Pieces of Me

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning things the hard way

Hannah has been taking piano for a little over a year.  She has excelled fairly quickly and although it hasn’t been easy to get her to practice, she has never struggled to learn a new song.  Until this week.  I don’t know if it’s because we took a week break from piano, if it’s because school started yesterday and she’s exhausted, or if she just can’t figure it out, but today’s piano practice has been horrifying.  So horrifying that I sent her to her room for screaming at me.  So horrifying that tears are being shed (by her) because she “CAN’T DO IT.” 

I’m still learning not to let her quit.  I don’t know if I can handle tears every day because I’m MAKING her practice.  Shouldn’t she enjoy it?  Shouldn’t she want to practice?  I want her to enjoy an extra curricular activity.  I want her to like playing the piano.  I don’t want her to play the piano because I make her. 

When does a mom know when to stop the madness?  I mentioned to her that if it was going to be this hard every day to get her to practice, we weren’t going to take lessons anymore.  That suggestion alone sent her over the edge.  Then I just told her I needed a break from her crying and left her alone.  What did she do?  She sat down, stopped crying, and played her songs. 

I guess I’m just going to have to give her time and trust her.  I can’t make  her like something, but I can’t take something away from her that she loves.  And she obviously loves taking piano lessons.  She’s just hit a point in her learning where she’s being challenged.  And she needs to be challenged. 

And I need to be patient.   Some things you have to learn the hard way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

That's MISTER Evil Doctor Pork Chop to you!

No, actually, it’s just Buzz Lightyear – at the Lego Store.
My son has become a bit obsessed.  Grandpa stated the other day, “I haven’t seen any boy so into Buzz Lightyear in several years, I’d say 7.”  That is when our nephew, Tyler, was 4 years old.  And every bit crazy about Buzz as Cayden. 
It’s fun to see Cayden’s eyes light up the moment we start talking about Toy Story.  He talks to fast that one cannot understand him at all.  It’s just a blur of words.  When he plays, it’s Toy Story – whether he’s turning his toy dinosaur into Rex (because we don’t have the real Rex) or he’s brought out Hannah’s old Mr. Potato Head to set up and play with.  And I admit it, we have bought nearly all of the $5 toys (one at a time, about 2-3 weeks apart from one another).  But he, all on his own, pulled out the dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head.  Mammaw bought him the “bigger” Buzz as well as a bucket of soldiers. 
Those were perfect for a while.  Until Aunt Bekah mentioned she had a Blue Buzz (Special Addition) at home that, wait for it. . . . TALKED!!  And had a laser (it’s really just a tiny light bulb, mommy).  Oh how we waited for nearly 2 weeks before we got to hold Blue Buzz!  And then, I don’t think a minute in an entire day went by without playing with him – even sleeping with him.  Life for this little boy was amazing!!
Until. . . . we made a trip to the Lego Store at the mall.  There’s a giant Woody in the window.  And the day we went, they were having a Lego event where children were actually able to contribute to building the giant Buzz Lightyear.  Which was awesome!  And exciting, not just for my little boy, but also Hannah and my two older nephews.  They were in “Lego Heaven” as my sister-in-law calls it. 
And later this week, we went and saw the finished Buzz.  Cayden just kept screaming, “BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!  BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!”  Even in the photo.  There are a couple of Legos sets that he’s just a tad bit interested in.  And I think it’s incredibly cool that they make the playsets in the DUPLO style.  Just big enough for my boy. 
But for now, he has to dream a bit longer.  That boy has too many toys as it is!
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fix It – What a Cutie!

I have discovered a photography web site that I think will continue to help me develop my photography skills,  iheartfaces  Every week they provide a photo to “fix” for their followers.  I’ve decided to join in on the fun and gave it a shot.  This photo was very hard for me to edit.  I tried a number of things before I decided on an action, an additional layer, and less opacity.


Here’s what I did.  I used PSCS 3 – Coffeeshop’s Moody Pop  and Perfect Portrait Actions.  Then I added MCP Take Action on Cancer Awareness Action for the B&W.  Love how it’s soft but not vintage!

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If this were my son, I’d be very pleased with the photo (either way)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And she’s 7

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7 is so close to 10.  It’s so far away from 5.  It’s really far away from a baby.  But she’s still my baby girl.  And she’s 7 years old.  I’m still trying to figure out how and when that all happened.  7 years old.  Starts 2nd grade in 1 1/2 weeks.  Loves to swim, dance, and play the piano. 

I still can’t believe that she used to be this tiny:


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super Fun Dinners

My kids are not picky eaters.  I’m very blessed to have children who will usually eat what is put in front of them.  And they always eat better for other people.  Ask Dorothy to share that story with you :)

This week I decided to pull out new cookbook.  A friend gave me Cooking for Kids WINNING RECIPES as a thank you for hosting her baby shower.  I admit it, when I got home, it just went on the shelf with all the cookbooks.  Then for some reason, I pulled the cookbook down to go through it.  LOTS of fun ideas for not just dinner, but every meal under the sun – breakfast, snacks, lunch, desserts, and dinner.  I decided to sit down and plan a week of meals from the cookbook and see what happened. 

Although I had complete control over the menu, I let the kids decide which day we ate what.  I cooked more this week than I think I have in a while (actually I cooked more new things.  We usually eat the same things every week – pretty boring around here).

Here is what we came up with:

Cayden’s Choice – Sloppy Joe Race Cars

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 tbs. olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 2 pounds ground turkey or ground beef
    • 1 jar (1 lb 10 oz) RAGU ROBUSTO Pasta Sauce (for this, I substituted Salt Lick BBQ Sauce since Cayden can’t have tomato)
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 tbs sweet pickle relish (omitted, forgot to buy)
    • 8 hero rolls (we used whole wheat)
    • Race Car Garnishes – mini pretzel twists for steering wheel, zucchini or cucumber for wheels attached to thin pretzel sticks, radish for the driver – (FYI, I didn’t do this.  I just put cheese on toothpicks and called them wheels)
  • Directions
    • In 12-in nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over med-high heat and cook onion, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until tender.  Add ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until done.
    • Stir in Pasta Sauce, brown sugar, and relish.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes
    • Meanwhile, cut out a 5x2 in “trench”  in top of rolls, removing some bread.  To serve, evenly fill rolls with turkey mixture.

Makes 8 servings <---Great for Leftovers!

Mom’s Choice – Octo-dogs and Shells

  • Ingredients
    • 4 hot dogs
    • 1 1/2 cups small shell pasta
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
    • 1 cup prepared Alfredo sauce
    • Yellow mustard in squeeze bottle
    • Goldfish crackers
  • Directions
    • Lay 1 hot dog on cutting surface. Starting one inch from one end of hot dog, slice hot dog vertically in half. Roll hot dog 1/4 turn. Starting 1 inch from same end, slice in half vertically again, making 4 segments connected at top. Slice each segment in half vertically, creating a total of 8 "legs." Repeat with remaining hot dogs.
    • Place hot dogs in medium saucepan; cover w/ water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; set aside.
    • Prepare pasta according to package directions, stirring in vegetables during last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain; return to pan. Stir in Alfredo sauce. Heat over low heat until heated through. Divide past mixture between 4 plates.
    • Drain octo-dogs. Arrange one octo-dog on top of pasta mixture on each plate. Draw faces on the "heads" of octo-dogs with mustard. Sprinkle crackers over pasta.

Serves 4

Dad’s Choice – Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • Ingredients
    • 1 pound ground meat
    • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
    • 1 egg
    • 2 ounce mozzarella cheese, cut into 12 (1/2 in) cubes
    • 1 jar RAGU Old World Style Pasta Sauce
    • 8 ounce spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • Directions
    • In medium bowl, combine ground meat, bread crumbs and egg; shape into 12 meatballs.  Press 1 cheese cube into each meatball, enclosing completely.
    • In 3-quart saucepan, bring Pasta Sauce to a boil over med-high heat.  Gently stir in uncooked meatballs (I set 3 aside and pan cooked them plain for Cayden)
    • Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until meatballs are done.  Serve over hot spaghetti.

Makes 4 servings

Hannah’s Choice – Stuffed Corn Bread

  • Ingredients
    • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 2 tbs sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) diced Cheddar cheese, divided
    • 2 thin slices deli ham diced (I used 2 hot dogs)
    • 1/4 cup tomato or pasta sauce (optional)
  • Directions
    • Preheat over to 350*.  Spray 3 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray
    • Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk milk, oil, and egg in a small bowl.  Pour milk mixture over flour mixture; still until moistened.
    • Spoon 1/2 of batter evenly into prepared pans.  Layer 1/2 of cheese, ham and tomato sauce over batter; top with remaining batter and cheese.
    • Bake about 30 minutes or until edges are browned and toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes.  Remove from pans; slice and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings


Verdict?  Kids have LOVED it all.  Not too thrilled about hot dogs that look like octopus but still ate dinner :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


While I was in High School, one of my favorite songs was Friends by Michael W. Smith.  I could listen to this song every day.  It brought lots of smiles and happy tears growing up as I spent my summers with friends from OAFC.  Some of these people are still my closest friends.  Some of  them I’ve reconnected with and continue to keep in touch, and some of these people are just a memory, but a happy one at that.

College friends are very similar.  I made some amazing friends in college and am very blessed to this day to still have a relationship with them.  What’s even more amazing is that years went by from college graduation to reconnecting and when the reconnection was made, it was like there was no separation.

And now, I’ve come to realize this as an adult.  I have my girlfriends, some whom I have been friends with since high school (like my BFF, Crystal).  I have my mommy friends whom I met when I was a part of MOPS and am still good friends with and enjoy watching our children develop close friendships (thank you Jennifer L!).  Some are my help keep me sane friends (thank you Dorothy).  And some are my new friends (love you Jen C and Christee), but all in all, they are an important part of my life.

But I learned something this weekend as I watch Stephen struggle to work on our backyard fence.  No one is perfect.  Forgiveness is a part of life.  And it’s okay to take yourself back to a place where you know you will always be loved and accepted, no matter how long you’ve been away.  And this is what the friendship and relationships I have made at The Well are like.  It has been nearly a year since I’ve seen any of these people in person.  I’ve kept up with some on Face Book, but for the most part, after my PapPap passed away, I pulled away from anyone who loved me – especially people who loved me unconditionally.  And although I regret this, I cannot dwell on it, and I am so thankful that with open arms, I was received back into the lives of these people, no questions asked.  And I love them all very much because like the words of the song:

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

Working Out

So I have a new commitment.  With myself.  For myself.  About a month ago, I started running again – to train, to condition, and just to be.  My ultimate goal for myself is to lose 60 lbs.  Right now, I’d be happy if I could just lose 10 lb.  It’s slow going, and not fun. 

You’ve heard the saying, “It didn’t take you 2 months to put on the weight, it’s not going to take you 2 months to take it off.”  I kinda hate being told that.  It didn’t take me 2 months, but in less than a year (7 months to be exact), I lost 14 lbs and then gained 30 lb.  30 lbs!  On top of the 30 I needed to lose due to baby weight from carrying Cayden. 

I’m a stress eater – comfort eater – just plain eater.  And this summer, I decided that I’m tired of being unhappy with myself.  I’m happy in my life.  I love my kids.  Love my husband.  Love my friends.  I just don’t love myself right now.  Or I don’t love my self image.  I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself.  I know that part of it is that I’ve been that fit, thin, and healthy person.  And it really wasn’t that long ago.  Well, 5 years ago I was at my goal weight.  And people told me I was glowing and just happy. 

Right now I’m a happy person, but I am more negative at times than I would like to admit.  I’ve been on antidepressant/anxiety medication for 4 1/2 years.  I was pregnant with Cayden when I went on them.  Last year, I was able to taper off them when I was active.  And then I became less active and had to start taking them again. 

Last month, I stopped taking them, started exercising (running and some strength training), following my weight watchers points allowance, and drinking my water.  Although I haven’t lost as much weight as I would like – it took me 10 months to lose 50 lbs in 2004-2005 – I feel better.  I feel confident that I don’t need the medication anymore – just so long as I’m active. 

I know I will get there.  I just have to stick with it.  And really watch what I’m eating – because what is it, 85% of losing weight is diet and 15% is exercise (for the normal person – not the person on the biggest loser show whose job is to work out for 8 hours a day).

Needed to get this all out there. 

And now, I’ve been awarded a blog award.  I think this is super cute :)  So thank you to my sweet friend, and fellow blogger, Traci for selecting my blog as a Blog with Substance, especially since this blog is really like a journal at times – or a newspaper – full of pointless or extremely proud information about my life and all that’s crazy within it.  Unlike my blog, Traci’s thoughts seem to come together a little better (okay or maybe I’m just really hard on myself).  Be sure to check out Traci’s Tall Tales and read the about her chronicle all the crazy things in her life. 

Blog with Substance Award

Now it's my turn to pass this along.  To accept my award, I must:
1. Thank the person who gave it to me. (see above)
2. Sum up my blogging philosophy/motivation/experience in/with five words – reflect, share, rant, life, love

3. Pass this award on up to 10 bloggers who I consider to have substance.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Legacy

On our way to Jacksonville yesterday, we listened to music from my iPod.  I have a very large variety of music on there.  That tells me that I really have “grown up” so to speak and become a pretty well rounded person.  The music that plays and is my driving source when I run are The Black Eyed Peas, I know every lyric to every Hannah Montana Song because I have a sweet little girl who adores her.  Lots of country and contemporary Christian music (which is my music of choice), and then other music that I just enjoy.

One of my favorite songs is Legacy by Nicole Noderman.  On our drive this song came on and I just stopped to listen to the words….

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one.

It is my pray that I live my life in this way.  I want those who meet me to know that I love Him and therefore accept them.  And I want my children to do the same.  I want to be genuine – all the time.  I want to be compassionate.  I want to live out the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.  I don’t always practice these all the time, but I think I’m doing a fairly good job at the moment. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just Poolin’ Around

This July we set up a pool in the backyard.  Several years ago, Grandma Liz bought a pool on clearance in the off season for $25.  This was back when we lived with them.  During their move, the pool got shoved into the corner of our garage and was essentially “lost.”  When summer came, we searched high and low for this pool and could not find it.  Our garage looks like a storage unit with boxes stacked in the far corner.  For some reason, I was digging through the garage looking for baby things (a friend just had a baby) and stumbled across the pool.  It took us a couple months, but we finally got the pool up at the beginning of July, and life at home this summer has been so much easier.

We still go out and play with friends, but most mornings (and afternoons), the kids are in the pool, just having a blast.  I’m so thankful for the swimming lessons we enrolled Cayden in at the beginning of the summer.  I’m thankful that Hannah was able to practice swimming a few times.  And now, both kiddos are fish who just love to hang out in the pool.


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And I must admit that after a morning run or just on a hot afternoon, it really is nice to be able to cool off in the pool.  I was a little nervous about how much work it would be, but thanks to a good friend, we are able to work out the logistics and maintenance of the pool care without spending a fortune.

And it’s super fun to have friends over.  The kids love it.  The grown ups love it.  It’s just worth it.  Stephen is already talking about an upgrade for next summer.  I think he’s a little crazy, but hey, he love it, too!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Say Yes! To VBS!

The first month of summer is a busy time for my family.  We see to go more during that first month than we do all year.  My children love Vacation Bible School and so during the 1st month of summer, we usually attend four – at four different churches. 

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This year, we did three.  And for one week, my kids were able to both attend while Mommy was able to get things done – around the house – around the town – kid free.  I am longing for the first week in August when I get to do that again!

Week 1 of VBS was at Westoak Woods.  I volunteered with Cayden’s class.  This made me realize how thankful I am that I only work 2 days a week.  And I’m so thankful for Noah’s Ark.  I know where everything is, I know the director, and I know most of the teachers.  I also know that VBS is a completely different story and that we did the best with what we had available to us.  And when I couldn’t find something, someone else knew where it was.  I just don’t like knowing where things are when I need them.

The kids had a blast at Saddle Ridge Ranch and really enjoyed the music.

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The next week, the children attended Bethany’s Voyage on the High Seas.  Another week of Bible stories, another week of new music – which I really enjoy, by the way.  Another week of lots of fun.  But I did not take my camera with me this week, and we didn’t participate in the End of Week Program because between swimming lessons, VBS, and visiting Grandpa, the kids were just worn out.

This past week, we attended Planet Zoom at Beautiful Savior – my childhood church.  It was an exhausting week, but we had a blast.  I was the music leader and completely wore myself out leading the music.  I swear I lost 10 lbs this week from all the exercise I have been doing on top of my running.  That’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea of how involved it is to teach 30 children 10 different songs in 5 days.  The kids ate up the music and we had the best participation we’ve had in years – even from the older kids.  Of course, taking away all the chairs in the music room and insisting that everyone participate helped with that.  They still had a blast!!  But because I was leading music, I wasn’t able to run around and snap photos.  I got a couple of Cayden and none of Hannah.  This is my favorite. 

This upcoming week should be slower for us.  We don’t really have any plans.  Monday is a holiday (yeah!), and the rest of the week, we’re going to take it easy.  I pray it doesn’t rain anymore, only because if I have to stay for another week inside with my children while the pool just sits outside, I’m going to have to be locked up somewhere.  Summer is hard when it rains.  The kids still play, read, and watch a little TV, but with a new pool, all of that is done very begrudgingly.  Here’s to a beautiful 1st week of  our 2nd month of summer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Memory of Stuart

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KXAN News Story

Stuart’s Obituary 

Hard to believe that a sweet friend passed away this week.  Younger than I am.  Life can be so cruel sometimes.  I wanted to share a little about this special friend.  You see, I knew a side to Stuart that many did not know.  Our friendship began many years ago, and those memories are what are helping me get through this difficult time.

Stuart always had a smile on his face.  He had this shimmering blue/grey eyes that could melt your heart just by looking into them.  Many know and remember Stuart as a party guy.  He liked to drink.  He liked to spend time with friends.  He liked to be goofy. 

Many people never saw the side of Stuart I knew.  I don’t know if it’s because I was young and naive or because he saw me as a “church girl”, but the times I  spent with Stuart Kerley were like no one else’s.

When Stuart and I were friends, we just spent our time together roaming around.  Either at my home or his, we would just hang out – lots of walks, lots of TV, and even a little mud (Stuart lived on some land and actually got me to spend time outside on it).

I remember the summer we were “dating.”  I put that in quotes because Stuart and I were just kids.  Walking around, holding hands, and stealing the occasional kiss from one another.  Our relationship was very innocent.  I remember going off to a Summer Mission Retreat before cell phones.  Every night, I would steal away to the PAY PHONE, to call him.  It was hard to not see someone for a week when you were used to spending all your waking time with him.  So the pay phone was our connection to one another.  And we both looked forward to that call – if only to hear the other’s voice.

The thing I love most about Stuart is that there was no pressure from him – about anything.  Knowing that I wasn’t into the partying scene in high school, he actually chose to NOT party around me.  Shocking, I know, but there were times in Stuart’s life when he was just a kid – not trying to grow up too quickly – or be too cool. 

He came to church with me.  We talked about God and heaven.  And it made me feel good to know that he was comfortable enough with my family and me to come to church with us.  Being 16 and having a boyfriend was tough enough – knowing he cared about me enough to actually come to church with me still to this day leaves an impression on me.

Our friendship was deeper than what it appeared on the surface.  After we drifted a part “romance” wise, we were still friends.  He still came to church with me.  We still spent time together.  Just not as often as we used it.  I became friends with his brother, Shawn.  And both of these guys are family to me.  I love them both tremendously.

Of course, like many do after high school, Stuart and I lost touch.  But then, MySpace and Face Book emerged from the Internet world, and along with them came a reconnection.  A reconnection I am so thankful to have made.  Not only did I reconnect with one of the sweetest guys from my past, but I also go to know his sweet wife.   Stuart was crazy about her.  One day at his house I remember telling him, “She’s a keeper, Stuart.”  And to see the love brimming from within just made me smile.  His response, “Yeah, she’s pretty special.  I love her a lot.” 

It was really good to not only reconnect with Stuart, but also with his family.  A few summers ago, our families spent some time together.  Stuart and Crystal got to know my kiddos and husband.    Stephen never new Stuart very well in High School.  He is several years older than us.  But he didn’t hesitate to get to know Stuart, the adult.  And now Stephen can call Stuart his friend.  His goofy, silly, crazy friend.

It’s still hard to believe that he’s really gone.  No matter how busy life got, I always talked to him at Christmas – if just to say Merry Christmas.  This Christmas is going to be hard on all of us.

Of course, Stuart’s death is a reminder of us all to not take life for granted.  And to tell those around us that we love them.  All the time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Run Like the Wind, Bullseye!

I admit it.  I’m a sucker.  I’m sentimental, and I cry at the movies. 

Never in my life did I expect to cry at Toy Story 3. 

But I did.  Like a baby.

I’m pretty sure it has to do with me being a mom. 

I think I’ve been waiting for this movie just as impatiently as my children.  Cayden was so excited about it coming to the theater.  We’ve been watching Toy Story and Toy Story 2 nonstop in our home.  He plays Toy Story throughout the day.  In fact, yesterday morning, I caught him in the playroom with Mr. Potato Head.  I asked him, “Cayden, are you playing Mr. Potato Head?”

His response to me? “No, mom.  I’m playing Toy Story.” 

I asked him, “With who?”

And he reaches down and says, “With Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head AND Buzz and Woody!”  He pulled out his figures and then went back to playing.  So cute.

It was a surprise that we were going to the movie.  And a last minute decision.  We were going to wait until next week.  I’m so glad we didn’t. 

Arriving an hour early, Cayden ran around like a crazy person, super excited to be at the theater.  The movie started, and the excitement continued.  When Woody lost his hat, Cayden’s Woody toy had to lose his hat.  When he got it back, we had to put Cayden’s Woody’s hat back on his head.  This was DURING the movie.

When Andy decides what’s going to college and what isn't, Cayden calls out, “Mommy, can I take my Woody and Buzz to college?”

The movie had it’s scary moments.  And Cayden was in my lap, at some point on top of my head, I’m pretty certain.”

In the end, it turns out happy, and I got all sentimental and cried about how much I love watching my kids be happy.  And for some other reasons, too, but I don’t want to give away the movie.  But at some point, Cayden called out, “I LOVE MY TOYS!” 

And as soon as it was over he asked, “Can we go and get the DVD now?”  Poor guy.  I wonder how long we have to wait for that to come out on video.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I was warned

I wanted to start running again.  I can’t say I was excited about it, but I was determined. 
New running shoes?  Check. 
Black Eyed Peas Album on iPod?  Check.
RunKeeper on iPhone updated?  Check.
Dog in tow?  Up early enough?  Check.  1/2 check (it was really too late to run).
At 8:00 am on Sunday, June, 13, I headed out for my 1st run since April.  My 1st real run.  Not just me running to see if I can go a mile.  But a full on, warm up, workout, cool down on a new route. 
I felt empowered.  I pushed myself to actually run faster than I have before.  Usually I stroll.  Not yesterday.  I pushed myself on the runs, and even on the walks.  Until I got through the workout.  And realized I still had at least 1/2 a mile to go before I got home.  So instead of heading home, I decided to take the long way.  I trudged along.  And I mean trudged, sometime walking only 2 mph. 
But I made it.   2.1 miles around the neighborhood.  In 36 minutes.  I was proud of myself.  Proud that I pushed myself that hard.  Proud that on my first day out, my time was actually decent.  Not great, but certainly better than it had been in the months prior.
The heat got to me.  My head started pounding.  That I could handle.  I pushed my water and drank a little caffeine.  And made it through the day.  I took, not one, but two, hot showers yesterday, impressed that I wasn’t hurting.
And then it hit me.  At 2 in the morning, my entire body freaked out.  My legs were aching, my feet were killing me, my back locked up, and I was starving.  I took some motrin, drank a glass of water, and forced myself to go back to sleep.  I woke up. . . it was 3 am. . . back to sleep. . . up at 4, 5, and 6:30.  Finally deciding sleep wasn’t going to continue, I got up at 7:30 and started on dinner for the evening and getting ready for the day. 
Sent a message to my running buddy, Traci.  She called me and said, “Don’t just sit today.  Get moving.  Walk around.  Don’t go for a walk, but stay on your feet.”  I had plans all morning so that wasn’t going to be difficult.  When we got home, Crystal came over for lunch, and we hung out.  She left, and I decided to mow the backyard.  Took me longer than usual, but I got it done.   When I was done, I came inside to check my email. 
I make one mistake. 
I sat down.
And got stuck.  It took me a good 10 minutes to get my body up.  Literally.  Not just sat for 10 minutes.  Get UP.
But I was warned.
And I’ll go running tomorrow morning.  This time a little earlier (okay 1 1/2 hours earlier is the plan.  We’ll see if that works out).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Starting Over Running Round 1

Start Time
8:03 am
End Time
8:23 am
h : m : s
Avg. Pace
per mi
Avg. Speed

Workout Continued
Start Time
8:24 am
End Time
8:40 am
h : m : s
Avg. Pace
per mi
Avg. Speed

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time to Run

I’ve decided it’s time for me to start running again.  I’m doing fairly well with eating right – clean, organic food most of the time.  My family has actually learned how to eat out this way.  My choices are limited, but thankfully there are a few places in Austin that do serve this lifestyle. 
Shopping today made me feel really good about myself.  I bought 3 different kinds of bottoms – two pairs of capris and one pair of shorts.  All different brands.  All size 14.  And they all fit well – not a little snug, not too tight, just right.  BIG feat for me.  Usually I am the one buying those just a little snug pants that I hope will become loose on me in a few weeks.  Doesn’t usually happen.  But this really made me realize that I can do this.  I can continue to be healthy and lose the weight again.
And I remember how good running actually makes me feel.  Now, I don’t really enjoy the act of running.  It’s hard work – on my body.  But it’s so good for me.  I have more energy and my mind is less cluttered.  When I was running, I was able to go off all my med – sleeping, anxiety, depression.  The only things I was taking were my vitamins and Motrin.  That right there says why I should start up again.
Oh, and the fact that our dog is way less crazy when he’s running daily/every other day.
Now, why I decided to start in June is beyond me.  I guess I like the horrible heat and humidity.  Or else, I’m clueless.  I’ll go with the latter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This year Hannah took a ballet class at DanceXplosion in Austin.  Each Friday we would head to dance class where Hannah learned the art of Ballet from Arabesque to Plie along with Barre work.  At the beginning of the year, I worried that she takes after me and has no rhythm or skill when it came to dancing.   Hannah complained about the Barre and really only looked forward to seeing Darby and Kate.   Even mid year I was worried about how we were ever going to make it through the dance year and be ready for recital.  She was clumsy and unfocused and just seemed uninterested.  I gave her the option of quitting ballet because it seemed pointless to me to make her do something she didn’t enjoy.  I didn’t realize the discipline she was gaining from the experience.   She insisted that she liked ballet and really wanted to continue attending class.

Around Spring Break, I asked Miss Tiffany if we could video tape a rehearsal with her actually dancing along with the girls.  And each week, Hannah actually practiced.  Then I asked if we could have a copy of the song for her to practice along with.  At that point, Hannah informed me that she wanted to perform her recital dance as a solo in the school talent show.  And she began to practice daily at home.  And when recital time came around, she was not only ready, but also graceful.  Hannah looked like she belonged on the stage.  Miss Tiffany worked really hard with her “ballerinas” to not only instill the knowledge and skills they would need to perform, but she also somehow inspired my daughter to actually become a little ballerina – and a good one at that.  Stephen asked me after the rehearsal, “Is it just because I’m her dad, or is she really good?”  That’s the first time he’s even shown an interest (outside of being the proud father) in her learning ballet.  And you know what?  She is. . . really good, and I am really proud of her!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I’m sitting in my home, enjoying the quiet.  It’s not every day quiet – you know the quiet you get when you send your kids to their rooms to play.  Or send them outside.  It’s more than that.  It’s near silent.  There is no sound of children playing, laughing, screaming.  It’s just quiet. 

For the 1st time in weeks, I’m home alone.  These past weeks have been full of life.  Get from here to there.  Make sure we are fed.  Is the laundry done?  Is the law mowed?  Has Hannah brought everything home from school?  Don’t forget to grab the teachers something as a thank you.  Don’t forget splash day!  Or field day!  Did you put on sunscreen?

And between all those events, we’ve gone up to the rehab hospital to visit grandpa.  We’ve been up there every day, but one, and on that day, Stephen still went.  Our evenings have been disrupted (for good cause), and the family is spending precious time with grandpa (Dad Mc). 

Don’t let me forget to mention that I had two photo shoots on Saturday.  Two wonderful photo shoots – but boy, was it hot. . .and boy, was it humid.  The photos are great, BTW.

I’m also leading the praise time at Noah’s Ark Summer Camp this year (it’s not too much, 20 minutes a week, but the prep for it was insane).  I’m subbing, too, but I’ve only had to sub once so far. 

Next week I’m helping with Preschool VBS at Weskoak Woods and leading Praise Time. 

All of this activity has had it toll on my body, and I’m hurting.  My head, my neck, my shoulders, my back.  And I’m craving things that are not good for me like soda and chocolate.  And I’ve allowed myself to indulge a bit – to keep me sane, I say.

Finally got a moment to talk to a sweet friend of mine.  And her exact words to me were, “Rose, you have to send the kids with Stephen tonight, alone, and stay home.  If you don’t, you’re going to burn out, and where will that put you?”  And she’s right – it will put me into a full blown, 3 day migraine.  And I can’t afford that right now. 

So that’s what I did.  And although I do feel little guilty, and sad, that I’m missing time with grandpa, I know my kids still get to see him.  And Stephen.  And it’s okay. 

Why?  Because sometimes we all need a little quiet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CATCH Family Fun Night

I’m a little behind on my blogging of events this year.  If you think I’m behind on blogging, you should see how far behind I am on scrapbooking.  It’s really kind of sad.  I’ve got about 1/3 of my class scrapbook finished and haven’t really even begun on my two children’s books.  That’s really sad seeing how I’m the Historian for Hannah’s school – it might be finished by end of Summer.  I’ll have to have a scrapbooking marathon one weekend to get it done.  Thankfully, it doesn’t take me long to whip out the pages, it’s just making myself sit down to scrapbook on the computer.  Since I made a personal goal to spend more time being active and keeping the house clean, I’ve been FLY-ing and playing with my children instead of preserving memories. 
Because Hannah’s school is a Title I school in Texas, they receive grant money to host events throughout the year.  One of those events is CATCH Family Fun Night – a night that promotes healthy living.  The school shares with parents everything they are doing to keep our children healthy and active.  We get to partake in a “school lunch” which is a little, but not much better than the lunches exhibited on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. 
AISD develops different menus for each school level. Lunch menus are designed to meet one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for calories, protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Additionally the menus are analyzed to assure that the week does not exceed 30 percent of calories from fat or 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. Sodium, cholesterol and fiber are monitored as well. With our new feature you may view the nutrients for each food item on the menu.
Lunch consists of an entrée, two selections of fruit, vegetables or salad, bread which may be part of the entrée or separate and a choice of milk. Students may select all five components or may take three components for a full meal. Meals are priced as a unit; however, each item is available a la carte.
Breakfast menus are designed to meet one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for calories, protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They are also analyzed for weekly averages of fat and saturated fat and monitored for sodium, cholesterol and fiber.
I feel bad saying this, but “blah, blah, blah.”  I’ve seen the food, some of it is processed, some of it isn’t .  Thankfully, Hannah will tell me what she chose for the day, and usually it’s the fresh option – on the days she has the choice of a taco or a hot dog, she takes the taco, which is ground turkey, seasonings, and lettuce.  I’m proud of her for the choices she makes.  And she watched the Food Revolution with me.  She’ll never have a chicken nugget again, which makes me proud and laugh all at the same time.
The CATCH Program focuses on coordinating four components: the Eat Smart school nutrition program, K-5 and 6-8 Classroom curriculum,a Physical Education program, and a Family program. The Coordination of health messages between these four component areas is critical to positively impact children's knowledge and behavior. For over 10 years CATCH has guided schools, families, and children in the process of being healthy. CATCH, the largest school-based health promotion study in the U.S., has demonstrated that behaviors such as eating foods high in saturated fat and physical inactivity can be changed.
Our family participated in CATCH Family Fun Night and I took photos to prove it.  I’m very impressed with Hannah’s jump roping, hula hooping, and dance skills.  She loves to run, but it’s a runner, but she certainly excels in other areas.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Ready for Preschool Praise Time

This summer, I decided to take off from teaching a full class at Preschool Summer Camp.  I want my kids to enjoy Vacation Bible School and not have to worry about running around from here to there.  I’m taking what I learned from my fast this Spring and slowing things down.  And although I think I may lose my mind, spending all this time with my kiddos, I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for them. 
I did accept the position of Praise Time Leader during Summer Camp though.  Summer Camp at Noah’s Ark is 4 weeks of MDO (Tues and Thurs) from 9-12.  It’s like VBS, but for the really little kiddos.  Both my children are old enough to go to the full blown VBS’s this year, so we will be participating in several of them, with myself volunteering during several.  But in the meantime, I will spend about 20 minutes on Tuesdays for the month of June, leading this special Praise Time.
Usually it is not difficult to choose songs to sing.  There are 4 weeks – 4 themes – and so usually 4 song.  The first week is Space and how God Made Everything.  We originally chose the song, My God is so Big for this week, but as I was looking for other songs, Stephen reminded me of the song, He’s Still Workin’ On Me.  For those of you not familiar with this song, the lyrics to the chorus (which is what we will sing over and over again in Praise time) are as follows,
He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

We are excited to sing this song because it mentions some of the planets.  The kids are going to LOVE it!  We’ve decided that My God is So Big will be the THEME song for Summer Camp this year, meaning we will sing it each week.
The 2nd week of Summer Camp focuses on the story of Noah, but with a twist.  In the classrooms, the kiddos will be learning about farm animals.  I thought about singing the same old Noah songs that the kids all know – Arky, Arky, Who Built the Ark, etc.  But then I decided I wanted to focus on the farm aspect.  Little did I know how difficult it would be to find a song about Jesus and Farm Animals.  I had to delve into my memory and travel back to my college days.  When I was a part of Living Praise, we sang a silly song called, I Just Wanna Be a Sheep.  There are some verses that aren’t really preschool appropriate, BUT the chorus and last verse are perfect, so we will be baaing our way through Praise Time and having a blast.
Week 3 was the most difficult week to plan for.  The theme of the week is Prayer and Growing.  You’d think I’d know tons of songs about these subjects, and I do.  Unfortunately, they are not preschool appropriate.  But my sweet friend, Kim, came to the rescue and introduced me to the preschool song, How to Pray.  It’s perfect for the week, and upbeat, which really was the goal in this song.
And lastly, our final week is about Jesus calming the storm.  I really wanted the kids to learn a song about how Jesus keeps us safe.  I googled it and found the lyrics to the song With Jesus in the Boat.  This is a song from the 1940s.  I was a little nervous about finding a file to use that wouldn’t drag on and on.  But thanks to a wonderful web site and resource, Turn Back To God, I not only found the song and lyrics, but also an mp3 file.  And when I couldn’t get the song to download, the owner, Georgy, walked along with me (via instant message) until it downloaded to my computer.  And did I mention this was all FREE????  Free music resources??  Hello?  This should be bookmarked by everyone!!!
And now, the Praise Time CD is ready to go.  Our first praise time is at 11:20 which means I’ll need to get moving.  Thankfully, I’m already up, dressed, and ready to go.  Just letting the boy watch an episode of Phineas and Ferb before heading out. 
Thanks again to all my awesome resources.  Kim and Georgy, this time wouldn’t be a success without y’all!!  May the Lord continue to pour His blessings upon you!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dealing with Trauma

You never think that your life will be affect by trauma.  You see it happen around you.  You pray for those involved, but you never think that one day, you will be the one asking for prayers.  You never think that you could watch one of the most amazing people in your life lay in the ICU fighting for his life.  You never think.  Until it happens.
My sweet father-in-law was in a serious motorcycle accident last Saturday.  Hard to believe a week has gone by and in a moment, our lives have changed dramatically for the time being.  He sustained some serious injuries, including a contusion.  The contusion is causing some major confusion.  His short term memory is pretty much nonexistent.  And although it’s hard to see him in this condition, the progress he’s made since Saturday has been amazing.
Ernie has been moved to Texas NeuroRehab Center.  He has been approved for 1 week of therapy, although the doctors seem to think that once he’s reevaluated at week’s end, he’ll be able to stay an additional week.  He is recognizing faces, remembering specifics about people.  When we went to see him on Tuesday, he asked for me specifically, addressed my children by name, and had a short conversation with Stephen. 
I’ve heard this is happening with all who have visited.  And it’s good.  Cayden is just happy to see Grandpa.  Hannah, on the other hand, would rather not be there.  That or she really just misses the Grandpa she saw on Saturday before the accident. 
But I have faith in our god, Jehovah-Rophe – the great healer.  I know that He will continue to place his healing hands on Ernie and we will see continued progress to his condition. 
Lord God, Jehovah-Rophe, I pray for your healing touch on Ernie.  Make every part of his body function in the way you designed it to.  Wherever there is anything out of balance, set it in perfect working order.  Heal him of his injuries.  Strengthen his body to successfully endure this workload of rebuilding, and when he sleeps, may he wake up completely rested, rejuvenated, and refreshed.  Give him a strong heart that doesn’t fail. 
I pray You will sustain him and heal him.  Fill him with your joy to give him strength.  Specifically, I pray for his brain injury, and broken bones.  Give him the faith to say, “ ‘O LORD my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me’ [Psalm 30:2].  Thank You, Lord, that You are my Healer.”
Lord, You alone know the depth of the burden Ernie carries. We may understand the specifics, but You have measured the weight of it on his shoulders.  We've not come to minimize what You are doing in his life, for we know You work great things in the midst of trials.  Nor are we trying to protect him from what he must face.  We only want to support him so that he will get through this battle as the winner.
God, You are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).  You have invited us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  I come before Your throne and ask grace for Ernie.  Strengthen his heart for this battle and give him patience to wait on You (Psalm 27:1-4).  Build him up so that no matter what happens he will be able to stand strong through it.  Help us to always be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Romans 12:12).  Give him endurance to run the race and not give up, for You have said that “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16).  Help him to remember that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23, 24).
I pray that we will look to You to be our “refuge until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1).  May we learn to wait on You because “those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).  I pray that Ernie will find his strength in You and as he cries out to You, You will hear him and save him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6).

(Prayers by Stormie OMartian)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Racecars Meet the Dollies

Racecars meet the dollies is something my children play quite often.  Hannah wants to play dollies (Barbies and Princesses), and Cayden wants to play with his cars.  They both want to play together, so they gather up the cars and head to Hannah’s room to play this time consuming activity.  They will play together for a couple hours with no fighting.  It’s too cute for words and great for the mommy who is busy cooking dinner or cleaning, laundry, etc.
This Spring, Mammaw won tickets to Disney on Ice from our “Positive Listening” Radio Station, The River – it used to be 102.3 but is moving to 105.9.  Anyway, mom signed up and within a few hours had received a phone call regarding the tickets.  I went to pick them up – a family four pack – It was decided that Mammaw, myself, Hannah, and Cayden would attend.  The themes?  CARS, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and the Tinker Bell Fairies.  The racecars and the dollies came to life on ice and both of my children were in complete awe of the show.  It was a fun afternoon spent, and great time with Mammaw.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Just 5 Days

In just 5 days, my body has adjusted quite well to this clean eating.  Remember, when I say clean, I mean mostly organic foods, no refined flour, limited sugar, and no processed foods.  I still have my decaf coffee with milk (although I’ve also been drinking caffeine free tea).  I’ve actually been doing really well, which surprises me.  I’ve packed my lunch and snacks for the week, and stayed away from the sweets and junk at school.

That is until yesterday.  Wednesday evening was a rough night for us.  Cayden woke up around 2 am with a fever of over 101.  He doesn’t tolerate fever well – cries, thrashes, and just wants to be held.  Making for a very long night.  Thursday was the last day of school for Noah’s Ark.  When I woke up, I put on my clothes, brushed my teeth, gathered up Hannah and my stuff, and headed out the door.  I did remember to grab breakfast and some fruit, but I completely forgot about lunch.

When I arrived at school, I decided that I would partake in our final Pizza Day on campus.  No more Pizza Day next year as the rules for food change with the licensing of the facility.  I got myself 2 pieces of cheese pizza. 

It was Splash Day – so fun and yet so crazy – we took the kids outside, with their water stuff and their lunches – we were going to have a picnic.

Somehow, I lost my fruit.  So I ate the two pieces of pizza and then had a tiny piece (and I mean tiny) of cake leftover from the PreK Celebration.

Within 30 minutes, I felt like I was going to die.  My body reacted in a way to the food I ate like it has never before.  It was so angry at me.  Let me tell you – lesson learned.  No more junk for me.  I don’t ever want to feel like that again.  EVER.

Which takes me to my case in point – I’ve felt amazing this week.  I’ve had more energy, I’m sleeping better, and I have less anxiety and just a better mood.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I really do believe in what I’ve been reading.  If I hadn’t, yesterday convinced me.

So without further ado, I am going to make myself share these recipes with you.  Of course, only the ones we’ve tried.  I’ve got a couple more to make this week, but a few involve one more trip to the grocery store for a few items.

Lunches -

baby spinach with avocado, pomegranate, and sunflower seeds (serves 6-8 as a side salad) – okay, I have to admit with this one, we didn’t have the pomegranate.  I just couldn’t find this fruit anywhere.  Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, or maybe it’s not in season.  Regardless, the pomegranate was omitted from my ingredients.

  • 1/2 t grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 t grated lime zest
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 10 ounces baby spinach lives, cleaned and patted dry
  • 2 T sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1 avocado
  1. In a blender, combine the orange zest and juice, lime zest and juice, shallot, olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water.  Cut the pomegranate in half through the tem.  Hold on pomegranate half under the water and remove the seeds with your hands.  Drain the seeds well, discarding the membrane.  Set aside 3/4 cup.  Reserve the rest for another use.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, all but 2 T of the pomegranate seeds, the sunflower seed, and about 1/4 cup of the dressing.  Toss gently to coat.  Transfer the salad to a platter or individual plates.
  4. Pit and Peel the avocado and slice it thinly.  Arrange the avocado slices on top of the salad.  Sprinkle the reserved pomegranate seeds on top.  Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve.

Calories: 136.7, Fat: 8.6 g, Protein: 2.9 g, Carbs: 15.5 g, Sodium: 159.2 mg

Health Benefits: Anti-Cancer, Heart Healthy, Boosts Immunity, Improves Digestion, Healthy Skin, Boosts Metabolism, Anti-Inflammatory

tomato, avocado, and cheddar burrito (serves 4) – We didn’t have any tortillas so I improvised with this one and just ate a salad.  Instead of the tortilla, I had 2 cups of romaine lettuce and spinach.

  • 4 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 T thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 ounce low-fat Cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 firm, ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  1. Position a rack 4 inches below the broiler and heat the broiler to high.  Alternatively, have ready a cast-iron griddle or other heavy bottomed pan and when ready to cook, heat it over medium-high heat.
  2. Lay the tortillas on the work surface.  Arrange the tomatoes in a straight light down the center of each tortilla, slightly overlapping them and dividing them equally among the 4 tortillas.  Diver the onion among the tortillas, evenly spreading it down each row of tomatoes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of each.
  3. Carefully slide one tortilla onto a rimless baking sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 1 minute.  Or transfer 1-2 tortillas to the griddle and heat until the cheese is melted a bubbling, about 2 minutes.
  4. Slide the warmed tortilla onto a plate.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
  5. Meanwhile, top the warmed cheese with 1/4 of the avocado slices.  Grind a little black pepper on top, if desired.  Tear 2 basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over the vegetables.  Tops with 1 cup of lettuce and roll up the burrito into a tight cylinder.  Repeat with remaining burritos.
  6. Slice each burrito in half and serve.

Calories: 260.5, Fat: 11.8 g, Protein: 8.3 g, Carbs: 31.3 g, Sodium: 223.7 mg

Health Benefits: Anti-Cancer, Heart Healthy, Boosts Metabolism, Healthy Skin

Dinners – we had to vary from our original menu.  Halibut is $19.99/lb and I just wasn’t paying that much.  I’ll check Central Market next time.  I’ve also been told I can substitute Pacific Cod for Halibut and it will be just as good.

almond-crusted chicken breasts (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds, toasted
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 t grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 t dried rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 (4-5 ouce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, place the almonds, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, garlic, and salt.  Process until coarsely chopped; the mixture will be a thick paste.
  3. Arrange the chicken breast halves in a baking dish.  Divide the almond paste and spread on the breasts; pat down to cover each breast completely.
  4. Roast in the oven until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165-170, about 10 minutes.  Loosely tent with foil and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Calories: 293.3, Fat: 17.4 g, Protein: 30 g, Carbs: 4.2 g, Sodium: 194.2 mg

Health Benefits: Anti-Cancer, Heart Healthy, Boosts Immunity, Improves Digestion, Boosts Metabolism, Improves Mood

grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce (serves 4) – This is the one dish my children asked for more of.  Soooo good!  Sooo easy!

  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 T packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1 lb. skirt steak
  • Olive oil spray, for the grill
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add the parsley and oregano leaves, and pulse until the herbs are coarsely chopped.  Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
  2. Place the skirt steak in a shallow pan and pour 1/3 cup of the chimichurri sauce over it.  Turn to coat well.  Cover and refrigerate, preferably for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.  Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce.
  3. If using a gas or charcoal grill, spray the grill with olive oil and prepare a medium-hot grill.  If using a grill pan, spray it will olive oil and heave over medium-high heat.
  4. Grill the steak for 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare (yuck – we cook medium here).  Let stand on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes.  Thinly slice the stead and divide among four plates.  Top each serving with 1 generous teaspoon of chimichurri sauce and serve.

Calories: 339.2, Fat: 25.1 g, Protein: 24.3 g, Carbs: 2.9 g, Sodium: 193.2 mg

Health Benefits: Anti-Cancer Heart Healthy, Boosts Immunity, Boosts Metabolism, Improves Digestion

I know I’m missing a few and I’ll get them posted soon.  That’s just a lot of typing which equals a lot of time I could be doing something else.  LOL

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Master Your Metabolism Week 1

It’s been nearly a week since my family started eating meals from the Master Your Metabolism Cookbook by Jillian Michaels.  Okay, I must admit that I have been cooking our dinners from this book, and my breakfasts and lunches.  Lunches have been salads.  Hannah has been sick so she’s not eating much and Cayden prefers to eat healthy chicken nuggets then sit down and eat a salad.  Add into the mix that we inherited a bunch of food from a friend who was moving away, and it’s just been small changes that have been made.

And I would be lying to say that I haven’t cheated here and there.  I know, not exactly the best thing for my body.  I’m sure I’m confusing the heck out of it, but as long as there is ice cream in the house (and that won’t be for much longer), it is very difficult for me to say no.  On the plus side, coffee and sodas have been close to eliminated from my diet and caffeine has been completely removed! 

Now, on to the meals.  I said that I would post the recipes after we tried them.  One has been a total hit.  I’m pretty sure that tonight’s will be as well.  The breakfast muffins are a hit with the adults.  The kids don’t really care for them – more because they are crumbly, that the fact that they don’t taste good.  I think they are so good, and Stephen agrees.  And one meal was a hit with myself, Stephen thought it was okay, and the kids didn’t care for it at all.  But, they ate it because that’s the rule.

I’m still learning how to food fresh veggies.  I completely got the asparagus right but the green beans wrong.  And no one liked them (the green beans).  We love asparagus in this household.

Here’s the thing about eating “clean.”  Jillian Michaels wants you to eat all organic.  We just cannot afford that in this house, but I am making it a rule that our meat, milk, and eggs must be organic.  And then when the organic stuff is on sale, we buy organic.  We’re going to hit the farmer’s market next grocery day.  I’ve never been.  Looking forward to that trip.

The nice thing about these meals is that they only take 30 minutes to prepare.  Sure, some of them involve marinade, but other than that, it takes minutes to get them one the table.  A must for my household.  With two school age children, I do not have the time or energy to spend hours in the kitchen.

Okay, like I said, on to the meals.  So far I’ve only made one muffin recipe.  It makes 12 and since I’m the only one eating them (the kids are eating eggs for breakfast), they are lasting longer than I anticipated.  For breakfast, I have two muffins – mainly to help me get through the morning.  But the energy they give me is wonderful. 

I don’t have time to type up every recipe at the moment, but I wanted to share the muffin recipe.  Enjoy!

oatmeal chocolate chip muffins

  • Olive oil spray for the tin
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (this is whole wheat pastry flour – took me a while to figure that one out)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 TBS aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (toasted by you)
  • 1/2 cup 70% cocoa chocolate chips.
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil or line it with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, honey, olive oil, egg, and orange zest.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin.  Place the tin in the oven and reduce the temperature to 400 degrees F.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before unmolding onto a cooling rack.  Serve warm.  (For longer storage, let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Makes 12 servings.  Calories: 280.9, Fat: 16.5 g, Protein: 5.7 g, Carbs: 31.3 g, Sodium 279.0 mg

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mastering My Metabolism – Menu for the Week

I’m a huge fan of Jillian Michaels.  I know that Bob is the “sweet” trainer on the Biggest Loser, but Jillian fascinates me.  6 months ago, I read her book, Master Your Metabolism.  I checked it out from the library, but I hadn’t purchased it because it’s $30 ($25 on Amazon and that’s because of shipping).  The other day while at Costco, I noticed that they had not only this book, but also the cookbook.  Both for $14 each.  I grabbed them.  And I read through the entire cookbook yesterday (including the refresher regarding the science behind the book and hormones we all have/produce).  The gist of the book/theory is that our bodies all produce 12 different hormones and because of the environment or the foods we eat, many of our hormones are out of balance, causing us to gain weight and be miserable.  The key is to find a way to rebalance the hormones naturally so our bodies can become “energetic, thriving, fat-burning machines.”
Her cookbook includes recipes that are clean, whole and balanced that are not only appealing to the eyes but also quick and easy to make.  Here is what we are having this week (recipes not included – once we’ve tried them, I will share them, but until then, you must wait).
Breakfasts – These are always quick for us – The kids and I usually eat the same thing.  I have no idea what Stephen eats.  We are gone before he has breakfast.  I think it’s cereal, but I could be wrong.  As for the children and myself, I’ve been making muffins (not from scratch), but I’m so excited that she has three different recipes that I can make and we can eat!  Gotta love something you can bake ahead of time and freeze for later consumption. 
  • Blueberry Banana Muffins
  • Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Lunches are usually fairly simple.  Hannah eats at school (AISD has a great lunch menu), Cayden (2 days a week, the other two we eat at home) takes a Hebrew National hot dog, oranges, and cheese to school with him, and I usually make (two days a week) a turkey and cheese sandwich, carrots, and fruit.  Sometimes I have iced tea, sometimes a soda (I know) and sometimes water.  This week, I am planning on eating some of Jillian’s recipes for lunch or take leftovers.
  • Tomato, Avocado, and Cheddar Burrito
Dinners will be something from her book each day.  We might have leftovers one day, but it will be from what I’ve cooked previously (hence leftovers LOL).  What I LOVE is that many of her recipes are something my children will eat (they are great eaters) but also do not contain tomatoes.  You’d think after 4 years, I’d be used to cooking without them, but many of my favorite recipes have tomato in them.  Here’s to trying something new and liking it!!
  • Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Asparagus
  • Thai Green Curry Halibut and Green Beans
  • Almond-Crusted Chicken Breasts and No-Cream Creamed Spinach
  • Broiled Tilapia with Fresh Herbs, Mushrooms (and Tomatoes) and Baby Spinach with Avocado, Pomegranate, and Sunflower Seeds
  • Pecan Crusted Catfish with Cranberry Maple Compote
I’m also going to make a few snacks from the book (which can be saved for all week)
  • Cheddar and Apple Slices with Cinnamon
  • Trail Mix
  • Roasted Russet Fries
  • Spiced Roasted Almonds
  • Almond-Chocolate Blondie
I’m a little nervous about my grocery list and price, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.  I checked prices already at a few stores, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be within budget.  We’ll probably also throw some things together from the pantry and freezer and try to make it through two weeks.  But if we don’t, we’ll be fine.  Remember, no eating out so our dollar goes further!
I’m also praying that these changes will help me with the sleeping issues and anxiety issues I’ve been having.  It’s been a tough week for me and I can’t figure out why.  I think I’m burned out.  And as much as I’m going to miss those little honeys, my last week of school has finally arrived!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hannah’s dance recital is Saturday.  Excited about that.  She auditions for the talent show on Monday.  She’s going to do part of her recital dance.  She’s so cute!
Cayden and I , along with Ryan, Chase, Aunt Stephie, and Uncle Daniel, had the opportunity to see a sneak peek of Shrek Forever After.  The look on Ryan’s face when he realized we were really going to see Shrek before it comes out on May 21st was worth the wait in the line and sitting in the third row.  It was really cute – as good as the 1st one – and Cayden’s 3rd movie (not counting the summer ones that are jam packed with kids and talked through the entire time).  He did really well, especially since he sat in the middle of Chase and Ryan and nowhere near me.  It was almost like I went to the movie as a grown up, only having to lean over and tell him to not talk a couple times.  He was so excited and interacted with the movie the whole time.  Cracked me up.
We are home from IKEA on a Saturday.  Very stressful for me, but worth the trip.  We are inheriting a 36” TV from Daniel and Stephanie (worked out a trade) and our current entertainment center only holds a 27”.  So for a little bit of $$ we were able to get a nice replacement.  I think Stephen is just as excited about replacing the old 25” we have currently as he would be if we had bought a flat-screen (okay, not really, but at least he’s not chopping at the bit to go and buy something we can’t afford).  We are still living in the dark ages, but we’re going to do so at with a bigger screen.
That’s life as we know it and a few more piences of me.