Friday, July 18, 2014

Seeking balance

As I approach the horizon to middle age, I sit and ponder my life. 

Using the Balance Your 7 website is a nice guide. What areas can I improve on, where do I find I have strengths? I know that overall I am a pretty happy, relatively "balanced" person. My mind could certainly be sharper, and I could foster my sense of community and spirituality a bit more, but I have decided to focus on work for this particular blog. 

As a college student and early twenty-something person I always envisioned myself working in a fast-paced environment, with lots of travel and new experiences. I did get the opportunity to work like this for many years, but then along came baby number one, and my corporate days were over. I never imagined myself as a stay-at-home mom, but now I have a hard time thinking of doing anything else! I consider myself very fortunate to be able to stay home and be with my kids, shuttling them to and fro. Lately though, I'm getting a severe itch to go back to the workforce. The problem is, I'm not sure into what capacity this would be! My skills are all rusty, and buried under so much dust, I'm not sure they exist any longer! So I've decided to write my ultimate job description and see if anyone is "hiring" Here goes:

Enthusiastic, well-seasoned individual seeks challenging new role in life. Job must include travel to wonderful locales, opportunity to sample the cuisine and tons of shopping. Willing to sacrifice some weekends. Will write about my experiences and shop for clients upon request. Can start immediately.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fur baby

I am one of those people, I will confess, who takes their dog to daycare! What, you may say? 

My husband certainly disagrees with this practice! He wonders why we have a dog, and then spend money on having him exercised by someone else! But I counter with all of the positives, he's being socialized with all types, he's getting over eight hours of exercise, and he LOVES it! 

Yes, it is costly, and I generally only bring him in the winter months. I have another confession (shocking, I know) I brought him last week just because he looked sad and a bit depressed. I brought his best friend Bob too, and they had a blast! He came home and slept for the rest of the day and half of the next as well. With all of the rain we have been having he hasn't been getting as much exercise as usual, and I want him to live forever! 

He's my special friend and such a wonderful member of our family, I'll do just about anything to keep him around longer. So while I know there are just as many pet mommies and daddies who spoil their fur babies just as much as I do, there are others shaking their heads. Well, the look on his face was worth it. And this may not tie directly into how I balance my seven facets of health, it does make me happy and bring a huge smile on my face to see my pooch happy and tired. So it lightens my spirits and helps me check one more thing off my to-do list for the day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Time is a strange creature. 

When you are young, you have all the time in the world. Just watch a kid stroll home from after school, not a care in the world, unaware of time. Summers used to feel like they stretched on endlessly, one hot afternoon after another, until, like magic, it was time to go back to school. 

You probably heard the saying a time or two as you got older how "time flies." Maybe it means time moves faster as you age. Well suddenly I'm that person and time seems to be melting away. I felt like I had all the time in the world, my kids would stay young, I would forever be far from "middle aged" and life was just ducky. 

Now I face the prospect that I have a child nearing the end of his time at grade school, and having to wear deodorant! My first babe now has feet the same size as mine and soon will surpass me in height. And if he ever ate veggies that would be sooner rather than later! I'm no longer looking forward to my thirties, they too will soon be a thing of the past. Thank God that 50 is the new 40! Ha. 

And time this summer, where oh where has it gone? June was all but a blur and then we welcomed another Fourth of July and oohed and ahhhed at yet another fireworks show. I'm still in denial that we are past the middle of the summer season. Heck, I just started wearing shorts like, last week! So Time, please oh please slow down just a little bit. 

Let us enjoy the brightness of a fresh-bloomed flower and the chirp of a baby bird. I want to ride on a roller coaster until I'm dizzy with laughter and eat a fresh ear of corn dripping with butter. My kids need to stay young and innocent just a bit longer, because this far from "middle-aged" mom needs them to! I'm not quite ready to talk about the remember whens, and the used to be's just yet. I want to embrace the now and soak up every moment before it too is gone.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A 'novel' summer

Well now that we are officially into the summer season, do you gravitate towards one type of reading material or another? 

Maybe you don't have time for books and can only peruse a magazine article. Is this the only time of year you can sit and devour a good novel, maybe while sitting on a beach or flying somewhere fun? Do you read a certain type of book this time of year, lighter hearted or maybe dark and stormy? 

I am always up for a good read, if I had my way my nose would be buried in a book more often than not. I have recently finished a great book that was perfect for anytime of year, but short enough to read on a quick vacation. It was titled Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Without giving much away, it tackled some pretty hefty life questions in a rather light hearted and uplifting way. She is a British author and the book has a sprinkling of British humor, truly enjoyable. 

I have also just finished The All-Girls Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flag. She is the same author who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. This is a fast, enjoyable read and part of it is set in Pulaski, Wisconsin. It's a book filled with large, enjoyable characters who make this a fun novel to page through. 

I am a bit behind the times but I am finally finishing the Divergent trilogy. It's a bit darker but filled with enough action to keep it interesting. I can only read so much about a dystopian society, but it does prove, if nothing else, entertaining. My kids are required to read a minimum of 20 minutes per day, either with us or on their own. So far this is working and with the idea that they can pick a new book at the library and keep it fresh, we are all happily reading our way through summer! If any of you readers out there have any must-read suggestions, please send them in! In the meantime, here are a few summer booklists to get you started.

A Plan for Your Summer Reading
Summer Books of 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Green thumb?

Those of you with a green thumb, raise! 

I will not be one to do that, I'm more of a garden/plant destroyer. Don't get me wrong, it isn't because I don't want or try to grow things, I think I'm just lacking in experience and general knowledge about how to go about keeping things green and healthy. But I am trying to change that. I have planted a few containers on our patio and so far so good. I've even "harvested" some rather tasty basil and dill and a few tomatoes are starting to grow. 

I am fortunate to have some very talented gardener friends, and we have the perfect spot set aside to add to these herbs, hopefully by next summer. They are going to help guide me in the planning and planting process! Yippee! 

We have participated in our local community garden, and have added weeding to our kids' responsibilities. It is so very important that they see how food is grown and participate in the process. I think we all gain such an appreciation for food and the work that goes into it. I will never forget the joy of picking a tomato fresh from the vine and eating it, warm and juicy. I have really enjoyed sending my kids out to pick some herbs for a salad or cut some lettuce and then they realize that it was growing right in our backyard. Even our son tried some. Success! So the next time I ask for a thumbs up to all who garden, maybe I can raise a partial thumb. At least I'm trying!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bread. Simple.

Bread. How I love thee. There are not many people who can claim otherwise, we are a society of bread lovers! Unfortunately bread can come with some issues. Maybe you are gluten intolerant and cannot indulge like others. Or you are cutting down on the carbs you eat, and have to restrict the amount you enjoy. 

Still bread remains such a simple food delight, especially in our household. Sure, if my kids had their way they would eat only white bread, with very little nutritional value. I buy only whole grain or whole wheat, but occasionally we eat some wonderful baguettes or a loaf of crusty French. I was recently introduced to a new method to baking this crusty delicacy. 

A baker in Brooklyn discovered a new way to make a simple loaf of this bread right in our own homes, without the need for fancy equipment or ingredients. Instead of keeping this to himself he went to the New York Times and shared for all to enjoy. My girlfriend hosted a dinner and prepared a loaf for our meal, and what a treat it was! The dough is prepared fourteen to twenty hours prior to baking, and left to rise on your countertop. Then it is baked in a dutch oven or heavy cast iron pan at a high heat for approximately sixty minutes. The result? A large loaf of crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, bread with just the perfect amount of a rich warm brown to color the outside. It was fabulous and we all indulged! 

The recipe is here, and I urge you to give it a try! If you yourself cannot eat this, it would make a great gift for all of your bread-loving friends! Take it from me, a non baker, even I can tackle this one with success. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Same body. New challenge.

The first of the seven in Balance Your 7 is body. 

As I age, this particular component seems to be taking on a mind of its own! I try to exercise on a regular basis, and as I reach closer to middle age, my metabolism is definitely not what it used to be. 

To combat this I've just started a new form of exercise called TRX training. It is commonly used by the military to train soldiers. Using bands suspended from the ceiling and using your own body weight, various exercises are performed. Sounds easy right? Ha, who would have thought your own body, that thing you are trying so hard to shape, could prove so challenging and resistant? Because of our schedules and the ages of our kids, I have found that I need to exercise early in the morning, or it never seems to happen. Lucky for me a local gym is offering early classes, and three times a week happens to be TRX! 

I am now into my second week, and if you see me out and about you may notice I'm walking rather stiff and sore, a TRX side effect! I hurt in places I never knew possible, and am loving every minute of it! The beauty of the class is you can tweak each exercise to fit your ability and level of difficulty. Within each exercise, different muscle groups are isolated and worked for approximately thirty seconds to a minute at a time. Our classes last for approximately 45 minutes, and time flies! 

I want the body I had when I was 22, before kids, able to eat and drink what I wanted without side effects. I know that is no longer possible and that particular vessel is long gone, so in the meantime I need to keep this body as healthy as possible. It helps to shake things up a bit, try new things and see just how far you can push yourself. This is a great, safe way to do that. Who knows, I may even see faint glimmers of that 22-year-old in there somewhere! I dare you to go out and try something new for yourself and whatever current body you have today! 

To read more about Gundersen Health's Balance Your 7, click here.
To read more about TRX, click here.