28 July 2014

I Grieve, Therefore I Write

I was saddened to discover some terrible news Saturday morning.  Driving home from VA as fast as I could, half the time I was blinded by my own tears.  I rolled the windows down, wanting to feel the wind.  I felt like this was the only way I wouldn't asphyxiate on the sadness thickening the air within my truck.  I had to explain to my 11-year-old why I was crying.  My only thought was that I needed to get to Big D.  I needed to be there for him.

We lost a really good Marine and friend the other night.

It sounds so unreal, to read that sentence and know that it is true.  I won't wake up tomorrow and hear differently.  This is not a bad dream (though it feels like a nightmare).  That hole in my heart will still be there.  I will still look into the faces of his fellow Marines and brothers, and know they have been changed forever.

Death is permanent, and in this case, terrifyingly permanent.  There are no take-backs here.  No rewinding the clock.  Though we all wish we could go back in time to a moment that may have been pivotal in turning this around.

He was very much loved, as he loved those in our tight-knit group of friends.  They were all brothers.  They fought and disagreed, joked around and teased.  They saw each other every day at work, spent time in the gym together.  They trained and deployed together.  They were as close to family as it gets in this lifestyle.  He was a big part of that.

To think about all of the lives he has touched, how we all loved him, it saddens me.  I think about how this affects all of them.  How Big D made the calls and broke the news to the pack.  How his sister bore the burden of telling her family the heart-breaking news.  How parents should not have to bury their own kids.

There are moments where I feel numb.

Then I remember something about him.  I see a picture posted on Facebook and there is a pain in my chest that makes me take a breath.  I hurt because they hurt.  I hurt because he is gone.  I hurt because he had so much more life to live.  With us.

There won't be any new memories made with him.  He won't celebrate life with us.  He won't attend any of our kids' birthday parties.  He won't be around to eat cake pops and jokingly complain about how the kids once stained his carpet with the red velvet ones.  We won't hear him laugh anymore, or exchange banter with the guys.  He won't tell me I'm making him fat with desserts and such.  We won't see him with his girlfriend and a lifetime ahead of them.  Smiling.  Happy. 

Was he happy underneath it all?

Will he ever know how much he is loved?  How much he is missed?  How badly everyone is hurting?  Can he hear our thoughts?  Prayers?  Is he watching over us?  Will we see him again?

The pack is hurting, but in all of this I think they realized one thing if they didn't realize this before: brotherly love runs deep.  The pain of seeing a grown man hurting is unbearable.  They have had their fair share of grieving for the fallen during combat, but nothing ever came this close.  It was imperative to round them up on Saturday evening so that they could grieve together in the only manner acceptable: to drink in his honor and share the stories they had of him.

Later that night, they were out there on the porch, laughing and telling funny stories about their brother.  Reminiscing.  Keeping his memory alive.  Tears were choked back, cries were silenced, merely escaping under their breath.  They lamented his absence, troubled in heart, but kept at it.

If they could bring him back to life that way, they damn sure tried.
Man's best friend

I would like to think that you are up in heaven watching over us, feeling the love and finally at peace.  

You are missed and loved beyond measure.  

Rest easy, Matty.     

 
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21 July 2014

Got Hunger?

Week #2

Not too far into my journey, but I'm feeling some changes.  An obvious one would be the soreness.  I hurt all over, every day.  This is all good!  Pain equals gain equals progress.

Another would be the hunger.  I am always hungry.  I eat so much!  Trying to eat the right things can be difficult, too.  Especially when I need so much of it.  I have an ectomorphic body type.  Basically, this means I have a hard time gaining weight, I'm naturally skinny without having to do a thing, and I have a hard time putting on muscle.

The frustrating thing about it is that I have such a high metabolism that I am left feeling hungry all the time.  Literally a half hour after a meal, I feel like my stomach is empty.  

Healthy snacks are key.  I like to keep nuts on hand, raisins (though I don't like them), granola, and peanut butter.  There are other things too, like fresh fruits and veggies.  I also like to have smoothies with plain Greek yogurt, fruit, select veggies, a little honey for taste, chia seeds, and sometimes I add a little ginger. 

Diet is crucial.  I'm still learning as I go, tweaking things here and there.  I can go HAM in the gym all day every day, but what I put into my body to fuel it is equally if not more important.  
Source
And by diet, I don't mean actively excluding these certain foods and limiting these, solely in an attempt to lose weight.  What I mean is the foods that I eat on a normal daily basis.  Read the nutrition facts.  Before you start any type of diet plan or make any sudden movements, seek expert advice.  Talk to someone who knows way more than me.  My feelings won't be hurt. ;-)  

I attended a nutrition class a couple of years ago.  Read this post to see what notes I took from the class. 

Here is one WOD (Workout of the Day) that I tried twice in the last week.  Maybe it should be WOW?  Anyway, when the weather suits me, I do this workout outside.  I love to throw the kettlebell down when I get done from a set.  No gentleness here!

Kettlebell Workout
Kettlebell swings 
Floor press
High pull
Russian twist
Sumo high pull
Push ups
Side Sprint
(I used this kettlebell workout link and made some variations. Each exercise is explained.)
I did 10 reps in each set.  I only made it through 3 sets.  Ugh.  I am so weak!  But the important part is that I got out and did it.  

Don't forget to follow along on Instagram!  I'm ridiculous on there.

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20 July 2014

To Be A Better Me

My feet hurt, by arms and legs are sore, and stretching my body is a heavenly feeling these days.  What have I gotten myself into?

Let's back this story up a few years back to when I was fresh out of my freshman year of college.  I decided to join the Coast Guard.  Bootcamp was a terrifying thought.  I was never a runner, had practically no upper body strength...I was out of shape. So what I did was train my butt off for it.  It helped.  Bootcamp helped even more.  I saw abs by the end of those 8 grueling weeks!

Fast forward to 2 years ago, around this time.  I remember my mom taking pictures of us in the pool at a hotel we stayed at.  Looking back, I was in pretty awesome shape!  And quite proud, I might admit.

Today, I want that body back.  Why?  Because I can finally call it my body.  I'm no longer breastfeeding, or planning on getting knocked up (ever).  I'm cleared for working out.  I claimed my body back.  It is all mine.

This 32-year-old body is going to be turned into a well-oiled lean mean training machine.  Sounds ridiculous, I've been stalking people's Instagram accounts and having fun with those hashtags.  (Don't mind me)  These people have me on some ridiculous second-hand workout high.  I've got the fever!
Source

I realize I won't have the body I had back then.  Do you want to know why?

I plan on being better than that!

I am ready to make things happen.  Fitness is like a drug.  I remember watching my body change, gaining muscle, getting stronger.  It was encouraging and motivating to push myself a little harder each day, and see that I could go a little heavier, a little longer.  It is addicting. 

I will never have pushed this hard.  Trained this hard.  Cried this hard.  Motivated myself, and given my all in the gym or wherever I go.  It'll be a struggle, yet one that I won't regret.

Why am I telling you?

I want my readers to know that I have embarked on one of the most beneficial journeys in my life.  I'm all about this journey to a better stronger me.  I have not given up on my other loves, (cooking, crafting).  They have had their turn on my blog, and you may see those posts here and there.  It's time for a new chapter and I'd love it if you might join me in becoming a better stronger you, or simply by leaving some encouraging words when the going just really sucks over here. ;-)

I post a lot on Instagram, which you can find me over there on the right near the top.

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18 July 2014

List It Friday: Galavanting In Hampton Roads, VA

It seems like the time I spent in Virginia was so long ago.  Only it was just last week.  I love visiting my best friend, Bernice.  We had so much fun!  

I'd like to think the kids did too.  Every day we were there, Bernice and I tried to incorporate something fun for them to do.

There's no surprise that the Hampton Roads area actually has some decent entertainment for a) very cheap or b) free.  What we did in one week was just a tiny bucket list of options available.  This area is pretty awesome for families.

In honor of my List It Friday series, I thought it would be fun to recap my week in Virginia with a list of things I learned.
 

Children's museums become more and more fun the older the kids get.  We visited the Children's Museum in Portsmouth.  I have an annual membership to a musuem at home, which allows us to go to other participating museums for a fairly cheap.  (We paid for 1 child)
We take pictures here whenever we visit this museum.  It's a fun way to see how much the kids have grown, buy how high they can reach on that big purple chair.



Being the smallest thing in the room was not the change in perspective I needed on life.  But it sure was different.

L loves trains!  I'm starting to get the sense that it is programmed into the very fibers of little boys to love anything on wheels.  I've never seen any of my girls play with cars and trucks and trains the way he does.  Christmas shopping should be easier.

Traveling spice kits do exist.  Isn't this the cutest idea for a gift?  Bernice showed this to me.  Great idea for a gourmet chef on a camping trip, no?



























When a pitbull wants to cuddle, you do it.  She is the sweetest and tiniest pitbull I have ever met.  And she was so good with the kids.  A terrible running partner though. ;-)


Cherry Coke Zero and Sailor Jerry is quite the marriage in flavor.  Not a big drinker these days, but I do like to taste different drinks.  Thanks to Bernice, she concocted 3 new drinks (to my taste buds anyway) and I had the pleasure of sharing these and some much needed adult time with her.  Not all on the same night, of course.   
Do you have a favorite go-to drink?

Visiting the Hampton Roads area makes me miss being in the Coast Guard something fierce.  Visiting a place that brings back so many memories is like digging through a box of old photos of your ex. Getting out of the military is really like a bad break-up.  
 


Taco night isn't legit until you have all of the "fixins."
The struggle is real!  I love my tacos stuffed with veggies and topped with condiments.  But I hardly have time to cut and prep.  Not anymore.  It's so simple and easy to do.  No more excuses.  We shall have all the "fixins!"

What is your favorite topping? 


 
"Under The Dome" was not something I thought I would enjoy watching.  I watched a trailer for it last year and thought "This is going to be dumb."  Then Bernice and I decided to watch it together.  My thoughts:  I'm pretty sure Mike Vogel was not part of that trailer. :-) 
Hellooooooooo Nurse Barbie!



Sushi coma does exist.  Very rarely do I go out and get sushi.  There is a sushi place dangerously close to my house.  I suppose if I ate out more often, I might make it a habitIt's nice to have the space between each coma though.  Makes for a nice treat to indulge in, and a perfect way to pass out afterwards. 

Do you like sushi?



I still maintain a fear of sticking my hand into holes containing unknown objects.  There were these wooden boxes with holes cut into them, very much like the one above, at the zoo back where I'm from.  I absolutely hated sticking my hand into them.  Of course my imagination would run off a cliff and I'd stand there frozen, unable to do it.  I think I remember touching a snake skin, a turtle shell, and maybe a conch?  Something pointy.  Anyway, I had to do some serious pep talk in order to be a boss about this whole situation.  I mean, they wouldn't really put a live scorpion or 1000 razors inside, would they?


Dill lip balm shouldn't exist.   I couldn't imagine rubbing a dill pickle on my lips.  This is something straight out of Harry Potter jelly beans.


Salvation Army only employs the most extremely nice people.
It's always a pleasurable experience when we go treasure-hunting.



School is worse than a 9-5 job, but necessary evil for getting that 9-5 job. It is a vicious cycle that Bernice knows all too well.  She faces the grind week after week, working her tail off in Grad school (So proud of her!)  I'm pretty sure she's getting dizzy going round and round, taking some punches and returning the blows.  School work that is.  And by blows I mean getting ish done.  I'll be there this fall, Bernice.  We can cry together.


I am not a very good eagle once I've stayed up and hooted with the owls.  There is no denying my awesomeness at being a morning person.  I pop up out of bed like toast with an agenda in mind.  (Most of the time)  I can't be the eagle I need to be when the owl (Bernice) was ensuring I was properly hydrated entertained.

"Why hoot with the owls when you can soar with the eagles?"

I think that's how the saying goes...  Can I get a life line, Bernice?





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12 July 2014

More Kettlebell!

Source, edited
Kettlebells, I despise you!

That's more like a half truth.  The workout was challenging.  I cursed a bit.  But tomorrow I will be glad that I did it.

I think the heat got to me too.  Working out in the sun is something I don't enjoy.  Unless I am running on the beach.

That is where I'd really like to be right now.  The beach!

It requires a swim suit, since I'm not going to just sit in the sand and roast like a chicken.  Wearing a swimsuit means being comfortable in my own skin.

Aaaaaaaand...that is something I am currently not.

I'm still wearing my hibernating bear body.  What I need is a rocking beach body.

But I like the hibernating bear better!

Making the decision to get back into shape and sticking to it is tough.  It's my health though.  Wish I had more like-minded friends here in the area.  A gym partner or two would be nice to help me stay motivated.  Maybe I can look on Craig's List..........

I'll get there eventually, even if it's a solo ride.


Here is the WOD that I did.  One round of each, and there's only one that I did not do.  I used today's workout to get familiar with these exercises.  Otherwise, I'd pick 5 exercises and complete 5 rounds of each with sprints in between each round.

I asked Big D for full demonstrations of these exercises.  Youtube is a really great resource too if you're going at it alone.

Happy kettlebelling!


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11 July 2014

Spaghetti Asparagus Carbonara For Busy Days

We had such a busy day the other day.  Wonderfully busy.  I'm still on a vacation in Virginia.  Can I say that, or should I say a "mini-vacation" since I'm not really on a vacation but visiting a friend?  I mean, I'm still fulfilling my responsibilities: bathing children, cooking, cleaning, and going to bed fairly early (for the most part) and having fun-filled kid-friendly days.

My bespren Bernice and I love to cook.  More specifically, saving recipes and cooking for each other when we are visiting.  Since I am here at her house, interrupting her solitude and peace of mind (Haha!) I thought it would be really nice to make her this dish.

This recipe is from the "Every Day with Rachael Ray" magazine.  My mom and I saved this recipe several years ago, only cooking it once.  I started making this recipe again about a month ago.

I told Big D when I made it, and he made me promise to make it again soon for him.  The kids...well, they hardly like anything with even a hint of green.  I usually have to compromise and let them push the asparagus aside.  I, on the other hand, could eat this every day.  If only there were enough meal times in a day, because this "eat this every day" list is becoming rather lengthy.




Asparagus Carbonara
Printable Version

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 box of spaghetti noodles
bag of frozen asparagus
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 package of bacon
3 cloves garlic
1/4 C dry white wine
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Take the bacon, separate the strips and lay them on a baking rack, placed on a baking sheet to catch the grease.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, til nearly crispy.  (Can do this ahead of time too)  Roughly chop the bacon.


Meanwhile, combine eggs and parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  Using a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is nearly al dente.  During the last minute of cooking, toss in the frozen asparagus.  Spoon out 1/2 cup of pasta water to save, and strain the rest of the pasta and broccoli.
Toss the hot pasta and asparagus with the egg and parmesan mixture.   Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Take chopped bacon and cook until crisp.  Add the chopped garlic.  Pour in the white wine and cook until
reduced, about 1 minute.
Stir the bacon mixture into the pasta mixture, adding enough of the reserved water to moisten the noodles.  Season with salt and pepper.

Suggested variations:
I am a little heavy on the bacon for this dish.  Garlic too, of course. :-)  Also, you can make this with broccoli.  

Hope you get a chance to enjoy!


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07 July 2014

Waking Up In Virginia

I woke up in Virginia this morning.
 
True story and totally on purpose.  I'm going to be calling this place home for the next few days, with my BFF Bernice.  Happy to do so too!  I'm pretty excited to be spending this much time with this crazy girl.  Heart her.
 
It was so nice to wake up this morning to the birds chirping outside.  I found comfort in the sound of actual traffic on the highway.  I watched what I thought was marsh grass waving at me from the marsh.

Of all the sounds I could hear, my children were not one of them.  Yet.
Sleeping in was the best gift they could give me today.  What a peaceful way to start the day.  I needed that.
 
It's been a long couple of days.  Since Friday actually.  Starting my Monday off like this was how I needed it to be.

What does the Hampton Roads area have in store for us this week?  I don't know but I'm excited to find out.  It's much better than being home in our small town, surrounded by fields of corn, and having to commute to Target.  Which I would happily do.
 
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