Monthly Archives: June 2011

My muscles hate me.

I love to work out.  I love my gym.  I love the energy that comes when you’ve burned 500 calories in an hour.  When you feel like barfing because your body is working so hard.  Sounds weird, I know.  But I love that! My body loves it!

Until one day I decide that I’m going to take a day off from working out.  Maybe I have too much laundry.  Maybe I don’t feel well.  Maybe the kids need me at home.  Whatever it is it only takes once.  Just one day to break that cycle. Just one day to make my muscles decide that they have turned against me and aren’t going to do anything either.

Now I find myself faced with feeling totally and completely unmotivated.  You know when you should be doing something, but just can’t quite find the perfect and exact reason to do it.  So now comes the really hard part.  Harder than doing those 10 extra pushups.  Harder than lifting those 10 extra pounds.  Harder than running that extra mile. Figuring out, once again, what drives me to be at the gym day after day.

It should be easy.  It’s summer.  Just the mere fact that I’m going to be in a swim suit for 20% of the season should be reason enough.  What motivates you?  What drives you to want to look and feel your best?  I’m going to figure out what mine is once again!

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Date Night

Having 4 kids takes up a lot of time. Sometimes just moving from one place to the next takes time. Picking up toys, putting dishes in the dishwasher, hanging up laundry, and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, date night is something that would not naturally happen. Luckily, I have a love of going out!

I love to try new food, see new movies, and just generally get away from my kids. I realize that not all married couples share my love. Some married couples love being with their kids day after day, night after night.  Although, this seems like not so much fun for me, I know that some moms and dads love it.  I, however,  have found that having a date night is a necessity for a strong marriage, even if you don’t have kids. It’s a time to let go of whatever has happened at work or at home and be together with your spouse. Even if your date night consists of shopping at Target and going to 5 Guys. Time alone is what counts. It helps you to remember why you fell in love in the first place.

It’s not always easy to find time alone. If you’ve seen the movie “Date Night,” you know what I mean.  You have to rally.  I may not be as bad as Tina Fey’s character, but I have used every excuse as to why I don’t want to have a date. Babysitters cost too much. Restaurants are all booked. There are no good movies. I’m too tired. Every excuse can be remedied with something. Babysitters cost too much? Have a “date” at home with a nice meal and a movie on demand after the kids are in bed. Restaurants all booked? Nope. That never happens. OK, maybe on Valentine’s Day, but there’s always at least one place where you could go. No good movies? Than go for a walk. Too tired? That’s EXACTLY why we need to get away!

I said before that I love going out. I love going out with my husband. I also love going out without him. Although date nights are hugely important for a strong marriage, so are times spent away from your spouse. The expression “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” really rings true. At least for me. When I am not with him, I remember why I love being around him. I love that I have him to go home to.

I know marriage isn’t easy. No one said it is. But having a friend in your spouse makes even the toughest times seem easier. Set aside time to be alone. Mark it on your calendar or phone. If it’s not a priority, make it a priority. And you will soon see how important, fun, and needed date nights really are!

Recipe: Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

For years, I’ve had  2 rhubarb plants in my back yard.  For years, I thought there was something wrong with them.  They never ripened, they were always green.  So, I never cut them. I just let them die.  Year after year.  Until this year.  I finally realized that I had green rhubarb.  Oops.  I can’t believe I let 7 years worth of rhubarb just die.  Oh well, I guess it’s good compost, right?

This year I decided to make what I used to make with my regular reddish rhubarb, Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp. Both are in season right now, so if you don’t have access to these plants in your back yard, they should be easy to find at your local farmer’s market.  And if for some reason you don’t like raspberries, any berry will do the trick.

Before I make anything with rhubarb, I soften it in the crockpot for four hours.  Just cut up the stalks to about 3″ pieces, cover with water, and add 2 cups of sugar.

1.  Heat the oven to 350.  Combine softened rhubarb, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and orange (or any citrus) zest and juice in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

2.  In another bowl, combine one cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Rub 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, into flour mixture with your fingers until it is well incorporated and forms large crumbs.  Add 1/2 cup rolled oats and combine.

3.  Turn rhubarb into 1 1/2 quart baking dish, scatter berries evenly over surface, and cover with crumb topping.  Bake until topping is brown and crisp and juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

More summer fun!

I can’t believe I left this out of yesterday’s blog, “It’s summer, so now what?” Another great way to keep your kids occupied during summer is VBC or Vacation Bible Camp. Most churches have some sort of VBC program and they often vary at different times so why not sign up for multiples? This summer our church, New Life Church in Renton, is going on a Road Trip! For more information and to sign your kids up go to http://www.newliferenton.com/index.php?nid=14305&s=ev&event_id=342069&event_start_date=2011-07-10&viewmode=week&viewdetails=true.

It’s summer, so now what?

Aahhh, summer. Those lazy days. I love summer. For the first 3 weeks. Then, I have trouble keeping my kids and myself occupied. This summer should be even more fun because not only do I have my 4, but my sister’s 2. Don’t be surprised if you see me frequently holding a cocktail midday. But how will I keep 6 kids from feeling bored come July 5?  For you locals, I have a few ideas that I’ve used over the years.

1. SUMMER MOVIE EXPRESS by Regal Cinemas. 2 days a week during the summer months, Regal Cinemas is showing kids movies for just $1. This is not new, but what has changed is now they charge you. In years past it has been free. There are a couple of upsides for this charge, though, that I’ve noticed. The movies are fairly new. I’ve been to some screenings in previous years where the choices of movies for the week are less than nap-time worthy. Also, since they are charging this year, I think the theaters will be less full. We’ve actually been turned away before because the theaters fill up so fast. I think this will help remedy the situation. And $1 for a new-ish movie really isn’t that much. Go to http://www.regmovies.com/summermovieexpress for more information and to check your local theaters.

2. The Beach. Although I tend to not love our beaches here in the northwest, my kids do. And many of them have a nearby park. It’s an easy answer to summer boredom.

3. Waterparks. This is my favorite summer “hang-out” now that I have kids. We have a very close, very clean water park to our house and for the last 3 summers, I have splurged and bought the season pass. The bonus to this is first, if you go more than 2 times, you have paid for it and second, no long wait lines. We pack a lunch, snacks, and water bottles so we don’t have to spend any money once we’re there. For my local friends visit, http://rentonwa.gov/living/default.aspx?id=190 for more information.

4. National Parks. We have become a family very fond of our national park system. It started 5 years ago when we took our first multi-state road trip and visited several national parks along our route. Since then, every summer, we find at least one destination to pack up the car to visit. It’s so much fun learning about America as well as viewing the beautiful countryside along the way. To make it even better, the National Parks System offers a Free Entrance Day every June 21, the first day of summer. Normal entrance fees vary by park. Visit http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm for more information.

5. Reading programs. I’m not much of a reader, but thank the Lord, my kids are different from me when it comes to reading. There are so many local reading programs that, chances are, you wouldn’t be able to participate in all of them if you tried, but some of our favorites are run by the local library system and Barnes & Noble. It’s fun for kids to read new and challenging books and then get a reward for accomplishing their goal at the end of summer. Go to http://freesamplefreak.com/summer-reading-programs-for-kids-2011/ for some great ideas!

6. The Dollar Store. This is kind of a “what should we do today?” pit stop that I access frequently. We can usually find enough change around the house and in the car for each of the kids to choose something and it usually takes them around 60 minutes to figure it out how to use their dollar wisely.

These are just a few ideas that I hope you will use. Please leave feedback and any other ideas that you might have. I’m always up to finding new things to do.  Oh, and don’t forget to pack the sunscreen!

So many shoes, so little time

I love my kids more than anything! All 4 of them have such unique qualities, that at times, I prefer to be around one more than another. However, the other day, I had a huge proud mommy moment! Having 4 kids, I have a lot of proud mommy moments. But for some reason, this one threw me for a loop and made my heart swell at the same time. What was this mama proud? It wasn’t the fact that my 2 year old is already totally potty-trained. It wasn’t the fact that my 5 year old has started, not only calling me mommy, but the “greatest mommy in the world.” It wasn’t the fact that my 10 year old completed a HUGE reading goal that he set for himself for the last week of school. ALL of these things make me super duper proud to be these kids’ mommy. But this week, the thing that made me so happy and wanting to explode with joy was when my 12 year old daughter asked, “Mommy, can we go to DSW? I’d like to buy a pair of heels for my 6th grade graduation!”

Did you feel my excitement while I typed that out? YES!!! Of course we can go to my favorite store of all time and buy you, my jeans and t-shirt daughter, a pair of heels! I had a blast! She had a blast! The smile glued to her face the whole time let me know that she was dying from excitement inside.

Then came the dilemma. She found 2 pairs that she wanted. Both were the perfect color. Both had the same size heel. Both were on sale. Yes, I’m happy to say, that I have passed down my trait of being able to scope out a deal to my daughter. Which shoes to choose? There were too many. After about 10 minutes of watching her walk through the store with one on the left, the other on the right, she chose.

As she walked up to the counter and handed over her box and gift card, smile still plastered to her face, I knew that this would be a moment I would always remember. Not only because of the shoes. But because we were able to connect on a level that I never imagined would happen. My baby girl, my first born, has started her transition to becoming a young lady. And THAT is what made this mommy so proud!

I. Must. Decorate.

I get bored. Either that or I have some form undiagnosed of decorating ADD. Every few months I feel the need to rearrange, redecorate, or renew a room in my house. And it doesn’t stop. Seriously, if I’m not rearranging furniture, I’m rearranging, or worse buying, new decor. Luckily, I have found a few ways to help remedy my disorder.

First, I change decor and accent pieces depending on the seasons or holidays. This seems like a lot of work to some people. To me, it’s a necessity. I’ll give you an example. As June 1 rolled around, I was happy to put away what seemed like my old dreary spring decor; yellow flowers, yellow candles, chicks and birds. Now my living room is donned with patriotic happiness; I have an American flagged proudly draped around my large mantle mirror, a sign on my piano that reads, “Ice Cream for Sale,” and loads of candles with shells inside. In a mere 3 months, my fondness for this season will be gone and I’ll be thrilled to put away my summer things until June 1, 2012.

Second, I can’t help it, but I love to rearrange my furniture. My husbands dreads the words, “I want to rearrange the living room.” I don’t understand his resent for wanting things to look a little different. I have just learned to move things on my own while he’s at work. That way, my feng shui is happy and he’s happy because I didn’t ask him to, once again, move the cables and cords to a different spot.

Third, I purge. I am slowly, but surely, liking the idea of becoming a minimalist. Key word, slowly. I am far from it, but just getting a few things off my walls and counter tops makes things feel a little bit brighter. I held on to 2 mini candelabras for about the last 6 years. They were on my bathroom counter. I loved them. I thought they looked perfect. Nothing could look better on my bathroom counter top, even though they collected dust and I never lit the candles. They were going to stay. Until last week. I had the urge to purge. I was getting ready for bed when the thought happened. I looked around. I thought, “I can’t let go of these tarnished beauties.” But something came over me and before I knew it, they were in the goodwill bag. I grabbed a picture off my bedroom wall, found another candle that I had in storage and voila! My bathroom counter is perfection! OK, that might be a bit extreme, but just the idea of getting rid of something and trying out something new helps me feel better.

So, what can you do to help a room in your house? Even something small like fresh flowers in a glass pitcher right in the middle of a cleaned off dining room table. Do something for yourself and for your family. For me? My sister just bought a house and asked me to help her decorate. Thank God I have an outlet, otherwise this could have been a long summer.