the computer, or the Wii, or the DS, or even the Kindle.  To start school each morning, I often have to pry them off of the laptop.  Sometimes, they try to wake up early and sneak to be the first to get it.  I’ve even resorted to asking Dad to hide his laptop so that they won’t know where it is!  (and I’ve hidden the Wii controllers too!)

This goes on for a while but then we seem to go back to the lackadaisical ways of leaving it all out and accessible again. 

It’s a constant battle to patrol and protect.  Safety and protection remains a top priority when it comes to children using the computer so we have to stay diligent in overseeing the sites they visit and the things they see.

Having these things available makes it hard to start our school day and also makes it less likely they will want to play with their toys or outside. 

Having these things available, however, brings our lessons to life, adds excitement and activities, and provides resources to supplement and challenge both of them.  

“It’s as easy as restricted use”, you say? 

“Give them so many minutes of use a day”, you say?

I wish it were that easy!  At their age, and because we are always here around the technology, they seem to be able to boot it up and get a game going faster than I can notice!  Sometimes, while I am taking a moment to put in a load of laundry or take a shower, they summon the Wii forces before I can get back into the room.  Once the controllers are  in their hand, it can get U.G.L.Y. just to get them off and refocused!  If only I could rig something that would electrically zap their hand if they touch it when they shouldn’t! 😉

We will likely never take drastic steps to remove it all, but acknowledge a growing need to achieve a balance with the technological resources in our household.  More time outside and more time building Legos rather than them even wanting to be playing video games.  Is there such a thing in America today?!

Technology…it’s our best friend and our worst enemy.

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