The 30-Day Exercise Challenge

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


Jillian Michaels

Three years ago, before I became a mother for the second time, I lamented outlined, ad infinitum, my travails with a one, Ms. Jillian Michaels. If, for some reason, you are in a position to need a recap, please explore the following links. And God bless you for taking the time and energy to do so.

The 30-Day Shred, Day 10: I’m Not Dead Yet, But It’s Still a Possibility

The 30-Day Shred: The Results Post

Shredding FAQ’s

Around three months ago, two months after aforementioned baby turned 2, I decided to shed the baby weight. It was time. I mean, the little bugger’s practically shaving at this point. Anyway, I enlisted the help of a new-to-me eating plan, Trim Healthy Mama, a version of carb cycling. Though I have been on nearly every diet known to (wo)man, this plan is the only one that has ever made me immediately feel better, in addition to losing weight. And, while I was having great success in eating well, I was struggling to incorporate exercise. Translation: I was sitting on the couch enjoying Rocky marathons on AMC.  Seriously.

Does watching another human being exercise count for anything? Well, it should.

It was then that I remembered the rousing success I’d had with The Shred and went on the hunt for my DVD. Though we’ve moved to another state since my last Shredding episode, I easily located it on the DVD shelf. Dang, I thought it had gotten “lost” in the move. Thanks a lot, Lord. Anyway, I popped that sucker into the Blu-Ray player and turned it on…then sat on the couch and watched her go. Boy, was I exhausted! I was hoping she was going to jump out of the TV and bring me a bottle of water or something. I was some kind of thirsty! I mean. Right then, I knew that, if I was going to have any current success facing this woman again, I was going to need to enlist an army of supporters.

And so The 30-Day Exercise Challenge Facebook group was born.

This growing group, consisting of women who are THMers, Carb Cyclers, Shredders, T-Tappers, teenagers, moms, grandmoms, big, little, fit, not-so-much (me),  and from all corners of the globe has become a squadron of exercising soldiers who offer the utmost level of support and encouragement, mixed with a little humor. I mean, really. Sometimes jumping jacks make you pee a little. It’s a thing.

Our upcoming challenge begins on August 4 and continues through September 13. The goal is to exercise 5 days per week (M-F), in whatever way is best for you. I’ll be Shredding. And talking to Jesus. Mostly talking to Jesus. Amen.

For those of us who are Shredding, here is the schedule:

BEFORE: weigh (once you weigh, stay off the scale until the halfway point…trust me on this), measure everything (calves, thighs, hips, belly, waist, bust, arms, neck) and take pictures (front, back, both sides)

August 4-8: Level One daily (Day three’s the worst…push through the wall, if you’re still able to walk.)
August 11-15: Level One daily, a brisk walk or other cardio later, if you’ve got it in you
August 18-22: Level Two daily

HALFWAY: weigh, measure and take pics (put the scale away until the end)

August 25-29: Level Two daily, cardio later if you’re still on your feet
September 1-5: Celebrate Labor Day by ushering in Level Three!
September 8-12: Level Three daily and, later, cardio if you can

AFTER (September 13): weigh, measure and take pics. Resist the urge to look in the mirror and say, “You’re a sexy beast!” You may scare the children.

My sweet friend, Kerry, developed this form to help us keep track of all of this information: THM 30-Day Challenge Sheets . You can add your weights on there where you want, but I think you’ll find the measurements to be more impressive.

We’ll be posting every day throughout The Challenge for support, encouragement, obstacle-busting, prayer requests (lots!) and such. Also, we’ll be so grateful to see all the before/after posts, both at the halfway point and at the end! Then, we can eat cake! Wait, what? Sorry. I thought I was posting about my Cake Eating Facebook group there for a minute. Wrong group.

And once this challenge is done, I’m planning to propose the next one. I already have something in mind. Mwahaha!

If you want in on this action, simply send a request to join The 30-Day Exercise Challenge Facebook group. There’re nearly two weeks prior to the start for you to get ready. If you want to Shred, you’ll need the DVD and some hand weights. I started with 2 pounders and worked my way up to 5 before; however, soup cans work great. You’ll also need a pair of tennis shoes and a tight sports bra. Ain’t nobody got time to go to The WalMart with two black eyes. If the floor where you’ll be exercising is hard, a mat of some type is helpful. Ab work, man. I work out on carpet with a sweat-wiping towel nearby. Tight, Spandex-type workout pants are useful, too, unless you want to do the workout 4 or 5 times from the jiggle aftershocks. However, they are not necessary. Duct tape would work just as well, I guess.

I know people say this, but I mean it. For reals. If I can do this, anybody can. Come on. Turn off Rocky, get off the couch, get prayed up, and join the party!


STAY TUNED!

Don’t be left out! Sign up to receive the email notifications every time an update occurs. Just enter your email address in the appropriate box on the right-hand side of the blog to stay up-to-date on, not only The 30-Day Exercise Challenge, but also great recipes, homeschooling tips, remodeling/decorating madness (black doors?) and general hilarity!

UP NEXT: Summer-Fresh Broccoli Salad, a THM-S side dish. Y’all, I don’t like broccoli. I think it smells like feet. But I eat the heck out of this stuff. It’s low-carb goodness!

IN THE MEANTIME: Enjoy this hilarious little post from days gone by…An Unwelcome Visitor.

Meal Planning 101 with Printables

Author’s Note: This is NOT an official THM post. This is my story, my strategy, a portion of my journey down the THM road. THM stands for Trim Healthy Mama, the title of a book written by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. The book outlines a break from the (or at least my) American tradition in terms of thinking about food, a call to eat and enjoy food the way God intended it. Besides owning the book and subscribing to this way of eating, and routinely purchasing and enjoying their sweeteners, I am not otherwise associated with or employed by THM. I’m just a regular Mama…like you. This post was written under the assumption that the reader has/has access to the book and holds a basic understanding of the meal types and eating cycles. If you don’t currently have the book, go buy it, man!

While there are few guarantees in life, I guarantee that any errors made here are completely mine and absolutely unintended.

Author’s Note, Part Deux: Meal-planning is meal-planning. While I write to you specifically detailing how I meal-plan on THM, my meal-planning life prior to THM was very similar. This is about the process, not necessarily THM. If you are not a THMer, keep reading. This is for you, too.

Author’s Note, III: I’m going to make Volcano Mud Slide muffin now. Amen.

PIN THIS!


One of the biggest obstacles I faced when beginning the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan was preparation.

How I Meal Plan for Trim Healthy Mama

The sheer volume of information available out there was overwhelming, to say the least.

I spent literal hours each week trying to figure out what to eat. This way of eating is so different from what I was accustomed to, and the sweet authors have done such an incredible amount of research in the compilation of this 619-page work.  Immediately, my logical-mathematical brain went into organizational, survival mode, and I tapped out a quick form for organizing my meals for the week, printed out multiple copies, and stuck them in a binder. In the interest of helping anyone out there who may be (a) having trouble knowing where to start, (b) organizationally challenged, or (c) lacking time to create these helps (or a combination of these, or something else altogether), I want to share them with you.

This first resource is my blank meal-planning sheet. Like I said, I keep multiple copies in my binder. I complete them in pencil, so I can erase and move things as needed. Here’s my process:

1 . Check my fridge, pantry and freezer for ingredients I already have and attempt to put together what meals I can from what I have. My attempt at good stewardship.
2. Ask family members if there’s anything they’d especially like to have in the coming week. After all, I’m not the only one who eats in my house. Their answers generally involve Fooled Ya Pizza (book, p. 276), Cheeseburger Pie (book, p. 326), Just Like Campbell’s Tomato Soup (book, p. 292), Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas from A Home with Purpose, or Almond Flour Cheese Crackers from The Grassfed Mama. For me, in addition to those, it’s the Apple Pancake Bake from Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen. Mrs. Criddle is my new online food BFF.
3. Work through my Pinterest board (throughout the week, my teenaged daughter and I pin recipes to this shared board), emails (I email myself recipes on occasion that I think I’d like to try), and the book for recipes I want to make.
4. Now that I know what I have on-hand and have an idea of what I’d like to make, I pencil in the Meal Plan Sheet.

Click here to download ====>>>> THM Meal Plan Sheet

 THM Meal Plan Sheet

5. Next, I take the recipes noted on the Meal Plan Sheet and make a grocery list.
6. Then, I go back through the grocery list, double checking my pantry, fridge and freezer, and cross off anything I already have on-hand. Good stewardship: second verse.

Now, I’m ready to shop.

If that all still seems like too much right now, I get it. Like, totally. I had my book for over a month before I got up the courage to even attempt to meal plan. Because I’ve been there, I’m also including my first week’s completed Meal Plan Sheet here for  you. All the recipes are directly from the book for ease, unless it’s just something simple that I concocted, in which case, I included the directions right on the sheet. There’s nothing overly exciting on there. It was all I could do in week one to just make the transition to a new way of cooking/thinking. As I gained confidence, I added more complicated recipes and a greater variety. Many of my current faves are on my Pinterest board (read: Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies). I’ve also learned more about the eating style, what works for my body, what works for my family, what works for my budget, and what I have time to prepare. Turns out, totally rethinking food comes with lots of lessons. Hindsight, and all.

  Click here to download ======>>>>> Week One THM Meal Plan

Week One THM Meal Plan

And, because I love you, man, the accompanying grocery list. All of the items on this list I have been able to find either at Kroger or WalMart. The quantity of these items you’ll need to buy will vary based on how many mouths you are feeding. Notice there are no sippers (GGMS, Singing Canary, Wonder Woman Whiskey, or The Shrinker) on the list or plan. I worked those in later; however, you could add them in if you want. Likewise, recipes requiring specialty items (i.e. defatted peanut flour, coconut flour, psyllium husk powder, gluccomannan, etc.) are also not here. I worked into those, too, as my budget (and patience and self-esteem) allowed. I also now use the THM Sweet Blend in place of the Truvia on my Week One plan, but you’ll get there.

Click here to download =====>>>>> Week One Grocery List

Print the Week One Meal Plan Sheet and Week One Grocery List, check for things you already have on-hand, cross them off, calculate exactly how much of each remaining item you’ll need according to the number of people eating this way in your house, add other items you may need (i.e. toilet paper…always toilet paper), shop for what you need, and you’re ready to begin the week. The Meal Plan Sheet starts on Sunday, but you can start on any day you like. I started on Tuesday because I usually grocery shop on Monday, but my OCD (or CDO for those of us who have it really bad and need it to be alphabetized) wouldn’t allow me to start a printed calendar on a Tuesday. My brain doesn’t have a “random” cycle. At nearly 40 years of age, I’ve learned to embrace this about myself.

As my family and I ate our way went through the first week, I went back to my Meal Plan sheet and marked each meal based on whether we really liked it, tolerated it, or hated it. Then, when I got ready for Week Two, I started planning by transferring our Really Liked It meals from week one to a new Meal Plan Sheet (we ate those jokers again, man!), then filled in the blanks with new meals to try. After a few weeks of that, we had an entire new repertoire of meals we really like.

A Word About the S/E Balance and S-Helpers/Crossovers:
At first, as you’ll see on my Week One Meal Plan, I started with all S dinners and alternated the rest. I wanted my family to have a really satisfying evening meal that included dessert each night in an attempt at getting them on-board the plan with me. Later, I adopted another strategy for  balancing between S and E, which I’ll detail in a later post.  I believe my Sunday snack is actually an FP, but that was not on purpose, I guarantee you. I tried really hard not to have S-Helpers or Crossovers, as I have quite a bit of weight to lose, and I’m (currently) neither pregnant or nursing; however, either of those can easily be achieved by adding an element to a meal that’s already here.

Are there ways my forms can be improved? Yep. Have I learned as I have gone along? You betcha! Do I keep putting one fork foot in front of the other in an attempt at moving forward? You know that’s right.

Use these to jump in! Then, you’ll at least be buying yourself another week to look into the depths of the book and other resources.

COMING SOON TO ADVENTURES IN WOMANLAND

Want to get updates on Adventures in Womanland’s posts? Enter your email address in the subscriber box on the right side of the blog. The following THM-related posts are coming up in the near future:

  • My Family’s THM Tried and True Recipes: An Organized List – a collection of my family’s favorite THM-inspired recipes (ones that we’ve tried and are kid and hubby approved), including directions to those in the book alongside some spins we like to put on them, links to those on other blogs and Pinterest, and a few of our own I’m throwing in as a bonus.
  • Low-Carb Broccoli Salad – a delicious low-carb (THM-S) side that’s perfect for summer and good for you!
  • Defatted Peanut Flour: Why Did I Buy It and What Do I Do With It? – a tour of the most popular peanut flour recipes in our house.
  • Creamy New England Crab Spread – a hot seafood dip that’s a wonderful low-carb (THM-S) appetizer.

Cousin Carolyn’s Low-Carb Cabbage (THM-S)

“Cabbage is the perfect low-carb vegetable.” Trim Healthy Mama, p. 312

“Cabbage is awesome when it’s covered in butter and baked in the oven.”
Heather Lewis, 2014

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Cousin Carolyn's Low-Carb Cabbage

The statement, “I have a large family,” is the understatement of the century in my case. Between both parents’ families, across generations, I have approximately 607,458 family members. It’s true…ish. Okay, maybe there are a few less. Seriously, anywhere I go, especially in the Memphis area, I see someone to whom I am related. Once I traveled to Boston for a teaching conference and, guess what? BAM, cousin. Right there in the hotel lobby.

This is my thirty-fifth cousin seven-times-removed, Mike.

Mike

He’s a good guy to know if you like to hunt, fish, or otherwise slay anything in the out-of-doors. Naturally, Big Daddy and Mike like killin’ things together.

Ducks2

It’s not my thing, but whatever, man. (Ducks are delicious, though!) Personally, I’m far and away more interested in being in relationship with Mike’s awesome wife, Cousin Carolyn. She and I are kindred spirits, in the sense that she likes to bake cookies, and I like to eat them. Our relationship is symbiotic that way. Give and take, more or less. I mean, just look at the cute stuff she turns out!

cookies

Y’all! I die, seriously. And baked goods are not the only item in her repertoire, either.

One day, awhile back, Cousin Carolyn and I were talking about cabbage (and by ‘talking’, I mean Facebook messaging…y’all know I don’t talk to people unless I’m dying). Now, I know that cabbage is not exactly a hot topic, but, as you know, I’m an introvert and, therefore, generally socially awkward. It’s really not a thing for me to be talking with someone about things “normal” people wouldn’t dare touch in conversation. Cabbage is just something I happen to love, and Carolyn is known far and wide to be an expert cook.

Two and two still equals four in this part of the country.

Anyway, I was telling her how I usually chop it up, dump it in a pot, cover it in chicken stock and black pepper and boil it until it looks right, when she suggested that there might be another, better, even more tasty way to cook and eat cabbage.

And, y’all, she was right!

Here’s the low-down:

DSC_0125 edited

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This aids in clean-up, which makes me happy. Split the cabbage in half, top to bottom, and then split those halves in half again. Those are fourths, for those of you who are calculating. Now, take each fourth and cut it crosswise. Now you have eighths. Math lesson: BONUS! Shred the eighths until you’ve got a bowl full of something that looks like this.

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Sprinkle copious amounts of sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder all over it and mix, mix, mix. Cabbage is somewhat of a blank slate, so you could really take it anywhere you wanted it to go at this point: onion powder, Creole seasoning, cumin, paprika. The list goes on and on.

Next, dump the seasoned cabbage onto the lined baking sheet. Don’t worry if it looks overly full. It’ll cook down in the oven.

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Top with butter pats. Step back and enjoy your masterpiece.

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Bake it for about 20-25 minutes. While  you’re waiting, give Carolyn’s Cake Crumbs and Cookie Dough page a once over. Who knows? You might need a cake or some cookies for, um, the kids. Right? After 20-25 minutes, take the cabbage out of the oven, give it a taste (careful, it’s hot!) and stir. Reseason as needed and put back into the oven. Roast it for another 20 minutes or until desired tenderness has been achieved. I like mine to still have a little crunch, but that’s just me.

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Try not to eat the whole thing. It’s like cabbage candy. Wait, what?

Here’s a printable recipe for you. Enjoy!

Cousin Carolyn's Low-Carb Cabbage (THM-S)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

credit: http://www.adventuresinwomanland.wordpress.com

DSC_0133 edited

Ingredients
1 head cabbage
2 sticks butter
sea salt
black pepper
garlic powder
other seasonings to taste

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with foil.
2. Quarter and core cabbage. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and other seasonings as desired.
4. Spread onto baking tray.
5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove, stir and reseason.
6. Place back in oven and bake until tender.

Book Talk: Growing Up Duggar

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” ~Mark Twain


Whatever your thoughts about the supersized Duggar clan of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, there are facts that you can’t ignore.

duggar fam

Fact: they live within their means. While their means may be somewhat larger now than, say, before landing a long-running television show, they haven’t always been wealthy. And yet, through frugality and hard work, they’ve managed to live debt-free for the majority of their married life, quite a feat when considering the sheer size of their family. Punks are expensive, man!

Fact: their children are well-mannered and God-honoring. While this may not matter to some, it does to me. Not only can the children carry on polite conversation (I know because I saw Josh, their oldest, at the Teach Them Diligently convention in Dallas recently), they know the Scriptures and are missions-minded.

Fact: they are more productively relational than most families. Observe them on the show. Even the littlest ones are mannerly and appropriate. Is it for the cameras? While it could be with the older ones, I’m guessing not. Have you ever tried to coerce a two-year-old into something for a camera? It ain’t easy.

These three facts alone make them parenting giants in my eyes.  Do I want 19 children? Probably not. Do I wear skirts everyday? Nope. Do I buy wheat in a bag the size of a Buick? Nunh-uh. But do I want to raise children who live within their means, honor God, are missions-focused and productively relational? You betcha.

growing up duggar

As part of her education this past year, our daughter McKenna (14) read Growing Up Duggar {click and buy}, a book primarily about relationships written by the four oldest Duggar daughters, Jana, Jill (who was recently married), Jessa (who is currently in a relationship), and Jinger. These girls, slightly older than my McKenna, have recently traversed teenagerdom and have come out on the other side to tell their tales. At 14, it’s important to hear from people like that. Below are McKenna’s summarizations and reflections on the book. I urge you, therefore, brethren and sisteren, to consider her words when choosing this book for your own daughters.  Allow your daughters to read McKenna’s thoughts and be encouraged.


by McKenna

In the final quarter of eighth grade, for my bible study, I read the book Growing Up Duggar, written by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar. This book focuses on relationships, particularly with yourself, your parents, your siblings, your friends, boys, with culture, with your country, and with the world. Each chapter starts off with a bible verse corresponding with the chapter’s content. This paper is being written to give a review of the book, as well as how its lessons have come into play in my own life.

Chapter one is entitled Your Relationship with Yourself. It’s all about how to come to terms with who you are, both physically and spiritually, and how to accept that. They say that in order to be happy with who you are you need to accept the unchangeables. Those include who your parents and siblings are, the order in which you were born into your family, your nationality, your gender, your mental capacity, the era you were born in, you natural physical features, the aging process, and your eventual death date. They say, “God loves you more than anyone else in the world loves you and He has a unique plan for you.” As far as the changeables, they don’t despise some makeup, or a slight hair coloring, or anything that is not a drastic uproot from who you are. The girls said, “A girl’s outward appearance should send a message that says ‘This is who I am,’ not ‘This is what I do.’” This particular chapter helped me overcome some personal struggles with my own outward appearance and since then I have become much more accepting of the unchangeables, both of my physical being, as well as who my family is, and what my life was, is, and will become.

Your Relationship with Your Parents is chapter two. This particular chapter begins with a lengthy passage to all the girls who have sent Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger, or any of the Duggars, a letter or an email about troubles with their home lives, particularly about abusive, neglectful, or otherwise harmful parents. They address the issue with the utmost sympathy and understanding, though they admit not being able to empathize, obviously. They give out great encouragement and some very uplifting and relevant scripture to help these girls through rough patches they might go through, and to end this section of the chapter they give a quote, saying, “No matter what kind of family situation you grow up in, God can use it to make you stronger.” Into the rest of the chapter, they begin to discuss how their parents set up boundaries, and give insight as to how to approach your parents if you think that they are being too strict, and in some not-so-surprising cases, too laid back. Yes, they go into great detail about how they get mounds of letters asking advice on how to approach your parent(s) about being too inactive in your life. I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because most of the letters came from girls with single parents, who were perhaps trying to make up for something by being the “cool”, uninvolved parent. Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger write extensively about their father, and how a girl’s relationship with her father influences her relationship with boys. They say, “Girls want to believe their dads love them and will protect them. When they don’t feel that, they often go searching for these things in guys. This can lead to unwise decisions, which in turn can bring a host of consequences and painful memories.” The girls talk a lot about needing to respect your parents, even if you don’t agree with them. They talk about heart-to-hearts with their parents, as a unit, or in singles. Their mom or dad will ask nine key questions to each child during these talks, and those questions are:

  1. Who is your best friend? What qualities do you admire in him/her? Does the friendship build you up or bring you down?
  2. What do you want to do with your life? Whom do you want to be like? What skills would you like to develop? Do you wonder what God’s will is for your life?
  3. What books are you reading? What interests you in the book and how has it influenced you? Have you ever thought about writing a book? What topic would you write about?
  4. What things in our family discourage you? (Clutter? Lack of space? Conflicts with siblings? Rules? When others get in your stuff?)
  5. What changes would you like to see in us (Mom and Dad)? (More time with the family? Greater spiritual leadership?)
  6. What projects are you working on now? Who or what are you praying for?
  7. What things about yourself or your past would you like to change?
  8. If you could ask God a question, what would it be?
  9. What things can I pray about for you?

“Of course,” they say, “these questions changed over the years and depending on who the answerer is.” They go on to talk about the four rules of obedience. It must be instant, cheerful, thorough, and unconditional. This chapter inspired me to be more honest with my parents in regards to what I’m actually thinking instead of just saying, “I’m fine”.

Chapter three is all about Your Relationship with Your Siblings. One of the first sub-sections in the chapter is about apologizing and forgiving, the key to being a happy family. Even now, going the extra mile is always a must, especially with siblings, who were, are, and will always be your greatest friends. Patience and understanding are oh-so important when dealing with somebody that close to you. Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger say that in their family they do something called talking sweet, and often get asked by a parent, “Are you looking to be an exposer or a restorer?” in reference to tattling. And before yelling at someone to stop or going to a parent, simply ask, “Please don’t.” They also cannot over-explain the importance of laughing with, and not at. This chapter in particular helped me to strive to be more patient with my siblings, or anyone, for that matter.

The fourth chapter discusses Your Relationship with Your Friends. They jump right into it by stating the importance of pointing your friends to God, no matter who they are. Ful- blown Christian or an unbeliever, point them to God. They say, “God can use anything and anyone to change another person’s life for the better.” You may be the changer, but you may very well be the changed. They give wonderful insight on where, how, and why to make the right friends, and also how to keep them. One saying spoke to me, and that is, “There is nothing you can possibly say to an individual that would be half as interesting to him as the things he is dying to tell you. And all you need, in order to get the reputation of being a fascinating companion, is to say: ‘How wonderful! Do tell me more.’” On the opposite end of the spectrum, they also discuss how to stand up to your friends when they are doing something you know is wrong, and ask, if they pressure you to do it anyways, should they really be your friends? They urge you to be picky with your friends, and don’t be afraid to cut all ties cold turkey with one if need be. In that light, never ever make fun of someone’s standards, because you wouldn’t want yours made fun of. This chapter made me think more carefully about whom I want to engage with, and who is below my standards. Also, that I will try to make myself be the type of person I would want to be friends with, or be above my own standards, so to speak.

Chapter five is perhaps one of the rougher ones to talk about, and to summarize. Your Relationship with Guys is what it’s called. They get right in the thick of it with some help from their parents, especially with what it takes to have a great marriage. Two things, apparently, and they are being willing to say “I was wrong,” and asking “Will you please forgive me?” They warn about the dangers of being in love with being in love. The main problem in relationships these days is going into it and looking for what you can get out of it, instead of what you can put into it. They also say, “If God gives you a full, seventy-year life, your time as a single person is very short compares to the time you’re married. Be content with every stage of life and wherever God has you; use your time wisely and invest in things that will last for an eternity.” They state that even when you do find the “perfect” guy, he won’t be perfect, and that he will mess up, so don’t expect a fairytale ending. Ask yourself the question, “What kind of girl do you think a godly guy would be attracted to?” The answer, the four girls say, is a godly girl. Strive to not only look for something in a partner, but to have what your partner is looking for, within reason. Don’t completely change who you are, or else you partner won’t be seeing you, he’ll be sing the falsified version of you. Therefore, he would love this version of you, not the actual you. Another thing to be careful of is not confusing love with a sexual desire. The results of this are disastrous, so always think carefully before committing to a relationship. Ask your parents for advice; they’ve been through this. As much as they “just don’t understand you” or “can’t get how you feel for this one,” just give them a chance to help you with this major, life-long, world-changing decision. They also stress the matter of guarding your heart, which includes guarding some other things. Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger write that you know in your heart what is right, and you have opportunities to participate in actions that will undoubtedly break your heart, sooner or later. They also say that before thinking about entering into any relationships that you need to make a list of things he must have, things that are negotiable, things he can’t have, and things that are negotiable on that plane. And by things, they of course mean personality traits, physical traits, and spiritual traits. I enjoyed, in particular, the aspect of this chapter where they wrote out to a few men that they knew and asked them what they looked for in a girl. The group ranged from ages 16-29, and their professions ranged from farming to construction, from politics to graphic design, and another is a Marine Corps officer. These men replied with a multitude of answers to the questions, too many to type out, but they are featured on pages 141-142. These questions and the corresponding answers have given me a look into what Christian guys want in Christian girls, and this chapter has given me a new perspective of how I should go about finding the right partner for myself.

The end of the chapter had a sub-section entitled Making Seven Key Commitments, which I have decided to commit to. They are as follows:

  1. I will not date or court anyone who does not love Jesus as much as I do.
  2. I will wait patiently on God’s timing to bring the man He has for me.
  3. I will choose to save my body as a gift for my future spouse.
  4. I will choose to not fill my mind with sensual material (R-rated movies or vulgar T.V. shows, bad internet sites, teen magazines, and romance novels).
  5. I will choose wise friends and wholesome activities.
  6. I will share my heart and inner struggles regularly with my parents or a loving Christian counselor.
  7. I will give my love life to God and focus my time and energy on serving the Lord.

Chapter six, seven, and eight I’m going to roll up into one summary, and they are about Your Relationship with Culture, with Your Country, and with the World. The reason I am combining these is they are less filled with life lessons and teaching for others, as they share their own personal experiences with the world so that you can learn from their mistakes instead of making them yourself. They talk about self-control on the internet, on T.V., and whatever else you may absorb into your brain. They also talk about their show and how they manage to stay “normal” despite all the publicity and negative comments. They talk about mission works and their travels. I personally did not glean a whole lot from the final three chapters; nevertheless, there was much to learn. All in all, I love this book. It taught me so much as to how to joyfully and spiritually live my life. I would recommend this book to anybody, especially girls, who are struggling or not, so that they can also have insight as to how to deal with a struggle or problem that they are working through, or as a bible study book, like I read it.

My say is go read the book.


There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! McKenna! I heart her.

Here’s the Amazon link to the book if  you’d like to buy it for your own daughters…or your granddaughters…or yourself…or your son…or your hair lady.

Whatever, man

Growing Up Duggar

 

I’m Baaaaaaaack!

Hi.

Remember me?

I used to blog here some time ago.

I wrote about my time with Jillian and The 30-Day Shred, about the daffodils in my yard, and a series of posts called, Humor Me, Lord, a Bible study series I created featuring the funny side of God’s word.

Then, one day, I just stopped.

Right around the day after my last post, I found out I was pregnant. Then, the next day, I started throwing up. The throwing up went on for several weeks, followed immediately by pregnancy-induced migraines. Any other, more plucky blogger would’ve chugged right through the whole pregnancy-birthing-baby-toddler process, but not me! I’m a quitter from way back! People wrote to me, pleading with me to write, but, noooooo. My family texted me, begging for a nugget of blogging goodness, and still nothing. My daughter, now 14, would read my old blog posts, laughing aloud, and attempt to persuade me to come up with something new. Uh, no. I just didn’t have it in me.

But now I’m ready. Bring the horse around; I’m ready to get back on it. I’ve started by updating my woefully dated site. Hope you like the new look. Take a look around, sign up for email updates, try a delicious recipe or seven, like me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram (see right), and get caught up. Start by clicking the “About” link up top and learning all about what we’re up to these days and meet our newest addition, Ty. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him very soon.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be posting updates on the family (big changes coming up!), book reviews, yummy new recipes from an entirely new eating plan, giving stuff away, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get around to completing the book of Job in the Humor Me, Lord series. Geeze. I’ll also be telling you how I kicked Jillian out of my life…and how she wormed her way back in. Boy, oh, boy. I’ll fill you in on my current, working plan to lose the now-2-year-old “baby” weight, and I’ll try to keep you entertained along the way.

What’ve y’all been up to in the last, oh, say three years or so?

About

About the Dissertaton 101 class I attended on campus last week: 20 people enrolled. 5 quit before the class began. 15 showed up. 2 walked out during the week. 13 finished, self included. 11 finishers were women. We hypothesized that it’s not because women are necessarily more intelligent, just more hard-headed. It’s an anecdotal hypothesis. Take it as such.

About dissertation completion rates: around 50%. I’ve got a 50-50 shot.

About my house: it’s cleaner than it’s ever been. Dissertation avoidance is a powerful thing.

About making an attempt at keeping up with the Kardashians: what do they do, again, exactly? Best I can tell, they just walk around looking beautiful and havin’ lunch. Heck, I can do that. We’ll call my show, Disserting Dame.

About public restrooms: please flush when you’re done. Only laziness prevents it. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t talk on the phone when you’re doing your business.

About TurboFire: I’m starting it next week. I’m hopeful Harold Camping’s right about a 2011 rapture. It’s my best bet for relief.

About macaroni-and-cheese: I miss it. I want some. This broccoli is just as good, though. On Mars.

About Five Guys: I went there and ate a hot dog instead of a burger. It was sacreligious. And good. Mostly good.

About blogging: it’s been infrequent lately on my part and is likely to continue its sporadic nature due to the fact that the writing of my dissertation/obsessive cleaning of my house has taken its place for the next year. Or 10. Ish. I’m sorry, or you’re welcome, depending on where you stand on the issue.

About Kung Fu Panda 2: Big Daddy took me to see it and forced me to sit through it. Don’t bother. Unless you have a 5-year-old. Or think like one. Big Daddy laughed hysterically throughout. Draw your own conclusions.

About the Bubbe: this is his summer hairstyle of choice. I’m concerned about his relationship with Jesus. He’s out of fellowship, I’m sure.

About the Rolo McFlurry at McDonald’s: it’s a conspiracy, designed to break my diet. I’m a conspiracy theorist.

About tanning: if I sit in the sun long enough, my freckles will converge, illiciting a tanned look. It’s as good as the real thing for those of us with freckles.

About pedicures: when I’m rich, I’ll get one every day.

About Clark Moustakas: he’s my new best friend. I call him Clark Griswold. He’s 88 years old. I don’t think he’ll mind.

About my mother’s recent birthday: I gave her all five Rocky movies ever made because she loves Rocky like a fat kid loves Twinkies. My greatest fear is that she’s going to want to have a mother-daughter Rocky marathon next time I’m in town.

 

Over and out,

AinW

A Farmer John Update

Awhile back, I told you about how Big Daddy and the Diva had taken on a gardening project now that plantin’ season is upon us.

Although it’s still shockingly cool here in the South, daffodil and tulip season is clearly over. Big Daddy (aka Farmer John) pulled up all his spring crops, his Romaine lettuce, his tulips, his daffodils, his spinach and such, and replaced them with some of our favorite summer stuff.

Oh, and the Diva, who, as it turns out, has the gardening attention span of a gnat, has moved on to something more sparkly.  Farmer John has been left to his own devices and has developed quite a passion for gardening, even readin’ fancy gardenin’ books and all.

It all started last summer. We were in transition from California to East Tennessee when Big Daddy decided to plant a few rows of squash and zucchini over at his parents’ place. One day, I was in his momma’s kitchen making dinner, when my father-in-law walked in. Alone. Since Big Daddy and my father-in-law ride to work together, I wondered what had happened to Big Daddy. So I asked.

My father-in-law, he of deadpan sense of humor and mild manners, said with a straight face, “Farmer John’s out there checkin’ his crops.”

Maybe you have to know my father-in-law to know how funny it is. But it is. Very funny.

Anyway, on that day, Big Daddy, forevermore, became Farmer John during the spring and summer months.  Really, he’s kind of obsessed with these plants.  He checks on them as soon as he comes in from work. He waters and feeds them. He looks at them very carefully and reports any new growth to the Diva and me immediately. He wants to be made aware if anything on the dinner table came from his garden.

If I didn’t intervene, he might get a sleeping bag and sleep out there with them.

Here’s what he’s workin’ right now:

Tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes. Seriously, we eat several tomatoes a day, which I currently have to buy from the man down by the courthouse. We’ve got Romas and slicers, and I can’t wait for them to be ready to eat.

Bell peppers. They gross me out, but Big Daddy likes them. He’s the farmer, so he gets to pick. He’s also got some squash and zucchini out there, but no action yet on them.

Herbs. Not the kind of herbs that people get arrested for growing around here. We’ve just got the regular stuff. Basil, cilantro, etc. Last night, Farmer John harvested some of his basil crop, and I chopped it up and put it on top of some sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzerella. Topped with a little olive oil and alot of balsamic vinegar, it’s a real treat!

He’s got some flowers out there, too. Some marigolds and these. Impatiens? Periwinkles? I can never tell them apart. They’re pretty, whatever they are.

And every so often, he talks the Diva into assisting him. There’s usually the promise of a milkshake involved. We’re real healthy around here these days. We like to balance the bounty of our crops with the occasional trip to the Dairy Queen.

Don’t tell Jillian. Please. She scares me.

Over and out,

AinW