Monday, September 30, 2013

Back 2 Schoolin

I cannot believe I've been homeschooling for 3 1/2 years! Time has surely flown by! Brady is now a big 3rd grader & my sweet Rylan is a kindergartener! 

This year we using My Father's World as our core (Brady is doing Adventures & Ry is doing K). Both boys are also using Horizon's math & Brady is doing their spelling & vocabulary program while Rylan is using Hooked On Phonics for reading. He was super proud of himself for reading his 1st story!

The night before our 1st day I decorated with balloons & streamers & made the boys' favorite muffins! They were elated the next morning when they woke up! It made our 1st day to a new year extra special!

I like to mix the boys' curriculum so they can do as many fun activities together as possible. Rylan's began with Creation & each day they decorated the number of the day that matched what God had created. Their work turned out extremely cute!
After Creation, each following week focuses on a letter with a certain theme. So far we've done S-sun, M-moon, L-leaf, & A-apple. Brady's curriculum also focused on space so I made sure to line it up with the weeks Ry did sun & moon. I made moon dough for sensory play & checked out a space kit from the resource center. They did not want the space unit to end so I extended it a week longer & just reviewed Rylan on all the letters of the alphabet, but focused on the sounds he's been practicing in Speech Therapy.

During our leaf week we didn't do too many activities because I like to save them for our Fall theme we do each October. The little boys did make fall trees using their arm & hands for the trunk & branches & then used Do-A-Dot markers for the leaves.

At the end of our apple theme we bought 6 kinds of apples: kiku, red delicious, golden delicious, honey crisp, Granny Smith & gala. The boys observed the color of the apple 1st, smelled it, then tasted it & then decided if the apple was hard or soft, & sweet, sour, or plain. Their favorites were the honey crisp & the kiku.

In Adventures we studied about Vikings & it was one of my favorite days! They colored Viking masks & once they had them on they were in full character!!! I was in tears from laughing at them! 

Lately we've been learning about early American pioneers & Native Americans. I'll post those pics the next time I update.

I often get asked what I do with Keller while the big boys do school. Most of the time he plays on his own or he sits at the table with them coloring or playing with learning toys. There are times where I'll work one on one with him on counting, colors, or shapes, but it's always done through play. There are days when I'll put on an educational show for him or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. :) A momma's gotta do what a momma' gotta do!

Here he is "helping" Rylan paste!

Everyday is different, no set schedule, but a pretty solid routine. With nursing Chapel, some days simply have to follow her lead...well, her nap times :). Here's a cute pic I captured of all 4 blessings at the table.

I really am thankful The Lord has called me to this! Even on the days my patience is thin, they're wild, & I've had little sleep, being with them is still a blessing I try not to take for granted. My purpose each day is to love them, serve them, teach them & enjoy them!

Have a blessed week friends!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Field Trip-Ag Museum

It's was such a beautiful morning & the perfect way to kick off the beginning of fall! The sun was out, the temperature was in the low 70s, & we were surrounded by our sweet homeschool friends! 
We kicked things off with a train ride to scope out the scene. The Agriculture Museum is like going back in time! All the old buildings & materials are so much fun to look at & make you even more happy you for modern conveniences!! If you're ever in MS I highly recommend checking it out, especially in October or November when they have the cotton gin & saw mill going! During that time they also have a blacksmith working & free, yummy biscuits with syrup! 

After walking around we stopped at the old General Store for a break complete with glass bottled cokes & roasted, salted pecans. They were incredibly delicious! The kiddos enjoyed playing checkers with the bottle caps on the porch...though I don't think they really knew what they were doing! 

The petting zoo ignited my boys desire for country living! Every animal we saw they asked if they could get one when we moved! Not sure how their daddy will feel about that! Ha! If you look at the cow in the pic in the top left you'll notice him nuzzling the horse. He was the only cow amongst about 4-5 horses & he kept kissing & licking them! He even tried to mount a pony! Thankfully the kids didn't notice so we didn't have to explain anything. Us moms, however, had a great laugh!

The kids were amazed that cars used to not have seat belts & that the back door opened the opposite way. One of our little  friends even asked where the DVD player was! :)

My boys' favorite part was the train room! There were a TON of motorized trains & models of small towns. They were mesmerized by it all! Brady begged for a room like that, but I had to explain that room was bigger than our house!! They were even more thrilled when they found a little Thomas train zooming back & forth!

Sweet Chapel just hung out in the carrier I was wearing & napped most of the time. She is such a good baby!!!

Below is a picture of my sweet Rylan & his BFF Thomas.

Somewhere I have a picture of myself in this same, giant rocking chair when I was about 12 or so.

We had such a fun time! I almost talked myself out of not going because I was super sleepy that morning & this was my first major outing with all four kiddos without my awesome Mr. Thankfully they were well behaved & our homeschool group is fabulous! We all look out for each others' kids like they all belong to us. 

Have a blessed day sweet readers!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fail To Plan...

You know the rest...plan to fail. Too too true!

Last weekend we had a homeschool cookout & a big church luncheon & I bypassed all the junk & not so good for me stuff & stuck to clean items as closely as possible! I was SO proud of myself. Because we were gone all weekend I didn't meal prep or plan. Monday wasn't bad, I had just enough food from the week before to eat clean, but Tuesday was a different story. 

I had the healthy food, but never got around to prepping it which is crucial for on the go, last minute plans. All that hit Tuesday.

Rylan had his 5 year old check up (which went great!) & then my dear husband was able to work me in to get my back treated. He does Myofascial Release which helps with pain management of all sorts of things from migraines, fibromyalgia, TMJ, scar tissue pain, etc etc etc. By the time he was done we decided to hang around until he was done so we could drive out to Good Hope (see last post). 

By then I was STARVING!!! I was way under my calories especially or breastfeeding & the ONLY thing to et was ice cream! Seriously! So I chose to eat a small portion & guzzled water. The week continued to be abnormal as did my eating. Thankfully when I weighed I still managed to lose 2 pounds!! Normally I would feel guilty about messing up & I would then binge, but not this time. No guilt. I realize where I went wrong & now I'm more prepared to hit the ground running & finish what I started! 

I'm super happy that Chapel turns 12 weeks on Tuesday & can FINALLY go to the childcare at our gym!! Hopefully breastfeeding won't interrupt my favorite classes! Please continue praying for me in this! My goal to be fit & healthy is one I'm determined to achieve! Have a super blessed week!! I'll be checking in again soon! I'm LOVING having blogger on my iPhone!! :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Hope

 I'm so amazed at how much The Lord has changed me over my life! When I was in high school & college my dream was to live in New York City or some other big city & work for a magazine or in publicity. As I gave my life The Lord & began to grow in Him, He slowly began to change those desires. I was content to marry Brad & raise our family in a suburb of Jackson, MS. I had no idea at the time how our thoughts toward our family would change.

We went from wanting 3, maybe 4 kids to now being completely open to many more. We won't even put a number on it! Totally letting God guide us in this, whether biological or adopted, our hearts are open for more. 

My thoughts where we would live have also changed greatly! For the last two years I've had a longing to live where we have a lil more space. I do not desire the subdivision lifestyle any longer! It basically started wanting a bigger backyard for our boys to run in, to needing space to grow some vegetables, to needing a lil more space to have a small chicken coop, to finally realizing I just want to live in the country!! 

This never seemed like a real option because of where my husband's job was located. He had no desire to drive an hour to & from work. Well wouldn't you know his company moved to a different town! At first I wasn't happy because it made his drive longer from where we live now. Little did I know how things were beginning to change.

About a month ago we spent the weekend with my daddy out in the country & had such a great time! The big boys had fallen in love with fishing! My daddy's house is pretty much a mini-vacation for us! Between the pond, the horses, a swimming pool, & the gorgeous view of the country, we never want to leave! My daddy is also 71, but you wouldn't know it by how he acts! That weekend I realized how badly I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible & how much more I wanted my kids to spend time with him.

Then this past Sunday we spent the day at my in laws who also live out in the country. We had the best time! We always have a good time, but something was just different. I enjoyed watching our kids play with their cousins, my sister in law loving on Chapel & me getting a lil break :)! We sat outside under a big tree talking about this, that, & the other. Brad took all the kids out in the pasture on the four-wheeler, they all rode bikes, & played all sorts of things together letting their imaginations guide them. My heart longed more for country life. A simple life.

I woke up the next day praying, seeking God & He revealed to me that our family land in a community called Good Hope wasn't that far from Brad's job. So I did what any woman in 2013 would do, I mapped it in my iPhone! Sure enough it wasn't far at all! When I brought this up to Brad he was hesitant. If we moved "way" out there where would we go to church? 

This is very logical because all the churches around are still very traditional Baptist churches & we no longer worship that way, nor do we want our kids not to understand some of the things regarding the Holy Spirit that these churches don't really teach. After praying & asking a few friends to pray The Lord showed us He could use us in this area to change the mindset of this tradition. He also revealed to us another family who believes like we do who also has a desire to do something in this area. Things were lining up.

Yesterday when Brad got off work we drove from his new location to Good Hope to see exactly how far it was. Not too far after all!! We walked around on the land imagining where we could build a house & explored the beautiful acreage with the boys. They had a blast!

 We saw a fox & a rabbit & heard deer back in the trees. Brad's eyes lit up with the thought they could deer hunt in our own back yard if we lived out there. As we prepared to leave Brad's uncle & family stopped to talk to us. They saw us as they passed by to the house they're building just down the road! I was shocked at how close it was! 

Moving to Good Hope will not only give us the country life I desire, but it also puts us closer to where my daddy & Brad's family lives! It's far enough away to be peaceful, yet not too far from a Walmart or the mall! It's perfect in my mind!

So now we begin the process of what it will take to make this our reality & not just a dream. I ask that you please pray with us on this. Above all else, we want to do what The Lord wants us to do!

We have Good Hope in Him!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 Day Cleanse Results

When it comes to my journey to get fit & healthier I HAVE to constantly quote this verse! I struggle with patience especially when it comes to the number I see on the scale. 

I just finished a 10 day cleanse as part of my Advocare 24 Day Challenge & though I didn't lose ANY weight, I did lose 8 inches over all, especially in my post baby pooch! 

For my goal of 30 miles in September I've ran 5.5 miles & walked 10.5 miles (not including the miles I've logged on the elliptical).  I've eaten clean & haven't given into temptation, no sugar, no processed foods. 

You can see exactly what I've been eating on My Fitness Pal (MommaAsh). If you have any questions you an ask below in comments or email me at ashleysigrest @ hotmail dot com.

Here's to the next 2 weeks! #challenge4BFmoms 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Meal Preppin Newbie

Sitting down to eat during the day is a rare treat for me most days with 4 kiddos. Homeschooling 3rd grade & Kindergarten, potty training a toddler & breast feeding a 2 month old, plus regular house stuff & errands doesn't leave much time for me during the day. Last week I actually ate my oatmeal out of the pot at the stove while I cleaned the kitchen!

Thank goodness I'm learning to meal prep! 

My sweet husband grilled up some chicken for me Saturday while I washed & prepped any fruits & veggies I'd be eating this week & boiled 18 eggs! Yep 18! What can I say I love them! Plus my 8 year old likes to sneak them!

In the crockpot I added baby carrots, zucchini, squash, & topped them with chicken, onions, & red & green bell peppers. I plan to eat this with a serving of brown rice or quinoa.

I cooked some spaghetti sauce with ground chicken breast (got it on sale!!) to eat with spaghetti squash. I've NEVER tried it before so here's to hoping I like it!

Since I stay home I don't have to pack my food to take with me, but after this week I'll see if I need to pack individual servings to help me get to the table to eat :)

Blessed eating my friends!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Clean Eating Is Messing With My Head

As I mentioned in my last post I've tried MANY diets! With each of those diets you're told to eat less. So I'd make a grocery run to get "healthy" foods, you know, low calorie, sugar free, low fat processed stuff similar to the indulgent stuff I liked, but "healthy."

If you could see my face you would've seen me roll my eyes while I typed that last sentence!!!

As I would eat those items along with fresh produce & lean meats, I was still trying my best to stay at my calorie goal or under. I often would get so frustrated because I was near my calorie budget & I would still be HUNGRY!!! I would get so frustrated & let down & eventually fell off the diet bandwagon! I like to eat! Forget that; I LOVE to eat!!! (Obviously)

So now that I've started the 24 Day Challenge I'm required to eat clean. Nothing processed, no sugar, no dairy. The only processed things I eat/drink are protein shakes & Advocare's meal replacement shake, Spark, & Rehydrate. Everything else is lean meat or eggs, lots of veggies, lots of fruits, super carbs like steel cut oats, natural organic oatmeal etc. Now that I'm logging my calories my mind is boggled! I'm eating TONS & TONS of food & yet I'm ALWAYS under my calorie goal. ALWAYS! Some days even though I'm full I'll drink an extra protein shake with almond milk just get MORE calories!

Pure craziness I tell ya!! CRAY to the CRAY!!! I've NEVER tried to eat MORE calories!!!

The last few days I was a little panicked because I'm breast feeding & was worried my supply would drop, but it's been perfectly fine! Praise Jesus!!! To add more calories I started adding flax seeds to my oatmeal/steel cut oats & on top of my salads. Flax seeds are super good for you too so that's just an added bonus!

Today is day 6 of the challenge & so far my cravings have been minimal! I think because I'm constantly eating & feeding my body good things! I haven't had coffee since its not recommended, & if you don't know me, we'll let me tell ya, that right there proves Spark is the bomb dot com!!! I'm a self proclaimed coffee addict! Everyone has been posting their pics of their 1st Pumpkin Spiced Latte of the year & I have been jealous! I don't crave coffee, but I definitely miss drinking it! I haven't had any headaches & have had  enough energy to keep up with my four beautiful kiddos & work out! Yes! I said AND work out! Since starting the challenge I've worked out 5 of the 6 days & have ran 3 of the #30milesinSept & will add another this evening!

I feel great physically, but mentally my body & food issues are still waging a war! I keep expecting to see this tremendous weight loss on the scale, but I have to remind myself it's only been less than a week! My goal is at the end, not in the beginning! Which brings me to one of my life verses: Ecclesiates 7:8 FINISHING is better than starting; patience is better than pride!

To help me fight the mental & spiritual side I've been reading a devotional from the YouVersion bible app called Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. The Lord has definitely spoken to me through it! When I struggle running I begin quoting Scriptures aloud & sometimes while I'm gasping for air just huffing & puffing out "JESUS!" Without Him none of this would matter!

After I complete the Cleanse phase of the Challenge I may post my results so far. That will all depend on what The Lord says when I get there :)

If you have My Fitness Pal feel free to add me! MommaAsh

I pray you all have a blessed weekend!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Food Issues, Advocare, September Goals

For as long as I can remember I've had issues with food & my body. It's a battle I've fought on and off for the majority of my life. I've done every fad diet I can think of! Weight Watchers, Plexus Slim, Nutrisystem, Visalus; I've gone to extremes of starving myself to taking laxatives. I've signed up for First Place For Health at my church a few times, but my issue isn't knowing how or what to do, it's doing it & dealing with the spiritual, emotional, & mental issues I have with food & within myself.

Food is a drug for me. I'm a total over-eater, binging to the point of throwing up because my body could not physically hold the food I ingested. I didn't even have to try to make myself vomit, my body did it on its own because that's how much I'd binge. A sick cycle of yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, failure to be active, & failure to deal with the root of my issues.

During a First Place bible study I became aware for the first time that these issues were very much a spiritual battle, but I didn't know how to deal with them that way. Thankfully a few years ago a fabulous lady at my church taught me about spiritual warfare.The Lord had already healed of my abortion & the things I carried because of it, so I knew He could do the same with this. But here's the kicker, I expected Him to do it without much effort from me. Galatians 4 lists the fruits of the spirit, the last one being self-control, the hardest one (aside from patience) for me to do. My issues with food were never going to be healed if I didn't practice self-control.

Now I've dealt with weight loss/health stuff for so long I can tell anyone what they should do to succeed. It's never been a lack of knowledge for me, but rather doing it. 1 Corinthians 6:19 gives me my greatest reason for dealing with it, my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine walking into Solomon's temple in the Old Testament full of gold, completely lavished with the best things, rich & succulent! Yet on this side of the Cross, God doesn't dwell in one spot, He lives in us! I have NO business treating His temple so poorly! 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 also says that my body is not my own, I've been bought with a high price. Jesus gave His life for each of us. As a believer I fully understand the links He went to for me. Scripture also teaches us that we honor God with our bodies. Not just by keeping ourselves sexually pure, but in all ways. Our temples should be as radiant as Solomon's.

About 6 months ago I was seeking The Lord on these particular issues searching for the root of my issues. He showed me I used food as a drug to deal with emotional issues. As a child my parents owned a restaurant so anything I wanted to eat I could have. My parents had a horrible relationship & I would use food to help me cope. Once they divorced I lived with my mom & we became very poor. The food we had was completely unhealthy, but there were seasons I wasn't sure how much food we would actually have so when it was in abundance I ate & ate. My family on both sides also deals with a generational sin of addiction. While some family struggled with alcoholism, drugs, & gambling, myself & others were addicted to food. It's our drug of choice. It's hard for most people to understand this because we have to have food to survive. In their minds you just stop eating, but it isn't that easy. We crave food to fill a void, to get a "high" in the same manner a crack addict craves crack.

After The Lord revealed my root issues I began seeking Him on how to deal with them in a healthy way. The diet programs I've tried before aren't bad, but they didn't help me they way I needed. For over 10 years my husband & I have taken vitamins from Advocare. I even tried some products way back when to lose weight. But like all the other "diets" I was relying on the products to magically make me skinny. I wasn't all concerned about being healthy or having to do any real work. The Lord led me to a blog by a precious Christian woman named Danielle. It is FULL of great advice on healthy living & how Advocare products help aid in that. Reading many of her posts felt like the clouds parted & light shone down from heaven & angels started singing!

At this time I was 6 months pregnant & exchanged my prenatal for vitamins from Advocare (Coreplex with Iron & Omegaplex). Slowly I began changing my eating habits, walking when I could, learning about other products & continuing seeking God. I am now 2 months post pardom  & have seriously made efforts to be healthy, not skinny! After I had my sweet girl I would walk as often as I could, which was pretty slow since I had my FOURTH c-section! But it was movement! I began drinking protein shakes with almond milk to get healthy calories added that I needed for breast feeding. Once my 6 week check up came & my doctor gave me thumbs up to really exercise I decided I wasn't going to use any excuses to get healthy! One of my greatest motivations is my daughter Chapel. I don't want her to grow up watching me struggle with this battle & then having these same issues that I passed down! I've got to do this for both of us!

Since that check up I've added Spark, Catalyst, Probiotic Restore Ultra, Rehydrate, & Calcium Plus to the Advocare products I take. I feel so much healthier! I haven't had a carbonated drink in over a month! I naturally crave water & crave healthier food options! Now I won't lie, there are moments when I will still crave junk, either I'll allow myself some (moderation!) or I'll pray & ask Jesus to remove it or help me fight the urge.

I'm as busy as ever! A husband, 4 kids ranging from 2 months to 8 years, homeschooling, time is shot! I REFUSE to continue to use time as an excuse to not workout. Even if its just walking with my family while the big boys ride their bikes it's still MOVING! My husband is very encouraging & supportive in helping me make time to go to the gym! I couldn't do this without him! Since August 14 at my doctor's appointment I've lost 5 lbs & 10 inches! In only 2 1/2 weeks!!! Not only that but I ran (jogged, I'm slow) my 1st MILE in about 2 YEARS!!! Did I mention I just had a baby 2 MONTHS ago!???!! It may have been a slow mile, but it was still a mile! I was completely calling on Jesus & quoting Scripture during it!

Today I'm beginning the Advocare 24 Day Challenge for Breast Feeding Moms. My other healthy goal for September is to run 30 miles this month. I'll be updating through Instagram (MommaAsh, #24daychallenge #Challenge4BFmoms or #30milesinSept ) I hope I'll be able to keep blogging as well (but you know I'm busy busy!).

If you have any questions about Advocare please feel free to email me at ashleysigrest @ hotmail dotcom. I'd be happy to help you!! Listed below are some other blogs that have helped motivate & encourage me with my Advocare journey...check them out!! 
Nikki has helped me tremendously by answering so many questions I've emailed her!