Goals for the Fall

Ok so I have to admit I am a little obsessed with the “Why are we so much busier than 20 years ago?” question.  Especially with technology making life convenient.  I discovered that this question has a multitude of answers.

I decided this year I would try to make my life less overwhelming and cut out the “run around crazy.”  Come mid August anxiety set in.  I didn’t feel ready for the work, life, church balance.  Now that we’re three week into the school year, I already made some progress.   It helps to record it here, but my fear is a few months it will be a whole different story.  Here’s some changes I made:

  • Saying “no.”  I had to say, “no” to a few small things already.  Even though they were minor things, it was painful.  It made me realize I am a huge “people pleaser” when it comes to extra tasks & projects.
  • Exercise:  I will still exercise (and I have been consistent) 5-6 mornings a week because it does give me a mental boost and it’s my best use of “alone time.”  I came to the point a few years ago where my thoughts were, “Ugh I need to go exercise.  I SHOULD really go and do it” to “I NEED to do it and I WANT to do it and I can’t imagine NOT doing it.”
  • No fall sports:  Our kids are at the age when they don’t need to be doing sports year round.  They are pretty young.  So rather than push swim team or soccer, we will  continue to run 2-3 times a week for 15-20 minutes maximum…although we took the month of September completely off.
  • Praying about our schedule & pursuing God:  I have prayed about our time commitments and activities.  I am striving to seek the Lord first in everything (not just my schedule) before seeking Facebook, friends, etc.
  • Not talk about being busy:  It has become a status symbol to declare how busy you are and walk around in a frazzled state.  I am trying to be thankful for the opportunities God has given me and decrease the pressure put on myself.
  • Eating!  I am in three weeks into a pretty significant change in eating.  You can read it about on my exercise blog.   I am striving to do so without having to purchase products I cannot really afford right now.  My goal is to eat clean foods.  This is a quote from my gym’s website:
  • Clean food is basically food without any added unnatural or processed ingredients. If you can’t find the ingredient or food in nature, then it probably isn’t clean. For example, an orange is a better option than orange juice (processed and added sugar). And orange juice is better than an orange creamsicle (who knows what is actually in one of those). The more steps food has to take from its natural state, the less clean it tends to be.Clean foods are the best because our bodies are designed to thrive off real food.

It has helped that we have so much fresh vegetables and fruit in the house right now from our garden and other people’s gardens.  I am determined to keep it up throughout the fall and winter as well.  My reason is not weight loss but basic health.  I struggle with anxiety, severe PMS, and I am around kids all day with runny noses.  We’ve already dealt with one stomach bug already that I thankfully only had mildly.  It is too early to tell if the diet change is making a significant difference, but I can tell you I lost two pounds and my anxiety has been minimal.

So bring on the fall!  I am not sure what this school year will hold, but it’s been a good three weeks already.

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Second week of summer

Week #2 of summer.  The unfortunate thing about this week was my seasonal allergies got so bad that I had a pulsing sinus headache that knocked me out most of Tuesday.  The fortunate thing was the kids are old enough that I could sleep while they played on their own. Especially because I took a Sudafed PM on accident instead of AM…so that pretty knocked me out all afternoon. The kids can work the TV (and they know only 1 hour in the morning), make their own snacks, get their bikes out of the shed, etc.  The husband works next door to our house so he could check in on them every hour and was home for a full hour during lunch. The oldest knows how to use the phone. It was a little anxiety ridden for me at first–“They’re unattended!”  Yet they are 8,6, and 4 now…it’s not like the days of laying on the couch sick letting toddlers run around and hoping nothing gets destroyed.

But that was only one day…one day of an overall pretty good week.

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It is the week before VBS and I am directing again this year.  What seems to be a daunting stressful job for many has become doable…and even fun…for myself.  It took many years of trial and error to get to this point.  While I know I won’t direct forever (I already warned my church this is not a permanent thing!) it has been a great volunteer position for me this year.  Lots of people stepped up.  Because my oldest is doing odd jobs to earn money for her mission trip to Philadelphia this month, she helped me sort volunteer t-shirts, name tags, and helped my friend set up decorations.

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After being sick on Tuesday, I was itching to get out of the house.  The weather was beautiful!  My head still was not quite right in the morning.  By 3 PM I decided to bite the bullet and take the kids biking.  I knew they would go slow and we could take breaks as needed.  It was our first bike ride together on a trail.  My youngest’s bike is not in the greatest condition and the training wheels don’t stay in place so that created a few falls…and stops.  But overall everyone had a great time.

ImageIt is difficult for me to bike with all three of them because I have a racing road bike.  I bike in clips (though I am still a rookie and learning how to do this).  I am too nervous about biking slowly behind them especially when they stop suddenly…not sure I could clip out that fast.  So I wear my 90’s style roller blades…and I still get a good workout too.

ImageBecause I was feeling so much better, I decided to play street hockey Wednesday night.  Some guys from our church started a Wednesday night hockey night in our church parking lot.  I don’t like to play volleyball or basketball–but I won’t turn down a game of hockey…even I have not played since junior high intramurals…and we’re talking over 20 years ago!

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I took the kids to the Public Works Day at the local park.  It is when the Public Works department comes with all their big trucks and educate the children about what they do.  There is also some bike safety education, games, face painting, and free lunch.  My kids went last year and loved it…so we had to go again.

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We have been trying to teach the children about other cultures.  One of the best ways to do that is with food.  The husband made a Korean barbecue and then we had the kids read a website about the country.  We quizzed them about what they learned.

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I am not sure what country we will do next.  Ethiopia?  Indonesia?  Greece?  The kids want to do Mexico, but I would rather do one that is going to be more of a challenge…and different.

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We ended the week by going to Eugene for part of the day.  My friend Linda who was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan was playing in an ultimate frisbee tournament there.  I visited her over Spring Break in May in LA where she currently lives.  This time she got to see the husband again and meet the kids.  We were able to watch her game and go out for pizza…this is a picture from when were in LA together.  I was a dork and left the camera memory card pack home in the PC yet again.

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Now on to VBS week–where our week will be pretty much be VBS and not much more!

Favorite zucchini recipes

I never thought I would become a fan of zucchini bread and muffins until last fall when a friend gave me several large zucchini to take home.

Here is what I have made so far this season…

These are the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins!  I bake them and they are instantly gone within 24 hours. My kids love them!  I also bake a gluten-free batch and they turn out great.

Zucchini Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Chips.  Very easy to make!  My oldest daughter brought this as a birthday treat last year and the first graders ate it up.

Zucchini carrot bread.  My first time making it.  Two out of three children plus myself enjoyed it.  Great way to use some of the carrots in your garden or fridge.

Zucchini chips.  Easy to make but you need to allow yourself some time.  Slice the zucchini very, very thin.  I had to use a food processor.  I tried to prepare a batch slicing by hand and they did not turn out.  Cover parchment paper over a cookie sheet and lay slices on the paper.  Spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Do NOT use aluminum foil.  I did this on my first attempt and it was like peeling stickers off a paper–most of the slices broke.

Bake at 225 degrees for 45 minutes.  Turn the cookie sheet around and bake an additional 30-45 minutes.

They should look like potato chips. And they taste delicious!

 

Simple & Kid Friendly Blueberry Recipes

Blueberries are my favorite fruit!  They are easy to take on picnic.  No peels.  No need for slicing or digging out pits.  My kids eat them by the handful.  My kids love our annual blueberry picking tradition.  It’s a cheap “kid’s outing” and we venutre out to the beautiful Oregon countryside.  Plus you save more money utilizing U-pick especially if you want to a large quantity of berries!

Most our blueberries get eaten by the handful as a snack, with a meal, or put on cereal and oatmeal or in waffles.  I did try a few blueberry recipes this year.  All of these recipes were simple and used almost everything I already had in the house.  I did not have to buy any special ingredients.

First we made Blueberry Heaven Smoothies.  This was a good “kid friendly” smoothie because it has both apple juice and vanilla ice cream in it.  The kids loved it!

Next I made blueberry mini muffins.  These are the perfect snack for the car.  They are less messy than regular muffins.  I freezed a bunch to take on our upcoming road trip to Canada.

Last I made blueberry coffe cake.  Perfect for a brunch of breakfast meeting.  My kids ate this up too.

The blueberries are almost all gone!  I wish we would have picked more.  I might have to head out to the U-pick again before the season winds down.

I’m linking this up with Frugal Friday.

Tips for making guacamole

It is the perfect summer outdoorsy type snack.  A few people with culinary skills gave me a crash course in how to make a tasty guacamole.

I used the Perfect Guacamole recipe.  One thing I discovered is you need to adjust any guacamole recipe to taste.  Obviously vegetables come in all different sizes.  The first time I made it too bland.  The second time it had too much lime juice.

First I had to learn  the proper way to cut an avocado.  Make sure you select one that is soft.  You will need to be able to mash it with a fork.  If it’s solid, it is too overripe.  You will need to wait a few days.

First cut around the pit on the avocado in a complete circle…

Then twist off the top…

You should be able to stab the pit with the knife and pull it right out.

Scoop the “meat” of the avocado out and put in a bowl.  Then mash it with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients (red onion, Serrano chiles, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper).  Add the sliced tomato right before you are ready to serve it.  I added tomato to it right away the first two times I made it.  This previous time I added it right before I served it and I noticed a difference.

 There you go! A tasty and delicious appetizer to eat on your backyard patio!  Serve with tortilla chips.

 

Guess we cannot blame the watermelon

Our VBS barbeque was last Friday.  Between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, we counted forty people who got sick with a stomach bug.  There are probably more we do not know about.

All three of my children got sick all within a couple of hours of one another.  My husband came down with it on Sunday.  I avoided it. I rarely dodge illnesses.  I tend to get everything they get.  My first thoughts were they all ate the watermelon at the picnic and I did not.  Could it be the watermelon?

I felt like I was conducting a forsenic investigation yesterday as my husband and I did a poll over facebook and over the phone of who got sick and if they ate the watermelon.

There was a small amount of people (we counted maybe two) who got sick and did not eat the watermelon.  There were also a few people (we counted two) who ate the watermelon and did not get sick.

Most families who had a mix of sick people and healthy people had a direct correlation.  Those who ate the watermelon were sick.  Those who did not were well.

As our investigation progressed we realized we probably could not blame the watermelon.  A few doctors we know said you cannot get food poisoning from a watermelon.  They said it sounds more like a contagious stomach virus.  

According to Wiki Answers  if there are pathogens on the outside of the watermelon, they can be pushed to the inside edible part if the watermelon is not washed. Bacteria or a virus could have possibly been on the watermelon. But they also could have been anywhere:  the potato chip bowl, drinking fountain, door knobs etc. Food poisoning tends to occur within a few hours and there were still people coming down with it almost 48 hours after they ate the watermelon.

We will never know if we can blame the watermelon.  It makes for a funny Vacation Bible School memory.  Half our church was out on “VBS” Sunday and there were a mere four kids present to sing the VBS song (we usually have 20-30).

We tend to think of cold and flu season in October through April. Not June. Many said it was a good reminder that any time you have large groups of people in one place–wash hands.  Utilize hand sanitizer.  Don’t share cups.  If you feel sick, stay home.  If your kids are sick, keep them home.

We all said VBS week was well worth it despite a large percentage ending it with a stomach bug.  Most of us have never been part of an outbreak before!

Menu Plan Monday: 5/21/2012

Today is my second week of being “husband-less” at home.  (Another blog post coming about that).  Meals are somewhat simple and have a little more gluten in them than usual (husband has to eat gluten-free).  Plus we have our big church campout this weekend and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.  Memorial Day Weekend is a gamble weather wise in most places in the country especially Oregon.

Here is what we are eating…

Monday:  Tortellini with pasta sauce & Texas Toast

Tuesday:  Meatballs and Rice

Wednesday:  Tacos

Thursday:  Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry

Friday:  Out to the eat with kiddos before husband comes home

Saturday:  Supper at church campout

Sunday:  Supper at church campout

I don’t have any fun recipes to share right now.  Things have been down to earth and simple lately.   I hope to have more fun in the chicken when the husband returns home.  We miss him!

I’m linking this up with MPM