Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pathetic!

I am getting the feeling that a lot of Blogger blogs are often neglected for long periods of time. I am very lame for being part of these blogs, so here is my looooong and often thought about revival!

I actually had two close friends move away this summer (and another friend who was murdered), so I am thinking a lot about closeness and the way people stay connected. This blog may be a Facebook rejects only chance at staying in touch with relatives and friends across the country.

I felt like we were super active this summer, but in retrospect I wish we had done so much more. Anyway, here is our summer report!

MAY
Ran to Snake Lake Nature Center and Discovery Pond. We got there around 9:30 AM and stayed till 1. C fell asleep on the walk / jog home. I just parked the stroller in the front yard and read on the porch till he woke up. Bliss!



We also caught the dinosaur exhibit at the zoo w/ galpal Eva.


Future prom date?



In June C and Daddy made a daybed library that we painted and now use as Connor's big boy bed.



We hunted out ducks at the lake across the street.


We played at the beach with our best friend River.


We wine tasted in Yakima and played on the porch at our newest (and last for some time, we hope) digs.



July was a great month. We'd had such mild weather all summer it was nice to see the sun and get into the 70s. We made special 4th of July pancakes before heading out for a hike and then a picnic on the beach.



We hit up the aquarium, saw the Seattle Storm whoop Atlanta, attended Day Out With Thomas and played at an awesome playground called St. Edwards State Park.



Asleep after the Storm game



We finished out the summer with lots of wading pool dates, picnics on the beach, and finally hit 85! Hoping to get back on track with my posts this month.

Preschool has started and I am sure to come up with more resolutions that need attention! Whew!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Off Topic Saturday

I doubt I will actually keep a day of the week for off-topic posts, but this family activity is so awesome I had to share!

http://www.education.com/activity/article/set-giant-building-blocks/

We just had a big move (see last post), so those boxes will be easy to come by for us! I may use ads / newspaper in place of construction paper, since several of our boxes will be VERY giant. ;)

Will update with pictures once we've constructed something!

P.S. This comes from a list of awesome activities, crafts, and games to play with your child during "Screen-Free Week," which is officially April 18-24. There are a lot of great ideas, so if I get a lot of interest, I'll post that link as well.

Education.com has a lot of great resources for all kinds of parenting ages / topics.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Still Here!

I'd posted before how I have been majorly distracted by Tumblr, but I've also endured a move, a major change of life event (FIL living with us) and a sinus infection.

Excuses aside, I ended the month on a very low note for my fitness and health resolution. I'm still down the 6 lbs I lost in the first two weeks, but both Aaron and I have fallen off the wagon in terms of exercise. It is sad to make excuses (see first paragraph) but we've been so pooped from moving and exhausted from tons of WA rain that getting out to run has been not as appealing as it was in the first part of March.

Needless to say, I haven't exactly nailed down an April resolution. I am leaning toward quitting yelling, since C is mimicking the way I talk now. I am really scared to tackle that. I grew up in a house of yellers. I've yelled my entire life, and I am not sure how leaving it behind will happen.

I do have some good resources, though, from co-op preschool. We covered something similar and I have a book on hold called Mommy's Gonna Blow about managing anger.

Another option would be to hold over March's fitness goal so I can really focus on it now that we are more or less settled.

Apologizes for this scatter-brained post!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Working It Out

We've been on a major work out kick. I have been running AT LEAST every other day for about a week, and Aaron has only taken off two days in the last two weeks. He runs 1.5 -2.3 miles, mostly at a sprint, and I run 2 - 3 miles at about 9'45".  Let's be friends if you happen to run with Nike+... ;)

I really meant to take Connor on a run this week, but it didn't happen. Instead, we braved the aquarium (and a bit of a sight-seeing jaunt down the pier) AND the zoo without a stroller! He made out like a champ, being carried for less than five minutes on either trip.

I think we're setting a good new routine for our lives. It was pretty hard (and still is) to motivate myself to get moving some days, but Aaron doing this with me has made a huge difference.

Walk, run, jump rope, whatever. Get out there!

P.S. Lost 4 lbs since I started... YES!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ah-Ha!

Perhaps it is a case of being more aware of things I am involved in at the moment, but every time I make a new goal I seem to find something big in the news about it!

I found this on Slate Magazine:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/cleanplate/

The author also sets up mini goals per week, and ultimately has a lot of good strategies for eating healthy (since weightloss was not the primary goal, even though it was attained). Among them are ones I struggle with myself, like eating slowly and avoiding temptation.

I really liked the idea of meditating while eating to keep focused on your meal. Her point about small indulgences also rang true, since I have been struggling with an end-of-the-day binge on sugar lately.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cooking To Lose

Other than tonight's double dinner, I have been making recipes that the entire family would enjoy that were also on the lighter side. Some of these were a delicious Margherita Pizza from Cooking Light and chicken fried rice, a family recipe. First thing is first.

Dinner tonight was a struggle, since we bought a ton of groceries all at once and have strived not to run out on our usual daily grocery trips. We decided on breakfast burritos, which are not a healthy food by any means-- huge, white flour tortillas, greasy meats, cheese... I made the boys' burritos out of maple sausage, scrambled eggs, frozen diced potatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese. Aaron topped his with salsa. Here is a pic of the stuffing:


For my burrito, I used a 95% fat free honey wheat (Aaron refused to eat this), a gardenburger regular veggie pattie chopped up, 1 tbsp of onion, 5 grape tomatoes sliced in half, 2 egg whites, and a tablespoon of 1% organic milk. I forgot to toss the tomatoes and onions in with the eggs, so I just cooked them for a min or two in the hot pan after I scrambled the egg whites. It probably looks prettier this way.



 I also opted to top mine with salsa.



It was SO VERY GOOD! Aaron ate two helpings of his burrito, so I am guessing he liked his, too.

The pizza was kind of troublesome. I worried that it would be really hard to make pizza dough from scratch, but again I was wrong. We ate the chicken fried rice one night, and once I finished prepping that I made the dough, which has to rise in the fridge for 24 hours.

To lighten up my usual chicken fried rice, I just used 1.5 cups sticky short grain rice, 1.5 cups brown long grain rice, and less sesame oil when prepping the final large pan.



The pizza dough comes out the next day and after it comes to room temp, you work it into a circle and top with homemade pizza sauce.




The sauce took 30 minutes to make, tops. The recipe is also at the above link.



Top with fresh mozzarella slices (we also hid tomato slices under each cheese slice).


This is best made right on top of your pizza stone / pan, because it is a MESS to move once topped. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh basil. YUM!

Ahh!

I've been majorly slacking on this blog, mostly due to a newfound love of tumblr.

Excuses aside, I have run Saturday (1.1 mi), Monday (3.2 mi) and Tuesday (2.3 mi). Aaron has been a big motivator here, as he's been going every single evening after work. I see him do it and I get jealous and feel bad if I don't, so I go, too.

Took Connor out in the jogger for Monday's run, and if I tried to walk he would say, "All done!" or "Faster, Mommy!" or complain about falling behind our friends who were running with us. He's a pretty good coach, but the added 33 lbs and heavy Joggertrend stroller really wore me down. I averaged a full 20"/mi faster yesterday when I ran without him.

We've also been eating dinners from cookinglight.com! Not only are they around 300-450 per good-sized serving, but they keep carbs, fat, and sodium in mind as well.

I will post some recipes later tonight.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Watch Out, March!

Time to lose those 10-15 lbs that I've gained in the last year and a half and EXERCISE more.

I usually run 3 miles 1-3X a week, but it is so infrequent and half-hearted that I am pledging March as fitness month. I'm also logging my meals here. So far I am very, very happy with that site. It even included the three recipies / dinners I've made from http://www.allrecipes.com/ and http://www.cookinglight.com/!

I am going to achieve this goal by eating healthy, setting aside time every single day for exercise and making a back up plan for when the weather is too bad or my hair is too gorgeous to run. I've also started following a bunch of other dieters on my Tumblr, which has given me a lot extra of willpower.

Here are the very sad statistics:

I'm 5'7".
CW: 135 lbs
GW: 120 lbs

I was 123 lbs spring / summer of 2009, so I know I can achieve this.

I'm also really excited about the prospect of making my boys even healthier. Aaron took up running after I did and Connor rides in the jogger for about 50% of my runs. I am making every effort to stock the healthiest things they like to eat in the house (organic, as close to completely natural as possible, homemade over processed).

I'm also sneaking the good stuff in whether they like it or not-- whole grain pasta and rice in with traditional (about 1 part to 3, sometimes 1.5 part to 3), Smart Balance light spread instead of butter, cutting all oil / fat by 50% at least, fresh and steamed veggies with every single dinner.

As an overall trend, this is going to save me money since I will look better in the clothes I have and will be eating less of the garbage processed foods that ultimately cost more. As a parent I am setting great examples for Connor and keeping him healthy with great food.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Frugal AND Fun (Part 2)

We spent the morning building sculptures out of mini marshmallows, jumbo marshmallows, and toothpicks. This worked out a lot better than it had in the past with the pink heart shaped marshmallows. For some reason even the littlest of these barrel shaped snacks just work better as a support. Connor seemed much more interested in spearing them into his mouth after the first or second of our creations. I was able to snap this before he moved the sculpture into his stomach.


Connor is not a huge fan of drawing. He much preferrs messy painting, which I can only tolerate so often. I love this form of building because it is easier and cleaner than blocks or leggos can be, stimulates small muscle development, and works as a snack, too!
We then headed off to the library, where we checked out a variety of transportation-related books and Blueberries for Sal, which Connor loved despite the monochromatic pictures. I owned this book as a child, and it made me so happy to see him enjoy it.

After reading every single one of our 4 books, Superhero ABCs, and two other books he nabbed from a display shelf, I finally hearded him out. We ran over to the beach for some of our other favorite activities-- throwing rocks:



Watching trains:



and playing at playgrounds:



If it looks much to cold, cloudy, and windy to be at the beach, well, you're probably right. But being wrong never stopped Connor and I from enjoying a rare dry day!

We had an awesome time, all for the price tag of $0.

Frugal AND Fun!

I think I may have been missing out on the chance to post free or low-cost activities for the child and I.

This morning we built marshmallow and toothpick sculptures.

We're headed off to the library now. Hopefully there will be some preschool packs available. Will post pictures and recap of our library adventure later today!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Forging Ahead

Maybe it was the $364 I forked over to the dentist today, maybe it is cabin fever from being only seven days away from my new resolution, but I am thinking about what March will bring. I am toying with a few ideas, and should probably keep some kind of running list of possibilities. You know, in case I run out of resolutions by the end of 2011.

Among the ideas floating around in my brain:

  • Exercise / weight loss
  • Cutting out processed food, getting all recommended servings of veggies / fruit into my boys
  • Anger Management (More like yelling management)
  • Something relationshippy
I feel a little bit bad about the "something relationshippy." I guess we've been floating along pretty well, and if I had to narrow things down, I would like to communicate better and be more patient, which sounds a bit too wide of a focus and generic. Perhaps I'll hold off on the relationshippy ideas for now.

On an unrelated note, C had a good playdate with little E while I was getting 3 fillings. Here they are scarfing a bite between lots and lots of playing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wanting It

Aaron told me that if I want something less, it will go a lot smoother. After our party on Sunday and the fiascos that abounded, I am starting to think he is right.

We picked up balloons at 5:30 and stuffed them into the back of our Saturn coupe. I was up until 11 PM Saturday night baking the tiger cake, icing and decorating it.

I wasn't thrilled about how it turned out, but it looked enough like a tiger that the kids would recognize it.

We left the house around 9:15 Sunday morning for the zoo. Our balloon bouquets (3) were promptly confiscated at the gate. Apparently, popped balloons can pose a serious risk to animals. I wish I had known this before I was $30 in for them.

I pinched the s&*^ out of my finger while hoisting a stroller loaded with Connor, purse, goldfish, miscellaney related to the party... Thank goodness we ran into two guests at the West entrance, so they helped carry some goods.

I was able to relax a little bit and Aaron helped get us set up over four tables. Three guests were waiting for us in the zoo cafe. We left Aaron and the gifts, cake, food at the pavillion. We had so much fun with 10 other guests walking around the zoo and looking at the jungle, African, and farm animals.


After an hour and a half, we met back at the pavillion for PB&Js in the shape of ducks, dogs, and bears. We snacked on goldfish. Finally, we sang to Connor and had some CAKE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV8V_8gHISU

Overall, it was a good party. Connor was exhausted when we got home, but managed to open some gifts first.



The grand total for the part was $100 more than our party last year. SIGH. Lesson learned-- do not invite 10 children thinking that only 1/2 to 3/4 will show up. We had every single guest RSVP yes, and picked up 3 more kids and an adult AT THE ZOO. Yikes.

Hoping next year is a bit more reigned in.

I can't believe my little angel / sometime devil is 3!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Birthday Party DONE!

I am beyond thrilled to report that although everything DID go wrong this morning, we had a glorious party. I will share the full post later, but here are some juicy bits.

The cake BEFORE the disaster:




The kids running amok at the zoo:



A priceless expression on my (almost) birthday boy's face:



To stay on topic, I failed in my quest to spend less money on this party, and I deserved what happened as a result. I'm still a little scared to add up all the costs of the 20 trips I took back and forth to various stores. Shopping all done now! Birthday week is almost over, so if I can make it to Tuesday I think I should be back on track with my money goals!

P.S. Got a follower! :D

Monday, February 7, 2011

So Discouraged

I am not sure if it was the combination of Super Bowl frenzy and stress from our upcoming Birthday Week, but I was not a frugal girl this weekend. We had breakfast out Saturday morning. We ended up going to Aaron's sister's house (2 hours away) on Saturday after I got off of work, so of course we had to stop for something to eat on the way. We also picked up dinner for everyone at a butcher, beer and cigars for the game on Sunday.

I left at 6 the next morning to go to work and bought a bunch of random things I'd been wanting from Walgreens (did I really need lavendar AND grey nail polish?) and breakfast for the drive.

I'm worried this is worse than yo-yo dieting and I am setting myself up for failure. It almost feels like once I slip up (eating out, grabbing something I didn't REALLY need) I figure the whole day is blown.

I am trying to refocus and plan the parties for Aaron and Connor out very thoroughly, so there are no more impulse purchases. We shall see!

Friday, February 4, 2011

February, Here We Come!

I probably should offer a recap of January before I jump headfirst into February’s resolution, so here goes:
I was immensely proud of all of us for sticking to this resolution! We ended with a bit of a stall, since we attended the Children’s Film Festival’s PJ party (where there was actually only about 10 minutes of film) and a screening day the following Monday, where the short films totaled an hour, but since two of them were subtitled, I am going to chalk that one up to “culture” rather than falling back onto TV as a babysitter / time killer / crutch.

I teased February’s goal as about NOT spending money, and February is a hard month for us to try this, but I feel like it is really relevant in today’s world of stalling job growth, lay-offs, and all-around crappy economy woe. We’ve got Aaron’s birthday, Connor’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day this month, so telling myself I am not going to be spending like I normally do is a lot easier than actually sticking to it. I already knew by the end of January that I wanted to try being more frugal, but when I went out to the pajama party / opening night of the Children’s Film Festival I immediately bought a $6 snack pack before realizing they were giving away free Trophy cupcakes. Whoops. I’d already spent close to $40 for tickets for Connor and myself to the two days of Film Festival we attended.

Other than those slip ups, and Aaron and I already discussing how much we are putting away each month toward buying a house and a second car, I am staying optimistic. I’ve set Connor’s party up at the zoo without reserving a room and thus avoided a booking fee, made the invites myself and had them printed with Lake’s company discount at UPS, made the favors myself and kept them to a bare minimum / bulk type items and Dollar Tree finds, and am making the cake myself this year! 

I am toying with the idea of forgoing Valentine’s Day entirely this year, other than the $7 box of Valentines I bought for Connor to hand out at preschool. I’d been brewing a beautiful, private dinner for Aaron and I complete with d├ęcor and dessert, but I know Aaron probably won’t do anything for me for V-day, so rather than face a letdown and potential blow-up, I may table the entire dinner. I’d also thought I might make a bunch of cute homemade candies and homemade Valentine’s for the girls I work with, but also gave that idea up with the hope of cutting costs.
I am worried this post is coming off as a downer, and that the only way you (and I) have fun is by spending money, but that is not true at all! I think I am much more excited about Connor’s birthday this year than last year, when I reserved a room, decorated it with all “Cars” themed merchandise, bought a cake from a local independent cake artisan, and bought lunch for every kid (and one moocher adult) who attended.
I’m also optimistic that I can save money by doing more and more outdoors in terms of Connor and my time. At least $20 a week goes toward playdates, coffees, snacks, etc. while we are out and about town. As the weather gets more mild, we will be able to meet friends at the park and other fun local places. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Freaky

This experiment in limiting TV / media has led to a strange side-effect. I feel like I should be saving a lot of the stuff we recycle! I actually got a bit miffed at Aaron a few days ago for RECYCLING a toilet paper tube. Didn't he know we were saving those for noise-makers?

We've managed to use a corn starch can and rice as an awesome shaker AND drum, Lincoln logs as drum sticks, pots and pans as drums, Lincoln logs as trumpets and flutes, and silverware as cymbals. There was a lot of music-making. Connor's favorite song is “I've Got A Feelin” by the Black Eyed Peas.



Later, pasta was incorporated into the rice and with a few large plastic cups, became a great experiment in pouring and measuring. There was a lot of mess, I'm not going to lie.
I learned the hard way that this was an activity best used when you're NOT making dinner.

I feel like I am skipping a lot of topics here, but we went to opening night of the Children's Film Festival last night. They happily only showed about 10 minutes of awesome children's animation. The other hour was filled with the rollicking music of Caspar Babypants.



We had an amazing time! It was so fun to dance, sing, and take a million pictures. I thought that I was ending this month's resolution on a low note after the attendance at the film festival, but the emphasis here was not on TV or movies. I was so glad I went, and Connor had a great time retelling the story of “Tally Ho, A Pancake” to his dad and anyone else who would listen.

I guess the most important thing I learned from January's resolution was that TV isn't necessary to me getting things done. I now know that there are SO many easy ways to distract my preschooler. I also know that limiting TV and media led to Connor being more happy about playing by himself and finding new things to play with.



I was very vindicated and happy when I saw this article in February's “Parent Map.”

February's goal is money / finance related!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keeping Up

Although the posting has been a bit infrequent, we have been doing (surprisingly) well without TV! For the next 2-3 days after the last post I stuck with the single 30 minute episodes of “Sesame Street” while we were getting ready in the mornings before school / playgroup.

I was really worried about weekends, since I work at a locally owned real estate brokerage and Aaron watches Connor all day, but they also stuck to my resolutions! It was actually with his father that Connor had a full day without television! I should actually give more credit where credit is due—Aaron stepped up in a big way when I first explained my resolution regarding TV / media and trying to limit it in Connor’s world. He began playing much more actively with Connor while I made dinner every night, offered activities and got him playing on his own in his room with train tracks, toy cars, stuffed animal worlds, etc. I could not have had as much success if it weren’t for Aaron being completely on board with wanting to reduce Connor’s time in front of the TV and computer.

Today in particular was a success for me, because I also didn’t resort to putting “Sesame Street” or any other show on in front of Connor so I could get things done. We watched NO TV today! I still picked up the master bedroom, got us both ready for a playdate, did a load of laundry, made dinner, and blogged while Connor PLAYED.

I think a big surprise for me in keeping this goal was Connor’s insistence on TV. When we weaned him off a bottle, got him sleeping in his own bed, and other milestones of babyhood, the longest he asked for something was 3 days. It has been weeks with the reduced TV schedule, and he will still randomly ask for a show throughout the day.

Connor is a very active boy—preschool teachers, other parents in co-op, and everyone we come into contact with lets me know this very frequently, so I imagine this is a factor in his desire for the boob tube. His mind and body are so active; he needs something to stimulate him most of the day.

The pictures from this blog have occurred over the last 2 weeks. I probably will go into depth on each activity later this week.

Enjoy!