Patchouli and Herbs- Spring Break Edition

Oh the joys of not working…

64e0849b6aee3ce1b236cc4d443d2ed0

So far, Spring Break is everything I had hoped it would be. All of those idealistic visions I had in my head on how my break would unfold have come true.

My brother and sister-in-law came out for a visit the first half of the week and we spent three and a half glorious days frolicking around Denver.

Uncle Ben, (as the girls call him) and Bridget are the same spirit animal. They both could spend hours and hours perusing through comic book stores, listening to records, talking about the bands that they like, or judging which movies are the best.

While we were eating dinner together one night I commented on how they would probably be school friends if they were the same age and you know… he wasn’t her uncle and all.

Ben agreed, “Yeah, we’d totally be emo together and could bond over our angst.”

Then everyone at the table proceeded to bust out their smart phones and show what kind of music they listened to when they were in middle school. Uncle Ben admitted to having a thing for Kelly Clarkson but Aunt Stacie won the battle when she busted out some hardcore heavy-metal-screaming-lead-singer type of song.

We all just gaped at her because you never would guess. She’s a middle school math teacher who wear’s adorably fashionable clothes and knits with her small group friends in her free time.

I admitted to my R&B phase. But what I didn’t tell them was that I used to dance in the mirror to TLC’s Waterfalls wishing I had T-Boz’s abs. Or the fact that I went to bed at night listening to All For One’s, I Swear wishing I had a boyfriend.TLC

Ahhh, I can smell awkward tweens from the early nineties as I type this (CK1 and mint chewing gum). And I can’t help but cringe at the fact that we slow danced to Boyz II Men- I’ll Make Love To You at junior high dances. (Umm… eeew?) This is obviously before my discovery of Gwen Stephani.

Ahem. Anyway, back to the present…

The first full day that Ben and Stacie were in town we headed for downtown Denver in search for Voodoo Donuts. According to Bridget it is a tradition to stand in front of the store and take a picture of you holding the pink box. At her school this is an instagram must.

11081209_10206144349628553_3615779040418642699_n

We didn’t even know what to choose donut wise, so we let the guy at the counter pick out a dozen for us. Then we took them to a used comic book store/coffee shop that Bridget had been wanting to visit called Mutiny Information Cafe where we each took little pinches of the different donuts so we could try them all.

11062314_10206144374949186_2701513528432356255_n    15490_10206144374989187_402164316891791391_n

Then Penelope proceeded to run amok while Brent and I chased after her threatening to put her in time out if she screeched out loud in public again. Stacie sat back and drank coffee while Ben and Bridget listened to records and checked out the comic books.

10152569_10206144413070139_5114766791766473014_n   11060919_10206144424190417_5912616841865762242_n

Two peas in their pod… (Notice Brent in the back ground trying to corner Penelope before she darted around another book shelf.)

I actually forgot my phone on this occasion so I used Bridget’s phone to take pictures. I had to text them to myself in order to write this post. Have you ever looked in a tweenager’s phone before? It’s equal parts weird… and awesome.

When I tried to text the photos to myself I couldn’t figure out what my “name” was.

11348_10206144440390822_3416127927882207051_n

Turns out I’m under “Where am I” which is actually pretty much spot on… However, I would actually prefer to be referred to as “Strawberry milk” or better yet, “THE UNIVERSE ITSELF”.

Anyway, here are a few moments from Bridget’s perspective on this trip.

    10428141_10206144512872634_837196481250669785_n 11081423_10206144512952636_299186521121616998_n

1743457_10206144512992637_4357302648959732839_n  11053419_10206144512912635_310038221076047542_n

This area is very much what you would expect from Colorado. A lot of shirtless blonde dread headed hippies out and about playing hacky sack in their front yards smelling like patchouli and “herbs”.

“What’s patchouli?” Stacie asks.

“Hippy deodorant,” Ben responds.

After scoping out the local shops we headed toward Cherry Creek to our favorite burger joint, Cherry Cricket. We were all in agreement that we needed something in our bellies beside sugar and caffeine.

1842394076_Cherry_Cricket_bar_denver

I debated on whether I should get a salad or a grilled chicken sandwich, but I caved in. It would be a shame to go to my favorite burger place and not order a burger. So I went the moderation route and ordered the smallest size burger. I opted to eat only a few fries from the communal basket and ordered water instead of beer or soda. Later that night we created a salad bar of sorts to try balance out all of the other debauchery.

The next morning everyone ordered breakfast burritos from a local joint down the street. I decided not to join in and made eggs for breakfast instead. We had debated on what to do for the rest of the morning and decided that Ben and Stacie should go on a hike in order to get the full Colorado experience.

11102954_10206146763408896_8445140848556226140_n  11080906_10206146746648477_6110406312967897330_n

10941901_10206146756448722_3880210828717551509_n (1)  11102793_10206146737048237_6424731989337756095_n

Afterward everyone was still full from their breakfasts so we had frozen yogurt for lunch. We were all pretty worn out after the hike, so we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the back yard testing out the ol’ hammock. That night I made skinny taste chicken enchiladas and we tucked in for the night and watched the old Star Wars movies in our jammies.

11052374_10206128474391682_8916558050383367847_n

Ben and Stacie’s last day was spent in true Colorado style, hiding indoors during a spring time snow shower. Stacie, Bridget and I braved the elements long enough to go to a local artisan shop so that Stacie could find a souvenir for a friend. Lo and behold we found some patchouli soap just in case she wanted to head back to Missouri smelling like Colorado… minus the herbs.

10395810_10206146925012936_19780899675407388_n   10422177_10206146910372570_3199975286214195697_n

As Ben and Stacie drove off toward the airport that afternoon the sun came back out again just in time to give them a sunny Colorado goodbye.

11059353_10206146939493298_9101685409655350775_n

Stay tuned for Spring Break Celebrations part 2… and we’ll just pretend like I didn’t listening to Boyzzzz 2 Men the whole time I was writing this post.

*** What kind of music did you listen to when you were in Junior High???***

…LYLAS :)

Head Start on Spring Break!

Let’s do some math. Tons of exercise + eating super clean and healthy.

According to my calculations that should equal about a twenty pounds weight loss this week.

Unfortunately, I’m horrible at math… and super impatient and entitled.

What?! I did what I was supposed to do for five days, so that means I should get what I want. Right?

I weighed in this morning feeling deserving of the calculations above. Instead, I weighed in at 198.2… exactly what I weighed last week.

Upon further reflection I realized there may be a slight difference between what actually went down and what went down in my head. I exercised five days in a row. I mostly ran, and ran, and ran… only my run isn’t quite what it used to be. Instead, it was more of a run, and then a hobble, and then a walk. Repeat that process over and over again for about three miles and that’s pretty much what I did.

Eating wise I made healthy recipes, some of which my family deemed as questionable but ate anyway, because they love me. I was prepared for work, bringing well thought out breakfasts and left overs for lunch. And if I drank coffee I opted for no sugar.

11075012_10206110637465770_928968748236093284_n

Then on Thursday I had the brilliant idea of making rice crispy treats for my students in celebration of the impending spring break. I followed the microwave recipe in order to save time and ended up making rice crispy bricks. It took ingesting about six treats to figure out that they were inedible.

It didn’t matter because even if they did turn out, I wouldn’t have been able to share them with the kids anyway.

I was halfway through my first period class on Friday when I got a call from the babysitter alerting me to the fact that Penelope got bit by her dog.

11048673_10206110652826154_1249958052851303050_o

The babysitter felt horrible, but Penelope wasn’t even phased by it. I got my classes covered and picked her up to take her to the doctor right away. She didn’t cry when she got bit by the dog but cried when I came to get her because she wanted to stay. (What a little weirdo.)

After the appointment we stopped by the school so that I could make sure everything was set for the sub for the rest of my classes. When we walked in everyone crowded around her with concerned looks on their faces. At first Penelope was confused as to why they were coddling her. When they asked her how she was she simply said, “Good.”

Then she figured out what they are fussing over and when they asked her she would say, “Not good! I got bit by a dog!”

When they asked if it was a big dog or a little dog it started off as a little dog and then she got into the art of exaggeration, “It was a big dog!”

Before I knew it she was making announcements in the hallway, “I got bit by a DOG!”

And of course they gave her all of the attention she was craving, she roamed the halls giving fist bumps and high fives. After her moment of celebrity she insisted that I take her to the “worm factory” to make her dog bite better. The “worm factory” is actually a burger joint that serves ice cream with gummy worms in it.

So that’s what we did.

11075211_10206110757068760_5758999144023780802_o

… and I helped myself to a burger and fries too.

Yes, I was eating my feelings. Because lets face it, this dog bite was more traumatic for me than it was for her.

The silver lining was that we got a head start on our Spring Break! Spring Break is my dress rehearsal for summer.

SUMMER!

The next morning we started our break off with the cutest birthday party ever. Penelope’s best buddy Lucy turned three and had a Curious George themed party. Seriously… Cutest. Thing. Ever.

It was everything you envision when you decide you want to have kids. I just love this age!

10675704_10206110820270340_2352501259650758395_n   11053833_10206110823230414_146712739601637643_n

10557363_10206110820630349_3081502856483218940_n   11048769_10206110827630524_7942341084851607689_n

Later that after noon it was time to celebrate Lucy’s mom’s birthday. Andrea had Lucy two days before her own birthday and decided this year to treat herself to a spa day. She invited me to come along. I couldn’t justify an entire spa day but I did offer to pop by for a pedicure and provide some company.

11081306_10206110853391168_6152358835118143146_n

Andrea was still getting her facial when I arrived at the fancy shmancy hotel. So what did I do? I found happy hour in the adjacent bar of course!

It was the perfect way to kick off Spring Break. Andrea and I giggled and talked in the dark ambient light. Then I left her to enjoy her hair treatment and makeover while I went home and played in the yard with my kids.

For me, perfectly painted pink toes in green grass is a true sign of good things to come. Sure enough, as we dug around in the garden clearing the way for the new season we found a little surprise.

11069357_10206110911472620_4760744773738333462_n

A little head of lettuce that somehow rebirthed itself from last year’s crop!

It’s just the beginning of good things to come. We have exciting plans make for the week ahead… family coming to town, kites to fly, picnics to be had, frolicking to be done. You know… the usual.

So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go ahead and get started on that :)

Something Clicked

I’m back guys!

True story…

I don’t know what happened, one minute I was dying a slow death, zombie walking my way through the work week, and the next thing I knew it was Friday. When I woke up that day my cold/flu was gone and the sun was shining.

I came home from work to a sparkling house, dinner on the table and a bouquet of flowers…

10441073_10206052347488557_259629139328187383_n  11074484_10206065755063738_1001642857268143925_n

Best. Husband. Ever.

Brent was heading back to the mountains the next day and was trying to boost me up since I had been feeling so crappy.

The next day I couldn’t help but take advantage of my new-found health and the weather. So, first thing in the morning the girls and I went on our first hike of the season.

11069907_10206065537818307_2030775392443714005_n 11054323_10206065527898059_4861114520761377550_n    10168129_10206065524017962_5949494085131506812_n 11050712_10206065832785681_4690852220278854975_o

The melting snow was rushing down the mountain in rivulets and streams. It was the sound of Spring making it’s arrival known. In just a few months we’ll be sticking our toes in the water to cool off.

The hike took two hours but we still hadn’t had our fill of fresh air. So, when we got back home we continued to play outside. I ended up prodding through my dilapidated garden only to find that some of my flowers and herbs are already trying to make their appearance.

1901404_10206065997589801_4701262055206977125_n

Oh yeah… and the weeds too.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pulling weeds and clearing out last year’s dead stuff while my little gardening partner kept the lady bugs and worms entertained.

“Oh! They love me!”

11071501_10206065500617377_6325880175552876891_n 11032266_10206065505857508_333304995220575125_n 10574492_10206065521097889_219546893978161836_n 10471238_10206065517377796_4662364863221571858_n

We were both filthy and exhausted by the time we were done.

That was supposed to be our day of relaxation since we were booked solid the next day…

We had Bridget’s swim meet to attend,

11073556_10206065493457198_1457747471518517945_n 11061333_10206065490897134_8500314324083073719_n

and Brent’s St. Baldrick’s fundraiser to go to.

11036303_10206066108992586_8601958037942361885_n 11038482_10206066110912634_917547865010556111_n

I don’t know what it is but this spring weather has really kicked my motivation into gear. I just want to spend every moment I can playing outside and all I want to do is eat fruit and vegetables out of my garden.  Spring break is only a week away and before I know it it will be Summer.

In my first year of teaching I have managed to snag another higher paying job for next year. But I’ve also managed to lose all of my muscle mass. I’ve been pinching the skin where my biceps used to be and I kind of want to cry when I look at the lumpy skin where my quads used to shine.

I’m feeling really antsy for that time of year when I can read books for fun and run when the sun rises. In the mean time, I’ve really kicked my diet into gear. When I weighed in this morning I weighed in at 198.2 four pounds lower than last week and 13.2 pounds lighter than my first weigh-in after Christmas.

 I’ve decided that I am going to lose at least twenty pounds by the time school lets out at the end of May, and an additional 10 pounds for the fourth of July.

I need that internal competitive process in my life right now. It always feels exciting knowing that you are challenging yourself. I love the feeling you get when you see the changes happening before your eyes.

 I hate this about me, but I’m more of an all or nothing kind of gal. I’m either all the way in or I’m half-assing it. Frankly, I’ve just gotten really bored with where I’m at so it’s time to make a change.

Something just clicked for me this week. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe I was just sick of being sick. But for some reason I woke up one day feeling more motivated than I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve got that gut feeling, the one you get when you feel like a fire has been lit from the inside. I know that feeling well, it’s the feeling I get when I’m about to conquer something. It’s not something that I can fake or summon, it’s just something that comes around every now and then like a wave. It will eventually ebb away so I have to grab onto it and take advantage of it while it’s here. And that’s what I intend to do.

11049543_10206068068801580_1339241514397302843_o

And I Wake Up

It’s warm out and I’m running… finally, after months and months of being trapped in doors, I’m free to run. The breeze is cool against the sweat beading up on my skin.

I don’t have to go to work and I’m not weighed down by my parental obligations. I’m just running. My legs feel powerful and capable. My steady breath falls into a perfect rhythm with my stride.

Then my lungs start to burn and my breath becomes labored. The breeze is gone and the heat radiating from my body is trapped.  I’m burning up from the inside out. I try to clear my throat and start to cough. I cough and cough with no relief until I start to gag. The burning in my chest pulsates through my throat and down my upper back. Each time I cough my head throbs.

And I wake up.

I’m currently sitting in my chair drinking coffee in an attempt to gain enough energy to go buy some medicine to relieve the phlegm that is stuck in my chest. I’m listening to Penelope ping pong back and forth from one end of the room to the other, pushing an obnoxious toy along the way. Spring has decided to stop by for a few days prompting that stupid wood pecker. The confused one, who insists on doing his mating call on my metal chimney instead of the tree in my front yard.

I think of all of the violent things I could do that wood pecker to get him to shut up.

It’s beautiful outside… and I hate my life.

11034323_10206015500047394_1099954351667894992_o

(Sick selfie… keepin’ it real.)

I weighed myself for my obligatory weigh-in post to discover that I have some how managed to gain 3 pounds this week. I’m pretty sure all of that weight can be found in my puffy face…

It all began last Sunday when Penelope came down with a fever and a cough. It was Brent’s last day home before heading up to the mountains for work and it was my turn to call in to work for sick duty. I spent four hours putting together my sub plans to ensure that everything went smoothly in my classes while I was gone.

The first day was glorious. It was cold outside so we snuggled reading books, coloring and watching movies.

11046958_10205970240795941_858871007726306497_n  10404425_10206015627250574_3152854739219574903_n

I got all of the laundry done in the house and managed to make healthy meals to eat throughout the week. I felt so productive and I was grateful for the time I was getting to spend with my little one.

11060299_10206015540408403_5615135004914740681_n

By the time Brent made it home on Wednesday and I was ready to go back to work I had caught the cold/flu. I toughed it out for the rest of the week thinking I would be on the mend by the weekend’s end.

I was wrong…

When Saturday rolled around our frozen tundra was being washed away by a wave of spring like weather. I felt like crap but the girls and I couldn’t help it we had to go outside and play!

10994057_10206009369734140_8842058471790967310_n

Penelope ran…

10431559_10206015684372002_5416038439833648332_n

and ran…

10999566_10206015688692110_6310971023141296344_n

…until she couldn’t anymore. She was still just too sick.

10978555_10206015734653259_5576254192497957931_n

The nice weather is mocking us. We wait weeks for the sun to melt the snow, and when it finally arrives we are too sick to enjoy it.

I can’t call in sick to work tomorrow because I have to administer a standardized test. This entails staring at children for hours on end while they blankly stare at computer screens. It is my job to walk around the room, I can’t assist them, but I must lurk around them in a way that doesn’t make my shoes squeak or my ankles pop. I usually end up imagining what kind of animal they would be based on their appearance. A tiger… a koala bear?

It’s important stuff.

Since I work at two schools testing really screws up my schedule, so finding a sub is pretty much impossible.

c8e554e229b822a68bfedf2b7d69ce65

I’m just going to have to tough it out, trying not to distract my testing students by gag coughing or wheezing. My salary schedule depends upon it after all… even if they refuse to answer the questions and opt to write the lyrics to the My Little Pony theme song instead. Not that I would be able to say anything if they did, but I would have done my job by walking 118 laps around the classroom staring at my students and determining what kind of old people they would each be in the nursing home one day.

                                                                            A.

old-lady-splits

                                                                    B.

grumpy-old-men

                                                                                C.

oldladybird-1-jpg

In the mean time, I’ll fantasize about feeling well enough to go on a nice long run on a beautiful sunny day.

Go Broke, Eat Mutant Animals, Or Get A Divorce

Happy morning/afternoon to you from this frozen tundra…

10409041_10205946334438297_8425050957254010938_n(1)

I was driving to work yesterday during the greyest of days when I saw the sun trying it’s darndest to shine through the clouds. What resulted was an angelic looking orange orb floating in the sky. It only lasted for a moment before I was left submerged in the grey again. Luckily, I was crazy enough to stop mid-drive and capture the moment.

It was worth it, frozen nostrils and all.

I’m tempted to say that I’m over winter, but I’m actually not sure if this is true or not. I actually think I would be more bummed out if the weather were beautiful and I were trapped in daily grind of work and missing it all. In the meantime I am perfectly fine with cuddling up under blankets and drinking red wine warm tea when I get home from work.

That being said, I am super excited about the prospect of summer. I can’t wait for the summer dresses, outdoor concerts, green grass, butterfly catching, bike riding and hiking to come. I’ve already got big plans for my garden this year, including this flower chandelier

0acbb7a9a3662fbf2ddfc0355073d2e4

Just kidding… I wouldn’t actually make that.  But it’s always fun to pretend like you are handier than you really are.

In anticipation for summer I keep finding myself wanting to put pressure on myself to just hurry up and drop any additional weight that I might be carrying. The fifteen year old in me just wants to look good in a bathing suit when the end of May arrives. I tend to forget that it doesn’t matter what I look like in a bathing suit, nothing gets in the way of my summer fun.

The whimsical, go-with-the-flow side of me simply wants to enjoy the process of being healthy, because I tend to feel my best when I am eating wholesome foods and working out. This side of me kind of just wants to just go with it without dead lines and see what happens.

There is a battle of personalities going on in my head right now and I’m not sure which one is winning. (We’ll just ignore the implication that this means I’m crazy.) Then I’ll step on the scale to discover that no weight has been lost over the span of a week. I weighed in at exactly the same place as last week 199.2. A part of me thinks I should find some sort of motivation to move along a little faster and another part of me thinks, “Ah…Who cares?”

I don’t know if this shows lack of motivation or the conscious effort to not get crazy over a number on the scale. A part of me just kind of wants to enjoy the simple things and not create deadlines and problems where they don’t exist. Today is a good example of this.

I simply had the best time just hanging out with Penelope and Bridget at the book store located where the farmer’s market takes place. The famer’s market had been packed away for the winter but we still hang out in that area and pine over the day when we get to taste freshly roasted nuts and smell flowers and peaches.

Usually when I am at the book store I have an agenda. I will want to scout around for new books to read or catch up on my gossip magazine reading. But on this day, instead of being the dictator of activities, I just kind of went along with whatever Penelope wanted to explore. We spent hours playing with various toys and looking at books. Then we went outside and examined the ice, trying to slide on it or smash it…

We walked into a near by toy store and both had so much fun playing with the trinkets! Her laugh was so loud and contagious the people standing near by couldn’t help but join in.

It was nice to forget about deadlines from work and just play. The week is usually filled with me trying to rush the kids so that we can make it to one activity or another. Having a fun agenda free day today really made me look forward to the days of summer when we can stomp in puddles, fly kites and examine bugs.

There is something to be said for living vicariously through your kids.

2f1cd7ec9365b964e4c243ef16b02805

When we got home this afternoon Penelope passed out for her first nap in months. I’ve taken the time to search for healthy food recipes and plan out my workouts for the upcoming week.

I’ve really been struggling with what to make for dinner these days. When Brent is gone Bridget will complain if I have healthy dinner plans and Penelope doesn’t eat anything but peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I’ve gotten super paranoid about the quality of meat that we get here in the U.S. and I toyed with only buying organic and grassfed/free range products. Then I discovered that my food budget had mysteriously vanished after a few shopping trips. It’s just too expensive.

I thought that we could cut back on meat to make it more affordable but Brent didn’t agree. He posted this on my facebook page shortly after our discussion about it.

“Just something to think about the next time you want to suggest we go vegetarian.”

1513678_653123324814413_8706543560130798919_n

So, now I am left with the dilemma of whether to go broke, eat mutant animals or get a divorce.

While I ponder upon that you can check out the recipes that I have decided to make this week, which may be a combination of the three depending on my cooking skills…

Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Ginger Garlic Sauce

66400eb7ff9e834d314ced0289ab1989

One Pan Mushroom and Kale Garlic Herb Quinoa

b2373630efc9eca9d1e56caafe6a5702

Quinoa Black Bean, Avocado, Chicken Bowl with Harissa Vinaigrette

87b86f291ad90147756f14574565b30b

Inner Goddess Raspberry Breakfast Bowls

5e2635f825f4780169a38630e698b080

Butternut Tabbouleh

2d9c1a714b5fd2b878faa6aca1997770

Spiralized Shanghai Beef and Broccoli

Spiralized Shanghai Beef and Broccoli

Spaghetti Marinara with Poached Egg

spaghetti-6

This might be a good time to let you all know that I have changed my weigh-in posting day from Friday to Sunday. This will give me the weekend to not only put my thoughts together but to write a decent blog post. Hope you have a great rest of your weekend!