Monday, October 26, 2015

We're Doing Alright

Fall Break. One of the 4 most glorious phrases a teacher can hear during the school year. The other three are Christmas Break, Spring Break, and Summer Break. Duh. I cannot even begin to explain how badly I needed this break from school. To say it's been a trying start would be an understatement. To try to explain would be impossible. It is what it is and I must learn how to effectively rally the troops (and myself) to make it to Thanksgiving and then Christmas. We've learned a lot and I have no doubt things will be a little more predictable, albeit eventful, nonetheless. While researching this morning, this window popped up. I snapped a pic because it seemed a pretty perfect reminder that I have the power to change things. Totally true.

Our lives are always eventful, with things filling most waking moments. From practices, to games and matches, meetings, classes, and just everyday stuff, we seem to always have some kind of thing to attend to each day. There have been few days off, including my beloved Sunday's. In the midst of all of the ridiculousness, October is suddenly coming to a close and I haven't the first fall decoration put out, fall pumpkins carved, or even my summer flowers put away for winter. October means baseball playoffs. Baseball playoffs that included my beloved Cubbies. In honor of the Cubs making the playoffs, Coach decided to join the "Fear the Beard" movement. It may have had something to do with me challenging him to not shave or cut his hair until the season started... In all the years we've been together he's never grown the beard longer than about 4 days. It's been 3 weeks., almost 4. I can't believe it's still on.

I don't even know him anymore ;)

And then he shaved this morning. Apparently the hair is starting to tickle his lip and is bothering him or something. Whatev. He lost. I win. Next subject lol

Road trips are great. Even long, 2 day road trips when everyone just wants to be there and the driver has pulled muscles in his neck (must be the extra weight of the beard). We were kind of excited to arrive at our destination. Can you tell? 

Coffee, tea, music. Let's go.

In all honesty though, we have had a pretty good time together. We all sat down at dinner together tonight. When I say sat down I mean the kids set the table, helped make supper, laughed, joked, interacted with everyone, and we all sat at the table together. At once. All 4 of us. We said Grace and the boys said please, thank you, may I be excused and everything. Then I mentioned we should sit down at our dining room table once a week for dinner, say on Sunday's, every week. They all agreed it would be nice. You read that correctly. They agreed it would be nice to sit and have a family dinner, just the four of us. Hold on while I sit for a second. Wait, what? Did I hear that correctly? My almost 16 year old is encouraging sit down dinners and asked to be excused? I may pass out. I think I need to lie down. 

Seriously.... Where did my kid go? They both genuinely want to spend time with us. Either one-on-one or as a whole group. It's unreal. I hear friends talk about their kids not wanting to even be in the same room and then I look at my guys and think to myself that I must be doing something right. We bought a selfie stick for goodness sake and played with it for like an hour this morning. My post by the end of the week may not be as happy as it is now but I'll take my chances. I feel pretty dog-gone blessed right now to have some pretty terrific guys. 

Happy Family <3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sweet Pepper and Sausage Pasta

The weather has turned cooler this week which has left me hungry and craving hearty foods. I opted for a pasta dish, partly because my boys are still working out after school in addition to putting in time outside in the field and are starving when they come in, and because I needed a good carb fix. Don't worry, I didn't go all out white flour pasta. That would just be silly. I found this quinoa pasta at the grocery that is both gluten free and pretty tasty. The link is for elbows, but I used penne. It's chewy and like al dente, but heartier like a whole grain pasta. It tastes like regular pasta, too. My boys ate it without complaint. They actually ate less of this than regular white pasta. That's always good!

The kale was a last minute touch. The peppers and onion just weren't enough with the sausage. It needed more. I had some fresh kale from the garden and knew that was the answer. Again, my boys ate it and my oldest gave me the "Mom of the year hug" as he likes to call it. I'll take it! It's filling, but incorporates your veggies, proteins and carbs all in one. Yes, the calorie count is a bit higher, coming in at 517 per serving. It also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day, if there's anything left!

Here's the run down.

1 package of sweet Italian turkey sausage, cut into bite size pieces
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped finely
4 kale leaves, washed and cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
olive oil
12 oz quinoa pasta
8-10 heirloom tomatoes, quartered
fresh basil (I used 3 leaves) chopped small
fresh parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. DON'T OVERCOOK! It turns into mush if you do.
While water is on to boil, add olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) to a non stick skillet and add onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until soft, but not translucent. Add sausage. Cook through. When sausage is almost completely cooked, add kale. Put lid on skillet and steam kale with veggies about 1 minute. Add drained pasta to sausage mixture. Then add tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added pepper but no salt to mine).

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 517
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 19 g30 %
Saturated Fat 5 g24 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 98 mg33 %
Sodium 620 mg26 %
Potassium 446 mg13 %
Total Carbohydrate 60 g20 %
Dietary Fiber 7 g28 %
Sugars 11 g
Protein 27 g54 %
Vitamin A53 %
Vitamin C118 %
Calcium8 %
Iron25 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Using Adversity to Fuel Your Goals

I spend a lot of time diffusing situations with kids; teaching them how to deal with people they don't like, telling them there will be people they don't get along with in jobs along the path of life. It's true- there are those people in life we don't see eye to eye and must work with despite the challenge. It's not easy. Often times it really sucks. You can't just make someone behave the way you wish. We tend to expect more from adults than children but those habits are formed when we are children. 

Then after a particularly crappy day, you get a phone call from a friend who gives you a completely different perspective on the situation.  And she makes you laugh. A lot. Then your kid comes in and says something that completely makes you swell with pride and love for his entire being. Then you realize you had something to do with his awesomeness. Yeah. Darn them. 

All of this had me thinking. I've worked really hard to surround myself with positive, uplifting people, yet, given the chance, there are those in my life I'd very willingly remove. I don't have the power to change the people, however, I do have the ability to change my responses to those people. I have the ability to change my routines to better deal with the stress of dealing with the negative situations and feelings. In fact, lately I've poured my energy outside of work into my diet and exercise (and maybe the Nutella jar...) and I'm finally see some progress in my fat loss. Channeling that energy into something bigger than myself- in this case working out my physical reaction to negative situations- led to big gains in my goals. I know if I don't workout and get the negative feelings out of my system my entire day will be negatively affected. What a powerful motivator! A co-worker and I have been using Beachbody On Demand workouts matching our moods- this week has been a lot of sculpting, weight bearing, and tougher cardio work with Body Beast, Hammer & Chisel, and P90X3 MMX and CVX workouts. I've followed up with several 4-5 mile runs- It's been a helluva week! Those days I go home absolutely exhausted and wake up ready to take on the next day. What an empowering feeling! 

Bottom line is this: We can't always control all of the negative influences in our lives, but we can change our responses to them. We choose how to let it affect us. Finding an outlet or some other positive (Read: not Nutella) coping mechanism can make all the difference in how we react to the negativity. We can choose the friends we spend time with outside of work. Ask them for help and words of encouragement. Enlist them in your workout group or positive support system. It's amazing what those positive forces can do to help cope with the not so pleasant. After all, the only behavior we can truly change is our own.