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.

Worth It

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It’s over… my time at home has come to an end and now I have to go back to work. And surprisingly, I’m okay with that.

When I first started this blog I was a stay at home mom looking for an outlet. I felt a lot of guilt for not being one hundred percent content with staying home with my kids. After all, it had been a suburban dream come true to have the opportunity to do that.

This is my first year back to work since having my youngest and I’ve learned that I actually enjoy going to work. I like being somebody other than Mom. I like wearing different hats and exploring the parts of me that have nothing to do with the kids that I’ve given birth to. I find fulfillment in it and I no longer feel guilty about it.

That being said, I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with my kids this week. It will fuel me through the next few months as I teach my way through the rest of the school year and into summer. Then I’ll be able to go back to frolicking in sun with my kids and soaking up all of the quality time with them that I can until they start to get on my nerves again.  Then, magically, it will be time to go back to work.

It’s all about balance my friends.

In the mean time, I’ll bask in the joy that I’ve felt the past few days. I’ll file it away into my memory bank to be retrieved when I’m old and in the mood to reminisce about the good ol’ days. It’ll be filed under “that one spring break when I managed to actually cram everything in that I actually wanted to do and didn’t feel one bit of stress during the process”.

So here it is, a list of things that we did for the remainder of spring break…

1.) Play dates that included backyard romps, iced tea with lemon and mint along with some garden planning.

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2.) Post weed pulling picnics that included strawberries, sugar snap peas and green smoothies.

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3.) A picture book inspired trip to The Butterfly Pavillion so that we could be just like Fancy Nancy!

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Even if being surrounded by a million butterflies turned out to be less glamorous that we initially thought…

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“Ahhhh!!!”

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“Whyyyyy?!?!”

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(She didn’t mind touching the creepy crawlies as long as they didn’t touch her.)

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“This place is wack… but kind of awesome.”

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She ended up talking about it non-stop when we got home :)

4.) A trip to The Denver Zoo…

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…with smoothies provided by our friends.

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We heart smoothies! And cars that are big enough to tote our friends around in.

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I also heart leg hugs from sleepy toddlers. (Please stop growing:( )

I think Penelope’s favorite part was probably the carousel…

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even if she had a hitchhiker ride along with her.

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“Hey… so uh, do you think I can catch a ride?”

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“Well… only because you are my best friend’s little brother.”

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“This is awesome!!!”

5.) Long Runs with Sir Scout…

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I mean long hobbles… Scout and I both seriously need to get in shape before bathing suit season and he is long overdue for a good waxing.

6.) A mommy play date that included red wine, tapas… 

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and Flamenco dancing!

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And a friend who is probably currently nursing a hang over.

Yep, I would say it was a pretty great break.

Now, it’s time for me to gather all of the papers I didn’t grade and pack them up for my return to work tomorrow. I’ll go back feeling rejuvenated. It’s good to hit a restart button every now and then, get out of the funk that you were in. Who knows, maybe I’ll even ride my bike to school in order to keep in the spirit of things.

Oh! I almost forgot! I managed to lose two pounds this week too, but that was before the red wine and tapas. Worth it.

Patchouli and Herbs- Spring Break Edition

Oh the joys of not working…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)