Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taking Charge of the Grocery Budget

Why is it everytime I step into a grocery store the prices have gone up??? The rising grocery prices have been making it a challenge for feeding my 3 growing boys and "picky eater" hubby! I usually try to stick within a $550/month budget for groceries every month, but it has become more and more challenging to stick within the budget. I have come to the conclusion that we are going to have to get more consistent in making more of our food from scratch.

We are very good about cooking from scratch for dinner and breakfast, but many times lunch is "Convience" foods and snacks tend to be store bought(Trader Joes or Aldi's) and can get costly. I do make Homemade Crockpot Yogurt, Homemade Smoothies, Snacks for the Week, and homemade Bread using a bread machine. All of those do save us money, especially being prepared a head of time. I am also very very consistent in Menu Planning which also is a huge money and time saver. I have been doing some research and have found some more ideas for snacks and meals that are going to save us money.

My plan is do grocery shopping on early Saturday mornings, even before others in the household are up and moving. I am an early riser and like to get things done early in the morning, so the rest of the day is free. I shop at 3 or 4 stores to get the best products and sale prices each week. I prefer to do the shopping alone because when others are with me they cost me more money by adding in things not on my list. I would like to have a "cooking and prep" day on Saturday afternoon and late Sunday evening. I have lots of homemade snack ideas listed on the bottom of my Menu plan each week, although all those ideas don't seem to happen. I really need to be consistent and make homemade snacks, not only for the money savings, but for the 'healthier" factor. I found a really Pinterest Board for Homemade Snacks today and I am going to use some of the ideas from there, the items I already have chosen and others as I begin more research.

I am going to be ordering a Food Dehydrator later this week and in about a month purchasing a chest freezer. We don't have a lot of freezer space as we have a basic top freezer type of Fridge, so having that extra freezer space, we can prepare lots of things and freeze some if it can be frozen. I will also be able to stock up when meat or other items are on sale. I know both of these items will help us save money also. I also plan on getting back to "couponing" again. I started couponing in '98, but let it go a few years ago, but I feel it is becoming necessary to start up again.

I am very much looking forward to seeing how successful I am at this new plan. I am beginning it on Saturday October 1st, as that is the next day I will do my grocery shopping and it is the start of a new month! I am very open to any books, ideas, websites or blogs that anyone can suggest to help me in my quest. I am a pretty good researcher, but everyone can use a little help sometimes!!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Anxious for October 1st

Why is October 1st a "Good Date" for me??? October 1st is the "end of summer" for me. Summer is my favorite season of the year because I like being outside and doing outside activites! I always make my summer last until October 1st.

The summer things I don't let go of until October 1st: Sandals: I wear my Sandals everywhere until October 1st, no gym shoes or closed toes shoes for me before then. Jeans: I don't wear jeans for long sleeves until October 1st. Capris and Shorts until October 1st. Summer Treats and Drinks: I love my SunTea and Cold Treat, so no giving those up until October 1st. Backpack Purse: I prefer to be "hands free" in the summer because we are always on the move and walking lots of places, so I use a "Backpack Purse" from May until October 1st. I just continue "Everything Summer" until October 1st!

I do get anxious for October 1st to come right around the last week of September. I look forward to "Fall Baking". Pumpkin Bread is a favorite around here and I start "craving" it around now. I look forward to "Comfort Foods". We have weekend tradition beginning the weekend in October. We always have a Soup and Bread night on Saturday night, having a different soup and bread each weekend. We will many times make enough that we have it both Saturday and Sunday night. I look forward to our Annual Apple Picking Day at Garwood Orchards in LaPorte, IN. Our family has been going to Garwood Orchards for 7 years now and we LOVE IT!! I look forward to Hot Drinks. I love Hot Tea and Hot Cocoa, no coffee for me! Have NEVER had it and have no interest in it. I always make Homemade Instant Hot Cocoa Mix. I make a "Sugar Free" version for myself and then a regular version for the rest of the family. Budget 101 has some great recipes for "making your own" of lots great everyday items! It takes exactly like the store bought version, without the cost. A container lasts us from October until Mid March! I look forward to Family Fun Activities for Fall and the Holidays. Living in a Big City like Chicago, there is always something fun to do. I also like that there are many FREE activities to enjoy here! I also look forward to watching the boys have fun with the falling leaves. I don't particularly like the falling because that is true sign of Fall, but the boys enjoy it. Hubby always teasing me at the sight of the leaves changing colors because he knows of my "saddness' over that!

I know you all are thinking crazy, but when you live in the Chicago area, summer is something you "relish" because of cold winters. I am also "stubborn" and don't want to let go of Summer, so I always make October 1st my first day of summer.

I will miss all my summer things, but it will be May in Chicago before long again and for now I begin to get anxious for October 1st, so I can enjoy "All Things Fall"!!  

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Superficial Phlebitis

The picture above is a good description on how I spend my nights and some weekends. Sitting in a big chair with my feet reclined/propped up due to Superficial Phlebitis. I am sure my Facebook and Twitter friends are "tired" of hearing about my leg issues. LOL LOL LOL

I am very very lucky that I am in general good health. I very rarely get "sick" as in Winter colds and such. I have a yearly check up and bloodwork and all my numbers are in the healthy range. I have had an EKG recently and my heart is in good health. I do worry about potential Health problems like Heart, Kidney and Diabetes as they do tend to run in the family. I am trying to do my best to prevent those issues, the most important thing to prevention is losing weight, which I really need to start on, like yesterday. Procastination is one of my weaknesses though. All in all, I am general good health.

I do have one issue that has been bothering me a lot lately. I was re-diagonsed with Superficial Phlebitis last October. What is Superficial Phlebitis?? Basically the Veins in my leg are coming to close to surface. Superficial Phlebitis causes tingling and the leg is red and warm to the touch. I had it for the first time when I was pregnant with my youngest in 2004. I was told it would go away after giving birth, which it did, but it could return at anytime in the future.

I started having issues again last September after taking a fall in the kitchen at our church on August 27th, 2010. I was officially re-diagnosed last October and been having issues since then. I have been to the Dr. numerous times since then only to be informed there really isn't a cure and the best treatment is "rest the leg by propping it up". I do have a wonderful Chair and Ottoman, but to tell a mom of 3 busy boys to "rest the leg" isn't just going to happen. I also like to get and do things and be on the go, so more often then not the leg isn't getting rested. I was also told walking and stretching it would help, but that only makes it 10x worse. I like to go out walking with the boys and I still do, because I have to keep them busy! My nightly routine now includes taking 2 Ibuprofen at around 7pm and propping my leg up on the ottoman with a Rice Sock. I am one who tries to not take too many over the counter meds or meds in general, but the Ibuprofen helps so I take it!

The past 3 days have been really frustrating in dealing with this. We had an awesome day at the Zoo on Thursday and had a load of fun. We were there for about 5 1/2 hrs and did a ton of walking. I wasn't in any pain until we came home and OH MY!! my leg was swelled up "crazy big" and my leg was super tingly. I took some ibuprofen and propped the leg up on the ottoman. Friday all day was a bad day also, still hurting a lot. We had to take a "sick day" from Homeschool because of the leg and my oldest was also sick. Saturday I was feeling a bit better, I was even able to sit at the computer and get some things done for a couple of hours. I had my leg propped up on a step stool under my computer desk. I took my "nightly" dose of Ibuprofen and got things ready for church this morning and got stuff ready for "Lesson Planning Sunday" and relaxed in my chair for the night. I woke up this morning and my leg was in a lot of pain. The second my foot hit the floor the leg was tingling a lot and was warm to the touch. I was in a lot of pain, which is not normal in the morning. Mornings are normally better for me, but this morning I just couldn't even barely walk. Hubby and the boys got up and went to church and left me home alone. I sat in my chair, legs propped up on the ottoman all morning. I kept entertained by watching TV and reading a book all morning. I have taken 3 doses of Ibuprofen today, when I normally only need one dose a day.

I have a Drs. appointment on October 6th, that is the soonest I can get an appointment. The appointment is with my new Resident Dr and my long time Attending Dr. I am going to request a referral to a Specialist for Vein issues. I am hoping if I see someone who specializes in Vein issues we can get a clearer treatment plan in place. I want to better understand Superficial Phlebitis and what I can do to feel more comfortable. I do not want to "live" on a daily dose of Ibuprofen. I want to be active with my boys and I also want to be active for myself. Our family is going to be rejoining the local Y soon and I want to be able to participate without hinderance.

I am very grateful that I am blessed with Good General Health. I am praying that I can get answers soon as to my leg pain!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Field Trip: Brookfield Zoo

I enjoy getting "out and about" with the boys and family. The weather last week was awesome and my dad called and wanted to go to the Zoo. My dad enjoys the Zoo tremendously. He rents an Electric Scooter at the Zoo due and he can go all day then. I have a Family Membership at Brookfield Zoo, so it is FREE to get in and many other FREE attractions once we are in. Thursday was Zoo Day for us, we packed a lunch and off we went that morning!

We arrived at 10am, when they open and our first stop was the Children's Zoo. The Children's Zoo hasn't changed much since I was a little one, just that it isn't as busy as it used to be. The Children's Zoo has lots of Farm animals and even a Barn. The Barn has daily Milking Demonstrations of either Cows or Goats. They also have an incubator for hatching the chicks. The Barn used to have so much more, but they closed off the upper level of the barn a few years ago when they opened a different Family Center at the Zoo. Here are some pics of the Children's Zoo fun:

Our next stop was the Dolphin Show. The boys LOVE LOVE LOVE the Dolphin show. I remember enjoying it as a child and still do. We have to sit in the front row because my dad is in the ECV. The boys think that is great because there is a greater chance of getting "splashed" by the dolphins. I am so glad we didn't get splashed this time, but the boys were disappointed. LOL The Dolphin Show is only about 15 minutes long, but so worth the time!

Lunchtime was next. We found some picnic tables near the Dolphin Show area and sat down and unpacked lunch. We had lunch and the boys wanted to play in the park inside the Zoo about 100Ft from the picnic tables. My dad told them they had 15 minutes and sent them off. Danny decided that he wanted to "follow" the Geese that were in the field next to the Park area. He was even trying to "mimic" their walk. I was laughing so hard because it was sooo funny! He can even make the same noise they do so they were "talking" to each other for a while! I had to take some pics to share:

The boys wanted to take "Papa" to the Great Bear Wilderness area next, so we headed there after lunch. The Great Bear Wilderness area just opened in 2010 and it is an amazing place. It was built to be a more natural enviroment for the animals and it really does a great job at it. The area contains Bisons, Bears, Wolves and more. We went to the Bear area. The inside has some viewing windows for the Polar Bears and for the Brown Bears. The Brown Bears are a set of twins born in 1995 and they have been at the Zoo since right after they were born because their mom was killed in an accident in Alaska where they are from. The Bear House had quite a bit of people in there watching the Polar Bear, thinking he was going to get into the water. We were all watching and I turn around for a quick minute and see the Brown Bear standing up in the pool in his area. I had NEVER seen a Brown Bear stand up and it was an AMAZING sight to see, so I rushed my boys over there and everyone else came over to watch. The Brown Bear "entertained" the audience for about 10 minutes. He was swimming, sitting in the pool, standing straight up, walking in the water, climbing on the rocks. The bear was just AMAZING, doing things many people had never seen a Brown Bear do before. My dad was completely amazed and said he had never seen many of the things the bear was doing. Josh took a video, but it is too long. I took some pics to share:

We visited a couple other "houses/exhibits" and then start heading to the South Gate. Danny loves the Baboons, and that happens to be on our way to the South Gate. We get to the Baboon exhibit and there are only 2 Baboons in the whole area. Nate and Danny run to the side where the Baboons are to get a close look. I stay at the other side to take pics and I was so glad I did. Danny had a drink in his hands and one of the Baboons got up and walked closer to the boys and sat down and stared up at them. He moved a few steps closer and continued looking up. I told Danny the Baboon wanted some of his drink to go ahead and dribble some down. Sure enough, that it what the Baboon wanted. Danny dribbled, and the Baboon enjoyed! It was sooo funny! Of course I took pics to share:

We have been to Brookfield Zoo many, many times but I must say Thursday's visit was sooo much fun! I think the Brown Bear and Baboons made it so entertaining and fun. The whole day was just amazing!!

I am looking forward to more Field Trips with the boys very soon, including a visit to Lincoln Park Zoo downtown. The boys have only been there once, but it is a great zoo also. They have a Penguin House that is going to be closing soon for renovation and I want to see it as I remember it one more time before it closes! The boys also want to go to Museum of Science and Industry and some of the other fun places here in Chicago soon! Field Trips are amazing!!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 3

I love when we have a good week! We had a productive week and I am so happy.

The week started for me on Sunday. I decided last week to take the oppurtunity to do Lesson Planning at the Library on Sundays and it was a success! I was there for about 3 1/2 hrs and it really made a difference in my concentration and getting things done. I was able to print things I needed printed, checked out books that we would be needing this week and got it all done.

Monday: I began the day by showing the boys their Schedule Grids and how things were going to "get down to business" this week. Josh, 9yrs old, protested and refused to do school. He wanted just to dive into "regular school stuff", didn't want to do Exercising, Bible or Mystery of History. He decided not to participate in school that day. I explained to him that he would have to double up on his work the next day and also confess to his father at dinner time. The younger 2 and I completed our school day and they were excited about following the schedule grid and doing school.

Nathan Working hard
Nate working Hard

Danny says "Nooo pics"
Danny working hard, Doesn't want his pic taken

Nate the thinker
Nate thinking hard

Tuesday: We had an amazing day! We completed our entire schedule for the day and the boys were cooperative. I think it has to do with the talk "the Principal" gave them at dinner the night before. I decided as a reward for being cooperative and obedient during school I would take them to the park. We walked to the park up the street and had an amazing time!

Josh and Danny playing Frisbee
Josh and Danny Playing Frisbee

Danny rolling down hill
Danny rolling down the hill

Josh rolling down hill
Josh rolling down the hill

Nate on the "spinning thing"
Nate on the Spinning Thing

Danny on the "spinning thing"
Danny on the Spinning Thing

Nate getting ready to "Zip"
Nate getting ready to "Zip"

Wednesday: We are still trying to figure out how to get on a better routine on Wednesday. Wednesday are AWANA night at church. The boys and I have to get to church by 4:15PM to help with Dinner set up. The past 2 Wednesday we haven't gotten much school time done because we are rushing around in the morning and early afternoon doing showers, reviewing AWANA books for memorization, making sure everyone has their stuff for the AWANA and all the stuff in between. The boys and I take the bus to the church which is only 10 minutes away on bus and then a short 5 minute walk to the church. The past 2 Wednesday we have had to go the library, which is in the other direction of our church, before heading to church. It has caused for chaos and confusion trying to get things done earlier then expected. I am hoping next Wednesday isn't as chaotic.

Thursday: We took a Field Trip to Brookfield Zoo. The boys and I met up with my dad and went to the Zoo with him. We had an AMAZING time! We go to Brookfield Zoo often, but this day just seemed to be soo fun filled!! I will be writing a Zoo Day post tomorrow. Here are couple of pics for a Sneak Peak:

Friday: We had to take a "Sick Day". Josh woke up with a fever and was not feeling well all day today. I had extreme pain in my left leg and could barely walk. I was in my big comfy chair with my feet up on the ottoman particully all day today. I began feeling a tad better around just about an hour ago.

I am very happy with our school week. I am looking forward to Lesson Planning time on Sunday, as I really think that made a huge difference in our school week! We are going to begin adding in some projects and fun stuff. This week we will be learning about apples and more, in preparation of our annual Apple Picking Day on Saturday.

Need some inspiration or ideas for your homeschool? Do you like to read about the daily life of other homeschoolers. Come on over and join the fun at:

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

DVD Review and Giveaway: The Shunning

I was very honored when I was selected to review the DVD of "The Shunning" based on the book of the same name by Beverly Lewis. I have read the book a couple of times and enjoy Beverly Lewis as an author. The DVD was releasesd by Hallmark, after premiering on the Hallmark Channel earlier this year. I missed watching it on Hallmark Channel, so I was excited to be able to recieve the DVD and watch and review it!

BEVERLY LEWIS - Author of "The Shunning"
Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is The New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books. Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide. A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Lewis to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with "The Shunning," which has sold more than one million copies. In 2007, Lewis' "The Brethren" was honored with a Christy Award.

Lewis has been interviewed by both national and international media, including Time magazine, the Associated Press, and the BBC. Lewis lives with her husband, David, in Colorado.

Beverly Lewis' The Shunning - About the Movie
Before she succumbs to cancer, the dying wish of Laura Mayfield-Bennett is to be reunited with the daughter she never knew. Unfortunately, that daughter, Katie Lapp, is a member of the Amish order. Katie is about to be married, but uneasy about the path ahead. Now she discovers the secret her parents have kept from her: she's adopted.

The film is based on the celebrated first novel of the best-selling "The Heritage of Lancaster County" book series from author Beverly Lewis. Stars Danielle Panabaker & Sherry Stringfield.

Take a sneak peek at the movie:

My Thoughts and Opinions:
GREAT movie!! Michael Landon Jr. did an amazing job producing the book into a movie! The cast was AMAZING. I feel the cast and the producers were both respectful and did an amazing job at depicting the Amish lifestyle. I was very impressed that the movie plot stayed very true to the book. The Shunning is a very clean and refreshing moive that the whole family can be enjoy.

I enjoyed the "Behind the Scenes" look into the Amish Community. I am very much a fan of Amish books, having read many of Beverly Lewis's books. I really hope there is a sequel to this movie, as I really enjoyed The Shunning and I am sure I will enjoy a sequel. I will watch this movie again and again!

You can learn more about the movie and the cast on The Hallmark Channel website and from The Shunning Facebook Page.

One lucky reader of my blog will receive their very own copy of the DVD. Enter below for your chance to Win:

Disclosure: I received the DVD mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for 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."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Works for Me Wednesday 9/21

I am a "Book Worm" I love love love reading! I love Library Day and Social Networking for Book Lovers. I have at least 40 books checked out at a time from the library. (granted some are for homeschooling, but many are leisure reading) So about 18 months ago I discovered that I can join some Book Review Programs and I joined about 4 well known publishing book review programs. I have recently joined about 4 more book review programs and I love it! I am getting some great books and I enjoying reading and posting my opinion of the books. I hope I have encouraged others to buy some of the books I have posted about!

I have recently been trying to "keep up" with the Book Reviews and making sure I read and post by the date I am supposed to. A couple months ago I came up with the idea to post them on my Springpad Account and set up reminders for the day before they are due to be posted to my blog. That has been working wonderfully. I was also struggling with a way to keep the books organized and all in one place. The other night I came up with an idea and I immediately jumped onto the computer to put the idea to work. I created a "Book Review" form. I at first created it as a simple box form. I then thought how cool it would be to have use it as a bookmark, so I created it as a bookmark also. I then grabbed a small "tote" I already had that I purchased at Dollar Tree and put my books in there. I printed out the box form version and filled them out and put them in the books. I put the "tote" on the top of my reading area bookshelf.

The book tote on top of my reading area bookshelf

The folder contains the forms and also letters from publishers

I am soo happy with how my idea "came to light" and I am sure this will be a huge help to me! I hope it will also help others, so I am sharing my creations below for others to print and use.

Book Review Form

Book Review Bookmark

Using Springpad and the Book Review Bookmark or Form Works for me to keep up with Book Reviews. For more great hints and tips visit Kristen over at We Are That Family.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simple Womans Daybook 9/20

Outside the Window: It is a beautiful sunny day! Loving the weather! High in the mid 70's today!

I am thinking: About Biggest Loser Season Premiere tonight!! LOVE the show, it is so inspiring!

I am thankful for: The daily provisions that God blesses our family with. The Economy is still in turmoil, but God's blessings help our family overcome!

From the Learning Rooms: Working on our regular studies this week. I will post a recap on Friday.

In the Kitchen: I don't have much going on in the kitchen. We are having "Breakfast for Dinner" tonight. Our menu plan for 9/18-9/24.

I am wearing: A pair of Black cotton shorts and purple T-Shirt.

I am creating: A workable routine for our family. We are 3 weeks into the new school year and we still seem to want to be on our Summer Routine. We have to change that fast!

I am going: Taking the boys out to the park today to enjoy the weather and have fun!

I am wondering: How much more I can cut from our budget to be able to accomadate for rising grocery prices. Each time I go to the grocery store prices are creeping up, it is crazy!

I am Reading: Lots of great library books and books that I am going to be reviewing. (see the Right Side Bar for my By the Reading Chair list) I am almost finished reading Never Far from Home by Mary Ellis and then I will begin book 3 in this series.

I am Hoping: We will change banks very soon! Our bank is getting crazy with lots of fees and changing policies and all for the worse!

I am looking forward to: My weekly Lesson Planning day at the library. I did it for the first time this past weekend and was a success. I was able to concentrate and get things done in a short amount of time.

Around the house: I am going to tacke the kitchen cupboards over the next couple of days. They are in such disarray and really need to be organized!

I am pondering: We learn not for school, but for life. ~Seneca    I just found this quote today and I encouraged me a lot. I need to remember this especially on days where homeschool time may not be running smoothly because of LIFE!

One of my Favorite Things: StumbleUpon. I have been StumbleUpon user for about 3yrs now and I just love it! I know Pinterest has become extremely popular as of late and I was trying to resist joining but I finally caved the other day. I will always be a StumbleUpon user, and only really intend on using Pinterest for saving most commonly used Homeschool stuff. StumbleUpon will always be my favorite!

A few plans for the rest of the week: AWANA tomorrow night, Zoo on Thursday and then a relaxing weekend. We don't have many plans for the weekend. We have Church on Sunday and then Sunday afternoon I am going to the library with my laptop to do Lesson Planning!

A picture to share:
A "treasure find" that the boys and I found. An elderly couple was putting it out a couple doors down from us and we took it in. My dad thinks it might be a "pie warmer cabinet" that was popular way back when. I am hoping to sand it down and restain it. Bring it back to life!

Come on over and join other bloggers and see what is happening in their world on a daily basis at: The Simple Woman's Daybook

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 9/19

I love the feeling of being organized and menu planning is just one of the ways I get organized. I really enjoy being able to read so many other menu plans and recipes, and there are a few that are now on our regular rotation. We actually don't have any "Carry overs" from last weeks menu this week, something that hasn't happened in a long while!

Here is our menu plan for this week with recipe links:
Weekly Menu Plan 9/18-9/24

For more menu plan ideas and recipes visit Menu Plan Monday at:

Organizing Junkie

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

What a Weekend!

I had "grand plans" for this weekend, and though I didn't get to everything, I feel like I accomplished a lot!! 

Saturday morning I had some errands to run: Grocery shopping, 2 different libraries and Dollar Tree. I took Daniel, the 6yr old, with me. He was my "helper" for the day. We were able to get all our tasks done within 2 hours. I was going to continue by making some Pancakes, Waffles and French Toast for the freezer, but that did not happen. I ended up in my "big comfy chair" for the rest of the day because my Left Leg was swelled up and hurting something fierce. I have been diagnosed with Superficial Phlebitis and it has become chronic, an everyday thing. I have a Drs. appointment on October 6th and I sure hope for some answers as how to treat it. I am not comfortable with popping Ibuprofen a couple times a day, every day. I would rather it be treated some other way. I was able to watch Hallmark Channel which was running the Love Saga Series, movies based on Janette Oke books. LOVE that series! Had a relaxing day and my leg started feeling better late in the night. 

Sunday morning our family has to be at church by 8:30am. Hubby and I have our Sunday Morning Adult Bible Fellowship class and the boys have "Sonshine Club" at 9am. Sonshine Club is choir for kids in 1st-5th Grade. Hubby and I then attend church service from 10am-11:15am while the boys are in their Sunday School classes. Today hubby had a meeting with one of the Pastors at 11:30am, so the boys and I went to grab lunch at McDonald's, dollar menu items. We picked hubby back up at 12:45pm and came home. I had all my stuff ready so I can go the the Library and get the weekly lesson plans completed. I headed to the Brookfield Public Library and was there from 2pm-5:30pm and I got everything planned and printed. Brookfield Public Library has Wireless printing. I was using my laptop, but was able to print to the library printers! YEAH! I checked out some books for use with our studies this week and headed to Office Depot. I made a few photocopies at Office Depot and came home. I had some dinner and then I set to work. I got the School/Toy room cleaned and organized. I put all the boys Weekly Assignment Sheets in their individual totes and organized the school books. We are all set for the week. I also tackeled the boys bedroom today. I had washed and folded the clothes a couple days ago, I was finally able to get them put away tonight. The Front Room is also looking mighty fine. I had an awesome Sunday! 

I am so THANKFUL to God for giving me the energy today to accomplish what I didn't do yesterday. I am sure that he will help me accomplish more tasks that were planned for the weekend tomorrow and the apartment will be in order! I am very much a person of "order" and love when things are in place! Today everything really was in place and I am very grateful for that! 

Have a blessed week!  I am very much ready for the week and to uncover what God has planned! 

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

September=Football Season=Sunday Library Time

I love the month of September. It is my Birthday month, the start of Homeschool and the start of new routines and activities. I do not like Football too much though. It is a very confusing game. I do realize though that being the only female in this household, I am going to be subjected to Football season. I am not totally anti-sport, as I do enjoy Baseball(Chicago White Sox) and Hockey(Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Wolves). I could and would sit and watch those games, even attend a game. Football season just is not for me. It just seems like there are too many games on Sunday and it makes for a "LOUD" afternoon in this household.

I had gotten into the routine of making my meal plan on Saturday evenings and then grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons during the games. I am going to change things up a bit this Football season. I am going to be making my menu plan and grocery list on Friday Evening or early Saturday morning and then getting up early on Saturday morning and going to do the grocery shopping. The main stores I shop at open at 7am and I am an early riser, everyone else usually sleeps in until 9am. I can get the grocery shopping done and home again before anyone gets up.

I will now make use of my Sunday afternoons by taking my Laptop to one of the many local libraries and getting my Lesson Planning done for the week. I was able to download Illuminations onto my Laptop, in addition to our Desktop. Illuminations is an awesome program that goes along with Mystery of History. The Suburban libraries and even the Harold Washington Library in Downtown Chicago are open on Sundays during the school year, mainly from 1-5pm, some are open 11am-6pm. The Harold Washington Library is actually open on Sundays year round(excluding holidays). I will be able to get a lot accomplished by doing my lesson planning at the library, rather then at home. We live in a small 3 bedroom apartment, so I can't really escape the noise and concentrate fully while Football is on. Also, I find that the boys interupt me often while I am trying to get Lesson Plans done. I will also be able to check out any books that I will be needing for the coming week while I am at the library. I plan on "library hopping" each week, going to a different one each week. I know I will even get on the train and head downtown to go to the Harold Washington Library. I really love that our library system is open on Sundays.

I am very much looking forward to being able to get things accomplished on Sunday afternoons, while the boys and hubby do some "male bonding" watching Football.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 2

Do you ever have a week that gets thrown off completely because of a "Bad start" to the week?? That is what happened here this week.

Monday: My hubby was home sick from work on Monday. The boys and I were able to get most of our school done that morning, but not everything. That afternoon both hubby and I had Drs. appointment. His for being sick, turns out is was a strain of strep, but not the most common strain. I was at the Dr. for some issues in my arm and leg. I was scheduled to go on Tuesday, but switched it to Monday when hubby needed an appointment on Monday. We headed to Noodle & Company to redeem my FREE Entree coupon that I got via email for my Birthday. We also stopped at Starbucks right next door to Noodle & Company for my free B-Day Drink. Headed home and had a relaxing evening.

Tuesday: Hubby was home again sick from work due to needing to be on antibotic for 24hr before he is no longer contagious. The boys and I were able to get Math and Language Arts completed. Had lunch and then decided to head to the library and park in the afternoon so hubby can get much needed rest. We were gone from 2:30pm-5:30pm. The park we go to has a very nice pond in the middle with ducks. We noticed a lot more ducks then normal so there must have been a lot born this summer. We had dinner and then a relaxing evening.

Wednesday: Hubby was finally able to go back to work. The boys and I were able to get Math and Language Arts completed again. We then had showers to take and get ready to leave the house around 3:30pm to take the Bus to our church. It only takes one bus to get there and about 15 minutes on the bus. We got off the bus and went into the Borders right at the bus stop. I got 6 books for $9 due to the 80% off closing sale. We arrived at church around 4:15pm to help set up and prep for Wednesday night dinner. The boys attended AWANA from 6:45pm-8:30pm. The hubby and I help with Kitchen clean up after dinner. We are normally done between 7:15pm-8:30pm. We then sit and relax in a "lounge area" for the rest of the time while we wait for the boys to be done. We arrived home around 9pm. Boys got ready for bed, but had a hard time falling asleep. Finally got to sleep around 10:30pm.

Thursday: We have decided that since the boys are going to bed later on Wednesday nights we are going to push back everything by an hour on Thursday. The normal wake up time is 7:30am, but on Thursday it will be 8:30am. My oldest wasn't feeling well in the morning, so he ended up sleeping until 11:30am. I got most of school done with the younger 2 boys in the morning. We had lunch and then in the afternoon we got Math and Language Arts completed with the oldest boy. I was also doing laundry all day in the midst of doing school, multi-tasking, LOVE IT! It was a chilly day, so no park time yesterday.

Friday: We got Math and Language Arts completed today, as I had a mess in our kitchen to take care of. I was unable to stand and clean the kitchen last night due to a very swollen left leg.

The boys had a good week, even though we have yet to have a complete week. It is "slow going, starting up" this year. I am very much hoping to get things accomplished and ready over the weekend, so we have a FULL week next. I know we didn't do a lot of academics this week, but there was lots of "life learning" experiences this week. We had a blessed week and glad to have made it to the weekend! I fully intended to get check lists and more together last weekend, but we had a family party and then both hubby and I were sick on Sunday. I need to work diligently this weekend to get that all accomplished. I am praying for a wonderfully, smooth week next week. I am going to have my camera ready and going for all the fun activities for next week.

Come join others and see what happened in their school week. I am linked up at:

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

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First Wild Card Tour: The Amazing Fitness Adventure for your Kids by Amy and Phil Parham

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Phil and Amy Parham, authors of The 90-Day Fitness Challenge and The 90-Day Fitness Challenge DVD, were contestants on Season 6 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Over a seven-month period, they recorded the highest percentage of weight loss of any couple in the program’s history. Married for more than 20 years, Phil and Amy live in South Carolina with their three boys, Austin, Pearson, and Rhett.

Visit the author's website.


The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids equips parents with the tools they need to help their children become healthier and happier. It’s also an inspirational guide to the ultimate rewards that come from sharing a healthy lifestyle together—stronger and healthier kids and more closely knit families.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939210
ISBN-13: 978-0736939218



Dream Big!

A Word from Amy

When Phillip and I returned home from The Biggest Loser ranch, we experienced the beginning of an amazing physical transformation. All of our friends, families, and fans of the show had a slew of questions for us. “How did you do it?” “What was it like?” “Was it hard to do?” But two questions we were repeatedly asked stuck out in our mind—“Wasn’t it hard to leave your kids while going on the show?” and “Where were your kids during that time?”

At the time we were chosen as contestants for The Biggest Loser, Austin was 12 years old, Pearson was 10, and Rhett was 8. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to leave them for three months. Phillip and I gave a lot of thought to the impact our departure would have on them before we even considered trying out for the show. Although we competed to better our health, we knew that in doing so, we would better the physical, emotional, and even spiritual health of our family as a whole. Ultimately, in many ways, we did the show for our kids.

Phillip’s sister, Joan, was a major influence in persuading us to try out for The Biggest Loser, and she even offered to watch our boys during the time we were away. If it weren’t for her, we probably would have never even considered undertaking the opportunity. Joan had been concerned about our health for quite some time. She was also a big fan of the show and was the first person who encouraged me to watch it. I was resistant at first because I didn’t know the premise behind it. I initially believed it was a show that made fun of fat people, but I quickly discovered I was wrong. The Biggest Loser isn’t simply a reality TV show where contestants compete against each other to lose weight. I like to think of it as a powerful tool that helps forever change the lives of individuals and families.

During our absence, our boys were cared for by Joan and her husband, John, who have three boys similar in age to ours. My children and their family quickly formed a Brady Bunch of sorts. The cousins shared a tight-knit bond, and many wonderful memories were created that my boys still talk about today. We were so fortunate to have Joan and John—as well as my parents, sisters Allyson and Donna, and loving neighbors—who made tremendous personal sacrifices in order for Phillip and me to have the opportunity to transform our lives for the better.

Dreaming Big for Our Family

While we were gone, I felt incomplete because I missed our boys terribly. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to know that my husband and I wouldn’t be in contact with them for an undetermined amount of time. Our saving grace was knowing our family was taking good care of our children, and they were in the best hands we could have asked for. During the show, Phillip and I were also fortunate to win a particular contest where the prize was a phone call to our boys and a 24-hour visit home to see them.

However challenging it was for us to be away from our boys for so long, we knew the reward was greater than the price we were paying. This was a time we had to sacrifice for our family and take care of ourselves so we could become better role models for our kids. Not only that, but we also had to take care of our physical health so we could stick around for them.

Phillip and I were morbidly obese, and at the rate we were going, we had some serious health risks. I especially thought of Rhett and his autism and his need for special care. He needed us around for a long time. If Phillip or I had a heart attack or suffered from a life-threatening ailment because of our obesity, what would happen to our boys? Nobody wants to think about those kinds of things, but we had no choice. Phillip and I had to face some hard facts in order to reevaluate our priorities and make positive change.

Being on the show was a step in the direction of dreaming big for our family. We wanted the best for us and for them. Sometimes dreaming big as a parent means taking time for ourselves. That can be a hard thing for some folks. Many parents fear that when they focus on themselves, their children will deem them selfish and become resentful or spiteful. But this is not true when you commit to making changes that ultimately benefit your entire family. (I’m not talking about spending money reserved for paying bills on a fancy car you don’t need or not helping your child with homework because you have to get your nails done. I’m talking about making good choices that will exact positive change.)

Phillip and I were not the best role models when it came to eating right and exercising regularly, but it was time to change all those bad habits into good ones. And it took time for us apart from our children to get the ball rolling. When we came back from The Biggest Loser ranch, we found that our family was reenergized by the changes we had made in our lives. When we changed, our children wanted to change too. They wanted to follow our example and dream big for their own lives. This meant making changes in their health.

Making Changes

There was no doubt that we had to do an about-face with many of the lifestyle habits in our home. The biggest area that needed a major overhaul was nutrition. Our boys got an introductory course in good health when family members took care of them. I believe this prepared them for our return and transformation. Joan and John are excellent parents and provide a great example of what a fit and healthy family should be. While our boys were under their care, Joan kept a close watch on what they ate and limited their snacks. They weren’t used to this in the Parham household.

Before our weight-loss experience, we had poor eating habits as a family. We ate fast food almost every day, and our meals outside of the drive-thru were usually processed foods. Convenience always trumped nutritional content. We were (and still are) a busy family on a budget, so it made the most sense to eat fast and cheap. I thought I was doing my kids a favor. At least that’s what the TV commercials led me to believe. I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisements for boxed meals that require only one or two “real” ingredients. They picture a doting mom, happy kids, and a warm meal that took no time to whip up. It was cheap, easy, and tasted great. This was something I could do, I thought. Look at me, I’m a good mom!

For most of my life, I bought into this lie hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t realize that providing my children with meals and snacks low in nutrition was negatively affecting their energy levels, mental focus, and overall health. I didn’t realize that not feeding them with foods designed to fuel their body meant they would not function at their best. I didn’t realize that fatty, greasy, and salty foods would not just make them feel bad in the long run, but would increase their chances of getting sick later on. After being on the show, Phillip and I understood how critical it is to teach our kids good nutrition habits and provide a solid framework for good health that will ultimately help them be successful in life.

As a working mother, I also carried a lot of guilt for not spending enough time with my sons. One way I soothed my guilt was by giving them sugary or salty treats like cookies, candy, and chips. I worked a lot to help provide financially for my family, and I thought I had to “make it up” to my kids. I wanted to be one of the moms you see on TV who greets her children from school wearing fashionable clothes, sporting perfectly styled hair, and holding out a plate of freshly made chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth. I was no such mother. On the days I couldn’t be home when they returned from school, I left them a bag of packaged cookies they could snack on in my absence.

You might relate. Do you feel that you’re not giving enough time or energy to your children and ease your guilt by giving them forbidden snacks? If you miss a baseball practice or dance recital, do you make it up by letting your son or daughter eat something they really shouldn’t? Are you so busy doing the million things most of us do that focusing on good nutrition is just not a priority?

Do you not even have the time to think about how poor eating habits will affect your children 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Maybe you think of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes as “grown up” problems. I know I did. I thought my kids had plenty of time before they had to worry about those issues. I figured they needed to grow up first, and then they could pay attention to what they ate and what kind of exercise they got. This is poor thinking.

I believe this comes from the mind-set that going on a “diet” is reserved for adults. Now, dieting is not the answer for children or for adults. Dieting denotes something that you go on and come off of. It’s about restricting food and eating in a way that is temporary and can’t be continued for life. We should think about being healthy and fit. We need to permanently change our habits to healthy ones. This applies to adults and children. The truth is, kids who have healthy habits growing up have a better chance of sustaining a healthy lifestyle as they get older.

We need to make small changes every day that can add up to a new life. Whether it’s saying yes to natural foods and no to processed foods or going for a walk instead of watching TV, the little things we do accumulate into a future worth having. A future that is healthy and makes you feel good inside and out. A future worth dreaming about.

We need to encourage our children that when they are healthy, they gain a better life. They can do more things and they can think more clearly. They will have more energy to be active. They will have better mental focus and get better grades. They will feel stronger and not get sick as much.

It’s a win-win situation. Gaining health is a positive process that will help them succeed in whatever they do. It will give them the confidence to live as if the sky is the limit and to know that their dreams are within reach.

When Dreams Die

Our children don’t need poor health to stand in the way of a great life. They need to give their dreams a chance to blossom. They need to be unencumbered from feeling tired, sluggish, or moody—things that come from making poor health choices—in order to dream big. Their ability to “go for it” should never be restricted by their size, physical-fitness level, or because of a negative self-image.

Childhood should be a time of dreaming, yet here’s a sobering reality. Childhood obesity has become so prevalent that it has tempered our children’s potential to dream big. This condition has locked them in a prison built with forks and spoons. Poor health prevents them from attempting new things.

As a parent, I know this may be a tough pill for you to swallow, especially if you have allowed bad lifestyle choices to rule your home. But don’t be discouraged. This is not the time to question your parenting skills, feel sorry for yourself, or give up. This is a time for change!

Today you can commit to creating a healthy lifestyle for your family. Today you can make sure your child’s future is not limited by poor eating or exercising habits. Today you can lead your children in this “Challenge” to become healthier. And today, you can embark on a new adventure to witness your children gain confidence, feel better about themselves, and dream big.

When I was a girl, I struggled with weight. I gave up on many dreams because of that battle. Here’s one I’ll never forget. Like most teenage girls, I wanted to be a cheerleader. I remember feeling so out of place during the first tryout because I was the chubbiest girl there. My confidence level hit rock bottom, and I dropped out before I even had the chance to try out. I had many similar experiences.

I was always picked last when teams were selected for gym. I never raised my hand in class because I was afraid the other kids would laugh at me. I shied away from any physical activity at school because I was so big and doing the simplest things exhausted me. Because of my weight, my self-esteem suffered. I wasn’t carefree and having fun. I was miserable.

I became comfortable with not taking risks and not taking a stab at doing new things; it was safer not to even try. Sadly, this mind-set stayed along for the ride as I grew up and entered adulthood. It was a tough mentality to break, but through losing weight and working on my emotional and mental health, I was able to break free from harmful thinking. And as I like to say, I am not a fat girl anymore; I’m a fit girl.

You too have the power to change. You can make better decisions that afford your children the chance to dream big, create a future full of possibilities, and shine.

Don’t get wrapped up in the guilt of feeling you haven’t done enough for your children or haven’t helped them make the right choices. Guilt is a wasted emotion. Guilt will keep you emotionally paralyzed so that you won’t do anything to change your circumstances. Guilt will not change a single thing, but here’s the light at the end of the tunnel—taking a step in the right direction will.

Taking the First Step

Decisions pave the way to making dreams come true. Making the right decisions will change the course of your life and the life of your children. When Phillip and I decided to go on The Biggest Loser, we had to move heaven and earth to make it happen. We had to sell our cars and major household items so that my family would have enough money to operate while we were gone. I had to leave my children. I had to endure the physical, emotional, and mental process, which was grueling at times. None of these things were fun or convenient. None of these things were easy. But the payoff was amazing and totally worth it.

Former Boy Scout administrator Forest Witcraft once wrote, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a boy.” When I worked as an early childhood director at my church, I printed those words on bookmarks and gave them to all the volunteers who worked with me. The bookmarks were one way I reminded them that their sacrifice would last long after they were gone.

As a parent, you need to constantly remind yourself of that same truth. What you sacrifice today when it comes to your children will still be paying off long after you leave this earth. You have the power to affect their future for the better. You have the power to influence what their legacy will be. You have the power to commit to bettering the health of your household. I know you are ready to make this change because you are already reading this book. I am confident you want the best for your children and that you want to see their dreams come true.

Yes, sometimes dreaming big dreams requires overcoming big challenges. Don’t worry. We will help you along the way. Believe me, we have had to work our way through many challenges that could have stopped us cold. Our book will equip you with knowledge, tools, and inspiration so you can move any mountains that may stand in your way of creating a healthy home.

Think about what dreaming big as a family looks like to you. Maybe it’s as simple as eating better and exercising more. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds to have more energy to play with your daughter. Maybe you want to improve your health because you just got diagnosed with diabetes or another serious disease. Maybe you want to incorporate fitness into your family life and start running 5Ks together. Whatever it is, dreaming big means improving the quality of your family life. And that will guarantee a brighter future.

Today, take the first step and commit to making your children’s health a priority so that you can see their dreams come true. It only takes a simple decision to change your life and your future.

Walk with us on this journey and let’s dream big together!


Face the Facts

A Word from Amy

Dreaming is fun, isn’t it? It is such a big first step in your new adventure of gaining better health. After we dust off our box of hidden dreams, the next critical step is to face some facts. And some of them might not be pretty.

You are reading this book because you believe you and your family will benefit from this fitness challenge. This means some poor habits are in place that you need to change. You might acknowledge that you need to be healthier, but for whatever reason you give your kids more slack. You might be thinking one or more of the following thoughts:

Why do I need to concern myself with what my kids eat and how much exercise they get?

Is it really so bad that they eat fast food? They get to be kids only once, after all! Let them live a little, right? Since when did a little fast food hurt anybody?

What’s wrong with letting my kids play video games, play on the computer, and watch television after school? They work hard all day. Shouldn’t they be able to veg out in front of the TV to unwind? Everyone needs a little break.

What’s the harm in having a little baby fat? They’ll eventually grow out of it. I mean, really, what’s the big deal?

Prior to our health transformation, I used to be defensive when it came to our family’s health habits. So if you’re feeling the same way, I understand.

The Facts

Before we deal with some of these questions, let’s get some facts straight. Childhood obesity is an epidemic. It has almost tripled in the last 30 years. The 2008 “Facts for Families” report published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry remarked that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2–19 years are obese. This unhealthy weight gain in our children stems from poor nutrition and inactivity.

A child is considered obese when her weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for her height and body type. Studies have shown that an obese child between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

Though these facts are eye-opening and disturbing, the trend can be stopped. Childhood obesity is preventable if we work on changing to a healthy lifestyle. If an obese child has a greater chance of becoming an obese adult, you can see what a big deal it is for parents to model and implement healthy habits in the home as early as possible.

Contrary to what many people believe, obesity and weight gain do not come solely from genetics or biology. Most of our unhealthy habits come from behaviors we learn in our culture and in our home. And sadly, many of these behaviors are harmful to our health—from the plethora of fast-food restaurants, to the indulgence of processed foods, to the inactivity caused by spending too much time watching TV or playing video games.

Creating a healthy lifestyle in the home may be a challenge, especially if you have not maintained good nutrition or fitness goals for a long time, but it is doable and it is imperative if you want to raise a healthy family.

Priorities! Priorities! Priorities!

Give me a break, Phil and Amy. I’m a busy parent. I can’t do everything perfectly. Nobody’s perfect!

This might be your thought as you find yourself in the fast-food restaurant drive-thru for the fifth time this week. Sure, you’d rather be like Betty Crocker and put a hot meal on the table every night, but really, who does that anymore? Who has the time?

So many of us justify our actions when it comes to our kids’ diet and exercise habits because we are simply overwhelmed with all of our other responsibilities. Most of us have more than enough to do during the day. We work full- or part-time, spend time with our kids doing homework, manage their after-school activities, clean our house, make time for our friends, meet our spouse’s needs, volunteer in the schools or community, go to church. And that’s just a few items in the long laundry list (oh, did I mention laundry?) most of us have.

It’s much easier to go to the drive-thru after school for a quick meal or pick up a pizza after baseball practice than to sit home cooking. And I know how easy it is, when you do find an afternoon that’s free, to stick your kids in front of the TV or put a video controller in their hand while you take a nap or watch a movie instead of going to the park as a family. The thought of adding more things, like exercise and making your own snacks and meals, to our ever-growing to-do list is exhausting.

Trust me, I know that feeling. I am no Harriet Nelson and my life definitely isn’t a TV Land show. As a mother of three boys, I am well aware of how stressful raising children can be. There never seems to be enough time to do everything you need to do. I have gone to bed many nights knowing I had so many things left undone and feeling guilty that I let my kids down (again). I have juggled all the balls that you have to juggle as a working mom raising a family, and I know that sometimes, you just have to let some of them drop.

Some things are more important than others. We have to determine what our priorities are when it comes to raising our children. We need to determine the right balls to allow to fall to the ground. You may have to choose not to make the bed every day. You may have to turn off the TV for a long time. You may not be able to spend much time socializing on Facebook. You might see more loads of laundry lying around than you would like. The fact is, you can’t do it all without sacrificing some crucial lifestyle habits as a family. And because you picked up this book, you know that healthy lifestyle habits is something you need to work on. You can’t afford to sacrifice that any longer.

The amount of attention and care you invest in shaping your children’s nutritional and fitness choices charts the course for the rest of their lives. It really is a big deal.

Sometimes, Love Means Saying No

We love our children and would do anything for them. If we knew we were harming them in some way—perhaps by being lax in monitoring their health habits—wouldn’t we want to stop and start doing the right things?

I like what Jesus says about the nature of parents to give good things to their children: “If your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!” (Luke 11:11-12 nlt). The problem, however, is that our kids often ask for stuff that’s not good for them (like fast food). And we think we show them love when we give in and say yes.

But then what happens? When we allow our kids to be in charge of our decision-making, they become the boss. They take over our job. They become the parent. Obviously, a family won’t function well when children are running the house!

I know there are daily battles you fight with your kids. The trick is to pick your battles wisely. I want to challenge you to pick the battle of good health. This is a fight where you need to quit raising the white flag. You need to fight for the health of your children because this war really is a matter of life or death.

From the time our children are born, we try to give them the very best we can. We buy the best baby food and take them to the doctor any time they have the tiniest sniffle. We move to homes in the best school districts and sign them up for activities that we hope will grow them in some way, whether athletically or intellectually. We focus on doing all these things and more so that they have the best shot at a good life. In this hustle and bustle, sometimes we forget that the foundation of success is good health.

As parents, we have the power to ensure that our children do not fall prey to all the bad stuff that can result from being overweight and possibly even obese. These include conditions, illnesses, and diseases that can cripple them as they become adults. I want to talk about a few of them.

Silent Destroyers

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, childhood obesity puts children on the path to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These are health problems that only adults used to suffer from. If you don’t pay attention to your child’s health now, you are essentially creating a breeding ground for these health issues as they get older.

Type 2 diabetes is an obesity-related illness that has drastically increased in children and teens. Diabetes is a condition in which a person has high blood sugar because the body can’t make enough or can’t properly use insulin. In order for your body to function optimally, your blood-sugar levels need to be in a particular target range. When the body isn’t producing enough insulin or the body isn’t processing it properly, this healthy range gets out of whack.

It’s tough to detect type 2 diabetes in children because many symptoms may be mild or nonexistent. A blood test is required to properly diagnose this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who have type 2 diabetes are generally between 10 and 19 years old, obese, and have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes.

This surge of diabetes in children and teens is attributed to lifestyle choices that lead to poor health. These include eating foods high in fat and calories (such as fast food), eating too much sugar (such as soda and candy), eating larger portions, and not getting enough exercise.

High blood pressure is another health condition that can result from being overweight. It affects only 3 percent of children and teens, according to the American Heart Association’s website. This may seem like a small number, but it has risen over the years and is attributed to a poor diet, excess weight, and an insufficient amount of physical activity. High blood pressure is a really big deal because if left untreated, it can lead to damage of the kidneys, brain, heart, and eyes.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. When a person has high blood pressure, there is a higher than normal pressure inside the arteries, and the heart has a harder time pumping blood throughout the body. When the heart has to work harder than it needs to, it puts stress on your heart and makes it more difficult to get the necessary blood to your vital organs.

High cholesterol is another health problem on the rise. High cholesterol is something we need to pay attention to because it can create a material called plaque that builds up on the walls of the arteries. Plaque can prohibit the blood from flowing through the arteries and can even cause a heart attack and stroke if left untreated.

Three factors cause high cholesterol levels in children—heredity, diet, and obesity (notice the trend?). Most children with high cholesterol have a parent with high cholesterol. If this condition runs in your family, get your child diagnosed if you suspect they might suffer from the illness. It’s easy to find out if this is the case. Just ask your pediatrician for a simple blood test. It’s also fairly simple to treat high cholesterol. You have to put your child on a healthy diet (basically eating natural foods that are low in fat and good for you) and an exercise program. Medication might be in order for severe cases.

More than Feeling Blue

Another side effect of childhood weight problems and obesity is low self-esteem and depression. Being overweight impacts not only a child’s physical body, it also impacts their emotional and mental states.

Childhood should be a time free of anxiety. It shouldn’t be a time when your child is worried and depressed about his weight. If you were an overweight child, as I was, you know how painful that experience can be.

There are many things we can’t control about our children, but one thing we can do something about is their weight. No one wants their child to be the last kid on the team picked to play kickball or an object of ridicule because of her size. No one wants their child to feel less-than or like a loser.

Our middle son, Pearson, was about 20 pounds overweight when we came home from the ranch. He was always a little shy and self-conscious when it came to those extra pounds. He is the most sensitive of our three children, and it pained me to know how bad he felt about himself. As I saw him get healthier when he lost the weight, I also saw his self-esteem blossom. As a mother, this was such a rewarding thing to witness.

Unhealthy Building Blocks Lead to Unhealthy Adult Habits

There are several more reasons why we need to take the health of our children seriously. One main reason is that an overweight child is much more likely to be an overweight adult. One study found that approximately 80 percent of children who were overweight between the ages of 10–15 years were obese at age 25. Another study reports that 25 percent of obese adults were overweight as children, and that if unhealthy weight gain starts before the age of 8, then obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.2 The idea that “a little baby fat never hurt anyone” is not true. It can hurt your child for the rest of his or her life.

Here’s something else to think about. Once your body creates a fat cell, it never gets rid of it. The fat cell can shrink as you lose weight, but it is always there available to be filled up. And fat cells generally are not created in a person’s body after puberty; the one exception is if an adult gains a considerable amount of weight. But for the most part, the number of fat cells a person has is determined in childhood. When kids become overweight, they create more fat cells than they would if they were at a healthy weight.

Fat cells also have memory. Once they have been full, they want to be full again. This is why once someone has been overweight, it becomes much more difficult for him to stay slim later in life. This is why it is so vital that we help our children get and stay healthy. We don’t want them entering adulthood with the propensity to store fat, be obese, and be generally unhealthy. We don’t want to create a disadvantage for them so early on.

Here’s another sobering fact. Childhood obesity more than doubles the risk of dying before age 55, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by Dr. William C. Knowler, chief of the Diabetes Epidemiology and Clinical Research Section of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

More Facts

The list of the dangers of childhood obesity is ever-growing. Extra weight on your child’s body can cause lung problems, leading to ailments such as asthma. Sleep apnea (a condition where your child has abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping) can be a complication of childhood obesity. Being obese can create hormone imbalances for your child that can cause puberty to start earlier than expected.

Extra weight can even affect the way your kid’s feet are formed. Did you know that flattened arches are often developed during childhood? An article in the June 21, 2010 edition of USA Today states that extra pounds can take a toll on feet, causing conditions such as flat feet, inflamed tendons, and sore feet. A spokesman for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons said, “The foot was made to carry the average body, of maybe up to 200 pounds. When you add 100 or 200 pounds, it overloads the tendons, the ligaments, and the bones.” While your child may not be 100 pounds overweight, any excess weight puts undue pressure on their feet. Likewise, Dr. Wendy J. Pomerantz of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found obese children had more leg, ankle, and foot injuries than normal-weight children.

When we say that obesity can affect you from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, we’re not kidding.

Is My Child Part of This Problem?

Is your child at risk of being overweight or even obese? How can you tell? Phillip and I like to evaluate healthy weight by using the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart.

BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height that is a reliable indicator of whether your child is overweight. It’s not foolproof, however, because it doesn’t take into consideration how much muscle a child has. Muscle weighs more than fat, and some kids naturally have more muscle than others. Also, the BMI chart can be a little skewed during periods of rapid growth. Still, it’s a generally solid guideline to use. The best way to get an accurate reading is to get a scale that measures body fat, weight, and hydration levels or make an appointment with your child’s doctor.

If you decide to calculate your child’s BMI on your own, you first need to take some measurements. Measure your child’s height and write it down. Then weigh your child and write that number down. Compare these numbers with the chart on the previous page or insert them into the handy BMI calculator on the Centers for Disease Control website (

If you find that your child falls in the overweight or obese range, don’t waste time beating yourself up about it or blaming your poor parental skills. The key is to realize that starting today, you can change this number. You can change the way your family eats. You can change the way your family exercises (or doesn’t at all). You can even change your child’s health if she is suffering from weight-related conditions. You can make a difference.

Reading this book and working through the 90 challenges in Part 2 is a great first step. Make this a priority and read the challenges together as a family at the breakfast or dinner table, right before or after you help your children with their homework, or the first thing when they come home from school. Make these challenges a part of your routine to help your children understand that you are on their side and you want to help them be healthy.

Don’t judge or make your kids feel bad if they are overweight. Support them and let them know this is something you can conquer together. When I was a little girl, my grandmother would make negative comments about my weight all the time. She meant well, but it made me feel as if she didn’t approve of (or even like) me. Your child needs to know that you love her and support her in every area, including her journey to become healthy.

How to Make Change

As you read this chapter, you may have noticed a continual theme. Like a drumbeat, the words healthy eating and exercise sound over and over. Many life-threatening conditions can be prevented by making changes in our diet and in our level of activity. Why do we not do it? I believe three culprits prevent us from making these changes—time management, energy, and motivation.

We must take inventory of our time. You may think that you already have every single second scheduled to a tee and you have absolutely no extra time, but I bet you can adjust your schedule and incorporate small changes that will give you more time to spend on your health. You can cook food ahead of time so you always have a snack on hand to avoid the drive-thru window. Instead of throwing bags of chips or cookies in your children’s lunch box, pack a piece of fruit. Do homework with your child at the park, so after he or she is finished, you can run around and play together and squeeze in some physical activity. See what I mean? Making little changes in your routine can make a big difference.

What about energy? Many parents I know complain of not having enough energy to make health a priority. They are simply too tired. This is where you have to make sure that you are taking care of your health first so that you can help your family. (This is also the best way to role model healthy habits for your children. If you don’t do it, why should they?)

When you make time for exercise, you actually have more energy than when you are sedentary. I know this is true from personal experience. If I start my morning with exercise, I have tons of energy for the rest of my day. I turn into the Energizer Bunny. I just keep going and going and going.

Finally, sometimes we don’t make changes because we don’t have the motivation to change. But what is more motivational than our children? Our kids should be the biggest motivators in creating a healthy lifestyle at home. I don’t know of anything that can move me more than when I know my child has a need. I like to think one thing most parents have in common is a desire to see their children live long, healthy lives. And I believe you, as a parent, will do anything to give them a foundation for a great quality of life. So make the commitment to make change. Let them be your motivation to eat better and start moving more. We will be with you every step of the way!

How Healthy Are Your Kids?

Let’s find out how healthy your kids are. The quiz below is a great starting point for you as a parent to know what kind of commitment you will need to make to get the change-ball rolling. Circle your answers and tally your score.

My kids eat fast food…

a) once a week (2)

b) at least five times a week (3)

c) once or twice a month as a special treat (1)

d) every day (4)

When we do something together as a family, we like to…

a) go out to eat (4)

b) go to the movies (3)

c) do something active such as play sports or go hiking (1)

d) go to an amusement park (2)

The drink that my kids have most with meals is…

a) soda (4)

b) water (1)

c) milk (2)

d) juice (3)

My kids watch TV and play on the computer or video games…

a) an hour a day (2)

b) two hours a day (3)

c) three or more hours a day (4)

d) less than an hour a day (1)

My kids participate in regular exercise…

a) 30 minutes a day, five days a week (1)

b) an hour a day, three days a week (2)

c) once a week (if we’re lucky) (3)

d) never (4)

We eat dinner together as a family…

a) during major holidays (4)

b) once a week (2)

c) at least five days a week (1)

d) on weekends when we go to a sit-down restaurant (3)

If you scored:

6 to 12 points—Green light! All systems are go. You are traveling in the right direction as a family. As you read this book you will continue to learn more about great health.

13 to 18 points—Yellow light! Caution. On the way to trouble ahead. You can find your way to the path toward great health by reading how you can create a healthy family environment.

18 to 24 points—Red alert! You need to get your family in the “Challenge” ASAP! Don’t worry. Today can be the first day of your family’s journey toward a life of good health.

Whatever your score, in the following chapters we will equip you to make your family life not just happy but healthy. Whether it’s learning about the best foods to fuel your body or discovering creative ways of exercising as a family, the time to challenge yourself to be a healthy family is now. And the best place to start…is with you!

My Thoughts and Review:
I just about jumped out of my chair when I saw that I could request a book from former Biggest Loser contestants, especially one directed towards kids. I have been a fan of The Biggest Loser show since Season 2. The Biggest Loser is my all time favorite show ever! Phil and Amy Parham were very inspiring, very gracious and humbling on the show and that it what I am seeing/reading in their book also.

The Amazing Fitness Adventure for your Kids, 90 Days to Raising Healthy Children is a much needed book in this day and time. Childhood Obesity is on the rise and I personally believe it needs to the be the responibility of the parent(s) to help our children make the changes to become healthier. I really like that this book is geared towards helping the parent(s) take the responibility and shows the parents in easy steps how to make the necessary changes. Phil and Amy have divided this book into 2 parts. The first part is the "nooks and crannies" of the how to's and the facts about healthy eating. Amy and Phil tell their stories about how they came to the point where they felt they needed the help to get healthy and how the changes they have made since Biggest Loser have helped their entire family, which consists of 3 boys, to get healthy. I really like how Amy and Phil are very straight forward that we as parents have to set the example for getting healthy and then our kids will follow. I have struggled with weight issues all my life and I am trying to make the changes so I don't suffer the same fate of weight related issues that many family members have suffered from or do suffer from. Amy and Phil give many great suggestions on what they have learned in this process for them and what they believe is a good start for families who are just starting to make changes. I really like their approach in this book, as it isn't "in your face" but it is done in a loving guiding way. Part 2 of the book is a 90 challenge. It is set up like a "daily devotional". Each day has a small story, 3 questions for "Something to Talk About" for the day and a Tip of the Day. I LOVED this book! Amy and Phil have really put together a wonderful resourceful book for parents to help combat Childhood Obesity.

The Amazing Fitness Adventure for your Kids, 90 Days to Raising Healthy Children has been really inspiring to me. I am "stepping it up" and getting serious about my own weight. I have learned that I need to stop blaming other factors in my life and just set the example for my own 3 boys. My boys are 9, 8 and 6. They are all a little on the "chubby side". I know what they eat and we do lots of fruits and veggies, but I am not sure I am doing it all correctly. Phil and Amy have included some great lists, charts and recipes in the book that I am most certainly going to put to use. I have been working on putting together a "Fitness and Nutrition" homeschool study for this year since July. I wanted our Health studies to focus on "Fitness and Nutrition" this year and I had found some "good" resources to use, but this book is a superb addition to our study. The boys and I are now going through the book together. We are ready to join our local Y and get my boys super active!

I highly recommend this book for all parents, whether your family is "health and fit" already or your family is in need of encouragement to help you get "healthy and fit"!

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