Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Midweek Randoms

I'm apologizing in advance. Somehow this post has a zillion photos of me and hardly any of my husband. Part of that is that I just tend to take selfies with the kids, and the other reason is that he never uploads his phone photos to the computer. So you have been warned.

We have had a fun but busy week, which is good because next week is Spring Break and I have all sorts of fun, non-busy stuff planned. 

Hubby was working last week until very late, so I took the kids to Target and let them pick out a movie. They settled on Night at the Museum Secret of the Tomb and we watched with popcorn on the couch!
 Isabella is by far the only kid in my house with the patience for Reese. Reese has so much energy and crawls and jumps all over the kids. The boys jump and get her all riled up, but Isabella will sit and just cuddle her in her arms.
 Last week, I got my hair done. It doesn't matter if it's 9pm at night and I'm going home to bed, or 8am in the morning and I have the whole day ahead of me - my hairdresser always styles my hair to the nines. She ends our sessions with, "Now let's make your hair so hot your husband won't want to keep his hands off you!" I may have been wearing workout clothes, but I had red-carpet hair. As a Mama to small children, it's nice to feel pampered and beautiful. I am so appreciative of the extra time she spends on my hair and, without giving too much detail, my husband usually can't keep his hands off me afterwards.
 My littlest handsome boy is just the sweetest thing. This particular day last week, below, he was desperate to show me his art work and wanted me to photograph it. Afterwards, he wanted a photo with me. Swoon!
On Friday, I got an unexpected blogging check and so hubby suggested we go out for sushi on Saturday night after the kids were in bed to celebrate. Ummm. You do NOT need to ask me twice. We watched The Best of Me and drank beer - my definition of a perfect date night: sushi, beer, and the couch with my cutie. (P.S. I've decided I'm boycotting all movies made based on Nicolas Sparks books. I should just assume they will all end in heartbreak and then maybe I can survive them. Hubby thinks I am certifiably insane because I'll see a plot point coming and still cry like a little baby for 15 minutes in the movie. What can I say? Empathy and sympathy just radiate from my pores). At least I got a date night with my husband.
My hair dresser let me borrow a book of braids. I haven't done french braids in 15 years, so I've had fun practicing! I'm thankful for Isabella who will just sit and let me do whatever I want to her hair. Which is good because I cannot for the life of me do a dutch braid. Grrr. 
After taking a couple week hiatus on mason jar salad lunches, I am back to them. This one is my chicken, Greek salad. I make enough for hubby and me on Sunday's, so that I can prep once and have enough food for the week. Easy peasy.
 I wrote the following on instagram (with the photo below): This has been a really hard parenting week. REALLLLLLLY hard. One in which I'm left scratching my head, wondering what on earth I've done terribly wrong. Lots of fights, a thousand time outs, Mama yelling, tattle telling, tantrums, and a million times I've asked myself, "is anyone listening to me at ALL?!?" And then, tonight, I put all three in the tub. Connor offered to braid sissy's hair (which is code for twist it) to "make you pretty, Izzy" and Isabella compliments Aiden on what a good helper he's being. And for a tiny moment, I am reminded that we're doing a few things right."

When I posted it, I got flooded with a bunch of "Oh goodness. I hear you Mama!" comments and it made me realize how good it felt to be in a community of Mommies. Sometimes it is a game changer to hear that other people's kids are fighting and throwing tantrums, because I know I'm not alone. There's nothing worse than feeling like I'm on an island all alone, with everyone else's perfect children. So, thank you for that. When you see a Mama with a kid who is throwing a tantrum in a store, remember to smile at her and tell her you're there with her...or that she's got this. She's rocking it. Because I can't tell you what a better Mommy I was after reading everyone's comments. It was the breath of fresh air that I needed. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Granola Recipe

I started making my own granola several months ago, when I realized that as a family of five we were eating A LOT of it in our yogurt. I used to buy a delicious kind that had all sorts of preservatives, flour, food coloring, and double the amount of sugar. While I am not necessarily anti these ingredients, I figured why not make my own and avoid those, if I could? So I googled up a storm and found several recipes and made each of them one at a time, for my four little taste testers. After a few experiments, I settled on an amalgam of all the recipes. When I posted a photo on my instagram, I had several people who asked me for the recipe. So without further ado, here it is! I hope you like it as much as we do! I double this recipe (and adjust my cooking time), so that it lasts my family of five several weeks.

3 cups quick oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons oil (use what you like: coconut oil, vegetable, olive)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Optional: Dried Fruit

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Stir together oats, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
3. Combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla, vegetable oil, almond extract, and honey.  Stir completely.*
4. Combine all ingredients in a greased baking sheet and cook for 1.5 hours (more or less depending on your oven). Rotate pans and mix granola every 30 minutes for even browning. 
5. Let the mixture cool before storing in an air-tight container.

**TIP: I don't like to mix honey when it's cold, because it takes a lot of work (and I'm lazy!). So I like to combine my wet ingredients (with the brown sugar) in a saucepan and heat them up for a few minutes. The honey, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract becomes an easy-to-pour liquid that mixes into the granola REALLY easily. If you feel like it's still too thick, you can add a tablespoon of water to the mixture. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shamrock'n Half Marathon 2015

This past Sunday, I ran in my FOURTH half marathon. I am in the process of putting together a post with advice for people who want to start running (one of the biggest questions I get emailed is "How do I start?" or "How do you find the time?" so I want to get that for all you!). But I wanted to do a Race Recap. I actually did this race last year, so it's kind of fun to look at how much I've progressed from exactly one year ago.

I always lay my stuff out a few days beforehand, because it gives me a few days to look at everything and figure out what I'm missing.

 This was the first time I was able to wear my Moms Run This Town Shoe Charm. I just love it!
We got to the race before 7am because we were doing a big group photo before all the different waves started running. The sky was breathtaking.
 I was pretty darn excited to get going!
 Not everyone was able to make it into our running group photo, but this is my running group. I just adore this running community.
And here's my little group that all started together. We ran together until about mile 7 and then started to split off into littler groups. 
 You should have seen the man behind us as we were staging this shoe photo (moving girls around to make it the best aesthetically). Ha. Is it not normal to stage shoe photos?!?
For this race, I increased my intervals by a minute, so I was running 4 minute intervals (I think it's always fun to calculate my running time, because I used to think I just couldn't run! For this race, my total running time was 2 hours 8 minutes). Hubby snapped a few photos of me on the big screen in Raley Field. I know it's hard to see in this one, but there I am up there. 
Here's a closeup view of me on that scoreboard crossing the finish line. 
 And here I was running past Mr. Howard in the stadium seating.
Here was my official time! 2 hours 41 minutes 25 seconds. My goal was under 2:45, so I met it! This was a PR by 6 minutes and 33 seconds!
Connor came to watch me and he wasn't too thrilled. I asked him if he had fun watching Mama race and he asked me when we were going to lunch. Hmm. I will take that as a no. 
He was slightly more thrilled about the idea of getting to wear my medal. I'm pretty sure that's the only reason he's smiling in this photo. 
The most exciting part of this race is that it filled up all the pegs on my race medal and bib holder. Who would have thought when I started racing a year ago, I would have loved it this much? Definitely not me. 
Here's a recap of all the half marathons I've done so far. The 2nd and 4th were the same half, exactly one year apart. It's fun to see how much I've grown!
  • Oct 13, 2013 - 1st Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 1 minute - 3:05:59
  • Mar. 16, 2014 - 2nd Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 2 minutes - 3:01:37
  • Oct. 17, 2014 - 3rd Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 3 minutes - 2:47:58
  • Mar. 15, 2015 - 4th Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 4 minutes - 2:41:25

Friday, March 13, 2015

Midweek Randoms

I so meant to post this on Wednesday. Midweek can technically be defined as Friday night. Right?!?

I mentioned, in my last post, Why Didn't Anyone Warn Me, what we've really been up to. But here's a recap on how we've spent the rest of our days.

Isabella is definitely the most smitten, of the kids, with Reese. She just sits and cuddles with her any chance she can get. 
Reese is almost too big to be a lap rider. I know it's cliche, but how did that happen? She has doubled in size and isn't stopping any time soon.
This weekend we broke out the bounce house for the first time this season. It seemed fitting, considering the change in weather (it's already 75 degrees here! Yikes!). People in the north probably need to break these things out when it starts to snow, but here in California, we usually use ours for days when it's too warm to go outside (100 degree days). Of course, we also use them on days when we have too much energy and a certain few littles are driving their parents insane. That's obviously not the case here...just an example of a time I might use one.
Folks. I know some day I will so miss the days of 5am cuddling with these adorable cuties. But today is not that day. I'm exhausted. And, can we just talk about how that handsome hubby of mine can just sleep through it? What is up with that? He's killing me.
I was supposed to have my teacher observation earlier in the year, but my principal had a family emergency. So we had to reschedule. The new observation was scheduled for a time when my students were working on their wax museum projects, so I came up with a station activity they could do. There are some tweaks I'll need to do next year, but on short notice I felt like it went well.
In a few days I will be running my fourth half marathon. I have not trained like I should have, but I have done a few things I hadn't ever done before with my Mama running group- like hill repeats and big huge hills. This sunset photo was a night we did a big hill:
I am in love with this new dinner I made last week! It's just quinoa, cherry tomatoes, greek olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, lemon, and a bit of EVOO. Easy peasy and delicious. Even Mr. Howard liked it.
Last week was rough. Every year around this time, I pretty much just count down the weeks to the end of the year. It's just hard to keep kids engaged when the weather turns and their hormones start to get all crazy. Ha! We just survive. And I need lots of wine to get me through. Hubby and I had a date night after the kids went to bed last Friday and watched the newest Hunger Games on DVD with wine and beer. I also made a delicious chicken that I highly recommend! It's chicken stuffed with fat-free ricotta, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and garlic). It's delicious and one of the easier meals I make (from start to finish, it's about 30 minutes) and it's the absolute perfect dinner for a date night.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why Didn't Anyone Warn Me?!?

I feel like a broken record. This whole parenting/working full-time/blogging business is crazy! Something has to give and lately it's been laundry and blogging - which is unfortunate because I need the outlet of writing...and my kids' clothes stink. Actually, it isn't the doing of the laundry that's the problem; it's the folding and hanging of it. Some day when I'm wealthy (haha! Darn I chose the wrong profession for that), I'm going to hire a full time laundry folder.

So where have I been, if it hasn't been updating this blog regularly and it hasn't been spent doing laundry? When I'm not working, or cooking, or sleeping, I've been a chauffeur and sports spectator.

My darling adorable boy is on his very first Tee Ball team and goodness-gracious folks. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE WARN ME? Seriously. You get so much advice when you're pregnant (unsolicited, might I add). You get so many warnings and "you should" and "don't ever" lists when you have a baby or toddler. But no one told me the time-suck that would be organized sports. Teeball is at least 2 days of games a week (usually at night during the work week) and then one or two practices a week on top of that. Lucky for us (or unlucky, depending on how you see it!), our oldest is very athletic. Four days a week doesn't seem like that big of a deal, until you think about all the other "stuff" we have to get done between the time I get off work and the time the kids go to bed. It's a bit insane, and definitely not for the faint of heart. And I only have one kid in organized sports! Holy Moly. What will happen if I have three?!? Yikes.

Organization is my middle name. Calendar appointment scheduling is a full-time hobby of mine. I kid, I kid. AND STILL, I'm overwhelmed. My hubby jokes that my motto in life is "Check the Calendar!" He no longer calls and says, "Do you want to go to a charity event on Sunday?" Instead he says, "I checked the calendar and..." I know I sound crazy - but with three kids, two working adults, three different school calendars, and lots of fun - if it's not in the calendar, it will not be remembered. Period.
The photo below, on the top right, of Isabella waving has the sweetest story to go along with it. She was really excited that her brother was in his Baseball Parade. She was waving and shouting, "That's my brother!!" to anyone who would listen. Be still, my heart. I love sibling love. When it's good, it's good (and when it's bad, it's bad! This past weekend I had to institute an "ABSOLUTELY NO TATTLING" rule...unless you are bleeding. And then it better be real blood. It is ridiculous because I remember my parents saying similar things and thinking they were crazy. Legitimately Insane. And I am.). The topic of tattling could be an entirely different "Why didn't anyone warn me" post of its own. Right? Ha!
The reality is that had someone warned me, about the tattling or baseball, I probably wouldn't have truly grasped it. Right? We never can really understand how crazy something is going to be until we jump head first into it and just experience it for ourselves. And how lucky am I that I have three littles on earth here to tattle tell? I don't take that experience for granted for a second. Whenever I'm feeling like it's been a horrible parenting day and I feel like such a failure because my kids are driving me insane, I stop and reflect that I'm so lucky I have kids to drive me up the wall. Everytime I feel like I can't possibly fit anything else into my schedule, I remember just how wonderful a problem it is that I have little ones here on earth who want to have their own activities. Having lost a child, I know it isn't a given that everyone gets to complain about these things. 

At the end of the day, I am still blessed. And sometimes it's important for me to remind myself how truly blessed I am. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

When your wife comes up with a crazy plan, you agree to it without question. Because you love her.

A few weeks ago, I had my February break off from school. Unlike almost all of my other breaks, this particular one I did not share with ANY of my kids. They all had school that week. I had planned on volunteering in Connor's classroom one or both of the two days the kids were in school, but Connor's teacher only had enough work for me to come one day - so I ended up with a Friday all to myself. And then, the miraculous happened. Hubby ended up working a 20 hour day earlier in the week. (I'm not even exaggerating. It was crazy!) Because of that craziness, he ended up taking Friday off that week, which meant we had an entire day without children...together. WHAT?!?

My husband is a good man. He knows that when his wife asks if he wants to go on a several mile hike, the answer is yes. Actually, let's be honest. Any question that starts with, "Baby, do you want to..." should be answered with a resounding YES, if you'd like her to be happy. Thankfully, after 14 years, my husband knows how to make himself happy and it involves agreeing to whatever crazy plan, his insane wife concocts.

We had to go to my sister's house to drop something off anyway, so it seemed only natural to go on a hike out by her house.

I found a new hiking trail that we hadn't ever done and we went exploring. It was Robbie Point Firebreak Trail. The thing we found online said it was a 5 mile there and back trail, but we only found a way to make it about three miles (and then it seemed the trail just ended). We probably would have kept exploring to try to figure it out, but it was lunch time and we were getting hungry.  Despite the low mileage, its elevation was a pretty good workout. It was about 550 feet! Reese was pretty tuckered out too!

After our hike, we went and had alcohol in the middle of the day! Ha! No, but really, we went out for lunch and didn't know what to do with ourselves. We finished our food in about 15 minutes and then tried to figure out what normal people, without three littles, do for the rest of the time? Seriously. It seemed like way too much time to sit in a restaurant. (We have mastered the fine art of taking kids to a restaurant...hurry and order...hurry and eat so that you can attend to small children sitting beside you...then hurry and pay before small children start fighting...and finally, hurry to the car before small children stage a small uprising).
 After lunch, we shopped at an adorable outdoor shopping plaza and then had gelato. We found the cutest clothes for the kids and went a little crazy. It was just so much more fun shopping alone. After that, we went and drove to a few more shops, and then went and picked up all the kids from school.
It was the perfect way to spend a day off. 

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