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. 

So I’m in to salad lately…

I’ve been training for a half marathon. It’s been in the high seventies in Texas. It feels like spring, so I’ve been into salads. Lovely colorful salads. And running in the sunshine….aaaaaahhhh. I do love Texas.

 Pecan Crusted Chicken Berry Salad

Sally’s Baking Addiction’s pecan crusted chicken. (Totally worth the effort to make a big batch) layered on organic mixed baby greens, honey goat cheese, atrawberries, blackberries, avocados. Balsamic drizzle. 

Oh my, craveable.

Steak & Quinoa Salad

Butter lettuce
pecans, dried cranberries, chopped apples, avocado, red quinoa, grilled steak. 

Yummy, simple, and kid approved!

Could Not Be Easier Chicken Salad

Shredded chicken breast, juice of one lime, small handful cilantro, one ripe avocado, few dashes of Pickapeppa sauce on a bed of sweet kale greens.

Delicious and guilt-free!

The mom pregame

In college, the term pregaming was thrown around before every sorority formal or Thursday bar night. Im a featherweight drinker, so this always seemed a bit ridiculous to me. Any who. Man had a boys’ night out awhile back and there it was again. “we were getting in a little pregame at So-in-So’s house”….flashback 15 years…Pregaming. 

Then, a few days later, I had a moms’ free for dinner night out with one of my friends. We started the night at Target. We visited, roamed the departments and enjoyed the quiet. Then we remembered, “why are we standing in Target talking, we can talk more at dinner”! It was fabulous.

This all got me to thinking…the mom pregame: Target alone, with a friend.

Love this: The 4 types of Mom’s You See at Target by Love and Marriage Blog

Day 7: Lighting the Fuse

December left me drained.  Emotionally, physically, and socially drained. So where do you find a spark when you lack motivation? I know the easiest way to create motivation is routine.  I need to get back into a routine fast. Routines lead to habits, and habits lead to lifestyle changes.  Maybe this month I will only get back into a routine in a few areas of my life, but at least that’s lighting the fuse.

1. Get more sleep. With kids, heading back to school automatically lends itself to regular sleep, and for the most part, mealtime schedules.

2. Clean up our meals & snacks.  The saying goes, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”, and the dietitian in me knows it’s true.

Check out the Out of Milk App – load reusable shopping lists on to your phone, stick to them, and you are well on your way to cleaner eating.  Just having food in the fridge at home decreases the chance of stopping for fast food or pizza when mealtime comes calling (or in the case of kids, whining). Cook Eat Paleo has one of the better unprocessed lists I’ve come across, albeit too restrictive for some (side note: I have tried and cannot stand egg white powders). If you aren’t interested in buying all organic, look up the dirty dozen+ and clean fifteen at EWG.

3. Get more water. Start your day with a glass of water. Find a water bottle/jug/cup and carry it with you everywhere.  Refill it. Refill it again.  

4. Start the day on the right side. Find some quiet time (which may mean waking a little earlier – cringe).  Hide in the shower, read with a cup of coffee, meditate, or play music while you get everyone awake and ready.  Mommas, we set the tone of our home whether we want to or not.

I love Good Morning Girls, and they happen to be starting a study this week.  No materials or homework required!

Time flies…hello 2016

Day 1: 

I often think about the old adage, “time flies when you’re having fun”. Well guess what? It flies when you’re not too. Last year was a lot of happy, frustration, sadness, hope, surprise, and dismay all tied together in one wonderful knot. Marriage, children, world events, and family life can do that to a person. 

Reflecting over the past twelve months led to an examination of the past thirty four years.  In so many ways I’m right where I always imagined I would be. In others, I’m  a world away.  I have witnessed and done things I never dreamed and I have truly remarkable people in my life. With the dawn of this year came the realization I will soon be firmly planted in the middle age mom category. Friends, there are a few things on my laundry list that I have dorked around with for far too long.  It’s time to stop jacking around and get down to it.  

I have had fun years, hard years, and “I don’t know how I ever did that” years.  There have been years of great change and great joy.  I’m not sure how this year will end up, but at the starting line there is great determination in the air. I’m looking for a little inspiration, a lot more adventure, and one memorable ride. Tick tock y’all. 

Men Stuff…Cause the other word just isn’t ladylike.

Women, I know we get the reputation for being the harder to please sex, but there are days that I feel my whims are well deserved.

Like when Man goes out for deer and he comes home with a rattlesnake.  Then asks you to make fajitas with it.  These are the days that remind me of the other man related things that seep into my every day life.  For instance:

  • the 9,999 screaming for attention around the house, but he found this stand and feeder for one GREAT deal, and it just needs a couple of adjustments
  • when you go to get a family pet and there are retrieving requirements and frozen birds in your deep freeze
  • when the number of animal heads on your walls is the same as the number of children’s photos hung
  • the sheer number of hunting related apparatus that fill our garage, shed and carport
  • so many other hunter related items I have learned to love as part of his charm over the last 13 years.
  • Most days I don’t mind the hunter, fisher, all season outdoorsman.  He’s rugged, tough, and very masculine.  He comes home from the hunt scruffy, happy, and smelling like campfire.  It is part of what makes me feel safe and secure and know our family will always be provided for.  It’s sexy.

    But, then there are days, when he knows.  I am sooooo not finding Mr. Great Outdoors sexy or cute.

    Today is one of those days.  He grins and pokes fun at me a little and says, “baby, this is man s&*t.”

    Yeah, I saw the writing on the wall New Year’s Eve circa 2001 and I married him anyway.  I apologize to my pretty french pan and simmer the snake.  I make myself some yard bird and day dream that I probably earned myself a date night.  No butchering or skinning required.

    Writer’s Note:  The snake was brought home as meat. No skin, no head, no rattle. Looks like a long fish. The snake died because it was in the barn between my son and my husband aactively rattling with its head up. My husband is a hunter and though many may not agree, I can count on one hand the number of animals he has killed and not eaten (he draws the line at rodents).

    Our boys fully understand what it means to harvest an animal, why we eat game opposed to only commercially produced meat, and the ramifications of over population of prey (such as deer) in an area. I can definitely respect Man for those lessons. As for the meat last night…I had chicken. He was fully prepared to eat that one by himself.

    Holiday Checklist, Dinner – Done!

    The hustle bustle is tuning up, and soon moms across the world will have to-do lists longer than their arms.  Please let me give your bustle a little less hustle with planned out meals for the holiday season.

    Daily Dinner Plan – with Crockpot options

    November 30
    Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Thyme, Quick Roasted Asparagus

    December 1
    Diner Comfort Food – Cheesesteak Style or Patty Melt Sandwiches

    December 2
    One Pot Chicken and Rice – you’ll have leftovers, so you won’t have to worry about hubby’s lunch tomorrow or the rice for next week’s soup

    December 3
    Minestrone Soup

    December 4
    Baked Chicken Parmesan or this yummy looking Milanese (less cheese, more calories for cookies) An even easier version is this chicken parmesan casserole you could assemble ahead.

    December 5
    Paula Deen’s Pulled Pork Stuffed into Baked Potatoes (make a double batch of the pork, and you’re ready for next week)

    December 6
    Chicken Cordon Bleu with Steamed or Roasted Veggies and a Green Salad

    December 7
    Baked white fish sliders with not-your-normal cole slaw and oven fries

    December 8
    Shredded Beef Tacos or mix it up with these Korean Style Lettuce Wraps (both of these yield awesome leftovers)

    December 9
    Chicken and Rice Soup

    December 10
    Stuffed Pasta Shells (add in sautéed dark greens instead of meat and make this dish for Meatless Monday) A great reason to make a big pot of marinara and freeze for another busy night.

    December 11
    Texas Chili Bar – no beans here! (brown the meat , onion and garlic, then pop in the crockpot with all the other ingredients so it’s ready when you are)

    Tonight is family game night, and make your own bowls of chili couldn’t be easier! Save the extra cornbread for next week’s stuffed peppers.

    December 12
    Mediterranean Style One Dish Herb Chicken Bake

    December 13
    BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (this is actually leftover pork from the baked potato night that I froze for a super quick meal)

    December 14
    Veggie Lo Mein

    December 15
    Tis this season for family and friends, so why not make Taco Tuesday an event? Grab a holiday flick or make an impromptu craft or gift wrapping party.  Try these Seven Layer Tostadas

    December 16
    Pioneer Woman’s Pork Chops with Pineapple fried rice

    December 17
    Chicken and Cornbread Stuffed Peppers OR My Stuffed Bell Peppers

    December 18
    My Potato Soup – a nod to my family heritage — so easy and yummy

    December 19
    Broiled Salmon and roasted veggies

    December 20
    Whisky BBQ Meatballs ( I use my BBQ sauce recipe, then  add mashed potatoes (or steamed veggies, or herbed noodles – the side options are endless)

    December 21
    Kid’s Night – Bake cookies, make treats, watch your favorite holiday movie, let them invite friends over for a sleepless slumber party – the kids hang out, then everyone goes home and goes to their own beds for sleeping

    Dinner cooked in muffin tins makes everything easy to divide and easy to eat – Mary Beth’s Knock Your Socks off Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese Cups

    December 22
    Soupeasy dinner so you can get to those last minute items on your list

    December 23
    In Texas, Christmas brings Tamales – order some, or try these cheats

    December 24 & 25
    Christmas Eve & Christmas Day are not included since everyone has their own traditions

    December 26
    With new toys to try and games to play, try one of these breakfast casseroles to start, or end , your day

    December 27
    Supreme Pizza Pasta (toss in the slow cooker or even freeze ahead)

    December 28
    Grilled Venison Backstrap with Gingered Carrots

    December 29
    Pioneer Woman’s Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

    December 30
    Baked chimichangas

    December 31
    Stay in Date Nite – going out when you have young children is rare; I don’t want to spend it with crowds

    Chicken Marsala with Garlic Whipped Potatoes & Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

    Forget the bubbly, this year I’m making these bourbon Blizzards.

    Keep in the Freezer for One of Those Really Long Days – seriously, you don’t even need a side!

    Make a Bunch and Save for Lunch

    Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork – In the oven or slow cooker, this make it and leave it dish is great on slider rolls with sliced gouda or piled in tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a lime wedge for quick pork tacos – Plus there are usually plenty of leftovers to freeze and use again*

    Pecan Crusted Chicken – these take some prep up front, but they are easy to make and freeze great

    Browned & seasoned ground beef, bison, or turkey (use in tacos, quesadillas, as pizza toppings)

    Chicken Fajita meat – try this marinade to elevate them beyond normal week night.

    Bring a Little Holiday Spirit into Your Kitchen

    Christmas Scones

    Gingerbread Waffles – I haven’t made these yet, but they are on my must try list

    Fresh Cranberry Scones

    Hosting Guests? These touches are sure to impress

    For their room:

    • Recently I stayed at my brothers’ and one of the most welcome treats was their selection of pillows. Doesn’t sound like much, but with everyone having their own preference, being able to choose was a luxury. Of course, I picked them all!
    • Have an extra throw blanket in the room, especially for those who travel across the country, the climate change can be shocking

    In the Morning:

    • Create a coffee and tea station next to a bowl of fruit so early risers can serve themselves and relax.
    • Your guests will be convinced they’re at a B&B with these breakfasts-Homemade donuts – these puppies are all baked so you can indulge without standing over the frypan or having guilt-Blueberry Baked Oatmeal or Bobby’s Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
    • Baked egg boats would be restaurant worthy
    • Set a loaf of bread to make overnight, so you wake to Fresh Bread machine with make ahead berry butter spread
    • Save some time with this gourmet casserole

    Stock Ahead for Comfy Touches:

    • make sure the bar is stocked, grab an extra bottle of wine to mull (awesome on the day guests are arriving), have some bottled sparkling water or ginger ale on hand
    • early in the month, check dry goods in your pantry so you are prepared for last minute at home meals that come with an unexpected winter storm front
    • make cookie dough and freeze, so fresh baked cookies are quick to whip up

    Fix-Aead Dinners that Feed a Crowd:

    It’s that time of year again! Shopping Lists, Little Elves, and Lots of Holiday Fun!

    Sometimes us moms need a little help keeping it all balanced around the holidays.  With ever ending to-do lists, hard to handle relatives, and busy schedules, it can seem like a real job bringing joy and magic to the season.  I hope my December no-thought meals, What to do with that ELF list, and 2015 gift guide can make your holiday just a little happier!

    What to do with that ELF? list.

    Nov 29 – it’s back! – ours takes the USPS…some throw a party, some arrive toy airplane, by train, or go all out and make a hot air balloon – tonight you’re on your own.

    Nov 30 – spilling DVDs and books all over living room

    Dec 1 – making a paper chain

    Dec 2 – hanging out of cabinet surrounded by police cars

    Dec 3 – drawing minions on the bananas

    Dec 4 – over the door swing on tp roll

    Dec 5 – repelling at window

    Dec 6 – working on the truck

    Dec 7 – digging in M&M bag

    Dec 8 – in a Lincoln log house

    Dec 9 – making paper snowflakes*

    Dec 10 – gift bows all over kitchen

    Dec 11 – playing cards or board game with stuffed animals*

    Dec 12 – riding t-rex

    Dec 13 – hiding in the silverware drawer

    Dec 14 – roasting marshmallows over a candle

    Dec 15 – goldfishing with pole

    Dec 16 – sack race

    Dec 17 – stuck under a weight while working out

    Dec 18 – hiding under a glass (staged to play hide and seek with a toy)

    Dec 19 – riding in the remote control car (doll controlling it)

    Dec 20 – Little people carriage ride with doll

    Dec 21 – checking out a yarn moustache in the mirror

    Dec 22 – posing behind an empty picture frame

    Dec 23 – crepe paper over door

    Dec 24 – praying over Bible/ letter goodbye

    Supplies – police cars, gift bows, bananas, paper lunch sacks, goldfish, cards/game (game night supplies), supplies for paper snowflakes, small hand weight, remote control car, paper chain supplies, little people carriage, crepe paper, brown yarn, M&M’s, Bible/goodbye letter, small picture frame, Little People and doll, drinking glass

    If you are like me, you know you’re going to fall asleep or forget to move the little guy at least once, so plan ahead with a little Pinterest help…

    Thankful for the Beautiful

    If you haven’t ever read these familiar lyrics completely through, today is a great day to do so. Thankful for so many blessings. All too often we take things for granted.

    O, beautiful for spacious skies, 

    For amber waves of grain,   

    For purple mountain majesties 

    Above the fruited plain! 

    America! America! 

    God shed his grace on thee 

    And crown thy good with brotherhood 

    From sea to shining sea! 
    O beautiful for pilgrim feet 

    Whose stern impassioned stress

    A thoroughfare of freedom beat 

    Across the wilderness! 

    America! America! 

    God mend thine every flaw, 

    Confirm thy soul in self-control, 

    Thy liberty in law! 
    O beautiful for heroes proved 

    In liberating strife. 

    Who more than self their country loved

    And mercy more than life! 

    America! America! 

    May God thy gold refine 

    Till all success be nobleness 

    And every gain divine! 
    O beautiful for patriot dream 

    That sees beyond the years 

    Thine alabaster cities gleam 

    Undimmed by human tears! 

    America! America! 

    God shed his grace on thee 

    And crown thy good with brotherhood 

    From sea to shining sea! 

    Katharine Lee Bates