Thursday, June 23, 2016

Olympic fever...

Maybe it's because I was an athlete once, and dreamed of going to the Olympics as a child. Maybe it's because I'm proud of the achievements of the people of our great nation. Maybe it's because I have kids who have dreams of reaching the Olympic stage one day. Whatever it is, every four years, as the summer begins, I find myself glued to the TV in a way I never am at any other time. (In fact, many times I have petitioned to go TV-free, but I keep being overruled.) The Olympics is my Superbowl, NBA Finals, and World Series all wrapped into one glorious 16-day journey.

I love the stories of sacrifice and family support and overcoming hardship. I love that our country, and the world, comes together to celebrate hard work and determination and incredible talent and unquestionable skill. I love that athletes who love Jesus Christ have a platform to proclaim the Gospel and be bold on a global stage (did you see Steele Johnson and David Boudia praying before the 10m Syncronized Diving, and then after giving thanks to God for their talent and safety, and then boldly sharing their faith in the post-qualifying interview?!?!)

But I also realize that sitting around on my haunches for over two weeks, glued to the TV, is not a good option physically. So, while we were watching the Olympic Trials for Diving and Men's Gymnastics this evening, Elliott started doing squats during a commercial break, and that spurred on a great idea... If you want to stay in the living room and watch the selection of the TEAM USA athletes, you have to work out during commercials.

We began haphazardly with doing whatever the first person shouted out, whether it be burpees, sit-ups, lunges, push-ups or something else. Then, because we have children, they began bickering over whose turn it was to choose the exercise. So, we decided to go youngest to oldest in naming the workout. The boys seemed to lean towards arm exercises calling for burpees and push-ups and Supermans, while the girls chose squat lunges, butt kicks, and crunches. Since we watched Diving and Gymnastics back to back, we ended up with over two hours of some pretty intense stretches (why did the longest commercial breaks always seem to hit during burpees?!?!).

More than anything, we had fun together. We cheered on some great folks competing to represent TEAM USA in Rio, we broke a sweat and laughed at each other, moaning when another commercial came on instead of return to the event giving us a break.

I imagine everyone here will remember this Road to Rio trip. What will you and your family be doing to make this summer and these Summer Olympics a memorable one?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sometimes it's the little things...

{I found this post in my drafts... but with Hannah beginning a new blog over at, I thought I'd dust this one off as it compliments a recent post she penned.}

Tonight I have been listening to a storm raging outside as I've worked to put my craft room back together following our kitchen remodel. I was tidying the desk when I came across a notebook with a broken spine and began to flip through the pages to see if it was worth keeping. Inside I found my scribbled to-do lists for the two weeks leading up to our move to North Texas. A little while before that, I was midnight texting with a good friend back home. Then I flipped to the page detailing the plans of our farewell lunch and play date. Next thing I know, I was sobbing.

I don't think I've ever cried over rereading a to-do list before.

They usually make me smile, feeling so accomplished.

But this time, I did. I cried and cried. And cried.

I love it here, I really do. So do the kids. Elliott never wants to leave. We love our church, we're making good friends, we've found more opportunities for the children in an easily accessible distance than we ever had back home. One of the children has actually been struggling for a while with moments of feeling guilty for enjoying it so much here. 

But I cried because I miss the comfort of friends that you don't have to explain yourself to when you say something completely ridiculous. I cried because I miss the simplicity of skipping up to our little bakery in New Braunfels and not worrying at all about gluten or corn or soy. I miss my church family and my amazing friends. This move has been hard, as good as it has been, it's also proved to be one of the most difficult things I've ever experienced. I cried because every little thing that makes this feel like home leaves behind it the realization that San Antonio is no longer home, it is now a vacation spot.

Sometimes it is the simple things that help you remember how blessed you have been. They remind you to open your eye and see how new blessings are overflowing in your life. I'll probably toss the notebook, the broken spine keeps it from being durable enough to withstand being thrown in my bag for notes at church, but I'm thankful for finding it, and within it, being encouraged by seeing the hand of God leading us, caring for us, and keeping us close.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fun times ahead...

Our first full summer in North Texas is upon us, and my house is still not fully unpacked and organized. My biggest temptation is to do nothing except piddle around the house until everything is just right. However, no sooner does that thought come into my mind, than the reality of six active, fun-loving, adventure-seeking, busy kids comes crashing down on me. And in an effort to make our summer more fun than doldrum, and after being inspired by a dear friend, I made a little chart that we can check off as the summer progresses. I'm hoping it will act as motivation to get out and do some fun stuff. And I love checking things off!

Now, for those of you who think I'm being a tad too optimistic... I did cheat just a little when I made this list. We decided not to take a traveling summer vacation this year. Instead, we have planned a "stay-cation" and a good handful of the things on our list come from those 8 days, as we explore our city and the surrounding area.

If you'd like to join us for any of these fun activities, we'd love to have you! The more the merrier! :)

Monday, May 2, 2016

A thought for the future...

We are in the process of replacing our kitchen cabinets. It was an unexpected project, but it seems the last owner of our house decided on custom designed cabinets but chose them to be made of particle board. We were fooled by the solid wood doors which looked pretty but the rest of the cabinets were not proving to be sturdy enough to hold up against our crew and their need to be consuming food at all hours of the day and night.

In order to prepare for the new cabinets to be installed, I had to empty all of our old cabinets. I have been thankful for my craft room, as it ended up being the perfect staging area for the entire contents of our kitchen. And as we are nearing the end of this renovation project and I am beginning to load things back onto the shelves they belong, I thought about the most perfect baby shower gift for my daughters, and my son's someday wives.

I've given handmade blankets, bibs, toys and pillows. I've even painted custom artwork for friends welcoming their first child home. But until I was putting away my little tea cups and saucers just now, I realized the gift that I need to give to my children (and grandchildren of the future).

A tea set with a broken tea cup.

Yep, a perfectly flawed broken piece of china.


Because I don't want my children to miss having a tea party with their little girls and boys out of fear. Fear of a spilled cup of tea, or being worried about chipping a fragile porcelain cup or breaking a saucer. I don't want them to wait for their baby to be old enough to cautiously navigate the process, and end up waiting so long the child no longer wants tea. I don't want them to be controlled by perfectionism. Like I was. Like I sometimes still am. And miss out on so many precious moments.

Come to think of it, I may make them a little basket of goodies, like a jar of dirt, a rollie pollie or two, and a dandelion flower.

The dirt to remind them no matter how much they clean, there will be more dirt, but they may not get another chance to play Sorry or Candyland on the living room floor. The rollie pollie to remind them to explore outside, squeal with their child over the discovery of this little animal that can be walking one moment and be rolling away the next. The quirky little bug is a reminder to use those moments to spark a love for the Creator of the Universe who knew how much happiness a poop-eating transforming bug could bring to a young child. A dandelion flower for them to practice being delighted by the simplicity of life seen through the eyes of a child. I've too often complained about the soft yellow weed presented to me by a child with eyes aglow, so proud of their treasured gift, because all I can think about is how that gift meant there was an unwelcome guest growing in my well-manicured lawn. I may or may not have been known to say, "If you really love Mommy, you'll bring the roots too next time." And now I wish I had simply said, "Thank you," and given the child a hug.

And tomorrow, I think I'll make my children tea and ask them to see if they can scrounge up any dandelion flowers to decorate the table. I'm still navigating the complexities of this parenting thing. Do you have any "unique" gifts you would want to pass on to the next generation? Do share, I feel like I'm throwing myself a Mommy shower. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I learned a lot...

All of January, and a few of the last days of December, I embarked on the Whole 30 diet for myself. My reasons were a little all over the place, I'd been reading about it for a while, even followed some Whole30 folks on Instagram to get ideas, and I think I wanted to prove to myself that I was not a big mess of emotional eating anymore.

Ready for the "Whole 30 Timeline" to kick in,  I checked the book a few times, but apparently my sugar intake was so low going into my Whole 30 that I didn't have carb flu like I expected. I will say that was kind of an encouragement, as I was wondering if I was having too many Paleo treats. Apparently, I wasn't. I did not want to "kill all things" or "take a nap". I actually texted with a friend about my lack of "symptoms", she quizzed me on what I was eating. Turns out, I eat pretty clean already, eating Whole 30 for me ended up meaning no butter and no "cheating". I even survived cravings when my family was indulging in chocolate chip cookies and ice cream."Tiger blood" hit throwing my sleep schedule off like mad, my new-found energy keeping me buzzed until 1am even without a drop of coffee all day.

But, like on other diet changes I have made, I found myself feeling all consumed by what I was going to eat next. I wasn't insisting on my children eating exactly like me, which led me to having to make more than one meal three times a day. The dishes became overwhelming. The time I spent in the kitchen skyrocketed with all the cooking, contributing to the piling up dishes. My ability to concentrate was cut in half for about two hours every time a meal time would roll around. I stopped wanting to eat, it was too much trouble.

So, today I ended my Whole 30 early. I don't regret doing it. I don't regret ending it either. I think it's something I will use from time to time when I notice myself relying too heavily on sweet treats (and even their Paleo substitutions), or when I start to feel sluggish. But unless my whole family wants to give it a whirl, I just can't play short order cook, or leave the children to scavenging while I take care of my food needs.

Overall, I am encouraged that how I'm feeding my family is pretty "clean", notwithstanding their love of Trader Joe's Gluten Free Mac & Cheese. And I am pretty confident that I have the tools I need to really implement a "clean week" and Saturday "cheat day" for all of us. I'm hoping to do better with menu planning, even though some of our most enjoyable meals were born out of desperation and a fridge full of great ingredients.

Now to plan our cheat day...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All I can think about...

... is ICE CREAM! I know that doing a Whole30 is a pretty cliche thing in January. But I'm doing it. 5 days down! And I didn't really have any noticeable carb-flu because I really cut back on sugar going through the last two weeks of December. 

And I haven't really been cooking up too much photo-worthy food, I more just been trying to eat something "approved" so my stomach doesn't eat a hole through my back! Elliott's been a champ making me compliant food when I'm too busy taking kids to the gym or too unmotivated to make anything more than a plate full of cold leftovers. 

The most exciting new thing I came up with (out of desperation) was pan seared sweet potato slices. I meant to roast them, but got behind in juggling the cooking of my food with the cooking of the kids' food and never got them in the oven. So, a little olive oil and salt and into the pan they went. It was hard not to keep the children out of my delish side dish! 

I went to kickboxing on Monday, and spent all day Tuesday wincing every time I did anything reminiscent of a squat. Then, tonight, I went to play a game with a 4x4 co-ed volleyball league, the first of 6 weeks of games on Tuesday night. I'm super competitive, which may play into why I felt convinced that I could hang with this league after over 20 years of not playing, but it was so fun! My forearms are all bruised up, my quads are even more sore thanks to "ready position", and I'm fully aware that I am 22 years older than I was the last time I played volleyball. I can't wait for next week. 

The kids and I are memorizing the "Fighter Verses" this year, so far we're good to go with Deuteronomy 7:9. And I grabbed a copy of the Bible Study our church's women's group is going through. I can't make the official meetings, but two friends and I are going to go through it together. 

Just a little snapshot of our first few days of 2016. Plano feels like home a little more everyday. God continues to show His faithfulness and lovingkindness towards me. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Lovely 1st day...

Well, the first day of 2016 is wrapping up, which is also means I've almost survived the first day of strict clean eating of my first ever Whole30. I even avoided a near miss as I was running errands and was tempted to swing through the Chick-fil-a drive thru for waffle fries because I found myself starving mid-afternoon (apparently my 3-minute Paleo Porridge just didn't fill me up for lunch). Instead I grabbed an apple and a handful of pecans when I got home and then got right to work on making dinner. 

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Roasted Sweet Potato Chunks
Sautéed Mushrooms
Sautéed Brussel Sprouts & Onions

Besides thinking about food today, I had a great coffee and chat with a new friend in Frisco. Hannah and I went shopping to fulfill her Christmas present from Elliott and I, a "Mommy date" and some new clothes. And we're starting the 6th Star Wars movie in preparation for going to see the 7th in the theater tomorrow morning. 

Happy New Year! 

A new beginning...

It's been nearly a year since I picked up my copy of The Whole30. I've read it, thought about it, decided that since I can't figure out what to feed my crew from meal to meal, I probably couldn't make it. Then I realized I should just start. Keep it simple. The kids can add on to whatever I make. Or, since most can cook a little, they can make their own food. It's only 30 days. 

And so, the whole house is sleeping, so I made my first Whole30 breakfast. I made extra so I can have leftovers. And it was yummy.