Friday, March 30, 2012

Energy Favorites

This is a much-anticipated day for me. It has been a long-time goal of mine to pursue running once I was done having children. Well, that day is here and my dream is about to be realized. I am at the peak of my training, and in just over 4 weeks I will be competing in my first-ever half-marathon. As with anything else in life, I take on a holistic approach when it comes to running. My training consists of much more than just going out and running; it requires preparation of the mind, body, and even the soul. As I have learned in childbirth, to be successful you must make the mind run the body and not the other way around. You must start with the end in mind. I have been a health-conscious person my entire life, and running has given me the opportunity to explore products from a new venue. Being that I am Mormon and do not drink coffee, it has been a bit of a challenge to find energy from natural sources, but it is a challenge that I welcome. I have always been a naturalist and consider it a privilege to discover the health benefits of all the bounty God has placed on the earth.

The first product I discovered is Gu. I have not had much of a chance to develop a relationship with it as of yet, but as I get into the longer runs of 10 and 12 miles, it will be essential to have a quick, readily-available energy source that will not be heavy in my stomach. Gu is just that. It provides 100 calories and just enough sodium to aid in that second wind. I have experimented with it on my 4 and 5 mile runs, and will definitely be packing it in the coming weeks. I hear it is provided at aid stations along the race course.
Another favorite: kale. I prefer the local, organic farmer's market variety. My favorite way to consume it is in a smoothie, usually paired with soy milk and almond butter for protein. I have a green smoothie after every run which provides excellent recovery and rejuvenation. After I injured my knee and had to take two weeks off, I would imagine the healing properties of kale going straight to my knee and it worked! Dark green, leafy kale has so many energizing nutrients.
This is a new one that I hear is gaining rapid popularity: chia seeds. Remember the ch-ch-ch-chia gardens that people used to grow in the 80s? Yes, these are the ones. Who knew the chia seed had such amazing health benefits? Apparently they retain water, keeping you hydrated longer, maintain the electrolytes in your body, and give you a feeling of fullness. They're said to have more Omega-3s than salmon, more calcium than spinach, and are antioxidant-rich. They digest easily and do not need to be ground up like flaxseed. They are endurance-enhancing and are known as the "Indian Running Food." Apparently they were also used by the Aztec warriors during conquest. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to store them yet, but you can bet I'll be tossing back a handful of these on race day.
Aaahhh, coconut water. Transport me to a tropical oasis. Coconut water is more hydrating than regular water, contains sodium and electrolytes, more potassium than a banana, and is like a mini vacation for your tastebuds. I love coconut water as a recovery drink after a long run. (The best price I've found on it is at Trader Joe's, although if you can find it with mango puree the taste is so much better.)
Okay, so Mate has been a favorite of mine for about two years. Revered in Argentina as "the drink of the gods," Mate is the most popular drink in South America. It is entirely herbal yet packs about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. I find it to be a very "clean" energy high without jitteriness. It awakens the senses and is used as a "carrier" for other herbs. It contains many nutrients and can be enjoyed year-round; I like it hot with cream and agave in the winter months, and enjoy it iced with milk for a mate latte in the summer.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Children's Museum and Other Fun Stuff

Last week we had the opportunity of visiting the Children's Museum in Stockton. It was a bit of a drive, but so much fun!

They had several simulations of real-life professions. Here are the girls at the "sandwich shop."
Kaitlyn really liked ringing the bell on this diagram of a cow. I learned that on a farm, they feed baby cows small magnets to keep any scrap metal that is accidentally ingested from entering their intestines.
Kaitlyn loading her basket up with produce- guess she's learned a thing or two from all those trips with me down to the farmer's market!
...and shopping for dry goods...
Here's Ashlee checking her out. The kids really liked the grocery scanner.
Rachel's turn to make a sandwich!
This was the front half of a real helicopter, complete with lights and sounds.
Jacob said he "may" be a police officer when he grows up =)
The free face-painting station was a hit.
I had put a butterfly on Kaitlyn's cheek, but she wiped it off in favor of one of Katie's full-face creations.

It turned out nice, don't you think?
Jacob was in heaven when he discovered this Lego table.
It had better be the only time I see this girl in the back of a police car!!
After a couple hours of playing we discovered this nice outdoor play yard where we could eat our lunch. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. The kids had fun playing on the playground and meeting other kids. Here are the girls being "butterflies and angels" on their way back into the museum.
After lunch we ventured into the art room, where they had tons of art supplies and craft tables for the kids. This was our last activity as we were winding down. This was a great homeschool field trip!
This week Anthony discovered finger puffs... and loves them! Would we expect anything less?
Some of them kind of dribble down his chin, but he still gets the flavor.
I am absolutely loving this time with two babies. I think Rachel is discovering that Anthony is blossoming into a fun playmate!
We were given one of these fun Flinstones cars the other day, and my kids have been having a blast with it.
Rachel pretty much claimed it as hers from the get-go. She was hilarious and would scream when anyone tried to touch it or come near it on the first day.
The kids have been spending LOTS of time up in the field (a.k.a. mud) collecting things and making a mess. The other day they came in the house with 2 snakes, a frog, and a lizard. I thought it was cute that they each had their own "pet."
Yes, they are definitely enjoying spring. Sometimes my inner voice wants to shout, "Get out of the mud!" But, I'd much rather have them playing in mud than inside playing video games. Dirt is healthy for kids.
Ashlee's obsession this past week has been The Hunger Games. I took her to see it on Friday night, and here she is with her Katniss braid. She also made herself a tee-shirt with the Mockingjay logo on it.
Mmmmm... a pear and goat cheese pizza I made the other night... one for me and one for a friend!
Kaitlyn being a sweet girl with the marble run. She thought I was taking a video so she kept doing these silly faces.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patty's Day 2012

Ashlee really wanted to go all out for St. Patrick's Day this year. We had a brief discussion on the history of St. Patrick; who he was, why his life was significant (he brought Christianity to Ireland) and why we wear green and decorate with 3-leaf clovers. The kids had their traditional breakfast of green Lucky Charms, and I placed a corned beef with cabbage in the crockpot.

Ashlee (my little party planner) hosted a shin-dig with a few friends from church. She, of course, gets credit for all of the decorations.
Hard at work making the rainbow-layer cupcakes.
I'm not sure who took these shots, but I really like them!
Kaitlyn busied herself with stickers while the girls made their green hairbows.
A look inside the rainbow cupcakes:
I served them pizza and green Sprite.
Later that night I stepped out to go to the store, and Ashlee surprised me by shaping the bread into a 3-leaf clover and mixing up some green butter to go along with dinner. That girl! So much creative energy she has. At this rate she'll be planning her own wedding. =)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Curriculum!

Our new curriculum arrived on Friday, and as always, I'm tickled!! I had heard about a new place called Lakeshore Learning from a couple of friends who recommended it for their "hands-on" items. One of the things we ordered was this ladybug house; our live ladybug larvae are on their way! I am really looking forward to doing this one with the kids.
I also had the brilliant idea to order book bins for the many wonderful books that, until now, have been hiding on our shelf unread. I find this is a much more functional way of displaying the books and getting use out of them. It has the feel of a personal homeschool library right in our dining room!
For geography, we ordered this United States floor puzzle. Jacob and I had fun putting it together, and it reminded me of the old days (when I had fewer kids) and we used to sit down and do his rainforest floor puzzle all the time. I had fun quizzing him afterwards.
And, thanks to Naomi's suggestion, to go along with math we now have a play cash register! We spent a good couple of hours playing store, buying "merchandise" from around the house, and making change. I can honestly say this was the most enjoyable school day we've had in a long time.
These guys are happy to have some new toys too. =)

Dressing the Fairies

Isn't this so cute!!?? I left the kids alone downstairs the other afternoon and they played so quietly, and when I came down I found that Ashlee had done this: crafted all of Kaitlyn's fairies unique clothes out of patterned duct tape, right down to their boots! I love this. =)

Thursday, March 8, 2012


The freedom of homeschooling, new sod in the backyard, and sunny 70 degree weather equals a recipe for happiness. That is what I saw in my kids today. On days like this I can't even bring myself to pull them in for school work... so we consider it P.E.

Nevermind the mattress perched on the picnic table; adventures in night time potty training (did you know sunshine is the best antibacterial?) And as you can see by the blue streak on Rachel's nose, they've been enjoying some face paint. Shall we call it art?