Category Archives: family life

The Good, The Bad and The Change

So…here’s the deal…I’m going through some changes right now – some major and some not so major…

Big Change Numero Uno,  is, of course, moving to another country.  That, in and of itself, has been more stressful than I expected it to be.   And, on top of that, I am often left alone to take care of my three small children (did I mention I was in a foreign country and have only been in that country for 3 months?) while my husband travels regularly.

 

The emotional upheaval of it all has been so much more than I bargained for.  However, here I am, still standing (or sitting as the case may be).  I’m alive.  I’m breathing.  I’m healthy.  My family is healthy.

Really and truly – there is nothing more important in the entire world.

When change occurs – and if you are alive, there’s no avoiding it – you have two options:

  1.  Embrace it
  2. Run like hell

I’m not going to lie – option number 2 is often much more appealing-but over the years, as I’ve progressed through this health and fitness journey, I’ve come to realize that change is NECESSARY.

Change is what PUSHES you.  It’s what CHALLENGES you.  It’s what makes you BETTER.

It is NOT easy.  No.

It’s NEVER easy.

BUT…if you can be strong enough to endure the storm (and I know YOU are), then the wind and the rain will eventually dry up and the sun will shine above you – a bright, golden orb in the clear, blue sky.

To be honest, right now, I am in the midst of the storm.  The waves are thrashing.  The wind is howling and I can’t see five feet in front of me.  The things we take for granted back home – like grocery shopping, buying lights for the Christmas tree, recycling and getting gas – can be some of the most frustrating processes here.

I had breakfast (at Ikea- quite the hip thing to do here it seems) with a group of other moms and one mom put it best when she said:

“There is nothing more humbling than moving to a foreign country.”

Will things get better?

Absolutely.

Do things suck right now?

Kind of.

Do I have faith and hope that eventually, some day, I will like it here?

Yes.

So…along with these personal changes that I’m going through…I am going to be making some changes to this blog.

I am SUPER excited about these…

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A Day in the Life posts
  • More recipes that are easy, healthy (of course) and family friendly
  • More health and fitness tips
  • A new travel section – filled with funny stories plus tips on how to stay on track while traveling plus lessons learned when traveling with kids and so much more
  • Ideas for activities to do with the kids during the winter months
  • Motivational pieces
  • Inspiration and self-esteem building
  • My workouts

Basically, the bottom line is this: I will be sharing more of my day to day life with you so you can get ideas on how to live a healthy, well-rounded life yourself.  Sure, I can sit here and TELL you what to do and give you a step-by-step list…or…I can SHOW you.

When, you might ask, will these changes take place?

January 2018!!!!

New year.  New blog.  New me.  New you.

And, in honor of all of these changes, here is a new recipe I tried that my whole entire family loved (including my in-laws)!

Almond Butter Blossoms

Almond Butter Blossom Cookies

 
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 20 small cookies

Ingredients

Cookies:

Chocolate drops:

  • 2 oz 4 TBS unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 TBS pure raw cocoa butter grated
  • 2 TBS pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

Make Chocolate Drops:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with wax paper, set aside.
  2. Melt together chocolate and cocoa butter and stir until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup and sea salt (optional) and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer chocolate mixture to a piping bag fit with a circular tip and pipe onto your prepared baking sheet into the shapes you want.
  5. Transfer to the freezer to set. Keep frozen until they are added to the cookies.

Make the cookies:

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together almond flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and coconut sugar. Set aside.
  3. Add almond butter, coconut oil and maple syrup to a large microwave safe bowl or medium saucepan.
  4. Melt ingredients in the microwave or on the stovetop, then stir until completely combined.
  5. Add almond milk and vanilla and stir until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix until combine and there are no lumps in the batter.
  7. Scoop the dough into 1 TBS portions, roll into balls and place on your prepared baking sheets. These cookies do not change shape much in the oven, so be sure to form them into the shapes you want.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until the cookies look set and just began to crackle.

Putting it together:

  1. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press one chocolate drop into the middle of each one.
  2. Let cookies with chocolate in the center sit on the baking pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool!
  3. Eat and enjoy!

Source: https://joyfoodsunshine.com/almond-butter-blossom-cookies/

*Recipe notes*

  • I used Hershey’s kisses (definitely makes the cookies less healthy BUT it’s 10 x easier)
  • You could also melt some dark chocolate and put dollops in the center of the cookies – a slightly healthier option
  • You could use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips also – Much healthier and cleaner (but I can’t find any here and they are super expensive on Amazon)
  • I used peanut butter instead of almond butter (because I didn’t have any)

 

Langsam, Bitte

Ever since we found out we were moving to Germany, my husband and I started working on learning German.  (We have been using Duolingo – a free app and Rosetta Stone -just in case anyone is interested in learning a language).

In German, “Langsam, bitte” means: Slowly please.

This has been my mantra the past few days…ever since I took my son for his 9 month check up.  Which, by the way, it’s like I blinked and he’s already 9 months old.  How did that happen?

At the doctor’s office, I began filling out the standard questionnaire.  You know, the one where they ask about fine motor skills, communication, etc.

IMG_5090

As I sat there, with the pink clipboard in my lap, the pen in my hand, and my son smiling up at me from his car seat, I realized something.

I couldn’t answer many of the questions.

Does he look for an object if you cover it up?  I don’t know.  I’ve never tried that.

Does he use his thumb and forefinger to grab something?  I think…maybe…I’m not sure…

Does he pick up a small object with one hand?  Um…..

Does he toss a toy back and forth between his hands?  Well…I’ve never seen him do that…

Does he say words like “ma”, “ba”, “ga”?

That last one…that last question…it was like a punch in the gut…the one where I thought to myself “I can’t believe I haven’t noticed that he isn’t doing this”.

Until I read that question…until the doctor mentioned that he had some concerns about his communication skills…I had not noticed that he is so quiet.

Talk about feeling like a crap mother.

The doctor assured me that there’s no need to worry YET.  After all, he was born a month early but it is something that we need to keep an eye on.

Holy.  Shit.

It’s not so much about me being worried that he will have problems communicating (and if he does he will just get speech therapy).

It’s the fact that I haven’t been paying ATTENTION.

It’s the fact that I have been running in twenty different directions, trying to do EVERYTHING – trying to exercise daily, to eat perfectly clean, to cook healthy dinners, to get the kids signed up for after school activities, to volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, to go see the sights, to meet friends, to do laundry, to read to the kids, to get them to bed at a decent time, to finish unpacking the house, to work (I work from home, auditing charts), to go on a date with my husband, to find decent babysitters for the kids, to learn the language, to learn the socially acceptable ways to behave in a German village, to navigate the German grocery stores…I could go on and on and on.

After that doctor’s appointment I realized I need to slow WAY down.  I need to STOP worrying about the next thing that needs to be done and just PLAY with my kids at the park.  Just sing to my baby and read him books.  Hold him and take time to sit at the table and feed him, instead of shoving a cracker in his hand as we run out the door to the next activity.

stop

All that matters is that we are healthy.  We are together.  And I will figure this all out…eventually.

Langsam, bitte.

Slowly, please.

In a world where we want everything YESTERDAY, remember that life is PRECIOUS.  Life is fleeting.  Life is NOT guaranteed.

The little moments are TRULY what matter the most.

**************************************************************************

As a side note, one of the things that has helped me slow down is the Crockpot!  I throw dinner in there in the morning and it’s ready in the afternoon.  Instead of spending time in the kitchen after my daughter gets off the bus, I can spend time playing with my kids.

In case you find that you need to slow down as well, I wanted to share a few crockpot recipes from my current online accountability group that have been a hit here at my house!

Pumpkin 3 Bean Chili

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS:

o 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

o 1 cup onion, chopped

o 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

o 3 cloves garlic minced

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

o 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

o 2 teaspoons chili powder

o 1.5 teaspoons cumin 1.5 teaspoons oregano

o 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

o ½ teaspoon sea salt  o 2.5 cups vegetable broth

o Toppings: Fresh cilantro Avocado Scallions

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and pepper, sauté until tender.

3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

4. Transfer to Crockpot.

5. Add remaining ingredients to Crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

6. Top with fresh cilantro, avocado and scallions

 

Chicken Enchiladas

10 servings, about 1 cup each

INGREDIENTS:

o 1 tsp. olive oil

o 1 medium onion, chopped

o 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

o 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped

o 1 lb. raw ground chicken breast (or whole breast cut into strips or bitesize pieces)

o 1½ cups dry farro, rinsed

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained

o 1 cup frozen corn o 1 (15 oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), no salt added

o 1 cup water

o 1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce

o 2 Tbsp. chili powder

o 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

o 2 tsp. ground coriander

o Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

o 1 cup shredded jack (or cheddar or Mexican blend) cheese

o 3 medium green onions, chopped

o ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.

3. Add garlic and jalapenos; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until jalapenos are soft.

4. Add chicken; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Place chicken mixture, farro, beans, corn, tomatoes, water, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, and coriander in a 3-quart slow cooker; mix well and cover. Cook on high for 3 hours, or until liquid has been absorbed, and farro is tender.

6. Remove lid and stir mixture. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Add cheese; mix well. Cover until cheese has melted.

7. Top with green onions and cilantro; serve.

*You could use brown rice if you can’t find farro

*I got already cooked, diced chicken from the refrigerated section
 

Hello, World

I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks and here’s why – we just moved to Germany!  And let me tell you, it’s been a RIDE.

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is in the Army.   Several months ago we got orders to go to Germany, and now…well…here we are.

germany 4

I’m going to be real with you.  My exercise routine is shit right now.  I’ve been eating a lot of crap (partly because I wanted to try some of the authentically German treats and partly because the first 2 weeks we were here the jet lag was so bad it was like I was in my first trimester of pregnancy).

 

I’m homesick.  I miss my family.  I miss the familiarity of everything back in the states.  And the driving here – whoa!  It takes some getting used to.  I have not ventured out very far unless my husband has been sitting in the passenger seat.  It’s like I’m a teenager all over again with my learner’s permit.

The first day we got here, my daughter and I couldn’t even figure out how to flush the toilets.  And the shopping carts here – you can’t just take one.  They are all locked together and you have to put a coin in the slot to release one.  When you return it, you get your coin back.  Well, before someone took pity on us and told us that, my husband was quite a sight trying to figure out how to get a shopping cart.  He was yanking.  He was pulling.  He was muttering to himself.

I’ve gotten lost several times already walking around on base.  I’ve thrown my kids in the back of a stranger’s car (a soldier’s at least), sans car seat, and gotten a ride to my daughter’s school to go pick her up because I was 20 minutes late.  I’ve been stranded at the grocery store, with my baby and a cart full of groceries, for over an hour, because the taxi stood us up.  And yet again, I sat my kid on my lap and got into the backseat of a stranger’s car, with my groceries in the trunk, and got a ride to our hotel.

We bought a car off the “lemon lot” and I’m afraid to say we may have actually gotten a lemon.  I only had it 2 weeks before it had to go in the shop…It needs a new muffler…which they have to order from the states…

It has, literally, been one thing after another.  I have gotten a few workouts in here and there.  I’ve had a few healthy meals and a few not-so-healthy meals.

Wah, wah, wah, right?

I mean, here we are, in Germany, in this beautiful country, in Europe, where we have the chance to experience other cultures, try new foods, learn other languages and travel…and here I am…bitching…

So, now, here’s where the cool part comes in:

The OLD me would have continued to focus on the negative and the fact that our lives right now, every day, have been a true comedy of errors.  I would have decided that this is going to be the worst three years of my life.  I would have cried.  I would have spiraled into a depression.  I would have dug my heels in and begged my husband to take us back to the states.

germany 5

BUT…now…being in this particular situation of just moving to another country with three children in tow…I can truly see how far I have come.

There are times that it really sucks right now.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  My nerves are frayed.  I have very little patience for my children’s shenanigans.  My husband is stressed.  I’m stressed.  There are tons of partially unpacked boxes in our house.  There is a TON of trash piling up in the garage (not to mention bags and bags of dirty diapers) because we have yet to receive the trash cans our landlord ordered for us.  Our dishwasher doesn’t work.  We have an ant problem in our dining room…and yet….

Despite all of this, (this is the cool part), I KNOW it’s all going to be okay.  I know that once we get settled, we are going to love it here.  I can see beyond all the shit (and I do mean, literally, all the shit in the diapers in our garage) that this is going to be a once in a life time opportunity to travel and explore and learn and grow and make many wonderful memories with our family.

 

 

Perspective is Everything

It all started with a Facebook post…a Facebook memory, actually, that a woman shared on her Timeline recently.

when1

It was a picture of her daughter, 2 years ago, sitting poolside, in a tankini, eating a sandwich.  It was summer.  The sky was a crystal clear blue.   The sun was glistening off the gentle waves in the water.

The caption she wrote with the picture reads:  Really missing our pool days this year.

See, her daughter, who is 7, is fighting cancer for a  second time.  And instead of spending the summer outside, drinking up the sun and swimming, she and her daughter are spending their time rotating between the children’s hospital and The Ronald McDonald House.

Here is where the perspective part comes in…

I have three, healthy children but they have been driving me crazy this summer.  There’s been a lot of bickering and not listening and acting out because Daddy is away at school.

I have found SEVERAL gray hairs that were not there a few months ago.  I have had more wine in the past couple of months than I have had in the past year.

It takes 2 hours, literally, for us to get ready to go to the pool.  There’s the packing of the pool bag (which is often interrupted by breaking up fights between my children) – change of clothes for 4 people, snacks, water bottles, extra swim diapers, baby wipes.

Then there’s the part where I have to get all the kids changed into their swimsuits.  I have to fight with my toddler to put it on because everything is “no” these days.

Then there’s the part where I have to get them into the car.  This, as many of you Mamas know, is like herding cats.  All of the sudden they can’t find their shoes that I have been asking them to put on for the last 30 minutes.  And then the baby makes a dirty diaper and I have to change him.  And then my daughter decides she needs to bring 5 books, 3 dolls and a pen and paper so she can writer her own book.

“Can you carry these, Mommy?”  She asks me as she thrusts her superfluous items into my hands, which are already full with a  pool bag, diaper bag and a baby in a car seat.

By the time I get everyone strapped into their seats – I’m exhausted.

There were days this summer that I found myself hoping it would rain so that going to the pool wasn’t an option.  Sometimes I would find excuses as to why we couldn’t go.  Sometimes I found myself rolling my eyes and losing my patience as I tried to get everything ready while they yelled at each other about whose turn it was to play with the little red car.

And then…that post popped up in my Newsfeed…and I thought – Well, shit.

Those two, that Mama and her daughter, would give anything to be able to go to the pool every single day, no matter how long it took them to get ready.

This weekend, I took the kids to the pool every day.  And as I wrestled my toddler into his bathing suit, stopped to feed the baby and packed the millions of things into the pool bag, I was grateful.

pool

So grateful that I could take my kids to the pool…that we could spend the afternoon there and play Sharks and Minnows and eat watermelon.

Life is ALL about what you make of it.

There are some things you can’t control, of course.  BUT – there are some things you most definitely can – like your thoughts and perspective.

If you change your perspective, does that change everything?

My answer:  YES.  (Case and point:  I happily packed up the pool bag this afternoon PLUS packed dinner for all the kiddos and the whole time I was thinking – even as my toddler, in nothing but his swim diaper, ran away from me as I tried to get him changed – this is going to be fun)

NEVER lose sight of what is TRULY important.

We live in a busy world.  It’s easy to take things for granted.

I will continue to try to do better.  I hope you do, too.

If you would like to learn more about this little girl’s story or how you can help through monetary donations, then go here:

https://www.facebook.com/TeamSavannahFightingLeukemia/

Start at the Beginning

Let’s say you are at the book store.  You’ve got your coffee in one hand and the newest, just released, thriller from the hottest New York Times Best Selling Author in your other hand.

Document

You sit down in a cushioned chair (that has an awful floral pattern on it).  You  put on your reading glasses.  And you turn to….

The middle section?

To the 40th chapter?

To the last page?

NO!  Of course not.

You begin…at the beginning.

the

Everything else in life is no different than this…starting a new career, a new relationship, a new fitness program, a new hobby…no matter what it is….you have to begin at the beginning.

So why is it, then, that after spending, let’s say, a week, exercising religiously and following a meal plan to the exact number of carrots we are allotted per day, we throw in the towel because we aren’t seeing results?  Because the scale hasn’t moved?  Because that dress still doesn’t fit?

Y’all!  It takes TIME.

We are a society of instant gratification.  We (and I am definitely including myself in this “we”) want it NOW.

You can’t expect to start doing a fitness program by doing 100 burpees when you’ve never even done one.  You can’t expect to look good in that bikini after a week of exercise.  You can’t expect to have end results when you are still at the beginning.

Everyone has to start somewhere.  The MOST important thing is that you just START.

If you want to start exercising…than just START.

If you want to eat healthier….than just START.

If you want to switch careers…than just START looking for a new job.

The month of August has just begun.  A new month.  A new  start.  A new chance.

192156-Hello-August

What will YOU do to START working on your dreams?

___________________________________________________________________________

In honor of new beginnings and a new school year already starting in some areas, I wanted to share some tips on how to pack a healthy lunch for your kids!

  1. Skip the juice box!  It has tons of added sugar and unnecessary calories.  Pack milk or water.
  2. Pack a balanced meal.  Include fruits, veggies and protein
  3. Breakfast for lunch is always a hit!  Pack a hard-boiled egg, turkey sausage and a multi-grain waffle with berries.
  4. Make your own lunchables.  Bento boxes are a fun way to pack a variety of foods into your kid’s lunch.  Here’s an example – you can find tons more on Pinterest.

lunch 1

5. Dessert is okay – in moderation!  Give them one cookie instead of a whole package.  Better yet, make your own cookies at home, with your kids, and put one in their lunch – they will be proud of their contribution!