Some Real Talk Moments…..

As you all know Halloween rolled around, we changed our clocks, woke up and began November with cold, darkness, and ultimately then a bit of snow arrived. And if you love winter I am sure your thrilled about all these changes…..for me it’s been a long month! Besides all this change we had so much more happening behind the scenes here that I honestly found solace in some quality alone time. I decided to make a huge change to my daily routine and began going to the gym at 5:00a.m.. And let me tell you….this has truly changed my daily dynamics completely. Somehow this, that, and the other all changed and I have free time now from 5-7a.m. and its perfect time for me to get in a great workout, free my mind of the constant boxing match happening up there, and get some endorphin help to make me feel alive at a time of year I just want to crawl under the covers and not come out until mid March. Anybody else feel this way when winter rolls around?

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So let’s see, November has been good. Challenging but good. We have had work issues to deal with pertaining to all three of us this month.One job change(our son), I am waiting for maternity leaves to be over and then I will be back up to my happy stress level of kids once again, and the other issue is my husband is traveling one day and the next it is cancelled. Which results in literally driving this very organized person (me) completely crazy with frustration!!!! I am a total, get your %$#@ together or don’t plan on me being part of it, kind of person. So when he says he is leaving I plan for him not to be here…and then all of a sudden he is here which means I need to replan once again. Frustration I tell you, complete frustration.OK, that rant is over with….lets move on.

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I always feel pressured to get my Christmas shopping done since I really dislike the crowds at this time of year. To help with this task my husband and I once again made our annual bus trip to Illinois to spend the day shopping, eating, and enjoying life away from the daily grind at home. This all started a few years ago and now it has turned into a yearly event for us. He is the best package carrier ever and all I have to do is promise to feed him from Whole Foods hot bar for lunch every year. It’s a LONG day but so worth it. We always find treasures and deals we can’t find here in Green Bay and there is no stress since the bus ticket is cheap and we don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, getting lost or anything. Just shop, eat, and have fun.

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I took my first ever structured yoga class with a friend and it was life changing. Since starting yoga on a regular basis at home my back has gotten significantly stronger and has been feeling better. I thought a class taught by a professional would correct any form issues I could be having so this was the thought behind the class I took. I will honestly say that after class I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got out of it. I am planning on taking 1-2 classes a week for the time being. And I am looking at them as more of an active recovery day than anything. Movement is medicine in my situation and a day off with absolutely nothing is worse than anything so this should be perfect for me on my exercise recovery days.

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We once again broke out our yearly winter pass time activity of jig saw puzzles. This for me is a huge turning point since it really means my time outside is going to be next to none for the next five months.

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I do have something pretty big waiting in the back ground for me to begin planning after the first of the year. My husband and I have decided to renew our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary in 2018. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but so far nothing is set in stone yet. I will say, the ceremony will be small…..simply because not a single person in our families will be joining us except our son. Why you may wonder…..well, none of them are willing to climb the mountain I wish to have the ceremony on top of. I have however, found a minister that is willing to hike this route and do the honors, so I may have to add in a bit more compensation than his usual and customary fee just for his effort.

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And one last thing to share with you…check this little morsel of yum out! I was shopping at a local grocery and they had these in the seafood case. They called them volcano shrimp. I asked what they were exactly and the employee said they are cooked shrimp wrapped in sweet potato strands sprinkled with ginger. Well, I had to give one a try. I brought it home, baked it for 10 minutes as directed, and shared it with one of my daycare kids. She cried when it was gone and I felt like crying too since it was the only one I bought. IT WAS SO YUMMY!!! Now I am determined to try and make them myself. Really, how hard can they be right? I just have to get my spiralizer back from the friend I borrowed it to and then we will have many more of these to enjoy with no tears when they are gone.

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That should do it for now. Have a great Thanksgiving.

 

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Finally February…What’s Next On The Agenda?

A few more weeks to go until we change our clocks once again and life starts looking a little brighter and much more fun in my eyes.

Typically by this time of year, I have already starting planning our summer excursions, booked some camp sites, and made numerous other plans to fill up our summer calendar. This year, however, has been a bit different…..I have done none of this. UGGGG! I have been, in all honesty, unmotivated since we returned from Tennessee to do any of this. Life has been chaos and I just can’t seem to catch a break long enough to even consider summer planning.

I have been keeping up with my pledge to try at least one new recipe a week for our family dinners. And so far, we have found some real winners. Like beef with pepperocino peppers in the slow cooker. The easiest recipe ever since you literally take your beef roast and lay it in the slow cooker. Dump the jar of pepperocinos with the juice over the roast. Add a shimmy shake of Worcestershire sauce and a tsp of beef bouillon to the mixture and cover and turn it on. Taaaadaaaa….6-8 hours later you shred it up and serve how you wish. I layered whole wheat rolls with cheese and baked them until they were melted. Then I added the meat and served it with a side salad. A complete meal, with little work and very tasty to end a long day.

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With February normally being the month I struggle with the most, so far it has been ok.I have been keeping busy thanks to many different things on my plate at one time. With a trip disaster in January to TN, I am still fighting with the airlines for refunds. I have made and have had plans with friends cancelled due to illnesses(on their end) numerous times. And I have been doing my best to keep a level head about some work issues that have been plaguing me.

I recently went to dinner with my brother to a restaurant I had not been to in at least 15 years and was happily surprised by the remodel job. The place was beautiful but the food was mediocre at best. Next month it is my turn to choose the restaurant and I think I might try Thai for the first time ever. I love that my brother has a broad sense of taste, since then we have many different options to choose from. Often, when I go out with my husband, it’s to the same three restaurants and even though its nice, I sometimes wish he was a bit more adventurous when it came to trying new things.

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February at the gym has significantly gotten less crowded. Normally by February I am so ready to be outside doing something active, however, this year I am not quite there yet. I am loving the gym and my time to do what I love. I have been concentrating on strengthening my abs and core along with my upper body again. Paddling season is not that far off and after taking it easy all last summer due to my abdominal surgery and the summer before due to my husbands disc herniation….this summer I plan to paddle as much as possible.

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We have a bunch of birthdays coming up in the next few weeks and no real plans as of yet to celebrate them. For mine, I am hoping to get a nice dinner out somewhere…..maybe Hibachi/Sushi….we shall see.

There is also an REI garage sale date coming up and unless there is a snowstorm that stops me from making this two hour drive to our nearest REI, I have the calendar marked and the gift cards are burning a hole in my pocket. On the list….a new pair of Keen hiking boots for yours truly. Mine have taken me many miles through Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Utah, Arkansas, and all over Wisconsin. I think it’s time to let them rest and break in a new pair.

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And come next month our clocks will once again be changing. Daylight will be longer, snow will begin to melt away leaving mud around every corner. And we will slowly start to venture back outside and start making memories again of times better spent somewhere other than in the four walls of our house. Ohhhh, how I wait patiently for this month to pass.

Let’s Relive Summer Mid Winter…..

Who’s feeling like they have had enough of winter? I know I am.

As I often do at this time of year I thought I would take a look back at summer and all the fun that was had by us all. Let’s just say it’s something a bit more brighter, a bit more fun, and a bit more cheerful than looking outside my window at everything covered in WINTER!!!

Join me will you….

The view from atop Oberg Mountain.

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Water, sunshine, and two great friends…who could ask for more?

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Simply relaxing;-)

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Catch of the day.

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Yoga outside…..priceless!

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My second home.

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Freezing cold Lake Superior in July.

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Disc golf anyone?

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The bluest water in Wisconsin.

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Roses….oh, how I miss stopping to smell the roses.

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Homemade fly swatter constructed while sitting next to the campfire.

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It’s coming, summer is right around the corner. If you keep repeating this to yourself like I do we will all survive this winter. You gotta believe….

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow….

Well, it’s here, 3.7 inches of the fluffy, white covering fell on Sunday and this meant life for me got a bit lot more depressing. I miss green grass, green leaves, and warmth. Suffering with seasonal depression is real everyone and it hits hard in our house when it begins to snow. However, as always, I hold my head high and try my best to stay positive….and by this I mean, I am positive that someday I will never have to endure another winter like WI winters again. Someday…..

So let’s talk about what does bring me happiness…like exercise. Here is what I did this week in the happiness department:

Sunday: 3.4 mile hike

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Monday: 3 mile mall walk…yes you read that correctly…..our first mall walking laps of the winter….ugggg!

Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing and abs with a short stretch session

Wednesday: 3 mile mall walk and floor weights routine at home

Thursday: 3 mile mall walk

Friday: rest

Saturday: 1.5 mile freezing cold hike(check out the temperature when we arrived at the trailhead)

gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing and my first attempt at the new addition to our gym….the Synergy 360 Circuit.

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This week was a bit odd. My husband hurt his shoulder so we swayed away from the gym most of the week and concentrated on walking instead. Mid week the stomach bug plagued one of my kiddos which meant some disinfecting at nap time instead of exercise for me. And then, near the end of the week we got a bit of unnerving family news that threw me for a loop which then made us change up our weekend plans. Add in the snow storm we are experiencing while I sit here and type….and well, let just say it’s a good week to have over with.

 

 

 

Big Changes Bring On Big Decisions

Gosh, I thought October flew by quickly but November has been even faster. It literally feels like just yesterday my family was vacationing in Arizona and now it’s mid November already. Alright, I admit, my Sedona tan is fading fast…..but I really don’t know what has happened to the first few days of November. Let’s catch up a bit on what’s been happening.

Wisconsin has seen some amazing temperatures so far this fall. Honestly, I am still going to the gym in shorts and not wearing sweatpants over the top of them. This is a miracle in itself. However, they say it’s on the way….you know that wonderful white stuff that covers every green surface I love so much….grass.

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Unlike my younger years when all my Christmas shopping was done by Thanksgiving and I spent the week of deer hunting wrapping while everyone was gone….I literally just started shopping this year. However, we really revamped the way we shop today compared to past years and I do not have many gifts to purchase at all. With very little contact with nieces and nephews it was time to make some big changes to the way we spend. Most will get gift cards and only the people we are close to get actual gifts. So it is much easier to shop today than it was when we had a bunch of gifts to purchase.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am as good as I am going to get. Let me explain a bit….January of this year(in case some of you missed it) I had major surgery. I was told it would take me a year to completely recover but without a doubt life has improved greatly. However, there are a few things that I have been trying to ignore, look past or really just try to get back to and simply can’t. Did I think 10 months ago laying there for weeks with so much pain that I would ever get back to normal….no not really…..but I am really trying to learn what my new normal is and I believe this next step will help. I have decided to sell my home gym weight machine. Now if you know me, this is a big decision. I LOVE to exercise!!! However, I have tried this machine numerous different ways and with much lighter weights than before surgery and everything I have tried causes me pain for at least two days afterwards. So then I back off, workout with different things for a few days all while this machine stares back at me and the guilt for not trying it again drives my crazy. So I do and again, two days of pain! I have discussed it with my doctor, I have done what they told me to do to try and remedy the issue and nothing is working. So I have decided to sell it to keep from torturing myself. I have to learn to live with my new normal and I can only hope this helps.

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As we approach Thanksgiving many people are planning to run/walk the Turkey Trot in our area on Thanksgiving morning. I however, am not into run/walks because, well, I am too cheap to pay the admission cost to walk on a street when I could do that right in my own neighborhood for free. Although, this did give me an idea and I approached a friend of mine who has given hiking a try and loves it and we are now planning to do a hike Thanksgiving morning together. Our plan is to hike a trail near us at a waterfowl preserve that is about 3.5 miles long. This should be a fun way to start a great Thanksgiving day and maybe we can make this a yearly tradition.

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I have also been experimenting with some new holiday warm drinks to take in a thermos on winter hikes. I came across one and tested it out this week and hit the jackpot. I even may make this for our Thanksgiving morning hike….it is so good!!!

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As for the next few months I am concentrating on just getting through the holidays. With Christmas parties planned, family get togethers planned, and hopefully a Christmas Day family hike somewhere, I just want to enjoy the next two months. January for me is when the seasonal depression really hits hard and I can only hope winter is not so rough….although everyone has told me the farmers almanac says its going to be a doozie this year. We also have some big plans coming up in January and possibly some big family decisions to make….but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet…..the rest of November and all of December come first.

 

Moments That Have Made Me Smile

It no secret that once autumn rolls around my mood is affected drastically by the thought of winter on its way. Having seasonal depression is rough but as of lately I have been enjoying the moments that bring me a smile.

Recently, I visited a festival with some friends and we saw some of the strangest art work I have ever seen. Imagine this on your back patio….

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Oh, how I wish I could have these bright, beautiful flowers around my home all winter long.

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I took a leap of faith a few weeks ago on our last visit to REI and bought a new pair of trail shoes. I have always been a KEEN lover but these Oboz were on sale and they had my size but they were out of my size in the KEEN style I liked. I tried them on and thought, why not. REI has the best return policy ever, so I knew if I ended up hating them I could always return them for a full refund. After wearing them for a few weeks, I am happy to report I am walking around with a smile on my face and my feet feel great. I am still sticking with my KEEN boots for the trail but for my everyday shoes, these will be just fine.

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In all honesty, this is not something that brought a smile to my face but it did give me a good laugh. While out with a few friends recently we came across a vendor selling chocolate dipped bacon. I like chocolate and I like bacon but mixed together….ahhhh, I was hesitant!!! Well, one friend bought a piece and we all tried a bite. For a whopppping $5 a slice (this is what made me laugh….are you kidding me….$5 A SLICE) I can honestly say it was not my thing. Way to sweet,way to much chocolate, and no way should bacon ever be combined with chocolate.

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However, as for these yummy little balls of chocolate….I would highly recommend them to anyone craving a chocolate treat that is actually healthy for you. These are sure to bring a smile to anyone that likes chocolate.

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And one last thing…..I often have moments throughout my day that bring me happiness caring for children on a daily basis. Yes, we have stressful moments, some meltdowns, and times of complete chaos….but….the genuine moments are the ones that I wish I could freeze in time. That innocence of ahhh and wonder in every child’s eye when they stand back and just take in what nature has to offer makes me smile. How precious life can be if everyone could experience it through a child’s eye.

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On the exercise side of life, steps have gotten quite a bit easier than when we first started training on these dreaded things. My hips, knees, and legs don’t ache for hours afterwards anymore like they used to. And I can say with a smile on my face, I actually think I may included these in our exercise routine even after our Sedona vacation is over with.

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What is something that has brought a smile to your face lately?

Do you suffer from seasonal depression?

How do you cope?

Getting Through The Winter Blahs

52 days from today we all get to change our clocks again. No matter what the calendar says….this is what marks the end of winter for me. More hours of sunshine is instant happiness for me. However, until that days arrives I often feel blah. It’s hard to cook, clean, work, and all around function some days. Although, somehow I do it, everyday! Which made me pay attention to what has been helping me get through these days of blah.

In the winter one of the biggest things I struggle with is feeling warm. I actually believe some of this is mental, because if everyone else is comfortable, why am I always cold? I have found a few solutions to help me with this issue. I eat a lot of soup. I would bet I eat soup at least 5 out of 7 days a week. Homemade, boxed or in a restaurant, it really doesn’t matter to me. I love soup.

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Another thing I have been experimenting with is hot tea. My son is a huge tea drinker which made me start trying some teas. He is into the loose leaf tea and has so many different flavors that I would not even know where to start. So I recently found some sample size tea and bought two different flavors. Both of which I am really enjoying on a daily basis. IMG_3300

One big thing that brings me joy anytime of year is my job. Daycare can be stressful, difficult and exhausting…..believe me, I have been there! Lately, however, the two boys that I have, who have grown up together since birth at our home, have turned into toddlers and have begun playing so nicely together. It’s great to just sit back and watch them figure things out on their own and work together.

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Winter for me is my time to get organized, clean, and sort through items we no longer want. Let’s face it, in the summer my weekends are spent paddling something somewhere and my weekdays are spent outside running through sprinklers or having water balloon fights, which means nothing inside gets done for months. But that’s ok, that’s what winter is for. Anyhow, I finally made an attempt to organize our food shelves upstairs. Ever since they changed from boxes to zipper bags in many food items, my shelves have been a disaster!!! Boxes used to line up nicely and stack beautifully. With the amount of food we consume between my family and the daycare children, I often will open the door to find a complete unorganized mess of zipper bags. Here is the before picture:

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So I bought a few vacuum seal containers to hold some of the food items that we use the most. I then organized and cleaned out this area. I plan to try this for a week or so and I will then go back for a few more containers if needed. So far it’s been a success. Here is the after picture:

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I would have to say by far the biggest thing that has changed this winter for me compared to others is that a group of friends and I have started going out for lunch once a month together. You may think once a month is minimal but this gives me something to look forward to every month. We have done it a few times so far and have plans in the making for the next month already. I am really loving this time and believe it is really helping me get though the worst of winter. IMG_1918

That’s how I have been trying to beat the winter blah feeling here in WI.

Tell me, have you found anything that works for you?

What is your hardest month to get through in the winter? (Mine is February)