Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Maui Vacay

These past three months flew by and I am finally getting around to posting photos from our Hawaii trip. It was so nice to relax without the kiddos!  You kinda forget what life is like without the holler of "Mama!  Mama!  Mama!", the dogs needing to go out/come in on a constant basis, someone being hungry and/or needing something 24-7, etc.  Not that we would trade it for the world, but was is quite nice to have a week without all of hubbub that seems to consume our daily lives.  I'll be honest, it took a few days to get used to.  Those first two days we, along with our friends, were a little on edge.  It was as if we were waiting for one of our kids to fall in the pool or something.  This trip was one of the few shining lights in an otherwise daunting fall/winter in 2010.  Our week in Hawaiian paradise:

Seriously?  We're in Maui without kids?!

Can't go to Hawaii without shooting the cliched sunset picture :)!

One of our favorite eats!  Great fish tacos!

Our hotel:  Westin Time Shares

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Magic

Well, our stockings are hung with care and the tree is decked out to the nines.  I cannot believe Christmas is almost here!  Although stressful with the many projects I have been working on, this has been one of the most laid back holiday seasons.  So nice!  This year we sort of mapped out what we were going to get everyone, and did a lot of shopping online (Amazon, Snapfish, etc.)  Only one trip to the mall and that was for just one item I wanted to get for Todd.  I just did not have the desire to wait in long lines surrounded by cranky shoppers and disgruntled employees.  Of course there have been several trips to Target and Michael's, but that is nothing unusual for us.  Costco, Target, and Michael's are our playgrounds.  Although the closer it gets to the 25th the more I try to avoid these places. 
I am not sure if I am getting more jaded as I get older, if it's the economy, or what, but I just don't like the superficial aspect of this time of year (stores displaying Christmas stuff before it is even Halloween?  Really?!)  Yes, I love to give and receive presents (who doesn't?!)  Giving is what this season is about - goodwill toward others.  But I don't like the mob mentality, self-absorption that people fall into, the constant pushing of retail purchases, people buying crap just for the sake of giving something with little thought into the gift itself.  Gifts should come from the heart, have some meaning behind them, or be something the recipient genuinely wants or could use.
Not looking to throw money down the drain, this year we really challenged ourselves to find gifts that measured up.  It took some serious thought, but it was fun.  Working hard to hard gifts with meaning and purpose.  I will admit, there are some family members who are very challenging!
In addition to our quest for thoughtful gifts, we have also spent a lot of time decorating the house.  It is so fun to watch the kids' reaction when their home is turned into a Christmas wonderland.  Maddie gets so excited and Lucas is just in awe.  Despite our objections he loves to play with the ornaments on the tree.  I think at this point it has become a game for him.  Maddie gets so happy she glows when she sees how we have incorporated her projects into our Christmas decorations.  She made some paper houses with Grandma this year that I added to my chipboard village.  Watching the two of them reminds me of how magical Christmas was as a child.  Everything was so spectacular, the world around me seemed to sparkle!  Nothing was tainted with the hustle and bustle of shopping, or the overall grumpy attitude people seem to have.
That magic is my goal.  Remembering the actual spirit of the season.  Don't let the other stuff get in the way.  It is so hard not to get caught up cesspool of holiday worries.  Projects to finish, class parties to attend, gifts to wrap, etc.  But we need to remember, is it the end of the world if the store is out of boxes?  Is it really necessary to berate the employee when the store is out of the size/color you want?  Five years from now is your child going to be scarred for life because they did not get the must-have toy (that will more than likely end up collecting dust by March)? 
As we dive headfirst into Christmas tomorrow stop and take a breath.  Take a moment to remember how magical it all used to be.  The surge of excitement December brought.  The importance of kindness towards others.  And let's all try to recapture some of that, because that is what meaning of Christmas is all about.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Heart My New Iphone

For the longest time I was against getting an IPhone.  I just couldn't justify paying an additional $30 a month for Internet service.  And really, it wouldn't be $30 a month.  If I got an IPhone, Todd would get jealous and want one as well.  That's $60 per month, which winds up being $720 a year.  Ouch!  Almost a $1,000 per year just for the IPhone?  That's a lot of camera goodies I could purchase with that $720, or art classes for Maddie, clothes for Lukey, you name it!  Consequently I could not hop on the IPhone bandwagon no matter how desperately I coveted one.
Then the 4G/new Internet package was introduced and I began to waver.  That $15 per month plan only equals $360 per year!  That is a lot easier for me to justify in our single income household.  Thus with the purchase of our IPhone I have discovered a new love.  Now that I have it I don't know how I ever survived without it.  It is my calendar, my video camera, my phone book, my point and shoot camera, my entertainment, my on-the-go internet (which has come in handy more times than I can count!), my notepad, sigh...basically my life.  So sad considering how anti-PDA I was.  My little tree-hugger self has officially entered the new millennium.  In honor of my fallen pride, here is a random assortment of IPhone pics:

"All done with breakfast, Mama!"

Afternoon stroll in our neighborhood

Maddie decorating the kids' tree

Todd enjoying shaved ice in Maui.  Sooooo gooooood!  Vanilla ice cream, shaved ice, root beer syrup, topped with coconut milk.  Yuuuuuuuuuuum!

The hubs and his "perfect" Christmas lights

Like yogurt much little dude?


Earlier this week Lucas ran out of our bedroom and into the wall.  There were some sobs and tears, but he calmed down rather quickly.  Didn't think much of it.  Fast forward a couple of hours and here is what I found on his poor little melon after his bath:
I guess he didn't hit the wall so much as he hit the corner of the wall.  AAAK!  Poor lil' man!  His bangs were hiding this big, gnarly lump.  Of course, by this time Todd was at work and it was just me at home (these never happen when he's here to help.)  All I could think of was what if he has a TBI (traumatic brain injury)?!?  What if he goes the way of Natasha Richardson?!  I swear after she died from that skiing accident I have never looked at head boo boos the same!  What if I take him to the hospital and they think I did it?!  Fortunately my mom is a nurse.  I called "Nurse Grandma", got some medical advice, and kept him up another hour watch for sings of a concussion.  In the end, all was OK and Lucas proceeded to get a few more lumps and bumps from various accidents throughout the week.  Sigh, boys....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Where Does She Come Up With These Things?

As I am driving Maddie to her dad's tonight we passed one of the larger Christmas tree farms in town.  She took one look at the trees all neatly lined up and exclaimed, "Wow!  They got the hook up!"

Apparently my eight year old has a new catch phrase...  These things just tickle me :)

October Re-Cap

Since I have been gone so long I figured I would just post a photo re-cap from October's festivities. It was a great month. My parents were doing much better, we had Halloween, I got to make Maddie's costume this year (love homemade costumes!), we trick or treated with good friends (including Sarah's mom who was visiting from Nebraska!) and family, our October tradition: Lemos Farm, the Half Moon Bay K9 trials, Todd's birthday, Lucas discovered my shoes (so stinkin' cute!) and the magic of colored pencils (when he wants to color now it's, "col!"), pumpkin carving, and just hanging out/being a family. All in all, a great month!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blog Sweet Blog...

...Oooh how I've missed you!
It has been a ca-RAY-zeee four-plus months since I blogger. In the span of two weeks I almost lost both of parents to serious (yet unrelated) medical dilemmas. Dad had a hemorrhagic stroke and Mom was so busy taking care of Dad that she ignored her own illness until it was almost too late. She came down with a severe case of pneumonia and sepsis. No one should ever have to get a phone call that their mom has been found on the floor unresponsive. UGH! What an awful feeling!!! But both are doing well and are on the mend! Yay for my parents!!
In addition to medical brew-ha-ha Todd and I took an adults only trip to Maui. The trip was great except for my 24 hour bout with the flu. That royally sucked! Fortunately there was only one day where I was really down and out. Due toa lack of appetite my first few days post flu I think this was the first time I came home from Hawaii weighing the same as when I left! No matter how much sun block I used I still got a killer tan. Todd was pissed. He is the one with Middle Eastern heritage and I'm the one who, despite my Western European heritage, gets a tan after being in the sun a mere 30 minutes. Apparently Todd inherited all of the Scottish genes and none of the Syrian. But some of my Maui favorites were the soft velvety sand on my feet, listening to the waves crashing as I drifted off to sleep, the amazing seafood (Duke's!), lounging by the pool with a good book, the shopping, and most of all being there with good friends. Sigh... I love me some Hawaii!
This fall I began an Adobe Illustrator class. With all that went on early in the semester I had to drop my other two classes. But this one has kept me pleasantly busy. My teacher rocks and Illustrator is a program I have grown to love (maybe even more than Photoshop!)
Thanksgiving left us with lots to be thankful for this year! Just having us all here and healthy was reason enough for me! Our little home was filled with laughter, joy, and some fabulous food. My Martha Stewart mashed potatoes and apple crumb pie had enough butter to clog more than a few arteries. My mom's stuffing was to die for! Thick chunks of bacon in stuffing, who woulda thunk it? We had turkey and stuffing sandwiches the next three days. Although delicious, I think I have had my fill of turkey for a while. Even the dogs discovered turkey surprises in their food. I just can't believe I didn't take any photos!
Now we are in the throes of Christmas decorating. Tree up and decorated, check! Department 56 village displayed in hutch and china lovingly packed away, check and check! Chipboard houses on fireplace mantle? Check! Stockings hung with care, check! Wreath above fireplace and a fresh pine scent lingering in the house? Check, check! Plus I have my dining room table decorated, Todd hung the lights outside, and I have my yard decorations displayed along our walkway. All that is left are decorations for the entertainment center, garland along the stairs, decorating the kids' tree, and hanging my banners. I swear, we have been like two busy,little elves since Sunday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Solution for Doorway Clutter

There are countless items that we keep by our door. Which means there are countless obstacles for me to trip over when trying to exit the door. Between Maddie's backpack, Lucas's lunchbox, my purse, car keys and garage door openers, dog leashes, and so on.... For ease and to maintain my sanity I like to keep these items near the door so I am not scrambling around looking for them as I try to dash out ( and by dash I mean running late.) One of my many attempts at trying to stay organized I guess (not that I am always successful at it.)
While visiting friends a while back I noticed they had hooks on the wall next to their garage door. This is where their three kids put their backpacks and all other necessary items. Inspiration struck! This was exactly what we needed in our house. I knew I wanted something to visibly designate each person/dogs' hook. After a lot of inspiration shopping and Internet browsing I settled on an idea.
I purchased six plain wood plaques and dark bronze coat hooks at Walmart. The rest of the supplies came from my craft arsenal. I determined each hook would have a family member's photo and the letter of their first name on it. I used papers from one of my K & Company pads (I think it might have been one of their Amy Butler collections) so all of the plaques would have a cohesive look. Then I added little details as I went along. Here is the final result, they are hanging next to the door as you go out to the garage:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yummy Fruit Shake

Who needs Jamba Juice when you can have one of these? (Although it is nice to have someone else deal with the mess/dishes!)

Yummy Fruit Shake
1 handful each: ice, frozen berries, frozen pineapple, fresh blueberries (preferably organic)
1 banana, sliced into chunks
1-2 tbs. ground flaxseed (high in fiber and Omega 3 fats!)
dollop or two of non fat Greek yogurt (I usually go with vanilla or blueberry flavor)
1 spoonful honey
about 1 cup low fat soy milk

put all ingredients in large cup and blend with a hand blender or a regular blender (I prefer the hand blender, less mess to clean). Add a straw and voila! a tasty breakfast or lunch!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boys Should Come With a Warning Label

Seriously. One big, fat, ha-uge warning label. This label is really needed when the only experience you've previously had was a mild-mannered little girl who was content to sit quietly, and play with toys for hours on end.
Imagine my surprise every time my darling son gets himself into a "predicament." We've learned a lot in the past 19 months, but he continues to surprise us. Most recently was last week when he got his arm stuck, STUCK!!!, in between the slats on my dining room chair. Not sure what happened when he tried to climb it, but there the arm was. For the record, said chair was pushed in so he could not climb it. Joke's on me I guess. I could not get his arm to slide past his chubby little elbow. He was screaming, I was panicking, and Todd was sleeping after a night working the graveyard shift. Crap!! Double crap!!! What do I do?!?! Soap! I need something slippery! Todd! He needs to wake up and help me! Do I call the fire department? Are we going to have to saw the chair? But what about his arm? What if they accidentally saw his arm! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! Oh it gets better, his arm was stuck in such an angle that I could not put him down, I had to hold him so he wouldn't break it. Here I was, holding a screaming baby, we were both in the throes of utter panic as I tried to carry him and the solid oak chair through the living room, over the baby gate, to my bedroom. Halfway there I put Luke and chair down to get a better grip. Somehow that put him at the perfect angle where his arm could slide right out. SIGH! He was fine, I was shaking and in need of a drink just to calm my frayed nerves. Unfortunately it was only 10AM.

Here are some other glimpses into the toddler boy mind that nobody warns you about:
*Outlets are fun and can be mastered by the time you are 10 months old.
*If you want to watch your mom break a sweat climb onto the computer chair and bang away on the keyboard. When she puts you on the floor to fix the computer take off running out the screen door into the backyard. Make sure to squeal gleefully the entire time!
*Chairs and sofas are for climbing and jumping, not sitting.
*Anything that can support your weight provides great leverage for reaching the TV. Just put your makeshift stool in front of the TV, step up and the buttons are there for the taking. Very entertaining to watch Mom and Dad freak out if you happen to own a flat screen. Gosh, they act like I'm going to ruin the screen or something!
*When Mommy or Daddy serve you a food you don't like, or when you are done eating throw it on the floor or the wall. The dogs loooove it!
*If you can sneak into the kitchen pull out all the cookie cutters and watch Mommy hop around on one foot after she steps on one. While she is hopping around proceed to pull out as many sandwich bags as you can. Then as she stuffs them back into the box pull out some tupperware and go splash in the dog's water.
*If after all these shenanigans your Mommy still has some semblance of her sanity left poop in the tub, works like a charm every time! Please note, it is best to wait until after she has dumped in all of your bath toys.

The Dreaded "D" Word, Part 2

When I began wracking my brain about how I wanted to go about changing my eating and exercise habits my goal was to find something I could and would live with. How many of us begin these things with the best of intentions only to fall off the wagon a week later? That scenario is my M.O. I knew whatever I did, it would have to be something I could live with and not get discouraged with. Here is my list of what I wanted from this change:
*I want to eat healthy and NOT be deprived, therefore I need a cheat day once a week
*I want to have more energy, mid-day is the worst for me
*I want to do a smaller workout 4-5 days a week
*I don't want to spend and hour and a half at the gym, it's hard for me to be motivated to go when I know it's going to take that long. There are other things I want to do with my day!
*I want to firm up, well, everything!
*I want to be a good (read: healthy) example for my kids, especially my daughter
*No fad diets or exercises. I want something that is real and works!
My goal was get down to 115 pounds (which meant losing about 17 pounds.) Now this is my goal. If I feel great, look toned and all my old size twos fit at a different weight then I will be happy with whatever number that is. To me it is not about the number on scale, but about how I feel and how my clothes fit.
Here is how I have had success so far...
*I now try to eat complex carbs. I ate whole grains before, but now I eat gluten free bread with sprouted wheat. My pasta is gluten free as well.
*I upped my fruit and veggie intake in a BIG way. I try to eat fruits or veggies with lunch and dinner, as well as snacking on them when I get hungry. This is waaaaay more than I used to eat. I used to just have a salad with dinner, maybe one piece of fruit and that was it. Now I have a fruit shake for lunch, a gi-nor-mous salad with dinner, and a piece of fruit or cucumber and hummus for a snack. I try to buy organic as much as I can. I doubt it helps with weight loss, but it is so much better for you and the environment.
*I began to drink a lot more water. I still have my two cups of java in the morning because let's face it, with two kids I could not function without my beloved cuppa joe! I try to suck down at least three 16 ounce glasses throughout the day. Aside from coffee and maybe one Diet Coke, I try not to consume anything but water. Throughout the week I will have a few glasses of wine. I love me some wine and can't get rid of it. But due to its calories I don't like to drink too much alcohol. I would rather eat them than drink them.
*Meat: Todd and I are not big red meat eaters. We mostly cook chicken and ground turkey rather than ground beef. It is good to make the switch if you are trying to eat healthier. A lot less fat and calories. I still have a burger about once a month. Can't give them up! But as much as I like the occasional burger or fillet I hate how sluggish it makes me feel after eating it.
*Eat less sodium. The bottom line is it is not good for you and makes you bloat. This means no more salami (my fav!) and using reduced sodium turkey for sandwiches. If a recipe calls for salt I either leave it out or reduce the amount. The exception is with baking. I use what the recipe calls for.
*Exercise: For me it was and continues to be hard to find the motivation to exercise. Quite frankly there are other things I would rather be doing. I absolutely LOVE the way I feel afterwards, it's as if I could conquer the world after a workout. So I try to use that feeling to encourage myself. Sometimes it works, other times I just have to drag myself kicking and screaming. The other hard part was finding the time. I just did not have time to do 45 minutes of cardio and another 30 minutes on weights. Just not feasible for me. I try to workout four to five days a week, but I have reduced the time to 45-50 minutes. This helps, what's one hour a day? I alternate between my Tracy Anderson Method DVD (Volume 1 of the Perfect Design Series) and walking on the treadmill. For my treadmill "hikes" I walk at 2.4 mph at a level of 11 or 12 for 40-45 minutes with a 5 minute cooldown. A good friend of mine used to do fitness competitions and recommended this type of cardio. It gets your heartrate at the ideal fat burning zone, firms up the butt, and strengthens your core. To get the optimum workout do not hold onto the treadmill. The idea is to stand up straight and suck in your core to support the lower back. A sore lower back while walking will tell you if you are not holding in your core. The DVD kicks my butt, and I am definitely sore the next day. But sore in all of those hard-to-reach places (ie. the flub that hangs over my bra between my arms and chest, the crease under my booty as well as the sides of it, and that dreaded muffin top that hangs over the back sides of my waistband.) Here is a comical review of one of the Tracy Anderson DVDs. I will be honest, if you have no training in dance (which I don't), do this DVD in the privacy of your own home with the curtains shut. During the dance sequence I swear I look as if I am having a seizure, my white girl moves are in full effect. Just not attractive. Let me tell you, both of these workouts kick. my. ass. But I do see a visible change in the firmness of my body.
The reason for these posts are not to brag about my success, or to act like an expert because I'm not one. I am just a typical woman talking about one of the issues and pressures most of us face day to day. I face weight struggles, motivation battles, fight the urge to snack on goodies when I'm bored like everyone else, and feel the bombardment of physical perfection every day. And let me tell you, it SUCKS! It's time we stopped dieting and exercising purely for weight loss and started focusing on our health. When feeling good about ourselves is the motivating factor it seems much more achievable rather than the size 0 Hollywood standard.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Dreaded "D" Word

Diet that is.

We're going to Maui in two months. One month ago my excitement began to mix with pressure and dread. The pressure to not only live in a bathing suit for a week, but to look awesome while doing it. To be honest, I don't know any woman that is super-excited to publicly live in a bathing suit for a week.

For the past three years I have not been happy with my body. I got married (which also coincided with my foray into cooking) and started a new job where treats were in constant abundance. The result of these two major milestones was a whopping 20 pounds in six months. This was also the year I turned 30 and my metabolism decided it was time to slooooow waaaay dooooown. I hit a number on the scale I hadn't seen since I was pregnant with Maddie. Then I got pregnant with Luke and gained another 40. UGH! I lost the pregnancy weight and some of the marital-bliss weight, but the scale seemed hell bent on not budging past 132. Given the size of my frame and a closetfull of clothes I was unable to fit in, this was not a weight a I was happy with. A 9 pound baby and second c-section did absolutely nothing to help matters. Everything seemed to jiggle and hang where it didn't used to, and if it did jiggle and hang before, it was now considerably worse.

Combine this with all the pressure we women feel every day of our lives to look perfect. Hollywood and society have presented us with these unattainable standards. The bevvy of stick-thin starlets who claim to be skinny by "fast metabolism" alone is enough to make me gag. I mean, really? Your size 0 is not the result of constant dieting and exercising (read: starvation)? I. Don't. Buy. It.

So here I was: miserable with the current state of my figure, tired, kind of depressed about the whole damn thing, and I felt as if I had lost my glow, my spark. And I had been dealing with this for three years! Oh yeah, and bathing suit central (Maui) was heading my way at warp speed. I began to think, "Eff this. Enough is enough. Isn't three years long enough? Time to make a change!" No crash diets, they just don't work in the long haul. The ankle had healed enough that I could now return to the gym, so that excuse was out. Finally I made the choice for a lifestyle change. I wanted to do something I could live with. Something that would make me happy, not feel as if I was deprived every second of every day. I didn't want to feel as if I was a slave to the gym. At this point in my life I just don't have the 90 minutes to 2 hours to spend there on a daily basis.

Well it is now one month after my life change. I am excited to say I have lost 5 pounds, five inches, and have a heck of a lot more energy than I used to. In general, I just feel better. And I am more confident. It feels good to have my confidence back.

So what did I do? No miracles, just lots of hard work and dedication. Although I ate fairly healthy, there were still lots of tweaks to be made to my diet. I cut out a lot of the excess carbs and watched my portions. I greatly increased my fruit and veggie intake. I try to drink a lot more water. Todd and I have a cheat day once a week. We plan for it. We live for it! As you can tell from my posted recipes, I don't believe in deprivation. I love my food. I don't put as much pressure on the gym either. I now exercise 45-55 minutes four to five days a week. No more 90 minute gym sessions.

Tomorrow I will post part two of "The Dreaded D Word": what worked for me and things I learned along the way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thrift Store Treasure

I found this a couple of weeks ago at a thrift store for $2.50 and instantly knew it would look great in the kids' room. All it needed was a fresh coat of paint and candles. I have been into spray paint in a pretty big way lately after checking out Three Men and a Lady. Love that blog!!! She has a lot of great ideas. Amazing what a couple coats of spray paint can do!

When I first brought this home Todd just looked at it and asked, "Why would you waste your money on that?" Fast forward to today... "Wow! That looks great! I like it!" How I love it when hubby is humbled :)!

The print is a vintage rodeo ad I found on Ebay (Luke has the cowboy version) in a barnwood frame. It was on sale at Michael's for 40% off (woo hoo!). I went to Tap Plastics and had them cut plexi-glass to fit in the frame (it hangs over the bed and we live in earthquake country.) The vintage rodeo ribbon I found several years when shopping in San Anselmo with my mom.