Lately…

Well hello dear friends!

I haven’t written a blog post in ages… I miss you.

I’ve been busy trying to keep my job. I have a temporary position and have been offered a full-time position teaching 6th grade Language Arts and Creative Writing next year. But I recently found out that they offered it to me prematurely and I now have to jump through the proper HR hoops to ensure that I have a job next year.

The unknown has got me a bit stressed out. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the blog is always going to suffer near the end of the school year simply because I’m just too busy to frolic around.

Plus, the weather around here has been awful. I’m pretty sure I went two weeks without seeing the sun. It actually even snowed on Mother’s Day.

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When the sun did decide to make an appearance while I wasn’t working the last thing I wanted to do was sit down inside and write a blog post. Sorry but it’s true. Instead, during those short snippets of time when the sun would peak out through the clouds I felt compelled to hunt for puddles with Penelope…

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Then slowly but surely the clouds would roll back around and we would be stuck inside again. And that made me want nothing more than to cuddle up with a blanket with a hot cup of earl grey and get lost in a book.

My current obsession is Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, which takes place in the Highlands of Scotland.

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You would think that I would have chosen to escape to a place where it never rained but reading it with the rain pelting the window made it all that much better.  Besides, it’s not too shabby when you have this guy to keep you company…

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You know, when you aren’t too busy looking admiringly at your husband as he obsesses over Cardinals baseball :)

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Apparently, this is a TV show on Starz but I haven’t been able to watch it. Good thing too or I definitely would not find myself in a rehireable position.

However, when the sun did come out I took full advantage and planted seeds for the garden before the rain came pelting down again.

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Penelope is quite the garden helper these days…

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In addition to mammoth sunflowers and wildflowers, I’ve planted pumpkins and two types of kale. My rainbow carrots from last year took it upon themselves to reseed and take over the garden. While the potatoes I never picked last year have popped up ready for a second chance. Brent also weed whacked my raspberry bush last year (no that’s not a euphemism) and it has come back thriving along with my strawberry patch and herbs. It appears that my years as a failed gardener are paying off!

The other day I found a lot of little green bugs in my strawberries and took photos to show the professionals at the nursery. It turns out that they are aphids, the lady bugs meal of choice. He gave me two choices 1.) Spray the shit out of the strawberries to try to knock them down. 2.) Buy lady bugs and release them in the wild so that they can consume the vagrants.

We chose option number 2 simply because lady bugs are cute…

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This was clearly the best choice. Penelope has observed several of them giving each other “piggy back rides” hopefully that means that they’ll multiply and be around to take care of the spider mites that usually attack my tomatoes.

All of these garden preparations have made me so ready for warm weather and summer fun! I can’t wait for the freedom that it will allow me. I need to get back in touch with myself and reconnect with the balance of health and work.

I Wanna Live In My Bathing Suit… Half Wedgie And All

Hi friends!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while… I just didn’t feel like it. Well, that isn’t true. I felt like writing, I just didn’t feel like writing about weight loss and the insecurities of a grown woman who struggles on a daily basis to keep her shit together.

Somewhere in between Saturday and Monday I lost the motivation… to do anything. I blame it on the rainy weather we had. Basically, I was just feeling a little burned out.  On Sunday, which would have been my selected blog posting day, I opted to watch Mary Poppins and drink red wine with my friend while she watched me do my laundry and potty train my child. That’s a good friend, you know :) I did all of this for the sake of doing things the happy way.

I thought by the time Monday rolled around my motivation would return.

It didn’t.

I did what I had to do but I wasn’t really feeling it. It wasn’t until I saw the sun peek around the clouds that I pepped up again. On one particularly beautiful run I stumbled upon a gaggle of girls giggling and doing an impromptu dance in the middle of the park. So like any other creeper I took a picture because I secretly wanted to join them.

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(You always have to appreciate impromptu dancing when you see it.)

I didn’t really feel like running on that particular day, but the weather called for it so I felt obligated. But by Tuesday Stella Nina got her groove back one step at a time. It started with the running and then it escalated with sucking down my new favorite water concoction (frozen strawberries and half a lemon) and got even better when I started chowing down on this awesome  Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad.

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I’ve seriously eaten this four times in the past week. I also ate a handful of chocolate chips every night because… well, I needed wanted that too.

When I wasn’t busy fulfilling my familial obligations and job deadlines I was busy sniffing the lilac bushes and pining for the day that it would be appropriate for me to wear my bathing suit all day long and finish the book I’ve been writing.

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It’s a little juvenile fiction I’ve been working on for a while. It’s very Gidget meets Judy Blume.  It’s about a girl named Micah navigating her way through the summer between 6th grade and 7th grade.

Here is a little sampler-  (FYI Wichita Falls peeps, the pool scene takes place at Sea Blue.)

…I hurried and squeezed into my one-piece bathing suit because I couldn’t stand to see myself naked anymore. It was tight. I was definitely going to need to get a new one. It dug into my shoulders and gave me a perpetual wedgie. But I was dying to go swimming so I pulled on some shorts, grabbed a towel and headed out the door.

As soon as I stepped out of my air conditioned house I started to sweat. I had forgotten to put on deodorant that morning and instantly regretted it. I decided to go ahead and ride my bike because it was too late not to look like a dork in front of the kids in the neighborhood. I had two huge bandages on my elbows now and there was no turning back. Hey, at least I have high school to not be the ugly duckling anymore. I’ll just make my transformation then.

As I rode down the street the sounds of kids screaming, whistles blowing and music playing got louder. When I finally turned the corner I saw the pool overflowing with people. I started to get nervous about my bathing suit. I’d just have to stay in the water as much as possible to keep people from seeing me pick my constant wedgie. After riding my bike my bathing suit had now earned its way to thong status and I was glad that I was wearing shorts.

I walked up to the gated entrance and showed my card to the lifeguard sitting at the gate. There were a lot of kids there my age and I instantly felt self-conscious. I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible, so I chose to lay my towel down by the baby pool.

I quickly pulled my swimsuit out of my butt and took off my shorts. I was headed toward the big pool when I heard someone shout my name.

I looked and saw that girl, Megan, who had bandaged my arm earlier waving me over. She was sitting with two other girls who were wearing bikinis. They were sunbathing on their towels and were slathered with suntan oil.

“Come lay over here!” she yelled across the screaming toddlers bobbing around in the baby pool.

Great, I thought, just what I needed, to lie on my dirty towel next to girls who looked like they belonged in Cosmo Girl.

“Okay,” I said trying to smile but it turned out to be more of a grimace. I was pretty sure I looked more constipated than confident.

As I walked up the other two girls were looking at me a lot like Marissa Pete would look at me, like I was disgusting. I put my towel down next to Megan and sat down, which was a big mistake because I could feel my bathing suit shift in a half-wedge, revealing my right butt cheek. Luckily, I was sitting on it.

“Micah, this is my friend Ava,” she said pointing to a tan redhead wearing a pink bikini that tied at the sides. I didn’t even know you could be tan and redheaded at the same time.

“And this is Trish”, she said pointing to the other girl who had long light brown hair and wore lots of eye makeup. She gave a half smile and then turned toward Ava to show her a text message that she had received.

“So, how do your elbows feel?” Megan asked as she lounged gracefully on her towel.

“Oh, they’re fine,” I said, not wanting to talk about it.

“My mom got so mad at Keaton when she got back from the store and found out he nearly killed you. She’s decided to make your family dinner sometime as a welcome to the neighborhood type of thing. She said she’d like to meet your mom.”

“Oh,” I said, not wanting to mention the fact that I didn’t really have one.

“Hey Megan look at this?” Trish said as she handed Megan her cell phone.

Megan scrunched up her nose like she smelled something bad as she read the message. For a minute I thought it might be me, so I took a stealthy whiff of my armpit as I rested my arms on my knees.

“He wants to know if I’ll be in town on the fourth to watch the fireworks from the soccer field!”  Trish squeeled.

“You know what that means!” Ava screamed as she wrapped her arm around Trish’s head covering her mouth with her hand and pretending to make out with it.

“Seriously Trish, if you kiss my brother I’m going to puke.”

I felt my heart skip a beat.

“But he’s so hot!” Ava and Trish said in unison.

 Since I was a girl of few words who was sitting on an exposed butt cheek, I spent the next few minutes listening to Megan and her friends talk about their Fourth of July plans. It sounded like they were going to go to the carnival by the high school football stadium and then they were going to watch the fireworks on the soccer field. Apparently, the soccer field was the “make out spot” for middle school. That was, if you hung out there at night. The other two girls acted like they were professionals at kissing by the way they were talking about it.

It sucked sitting there listening to them. I wondered if I would be invited to come along. I was also a little nervous that they would ask me to come along. I didn’t know anything about kissing and I wasn’t so sure how I felt about it. Soon the conversation switched to face wash and lip gloss. It was at that point that I had had enough of the girl talk. It was scorching hot and I could feel the sweat drip down my back. I would have been in the pool first thing if I wasn’t sitting on a problem. I kept wondering how I could stand up without mooning the little kids behind me?

While the girls talked I nonchalantly tried to scoot my butt on my towel thinking the friction would shift my bathing suit back over where it belonged, but it had the opposite effect. Instead, I felt the left side slowly shifted over, exposing both cheeks. Ava looked over at me and I stopped, realizing I probably looked like a dog scratching his butt on the carpet.

Finally, I was so hot and sweaty and tired of listening to girls talk about girl stuff that I decided that I would rather show my butt to the world than to have to sit there for one more second. I stood up abruptly, and was aware that they all had stopped talking and were looking at me. Ignoring them I picked my wedgie, walked over to the edge of the pool and dove in.

I spent the next hour staying underwater for as long as I could. It made me think of all of the times I played Mermaid with my old best friend back when it was cool to act like a kid. I had stayed down there for so long that when my head popped through the water the lifeguard was staring at me. Maybe he thought I was drowning.

When I rubbed the water out of my eyes he smiled at me and said, “Hey that’s pretty good. How long do you think you can stay under?”

“I don’t know I’ve never counted.”

“Well, try to do it again and I’ll time you.”

“Okay,” I said, not really caring if he timed me or not.

So I went under again and let my hair swirl around my head listening to the muffled sounds of people talking over head and the gurgles of the bubbles as they slipped from my nostrils. Finally, when I came up I realized I had a small audience watching to see how long I had stayed under.

“She did it boys,” he said as he grinned down at me. “She broke the record.”

Some of the boys moaned and some of them cheered, but the only boy I was looking at was looking right back at me with sea green eyes and a slight smile on his face.

“You broke my record.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know it was a contest.”

“No it’s cool. I’ll just have to beat your record,” he said showing off his crooked grin with a smug look on his face.

“Yeah? And what makes you think you could do that?” I asked. Not knowing why I was running my mouth.

“Because you’re a girl and I can’t just sit here and let a girl beat me.”

“Aw yeah! That’s what I’m talking about buddy,” Josh said as he bumped his fat fist against Luke’s.

That did it. I just glared at him. Yeah, Luke was cute and he made my heart flutter but he was really getting on my nerves.

“Let’s do it now.” I said, feeling the determination to beat him bubbling over. I looked over at the life guard and asked, “Can you time us?”

“Sure,” he said with a smile, “Good luck buddy, she’s good.”

Luke jumped in the water and then splashed me in the face. On the count of three we both went under to see who could hold their breath the longest. Staying underwater with him there with me wasn’t as comfortable as it was before when I was by myself. I was having a hard time breathing above water when he was around, so holding my breath underwater felt almost impossible.

I opened my eyes underwater feeling the burn of the chlorine as it clouded my vision. I wanted to see if he was still there. He was and I was surprised to see that he was staring at me through the water. I didn’t know how much longer I could stay under but I couldn’t let him win. He was starting to wiggle when finally he broke the water and I came up right after him.

“Oh, she beat you!” I could hear the other boys say.

Without looking at me Luke hoisted himself up over the edge of the pool.

A kid wearing goggles that pushed his nose up to look like a pig snout pointed his finger in Luke’s face. “Ha! Ha! You got beat by a girl!”

“Shut up Keaton,” Luke said as he shoved his little brother into the water. Then he looked down at me and smirked.

“I think you lost something,” he said pointing to the water.

I looked down to see one of my bloody bandages floating in front of me.

“Oh sick! It’s probably her pad!” laughed Josh.

I grabbed it as fast as I could and started to swim to the shallow end before my face turned red. I tried not to look up at them but I couldn’t help it and I looked up just in time to see Luke turn his head and wink at me.

“We’ll see you tomorrow Micah,” he grinned, “same time, same place.” And then he strutted off with his friends while I watched him walk away.

The Happy Way

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Good morning from my back deck. It is both lovely and sort of freezing. When I woke up this morning everything was sprinkled with a sugar coating of snow. But as the sun started to make its appearance so did spring and I couldn’t help myself but to absorb as much of it as I could.

Any other day I would be at school teaching kids. However, my schedule is weird due to standardized testing, so I ended up getting the morning off. The first thing I decided to do was take my neglected dog for a walk.

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“I can’t wait! I think I need to run around the yard ten times. Wait… I SEE A BUNNY!”

Initially this was going to be a run and I’m one of those people who can’t workout without music. But when I stepped outside and heard the early morning sounds of spring I decided to go for a walk instead and just marinate in the moment.

It was beautiful…

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Even the weeds in that trashy neighbor’s lawn were beautiful with the morning sun hitting the dandelions just the right way. (I would probably have a different perspective if they didn’t live five blocks away.)

It’s so nice to have a breather every now and then…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about slimming down for the summer and I’ve decided to go about it the happy way. I keep trying to pressure myself into getting into hardcore shape up mode for summer. But when I do that it kind of defeats the point. The whole reason I want to live a healthy lifestyle is so that I feel good. If I’m so busy stressing out about numbers on a scale or counting calories or pinching my fat then I’m not really enjoying myself am I?

Where’s the happy in that?

Every summer I naturally tend to lose weight because I’m busy playing outside and plucking fresh foods out of my garden. It just sort of happens. Before I know it my legs are toned, my arms are tan and I’ve gotta permagrin on my face. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to carve out time for myself during my hectic life to simply eat fresh food, play outside and celebrate the beauty of the mundane.

In spirit of this I’m not going to weigh myself again until school lets out and just wait and see what happens. As of today I weighed in at 197.8 pounds. My next weigh in will be on June 1st just to measure where I am because ultimately it doesn’t really matter. I’m going to be flaunting what I’ve got regardless. (If you happen to run into me at the pool… well, bless your little heart.)

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In the mean time, here are a few recipes I’ve run into lately that I’m excited about trying…

Sesame Almond Butter Zucchini Noodle Bowls

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Rainbow Power Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

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Cherry Panzanella Salad

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Healthy Salmon Quinoa Burgers

Salmon Quinoa Kale Burgers with Arugula

5 Ingredient Granola Bars

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14 Smoothies for an Instant Mood Boost

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Have a great day! If you get a chance get outside and play!

Captain Hook Adventures

You know what? Monday’s usually suck but today is a great day!

I know this because I woke up to find a hot air balloon hovering over my backyard. (It’s my good luck charm.) It must have been a Happy Birthday hello to my sweet Penelope who turns three today!

As you could tell from my last post, things have been super busy as of late. The trend continued through the weekend but the focus of my efforts was trained on spending quality time with my girls instead of planning lessons and grading papers.

The guilt of being so focused on work somehow landed me on the couch on Friday night watching “Ouija” with Bridget.

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I hated it. At one point I screamed so loud I made Bridget scream, not because she was scared of the movie but because I startled her. Brent came in and out while we were watching it and made the special effort to make fun of it just enough to really get on Bridget’s nerves.

Then he took it upon himself to try to creep her out by writing “Hi friend” on every shiny surface he could find using dry erase marker. We would randomly find them throughout the entire weekend. Bridget acted like she was annoyed but you could tell that she thought it was funny.

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(You would have to see the movie to understand.)

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When Saturday arrived Penelope woke us up at 6:00 with her daily proclamation of… “The sun woked up! It’s time to wake up now!” This is usually followed by, “NOW! Wake up NOW!!!”

…and that’s when she ceases to be cute.

I didn’t fight her too hard because there was a lot to be done for her birthday party that day because up until that point I had done nothing in preparation for the event. Seriously, I had invited a few friends over last minute, but other than that nothing had been bought or prepared. Therefore, there was a lot on the “To Do” list for that day…

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Her party was a smorgasbord of themes. It was a garden, pirate, princess, super hero party and it was divine!

Brent had spent hours beforehand putting together a little garden house for her birthday present, to be located between our two garden beds. It took him hours to complete but the final product was adorable!

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Despite the lack of preparation on my part, the party was a smashing success! Indulge me as I bombard you with photos…

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I think the cutest part was when Bridget and her friend led the little kids on a treasure hunt adventure…

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It pretty much entailed leading the kids on a wild goose chase, enticing them to do weird things along the way until they found a box of goodies.

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It was like The Goonies minus the criminals and skeletons… and curse words.

The next day when we woke up we all looked like this…

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(Baby hangover.)

Despite the fact that we were all exhausted Penelope decided that she needed to be potty trained. It was my intention to take on this endeavor this summer as soon as school let out, but she had other plans. She insisted on wearing her underwear. I can’t deny a woman on a mission so we went for it.

Therefore, I spent my Sunday like this…

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Luckily, she chose the venture when the weather was nice. When I got sick of cleaning up her messes we went outside to pee play.

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(Doesn’t she look like she belongs in a Little Golden Book?)

It was so beautiful outside with the blossoms and the green grass. After I got Penelope ready for bed, I took her on a bike ride to see if we could find the signs of spring…

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We ended up finding Captain Hook in a tree. This entailed sprinting around the neighborhood narrowly escaping his over exaggerated efforts at catching us.

Sadly, I woke up with sore calves and hamstrings. I think it’s time to amp it up in the gym.

When I woke up on this Monday I couldn’t help but feel fulfilled after a weekend like that. Then I stepped on the scale…I weighed in at 198.4. I think a few more Captain Hook adventures around the neighborhood are in order. Luckily, the birthday celebrations are over and I’ve got six weeks before school lets out to trim down for summer.

I’ve also got a toddler trying to take a dump in my kitchen while I cook dinner so the odds of me losing my appetite at any given moment are in my favor… Silver linings folks, silver linings.

Squeeze it in another day

Well hello folks, I’m writing you this post in the midst of the making of dinner.

Bridget so graciously offered to take Penelope outside to play while I cooked.  (I made her do it.) This dinner takes twenty minutes to make so that’s all of the quiet time I’ve got.

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I’m making spicy mango chicken sausage with black beans and cilantro lime rice. Delish!

Brent’s schedule at the firehouse has been landing in the middle of the week… and it’s killing me.

That means I’m a single parent for three mornings, two nights and the days in between. Juggling that with swim practice, grading papers, laundry, grading papers, cooking dinner, grading papers and dealing with my angelic/demonic toddler along with my angelic/demonic preteen and I’ve got my hands full.

There have been so many times in the past few days when I just wanted take a minute to say hello and write a blog post. But then duty called in one form or another and I had to put it aside.

Kind of like when I stopped writing this post to serve dinner…

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Or that other time when I stopped writing this post to take Bridget to swim team practice, and then go for a run…

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and then stop running so Penelope can slide at the park…

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and then back to the run so that I can make it to the bookstore in time for Penelope to squeeze time to play with legos before I head back to the pool to pick Bridget up.

Phew! You get the idea.

FYI- it’s already four hours later.

I wanted to write posts to brag about how awesome I was at making good healthy choices throughout the week.

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And then I wanted to write a post to confess all of the unhealthy choices I made during the weekend…

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I also wanted to write a post about how good I look in my skinny jeans noting the fact that nobody would have any idea it was like squeezing a ten pound sausage in a five pound casing unless they tried to hug me around the waist, therefore breaking the illusion. (Sad, but true.)

At one point I wanted to write a post about how I lost more weight and was so proud of myself and then I wanted to amend that post with another post explaining how I gained that weight back over the holiday and during my husband’s birthday.

(For the record I have no idea how much I weigh at this point.)

Then I was tempted to write a post to show off the awesome figurative language scavenger hunt I made up for my students and brag about the ahhh-mazing poems they wrote. (Even though nobody cares about that because this isn’t a teacher blog.)

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But I don’t have time to write because I’ve got papers to grade…

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Maybe we can squeeze it in another day.