Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time... is it Anyone's Friend??

Starting a blog right before I start back to school... not my brightest idea. That's right, I'm 30, and I am once again a college student. Scary thought! I have a small course load this semester, an online computer literacy class and Anatomy & Physiology 1. And I am retaking my ACT test in a few weeks. Even scarier! I have so many people that say "I wish I could go back." or "I wish I had the time." Well, you know, I don't have the time either, you have to make time work for you, not against you! With a 3 year old, and two active step-kids, I know how difficult it is. But there really is no better time than the present. Anyone out there giving any thought to going back to school, DO IT. You aren't getting any younger, and neither is your family. Work hard now, and you will have to make a few sacrifices, but it will have a major payoff in the end.
I try to use every bit of free time I have to read my Anatomy text, or study my terms. (Yep, only had two class meetings and I have a chapter to read and review and about 5 pages of body parts to memorize!) I keep note cards with me everywhere. There are several apps I've downloaded on my phone to quiz me. The kids nap, I read. I feed a baby and I am pointing out parts of the head, trunk, arms, legs. I feel like Anatomy has been all I have thought about for about a week now! And you know what, I still have time to do my workouts, go to ball games, visit friends, cook supper. On the days I have class I pull out my crock pot. Since I have to leave at 4:30 PM and don't get home until 7 some nights and 9 some nights, I try to eat before I leave and then I take snacks with me. It is a challenge, but it's a challenge that will build a stronger you.
So, needless to say, my blogs are going to come at a slower pace. It stinks because I have so much that I still want to write about, but this is not a high priority over my school work. I still hope to inspire and help. If you are trying to decide to go back to school, DO IT! I'd be more than happy to help you if you need some help with making the decision!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Small Steps to Healthy

     Anymore, it seems everywhere you turn you hear about people going green. Not just the recycling and reusing way, but also in the way they eat. Our society has become so fast paced that we have also become lazy. Sacrificing health over convenience has become the lifestyle. A while back, I became committed to turning that around and sacrificing convenience for health. It's important for me and my family so they can also grow up to pass it on their families and so forth. This isn't an easy change to make. You have to take small, slow steps to get there. My goal is not to make my family vegan, or fully organic, but to make the better choice. So I am going to share with you a few small, easy changes I made and maybe I can help someone else along their journey!

1. Whole Grains
     Whole grains are important to our bodies, and should be a part of our everyday diet. (FYI: A LOT of people confuse the word 'diet' with losing weight. Your diet is how you eat, healthy or not. You don't go on a diet, you change it.) Adding even just a serving in your daily consumption can help reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. I'm SOLD!!! And with the awareness of healthy nutrition becoming high, it is not difficult to fit them into a meal or snack. Many cereals are now made with more whole grains, and you find them in something as simple as a granola bar. Personally, I have started buying Egg-O waffles made with whole grain (I prefer the Honey Oat flavor) and White Whole Grain Bunny Bread. Both still taste as good and no one notices a difference at all. The waffles are even good enough, I can eat them without syrup! Visit The Whole Grains Council to learn more about the benefits of whole grains.

2. Don't Fry, Bake
     Can you believe we don't even own a fryer?? When I was dating my husband I gasped at the fact he didn't own one. How in the world am I supposed to make french fries? Bake them! If I wanted to fry up something for supper, chicken or fish, I would just use a skillet. And to be honest, that is a lot of effort and grease I don't like to deal with, so most of the time I just bake or grill our meats. For french fries we sprinkle some seasoned salt or even just pepper and bake them. Preheat your oven to 450 and pop them in. Even things like cheese sticks, bake em. Most froze, packaged items come with instructions for the oven. Everything still tastes as good, and who needs all that oil??

3. No Cokes, Soda, Pop...
     I know there are people out there who think I am just cruel because I won't let my son drink cokes. Not even every now and then. I don't want him to like them. When I feel like he is capable of making the right, healthy choices, then he can have one. But right now, being that he is three, he doesn't know about healthy food, so it is up to me and my husband, and the rest of the adults in my family to educate him and make those decisions for him. We don't even buy cokes to keep in our home. Yes, I do drink coke every now and then, but I do it leisurely and in moderation. There is not one beneficial thing about drinking cokes. Not even diet cokes. If there is any benefit, it's not worth the risks. It is terrible for your teeth, digestion, heart, blood, brain and the list goes on. See this chart from Term Life Insurance about what happens to your body when you drink coke. It's not just the sugar (which now they use high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten a lot of food and drinks now), it's also the caffine. Caffine is a drug. And yes, you can become addicted to it just like any other drug!  I'm not saying write out cokes completely, but I'd suggest not even drink one a day. I drink MAYBE one a week. I did get headaches when I made this transition, but I powered through. For me, it's more about having something with a little flavor. I have a hard time just drinking water. I will fill up a pitcher of water, throw in some squeezed lemon and sliced cucumber. It's a tasty and healthy drink. I also make decaffinated tea and not much sugar. Cokes are difficult to cut out, but you can do it!!!

4. Stop buying your dinner in a box and cook!
     This is where a big sacrifice of convenience comes in. Those hamburger helpers and 'just add meat' dinners are packed with sodium and most likely contain msg (monosodium glutamate). In case you didn't know already, msg is BAD. It is found in most processed foods. You can find more info about msg here, At the right seasons, check out your local farmers market for fresh veggies to make it even better.
     If you are a busy family, pre-make your seasonings to keep on hand. Here is a recipe for taco seasoning, the family loves it! With places out there like Pinterest there are endless resources for making your own of anything. Keep a few frozen meals you can just throw in the crock pot in the mornings and it's done when you get home. They are healthier and tastier. Yes, you may have to cut a few of your own veggies. But you can buy food choppers and slicers to help that process along.

There you have it! It's not much and I'm sure I will come up with more later. Just remember, everything in moderation. Make good and healthy eating choices, not just for you but for your family and your family's future.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Babysitting is WORK!!

There isn't much more that irks me than when my husband comes home from work, sits on the couch and proclaims, "Why are you so tired? I work all day." Though I know he is kidding, it still makes my blood pressure rise a little, and that is why he says it.
I made the decision one and a half years ago to quit my full-time job as a graphic designer to stay home with my son. However, the only way that would be made possible was if I started babysitting. Easy-peasy, right? No. It didn't take long for me to pick up 4-5 kids, some part time and some full-time. And didn't take long to realize how UNDERPAID babysitters are! We make an average of $2.50/hr per hour! I don't expect to get each parents income or anything. However, it is one of the most rewarding, yet under-appreciated jobs. We are not lazy. This is something we CHOOSE.
Babysitters don't just sit there and watch kids play, we cover many jobs: teacher, nurse, speech therapist, chef, nutritionist, time manager, referee... We teach your kids to share. We change their poopy diapers. Assist them to the potty. Help them learn responsibilities. We get pulled on. Spit up on. Tackled. We listen to whining, crying, complaining. Kiss boo-boos. And it's worth it when you get rewarded with snuggles, kisses and hugs. We organized strict routines, with strict nap-times. Once we get time to breathe, the UPS man bangs on the door, waking up 2 or 3 kids. (Nap time is VERY sacred in this house!!)
There are times when we have to, very awkwardly, remind a parent to pay us. That is our income, just like you have your income. At the end of the week we have bills to pay just like anyone else. I've had many weeks where I had to skimp on groceries because I didn't make enough that week to pay my bill and groceries. And I have a family of 5!! Don't complain about how much you have to pay your babysitter because you could have to send your child to a day care. Instead, show your babysitter how much they are appreciated for their service. And if any of my parents are reading this, I'm not talking directly to any of you!! As with any workplace, when you show your employee's appreciation, you will get better results and hard work because they feel as though they are worth it!

My 'babies'
All the kiddos after nap time!
My Summer kiddos!
This is just my statement, my opinion. I love the kids I keep, and I will miss them when I have to start back to school full-time. Just think before you make a negative comment about babysitters. If it's so easy, then why doesn't everyone do it? It requires so much more patience than anyone could ever realize. So my challenge... hug a babysitter today, let them know how much they mean!