Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Keeping Up With...Family (First Days of School!)

All good things must come to an end and that is how we feel about this past summer.  We had a blast, did everything we wanted to do, spent a ton of time together as a family and now we are ready for school.

The boys started back last week.  They have a staggered start in our school district so AJ started on Weds & went the rest of the week and Daniel started on Thurs and had the rest of the week off.  I was very emotional last week as we got ready to go, but I was also very excited for the boys.

On Monday we went to school to meet the teachers.  Daniel enjoyed seeing his classroom and reading notes from former students about his teacher.  He's most looking forward to his teacher making him laugh.  AJ was excited to see that he is in the same classroom as last year, just a different teacher.  He's most looking forward to recess everyday and playing Minecraft with new friends.

Daniel "signing in" to his new class
Wednesday arrived and everyone was up before their alarms.  We got ready, took some pictures and were off to school.  AJ said he had a great day.  He really likes his teacher, is happy he has two friends from last year in his class and had recess with another boy he just met who loves Minecraft.  He was upset he didn't have gym that day, but happy he had art.  All was remedied when he had gym on Fri.  His first week has gone great!  He is super excited to do homework this year since he has some reading and math to do on the computer.  I'm excited to see how much he learns in 2nd grade!
AJ - 2nd grader
Getting on the "bus"
Thursday it was Daniel's turn.  Again everyone was up before the alarms (side note - this hasn't happened since).  We got up, got ready and headed out.  I was really sad dropping Daniel off, but held it together until they got out of the car.  I don't know why it was so hard for me, it's only 2 more mornings than preschool last year.  And I've done this before!  Thankfully he was super excited and didn't see how upset I was.  He had a great first day and was bummed he had 3 days off before he went back to school (Mon morning).  He was only disappointed that his teacher didn't make him laugh, as promised by a student from last year.  I know he's going to have a great year!
Zak wanted in on the first day of school pictures
Daniel - K
 And then there was one...
Zak and I headed out to run some errands.  We went to Aldi & Walgreens together.  When we got back in the car after those two I said, "OK it's probably close to time to go get Dan."  Then I checked the clock, we had one hour and 45 minutes...and Daniel is only gone for two hours and 40 minutes.  :)  I guess it really is easier to run errands with one kid when you're used to two or three.

Hope everyone had a great start to their school year!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Keeping Up With...Family (Summer - Weeks 8 and 9)

After our exciting trip to Chicago, we took a little bit of time off to relax the next week.  We didn't have any of our schedule events - we missed bowling because of traveling, art class was on a break & swimming doesn't start until Sept.  We spent the whole week resting, relaxing and catching up on some stuff around the house.

We also had a lot of play dates that week.  One of Daniel's friends from preschool moved to Texas this summer and this was his last week in Ohio so we had him over to play one day.  We also had play dates with three other friends through the week.  They were all at our house which was nice because no one really wanted to be in the car.
Daniel & Jerek - we will miss him!
Last week was kind of our unofficial end of summer since everyone starts school this week.  We had big plans, but the weather didn't cooperate so we rolled with it and still had some fun.  Monday was the boys last day of bowling camp.  They ended up winning the league for the season!!  I'm so proud of how well they did this summer and how much they improved.
Tuesday was Daniel's first day back to art class.  Now that he is in kindergarten, he goes by himself.  He was a little nervous at first, but did great.  The whole class is kids who have kindergarten in the morning so it's a perfect fit for him!  We had planned to go to the park that day too, but rain changed our plan.  We also postponed our trip to the pool on Wednesday because it was only 70 degrees.  We spent Wednesday at home playing games and hanging out in the yard.

Thursday we finally went to the pool.  It was cold, but we still had a great time.  AJ and Daniel practiced swimming from side to side without touching the bottom of the pool.  The did great!  I'm so proud of them!  AJ wouldn't let go of the side 2 months ago, huge progress this summer.  They can't wait to go back to swim lessons in a few weeks!
Snacking & freezing at the pool
Friday we met a few friends at the splash pads at Easton.  Again, it was pretty cold, but we made the best of it.  The boys ran around in the water, looked at the trains and enjoyed bagels & frozen yogurt for lunch.  It was fun to hang with friends too.  Saturday Adrian took the big boys to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" with their free tickets from the summer reading program.  They all loved the movie.  Zak stayed home and hung out with me and a few friends.  His buddy Andrew came over too and they kept us all laughing.

All in all we've had a great summer!  I have mixed feelings about school starting this week.  Part of me wants to continue just having fun and being together.  But part of me is craving the routine and the time away from each other to make our time together that much sweeter.  The boys are excited to go back to school, especially since they each know at least one boy in their class this year.  Hope you have all had a great summer too!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 8/17 - 8/25)

We are busy getting the boys ready to go back to school this week so this is going to be short and sweet.  Meal planning will be essential to our survival as our fall calendar picks up.  We have a 2nd grader and a kindergartener and all the homework that comes along with that.  Plus Zak is playing soccer, Daniel is bowling and taking art lessons, and AJ is playing league hockey and bowling.  And all three boys will continue swim lessons.  And Adrian and I are both working.  Yikes!

The next few weeks are a little lighter schedule wise though so I'm going to enjoy it.  This menu plan is for a little over a week and it will be my last one for 3 weeks because we are going on vacation again.  After Monday, next week will be leftovers, clean out the fridge and freezer meals if needed.  Speaking of freezer meals, I had my workshop yesterday and I LOVED it!  I made 14 meals (plus more because at least 3 of those meals will yield lots of leftovers) in around 3 hours (one hour prep before, 2 hours at the workshop).  I'll talk more about it after I actually eat some of the meals, but here is what's in my freezer right now:
Here's what we're eating this week:
Monday, 8/18 -  Cajun Shrimp Casserole
Tuesday, 8/19 - Taco Tuesday!
Wednesday, 8/20 - Chicken with Creamed Corn (Relish recipe)
Thursday, 8/21 - Spicy Chicken Peanut Wraps (Relish recipe)
Friday, 8/22 - Baked Chicken, Rice & Black Beans (Relish recipe)
Saturday, 8/23 - Sausage Burrito Wraps (Relish recipe)

Sunday, 8/24 - Homemade pizza!
Monday, 8/25 - Honey Pecan Chicken (Relish recipe)

As always, I'm linking up with Laura at Mommy, Run Fast & Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness.  Go check them out for some more yummy recipes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Keeping Up With...Workouts (Break Time!)

I'm going to keep this pretty short.  I've been talking for a few weeks now about how I'm in a slump and can't really find my groove with eating right or working out.  I keep trying to reset myself, then failing, then beating myself up about it, then eating more, etc.  So I've made a decision, I'm taking a break.

What kind of a break?  I don't really know.  I'm not tracking what I eat right now.  I'm trying to eat healthy, but not worrying if I steal some Despicable Me graham crackers from the boys (yeah, those are delicious!)  I'm still menu planning and cooking healthy dinners, just not measuring out every thing.  I'm still teaching my six Zumba classes each week and occasionally subbing.  And I'm keeping up on my monthly strength challenges.  But that's about it.  I'm not really trying to get to any other classes or gym time.

I've decided to just enjoy my time with my boys and prep for the craziness that will ensue in the next few weeks.  The boys start school one week from today.  Then we leave for Florida two weeks from Friday.  There is A LOT to be done for both things.  Plus all of the boys fall sports are starting so we have a pretty busy schedule.  I'm using any time that would be at the gym getting ready for all of this.

What's next?  Again, I'm not sure.  I'll be thinking a lot about my goals for the last 4 months of the year as we drive back and forth from Florida.  We get back on a Monday and I normally weigh in on Wednesday so I will take that Tuesday to make a plan and figure things out.  Then get started on Wednesday Sept 10th.  It will probably be tracking again on My Fitness Pal and exercising a lot.  I need to spice it up and get at least 2 strength type classes each week.  I would also really like to add a spinning class to my schedule.  And I still have a Groupon for boot camp and one for barre classes.  And essential oils will be part of my plan, more on that soon.

I'm going to take a break from blogging about my workouts because honestly they are pretty boring right now, nothing but Zumba.  I'll keep doing my weekly menu plan blog and updates on the family, just not the workout post.  I'm also taking a break from my scale.  I did weigh in this morning and lost 2 lbs since last week.  I have no idea how that happened, but I'm happy about it.

I'm hoping this conscious break will be the kick start I need to get back to it fresh in Sept.  I think between this, some new classes and a schedule (yay for school!) I'll be good to go!  If not, that's OK too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Keeping Up With...Family (Week 7 - The Fair!)

This week was a weird mix of ordinary and amazing!  The week started with our normal summer things, bowling camp for the boys on Monday and art class for them on Tuesday.  Then Thursday we had to bowl again, to pre bowl because we would miss the following week and run a bunch of errands.  That was the normal party of the week.

Wednesday was one of the amazing days.  We went to the Ohio State Fair!  Every year Adrian takes a day off during fair week so we can all go together as a family.  We got there right when it opened this year, even before the rides were open.  AJ declared the order of the day was to see animals, ride rides, eat food and repeat.  Sounded good to me!

We started the day in the children's area, where there is a Lego display, games and stuff to play with from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and a few other demos to see.  It was fun to check that stuff out before the fair got too crowded.  When we finished in there we decided to head to the ride area to be the first in line.

We all got ride wrist bands and definitely got our money's worth from them.  We rode pretty much everything in kiddie land and a few of the bigger rides as well.  The boys had a great time running from ride to ride and Adrian and I got on whatever we could with them.  I think everyone's favorite was the Giant Slide.

Under the food category, we pretty much did it all.  We shared fries, fried Oreos, 2 funnel cakes, fried Buckeyes, hot dogs, sausages and pork on a stick.  It was fun to get a bunch of different things and share it all.  I ate a bunch but didn't feel like I was going to explode when we were leaving.  Much better than other years!

We didn't see many animals, but we did a few other areas we haven't done in past years.  We went thru the Ag building where the boys got to milk a cow, drive a tractor and see baby chicks.  We also walked thru the nature center while it rained in the middle of the day.  We saw some animals back there are were going to fish, but it wasn't open because of the storm coming thru.

It was a really fun day at the fair!  It was the first time in a few years that we went without a big group of extended family.  That was both good and bad in my opinion.  I missed having the family with us and having fun with all of them.  But it was nice to just have to keep ourselves together.  Hoping we'll have a big group again next year!

Here are some of the picture highlights from the day:
Tilt a Whirl Selfie
Tilt a Whirl Selfie
AJ milking the cow
Driving the tractor
Funnel cake!!
Happy guys on a ride
Fried Buckeyes - my favorite!!
The week ended with an amazing trip to Chicago which I recapped yesterday.  All in all another great week in the books!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Keeping Up With...Family (Chicago)

Last weekend we went on our second vacation of the summer, a quick long weekend trip to Chicago.  We left Friday afternoon after I taught and Adrian worked a half day.  We were pretty tired, but the ride went pretty well.  The boys travel pretty well, only Zak had a breakdown because he was so tired and didn't want to sleep.
Finally arriving!
By the time we got there and got settled Fri night, it was time for bed.  We got up early Saturday morning and headed to Six Flags Great America.  We were lucky to be able to stay with friends, Kenny & Christian and all of us are Six Flags season pass holders.  We got on the road a little later than we wanted and knew we were in trouble when we hit traffic on the highway to get into the park.

The park was beautiful and I really liked the themeing the layout.  However it was VERY crowded.  We did our best and rode as many rides as we possibly could.  We were very thankful for the parent swap, we both got to ride a few of the bigger coasters with the boys and they got to ride them twice in a row without waiting in line.  AJ and Daniel did their first upside down roller coaster and loved it!  And Zak got to ride his first (two) roller coasters.  So thankful all the boys like rides!!
Zak's first coaster, but first let me take a selfie!
In line for their first upside down ride
Sunday we decided to relax a little and Daniel and I slept in until almost 9:00.  This probably wasn't the right decision, but it was a nice one.  When we were finally ready, we headed out to go to the beach on Lake Michigan.  We couldn't find a parking spot anywhere!  We drove around for almost an hour before Adrian dropped off me, Daniel and Zak.  The three of us had a blast in the water while Adrian and AJ drove around more and finally found a spot.  AJ had fun hanging out with Dad and walking around to come find us.

After some time in the water and some rain we headed over to the harbor to meet up with Kenny and a few other friends to go out on Kenny's boat.  We had a blast out on the lake, then boating down the Chicago river.  It was so fun to see the city from that perspective.  And Kenny was extremely crazy brave and let all of the boys drive the boat.  It was a great day, even though we got some more rain while we were out there.

AJ & Daniel are ready to go!
Me & Adrian on the boat
We're on a boat!  With an adult beverage!
Daniel driving the boat
Captain AJ while Dad drives
Zak checking out Chicago
Monday morning was another early morning as Kenny and Christian had to head out to work and we wanted to hit the Lego Discovery Center before heading home.  We hit the road around 8:30 and got to the Lego Center around 9:15.  The website said it opened at 10, so we were just walking around wasting time until we noticed people were going inside.  We walked over and they told us they changed the hours that weekend and opened at 9:00.  Score!
The boys ready to play!
The Discovery Center was pretty cool, although I am very glad we had all the other things to do in Chicago for the weekend and didn't just drive up for this.  The boys enjoyed seeing all the models, building with the Legos and riding the rides.  We also did a factory tour and watched a 4D movie.  We were there for about 3 hours, just enough time.  It also was getting more crowded and things were starting to have long waits.  We grabbed some burgers and fries for lunch and hit the road.
With Lego Batman
The ride home was awful.  We were all tired and cranky.  Thankfully Daniel and Zak grabbed quick naps while we drove.  We got stuck in a ton of traffic due to bad weather, accidents and missing the loop around Indianapolis and didn't get home until after 10:00.  We were due for a bad road trip and are hoping it's out of our system before our 2 day drives to and from Florida in a few weeks!

All in all it was an amazing weekend!!  We are so thankful to Kenny and Christian for opening their home and boat to us, including our crazy 2 year old!  We will definitely be back soon!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Keeping Up With...Food (Menu Plan 8/11 - 8/17)

I'm back after a short hiatus from menu planning.  I took two weeks ago off because we were getting ready for a week that was mostly eating out or eating leftovers.  Then we went to Chicago for the weekend and by the time I got back and started planning our meals, it was already Weds.  I'm here for about 2 weeks, then will probably be gone again with our last vacation coming up.

My eating has hit the summer slump along with my exercising.  I have been having a great time with the boys and all of our traveling, but it is starting to take a toll on me.  I'm tired and not very motivated.  Plus I'm a little overwhelmed by all we have going on this month.  I'm trying to take it one day at a time and am menu planning for the next few weeks to try to help with some of the stress.

Last night we had a delicious summer BBQ meal.  The ribs were from the pig we bought a few weeks ago and the meat was excellent!  My only complaint was I wish I had more. 
Ribs, potato salad & a margarita - perfect summer meal!
Here's my menu plan for this week:
Monday, 8/11 - Bacon Cheddar Turkey Meatballs - AJ & Daniel requested meatballs
Tuesday, 8/12 - BLT Scallop Salad (Relish recipe)
Wednesday, 8/13 - Mediterranean Pork Chops & Cauliflower
Thursday, 8/14 - Cabbage & Beef Casserole - I got 2 free heads of cabbage last week so I need to figure out how to use them up.  This looked easier than stuffed cabbage (Relish recipe)
Friday, 8/15 - Sesame Noodles with Chicken & Broccoli
Saturday, 8/16 - Appetizers and Leftovers
Sunday, 8/17 - Cajun Shrimp Casserole

On Saturday I am hosting a freezer cooking workshop with a few friends.  My friend sells Tastefully Simple and they offer a party where you assemble 10 meals (each meal is 4-6 servings) that you can pop in your freezer then pull out and eat later.  I'm SO excited about this because I love freezer cooking.  With our busy life it is so easy to just pull something out of the freezer and pop it in the oven and have a healthy dinner.  I'll let you guys know how it goes in a few weeks, after we have tasted a few meals.

As always, I'm linking up with Laura at Mommy, Run Fast & Jill at Fitness, Health and Happiness.  Go check them out for some more yummy recipes!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Keeping Up With...Work Outs (Summer Slump)

Ugh, I feel like I've been saying this a lot the past 2 months, but I am in a serious slump this summer.  I can't seem to get motivated to eat right.  Or exercise other than teaching.  And the past 2 weeks I don't even want to do that much with the boys.  We've been spending a lot of time in the yard playing which is fun but not very active for me.

I know a huge part of this slump is not having a set schedule.  We are going with the flow which is fun but not easy to get workouts in.  I know when school starts I will have a schedule and will be able to work out consistently 5 days each week, probably 6 or 7.

Another part of it is the cycle I'm now in.  I'm eating crappy and not exercising so I'm tired so I don't want to do anything so I do more eating crappy and not exercising.  I'm snapping at the kids and hubby more.  I'm drinking less water so I have a headache so I can't sleep which makes me tired.  And on and on and on.

I'm going to focus on some positives though.  I'm still teaching six(ish) classes each week so I'm still very active.  I'm keeping up with my monthly calendar challenges.  I see the end in sight when the boys go back to school in two weeks.  I have had an AMAZING summer with my kids!
Selfie after teaching 2  classes
I think I might start getting the boys up and moving next week and get us on a little more of a schedule to get ready for school.  But then again I kind of want to let them sleep in and enjoy their last full week of summer.  Oh the decisions of a Mom!!

Here's how the last 2 weeks looked:
Wednesday, 7/23 - Rest Day
Thursday, 7/24 - Taught 2 one hour Zumba classes
Friday, 7/25 - Taught 1 one hour Zumba class
Saturday, 7/26 - Rest Day (worked 9-5 at my other job, that's a lot of work!!)  :)
Sunday, 7/27 - Rest Day
Monday, 7/28 - Taught 1 45 minute Zumba class
Tuesday, 7/29 - Taught 1 45 minute Zumba class
Wednesday, 7/30 - Walked a ton at the state fair
Thursday, 7/31 - Taught 2 one hour Zumba classes, one am and one pm
Friday, 8/1 -  Taught 1 one hour Zumba class
Saturday, 8/2 - Walked 4.5 miles in Great America with the family
Sunday, 8/3 - Swam in Lake Michigan with the family
Monday, 8/4 - Rest day other than walking around Lego Discovery Center
Tuesday, 8/5 -  Taught 1 30 minute Zumba class (student coming off an injury and wanted to take it slowly so we did)

And the weigh in:
7/23 - 215
8/6 - 219
Change - up 4 lbs in 2 weeks

Not surprised.  Happy it's not bigger.  Hoping to maintain or even lose a few over the next month of getting back to school and going to Disney for vacation.  After that, it's on for real!!