family, health and wellness

…and then June happened.

Well, for two weeks we ate right, exercised, and were feeling good. We knew that Michael and Steve were going to church camp with the youth group the second week of June, so Paleo was kind of out the window. Camp food is camp food. Early mornings and late nights. Just as it should be. Lauren and I stayed home because she is home from college and we had a room in the house to get cleaned out. Her room. I had used it as a storage room for all the things when we had wood floors put in and I had not emptied all of the boxes by the time she was home. She has been none too pleased to be sleeping on the top bunk in Michael’s room. So, we had plenty to do. There was no reason for us to stop exercising or eating right, but somewhere in between getting the boys packed, snacks purchased, and them sent on their way, I lost my mind and abandoned the exercise/eating right routine we had begun to establish. 

Lauren and I did get the room cleaned out. I even got the yard mowed while they were away. However, exercise was non-existent, as was the healthy eating. Somehow, I convinced myself that a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and binge watching Dowton Abbey (yes, I know everyone else watched it like six years ago) was the new order of the day…every day…like four seasons worth. I know. I know, but we could get back on track next week. Right?

Life has a funny way of marching on where it will, even if the direction it marches isn’t where we intended. Steve and Michael had a good week at camp. They walked all over the Charleston Southern campus and despite the bus having a bit of trouble on the way, they all made it there and back home safe and sound. I thought that we could just get back into the swing of things when they got back, but God had other plans. Steve received word of a sweet family member’s passing in St. Louis and a couple of days later, I received word of my dear Uncle Jim’s passing. It was a long week, but we are so thankful that the services fell so that we were able to attend both of them. Trips were soon scheduled for Mississippi and Illinois and we got busy cooking Lauren’s meals for the trip and packing. 

Attending funerals has a way of presenting a crystal clear picture of how quickly time passes. I was reunited with cousins I had not seen for twenty to thirty years and met some of their children, who are practically grown themselves. I gave hugs to aunts and uncles that, in my mind’s memory, are 50, but in reality are now in their 70’s and 80’s. Waters muddied as we little cousins took for granted seeing each other at big family get togethers every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Fourth of July. Somewhere along the way, we all grew up, got married, had children, raised them, and are living our lives in respective states all over. Some of us have sons in law or daughters in law. Some of us have grandchildren now. It seems that life is so busy as we raise our own families that we have lost touch…or at least it feels that way to me. It makes my heart ache a little. I am grateful for seeing those I was able to see for the short time we had to spend together. It warmed my heart to see the new little family members and meet the teenage cousins that reminded me of what their parents looked like when we were growing up. That made me smile. 

We arrived home just in time to get ready for another good-bye. Our beloved pastor of our church in Alabama is moving on to a new chaper in his life. We were blessed to have him for fifteen years. I was blessed to sing with our choir at his last service with us. It was a nice celebration of him and his family. We love them. We will miss them, and we are grateful to have served with them. 

As I finish writing this post my family is on the road once again. We are coming home from a visit to Arkansas to visit my father in law and step mother in law. We have travelled like crazy this month. None of it planned, but all of it necessary. Time absolutely does march on and we are being more intentional about taking time to visit more often and spend time together. We had a good visit with our family in Arkansas. We showed our kids our old stomping grounds like the high school we graduated from, the college we met at, the church we got married in, etc… We had good conversations along the way. 

Over the month of June, I have been learning that balance and flexibility of all the things are the order of the day. Eating healthy and exercising are what we strive to do most of the time, but traveling to spend time with loved ones and pay our respects to loved ones that have passed on is important, too. The burpees, sit ups, wall balls, and paleo food will be waiting on us when we get back home.  For the month month of June, they turned out not to be the most important of all the things.

family, health and wellness

A Bierman Summer

Well, the first week of Bierman Bootcamp is done! We are all still alive! Actually, I think this is the most compliant my kids have been about something of this nature. Of course, Michael asked for it, so… He has been willing to try new combinations of foods. That isn’t to say that he has liked all of them, but he eats whatever the meal is and keeps going. That’s saying a lot for a sensory kid! So far, most of the meals in the Paleo In 28 book have been very tasty. There have been a couple that aren’t my favorite, but we are trying something new and the way I look at it, we can stick with most anything for just 28 days. By the time this is posted, we will be finished with seven of them.

As far as the workout is concerned, we have started out super slow and easy. I don’t know that Michael even broke a sweat the first day. Ha! We stretch every single day. You know those people who can do the splits and walk-overs, and when they stretch they lay down on their legs to touch their toes? Yeah. We are not those people. Our immediate family is not flexible. Several years ago, I tore a calf muscle. I have no fantastic story, unfortunately. It simply tore with one hop. Thank goodness it wasn’t so bad that I needed surgery or anything, but I did have to go to physical therapy for a few months. I learned so much. I had no idea how long the calf muscle actually is and how our muscles overlap and how tight they said my muscles were. I was told that if I didn’t stretch every day, my other muscle would probably tear, too because it was tighter than the leg I was there for. Well, now I stretch every day. I can touch my toes. That may not sound amazing to you, but I could not before. I don’t want my kids to have the same flexibility issues I have had, so we stretch- every day. We work out three days a week. What do I mean by work out? Running, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, wall-balls. I think that’s it, so far. We have just been doing two sets. We each start our timer and then stop it when we complete two rounds of the exercises for that day. It’s kind of like a mini- WOD (work out of the day). Of course, I plan on upping the reps and sets next week. Do more for longer. I know none of this is professional or anything, but at least we are moving. We are out in the sunshine and we are getting our blood pumping. That, to me, is the important thing.

As I told you in my last post, Lauren is our resident couch potato. I don’t know that she has ever “worked out” in all her almost 20 years of life. It is not really her thing. She has been to a few Refit (think Zumba) classes with me, but that’s about it. So, working out is out of her comfort zone. Thursday was a day full of “out of her comfort zone” things. Lauren had her annual allergy appointment Thursday afternoon. It was a workout day and so she did the workout that morning and got ready for her doctor appointment for the afternoon. Allergy appointments take several hours. They do blood work, scratch test, which is extremely uncomfortable, and discuss results and medications/treatments. Lot’s of decision making, especially with all of the health issues she deals with. Asthma, food allergies, and eczema, oh my! What made this appointment different is that for the last fifteen years she has been going to a different allergist, so this was a new office, new doctor, new staff, and she is considered an adult now. She is always nervous about all of the tests they run, but she was also going to be in the driver’s seat this time. They speak to her, ask her the questions, etc… She is used to Steve or me doing that. Growing pains. I am proud of her for taking charge, finding her voice, AND getting a workout in, on top of it all.

Michael has already begun his summer reading for school. He has two books he has to read and works data sheets to do on each. This is great considering last year we were cramming in his two books the last couple of weeks of summer! Don’t judge. It was a crazy summer. It snuck up on us, so we decided to be more intentional this summer and get it all done early. He has also been studying for the Alabama driver test to get his permit. He should be behind the wheel soon!

Steve and I took a bike ride (the Harley kind) down to Clanton Sunday afternoon. We just got on the highway and headed south. It was nice. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think we actually had a destination. We just rode. The next thing I knew, we were turning into Peach Park. We ate some peach cobbler, picked up some peaches and headed back home. (this was 2 days before we started Paleo, thank goodness, because that cobbler was delicious! 😉 It was fun to get out and just ride. We don’t do that often enough.

For the most part, our summer is starting out nicely. We have some decisions to make regarding Lauren’s health and mine (more on that later), but other than that, it has been a relaxing summer. Just the kind I like. I hope you are enjoying all the things of summer, too!

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Bierman Boot Camp

Michael has been asking over and over these past few months to “work out” over the summer. He said he wanted to eat healthier and build muscle. He is sixteen and skinny, just like his daddy was when he was his age. Michael has muscles, just not big ones. Noone in our family is on the tall side, so there is that, too. Steve told me that he used to work out and eat things to gain weight and get bigger to no avail and that Michael most likely will be the same. However, yesterday we all started on a little summer journey of getting healthier. Steve and I are both older and heavier than we used to be, so it will be good for us. Lauren is our resident bookworm/couch potato, so she could use some exercise, as well. She is home for the summer and none to pleased, but she is going along. As she says, she was “voluntold!” Michael and I are eating Paleo. Lauren already has a diet free of wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, so she is just continuing with that, although I would like for her to eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugar. Maybe we can get her to work on that.

I found a great little treasure at the bookstore that has made the food part of our journey quite simple. It is called Paleo In 28. The author explains the Paleo way of eating and has 4 weeks of meals with 5 ingredients or less recipes in her book. I’ve eaten this way before, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back into the swing of things. It has been great having everything so conveniently planned out in a book, and so far the recipes we have tried are really tasty. Our first Paleo breakfast was a tropical green smoothie with spinach and some delicious organic frozen fruits. Now, Michael doesn’t like green smoothies and the one fruit he really doesn’t like are bananas, so I didn’t know if we would even get beyond breakfast, but he surprised me. He drank every bit of it and said it wasn’t too bad. Ha! Meal one down!

Before we made our smoothies, we went right outside and proceeded to do our first work out. All four of us participated. We went to the end of our cul de sac, started our timers and ran to the stop sign and back, did burpees, sit ups, and squats. We did two rounds. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a start. I don’t think Michael even broke a sweat, haha! The rest of us? Well, we did! I believe our son is stronger and in better shape than he thinks. We have decided to stretch every day and do a “work out” 3 days a week and see how that goes this summer. Our lunch was a cobb salad with a simple olive oil based lemon dressing. It was very filling. Our dinner was baked chicken tenders with spicy sweet potato fries. We snack on fresh fruit, and dried fruit and seeds. There are some delicious looking dessert recipes toward the back of the book that I am really looking forward to trying. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, Michael will have his bigger muscles, Lauren will be a little stronger, and Steve and I will be a little lighter. Between getting healthier, stronger, summer reading, learning to drive, and of course downtime of playing video games, and looking at all of the lightning bugs that fill our back yard on hot Alabama June nights, I think our summer is going to be super full and super fun!

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Little God Moments

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Do you ever have a moment where God shows up and speaks to you out of nowhere?  Especially when you aren’t really in that frame of mind?  I was in a “gotta get this done quick” frame of mind.  Honestly, I had a million other things on my mind at the time.  If I am not intentional with my thoughts, I lean toward worrying about everything and for some reason or other, my brain has a tendancy to try and solve the world’s problems around 3am.  Well, this particular time, it was early afternoon.

I was in the back yard trying to get the mowing done before a storm came through and as I pushed the mower up beside our landscaped wall, I saw a blade of grass poking through the middle of the wall.  We just recently had this flower bed wall built and filled with dirt,  it still looked all neat and clean so one long blade of grass peaking through stood out.    My thoughts came to an abrupt halt, and suddenly no more running thoughts filled my mind, but just the sound of the mower and outside noises, birds, other mowers in the distance, etc… Much quieter than the rambling thoughts in my head.  I looked at that rather long blade of grass poking through the middle of the wall and as quick as a wink, God revealed to  me how vigorously nature pursues the light.  Deep in the dark earth that blade of grass pushed through the dirt toward the warmth of the light.  It struck me how it didn’t even just keep pushing upward toward the top of the ground, but took a shortcut to the side to get to the sunlight.  Nature pursues God.  That is how it was created.  Psalm 96:11-12 says: Let the Heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubiliant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forrest sing for joy.

I thought about how we as humans are given free will.  We were created to pursue God, but he gives us the choice.  It seems to be that we must test the limits to see how close we can get to the darkness, but still turn around and see God.  Like a toddler that is reaching for something they know they shouldn’t touch, we stretch out our hand toward our desired sin.  Our default is to pursue something, but He leaves it up to us what that something is.  I believe that satan uses many things to pull us away from pursuing the light: busyness and distraction are two.  We have become so busy with everything.  Work, school, sports, church activities and the like, keep us busy.  These aren’t bad things.  They are just things, lots and lots of things inundating our time.  There is no down time, no dead space.  Then, add in distraction from technology, complex relationships, our schedules, health concerns.  Our focus can quickly shift from God to the worries of the day, everything on our schedule, our problems.   Of course we are here and living life, so attention is needed on all the things.  However, it is when God becomes an afterthought, our last resort, that we no longer remember why we are here – to worship God, to seek Him in all things.

  • The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10
  • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
  • And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

There are so many verses that speak of God’s promises.  I am thankful for the reminder that I can pursue the Lord in all things and that He is with me. I don’t need to worry endlessly or try to handle everything myself.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7  A little unexpected God moment in the middle of my day that helped me be intentional with my thoughts and refocus on Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20  How cool is that?  He’s got All The Things.

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Lauren’s German Potato Salad

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German potato salad – wheat, dairy, egg, nut free

 

Right after Steve and I met, Union Pacific moved his parent’s to Nebraska for a few years. Steve’s mom gave me a cookbook from their Lutheran church.  Being from Mississippi, I grew up with traditional southern potato salad.  You know – russet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, sweet pickles, and Blue Plate mayonnaise, of course.  Add just a drop of mustard for a little kick.  Well, I have yet to figure out a way to make that for Lauren without eggs or mayonnaise, so I looked up several different German potato salad recipes in this book as well as others.  Most of the recipes are vinegar based, which I knew would be easier to make allergy friendly.  Some of them use butter, some green onions.  After a little trial and error, I came up with this one and it has become a family favorite and kept a bit of our German heritage alive, as well.  This is one of Lauren’s favorites!  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

4-5 medium russet potatoes cubed                              1 tsp salt

4 slices crispy bacon (nitrate free)                               1/4 tsp celery salt

1 cup chopped onion                                                       dash of pepper

2 tbsp sugar                                                                      1/2 cup water

1 tbsp gluten-free flour                                                  1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

 

 

Instructions:

Fry bacon until crispy.  Place fried bacon on a plate to drain.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan.  Saute’ onion in reserved bacon drippings until tender.  Add sugar, flour, salt, celery salt, and pepper.  Stir until smooth.  Then, stir in water and vinegar and heat until bubbly.  Boil potatoes in a pot for 4 to 5 minutes.  Don’t over cook.  Drain and gently incorporate into the onion mixture.  Crumble bacon on top and serve warm.