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Currently – 8/26/2014

August 26, 2014
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currently - 8/26/2014

Growing baby maters and canteloupe but the edamame and basil sadly kicked the bucket.

Beginning the countdown to seeing Hootie… one week!

Re-reading The Giver with J-slice (his first time) and I’m loving every word just like every other time I’ve read it.

Planning fun things for the three-day weekend ahead!

Organizing my art and craft supplies – thanks to my Mom’s help – so I can actually use what I have.

Needing to get some restful sleep.

Worrying about my knees and the physical therapy required to get them back to functioning properly.

Appreciating that John and I have been able to plan together without arguing or having any miscommunication.

Envying those that have been traveling lately, yet I opted to stay home this weekend. File that under #makesnosense

Eating a crap ton of eggs in all forms recently.

Hopping back on the green smoothie train after consuming weeks of cottage cheese with fruit for breakfast.

Feeling proud of J-slice for starting 6th grade tomorrow, of John for getting a great review at work, and myself for making a few things happen for my soccer league!

What’s currently going on in your life?

PS – I know. I just squeaked this post into the 26th. It’s actually 11:30pm right now. Oops. More on-time fun to come later in the week, hopefully!

Web Wandering

August 22, 2014

web wandering

Woohoo! It’s Friday! Killing time at work till 5pm? Or want to read some fun things this weekend? Let’s wander the web together!

I have to start off with the concept of brainwriting, something I do fairly often at my job and absolutely love. (Found via Elise’s weekend links)

Before peach season ends, you better believe I’ll be making this caramelized peach, mascarpone, and dark chocolate grilled cheese. Sounds odd and also insanely delicious.

I am guilty of some common email blunders; our clients at work are generally older so I guess I get away with it. Regardless, I should probably learn how to send better email.

If you feel a little self-conscious or inferior at times, here’s how to be confident and passionate.

Ever go to write a blog post and feel like your brain is completely blank? Write about the last thing you learned.

Summer and Fall to me speak “s’mores everything!” Let’s s’more up some cookies with this s’mores chocolate chip cookie cake.

I love love love this concept of earning your sleep by doing something you’re proud of and being the best you that you can be.

I’m considering creating a 30 Before 30 list and for each item on it, I will be asking myself these questions.

Have you been wandering the web too? Got something to share? Link to it in the comments!

Southern Travels: Summer Vacation Wrap-Up

August 21, 2014

Students are heading back to school this week and next week which marks the unofficial end of summer. I figured I should do a wrap-up post from our summer vacation to North Carolina before it doesn’t feel like summer anymore! I have a random smattering of photos I want to share with you!

Our summer vacation this year consisted of a roadtrip around various parts of “North Cackalacky,” including the US National Whitewater CenterNC Zoo, and Carolina Beach.

We got in lots of quality time with John’s three nieces and nephew, as well as with his brother and sister-in-law.

John and nephew A

The two oldest girls and I baked a cake together. I almost typed “cookies” because we always bake cookies… but not this time. They cleaned up in their signature classy style of bowl-licking.

niece E cleaning after baking cookies

The cake was for J-slice’s birthday. He turned 12 shortly after our trip but we wanted to celebrate with the family. Plus, umm, any reason for sprinkles, right?!

J-slice's 12th birthday in NC

After a major slight argument and begging on my part, we spent a large chunk of a day at Carowinds amusement park. You know how much I love rollercoasters!

John and J-slice at Carowinds

The Carowinds property crosses into South Carolina so there are several areas where you are crossing between the two states. Or in the boys’ case, you can straddle the border.

John and J-slice on the NC and SC border at Carowinds

Letting his nerd side show, John wanted a picture with Dale Earnhardt. I’m not sure that’s a blog-worthy highlight but John looks darn handsome here so I’ll let it slide. To each his own.

John with Dale Earnhardt

Short and sweet! Just wanted to wrap up sharing our vacation with you guys. It’s been on my to-do list forever so I can finally check it off. Best feeling ever!

I have a friend (who’s reading right now, probably!) who didn’t take a summer vacation. Whaaaaaat?! Crazytown. The only excuse I will accept if you’re in the same boat is that you spent all of your vacation days on skiing.

So tell me about your summer vacay! Are you a relaxer or an adventurer? Do you like to stay near or go far? Do you save up for nine months or just wing it and pay for it after the fact?

How Do You Have Fun?

August 20, 2014

I’m kind of a serious person. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that. I don’t drink, dance, sing karaoke, get loud, or anything like that.

My brand of fun is more like adventure, travel, exploring, trying new things. My fun looks like ziplining in Montana:

Big Sky zipline2

And snowboarding in France:

snowboarding Val d'Isere February 2014

And wakeboarding in Georgia:

wakeboarding

Three different people told me recently that I need to have more fun. Enjoy life! Live it up! Don’t take things so seriously!

How the heck do I do that???

Seriously, I need your help: how do you have fun? What do you enjoy? It could be a daily activity, an annual trip, or a once-every-ten-years sort of thing. All of those, actually. I need ideas that cover everything! The only ideas I have right now are travel and active-related.

Is it sad that I need help having fun? Yes I think so. Pathetic. So look at my plea for help as your chance to significantly improve my life! Thank you!

How I Motivate Myself to Get Active

August 19, 2014

It’s like first grade around here. I’m armed with a chart and star stickers!

When it comes to motivation, there are a few things that work particularly well to keep my head in the game:

  • Rewards: an exciting activity, a trip, food (probably not a great idea given my goal here)
  • Making plans to do something with a loved one
  • Competing against myself or others
  • Giving myself a deadline
  • Making a goal known because then everyone asks me about it

In my quest to get active, I’m employing all of these techniques but in different ways. I’ll share details about them in the weeks to come but today I want to show you one super easy motivational tactic that combines rewards, having a workout partner, competition, a deadline, and making a goal public.

I present to you my star calendar!

Get Active calendar star chart

Every time I’m active, I get a star. If it’s a minor thing, like a quick walk around the neighborhood, I get a small star. If it’s something I got sweaty doing and know I got a good workout, I get a big star. Right now my goal is to get a minimum of four big stars per week.

Here’s how it meets my motivational needs:

  • Reward: I get a sticker! It’s some combination of nostalgia, color, and pride that makes this work for me. So simple.
  • Workout partner: I plan ahead to make sure I can get at least four activities in a week. If I know someone has set aside time to do something with me (a personal trainer, soccer friends, my family, or a walking buddy), I’m infinitely more likely to follow through, even if I’m not feeling it. Plus, I get to see people I like and catch up with them! Win-win.
  • Competition: I could go for a streak (July 28 to August 4 was eight days), or how many times I take a certain class in a month, or see if a friend wants to keep a star calendar and have a friendly competition.
  • Deadline: I printed out the calendar pages for the months I’m going to work super hard. That doesn’t mean I’ll be glued to the couch after that time frame, it just means there’s a built-in point where I can assess my needs and readjust as necessary.
  • Make a goal public: The calendar hangs on my fridge which I pass a hundred times a day, and the boys and anyone who comes over can see it too. I can look at it and think, “make sure you do something active this weekend!” or “damn I’m doing well!”

Get Active calendar star chart on the fridge

My other “trick” is to put a sticky note on the bottom of the calendar with a full week of planned workouts, Monday through Sunday. That way I know ahead of time exactly where I need to be, what I’ll be doing, and can mentally prepare myself to be in the mood for it. Plus that tells me if I need to pack clothes at nite to do something right after work.

I’ve been using my star calendar for a month now and it’s working well for me. I love that it’s right in front of me at all times, cheering me on and reminding me of what I need to know. I sometimes feel compelled to get a sticker on every day – which is possible but could be tiring – but then I remind myself of my long-term goal and toss perfection aside. That’s a big deal for this Type-A perfectionist.

I know other people have used blank four-days-per-week charts, training plans, or sign up for a regular class and just do that. This star calendar allows me to mix things up. I’m usually more of a structure kinda girl but the flexibility this style of fitness tracking provides works much better for my schedule.

Have you ever used stickers to motivate yourself? What works well for you? I’d love to hear different approaches to motivation. I think this calendar works well for being active but other styles might apply better to some other form of habit change, like trying to read daily or limiting TV time to a certain amount per week. Share your tips with me, please!

I Am a Mom

August 18, 2014

I got my hair trimmed the other day from a woman who has known me since I was eight. We’ve had many long, deep conversations over the years; I always got along with her as much, if not more, than her kids who are my age. This particular appointment’s conversation centered around the struggles of co-parenting with a former spouse, something she’s experiencing with her grandson. She was so engrossed in my stories of what John and I have been through with J-slice that she stopped blow-drying my hair so she could fully hear me and pay attention.

It’s odd to me that I have something to share about parenting that can help someone else. This parenting situation I’m in is really quite confusing, on top of all the normal “being a parent is the toughest job there is” stuff.

J-slice & me redheads 1st day of school August 2013

As she wrapped up my appointment by styling my hair with a curling iron, she said something that has stuck with me and has been rolling around in my head. “You’re a great mom. It must be hard sometimes. If something happened and you and John broke up, you would be devastated. You wouldn’t have the same relationship with his son.”

Well, I guess that’s obvious and true for any family situation. What hit me particularly hard was the realization that, yeah, I do consider myself a mom. If John and I broke up, what would I be then? A former mom? No one has that title. It’s not a role in J-slice’s life. It’s a non-role.

me, John, J-slice - As game - June 2014

I wonder how parents feel who go through the heartbreaking loss of a child. They’re still parents; they feel like a parent, they have the experience of a parent. And yet, there’s no funny, messy, sweet human to raise and guide and love. I know it’s not the same, but it’s still a loss.

Janelle and J-slice at the beach

My feet are firmly planted in the mom role. I’ve realized that even if J-slice wasn’t in my life anymore, I’d still be a mom. Somehow. I’d still feel like a mom anyway. I think maybe I’ve always been a mom. It’s a feeling, a mind-set, a whole different world view. I’ve always been motherly with my friends, keeping them out of trouble or talking them out of doing something just because it’s what others are doing. And I’m a kitty mom!

Janelle & J-slice Atlantic City January 2014

So while I’m not J-slice’s biological or legal mom, or step-mom, or even engaged to his dad to become his step-mom, and I don’t know for sure if that will ever happen, I am a mom. 

I’m a mom because I treat people with kindness, I laugh and play with kids, I look out for others, I want the best for people, and I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and grow.

I’m a mom because I’ve had amazing experiences over the last four years of parenting J-slice: helping with homework, teaching new skills, experiencing things through his eyes for the first time, listening when someone was being a jerk to him.

I’m a mom because I feel it in my heart.

If the day comes where J-slice and I are no longer in each other’s lives, at least I have the memories and experience of these four wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, fun, and adventurous years we’ve had together.

PS – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you feel strongly about this topic, feel free to write your own “I Am a Mom” post and comment with a link!

Friday Fun: Grandpa Humor

August 15, 2014

My Grandpa was a pastor up until his late 80s so he can dazzle you with a story about pretty much everything. His delivery is on point and there’s always a lesson or witty punchline. Sometimes both.

Grandpa's card stack - 90th birthday - April 2014

After announcing my plan to get active, my Grandpa emailed me the following:

After starting a new diet, I altered my drive to work to avoid passing my favorite bakery. I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and as I approached, there in the window were a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed … “Lord, it’s up to you, if you want me to have any of those delicious goodies, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery.” And sure enough, on the eighth time around the block, there it was! God is so good!”

Yep, my Grandpa knows what’s up. He’s playful, funny, extremely intelligent, and interested in my well-being. That man is one of a kind.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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