Elements of Fitness – A Mother's Memoir

Overweight Becomes a Lean and Mean Mom of 3

I may not have introduced myself.  Some of you know me, some of you don’t…  some of you I have been friends with for YEARS and some we’ve never met but have only connected online.  I don’t like to post pictures of the kiddos and I’m not all about the selfies as much as others, but you may be able to relate better knowing that I’m a single Mom of 3 and they are my world.  We are just as busy as you and we still make the time to work out.  I keep the kids in sports to make sure they stay busy and aren’t home creating unhealthy habits.  I post a lot about fitness and nutrition but have you ever wondered why I do what I do?

Examples

Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, AZ

Have you ever wondered what exactly I do as a fitness coach?  Have you wondered how I got here?  Have I always been  shape?  (uhhhh no – I haven’t.)  How did a stay at home Mom turn working Mom with a fitness business?

I haven’t always been into fitness.  But I have always been an athlete.  I lived and breathed gymnastics until I was about 14, then I wanted to do team sports for my school (soccer, tennis, volleyball).   I was in shape but working out was not the fun part of my day.   I used to hate running.  I would do it because a lot of sports needed the cardio conditioning but I didn’t like it, and I didn’t eat right, etc.

Before kids, I could eat whatever I wanted just like when I was a teenager and not gain a pound!  But now, that’s not so much the case.  Once I had my first child, Kaitlyn (with whom I gained 64 pounds!), I could not lose that weight.  I tried every diet under the sun, got a gym membership thinking that would help, etc.

Pregnant but still overweight

Pregnant but still overweight

But I didn’t stick with it.  My husband at the time could still eat whatever he wanted and the scale would not be affected so I would gradually go back to eating like he and I always did.  Then 7 months after giving birth we were pregnant again.  It was what we wanted because I always wanted to have my kids close in age and we knew we weren’t done, HOWEVER, I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight first.

With baby #2, I was determined not to gain another 64 lbs!  (BTW, this before pic ——–>      was really hard to post!) I did a little working out while I was pregnant with her and I ate a lot better.  Not good, like I do now but better.  I only gained 24 lbs with Britney.

After she was born was right around the time that low carb diets were the thing.  And I was sold when I read that I didn’t need to work out, I could just eat low carb.  HA!  I dropped all the baby weight and then some!  Then it became that the only time I would work out was when I ate really bad the day before.  So now that I knew I could just eat low carb whenever I had some weight to lose I went back to eating atrociously!  Then I would work out twice a week if that.

Well as the girls were getting older, I decided to start cooking and making more home cooked meals at home.  I was a huge advocate for nursing since formulas were getting so much criticism for their ingredients and I was reading more and more about baby foods and how easy it was to make at home AND this way you knew what was going in to your child’s mouth.

That lead me to start watching and learning about the foods I was eating.  All the crap sold in the supermarket were 90% chemicals!  I started trading in the commercialized grocery stores for farmers markets and Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods wasn’t in Phoenix yet).  I also started buying organic whenever we could afford to.  I started with vegetables that grew in the ground and then meats was next.

After seeing and FEELING the results of just eating right it motivated me to want to get toned and in shape especially since I knew how to eat now!  Food was fuel now, not comfort.

Now comes the year 2007, I was in better shape then I was when I was a teenager, even had more energy then I did then.  We were running, biking, I had a gym membership where I would do spin class 2- 3 times a week, my girls and my ex and I all belonged to a dojo where we were all there at least 3 times a week.  I even taught yoga there for a while for some of the moms that had kids in the karate classes.  In June I found out that I was 4 1/2 months pregnant with Baby # 3, my son Frankie!  He was due in December!   So I had 4 short months to plan to have a baby!  But I didn’t want to stop working out.  I was mostly doing cardio anyways:  running, hiking, rollerblading, spin class, kickboxing and yoga at the dojo.

Frankie was born and I ended up only gaining 22 lbs.  My doctor towards the end was concerned that I hadn’t gained enough weight.

Then I started to want to help other Moms!  My girls started cheer and would have regular practices in a park, their Coach asked me if I would be the squad’s conditioning coach so now I started doing that every Tuesday and Thursday.  Soon after, some of the Moms of the girls recommended I do a fitness bootcamp where they could come work out.  We did and soon more and more moms showed up.  I would get the girls warmed up for cheer and then I would move over to the Moms!  It was fun.  We all created a close bond and I even helped some of them get ready to run their first marathons.

I started a blog, THIS ONE, hence why its name is Mom-related and not fitness related.  🙂  When I first created it, I started talking about tips to help breastfeeding Moms and nutrition was one of the most common posts because the questions were all closely related to the Mom being able to produce enough milk for a growing baby, etc. and then it started connecting me with women who were likeminded all across the country.

2008It was about this time that my neighbor introduced me to P90X.  Frankie was not even 2, Britney was 7 and Kaitlyn was 8 1/2.  My hands were full.  I was in shape but not getting toned.  I was still doing a ton of cardio.  P90X had weights and I knew I had to add that in.  I was always afraid of weights, always thought I would like a man, etc.  I was ready for a change.  I always wanted a personal trainer and now I had my own in MY HOUSE!!  It was amazing.

1st round of P90X

1st round of P90X

 

This was me in Cabo after the 1st round P90X.  I did the lean program and I refused to eat the P90X way.  I thought I knew more about what my body needed than this nutrition ‘guide’ telling me to eat 100 carbs a day!  At that point, I would barely eat 100 carbs in 4 days!!  I thought I had this whole fitness thing down and all I needed was to add weights.  HAHA.  I would be exhausted half way into the workout, or getting really bad headaches right after.  So I knew something was wrong.

 

 

90 days later 2nd Round P90X results

90 days later 2nd Round P90X results

The lack of carbs is why my first round didn’t get me the results I anticipated.   I added a little muscle but nowhere near everyone else’s 90 day results.  This got me so mad!  So then right away, I started the classic program and I ate exactly how it told me to, even bought Shakeology.  I was posting my results pics on Facebook and friends and family were the first to notice.  Then I started helping other people get through their first round of P90X.

After 3 rounds of P90X, I decided to switch it up with Insanity.  I loved Insanity because it was a more intense version of P90X’s cardio days and guess what I started thinking P90X was too EASY!!  On the P90X cardio days, (Tuesdays and Saturdays) I would do the Max Cardio Circuit from Insanity instead of PlyoX.

I started connecting with people on the Facebook P90X message boards and through my blog.  I was helping people get through the programs but not getting paid for it!  And then Tony Horton shared my blog post of How you know You’re Addicted to P90X.

I knew I could help other Moms too… and realize everyone can do this too.   Being a Coach has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.  It got me in the best shape of my life, I have a healthy relationship with food, I have spent more time learning about myself, learning about others, and learning ways to better help YOU.

You do not have to be a fitness expert or nutritionist to be a successful Coach.  All you need is the desire in your heart to help others.  Beachbody is all about helping others.  They provide the tools you need to change your body, the nutrition your body is craving, a Coach who is always there for you… (ME!) and the network of likeminded people that you can connect with on Team Beachbody.

If you are interested on learning more please contact me.   We do a very brief 15-20 min webinar once a week and you will see how it easy it is to do the same thing I do!

Let’s get in touch and work on You together!  What do you have to lose??  You never know, it could be supplemental income for you too OR even become your main source of income!

 

Send me an email:  at CoachChristysElementsofFitness@gmail.com

OR an Instagram:  @FitnessElements4Life

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November 16, 2014 Posted by | About Me, Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Divorce, Eating Clean, Eating Low Carb, Family, Insanity, Me, My Low Carb Recipes, Nursing, Nutrition, P90X, P90X Recipes, P90X2, P90X3, Phoenix AZ, Pregnancy, Products That Work, Shakeology, Women Today, Women's Health, Working Moms | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tired of Eggs for Breakfast?

I love eggs for breakfast… but there’s mornings where I don’t have enough time and just want to grab something fast.

These are healthy, delicious and simple to make.  I made a batch this morning and I wish you could taste them!   Oh wait-  YOU CAN!   Here you go:

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oat flour (can be made by grinding whole oats in a blender or food processor)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 medium banana (mashed)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted walnuts or almonds (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a non-stick cookie sheet with zero-calorie cooking spray (i.e. Pam).  Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and fold mixture together until well combined (**important to mix by hand and not in a blender**).  Scoop batter onto cookie sheet into ¼” balls.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Dinners Kids Devour, Eating Clean, Eating Low Carb, Family Friendly Restaurants, Low Fat Recipes, My Low Carb Recipes, Nutrition, P90X Recipes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clean Eating – Parmesan Crusted Chicken

You’re not going to believe how easy this is to make and how GOOOOOD it turns out until you make it – and it’s HEALTHY!   The chicken comes out so tender and juicy!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken:

  • 3/4 cup grated and/or shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix the first 5 ingredients and then spread mixture over chicken on both sides.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes

parmesan crusted chicken

January 13, 2014 Posted by | Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Dinners Kids Devour, Discipline, Eating Clean, Eating Low Carb, Exercise, My Low Carb Recipes, Nutrition, P90X Recipes, P90X2, P90X3, Products That Work, Women's Health, Working Moms | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some of My Favorite Clean Eating Recipes

Kids in the fallBeing a Mom in the fitness and nutrition industry, the 2 most common questions I get asked are to share my recipes and “what diet should I be on?”.   A very close third is “how many grams of protein should I eat?”. 

I’ve already given my theory on ‘diets’ and what people should choose based on their lifestyle.  So I’ve decided to compile a few recipes that my kids love (and request often) that are also high in protein. 

So, what better time to share recipes then this time of year!  We live in Arizona, so the summer I am usually not found slaving away over a stove!   It’s finally starting to cool off which means also means more baking and cooking.  Our summers here in Arizona are not good for baking and slaving over a stove.  So, when fall arrives, thats when I start cooking!

No matter what your fitness goals are, eating a high protein diet will help you burn fat and lose weight.   When most people think of high protein diets,  they also equate that with lacking carbs.   While I tend to scale back on the carbs after 2-3pm, I don’t make my kids do the same.  

We do good carbs.  Carbs from vegetables or brown rice.  P.S.  I have gotten my kiddos to eat brown rice just by throwing in black beans or kidney beans with some cilantro (find that recipe here under Spice Up Your Rice).

lean proteinThe best sources for protein are typically lean meats, but surprisingly they also include plant sources such as tofu, beans, nuts and quinoa.  For animal protein sources I always suggest chicken breast, lean fish such as Tuna, ‘fatty’ Omega-3 fish such as salmon, egg whites, turkey, skim dairy products, shrimp, veal or lean cuts of pork.  Depending on your dietary preferences you might decide to eat only a few of these options, but all will provide you with healthy servings of protein!  

However, not all sources of protein are equal. Here’s a list from the United States Department of Agriculture describing the differences in amounts for some of the foods listed above.

Protein Source

Grams of Protein

1 ounce meat, fish, poultry

7

1 large egg

6

4 ounces milk

4

4 ounces low-fat yogurt

6

4 ounces soy milk

5

3 ounces tofu, firm

13

1 ounce cheese

7

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

14

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans

7

1/2 cup lentils

9

1 ounce nuts

7

2 tablespoons peanut butter

8

1/2 cup vegetables

2

1 slice bread

2

1/2 cup of most grains/pastas

2

Here are a few healthy, high protein, lowfat chicken recipes:

Chicken Dijon

Chicken Dijon

 Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 six-ounce chicken breasts

Preparation:

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place a rack on top and spray with cooking spray.

-Combine honey, mustard, oil, curry powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Brush chicken pieces all over with the honey mustard mixture, then place chicken breasts on the rack.

-Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning half way through. Baste every 10 minutes or so with the remaining honey mustard glaze.

Per serving: Calories 268, Total Fat  approx 5.9g Carbohydrate 21g,  Protein 32.9g

 

Basil Chicken

Ingredients: 

  • 4 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ounce basil, slivered
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes

Preparation:

Basil Chicken-Preheat broiler and spray pan with cooking spray and place chicken breats on broiler pan

-Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic together

-Brush half of vinaigrette on to chicken breasts, and sprinkle half the slivered basil on top of chicken.

-Broil 5-6 minutes, then turn over. Brush second side with remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle remaining basil.

-Add tomatoes to broiler pan, surrounding chicken.

-Broil for 5-6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serving: Calories 198, Total Fat 5.4g, Carbohydrate 4g, Protein 33.5g 

 

Chicken & Wild Rice

CHicken and RiceIngredients: 

  • (4) 5-6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped (1/2 a six-ounce bag)

Preparation:

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Place chicken breasts in a single layer in baking dish that can accommodate the chicken in one layer.

-Combine uncooked rice, chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic and oregano in a medium bowl. Stir in chopped spinach. Spoon mixture over chicken. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35-40-minutes, until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.

Serves 4.

Per Serving: Calories 372, Total Fat 2.5g, Carbohydrate 48.3g, Protein 38.9g

 

Here are some High Protein Vegetarian Recipes

 

Mexican Vegetarian Casserole

mexican casseroleIngredients: 

  • 2 cups chopped onion, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red pepper, fresh or frozen
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 15.8 ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar blend cheese shredded
  • 3 tomatoes chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives and/or chives (optional)

Preparation:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Combine onion pepper, garlic, salsa, cumin and black beans in a large skillet and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.

-Arrange 6 tortillas in bottom of 9″ x 13″ baking dish overlapping them as necessary. -Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering process with remaining tortillas, bean mixture and cheese.

-Cover dish with foil and bake 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and serve warm.

-Garnish with tomatoes, sour cream, olives and chives.

Nutritional Information per Serving excluding the optional ingredients: (*you can save the calories by using less cheese*)
Calories: 605*,  Fat: 11.5g, Protein: 35g

 

Easy Whole Wheat Vegetarian Lasagna

wholewheatlasagnaIngredients: 

  • 1 8 ounce package whole wheat lasagne noodles, cooked slightly (al dente)
  • 1 9 ounce package frozen raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 3 cups pre-made or store-bought pasta sauce
  • 3 cups grated low-moisture part skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

-In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs; add cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Spray a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

-Put one layer of slightly cooked lasagna noodles flat across the bottom of the baking dish. Add 1/2 the leaf spinach, pressing down lightly and evenly over noodles. Top with another layer of lasagna noodles. Top this layer of noodles with the cottage cheese mixture; add the remaining spinach. Then add the last of the lasagna noodles laid evenly on top of spinach. Spread pasta sauce evenly over the top; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Press down lightly.

-Cover baking dish with foil, using foil sprayed with cooking spray and keeping foil off the center of the lasagna. Secure sides tightly over baking dish.

-Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes in oven. To lightly brown the top, remove foil for a few minutes at the end of baking time.

-Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: Provides 10 servings

Nutrition Per Serving:  Calories: 373, Protein: 33g,  Carbohydrates:  33, 12 g fat

 

Try some of these recipes yourself and tell me what you and YOUR family thinks!  And please share with your friends anf family!

 

Macro Nutrients are approximate based on the brand you choose and how you choose to measure ingredients.

 

September 27, 2013 Posted by | About Me, Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Dinners Kids Devour, Eating Clean, Eating Low Carb, Low Fat Recipes, My Low Carb Recipes, Nutrition, P90X Recipes, Working Moms | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Protein Banana Pancakes

My kiddos call these Mommy’s Banana cakes but what they dont know is they are getting a huge amounts of protein, fruit and fiber!

Protein Banana Pancakesbanana cakes

(Makes 2 servings, 3 pancakes each)

1 scoop protein powder

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 dash sea salt

2 large eggs

1 small ripe banana, mashed

2 TBL unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp safflower oil

sliced bananas and/or assorted berries for garnish (or yours or your kids favorite fruits)

Mix protein powder, oats, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.   In a separate bowl, beat eggs, and stir in mashed bananas and almond milk. 

Mix in the oats and stir well.

Heat half the tsp of oil into skillet over med heat.  Pour 1/4 of the batter for each pancake.  You should be able to fit 2 or 3 at once.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbles form on top and then flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove from skillet if cooked through and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, and the remaining batter and repeat.

Serve with garnish of your choice.   Now prepare for your kids to ask for these every morning.   And you can make a lot more and just freeze them and then warm them up in the toaster oven.

Nutritional Information (per serving):   Calories: 315   Protein:  20g  Fat:  10g  Carbs:  39g

***** You can also substitute the protein powder with Chocolate Shakeology.  Order Some Today! *****

For more recipe ideas click here.

Enjoy!  🙂  And let me know how yours turn out!

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Eating Clean, Family, Low Fat Recipes, Nutrition, P90X Recipes, Products That Work, Shakeology, Working Moms | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lean, Clean and Mean Delicious Chili

When you’re trying to get lean and ripped, making dinner for a family of 5 can be a little tricky since they’re not inclined to eat chicken, brown rice and veggies 5 days a week!  And while I don’t normally solicit ideas from the children (at least not until they’re paying), I do like it when they enjoy the food I put on the table for them.  I am notorious for sneaking stuff into meals for them that I know they wouldn’t eat otherwise. 

As you read in my last post, I have added a bit more carbs to my day now (about 75) since I’m doing P90x.  And I try to eat most of them by 6pm.  It’s essential to have the energy during the day especially because I’ve been adding 2 or 3 mile runs before the resistance workouts.  So, here’s a fantastic recipe that the whole family will love, not to mention, it’s filled with vitamins and nutrients!  Give it a try and I guarantee it will be a staple in your house.  It’s also great because this recipe makes a lot and its very filling so there’s plenty of leftovers for when the kids get home from school the next day!

Mom’s Lean, Clean and Mean (Yummy) Chili

•  1.5 – 2lbs lean ground turkey
•  1 large red pepper diced
•  5-6 jalapeno peppers diced (adjust based on your desired “hotness”)
•  2 onions diced (I usually buy 1 white and 1 yellow)
•  2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•  1 large can crushed tomatoes and sometimes I’ll add 1/2 of another too 
•  1 can of organic kidney beans and 1 can organic black beans
•  half a bag of frozen chopped spinach (I don’t always do this) 
•  1 or 2 tbsp of chili powder
•  1 or 2 tsp of cumin
•  1 or 2 tbsp of crushed garlic
•  1/2 cup oat bran 
•  fresh chopped cilantro
•  1 ripe avocado (for use as a topping after chili is cooked)
•  shredded cheddar (for topping after cooked)

Use a large pot and brown the turkey.   Then just throw in all the remaining ingredients except the toppings as you get them ready.  Once it’s all together and cooking in the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Top each bowl with freshly diced ripe avocado and sprinkle with the cheese.  It doesn’t even need sour cream (plus, you may even choose not to sprinkle the cheese either!)

There’s a lot of ingredients such as the black beans, oat bran, spinach and avocado that add a lot of nutritional value such as protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Nutritional Breakdown:          35 g. protein, 45 g. carbs, 8 g. fiber, 14 g. fat (all healthy fat), 430 calories

Enjoy!  …. and let me know what you think.  I love the feedback.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Being a Mom, Children, Cooking, Diet and Exercise, Dinners Kids Devour, Nutrition, Organic, P90X, Women's Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Aloha! Take Advantage of the Recession Deals

I haven’t written in a while but now we’re finally back from Hawaii and I’m not sad at all!  We were there for 6 days with all 3 kids and Frank and I were both happy to come home.  It was fun taking the whole family but also completely exhausting!  Now if we were there just the two of us I’m sure it would’ve been a different story having to leave.

Hawaii

Waimea FallsPolynesian Cultural Center

 

 

 

 

We stayed in Waikiki and this was our first trip to Hawaii for all of us.  It was absolutely beautiful and we did a lot in 6 days. 

We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Sunset (ResortQuest) only because it was the best deal for a one bedroom suite.  We wanted to stay at the Hilton Village because that’s where everyone told us to go but their price for a 1 bedroom suite per night was the grand total we spent at the Aston (which needless to say is why I booked it!).  But then when we got to the hotel we very quickly realized why the price was so appealing.  The place was in desperate need of remodeling.  Thankfully, we were only there to sleep so it served it’s purpose.   However, we will never stay there again.

The next day we had to make our way over to Hilton Village to board the Atlantis submarine and Frank said “Oooh I wish we would’ve stayed here” until, of course, I reminded him of the money we were saving by not staying there.   🙂

The first day we were there we went to the beach which was 4 blocks from our hotel and then we went back to the room and us girls got all dolled up for the luau. 

Moana Surfrider

We all got ready early so I suggested we walk down to the Moana Surfrider hotel to get “The Best Mai Tai In Town” per The Today Show.  It was very strong and not very sweet.  But Frank was very happy with it.

 

Then we missed our bus to the Paradise Cove Luau in Ko’olina so we had to drive ourselves.  But that worked out and we didn’t end up missing much:  just the pig roasting which I’m glad the girls didn’t see anyways otherwise they’d probably want to be vegetarians by now!

The following day we headed up to the North Shore and I told everyone we’d just take a drive and see the sights so the baby could take a nap.  No one knew I secretly packed our swimsuits and towels!  Not sure how they all missed the big bulky beach bag but it was a great surprise!  This is also where I got my crazy sunburn (hence the reason there’s no picture here).  I thought my oversized sunglasses covered more of my forehead so I ended up getting burned and looking really strange.  I also thought the one finger spread of sunscreen across my forehead would keep me covered so that’s why the name ‘stripes’ was so fitting for Frank to call me the next couple of days.  

waimea falls.jpgThen we went to Waimea Falls Park and it was breathtaking especially because I didn’t know Oahu had any waterfalls so not expecting to see any and then seeing this was awesome.

They told us they do a lot of weddings there and after the 25 minute walk through the park we know why.

 

The next day we did a dinner cruise and the kids really loved the entertainment on board.  There were hula dancers, a Hawaiian singer and a little magic show.  We also did the Polynesian Cultural Center but we weren’t very impressed with it.   That could also be due to how hot and humid it was though. 

IMG_7752The real highlight of the trip for Frank and I was the snorkelling at Hanauma Bay.  What a beautiful place to snorkel.  As you all know we had planned to do our first dive on this trip after getting PADI certified but we had a problem bringing the baby on the boat so we didn’t do it.   This was still a great experience though and no regrets about not scuba diving.

We were able to take all the kids on this trip to Hawaii because of all the spectacular deals there are online.  The islands are really hurting right now because of the recession so if you can afford to take advantage of the deals US Airways is offering I suggest you do it while there’s still time.  Also, check out www.sidestep.com.  They have some great deals and are generally about 15% lower than priceline and all the others.  For those of you who made a face when I said US Airways, yes I know, we feel the same way about them.  But are you more loyal to an airline or your own wallet? 

All and all it was a great trip and we’re glad we shared it with the kids.  Next time we’ll do Maui or Kauai and we’ll just hang out on a resort and never leave.

Mahalo and Aloha!

July 31, 2009 Posted by | Children, Family Friendly Hotels, Family Friendly Restaurants, Family Night, The Critic, Things To Do, Traveling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discipline and Co-parenting

Disciplining children can be hard enough as it is in a traditional family.  But add divorce, joint custody and getting remarried to the equation and it makes it even more difficult.

The girl’s father was very lazy, nothing bothered him and it took pulling teeth and ultimatums to get him to lift a finger.  Now I’m in a relationship that is quite the opposite:  Frank does things way before I even need to ask.  The problem with this type of personality though is that he is ‘Johnny on the Spot’ when it comes to my girls and the proper discipline.

I’m from the school that no one disciplines your children except their own parents (unless of course they’re staying at someone else’s home and the parents aren’t around). 

disciplineFrank is from the school that anyone can and should take matters into their own hands.  [I don’t mean literally.  Neither one of us has never laid a hand on any of the kids.]

For example, this just happened the other day, Frank and I stayed up way later than we normally do watching movies and then the following morning Frankie woke up and we didn’t hear him cry.  Kaitlyn’s room is right next to his so she went in his room, took him out of his crib and brought the baby into her room to play with the idea that she was helping us out. 

Me, being the lover of all things sleep, loved this.  I’ve allowed her to do this in the past, either by me asking her to go get him or vice versa so I’ve seen her take him out of the crib many times and she’s never had a problem.  Plus, if she had a hard time taking him out and accidentally hurt his legs or something he would not hesitate to cry.  But that scenario has never happened.

So I wake up with Frank walking into our room with the baby and he said “Did you know Kaitlyn takes the baby out of the crib?”  I said yes and thought that would be the end of it.  He then says “I don’t want her taking him out of the crib unless she asks us first and we say its ok”.  To which I replied ok and went back to sleep.

The next day as we’re all sitting around the table having lunch and Kaitlyn tells Frank something funny that happened that morning and Frank asked if she got the baby out of the crib.  Her and I both said yes.  He got pretty upset and said he didn’t want her to do it anymore.  I told him I recalled that he didn’t want her to do it without getting permission first.  He then said no, he doesn’t want her doing it at all.  He explained that he doesn’t feel she’s strong enough and didn’t think it was a good idea.  Then I got upset that he was doing this in front of the children and not allowing me a say in this.  I explained that if the baby was getting hurt he would cry as she was pulling him out of the crib, etc.

The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that he and I (like all parents) are supposed to be a united front.  So we can’t argue about it in front of the children.  But at the same time, pressing issues need to be dealt with immediately so the kids understand the consequences of their actions right away.

The other reason this hit home a little too much is because just a couple weeks ago, the girl’s father told me that the girls tell him that I do ‘whatever Frank says’.  This absolutely boggled my mind, first, because supposedly it came from the girls and second, I do not do as I’m told.  I never have.  So this was a complete shocker.  Now I know that my ex loves to say stuff to get under my skin and he never has a nice thing to say about Frank but the thing that cut to the core of me was wondering if that was really the girl’s perception of me?  Now I know they’re only 7 and 6 but still.  He also told me that the girls tell him that I make Frank his dinner and his drinks.  I told my ex that this is coming from our children and that I make dinner and get drinks for everyone.  I also added that I used to make dinner and drinks for him and I too when we were together.  It was then that he realized what I was saying (or at least pretended to).

So after this heated moment at the dinner table all of these thoughts started running through my mind.  And all I kept wondering was what the girls were thinking.  So since Frank raised his voice I decided to raise mine.  I told him “I did not appreciate him talking to me that way, especially in front of the children and I wanted an apology.”  He started to apologize right then but I said I wasn’t done yet.  I then said “if you have a problem with how I do things around here talk to me about it behind closed doors where we can resolve it between the two of us.”  He told me (in front of the children) that I was right and that he was sorry… and then everyone was silent for the next few minutes.

Now this isn’t, of course, the least or worst of examples.  It was just the most recent.  We’ve always had this problem about discipline.  He thinks I’m not consistent enough and I think he’s too harsh.  We’ve been to plenty of parenting classes due to horrendous allegations by my ex where we learned that you have to tell a child 2000 times each behavior you’re trying to correct. 

Last month, my youngest daughter got all her toys taken away by Frank because he’s had to tell her too many times to pick up her toys after she’s done playing with them.  And he did this when I wasn’t home.  Now I understand that there should have been some form of consequence but I thought taking away all her toys was way over the top.  I also don’t think that he, being the soon-to-be-Stepdad, should be the disciplinarian.  And many counselors and other people in the field we’ve spoken to agree with me on that.

But he disagrees.  He doesn’t believe he should’ve waited til I got home to let me handle it.

Anyways, the point of me sharing this is to try and figure out if I’m alone in this.  I can’t be.  But does every blended family household go through this?  Or anything remotely similar?  Did anyone grow up in a broken home?  What were your experiences?  How would you have handled either scenario differently?

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Being a Mom, Children, Discipline, Divorce, Family | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PADI Certified?

Call me crazy… but why are people paying for this certification?  What is stopping people from buying their own scuba gear, reading “Scuba Diving for Dummies” and then going off to dive into any ocean they want?  Is there some sort of scuba police that I don’t know about where they’re waiting to ask for your PADI ID?!

Don’t get the wrong idea here, the money isn’t the problem – its’ the time.  Frank and I and the kids are going to Hawaii in the next month and Frank wanted to get certified before we went.  To me it seemed like a logical thing to do until our ‘scuba instructor’ told me yesterday that Frank and I have to watch a DVD, read a 150 page book, answer the 5 chapter tests, get acquainted with our RDP contraption, and meet him on Friday for an orientation meeting!  What the heck!  All I want to do is breathe under water!  Does it really take all this to get that accomplished?? 

Frank and I have been scuba diving before.  Well let me rephrase:  I’ve been scuba diving before.   A couple years ago we went to Cabo San Lucas (ahhh) and we added scuba diving to our itinerary online while we were booking the trip.  When we got to the hotel who was sponsoring this adventure the instructor gave us our gear, told us there was a 15 minute instuctional video and when we were done to meet him on the pier at the boat!

This scared the heck out of Frank because he’s not the best of swimmers coming out of upstate New York and all.  He was expecting a class at the hotel pool.

I wasn’t scared yet.  I had never been scuba diving before but I had been snorkelling in Catalina Island before.  So since there was no formal training being given here I just thought this was going to be easier than I ever imagined.

caboWe got all our gear on, met our instructor at what looked like a fishing boat, drove out to the picturesque rock formation that is on every postcard from Cabo and then we threw the anchor.

 

The instructor who could barely speak english reminded us to swallow every foot to a foot and a half and to wave to him if there was a problem.  Frank and I initially had problems starting because we weren’t used to breathing through a straw.  This was it for Frank.  He was freaked out.  He climbed back up into the boat and told me to go ahead.  It took me a while to get the hang of it but eventually I did and went down.  I loved it.  I saw a family of seahorses nestled into the ocean wall and I had this fish follow me for most of the whole experience.  It was a pretty euphoric feeling.

A little scary at first but well worth the anxiety.  I’m a little nervous right now about doing this in Hawaii but mostly because we’re taking the kids with us.  So we’ll see how it goes.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Children, Family, Traveling | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

To My Dad for Father’s Day

Every year at this time, I always want to get my Dad something better than the year before.  It’s so hard to buy anything for someone who is so distinguished.  He has everything already.  What could I possibly get him that he really wants and doesn’t already have?   Well, Dad I am about to try…

Dear Dad,

I love you more than words can say.  You have always been the world to me.  When I was little and would put my hands in yours I trusted you to show me the way.  And never wavering, you always would.  All my life you were there whenever I needed you.   You are a wonderful teacher with the utmost patience and you possess a kind-hearted spirit that makes me strive to be more like you every day. 

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful Dad in you.  Too many people I have met throughout the years either lost their father at a young age or worse, never even met their father.  I couldn’t imagine either one or anything in between.  You have been such an inspiration to me. 

You taught me right from wrong, good and evil, how important it is to believe in God and most of all to cherish life and all it has to offer.  All the while instilling in me so many life lessons.  You told me early on that “priority #1 is always Numero Uno” – that health is the most important thing because if you don’t have your health you will experience nothing.  You taught me as a teenager that “life isn’t always fair” and the soonest I believe that the less disappointments I would feel. 

You’ve always had a way of bringing the most mundane of things to life.  A boring drive would turn into fun and excitement.  We would guess what the people in cars in front of us looked like just by their bumper stickers, license plates or where they bought their car.  Or teaching me about how a car engine works by drawing a diagram and showing pistons, rods, the crank shaft and side block. 

I remember when we went up north to find a Christmas tree and we made a day of it.  We stopped and played in the snow, made snowmen and snow angels and had snowball fights.  We picked the most beautiful tree we could find and then lost it on I-17 just 30 minutes before we got home.  It was one of the best days ever!  We laughed so hard and then on the way home we picked up a tree on a street corner a minute away from our house!  

I remember spontaneous road trips like when you drove us up to the top of the Four Peaks and we actually drove through the clouds. 

The Four Peaks

I remember telling my friends that and them thinking you had magical powers.  And I would tell them that I really thought you did have magic powers because who can drive through clouds?

 I remember all the bike rides where we would ride and talk.  Then, we’d come home and jump in the pool because we were so hot!   Oh and lets not forget my sweet 16 birthday.  It was time to drive but first you had me change a tire.   You didn’t lift a finger – you only gave instructions.  

Dad and the girls

These days it seems we don’t have enough time to be with each other like we used to.  When we do, I get to see you in your role as Grandpa.  It’s there where I get to relive your goofiness and marvel in all the things I loved about you when I was a kid.   I see the kids light up when you play with them and it brings me such joy inside. 

You are not just a wonderful father.  You are a wonderful son, husband, grandfather, a friend to many, an inspiration to all that know you and a blessing to all that share your love. 

Thank you for being you!  Happy Father’s Day!

Love Always,
“Peanuts”

(no, no one else is allowed to call me that… besides Mom and thankfully she never does!)

— The song above is mine and my Dad’s favorite father-daughter song. —
                                                       Enjoy!

June 19, 2009 Posted by | About Me, Being a Mom, Children, Family, Me | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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