Summer of Yes!

Summers are when I get to flex my mom muscles.

10 months of the year, my boys (12 and 8) are in school most days but mid-June to the beginning of September, the majority of our days are spent together. Last summer we created a family bucket list.  This summer, my goal is to say YES as much as possible to their requests.

Contrary to Phineas and Ferb’s count of summer vacation, we have a total of 83 days (104 days of summer vacation – debunked! Trust me, we counted). We are about 50 days in and while not every day is a grand adventure, we are keeping busy, while attempting to keep activities budget friendly.

Aquarium and zoo visits are always favorites! We had free passes we won for the Adventure Aquarium and we have a membership to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Visiting parks and picnicking has become a favorite summer activity.

There are things that they’ve asked to do throughout the year that we just haven’t gotten the chance to do for numerous reasons but my goal this summer is to get to those things that we’ve been putting to the wayside. Rather than saying SOME DAY, I’m embracing the word YES.

This kiddo has been asking to visit the art gallery at our local university (Rowan U.) since the spring. He was so happy that we were finally able to visit. And I was so happy to get out of the house after dealing with bronchitis!

My older son has been asking to take the GoPro into the pool since last summer. Oops? I finally unearthed it, charged it and made it happen. They were thrilled! I have more minutes than I can count of looking at the bottom of our pool or the sky but I’ll just repeat it again: they were thrilled!

While this was not free/cheap it was so much fun for my immediate family to take the grandparents to the recently opened escape room!

I personally don’t really understand the appeal of mini golf but my kids really enjoy scoring a hole in twenty. *shrug*

What can I say, my boys have lots of fun ideas! And if I can make them happen, I want to do it for them. After all, isn’t that what summer is all about?

I can take a nap in September, when they head back to school!

We still have quite the list of things that they’d like to do (Six Flags Great Adventure, fishing, going back to the zoo, going to the local Led Zeppelin laser light show, hitting up the drive-in movie… to name a few)! What have you been up to this summer?

Mixing It Up

Ahhh… Summer. It’s been a bit of an exciting one so far. As Meridith mentioned last week, I got engaged a couple of weeks ago and have been kind of basking in that glow for a bit. Being the planner that I am, I have to fight my urge to jump in and start planning all the things right away, and remember to just enjoy being engaged. Which I’m not so good at, because I love list making and researching and all of that nonsense. Clay has had to reign me in a couple of times. Oops.

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Love this boy – so excited for what we have coming up!

But, there are definitely other things I need to focus on in the mean time, like making sure my bod is hotttt for my wedding day – it’s never too early to start that work. To do that, I’ve been trying to ramp it up and keep things fun and spicy in the gym.

I’ve been working on programming a healthy mix of HIIT, strength, and cardio into my training. This keeps me engaged and allows me to work on certain skills and endurance at the same time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get bored when my workouts are the same every other day. I need variety. And so, this is what happens:

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That middle workout? Smoked me the first time I did it. Heavy sled pushes into burpee box jumps are no joke. Leg days have left me jello-legged and sore. My favorite kind.

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Cardio has been alternating between spin, running, and Kazaxe. I used to spin all the time, but back in December I changed gyms, which meant leaving my favorite spin instructors. Womp womp. It’s been hard to get back at it and find new classes that I like as much. But, I’m giving the new place the benefit of the doubt and trying out a few instructors – hopefully I’ll find some that I like!

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Don’t want to wear your fancy jewelry at the gym? Get a Qalo ring!

I’ve been trying to find the motivation to run outside, but the forecast for this week has the highs in the 90s and humidity at swamp-like levels… running mostly sounds terrible. I’m not training for a race right now, so convincing myself to get out there is tough. But, I am in the gym every day, and I don’t feel bad about that.

Cheers to summer and sunshine and sweaty workouts and exciting life events. I’ve got a lot of reasons to smile!

Spring Means Summer and Summer Means Frozen Treats!

According to science and planets and stuff, Spring is here. Allegedly. As I’m writing this (Thursday night), I’m looking at a snowflake in my forecast for tomorrow, so really, I’ll believe that Spring is here when I see it.
But, being that Spring is technically here, I think it’s fair to say that Summer is right around the corner. That makes me really excited. Because Summer means sunshine and warmth (and humidity… but I’m not really excited about that part). Summer means running outside and sunburns (I’m Irish and German. We don’t do tans). Summer means movies in the park and laying by the pool. And Summer means frozen treats to beat the heat!
Last week… I cheated and got a head start on Summer because I’m impatient and I just couldn’t wait. Here I was, meandering through Whole Foods, and while I was in the frozen foods aisle, I was struck with a craving for my favorite smoothie meal.
Acai Bowls.

Acai amazingness

These things tho.
I think I’ve had one of these a day for the last week. I’m not exaggerating. I might need to get some variety in my diet. Right now though, I really just want another one of these beauties.
“Caveman” Bowl
Half of a frozen banana or a handful of frozen blueberries
Tablespoon of Peanut Butter (or 2 TB of PB2)
1 cup of almond milk or coconut water (or whatever liquid you want. I don’t usually measure it, I just throw it in the blender and add more if I need it.)
Dates
Unsweetened Coconut flakes
Granola (Gluten-free if you can find it. Trader Joe’s has a couple of delightful varieties.)
Chia Seeds
Throw the frozen fruit, acai, PB, and liquid of choice into the blender. Make it creamy dreamy. Pour into a bowl. Top with sliced dates, coconut, Granola, chia… the options are endless. Mostly, just fill it up with delicious stuff. Then nom. Hard.
Those acai bowls fill me up and keep me full for hourrrrrrssssss. Not joking. I’ve made one for breakfast the last couple of days and I haven’t even felt a little bit hungry until lunch… six hours later. Brilliant. Sometimes I like to experiment with the plethora of possibilities for these delicious treats. I think the next one will be green – I have some spinach that I need to use up – and I have some frozen mango and strawberries that might be tasty together. We’ll see. We’ll see.
Mayhaps these delicious frozen treats will help propel me through marathon training (because if you haven’t heard, I’m toying with a few options for 26.2 this summer. San Fran? It could happen. Or Baltimore? To be determined.) Or maybe they’ll just make me feel better after a long day at the office and in the gym. I’ll eat them either way.
What are your favorite summertime treats? Do you have any tried-and-true, go-to meals to fuel your training? 

 

Oh, Summer. I Miss You Already.

Summer lovin’, had me a blast…
Summer lovin’, happened so fast…

I introduced my daughters to Grease this summer, and this song has been on repeat the last few weeks. That line is appropriate for how I’m feeling now, because we’re in our last week of summer vacation. SAD FACE. Last Friday, I took my kids shopping for school supplies (which is one of my favorite activities. Paper, pencils, markers- oh my!). Today begins a flurry of back-to-school prep, including a PTA meeting and kindergarten orientation.

I’m excited to get back to our routine- which will mean regular gym time for me and consistent naps for the baby- but I’m sad to lose all this fun time with my kids. We’ve been swimming, visited museums, had movie nights every week, read lots of books, eaten all the cupcakes, baked pies and just enjoyed hanging out with each other. (Oh, and I reached our summer goals- Teaching my oldest to tie her shoes- check. Getting my middle one to start reading- check. Full night of sleep for the dude- CHECK AND HALLELUJAH. For me, learn to play chess- check, and the new goal is to kick J’s butt in a game. Or all the games. Checkmate, baby!) I had date nights, girls nights, moms nights, and while I rarely slept in, I basked in the contentment that comes with balancing adult time and kid time.

Here are some favorites from my summer vacation:

These were almost too cute to eat! The kids and I loved the tour at Chocolate Kingdom.

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One of our field trips was to The Container Store, because I was desperate for something to organize all of my makeup. I’m happy to report that two months later, things still look this neat.

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This book! I’m still thinking about it. I read a lot this summer, but this, Last Letter to my Lover by Jojo Moyes, and Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead were my faves.

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One of my only naps with this guy (He is obsessed with those cute Honest brand diapers- he calls this one is “zoom zoom,” and the skull and crossbones pattern is “yo ho”). Now he naps in his crib! Glad I got a picture of this. Sniff.

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Ice Cream smoke! If you’re a run Disney person, and you bring your kids with you, try to check out Abracadabra Ice Cream. You choose your mix-ins and they use liquid nitrogen for a little ice cream magic. My kids loved it.

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My best friend is a teacher, and her daughter is six months older than my son. We saw them at least twice a week, usually more, for the first half of summer (before they traveled north to visit family. LEFT US, I MEAN.). She and little dude love each other the most, and I get bff time. How cool is that? Here’s our little crew at Chipotle.

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We spent so much time at the pool. We also spent a week at the beach with my wonderful inlaws. Flying kites, night swimming, boogie boarding in the ocean, collecting shells…that’s the life, man.

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The girls love baking with me. I let them bake m&m blondies for July 4th, and my oldest also helped make the crust for my berry galettes. At the beach, she helped with a strawberry-rhubarb pie (store bought crust here) and I taught her how to make a fluted crust. She’s my picky eater though, so she still won’t try most of what she makes. Silly girl!

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We also celebrated my middle one’s 5th birthday. We had a big party with friends back in May, and a small celebration with family while at the beach. She chose a menu of crescent roll hot dogs and s’mores. I made my husband’s s’more with a Reese’s Cup instead of Hershey’s and I don’t think he’ll ever have a plain one again. (Speaking of, have you tried the peanut butter cup Oreos? OMG.)

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer as much as I’ve loved mine! Tell me what you’ve been up to. Any book recs? What would you mix in your ice cream? The kids mixed cotton candy, white chocolate and marshmallow. I think they get their sweet tooth from me.

Recipe Box: Watermelon sangria

Earlier this month my mama-in-law introduced me to a light, tasty adult summer drink – watermelon sangria!

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We made this adult beverage at a family party and it was quite the hit. We’re a family of foodies, so know high standards were met, folks!

So since it’s my sister’s birthday today – and she loves all sorts of sangria – I thought I’d share this gift with everyone! And Happy Birthday Sissy!

Without further adieu, here’s what you’ll need to create my new favorite drink of champions:

– 12-14 cups of cubed watermelon, divided

–  1 (750ML) bottle of dry white wine

– 1 cup vodka

– 1/2 cup triple sec

– 1/2 cup simple syrup (sugar and water mixture)

– 1 medium lime, chopped and quartered

– 2 oranges, cut into thin sliced

– 1 cup (or so) of fresh blueberries

Got everything together? Great. Now start with the watermelon. I’d seriously chopped up 3 within the 24 hour span before making this so I was verging on expert, I like to think.

1. Place 9 cups of watermelon cubes in a blender; blend on high until very smooth. It’s incredibly wise not to do it all at once, but in parts, say 3 cups at a time. Otherwise your blender might get overwhelmed and quit.

2. Strain juice through a mesh strainer into a large pitcher. We used a huge thermos instead of a pitcher. We also used a spoon to help push the blended watermelon through the strainer.

3. Pour the wine, vodka, triple sec and simple syrup into the pitcher. Stir to combine. We used generous amounts of the alcohol.

4. Mix the remaining 3 cups of watermelon cubes (I made them really small), the lime and orange sections and blueberries into the sangria. Stir.

5. Chill for 4 hours before serving. I skipped this last step and just added ice. You could go crazy and do both.

Drink and enjoy! You will soon become the hit of the party.

What’s your go-to summer drink? Do you ever add fruit to your adult beverage?

Tales Of The Boot: Making Plans to Exercise (Get Me Out Of This Thing!)

There are five days of school left. FIVE. In five days, I will have a first grader. In seven days, I will have a kindergartner (Her preschool ends two days later). In seven days, I will have three kids at home for the entire summer. Whoa.

It was both easier and more difficult last summer, because little dude was a baby. He wasn’t walking, so he was easier to cart around, but he also slept more, needed more breaks for changing, nursing, food, etc. This summer, he can walk, eat big kid snacks and he enjoys things- but man, he is into EVERYTHING.

Right now, our days are fun and a little exhausting, so I know that with my girls home, our summer will be more of both. Like Meri, I’m a planner, and I’m using these last several days to work on my calendar. We’ve got camps scheduled (Frozen musical theater camp, holla!), playdates in the works, our summer learning checklist (Big girl- tie her shoes and ride her bike. Middle girl- read. Little dude- sleep through the night. Haha. For real. Me- chess.), and a family vacation. It’s got me wondering though, where will exercise fit in?

When I trained for my first half-marathon, I did most of my runs at night. We had a treadmill in our bedroom and with a busy husband and a full daytime schedule, it was easier to wait until 8pm to get moving.

After my little guy was born, I became an early morning runner. He was (and is) a terrible sleeper, and if I was already getting up at 5:30, why not just get up at 5 and go for a run? I was lucky to have a friend in my neighborhood who was willing to join me.

This spring, I joined a gym. My best running friend had moved, and I really wanted to spend some time on the treadmill to work on my speed. (My home treadmill died two years ago and we haven’t replaced it.) My running time began after school drop off and I was again fortunate to find some pals to exercise with me.

Now I’m injured. I don’t know what my doctor will say on Tuesday about resuming activity, but I hope to be in the gym again next week. At least on an elliptical or bike. Timing-wise, I’m not sure what will work best. Early morning, mid-afternoon…I have no idea how crowded the childcare is and I don’t know- I hate to think of my kids spending their summer at the gym, even if it is only for an hour, a few days a week. Then again, we have a lot planned and that ME time will probably be necessary. Mommy guilt is a powerful thing, so we’ll see, I guess.

I do know that I’m going to ease back into things, even if the doctor clears me to run right away. I want to try the spin classes at my gym (Never done it! Any tips?). I’m both impressed and inspired by our friend, Megan’s, daily yoga pics on instagram, so I definitely hope to do more yoga and do it regularly. I still want to run, but I want to be cautious. I don’t want to be back in the boot anytime soon. Or ever again, really. I have a half marathon on my calendar in December, and I’m waiting to hear from the doctor before I add one in October. I’ve got time to figure it all out and get back on schedule. My exercise time will just have to go with the flow of summer. (Yeah, right. I will totally have a plan in place as soon as Dr. Fink gives me the go ahead. Ha.)

Morning, Mid-day or Evening runner? Do you find you’re more productive one way or another? I love early morning because then it’s done. But sleep! If you’ve been injured, how did you get back into your routine? How long did it take? Parents- How did you teach your kids to tie their shoes? I don’t even tie mine the right way! (I make two bunny ears and tie them together. It’s just what I’ve always done.)

Time to Break Away From This Day to Day

People, I’m going insane over here. We just wrapped up an entire week of Little being sick.

Pooks was sick with the same thing at the beginning of the month but at age nine, he’s a much easier sick.When Pooks is sick, he stays in his room, relaxes, plays on his 3DS, and watches Netflix (you know, in between the vomiting and whatnot).

When five year old Little is sick, he’s on the couch with me. He wants to watch the same show twenty times in a row. He wants a drink. But not medicine. Never medicine. He wants to cuddle. He’s hot. He’s cold and wants a blanket. Gemma is allowed to lie with him, but only on his feet.

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With all this time around the house, I’ve been getting a lot done… so there’s a positive, I suppose. I’m at the point where ALL the laundry is clean. That will last two seconds but I’m going to enjoy this moment. All the dishes are also clean and in their spots. Straightening and chucking things that have been sitting around for far too long has also occurred.

What’s not getting done? Food shopping. Meal planning. Running. Playing. Breathing fresh air.

Although, being at home with kiddo hasn’t been all bad. I’m reading my third book of the week. I finally wrote an overdue letter to Victoria. And I’m planning trips for the summer! Getting in the summer mindset isn’t really too difficult because Little is constantly asking, “Is it summer yet? NOW is it summer?” Kids are always ready for the next big thing before this one is even over.

As of two weeks ago, my only solid plans were heading to California at the end of August to visit bestie Kelly -and her adorable family- and then meet up with my Chicks, Jess and Cam, for the Disneyland half weekend and shenanigans.

Now, more solid plans have fallen into place.

  1. We’ve joined a local swim club.
  2. Little is signed up for five weeks of camp for the mornings.
  3. Pooks is heading to Florida with Grandpa on the auto train. (shhhh, it’s a surprise!)
  4. We’re going to Florida too! We’ll be meeting them down there for a week of Beach, Pool, Ice Cream. I think that’s basically my version of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry for those who have never seen Jersey Shore). Oh, and FAMILY. We’ve got a slew of family down in Florida and I want to see them all.
  5. California!

Throw in a couple of races, the ever-constant training – running and weights, our Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a Sweet 16, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and a wedding and we’ve got quite a full schedule!

With all the plans, there are still a couple of things that I’d like to focus on.

1.  Focus on swimming. Since we’ve joined the swim club, I would like my five year old to learn how to swim. Additionally, I’d like to get back into the pool and add that into my workout routine. I was on the swim team for years as a child but haven’t used it as exercise since my young teen years.

2.  Cook dinners, order out less, and focus on healthier food decisions. Why is this so challenging? Seriously. I feel like it shouldn’t be and yet, the planning of meals is something that has never come easy for me. Sometimes I’m REALLY on with things. And then there are times like this week/month/few months. Maybe I’ll see if What’s For Dinner? errrr, I mean BEC can come up with a meal plan for us.

3.  Be present in the moment. So much of my time seems to be spread out between things I want to do and things I feel obligated to do. However, with all of the moments, I would like to try to be more present. It might mean leaving my phone at home more but do I really need to be in constant contact with everyone all the time? No. I do not.

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Although look at the gorgeous pic I took just a few blocks down from my house while taking the pooch for a walk!

What do you have planned for the summer months? Do you leave your cell phone at home to disconnect for awhile? Any recipes or meal plans you can recommend?