Monday, January 31, 2011

I've Come a Long Way in Four years

Today I had a meeting with a personal trainer.  She went through the standard questions with me and when she got to "what are your goals"... I was kind of stuck.  I hadn't really though about it specifically.  Sure I want to be able to eat more food and burn more of it just sitting on my butt folding laundry.  Which is called Base Metabolic Rate.  And I've always said that I want Jillian Micheal's arms and back.  But all I could really say was that I wanted to lose 10 lbs.  I know that's not really important, but the fact of the matter is I don't know how to stop trying to lose weight.  Even though I've been maintaining my weight for more than 6 months, I've kind of just kept the "lose it" mentality.  It's kind of a safe place to be.  I guess at this point I'm going to try eating the Clean way and see what happens.  I do want to increase my muscle mass so that I can burn more calories - when I'm not at the gym.  So I need to eat more protein and incorporate heavy resistance training in my workouts. 

Throughout this process the trainer was amazed that I had lost that much weight on my own without a personal trainer or nutritionist.  So tonight I decided to take a look at the pictures when I was at my heaviest weight.  I was massively pregnant with Annaliese (who did end up coming out at a whopping 10 lbs 8 oz).  And I actually think that I was close to 260 in this picture.  So here are my before and after pictures.  Four years apart and three babies born. 

I am proud of the work I've done.  I should be happy!  Really happy right?  But I'm still struggling.  Well I am going to say this, I will be eating a piece of Luke's chocolate birthday cake Wednesday so I guess I am liberating myself in a way.  But I think being healthy and losing this much weight is kind of like the battle an alcoholic deals with.  But my drug of choice was food and the temptation will always be there to turn to a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream for comfort or to escape.  Based on the numbers out there the need for support with emotional eating is huge.  I guess I've replaced the endorphins I used to get with food with the ones I now get from working out.  Something I'm learning about myself is that I am a bit of an endorphin junky.  I wonder if it's the type A personally I have, the addictive qualities.  Humm.  Oh well I guess the first part of getting better is to recognize the problem(s).  

Nutrition on the Brain.

So for the last couple of days I have been doing a ton of reading and researching about nutrition getting prepared for the seminars I'm going to be helping present.  I love learning about all this stuff.  I'm smiling now because knowing the nutrition information about a ton of different foods means I can stuff even more healthy foods into my muffins, cookies and bars.  I don't have much time anymore to watch much tv, but I do know that the Dr.Oz and Steven and Chris shows are great because they are giving props to foods that deserve them.

My mom taught me a lot about healthy eating, and for that I'm very grateful because it was a great starting point.  It's not that she "taught me" per say but she was always making herself amazing soups, jam packed with healthy veggies and other wholesome ingredients.  I talked to her this weekend about what she struggles with now in her diet, because even though people seem to eat healthy, it can always be better.  She said she is struggling with getting enough protein and that is one area that I have a hard time with also.  I was looking at the Canadian food guide and it doesn't seem to include enough servings of protein to provide you with the grams of protein we need.  From what I understand we need 1 g of protein for each KG of body weight.  That number actually goes higher when you are resistance training and endurance training to 1.2 -1.4 g/Kg body weight.  So based on the lowest amount of protein I need ~61 grams of protein.  When an ounce of meat or fish has approximately 7 grams of protein, 1 egg has 6 grams, 1/2 cooked beans has ~ 7-10 grams and 1/4 cup of almonds has 8 grams .  Geeze I need to be eating so much more food in a day, actually now that I think of it whole wheat grains also have protein, I shouldn't forget to mention that quinoi contains all the amino acids used to make up protein.  I also want these protein sources to be lean.  No wonder the "protein powder" industry is huge.  How many women have protein powder in their daily diets?  I've added Hemp Hearts to my day to get more protein but I don't think it's enough.  Hum anyway I'll have to find out more about protein rich foods and how to incorporate them.  I would like to mention that I also took the time to compare the Canadian food guide (CFG) to Tosca Reno's Cooler plans, although Cooler 1 is very slim compared the the CFG, Cooler 2 is much closer to the CFG with the exception that Tosca really does push more protein portions in her life style.  I hate to call it a diet (the word implies restrictions) but it's a way of life, choosing foods based on their nutritional density to fuel our bodies so that we are more efficient at burning it off.

For one thing I am going to change up my breakfast to match Tosca's bowl of oats.  I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast while I was up in Sudbury, probably because it's was so cold. I ate 1/2 cup Roger's Oats with a cup of boiling water, with 1/2 mashed banana, some nutmeg, ground flax and walnuts.  I would boil the water then add it to the bowl of oats, cover it and let stand for 10 minutes, then I added all the flavours and good stuff.  It's amazing I feel so good once I start my day off on the right note.  I was amazed because my kids also wanted to eat the same oatmeal.  I didn't even bother to offer it, thinking they wouldn't be interested, but all 3 kids gobbled it up.  Cool!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Great White North... Brrrrr

Wow I am so sorry that I didn't post yesterday.  It has been nuts around here.  The kids behaving on the ride up was the easiest part.  Ha, mostly because they were strapped in their car seats and around here.... uggg.. Now don't get me wrong I love my parents house, but it is NOT kid proofed.  And my dad gets mad when they get into stuff.  So I've been chasing the rug rats around for the last 2 days.  They spent some time outside but when it's minus a million degrees, how often would you want to romp around the snow?   So it's been playing in the loft with the toys, playing in the hot tub, and generally following the trail of destruction and cleaning up after them.  Thankfully mom is the best and works overtime to help with them :)  but she had to work Friday and I was wiped.  I don't know how single mom's do everything they do.  Saints all of them.

Here the kids are making "gummy worms and rings". 
And yes I actually let them eat them (yuk... sugar).  But they were happy !

This was too cute! Patrick was holding on to mom's sweater like she was a horsey.

I am thrilled because I got to go to the gym this morning.  I bundled all 3 kids up and braved the white roads.  We survived the trip all the way to the gym (35 minutes to get there). I am totally spoiled getting to my gym in less than 15 minutes.  I had a great workout: combat new release, then weights.  I did notice that the Lasalle gym doesn't have the "man zone" the same way our Burlington does.  It was dead in the gym and so I had a chance to practice a bunch of new moves.  Well stuff that I used to do all the time in University but then stopped doing.  Probably because when I got kids I didn't want to use my brain when I went to the gym.  I just wanted a good workout and someone else to do the prep work.  But what caught me off guard was that the instructor of combat came over to me after class and asked if I was a visiting from out of town.  I laughed and said I was.  Thinking to myself, wow is it that obvious?  Then she asked me how long I had been instructing.  I laughed again and I told her that I've been doing combat for 4 years but wasn't an instructor.  I guess my wraps confused her.  Fair enough.  So I braved the snow covered roads again and got everyone home safe and sound. 

The kids chowing down on birthday cake!

Today was my grand fathers 85 Birthday party.  That's why we came up here in the first place.  It was a nice party, mom cooked way to much food and the kids got to play with their friend Gavin.  My "Deda" made a really nice speech thanking everyone individually for celebrating with him.  It was very touching when 3 times tonight he told me how beautiful I am and how amazing of a job I'm doing raising my kids.  "They are so beautiful and smart" he told me.  It's funny because so many people can say nice stuff to me and I just don't hear it.  Tonight the stars aligned and I felt beautiful and I felt proud of the work I have done raising my family.  Something to be said when a wise, proud and intelligent man recognizes the work I do.  I know my dad won't ever say stuff like that, but it means the world to hear his own dad saying it.  They (grandparents) must just know the stuff kids need to hear. They've been around long enough to know I guess. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have GOOD NEWS!!!!

No no... I'm not pregnant (yet), but I'm pretty happy about a few things.  First of all I've been mulling this over for the past 2 days and now I'm ready to disclose that ...

Happiness is....wanting less !

Second today I was asked to present 4 seminars on "healthy eating for family's and kids" (or stuff like that).  I was ready to do it for free, I try to convert everyone I meet to be healthier anyway, but I'll get paid!  Woohoo!  Who would have thought that my hobby and passion could actually get me some money?? I thought it was only what "those people" say when they do what they love and make a career out of it.  Well I guess it could work, my degree is Kin and I'm a teacher! I guess I figure I don't have a degree in nutrition so that is kicking my confidence, but conversely I do have 3 kids!!! So I know what it's like to feed your kids/family.  Even though I'm not an expert, I am a fanatic...  (Ok so at this point Mark is reading this and thinking.... wow this is a stream of conscious thought.

Getting to the third, and not last, GOOD news!  I drove 5 hours with my kids and no husband and it was awesome.  No technology needed (no ipod or dvd's) and the little monkey's didn't sleep (so no break for me).  We chatted, listened to loud music and counted!  It was great, I'm actually not being sarcastic, I was anticipating crying, whining, complaining and yelling.  But nothing, I think the kids were so excited to be going to visit my parents that they were on their best behaviour. (as an aside I'm drinking this tea my mom has Mohito - oooohhhh it's good)  We only stopped once and it was in/out no treats needed.  I'm proud of that! Because we walked into a Tim's and neither of my kids asked for anything.

And last but not least I treated myself to the Book : The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno and I can't wait to dig into it while up in the great white North.  My highlighter is begging to be gripped and used!!! lol ooh and the little yellow post-its.. hehehe... I love new books.  Remember when we were kids and we got to order scholastic books from those cheesy little fliers.  I used to poor endlessly over them till I picked just the right book.  And the excitement of not knowing when it was going to be handed to me.  Now I get to see my daughter do that.  It's so cute.  Like mother, like daughter. 

What a good day!  Anything good happen to anyone else.  Let's share... anything, good tea, good news, no traffic jams (which was also bonus), good workout, good book??? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Morning with the Kidlets

So today was supposed to be Luke's 3rd Birthday party but there is a serious case of sniffles and buggy viruses going around and almost everyone had canceled so I decided to postpone Luke's party till next Wednesday.  He's worth it, I think the little man deserve so be recognized and spoiled for a day by all his friends.  I think we all need it sometimes.  So I decided that I would have fun with the kids anyway and still make pancakes for them :)  Here are some pictures of the morning.  All three kids are napping right now so that's why I have time to post this.

These are my favorite buttermilk oatmeal pancakes topped with a warm berry spread with chia seeds (and low fat whipped cream), served with fresh fruit salad and low sodium bacon.

Oh dear the light is terrible in the picture. 

Time to colour!

They did an awesome job working and sharing together.

Time to be silly! 


More Blah.....

Patrick insists that we are the best Blahhhhers EVER!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All About Me: Q & A

I have to first give credit to Jen because I'm stealing her format and idea.  But it was so awesome.  You can check out her blog to see the original! 

1) Who is Natalie Francisco?
I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 children, married 5 1/2 years to an amazing man, I am strong and stubborn.  I love to workout because I love the endorphins (who doesn't like natures prozac).  I want to compete in something but I don't know what yet.  So I want to train for something, because I'm fit now and need a goal to work towards.  I was a competitive swimmer for about 10 years as well as a wrestler and did a bit of martial arts (jui-jitsu, grapling and boxing).  So that basically explain my need to train.  I love being in my kitchen, cooking and baking because I like being in control of the food I give my family.  This is a new development in my life, so I'm still learning and love to learn.  Speaking of love to learn, I am a part of a small church group with helps me understand the meaning of scripture and how I can apply it to make my life better.  I need routine, I get anxious without it.  But in a nut shell, I am an overanalizing, type A personality, that sees the good in people and trusts people instantly.  I'm hard on myself but have so much to offer my friends and family. 

2) What are you proud of?
I am proud of the fact that I haven't lost control of my temper this last week.  I am proud that I use cloth diaper on all the babies, and that we only clean with "nature clean" products, that all my personal care products are totally natural (you could eat them), that our house is considered green and energy efficient, we have a clothes line and use it about 6-7 months a year, that I make most of our food from scratch, that I nursed all 3 kids, that we have huge veggie and herb gardens (and fruit trees, strawberries and grapes) in our backyard, that my kids are polite (most of the time), and of the weight loss I've had without a diet or "meal plan diet".  I'm proud of my creativeness with health food and of my strength and endurance at the gym.  I'm very proud of the fact that I workout till I nearly puke and that I can NOW go into man zone and not feel weird.

3) How did you lose over a 100 lbs in a year?
I changed my relationship with food. I took a "lose it cycling" course a while back which had a nutrition component and taught me how to track food and recognize that I was eating way too much.  But not enough of the really good stuff that would keep me feeling full.  I read a couple of books that really helped me out (and I keep looking for new stuff to keep me motivated).  But with the research I did, I found that I personally had to seriously cut back on the sugar and salt, and eat more low glycemic foods.  I almost feel that I eat like a diabetic.  I eat whole grains, cut out tons of dairy, get good fats and eat protein that is low in saturated fats.  I think now I eat "clean", or as clean as I can.  I met a farmer and he raised our pig and cow (all organic and free range).  And in the summer I get tons of food from the farmers market.  I also work out at Goodlife a ton.  When I was in serious weight loss mode, I was putting in about 10-11 hours a week at the gym.  Now that I'm on maintenance I do about 6-7 hours a week.  I do cardio, yoga, resistance training and just recently added doing weights (heavy enough that I do 3 sets of 7-8 to failure) I also adopted the philosophy that losing weight was a job, monday-friday, and on weekends I let my self indulge a bit more.  I also set weekly goals, something that I could change or substitute that I could maintain for the rest of my life.  (ex. putting unsweetened almond milk in my tea and cereal everyday)  Plus it did help that I love to cook and learning about cooking.

4) Would you consider yourself a "hippie"?
 In a way yes, but also "not quite".  Other than caffeine and alcohol I don't partake in any other illicit substances.  I do own about 4 pairs of Birkenstocks (and yes I wear them everyday with socks), and very much enjoy yoga.  I eat stuff like "hemp seeds" and "chia seeds" and humus (that I make from no salt added chickpeas).  I enjoy campfires and nature.  I am however not zen enough to really be a hippie.  I rarely buy new clothes, always used for me and the kids. And we are very "environment friendly" tons of recycling and composting for us  (we only make about 1 1/2 grocery bags worth of garbage a week). Ps Of course we use reusable bags-but sometimes I need the garbage bags so I get them.  I read the "Healthy Hippie" online magazine and really like it but don't know anything about the music bands they talk about.  That's all I can think of but I'm sure I'll remember more stuff later that I wanted to add.  

5) What makes you happy? (list the simple pleasures that you experience in your everyday life)
In no particular order...
- creating and eating super healthy food
- being with my kids (the hugs and snuggles - the snikles (this is a word Annaliese invented to say snuggle and tickle)
- accomplishing stuff at the gym that I couldn't do before
- stupid hot baths
- coffee
- a glass of red wine (or 2 or 3)
- talking with friends and feeling like I'm an important part of a community
- kale and spinach (in my smoothies)
- hot yoga with Sam
- sitting down with my hot yogourt bowl watching tv
- my backyard in the summer
- sex (can I write that?) ha.. oh well
- dark chocolate
- watching the kids play together (nicely of course)
- SLEEP and my bed!

I know this list could go on but I feel pretty good right now!  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Comfort Food and my Body Weight Issues.

Am I the only one that doesn't get to sit down till now?  I don't really mind it because I'm sure it means I'm burning more calories as I'm running around all day and so I can have that glass of wine when I do get to sit down.  Even this morning when I took the boys to the early years center to play, I would have (a year ago) totally sat down and drank coffee while chatting with other mom's but today it was run run run... Patrick kept getting picked on, eating marker's and trying to get in the paint.  No down time for me.  Well that's a lie.  By the time I got everyone back home and served lunch, I was getting sleepy, I shouldn't be putting decaf in the coffee maker.  Patrick almost threw himself in the crib to sleep but Luke was pretty cranky and wanted to lie down with me in my bed.  I can't lie, I didn't mind one bit.  Plus I did fall asleep for a while :)  sigh***  that was the best.  Then it was wake up and go go go (again). Pick up Annaliese, start diner, read her the french books she has to return for "reading marathon", serve diner, start to clean up, run out the house to the gym, and then finally make it back home to finish cleaning up and sit down to eat my bowl of yogurt.  I should tell you what my most favorite post workout out snack is, since I've been eating it for almost over a year. 

Hot Yogurt bowl

~ a cup of frozen berries
~ 3-4 tsp of chia seeds
~ 1/2 cup of no-fat greek yogourt (plain)
~ 1/3 cup of no sugar added crunchy cereal (that I mix up myself from 2 or 3 different types of cereal - I also add sunflower seeds and chopped raw almonds for extra crunch)

I melt the berries in micro for about 3 1/2 minutes, sprinkle the chia seeds over berries, add yogourt and top with cereal.  Mix and enjoy.  It's got tons of protein, healthy fats, fiber and best of all NO SUGAR!!!  (other than what the berries add)

Part of what helps me cope with everyday chaos is that I start the day off by eating the same cereal mix and end it eating the same thing (when I workout).  If I don't workout I try to take it easy on the food. But then again it's the weekend and I also tend to splurge a bit more.  I know most people go crazy if they don't have variation but I think I love the comfort of not having to think about things.  I love routine, it makes my life so much easier.  As a side note, I'm sure many of you aren't interested, but blah to you...  My breakfast is always (unless it's Sunday morning pancakes of course), 1/2 cup of no sugar added Alpen by weetabix, 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 3 or 4 tsp of chia seeds, 1/2 cup of berries or fruit. 

I'm not really sure why I'm so focused on food today.  Probably because I've been feeling like my weight is stuck. Sure that's a great thing, maintenance, but I want to be down another 10lbs.  Which now that I've just typed it down seems kind of stupid since Mark and I are trying to get pregnant.  Maybe that's what the issue is, I'm afraid of all the weight I'm going to gain (and conversely have to lose post baby).  Ugghh body weight... such drama. I'm not sure why I can't just be happy.  What happened to me as child that makes it so that I'm never really happy with what I am.  I distinctly recall once in grade 6, I was walking up the stairs to get in the school and the few girls that were sitting down started to make the "boom boom boom" noise as I climbed the stairs and went into the school.   I can't recall what I did, because all I remember is what I felt.  And every now and then I feel that feeling again.  I feel like every step I take up, I'm losing my confidence.  I have a pain in my chest because I know I'll never measure up.  I wish I could be happy with my size (what ever it is), but especially now because I've worked so hard at it.  People do comment on how amazing I look, but for some reason I don't buy it, it doesn't actually register.  Why the hell is that?  Is this just me, or most women in general.  We should have a bloody support group.  And also if you are happy with the way you are... Please please please tell me what you say to yourself, how you keep feeling that way perhaps what I can do to start myself on that journey.  Because I guess part of being a happier person would start from being happy within.  I should be happy with myself.  I should love myself right?  But I don't.  I don't love my stretch marks (yes, they are battle scars of bearing 3 children, but still Yuk!), I don't love my arms (even though they do have some definition), I don't love my legs (even though I did squats on a stability ball) .... I'm sure it's too late for me, but how can I at least teach my kids to love themselves and be happy with their body.  I know I'm definitely not going to tell them they need to go on a diet (or that they have too much blubber - like my dad used to say to me).  I'll just cook good food, put them in sports and try to teach them to make healthy choices.  But will that be enough?  Anyone want to weight in here?  what works and doesn't?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Keeping me Honest

This is kind of funny, I just realized that today I was thinking that having this blog has forced me to "witness" my actions more.  I know that at some point in the day I will be reflecting on everything; how I handled the stressful situations, how my mood was, how my actions affected my loved ones.  But it has also forced me to slow down and be present during those awesome times when I'm having a good time with my kids or husband or even friends.  I think Jen once mentioned how sometimes she thinks "in blog".  That's an interesting idea because thinking "in blog" means you are processing the immediate information, not thinking about the past or future.  It forces you to stay present and feel the moments.  Savoring the joy and happiness is a gift.  Something that you need to really spend time unwrapping to appreciate.  Or at least for me that's how it's been. Seems like that until I was forced (by me) to look at my day to day life, I didn't realize how much happiness I was wasting to the drama in my head.  I wasn't present in many situations, I would go through the motions.  I do realize that I still "tune out" when I'm doing stuff like cleaning or folding laundry and allow myself to get lost in the drama of my head, but I've been enjoying important moments much more. 

So here's the fun part... what I was getting at.  Keeping Natalie Honest... When I came up with the name I didn't really know what it really meant.  I thought it sounded kind of cool but NOW!!! It means that the blog is keeping me honest.  I am a witness to my life.  I have an accountability that I didn't really have before.  I'm not just going to be a passenger for a ride. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beautiful Thoughts

I was right! Today was awesome.  I am such a geek.  I can really see Mark and I doing this together.  Volunteering one or two weekends a year; the church picking up the tab on babysitting and food.  How cool is that!  The couples are so sweet and the love (or infatuation) is palatable in the room.  The energy was amazing.  I was actually surprised, they had a lot of individual and group work and I was honestly surprised at how "in to it" they all were.  I'm a little unsure if they thought they could actually fail, which might prompt them to participate more. But I do wish them the best.

I don't think I've thought much about the idea of marriage and happiness.  Probably because I take it for granted.  I feel that the commitment from Mark is so totally absolute that nothing in the world could shake it.  We are totally in it for life.  He is my partner (in crime - teehee).  When I'm excited about something, who else do I share it with and that joy is magnified.  When I'm sad and depressed, who shares the pain?  I am really blessed too have someone who loves me (and likes me most of the time) for the rest of my life.  My journey towards happiness is my personal journey but it will undoubtedly have a  ripple effect on the people in my close circle.  I can't know for sure if my attitude has changed much since I've only just begun, but my goal is to eventually make conscious efforts to be happier.  Acts of kindness, sharing joy and stuff like that.  I'll get there when I get there.  At this point I'm just putting my feelers out there.  Learning what I'm like, how I get through the day.  I am reflecting a lot at this point but I'm hoping that in the next months I am able to set out attainable goals and reach them.  I do realize that I have made an effort to create goals, but they have been very broad.  I think what I will end up doing is basically how I lost over 100 lbs in the year.

1) Do my homework, reflect on my behaviours and learn the 'better ways"
2) Journal and track my progress
3) Set a small weekly goal that I know I could sustain for the rest of my life
4) Allow myself to mess up and get back on track

It actually seems to make sense to me this way.  It worked to lose weight so I'm guessing it can work to become happier.  For me at least.  I'm not sure if it would work for anyone else.

Ok on a totally random note, the kids were so happy to see us when we got back this afternoon.  Sure they had fun but it's so nice to know that they missed us and wanted us back.   I know in my heart that I am ready to have another baby.  I know I can do it.  I have so much to give them.  I am thinking back now to my evening with the kids and a smile creeps unto my face.  I connected with Luke as soon as I got home, he ran into my arms and wouldn't let me put him down.  He had tons to tell me and even said "I love you maman, you're the best maman in the whole world" (emphasis on whole) ***sigh*** and that is why I love that little boy so much I would give my life for him.  Next I got to connect with Patrick when it was time to change into pj's.  I got to make him giggle and play peek-a-boo with his favorite stuffed train toy.  He was howling so hard when I was tickling is pudgy little belly, and when I stopped he would grab my hands and put them back on his tummy!  Then I snuggled with him more just before putting him down to sleep.  Those peals of laughter from a baby make up for all the sleepless nights and worry.  Next I had my time with Annaliese at bedtime, when her and I get to snuggle up under the covers of her bed and just chat about the day.  She tells me what she wants to do "for her birthday party" which is in 4 months still.  And how the babysitters read her a french book at nap time and how she won because she took the longest nap.  Her little chatter is so cute, in her mind what she is telling me is the most important stuff in the whole world.  She can act so grown up sometimes, but when we are snuggling and she curls right up inside me and puts my arm over her... I know that she will always need me.  And yes, I do this with her every time I put her to bed. It's our little ritual together.  It's how we connect and all the drama melts away and she is still always my perfect baby girl.  I love being a mom.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've discovered the meaning of life... keep reading

Today was such an awesome day.  Even though this is almost the first time I've sat down all day.  Ok Ok, I know it's so selfish and I'm a teacher's nightmare, but just because I wanted to, I kept Annaliese with me this morning.  I know, I know!!!! She was supposed to be in school learning.  But she's been telling me for the last week that she's been too sick to go to school and I keep making her go.  So in my mind I know she's not really sick but she wants to stick around with us.  I don't want to "give in" to her when she is kind of telling a fib, or so I'm telling myself.

So today we were going to be late anyway because everyone overslept, including Patrick (my baby) who didn't get up till 9:30.    So I threw in the towel and asked Annaliese if she wanted to come with us to Ikea.  My awesome aunt Debbie sent me a message letting me know that Ikea would be having free kids meals today till Sunday.  So this was a win-win morning all around.  I slept in till 8:20, Annaliese got to hang out at home with us till 10 and then play at Ikea with her brother in the ball room.  I got to have "play time" with just Patrick (which rarely happens),  then the kids had their choice of lunch and I even let them (not Patrick though) have chocolate milk.  I sent her off to school in super good mood (for a half day),  put the boys to bed and cleaned the house.  I even got to catch up with some friends while I was tidying.

The house is clean (Yay!), I fed the kids turkey hot dogs for diner and now my little monkeys get 2 babysitters while Mark and I go to the first part of the marriage prep course.  I am such a geek, honestly I know I am.  Who else gets excited about weekend seminars and workshops!!!  me me me...  I took copious notes (as I always do), Mark listened (not a word written - as usual) and we talked!!!  I mean really talked and had a good time.  We laughed and made fun, and had a blast.  Everyone should try this as a date!!!  It's awesome.  (I can lend you my notes :) And tomorrow we get to do it all again. I think as two teachers, we could totally get into this.  And who knows next year at this time we might be teaching the marriage prep. course.  It makes me happy, because it's our time!  We don't have to worry about the kids, or finances or stress.  We really just get to focus ON US!!!... and the best part is (other than it being like a weekend getaway) is that it's free.

Now the other thing that has brought me total joy is the discovery (thanks to Maxine) of Tosca Reno!!!!   Eat clean diet.  I think it's more or less a lifestyle.  I do it anyway; but I'm in love!  The whole notion of clean food, less is best (less ingredients) totally fits into my Food Rules!  Here is a clip from YouTube!!! If you are as interested as I am, PLEASE let me know!!!!  We need to chatt about this awesomeness. 

When I'm this happy, I feel so alive, so energetic.  I have found things today that make me excited to be me!  I can't wait for tomorrow :) The funny thing is that "giving back to the community" seems more for me than anyone else.  It gives Mark and I a chance to connect.  We get to meet new people and build on our own relationship.  Relationships and connections make life worth living to it's fullest.  Everything other than relationships and connections are just noise or crap in the way of what really matters.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Try....

This is my second attempt this week to post while the boys are sleeping. And it's a good thing that I almost drank that whole pot of coffee this morning because I have this feeling that they are going to wake up any second.  I just sat down after cleaning up around here.  I know Jen is going to think that I really shouldn't drug myself so much.  But hey!!!  Coffee.... sigh it's funny because it relaxes me just to write it.  But it actually makes me hyper.  Funny how we crave opposites.  Our body is constantly striving for balance.  It craves equilibrium.  If we get dehydrated we crave salty foods so that we can store more water, when we get hot, we sweat to cool off, even down to the molecular level, when our blood gets too much sugar, the body produces insulin which acts to store the sugar into fat, then we crave more sugar (because the insulin got rid of it all).

But would you say that aiming for happiness is forcing the pendulum in one direction only?   Will I create drama to bring things back to normal?  I don't know.  I haven't had much drama today because I've been too busy.  But now that I'm sitting down, things are a bit quieter around here... I begin to think about how I want the house to be really clean for the babysitters this weekend.  Mark and I are going to be shadowing the "marriage prep course" at St.Paul's the Apostle because we signed up to eventually teach it.  I look at the floors, and cringe.  But a little voice in the back of my head says, sheesh it's going to be a grade 8 kid watching our kids, she isn't going to care.  She'll want to know how to turn on the movie, where she can find the snacks and which kids goes in which bed :)    (ps. I was right... Luke woke up)

So instead of thinking I've just looked up a happiness questionnaire.  

Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

The Questionnaire
1. I don't feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____
2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____
3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____
4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____
5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____
6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____
7. I find most things amusing. _____
8. I am always committed and involved. _____
9. Life is good. _____
10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____
11. I laugh a lot. _____
12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____
13. I don't think I look attractive. (R) _____
14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____
15. I am very happy. _____
16. I find beauty in some things. _____
17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____
18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____
19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____
20. I feel able to take anything on. _____
21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____
22. I often experience joy and elation. _____
23. I don't find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____
24. I don't have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____
25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____
26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____
27. I don't have fun with other people. (R) _____
28. I don't feel particularly healthy. (R) _____
29. I don't have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____

Calculate your score
Step 1: Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:
If you gave yourself a "1," cross it out and change it to a "6."
Change "2'' to a "5''
Change "3'' to a "4''
Change "4'' to a "3''
Change "5'' to a "2''
Change "6'' to a "1''

Step 2: Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)

Step 3: Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.
We recommend you record your score and the date. Then you'll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date. This can be especially helpful if you are trying some of the exercises, and actively working on increasing your happiness.

The lowest possible score is 1 and the highest possible score is 6. (The average is around 4.30).

Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1073-1082.

I'm surprised at my score of 3.7.  I guess I thought I was happier.  Ok so at least now I can work towards something.  My goal is to increase my score by a point this year. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is Wednesday's Post....

First off I want to say that I am, yet again posting this at my bedtime.  Yesterday when I tried to post earlier in the day, guess what happened.... I didn't even post it until this morning.  I came upstairs yesterday after diner and thinking I was just going to lie down before going to the gym, completely passed out and didn't wake up until this morning.  I must say, I'm actually not a fan of all this sleeping because as great as it is, nothing gets done around the house.

So today a NEW DAY!!!!  a wonderful day, a day that I could start having slept like a million hours.  But really who was I kidding.  I had the same fights I have every morning.  "No!!! you can't wear a dress it's way to cold out", "Luke leave your sister alone", "Yes, you have to go to school today!", "Yes, I packed a fruit bar AND raisins in your lunch... I promise!!!".  I think I should just get a recording of myself on my ipod and just play it really loud every morning.  Anyway I manage to convince my daughter that she wants to go to school because she can bring her "poupee" doll.  And by some miracle I make it to our Dr.'s appointment in time.  We get home, boys fall asleep, I fold 5 loads of laundry while they are napping, then I pack them back into the van and off we go to pick up Annaliese.  Amazing how fast my day goes by.  I make stew for diner and leave the house to go the gym....  NOW for ME TIME!!!!

I amaze myself.  Today I was awesome.  Seriously, I did a spin class then went to "man zone", by myself, to do shoulders.  I'm not sure why but I've decided that I want Jillian Micheal's shoulders.  (Ok and back, and arms, and legs and pretty much everything... but lets focus on one part at a time).  I did as many exercises as I could think of, plus a few back ones also.  Then the fun begins... I get excited just thinking about it...  I do push-ups with my hands on medicine balls.  Not just one or two, I did 3 sets of 10....  Then since I was feeling pretty good about myself I grabbed a stability ball and put one foot on... balanced... then the other.... so now I look like a frog on the stability ball... THEN I GET UP!!!  and stay up... I'm so proud of myself.  I did 3 sets of 10 squats on the ball.....  So I guess it made me pretty darn happy to be able to do that.  I'm proud of what I accomplished today.  So pride is a source of happiness!  Isn't pride a sin?  I'll have to look that one up. 


I keep saying that I need to stop posting at night. So here I am waiting for the 2 and half dozen muffins to finish cooking.  I bought a ton of ripe banana's yesterday because I've been craving some fruit muffins.  Mostly to get myself to stop eating the ice cream cake that is tempting me in the downstairs freezer.  The problem is Mark hates banana when it's cooked so I end up always making two types of muffins.  Today I have banana, blueberry, cranberry oatmeal muffins and orange chocolate chip (for Mark of course).  It's not that hard to accommodate actually because I make the same dry base.  It's the wet ingredients that need to differ a bit.  Now here's the thing, if I post the ingredients but not the actual amounts could any of you recreate these?  Because for about 2 years now I don't use recipes.  I get an idea of what I want and then I just do it.  It makes it really hard to blog about my creations.  I guess I could find a way to video myself??? 

Because the car is in the shop I've left the house at my normal time to go pick up Annaliese from school, but I've also gone to pick up Mark.  When they got in the van they each had warm muffins to snack on!  Not a bad life for them.  I'm typing this now because it's freezing rain and NOT a chance Mark is going to let me drive to the gym.  Oh ya and when we got home from the pick ups, we got a message saying that the car was ready. So load everyone back into the van (geeze is this what mommy chauffers feel like) and go pick up the car.  It's fixed and alot cheaper than we had anticipated.  We even had a brief discussion about going out for diner, we couldn't decide on a place.  So we just opted to have Mark pick up my favorite salad from Longo's and a pizza for him and the kids.  Wow, my life has changed. A year ago I would have jumped at the opportunity to eat out.  But now, I can't come up with a restaurant that suits my needs.  I don't want to eat anything unless I know how it was made, with what ingredients and where!  So my family is eating pizza and I'm eating a blue cheese and pear salad with a bowl of homemade spicy black bean soup. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nothing a Glass of Wine and Friends can't help!!!

I am so blessed to have such an amazing group of friends.  This morning I hung out with an amazing mommy friend, this evening I chatted online with a few awesome people and it couldn't have been more perfect.  I absolutely needed these people in my life today.  At one point this evening I was so down that I was about to eat a second piece of ice cream cake with my wine because of some crap but then a friend reminded me of something awesome.  Even though I was upset tonight, I still found simple pleasure in cooking diner.  I sauteed, and chopped and created a beautifully healthy meal for my family.  Curious?  Brown rice noodles with sauteed garlic and carrot slices, corn and spinach.  The broth was the leftover from my lemon chicken soup and I also made spaghetti squash to mix in.  Oh it was sooo good!  The point is that I was present in the moments of cooking, even though I had forgotten about it.  Friends and family can be such an asset in helping us cope with drama.

I couldn't actually read when I was dramatizing the stress in my head because I was driving.  I had to get from point A to point B.  I did try to think about the stress cycle and how every ounce of thought I kept putting into the drama, the bigger I was making it, but I couldn't shut it up.  So what to do then. Give up!  Throw in the towel, obviously I suck at the "no thinking".... OF COURSE NOT!!!!   I am as stubborn as they get folks.  I won't be down for long, and I'll come back up swigging.  So what if I got something in the mail that upset me! So what if I blame myself for everything that has gone wrong in the past  5 years, so what if I think I don't deserve that amazing husband and kids that I have... screw it!  I'm a fighter.  Did you know I was a wrestler in high school and never lost a bout?  Then I took up Jui-jitsu and only lost 1 fight to go on to win the regional championship in grappling.  I am a fighter!  I won't give up!  I am stubborn to the point of stupidity! (ask my husband, he'll brake my wrist before I ever say mercy!) 

Crap and drama is just that!  I chose tonight to be grateful for my strength, for my friends, for my mom (who always lets me vent), to my rock (Mark), and to the lights in my life (my kids).  I am so blessed.   I have love, laughter and life! 

Stress Doesn't Exist.

Today I told someone that stress doesn't exist unless you think about it.  Where have I heard that before??? Oh right Yoga class.  So basically you create the stress and drama in your own head by giving it thought.  Holly molly that's hard not to do, isn't it?  That's what I do best, think. Think about the drama, think about the stress and think about how to get rid of the drama and the stress.  LOL... but really all I would have to do is: stop thinking. Sure!!!  I guess I could set that as a goal for the week.  Last week I wanted to research happiness more, I'm not quiet finished looking things up. I've made an attempt.  Weak, yes I know.  This week I want practise what I preach.  I am going to stop thinking about the drama in my head.  Stress doesn't exist for me this week.  I am going to think about getting better, eating really healthy, exercising and reading!  Oh reading... I've been fantasizing about this man Jamie Fraser.  I really need to find him again.  We've been apart for way to long now!  **sigh**  Ok so I'm not sure how this is going to help me, but if I start to think about the drama in my head I'm going to pick up my novel.  Get my hit of Jamie and then hopefully have my priorities in order again.

Oh and about the poor car.  As of now I will be driving Mark to and from work until we can find a body shop that will take care of it for the least amount of money possible so that it can be safe for the road.  It doesn't even have to be pretty!  So yes, losing money sucks! Duh.  But at least everyone is ok.  Including poor Mark and his financial stress.  We will manage.  But I'm thinking we are going to have a birthday pancake breakfast here this week for Luke's birthday party.  What do you think.  Trains, games and pancakes?  (no Lil' monkey's this year for the little guy! He'll survive :)    He wants to play trains with his friends. And I can make a load of pancakes for us all!   I wonder if Wednesday is good? 

And all things considering my elevator has been really good to me today. High seventies all day! Clear beautiful skies and amazing view! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reality Check

I had such high hopes for the day. The kids let me sleep in, well in a manner of speaking. They enjoyed the cupcakes (only making a partial disaster). I was excited to take Luke out shopping for his birthday gifts. Are you wondering what went wrong yet? Well nothing YET! We had a wonderful date together at Toys R Us. He got everything he wanted going in, and more. We picked up the cake from DQ and were on our way home. I was literally telling Luke how lucky he is... Insert bumper kissing concrete guard rail HERE...

Ok so that sucked. We are both fine, the car is a mess. So the way I see it, the car is no place to be happy, stupid snow covered roads need full attention. So OF course I faked happy with Luke till we got home. Then I vomited !!!

Is the universe against me being happy? I've tried to keep faking it but I feel like an ass. I don't suppose it will be real happiness when I finally sit down with my glass of wine tonight when the kids are sleeping and Mark and I are having our evening. So I guess the test of true happiness would be NOW. When the dust of financial catastrophe finally settles. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Happy!

Four Splendid Truths

1) To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of  growth

2) On of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself

3) the days are long, but the years are short

4)You're not happy unless you think you're happy

I have to say, personal growth is exhausting.  I've been trying to kick this virus for what seems like days now.  I am in survival mode.  My house is a mess, Patrick has a temp of 102F, dishes are piling up, mountains of laundry,  I think I could actually use the snow shovel to start tiding the floors and Luke's birthday is tomorrow.  I did make chocolate cupcakes but the poor kid doesn't have any gifts until I go out and get some.  As a side note did you know you don't actually need eggs in chocolate cake (huh.)  
So if I start to reflect on my day, I smile.  Because even though everything is a disaster around here, I got to cuddle with my sick baby and make him feel better.  I say "got" because even though Annaliese is still 4 she is already turning into a teenager and when she gets sick, she just wants the ipod and a juice box.  Patrick and I  took a hot bath together (and of course Luke joined us also).  Then when everything was quiet, I sat down with a piece of warm chocolate zucchini cake and a cup of tea and watched Grey's Anatomy on PVR.  I really like the truth of happiness  #2  because it's easy to do when you are taking care of sick kids, you forget all about the baggage in your own head and focus everything on making them smile and happy.  I think I'm happy!  So I must be happy!  In these simple acts today I felt nothing but the moment.  I can remember them, because I was present.  Here's the thing, if I had been thinking about the past or future, how would I remember the funny cowlick in Patrick's hair after I dumped water on him.  How would I remember the pudgy arms with extra rolls because he still has baby fat, or the sparkle in Luke's eye's when he saw that the tub was half full !!!! (not just the regular 2 inches of water).  I was in the moment.  I can smile now because this is my happy!~

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Think Happy... Do Happy....Be Happy...

I read a few quotes today that hit home for me and what I am going through.  I imagine that everyone will have their own interpretation of each of these quotes. 

Seek peace, and pursue it.

Happy is the man who finds wisdom and understanding for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and profit better than gold.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble on its own.

Today I got to hang out with my awesome friend Jen after our parenting class.  I am super happy when our kids get along, and ever happier when Luke tells me that William is his best friend, or when Luke and Jadzia make out with their cute little hugs and kisses.  I tend to go to Jen's house as often as I can because she brings out the "zen" in me.  When I am constantly bombarded with my heads monologue of negativity it is so awesome to put my feet up, drink some coffee and have meaningful conversations.  Well as meaningful as we can have with 4 kids under 4 running around the house.  

In my quest to find more happiness this year I hope I can remember that song by Bobby McFerrin.   

If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Cold... GO AWAY!!!!

I don't have time for this right now.  The house is a mess.  I have shoulders to work on at the gym.  The kids are going to follow suit and get sick soon also.... argkkk I lead a super healthy life.  I eat extremely healthy food, I work out at the gym (cardio and resistance), I do hot yoga, I wash my hands so much I look like I have scales, I sleep about 7 hours average a night......  WHY AM I SICK????  Makes no sense.   Ok well I supposes since stress is related to most illnesses, I wonder if stressing out could have weakened my immune, in combo with perhaps a few nights less sleep.  Stress sucks!  I guess when you are sick you can't help but drop all stress, just your body's way of "tell you off:".  Mine is saying :  Ha ha, now you have to slow down because you can't move very fast anyway.  I can't be bothered to really stress because I still have to hold it together long enough to make something for diner and make sure my husband picks my daughter up from the bus stop on time.  I guess it would be fair to note that, yes my hubby is pretty awesome.  He took the day off today to help out with the kids.  And yes, Annaliese did get to school, only an hour late and with her lunch box still on the kitchen table. He had to drive all the way back to bring it.  And even better I got to take a nap.  It was awesome.  I only got up to get diner ready.  Now I'm beating myself up because I know I should go to the gym, but hey if I have a temp. then I'll stay home.  That's fair right?  I wouldn't want to give anyone my germs.

So even though I'm feeling physically crappy, I would have to say that my mind is pretty quiet.  I would have to say that I am content.  Actually pretty happy to have such a great husband who will try to be mr. mom when I'm out of commission. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicken soup and lemons

From what I briefly read today being happy means, taking care of your own needs.  It's not like I've been beaten by this virus or even hit by the bus, but it is making it's nasty presence known.  Thankfully before I started to get the sniffles yesterday I made a batch of homemade chicken, wild rice and veggie soup.  The chicken carcass was a frozen leftover from my Christmas party.  I had made a beer butt chicken on the BBQ and seasoned it massively with lemons and cracked black pepper.  So my soup had a hint of lemon to it and it occurred to me that lemon contains the highest amount of vitamin C.  So for my meals today (lunch and diner) I added fresh lemon, and to the 3 cups of herbal tea I drank I added lemon juice and lemon zest.  I ate a few oranges and shortly I'm going to the gym.  If that doesn't work tomorrow, I'm going to sit in the sauna while eating whole cloves of garlic!!!!   I need to beat this thing.  As a mom the rule is we aren't allowed to get sick! Right???.... Come on, the expectation is there and what am I; selfish for wanting to take care of myself?   Not quite fair, but kind of how things are.  Ok ok so my elevator mood is kind of dismal at this point, in case you haven't noticed.  And when I get back from the gym I plan on eating another bowl of soup with lemon and more tea with lemon juice and zest, and going to bed!!!!  I don't care if the kitchen is a mess or the laundry needs to be folded and put away.  Ha ha... to bad.  In order to be happy I need to be healthy!   

PS.  Today I signed up for this website. I'll be reading tons of stuff about the Happiness Project and resources. And I can't wait for the happiness quote to get sent to my in box every day.  I'll have to share :)

Happiness Project

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Elevator and "Man Zone"

I have no illusions that this blog to keep me accountable for my new years resolution is going to be easy.  I know doing something everyday at first isn't a habit but I'm hoping that near the end of the year I look forward to blogging.  Thing is today I had an off day.  I'm guessing that's ok.  I am not a super hero (yet anyway!)  It's not that the whole day was terrible, it wasn't because I managed to enjoy some really cute moments.  But because my mood was low, it affected how I perceived things.

I listened to this really cool audio CD a while back talking about anger and one of the metaphors that was given was imagine your mood being like an elevator in an apt. building with 100 floors.   Somewhere around the 70th and above floors your mood is up, you are "in a sense" above the clouds, the sun is shining it's warm light, the windows are clean and clear and you can see beautiful landscape for miles and miles.  Once your elevator moves down past the 50th and lower floors, the windows get progressively foggy and dirty, the view gets more devastating, you see less landscape and less light  until you reach the bottom floor and all you see is darkness.

So even though I have put this pressure on myself to keep my elevator above the 70th floor.  Today I kind felt I was someplace around the 40th.  Not the whole day mind you, twice today I got up to the 70th and even 75th (at Lil' Monkey's with my kids and at the Goodlife)  But I felt little joy in the things that I usually like.  And I fully know why I felt like this, it's a lovely combo of not enough sleep, a fight with my spouse, and the fact that me and my kids were sick this weekend and now I'm trying to fight off a stupid cold.  Interestingly when I was at both gyms (the indoor play ground gym and Goodlife) I didn't feel sick at all.  I felt full of life and very happy.  I smiled more and could enjoy the moments.  I really noticed this when I left Goodlife and sat driving my car home I started to cough and feel tightness in my chest.  Huh right???

Ok I also must tell this tidbit....  today after Attack I actually went into "MAN ZONE"!!!!!!  seriously it has only taken me what 3 years to get the balls to do it.  But I was talking to a Body Pump instructor and he brought me in... through that invisible force field, where carpet ends and strange rubber mat starts.  Even though I had an "escort" I still felt soooo weird being among the tightly clad, massively muscled titans.  I have to say that it was kind of like how you never see men in the Zumba classes!  Two different worlds exist at the gym.  Really fascinating actually.  Anyway, I don't think I'm ready to go back unless I have a buddy but at least I did something new today.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I love Sunday's

  I was up with the kids at 7, though I didn't actually roll out of bed till closer to 7:30.  We made buttermilk oatmeal pancakes (I'll post this recipe because it's my favorite) like we do every Sunday morning.  I was out of syrup so I used agave nectar AND the kids didn't even notice the difference.  I also made my own version of a compote de baies, made from frozen berries and chia seeds.  It's so easy and really healthy.  Next Sunday I'll post a picture, I couldn't find the camera this morning!  I'm not sure why I'm going on and on about this, except that I don't think I've mentioned before that I LOVE COOKING!!!  When the stars align and the kids cooperate and let me work my art in the kitchen I am so happy.  I dance to music while cooking :)  Now as a side note, any idea's what type of happiness this is???  I think the mood or intrinsic type of happiness. Anyway getting back to it.  My love of cooking is a relatively new apparition in my life because up until a year and half ago, I thought cooking was a hassle and basically I did things in the kitchen as fast as I could and I thought that was success.  But as I learned about nutrition and health I really took my diet into my own hands (and not the hands of the processed food industry, oh. You should watch FOOD INC... it's eye opening).  And low and behold 105lbs lost and maintained for 6 months now!  So I guess it was a natural transition that cooking/baking would bring me a sense of joy.  I'll have to save that rant for another blog... ohhh the anticipation.  Heehhehee  I can't wait to tell you all about how terrible processed food is, and how amazing my green Kale drinks are. I guess cooking is an intrinsic happiness because even though I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it and it is putting me in happy mood. 

Ok so just for fun to my readers.  What activities, other than the obvious bedroom one... brings a smile to your lips, lightens your heart and just brings up your mood, even though you aren't doing said activity.  ..... PS.. I was talking about sleep... what were you thinking :P 

Oatmeal Buttermilk  Pancakes

2 1/4 C               Buttermilk
1 1/2 C               Rolled Oats (not the instant kind)
1/2 C                  All purpose flour
1/2 C                  Whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp                 Brown sugar
1 tsp                    Baking powder
1 tsp                    Baking soda
2                         Eggs
3 Tbsp                Oil (preferably veg oil but I use grapeseed oil)

- Pre-heat element or cook top to medium
- Pour the buttermilk over the oats and let stand for 5 minutes
- mix the rest of the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl mix the eggs and only 2 Tbsp of oil
- Pour both wet ingredient bowls over the dry and stir gently until combined (do not overmix they will turn into Frisbees)
- use the rest of the oil for the pan
- Use 1/4 c measuring cup to pour batter onto pan

NB.   I actually set my microwave timer for 3mintues and flip them when it beeps, then set it for another 90secs.  They always come out perfect :)

Bathtime Revelations.

As I sat in my stupid hot steaming bath I realized a few things. 1) I have the ability to "tune out" my 3 kids, if I need to.  2) Happiness could be classified as a mood and feelings (so it is two separate entities) 3) My mood is pretty darn happy when I'm sitting in the tub alone! ( meaning without kids,  don't get me wrong I wouldn't be in a bad mood if my hubby joined me, of course ;)  4) I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who will put the kids to bed!

I do have to apologize to any person who has ever taken a psych course because I'm sure you would want to run me over with your car by now.  I keep thinking of new angles to this happiness business, and other than briefly reading  ( ; I haven't done much.  It would make complete and total sense to do some research on this topic. So here it is universe:  this coming week I am going to research happiness so that I'm not blindly trying to figure this out on my own.

Now getting back to my bathtub revelations.  It occurred to me that if I could, for example tune out the noise my kids make when I'm driving, why can't I tune out the noise or non stop prattle of the monologue in my head.  In a way I guess I do every time I sing to the radio.  So I need a distraction in order to ignore the noise.  I'll have to think of a few more and learn to practice them in my spare time.  (**cough - cough**)  My second revelation has kind of been in the works for a while but it's the idea that happiness is a mood and a feeling.  The mood would be the intrinsic feeling of happiness (ie.  Happy mood), the feeling would be the more recognizable extrinsic feeling of happiness, dependent on outside means.  For example, while I was sitting in the stupid hot tub, my mood was good (like a 9 out of 10).  Nothing in particular was happening to be to bring on strong feelings of happiness, but I was experiencing happiness because I was also ignoring the monologue and enjoying the sensations of the tub. 

Check out this cute little mood test I found on the 59 seconds website. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Bell Kick!!!!

First let me say that I love my kids.  More than anything else in this world, but of course I need a break from them every now and then.  So after dropping my extremely overtired cranky daughter off at school I went to my friends house to drink my coffee and chatt while we were waiting for Ikea to open.  I find myself thinking about something she said to me,  "you've made this happy thing of yours very complicated". "Ok" I said "but that's because it is complicated, it's easy to fake it, but what I want is bigger than superficial happiness." We continued chatting along these lines for a while and then she suggested that I begin to list all the things that do make me happy. 
Which when you first think about it makes complete sense, but then when I started to think about it more and more. I realized I would like to be in a situation where my perception of my world is mostly chock full of happy things.  It's not that I only want external things to make me happy, it's that ultimately I want to be happy internally and perceive my situation and things that happen as awesome. Of course identifying external things that make me happy is a start and identifying those things makes sense as a stepping stone, to get used to understanding my own happy feelings; but it's just the beginning.  I think internal happiness would mean a positive monologue in my head with far less drama and very little worries.  I should also mention that I've been pestering my friends with this quest of mine and they are being really awesome (kudo's my friends, you know who you are :) Another point that that a friend brought up is that you don't need to worry about important stuff like finances, just think about them logically and proceed to the next item on the list.

So getting back to the bell kick.  We made it to Ikea, and signed our boys up for the play room.  Now I am not a dishonest person in the least, but I wasn't about to volunteer that fact that Luke has never been in the play room because he was always too short.  And I sure as hell wasn't going to put him up against the ruler, just in case he was still to short, so I just signed him up and HE GOT IN!!!!!!  Now I'm not sure I can explain the pure joy this brought me.  And him too.  (the last time we tried to get him in, he couldn't but all his friends did, poor guy cried with such anguish I was almost in tears).... That aside, Jen and I took our babies upstairs and actually walked around the store wheeling the babes in strollers (side note they aren't really babies but they are to us).  I had to stop and grin like a kid in a candy store.  I had the whole store in front of me, no chasing kids, no dealing with temper tantrums,and looking at the stuff that I actually wanted to look at... (oohhh it sounds so selfish doesn't it)...but it was pure joy and before I knew it I was prancing happily behind the stroller and did a bell kick.  HAPPINESS is when you can dance in public my friends!!!!  

Wearing different coloured socks...

Socks...  I love how they keep my toes warm. But who notices socks anymore?  Sure I look at them sometimes when I'm at the indoor playground because no one is wearing shoes.  And heaven forbid we wear socks and sandels.  (ok I do everyday, but in my home) So why the stigma attached to mismatched socks.  Do we feel that society is judging us...:wow lady what's wrong with you, why don't you have socks that match, you must be disorganized, don't you do laundry, you must be missing some of your faculties right???

They are just socks people.  Not the gateway into my soul!  Did you even know they sell mismatched socks at Chapters?  For kids mind you.  So why is it ok for the kids to do it but not us respectable mom's?  and I realize that is a rhetorical question.  But the point is WHO CARES!!!  one pair of mismatched socks at a time I am slowly going to stop caring what the "society standards" tell me to conform to.  So here is a picture of my socks!

And yes, I wore them out... in public.  And do you know what happened???  of course you do. Nada.  We live a world of people that wouldn't say anything to anyone even if it was something actually wrong.  Have you  ever seen that tv show (What Would You Do?) with actors pretending to do nasty things in public to an unsuspecting audience.  How long or ridiculous does the event have to be before a few timid people speak up.  Now that is the issue I have.  We do things because...what... we are afraid of what people will say, we can't actually hear their thoughts - so who cares about that-, I suppose we could get upset about the looks we might get and the drama we create in our head about that look.  So here we are again, back to the drama, most of it make believe, created by us for us!  Or in this case, this was the drama that was ever present in the monologue of my head.  I really need to find a way to shut it up.  I've managed to quiet it down but I'll talk about that later.   Thanks to an awesome friend (you rock Jen) I was able to start wearing mismatched socks about 6 months ago.  But the whole point of this is that, drama that I create in my head is obviously taking away from my happiness.  So if anyone has any other suggestions of things I can "LET GO OF" please post. 

PS. I was able to quiet the voice down in hot yoga because I was specifically told to and for some reason when I have sweat poring down and I'm in muscle ripping pain I tend to listened to the person in charge of the situation. Do I have to go to such extremes to get some peace and quiet from my brain?  Basically it's because my body is yelling louder than my head.  I'm leaning towards a solution that isn't so intense to get some quiet. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Scattered thoughts about step1.

Ok so the things that occupy my mind's monologue (because I obviously am not challenged enough for other stuff to occupy my mind) are worry, drama and ??current moments?? (could be happy thoughts, or just thoughts like wow that's allot of yogourt on the couch, I wonder if I should put a pinch of chilli powder in this... that kind of stuff). 

You know that relaxation part of the yoga practise at the end, just lie still and don't think about anything.  It's IMPOSSIBLE!!!!   basically if I'm not thinking I've fallen asleep.  Speaking of yoga, from what I understand: the amount of pain you feel in your hips during hip openers equals the amount of drama in your life.  So let me paint this out for you, I've been in labour with less pain that this.  And hip openers are my own choice, so I am choosing to walk in the door and push myself to a limit that is totally stupid.  While in this pose I think, "must go farther, don't think about the pain, tell it to shut up, breath one breath at a time ... The torture will eventually let up... right!"  and then we do the other leg... no end to the torture.  But yet I keep going back???  What the heck is that, am I a subconscious masochist.  I keep thinking I guess that eventually I'll win the battle and I'll be able to do swan without juicy feelings. (aka. pain )  Ha oh and I forgot to mention that I did this yoga class after a 1 hour spin class.  I'm not looking for pity here, just painting the picture accurately. 

So all that to get to the point that, I also have drama to deal with.  Not worries, but different in a way and similar in others.  For example some drama can be exciting or daring and there is no worry about it; but if left unchecked could eventually lead to a worry.   So how does feelings of happiness play into this?  Honestly I'm not sure yet.  Should I care more or less about drama than worries.  Is drama just another crap that I don't need.  But what if I seek out fun drama to mask or avoid dealing with really stressful and very negative worry. Therefore this fun drama is a source of happiness. Good grief this is getting to complicated.  Anyone know of a good self help book for me.  Great first step, I'm stuck already. 

Ok the point of step one was to live in the moment.  I'm assuming creating fun drama is not actually in the moment and so then... I should just chuck out all drama????  really???  humm ok and so being happy is a tough process.  Anyone have any other suggestions for steps to help me on this journey?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Step 1: Being present every moment means not worrying about crap!

Ok so here's the thing I was thinking about this step today and I realized that you can't actually stop worrying completely because then pretty much nothing would ever get done.  So you need to identify the crap that you don't need to worry about.    So yes, of course finances are going to be a stressor leading to worry but the problem is you do have to pay some mind to it or you could end up in a big red hole of doom.  So worry about the stuff you have control over, not that crap you can't control.

So I can't worry about something or an even that has happened in the past because... it's over. Can't change it.  The "why did I do that?, "I know that is going to hurt because I've done it before","that jerk...he/she did this me, how dare they", that monologue of drama is part of the villain's super powers. It's just that a monologue!  tell it to shut up.  Just like when in attack class, instructor says "If your body yells at you, you tell it to shut up!" You learn this very pretty fast in hot yoga when the teacher is telling you not to listened to your mind telling you "you don't like this, it sucks, get out of it"  like frog or crow pose right or a very low warrior position.  It's a new way of thinking, of being in the moment and present.  Sam says "you can accomplish anything for the length of a breath, just think about breathing, nothing else!"  Forget what you know!  Just BE!  (Ok she also like to refer to the feeling of pain as JUICY!!!)   I guess it has to do with how we perceive stuff.

Even though you still need to worry about some stuff in your life, the point is don't worry about the crap.  Because even though I feel a whole lot of juicy feelings when I workout, if I worried about that I would never go back.  But the end result is why I keep going back to the gyms.  I focused on each individual moment, in some cases, each bloody excruciating juicy breath I took.  How many of you think about crap when you are working out?  Well granted it's easy not to think when deafening music is blaring at you and an instructor is yelling at you to push hard, go lower or do more!   I guess I need to figure out how to transfer that practise of Being present every moment.  I wonder if I can find an ap for my Ipod with Sam's voice telling me" to breath like it was your first breath, imagine you are an avatar trying on your body for the first time, you have no past, everything from this moment on is now."  NO CRAP to be had.
 The warrior in me will defeat the worrier villain.  One breath at a time I will be present!  (or as much as I can!)  This is a work in progress, I am giving myself a year to get happier :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

I am no longer a blog virgin.

Hello all I'm Natalie.  Mother of 3 children all under 5 and yup we are planning on another one.  I'm a stay at home mom but have a teaching career on hold (for the time being).  I am blogging as part of my new years resolution to be happier.  But I think I might also like to use this space to keep my recipes and blab about my kidlets and what ever else I feel like. 

So getting back to the HAPPY thing.  I've started a series of steps (that I've made up) - although I should probably just get a book from the library, it's not like I'm the first person to think of this.  I'm making these up as I go. It might be like cheating because I'm most likely only going to post the things I think I can do.  So at some point I might need to enlist some help to keep the momentum going.  Before I begin I think I should probably spend some time explaining why I've decided to be more HAPPY.  It's not that I'm unhappy, to the contrary, I love my life (ok sure we all have our bad days), but from what I understand life is better when you are happier.  Simple concept!

But then I started to inventory....  Like many others, I have a husband and children! My husband comes with a family, and this family has basically abandoned him to the wolves (so to speak) and he is now, as I type this, dealing with legal issues. Next, I have a huge problem with my self image and self loathing (not a happy thing), did I mention the kid thing???  Along with the hugs and kisses and cute memories come the heart wrenching  guilt (the "did I do the wrong thing? will they turn out ok? how could I say that?..." you get the idea). 

I think worry is the super vilian to happy the hero!  I worry about money, about what people think about and say to me, I worry about endless things.  The super villian is mostly a non stop recording in my head that is stuck on repeat.  (have I lost you?)  Ok so it might go like this: ("aahhk why did I drink so much booze over the holiday's, I said I would still fit in my jeans but they don't fit, I'm fat again, I just can't seem to be able to control what I eat and drink, what is wrong with me, if I can't control what I eat and drink how will I be able to control my kids, what if they end up like me, that would be terrible, I also can't seem to control the laundry in this house or the floors for that matter, I can't believe my husband puts up with me when he was raised in an immaculate house with clothes always put away and lunches made.... Oh crap I forgot to get Annaliese's special peanut butter(sunflower seed butter) from the health food store, great now what am I going to do, ..." you get the picture right. The noise in my head is always so negative.  I wish I could shut it up!

  Da da da daaaa.... insert HAPPY now!   When I've felt happy is when the voice in my head is quiet and I can enjoy the moment.  Hello super hero!  Feel free to kick worry's ass!  So ya even though I know I am totally blessed, and I do try to count my blessings often, it's not easy.  It is easy, however, to fool people into thinking that you are happy, you can go through the motions of happyness- smile, enjoy time with friends, but the real test of your happiness (or mine I should say), is when nothing spectacular is going on. A few minutes of quiet in the car, or house.  So it begins....

Step 1 of being more happy: Being present every moment means not worrying about crap! (worrying gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere... humm like a rocking chair... why bother with the energy exertion)

Step 2: Do something meaningful that will keep you accountable to your goal. (I got Jen to show me how to start this blog)

 Step 3: Find a way to measure my success with my goal, which means I need to assess my happiness level?  (or reflect on my general mood)