Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple! Apple!

We woke up Saturday to a cool, crisp fall morning.  A perfect time to get started on our fall fun list!  First up, a trip to the apple orchard.  We enjoyed our morning checking out the orchard, going for a wagon ride and using the great setting for a few cute kid pictures.  

The girls loved seeing all of the apples on the trees.  On our wagon ride Little J kept yelling, "Apple! Apple!"  She still has that babyish sounding, adorably cute little voice (not that she can't also squeal with the best of them).   I should have done a little more research before our trip though, because I didn't realize we wouldn't be able to actually pick any apples.  Kind of a let down.  We also probably would have waited until later in the day when more activities started.  Luckily I found an invitation to an apple picking party at a neighbor's house in our mailbox this morning, so it looks like we'll get to pick some apples after all.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Garden 2013 Update

I have been so happy with our garden this year.  Our new box gave us more space, and it looks a lot nicer too!  We ended up with lots of beans, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash.  We've also gotten a few green peppers and pea pods, and our carrots are still growing.  I can't wait for the carrots to be ready!

Miss A has been good about trying everything we've grown in the garden.  So far the beans and peas have seemed to be her favorites.  Both girls enjoyed using the zucchini to make bread, complete with a few chocolate chips (or as Little J would call it, a cookie)!  Little J has been a little more discriminating.  She tosses most new foods off her plate, but she goes crazy for cucumbers.  Especially cucumbers soaked in vinegar (one of E's favorite snacks).

I even tried my first cucumber this summer.  I know, it's a little ridiculous that it took me until I was 31 to try a cucumber.  This is our 6th year in the house, and each year we've grown cucumbers.  And each year I've avoided trying most of the green food that comes out of the garden.  Cucumber still isn't a favorite, but I probably won't take extreme measures to avoid cucumber either, which is an improvement.

Besides getting the girls to eat more veggies, my goal was to get the girls to help out with the garden.  Both girls absolutely loved helping to water the garden.  Watering the garden was one of their favorite things to do, and while it frequently ended with two soaking wet girls, they had fun and helped me out.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Fun List

Last summer I started making us a summer fun checklist to help keep the girls and I active during the week, and to help me remember the fun local places I hear friends talk about.  We're good at our summer fun lists.  We've been able to check off all or most of the activities off both summers.

Then comes fall.  School starts, the weather cools down and we start spending a lot more time at home.  Not that being at home isn't fun, but the weather is still pretty nice, and there are so many fun things to do! So, this year I made a fall fun list.

Our list includes a mix of fall fun for adults only, and fall fun for the whole family.  Our activities are...
  • Host Dinner for Friends
  • Apple Orchard
  • Wabasha Street Caves
  • Zoo
  • Brewery Tour
  • Vikings Game
  • Make Halloween Costumes
  • Bonfire
  • Thankful Project
  • Fall Craft
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Halloween Party
  • Run a Race
  • Picnic
  • Fall Nature Walk

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Favorites: HLS

Last weekend my bff Heather was in town for the Healthy Living Summit.  Not only did I get to hang out with Heather for 5 days, but I also got to attend HLS13 and I came home with a lot of great SWAG.  Here are my 5 favorites from HLS13 (so far).

  1. Sargento Cheese Sticks: The actual cheese sticks disappeared quite quickly, but my very favorite part is the string cheese cooler (don't tell me it's not the coolest thing!).
  2. Driscoll's Berries: Because I was one of the locals at HLS13, I ended up bringing home a TON of berries: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.  I was SUPER excited to have a fridge full of berries, and so was the rest of the fam. E and I have been taking berries to work and making yogurt treats.  Maybe even some smoothies this weekend. 
  3. Musselman's Applesauce: I didn't know that Musselman's made big cups, but now that I do, I am in love.  I take applesauce in my lunch quite often, but the regular cups never feel like quite enough.  
  4. NatureBox Sante Fe Corn Sticks: Heather told me these taste a lot like Doritos, and I'm afraid she's right.  I could have easily eaten the whole bag in the first sitting, but practiced a little self control and stopped around half.  They are SO tasty.
  5. Wild Harvest Natural Shells & White Cheddar Cheese: I haven't actually tried this yet, but I rarely meet a mac & cheese that I don't like.  And switching from Kraft to Wild Harvest would probably be better for me, and the little ones too. Not to mention the awesome Wild Harvest reusable bag and shirt.  I'm in serious Wild Harvest love right now. Local friends, check for Wild Harvest at Cub.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School...

This week was the start of school for me.  Back to work.  Back to day care for the girls.  Back to our schedule.  And can I tell you, I really dislike the first week of school.

The first week of school is crazy.  New students.  New routines.  A whole new year.    It's all very intimidating.  I don't sleep well.

But I'm hoping for a good year.  Last year was hard.  Really, really hard.  We have a nice group of kids this year.  A new principal.  A new, later start time.  Things are looking good.

And the new school year means new school supplies (why do new school supplies make me so happy?).* And the fresh start that comes with a new year.  
I like to feel organized.  This year one of my goals is to keep things more organized at home.  To make sure everything has a place (and make sure it gets there) and to clear out some of the stuff we don't use anymore.  To have fewer late nights.  And fewer rushed mornings.  I have new calendars for planning, notebooks for lists and washi tape to make them look pretty.

My  new schedule gives me a little flexibility.  I have exactly 36 minutes from the time I can leave work to the time I need to pick up the girls.  One of my coworkers told me she read a book about being organized and the author said productive people don't think, I only have 10 minutes, I can't get anything done.  Instead they think, I have 10 minutes, what can I get done?  So I'm trying to think that way.  I have 36 minutes, what can I get done?  I can squeeze in a quick run.  I can go to the post office.  I can pick up a few things from the grocery store.  I can go to the bank.  All tasks that are more difficult with 2 tired girls in tow.  And being productive during those 36 minutes gives me a little more free time in the afternoon.  To read.  To write.  To relax.  

Does anyone have other ideas for how to stay organized/productive/motivated as the new school year starts? 

*E and I were watching the news over the weekend, and there was a story about Crayola.  I commented on how I love fresh markers.  E laughed and said most women my age are not excited about new markers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2nd Annual Movie Night

On Friday night we hosted our 2nd Annual Backyard Movie Night.  Last August we hosted our first backyard movie night, featuring Finding Nemo, and it was such a hit we decided to do it again this year. 

We still had some cowgirl things left from Miss A's 3rd birthday party, so we decided to show Toy Story 2 this year.  We invited everyone over around 7, and set up our cardboard western town for the kids to play in until it got dark enough to start the movie. 

I set up a movie treat bar with popcorn, popcorn toppings and lots of candy... M&M's, Reece's Pieces, Twizzlers, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids and of course, Junior Mints.  My mom friends were probably not very excited about the amount of candy, but I think one night is ok ;).  We also had juice boxes for the little ones and beer and a wine cocktail for the parents.  
I think we counted 22 little ones plus parents, so I would call our second movie night a big success!  Even Little J sat through most of the movie!  It was a great way to celebrate the end of the summer!  The first two movie nights have been such a success that I think it will be a yearly tradition.
My two girls in the middle, little friends on each side, loving the movie!
Miss A loved movie night so much that she requested that we do it again.  E was happy to set the projector up on Sunday night while we still had it so his little princesses could watch Tangled.  After we put the girls to bed, we stayed up late watching Argo (and I ate the rest of the movie snacks).

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Super Summer Challenge SUCCESS!

Earlier this summer I wrote about the Super Summer Challenge that Heather shared with me.  As you can see from the lists above, I got to fill in a variety of activities that were assigned different point values from 10 to 500 points.  Each activity would earn mind, body or mind and body points.  The Super Summer challenge started on June 1st, with the goal being to reach 10,000 mind points and 10,000 body points by August 31st.  

I'm excited to say that I accumulated over 10,000 points for both mind and body!  I kept track of my points every day for 3 months (not including the 10 days we were in Germany) and I am feeling really proud of my Super Summer success!
The Super Summer Challenge helped me stay on track this summer.  I made an attempt to lose some weight last spring, but didn't accomplish much of my goal.  As I worked on the Super Summer Challenge, I managed to lose about 10 pounds, and I'm feeling much stronger too.  I have been doing planks like crazy, and have gone from being able to do a plank for about 30 seconds to a little over 90 seconds.  I also ran over 5.5 miles earlier this summer, which is probably the longest distance I've ever run.  E and I even took the kids to a nearby high school one afternoon to do a sprint workout, all because it was on my Super Summer Challenge list.  

Even though I technically had more mind points than body points, much of that was due to racking up wake up and run points for both body and mind.  I ran 3 to 4 days a week all summer, which was a big deal, especially after some of the warmer weeks we had.  I probably wouldn't have done that if it weren't for wanting to get those points early in the day.  

Needing to earn mind points also helped me make sure I was doing something with my summer.  I have the luxury of not working in the summer, and while I love spending my days with Little J and Miss A, it's not always the most stimulating conversation.  Reading for 10 minutes a day earned me 10 points, so I did a lot of reading.  I read 7 books this summer, and I'm started on an 8th.  I also listened to countless podcasts. While some are less serious, like Pop Culture Happy Hour, I also listened to many, many TED Talks.  It made me feel good when my principal played a TED Talk that I'd already listened to during opening week.  And I was able to cross a couple of big project items off of my summer to do list, like paint the living room, paint the trim and clean out a basement room (each earning me 500 points).

I hope to carry some of this success into the fall.  My fitness sometimes suffers when I go back to work, but I think I have set some things in place to keep me on track (like signing up for fall races).  Some things have also developed into habits, like taking some time to read as soon as the girls start their rest time.  I may also set up some rewards for myself if I finish some other big project items from my to do list (like clean out the rest of the basement). 

Did anyone else stick with the Super Summer Challenge all summer?  How did you do?  Any plans for how to continue on with healthy activities as the weather cools off?  I'd love to hear suggestions!