The Juggling Act: Working, Dieting and Exercising

To follow up on my previous post about the most neglected aspects of being a mom, I want now shift the spotlight to juggling the aspects once the neglect is overcome.

What do I think about the juggling act of activities in a woman’s daily life? Some women may think it’s a work of fiction, but I think otherwise. As human beings, it’s embedded in our nature that we find excuses for the things that we think we don’t have time for; just like diet and exercise. It became particularly hard to excuse after I started breastfeeding. My nipples were sore and the bras I was buying to counter the issue were not working. I ended up attempting to hunt down the best bottles for breastfeeding and this freed me up for more exercise time.

Fitness

When pregnant, it’s really about finding the right kinds of food to eat and keeping everything that I put in my mouth in moderation, especially since I breastfeed my child. During these days, I get to eat my favourite food guilt-free!

When I get the writer’s block in the middle of work, I often take a break and use the time to work out instead. Did you know that Youtube is a great source to find free workouts? I find myself saving the ones that I want to do next. Oh yes, this can become very addictive especially since it allows me to be the boss of my own time. My favorite ones are the ones that I can do right at the convenience of my very own home. Using weights can really help, too, since they’re inexpensive and help build and tone muscles. I’m not really conscious about the numbers. Just as long as I’m fit and healthy, I’m happy with myself.

The Most Neglected Aspect of Being a Mom

lovehandleBeing a mother for the first time is really exciting. Taking care of another human being can be really challenging at times, but it’s fun! However, you devote so much time to your newborn that you don’t have much time for yourself. Or if you do, you’d rather spend it sleeping to compensate for those early morning wake up calls. As time progresses, you get a little bit of time back for yourself.

One of the things I was guilty of neglecting was my sexy figure. Oh yes, before I became pregnant I led an active lifestyle like yoga and swimming. Now that I have more time on my hands, I need to make a promise this year that I’ll try out new activities or get into a routine that will allow me to exercise all my worries away. Since I gave birth, I still have all this excess weight to shed off. The good thing is my husband is really supportive of me gaining back that active lifestyle and has even offered to join me in the journey of getting back into shape. I want to gain that sense of myself and hold onto what makes me, me.

I do have to admit that it is a little difficult to incorporate exercise into my life since the nearest gym is about an hour away. What I’ve done now is that I’ve bought a couple of weights, a kettlebell and a fitbit. I’ve looked up simple workouts on Youtube and sneak in a few sessions within the day when the baby’s asleep. I’ve heard working with a personal trainer can really do wonders and so I’m thinking of doing that so that I won’t have to go to the gym and leave my son for a period of time.

Tough Questions Your Child Asks About God

thumbRNS-MARY-EXHIBIT120214aMy children grew up with the Word of the Lord as the lamp upon their feet. They attended church and Sunday School faithfully and continue to be active in the church youth group as they grew up. I love that they’re interested in learning more about the Lord, but there are times when their questions would make me have to rack my brain. So here are a couple of questions your kids might as you about the Bible and how I answered them when they were asked to me.

Q: Why did God create the world?

A: Genesis 1:1, 31 states that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” When God created the world, He designed it for us to enjoy and live in because He loves us so much. This is why we should always take care of God’s gift to us by making sure that we do not harm the environment but preserve it.

Q: Where does God live?

A: While God’s throne is in Heaven, He is also knocking in our hearts to let Jesus in as our Master and Saviour. Jesus says in the book of Matthew that where there are two or more who are gathered in His Name, His presence is also there. We must allow God to touch our hearts so that we, too, may be able to reach out and touch the lives of others. As John 14:23 states, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.”

Q: Who created God?

A: Now, this question is incredibly tough. It is difficult to grasp the idea of Someone simply existing as is. But remember that God’s power and awesomeness is beyond our own human understanding. To put it simply, no one created God. He is both the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. While God depends on no one to sustain His life, our spirits need the presence of the Lord to grow according to His purpose. Psalm 90:1-2 tells us, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.

Your child may ask you a lot of questions you don’t want to answer or don’t know the answer to. Don’t be dismayed. Simply look to the Father for guidance, and He will lead your way. Remember that Jesus promises us in John 14:14, “If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.”

Pursuit

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To give the year a word, as some do, this is mine.

Pursuit

1. The act or an instance of chasing or pursuing.
2. The act of striving: the pursuit of higher education.
3. An activity, such as a vocation or hobby, engaged in regularly.

Pursuing health of surrendered, passionate love.

A constant activity, for the moment apathy slips in, the return to the pursuit is a thousand times more difficult than the beginning steps. Constant, purposeful mindfulness of that which is in front, the desires of my heart which really, have flowed from the desires of His heart and been revealed in quiet moments with Him.

Allow the world to take over and vision becomes tainted. With the taint comes forgetfulness and with forgetfulness comes reverting back to that which we long to flee and abandon. Those things that make us shudder and weep at how it fails those around us and the One we long to love with our whole heart.

Striving to obtain, yet realizing there is only so much within my own power. The ultimate realization comes when I lean into His grace and rely upon His enabling. Letting the life of The Vine course through this weak branch, that should it be cut off, would have nothing within.

Pursuit is for that which is beyond reach but not impossible to grasp. Not if His hands meet us in our reaching and bridge the gap we are unable to cross in our own power. There is complete reliance on Him to complete the pursuit because of ourselves, we simply can not.

What wonder!

The pursuit is not dependent upon my strength alone but instead, dependent upon my weakness. It is my weakness that brings me strength. The less I am, the more He is. The more He is, the closer to the desired treasure of the soul because I am carried there within His enabling. Carried, even as I  also make the action to advance in the process. Because that is the freedom of choice He has given me.

We choose, but choice does not mean exhausted striving. Choice is accepting all that has been offered for the pursuit that He has called us to. Not the pursuit we create for ourselves.

The pursuit is also relationship. It is the relationship that brings us to that which we reach for. We reach for Him even as He enables us to do so. For the process of the pursuit and the end of the pursuit and yes, the beginning too, is found in Him. Without Him the pursuit would not exist, neither does it find completion.

He, then, is the pursuit.

Siggy

Home School Reviews | Family Fitness

About Home School Reviews
Curriculum, teaching aids, online resources — they abound for the Home Schooling family. Budgets are usually tight, making each purchase count. Home School Reviews come from our Shiloh Home School, as we check out some of the resources available to home schooling families, giving detailed, comprehensive descriptions of the product and  our honest opinions about the quality of the product, based upon the price.

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As school has begun, we’ve been using the Family Time Fitness curriculum for home school for gym, as a supplement to the other curriculum I purchased prior to becoming aware of this available option. It’s easy to see why it has received a top ranking from home schoolers!

We enjoy the format. Right off the bat, my own thoughts were, “this is fun”. There was no debating of “do we like it or not?” We just did.

I received an entire year’s worth of PE sessions which also included a start up training guide, assessment guides, nutritional logs, meal planners, encouragement emails throughout the school year, and online webinars.

There are also workbooks that go along with the gym classes, unique to each grade. I will be purchasing these personally, as I find them a very powerful tool to use with our gym class, because they not only teach physical education concepts with learning terms and vocabulary words, they also provide opportunities for the student to practice reading and writing. This fits in well with our classical approach as a family. You can find sample workbook pages here.

This entire package is fully worth the $57 fee.  The entire program is comprehensive and exceptionally well done.

Miraclegirl’s Take:
I like gym. It’s fun when we can play outside. It’s funny when Mommy jumps.

Pros:
~ One time fee
~ Adaptable right up through all grades
~ Covers a large scope and sequence
~ Minimal investment needed for PE supplies
~ the extras, such as the physical assessment guide, nutritional logs, menu planners, encouragement emails, and available webinars
~ The gym activities are fun, and yet challenging enough to grow your child’s physical capabilities as the school year progresses–something that can then be run through another assessment at year’s end.
~ There are also workbooks that go along with the gym classes, unique to each grade. I will be purchasing these personally, as I find them a very powerful tool to use with our gym class, because they not only teach physical education concepts with learning terms and vocabulary words, they also provide opportunities for the student to practice reading and writing. This fits in well with our classical approach as a family. You can find sample workbook pages here.

Cons:
~ I’m not sure how much the modules change as the child grows older. I can’t see this being the same exact plan year after year for the child.
~ For those of us who would rather have hard copy material to work from, rather than something on the screen, this program requires quite a bit of personal printing. The workbooks must be printed off, in order to be used.

We give it a rating of 5 out of 5 and I highly recommend the Family Time Fitness curriculum for home school for an easy-to-follow, yet packed-full-of-purposeful-activity for a home school gym class.

The initial TOS review of the program as well as additional reviews can be found at the TOS blog.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this product for review purposes, made possible by:

Family Time Fitness

Home School Review Rating System

About Home School Reviews

Curriculum, teaching aids, online resources — they abound for the Home Schooling family. Budgets are usually tight, making each purchase count. Home School Reviews come from our Shiloh Home School, as we check out some of the resources available to home schooling families, giving detailed, comprehensive descriptions of the product and  our honest opinions about the quality of the product, based upon the price.

Rating System

5 ~~ This is a must add for any Home School Curriclum! Worth the price. An invaluable resource.

4 ~~ Highly recommended with a few cons to be considered when making the decision to purchase.

3 ~~ Neutral opinion. We weren’t thrilled with this product but we also can see where it might be beneficial. The money potentially spent on it, will ultimately be based upon each unique Home School Family.

2 ~~ Not recommended. It’s either not worth the money or the quality of the product is so poor, it’s not really worth the time or money to invest in it.

1 ~~ Don’t even consider! Errors abound, resource is poorly put together, and educational material is sorely lacking. Not worth even a penny of a Home Schoolers money.

Product Showcase | Teach Your Child to Count Flash Cards

This giveaway is now ended.
Congratulations to Jan for being the winner :)
About Product Showcase:

Helping you decide through the use of honest reviews, images, and product information, if products are worth your money to bring into your home.

Math. The downfall in my school career. It’s looking like it will be the same way for my daughter, poor girl.  Our brains just don’t get math. Therefore, we need all the help we can get.

We found some of that help with Child Up’s Early Learning Math Cards.

We received two packs to evaulate, Teach Your Child to Count to 10: Math and Logic 1 and
Teach your Child to Count to 20: Math and Logic 2,
and my initial reaction was that they seemed no different than flash cards I could buy in CVS or Walmart. There are animals on the front of them, with the corresponding number on the back.

A closer look however, revealed that these cards carry a bit more than your typical counting flashcards for preschoolers In fact, Child Up considers these to not be flash cards, in that they aren’t to be used for quick display which results in memorized recognition. They are instead, supposed to be used to teach children to actually count and learn the ten Arabic numerals.

Not only that, these cards help teach animal categories as well, as I will focus on in a minute. First of all, there are 16 cards in each pack, specifically for parents to read through. They highlight everything from how a child’s brain is developed, to “How to Get Intelligence”, to encouraging  parents that they are the biggest role models for their children learning (including how crucial Dad’s involvement is) to how to use the flash cards themselves. These parent cards are a mini book of information and they deliver a nice little punch of information in their tiny size.

In Teach Your Child to Count to 10: Math and Logic 1 there are four categories of animals: Domestic, Aquatic, Birds, and African Animals. Each grouping has cards 0-10 and an additional card with animal description and facts to teach your child.

Then the math breakdown takes place.
For instance, there is 1 whale
1 whale + 1 crab to = 2 animals
3 lobsters + 3 walruses + 2 goldfish to = 8 animals
1 seal + 2 dolphins + 3 lobsters + 4 seahorses to = 10 animals

Presenting the numbers this way, with a mix and match, goes further than the usual domino type dots that many flash cards use. It helps factor in reasoning for the child, such as 3 of one animal plus 2 of another equals 5 total.

The 2nd pack takes this a bit further, going all the way to #20 and having a question prompt card, such as
~ How many marsupials remain in the 2nd series if the kangaroo is gone? (Prompting both math skills, reasoning skills, vocabulary skills,  and knowledge of animals, all in one exercise)
~ In the 3rd series of cards, if all the animals without legs leave the group, how many animals remain?
~ In the 1st and 3rd series of cards, if you subtract all the reptiles, how many animals remain?

The reasoning and math questions continue on another card:
~ Can you name the animals that are able to swim. . . creep. . . jump. .  .fly?
~ Can you group the animals by size? (I would add, how many are there all together?)
~ can you sort out all the numbers smaller to bigger?

In this particular pack, the 4 series of animals are as follows:
~ Mammals. Numbers 10-20
~ Mammals and Marsupials: Odd numbers (1,3,5, etc) 1-21
~ Reptiles: Even numbers, 0-20
~ Insects and Arachnids: Random numbers

Mama’s Rating: For the price $9.99 I give this a 5 out of 5 rating. I have bought flash cards for this amount of money at an area local book store and not received half of what I received with these cards. My only hitch, is I would like to see these appear in stores so that no S&H fees are tacked on to a purchase like this, at which point, the price becomes a bit too much.


Kid’s Rating: “I would put 5 star stickers on these which means I really think they’re cool.” 
(As I write this, my 4 year old has sat next to me, playing with these cards for the last 20 minutes, naming animals and counting them.)
Giveaway
Child Up is letting me giveaway one of each of these packs to a reader.
To enter, simply visit their site and then, come back here and tell me what stands out to you the most about Child Up products.
Don’t forget to leave your email!

You can earn additional entries by following Child Up on Twitter and liking them on Facebook.

(Feel free also, to earn additional entries by doing all the usual connecting and following, regarding this site ;))
This giveaway will end on March 17 at midnight.

How to get Approx $25 in Amazon Gift Cards Monthly with Swagbucks

Here is a screen shot of some of the Amazon gift cards I’ve redeemed over the past year with Swagbucks

swb1

It goes back to April and it’s $75. This is before I learned how to make a lot more Swagbucks than I was.

Swagbucks has much, much more to redeem than just Amazon cards, but as an avid reader and a Mama who uses Amazon constantly for kid’s toys and books, the Amazon gift cards are what I redeem regularly.

Around December I figured out a system that now averages me $25 in Amazon gift cards a month. A system that does not even include trade-ins, videos, playing  Swagbuck games, and  Swagbuck codes, which are other ways people add up.

Since I can’t be on the internet constantly, I had to come up with a plan that worked for the time I do have to get on the internet. And this is what I came up with.

I think it’s pretty streamlined and takes 15-60 minutes a day. Minutes I try not to take unless my children are in bed or playing happily. No amount of Amazon gift cards is worth neglecting my children!

So what’s my new system?

You can either watch this video, in which I take it step-by-step as I do daily or you can go down through the written list below.

NOTE: Someone has remarked that I say “swOgbucks” instead of “swAgbucks”. It is pronounced “SwAg”, I guess I just pronounce it with a long “a” instead. You know. . . like “crEEk” versus “crIk”. 😀

2. I use that toolbar for everything. If I go to log into blogger, I “search” for blogger through the  Swagbucks toolbar. I search for my Facebook login page through the toolbar. I don’t use my favorites links or my cookies that automatically recognize where I’m going. I always, always get to sites through the Swagbucks tookbar. This usually yields 2 to 3 Swagbucks wins a day.

The next daily tasks I will show you a screen shot for:

swb2

Do you see the menu on the left? That is how I make my other Swagbucks.

3. I do the NOSO daily. No Obligation Special Offers. You simply look at opportunities and then click “skip” to get to the next one. After 5-7 you’ve earned 2  Swagbucks, simply for looking at them.

4. Do the daily poll for another 1  Swagbuck daily.

5. Trusted surveys give me the most  Swagbucks. Some days I can get up to 300  Swagbucks, other days I get disqualified for every one I attempt. For every 5 disqualified ones (also known as DQ’d) I get 1 Swagbuck. They are worth going through daily. You can at least get 50  Swagbucks almost daily from a survey.

6. Coupons. I select and print the coupons I can use and redeem them at the checkout. I not only save my family money, I get 10 Swagbucks for every coupon I redeem. Double score!

7.  Swagbuck TV. For every 10 videos I watch, I get 3  Swagbucks. They are anywhere from 1/2 a minute to 5 minutes. I usually do this while folding loads of laundry and/or cooking meals (thanks to a laptop) I just keep clicking through to the next video to earn my Swagbucks, all while doing my mindless task at hand.
My daughter also LOVES cooking shows, so I can earn  Swagbucks just by letting her watch a few cooking videos. :)

8. I also Tweet and Facebook my wins as well as whenever I redeem for a gift card. This makes people curious, they click through, and sometimes, they sign up under me. Which I hope, you want to do after reading this. 😉 There are Swagbucks for every person who signs up under you and you are matched to what they win, up to their first 1000. The more referrals you have, the more Swagbucks you can earn as they earn theirs.

Happy Swagging!

PS—Here’s a trick. The $5 Amazon gift card takes less Swagbucks than the $50 giftcard does when it is tallied up. In other words, the overall bang for your buck is better with the smaller redemptions. 

As soon as you redeem, you can to to “Your Account” on Amazon and then click under “Gift Cards” and apply your gift card code immediately to your account. This balance with Amazon will never expire and it will be an option at check out on whether or not you want to use it for your purchase. :)

Seeds Family Worship | Review and Giveaway

This giveaway is now over. 
Congratulations to April S who won this through a Random.org draw!

One of my downfalls in life is memorizing Scripture.

I always intend to memorize it, but somehow I never seem to achieve it.42

Unfortunately, this is carrying into my parenting and I. do. not. like. it. In fact, it really dismays me that my daughter is 3 and other than a handful of Cubbies verses she remembers, I have not helped instill more memory verses into her heart at this point.

That’s why I was thrilled the first time I heard of Seeds Family Worship. Scripture put to music.

Fun music. That makes you and your kids want to dance. And sing to. At the top of your voices.

They have quite a library of CD’s at this point, for families and my goal is to get them all for our home.

Each one has a theme. Courage, Faith, Character, Praise, Purpose, and Encouragement.

Their website also offers several helpful resources for parents such as verse memory cards as well as a place where you can listen to some Seeds Worship music to see for yourself what it’s like.

You can also register for the Seeds Family Worship newsletter that has hand- on activities and one free downloadable song per month.

The music itself is upbeat and fun, not to mention catchy in a way that helps the verse to sink into your child’s mind. Ok, and yours too. :) That’s why the word “Family” is a great word for this ministry, because it’s a wonderful tool for children and parents to hid God’s Word in their heart.

Giveaway

I get to give away a music CD Sampler, which has the songs

1. Put on Love, from Seeds of Character (Colossians 3:12 & 14)
2. Servant of All, from The Power of Encouragement (Mark 9:35)
3. Whatever You Do, from Seeds of Purpose (I Corinthians 10:31)
4. Amen, from Seeds of Praise (Revelation 7:10 & 12)
5. The Word of the Lord, from Seeds of Faith (I Peter 1:24-25)
6. Young, from Seeds of Courage (I Timothy 4:12)

To enter

Go to Seeds of Worship and listen to one of their songs.
Come back here and tell me what one you liked best.
Please be sure to leave your email address where I can contact you.

Additional Entries

~ Check out all the Seeds Worship CD’s and tell me which one you would start with if you began collecting them and why you would choose that one.
~ Follow Seeds on Twitter
~ Like Seeds on Facebook
~ Like the Seeds Youtube channel

Want even more entries?

~ +1 Hidden Valley Simplicity’s main page
~ Become a GFC friend
~ Sub to Hidden Valley RSS feed via reader or email

~ Follow on Twitter
~ Become a FB friend
~ Connect on networked blogs
~ Tweet this on Twitter using @seedsofaith and @hiddenvalley713
~ Give this giveaway a social media plug (Stumble, Digg, etc)

This giveaway will end on September 10 at midnight

Special thanks to Seeds Family Worship for providing me with a complimentary CD for review and giveaway purposes.

Lulu: Beauty in Simplicity | Pearl Earrings Giveaway

This Giveaway has now ended.
Congratulations to Michelle F. for being our winner!

Beauty in simplicity says it all. Sometimes less is more. And Lulu Jewelry delivers that. With exquisite designs, delicate and feminine,  Lulu offerings are many. From Earrings like her Grace earrings to her Turquoise Ray of Hope, to the Echo Earrings, even the names reflect the beauty of her jewelry.

Have a black dress T, that needs the simplest bit of dressing up for a date? Check out her Simple Sterling Simplicity Necklace.  Want simple with the tiniest burst of color for accent? The Sliver of Sky necklace delivers that. Desire a bit more color and pizzazz? You can find that in the Gardenwall Prehnite necklace.

The Adventure Series has some unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that no store jewelry comes close to. If you like to set the trend, some of these pieces may help you do that.

The prices what you would find on similar jewelry in a store such as NY&Co or Kohls, and the clincher? Shipping is free in the US.

Lulu is offering my readers the pair of earrings, seen above. Her description of them is as follows:

gorgeous white pearls drop off hand hammered sterling circles with sterling silver earwires.  The earrings measure about 3/4″

To enter, go to her website and browse around. Tell me your favorite piece with the link when you get back here. :)

You can gain additional entries by:

  • Liking Lulu Jewelry on Facebook
  • Joining this site via Google Followers
  • Join on Networked Blogs
  • Follow on Facebook
  • Subscribe in a Reader
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Tweet this giveaway using @gracenglory75 and linking to this page
  • Share this giveaway using one of the options to the right
  • +1 this site (see side bar)

This giveaway ends July 10th at midnight