how i eat

I went through the drive through this morning and got a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for my “second breakfast” (my first breakfast was about 5:30 am and I was hungry). This was due to lack of planning on my part, which is always when I seem to have issues eating well. While I was munching on my biscuit, I thought I might like to share how (or maybe “what”) I eat.

Honestly, I feel like I eat well 80% of the time. I try to eat fresh veggies and other healthful foods most of the time, but there are occasions when I fail to plan and I end up eating something I’m not too happy about. I have found that if I keep healthy snacks on hand (fruit, nuts, yogurt, etc.) then I don’t eat much vending machine stuff or fast food. Also, I have to plan the day before what I’m going to eat for lunch (when I’m working) or I can get myself into trouble.

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it’s important for me to maintain my weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just like it and I feel better when I do. I’m also trying to set a good example for my son (and future child).

Here’s a sample of what my meals may consist of when I’m behaving myself…

Breakfasts:

  • Burrito – scrambled eggs, salsa, dollop sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado
  • English muffin with egg & cheese
  • Yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, and granola
  • Scrambled or fried (olive oil) eggs with toast

Lunch:

  • Supper leftovers (most common)
  • Salad (I normally grab a bag of the Very Veggie or Romaine mix then dress it up with whatever I have – sometimes just olives, cheese, and oil & vinegar)
  • Homemade sandwich from this local Amish bread store (using their wheat bread – yum!)
  • Can of Progresso soup (one of the vegetable kinds like Minestrone)

Supper

  • Last night it was yellow eyed beans (cooked in the crock pot with olive oil), corn on the cob, watermelon, and macaroni & cheese
  • Simple spaghetti (wheat pasta & a jar of Bertoli or Classico sauce) with a veggie or salad
  • One of the other recipes I’ve posted about in the past

Snacks

  • Apple (my favorites are Pink Lady and Honeycrisp) and yogurt
  • Yogurt, fruit, and granola
  • Almonds

Like I said, I feel like I do well 80% of the time. Here’s what the other 20% may consist of…

Breakfast

  • Cinnamon rolls (from a can) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Pancakes (I try to make mine from scratch now so they’re not full of preservatives) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Breakfast pizza
  • French toast with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage

Lunch

  • Pizza (I absolutely LOVE plain old cheese pizza!)
  • BBQ sandwich and fries from the drive through
  • Hot ham and cheese from Hardee’s

Supper

  • Tombstone cheese pizza & fries
  • Stuffed manicotti (I may actually make this tonight…)
  • Take out pizza
  • Sloppy Joe and fries

Snacks

  • “Nabs” (crackers) from the vending machine
  • Snickers or Milky Way
  • Ice cream (this has been my weakness during this pregnancy)

I really try to limit the junk, but I’m human!

From my experience, these are the things that help me eat my best:

  • Take some time before you head to the grocery store and pick a few healthy recipes for the week. They don’t have to be new, but allrecipes.com is a great source!
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Also, try to avoid the middle isles of the grocery store where most of the packaged/processed products are.
  • Start in the produce section and try to fill your cart at least 1/4 to 1/2 full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry…ever! Always eat a snack before you enter the store.
  • Buy organic or local when you can…it can be expensive, but it can be more economical than you would expect.
  • PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try to think a day ahead of what you’re going to eat the next day. Or at least a meal ahead so you can prepare.
  • If you work, pack your food the day before or take a week’s worth of snacks to work with you if you have a fridge. Then, you won’t be tempted by things you’re not supposed to have!
  • Watch the weight scales or your clothes for signs that you’re veering off track.
  • Keep a food journal and write down what you honestly consume in a day. There are lots of great apps for smart phones that make this easier.
  • Grow a garden and/or visit the local farmer’s market.

Some final closing thoughts today that were forwarded to me via email just this morning…

  • Researchers estimate that every day 16,000 to 24,000 children die from hunger related causes. In 2004 almost one billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day. These impoverished people struggle daily with malnourishment and hunger, and the majority live in what has been called the “developing” world. This developing world has six times the population as the 57 or so countries that comprise the “developed” world.(1)
  • In the United States, by contrast, over two-thirds of the population are overweight and almost one-third is considered obese according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2001-2004.(2)  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control shows a steady increase in the number of obese persons in the United States in their data compiled from 1985-2006.(3) Living with an over-abundance, we are barraged by diet fads and quick-fix strategies to shed extra pounds. Despite all the effort to promote healthy eating and lifestyles, the fact remains that in 22 different states 25 to 30 percent of the populations are considered obese.(4)

(1) Statistics from Bread for the World, http://www.bread.org and the World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org.
(2) Statistics from the Weight Control Information Network http://www.niddk.nih.gov.
(3) Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov.
(4) Ibid.

After I read the email, it really made me think (again) how blessed I am. I thank God before each meal for the food He has provided. That’s another healthy habit – being grateful for your food!

our golden corral experience

I’m sitting on my couch at 1:30 am blogging while the darn cat that woke me up an hour ago is snoozing beside me. Since I can’t sleep, I thought I’d blog about our Golden Corral dining experience this evening. I can hear my cousin Jennifer laughing as she reads this – she has two kids and has surely gone through something like this in her past. This one’s for you, Jen!

Golden-Corral

Earlier this week, my wonderful husband (Happy Father’s Day!) saw a commercial about endless ribs at Golden Corral on television. Ever since, he’s been harassing me about going to eat there. It finally happened yesterday evening. It had been a busy day and I told him we could do whatever he wanted for dinner. Right before we left, he tried to change plans and stick around the house to go fishing or just play outside, but I insisted that we go ahead and go since he’s been thinking about it all week.

The parking lot was full when we pulled in and there was a cloud of smoke around the front entrance from all the nicotine dependent diners who aren’t allowed to smoke inside (thank goodness). After making our way through the smoke, we stepped inside and I knew right then that this is not where we should be. Our son decided he wanted to stop and play with the little retractable strap that blocks off the maze leading up to the register. My husband’s comment: “You have to pay before you eat?” It’s been a long time since we’ve been to a place that doesn’t come to your table to take your order. Either way, we should have turned around and left when the total for two adult buffets (kids under 3 eat FREE!) was $30. I could see the look on my sidekick’s face…we were both thinking “We could have had Ruby Tuesday for $40!” But, we didn’t leave – we just took our tray and shuffled to a table, wiggling our way through the swarm of hungry folks.

I went to the buffet first, fixing our son a plate of strawberries, carrots, pizza, and macaroni & cheese. The sheer amount of people waiting to fix their plates was incredible. When I got back to the table, I told my husband to go on and get his food. I explained how there were two stations where you could pick up plates, etc. My son actually started eating his strawberries after he successfully pulled all the green tops off of them. I thought, “This might not turn out so bad after all.” Heh.

Husband comes back with a plateful of buffet food and I head to get my own. By the time I get back, our son is in a different chair and my husband is trying to get him to eat. Dining out with a two-year-old is a job (can I get an amen?). I sit down and attempt to eat my food (black eyed peas, pinto beans, mac and cheese, carrots, meatloaf, green beans, Mexican corn bread…yum) when our son decides he wants to go back and forth under the table. The objects on the table are amazing to him – the salt shaker, hot sauce, steak sauce, milk cup, etc. I’m eating with my left hand and telling him “You need to sit still and eat. Eat your strawberries. Eat a bite of pizza.” Of course, I had to throw in “If you sit still and eat your food, you can have an ice cream cone.” That worked for about 30 seconds.

My dear partner goes back for a bit more food and I know we’re in trouble when I see him stop at the dessert bar. I meant to tell him not to bring anything sweet to the table until after our son finished his food. I knew what it would be. The dessert? A pretty piece of chocolate cake.

After about two minutes at the table, our son finally sees the cake.

“I want cake,” he says.

“You can’t have cake until after you eat your strawberries and pizza,” I quickly reply.

Then, it’s the classic game of keep away. He crawls under the table to his dad’s side, and I put the cake on my side. Then, he crawls to my side and I put the cake on dad’s side of the table. After about 5 rounds of this, Husband says, “Can we just go?” I’ve been ready since we got there.

Son is not happy that we’re leaving without the cake and of course, I try to reason with a two year old why you can’t have cake until after you eat your “real food”. For the first several minutes in the car (Husband decides we need to immediately come home and I don’t argue), it’s an awful silence. Then, son starts saying, “Where dat cake?” repeatedly. Finally, we can’t do anything but laugh about it. If you don’t laugh, sometimes you think you might go berzerk. Husband remarks how the experience was something like the Griswalds and Duck Dynasty.

After we went to bed, my husband and I laughed and talked about being parents. We questioned if we’re doing something wrong by expecting our son to understand he has to eat his dinner before he gets dessert. We laughed about how redneck Golden Corral is and how we’ll never step foot in one again. We talked about how freaking expensive it was to eat there and how we could have gone to tons of other places with better food and atmosphere. I remarked about how quickly these toddler years will be over and how we’re going to miss these crazy things.

With all this being said, I must end on a positive note, because this blog is “Because Nice Matters”, of course. I thought about the “bright side” of the situation and here’s what I came up with:

  • We made it to and from the restaurant safe and sound.
  • I’m thankful we actually make enough money to go out to eat on a fairly regular basis (once a week or so).
  • None of us have experienced food poisoning from the buffet (yet).
  • Looking back, we can laugh about it.

It’s nearly 2 am and we’re having the in laws up for Father’s Day breakfast. I need to get my booty in the bed so I can be a good hostess and make it through the day. First, I must have a snack, though. My $15 buffet meal has worn off…

toddler training research

We have a one of the best two-year-old boys any parents could ask for. About 90% of the time, he obeys and follows the rules. Up until the past few months, he had been good as gold and hardly ever got into trouble. Now, we’re a few months into the twos and I’m starting to see obedience issues. I’ve decided to take action!

Last Friday night, I lost my temper when my husband, son and I went out to eat. I guess my pregnancy hormones are in full swing now, too (28 weeks along). We’d had a good day together and decided to spend the evening out and about. My son has started this thing we’re as soon as we leave the house it’s, “Home. Go back home.” We spend a lot of our time at home, so I don’t feel guilty for taking occasional family outings. Anyway, we assured him we’d be back home in a bit, but there were some things we wanted to do.

Our first stop was a rug store since we’re looking to fill in some decorating gaps in our new home. Of course, a toddler could care less about the rugs, he just wants to hide in the rugs and run from mom and dad (“Chase” as he calls it). We were only in the store about 15 minutes when my husband decided to follow him outside; that’s when my son fell down and ended up in tears. We got him all buckled in the car and almost left the one rug we did buy in all the chaos.

Second stop was the Goodwill store, where our son did pretty well. He likes riding in the “buggy” as we call it and he was pretty content for most of the time. When we went to leave, he wanted the car keys, so I gave him all but the one we needed to drive the car. He threw a terrible fit over that one key and cried like a maniac, even though I explained we couldn’t drive the car without it.

At that point, I told my husband that we didn’t need to go to the restaurant at which we’d originally planned to eat. This place was a little more expensive and more suited for adults on date night…not a toddler who wasn’t going to behave. We decided to go to something quicker, less expensive, and more kid friendly.

We ended up at our favorite Mexican restaurant where the son made a meal out of chips and cheese dip. I was happy because he was sitting still and eating. Then, he was full and we hadn’t even gotten our food yet. Of course, he didn’t think he needed to sit still since he was done with his food. So, the game began of going from one side of the table to the other. I finally told him he needed to sit still or he was going to sit in the high chair with the lap belt on. Did that deter him? No. We got the high chair and attempted to put him into it and he stiffened up straight as a board. At that point, I smashed my toe under the high chair (I was wearing flip flops) and that sent me over the edge.

I knew our son needed a diaper, so I grabbed one up and grabbed him, throwing my purse on the table and exclaiming a word I will not repeat and was so disappointed in myself for saying. On the way to the bathroom, my son saw suckers at the checkout counter and asked for one. I told him when we got into the bathroom that he needed to “behave” and he would get a sucker when we left. Then, it dawned on me…did he know what “behave” meant? I asked him and he told me “no”.  I had to explain that it meant to “obey” mom and dad and listen to what they say.

We got back to the table and our food arrived shortly thereafter. I was so ashamed of the way I acted. Thankfully, I think my husband was the only one who witnessed it – him and God. I handed our son over to my husband who had ordered french fries (one of my kiddo’s favorites) and they began eating. All I could do was sit there and hold back tears over my plate of food. I finally pulled it together and started eating, then I apologized to my husband.

In the end, it all worked out and we laughed about it going down the road. Thankfully, my husband was understanding and forgiving. I prayed hard about what I’d done and said and asked my son for forgiveness. It was so cute because he said “no” when I asked him if he forgave me. I think to a toddler, everything is “no” unless it’s “Do you want candy/Popsicles/to go outside…”

I had the privilege of teaching Sunday school this week since the regular teacher was out of town. I found myself expressing my frustration with my parenting skills and the preacher’s wife suggested I read the book “Dare to Discipline” by Dr. James Dobson. She raised 3 kids that turned out really well, now who are all in their 20’s. I remembered hearing Dr. Dobson on the radio years ago and I always respected what he had to say. Also, he’s a Christian and uses Biblical principles, not just his own opinions and ideas.

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So, today I went to the library, checked out that book and three others that I found right around it. I’m ready to read and study! I’ve read a little already and have laughed out loud a few times. Here are some of the points that have stuck out to me thus far:

  • “Developing respect for parents is the critical factor in child management.” Dr. Dobson points out that this has to start at a very young age…in infancy, pretty much.
  • There’s a story he tells to help very young children understand the importance of listening to mom and dad. It’s about a mommy bird who tells her baby to stay in the nest while she’s out to get food. The baby doesn’t listen, jumps out of the nest and is gobbled up by a cat. He goes onto to point out that you need to tell your kids that you tell them to do/no do things because you love them and know what’s best for them. And, if they don’t obey, they’ll have consequences (that was one of my mom’s favorite words when we were growing up).
  • Raising your kids in a loving environment goes a long way.

There’s the funniest description of how bad toddlers can be, but our son isn’t nearly what is described in the book. Thankfully, he doesn’t refuse to take naps or go to bed at night. I really learned a lot about getting him in a routine from the book “Becoming Babywise” before he was born. I love that book and have already started referencing it again for baby #2 who is on the way.

I’m going to take notes from my reads and blog about them in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, I’m open to questions/suggestions you have about parenting toddlers!

spring in charlotte, nc

My husband and I spent the weekend in Charlotte, NC for a charity flag football tournament he plays in every year (for several years). It was a beautiful, hot weekend – a nice little getaway.

We traveled with my husband’s friend and his girlfriend. While the boys played golf, we girls shopped a bit. I got a clock for our new house (finally) and plan to hang it today. That night, I got to sneak away and watch “The Grand Budapest Hotel” at this small theater all by myself. I love going to the movies and used to do it a lot before our son came along. The movie was good – I won’t say great, but I’m glad I saw it. Adrian Brodey’s performance surprised me – he was the villain and I’m not used to that.

Saturday, all 4 of us got pedicures, even the boys! I honestly about got sick when the pedicurists had to break out the cheese grater things for the boys’ heels…it was disgusting. But, it felt great and my toes are a pretty teal color now. We had sushi Uptown and then headed over to watch the games. Our guys played their first of three games in Panther stadium, then the last two games were on the practice fields. It was sunny and hot, so I bummed some shade off the medic tent. I don’t mind the heat, but being 6 months preggo in the blazing sun was a little risky. They ended up winning 1 of 3, which was good but not good enough to let them move onto the finals on Sunday.

My husband's flag football team - The Highlanders

My husband’s flag football team – The Highlanders

That night, we had dinner at McCormick and Schmicks Uptown and it was very good. They were having this cool road bike race which was right up my alley…made me miss being on my bike, but hopefully I’ll get to ride this fall after baby #2 arrives and I’m recuperated.

After a short trip to Trader Joe’s yesterday morning, we headed back home and were so glad to see our son whom we’d left with the grandparents for the weekend. It’s crazy how much you miss your kids when you’re away from them. I mean, I had the one with me (and he/she’s really moving so I was reminded that I was never alone), but I missed our 2 year old. It’s nice to have a little break from chasing a toddler non-stop, but it was really nice to see his little blond head and have him chattering all afternoon. We just love him so much.

I was tickled to see the Bradford pear trees have really blossomed and the grass is starting to grow in our dirt yard. AND, my tomato seeds have all popped up now, too! I’m waiting on the eggplant seeds to sprout and I’ve asked my husband to till our garden space beside the house sometime soon. I plan to plan around May 10 after the annual cold snap.

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If you’ve never visited Charlotte, NC I do recommend it. I love the Uptown part which is what I’m most familiar with. We normally stay at the Double Tree on West Trade Street and it’s my favorite hotel there. We stayed at the Omni last year and it was just too loud. The Double Tree is a little removed and they give you cookies…yummy cookies!

Well, let’s get ready for a busy, full week at work…and cooler temps this week. Spring is here, thankfully, but this weekend was spoilingly beautiful!

exploring abingdon, va

Back in November, I read the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. I was very inspired and found that her husband was an advocate of a restaurant within driving distance of my home. So, I made my plans for my mom and I to take a trip this month since both of our birthdays are in March. We ended up waiting until the very last weekend of the month since life has been so busy, but it was a good day trip. It was nice to spend quality time with my mom – it seems like we haven’t gone anywhere alone together in ages!

We ate lunch at the Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, which was splendid. Mom and I each had a cup of spinach & sweet potato soup, then we split the veggie pizza. After that, we spent a bit of time in the General Store where I finally bought some heirloom vegetable seeds! I want to have a small salad patch this summer, so I got squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and lettuce. Plus, a pack of sunflower seeds just for show. Now, I have to get some of those seeds planted so I can get them in the ground once the last frost has passed. This will be my first attempt at growing a garden (while being in my third trimester of pregnancy, too) so I’m keeping it manageable.

After that, we went on to the Heartwood in Abingdon. While the arts and crafts were admirable and beautiful, there just didn’t seem to be as much as I was expecting. I just thought it would be larger. It’s a good place to stop if you are passing through.

On the way home, we stopped at the Burkes Outlet and I got a few neat decorative items for the new house. Then, Japanese sushi for an early dinner, followed by a Starbucks after dinner coffee. I picked up the groceries I needed for my upcoming recipes this week. Here’s what’s on my agenda: Roasted Veggie PastaBlack Bean Burritos, and Back Burner Ratatouille.  I ended up buying lots of veggies, which made me feel good! This week, I ended up making a few new things which included: Shrimp Scampi Bake and Easy Tuna Casserole.  The shrimp dish was really good, but the tuna one not anything to write home to mom about. I also repeated making Chicken Casserole that I made back in February and my husband raved about it. This time, I used cream of mushroom soup and canned chicken, plus a little more sour cream and it was yummy. As you can see, I don’t cook with much meat most of the time. Looks like this week is going to be mostly vegetarian, which is fine by me!

My son was sick with a stomach bug on Wednesday and I thought we were in the clear…then my husband started getting sick about 9 pm tonight. That’s why I’m blogging at almost midnight. Needless to say, I’m going to try to get some rest and pray that this stomach bug doesn’t get me. I’m not trying to be greedy, but no one wants to be sick, especially when they are 24 weeks pregnant! I was looking forward to church tomorrow, but I think it’s going to be a day at home so we don’t contaminate folks in our congregation. Yuck!

My son in his new favorite toy - our new ottoman. He was watching "A River Runs Through It" and was intrigued.

My son in his new favorite toy – our new ottoman. He was watching “A River Runs Through It” and was intrigued.

budgeting and generous giving

I told my husband the other day that I want to create a real budget since we now have a house payment (something we’ve not had in our 11 years of marriage). Sure, we’ve had other payments, but none as big as this mortgage and none that will last for such a long period of time. The past several Sunday School lessons at our church have been about work and money management, so this comes at the perfect time.

After teaching my spin class yesterday, I got into a conversation about budgeting with one of my students, who has been on a budget for quite sometime. She follows the Dave Ramsey principles which I’m somewhat familiar with (thanks to my cousin who gave me that book many years ago!). I need to pull that book back out because I only made it to the second or third step in the plan. Either way, this gal was so helpful and emailed me the neatest spreadsheet on budgeting that she uses. I plan to get into the meat of it this weekend and figure out our budget for next month and see how it goes. I don’t think our house payment will start until May which is nice so we’ll have a month to practice.

This week’s Sunday School lesson is about “Our generous giving should glorify God and reflect Christ’s giving.” My mom raised me to understand the importance of tithing (giving the first 10% back to God) and over the past several years, I’ve really practiced this. I’m a good tither, but I’m not good at “offerings”, so I plan to work that into the budget. I was proud to hear my sister say she gave a good chunk of her earnings to the church last year. I guess mom’s words DID sink in after all!

Some points from the Sunday School lesson this week (2 Corinthians 9:10-13):

  • The Lord is the One who provides our necessities of life and more
  • The reason for multiplying our material resources is to increase the harvest of our righteousness
  • God prospers us not so we can move on up and enjoy a bigger piece of the pie but to enable us to do more to bless others
  • Our generosity will result in people offering thanksgiving to God, thus bringing glory to Him
  • Generosity supplies the needs of the saints
  • Generosity expresses thanks to God
  • Generosity confesses the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone

So, I’m praying over our new budget and asking God to guide me in creating it and following it. I know it won’t be easy to change some of our habits (like eating out WAY too much), but I know we can do it. One reason we got a house is to stay here and enjoy it, so I plan to work on meal planning on the weekends and this gal is going to be grilling out a LOT more this spring and summer!

On another note, I got me some Starbucks Veranda Blend Blonde Roast at the grocery store the other day and it sure is tasty. I had been drinking my favorite Jamaican Me Crazy blend, but I was almost out and was ready to try something new. Plus this was half the price. Yes, I’m pregnant, but I don’t worry about one cuppa joe a day.

Have a blessed day!

A pretty sunset one evening this week

A pretty sunset one evening this week

a glimpse

My dad and my son playing at dinner tonight

My dad and my son playing at dinner tonight

I caught a glimpse tonight of what my life would be like if my parents were still married. They divorced when I was about 18 (so about 14 years ago, I guess). At the time, I was bummed, but it didn’t really bother me like it does now. When I had my son, I realized how nice it would be if my parents were still together. Not only would it make the holidays easier, but it would just be nice to have two sets of grandparents…not three or four. I don’t have hard feelings toward either of my parents for the decision they made to separate, but I guess I just feel sorry for myself wishing circumstances were different. I should just be happy they are alive and well and actually get along.

Either way, my son and I took my dad out to dinner tonight for his birthday. After dinner, my mom came to pick my son up so he could spend the night with her. She came into the restaurant to get him and on the way out the door, my dad was in front of me carrying my son and my mom was behind me. At that moment I thought, “So, this is what it would be like if they were still together.” It broke my heart to be honest with you. After we parted ways, it was all I could do not to cry while driving home. Dad was still with me and I didn’t want to have to explain my tears.

I don’t write about this to get sympathy or make my parents feel bad. I believe that I’ve learned a valuable lesson from my parents about what it takes to make a marriage successful and how important it is to work at a marriage so you can be a family when your kids are grown…and when your grand kids come along. I love my parents dearly and appreciate all they do and have done for me. I feel very blessed. I just pray that my husband and I have a long, happy life together and get to see our grandchildren one day.