Today’s picture made me stop in the middle of a very hectic day and remember a very special friend. In fact, one of the only friends I’d share a diet coke with. And, if she was close, I’d even give her the first drink because everyone knows that’s the best sip (especially in cans, which are better than bottles).
What does the word “salad” make you think of? Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots and ranch dressing? I must admit that was likely my visual representation for “salad” for a long time. In the past few years as I’ve broadened my food horizons past more typical foods to include things like whole wheat pasta, quinoa, beans and all types of cabbage, I’ve begun to look at salad differently. In fact, my salads rarely contain lettuce at all anymore.
One key to healthy eating is a little bit of planning and preparation, which, I’ll admit, are all more part of my husband’s chemical make-up than mine.
Recently we’ve been eating a lot of salads composed of already-chopped vegetables and already-cooked meat, beans and quinoa stored in separate containers in the fridge. Equally delicious warm or cold, these salads are easy to whip up. Just grab a bowl, containers from the fridge and start scooping anything you like. You’re bound to end up with whole-foods healthiness because that’s what all of the containers hold.
Tonight’s salad, the subject for my photo of the day, contains quinoa, ground beef, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, onions, black beans, cabbage, and avocado. I call it the seven layer salad, although a friend recently told me that it sounds like more than seven layers. It is delicious enough to eat 6 times this week (so far) and full of healthy proteins, fats and other nutrients. And since, thanks to Riley, it’s already chopped up and ready, it’s as easy as ordering a pizza!
Tonight Natalie got started with story time while I finished cleaning up after bath time. This was a much quieter start to bedtime than the usual jumping-on-beds-like-monkeys routine. Natalie and Liberty like Pinkalicious because she is pink and eats cupcakes and calls herself Pinkerella. James likes it when Pinkalicious continues to eat too many cupcakes and turns red, and the pesky little brother who yells “Pinkaboo!” at the end of the book.
I have always hated running. I didn’t like how it hurt. I found no joy in running further than 200 yards at a time. I was in track, but I was a sprinter – get it over with as soon as possible- that was my motto. My husband started running to get in better shape and lose weight and I thought he was crazy. It only took a year before I decided to give it a try. And, it hurt. I couldn’t go very far and it was disheartening how tired I was after such as short distance. But I kept going, mostly because it was 20-30 minutes out of the house, by myself, with no one clinging on my legs, whining or begging for something. It was my guaranteed alone time. Unlike biking or walking, it was not even possible for me to take a child running with me. I got addicted to the time alone and the feeling of the “runners high” after finishing a run, especially when I met a new milestone – faster mile, longer distance, longer overall run, etc. I quickly hit a plateau last spring after I had started running. Then, as quickly as I had become addicted, I suffered an injury that kept me from running for months – almost kept me from walking. I started to miss and appreciate more that time alone to reflect and as I figured out how to overcome my t-band injury, I got back out on the trail even more determined than I had been before. I ran last fall, trying hard to increase my miles and failing. It seemed that no matter how hard I pushed myself, I could not meet my goal of 3 miles in 30 minutes. I took up some suggestions from fellow runners and decreased my mileage to try to increase my pace and finally one day I said, “Screw it. I’m just going to run one stinking little mile.” And I did – in well under 10 minutes. I started to wonder if I could run further than 3 miles and as I changed things up, I started meeting my goals. I was elated when I ran a 5k in under 30 minutes; so excited not long after when I ran 4.5 miles in under 45 minutes and very pleased when I was able to run 6 miles this summer at the cabin – and in a time of just over an hour.
Don’t tell anyone, but when I get close to meeting a goal and I can see it in the distance, and I give that last little push, every last ounce of effort I have, for the last 20 feet or so, I literally get the chills. Goosebumps on my arms and legs – like my body knows it has overcome an obstacle. And I celebrate, just a little, in my own mind a small accomplishment.
Don’t get me wrong. I still hate running, which is hard to understand. I usually turn my music up loud for the first mile to try to drown out the voices in my head telling me I should just walk or that running is not all that great. After that first mile, I can usually hit a stride that will carry me through my workout goal. Deep down, though, I’m still a sprinter. And when the goal is distance, I just about let my chest explode to pump my legs faster to just get it over with.
I probably will keep running. I’m not up for marathons or races. This is just for me. For now, while my kids are little and beg constantly of my attention, I have a much easier time giving it to them when I have been able to take some time for just me, shoes to the pavement, and run until it hurts.
It goes without saying that summer with this family includes a lot of swimming, boating, fishing and general playing in the water. We went to a water park Friday with our friends and let the kids swim their hearts out. Seven hours later we loaded up their exhausted bodies and drove them home. And while there weren’t many enthusiastic takers for a dip on Saturday, they were back in the saddle today. Diving in from the side and doing “the cold water challenge” which is a series of commands they have to follow to get wet – stand, jump, kneel, sit, swim! They made this up and it causes them to get wet and giggle without stopping.
I was inspired recently by a friend to take a photo every day for a year. The calendar freak in me wanted to wait until January 1st, or at least the first day of another month. But then, the part of me that wishes that I wasn’t such a big procrastinator decided there is no time like the present. I thought about how I could document these 365 days and the meaning that the photos would hold and I remembered this poor, abandoned blog. So last Tuesday I started taking photos. And never posted any. Today is catch up day. I can’t promise to post a photo and story everyday, but I do plan to take a photo everyday. Here are the first few, along with their stories.
I took this photo of my girls in the back of the truck as we shared a picnic watching the rain (and a rainbow) over Lake Menomin while waiting for Taylor to be done with football practice. (8-11-2014)
Tuesday I went for a run in Menomonie, waiting for football practice to be over again. Leaving Menomonie behind was a happy time in my life, aside from missing my friends. I didn’t have a lot of good feelings about Menomonie itself. But running and reflecting made me remember some of the beautiful places there and softened my heart a bit. (8-12-2014)
Liberty enjoys watching You Tube videos of people making play-doh dresses for their dolls. She was completely silent sitting here for over an hour with play-doh and princesses (8-13-2014)
Thursday was the third day of the third week of Google Summer Camp at work. Some of the Math Dept people brought in ingredients to make s’mores because what is summer camp without s’mores? (8-14-2014)
Natalie finally let Riley pull out her other front tooth. “It didn’t even hurt!” she said. (8-15-2014)
Liberty likes to be as close as possible to me at all times. This is her watching cartoons on her iPad as she is actually laying on my back while I am watching Netflix. This is a very typical finding… (8-16-2014)