October 31, 2011

Happy Halloweenie Recipe: Brownie Cupcake Bites

I always get inspired to bake on just about any holiday. For Halloween, I decided to bake this WeightWatchers recipe (just 2 points each!) to celebrate the fun day!

 

Brownie Cupcake Bites
21oz regular brownie mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 1/4 cups lite whipped topping
2 oz candy corn, about 36 pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Line 36 mini muffin tin holes with mini cupcake wrappers.

In a large mixing bowl, combine brownie mix, water, applesauce and egg whites. Mix 50 times with a wooden spoon (use 50 strokes); do not under mix. Pour brownie mixture into prepared muffin tins, about 1 tablespoon per hole.

Bake cupcakes until a tester inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely, remove cupcakes from pan. Before serving, decorate each cooled cupcake with a tablespoon dollop of whipped topping and 1 piece of candy corn. Yields 1 cupcake per serving.

Sadly, my store was completely out of candy corn. So I used some sprinkles that I had in the house instead.

Recipe is from www.weightwatchers.com.

Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2011

"Fall"ing Off The Wagon

What is it about the Fall season that makes me want to throw in the towel on my healthiness journey?

Blah Blah Blah surgery. Blah Blah Blah cold & illness. Blah Blah Blah medication. I have a ridiculous amount of excuses.

Yup. I started the fall season on bad note. It seems to happen to me every year around September/October. I stop caring. I throw in the towel. Fall off the wagon.

Is it because it is cold out and I need sustenance? Is Halloween candy really that awesome? Is it because I know I'm going to throw myself over the edge over the holidays so why bother? Is it because it gets dark so dang early?

I have no idea what causes my autumnal lack of motivation, but I want terribly this year to fight through it. I've been in a weight loss rut and haven't seen a loss in a couple of months (basically just bouncing back and forth between the same 3 pounds). I'm not gaining, but I'm not getting any closer to my goals by allowing myself to be complacent or allowing excuses.

I have been very conscious of my choices for the past couple weeks and it has made a difference. I lost a whopping 2.8 lbs this week and I'm desperate to keep this trend going. There are a few key things I have taken note on:
  • I have to track my food. When I don't track, I cheat (or believe somehow that I've stayed within my points range).
  • I have to workout.
  • Running works.
My success so far (18 lbs lost since January) has only happened because of doing both tracking and working out. In order for me to lose weight, I have to do both. I hate that I am not that person who can walk into WeightWatchers and drop 20 lbs in 10 weeks. I hate that I have only lost 18 lbs. I hate that it is so hard for me to lose weight. I still believe that WeightWatchers is the right program for me in terms of long-term sustainable weight loss. As desperate as I am to make goal, and I still have 40 lbs to go, I need to be able to fit healthy living into my lifestyle. Forever. In a way that I can live with. In a way that I won't feel deprived. In a way that I don't have to say no. So I know my limits. I am thrilled that I can still log a loss this week after a Saturday of indulgence. I drank. I ate. I TRACKED. It worked.

I have started running again. It worked for me earlier this year. It will work for me again. I hate that I have to run on a treadmill (I'm too chicken to run in the dark), but it is better than doing nothing at all. As much as I complain and have to DRAG myself off the couch to run, when I am done I love it. I love the adrenaline rush. The feeling of accomplishment. And I ask myself, why did I ever stop?

October 18, 2011

Yes, I Can Handle It

Sunday night as my husband was packing up for a trip to Los Angeles to start work on his Dad's next book, he was answering my questions in a way that suggested I was going to whither up and fall apart without him here for a few days.

Not entirely the case (no matter how much he wants to believe that is the truth).

I was asking him questions so that for the next 3 days I had an understanding of his morning and daily drop off routine as I know it can often be challenging and I am rarely around for it as I am off to work before either of them are up. That's all. I'm pretty lucky because despite the discord having a child has brought to our marriage, we are a solid parenting team. We are split down the middle 50/50 when it comes to parenting duties so when it comes time for one of us to go out of town, there are certainly some moments of panic not to mention having to readjust the work schedule. Worst of all when it comes to one of us traveling is shaking up our preschoolers regimented routine. He is used to daddy in the morning. NOT mommy. I had to answer a barrage of questions ranging from "Why isn't daddy home?" to why Daddy's car is in the garage but he's not actually home? Seriously. Try and explain that to a 3 year old. I dare you. Thankfully, because of his regular morning routine with daddy, it was seamless. I set the "alarm" to about 5 minutes before we had to leave so he knew when the alarm on the stove went off that it was time to go to school. Regardless, I will still have that anxiety about something going awry as my schedule is insanely tight when I have to entirely take over the parenting duties.

The rest is pretty typical in the evening. Dinner, games, Facetime w/ daddy (god I love technology) and maybe a movie if we miraculously have enough time... Before we know it, two hours has flown by and it is time to get into jammies and start the bedtime routine. Having only a couple hours in the evening is insanely unfair and the thing I hate most about being a working mom. It never seems like enough time.

After the boy is finally sleeping, there is work. The dishes will need to be washed, the counters and table wiped down, a workout if I can bring myself to it and some attention for the poor neglected dog. The rest of the night becomes a worry fest. What if something happens to the house? To the dog? What if I don't wake up and Jack needs me? No matter how hard I try to relax and remind myself that things are still normal despite being down one parent, I still can't sleep. So for the two nights this week that my husband is gone, I will be a walking zombie. Coffee will become my best friend. I dream of Wednesday night when my husband will return home and I can finally let go of my worries and will likely sleep like the dead.

It's not that I can't handle it. I can handle it just fine. But handling it doesn't make it any less exhausting. Handling it doesn't make the worries disappear. Handling it doesn't mean I will sleep well.

I am not writing this to make my husband feel guilty for going away. We are both deserving of our time away and I would never take that time away from him, especially from a project he is so passionate about. It is good to be able to step away from the day to day challenges that parenting gives. Good to step away from your spouse and give yourselves the chance to miss each other and remind you not to take each other for granted.

We are lucky that we are such a good team but when the team is down one of those vital players, the going isn't easy. And, now that a couple days have gone by? I actually kind of miss the guy.

October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Mommy/Son Day

I work for a financial institution and we get strange holidays off such as Columbus Day. Last year, Jackson's daycare decided that is the perfect day to schedule professional development day for their staff and close it down as well. So much for a random day off to myself. So last year, we implemented Mommy/Son day at the Zoo. Typically a mix of other government working parents whose employers follow the federal holiday listing and the usual mix of SAHM's, it is the perfect day to go as the crowds are light. It was a GREAT day.

So awesome that the tigers were roaming around.
My feet won't reach Mom!
Hi, Mr. Sheep (his exact words)
Another big tractor to drive.
Hi, Mr. Bunny
Hmmmm... Do I like the green ones?
The big copper turtle. He didn't need my help this year climbing on.
The perfect day together.


October 11, 2011

Crying It Out: A Response

I love when mom bloggers out there say, "I'm not trying to be judgmental." Yet, their entire post is an entire blabbering of finger-pointing, guilt-ridden, "I'm better than you at parenting" bunch of garbage.

This is my response to THIS blog post on crying it out. No apologies for my excessive use of the F-word.

I usually LOVE this blog for its often brutal yet hilarious points of view when it comes to being a part of the mommyhood. This type of self-righteous, finger-pointing post seems out of the norm for this blog and despite the blogger's insistence about not being judgmental, the entire thing had me gaping open-mouthed wanting to throw things and scream obscenities through my monitor. 

It was actually a great post about how her family makes it work without doing crying it out. I always find it interesting to hear how other parents are able (or not able) to get their kids to sleep (especially those that have more than one kid). It was a great post until THIS comment:
People wonder and have asked, why don’t I do Cry it Out? Plain and simple, I believe it is not healthy for the child. Children learn trust in the first 2 years of life. If we stick them in a room, turn off the lights and leave them to “self soothe” what are we teaching them? What would we do if someone did that to us? What if someone put you in a room and despite how upset you got, they just left you there for 12 hours?

My response: That's your answer when someone asks you why you make certain parenting decisions? How about telling them, "Mind your own fucking business." Before we tried crying it out, I was convinced if we didn't intervene that he would cry for hours on end and nobody would sleep regardless. Imagine my surprise when we tried crying it out and Jackson NEVER cried for 12 hours straight. After going down to sleep at 7:30pm, he would usually wake around 10:30ish (and still does this to this day). The longest he ever cried in one stretch was 15 minutes. That's it. Most of the time it was a rolling around, 3 minute whine-fest that he was barely conscious for and he would go right to sleep. Should I have gone in and picked him up, interrupting his sleep and started from square one or let him work it out and go back to sleep in a matter of minutes? At that moment was he truly in need? Plus, I got to know his cries well:
  • There is the "I'm bored and want attention" cry (where he would cry, stop and check the door to see if we were coming in and prior to cry it out, when we came in, he would dive back into bed and pretend to be sleeping. That can also be the "I'm just fucking with mommy and daddy to see how far I can push them" cry).
  • The "I have a huge crap in my diaper" cry (which we always responded to and became rare unless he had a stomach bug and then... yeah... we were there cleaning up the mess)
  • The "I woke up sick with a raging fever" cry (always responded to immediately followed by endless hours in the ER only to find out it was just another damn ear infection) 
  • And of course the "I lost my fucking nuk" cry (we could see him rubbing the sheets around him looking for it) and we always snuck in the room to get it from the just out of reach spot into his hand where he promptly stuffed it in his mouth and went back to sleep. 
With a video monitor we could always tell what was going on. As a matter of fact, I refused to allow crying it out until we got one. We could see whether or not he was just trying to manipulate us or whether he was indeed crying for need. Hey, Kim! Are you a pediatric mental health expert? Who are you to say it isn't healthy? Because one of ten million magazines you read while pregnant told you so? Did you ever consider to read about the other side of the argument? What do you say to all those who "swore by it" and their kids have no ongoing "mental" issues? Or are all of their kids totally fucked up now and you can attribute it back to crying it out when they were babies? I can't imagine any parent who does cry it out who doesn't have some level of responsiveness. Fuck, we aren't made of stone! WE KNOW OUR KIDS!!! Why? BECAUSE WE ARE GOOD PARENTS. Screw you for suggesting otherwise.
This also pissed me off:
Finally, the reason why I don’t let my babies just cry it out, is because I don’t believe parenting stops when I go to bed. I am a parent 24/7 and with that, comes nighttime parenting.

Fuck you for even suggesting that cry it out parents are not 24/7 parents. What an awful, stupid comment to make.

And to top it all off, this:
Sometimes I get just SO tired that I would give anything for one of those mythical babies that sleep all night long at 6 months old. But, I know that it comes at a price, and it is a price I am not willing to pay.

Weird... I had one of those mythical babies that slept through the night around 4 months old (we didn't start crying it out until 6 months) we just learned and got to know what his needs were and responded accordingly. Exactly what price is it that I'm paying? 

Kim, let me tell you this: at 3 years old, Jack is a well-adjusted preschooler who LOVES his mommy and daddy even though we often let him cry at night. He trusts us, still needs us and guess what- he sleeps like a freaking champ. He LOVES his sleep. We are now heading into the overnight potty training era (which very well could last for fucking years) and yes, we are getting up with him at 3am to bring him to the toilet to take a leak. He then goes back to sleep (in his own bed... which sounds like another topic deserving of its own blog post) without another peep until morning. Teaching him how to fall asleep on his own without our coddling him was the best thing we could have done for him. We are teaching him how to function in an independent manner. What price did we pay for that again? My kid is great. I might be a hair biased, but for real, he's a happy and wonderful kid and I certainly do not think we mentally screwed him up for letting him cry a few times.

I'm not judging anyone. I promise. Every parent has to do what works best for them. If getting up every hour all night long makes you feel better about what you are doing as a parent, then do it. If co-sleeping works for you. Do it. Hell, Jackson had a paci at night until he was almost 3. Who am I to judge? He was in his crib until 2 1/2 and could've gone even longer. Who am I to judge?

Crying it out is just another one of those hot-topic controversies that moms are never going to agree on, nestled right next to co-sleeping and breastfeeding (and the list goes on). There is no one universal truth or answer. At the end of the day, parents are going to make the decision that is right for them. The one that fits their family best.

Yeah, my post is a total knee-jerk reaction. It is my justification for making the decision I did in letting Jack cry it out. I'm sure Kim wrote her post for the same reasons. She got tired of explaining to people WHY she made the decision she did. Too bad she alienated and put down a shit-load of parents in the process.

October 05, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Last Days of Warmth

Only a 3 year old can enjoy the unexpected warm autumn to the fullest (even on a sick day!)



October 04, 2011

Recipe: Southern-Style Oven Fried Chicken

Both my husband and I are on a weight loss journey and while mine is a bit more stringent (and public), we are still on it together. One of the things that is great about doing this together is trying out new recipes. We have been pretty good about trying at least one new recipe every week. Some of them are disasters, but most of the time they are decent.

I would like to start sharing some of my new recipes every week in hopes of inspiring you into healthy (and delicious) meals! Plus, it will serve as a great database for me to remember which ones were our favorites.

This recipe comes from the WeightWatchers website- I actually used the WW Kitchen Companion App on the iPad. LOVE my iPad to find new recipes! Sorry I don't have any nutritional information other than how many WW Points it is (I live and die by PointsPlus!). Instead of the lovely side of tomatoes as seen in the photo below, we had green beans as a side. We thought this was a pretty tasty chicken recipe. Enjoy!

Southern-Style Oven Fried Chicken











Ingredients:
3 Sprays Cooking Spray
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
1/2 tsp table salt, divided, or to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, divided, or to taste (we chose "to taste" and added a lot)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, divided, or to taste
3 oz buttermilk
1/2 cup(s) cornflake crumbs

Instructions: 
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly coat an 13- X 8- X 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Season chicken with salt and cayenne pepper to taste; set aside.

Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper together in a medium-size bowl. Place buttermilk and cornflakes crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls.

Dredge chicken in flour mixture and evenly coat both sides. Next, dip chicken into buttermilk and turn to coat both sides. Last, dredge chicken in cornflake crumbs and turn to coat both sides.

Place coated chicken breasts in prepared baking dish. Bake until chicken is tender and no longer pink in center, about 25 to 30 minutes (there is no need to flip the chicken during baking). Yields 1 chicken breast per serving.

Course: main meals
PointsPlus® Value:    5
Servings:  4
Preparation Time:  15 min
Cooking Time:  30 min
Level of Difficulty:  Moderate

What's cookin' in your kitchen?  

October 03, 2011

My Cerra™ Me Time Experience

As a member SheSpeaks, I am often invited to participate in some fun and unique opportunities. The Cerra Be Aware, Act, Reflect™ program was one I didn't want to miss out on because it is all about taking moments just for you. Yes, there are Cerra™ products to enhance the experience; however, at the heart of it is all about Be Aware ~ Act ~ Reflect™.

The Cerra™ experience is based on the Seven Intentions (Grounded, Creative Energy, Gratitude, Loving Kindness, Courage, Wisdom, Inspiration), universal human virtues that help you to be mindful of how you're feeling and to act with purpose.

When I was accepted into the Cerra Be Aware, Act, Reflect™ program, I was excited about it as I was hoping to find inspiration to bring balance into my life. Want to know the hilarious part?

I DIDN'T HAVE TIME.

While I did try out all of the products I received in my kit including the Creative Energy Sensory Oil, Dissolving Notes & Pen, and the Tea Bags in Grounded, Creative Energy and Gratitude varieties none of them struck a chord with me in terms of making these meditation products a part of my daily existence. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with meditation or these products and I might even be a little jealous of people who are able to make it a part of their daily "musts", but it is just not for me.

I found that trying to incorporate Cerra™ into my daily life was almost another thing to add to the "to do" list which is way too ridiculously long in the first place. Would I recommend it? Sure! I loved the Tea Bags and thought the flavor was amazing and the scent helped me relax. I appreciate the concept of the Dissolving Notes & Pen and used it to rid myself of the negative feelings towards my permanent infertility. I brought the Sample Size Lotion to work with me and love the scent and creative energy I get from it (not to mention it makes my hands silky smooth). The only product I wasn't entirely a fan of was the Sensory Oil. I'm not a huge fan of oils in the first place and it took me a ton of scrubbing to fully get rid of the overpowering scent.

What I did learn through this program is the importance of finding time for myself. Doing things that I enjoy that are just for me. I have strangely started looking forward to my evening jogs. I have had to succumb to the treadmill for the winter and I desperately miss the beauty of running in my neighborhood; however, this time is JUST for me. 30 minutes (sometimes more, sometimes less) to work out my aggression, push my endurance levels, build my motivation and listen to some thumpin' good tunes. When I am done working out I watch some mindless DVR, catch up on Facebook and Pinterest and maybe even play some Angry Birds. My 'me time' may look strange, but that is why it is mine. Everyone will have their own interpretation of how to relax, de-stress and unwind for the day.

Overall, I enjoyed my Cerra™ experience. I would encourage you to check out Cerra™ and learn more about the importance of having 'me time' in your life. Simply click the badge below to get started as well as take advantage of a 10% discount in the Cerra™ boutique.

SheSpeaksbutton

How do you spend your 'me time'?

Motivation Monday: The Gym Daycare

Not sure where this cute kid's center is but it is not at my club! 
For 3 years I have avoided the child center at the gym. Many of my mom friends both on and offline have mentioned their kiddos becoming sick after spending time in the gym's child center and it always freaked me out. I mean, he gets enough germs going to his regular daycare and now I want to shove him into more? I don't think so. Not to mention, the poor kid is in daycare 9 hours a a day Monday through Friday. The guilt of putting him into yet another one was too much to bear.


Until a week ago.

One of the other daycare moms sent me a note on Facebook asking if I would be interested in bringing Jackson to the child care at the gym to play with his best bud. They were recently split up into different rooms at daycare and I know they miss playing with each other terribly, so how could I say no? I figured after 3 years, what could happen!

I'll tell you what happened. Strep happened.

Of course I cannot 100% confirm that he picked it up from the child care center at the gym, but there have been no reports of strep at his regular daycare- they ALWAYS post these illness outbreak announcements on the door as if a warning to say, "Guess what? You'll have to stay home with your sick kid soon!" He hasn't been anywhere or around anyone else who has been exposed so I could only make the assumption that he got it from the gym.

Being our first time with him having strep, I can definitely say I am not a fan. Poor kiddo had a fever of 102-103, couldn't (and didn't want to) eat anything and he wanted to snuggle. All day. Okay, okay... I'll confess, the snuggling part was wonderful. It is the part that all moms love. Even though he was insanely miserable, he was snuggled up on my lap in the recliner, his little arms around my neck. I felt needed. With a preschooler, I feel like I spend more time disciplining and teaching and get very little time for snuggling. I soaked up every second of it because I'm sure tonight, he will tell me he wants to sit by himself in HIS chair.

He is feeling better but he is still home today with his daddy having what is I'm sure a grand time. When I called to check in, daddy was teaching the kid how to play the Wii. Yikes. What was I thinking leaving them home together?? I'm kidding of course. My husband is wonderful with him. Frankly, as I sit here working my ass off all day, I find myself being insanely jealous of their skip day.

With that said, will I bring him back to the gym? Maybe to go swimming or when he's old enough to play on the computers, play outside on the giant playground or use the climbing wall I'll consider it. Or, until he's old enough to not care or notice whether or not we spend time together. For now, it is more important for me to spend my time WITH him considering we only get a couple of hours together a night. Yes, that means I will have challenges finding the time for a workout, but that is my issue. Not my kid's.

My goal this week is to find the time to get my workouts in despite the whole lack of hours in the day thing. What is your goal this week?

 
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