Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am taking the challenge

If you have read my blog long enough, you will have noticed that I have mentioned, on more than one occasion, that I would like to get my weight down some more. And I would like to totally clean up my eating.  And I have. For about a week. Or until I get too busy to think about it.  Or it's Donut Sunday at our church.

It is not that I think I need to lose weight, but more so, I want to be healthier.  I want to be in better shape.  I know that if the number on the scale goes down, my running paces get faster.  I know I feel so much better when I am eating SPOT ON CLEAN.  And I have been so off lately.  I have a horrible habit of starting to eat whatever I want while I am training for a marathon (because I can . . .when I burn over 1,000 calories in a workout, a few potato chips or a bowl of ice cream, do not affect me that much).  But, when the marathon is over and I am still eating the potato chips and ice cream, I have a problem.  That problem starts to show on the scale when my running drops to single digit mileage in a week and my other workouts are not quite as rigorous.  And that is what has happened in the last few weeks.  The number on the scale jumped up a few pounds.

So, with my IT band acting up and my running limited to almost nothing, I started to feel lost.  I had no physical goal set for myself.  No PRs to get.  No marathon to run.  And when I do not have a goal, I flounder.  Almost two weeks ago, I decided it was time to set a physical goal for myself again.  I needed something to work toward.  And getting my weight down to my goal weight was a natural goal to choose.  After reading a couple of popular "diet" and running books, I was shocked to see what my ideal weight really should be.  It is the number that I have always wanted to work toward, but a number I did not think I could achieve. But, I am going for it.

Actually, I have already started.  I started at the beginning of this week.  My diet has been squeaky clean.  I even gave up coffee (I did not need to, but I am a flavored creamer gal and that stuff needed to go!).  I have been doing Insanity every day.  I have been keeping a daily journal of what I need to eat and everything that I do eat.  I feel great and I have already lost weight.

So, when I saw Run With Jess' post on the marathon and half marathon weight loss challenge, I jumped on board.  I love the accountability. I love the idea of winning prizes too!

And it just so happens, as of today, I am 13 lbs away from my goal weight!

Go check out the challenge and join on in!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Park Quest: Wye Island

Last weekend, our family went on a few more Quests.  So far, my favorite has been Wye Island.  Wye Island is on the Eastern Shore in Maryland.  It is an Old Growth Forest. Basically, there are lots of old, tall trees. It was really beautiful.  The Quest itself was simple.  You had to go to one of the information boards in the park, read the information on the board and fill out a cross word puzzle.  But, if you were not so adventuresome, and looked closely enough, you would notice that the park had a completed cross word puzzle on the board, along with the secret word you were supposed to find.  Once my kids saw that, they implored me to stop reading and just copy the answers so we could hike.
At the start of the trail.  Fueling up with Oreos!
The fuel worked!!

This Quest took us on a trail through part of the old growth forest.  The path was beautiful. And, as with all parks we have been to, it was loaded with ticks!  Yuck!  Yet, even with those little pests, we enjoyed the hike through the woods. 

250 year old Holly Tree
The Quest then took us to an 250 year old Holly tree where we had to get a rubbing for our passport book.  After that, we were done with the quest, but decided to explore the park a bit more.  We were on an island and the boys had yet to really see much water, so we found a 1 mile trail that took you to a "little beach" along the water.  This path was so pretty.  The color was indescribable and I do not think the camera truly captured its beauty.  We enjoyed the walk and the boys had fun swinging from vines.  Once we could see that we were getting closer to the water, the boys started to run.  The beach was tiny, but the boys did not care.  Off came their shoes and socks and they played in the water.  There was a rope "swing" in a tree and the boys loved swinging out over the water.  If they had their bathing suits on, I am sure they would have swung over the water and let go!

We really enjoyed our afternoon at Wye Island State Park.  I am so glad that we are doing ParkQuest.  It has been so much fun so far.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: The tastes of Buffalo

I grew up near Buffalo, NY.  While living there, I would never have considered Buffalo to be a mecca for unique foods and culinary delights.  Little did I know.  Now that I have been anyway from the area for YEARS, I have come to appreciate Western New York's Culinary Uniqueness.  I am amazed that there are websites devoted to Buffalo foods so that those of us who have been transported somewhere else can still enjoy some of the tastes from home.  And here are 7 of  them:

1. Chiavetta's sauce

This is one I had not even really missed until my parent's brought some down for my hubby's graduation party.  Chiavetta's sauce is really just a marinade. But a really good one!  I remember driving around the local roads of WNY and seeing firehouses and churches have weekend Chiavetta's BBQs!

2. Ted's Hot Dogs and Hot Dog Sauce

Growing up in the Buffalo area (and having the Dad I do), hot dogs were a staple in our diet.  And Ted's Hot Dogs was a regular family night eating out.  Until I left, I never realized that hot dog "restaurants" were unique to the WNY region and that not all hot dogs are created equal.  Each time my parents come to visit, they are usually armed with several pounds of Sahlen Hot Dogs and Ted's Hot Dogs Hot Sauce.  Apparently, not all hot sauces are created equal either!

3. Pierogi and bunches of other Polish foods
Pierogi, Chrusciki, Placek, Bobka (With extra icing.  My grandmother ALWAYS asked for extra icing!).  Cannot pronounce these names?  Do not worry, I had a Polish grandma, so these were staple words in our vocabulary growing up.  But, I have been shocked to live in many regions of the country where Polish people do reside, and these foods are NOT common, except for the pathetic pierogi version that can be bought in the grocery store freezer isle.  

4. Beef on weck

This is a roast beef sandwich on a roll, a  kummelweck roll to be exact.  Do not know what one is??  It is a hard roll, with sea salt and rye seeds on top.  And the roast beef?  Definitely NOT Arbys.  It is so much better.  Picture tender, medium rare beef slices and on a nice fresh roll.  So good!

5. Buffalo wings
I know everyone has heard of Buffalo Wings!  And I am proud to say they got their humble beginnings at Anchor Bar (link has story of how they got started) . . . right in Buffalo, NY!

6. Sponge candy

I still remember the dish of the squares covered in chocolate at my grandparent's house.  I miss this sugary, crunchy, light as air treat!

7. Weber's condiments
Horseradish mustard, Picalilli sauce.   Yummy and still staples in our refrigerator!

Are there any foods that you miss from where you grew up?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to have park rangers searching for you (ParkQuest: Cedarville)

My family is participating in Park Quest this year.  A friend recommended it to us and luckily we were able to get in (it fills FAST!).  Simply put, there are approximately 25 state parks that you can visit over the summer that have set up "quests" for teams to complete.  They are fairly easy so the whole family can enjoy.

For our first Quest, I took the boys to Cedarville State Forest .  This is one of the closer quests to our house and I decided to go without my husband.  He will be travelling for work and will have to miss some of the quests, so I decided I might as well see how one goes without my husband.

This quest seemed fairly simple.  We get to the park, go to the ranger station, sign in and get the directions to find the letterboxes.  There are 4 in the park, but you only need to find two to get the "stamp" in your Quest Passport.  We decided to find the one closest to the ranger station first. So we left our car in the parking lot and headed down the trail.  The trail was really nice and wound through the woods.  We found the first box quickly and easily.  I started to read the instructions to find the next letterbox.  It was on the white trail and we were on the red.  The instructions told us to get into our car and head to a different parking lot.  I checked the map and noticed the white and the red trail met up.  I asked the boys, "Do you want to walk to the next letterbox or drive?"  They were all up for a walk through the woods, so we headed down the path toward the white trail.

Beaver dam

Beaver work

The boys enjoyed the walk.  The trail meandered through the forest.  There were wooden walkways and bridges over streams.  The boys explored and slowed every time they saw a turtle or a toad hopping across the path.  About 1 mile into the hike, we met up with the white trail.  We were still quite a distance from where we would find the letter box.  I began to realize that my brilliant idea to walk to the second letterbox may have been a mistake.  A half mile later, the boys began to ask if we could turn around and just drive to the next part of the quest.  I had to explain to them that we needed to press on and just get to the letterbox.  That, at this point, it would take longer to go back to the car and then walk to the letterbox than it would to continue on.

Letterbox 2
We finally found the letterbox, along with a few more ticks (yuck!).  By this time we had walked over 2.5 miles and took two hours.  I did not want it to take that long to get back, so I told the boys that we would not stop for anything.  My 4 yr old, who had already been carried a good deal, remained in my arms.  I did not want his tiredness to slow us down.  So I carried him most of the 2.5 miles back to the car.

We made great time back.  While still on the trail, but within view of the parking lot, we saw a ranger on an ATV trying to head down the trail.  He saw us and stopped.  I thought he was just waiting for us to pass him.  As we walked passed him, he asked if we had gotten lost.  I thought it was strange that he asked that, considering he was NOT the ranger we talked to in the office.  But I told him "No" and that we had decided to walk from the red to the white trail to the second letterbox.  He just looked at me funny.  As we walked toward the ranger office, the ranger on the ATV zoomed passed us and parked in front of the office.

Then it dawned on me.  I asked, "Were you going to look for US?"  

His response, "Yes.  That Quest normally takes 15 minutes.  You were gone for 3 hours.  With three young kids, we thought you got lost or something happened to you.  There are rangers out looking for you.  We were about 30 min from calling the police."

Oops.  I felt horrible.  Did we really cause that much of a scare??  I walked into the office and the first ranger I saw (again, Not the one I talked to when we checked in) said, "You are back!  We are so glad you are back.  You had us worried!"  

I once again explained what we did.  The ranger seemed incredulous that I would walk that far with kids.  Then the ranger whom checked us in came from the back of the office.  She kept repeating, "I was so worried. I thought something happened to you or one of the kids." (She was a grandmotherly type).  She offered the boys fresh bottles of water (I am sure she feared that they had not had any water the whole hike). I tried to minimize it as much as possible.  I apologized over and over again for causing such concern.  We were fine. I had taken a back pack with my cell phone, bug spray, waters for everyone and snacks.  We were not lost, just out for a fun hike.

We got our passport stamped and then headed to the car.  As I was getting the boys settled in their seats and giving them more food, another ranger in a pick up truck stopped and asked , "Is this your van?" I said, "Yes."  He then proceeded to explain that he had been out looking for us! Oh,boy! At that point I wanted to just crawl out of the park and not go back!!

We are probably black listed anyways! ;)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chestertown Tea Party Parade and Festival

I am really behind in posting this!

My oldest son started taking fife lessons about 7 months ago.  He is taking them through a member of a fife and drum corps.  Twice a month, we head up to Baltimore so that he can meet his teacher during the corps' practices.  He loves taking the lessons and loves hearing the corps practice. It really helps him to practice more between lessons. It keeps him focused on what he is working toward.  And that is someday playing with the corps.

Until then, they have invited him to be a part of their color guard.  Basically, it means he can march with them in parades.  His first parade with them was at the Chestertown Tea Party Festival.

So proud!

We got to Chestertown about an hour before the parade was to start and we made our way to the parade line up.  We quickly found the corps.  J got his tricorn hat.  I have to tell you, this boy rarely gives me a genuine smile in a picture, but I took a picture of him when he first put on the hat and he was beaming!! He was so proud.  About 15 minutes before the start of the parade, I left with my other two boys to find a spot along the parade route.  My hubby stayed with J and walked the route on the sidewalk "along side" the corps.

My two younger boys and I waited anxiously for the parade to start.  First came the military color guard, followed by the town crier, heralding the start of the parade and festival.  J's corps was one of the first groups in the parade.  I have never heard them perform outside of their practices and they sounded great!! J was so focused on his duty to carry the flag . . . he gets such a serious face and will not smile even for a picture!!!

After the parade, I met up with J and my husband and we walked around the festival and grabbed some lunch.  The Tea Party festival is basically a large street fair that began around a "re-enactment" of the Boston Tea Party.  Well, that is not totally accurate.  They act out a Tea Party that is celebrated in Chestertown to show the town's solidarity with their compatriots in Boston.  The boys could not wait to see this!  The re-enactment began in the middle of town and the crowds followed the colonials to the shore.  There was shooting along the way. A Loyalist regiment was attempting to stop the patriots from getting to the docks.  They were unsuccessful.  We slipped our way through the crowd to get a good view of the activity on the boat.  The patriots rowed out and threw tea, along with some British, overboard.
Fighting in the street

Rowing out for the Tea Party

Jam session
Once the reenactment was over, we headed to a corps member's home for a party. The party consisted of the fife a drum corps members, their family members, and the families of other re-enactors and fifers and drummers that were in Chestertown for the festival.  We had a great time! There was a fife and drum "jam session" after dinner. J became an official member of the Corps (he has been waiting for this day for months!!).  The day ended with traditional colonial dancing. I danced with J and I have to tell you, he was much better at following the directions of the caller than I was!!
Becoming an official corps member

J with his member certificate and two of the corps fifers!

Friday, June 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1.  We have a new family member in the house.  His name is Harry.
He is a carnivorous plant called a sundew sent to us by my brother.  A month ago, we read a chapter about carnivorous plants.  Ever since then, my oldest has been begging me to get one.  I texted my brother, who had the same love for carnivorous plants as a child , and still does (he has a green house with several varieties).  He promptly asked if he could send my oldest one.  This week this plant, along with a book called the Savage Garden arrived at our home.  My son, whom I usually have to threaten in order for him to open a book and read the pages, has been pouring over his new book for days.  Yesterday, all of my boys were out searching for bugs to feed this little guy.  I totally do not get the fascination, but it is fun to watch!

2. For Greater Glory
Opens today.  Go see it.  I have to say that I pray nothing like this will come to pass in our own country, but I do wonder with the way things are going if it is not possible. 

3. Kid Friendly version of For Great Glory

Holy Heroes has a Blessed Jose Glory Story CD.  We own it and my boys love it.  This is about a young boy who was martyred for the Faith in Mexico.  It is a beautiful story and well done.

4. Run, run, where have you gone?

I am still not running. I have been working out though.  Weight training and cardio.  My legs have been SORE and feel like they have taken a beating due to the weight training, but it is all good!  I am going to give my IT band another week before I run on it.

5. I ordered our curriculum for next year.  Still loving Sonlight, so I did not even bother to look for anything else.  But, I have decided that Saxon Math just does not work for us.  After years of using it, we are trying something new next year.  J with be using MathTacular and Teaching Textbooks and K will be using Singapore.  I am excited about the change! And I am looking forward to Box Day!

6.  Remember how I mentioned that the only show I watch is So You Think YOu Can Dance? I did not mention that we do not have an cable service provider or whatever they call it now. (I once told a babysitter we did not have cable and she replied, "We do not either, we have Comcast." I think I am staring to show my age!) We have an antennae that works, oh, about 80% of the time.  But with FOX, it works about 50% of the time.  And it did not work Wednesday.  I missed the whole show.  Luckily, Fox now lets you watch the episode online 8 days after the show has aired.  So happy!

7. Plans for the weekend
We are going on a Park Quest!!

What are your plans??

Have a great weekend!!