Aug 30, 2014

I confess...

I have been blogging for a couple of months now.

And my husband never knew.

Not that he needed to know about the blog specifically. I am doing this for me. But the reason I never shared it with him was because I was ashamed. Of me. You see, I never told him how much I weighed. Not then and not now. I have been carrying this 'burden' alone. And how totally stupid of me?! The man sees me every day. We have babies!

I was so ashamed and disgusted with the number on the scale that I would make sure he was safely in the shower before stepping on the scale or go out of my way to hide a form that had that horrid number on it. Even though he had seen me a hundred times before, he had never seen the number that represented just how much I had stopped caring. About myself. And ultimately about him too.

So, it seems poignant that today, on our 15th wedding anniversary, I would share with him something that has weighed heavy on me (get it?.. weigh... nevermind...) and that I had been avoiding for all these years.

His response to me in return?

His utter support and acceptance. And to me that is one hellofa gift!
No judgement. No criticism.

Even as we spoke I felt embarrassed of the words coming out of my mouth. I felt silly about this 'secret' I was keeping. And I realized how it must have seemed to him like I was treating him. Like a child.
OF COURSE he knew, or at least had some slight idea. As he pointed out... he was at the hospital filling out forms when we had the kids. He has seen 'the number' every once in a while. This is a smart man I'm talking about here. Very smart! It was such a stupid feeling even telling him, but the coming clean part felt like an enormous relief. Even though I tug at my shirt when I sit or cover my mid-section with my arms and suck it in to try and fake it sometimes, I suddenly felt like I could just be seen completely. I was lifting a veil that, to be honest, wasn't even there in anyone's reality but my own.

Maybe I could finally bring myself to share this with him because I am at my lowest weight in 16 or so years. Maybe I have just built up more confidence in myself lately (eating right and working out has that effect on me, I guess). Or maybe I knew there could be no real growth without full disclosure and honesty.

Yeah, that one.

No... all three!

Whatever it was, it's done. He knows. I breathe. He offers frozen yogurt instead of ice cream to celebrate 15 years.


photobombed by a sneaky 10 year old!

Bonus moment: When I asked him how much he thinks I weigh, his answer: 220. My correction: 214... lol

Aug 29, 2014

Happy Friday

Is it Friday?


Is it happy?



Because Friday. That's why! 

And if you need a little sumthin' to help you get there...'re welcome!
C'mon, just do it! Be happy. Smile. Breathe deep. Let go a little. Shrug it off. Even if it's just for a moment. It may not always feel like it helps. And it may not. But how glorious to just let yourself go and feel happy today?

Happy Friday!

Aug 28, 2014

One Pot Ratatouille

No big secret... I am not a salad lover.
Makes me feel like a goat. Just sittin'... aaand chewin'... and chewin' some more.
And yes, I could douse the mix in salad dressing, but doesn't that defeat the purpose?!

I do, however, love vegetables. Sauteed, roasted, broiled, bbq'd, steamed, boiled, and so on... fried too of course. But then again, you could fry a boot and I would eat it ;) lol

So, here then, is my mom's recipe for an all-in-one-pot ratatouille. What I love about this one is how flexible the recipe can be. She would always add a potato to it. I found some cabbage in the fridge and decided to add that before it found its way into the garbage. Sweet potatoes, mushrooms and any other kinds of veggies you love work really well here. You can also add more of one vegetable than another if you prefer. It's all good, man!

One Pot Ratatouille

What you need:
 - 2 tbsp (or less) canola or olive oil
 - onion, peeled and diced
 - 4-5 carrots, peeled and diced
 - 4 -5 celery stalks, cleaned and diced
 - 3 medium zucchinis, diced
 - 1 tomato, diced
 - 4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
 - 1/2 a small head of cabbage, roughly shredded
 - 3/4 cup of your favorite pasta or marinara sauce
 - 1/2 tsp thyme
 - 1/2 tsp basil
 - salt & pepper to taste

What you do:
Get yer pot out and put over a medium heat. Add the oil, onions, carrots and celery and let them saute together for about 10 minutes. Keep your eye on them and stir them around while you chop up the rest of the ingredients.

Rule of thumb here (and just basic fyi for cooking like this), always add the harder ingredients to the pot first. They need more time to cook through. For example: carrots take longer to cook than zucchini.
So, now would be a good time to add the eggplant and zucchini...

...followed by the tomato and garlic.

Give them a stir, cover the pot and put the flame on low.

After about 5 minutes, add the cabbage. I would have added it before, but that's how long it took me to get it chopped up and the 3 year old off the kitchen table.

Let that cook for another 10 minutes or so to get most of the veggies translucent and relaxed enough to release some flavor into the mix ;)
Then it's time to add the pasta sauce, salt, pepper and herbs.
Do you say 'erbs or Herbs?
I am a HHHerb person myself.

Now it's time to give it a stir, tuck everyone in and let the good stuff cook! I left this for almost an hour, checking and stirring every once in a great while (read: when I actually remembered). It really depends on how you like your vegetables. With some bite left? Mushy mushy? You decide...
No need to add any water either, most of the veggies already have lots of water which will come out as they cook.

Ta-daa... dinner is served...
This was dinner on night #1. Lunch on day #2 with some tater tots and dinos... yeah, yeah... and dinner again on night #3 with brown rice and a burger patty! Still one more serving to go.
My phone app tells me this is worth about 133 calories a pop! Not bad for a bowl full of SEVEN veggies!
I think I will eat that last serving on some Ak-Mak crackers.

Oh... and bonus points: it is delicious hot and cold!

Happy Eating!

Aug 27, 2014

Resolutions. Anytime. #1

It has taken tragedy and trauma for me, but I have realized that I could be a better person. A much better person.

That's not to say I beheaded dolls and tripped people for the fun of it.


I did do one of those. Once. I thought it would be funny. It wasn't. I was 12. He was on a skateboard. Downhill. I put my foot out. It wasn't pretty. There was a nurse's office involved and some very dirty looks. From the nurse...

My point is, I can always be better.

A few months ago my path in life got very bumpy and it took losing my mom and a marriage wake-up call for me to realize I was walking the wrong path. I could see the right one for years but for some reason I never pushed myself to take it. I am now. And I have a list of 58 (and growing) resolutions that I look forward to taking head on.
I was not the person I knew I could be or even the person I wanted to be. Someone waved a free ice-cream cone or something stupid along the way and I took an unfortunate d-tour. Now I need to find my happy again!

My mother's passing brought into vivid clarity for me just how many missteps I took along my paths. How many times I was negligent with what was gifted to me and how there was absolutely NO time to lose. Life is not that short, but it can be wasted and not appreciated for every moment we have. I refuse to let that be my path.
(and no, she did not waste hers or take it for granted... I just didn't learn her precious lessons when she was here with me)

My marriage made me realize that I had ridden a wave right to the shore. Great, I guess. But I had never paddled or tried to stay afloat. It was all dumb luck and now we were beached. Like a big blubbery whale that went too far, we were stuck and losing hope. I am learning that you can paddle back however, even if it seems too late, there is always room for improvement and always a lesson to be learnt.
(we are a work in progress)

So, (and this may seem unrelated)...

Resolution #1: READ MORE!

I have always loved to read. I first lost myself in the fantasy worlds of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. From there, it was Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie all the way through high school. Stephen King was my main man for a while in college and then the rest of the world trickled in too. There was always a sprinkling of self-help books and new age writings in our home too and I was fascinated with everything from metaphysics to Taoism and even the Bermuda Triangle. Yeah, I was all over the place!
I still love a good novel and the feeling of being transported into another world. One where I don't nuke dinosaur chicken nuggets and beg for homework to be done and undies to be picked up off the floor (real life, man!), but in the past few months I have found so much healing, learning and growing in the 'self-help' books I have read and that is why reading more is first on my list.

This is my bedside table right now. And no, I don't read them all at once. These are just my 'to-do's' and some of my 'have-done's' :)

I have read books on peaceful parenting, mending relationships and mourning for a loved one. I have read about dreams and the Kabbalah, as well as books on how to simplify and add meaning to your life. These were all truly a life vest for me in an ocean of uncertainty and fear of the future.

Where a great story book takes me on a fast paced adventure or FBI thrill ride, the right self-improvement book is like a warm hug from a dear friend who just gets the shit you are going through and knows just the right thing to say. It can help you sink or swim.

I am so grateful that the books that were recommended to me helped me swim through the mess I was going through and they still help me. It isn't unheard of for me to go back and read a book again just to let the message really sink in. Sometimes I even take notes. *cough - nerd..*

I will review some of the books I read as I get through them. And soon as I am done hugging them!

Let me know if you want any recommendations :)

Aug 26, 2014

Busy Hands: Rock Art

Soooo.... this was originally supposed to be Rock Monsters, which would involve the same process but with the added googly eyes at the end.

Mama was a little sad... I really wanted to see some cute rock monsters. Oh well, my little princess still included googly eyes in her play time... mostly scattered all over the living room floor... but I guess I cannot be picky! lol

This was a really fun outdoor activity (of course it is totally suitable for even a rainy day... but why mess the inside of the house when that's what the outside is for?!)

Rock Art!
(and yes, art does rock!)

What you need:
 - ROCKS! any size, any shape... although smoothly textured would be better
 - acrylic paints
 - paint brushes... or fingers!

What you do:

Prep table with paints and brushes and scream at kids not to touch so you can get one good photo before they dig in.

Let the three year old do her thang...

And the 10 year old his...

And even though you scream and lose your shit often... you still get one of these in the end!...

This is an embarrassingly easy craft, but the kids really got a kick out of painting on part of nature and of course the inevitable mess is always fun too! For them!

Happy Creating!

Aug 25, 2014


I was trying so hard to come up with some witty or relevant alliteration for Mondays.

Then I realized... it's a Monday. There. It's just there.

I weigh myself every Monday morning and then I try to motivate myself to keep it up for the next week. And no, I didn't want to go with 'Motivational Monday'. Why? Cause everyone uses it and I needed something different. So, in wanting to be so different... I now have... nothing...


That's as good as it gets.

*eye roll*

Anyway, since it IS weigh in day... here it is... in all it's gory glory...

Read it and weep!... I did!
This is a FIVE pound weight gain from last week. You see, it would be sad but I knew it was coming. This was no shock. This was the culmination of poor choice after bad mistake after dumb idea from the week before. I was on a 3 week plateau... no big deal. And I honestly thought I could rise above, but alas I succumbed to some negative thoughts and found myself flushing hard work down the drain...


No good excuses whatsoever! Birthday cake... a BBQ... eating out... not cooking at home... laziness... emotional stress...

Since this is a long ass journey I have decided to take on, I am also deciding to see things in a new light. For example, the old me would have just given up. Flat out. Done. Drop mic. Walk away. Another failure in the notch of a size 22 pant belt. The new me will not back down so easy however! I am taking each moment as a learning experience and deciding that there is a choice I can make. A choice. And I can make it.

And so... this morning I left last week behind. I emotionally uncoupled myself from it and cut any ties with it. I waved it goodbye with my batwings and turned a fat ass to it. This is a new week and I have choices ahead of me. My first order of business this morning was to get into my size 16 shorts and work-the-bleep-out! And I did. Forty five minutes later I had used 8, 10 and 12 pound weights to work my shoulders, arms, butt and legs. I also used my husband for ab leg drops and spent time squeezing my core. I was a hot mess and dripping with sweat, but I also hadn't felt that good in a week!

Add to that a clean breakfast and I am saying adios to negativity and opening the door to happy and healthy choices this week.

Here is my motivation (and apology to me) for this week :) ...

Thanks Pinterest ;)

For more of my food choices and workouts this week, check me out on Facebook: back2happymom, Instagram back2happymom or on Twitter @back2happymom

How are you staying motivated??

Aug 18, 2014

What Happens When Nothing Happens?...

It's been three weeks.

Three whole, long, fruitless weeks.

The scale hasn't budged.

So, now what?

What happens when nothing happens?...

While I realize nobody wants to needs to see a closeup of my sausage-y toes, I felt like a visual was required on this one. Look away if you must :)

I am actually deciding on an opportunity here. An opportunity to choose a different outcome than what I have been used to for many many years. What I mean is this... In the past when I endeavor out on a weight loss journey, any set back, hiccup or even stand still would mean failure to me. My mind would swarm with thoughts of  'Seeeee... told ya... you can't do it!' ... 'Give up now, you won't loose any more weight anyway.' ... 'This is just too difficult and failure is imminent!' ... 'You were meant to live a fat life, so just don't bother!' Those negative thoughts would almost always lead to a binge or a head first plunge into a jar of Nutella. 

Today, though, after three weeks at a standstill I am making a difficult choice for myself... 'Keep on going... DO NOT GIVE UP!... Yes, you can be a success at weight loss!' 
One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my journey so far is to be patient and kind... to myself!
No more trash talking. I am allowed to fall down all I like, as long as I don't stay down. As long as I use my hands, legs, elbows, face.. whatever! to get back up. I won't let a number discourage me. I won't let the thoughts of failure take over my head. I realized I put those thoughts there and I have the power to remove them too.

So... off they go!

I am not sacrificing tasty treats for roasted chicken. Nope. I am choosing healthy fuel for my body, cause that's how I choose me now... healthy! Whaddya know?! And that choice tastes better than all the chocolate spread in the world! ;-)

So, what happened to me when nothing happened?...

Only good things. 'Cause that's what I choose!
More sweat. Cleaner food. Better attitude.

Happy Monday!

Busy Hands: Sandpaper Art

Even though this needed some mama guidance, the kids really had fun with all the stages of this project.
Especially the 'reveal' at the end!

Sandpaper Art!

What you need:
 - medium grain sandpaper (too fine and you won't see the texture... too coarse and it will eat up your crayons)
 - pencil
 - wax crayons
 - scissors
 - paper
 - clean towels
 - iron
(Sorry, got way too excited about this project I guess to actually take a photo of all the supplies!)... lol

What you do:

First, we used the pencil to draw some shapes on to the sandpaper. I put a few basic shapes down for my toddler since most of her stuff is still linear and wouldn't work very well for cut outs. My 9 year old was left to his own devices on this step.

Next was too outline with a crayon (yeah... I did this for her too... whatcha gonna do about it?!)

Now it was all her coloring in the shapes. It really didn't matter if she went out of the lines since we would be cutting the shapes out anyway later.

Quick note: The shapes should be big and bold. Anything thin will be difficult to cut out and iron later. Same goes for shapes with cut outs on the inside. Not impossible, but a little more work.

This is where you will realize if your sandpaper is too think... the crayons will last about three strokes before they disintegrate into the paper.

My son's creation... when all else fails... print your name!

When everything is colored in it's time to cut the shapes out of the sandpaper. At this point the kids were at two different stages and the iron was already on, so I didn't have time for a quick pic of the cut outs.

I ironed on the kitchen counter for this craft. The ironing board is in the deep dark recesses of the garage and I refuse to get it out when my husband isn't home to kill critters that have made it their home. Yuck!
I laid a clean towel on the counter and a clean piece of paper on the towel. This paper is what the final design shows up on. Doesn't necessarily have to be white. My daughter opted for yellow paper and that worked out great too.

On that goes the sandpaper cutouts... upside down. When you iron it, the wax will melt and transfer onto the paper, so you want it facing the paper, not facing the top towel ;)

Now I covered with a double layer of a clean towel...

...and ironed. I used the highest setting and steamed it too once in a while.

We ironed each paper for about a minute or so. You can tell by a quick check if it is working and done...


Some of the designs from my son's paper...
He ironed his own stuff! (Now I just need to train him to think that ironing shirts and pants is a craft too!)

Another note: If you are writing names, etc. you need to sketch it as a mirror image since you will be turning it around to iron it. When you turn it over it will come out the right way round. Learned this one through trial and error. Mostly error! 

Happy Creating!

Aug 9, 2014

Menu Planning (Version 1)

OK... I have a couple of different ways I do our menu planning. And oh yes!... I DO do menu planning.

(*snort*... I said do-do)
Sorry, I will stop being 6 years old now.

I started the original version years ago and slowly evolved it to something simple to set up and maintain. I was so tired of seeing food go to waste. I would literally be throwing dollars down the drain and bags of cash into the garbage bin. And somehow still, I would manage to stand in front of the fridge in the evenings and utter that same old phrase... 'there's nothing to eat'!

Before summer began I knew I had to make a revision to my menu planning. Not that it wasn't working. It was. But in the spirit of letting my kids pick their activities, I thought I would involve them in picking out how the menu would look for each week.

Before anyone has a full on melt down about giving kids the freedom to choose mac 'n cheese for dinner every night... please read on :)

Today I am showing the revised version - my summer version of menu planning.

Step 1: Ye Good Ol' Paper & Pencil!

For this stage I only focus on what's for dinner. I know I have to make dinner 7 times a week (although Saturday and Sunday meals are interchangeable with lunchtime too... more to come on that later). So I list 7 main ideas I can use for dinner. In case you cannot read the chicken scratch above, our main choices are:
 - Chicken
 - Chicken Salads
 - Ground Meat (usually turkey)
 - Beef
 - Fish
 - Vegetarian
 - Light Dinner
After that is decided I then think about what my week looks like and start allocating a day to each main item. For example: I know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays our days are packed so I chose ground turkey for Tuesdays because I know I can make it in the morning and have it ready for dinner later and Thursdays is a light dinner. Round this household, that means we make some whole wheat toast and bring out an array of healthy 'toppings', like sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, etc. It gives us a break from heavy foods (and mama a break from cooking!) and helps us eat light.

Step 2: Ideas!

Now that we have what we want to eat and when we want to eat it, the next part is the fun part!
The first thing to decide is how long you want this menu to last.
I knew that summer was about 10 weeks and I also knew I would have zero time to menu plan when the kids were home with me, so I decided to go ahead and make a 10 week menu plan.
This plan works for 2 weeks or 20 weeks. It's so simple!

I began with listing my menu item for each day. So I would put down 'Fish' as my header with 10 lines under it (one line per week for my 10 week plan). Then I came up with 10 ideas using fish that I knew my family would enjoy. Sometimes I stick to the favorites, but now and then I will throw in something new to try. Same with each of the other daily ideas. That way if I screw up royally on a dish I can say, 'Oh well, at least next week it's back to fish sticks!'... lol

Once that is done I made a little sketch of the week and added a column for lunches (grr... no need to pack lunches during summer break but those mouths still need to be fed come noon!)

As you can see above, I keep Saturday and Sunday 'dinners' interchangeable with lunches on those days. We are sometimes out in the evening with the kids or my son's basketball game ends just at noon and we feel like grabbing lunch out.  I also have a 'Pantry Raid' (I said PANTRY!!) on the weekends. That's when the soups come out, or cereal, or frozen food, or sandwiches, or leftovers... get the idea? Mama doesn't want to cook, so help yo'selves!

Step 3: Bring It Together

I found some left over pink poster board, trimmed the side and made my little sketch above come to life on it. And by 'life' I mean I Sharpie'd it on! ;) I knew I would be using business card sized cards for the menu items, so I sized the spaces accordingly.

Then this baby went up on the side of the fridge. I made little pockets (cause I was too lazy to go out and find tiny envelopes) with some yellow card stock and stuck them next to the menu plan. These little pockets hold the business cards. The business cards each have the ideas I wrote down earlier for each meal item. I printed them out on the cards. Cause. I. Am. Anal. Like. That.

Step 4: Ready To Use!

That's It! The menu plan is ready!
Every Saturday or Sunday my husband and the kids reach into an envelope and pull out something they want to eat that week. Then use some tape to stick it on to the matching space on the board.

Once they have put their choices up I go through and add a veggie to go with that dish (the green sticky notes) and if needed some kind of carb to go with the dish as well (the orange sticky notes). That way I know it is a complete meal. 

(The blue sticky notes are for the days we have basketball practice and the pink is for my daughter's gymnastics class. The yellow sticky notes on the right side are quick breakfast ideas for the week.)

This menu plan has made life so much easier and saved us so much money. No more 'what's for dinner?' whining at 7pm and no more throwing out veggies and meat that looked so good in the store and you just knew you would end up making something delicious with them but never actually got around to finding it because it was buried under the old broccoli in the drawer (true story!... hahaha). Now, everything I buy... I USE! Shopping is super easy too since I just go off of what's on the menu for that week.
I bring out my recipe book if I need to look up a list of ingredients for a dish so that I am not guessing on the same day what I need.

**The beauty of this system is that they feel like they are in charge of the menu, but in reality I have already chosen the item I feel like making. In my case, I kept summer quick and easy without too many new recipes and hours of cooking**

 --I have since revised this version with changes to lunch ideas and more healthy choices--
 --I will post those changes soon--

Busy Hands: Days Like These...

Sometimes, there are days like these...

When all they really want is to spray silly string and run around screaming.

And ya know what?...

Let 'em!

"Hey buddy... look here so I can take a quick pic of you", said mom, while holding the other can of silly string inconspicuously behind her back.

GOTCHA!... He got me back too!

Thankfully it came right off her hair. Whew!
They had so much fun until some old mama said 'clean up time!'... hahaha

Lots of squishy, stringy tactile fun :)
We used this product which we got at Walmart...

Happy Creating!