Archive | October, 2012

Needing Balance…figuratively AND literally!

29 Oct

I am living my dream!  I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children (ages 1, 3 & 6) and I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with them – it’s not easy, we sacrifice some of the things we would like in order to afford it, but it is what we want for our family.  I love knowing that I am able to make breakfast for them every morning, walk the oldest to and from school and I’m right there if they need me.  The trade-off with this is that I don’t always allow enough time for me.  I don’t get a lunch break, I don’t get breaks, I don’t have that alone time in the car driving to or from work.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining!  I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything!  However, I have recently come to the realization that I need to balance things better, to build that “me time” into my day.

I like order.  I like lists.  I like a plan.  I turned 39 this summer and my plan is to start my next decade in the best shape of my life.  I have always been active, I’ve never had a problem with my weight, but after three pregnancies, I can see a few places that could use some work.  I also don’t feel my fitness level is where it should be, just walking isn’t cutting it.  That was my plan, but this final year of my 30s is not starting out according to that plan.  After all of the craziness with having three kids at home with me all summer, I was looking forward to back-to-school and getting back into a health and fitness routine.  With back-to-school, comes creepy-crawly little germs and I ended up hacking for 6 weeks; I tried to convince myself that all the coughing was working out my abs!  It was tough just walking up the stairs, so my usual walks were out of the question.  Now that I have recovered from that, I was once again readying for my return to fitness and the other morning I woke up with vertigo.  COME ON!  I’m just getting ready to turn 40; my warranty can’t be expiring yet!  I am working with a doctor to treat the vertigo, but I realize that with each day that passes, it is one day lost in my plan to get in shape.  These set-backs weren’t written on a list or scheduled on the calendar!!  Don’t they know I need order?

I’ve been researching different fitness programs and have found one that really interests me.  I’ve already started following some of their eating recommendations and am really enjoying the recipes they provide.  I will post more after I begin the program.  I am looking forward to getting started and sharing my progress and results!

If you have any recommendations for how you successfully make time to focus on yourself, please share.  I’d love the input.

Quick Update on Juicing

23 Oct

I mentioned in a previous post that Luke had recently been inspired to start juicing.  The discussions we had following the documentary we watched, forced him to see that he really wasn’t making the best food choices when he was not at home.  In the past week and a half, he has taken the lead in doing all the juicing for us and even sent me this pic today, of what he is having with his chicken sandwich at lunch.

Veggies, almonds and cheese

He is not choosing to do a juice fast at this point, but starts each day with a glass of water with approx. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, followed by a cup of freshly juiced veggies and fruits (primarily veggies).  At the end of week 1, he is down 5 lbs, and has stopped drinking caffeine.

It is amazing how little changes can make such a big difference!  We have been keeping track of the juices we like, and will include them when Luke writes his first post about his experience with juicing.

Physical Therapy for the CHD Kid

20 Oct

For the past 25+ years, doctors have been honing the techniques that are saving the lives of children born with heart defects that are similar to my son’s.  The oldest person I know with his condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), is 27 years old.  In addition to being a wonderful inspiration to our family; allowing us to see all that these kids are capable of, our dear friend,  Jeni Busta, has also answered the many questions we have asked and has offered great advice for living well with this condition.  One of the things she recommended we do with Landon is to get him into physical therapy.  Many of these kids end up with back issues, flexibility issues and trouble with scar tissue.  As these kids live longer lives, it is necessary to not merely make sure their hearts keep beating, but also make sure to take a whole body approach.  While we do allow Landon treats and sweets, we have built a foundation for him with healthy eating.  We are ensuring that his physical strength and flexibility are addressed, as well.   I checked with Landon’s pediatrician and cardiologist and received the go-ahead and prescription necessary to receive physical therapy.

We found a wonderful Physical Therapist (DPT) at San Diego Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Center.  Dean works so well with Landon and really makes things fun for him, while keeping his attention during a one hour session.  Landon really looks forward to his PT sessions!  For him, it is a fun time, not just ANOTHER doctor’s appointment!  In the few months Landon has been receiving PT, I have really noticed his balance, jumping and strength have greatly improved.

I took a few photos of our latest session to provide an idea of the types of things they work on.

Scar Massage

Not all doctors think this method is necessary.  Our cardiologist didn’t seem to think there would be a benefit, but gave the OK for us to do it.  Landon’s scar does seem much less lumpy and thick than before.

Rolling the Fitness Ball

Stretching on the Fitness Ball

The first time Landon did this stretch on the fitness ball, it really showed that it was such a relief for him.  He was so relaxed!  The look on his face was priceless; he almost looked shocked that he was able to get such relief from a stretch.

Assisted Pull-ups

Over-hand and Under-hand Medicine Ball Throw

This is just a sample of what occurs during one of Landon’s PT sessions.

Considering that during Landon’s first 5 1/2 years of life, he cumulatively spent an entire year recovering from his five open-heart surgeries, pacemaker surgery and numerous heart caths, the benefits he is receiving from physical therapy are beyond measure!

*Our many thanks to Dean Makredes, DPT, for allowing us to publish our experience with him and for the wonderful care he provides Landon!

**DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way providing medical advice.  Before participating in any of the mentioned techniques, I would advise you to check with your physician, just as we did prior to starting our program.

Forgetting to Prep the Slow Cooker Items

16 Oct

Like many families, everyone is running in a million different directions all at once.  Our typical week contains homework, karate, swimming lessons, physical therapy, play dates, Sunday school and any number of other projects that come up.  Luke and I have been trying to simplify things by planning ahead and using the slow cooker, but on occasion, we don’t get the prep done in time.  What can I say, our meal planning is a work in progress.  We have, however, discovered a new weapon in the kitchen; a pressure cooker!  Ours is a 6 quart, that is similar to this one.

Fagor Cookware

While Luke had some experience using a pressure cooker before, I never have.  My mom just happened to give one to us over the summer when we were visiting her.  (She REALLY likes to buy things from QVC – I’m sure I will write about that another time!)

Let’s get back to the pressure cooker.  The other day Luke and I were planning to make a slow cooker recipe with beans.  We woke up that morning and realized that neither of us had soaked the beans.  I recommended that we soak them, then use the pressure cooker later on that evening.  It worked great!  Since then, we have steamed artichokes, made rice and last night we made Kalua Pork.  The artichokes were a pretty good size, and even kept whole, steamed in 6 minutes!  The Kalua Pork was WONDERFUL and super easy!  I’ll post the recipe in a bit.

Finally, this brings me to the rice.  Plain brown rice.  Every now and then, I will admit to resorting to the frozen, pre-made rice that we have found at Trader Joe’s.  I wondered, why can’t we just make our own rice and freeze it for those nights that we get behind schedule?  Since we are able to make quite a bit of rice in a 6 quart pressure cooker, we did just that!  We portioned it in Ziploc bags and now we are ready for nights we don’t have an hour to cook rice!

Frozen brown rice

The only thing I would do differently is to put the rice into the bags in a thinner layer, so they stack better in the freezer and you can loosen up the rice a bit prior to reheating.  Luke loaded the Ziplocs, and in an attempt to get all the air out, forced all of the rice to the bottom of the bag and the top few inches of the bag are folded over.  We’ll try the flatter way next time, but this still works.

Getting Our Health On!

14 Oct

Some friends recently watched the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and decided to start juicing.  I have always eaten healthy, and constantly preach about everything in moderation.  I do love the ABC (with spinach added) from Robeks, but don’t know that I could do a juice fast.  People who know me will tell you, I NEED food, and lots of it!  I realize that I have a fast metabolism, and I am fortunate for that, but I always do my best to make sure that I am making healthy food choices.  This is especially important to me since my son has a congenital heart defect (feel free to ask me anything about it) and has already had five open heart surgeries!  I need to build a good foundation for him to understand healthy living, which is why I always promote healthy eating and discuss food choices with him.  My husband and I watched the movie this weekend, and we are now the proud owners of a…

Breville Juice Fountain Plus

We purchased it with a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond!  Do I need to remind you how much I love a deal?!

While I don’t intend on putting the kids on a juice fast, I think they would benefit from the surge of nutrients they would get from a morning juice with their normal breakfast.  Additionally, I have been planning to add a “Dad’s Corner” section to this blog, so be on the lookout for posts from Luke as he learns to juice and incorporates more fruits and vegetable into his diet!

Here’s to healthy eating!!

Man, I LOVE a good deal!

12 Oct

I have been eyeing the poufs at West Elm, but the $249 price tag has been keeping me from making the purchase.  We have been holding off on getting another coffee table since we still have one little one mastering walking, and two others who would probably knock each other’s heads into the corner of a table.  And, let’s just be honest, those same kids are the reason I can’t bring myself to spend $249 on a pouf!  In the meantime, our current ottomans have seen better days and I really need to replace them.

West Elm Pouf

I usually try to resist the ads that run on the side of my Gmail or Facebook, but something caught my eye today.  I clicked it, and I’m so glad I did!!  If you have never heard of Joss and Main, it’s a site that sells discount, brand named home goods.  I was able to find bean bag ottomans for a fraction of the cost of the ones at West Elm!

My new Majestic ottoman purchased at Joss and Main!

Now I just have to be patient until they arrive…I CAN’T WAIT!  Did I mention how much I love a good deal?!

The Best of Intentions

9 Oct

Prep, clean, quiet, blah, blah, blah…

While I was downstairs getting things ready for our dinner tonight, a tornado was at work upstairs.  Introducing our beautiful, middle child…our tiny tornado!  THIS, is the reality of how our anniversary evening is starting.

Tiny tornado

Faith, Hope and Love

7 Oct

Three little words, that have proved to be HUGE in my family!  On Tuesday, I will celebrate eight wonderful years with the man I always dreamed of!  Our marriage started with these words, and continues to this day.  We have faced many challenges, but always manage to see our way through; leaning on each other, when just holding hands isn’t enough.

Of course, this post had to be a little more practical than merely an anniversary wish to my Love!  Since our anniversary falls on a Tuesday, which is also a school/work day and karate lessons for one of the littles – we had some serious prep to do this weekend!  We have been scouring the house, every few months I go through and purge clothes and toys that are outgrown or no longer used.  First grade homework has been completed a few days ahead of schedule and we’ve also been deciding which slow cooker recipe we will be cooking with the kids.  We will prep the recipe on Monday, so we just have to plug it in on Tuesday.  Karate nights tend to make us run a little late.  Since dinner will be cooking itself all day, we’ll be able to have dinner, get the kids to bed, then sit down (in a CLEAN house) for a low-key, quiet night.  We recently figured out how to set up our Wii to stream Netflix, so we are planning a movie night.

Let’s hope the kids cooperate and go to bed on time, because I am REALLY looking forward to just the two of us on the couch, with a glass of champagne, watching something that isn’t animated!

No big plans needed.  Just a simple night.  It is, afterall, Our Life with Kids!

In Their Tummies

1 Oct

I have been wanting to add a section for cooking with the kiddos, and have also been very intrigued by all of the prep your meals for a week/month/slow cooker recipes that have been posted around the internet.  Since the little-ones who will be cooking with me are 3 and 6, I don’t want anything too elaborate and think starting them with food prep for a slow cooker will be a great introduction.  Another consideration is that my 6-year-old has a congenital heart defect (CHD), so I don’t necessarily want to resort to old-school slow cooker recipes that seem to be higher in fat and salt.  I have been preaching healthy eating from the beginning; healthy fats versus unhealthy, not too much salt, not too much sugar, everything in moderation.  I was so excited today, when I learned that the American Heart Association had just released their latest version of their Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook!

I jumped right on Amazon and ordered a copy with my Amazon Prime membership!  Be on the lookout for our review of the recipes and track my progress cooking with the littles!

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