Sunday, March 26, 2017

Going Vegan!

Welp, here goes nothin'.

Rob and I have been toying with the idea of a complete lifestyle change to vegan eating for about 8 months now.  Well, I guess I've been the one more toying with the idea while he's been more actively embracing it.  Neither one of us has been consistent for more than a couple weeks at being 100% vegan.  But I've decided that has to change.  Keeping my feet in both ponds means that I've been getting more accustomed to eating vegan foods and meals (positive), I've also not been able to lose weight as readily nor see the benefits that go with a fully vegan diet (negative).  So in a few minutes Rob and I will head off to the store to get what we need for our start to 100% vegan.  My goal is to stay 100% until Juancho's graduation, which is EXACTLY two months from today AND I hope to lose 30 pounds in that time too (more later on how I'll be doing addition to the vegan diet change).

So I thought I'd chronicle my journey with this (and other stuff) on a blog.  If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you'd know by now that I struggle with consistency.  But I'm determined that I'll conquer that beast maybe that someday is starting now!  I do best when I process my thoughts, experiences, etc. through writing, so thus the return to the blog.

Thought I'd throw out a couple of questions that people often ask people who 'go vegan'.

Why vegan?

It's a pretty radical choice, I get it.  After 42 years of good 'ole Midwestern meat & potatoes kind of eating, it seems pretty extreme.  And it is.  My choice to go vegan at this point in my life is mainly health related.  My health is taking a turn for the worse -- and while still manageable now, I fear that it points to more significant issues down the road.  I currently take daily medication for blood pressure, and periodic medicine for reflux and edema.  I have recurrent sinus issues and recently went through extensive surgery for varicose veins which will simply return if I don't make a change to my weight and my health.  I'm currently 125 pounds overweight.  While the treatment of animals in the conventional way of obtaining animal product based products in the U.S. does disturb me and impact my decision to go vegan somewhat, the main reason is health related.  I couldn't argue with the health related data put forth in the Forks over Knives commentary (available to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime) that has undoubtedly been the first and foremost influencer of both Rob and I to make this change.  What it for yourself and see what you think!

What do you eat?

Well, we are still figuring it out.  Right now, as I type, there is a hodge podge soup on the stove, which is a common Sunday occurrence.  We take the hodge podge of stuff we have left in the fridge/pantry and throw what makes sense into a vegetable broth based soup.  This one has noodles, cabbage, baby tomatoes, pasta sauce and more in it.  With Rob's gift of inventing recipes, these hodge podge soups nearly always turn out GREAT!  Some other vegan recipes that the whole family loves include vegan lasagna (with cashew "cheese"), "Chicken" Pot Pie, Shepherd's Pie, Vegan Egg Rolls, Baked Potatoes with Vegan Fixin's, and our weekly Taco Tuesday.  Breakfast is pretty easy to do vegan -- we usually have oatmeal, smoothies, waffles, etc.  Lunches often are leftovers from our dinner meals or stocked salads.  Over time we've learned that our vegan diet needs to focus on being whole food plant based -- and to stay away from too many processed vegan foods.  Those tend to be soy and oil based, and we shouldn't have too much of either.  I'm very much a beginner in figuring out vegan baking, though back at Thanksgiving I tried out a vegan pumpkin spice bar recipe and it is DELICIOUS!  This week I'm going to try making vegan chocolate chip banana bread.  I'll let you know how it works out!

What about the kids?

Our kiddos are old enough that we don't feel like we should force this style of eating on them, but we hope over time they may see the benefit to it.  By default they have already become much more familiar with vegan foods and willingly eat the vegan meals I make (for the most part, lol!).  I do still buy some non-vegan things for them for their lunches and snacks.  We also have some canned chicken and tuna that they can add to our vegan dishes (tacos, soups, etc.) if they so desire.  They do try to keep Rob and I accountable to the vegan lifestyle too -- calling us out if we stray off course.  Sassafrass is especially good at that!

What about protein?

This is the quintessential question that non-vegans are concerned about...and the question that has committed vegans rolling their eyes.  Kinda like how it seemed all non-homeschooling families were always concerned about how homeschooling families made sure their children were "properly socialized".  Really, it's a non-issue.  So is the protein thing.  A non-issue.  So long as the individual doesn't have any sort of health issue affected by protein, a whole food plant based vegan diet should provide enough protein for the average person's nutritional needs.  For example, the following vegan foods are significant sources of protein:  broccoli, flax & chia seeds, whole wheat pasta & bread, tofu, various types of beans, and more!  Furthermore, the over emphasis on protein as a major need for human nutrition is off-base.  Watch the Forks over Knives documentary (link up above) for a more eloquent and scientific argument for why we don't really need to be overly concerned about the protein issue.

If you have a question, ask it in the comments!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A month in the life...

So I'm still working on getting up to the weekly post schedule.  But for now, a month recap will have to do!

Back to school for teachers started on August 10th with the usual week or so of school and district staff development.  Our school/district is adopting more of a 'growth mindset' approach to all things (academic, social, emotional, etc) and I like the change.  This Monday at our faculty meeting we need to sign up for focus committees.  I'm thinking of signing up for the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Support) Committee because I have a lot of a growth mindset related ideas about how to help our school move to the next PBIS level (and with some of the challenges we see with our students, that is important!).

Students went back to school on August 22nd.  That included our kiddos!  Little Sassafrass is now a Middle Schooler - 6th grade!  Lala is a sophomore and Juancho is a SENIOR!  What?  I have a senior in high school?  How did that happen?!?

Our kiddos are doing well in their first few weeks back to school...getting used to the routine of things.  Sassafrass experienced changing classes 7 times a day on her own (no more walking in lines) and handling a locker and locker combination!  She has also taken up the cello -- in 6th grade they focus on teaching all the how-to's of playing the cello and in 7th grade she will join the orchestra!

Sassafrass during our trip to Iowa this past summer.

Sassafrass loves our newest neighbor - puppy Thor!

Lala decided not to play tennis this year and has instead taken that extra elective to devote to photography.  She has always had an eye for photography and dabbled with it a bit when she attended the Escuela Bellas Artes in Puerto Rico.  For her birthday this year she got her first SLR -- a Canon Rebel and she took some fantastic photos during our road trip this summer.  She is also planning on taking her brother's senior pictures to add to her portfolio (and to save her parents a boatload of bucks!).  If you'd like to follow Laura's Photograpy hobby and budding business, like her Facebook page at Laura Fernanda Photography.

Shooting wildflowers along our road trip

Us girls at the Statue of Liberty

Juancho has had a tremendously successful start to the school year!  His summer work as a lifeguard for local neighborhood association pools was coming to a close at Labor Day but he knew he wanted (and needed) to work throughout the school year.  The local YMCA was hiring for lifeguards for their indoor & outdoor pools (year round work), so Juancho applied and easily got the job.  After being on the job just a week, his supervisors at the Y gave him the privilege to serve as the Head Lifeguard on Duty because they quickly saw his experience and leadership.  He's now served as Head Lifeguard on several occasions.  He is still swimming at the high school, though UIL regulations mean that he is not eligible to swim at any regional or state competition due to his age (19).  That's fine with him though and he will still swim at local meets and compete locally with the water polo team too later this year.  Some of Juancho's most exciting news includes his legal name change to John Robert earlier this summer -- something he has wanted for a few years.  When we adopted the children, the only thing that changed about their names was their last name changed to ours.  We felt that they were already changing SO MUCH about their lives, we weren't going to ask them to change their names too, to something we might've picked out.  But we always told them that if they want to change their first or middle name once they get closer to 18, we would support that.  Juancho has gone by "John" in school and amongst peers since he started school in 4th grade with us.  And he often shared a desire he had to carry on Robert's name as it is a family name that has been handed down through a couple generations now.  So in late July he went before the judge and it was made official!  He is now John Robert Dressel!  The other exciting thing for him is that he bought himself a car!  Originally some dear friends from Florida were going to drive their extra vehicle from Florida to here (via a stop in Atlanta) and then GIVE the car to Juancho.  Isn't that awesome?!  Unfortunately the car had other plans and the transmission completely went out while they were in Atlanta, leaving them stranded.  A few headaches and a rental car later, they arrived in TX and we spent a fun week together before they went back to FL (via plane!).  That meant Plan B for Juancho.  But thankfully he had saved money from his full time summer job and went car shopping with his Dad.  They found a great 2014 Ford Focus in perfect condition and right in his price range.  He bought it and now has some great wheels to get him to school, work, and out with friends (and running some errands for his Momma too!).  He also has his first budget since he now has car expenses (including the expensive teenage boy insurance) to take care of every month!

Working hard?  Or hardly working?

John Robert with his first car!
Finally my students are fantastic.  I'm in a new role this year at my same school from last year and I LOVE IT.  I'm the Bilingual Intervention Teacher and while my position is labeled intervention (which usually means smaller groups of students), the number of students that need that type of intervention in our school is high.  I have nearly 150 students between 6 classes, which means I have to be creative in how I deliver intervention level support.  My classroom is the former computer lab, so I have computers for every student and a couple of computer based intervention programs that students work through.  Daily in class the majority of class works on their computer based intervention while I work intensively with a "small" group of 7-10 children with similar needs in English Language Intervention.  The majority of my students are 5th graders with a small class of 6th grade students.  These grade levels are especially urgent for language acquisition intervention because once students hit 6th grade they are no longer eligible to take ANY state or school tests in Spanish.  Once students hit 7th grade there is no longer any bilingual support and ESL support is quite limited, especially in the urban school district I work in.  I am so thankful that this year is a breath of fresh air, I'm back in my 'sweet spot' and my students are not nearly as crazy as they were last year!

Students having a written discussion via a web app
Student responses to the question of what makes a good digital citizen.

Signing off for now, but there is still so much to tell you.  So look for posts in the next few weeks (I'm aiming for one per week) about how I've been able to lose 15 pounds since August 1st (via a vegan diet!), some upcoming DIY projects, my upcoming surgery (!), gardening using native plants, and new hiking club adventures!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Three Hundo - NO MOE!

Taken this AM - 08/01/16

One of the biggest influences that led me to start the Making Over Me blog was my need to lose weight and get healthy.  It has been a journey.  You can look through posts going back to 2010 and see that I've had some successes along the way and pretty consistent failures too.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Well, "hell" in this case must be my scale reading just shy of 300 pounds this morning.  I've flirted with 300 before.  Even topped over it by a pound or two.  But this is very near the highest I've ever weighed.  My good intentions aren't cutting it.  I need good intentions to become consistent reality.

Hubs and I had a talk about it.  He's concerned for me.  My health has been going downhill lately (high blood pressure, varicose vein issues, acid reflux, foot pain, etc) and it is all directly related to my weight.  He's asked me to consider taking the month of August to intentionally and consistently follow some healthy practices and see how I feel and how my health is impacted (positively!) by month's end.  I agreed and these are the healthy practices I will be following during the month of August:

1 - Following a whole food vegan diet.  This means consuming mainly whole grains (rice, quinoa, etc), legumes (black beans are my fave!), veggies and fruit -- as much in their natural state as possible.

2 - While following a whole food vegan diet I will also be tracking some nutritional data.  I will record calories -- right now aiming for around 1800 daily (to adjust as my weight changes), sodium (American Heart Association says we should get 1500 mg or less per day), and sugar (AHA says women should have 25 mg or less per day).  So far it is day 1 and I'm finding it hard to get up to 1800 calories, but have already passed the sodium and sugar limits for the day.  Commercially made guacamole and salsa have exorbitant amounts of sodium!  And my morning caramel flavored iced coffee took over 1/2 of my sugar allotment for the day!

3 - I will start with the following daily activity:  two daily walks (one AM and one PM) with the dog that are 30 minutes each, time on the water rower (right now I'm able to do 3 minutes before stopping, but will be building that up over time), and evening 'de-stress/wind-down' yoga (found a sequence on Pinterest that I think can work for me!).

4 - Not eating after 9:00 pm at night and practicing intermittent fasting, which basically means several days each week I will stop eating by 8:00 pm and not eat again until about noon the next day. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting helps keep metabolisms guessing and calorie burn revved up.  I'll post some links to studies on future posts.

These practices seem do-able and I can adjust as needed over time.  I'll be posting more about how this month goes.  So far today has been good -- need to head out for my second walk and figure out a whole food vegan snack that can add to my calories -- I'm still 400 calories shy of my 1800 for the day!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hey Y'all -- I'm BACK!

Y'all, I'm coming back.  To blogging, that is!

I can't promise what that means in terms of what I'll be blogging about or how frequently.  But I'm gonna start with a realistic goal of once a week and build from there.

The main reason for coming back to blogging after so long is because I want to get back to being the person I believe I've been created to be and get back to doing some of the things I love!  Too often as Moms we deny ourselves the very things that make us who we are.  I stumbled back on this blog and read several of the last posts (from 2013 and earlier, yikes!) and realized that I dropped off of this just as I was starting to pursue life the way that felt "right" to me.  Then I got sidetracked.

I've felt "off" in many areas of life lately, and I think that is because I've been focused on what I think I could/should be doing to make life better/easier/enjoyable (I could go on) for those around me.  In the meantime my tendency towards people pleasing (especially for my family whom I love dearly) has caused me to totally lose myself.

So I'm back y'all.  (and I'm Texan now too!  Yee-haw!)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The year Mami became (more) weird...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't make New Year's Resolutions.  Instead I came up with a phrase for the year (a variation on the idea of 'One Word').  My phrase was borrowed from a book I was reading at the time am still reading - "Seven" by Jen Hatmaker.  I'll have an official post about the book and my thoughts to come, but it is fair to say that it has rocked my views on things quite a bit.

Oh, and if you don't recall, my phrase for the new year is 'mutiny against excess'.  There is a lot of excess in this life of mine and 2013 will be a year where I aim to do away with much of that excess.

So I've been reading a lot and trying some new things and developing some plans for the year.  Here is a big one - getting rid of excess in the kitchen.

I'm learning more and more about how harmful much of what I've ate in the past has really been to my body - and as I learn, I'm becoming less and less okay with consuming whatever is quick and easy.  Especially so with regards to what my kiddos consume...I realize I've allowed them to be sugar junkies.  But excess sugar is on it's way out.  Here's some things I'm implementing already:

As processed and junk food that we already have in the cabinets run out, I replace it (if it even needs to be replaced) with clean eating versions.  So this last week I made this homemade sandwich bread and made clean eating BBQ sauce (review coming soon!).  I have plans to create clean eating versions of pancake mix and taco seasoning, and clean eating chocolate syrup this next week.  I've also explored a couple of the handful of health food stores on the island, bought natural PB (which I'm currently mixing with what I have left of the Skippy PB in my cupboard to help my kids me get used to the less sweet, but more natural version of PB).  I was elated to find true maple syrup in the health food store too, though if we begin using it as a sweetener we'll have to find a more economical source for it.  We also found a dinky jar of coconut oil that cost about the same as the giant tub of coconut oil we ordered online (should arrive next week!).  I made these energy bites that are reminiscent of my favorite butter and sugar laden no bake cookies and everyone in the family loved them.  Like loved them so much I'll have to hide the jar of them so that they don't disappear too quickly!

photo credit: gimme some oven
This week our nice soft spreadable margarine (which I learned is just one molecular variation away from the same structure as PLASTIC) will be running out and I've already stocked up on bars of real butter, which will be taking "nearly plastic" spread's place indefinitely.

In fact, when I walk through the grocery store now, I realize that 90% of what is in there is actually poisoning us.


We have some new friends we've made recently.  One family moved to Puerto Rico from Washington State to live in a beautiful dream home that they purchased for a crazy low price.  They came from a hobby farm where they raised chickens and goats and they have all sorts of wisdom about being self sustaining.  We visited them at their new property, overlooking the mountains of PR with a distant view of the ocean.  Gorgeous.  Peaceful.

They had just purchased a goat and our kids got to experience milking time!  We learned from our new friends that goat milk doesn't have to be 'goat-y' tasting.  Somehow I was able to be talked into trying some of the goats milk.  Mind you - not only is it goat's milk, but it is RAW goat's milk.  And beyond that, anyone who knows me knows that I don't even like drinking pasteurized cow's milk (because of the taste).  But guess what y'all?  I tried it and it was good!  Not like "I'm never drinking anything but goat's milk ever again" good, but it tasted exactly like cow's milk to me!  Nothing like the pungent goaty taste I was expecting.

While at their house they served us an amazing chicken lasagna made with ricotta cheese that they made themselves from their raw goat's milk.  And it was SO GOOD!  And they served fresh homemade bread topped with passion fruit jam that they made themselves from the passion fruit that grows on the trees in their yards.  Ridiculous.  Delicious.  I can't even tell you about dessert...description escapes me - it was that amazing.

And it was natural and nearly entirely homemade from fresh unprocessed resources.

How did we (and by we, I mean the American society) get so far away from this way of naturally fueling our bodies?  It wasn't really that long ago that people were canning fruit and veggies from their own gardens, making their own bread daily, drinking milk from their own cows or goats, eating eggs from their own chickens.  We exchanged this art for convenience and speed, but in return all we've gotten is rotten health.

I'm not willing to continue making that exchange.  So I'll put 4 hours into making fresh bread each week.  And probably several more hours into making other 'made from scratch' goods for my family to consume.  I'll use the fruit that grows on the trees in my yard instead of letting it go to waste.  I'll dry out the almond pods that fall off the almond tree so that we can eat beautiful homegrown organic walnuts.  I'll say no to my kids when they beg for highly processed and highly sugared foods - and instead teach them how wonderfully God has provided for us what we need in food in it's natural state.

Our chicken catalog came in the mail yesterday.  Not sure when it will happen exactly, but I believe we'll add chickens to our crazy crew in the not-too-distant future.  Hubs has even wondered aloud how much a goat might cost.  Haha - I'm not quite ready for the goat yet.

But I am ready to get rid of the excess in my kitchen (with the hopeful side effect that the excess on my hips and thighs will disappear as well!).

And just so you have something to look forward to, here are some other changes percolating in my heart that I'll be experimenting with soon...

**going 'no-poo'
**skirt wearing
**minimalist living
**natural cleaners
**and I'm even (fellas, you can skip reading this part) considering making the change to cloth (may even make my own) for my monthly feminine needs.  (I've read about that Diva Cup thang and I just don't know if I can go there.  But cloth freaks me out a bit too...stay tuned...)

SO...2013 just may be the year that my children remember as the year Mami became a little bit more weird...

**all photos free stock images from unless otherwise noted
**there are no affiliate links in this post

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Mutiny Against Excess for 2013

We are just a few days away from clicking on over to the year 2013.


That sounds so sci-fi.  So high-tech.  So modernistic, futuristic.  But now 2013 is "hoy en día"... today.

And of course, as we (speaking of general society) do when a new year rolls around, we consider our accomplishments (or, perhaps, failures) of the past year and make new goals for the year (or, if you are like me, repeat the SAME goals-you know, the ones I didn't succeed at achieving-from the past year).

This tradition of 'New Year's Resolutions' is made fun of by modern media and society.  And with good reason.  As statistics and studies have shown, most goals are abandoned by mid-January...mid-February at the latest.  Some die-hards may even continue to make progress on their goals until May or June...but hardly any finish the year having met or exceeded their resolutions.

But regardless of the statistics and my own lackluster history when it comes to goals, I still like the process of assessing the past and making goals for the future.  And I am already planning my 2013 goals now.  Actually, with my 38th birthday at the beginning of the month of December, I started mentally considering 2 year goals - goals I'd like to achieve or make significant progress towards before my 40th birthday.  My 2013 goals and my 'before-my-40th-birthday' goals will be wrapped together.

I'm all for being specific when planning something.  A boss I had for many years that I greatly respect had a penchant for being specific with goals.  Whenever I would turn in my quarterly employment goals, no matter how specific I thought I had been, he would find ways to make those goals even more specific.  Being specific help makes goals achievable too.

But there is also beauty in simplicity.  

Sometimes being too specific destines us to failure.  For many years I have set the goal to lose weight...but specifically to lose as much weight as quickly as possible.  Goals of losing 2 pounds or more a week.  Some weeks I'd lose 5!  But then when week after week of only losing a half a pound, or worse, ZERO, I would lose hope and realize I was so far off my goals that I might as well just give up.

This year a friend posted on Facebook about seeking her 'word' for 2013.  She posted a link to this blog post to give further insight on what she was talking about.  I was intrigued.  I like the idea of the simplicity of one word.  For example, this friend explained that in a previous year her word for the new year was 'patience'.  There are many ways that patience could be exercised and developed during the course of the year.  Patience with our children.  Patience with our spouse.  Patience with the Lord when a prayer request we've been persistently praying for seems to continue to go unanswered.  Patience with ourselves.  Etc. and so on.

As I read through the above linked blog post a thought began to percolate in my head.  Being the verbose woman that I am, one word wouldn't suffice.  But I think I can manage to get by with a short phrase.

I picked up one of the books I got for my birthday earlier this month...the book I'll start the new year reading.  It is a book by Jen Hatmaker (check out her blog here) called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  It is about her family's experience battling back against "the machine of excess".  For seven months Jen and her family chose seven different areas of excess in their lives and made a plan to fight back against that excess and overindulgence.  Though I haven't yet read the book, the sentiment of it strikes a chord with me.  I don't think our family lives a particularly indulgent life.  As missionaries our income falls below the U.S. poverty line for a family of five.  We did handmade gifts for several of our children's gifts this Christmas, and re-gifted others.  But we still have plenty and live much better than the majority of the world.  There are areas of excess in my life.  Perhaps not so much monetary or material excess, but excess nonetheless.

So my phrase for 2013?  I actually stole it off the cover of Jen Hatmaker's 7 book.  I want 2013 to the year of my...

"mutiny against excess"

Immediately a related Scripture comes to mind--you probably know it, it goes like this:

"25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."   (Matthew 6:25-34)

The Bible talks here about battling excess...excess worry, materialism, selfishness, stress, etc.  And in 2013 I will battling against the excess in my life.  As people who live pretty simply to begin with, what sort of excess could I be talking about?  Well here are a few thoughts to start with...

A mutiny against the excess of...

*negative thoughts

Several of these are categories addressed by the book, and others are ones that are specific to me and/or my family.  I want to spend the next several days fleshing out a few specifics in regards to this new phrase for 2013 and how I hope to see it play out in my life.  I'll update here - hopefully frequently - about my experience during my 'mutiny against excess' experience of 2013.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The Top 10 Edition

Since I'm slowly getting back into blogging, I'll take the easy road on my Weekly Wrap Up this week!  As I sit here thinking over my week, both the positives and negatives come at me in bullet point that is how it shall come at you too.  Shall we start with the good news or the bad?

Okay, we'll start with the bad - only it's not really bad...just least favorite (but still humorous in some instances)

The Top 10 Least Favorite Things About This Week

1.  Mountains of Laundry ... obviously laundry has to be done, and I don't mind doing the laundry (even though it involves hanging clothes on the clothesline and a need to time things right to avoid the rain).  It's the folding of the laundry that KILLS me!  I make my big kids wash, dry and fold their own laundry (I call it learning life skills...), but the laundry that me, hubs and little one create is enough to put me over the edge!  As I type we have no less than 3 laundry baskets full of clean dry clothes and towels hidden away in my bedroom to be folded.  My approach to it follows the mantra of Scarlett O'Hara... "I'll think about that tomorrow"

2.  Stinky Dogs ... my big dog has gotten much stinkier since he became an outdoor dog - including his breath (which I admit was not stellar to begin with).  But oohweee, I love to snuggle with the cuddly fella, but I can't handle the stench!  Dog baths are already on the to-do list for Saturday morning...

Stinky Boys 
3.  Mosquitoes ... one would think that with living in the tropics, I'd be immune to the mosquitoes by now!  The reality is, I don't think mosquitoes here are nearly as bad as they are in Minnesota in the summer!  But recently a new batch of mosquitoes have hatched around here that are ruthless!  (this is especially concerning since dengue fever has had an epidemic year in PR...I spend my afternoons going around the yard and tipping over anything with standing water).

4.  Dead Iguanas - our big stinky dog (see #2) is a born killer.  Though he is sweet and affectionate to most humans, he instantly turns into a vicious killer when an iguana enters the yard.  Once he catches it he won't let it go until he is assured it is dead.  This last week he killed 5!  Poor son has to dispose of them into the ravine next door to try and keep the decaying smell away from the house.  But when the wind is just right....pewww!

The Iguana Disposer
5.  My Child's Hickey!  - Yes, I have two teenagers, but thankfully this hickey doesn't belong to either one of them.  Unfortunately the young one just learned (today, as a matter of fact) what happens when suction is applied to the skin.  She decided to mindlessly suck on her arm while she was reading...and then came screaming to me wondering what happened to her arm!  I wonder how many people I'll have to explain her big reddish-blueish-purpleish 'bruise' to at church tonight...

Thankfully it faded fast!
6.  Colorful Dogs - I have a 7 year old, 13 year old and 15 year old.  Why then did I find our little white dog colored on with blue magic marker?  (one guess as to which child decided to express their creativity on this living canvas...)

I'm Blue! (da ba dee ba da ba daba DEE daba da)
7.  Turkey - Actually I love turkey...but after eating it for probably 15 out of 21 meals since last Thanksgiving, I was sick of it!  We had Turkey Noodle Soup, Turkey and Rice Soup, Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Bowls and more.  Tasty, but glad it's done.

8.  Apathy - my own apathy bothers me as much as anyone else's.

9.  Black birds - Ugh, we have a ton of small black birds that like to raid our dog's food bowls and poop all over our outdoor furniture.  We've recently moved our homeschooling back outside now that it is 'cooler' and that tends to keep the birds away!

10.  Unfair Treatment - It's crazy that girls and women in some parts of the world are shunned from their villages and forced to miss school or work for an entire week EVERY MONTH, simply for lack of access to quality feminine hygiene supplies!  (Thankfully I have friends in the area that work to provide resources for such women - through an organization called Days for Girls.  I was able to help with one 'sewing party' a few months ago...hope to help again soon!)

That's me in the green, sewing liners for the shells

Now on to the GOOD part!

Top 10 Best Things About This Week

1.  My husband making breakfast, dinner, coffee and washing dishes SEVERAL times this week...for no reason other than wanting to help his family get off to a good start in the morning!

2.  My kids' new love of hunting annoying blackbirds (see post #9 above) with their homemade bows and arrows!

3.  Creating abstract art with the kiddos and celebrating their creativity!

Laura's masterpiece
4.  Having "girl talk" conversations initiated by my 13 year old...I'm glad she feels comfortable talking with me about whatever is on her mind!

5.  Seeing said 13 year old still wanting to play with toys (under the guise of playing with her little sister, of course).  I want to keep her heart young and innocent as long as possible!

6.  Getting EVERY.SINGLE.ITEM on our homeschool lesson plans completed this week for all three kids.  This has happened exactly ZERO times since we moved to Puerto Rico, so I'm definitely celebrating it!

7.  The way that God brings together believers of all walks of life and stages of faith for good discussion.  I enjoyed an interactive discussion on Acts 2:42-47 with friends just the other night!

8.  Sam's Club "Tres Carnes" (3 Meat) Pizza.  $10 bucks to feed the entire family something other than turkey that no one had to cook is definitely good news!

9.  The fact that I have ALL the ingredients in my kitchen RIGHT NOW to make caramel apple cheesecake bars (which you can find on my scrumptious Pinterest boards . . . or go directly to the recipe from Lulu the Baker!)

10.  That we received news that some of our favorite peeps books tickets to visit in January, meaning we'll have visitors with us for half the month of January (yes, that is a good thing...though it does guarantee that #6 will not be happening either of those weeks!).

The post has been linked to the Weekly Wrap-Up over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.