Food Can Be Your Medicine Or Your Poison…..You Choose

This is a reader request update:

The statement that food can be your medicine or your poison has become so true in our home. As I wrote about in the past few weeks(here and here) you can only imagine how hard it has been revamping everything we eat to not contain artificial sweetener and make my husband ill.

Take a look through my pantry and you will see cans, bottles, and packages marked with a big NO on the item…meaning it contains some kind of artificial sweetener he cannot eat. There are very few items left in my home but making this mistake will cause him illness for at least a day or two afterwards. I am slowly but surely getting rid of the items or using them up in meals he is not home to eat…since making two separate meals is not something I care to do for us as a family. I look at it as….we are all getting a bit healthier and not consuming something that was made in a lab or a test tube or where ever they come up with this poison.

Now, I know there are a few of you that have contacted me either through comments or through email wanting to know specifics of what foods all contain artificial sweetener. And some have even asked what a days worth of food looks like for my husband. First, I cannot answer the question of what foods all contain this. There are literally so many its impossible to list them all. You will just have to do what we did….make a list and read the labels. Second, I did document what my husband eats in two days for all of you. Although, I seriously don’t know how this will help anyone since we all have different likes and dislikes but it’s what many of you asked for so here is a glance into two days of food for my husband. Everything is artificial sweetener free.

DAY 1:

Breakfast: bagel with whipped cream cheese and fresh fruit (for this meal we needed to change our originally used cream cheese and the bagels we normally bought)

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Lunch: homemade chicken salad on toast with lettuce, broccoli with ranch dipping cup(bottled ranch has sweetener, dipping cups do not…figure that one out???)

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Snack: peanut butter and apples

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Dinner: stuffed zucchini boats with spices, ground turkey, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and organic canned tomatoes. Milk(not shown)

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Day 2:

Breakfast: two hard boiled eggs and a banana

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Snack: plain coconut water smoothie with blended strawberries and vanilla yogurt(yogurt is a big sweetened item…watch the label closely)

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Lunch: BLT pasta salad(recipe here)

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Dinner: sauteed shrimp on a hoagie roll (sweetener free), with homemade seven layer salad. Milk

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Since this all took place, I also make our meals when we go on an outing. Here is a great example of a recent meal while kayaking. We each had a homemade chicken salad hoagie, cheese chunks, fresh strawberries/kiwi, two hard boiled eggs. Lara bars were for extra snacks if we ended up staying too long and got hungry on the ride home.

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You may wonder why always homemade chicken salad for our sandwiches. Let me tell you, I for one, do not eat lunch meat since our first trip ever to Zion National Park and our guides told us how long it will last in our backpacks with out refrigeration in the dessert heat. I swore right then and there to never eat lunch meat again! This is just one of the many things I learned on that trip from two of the best guides. Anyhow, almost, if not all, lunch meat I find in the grocery store contains sweetener…so it’s easier for me just to whip up a quick batch of chicken salad for our sandwiches.

For snacks he has come to like pretzels, some ice creams are ok, and some crackers which he loves. We also found some chocolate candy that he is enjoying and recently were surprised to come across some of his favorite types of candy made in an organic variety. Which, as I told you in the past, just because it says organic don’t always mean it does not contain artificial sweetener(crazy I know) so he did not get his hopes to high until we read the label and all was good. He then bought one of every variety and was thrilled to have his precious candy again. What a sweet tooth he has….let me tell you.

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Drinks are also a big thing we needed to change in our house. He is a peach tea lover and the original peach tea we bought had all artificial sweetener in it. So now we buy a different brand and all is good again. He has also tried organic Gatorade for our hot and very active days…he says its different but good. I have since ordered an artificial sweetener free electrolyte drink mix that has not arrived yet for him to try. Hopefully it tastes ok since it’s much cheaper than the organic Gatorade.

So this is what a normal two days now looks like for my husband. A fairly healthy diet with no artificial sugar what so ever in any of these items. The hardest part was ridding our house of what we already had. Now it’s just a matter of remembering to read labels on anything new. Holidays may be tough when they come around but for the most part we are the hosts so I prepare most of the food anyhow.  For now it’s one day at a time and each day he feels better and better.

I am pretty proud of him for sticking to this since he has never really been a label reader. Although, he says he can easily cheat and eat something if he wants but nothing is worth going back to the way he used to feel. So as of today he has not looked back even once.

 

 

 

Disc Golf, Training Trail Chosen, and Being Published

Well, the weekend is over and regardless of the on and off weather and the cooler temps here, we had a good one. Very productive and yet we still found time to have a bit of fun.

My husband worked on his honey do list and accomplished a lot. Me….not so much. Just the usual like meal prep for the week, laundry, and errands.

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I did however visit the gym and had a great Saturday morning workout. And then came home and waited patiently for him to finish all his projects so we could take a trail hike at a nearby campus. I have not been able to make it to this trail since last fall so it felt great to be surrounded by trees again when we finally got here late in the day Saturday.

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Sunday we decided to try and beat the rain and get in a game of disc golf. This was not a great plan since it began to rain on us by hole 11. Thankfully, we had enough tree coverage on this course to keep us almost completely dry and we just waited it out.

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Clearly, the course had seen some big storms just as we all did since there were obvious signs of storm damage.

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We had a great game, with a quick shower right in the middle and were able to continue on until…..the last hole where my husband threw his disc and it never returned to the ground. AGGGG….his favorite disc was stuck in the tree!!!!

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This was not good and I knew he would not leave it here and just go buy another…so after many, many broken branches were collected from the surrounding trees, they were tossed up to his disc and it finally fell to the ground and we headed home.

We ate a fast lunch and then headed out for another hike to the same trail as Saturday since it was so beautiful. There really is nothing better then trees, dirt trail, and good company…..right?

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While walking this trail we finally remembered to grab the GPS and track the mileage since we have been discussing starting to train for our upcoming hiking vacation. This time we need more mileage training than elevation training so we thought this would be perfect. After tracking the mileage we found that its just a bit over 3.5 miles. Which would mean we would need to do this three complete times to match the mileage of our longest trail we plan to hike while in Virginia. Uggg, that sounds like a lot right now but as usual, training is work but it is so rewarding when we reach our destination with energy to spare. So in  about a month we will begin training and hopefully four weeks after that we can reach a total mileage of 10 miles.

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And lastly, we had some big news this weekend from our son. He has had his first photographs published in a local magazine on WI state parks. This is exciting since he is working on becoming a professional photographer. We picked up four of the magazines since parents can never be too proud of their own children.

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Mother Nature May Be Testing Me!

 

This week was a test from Mother Nature and clearly I am not happy about it. Wisconsin has been so chilly this week. Tuesday I found myself with a sweatshirt on, windows and doors all closed, and I was shivering in my own home…..AND IT”S JUNE!!!!! Now, that is not funny!!! The worst thing came when I turned on the news and heard the southwest region like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona (my favorite states to hike) were having a record heat wave. I simply wanted to cry…..like really cry:-(

Speaking of which, I actually just told my husband I was really feeling the need to hike a mountain lately. Is that odd or what? Some days I am content with the elliptical at the gym and some days I really need to push my body just to make sure I still have what it takes to do what I love. And let’s face it, there are no mountains in Wisconsin that could even come close to one in the southwest so he knew exactly where I was going with this statement. He simply looked at me when I said this and smiled. I guess that means he is not against a possible trip but then again, I honestly still can’t decide where to go back to….Utah or Arizona. We all agree, we have unfinished business in both states so time will tell where we end up. For now, I have to concentrate on our next destination….McAfee Knob and the Shenandoah National Park. Which, rightfully so, is a mountain I plan to hike and another bucket list destination I hopefully will be able to remove from the list in the near future.

For now I guess the elliptical, kayaking, and outdoor fun will have to be enough to keep me happy. Plus, after all, eventually it will get warm again here in Wisconsin….right???? Summer did officially just begin.

Here is look at what I did to increase my body temperature to a happy degree this week:

Saturday: kayaking the Chain O Lakes….paddled and swam for 3.5 hours (if you missed it read about it here)

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Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical

Monday: morning weights in the home gym, 1.5 mile walk with my daycare kiddos through a nearby wooded area.

Tuesday: home: morning weights

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday: morning weights in the home gym

Thursday: yoga at home

gym: 30 minute elliptical, weights, and stretching

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Friday: rest

After my post this past week regarding how hard it has been to remove artificial sweeteners from our daily diet, I received many questions what a daily day of food looks like for my husband. I have decided to try and document 2 days worth of food and post my findings in the near future instead of addressing each and every question. However, this may take a week or two to complete. I, for the most part, know what he eats in a day since I prepare his breakfast, pack his lunch for work daily, and dinner is eaten together. The hard part will be to remember to take a picture of the food and then find the time to write the post regarding his daily meals. Just know, I am working on it and hopefully all of you suffering with the same symptoms get as much relief as he has. Life is so much better when you feel healthy.

Have you been to either Utah or Arizona hiking?

If so, which is your favorite state?

Why?

It Has Not Been Easy To Remove Artificial Sweeteners From Our Diet

This Is A Readers Request Update:

It’s been almost two full months since my husband has removed all artificial sweeteners from his diet in hope to find relief from his apparent IBS symptoms. To see the initial start of this process read here. Today I would like to discuss the progress and how much our life has changed. As with any big change it is often easier to do as a couple than just one person. For the most part this is what we have done….completely removed artificial sweetener from our diets.

The biggest thing we needed to do was go through the items we already had in the house that contained something besides real sugar. Gosh, this was not easy and I feel we are pretty healthy eaters. However, my husband did find he was consuming much more than he thought in the form of artificial sweeteners. From something as straight forward(or though we thought) as cottage cheese to his love for candy…they all contained something besides sugar.

We needed to address his love for candy pronto. He loves his candy…..mints, chocolate, sour or sweet candy…he loves it all. And every single candy he loved was tainted with something on the no no list….and believe me the list is long….very long. So we searched hard, did some fast researching, and actually drove two hours to a store to purchase some candy made with real sugar. Yes, crazy maybe….but everyone deserves a treat here and there. We did find some great alternatives and actually now he prefers these over the old.

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Next, I needed to examine our sauces and spices. Oh my goodness, sauces are almost all artificial sweetener and it literally made me ill to know over half of what we used for condiments was tainted with this stuff. So we tossed, dumped, and went back to some of my own mixtures as a permanent fix in our diets now. From BBQ sauce to sloppy joe sauce, everything we commonly used needed to be homemade.

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Salad dressings are all made from scratch now.

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We have been experimenting with spice mixes both store bought and homemade and have found a few favorites.

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Eating out is simply a challenge. Without being able to read every ingredient in every menu item it is often not worth the risk.

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Pizza is now made all homemade with crust that is free of artificial sweetener and we have been very careful about choices at restaurants when we need to eat out. Like the week he traveled for work for instance. Only one evening did he feel bloated and sick which is actually great considering I imagined worse.

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When we are out and about I do my best to pack a picnic type lunch so we do not have to chance a mistake at a restaurant and struggle to make healthy choices on the road.

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Dessert bought from a store is completely out of the question. And since I do not enjoy baking, much less have the time to bake on a regular basis, this will be a very special treat to see dessert at our house. However, once in a great while it rains which means we can’t go outside and I get the urge to create a sweet treat for my family like this strawberry rhubarb crisp I recently made.

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He is learning to read every label on every item he consumes. I am learning to find new favorite products at the grocery store and thankfully shopping is getting a bit faster than it first was when this all began.

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He is also eating much more fresh, clean food items than ever before and is feeling better than ever. Fresh is best. And believe me, just because the product says all natural or organic does not mean it is artificial sweetener free….this was shocking to us both!!!!

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As a result he is feeling better than he has in two years. His bloating only occurs when he eats something he shouldn’t and does not catch the sweetener used. He is again enjoying vegetables and as a bonus we have both lost weight from this big change in our diets. If you find yourself bloated, miserable, and just plain tired of dealing with abdominal pain and discomfort and have found no relief, try removing artificial sweeteners from your diet. The improvement was almost immediate(48 hours) and you may be surprised to feel the same results.

 

 

Paddling The Chain O Lakes in Waupaca, WI-Summer 2017

We finally made it to my favorite place to paddle…. Waupaca, WI and the Chain O Lakes. Upon waking up Saturday morning we had originally planned to head to Door County.  Although, after watching the weather forecast, I quickly changed my mind and suggested we head to Waupaca. You see, when its hot here in Green Bay then Door County is typically 20 degrees cooler and that would put their temps right about 70-75…..too cold for me to enter the water. And I had my heart set on paddling and doing some lake swimming. I suggested this quick change of plans to my husband and he said….let’s do it! So we did!

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Upon arrival, we were not surprised to see some very large trees down between the chain of lakes since we saw some big trees along the highway while driving. However, everything down and in the path of the lakes is easy to get around in both kayaks, canoes, and standup paddle boards.

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As usual, I go to paddle/swim and my husband never forgets his fishing pole. Three casts in and he caught his first northern pike of the day. It was going to be a good day;-)

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Since we arrived by 9:30 Saturday morning the parking lot was still easily doable and I made my way immediately to the public dock on Marl Lake to get in my swim I was hoping for. Marl is probably my favorite lake here…..it’s crystal clear and has the most turtles which I love. However, the public dock where we beach our kayaks to swim fills up quickly on nice days so I wanted to get this in before it was too busy.

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Next, it was time to make our way back through the water path to another one of the lakes.

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At this point we passed by where we were parked and noticed that the number of people starting to show up had nearly tripled. Wow, they just kept coming and the lot was nearly full with cars, trucks, and trailers.

Making our way through Beasley Creek was once again a pain in the butt as always. We were hoping with the amount of rain we have had in the area lately that there would be enough water to paddle the entire creek but no luck. Although, this time we planned ahead just in case and my husband grabbed a piece of kayak strapping and threw it in his kayak. This way I held his boat, stayed in mine, and he pulled me and his kayak through with little effort.

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I enjoyed the ride and captured a beautiful hawk hiding out in the trees right next to the creek edge.

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Arriving at the next lake in the chain he again caught a fish after a few casts and this time it was a nice bass.

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Our entire day was a success. No rain, abundant sunshine, warm water, and great fishing. And I even had my first swim of 2017 in a lake…..it was a great way to spend a Saturday.

 

 

My Definition Of A Successful Week

Ahhh, the weekend is finally here in a few short hours. Anyone else just need a weekend….I sure do.

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This week I really changed things up in my schedule and it has brought me some great success. For one, I began working out in the early morning in our home gym before my daycare children arrive. Summers for me are exhausting to put it mildly and by nap time I am pooped out which is normally when I would have my first workout of the day….my second being after dinner in the evenings so my husband can join me. Well, lately I have been waking up sore and quite miserable…..especially after street walking the evening before for our normal 3 miles. So Tuesday when I woke up…..I felt like &$#@, and I said to myself,”Karen, you know how to fix this…go downstairs and stretch, move, and exercise!” So I did and let me tell you…..I felt amazing the remainder of the day. And since this was such a great feeling, I did this every morning the rest of the week and have decided to continue doing so. Moving my body is always the best medicine…..how could I forget that?

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Speaking of street walking…..I have been walking for well over 10 years now on a very regular basis for three miles minimum. This is how I began my weight loss journey way back when and this is still what brings me the most peace. However, the past three years or so it is also what brings me the most pain in my joints. Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger and my joints are telling me this every single day.  After Monday evenings walk with my husband I was miserable and said to him that I do believe my days of black top/concrete exercise are over. Facing reality for some is difficult…..for me it’s more about feeling better than anything. I can walk forever on dirt/crushed gravel and wooded trails but give me concrete and I would have to say no if its any great distance. At this stage of life it’s more about heart health, stress relief, and staying healthy…..not about mileage. And lets face it, even though the street is very convenient, close to home, and requires no driving to get to to exercise….trails are all around us and they offer so much more than just joint pounding pain on a hard surface. A great example would be this trail on Tuesday evening….exercise, wildlife, and veggies….who could ask for anything more.

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My entire week in exercise ended up being this:

Sunday: gym workout on the elliptical

Monday: 3 mile street walk, weights in our home gym

Tuesday: 2 mile trail walk, 30 minute recumbent bike and weights in our home gym

Wednesday: weights in our home gym, 30 minute recumbent bike at home

Thursday: weights in our home gym, cut the lawn

(***I love lawn cutting but rarely get the pleasure since I work later than the rest of my family and I can’t start our lawn mower on my own. Today I got done working early…so I jumped at this chance to cut the lawn)

Friday: weights in our home gym

All in all it was a successful week. Workouts were great, body feels good, food journal is looking good, and meals were mostly spent eaten outside on our porch…..which means summer is in full swing. We even had the pleasure of sushi one evening right after a big thunderstorm. If that don’t spell summer….I don’t know what does.

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What’s your definition of a successful week?

How have your workouts changed over the years?

How Do I Get It All Done? I Don’t!

 

I am often asked how I get it all done. It’s a question that sometimes annoys me because getting IT ALL DONE can mean so many different things to so many different people. So I really never know how to answer this question when it is asked. Although, I feel I do a pretty good job of being a wife, mother, daycare provider, barber, accountant, dishwasher, home maker, yard person, chef, first aid provider, and still have time for me. So for all my friends, family, and acquaintances who have asked me this, let me tell you how I do what I do.

First, just let me say…..I don’t get it all done. If I got it all done I would probably never sleep since it would be a full 24 hour a day job. However, I do follow a pretty strict schedule. Which is my first suggestion…make a schedule and stick to it. For instance, here at my house, I do laundry every single day except Saturday. I clean the bathrooms Tuesday, dust/scrub floors Monday, vacuum every single day(sometimes twice a day), garbage goes out on Tuesday, bills are done on Thursday, lawn gets cut once a week(sometimes twice), daycare bedding along with our bedding gets washed every two weeks unless needed before, garage gets swept once a week, dishes are done at least three times a day, ironing gets done on Wednesday, and dinner is prepared every evening except Friday. This schedule is very rarely changed up and some things are delegated to other members of my family. Lawn is typically husband or son, vacuuming is also husband or son if its the evening vacuum…..everything else is on me. All this is completed while I also work full time caring for three children all under the age of 3 yrs old. Add in a daily workout session for myself, kid cuddle time, play time, and time to eat and my days are full.

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How do I manage…..well I have a few other tips for everyone:

* Wake up early. Get what you can done before the kids wake up….in my instance before they arrive(6a.m.). Or if your a night owl, stay up late and get it done then.

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*Routine …routine…. routine. Having a schedule which becomes a routine after awhile helps me to know what the day holds in store. I know Mondays are my hardest days so dinner is typically something easy and fast.

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*Don’t be afraid to use your kids and spouse for help. Kids as young as two can lend a hand…plus it teaches them responsibility.

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*Don’t forget time for yourself. Sometimes we become so involved in life matters that our needs get pushed to the back of the line. Don’t let this happen. Schedule time for you just like time for laundry,dishes, and meal prep.

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*Organization is key. I am a very organized person and it helps so much to know exactly where things are when I need them. Even my daycare kids are taught from very young….things go back where we got them. They know exactly what is going to happen when. And having a routine is truly priceless when it comes to living a crazy, busy life here in our house.

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*Make a list. If you find it hard to stay on track try making a list. I am a professional list maker and have noticed my son is catching on now that he is an adult. I have lists every where. I have a weekly menu which then helps me make my weekly grocery list so food is not bought that may be wasted. I have a packing list for when we travel, lists for where I want to vacation, and lists for daily chores. You name it…. I have a list.

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Pre prep if you can. For me timing is everything. Many people may think I relax at nap time if I am so lucky to get everyone on the same napping schedule. This is not true….I typically exercise first and pre prep dinner during nap time. This way when my last child is picked up I can switch gears back to wife and mother and quickly throw together dinner before I hit the gym or my nightly exercise of choice. I find chopping veggies for the week on the weekends is helpful and taking things like sun dried tomatoes and pureeing them and then freezing them makes for a fast sauce additive with very little prep during the week.

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There is never a day where I feel like I got everything done. Although, there are days where I feel I have accomplished a lot and I am happy with the day. I used to stress over the fact that not everything got done but I quickly learned it never really changed anything. For me, I prioritize and the things that need attention get it…. from a chore around the house, to a particular person, or to simply myself. You need to have priorities. My family knows, if mom is not happy no one will be happy. Thankfully, I have a marriage where if either of us needs time apart we can simply say so and it’s not a problem. If we need some couple time we can also just say so and it happens. If I need help my husband is typically ready and waiting to lend a hand.

After all this is said, I will never say I don’t at times need an afternoon pick me up. My days are long and often exhausting, especially in the summer months where it is hot and we spend all day outside enjoying summer. When these days happen I will often turn to a afternoon chilled latte…..but believe me it is never in a fancy glass with ice cubes to keep it chilled while I sit on the front porch and enjoy it during nap time. Nope….never. Instead, it is straight from the frig, with a splash of almond milk added right to to container it was stored in, and gulped down withing minutes so I have time to workout before my first child decides they are not going to sleep on this particular day for whatever reason.

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Plus, in all honesty…..a fancy glass would just be one more dish I would need to wash and put away later on. It tastes the same from the storage container as it would from a fancy glass…..right?

I learned along time ago, what does not get done today will still be there tomorrow. I no longer sweat the small stuff….it’s just not worth the stress.