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A Keto Journey

Six pregnancies. Nursing for at least a dozen years. Middle age. Life.

It can all play havoc on your body and your health.

I’ve experimented with several different eating styles and exercise programs over the years. From Weight Watchers to Yoli to juicing to the Whole 30, I’ve done them all. I’ve gotten back into pre-pregnancy pants sizes every time. Then last year, my beloved mother-in-law suddenly died. Between that shock and loss and grief, combined with cleaning out and selling her house, depression, a rocky relationship, and homeschooling my sixlets and just life in general, I put on more stress weight than I was comfortable with.

Instagram led me to the Keto lifestyle and I read the book, aptly names Keto. Unless you’re super interested in the science, don’t bother. I was motivated to just get started however, and I did.

The first month I was super dedicated to 20 carbs a day. I was definitely in ketosis, not hungry, feeling good. Then “vacation” (quotes intentional) happened and some home disasters and it’s been hard to be strict again. I happened to be wearing the same outfit yesterday as the day I took my starting pictures, and I was curious if there’s been any change.

I’m pleased that there has been and am motivated to buckle down again.

Keto has been easier to stick to than other plans because it’s not a lot of work. I’m not hungry or constantly thinking about food. Technically, I can eat anything I want as long as I keep it under 20 carbs a day and try to have high fat. I find I HAVE to drink a good amount of water to feel good, which is good for me. I stick to real food and Stevia. I don’t bake much now that I’m Keto, but I do feast my eyes on instagram accounts who do! 😁

I downloaded an app called Carb Manager that really helps me, because of COURSE I think I’m eating fewer carbs than I really am. If I enter my food right after I eat it, I can really tell where I am and what I should eat next. I stay on plan much better when I do that.

It’s not complicated. Juicing took hours and was really expensive. Yoli was confusing (protein day? not protein day? how much on each day?! I don’t even know!) and was really expensive. The weight watching was ridiculous with their promotion of low fat everything and points and who has time to go to meetings anyway? (Disclaimer: that was 9 years ago; they’ve probably updated to more real food.) The Whole 30 was too stringent and rule oriented for my brain and personality.

Lots of people are doing Keto these days and it’s easy to find information and recipes on Pinterest or wherever. A couple of my favorite resources are Bacon and Butter and the cookbooks by Maria Emmerich.

I don’t have a specific goal, other than to feel good and confident, and be able to zip my regular pants.

Have you tried Keto? What do you think?

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The Overwhelm Of Mothering

Sunday.

I’m 💯% overwhelmed most of the time.

Waking up to a toddler loudly whinging because it’s not dark anymore and her hot cocoa is too hot and she wants to get dressed but not that one while simultaneously needing to pee and pour my first cuppa and take the dog out. Overwhelm.

Trying to read your Bible with people climbing in or near you and teasing the dog and each other and even knowing that God is close to those with young it feels like failing. Overwhelm

Going through a huge gift of clothes with the boys to decide what we will keep and what we will bless to others while the little girls are simultaneously touching everything and fighting about the fact F wants the same kind of cereal as E. Overwhelm.

Keeping this person on track of loading the dishwasher while simultaneously administering directions to five other people who keep popping into the frame like whack-a-mole. Overwhelm.

Giving Father’s Day presents while simultaneously trying to keep someone from opening the other one and noticing the spilled coffee and the random bits scattered around. Overwhelm.

Cleaning up breakfast while simultaneously assigning this person to make sure that person is clean and that person has shoes and answering questions. Overwhelm.

Thrift shopping for summer dresses for the teen while keeping the toddler from unloading shelves and making a towering stack of chairs to climb up and touch the huge inflatable hanging from the ceiling and repeatedly saying no to the millions and millions of requests from the kindergartener. Overwhelm.

Trying to make potato packets for the grill while trying to remember to find or buy more aluminum foil and delegating sunscreen and help tying shoes and thousands more “needs”. Overwhelm.

Attempting to explain your sense of scarcity and inadequacy to your partner and he responds with more and louder negativity basically berating the kids for “never doing anything!” which isn’t at all what you’re saying and now you feel like you need to rise to their defense and you want to point out all the responsibilities and things you keep track of that he doesn’t help with at all but you don’t and it’s just pointless. Overwhelm.

Sunset Mississippi River overwhelm motherhood moms mothering unseen invisible workload difficult mental health toddler with kittens

Wanting to have a Super Soaker fight with your kids and as you change into your swimsuit one kid is crying about something that is huge to him and two other kids follow you into your closet dripping wet and impatiently hurrying you along and the water fight isn’t fun at all because one kid keeps squirting people in the face and they cry and there are clothes and towels and toys all over the yard and it just is one more thing you’ll have to clean up or make them clean up. Overwhelm.

Feeling guilty because you had an overnight trip to Galena with your bestie and were gone all day three days ago and you had an overnight birthday party with your daughter and her three besties and your three besties and were gone all day yesterday, and even with these much needed respites, you still can’t manage this life you really want to love. Overwhelm.

Sunset Mississippi River overwhelm motherhood moms mothering unseen invisible workload difficult mental health >

I don’t know how to make it easier-but there are a few things I try.

Bible.

Knowing God is for me and equipping me.

Exercise.

Positive affirmations.

Laughter every day.

Reading.

Outdoor time.

Lots of kisses and rough housing, especially when I don’t feel like it.

Vodka. (Sometimes.)

Hand-lettering.

Looking at breathtaking photos on Pinterest or Instagram.

Connecting with friends.

Hiding in my room.

Motivational YouTubers.

What helps you when you’re overwhelmed?

Knowing you’re not alone!

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Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

6:00 Wake up to alarm. Try to sneak out of bedwithout disturbing beautiful wife or two year old who’s snoozing between us. Am largely unsuccessful. Sneaking is not my forté. Grab a cup of coffee to down while putting on my coveralls. It’s 15 degrees on the seventh of April and the cow herd is calving. Dangerous conditions for newborns. The plan is to haul the last month’s accumulation of manure out of the cattle yards and use it to fertilize the fields while the ground is still frozen. It’s a week long job at least with nothing going wrong.

6:30 Check the cows. Discover a half frozen just born baby calf. Haul him in the calf sled to under the barn so I can get him nursing. His mama is not cooperative and keeps trying to charge me. Stupid cow.

7:30 Still having trouble getting her in the head gate. I’m sick of this cow trying to kill me, when all I’m doing is trying to save her baby. Take a break and go check the rest of the herd. Discover two more babies, just born while I was under the barn with the first ridiculous cow.

Drag them in to under the barn as well. Their mamas follow docilely like they’re supposed to. Get the calves all in the calf warmer—a tiny A frame shed with a heater.

Head up to the house for some frozen colostrum. I’m going to have to tube feed them all.

Put 9 year old in charge of warming up colostrum, the first highly nutritious milk. We always milk cows who have lost a baby or have extra colostrum, to keep on hand. Without those precious first few nursings of colostrum, the calves won’t live no matter what you do. It’s a miracle that newborn human babies who’ve never nursed can survive, as no animal will!

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

8:30 Go back out to barn to check on the situation and see that two of them are starting to stand and be halfway normal. The kids all want to come out and watch, so I let them peer through the window so they won’t disturb the mamas. Milk the two cooperative cows and tube feed their calves with their own mama’s colostrum since they can’t nurse yet.

9:30 Go back up to the house, get the warmed colostrum, tube feed the first calf. I don’t think he’ll make it. This is even more discouraging as just yesterday, I had twins (highly unusual for Gelbvieh cows), both born back feet first, both born dead. They’re supposed to be born front feet first. Besides feeling badly for the animal, we’re losing big money every time we lose a calf, and this is definitely not the year to lose any money on anything.

After feeding the calves, I headed up the breakfast operations while my wife was working out. Cadrian, the nine year old can make popovers on his own, but he still needs a little guidance and a lot of reminders.

10:30 Finally start hauling manure while it’s still frozen. I go into the cattle yards with the tractor, load the manure and the straw we use as bedding material into the loader bucket and dump it into the manure spreader. The ground needs to be frozen while I take it out to the field so I don’t tear up the ground with ruts, which then causes compaction, because I want to plant into it soon.

11:30 Take a break from hauling manure when my best friend comes over to get hay for his goat. We shoot the breeze for a while.

By this time, Jessica is gone to write all day at a local farmer owned coffee shop. I go back up to the house to check on the kids and get them to start lunch. They make frozen vegetables and macaroni and cheese.

12:30 The ground is starting to thaw, so I finally start chores. This involves feeding all the cattle in the cattle yards a special mixture of silage, hay and nutrients, and taking bales of hay out to the cattle in the pastures. I mow and bale hay all summer long so out cattle can be grass fed all winter, and I sell some hay to local horse owners. I keep a close eye on the worst off calf.

1:30 The kids are bounding around outside since it’s warmed up a bit. They want to help and be in the way and see everything. Elivette manages to get some milk to feed the half frozen, now thawed, babies!

A couple more calves are born, in the sunshine, which even though it’s still record lows,  makes a big difference so they were fine. After I got the new ones all ear tagged, I poured hot water over that first calf for quite a while, trying to get him warmed up internally.

2:30 Our pet cow Lolly had her calf! She is the smartest cow we have. She had the calf at the warmest part of the day, in the calf shed I just erected yesterday. Really it was probably dumb luck, but I like to credit it to her intelligence.

day in the life of a farmer
My wife with all her sick headache accouterments.

3:30 Jessica has gotten home but she has a sick headache and can’t go to the party with the family.

I get the kids around and we head off to Aviana’s friend’s and Challenge A director’s home for tacos and a sing-a-long. On the way, I meet up with Brielle’s friend’s dad, because her friend Esther has stayed the night and needs to be returned to her family.

4:30 The kids have a great time while I chat with some of our friends. I have to supervise our kids pretty closely because they’re still so young and impulsive. The family who live here with their two teenagers lead a completely different life than us with our six rambunctious rascals ages 2-13.

Our nine year old especially needs to have some quality friends who are boys. We seem to have a lot of friends with girls. He and the host’s 14 year old son love to wrestle and roughhouse.

7:30 It’s impossible for me to round up six kids. You have to start an hour before you’re ready to leave, and then when you finally find them all, and get them pointed in the right direction, someone wants to chat some more and they all disperse again.

Bedtime is the best time of day for this farmer!

8:00 Get teeth brushed and pajamas on. By lying down with her, I get the two year old to sleep. I love snuggling her and helping her fall asleep. Often I fall asleep with her for a little while, and show her how it’s done. This farmer teaches thegreatest life lessons: Bedtime is the best time of day!

9:00 I head back outside and get the calves nursing for the first time. That’s a huge relief! The first one died. I check the cows again and see another new calf born, which brings our total to 7 for the 7th! That’s almost 10% of our herd calving on one day. I have to go out to the field to bring back the tractor I forgot out there because I drove the tractor pulling the manure spreader back and then got busy with the cows. If I had a fit bit I’m sure it would show that I walked 20 miles today.

10:00 Sit down for a rest while Jessica quizzes me about my day for this blog post. I like that she’s paying attention to me, but I’m almost too tired to think! Snuggling with the puppy in the comfy chair is putting me to sleep.

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A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

When my oldest was approaching school age and when she was in early elementary, I was obsessed with looking up the schedules of homeschooling families. I did find a book which had a compilation of different families’ days and whose name I unfortunately can’t remember, and here and there I would find a blog post, but there wasn’t much out there at the time. I scoured the internet  and library looking for the “Day in the Life” information for several reasons.d.
Seeking new ideas is something I do on a regular basis. It’s so helpful to see how other people do it, and see what you can incorporate into your own life.
It’s fascinating! I am seriously curious about what goes on in other people’s homes. I love getting glimpses into the extraordinary ordinary.
I like knowing I’m not alone. It’s refreshing that I’m not the only one wanting to tear my hair out by two o’clock.
Because it’s so helpful for me, I asked several of my homeschool friends about their daily schedule. I’m writing a series of The Day in the Life of a Homeschooler posts. If you’re a homeschooler, and would like to be featured, I’d love to talk to you about that!
I would love to introduce to you my friend Sarah. We jokingly refer to each other as Sister Wife because last year we went to Vegas with our husbands and babies, but while her husband was in meetings all day, we figured we looked like sisterwives hanging out with Kevin. Her kiddos are 8, 6, 4, and 2, and she’s also a farmer’s wife.

6:30 am – Mommy and Daddy get up, get dressed, and drink coffee while checking Facebook and email and the weather reports. This is our most peaceful time of day. Daddy usually heads out to work on the farm before the kids get up. I get the farm’s bookkeeping and bill paying done during this quiet time. I try to log off the computer for the day when the kids get up, and NOT go back to check email or Facebook again until the next morning. We don’t own smart phones because we don’t want that constant distraction.

8:00 am – Kids start waking up. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, and brushing teeth -times 4- takes forever and sometimes there are tears.

 9:00 am – If we are going somewhere (Grandma’s house on Tuesdays because she keeps the kids for a couple hours while I run errands alone, homeschool co-op on Wednesdays, horse riding lessons some Thursdays, library on Fridays) we head out. Often the 8 and 6 year olds have worksheets to complete in the car because we live a long way from everything and it keeps them from making too much racket during the drive. Math and spelling questions are shouted from the backseat of the Suburban up to me (over the noise of the 2 and 4 year olds in the middle row) and I shout the answers back. If we aren’t going anywhere, I attempt to get the 2 and 4 year olds engaged in an activity and then work on lessons with the 6 and 8 year olds.
Homeschool science slime
6 year old Joanna demonstrates making slime

We don’t cover every subject every day. They alternate between math and writing six mornings per week, 52 weeks a year. Science and art are covered at co-op for part of the year. Once a week we read a chapter from our history book, and throughout the week we read the recommended supplemental readings that go with the chapter.

9:30 am – Second breakfast
10:00 am – The big kids are finished with lessons and everybody has free time. For me,that means laundry, dishes, food preparation, gardening, and sometimes relaxing with my own reading material. The kids go outside when weather permits. Otherwise they entertain themselves in the house and that gets very messy. I am often interrupted by crying children who are having a toy squabble or other disagreement, or who have obtained boo-boos and need kisses, or who have invented something or drawn something they are eager to show me. Whenever perpetual disagreements or boredom strike, I give the kids chores to do.
11:00 am – Elevensies (Kidding… sort of… It’s unbelievable how much time kids spend eating!)

Joanna and 8 year old Katrina check out their specimens.
12:00 pm – Lunch. We usually eat leftovers from last night’s supper, or sandwiches or microwaved chicken nuggets. I do not cook a meal in the middle of the day. I basically hate cooking and do it as little as possible. The kids are expected to do as much as they can by themselves. I pay a quarter for emptying the dishwasher or sweeping the floor.
1:00 pm – Nap time. We never, ever mess with nap time. I am extremely strict about this part of the schedule. We are always home before 1:00. The 2 year old goes first. I remind the other kids that it’s time to be quiet and take her up to her room. After a few stories and some gagas (nursing), she’s down. Then it’s the 4 year old’s turn. He gets a few stories alone in his room and goes down.
Katrina loves to illustrate the stories she writes.
1:45 pm – Reading time. With the two youngest asleep, the two big girls and I sit together on the couch and read. I read a few stories to them, and they each read aloud to me from a book at their reading level. This is the extent of our reading “curriculum.” Occasionally, on staying home days, we do reading time before lunch so that I can have more free time
in the afternoon.
2:30 pm – This is MY time, and it is sacred to me. I send the big girls off to do whateverthey want (usually they play outside and  explore the far reaches of the farm) and I work on things that I care about. This often includes a home improvement project (my husband and I are rather proud DIY’ers and we are always renovating something). It takes me two hours a week to mow our yard. I squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise every day, usually during nap time but sometimes in the morning. Sometimes the big girls and I will get out a messy art or science project that we can’t do when the littles are under foot and work on that together. Sometimes we help Daddy fix broken machines or work cattle.
4:30 pm – Sacred nap time is over. The kids’ favorite show, Wild Kratts, is on, and all the kids sit and eat apples (the ONLY food they are allowed to have in the living room) while they watch. Sometimes this distraction allows me to keep working on whatever I started during nap time. Sometimes I get started on supper. Sometimes I watch with them.
Wild learning at its best.
5:30 pm – In the dead of winter, we usually spend a good deal of our evenings in front of the TV. The rest of the year, it is shut off after an hour and everybody goes back to playing and working outside. At the present time, we have no regularly scheduled
evening activities. In the past, the kids have done sports and dance classes that meet on weeknights, and I imagine at some point we’ll resume some of those things. Right now nobody is begging for those sorts of things so we’re not doing them.
We regularly enjoy local parks and playgrounds when we’re at loose ends. Often we meet
friends for a few hours either in the morning or evening (never at naptime!). We take nature hikes and the 8 year old tries to fish. The rest of the evening includes supper at some point, but we rarely sit down and eat together as a family of six. Usually Daddy works late (9:00 or later in the spring, summer and fall) and eats when he comes home (and often at least one kid eats with him). In the winter he sometimes comes in earlier and we might eat together. The kids enjoy a variety of electronic games, card games, and board games, and we play them together or separately. The kids need showers a few times a week and that can be a lot of work.
Ideally, all the toys get picked up and put away before bedtime, but sometimes I don’t  have the energy to make them do it.

9:30 pm – Bedtime. I put the 2 year old to bed because she still needs her gagas, then I take a shower and hit the hay. Daddy has always done bedtime duty for kids who are weaned. He reads them stories and tucks them in. It’s sacred time to him because during busy times of year he hardly sees them at any other time. (They all love tractor and combine rides with Daddy and we do that as often as possible, but it’s not always possible.) By 10:00, the whole family is asleep, resting up for another big day ahead.

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Farm Fresh Road Trip

Six kiddlets and one mama heading up to Chicago area for Independence Day weekend.
Minute 1: tan I have a snack now?
Minute 7: it takes a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s.  (Repeat every 2-3 minutes) 
Minute 11: pass out multiple “pixie cups” of cheddar popcorn accompanied by threats of being tossed out the window if you spill any
Minute 20: wait for train
Minute 30: Burger King drive through
Minute 36: I’m hungry, tan I have a snack now? 
Minute 49: enter expressway with very minimal exits and much construction and no shoulder
Minute 53: air conditioning starts blasting heat. Even shutting off fans does nothing to stop it. Roll down windows, hope for the best. There is NO WHERE to pull over. 
Minute 58: three year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying “top on the side of the road to doe peepee and poopoo!!”
Minute 59: thankfully see a sign declaring we are not far from the only exit for another 35 miles because there is no way to pull over in the construction and traffic 
Minutes 59-65: Hold it baby, can you hold it? 
Big brother: just pee in your seat! Hahahaha!!
Minute 60: Nine year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying, because of a leg cramp
Minute 66: baby wakes up.
Minutes 66-80: Take kids into gas station by turns. Deny requests to buy fireworks, toy cars and snacks. 
Minute 85: return to tollway. 
Minute 86: I’m hungry. May I have a snack? 
Minute 87: is it my turn with the kindle yet? 
Minute 88: miraculously, shutting off Suburban has fixed the heating issue, at least temporarily, and air conditioning works once again and we can roll up the windows.
Minute 88-120: negotiations for Kindle turns, drinks of water, much conversation and laughter and “It take a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s house”: arm in backseat stroking baby’s head
Minute 100: Cadrian gave Denton the Kindle so he could play Math V. Zombies, but only after he used up all the bullets so poor five year old had to do too hard of math problems for him in order to get more bullets. For some reason this made me laugh hysterically. Aviana to the rescue–provided him with a well stocked arsenal.
Minute 115: finally stop laughing. Hysteria  may have other sources… 
Minute 121: let boys in third row have popcorn bag
Minute 121:30: uhoh!–the popcorn dropped all over the floor and seat
Minutes 122 continued: feverishly feed baby grapes to keep her quiet. She bites into them, eats their guts,  spits out the outsides. Don’t care. At least she’s not crying.
Minutes 123 continued: everyone gets louder and louder the heavier the traffic gets and the closer we get to our destination. 
Minutes 125 and on: Jokes like: why did the cow cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did the calf cross the road? Because he was nursing his mama
Minutes 126 and on: Brielle texts my friends with video of crying baby. And texts whomever will text her back
Minutes 127 and on: children wave exuberantly at fellow drivers and shout things they thankfully (hopefully) can’t hear like “hey lady! You’re fired!” 
Minute 140: notice phone battery (and therefore GPS directions) is getting dangerously low. Charger in a bag in the way back. Carry on bravely. 
Minute 145 and on: childish jabber noise and intermittent baby fussing accompanied by the constant pinging, baaing, and general noise of Elivette’s Todo Math game 
(Don’t forget the “it takes a Wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s house!” Every few minutes)
Minute 183: ARRIVE AT DESTINATION 
Now it’s “how wong befowre Uncwle Torydon dets hewre?”
Clean out popcorn, grapes, at least half a pint of blueberries,  and an entire garbage bag of trash. 
Ahh. We’re here. 

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