Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Public Service Announcement: For the Holiday Season

The time of year is upon us where, at every turn, in every situation, it seems we are staring at either a savory casserole, a salty and/or chocolatey snack, or a sugar and butter laden pastry. Ahh, the holidays. 

Like it or not, they're here. I love the holidays, but as a "healthy lifestyler," they intimidate me. Self-control is tough for me, especially when it comes to food. I know I'm not alone here.  I'll get up at 4:30 AM every day and work out, but you set a plate of goodies in front of me, and it literally takes all I have to resist. 

I'm 100% in favor of rewarding myself with little "treats" once in a while.  But I also know that it becomes really easy to let those rewards become too frequent, or too large (and this is all my own opinion, of course).

So this holiday season, whether you're trying to live a healthy lifestyle or not, consider the feelings, goals, and situations of others. Consider that, regardless of what you see on the outside, there might be a whole lot more going on that you don't see. 

If someone around you is offered some kind of food, treat, cookie, snack, whatever (!!) and they respectfully decline,  PLEASE please please just accept their decline and move on. 

Believe me, it takes will power to decline deliciousness in any situation.  But it seems especially difficult during the holidays, when it seems that every occasion is considered to be special.

Maybe that person is trying to lose a few pounds. Perhaps they are trying to cut sugar out of their diet, whether they feel it benefits them, they are facing a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, or whatever reason they have. My point here is that we don't know why people are making the choices they are making. And guess what?? It. Doesn't. Matter. It's a thing called respect. 

So please, friends and readers. This holiday season, when you have the urge to tell someone,

 "Oh go ahead. You could use another cookie."
"One piece of pie isn't going to hurt you!"
"You could stand to gain a few pounds!"

Please {PLEASE} suppress that urge. Allow your family, friend, or loved one to make their decision, for whatever reason they choose to make it, without feeling any pressure or negativity from anyone. 
And with that, I hope everyone truly enjoys and cherishes every moment they have with loves ones in the upcoming weeks.  Hug, smile, laugh, and enjoy yourselves!

Tips for Family Travel: Packing and Managing the Chaos

I HATE packing a suitcase for trips.  I'm a pretty darn organized person.  I make a packing list weeks in advance.  I make a to-do list to ensure that all clothes are clean for our trip and we have everything we need ready to go.  But when it comes time to actually pack the suitcase, I think I'd rather have dental work done.
But's a necessary evil if you're going anywhere over night or longer.
My family of four (my husband, I, and our 4 and 2 year old boys) is heading east to visit with family during the holidays this year.  Plane tickets are expensive enough without having to pay for those checked bags now.  So I am bound and determined not to check more than one suitcase for all four of us - for a 6 day, 5 night trip.
Calm down, have a sip of coffee.  Here's the plan.
We will be staying in the homes of family members and friends, rather than in a hotel.  That being said, we'll have the use of their washing machines and dryers available to us.  We will wear the same outfits on the day we leave as we do on the day we come back.  You need comfortable clothing for travel anyway, right??
We will each pack two more outfits in the suitcase and wear them twice while we are there, doing a load of laundry mid-way through our trip so that we can wear them again.  I'm not in love with having to wear the same outfit twice, but hey - if it will save us $50 on a checked bag, I'm willing to suck it up and deal! (Can I get an amen, fellow frugal friends??)
I also plan on taking no more than two carry-on bags with us on the plane.  I recently flew to New York, and with so many people trying to cram everything into a carry-on bag rather than pay for a checked bag, there is usually little-to-no storage room on the plane and you end up having to gate-check your carry-on anyway.
We will take two backpacks with us that can be stored under the seats in front of us so that we don't have to worry about not being able to find space in the over-head compartments.
One of the carry-on backpacks will be for the kids.  It will contain books, toys, snacks, and other items necessary to keep them busy and engaged during the flights, along with diabetes medication/supplies and a change of clothes for my youngest who is still working on making it to the potty every time he has to go!
The second carry-on backpack will contain the items we need:  identification, boarding passes, money, phones.  It will also contain other things we don't need, but think we do: tablet, chargers, ear buds, etc.  My plan is for ONE person (cough*myself*cough) to remain in charge of this bag and all the contents in it.  This way, when we get ready to go through security and or board, we aren't shuffling around, trying to remember who has what boarding pass, or trying to figure out who has our cash when we're trying to grab a quick snack or drink on our way to the next gate.  Whenever we are done with the ID's or boarding passes, they are all handed back to the designated person for the next time we need them.  I feel this is imperative to remaining organized in an airport with a family of four.

While we are visiting, I'm going to keep all dirty laundry together, in an organized stack outside of the suitcase (I will bring a trash bag for this purpose) so that when it comes time to do our laundry, it's all in one place. 

I have asked my friends and family members to keep in mind that we are flying to see them and not driving.  I so appreciate the love my children receive from family, but they are always showered with entirely too many gifts.  Family has been advised that if it doesn't fit in our suitcase/bags when it's time to go home, it doesn't come home with us, and can be shipped at a later date!
I think my plan will keep us very organized, and with organization comes less stress, which is important when you're travelling at any time, but especially during the holidays.
Your turn readers:
Packing: Love it or hate it?
How do you pack "smartly" for a family?
Any awesome tips for managing all the chaos when traveling - whether by road or the airways?


Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Retail

With all the hubbub and heated sentiments surrounding retail stores being open on Thanksgiving Day, it's got me thinking.  I know: uh-oh.
From what I understand - and I try to avoid this particular discussion as much as possible - people are upset, stating that the retail employees need to be able to spend the holiday with their families, and their employers are robbing them of that.
Having worked at a grocery retailer for six years, I spent those six straight years missing Thanksgiving dinner, due to having to work.
But that was never a big deal.  No one ever stood up and complained that I, along with several of my co-workers, had to work on Thanksgiving Day.
I wasn't looking for that, by any means.  But it brings up the question - what's the difference between that and the "Black Friday" retailers having to work, now on Thanksgiving?
What - people need food???  Thanksgiving is on the same day every year - people know it's coming long before it arrives.  And if someone forgets a vital grocery item, or they open something that it's spoiled, and the grocery stores are closed, they'll go to the gas stations.
But you don't hear anyone complaining that gas station employees are working either.  Those guys even work on Christmas.  People have to be able to buy their booze and cigarettes, right?  But head out to get your kid a gaming system, or cool toy while they're highly discounted, and you're contributing to ruining someone's holiday, because they're being forced to sell it to you on that particular day.
I'm not looking to start any arguments.  But really, no matter what people are selling - what's the difference between Best Buy, Target, and the malls being open on Thanksgiving day, when no one seems to care or make a fuss about all the grocery and convenience store employees that are also working that day??
I don't know, just my two cents.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fitness Friday: You don't have to be rude.

One thing I've learned lately is this:
Anyone who is not on the healthy lifestyle train isn't going to understand what you're doing or why you're doing it.
I get a lot of grief when I say no to sweets (which I don't do 100% of the time, by the way) and I get a LOT of quizzical looks when people learn that my alarm goes off at 4:30 AM (earlier, some days) 5 days a week so that I can go to the gym before I start my day.
A few weeks ago, my co-worker had made cookies and was offering them to everyone in the office. I graciously declined, but he was insistent.  He had made them, and was convinced that I need to have one (or three).  He wouldn't take no for an answer.
While this is one of my biggest pet peeves (PEOPLE:  if someone says no to something, let it go!), I didn't want to be rude, so I took the cookie.  I placed it on my desk, thanked him, and we both went about our days.

Five minutes later, the cookie went in my trash can.  When he asked me later that day how it was, I told him it was good, thanked him, and declined when he offered me another cookie.
Was it "right" to lie?  Perhaps not.  But I feel like it would have been more rude for me to explain that I was working to achieve goals in the gym and that his sugar and butter-heavy cookies were the exact opposite of what my body needed.

Social situations can be really tricky when you're "dieting" or working to achieve goals with your body.  But the point it, people should respect what you're doing, and you don't always have to be rude or standoffish.  A little white lie such as the one I told in the cookie-situation never hurt anyone, in my opinion.

How do you deal with it when people won't take no for an answer?

Does this kind of thing happen to you often - whether fitness related or otherwise?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goal: Accomplished!

Today, in the gym, I accomplished a goal I've had for the last 10.5 months.
I completed my 401st mile of running for 2013! (My goal was 400.)
I wasn't sure if I'd make it or not, as I've been much more focused on weight training than I have been with cardio for the past few months, but I did it!
So excited!
Now, back to lifting heavy things after my rest day tomorrow. :)

Are you a goal setter?
Any fitness goals you had, or currently have, this year?
How about life goals in general?
What's your favorite workout?
Stay healthy, my friends!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hendrix!

Phillip Hendrix, my little turkey baby.
It's hard to believe that four years have passed already!
Hendrix is your typical, rambunctious little boy.  He loves running, jumping, and climbing whenever he can.  He's really into Star Wars, Ninjago (Lego's), and Beyblades right now.
He thinks he's hilarious when he talks about anything poop-related.  Our only rules regarding that are that we respect it if people ask him to stop, or don't like it, and no poop talk at the dinner table.  Other than that, it's all fun and games in my opinion!  We jokingly named him Philfart Hendrix Metz Poopopolis while driving to school last week.  I told him I had to run to Wal-Fart for groceries the other day and I thought he might pee his pants from laughing so hard.
His requested birthday meal this evening is chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese.
He'd love to stay up until 11 pm and sleep until 8 am every day if we let him.
He's learning letters and is constantly asking what words say.
He LOVES wrestling around on the living room floor with his dad and brother.  When you tickle him in just the right spot, his laugh is hilarious.
His smile will bring you to your knees.  That and his "kitty cat gray eyes," as I've always called them, make him just the most handsome man.



Happy birthday, Hendrix.  We love you to pieces!!! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend Festivities!

Friday evening, Matt went to a Rapid City Rush game with co-workers.  I got an invitation from a friend to meet her and her family at the indoor water park, so I hurried home, dug out swim trunks, and we went swimming for a few hours.  So fun!

This is Hendrix's good friend who is moving away in a couple weeks.

As far as my big guy's birthday party, I procrastinated, big time.  I ordered Hendrix' birthday cake on Thursday for his party on Saturday.  I purchased party favors on Saturday morning when I picked up the cake.  Sheesh, Steph. 
But regardless, he had an enjoyable birthday party, and we stuffed ourselves full of pizza and sugar, as every child should at a birthday party!

See those two white dots?  Those are from Jameson's fingers.  Hahaha.

Saturday evening, after everyone recovered from their post-party crash, we got festive and put up our Christmas décor!  This is the first year I've decorated so early, but the Christmas season always flies by way too fast, and with us going to be gone for a week of the holiday season, I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible.

Sunday, I spent some quality time with my sewing machine.  (We need to name her!  Suggestions?) We also watched football - duh - and just relaxed and enjoyed the day.

Did you do anything special and/or fun this past weekend?
Do you name special objects? 
What should we name my sewing machine?
When do you put up Christmas décor?


Friday, November 15, 2013

Fitness Friday - Vanity: Is it wrong?

I recently read an article coming down hard on workout enthusiasts, saying those people workout for vanity reasons.
I wish I could find the article to reference here.  I saw it on Facebook.  It was written by a fitness guru, mom of two.  If anyone knows what article I'm referring to, please let me know and I'll edit this post to include the link.
But it kind of set me off a little bit.  The author, a mother of two with an impeccable body, was coming down hard on people who she says workout for vanity reasons.  She went on to state that many people out there workout for health reasons, and to just be healthier - which I totally agree with, and I think that's great.
But she made those people who workout for vanity reasons sound like terrible narcissistic people.
My questions are: 
What's wrong with working out, simply to look better?
Why is it terrible to workout in order to lose some flab and look smoking hot in a bikini?
What's wrong with wanting to lose a couple percentage points of body fat and gain a few pounds of lean muscle in order to have chiseled arms and abs?
When I first started my weight-loss journey, I was around 155 pounds, and wanted to lose about 20 of those. 155 pounds is technically overweight for my height, and I wanted to get "in shape" so one flight of stairs wouldn't wind me.  But let's be honest - I wasn't happy with the way I looked and wanted to be smaller. Is there anything so terribly wrong with that?
Obviously, exercising for improving health problems such as heart issues, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, etc. is fantastic and I encourage and support everyone out there who is doing something to improve their health!!
But some of us want to look better.  Plain and simple.
What are your thoughts?
Is it "okay" to workout so you look better in tight pants, or a swim suit?
At what point does vanity become too much, when talking about working out/exercising?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rants & Ramblings: It's Baaaack!

I used to do a post every Thursday with random thoughts running around in my head, and it was fun!
Let me know if you guys love it or hate it, mmmkay?

Welcome to this week's edition of the random - and often unrelated - thoughts running around in my head! 
Never in a million years would I have guessed that my blog post from a couple weeks ago would go viral like it did.  Check out my big whirlwind adventure that particular post took me on!

My best friend's daughter turned three last week.  She had requested a superhero cape for her birthday and I got the honors of sewing it for her.  I made a little "plate" thingy in the front with her initial and the back is a blue and white polka dot silky fabric with floral binding around the edges.  Love it, and apparently so does she!

I've been listening to pop music lately, and sometimes that embarrasses me a little bit.  Hahaha.  But the songs I'm loving right now are: 
(That one's awesome to work out to!)
BTW, PitBill is my boyfriend.
Check out my post here about this Nikon D40 and weigh in with your opinion!
I'm trying to beef up my make-up collection a little bit.  I don't wear a lot of make-up, but I always wear it.  I won't leave the house without make-up on.  I recently purchased a set of make-up brushes from Amazon, and I'm so excited to use them!  Now, the next question is:  what make-up do you ladies out there wear and recommend?  Anything - eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss, whatever!  Aaaaand GO.
I've been wanting a pair workout leggings for a while now (my ratty, paint-splattered shorts have about seen their last day), and I managed to leave my lifting gloves at the gym last week.  I found new gloves for $6 and some simple, but cute capri leggings for $10 at TJ Maxx.  Yay!
That watch on my wrist is the Polar FT4 and I love love love it.  It was one of the best $60 investments I've ever made!

Happy Thursday, friends!  We've *alllllllmost* made it to the weekend again!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Camera - Advice Needed!

Alrighty, guys.  I need advice.
See this baby here?  These retail for around $850 on Amazon.  This is a Nikon D40 DSLR camera.
I have the opportunity to buy this camera - gently used from someone I know well - at a highly discounted price.
I have wanted to get a nice camera for a while for two main reasons:
1) I want good, quality pictures of my kids.  Both for myself and to give as gifts to family members.
2) My blog photos could definitely use some help!
I'm not really experienced with photography period, let alone a DSLR camera.  However, I'm already looking into some photography classes and doing research on how they work.
What I need from you, my cherished readers, are OPINIONS!
Do you have a fancy schmancy camera?
What model do you use?
Once you did your research, was a dslr hard to learn and use?
What *affordable* photo editing software do you use?
Do you think this is a great camera?
Thanks, friends!  Happy Wednesday!

Potty Training Regression: An Update

I posted a while back about Jameson having regressed with his potty training.

I am happy to report that he's doing much better now.

I may or may not have bribed him with a small treat if he made it home in the same pants he went to daycare with.  Judge me as you wish - it worked!

As soon as I walk in the door in the afternoons (Matt and the boys usually get home just before me), he always excitedly tells me "I didn't pee in my pants at school today!"

Another development since the last time I posted is that he now goes potty standing up, like a big boy!  That definitely helps now that it's winter and he's in long pants and shoes all the time.  It was annoying to have to remove a shoe so we could get one foot free to allow him to straddle the toilet seat.

Ahh, it's glamorous to be the mom of young ones.  Haha! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fox & Friends: Part Two

You can see part one of the Fox & Friends adventure here.

I got up at 6:15 on Saturday morning, which was 4:15 mountain time.  Ouch.
I took a long hot shower in hopes of calming my nerves!  Hendrix was starting to stir when I got out, so I turned on some cartoons for him while I got ready.

My very fashionable co-worker lent me this pretty, flowy pink shirt and the navy blazer to go on top.  I paired it with my knee-high brown boots and her lovely J. Crew necklace.  I curled my hair with my straightener as I usually do and did my make-up as well as I know how.  (Uber amateur, here!)

Our hotel was a block and a half from the Fox studio, and across the street from Radio City Music Hall.  I snapped a few pictures as we walked there.


1211 Avenue of the Americas - home of Fox Studios.  My previous co-workers in northwest Ohio should appreciate this address!!

In the green room.  Someone was completely unaffected by this whole ordeal!

Santa was on the show, and he stopped in the green room.  I was honestly a bit afraid that he would turn from Santa into a regular person, but he totally played the part for Hendrix in the greenroom and Hendrix told him he wanted a Nintendo DS for Christmas.

When it was time for our segment, we were led right outside the studio where they explained what we would be doing - sitting on the curvy couch.  We did a quick mic check, and then the cameras were rolling!
You can see a video of the interview here.
I stumbled a bit on the first question, but warmed up and I think the interview went well.  It was super quick!  Hendrix was having quite the time making faces in the monitor, from what I hear. :)

Our segment aired at 9:45, and we had our return flight to catch at 11:55 out of Newark.  The lady in the green room made sure our car was ready and waiting when we were done, so we literally walked out of the studio, grabbed our coats and suitcase and walked outside to the waiting car. 
I snapped one more picture as we (somewhat sadly) left New York City.
Hendrix took a nap for exactly 12 minutes on the way to the airport.  (He asked me later, "Mom, since I took a nap in the car, can I stay up late tonight?" Try again, mister.)

We made our flights back west with no troubles at all, and South Dakota welcomed us with cow-dotted fields and a gorgeous sunset.

Jameson was so excited when we walked in the door.  He ran up to Hendrix and gave him a huge hug, which completely melted my heart.  Then he spent the rest of the evening in my lap, which isn't unusual on a normal night, anyway.  What can I say, he's a momma's boy!

As you can see, the trip was incredibly quick, busy, and a whirlwind!  It was a great experience, though, and I'm very humbled and honored to have been asked onto the show.  Thanks, Fox & Friends, and thanks to all my real-life friends who offered support and kind words.
Now, I'm not even going to lie to you - I'm MORE than ready to fade right back into the background and live my quiet little life with my three gentlemen at home, blog about what I love, and hopefully keep my new followers happy!
Have a great Tuesday, friends!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fox & Friends: Part One

So, things got a teensy bit crazy on Thursday morning.
It all started with a text from my dad at 5:30 AM (my parents live in Indiana, so they're on eastern time, but they know I get up super early anyway).  One of his colleagues mentioned to him that they had heard my blog mentioned on Fox News, and he texted to tell me that.
I had gotten out of the shower and was doing my hair around 6:05 when my phone rang with an NYC area code.  I ignored it.  It rang again about 10 minutes later so I answered.
"Hi, this is Lee with Fox and Friends, are you familiar with our show?"
Um, what?!?
Long story short, she invited Hendrix and I to be interviewed on the show.  She first wanted us in Denver, but realized it was still an 8 hour car ride down there, so she did some research and ended up flying us to NYC to sit on the curvy couch with Clayton Morris!
So, travel arrangements were made, I talked to Matt and my boss about everything, and we headed out around 2 pm MST on Friday for a whirlwind NYC visit!
This is the little toy that got the whole thing started. 
At the Rapid City airport.  When did he get so big?!? 
He was having way too much fun on the moving walkways at the airports!
On the way to New York, we connected in Chicago O'Hare.  I've never connected there before, and we only had about 50 minutes to make our next flight, and we hadn't eaten.  We grabbed some McDonald's at Hendrix's request, and ate it quickly at the gate.
We arrived at Newark around 9:15, found our driver, and he took us to our hotel: The Muse in Times Square. 
I apologize for the lack of quality of these pictures.  But seriously, we were moving pretty much the whole time.  It was so busy.  I was snapping photos from inside the car.

The hotel room was so nice.  I was half scared to touch anything!

The views out of our 8th floor hotel room were so "New York!"
Huge pile of trash next to some kind of underground contraption that was shooting steam up onto the street level.
The exterior fire staircases were also very "New York" to little ole Midwestern me!

Hendrix was so teeny in our king size bed!
We were both hungry again, but for the life of me, I couldn't find any authentic New York pizza places that would deliver to our hotel.  Maybe I was going about it wrong, but we ended up ordering this buffalo mozzarella flatbread that was $30.
I didn't expect Hendrix to like it, but he ate 2 full pieces.
After filling our bellies, we both fell asleep quickly for the craziness that the next day held.
Part Two to come tomorrow!