Friday, July 11, 2014

Head Above Water

I stopped writing here for a number of reasons. I felt like I didn't have anything to contribute. I was busy. I was writing in my own journal. I was super busy. I was sick. Then I became more busy.

Since May I have been trying desperately to just keep up. Let's see, there was:

Kids soccer three days a week
Finish teaching the school year
Train and run a quarter marathon
Plan and organize a summer math camp
Teach the summer math camp
Manage the kids and house while C traveled for three weeks
Take two online classes worth six semester hours
Meetings for Vacation Bible School
Organize Vacation Bible School registration and paperwork
Make the printouts for saint buttons for Vacation Bible School
Try not to let the nausea, indigestion and random pains from gallstones ruin my (and the kids') day

All of the above is done. Yet to finish:
Finish the paperwork for Vacation Bible School
Decorate for Vacation Bible School
Have surgery to remove that darned gallbladder

That will be done in the next few days! Then I can:
Recover from surgery
Get the transcript from the classes
Get my teaching license renewed
Organize the saint peg doll painting and exchange
Begin getting ready to teach a new class (7th grade math) this fall

I think it doesn't end. But this summer has been really, really hard so far. I'm looking forward to Monday because several of the big items will be done and I can relax. A little.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Update - All About Me

You thought I left, didn't you?

I'm speaking to the four people that apparently checked this blog today despite 7 months of inactivity. At least one from Asia and one from Europe. It's interesting what you learn from site statistics.

I often think of things to put here, but I'm barely keeping afloat the way it is. I managed to keep the kids' site going with only a couple months missed but something had to give and it was this blog. That's okay, I keep up with people just fine without this. But I do find it fun to go back and read old posts so I think I'll try to write out something every once in a while for future enjoyment.

For now, I'm working on a fancy shawl to donate to an auction. I'm also trying to paint 20+ wooden peg dolls as St. George for a saint exchange. I'm teaching part time again but no tutoring yet. I'm taking an online class for fun and need to take two more this winter to renew my teaching license. I'm training for a half-marathon which involves, shockingly, a lot of running.

Chris spent about 11 weeks this past summer in England. It's good to have him back but he's stressed with work, being a Boy Scout leader and soccer coach. He's still trying to catch up on projects around the house and we hope at some point to paint the front room.

And of course I have to take care of the kids. I'm sure you've read all about that at the other blog.

Yeah. There you go.
Look, I painted that mug!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Cupcake Cake with Wrapper

If you've read the post for Hannah's 1st birthday or are friends with me on Facebook, then you've seen the cake I made Hannah for her birthday. I invested in a Wilton cupcake cake pan with the intention of reusing for future birthdays and special events.

I was a little nervous using it for the first time because I had read reviews and suggestions for it and there was a problem with the sizes of the top and bottom being different and baking differently. I followed a recommendation to fill the bottom, bake it for 10 minutes and then fill the top and finish baking. Towards the end of the baking time I was concerned about the bottom being over baked. Then I was concerned that I didn't spray the sides well enough and they would stick. Both fears proved to be unfounded.

Then I became super adventurous by creating a wrapper for the cupcake out of candy melts. (I found these directions helpful.) I've never done anything like it and there was a serious possibility that it would crack or fall apart. I figured if that happened I would just use the buttercream icing to frost the sides or just leave the sides of the cupcake as cake.

Fortunately, it worked out really well. The top edge was a little uneven but I wasn't concerned. Chris nervously pointed out that the cupcake probably wouldn't fit into the candy wrapper since they were make in the same pan. I reassured him and said I had planned on trimming the cake to fit into the wrapper.

I was going to cover the big cupcake with rosettes made with my star tip, but it looked awful. I'll have to practice that one. I just smoothed down the rosettes and added three on the side. The rosettes did look great on the individual cupcakes. 

The one thing I would do differently is to possibly slice the base of the cupcake and add a layer of icing. Or I saw an example of hollowing out some of it and adding fruit. Yum! Otherwise, this worked out great and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to Fit Part 2

Back in July I wrote about wanting to lose weight and get healthy. Now that it's after the new year, I figured it was a good time to revisit the topic.

I spent the fall attempting to eat better and get exercise. I think I did a pretty good job at it. Food-wise, I made better choices during meals and watched my portion sizes. I think the best thing I did was eating a smaller dinner and not snacking before bed.

Exercise-wise, I was able to go out running a couple times a week. They weren't long runs but I did surprise myself with my first mile and half run. I wasn't fast but I could make it!

I also joined an adult soccer league on Friday nights. In the fall it was an outdoor league with games starting at 6:30. Chris joined in and the kids came along and played along the sidelines. The hardest part was that Hannah often needed held but the other ladies on the team were always happy to help. Between being out of shape and not playing soccer for maybe twenty years, it took some getting used to.

I mentioned joining Biggest Loser through Chris's work and I did do it. I actually did so well that I came in second place with 12.5 pounds lost for 7.33% weight lost. I was so close to winning! Okay, not really, the first place guy really had us all beat.

I did gain a couple pounds back, but I didn't stress about it. Then, over the holidays, I managed to lose more weight. About five more pounds! Over the holidays!

Now I'm kind of stuck. I would like to lose a little more but what I really want is to tone. So I talked with Chris and set up a I'm a Big Loser program. I made up that name myself because I'm just cool like that. I have ten weeks and would like to lose ten pounds and four inches off of my waist. I get a special prize if I can do that (it involves shopping for new clothes, because I will really need them if I make this goal).

This is a pretty ambitious goal for me. It would put me back into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I am talking before Xander. However, with it being winter, thus dark and cold, and with Chris working more I am not getting out to run. I am still playing soccer. It's indoor and I am loving it. I will have to post about it sometime. So I'm trying to motivate myself to do workout videos and lift weights in the basement. It's not my favorite but it's what I have available right now.

I've let the food slip a little but not horribly. I just need to remember to drink water and fill up on fruits and vegetables. When I do that I don't crave snacks and sweets as much. Chris and I being more organized about meal planning which is also a help to me.

I think the hardest part will be when Chris has to travel because he keeps me honest. When he is gone I tend to let things slide and to become more of a stress eater. Because, really, chocolate does make everything better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Making a Rainbow

For Josie's birthday (...way back in June...) we celebrated with a rainbow theme. It matched her sunny and bright personality. So after spending lots of time on Pinterest, I collected ideas and decided which to implement.

There was definitely a rainbow cake. I decided on a layered rainbow cake instead of a tie-dyed rainbow cake. Two things I wish I had done differently. I used 9" pans, I should have used 8" pans to make the layers just a little thicker. Then I should have used six similar bowls to split up the batter. I only used two at a time, and you can see how the bottom layers are thinner than the top.

It still tasted delicious and looked pretty awesome.

Instead of decorating the cake with icing, I made a pennant banner for Josie.  The sticks are skewers and the letters are just scrap paper glued to twine. It turned out so nice that it now resides on Josie's memory board.

I did not get pictures of the rest of the party but will share the details for fun.

I made rainbow Jello. While it wasn't difficulty, it was time consuming and a little bit ornery. Six layers of Jello will fill a 9"x13" casserole dish to capacity and it is surprisingly difficult to keep the liquid Jello from sloshing around, destroying the layer beneath or slopping over the edges. The two things I suggest for this are to wait a while between adding layers so it can firm up and pour the next layer over the back of a spoon so it doesn't create a hole where it pours in.

In the end, the rainbow Jello did look pretty cool in the clear casserole dish and everyone liked it despite six flavors getting mixed.

We put out a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. I didn't actually arrange anything in a rainbow, but the colors were there. The one comment about that is the snowman serving dish didn't really fit the theme but I appreciated someone setting out the food. 

We created a rainbow across the back yard with balloons hanging from twine. A combination of heat and balloons blown too big made most of them pop before the party even started. It looked really awesome when we first hung it up though.

And Xander helped me make favor bags for the kids. We just used brown lunch bags and drew on rainbows. I can't ever remember what all we put in them but I know it included Skittles (obviously).

And if you are interested, here is where I pinned my ideas.

Now to plan for Xander's birthday!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Fit

I mentioned before that, while in California, I really enjoyed going to the gym. It was nice for someone else to take care of Xander and Josie for an hour or two. I really enjoyed going to the BodyPump class and then relaxing in the hot tub. I didn't lose weight but definitely lost fat and gained muscle.

Then I had the double whammy of getting pregnant and moving back to Ohio. I actually did okay with the first trimester of pregnancy because I was still in California and still went to the gym. But as soon as we moved back the weight started piling on and the muscle slowly disappeared. By the end of the pregnancy I was definitely heavier than in either of the pregnancies before.

Hannah was born in February and I spent a few months in survival mode. I just wanted to get sleep and make sure all three kids were healthy.

But then summer hit. I was out of school and home with the kids all day. And I realized that almost none of my summer clothes fit. I could get away with it in the spring because I just wore exercise pants. I don't have a lot of exercise shorts and don't want to buy a lot of clothes that won't fit after I lose the extra weight.

So slowly I am making changes to get back into shape.

Eating has always been a big part of the problem. Pizza, Mountain Dew (although caffeine free) and ice cream are my favorites. And it wasn't uncommon to have casseroles covered in cheese with a side of garlic bread. So I've slowly worked on healthier meals, more water and smaller portions. Chris has been a big help with getting me to eat more salads. I almost enjoy them now! In fact, on my last cheat day I didn't enjoy the delivery pizza or fast food burger at all.

Exercise is harder because we have our little home gym of free weights but not cardio machines. Chris suggested going to a park and taking turns running while the kids play on the playground. It worked surprisingly well. Then we bought a smaller barbel for me to use with the weights so I could make my own BodyPump style routines. I miss having the instructor, other people (I feel driven to keep up with the people around me) and mirrors but doing it myself it better than nothing.

A few weeks ago Chris told me that people at his job were doing a Biggest Loser competition so I joined that. The idea of winning money for losing weight is definitely motivating. After two weigh-ins, I have been middle of the road, I'm losing weight consistently but not at a high rate. That just makes me want to try harder (Chris was worried I would just give up).

And finally, the biggest change is that I joined an adult soccer league. This was another suggestion by Chris (he is being super supportive). It's been 20+ years since I've played and I gave birth five months ago, so I expected to embarrass myself spectacularly. We've had two practices and I did trip and fall over nothing the first day. But I'm learning my strengths (defense!) and weaknesses (sprinting!) and I didn't even hurt much after the second practice (I limped and moaned for days after the first practice).

The first game is this Friday. I have the shin guards but still need cleats and a red shirt. I'll update here how the soccer season goes as well as the Biggest Loser.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Since it's May, let's talk about Christmas!

Can you tell that being pregnant and giving birth to my third child has taken up a lot of my spare time? I'm always thinking "Oh, I should blog about this," but it's all I can do to keep up the kids' blog (and even that is a stretch).

So, just to put up something after five months of inactivity, here are some of the things I did over Christmas! How's that for making up for lost time?

Handmade Barrettes
 For all the girls we know, I tried my hand at making barrettes. It took some searching to find the right size clips. I did have fun making these though I can't take credit for the Cinderella bow. It came assembled, I just glued it on the clip and wrapped ribbon around it. Since then I have made more barrettes and that necessitated making a barrette holder. I'll show those another time.

Window Pane Pretzel Treats
These treats seems to be growing in popularity due to being so easy to make and so easy to personalize. I ended up using regular Kisses, Hugs, Peppermint Hugs and Rolos. The peppermint seemed to be a bit much, I doubt I'll do those again. I couldn't find circle pretzels so made do with the waffle pretzels. They didn't work great because some of the chocolates didn't melt enough to stay stuck on. A word to the wise, white chocolate does melt faster than the milk chocolate, so make them in different batches. They were delicious and I like the M&Ms on top for a festive touch.
Blondies in a Jar
 For Xander's teachers (he insists he has five, two regular teachers, two aides and the librarian) and for relatives, we put together these Blondies in a Jar (sorry, I lost the link for the recipe we used). Chris was a big help putting these together. The kids tried to help too but mostly Chris just gave them chocolate chips to keep them quiet.

Grandma's recipe!
For a cookie exchange with the neighbors, I broke out the new cookie press.  It was the first time I tried making these and they turned out okay. I couldn't get the little icing bow on the wreaths like Grandma always did, so I gave up and just let them be.

Oatmeal Cream Pie Cupcakes
My Dad's birthday is close enough to the holidays to include this. Growing up, my Dad always h ad Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies around, so I just had to try this recipe. It was okay, but the cupcakes were way too dense. Next time (if there is a next time) I might make them filled cupcakes.

There you go, things I did five months ago!