A Family Health Challenge Recap

For 8 weeks, Brett and I participated in a health challenge with several family members. I really liked the challenge we did, because it really focused on making healthy habits and healthy lifestyle changes.  I'm not a real advocate of cutting out entire food groups and I also liked that this health challenge was able to be customized for each individual and what works best for them.  We did the 8 Week Health Challenge from Six Sister's Stuff.  I seriously think it is a great one for people to try out!  Like I said, it can be customized to encourage weight loss, or just to create good habits.

After the Family Fun Run

For instance, any exercise would qualify, so that was up to me!  I have really liked blogilates.  She has awesome work outs, and an excellent beginner's workout calendar.  She also releases a new (free!) workout calendar every month.  Honestly, I have seen some incredible results for the limited amount of time I dedicated to doing her workouts.  I have improved the strength in my core, legs, arms, and feel so much more toned.  I also am improving my flexibility, which is great and makes me feel better.  The first time I did some workouts, it was embarrassing how quickly I tired, and how poor my form was.  But I love going back and doing the same workouts and realizing how far I have come.  I also liked having the option of doing this at home during nap time or later in the evening, especially if I couldn't make it out to run during daylight.  There is no way I am running outside in the dark.  Besides the fact that it is pitch black most places, there are wild packs of javalinas, snakes, rats, and endless amounts of creepy crawlies out there.  I prefer to have bright light to have the best use of all my senses.  (I still sometimes run by tall grass and think I hear rattling, and think of a rattlesnake all coiled up, but it is most likely my imagination...however, it makes me run faster!)

I combined some blogilates with running 2-3 times a week.  Usually I run in the late morning and push the kids in the jogging stroller.  Also a good workout.  I don't run too far, usually between a mile and a half and two miles.

Some days I did a run and workout video the same day, sometimes I did one of the activities in a day.  And many days I didn't do any workouts.  It's still a work in progress.  However, I feel so much better now that I am more active and it is motivating to get up and do something, since I know I will feel so good the hours and days following.

For food, it was also up to us to decide for ourselves!  I think all of us wanted to lose weight, especially since a handful of us have recently had babies and wanted to get back down closer to our pre-pregnancy weight.  But since I still breastfeed, I wasn't interested in counting calories or cutting back on them too much.  So the way I approached the food portion, was eating "clean" and less processed foods.  Trust me, I still cheated a lot, though.  It is eye-opening to realize the small bad habits you have, until you are forced to pay attention.  I didn't realize how often I reached for a bite of chocolate, or skipped breakfast, or didn't quite pack as many veggies into a day as I should.  That's why I liked this challenge, it increased my awareness.  I started eating multiple helpings of green salad and steamed veggies at dinner time, if I wasn't full, instead of loading up on the pasta that I made as an entree, I tried to push through cravings or not have a midnight snack before crawling into bed.  Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I did not.

Most importantly, I got to drinking a lot more water.  I invested in this water bottle, and I am obsessed with it.  Unfortunately, so is Landon.  I should probably get another one to rotate with, since I often turn around and see too much toddler slobber all over my water bottle.  If I drink about three of these a day, I am doing excellent in regards to water intake.

End Results
At the end of the challenge, Brett weighed in 10 pounds lighter and I weighed in 8 pounds lighter.  We were really excited about that!

A couple weeks following the challenge, we did an Allred Family 5k/10k.  I came in last, but it's okay.  Hopefully it will be an annual event and I can set goals to improve.  I did run the whole time and I had had a rough week in regards to kiddos, so I'm considering it a success.

I plan on posting a few meals that we liked during our health challenge. They aren't earth-shattering ideas, but they are the kind of ideas I like to stumble upon.  If a recipe is too weird or complicated, I won't even attempt making it.  Hopefully I will get around to posting them soon!


It's Been a Rough One

It's been a rough week.

An ER visit with Vivienne who has a double ear infection and possibly a UTI...

And Landon split a little bit of his face open near his eye and has a bruised eyelid now...

I've had better weeks.  And I've slept probably more in one night than I have totally combined this week. Poor Brett can't really sleep well when I'm up with Vivienne during the night, so he takes turns helping with her and he is sleep deprived too.  He did bring me a big bag of chocolate home last night when he went to buy some butterfly band-aids for Landon's face.  Smart man.  I sure love him, and wouldn't want to be doing this parenting thing with anyone else!

We are surviving.  And I think we are slowly on the mend!  Hopefully the weekend will bring better days!


Living among the Living...

Wow, that was a long blogging break.  Not intentional at all, but between moving and my babies, it's just been hard to find extra moments.  And then our laptop got a virus, so blogging has been on the backburner.  But I miss it.  I like having a place to record little snippets of our little family life.  

I have been loving our new home and tiny town.  I'm surprised at how well I have adjusted up to this point.  It is suiting me much better than I ever could have anticipated.  I have to say though, the hardest part of living here, is living among so many living things (or things that were once living).

Oh. My. Goodness.  I never knew so many bugs, beetles, and insects could possibly be around one little home.  And figure out so many creative ways to weasel their way into a home.  I hardly bat an eye at some bugs in our house that once would have had me in a fit of panic and trying to cover it with tupperware until Brett could come kill it.  And we can't forget to mention the mosquitoes.  My children have been looking like tiny pimply little teenagers with all the bites they have been accumulating (and yes, I do use repellent too!) all over their faces.  In fact, one Sunday I was ready to stay home from church with Landon because he was surely breaking out into a contagious rash...until Brett explained that they were just mosquito bites.  And indeed, at church, many of the other little children's faces were also covered in bites.

Here are a few encounters I have had with other living creatures in my short time here:

- A snake in our carport right next to the door to our house.  We had only lived there for 3 days.

- A dead squirrel in our front lawn that I did not see until my foot was hovering over it and I nearly stepped on it.  Heart attack followed.

- A bat flew down our chimney and into our house.  My brother caught the footage (he was visiting) on his GoPro.

- A large "thing" was flying around the patio, and I blurted out, "Oh my gosh, what is that?", to which my nephew replied, "It's a hummingbird!".  I can assure you, it was most definitely not a hummingbird, but it was the size of one.  Brett later told me, it was a Tarantula Hawk, named appropriately, seeing as they prey on tarantulas.

- Threw something in our outside trash can, to see a rodent with a long tail, hopping through our carport, right by me.  Brett told me it must've been a Kangaroo Rat, also named for obvious reasons.

- Attended a church campout where they beheaded and hung a rattlesnake they found from a tree.  You should know, that those things (dead or alive and with or without heads) will move around for at least an hour or so, writhing up their muscles back and forth.  It is awfully eerie.

- If you turn on an outdoor light when it's dark outside and then walk out there, be prepared for beetles to dive bomb your face.  I still shreak...every time.  There is no getting used to that!

- Found a massive centipede in our house.  Doesn't sound too bad at the end of this list.  But those things are gross, and can actually hurt you too.

I am probably forgetting some of the memorable moments, but this list will do for now.  Maybe this should be a "series"?  Ha!  Doubt this list will be the extent of my encounters with non-human living things.

However, we do have a dog that we quite like.  His name is Rex.  And we think he is a pretty fun non-human living thing to have around.  Landon loves petting him, watching him sprint around the yard, and watching him drag his tummy across our lawn.  Vivienne's eyes stay fixated on him while we play in the backyard, she just adores him.  And Rex loves licking her toes (I do not love it, but he sneaks it and I don't catch him until it is too late and her toes are smothered in slobbery dog kisses.  I just have to remind myself it won't kill her, and dog kisses are part of childhood, right?).  We also will probably be getting some kitties next week!  They are so cute, plus they eat mice.  And who wants mice around?  Not us!  And if mice aren't around, then the snakes don't usually come around.  It's a win-win in that way.


Beach Bummin' 2014

Before we made our big move, our friends, the Mertz's, suggested we take a vacation together and hit the beach.  We are so glad we joined them!  We stayed in a hotel suite, and split the cost.  It worked out great!  It was a really affordable and fun break.

I'm going to get real here, though.  Roadtrips with babies aren't always for the faint of heart.  On our way to California, it was baaaad.  As in, 3 hours in, I told Brett to turn around and go home, because this just wasn't worth it.  Vivienne screamed for over 2 solid hours.  Not fussed, whined, or whimpered--full fledged screaming.  We stopped 3 times in that time frame for me to hold her, soothe her, feed her, change her, etc. I was sitting in the back seat this whole time, and still, couldn't calm her.  At one point, Landon, Vivienne and I were all crying in the back seat.  It wasn't my finest moment.  Finally, in a moment of total desperation, I turned on Pandora, to a lullaby station, and it was like magic.  She sat listening so concentrated and then after a while drifted off to sleep.  I think I will be buying this pronto.

Thankfully, the trip home went much smoother.  We stopped once for gas and for all to eat, and eeked out enough good behavior out of those kids the rest of the way home.  I mean, I was singing overly-enthusiastic songs of the "itsy-bitsy spider" and what-not for the last hour, to keep them distracted.  But Brett typically prefers my obnoxious singing to children screaming, so it works out.

Also, we were thankful for toes and stickers, which occupied much of Landon's time while he was carseat-bound.  And we discovered Vivienne also loves books, so I held a board book in front of her face the last hour and turned the page every minute or so, to give her something new to look at (I didn't read it aloud to her, since I was enthusiastically singing!).

Enough talk about the travelling, once we were there, it was great!

We stayed up late hanging out with James and Jenessa laughing our heads off at stupid lists on BuzzFeed.

We hit the beach one day, and it turns out, the beach is my children's "happy place".

We recently got this foldable wagon, and it was a lifesaver for the weekend!  Doesn't take up too much trunk space, heavy duty wheels, and really roomy.  We loaded Landon and all of our beach gear into it, to walk to the beach.  Then, while at the beach, we laid a towel down in it, and used it as a bassinet for Vivienne.  She took two of the longest naps of her whole life while in the wagon (I'm sure the ocean noise helped her too, she needs white noise to sleep for long periods of time during the day, I discovered).  Landon just needed a few snacks, and a few beach toys from the dollar store--and he was in heaven.  Seriously loved the beach.

Nursing Vivienne, before her first long nap...beaches are perfect for babies

Kaeti (James' sister) also joined us and is introducing Landon to seashells

The next day we hit the Orange County Swap Meet, napped, walked around Downtown Disney, and went out to dinner.
James showing us some hat tricks

Thanks for the good time, James & Jenessa, Kaeti (and Sam).  Until next time...!


What We Have Been Up To

Boxes and chaos are slowly starting to creep into the corners of every room in the house.  Our move date is quickly coming upon us.  Brett is finishing his last couple days of work at his current job, and then it will be time to get down to serious business and pack up the rest of the house, spend the night at my parent's to celebrate some festivities (my brother is leaving to Texas to serve a mission for our church), and then head to our new home.

The other night, I drew out a birds-eye-view of our farmhouse, solely based off of memory (we were inside for only a few minutes) and three crappy pictures I snapped on my phone.  Then I showed Brett some pinterest boards (his favorite, ha!) of paint ideas and what not.  Then I showed him where I thought certain furniture and paint colors should go, labeled on my sketch.  It got me excited.  Hopefully my memory was somewhat accurate!

I have been picking up a few things for our new home (keeping the tags on and the receipt, just in case).  It seems counterintuitive to be buying more "stuff" right before moving, since usually decluttering and getting rid of things is typical for pre-moving (and we have been doing that too).  But since we will be so far from stores, I am making an exception and getting some things I think will look nice.  I am being conservative though, not going too crazy and buying up too much at once.  I know I can order things online, but I'm weird and like to touch and look and pick up things I want to buy, especially things like throw pillows.  But I'm sure I'll do online shopping as well.

Here is a secret for buying cute decorative pillows for a good price--check the outdoor furniture and pillows as well!  Often times they are less even at full price, and usually have better markdowns when they are on clearance!  My mom told me about this, and I just found a really cute oblong navy pillow in the patio section of Target, for $7.48.  Can't beat that price!

Other things we have been up to...

Vivienne likes the mirror, and since all of them are propped up against walls in anticipation of our move, it really works out.

Squeezing in some visits to the Sweet Tooth Fairy Bakery before we move too far away from it.

I am throwing out all our nasty tupperware that is stained and breaking, and replacing it with some Pyrex glass storage.  So excited!  Target has them on sale for $26 right now!

Renewed my Costco Membership.

Finishing up a women's doubles tennis league with one of my best friends, McKenzie.  Having a blast, but pretty rusty!  Haven't played since before I was pregnant with Landon...

Jumped on the "Saltwater Sandal" bandwagon, and I am so glad I did.  Now I know why everyone else is obsessed with them.  I plan on buying the kids gender neutral colors and letting them become the most awesome hand-me-downs for each other.

Vivienne got another round of vaccinations.  Not our most favorite part of being a baby.  But she still is cute, so it all works out.


Our Future Farmhouse

So, since last posting we were able to take a peek in our future farmhouse.  It was a leap of faith planning on moving somewhere that I had never been.  But Brett and I are somewhere on the spectrum of being "visionary" and "DIY-ers" and knew we could probably fix up whatever we would need to.

However, we were so pleasantly surprised when we walked in!  Sure there are little things that aren't perfect about it, but overall, it is adorable and will be such a great fit for our family!  Here are a few things that I am excited about, now that I have been to our future farmhouse:

- Built-in hutch, for my platters and pretty dishes...similar to the one our current house has!  I was sad to leave the one here, and told Brett I wanted to find an old used hutch and refinish it, because I loved having stuff on display...turns out, I won't need to do that!
- Butcher block countertops.  If you read my post on our current kitchen, you already know that I had dreamed of possibly having butcher block counters replaced in there someday.
- Beadboard kitchen cabinets, add some sweet charm and character to the kitchen.
- A cute little window sill above the kitchen sink and a cute little nook above the stove.
- A natural gas stove.  I mean, who would've thought we would have natural gas out in the boonies...turns out, we do!
- A pantry.  It is small, but we've never had one before, so it's exciting for us.

Living Areas
- A large stone natural gas fireplace...swoon.
- A large fully enclosed Arizona Room with hard wood floors and giant windows.

- Each one has a bathroom connected to it
- We will have a walk-in closet!  It's small, but still a huge upgrade from any closet we've ever had.

- Huge enclosed backyard, lined with giant mature trees, for plenty of shade (and tree swings, don't worry--Brett is aware this will be another project he will have, along with farmhouse picnic tables).
- A hot tub in the back yard, which will provide for great date-nights-in (or girls nights, if any of my friends come and visit me!).
- Apple trees with apples growing and ripening up for the fall.  I will make apple crisp, homemade applesauce, and dehydrated apple chips with them.

I'm excited to get to decorate such a charming little house to call ours for the next while.  Stay tuned!


I'm a List Person...

So, I have had a whirlwind of emotions in regards to this move.  Both excitement and sadness.  I have never lived in a rural area before, I've never even really lived outside of Mesa.  It doesn't mean that I haven't dreamed of having an adventure living in a new place, or that I don't appreciate other places, or travel (I have been lucky enough to do some traveling).  However, for my living situations up to this point, life has kept me in the same area for a while.  So this is all going to be so new.

I've been thinking about all the things I will miss here and all the things I'm excited for there...because as someone who has lived all over the world (the awesome Becky Mecham), told me, "If you think you'll like it or if you think you'll hate it, you are right".  So I'm letting myself miss some things, but I'm trying to go into it happy and exhilarated for the changes to come. I have compiled two lists of things I'll miss and things I'm excited about, in regards to our move.  Enjoy!  You might learn a few things about where we live now and where we are moving to!

Things I'll Miss...
- The corner window in our kitchen, I had plans for Brett to build me a little breakfast nook underneath it
- The neighbor boy, about 6 years old, from the house behind us.  He talks to Landon over the fence when they are both playing in their own backyards, and he calls Landon "Jacob, Jakey, and Jake".  Not sure why he is so convinced his names is Jacob, but it's hilarious to eavesdrop on them "playing" and interacting together, even though a big fence divides them.
- The blackberry bush in Frankie's backyard.  It drapes over our fence, and she told us we can eat all the ones we can reach.  Besides the fact that they are the yummiest blackberries, it is too cute seeing Landon on his tiptoes reaching up and picking himself a snack.  He can gobble up endless amounts of those berries!
- Of course, all my local restaurants and amenities within a few minutes drive.  Can you say, Target and Costa Vida?!
- The citrus trees in my backyard, or any citrus trees close by.  Bowie is great for growing a lot of things, but citrus isn't one of them.  Good thing my parents have citrus trees, they usually have plenty to spare.
- Trick-or-treating, for my kids.  It's one tradition that is just hard to do when your closest neighbors are few and far between.  The church and schools do carnivals, but it just isn't the same.  I'm trying to convince Brett to make it our tradition to come to Mesa for Halloween.  He isn't super convinced yet, seeing as he lived in a rural area and doesn't feel as if he is "damaged" by his lack of "trick-or-treating".
- Having a hospital close by.  Mostly for the next time I have a baby (no, this is most definitely not an announcement, but I imagine I will work up the courage to add another one or two to the mix, eventually).  Because there is a pretty big chance of me delivering a baby pulled over on the side of the highway...which is less than ideal.
- Family and friends so close.  Of course, this is what I'll miss the most.  Thankfully, we will be living close to other family and friends, but still.  I'll miss my mom, let's be honest!  I don't think my mother-in-law will look at me the same way if I walk into her house "ugly crying" over how bad of a day I had.

Things I'm Excited for...
- A real-life Tow Mater.  I kid you not, Bowie has a rusty little old tow-truck that drives around town.  I will take pictures for proof.
- Having a tab at the gas station.  I mean, how cool is that? Pull up to the pump, wave to them inside, then they will start the gas pump for you.  I told Brett that I insisted on having a tab at the gas station, because if I'm going to live in a small town, I need to have some of the perks, ya know?
- Literally living up against a pecan orchard.  Have you seen a pecan orchard?  Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful trees for me to see out my window every day.  You can bet that we will be taking family pictures in an orchard this year (and maybe every year).
- No traffic or congestion on the roads.  I mean, Brett literally won't even have to factor in a commute at all, which will save him over an hour of driving time every day.  It's nearly impossible to have a traffic jam when the population is less than 450 people, and is very spread out.
- More animals.  We already have a pup lined up to move down with us.  We plan on keeping our chickens.  Who knows, maybe we will get a goat or a pig or something.  I mean, we are living on a farm, for Pete's sake!
- Star-gazing.  You really forget how many stars are out in the universe, until you are in the middle-of-nowhere and the sky won't stop twinkling.  I'm thinking many "date-nights-in" where Brett and I star gaze in our backyard.
- The fact that you can only pick up like two radio stations, and they are both country music.
- Cooler weather, due to the higher elevation.  I mean, we will be able to enjoy evenings together outside in the summer!  Plus, a little bit more of a distinct difference in seasons.  It sometimes even snows!
- School off during the County Fair.  Yes, that is right.  The kids get school off during the County Fair, so they can go take their pigs to compete, and stuff.  It's "small-town" and so awesome.
- "Country directions".  Actually, I'm not super excited about this one since I rely on navigation to get anywhere and can't read a map for the life of me, but it makes me laugh to think of hearing Siri tell me to "turn right at the tumbleweed and left at the broken fence".
- Brett building me a farmhouse picnic table. Or two or three (since I like hosting people for dinner).  I already informed him that this will be a project he will be heavily involved in (aka, a project he will be doing for me).

I haven't seen the inside of the house we are moving into yet (it's a leap of faith I am taking, moving into a place I've never been inside of).  But Brett promised me we can fix it up some, if it needs it.  I get to see it this weekend.  Hopefully I can add more to the list of "things I am excited for" after going inside!
I think Landon will fit in just fine...