W is for Whale, Homeschooling Boys at 3 and 4 years old.

In all, our “school time” looks different day-to-day.  Today we did worksheets, but I prefer to teach in context.  For example, when driving next to a train loaded full with cargo containers two-high to a car, I explained to the boys how we can count by two’s.  This made it easier for them to see a real-world application of this mathematical principal.

We also work collaboratively with two other family’s in a co-op that meets weekly.  We teach on a rotating basis and follow this free curriculum.  So far, we have all really liked it.  But, in the spirit of adventure, I find myself supplementing the curriculum often.

JUST BECAUSE I CAN 🙂

Homeschooling is so RAD in this way.  We can do what we want when we want.

Hank loves school because its his way of getting out of “quiet time” (nap)  and doing something one-on-one with me.  I prefer keeping the definition of school loose so as to incorporate real world learning and supplement with worksheets as needed.  I don’t know if I’d say we are Un-Schooling , but perhaps a little.

I expect our homeschooling journey to morph and take shape as we go along through the years.  I love that there’s no pressure to get it all right on the first try.

Together we are LEARNING.

W is for whale

W is for whale 2

We started homeschooling in September (2014). While we’ve only been at this a few months I have to say its off to a good start. I love how we can tailor it to our day.

Today the boys worked through “W is for Whale”. In this lesson we traced big “W” and baby “w”, colored a whale, and practised a worksheet on matching capital A, B, C and D to their lower case pair. Then we talked about the letter W and practised saying the “wahhh” sound several times alone and in words. I find repetition is super helpful for my boys. I don’t worry about them wiggling or getting up and sitting down a bunch at this stage.

I have VERY active boys so I feel it is unneccessary to spend our learning time focusing on mastery of impulse control (I have a neurology background and know that it’s a futile effort with such young minds). Instead, I use short and frequent phrases to bring their attention back to the task at hand. I intentionally give praise and attention in response to desirable behavior (thank B.F. Skinner and his theory on Operant Conditioning for that wisdom) and move along when I see they are no longer able to attend.

A friend of mine (who has a teaching background) told me that children can attend to a task 1 minute for each year they are old.  With that in mind our focus on a given task is only 3-4 minutes!  Then we move along.  Its fun and pretty fast paced.

I love that today, Hank told me to leave him alone while writting his letters because he wanted to do it all by himself.  Big boy!  Just two weeks ago he wouldn’t try unless I did hand-over-hand with him.

I’m really enjoying leading them but letting them experience the feeling of doing things as they are ready.  I don’t pressure them but I do encourage them A LOT. 😉

Dear Jesus, please help us to learn with joyful hearts.  Please help me to have wisdom to teach what you want the boys to know.  I pray for great mentors and above all a passion and thirst for learning.  Amen.

Zombie

T’was the morn before Halloween

I just stumbled and staggered around

So tired I made a long moaning sound

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

My eyes glued shut from Mr. Sand Man’s dust

No coffee in the land

But search blindly I must

Arms outstretched, not yet really me.

But wait there’s some!

Happy Hallows Eve!

ULMas 1st Anniversary, Let’s Have a Happy Hour All Day!

I am the designer and owner of ULMas brand Beautifully Practical Breast Pads!  I designed them a few years back because I felt truly discrete, leak-proof, absorbent and pretty nursing pads should be a reality.  But, when I searched high and low I couldn’t find any that fit the bill.  Perhaps I had a high standard but I figured with a little a lot of work I could make just the solution come to fruition.

Once I got the design ironed out and tested thoroughly, I obtained a business license and launched Undercover Leaky Mommas on Etsy.  Well, that was a year ago already.  I can hardly believe the year we’ve had too.  I have learned a TON about on-line sales, tax codes, sourcing, time management, pr, marketing and SEO and inventory. I’ve learned how to do my own invoicing, how to anticipate sales and trends in fashion.
I’ve just been flying full speed into a huge market and the best part?

I get to do what I set out to do:

Help other mommas!

I love that other mommas don’t have to drive somewhere with their newborn or settle for whatever’s on the shelf at their local chain store.

All they need to do is visit my shop purchase the pads they like and soon thereafter they can have Nursing Pads that Really Work!

ULMas "Zebra" Print

ULMas “Zebra” Print

Along with having our first anniversary, Today Marks the beginning of National Breastfeeding Week.

As a way to celebrate these things, I have decided to give everyone a Happy Hour all day!  With this event every ULMas customer gets BOGO on all ULMas brand nursing pads all day today! ❤  Head over to ULMas on Etsy and Enter the code: “HappyHour” in the coupon code field at checkout to Buy One Get One Free on all ULMas Breast Pads!

Thanks for reading and thank you for your support!

Erica, ULMas

LogoBrownFill

Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Etsy

Dear Jesus,  Thank you above all for sustaining me each day. Thank you that I get to do something that helps other mommas out.  I love raising my boys and being a homemaker.  I love the life you have given me. Amen.

How To Get Into Fitness For Real- Part 2 Nutrition

Today is February 28th and I have officially been Into Fitness since January 29th.  I started with getting into a sustainable workout routine that I like.

Remember when I wrote part 1 of how to get into fitness?  Well, I have stuck to it and added the other half of the fitness puzzle: nutrition.

I am down 7.6 pounds as of today! So I guess you could say what I’m doing is working! 🙂

BUT MORE THAN WEIGHING LESS, I FEEL WAAAAY BETTER!

Woot! That’s my goal. 🙂

We all gotta eat to live but what we eat really impacts how well we live.  I started thinking that NOT ALL CALORIES ARE CREATED EQUAL.  With that in mind I took a look at what calories would help me to FEEL GOOD.  Afterall, feeling good is my goal here.  I want to live a long life feeling as good as I can by living out Real Fitness.

Real Fitness (to me) means sustainable healthy exercise and healthy eating.

  What makes it sustainable is choosing quality calories so you aren’t starving.  I mean it.  If you eat primarily junk calories, then you are starving and no amount of junk calories can deliver the nutrition you NEED.  The result is you are nutritionally starved.  I have noticed that when I eat McDonald’s for example that I am hungry soon after eating.  When I eat hard-boiled eggs and toast I am way more satiated for fewer calories.  I don’t think it is right to tell you what to eat.  I just want you to think about what you like to eat and ask yourself:

Are these quality calories?

&

How can I make substitutions to improve the quality of what I eat?

With that said, I enjoy a mocha almost, if not, every day.  This mocha has milk chocolate and white chocolate powder *read* NOT QUALITY CALORIES.  But, I want to eat in a way that I enjoy so I substituted skim milk for whole and don’t go overboard on the chocolate.  I put just enough in to make it enjoyable.

I make sure my calories are in large part from real food, not processed crap.  Remember, the tiny part of the food pyramid is fats and oils.

I’ve also started counting calories so I know how much is in what I eat.  This helps over time to learn what appropriate portion sizes are.  I’m also finding I don’t want junk food as much because I know it won’t make me feel good for very long.  In fact, it will make me feel awful if I let it get out of proportion in my total daily intake.

You know what else?

Those fatty sweet and salty foods spike your appetite and when you eat more and more, you gain weight.

I want to feel good and when I eat quality calories there’s just no need to binge on junk.

Instead, I measure out a serving of the goody I want and put it in a seperate container or bag.  For example, I bought Cadbury chocolate eggs (the little ones that come out for Easter every year).   I love them enough to pay the outrageous price!  Since I am focusing on eating quality calories I don’t need Cadbury to fill my hunger.

I get to enjoy Cadbury Chocolate Eggs for what they are; just a treat.

So, I hope you can see my point here that eating well doesn’t mean eliminating the treats (at least in my book).

FOCUS on making sure you get the QUALITY CALORIES you need first, then if you still want  a treat, you can enjoy a serving.

If you are wanting to get into Fitness for Real I hope you’ll join me!  I am loving it.  I feel so much better.  Fitness is all about giving your body what it needs.  I love the stress relief of exercise and losing a few extra pounds is awesome too!  I love the stress relief of quality calories.  I love the stress relief of not being on some sort of “diet”.  Sure you won’t lose 20 pounds in a week this way but you could in ten weeks and then NEVER see that 20 pounds again.  When you are into fitness for real, you care about what your body needs to work its best, not about losing weight right now.

 Believe me, if you do something hasty like take pills that raise your “metabolic heart rate” *read* “up your risk of a heart attack!”  you are more likely to lose weight and gain it back and have long-term health problems.

That just doesn’t meet my goal.

Dear Jesus,  You are ultimately in control of our health.  Thank you that you designed our bodies to be efficient machines and gave us the means to be fit.  I pray that anyone who reads this is blessed by it and that you will enable them to take good care of the body you gave them.  I love you Jesus.  Thank you for sustaining me and giving me each breath.  Amen.

How to Get into Fitness FOR REAL Part 1 of 2, Mix-It-Up Monday’s

By now, most everyone’s new-years resolution to “eat right and exercise” has fizzled out.  Maybe they fizzled out January 3rd.

As a child I was in almost every main stream sport: soccer, basketball, volleyball, swim team, gymnastics, ballet, track, cross country….etc…

When I wasn’t playing a sport I was jumping on the pogo stick with my buddy or killing hours on her trampoline.

Looking back, I was working out A LOT!

Why?

Well I wasn’t obsessed with being a certain weight or looking like Angelina Jolie or something like that.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, a lot has changed.  I am married and have two toddlers climbing me (literally as I write this, Gideon is requesting the “Animal Sound Song” on YouTube.)  My day is so full of the demands to just keep the proverbial plates spinning on my finger tips.

I am busier than ever but when do I work out?

I’m more beat than ever how can I possibly add exercise?

I just want a break!!!

Ok that catches us up to almost two weeks ago when I went from a sporadic exerciser to someone who works out 6 days a week.

HOW?!?!

Here’s what I did.  I am not a doctor but this is what worked for me.

STEP 1: FIND YOUR MOTIVATION

I used to think the right video or gym membership would be the golden ticket.  It turns out neither really worked for me.  I never found the perfect video (and felt it was a waste of money to keep searching) and the gym didn’t work either.  I was way too distracted by other people.  I found myself unsure of what exercises to do and generally felt self-conscious.  So while the gym is great for some, it wasn’t for me.

I mentioned above that I JUST WANT A BREAK!!!! AH!!! 🙂

For me, that is the golden ticket.  Exercise is my break.  I was using social media for this purpose but never felt better for having searched Facebook.  It couldn’t make me more relaxed because I would get annoyed waiting on pages to load.

I began the search for a way to feel like I got a break.  Enter exercise.  Allow me to explain, exercising vigorously for just 10 minutes triggers the release of “feel good” hormones.  That means that every time I workout I feel good afterwards and more calm.  I feel more collected.

Oddly, for me, exercise isn’t about what all the diet industry mantras would have you think it “should” be about.  I’m not trying to look like Barbie or lose 20 pounds in a week (yikes!)  I lost 25 pounds in a couple of months when I was so sick.  It was NOT good and I DON’T recommend it.  I became medically malnourished.  Bad Bad Bad.  What’s more the weight I reached wasn’t “cute” it was scary.

I urge you to avoid exercising for the wrong reasons because it isn’t sustainable and will do more harm than good.  In extreme cases leading to malnutrition and a whole host of illnesses or obesity.

STEP 2: Gear

Think minimal here and put it on first thing before you have come up with an excuse.  The point is to get things that work but don’t become a stumbling block between you and feeling good.  In other words, don’t over think this step.

I got this sports bra and I cannot recommend it enough.  I like it because it is VERY supportive and comes in bra sizes so you can get a great fit.  This is tough for me usually but not with this bra.  It fits so well I can jump without discomfort or really much movement at all!

I also got supportive foot wear.  I like Merril brand shoes because they fit my feet well.  The big take-away here is get shoes that fit your specific needs.  I supinate (my feet roll out) and need great arch support.  Take a minute to consider your feet then choose a shoe that fits you well.

STEP 3: ROUTINE

I have found I want to workout to some degree every day.  To start I did just 10 minutes a day.  I streamed free kickboxing videos off YouTube and did them on my trampoline to reduce the impact on my knees (I have low cartilage in my knees so “pounding the pavement” is not good for me.  The trampoline is a great solution for this and cheaper than getting several machines to get a range of workouts in.)

Why 10 minutes?  Because when you are just getting started this will be enough to get the endorphins going.  I don’t repeat behaviors that don’t have a pay-out.  If I do too much too soon I will wear myself out and be too sore the next day to keep going.

Do you see a recurrent theme here?  I am working out to FEEL GOOD.

I kept this 10 minute routine for a few days but then noticed that I felt like going just a little longer so I mixed in a couple of 20-26 minutes routines.  This week (the beginning of week three)  I plan to do Monday/Wednesday/Friday kettlebell routines (off YouTube, I like Fitness Blender) and Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday kickboxing routines (off YouTube I like BeFit).  I plan to do different ones each day and to keep each workout under 30 minutes for the next several weeks.  My goal is to workout aggressively for a shorter amount of time so I can trigger the feel good hormones and break a good sweat then be done for the day!

Over time our bodies become accustomed to the workload and the time will need to increase.  I expect to be able to keep my 10-30 minute routines longer by keeping a good variety.

Variety is important to avoid boredom and avoid a plateau (where you don’t see results).

I am intentionally doing 3 days of Kettlebell and 3 days of Kickboxing on an alternating basis because this will be a rotation of weight training (kettlebell) and cardio (kickboxing).  On Sunday’s I do light exercise (this could be walking) just to get the blood flowing and keep my muscles loose.

From what I have read you need both weight training and cardio to be fit.

So there you have it!  3 steps to getting into Fitness for real!  I hope you get to feeling good today.

CLICK HERE to read the second half of this post.

Dear Jesus, I am so excited to finally have a motivator for exercise that excites me.  Thank you for designing our bodies this way.  I pray this post will help others to get going on their fitness journey and I pray they will take it slow and listen to their bodies so they stop long before they cause themselves harm.  Lord, we often want instant gratification and if that looks like x pounds lost the temptation is to go about it in an unhealthy way.  Please bring conviction where necessary to prevent me and others from using a good thing like exercise, to harm the body you gave us.  Amen.

Oh Santa I Try to be good, Mix-It-Up Monday’s

This Christmas when I get coal, I will send out invites to our winter barbecue.  With that said here’s my letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,

I try to be a good momma

I try to be a good homemaker

I try to be a good cook

I try to be a good business owner

I try to be a good boogie wiper

I try to be a good wife

I try to be a good friend

I try to be a good diaper changer

I try to be a good discipliner

I try to be a good sister

I try to be a good Christian

I try to be a good cleaner

I try to be a good dresser

I try to be a good organizer

I try to be a good saint

But so far I’m really just good at:

Making my boys cry simultaneously because I said no

Making my boys cry simultaneously because I said yes

&

Making my boys cry simultaneously because I decided to remain silent, calm and carry on.

p.s.  You probably already know this but USPS will allow you to ship my coal with a flat rate box to save you money, since I imagine I will be getting extra this year. 😉

sincerely,

One Bad A** Momma

Dear Jesus,

I am so thankful that I can depend on you and point the boys to you.  I am so thankful that Christmas is really about you!  I am so grateful that the little years, though tough, are precious and fleeting.  Thank you for keeping me humble and blessing me abundantly. Amen.

Sick Days Mean Productive Days- Toddler Activities-Fine Motor Skills

If you read yesterday’s post then you know we’ve been home this week resting and healing up.  Regardless of Gideon’s Croup and Hank healing from the stomach flu, we need things to do to pass the time.

Earlier today, I enlisted Hank’s help “cutting” fabric for heat packs I am making to sell here.

Hank cutting fabricHere’s a finished one:

Open view of Owl and Green Snowflakes Snowflake side set Owl side set

We kept busy yesterday playing play-doh until I broke out the toothpicks and we practised some fine motor skills. 🙂

Poke The Holes:

Giddo with toothpicks Hank playdoh Hank with toothpicks and playdoh Proud Hank-with momma smile

I love that last one of Hank cheezing.  I used to smile just like that when I was little.

My good friend, Mary, gave me the idea for this next activity:

Threading Snakes!

I pulled the laces out of my hiking shoes and cut up plastic drinking straws like this:

supplies for snake threading

I threaded one and tied it so it couldn’t slip off then explained that they were going to thread the stripes onto their snakes.  They loved this one.

Giddo threading his snake Hank Threading his snake

Dear Jesus, thank you for good quality time with the boys.  They amaze me.  I am confident you are an awesome God when I look at the purposeful and imaginative things you make.  Amen.

Gideon to the ER

Sunday night after a long day tending to Hank who had the stomach flu, I drove Gideon to the ER after 11pm.  😦

He had a raspy voice and a strange cough all day but was in great spirits until shortly after going down for bed.  We could hear a strange cry on the monitor like a maimed animal. So sad.

I took him out of bed and discovered he was having difficulty breathing.  He’s only two this was horrifying for me as a momma.  I rushed into the bathroom and started pouring a bath then a shower then holding him in the steam filled room.  Bart took over and I went to get eucalyptus oil to add to the water.  While Bart was holding Gideon we observed his ribs as he pulled with all his might to draw each breath.  I was so scared.  I called the on call nurse who recommended calling 911.  Shortly after calling, the EMT’s arrived.  Gideon is such an amazing little boy he was smiley despite his misery.  They advised us to take him to the ER.  Bart stayed home with Hank, who was resting peacefully in his bed (thank you Jesus).  I loaded Gideon up and off we went to the hospital.

I felt horrible taking him out in the cold so dog sick.  When we arrived at the hospital we drove past all the parking spots that are reserved for the elderly, disabled, and rechargeable cars.  That last one makes me angry.  I have to give preference to someone who drives a car they plug-in?  Way more important than my son getting to the ER quickly.  Anyway, no offense to folks who drive said vehicles.

The long walk through the parking lot to the ER entrance helped!  By the time the doctor evaluated Gideon, his cough was minimal and he even sang the ABC song!  I just love him.

Giddo in gown (1) Giddo in gown (2) Giddo in gown with blanky

I explained that his cough sounds like a bark and he was having such trouble breathing earlier.  He asked if it improved after going outside.  “Yes.” I replied.  He said, “Sounds like croup.”

He explained to me that when a child has croup going out into the cold air stops spasms and soothes the barking cough.  He administered a single dose of steroid to ensure Gideon wouldn’t suffocate and sent us on our way.  Just before leaving an assistant gave Gideon a popsicle.  That last part sounds ridiculous but they said to push fluids and that cold helps.

So out we went in the cold night 12am air past all the empty rechargeable car spots on the long trek to our car.  Gideon joyously chomped on his popsicle and I laughed at the craziness that was our Sabbath day.

Dear Jesus, Thank you that Gideon is on the mend.  Please heal him quickly.  Thank you for bringing Hank through the stomach flu quick too.  I pray for provision and health.  Please don’t allow Bart or me to get the stomach flu.  Amen.

When God Flips The Bird- Platelet Update

A little over a week ago, I cut my middle finger while preparing dinner.  My immediate thought was, “Oh great.  Now I’m going to bleed for three days.  How will I sew for my business?”  I finished making dinner and while eating realized there was no more blood.  Then after finishing the dishes, still no blood!

As some of you know, I have extensive clotting in my liver as a lasting complication from pancreas surgery last year.  Well, those clots stop blood flow from my spleen to my liver.  The resulting back-up of blood into my spleen means my spleen is enlarged and my platelets are way low (a clotting factor in your blood).

Or were…

My liver is still huge and the constant pressure of my ribs is hard to tolerate.

But

I cannot feel my spleen.  And I’m clotting normally (as I found out cutting my middle finger).  So, friends, we are witnessing God’s healing.

Last September, a nurses aid told me she had a dream about me in which God told her He would heal me and she placed her right hand over her upper right abdomen and said, “here”.

Since then, I have seen the ongoing complications as a call to faith.  Well, this is God moving.  Not even a year later and my spleen is no longer painful or swollen.  And thank you Jesus, my platelets are up!

I also think it’s worth noting that God allowed me to cut my middle finger to announce to me that He is healing me.  Seems to me that He is sending a little “memo” to the enemy.

Thank you for your prayers!  I will be writing you in the future to tell you of God’s complete healing.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your sovereignty and being fully good.  I appreciate your abundant love and attention to every detail of our lives.  Please sustain my faith as I await your complete healing.  To you be the glory.  Amen.

Restaurant Style Steak, Fun Food Friday’s

Last Friday, the final day of Bart’s vacation, we ate steak that…..gasp…. I made!

And it was delicious!

I learned that restaurant style steak is super quick and pretty darn simple.

So here’s what I learned from a you tube video:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees farenheit
  2. Let your steak rest at room temperature until it is no longer cool (approximately half an hour)
  3. Once room temperature, prep your steak with a light layer of olive oil then salt and pepper
  4. Brown your steak 2 minutes to a side over High heat on the stove turning only once.  You are looking for a nice brown “crust”.
  5. Then pop them in the oven, pan and all, for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.

Then enjoy!

Steak- Restaurant Style

This time of year we have zucchini coming out of our eyeballs.  So if your husband is itching to use the barbecue have him fire it up!  Cut your zucchini into 2″ sticks and lightly braise with butter and salt then grill for two minutes.

Dear Jesus, man alive this was delicious.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for the provision to be able to cook filet mignon. :0) Amen.