Happy New Year

First, let me wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! This morning I loved hearing my alarm go off, grabbing a half cup of coffee, and hitting the gym early. Routine…it is a wonderful thing! Tomorrow we are all back to work, a meal plan is made for the first time in over two weeks, and our shelves and refrigerator are stocked with healthy options to begin the year. I have made no great new years resolutions since I already feel I do my best physically when my body allows, I do my best financially when the funds are there, and well, I guess the only thing I can hope for in the new year is good health. Which I really have no control over above and beyond what I already do to stay healthy, so I will let it be what it shall be.

Let’s see, Christmas for us was wonderful. Family…as small as our is, is a wonderful thing. We ate, drank and were merry as many of you were also I would imagine.

We celebrated one birthday during the holiday…our son’s falls the day after Christmas.

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And since he is an adult now, many of his gifts revolved around getting out on his own and having the basics he will need when this happens. Yes, I did buy my son a laundry hamper as a gift. He told me to buy practical gifts which I did….and I LOVED every minute of it;-)

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We also had a milestone happen in our family. Our son bought his first car which we picked up the day before Christmas Eve. These moments make me proud as a mom….slowly he is making a life for himself and spreading his wings. Next, he tells me, is apartment hunting. Oh boy, this brings me back many years. Can I seriously be this old already that my son is ready to move out….wow, where do the years go?

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Lets see, back to Christmas, we ate tons of food….some healthy and some not so healthy…..but all artificial sweetener free. We host here at our home every year and we also pick a theme to celebrate the holiday. This year we decided on a home cooked meal and pajama Christmas. So meatloaf, glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes were on the menu. Birthday cake and ice cream was dessert. Along with some appetizers to share before dinner like this pickled shrimp recipe we tried for the first time which ended up being a big hit.

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I even snuck in a new treat….and I assure you it was well deserved some days.

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With the week off between holidays, I had ample time to restock the freezer with freezer meals. Soup is a favorite for me to freeze and eat later.

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I am killing the early morning workouts….which I am proud to say I missed not a single day through the holidays. However, this is more for my mental health than my physical health during this time of year. It’s a great holiday stress reliever.

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I also have been experimenting with some new recipes from a new cookbook I received from Christmas. I know most people get new recipes online now a days but I don’t have a whole lot of time to search and find recipes. So books are still my favorite way to find new recipes. And my slow cooker is going to be my best friend with two newborn babies starting with in a week of each other here. Oh boy, time will be limited for sure.

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Also over the holiday break I enjoyed an afternoon snow hike with my son and a few feathered friends we saw along the way.

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And let me tell ya, snow adds a whole different spin on hiking….wow, were we tired after about 3 miles of snow hiking an area trail.

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We did this hike while dad ventured out for the first time to ice fish an area lake. I, like always, thought it was too early, our son also thought it was too early, but arguing with a fisherman is pointless so we made ourselves busy while he took his chances with the ice thickness. He came home a few hours later with not a great ice report but enough to be able to limit out on his catch of the day. IMG_0099

That sums up my last two weeks. As I adjust to new children to care for and we all adjust to going back to work, let’s savor the reality that routine is really a nice thing to have. I loved the holiday break but for me personally, normal life is not a bad thing either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Ugga Mugga…..Another Long Week On My Own

This week was much like last week in that I was again, on my own all week. Hubby and I said goodbye to each other again Monday afternoon so he could catch his flight and I could face the week ahead on my own. Thankfully this does not happen too often with his job, but when it does it really rocks our world here at home. We rarely do anything apart, he is usually always home at the same time everyday and all my daycare children know when this time is, and honestly, it just makes life a bit crazy trying to work around when we can find the time to chat in between busy schedules. Add in a time difference (if any) depending on where he is compared to me here at home and it can get a little difficult…. I always pray I am the earlier time so I can go to bed at a normal hour.

Anyhow, like last week, I did what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Here is the outcome of my workouts this week:

Sunday: 1.5 mile walk

Monday: 3 mile walk together before dropping him at the airport, 30 minutes elliptical at the gym

Tuesday: gym:30 minutes elliptical and stretching

Wednesday:home: floor weight routine and 30 minute recumbent bike

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Thursday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, upper body weights, and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: rest…but a ton of big household chores…..scrub carpets, do loads and loads of laundry, and just hang out with my hubby who arrived home finally.

Meals were easy peasy since, for the most part, it was just me.  It sure makes grocery shopping much easier when its less mouths to feed. Here’s a peak at the meals from the week.

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Sunday: baked ham, roasted brussel sprouts, scalloped potatoes(family dinner)

Monday: philly cheese steak brat, sauteed perogies with spinach and bacon.

Tuesday: chicken and cheese quesadilla with stuffed poblano peppers(dinner with our son home)

Wednesday: sushi

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Thursday: bruschetta personal pizza

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Friday: out

Saturday: mom’s day off….fend for yourself

The week as a whole….I would say was pretty good. I love being back at the gym. Renovations there are almost complete and I am pretty excited to hear we will be getting kettle bells soon. I love kettle bells and wish I had more at home, so this is something I am really looking forward to having access to at the gym.

Life lately has been many unanswered questions…however, the one thing I am sure of is that winter is getting closer to making an arrival and I am preparing myself the best way I know how….I have a whole tub of hot chocolate, my Christmas list has an electric heated blanket on it, and I have stocked up on lip moisturizer….I literally have tubes of this stuff everywhere! The joys of frigid temperatures makes me want to cringe!!!!!

 

 

 

Two Weeks Into My Recovery

Today marks two weeks since I went through open abdominal surgery to remove a very large tumor. Honestly, the first week is quite a blur. I was in the hospital three of it, medicated, and very sore, to put it mildly.  Today I am feeling a little improvement everyday and find myself able to do more for myself little by little.

For someone that does not sit a whole lot, I must admit, it is my happiest position at the moment. If I sit still I feel no pain which is quite wonderful. However, sitting still is not my favorite thing to do. My first outing since coming home from the hospital was to see my surgeon last week. I was nervous, yet excited to talk with her and see what I could start doing as far as exercise goes. Little did I know that my abs need more time on the inside than the outside to heal and be strong enough for exercise…..so all I am allowed to do is walk……for the next 4 weeks!!!!!! OMG, I may go crazy…..warning to all my friends and family…this could be bad! This was devastating to me, even though at this point, I do not feel ready to do any exercise at all. It was still devastating.

Besides spending every single day in my fat pants(they are the least irritating on my incision), I have been starting to do other time occupying things. I can finally sit up to 15 minutes on a hard, upright chair, so I have started doing puzzles again.

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I have also started redoing our trip plans that we had already scheduled in the near future. My husband and I had an exploration and hiking trip planned prior to surgery and we have been cleared to go on this trip, at this point, from my doctor. However, hiking after sitting for 6 weeks will be challenging at best. So I have started researching different activities and hot spots in the state we will be visiting so we have something to do while we are there. This is always fun for me since I am the travel planner of our family.

As a family we all decided this would be our opportunity to watch a movie that has been on my list forever…..A Walk In The Woods. I always see these movies I want to watch but never make time to actually sit for that long and watch the entire thing. Well, this was perfect, all I am doing is sitting, so why not try and watch a movie.  Let me say, this was a fun movie to watch. Great shots of the AP trail, great story line, but WAY TO FUNNY TO WATCH AFTER SURGERY. Laughing hurts and hurts a lot after surgery…..and I laughed many times during this movie. Great idea turned bad really fast.

Other than that, I have been spending much of my time here….either in the recliner or on the couch.

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I am never far from my heating pads. I spent the first 5 days sleeping in that recliner. My meals have all been served to me on a tray in that recliner by my amazing husband.

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And walking consists of laps around my house numerous times a day. It makes for some very long days and nights but slowly it’s improving.

During the week I have had friends stop over and sit for hours while we drink tea and pass time. They stay here while I sleep to help me get up(I still cannot sit up by myself if in bed) so my husband can work, and many of them have brought meals to us to make life a bit easier for my boys.

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It has been eye opening to see what great friends I have. And simply amazing how great my husband and son have been through all of this.

My goals for the next week are to start walking further distances before the pain starts, sit up in bed alone, and try to help with dinner preparations to ease my husbands load after he works all day.

 

 

 

A Christmas Hike and A Big Birthday To Celebrate

Wow, these past few days have been so wonderful that for once I can honestly say I have enjoyed Christmas. Typically, the holiday is crazy nuts with places to go and people to see that there is hardly time to breathe in between. This year was so different and so pleasant in every way.

First, let me just say that the weather was gorgeous. We had no snow what so ever and I was one of the very few that was happy about this. Everyone claims they need snow for Christmas….everyone except me that is. I had to laugh when I received this in our mail box recently since this is exactly what I prefer to build a snowman out of also.

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Alright, back to why our holiday was so wonderful. We woke up bright and early Christmas morning to open gifts while breakfast made our house smell heavenly. Baking away in the oven was a gooey mess of yumminess we were going to enjoy before packing up to leave for a day of outdoor adventure. Here is the finished product before we devoured it without guilt since it was Christmas and all:-)   IMG_3135

We had plans to head out and do what our family loves to do on this gorgeous day…..hike. We packed up a quick Christmas lunch, threw our hiking boots in the back, grabbed our camera gear, made a thermos full of nutella hot chocolate and away we went.

IMG_3136A while later we arrived at one of our favorite parks, Cave Point. As we made our way to the trail we noticed that Mother Nature seemed to have decorated the lake side bushes and tress with icicles that were like diamonds hanging from the limbs. It was quite beautiful to see.  IMG_3137

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We hiked along the shoreline for quite a ways enjoying the beauty of the day and the area.

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After this it was time to have Christmas lunch as we have had many, many lunches in our family…..right from the back of our vehicles. Many of you will probably think this is an insane place to share a Christmas meal but in our family, some of the best meals have been shared on the tailgate of our truck or from the trunk of our car. Anyone who has kayaked with us will agree and know right where I am coming from. I could not have thought of a better place to share this meal on this day.IMG_3179Then we headed out to another trail on the way home.  IMG_3182

The main reason for stopping here was to search for a geocache we have been meaning to get for sometime now. Although, as you can see the area is mainly what I refer to as SNAKE GRASS covered. Which means the only time this is possibly with me along is when the snakes are are happily sleeping away winter.

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After this it was time to return home, watch a movie and just be together.

The next day, Christmas celebrations were officially over since we now had a big birthday to celebrate. Our son celebrated his 21st birthday the day after Christmas which meant a nice birthday lunch out at his favorite restaurant.

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And some birthday presents all wrapped in birthday paper. It’s very hard to not forget a birthday when its celebrated so close to a big holiday. As his mom, I have always had the rule that if your going to give him birthday gifts at Christmas time, they MUST be at least wrapped in birthday paper. Thankfully, to this day, everyone abides by this rule.  IMG_3134

That pretty much sums the past few days.

Do you prefer snow on Christmas?

 

 

Wow…I Had A Very Productive Week

Oh my gosh, I accomplished so much this week.

I have finally made up our Thanksgiving menu. This year we are making all the traditional fixings and my husband is also going to try making smoked turkey breast. For me its not so much about the Thanksgiving meal itself, as it is about the leftovers. I love making meals with the leftovers. And since it’s just the three of us at Thanksgiving time, we have TONS of leftovers…..yummmmmy!

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I finally had some time to go through my workout clothes and get rid of some items. I don’t know about you but I am pretty picky when it comes to what I like to workout in. I typically find something I love or find something I don’t fairly quickly. I always where shorts at the gym but dislike shorts here at home, especially in the winter months as the basement can get pretty chilly. This past weekend I found some great buys on some new items so I figured it was time to pitch some things that I knew I would never wear again for one reason or another.  IMG_2895

I also finally set all my end of the year dates. Well, almost, I still have to plan a date to have my in-laws over for Christmas, but that will happen soon enough. I did get my daycare Christmas party date set and our girls luncheon set. Tire installation appointment is made for this upcoming week. (I know, nothing like waiting until the last minute for new tires, we are lucky there is no snow on the ground yet!) And I have every intention to try my best to finish up my Christmas shopping this weekend now that our son finally gave us his list. My list of things to do is getting shorter by the day…for this I am thankful.

And most of all, I had a week of awesome workouts! I finally feel like life is getting back to normal and my body is thanking me for this.Take a look…

My workouts of the week:

Sunday: 1.5 mile walk

Monday: 1.5 mile walk in the morning, 30 minute recumbent bike, stability ball routine, weight lifting, 2 mile walk in the evening

Tuesday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike and stability ball routine

gym: 30 minute elliptical and upper body weights

Wednesday: rest (not a typical rest night but I had an appointment to attend to this evening)

Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike

gym: 30 minute elliptical and upper body weights
last minute change up: 3 mile walk outside (it could be the last walk outside if it snows this weekend like they are predicting so I just had to take advantage of it)

Friday: 30 minute recumbent bike

It feels really good to end the week feeling accomplished. Next week is a short work week with the holiday and I am looking forward to some family lounge time. It seems like we have been go, go, go forever. I need some down time, trail time or maybe just some good old couch cuddle time.

Have A Great Weekend Everyone!

A Little Of This and A Little Of That

We had a great weekend. With Mother’s Day on Sunday my son offered to prepare dinner of my choice which he knows is always a great offer. Meals always taste better when someone else prepares them. My choice was turkey reuben sandwiches on texas toast with fresh, wild asparagus on the side. YUMMMM!

In other weekend events…..I attempted my first game of disc golf with my immobility boot. We went to a course on the UW Green Bay campus. IMG_0973

Not a great game for me but it was still fun. I had a hard time getting up the hills with that darn boot on but with a little help I managed. It was a gorgeous day and we saw many families playing together which is always nice to see. IMG_0976

Saturday morning our son was working so my husband and I headed out to a recreational trail for some wild asparagus picking. IMG_0963

No one in my family eats asparagus except me however, my husband enjoys picking it.

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While we were nearby we also stopped at my favorite fish market and purchased some smoked salmon. My mouth literally starts watering the second I walk in and smell their fabulous smoked fish. IMG_0954

Which reminds me, have you tried this Korean BBQ pork jerky yet? We found ours at Costco….I highly recommend it!

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After a full day of activity, it was time to relax and try out my new resistance band exercises on my healthy ankle. In one more week I will be able to start exercising both ankles and hopefully they are healthy enough to attempt our big vacation in a few weeks.

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I was able to use the medium resistance band on my good ankle. I can only imagine that my injured ankle will not be as strong, but we’ll see soon enough.

What does your family do for fun?

Have you ever picked something wild and fed it to your family?