the Christmas I let go

I was reading through some old blogs this morning, and came across my Christmas Manifesto from five years ago.

And I have to say that five years later, I still stand by it.

This year, I’m continuing my search for simplicity and sustainability. Shopping is done, though I keep having this niggling thought that there’s one more gift I need. The house is decorated…mostly. That mantle still isn’t totally done and it might not ever be. We’ll survive.  I have a few plans for baking. Friday night, when Tom and the kids head to Fresno, I’m having a wrapping party with myself. The only big thing left to tackle is cards.

Right now, there’s a Pooh bear as an angel with my Grammy’s Nativity and a Matchbox monster truck near baby Jesus.

I’m going with it.

I never thought I’d call the holidays relaxing, but somehow they are this year. Even with 19 people eating Thanksgiving dinner at our house, it was easy. Christmas seems to be following suit.

And I am taking a deep breath, letting go and enjoying the season.

There will be some hectic days – two Christmas services at two churches in two days – but this is a very good place to be.

Pooh bear angel and all.


five for friday: 08.17.12

five things that are making my life better right now…

This boy is back, and he says things like…

“Aunt Sam, it’s a good thing I came back. You need me! I smell things”
(while helping me cook)

“Oh, what a cute hamster”
(when looking at a picture of himself, of course)

“Finally! That’s where I’ve been sposed to be.”
(upon stepping on my scale and hearing that he weighs 38.4 pounds)

And this one started high school.

High school.

And so far, after one whole day, she’s loving it. All of her classes have at least one friend, she knows her schedule already and she’s excited.

She’s also the fifth generation in my family to attend DPHS, and I think that’s kind of amazing. Half of her teachers taught when I as there, though I never had any of them. And Aunt Carrie also happens to teach freshman English, and it’s just nice as a mama to know you’ve got someone watching out for them.

This one’s had a rough summer, after a rough year. He’s having some severe stomach issues – that he’s undergoing some extensive testing for – and some other stressors, and we made the decision last week to do virtul school with him. I’m not totally comfortable with the decision yet, but I know it’s what he needs right now. He’s been so sick since we moved back to California, and ultimately I know we need to find out why. His first day is a week from Monday, and he’s truly looking forward to school. After a long year of fighting to get him there each and every day, that’s enough.

Still loving Turbo Fire, almost seven weeks in. Also, loving my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor. And yes, that’s duct tape on the toes of my shoes – too much friction to do some of the turns and kicks without it. I’m a little frustrated that I’m still losing weight so slowly, but I can’t believe how much stronger I am and I know I’ve had some serious muscle development.

recipe here (big thumbs up from us)

And I’m still loving my paleo/primal/ancestral/anti-inflammatory way of eating, and considering another Whole30 soon. I love that I have energy and clarity of mind to deal with all of the craziness life throws at me. And seriously, if you’re interested in learning more about what it’s all about, please pick up a copy of Practical Paleo. Out of all of the books I’ve read on the subject – and there have been a lot – this one is just incredible. I wish it had been out a year ago when I started my own reading. Awesome recipes, solid info, infinitely adaptable…amazing.

What are you loving today?

And I promise – more regular blogging coming…soon. Still trying to get our new school year schedule figured out.


Waiting for summer to end.

And enjoying the bounty of peaches and plums and melons and squash.

Waiting to see what it’s really going to be like to pastor two churches.

We had our first two church Sunday this week, and it worked. The kids and I can’t make both churches every Sunday, and our primary commitment is to the first one…but I’m waiting to see what our involvement will look like.

The new church invited us for a barbecue Monday evening, and we began to fall in love with this little congregation in this church that is over 130 years old and includes – surprisingly – my Algebra 1 teacher from high school and another member that went to college many years ago with one of my favorite cousins.

God’s funny sometimes.


And then we’ll try taking gluten out too…because he is too much like me in so many ways.

Waiting for my assistant to come back when mom and dad go back to work.

He just makes my days sunnier.

Waiting to see if everything finally falls in place for me to go back to school.

And wondering how to make that work with everything else – family, homemaking, exercise, the assistant, church.

Waiting one more week, for summer break to end and the great unknown of high school and fifth grade to begin.

Praying for good experiences, good teachers, good friends.

Waiting for new schedules to shake themselves out.


5 things Friday: Turbo Fire

A few months ago, I stumbled across a blog post that talked about Turbo Fire, and it just sort of tucked itself away in my brain. It looked like fun, sure, but it also looked a little bit insane. There was just no way I could workout that hard.

Was there?

I’ve been looking for a workout I could love and stay consistent with for what feels like forever.

I like running, but only outside and only first thing in the morning…which doesn’t always work with my schedule or the weather. I like the elliptical…for about two days and then I’m bored out of my mind. I’ve tried different workout DVD’s…for years…and I last about a week before I’m itching for something new.

I still don’t know what made me order Turbo Fire a few weeks ago. I’d been starting to look for a DVD series that I could do here at home, knowing that school would be starting up again soon. One of my summer goals was to get into a sustainable workout routine that would survive the kids – and me – going back to school. I searched online, found Turbo Fire again, did some more research and one night in June finally pushed submit on my order.

And I love it. I do have a few difficulties – my inability to do roundhouse kicks, trying to navigate a high impact workout with sneakers and carpet (just call me Agador Spartacus), on occassion I do in fact punch myself in the face – but I wake up every morning excited about working out.

That’s big.

5 reasons why I’m in love with Turbo Fire:

  1. Once my order was processed, I was sent a link to a video online of the Fire Starter (beginner’s) workout. The DVD’s shipped quickly – in less than a week – but I was able to get started learning the moves and getting a solid workout immediately.
  2. 14 workouts on 10 DVD’s means I’m not getting bored. Other than the days I did the Fire Starter workout, every day of the week is different which means I’m staying engaged and my muscles are getting nice and confused. Some days, it’s a long cardio workout…others it’s a 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and others focus on sculpting or deep stretching. The DVD set came with a class schedule, and I’m following it explicitly…even when I don’t want to. I’m sure I’ll deviate at some point, but I’m committed for at least 12 weeks to do exactly what it tells me to.
  3. I like the trainer, Chalene Johnson. Actually, I really like the trainer – she’s upbeat, does every single move with you and is encouraging. I feel like I’m working out with friends, and if she says to kick two inches higher…well, I kick two inches higher. After three weeks of workouts, I still think she’s someone I’d like to hang out with.
  4. I do the Stretch 10 class, almost every day. It’s helping my flexibility but I think more importantly, it’s kept me from having lingering muscle pain and stiffness. Unlike other DVD’s that leave me unable to walk the day afterwards (coughcough30dayshredcoughcough), I’m working out harder than I ever have before and can do it again easily the next day.
  5. I’m seeing results. In the first two weeks, I was down nearly 4 inches. More importantly, I’m improving. Yoga poses are getting easier, my punches are getting faster and my flexibility is pretty impressive. Every day I feel stronger.
    And I don’t feel quite like dying at the end of workout anymore.

What’s your favorite workout right now?

Just a note: I’m not affiliated with Beachbody or Turbo Fire in any way – just a fan.

right now…06.12.12

  • School is officially out…and all those goals and plans and such I’ve been working on for summer?
    I might get to them in July.
    Our June is just ridiculous.
  • I have a hair appointment next week. I think. I’m totally amazed my hairdresser (who is the *best* I’ve ever had, by the way) still takes me. I either put my appointments in my calendar wrong or I forget them completely. I’ve never been so bad about appointments.
  • Back to exercise and back to eating properly. I’m using My Fitness Pal to track for a few weeks – not to count calories, but more to keep me from mindless eating and to make sure I’m getting as much veggies as I need.
    Fruits are not a problem. Well, maybe they are – it’s been a cherry, apricot, strawberry, blueberry and watermelon orgy around here lately and I know it’s adding up to way too much sugar for me.
  • We’ve got a new member of the family, in the form of a bright pink snake skin scoliosis brace.  The difference in braces since I was young is incredible and we’ve been told that if she wears it properly, Hanna can actually see improvement in her curvature. We’re all praying it works – one of my brothers and my sister both had surgery for it, and I’m praying Hanna doesn’t have to go through it.
  • VBS – for the first time in years, our little church is offering Vacation Bible School, and we’re all excited. I’d really appreciate your prayers – that the week goes smoothly and that we’d fill up with kids who’s lives can be touched by Jesus. We start decorating Friday, and we’re all excited.

What’s going on in your life right now?

five for friday: I was…

I was…

  • horribly, painfully shy as a child. Wouldn’t answer the phone. Wouldn’t ask for ketchup at McDonald’s. Found ways to hide during birthday parties. Was called stuck up for years simply because I was afraid to talk to anyone. I still have a bit of social anxiety and get tongue tied fairly easily, but it’s much better.
  • prone to nightmares as a child, and still have very vivid dreams. Most of my nightmares included our fish tank breaking during an earthquake – which has led to me not being a huge fan of aquariums and means I don’t go in water that isn’t chlorinated and in a pool
  • a band geek from 4th through 12th grades. I marched from 6th grade on and was co-caption of my high school flag team for a year and a half. Due to budget cuts, our district will no longer have any sort of music programs after this current school year. I can’t imagine a Bronco football game without the School Song and Fight Song after each touchdown and conversion, and it brought tears to my eyes to realize no one would play our Alma Mater at the end of the game.
  • not raised with in any sort of faith. We had children’s Bibles and watched The Ten Commandments every year (I still do), but I could probably count on one hand how many times I went to church on Sunday growing up. In some ways, I appreciate more that I came to know Jesus as an adult because I don’t take my faith or my relationship with Him for granted.
  • a failure at college. Several times, in fact. In part because of that social anxiety, but mostly because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. Now that I’m truly feeling called to go back to school to pursue some sort of nutrition degree, I find that I’m fighting that failure soundtrack.

Want to join me? I love this “I statements” challenge I came across on Becky Higgin’s blog and am going to blog through it over the next few Fridays. Blog your own “I was” and leave me a link, and join me next week for “I am”.

five for friday: you need to eat like a dinosaur

Rat on a Stick, done as burgers, served with Zucchini Latke buns. I’m calling them Red Curry burgers because I can’t handle that name. *shudder*

I’ve been reading the Paleo Parent’s blog religiously since I found it early last fall. In fact, it was Stacey’s success story that convinced to stop researching paleo and start eating paleo. Along the way, I’ve fallen in love with their focus on family friendly ancestral eating and how hard they work to share what they’ve learned. I appreciate that they work so hard to create paleo treats and kid-happy meals, knowing that it’s not easy for anyone – especially kids – to make this transition.

It was a given I was going to have to pick up a copy of their book Eat Like a Dinosaur as soon as it came out.

Teriyaki Jerky – why did it take us so long to start making our own jerky!

This is more than a cookbook. There’s a lot of solid information about going paleo. There’s a great storybook section for younger kids to help them understand why they eat differently than their friends (my 3 year old nephew was enthalled with the illustrations). And there are the recipes.

I love a good recipe.

Kale, Bacon and Olive Pie – Easy, fast to throw together, delicious.

Even more than that, I love a good recipe that I can take and make my own. Every recipe I’ve made so far from Eat Like a Dinosaur is one that’s given me ideas for ways I can adapt it.

Golden Nuggets and Zucchini Latkes – a new family favorite

Those zucchini latkes? I made them twice. In three days. Instead of sweet as the recipe directed, I went savory – replacing the honey and spices with minced onion and garlic and a pinch of vadouvan (they’re divine and a perfect pairing with my chicken and cauliflower curry). The kale, bacon and olive pie? Swap out those items for sausage, mushrooms and spinach, or Canadian Bacon and diced artichoke hearts.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – you won’t believe they’re actually paleo

The only recipe that I don’t intend to play with is the Chocolate Chip cookies…and that’s because they’re perfect. Seriously. Better than the best “regular” chocolate chip cookies. That recipe alone is worth the price of this cookbook.

I still have a huge list of recipes to try (50/50 bacon burgers and frozen waffles are high on that list), and I can’t wait to cook my way through the rest of this book.

And I’m hoping they’re planning a sequel!

five for friday: paleo reality bites

Hmmm…not reality bites as in reality bites…more as in a few quick thoughts…

  1. I continue to be excited and amazed by how good I feel when I eat paleo. I’m also surprised that for the first time in my life, I don’t wake up starving.
    I’ve always woken up with my stomach growing and have had to eat first thing. Now, I wake up and can take care of getting the kids off to school before enjoying a more leisurely breakfast.
    Stable blood sugar is a good thing, friends.
  2. I added up a guesstimate of all of the money I’ve spent over the years on Weight Watchers, online programs, diet books, even shots…and it was scary. All along, all  I ever needed more fat, more protein, more vegetables, along with less sugar, no grains, no processed. Real food.
    Good to know.
    And I’ll keep doing all I can to spread the word: you can lose weight and get healthy without counting calories or points, and while eating real food that tastes good.
    Even bacon.
  3. I only lost about 3 pounds in January, putting me back at where I was at the end of my Whole 30 (I dove head-first into some not-great holiday eating – trust me, a few pounds gained was nothing compared to how terrible I felt). Kind of disappointing, but I added up the inches I’ve lost in the past two years yesterday.
    In two years, I’ve lost 48.5 inches when I add up the 8 spots I measure.
    Holy cats.
    Nearly 10 inches from my waist alone. And about a third of that has been since I went paleo in September.
    I felt a lot better about that 3 pounds.
  4. I stopped my second Whole30 on about day 8 while I was watching my son make his lunch for school: cheese, saltines and an orange. I had a bit of a bit of a lightbulb moment that I need to work on what the rest of the family is eating, and it’s easier to do that if my eating is a little bit looser than what a Whole30 allows. I’m sure I’ll do another one (maybe summer?) but until then, there’s more important work for me to focus on.
  5. I’m doing Clean Eats in the Zoo’s 30 Day At-Home Cross Fit Challenge, in addition to a couch to 5 k trainer right now. For the first 3 or 4 months of eating paleo, I didn’t exercise.
    At all.
    I started back to the gym last month, and was just miserable there. I’m finding I really want to be outside and am surprised again by how much I like running. And how much I like strength training, especially my kettlebell workouts.

And a few quick goals for February – and hey, what do you know! They fit in with my 2012 goals too:

  • another 3 or 4 pounds and another 2 inches down would be awesome. 5 pounds would be even more awesome, but I know I’m building muscle with these workouts
  • 25 workouts – split between the challenge, running and the kettlebell
  • keep up with my daily devotional and prayer time

What are your Febrary goals?

five things friday: getting started with paleo

I’ve gotten quite a few questions over the past few months about what it means to follow a primal diet, and even more about how to get started.

The best description? That little black box up there. I did my version here, but I’ve been reading pretty extensively for the past few months. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to transition slowly or jump in feet first, but here are five of my favorite resources for getting started:

  1. Paleo Diet Lifestyle – simple, concise articles. Love their Paleo 101 – I think it was the first thing I stumbled on when I started searching. And while we don’t follow a strict paleo diet with all pastured meats and organic produce due to budget constraints, it was a huge help in getting me pointed in the right direction.
  2. Robb Wolf – his was the book I read that made it all click, and he continually puts out so much info it makes my head hurt. I think you could easily go paleo just off his FAQ’s page alone – love the shopping list, the quick start guide and the meal matrix.
  3. Balanced Bites – her FAQ’s page and her helpful Useful Guides are beyond compare. When I have a nutrition question and need the best (aka: easiest for me to understand) answer, this is one of the first places I look.
  4. Paleo Parents – I’ve mentioned before that Stacy’s before and after was the final push to convince me to go paleo, but what I really love is their family focused approach to paleo. They have so many great tips about how to make paleo eating a family way of life.
  5. The Food Lover’s Primal Palate – authors of my favorite cookbook ever, I love this blog. Love the recipes and I especially love this basic as basic can be What Is the Paleo Diet? from their book.

right now

Right now…it’s just a few days ’til Christmas.

The shopping is done

…except that we all need clothes for Christmas Eve.


Right now…Caleb is sick on the couch.


Strep, an ear infection aaaand the flu.

He’s an over-achiever.

Right now…I have six necklaces to make for Hanna’s friends.

Before tomorrow, I think.

I guess I’m an over-achiever, too.

Right now…I’m still surprised it’s cold for more than a day or two at a time.

Every morning, I walk outside and say, “Hey, it’s really cold out here.”

I seriously don’t know how to dress for cold weather.

Right now…I’m working on a menu plan for this week.

Lots of soups.

Maybe a roast in the crock pot.

Right now…I’m actually fairly caught up with my December Daily album.

I’m kind of excited about that – blog post sharing photos to come later this week.

Right now…I’m beyond excited about Project Life.

The products for Clementine are waiting under the tree, and I’ve got a little bucket started on Two Peas for some extras I want.

And I’ve only had to re-wrap it once.

Right now…the Christmas in our house is feeling just a bit cluttery.

I love that feeling when I take it all down in January.

It’s almost like I can breathe again.

Right now…I’m thinking about what my word for 2012 will be.

I have an idea.

There’s even a hymn to go along.

Right now…I’m feeling rather proud that I didn’t succomb to the cookies I helped my Mom bake yesterday.

Just a few spiced nuts and a nibble of English Toffee.

We won’t talk about how much sugar was in that nibble.

Right now…I’m thankful.

And inspired.

And frazzled.

And life is lovely.

What are you doing right now?