Each week I fill my house with healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options for my husband and our boys. By the time I’m done rationing the fruit and preparing meals – I’ve missed my own food. As a result, I often skip breakfast and indulge in a large, unhealthy lunch.
Why is the health of my family more important than mine? It’s not! All of our health is important. The better I fuel my body, the better I can be for myself and my family.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been making myself an equal participant in the healthy planning. I include myself in the fruit rationing and meal preparation. My energy has increased, and my workouts have been more effective.
Do you put others ahead of your own health? Look at your own meals and decide if you would feed them to the rest of your family. Remember to take care of yourself – you are worth it!!
When we are home, I workout a lot; but on vacation, I leave the gym behind. This doesn’t mean I hang out on the couch and waste my efforts. I find other ways to stay active.
We love exploring new areas and walk all over new cities and towns. Our kids are used to walking lengthy distances and are (mostly) willing companions. While the kids enjoy pushing the buttons on the elevator, they also enjoy racing up and down the stairs.
This year, we planned a cruise for February vacation. We put a lot of effort into research. We chose an itinerary that had a lot of different stops and the day at sea was at the end of the week. We felt the kids would be tired and less antsy.
Each day we were some of the first people off the boat. We ventured to the beach or rainforest and ended with a walk around town. At the beach, we swam and took long walks and in town, we climbed forts and the 99 steps to Blackbeard’s castle.
Walking, allows you the opportunity to truly enjoy your surroundings. Try skipping the cab or shuttle when you can. Stop when you need to and look around before starting again.
A few other tricks, are remembering to engage your core while walking and dining and sneaking in some ab exercises. We flew Jet Blue and had enough leg room to do some seated core exercises like lifting our feet up and down, keeping our feet lifted and opening and closing our knees. In the pool, I sneak in some reverse crunches and sometimes I add a twist to the crunch.
Vacation should be fun and relaxing; but you can have fun and sneak a little exercise in, too.
“Almost” Buffalo Wings (Photo credit: esimpraim)
It is cold and pouring rain, here on the Cape. Our Pats are playing at one and it seems to be the perfect day for easy football food. As I was wandering the grocery store this morning, I decided to share ways that we cut calories. These ideas are not healthy, just healthier for a dark autumn day.
The veggie plan: I put out cucumber slices, celery sticks and baby carrots on a tray and it stays out the whole time. The key is to use your usual dippers, but only put out a smaller amount. We tend to be a little lazy on Sunday and it’s much easier to dip the cucumber that’s in front of you than get up and find more salty dippers. Our kids will graze all day if given the option so leaving out the veggies guarantees they get some good stuff too.
Chicken wings: I buy the Tyson frozen wings (they taste really good grilled if the weather is better where you are). The key here is portions and the blue cheese. Only cook enough for you and any guests (they keep well in the freezer). We have found the Marie’s light chunky blue cheese and the Bolthouse Farms chunky blue cheese yogurt are good substitutes. They both provide the flavor without the calories (the yogurt dressing is the better choice and still creamy). You can even dip some of those veggies in the dressing without too much guilt.
The great turkey substitute: This is more effective when there is heavy seasoning. We are making sweet and sour meatballs (chili and cranberry sauce) but with turkey meatballs. The flavoring is strong enough you don’t need the ground beef. Another area I substitute turkey is in my chili. We often make our chili with ground turkey and sometimes I use turkey kielbasa. Again the seasoning makes the turkey flavorful and you won’t miss all those extra calories.
Pizza rolls: I am all about convenience. I use the Pillsbury pizza dough; put some tomato sauce across the dough and then part-skim mozzarella cheese. Roll one end and continue to roll – place the roll seam down on a cookie sheet and follow the baking instructions on the pizza dough package. Let it cool for a few minutes and slice into circles. The kids love this one and you lose a few calories with the part skim cheese. (turkey pepperoni can be used too :))
Dips: Onion dip is a fan favorite around here. When I use the Lipton mix, I use low-fat (and sometimes fat-free) sour cream. This is again a time where the extra flavoring allows for the lower fat version. I also make a low-fat hot spinach and artichoke dip (here’s the recipe http://simplymoderndance.com/2012/09/10/for-the-love-of-spinach/) that is warm and yummy with very little guilt.
These are simply meant to be ideas that allow you to have your football food with a little less guilt. None of these options are the epitome of health, but they do lesson the caloric intake and taste good! Please share any other dishes or “tricks” that you use for football food.
Our boys have taught us so much from their interactions in kindergarten. Each day when our oldest got off the bus, I would ask him how was school, who did he play with, did he sit with anyone at lunch and how was recess. He would tell me the names of the kids he sat with, how they played tag and so forth on the playground. That was pretty much all that he shared.
In October, I went on a field trip with his class. Imagine my surprise when his “best friend” didn’t speak a word of English. He was assigned to my group and the teacher asked me to help explain the names of animals to this little boy as we saw them on the farm. As I was telling this boy, that the animal in front of us is a turkey; my son interrupts me and says, “Mommy, he doesn’t speak English. He speaks Mandarin Chinese!” It amazed me that in all the afternoons he talked about playing with this boy and eating lunch with him that his lack of English never came up.
Our youngest started kindergarten this week. At dinner we were asking him about his day and who he played with, ate lunch with etc. His continuous answer was “my best friend”. We asked him what his best friend’s name is and he simply answered “I don’t know”. By the end of the week, he did know his name but it was not important.
We have chuckled over these stories; but it really is amazing what doesn’t matter to little kids. They simply enjoy playing with certain people and the details don’t matter. It doesn’t matter what they wear, what they look like or even what language they communicate in. We could all learn to look at the person and not the details. The more open we are the more we will get from our daily interactions.
After the kids got on the bus this morning, I ran around the house like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone! Coming back into the kitchen, I realized it’s time to tackle all of the projects I’ve been putting off until the kids are back at school. The – it will be easier to clean out the playroom, their closet, games, etc – list. Now that I am looking around, I may have wanted to start this process a little earlier.
I am hoping that once I put on some music and start at the top of the list it will all flow from there. Right now, it is pouring rain and I have no motivation. Of course, I have many hours until the boys are home from school. Like my youngest tentatively getting on the bus this morning, I need to take the first step. Pick a project and start it.
In my opinion, all projects need good music. Usually, I play country music while I’m cleaning. The lyrics are easy to sing along with and you can bounce around. Today might be more of a hip hop day. Let the beat drive me through the to-do list (maybe even the explicit versions).
Today is the beginning of my new normal. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and not look too far down the road. My personality is one that wants everything mapped out and nice and neat. I am trying to go with the flow and be myself on this journey. For now, it’s time to turn up the music and take the first step.
So far the summer has been filled with lots of fun and growth. The boys have made great strides in their swimming and social skills – not to mention independence. Early on, I learned that I had tried to fit too much into each day and took a big step back. The boys continued with morning sports activities, but they went to the same camps. On the mornings that I teach, they came with me and went to child watch. Our afternoons and weekends were filled with the beach and friends.
My older son met two brothers last year in his swimming lesson and he was beyond thrilled when they were in his class again this year. My younger son, who tends to warm-up to others at his own pace, also made friends with boys in his swimming lesson this year. They get so excited to see these kids arrive at the beach. They have also found kids from previous soccer and baseball teams and included them in the fun.
For me, it has been an interesting transition to sit back and watch. It seems for so many years, you try to regulate and be sure that your kids are being polite and including others. To watch them interact from a distance has been fun. Overall, the entire group has played well. They have shared shovels, boogie boards and buckets. They dig huge holes and build elaborate sand castles. Of course, there is some Star Wars and military games that go on too.
The formal activities have ended for the summer, but there are many more beach days to come. Hopefully, they will continue to play with their summer friends and be ready for the beginning of the school year. While they have continued to read (or be read to) they have also continued their social growth. The youngest will begin kindergarten in the fall and ride the bus with his older brother. This will truly be a big change for him (and me) but I am confident that he is ready to make new friends and have a great year. The oldest has continued to grow and has done a great job including his little brother. I am assured that he will help show his brother the ropes of a new school and an entirely new adventure.
Watching the boys grow on different levels has helped give me perspective as I also enter a new phase. A year ago, I was anxious to try anything and look for new opportunities. Eventually, a few stuck and now I am in the process of deciding what direction I want to go in this year. Each venture or idea will take a lot of work and I need to set my priorities. This is an interesting balance as a mom. Slowly, but surely – I feel that I am finding the direction I want to head in. It’s currently a matter of what falls into the hobby side of things and where do I see career potential. I am not sure right now, but I am sure it will come.
For now, I am looking forward to enjoying the end of the summer with sand in our toes and smiles on our faces. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen and so is our summer fun!
The first time our seven-year old told us to “chillax bro” we doubled over laughing (after he had left the room). Where had he heard this that he used it perfectly? I’m not sure of the answer but it has helped us in so many ways. Chillax has become our supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The word itself is silly and shocks everyone out of the confrontation. Whenever the boys get really going about something, I look at them and say, “chillax bro” and they wind up giggling. It takes them out of the moment and helps diffuse the battle.
I find it is helping me outside of the house as well. While I would never look at someone and say the words, I do think them to myself. When people are heated driving or standing in line at the store – I simply think, “chillax bro” and it makes me giggle on the inside. Living in a tourist community there are many times over the summer that someone is complaining about slow service, traffic, paying to park at the beach, etc. I am certain if they took a deep breath and realized everyone is trying to enjoy a beautiful part of the country they would not only survive but probably enjoy the day. Even if you can’t say it to someone in public, the thought will ease any tension that you are feeling.
We all have moments when we are frustrated but if we took the moment to chillax life would be much more enjoyable.
This week has been one of those summer weeks that we dream about. After an insane transition week, we earned it. The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. It has the balance of friends and family, throw in the beach and fireworks and it’s perfect. Generally, more people come home for the Fourth than Christmas or Thanksgiving as people have settled down. Honestly, our activities haven’t changed much with kids. We all log as much time at the beach as possible. We may not be out enjoying the nightlife, but I don’t think any of us would trade it. This morning we are getting ready to enjoy the day at the beach with my college roommate and her family.
This is a week where there is a buzz all over town. Yes, there is traffic and you have to plan ahead, but it is so much fun to see the fireworks with thousands of people. The beaches are filled with people of all shapes, sizes and accents. It is truly a melting pot of happiness. It is nice to see families spending time together and without their electronic devices. Yes, we all have cell phones; but I have seen fewer people using them at the beach this week. Parents are looking for shells, digging huge holes for kids to sit in, and swimming with their kids. Others are mini-golfing or strolling the local main streets.
We spent last night with my parents and my aunt before walking to the fireworks and it was a great family event. Complete with wiffle ball in the backyard. The kids have been so tired; they have been quietly playing legos together at the house. We had been having a tough patch, but this week they have been really good. Of course, they still have their moments; but overall they have played really well. They have made new friendships and continue to play with friends they don’t see very often. Next week, we will be back to our new summer routine. There will be baseball and soccer camps in the morning, swimming lessons and I begin my summer teaching schedule; but we will be well rested and ready for the remainder of our summer. Hopefully, all summer will run smoothly, but this week will hold a special place in my heart. Enjoy your week and play in the sun!
We all fantasize about the idyllic summer with kids playing outside, eating ice cream and everyone getting along. Then reality sets in and the kids are running wild around the house. Even if the kids are at a camp or an activity all week – the energy level is still high when they are home. Often, getting everyone outside is a great solution. This can be anything from a playground, walk in a park, swimming or taking in local sporting events. A few basic supplies in the car can allow for a spontaneous outing.
Before having children, I babysat for three small kids on a small island. One of the best days we had, was when it wasn’t a “beach day” and we had been out and about. I decided to take them for a walk on the beach. They began chasing the waves in and out and of course they got soaked. Before letting them get wet, I did a quick inventory in my head and realized I had enough towels for them to be warm and get them changed. As I became a mom, I remembered how having those supplies really helped me out and have continued to keep the car packed with some basics.
I always have sunscreen, bug spray and sweatshirts in the car. I used to keep snacks and drinks until the kids were continuously raiding them. Now, I grab a few on our way out the door and keep them up front with me. There is usually some type of blanket or our beach chairs. This allows us to randomly go for a walk at a nature center or downtown and not worry about the weather too much. It also allows us to stop by the beach or a pond or a lake on our way home on a hot day.
One of our favorite moments last summer was picking up my friend and her two kids. We packed lunches and off we went. The weather was sort of cool and grey so we went for walks at free nature centers along the way. The kids had a blast and we laughed at how quiet they were at certain points of the walk. We did stop for some homemade ice cream on our way home to make the day complete. It was one of those great days that we couldn’t have planned in advance.
The key is to make it your own. Maybe it’s keeping a soccer ball or baseball in the car or a sketch book and markers. It often doesn’t take much to entertain kids when they are outside. If you don’t know much about birds or wildlife there are great apps available and most nature centers will give you some basic info. Perhaps you look at the guide and create a scavenger hunt or mini contest to see who can spot the most birds or find the most different pine cones. The key is to have fun with it and realize with a little advanced planning you can have a fun, quick family outing.
When did being average become a bad thing? It seems in every aspect of our society people are looking upon average as a lack of success. We seem to be living in a world of extremes. You are obese or do military style training, you are wealthy or poor, vegan or junk food lover – what happened to the middle? So many people talk about finding a balance, yet they don’t want to be average. Perhaps it is how we perceive the word.
The funny thing about average is that it’s constantly changing. Look at how much the average cost of living has changed. The same is true for athletics and academics. Personally, I learned to read in first grade which was average at the time. Now, the average first grader is reading chapter books and learning the building blocks of algebra. What used to be unheard of in athletics is now average thanks to different physical training and more advanced equipment. As we continue to grow as a society our average keeps changing.
As a parent, I often reflect on my own memories and experiences. Like everyone, we try to emulate parts of our childhood and maybe tweak other parts. I was a good student and took advanced classes all the way through school. I will never forget the look on my Advanced Placement Physics teacher when he saw that I would be majoring in dance. Having a name at the end of the alphabet, he had read eighteen engineering or pre-med majors and literally stopped in his tracks at dance. He questioned my reasoning for taking his class. My answer was simply that I liked math and science and it was the next logical step. As you might imagine, I never used those great physics skills.
As a dance major, I didn’t need high level math for my gen ed so I took a relatively basic math class. It was in this class that we calculated mortgage and credit card interest. Yes, I had learned these skills early on in math class, but frankly knowing how to compound interest for a mortgage doesn’t mean anything to an eighth grader. I could make the argument that the lower level math class in college was more beneficial than the AP physics in high school for the life that I lead.
Would I change taking advanced classes? Absolutely not, but I don’t think they define me as a person. I am sure they have helped with my daily reasoning skills, but my friends who didn’t take advanced classes are leading wonderful lives. Somewhere along the way, we all met at average and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My goal for my children is to set them up to succeed. For now, that means letting them try a variety of activities and seeing which ones they enjoy. Down the road they will have to make decisions about which ones they want to pursue and I am sure their individual talents will play a role. Most importantly, I hope that they lead a happy life – even if it is average!