Health and Fitness Update


You may be wondering what is going on in the health and fitness department around here, as I haven’t posted about my progress or lack thereof for a few weeks now.  The last time I posted, I was still juicing a few times a day, working out every day, and making a goal to get to bed at a decent time.

Right.  So, here’s the thing.  I am still juicing twice a day.  I have a green juice every morning and a carrot/tomato/celery juice in the afternoon.  I have, for the most part, been eating healthy lunches and dinners full of veggies and protein.  However, a cup of coffee or two has been sneaking its way back into my diet.  I drink it black, making it pretty much calorie free, but I was amazed at how quickly my body slipped back into “needing” coffee.  My head tells me that the juices and healthy diet should be enough for energy, but past, well-ingrained habits say otherwise.  I had my last cup of coffee this morning and put the Keurig machine away.  I have also found the “need” for desserts arising more frequently, especially at night time.  It started a few weekends ago, when my husband and I decided to go on an impromptu overnight trip to the coast for our ninth anniversary.  As we drove out to Cannon Beach that Friday afternoon, we decided that we weren’t going to stick to eating healthy while on our little trip.  I figured a few sweets and happy drinks wouldn’t hurt anything.  After dinner at a fabulous seafood restaurant there, we strolled the boardwalk and ended up inside the candy store.  Every time I’ve been to the coast, I always get myself a few pieces of sea foam candy as a treat.  If you’re not familiar, sea foam is made by boiling water, vinegar, sugar, and corn syrup together and then adding baking soda to make it light and airy.  Of course, it is also dipped in a chocolate coating.  Anyway, we purchased the sea foam and some cheesecake pops and quite a bit of salt water taffy in an alarming array of neon colors.  Back at the resort, Chris brought out some ingredients he had packed to make some celebratory drinks, and between those sugary beverages and the candy, we thought we had it made.  Not so much – the candy tasted gross (hello, artificial everything – hadn’t tasted you in a long time!) and the drinks made me sick.  The next day, we raided the local grocery store to buy some green juice to help us feel better on the road.

You would think that would have cured me of sweets for a while.  But the taste of sugar fueled my desire for more.  Over the next two weeks, I found myself making lots of excuses to have a sweet treat here or there.  They were all-natural, homemade desserts, but the point is that they were not in moderation.  At all.  And today I find myself desiring something sweet again and telling myself the handful of raspberries and almonds for a snack is enough.  I know it will be difficult to train myself away from those sugar cravings again.

As for exercise, I have been doing pretty well in regards to actually doing it.  I turn on the Wii almost every day and sweat my way through increasingly harder workouts.  I also have been making more of an effort to “exercise” with the kids – running around the yard, dancing in the living room, etc.  Still, when I honestly looked at what I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks, I realized that I am not good at pushing myself.  I do just enough to get through the workout and check off my exercise box for the day, but I don’t try to see if I can get through two workouts or if I can push myself deeper with every squat and lunge.  I don’t run a few laps and then push myself to run more when my body says no.  I do what feels comfortable and not much beyond that.  I think that I am not as motivated any more.  I have about ten more pounds or so to lose, and these are always the pounds that have refused to move in the past.  I feel “okay” with where I am, and therefore I don’t feel the need to push myself harder. It’s time to up the pressure on myself.  I’m going to find a goal to push towards – running a 5K, perhaps – and then write out a list of steps that it will take for me to get to that goal.

The sleep factor is still the most difficult thing for me right now.  I cannot seem to get myself into bed before midnight, and I usually lay there for at least a half hour more with my mind racing with all the things I need to do the next day.  Little Hosanna is usually the first to awaken, many times at 6:30 am.  That doesn’t make for much sleep for mama.  This leads to crankiness and a much more overwhelming desire to reach for that coffee, not to mention a tiredness during workouts.  I need my husband’s help with this.  He is a complete night owl, and I think that if he made the effort to get to bed earlier also, it would help me.  Any suggestions on how I can bribe him to do so? (no sugary rewards! haha)  Seriously, though, I have to have a plan (and a lot of self-discipline, too!) for consistent earlier bedtime and a wind-down time before bed.  What do you do to relax before sleeping?

I have not weighed myself in a few weeks, but clothes are still a little loose.  Last week, we were invited to a pool party for one of the children’s friends, and I was delighted to find that I needed to buy a new (smaller!) swimsuit.  The progress continues, then, and I find I am learning so much about myself along the way.  Here’s to another week of health and happiness!



Summer and Schedules

schedule_clipart 450x300


“Mom, please can I play my video games now?”  my younger son whined.  It was 8:00.  In the morning!   Apparently, summer had hit us fast and hit us hard, and I was not prepared.  Without the structure of a typical homeschooling day, the kids were fighting and complaining and driving me crazy.  And that particular day, I’ll admit, I caved.  The part of me that wanted to get a lot of work done around the house without being bothered by the kids said, “Sure!  You can play your video games.  Just turn the sound down, please.”  And he (and the other kids) proceeded to play their games for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT.  Their rooms weren’t clean, and their chores weren’t done.  They hadn’t touched a book in days, and their creative spirits had jumped out the window a while ago.  I’m not proud of that, folks, but it happened.  Imagine then whose children were ungrateful little demons for the rest of the day?  To make matters worse, they were being all sorts of terrible when it came time for bed. With the sun still shining brightly outside (thanks a lot, long summer days!), they jumped out of bed and on their beds and teased each other and got entirely too many “visits” from Mom or Dad to help them get back in bed.  A change was definitely needed.

I missed the homeschool routine.  However, I am not by nature a very organized person.  I was always the teacher with the messiest desk (hangs head in shame).  I love to do things but don’t always have a good plan about how to do them.  Still, it was abundantly clear that we needed a summer schedule to make it through these days.  I talked to my husband about the bedtime issue.  We both were very tired of dealing with kids-who-just-won’t-go-to-sleep-no-matter-what.  He suggested that we wake them up earlier in the morning so that they would be more tired at bedtime.  Six am was the decided-upon time. (because we are both such morning people, ha!) Then I sat down to write out some sort of schedule for the first day on this new plan of super organization.  I doodled all over the page and made a ridiculously detailed, down-to-the-minute schedule.  It said things like, “Get the kids started on cleaning their rooms while I take a shower after working out – 7:30 to 8:00 am.”  I wrote in some school practice time (sorry, kids!) and some outside exercise time, as well as lots of fun things like chores and library trips.  I glanced at the clock and realized that it was already 10:30 pm.  If I were going to be getting up at the ungodly hour of six am, I had better be getting myself to bed.

Well, I lay there for a good hour and a half, trying to will my body to go to sleep.  The night owl in me fought against this obnoxiously early bedtime.  When that alarm clanged out at precisely 6:00 am, I was in no mood to better my life with organization.  I hauled myself out of bed and prepared to awaken the kids.  The girls, it seemed, had already gotten the memo and were bouncing around the living room, waiting for breakfast.  The boys were a different story.  David grudgingly got out of bed, but Mikey was determined to stay asleep in his bed.  I finally coaxed him  into the living room, where he grumpily climbed onto the recliner and went right back to sleep.  “Well, day one,” I thought.  “You’re certainly starting off with a bang.”   Breakfast took longer than I planned.  Hello, mom of four?  Did you not remember how long it can take to get the hordes gathered at the table, agree on a breakfast choice, make the breakfast, serve it up, and eat it?  Because surely then you would have scheduled more than a half-hour for such an effort.  Hosanna kept interrupting my workout, stepping squarely in front of me and crying as she clung to my leg.  Okay, so the shower wasn’t going to happen until 8:30 am, but I could still recover the rest of my day, right?

Wrong.  The kids took the “clean your rooms” command and internalized it as a “let’s take all day to move stuff around our rooms” idea.  Frustrated, I tried to sneak in some laundry and dishes time while they all whined about how hard I work my “slave labor”.  Sigh.  But school practice was going to happen.  I managed to get through the devotional time and a couple of math worksheets before the complaining started again.  Handwriting practice, naturally.  The clock said noon, but I had planned lunch at 11:30 am.  How could we be falling so far behind?  The day dragged on.  I doggedly continued to abide by my written-out schedule and tried in vain to make it work.  I felt tired after dinner, as if the whole day had been in vain.  Then came bedtime.  Blessed, blessed bedtime.  Baths, teeth brushing, hair brushing, stories, and prayers – and then sleep.  Every child was asleep within minutes of going to bed.  Hallelujah!

So we hit some snafus in my “perfect” schedule.  And maybe the kids were a little slow to warm up to the idea of having a super organized day.  And perhaps I am reading a book or two about organization right now before I go to bed.  But, with that small victory, I just might be encouraged to get up again tomorrow.

At 6 am.  Girl, get to bed already!

The Ten Commandments of Motherhood: Part One

DSC_0137(this lovely shot taken on Mother’s Day 2012.  My hair was super dark and the kids were super uncooperative!)

Long long ago, when I was desperately navigating the world of junior high and trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into life, I realized that, someday, I was probably going to be a mother.  It seemed an altogether terrifying and almost exciting realization, and I started subconsciously noting and observing what the mothers around me did and said.  By the time I had gone through college, the single life for a while, and then marriage, I had a set list of ideas in my head about how this whole motherhood thing was going to pan out.  The Ten Commandments of Motherhood, if you will.  Then sweet little I’m-going-to-turn-your-life-upside-down Gabrielle was born, and I promptly forgot all about that list.  I was just trying to survive and get through each day without doing any permanent damage to my new offspring.  Kids #2 and #3 came in fast succession, making my life a whirlwind of feeding, changing diapers, attempting potty training, buckling and unbuckling car seats, sleep training, not sleeping, and hanging on for dear life.  When Michael (kid #3) turned two, life took a turn in a different direction.  David (kid #2) had just been diagnosed with autism, and I spent hours and hours researching what I could do to help him.  As I shuttled him from physical therapy to speech therapy, I discovered that all my ideals of motherhood were not so cut and dry as I had thought.  I became very self-conscious of how other people viewed my parenting skills.  I worried all the time if I was doing the right thing for each of my kids.  Michael decided that then would be a great time to initiate the “terrible twos.” (and threes, for that matter)  I felt constantly that people were judging me as a mother every time Michael threw a big fit in the middle of a public place.  I cried myself to sleep some nights when I realized that every interaction I had had with my children that day seemed to be negative, not positive.

It was time to confront that list – the Ten Commandments of Motherhood.  I had never actually written them down – it was more of a group of ideals floating around in my head – but now I knew I must write them down and face them for what they really were.  Some were outright lies.  Some were truths shrouded in impossible expectations.  All of them were holding me back from being the mom God intended.  As long as I was focused on that list, I couldn’t be focused on the One who could help me the most.  I opened my journal and began writing, hesitantly at first.  Then the words came pouring out.  It was such a release, and just writing them brought balm to my spirit.  I faced each commandment, one by one.  I challenged it, asking God to show me the error and the truth.  I studied His Word fervently.  And slowly, one by one, these obstacles melted away.  That’s not to say that they still don’t show up from time to time, taunting me in my weak areas and shaking my confidence in motherhood.  But, mostly, I was able to let them go.  When God blessed us a year later with our baby girl Hosanna Joy, I felt so much more relaxed and confident as a mother.

My Ten Commandments of Motherhood started off with this doozy:  “I will always know what to do when a parenting challenge comes up.”  I truly believed that one, though.  I think I actually did not believe that many parenting challenges would come up.  When Gabi was born, she introduced a whole slew of problems for which I was not prepared.   Breastfeeding was hard; she never seemed to sleep.  At eighteen months old, she threw her first big, foot-stomping, screaming fit right in front of my parents, and not only was I completely mortified, I had no idea what to do.  I guess I just thought that when I became a mother, I would automatically know what to do all the time.

God says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)  I had to learn that it was okay to ask for help – that I didn’t know all the answers myself.  I had to learn that every parent faces these issues – that I am not alone.  Most importantly, I had to learn that sometimes, there just isn’t an answer.  Sometimes I just have to do the best I can and trust God to take care of the rest.  And that’s hard.  It makes me feel out of control.  It shakes my confidence as a mother.  It can drive me to worry if I forgot about God’s care and providence.

But today?  Today I face my day, knowing that things will happen that I will not know innately how to handle.  I’m okay with that, because the One holding my hand not only knows what is going to happen but also provides the wisdom and strength to face it.

Are you on this journey of motherhood too?  I hope that sharing my struggles will be a help to you.  I’ll tackle some more of the ten commandments of motherhood in future posts.

Organizing Produce

With all the juicing and the attempting to eat a fruit-and-veggie-filled diet around here, the produce content of the refrigerator has increased dramatically.  Most days, there is a variety of kale, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, peas, strawberries, red beets, and more stuffed somewhere in the depths of the fridge.  Of course, they are competing with the milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, water pitcher, and leftovers for space.

Today I took Hosanna to check out the farmers’ market in our area for the first time since we moved here.  We loaded up the stroller with beautiful strawberries, enticing bundles of asparagus, a bag full of greens, and some sugar snap peas.  When I brought them home, however, I realized that I had no place left to shove them in the refrigerator.  And truth be told, I was getting a little tired of shoving anyway.  Not only did it make it hard to find what vegetable I wanted, it also was causing produce to spoil more quickly or lay forgotten in the back corner.  I needed (desperately!) to organize my refrigerator.  (Okay, I probably needed to clean it too.  And face the scary containers of leftovers hanging out in the back…)

What’s the first rule of organizing anything?  Everything has to have a place, right?  I had seen some made-for-your-fridge bins that were supposed to help corral all the inhabitants of the refrigerator.  I loved the idea but not the price.  At $12 each, it would cost way more to organize it than it would to fill it with healthy goodies!  I headed to the dollar store to see what containers they might have to fill my need.  I found that all of their clear bins were a little too small for my plans, but then I discovered these rectangular plastic baskets. (You can see them in the photo below.)  And so the organizing began.

week one June

Here’s a little break-down of how I accomplished that “after” picture.

1.  First, I took everything out of the refrigerator.  Everything!  I lined up all the “keep” stuff on the kitchen counter, threw out the moldy stuff, and tossed a bunch of weeks-old leftover containers into the sink to be cleaned out.

2.  Next, I scrubbed down the inside of the fridge and washed out all the drawers.  Dish soap worked perfectly fine for this task.

3.  Then, I arranged and rearranged the plastic baskets on the shelves until I had something that worked.  I put the eggs, cheeses, milks, yogurts, and peanut butter back in first in the spaces around the baskets.

4.  Then, I set to filling the baskets.  I had purchased one smaller bin that had a convenient handle for easy access.  This one became home to my berries as well as a small ziploc bag of ginger root.


5. I transferred all the rest of the produce to gallon-size ziploc bags.  Most produce should be sealed up, unwashed, to help it last longer.

6.  The baskets on the top shelf became home to spinach, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers.


7.  I put kale in the basket on the middle shelf next to the berry bin.

8.  The bottom shelf had two baskets, one of which held carrots, parsley, and cilantro, and the other held tomatoes, celery, and asparagus.


9.  Finally, I filled the crisper drawers at the very bottom.  I set the vegetable drawer to high humidity and put our lesser used veggies in there – avocados, red beets, cabbage, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas.  The fruit drawer (set to low humidity) held some lemons, kiwi fruits, and a mango.


Of course, the contents of each basket will change from time to time, depending on the season.  I do store some produce on the shelves in my dining room.  Right now, there are apples, bananas, a pineapple, pears, potatoes, garlic, and shallots on those shelves.  They don’t need to be refrigerated.  Bonus – the kids tend to grab them more often for snacks since they are so accessible.

And tonight, when I opened the fridge to gather some veggies to make a juice, I may have closed and opened the fridge door a few more times just to stare at its organized, happiness-inducing goodness.  (and snacked on a few sugar snap peas – who can resist those??)