Taste testing and scheduling

Today I went to Vons, it’s rare for me, I almost always shop at Trader Joe’s. Today since I was babysitting I thought I would take the kids out for a walk, and I had a list of things I wanted to try, and hoped I could find at Vons. Turns out, Vons does not carry chia seeds, but they do have dates! Trader Joe’s did not have dates, but they do have chia seeds. I already have coconut oil and dried fruit (from Trader Joe’s, of course). So I won’t be making chia seed energy bars tonight, hopefully I will make it to the store tomorrow. I did find kale chips, carrot chips and apple chips. I bought a bag of each. I would suggest making your own because the quantity is just not worth the price. Kale chips tasted kind of like potato chips, the carrot chips were just gross, and I have not tried the apple chips yet. I also bought prunes. I am not a huge fan of prunes, but something you will learn about me, I don’t necessarily ingest foods because I like it, or enjoy it. I look at the benefits and if I don’t hate the taste, I’ll go ahead and eat it. I did not buy them for me though, my daughter was having trouble using the bathroom a few weeks ago, and I thought, maybe this will help to avoid that problem. I don’t know if it was my master manipulation skills, or if the kids actually enjoy prunes, but they loved them! I had to take them away out of concern for their little systems!

I also saw a bottle of acai berry juice. I have never tried it before and was in a taste testing mood. Acai berries are supposed to be high in antioxidants and omega fatty acids. This bottle claimed that one serving is equal to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables. Couldn’t hurt, right? I never bought into the rage of acai a few years back, but I know it is commonly used in weight loss products. I had an 8 ounce glass this afternoon as a pick me up, and it did it’s job, I am ready for my workout. To be fair any healthy snack probably would have done the trick. If I notice any changes this week I will be sure to write about it!

The last few weeks have been really tough. I have been so off. My workout schedule, my cleaning schedule, my eating schedule, and clearly my blogging schedule. I am trying to get back on track. I cannot even explain how crazy I feel inside when I am not successfully executing all of my parenting goals. Yes, the kids are fed, homework is done, we have had some play time, and they are bathed… but when I have not been able to do all of the laundry, and when the floors have not been mopped I feel like I must be slacking off. Even though I know I’m not I’m still just as exhausted at the end of the day as I was when I was doing all of the cleaning and working out 5 days a week. I may have to stop doing something, but I have no idea what I can give up. For now I am shifting responsibilities around and trying not to expect so much of myself. Today I mopped the floors, deep cleaned the bathroom and put away laundry. I made a huge pot of quinoa and added a cup of pureed spinach, and boiled a bunch of eggs. I also took the kids out for a walk, played outside and was babysitting a one year old all day. Today was a success, but it is far from over. I have to cram for my Personal Fitness Trainer exam!!!

Organizing and cleaning… not the same thing!

How annoying is it when you are in a hurry and nothing is where it belongs? Your keys are in the fridge, you have to search through a pile of clean clothes to find something to where, because, why on earth would you put your clothes away? Your left shoe has vanished completely, you step on an army man, you can’t open the bathroom door because there is a wet towel on the floor, There is a trail of cheerios leading to each room in the house, and you’re late!

My days are not like this, generally. Although, I suffered through years of them before discovering the beauty and sanity of organization. If you knew me 5 years ago, you would not recognize me. At least not by my personality. I did have clean clothes, but my clothes stayed in piles or in a laundry basket. I  almost never did dishes. Not until there was nothing left to eat off of. I had no concept of keeping up a house… I did not even own cleaning supplies. I ate once a day, and it was always fast food, and I never knew where anything was.

Today, laundry is always cleaned, folded and put away in the same day. I even separate whites! My closet is color coded. My shoes stay in the closet with the exception of sneaky flip flops, and they are usually neatly in order. Same with my fiance’s shoes. His are actually more organized than mine. I have drawers for under garments, and a huge drawer for socks. I love socks. I have a basket for my scarves, and stacking baskets for my purses(I have a lot of purses). Since we are limited on storage space in our apartment, we have to store things in the closet, so we have stacked plastic bins against the back wall, and I have boxes along the top shelf for Jame’s hats, and one for electronics (plugs, chargers, cell phones…). My kids closet is equally as organized. I love having two layers of hangers. I also added hanging organizers for theirs pants, and folding boxes on shelves for socks and undies. Shoes are in folding boxes, as well. It makes life easier when everything has a home. Especially with kids. Everyone knows where something belongs, so when you need it, it’s there, and it helps hold you, and them accountable.

I have already talked about organizing the kitchen, but I wanted to quickly touch on dishes. JUST WASH THEM. If you see a dish, pick up the sponge! Keeping your kitchen clean is so easy when you keep up on dishes. It’s so daunting to walk in and see a pile. I get overwhelmed, and I freeze. So we just keep the dishes clean. From there, you can sanitize counters and the stove, and you’re done! The fridge and pantry should have places for like foods. Tupperware is awesome for this, plus if you prepare food ahead of time, grabbing snacks and making meals is quicker.

It’s so much easier when everything has a home, not only can I always find the remote because it lives in a basket next to the TV. Kids will still ask questions, of course, but it’s so much easier when they want their shoes and I say go check your basket. Or put your backpacks away (a hook near the door). Even our bathroom is easy. Toothpaste, floss, mouthwash is in a drawer. Toothbrushes are in the holder on the sink. James has a drawer. I have folding boxes for my beauty supplies. All of the rubber bands for pony tails are on rings in a tupperware box in a drawer. Combs and brushes are in a basket. There is a bucket for bath toys. IT’s so simple, and so easy to keep up.

One thing I have learned is that so many people lump organizing and cleaning together. That’s why it takes so long, and you keep procrastinating. If you organize once, and keep it up, cleaning is easier, you are not spending time finding homes for everything, ideally everything is where it belongs, or you can quickly pick things up and put them where they go, and then dust, sanitize, vacuum and mop.

When I am in a bad mood, I clean, reorganize and downsize. James always knows I have had a rough day if there is a bag of trash and a bag for goodwill waiting by the door. I feel so good when my house is clean! I can finally relax when everything is where it belongs. Granted, I don’t often relax. I know I am making this sound simple, and, yes, the idea is… it’s when you throw kids into the mix that everything takes longer. At least with my system, it’s easier.

The glamorous life of a stay at home mom

I may have too much on my plate. Over the past few months I made a lot of changes and commitments. I was already keeping extremely busy, but I was not managing my time well. When I am really busy, and have no time for myself, and there are just not enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks I set out to do, I start to act a little crazy. It’s tough with kids, anything that would normally take you 5 minutes somehow takes an hour now! I feel like all day I am standing at the sink because somehow there are always dishes, and I can never complete all of them. Even if there are only 3 dishes to begin with! As soon as my gloves (yes I wear rubber gloves when I clean. I can’t stand dry hands!) go on it’s like an invitation for each of my kids (and any of the other kiddos that may be at our house at any given point.) to need something! One minute everyone is playing happily, and suddenly someone is crying, someone else needs help in the bathroom, another one is “starving” and I end up rushing around putting someone in time out, icing a booboo, wiping a butt, and fixing a snack. How can I finish anything EVER? The same goes for the laundry, which is often left until James gets home, not because I meant to, I just couldn’t put it all away with all of the interruptions. Especially considering I can be forgetful. If I do not see the laundry basket… There is no laundry. Until I walk into the room that as the basket, then I probably have forgotten why I went into the room, thus interrupting myself to fold clothes. It is a never ending cycle. It takes me all day to get the house in order because it’s nearly impossible to implement a system when you have kids!

By the time James gets home I tend to be frazzled, annoyed, overwhelmed or exhausted. For the record, I think men have a hard time understanding this: just because I am annoyed about something, it doesn’t mean I am unhappy. In fact I am very happy. I just really show my emotions constantly because when I am lying I get uncomfortable and bitter. The only way to keep me healthy mentally is honesty. It’s tough on men to hear negative things all of the time. I know with James, he feels like it’s his job to fix it, and it isn’t. There will always be irritations, without them I would not appreciate the quiet moments after the kids go to bed. Working out and eating before I am starving REALLY help keep my mood swings to a minimum. About the time James comes home I am out the door to work out. It’s really the only time I can make it work, someone needs to watch the kids. After my workout, I shower and either start dinner if James hasn’t and then I sit down to write and work. At this point it is 7pm or later and it’s the first time I have sat down all day. It’s not relax time, either, it’s work.

I also have a few play dates a week. Those are days that cleaning does not happen as much, so I try to pack all the major cleaning into Monday’s and Friday’s. Weekends can be just as crazy. The kids do tend to go to grandparents on weekends, but regardless, I have to work weekends. I will spend the better part of one day at my aunts ranch filing papers, opening mail, organizing receipts, and doing taxes. Weekends also happen to be when my family and friends want to hang out, and to be completely honest, as much as I love them, I do not want to go anywhere or do anything. I cannot remember what it was like to be bored, to have nothing to do. There is always something to do! There is somewhere to go, something to clean, kids to spend time with, food to make, the episode of Weeds that I missed, a phone call I missed, 25 emails to respond to, and in the event that everything is taken care of, it’s hopefully time to actually hang out with my fiance. I used to read. I love books, and I managed to read 2 books in the passed 5 months. One was The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice. She is my favorite author, and I had been waiting so long. The other was because I was recovering from getting my tubes tied, and had time since I was so sore and could not do a whole lot of anything else.

School started for Jenna and L.J. today. Now I get to adjust to the new schedule, and make it work. So far it seems easier, I was able to very quickly pick up the house and there are no dishes in the sink! Whoever said being a Stay At Home Mom was easy??? It does seem like a lot, and in reality it is a lot. When I just had one baby I never got anything done because I could quickly clean up during her nap, or at bedtime. And then there were 3, and nothing was quick. I have been told that I am an overachiever when it comes to the kids, the healthy lifestyle, the house, the job… But I feel like even though I do so much, there is still so much I have yet to do. There are always changes to make, lately more so with parenting. So, yes, I TRY to “over achieve”, I want to be the best for these kids, and for myself. Isn’t that life? You learn, change and grow? Well I’m ever learning, ever changing and ever growing.

Team Work

My fiance constantly blows my mind. A day does not go by that I am not in awe of how involved and supportive he is. Coming from a place where I was convinced that all men were useless and oblivious. (That sounds harsh, I know, but I was bitter, and in an incredibly negative place.) I can’t believe my eyes when he gets home from work and takes the kids to the park, or gets down on the floor and wrestles with them. He put away all of the laundry on Monday, is currently washing the kids dinner dishes and making home made potato chips. He remembers when we are running low on something, and half of the time I do not have remind him to pick up the almond milk we ran out of that morning. The other day he came home with roses for no reason. He just loves me. He is my best friend, and never have I had a more supportive and understanding one. (Although, I do have some pretty amazing friends!)

I would not be able to do this without him. I was losing my mind before he came along. My life revolved around a 3 year old (still does, and we added 2 more!) and I had no life beyond my relatively monotonous day to day with my daughter, Jo. Our lives have been flipped upside down, and are now almost the exact opposite of what they were. My life is filled with play dates, walks, dirty dishes, whining children, and a whole lot of LOVE. There are days that I want nothing more than to run out the door– actually that is exactly what I do! I need to run. Besides fitness, I keep the anxiety at bay that builds from always being positive and loving, even when I am feeling out of control and angry. As soon as he walks in the door, he is doing something productive. He never sits down or rests when there are things to do, he is immediately involved and engaged. He listens. Listening is a huge thing to me. I have not felt heard for most of my life, and he validates me, which means the world to me.
That being said, today I experienced something new to me. This week my fiance’s sister-in-law, who lives next door, and I committed to starting P90X together. Today was our first official day, (see! you can make a goal any day of the week, you don’t need and new year, a new month, or a Monday!) and I am gonna be honest with you, it was HARD!!! I was shaking and lightheaded afterward, and I was so happy to have someone else right there next to me who knew EXACTLY how I was (am currently!) feeling. We are going to hold each other accountable, just like my Facebook page, and this blog hold me accountable. Now I have added to my support system. I have a teammate! I have never worked out with anyone else. I have always been the only one I make my commitment to, and this is an added challenge.
It is important to me to have a support system, especially being on such a tough road. Being a parent, a step parent, working from home, making the change to be healthy, and leading my family on my journey, it’s not easy, but having people in my life that are on my side makes a huge difference.

Let’s get organized!

Getting organized will change your life, it changed mine so much that I have developed a bit of an obsession. It began with the 2 months I lived between places (2 weeks in a motel, and 2 weeks with my ex’s family.) and had a 1 year old. I was so stressed out about not having a home, that I began to mentally nest. I NEEDED stability, but I had none. My initial reaction was to stop eating. This is normal behavior for me when I am stressed out. Having recovered from an eating disorder I have to pay close attention to my eating habits. So for that month, I admit, I did not eat a lot. I just couldn’t. I was so uncomfortable, I needed to focus on something else. I bought this awesome book called The Organized Mom by Stacey Crew http://www.amazon.com/The-Organized-Mom-Simplify-Life/dp/1605501301. I wanted my house to be organized, and pretty and I wanted to know where things were when I needed them. My house is pretty damn organized. I have a drawer with baskets inside, one for my mail, and one for my fiance’ mail. There are cups inside the drawer with pens, and pads of paper. Why is it in a drawer? It’s an eye sore. I can’t stand seeing a mess in my house, and with kids you can’t escape from messes, but you can make an effort keep things decent. That is just one example of a nifty change that makes our lives easier, and prettier.

I want to talk about the kitchen. Keeping your kitchen organized will help you want to prepare food, and encourage you to keep it organized.

Pantry: First of all, take everything out. It’s a mess, I know. Now commit to only replacing the food that is healthy. It might not be much… Are you prepared?  Get a trash bag and fill it with all of your cans,(you can donate all of it, or pass it on to friends or neighbors.) canned food is not good for you. Next, the boxes of ricearoni, and pastaroni… if it has more than 5 ingredients, it’s not good for you. (Do I have food that has more than 5 ingredients? Yes, and slowly but surely they are being replaced, and now they are much fewer than before.) Now throw out the top ramen, and take a look at your noodles… and say goodbye… unless they are wheat, or rice or maybe soba noodles… most likely your noodles are not worth eating unless you have already replaced them. There are healthy alternatives, there are tofu noodles, you can eat spaghetti squash, quinoa!! I LOVE quinoa, I usually use it to replace rice, oh yeah, throw out your white rice. Bread is really tough, because it is hard to find bread that does not have a lot of ingredients. Next time you’re at the store, READ THE LABELS! Chips, the chips we like are a little naughty, but, we are not hard core yet, so we eat flax chips. Although sometimes we make them! Also, I will admit that occasionally I will buy hot cheetos (I know, I’m fired, but the kids love them! They are being phased out, though). Flour, get rid of white flour. And sugar. Cereal? Try organic! Replace your vegetable oil with coconut oil, or sunflower seed oil. replace peanut butter with sunflower seed butter or almond butter. Are you getting the idea? Now that you have no food… Let’s put it away.

Put all of your like items together. If you have small things, you can do what I do, I have two boxes that are filled with things like oatmeal packets, granola bars, trail mix, and other small snacks. Everything else belongs in it’s own space.

Refrigerator: The fridge should be easy, keep fruits and veggies, and make room, because next time you shop, you are filling your fridge with more fruits and more veggies. If your eggs are not cage free, put them in the bag, replace your milk with almond milk. If you have those disgusting little individually wrapped craft cheeses, *gag* throw them out. You can do better. Personally I use dairyless cheese. But if you can at least get rid of plastic cheese, that would be great. Make sure your meat is organic (see my blog “Why Organic” for details). I honestly can’t remember other crap foods from the fridge because ours has been very clean for a long time. Just make room, You will need it.

Look around the kitchen and figure out if you have put things in convenient places. The coffee maker should be near the cabinet for mugs, for instance. The spoons you use frequently in cooking should be in a vase near the stove. The oven mitts should either be hanging on or near the stove, or the nearest drawer. Tupperware should be organized and contained. I have a bottow drawer that has all the plastic bowls and plates and cups for the kids. It’s easy for them to get to, and it’s all in one place. Go through your drawers and take out everything you don’t need, don’t use, or is broken.

Is there a pile of dishes in your sink… or along the counter? Do your dishes! Just do them! If it’s dirty, wash it. It’s simple. I used to be that person that did not do my dishes until I had no more clean spoons. Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived. Keeping your dishes clean will simplify your life. Keeping up with them is so much easier than spending an hour every few days.

Now that your kitchen is nearly empty, give yourself a pat on the back and make a meal plan. Meal plans make it easier to make a shopping list. Start small, the next week. You can even try going to a website like Emeals http://emeals.com/ , or an amazing blog  http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ that my friend showed me a few days ago. I suggest planning out every meal, but it might be better to slowly work up to that.

One thing that makes my life easier, is preparing food in advance, so all you have to do is heat it up. I make my pasta sauce, noodles, purees and cut up my fruits and veggies, boil eggs, and fill water bottles and put everything in tupperware so it’s easy to grab when I need it. Whether I am running out the door and need a kid friendly snack (or 5), or I need to make a meal.

I hope this was not boring… I just know that organizing made a huge impact for me in every area, so maybe it can help some of you.