Lately, I feel like the life I'm living is in a constant state of "two steps forward, ten steps back." And not in some fun, Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat kind of way. You know, "Two steps forward, two steps back, we come together 'cause opposites attract ..."
Like, for every molehill I surmount, there's a mountain ahead of me I'm going to tumble tragically down.
My kid actually listens one day when I ask him to pick up his toys and does so without any whining, bickering, or ignoring. Then, the next day he pinches someone at preschool and gets sent to the office.
I make a new friend and feel an instant, I've-known-you-all-my-life connection. Two days later, doubt creeps into my mind and I question whether this new friend even likes me at all.
I manage to finally get the house cleaned and feel proud of my accomplishments. The next day, I remember that it's my husband's birthday in two days and I haven't even thought about what to get him. Not to mention, I've managed to miss my brothers' birthdays altogether and now have to tuck my tail between my legs and send the "it's late, so of course it's from me" gift.
Some days, I feel like opening my arms and heart to the world, and shouting, "Bring on the day! Let me be a light unto this world and do all the good that I can with all that I'm given." I am Superwoman, trying to be everything to everyone and sincerely wanting to do it all right.
Other days, I want to put on the heaviest, thickest body armor around and close myself into my house, barring the windows and the doors, removing any piece of myself from connection to the outside world. I'm wallowing in self doubt and seriously wondering if one iota of my being really even matters to anyone else.
I suppose I could lay "blame" for this stage of my life on many things. Maybe it's life with a 3 1/2 year old. Maybe it's motherhood in general, which is not the most forgiving of professions. Maybe it's my hormones and the PCOS that's ravaging my body. Maybe it's Satan, trying to attack me where both he and God know I'm all too vulnerable. Maybe it's because I don't love myself, so I don't see where others should either. Maybe I'm in a valley of life right now, instead of on a peak. Maybe, and this is the scariest maybe of all, it's all true and I just don't stack up as a person the way I should.
I truly don't know. I don't have the answers. If I did, I would do whatever necessary to remove myself from this rut.
Why am I sharing this? Is it just to get anyone who happens to read it (as if anyone's still paying any attention to this pathetic blog) down in the doldrums with me?
Nope. I'm sharing this for two reasons.
1) This blog is about my life and I want it to be honest, so I'm sharing my life right now. Pockmarks and all. This is my free therapy session.
2) I hope that it will encourage anyone who reads it and feels the same way I do, and remind them that they're not alone. Alone is not a great way to feel. I feel it often, whether in a crowd or at home.
I long to tie this post up in pretty paper with a neat bow, but I just can't. It's where I'm at right now. I just have to trust that God will meet me right where I am.
By: Henry David Thoreau
Great God, I ask for no meaner pelf
Than that I may not disappoint myself,
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye.
And next in value, which thy kindness lends,
That I may greatly disappoint my friends,
Howe'er they think or hope that it may be,
They may not dream how thou'st distinguished me.
That my weak hand may equal my firm faith
And my life practice what my tongue saith
That my low conduct may not show
Nor my relenting lines
That I thy purpose did not know
Or overrated thy designs.
I'm three days behind on posting for the 31 Days of Natural Nutrition challenge. I hadn't planned to post on Saturday because the hubs and I got out of town for the night, so I was giving myself a day off.
One day turned into three, and I'm only posting now to sadly say I'm running out of steam on this challenge. I don't know if it's the day or what I've been eating, but I have literally no inspiration or motivation right now.
It's pitiful. I'm going to hibernate until tomorrow in hopes that my motivation will return. I don't like feeling this way.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a more fruitful day (pun intended). Here's to sleep!
Here I am. Posting again. I'm loving this 31 Days challenge mostly because it's keeping me accountable to my blog and writing consistently. Thus, I'm feeling more inspired.
Head on over to the Nesting Place if you want to read some of the many other 31 dayers' challenges.
Day 7 for me was all about easy peasy. After turning my scrumptious chocolate chip banana bread recipe into muffins this morning for MOPS, I was kind of petered out on cooking the rest of the day. (The banana bread recipe is a total necessary share, but was a hand-me-down from my grandmother-in-law, so I'll have to type it up and share later. Stay tuned.)
*Short commercial: MOPS is not a household cleaning product nor is it a weird syndrome; it's Mothers of Preschoolers. If you haven't heard of it or been to one and you have preschoolers, find a group and GO! Now! Seriously. It's saved my life and made me a better Christian wife, mother, and woman overall.
Anywho, still recovering from my cold kept me from planning dinner and left me standing in front of the fridge at 5:15 p.m. thinking, "What in the world am I going to cook?" Meanwhile, hubby's grumbling in the living room because he's already been hungry for an hour.
I decided to throw some chicken in the oven and grill up some of our fresh veggies that were, quite literally, dying to get used. This reminded me of one super-easy thing I could share.
I don't know about you, but fresh veggies used to intimidate me. I didn't know how to prepare them, let alone cut them half the time. I'm no pro now, but I've made strides and have found some go-to methods that work in a pinch.
If you're in a rush and want to (or need to) cook up some of your fresh veggies, here's a little secret. Two ingredients are all you need to make most veggies taste fantastic. Be prepared to be dazzled. Here you go: olive oil and season salt. It really is that easy. Toss your chosen veggie(s) in a blend of olive oil and season salt and either roast them in the oven or toss them in a grill basket and let the magic begin. BAM! Our favorite veggie prepared this way is zucchini. The season salt just makes the flavor explode and grilling them keeps them from getting too soggy, as squash can be prone to do.
I've used this recipe with zucchini, all different types of squash, sweet potatoes, etc. It's so simple and relatively healthy. No more Rachael Ray 15-ingredient veggie side dishes around here. I'll save those for when I truly have the time, which may not ever come. For now, we do simple. And simple is good.
Five Minute Friday this week is on ordinary. Eek. So many thoughts swim through my mind.
Ordinary. Yikes. That word gives me the heebie jeebies to be honest. It's probably what I'm most fearful of in life, just being ordinary.
You see, I want to be meaningful, creative, visionary. Anything but ordinary. As a stay-at-home mom, there are times, more often than not, that the ONLY thing I feel is ordinary. I often feel like an automaton could come in and take my place and no one else would notice. I feel like what I'm doing is just ordinary, everyday stuff. Dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning (who am I kidding? I really shouldn't even list this, that's how infrequently I clean my house).
But you know what? God is stretching me and growing me, and SLOWLY (very slowly) showing me that ordinary is an alright place to be. Because you know who God used? Ordinary people. Everyday people. He used the ordinary to do things that were extraordinary.
I pray for that for my life. I want God to use this ordinary mom life I feel I'm living and make it burst with extraordinary for His glory.
Want to hear the tough stuff? It takes me realizing that what I'm doing every day, the ins and outs of mothering and wifing, are anything but ordinary. I have the opportunity on a daily basis to extraordinarily touch the lives of the two people I hold most dear, my husband and my son.
THAT is anything but ordinary. THAT is my calling. I need to answer the Lord's call with a resounding "Yes!"
*I love how God smacks me upside the head at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. He really is SO good to care.*
It's Day 6 and things are looking up. This post will be short and sweet, as I'm posting from my iPad since I'm actually in bed before midnight!
Today was filled with much healthier choices and feeling better overall. My nutritional share for today is spaghetti squash. It's one of our favorites and oh so easy to prepare. If you haven't tried it, don't be apprehensive. Grab one next time you're at the farmer's market or grocery.
We use spaghetti squash as a substitute for the pasta in our spaghetti dinner. It's so good, with the only difference being a consistency issue. When I first made it, I cringed upon serving it to my husband because he loves his pasta. Much to my surprise, he prefers the spaghetti squash over the spaghetti noodles. Score!
Here's what to do with the spaghetti squash. Cut it in half and scrape out all the seeds and "guts" as we'd call them. Then flip both halves over in a baking dish and poke the rind of each half several times with a fork. Throw the dish in an oven preheated to 350 for 30-40 minutes or until done. When the squash is done, you just have to hold each side up and scrape the inside out with a fork. The inside comes out in strands, resembling spaghetti. If you have older kids, they'll probably fancy this pretty cool. My three year old just runs!
Toss some squash on a plate and top with spaghetti sauce with meat or marinara for a vegetarian option. It tastes fabulous and is truly healthy! No need to hit the couch afterward due to a carb overload!
Paired with some wine and candlelight, this is a perfect in-home date with your spouse. Molto bene!
Because I feel like the veil is being lifted on this doggone cold I've got, it's a "double rainbow" kind of day. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here you go. You can thank me later. Take the next six minutes of your day and watch these two videos. Trust me. The first is the infamous "double rainbow" discovery, while the second is a remixed "double rainbow" song. You have to watch the first to fully appreciate the remix, which. is. awesome. Enjoy!
When you're finished laughing, which could be a while, continue ...
Whoa! What does this mean?
I must humbly thank our friends Mark and Joanne for introducing us to the infamous "double rainbow" videos after we saw this double rainbow on our last day vacationing with them in Kauai.
Two posts in one night: this is record breaking for my poor blog. ;)
Just wanted to share some goings on in our life of late, or what we like to call in our house "stuff and some such."
First up is a biggie for me. I'm seriously considering/might already be training for a half marathon. A friend of mine suggested I do the run with her, and before I could think, I was like, "Yeah, that sounds great." I desperately need to get in shape. I mean, I'm lugging this old jalopy of a body around when God's given me the time and money to turn it into a muscle car.
Who am I kidding though? A half marathon is 13.1 miles. I've never even walked 13.1 miles that I can recall. Did I mention that I actually hate to run? I'd rather do the Fox Trot for 13.1 miles than run. If I end up doing this race, I might have to Fox Trot, Samba, or something to be able to even make it to the end. Not to mention it's in four months. That's like 120 days. I've heard of Couch to 5K, but Couch to Half Marathon?!? What am I thinking?
I think watching that video actually made my mind up for me that I will be running. Because I can. For those who can't. I've always had a heart for the physically disabled, so now's the time to literally put my legs behind it and make a difference.
My husband thinks I'm crazy to ask for donations in an economy like this, but I'm out to prove otherwise. Remember how I don't like to be told I can't do something? Be on the lookout for a link to my fundraising page once I officially sign up for the race. I can't do the run alone, but I can do it with Christ.
In other news, I'm super stoked that my little guy is finally into being read to and reading books on his own. Being a bibliophile, I have been bothered that up until now, he wasn't that interested in books and wouldn't sit still long enough to get through one page. I recall wondering if he'd ever learn to love books and see the worlds he could explore through the flipping of the pages. The time has finally come! He loves to sit in my lap and hear stories, and it has become one of my most treasured activities to do with him. We just picked up a couple of new books on a recent jaunt to the grocery store of all places. Here's what we ended up with:
A beautiful story about finding where you fit in.
A wonderful book about thanking God for each day.
We read the two tonight, and my son enjoyed the first, while I enjoyed the latter. Seven dollars spent for treasured time together is not too bad. I'm looking forward to the world of books we've yet to discover!
If you have any personal favorites you'd like to share, please do. I am always on the lookout!
Lastly, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll notice I updated the background. I grew tired of the drab colors of the former background. This new background is much more "me." It has pink, butterflies, and sparkles for crying out loud! Hope you like it as much as I do.
You might notice I was absent from my blog yesterday. Wanna know why? 'Cause I'm a BIG, FAT hypocrite, that's why. I don't think I ate one thing yesterday that wasn't processed in some way nor am I sure I even ate anything in its raw or pure form. Epic fail!
I have since dusted myself off from that wagon fall and learned a lesson. I am what I eat. When I eat like crap, I feel like crap. Between a son with a stomach virus and myself with the cold that won't end, it's a veritable germfest in our house right now. Thus, yesterday, all caution was thrown to the wind and we ate whatever soothed our bellies and palates.
The funny thing is that the so-called "comfort food" I ate didn't bring me any comfort. I ended up being disappointed in myself for sacrificing and going to bed with a distended tummy chock full of carbs and high-fructose corn syrup. My prenatal vitamin and extra vitamin C tablet were the only redeeming things to pass through my esophagus yesterday besides water.
I heard a quote the other day that first stung me, then resonated deeply: "What we eat in private shows in public." I may not think those 5 or 10 M&Ms I'm tossing back between lunch and dinner are affecting me, but they are. Especially if I toss 5 or 10 back five times a day.
I'm learning slowly (like at a snail's pace, y'all) that my health/weight/well-being are a combination of when, what, and how much I choose to eat. Living with PCOS (which I discussed in this post), I cannot simply follow a reduced-calorie, "less in, more out" type of diet and expect to garner great results. Sure, calorie reduction and increased exercise will help, but it's not enough. A lot of what's going on with my body is in the way it's responding to what I choose to eat.
So you'd think I'd be even more sensitive and follow "the rules" better, right? Nah. I don't like being told I can't do something, so this interferes with the core of trying to eat better. I have to realize that there are things I can't eat (well, maybe I can, but I truly shouldn't) if I want to be the healthiest version of me possible.
It all comes down to this: do I want to be healthy or do I want the momentary pleasure of ________ (insert your choice of comfort food, sugary treat, or calorie-laden drink)? I want to be healthy. That is my utmost desire. The momentary pleasureof unhealthy food (and that's truly all it amounts to) is just not worth it. Now to train my irrational mind to remember this ideal when it's past lunch and I'm scrambling to find something to stuff in my mouth is quite a different story.
I'm fresh out of ideas on how to beat my addiction to processed, unhealthy foods. There are many times in a day where I vehemently want to tear through my pantry and fridge, removing any semblance of processing, refining, filling and head to the nearest dump with the stuff. The me that hates to waste is what holds the tiger back. I figure we'll just finish it out and then not buy it again. Maybe I need to just let it go, release my wrath on the kitchen, and not look back. It certainly can't hurt us.
What ways are you successful at eliminating or limiting processed foods in your diet? How do you overcome the urge to consume "comfort" food? What natural foods give you that comfort you long for?
Forgive me if these first few posts seem "introductory" to some of you more seasoned nutritionistas, but I figure it will best serve me to flesh out the whys of what I'm doing in an effort to make it stick and remind me of my goals.
Today, I want to tackle why we've chosen to go organic. First, I want to post what's called the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15." These are lists of the 12 foods to always (or whenever possible) buy organic and the 15 cleanest (least chemically treated) foods. I find these lists help me discern how to make the safest choice when I need to buy conventionally grown produce. The lists are courtesy of the Environmental Working Group.
Am I posting this info as a scare tactic? Yes, and no. I do want to "scare" people away from buying chemical- and pesticide-laden produce for their families, especially their children. More importantly though, I want to inform people of the situation at hand so they can in turn make informed decisions on what type of produce they buy. I'm not exaggerating in saying that the overuse of pesticides in our society makes me fighting mad. I mean, sure it might've been OK decades ago when we didn't know better, but now we do. We're knowingly poisoning our people little by little. OK, coming down off the soapbox now.
I know a huge concern for families in whether or not to buy organic produce is the affordability factor. Budgetary constraints unfortunately do not care whether an apple's organic or conventional. That's why I think the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists can be extremely helpful to a mom who wants to reduce chemical exposure in her home.
Did you know there can be as many as four pesticides on one little apple? Not to mention the wax it's coated with to make it sit there all shiny on your grocer's table. Gag. Raisins are another food not mentioned above, but worth investing the extra money in for organic. Grapes are on the dirty dozen list, so those raisins are highly chemically treated. I don't know about you, but my kid eats A LOT of raisins. I don't want to sweat about what else he's ingesting, so I go organic on those.
I could go on for days on this subject once I get all impassioned, but I'll spare you and only mention one more important food choice we make: organic milk. My husband actually had a doctor he works with tell him that if he was going to do anything organic at all, at least buy organic milk. I know, it's got a high price tag so it hits the pocketbook hard. On the flip side though, it's free of hormones, chemicals, and is produced in an environmentally friendly way.
If you're new to the world of organic food, I'd suggest doing some independent research to see what will work best to ease your family into the changes. Look into local co-op opportunities, CSAs (community supported agriculture), or even farmer's markets. These options tend to be more affordable and offer better selection than your typical chain grocery store.
It's so easy to want to overhaul your family's diet and nutrition in one fell swoop, but one step at a time does it just fine. I say just making the choice to be cognizant about what you're putting on your table is a step in the right direction.
I'm totally stoked and ready to devote this month to natural nutrition! I can't think of a more basic place to start when talking about our health and how best to take care of ourselves.
I thought I'd start off by sharing a few of the foods we've discovered in our house via our wonderful organic produce co-op.
*Please don't snicker if these foods are totally obvious to you. We come from limited produce backgrounds in our home. ;) *
Here are my fun food finds of late (just typing those three Fs made me giddy):
DATES!!! (I'm not a three exclamation point girl. Much like one of Elaine's boyfriends in "Seinfeld," I am a strict one exclamation point kind of gal, but I'm that excited about dates that it necessitates three.) Two words on dates: nature's candy. For rizzy. I'd never tried them before this year and I'm in L-O-V-E. Just send me a red hat and a purple boa because I'm officially an old lady.
Eggplant is one of our new favorites around this hizzy. Its gorgeous deep purple hue and shiny skin are the purest form of beauty. We do Eggplant Parmesan at least once every couple weeks. If you've never tried it, it's relatively easy and will be voraciously consumed by the most finicky child with nary the blink of an eye (I know from experience). Now that the old eggplant and I are friends, I'm looking to branch out to some more exciting recipes with it. Hint: send good eggplant recipes my way. This sounds to-die-for amazing and easy.
Patty pan squash is my new personal favorite. Its UFO shape and exquisite taste are other-worldly. I'm quickly learning that I'm a lover of all things squash, but this one might just be at the top of my list. So far, I've kept it simple and just cut up the patty pans and roasted them in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Talk about yum! Because of their thicker skin, they keep their firmness a little better than other types of squash, which I prefer. My next endeavor with patty pan squash will be to stuff them with some kind of ooey gooey goodness such as this. Stay tuned ...
I like numbers. I like challenges. I like making goals and meeting them. I like nutrition and have become very passionate of late about what my family eats.
SO, I have decided to hop on board for the month of October's 31 Days of ... challenge hosted byNesting Place. I actually found out about the challenge via the (in)courage community, which is an amazing online community for women. If you don't know about it, check it out. We need all the encouragement and support we can get as women.
The 31 Days of challenge is a challenge where you choose one topic to devote your posts to for the entire month of October. I didn't have to give my topic more than a moment's thought because it's been on the forefront of my mind over the course of the year and this is just the kick in the pants I needed to get it going full force.
My topic is 31 Days of Natural Nutrition. Why natural nutrition? First off, I have a love affair with alliteration, so the word choice was only natural. Pun intended. Secondly, I have been on a journey this year to strip down our food choices in our home and restore our diet to natural, traditional, wholesome foods. It has been a roller coaster ride for me, as I'm a foodie without necessarily the most distinguishing of palates (cheese puffs, anyone?).
I've begun to explore what real food is, not just foodstuff or artificial filler. It's been no picnic and most days I feel guiltier for what I'm eating than what I'm not, but progress has been made and we're the better for it. We started by joining a local co-op where we get mostly organic produce, as well as locally farmed meats, cheeses, natural body and household products, and more. It's been fantastic so far, and I've learned so much about food. The funny thing is I realize there is still so much yet to learn.
Over this month, I will strive to share what healthy, natural nutritional choices we've been making in our home, what we've steered clear of, and ways we have benefited. This will come in the form of recipes, food finds, and definitely some what-not-to-dos if I know myself and my propensity for all things junk food.
It's high time we clean up our eating around this house. Our bodies are temples to the Lord and I'm feeling the push to polish this temple and make it shine for the Lord's glory.
I hope you'll join me on my journey and throw in any healthy, natural tidbits, recipes, helpful hints, etc., that you would like. I can use all the help I can get.
In the immortal words of Cosmo Kramer, "Giddy up!"
*As an aside, this is all-too-fitting timing given the fact that I crashed my truck into one of those poles (you know the ones that guide you around the drive-through) at McDonalds yesterday afternoon on the way to pick up my natural, organic produce from co-op. Nice. Intervention accepted.