Dreams of a 10K

In 2015 I set a goal to run a 10K.  Towards the end of January that year I tore something in the bottom of my foot (MRI was not clear what but guessing a tendon or ligament tear).  It took a full six months to heal.  Then, on Feb 26 (I only remember the date because it was my son’s birthday) I broke my ankle while coming down from my kids’ bunkbed.  It was supposed to be a quick and easy break to heal but I spent the rest of 2016 going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out why my ankle still hurt.  Five months of PT and no relief still.  A natural health practitioner believes it is nerve damage and I have to agree but out of the  3 doctors and one PA I saw, not one of them thinks that is possible.  I tend toward natural approaches though so I will go with my gut on this one.  That practitioner was able to teach me some foam rolling techniques to keep the nerve as happy as possible and some supplements to help strengthen it.  I still live in pain daily but I’ve learned just how far I can push it before the pain increases.

Every person I saw about my ankle said it was safe to start exercising again and I wouldn’t cause further damage so around March of 2016 I started running again.  It was way more walking at first but I did the C25K plan to get my strength back.  I spent all of 2016 just trying to figure out how to exercise and keep my ankle happy at the same time.  I love the C25K plan but started noticing after the longer runs that I was hurting a lot.  I went back to intervals and after lots of trial and error discovered the best interval of running and walking for my ankle.  It involves more walking than I would like but if it gives me the chance to run I will take it.

The entire time I was rehabbing my ankle and trying to figure out how to keep it happy, the dreams of a 10k never left my mind.  I’m not a distance runner at all so I have no desire of a larger race such as a marathon.  However, I would love to push myself a little further than my comfort zone and a 10k is a perfect distance for that.  A normal every day run is normally 2-3 miles.  Before my ankle injury I was doing 4 miles for my “long” run.  I’m just now back up to comfortably running 3 miles but once I figured out the correct run/walk interval for me I’ve been able to increase distance a little quicker.

I’m an extremely slow runner so I’m not doing this to win any races, just to push me a little past my comfort zone.  I really want to run this race in the spring as I’m in the mindset to start training now.  However, I haven’t found a 10k that fits my schedule. There are very few offered this spring.  The one that fits best says it is hilly and that doesn’t sound fun at all.  I haven’t decided if I will do that or will train for faster 5k and then go for the 10k in the fall.  I really want to hit that 10k distance in 2017 as this goal is now two years old.  I don’t want to let another year pass me by.

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An InstaPot Newbie and Mexican Rice

One of my goals for 2017 is to resurrect this blog.  I think of things all the time that are blog worthy but rarely take the time to sit down and write.  I would like to change that so here goes nothing.

For Christmas I received an InstaPot.  My friend Alicia has been trying to talk me into getting one for about a year now.  I kept telling her I didn’t need another appliance in my house.  Well, my smaller slow cooker died this fall.  The InstaPot can also be a slow cooker so I decided it was time to take the plunge.  I could replace the dead pot and add a new appliance all in one.

I have to admit, this thing is a little intimidating.  I’m a great cook and love to spend time in the kitchen but I’ve never pressure cooked before so I’m learning as I go.  I started yesterday with the water test (suggested by the manufacturer to introduce you to the pot and make sure it works) and ground beef from frozen.  I wasn’t impressed with how the beef came out but I chalk that up to user error and not the pot.  The tutorial I was following said if it wasn’t done to turn it on for a bit longer.  My beef was still pink when I checked so I added more time but I think I did it for too long.  The meat is still edible so all is good but next time I will change up the timing a bit.  I liked that I could do several pounds at a time.  I did 2 pounds yesterday so I could use one for dinner and freeze the other for a quick meal later.

Tonight I had planned on simple tacos for dinner but my youngest asked if we could have Mexican rice with it.  Knowing I had this new gadget sitting on my counter I happily agreed to it.  A quick Pinterest search led me to this recipe. It was so quick and easy and my family loved it.  The last few times I’ve made rice it has been mushy for some reason.  This was perfect so I will be making rice in the InstaPot from now on.

So far, my only complaint is that most recipes tend to be aimed at a more advanced user and they forget to factor in time for the pot to heat up.  I’m sure with time this won’t be an issue but as a newbie I’m finding things take longer than I expected because of the water needing time to warm up.

Stay tuned as I discover more features from this new appliance.  I hope to share more recipes and tips as I figure it all out.  In the meantime, feel free to share you favorite pressure cooker recipes.

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Conquering the World 15 Minutes at a Time

15 minsIf you are like me, you feel like there is never enough time to get it all done. I usually keep a running to do list in my head or scare myself by actually writing it all out.  It is scary because there is more to do than humanly possibly.  Some of you will remember the sticky note method I talked about. I’m way more productive when I actually follow that method.

However, last month I went to a conference for my business and the keynote speaker said something that stuck with me.  He said there are 96 fifteen minute segments in each day.  Break down your day into smaller segments and conquer that to do list.  I was worried I would feel micro-managed but instead it is freeing.

I start with writing down the knowns for the day – appointments, after school activities, etc.  Then I fill in the routine – making lunches, car line, etc.  That leaves me with the blank spaces to fill in with household tasks, work tasks, fitness, Bible time, family time and anything else that needs to be done. I try to leave some margin in there in case things do not go as planned (because do they ever go as planned with kids?!).

It is amazing how much I have been able to accomplish this way.  My to do list is still way too long but I’m starting to see some items get checked off.  In my office I keep a white board above my desk and write projects that need done.  Having them visually in front of me helps me see where I can work in 15 minutes at a time of chipping away at those projects.

I’m still figuring out what document works the best for me for tracking this.  Doing a simple Google search brings up plenty of great options such a full week on one page, one day per page, etc.  Find what works for you and get started on feeling less frazzled and instead reaching those goals.

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Life With a Three Year Old: This Week’s Tantrums

Meltdown

Hello, remember me?  Sorry I haven’t updated in awhile, life has been crazy and the blog got put on the back burner.  However, I now have a full fledged three year old and I couldn’t resist hopping on for a few minutes and sharing some of this week’s tantrums.  What he doesn’t realize is that he is the third child and I have a bit of experience now.  I can walk away and laugh now instead of stress out and try to figure out how to calm him.  Here are just a few of the meltdowns this week.

  1. He wanted a McDonald’s cheeseburger for breakfast.  We rarely eat there anymore but decided he needed one right then.
  2. He wanted Santa Claus to come this morning.  He was mad I couldn’t make Santa magically appear.
  3. For some reason he needed to touch the ceiling in his room and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
  4. Dinner.  Do I need to say more?  It could be his favorite meal but suddenly he wants nothing to do with it.
  5.  I wouldn’t completely take apart his Mickey Mouse Clubhouse toy.  It isn’t designed to be taken apart but he has discovered the ears and slide come off so apparently every other piece on it should too.

I’m sure next week will provide more entertainment as he melts down on more random things.  Anyone have a funny toddler meltdown story to share?

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From Survive to Thrive

Thrive

I asked last week on my personal Facebook page about how moms go from living in survival mode to thriving in life.  I received a ton of great input.  I started outlining a series to cover all of the comments, plus some of my own thoughts, but after writing the first post I realized it was a bit overwhelming.  In reality, most of the ideas fell into four main points.  I will briefly discuss them today and then over the next few weeks I will probably add some more detailed articles about how I make this reality.

Too many of us are living daily in survival mode when God didn’t create us this way.  He created us to thrive.  If you are living in survival mode daily (guilty here so I’m going to practice what I preach) it is time to sit back, re-evaluate and figure out how to get out of survival mode.  It is an evil necessary every now and then but not how daily life should be.

Daily time in the Word. I know that if I don’t spend time in my Bible, my day seems more off and I try to do way too much on my own.  Being in a super busy phase of life, I do not put pressure on myself to spend a lot of time on a deep Bible study.  Some days it may be as little as opening the Bible app on my phone and focusing on the verse of the day.

Many people will say their best time to spend in the Word is early of a morning before their kids get up.  I’ve tried that before and my kids are usually up sometime in the 5 am hour.  My body doesn’t function well with me getting up any earlier so the first thing in the morning plan does not work for me.  When I had little kids and was nursing through the night, I kept a devotional book or my phone nearby and did my quiet time in the middle of the night while nursing.  I now have a toddler who only takes a tiny part of his nap on how own and needs someone to hold him or snuggle with him for the rest of the time.  That is when I usually do my Bible time now.  Find what time works for you and stick with it.  Do not feel it needs to be something in depth or lengthy but do spend some time with God each day and many times your priorities will then fall in line.

Take time for yourself. As moms, we many times find it hard to take time for ourselves.  The to do list will never be done so please stop trying for a few minutes each week and focus on yourself.  Your body and your family will thank you for it.  This will look different for everyone.  Some people need to be alone so time in a good book or a hot bath are all they need.  I tend to want out of my house where the to do list is staring me down so “me” time looks more like meeting a friend for coffee, shopping for a few minutes alone, or using the free WiFi and surfing Facebook while drinking coffee at a the Y or a coffee shop guilt free.  Schedule at least a few minutes into each week, even when it seems impossible to find that time.  You will probably find you are more productive and much happier after a few minutes of down time.

Limit activities.  It is so easy to say yes to every activity available.   Piano lessons, swim team, soccer, baseball, art classes, etc are all good things but too much isn’t a good thing.  We value family time and thrive on being home a few nights a week.  In our family we have allowed our kids to be in one activity at a time.  We do have therapy after school three days a week which is just as busy or busier than one activity but it is a non-negotiable at this point in time.  For a few years that is all we did but as our kids get older we want them to have some time to just be a kid and not have their one and only activity be therapy.  We allow them to pick their activity and that is currently Cub Scouts for our two oldest.  If your schedule is overwhelming, write down all of your commitments and see what can be cut.  Make sure all of the activities are in line with your family goals and needs.  Yes, they may all be good but are they worth the added stress?

Plan ahead. I cannot thrive when I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  The best thing ever for me has been to take a few minutes each week and plan for the week ahead.  I used to do this on Sunday afternoons but then felt I was never really getting a break from everything so I moved it to Fridays and that has really helped.  I menu plan, discuss the schedule with my husband so we are both on the same page, and figure out what has to be accomplished for the week.

This week, find one thing you can do to change from simply surviving to actually thriving. Feel free to comment here or on the Facebook page with the one thing you are going to change this week.

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Incredible Pizza Great For Those With Food Allergies

Incredible Pizza

Incredible Pizza has several locations around the US but the flagship store just so happens to be in my hometown.  My kids love going there.  We enjoy it too as they are very allergy friendly.  We can get gluten free pizza with as many toppings as we want for the same price as the regular buffet.  Most places have an upcharge for gluten free but Incredible Pizza does not.  They also can accommodate other allergens such as a dairy free option. To learn more about their gluten free options, click here.

When heading to Incredible Pizza, we usually plan to spend several hours there.  Our strategy is to first eat pizza and the other goodies on the buffet.  After we get a few bites in the kids it is time to hit the game area. Once we’ve played for awhile we head back to the buffet for dessert before heading home.

Even my 6 year old still likes the ride on toys.

Even my 6 year old still likes the ride on toys.

We like that they offer games and activities for all ages.  My two year old loves to ride on all the rides such as the train, car, and rocket ship.  My bigger kids love laser tag and any game that earns them tickets.  Tickets are stored on a card  so you don’t have to keep up with little paper tickets while having fun.  I love that they still have old school Skee Ball.  I could play that game alone for hours.

Opening presents at his birthday party.

Opening presents at his birthday party.

Incredible Pizza also offers several birthday party options.  We have attended many parties there but when we have held our own we have not bought a package.  Up until recently it required several attendees and we greatly limit those who are invited to parties because Samuel gets overwhelmed easily by crowds.  However, Incredible Pizza has recently added a small party option that we will definitely be checking out in the future.

My boys love it when they hear we are headed to Incredible Pizza and mom and dad are happy too because we know we can feed the whole family, allergies and all, and have a fun time too.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this review but all opinions are my own.

 

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Back to School, Back to Chaos

Where has this Supermom been?  While I would love to say it has been quiet around here because I’m off on fun adventures with the kids, the reality is much much different.  It has been quiet because this mom has been dealing with a child with high anxiety.  Back to school is a rough time for Samuel because he loves routine but has no idea what the routine in his class is going to be.  Last year was a super rough year with a class bully, no friends in his class, and a teacher he didn’t mesh with.  All of that put together made for some crazy days that left me wanting to run away for awhile.

During one anxiety meltdown, he dumped three jars of spices.  The house smelled great but it was a mess to clean up.

During one anxiety meltdown, he dumped three jars of spices. The house smelled great but it was a mess to clean up.

While we still have a few of those anxiety issues, I’m happy to say it calmed down a bit when the class list was posted Friday evening.  His two best friends are in his class and he got the teacher he wanted.  The bully is still in his class this year but he feels more confident since his friends are there too.  This overwhelmed momma breathed a huge sigh of relief when she saw who was in his class.

I went to the bathroom one morning and came out to find him hanging from this light.

I went to the bathroom one morning and came out to find him hanging from this light.

I am very much looking forward to getting back into routine, but I’m not at all excited about the chaos it brings.  We had meet the teacher last night and came home with a stack of papers to go through.  Just reading the expectations sent my stress level high.  Typical kids can be difficult getting them to do homework but special needs kids take it to a whole new level.  We also have a lot of therapy between two kids that we need to fit in.  And all the therapists and our social worker ask us often what we are doing to keep him in activities so we can work on social skills.  I’m worn out trying to fit it all in and I know it is exhausting to the kids too.

I always start out the year feeling ready for the fresh start.  I’ve planned well, the house is picked up, areas for papers are cleaned out, etc.  This year I just feel defeated.  While the summer flew by, it wore me out. My house is a semi-wreck, I just cleaned out the paper cubbies from last school year last week, and my planning charts haven’t been updated at all.  I’m hoping that once we get into a routine I can get back on schedule and not feel so overwhelmed.  My youngest is starting preschool two days a week next week which means I get a bit more of break too.

Dishcloth

I realize some of my overwhelmed feeling is because I have very little in the way of stress relief these days.  Running or some form of exercise used to be my main way to overcome stress.  However, I’m still injured and no one knows why.  Two doctors, one physical therapist and starting a new PT next week and still no answers.  I haven’t run in six months and was only allowed a tiny bit of exercise a few months ago but had to stop due to the foot not healing.  I reached my limit a few weeks ago and as I was walking past my bedroom I spotted my container of yarn sitting in the corner.  I used to knit and crochet but haven’t touched it in almost two years.  It was always a huge stress reliever as I could get lost in a project for awhile.  I picked up the yarn and crocheted a dishcloth.  It was super simple, helped me get back on track after not doing it for awhile, and didn’t require a lot of brain cells to complete.  Now I’m itching to make a few more things.  I’ve been taking my projects to therapy on days I don’t have all the kids with me and working on projects in the waiting room. Not quite as therapeutic as running but it does help.

So, tomorrow starts a new school year with a 4th grader, 1st grader, and preschooler.  I started a lot of posts over the summer and never was able to finish them so hopefully you will see some great content around in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to try to get back on track and get our schedule figured out so I’m not so overwhelmed.  Tonight we have our annual back to school dinner out where I usually inform the family of the schedule and expectations for the year.  I’m turning it around this year and asking for input so that they have some ownership in the plan too.

What is your favorite part of back to school and what do you dread?  I know I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with back to school.

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Clean Out the Freezer: Week 1

I will admit it, I am a freezer hoarder.  I spend time making beans, rice, muffins, freezer meals and more from scratch and then feel afraid to eat them because I might need a quick meal some day and then it won’t be available.  Anyone else have this problem?  Surely I’m not the only one.   I also throw random bits of leftovers in the freezer for another meal down the road.

My inlaws raise cattle so all of our beef comes from them.  It is almost time for the next round of beef to hit my freezer so I figured this was the perfect time to eat those random bits in my freezer.  Of course, I forgot to take many pictures throughout the week but here are a few of the yummy things I made using what I already had on hand.

Quinoa salad

The above picture is a quinoa salad I made using quinoa, black beans, and corn from the freezer.  I added onions and a homemade lime dressing and let it sit for awhile to absorb the flavors.  So yummy!  This was my lunch one day as I knew the kids would never touch it but I needed some grown up food.

Bits and pieces of leftover homemade gluten free bread – I turned this into bread crumbs, croutons, and french toast.

Quinoa Blueberry Muffins – These need to be frozen if not used in 24-48 hours but they are delicious and an easy way to sneak some protein in. I used sorghum flour in place of the millet flour as I did not have any on hand. Quinoa and blueberries came from the freezer.

Banana Bread Muffins – If you follow me on Facebook you have already seen this recipe posted.  I used bananas from the freezer as they are starting to take over one compartment.  I plan to make another batch this week as the kids loved this.  Brown rice flour was used in place of white rice flour.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – From the freezer I used leftover lunch meat ham, shredded chicken, and bread crumbs from leftover bread.  My husband doesn’t like bread crumbs on anything so I made half without and he loved it.  He is picky so that is a huge win.

Slow Cooker Party Pork – When buying a pork roast I usually cut it into smaller portions so that we are not eating leftovers for ages.  I used one of these portions and half of the sauce recipe here.  All of my kids love this super easy recipe.

Mexican soup – I took the way too hot homemade enchilada sauce, added some random leftover mexican dish, more black beans, corn, and some chicken broth to create a something new.  The other ingredients toned down the enchilada sauce which meant my effort to make it didn’t go to waste.

I plan to keep cleaning out the freezer this next week and I will report back at the end of next week.  Feel free to join me and leave a comment with any recipes you try.

 

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Sometimes All You Need Is a Box To turn a Day Around

Last week we were having ROUGH day.  As in, “count down the minutes until daddy gets home from work and he only left the house an hour ago” kind of day.  I was at my wit’s end and ready to call it a day but I knew there was a lot of day left.

I run an online business and all boxes and packing material that come into our house are saved and reused for the business. I had a huge Amazon Prime Pantry box sitting to the side of the living room as I had just unpacked it.  One of the boys asked if they could use it as a rocket ship.  We were having such an awful day that I decided sacrificing one box was minor for my business but could go a long way towards entertaining my kids.

After playing in it for a few minutes they decided it needed decoration so I gave them a container of crayons and let them have at it.  Between art and pretend play it entertained the two youngest for a good hour and really changed the attitude of our house. In fact, it is almost a week later and they still are playing with that box.

Sometimes we just need a change of direction on those rough days.

What helps change rough days in your house?  Feel free to share ideas as we all have rough days from time to time.

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Simple Organizing Tips from a Messy Mom

Blanket basket

I’m probably the last person who should be giving organizing tips because I am a chronic messy.  I try hard but there are just so many hours in a day and I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning my house.  We’ve been working for years to get more organized and just can’t seem to get there.  About a year ago, I was searching online for something and came across the blog A Slob Comes Clean. I found someone like me!  Nony is a mom who desperately wants to be organized and is making great strides towards it.  Like me, she got frustrated with all the blogs and books making organizing seem so simple yet not practical for those of us who do not come by this naturally. I’ve learned a few tips over the year from Nony and I want to share them here, along with how I implemented them.

The container concept. Many times it isn’t that we need to go buy more organizing tubs, it is rather the fact that we need to simply get rid of a lot of what we have so that it fits in the organizing area we have.  Most of the pics today will show new items I bought but that is because I didn’t have a container to start with.  In the days ahead I will show how I repurposed items I already had.

The picture above is an excellent portrayal of the container concept.  My kids love to snuggle under blankets while watching TV or playing on their Kindle. They would always complain they couldn’t find a blanket when half the time it was on the floor beneath their feet.  I felt like I was picking up and folding blankets all day long and my living room always looked cluttered.  I finally decided to buy a basket to hold them all.  My kids now know where the blankets are and that when done with a blanket it goes back in the basket.  However, when I folded all my blankets that basket was overflowing.  Not wanting to buy a bigger basket, I got rid of the blankets I didn’t really like.  We haven’t missed them a bit.

Closet Org 2

Bathroom closet that used to house layers of items. Now stored neatly in containers. I still need to label the drawers but now I can find everything instead of buy when I can’t find what I need.

Work 15 minutes a time. Have you ever started a huge organizing project only to fizzle an hour into it? I’m very guilty of this.  It is so much easier to work in little increments and defeat burnout this way.  Every day on my to do list is one 15 minute project.  It might be just part of a drawer but at least I have made progress that day.  Sometimes I really get in to it and keep going but I know I can quit guilt free after 15 minutes if need be.

Closet Org

More of the bathroom closet. These drawers were used for something else but I repurposed it for this closet. The labels help so I don’t have to go digging when I need something.

Start with the easy stuff. Organizing can be so overwhelming so start with the easy parts and work from there.  I find that by taking away a layer at a time my vision for the area becomes so much more clear.  I usually start with the trash and things I know belong somewhere else.  Sometimes that is all I have time for but it is a step in the right direction. With the bathroom pictures above, I started with all the small travel size samples that were cluttering my closet.  Once I had a place for those items it already seemed so much more organized and it gave me a vision for the rest of the items.

Towels

Keep it simple. Sometimes we make organizing so much harder than it needs to be.  For example, my boys have recently decided to take showers in our bathroom.  We only had room for 2 towels but there are five of us.  I was tired of wet towels everywhere.  We thought for ages where to hang more towels as wall space is very limited in this bathroom.  We were walking through At Home last week and I fell in love with the rack pictured above.  We were actually looking at the time for a new piece to hang jackets on as our current one only has three hooks and we need five.  At first I was disappointed that this only had four hooks and then it hit me.  We are redecorating our bedroom and the attached bathroom in a beach theme.  This fit perfectly with that theme and had enough hooks for the towels (we have a towel bar attached to the shower for the fifth towel).  We kind of thought we knew where to put it but once I walked in to the room it suddenly dawned on me to remove the existing towel bar and this fit perfectly in its place.  Here we were trying to come up with some layering system or putting hooks in random places and this simple fix was just waiting to be found.

Have you organized any area lately?  Feel free to share your projects or simple organizing tips.

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