Where have you been?

My friends called this long weekend. We are coming to see you. I’m guessing they gave up on me calling to catch up.  1. Moms literally cannot carry on a phone conversation that makes any sense to the people on the other line. Sometimes we cannot even text correctly. Thank you autocorrect! 2. I’m not a phone talker. It’s genetic.  My dad’s side. 

I went back to work about a month ago, and the question I have been asked repeatedly is, how are things going?   Well things have taken back over my life. What it took three years to almost catch up on, three weeks have pushed me right back into old habits. Lesson planning, meetings, laundry, errands squeezed into slots of time no where near appropriately long enough, eating whatever my stomach can find including countless M&M’s, runs skipped, bedtimes rushed…did I mention the laundry? 

I took this weekend as a reset. I slept, I ran, I cooked ahead for the week, cleaned my house, and took time to read with my babies.  I caught up with friends and actually tasted a cup of coffee. I reminded myself of what happens when you burn a candle at both ends. Tomorrow, the struggle for balance will continue on, but hopefully with a healthier perspective. 

Where have you been lately?

Summer Break, Day 1

I did not have a huge organized list of things to do this summer, no bucket lists to prevent boredom, 101 things to make this summer the best.  All of the cleaning out and packing to move has me in a much more minimalist mood this year.  Or I’m just pooped and completely over Pinterest.  Whatever.

We headed out for the orthodontist this morning, so since we were all clean, dressed, and out of the house we decided to complete what I like to think of as the summer reading circuit.  I have at least one child who is extrinsically motivated, so these programs are wonderful!

  • local library – read aloud dates, parties, rewards for books read…FREE! Love it!  Mom’s Favorite for sure.
  • Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon – the kids complete a journal about their reading, return it to the store and get to choose a FREE featured book.  The journal is not bad…answer 3 out of 4 questions.  Thank you!!!
  • Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program – my children’s favorite = they read 300 minutes, they get a store credit.  HPB trips are a major motivator at my house.

We rewarded our stellar bookstore/library behavior with some lunch and play (thanks to the Chick-Fil-A calendar card) and headed home.  What a great start for a “rainstorm looming just to the west” kind of day.

If you have a favorite summer reading rewards program, please – leave it in the comments below! 

If you NEED a list

  • Take kids to eat at Chick-Fil-A.  Let them play in the play area.
  • join summer reading program
  • go on a library trip

P.S. I am totally in the wrong field.  I found my old retainers…for $100, the doctor will look at them and develop a plan.  I’m a mom.  I plan all the time.  No one has ever paid me $100 for my plan.  I do like teeth…just saying.

Cra-May…You know, the crazy month

Each year, May seems like a mad dash to the summer finish line. As temperatures heat up, it seems like every other day is a thunderstorm waiting game.  Swim lessons, end of year school events, spring sports wrapping up, and for some reason in our family, there are a lot of birthdays. We have decided to add to the May madness this year by putting our house on the market.

Everyone has been pitching in.  Our kitchen underwent a much-needed update, but that has left us without our main LIVING space for three weeks (instead of one).  We are far off routine, the kids have watched most of their toys being boxed up, and the dog thinks — well, I don’t know what he thinks, but I’m positive he’s confused.

I’m looking forward to renovations being completed, school being out for the summer and June taking a warm, lazy turn.  So, how does one lady keep her eye on the ball in the midst of choas at home?  Horse racing season of course!  Mother’s Day weekend brought refuge in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Weekend is almost here, and with any luck, I can have a We Sold Our House Belmont Stakes Party!

Mom, TRIs

After our first child was born, I decided I wanted to work toward completing a triathlon. Childbirth – ridiculous race involving three sports – seems like a reasonable jump to me. Two more children and several years later, still no tri under my belt. Something in February (my last birthday…cough, cough) fueled me to get a plan and set a goal.  An old friend of mine is an avid runner, marathoner, and is in all around kick-butt shape.  She was running a half-marathon in the area, so I signed up and started getting to business.

I loved the routine.  You can’t miss workouts and expect to survive anything with the word marathon in it.  I loved the excuse to clean up our eating, avoid eating out, and I loved how now we had a weekly family day.  We were outside, together, and being active.  I think Man kind of liked it too, but more on that later.  It was a new norm, and I liked it.  Time consuming…oh, my, yes.  Scheduling nightmare…sometimes.  Support…for sure. New gadgets, food stuff, and time spent picking out more workout gear…don’t even want to count the dollars.  Worth it?  Totally.

I didn’t magically find running that first mile any easier (I think that will always stink).  I did look forward to the upcoming challenge.  I looked forward to the time outside covering new ground.  I looked forward to seeing my support bike and cart come by.  I felt more me.

Then in early April, we woke up in the dark and drove an hour to a shopping center so I could test my work.  13.1 miles with a few more hills than my legs had seen before.  I stuck to my very detailed plan.  I followed the advice of my veteran friend.  I crossed the line tired, happy, legs killing me, and slightly delusional.  Before the race was over, I was convinced I would do better next time.  Before we got home, I had worked out how I could alter my training plan.  Before the weekend was over, I was picking out a marathon.  After 13.1, why not 26.2?

Looking over the time since I started full-time mom as my full-time job:  Some days, I feel like this mom thing is a fast 5K, other days, I feel like I’m halfway through the Ironman and they are about to DNF me.  Either way, this mom tries.

Run over to the blog, http://www.momtrisblog.wordpress.com to check out my journal of one mom’s trials and triumphs on the road to 26.2 and beyond!  Please note, training for any major athletic event does not impact housekeeping in a positive manner.  Except…the workout shorts & socks are always clean.

Tired of the Weeknight Dinner Rotation?

It’s warming up. There are thunderstorms and new puppies and kids counting down days until summer break.  It’s the “I’m tired”, unmotivated, “are we there yet?” time of year.

I’ve been in that sleepy, tired, this again tread for a while. It’s so hard to be conscientious when being lazy is soooo much easier. It’s so hard to eat wholesome when processed is so much more convenient. Then I will find some new stuff to try, and it pulls me from the rut. Here’s a few recipes to mix up the monotony and bring a life back to the weekly dinner rotation.

Grilled Hamburgers with Faux Fried Okra

Not feeling the grill, but longing for summer BBQs?
Oven Baked BBQ Chicken with Squash Casserole
Oven bake some chicken at 375 until done, but before it’s done, slather on your favorite BBQ sauce. Add yummy squash casserole, and dinner bakes while you play! I butterflied chicken breasts so everything cooked at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

Sick of the piles of dishes? No one will ever guess this meal comes from dirtying just one pot.
Pasta Wonderpot – This recipe from Martha Stewart Living is a shoe-in for a permanent spot in my recipe box. Sooooo simple, such good flavor. I added subbed out some of the water for 1/4 cup of white wine and 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. I recommend using half of the onion. A whole one was a bit much.

I sautéed chicken cutlets to serve over the pasta, but I could see dropping in some Italian sausage or mushrooms to cook right in the pot with everything else.

Try these super easy lettuce wraps from The Complete Savorist.  They are quick, yummy, and I added some sautéed coleslaw mix and shredded carrot for an extra healthy punch. When you must get out of the kitchen, meet some friends for some Asian diner food. Take the kids and embrace the chaos. Everyone needs a break sometimes (& some other adults to talk with)!

Worn plum out?
About thirteen years ago, I was a consultant for Pampered Chef. Every once in a while when I’m dead on my feet, I wake up in front of the prepared crescent dough and find myself serving Chicken and Broccoli Braid or Taco Ring for dinner.

Looking at an overstuffed schedule? Cook one night, and have leftovers to eat on the rest of the week!
Tex-Mex
Teriyaki
Mediterranean

Try taking time over the weekend and prep ahead some crock pot meals. Start them in the morning when you are READY-to-GO! and they will be smelling great and ready to serve by the time mom runs out of gas. I’m currently obsessed with trying all the ideas over at New Leaf Wellness.

Still feeling blue?
Meet some friends for to meet you for some Asian diner food or Sunday brunch. Everyone needs a break sometimes!

Raising kids of a different generation

Every day we are reminded how different life for our kids is compared to our childhood and especially that of our parents and grandparents. Sometimes it’s little things that dawn on me our kids will never do.

Other times its things I never even thought about as a child. Last year, the announcement of the end of elephants in the circus.
Today, Seaworld is ending their Orca/killer whale breeding programs and theatrical shows. Some say the changes currently effecting our society are positive, others argue they are negative.

I say either side is witness to what will be a huge generation gap. The current global climate creates even more reasons to seek out shared experiences with our children. It necessitates invested parenting and intentional decisions.

A letter to my daughter on running and love

My sweet baby girl,

It is my hope that one day (a long time from now), a man will sit across from you with a beautiful ring, and ask you to be his wife.  Sweetheart, please do me a favor.  Stare into his eyes for a few moments and imagine yourself running a marathon with this man.

Will he push you to be a better version of yourself?  Help you up if you slip and fall down?  Think to carry enough water to share if you run short?  Will you laugh together along the route?  Is he strong enough to take the lead if you lose your way?

In young love, it can be hard to see the whole race.  The wall when you run short on energy, the hills, the curves, and the sore muscles.  It’s fun to admire the diamond as it twinkles in the sun, select the wedding dress of your childhood dreams, plan the parties, and open the gifts at the shower. I know it’s even harder to imagine, but one day that lovely dress may not fit.  Will he still think the girl is as beautiful as today?  The ring may not slide over your knuckle after that second baby, will he still honor the promises it represents?  Your little boy may break your beautiful porcelain making invisible ink, the spoons will accidentally get tossed with the trash, and the little apartment you are planning to decorate will become a distant memory.  Will you both grow together and work to keep similar interests?  You will lose loved ones, watch your children grow and leave home, change jobs, homes, maybe even states.  You will change until some days you don’t quite recognize yourself.  Will he still find time to surprise you, make you feel precious and special?  Will your goals and achievements become his?  Will his ambitions become yours?

Outlast the shower gifts, look forward to life together after the children are grown, build something together, and be the kind of running partner you would want by your side.  Sometimes love isn’t dressing up and going to a fancy restaurant.  Sometimes it’s circling the park on a bike while pulling the kids in a trailer, so he can check on you while you train for a goal of yours.  It’s standing on the side of the road with signs cheering you to finish your race.  Remember my precious one – the most important part – he’s running the race too, so support him.  Cheer for him, inspire him, honor your promises to him and make him feel cherished.

That’s what marriage is.  A marathon.  Others will line up to cheer you on and there may even be a few wise coaches to seek advice from.  In the end, you are running a marathon with this man.  God willing, as you near the finish line, you will still have each other –  along with amazing memories of the journey.

I ran my first half marathon yesterday.  Not everyone understood my goal, or the commitment it took from my family to achieve it.  Man rocked it.  He was all in on the “mom support team” from day one.  He was there on the long runs every weekend, at the finish line to catch a pic of me crossing, and all the little hills in between.  I’m so grateful to him for being my main supporter.  He made a fuss and celebrated my goal with the same enthusiasm he would celebrate one of his own.  He’s the best kind of running buddy a girl could ask for.