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Paleo update

Still sticking with paleo (I suppose you might call it “primal” as I still use a bit of butter on occasion), with auto-immune tweaks. My joints still hurt, but not as much as they did before I started this. Other benefits: I sleep better, waken refreshed, have more energy than I did, and am never hungry. In fact, I’m having trouble getting enough calories in.

I’m tracking my food and exercise at myfitnesspal.com and sometimes I have trouble reaching the “minimum” of 1200 calories — MFP warns me when I don’t, that I might send my body into starvation mode, where weight loss slows because the body is conserving all it can. I can go hours without eating, and without my blood sugar crashing. It’s a far cry from not so long ago, when I felt like I had to eat protein at least every three hours, or get the shakes. (Being off all caffeine may be helping, too.)

Anyhow, if you’re interested, here are a few websites to explore:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com

http://whole9life.com/
(This is the home of the Whole30, a kind of 30-day healthy-eating challenge)

http://robbwolf.com/

http://www.thepaleomom.com/
(check out her info about the autoimmune protocol)

http://autoimmune-paleo.com/

Next time, I’ll post some of my favorite paleo/primal recipe websites.

A new (to me) look at exercising

I was a runner at one time. I went from couch potato/non-athlete to runner when I joined the military and had to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes in order to graduate. In addition, there was an award you could earn if you ran an average of three miles a day during the training period, and that was motivating. After I graduated from training, I continued to run three to six miles a day. I was hooked on that runner’s high you hear about. It always took a mile of awfulness to reach it, though, no matter how fit I was. At about the three-quarter point I’d always feel like quitting, as if I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other to save my life, and yet I did. And then I’d hit the mile point, and all of a sudden it was effortless, I could run forever, I couldn’t feel my feet touching the ground — was I flying?

After the babies started coming I went from running to walking. I did a lot of walking, racking up Volkswalk kilometers every weekend. We had dogs all through the years, and the dogs needed walking.

And then, a few years ago, something happened. My knees went out on me. We completed a three-mile Volkswalk as a family, and by the last mile I was in agony. I haven’t Volkswalked since. I did a little walking (still with the dog) since then, anywhere from 1/4 mile to 2 miles a day, but my knees got really bad this spring, even with the water kefir, and now it’s a struggle to walk 1/4 mile. I walked half a mile this morning, and I think my knees are done for the day.

I’m still hoping this Paleo thing will help to restore my joints. Hoping. My elbows and fingers seem to be responding well, anyhow. Let’s hope the knees get the message.

Anyhow, I had read on some Paleo discussion board about someone my age whose knees had given out — did Paleo (or maybe it was Primal), eliminated inflammatory foods, and the knees came back (against all orthopedist’s predictions). That’s what I’m hoping for! I hadn’t been thinking about running again — I’d be happy just to walk, to be able to be on my feet most of the day and not hurt.

After reading this article this morning, I’m even more certain about not taking up running again. Who knew? I always thought I was doing my body a favor by running three to six miles a day…

HM Review: My Home School Grades

Note: Our family received a free subscription to My Home School Grades for this review. Opinions are our own. No other compensation was involved.

To start with, I have to admit that I find transcripts terrifying and the idea of assigning grades, much less keeping track of them, paralyzing. There’s something intimidating about writing it all down. My early homeschool record-keeping took place in fits and starts, books read, narrations, things checked off a list. I can’t tell you how many times I started with the best of intentions, only to sputter out a few weeks into the process. If you were to look at my records, you’d wonder about our girls’ education.

Standardized test scores say they were/are getting some kind of education. The younger two have tested at the top of the scale over the years. (Youngest’s final state-mandated test is coming up next year, and she’s very happy to see the end in sight.) Eldest is special needs and always struggled with academics. Frankly, I didn’t worry too much about a transcript for her. Just learning as much as possible was a good goal.

Transcripts — the “love language” of colleges (Lee Binz)

I attended an online seminar in creating transcripts, taught by Lee Binz. One of the things she said that struck me is that transcripts are really the way that you communicate with a college that might be considering your student for admission.

Granted, none of ours are interested in college right now. They hear about massive college debt, for one thing, and people having trouble finding jobs even with college degrees. None of them is interested in being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer at this point in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not aimless drifters with no plans for the future. It’s just that their plans don’t necessarily require four more years of academic studies.

Still, they might choose to go to college someday. Add to that, they have been learning an awful lot over the years, of history, geography, literature, science, and yes, even math. I think they could hold their own against their peers. It seems a disservice, not to document their learning somehow, and portfolios and transcripts are the current way to do that.

What I needed was something easy to use, intuitive, that would lead me gently by the hand despite my intimidation.

Enter My Home School Grades

Okay, more True Confession time here. I did not volunteer to do this review. (Did you know that oftimes reviewers volunteer/beg/plead/submit requests for review products?) I said I’d help out if another reviewer was needed. I really would have preferred, ostrich-like, to have kept my head buried in the sand for another few months of blissful ignorance.

(Do you know how hard it is to put a transcript together from fading memory?)

Of course, the Lord knew what I needed, even though it was not what I wanted. He knew that I had been slipshod in keeping records, and that putting together a transcript for Middlest to graduate in a couple of years would have been even more agonizing than pulling together her records right now.

When I received the link to My Home School Grades with word that I had been picked to review the program, I dutifully signed up for an account — easy! — and started to play around a bit. I entered information for all three of the girls, added a few classes, thought about activities, exited the program, and managed to forget about it until the review deadline was looming.

In the meantime, I took Lee Binz’ online transcripts class, which helped a lot with some of my confusion. (Like, how do you record high school level work done earlier than 9th grade? How do you record college-level work done in high school? How do you actually assign credits for work? How do you figure out grades?) Which means, when I finally got back to My Home School Grades I was a little more confident. I added in lots more classes, a whole slew of activities — volunteering, choir, that sort of thing), even… gasp… assigned grades.

User helps — such as video tutorials

Mind you, I did all this without even checking out the tutorial videos available on the site. I was able to use the site without the tutorials — the whole thing is pretty intuitive. However, I found (afterward) that the videos are very helpful and gave me a much better idea of the scope of this simple-seeming program. It’s amazing how much you can do!

The tutorials currently available show you how to add a student, a class, or activity, and how to generate a transcript from the information you add. You can watch them at theMy Home School Grades website to get a better idea of the program.

Powerful features

For such a simple-seeming program, My Homeschool Grades offers a variety of features. You can keep a record of your child’s learning from kindergarten through grade 12 (and beyond, with community college dual enrollment). There are several options for adding a class. The lesson plan option allows you to choose a particular curriculum (in which case lessons are automatically added) or a custom curriculum (which allows you to create your own lesson plan).

As you can see from the figure above, the program allows you to use weighted grading, in an easy, visual format.

You can also add classes that receive an overall letter grade or pass-fail mark, and there’s an option for indicating dual-enrollment where college and high school credit are earned at the same time.

Adding activities uses the same method as adding classes — drop down menus, intuitive visual feel. In this way, you can document volunteer work, extracurricular activities, choir, band, sports, 4H, and more. You can choose to include these on a transcript, or leave them off, but in any event, you have a record of activities on file. 

Transcript creation, at the click of a button

 Well, it’s just a little more complicated than that. After all, you have to enter all the information that’s going to appear on the transcript. What My Home School Grades does is arrange it all in a professional-looking format. It looks something like this on the screen:

Click the “Print” button to print out a copy. You have the option of adding the graduation date and the student’s SSN to the transcript before printing; however, this information is not stored. (I really like that the SSN is not stored!)

 

Ordering details

My Homeschool Grades is offering a 14-day free trial, so I urge you to check it out for yourself. A lifetime membership is $49.99 and covers all the students in your family. No matter where you are in your homeschool journey, convenient, efficient record-keeping is just a few mouse clicks away.

 

Glad it’s Friday!

Coming off a nasty cold (as is Middlest — I think I caught hers). Finally feeling some energy again. So, today will be something of a catchup day. I have to be careful not to overdo and consequently relapse. Add to that the fact that it’s so chilly, it’s hard to stay warm short of turning the heat on again. (And we did turn the heat on earlier in the week, funny thing to do in May but when you have sick people, you’ve got to keep them warm!)

The weather all week has been more like March than May. After the summery weather early in the month, we were all ready for summer, but summer, it seems, is not quite ready for us…

Have you been reading the 30 Day organizing series at The Happy Lil Homemaker? I just stumbled across it this morning. Just might be the thing for the month of June. Will let you know.

Thankfulness

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV
 It’s not always the easiest thing to do. Grumbling for some reason is much easier than gratitude. “Counting your curses instead of your blessings” is what we call it around here, or rather, when in the middle of Attitude Adjustment, it’s in the form of an admonition to count your blessings, instead of your curses.
I’ve been pretty grumbly at times today. We need a new roof, and there’s water damage in the living room that may or may not come from the old roof. We’re hoping that it won’t be serious in the end, but we won’t know until they tear off the old roof and see what’s there to see. I could go on and on, but I won’t.
You see, we are so blessed, so very blessed, that we don’t even know how blessed we are. How many people are out there with no roof, or dirt floors, or a whole family crammed into a room or two, or not enough to eat? And here we are, grumbling about our not-perfect house, or an annoying sister, or plans that aren’t shaping up exactly the way we want them to. Not to mention our own shortcomings, the things that didn’t get done today because of our (poor) choices.
No. Not going there. I’m going to concentrate on blessings right now. I can hear the Giant Schnoz enthusiastically gulping her dog food after ignoring it all day. (A little kombucha was all she wanted. Guess she was feeling grumbly, too.) Dinner will be quick and easy tonight — crepes. Just whip them up in the blender and start frying, one by one, and top with powdered sugar and lemon juice and roll them up. Church meeting tonight to talk about the possibility of a new pastor, after our church has been in limbo for many months.
(Still counting blessings… the interim pastor has been a gift of God, a shepherd who loves the sheep he’s been given to guide through a difficult time, who has brought healing with his wise and understanding heart.)
Anyhow, am going to keep on counting those blessings and more, even after I finish up here and post this.
How many blessings can you name today?

Here’s a blog post from “Down Under” that I stumbled upon this morning. Breathtaking photos. I can’t imagine farming in such dry country, and yet somehow they are managing.

R e d t e r r a i n

Yesterday Mike and I spent the morning driving around the property checking the water and the stock.  We do this every second day, due to the fact that sheep are in fact very fussy water drinkers and we need to keep an eye on the feed.

A lot of sheep will avoid drinking water if there is dust settled on top.  It’s been very dry, and sadly not much of the feed is left, so the sandy ground has become exposed and is blowing all over the place.

We also spent time laying down a line of oats for the merinos who are in desperate need of energy.  You’ll see a trail of yellow in the photo below, which is scary how obvious it is when there isn’t much else around.  Our pets are free to roam around our house, driveway and shearing shed yards.  It’s safe to say they…

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Very glad it’s Friday

Still fighting whatever bug is trying to get hold of me. This morning I doused my oatmeal with a dollop of honey and fair amount of cinnamon. I read somewhere on Facebook that cinnamon/honey in a 1-to-4 ratio is a great remedy to knock out a cold.

Eldest is giving me vitamin C every hour, and I’ve also had kefir and kombucha (not together) already this morning. If remedies can do the trick, I’m pretty remedied-up. (Except for elderberry. I need to remember the elderberry syrup that’s in the fridge.)

What’s your favorite way to avoid the bugs?