On Spilling My Guts

Monday, 7 November 2016

So I need talk to you about something. 

I love writing.

I actually love writing poetry and song lyrics the most (weird, right!?), but sorting my thoughts into phrases and sentences is deeply fulfilling for me in any form. I’m not exaggerating: it’s even kind of fun for me to write out recipe instructions in a way that is clear, concise, and easy to follow. Sometimes when my head is too full or my thoughts are racing around inside my head like unharnessed horses, I can’t even decipher WHAT I’m thinking until I scrawl it all out on paper…or on my computer…but usually on paper, believe it or not.

As a result, I love the idea of blogging. I love that it gives me the chance to let some of the words that constantly roll around in my head get sorted into something I can share with others, a way to connect, if you will. But I struggle with drawing attention to myself. Coming across as arrogant is a shame-trigger for me; I’ll try and avoid being seen that way at all costs, even if it means playing myself small and less-than-I-am at the risk of being seen as having a big head. It’s probably just from being naturally confident, bossy, and know-it-all-y as the oldest child and seeing how it can hurt others and make me look like an idiot…and I do NOT like being or appearing-to-be hurtful and idiotic. Get me super-comfortable with my guard down and, with my sporadically manifesting talent for impulsivity, I will inevitably blurt out thoughts unedited that always leave me feeling like an inconsiderate know-it-all idiot (which, now that I think about it, might actually mean I'm truly an inconsiderate know-it-all idiot deep down and need to work on it...*awkward grimace*). Also, I can be really intense and passionate about my convictions and temporarily lose my sense of humor sometimes, which can be disconcerting for everyone. WHICH IS ALL JUST A REALLY LONG WAY OF SAYING that writing publicly is a struggle for me; I keep trying to deflect attention away from myself because I’m afraid I won’t handle it well.

It means I’m consistently trying to avoid any prolonged focus on the deep, hearty, fleshy bits of me...which feels disingenuous. I worry that I'll give up the first time I embarrass myself or fall flat on my face, metaphorically. I stress that congratulations and praise will make me cocky…not because I’m going to be amazing, but because people are nice and say nice things to be polite and I’m just so eager for nice words that I take them and run with them while the other half of me rolls her eyes and keeps calling for me to come baaaack to reality already. I worry that I would appear to be all those things when I’m really just coming from a whole-hearted, genuine, humble place for a minute…which is actually kind of silly because when I am writing from a really vulnerable and sincere place, the arrows (that I’m usually throwing at myself, mind you) don’t hurt as much and feel even a little irrelevant. And all of this worrying starts making something really enjoyable actually pretty stressful. 

But despite all of this, I feel driven to write and driven to share...and I don’t know why…but I do know what holds me back from doing it: FEAR. Just the plain ol’ heebie jeebies. It's worrying about what everyone will think, or what they won’t think, or what I will say, what will come out, what I’ll feel like I have to say, what I’ll regret saying, and whether it’s all so self-indulgent that I should just shut my mouth already and keep it to myself. I’m really good at hiding and avoiding, so I am often more than eager to nod my head in vigorous agreement to that last bit and bury my head in the dirt. However, it turns out it’s not a very effective coping strategy when it comes to chasing your dreams.

And so I want to change the tone of my blogging here a bit, on occasion…and want to warn you about it. I’ve already given you the ammo to shoot me where it hurts (recap: just tell me I’m being too arrogant, self-absorbed, showing too much crazy, being melodramatic, or ignorant and unintelligent). Just be aware that, while likely very effective at hitting below the belt, I won’t consider any such comments to be very original or imaginative anymore since I gave them to you…but go ahead and say them out loud or in your head anyways; it’s okay, I understand. But it also means that since I’m writing for something deeper than crowd-pleasing, I’ll likely just keep hobbling along anyways. Sorrynotsorry.

I don’t really know how to come up with imaginary stories. I’ve always known that I am not naturally a great fiction writer. For some reason it just comes out flat and cheesy when I’ve tried. But I do know how to write about what I see…or (more accurately) what I perceive…and what I wonder about, my experiences. I mean, not all that well, but at least the words flow when I am writing what’s real to me (as opposed to trying to extract a stubborn tooth a la fictional storyline and characters). It's where I sit as a writer, currently, so I’m going to have to start there. Personal writing is not for every blog or blogger, but I think it needs to be for this one.

And while I hope my gut-spilling efforts at creating are helpful, I have no desire to label myself as the always helpful and you, dear reader, as the eternally helped. In fact, I've always been most helped and inspired by those who are bravely living out their own purpose regardless of what I think about it anyways. 

On Homeschooling, Public School, and Weird Kids.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

If you don't follow me on Instagram, or haven't chatted with me in person recently, guess what!? I'm homeschooling my 7-year-old daughter this year!

I KNOW. It's kind of a surprise to me, too! The timing, specifically (so sudden!),...not really that we're actually doing this because it's something that has always been on the 'list of possibilities' when it comes to my children's education. But now that it's actually happening, I'm excited. And nervous!

We started our morning routine (the 'light' version) at the beginning of last week, and have added a few things in starting this week with the intention of easing into things slowly. We are both really enjoying it already, and I can already see the benefits we were hoping to see...so far, so good!

Curious as to why? Or my thoughts on the whole idea of homeschooling? In random pieces and through a novel-length post??

Oh, GOOD. Read on!

1) We've committed to homeschooling just for grade two (for now, anyways). However, a longer-term commitment is completely possible if we fall in love with it and it works for our family.

Our 5-year-old boy is going into kindergarten this year and will be attending our local public school and that's all fine and dandy. As of now, my decisions in homeschooling will be considered on a child-by-child, year-to-year basis...doing what's best at the time for each kid (and our family at large) for that year. I'm passionate about my kids and their education, but I know circumstances and kids' needs change...and that I can still be passionate and supportive of their education without homeschooling. Y'know?

2) On that note, I am not anti public school. I know it gets a bad rap for being rigid and unyielding, accused of its most important goal being training people for the workforce on a conveyor belt instead of training people to be independent thinkers and leaders. I have a lot of thoughts on public schooling, the overarching one being that it is doing the best it can under the circumstances!

(Tangent oncoming...)

As with any large organization, there has to be order and organization or things fall apart. There has to be regulations and rules... and with that comes a need to conform in certain areas (like appropriate behaviour, for example) so that the learning can happen for everyone. When you're in charge of lots of people, especially young people who may not be able to monitor their own progress yet, there needs to be periodic assessment to make sure things are still working the way you want them to. These are not inherently bad things!

The negative stuff happens when we start relying on public schooling to DO EVERYTHING,
...or think it's the ONLY way to do things "right,"
...or forget that no one, even "experts" with lots of education, can force someone to learn. That part is totally up to the child/individual.

If we assume that the most important learning happens at home and in the community (teaching life skills, instilling values like hard work and responsibility, transmitting culture through family and social interaction, etc.),
AND we're not blaming schools when our children don't know how to dress themselves (eyeroll),
AND are willing to explore different ways to do things when the organization is not working for a particular child for whatever reason,
then it can do what it's supposed to: teach kids to read and write and do 'rithmatic and inspire them to pursue further learning in their areas of strength.

It's when we start wanting public school to do all the work for us when it comes to parenting and nurturing a future generation...(so we can relinquish the burden and responsibility? I don't even know)..that the big friction happens. Schools have to start saying, "uh, okay, so if you want us to do all of this, we need a longer school day, kids can't play so much, we need to aim at the middle ground for training ability, we have to focus on de-diversifying value/belief systems so we can actually teach it to the masses, and you have to stop whining when we start regarding ourselves as the experts and more important than the family system for preparing your child for the future...even though we don't love your kids like you do. Deal?"

So anyways, coming back to the topic at hand: my point is that public school (while it necessarily has its limitations) is not the enemy and I am not shunning it 'because homeschool is always the better option.'

2) Also, I'm not homeschooling at you. Promise. Like I said, I don't hate public school, and am not judging you. 
I realize that I am coming from a place of privilege here:
I am not working full-time and we can afford to have me stay home to homeschool,
my husband is supportive,
I am living in a country where I can teach my children in my native language,
I have access to amazing resources to make it a positive experience (hopefully? Ha!),
and my mental and emotional health are currently in a place where I feel like I can handle the extra work just fine (also hopefully?).

I get it. So if I'm talking about homeschooling, it's not because I'm secretly trying to convince you to do it, too. PROMISE. So don't feel obligated to tell me all of the reasons you think it would be a horrible idea for your family, unless you want to, in which case I'm happy to listen! I just don't want you to feel like you need to defend your choices to me because I am secretly judging you for your public schooling choices. Haha!

3) She will have a rich social life.

Despite it becoming SO much better over the years, homeschooling can still elicit concerned comments about socialization. I mean, I roll my eyes a little internally, BUT! I get what everyone is asking, and it is a legitimate concern!

One part of it is the real question: will your kid turn out weird?? I love how Oliver DeMille handles that question in his book "A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a generation of leaders for the twenty-first century," so I'm just going to quote him:

"What people usually mean is, 'Will they seem normal and well-adjusted, or backward and strange?' In most cases, that depends on the parents. If parents are so-called 'backward and strange,' chances are their kids will be also---even if they are in public school. In fact, such children will likely be less 'normal' when they reach early adulthood, given the teasing and rejection they are almost sure to feel in school. At least in home school, their self-image is validated and they have a strong chance of getting a good education without their love of learning being destroyed by an artificial social and class structure which dominates the hallways and locker rooms and classrooms. So, those who struggle socially may be better off in a homeschool..."

So if my kids are a little "off" for any homeschooling they might experience, it's actually because I'm a little strange and taught them all I know about it, okay? Ha!

Also, if this (my kids turning out weird) is someone's major and urgent concern when discussing homeschooling with me, panic creeping into their voice, I usually get the feeling that it's because of "that one homeschooling family they knew" way back when and their own fear/trauma of not fitting in projected onto the situation...which doesn't usually need anything except me just listening empathetically and reassuring them.

But I also get that it's not just about turning out weird (which is not really the worst thing in the world anyway, right? Everyone has their own special kind of weird, some are just more comfortable with their weirdness showing than others....but I digress, haha...), it's also about making friends and enjoying those meaningful friendships. It's providing them lots of different situations (with people of all ages...) so they have opportunities to develop and reinforce social skills, and so on and so forth.

Good news! We have friends that also homeschool with kids the same ages as our daughter. She will occasionally be involved in gymnastics class and other sports/learning groups/specialty classes, and she will have opportunities to connect with other homeschooling families through different social events. Also, we like our family friends and play lots with other families in general. Also, also: we are a pretty big family anyways and she gets plenty of interaction with her parents and siblings...and also cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. But the best part of homeschooling? Time away from all that socializing if you need it! It's nice to have friends that you see daily, but it's also nice to have that space and a break sometimes.

4) I have my teaching degree, major in elementary education and minor in special education. I also have certification as an educational assistant and plenty of experience teaching individuals and small groups in piano lessons and tutoring.  BUT all that education isn't really necessary to inspire someone to love learning and to know how to learn, especially at this age. In other words, you can have your teaching degree and be a terrible teacher...and have zero degrees and still inspire kids to learn with passion and strive for excellence. Amiright?? I really believe that.

So...we'll stick close to the same curriculum as the public school for this year since it's kind of a "trial" year (and therefore make it easier to slide back into grade three if that's the best fit for next year), but there are SO many ways to learn out there! It's pretty incredible, and the flexibility is one of the things I love about the idea of homeschooling. I also feel that if I can model a passion and love for learning new things all the time, it will be contagious...and that has almost nothing to do with my fancy degree and certificate.

As a side note, I'm actually LOVE-ing the chance to flex my curriculum-scrutinizing and lesson-planning muscles. It's also a lot of fun to dive back into educational psychology as I consider how to approach her education this year. Seriously, SO FUN. #educationnerd

4) She just needs this. My daughter is one of those "dream" students that is self-motivated and directed, well-liked by peers, and eager to please. But the flip side is that she can also be obsessed with excelling and regularly putting high value on what other people think of her (teachers and friends). Last year, she came home from school wound SO tightly from trying to meet everyone's expectations that it took hours for her to stop lashing out and growling at everyone here at home. And by then it was bedtime and time to start the whole thing over again. Ugh. I figured this year we would just try different strategies for chilling out after school (dedicated art/quiet time seemed to help a bit last year). However, the past couple weeks of summer I just couldn't shake the feeling that this was her year to take a time-out. She was beginning to be increasingly anxious about school starting and SUPER grouchy. I finally prayed about it and just knew it was what we needed to do for her, despite all my secret dreams of having two kids at school and only two kids here at home. Ha! Hubby and I chatted and we both agreed that this would be a good year to keep her close and feeling loved unconditionally, encouraging her to strengthen her character and find validation from within while enjoying the space and peace of a simplified schedule. Now to stay focused on that goal...(definitely harder than it seems).

I am already seeing her slowly relax and take deeper breaths, metaphorically. She is starting to resume being more loving to her siblings and less defiant with her parents, more eager to help around the house and playing with more lightheartedness (not so much intensity, y'know?). Yesterday she was grumpy with me about something and threatened to "not do homeschool anymore," but instead of threatening to go back to school-school she said, "I'm going to go to someone else's house to go to school!" Haha! It was a sign to me that she is feeling good about this change.

Well, there you have it. You can follow along our homeschool journey this year with occasional snapshots (literally) on Instagram, and I'll update here as well when I'm able. It's an exciting year and I'm looking forward to sharing and chatting about it!

This is My Thirty-Two.

Friday, 12 August 2016

This is thirty-two.

It’s my husband letting me sleep in until 8:00am. It’s not being able to sleep any longer because I’m usually awake by 6:30 tending to my bright-eyed offspring, the ones eager for the day to begin. It’s being finished with feeling consistently annoyed by their wake-up call and following through with my resolve to enjoy the tiny bodies snuggling into my space while it lasts. It’s being inexplicably thrilled that I got to stay in my soft, warm bed a bit longer this morning. It’s trying ignore the antsy feeling growing as I stay there, because it feels weird: an uncommon occurrence among the commonplace events of an otherwise fairly typical day. It’s making everyone breakfast because that’s just what I do. It’s simply liking to make everyone breakfast.

It’s putting in the extra effort to apply makeup today, because sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s being comfortable in my own bare cheeks and small eyes, mostly. It’s stepping into my day with the understanding that I have more to offer the world than a pretty face. It’s smiling a little because it feels rebellious.

It’s meeting tiny new wrinkles and random gray hairs and feeling disconcerted. It’s feeling my previous stance on aging being “beautiful and well-earned” suddenly challenged. It’s wondering how I feel about it all now, as my narrow adolescent ideas of beauty and my budding sage satisfaction with myself-as-I-am come toe to toe.

It’s pulling clothing on over a body that is young and healthy, but soft with the waves of demands constantly tugging at my resolve to firm up my curves. It’s having a body tender with the distinctly female pride of bearing children, with providing the world a few more hands to lift burdens, with being a soft place for those burden-lifters to land. It’s pulling on a nice dress for dinner and struggling with my little poochy mom-tummy, despite many practiced pep talks. It’s shrugging and wearing the dress anyway.

It’s only asking for a dinner-out for my birthday, one that is delicious and one I didn’t have to plan or prepare. It’s discussing minivans, our small business, and family vacations over dinner. It’s seriously considering living out of a motor home for a year and existing wildly and unconventionally, seeing everything we can see. It’s feeling young enough to do it and old enough to feel a twinge of responsible concern. It’s revelling in the canyon between the two.

It’s coming home at 9:30pm from our birthday date, tired and ready to crawl into bed. It’s laying close under the covers while we fall asleep to an old episode of The Office on Netflix. It’s almost eight years of marriage, eight hard years of marriage. It’s thinking of that with a touch of pride because we keep fighting our uphill battle, no matter what, and it keeps getting a little bit better. It’s realizing that marriage is mostly just a series of situations that requires me to examine my priorities and the kind of person I truly want to be. It’s a daily recommitting to my belief that lasting love is genuinely worth my constant internal battle to stay humble and kind. It’s falling asleep tucked around each other in our unflattering, but comfortable, sleepwear because that’s just what we do at the end of the day.

It’s being increasingly unconcerned with what those younger than me think of my relative trendiness, but increasingly concerned with forging a better world for them. It’s settling into my own style and rhythm that doesn’t answer to the pages of Seventeen Magazine. It’s passing up more and more of the latest fads, but recognizing the ones I will adore and being brave enough to seize them with both hands and ROCK THEM. It’s straddling the line between funky and graceful, inexperienced and wise, hot and beautiful. It’s beginning to realize that I don’t have to make an either/or decision on any of them.

It’s a faith that has been shaken and deepened. It’s knowing my God better than ever and being more comfortable with Him knowing me as well as He does. It’s a heart that has grieved through death and loss. It’s a mind that has racked itself with questions as to its health and abilities, trying on every mental illness for size and for answers, if it fits. It’s trying to fill my life with art and creativity, with play-dates and Bachelor nights with friends, with depth and compassion and honesty.

It’s simultaneously being obsessed with, and bored with, social media. It’s being one of the last to remember a childhood without the internet and still rolling my eyes and judging myself a little bit every time I take a selfie.

It’s being a little too wild to the grandmas, and a little too boring to the teenagers. It’s finally finding firm ground to plant my feet and grow while understanding that I can expect the ground to shift soon enough. It’s planning with a twinkle in my eye, and taking deep breaths while turning to face my demons.

It’s soul-stretching and ground-breaking, like every other year before it.

This is my thirty-two.

March-August Goals

Monday, 8 August 2016

So here is the post where I summarize everything that's been happening with My Healthiest Year Yet the past few months! Spoiler alert: It's not that exciting.

I stopped writing about it here somewhat unintentionally (busy with other things), but also because it was the ONLY thing I was writing about on this here blog and it was feeling boring...both to me in reporting it, and (I imagined) as something to read about. SOoo, I figured I'd just update you all at once and have it out and over for now. You're welcome. Haha!

Also included are random photos of my girls twirling in their Sunday dresses, for no reason other than something fun to look at.

We left off with this post, where I announced what my March goal was going to be exercising more regularly with the Sweat With Kayla app on my phone. Here's a quick run-down of how each month went from that point on:


Goal: See this post here. Or the above paragraph. Whatevs.

Summary: It went ooookay for the first few weeks. I actually really like the program! I would recommend it to anyone. I, however, have learned that I really need to leave my house to exercise. I don't care if it's just for a run, or to a gym, or WHATEVER...I am just really terrible at exercising at home. I get really distracted by all of the other things I have to do....like all the things that I'm really good at ignoring until I go to workout and suddenly feel SUPER IMPORTANT and URGENT. Like the dishes. Anyways, it's something I want to be better at. But also something to work on another time.



Summary: Okay, so this month kind of slipped away from me because my hubby surprised me with a me-and-him trip to Hawaii for a week! It was amazing. And it was honestly just what the doctor ordered. Him and I remembered that we actually like each other a lot (ha...) and the time away from regular routines was just so good. So I'm counting it as part of these monthly goals because it was an important reminder to me of the importance of breaks and rest in overall health. So, in summary, what I'm really saying is this: I totally rocked April's accidental goal (not a thing) of taking a vacation. Go, me! Haaaa.


Goal: Learn how to make sourdough bread! 

Have you guys "met" Kelsey of the blog Simple Life by Kels yet (she's also on Instagram)? Or have you heard of the blog Home Joys by inspirational mennonite mama Gina? Or watched the Netflix mini docuseries "Cooked?" Because all three of those were major influences in my desire to make bread the way bread was intended to be made, old-school style with nautral yeast. Making bread with natural yeast apparently transforms bread into something that is deeply nutritious and easier to digest. Also, I was kind of romanticizing the idea of connecting with my bread-food the good ol' fashioned way: with my hands and a little time.

Summary: Turns out it is way easier than I expected and also just as rewarding as I expected...AND delicious, of course. I got my starter from Kelsey (freeze dried flakes) and brought it back to life. I love that it's a whole wheat flour starter! It all makes me feel very self-sufficient. Like, if there was an armageddon-type disaster and all you gave me were kernels of wheat I could grind them up and make bread just like that with my starter, no big deal. When I eat it, I also don't feel that bloaty, sluggish feeling afterwards. I don't have gluten intolerance so I don't sense a huge difference health-wise (though it can be remarkable apparently!), but it's enough of a difference to notice... and I like it. And let's face it: if there is a way to include bread in my life and have it be super-nutritious, then I am ALL OVER THAT. This is the recipe I used for bread and it turned out every time...except I turned the heat down because it makes a really dark crust otherwise.


Goal: Read more often.

I love reading. I love books that challenge and intrigue my trusty ol' brain, give me noble and courageous characters to look up to, and inspire me to do better and be better as a result. So this goal was just about making more time for something that stretches my heart and mind.

Summary: Oh, guys. I will never regret taking the time to read good books. I've been making a conscious effort this past year or so to make time for it in my life since I haven't made time for it much at all during the past several years of marriage and having babies (brain fried, body tired). But everything had felt SO crazy with 'doing stuff' during May and June that I wanted to give myself a good reason to take breaks and rest here and there...and rest WELL, not just shut off my brain and check out to a show or social media (though that definitely has its place! No hating here.). This past month we fiiiinally got our library cards for our local library and have been working them out good! It has felt so refreshing to turn the pages of these books I've read lately and open myself up to the soul-searching and inspiration that inevitably follows with a truly good book, especially those classics that you get something different out of every time you read it.

A few that I read/started (mostly the latter...I have several on the go currently) this past month: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Adventures of Robin Hood by Paul Creswick, Rising Strong by Brene Brown, The Christ-Centered Home by Emily Belle Freeman, Food Rules by Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I recommend every single one of them, they are all worth the time...though I did just barely finished the last one in this list and it was especially incredible: both heart wrenching and thought-provoking. I cried.


Goal: Being present.

Summary: Some days I was more successful than others, but I definitely improved. I just left the internet/social-media/texting convos mostly alone during the day and suddenly I had all this free time...? So weird. Haha! I focused on giving my kids my full attention whenever it was possible so they felt heard and really listened to. I think that was really where the goal took me this month: a deeper appreciation for good listeners and a deeper desire to become one.

What always blows my mind is how quickly and overwhelmingly my kids respond with love and gratitude when they feel more cared for and feel like they're important to me...just by my being fully present and engaged in whatever is going on. Attention-seeking behaviours go WAY down.

Also, when I focus on the moment, my brain doesn't stay in what I like to call "internet mode" either...where I'm so busy thinking about one thing after another that I read/saw/want-to-look-up that I can't "unhook" from the fast-paced generally-superficial information there to just stop and truly enjoy the story that my boy is telling me about a magic snail with a super sword (?). I feel less crazy and have waaaaay more patience with my kids (AND more energy to do fun stuff with them) when my brain is not constantly whirring in "internet mode." I find my brain settles into deeper processing when it has to focus on being truly present, and that is a very good, sometimes uncomfortable, but totally essential thing for me.

This is a goal that always seems to be on the table for me, with occasionally more focus on it here and there when needed. I am always glad when I try harder at it, though; the rewards of being present with my kids and friends and family are better connections, deeper relationships, and a full heart. SO worth the effort.


Goal: Go hardcore with F45 Training. My friend Niki opened an F45 Team-Training centre nearby and I am trying it this month! It's a pretty incredible program/system of HIIT workouts that are always changing.

Summary, so far: I get my butt kicked (in the best way) every time I go. I got a week off for a family vacation we just took, but I am craving the workout again. So far I've noticed that working out so intensely helps me stay focused throughout the day and sleep better. AND feel stronger. I really love the variety and encouragement when I'm there! So far so good!


That's that! Working on some more heart-felt writing to share here over the next few weeks. Until then, hope you are rocking your summer and soaking it all up!

10 Past Posts!

Friday, 6 May 2016

This is kind of a fake post.

Well, not really FAKE, but it might be cheating a little. I just wanted to re-share a few old posts that I've been re-reading lately...so THAT's what this post is, just posting some oldies.

This year so far has been pretty much entirely posts on my Healthiest Year Yet Goals...(I'm behind on those...I'll be doing all the updates in one post soon!)...and while I love sharing those and being accountable to you, I always love writing and sharing things that run a little deeper than that.

Have you read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? It's amazing. So inspiring! She personifies creativity a lot to help explain her thoughts on how creativity works and enriches our respective lives...and while that element was a little 'much' for me at times, the underlying messages were totally what I have needed to hear lately in the living-a-creative-life-regardless-of-your-excuses department, particularly with writing. I don't know if that will translate to more writing here, or just more writing behind the scenes in general, but I just know I need to write...and so I will!

SOoo...while I figure that out, here are some past posts from this here bloggity blog to peruse:

Dear Jocelyn (Posted 6 months after my sister died)

10 Reasons Why Having Three Kids is Awesome

My Mundane is Their Childhood

15 Unusual Ways to Brighten Your Day

How to Eat Healthy in 30 Years or Less: My Journey to Better Habits

5 Ways to Declutter Your Head

People and Their Own Kind of Beautiful

7 Ways to Help Someone Who is Grieving

The Case for Hard Copy Books (vs. digital)

The First Post!

March 2016 Goal

Thursday, 17 March 2016

So this month, it's back to an exercise goal for me! (in My Healthiest Year Yet Challenge)

I have been feeling the need (again) to get my literal rear-in-gear in that department. It could be that swimsuit season is inching closer (ack! Insert all my shallow-and-superficial-but-very-real-panic here!). Could be that my posture keeps getting worse and worse, making my back a little grouchy. And also could be all this spring-like sunshine reminding me that there are fun, outside, active things in my future (hiking, and swimming, and sportsing, oh my!)...things I don't want to have to avoid because I'm not physically ready.

Whatever the reason, I'm to feel the burn, baby!

My goal this month is kind of hard to put into specific words. The bottom line is to exercise. The more elaborate version is to workout according to the Sweat With Kayla app on my phone. I'll tell you more about that in a sec, but I guess when it's all put together, my goal is:

To follow Kayla Itsine's workout program for the month of March, via the Sweat With Kayla app....(and, honestly, longer than that...but I'm just framing it in "monthly goal" words.)


It feels a little cheesy to me to use a work-out program but I'm feeling like I need someone else to be the boss of me right now to get me started. There's also a ready-made eating plan on there, too! Complete with recipes and shopping lists...AMAZING, right!?

Anyways, I'm sure I could make my own workout plan, and meal plan, etc. etc....but the energy I'm saving by letting her do all the work for me sounds SOOoo much more attractive at this point in my life. Maybe someday when I'm an Australian Health Guru (like Kayla Itsines) with oodles of time, it'll just be easier to do it myself. But not now, not yet. SO...I'm just letting Kayla tell me what to do.

And just as a side note: I just chose this app/program because...well, I wanted to. Ha! I needed the motivation of a structured program that will guilt me into using it because I spent good money on it. BUT! there are so many other routes I could have taken. I love Jillian Michael's workouts. Training for a race is good motivation! Even just going on a daily walk. Anything is better than nothing. So it's not really all-about-the-app. It's just about the exercise. I'll tell you more about the app in case you're curious, but the bottom line here is EXERCISE.

So, the app. It's a monthly subscription one, so kind of like paying for a cheap gym membership. There is a free week-long trial, though, so you can test-drive it before you commit for the long-term.

 So far, it's been three 28-min HIIT (high-intensity interval training) resistance workouts a week. Those are the ones that make you sweat and hurt. Then somewhere in that week you also do three LISS (low intensity steady state) sessions of about 30-40mins (like walking or steadily jumping on the mini-trampoline while watching Fuller House...ha!). There are also recovery sessions (stretching, cool-downs, etc.) to help with sore muscles. It sounds like a lot! But it's actually been just the frequency and variety that I need to keep me from getting bored too quickly (which is totally what I would risk if I decided my workouts myself). It changes as you go through the weeks, and I'm just in the beginner training sessions, so I haven't really gotten into the true HIIT workouts yet. It's also designed to be done in the comfort of your own home, which I appreciate since I live out in the country at the moment and nowhere near a gym.

The app's eating plan is based on the Australian food guide. The food is good! And you can switch your meals between standard, vegetarian, and vegan plans if need be. I might try the vegetarian recipes since I'm trying to increase my whole plant food intake and seriously decrease my meat intake...but so far the regular eating plan has been just fine (not crazy amounts of animal protein or anything), and easily adaptable if I want to switch out the meat for beans or leave out the cheese or whatever. So we'll see whether I officially switch over or not.

So there it is. I took before pictures, and will take after pictures, but you will never see them! Maybe. Probably. It's embarrassing to be half-naked on the internet. Happy March-so-far!

February Goal Summary (and a smoothie recipe!)

Monday, 7 March 2016

February is over! Like SO over. Ha.
Time to fill you in on how things went with my February Goal in My Healthiest Year Yet Challenge.

(In case you forgot, my goal for February was to drink a green smoothie/green juice every day. Yummm....)

I don't really have anything mind-blowing to share about this month went. It was just good. I always feel SO much better when I'm eating more vegetables, leafy greens in particular. I have more energy, crave less junk food, and start craving even more fruits and vegetables. My digestive system is more effective and (ahem) regular. It's a win-win situation all around.

I survived a family road trip by drinking store-bought smoothies (Happy Planet ones are my favourite!) and there were a couple days throughout the month where I missed making a smoothie at home, but still had a big green salad for lunch so I still got those greens in me.

Having my greens in the form of smoothies and juice also kept me better hydrated. I'd like to think that it made my skin more "glow-y" but that might just be wishful thinking. Ha! AND, as a side note, I totally fell in love with cacao nibs this month. I loved having them in my smoothies! Total powerhouse for keeping me satiated and energized for hours.

So really, that's it. Eat your veggies! One way or another. Totally worth it.


This green smoothie recipe is my favourite. You can seriously stuff SO much spinach in there and it still tastes like dessert, just like drinking a peanut butter milkshake. It's pretty healthy as-is, but I'll share my extra-healthy version with you, too, just in case you're interested!

Green Monster Spinach Smoothie from Iowa Girl Eats

1 frozen, sliced Banana
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
4 cups Baby Spinach (or a little more/less)
1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (or any kind of milk)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Enjoy!


Green Monster Smoothie, Extra-Healthy Style (dairy-free, naturally sweetened)

Try the original first...then if you're feeling brave, try this one out. It's still delicious, but definitely has a more "wholesome" taste (which I loooove, but does take a little getting used to).

1 Banana (frozen optional, but delicious)
1-2 tablespoons natural Peanut Butter
2-3 cups Baby Spinach 
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1 cup Almond Milk (or straight water, even! The banana helps add creaminess)
3-5 Medjool Dates (these are the big fat ones, usually found in the produce section...they are extra sweet and delicious so if you don't have them, you'll need to add extra 'regular' dates or use another sweetener like honey or maple syrup)
hint of salt (if the PB doesn't have any)
1-2 tablespoons cacao nibs, chia seeds, hemp hearts, etc. (you pick your combo)

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth!


I'll often make a green smoothie just by tossing berries, kale and/or spinach, a banana, and some honey in a blender and it turns out just fine. If you have a really hard time with a "green" taste, definitely make sure to include something strongly "citrus-y" like pineapple or frozen orange juice concentrate...those help add a tang to the smoothie and make it extra-delicious! I'll be sure to share more favourite smoothie recipes as I find them. Happy smoothie-ing!