I Don’t Know What Happened…

Hi guys. I don’t know what happened…

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One day I’m at IKEA and the next thing I know… it’s a week later, my legs are speckled in paint and I have a deep desire to hunt down the previous owners of our house and give them a good talking to about their poor choice of paint colors. (Black trim and brown paint- it took me two solid days to paint over the black.)

I could not, would not stop until this project was finished!

It was an obsession really, but the results paid off. By the time Brent came home from work his man(ish) cave was ready after he put the furniture together himself. He finally had a nice place to sit back and watch his Cardinal’s baseball games. And then during commercials he could admire the Cardinal’s memorabilia he’s been waiting to hang up.

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You can take the boy out of St. Louis but you can’t take the St. Louis out of the boy, I guess.

I owed it to him after all because 1.) Father’s Day was coming up and 2.) He has stayed at home with the kids to let me hang out with my friends a lot lately.

Like that one time I got to go see Wicked!

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(I’m really just telling you about Wicked so that I can post this picture of me wearing lipstick.)

It’s a new discovery, lipstick. I never wear it, but Penelope got into my makeup bag and found the obnoxious lipstick I bought a few years back to compensate for my shortcomings as a woman. I never wore it because it was a bit over kill, but on this particular day when I had nowhere to go I decided to give it a whirl. (After I wiped it off of Penelope’s forehead, of course.)

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And I liked it… kind of.

Maybe I just needed the color after having chosen not to wear makeup for three days in a row. Having gone for so long without makeup meant that there was no mascara residue left over to indicate that my blonde eyelashes actually existed. One swipe of lipstick and a pair of sunglasses made it look like I had actually taken the time to fix up my face. I was impressed.

So I did what anyone does when they are overcome with vanity. I took a selfie. (And then kind of regretted it because it was so… well, vain.)

I was scheduled to see Wicked the next day but didn’t have anything fancy enough to wear to the event. I decided to overcompensate for this fact by accessorizing with a huge necklace and bright lips. It worked and I ended up having a blast that night!

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The day after Wicked was the IKEA day and then all time was lost. Three days and three buckets of paint later I was free to meet Brent in the mountains for the Frisco BBQ Festival.

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Brent’s fire department was participating in a cooking competition to raise funds for our friend, Jason, who just found out that he has cancer.

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Cancer is common among firefighters due to all of the toxins they encounter in fires, so a Presumptive Cancer Act has been passed to make sure the financial burden does not lie on the fire fighter. Jason, however, has a rare form of cancer that does not respond to chemo or radiation, nor does it fit into the CPFF Presumptive Cancer list. Therefore,  treatments aren’t covered and his family will ultimately have to cover the costs out of pocket.

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Jason is the shirtless guy…

(From a far it looks like he’s taking donations to fund his protein shake habit.)

He’s shirtless because a few ladies kindly offered to make a sizeable donation if he took his shirt off. Plus, he looks good without a shirt sooo he’s just doing us all a good favor. Brent is the union president for the fire department and has been racking his brain trying to come up with ways to raise funds for Jason and this cook off is just one of them.

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Plus, Brent’s super competitive and really just wanted to win.

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 (They got 2nd place. He doesn’t want to talk about it…)

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I jumped on board because this Texas girl will find any reason to head for the mountains. It’s always so beautiful!

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Besides, the girls love participating in the festivities.

The next day was Father’s Day and we surprised Brent with photos of the girls for his locker at work…

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And then I made him some of his favorite St. Louis style foods…

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Gooey Butter Cake, Rich and Charlie’s Salad and Toasted Ravioli

Luckily our air conditioner wasn’t working properly and I was too hot to eat too much of it. However, I did suck down the iced tea with a vengeance. After partaking in BBQ festivities and Gooey Butter Cake I decided to set my alarm on Monday morning to ensure I woke up for an early morning run.  It was time to get back on track!

It was then that I rediscovered why I love  early summer mornings so much…

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Hotair Balloons! (Ugh and black trim paired with brown paint…)

Summer Snackin’…

FYI: The title to this post is supposed to be sung to the following song…

Because it’s summer and lets face it… snacking is the same as loving, healthy or not.

Since school has let out I have relished in my freedom via making all of the home-made concoctions I didn’t have time to make during the school year. But once I actually made some of these things I realized that it didn’t really take any time at all and I hope to continue the trend throughout the school year. Because there is something just so satisfying about making home-made products that are healthier, cleaner and not to mention… cheaper.

(Take that you unseen corporate force… damn the man!)

Ahem…

Take for instance this easy home-made hummus

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(My husband is a die-hard Cardinals fan as you can see by the cutting board my sister made him. Therefore, it was only appropriate to serve this hummus with red bell peppers. GO CARDS!)

I had put off making hummus for a long time because I didn’t want to have to buy a ten dollar jar of tahini for something I wasn’t so sure would turn out. Then I stumbled upon a tahini free recipe (link above) and I fell in love. Ingredients include canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, olive oil and salt.

That’s it. So Good!

I served this when we had an impromptu deck party with some of my fellow teachers and once again when I rode my bike over to my friend’s house for an Outlander watching marathon… (You know, that one time I got called a goddess. No big deal.)

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Being the super host that she is my friend KJ was already prepared with snacks, so we had a feast that night. She even made a strawberry lemonade cocktail that went down like kool-aide. (Needless to say, the bike ride home was a bit interesting. But I digress…)

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In preparation for our festivities I had also managed to sneak over some of my home-made jalapeno yogurt ranch made from herbs in my garden. (Yay me!)

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I wasn’t able to bring much because Brent (the guy who can’t eat anything without a condiment) didn’t want to share. We actually served it with Avocado chicken burgers for dinner one night and it was seriously the yummiest meal. Ever. Brent has taken it a step further and has put it on everything… including eggs.

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(Don’t make fun of my scratched up plates.)

Things kind of turned for the worst nutrition wise the next night we went to one of Brent’s beloved baseball games. We managed to mow through nachos, beer, popcorn and even the saltiest pretzel known to man. But I didn’t let myself feel too bad, because well… when in Rome.

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I did however feel a little hung over the next morning when I woke at five to meet my friend Andrea for one of our morning walks. I don’t know what made be feel worse… the salt or the beer. (Or maybe even the fact that I had partaken in drinking shenanigans two nights in a row. But who’s counting?)

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By the end of the walk I felt so much better, even if I did get rained on and my hands were swollen.

When I got home I tried to sneak in through the back door so that I wouldn’t wake anyone up. On my way in, I passed the strawberry patch and noticed that a lot of my strawberries were already over due for picking, even though Penelope goes through the patch nearly every night.

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When all was said and done I had more strawberries than I knew what to do with so I decided to make jam.

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I don’t know what possessed me. It’s not like I had ever made jam before. But I had remembered stumbling upon a strawberry jam recipe that included chia seeds during the winter months when strawberries were super expensive to buy. I dug through my Pinterest account, passed all of the pins that I had never put to use, and finally found it…

Strawberry Chia Jam

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It turned out awesome! The smell of the simmering strawberries wafted up to Bridget’s room and woke her up from her slumber. She thought it smelled like cotton candy. Then later Brent came home from his walk with the dog and thought I had been toasting marshmallows over the stove again. (What can I say? It happens…)

Later that day, Brent had plans to watch the Cardinals game again, this time with some of his firefighter buddies, and Bridget had an important rendezvous at the pool. That left Penelope and I alone for lunch. I felt like it was only appropriate that we eat Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches…

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… and s’mores

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Because now that you mention it, toasted marshmallows do smell pretty tasty.

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It’s a work in progress, a little yin for the yang. As long as we keep moving this summer there’s nothing wrong with a little summer snackin’. Amiright?

(Don’t answer that…)

The Goddess of Spring and Summer

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Have you ever caught yourself sitting at the pool wondering when you went from being Ariel the little mermaid to Ursula the sea witch?

This thought crossed my mind the other day as I waded around the baby section of the swimming pool on my stomach following Penelope from splash activity to splash activity. The pool zeros in like a beach and at one point I remembered feeling like a beached whale when my belly hit the shallowest section of the pool. At that moment, the ties of my bathing suit floated and curled around my hands reminding me of an octopus. And then it hit me…

I’m Ursula.

Gone are the days of yesteryear when I would swim around the pool with my legs together half drowning, gulping down chlorinated water (and probably some other kid’s pee) in an attempt at dolphin kicking… excuse me, mermaid kicking my way from one end of the pool to the other. At this point I had already picked out what color my sea shell boobies were, and secretly wondered when I would have real boobies to fill out my sea shells. The color usually coordinated with my tail… which was sparkly.

I would always swim to the stairs at the pool where I could whip my wet hair out of my face like Ariel did only to find myself sputtering and sneezing out the water that was inevitably thrust up my nose in the attempt. I didn’t care if the other kids saw me gasping for air and wiping my hair out of my face… one day I would have that move mastered, and it would be awesome!

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(Update: Still haven’t mastered it, but not for a lack of trying.)

Fast forward a few years later…

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I have a toddler sized tan line sunburn line on my inner thighs and the stealth realization that I am no longer Ariel.

This whole thought process had probably been kicked into gear earlier that morning when I got suckered into watching a wrinkle cream infomercial. I’m turning 35 this summer and it has hit me that in a few months I will transition from my “early thirties” to my “late thirties”. I think an identity crisis is underway and it has begun with the loss of Ariel.

Later that day I had packed up my Frozen bag (borrowed from Penelope) with homemade hummus and watermelon in preparation for my bike ride through the neighborhood to my friend’s house for an Outlander watching marathon. My legs were burned to a crisp and my bare blonde eyelashes blinked through the wind as my flip flops peddled as fast as they could go… hair whipping wildly behind me.

Then out of nowhere I heard a voice calling out, “Oh Goddess of Spring and Summer… come hither, come hither!”

What the hell?

It was the weirdo that trains his show dogs in the park by my cul de sac. I had never seen him before, but sometimes I can hear him cheering his dogs on from my backyard. He was obviously trying to pay me a compliment, so I waved and smiled while I peddled all the faster.

But as I rounded the corner the smile on my face lingered…

He called me a goddess.

There wasn’t anything goddess like about my appearance while I peddled in my gym shorts and t-shirt. It must have been my overdue-for-a-haircut hair whipping in the wind behind me that beckoned him to call out.

Score for finally flinging your damp hair in an alluring way! (It took you 25 years…)

From this, a new frame of mind came about and a new age-appropriate idol was born…

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The Goddess of Spring and Summer!

The Path That Leads Me…

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Hi… Can we take a moment to be honest?

I’m fat. I write a weight loss blog and I’m fat. What a shame.

There is a lot of talking we could do about the matter OR we could move passed the self-deprecating thought process and simply get down to the business of enjoying life. Because let’s face it, I’m at my healthiest when I’m living life to the fullest, enjoying healthy food, playing outside and taking time to myself.

And what better time to do that than during summer when I’m granted 8 weeks of work free solitude?  (Well… “solitude” may be taking it a bit far.) My first week of summer has commenced, and so far I have embraced every aspect of summer that I love. And I’m loving every minute of it!

 My mornings have started out at 5:30 every… morning… thanks to my little human alarm clock.

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I’ve been making the mistake of staying up late at night since I don’t have to wake up to go to work. I always forget that Penelope doesn’t know that I’m on summer vacation, and I end up feeling like I have a hang over every morning. But once I’ve downed my iced coffee I’ll look out my window to see the hot air balloons on their early morning jaunt and I’m secretly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the sunrise.

At this point I’m ready to go for a sunrise walk or a bike ride. There is just something special about summer mornings. If you just so happen to wake up early enough, you’ll get to see everything when it’s still sprinkled with morning dew. Everything looks like it has been misted with magic when the early morning sun hits it. It’s beautiful.

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After that we get all cleaned up for the day and get ready to go do some stuff. After spending the past ten months busting my butt as a teacher I have been bound and determined not to let a day go wasted. I have done my research, I know the dates and times of every free activity that takes place in our area. My calendar is littered with the dates of every outdoor concert, storytime, and festival.

It has only been one week, but so far we have gone to the library…

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The pool…

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The museum…

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The Chalk Art Festival…

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To our favorite book store where Bridget bought an impromptu poem about music…

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… and we indulged in “lattes” in real cups and saucers.

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I’ve had the time to sit on my deck and meal plan while drinking a watermelon mocktails listening to the Beach Boys radio on Pandora…

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And I’ve actually had the time to follow through with my meal plans and eat healthy yummy food that makes my body feel good…

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Sure I was a bit bummed out at how flabby and pasty my skin had become throughout the school year. But I knew that if I spent time berating myself for it I would not do myself any favors. You can’t really live life to the fullest if you are too busy hating yourself. Therefore, I simply acknowledged it and moved on.

And to my surprise, in my first week of summer I managed to get a tan and shed five pounds.  It’s my goal for the summer to keep living day to day for the day, not taking anything for granted. Because that’s the path that leads me to where I want to go.

It’s here! It’s Really Here!

It’s here! It’s really, really here… Summer!

Last week Bridget and I took our last day of school photo to commemorate the occasion.

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(After we got into a fight over how short her last day of school shorts should be…. I won.)

I thought this day would never come. During Memorial Day weekend I ended up throwing my back out and was bed ridden, all dreams of frolicking in the sun were banished. I still had a week left of school to survive and I couldn’t even get off the toilet without screaming.

On that Saturday I had backed my car out of the garage to take Penelope for a bike ride. I had let her sit in the passenger seat for the ten foot journey because that’s a super awesome thing to do when you’re three. I tried to lower her out of my car while I was still seated and the next thing I knew both Penelope and I were on our hands and knees in the driveway. The twisting, lowering motion caused something in my lower back to shift and pop. I didn’t realize just how high up I was in my SUV and in one swift moment I ruined my life.

(Yes, that’s a bit melodramatic, but that was the thought that popped in my head as I watched an ant make its way toward my hand on the pavement, mocking me.)

I totally thought I was screwed for summer, but by Wednesday of my last week of school I felt just fine. (FALSE ALARM!) I was a little sore but I was walking normal, and I no longer looked like I was 98. And thankfully I didn’t have to endure grunting every time I moved in front of a room full of middle schoolers. At this point, I didn’t really have time to think about all of the things I was going to do when I was free for summer, I was still swept up in the hustle and bustle of ending the school year.  Summer still felt like a distant dream.

Then Friday came around and I found myself standing in my empty classroom with nothing left to do. For the first time in ten months I allowed myself to take a deep breath.

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I did it… I survived my first year of teaching!

It wasn’t until yesterday rolled around that it really hit me. It was Sunday and I didn’t have to scramble to get everything done in preparation of  the next week. It was true… I was free!

For the first time I actually took a long hard look at myself. My once taught legs are speckled with cellulite (a new development) and I’m soft, flabby and pale. I looked over at my kids and somehow they look older. Where have I been?

I’ve been so focused on surviving my first year of teaching I’m afraid that I’ve forgotten to live. So many things have gone neglected. Sure, I was a great teacher who took really good care of her students. But somewhere along the way I stopped taking care of myself and so many little moments with my kids and my husband have been missed.

It hit me, I have a lot of catching up to do.

So I did what any self-conscious, flabby, pale 30-something would do. I put on my bathing suit…

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…and I went outside to play!

(Notice I didn’t take a picture of me in my bathing suit. Ha!)

So far we’ve gone on bike rides…

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have been hunting for frogs…

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we’ve picked our first home grown strawberries…

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and of course we’ve been gardening…

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So far we’re off to a great start. I’ve resumed my healthy eating schedule. I’ve marked every fun festival and free activity on my calendar. I’ve planned outdoor movie nights at my house. And I’ve arranged a summer job for Bridget walking an elderly neighbor’s dog.

I can’t quite run yet due to my back but I’m on a mission to find my muscles and a sense of balance before we return to school in the fall.

In the mean time, I plan on getting reacquainted with the blog and myself in the process. You can expect two to three blog posts a week. Just like the old days 😉 But as for now… I need to put on some sunblock in preparation for a bike ride to my friend’s house for a coffee date.

Have a great day everyone!