Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Little Word 2016: Planning

Have you heard of the One Little Word concept?  If not, you can read about my discovery of it here.  Then come back and find out the next step to help you nurture your word.
If you don't plan your actions, then you usually end up not achieving your goals, and living emotionally instead of intentionally. For example, if I don't plan what I am going to do in the evening, I get home, eat dinner, and start to feel tired. I sit on the couch and stare at my phone, or watch DVR. If I plan my evening, I have written goals, and I am more motivated to do them because I have purpose. And I want to check off the things on my list. So even though I know the laundry needs to be folded and put away, and technically, I don't need to "plan" for that in my planner, if I don't write it down, then it doesn't happen!
The same thing goes for your One Little Word. In order to have continued focus on your word, grab a sheet of paper, a notebook, diary, etc., and start thinking about the following. Write it down, keep it with you, add to it, refer to it. It will help you be successful in making this word count in 2016.

Your Word

Why is your OLW important to you? Why does this matter? Write it down so you don’t forget.

 How will your OLW affect you and others?

Four mini goals: Break down your OLW into steps. How will you accomplish this? What are the pieces you need to include? This takes your overall word into small, manageable parts.
Here is mine:

Why is your OLW important to you? Being calm is important because I waste so much of my life worrying, and being anxious about things I cannot even control. When I am not calm, I am not the best wife, mother, or friend.

Why does this matter? This matters to me because I see my son being anxious. I realize that this is partially due to genetics for both of us, so it may never completely go away. At least, not without a LOT of daily intentional behavior modification. However, it can be minimized. I want to be a good example to him. I hope that he will mimic the behaviors he sees in me. I am also doing this to become a better version of myself.

How will your OLW affect you and others? Our household will have less tears, less anger, less regret. My relationship with my husband and my children will improve. I will feel less anxiety.

Four mini goals:

Mini Goal #1: Be present. By living in the now, I cannot focus on the past or the future. Intentionally take each moment as it comes. When worry or other negative thoughts creep in, let them go. If something is important enough that it will matter one year from now, address it with thoughtfulness in order to come to a resolution.

Mini Goal #2: Lower the bar. Practice, not perfection. Promising to wake up early each day, or end each day with yoga is ideal, but not realistic. My goal is to do yoga three times per week. Yoga brings meditation and peace. Another goal is to draw once a week. Drawing will provide a visual reminder of my OLW.

Mini Goal #3: Remove anxiety triggers from my lifestyle. When I consume sugar and caffeine, I find myself becoming more anxious. Going to bed on time, even when my husband is not home, is important. Getting rid of clutter will allow me to feel calm.

Mini Goal #4: Unplug. Being away from social media will allow me to accomplish the first three goals. If my face is not in my phone, I will have time to express gratitude, perform self care, enjoy my family, etc. The time between work and bed time will be spent away from electronics.
Share yours!  Comment, or link to your blog!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Spread: Breakfast

As we head into 2016, I think many of us intend to better ourselves in some way - emotionally, financially, physically.  Even if we don't officially say, "I am making XYZ my New Year's Resolution", the new year is always a good time for a fresh start.

I get a lot of questions about my "diet".  I put it in quotations because it is not any particular diet plan.  The way I eat is truly a lifestyle.  I have done diets - I think Atkins was my first one.  I have seen my mom and my girlfriends do diets.  None of them stuck.  Mine didn't either.  When I stopped eating gluten, it finally clicked for me that any change in my nutritional habits would have to be permanent.  It was just a switch that turned off (or on?), and now saying no to gluten is not difficult at all.  People say, "Oh, you're so good to not eat that brownie."  Um, no.  It's poison for my body.

Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol have not been as easy of a switch.  But I am working on it, and that is my intention for 2016.

Anyway, I am not in shape at all, cardio-speaking (is that a word?).  Or weights.  Another intention.

However, even without exercise, my body stays fairly average/slim.  This could be attributed to some good metabolic genetics, but I believe it is mainly due to my food intake.  Many are surprised to find out that I do not work out, and then they immediately want to know what I eat (or don't eat) in order to keep the weight off.  When, honestly, I'm not necessarily trying to eat a specific way for weight loss.  I'm just eating healthy overall.

The other day, one co-worker asked me for my specific meal plan.  I shared with her, and she was determined to follow this so that she could lose a few pounds. However, the next day, she brought in similar items to what I had mentioned, but the absolute poorest choices!  It never ceases to amaze me that people do not know the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food.  They think that because something is a fruit that it is healthy.  This is not so!  We really need to educate ourselves more about the ingredients in our food.

What I would like to do is share with you what I do eat, and then share examples of good and bad alternatives.  If you ever have a question, I would love to answer, so feel free to comment or send me a message.  However, disclaimer:  I am not a professional dietitian/nutritionist/health care provider.  This is just what I do based on my own Google research.

I will break down each meal into one post so that you aren't overwhelmed by the information.  Today we will talk about breakfast.

During the week, my breakfast is the same:  plain greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts.  On the weekend, I put yogurt into little containers and bag up nuts (meal prepping!).  Then the night before, I just grab a container of yogurt, a bag of nuts, and a fruit and throw them in my lunch bag.  It's super easy.

On the weekend, it can vary, but not much:  tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa.  Things that require a little more prep work and are not ideal for rushed weekday mornings.

After our conversation where I discussed my breakfast meal, my co-worker brought in:  canned fruit cocktail and sweetened fruit yogurt.  I almost died.  She is probably consuming more than her daily recommendation for sugar during breakfast alone!  Yet she has no idea and believes she is being healthy because she's eating "like" me.

Let's break down the weekday breakfast.  All options are things I would consider eating for breakfast.  Other options will be mentioned under other meals posts.

I have a dairy, a fruit, and a protein.  Dairy can be tricky, it's not my favorite as far as being the healthiest.  You can read why I think this here.  But I do eat it.

Also note that serving size does matter.  You can't eat five eggs at breakfast and say it's healthy.  To determine what you desire your calorie intake to be and to discover what each food item's calorie count is, check out Lose It.  I used this until I got into a routine and then I memorized what I needed to consume each day.  Much of my food is repetitive, so I don't need to record each day.  If you like variety and change your meals often, their tracking program is awesome to keep your calories in check.  And it's free!

Having a routine helps keep me on track as well.  If I decide to have pancakes and bacon for breakfast on a special occasion, I don't then continue to make poor choices for the rest of the day (at least, I try not to, although sometimes #pmsbelike gimme some chocolate and wine).  When I have purchased the food I normally eat, it is easy for me to go back to my routine next meal after a splurge.  This may not work for everyone.  Some people just spiral out of control.  You have to know yourself.

Good dairy options:  plain cottage cheese, sliced cheese (cheddar, provolone, etc.), eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, butter.  I consume full fat products, not low fat or non fat.  But this is a very small portion of my meal.  One serving or less.

Bad dairy options:  ice cream, American cheese, any flavored yogurt, including flavored greek yogurt.  These ALL have unnecessary sugar added, or fake sugar.  I don't care what the packaging says.  This includes "vanilla" yogurt.  You need plain.  PLAIN.  Add your own fresh or frozen fruit for flavor.  Then you are in control of what is in your food.

Good fruit options:  fresh fruit or frozen fruit.  Check the ingredients to make sure the only thing listed is fruit.  If you are concerned about cost, find out what produce is in season and those will usually be less expensive than out of season produce.

Bad fruit options:  canned fruit of any kind, juice, jelly/jam, dried fruit (including raisins), candied fruit, fruit snacks, smoothies.

Good protein options:  eggs, ham (not deli meat), chicken, salmon, quinoa, seeds, beans, natural peanut butter or almond butter.

Bad protein options:  candied nuts, bacon (I know, boo), sausage.

The weekend breakfast is more of a splurge.  I try to stay away from consuming a lot of carbs, as they usually come in the form of processed foods.  But this is about balance.  This is why "diets" don't work long term.  My lifestyle overall is healthy.  So a splurge here and there are acceptable for me. Tortilla (gluten free), egg, avocado, salsa.

Carbs, dairy, and veggies.  We already went over the dairy.

Good carb options:  corn tortillas, half a slice of whole wheat or seeded bread, sweet potato, pretzels.  You are looking for things that are as natural as possible, which is difficult to find in carbs.  That is why I like to stay away from them.

Bad carb options:  white bread, cereal, cream of wheat, donuts, muffins, oatmeal.

Good veggie options:  fresh veggies!  The possibilities are endless!  Spinach, zucchini, cucumber, squash, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, etc.  You could make an amazing frittata with tons of veggies.  And frozen veggies, but just like the fruit, check the ingredients list.  This should not include any sauces, butter, or cheese.

Bad veggie options:  white potatoes, corn.

I hope these tips help you come up with some healthy breakfast ideas.  Next time I will talk about lunch options!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Craft: Hand Ring Holder

Making Christmas crafts with my kids is one of my favorite things to do.  They make the best gifts for grandparents, and it is a terrific way to connect and engage with your kids.

Last year, I had them make hand shaped ring dishes.  I found this idea on Pinterest (obv).

Following the directions, I picked up the air drying clay from Michael's Craft Store.  I had them lay their hands on the clay and used a plastic knife to make indentations around their fingers.  Then I pulled their hand off and finished cutting out the shape.  I molded the hand around my son's Pokeballs!

After a couple of days, I pulled the hands off and had the girls paint them.  This was their favorite part, as they love painting!

Do you ever have leftover paper plate or bowls from birthday parties?  This is perfect for dropping a few dabs of paint for this kind of project.  Easy cleanup - just throw away the plate when you are done!

Another tip - use an old fitted sheet over your kitchen table.  It will (mostly) protect your table, you can throw it in the washer when you are done, and it is reusable!

I used miniature twine to wrap a note on a tag around one of the fingers.  I don't remember what I said, but something like, "Grandmas hold our tiny hands for a little while, but our hearts forever."  Wrap it up, and you're all set!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Party Planning: 2 Year Old Kitty Birthday Party

I absolutely love party planning.  I want to share some of my party planning themes with you.  I always use my Ultimate Party Planner to plan out my party.  You can check it out here.

When my youngest daughter turned two, she really wanted a kitty.  She was obsessed with cats.  We decided it was the right time for our family to get a cat, and a friend's cat was having kittens, so it was meant to be!

I toyed with the color purple as the theme color, but I wasn't loving it, and then I came across this kitty dress and tshirt.  So coral and lavender became the colors!


I designed the invitations.  I printed them two sided and then cut the cardstock in half.  I folded them and sealed them with coordinating colored washi tape.

Next was the cake.  I love ombre.  #ombreallthethings  I chose a simple round cake with ombre airspray, and then I made these tiny balls of yarn and attached them to some paper straws in coordinating colors.

 I found these great plates, napkins, and cups in similar colors.  I also purchased a lavender tablecloth and orange table runner.  I found wooden utensils and paper straws with coordinating color stripes on them.


For the decor, I opted for kitty litter and cat food. Everyone got a kick out of this!

I also found these tiny kitty figures.  I spelled out "CAT" with blocks, and placed some Swedish Fish in an apothecary container.   I also made more yarn balls.

I read "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" during the party.

The time of this party allowed for light refreshments, just punch and cake.  I served a coral drink (peach mint tea), and a lavender drink (blueberry spritzer).  Garnished with fresh mint and blueberries.

I also served strawberry, chocolate, and regular milk in these milk bottles, tied with yarn.

Each child adopted a kitty.  They named their new friend and received an adoption certificate.  They were sent home with their new kitty, a feeding dish, kitty stickers, Swedish Fish, a KitKAT, and goldfish crackers, all in a cute little basket.



This was one of my favorite parties to plan!  It was unique and fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

One Little Word: 2016

Have you heard of the One Little Word concept?  Ali Edwards is where I first heard of this.  I started doing this during the middle of 2015.  My word was "Present".  I wanted to be more present in my life.  I didn't truly immerse myself into my word the way I plan to in 2016, and yet it still made a huge impact on my daily life.  I am so excited to see how my life will change in 2016 when I am actually focusing on my word on a regular basis!

When I present this idea to my friends, the first thing I often hear is, "I don't even know where to start."  Considering the amount of words we have available to us, this does not come as a surprise.  We want our word to make a difference.  We want it to mean something.  It's overwhelming to narrow it down to just one word.  I felt the same way when I started thinking about my word.

Here are some tips on how to arrive at your word, as well as some information of how I came to my word.

1.  There is no right or wrong way to choose a word.  When you hear "your" word, you will know in your heart.

2.  Think about what you want to intentionally focus on in 2016.  Work?  Home?  Health?  Marriage?  Kids?  Of course, after you choose your word, it can, and often times will, spill over into every area of your life.

3.  Be selfish.  This word is for you, and you only.  You don't have to share it with your kids, your spouse, your dog.  This is just for you (or at least, it can be).

4.  Do you struggle with something in life?  What is the exact opposite of that struggle?  Is that something you want to work on next year?

5.  What inspires you?  What gives your tummy butterflies?  Do you need a word that will challenge you?

The word I have chosen for 2016 is "Calm".

When I began to think about my word, I thought about my struggles. I am an anxious person.  For various reasons, my anxiety has gotten worse over the past few years.  I see it affect the people in my life who I love so dearly.  I can do, and have done, things to work on this anxiety, and I do see it improving.  I want to continue this in 2016.  Some words that came to me when I thought about the opposite of anxiety were:  peace, tranquility, composed, happy, content.  And calm.  When I thought of the word calm, it really struck a chord for me.  I knew that would be my word.

Later, I will talk about how I am going to incorporate this word into my life.  One thing that my girlfriend and I have done (her genius idea), was create a Facebook group.  In this group, we will have prompts to encourage you to focus on your word.  We will support, brainstorm, and celebrate together.

If you'd like to join, click on the link, and we would love to have you!  Meet some new people, have a new experience. And choose your word.

What is your word in 2016? What will you meditate on? How will move forward with purpose? What word will you choose to live in 2016?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Disneyland Planning: Part Three

My favorite part!  Here is where I tell you my favorite tips for a trip away from home.  Be sure to also read Part One and Part Two.

Did you know that your olfactory sense is very closely related to your memory?  When I smell moth balls, I am instantly transported to my great grandma's farm house in Nebraska.  I can see the rhubarb growing beneath the kitchen window.  There was a white wooden staircase leading from the side of the house to the backyard.  I can see the clothes blowing on the clothing line outside in the hot, muggy wind.  The house had four floors - basement, first floor, second floor, and the attic.  The kids went to the attic to look through her treasures.  This is where the moth balls were.  I haven't been to that house in over twenty years, and yet the smell of moth balls makes it seem like I was there yesterday.  The sense of smell is very powerful.

Therefore, Tip #1:  before you leave on your trip, pick up a new air freshener for your car, and a matching scent air freshener for your hotel.  Get a scent you don't normally use.  If you use pumpkin in your house, your brain won't solely associate pumpkin with your vacation.  Put your new air freshener in your car before you leave.  And when you get to the hotel, set up your air freshener.  Your brain will associate this smell with these experiences, and when you smell it again, you will be transported back to your fond family vacation memories.  Wild, right?

Tip #2:  Child carriers.  Disneyland rents strollers for a very reasonable price.  If your children don't normally use strollers, but are still too young to walk all day, renting a stroller each day won't break the bank.  And, it's one less thing to purchase and/or pack.  Another item I would bring is a carrier.  If you are into babywearing, you will love this.  If you haven't heard of babywearing, Google it.  NOW.  It is the most amazing concept ever for mommies.  I borrowed an SCC (soft structured carrier) from my AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL girlfriend.  Here are several options, and completely worth the investment, because you will use this after you return home.  My favorite is the Boba.  If you have a child that still naps, they will most likely snooze in this thing, allowing you to stay at the park for the entire day.

Bonus Tip:  If you bring or rent a stroller, bring a bike lock.  The first time I went to Disneyland, our stroller was stolen (or mistakenly taken).  I was really upset, and determined to not let this happen again.  We used the bike lock to secure the stroller to a post.

Tip #3:  If you wish to partake in a special meal at the park (Blue Bayou or a character meal), only eat one meal per day at Disneyland.  Their food is expensive, and some of the food is not that great.  Each day, we had breakfast at the hotel in the morning, filled our insulated backpack with snacks (beef jerky, fruit, carrots, nuts, protein bars), and sandwiches.  Bonus was that we could eat meals while waiting in line, so the kids were distracted!  Most restaurants require a reservation - you will need to make these reservations well in advance of your trip.  At least 30 days.  I recommend making lunch the meal you have at a restaurant.  Plan to have your reservation around 11-11:30 so that you are eating by noon.  You will eat the most food during this meal, so your tummies will remain full for most of the afternoon.  It is also a nice way to break up the walking and waiting in line.

Bonus Tip:  If you have a dietary restriction, do not be afraid to mention it.  My son and I are gluten free, and everywhere we went provided us with a separate menu.  There were tons of gluten free options (including desserts and yummy bread rolls!).  I dislike making a big deal of being gluten free because it is such a "fad" right now.  Usually I just look for something that will work for me on the regular menu.  But it is a real thing, and someone told me that Disneyland had great GF options.  I was very happy to see my son scarf down his rolls and desserts, something he doesn't usually get to do when we eat out.

 Root beer float with Mickey sprinkles!

Tip #4:  If you go in October, buy a Halloween Party ticket.  You could do this a couple of days, actually.  Relax in the morning (go swimming, walk Downtown Disney, have lunch, take naps, etc.), then go to the park (I think they start letting you in at 3 p.m., BE SURE TO CHECK THAT INFO).  This is a special event.  They only sell a certain number of tickets, so there aren't as many people in the park as usual.  Also, they have several Trick or Treat stations throughout the park, and when the people are in line for this, there are no lines for the rides.  We went on every ride we wanted to go on, some more than once!

Halloween decor was amazing!

Halloween Party bracelet.

Tip #5:  This is a how to for the peek-a-boo rice game I made before the trip.  I took a heavy duty plastic bag, and filled it half way with rice.  Then I went around the house and found small items to add.  This one included a clothes pin, a green wooden triangle block, a bracelet, a piece of candy, a lego, a toy apple, and I'm sure a few other things.  Then I zipped it up and taped the top of the bag shut with washi tape.  I asked the kids to find items based on color, size, shape.  It was great entertainment for them!

Tip #6:  Download the Disneyland app.  This benefits you two ways.  First, it's an instant map of the park, and it shows you exactly where you are in the park.  Even though I did print the Disneyland map, and they hand them out like crazy in the park, the map is really busy and can be confusing when two children are running circles around you.  Second, it tells you how long the wait is for rides!

Tip #7:  Put your phone on battery save mode, and trade off phone usage.  For example, I keep my phone on for the first half of the day (still with battery save on), and Mr. Perfect turns his off until the afternoon.  Then we switch.  This can save a lot of battery life.  A long day at Disneyland using your camera, posting to Facebook, texting photos to your family, will drain your battery very quickly.  There aren't a ton of places to charge your phone, nor is that how you want to spend your time at Disneyland!  Here are more tips on how to prolong your battery life.

Finally, Tip #8:  Make a book of your adventure!  I love Blurb.  Each year I make a photo book of our year for the grandparents.  This year, our Disneyland photos will have their own separate book.

I hope these tips and the other information I have provided helps you have an organized and successful family vacation, either to Disneyland or elsewhere.  Happy Organizing!!