I really should be cleaning…

Ooooooohhhhh, spring is coming. Well, according to the calendar it’s already here. According to my bones, it’s just going to be cold and wet forEVAH. I have to finish up my spring cleaning and prepare for a 3rd birthday party, but I’d really rather be curled up watching a movie.

But the birds are back! YAY! Oh my goodness, I missed them all winter! I was hoping that they would continue to check out my well-stocked feeder, but only the deer and an occasional squirrel popped by. This morning, I cleaned out the feeder and refilled it. And then, 5 birds were thrilled to float over. My heart sang a little.

Spring break is next week, so in preparation for our week with a clear schedule, I went to the library and stocked up. Liam has 4 more letters to go in preK, so I grabbed books for those letters and a few on spring themes. I’m still working to build up our own stock of spring books, but the library is there for a reason! And scholastic book fairs :)

Today, I also ordered this weather station as a bonus Easter basket gift for the family. Liam has always shown a great deal of interest in the how and why of weather, so we find a lot of weather related books in our library basket, but this spring, I think he’s ready to start learning more. We are working on getting the kitchen boards back up and useful again. Sylvi has expressed an interest in having her own chore magnets, so I’m still working out the details and the layout. Thank goodness for those 3M strips. People like me who like to rearrange frequently, we owe our spouse’s sanity to them.

We are going to kick off spring break with Sylvi’s birthday party on Sunday. Oh my. How did she go from being this teeny little thing to the wild and independent girl she is now? The passage of time just amazes me. She requested I paint her nails this morning, so I think we will have to do that to match her princess dress she’s eagerly waiting to wear on Sunday.

As long as we are talking about growing up, Liam put away his own lunch leftovers today without even mentioning it to me. I just stood there watching him as he walked to the cabinet, grabbed a small container and proceeded to pop his wrap in there and then place it in the fridge. I’m still stunned.

So tell me, what does your family do for spring break? I’m not a big traveler, so we’ll be doing fun things around here… and of course, checking the weather.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Body Wars

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!

 

Sigh. Another round of Mommy Wars cropped up over the weekend. Perhaps you’ve heard about the #NoExcuses campaign? A young mother of 3 small boys who works full time posted an “inspiration” photo of herself in teeny, tiny clothes  and all her fit and gorgeous glory with a few reasons that people use as excuses to not exercise and how they applied to her. Essentially, she pointed out at although she has limited sleep, time and a small herd of energetic boys to wrangle, she still makes the time to work out and care for herself, so what is stopping the rest of the moms?

I will be honest with you right off the bat, I saw the photo the first week that it was posted, checked out Maria Kang’s site and moved on. Whatevs. I’m not offended by people who post about their workouts. I view it as an opportunity to support them… I know it’s hard to get the gumption or time to workout when you have little children. Believe me, I get it. So when I see a mom making a sacrifice to get out there on little sleep and time restraints, I want to run around with banners cheering them on.

I am used to being active. I like it, but my world doesn’t necessarily revolve around it. It took me a while to work myself back into an exercise routine after having kids. Liam will be 5 in July and I’m still working to shed the extra pounds that have been hanging around. It’s frustrating and discouraging, but that’s why I work out with others. That’s WHY I found support and have people to talk to about my goals and my progress. I work out with people who are in better shape than me because they will push me. In a good way. They don’t shame or belittle me, but they keep encouraging me to try harder. And RESPECT me when I say I cannot keep up or feel uncomfortable with the challenge.

When I first started to exercise with this group, I cried a lot. I felt like a gross, fat slob. I didn’t like how I looked or felt. But you know what? The only way to get over that feeling is to put yourself out there and start somewhere. It totally sucks to step out and try. And there are days when I do. not. want. to. exercise. I don’t. But the reason why I keep going back and asking these women to train me, to teach me and to exercise with me is because they are willing to come alongside me and help. When I ask a question, they answer, they don’t judge.

The other night, Dateline kindly exploited the newest Mommy War and did a piece on Maria Kang vs. the Kansas moms who felt judged and bashed by her campaign. I could hardly wait to watch because one of the moms (Dionna Ford) is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most tolerant women you’ll ever meet. I was stoked to see how this turned out! Then, I got nervous. You know how women’s issues get so sensationalized.

I was right. It was a very uncomfortable segment for me. Because you see, on one hand, I WANT to like and support Maria for getting moms up and active. But whoa. Her tone. Her attitude. Her inability to even soften up her resolve to change Sara and Dionna’s minds. And the snarky, look-at-me-I’m-exercising-at-5-am-to-prove-my-point selfie. In the meantime, Sara and Dionna were game to live out Sara’s day on national television. While at Sara’s son’s therapy, Maria suggested that Sara should work out. I would have flat out told her no. My time while I wait for Liam’s therapy is sacred.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working to lose weight. I’m working hard. I’m watching my food choices and making a point to exercise. But I’m not whining about my weight. And perhaps that’s something that should be considered in all this. You and I make the choices we do for our own reasons, but we have to pay the price. I don’t have a whole lot of extra time because I choose to work out. Some of my friends have also made the same choices. They are way more ripped than I am. But they can say that they got where they are because they WORKED.

When I look at Kang’s photo campaign, I can see why people are turned off. I’m turned off by the zillion posed selfies. I’d rather read about how many miles you ran. Or that you met your goal in the deadlift. When these campaigns take the vanity turn, that’s when I’m out. The initial intent to inspire is wonderful, but the addition of the accusatory phrase paired with a body baring photo? *gag* Mean girls anyone?

The Dateline segment did not make me want to go exercise. It annoyed me. I didn’t like how things were clearly edited. I did not like how they zoomed in on Sara standing on the sidelines with a sad face holding her baby. Not once was it mentioned that her child was screaming and needed comfort. How many times have I stepped away from a workout to comfort a child? Or take them to the potty? (BTW, I had to do it this morning.)

You know what would have made me want to exercise? The mothers in the Kansas city group making eye contact with their little ones while they planked. Dionna’s sweet baby girl mimicking her mother. That. I don’t need someone demanding to know why I’m a failure. What I need is someone to look me in the eye and tell me how I CAN make time for myself and run or stretch or lift or whatever. I need someone to show me the correct way to do lunges and squats so I don’t ruin my knees.

After reading this back to myself I wonder if I’m projecting when I call it “vanity”. If I am, it’s my own issue. It’s one I know I need to work on, but at the time same time, if you think some one isn’t in good shape because they’re still fluffy around the middle, that would be your issue. Regardless of how you feel about exercising or Maria Kang or the Dateline episode, self care is very important. I have a friend whose self care is running lots and lots of miles. Another friend cross-stitches. Another friend bakes. Take care of yourself. Think about your health and do what you can to protect it. Our methods may be different but the point is that we all only get one body so we need to choose the method that is best for ourselves and our families. That’s not an excuse, it’s a priority.

 

 

Lately

Happy Friday. I’ve got a cake in the oven. I’m nervous about it as my last foray into gluten free baking had abysmal results. Nonetheless, Sylvi’s birthday party is in a little over a week and I really need a cake recipe. I figure if I can have a chocolate cake, then I can make my favorite marshmallow frosting. But, of course, something needs to be pink on the cake. Sprinkles?

Liam is still in preschool… it’s letter V week and I am amazed how quickly the year has flown by. His writing skills have improved exponentially. He shows signs of reading readiness and has plenty of enthusiasm. His math skills aren’t top notch. As a STEM girl, it worries me. Stay tuned. We’re going to be working the math skills in our living room over Spring Break.

Sylvi is in full-fledged princess mode. By this I totally mean that she wears her princess costumes all. the. time. We went hiking and she wore it. She has forgone actual shoes for a pair of Snow White princess shoes that are about 3 sizes too big. And by the way, if it isn’t “sparkly” she’s not wearing it.

She asked for a bicycle and a princess dress for her third birthday. Cinderella bicycle acquired. Prior to her gasping in Target, I had no idea such a thing existed. Princess dress in the works. I bought this pattern anthology and am using the 10th pattern with sparkly pink satin. Matt and I had such a laugh last night as I sat in a sea of tulle. 10 layers of it :)

And since I always seem to mention the weather in my posts this year, it’s raining. Which is exciting because I see buds on my lilac bushes!!! And the Weeping Cherry! And the trees! I celebrate the seasons for their individual awesomeness, but I’m finally at the point where I’m ready to celebrate spring. I hung the bird house and windchimes again. Oooh! And I opened the windows again.

The cake is out of the oven. And it’s perfect. Perhaps gluten free won’t be so bad after all…

Mighty Mommy Monday

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year. Join us!

 

I had planned to talk about modifying workouts today. I had a whole post on ab exercises for those who have diastasis recti… it’s super exciting (well for me anyway), but I just was too busy to write today. I planned to write tonight while the hubs watches an episode of Chuck I already watched. Side note: I’m such a binge watcher. I discovered the show two weeks ago and have to exercise ALL my self control to not spend my days watching it. I’m pathetic, I know.

Anyway, I’m working my way through the 30 day shred, wondering what the next goal will be when my friend, Angie, texts me to ask if I’d like to run a half marathon with her. Now look. I do things that scare me. I do. It’s not really my personality or desire to strike out and do these things, but I feel that it’s good for me. If I didn’t do things that scare me, I’d always eat the same food, read the same books and drive down the same streets. I’ve now competed in two triathlons, one I loved, the other I loathed. LOATHED. Also, I cried a lot on that one, so… I was terrified before I did them. I was petrified when I stood in the corral before the Warrior Dash. I’m incredibly proud of myself for even showing up on those days and trying, even if I wasn’t the fastest one there.

I laughed at the text. Why would I willingly run that much? Sparkly encouragement signs? That’s a little bit more my speed (pun not intended). But, again, here we are with something that scares me to death. Really, it’s the fear of failure that scares me more than the potential blisters, but it’s fear nonetheless.

So I signed up. Yeah. I’ve never run more than 3 miles at a time, and that was only because it was for a grade. I’ve thought about it, buuuuuttttt…. I’m too out of shape, I’m too tired, I’m too fat, etc. You know the excuses. Therefore, I am going to start attending a running class on Thursday mornings to train and will continue to cross train with swimming. Currently, I’m at a total of 6 miles for the year, but am going to return to swimming on a more regular basis soon.

I have almost 6 months before race day. I’m counting on the fact that I’ve already paid and I have people who witnessed it to keep me motivated. And the fact that since going gluten free my joints haven’t left me in nightly pain and I’ve lost the first pounds in two years. So there’s always that :)  I’m not excited yet, in case you were wondering. Give me a few weeks, ok?

Mighty Mommy Monday – App style

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year. Join us!

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! What are you doing tonight? We are headed to a party… first one in 5 years, so you know… big times for us. BUT, just because I’m going to be out and having a grand time, it doesn’t mean that my dietary plans are going to be derailed. I rejoined MyFitnessPal last week and have really been enjoying monitoring my food intake.

Enjoy? Yes, enjoy. If you have trouble with controlling your every bite or stressing out about your calories, this might not be the best app for you. I, however, like it because of how it breaks down your food into fats, proteins, carbs, etc. Since I’ve been ascribing to a diet that is more paleo in structure, I’m watching to make sure I am getting enough proteins and fats. According to this program, I can have almost 2100 calories a day, but at this point, I have yet to exceed 1460 calories. In the book Practical Paleo, they recommend women beginning their day with at least 20g of protein and personally, I’m still struggling to even meet 10g!

I’m a busy person, always buzzing around the house and working on some project or another, so for me, tracking my food intake is a great reminder to make the foods I ingest worthwhile. Prior to being gluten free, I didn’t realize how often I was guilty of mindless eating all the carbs. I didn’t realize how when I had a crummy day or was bored or lonely or frustrated, I pulled a box of crackers out of the cupboard or smeared cream cheese on a mini bagel. I didn’t consider that in a given day, I ate bread products at every meal, plus for a snack(s).

And besides all that, I just like to organize and make lists :) Strategy for tonight’s party? I will eat before I go. I am bringing gluten-free Irish Soda Bread as our contribution to the food, but I cannot be sure of the ingredients in the other foods, so I’m going to protect against being anxious (party = waaaaayyyy too much social anxiety) and hungry and making crummy food choices. An apple and almond butter will be my pre-party food. I’m not a fan of beer, so I won’t be drinking my calories either.

So now it’s your turn. How you make wise food choices on party days? Do you keep track of your food intake, exercise routines, calories in general? What are your favorite fitness apps?

Oh!  And check out this fun and fast workout by Pumps and Iron today!


Snow day comforts

Yesterday morning when I left for the chiropractor, it was barely sprinkling and yet the forecast called for ice and anywhere from 3-10 inches of snow. Yeah right. The wind was warm and nonthreatening. I dressed Liam for school, got his bag packed and then set about my chores. I was in the basement when I sounded like someone was trying to break into the window. But it was just ice.

That nonthreatening wind? It brought ice. And almost no snow. I was incredibly disappointed… I like it when winter gives us one last hurrah of blizzardy weather, just one final blast before I break out the flip flops. I did not get my epic blast of snow, but man alive, the ice was scary! PreK was cancelled and we got to stay home.

Snow days look like this in our home: blocks, batman moving next door to the squirrel family, snacks, movie, coloring and me piecing as quickly as I can while the kids are occupied.

Because of the whole avoid-gluten-like-the-plague thing, I started buying gluten free pasta, which is fine, but I also realized that we were way too dependent of pasta as our starch. And although I am finding great substitutes I still like my pastas… So once a week I’m scheduling it into our menu because there’s no sense in deprivation, right?

Anyway, last night was the perfect opportunity for comforting pasta. I’m learning to like Alfredo sauce, especially when it’s loaded with veggies. I used what was in my fridge to make the dish colorful, so don’t be shy changing up what you add to it… The best part about making your own food is that you can truly make it your own, so don’t be shy!!

Confetti Chicken Pasta
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken, cut up into small pieces (I used leftover roast chicken)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 cups chopped veggies (my choices? Peppers, onions, peas and carrots)
- Alfredo sauce (one full recipe or one jar of store bought)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil to sauté
- 1 lb pasta

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add your veggies. Sauté until they are tender and then add in the garlic. At this point, turn your heat down to a simmer and add in the Greek yogurt and chicken. Heat through while you make your Alfredo sauce. When the Alfredo sauce is done, pour it into the chicken and veggie mixture and start cooking your pasta. Drain the pasta and serve hot with the sauce mixture.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed changes in my body’s response to food as I eliminated my usual flours and pastas. Instead of being hungry every hour or so, I am finding that I’m only hungry while I am preparing our meals… It’s as though my stomach is actually satisfied… Huh. My mother would be so proud.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Avocado edition

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year. Join us!

 

Now personally, I’m not a fan of avocados. I don’t eat them any other way than in this snack. I know they are so, so, so good for you, but I cannot get past the texture. However, when blended with a tart, crisp apple, it serves as a creamy addition to raw applesauce. This is a quick and easy snack that will fill you up through the afternoon and give you plenty of beneficial fats. Which, I’m learning the further I get into the book, Grain Brain, are very important for the health and function of your brain!.

So here we go: 1 ripe avocado, 2 apples, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 pear per person served and cinnamon. Cut up your avocado (this post has great instructions if you’ve never encountered one) and place it into a food processor with the 2 apples. I peel the apples, but you can do as you wish. Add in the honey and process until smooth(ish). Chop up the pear and spoon your avocado mix over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Eat right away, it will turn brown if you forget about it. (Brown is ugly, but doesn’t impact the flavor in case it ever happens to you.) 

I’m making an effort to share this recipe so that I would be reminded again why I loved this as a child. My mom used to make it as a breakfast option it is truly very filling. I’m having to make some adjustments to my workout routines as I’ve learned more about how to get and keep my thyroid in proper working order, and as I mentioned above, I’m reading literature about our diets again. Did you know that your brain is dependent on fats to function? And that research is showing more and more a connection between those people who ascribe to a high-carb, low-fat diet and dementia? Makes me want to go hug my ghee!

Tell me, are there any ways you like to incorporate avocado into your diet? 



Waving farewell – to my beloved gluten

Over the years, this blog has seen a lot of food changes. Back in 2007, I’d been married less than a year and needed to learn how to cook the basic foods. So I blogged about it. Then, because I’m a reader and really prefer information to fiction, I read a few books on local eating. And my goodness, it appealed to every single fiber in my body. Because, you know, as a child, I wanted to be a homesteader.

So during this time, I learned how to can and preserve my food. I had garden space all over the yard. I got pregnant and am not going to lie: having food cravings that were further than 100 miles away?  It did not go well. And let me tell you… cantaloupe was ALL I wanted come February 2009. After Liam was born, I settled into a food rut. The rut continued, with a brief trip down the comfort food lane while pregnant with Sylvi. But then, you see, Liam had more and more trouble with textures and what seemed like routine meals became a set series of meals in a rotation so I could pretend our child wasn’t struggling.

In the last two years, we’ve been working with Liam through occupational therapy and although the therapist kept telling me I needed to work more at home, I just couldn’t. Sitting at the table with a little boy who needs to be encouraged to swallow the food in his mouth, it’s exhausting. I gave up and served the shapes of pasta that didn’t take him hours to chew and swallow.

Now imagine my horror when last week my doctor looked me in the eye and said “Less grains, Laura, less grains.” She then said that my health issues were either the result of my thyroid bottoming out or lupus. So. Gluten free it is. And as Dr. House has “proven” time and again, it’s never lupus. Nope.

So now? Now I have to start adapting all my recipes, learning to use gluten-free flours and pastas and most of all, I need to expand my horizons once again. And I need to expand the experiences of my little boy. In the last 10 days, we’ve eaten a very grain-light, gluten-free diet. It’s hard for him. While the other three in our home are enjoying the variety and the almost-three-year-old is stealing all the broccoli out of the serving dish before I can even sit down, my little guy is slowly, but surely being forced into more and more variety.

So what does that mean for this blog? Weeellll… I guess I’ll have some recipes to post again! Ha! But seriously. When you don’t stray from a rotation of 10 meals, there isn’t much to share. I ordered several new cookbooks and am excited to try more gluten-free, paleo type meals. I didn’t realize how much I relied on breads and crackers to fill my belly until I couldn’t any more! And with the extraction of gluten from my diet, the joints that have often swollen and been so painful by the time I went to bed that I could only limp around, have seen a dramatic change. As I’ve done more research into the adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism, I’m learning that I also need to adjust my workouts, so as to not place additional stress on my body. Funny. All these years, I’ve been working so hard and it’s just done more damage!

Tomorrow you’ll get a post about one of my absolute favorite vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo snacks to kick off the week! Now… if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure out what side I’m going to serve with the glorious Maple Dijon Chicken that’s roasting away in my kitchen. But don’t worry… the pug is really enjoying all these changes. Really. A lot. :)

Work in Progress Wednesday – Confetti

It’s almost embarrassing how many plans I’ve already made for the year. I know of 6 babies due before school starts in the fall, so I’m planning ahead with great enthusiasm. At this point, I have enough fabric to make 6 baby quilts, 1 queen sized and 1 twin sized. But you know what? Once I finish one, I feel such a let down. Yes, yes, I created something and it’s beautiful… but what now? I like to always have something to look forward to!

I just finished my nephew’s quilt and was working on his twin sister’s quilt top when I realized I hated the backing I had originally chosen from my stash. So I ordered material from fabric.com and it should be here tomorrow, so that’s on my list to finish over the weekend. Hopefully.

But with her top finished (and absolutely unnecessarily difficult to piece) I sat back and wondered if I should start another baby quilt or do something for myself. As I type this, a light snow is falling and although it looks so dreary out, I’m aware that spring is actually coming and I’ll have to put away my Winter’s Lane quilt. So I cracked open the wrapper on my beautiful Wishes bundle and started a cheery quilt using Sweetwater’s pattern Confetti.

Lots of ironing and piecing in this project, so I’m taking the time that I have and trying to maximize it. I’m hoping to have this done before the end of the month as then I’ll really need to buckle down and start working on Easter outfits!

Incredible Edible

If you’ve been on Pinterest for any length of time, you’ll discover a few pins that every one and their hamster you follow is pinning. And depending on your core interests and the interests of those you follow, perhaps you’ve seen the Bodyrocker tv deviled eggs. I see a few “healthy” or “low-fat” deviled eggs on a regular basis, but I’d really wanted to try the Bodyrocker ones. Until I looked at the ingredient list and the questionable comments. Seems you love them or you hate them. And there was no way I was putting honey in a deviled egg.

But you see, Sylvi and I love eggs and I’m always looking for an afternoon snack option that will tide us over to supper without much effort. The result here is an egg that is both good for you AND (according to the resident toddler) “Yummy in your tummy”. So here you go, tasty, healthy and satisfying… what more could you want?!

  • 6 hardboiled eggs
  • 2-4 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion granules (or powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill

Cut each egg in half, lengthwise and pop out the yolk into a bowl. (Your yolks should be bright yellow in color… if you have grey around the edges, you’ve over cooked them. And then they get stinky. Just a note.) Once the yolks are all in a bowl, you can mix in the rest of the ingredients. Start with 2 Tablespoons of yogurt and add from there. I wound up using all the yogurt because I wanted the consistency of the filling to resemble traditional deviled eggs as much as possible. Smash up the ingredients with enthusiasm… if you don’t like chunks of egg, otherwise mix well and move on to the next step! Fill each egg with the filling and top with chopped chives. Keep chilled until you are ready to eat!