23 July 2014

Playing it Safe

First, let me say that I think I get far too much crafty credit. My friends think I am way more crafty than I am.

Second, I play it far too safe when it comes to crafting. I've always been this way. I can't remember ever drawing outside the lines, nor did I get creative with colors in my coloring books. The elephant was always gray. The tree was always green. No crazy purple pigs.

I shy away from things I have never done because I've never done them before. I buy the supplies and then get nervous.

I'm not one to be able to teach myself. I have a hard time following written directions and have not had great success with youtube videos.

I second-guess my talents and take very few creative risks.

I stick to what I know.

But, I am dying to be more creative. I would love to learn something new. Try something exciting - I might fail, but I also might be really good at it.

So, what is your craft of choice? For me, I make jewelry that I don't like wearing and I cross stitch because it's kind of hard to mess up, although I do and sometimes have to get creative, sometimes.

Are you local thinking "hey, I do something fun?" Will you teach me??

And do you play it safe like me? What can you do to challenge yourself creatively?

Last, would you like me to try a new craft and share on my blog? I'd be all up for a little accountability (and some funny pictures I'm sure).

18 July 2014

Another Bathroom Selfie and Thoughts on Aging

Do you ever look in the mirror and think, "wow, I'm gorgeous?" If you're like me for the last 29 years, the answer is "absolutely not."

Sure, there have been days where I thought "meh, not too bad," or "ok, I look good enough." But most of the time I put all my makeup on and I think "oh my gosh, I still look bad, what else can I put on my face?!"

Lately, though, I've been sort of thinking I'm kind of beautiful. Which is so funny, when you think about how much work I used to put into my appearance and how little effort I put in now.

I remember when I was first dating Kyle. We'd get ready to go to dinner with his family, and I'd spend so much time picking my outfit, straightening my hair, doing my makeup, applying lip gloss, but I don't think I was ever really satisfied with how I looked.

And today, well, I'm just going to say it. I think I'm aging pretty well.

My hair is so gray (who has time to go get it done?). Today my outfit consists of a jersey skirt that has an oil stain and a sweater from Goodwill that I'm pretty sure has a hole in it somewhere.

But, for some reason, I really feel beautiful lately.

Maybe beauty is manifesting through confidence. Through a satisfaction with what my body can do instead of what it does or does not look like. Maybe I'm more comfortable in my skin because I have people in my life who have seen me at my yuckiest and still really think I'm beautiful. Maybe it's because, when I look into my son's eyes, I see a reflection of the woman I've become.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3: 3-4

14 July 2014

Growing Things

This is the first year I've really gardened. I didn't grow up loving the outdoors. Correction: I loved the outdoors, I just hated bees more. I'm not allergic, I'm just really, really afraid.

The timing just wasn't right for Kyle to do our garden this year, so I took over and went a little crazy with the flower packets. Now we have flowers for days!

Our garden is mostly zinnias with a few other (straw flowers, marigolds, morning glories, nasturtium that I've pretty much all pulled out because they go crazy, and a few other varieties I don't remember).

I also planted zucchini, cucumber, and a few pepper plants, but they're not really doing too well. Mainly because they don't get much sunlight as the flowers are taking over. I can't bring myself to thin out flowers.

We have lots of tomato plants that grew out of the compost I used. We tried hard last year to grow tomatoes, but we really just grew squirrel food. This year I'm not trying and we have a ton!

There are pickling cucumbers growing up our fence (some are turning out great, others are these round browish yucky things...any ideas?).

And see that giant green monster of a plant? It's pumpkins. Growing out of our compost pile. We have the small decorative type, and we just picked a huge jack-o-lantern kind, in July. What are we supposed to do with it in July?

I've come along way regarding the outdoors. I used to stop breathing and run inside if I could hear a bee. This past weekend, I was cutting flowers and Kyle was staring at me. He could hardly believe I was picking flowers while the bees were active. I accidentally cut one that had a big bumbler on it.

I am no longer willing to let my fear of the sting keep me inside. I want to pass on a love of nature to  my children, not my fear of bugs.

Since starting to overcome my fear, I've spent most weekends outside, napped on the grass, eaten frequent meals on the deck, grown some pretty spectacular flowers, and have gone to bed with dirt in my nails, the best kind of manicure if you ask me.

03 July 2014

Run, Run, Run

I used to hate runners. I know that "hate" is a strong feeling, but I really did feel quite passionate about my dislike of the whole concept of running. Most of my friends have always been runners and they would talk about it and I would roll my eyes.

But I will tell you, I think they were on to something.

I completed day 2 of Couch to 5k last night, and I know it's not much, but really, it's more than I've ever done.

I've tried running on a treadmill before and it was a disaster - I am not made to run inside. Running outside has been amazing. The breeze, the birds, selling hello to neighbors, watching the changing scenery. It's inspiring, really. I try to spend some time while I'm walking (because I can barely breath when I'm running) to pray. I've been asking God for strength because I don't think I would be on this journey without Him. I ask him for confidence in trying new things. I ask Him to help me see myself the way He sees me - as a work of beauty, not perfect, but intentionally designed in His image.

I've been following along with the Made to Crave bible plan through the YouVersion app. It's been life-giving! It speaks directly to my dependence on food and has helped me see what dependence on Christ can look like instead of turning to food.

I went to a weight-lifting class last week (and am still so sore, but a good sore). One of the instructors, while we were struggling with the last few reps said to not give up, because this is where the change happens. So true. Change happens now, not in a few months or when you get around to it or after this or that. Change happens in the small choices we make every single day.

What is one small change that you can make today?

01 July 2014

Sam Selfies and a note about Toddler Tech Time

We try hard to limit Sams exposure to our phones with a few exceptions: when we are face timing with our family, I need just a few seconds to get something done, or, like the picture above shows, he finds it while I'm not looking.

My husband will be the first person to tell you that I leave my phone all over the place. Pretty much wherever I am when I finish a call or am done looking at something, I just put it down and walk away. The bathroom, Sam's changing table, on the washing machine, whatever.

So of course, Sam sometimes finds it and loves to talk to pretend he's talking to Nana and Pops pup, Jesse (the love of his life). Recently I've been finding about a hundred photos and movies that's he accidentally taken. Like his little foot on our living room rug.

It's so hard to balance technology time with little ones. I can give Sam my phone and buy a little time, but at what cost? It's a little scary how instinctual it all seems to be for little ones. Sam knows how to swipe the screen and push the button for Siri.

How do you manage the technology thing with your kids? Do you allow them to play with your phone or Ipad? What limits have you set for them? I'd love to hear what works well for your family.

30 June 2014

What are you drinking?

A huge part of my new mission has been to increase my water throughout the day. At first it was super hard (because it was a lot of water than I was used to and I spent a lot of time in the potty). But after a while it becomes a more natural part of your routine.

So, what am I drinking?

In the morning I usually have 1-2 cups of coffee. Typically it's just the usual cheap stuff out of the pot at work, but I recently made cold brew coffee and love it. I followed the Pioneer Woman's recipe (and cut it in half because it seriously makes a ton of coffee). I fill a mason jar with ice, then fill half with the coffee concentrate and top it with unsweetened almond milk. Have you tried almond milk? And coffee totally counts toward your water requirements. Just saying.

I've been getting a little tired of plain water, so I've added decaf green tea into the mix. The night before, I pour hot water in that jar and let it steep overnight in the fridge with two teabags. I take it to work in the morning and stick it in the fridge. I don't sweeten it (not a very sweet girl I guess). Fun fact, there are tons of benefits to drinking green tea each day.

Obviously. During my work day, I try to drink two Nalgenes worth of water (about 64 ounces). I like really cold water, so I fill it up when I get to work and pop it in the fridge. I try to have the first one done by around 3pm. I fill up again and take the rest on my drive home to finish in the car or with dinner. In addition to my trusty water bottle, I drink a full glass of water in the morning, usually one at dinner, and then water throughout and after my walk/run in the evening.

And what's been happening?

Like a race horse to be specific. I would say the first two weeks of being more intentional with my water I spent a lot of time in the potty, but my pee time has dropped a bit now that it's become a normal part of my day. Interested to know what your pee says about your health? I thought this was pretty interesting.

Ewww? More like awww! I 100% believe that drinking more water has been the ticket to improving my IBS symptoms (along with adding more yogurt, veggies, and flax to my diet). Healthy potty habits makes such a big difference (take it from me, I know!). When you're regular, your tummy feels better, your whole body feels better, and frankly, you're just happier!

I can tell a difference in the health of my skin now that I've upped the H20. It's healthier, glowier. My eczema flares haven't been as dramatic lately, either.

Here are a few more benefits of drinking water.

What am I limiting/not drinking?

I'm trying so hard to just let it go. It's gross and we don't need it.

I love juice, but the cheap stuff is full of yucky artificial crap and the good stuff is pricey and then I drink it all in one sitting.

I'm trying to limit alcohol to the weekends. I know that sounds funny, but during the week I really want to focus on working out and maintaining my energy levels. On the weekend I have a bit more time to relax and enjoy a glass of wine on the porch.

So, what can you do?

- Buy a water bottle you love and take it everywhere.
- Set water goals throughout the day.
- Limit other beverages like soda, juice, and alcohol and see them as treats, not the norm.
- If you love juice like me, put just a splash in a glass of ice water for a little flavor but not all the sugar.
- Set a reminder on your phone.
- Keep track in your planner.
- And sometimes, if I find it's getting into the evening and I haven't had much water, I just chug-a-lug and down a big glass or two.

Any advice on getting your 8 glasses a day?

26 June 2014

An Update

I feel like eating clean and whole foods is like a little secret - you don't realize just how amazing you will feel until you do it.

We all know that eating real food is good and processed food is bad, but for so long, it didn't matter. I knew it but I wasn't ready to admit it.

Well I've stumbled upon this life-changing secret, and I can tell you that a few weeks after I declared my mission to get healthy, I've honestly never felt better.

I think about food differently.
For so long I ate because I was bored, or emotional, stressed, or lonely. I rarely thought about the connection between what I ate and how I felt. Subconsciously I knew that my eating habits were zapping my energy, but I didn't know where to start making changes.

But then a switch flipped, and I started making one healthy choice per meal, and slowly I started to feel (and see) real differences.

Feeling better, feeling lighter, feeling more awake and energized, has been such good motivation to keep it up!

I think about food less often.
I thought about food all the time. At work, sitting in front of the computer, I thought about what I wanted to eat, talked myself in and out of grabbing something from the food court. I ran to Starbucks for a muffin because I didn't plan my lunch well.

I feel like all I thought about was food. What I wanted to eat, what I should eat, convincing myself I deserve a treat, convincing myself to restrain.

Surprisingly, now that I've cut out so much processed food and crap from my diet (and eating to sustain my energy and health, instead of emotional eating), I've now started to crave veggies at lunch, smoothies in the morning, good stuff. I don't feel like I'm denying myself anything.

I eat more food.
It is amazing how much food you eat when you start eating real food.

I used to bring such horrible lunches - I never knew what to pack, and my measly lunch left me hungry (and running to the vending machine or food court) a few hours later.

I've seen a great shift in my eating now that I take a few minutes to plan our my food for the day. I have a smoothie in the morning (or make oatmeal at work if I'm in a rush). Today for lunch I packed a slice of lean turkey and a slice of cheese, celery and peanut butter, and a tomato and cucumber salad for lunch, I had grapes for a mid-morning snack, and I'll have an apple around 3:30. If I spread my lunch out over the course of the day, I am so much more inclined to eat healthy and not crave junk come 4pm.

I feel stronger.
I feel so good. Truly. I feel stronger and lighter. Things fit better. I've been sleeping better (although I still hate waking up). I've had more energy. And, my favorite part, I think I've been happier. I sometimes struggle with finding joy throughout the day, but as I've been treating myself better, I think my perspective and attitude has shifted for the better.

I have a happy stomach.
Ok, seriously, this is so amazing. I have had major tummy troubles in the past - like not being able to leave the house for fear of being too far from a bathroom. My insides were constantly shifting between being so very sick to being so very stopped-up. This may seem gross to some, but to those who struggle with stomach issues, it can be debilitating.

Since shifting my diet, my stomach has been amazing. No more fear of eating away from home. No more sluggish stomach aches.

Next up...running.
Last night I did the first day of Couch to 5k. It was amazing. I ran through our neighborhood (so much better than on a treadmill) and loved being outside that I hardly noticed the time passing. I woke up actually looking forward to running today.

Wow, ok, so much good stuff happening. I haven't been this proud of myself in quite a while. I've been thinking a lot lately how I really do control the healthy habits of my family (organizing time exercising, grocery shopping, planning meals), and it's vital that I do the very best I can. This has been such an important realization for me as I walk this journey to a happier, healthier life.