Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Well Together Challenge: The End

It has been a fun month working with Nancy from FitMamaEats and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare on this Well Together Challenge.

I took Nancy's challenge of working on some Zumba routines to a whole new level by including my children! I was very happy when I signed on to this project to get the December assignment. I (and I do believe, most people) am notorious for finding excuses not to work out when the holiday season hits... "I have cooking to do. I have shopping to do. I have gifts to wrap. I need to clean my house for guests. I have a cookie swap to attend..."... etc, etc., etc...

So working with Nancy and feeling accountable to complete a project really kept me motivated. And come on, this is the time of the year where we need to work the hardest at staying fit and healthy. So many temptations, so many treats, so very many yummy distractions. At work, at parties, at friends houses...

So this partnership with Nancy helped me stay on track. It was fun to try something new. That's important. You need to try new things on your path to wellness. You can't just go run on a treadmill and decide that you hate working out. Your path may include fun exercise like Zumba; it may include solitary exercise like hiking. You could fall in love with circuit training... or yoga... or hula hooping...

But you never know until you try. There are just so many different ways to stay active, to stay healthy and fit... find yours.

On another note, I also tried another of Nancy's recipes and I loved it! She has a recipe for Pancake Truffles that looked like a great alternative to the same boring pancakes I am forced to make my girls at least 2-3 times per week... and they were a hit! (Thankfully!)

They took me no time to make and I really enjoyed them. The surprise of the gooey banana inside and the treat of the crunchy almonds outside were just the right mix. Of course, the girls sopped on the syrup just like they do their regular pancakes, but all 3 still enjoyed them and I will definitely be making them again.

And so that is it. The end. This completes my journey with Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and FitMamaEats. I have certainly enjoyed it, learned a thing or two and hopefully teaching Nancy something about hoopin for fun (and exercise!)

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well Together Challenge, Week Three: Staying Happy

Welcome to week three of my project with Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Nancy from FitMamaEats. As I stated in week one, these posts are a way to start a conversation about how people can stay active, happy and healthy. I thought this was the perfect time of year to concentrate on the "happy" part of this little experiment. As Nancy pointed out in her post about curing winter blahs, winters here in New England can be hard on our health... in more ways than one.

A lot of people struggle with the many stresses of the holiday season. Many suffer from some sort of seasonal mood swings. It is a notorious time of the year for people who have suffered losses to really grapple with stress management.

I have many different ways that I combat the stress that can overwhelm some during these short December days.

1. Of course exercise is more pertinent now than ever. As the Mayo Clinic points out, "exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries." So, I will continue on my endeavor to Zumba my tushy away whether rain, shine, snow, sleet or dark of night!

 2. MUSIC! This is my personal absolute favorite mood-enhancing, stress reliever I practice. I have certain Pandora stations that I have queued up ready to make me move... dance... hum... and generally... smile. Music just boosts moods. Period.

3. Get fresh air. As I mentioned in week #2, we have some great weather here for December. And we have taken advantage of every moment. But even if it were not unseasonably warm, we would still be hiking, snowshoeing, sledding... anything to get out, get fresh air, get sunshine and get the blood pumping. Take a moment away from high stress shopping, family feuds, anxiety-ridden travel and take a walk!

4. Get rest. Trust me, I know all too well... you have kids, jobs, cards to send, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, homes to clean... but it can all be done with a much better attitude if you simply get the sleep you need. Make sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Day after day of short-changed sleep completely destroys your overall mood. It is just not healthy.

5. One of my person favorites... Connect!!! Take time out to meet with a friend and unwind. No excuses. Find the time! You need to vent... to decompress. Whether over a coffee or a beer, you need that companionship, that human interaction. My last connection was a beer with a friend at 9 o'clock on a Thursday night since that was the ONLY time I was free. (Okay, okay... that definitely cut into the theory of #4 since I only got 5 hours of sleep that night before getting up for work the next morning... I haven't got this all mastered, ok??) How good do you feel after just one hour of laughing... sharing... commiserating with a friend? Those are the relationships that most often fall away as we nurture our families, but we need them for our sanity. We need them even more during times like these where we are stressed, overwhelmed.

Do you have any ideas on ways to decompress during this time of year?

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Well Together Challenge: Week Two

It's officially week two of my project with Nancy of FitMamaEats and Harvad Pilgrim Health Care. This week I tried one of Nancy's healthy recipes for my girls: Crunchy Chicken Tenders. I altered her recipe slightly by leaving out the brown sugar and using Panko crumbs rather than the frosted flakes (also meaning less sugar.) This is such a healthy alternative to fast food nuggets... and it only took me 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes for them to cook.

Nancy has a great archive with many healthy recipes to try. Not only are they healthful, but they are a wonderful combinations of many different flavors and simple ingredients.

This week, I was going to try to get a video of myself and my adorable 4-year-old working our Zumba videos, but yesterday brought us 50 degree weather and I could not bring myself to be trapped inside exercising. Instead, we went for a 3 mile hike and enjoyed the last fleeting moments of this gorgeous, unseasonly New England heat wave.

When Acadia and I reached the end of the trail (at 1.5 miles) we came across a lady just coming into that end of the trail. I was looking at the trailhead sign trying to figure out how far we walked when she piped up, "This goes all the way to Second Street."

"Oh, I know, we just came from that side."

"You did???" She looked down at Acadia. "And now you are going to make her walk all the way back?"

"Well... yes." Make her? She is an able bodied 4-year old child who loves when we go on 'adventures' in the woods and would probably walk 5 miles if I was willing. I have a feeling if more families made their children play outside and partake in outdoor activities, we would far fewer obese children. Nancy has a great post on some screen free activities that you can do with your children.

But, I digress, we did not end up doing Zumba... that video will have to wait for next week (unless, of course, this amazing weather continues here!) However, even Nancy points out that cross training is important in any exercise routine to decrease chance for injury.

Please check out Nancy's post this week to see how far she has come with her hula hooping. She even found a new take on hooping for exercise.

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Friday, November 30, 2012

5 Things Friday

I am sincerely trying to get some inspiration from 101 Way to Live Your Life to The Fullest.

I have my own list of favorite documentaries, but I am excited to move on to Jo's list.

What an amazing gift I could pass on to my daughters.

Cool autumn weather means time for cook and freeze casseroles to offset that sport/dance/gymnastics evening schedule!

I wanna host a cookie swap this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week One of my Well Together Challenge

This blog post marks the beginning of a month-long project I am embarking on with Nancy of FitMamaEats and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. This project, called the Well Together Challenge, is an effort to start a social media dialogue within the health and wellness community around how to help people stay active, happy and healthy. As part of the challenge, Harvard Pilgrim paired bloggers with different ideas on ways to get (and stay) healthy.

As many of my readers know, I am a big fan of hula hooping for exercise... and Nancy was brave enough to take on this fun exercise as long as I agreed to try some of her Zumba videos.

I was open to trying some Zumba videos at home since I knew it would be a great way to involve all 3 of my girls in an exercise routine. We love to play Just Dance together on the Wii and have dance parties in the kitchen while I prepare dinner... so I knew this would be a hit.

And, so far, so good, I have been able to try the routine a few times with my 4-year-old (as she is the one at home with me the most). You would be surprised the moves a 4-year-old girl can master! (She learns a lot faster than her Momma, let's just say that.)

Zumba is great for a family workout. For me, it burns a TON of calories. For the girls, it helps a lot with coordination. It is just plain fun for all of us. Our local rec club even offer Zumba Youth classes, which fill up quickly and the kids seem to have a blast.

In addition to the Zumba- I will also be trying some of Nancy's recipes. She posts some delicious, healthy recipes on her blog which also look easy to prepare (just what this busy mother of three needs!) Next week I will review her Crunchy Chicken Tenders (seriously, how can you go wrong?) And... if you are really lucky, I might even post a video of me and my outrageous Zumba skills. (I totally would not do that but Nancy was such a sport and posted a video of herself hooping and now I feel obligated... although she looks way cooler hooping than I do trying to get my Latin groove on.)

Check out the Harvard Pilgrim Facebook page to see what other New England bloggers were up to for the Well Together Challenge.

{I just need to throw in a side note here... have you seen some of Harvard Pilgrims new ad campaign? When a company is cool enough to bring back Salt 'n Pepa... they are pretty awesome in my (80's) book.}

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Asian Chicken Pizza Recipe!

We love to make homemade pizzas in our house. The whole process is fun for the girls... making the dough, designing their own special recipes, and then waiting anxiously as they cook on the grill or in the oven.

As part of a Hodgson Mill Build A Better Pizza contest, we came up with a new recipe that we had never tried for out pizza. It was simple, quick, healthy... and sooo delicious!

We started with a hand made crust from Hodgson Mill whole wheat pizza dough made from their whole wheat graham flour.

I baked the crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes before adding the toppings and cooking further... this helps eliminate a soggy crust.

And then the yumminess continued with the following recipe:

2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 Roma tomatoes
 Pizza sauce to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, stir garlic, ginger, green onions, and oil just until onions are limp, about 5 minutes. 2. In a bowl, mix soy sauce with chicken. Rinse and core tomatoes; cut crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices. 3. Place pizza crust in a 12-inch pizza pan or on a 14- by 17-inch baking sheet. Spread crust evenly with sauce, then scatter chicken mixture and onion mixture over sauce. Sprinkle pizza with cheese, and arrange tomato slices evenly over the surface. 4. Bake in a 350° oven until cheese is melted and pizza is hot in center, 12 to 15 minutes.

And, shockingly, all 3 of my girls LIKED it. Really!

Try it... tell me what you think!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mommy and Me Monday: Adventures with my little ladies.

We are entering many new frontiers in our family. One is that I am going back to work 24 hours per week... at least 3 full days away from my girls. Ariana is trucking along in middle school, Annika is at school full day now in first grade and Acadia is going to an in-home day care while I work... so much transition.

But, through these changes, I am still dedicated to being a great mother and nurturing my girls in the best ways possible. I know that I can be away from home for work and still spend wonderful, meaningful time with my young ladies.

Just yesterday, I worked from 6am to 2pm (yes, I was at work at 6am on a Sunday morning... YUCK!) I then ran home, packed a quick backpack, grabbed the girls and headed for a quick hike.

The girls loved it. It was a gorgeous afternoon, fun with friends and they did not want to come back off the mountain. I mean, would you, with views like these???

On Saturday we used a great experience gift from Auntie and Uncle to go to Story Land- which, of course, is pretty much the best way a child can think of to spend a day.

And, on the days I am not working, I have been concentrating on spending moments with my 4-year-old. She starts kindergarten next year, so we need to squeeze in all the Mommy and Me time we can! We like to hike around our community, play by the river, go to the park... our fun is pretty wide open to  our imagination.

You might notice one young lady missing conspicuously from these photos. Sadly, at 12-years-old, Ariana is off doing her own thing more and more often now. I asked her to accompany me on yesterdays hike, and she politely declined, "No thank you." Awwww. Even more reason for me to soak up all of the moments I can with the other two... I never know when they might say, "No thank you, Mom."
And, although I am not in this photo, I just need to include a picture of Ariana (this is one of her own adventures, at camp with her best friend driving a boat and enjoying her own moments in her new chapter of tween life.)

Please go visit Krystyn for more Mommy and Me Monday (she also has 3 adorable little girls!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What makes me smile.

Recently I felt like I was taking my amazing life for granted... so to give myself a little lesson on gratuity I have been reading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. It is a great book that offers ideas to simplify with gratitude, harmony, serenity and happiness.

One of the things I have been doing faithfully is writing down 5 things every day that make me smile. So when I saw a writing prompt for Mama Kat's writer's workshop that said, "Aside from your kids, pets, your husband, your coffee and your wine…what makes you smile?" I knew that I could join in and contribute.

Here, in no particular order, are some days from my journal which note things that made me smile on that particular day:

• Gorgeous clouds

• Music
• Wind Coming through rolled down windows. 
• Unsolicited thank you from Ariana for her day
• Smell of sheets as I pulled them off the line where they had been for 2 days. 

• Perfect sunny weather
• Big, wonderful smile
• Yummy fresh breakfast fruit
• Ocean views
• Kisses
• Friends hanging out and helping out

• Unsolicited climbing into my lap to cuddle by Acadia on a sunny morning
• Friends who help in time of need
• Cold pizza when I am starving
• My brick schoolhouse

• The beauty of a butterfly fluttering by
• Birds chirping
• The breeze on my skin
• A job that allows me amazing freedom
• Beautiful day to trim grass and weed gardens.

• Waking up to sunlight coming through skylight on my face. 
• Chocolate chip cookies
• Coworkers that make me laugh and love going to work
• Being told I am beautiful

• Listening to Ariana play piano. 
• Older gentleman at gas pump next to me whistling away. 
• Drive through the gorgeous mountains of NH
• Sitting on the deck enjoying the cool night
• Fire pit in the back yard for cool summer nights

• Squeals Of delight as I take Acadia down the water slide
• Hanging out with friend having girl talk as our kids enjoy water park
• Breeze through the windows as I lay on the couch
• Acadia saying as we climbed the water slide, "Jeez, these are a lot of stairs, they should have an elevator."
• Hearing Grateful Dead and Phish while getting a beer with a friend. 

These are just a few days in my life... how could I not smile? I highly recommend Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. I think everybody needs a bit of perspective once in awhile and we all could take a moment to smile.

Oh, and go visit Kat to see what is making other people smile:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, August 20, 2012

30 Tips to Live Simply: #3

Catch up with my Live Simply project here.

Tip #3 is quite easy... maybe. Move along to your book shelf (shelves???). How many of us are holding on to books simply for the memories, the nostalgia... the idea that people that have shelves full of books seem more worldly, educated, cultured?

Many of us now read via digital media, so having hundreds of books on hand is useless, overwhelming and just creating more items that need dusting that will never move off said shelf.

I do have books with sentimental value that I will keep and pass along to my children or friends who need inspiration... but otherwise, there are many that are just taking up space in my house and mind.

Simply go to your bookshelf today and remove 5 books. There are definitely 5 on that shelf that you have either never read, will never read again or were not that great to start with. You can make yourself feel better about this purge by donating to your local library, homeless shelter... etc. There are always people out there that can still make use of old fashioned books.

Here are also 25 other great places to donate stuff during our simplifying project.

A next step for this project? Set forth to actually purge a larger portion of your books. I bet everyone could get rid of at least 25% of the books in their house and never miss them. I know I did.

Simplify tip #1 here.
Simplify tip #2 here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

30 Simple Tips to Live Simply: #2

Catch up to my Simple Tips to Living Simply introduction here.

And now, tip #2:

Vehicle Declutter
Get up, get a grocery bag, go out to your car and remove five things. I say grab the grocery bag because if your car is anything like mine with 3 kids, your five things will definitely be plain old trash. 

How do you feel after that couple of times per year when you have cleaned out your car? I am betting you breathe a huge sigh of relief when you open the door to a clutter free vehicle. And it is fairly easy to keep some semblance of order with 2 tricks: 

#1 Keep a trash bag in the car! There are super cute ones on Etsy or they can be purchased at any department store and can be hung nearly anywhere in the car, accessible to all people in the car. This keeps a lot of clutter and trash at bay.
#2 Every single time you exit the car, bring at least one thing in with you and ask all passengers to do the same. This will eliminate a lot of stuff being left behind and piling up in the vehicle where you end up with an overwhelming mess.

Next step? Go for the gusto and completely clean your car. Trunk, glove compartment (does anyone keep gloves in there???), vacuum... etc.

Go ahead... what are you waiting for???? Here is what I came up with:  
A bag of random stuffed animals, a few books... and that butterfly bag is my actual trash bag that I brought in to be emptied. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

30 Simple Tips to Live Simply: #1

I had a few conversations during my Blogher trip over the weekend regarding a subject close to my heart: living simply. I actually have conversations regarding the topic often in my life whether someone spies my tattoo or I use my innate tact to tell someone, "Wow, you have a lot of crap."

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."  ~Hans Hofmann, Introduction to the Bootstrap, 1993

I really should not let someone else's unnecessary affect me... but it does. If I walk into a house cluttered with things, my anxiety rises. If I even dare watch Hoarders, my heart races. When a friend once told me that she never deletes emails and could find an email I sent her 10 years ago... I gasped. So I may sometimes... a little bit... once in awhile.. offer unsolicited advice on how to eliminate the unnecessary... but I mean well, I swear! (And a bit selfishly would like to walk into your house without having a panic attack.)

Which brings me to this unsolicited blog series on how to live more simply. I am going to give you a tip per day (not that I will post every single say, I am not that organized) with a very VERY simple tip to eliminate something from your life that you just don't need. I will also offer "Next Steps" for those people want ideas on how go a step further.

But, please just make a promise to yourself that you will try to do at least the 30 easiest ideas that I offer... I promise you will breathe easier in the end.

With out further ado...

Live Simply Step #1

Eliminate some digital clutter. A simple practice is to set a limit of emails on your inbox. (Mine is 30 emails.) And then make sure you delete, delete, delete to stay within your limit. One helpful tool is to use that handy "Unsubscribe" button at the bottom of all emails. I went through yesterday and unsubscribed from 10 mass emails.

Are you wiling to go further? Delete yourself from at least 1 social media source. I picked Twitter. Honestly, since Instagram, I'd rather stay connected to people via their amazing photos.

Even more brave? Cut down your RSS Reader. I cut my back by 25%- there were simply some blogs that do not relate to me at all anymore.

Ok, who is going to follow along? And what did you do today to start? Set limit on inbox, opt out of one social media source or cut back Reader?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BlogHer... Here I come!

That is it. I am packed. I head out in approximately 12 hours to the world’s largest conference for women in social media... and it just happens to be a little road trip with some pretty kick as friends as well! It is quite the event which brings thousands of women together to learn, discuss, inspire and connect with each other. We will be able to here keynote speeches from Katie Couric, Martha Stewart... even President Obama will be addressing us via satellite.

Did I mention it is also in NYC? I always love a good trip to NYC. There is so much to do and see and adventures to be had.

But I am a sad excuse for a blogger... a BlogHer...

I did not engage in any of the pre-conference hysteria. No Facebook groups for me... no special Twitter hashtags... no endless hours of researching blogs... about blogs... about what to blog about Blogher.

Until one of my tripmates "invited" me to just take a peek at the Facebook group... just to get a gander at the "bat shit craziness".

Oh. My. God.

And, from what I have gathered, this is what I am apparently doing wrong thus far:

1. I am not bringing a concealed weapon to protect myself from the crime ridden streets of NYC.
2. I did not get a pedicure, manicure, hair cut/style/color/extensions, wax...
3. I did not buy a fanny pack.
4. I have not educated myself about nor purchased a Jesus toaster.
5. I have not purchased and packed my suitcase with at least 12 pairs of shoes for the 3 day conference.
6. I have not created a filing system, system of envelopes, system of labels... for... well, I do not even know what the hell those are to be created for.
7. I have not begged for, signed up for, berated people for invitations to parties. What parties? I have no freaking idea... but apparently there are an ass ton and everybody who is anybody gets invited to them (which is clearly not moi.)
8. I have not created and scheduled posts for every single day that I will be away (and thankfully I do not post that much anyway, so nobody will miss me.)
9. I did not buy a whole new wardrobe.
10. I did not get a special shot to fight off the cooties that I will apparently catch from walking the streets of NYC in my flip flops.
11. I did not plan NEARLY well enough...

BUT, this is what I am going to do:

1. Hang out with some of the most amazing, creative, intelligent women I know.
2. Hopefully meet some of the most amazing, creative, intelligent women that I have been stalking for years now.
3. Attend a session or two and learn a thing or two about something or other.
4. Hula hoop in Central Park.
5. Cheer on my crazy friends when they wake up for a 6am 5K!
6. Avoid any and all lady drama. No cattiness, no competition (let's be honest here... who am I competing against?), no mean girls allowed.
7. I am looking for the closest place to serve me a cold bottle of craft beer while all the other fancy ladies are drinking from their wine glasses or fruity umbrella drinks.
8. Enjoy every moment whether it be people watching, sleeping in a bed without a 3-year-olds foot in my rib, learning something new, exploring the city... there is so much for me to experience in the next few days... I really can't wait!

I will report back if I make it through the muggings, gangrene, eye gouging and hair spray clouds!

(Oh, and if you want to come introduce yourself... I am a bit hard to miss with the telltale marks on my right arm, see photo above!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

What annoys me?

I was reading my blog reader when I cam across a post from Mama Kat about 10 things that make her angry. I thought i might share a few of my own... although I have a hard time really getting angry... so perhaps 'annoyed', 'discontent'... possibly angry if I was having a really bad week (in no particular order):

#1 People who wear their shoes in the house! I am nearly always barefoot, so I can feel every granule that you track into the house on your freakin' shoes.

#2 Mothers who smoke while pregnant or parents who smoke with their children in close proximity. (Ok, this one does make me angry.)

#3 Any loud noise in my house between the hours of 8pm-8am. Seriously... we get the kids in bed and then I just want to breathe and have a teensy bit of peace and quiet. I do not think people without children (or least my children) understand this. But I listen to slamming, screaming, whining, marching bands, blaring pop music, tap shoes... etc... ALL DAY LONG! Sometimes I just want... quiet. Simply quiet.

#4 Loud eaters. Slurping of soup... milk from the cereal, etc... Nothing makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck more. So, if you are eating breakfast with me, please don't take offense if I get up and take my cereal bowl to another room.

#5 Washing my chapstick in the laundry... as near as I can tell I can never get those little grease marks out of my clothes!

#6 People all up in my personal space. This includes people rubbing my arm to tell me they love my tattoos, close talkers, pregnant belly touchers, people who sit right next to me in the waiting room when there are 10 open chairs much further away... etc, etc...

#7 Out of state drivers- that is pretty much anyone out of NH or Maine... you have to realize that we are not in a rush up here! Get off my tail- there are only 2 lanes on our highways and if I am only going 70 mph to pass someone... you just gotta wait it out buddy. And keep your dirty looks, fingers and profanity to yourself because I am just going to kill you with kindness.

#8 People who do not answer my texts immediately. This is a combo of my extreme impatience the fact that I know you are just ignoring me!

That's it... I can not even come up with 10. I am having trouble concentrating since there are 3 kids sitting next to me slurping their cereal milk.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mommy and Me Monday: Summer Vacation Edition

I have actually gathered a couple of photos of me and my girls since we have been on summer vacation so I thought I would participate in Mommy and Me Monday where Krystyn encourages Mommas to come out from behind the camera.

The first photo is actually 2 of my girls and 2 nieces... and why I now embrace owning a minivan... so many fun trips this summer with carloads FULL of children!

The second photo is myself and the girls atop Mt. Kearsage. Of course, only 1 child would even look at the camera... but, hey, we are all there!

The 3rd photo is myself and baby girl Acadia at the lake during our family vacation.

And the last one is myself and my oldest after our very first mommy and me pedicure. After which, Ariana begged, "Can we do this every week, Mom!"

We are enjoying every day of our summer break in many different way. It has been an adventure so far... hopefully with much more fun to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fifty Shades of Crap

I finally gave in... after months of seeing women swooning all over social media about this Fifty Shades phenomenon, I decided to add it to my iPad reading list... actually, I added all 3 from the series. I like to read some good, mindless reading in the summer as I hang out by the pool or at the beach.

But to say this is mindless is an understatement. I am so embarrassed that these books are monopolizing the NYT best seller list. Man oh man, if some aliens are researching humanity and come across these books... we are doomed.

Now, don't get me wrong, erotica... romance novels... all those things have a place in literature. But the way I was watching people act as though they had never read anything quite so amazing is simply mind boggling. The writing is utterly atrocious. I found a great Amazon review where the reviewer counted with her Kindle how many times words were said. I mean, seriously, using the word whisper 185 times in ONE book??? (And imagine how many times she repeated the words over the whole series????)

I did make it through the first book. I am the type who feels the need to finish any book I start. I always think, "Well... what if... what if it has the best book ending ever???"

Well, needless to say, it did not! And then I moved on to book 2... thinking she clearly had to step up the writing to get a publisher to buy it.... Nope. Even worse.

And this time, I did not fall for it. I bailed not even half way though. I get precious few minutes for reading and I just could not justify wasting any more.

If you want to read an erotic novel, please... choose Lady Chatterley's Lover or Lolita. Something that may not make you feel less intelligent for reading it.

Unless, of course, you would like to read a book my 11-year-old could write with no plot, the same sex scenes over and over again, and the most ridiculous love interest ever (I mean, really... what woman sits around fantasizing about some gazillionaire jerk? I'd take my fantasy plumber ANY day!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Project 10: Adjusting my exercise definition.

Time again for my Project 10 update. I my biggest commitment in Project 10 was to work out... a LOT! Like 6 days per week. Unfortunately, I made that commitment before the girls summer vacation started. Little did I know how wonderful the weather would be this summer and how busy we would be. It has really put a damper on me getting to the studio for organized workouts... as in working out about once per week at the studio. Boo. 

But I have still committed to getting exercise in different ways while I am out enjoying my vacation with my daughters. 

With all this sun, we have spent a LOT of time in the water. We are very lucky to live by at least 2 rivers (photo 12). We can take a short hike and be down to a sandy beach on the river within a couple of minutes. While here, we can obviously swim for exercise, play a game of catch, frisbee... but mostly I make the girls take a hike down the river bank with me. They love it as they feel like it's an adventure, and the uneven terrain makes for great exercise for me.

We also have spent many days at the ocean. Oddly enough, we have not really been to any NH beaches, we prefer the beaches in Maine. And the rocky coast there provides some great exercise as we climb around on the rocky shores. (photo #8)

I have made a conscious effort to fit in walks if I know I can't make it to a class that day. I will stop somewhere... anywhere... on my way to work or home from work or to the grocery store and just simply walk for half an hour. I choose serene setting so I can also decompress from the craziness that is having 3 or more children with me all day EVERY day of this summer break! I have been taking photos during my walks to document some of the beauty that surrounds me (photos 1 and 6).

We are also very lucky to live where we can get to a plethora of lakes within minutes. Again, we hike around the lake, or play some water sports or swim to get in some exercise (photo 10).

I am blessed to live in a community where there are at least 6 public pools to choose from at all times. Swimming at the pool is great exercise as Acadia is a little dare devil and I have to constantly swim around to catch her as she dives in over her head (photos 2 & 9).

Speaking of the public pools, our parks and recreations system is amazing (photo 7). We can go to 6 or 7 parks where there are hiking trails, ponds to walk around and feed the ducks, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer fields... we can go for hours and never bore of the activities.

Hiking in NH is always a great way to exercise (photos 3 & 11) We have the White Mountains for some serious trails... or smaller mountains scattered about the state where the girls can go with me. We have a great little trail right here in Concord that is 2.5 miles round trip and all 3 girls were able to make it up and back unassisted! (Yes, even the 3-year-old hiked up a 1.25 mile hike with no problem.)

Hula hooping is a portable exercise for me (photo 4). Wherever we go on adventures, I can bring a hoop and have instantaneous exercise. Perfect.

And, last, I have been trying to get out and volunteer in activities to keep me moving. Recently, we had a new music festival here in town that I volunteered at. This keep me on my feet for at least 8 hours over 2 days running around a park (see photo 5- that is Chris Robinson... he played there and I was close enough to him to reach over and touch him... but I didn't... I refrained... unfortunately!) I am volunteering this week at our Market Days, which again will keep me on my feet and moving around!

And this is how i am adjusting my definition of exercise until our summer slows down a bit... keeping active... all the while playing with my girls.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In Search of My Father: Part 1

"If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough." -Audrey Hepburn

My biological father passed away a year ago now. And my struggle with our relationship in life has lingered on after his death.

This struggle was once again brought to life recently when I needed to go to the vital records office to get a copy of my birth certificate and copies of his death and birth certificates.

(Let me digress for a moment to explain... I have made it 36 years of my life without an official birth certificate. I have an "heirloom" certificate from my birth hospital, which is a pretty piece of paper with my birth stats on it, which has been accepted to get my drivers licences, marriage certificates, mortgages... how scary is that in terms of identity theft??? Some fluffed up piece of paper with the words "Birth Certificate" in Old English across the top has never once been questioned as my identity???)

Anyhow, I want a passport and I know I needed my birth certificate plus I wanted my fathers legal papers for my records.

So off to Maine I went for a trip to the Vital Records office.

And my heart wrenching day from hell was about to begin....

The office was very small with one woman behind the counter. I asked her for the appropriate paperwork for my 3 requests and promptly filled them out as there was nobody else waiting. I figured I could be in and out in 15 minutes. As I handed them back to her under her plexiglass shield, she kindly smiled and told me it would just be a couple of minutes.

True to her word, she called me back up 5 minutes later. I could see only 1 state-issued document in her hand and my heart sunk.

"I am sorry." She looked very sad. The sadness in her eyes brought tears to my own.

"There is no father listed on my birth certificate is there?"

She shook her head. "I am so sorry." she repeated. "But I cannot give you his records without proof of lineage."

I knew in the back of my head that he was not listed on my birth certificate, my mother had told me that a very long time ago. I knew also because I had to have a DNA test when I was 10 because the State of Maine had requested it to garnish his wages for child support. But when she pushed my birth certificate through the window and the 'Father-Name' block was empty, my heart dropped. I could not stop the tears now as I stood in front of this poor woman. "I have my marriage license that he is listed on..."

I handed her my marriage license... which, again, I am not sure how I was able to add him to that when he was not even on my birth certificate... oh wait, the birth certificate I did not even have to provide to get my marriage licence!

She looked up at me and paused, "I will take this." She made a note on my request forms and then quickly printed me his birth and death certificates.

I can not even express my gratitude to actually get a kind-hearted, sympathetic employee in a position that she was in.

"How can I have him added to my birth certificate? I can not leave that blank? I know DNA results exist that prove his is my father since the State of Maine required it to get child support from him."

"If the state required it, there would have been a court case. Start over at the district court. They should be able to help you."

With my papers in hand, I walked out to my car, got in and just started to bawl...

(To be continued....)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tattooed Momma Update

It has been awhile since I have given you a tattoo momma update. And since I did get a new tattoo a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was time. (And, also, I promised my favorite tattoo artist that I would share a tidbit of advice.)

When I started this sleeve project a couple of years back, I wanted the "live simply" on my wrist and then simple butterflies around it. Doug (said amazing tattoo artist) was not a fan of the simple butterfly outlines I wanted- he wanted more detail and for me to go bigger- he warned me that I would be back to change it.

...and, of course, because he is an amazing artist who knows his stuff... he was right. I went back and asked for more detail on the butterflies....

(red is sharpie- not tattoo!)

But after he did such amazing work and detail on my upper arm:

The wrist just did not seem to match. And so I sheepishly begged him to just cover the original butterflies with a bigger, better, more detailed version:

And of course, it is amazing and I LOVE it! He added detail to one small butterfly and completely covered the other two.

But, in the midst of a tattoo, I promised that I would tell everyone I know that you should listen to your tattoo artist. If you choose an artist wisely, they will know what they are doing and work with you to create something that is just perfect for you.

The artiste himself as work:

Yes, I love him. He rocks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project 10: Week One

Week one and I was not entirely successful. My goal was to work out 6 times in 7 days, and I did not reach that goal.  I do have an excuse... because we all need to use excuses... right???

I have been working out regularly for 2 months. Regularly, but not enough. I only work out 2-3 times per week and do not get nearly enough exercise the rest of those days to consider myself a fit person. So, after my post last week and committing to work out 6 times, my fitness studio informed me that my regular Friday night and Saturday morning classes were cancelled! And she NEVER cancels.

So, I learned a lesson: you need a backup plan. And because I did not want excuses to get in my way, I came up with that plan.

I work out twice per week doing circuit training at the fitness studio (and also at the studio twice per week doing Zumba). I have come to really love the circuit training. While the Zumba is fun and keeps my heart pumping, the circuit training is where I really see and feel a difference in my body.

These are the workouts that I really want to concentrate on, but unfortunately life just gets in the way sometimes where I can not get to the studio. My husband is running late from work, I have to work, there is a chorus recital, there is a dance recital... yada, yada, yada.

And this is where I created my backup plan. I needed to be able to set up a circuit at home for days I could not make it to the studio. I spent 2 days online researching my favorite circuit exercises. I created cards to lay out at stations for myself:

Circuit training works with very little equipment, so I made sure to pick exercises that only utilized the equipment that I already owned:

I then downloaded an app for my iPhone and iPad that would play my music and guide me through my own workout with audible commands: Circuit Timer by Vova Galchenko.

And, voila... no more excuses. I am now set up to do my circuit training at home if I need to.

You may be wondering why I don't just do my circuit training at home all the time. Well, let's just say I am not a self-motivator. If my wonderful friend, Tina, pulls into my driveway to pick me up to go workout... I am going. If I am looking at pile of laundry, a fridge of cold beer, a computer screen... and whatever other distractions I have at home, the chances are WAY less likely that I will go change into my sweats and start working out. 

Now go visit all the other wonderful ladies progressing through Project 10 and see if you can learn any tips from them....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Project 10

So, after my rant on fitness last Thursday, I have found a bandwagon that I can really get behind. I have decided to join some great ladies on their journey with Project 10.  This is simply a 10 week journey to fitness. The host, Stephanie describes it like this:

Each Wednesday morning I will publish a link-up post. Participants will share 1-3 posts they've written the previous week pertaining to weight loss or fitness. We will share our: successes and struggles, favorite recipes, favorite apps and websites for fitness/nutrition/recipes, exercise routines and products, and, of course, our before/after photos.

It's easy peasy and a great way for me to set a goal and be held accountable. So here goes... my before photo:

Now, as far as my goals. I do not need to lose any weight. I am well within the healthy range for a 5'9" woman. But I would LOVE to rearrange my weight. When you are young, you just think pregnancy will make you fat- nobody prepares you for the worse fate... your body simply changes. Weight can be lost- but i fear some of these changes will never be reversed. My boobs for instance, I spent 24 years as a AA cup.... VERY small. And then after baby #1, they were left a bit bigger (Yay). And then after baby #2, I lost them again (damn it!) and then after baby #3, they have reappeared (this change I would like to keep!) But there are other changes (like my belly) that can go!

Anyhow, my goals... I need to be able to put my wedding rings back on! I wore my rings at the same size for 9 years... and then this year... I think they shrunk. But I really want to wear them again without having to resize them.

I will not be taking my measurements nor posting them. That is just dangerous for me. I do not want to obsess and I do not want my daughters to see me obsessing. But I will know I am where I want to be when I get those damn rings on!

My next goal is to be fit enough to hike Mt. Washington in a few weeks with my hubby for our 10 year anniversary. I have not hiked something that strenuous in years!  Yikes!

To achieve these goals for me can mean only one thing- working out. I already eat healthy and do not care to give up any small treats (it's summer, hello ice cream!), but I can find time to work out at least 6 days a week. For me that will be Zumba twice and circuit training 4 times. I also may sub Wii Fit or hula hooping when I want to get my girls involved. I think exercising 6 times per week is completely doable. I just need to get off my lazy bum and do it. If I can't make it to the fitness studio, then I will make the time at home with my girls. They love to exercise with me, so I really have no excuse.

A couple small changes I need to make as well is drink way more water and less beer. It's that damn high-calorie (but oh so yummy) dark beer I drink that has shrunk that wedding ring of mine. And I know I need more water, it's just a habit I need to get into... ASAP.

So, here I go. You get to hear about this for the next 10 weeks. If you want some inspiration, go visit the other Mommas on their journey. I have a feeling the more people watching us, the more accountable we will be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In my grandmothers words...

With a visit to my mother this past weekend, I was able to get a glimpse of a journal my grandmother had written in. It was actually a journal that my mother had given to my grandmother to fill out before she passed away. 
It is one of those journals that asks great questions like, "Describe your childhood bedroom." "How did you meet your husband?" Things that are so fun to learn about your family and to pass on for generations. I am so glad that my grandmother answered a lot of these questions, because I learned a lot about her and my daughters will be able to learn a lot about her... as will their children. It is a priceless heirloom.

I love seeing my grandmothers handwriting and seeing that her answers mirror my own (and my mothers... and my daughters'!) This questions was, "What was your favorite pastime as a child? Did you prefer doing it alone or with someone else?"

She answered, "Laying out on a hot summer day looking up at the blue sky and dreaming of things I'd like to do or be. I always dreamed of living on a farm with lots of animals and a swimming hole for hot days. Yes I preferred being alone with my thoughts and dreams. I loved playing with my dog, (Skip) a Belgiun Shepherd and also my neighbors dog, Lady, a Spaniel. " (Can you believe she not only recalled her own dog, but the names of her neighbor dogs???) "Sometimes playing with my neighbor, Bea Beavers kids. Wintertime going sledding on Main Street. Summer going on hare and hound chases (I do believe this was a game and not my grandmother hunting down bunny rabbits.), and hanging May Baskets, etc. Having my school friends over to play or do homework"

It is so great that she dreamt of living on a farm. My mother does now live on a farm (sans animals), I would LOVE to own a farm (although my fantasy has several shirtless, tanned, glistening farmhands... but I digress...) And when we ask any one of our daughters where they want to live when they grown up... all will excitedly answer on a farm with lots of animals.

Anyhow, what I am here to tell you is GET A JOURNAL! Give your mother, father, grandparents one of these great journals so that they can start a tradition. Get these stories on paper before it is too late. I think our generation is lucky where we live on social media and our children will certainly have more of a window into our lives than previous generations... but nothing is like opening a real book with your Momma's real handwriting and letting yourself into her life from the very beginning... before you even existed.

I actually have one of these journals that my mother gave to me... and now I have the impetus to find it and start filling it out. I want my children (and my children's children) to be able to look back and learn things about me that cannot be found at the Vital Records office. Things that will be forgotten about my life if they are not recorded and cherished.

I will leave you with my favorite quote from my grandmother... one I have shared with my girls and I hope the live up to and pass on as well:

Recall for me some of the most important lessons you have learned in life:
"The most important lesson I have learned in life is to love others and don't cause them pain. Be the best you can and try to do the right thing for every ones sake."

I love you, Grammie! Thank you for the words... the love... and the lessons.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Healthy Inspirations for My 3 Daughters

Although I am a bit of a Pinterest addict, there is a trend on there that is driving me batty... people in my feed who post "inspiration" photos like this:

And actually title them, "inspiration".  News flash: most people I interact with on any social media are over 30 years old and have birthed children... you will NOT EVER look like this. Nor should you be inspired to. Your body will more likely look something like this:

And this is beautiful. Soft curves. Healthy woman shape. And this is inspiring. If you are a momma over 30 and you look like those first 2 photos... it tells me one of two things, you are the 1% of the population with a crazy metabolism and genetics of a Grecian goddess... or B) you spend so much time working out and stressing over weight that you are missing out on life and time with your family.

It also makes me wonder, what message do you think you are sending your children if you are that enamored with thinspiration? I think that if I looked like Kate Moss, my 3 daughters would feel as if they needed to reach that standard as well... especially as they move into puberty and are even more conscious of their bodies. And, if most American mothers work 8-10 hours per day, this allows them about 4 hours per day with your children. What are you telling those children if you dedicate half of that time to working out, planning your zero calorie meals or researching ways to lose even more weight?

As a counterpoint, however, I do not think it is ok that 35% of Americans are obese. I also think that this is the wrong message to send. As mothers, we can not use the excuse, "I just have not lost the weight after my baby yet" when the 'baby' is 6 years old.  We need to be healthy. Healthy for ourselves and to set the example for our children. Now for some people healthy could be 90 pounds... but more likely you can be 130 pounds and still be fit. And you can be fit in a fun, natural way.

I like to involve my children in my fitness routine. I might go outside and hula hoop for exercise, and invite all 3 girls to join me. We are then getting exercise, spending time together and starting healthy habits.

I also do leave my house 2-3 times per week to exercise for an hour. I like to Zumba and to circuit train at a studio close to my house. And I talk to the girls about it. I share how much fun I have dancing in the Zumba class. I discuss how much better I feel after circuit training. How much energy I have, how strong I feel (after I whine about how freaking sore I am and I can't even walk up my stairs!) But they get the message that I am working out for fun and health. I NEVER discuss any weight loss with them or weigh myself or anything like that.

As with everything, I believe there is a happy medium. Set realistic goals,  (which includes not inundating my Pinterest feed with your 20-year-old supermodel bodies!) eat healthy, get active (and include your children) and make it a family affair. 

My recent inspiration has been these two mommas:

Kam & Liz have taken up running and are completing half marathons already! Now that inspires me. 

Do you have any healthy inspirations to share?

{Sorry if you find this a rant... as a mother of 3 girls, I recognize that I can be oversensitive to issues like these. But I feel like some parents are not sensitive enough and possibly just do not get it.}

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 Summer Bucket List

I know there are a million 'Summer Bucket' lists floating around the internet. But with the unofficial start of summer coming this weekend... I am coming up with my own list for this year.

In the fall, I am going to start working more and I would really like to take advantage of this last summer home with all 3 of my girls... hopefully creating memories of the best summer ever!

1. Have fun outside after dark. Use sparklers, flashlights, glowsticks, etc...
2. Camp out in the back yard. Complete with a campfire and roasted hot dogs.
3. Visit the library and get some summer reads.
4. Play a game of basketball in our yard.
5. Have a picnic. (We have a special spot over some train trestles where we go quite often.)
6. Fly some kites. (This is a great beach activity if you go early enough in the morning to avoid crowds.)
7. Go on a photo scavenger hunt.
8. Go strawberry picking.
9. Go blueberry picking.
10. Go apple picking.
11. Go on a trash pickup in the neighborhood. (My kids actually love when we do this!)
12. Family game night. (One night where each girl will get to choose the game.)
13. Create friendship bracelets.
14. Bake treats for a neighbor or firehouse or charity.
15. Visit every park in our town.
16. Set up a lemonade stand.
17. Go bowling.
18. Water play (to include water balloons and slip n' slides, etc...)
19. Visit a farm.
20. Make homemade ice cream.
21. Find a parade to watch.
22. Ice cream sundae party for dinner!
23. Play a game of mini golf.
24. Ride the trolly downtown.
25. Visit the farmers' market and get a yummy treat to sit on the lawn and eat.
26. Hike to a waterfall.
27. Watch a fireworks display.
28. Play some pool noodle backyard games.
29. Create a summer reading list for each child and READ!
30. Create some heart rocks to spread about the town and bring random smiles.

31. Drive-In movie! A staple of my own youth.
32. A day of science experiments.
33. Painting... but not just any paint... SPAGHETTI painting!

Do you have any new, fun and creative ideas to share with me????