Monday, August 15, 2016

Weight Loss Journey

About a month ago, I realized my knees were hurting constantly. They popped and creaked too. Now I know I'm only a few months from being "over the hill," but it seemed like something that shouldn't happen. I knew the problem. I've known it for quite some time. I'm overweight. No, morbidly obese. Let's not sugarcoat it. Mmmmmm... sugar.... ;)

It wasn't just the physical problems. I was feeling so depressed that I talked to my doctor about medication.  I didn't want to leave my house.  I cried randomly, for no reason. I had an extremely short fuse with the boys and with Jon.  I hated myself and my life. I wasn't sleeping well and was tired all the time as a result. Just dragging my heavy body around was exhausting. I was in literal and figurative bad shape. 

I wasn't sure how, but I knew I had to do something. I started doing research.

The best way to succeed with weight loss and fitness in general is to find something you enjoy. If you dread it, you won't do it, right? 

I found the right solution for us in our local YMCA. It actually killed several birds with one stone. Nathan had been asking me about playing with other kids. I needed a kid-free moment during the day to exercise. After more than 20 years of always having somewhere to be (a job, usually) and something on my calendar, it has been extremely difficult for me to have nothing on my calendar now that I'm a domestic goddess. Group fitness classes happen every day and there's an app that puts your chosen class on your calendar.  I'm not self-motivated when it comes to exercise. Group classes motivate me. I see the others doing it, so I do it too. The instructors are encouraging and give pointers about doing things correctly.  Lots of birds, right?

So we joined. And I packed up the kids and went to our first class. It was a Spin class, and it was fun, but wow, did my butt hurt from the bicycle seat! I was literally the largest person there. The next day, I tried Zumba. Again, the fattest person in the class. I admit, I felt deeply ashamed of myself. But the beautiful thing is, nobody looked at me with disgust or said anything rude under their breath. Everyone was encouraging and friendly.

The next day, I did BodyPump. I found out they were one day into the BodyPump 98 program, and that it would be the same routine for the next four weeks. I wasn't sure about weights, but I decided to give it a shot. It wasn't "just weights." It was weight training, cardio, and ab work all rolled into one. It hurt so much, but I stuck it out. I used 2.5 lb weights on both sides of my bar that first week. 

Since that day, I've done BodyPump on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays every week, with Zumba on Tuesdays and Pound on Thursdays.  I started with 2.5 lb weights, but Friday, the last day of BodyPump 98, I had 12.5 lbs on each side of my bar for some of the tracks, and never less than 7.5 lbs.

In just a month, I've gone from being unsure about weights to realizing they are my happy place. I've never been so "in the zone" while exercising.

And I never even picked up the medication for depression. I haven't needed it. I've felt so much better in every possible way.

I haven't changed my diet at all.  One thing at a time, right? It takes 30 days of focus to create a habit, or so I've read.  The next 30 days will focus on better eating choices. But even without changing my diet, I have some results to share. 

Still a looooong way to go.  But progress, even a little, is encouraging.  

Friday, February 05, 2016

Decluttering Challenge: Weeks 2-4

A few of the weeks didn't really apply to me, so I skipped those.  This week, for example, is all about organizing cookbooks and recipes.  I'm doing okay there, so I didn't worry too much about it.

Honestly, I'm looking forward to moving to other areas of the house.  We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen and dining room

Probably the toughest part of this challenge so far has been the plastic food storage cabinets.  They are almost always a total mess and organizing them is a daunting task.

So with a "Just Do It" attitude that would have made Nike proud, I dove in.  It took the better part of a day to figure out what should stay and what should go, and how to organize the whole thing.  I'm very happy with the results.

Other completed tasks include: organizing pantry and spice storage, cleaning out refrigerator and freezer, organizing all cabinets and drawers, and creating storage solutions for cooking utinsels.

I have really enjoyed thoroughly organizing my kitchen and dining room, and can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Star Wars Birthday Party

We had Nicholas's first birthday party last month, and it was so much fun to put together!  When we found out the release date of the new Star Wars movie was on his actual birthday, we had to choose Star Wars as his party theme, even though we had the actual party a couple of days later.  Here are some of the things we did, in case anyone wants to use these ideas for their own Star Wars birthday party!  I'll be doing a separate post on how to make the awesome R2-D2 cake.

So picture time! 

The table.  R2-D2 cake, food with Star Wars puns, and a decorating kit I bought at Party City.
We love themed food!  These two were Jon's idea. Shards of Alderaan and Hoth Chocolate.  Our location-themed items.

We made light sabers with pretzel rods and candy melts.  We also made some themed candy with molds from ThinkGeek.
A close-up of the candy from the ThinkGeek candy molds.  There are chocolate ones and colored vanilla ones.
No Star Wars party is complete without the Princess - and no party is complete without Lay's potato chips.  ;)
Fruit kabobs!  I think Obi-Wan would approve of these.  Nathan helped us skewer the fruit. He's obsessed with kabobs.
Darth Veggies!  This was me cheating because I didn't have time to cut up a bunch of veggies.  Enter the convenient veggie tray!  I was going to put them in my own tray so at least they would look nicer, but we ran out of time.
Smash cake.  I made this using two small ramekins, so it has two layers.  It's the perfect size for a smash cake.  The Vader head on top was from a Pez dispenser that Nathan had previously destroyed, so I repurposed it.  The candle is his light saber.
A taller shot of the party table.  I purchased all the decorations from Party City, including plates, napkins, the decoration kit with the storm trooper and BB-8, and a TIE fighter that we hung up on the other side of the aquarium, as well as balloons.  I usually like to make my own decorations, but these were great, and so much easier!
Here's his birthday sign.  I made it in Photoshop and had it printed at Wal-Mart's Photo center.  We then mounted it on a piece of foam board from Hobby Lobby.  We have one for each of our boys.  I'm going to hang them on their wall one day.
A closer look at R2-D2.  It took many hours to complete and I cried a little when they cut into it.

Star Wars is a great theme for a party!  Have you done a Star Wars birthday party?  I want to see yours!  Link in the comments and I'll check it out!

Oh, and a final picture...

He loved his cake.  :)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Decluttering Challenge: Week 1

I've committed to doing this decluttering challenge this year.  Clutter is the bane of my existence and it's starting to really affect my satisfaction with our home.  And since I'm here about 90% of my time, being dissatisfied is a BAD thing.  Enter this home organization and decluttering challenge!

I'm using the two together, as they are intended to be used, but I can see how you could just use the weekly challenges and do your own daily missions to complete the weekly challenge.  I really like the daily missions, though, because they give me something very specific to do.  For example, one day the mission was to organize the silverware drawer.  Well, we have about four drawers that could qualify because everything was just that spread out.  I did all of them that day and now I can find everything I need as soon as I need it!

This week's challenge is kitchen counters and sink.  The daily missions mostly support this goal.  Yesterday, I got started with the "organize utensils" goal and just ended up doing a couple of other daily missions at the same time.  I've never been happier with my kitchen than I am right now!

All it took for me to become a believer in this organizational and decluttering system was a few days.  I'm a convert.  I can't wait to do the rest of my house!  I threw a TON of stuff away while decluttering my countertops and silverware drawers.  Broken items, very cheap silverware I bought when I was poor (lol) and that had started to rust, and just junk that we had in drawers that we had no reason to keep.  Next week is cabinets and remaining drawers.  I can't even tell you how much of a relief it's going to be to get that done.  

I'm looking forward to keeping my kitchen this nice and neat permanently - and to making the rest of my house look just like this - organized, functional, and pretty.  :)

What about you?  How do you organize and keep things the way you like them?  It's a constant struggle here, and I would love to see how others handle it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

STEM Storiez

I was asked to check out STEM Storiez and I'm really glad I was, because we will likely incorporate these into our homeschool preschool lessons.  STEM Storiez are accessible STEM e-books for young children and children with special needs.  I took a look at their website to learn more and discovered these e-books are really pretty amazing. 

From their website:  STEM Storiez is a set of switch-accessible e-books focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEM Storiez incorporate narration, interactive visuals, animations, sound, and adjustable print into an accessible format for inclusion of all children with or without special needs. The unique interactive methods incorporated into STEM Storiez are designed to support the diverse learning needs of children, while making learning fun and interactive.  Touching the screen activates the interactive visuals and sounds – each touch provides a different experience. Or use Zumo, a lovable and huggable smart toy made by engineers that makes the math and science come to life.

Using this technology, a child can learn math and science without even really realizing they are learning, which is really the best kind of learning, don't you think?  STEM fields are so important, and this is an area where I struggled as a child, so I want to give my kids every possible advantage I can.  An interactive e-book that helps teach them math, shapes, money, and so much more is something I can certainly get behind.  And one that uses a plush turtle to help with those lessons is even better.  So check out STEM Storiez and see if it is right for your child.  I'm pretty sure that turtle named Zumo is going to be under our Christmas tree this year.    

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dear Nathan (3 years old)

Dear Nathan,

How is this even possible?  My heart, my love, my little baby.  You are 3 years old!  Time flies when you're having fun - it's so true.  Since you came screaming into our lives, time has gone so quickly.  When I think about the last three years, I can't help thinking the next three years are going to go just as quickly.  Then you will be 6.  And then three more years and you will be 9.  It's almost too much to bear, to think of you growing up so quickly.  To think of you being 6, or 9, or 12... or 21.  It's scary and sad and exhilarating all at the same time. 

I can see pieces of the you that you are going to become - and that person is remarkable.  The way you look at me with such love.  The way you are so gentle with your brother and with the dogs.  The way your eyes and nose crinkle when you're being funny or smiling your giant cheesy smile.  Your brain is amazing.  Having conversations with you, hearing your jokes, the unbelievable comments that come out of your mouth, are some of my favorite things in the entire world. 

You are, and always will be my heart, my love, and my first baby.  The boy who made me a mother.  The sweet baby who nuzzled your face into my chest and the big, bold, boisterous boy who crawls up into my lap and lays his head on my shoulder.  And when you are 6, or 9, or 12 or whatever, I want you to know you can always come to me.  You can always trust me.  You can always tell me whatever is on your mind.  Because you are my boy.  And I am your mommy.  Today, and always. 

Happy birthday, little love. 

A sweet children's book

I was asked to review this book, What Do I Do Well? and I'm so happy I got a chance to read it!  This book is just absolutely wonderful. 

It begins with a young girl's excitement and worries about starting a new year at school.  She talks about missing her best friend from the previous year and hoping she will be in the same class.  The first assignment is to draw a picture of what the student does well.  She thinks about all the things she does well and comes to a very sweet and wonderful conclusion.

I enjoyed reading this book because it has a lovely story and beautiful illustrations.  As a mom, it was very heartwarming to read a story that ends with a child realizing the greatest thing she can do is give love and to care for someone else.  This is a fantastic story to read to or with an older sibling. 

This book is by author Patricia Franklin and is available for preorder right now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The book release date is October 22.