Saturday, July 21, 2012

confessions of a wannabe runner- part 1

"Why would I run more than a mile? What could possibly want to chase me more than a mile?"
...famous last words HAHAHA
These are MY famous last words. I really do not run and have never wanted to run and never understood why someone would run. What would chase me that far? If I'm not being chased then why am I running?! About 3 years ago I decided that all the runners I knew/saw were skinny. I decided that it didn't look too hard (forgetting all my years of torture in P.E.) and than I too could be skinny through running. I quickly remembered my years of mile runs through my school year and I decided that NOTHING was worth running from for more than a mile. Goodbye running.

Fast forward to spring 2012...

I was sitting in church one day and they played a video to promote Run for Heaven's Gate which is a series of 4 half marathons in 4 weeks. I had seen the videos before and I know a few people who have run for this precious cause. The thought of it always flew out of my mind as quickly as it was introduced. Last year I actually considered getting involved somehow but with a new baby and a busy schedule I dismissed the idea. So why this year as I sat in church watching this video would I feel so compelled to actually run a total of 52.4 miles in 4 weeks? Perhaps I finally reached a breaking point after a very rough year. Maybe I have been searching for some way to get involved in our church's India missions. Maybe I've gone completely crazy. There is definitely a God factor at work here. The more I thought about it, the more I needed to do this. I started out with 2 reasons in mind; the first is selfish- 2 years into my battle with a still unknown auto-immune issue I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and take back my body. The second reason is much less selfish; Heaven's Gate. 
Heaven's Gate is an outreach in India. It is one of many outreaches that my church started to spread God's love and offer any support that they could in a rough place. This particular outreach is a haven for people who have HIV/AIDS. Medicine and care are hard to come by in this region even for people in good health. People who have HIV or AIDS are shunned and their lives are pretty bleak. Heaven's Gate offers food, shelter, medicine, education, and best of all; love

There are a lot of worthy causes all over the world including ones in our own country but for some reason this fell near to my heart. It was a big step of faith for me to commit to this both physically and financially but the more I thought and prayed the more sure I was. In the bigger picture I'm just another runner who might raise a little bit of money which will bless people and take care of some needs. In my life though, this is a big journey.
Amazing things have happened since I started running and working for this goal. I saw a rheumatologist who didn't have any answers for me but she did put me on some meds that are mild and supposed to help with nerve pain. Praise God, they're working! Slowly I started running, I skipped my big mental 1 mile obstacle and went straight into 2 mile runs. I discovered an amazing thing in the process; when I run I don't think about anything, it is simple quiet time to listen to God. For the first time in my entire ADHD life my brain is quiet. If I am stressed out or in need of an attitude adjustment I find refreshing peace when I run. Who needs to be chased? I can run from myself for miles and then come back ready to face life with a better attitude.
I have seen physical provision, mental provision, and even financial provision ( I won a certificate that pays my racing fees for one of the races). When I get discouraged I think about the kids in India and everything I saw in various videos and heard from various testimonies. I complain because my body hurts but my biggest challenge is NOTHING compared to what these people (many of them are kids) face just to survive from day to day. To be able to be a part of helping to give them the luxury of a clean place to live and life sustaining medicine and food and school.... it keeps me going when I want to stop. As I conquer longer distances and figure out that it takes me about 2 miles (sometimes more) to get warmed up, I need that motivation because those first couple of miles are TOUGH!

SO.... How does this benefit the India outreaches?

Would you be willing to help our cause? Would you pay even $10 to see a notorious non runner book it over 52 miles? No matter what your reason might be, your sponsorship goes a long way in helping this cause. If I have your address you can expect a letter from me in mid-late august. I will be sending out letters with little cards enclosed and postage paid return envelopes. I would rather that someone throw it away than to give for the wrong reasons (guilt, pressure, insert any negative feeling here) but if you do feel led to give it would be a huge blessing! I pay my own race fees and expenses like shoes and accessories and everything else is donated; 100% of our contributions go to India.
If I don't have your address or if you're just really excited like I am to get involved then you can click the following link to sponsor me directly online.

This blog is part 1 of at least a 2 part series. I am excited to see how God will work in this journey and I can't wait to share it!

Here is the video that started it all....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My old favorite sport madeover

Who loves to shop? I mean really shop; the smell of the mall, the competition of a good sale, the thrill of the hunt... that feeling you get when you're done? It truly is a high. My favorite event of the year (minus birthdays and holidays) is the super bowl of all shopping days- Black Friday :-) We have maps, plans, coupons, ads, lists, face paint..... Ahhhhh I LOVE IT!!! I recently had a cementing experience that wasn't too unlike a training event for the biggest shopping day of the year.
I live on a meager budget and I have thought of couponning in the past and even tried it once and did very well but I simply didn't have the resources to start up and I had no clue where to start. It was an overwhelming thought altogether. I have since heard a lot of people express the same feelings toward coupons. How? When? what? SO many questions!!! I have been there.
I guess the first thing I should clear up is expectations and quantity. You will have as much as you want or can invest. I do not currently and do not plan to have a giant stockpile that contains 200 tubes of toothpaste and other similar stereo types. Some people have that but I'm not one of them so if you want to become a hoarder  of toiletries then I may not be a good resource because I have no grasp on the magnitude of of an endeavor like that. BUT if you want to learn about realistic ways to start saving money on things you already use then perhaps you could benefit from what I have learned so far.
Someone gave me a hand. I wouldn't have gotten such a good start if I didn't have some help. I actually won a shopping trip with a professional couponner. She's a sweet gal named Becky and she writes for the coupon website . She took me shopping one night as a subject for her own blog which you can read... HERE. I got to pick her brain and lean how to make connections like using rite rewards points at Rite Aid in multiple transactions. We went Easter basket shopping and I did get a little side tracked in the cleaning isle but I found some greats deals! to learn more about the multiple transactions please read Becky's blog. I haven't attempted it on my own and I can't speak reliably about it.
My second independent shopping experience was the following Tuesday in the middle of the night. I had quite a few doublers from Albertson's and they expire on Tuesdays. I went to Walmart with a mission and I found black Friday training and 60% savings. The line was crazy but it was an awesome opportunity to talk to other gals who were all there for the same reason. It gave me a chance to learn about binder organization. Becky was a huge help and the gals in line really helped me to fill in the blanks and see a variety of styles and preferences.

So where do you start?

  1. Get multiple newspaper subscriptions- you won't use them all but you will be thankful when you find a good deal.
  2. figure out a system - I'm going to help you
I found a deal with the Idaho Statesman where I get 1 paper everyday and an additional 4 papers on Sundays. This is actually cheaper than just buying 5 Sunday paper subscriptions. I paid $58 for this service and I have already paid for it in savings from coupons. 

About your binder.... There are so many ways to do this!!! I took the best of what I saw from about 20 samples and I made something that fits my own needs. You should do the same.
I started with a little filing notebook thing that I put my inserts in and a pair of scissors. After my first shopping trip it looked like this
I needed a better system. I had it all organised but when I had to resort to plan B, C, and D it all went out the window. 
FIRST- I found an old school binder- I will get a fancy tricked out one when the back to school sales start-
I got some page protectors from Ebay (Thanks Becky) and some dividers.
 I started with the dividers. I did one for store specific coupons and loose coupons (like you clip off the box). one for printables, and the rest organised by date (oldest first). 
I printed lists off of fabulously frugal which gives me the name, value, and expiration of the coupons from each insert. 

I decided to cut out at least 1 of each coupon because I'm not opposed to trying new things and if I find a great deal then I will be prepared. The only exception I found was cat food and menopause products. I just will not be needing those. After some trial and error I found it easiest just to lay them out in order of the list before I cut out the others from the same inserts. That way I can see which ones I want multiples of. 

Then after I was sure I had all I wanted from that batch of inserts I filed that mess and recycled the rest

My goal is to be able to look at ads and pull the coupons I want quickly and if I run into plan B, C, D, E, and F then it will be a clean process and a lot easier to find. less hassle in the store for me to cut them ahead of time. If you don't want to do the prep work then you could simply put the inserts into a sheet protector and file the list ahead of it so you know what is in each insert. I filed 3 weeks worth of inserts at 5 newspapers a week. I estimate that in the future this will probably take me an hour or less per week. 

My finished binder looks like this: 

Much better!!!

When you shop, take a list of the deals you found. You can copy and paste off of a site like Fabulously Frugal or you could write it yourself, also keep in mind things you use a lot (like dish soap). You will find yourself noticing the prices around you and remembering your coupons. This is good! set a "most price" for yourself. for example I HATE to pay more than $0.50 for deodorant and $2 for body wash. If somethings you see matches your price or less then you've scored. 
On my midnight shopping run I scored $65 worth of stuff for $22! I got 10 pack of gum for free and if I'd been anywhere besides Walmart it would have been a 4 cent money maker. Those Hot-wheels cars were 50 cents a piece. The dish soap was 97 cents. Not bad huh?

I'm still learning so much and I'm definitely not an expert but this is what I know so far. Hope it helps!

Monday, February 20, 2012

the weighted blanket project

What is a weighted blanket and why did I need to make it?
 In our case, Faith is the one who will benefit from this. Everyone processes outside information differently. everything that comes into your brain via your senses is a form of stimulation. In Faith's case, she gets overwhelmed sometimes because her brain just hasn't learned how to deal with all the stimulation coming in. Some things overwhelm her like food textures that she's not used to, too much play time, and new places (to name just a few). On the other side of that, she is calmed by some things and she seeks out certain stimulation for example she likes to have her tongue brushed, she likes her skin brushed, she likes little pressure squeezes, music, and touching soft things. The theory behind the weighted blanket is that it can be really calming and helps a person's brain to reset and figure out all the incoming stimulation. Since Faith is so young it's possible that if we help her in these ways, her brain can figure out how to rewire itself and this won't be an issue later on.
Here's a helpful website that shows all the different ways that this kind of product can help many people, not just people with sensory processing issues. Keep in mind though that they are trying to sell their product so it's a little hyped up in some areas.
As you can see, this is expensive!
So- I was thinking... I have a sewing machine and a JoAnn's gift card, maybe I could make something.

I started out with a plan to make a traditional quilted weighted blanket. Seems easy enough. When I got to the store I found this amazing fabric that had all sorts of different fabrics and textures in the pattern and that is perfect for us! I got the textured pre-planned blanket fabric which came in the size I needed and I didn't even have to measure out the blanket.

I bought
1 yard of the special fabric,
1 yard of the fuzzy bumpy kind of fabric,
1 yard of some thin polyfil
heavy duty upholstery thread
extra sewing machine needles
2 bags of crushed seashell (1.75 pounds each)

I had
some scrap flannel

I decided to make little pouches of the crushed shell instead of just pouring it right into the blanket.
-The first thing I did was measure out what sizes the pouches should be against the design of the fabric. In this case, I wanted my weights to be in each little elephant. The blanket or weighted clothing should be about 10% of the body weight + 1 pound. my blanket is about 3.5 pounds since she's growing so fast and it's distributed really nicely.

-I decided wash everything so it would shrink BEFORE I sewed it since there were so many different fabrics on the blanket face.

-While the fabric was in the wash, I took my shells and my flannel and made little pouches. I put about the same amount of shell in each one (compensating for size once in a while)
-You can see that I used a diamond stitch because it seemed really strong and was less work than double stitching everything. You should either use a really thick stitch or double stitch because I have a friend who has done one of these and she didn't double stitch it and hers sprung a leak eventually. I'm also hoping that making the pouches will help me avoid a leak.

-For the blanket, I pinned it right sides together and sewed around the edges like you would for a normal blanket.
-Then I sewed around each elephant leaving the top open and then putting the corresponding pouch in and sewing up the top as I went. then I closed it up.

It was a LONG patience-trying process and as I added more pouches it got hard to maneuver.
If I did this again I would have chosen the square quilted pattern in this theme that still had as many fabric textures and I would have just done square pockets for the weight.
I might consider selling these if I have a friends or what not who wanted to buy the supplies but to me, it's not worth the work to makes them and then list them for sale to strangers. I understand why they charge so much for these but with my gift cards, coupons, and manual labor, this project only cost me $2 out of pocket.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Davin's FINAL potty training adventure

I think we're here! I think he's finally decided that it's worth his while to go ahead and potty train. In his time in his way, Davin is joining the rest of the underwear wearing world.
What did we do? Nothing. what did we say? nothing.
It was his decision and I think all the practice and encouragement didn't hurt but in the end he just needed to be ready. He didn't initiate this process though. I told him this week that we were going to buckle down and work on it (like I do every week) and for some reason this week he decided that it would be a good time. It could have something to do with the fact that we're signing the boys up for their spring sports, perhaps it's because we've been talking about sending him to preschool and he knows he can't go unless he's potty trained.
Maybe I finally withheld enough potty treats...

Kids are so random.

With the promise of potty traning and Chuck E Cheese hanging over our heads as a reward I think this may be Davin's LAST potty traning adventure.

BTW- Check E Cheese has all sorts of reward calendars. We used this one with Cole and it's been enough of an incentive for Davin as well. This week We're doing the behavior one with Cole while Davin does his potty training chart so that they both have something to work for and they don't regress. You can check out the reward charts here:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bountiful Baskets -all you wanted to know (and more)

I recently joined this co-op after finally giving in to the curiosity at the urging of many friends and family members.

So what is Bountiful Baskets? It's a co-op run by volunteers that makes produce available at about 1/2 the price of what you would regularly pay for that quantity.

I got my first basket 2 weeks ago and I was impressed right away! My first basket had 2 bags of grapes, 5 clementines, a bunch of apples, bananas, a couple of pears, a thing of blackberries, 2 heads of romaine, 1 head of spinach, 3 avocados, 1 bunch of radishes, 3 heads of broccoli (can't spell), 3 English cucumbers, and 3 or 4 tomatoes.

I had surgery last week so I didn't order a basket.
This is what my basket looked like this week:
It includes, 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 1 bunch (3 head) of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, 5 ears of corn, 8 bananas, 5 tomatoes, 6 pears, 5 kiwi, 2 pomegranates, 4 oranges, a bunch of brussel sprouts, and a 1 bag of apples.

The cost is $15 + $1.50 fee for something = $16.50 total. If it is your first time, count on paying $19.50 because there is a 1 time charge for the sorting baskets that they will use for you. The baskets stay there though and you will need to bring your own container(s) to get your stuff home.

Here are some pros and cons for you to consider:

  •  affordable
  •  variety
  •  large quantity
  •  good quality
  •  Supports local business and small farmers for exotic items
  •  Adventurous- You never know what you're going to get! You don't want it to go to waste and it is a good way to try new things that you normally wouldn't pick out :-)
  •  a good volunteer opportunity
  •  It's fast, you go in your PJs and you pick out your baskets and you leave
  •  My site is really well organised, they have a good system and it flows nicely
  •  these things are everywhere! (at least in Idaho this is true)
  •  You don't choose the produce- it is chosen for you and you never know what you're going to get
  •  You have a small time frame (20 minutes from the posted time) to pick it up or else you lose it and there are no refunds.
  • The small time frame for me is really early in the morning on a Saturday (usually about 6:30)
  • they like you to volunteer at least once every couple of months which is an hour earlier than my really early pick-up time.
As you can see, several of my pros can also be cons. once in a while because of the preferences of my kidos I do need to supplement my baskets with some store bought produce. Usually it isn't much; a bag of apples or a bunch of bananas or some recipe specific veggies.
I have a couple of recommendations that you might find helpful:
  • Find your local site on facebook if possible- My pick up time on the BB website is 7am but because I am in the local facebook group I know that my people are REALLY fast and I will get the best choice of baskets if I go at 6:30 because they are usually ready at 6:30 rather than 7.
  • The early bird gets the worm!- You get to pick your basket and if you go early you have a lot of control over quality. PLUS all the baskets have at least the same amount of fruits and veggies but the extras get distributed as evenly as possible among that baskets so you can pick a basket that might have more of 1 thing that you like. For example, on my first week there was only 1 bag of grapes in the baskets but I got there early and I know my kids like grapes so I picked a basket with 2 bags since there were extras that week. There were baskets with extra lettuce and other stuff too. They really do try to dole out the extras evenly but every basket is different.
  • If there is a delay in delivery or weather issues I know (through facebook) before it's posted on the main site.
  • read all of the directions and play around on the main website thoroughly before you join up so that you aren't confused. It's a really easy process but there is a lot to learn at first.
  • DO volunteer! If you can, you should volunteer. Not only are you helping out and getting a work out you get first pick from the baskets, first pick from the extras, and if someone doesn't pick up their basket you get more stuff. It pays to volunteer.
I'm actually not a huge lover of a variety of fruits and veggies, I know what I like and I don't really like to explore too far out of my comfort zone. But we really want our kids to try new things constantly and we want them to like more fresh healthy foods than we do and so this is a great way for us to explore as a family and set a good example for our children. It really forces us to step out of the box and try new things. It feels really nice to have to get creative in order to use all of our produce and I actually look forward to new recipes. I'm forced to follow through on all those good intentioned copied recipes that I have in my stash and I like it!

You can get more info and sign up at

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Brand New Year

I have never put a lot of stock into New Years.
I never really feel any different and I've never seen the point. I do however like festivities in any form and am always excited to spend time with friends. This year I have no resolutions, I don't think I need a brand new fresh start because I get that every single day with God. I like taking life one day at a time; much more than that can be overwhelming to a mind as small as mine :-)
This year I have found a new reason to enjoy a new year- It's a good reminder that life is still moving forward. I am glad to be rid of the 2011 title and moving on with 2012. A lot happened in 2011 and I'm ready to wash my hands and be rid of it. I'm ready for the constant reminder that this is indeed a new day and everyday is new.