Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So Different, Yet So Alike

All my kids have their differences, they are different people.

But there's one weird thing Sarah and Spanky have in common.

When Sarah was two, she would wake up say 'swimsuit' and wear a swimsuit all day. She also stood by the door later saying 'swimming' because 'I in my swimsuit'. I'd giggle, she'd giggle and then it was forgotten.

Now every morning Spanky wakes up and says 'wimsuit' (can't say he's 's's) and then walks to the door and says 'wimming. I dressed'. I giggle, he pouts, cries and starts to hit the door.

Well maybe not too much alike......

Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy Mays, Entertainer Wherever He Went

Rest in peace Billy Mays--you made the informercial fun. You will be missed!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The $4.98 Boot Camp

Last month, my wonderful, generous husband treated me to a full month at one of the more pricier boot camps in our area.

It ended this week and I left 1 pound lighter, 6 1/2 inches smaller and 5% less body fat.

Not bad.

But now it's over. And unless our money tree comes to life, I won't be going back anytime soon.

So I have been trying to come up with a replacement.

I now know the boot camp 'routine' light cardio mixed with intense cardio and a variety of muscle building work-outs done in specific amounts of time. Variety being the key.

At first, I went from memory. I remembered a few of the routines and I mixed in those routines with some light to hard running. Two mornings later, I was at a loss.

I needed some variety along with a good timer. On a whim, I wondered if there was 'an app for that' on the good ol' iphone. Surprise, there are quite a few 'apps for that'.

For cardio, I found an app called 'C25K'. This running program takes you from literally the couch to a 5K 30 minute run in 9 weeks. For $2.99, I figured why not and downloaded it. I got to play my own music (something that really annoyed me about boot camp--the instructor seemed to love Beyonce--me, not so much) and do some running/walking combos. I finished covered in sweat.

OK, that covered the cardio but my main issue was the strength exercises. I searched the apps long on this one and found the most popular one, 'iFitness' for $1.99. Even without stepping foot in a gym, I have quickly found a number of different exercises that I can build into routines and keep track of them. I have paired these with the timer already on the phone, mixed in some cardio bursts (jumping jacks, jump rope, burpees) and I have my own little boot camp.

Now there are some things that I just can't substitute from boot camp. The social aspect of boot camp is missing. I don't get to huff and puff while chatting with others about summer vacations, kids, etc. so I might try to rope in some local friends. Even if I can't, maybe you might want to join me. If you are interested in trying this $4.98 boot camp, email me at verybusymomwith4@gmail.net . If anything, we can compare routines, time and helpful tips. Who knows--maybe we could even do posts with our routines and some encouragement like my instructor did.

So in short, it's not not perfect but for $4.98 plus tax, this boot camp is hard to beat!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Letting Spanky Be Spanky

Spanky is a very strong-willed, independent little boy. He likes things his way. It's how God made him. And that is OK.

Except we don't go to many public places with him.

The other week, we decided after a pretty good behavior day in church (aka no children pulled hair or pushed siblings head-first into pews) to take the entire family out for Tex-Mex. Including Spanky.

The meal started out OK. The kids gorged on chips and queso with guac followed by stuffed jalepenos. I enjoyed a frozen margarita with Mike.

And then some Tom Petty hit the speakers.

Spanky loves classic rock.

He quickly got down from his seat and began to waltz around our table to the beat. And of course a waltzing toddler has no concept of personal space. He began to bump into waitresses carrying the hot plates of fajita meat and other patrons enjoying their meal.

It was at that moment I had a decision to make.

Pull him back up the table which would result in screams and kicks or let him continue and enjoy the show.

I took a breath and chose the latter. I motioned Miley to guide Spanky to less busy areas. Before I took another sip of my frozen drink, all four of my kids were dancing to 'Last Dance With Mary Jane'.

A couple beside us smiled. The waitresses, who carefully watched their footing, smiled. A family in front of us turned and smiled. It was working out.

And then Spanky found a giant half dead june bug.

He screamed "Bug, bug," directing all attention to the rather unappetizing insect.

Of course all four children had to investigate, poke and comment.

I focused on my stuffed shrimp and tried to coo the kids back to their seats for the quesadillas. No dice.

After what seemed liked hours, the kids came back to the table and ate. I had another margarita.

When the meal was done, I noticed people still smiling at us. I smiled back and gratefully got the kids to the nearby fountain to get out the rest of the energy they seemed to be full of. Lynyrd Skynard was playing so Spanky really wanted to dance. (Can you blame him though--I mean 'Sweet Home Alabama'--come on!)

Mike and I plopped down on the bench and let the kids go nuts, Spanky leading the way.

I looked up and saw the couple that sat across from us walk over to our bench.

They actually thanked us for letting the kids have fun and dance. They told us they thought the kids were entertaining and made them smile.

I was over the moon with pride.

Then they pulled out a card and told us they are the owners of the restaurant and wanted to to treat us to our next meal.

I looked down and saw a very generous gift card.

All for letting Spanky be Spanky.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Watching TV as History Repeats

The past few days, I have been shocked and saddened by the protests in Iran, especially things like this. People protesting for a fair election are being beaten, jailed and killed.

It make me so grateful to live in a country where my vote does count and where I can protest without fear of harm.

But I grieve for these poor people. They need our prayers.

The event reminds of the protests in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. College students protesting for something we were given at birth. College students killed for wanting what we take for granted.

Please take a few moments to pray for the men, women and children who are risking their lives to speak out, and pray it does not end as horribly as Tiananmen Square.

Since the protests began, the following song has been in head. When the song first came out, I found it as the awful truth--here we are watching TV without a care in the world while people are facing horrors to have their voices heard.

People are dying for freedom, won't you grieve with me.
***Warning--this video contains graphic images, please make sure your children are not near the computer screen!!!!****


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vowing to spend less means doing so much more

For the first time since the weekend, I am sitting on the couch with the lap top, TV on and a Shiner in my hand. The kids are outside playing in the hose.

And I am relaxed......


It's ironic. This summer I vowed to spend the lowest amount possible on summer activities. I did--seriously, I have spent about 1/4 what I usually spend. Yet, the insanely cheap activities the kids are doing seem to have about triple the time commitment. Really.

A very cheap small town track club is three days a week--2 hours each time.

Community theater ranges from 3 to 6 days a week--anywhere from 2 to 5 hours each time.

Vacation Bible School for the whole week, always cheap.

Swim lessons from an awesome friend for about 1/2 what everyone else charges--four times a week, four weeks.

And this leaves me amazingly pleased and tired all at the same time. I am thrilled to have found such great alternative activities for the kids I don't feel like I should complain at all. So I won't.

I'll just lift up this Shiner and wish you all a very fun-filled summer and a bit of advice--check out the cheap and free stuff your hometown offers, if you haven't. I promise--you will be shocked and thrilled all at once.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thank you, we'll be here all summer

To say the last week or so has been hectic, would be like calling the Hindenburg a sad event. Between near tornados, days without electricity, ballet recitals, potty training and Vacation Bible School, we've barely had a moment to breathe, much less sleep.

But we still need to eat.

So today after my 5 am boot camp, I made some blueberry bran muffins, loaded up the kids for Vacation Bible School, dropped Spanky off at the nursery and then proceeded to take care of a group of kids who had a real love for life for a few hours (a real bright spot--everyone should be lucky enough to work with kids who aren't their own for at least a little while).

Once I helped send the other kids home, and after making sure everyone went to the bathroom, we drove out to Whole Foods to get our groceries for the week. Now usually I would never take four young children to the grocery store on an early Monday afternoon during the peek shopping hours after spending an entire morning in a loud, fast paced VBS setting. But because the loss of electricity had destroyed every item in the fridge, we had no choice.

So there we were. 

Naturally, the kids wanted a car cart--the great carts that are impossible to maneuver yet manage to hold almost nothing. Miley decided to chase Spanky down aisles and then I got to chase them hoping Dino and Sarah were behind me. 

After carefully placing items on top of items and walking with the most careful grace, we made it to the cashier. I sighed, giving myself a silent 'You did It' reward and feeling pretty darn proud, right on que, Spanky started to scream, Miley took off to grab a different salad dressing (the girl lives for salad), Sarah began tugging my shirt to ask for the 'treat box' and Dino scanned to groceries looking for his favorites. 

I smiled, trying to hold myself together and turned to the people behind me and I got the comments I seem to always get.

"They're so entertaining."

"Y'all are a hoot to watch!"

"Wow--they sure are fun!"

"This is fun watching them!"

"I am just having a ball just watching y'all!"

It appears my chaos brings a smile to some people's faces.  Now if only I could paid based on the amount of chaos I deal with on an hourly basis, I would be a very rich mommy :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Menu Monday--A Change of Pace--Breakfast :)

During my boot camp orientation, I lied. The instructor was asking how many different breakfasts you prepare. I was about to speak and heard words like 'one', 'two' and 'one'. I shyly mumbled 'six' and she looked at me in shock--I continued to mumble I had kids that were always wanting something new so I had to keep it varied. Right then I was glad I did not say the truth because honestly I have 12-16 go-to breakfasts in my rotation. I am not sure why I was scared to admit I have such a large variety--probably because the rest of the room had a variety of cereal and toast.

I've never been able to go 'small' on breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. A good, balanced breakfast will make or break your day--too much sugar and you get hyped up only to drop by noon, too much fat and you feel bloated for the rest of the day. 

I also have this thing against a 'cold' breakfast. I pretty sure my kids would look see me as an alien clone if I fixed cold cereal for breakfast. I just find cold cereal better suited as a quick after school snack or even a snack after dinner. A mushy box of flakes drowning in bowl of milk just doesn't work for me.

I also firmly believe breakfast plays a role in our children's school work. Kids are so sensitive to foods. If you hand them off to the school full of fruit loops or pop tarts, you should expect to spend many an afternoon at the principal's office discussing behavior. I remember when Miley was younger and she was having 'talking' issues on certain days. Her teacher being of the same food mindset as me, linked it to breakfast. So for two weeks, she recorded her behavior--attention, grades, listening--while I recorded what she ate before school. Any morning she had a high carb breakfast like french toast (made on multi-grain bread even!) or breakfast muffins, she had behavior and listening issues while when she had protein rich breakfasts like scrambled eggs with spinach and chicken sausage or an Italian frittata, she did amazingly well. And when I just added more egg white and less maple syrup to the french toast along with some chicken sausage, she had a better day!

It was amazing. 

So this week, I am going to share breakfast with you. Because we have a few busy mornings, there are also a couple get up and go meals. 

I hope you can find a few things in your menu and encourage variety for the most important meal of the day! (The prep work to these is fairly simple--if you have any questions, please email me at verybusymomwith4@gmail.com)

Monday: Red pepper egg white omelet with cheddar cheese and small scoop of ranchero sauce

Tuesday: Steel cut oats with walnuts, dried cranberries and (real) maple syrup (I eat this A LOT)

Wednesday: Broiled whole grain muffin with scrambled eggs, sauted spinach, cheddar cheese--put together like a sandwich and it's a meal to go!

Friday: Yogurt bar--start with PLAIN nonfat yogurt and serve with granola, nuts, fruits, honey (this is a bit sweeter than most breakfasts but I am going to be hosting breakfast after a sleep over!)

Saturday: French toast (be sure to use real maple syrup!) with berries and chicken maple sausage

Sunday: Migas  (I do not fry the tortilla strips but I am sure it would be very yummy!)

For more recipes be sure to check out Jen at Chive Talkin' :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Does skinny really feel as good as a german chocolate cake tastes?

Before I begin, I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for your kind words of support during my really crappy week. I am so thankful! You have no idea how much my heart soared with each encouraging message. And I felt your prayers. Thank you. Times are getting better. I appreciate you all!

My boot camp has a voluntary 'detox diet'--a no fun diet, esp. if you are really into food. Two days a week you eat just fruit and lunch is just veggies. And I tried to follow it. I really did. But God blessed me with cooking skills. And my cooking skills usually involve, cream, chicken skin, bacon and olive oil. 

I have been a bad boot camper and my scale is letting me know. Since I started boot camp, I am not getting that burst of energy and overall happy vibes and even more so, I have gained 3 pounds. Not good.

So I went out to the grocery store today to follow 'the diet'. And then I got to thinking.....is it worth being grumpy and eating bland food just so you can slink into a size 0 skirt? Or would it be better to laugh, eat and love in a size much bigger?

I don't know. I really don't.