Monday’s Motivation

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
~T. S. Eliot

Eliot makes a good point. If we always play it safe, we will limit ourselves. I do tend toward caution. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to these types of quotes. Perhaps inch by inch, bit by bit, these words encourage me to be more bold. I have been known to go out on a limb at times…

Wishing you a wonderful day. May you live it to the fullest!

And for those who read last week that my children were under the weather: they are on the mend, and we finally left the house over the weekend. 🙂

Here We Are…

This has been an unusual week in that we have been home all the time. I have done some running, literally and figuratively, but only when my husband was home with the kids. They are working on getting over a virus, so we’ve stayed home all week. Thankfully, they have been a little better each day. It might have been okay to go to our co-op today, but I didn’t want to push it. I’d feel bad if we caused someone else to get sick, and I thought one more day of resting up might be just the thing to get back to normal.

One benefit to homeschooling is that we didn’t miss much school due to this virus. We took one day completely off, but we have gone ahead with school the rest of the week. We do a literature based curriculum, so a big part of our day is spent reading together. We do lessons each day that tie to the story we’re reading. M. and G. each have some workbooks, and they each practice reading to me. I don’t think it’s overly tiring. In fact, I think our school day is a sweet time of bonding over great stories. 🙂

I had such a nice surprise on Thursday when my son read a devotion to me. That book is more advanced than his official school reading, and I was thrilled that he decided on his own to read a more challenging book. He did very well with it. Way to go, G!

So, here we are. Friday is normally our busiest day of the week, but we will be home, reading and resting up just a little bit longer. Unless someone takes a turn for the worse, I think today can be our last day of quarantine.

I will also share my “sweeta fajita” that I made the other night. (Corny? Yes, but I like the rhyme.) My fajitas usually include peppers, onions, mushrooms and sometimes chicken. I decided to try throwing in some thinly sliced sweet potatoes. I’m still working through my stash of sweet potatoes from the CSA. The overall taste was a little bit sweeter than usual, and I liked it, hence the “sweeta fajita.”

Have a great weekend! I hope to be back on Monday with reports of a healthy family and having actually left the house!

A Time to Refresh

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

I think this is a pretty familiar passage of Scripture. After all, it was made into a song in the sixties and quoted in the movie Footloose in the eighties. I loved that part of Footloose, by the way. Go Ren!

This passage crossed my mind with regard to the lovely evening I had earlier this week, a time to rest, a time to connect, a time to be inspired. A time to heal and build up, if you will.

My kids and I are part of a homeschool group. The annual mom’s dinner was held on Tuesday night. It was an evening to relax and visit with other moms in the group, to hear a speaker and to be inspired.

The speaker was Sandy Adler, of Heart of the City Ministries. She spoke about parents’ ability (and responsibility) to create a vision for their family and ideas to live out that vision. It is easy to get caught up in day to day responsibilities and lose sight of the things that truly matter. There are so many things I would like my children to learn, as well as things we need to get done, but I think their character (and mine) matters more than all the rest. I was glad of the reminder to be more intentional, more proactive and less reactive. I need to do my best to be a good role model, and to admit my shortcomings and apologize when I’m not such a good role model.

As you can imagine, I got up the next morning full of great intention to live out my vision for my family. One of the biggest things I want to focus on is for all family members to speak respectfully to each other. That includes word choice, tone, eye contact, and even avoiding interrupting each other. Hmm. I am not sure if my renewed focus just allowed me to see the reality that’s always there, or if we were having a particularly bad day. It is probably the former. Let’s just say we have room for improvement, especially with interrupting. Why is it easier to speak nicely to strangers than to those we hold dearest?

Events like this have been so valuable to me. It has been so important to me as a mother to connect with other moms, to realize that we share a lot of the same challenges, and to support each other along the way. Sometimes, it makes a huge difference just to know you’re not alone. Sometimes, like this week, someone else’s words cause me to see myself through fresh eyes, including seeing areas I need to work on. Sometimes, one simple evening can be so very refreshing.

How do you like to refresh and recharge your batteries?

Reverse Broccoli Cheese Soup

I was feeling uninspired about cooking dinner the other night, and my husband suggested I make some vegetable soup, knowing we had some raw veggies in the fridge.  The thing is, the vegetables that we had the most of were broccoli and cauliflower.  More often than not, if I make a vegetable soup, I use potatoes, carrots and celery, or perhaps tomatoes and corn with beans, but broccoli and cauliflower?  I have eaten broccoli cheese soup that could more accurately be described as cheese soup with a few bits of broccoli.  I thought I’d try reversing that concept.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:
one small to medium onion, diced
three cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil to coat bottom of sauce pan
vegetable broth – amount depends on desired consistency, but enough to cover the vegetables in the pan
2 cups chopped broccoli
3 cups chopped cauliflower (I used the amount of each that I had on hand.)
pepper, to taste

Method:
Coat pan with olive oil, then cook onion and garlic until soft (not brown).
Add broccoli and cauliflower along with enough broth to cover the vegetables; cook until the vegetables are tender.
Puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
(I wanted a thicker soup, so I didn’t include all the broth when I pureed. You can add enough broth for your desired consistency.)
Serve with pepper and a pinch of shredded cheddar.

I liked it! With the amount of vegetables and broth that I used, it was enough for four bowls with a bit left over. I would make it a little thinner next time, but I thought it was very good. I have to tell you, though, that broccoli is one of my very favorite foods. It’s no surprise that I would enjoy a soup featuring broccoli.

Do you like broccoli? What is your favorite way to prepare it?

Fun for free

Would I like to go on rides at Nickelodeon Universe for free? Yes, please. I do believe I will.


Last week, the following invitation from Nickelodeon Universe spread like wildfire over various email groups. (A sincere thanks to everyone who forwarded the email to me. I’m very glad that I knew about this deal!)

We’re filming a new commercial and want the park to be hoppin’ so join in the fun! Starting at noon, guests will be able to ride for free until 4 p.m. when unlimited ride wristbands and point passes must be purchased to continue riding.

I wasn’t at all sure if we’d be able to go. We had a busy week in store. Then after getting a lot of work done the day before this offer, and our schoolwork having gone smoothly up ’til that point, I decided we ought to take advantage of the opportunity. Deals like this don’t come along every day!

It was a win-win situation. We got to enjoy the amusement park rides for free for the afternoon, and they got the atmosphere they wanted to display in their commercial. Why they didn’t film on the weekend, when they are always packed, I don’t know… Maybe it costs more to get a crew to come in for filming on the weekend. Who knows?

Of all the rides in the park, I was surprised where my children headed first.

And we don’t even watch Sponge Bob! (We don’t have Nickelodeon, to tell the truth.) No complaints out of me, though. If they want to hop in a bouncy house, that’s just fine with me. I got to try it at a birthday party. It’s fun. 🙂

Another popular one with my children is Ghost Blasters. They went on this one more than once.

A couple times on the bumper cars…

I rode next to G. on the carousel. He chose a really great dragon. If I wanted to sit next to him, which I did, I was left with a cat. He rubbed it in a little. Here I am…

Both M. and G. got to go on a lot of rides. I went on some with them, but more often I watched them from the sidelines. They had a great time! We ran into several families we know while we were there, which was fun too.

As long as we were at the mall again (it’s practically unheard of for us to go to Mall of America two weeks in a row), we stopped off at Underwater Adventures before heading home. That annual membership has already paid for itself. I knew that was a good idea. 🙂

Don’t you just love a great deal?

An Educational Experience, Indeed

Last weekend, we gathered with my husband’s family to celebrate Christmas together.  We had a very nice time – cooking and eating, playing games, exchanging gifts, and just being together.  If I’ve never mentioned it, I’ll tell you right now:  my husband has a really great family! 

We added a new activity to the agenda this year – a wine tasting.  Those participating were to bring a wine that he or she likes and prepare a presentation on that wine – what type of grapes, where the grapes were grown, what aromas and tastes the wine has, what foods the wine pairs well with, etc.  We each had a scoresheet to record our observations about each wine and make note of our preferences as we tasted each selection. 

You can see the prices of the wines on my notes, but we didn’t reveal prices until after we had tried them all.  An expensive wine isn’t necessarily better.   🙂 

We had a fun time with it, and I think we all learned something! I know I did, but I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination.  I jotted down some notes about a few that I would like to try again. 

I think I’ll try my favorites with the types of meals recommended.  Sometimes the right food and drink pairing brings out the best in both.

There was also some talk of a sit-up challenge in February.  By mentioning it here:

1)I may be more likely to remember to set a goal and do it, and

2)I am making myself accountable to those of you reading.  Now I better do it, right?

Anyone want to join us for a sit-up challenge?

Jeff Galloway – Week 3 Recap

I’m finishing up my third week of half marathon training using a Jeff Galloway schedule. I thought I’d share how things are going so far.

I have to be honest. For the first week and a half, I thought I was following the training schedule. I ran the correct length of time or miles (some days are a certain number of minutes, some are miles). I did what I tend to do. I ran as fast I could run and still finish the full time or distance. Let me be clear about this from the outset – I am not a fast runner. I only mean that I ran the fastest pace that I could maintain for thirty minutes.

As I have mentioned, I picked up Galloway’s Book on Running, and I am in the middle of reading it now. I quickly found out that my week one approach was wrong by Galloway’s standards. He recommends running your training runs about one minute per mile slower than goal pace. For your long runs, he recommends running two minutes per mile slower than goal pace. Or even slower than that. Oops.

In the book, Galloway describes aerobic versus anaerobic exercise:

Aerobic means “in the presence of oxygen.” You are running aerobically when you run slowly and comfortably and do not exceed the pace or distance for which you have recently trained. Here your muscles are strong enough to carry the load and there is enough oxygen available from the blood stream. The few waste products that are produced are easily whisked away in the blood before building up and obstructing muscle function.

He points out that for fitness, anaerobic exercise is not necessary. When doing speedwork, a runner will train his or her body to withstand the strain of anaerobic exercise, but for the other training runs, Galloway claims it is better to keep it aerobic.

For my last several runs, I have slowed things down considerably. In a way, it is driving me nuts. I keep considering the pros and cons in my mind.

Cons:
* I fear that I am training my body to be slower, that it will grow accustomed to the slower pace and will not be able to go faster later on.
* My runs, especially my long runs will require a greater time commitment.
* Sometimes I am just itching to go faster! It is fun to go faster.
* Some songs that come up on Pandora practically beg me to run faster! (Do you listen to music that fires you up when you exercise?)

Pros:
* My four mile run at a slower pace felt easier than my three mile run at a faster pace. I didn’t mind that too much. 😉
According to Galloway, this will:
*better allow my blood to carry oxygen to my muscle cells
*will lead to less lactic acid buildup in my body
*will allow for faster recovery after long runs
*will decrease the likelihood of injury
*will allow me to eventually be more successful than if I pushed harder

I recently shared that I believe that “mind over matter” is quite possible. I really do. I think we can push ourselves to accomplish more, to keep going when it’s really hard to do so. In general, I think this is a good thing. However, I think it can be bad thing if we go so far as to disregard signals of injury. We try to listen to our bodies, but really, when trying to meet a goal, it can be tempting to try to push through pain. Maybe it is because I am a novice runner, but it is hard for me to tell the difference between a normal “sore from a good workout” and a warning “something is wrong” kind of sore.

One thing that drew me to Jeff Galloway’s training program is that he encourages adequate rest days between hard runs. He even encourages walk breaks. I thought that his training program may be just the thing to get me to a new distance – half marathon – without hurting myself along the way.

I have been a little surprised by how hard I’m finding it to follow his advice. I do want to go, go, go, but I also want to avoid the injured knees and ankles that have sprinkled my previous running seasons, showing up anytime I approach ten miles. Bottom line, what do I have to lose? I am not in it to win. I am in it for the fun and fitness benefits.

What do I have to lose?

Injury?

A 10 mile maximum run length?

Time will tell. I will keep you posted along the way.

Meanwhile, I have five slow miles to squeeze in before I head off to celebrate Christmas one last time. Have a good weekend!