How I’ve Learned To Simplify Life

It’s no secret that as we age everything gets a little more difficult to do. We can all deny feeling a bit older every year but in our hearts we are and we know it. This year I have noticed that things that used to be so easy for me to accomplish seem to have gotten a bit more difficult. I am not talking all physical things either, I mean anything and everything that pertains to life. Which really made me look at how to simplify life and be a happier person.

IMG_1870Like dealing with stress and stressful situations. In the past I would worry myself sleepless over things that I knew I could not change. As of recently, I now notice that unless it involves my direct family(myself, husband or son) I listen, give advise if asked, and wait and see what happens next. This wait and see approach really helps me see that no matter what I feel or think I cannot make things any easier by worrying about the outcome. Ultimately, it is about something or someone else and there is not a thing I can do about it anyhow.

Physically I have noticed that my level of activity is not what it once was. However, I will say that compared to most individuals I know, I am still much more active that anyone else my age. Maybe this change is from age, although I strongly feel I could have other factors effecting my activity level. It could be almost anything or it could be an assortment….anything from working long days with two very active toddlers that are only a few weeks apart from each other, hormones, lingering injury issues from my ankle tendon tears, having to do more around the house/yard since my husband hurt himself, and so on. Regardless of what exactly it is, clearly I am getting older and find myself slowing down just a bit. However, I am feeling good with my activity level since it also allows me a bit more time to enjoy life.


Next, I think the big thing I have noticed in the past few years is that I just don’t have the need for a perfect, clean house anymore. Cleaning for me used to be a stress reliever believe it or not. If something would stress me I would come home and my husband and son knew to get out of the house and find something fun to do because I needed to clean. Which was really quite good but also so bad. I had a very clean house by Saturday evenings after I would spend the day with my mother whom, at the end of her illness, really stressed me out. After she passed away, I did not have that HUGE responsibility on my hands anymore which left me with a gaping hole I had nothing to fill it with. After a few months of twiddling my thumbs wondering what in the world I would do now on my weekends since caring for her every single weekend is what I did, I figured out that cleaning to relieve the tension and stress from caring for her was not necessary anymore. I could actually go and have some fun. Granted, I still have a clean home, just not as spotless as it used to be, which is really quite nice. The best part is I am actually having some really fun weekends now. If I am not with my family hiking, kayaking or doing something outdoors, then I very possibly have plans with a friend(s) to do something fun. This really took some getting used to. However, now, I can actually plan fun outings and enjoy the time away and not be so concerned that the house is not clean. I will get to it another time, day or weekend….it’s not the end of the world if it’s a bit dusty…..right?  IMG_2725

I can’t forget to mention meal times and how much that has changed. In the past year I really changed up how I grocery shop and prepare meals for my family. I never enjoyed grocery shopping and honestly I still don’t. However, it is so much easier today that a year ago. I used to be a once a month big grocery list shopper and in between run for the little necessities like bread, milk, fruits/veggies. This list was made on a whim with no meal plan and no thought as to what we would be eating when. I just purchased things and then came home and figured out from what was in the pantry what dinner would consists of. Which really was not all that great most of the time. Then one day everything changed. Our son graduated high school, started college, got a job, and then got two jobs. And literally overnight a light bulb went on in my head. There are many, many nights he is not even here for dinner so why am I making meals for a family of three and ending up with a ton of leftovers. Which brings us to today…every Thursday we discuss as a family the next weeks plans, schedules, and meals. From who will be present at dinner time during the week to if there are any requests for a special meal to be prepared. I post this menu on the frig, make my grocery list according to this menu, and only buy what I need to prepare these meals. I then shop every Friday night for the next week. My list is shorter, there is no wondering what I am making for dinner on said night anymore, and grocery shopping is so much faster which is awesome. And let me tell you, it’s saves a ton of money and time. I find myself buying much less junk food and things that we don’t need.


It’s funny to look back and see how life has changed over the years for me. Ultimately the changes I see are for the better. I am calming down and not taking life quite so seriously. I am still very active and happy…yes I have my share of aches and pains, but who doesn’t? I no longer care so much about what others think of the life I lead. I can go to bed with the laundry still in the dryer…which would have NEVER happened a few years ago. And best of all, I have come to realize that you can only worry so much about others and sometimes taking the wait and see approach is the best thing you can do for everyone. The only person you can change is yourself and if you find that something needs changing….what are you waiting for…change it!

Simplifying life has been a complete success for me. I can honestly say, I am a happier person now at this age than I have ever been before.


Tagging Along For The Day

Recently, our son and a friend casually mentioned that they were considering a hiking trip to my favorite WI park which quickly made me think fast. I knew they were both college students and, let’s face it, always tight on money, so if we offered to drive and supply lunch they may let us tag along for the day. So, the offer was made and by the next morning excepted…..which made this mom very happy.

I wish we lived closer to this area because this would be where I would spend a great majority of my time, hiking in Devil’s Lake State Park. This park literally has everything we love, well almost, it does not have whitewater rapids. It does have a lake for standup paddling, fishing, and swimming. It has bluffs to climb and hiking trails that are well marked and fun to hike. And the view is as good as it gets in Wisconsin.


Since both our son and his friend are photography students, they each had their backpacks loaded with camera equipment, which meant I had the pleasure of trying out my new Gregory backpack. (Which I LOVE) My husband had his backpack which started out empty since we began hiking when it was pretty chilly. As the temperature quickly rose, we started peeling layers off half way up the bluff and loading it into his backpack.


Our new hiking companion had never been here before, much less hiking anywhere for that matter. They have been doing little bits and pieces around home but this was by far the biggest hike he had been on. If only he could have seen his facial expression upon walking up to the trail head, it was photo worthy in my opinion. I hopefully put his mind at ease by reminding him that slow and steady is the key to success when hiking up cliffs/bluffs and that when he needed to stop and “smell the roses,” or catch his breath, to  do just that. We have done this hike a hundred times, so we knew exactly what was ahead. For him, this was truly a new adventure which we were hoping to make a big success.


By the time we reached the top everyone was warmed up and ready to explore. IMG_2775  IMG_2790


Then it was time for a little break. We found a sunny area and all shared a snack.


After numerous pictures were taken it was time to head back down. It was not a long distance hike by any means, but it was successful. Anytime we can share our love of the trail with someone new is a success in my eyes.


Then it was picnic time and we decided since we were not sure until last minute if we would actually be able to join them, that freeze dried meals would be easiest and fun for this newbie hiker to experience.


It ended up being a wonderful day of hiking and getting to know a new friend a little more. We returned to 80 degree weather at home and even managed to get a little yard work done before the sun set.



Join Me For Coffee….

I feel like I need a little chat time. For someone to listen, maybe comment or not. So let’s have a virtual coffee date.


First,  would welcome you with a hug and buy you coffee:) I would tell you how grateful I am that you came.

I would tell you we are doing fine and things with our son are looking much brighter this year at school. He is very happy with his choice to change campuses. That is quite a relief coming from a mom.

I would tell you about our trip we finally have planned. That I am so excited and that I hope it helps with my winter blues. However, as excited as I am, I am also quite nervous to try something we have never experienced before. Although, as with our trip in Utah, at least if I screw up and slip I will be assured to die somewhere beautiful.

I would ask your opinion of a change I am working on in my profession. I have lost sleep over this for a week now but hope to have it all figured out real soon. Being self employed is not always as good as it sounds. I still have to deal with issues just like any business only mine are on a much more personal level.

I would tell you I did my first tabata workout this week and it literally kicked my butt. I thought I was going to fall over right then and there. It was 20 minutes of the greatest torture I have ever experienced! The next 2 days I was moving pretty slow but it was that good kind of sore, ya know. The kind that says I worked parts of my body that I normally do not work.

I would tell you that I should start packing for our camping trip that is coming up.  I am just simply struggling to get motivated because of the cold temperatures we have been experiencing here in Green Bay. Sleeping will be fine, we have warm sleeping bags. Hiking will be great in cooler temps but those early morning and the middle of the night bathroom trips will suck! If my husband wants a happy wife, he better get up before I do and have hot water ready to go before I crawl out of that tent. I love camping, he is 100% in charge of cooking, always! It almost makes me want to camp in the backyard every single night:)

I would also tell you we are really hoping to paddle a river once more this year but I am almost ready to pack it all away for the year. I swear it went from comfortable to very chilly here overnight and I don’t believe the comfortable will be returning until probably next June. If there is one thing as bad as seeing a snake in the river while I am in it, it would have to be shivering while paddling uncontrollably. Cold and wet is not my idea of fun:(

By this time our coffee should be gone or cold so I better get to planning my weekend, prepare for my little ones to arrive and getting this Friday started so it can eventually end.

Have a great weekend.



Devil’s Lake State Park/Our First Visit With Our Son

This summer we never found the time to make our yearly trip to our favorite hiking destination in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park. This did not make me very happy. I mentioned to my husband that I sure would like to try and make it there before winter. His favorite saying is, “Happy wife,happy life!” So, he agreed to set aside a weekend to hike this beautiful park and make his wife happy:)

While talking with our son, I mentioned we were planning this adventure and he said he would like to join us if we made the trip on a Saturday. We clearly thought this would be a great way to sneak in a visit and spend it hiking as a family like always. (Otherwise we would not be seeing him until Thanksgiving normally) So we worked out the best weekend and decided to leave extra early to travel a little further and pick him and his friend up from campus for the day.

We left home at 4:45 am and picked them up at 9am to head back to the park arriving about 11:00 am. Our goal was to make it to the top of the first cliff and have a picnic lunch together. Upon arrival it was gorgeous, not too hot  and very sunny.


We stopped a few times to take pictures and let his friend take in the view.


This park has my favorite terrain to hike, boulders everywhere. I have climbed this trail numerous times and it never gets old.


Upon reaching the top we found a fairly flat boulder on the edge of the cliff, off the beaten path and enjoyed a nice spread of picnic foods and some catching up with the kids. It was so nice to sit and talk.


After lunch we headed to Devils Door. This is a spectacular rock formation at the very top of the cliff.


Popular for many different reasons. Here you can find rock climbers, scenic helicopter rides and hikers that love to climb into and out to the edge of this formation.


The colors of Autumn were just beautiful from this view.


Then it was time to head back down and refill water bottles for the next hike. This one is a killer, but well worth the view at the top. Unlike the rock climbing on the other side, this side is mostly paved with many steps built into the the path. The incline is steep and exhausting. The view from the top is breathtaking and so worth the effort.


When we reached the top, we had the opportunity to watch some rock climbers do their thing, which is always exciting.


From this side we could look over and see the side that we had just climbed. It does not seem so high until you see it from this angle.


After this we hiked back down and headed to our next destination, our campsite.

The town that our son’s campus is located in is very small, has a total of two hotels and they are by far, not the nicest hotels to stay in. So, we had planned ahead and decided we would camp at a near by state park. We  really wanted to have our tent set up by dark so we decided to bring freeze dried meals and all have dinner together at camp before returning the kids back to campus. Ahead of time we had informed our son of this plan, and told him to ask his friend which meal she preferred to have in freeze dried form.

We reached the campsite and my husband starting setting up the tent while my son and I started getting dinner ready.


This was his friends first experience with a freeze dried meal, so when he opened her meal of choice and showed her the inside she was somewhat speechless. I couldn’t help but laugh at her facial expression. Thankfully we had enough picnic food left over from lunch just in case.

Everyone’s boiling water was added to their meals. When it was time to start my husbands meal of choice, chicken breast with mashed potatoes, his needs to be done in steps, so I took out the freeze dried chicken breast and placed them on a plate.


She was again rendered speechless, and just turned up her nose. I guess you had to be there to realize how funny it really was. They began measuring out the proper amount of water for this meal, looking like two mad scientists doing an experiment.


While we waited for this meal to be prepared, it was time for her to take a look in her bag and see the outcome of her chili mac after it sat with boiling water for the required time. I don’t have a picture of this expression because I was laughing too hard. Although, she opened her bag, tried it and said it was pretty tasty. She took a picture to document her first freeze dried meal for future reference. It must have been edible because she ate the entire meal. It was a fun dinner with lots and lots of laughs.

Then it was time to bring the kids back to their dorms. We did stop for a quick Dairy Queen dessert before dropping them off and saying good bye. They both seemed to have a great time, and enjoyed their well needed break from campus life for a few hours. I have no doubt they were both feeling a little stiff the next morning from hiking, but they are young, they should recover fast. We told them on the second, more strenuous hike, we were helping them keep off the freshman 15 lbs. that everyone talks about. I don’t think either one believed us though.

All in all, we had a great day with them. We were tired by the time we headed back to our campsite for the night but were confident after seeing the two of them that they are getting along on their own just fine. As a parent, you never really know what will happen when they go off to college, but mine seems to be doing quite well and that makes me feel good.