Friday, February 25, 2011

Hanging by a Thread

Those were the best words I could find to describe the current condition of my laptop. 

I have the power cord "attached" to the port by packaging tape.  I am typing very carefully.  I know at any second I will knock it loose and have to start over for the 8,439th time.

Our desk top that was running at a snail's pace earlier this week is no longer running.

All of our computers are going to the doctor on Monday, and I don't know when I will be back online.  I will probably miss my weigh-in but will catch you up asap.

Please enjoy some of my reader faves from the archives while my computers take a brief sick leave.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 21

Click the Wednesday Weigh-in tab
at the top of my home page
to join the weigh-in torture FUN!

I lost 0.7 of a pound,
bringing my weight-loss total (back) to 25.6 pounds!

That means I lost about half of what I gained last week which is really good considering I did not exercise this week at all.  I have been fighting a really bad cold for a week now.  Persistent coughing has kept me from sleeping well.  I averaged 3 hours sleep per night and I could barely talk without coughing.  I just didn't have the energy for the Gazelle and felt like deep breathing would cause me to cough so hard a lung might truly come up.

So it's slow going right now and will probably take me a full month to get back to where I was.  But no one said this was going to be easy or that in order to keep my commitment things have to go well and be rosy.

But that's where I'll stop today because
  1. I'm still coughing profusely.
  2. My computer is running at a snail's pace.
  3. The boys need to practice their speeches for tomorrow's 4-H Project Achievement, and I need to listen and give feedback.
  4. I have been verging on a bad mood all week and am really not in a place to be a motivational writer.   
Because it is taking me about 5 minutes to type every few lines, I won't type a list of prayer requests either.  Please pray for my typical requests.

Let me know how you're doing!

Happy Healthy Living!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count Summary

I started the new blog so I could take up less air time over here about birding. 

I promise. 

However, just once more, I wanted to let those of you who follow Olive Plants for the birding content know you can read all about our birding adventures at Birders for Life.

We participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend and saw a lot of interesting birds.

We saw 35 species on Friday, 35 species on Saturday (although there was a lot of overlap), and only 14 different species on Monday.  However, we counted nearly 1,000 birds on Monday and almost 1,500 birds in all!

Fly on over to read all about it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Birding 101 has moved....

If you have been following Olive Plants for my bird watching content, please check out my new blog that I coauthor with my fellow birding enthusiast, Heather.  Together we are The Birding Chicks, and our blog is Birders for Life.

I have moved Birding 101 to B4L and am adding in several new posts and updating the old ones to include even more tips!  I have feedburner set up now so that you can have our posts delivered directly to your inbox.  Please subscribe so you won't miss any of our tips and tweets!


Also, don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend.  It only takes fifteen minutes to participate; however, like eating a bag of Lay's potato chips, once you start, I'm sure you'll want to keep going! 

Click here for more info.

Lay's Potato Chips?!?  Why did I mention those??  If, like me, you are trying to rid your life of unneeded calories, join me for Wednesday Weigh-ins!

Read about how to join the weigh-in
torture FUN under my Wednesday Weigh-in tab!

And Heather is hosting a meme on her blog called Tweet and See.  To participate, keep a record of the birds you see and hear during the month then record your list on your blog on the last day of the month and link in at Kingdom Arrows.


Heather and Barb, the Harmony Art Mom, are also hosting a new meme, Drawing with Children, Nature-Style.  Barb has written lesson plans to accompany the book, Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks, and has made them available for free on Squidoo.  I am going to use these plans with my VSL.  They look great.  Thanks Barb!  Thanks Heather!

bird for button

Happy Birding and watch out for those potato chips!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 20

Click here to join in on the weigh-in torture fun!
For those of you wanting to join the weigh-in, please leave a link to your post in comments.  I have not had time to find a solution for Linky this week. 

Today is a day when I would like to put my hand up toward the computer screen, shake my head and say, "I don't want to talk about it."


However, I made a commitment to do this.  To be real.  To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So here goes...

I gained 1.5 pounds this week
which lowers my weight-loss total to 25 pounds.

This is the first week I have gained in 20 weeks, and there is a simple reason why.

I did not follow my own advice.  I only made it to MFP once this week and did not carry my food journal with me. 

I was way too busy this week, too.  In the mere seven days since I last reported, I have done the following:
  • Lead a monthly mom's meeting
  • Take Orville to the orthopedist
  • Attend the circus
  • Coordinate a Valentine's Day skating party for over 100 people
  • Attend a second Vday party
  • Lead a science fair committee meeting and finalize registration
  • Add a new flute student to my schedule
  • Assist the boys in setting up their science fair projects
  • Start a new blog and post 3 articles
  • Have an article published at MMCW
  • Prepare an extra-special Valentine's Day meal for my family
  • Tutor or teach flute every week day due to make-up lessons and rearranged schedules for all those meetings and parties!
Oh yeah...

... and there was this thing called homeschool, too.  And somewhere in the midst of all that, I cleaned the house, put together curricular plans for next year, and began registration for classes my husband and I will teach next fall.


Valentine's Day was much more difficult to navigate than Thanksgiving and Christmas were.  All of my students gave me boxes of chocolates and they served me chocolate cake while I tutored them.  When a precious child hands you a big red heart filled with chocolate goodness and tells you they love you while smiling from ear-to-ear, you just have to eat some chocolate. 

I gained that weight for the cause of love.

That makes it sound much more noble, doesn't it?


Well anyway, today begins a new weight-loss week for me, and I am thankful for a fresh start.  It is a reminder of God's grace and how totally dependent upon and indebted to Him I am. If I had to earn favor with Him, I would be doomed.  However...

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost. 
But I received mercy for this reason,
that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience
as an example to those
who were to believe in him for eternal life. 
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible,
the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. 
1Tim 1:15-17

How thankful I am for His perfect patience toward me, that He loves me and I have favor with Him as imperfect as I am.  I can't even stick to a diet perfectly when losing weight is what I most desire for myself.  My weakness causes me to stand in awe of the greatness and perfection of Christ.  Only He is worthy of our praise. 

So this week I will seek the grace to start anew.  The house has been purged of chocolate (I let the boys eat the rest!), and I have my journal close at hand.  I will be seeking extra measures of grace daily, more likely moment-by-moment, to get back on track and do what I know needs to be done. 

Please pray for me this week as follows:
  1. For perseverance.  I don't want discouragement to creep in and defeat me.  Pray for God's protection on my thought-life, that I won't "beat myself up" but will just get back to doing what works.
  2. For rest.  This week really was too much, and most of it was my doing, meaning there were things on my schedule that did not have to be there.  We have a nice weekend planned to enjoy the Great Backyard Bird Count as a family.  M has Monday off from work, and it looks like the weather is going to be lovely.  I think a few slow days of bird watching will do me some real good.  Pray that I will be refreshed.
  3. For wisdom.  Most weeks are not as busy as this past week; however, there are a few things on my schedule that have to go.  The tutoring business is growing for both M and me, and this is something that we have a family vision for doing.  We are praying about what existing commitments have to be removed to make that possible.
  4. For a replacement.  I have asked someone to serve as the support group president next year.  I have served for almost 2 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it, but it seems this is one of the things that has to go for the sake of the family business.  I am asking the Lord to send someone to replace me.
  5. For good health.  Strep and stomach viruses are moving through our community.  Orville is in bed today sick.  Pray that this will pass through our house quickly and won't keep anyone from enjoying our bird watching weekend.  Pray also that fevers will break and Orville will be able to keep down some food and liquid.
  6. For my friends.  I look forward to reading their reports; however, a couple of them are going through rough patches with issues facing their families far more serious than my busy schedule and our viruses.  Pray for them to receive extra measures of grace and that their faith would be increased through these circumstances. 
  7. For this blog.  Though my blog may just seem like a weight-loss blog as of late, it is really about me learning to enjoy God while glorifying Him, even in the mundane, even when things don't go my way, like this week's weigh-in.  I pray that all who read and participate in this meme will taste and see that the Lord is good.
Happy Healthy Living!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Managing a Calorie Budget

Mentoring Moments for Christian Women published my article on weight-loss strategies today.

You can read it here.

Thank you to Kellie and everyone at MMCW for including me in your great publication!

If you are an Olive Planter, please check out their wonderful site dedicated to mentoring and encouraging Christian women in their roles as wives and mothers.

MM button

If you are visiting from MMCW, thank you for stopping in!  Please pull up a cyber chair and make yourself comfortable.  I hope I will see you around often! 

If you are interested in joining me for Wednesday Weigh-ins, please click here for info on how to get in on the torture fun!

I mean FUN!

Really, I do!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I just blogged to say...

On Feb. 14th each year, I turn into a sappy sentimentalist. 

Nineteen years ago today, my husband, who was my guy friend whom I thought was really cool at the time, gave me two roses and an original poem.  He couldn't quite get the words out as he handed me the flowers but later "just called to say 'I love you'". 

He's called me just to say those three words regularly since then.

Yesterday we celebrated Valentine's Day early with our traditional steak and shrimp dinner.  While we ate, we told the boys stories of our relationship and let them know how much we love each other and them.  I played an old mixed tape that Michael made for me when we were courting, and we all giggled at the sound of Daddy's 20-something voice.  I got teary-eyed as the young man on the tape talked about how he could love me because of God's love for us.

This morning I played my favorite love song on YouTube and danced with my two little Valentines, Orville and Wilbur.  I let them know that I could love them because of God's love for us.

They laughed at Stevie Wonder's corded telephone.

Ah...isn't love grand?!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!  I just blogged to say "I LOVE YOU!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Teaching a VSL: Tip Number 2

What is a VSL?  That's a complicated question to answer, but here's a start: A right-brained, highly creative learner who thinks in pictures rather than words.  You can read more about them here

Usually, my VSL dreads the study of history about as much as any rational person would dread a root canal.

And his handwriting assures me that he is destined to be a doctor. 

A REALLY good doctor.

While perusing the offerings of one of the vendors at GHEA's conference last year, I stumbled upon this little gem...

I was looking for resources to add more artwork into our school day.  One of my VSL's more obvious traits is his need to draw or doodle.  You can find his work in a variety of places around our home (including walls and furniture when he was younger; truth be known, I still have to keep an eye on him). 

When I first saw Draw and Write through History, my first thought/hope was that it would motivate him to improve his handwriting.  It is not a handwriting program per se; however, it includes copy work assignments.  I wondered if the marriage of art and writing would help him.

In short, it has.  He is beginning to see that writing is like drawing.  In the same way he has to use certain strokes of the pencil to sketch a pyramid, he must use particular strokes to form letters. 

Over the years, I have used a variety of handwriting programs with him, all of which teach those exact procedures.  However, there is something special about VSL thinking.  Step-by-step procedure often creates stress and difficulty, at least it does with my VSL.  However, a creative environment decreases stress and increases productivity.  The way Draw and Write through History inserts copy work between several pages of art instruction has caused something to click in his brain and his handwriting has improved more than it ever did with any procedural handwriting program.  It may be that the application created a place for the previous instruction to finally click, but whatever the case, there is improvement and I give Draw and Write two big thumbs up!

The second benefit of this book is that he now has a form of communicating his history knowledge other than speaking and writing, both of which require the use of lots of words and frustrate him.  He can draw intricate pictures that show me just how much he knows about a topic.  He is beginning to see history as less of a chore and more of an enjoyment which has increased his desire to read more and even to try his hand at writing about history topics. 

He completed the first Draw and Write book, Creation through Jonah, this week and is EXCITED to begin the second on Greeks and Romans.  And he has asked me questions like...

Will I get to draw the Trojan Horse? 

Do you think it will show me how to draw the Parthenon? 

I really want to draw the Colosseum; will it show me how?

There is historical knowledge in that brilliant mind of his!  It has been avoiding the light of day for a long time, and I am so happy to have found a resource that brings it out so readily!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 19

Join in on the weigh-in torture fun!
Click here for more info on how to participate.

I lost 1.4 pounds this week,
bringing my weight-loss total to 26.4 pounds!

I went to the doctor for an annual check-up yesterday and I weighed two pounds less than I had been registering at home.


Seeing how losing two pounds between breakfast and lunchtime is almost impossible and my scale was registering a little bit of a gain, I realized something had to be amiss at home.  It took some pondering but I finally realized that my digital scale probably needed a battery change.

I put in new batteries and VOILA!

Down went the pounds. 

So my tip this week...

Make sure your scale has fresh batteries!!!

Other good news is that all my health report "numbers" were way down, if down is good, or way up, if up is good.

It was the best physical I've had in a LONG time which felt really good.  I can't believe the difference 26 pounds has made, and getting a good report was a great motivator to keep losing.  Good health really is my goal with this diet, and it was good to get two thumbs up from the doctor.

I really look forward to next year's report and encourage you to have a physical, too!  It's another way to gauge progress, the most important progress at that. 
Here are my prayer requests for the week:
  1. Continued improvements in my health.  Cholesterol, glucose, etc. are good.  My vitamin D levels are much improved, too.  However, I had a terrible pain flare up this week.  I had difficulty walking it was so bad.  I am more and more convinced that the source of my pain is not related to vitamin levels or weight. 
  2. I have an article due to be published on Mentoring Moments for Christian Women about my weight loss strategies.  Pray for God's blessing.
  3. That God would continue to shape my character through this process and help me to be an encourager and good example.
  4. For my friends who are dieting with me.  Pray specifically that they would be able to reap the rewards of consistency in their exercising.  Pray that they would not be discouraged and would see small losses as victories.
Happy Healthy Living!

I forgot to add Linky again this morning.  I am not awake enough to be a good hostess at 6:30 a.m.!  I just went to add a linky and learned my service now requires a paid subscription.  I won't be able to provide a linky this week but am looking into alternatives and will hopefully have it up and running by next week.

Until then, please leave a link to your article in comments.  Thanks!  :) Dawn

Monday, February 7, 2011

How It All Began

In the next few weeks (maybe months) I will be moving a lot of my bird watching content over to my new blog which I co-author with my friend Heather.  It is my intention to add new content as well, in particular teaching tips.

Today I posted a new article about How It All Began.  The story of how we started bird watching with the Counter-cultural School family is one that is near and dear to my heart, and I felt it was a story which needed to be told. 

Heather posted a great tip on identifying birds by call.  Hop on over to read it, too. 

Together Heather and I are the Birding Chicks, and we have started our new blog, Birders for Life, to help other budding bird watching enthusiasts and to help our readers teach this pastime to their children as well.  We have other exciting plans for the blog, too, but that will have to wait for another day....

Subscribe to our new blog
so you won't miss
any tweets or peeps!
I think you'll like what
we have up our sleeve!

Happy Birding!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

International Festival 2011

Our support group hosts an international festival each year.  Participating families select a country to study and create a project board about that country.  We also prepare traditional food to share with each other.

Costumes are optional, but our family loves to get dressed up.
This year Orville (not pictured) dressed as a tomb raider.  He wore all black and a Zorro mask.  Wilbur (left) bought the King Tut headdress with money he earned from helping me make soap (his choice) from Party City.  I cut a yellow twin flat sheet to make his robe.  I also cut the blue sash from a flat sheet and added beads with fabric glue.

I made my Cleopatra headdress from felt and attached strands of beads with packing tape (on the inside so it's not visible).  My dress and robe are my living room curtains. 

Yes, you read that right.

I went all Sound-of-Music and draped my drapes around me and then pinned them in place with safety pins.  And yes, I had seriously heavy amounts of make-up on.

This is our display board.
For our display, Wilbur drew the pictures of the ten plagues on the left side of the board as well as the pictures of Joseph, Moses, the pyramid, the sphinx and the sarcophagus in the middle.  He also sketched the map of Egypt on the right side of the board.  Orville wrote the text and colored the pictures of the Egyptian gods.

We included Psalm 135 in the top middle, an appropriate Psalm about God's sovereignty, power and covenant keeping and explaining how the false gods of the world are nothing.

Wilbur and I constructed this pyramid from foam board.
He measured three triangles of equal dimensions.  I cut them out (I'm to blame for the zig-zaggy sections!) and then we taped them together with packaging tape.  I mixed sand with brown tempera paint, and he applied two coats.  Once dry, he painted the gold cap with yellow tempera mixed with gold glitter.

Meanwhile, Orville researched the pharaohs of the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt and typed a short report for 5-6 Pharaohs from each period.  He printed his reports along with pictures from wikipedia and glued them to the pyramid once it was dry.  Each side was designated for one of the three periods.

In the above picture,
you can see the food we brought
(or at least the bowls).
That is Sweet Egyptian Couscous on the platter.
One bowl contained Chick Pea Salad and the other melon.

The boys decided to make paper clothes for two of their plush toys.
This Audubon owl is "Hoot"ankhamun.

Get it?

Tutankhamen, Hoot-ankhamun.

What a hoot!

This Webkinz cat was named in honor of
the only female pharaoh, Hatshepsut.

It was a great festival, and we had a lot of fun!  We learned a lot in the process, too.

However, I am still recovering from the flurry of activity, mounds of paper scraps in the classroom and office, watermelon splatter on the kitchen floor from where I dropped a quarter of one melon and it slammed fruit side onto the floor, little trails of sand all around the dining room floor, powdered sugar fingerprints all over the kitchen cabinets and beads rolling around me everywhere I step.

Oh, and I still need to go wash and hang my curtains!

Happy Homeschooling! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 18

Join the Wednesday weigh-in team!
Click here for details on how to participate.
This post has been edited to include Linky at the end.   
My apologies to anyone
who wanted to link in and couldn't. 
I must not have been fully awake
when I published this morning!! 
Link away!

This week I lost 0.6 of a pound,
bringing my weight-loss total to 25 pounds exactly!

Oh yeah!

Happy Dance!

Whoop!  Whoop!

Does lightly bouncing (as not to agitate sciatica) while seated in your office chair and gently waiving your arms (as not to throw out your back) count as daily exercise???

I  F--I--N--A--L--L--Y  made it to 25 pounds!

I am more than a third of the way to my goal weight!  Can you tell I'm happy?

In fact, I am going to reward myself with a $5 present.  To date, I have let the weight loss itself be the reward, but it's getting harder and I want to keep myself motivated.  A bloggy friend of mine (whom I would happily credit and link to except she is remaining anonymous about her diet and I respect that) asked me how I plan to reward myself for reaching the 25 pound mark.  I had not given it much thought, but after reading her suggestions, I decided a little extrinsic motivation couldn't hurt!  :)

The important goals for me are 30, 40, 50 and 60 pounds, so that is when I will give myself the better rewards.  Each of those amounts are significant not just because they are nice round numbers but are also milestones.  When I reach each one, I will be able to say I haven't weighed this since...

So here is the reward plan....
  • 30 pounds: a new outfit (I will probably need some new clothes by then anyway.  My jeans are getting pretty baggy.  After 5 more pounds, I will either have to go with the ever-popular sagging look, buy suspenders, or purchase some new pants.  I think the last is the best of the three options.)
  • 35 pounds:  $5 to spend as I wish
  • 40 pounds:  $20 to spend on soap making tools
  • 45 pounds:  $5 to spend as I wish
  • 50 pounds: something new for my kitchen (I know this is vague but I have a couple things in mind and want to take some time to decide.)
  • 55 pounds:  $5 to spend as I wish
  • 60 pounds:  a new camera
My husband told me to be careful with that last one. 

We all know that the camera adds ten pounds.

Hardy, har, har....

How about you?  How are things going?  Do you have any goals you want to share or ways you plan to reward yourself?

You are in my prayers daily.  Please pray for me in the following ways:
  1. Increased and consistent motivation.
  2. I split my workout into two sessions daily and am liking it better that way.  I still need extra measures of grace in this area though.  I would much rather sit and make a plan than enact it.
  3. For the furthering of my sanctification, particularly concerning the all-or-nothing syndrome.  I am learning to serve the Lord while doing things I don't enjoy with as much gladness as when I am doing things I do enjoy.
  4. Continued relief from migraines- Both Michael and Wilbur have experienced significantly fewer headaches in the past two weeks.  Praise the Lord!
  5. For my friends who are dieting with me.
  6. That I would glorify God and enjoy Him while dieting, exercising and publishing the results.
Happy Healthy Living!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tweet and See

Visit Kingdom Arrows to join in on the bird watching fun!
In honor of Heather's new meme for bird watching enthusisasts like me, I have launched a new blog, Birders for LifeHop on over to read the list of birds we identified in December and January. 

We added a new bird to our life list, saw one of our favorite birds while stuck on the interstate, and spotted an uncommon bird while waiting in line at Wendy's.  It was a very interesting birding month!

You can tweet and see, too.  Visit Kingdom Arrows for all the details!

Happy Tweeting!