Friday, June 14, 2019

Summer Projects

Summer is finally starting to show up here in Maine. It's been a long, cold winter and a cold, wet spring. I had a field trip scheduled last month and had to cancel it due to snow in the forecast! In May! We are finally getting beautiful spring weather, in June, just as summer should be upon us. I'm really not complaining as spring is my second favorite season after fall.

We finished up our homeschool last month as well. Our middle son is completely done and will be starting college in the fall. That leaves me with just one kiddo in high school and in our homeschool. I almost said one kiddo left at home. However, both my older boys are commuting to college so they are both still home. I'm good with it...for now. I'm simply going to enjoy having them around a bit longer.

I decided today that unless I put together a specific list of things I'd like to get done this summer, I have the potential to let the days slip away without anything to show. So here is my summer 2019 project list:

  • Participate in a yard sale - I am signed up to be part of the Franklin County Humane Society yard sale being held at the Farmington Fairgrounds next weekend. I'm using it as a way to not only declutter the house, but to also earn some money to put towards savings. A win-win!
  • Rearrange my den. This is the area of the house that holds our piano(s) (electric and traditional), the two younger boys computer desks, my computer desk, a large bookshelf from IKEA, and a couple filing cabinets. I rarely use my desk anymore so I will be taking that out once I figure out where to put everything that is in it and on it somewhere else. I have an idea of how I want to rearrange everything and once my large desk is taken out, there should be plenty of room to accomplish it. 
  • Successfully complete the event I'm hosting next month on homeschooling. The state of Maine has now made all vaccinations mandatory for children in public education effective 2021 with no exemptions allowed. This has increased the number of people interested in homeschooling. I'm hosting a day of workshops that will go over the basics of homeschooling in Maine, scheduling, and homeschooling high school. The response thus far has been amazing. I'm looking forward to supporting new and veteran homeschoolers alike. 
  • I've already started working on another summer goal and that is to blog more consistently. My goal is to share something here at least twice a week. It will be just like me - eclectic content. 
  • I also want to go visiting! I have a trip planned to go visit relatives in Massachusetts next month. I haven't been for a couple years and it's long overdue! I'll also be connecting with a friend of mine who lives down there. 
  • I also get to go visit Anne! Anne Shirley that is! My hubby and I are planning a trip to Prince Edward Island and I'm beyond excited. It was even his idea! He scored some major marriage bank points with that one!
  • This next one is a rather large goal for me. I've participated in NaNoWriMo now for a few years. Way back in 2013 I finished my first draft of my first ever novel for NaNoWriMo and I've been doing nothing with it since then. I have a wonderful friend who is also a very successful author. Seriously, check out the newest book by my friend Robin. It's awesome! She has given me an assignment of finally getting that dang thing published! So that is my goal for this summer...publish my first book. I'll definitely be sharing about that when it happens!

  • That goal leads to the next one...start writing book two. Yes, I actually do have other books in progress, but I have one kicking around my head that may demand to come out first. But more books are on the horizon for me. 
  • In the midst of all of these other goals, I need to get next year's homeschool planned and scheduled. I'm sure my youngest would be happy for me to forget or to put it off for all of these other great goals, but he'll be disappointed. I'm determined to have it all in place by mid-August so we can start the year nice and strong.
  • Lastly, I am currently working on becoming an accredited teacher for Institute for Excellence in Writing. It's a writing program often used with homeschool students. I've used it with my boys and I really like the program. It doesn't cost anything extra to become accredited because I already own the materials needed. I'm not sure what I'll do with the accreditation but potentially teach online writing classes for homeschool students at some point.
Some of these items won't take long and have deadlines built in, like the yard sale next weekend and my trips, which have already been scheduled. Others I'll need to make sure I stay self-motivated or they won't occur, like the book project!

I'll be back in September with an update! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Misfits Market

Misfits Market

The name alone caught my eye. I've been seeing ads on Facebook for something called "Misfits Market." It looked interesting but not enough to really make me look further. And then I had a couple of local friends order boxes and start sharing how much they liked it!

As the name implies, the company is dedicated, as they say, to ending food waste. The food they sell are items that cannot be sold in stores - for whatever reason. Most often it is simply due to what the food looks like - it isn't "pretty enough."

Based on what my friends liked about it, I decided to give it a try. Using one of my friends referral codes, I ordered my first box. The referral code gives you 25% off your first order. I opted for the smaller box, the Mischief size, since I'm not cooking a lot nor do most of my family eat fruits and veggies. Yes, I know, that's another battle for another day. (My referral code is at the end of this post...hint...hint...hint...)

The photo above is what I received - all for just under $20 - and all organic.

onions, mangoes, and red potatoes 

lots of small multi-colored peppers

head of romaine lettuce, bunch of radishes 

head of cauliflower, squash, zucchini 

I did receive three peaches in the box. One came already going bad and the other two went bad within just a couple of days of receiving them. I have found peaches to be a little like avocados in there regard to when they are ripe. My hubby has already eaten some of the peppers and loved them. I'm planning to use some of the other produce for meals this week. 

Misfits Market offers a one time purchase or a subscription. I opted to do a subscription and have it delivered every two weeks. I do not enjoy gardening and this is a quick and easy way to ensure that we have some good fruits and veggies on hand for meals.

The food is shipped in a box lined with plastic covered Styrofoam - essentially making a regular cardboard box into a cooler. Most of the food is loose in the box. You can see in the photos that some were contained in bags. There were also two reusable cold packs included. This shipped very quickly to me via UPS. The day I ordered it, it was out for shipping and I received it two days later. 

If you are interested in trying out your own box, here is my referral code: You can click on that to receive 25% off your first order. I do receive a small kickback for you using it - it's a win-win!

Disclaimer: I ordered through Misfits Market all on my own. I received nothing in exchange for this review. I just really liked the service they offer so I wanted to share about it. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Homeschool Through the Years

My middle son graduated recently.

I have been homeschooling now for 17 years. It seems like just yesterday that my boys looked like this gathered around our small little kitchen table.

My middle son recently graduated from our homeschool - Freedom Academy. We had a very informal ceremony here at our home. His dad spoke. I spoke and then I simply handed him his diploma. It was really that easy, but not.

That moment in time represented the last twelve plus years of his education. He has been the first of our children to never have any "formal" education in a classroom other than our home. Kind of. The last two years he has done dual enrollment with some of our state universities. He did get a chance to sit in an actual college classroom last fall. Not only has he completed his high school education a but he also graduated with 16 college credits already earned. 

Homeschooling has been good for us. When I look back to the reasons why we started, not many have changed. We always wanted to foster better connections with our kids by being the primary influence on them. I think we succeeded well there. My boys are good friends. They actually enjoy spending time with us, which I think is amazing given many relationships I see. 

I'm not writing this post to be a "look at our success!" kind of deal. I'm just a homeschool mom who sees the end of that career drawing to a close very fast. And it has been my career! I may not have a degree in education (I actually did begin one and planned to teach elementary school but that's another story), but I have loved teaching my boys...most of the time. 

I have three years left in which to direct the education of my youngest son. It will be the first time in quite a few years that I have only one child to homeschool. Needless to say, given that he will be in 10th grade, it will be a bit different than when I was homeschooling my oldest in the elementary years. 

I'm going to enjoy these last few years to their fullest while I figure out what's next for me. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

{Review} Cashmere Writing Gloves

Late last year I was given the opportunity to do a review of products on a website called Literary Book Gifts. I loved what I saw on there so when I was given the chance to review their new writing gloves, I jumped at the chance.

I live in Maine where winters can be rather cold. We heat with oil which is efficient but often leaves the house a bit chilly as we keep the thermostat a bit lower because of the cost of oil. This means that often while I'm working on my computer or my phone or my tablet, my hands are just simply cold! I type fast but it's never fast enough to keep my fingers warm.

These gloves, however, are perfect. They cover everything but the ends of my fingers. There is even a hole for my thumb to poke out (one of my favorite features). They are light enough that my hands don't overheat. They are like a snugly blanket for my hands. I absolutely love them.

They are made of 35% cashmere and the rests is a blend of cotton, polyester, and microfiber. They come in thirteen different colors.

My only cons for this particular product is the price at $52 each. I also didn't like that I couldn't see what the colors looked like before purchasing. I even searched the rest of the website to see if I could find samples on some of the t-shirts they offer. However, the only color I could find on the website for the gloves was the default picture of light heather grey.

I took a chance when I ordered the heather purple and I was pleasantly surprised. I adore the color. It's a royal purple and perfect for me.

Literary Books Gifts sells many other book related products such as book bags and oodles of t-shirts for both men and women. It is a great site to purchase a unique gift for the book lover in your life. 

Disclaimer: I was given a pair of writing gloves from Literary Book Gifts in exchange for writing this review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

#Goals Update

Lifting a 80# keg over head

In January I wrote about a goal I had for this year, to compete in a Strongman Competition. This past April I did just that. It was as amazing as I hoped it would be. I had spent almost four month training in order to be prepared for this competition. Some of things I felt like I went in being very prepared for while others, not so much. However, that was the nature of the competition. 

Overall though, as I told my friend, just simply walking through the door to compete was my win for the day. It's the first time ever I can remember starting something related to my health and finishing it well. 

The comp was smaller than it had been in recent years as it was not a sanctioned comp this year. Strongman is a national sport. In order to get to the national level, one must compete at local events to earn points. This was the first year the Central Maine Strongman was not a sanctioned event which meant many who would normally compete, those looking to head to the national stage, did not. 

What this meant was a much smaller competitor pool. In other words, I only had one other woman in my division. One open division only had one competitor. This didn't mess with me too much as I haven't ever done a sanctioned event. In fact, I think it helped a bit! I could just go in and have fun. And my positive spin was that with only one other competitor, I was sure to get a trophy! Ha! 

The events of the day were as follows:

  • Event 1: Last Man Standing Keg Press: (photo above) My division started with a 60# keg. Each competitor had 30 seconds to bring the keg from the ground to a locked out position overhead without using a stagger grip. The kegs would continue to get 10# heavier until only one person could lift the weight up. My goal was to hit 100# which I hadn't done in training (mostly due to what we had available to train with). I had been able to get the 90# keg up during training, but on this day, I was unable to so I came in second at lifting 80# up. And I love the photo of me lifting the keg. You can see my insulin pump clipped to the back of my pants and the black square on my arm is my continuous glucose monitor. 
  • Event 2: Car Deadlift: Yes, I lifted a car. There was a heavy frame and the back wheels sat on that. Then there was a yoke with exercise bands attached to make it slightly easier for the women to lift. As the weight divisions increased, the bands were released until the last men's division had no bands. It was very heavy but as to how much exactly, it was impossible to say as there was no good way to measure it. I used lifting straps to help and my left hand sustained some very pretty bruising as a result. I managed to lift it 9 times in 60 seconds. I was happy with that. 

  • Event 3: Grip Medley: Oy vey. This was a "surprise" event in that we knew we had a grip medley but we didn't know the weights until the day of the comp nor did we know what the grips were. We had 60 seconds to lift them up. Each had to be lifted only once until we were standing. We had to be controlled as well so if it was dropped too quickly, it had to be redone. And yes, I saw that happen with some competitors. There were four grip implements. I didn't let this one mess with my head too much as most of the women struggled with this event. My competitor and I only managed to lift the same one. Out of the all the women competing, only about three managed to lift more than one and some zeroed. 
This one weighed 35# and was the only one I was able lift. It had a 
large rectangular grip that spun.

This one weighed 30# and had to be picked up by only using your fingertips. 
There is a round shallow circle on top that even my little fingers barely fit on.

This one weighed 90#. It was a smooth rolling grip.

This weighed 110# and the grip went straight up and down. 

  • Event 4: Yoke Carry, Keg Carry to Keg Over Yoke: This may have been my favorite event. The yoke looks almost like the letter H. One stands up under the crossbar and lifts it onto one's shoulders and then walks/runs with it. For my division, the yoke weighed 300#. Yes, 300#. We had to carry it 40 feet. Then run back and grab a 90# keg and bring that back to the yoke. Once there you have to load the key over the crossbar as many times as possible in the time limit. I had trained using the original 90 second time. It was brutal as that meant just about a full minute or more of loading. The day of the competition that was changed to a 60 second time cap. I managed to load the keg six times (that was the number that mattered at the end). 

  • Event 5: Wheelbarrow Load Race: This was another hard event to train for as we didn't have a wheelbarrow at my gym nor did we know the weights until the day of the event. This was the event I was most proud of because of all that though. We had 60 seconds to push a wheelbarrow (photo below) 18 feet, load a 90# keg, push it another 18 feet, load a 60# keg and push it 18 more feet across the finish line. My highest deadlift ever was 250# so I knew this one would be tough and I hadn't touched the wheelbarrow until the day of the event. This was the last event. I was getting tired. I knew it had the potential for me to quit. And I almost did. A friend took a video that shows that moment. And I stepped back and told myself to keep going until that timer rang! And I did. I managed to move the 200# wheelbarrow and load the 90# keg, but I couldn't move it forward from that point on. I did lift it though so I managed to deadlift for one rep 290#! See, a positive spin on things!
This is the wheelbarrow. However, instead of plates, they had two
"cages" bolted on in those positions and we loaded kegs instead.

This was something I knew once I said I was doing the competition than I had to commit. It wasn't something I could do last minute. I had to show up to my training sessions. I had to dial in my nutrition to support the physical work I was doing. I had be fully and totally committed to being prepared. 

And I feel I did that. I'm still riding a bit high from this competition and it's now the beginning of June. It was truly an amazing experience and I'm looking ahead to potentially trying another one in the fall. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

{Review} Other Bodies by Joel Ohman

I tend to shy away from controversial topics. It's not because I don't have an opinion about them. Trust me. I totally do. However, I really dislike controversy and arguing. It's just not something I enjoy and, honestly, I'm not very good at it. I often have a hard time conveying what I think clearly in that type of situation.

This is why I thought long and hard before asking to be part of this review. Joel Ohman is an author who decided to tackle not only a controversial topic in his newest book, but perhaps one of the most controversial topics, abortion.

Other Bodies follows a young teenage girl named Hattie. The setting is somewhere in the future where the government has failed, the economy has failed, and the environment is so bad that the rivers only have trash floating in them and the sun no longer shines. Hattie is struggling to survive living in the inner city of Philadelphia after her grandfather, who raised her, has passed away. She can barely afford food or rent when she manages to finally land a job at Managed Motherhood (MM). She makes friends there and enjoys her job.

One aspect of her new job is to help the clients who come in to have an abortion. In this time period, there are robots who help with the procedure. In fact, there are so many robots that there have been laws enacted to protect their "human-ness." It's during a tour of the Medical Ring, when Hattie is shown how the Transport and Examination Devices or TEDs work. These robots give the patient a 4-D virtual experience all while scanning and documenting their health.

Hattie learns during her VR experience to help show her what the patient encounters that she is pregnant. Pregnant, broke, and barely surviving even with her new job. The book explores what it is MM does at their facility along with the ramifications of hard choices. Hattie determines that she cannot keep her baby and has an abortion. The book then follows her as she struggles with this decision and struggle she does.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. Author, Joel Ohman, is a great writer. I enjoyed the dialogue and the overall story. I'm just feel the end of the book lacked closure, but perhaps that was the point. He uses the story line to explore aspects of abortion that have come in to play recently, namely the selling of body parts. He shares why he felt the need to write this book HERE.

Ultimately the title plays in to the line that continues to roll through my mind "the body inside your body is not your body." The book is definitely thought provoking no matter where you stand on the issue of abortion.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this book for review. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Friday, January 25, 2019

{Review & Giveaway} CSB Day by Day Chronological Bible

**The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Zena Griffeth! Congrats!**

I love a good story. Just ask anyone that knows me. I have shelves of books in my home. I typically have at least two books going at a time (if not more). I just love reading.

The greatest story every told is the Bible. Have you ever read it cover to cover? I have a few times and I'm currently in the process again. I'm using a Bible app to keep me on track but I'm doing the actual reading in my NIV Study Bible that I've had for years. I'm about halfway through the Old Testament and I learn something new every time I read. I love that about the Bible.

I was approached about checking out a new chronological Bible. During one of my read throughs, I used one such style Bible. What's amazing about this method is it really helps one to see the overall timeline of the biblical story. I loved that I could see where the major and minor prophets fit into the biblical narrative. I really enjoyed reading it that way - like a true story line.

The CSB Day by Day Chronological Bible does that and more.

First let's go over the set up of the Bible itself. There are 52 weekly readings in the Bible. It's set up for one to read six days a week with the seventh day for reflection of the week's readings. There are large areas for you to jot notes on day seven. The text is also set up as in a single column so there are wide margins throughout allowing for ample room to jot down thoughts as one reads. The readings, as implied by the title, are in chronological order. This is not a Bible one would want to use to look up chapter and verse quickly and easily. It's not set up like that at all although it does have a nice index in the back so one can easily find a chapter/verse if desired.

The readings are broken into three main acts: God's Plan for All People, God's Covenant People; and God's New Covenant People. Each act begins with an introduction that talks about the setting and the people involved. Then each act is broken down further into scenes (think of how plays are written), and within the scenes, the readings. For example, the smallest Act is Act 1 which only has three scenes. Each scene has one to three readings. The largest scene is Scene 2 which covers the majority of the readings with nine scenes total. The last Act has five scenes.

Each day's reading starts with a introduction, questions to think about while reading, and lists out the reading for the day.

Now for the translation. I know there are folks out there who are very adamant about which Bible translation they read and why it's the correct one. I don't fall into that category. I grew up on the King James Bible but for the most part I have always read the New International Version. More recently I use the New America Standard Bible (NASB). And I even {gasp} read the Message version from time to time. One of my absolute favorite things to do is read the same verse in different translations as it helps me to see what it means.

If you'd like more information about the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation, then you can check it out on the publisher's website by clicking HERE.

I know that the next time I do a read through of the entire Bible (it will start when I've completed this current one), I will be using the CSB Day by Day Chronological Bible. I love the way it is set up and the entire feel of it.

Did you make a resolution this year to do a Bible read through? If you'd like to win your own copy of the Bible, please leave me a comment. This is a short time frame on the giveaway. You have until midnight tonight eastern standard time to leave your comment. The winner will be announced tomorrow on January 26, 2019.

Disclaimer: Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.