Juicing

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This weekend, Adam and I officially began juicing.

You know, with fruits and vegetables.

{This was not what Adam thought at first when I mentioned I wanted to start juicing. Sorry, performance enhancing drugs aren’t really my thing…}

Anyway…

It’s something I’ve been looking into the past month or so. We saw this juicer in the store and after talking it over, decided to go ahead with the purchase. So far, we love it! We tried out a few different recipes and have yet to be disappointed. I honestly never thought I would say I enjoy juice with cucumbers in it, but they have all been delicious. And completely healthy.

As of right now, we’re just planning on juicing in the morning and maybe before dinner at night. This won’t replace our vegetables and fruits we already eat, but will add to our intake. I recently heard the average American gets only 5% of their daily fruits and vegetables they need. Five percent!!! That makes me really sad and I am now striving to get my family to eat more of them.

Here are the different juices we’ve tried so far:

~3 oranges (peeled), 1 cucumber, and a handful of grapes

~1 cup blueberries, 1 cup raspberries, and 2 oranges (our favorite thus far)

~1 orange, 1/2 cucumber, 1 apple, and a large handful of grapes

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Our reasons to juice

1. I like eating healthy and I want to set a good example for our girls.

2. Helps aide digestion, gives energy, boosts your immune system… all great things!

3. It’s quick and easy.

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Our initial thoughts:

1. The juice is really smooth – no pulp whatsoever.

2. Tastes better than something you might get at Orange Julius and so much healthier!

3. We are excited to try so many different recipes!

I’ll update more in a few weeks on our juicing adventures. Since I’ve only been doing this for a couple days, I have a limited knowledge on all the juicing ideas there are out there. But for now, we are very happy with our purchase!

Winter Workout Ideas

With the cold winter months having set in, I sometimes find it hard to get the motivation to go outside for a run. It takes even more gumption to bundle the girls up and put them in the jogger. So, I’ve found a few ways to workout inside, which excites this girl who hates the cold. I swear I was meant to grow up in Key West or something instead of Michigan.

Anyway, I wanted to pass these ideas on to you in case you wanted some workouts that don’t include getting frostbite.

1. TRX. This workout was created by a Navy SEAL. You can read more about it hereAnd the awesome thing? You can take it with you on any trip, too! It was designed to be used in hotel rooms or anywhere that’s hard to get to a gym. Fair warning: your core and muscles will be thoroughly worked out. But, that’s what we want, right? Adam takes his on deployments on the carrier with him.

2. P90x {or any home workout video}: Another great workout. Tony Horton is serious out his fitness. I know – I’ve worked out with him before! {he’s much shorter than you would think}

3. Quick Workouts {for those with limited time}: I do this workout as a “strength workout” after a run sometimes. You could add a few more cardio moves with it and it could be a full workout:

50 Jumping jacks

5-10 push-ups {depending on level of fitness}

50 crunches

25 mountain climbers

30 second plank

15 lunges on each side

Repeat. Twice if you’re able to.

4. Treadmill running. Sorry, I had to say it. As much as I hate the treadmill, it is an option. This is pretty much my last resort, but hey, it’s at least it’s there.

Today is the first day since I’ve been sick that I’m getting back out there to workout and I’m pretty stoked. I hate taking days off, but I know when my body is crying “uncle.”

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Highlights–Lowlights

Weekly Highlights

-Homemade cinnamon-swirl banana muffins. Seriously. So delicious. {recipe found here}

-Coffee date with a good friend.

-Baby girl turned 8 months old and stood by herself {without help} for the first time.

-Skype convo with a friend that I haven’t talked with in a while.

-My daughters’ daily snuggles.

-Watching Brooklyn draw an “S” and become so proud of herself.

Weekly Lowlights:

-Teething baby.

Sleep-deprived toddler.

-The flu bug. Thankfully, it only affected me and spared the rest of my family. As awful as it was not being able to keep even down water, I would much rather it be that way. There is nothing worse than a sick child. Or husband.

**The end of the week is right around the corner. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Tips on Saving Money

First of all, thank you for your comments, emails, and private messages in response to this post I really appreciate your advice, support, and empathy in regards to my lack of ideas in this battle known as parenting. We are slowly working through different ideas and trying to see what best fits with our strong-willed little girl. Once I find the answers, I’ll be sure to share them with you. Until then, I’ll strain to keep a smile on my face throughout the hours of tears {her’s or mine} that occur.

Moving on… 

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Ahh, long weekends. How I love them.

Thank you, MLK, for having a birthday on the third Monday of every January so Adam can have an extra day lazying around with us.

We’ve been out enjoying the beautiful weather, playing in large ball pits, and riding Thomas the Trains as ways of endless entertainment.

We really do try to make the best of our weekends.

{We spent a total of 500 yen for all that fun! There are some things I enjoy about Japan. Cheap entertainment for our children being one of them.}

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So, the main purpose of this blog post. Saving money. I know my ears always perk up when I hear about saving, only because it truly interests me. I love seeing where I can cut corners and what others have to say on how they are able to stretch a dollar or cut down on spending.

With it being a new year, Adam and I have gone through and talked about saving more this year and how we’re going to do it. Here are a few tips I have:

1. Set a budget. I find this to be very important for short term and long term saving. It can be a bit tedious at first, but once you have gone through every single expense, you can then come up with an idea of what money needs to go where and how to cut some corners. Maybe instead of drinking a $5 latte every day, you can start making coffee at home and putting that money towards your savings account (I recently switched over to making all my coffee at home and haven’t looked back! We save about $15/week by this simple sacrifice that wasn’t even hard for me to do!)

2. Make Goals. Once you have set a budget, sit down a make short term and long term financial goals. Such as: try to save an extra $10 a week, max-out yearly IRA contributions, don’t keep a balance on your credit card, only use cash to buy groceries every month, etc. Goals really help you see where you are now and where you want to be in the future. At the end of the year, look back on those goals and see once how you did. Change them as needed next time around.

3. Don’t carry debt. Besides our mortgage {which is currently paid for by renters}, we do not have any debt. We used to have a car loan and student loans, but we both knew that having debt isn’t the most financially sound decision. So, we saved up and paid the loans off early. Carrying debt of any kind is usually not beneficial. I would suggest looking at what debt you have and deciding if paying it off quicker than the term of the loan is feasible. If so, do it.

*Adam and I do use a credit card. We pay it off every couple weeks or so and have never carried a balance. Read the next point and you’ll see why we choose to have a credit card.

4. Use credit cards with added perks. Now, I know some financial gurus recommend never having credit cards at all. If you are a person who tends to fall deeply into debt because of one, then please, by all means, do not go this route. But, if you are able to use your credit card reasonably and pay it off on time, then I think having a credit card is a great thing. And here’s why: our credit card company gives us a percentage back every time we use our card.

For example, if we spend $1000 with our credit card, we get points back, which we can redeem for straight-up cash or use the points on their website to receive cool things. Since Adam and I are bargain shoppers and can find the things they have on their website for cheaper, we take the cash every time. We just redeemed some of our points a few weeks ago and I’m putting that money {plus my cash from Christmas presents} to buy a new camera. Cool, right? Obviously, you need to have patience, but it’s totally worth it. If you’re going to be buying gas or groceries anyway, why not use the credit card and get money back for it? 

5. Meal Plan. I wrote a post back in October {read here} about setting up a meal plan. And, I’m here to say, it’s working! I sit down at the beginning of each month, write out a month worth of meals, and then weekly I go grocery shopping to fulfill those meals for the week.

This helps save money a few different ways.

1) When wondering what to make for dinner, I just go to the side of the fridge and look at my meal plan. I know I have all the food I need for each recipe. It makes life so much simpler. And, when Adam comes home and asks, “What’s for dinner?” I always have an answer for him!

2) We eat out a lot less. I am never at a loss for what to make, since I’ve already taken the time previously to think about each meal. I then don’t fall on the “oh well, let’s just go out to eat” excuse. Saving money and eating healthier! Double win.

3) I go to the grocery store only once a week versus multiple times a week. I have everything for the week’s recipes written down and I generally {with a few exceptions} only make one grocery run a week. Since it’s my least favorite chore, this makes me happy in many ways.

I would love to hear of any ways you use to save money. I’m always looking for new ideas. I view it like a fun game of sorts. Take a little time to think things out, save a lot of money.

Oh, I should mention, I’m not a couponer. Never have been, probably never will be. I’ve tried, but it’s just not for me. I will use the coupons they have hanging in the aisles if I was going to purchase that item anyway, but since Adam and I don’t get a newspaper with ads in them, I’m not about to print coupons off with our printer when I will most likely forget about them anyway. But for you couponers — good for you!

Need. More. Coffee.

coffee

Today is a five-cups-of-coffee type of day. Heck, maybe a whole pot. I’m not usually so dependent on an outside stimulant to wake me up and give me the energy I am greatly lacking, but with our toddler problems we’ve been dealing with, sometimes you just need to call for outside help.

Over the last week or so, we’ve been slapped with a real dose of reality. Our two-year-old has entered the bedtime-cursing-hours. She is refusing to go to sleep in her bed without either Adam or I there to snuggle with her until she drifts off into a peaceful slumber.

Before this past week, I had no idea what exactly parents would hate about the bedtime routine. I thought, what’s so hard about giving them a bath, brushing teeth, reading a few stories, and tucking them into bed?

Well, a week later, I now know. It’s not the routine of the bedtime that parents hate. It’s the feeling of getting that little person into bed, closing the door quietly, tiptoeing down the hall, breathing a sigh of relief and putting your feet up on the couch to get your first real break for the day, only to realize a little shadow followed you out that bedroom with stealth-like skill and it will take hours to put said little person back into bed and finally have them stay there.

I’m not sure what changed Brooklyn. Sure, she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 14 months old. Sure, as a toddler she would wake up every once in a while during the night, crying out for me to come give her some water or find her paci. But she’s never been this difficult before.

I’ve never had a parenting issue that I have felt so helpless in. Adam and I are searching the internet and parenting books on how to deal with this. Spanking isn’t working, holding the door closed so she can’t exit her room isn’t working. Nothing. We’ve tried reasoning with her. We’ve tried sitting on her bed next to her, then five minutes later moving a foot closer to the door, and another foot closer, etc. etc. until we are almost out of the room only to have her pop her head up and ask for snuggles again.

Night lights don’t work. Reassuring her doesn’t work. Promises of snuggles the next morning isn’t working. The only thing that keeps her in that bed is if we stay there until she has fallen asleep and manage to sneak out before she knows it. And, when she wakes up during the night, the whole fiasco starts over again.

I feel backed up against the wall. What is your trick to getting your toddler to stay in their bed and not get out? After the last few nights of hardly any sleep, I am getting desperate. With now two children waking up during the night, I am becoming that mother who {gasp} has bags under her eyes and will soon be unrecognizable to friends and family. I don’t want to become her! Help a mother out.

Currently…

Currently enjoying… 

-eating leftover Christmas goodies. I made a lot of snacks and goodies over Christmas to share with neighbors and friends. I had all these wonderful recipes I found online and got a little over zealous and made too much. I ended up freezing a lot of the leftovers and now we are reaping the benefits of my baking frenzy.

-playing with Brooklyn and her new learning toys. She is like a sponge right now, soaking up as much information as she can. On her Christmas list out to family, we requested some learning toys or games that we thought she would enjoy and get some good use out of. She loves this Spell and See toy!

-Scarlett’s adventurous spirit. Little Miss I-can-do-whatever-I-put-my-mind-to. Her current favorites are standing up by the couch, TV, chair, cupboards, doors… you name it, she stands up by it. She has also begun walking along things a little bit and testing her skills at standing while only holding on with one hand or no hands. I see walking not too far in the distance for this little lady.

-reading Tuesday’s Child by Linda Chaikin. She’s a good author, I really enjoy her novels. {I also have Wednesday’s Child, Thursday’s Child and Friday’s Child waiting to be read.} I just got done with The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury and Dee Henderson’s Full Disclosure. Dee is my absolute favorite author so I was thrilled when I found out she had just released a new book. It did not disappoint.

-my new hair. Last week I went blonde. Really blonde. It’s fun doing something out of the ordinary and I feel like a new person!

-our new IKEA purchases (found in this post).

-Family time! I’ve said this a lot lately, but I can’t emphasize it enough. There is nothing like spending time together with our girls and my husband. Especially since he’s been gone a lot over the past 2.5 years. Thank goodness we only have one more deployment to get through for this sea tour and then on to our shore tour!

-Catching up on some shows: Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, Hawaii Five-0, and Parenthood. I’m a little behind but with Adam heading back to work, I’ll use the girls’ nap time as a time to watch my shows.

Race Day

Adam and I ran in the Frostbite half marathon today.

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I had been up a lot during the nights lately with Scarlett, so a well-rested person I would not be for this race. In addition, the past three weeks prior to race day I was not allowed to train, due to a heart issue the doctors were unsure about. With less than 48 hours to the start time, I was unexpectedly cleared to run the race if I chose to. Since this was my race that I signed both Adam and I up for back around Thanksgiving, I immediately started searching for a babysitter and told Adam I was definitely doing this.

This was by far the most unprepared I have felt for a race yet, somewhat physically but mainly mentally. We carb-loaded last night in preparation. I drank lots of water yesterday to make sure I would be well hydrated for the big event. Adam grabbed our packets early this morning and with a start time of 11am (my favorite time, I’ve decided, to start a race) we strolled up to the starting line, reached down to touch our toes a couple times, and joined the throngs of people inching their way onto the course.

While some minor details leading up to this race were not as planned, the biggest surprise for us was the actual race. The race was located on a nearby base and I had no idea how big of a deal this was for the Japanese people. We expected a few hundred people at the starting line, mainly American military members and their families that came out for a fun run on a beautiful day. How wrong we were.

The base was opened up to the local Japanese people. Now, something you may not know: the Japanese people are serious about their running. They run in full matching gear: tops, bottoms, and even matching shoes at times. And they are quick. My dream that I won the race was quickly diminished.

Just to give you an idea of how today’s race went:

First, there was the Zumba. While waiting around to meet up with a friend, music started blaring and I saw a crowd forming very quickly nearby. Then, I began laughing quite hysterically as thousands of Japanese people began to imitate the Zumba moves the instructors were performing on the center stage. Even the by-standers all readily joined in, pumping arms up and down, swinging hips side to side. It was very comical and helped ease the tension of the 13.1 miles ahead of us.

Next, was the line up for the race to begin. This was not a wave start, as is my preferred method for a big race. Instead, everyone stood in a huge group, bunched together. This wouldn’t mean anything, except Japanese people don’t understand personal space. Adam and I were very thankful for our height which allowed us to breathe our own air, since we are a head above every Japanese person there. Thanks, Dad, for passing down your height to me.

As the time ticked down to the start time, we noticed there were no announcements indicating how things were going to begin. Well, if they had made the announcement earlier, all previous announcements made were only in Japanese anyway. Instead of a typical countdown (san-ni-ich), we only heard a gunshot-like noise and off they went! 3 minutes and 45 seconds later, we finally crossed the line and so began our race (and we were standing toward the front. I don’t know how long it took people in the very back to finally cross the starting line.)

And then, there were the costumes. They varied from: Super Mario, Batman and the Joker, a Robot, Big Foot (he does exist!), a gorilla, Superman, a man running with large flash cards saying “Smile”… the list goes on and on. I have never seen so many different costumes and I’ve run in Halloween races before! Very entertaining.

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To say the least, this will be a very memorable race for us. The best part was being able to cross the finish line holding hands with my Love.

Thanks, Adam, for such a great day together! I thoroughly enjoyed running the race with you.
after race*I apologize that all the pictures uploaded very small. I’m too tired right now to go back and try to reformat them. 🙂

Reorganizing

With Christmas just past, and many presents needing a new home, we’ve been going through our old things and deciding what needs to stay and what we don’t use or wear anymore. I always feel refreshed after I purge. If I haven’t worn clothes in the last year or so, I put it in the pile to resell or donate. Brooklyn had some trinkets laying around that she hasn’t played with in months that I threw away or put in the donate pile. I think it’s healthy to go through our stuff a few times a year and ask if we need it, use it, or wear it enough to keep it around. 

I find that with having a child or two, the clutter and piles of unneeded stuff grows drastically. It leaves an unsettled feeling inside me when I see piles of things sitting around that don’t have their own place.

This need of reorganizing is what brought Adam and I to IKEA the other day. Thankfully we live only about 45 minutes away from one. We came back with a few things that were necessary to help keep our apartment organized and a couple splurge items that spruce up our apartment.

DVD Holders: All of our current DVD’s fit in these little white boxes. It’s nice to have them out of sight and the area looking more cohesive. I have them labeled in their own categories: Kids, Sarah’s, Adam’s, Both, and Seasons.

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Toy Chest: LOVE this pattern! It’s the perfect size to fit in our living room but not look too large. All our toys from the living room fit in it {the rest we have in a toy organizer in Brooklyn’s room}.

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Book Shelf: this went in Scarlett’s room. It matches her white crib and changing table and allowed all the extra stuff sitting around to have their own place.

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Decorative pillows (splurged a total of $20 for these!): I really like how they add a little color. Not too much, but enough to look pretty.

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Hopefully I’ll get even more organization done in the next few weeks! Purging things and organizing can be addicting!

What I Wore: Wednesday {WIWW}

I’m still immensely enjoying having Adam on vacation. Next week he goes back to work and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ll miss my “babysitter/coffee-maker/wake-up-with-the-girls-bright-and-early” guy during work hours. It’s so much nicer having constant help with the girls and around the house. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Today, I decided to do another what I wore post. It’s been a few weeks and, well, I kind of have fun doing them. We’ve been spending time relaxing at home and doing fun things around base and out-in-town so comfort is what I’ve been going for.

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Button-up shirt: J.crew
Cropped pants: J.crew

I love these new pants I got for Christmas! I recently bought cropped pants from the Limited and Gap, but ended up sending them back due to them not fitting how I liked. J.crew was the way to go.

Living with a Purpose

Happy New Year!

I know I’m a bit late in saying it, but I’ve been on vacation for the past eight days and didn’t even take my computer with me! It was wonderful. We rang in the new year with just our family- both girls sound asleep in their beds and Adam and I barely staying awake long enough to give each other a New Year’s kiss. My, how life has changed from 5 years ago. I wouldn’t trade it, though.

Recently, I’ve had time to think and reflect during some “me time” that Adam graciously gave me. So much happened in 2012; mostly good, some not-so-good. We finished out the year with a lot to be thankful for, along with some unknown still hanging in the air, resulting in a bit of anxiousness.

While all these things are going through my mind, I didn’t want to have it negatively affect me. What’s going to happen will happen, it is ultimately out of my control. When my abnormal EKG came back a couple weeks ago, it really shook me up. I started to realize that life is really short and I need to soak up as much time with my precious girls and husband as I can.

So, this year I decided not to make a new years resolutions that I had a 50/50 chance of keeping, but instead to come up with a word that I would try to remember throughout the year. I wanted it to be something that would help me be a better person. The word I came up with is purposeful.

When I’m with my girls and husband, I want to be purposeful or intentional on the undivided attention I give to them. Now that I have two girls, I feel it’s hard to give both of them the time they deserve. My time is not theirs if I am on my iPhone or computer, reading articles, browsing Pinterest, or responding to Facebook comments or messages. I can’t be the wife I should be if my husband is trying to tell me about his day while I’m checking my email or concentrating on something else.

In fully being present with them, I can truly be there. Both physically and mentally.

The same goes for everything I do. I want to be purposeful in my workouts. Purposeful in friends, worshipping God, and yes, even in grocery shopping. I know I have a long way to go, but I truly believe I can be a better person by doing this.

What would your “word” be for this year?