Thursday, December 05, 2013

Small Successes: First Week of Advent

Well, it's been an eternity since I managed to find 5 minutes to think about what I've done right, let alone write it down.  So THIS is my first success.  But I won't cheat.


I managed to get a whole month's worth of cooking done by the 2nd day of the month!!!  Shopped and cooked all in 2 days.  Massive success, if you ask me.  There are a few snack/breakfast items that wouldn't fit on the chalkboard, but here's what's for dinner this month:
I don't come up with this by myself, or at all.  I have a pro membership to Never heard of it? You are missing out on a serious resource for busy families!  I upgraded to a pro membership because that allows me to swap out recipes and customize the menu. 


The tree is up and I have new Advent candles for the wreath! Now, if only I could find the wreath...


I'm slowly, but surely clearing a path through the basement.  It's not glamorous work, but it has to be done to make room for a ping pong table we got the kids for Christmas.  Fortunately, we have a pop-a-shot basketball hoop downstairs, so I can have a little fun while I'm down there.  Boy is Andy gonna be surprised when I smoke him at his own game! 

 Do a little self-congratulating of your own over at

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Starting on October 4th, I am joining more than 63,000 Catholics to pray the Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for a special event coming up!
Pope Francis is planning a Marian Day celebration at the Vatican and at this event he plans to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
This event is on October 13th and is organizing a novena as a way for us to join in unity with the Holy Father and prepare for this event.
You can sign up for handy email reminders to get the the novena prayers here:
After you sign up, maybe you can help spread the word as well. God’s Mercy is abundant and overflowing, let’s share it!

Find the Original Here:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

True Romance

What is true romance? Roses? Chocolates? Declarations of love in sonnet form? None of these!

Giving up your annual college buddies reunion weekend so your wife can have her own weekend away?  Getting up at 4 am to drive your wife to the airport because you know she gets anxious before flying and you don't want her waiting for the shuttle in long term parking alone at 5am?  This is true romance. This is true love. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ultimate Reset: The Results

Before I reveal my final results, I will tell you about the final Phase of the Ultimate Reset.  This final week is extremely challenging.  My entire diet consisted of nothing but fruit, vegetables and water.  There were optional snacks that included grain, but I chose not to eat them opting instead for more fruit.  The first week, I didn't really need the snack. I felt full enough to make it from lunch to dinner, but in the final week the snack was absolutely needed.  In addition to this, I took an hour nap every day.  I am a stay-at-home-mom, so that is something I am able to do.  If I were working, I'd have taken a brisk walk to get my blood pumping again.  I felt that my energy was waning in the final days of the Reset, maybe because I was just "over it" or maybe because as filling as the meals were, they didn't last long and I wasn't eating any complex carbohydrates.   If I was working, I probably would have eaten the grains so that I had more energy.

Ok. Enough of that!


Here are my final results:

Weight Loss: 9.3lbs

Inches Lost

Bust:    2in
Waist:  2.5in
Hips:    1in
Body Fat:  down 3%

If I'd had time, I would've liked to see the doctor for a physical before and after the Ultimate Reset so I could compare the results of blood work. However, I am really satisfied with these results! I was on a downward spiral in my weight management.  I was under tremendous amounts of stress this winter and spring which made my body very resistant to weight loss.  Add that to stress eating and you've got yourself a recipe for a muffin top of epic proportions. I'm thrilled because I actually lost all the weight I gained, plus a little bit more.  I am seeing a number on the scale I haven't seen since before my oldest child was born! A quick calculation reminded me that I am only 7 pounds away from my high goal weight. With all that I have learned about healthy and clean eating on this 3 week journey, I have no doubt that I can reach this goal and even move beyond it to my ultimate goal.  I haven't felt so confident that I could achieve a goal in a very long time.  This is very exciting!

So after all that, I am ready to ease back into normal, healthy eating that can sustain a workout. Beachbody Ultimate Reset guidebook recommends adding foods that we removed over the course of the 3 weeks slowly.  The plan is to observe how my body reacts to certain foods and decide if they should remain in my diet or not. First is grains, then beans, dairy and then meat.  Basically, you treat your body as though you are a toddler being introduced to new foods and observing for any adverse reactions.  Today I added in chickpeas.  So far, so good!

My next plan is to begin Shaun T's Focus T25 program.  It's 5-days-a-week, 25-minutes-a-day (except for Friday that is 50 minutes).  I'm looking forward to this program with a bit of fear and trepidation, but I think that's good. Gotta keep moving forward!

If you're interested in doing the Ultimate Reset, find out more here: Check out this video 
Ready to commit? Find more info and order here.
Please be sure to contact me so that I can help you through this process.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 15-17

Well, all my adoring fans, we're in the final week of the Ultimate Reset.  Lemme give you a clue:  it ain't easy!  Week One, I thought, "Hey, this ought to be easier than I thought! The food's pretty good, and even when it isn't, it fills me up."   Sigh. This week, rather these 3 days, have been so challenging.  I haven't loved the food, and it doesn't last long.  In the first two weeks, I didn't really need a snack, but this week, I will cut someone if I don't eat a snack.  4 more days people. FOUR MORE DAYS.

On the upside, Kevin told me I feel skinny when he hugs me.  Oh, yeah!  I am fitting my clothes better and better.  I'll be weighing in and taking measurements next Wednesday to see what my final results are, so we'll know the truth.

The other great thing that's happening is I'm getting rid of all the extra stuff we have!  It's been a job that needed to be done for a long time.  So now I have boxes upon boxes of kids toys, baby gear, and whatever else I can get my hands on ready for either a garage sale next Friday (if the weather holds out) or donation the following week.

How I feel.
One other thing, I'm feeling happy.  Like REALLY HAPPY.  I don't know how to explain it, I just feel.. joyful.  I could cry for joy for no real reason.  I can't explain it.  The guidebook talks about ridding yourself of old emotions and old stuff.  It's a full body/mind cleanse I guess because I feel so good!  Who knew so much good could come from detoxifying your body? 

Want more info? Check out this video 
Interested in doing it? Find more info here.

A Pump of Light into My Shriveled Black Heart

This has been floating around Facebook these last couple of days. I want to remember it.

"I watch the faces of single people in their twenties after I bring up that I ‘have children.’ I imagine them taking a small step backward as if to avoid contagion, with a look of ‘Sorry to hear that’ on their face. Like I naively volunteered to contract leprosy, forever quarantining myself from the world of having fun by having children. Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat. Well, it depends on how much hair.” Jim Gaffigan

Monday, August 05, 2013

Ultimate Reset Days 7-13

In case you're wondering, I hate beets!  I didn't know it until last night in the last bite of my dinner, but I hate beets.  I don't know what it is about them, they aren't really that offensive, but something disagrees with my taste buds. I could have substituted them for a different dinner in Phase 2, but I am trying to be precise, so I ate them.  Beets are on the menu 2 more times before the end, but I will sub them for something more palatable.  I know a bunch of people who like beets, so don't knock them until you try them. I've tried them, so I will knock them.

I haven't updated my journey recently because how many times can I say "Things are going well. I feel good. I'm sleeping well. I don't have any wild cravings."  It's all still true!!! I'm having a great time on this cleanse. Beets have been my biggest complaint, which isn't anything to complain about.

Here's a great piece of news: yesterday I tried on a dress that was unfit for public wear 2 weeks ago. Well, it fit so well when I tried it on that I wore it to Mass. I felt amazing! If I looked half as good as I felt, then I looked fantastic! (I'll try not to break my arm patting myself on the back.)

I have 2 more dresses that I'm using as a goal. One that fits, but has the most unforgiving fabric ever made. I seriously don't know how it made it out of the dressing room, it's that clingy in all the wrong places.  The other is a beautiful sheath dress in a size too small.  I doubt I'll be able to wear it in public just from the reset, but I'm much closer that I was 2 weeks ago.  It's fuchsia with a black and white houndstooth collar and a skinny black belt. It screams for black and white spectators!   But I digress.

Well, there you have it.  Tomorrow is the last day of Phase 2. I begin the final Phase on Wednesday.  Stay tuned!

Want more info? Check out this video 
Interested in doing it? Find more info here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 4, 5 and 6

This was the first weekend of the reset and I really didn't think I was going to make it on Sunday.  We had overnight visitors on Saturday night who didn't arrive until 2:30 in the morning.  We had to get up early for Mass the next morning, so I really thought I was going to cave to coffee.  Ooh. You didn't know there's no coffee allowed during the reset? Yep, that's right. No coffee.  Fortunately, I was able to catch a solid nap in the afternoon or I don't know what I would have done.  Dinner Sunday night included miso soup, which I HATE.  I'm told that I should've bought the yellow miso instead of brown.  I had leftovers from a dinner earlier in the week, so I switched it out.

Sunday was also our family's traditional "Ice Cream Sunday" in which we partake of homemade ice cream.  I really love ice cream and have serious doubts about my ability to resist, so I made all the ice cream that we'll need 3 weeks ago. I asked my husband to serve the ice cream so I wouldn't be tempted to cheat. However, I still had to be present while my family raved about how good chocolate marshmallow ice cream is.  Surprisingly, I didn't suffer too much.  I didn't feel any cravings or desires to have a taste.  If you know me, you are stunned.  Ice cream is my kryptonite. 

Last night I slept really well and did not have any crazy dream for the first time in a week.  I fell asleep easily and woke up earlier than expected, but feeling well rested.
***TMI ALERT*** 
Skip to the next paragraph if you are afraid.
 I haven't had any odd syptoms, no emotional reactions, no aches or pains to get excited about, but what I have noticed is more complete and slightly more frequent bowel movements over the last few days.  Nothing like you might expect with a cleanse, no running to the bathroom or anything unpleasant.  I think it's just a release of toxins from my body. I'm happy about it.


Tomorrow is my last day of week 1: Reclaim.  I begin week 2: Release on Wednesday.  I'll be eliminating all animal products during this week and eat a more vegetable, fruit, whole grain based diet.  All-in-all, this has been a successful week. I am looking forward to what's next.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 3

I'm telling you, if I wasn't taking supplements and eating on a schedule, I'd never know I was on a reset.  Aside from feeling a little spacey, I feel fine. I'm not super tired, I don't have anything more than very minor aches or pains  nothing much seems to be happening.  I'm sure there is plenty going on internally, but I don't feel it.  Frankly, it makes me nervous, like I'm doing it wrong.  I know I'm not, though. I've followed the supplement and food schedule exactly.  Not to jinx myself, but maybe I'm just not as big a mess as I thought I was.  Watch. I'll be hit with a migraine or leg cramps or something and I'll take it all back. But so far, so good.

I finished out yesterday with a delicious dinner of southwestern veggie taco. I was supposed to have kale with it, but I cannot make kale edible for the life of me.  I don't know what I'm doing wrong.  Oh, well. What are ya gonna do?  I slept well last night. I had dreams that started probably around 6:30, I woke up at 7 and felt good. 

Today was the first day I took my reset on the road. I went to a friend's house to take the kids swimming, so I had to pack my lunch and supplements.  I knew I was going last night, so I cooked the lentils for the lentil-lime salad so I could throw it all together this morning.  Everyone else had hot dogs, chips and Rice Krispie treats.  I do not like Rice Krispie treats, (unAmerican, I know) so I wasn't even tempted. What I continue to notice about myself is how often I would have just eaten a chip or licked a spoon if it were just a regular day.  The Ultimate Reset is shining a big ol' spotlight on my bad habits.  It's like Jim Rohn says,

“Failure...a few small errors in judgment repeated every day. Success...a few simple disciplines practiced every day.”

- Jim Rohn 

Whatever physical changes are happening in my body, I'm very grateful for the changes that are happening in my behavior.  

Want more info? Check out this video 
Interested in doing it? Find more info here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 2

Yesterday was a pretty decent day. I felt a little foggy-minded and became really cold in the afternoon despite the 74 degrees.  I put on a hoodie and socks and I was good.  I slept really well, except for some anxiety dreams that woke me up this morning, but I was already very rested. Today I've been in the mood to clean and get rid of stuff.  I've heard that can be a side effect of cleansing your body, you also want to cleanse your life.  If that's the case, then I'm thrilled!
What do you mean I have to drink 3 of these?!
This morning I took my measurements.  I told my partners in this challenge that I have the perfect hour glass figure.  Unfortunately, it was a dark hour.  But the darkest hour is just before the dawn!

Taking my measurements was probably the hardest part of the entire reset.  I was afraid to do it. I've gained 8 pounds since Christmas and I had convinced myself that my behavior didn't matter.  "Sure, have this cookie!  It won't change anything."  I believed my own lies, like a fool.  These kind of shifts in attitude creep up on me.  I stopped believing in my dreams. I stopped believing that they could be more than dreams, they could be reality if I was willing to work. They became unattainable.  It surprises me to some extent because I already achieved one unattainable dream: to fit into my pre-children clothes.  I never thought I'd be able to wear that size again, but I worked hard, I never gave in and I achieved it.

Well, NO MORE! I have caught myself just in the nick of time.  I will achieve my dream of feeling confident in a bathing suit.  It's not about the bathing suit, it's about the body I will have that will allow me to feel confident in whatever I wear, not self-conscious at all.  I have an image in my mind and I'm going to find an image on paper that represents my goal and it is going up on my dream board.  I don't currently have a dream board, but I am a visual person and I need constant reminders, so a dream board I will make.

I hope you will keep me in your prayers for these 21 days.  I am not sure what I will be experiencing. Detoxing your body can have some uncomfortable physical symptoms and even emotional symptoms.  That's ok. I'm all in. But I will still welcome your prayers for a successful journey to better health.

Want more info? Check out this video 
Interested in doing it? Find more info here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ultimate Reset- Day 1

Today is my first day of Beachbody's Ultimate Reset.  I've waited over a year since it was released to begin this program.  Beachbody suggests finding a three week period of time where you are not traveling or under a lot of extra stress to begin this program.  Summer is always less stressful for me because my kids are out of school and, more importantly, out of sports and other activities.  We do what we want. Yeah! Because the Ultimate Reset is in the process of alkalizing the body to bring it closer to what it should be naturally, you are not supposed to engage in strenuous exercise. Building up lactic acid in the muscles would defeat the purpose.  I was teaching fitness classes for the last year, so that made it impossible for me because I was independent and had no one available to substitute for me.

This is Week 1: Reclaim.  The supplements I've taken so far are called Optimize and Mineralize.  Mineralize is meant to stablize healthy pH, improve digestion, hydration and prevent muscle soreness.  Optimize is all about the enzymes that make our body work. Almost every bodily function in every system depends on enzymes doing their jobs. We've all been compromised by poor diet, stress, illness and injury and age.  Optimize restores us to, well, optimal levels of enzymes in our bodies. 

So, anyway, here I am in my first day.  I can already tell this is going to be challenging.  Not because of what the Reset instructs me to do, but because my bad habits are already becoming more apparent.  One of the biggest purposes of the Ultimate Reset is to awaken me to the habits that I need to change and to instill in me the habit of conscientious eating.  Being aware of what I put in my body at all times is not something I've taken very seriously for the last several months, possibly even the last year!

Halfway through my first day, I've noticed that I feel really relaxed and mellow. This surprises me because I really didn't expect anything to happen the first day.  So far, the food has been pretty good.  I'm excited about what my results might be. Most people report weight loss, clarity and boosted energy, among other things.  Those are the things I'm most hoping to see.

I'm going to try to give a day-by-day report, so be sure to follow along!

Want more info? Check out this video 
Interested in doing it? Find more info here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Trap

Well, it's almost the middle of July and according to retailers, it's time for me to start thinking about sending the kids back to school. Rudeness.  I'm all for being ready, but advertising school supplies in July is as ridiculous as setting up Christmas displays in September.  Worse, actually, because I like Christmas. 

We live in a world that is always saying "What's next?"  Normally that doesn't bother me because it's just life.  I have 4 kids. I've been living a "what's next?" kind of life probably since my second child was born.  There is always so much to do and never enough time to get it done. If you are sitting in front of the computer blogging...ahem, then you are not folding laundry or doing any of the things that are constantly in need of doing.  But sometimes you just have to do what you want to do instead.  Sometimes you have to take a moment to do something that is seemingly unimportant or unnecessary or even time-wasting.  We adults, especially parents, especially mothers, don't ever take enough time to do things we enjoy.  At least, I don't.

What's worse than not taking time to do things that you enjoy is getting lost in the mayhem of family life and not doing the things you know you ought to do. Like praying. Like spending time quietly with God.  I don't know about you, but I know that when this happens, I've gotten caught in the trap (AGAIN) of thinking "If I don't have a solid 15-30 minutes of alone time, it's doesn't count".  If you are a mother, you know that your children have a 6th sense to know when you are on the phone or sneaking to the bathroom.  They can be completely engaged in activities outside, your home is peaceful for a minute and as soon as you sit down, "MOM!" is shouted as the back door slams hard enough to rattle your teeth. It's uncanny!

The truth of the matter is, our whole day can be offered as a prayer.  I don't need complete silence to pray. I don't need 15 minutes.  Some of the most effective and heartfelt prayers I've uttered (possibly yelled)  in my day are simple one-liners like "Lord, have mercy" or "Jesus, I trust in You." I am so grateful that even in the constant noise that fills my home, that Jesus can hear me and is always listening, waiting for me and my hastily said prayers.  I pray that you and I remember this the next time we are in danger of falling into the trap of lies.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Jenna, Hannah, Ava, Emma, Makala, Olivia and Anne-Marie performing "Carry On".
The kids have been planning a carnival and talent show for the neighborhood kids for a week.  Today is the big day.  They have carnival games including a candy slide (candy taped to the slide and you have to grab a piece on your way down), a ring toss, a ping pong toss, a dunk tank, a rock wall, a ticket booth and a prize station.  They rehearsed a talent show all week, including harmonizing medleys to Top 40 pop songs.  All of this happened without any adult involvement!

Andy and Christian performing Thrift Shop.
I watched and listened all week and was doubtful this would go as they envisioned.  Shame on me!  The kids pulled it off!  The carnival went off without a hitch, each kid playing the games honestly, taking turns, even cooperating with the rules of how to win prizes.  They were doing so well, I decided to contribute last year's leftover popsicles and 2 giant batches of popcorn to the cause.  I was invited to join the audience of the talent show.  These are talented kids! 

Makala, Olivia and Renee perfoming "Down by the Bay".
Today, I am grateful. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.  I'm grateful that God has blessed our decision to be a single income family and brought opportunities to us for home-based businesses.  I am filled with joy that I can be home to be part of these wonderful events.  Most days aren't filled with amazing kid productions of carnivals and talent shows.  It's easy to get so involved in keeping the house, planning the meals and all the other things that go with running a household that you miss these things.  Today, I'm grateful that God's grace allowed me to be present and aware of how blessed I am.

Ava, Emma and Jenna performing "Our Song", complete with well executed choreography.

Renee, Anne-Marie and Makala dancing to an original song by Anne-Marie.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

In the Palm of My Hand

I imagine I can hear Jesus saying to me,  "Don't worry. I love you and I won't let go."

I've been praying the Novena to the Sacred Heart this week.  I love John-Paul and Annie over at Their email reminders of novenas have helped me do just what they hoped for: pray more novenas.  Considering I couldn't remember to string two days together and consequently never finished a novena before they came along, I am grateful.  

Part of the novena to the Sacred Heart is to pray "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you."  This is something I find ridiculously easy to say and then promptly forget, especially in times of stress.  Last night, just as I was about to fall into a deep sleep,  I found myself 2 days behind on my novena.  I rallied my energy just long enough to pray Day 5 on Day 6 with the promise of doing double duty on Day 7.  (I am hoping that since God exists outside of time and space, He will understand.)  When I finished my prayer, I realized my need for constant reminders to remember to place (and keep) my trust in Jesus, so I made this picture to save as my lock screen on my iPhone (please use it as your own, if you like).  Anyone who knows me, knows my iPhone is always with me and I'm constantly checking it for social media, appointments and generally out of habit/boredom.  So now when I open it, I see this beautiful image of Jesus looking at me with those eyes that seem to say, "Don't worry, Mary. I love you and I won't let go."   I hope you like what I've done and, if you do, please make it your lock screen image, too. 

If you'd like to read a lovely reflection on the Sacred Heart, read Sarah Reinhard's post Finding Myself in His Sacred Heart on her blog SnoringScholar.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fresh Bread and Ice Cream Sunday

When Instagram crashes, you remember you have a blog that you love.  This is our Memorial weekend.
Nana taught the girls how to make Rosaries.
Andy and Anne-Marie played nicely with the cars.  I didn't know Andy even knew he had cars in his room.  I can't remember the last time I saw him play with toys!

Anne-Marie is looks so tiny in this picture! She's hardly bigger than the toys!

We had our first Ice Cream Sunday of the year on Memorial Weekend.  It was Philadelphia-style chocolate ice cream with bittersweet chocolate stracciatella (that's melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chips, for the uninitiated). I don't know, I think Renee like it.

Just when things were calm, all the girls got into the act with their brother.

Saturday morning I woke up to find Daddy and his little girls watching North America together.

I've been trying to make bread instead of buying it.  So last night I used the bread maker to make the dough and thend shaped it into a regular loaf pan an baked it myself.  I don't know what they do to store bread to ruin it, but it is completely different than homemade!

And finally, a video of the crazy play time. (Are you on Vine?  It captures the insanity a little better with the loop)