Friday field trip

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Today marked the 10th day of homeschool for our little family. We celebrated with a field trip to the nature center. I could hardly wait to get to this day because I had found the cutest little Nature Scavenger Hunt from Simple as That. 

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Joy of joys, Matt only had to work until lunch today (yay holidays!) so we waited until he got home to leave. As we were all lacing on shoes, Vito started jumping around like a puppy, so I asked if he wanted to come along. He gave me pretty much the same look he gives me when I ask if he needs to go outside, so I asked if he wanted to ride in the car and he let out a YIP! like I haven’t heard in forever. So we had an extra student along for the excursion.

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Once we got to the Nature Center, Liam was far too set on his personal goals to really play along with the scavenger hunt. I’m so grateful for a daughter who thinks every little thing I do is phenomenal. She was thrilled to carry a clipboard and pencil, searching high and low, delighting in crossing things off her board. At the very end of the hike, I found some acorns and she squeezed my legs, telling me they were “de best!”

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In the end, we found almost every thing on the hunt except for animal tracks, deer and of all things, squirrels. We did find a lot of poop though. A lot of poop. We listened to the cardinals calling, the insects humming and the dog gasping. I’m planning to take the kids back again as the weather chills for another hike to see what we discover as the seasons change… I’m even hoping to convince them myself it’s a great idea to do a snowy hike!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training week 5

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!

I’m realizing the full extent of my training this week. Between homeschooling, housework, freelance work, exercising and generally trying to be a balanced person, I’m not doing so well. Last week, I cut my volunteer participation significantly. It hurt my heart a little to say goodbye to so much good, but I have to sleep at some point, you know? However, I was running out of creative juice for several of the positions and I much prefer quality over quantity so I feel that for myself, the right decision was made.

My legs were really bothering me on Sunday’s run, so I’m contemplating adjusting my runs so that walking is built right in. So at least while I’m training, I’m not flirting with injury. I get another adjustment on Friday, and I am really looking forward to that!

Monday – stretch and strengthen {more stretching, less strengthening… today is a modified rest day now}

Tuesday – Run 4 mi {It’s supposed to be a scorcher tomorrow… I plan to run at the Y. In the air conditioning. I’m a wimp. I don’t care who knows it.}

Wednesday – Cross train. I’m considering squeezing an extra swim in this week. I really like doing those peaceful laps back and forth in the pool. {if I’m ambitious, I might toss in a little time on the elliptical}

Thursday – Run 4 miles.

Friday – REST {and adjustment}

Saturday – Swim a mile

Sunday – Run… 6 miles. Planning for a run 1 mile, walk .25 mile, run 1 mile, walk, etc. pattern.

The first week

We officially made our homeschool decision in June. Once the decision was made, I went to bed and actually slept through the night for the first time in months. We LOVED the school Liam attended for preK and I just couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel settled about sending him to Kindergarten there! {Of course, now… months later… it makes complete sense as Liam’s needs have changed and the sweet people who handle his OT are becoming some of my greatest cheerleaders.}  I cried a little knowing that I wouldn’t have the amazing teachers in his our lives, but the fact of the matter is that we need to do what is best for our family {specifically Liam} and homeschooling is the answer.

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Monday morning, I fed the kids a first-day-of-school pancake breakfast and we headed into the dining room to start school. Because it was day one, every thing was shiny and new and interesting. I had very low expectations for the day for several reasons, but mainly because new routines are hard! Additionally, my parents decided after my 1st grade year that they needed to homeschool me and although I was excited to stay home, I remember being sad when my peers walked by my house on their way to school. I figured the same would be true for Liam, especially since he really thought his beloved Mrs. Lilly would also teach Kindergarten.

Monday was all unicorns and glitter. It was fun and new. Tuesday and Wednesday were challenging. We had to stop a few times and wait for attitudes to clear, but the overall day wasn’t bad. But then. Thursday and Friday Liam blew me away.

I grew up doing math as our first subject of the day, but decided for my own children, we would do reading/writing first. But on Wednesday since Liam was just not cooperating, I asked him what he wanted to do first and he chose math. Shockingly, he completed his pages and then asked to do more. Once math was done, he was cheerful about what was coming next. Thursday, I tried the same routine and again, it was a smooth day. Soooo…. Mom? You were right.

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Friday we ended the week on a high. I think I’ve finally figured out our daily routine and feel like next week we can hit the ground running. I planned a month of schooling out in advance, leaving the details to be determined on a week-to-week basis. Liam will finish the first math workbook I got him Monday and we’ll start the next Tuesday! He needs to refresh his handwriting as over the summer, he’s forgotten how to make lesser used letters and numbers. Sylvi needs to work on her pencil grip.

The upcoming week I’m hoping to keep pretty quiet. In addition to all the newness of school, we had errands that cropped up and derailed our attention or nights where the three of us hardly slept, so I’m really praying that it doesn’t happen again. But you know, just because you plan it, it doesn’t mean it will happen!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training week 4

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!

 

Last week was tough. I had so much pain in my legs that by Thursday I could hardly walk. I rolled, I stretched, I took extra Cal + Mag. Nothing helped. I reached out to a few of my runner friends asking for advice and they all recommended rest. Uhhhhhh…. how is one supposed to add distances if you are resting? I liked the advice that substituted running on pavement for running on the elliptical jogger at the Y though!

Friday, I went to our Chiropractor and came prepared the the areas I thought could possibly need adjusting. I’ve been struggling with my foot strike since, most likely, always and now that I’ve realized what I’m doing wrong and how to correct it, I also wanted to make sure my bones were in line. They weren’t. In addition to my spine and atlas, I also had my FEET, knees, wrist and elbow adjusted. When I walked into the office Friday, I was thinking about all the ice and ibuprofen I was going to need on my rest day. When I walked out, I was contemplating a run {which I did not do per doctor’s orders for rest}! I still cannot get over how instantaneous the relief in my legs was once he adjusted my feet. And Sunday’s run, went well. It was tough, because HELLO! I added another mile, but I let myself stop and walk in circles at mile 4 before pushing on. It’s amazing how confident I feel when I’m not in agony :)

This week:

Monday – Stretch and strengthen {yoga and weights… I attended Nina’s M&MF class on Wednesday, discovered Plyo pushups and realized I cannot do them. That will change.}

Tuesday – 3.5 mile run {easy pace}

Wednesday – 45 minutes on Elliptical jogger

Thursday – 3.5 mile run {easy pace}

Friday – REST {and attend a planning session for the 2014-2015 MOPS year, so main goal for today is to behave with my food choices.}

Saturday – 40 minute swim {we are not enrolling the kiddos in swim lessons for this session since soccer is about to start, so I will have to make my own time to get up early on Saturdays and work out. But hey, that means I don’t have to worry about finishing before the kids’ lesson is over!}

Sunday – 5 mile run {I’m running in the early morning with a friend. I always do better when I’m with someone, but matching schedules has been a issue for all of us, so we are trying the 530/6 am time slot.}

Essential oils for supper

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A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a creamy chicken and asparagus pasta dish for a family who had just had a baby. Comforting food, but with the asparagus to make me feel like I was serving them something healthy. :) Too honest? Sure, but still super tasty.

The challenge came when I realized I had no lemons. Lemons, chicken and asparagus are just designed to be together! Then, I remembered this recipe from That Mama Gretchen and wondered if it would work in a cream sauce. Spoiler alert: it totally does!

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Lemon Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

  • 4 chicken breasts, grilled
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, diced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 20 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound pasta {I used gluten free}, cooked

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and saute the shallots and asparagus. The asparagus will turn bright green and become fork tender as you cook them. Pour in the chicken broth and reduce by half, stirring gently. Add the milk and lemon oil. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir well. The lemon scent is pretty strong, but the taste is subtle and light.

Slice up the chicken and mix it in the with sauce. Pour over the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with more grated cheese if you like.

Rearranging the china cabinet

9 years ago, Matt and I were house hunting. We were engaged and the wedding was being planned, but finding a place to call our own proved to be a challenge. The home we finally decided on has turned out to be a bit of a lemon, but it is our first house. It is filled with charm and quirkiness that I just fell in love with, turning a blind eye to the practicality of the home once children would be introduced.

When we registered for our wedding, my mother was in a coma. And when she woke up, she couldn’t speak or communicate very clearly, so it was Martha Stewart’s list that helped me figure out what I needed. As it turns out, I didn’t need quite a bit of those items and although they were once proudly displayed in our china cabinets {first home had precious corner built ins that I adored}, they are now safely packed away.

After living in that home for almost four years, we decided to turn it into a rental property and moved into my grandmother’s home, which I had inherited. When we moved here, Liam was 15 months old and I was pregnant with Sylvia. Along with the house, I also inherited furniture and a lot of necessary repairs. And when you move while in the midst of your second HG diagnosis, you deal with what you can and call it a success. So the dining room furniture that I often ate holiday meals at now housed my china and serving dishes, and on a weekly basis served as my station for folding laundry… the latter not being my grandmother’s intent for the furniture’s use in future generations.

In a few short days, though, that dining room will serve as our homeschool room. With the giant picture window and storage for books, it was an easy decision. The only china that remains is in the actual china cabinet portion of the dining room set. The buffet has been cleared out to make room for books and paper and little wooden letters.

As I look around the house, I can’t help but notice that while the location or use of items has changed, the core of our home is simply who lives here. I have watched my home change in the last nine years and I gotta say… I really like where it’s going. I really, really do.

Are there really kindred spirits?

By the time I graduated from high school, I think I had read Anne of Green Gables no less than 100 times. I adored everything about Anne and Diana’s relationship, so I was certain it would happen for me.

At that time I really thought that I would have that one friend from high school that I walked arm-in-arm down the lane each visit home. But that’s not how it worked for me. Instead I made friends in Biology labs and study groups. One of those friends is still, 15 years after our first meeting, very dear to my heart. I started college as a double major in music and biology and because of that was introduced to two girls who later served as bridesmaids in my wedding and were among the first people I told I was pregnant.

For me, the scariest thing about making friends was that once school was over, there weren’t mixers or dorm rooms or study groups to help me. I spent 3 semesters in grad school following my return home and I cannot tell you a single name of the people in my classes. I commuted and worked full time… There weren’t enough hours in the day. When I started my first professional employment, on September 29th, 2003, I was in the same orientation group as a girl who became my “Diana” for years. And on the day she moved an hour away, I stood in my home and sobbed deep, suffocating sobs because my friend was gone.

I was crushed when she moved, because now I had a major void in my life. We saw each other on a near daily basis and who would even want to spend that much time with me?!

This is the point in my writing where I tell you that for me, there isn’t so much a kindred spirit as a complimentary spirit. This friend I’m telling you about was my Diana because she served as the calm voice of reason to my fly-off-the-handle emotional responses. Because if I am anything, it is emotional. I cry. A lot. So although we are not two peas in a pod, we fit together like two puzzle pieces. Different, but perfect.

Since this time, I have made two close friends. What?! I know. I have two of them. And I even talk to them on a very regular basis. And when I’m with them, I’m honest and open. Now I am. When we met and even up until about 3 years ago, I was still pretty guarded with my reality, but now I am brave. I am brave because they are the puzzle pieces that complete my life. This week marks 10 years since the day I met one of those friends. The other friend… well, she came into my life in 2008, but it wasn’t until July 19th 2009 that I realized if this woman was willing to stick out finding a solution to my nursing woes, she was a real friend.

I am the sort of person content to only have a friend or two. In fact, I feel guilty when I call someone my friend and we aren’t much more than acquaintances! Regardless of how I feel about the actual friend label my goal, as I encourage my children to be brave, is to also encourage those relationships. I want them to learn how to be a good friend so that when those kindred and complementary spirits come along, they can fully embrace the experience. And who knows? Perhaps these relationships my children are building will be ones that stand the test of time and life.

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training week 3

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!

 

Alright. Two weeks down, 10 to go. This week, the pool at our Y is closed for standard repairs, so I don’t get to swim :( Phooey. I’m a little concerned about building the mileage, so I’m considering making Wednesday more of a running day, with less time spent cross training. Last night’s run was awful. It was hot and sticky and made me realize that either I need to start getting my butt out of bed earlier in the day, or I’ll have to suffer. On the plus side, there are several homes with sprinklers in my area I can run through like… well, a child.

Monday – Yoga and strength.

Tuesday – Run 3.5 miles… first of the mileage bumps during the week. I’m intimidated

Wednesday – Cross train… I’m planning to spend Wednesday at a fitness class taught by a friend I haven’t been able to work out with in a while. Yay!

Thursday – Run 3.5 miles and strength.

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 40 minute cross train {cycling}

Sunday – Run 5 miles

Another goal for the week is to pay closer attention to how well I am hydrating. I bought myself a GPS watch and tested it out last night. It’s not a fancy one, but I do like it and it’s not as difficult to set up as the reviews would leave you to believe.

So that’s my week… what are you up to? That Mama Gretchen is training for a 5k and Abbie is still swimming away!  You go girls!

Bravely

I cannot believe it’s already August. Yesterday marked the two week countdown for the first day of school. Today, my final shipment of homeschool supplies will arrive… UPS guy, I’m totally stalking the front door for you.

All summer we have gone on adventures, played outside, tried new foods, stayed up WAY too late and just generally had a lovely time. But since Liam starting Kindergarten, he’s elligible to spend these last two weeks of the summer attending Safety Town. Safety Town is a two week course for kiddos ages 4-6 {I only share this because I discovered that not every one has Safety Town in their state!}. They arrive every morning for a few hours of themed information on things like indoor safety {Don’t touch the chemicals or stove!}, meeting police officers, learning addresses and phone numbers… just general things that make our little people more aware of the world around us and empowered to protect themselves.

I remember Safety Town for myself and my brothers. My favorite part was always the to-scale town that was set out on the playground for us to ride trikes around. I loved those little buildings and imagined myself a very grown-up 5 year old that summer. Yesterday as we drove to the first session, I told Liam how much fun it was and how I still remember things I learned at Safety Town.

But upon check in, I realized that there are far more children in attendance that I’d thought there would be. On top of that, Liam isn’t in a class with anyone he knows. Yesterday was less than stellar for him. And me. I know exactly how he feels walking into a room where he knows no one. And I completely understand when we go to group events and he will not leave my side until he sees a person he knows, only to cling to that person for the entire event. I imagine that his stomach ties up in knots like mine does and my heart hurts for him.

So for the next two weeks, we are working on bravery. I ordered most of the books from this post by Carrots are Orange and they are already on their way to the library for me to pick up. I’m 33 years old and still have so much anxiety over social events, even to the point that I will “forget” to put them on my calendar… this is not what I want for my children. They may grow up to be shyer by nature and that is A-ok. Both of them already seem to be introverted like Matt and I {A characteristic I couldn’t be more grateful for! I don’t know what I would ever do if they thrived on social events!}. All this is wonderful and I think makes it even easier for me to understand why my children don’t run into a new social setting like many of their peers. It’s ok to be shy. It’s ok to not thrive on others’ energy. But it’s not ok to be miserable. I was always told to just “get over” my nervousness. But I never learned how. I learned how to cover it up, but I didn’t learn how to move past it.

Today’s goal for Liam was to learn the name of one child in his group. Tomorrow when I take him in, I’m going to check the name tag of the kiddo next to him… I’m told it’s Christopher. We are going to be meeting a lot of new friends this year with church and co-op and MOPS. By “we” I do actually mean Liam and I. We are both going to learn to be brave, but we won’t be alone… we are going to do it together, one new name at a time!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Training Week 2

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!

 

11weeks out from race day and I am following the Hal Higdon plan for novices. 3-4 days of running, 2-3 days of cross training and 1 rest day. Week 1 was a success… even with being out of town all day on Thursday, so I’m pretty confident in how the days are laid out!

This week:
Monday – “stretch and strengthen” I only plan to spend time on weights and abs today since I will be walking a LOT with my mother-in-law in the afternoon.
Tuesday – run 3 miles {still working hard to get closer to 12 minute miles}
Wednesday – Cross Train. I’m planning to get a good bike ride in… you know, variety. :)
Thursday – Run 3 miles + strength {either weight routines or a 30 minute kettlebell session}
Friday – 30 minute swim

Saturday – REST!!!! {Or go to Lake Erie with family, either way, no running}

Sunday – 4 mile run

I ran 4 miles on Sunday. I’ve NEVER, ever done that. Ever. This is our month where Sundays are short service days for us, so as soon as we got home, I ate another breakfast {don’t judge, I’m hungry most of the time} and then headed to the Y. I wasn’t sure about the weather and after losing my key on the bike trail two weeks ago, I’m paranoid about going back. So I hopped on the treadmill with the plan to make it at least 2 miles and then run the remainder on the track. However, I quickly realized that my motivation was flagging and if I got off the treadmill too early, I probably wouldn’t finish. The good news is that I spent the entire church service stretching out my left calf {the elderly lady next to me gave me the stink eye several times, but I swear, my feet were clean and I was not being disruptive… I just kicked my sandals off for effectiveness}. And I really think because of a 45 minute stretch that’s why my leg didn’t hurt nearly as much as I’ve grown to dread.

Anyway, at almost 3 miles, I realized that if I didn’t get off the treadmill ASAP, I would regret it. I totally forgot to potty before I came to the gym and it is a lesson I will not soon forget! Finished my last mile… I’d like to say strong, but to be honest, I was just barely making it… and then walked for about a quarter of a mile to cool down. Even with the potty stop and the transition to the track, I did fairly well with my time and I was super proud of the accomplishment.

This week, I have to make adjustments to my routine and will again next week as the pool is closed for repairs… perhaps that will be a great day for a family hike instead!