Right Now

Finishing up the school year.  JV’s last day is today, and Z has wrap-up work to do along with finishing his AP English class as CHS

Thinking about food and health.  Trying to figure out how to eat well and feel good.

Knowing that I need to get started on Z’s graduation announcements.  We are not having a party because he doesn’t want one, but I want to let family and friends know he is graduating.

Looking forward to Spring, which has decided not to arrive.  We woke to a foot inch of snow today.  Yuck.  It is supposed to be colder than average through June. My bones need some heat and sun.  Edit:  Oops, I meant an inch of snow, but is sure felt like a foot. :)

Working  on next year planning for JV, or I will forget what he has done and where we need to start later this year.

Hoping to really spend time this week on Holy Week with a focus on my relationship with Jesus.  Looking forward to spending time in church during the Triduum.

Refocusing on what foods are causing me to not feel the best and eliminating them from my diet.

Feeling pride for JV.  He has made a goal of making so many baskets during the off-season.  That means making at least 200 baskets a day.  He is tackling that goal, even if he is sore from doing weight training.

Feeling pride for Z.  He started working this past week for 3 hours a day before his AP English class.

Planning our summer calendar. Between planning for Z to head off to college and JV’s crazy basketball schedule, the summer is going to go so fast.

Loving my family; spending time with them playing Settlers of Catan, watching The Voice and eating together..

Thinking through my business.  I have focused very little on my business.  Have had only a few sales the last two months.  Trying to figure out how to fit it into my life and get re-motivated to list.

Enjoying the longer days. Love that it is light out until about 8:30 at night. Just wish we could spend it outside more, but difficult with the cold weather.

Vitamix Blender – Green Smoothie

Kale Spinach Smoothie a

Last November I told you how much I loved my new Ninja blender.  Then in January my friend loaned me her Vitamix blender to try.  One try, and I was sold.  Yes, I love my Ninja, but as I began using it for more and more things, I was finding little bits of kale weren’t being blended completely, or little pieces of almonds were still in a smoothie.  I would have been content with it, but then I tried the Vitamix.

This blender pulverizes anything.  I now use my blender at least once and sometimes twice a day.  This guy gets used.  Today, since it is St. Patrick’s day for I made a green smoothie to go with my red cabbage and jicama.  The original recipe was from Stacy Julian.  Here is what I do.

Kale Spinach Smoothie b

Green Smoothie
7 ounces of coconut milk
4 ounces of water
a couple of handfuls of frozen strawberries
a scoop of protein powder (they all taste different and many have a ton of sugar in it; look for low sugar and high protein; keep trying until you find one you like)
several handfuls of baby kale, spinach and swiss chard that I get at Sam’s Club
Blend till smooth and enjoy.

It makes about 20 ounces of smoothie.

My son still uses our Ninja for his individual smoothies, and we still are glad we purchased it.  However, if you are looking for an awesome blender that will blend anything and everything, I recommend spending the money for a Vitamix.  I know you won’t be sorry.

Just last night I made a snack ice cream out of just frozen strawberries and greek yogurt.  No liquid at all.  No problems for this beast.

Do you have a blender you like?  Do tell.

Julienne Zucchini Noodles

Julienned ZucchiniHere is another way I tried in getting more vegetables in our diet.  I julienned two zucchini squash, added a little salt and let it sick for 20 minutes or about the time it took me to make spaghetti sauce and noodles for the boys.  Then, I heated it in the microwave for 1.5 minutes. We put some “noodles” on our plate and added the spaghetti sauce on top.  Yummy.  Less pasta, more vegetables in a yummy way.

The zucchini was slightly crunchy.  If you want a softer “noodle” just heat a little longer.  Pretty sure Big M and I will be eating spaghetti this way in the future.

If you have ever tried julienne zucchini noodles, what did you think?

Reducing Sugar Intact

SugarSomeday I will have to blog about my journey with my health over the past 3 years, but today I want to tell you about sugar.  Sugar is bad for you.  We all know that, but do we really know how bad it is for you.

Check out this post, “You’ll Stop Eating Sugar after Reading this Post” that lists 25 reasons sugar is bad for you. Or if you want a quicker list of 75 ways it can harm your health read, “Counting the Many Ways Sugar Harms Your Health.”  Sugar really is deadly.  There are even studies that show that sugar lights up the same brain areas as cocaine does.  It is definitely addictive.  If you don’t believe me, go 24 hours without any sugar and you will have withdrawals symptoms.

The sad thing is we don’t realize how much sugar we eat each year.  Sugar is in everything.  I used to love eating Yoplait Thick and Creamy Yogurt for breakfast.  Yogurt, it must be healthy for me, but that little 6 ounces had 28 grams of sugar.  That is the pile of sugar on the left, about 7 teaspoons worth. My stomach hurts just looking at how much sugar that really is.

For more than a year now I have eaten Fage Greek Yogurt, it has 6.5 grams of sugar per 6 ounces or 1.5 teaspoons of sugar.  That is the picture on the right.  Think about it, I would eat a yogurt each day, that means I was consuming 10,192 grams or 2,548 teaspoons a year with just my Yoplait yogurt. Just by making that change for the past year I have reduced my sugar intake to 2,366 grams or 592 teaspoons per year.  That is huge, people.  I am telling you…HUGE.

I have not stopped eating sugar.  I still like candy, but eat less of it.  I no longer drink Coke. You know I loved my afternoon Coke. That had even more sugar in it.  I have changed to a Stevia or Erythritol sweetener for my tea and I am trying to reduce that as well.

Americans eat way too much processed food, and almost all of it has sugar in one form or another in it.  I have a long way to go to eliminate my processed sugar cravings, but I have made progress.  I am trying hard to eat at least half my plate as vegetables, a fourth protein and a fourth fats/carbs, as well as chose health, low sugar snacks. My health has improved, but I still am working on it.

Do you pay attention to your sugar intake?

The Beginning of Endings

Zachary swimToday my heart is sad. Last night was Parents’ Night at the pool and the last time Z will swim in the Aquatic Center pool as a high school swimmer.  Oh how the saying fits… “where has the time gone?”

As I have mentioned, it has been a busy few months.  Between basketball and swimming, life just is whizzing by.  That is good because I haven’t been able to think about it all coming to an end.  This week we traveled 1.5 hours one way on Monday to watch JV play a basketball game.  Then on Tuesday I was at the pool getting all of the boys to write a handwritten thank you note to their parents.  I really believe that a handwritten note is so powerful and a lost art.  So we decided that the best thing we could do for parents was to have them write a note and give it to them.  For me that is more powerful than candy or flowers.

I had put together a young boy and current photo of the three seniors.  Z’s photo is above. Tonight we had these photos along with the coaches on the big screen while we did the athlete and student introductions.  Turned out cute. So glad I know enough on Photoshop Elements to complete this project.

Last night I got to the pool early to start organizing parents’ night and found out that our team was hosting the dual instead of the other team.  That means we were responsible for 16 timers.  Normally I am the one who is head timer and responsible for making sure we have enough timers for the meet.  I do this ahead of time, so scramble I did.  Kim and I were able to get the cards and suckers together and ready for the intros, and I was able to get the timers all situated.  We have great parents who are will to help when asked.

All this time I refused to think of what my heart was saying.  I was busy, so I was fine.

The coach had Z pick what he wanted to swim.  As a sprinter he loves the 50 and 100 free, but he decided to do the Individual Medley and the 100 Backstroke.  Fun to see him in different events.

One parent asked me if I was sad and I responded, “I am not thinking about it.” Which was true.  The swim meet went well. Z did well and the team won.  I was able to get the timing stuff put away and head out to the high school gym.  JV had a basketball game.

JV Feb 2014Big M had left the meet early to catch JV’s game.  I was lucky to see the second half of the game.  I am so glad I did.  JV has had a tough season.  Teammate injuries have caused the team to be split up for practices.  Basketball is a game of flow, and his team does not have it, but tonight he was determined and did very well.  The team won, JV was happy.

All I can say is I love watching my kids play and swim.

Came home, had a late supper and instead of the Olympics, we caught the Duke vs. UNC basketball game. We are Duke fans in this house.

Finally past 10:30 I lay my head on the pillow, and that is when it hit me, and I couldn’t fall asleep.  This is the first big ending.  My boy is finishing his high school swim career.   He does have two meets left–the regional and state meets, but not in this pool.  My life has revolved around swimming and basketball for years now.  Life is changing and this is only the start.  Z is turning 18 next month, ending his childhood.  He will be graduating in a couple of months.  Too many ending, and I have always hated endings.

Big M reminds me that endings mean beginnings.  True..Z will be going off to college.  He has so many adventures awaiting him.  I still have 3 years of homeschooling left and 3 years of basketball.  Next year I can completely focus on JV and not have to have my heart and mind in two places…well sort of.  It is all good.

But today my heart is sad.  I don’t want this stage of life to end.  I am so grateful that I am sad. It means we have enjoyed this stage. It means that we have participated in something great that we don’t want to end.  I wouldn’t give up these feelings for the world.  I am so grateful to have been able to watch Z grow in his life and swimming had a lot to do with his physical, as well as mental growth.

So today I will let myself be a little sad and tomorrow…I will let tomorrow come and embrace all of the endings, being mindful of the wonderful memories and the new beginnings because….Life is good, it is all good.

Today…

Boys and I

Life is just speeding by.  This morning Big M said, “I can’t believe February is almost half over.”  It is 6 weeks into the new year, and it feels like it was just Christmas.

Since life is crazy busy lately I decided to do a quick post on what is going on today, so I can remember a snippet of my life.

Today….I woke at 5 a.m. when Big M’s alarm went off.  Felt tired so was trying to go back to sleep, when it occurred to me that I hear Big M in the shower, but I don’t hear Z moving around.

Today…Z forgot to set his alarm.  He has five morning practices left for the swim season. He can’t wait till he can sleep in and not go to 6 a.m. practice. I have to admit, I will enjoy that too.  I don’t have to take him like I used to, but I still wake up.  Looking forward to sleeping until 6.

Today…it is so cold.  It is negative 25 degrees at 8 in the morning, but at least it is sunny, very little wind, and the days are getting longer.

Today…I have a backache.  Spent a total of about 11 hours standing on the cement pool deck on Friday and Saturday. I was head timer for Z’s team’s 2 day Swim Invite.  Then yesterday spent a few hours in the car to Dickinson and back.

Today…my Mother-in-law is staying at our house.  We went and picked her up to spend the week with us, so she can take in the boys’ activities this week. We have 3 basketball games, 2 swim meets and 2 piano festivals this week…and I wonder why with homeschooling, my online business, keeping the house going, etc, I don’t find time to blog.

Today…I am doing laundry.  Seems like I do a load or two every other day or so.  I don’t mind it so much since I really like my new washer and dryer.  My only complaint is that my washer does not wash a load in less than 90 minutes and usually longer.  But the clothes are clean, and I love my quick, gas dryer.

Today…JV finally is feeling better.  He was sick for the third time since Christmas. All last week he was miserable with a sore throat and headache.  No one else has been sick…knock on wood.

Today…we are doing our 30th week of schooling for the year.  It is really starting to hit me that I have less than 3 months of schooling with Z and then I am done.  I graduate, I am finished…wait, I mean Z graduates and is finished with high school.  Only one boy to plan for schooling next year. Mixed emotions are getting stronger every day.

Today…we are having leftovers for supper tonight.  That is dinner for my Idaho and west coast friends.

Today…JV has a basketball game this evening. He struggled playing last week because of being sick, but hopefully he will feel more energetic.

Today…I am reading The Calorie Myth and Drop Dead Healthy.  Really trying hard to eat better. I have made so much progress in feeling better because of changing what I eat.  Still a work in progress, but I am moving more and more toward eating vegetables, fruits, and proteins with some fats for my main source of calories.  Not cutting any food group out completely. Only eliminated foods I am allergic too like peanuts and yeast.  However, I feel better when I don’t eat a lot of process foods and carbs.

Today…I hope to watch some Olympic events this evening.  I enjoy the summer Olympics more than the Winter, but I try to watch a little of it. Those men and women are amazing athletes and have sacrificed so much to be the best of the best.  It is inspiring.

So what is today like for you?  Do you watch the Olympics? What is keeping you so busy?

Connecting with Friends

Cards 1

When my boys were younger I found I had less time for friends.  My friends who I did see also said that they found friendship getting pushed aside to keep up with everything else in their lives…jobs, marriage, children, church, etc.  I realized that was what would have to be in order to not lose my sanity.  My boys would say I have lost it anyway, but that is beside the point.

Last year I realized that with a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old who could take care of themselves I needed to start making more time for friends.  My husband, kids, faith life, extended family, homeschooling, and online business had to still come first, but I could start making time for friends.

I did not do as much as I had hoped last year, but I did more than I had in the past.  I reconnected with a college roommate.  I made arrangements to meet for coffee when I was in her city. We hadn’t seen each other in probably 15 years. We spent about 2.5 wonderful hours reconnecting.  It filled my heart with joy.

I made an effort to have lunch with a few new friends in my home town that I wanted to get to know a little more.  What a joy to spend one-on-one time with these amazing women.

I made an effort to communicate with some friends through Facebook as well.  How wonderful to hear from long-lost friends and relatives.

I also made an effort to send a note or a small item to let a friend far away know I was thinking of them.  Again I felt contentment and peace doing this.

I have made my boys send handwritten thank you notes for gifts received or a kind deed done for them.  Just recently my oldest son sent a thank you note to his piano teacher who went out of his way to write a letter of recommendation at the last-minute.  My son said, “Mom, you were right, it is important to write thank you notes.  Mr. P said that it made his day to receive the note.”  I really don’t believe kindness and handwritten notes are dead.  Yes, little notes through email and Facebook are nice, but there is nothing like a note written in someone’s hand.

This year I made another resolution to continue to reconnect with friends. There are a few whom I have on my list…a faraway friend who was so dear to me during the boys’ younger years. She recently was divorced and had a best friend pass away from college. Yet, have I called or talked to her? I always think I don’t have enough time to talk long enough, so I don’t call.  I need to do something. She is the top of my list.  Or another friend that is faraway. She went back to work and we just don’t connect like I wish we did. There are several more.  They all are in my prayers, but they don’t know that.  I AM going to find ways to connect with them this year.

Recently I saw that a high school classmate of mine whom I have not seen since graduation lost her Mom.  I found her address and sent her a quick sympathy card to let her know I was praying for her, and I wrote about a memory from when we were little.  She wrote a note back saying that she was glad she heard from me and that the note brought back some wonderful memories during a difficult time in her life.  This made me more determined to take time to reach out to people.  I almost didn’t send that message. I thought she might think it weird to here from me after all these years, but I am so glad that I did. It took less than 5 minutes to find her address, write it out and mail it. That act brightened my day and hopefully hers as well.

Cards 2Today I want to encourage you to reach out to someone whom you haven’t talked to or seen in a while.  Call or send a handwritten note. The note can be store-bought or handmade, but find a way to let her know you are thinking of her.

For additional encouragement to reconnect read Becky Higgins‘s blog post, Sunday Notes, on how she is committed this year to send a note once a week.  Love the idea.  I don’t want to put a schedule on myself, but I will be sending more notes in the mail.

Are you willing to send some notes and reconnect…make a difference in someone’s day?

View into My Backyard

IMG_3515The view from my bedroom window at 8:40 a.m.  The sun is barely up, and it is cold outside. It is -17 F.  Yes, that is 17 degrees below zero.  There is only a 5 mph wind, so it feels the same temperature as it is.

Notice the windswept snow. We really have had a difficult winter. That is saying a lot since North Dakota is known for its harsh weather.  It started with freezing rain on Dec 1. That made everything icy for the whole month of December.  During that month we had bone-chilling cold. Many days below zero for highs and wind chill temperatures in the minus 30 to 40 degrees.  It was cold.

Then January came. It warmed up some, but we have been in a pattern of a little warmer weather…somewhere in the 20s or 30s for highs for a day or two and then around zero for a day or two.  The worst part is January isn’t normally too windy.  However the wind has been relentless.  We have had many days where the sustained winds are in the 30 mph range.  There have even been a few with sustained winds in the 50s. That means we have felt into the high 60 mph winds on some days. Let me tell you, when it is already cold, it just can be miserable. There has also been damage from the winds. The even stranger part is that it has been windy at night.  Normally it is calm during the night.

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However, we have had some beautiful moments and sights as well.  Yesterday we had the most gorgeous sun dogs I think I have ever seen.  Check out this photo above from the Bismarck Tribune.  If you want to see more click on the photo.  There literally seemed like we had 3 suns in the sky.  It made me speechless.

I am definitely ready for some nicer weather.  It doesn’t look like it will be happening any time soon.  So in the meantime I will bundle up, drink my hot tea, and enjoy God’s beauty whenever I can.

 

Down Right Freezing Here

Temperature

 

At this wind chill temperature one can get frost bite in 5 minutes. Yes, it is that cold here.  At 11:30 a.m. it is -22F below zero as the regular temperature. If you look below that number it says feels like -46F. Now that is cold.  Yes, it is almost noon, and yes, the sun it out.  The wind is blowing hard…it is only about 15 mph now.  It was almost 30 mph last night.

It is so cold that public schools cancelled school today. They were mostly worried about children getting to school.  It is still so icy in neighborhoods after the freezing rain we had on Friday.  (As a matter of fact one bus slid into the ditch in a neighborhood south of us.)  If the buses were to slide in the ditch or stop running today, kids would be in danger. It is safer to keep them home.

So today we are doing school at home and doing catch up on things we have been easing up on during the holidays and busy sports schedules. My oldest is also working on scholarship applications.  I plan to get some new items listed in my Etsy Shop this afternoon.

I guess with a nice warm house and not having to go anywhere, this cold is a good thing.  Not that I want it to stick around.  The good news is we should have about 30 degree weather by this coming weekend. That is almost a 90 degree swing from our coldest wind chill reading. Life in North Dakota…

For those of you who are wondering why the tablet lists Baldwin rather than Bismarck, it is because we actually live much closer to Baldwin’s reporting station than Bismarck’s, so it is more accurate for where I live.  STAY WARM.

Happy New Year 2014

 

free-happy-new-year-2014-clipartHappy New Year to one and all.  2013 was a great year. It was busy, but I definitely found time for my family.  That is the most important thing for me right now.

For the past two years I have listed my goals specifically regarding my business, my blog and my health.  However, this year I have decided not to create any goals or resolutions.  I see this year as a year of change.  My oldest son will be graduating in May and heading off to college this fall.  I will still be homeschooling, but only my youngest son.  Life as I have known it for 13 years will be changing.  That is a great thing, even as it brings some sadness.

I have decided that the only goals I have are to spend more time in prayer, seeking God’s will in all matters.  I also plan to put my family first whenever I can.  Finally I plan to focus on the moments.  To just enjoy the good and the not-so-great moments.  I want to remember these last few months of life with all four of us under one roof.  Then I want to embrace the changes and really enjoy watching Z go off to college to start his life as a young adult, as well as really enjoy having just JV at home.

I will continue blogging.  It is so much a part of my life, I can’t imagine not having a blog.  It will be sparse for the next couple of months as my boys are heavily involved in swimming and basketball, but I am still here. Working my business when I can. Looking forward to warmer weather that will bring auction sales and garage sales.

May 2014 bring love and peace to your homes.