Life is more fun when you RAWR!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Giving this another go

A long break from blogging and I find that I miss it.  I realize my audience is mostly just me, but I like organizing my thoughts and chronicling my work at the house.  I've done a lot of projects recently and I'll try my best to do some posts.  I've got some amazing before and after pictures of my porch.

G is in Kindergarten and is blossoming.  He loves his teacher and recognizes his strengths and weaknesses.  In just a few short weeks he's developed a love and passion for reading and writing.  I'm amazed because I tried for five years to give him that spark.  He's reading so well and writing in all of his spare time.  He's also in a year-round swim program and I love the focus and structure it gives him.  He's finally figured out side-breathing and his form is at least 1000 times better now than it was at the beginning of the summer. 

The Bear is also going through lots of growth.  He's learned how to potty so we're all done with diapers.  I cannot believe he figured it out before he was three years old.    Seriously, I'm thrilled.  I can't say that his learning process was easier than when G did  - but A learned about four, almost five months earlier than G did so a few more accidents were to be expected I suppose.  But we're done with diapers and into a new phase of life.  With G being gone all day the Bear has also found his own voice and is so chatty.  He has the funniest things to say.

I'm just starting to come out from under the overwhelming exhaustion of the first month of school.  G's school starts at 7:20 so my days start at 6am.  Unlike in my 20s when if I needed to be up at 6am it just made more sense to stay up all night, now I have to function all day long with a very very active preschooler.  I'm still spinning and I've added yoga to my exercise routines.  I need to get back clean eating to give myself the energy I'm lacking.  Right now I'm getting through my days.  What I want is to excel every day, to spend every moment with a flourish.  Forget the extra mile, I want to go the extra marathon.  Grandiose, yes, but why not aim to get the most out of life?

And so, with that, I will get back to organization, to trying new things, to crafting and sewing, to doing the things that give me peace and joy and love.

I'll start with giving you the menu I've planned for the week.

Monday:  French Onion Soup, grilled cheese.  (I make the soup from scratch and it is so so delicious.  The pot huge and I'll have delicious hot lunches all week long)
Tuesday: Tacos, beans, beans, rice, salad
Wednesday: Out with a friend during D&D
Thursday: Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread, salad
Friday: Steak, salad, grilled veggies
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: burgers and fries

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Have I really been this slack in blogging?

It's only because we're having such an awesome summer.  The boys are thriving on the swim team.  They both can dive in. Yep.  Both.  Grant finally got the backstroke down and Andy is swimming so well he may  be able to join G on the big-kids' swim team next year!  The meets are fun and G loves getting his ribbons.
We do live at the pool so our units are more like a couple of times a week rather than every day but they're going well too.  G is a lot more confident in his reading and Bear is able to write almost all of his letters and name their phonetic sounds.  I'm guessing he'll be reading by fall.

Drew & the kids also made a nature trail in the back woods of our property.  Now they have an awesome path they can walk in a wooded area, they can explore and hunt butterflies and moths.  I can hear them the whole time because it's just part of our backyard - so they can walk the trail while I water my garden.  Win-win.

So, yea, it's been a bit of a busy summer already!  I'm not going to lie... I love it.  I love being at the pool.  I love my kids being outside and active. 

I'm also loving summer food.  Tomatoes for lunch every day.  Yum.  The grill a big part of cooking.  The farmer's markets are stocked with yummy peaches.  Our blueberry plants will soon have hundreds of rip berries that we can just pick and eat.  It's just all so good!

Wonder what we're having for dinner this week:

Monday: Mongolian Beef, rice, broccoli
Tuesday: swim meet -- chick-fil-a caters (yay!)
Wednesday: Grilled chicken, grilled veggies, leftover rice
Thursday: swim meet - it's an away meet - hoping they have catering.  If not it will be take out on the way home.
Friday:  Pizza!  (mine will be a portabello pizza)
Saturday: Spaghetti bake  (I'll have salad instead)
Sunday: burgers and fries

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I-Spied it on Pinterest

This week I tried a new recipe spotted on Pinterest: grilled cabbage.
I'm not much of a cooked cabbage fan but this recipe had me at bacon.  It's low-carb and grilled so really, how could I miss?
I'm pretty happy that I gave this one a try.

The cabbage came out tender and the bacon, parm cheese and salt and pepper really made it lose some of that, well, soggy cabbage flavor.  It was absolutely delicious.

In the future I'll play around with different flavors of bacon and maybe even throw some apple slices in with an applewood-smoked bacon.  Rest assured, there will be plenty of opportunities to play since cabbage is often 88 cents for a whole head, you'd struggle to find a side dish that is healthier or more economical.

I give the grilled cabbage 3 pins!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Summer is here!  Can you believe it? If you're reading this then we're probably at the pool.  No, really, we try to just live there all summer.  When we get home I thrown dinner on the grill, get the kids and myself changed, have dinner then play a bit before bed.  Last week though, a grill-tastrophie.  Our old, much-loved, oft-used grill has said adieu and has gone to the grill-maker in the sky.  That means I have to actually cook dinners inside until our new grill arrives Thursday.  First world problems, huh?

So here's what we're going to have:

M: "Fried" chicken (low carb, pinterest recipe), salad, fries, corn on the cob
T: Tacos, rice, salad
W: Spaghetti Bake (I'll have an omelette)
Th: breakfast for dinner
F: Kebabs!!!!!
S: Mongolian Beef, rice, salad
Su: Burgers and fries

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I-Spied it on Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite corners of the world wide web.  It's full of so many amazing ideas.  I may not come up with the ideas on my own but I sure can copy them!  Unfortunately there are many pins that aren't all they seem.  Sometimes a project looks easy when really it's a bear to do.  Or sometimes it's pinned as tasty when it's really nasty.  Or sometimes it's pinned as inexpensive but ends up only being cheap if you have a lot of expensive what-nots on hand.

I'm making it my mission to return and report on the ideas I've tried and rate them on a scale of:

1 Pin = don't bother
2 Pins = meh
3 Pins = Pretty cool project
4 Pins = How have I lived my life without this? 

While browsing this weekend I saw this cute idea.  On the last day of school take a picture of your kiddo holding a picture of themselves on the first day of school.

So now it's my turn to give it a go.
It took a few times but I'm pretty happy with what I came up with for the boys.

So clearly I am not a photographer.  There is a lot about both pictures that could be much much better.  What you can see is that my photography skills have improved since the first day of school, so progress is something I suppose.  I think I need to take one of those SLR classes or something.

I love seeing how much they've changed over 9 months.  It's especially evident in G's picture.  He's gone from preschooler to little boy so quickly.

This project is really easy to do and I'd say it's worth it.

I give it :

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

This is G's last week of preschool.  And by week I mean he goes Tuesday and Wednesday.  Then he's done.  He's a kindergartener.  Please excuse the wild eye you might see in me, my kindergarten nightmares started weeks ago.  He is beside himself excited for school though, so forward we press.
Swim team is in full swing now and he loves it.  Of course, he can only swim about 20% of the way across the pool right now - but that's true for all of the kids in his group.  I told him that all I hope for is that he swims just an inch farther tomorrow.

Here's what I'm planning for our dinners this week:

M: grilled chicken, grilled cabbage (pinterest recipe, will report), rice
T: Mongolian Beef, rice, cabbage salad
W: Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, salad.  (I won't eat the potatoes)
Th: Spaghetti, garlic bread, corn, salad (I will eat salad with leftover chicken0
F: Breakfast for dinner
S: Carolyn kebabs, rice, salad,
Su: Burgers and fries.

What are you eating this week?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer Units

My awesome cousin Kim did "summer units" last year and since she is about the coolest Mom I know I've made her idea my summer project.
The gist of it is pick one theme for the week and spent a little time every day learning about the theme.  The activities can be as small as coloring a picture on the topic or as big as a huge trip to a museum or even a beach vacation.  It keeps the kids in learning mode and more importantly it keeps me from falling into "summer mode" where we just go to the pool come home, watch TV and do laundry then go back to the pool, come home, have dinner and go to bed.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a "chill" summer like that but I really want to be more proactive and do something sort of special.

Here are the units I've picked out:

Week of 5/28:  Time/Calendar
Week of 6/3:  All about Dad (his birthday is this week)
Week of 6/10:  All about Mom (my birthday is this week)
6/17: Music
6/24 Dinosaurs (visit to the NC Museum of Natural Science one day this week)
7/1 USA
7/8 Plants/Life cycle (we should be ready to harvest some veggies from our garden by now)
7/15 Mexico (Drew will be at the Mexico dig site this week)
7/22 Money
7/29 The Beach (tentative week at the beach.  We'll see)
8/5 Weather
8/12 Bugs
8/19 Electricity
8/26 Back to school

If you have any unit suggestions or activity ideas or links please comment!  I need all the ideas I can get.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Did you miss knowing what we eat every night?  I've missed writing about it.  During my blog-absence I did write weekly menus but in the last couple of weeks I've just gotten out of the habit and it shows.  We have weird, mis-matching food stuff around the house.  Enough to make a feast but not the right foods to make a dinner.  Know what I mean?  Enough of that.  I'm back to what works for me.  Menu planning.
Here's what we're having.
Tonight, for Mother's Day we're having Carolyn Kebabs per my request.  yum!!

Monday: Tacos, salad, rice
Tuesday: chicken, roasted broccoli, noodles, alfredo sauce
Wednesday: Fried chicken, salad, french fries, cauliflower
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: breakfast for dinner
Saturday:  Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, salad
Sunday: burgers and fries.

The tricky part about menu planning these days is that I'm not able to eat "processed carbs" in the way of bread, noodles, taco shells, french fries, or really even rice.  All of our dinners need to be complete with and without the starchy component.  The good news is:  when I eliminate those starches I feel amazing.  It's worth the expense and effort to keep those out of my system.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm back!

Happy Mother's Day to all of my Mom friends out there. 
I'm celebrating Mother's Day with a few cherished moments to clear my desk, catch up with email and, for the first time in more than five months, blog. 
How have I not done this since the New Year? 
No use looking back though, it's onward and upward.
I have so many crafty things to share, so many ideas and yes, I'm still menu planning though now I'm obsessed with doing a low-budget option.  I recently read a blog where the family spends $250 or less every month on groceries.  I'm embarrassed to say that we often spend twice that (or more!).  I need to reign in my costs while still focusing on whole foods and eating healthy. 

I do have a lot of ambitious goals for this summer.  We aren't going to be doing a lot of travelling, though it's likely we will go to the beach for a week.  G is on our local swim team which I'm very excited about.  We'll spend most of our summer mornings at the gym and pool.  His age group practices at 11am and my classes are either at 8:30 or 9:30 so we will head out early in the morning, pack a lunch and spend until probably 1 or so at the pool.  We will come home for most of the afternoon and work on a few things around here (more about that later) and then likely head back to the pool in the late afternoon or even after dinner.  Note to self: get the swimmer's ear vinegar mix ready to go!

So here are my summer goals:
  • Be active!  I want our TV to be on as little as possible
  • Learn! I have set up several weekly "units" for us to spend an hour or so on every day , allowing the kids a chance to explore and giving me the structure I need to actually make it happen.
  • Read every day.  G is still not a confident reader, while A is just about there.  I have the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Days" book and I'm hoping to have both boys reading independently by the end of the summer.
  • Write letters to our cousins/friends.  This gives the boys practice writing their letters and forming sentences.
  • Work in our garden.  I've planted tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, pumpkins, dill and peppers.  
  • Get ahead on Christmas gifts.  I'd love to make as many of our gifts as possible and I'd love to knock out like 60% of them this summer.
  • Have our 72 hour kit/bug out bag complete.  Every family needs one.
  • Have our will complete.  I'm not the one dragging my feet on this.  We have a the lawyer, we know who we want to be guardians for the kids, now I just need to get the husband on board and to the lawyer's office so this can finally be done.
This is my last summer with G before he's off to Kindergarten and I really want to enjoy it, be as stress free as possible and be as screen free as possible.  Yes, I realise that blogging about being screen-free is a little oxymoronic but  I really would like to focus on happy, quality time with the 14 short weeks we have before school starts again.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Resolutions

Given the amazing success of my 2011 resolutions, I'm ready to decide what to do with myself in 2012.  A quick glance ahead on the calendar shows me it's going to be a huge, busy year and we're only on day 4.  Buckle up folks, it's going to get interesting.

So here they are, my 2012 New Years Resolutions:

Finish the Ramblin' Rose triathlon.
This is a very short sprint tri and the run is only 2 miles.  Finishing a triathlon has always been a dream and now it's time to make it happen

Read 12 books.
Surprised at the results of my 2011 reading resolution, I'm determined to read that one book per month

Take more pictures and take them off my phone
My 2011 pictures folder has far fewer pictures categorized in dated folders because 90% of the pictures I took were on my phone which does not talk to my linux computer.  All it takes is one extra step to get the pics off my phone and into my computer.  This year I'm going to make sure I do it.

Focus on having family dinners
With my husband's busy schedule family dinners often turn into the boys eating while watching cartoons, me eating standing up while cleaning the dishes and the husband eating at some point after work.  At the very least I can sit down at the table with the boys and have a real dinner.  Hopefully dad can be there with us more often too.

Knit more
I've recently learned the basics of knitting.  I really enjoy it.  I really want to do more with it.

Sew more
My sewing machine has been sadly quiet in recent weeks.  Time to fire my singer up.

Make more Christmas gifts and start on it earlier
My Christmas gift-giving was lack-luster to say the least. This year I really want to give more from the heart and give as few gift-cards as possible.  This means I cannot start them the week before Christmas.

So, there it is.  It's a relatively modest list, but still challenging.  I hope you'll all blog your resolutions!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So how did I do? Resolutions 2011 return and report

 I had high hopes for 2011 and all-in-all it was a really good year.  Lots of lifestyle changes for me and the key to all of them was dropping cable.  I had no idea how much mindless TV would suck me in but now that I actively choose what I watch (rather than find something that is on) TV is just not something that interests me much.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I am still the biggest Top Chef fan out there.  I still love The Office and I accept that nightmares are simply a part of life when The Walking Dead is on.  The difference is, I make a point to watch my shows.  It feels like a much healthier way to approach TV.  It's probably what normal people do, right?
So, time to face the music.  How did I do on my specific 2011 goals?  Here we go.

Complete two 5ks and one 10k.
I give myself a B+.  I did finish two 5ks, (blogs here  and here).  I did not to a 10k though and here's why.  I've come to accept that I dislike running!  Really.  It's just not fun for me.  Running as a form of exercise was a chore, something I had to do and having completed the entire C25K program I *still* didn't like it.  Guess what I do like though?  SPINNING.  I'm spinning 4x a week now.  That is usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 hours 45 minutes.  I love it, it's fun, I look forward to it and it's a great way to burn calories.

Finish 3 quilts

A+!  I finished 3 quilted prayer shawls and Andy's comforter (which I have yet to blog about).  Grr. I also did a small baby quilt. 

Sew from a pattern

A+  Yep!  I did it.  I made Andy some pants.  They were super cute and very easy to make.

Read 12 books
C-.  I read only 9 new books this year.  I've been stuck halfway through book #10 and while I've lost interest I was not ready to admit defeat.  I'm surprised by this one as I would usually describe myself as an avid reader.  I guess more accurately I am well-read.  I read news and articles from all over the world, I'm well versed on current events, but, apparently, I am not as big a reader as I though.  Werid.

Acquire and rehab (if necessary) a china hutch for the dining room.

F.  I found several, went and looked at many, but the husband is not on board.   

Make a headboard for our bed
See above.

Improve general decoration of the house

C-.  The Bathroom redo is a great starting point but I have so much farther to go.

Reach my goal weight

D.  I did not reach my goal weight.  I am not close to my goal weight.  But I'm not considering this a failure.  I am still working for it and have been exercising 5-6 times a week since June.

So there you have it.  A really successful year.  More importantly, we're happy, we're healthy and we're all together.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Happy New Year to you all! 
Are you curious about how I did on my 2011 resolutions?  Tune in tomorrow.
Curious what I'm hoping to do in 2012?  Tune in Wednesday!
Want to know what we're eating this week?
You came to the right place because.......

M: chicken cutlets, alfredo sauce, noodles, roasted broccoli, spinach
T: Ham, roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes, green beans
W: Dinner at Chick-fil-a
T: chicken tacos, spanish rice, salad
F: Spaghetti bake, green beans
S: Mongolian Beef, stir fry veggies
S: burgers and fries (sweet potato for me!)

If you're on MyFitnessPal hit me up!  I need more fitness friends!  I'm Julianna_gets_fit