Tag Archives: mental health

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.

 

 

And Then There Was Light

Darkness comes before the light.

You’ve heard that before, right?  BUT have you ever stopped to really think about what it means?   To think about how that simple, yet powerful phrase, applies to so many aspects of your life?  Of any of our lives?

even

Life isn’t easy.  Let’s just say that and get that out of the way because anyone who has been on this planet for more than 5 years (and hasn’t been living in a bubble) can attest to that.

“Darkness” can refer to SO many things – pain, depression, tragedy, relationship problems, health problems, addiction, career issues…the list could literally, go on and on.

If there wasn’t darkness, would you be able to appreciate the light?  To appreciate the good things that come your way as the black veil dissipates and the light shines through?

To be honest, for me, I’m not so sure I would be able to.  It seems, when you’ve had pain or struggle or any kind of “darkness”, the good stuff that eventually comes your way is SO much sweeter because of it.  (It’s kind of like when you put a pinch of salt in cookie batter – it brings out the sweetness exponentially.)

Is that human nature?  Or me just not being able to appreciate something without a kick in the pants?  My guess is – it’s probably a little of both.

Here are some things that I believe and have learned about darkness:

  1. The hard times are…well…HARD but they WILL be followed by good times.  I truly believe that no matter what you are struggling with, there will come a time when it is only a distant memory.
  2. It makes you STRONGER.  You will be amazed at how capable you truly are.
  3. There is a REASON for it.  It may not be evident at first (or for a long time) but I truly believe there is a reason for everything – whether it’s to teach you something, teach someone else something, or pave the way for others.

We will all have to suffer through darkness in our lives – in varying degrees- for short or extended periods of time.  There’s no doubt – it’s part of being alive.

BUT

Here is something else I believe:  There WILL be LIGHT in the end.

sunrise

Stay strong.  Keep fighting.  What you want…what you need…is on the other side of the black night.

 

This is Summer

Summer time can be wonderful.

The word Summer written on a sandy beach, with beach towel, starfish and flip flops (studio shot - warm color and directional light are intentional).  Note: extreme wide angle shot with curvature of field and focus on the word Summer.

The kids are home from school, the sun is shining, the pools are open and there’s plenty of time to do family activities that may not be possible during the busy school year.  There’s time to play together, eat together, vacation together….

But summer time can also be CRAZY!  Did I mention that the kids are home from school?  All the time?  Like every day?

Did I mention there’s plenty of time?  Plenty of time…for them to fight with each other because they are bored.  Plenty of time to get on each other’s nerves…and to get on my nerves because they don’t know what to do with themselves…plenty of time to whine about being bored and plenty of time to drive me to drink wine nightly.

bored

Summer time can be especially crazy for people in the military because it’s PCS season (permanent change of station).  Not only is school over and your routine is shot, but you are having to pack up and move.  Sometimes across the country.  Sometimes to another country – as is the case with our family!

This summer has been especially crazy for us – moving out of our house, our house that we brought our third child home to, a house on a street where the neighbors were absolutely wonderful to living out of suitcases while visiting family for several months as we prepare to move overseas.

moving-day

This life is CRAZY.  Being a military spouse is crazy.  Having little kids ages 5 and under is crazy (and exhausting) BUT…as I played with the kids in the pool this afternoon…as I watched them splashing and laughing…an overwhelming wave of something came over me.  It’s a feeling I’m not really sure how to describe but I found myself thinking – This is what summer is all about.  Just being together.  Playing outside.  Laughing together.

And for those moments that we were in the pool together…for those moments that they were smiling from ear to ear as they took turns jumping to me- I realized – this is summer.  This is what it’s all about.

Hell, this is what LIFE is about- moments of pure joy, of being in the now, of being present with your kids and the people you love…only to be broken by the sounds of the kids bickering over a ball and whining over whose turn it is with said ball.

Life is filled with GOOD things.  Life is filled with BAD things.  But…get this…

The beautiful thing is you get to CHOOSE which things you dwell on.  You get to CHOOSE which things matter in your life.  You get to CHOOSE which things to remember, and which things to discard.

lifeisbeautiful-e1458411303728

CHOOSE wisely, my friends.  You only get to live once.


In honor of summer boredom…I’m going to share some of my favorite, HEALTHY summer treats to make with the kids!

Chunky Monkey Banana Ice Cream

chunky-monkey-banana-ice-cream-vegan-gluten-free-7

http://www.emilieeats.com/chunky-monkey-banana-ice-cream/

Healthier Fruit Pizza

FRUIT-PIZZA-1-220x280

http://www.layersofhappiness.com/fruit-pizza/

Healthy Pineapple Dole Whip

Healthy-Tropical-Dole-Whip

http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/healthy-dole-whip-smoothie/