tug-o-war

tugowar3rdgrade

Tug-o-war.  If you live in our neighborhood, this has been an annual tradition at the elementary school at least since my oldest daughter has been there.  It is an annual competition, a tournament among the grade level classes, that earns you bragging rights for the year.

This is a photo of my daughter’s 3rd grade class.  She’s the tugger in the white shirt right there with her teacher coaching her on.  These kids and their teachers are serious, mentally prepared, and make it fun.  The parents have as much fun watching as the kids do competing.

When I look at this photo it depicts how I feel with my daily journey to live more balanced.  Being about six weeks into weight watchers, I am feeling the reality settling in of living a new lifestyle. It’s not one big pull and I’m at my goal.  It’s something that I will work at always.  And I want to be healthy so  I take it seriously.  My health and the health of my family matters.  I have had to get to a place of being mentally prepared in order to approach this as a lifelong journey- a lifestyle of balance that I practice daily.  And, yes, I have fun.  I make it fun!  I have gotten in a rhythm of sorts with it all.  I found workouts I love to do.  I know what foods I need to fuel my body with and I am learning how to prepare them in ways that are tasty… that I look forward to eating.  I’m learning to say to no to things that make me feel overwhelmed and I try to rest when I can.  It’s not easy and it takes work.  Daily work.

So what else is going on in this picture?  How does this relate to a journey of better living?  I see a whole team that pulls with you, in the same direction you are going, to get you closer to the goal.  One person alone cannot carry the work that requires many.  Your team is right there by your side, going through the game with you, wanting the win too.  They are your steadies- those that do life with you in a way that makes you want to live better, love bigger, and give your all.

On the other end of your team?  That’s all the things that work against you… habits from the past that are hard to shake, negative self-talk that becomes your everyday norm when you are in that self-demoting mentality, emotional triggers that cause you fight or flight… and most days flight is just an easier option.  It’s those that may not support your new way of living or your new habits of bettering yourself.  And sometimes it’s just the taste of that one vice that you.cannot.say.no.to.ever.  (Remember… The chocolate struggle is real…). These things tend to always be pulling us away from our goal- whether it’s massive resistance or just a gentle tug.  We are in constant motion to pull back, away from these triggers.

Standing there right by your team is the coach.  Maybe this is a person, maybe this is an online community of support, maybe this is a monthly meeting you attend.  It’s that person or program that gives you specific strategies on how to pull harder in the direction you want to go.  Coaches that have clipboards full of ideas to keep you committed to do your best.  They see in you the goals you want to accomplish and they help you figure out a plan to execute a plan.

None of this would be easy without the cheering section.  These are those bystanders around you that yell out encouragement from the sidelines.  They are there, ready to give you that attagirl that we all need to hear from time to time.   They may not be in your life daily, but they are there watching you succeed, giving you that thumbs up to keep going.

My daughter’s class started off this competition losing two out of the first three rounds.  That didn’t stop them.   They kept trying, working together one round at a time, getting stronger as they kept going and relying on each other.  And by the time it was all said and done, they walked away with first place.  What a win!  Accomplishing a goal is always so much more satisfying when a little sweat and tears went into the game.

So I look at this photo and realize- this is life.  This is me using my strength to pull towards the goals I have set for myself.  One giant tug doesn’t get me there.  I have to work with those around me, that help push me towards my goals.  I have to use the support I have put in place to help coach me through, and I need to pay attention to the encouragement I get along the way.  One day at at time.  One tug toward the goal at a time.  The drawn-out, hard fought wins are always the ones that you remember the most.  And they are always so worth it.❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

radicchio and chicken egg roll cups

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Ingredients:

3 oz. rotisserie chicken- shredded

3 egg roll wraps- unbaked

2 cups shredded radicchio lettuce

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

salt and pepper

 

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mold the egg roll wraps into a muffin tin- loosely pushing them in and tucking edges to make like a mini bowl.  Bake for 8 minutes then set aside to cool.
  2. While eggroll wraps are baking, place radicchio in a bowl.  Combine with olive oil and next 6 ingredients and stir well.
  3. Gently mix in the chicken.  Stir until just combined.
  4. Fill each eggroll cup completely full with the mixture.
  5. Enjoy!

These are so simple to throw together and make for a very flavorful, light lunch.  I just ate them with my hands… may be a little messy but worth it!  Weight Watchers= 7smartpoints total.

 

 

jicama mango salad

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A fellow WW member brought this recipe to our meeting yesterday- she had a copy for everyone.  How sweet was that?  The total time, start to finish, is 20 minutes AND it’s only 2 smartpoints!  I thought I would pay it forward and share it here- the flavors make my mouth water.

3 tablespoons orange juice

1/4 teaspoon minced orange zest

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces jicama, cut into 1 1/2 inch-long matchsticks (about 2 cups)

1 large mango (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 heads Bibb lettuce, washed and drained

In a small bowl, whisk together juice, zest, sugar, salt, and vinegar.  Continue whisking and add oil in a slow stream.  Set aside.

Place the jicama in a medium bowl.  Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin of the mango.  Carefully cut the flesh of the mango away from the large, oval pit.  Cut the mango into short, thin strips, and add to the jicama.

Add the dressing and cilantro and toss.

Arrange the lettuce on a platter.  Top with the salad.  Garnish with orange wedges, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

*i used thawed out frozen mango chunks  by the time I sliced and stirred it was a little soft and mushy  still tasty 😜

*one fellow member suggested also adding mint- yummy.

*another member suggested adding grilled chicken to up the protein and make it a full meal.

*when typing this out, I accidentally first typed the word “whiskying”… instead of “whisking”…. perhaps it was a Freudian slip… maybe a shot of whisky while making this salad just adds to the whole overall experience of having a yummy dish… (heehee)

colorful little plate flower

plateflower

About a week into weight watchers I found an entire online community of men and women on Instagram. These folks use the social media platform as a way to connect, inspire, and find accountability. I could spend hours on end reading posts, finding new accounts to follow, and gaining wisdom from tried and tested habits, recipes, and ideas.

One thing I noticed right away in these images was the COLOR! Every color I could imagine- bright and vivid, subtle and calming- I see them all when I scroll the feed. Photos of healthy foods grown from the earth… foods that provide us with the nutrition our bodies were made for… complimentary background colors and objects… I notice them all. I see relaxing tones that depict an accomplished end to a day dedicated to healthy living. It’s all so inspiring to me- a steady stream of color that fills my news feed. I have always been a girl who loves color and now here I am, with this social media tool I can scroll through right in the palm of my hand.  Daily I am feeling inspired to bring color into my world in ways I hadn’t thought of before.

While out running errands this week, I found these fun plates at Kohls. They were all marked half-off, displayed to draw you into their design. It didn’t take long for them to find their way into my shopping basket to bring home. Everytime I look at them, I feel inspired to fill them up with healthy foods- foods that make me feel as happy as the plates themselves, foods that color my world with health and that help me thrive.  I couldn’t even wait to make the food that goes on them. With a laundry list of chores ahead of me, I decided these plates were a priority. I found myself creating the flower you see above, just as a way to play, express, and appreciate something so small yet so inspiring to me.

We all need these little moments. We have a list of have-to’s and should’s as long as our day will allow. But guess what? Tomorrow? Same thing- another list. There’s always a “I really ought to get ____ done” running in our head. But today?  Today I chose to play. Color makes me feel carefree.  A few round pieces of melamine consume my thoughts and let me just be.  I feel happy in this small moment, almost relaxed.  Some days the laundry can wait to allow this kind of spontaneous, unplanned time happen. Procrastination can be okay. Little plate flowers bloom right where I created that playful space for myself… and it colors my world just a little more happy. 🙂

“… a cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”    – Proverbs 17:22❤️

 

silver size 10

imageMy five-foot-ten daughter just had one of the best and fastest shoe shopping experiences of her 14-year-old life. Keeping her fingers crossed she would find short heels for her 8th grade Exit Party dance, somewhere, and preferably in silver, she decided to walk in Payless. And within 30 seconds they delivered. We popped in simply because we were next door at Target and within five minutes we were done. One-and-a-half inch heels.

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In the world of five inch stilettos at every turn, we managed to find the proverbial needle in the haystack in a silver size 10. I have one happy, tallest-one-of-her-friends girl. Some days, it’s just the little things like this…👠

 

 

waiting at the dentist

waiting room feet pic

After taking my daughter to the pediatric dentist today, I found myself with some extra quiet time on my hands… time to just read and let my mind wander.   I thought I’d share my thoughts here- which are written and listed as randomly as they floated through my head.

  1.  Even though it is your fourth child and you’re busy wrangling teenage attitudes, it’s best to take that youngest child to the dentist regularly.  Don’t do like I did and pretend those regularly scheduled visits every 6 months are just a hypothetical recommendation.  Between that and the poor tooth genetics from her mother, Julia had more than she should have had done while in the chair today.  New dental habits are already in place. #motheroftheyear
  2.  Always bring good reading material with you.  It’s not called a waiting room for nothing…. sitting around for awhile is just part of the gig.  I have found it to be a great opportunity to put my phone down and have a few uninterrupted, quiet(er) minutes to read.  Even though the TV is on, the ability to tune out Blues Clues is like riding a bike… it comes back just like that.
  3. Take advantage of the beverage hospitality.  This has not always been the case with these waiting rooms.  There are mini fridges stocked with cold water and Keurigs fired up ready to brew you a quick, custom cup of coffee.  Seriously, we are spoiled.  And they go hand-in-hand with the book or magazine you plan to catch up on.
  4. If your wait is long enough and you have time to both read and spend some time on your phone, plus it’s lunch time and you haven’t had time to eat, do NOT scroll through magazine-worthy food photos on Instagram or Twitter.  I follow many Weight Watchers folks who all post countless snapshots of delicious looking food.  I left a little hangry today, conflicted between frustration to eat NOW and inspiration to run by HEB and try one the yummy recipes I had just stalked.
  5. If you are in a pediatric waiting room, enjoy watching those cute little ones waiting for their turn to be called back.  I’m talking about other people’s little ones who make me look at my own nine year old baby and wonder where on earth all the time is going.  Think about slowing down TODAY and just enjoying them.

 

This waiting room is yet another reminder of just how quickly they grow up.  Right now, it’s that time of year when I am ready to be DONE with all of my parent duties for school, soccer and dance…  everything. I’m so guilty of just rushing through our week nights and weekends, checking things off the list for the sake of simply lightening the load. I need to listen to that small voice I am hearing that tells me to slow down and savor every last moment of the current grade each of my girls are in.  There’s always just a tinge of sadness for me as the school year wraps up.  Does anyone else feel this?  All of the end-of-the-year everything leaves me feeling a little melancholy.  This chapter we are in is coming to a close and it’s gone by entirely too fast.  Next year I will have two in high school, one in her last year of middle school, and my baby in fourth grade.  I don’t dwell on it… I really do get excited about what’s to come.  I think God designed all of us parents with that thread of optimism to keep us going with their growing.  But I can’t help but secretly want to hold onto this part- RIGHT HERE… where we are RIGHT NOW- just for a little bit longer.  As they say, the days are long but the years are short.  I am thankful this week for this waiting room of other people’s little people, a real-life TimeHop kind of moment, teaching me to take one day at a time these next couple of weeks… to just enjoy the age of my girls and who they are becoming… today…. now…. in the midst of all the May parties and awards, recitals and art shows, field days and tug-o-war.  Summer can hold on just a few more moments while I take a short pause and enjoy this chapter soon getting ready to end.  Then it will be time to celebrate  ❤️

 

 

 

sharpie art

josie sharpie

It’s been about a month since we lost our sweet girl, Josie.  It’s amazing just how close we grow to our pets- they most definitely are family.  The relationship between our kids and their animals is really something to sit back and admire.  It’s also interesting to see how differently we each grieve her loss.

My oldest girl turns to art for most things.  She drew this quick, sharpie-on-notebook-paper picture of our little pup.  I love how she captured her face so well with such simple use of color and lines.

We were all meant to be creative.  It doesn’t mean we have to all be Picasso’s.  By design, God is the ultimate Creator and He leaves a thread of that legacy within each of us.  There are so many ways to bring out your artistic side.  The obvious, yes… paints, colors, pencils and papers.  There are also words- writing and poetry, the way we express our feelings in those special cards we give others.  And we can’t forget that daily camera we have in our hands 24/7.   Our phones allow us to have a camera ready at all times to capture all those precious moments of life.  Even if you don’t love the photo you take, there are lists and lists of apps that put filters on those pictures.  You can click a few times and turn a mundane shot into a graphic work of art.

And to be inclusive of all mediums, simply the way we live is artful.  Loving others is an expression of our souls.  The way we serve those around us, attending to their needs, can be beautiful.  Reaching out to a hurting friend, praying for them… it all comes from the heart, which IS artistic.  Never stop paying attention to those people we do life with and the places we find ourselves.  Never quit looking for a way to find a creative outlet that suits you for both times of happiness and times of sorrow.  It is necessarily therapeutic and the beauty it adds to our world is priceless.