Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teaching Responsibility

A little over a week ago, Marcus left to spend a month working for my family. I'm missing him, he's homesick but what a great opportunity.

Growing up, I had a job. I worked at a burger joint I can't remember, McDonald's, Dairy Queen. I worked at a grocery store and as a waitress at another restaurant. I loved having my own money but sometimes I hated that my friends were out cruising on Friday while I was slaving.

Times have changed though and it's harder for our kids to find jobs. Unemployment is high and unfortunately jobs for teens can be scarce. So when Marc was asked to go work, we jumped on the opportunity.

He has a goal. He found a 1977 Ford Pickup that he wanted to buy. This job has allowed him to pay for it plus some extras (like a stereo as it didn't have one when he bought it). He'll have some gas money, some money for insurance, and the truck will be his. . . every dent, rust spot, and oil change:)

While I know it's a great thing for him, I'm struggling occassionally with feelings of guilt and worry.

I feel guilty that I couldn't buy him a truck. I feel guilty that he didn't get a nicer truck. I feel guilty that he's spending a month away, homesick, missing his friends, because my financial situation is a little tight and so an extra vehicle wasn't in the cards.

But then I remind myself...he'll take better care of it because he sweated and worked his butt off to pay for it. I remind myself I had to buy my own vehicle and I don't hate my parents because of it. It's also a great lesson in budgeting and financial matters. I won't get into it today but our country is in a world of hurt from overuse of credit cards, buying things we don't need and/or can't afford.

Then of course, there's the worry. He's up in the woods with my uncle and some other family members. What's he going to do without mom? The other day he left my mom's house and forgot his food. I worried non-stop about what he'd do. Did my uncle have food for him? Could my grandparents take him a sandwich? But then I reminded myself that he's 17 and in just two years, he'll be out of high school and on his own. Oh, I'll be there to help but I'm not going to be there every day to make sure he's eating. I can pretty much bet that he won't forget his food next time.

It's made me realize how much I do for the boys and has made me wonder if I'm doing too much. Funny thing...one of the bloggers I read just posted about this very thing (read it here).

When my kids are thirsty, I get them a drink and bring it to them.
When my kids are hungry, I hop up to get them something to eat.
I pack their bags for trips.
I make Nate's plate and sometimes Marc's.
I don't want to waste my precious time with them doing chores, so I do them when they're not around.

The kids are my life and I don't begrudge doing things for them, but reading the blog, thinking about Marc almost an adult, and I'm suddenly wondering if I'm doing a disservice. I see a few more chores in their future. I see some more responsibility. I see less waiting on my kids hand and foot.

Truth be told, you know me well enough to know I'll still do nearly anything for my kids and that won't change. But I do think a bit more responsibility is in order. And in that, I'll give them a great gift...responsibility, accountability, problem solving skills, and more!

Love my kids. And I'm very proud of Marc...he's toughing it out despite being homesick. He's working hard and doing a great job!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nate's 1st Kayak Trek

Last year, I fell in love with kayaking at first sight. My wonderful friend Mike Angeli took me out and I was hooked. I loved it so much that I have my kayak fund...a jar in which I put extra change and a few dollars to help me purchase one.

Since that trip, I've been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to take my sons. Nate loves the water and Marc loves the outdoors so I figure they're going to love it. Yesterday, thanks to the wonderful people at Roe Outfitters, I was able to take Nate! The wonderful people at Roe Outfitters did a fantastic job with Nate. Their guides (Logan and Rose) were patient and helpful. It probably didn't hurt that Nate hopped in and in no time was all over the river and lake. He never tipped over (although he did bump into a few others so thanks everyone for being so nice) but he did manage to take some water into the kayak, nothing a stop at the shore couldn't fix.

Here are a few photos:

Hey look! It's my only two blog readers - Stacy and Kim!! 

Look at that grin

My life vest is eating me alive! LOL
When Marc returns from working, I'm taking him! I think I need to buy three kayaks lol!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Weekend on a Budget - Swimming

A weekend on a budget is easy if your kid loves to swim! Here locally, we have a beautiful swimming pool - it's the Ella Redkey Pool. It's open year round. It's geothermally heated (which basically means it's heated by the energy stored in the earth I think). 

It's gorgeous. Blue clear water and a fun slide if your kid can pass the height test:
Nate at the top waiting to slide down

It has a grassy area with picnic tables if you bring your own food. In keeping with our budget theme, I packed PB&J sandwiches, apples, and potato chips plus I filled our water bottles. 

Nate takes a break from swimming

 There are no lounge chairs (much to my dismay). I chose to sit up in the "bleachers" and watch Nate while reading my book. The bleachers do have a cover over part if you choose to sit in the shade. I chose to sit in the sun....despite SPF 30, I'm burned. 
You can see the bleachers behind the kids.
The lifeguard challenged them to a cannonball contest -
biggest splash wins! 
This was a great way to spend our Saturday. Open swim was 11 to 2 and it cost us $6. My only gripe (and it's a small one) is that they charged me to get into the pool even though I wasn't swimming. 

Interesting note about the Ella Redkey: Having lived in Klamath for 9 years, I often hear that the pool was paid for by funds from a red-light district. I had to look that up though and it's "mostly false" according to the museum website. Most of the pool was paid for by a tax levy passed by voters in 1952. Two years later as the pool was nearing completion, the newspaper reported about the Civic Improvement Fund that had been collected by the city from houses of ill repute for about 4 years. Come to find out most of that money went to fund a jail but there were some dollars that went to the pool among other things. The pool was named for Ella Redkey, a widely respected youth leader who was the first manager of the pool. 

Interesting huh? 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

38 x 38 - 12 New Recipes (#2, #3, and #4)

I come from a long line of great cooks and I often (jokingly) blame them for my waist size.

Grandma Joyce
My maternal grandma ran a school kitchen back when food was made from scratch. They peeled potatoes, made the bread, stirred the soup....they did it all. Potato soup, the best homemade rolls you'll ever bite into, and fried elk steak with gravy......yummy! Grandma Joyce's food is all comfort and love.

I swear my paternal grandma was from the South although sadly, I'm not sure. She passed when I was a freshman (maybe a sophomore) and I hate to admit I didn't think to ask back then. There's some secrets that I'm not sure of but that's an entirely different story. But Grandma Carmen could cook the best fried chicken, potato salad, collard greens, and green beans with bacon that I've ever tasted.

My mom can make anything. I was one of those lucky kids who grew up with almost everything from
My mom in the middle at last year's fish dance
scratch. You wouldn't find a box of hamburger helper in our kitchen nor a boxed cake mix. We lived on a tight budget and my mom knew how to stretch it and still make great, delicious, healthy, nearly gourmet food.  Give my mom a bottle of cheap whiskey and she'll grill up the best drunk steak you've ever eaten (no my mom isn't drunk, the steak is!). Meatloaf is great for dinner but the next day for a sandwich....delicious. Pies, cakes, cookies....yes, mom does it all.

My dad and his wife

Then there's my dad who does all the cooking in his household. I've never seen my dad follow a recipe. Oh, he'll glance at one here and there but then he takes out this, adds in that, doubles this.....you get the picture. He cooks like me. His food is spicy...he lives in New Mexico and is definitely influenced by jalapenos, Hatch green chilies, and other flavors like cumin and chili powder. He's the one who could win Iron Chef - give him 10 ingredients that don't match and shouldn't taste good and he'll make it happen.

Which of course bring me to me. . . I consider myself a pretty darn good cook. I can follow a recipe and have it turn out. I also do like my dad and never follow a recipe exactly. Comfort food, spicy food, baked...I'm pretty good at it (except bread...I give up). I again jokingly blame my waist on this.

So now I'm learning to eat better (by the way, 30 lbs lost in just 7 weeks woot woot!). So I'm trying a lot of new recipes and I thought I'd share a few with you. These are delicious and pretty healthy (just try it!!)

Cauliflower Fried Rice
This was delicious and I found it on....you guessed it, Pinterest. It was delicious. I liked it alot but I will say it's not EXACTLY like rice. I couldn't fool my kids with it. 

- 3 cups of grated raw cauliflower (use a cheese grater or food processor)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites) scrambled
- 3 TBSP soy sauce
1. In a large pan, saute garlic and onions in olive oil on a medium/high heat, until onions become soft and transparent. (about 2-3 minutes)
2. Next add in peas, and carrots and cook until carrots begin to soften and peas are heated through, about three to four minutes
3. Next stir in scrambled eggs , cauliflower and soy sauce. Cook stirring frequently for about 5-7 more minutes. 

Chickpea and Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil 
I tried this a while back (before the diet) and it was soooo super yummy I can't wait to have it again. 
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • About 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 25 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey (10g)
  • pinch of salt
Toss all ingredients together and chill for at least 20 minutes, allowing all the flavors to merge.

This recipe boasts that it's the best marinade for chicken ever and after trying it, I might just agree! It's sooo delicious! A couple of my own notes: the recipe called for bone-in, I used boneless because it's what I had, the recipe says marinate overnight but I only had two hours, and I added garlic (see I'm my dad). Oh and I made my chicken into kabobs with lots of veggies. 

¼ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup white wine, nothing fancy (I used chardonnay)
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
In a blender, combine the grapeseed oil, soy sauce and white wine, Italian seasoning and paprika. Blend on high until your marinade looks creamy and well combined. 
In a zip lock bag, place all chicken pieces and pour the marinade in. Massage it around so that all of the chicken is coated with marinade. Seal the bag and marinate overnight. Now grill

I highly recommend all three! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend on a Budget - Spring Creek and the Hatchery

I love the first part of summer! Everything in our area is still green, it's not too hot, and the heat is refreshing after a cold winter/spring. This weekend was the perfect reminder of everything I love about summer.

I was on a mission to be relaxed this weekend. Friday night, we all sat around and watched a movie together:

  •  Warm Bodies - a different zombie movie than the most. My review? Pretty good but really only if you watch Zombie movies to catch all the references. Unfortunately I think Nate was pretty bored. 
  • Identify Thief - Much better than I expected. I laughed a lot (exactly what I needed). Melissa McCarthy cracks me up (loved her when she hosted SNL last time) and she delivered this time too. I was a little surprised by how crude she was. But if you're up for a laugh, I think it's worth watching. 
Saturday, we sat around doing nothing. Yep, that's pretty much it. Watched tv, cleaned house, boring stuff. I loved it but by Sunday I was ready to get out. 

The View from the Klamath Hatchery
So we headed north to the Klamath Hatchery. I'm surprised that as fishing crazy as my sons are, that I haven't taken them here before. It was beautifully set in amongst a ton of trees. 

Marc and Nate feed the fish

The boys were thrilled with how many trout there were and how big they are. For 25 cents, you can get a handful of food to feed the fish. They had several concrete stations for the "little" fish and then some viewing areas for the "HUGE" fish. Marc was wishing it was open for fishing.

They have bat houses too (don't worry - we didn't actually see any bats). But as we walked past the shed and I realized what it said, I pointed it out to Marc (see below). He jumped about a mile high (I think you can see him jumping out of the way in this photo haha).

We left there and went to Spring Creek, just past Collier Logging Museum. We didn't actually visit the logging museum this time so we'll save that review for another day.

Spring Creek however is absolutely breathtaking. The water is so perfectly clear, there were very few people, the day use had many many benches and picnic tables, and it was very clean. We didn't catch a darn thing but Marc sure tried.
Marcus fishes Spring Creek
 The water is so clear and so blue at this point in the river.
Spring Creek 
Spring Creek from the bridge
 Nate wasn't in the mood to fish so he decided to swim. I tried explaining it would be freezing (it's a spring after all and not a "hot" one) but this boy lives to swim so he jumped in. Notice his little body tense as he hurries to get out!
Nate takes a dip in Spring Creek
 Then it was back to our house. Nate loves riding his bike so he spent the evening riding his bike and we took the dog for a walk. Is there anything that says summer more than kids out in the street on their bikes?

A great start to summer. My weekend on a budget total - $2.25 (if you don't count gas). We went about 40 miles total. I filled up our water bottles and took snacks from home. The $2.25 was for fish food. A great way to spend a Sunday!

Friday, June 7, 2013

6 weeks, 27 lbs, 16 inches!

Six weeks ago yesterday, I was stressed out, had no energy, and didn't like what I saw when I looked in the mirror. My clothes were tight, nothing was comfortable.

It's been six weeks (and one day if you're being exact) and let me tell you how much can change in that short little time:

  • I've lost 27 pounds. 
  • I've lost 4 inches from my chest. 
  • I've lost 7 inches from my waist (7 inches!!)
  • I've lost 5 inches from my hips. 
  • I have sustained energy throughout the day! 
  • My clothes are baggy, some even unwearable!!
Wow, what a change. I can tell you that I'm still stressed out! But I think if I hadn't started the program I did, those numbers could very well have gone the other way. I could have gained 27 pounds and 16 inches! 

I am so excited I had to share! I've struggled with my weight my whole adult life. I remember when I hit 200 pounds and thought, "That's it! I can't believe I weigh 200 pounds and there's no way I'll be more!" Then I hit 225, and 250 and we don't need to go any further....

I've always used a basic calorie counting method. Less calories in, more calories out. And then I lose weight, my clothes get a little lose and I get excited, thinking I look great, and then I start not paying attention. 

So six weeks ago, I started Take Shape for Life (using meal replacements five times a day and eating one lean and green per day). I sort of felt like I was cheating. I worried that when I stop with the replacements, would I be able to keep it off? Will the food taste good? Will I feel deprived?

So far my experience has been wonderful and I think the thing that makes this program a little different is the awesome book and workbook that goes along with it. Through the book (and I still have a ways to go), I started to think about what I REALLY wanted. 

Pre-TSFL (pre-take-shape-for-life) - I would set my goals based on feeling better. No real goal, I just wanted to feel and look better. The problem is...once I looked better and felt better, I stopped. That could be with just 10 or 15 lbs lost

After-TSFL - I've begun to realize that I want an active, adventurous lifestyle. My kids are growing up (Marc will be 18 next year) and there's this whole second half of my life staring at me. I want to be healthy for Nate and Marc but I also want to be an active, healthy person after 40 and as I approach 50. 
  • I want to be climbing mountains, not into a hospital bed. 
  • I want to be exploring things around me, not exploring the best way to deal with disease. I want to wear cute clothes. 
  • I want to take my kids to a water park and not worry they'll be embarassed to be with fat mom.
  • I want to enjoy food but not have food control my life. 
  • I want to be an inspiration to my kids and hope they never deal with obesity like I do. 
  • I want to be 80 and still out for my walks.....
  • I could go on and on.....oh the dreams we could dream. 
Pre-TSFL - I had no energy 45 minutes after waking. Oh I'd pull myself up when I had to and do the random 5k walk but in general, I couldn't wait to get through the day and watch some tv. 

After-TSFL - My energy levels stay pretty high and steady all day. Now I go home and put on my walking shoes and take Nate and the dog for a walk. 

Pre-TSFL - I hated the way I looked in the mirror.

After-TSFL - I realize I have a ways to go but I'm starting to like it. It's exciting to see results. 

You'll probably hear more about my journey going forward but I'm just so excited. I really don't like these photos of me but I had to show the progress and these are the photos I had:

On the left, I pose at my work's Annual Awards Gala. I actually felt pretty that night. A little fat and lacking confidence but felt like I looked good for my size. 

On the right, a friend took this picture in the office yesterday on my six week anniversary. I hate my hair in it but can you tell a difference?? (PS - in a photo like this what the heck do you do with your hands??)

Thanks for letting me share! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weekend on a Budget!

It's been a little crazy around here and as you can tell from yesterday's post, I'm having some stressful things happening in my life so I've been blogging a little less lately. My way of dealing with stress is to retreat and become more of an introvert than I usually am.

With the nice weather, the boys and I have been enjoying some time outdoors. I thought I'd share a few fun things with you:

Last week, I went with Nate's class to Scienceworks in Ashland, Oregon. It was a great time with about 30 third graders! Scienceworks is a great hands-on science museum with exhibits perfect for kids. Nate specifically loved the 2-liter pop bottle rocket that you filled with water and air then shot into the air. He also really liked the room where you could make a giant bubble around you. If you haven't been, this is a "must-go" attraction. Close to Klamath, affordable, and a great way to spend the day.

Nate playing at Lithia Park in Ashland
If you go to Scienceworks, I recommend taking a picnic lunch at Lithia Park in Ashland. Beautiful! So many trees, a river running through the park, and great play structures. My only warning....poison oak is everywhere so stay on the trails (except obviously in the play area).

This weekend marked the opening game of our local baseball team, the Klamath Falls Gems. While not a league game, it was still fun to go. We are not a baseball family....in fact most of us think the game is incredibly boring. However, I will say going to a game like this is super fun. First, it's cheap! Second, if you don't like baseball, they have enough other things like visiting with friends, being outside enjoying beautiful weather, and fun promos that the kids (and you) can participate in. For example, pitch groceries into a grocery cart for a gift certificate, dancing to twist and shout during the 7th inning stretch, and watching adults play the "dizzy bat" game. Even if you're not into baseball, go to a game once! You might just like it!

And of course, our family favorite...fishing. With all the water around Klamath, you can quickly and easily get to a fishing spot. Our usual favorite is Topsy Reservoir:

Marcus poses at Topsy Reservoir
This weekend was Oregon's free fishing weekend (meaning no license needed) and we decided to go elsewhere. We headed out to Gerber Reservoir (about 45 miles from here). The water was low and we didn't catch anything but we still had a great time!

Here's my self portrait doing my favorite fishing activity (see the kids down at the water, me reclined in my favorite chair with a great book!)

We took Marc's friend Martin. These silly boys love to flex and so were more than happy to pose for a photo.
The boys and their "gun show"

And again (trust me, there's even more than this but I'll just share these)
Silly boys!

When we got back from Gerber, I took Nate for his first motorcycle ride. I was a nervous nelly but we just went around the block at about 25 mph. Yikes, he loved it!!

Love time with my boys! Not a bad weekend on a budget! I figure I spent about $18 on gas, $16 on tickets to the baseball game, and about $10 on food/snacks out to fishing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Not for the Faint of Heart

For nearly seven years, I watched as couples reduced their years of marriage to an argument over trivial things like curtains, frying pans, and cordless drills. I watched as years and years of marriage were boiled down until all that remained were bitterness, anger, and sadness. And in the very worst cases, I watched as loving, caring parents resorted to putting the kids in the middle - usually without even knowing it.

I worked in an attorney's office and divorces were common.

I vowed to never get divorced.

Fast forward, and I found myself contemplating the dissolution of my own marriage (of marriage number two). It was really hard to accept that being apart might be the right thing for all of us - him, me, and our two beautiful sons. I am a "fix-it" kind of girl and spent years trying. In defense of him, I think he too was unhappy but chose to avoid it (our marriage) by plunging into online computer games, etc. After years of trying, I made the leap. I asked for a divorce.

It's been two years (in July).

It's not going as I hoped.

I feel like a failure.

And after two years of largely keeping my divorce between me and a couple of very close friends, I have a few things I want to share with you. My hope is that a) you'll have some great advice or b) maybe you're dealing with something similar and it helps you to know you're not alone.

Things I Didn't Expect:

  • I didn't expect to work so hard at convincing my ex I don't hate him. 
  • I didn't expect him to completely forget the person I am. 
  • I didn't expect to pray for my ex daily. 
  • I didn't expect that communication would become so difficult that I'd get an attorney involved. 
  • I didn't expect to second guess my decision often and wonder if I should have just held out until the kids were grown. 
  • I didn't expect that two years later, everything would be a fight. 

Are you thinking to yourself right now, "What did she expect?" You might be thinking I'm an idiot, that I divorced him, and how exactly did I expect him to react.

Well, let me tell you what I thought would happen:

  • I thought we'd go through a period of time (maybe a year) when anger, hurt, and resentment were prominent but that by year two, things would even out. 
  • I thought he'd go on to realize he wasn't happy too and eventually heal from the process. 
  • I thought that if I remained as fair, flexible, and focused on the kids as I could that all would be well. 
  • I thought that we'd get through the transition period and we'd realize that we weren't meant to be and we'd settle into a pattern of co-parenting that was best for the kids. 
  • I thought that I could somehow convey to him that while being married didn't work out, I don't think he's an awful person. 
I was wrong. 

Now I'm trying to set up regular, respectful communication between two people (us) who didn't communicate well to begin with. I'm trying to work with him on co-parenting when we didn't usually agree on how to parent before. I shouldn't be surprised. 

So now, if I have any readers out there who have gone through something similar....

How did you get through it? 
Any advice for me? 

Divorce definitely isn't for the faint of heart.