Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend 2016

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. I know I sure don't deserve for Him to have given his life for me so that I can spend eternity in heaven, but that's a sacred gift that I receive, whether I deserve it or not. How's that for true love?

We were blessed with a very beautiful weather weekend!

We took our camper to the RV dealership Saturday morning to get it looked at and "tuned-up" for spring. I'm telling you, we're packing up and hauling out at the very first sign of a warm-ish and dry weekend!

Saturday afternoon, we took the boys to the easter egg hunt put on by our church. They had the kids split up into age groups. Hendrix's group was by far the largest, and those kids were fierce. He only came away with four eggs, but he wasn't too dejected. Jameson got about 14, I think.

We went back home after the hunt and played and relaxed.

Sunday morning, Matt had to fly out to Minneapolis for the week for work. He is helping bring on a small set of stores our company has acquired. So he didn't get to go to Easter service with us. So the kids and I went. It was so packed, in true Easter fashion, but that's ok.

The Easter Bunny brought kites for the kids, so after church, we had a quick lunch, then hopped in the car and drove about 45 minutes west to a secluded beach on Lake Michigan. It took us 51 weeks of living in Michigan, but we finally got to the beach!

 My co-worker had told me about this beach that's really un-crowded. It became very obvious as to why it's not crowded after about 1 flight of stairs up the dune. Ha.

At *almost* the top of the dune, there seemed to be a section of the stairs missing. Hendrix thought they might be buried, but I'm pretty sure they just weren't there. It was probably a 40-45 degree incline. We dug our feet and hands in that dune and scaled it. I expected Jameson to whine or struggle, I'll be darned if that sweet boy didn't just jump right in and climb. He was a rockstar.

We made it to the top of the dune, then descended down the 6+ flights of stairs to the actual beach. Then we laid and gasped for breath for 10 minutes. Ha! I'm kidding, but it was quite the workout!

 Hendrix's octopus kite was really easy to get going, but Jameson's rainbow delta was a bit trickier. We flew the kites for only 20 minutes or so, then Hendrix wanted to get close to the water. Then Jameson joined. Long story short, they ended up pretty wet. Ha! They had so much fun though, and it did my heart so much good to watch them play tag with the little Lake Michigan waves.

We hung out for about an hour and a half, then started the journey back up and over the dune to the car. Going back down the wall-o-sand that we scaled up on our way there was SO much easier! You basically slid down it, and it was awesome. Hendrix was actually doing somersaults down it.
(You can imagine the amount of sand we brought into our house when we got home.)

After the kids changed clothes and we cleaned up a bit, we decorated cookies, then I made pancakes and breakfast ham steaks for dinner. After dinner, we played a card game, and we were all in bed by 8:30!

I wish Matt could have joined us at the beach, but it was such a cool experience, and I know we will be going back, as soon as we can!

I'm now in survival mode for the next four days (Matt gets back Thursday evening). Here's a little look at my week:

* Today, leaving work early for the dentist, so I have to make up that hour of time.
* I only have tomorrow, basically, to make up that hour. But I can't stay at work too late, because I have to pick up the kids when Hendrix gets off the bus so I don't have to pay for after-school care.
* Wednesday, I've got offsite training for work from 8-5. I'm normally off work at 4, so I don't have a choice but to pay for after-school care on Wednesday.
* Each night when we get home (no gym for me this week), I need to take care of all the laundry so that we have clean clothes to pack for our mini road trip this weekend. As well as the dishes and general picking up so my house doesn't look like a tornado ran through it.
* I have to get myself a shirt made for Marvel Universe, Live that I'm surprising the kids with on Thursday night. I cut the heat transfer vinyl this morning, and I can hopefully iron it on tonight.
* I have to call and follow up on our tenants' rent payment. (Yes, it's the 28th and they haven't paid rent yet. I'll just leave that right there.)
* I need to call and order Jameson a new Dexcom transmitter, because we got the "Low Battery" message on his receiver yesterday. Hopefully that doesn't cost a black market kidney.
* I also need to call and make 4th of July camping reservations. (Not an emergency, but I don't want to wait until the last minute and have everything be full!)
* Wednesday evening I need to pack the car as much as possible, since Thursday evening will be spent with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and IronMan. (Ohmygoodness I'm excited.)

Sigh. I'm exhausted already.

BUT! It'll be worth it. We are heading to western Illinois this weekend to spend time with my mom and my grandma. It should be very enjoyable, and hopefully somewhat relaxing!

I hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Weekend Recap: February 19-21

We decided kind of last minute to make a trip down to Indiana this past weekend to visit our families. So glad we went! The temperature got up to 67 degrees on Saturday, and the skies were as clear and sunny as you could ask for. It was awesome!

We got to my parents' house around 7 on Friday evening, relaxed, and went to bed.

Saturday morning, we met Matt's family for breakfast at IHOP in Muncie. My plan was to eat lightly and keep it healthy, but that was a giant fail. I didn't go completely crazy though. I ordered 2 of the white chocolate raspberry pancakes with a side of bacon. However, the coffee was hitting the spot, as was the conversation, and I ended up drinking FOUR cups of coffee! (I have 1 cup a day on a regular basis.)



After breakfast, we headed back to my mom and dad's and spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside! We walked to the park twice, managed to swing by my niece's basketball practice, and then my dad cooked burgers and dogs on the grill. It was such an amazing day.




We were on the road before 8 and home before noon on Sunday. I snuck in a workout Sunday afternoon, then started feeling really blah later in the day. I'm now on day 4 of my second head cold in a month. Grr.

And after the lovely spring weather we had, we're currently getting pounded with a snow storm.

Spring is on the way though, and I'm holding on to that bit of positivity right now.

It was a great weekend, and I look forward to spending more time with the people I love this spring and summer!

Hope your weekend was fabulous and you're week has been good to you so far!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Baja Chicken Salad

I spend a good portion of my day on either Saturday or Sunday, preparing for the work week ahead. This involves making sure the kids have what they need for the week (backpacks, nap blankets, show and tell items, homework, etc), making sure I have enough workout clothes clean and ready to go, pre-packing 3 days worth of workout bags (because I only have 3 workout bags. HA!), but most importantly - and most time consuming - is food prep!

It's that time of year were so many people focus on healthy eating and getting back to the gym - and I'm no different! I've been either working out on my own or going to the gym faithfully for the last four years. I lost 30 pounds the year after Jameson was born, but I've slowly put it back on. I've continued working out, but my diet hasn't been on point at all!

I still like to think I'm living a pretty healthy lifestyle, but like anyone else, there is usually room for improvement. So, I'm focusing on cleaner eating. Not "Clean Eating." I feel like that's really exclusive, and I don't want to completely cut myself off from everything. But I'm not in my twenties anymore, and my metabolism is reminding me of that on a daily basis. Cleaner eating. This means less processed foods (not the unrealistic goal of no processed foods ever). More fruits and veggies. Lots of water. And continuing my same gym routine, doing my best to give 100% in my workouts.

I'm often extremely tired, no matter how much sleep I get, or how much I do during the day, so I'm hoping that fueling my body better and fueling it properly will help with my constant fatigue as well. (I'm going to see a doctor also - it's been quite a while since I've had a physical, and feel like that's an excellent move for a healthy 2016.)

I have eaten a lot of chicken for a long time, and it's still my favorite lean protein. But I do get tired of the same old grilled or roasted chicken. So this past weekend, I got creative!

I grilled a little over a pound of boneless skinless breasts, then once they cooled, I diced them into small pieces.

In a large bowl, I combined:
the diced chicken breast
1/4 c. plain, nonfat greek yogurt
2 Tbsp sour cream (full fat)
1 can of Baja corn
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed well)
a small amount of diced onion
lime juice to taste
cumin to taste
chili powder to taste
pinch of salt

I mixed it all together, then separated it into 6-1 cup portions. Then, I diced a head of iceberg lettuce and bagged it up as well.

All I have to do is grab a container of chicken salad and a baggie of lettuce and I've got lunch!
(This is FAR from all I eat during the day. I'm just focusing on my lunch entrée for the sake of this particular blog post.)

Also, your definition of "clean eating" is likely different than mine. I think clean eating is basically self-defined, and that's ok. But I do think that we can all agree that this fresh, homemade, meal is a whole lot healthier of a choice than a hot pocket, pizza rolls, or anything from a drive through.

Did you make any health and/or fitness resolutions? Please share!

Do you pack your lunch if you work? What kind of foods do you like to take to work?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

DIY Project: Grout and Caulk

You guys, I'm so excited to share this project with you!

We bought our house in April, and the only room that needed some love was our upstairs bathroom. The flooring was outdated, the cabinets were old and worn, and the shower was....well, a bit gross.

If you remember, our sweet little doggy helped us get the bathroom re-model started back in September.

The insurance claim process was long and drawn out. We were going to have the contractor replace the countertop and re-grout the shower while he was there, but we felt like we should save money where we could for the time being, and it ended up being the best choice we could have made, because our rental property in Ohio caught fire the very day after we made that decision. (No one was hurt and the house didn't burn down, just added another fun little homeowner's claim to our life.)

So. Once the claim was complete and we had new flooring and a fresh coat of paint on the door, we thought about calling the contractor back to do the shower for us. Because if I wanted any work done in the house, it was to get the grout redone.

As you can see below, what grout was there was dirty and dingy, and a lot of it was chipped off or missing completely. Definitely gave a sense of "ugh" upon climbing into the shower.

But we did some research and realized that we could do the work ourselves for around $100, and when all supplies were purchased, it ended up being right around $75. Quite a bit of savings versus having a contractor do it.

If you follow me on instagram, you might have seen this photo of me with some super hot goggles and a reciprocating saw in my hands! Holy moly, was the grout removal a MESSY job. Grout is this gritty paste when you put it on, but it dries hard like cement, and comes off in powder form. We'll be finding grout powder throughout the bedroom/bathroom hallway for months, I'm sure of it!

I spent a total of probably 4 hours removing grout. That's a complete guess. I didn't really keep a tally.

But seriously - how great does that look!? I turned to the old YouTube and Googles for advice and direction, got a little bit nervous, but just went with it, and I'm so glad I did! We easily saved a couple to a few hundred dollars by DIY-ing it, and it really wasn't that bad.
I put up a new shower curtain and got to use the shower this morning! (Shaving your legs in a stand-up shower is not pleasant, I must say.)

Matt put a fresh coat of paint on all of the cabinets and switched out the hardware so it's a little more up to date, and the bathroom looks great! We still need to change out the light fixture and frame out the mirror, but it's coming right along!

Have you ever fixed or re-done something like this in your own home?

Have any DIY disaster stories to share?

What about New Year's Eve - any upcoming plans??

Have a good one, friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My life is terribly exciting.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that I bought a deep freezer. It's funny the things that excite you as the years pass!

I have been wanting a deep freezer for a while now. We had one in Ohio, but it got left behind when we moved. The fridge/freezer that came in our house in Michigan is pretty small, and things have been falling out of the freezer at us when we open the door, but we don't really have $1,000 - $1,500 to spend on a new refrigerator right now.

Something I also bit the bullet on this past week was a Costco membership. I'd had a Sam's Club membership for several years, which came in handy for diapers and formula. But since we're past that phase of life (YAY!), I hadn't been going often enough to make the membership fee worth it.

However, we are on a pretty strict budget in 2016 in order to meet some big financial goals, so I'm trying something new: monthly grocery shopping. Dum dum dummmmmm.

I realize that not everything at these membership stores are a deal. I tend to break prices down to the unit to make sure I'm getting a better deal before I buy, and I've been doing some pricing research, and I'm very convinced that we can save the $4.60 per month in order to pay for the membership.

Something else I'm planning on doing in order to make life a little easier for myself on school mornings, is to do mass-baking days every couple months and bake up big batches of gluten free goodies such as muffins, pancakes, breads, pizza crusts, etc. Jameson takes a pastry of some kind to school three days a week (to match what his classmates are having as closely as possible), and obviously I don't have time to make something every week.

So this coming Friday (yeah, I realize it's Black Friday) is my first big grocery trip! It's going to be a bit of a slap in the face to spend almost an entire month's grocery budget in one trip, but I just have to remember that these groceries are going to last me almost five weeks, and focus on the savings!

I'll keep you posted on how it goes, along with my menu and grocery list planning process.

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving! Make sure to put your screens away and look your loved ones in the eyes as you converse with them this weekend. It means more than we might think to let people know that - even just in that moment - that they're important to us.

See you all soon!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Leaves. A lot of them.

This past weekend was pretty low key. Jameson had his (second to last!!!) soccer game, then we came home and rested. Then I went and got my hair trimmed and we went to the library.
Can you tell I got it trimmed? I don't like how it's longer in the middle and shorter on the sides, but I also don't want to just hack that longer part off completely. What's a girl to do?
Sunday, Matt had to work. I took the boys to church. Matt was home by the time we got home from church and after lunch, we tackled our leaf carpet in the back yard. I wish I would have taken a before picture. It was ridiculous.
We laid down a 8'x25' tarp that we had used in the garden and raked leaves onto it, then pulled the tarp out into the woods and dumped them. Matt had done about 4 tarp loads when I got out to help him, and I think we did 6 more together. The last few loads went on top of my garden so that the leaves can compost and enrich the soil for next spring.
The yard looked great when we were finished.
I walked to the shed to put the rakes away and stopped outside the shed door to look at the yard. These are the leaves that *still* need raked. We just did inside the fence. Tonight and tomorrow we are going to tackle these.
This is pretty much how I feel about that right now.
But, oh well! A leafless yard under the forthcoming snow means clean snowmen. Because who wants to roll up a big round snowman's belly and have it covered in dried, brown leaves?

Have a good week!






Ohio Trip.

As many of you know, when we moved from Ohio to South Dakota, we put our house on the market, and it sat without an offer for 9 months. We had someone inquire about renting it, we needed help with the mortgage, and someone moved in. She was a fantastic tenant. She paid her rent faithfully on time every month and took care of the place. But she moved out last march. *Cue giant sad face.*
Some people she knew that lived near her parents then moved in. Living 1,200 miles away from the house, we weren't as thorough, or even as picky, as we should have been, and we let them move in without references or rental history. (Long story short: Lesson learned.)
Anyway, we felt like we needed to get down to Ohio and check on the house. The inside of the house was dirty, but not falling in on itself or anything. The outside needs a full weekend worth of yard work, but again - nothing catastrophic.

The sunrise headed east on I-96 from Grand Rapids.
But driving three hours to Ohio wasn't just for the house. We stayed with our good friends that live just down the road from that house. We went to the pumpkin patch, carved pumpkins with the kids, and watched the Ohio State game and drank apple cider sangria! (Me, not the kids. Calm down.)
((Side note to college football fans: how about the ending to the Michigan/Michigan State game!?!))
I didn't get many pictures of the pumpkin patch because I just wanted the kids to be able to run and have fun. It was a fun little farm, but good grief was it ever cold!!

Jameson and I hung out in the goat tent for a while because it was a bit warmer.

After the pumpkin patch, the kids played for a little while and we had pizza for dinner. I'm not scared of any pizza topping (with the exception of mushrooms and anchovies) and tried pepperoni and banana pepper. I'd totally get down on that again - it was delicious!

After dinner we got to carving. Matt helped Jameson and I wanted to help Hendrix, but Mr. Independent wanted to carve his all by himself, so I helped the other little ones.

Apple Cider sangria. I made it with ginger brandy, but I think I'd like to add some caramel liquor to it the next time I make it. How good does that sound?

Jameson chose a green pumpkin. Because why wouldn't he?

This is what a Jack-O-Lantern face carved by a 5 year old looks like. It's awesome.

It's always great to spend time with family and friends, but it definitely makes for a long weekend of travel!
We were home this past weekend and we'll be home this coming weekend for Halloween, then we're headed to Indiana for an early Thanksgiving with family at my mom and dad's house. I cannot wait!
Hope you're all enjoying fall! It's slipping away much quicker than I'd like to admit.