Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beginners Sabbath School Room

I cannot take full credit for how adorable this classroom is. I only re-arranged the furniture, the fantastic paintings on the walls were there when I took the position as co-coordinator for the year. As the kids come in, they get greeted by whoever we assign as "secretary". Each child gets a name tag clipped on. I firmly believe that by calling kids by their name, we really engage them into what's going on.
This is not a drop-off class. Parents are required to attend with their children. This makes it difficult at times because parents can get a little chatty.

My little helper being silly!

The classroom chairs are arranged in a square, but the front edge has no chairs. There is a felt board on the wall, a table for props, the easel and birthday chair. The songs and lesson are written on huge cards and placed in the flip top easel. I have to continually encourage the parents to help sing.

There's a shot of the temple and the blue felt board. Notice the memory verse on the felt board. I've got to find a creative way to hang up our memory verses though-out the room.
This is such a great room to teach in. First we do a song service to warm the kids up. Then we do the routine songs - ringing bells, tick tock sticks, Bible Book song, and have opening prayer. Then we do the interactive lesson. During today's lesson, the kids clapped out their memory verse, took turns rocking their baby in the cradles, placed families up on the felt board, jumped around and "grew" to a growing song, pretended to be the "people" in the Joash story - bringing offering to the temple, and then "painting" the temple with giant paint brushes. Then we sang This Little Light of Mine, while snack was being handed out. Everyone eats their snack sitting on the floor, listening to the story of Joash (or whoever we are studying that month). Then when snack and story are over, the kids go to the round tables and do the craft that has been set out for them. The three year olds love to color, cut and paste everything in sight.
It's going to be a super fun year!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Welcoming the little ones at church

This year I am co-leading our 3 year old classroom at church. The class is scheduled to start at 10, but inevitably there are at least half of the parents that can't seem to get there until 10 minutes after class has started. Our Children and Women ministry pastor suggested that back when she taught the class years ago there was a short song service to welcome kids as they were coming into the classroom. This means that class "starts" at 10 minutes after now, to make up for the late stragglers.To create an interactive song service, I took the top 10 songs that the 3 year olds are familiar with . This in itself was a difficult task to undertake, because there are some great songs like Father Abraham, that are fun movement songs, but too long for a short song service, and there are some songs like Our God is an Awesome God that my 3 year old knows, but purely because an older sibling (or two) might have taught it to him.

Our songs are:
If You're Happy and You Know It
Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes
This Little Light of Mine
Happy, Happy, Home
My God is to Great
I'm in the Lord's Army
Jesus Loves Me
Peace Like a River

And a few others that have slipped my mind.
The little wooden shape is hot-glued onto a craft stick. On the back of the craft stick I wrote the name of a song in black marker. I have the flower pot lined with tissue paper and then filled with marbles (left over from our old fishtank, thoroughly cleaned). The marbles make it easy to stick 4 or 5 sticks into the planter. Once there are five or so kids in the classroom, I let one child pull out a stick and we sing the song. I was nervous because this is not a drop-off class, the parents actually stay with the kids in this class. It worked out great and the kids loved singing a bit to warm up before starting the lesson.

Week 1 challenge: where did those calories come from?

I belong to Weight Watchers. I read the message boards, but I don't quite put in all of my foods lately. A big part of that is because since my husband got sick, I tend to do a LOT of comfort eating. Or I tend to think a bite here or there doesn't count. Yikes, I was really wrong on that last one - yesterday I ate 4 Oreo cookies and when I plugged the points in, it "cost" me more than my regular lunch.

Anyhow, on the WW boards, there are weekly challenges named super-cute things. Most people scroll through the board and find their "clique" and chat with them via a string of threads. I confessed to my friend, Amber, this week that I need to focus on finding more real life friends that can give me real life hugs when times are tough, versus cyber-friends. I still enjoy the cyber-friends that I have, but I need to have some balance with some face-to-face friend time, too. Does that make sense? Therefore, I read a bunch on the boards, but I don't really jump into any one group.

I get support from my Mommy-friends that have kids in my kids' classes at church (where we will be heading in about an hour). We've been issuing little challenges every once in a while. I thought I would share them here for anyone else that's interested. All of our challenges are related to health. A few weeks ago, there was a challenge put out there to take the pressure off of "the scale" and put the control back on being healthy. You'll notice the ticker is gone off my site - because the constant visual reminder that I'm not where I want to be was really weighing me down. I put the scale a way for a bit and then pulled it out again this morning. My last recorded weight some time last month was 150 pounds (my goal is to be 125, I'm 5 ft, 3in). My weight this morning is 147.2 pounds. It is what it is, and I'll still weigh every once in a while because I am an objective data kind of person, but I've gotten over the obsession of jumping on the scale every time I pee. :)

This week's challenge is directly a result of my 4 cookie Oreo binge. I wouldn't really call 4 cookies a binge, but if you knew how many points they were - I could have gorged myself on some vegetables. With no further ado - this week's challenge: watch out for sneaky calories. I plan to write down in my new health journal (aka, spiral notebook found in unpacking this week!) all of the condiments that I use this week - mayo, salad dressing, butter - etc. All those tiny things that either I add or anyone else cooking adds to the food - I'd like to research how many points I'm spending, but also the real side of food - the sodium, fat side. And come up with some healthier alternatives.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My deepest fear

I'm cleaning out some areas of our home office , tidying up and sorting through papers. I came across a crinkled paper in one of my old loose leaf notebooks from my college days in the mid-90's. I can remember the day one of my nursing teachers handed it out for worship. It makes me stop and think about my life every time I read it:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you NOT to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give permission to let other people do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our own presence automatically liberates others.

- Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech

Thursday, July 9, 2009

4th of July Flag Cake

Joshua saw a picture of an American Flag cake on the cover of a magazine last week and decided that we needed to make one for the 4th of July.

We used angel food cake for the cake itself.

Cool whip for the frosting.

He counted out the 50 blueberries.

And tried very hard to make 13 stripes alternating strawberries with no stawberries.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

This is my super-fast dinner, with help from the crockpot.

In the morning, toss a few frozen chicken breasts into the crockpot with a bottle or two of BBQ sauce. By the time you get home, dinner is made. Take two forks and shred the chicken. And voila! Dinner is made.

Don't forget to pick up some fresh bread from Publix on the way home.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For Bill's birthday today, I made a carrot cake with cream cheese icing from scratch. I didn't get a picture of the cake, so here is a picture snapped while Daniel was napping and his attack dinosaur was standing guard.
4 eggs
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose baking flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup applesauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pans.
2. In mixer, beat together eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, applesauce. In seperate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add dry mix to wet mix in mixer. Fold in carrots, pour into pan.
3. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
4. To make frosting: In mixer, 1 stick butter, 1 block cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla and 4 cups powdered sugar - mix until frosting is desired consistancy.

Lunch Guests Menu

Today we had Mom and Bill over for lunch. Bill's 65th birthday is today. It's hot, hot, hot and with Bill's health, his appetite is really poor. Bill is also very sensitive to smells, so I didn't want to cook anything "smelly" - good or bad.

Today's lunch fare:


Seriously, what a great plan for a non-messy lunch for when we are having guests! We had fresh baked bread from Publix, 2 different deli meats, 3 different cheeses, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, mustards, mayo - and anything else one could want on a sandwich. The easy-peasy part of this is that most of these things are normal items from our refrigerator anyway! The huge sandwich making bar was a great hit. Paired with some chopped fresh fruit, and baked tortilla chips - everyone was happy!

While this seems like such an easy solution, it was really eye-opening for us. We've been wanting to introduce ourselves to visitors at church and invite them to lunch at our house after church. However, it's always really hard to figure out what strangers would want to eat for lunch. But we're thinking this sandwich making bar just might be a step in the right direction! How do you do a quick lunch for guests on short notice?

Hot summer night dinner and yogurt woes

It's a hot, steamy, stormy night. I didn't really want to fire up the stove, and it was too stormy to grill out. A bento-type meal was in order!

Tonight's main fare:
Peanut butter cracker sandwiches
Chopped fruit

With a big glass of ice water

My concern is this: I've spent way too much time reading the yogurt labels lately. Yogurt is really high in sugar. I don't want to do Light or any other low-sugar yogurt, because then the sugar is replaced with a chemical alternative sugar substance, and I'm even less of a fan of sugar substitutes than I am of pure sugar. I've tried Greek yogurt, and honestly, I'm not a fan - it actually makes me gag to even think about it.

I'm considering making my own yogurt. Anyone else try this? I'm gonna need some tips!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taking time to reflect

I haven't posted on our family blog or this blog for probably the longest hiatus since I've begun blogging. I just needed some time to really think about if I wanted to continue blogging. I get very afraid of the written word. Since this is only one dimension of communication, I worry that my words could be read in a way that gives them a different meaning than what I had intended.

I had taken a bit of a break to really think about what was going on in my life and to prioritize. As I've shared, my step-father is very seriously ill. He's doing great all things considered and is planning to come over to our house on next Sunday for his 65th birthday.

I'm also 6 months into my new full-time job and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the large amount of responsibility. I can now admit that after the first 2 months into my position, I really enjoyed spending quite a bit of time with the upper management of this large healthcare institution. I started to think that was the direction that I should move in. I even met with a few college recruiters to consider an MBA, which is the next logical step for me for leadership in healthcare. However, it's such a big decision, I couldn't do it without lots and lots of prayer and reflection. I've had some really large nudging in the other direction, showing me that middle and upper management is not my calling. I enjoy my job, and I'm consistently told that I'm doing a good job, but I can't put my finger on what doesn't feel right - there's something there that I just know that this is just a stepping stone launching me to something completely different. So, after some serious consideration, I'm hoping to have my application to the Frontier School of Nursing complete by the end of July. I'm planning to obtain my Masters in Nursing with an emphasis as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I'm not linking to the school's website, but if you have time, check it out - the history behind it is fantastic and I'm really excited about the school. Nearly two years ago one of my best friends was trying to talk me into going to the school with her, I wasn't able to go because I had not finished my Bachelor's degree yet. She's now almost through and I am so excited for her.

Hubby and I have started going to our friends' house for Bible study on Friday nights. Last Friday night we took the motorcycle and it was a fun ride over there. It's a great group - the host family and our family are in our early thirties and three other couples are young dating college couples. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like the more turmoil my life is in, the closer I feel to God. And because He knows my every feeling right now, I'm finding it really hard to offer even the most benign "thank You for our food" type prayers without feeling teary. It's really hard to explain.

Anywho - this is what's happening with us and why I've been absent. I've decided to continue to blog because it's a great outlet. But I've also decided that my days of trying to keep a daily record of what the kids are doing - yeah, that's pretty much over. I need to spend more time living in my life, and less time typing about it. :)

Fresh Fruit Crepes

All I can say is, "yummy!".
Last week for dinner one exceptionally hot night, I made fresh fruit crepes. I have to admit that I actually purchased my crepes from the grocery store, instead of making them from scratch, even though it's super-easy to make crepes, I've just been on over-drive lately with being so busy.
1 package of crepes
assortment of chopped fresh fruit
I let the kids help me put these together. Basically, just pile the fruit in the middle of the crepe, dollop with yogurt and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of granola over the top. I used Kashi cereal since we were fresh out of granola. Which reminds me that I need to post my recipe for granola - it's super easy and super yummy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuna Patties


1 large can of tuna, packed in water, drained
1 box of Stove Top Stuffing prepared
1 lg egg
1 chopped onion
1 chopped celery

1. Smoosh all the ingredients together into little patties.

2. Cook over med-high heat until cooked through and crispy on the outside.


Cold Tortellini Salad

Tortellini - cooked and cooled
Whatever else is in the fridge :)

Tonight I added:
Cherry tomatoes
Chopped broccoli
Chopped red and yellow peppers
1/2 can of garbanzo beans
1 chopped cucumber
1 small can chopped olives

There really aren't any directions - just mix it all together in a pretty bowl. Set on table with a few different salad dressings. My oldest likes Lite Italian. The middle likes Ranch. The youngest likes Mustard Honey (or Honey Mustard, for the over 3 crowd!).

Strawberry Banana Ice Pops!

This weekend, I made some strawberry banana smoothies - but I excluded the greek yogurt this time - so it was just strawberries, bananas, orange juice and ice. Yummy! The best thing about making smoothies is the leftovers! I pour our leftovers into our ice-pop makers.

We've got a few different types of ice-pop makers. Some folks advocate using a paper cup and popcycle stick, but I'd rather use something re-usable, and with a smaller serving size. So one of My Favorite Things this week is my ice-pop maker. I get to give the kids wholesome Popsicles.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Breakfasts are getting better!

A while back I asked for and got some great suggestions for breakfast foods. I've been allowing the kids to help me make breakfast on a one-to-one basis. This morning, Megan and I made toasted half-bagel peanut butter and banana sandwiches with gian strawberries on the side. The kids had Bubble Juice to drink. Yummy!

Bubble Juice AKA Omega-3 Supplement

My tip for getting the kids to take their Omega supplement is to mix it in their orange juice to make Bubble Juice.

Egg burritos- make mine Buzz Lightyear!

Now that the kids are out of school for the summer and I don't have to rush out the door in the morning to sit in the drop-off lane, I've been making a warm breakfast. I forgot how good it feels to start my day with something other than a banana and a Luna bar in the minivan on my way to work.
We purchase our eggs in the 18 count boxes because of our family size. Shortly after Easter, I came across these eggs with Disney Characters already stamped on them. After checking them out, I decided to give them a try. After all, it adds fun to whoever is helping me when they get to pick the eggs.
So Daniel loved helping pick an egg for each person earlier last week when we were making egg burritos.
Shredded Cheese
Whatever chopped veggies are laying around (we usually have a bunch in the fridge)
Whole Wheat tortillas
1. Scramble eggs, in the last minute or so, toss in the chopped veggies - I like 'em to stay a bit on the crunchy side.
2. Warm tortilla for a few minutes (I just keep the toaster oven on low and pop the tortillas in and out as needed).
3. Pile in center of tortilla some scrambled egg/veggie mix, sprinkle with some cheese, wrap and enjoy!
We keep a little salsa and sour cream on the table for dipping if needed.
I really need to make some and freeze them for mornings that I need to get to work early. We also have this for BFD some nights.

Pizza yumminess

I just thought I'd throw out a brag that my husband makes the best home made pizza ever. He makes the dough from scratch - but he won't let me have his super-secret recipe. Although, it totally cracks me up when he calls me at work to ask if we need anything else from the store because he's out of King Arthur Bread Flour. He's going to be a great Mr. Mom come July when he's finally done with his service in the Coast Guard.
He makes bread dough at least once a week, and a huge batch of it at that! We probably eat pizza at least once, but mostly twice a week. He takes the kids to the store and has them help pick toppings. They've come home with different colored peppers, banana peppers, olives, mushrooms, turkey pepperoni (which I'm not a big fan of any pepperoni, but they are), roma tomatoes and some fun speciality cheeses. I'm not sure if we'll ever order delivery pizza again!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

'Bout time I post another recipe! Sheesh... Really, we have been eating some yummy, yummy stuff around here.

With no further ado - Peanut Butter Pie

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
1 cup peanut butter (we use all natural pb)
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temp - don't even think about using fat free)
12 oz. Cool Whip
1 small jar hot fudge
1/2 cup sugar

1. In the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar.

2. Gently fold in the Cool Whip.

3. Spoon mixture into pie shell.

4. Cover with warmed hot fudge (be sure to save some to garnish!)

5. Put in fridge for a few hours (I did overnight).

6. Just before serving, spread additional Cool Whip on top.

7. To garnish - I took a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, and a few tablespoons of hot fudge and warmed them together, smooshed them into a plastic baggie, snipped off the tip and doodled on the top of the pie. It looked lovely. Unfortunately in my haste to serve the pie, I did not get a picture. So you're just going to have to make it to see how yummy it is!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Very valuable job interview tip

Yikes, I'm complaining twice in one night.

But I seriously have to get something off my chest. I'm in the process of interviewing for a nice position with nice benefits at one of the top employers in my state, and one of the top 5 hospitals in the nation. I am less than impressed with the lack of interview skills people are coming to my office with.

So, please, promise me that you will never, and I mean never ever, bring a Burger King sandwich to your interview and then proceed to eat it in my office.

That's your friendly tip for the day.

RSVP now for the pity party being thrown tonight!

Alright, so I know this is ridiculous, but I just need to stick it out there...

It's different living in Florida vs. living on a small island in Alaska. Let's face it, when you live in a community with only one major grocery store, everyone really gets to know one another. Now I'm really struggling with how BIG Florida is. Don't get me wrong, we've lived here before. But here's a little secret - when you leave, time really does go on. People marry, or divorce, or have kids and devlop way different parenting views than you; basically - we are all in a process of changing the person that we are. Sometimes true friendship can look past these things, and sometimes it changes the person that was once your friend so much that the friendship isn't exactly ruined, it's just not the same.

Don't get me wrong, we've got friends, we've got family, we've got a nice life. It's just that Florida is just so BIG, that it's not what I'm used to. I want to go to the bookstore tonight and get a decaf drink and browse books. I wish I had a girlfriend that lived close by to call up and invite to go with me.

That is all - just my sadness that the close friends that we had when we left Florida have all changed. Or maybe it's me that's changed. Not horrible changed, but just different changed. And the new friends I'm making through work - all seem to live in 6 different directions.

Interesting how the Coast Guard life really fosters friendships because everyone gets to know everyone else after a while, and chances are when you are restationed somewhere, it's pretty likely that either you'll know someone there, or you'll know a friend that knows someone there and you'll automatically have at least one person to hang out with. Now that we are all but out of the Coast Guard, it's starting to feel a little lonely out here.

I'll be okay. I'm still going to the bookstore in a little bit after I put the kids to bed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'll never get to quit working, ever.

Today was the last day of school for my 6 year old and my 5 year old. I decided to take a late lunch and pick the kids up from school and transport them home to daddy. Megan was all excited about the last day of school. She wanted to know if it was my last day of work. I was going to tell her that it was not my last day of work, but Joshua answered for me by telling her that grown-ups never get a last day of work, they have to work every day forever. Boo, that's a sad thought.

Sadder though, is that if I plan to retire at 65 years old, I have another 32 years of working. That's one year less than I've been alive. Interesting to look at it that way.

As Providence would have it, I'm feeling more and more like I need to enroll in classes for my Masters degree. And lo and behold, the tuition reimbursement advisor was at the cafeteria today when I was grabbing some oatmeal for breakfast at the hospital. How's that for a push in the right direction. Because seriously, if I finish a Master's program in 2 years, I'll still have at least 30 years of working to use it. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finally, a good picture of me!

As done by my fantastic 5 year old daughter. Notice my big smile. I love that that is how she sees me. She doesn't see my muffin top or my split ends. She just sees my smile.

Cheating while making cookies!

Seriously, if my kids waited until I had time to make cookies from scratch, it might never happen. I do have days when I can go all out and do everything from scratch. But the reality of it is that I am a full-time working mom, every once in a while I need a little help.

Help last week came from The Immaculate Baking Company's awesome oatmeal raisin cookies. house smelled fantastic while these were cooking, and the texture is just absolutely perfect. My kids loved these cookies. In fact, they point them out at Publix every time we are there.

One thing I love about these cookies is that the company is really into promoting folk art. We've got some awesome folk artists here in Central Florida, and I'm crazy excited (that's like Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch excited!) about promoting Folk artist.

Okay, I'm done raving. Just know that when I can't find the time to make my own from-scratch cookies, this is absolutely what I'm reaching for - healthy, no trans fats, awesome cookies!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dude, where ya been?

Pardon my temporary hiatus while I continue to work on next school year's curriculum. I've actually decided against purchasing a big box curriculum and have now decided to do more of a "unit based" school year.

By breaking the year down into 2 week increments, it is a whole lot less frightening. Especially considering that it will be my husband that will be home with the kids during the day while I'm at work. We plan on using a tag-team type of approach.

I have so, so much to blog about -
*I'm actually brave enough to write my own homeschool curriculum.

*I think I'll apply for Spring 2010 entrance for a Masters in Nursing Leadership.

*I got a new treadmill for Mother's Day - and I've been using it.

*Although, I did gain 5 pounds and am back at 150 - I'll readjust my side thingy later. I had zero willpower when I got all sorts of foodie gifts for Nurses Week.

*My husband and I have been cooking together and I have a bunch of yummy recipes to share.

*I volunteered to co-lead the 3 year old Beginners group at our church for the next school year. It's a really challenging room, and it needs a ton of help. The parents are really disconnected in there.

So there you have it.

Am I the only person that volunteers for way too many projects at once?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Whine and Cheese (well, yogurt!)

The kids and I went on a hike this weekend. I've been trying to take pictures of me and the kids together because I feel as though they are growing so fast that I don't want to forget these times. I've never been camera shy before, but lately I see pictures of me and it makes me want to cry. It's funny because my mirror tells me that I look fine, but the camera is telling me a whole different story. Oh well, I'll just keep working harder!

Some good news - I won an AWESOME Yoplait kids pack full of fun stuff to play with the kids. Megan over at Megan's Munchies was having a give-away and I was one of the winners. The kids were so excited to see that there was a box on my front steps today after work/school. We opened up all the fun sporting equipment and played around with it all. Then Megan (my Megan) claimed the lunch pack for herself and asked me to pack her lunch in it tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Movie Night Snacks - Bento Style

Movie night at our house is usually on Saturday night. Since we eat a large lunch on Saturday, nobody is hungry for dinner. So popcorn and fruit is our Saturday night staple.

Last Saturday's movie treat was: plain air-popped popcorn, mixed green/red seedless grapes, 3 dark chocolate Newman cookies, 2 oz of 2% colby jack cheese. Yummy!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Buns - He is Risen!!

Originaly from Saturday, March 22, 2008. We did not make these this year, yet. I'm considering doing this for a Wednesday night worship type activity this week, as we continue to talk about what Easter is all about.
Resurrection Buns

Grands biscuits
Melted butter
Cinnamon Sugar

1. Flatten out each Grand biscuit. Brush with butter and place marshmallow inside. Discuss the relation between the while marshmallow and the purity of Jesus. Annoint with spices and seal up tomb by wrapping biscuit around marshmallow and pinching to seal. (I brushed tomb with more butter and sprinkled more cinnamon sugar.)

2. Cook according to biscuit directions (350 degrees for 18 minutes worked for us). Take out of oven and let cool - if you slice them too soon, they will collapse, they need to cool for it to work right.

3. Once cooled (about 20 min or so for us), slice in half. Notice that the marshmallow is gone. Discuss why the tomb is empty.
These were so fun last year. I ended up doing the activity for Joshua's Sunday School class last year. I miss our church family in Alaska.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thanks all and other thoughts

Thanks so much for the kind comments and the emails. I am more upset at my reaction to the situation, than the situation itself. I had a nice humbling quiet time earlier today and I know that I'm just going to take things one day at a time - or else I run the risk of sliding down that slippery slope of being overly dramatic. However, I reserve the right to pass out sparkly invites to pity parties every few weeks or so when reality creeps up and rares it's ugly head, reminding me that I have the potential to have a really full plate if I'm not very careful.

I struggle all the time with my faith and my times of lack of faith. Around this time last year, the pastor at the church I was attending gave a fantastic sermon about the passover. It moved me to tears. Basically the bottom line was that it was up to the parents to be strong in their faith when it came time to decide if they were really going to put the lambs blood on their doorways to be "passed over" - it was essentially a very visual life or death situation based purely on faith and believing. I thought of that service today and I could hear Pastor Mark's voice in my head and I remember how emotional I felt that day - just pressured worrying if the decisions that I'm making every single day are the right decisions. It used to be so easy when I only had to worry about myself. Now I have a husband who is fighting his own demons, 3 children who are just old enough to begin to really misbehave and push buttons and now parents that need attending to.

On the way home from work today, "The Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns came on the radio. I've heard this song hundreds of times, and it moves me to tears each time. Faith - that's my prayer need lately, to just be still and have faith.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just call me Balogna

My younger sister, Pam and me.
*sigh* Here is goes...
First, allow me to mention that I don't eat balogna.
Secondly, I fully understand now where the term sandwich generation came from.
I lost my father nearly 6 years ago. He died of pancreatic cancer. The bittersweet part of the story is that I got the call that he passed away and then just a few days later, I found out I was pregnant. Megan was then born on Dad's birthday (by my choice since she was an elective C-section).
This past week, my step-father (which I don't ever refer to him as that, I usually just call him Bill, or Mom's husband - and he is wonderful to her) was diagnosed with multiple cancers in his abdominal cavity. Mom had to call me to ask me what Palliative Care means. I could do a fancy wikipedia link, but the reality is that palliative care means comfort treatments without the intent to cure. Bill has lost 23 pounds in just under 2 weeks. Realisticly, I know we will be losing him soon.
This means that my mother, albeit she's only in her 50's, will be living alone. This wouldn't be an issue, however, in the past 2 months, Mom has had 4 TIAs. A TIA is a mini-stroke. We first realized Mom was having these mini-strokes when she was driving to go meet the other grandkids somewhere last month and she ended up having to pull over to the side of the road to call Bill to tell him she couldn't remember what she was doing and where she was going. Obviosly, Mom cannot live alone.
My husband has already decided that Mom will come live with us whenever she is ready. I can't help but feel incredibly selfish because I don't know if I can handle having one more child. I'm so overwhelmed as it is already with 3 kids.
I just needed to get it all out there so that I can try to clear my aching head. My little sister and I had a meeting today (while the kids all played under the supervision of some friends at Chuck E. Cheese) and the reality of it is that I am the only sister that could handle Mom living with me. I'm just tired of being the responsible one. I'm tired of being the middle-child peacemaker. Maybe I'm just tired....Maybe I'll go re-read Matthew 11:28.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Uncompromised Savings

Let me first say that the snacks that Joshua picked out were a huge hit in the lunchboxes this week. And he felt so great picking out healthy snacks that are also fun!

Our Publix trip today was super-successful! I paid $129.63 out of pocket for the week's groceries. I saved $73.66 in coupons and other deals. I'm noticing that it could be very easy to get caught up in the couponing thing and start purchasing unhealthy items just because they are Buy One Get One Free (B1G1). I pass by coupons all the time for foods that would be cheap, but also not nutrient packed.

A great example of coupon use today was my purchase of Tropicana 50. Tropicana 50 has 50% less sugar. We rarely drink any other juice than orange juice. The only reason why we drink orange juice is because I mix the kids' fish oil supplement in it. Anyhow, Publix has Tropicana 50 on sale for B1G1. There was also a coupon holder right under the Tropicana 50 for $1.00 off one carton.

So my purchase looks like this:
1 carton at $3.79 and one free = 2/$3.79 - 2 $1 off coupons (one for each carton)= 2/$1.79 or about $.90 each. I purchased 4 of the cartons spending about $3.60 for all 4. If you are following the math - it means I purchased 4 cartons of healthy orange juice for less than the regular price of one carton.

Another great advantage today is Publix's Buy Theirs, Get Ours sale. Which means I purchase a national brand and get the Publix equivalent for free.

So my purchase looks like this:

Purchase Newmans Own Salsa for $2.59, get the more expensive ($2.99) Publix Greenwise Organic salsa for free.

Yippee for savings!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cool kid snacks/lunches

It's nearly the end of the school year and my kids are showing some resistance to taking healthy lunches to school.

Usually their lunchboxes follow this regular skeleton:
- Mots for Tots juice box (watered down apple juice)
- Sandwich
- Something from the fruit drawer (I have different fruits chopped and ready to go in the crisper drawer)
- Something from the pantry snack box - we do a lot of Annies Cheddar Bunnies and TLC's crackers.

They don't get a morning snack and their afternoon snack is supplied by the school.

Joshua is nearly 7 now and he's been eye-balling his friends' less than healthy lunchbox treats. Today we went out and picked out a few things that add a little fun to the lunchboxes. I'll try to add some lunch-on-the-run posts to the blog for the realistic mother on the go. I worked some seriously long hours last week, so many of the treats in my kids' lunchboxes will probably be pre-packaged items this week as I continue to catch up on things around the house that did not get done last week.

Mouse vs. House

Movie night this weekend had us watching Stuart Little. We've read this book as a family and are a big E.B. White fan. However, it's been over a year since we've read this book, so the story line wasn't as fresh in our minds as it could have been. When Stuart gets kidnapped, Joshua began to cry because it was so sad. He's such my tender hearted one.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Dad in Stuart Little is played by Hugh Laurie aka House. I was thrilled to see Hugh Laurie in a more family friendly role. Just as I began to breath a sigh of relief that he wasn't going to be calling anyone a "moron", the bad cats began to use words that I would prefer not be a regular part of my children's vocabulary.

Overall, it was a cute movie, a sweet story and at least it wasn't a cartoon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Modesty Help

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about modesty in our children. Especially little girls. The conversation came after I was disgusted from a shopping trip to Target to get my newly 5 year old little girl some shorts to wear this summer. All of the shorts are little short-shorts. I'm really looking for a Bermuda short type style for her. She loves to run and climb and tumble and often times in short-shorts I can see clear up her shorts to her underpants. Anyhow, the conversation swayed away from modesty in our children, to modesty as adults.

I have to admit that my pet peeve is "peeping" bra straps. Or *eek* even worse, no bra when one is really needed. I came across the Strap Perfect at Wal-greens one day last week and decided to give it a try. I have a few favorite bras that seem to creep down my shoulders after a few hours. The Strap Perfect was fantastic. I was able to wear a one of my favorite tank tops out with the kids over the weekend and my bra straps stayed put. I felt much more comfortable knowing that not everyone could see my teal colored bra - I still want to wear fun/funky underclothes (you know, keeping the whole spice alive after 10 years of marriage), but I don't really want to share my choice in underclothes with everyone that I pass by. So in that respect, I really like the Strap Perfect and recommend it if you've got some slipping shoulder straps.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I totally splurged!!

I splurged today. I spent $80 on a CHI flat iron. I love it - my hair is straight and shiny. I really needed to either cut my hair or find something to give it some oomph. After my $8 box of light brown hair color and my 3 minutes of straightening my hair, I feel like a whole new woman. I really didn't want to cut my hair, since I'd like to see it just a bit longer.

(Oh, why the hair color you ask. I'm 33 and no grey hairs. Somehow the sunshine is fading/stripping my brown hair into an orange-like carrot top hair color. I wear a hat most of the time when I am outside for fun with the kids at the park. I'm sure I get this from my mom. Her hair is red - but a much prettier auburn color, not carrot-top color. And my grandmother died in her 70s without any greys.)

My caveat is that I love red hair. My husband was a flaming red head when we met. I just like my dark brown eyes with dark brown hair.

Spoiler Free - Movie Recommendation: Radio

It was movie night tonight at our house. We watched the movie Radio - staring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris.

There were a few parts that made my very loving 6 year old son weep. He does not like to see any kind of meanness or bullying.

I don't want to spoil too much of the movie, but the bottom line is that this is a fantastic family movie. I get tired of sassy, sarcastic animated movies - so I was thrilled when this movie came in my red Netflix envelope.

Tasty Crockpot Chicken and Beans

Now that I'm getting into my groove of being a full-time working mom, I'm anxious to use my crockpot more often to give me a hand with getting dinner started. This week I made a no-recipe discovery that was incredibly yummy!

Put in crockpot:
4 frozen chicken breasts
3 cans of black beans
1 can of Rotel (the tomatoes with the chilies)
1/2 can of water

Cook all day on low (around 8 or so hours).

The original plan was to either shred the chicken with forks and scoop the mix into burritos - add melted cheese and sour cream.

Instead, the kids asked to dip - so I added a little bit of cheese to everybody's individual bowls and some scoop chips on the side. It really had the potential to be so much healthier - but heck, it was so very delicious!

MFT - Food from the Deli

Another My Favorite Thing... I've read multiple different times about people using food from the deli and using it as a base for their meal. Instead of building dinner around the deli, I used my deli purchase to make some take-to-work lunches.

I purchased a cooked roisserie chicken (seasoned with lemon pepper) from my grocery store (on sale, of course) for $4.99. I chopped and diced and de-boned and did all sorts of fun things with my chicken to get every piece of meat off of it. I know some people would boil what was left to make stock, but, remember, I'm taking baby steps.

Since the chicken was already flavored nicely with the lemon pepper, I chose to just stuff some whole wheat pitas with the chicken meat, lettuce, tomato and a little bit of mustard. It was fantastic!!

Potato Salad

Yummy! It's hot, hot, hot for what we are used to during the winter time. Hubby loves to have cold salads in the fridge for when he comes in from working on the yard. Right now he's taking chunks of leave to relandscape the backyard. Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 cups cubed potatoes, cooked
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup dill pickle relish

1. Mix mayo, mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper in large bowl.

2. Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Cover.

3. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled.

Notice Megan's packed cheeks. The girl loves potato salad!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


We've had an extreemely busy week. For the first time in a long time, my hubby has been home for 10 days and counting now. Funny, most of my friends can't quite get their lives figured out when their husbands leave...we're just the opposite. Our whole routine gets flipped upside down and we spend so much time just hanging out (as opposed to following my cleaning schedule or prepping for meals after kids go to bed, etc). So while it's been Spring Break for my kids, I have to admit, we've all taken a little bit of a break.

One of our favorite quick meals is Haystacks. We've eaten them at least 3 times this week!


-Fritos (oh, yes, let me clarify that Fritos is a must, if you use some other kind of corn chip, it's just not the forget about healthy for just a little bit!)
- Bush's chili beans, no beef (2 cans)
- Vegetarian refried beans (non-veg ones are way high in fat, so even if you aren't trying to go veg - I'd still recommend vegetarian ones to make up for the Fritos! )
- chopped lettuce
- chopped tomatoes
- chopped olives
- shredded cheese
- salsa
- fat free sour cream
- guacamole

1. Mix the 2 beans, warm up.

2. Put everything in serving bowls and line up in the order listed.

3. Send everyone down the line buffet style to make the perfect haystack. The Fritos must go on the bottom, then the beans, then the rest.

Super easy. My kids really enjoy making their own haystack.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Look - the ticker is moving! :)

I'm down 1.2 pounds this week and I'm super excited about it! I just thought I'd share. Keep it up everyone else who is working hard to take control of their health. Thanks to everyone cheering me on.

How's your goal coming?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not giving up anything for Lent

My late father was Roman Catholic and every year I'd hear him declare something that he was giving up for lent. Most times it was something tongue-in-cheek like Rabbit Stew so that he could not fail at his goal. I heard quite a few people talking this week about giving up soda and chocolate and all sorts of "worldly" things. Quite truthfully, I don't think I should be giving up food items for Lent because I'm already on a "take better care of my body" kick.

Instead I've decided to gain something during the Lent season. I'm going to spend 30 minutes each morning in meditation and prayer. I'm hoping this time will be something that I can cherish and look forward to. My sacrifice is that I spend so much time talking when I pray, I'd like to really spend more time listening and just being.

May this Lent season bring you peace and reflection.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SOAP Isaiah 40:31


“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31


This scripture couldn't come at a better time. I've been feeling tired and weak. I'm feeling the struggle of being a working (mostly single) mom. My house is a mess. I have two weeks worth of mail that I haven't even sorted. My taxes are not done. I think I have clothes at the dry cleaner that need to be picked up. And the list goes on and on for home duties that I have fallen behind on. At work, my email in-box is slowly getting full of simple and not so simple requests as more people are meeting me and learning who I am and what my role is. This means that often times I start a project and don't really get to finish it in my time frame. I've been putting out fires for the past 2 weeks. Basically, between work and home I feel as though I am all over the place.

Because there is so much to do, my prayer lately has been one of thanksgiving that I am healthy enough to get these tasks accomplished, that I am fortunate enough to have a great job in this terrible economy, that I am surrounded by a husband that is crazy about me (a complete 180 degree turn from where we were this time last year) and 3 kids that are truly wonderful kids. However, aside from thanksgiving, I need help. I've been praying, "Lord, I'm handing it over to You - I can't prioritize this mess around me. Help me to get done the things that You see as the most important things for me to do, and help me to find the strength to do these things. Let me not just check these tasks off of my to-do list, but let me do these things which You've placed for me to do with a loving heart that others may see Your light shine through me."


I have found that by simply handing it all over, I have gained so much strenth, speed and clarity. I know that this is not just my doing. I know that the Lord has got to be helping me push through the exhaustion. I've had some amazing moments this week where I've been running late for important meetings and miraculously I've managed to hit all green lights on my way there. Completely unheard of in Central Florida! I also average well over 20, 000 steps a day (in heels on workdays!) and I don't ever feel the sheer exhaustion until an hour or two after the kids go to bed, and then I feel myself begin to nod off and I finally feel have to give myself permission to stop whatever I'm doing and go to bed.

My husband is in a class all week about transitioning from being in the military to being a civilian. There are so many things that I could be nervous about right now. But it's almost frightening how the control-freak in me has decided that there is no use in me worrying about what's to come. I know that whatever happens during this transition, the end result will be the same. I can either fret about the amount of work that I need to do and the scarieness of becoming civilians, or I can soar above it all like a confident eagle keeping my hope in check.


Lord, I just can't even find the words to thank You for the changes in my marriage, and the health of the kids, our financial situation, my job stability, and the list could go on and on. Just knowing that I don't have to fret about anything is beyond comforting. Thank you for my daily strength.

If anyone would like to write their own SOAP note about Isaiah 40:31 or about another scripture - leave me a comment and I'll come check it out! I get my scriptures from A Woman's Walk at Crosswalk. On Sunday night, I pull up the scripture for the week and write it in different locations around the house to help me to hide it in my heart.

Yipee for friends with good breakfast ideas!

I posted a little while back about trying to improve on my breakfast selections for the kids. I have been blessed with a few friends that are kind enough to share their tried and true kid-friendly breakfast ideas.

Michelle, over at Her Cup Overfloweth, has a fantastic post about tortilla toast. As soon as I saw the yummy picture of the tortilla, I was flooded with memories of my oldest son and his love for tortillas when he was a little guy. I think Joshua lived on cream cheese tortilla sandwiches as our on-the-go type lunch for most of his toddlerhood. Even if you're not in the market for breakfast ideas - I'd recommend a jog on over to her site to check out her awesome Muffin-tin Mondays (yippee for bento-style meals!), and super fun crafts (I see a paper caterpillar in my very near future!).

Paula has some Organizing Tips and Thoughts for Moms. One of the many awesome tips she has is for me to decrease the morning stress by taking more time to prep the night before. Genius! How is it that something so simple can be so effective? I will testify that I put everything in the minivan the night before now (except my briefcase), and not only does it decrease the amount of things I need to do in the morning - packing lunches, signing permission slips, those types of things - but it has also decreased the distractors for the kids. With the backpacks out of the entryway, there are no speed bumps between the shoe closet and the front door!

The Day Family wrote all about her breakfast suggestions in this awesome post. I need to take a lesson from her and freeze some of my healthy muffins for quick on-the-go days.

Thanks fellow bloggers for all the great tips! Keep 'em coming!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce

I don't have a spaghetti sauce recipe. I just kind of throw a bunch of stuff together and let it cook for a while. Last night I tossed some left over chicken breasts (real chicken to eliminate confusion, since we do use vegetarian chicken quite a bit!), some canned tomatoes (I love Muir Glen), a bunch of fresh herbs, some tomato paste and a few other things I found hanging out in the fridge (I think there's some eggplant and broccoli in there, again left overs from earlier this week).

So now, I've got a bunch of yummy chunky sauce ready for dinner tomorrow night. Monday nights are always rough around here since I returned to work.

10,000 Steps before 10am

There is a Biggest Loser competition at my job. Instead of being based soley on pounds lost - there are other categories for tracking - inches, steps walked, percentage of body fat and of course the pounds. I also have to give a baseline of how many sit-ups and push-ups I can get done in one minute.

It's fun to see everyone checking their pedometers at work (which we were able to purchase for under $10). It also makes everyone laugh together because we are in this together. Just last week, one of the doctors brought in Krispy Kreme donuts. I can remember being pregnant in Kodiak and wanting a KK so badly. However, since I've been back to Florida, I thought it would be fun to take the kids to watch the donuts come fresh and hot off the press and I somehow was disgusted by the whole thing and couldn't even eat my donut that I bought. Anyway, just a whoot whoot that I did not eat any KK donuts last week. In fact, I'm not too sure much of the staff got to eat them because I had to be the mean one and say they couldn't be in a patient care area (nurses' station, hallway, etc).

Back to why I have 10,000 steps before 10am today...our church has a Sunday morning group called Witness4Fitness. It meets at 8am for a worship then walking on the trail. I was saddened that not too many people joined us, so I'll be calling some moms this week and dragging them to the trail with me! There is a nice little park that the kids played in and then we walked back home.

Anyone else counting their steps? Or am I the only person slightly obsessed with the number displaying on my hip?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rice Milk

I'm not a milk-drinker. When I was pregnant with Joshua, I loved milk. But only Nestle Quick chocolate milk and it had to be really cold. Hmmmm....perhaps that contributed to the 65 pound weight gain I had with him!

We recently started buying Rice Milk and the kids seem to really be enjoying it. Let me make it clear though, that we've never really been the type of parents that pour our kids a glass of milk and expect them to drink it. I've never bought into the whole theory of humans drinking milk produced by another animal. It would just seem like cow's milk would help baby cow's to grow. I think of how fast my kids grew when they were just drinking my milk.

So, to answer the question that I've been asked quite a bit lately - we're using Rice Milk as our source of milk. The kids have it in their cereal bowls and tell me that they like it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Planning lunch this week - NSV (non-scale victory!)

For the next two weeks, I've got some serious projects happening at work. Which means that I probably won't even see the inside of my office - I'll be giving trainings and going to meetings, then giving more trainings about what was discussed in meetings. Unfortunately, between my office and the 4 clinics that I am responsible for, not to mention the main campus of the hospital that owns the clinics - I can sometimes be in 6 different buildings, or in my car for quite some time every day.

I know I'll be eating "on the fly" every day for the rest of this week. However, I did manage to manipulate my schedule so that I'll be at the main campus during lunch time so that I can eat at the vegan cafe. I may try to mimic their chicken salad sandwich next week when I am back to bringing lunches to work.

Incidentally, my husband took the pasta salad back to the base with him and called me today to tell me it was fantastic. It makes me feel so good to hear that he enjoys our healthier lifestyle. I think his positive phone call today really helped me to think about lunches this week and make myself a plan so that I don't panic and eat some junk for lunch.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cold Noodle Salad

My husband came home with this recipe sometime last year. I had not had a chance to make it until tonight. Ingredients:

2 cups cold cooked wheat noodles
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced scallions
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

1. Coarsely chop the garlic. Saute in 1 tbsp of olive oil over low heating for 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Mix oil, vinegar, chili pepper, parsley, scallions, lemon and salt in a metal bowl.

3. Add garlic and oil it was cooked in. Whisk together.

4. Add noodles and mix well.

5. Serve at room temperature.

Berry Cookie Cobbler



2 bags frozen mixed berries
1 (21 oz) can apple pie filling
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 roll prepared sugar cookie dough

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix berries, apple pie filling, sugar and cinnamon.

3. Transfer to 8x8x2 dish.

4. Crumble cookie dough over fruit.

5. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spinach Ravioli Bake

1 block of frozen spinach - cooked, drained
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 bag of frozen ravioli
1 small bag of mozarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In lasagna pan, layer sauce, ravioli, spinach, cheese and then start all over again.

3. Bake 30 minutes or so, until everything is warm and melty all the way through.

This is what it looks like halfway through the layering. This is my super-fast cheating lasagna type dish for potlucks. Everyone loved it and I love bringing home an empty dish.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I finally got on the scale

I haven't been very consistent with exercise. However, I've been eating really good. I go to alot of work lunches, and I've been trying to look up the menus the night before to figure my points for my lunch.

I'm down 0.4 pounds since my last weigh-in well over a week ago.

I just found out that I will be going to a retreat with all the residents and med students from my department, as well as the faculty and hospital administrators. This will be in April, and will be at the beach. I can imagine since it is family oriented that it will involve swimming. Ugh. I have to admit that I look pretty good when I'm fully dressed, but when I'm just in a swimsuit - yuck. I think I need make more of an emphasis on toning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SOAP note Ephesians 5:33

Scripture: And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband-that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly (Ephesians 5:33 amplified)

Observation: I think my husband needs to hear on a daily basis how much he is needed. I think it makes him sad when he calls and all I have to say is how grumpy the kids are or even how successful I was at figuring out how to clean the pool. He needs to know that he is my superhero. He needs to know how much I miss him. Years ago when he was stationed on a ship, I used to email him daily telling him how much I love him and how much I miss him. I would make up crazy emails with a top ten list of the things I miss about him, or I would name a loving quality of his for every letter of the alphabet. Then careers and children and business get in the way and it becomes hard to let the silly sappy love bug back out of it's cage. This is definately a part of our lives that we are working harder on. Fortunately, we saved all of those mushy emails, and the homemade cards and the prom coursage from 15 years ago - and it's awefully fun to look at all that stuff.

Application: I've challenged myself to text my husband at least once a day just to say hello and I love you. That is huge for me because I'm not a big text messager. I'm also challenging myself to come up with something creative for Valentine's Day. Fifteen years ago we went out on our very first date right around this time.

Prayer: Lord, I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband. I'm thankful for the fun times we've had together but also for the tough times that really showed us how important we are to each other. Please help me to keep my insecurities and selfish nature in check in order to show my husband the respect he deserves. Help me to show him in both my deeds and words how much I admire him. Help us to make the time to spend more time together as adults. Amen.

This week's scripture is from a devotion that I read on Monday morning at Crosswalk. I can't get my Mr. Linky working correctly and it's past my bedtime, but if you want to play along, leave a comment linking to your post with your thoughts on this and I'll come check it out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Info from the allergist

* This is a duplicat post from our family blog. Because I need for my family to be aware of the food issues with Joshua and because it applies here as well. *

Joshua had an appointment scheduled for next week to see a pediatric allergist. The problem is that our military insurance covers this allergist, by my hospital insurance does not. In a few months, we won't have the military insurance anymore. So I cancelled the appointment with the allergist because this office is very difficult to work with - they only do new patient appointments between 10am and 2pm and only Tuesday through Thursday. That just isn't going to work with my schedule for the next month or so because of some stuff at work that requires my presence. Along with the new patient paperwork that came last week (that I finally got a chance to read tonight when I was looking for the number to cancel the appointment), was some great handouts with a list of foods to avoid until after allergy testing. We'll probably have the allergy testing in April with the allergist that my insurance will cover. But in the meantime, Joshua is just exhausted...his eyes are so dark, his nose runs like a faucet, he coughs non-stop all the time (especially at night) and he's so weepy. I just wish I could make it all better. Since I don't have a magic wand, the next best thing is to follow the list of foods to avoid until our appointment in April.So for now, he is to avoid -
Tree Nuts

We've been fairly successful at avoiding any MSG (otherwise known as "natural flavoring" - how deceptive is that - I'm starting to really dislike the FDA in our country.)

We also try to avoid artificial colorings. I can clearly remember having a little boy spend the night at our house about 3 or 4 years ago and his mom going crazy on me for letting him brush his teeth with Joshua's blue sparkly Spiderman toothpaste. I seriously thought she had gone off the deep end and had gotten a little too crunchy. Yup, now I'm that mom. No food colorings here, and the school thinks I'm crazy.

We've been learning about hidden HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and finding it lurking in weird places.

*Sigh* Joshua's a champ and now knows that he is absolutely under no circumstances allowed to eat anything that is not in his lunchbox.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Breakfast woes for an on-the-go Mom

My kids turn into turtles in the morning. Seriously. Any other time they are out-running me, being loud and fast. Not in the morning, something about seeing me dressed for work makes them move in slow motion like little cartoon people. I know all the tricks - sticker charts, motivation, etc. However, I'm having a bit of an internal struggle lately that I want them to be dressed for school and ready to go simply because I asked them to do it, not because they'll earn a marble or sticker or any other reward. Sometimes I don't have time to turn my house into a preschool. (Mental note - next time consider that when you are thinking about having 3 children in less than 4 years....point taken - I guess my house is already a preschool....see? my internal struggle.)

Anyhow, I'm ashamed to admit that breakfast for my turtles has been either a cream cheesed bagel or a granola bar both of which are usually eaten on the way to school in the minivan. Ouch! How's that for a terrible breakfast?

So my mini-challenge to myself this week is to actually serve breakfast at the table all week. I didn't even purchase bagels at the grocery store this week.

I'm up for suggestions for kid-friendly healthy breakfasts.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Black Bean Soup

This recipe is from a good friend of mine, Heather, up in Kodiak, Alaska. She gave me this recipe just a few weeks before Megan was born - so I've have this gem for over 4 years now. I make this soup all the time!! It comes in at 3 pts for 1 cup of soup.


10 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 c. boiling water
1 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
1/3 c. water
28 oz of undrained canned tomatoes (I like the petite diced)
32 oz of undrained black beans

1. Cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water and set aside.

2. In pot, saute onions, garlic, and cayenne in the oil for about 5 min, stirring frequently.

3. Add cumin, 1/3 c. water and the juice from the tomatoes.

4. Squeeze tomatoes into the pot.5. Cover and bring to a boil.

6. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add black beans and their liquid and continue to simmer stirring occaisionally to prevent sticking.

8. Drain and chop sun-dried tomatoes.

9. Add to soup and cook for 5-10 minutes.

10. Puree half of the soup and return in to the pot.

Banana Carrot Muffins

These are fantastic! Moist and healthy! I made over 56 mini-muffins at 2 pts per mini-muffin.

1 c. sugar
4 eggs, large
5 bananas
1/3 c. orange juice
2 c. grated carrots (can also used mashed canned or frozen carrots)
4 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c. butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-muffin tin.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.

3. In a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid), cream the butter and sugar.

4. Add eggs and juice to wet mixture.

5. Mash carrots and bananas thoroughly (my kids love this part!)

6. Mix carrots and bananas into egg-sugar mixture.

7. Stir in dry mix; only until moistened.

8. Pour into muffin pan.

9. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

*sigh* A terrible dinner night!

I have two sick kids. Joshua, my 6 1/2 year old, has a really bad cold that has really taken him down. Remember, he's my allergy nightmare. As soon as my insurance kicks in with my new job, I'll be taking him to a good doctor that can walk us through more complete allergy testing. The school he goes to is pretty old and has carpet in there that is probably older than I am (which means that dinosaurs probably hammered it down!). Since the weather has been cool this past week, the heat has been on in the school and it really took it's toll on Joshua. I've had to increase his allergy meds and now he is very weepy and whiney.

Megan has been running low grade fevers for two days. Her class of 16 kids was down to about 3 on Friday. There are so many viruses running around. Not to mention the flu...we've seen a 200% increase in positive flu swabs in the past week. I had to do some emergency in-services with the nurses, reminding them to protect themselves with masks if they need to.

My husband isn't home tonight. It's just me and the munchkins. On a whim, I ordered pizza. Without thinking, I ate 3 pieces - nearly 1000 calories and 10 grams of fat. Yipes.

*I will not beat myself up! I will not beat myself up! I will not beat myself up!* Instead, I'll let Jillian do it, when I Shred after putting the kids to bed.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I *heart* shopping at Ross

I've been a little slow with posting because I've been swamped with settling into a routine as a somewhat single working mother.

When my position began a few weeks ago, I was able to go to work in nice pants, a pressed button down shirt and white lab coat and some heels. However, there are some days that require me to be better dressed than others. Yesterday I attended a meeting with the executive nursing staff. I was excited to meet huge leaders in my area. I also knew the importance of the phrase "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". I rocked a smokin' black pantsuit yesterday.

I purchased the suit at Ross for under $50. The original tag was for $340. It feels and looks like a $340 suit. I also purchased a fantastic retro fit, feminine Jackie-O type red suit for wear red for Women's Health day. The original tag is $200, and the Ross price was marked down multiple times to finally come in at $34.

I'm just so glad that I can dress for my job without putting my family in a financial crunch.

Better than Syrup pancake topping - Apricot puree

I don't really care for pancake syrup at all. But pancakes are so quick to make and easy to stash other foods in - mashed bananas, chopped nuts, flax seed, wheat germ - you name it, I've probably tossed it into my pancake mix!

This topping is really easy and very yummy!!

Apricot puree

1 can apricots
1 tsp vanilla

Toss it all in the blender and puree. That's it. I warmed my mixture in the microwave because we served it on a cooler morning.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weighing in on my birthday

I'm down 0.8 pounds - that's with absolutely no structured exercise last week. I'm really having a hard time transistioning to being a working mom. I'm heading out to a birthday celebration - but wanted to share that I am down over 3 pounds since the new year. I'm pretty pleased with that.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weighing in with sore feet

I'm down 0.6 pounds to 147.4. I had a bad week of eating lunch out. I'm still finding my way around my new position. Basically, I'm in charge of the medical education clinics - which are the clinics that are run by resident doctors. These clinics are part of the hospital system and therefore are subject to the same rules that govern the hospital. My job is keeping the staff following these rules, since new rules and guidelines are constantly coming out. It's hard to explain, but suffice to say that tons of new guidelines were put out in November of last year and we will be graded on our compliance in the next few months. So I'm putting together programs and training staff like a mad-woman. However, before I can train them on how to do their job better, I need to understand how their job works. So this week, I've been back and forth in multiple different clinics and rushing in and out of meetings.

I did find a fantastic vegan cafe within walking distance to one of the clinics, and I will probably eat there on the days that I have to be there. And since I was able to arrange my schedule next week to have some predictability, I'll be able to pack my lunch most days next week.

I'm not used to spending 8-9 hours a day in high heels. I was exhausted every day this week and not once worked out. Booo. I need to try to wake up earlier in the morning.

My goal this coming week is to pack my lunch at least 3 days this next week.

Monday, January 12, 2009

SOAP note Titus 2:3-4

After spending my day in hospital orientation discussing SOAP notes with younger nurses, I became inspired to do a twist on a SOAP note for my weekly Bible verse. I am finding that I am not very good with taking the time to hide God's Word in my heart on my own as an adult. I do work with my kids to memorize their scriptures for their Sabbath school classes, but for myself, well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't remember when's the last time I worked to commit a Scripture to memory. I have quiet time in the morning and read a devotional book for soccer moms, but I have to again admit that by the time lunch rolls around, I might not remember what scripture I read that morning. Lately, I've also been taking a little while on Monday nights to plan for the week - meals, kids' activities, chores. I've also been enjoying some extra devotional time with A Woman's Walk from Crosswalk. This allows me to take one Scripture and really spend the week chewing on it.

This week's SOAP note:

(S) Scripture: "Likewise, teach the elder women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love..." Titus 2:3-4

(O) Observation: In my own life, I see that I am in many different positions to influence people that I am in charge of. Whether it be my children or my co-workers, my interactions with others need to be reflecting of Jesus's love, not my own sinful nature.

(A) Application: As a nurse, I work in a field that is mostly women. It is highly competitive and very much like high school at times. It is often said that nurses, "eat their young" because nurses tend to have little tolerance for younger, inexperienced nurses. I witnessed that first hand today at hospital orientation. An 18 year old Certified Nurses Assistant was sitting at my table (along with 8 other health care professionals). We were served lunch and she didn't eat her chicken. As we were all talking about the food, someone remarked that she hadn't touched her chicken and she remarked back that she was daddy's little girl and he still cuts her meat for her, so she wasn't sure how to cut it. Her immaturity came through many times this morning on many different occasions, and I could tell that the moment she spoke, she often times regretted what she had to say. (How many of us haven't been there?). I could also tell that many of the other seasoned nurses were getting a little tired of the constant interrupting or our young CNA. About halfway through the day, I ended up taking the young lady under my wing and making sure she knew who her nurse manager is, and if she had directions to her branch of the hospital. Turns out she just moved here from New York and is in an unstable relationship with her boyfriend and is hoping to start nursing school soon. I was able to tell her about the college affiliated with the hospital and hopefully give her some much-needed guidance. When I think back to when I was a Nurse Tech and going to school, I would have loved for someone to take me under their wing. One of the things I am really hoping for with my new position is to find a mentor that can help guide my career over the next few years. I'm also hoping that my position in Administration can help me to be a mentor and positively influence potentially great nurses that might otherwise give up and run away because of the back-biting and gossip that so often accompanies women-dominated fields.

(P) Prayer: Lord, you know where best to use me. Please help me to be reverent in the way that I live. Help me to walk away from the gossip, not in an accusatory manor, but in a way that my behavior might help others to seek Your way. Amen

On another note, my new friend, Rachel, has inspired me. I'm off to go underline this scripture and make a quick note in my Bible.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grocery Savings and Accountability

This year (2009), I'm challenging myself to try even harder to be a better steward with my finances. I just returned from a trip to Publix where I managed to save $44.03. The total price for feeding my family of 5 (okay, we are only 4 this week) is $83.62.

Some of my best buys were:
* Fiber One cereal B1G1 and a coupon for $1 off 2 = 2 boxes at $1.65 each
* Special K cereal (a favorite among my kids) B1G1 and a coupon for $1 off 2 = 2 boxes for $1.50 each
* 10 Dannon Light and Fit yogurts sale 10/$4 with a coupon for $1 off 10 = $.30 each

I also scored on blueberries, organic salad greens and ground turkey. The key is to follow the sales ad and make my weekly menu from there. Also, by purchasing things that I know we'll eat when they are on-sale, I'm never in a crunch for something. I've never paid full price for toilet paper, tampons, diapers (when we used them) or most toiletry items (except the kids' California Baby - I can't ever find coupons for it!)

I even splurged this week purchasing some Aquafina wild berry flavored water. Kicking the soda habit has been hard, but I'm finding that a fizzy water helps when I am ready to crack. I also had the deli make me a nice sub for lunch, seeing how I got busy and forgot to eat breakfast. And I rewarded the fantastic behavior my kids displayed at the store with a yummy 4-pack of Yo Baby Yogurt drink. I always allow them to pick a healthy treat when we are all done shopping IF I haven't had to get to 3 with them. I've been rather successful with 1-2-3 Magic, but I've put my own positive spin on it. This week was yogurt smoothies, 2 weeks ago was mangoes.

Incidentally, this is my first grocery shopping in the new year. I plan to put a widget on the bottom of the screen that keeps a running tracker of how much I spend on groceries, save on groceries and spend eating out. Eating out is a huge problem for me. Not so much eating meals, but being out and grabbing an iced coffee or a bottle of water from the check-out.

Amazing how now that I eat healthier, I'm actually spending less money? Am I the only one seeing a decrease in my grocery bill since cutting out junk?

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Change in Weigh-in Day - Fat Burning Friday

I've changed my weigh-in day to Friday because I find it's easier points-wise for me to get a whole new set of Flex points for the weekend. You see, I don't really get to choose what I want to eat on Saturdays. Saturdays is our Sabbath Day, as we are practicing Seventh-Day Adventists. So basically, on Saturday, we take a chill day. Heck, if God worked all week and took a rest on day 7, why not us, right? And I'm sure the Lord knows I could use a rest. Anyway, back to my not choosing what I eat on Saturday...
On Saturdays, we got to church at 8:30am, and then I help out in the Children's section while my kids are in class until 11am. By the time we socialize in the foyer (many of our friends are late sleepers and come to the later services, so we are leaving as they are walking in), we don't get home until nearly 11:30am. My mother-in-law has really pushed for us to have Sabbath lunch at her house after church. She used to be a fantastically healthy cooker...until she got cable and became obsessed with the food network. Now my MIL does all sorts of things that are killing my point values. An example would be that if she is boiling corn on the cob, she drops a handful of salt (not a big issue for me, but I don't really like salty foods) and an entire stick of butter in the boiling water. And her new obsession with making salad dressing out of full fat mayonnaise (when I read mayonnaise, it always sounds like the drill sargent in An Officer and a Gentleman) and smearing it on the top of the salad to create an overnight seal. So I find that I try to be nice, but I can't really eat at her house and claim my correct WW points. Nothing is ever unadulterated at her table, she has to spruce everything up. I want to say something to her, but she's about 75 pounds heavier than me and really self-conscious about her own weight, but not really interested in working to change it, so I don't want to ruffle any more feathers. We have started to have that typical struggling MIL/DIL relationship, and it stinks.
So, on Fridays, I get a whole new set of points and I try to estimate what I eat at Sabbath lunch but lately it's been looking like a 16-18 point meal. Yikes. Thank goodness for Flex Points.
Anyway, now that Friday is my weigh-in day, I came across Mommy Snacks and knew I absolutely had to share! I love that she mentions adding fiber to some of her foods like spaghetti sauce. With hubby's colon surgery just a few months ago, we are finding that we need to add more fiber to his diet to keep him comfortable.
And now what every one's been waiting for....can I get a drum roll please....DOWN 2 POUNDS! And that's since Monday.