Thursday, March 27, 2014

Co-op Flashback......AKA Day 13

So I am supposed to blog about school stuff today....and guess what I am too worn I dove into the blog archives and pulled out this gem.  LOOK AT MY SWEET BABIES! 


Some of my dear co-op friends and I were talking a few weeks ago about how I used to lug all my babies down that long hall each week for I get tired just thinking about it.  When we started they were 10, 5, 2, 2, and 1.....YAWN!  We have come a LOOONG way!




Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our First Co-op for the 2010-2011 School Year!!!

Co-op began again today. In case you don't know me well I'll let you in on a little secret. I LOVE our Co-op. It is a HUGE blessing to me and to my kids and to their education. It is also however a LOT of work. Our Co-op is made up of 14 families: Including 6 preschoolers, 6 1st-2nd graders, 4 3rd-6th graders, 8 7th-8th graders, 6 9th-10th graders, and 6 11th-12th graders.
I started last night preparing for today (not my lessons....they were planned long ago....just my preparing to get out the door). We packed the 3 little ones backpacks with a change of clothes and they each got to pick out one toy to bring. The BOY had his backpack and books packed and also had to bring his guitar, computer, basketball shoes, and Gatorade. The GIRL has been ready for weeks. Bookbag packed and re-packed several times. Let me tell you the apple did not fall far from the tree with The GIRL. Then....I loaded my things. We also picked out our clothes and had them all laid out and ready to go. So you can imagine my surprise when I was up by 6:30 and proceeded to shower, do makeup and hair,dole out cereal for breakfast, make sure everyone was dressed with shoes on, make 6 lunches, get the van loaded, kids buckled and be pulling out of the driveway by 8:40....AND WE WERE STILL LATE!!! Yep....My van was on empty, I forgot to feed myself, AND we had to go back home for THE BABY'S blanket. We were only 4 minutes late.....but still....LATE!

Co-op was fast, fun, and exhausting:
This year I am an assistant for the Preschool Bible/Music Hour
Teacher for the Elementary History Class
Teacher for the Preschool Art Class
Assistant for the Middle School Art Class

THE BOY is taking
Has a free period: in which he has to do a Math Lesson and Practice Guitar (he has this because we are doing a different History program then what the Co-op is doing)
and right after Co-op he has Basketball Open Gym for an hour and a half.

THE GIRL is taking
World History Ancient Times

THE TWINKIES and THE BABY are taking
Devotions and Music

Everyone was so happy to be back at Co-op and to be able to visit with our friends again! Thursdays are long and a lot of work but it sure is fun and definitely worth it! Now I have got to go to bed because tomorrow morning will be here soon!
Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Not Terribly Great Weight Update!

I kind of have been dreading this post.....

I STILL have not lost 100 pounds.  I quit Weight Watchers, although I still count calories and weigh and read their website and magazine.  I think Weight Watchers is a fantastic program because it doesn't cut out anything, it teaches moderation.  I just quit because I figured I could not lose weight at home rather then pay for it! 

So back in November I took a break.  I was a bit burnt out.  So from November until February I tried to eat sensibly and exercise sensibly (I had REALLY injured my left ankle/let from too much running)  and see what happened.  This was also part of the time Randy's Grandma was living with us and so it was hard to get out as much.  I stopped recording my food at this time as well.  I also stopped blogging about it.  So quitting weight watchers, the holidays, not working out as much, no accountability= No weight loss....and a 7 pound weight gain!  YIKES!!!!

So in March I decided it was time to get serious again.....I still don't go to Weight Watchers.....I just want to succeed without having to pay.  I am now recording EVERYTHING I eat again.  I'm using My Fitness Pal.  I am doing a lot more cross training.  I was over using the same muscles for running and not doing anything else which I believe is responsible for my injury.  I am still running.....and I am walking....and I am doing Zumba.  I am also doing a lot more core and toning and weights.  I am enjoying the variety.  I like the solitude of my runs and the camaraderie of my Zumba Class! 

I am also using a Fit Bit to track my activity and I like the friendly competition and encouragement it offers as you can compare your steps with your friends.  It helps me remember to MOVE throughout the day.  Little movements do add up! 

So far this month I have lost 2 of the 7 pounds I had gained!  However.....I am always trying to stay motivated and look at how far I have come.....I have still lost 86 pounds!  That is still not too shabby.


 So although I don't love that I had this little bump I am committed to finishing.  I'm also not going to hate my body.  I keep reminding myself this body carried and nurished and gave birth to 6 precious children.  2 of which were twins.  Can we say HUGE!  It has been through 2 C-sections.  It has nursed 5 babies.  So I'm not going to hate my body.

 I then neglected it for a lot of years as I tried to survive with 5 kids under the age of 8.....Starting out with 3 under the age of 13 months!  It was a bit stressful.  So its repair is not going to happen all at once.  I am committed to being healthy.  I am committed to not being overweight.  So I'm going to finish and learn and heal.......No matter how long it takes!

So here is some encouragement for the journey:
  • You loose 86 pound at a time.  Keep going!
  • (86 isn't too far from 100.....and I can do this!)
  • NEVER QUIT.  If you stumble get back up. 
  • Work don't wish.
  • It's not about how much you lift or how fast you run.  It's about how long you stick with it!
Still Swimming~and I've just gotten my second wind!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Things are going along rather smoothly around here.

I'm trying to do more hands stuff with Math and I'm also trying to do more of a Unit format with Math.  So all four of the youngest are learning about fractions.  The little three are simply learning parts of a whole, and numerators and denominators, they are comparing fractions with a like denominator.  Sophie is reviewing that and also learning to add and subtract fractions and find a common denominator and how to reduce fractions.  Fractions are hard and not too fun....but using literature like Dayle Ann Dodds Full House and M&M's do make it a little better!

My latest project is turning this beloved, well used, outgrown sandbox into my long wanted, well planned, dreamed for garden.  It is going to be a project!  I'm excited for the end result though!  I'll keep you posted!

It's definitely going to be a process.

We've been playing with Play Doh a lot lately.  Thanks to our sweet neighbor for making us 3 batches!  Thanks Ashley!

We've been taking lots of walks.  Audrey loves to help me walk Mindy in the morning and Lydia joined me last night for a 3 and 1/2 mile walk!!! 

She did great.  She even ran a little and we talked a LOT.  She informed me it is only the fourth time she has been alone with me in her whole life!  It was definitely a fun time!  I told her we would have to do it again soon.  She did not complain, or peter out, or ask to turn around.  I was very impressed!

Life's been full of the regular.....Walks, Errands, School, Appointments....The Twinkies had their 8 year old check up!

Jackson-98% in height....86% in weight.....healthy as a horse.
Lydia-48% in height......25% in weight.....healthy as a horse.

Notice the difference in the gown lengths.

Grocery Trips....


Yes we use that many groceries....every.single.week.

And the extraordinary.....

This picture is extraordinary.....It is the first time Jackson has EVER initiated his own reading of a book for pleasure.  EVER.  Praising the Lord!

Hope you are all having a great week,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Supper Club

We have a Supper Club that meets once a month for dinner at a local (usually) restaurant. It is always full of laughs and fellowship and good food! The only rules are new places, preferably local, haven't been as a group before. We vary the night and time between our schedules. The hardest part is usually scheduling!

PF Chang
While not where the idea was born..I I'll include it on our list. All I can say....Lettuce Wraps.....Must have!

State Fair
How can you not try out the local cuisine?! We had hot corn on the cob drenched in butter....some of us may have had two....., State's homemade ice cream, Country Ham Biscuits......and lots of other was a yummy trip!

Bull City Brewery and Burger
Good burger I got the Pimento Cheese. I wouldn't go back.....except for the FRIED PICKLES! FANTASTIC! I still think about them some days......I may need to go back soon! Simple/plain atmosphere. Nice outdoor seating.


Dames Chicken and Waffles
This was a hit! Definitely lived up to the hype. I would recommend reservations. Always hopping and not always open.


Pops and The Cupcake Bar
Pops was not my favorite place. It is trendy and you will probably run into people you know. It seemed really loud to me. Friendly wait staff.....Just didn't love the food. It was okay. Most of us chose from the pizza and Chris got an antipasto plate.....but none of us were wild about it. The Cupcake Bar on the other hand....was YUMMY! I got the vanilla cupcake with Buttermilk Almond frosting.....

Bone Fish Grille and Wendy's
This doesn't quite fit our's not local....but it was new so we did try it. I liked it a lot. Although Randy was a bit distracted by a basketball game on the TV during dinner! I had a Fish Sandwich and homemade chips....It was so good! Debra and Sherri had the fish tacos and both liked them too. Desert in keeping with the chain theme.....Frosty's at Wendy's! We had coupons.

Lily's Pizza and Mad Hatter
Again not my favorite. Most ordered pizza. They do have an extensive specialty pizza menu. I ordered the roasted vegetable salad and did not love it. I've been back since and had the pizza and definitely preferred it to the salad. Nice atmosphere. Great service. We did run and I do mean run....they were closing, into Mad Hatter for dessert. LOVE. Best cakes in town. Even if you have to eat it in the car!

Second Annual Christmas Party at the Mangum's House
This is always fun. We do potluck and a simple gift exchange. It's a nice break from the dining circuit :)

James Joyce
Did nothing for me. I don't even remember what I ordered and it was one of our more recent stops. It was very Blah....service, atmosphere, food. Definitely would not return.

I hadn't eaten here in years and I must say now I am wondering why! I had a Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwich (and fries....okay AND a KIDS hot fudge sundae) and it WAS FABULOUS! Everyone liked their meal: Omelets, Caesar Wraps, Chicken, Fajitas, Baked Spaghetti......Huge Variety! Also really great service. I like Elmo's and will go back!

I may be leaving some places out......but this is an idea of some of our dinner to decide where to go next month!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sovereign DAY 10

I'm not going into details...because it is not my story to share, but I will say on weeks like this week when lives are spared in what is very apparently a miraculous way....I am awed by God and his sovereignty.  He really is in control.  Even terrible accidents can not pluck a life a moment before their time to go.  Then I think of news stories of people doing safe things like laying in their beds at home and being swallowed into sink holes.  I am reminded again God is sovereign.  Even living in total safety we can not spare our lives.  We are not in control.  His plans will not be thwarted.  What a mighty God we serve!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lessons Learned DAY 9

Today I ran in a race: The Freedom Run!  This is big news because I haven't run 3.2 miles in a long time. 

Lesson 1: When you go a long time without running....your lungs burn when you run.

The proceeds from the race go to a Durham non-profit that works at transforming the lives of adolescent victims of human trafficking.

My sister in law, Holly, and an organization she helped start, ACT for Justice, were one of the sponsors of the event. 

Lesson 2: Regular people can make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.

As I ran I had no idea how much longer I had to go.  They didn't have the distances marked and I hadn't been able to get my run keeper to work at the start of the race.  I hadn't run in so long I just didn't have a feel for the distance.  Yet I wanted to keep running.  I just didn't know how much longer I could keep going.  It was getting hard.  I wasn't going that fast.  I was tired.  Seeing the finish line helps!

Lesson 3: Racing is a bit like life.

I kept thinking of Sophie and Jackson as I ran.  I thought about their journey to read and how we didn't know how much longer we had.  They want to read.  It's hard.  It doesn't always go well.  They are exhausted.....You know what though.....they don't quit.  They aren't allowed to give up.  So I wouldn't either.  That kept me running to the end!  Ran. every. step!  Slow and steady!

Lesson 4: Stuff is sometimes a nice incentive to keep going!

I got a new T-shirt and a new bib for my racing door!



Friday, March 21, 2014

My Nest

I am at this point in motherhood where my kids are still all in the nest.  Yet they are not so little anymore. 
Look at my baby girls and Sweet Stella!

Seems like yesterday!

Sweet Jack and Knox


I can't believe how much they have changed!

What a baby!

They have crossed lives with so many neighbors.

They have come and gone but sweet memories remain!

Such sweet childhoods.  Now they are venturing out.

In CARS!  To friends.  Into the neighborhood. 

It is nice and it is sad.  I can no longer control everything.  I can't protect them from the world.  I never really could but now all semblance of protection and control is quickly eroding.  Not only are they out in the world.  The world comes in....through the TV, the radio, the computer, the iPhones, the tablets.  I want to yell....STOP.....but it keeps on.  I set boundaries and I check and I limit...but still.....
I want to push pause.....but I can't find the button.
So I'm trying to be here.  When he's home and wants to talk....I want to listen.  When she's out of her room and board.  I'll help her make cookies.  When they come inside and want to watch a movie or TV I'll sit and snuggle.  They are going to move out one day....and I have a feeling if I blink they'll be gone!  Mission for the day is to get them all in one room at the same time....I'm going to make them pose for a picture!  I have them all in the nest for a season.......but there's a big one about to flew the coop!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yes! AKA Day 7

It's 10:22 and I have to write something about school.  I can't fail on my challenge during the first week!  My brain is FRIED from a long day at co-op and my heart is full from an evening of listening to several ladies from my church share their hearts and lives.  What a blessing!

I've thought about lots of things to blog about.   How I wish this school year were finished.  How busy co-op days are.  How much I admire mom's who are together enough to dress and get their kids dressed, fed, and out the door to school with homework and lunches at the crack of dawn 5 days a week.  I think that is amazing.  I could write about cool lesson plans I did this week.  The struggle of learning differences....

But the only school related thing on my heart today is my Jackson.  He read Go Dog Go.  Yes he is in second grade.  Yes that is a book kids read in preschool or kindergarten.  BUT my son has NEVER heard this book or read this book before.  It is about 54 pages long and he sat and read it aloud to his tutor today without error.  She got chills all over and had to run and tell me and I am proud.  He is going to read it to me tomorrow.  I'm planning to cry.  I am really, really proud of my boy.  Sure I wish he was reading chapter books like all the other second graders....but he's not.  Yet he is an amazing, fun, wild, awesome, bundle of noise and life and enthusiasm and he read a book today!  My boy read a book!!!

The End.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

REPOST of Shattered: AKA DAY 6

So today is supposed to be a post on weight loss and nutrition....but I'm not feeling it.  So I am re-posting a blog I wrote several years ago, in late October 2011, when a dear friend was dealing with a crisis in her family.  Recently I talked with another precious friend whose world has shattered too.  When I wrote this post the topic on my heart was very different then the topic on my heart today, but the shattered life that results is the same.  I read in my quiet time this morning: Psalm 34:18

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." 
This is my prayer for my sweet friend that the Lord would be near and that she would know that nearness in a a new and precious way.


Shattered (slightly adapted from first posting)

When something is shattered it is broken in many pieces. It makes a mess. It hurts others close by. The immediate tendency is to grab a broom and sweep up the mess and hide it or mask it. What was once a beautiful work of art is now a mess shattered on the ground. However all does not have to be lost. What if someone takes the time to pick up every piece and carefully, patiently, tenderly puts it back together? Guess what....Christ is in the business of restoring the broken. His expertise is in mending and redeeming what was lost and devastated and ruined!

But let me tell you a secret. A truth that God spoke into my life years ago, before I was shattered. Brokenness does not have to be the end. It can be a new beginning. No you won't look the same and yes there will be cracks. But if you are filled with the light of Christ, his light will shine brightly and it is through those scars and cracks in your life that he can shine the brightest.

Shattering can happen many ways: It can be caused by an accident, it can be caused purposefully, it can be caused by an illness, it can be caused by a death, it can be caused by carelessness......and shattering is not the stuff in life that takes a chip out of's not hitting the ground with a hard thud but remaining's when it all falls apart. Shattering happens quickly, in a is not an eroding. It is immediate. It's when you hit the ground, you fall to pieces, and life looks like it will never be the same. It's overwhelming, it's devastating, it's a mess.  It cuts and the pain is searing.

I've had several people I care VERY deeply for whose lives have shattered.  It breaks my heart. I hurt for them. I love them. I know truth and I can tell them.....God has a plan. He will use this for your good. But they already know that. And honestly that doesn't help when your life is shattered.

I am praying. There is hope. It is such a long process. Life will never be the same. I have not felt your particular pain. I can not imagine all that you are going through. My life has been shattered -once. So I do know about shattered dreams and I do know that God has used my cracks for his light to shine the brightest in those areas of my life.....but that took years. I also know it is a process and it takes much to long and hurts much to much for it to be a pleasant process.  First I had to piece by piece be put back together again. It took time.  A lot of time.   I ache for you. The process of a life being restored is not fun. HOWEVER precious friends there can be beauty from the ashes. I love you guys dearly. I will walk this road with you and I'll love you all forever.


This is our Savior, Redeemer, Restorer:

Isaiah 61:1-4
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stewart Family Update: DAY 5

Life just keeps buzzing by.....

Andrew and Sophie and Jackson finished up their basketball seasons. 

Andrew finished in February.  He had a good season.  During his last game he took a hard punch in the nose while going for a rebound. The officials had to call a time out to clean up the blood and he had to have his nose bandaged!!  Yet he was right back on the floor playing hard.  Not to mention just 36 hours earlier he had been in bed with the stomach bug.  Poor guy.  They lost that game which was the second round of the tournament.  It was a sad end to a tough season.  Hate I didn't get to see him play his last game, but I was home with other children with the stomach bug. 

The stomach bug plagued us for about a week.  Everyone got hit except Randy and Lydia.  UGH!  Glad that is over!

Andrew has also turned 16, gotten his drivers license and a car! 

He got the shock of his life at his party when we gave him keys to a car.  He thought it was a copy of the keys to our family car.  It was really cute.  He had NO idea!  We had assured him he was NOT getting a car.  SURPRISE!  It's a 2001 red Ford Escape with 166,000 miles on it.  He LOVES it.

He also got to spend the whole weekend with his Grammy at the ACC Tournament!  The other big Andrew news is he is in the process of applying for a job at Chick fil a.  I hope that will work out!

Sophie has recently started clogging for the Little River Cloggers and is really enjoying that!  She's been very busy with school.  This is her working on an experiment with Centrifical Force for her Physics class!

She spent some time working on a self propelled car with her Pa made for that same class!  Hers is air powered using a balloon.  It turned out really well.

Sophie is also my go-to girl for help cooking for Home Fellowship.  She is my every faithful kitchen helper.  Now if I could just figure out how to slow down her growing up.  It's happening WAY TOO FAST!  She loves to face time and text with her best friends.

Jackson is still cute.  Still wild.  Still a barrel of laughs and wiggles.  He loves basketball and was really sad when his season of playing ended, but also when his season of being ball boy for Andrew's team ended.  He is working hard with Mrs. Elizabeth and improving daily in his reading.  He hates reading and told Elizabeth recently that he "doesn't need to learn how to read because he's going to college at Duke to play basketball."  Smile.  She is in the process of tracking down a Duke Basketball player who will come and talk to Jackson about how.....even Duke Basketball Players have to learn to read!

He still lives to be outside; from dawn to dusk and he prefers to be barefoot and shirtless....regardless of the weather.  Seriously.

He is SUPER excited about the start of a new Trail Life group.  Think Boy Scouts type group.  Their first camp out is coming up.  He is counting the days!

Lydia is doing well.  She just got a hair cut.  She is also now clogging.  She's still playing the piano.

She wakes up every morning at the crack of dawn ready to go.  She is VERY task oriented and reminds me SO much of her Nanny.  She wants to get her work done....and done well.  There is no stopping her!  She announced last night that she "had a spy kit: It has my pen, my credit cards, a watch, and hand sanitizer!"  Well I'd say she's ready!  Love her spy gear!  Sweet girl.

Audrey is still the baby but she recently got a haircut and is looking pretty grown up.  We are working hard at getting her to stop sucking her thumb!  She is also clogging.  She LOVES reading....FINALLY got me a reader!  YIPPEE!!!  She loves to experiment with hair styles. 

She is FUNNY.  REALLY REALLY FUNNY!  She is easy to get along with and very laid back.  She's missing her two front teeth and is cute as a button!

I am doing well.  Recently got to join my Mama for tea at The Washington Duke. 

It was nice to get to visit with her.  I am loving all my helpers with school: Mama and Elizabeth and Dad and even Randy who helps on Tuesdays, his day off.  So nice to share the load!  I've been working out at Velocity with a couple friends and it has been soooo good for me.  Physically and emotionally.  I LOVE the toning classes.  I REALLY need them.  The Zumba is fun too.  I'm walking a lot.  Running a little.  Doing the elliptical a little.  I am READY for summer break.  I am ready to sleep in and lay by the pool.  READY!

Randy is a beast.  He runs like a maniac sometimes at the crack of dawn and other times way too late.  He will not miss a run though.  He is REALLY dedicated.  I could learn from him!  He is STRONG as an ox.  He LOVES his job and LOVES working out.  He got to take in a couple Duke games this season too which was a lot of fun for him.

Sorry for the long update.....
It's been a while!