Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adventurous in Eating

What do water chestnuts, crab legs, cabbage and cherries all have in common for the kids at the Weis household? They are just a few of the many new foods they tried during our 2010 Try New Foods Challenge.

The first three months began with us going through our huge checklist of new and different foods. There were so many to try! The kids were excited and on board. They loved casting their vote for each food (smile face, straight face and frown) and they tried with more zest and vigor then before. No longer did the "new food" sit there like a lone island on their plates.

The next few months proved to be a bit more a challenge and we needed to think outside the box. Themed dinners became common with the kids picking a country which helped us tailor our menus around what they ate in that country.

Then it was summertime and so began the wonderful farmer's markets with the array of fresh fruits and veggies. The kids discovered that they taste better fresh and it helps support our local farmers. We tried a hand at our own family garden and after much planning, tilling and planting we were only able to produce tomatoes and carrots. The chipmunks enjoyed the rest. We learned a lot and will try again next spring.

School began in the Fall and we faltered. Busy busy busy on all sorts of levels pushed this challenge to the back burner. In trying to teach more independence we posted a list on the fridge of "anytime snacks" they could get on their own when hungry. They made up the list of healthy choices and the hardest part was for me to keep things in stocked.

Megan and Lucy also proved an understanding of a well balanced meal and what would provide them with adequate energy throughout the day. They knew carbs from proteins and talked about it at great deal at meals.

Winter has rejuvenated us with the opening of Trader Joe's. A whole new variety is easily accessible to us and sadly and I would love to count the incredible Peppermint JoJo's (oreos) dipped in dark chocolate. mmmm.....

What will 2011 bring? Definitely a new set of goals, things to learn with the kids setting them this time!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Return From Wizarding World

Whew, what a whirlwind! There is so much to say and reflect upon, but I must begin with Harry Potter's Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida. Universal did it up right. Yes, it was crazy crowded, but we were in no hurry. We just wanted to take it all in and enjoy each moment.

Universal's Isle of Adventure has tons of rides, but we barely gave them a glance as we made our way to the pinnacle, Hogwarts Castle. The girls were absolutely giddy and it brought tears to my eyes to see such anticipation. They know the seven books by heart (proven to me by our game of "Who Said It?" of Harry Potter character quotes I had found online).

The girls wore their robes the entire day and spent just has much time having their pictures taken by strangers then by me. So this post isn't entirely too long, here is a breakdown of the hits:

The Forbidden Journey Ride: Absolutely Amazing (tears to eyes once again). The line takes you through Hogwarts Castle so you are enthralled at every turn. The kids went on the ride 3 times in a row (thank you, Child Swap) and were a part of running from Dementors, playing a Quidditch game and recklessly riding broomsticks. You actually feel like you are doing it all and the layout of the ride is made so you feel like you are the only one on it and the turns and bumps are choreographed perfectly.

Olivander's Wand Shop: Gets my only Bah. We went there first and still waited a half hour (longest wait for anything though). Olivander was grumpy during his wand selection show (and it was only 9:30 AM). I could just be sour grapes because he purposely slighted the girls, but the wand shop is truly remarkable.

Honeydukes Candy Shop and Zonko's Joke Shop: Incredibly cool. Lucy enjoyed a chocolate frog. They could have spent all day there.

Flight of Hippogriff: Max's favorite (but that may be because he was just barely tall enough and I think that it was only because he was standing on tiptoes, which was all his own idea. Should I be worried or proud?).

Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer:
Kids loved the juice more then the Butterbeer. The Pumpkin Juice was similar to a cider while the Butter Beer was like cream of soda pop.

The Details: Everything from Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom to the "grim" on the cups in the 3 Broomsticks. We loved the Talking Portraits in the castle and all of the surprises and details to those that truly know and love the books.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Harry Potter Here We Come!

The anticipation is building. We've read, renacted and will soon see it for real! Harry Potter's Wizarding World will unfold live in front of us in a few days

Oh yes, we plan on doing a few other things in Orlando such as Epcot, swimming, playing with Grandma and Grandpa and a worthwhile IT conference, but nothing can move forward until our three little wizards set foot in Hogwarts.

Even Dave and I are excited to see our children so united and to witness this magic unfold in front of them. Geesh, lucky kids; no one we know has been there, but also lucky parents to be able to do this with them. Their ages are full of magic and this is the time for it! Full recap on its way!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What to do with all that Halloween candy? Consume or Get Creative!

We are soon entering the biggest treat week of the year. Halloween. I love the rituals of parties and Trick or Treating, but the amount of candy the kids come home with is mountainous. I wish I had the willpower to keep it stashed away and bring out at opportune times, but that's not how it works for me. My willpower usually goes out the window around sweets. I know, I know...its for the kids...

...but so are these fun ideas of what to do with candy instead of consuming it!

1. Plan a visit from the Candy Fairy. After trick or treating, my kids pick out 12 of their favorites (they keep them and are free to eat them whenever they want). They leave the rest on the doorstep and voila, the next morning the candy fairy has left a much desired non consumable. This year it will be glittery purses for the girls for our big trip and a new Thomas train for Max.

2. Some dentist offices will pay $1 per pound for the candy. Great saves the kids' teeth and they make a little cash. We tried this last year and want to caution you a bit. The kids were so excited about this as they had big bags of candy. They left a little disappointed with their $2.00. Four pounds of candy seemed like so much!

3. Do some science tricks! We are especially excited about this one this year Check out candy experiments and see what you can do with chocolates and skittles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

25 Grocery Shopping Secrets

Take a look and see if you learn something new!

I agree with almost all and was happy to have more validation with#5 (Beat the Breakfast Blues). I am fortunate to be home with my kids most mornings and we usually have eggs/toast or oatmeal. I have found that it is generally more filling for them the cereal/PB toast routine they have on the mornings I teach.

Come to find out that by eating eggs, not only are they getting a more nutritious start to their day, but it is also 3x less expensive then cereal. Never looked at it at the way, but its nice to know that this particular "whole" food is less expensive then the processed.

Now, if only I can get them to love #25 (lentils). I even tried them BBQ style on Sunday and made them similar to a BBQ sandwich. Well...evidently not similar enough yet, but I am not giving up. I love 'em! Check out other grocery shopping secrets and surprises here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sharing Solutions

As my children get older, I sense a shift of parenting approaching. I don't want them to need the direct instruction on what they already know is right. When they were younger, they did need to be told exactly what was expected. That was how they learned... "Share with your sister." "Give your brother a turn."

Now, I really want my oldest children to just know what is the right thing and to internalize it themselves. That way they will gain independence with their choices and not begin to "tune out" a nagging mom (which we all know what eventually happens).

I tried a line the other day when Megan was having a hard time sharing with Lucy. Yes, I could make her share, but what is that really going to teach in the long run? Instead I said, "sharing must come from our hearts or else its not real sharing." Megan looked at me for a split second, returned playing and five minutes later asked Lucy is she would like a turn.

Not sure if it was internalized for eternity, but for once it didn't involve me being the mediator and we all ended up happy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Make Each Moment Count

Look what we found on a family walk out of town! A hopscotch painted on the sidewalk. Naturally, we had to let the kids jump right in!

We are all busy throughout the day, but one thing I have been working at is to make make an active effort to "be present" when I am with my kids. It can be easy to tune out as they are explaining in great detail where each Silly Bandz came from or an exact verbal layout of what is on their playground at school, but I realize how limited our time really is together. If time is short, it is all the more important to make the most of what you have.

I really do miss my kids when I am teaching or doing other things and am always absolutely in awe of how fast the days and weeks fly by. I absolutely can't wait to pick up my daughters at school. I love bringing them home, giving them a good snack and hearing all about their days. It is really one of the most enjoyable half hours of my day.

From there the day marches on with homework, chores and various activities, but we all had a reconnection time which everyone was an active part in.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cut Calories without even Noticing

My motto is that I rather cut them here or there then spend the extra time burning them!
78 Ways to cut fat calories from Your diet. Check it out here!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Savvy Shopper Alert

I remember seeing a list like this when I was younger about the best months to buy everything and thinking it was just brilliant for those who like to plan ahead, shop and save.

I like to think of myself as organized, but this is true organization to the max. Usually when I shop for these types of items it is on a "as needed basis," but now as I have found "the list" I could try to keep it in mind more. Check our the "best time to buy everything" list here!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top 10 Foods to Avoid Completely

In honor of 10-10-10...

Quick! How many can you name? Are you thinking anything fried, fatty and overly sugary? Check and see if you are right here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mother/Daughter + Camping = Back in Time

After school I am packing up my girls and heading out of town. Where? Camp Hantesa located in Boone, Iowa. Its a mother/daughter overnight and I don't know who is more excited, me or them.

# I get to spend time with my favorite "not so little anymore" girls
#2 The nostalgia is just getting to me! I went to camp there as a young girl, went on these overnights with my mom every spring and fall AND I was a camp counselor there in college. I just LOVE this kind of reminiscing stuff.

Bring on the bugs, night hikes and camp songs. We are prepared!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Easy Healthy Low Calorie Snack Ideas

Instead of chowing down on "fake health foods" Check out these healthy snack ideas. Yes, some take a little prep, but are definitely more filling and fueling to your body.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

7 Fake Health Foods

Hungry for a protein bar? Yep, there on the "fake health food" list. Like most "convenience foods" its all about label reading and not all protein bars are created equal. Sadly I read this after buying a months supply of Zone Protein bars at Costco. I did look at the label, but then the "marketing monster" got me and I thought, its "The Zone" bars...they have to be ok. In truth, there are candy bars that are better for you then these.

Check out more fake health foods here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

$10 gift card on birthday

Sign up for your local mall’s email club and you’ll get a $10 gift card for your birthday. They’ll send you an email and you just print it out and bring it to your local mall’s customer service desk to get a free $10 gift card.

I just signed up with Jordan Creek Town Center and will let you know in a few months.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Tire Swing Sets it Right

I have been a little reflective this week and I think it was only a matter of timing. I was feeling the pull of a hundred different directions and struggling with what I really wanted for my family. You get one chance to raise your kids and they only have one childhood.

I am not implying I have it all figured out, but at least I am aware and trying to be proactive in my thinking and actions. Helping families feel more connected and maximizing time spent together is what I am passionate about.

The kids haven't really done much with our swing set for over a year now. It is one of those signs that childhood is fleeting. For the past two months, I had been on mission to find a tire swing. Not just any old tire, but one that would hold all three kids and allow plenty of room for bumper cars and some high flying swinging.

Papa came to the rescue with an old tractor tire from his job (thank goodness for small farming communities) and we picked it up last night. Dave (and Max!) spent two hours cutting chains, drilling holes and assembling the swing. The rest of the afternoon? Spent swinging away. Everyone.

The shrieks and squeals wafting in from the open windows, let me know there is still plenty of childhood left...for all of us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

North Family Walks for NAMI

At the Weis household we are welcoming the weekend of boycotting all soccer/ softball games and will instead be exercising for a much different and much more important cause.

Its a 3 mile walk in memory of my sister, Becky, and to help raise awareness for mental illness. We jumped in with this last year and you can read about our fundraising efforts here.

This year The North's & Weis' took a different approach to fundraising and partnered with Pizza Ranch in Jefferson. The kids bussed tables, refilled drinks and washed dishes while raising almost $700 in one night. I was so proud of my kids, but knew that they didn't need compensation or recognition. They were happy just helping out and that they accomplished.

Here's to a beautiful walk tomorrow and the promises of the future!

Great American Cookie: Free Chocolate Chip Cookie today Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Friday! Ready for a treat? Stop by any Great American Cookie location today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to get a free Original Chocolate Chip Cookie.

You can also get a free cookie of your choice by stopping by anytime during the month of October and donating a new or gently-used book. All books collected will be donated to a local public library or charity. Limit one cookie per person per day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Caribou Coffee: Buy One, Get One Free (this weekend)

The crisp Fall weather has brought on the return of my coffee pot. I rarely drink coffee in the summer months, but absolutely LOVE it in the fall and winter. Now matter how I tweak my coffee preparations at home, it still doesn't taste like Caribous Carmel Northern Lite Latte (only 90 calories)!

Now, this will help get me through 4 soccer games this weekend. Print out your coupon for a free hot or cold drink at Caribou Coffee when you purchase another. This coupon is valid September 25-26, 2010.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Free American Girl Event on Saturday at Michael's

Take your American Girl lovin' girl to Michael’s on Saturday (September 25, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and they’ll make everything they need to throw a doll-sized American Girl party — All for free!

Oh, if only we didn't have four soccer games and a softball game on Saturday. This is definitely in the plans for if it rains. We have done their American Girl Events before and they have been worth it!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Worst Foods in America

This kind of stuff always intrigues me. What could they be? Is it something that I or my kids regularly eat? You know you have to look because how would you ever know?!

Whew...I knew there was a good reason we don't eat out that often. wow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

6 Secrets of Kids that Rarely Get Sick

I took Max into the doctor last week. He had developed a little rash on his neck and arm a few days prior. I tried the usual over the counter remedies with no help in clearing it up and knew I needed to turn to a professional for help. It turned out to be poison ivy (That was a first for me and my kids), but my whole point was not about that.

My Point being: We had not been to the doctor in over-a-year. We just haven't been sick (knock on wood). My kindergartner and second grader last year did not have a sick day all school year. I'm not saying that I have super duper healthy resilient-to-all-ailments kids, but we just don't get sick that often.

I am not a neurotic germaphobic, but we do take some simple easy precautions that help tip the scale in our favor.

*Everyone washes their hands immediately from coming home

*I don't let the kids get too worn down. If they are tired from a busy weekend, getting them to bed early is the #1 priority over everything else

*Overall we eat pretty healthy and follow an 80/20 rule. I always make sure they eat a healthy breakfast (never understanding how parents can send their kids to school with pop tarts in their tummy to start the day). After school, they have their sports and activities so it is usually a "mini healthy supper" that they eat before we all eat together again around 7 pm.

This works for us. Its easy and not rocket science. Read here for some other easy ways to prevent sickness from creeping into your house. One point I don't agree on is giving my kids the flu shot, but that is a whole other post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mimi’s Cafe: Buy One Breakfast, Get One Free

Once upon a time, I signed up for Mimi's Cafe e-mail club. I probably get a "deal" e-mailed to me every day; which is a little much. I don't know if their business is hurting, but thisdeal is pretty good and their breakfasts are super yummy so I feel better about passing it on.

I also love how its good all day tomorrow, September 21, 2010. Print your coupon here for a free breakfast at Mimi’s Cafe when you purchase another breakfast.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fat Fighting Foods

If you are going to eat, why not make it a food choice that fights fat while you digest?

Makes sense to me as I have fully embraced the 80/20 rule. Every day I eat 80% healthy and include a lot of these fat fighting foods. As I have said before life is short and I love to indulge and treat myself with food goodies. That is where the 20% comes in. Ok...sometimes that number is a bit higher, but 80/20 is so much easier to remember.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

34 Easy Secrets to Great Health

Shhh.....they are supposed to be secrets! Well, not really secrets, but things anyone can do to keep healthy. Read about them here and then do 'em. ;-)

I know, I know, easier said then done, but its always good to know...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Free Ice Cream at Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone Creamery will be holding their annual World’s Largest Ice Cream Social on September 30, 2010 from 5 to 8 p.m. Each person will receive a free 3-oz. cup of Kate’s Creation ice cream.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Easy Homemade Frapucinos

I love love love these and have one practically every afternoon when I need a little caffeine and chocolate pick me up. Best of all, they are so customizable! I have been varying it up a bit depending on what I feel like.

Here's the basic recipe. Let me know what you do differently!

*4-6 coffee ice cubes (see below)
1-2 TBSP sugar free Hershey's syrup
1 scoop protein powder (you could make it without, but I love protein powder!)
3/4 c. chocolate soy milk (you can use any kind of milk here, but I love my Silk Chocolate Soy milk!
1/2 c. water or 3-5 more ice cubes. Depending on how thick you want it!

Feel like a mocha? Add peanut butter!
Blend at high speed for a couple of minutes (this is what adds the frothiness that is famous for frappucinos.

Sometimes I freeze it for an hour and then dig in. Yum...just like ice cream!

*I love my coffee in the morning, but one cup is usually enough for me. I have been freezing my leftover coffee in ice cube trays. The frozen cubes are perfect for these frappucinos!

Want other ideas for protein powder? Check out the ideas here, here and here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Speedy Dinner Ideas

Back to school, soccer season and softball are in full force around here which means there is a practice or game every night except Wednesday. Not complaining here. Kids love it and Fall is great in Iowa for bee bopping around.

Dinner time as a family is so important to me that we eat together whatever time that may be. Last night was 7:30 pm and tomorrow will be 5 pm. The point is, time is sacred and I don't want to waste a second of it in the kithen thawing hamburger.

I am always on the lookout for nutrious and fast menu ideas and here is the latest slew I have come across. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Am I the last person on the planet to try P90X?

I've heard about the P90X workout now for over a year. It seems like every other person I know is installing a chin up bar in their basement and slapping down a few bucks for resistance bands. I was under the assumption that mucho equipment was needed for this workout, but evidently that is not the case.

Dave and I finally got a hold of a copy. We enjoyed previewing it the other night. Keep in the mind the word preview. It had a been a long busy day. No energy for a workout, but plenty o' energy for ice cream, peanuts and caramel while we viewed this new craze. Snack? Yum! P90X? Lots of possibilities...!

Of course, I would need to get over the cheesiest of the instructor, but doesn't every workout DVD have a somewhat overly enthusiastic instructor? Read more about P90X here and ask me about putting down the bowl of ice cream and giving it a good 90 day effort!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting Leggy

Longer. Leaner. Stronger. Legs!

I am kind of glad shorts season is departing and jeans weather is here. Here are the top ways to get your legs ready for 'em! I hope you are more motivated to do these on your own, I'm not, but if I happen to be in one of my exercise classes and we do them then its just fine. Something about group misery makes it more manageable!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The PechaKucha Craze hits Iowa!

Hailing from Japan, PechaKucha (Peh-cha kuh-cha) is the Japanese term for small talk or chit chat. How does it work? Speakers go before an audience one at a time to talk about anything they want. Anything at all. You have 20 slides timed at 20 seconds apiece. That equals a little over 6 minutes to enlighten the crowd on something that you deem worthy.

I love it!

Naturally, speakers are going to discuss things that they are interested in or consider themselves experts. It all kind of goes with my belief that you can't be an expert in everything, but you can know a little about lots of stuff. Think of the amount of things you would learn about in one evening!

Pecha Kucha debuts tonite in Des Moines at the Des Moines Social Club. I hope this craze is here to stay. Read more about Pecha Kucha here!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

20 Simple Stress Reducers

Who doesn't need a little bit of stress relief? I love how these stress reducers can be implemented right away. The last thing you want is to walk around super stressed. Not only is that no fun, but stress builds up cortisol in your body which leads to rapid weight gain around the mid section.

Take a deep breath and read on!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Dream Workout

Kettlebell Yoga! How cool would that be?! My love of yoga isn't anything new, but kettlebell workouts are something I have had my eye on for awhile. My gym won't invest in the kettlebells now, but c'mon even the YMCA has kettlebell classes. Read more here about how awesome this Yoga and Kettlebell option would be!

Once again I will look at this as an opprtunity...hmmmm...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Helping Haiti from the Heartland

Its Labor Day weekend and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it then spending some time not our ourselves. Lucy, Megan and I helped with Meals from the Heartland last year and I continue to be impressed by the organization, the volunteers and they way they really bring the trials of Haiti a lot closer to us.

Haiti has been ravaged by flooding, lack of food, clean water and numerous other ailments. Sure Haiti is halfway around the world, but to us it was right in our backyard. Meals from the Heartland organizers had video and pictures to show. This year a real tent city was set right up in Wells Fargo and we saw first hand the heart ache and devasation that they encounter every day.

Its heartbreaking. We invited some good friends to serve with us this year and for two hours, our four girls measure scooped, sealed and packaged 25 boxes. Each box held 35 meal packets, Each packet feeds 6. That's 5,250 people that can be fed from our two hours of "work." I don't know about you, but that was time well spent and we would gladly give more.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Free Living History Farms Tickets (and more!) with Museum Day


Mark your calendars! September 25, 2010 is National Museum Day and over 1,000 museums are offering free admission. Find a museum participating in your area here and then print your ticket for up to two free admissions here.

I have followed this for years, but have never taken advantage of it because we didn't have any museums participating in our area. That has changed this year! No matter that we have a dozen different directions to go that weekend. We WILL make time to head to one of our very favorite places Living History Farms!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tips to Boost Energy and Feel More Healthy

Who wouldn't want more energy? Its easy to become dependent on the morning coffee or the afternoon diet coke. I'm definitely not perfect, homemade frappuccinos have been my vice on these hot August afternoons. This is the best list I have seen out there that encompasses all of the natural elements of mind, spirit and body to achieve more energy. Check it out here!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Give TRX a Try!

I know I have professed my love for yoga many times, but I still love trying new workouts to keep the boredom at bay. Last week my gym offered trial sessions of TRX which is basically using your own body for resistance and strength building. Its sweeping the nation and people are loving it.

It was fun, it was different. Best of all, I was still sore three days after. A good kind of sore. Downside, there is a "more then it should be" cost involved if you take the class at my gym. This surprises me because I have never seen a workout with so few materials needed. There is just a suspension rope with handles. That's it. Even yoga and Pilates have more materials.

I am going to look at it a different way though. From a business or franchise stand point, this would be the thing to start. Little equipment needed, not much training involved to instruct. hmmm.....anyone looking to start a business?!

For the time being, I am thinking this will be thing that will fill this "urge" inside me...for now! ;-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Breakfast is the Best!

A bowl of cheerios with milk just ain't going to cut it! Its my favorite meal to eat of the day and its the most important. Your body lies dormant all night. Eating in the morning revs up your metabolism so you are burning calories all day. If you don't eat, your body stays dormant. Its the simple, but so important.

My mom is now onboard. Even my kids could tell you why eating a complete breakfast is so important. Still working on my husband, but thats because Diet Mountain Dew isn't a food group yet. ;-)

Read more here about why stuffing yourself at breakfast is the way to go! So Fuel that body up!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Picaboo: Free Large Hardcover Photo Book through Aug 31st, 2010

Now that I have mastered Picaboo's photo tools and options, I really like their site. I have used a lot of online photo book making sites, but this is now the favorite. They do have an online tutorial that I mistakenly thought I didn't need. Turns out, I probably would have saved myself quite a bit of time if I would have just listened through it. ;-) Sigh, isn't that how it goes!

I really do love online photo books! You can still position the pictures, write captions and chose backgrounds and borders. All without all of the messy endless supply of scrapbooking tools and materials. This is definitely my way to go!

Here is how to get your free book through August! You still pay for shipping, but at $8.99 its still a great deal!

*Go to Picaboo and enter your email address.

*Design a 20-page Photo Book.

*Use coupon code FREEBK at checkout and it should take off the price of the photo book and only charge you $8.99 for shipping.

Foods That Can Fix You!

Stressed? Upset stomach? Sleepless? I love the idea of curing common ailments naturally and with food! Check out here a list of common readily available foods and what they can treat!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bring on the Borsch!

We have found with our Try New Foods Challenge that it is helpful to pick a time period or a country. The kids have enjoyed the research and menu planning and we have found that helps everyone's zest for trying something new. So far we have eaten our way through Pioneer times, the Colonial era, the Depression and Germany.

Next up was Megan's choice and we voyaged on to Russia. After a quick Internet search Megan chose Borshch and Russian Tea Cakes for dessert. Have you ever tried Borshch? Neither has this family. It provided a wealth of new food choices with cabbage and beets being just two of the ingredients.

It was similar to a goulash and the kids liked it ok but the heartiest eater was Dave whom readily proclaimed it as one of his new favorites. I think it was because it included beer brisket which we don't have all that often.

The Russian Tea Cakes were a definite hit with everyone. The recipe is so easy and delicious. It really is hard to stop munching them!

Megan's after dinner activity pick was soccer, which was a great Russian choice. Megan and I vs Dave and Lucy (with all time side-switching goal-keeper Max).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ignite Your Calorie Burn

If you are going to take the time to work out, get the most bang for your buck. I don't want to spend any more time then I have to at the gym so here are some ways to make the most of your time and torch those calories.

A few tips include varying time between high intensity and low intensity. Those kind of interval workouts can be just as effective in 2o minutes then running at the same pace for 45 minutes.

Check out other great tips and ideas here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Urge is Back

It took two months off, but I am now feeling the desire to jump back in the saddle and begin training again. After the Hy-Vee Triathlon in June, I was ready for a break. There were a lot of components tied to that.

1. My body needed a break after following such a training schedule for five months.

2. The kids were home for the summer and I wanted to be able to run around with them and stay up late with smores and fireflies.

3. The teacher mentality in me just knows summer is more unstructured. I didn't want to have to set an alarm to get my work outs in. This didn't prevent me from still waking up at 5:30/6, but the point was, what if I did sleep in?! I wanted to be prepared!

4. By June was ready to take a break from swimming, biking and running. I had fun going to some fun classes at the gym and doing a bit more yoga, of course!

I indulged, I had my fill and I had my fun! What's next? Let me take some time to explore all of the possibilities and make some decisions. For the first time in two months, I want to do it and that feels good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fall Back into Routine

Does the upcoming Fall weather make you crave getting back into a routine again? If you would have asked me one week ago, if I was ready for back to school for the kids and myself, it would have been a flat out no. I love summer. I love having the kids home and being on a different sort of time table. We had our Big Summer To Do and we were happy.

This week was a bit different at our house. I purposefully left it wide open. Wide Open to Possibilities. I didn't want to plan, schedule or really have to be anywhere at a certain time. A highlight was one day where we decided we were going to the beach. The kids spent hours building sand castles and playing in the water. I had packed snacks and they ate when they wanted to and basically had free reign over their time.

The week was just what we needed. Enough unstructured time for impromptu fun and creativity but enough openness to make us all crave a little routine. Routine is just four days away with the start of school...