Wednesday, November 27, 2013

new(ish) stove

about 6 weeks ago
I noticed that the oven element was about to go out.
TJ (or was it Tyler? I forget) suggested ordering a new one
so that when it did die (or go up in flames, as was the case) we wouldn't have to wait for a replacement.
Which was a really  great idea.
I never got around to ordering one
before it burnt up less than 2 weeks later.

It took Brandon and I awhile to figure out for sure just which element we needed
(we were missing a few digits in the model number)
but we finally got one ordered and it arrived a few days later.

I'd been having suspicions about my left front element on the stove-top, too;
it seemed like it wasn't really heating properly,
like medium was low, but high was extra high sort of thing.
As usual, I'd just worked with it
and re-adjusted how I cooked on it.

About 2 weeks after we got the oven element fixed 
(which was a couple of weeks ago)
Tyler found a crack in the stovetop going across the front left burner.
well, crap!
I knew I hadn't dropped anything on it to break it,
so Brandon and I figured it had something to do with the burner acting funny.

We looked into replacing the glass top, but it cost almost as much as a brand new stove,
so that didn't seem prudent.
Tyler found a decent looking stove on craigslist for only $50 (which is a huge bargain)
but we decided to save the money and just keep our stove;
the oven worked fine
(I had a new element after all)
and I still had three burners,  so I would make do.

And then a few nights ago,
the crack spread to the rear left burner
and my favorite right front burner!

Of course, I suggested googling just how unsafe it would be to use the stovetop anyways.
But given my propensity to forget things
and the fact that I'd already had 2 pots of water boil over in the past week,
that didn't seem like a very wise option.

now I have a new(ish) stove / range whatever you want to call it.
(cost more than 50 bucks though. grr)

Terri - I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking - "Man, that sister of mine sure does go through the appliances!"
I think you're right.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Remember a few months ago, when I made my croquis?
Well, Penny was going to come over and help me take my measurements.
The day she was scheduled to come, 
was smack in the middle of my cycle.
Mid-cycle is even worse than PMS for me. 
(which is it's own 5-6 day little hell)
In addition to feeling all out of sorts,
I was so bloaty that my waist measured 1 3/4 inches bigger than my usual big measurement
so I texted her that we'd do it later.
But I was so disgusted with myself
and what those measurements would be,
that I never re-scheduled.

A few days after that,
Brandon had given Josiah a piggy back ride to the mailbox and back.
He mentioned that he was surprised how much harder the trip was
carrying that extra weight.
Josiah weighs about 54 lbs.
I said, "Yeah. That's pretty much how much extra weight I carry around all the time."

It's kind of shocking to think about. I carry around a whole extra (good sized) person. All of the time.

I am
of being

Right about that time, a friend started occasionally linking to the Trim Healthy Mama page on facebook
so I took a peek at it.
I'd heard of the book before, but since it was pricey
(and the authors are naturally tall and thin) I hadn't bothered to really investigate.
After a few weeks of stalking their FB page and checking out a few blogs, I ordered the book.

On August 25th
I started putting into practice what I learned in Trim Healthy Mama (THM from here on out).
It's pretty much how we've eaten for the past few years, with one exception.
THM recommends only a tiny bit of fat with carbs,
when we ate carbs,
we ate them with lots of fats.
I'd learned that fat slows the absorption of carbs, so there isn't an insulin spike.
In true Tracy form, if some is good, more is better....
In theory, that was good (and fine for a thin person)
but when you fuel your body with both fats and  (healthy) carbs in the same meal,
the fat fuels sorta gets 'locked in' while the sugar fuels get used up, making it more difficult to lose weight. 

In addition to 'single fueling'
(which, quite honestly I did most of the time anyways, simply because I don't eat a lot of carbs...)
I started working out a little.

I lost a few pounds.
I gained a few pounds.

I got discouraged and quit adding in the exercise, but I still ate properly.
Then my friend, Michelle,
whom I met  through Elizabeth's 'with needle and thREAD sewing circle' that I like to participate in,
wrote a post about getting fit.
I joked that her pursuit of fitness would get in the way of her sewing.
(I can't seem to do both...)
and it inspired me to suck it up and work out.
Even when I didn't feel like it.

Every single day, except Sundays, since October 18th, I have worked out.
Many of those days,
I have cried.
It has been so. stinkin. hard.
I've discovered that I only have about 5 days a month where my body cooperates with me,
and the scale is kind to me,
and I actually want to exercise.
(I have got to get my hormones balanced!)
On the bad days - I can only  do 5, or, 3, or even just 2 crunches before I have to rest.
On a good day, though, I can knock out 30 without stopping.

You like my sweet shoes? $3 at a yardsale. Bought 'em for Jeremiah, then tried 'em on. ahhh. so they became mine :-)
(I never ever would have thought I would ever wear black tennies!)

I've been frustrated and discouraged
because I'm not getting the results other people are.
The THM authors post success stories just about every day on facebook.
Those stories are why I bought the book.
Now, though,
I'm just being honest here,
those stories 
There are women who started doing THM the same time I did 
and they have lost 20 and even 30 lbs already.

I expected to lose somewhat slowly, because really,
I didn't drastically change my eating habits.
But I did expect to lose more quickly than I'm losing.
Which is silly
because it's always been very hard for me to lose weight...

Tyler keeps telling me to just keep doing what I'm doing
and eventually it'll all pay off.
And I do,
I am
(bless his heart - he has to listen to me whine and moan and fuss and cry 25 days a month, and brag the other 5 ;-)

While I'm not losing as quickly as I'd like,
or as much as I think I should be, given how and how much (or rather, how little...) I eat,
I am losing.

In the past 3 months,
I've lost 12 lbs.
(I'd lost another 5 previously, somewhere between going to the DR for my knee in June and when I weighed when I started THM.)
I didn't take any measurements 'til Oct 28th,
so my 'inch losses' are actually greater than what I've recorded
but in the past 4 weeks,
I've lost:
upper arms - 1/2 inch R, 3/4 inch L
upper bust - 3/4 inch
bust - 1 3/4inches
 (of course. Of course this is where I'd see my biggest loss. sheesh)
waist - none yet.
(What the heck?!) (I did have a loss of 1" prior to taking measurements 10/28 though. As a seamstress, I knew my waist measurement...)
hips - 1 inch
thighs - 1 inch each
calves - 1/2 in R, 3/4 in L

(It's interesting to note that in the 4 weeks that I lost the above inches,
I only lost 2 of the 12 pounds.
Makes me wish I'd taken measurements earlier.)

Most of my shirts look sloppy on me because they are too big.
I bought a few new ones. size m (What?!)
I had to buy a new pair of jeans, even with my elastic in the waist trick, they were too big and looked horrible.
The new ones are size 12
I haven't worn a size 12 in a dozen years.
(maybe even longer.)

I'm not really feeling any better yet,
although, some days, when I have lots of pure deep fats (coconut oil or MCT) my brain fog is lessened a bit.
I keep hoping that my hormones will level off,
but honestly, this past month was pretty awful.
Like I'm moving in the wrong direction...
I'm taking really good notes and will make an appointment with Dr Baker in Dec or January
to change up my prescription.

My heel still bugs me fairly often, but it's tolerable;
my knee has been pretty good for the most part.
Dr Bolyard  had told me the best thing I could do for it was strengthen my leg muscles - which I'm doing...

I am doing 75 squats, 75 crunches, (I started with waaaay fewer and have worked my way up) and 50 of the daily strength training exercises in our 8 Minutes in the Morning book every day (except Sundays).
I'll continue to increase the squats and crunches by 5 every week, 'til I hit 100.
I also do several 'bursts on the bike' (hop on the bike and go all out crazy fast for 45 seconds) 
but really should do more.
I've just started doing inverted and negative pull ups last week,
so someday I can maybe do a real pull up (that doesn't involve climbing the wall with my feet ;-)
And you already know I can do a 2 minute plank ;-)
(that would, of course, be on one of my good days ~ I don't even try to plank most days)

I still have a long ways to go.
But that's where I'm at right now.
Because I finally decided
I was
- you got it -
of being 

Special thanks to Emily, for encouraging me to buy THM,
and to Michelle, for encouraging me to exercise daily,
and of course to my family
for all of your support and help and praise and encouragement. XO

Sunday, November 24, 2013

new car smell

The other day,
Jeremiah said something about 'new car smell'.

Having never owned, or even been in a brand new car, I said, "I don't even know what new car smells like." 
Jeremiah replied,
And for us, cigarettes."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

black belt!

So proud of my boys hard work these past three years!

Brandon earned a black belt in TaeKwonDo today
and Jeremiah and Josiah passed their midterms with flying colors.
Great Job, guys!!

Way to go!!

If you want to see videos of the boys breaking their boards (and you really should! ;-) ) click on their names:

Many thanks to Meggy for taking these pictures for me!!! (Love you, Sweetie!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

colors of fall

My photography skills are seriously lacking - I know this.
But this fall our yard has been so pretty,
I had to at least try and capture a few of my views.
These pictures don't come close to capturing what my eyes see, but it's the best I could do.

You know,
when summer turned into fall, I was really quite bummed.
For starters,
I wasn't ready for summer to be over yet;
I still had things I'd wanted to do....
But also,
fall means winter is next.
And I'm really not ready for that!

We went out to Natural Dam a few weeks ago,
and the color had already peaked,
and many of the trees had already lost all of their leaves.
I was so sad - all the ugly is just right around the corner. pooh!

In addition to this fall being especially pretty, though,
it seems to be hanging on....

I guess that's why I've been especially grateful for the color that remains ~ it all feels like a glorious bonus to me.
(and the beautiful weather that has accompanied it at times has been a lovely bonus, too)

At least there will be a bit of color in the chicken coop this winter :-)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

8 things

There's this thing on facebook:
you get a number
and then you write that many things about yourself.
If someone 'likes' or comments on your post, you give them a number
and they write.....

Well, I very purposefully didn't 'like' or comment.
Until I did.
Here's what I wrote:

I was so careful to not ‘like’ or comment on any of these number posts and then, wham, I lost my mind for a second, 
and overwhelmed with missing my friend, coupled with her complete awesomeness, I commented. 
And as a result, I was given a number.  
 Which I thought was because I have birthed 8 children, but no, 8 is just Lisa’s favorite number ;-)

1.       I’m actually a yankee (don’t hate me) 
I was born in a suburb of Chicago and lived there for the first (almost) 10 years of my life.
When I hear myself speak, I’m always surprised by how ‘southern’ I sound.

2.       While I don’t exactly LOVE housework, I really don’t dislike it, 
with the exception of cleaning the floor behind the toilet – that job, I hate!

3.       I used to say,
 “I am so glad God didn’t call me to homeschool my children, ‘cause I would NEVER want to do that!” 
We are currently in our 13th year of homeschooling…

4.       I was 18 when I had my first baby, and 41 when I had my last. 
I feel less confident as a mother now, 
than I did when I was 18.

5.       I can do a 2 minute plank. 
Tyler says it’s more because I am stubborn and tenacious 
than strong. 
He’s prob’ly right :P

6.       I love when my children want to share something beautiful with me.  
I‘ll drop everything and run to the window when I hear, “Momma! You have GOT to come look at the sky.”
Even my grown kids (especially T) will text me when their sunset is especially pretty. 
I love that they notice beauty, 
and also that they know I’ll want to see it, too.

7.       It is impossible for me to choose a ‘favorite’ anything. 
There are just so many variables, ya know? 

Wait; that’s not entirely true ~ I was able to choose a favorite once. 
My man. I chose my favorite man.  

8.       It is also very nearly impossible for me to follow instructions exactly. 
I try, though. I really do. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I lied, but enough about me

I didn't mean to, but I did.

But I was wrong.
I still label them.
Only now, we have three labels:
The chickens, the babies, and the McC chickens (some friends gave us some chickens they no longer wanted :-)

But that's not the point.
The point is - two of my babies are laying!!
One - the little feisty white one - has been laying for about a week
and the other (we have no clue which one) laid her first egg today.
(the egg is a lighter brown with white speckles)

Baby eggs make me smile.


and the sweet (somewhat stupid) white hen,
the one I told you about in this post?

She's a he.

Monday, November 11, 2013

our Lola

I know I've bragged on Lola before.
I can't help it; she really is the perfect dog.
Now that we have Jack,though, she's endearing herself to us even more.

Jack needs watching pretty constantly when he's inside.
Sometimes, there just isn't someone available to watch him,
and now that he's getting older,
it doesn't really work to just stick him in his kennel.
So, we'll send Lola outside to play with him.
Sometimes she wants to go,
sometimes she doesn't - but she still goes anyways.
Like I said, she's a good girl.

the past few days Jack has been obstinate, and disobedient, and naughty.
And when we try to get him outside,
he won't go.
Not only will he not go, he'll run the opposite way and go under the dining room table
where it's hard to get him out.
Nobody said he was stupid! 
just naughty.
dear sweet Lola,
will get up from her comfy spot and go outside
- without being asked to -
so Jack will go out, also.
(which he does, immediately.)

Our Lola is positively the best dog ever.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

the gift of needle and thread

I once bought a cd called Twenty-four Hours is All You Get.
It was a talk (or series of talks) done by a homeschooling mom of many.
As you can imagine, it was about time management.

Fairly early on in the disk,
she talked about how she'd enjoyed sewing, but she didn't sew anymore;
she'd given it up,
because she needed to spend that time in training her children.
She was encouraging us to do the same.

I quit listening to that cd.


Towards the end of summer one evening,
I was laying next to the girls for few minutes before they went to bed.
I stroked Lily's beautifully suntanned arm.
"I was going to get all nice and golden like that this summer," I sighed.
(thinking, "but then I got burned and had to stay out of the sun...")
"I know," she said, commiserating with me.
 "If you didn't have your gift, you could have gotten all dark.
you have your gift.
So that keeps you busy. And you just don't have time to be out in the sunshine a lot.
Not everyone has a gift."
 (she's been watching lots of My Little Pony)
 "But you do.
Sewing is your gift."


Sewing is my gift.
And I am so grateful for it.
(There may come a time when God asks me to give up that gift,
but, by golly, it's going to have to be real clear to me before I do it.)


Like all of the other gifts I've been given,
I try to share this one, too,
and use my skills with a needle and thread to bless others.

I was texting with my sewing buddy a few weeks ago.
We were talking about what projects we have going on.
She's working on a quilt for her mom.
A memory quilt, with all of the fabrics chosen for a reason (not necessarily the aesthetics of the pattern).
She's got Elvis fabric.
green beans.
little crabs.
"If I don't get my mom's quilt finished, she won't even realize the significance of the material I chose for hers," I read.
Immediately, I got a lump in my throat.

Her mother 
was recently diagnosed
with Alzheimer's.

So I did what any good buddy with a gift would do;
I offered to share.
(Actually, truth be told, I had to get a little insistent with her ;-)
And over the course of a couple of weeks,
I put together a fabric puzzle
and made her quilt back for her momma's quilt 

sorry ~ I'd just snapped this real quick when I finished so I could text her.
Ya'll know how I like to text people crappy pictures ;-)
I love you, 'Net ~ I hope your momma remembers.

Linking up with Elizabeth's with needle and thREAD again. No books have been read lately :-(

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

random bits

Found these when I put pictures on the computer last week.
Brandon had taken the camera and tripod out one night when the moon was bright.

We haven't done trick or treating in years, 
and we didn't really have a plan for halloween this year,
but there was an expectation of candy. (duh!) and lots of it!

One of my favorite halloween memories
(save for all of the many fabulous halloweens spent with Scott & Jackie)
was one year when we lived in FSM:
The kids kept dressing up in different costumes and sneaking out of the house
and running around to the front door 
to 'trick or treat' again.
I suppose it sounds dumb.
But really, it was great fun.

Thursday, Tyler stopped by Walmart on his way home and bought several bags of candy
and a few Red Baron pizzas for the kids (he and I had salmon and broccoli).
Then he stopped by redbox and grabbed a movie.

Tyler and I divied up the candy and figured out equal distribution methods.
The kids decorated brown paper lunch sacks to put their candy in,
then went and put on some dress up clothes.
Tyler dressed up as a farmer
and went down to the shop.

While dinner was in the oven
the kids ran back and forth
between the house and the shop trick or treating.
Then we had dinner theater.

It wasn't pinterest-worthy.
but it was enough.

And they had fun.
And got plenty of candy :-)

Can I just say I am so sorry for people planning weddings in this pinterest era?
I am.
All that unattainable ridiculous hoopla....
I'm all for a properly festive environment to suit the occasion,
but really, it's all too much.

I also feel sorry for any young man wanting to propose to a young lady.
Why can't they just say, "I love you. I think you're beautiful. Will you marry me?"?

(I told you this was random)

This, I love.

our driveway in the fall, from the porch

This, too

the pond, on a fall afternoon. I wish I could capture it as I see it...

You know ~ people say, "You're going to miss this..."
I have to wonder if those people
a) had many kids
b) had those kids spread out over many years
'cause honestly, ya'll ~ I just really don't think I'm going to miss kids writing on things other than paper.

just in case there was any doubt, Brandon didn't write his name on a chair.

nobody knows who,
left Lily's bike out where it could get run over,
and it did.
(nobody knows who did that, either, although we sort of suspect our trash people)
I'm sad that just when she learned to ride a bike,
she lost it.

I am so, so not ready for cold dreary ugly outside.

I got a sweet pair of pants from Old Navy.
I went back and bought a second pair.
I love them so much.
If you come over any time between now and Spring - I'll be wearing one or the other.

I absolutely
go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

quick gumbo

gumbo is made by cooking a roux (a mix of flour and grease of some sort)
for a very long time.

Not being a fan of okra,
up until a year and a half ago,
I'd never made gumbo.
And I'd only eaten it once.

But Kacy's favorite meal was her momma's gumbo.
And I wanted to make it for her for her birthday.
So I contacted her mom, and begged her to tell me how to make it.
Kac' said it tasted really close to her mom's, so I guess I did good.
And it turned out that everyone enjoyed the gumbo.
Some more than others, but hey, I take what I get.

So - gumbo was added to the meal rotation.

But that darn roux.
First of all - it used flour, and secondly - it took so stinking long.
So I set out to make a gumbo that was good enough for Kacy,
but quick enough for me.
So, here's what I do now: (and it's got both Kacy's and my seal of approval!)

Pour a splash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
(lower if you're a slow slicer & dicer)
dice the following and toss 'em in the pot - stirring occasionally
an onion
a bell pepper
a few stalks of celery
and a few garlic cloves (these you can mince or crush however you normally do)

When your veggies are about half done
(if you've read many soup 'recipes' of mine - they all pretty much start like this ;-)
add chicken broth or stock to the pot - a couple of quarts worth - and switch the burner to high.

Add a can of petite diced tomatoes (that's a personal preference - your tomatoes can be diced however you like them)
some season all
Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning (this is a must - without it, you'll just have 'soup')
and a little bit of cayenne pepper. 
(more of these spices can be added at the table, so the soup isn't too spicy for non-spicy eaters)

Once the broth with veggies is boiling,
add a package of frozen sliced okra.
Then a bunch of cooked chicken.
(You could use a whole chicken's worth, but I usually just use dark meat and save the breasts for chicken salad)
And then, dice a package of andouille or polish sausage (my preference, but andouille is what the original recipe called for)
and add it to the pot
(this is very important, and kids may cry if you forget to buy the sausage.)

Just let it simmer a bit more, 'til all the veggies are done.
If the okra didn't sufficiently thicken up the broth, 
add a TBS or 2 of corn starch to some cold water and add it to the pot and let it cook a few more minutes.
(glocomannan would be a great thickener, too)

That's it!

Serve over cooked brown rice.
(You could easily add the rice to the pot, too.
Tyler and I only eat a little rice, and the kids can eat more, so we just add it to the bowls...)

(Jeremiah saw me working on this post and got all excited. 
Um. We aren't having gumbo for dinner. Sorry, Bud.
It's just - I didn't want to type it all up on my phone (again) for my li'l red-head ;-)
Love you, Kacy)