Thursday, May 23, 2013

Year End

Another school year is coming to a close.  I have learned a lot in this past year.  The girls have been home with me for just over 1 year now.  I have not regretted the decision one bit.  It has been an adventure for sure!  There have been many stressful days.  There have been many laid back days. But one thing that was most valuable this past year was our chance to try out different schedules, activities, and learning opportunities.  There are a lot of lessons learned!  
Little Cowboy in his get-up!  "Howdy ma'am!"

I think trying to work around Little Cowboy's schedule has been the hardest.  He is a mamma's boy (something that I love), and he wants my attention quite a lot.  However, he also loves his sisters very much and he wants their attention a lot as well.  So, we have learned that in our tight space, it is best to do our school while he is asleep.  But even still, most of our learning experiences have been outside of the house even with the boy.

Over the past six months, we have hooked up with the local homeschoolers.  We have started up a co-op, where we meet together and teach classes, have parties, and just let the kids decompress and play.  When the kids don't get out of the house for a while, they start to get cabin fever (one lesson learned).  We have met some great friends at the co-op, but now our meetings are done for the summer.  Many of the families will continue to homeschool through the summer.  I have opted to step away from our feeble schedule and regroup.  I have learned many things that don't work:

First thing in the morning school--does not work for us at this time.
Late morning school--gets tricky due to the closeness of Cowboy's nap time... and lunch.
Winging my lessons works okay--but not as great as I would like.

This past year, I used a curriculum that is no longer in print, and I only have one volume of it.  It is Iron Rod.  I have really liked it.  It goes through the scriptures and has lessons developed surrounding that theme.  We spent weeks on the creation.  I know I blogged about it.  We focused on the solar system, time, seasons, animals, vegetation, water, and air.  It was a very time intensive unit that was a lot of fun!  After that we spent a number of weeks on Noah and the Ark.  We studied more in depth animals... mostly reptiles as that is what Bug is into, and Bunny sure was interested too.  We studied weather and some more spiritual matters surrounding faith in God and making and keeping promises with Him.  

This picture was part of our Creation Unit Study.  We were learning about time, and how we can tell time without a clock.
We went outside every hour to check if the shadow had moved.  We did it until the sun went too low to tell anymore.
I did some units solely for Bug.  She is very into drawing and art, so I taped together enough pages for her
to lay down on top.  I traced her body, and she decorated it after.  She really enjoyed this, and it hung on our front
door for quite a while!
Bunny got a scrapbook and camera for her birthday, so she has done some creative scrapbooking
and journalling.  She is very interested in developing her talents in photography!
Bunny turned 9 this year!  She is getting so big, I can hardly believe it!  We celebrated with a few friends pictured below.

For Bunny's party, I made bows, arrows, and quivers.  It was a lot of fun.  Here she is trying really hard to
make the arrow fly toward the target! Those bows and arrows have been a major hit!
Bug is a very creative girl.  I have recently learned that she is a right-brained learner.
So her favorite things are art and other hands on experiments and activities.  Santa brought her this floam.
We studied the Word of Wisdom.  If you do not know what that is, go here to read about it.  It is basically a guide to what we should and should not put into our bodies in order to keep them healthy.  For the past five months, we have been focusing really hard on nutrition and exercise.  Ultimately, the things that our bodies need to work most effectively.  In our home, we have been learning what foods we need in order to be healthy, and overall, our health and weight issues have gotten better.  We still have a lot of work to do, which will take us into the summer and beyond.  It is a lifestyle change... one that is not easy to do.  To give you an idea, Hoss has lost over 65 pounds, and I have lost just over 40!  The girls are eating better, and we have cut out fast food and sodas from our diets.  For the most part, we have cut out eating out in general.  This has been a huge help to us.  I think ultimately, this is the hardest lesson we are learning... one that takes up a lot of time, effort and commitment.

Little Cowboy is trying to put on his shoe.  He still has yet to master it, but he sure tries!
Now he has cowboy boots.  Those will be easy to put on when he gets ready.
I think the favorite thing to draw on is our large marker board.
LC likes to draw on it as well, however, he wanders quite a bit and winds up drawing on walls and doors.
I wish that I had taken more pictures and blogged more in depth, but for a while there I was taking classes online and I was just feeling too overwhelmed with everything.  Oh, another lesson learned there.  The point of me taking classes was to lead out and show the children how to learn.. how to study and read.  The only problem was that it had so much unnecessary busy work that taught me anything.  Why is that bad?  It was taking up all of my time mentally and physically.  So, while it was a worthwhile goal, maybe it can wait a little longer.  Its not like I won't be reading the same types of books and writing papers and notations on the classics.  My degree was in English Literature.  The homeschool method that I am using is based out of those very classics that I would read in school.  So it is win win.  I can get an education right along with my children!
LC's best friends are his sisters.  He loves them so very much, and they are so loving and caring toward him!
 Our year has been a very interesting adventure, and now I'm ready to put in place the lessons I have learned and start fresh next year!  Of course, we will have plenty of reading and mini lessons throughout the summer!  We are hoping to visit some new places, and of course visit Idaho!

I hope your summer is sunny and bright!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Emotional Eating

I have noticed that since being on my juice fast that I have not craved meat so much.  Interesting, I know.  And when I have eaten it, I have not had very much of it.  Those greens have been a lot more appealing to me.

It is interesting, because slowly.  Very.  Slowly.  My eating habits are starting to change.  I still have plenty of emotional attachment to those comfort foods:  Meat, potatoes, gravy, breads, pastas... you know, the stuff you grew up eating?  I don't believe that those types of meals are bad.  What is bad is my emotional attachment to them.  I have noticed something quite interesting in the last month.  THE.  ONLY.  TIME.  That I have craved sugar carbs and other not as healthy "comfort" foods is when I am dealing with some kind of emotional surge.

I remember one day in particular.  I think there was a lot of emotion floating through the house, because Bunny, Bug, and Little Cowboy were all acting out.  The girls were fighting/arguing with me, and Little Cowboy was crying virtually non-stop.  I was overwhelmed.  My children are with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Our house is very tiny.  There is no where to really go to be separated from anyone.  So what did I learn about myself?  I learned that emotion is a trigger.  I have used it in the past to start munching.  Crackers on the table?  *munch*  Cheese in the fridge? *monch*  More crackers?  Chips?  Cookies (We rarely have cookies in the house anymore)?  *nom nom*  The urge to stuff my face when I am stressed is so strong, that I almost always lose to myself!  Now that is just stress.  I haven't even tipped the ice burg for this emotional eating mamma.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Anger.  Sadness.  However, never do I get the emotional munchies when I am happy or excited.  Interesting right?

So, here is your food for exercise you can do to start recognizing your own "emotional munchie" cycle.  When you are craving food.  Stop.  Walk out of the kitchen and sit down at your desk or table.  On a piece of paper, write the following.....

"I am hungry because......."

Now analyze what emotions you are feeling in that moment of when you were ready to put something that you didn't NEED in your mouth.

In my case, back last week... I felt ANGRY.

"I am hungry because I am angry."

Then write and answer:

"How can I feed my hunger without actually eating?"
"Do I need a drink of water?"
"Do I need some sun?"
"Do I need a nap/rest?"
"Do I need to take the kids to another location for extended stimulation?"
"Do I need exercise?"

Then finally ask yourself:

"Do I NEED that piece of cake/cookie/cracker/candy?
I hope that this goes without saying, but if you are really genuinely hungry, please eat a balanced meal that will leave you satisfied until you need to eat again!  Every meal is important.

I have gotten to the point that I have been experiencing a negative emotion and I was ready to throw out my whole diet and exercise plan!  I was willing, in that moment to give it up for some beans and rice, that I knew would make me sick....and on the toilet all night long!  I was feeling so down on myself that I was willing to give it up.

What did I do?

Photo via
I ate those beans.  I ate all that was left over.  It was almost like my body went into autopilot.  I ate them AND the rice!  I filled that emotional hunger....and I was sick all night long!  Lesson learned.  Again.  Beans and rice can be a very healthy meal (depending on how it is cooked), but when you are on a juice diet..... I don't think I need to say more.

The outcome?  My eating released some endorphins, and I felt better for about 5-10 minutes or so, then I felt horrible about myself for giving in.  I guess it could have been worse.  It could have been cake or something like that.  But my "down on Evelyn" moment came right back.

I mentioned here that I was not getting enough calories, and now reflecting back to this day, that could have very well played a part in the whole cycle of emotional eating.  Most times I can stop myself from eating stuff that is not on my diet...but maybe not so much when my body is worried I am not feeding it.

There have been other times when I was having a hard day and craving everything that I was fixing for the kids.  Sandwiches, crackers (those are staples in our house).  Anyway, I was making lunch for Little Cowboy, and I was thinking about fixing myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich.  It sounded so good, however, instead of giving in to something that would later make me sick, I took a drink of water, clenched my teeth and made some juice.  I was proud of myself that day.  I did it.  I felt better about myself and my negative emotional day turned right around.

Our choices are powerful!

Do you have any tricks that you use to gain control over your emotional eating?


Evelyn Curtis

Monday, May 20, 2013

Catching Up: What I eat

Where do you start, when you have so much that you want to share?  In my last post, I shared a little bit about what I have been doing to be active and get exercise.  Nothing in detail, but just a taste.

So, for my diet.  Some of you might be totally surprised, or even think it is extreme.  Others might already know from my facebook posts on my personal profile.

I have been juicing.  What does that mean?  Juicing?  That means, I buy a ton of produce, and run them through my Breville Juicer, then drink it for all of my meals (You don't have to have it for every meal, you can supplement one or two meals a day with juice and eat a lean healthy dinner--preferably with as little meat and dairy as possibly).  It has become quite the trend I suppose.  I learned about it about 4 months ago.  We had netflix, and a friend suggested that I watch a movie called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (watch the full movie on youtube or find it on netflix).  So I did.  After that, I was suggested the movie Hungry for Change (you can find the full movie on Netflix, or you can watch it here). 

Full Movie
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is about an Australian man named Joe Cross who had a chronic skin condition that he was taking high doses of steroids to treat each day.  He had been doing some juicing here and there, and he would lose weight.  However, he would just return to old habits and gain weight back.  So he decided, with the help of his doctor, to start a more rigorous juice fast.  He committed to 60 days of consuming only fresh juice made from vegetables and fruits.  Over the course of the documentary, it shows his progress, how he coped, and how much weight he lost.  By the end of the documentary, he was able to get off of his prescriptions and was free of his condition.  His body healed itself, because that it was it can do, when we give it the right nutrition.  Watch it if you haven't.  It is very inspiring.

Add caption
Hungry for Change is also very inspiring, AND informative!  It talks about how our body digests food, and what happens to the nutrients in our food.  It goes further into depth with how our body can heal itself if we give it the right fuel.  God designed our bodies to fight off diseases... but it can't if it isn't healthy to start with.  One reason our body stores fat is because of toxins.  When we ingest something that the body doesn't know what to do with it, meaning it is toxic or not natural, the body covers it with fat... to protect the body and keep it from making you sick.  So, part of losing weight is letting your body burn that fat and release the toxins.  Having a juice diet is a great way to flush those toxins out of your body as you lose weight.  This documentary is a great follow up to Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  (UPDATE:  The link above allows you to see only 20 minutes of the movie free.  Find it free on Netflix).

I originally started out doing a 3 day juice fast.  I actually did 3 of those.  It wasn't easy at the start, but once my body went through the detox process, I started to feel so much better.  However, I just kept going back to same old habits with the same old cravings.  Those cravings can be hard to master... but not impossible.  My body was happy with the nutrients I was giving it during those juice fasts... but wondered what happened after the 3 days.

At that same time, I was working out daily, and my body was getting stronger.  My endurance was increasing, and I was feeling good.  But then my knee started to swell up, and it was painful and difficult to do my more rigorous exercises.  This was very frustrating, and in the past it would have defeated me.  But you see, this time around, before I started my weight loss program, I emailed my family and told them of my desire to lose weight for good this time... lose the weight and never find it again. :)  I had a few of them jump in as a support system, to which I was grateful for.  I knew they wouldn't let me slip off the radar without really getting after me.  So I started thinking about what else I could do.  It was the first time that my knee really swelled after starting my workouts, and I wasn't sure if it would go down.  I decided that if I couldn't workout how I wanted to, then I needed to get more extreme with my diet.  I decided to commit myself to a 60 day juice fast, just like Joe.  I am currently on day 33.  I haven't been perfect.  I have eaten foods. I have tried eating meats and dairies... all ended in me getting sick.  I have learned that if I am not able to have juice, but I am starving, I should eat raw fruits and vegetables.  Ultimately, if you want to do an extended reboot, you can choose to eat the fruits and vegetables.  I was just faced with the daunting prospect of what I would do to make it not get boring very fast.  The only thing I could see myself doing was eating celery, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and fruits.  How boring.  It would be hard to do.. but by juicing, I have so many options and recipes to try.  Now that I have been juicing for over a month and educating myself on different ways to eat vegan and vegetarian, I am learning delicious new recipes!  I'm excited to share them with you!  Once you start on an all veggie and fruit diet, you start really craving more fruits and veggies!  It sure helps the process!

Now I am breaking into eating more foods, but I'm trying to keep it vegan for now.  I have a lot of weight to lose yet, but it is coming off.

My mistakes:  I already mentioned my mistakes of eating meats and dairies occasionally.  It can be hard to resist when you are cooking for a family of 4 others who will be eating.  I have a habit of tasting as I cook and prepare food, and there have been times when that taste turned into me having a small serving.  One thing I did right, is that whenever I did eat, I did not over eat.

My other really huge mistake I made was, that for the first 25 days of my juice fast, I did not drink enough calories.  So, after I lost about 11 pounds, I started to maintain my weight.  It was kind of frustrating.  But along the way, I started watching videos and following the advice given by vegans.  I was drastically under my calorie count!  So for the past week, I have been striving to drink more juice, and even eat more produce.  I have started losing weight once again, and I look forward to losing more!  It is totally contagious!  One vegan that I have begun looking to for guidance eats about 3,000 calories a day!  I was floored to learn that!  That is a lot, but she is tiny and looks very healthy.  You can find her videos and recipes here.

I know, my shirt is an oxymoron, but I have
what I have to wear. :)
BTW I have not had any soda in over 1 month!
I do not even crave it anymore.
In fact, upon one sip, I determined that it was
This picture was taken on April 20, 2013
at the beginning of my 60 day juice fast.
A question that I ask myself a lot:  Am I going to become vegan?  I used to make fun of vegans and vegetarians (Yes, I am sorry--I have changed my tune).

The answer to that is complicated.  I can definitely see the benefits of being vegan.  I feel good when I consume only fresh produce.  My body is responding well to it.  My body is healing the womanly problems that I have been experiencing.  Ultimately it has been a good thing.... On the other hand, I definitely see a place for grains (especially), meat, eggs, and dairy.  Those things are good for you.  However, I do believe that I tend to eat too much of those, and not enough of the vegetables and fruits.  We have put so much money and time into finding good organic meat and eggs.  It sure helps to have good clean meat.  Anyway, my goal is to get my whole family down to eating meat once a week, and one serving of dairy a day.  That will be a hard thing to achieve.  Everyone of my kids, and my husband love their dairy and meat.  So my answer for now is that for the next 3-4 months, I will do my best to be a fully raw vegan... then after that, I plan on being a part raw vegetarian that occasionally eats meat!  Lol... sounds complicated, I know.

Ultimately, it is no longer just about losing weight.  It is about my body being healthy all of the time, so that it can more easily fight off disease and infection.  I would much rather my body be naturally fortified, rather than be pumped full of man made infection fighters and such (I do believe those have a place--but in my opinion, they should not be the staple).

Do you think you eat enough vegetables, fruits, and nuts?



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Enduring: Even When It is Hard

I am very proud of my man!
Hoss has lost over 60 pounds
Sometimes it is hard to change habits, and for a long time, I would do well for a while, then I would stop exercising and eating right.  This time, is the real deal.  I have been working very hard to instill better habits.  I have been exercising regularly for the past 3 months.  I have even lost 40 pounds!  In the past, I have never lost more than 20, so this is exciting and contagious.  My endurance has increased, and I am feeling better.  I have had many troubles with my knee, but since receiving some treatment from my orthopedic specialist, the swelling in my knee goes down on its own now.

What really irritates my knee the most you might ask?  Running more than 1 time a week (closer than 4 days apart), playing volleyball, jumping rope, and other exercises that are high impact.

I am learning, that when something gets so difficult I am unsure I can continue, I adjust and do something different in order to stay active.

In the past month, I have been organizing a gathering of volleyball players to play each Monday.  They have loved it so much that they requested that we play on Wednesday too!  We meet at my church, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hobbs, NM), I set up, and we play!  It has been great fun.  However, I learned that I can only handle playing 1 day a week, so I am choosing Mondays.  My new volleyball friends were even requesting yet another day to play!  I told them that I could not commit to another day right now.  I feel bad, but sometimes we just have to say no.

Here is my week of workouts (they vary some weeks--of course due to my knee):
*Monday: Volleyball 2-2 1/2 hours
*Tuesday: Yoga
*Wednesday: Bike ride about 3-5 miles
*Thursday:, which is now called the Daily Hiit
*Friday: walking/light jogging and housework
*Saturday: Is open.  We go to the park sometimes, swim sometimes, Its family fun day.
*Sunday: It is good to rest your body at least one day. What better day than the day God commands us to rest?

Some weeks, I do more yoga than anything.  The stretching really helps my sore muscles and my sore knee.

One very important thing that I have learned is that
Photo via
 it is not a good idea for me to jump in and work out in a way that I would have back 10/11 years ago, when I was in great shape (This is the style of workout that I started out with about 2 years ago, when I started this blog.  That is what got me discouraged.  This time around in January, I started out just increasing my activity levels just a bit.  I started walking every day or doing yoga.  Then I added in biking, and light jogging.  After that, I started doing again, and then I started up volleyball.  Like I mentioned, I really had to dial back how much volleyball I played, otherwise I would be down and out for a few days, while the swelling went down in my knee, getting no extra activity in.  Good times.  I know.  But it is what I have to deal with.  Ultimately, I am learning through trial and error how to listen to my body.

There is a saying I heard on a movie Little Cowboy (Baby K) likes loves.  It is called, The Little Engine that Could.  One of the bigger engines tells Little Engine the following:

"If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can't, you can't.  Either way, you are right."

So simple, yet profound truth.  This is something I have to remind myself of.  Last week, after volleyball, I started talking about how I want to be a runner... like, long distance 1/2 marathon type of runner.  This was at the height of my knee swelling and pain, and I was feeling very down, depressed and frustrated.  I caught myself saying.  "I really want to be a runner, but I can't.  I probably never will be."

If I keep that attitude up, I'll prove myself right.  So, I had to give myself an attitude adjustment.  I had to really think about what I want (which is many things), and I had to prioritize them into goals.  Short term, longer term, longer term, and longerer er term if needed.

Photo via
1. I want to make better food choices.  Well, this really isn't a want...although, I do want it.  It is a need.
2. I want to lose weight.
3. I want to be able to enter a bike race.  I want to be able to bike to a nearby town (20-30 miles).
4. I want to be able to run 1 mile.

I think that is enough for me to start with.  You know the great thing?  I am already in the process of accomplishing numbers 1 and 2.... and I feel so great!

There is an older woman that we buy our farm fresh eggs from (for $2 a dozen I might add).  She was telling me that she hurt her knee and needed to go and see a doctor that same day about it.  She was worried that she would need a knee replacement.  A viable option, especially since she has severe arthritis and has already had a shoulder replacement.  She has to be somewhere in her 60's or 70's.  I asked her a few questions about what her knee does.  She says it feels like it will give out on her (most likely due to the swelling--funny thing, swelling...making things feel unstable).  I asked her if it popped when she bent it.  She said yes.  I asked her if she did anything that she knows was the cause of her knee pain.  She couldn't remember.  A meniscus tear can be very subtle.  You could tear it and a few weeks later, you begin feeling the pain.  Or you could have a more severe tear and feel it immediately.  I mentioned it to her with the idea to look into it.  I told her if that was the case, orthoscopic surgery would be an easy fix... age not taken into account.  I was thinking about it, but I didn't want to say, "Someone your age might.... blah blah blah."

Anyway, what she said to me really pulled at my heart.  She said, "You know, I have been feeling so good.  I've been losing weight, working out in the garden and with the chickens.... and to have this happen to me now!"  She explained to me that she has had health problems off an on, and I just about cried for her, because I get it!  I might be a lot younger than her, but I get it!  And I told her that.  I told her that I couldn't count how many times I started feeling good and losing weight, when I was kicked back remarkably.  I could tell she was close to tears, and I told her the only thing that I know to be true:

God would see her through it.  It isn't easy, and our trials only make us more humble and better people, but He will see us through them.  If the only thread of faith that we have to hold onto is that God loves us, then so be it.  That thread will withstand anything, and it will be enough to pull us through our trial.

I so needed to see her last Friday.  I was feeling very miserable with my swollen knee.  My motivation was beginning to flicker.  I was contemplating just giving up.  Just giving in to the few food cravings that I still have.  But I went home and juiced some fresh vegetables and fruits, and I am so glad.

My goal this week?  Persevere!  I'm going to stick to my eating plan, even if it is so much harder than fixing with a lot less nutrition in it.

Photo via

What is your goal this week?  No excuses!  You can do something!


Evelyn Campbell Curtis

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I'm supposed to be napping right now, but I just have to write this post first.

I want to shout out a very Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother, mother-in-law, and my grandmothers aunts and sisters, and all of you other mothers, or women who are mothers to other people's children!

This will be a fairly short post.

We made a gift for Grandma Kathy and Grandma Dixie, but it turned out to be a very time consuming project.  We finished making them last night!  There was no way to get to out in time for today (obviously).  So, I decided that we would take pictures of them and post them here, that way you can get a "feel" for the gift before it actually arrives later this week.  Please forgive us... we started on making these last week!

We went to a class with the homeschooler's association here in Hobbs, and the girls learned about making books.  It was fun for them, and they jumped right in and wrote their story.  I knew that Mother's Day was coming up, so I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to finish their books and make a few copies and send them to the girl's grandmas!  I think they turned out kind of cute!  I had a vision about how they would turn out, and they are pretty close to it!

The whole process was a lot of fun, and I think that the girls will most likely be making more books in the future!


We made 3 of each book, that way we have one of our own!

Bunny wrote and organized the illustrations for her book.  I did the photography,
the graphics, and Hoss funded the project.

Here is Bunny reading her book for you!

Bug wrote her book pretty quickly at the homeschool activity.  She seemed to really enjoy the activity and set right to it.  She even drew illustrations for each page, but in the end, she wanted me to take pictures.

Bug wrote and organized the following publication.  I did the photography and graphics.

Hailee will read it for you.

Kenson likes reading them too!