Disclosure of Material Connection:

Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2 Weeks of #Paleo Dinners (Most are #Whole30 Compliant) Part 1

Paleo dinners

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Lemon thyme chicken with braised Brussels sprouts (emeals), Whole 30

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Bacon salmon patties with broccoli and red peppers (emeals), Whole 30

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Maple mustard pork with sweet potatoes and apple coleslaw (emeals)

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Salisbury Steak and mashed carrots/sweet potatoes and mixed greens on the side! (emeals) Whole 30

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Chili lime flank steak with asparagus/zucchini with bacon and leftover mash (emeals)

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Indian chicken thighs with butternut squash wedges and carrots (emeals) Whole 30 and almond butter cups for dessert, NOT WHOLE 30

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Bbq sauce (Tessame’s) on leftover pork on baked potato with green beans Whole 30 (if you use compliant pork, this pork was not compliant, see above)

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Kung Pao Beef on broccoli/cauli rice, (emeals) Whole 30

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Shrimp and pork egg roll in a bowl, I used coconut aminos, added some extra shredded carrots, put the leftover pork in, and then added the shrimp on top until cooked.  Served with cashews! Whole 30 (without the leftover non compliant pork)

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Buffalo Chicken Casserole,  I halved the hot sauce so the kids and I could eat it.  Whole 30

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This is a yummy go to salad I make, I had it two ways.  On the right is greens with avocado, strawberry and copy cat chic-fil-a paleo chicken, on the left it’s with turkey hot dog.  Both served with Tessame’s Balsamic Dressing.  Whole 30

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Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker, Whole 30

Find more Whole 30 and Paleo posts

Paleo Meal Plans

If you follow my Instagram you can see my daily meals!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Do Technical Skills Improve At a Higher Rate In a Digital-Forward World with Online Education?

Disclaimer:  I was financially compensated for this post.

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If you want to make sure you are getting the best technical skills possible, one of the best ways to do that is to immerse yourself in the technical world. One way of doing that is by choosing ELearning online classes. This way, you are put in a situation where you must learn how to use the system properly in order to complete your online education. When most people are able to figure out any way of postponing something, they do, but when you are fully immersed in the environment, you give yourself no choice but to adapt.

What You Learn By Taking Online Classes

One thing that people have to pick up on very quickly when taking online classes is the ability to communicate effectively. Not only do you have to type, you also have to proofread, learn to send emails, use instant messengers, and use the forums to post to people in your online classes. This is how you communicate most of the time, including with your professors and online tutors, so you need to get up to date on the process very quickly.

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You also get access to the most up to date information and technology when Elearning, so that can help you keep up with current changes that would make your learning easier. Take the time to ask questions and get familiar with the system you are using, and don’t be intimidated about making a mistake. The entire class is there to help, so experiment and give it a try! If you want to go into an immersive Elearning environment, you may want to try going to FutureSchool. Give them a call and find out what types of options they can offer you in terms of getting yourself technologically in the loop.

Disclaimer:  I was financially compensated for this post.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weeks in Review: 2/15 & 2/22

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Week of 2/15:

This was our anniversary weekend, so we spent Saturday and Saturday night away!  Was a nice relaxing weekend! 

Monday was President’s Day, so hubby had off.  It snowed that day, so most of our plans were cancelled, and we chilled at home.

Tuesday:  Because of the snow Cs Art History class was cancelled AGAIN!  But it warmed up and the snow all melted by the evening, so scouts was still a GO!  We did a normal school day (since we had had Monday off).  You can see more about this day at our Day in the Life Post.

Wednesday returned to ‘normal’, school with MMA in the afternoon.  Thursday was another normal school day and of course piano and swimming on Friday. 

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c received his Tinker Crate (it was building a catapult, worked in well with our history) and Z his Little Passports (Japan)!

Check out what we did on Saturday at this week’s Field Trip Friday post (from yesterday).

Week of 2/22:

Monday was an easy day in the morning, we had a bit of a play date late morning, then MMA after lunch.  It was a nice day, the kids really wanted to go outside, so we cancelled history and science so they could play! 

Tuesday was an art history make up day, we had to bug out a bit early to get to Cs follow up appointment for his ADHD diagnosis.  Followed by a Battle of the Books meeting in the afternoon.  C made a tower from clay at Art History and worked on it a bit in the afternoon too.

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Hubby had a coaches helper meeting for track (starting in spring) and the rest of us stayed home.  The boys played quietly and I played with K with her new Koala Crate box she got.  She LOVED IT!

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Wednesday was our only ‘real’ school day planned, and well.. it didn’t go as planned.  C needed to find a science fact to share with is co-op class, and that one turned into 5 and then turned into him wanting to make a card for each element so he could build his own Periodic Table (he was looking for facts in the Periodic Table of Elements book we have.)

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Thursday co-op and Costco!  Always a long day!  c was really excited to have his new Little Passports, we are trying out the Early Explorers Edition

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Friday was suppose to be piano/swimming, cake decorating, blue and gold banquet – but nope!  1 am c came in with croupy cough and then the rest of us felt crappy all day.  C didn’t even seem upset that we weren’t going to the banquet, that’s how much he was not feeling good.  It was a day of sleeping and LOTS of TV watching (which rarely happens, so they weren’t complaining too much).  Just lots of low grade fevers, achy body and such.  BOO!  NO FUN!  Here is hoping that tomorrow is better!  PLEASE!  Sickies are NO FUN!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Field Trip #191 Friday Blog Hop

Field Trip Friday!
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Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)
**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE!

Our field trips all took place this last Saturday!

The middle two had Past Times for Children at the Carroll County Historical Society in the morning.  They learned about Barn Building and Dances.  They always have a fun time, and we buy the Passport which gives them 6 classes for the price of 5 and a special prize each class!

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Then in the afternoon I headed over the library with my oldest for a 3D printing class!  He was able to design a keychain that they will print out for him later to pick up!  He had a lot of fun working on the computer program too!  We actually were on the wait list for the program, but decided to chance it and go (a lot of times people do not show up that sign up).  We got lucky and got in!  Yeah!

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Our county library has a lot of great programs for the kids and they are FREE!  Can’t beat that!



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review: Discovery Kids Dinosaur Factivity Kit @ParragonBooks

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This month we got to take a look at the Dinosaur Factivity Kit.  This kit is much like last month’s kit Human Body Factivity Kit.  

This kit is $14.99 and includes a dinosaur skeleton to build and a dinosaur facts book filled with 128 colorful  pages of games, mazes and more!  There are over 50 activities in all. 

This was a HUGE hit with my dinosaur loving 5 year old!  He is a big fan of Dino Dan, and is always spouting off dinosaur facts.  This book has helped feed his curiosity and thirst for dino knowledge! 

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Highly recommended for the dinosaur lover in your life! 

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from Parragon Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give an honest review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review & #Giveaway: The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith #EasterRobin #FlyBy

Easter Robin Giveaway


About the book:

In the center of the nest lay one perfect egg, the color of a spring sky. The father robin sat on a branch nearby, guarding his family. Tressa spotted raccoon tracks below and a blue jay eyeing the nest. “Gran, how are we going to keep the egg safe?” “We’ll have to leave that one to the Creator,” Gran said. Robins have built a nest on the window ledge at Grandmother’s house! Tressa is thrilled―and concerned. What will happen to the sky-blue egg laid by the mother robin? As more eggs appear, Tressa witnesses the daily drama of the robins’ nest and learns how God cares for all creatures. Besides watching the birds, there are Easter eggs to color. And there is a very special story to hear―a tale of long ago about one small bird with a very big heart. How did the robin get its red breast? Tressa is about to find out as Gran tells her the story of the Easter robin. Brought to life with colorful, tender illustrations, The Legend of the Easter Robin will captivate and teach your child about compassion and faith.

Age Range: 4-8 years

Hardcover; 32 pages

Publish Date: January 26, 2016

My Thoughts:

This is a beautifully illustrated, spiritually uplifting book about Easter and the Crucifixion of Christ.  I had not heard of the legend of the Easter Robin previous to reviewing this book and I found the story quite lovely.  This would be a great book to add to your Easter and religious books collection for young children.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


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Monday, February 22, 2016

Stop Using Food as Rewards (They are Kids, Not Dogs!)

STOP Food as Rewards

This has really been bugging me lately, and I have been thinking this blog post out in my head for some time now.  I’m not sure how to best relay my thoughts on the matter, but I really feel like something needs to be said! 

Maybe it’s bothering me more as I have been struggling as we go through an ADHD diagnosis process with one of my children, but when did it become a ‘thing’ to reward kids with food?!?  And UNHEALTHY food at that?  When did a sticker or a high five become NOT GOOD ENOUGH that we have to give them a ‘treat’ each time they succeed at something? 

As a mother, who is trying to instill healthy eating habits in her children, I sometimes feel as if the world is against me!  Being a homeschooling mom, this was something that I thought would be easy to avoid.  After all, my children are with me the majority of the time.  However, I am finding it everywhere we go:  Church, Co-op, Music Class, Cub Scouts… it’s never ending!  They all consider it just one small treat, yet those small treats all add up to LOTS of small treats over a week! 

Obesity is an epidemic in The United States.  The statistics are alarming:

Yet, we continue to instill unhealthy eating habits in our children.  Food as rewards is just ONE of many unhealthy habits we are teaching.

I don’t expect my kids to NEVER eat junk food, I mean I believe everything in moderation.  However, I feel that we are instilling an unhealthy relationship with food in our children.  Why should every job well done be rewarded with [junk] food? 

How many of us as adults, go to junk when we are feeling down or blue?  Why is that?  Think about it, seriously, think about it!  What are we telling our kids we use food as a reward, as a feel good, pat on the back method? 

Then there is the problem of ADHD in general.  A large portion of kids in school today are diagnosed with ADHD, and I don’t believe that all of them deserve that diagnosis. 

I’m not denying that ADHD exists, I’m dealing with it now in my own child.  HOWEVER, how many of these cases are food related?  Have you seen the FREE breakfasts they give to lower income kids in school?  Many schools have started to restrict the giving of food in class because of food allergies, but the food they serve at school, alone, is enough to make kids not be able to sit in their seats!  Additionally, not every school has this practice. 

How many holiday parties are had?  How much junk is eaten at them?  Let’s take Valentines Day for example (since this was the most recent holiday).  We had a party at co-op, TONS of baked goods and other sweets at the party, many kids gave Valentines with sweet treats attached.  Then Sunday at church, the kids were given FUN DIP, along with other sweet treats from their teachers.  I had other adults, who love my children, give candy to them as well.  Just take a look at the ingredients in FUN DIP:
Dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup solidas, and less than 2% of citric acid, magnesium stearate, artificial flavors, blue 1, blue 1 lake, blue 2, blue 2 lake, red 40, red 40 lake, yellow 5, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6, yellow 6 lake.

I cringe at the site!  UGH!  Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, artificial flavors and artificial colors…. 

This is why food decisions should be left to the parent, I mean, obviously some people don’t have an issue with these ingredients.  But, I do!  That same week they received a reward in Piano that was a FULL SIZE candy bar! (My kids had never had a full sized candy bar in their lifetime, call me a bad mom!).  Now I’m stuck with the dilemma of having to confront the individuals (I always do kindly), bite my tongue or tell my children that next time they have to just say “No, Thank you”.  Neither of which are comfortable or fun situations to be in.

I’ve brought my concerns up with people in the past, I’ve agreed that occasional treats are okay (previously, they were throwing a candy at my kid each time they answered a question, or sat still, or whatever).  So, don’t get me WRONG, I am HAPPY that they have cut back, things are better.  At the same time, I don’t understand why this even has to be an issue? 

We don’t train kids with treats, they aren’t DOGS! 

Maybe I’m jealous, when all these people give my kids sweet treats, I become the bad guy to them.  We like to have occasional sweet treats at home, but with the large number they are given out side of the home we have had to limit them even more at home.  The problem is, that I have more control about what we eat at home.  Even though we have sweet treats, they are ‘healthier’ sweet treats than what they are getting outside of the home.  They are also limited and NEVER used as a reward!

I understand working towards a larger reward, I mean I used a sticker chart when potty training my oldest, and after so many stickers he picked a prize (a toy train).  Though still, why does the big reward have to be food (and again always unhealthy food)?  

What is the best way to handle this dilemma?  I don’t want to offend people, but I really don’t want them giving candy (or any food for that matter) to my children. More importantly, I do NOT want them receiving food as a reward! 

Have you been faced with this?  I honestly never thought this would be an issue since we homeschool and eat mostly at home.  But it seems every where we go they are giving unhealthy food to my kids!  I understand a small bit of what allergy moms go through now, except since my kids aren’t allergic…I’m just the pain in the butt mom that ruins everyone's fun!  

I think as a whole, people in this country are grossly undereducated about what is in our food and how it can affect us.  Ever put bad gas in your car?  It doesn’t run really well, does it?  The same goes for food and our bodies.  I don’t consider myself a health food nut, I really don’t (that form of extremism is not healthy either), but I do want my kids to have good food.  Additionally, I’m the one who has to suffer the consequences of the food these people give my children when we get home!  I want to enjoy my kids, it’s hard to do when they are climbing the walls, having emotional breakdowns, fighting, etc…  as a result of the poor food choices of other people.

Le Sigh!

I guess the problem also falls on where to draw the line?  As I write this I am planning a geography lesson for Co-op on Brazil and I planned to make some Brazilian sweets for the lesson.  It’s hard to break that cycle, so I get it.  It’s the food gifts and rewards that bother me the most though.  Overall, however, we could all stand to make better food choices!

The USDA points out that using food as rewards results in the following consequences:

*  Contributes to poor health
*  Encourages overconsumption of unhealthy foods
*  Contributes to poor eating habits
*  Increases preference for sweets

Therefore, as I finish my vent, I pledge to do a better job myself.  When food is offered in my classes (for learning purposes only) I will make more conscience and healthy choices, as if I were feeding myself or my family!

I’ve already planned to make a Paleo version of Brigadeiros for our Brazil lesson and some Paleo muffins for my other class.  This will also gave me a trip to the grocery store for ingredients!  WIN-WIN!

Now, if you choose to reward with food in your own home, that’s your choice.  The point of this post is that it shouldn’t be done with other peoples children.

Need ideas for NON FOOD rewards and gifts, here are a few to try:

Stickers
Tickets or Tokens (to cash in for other prizes)
Pencils, Pens, erasers or other school or art supplies
Media time
One on one time
Books (Reading, coloring, activity)
High Five or Hug (when appropriate)
Certificate, ribbon or small trophy
Verbal Recognition
Book Marks
Craft kits
Little Toys
Coupons
Money (reasonable amount)
Movie Night
Playdate with friend
Child’s choice of music, game, etc..

I know not everyone's idea of ‘healthy’ is exactly the same, but I think most can agree that candy is NOT healthy.  I just finished watching That Sugar Film (FREE on Amazon Prime Streaming) and it reinforced a lot of what I have learned doing the Whole30.  Recently (within the last year) the WHO changed its recommendations
for daily sugar consumption to 6 to 12 teaspoons a day.  4.2 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon, and one can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons! 

I highly recommend the film, it was very eye opening, and to be honest it’s the FIRST food documentary I have watched, I’m not one that generally watches things of that nature. (Though now I may watch more). The thing I found most interesting about the film was that it took place primarily in Australia.  We lived in New Zealand (comparable) for 4 months (about 6 years ago) and went through SUGAR withdrawals while there.  Their food is no where near as sweet as it is here in the USA, yet over consumption of sugar is still a problem there…how much more of a problem does that make it here then?

Another great one to watch is Fed Up available on Netflix!

One can easily say sugar in moderation is okay, however, when everyone is handing out sugary treats, moderation goes OUT THE WINDOW!   Never mind the fact that SUGAR is in almost EVERYTHING!  If it’s not sugar, it’s some form of sugar or artificial sweetener (which has the same effect on your brain). 

DISCLAIMER:  I want to point out that I DO NOT consider myself an expert or perfect by any means.  This is something that I have to make a conscience effort on every day of my life!  It is something that has come into play more recently, I do not expect everyone to share my beliefs on health food.  The thing I am most frustrated with is the giving of food as rewards/gifts.  This post is not intended to offend anyone, it’s just me thinking out loud and honestly looking for suggestions on how to handle the issue.  I can’t be the ONLY parent frustrated by this (or am I?  I certainly hope not!).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

5 Tips to Help You Succeed at #Whole30

Whole 30 Tips

1.  READ THE BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can not stress this enough!  It is so important to read the book, this entails you 1. are doing it correctly and 2. understand WHY.  Knowing WHY the rules are what they are makes it A LOT easier to follow them!  Follow not only the RULES but the Recommendations too!  It makes a HUGE difference for a successful Whole 30!

This is more than just Do Not eat xyz, there is a meal template, there is a no snacking rule (unless you eat a mini meal), if you read the book, you will know all these.  You do NOT have to get all grass-fed, organic, etc..  however, this is not affordable for everyone and is not a requirement for success of the program (I never did).

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2.  PRINT THE CHEAT SHEETS

W30 has graciously provided printable cheat sheets, PRINT THEM and CARRY THEM WITH YOU!

3.  SPEND SOME TIME LABEL READING IN YOUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE

Go to where you usually shop, take time to label read!  This may mean you have to go to the store WITHOUT your kids one time.  Once you realize what is available where you typically shop, it’s a lot less overwhelming!  Fresh fruits/vegetables and meats are a given, but you may find other items like pasta sauce, salsa, lunch meat, hot dogs, spices, etc…  It’s great practice at label reading, and it’s pretty reassuring when you see what you CAN eat and that it’s not so hard to find!

4.  ORDER MUST HAVES that you can’t find local

Amazon is a great resource, I order Mayonnaise, Salad Dressing, Raw Nuts and Seeds, Non-Sweetened Dried Cranberries and a few other things on Amazon.  They are more affordable, and I don’t have to store hop!  Otherwise, I shop my local grocery chain (Martin’s) and Costco.   If you have a Trader Joes or Whole Foods nearby, you most likely won’t have to order anything.

Tessemae's All Natural Whole30 Pack
Coconut Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce-8 Oz (Pack of 3)
Primal Kitchen Paleo Approved Avocado Oil Mayo, 12 Oz (1 Jar)
Sincerely Nuts Raw Cashew Pieces Unsalted- Three (3) Lb. Bag
Food To Live Organic Sunflower Seeds (Raw, No Shell)(2 Pounds)
SUNBEST Dried Cranberries 3 Lbs

5.  PREPARE before hand

Make sure you have what you will need, menu plan, run a few trial meals to work out the kinks before you DIVE in head first!  Failure to prepare is preparing to FAIL!  Search recipes, try things out, exclude a few of the NOs at a time.  I have the benefit at being home most days, so meals weren’t a big thing I had to prepare in advance.  Pick a day to prep for the week, so you aren’t left scrambling one morning.  If you are going out to eat, take the time to research the menu, and prepare yourself!  Pull meats from the freezer for dinner, so you are ready!  It makes all the difference in the world when you are PREPARED!!

My Journey

When I first decided to give Whole 30 a try, I bought the book and picked a date about a month out.  I paid attention to holidays that were coming, I started stocking up on necessary items (replacing non-compliant items with compliant as I used it up).  I choose to cut dairy, grains and legumes gradually after reading those sections of the book, and then started practice eating.  When my scheduled start date arrived, pretty much I only needed to cut the sugars and additives.  It made the transition so much smoother!

I joined a Whole 30 Facebook group too,  This was super helpful, make sure you join a group that is a stickler to the rules and recommendations though or you can easily be steered in the wrong direction (and since you read the book, you should recognize this!).  I have been in a few groups where they are posting smoothies and chia pudding pics…and while ‘technically’ compliant, they are against recommendations!

Whole 30 is a LIFE CHANGE PLAN, not a WEIGHT LOSS PLAN! 

The point of the program is to change you ENTIRE relationship with food, if you don’t follow it properly, you will not get these results!

If you fall off, get back up!

YOU CAN DO THIS!!

Other Whole 30 posts:

Round 1 Summary

Week 1 Meals

Week 2 Meals

Week 3 Meals

Week 4 Meals

My Whole 30 Pintrest Board

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