Monthly Archives

October 2015


Dance, too much BOO-tay in da pants

October 29, 2015

We waited until the Wednesday before Halloween, so our pumpkins aren’t perky, but they’re perfect for us. Try not to pee your pants from these scary faces. Looks like Spike might have done something perplexing in hers.


Oh, and there’s this. You’re welcome.



Who are these jerks?

October 28, 2015

Oh man! I feel like the Genie when he comes out of the lamp after 6 million years. I don’t know what’s had us so busy … a little bit of camping … a little bit of work … a lotta bit of laundry … the Fit2Feast workout challenge and then, right when I think I’m going to sit down to write, my Stitch Fix comes. Life is just full of distractions.

So, the thing about this post is that I’ve been thinking about sharing it for months, but it’s not the most popular topic. See, with all the happy highlights and filtered Instagrams, it’s hard to imagine that anything is ever less than ideal in this place. I mean, Spike is so funny, and JoJo so wise beyond her years and Sloppy Joan is just the cutest, but there are moments … many, many moments, where my kids are … well, they’re freaking punks.

It’s always been there. The whining, the petty fighting, the outlandish demands. But this past year, particularly since JoJo started kindergarten, it’s been beyond any normal human’s threshold for whining, fighting and demanding. There are days when my directions are merely suggestions in a world dominated by their whims and wants. My requests are considered and immediately dismissed to make time for something like cutting construction paper into 30 million tiny pieces. They fight over items as priceless as the cardboard center of a toilet paper roll and go straight to hand to hand combat when direct commands fall on deliberately deaf ears.

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I know that I’m not alone. I do. But it feels lonely in those moments. Like these are failures specifically tailored to showcase my shortcomings as their example. Being a parent and observing your kids is like the lab that accompanied a chemistry course in college. You try to follow the directions. You use the ingredients and strategies the teacher recommends. But sometimes, your formula fizzes (and boils over in a completely irrational fashion) while your neighbor’s simply combines and falls to a peaceful, obedient state. Despite your best intentions, things explode and react in a spastic, uncontrollable, combative roar simply because you added, say, one unforeseen ingredient (like a mandatory family nap on a Sunday afternoon).

Do I love my girls? No. I adore them beyond measure. I am obsessed with them. I worship every little piggy on their petite, perfect feet. But there are times, worship or not, when I sit back as a bystander, a helpless observer, watching one of them on a downward emotional spiral sparked by a microscopic annoyance and I think … who the hell are these jerks?

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Typically, Hank and I trade off bearing the brunt of their tantrums. Sometimes Daddy’s having a bad day, and sometimes Mama jumps on the hormone grenade. It just depends. It helps team morale when one of the coaches can come out to the mound and tap in for their flustered, frustrated co-captain. We laugh about it a lot. But the truth is, it bothers the crap out of me. I want to know what sassy switch was flipped in my 6 year old the day I sent her into grade school. More than that, I want to know how to flip it the frick back off. It’s hard to feel like you’re failing. It’s sad when the day ends with an argument.

Because that’s the thing about your kids acting out; you end up acting like a huge asshole. You go through the stages of the last parenting book or article you read. You try to put yourself in their shoes, come down to their level, but inevitably, you snap like Elle Woods in a hair salon. Your eyes get big, and nostrils flare, and threats are thrown about, and yelling takes place. And this psychotic break never brings about any change for the better. They fight back or recoil and you’re left feeling like a splat of bird poop on a park bench. Nobody wins.

Until the next morning when all is forgotten and the stage is set for a few great moments and the unspoken, optimistic hope that maybe everyone will get along today. The girls won’t fight. I won’t have to ask 5 million times for someone to feed the dog. The sun is going to shine and happy, twittering birds are going to fly in and make my bed for me, just like in a Disney movie. And just to humor you, God does give you some of this.

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The other night, Spike told JoJo that she loved her with her whole entire heart like Jesus. She patted her older sister’s head warmly and placed her treasured monkey blanket over her feet. And I thought, ya know, that’s what it’s all about. Just when you feel like you’ve been run over too many times to get back up, something beautiful happens and it puts you right back on your feet. I was swelling with pride. I felt renewed in my parental purpose and like the good man up above was providing a much-needed pat on the back.

Then Spike accidentally kicked her and JoJo pushed her off the bed.

JoJo Just Said

Label maker

October 23, 2015

Kids go through phases, this I know. JoJo sang Adele’s power ballad Someone Like You for weeks when she was 3, Spike ate phone chargers while they were plugged in for an alarming number of months during her second year, and Sloppy Joan has been inconsolable from 5pm-6pm every evening since she was 2 months old. But the thing about phases is they pass and a new, even weirder one, comes along. JoJo, it would seem, has moved into her Post-Impressionism period phase. Since summer, homegirl is putting labels on everything.

Some are very literal and make me feel like I woke up in a home for Early Onset Alzheimer’s. For example these handy signs indicating this is the


and this is where I should


But the obvious soon became too ordinary, so she moved on to creating signs where events would soon take place. Such as the front room where we would apparently be hosting a Kung Fu exhibition.


But my favorite has to be this one she so proudly put on the front door. Come one, come all to our creepy children’s Pajama Party. The sign is up all yearlong, folks, so if your favorite jammies aren’t back from the cleaner’s, don’t worry … we’ll be here waiting whenever you’re ready. Not sure it puts out the vibe we were hoping for.


She’s hung RSVPs on the front door with 2 crayons hanging down where people could check “Yes” with a blue, or “No” with green. The door to her bedroom is like a caveman’s epic novel; with clear instructions on when people can come in, stay out and who lives within.

Of all her habits, at least this one is helpful for guests who can’t find our trash receptacles and uplifting for passersby who are feeling lonely and need to party. I say, leave your mark on my woodwork- I mean the world, JoJo. It’s a perfectly lovely phase that every type A, young and old, can celebrate.


Screen shot through my heart

October 21, 2015

I love Instagram. I do. I love it. I’m 78 percent sure I am developing carpal tunnel in my right thumb and pointer finger (I wish I was exaggerating) from repetitive motions linked to technology, namely scrolling through social media, the most common of which being Instagram.

Often I come to a quote or image that moves me, usually from the likes of Deepak or the equally insightful Heidi Powell. Desperate to capture the impact of their wise words, I quickly screen shot the post only to come across it 5 months later as I do a massive image capture dump onto my laptop.

But these are too good to dump. I must share them somewhere and, for lack of a better place, that somewhere is here. I hope they move you to share or pin or maybe just pause for a moment. I also hope you don’t mind I’m going straight up screen shot style here; no Photoshop, no PicMonkey. Some nights I’m just all outta fancy.





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Might as well face it, you’re addicted to food

October 19, 2015

This is a post about control.

And, more accurately, the fact I don’t have any.

On Friday, my college roommates came to town for a lovely little visit. These girls are family to me and I always want to make sure their tummies are full and the gentle, jolly tingle of a perfect booze buzz is constant. I went to Costco Friday morning and got plenty of goodies for dinner, dessert, apple cider sangria (the best recipe for a fall get together) and breakfast Saturday morning. Some of Hank’s family was stopping by, so I figured it was enough of a crowd to justify Costco portions.


After the last chicken flew the coop Saturday afternoon, I was left facing a few certainties: 1) I really adore those girls, and 2) I had a shit ton of food left over. Of course the salted chocolate-covered caramels and spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan are finding spots to settle in and leave lardy sediments in my thighs, but the bigger concern is the devil temptress known as the Costco cinnamon butter crumb coffee cake.

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I want you to, just for a moment, imagine your round cake pan. Mentally pull it from your cabinet. Can you picture it? Now I want you to visualize baking 3 cakes in that pan, piecing them together, topping each cake with balls of butter and sugar, and then pulling up a seat to watch me eat them. All of the cakes. Just me. Every last sinful crumb. That is what happened between the hours of 9:30 am Saturday and 8 pm Sunday night.

I impregnated myself – one forkfull at a time – with a baby made of enriched flour, real butter and refined sugars. Self sabotage is the father and, sadly, it has many, many siblings; all the result of the same pitiful practice. Did you ever see that Sex and the City with Miranda and the chocolate cake? If it had been Sex and the Land of the Super-sized Midwestern American Diet, that would have accurately represented the catastrophe at my crib this weekend.

I think this confirms my suspicion that I am a food addict.

I turned to the top authority on the topic. The Internet. And here is what I found.

8 Symptoms of Food Addiction
(from Authority Nutrition)

1 Cravings despite being full. (yes.) 
2 Eat much more than you intended to. (A Costco-sized coffee cake.)
3 Eat until feeling excessively “stuffed”. (lol and yes, I wear stretchy pants on purpose.) 
4 Feel guilty afterwards, but do it again soon. (Hate myself. … Don’t waste that!) 
5 Making up excuses in your head. (The girls were in town.) 
6 Repeated failures at setting rules for yourself. (On Monday, I go paleo. No, Whole30. No, just sugar free.)
7 Hiding your consumption from others. (For sure waited until I was alone with the cake to take it to pound town.)
8 Unable to quit despite physical problems. (I consider a flat tire a physical problem.)


So, here I am. A belly full of regret, a tough Monday morning weigh in waiting for me and a half a container full of salted caramels promising failure all week long. What’s a girl to do? Start over, I suppose.

The number of times I’ve sat and dwelled on this depressing reality is gross. I feel like I’m stuck in a divine sugary quick sand. I get my torso out a tiny bit only to fall in almost to my chin by close of binging business Sunday night.

Admittedly, week days are my come to Jesus reset. Oily fish, leafy greens, flax … they all make the starting lineup on days I have to dress up and be a big girl. But from the time I walk out of the office and declare the weekend “in progress,” I’m hammering the fries, condiments and any and everything that stands still long enough to get doused in chocolate.


I’d say I just need a good strategy and then I’d change my ways. I’d give up my rich, sticky mistress and clean up my ways (and my inflammation). But I would be lying. You see, there’s always a reason to eat the good stuff. Someone brings in bagels for a brainstorm. The folks in your carpool beg for Starbucks. Your kindergartener gets straight “E”s on her report card and wants to celebrate with frozen yogurt. You burn dinner and have to call an audible. And just when you think you’ve come to the end of your excuses, the holidays come along and knock you on your plump ass into a baby pool filled with corn casserole and cheese trays and all of the pies. It’s like the 6th day for the Hungry Caterpillar every damn day for two solid months.

If you have any secrets to success, as always, you can send them my way. In the meantime, if you have a Costco membership, you gotta check out that coffee cake, man. Take it somewhere you can share or somewhere you can hide. Either way, no judgement. But it’s damn good.



Tune in Today, Wellness

Join me: Fit 2 Feast

October 16, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … convince you to take a 30-day challenge. 

Remember the other night when I was all … I’m on an adrenaline crash … and … gosh, I really need a goal … and all that noise? Well, be careful what you ask for, because when you ask, sometimes you receive. My pal Hollie, over at Muscles & Munchkins, was ready and waiting with a butt-kicking, badass, 30-day workout bonanza, and I’m already reaching for the arnica.

The details are below. If you’re interested in doing this thang with me, reach out to Hol and she’ll get you all squared away. All you need is free weights and a half hour a day. Just don’t get more points than me and don’t come cryin’ when your pants are too saggy come turkey day. Knowing this girl, it’s going to be a little Kayla-ish, a little Tone It Up-esque and for sure a solid month of sweat and surprises. Saddle up!  

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I am excited to announce that I will host one last virtual fitness challenge for 2015! That is right, this is the last one of the year: FIT 2 FEAST. Don’t wait for the new year, do it now; feel confident this holiday season and make fitness a priority.

Wherever you are on this journey, I will meet you there: encourage you, and provide tips and tricks to healthier lifestyle. My fitness challenges are where this happens. I have successfully run six groups and they keep getting better. The participants are loving the encouragement and community the groups provide.

Here is what one of my participants had to say:

“I just want to thank you!!! For motivating me and showing me that I can actually do it! I’ve never been one to be able to work out and it has forever changed me…so thank you!!”

“I am stronger than I have ever been and you provide so much knowledge and encouragement. Let’s do another one!”

This 30 day challenge will be just what you need to feel confident for Thanksgiving and beyond. You will have a head start on your new year. 30 days of workout challenges, nutrition tips and being a part of an encouraging FIT TRIBE!

This group starts on Monday, October 26th. There is a $25 registration fee and the WINNER will receive a cash prize.

Have more questions or want to join? Email

Let’s get fit,


There’s some things on my mind

October 15, 2015

On my migration toward mindfulness, I’ve learned things about myself. I’ve learned that the majority of my thoughts are frantic and frivolous and trail one after another like a demented train of dominos. Below is a sampling of the subtitles that would actually appear to you, the reader, as generated by my psyche.

OK …
sit up straight …
touch your forefinger to your thumb to generate that good kind of energy …
and …
here we go! Breathe in 4 seconds and out for 4 seconds …
picture your breath coming and going …
gosh, my lungs feel so good …
is it the running? I bet it’s from all the running …
I need to get back to running …
why do I always fall off the wagon …
and why is there so much freaking flute in this Asian zen playlist? It’s like meditating with Ron Burgundy for pete’s sake [picturing this exact scene from Anchor Man] … 

my back hurts …
I should eat better …
I wonder if it’s been 3 minutes yet …
oh, shoot, come back to the breath …
come back to the breath …
And why does every Asian zen song have waves crashing? Do I have to pee or is it just the water sounds? And, you know, I hate them for making me have to decipher the difference …
I know this, my head itches. Dan Harris didn’t scratch his itches. He acknowledged the thought, put it aside and – [I scratch my head]
In for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds ….
In for 4 seconds, out for seconds …
Gah! Are my itches having babies with each other or what? I just gotta scratch and be done with it. I’ve committed to scratching. I’m not as strong as Dan. I wonder if there’s some science to trying not to itch and how it makes you itch more …
bring it back …
bring it back y’all, bring it back y’all, bring it back heeeeeeeeeere we go! ….

whoomp giph
The jam! …
Do I really like Empire? Or am I just faking it and trying to see what Libby sees in it? I mean, Cookie’s so good, but it’s a little soap opera …
In for 4 …..

I believe eventually the thoughts are supposed to become passersby; just fleeting flashes in a calm and focused mind. But for now, they’re bouncing around like fleas at a circus. Please send any great meditation playlists or guided meditations my way if you’ve got ’em!


I ain’t sayin’ I’m a goal digger

October 13, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … find a new light. 

I feel obligated to report that, though the free time and flexibility are great, I seem to be experiencing a bit of a half marathon adrenaline hangover. Like I got dropped from a 10-story-building high and went splat on the pavement of normalcy. Like, the pain and fatigue were drawing me in over the 12 weeks of training; quietly clenching and claiming parts of my brain. It’s like I’ve been temporarily reprogrammed to savor sweat and relish sweet soreness. Who am I? No, but seriously … who am I?

So, I guess the conclusion is, I need a new challenge. What should I do? I definitely want to start hitting some classes at the gym again because, you know, this and this worked out so well for me. But I have arrived at the undeniable truth that I am a goal junkie. I need to know what I’m working toward. I know lifelong wellness is a journey, and it shouldn’t be a “diet” and all that jazz, but this mama needs a light for her tunnel. (That sounds weird.)


So, let’s go dream goal shopping, shall we? What cool things are out there to try?



A weekend in the woods

October 12, 2015

It’s rare these days that we get a weekend with absolutely no obligations. At the start of the season, we made a very deliberate decision not to sign up for soccer or lessons or anything that would keep us from enjoying autumn as a family. The girls are young and don’t hate us yet, so it seemed like the right thing to do. But so far, between work picnics and birthday parties and various celebrations of various things, we haven’t assigned our own agenda as much as we’d hoped. But this weekend, the calendar was all clear.

I’ve made no secret of my healthy obsession with Cheryl Strayed. I love her story, her trek, her real, badass vibe. I think every female should try to tap their inner Wild woman, and, while I do make a small effort not to shove my own life goals onto my girls in case their dreams are drastically different from mine, which would be fine, I do attempt to foster only habits I would be OK with them adopting as well. So, when Hank suggested we head out for a hike Saturday morning, the chicks genuine hype factor and giddiness made my heart swell with satisfaction.

It couldn’t have been a better day for a walk in the woods. Sunny, sixties and a feast of fall colors dangling from the trees. The leaves were raining down upon us like the last few feathers in a staged pillow fight, and I recognize the drama I’m implying when I declare the memory, “magical” but I stand by it. The girls have been particularly catty lately, so the peace and simple pleasure of our pilgrimage was a welcome reprieve.




It amazes me how JoJo comes alive in these situations. She’s a satisfaction and approval seeker for sure, and I don’t know if it’s that she recognizes it brings Hank and I joy to see her in that sort of scenario, or that she truly just thrives on the trail, but she tromps around and summits and scales like a champ. Spike, too, blew me away. Last year she would only make it about .5 mile before tapping out and climbing on Daddy’s back, but we were out for a good 2 hours, and her little legs held up and made her one proud little peanut.



The thing about being in nature is it reminds you how small we all are. The high water levels and storms in the Midwest over the last year brought down quite a few trees, which meant an impressive, intricate display of roots around every bend in the path.

“Mom,” JoJo said, “I think the bigger the roots, the older the tree.”
“That’s right.” I said.
“These smaller trees are still strong, huh? I think it’s kind of sad that those old trees aren’t standing anymore, but at least we have these baby ones and they can be here for a long time.”


We spent the entire morning trekking around downed trunks and limbs. We searched for the reddest, orangest and yellowest leaves and moved in and out of the sun striking through the protective canopy. It was the most wonderful thing we’ve done together in weeks. As parents we sit here and drive ourselves crazy questioning what we should be saying to these little people. But maybe what we show them and where we take them is a bigger part of the puzzle.

On Sunday, Hank had some pre-hunting season tasks to check off, so the gals and I had the day to ourselves. What did they want to do? Take Uncle Map to the woods so he could see the fallen trees. And so, we did. Two mornings on the trails and I honestly think it reset the funk that had fallen over all of us. I feel rested and reconnected to the people in my home and, honestly, other than the blister on my left foot, everything is looking like roses for a hot second here. I’m just going to let it ride.






Dr Ann’s got my back

October 9, 2015

On a crisp October evening, I found myself at a presentation by health and wellness expert Dr Ann Kulze, MD. I must admit, I was not familiar with Dr. Ann and her Eat Right for Life series. I was also likely the only person in the room who hadn’t read at least one of her other titles, subscribed to her e-newsletter or at the very least hooked up with her on social media. But after a little cyber stalking, in which I uncovered that she has the dopest kitchen and posts primal food porn on a regular basis, I realized we’d be fast friends.

Her talk centered around The Happiness Plan, her latest research and findings on eating and living for optimal brain health. The brain, she pointed out, is after all the CEO of the body. You keep it healthy, happy and functioning beautifully, and the rest of your organs should follow its lead.

My notes got a little spotty because I was multi-tasking, but there’s some really awesome stuff in here, so I thought I would share. Saddle up …

Did you know the brain uses 20-30 percent of the total fuel your body consumes? It demands a robust blood flow and clocks in as the fattiest organ in your body. All of this makes omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, extremely important. It’s like Miracle Grow for the brain, controls inflammation and supports a healthy blood flow, but it’s tough to find in food. Start with oily fish. You should be eating oily fish at least 5 times a week. (I’ve been tappin those fins about once a month.) If you consume 1 4-5 oz. serving of salmon for lunch, you’re getting more omega-3s than the average person gets in 3-4 days. (Dr. Ann is a fan of the Wild Salmon Burgers from Costco. Bought ’em. Tried ’em. Loved ’em. Had one from freezer to plate to my gut in 10 minutes.)
You should also be eating: walnuts, canola oil, flax/chia/hemp, omega-3 eggs, wheat germ and small leafy greens
Here’s where she nailed me … When it comes to sugar, Dr. Ann says that the less you do, the happier your brain is. Fructose wrecks your metabolism and is almost a neurotoxin. And – get ready for this fun little stat – it is recommended that women consume 6 added teaspoons of sugar a day, and men 9 teaspoons. The average American gets 23 added teaspoons a day! I’m pretty sure I helped build that statistic, one cookie at a time. Today alone, at a work carry-in, I ate 1.5 bagels, 5 donut holes, a Halloween sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle. I hang my head in shame.
It’s essential that we go for the right carbs for glucose. Those would be: Whole grains, beans (There are 4 varieties of beans in the top 20 list of antioxidant-rich foods. They can be canned, fresh, frozen or dry), and fruits and veggies.

Phytochemicals are freaking amazing. They evolved in plants naturally over time to keep them alive and thriving, and now, when consumed by humans in the form of plant-based foods, they can do the same for us. Dark leafy greens have more nutrients than any food. Berries are magical, and blueberries in particular have been shown to reverse signs of aging. As a rule, the deeper the color, especially blue, red and purple, the more phytochemicals you get. Black rice and beans are swimming in them.


is key because it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. Dr. Ann spent a lot of time here discussing the microbiome. Essentially, the gut and the brain are directly connected and scientists are finding more and more that our stores of good bacteria have a huge impact on how our body reacts to illness, trauma and even stress. Have you ever noticed that people with chronic stomach issues are typically very easily stressed? According to Dr. Ann, there’s a legit connection between those anxieties and bad microbiome. You want an abundance of that good bacteria for the best defense, and the single greatest influence on microbiome is diet. Eat a generous variety of plant-based food whenever possible and stock up on Mother Nature’s Prozac, fiber. You want 25-35 g each day, but most of us only get about 12.

When she switched to talking about the power of protein, she first gave a list of good options; kefir, eggs, nuts, poultry, beans. But then she explained that instead of memorizing all the good, it was simpler to just recognize the bad, and that’s red meat. If you’re going to have it, she suggests adding moisture, marinating it, adding it to a stew or incorporating it into a meatloaf.

We then bounced over to the vitamin D deficiency epidemic sweeping our nation. While it’s necessary for mood regulation and controlling inflammation, we’ve all listened to the warnings about sun exposure and backed ourselves into a shaded, vitamin D-deficient corner. This can be linked to pain, stress, fatigue, depression, cognitive decline and MS/Parkinson’s. Aim for regular, safe sun exposure, especially on the arms and legs, oily fish, egg yolks, and at least 2,000 D3 supplement each day,
A few final suggestions included spicing things up  with ginger, turmeric, curry, garlic and cinnamon, to gain their beneficial effects, as well as a nice, super-dark chocolate, in moderation.
But her magic pill – the one that boosts mood, prevents depression and so, so much more – is exercise. It is, in Dr. Ann’s world at least, a non negotiable. She suggests at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week or 45 minutes vigorous exercise 3 times a week. Optimal is moderate aerobic activity 5 hours a week or vigorous aerobic activity for at least 2 hours a week. You should also sprinkle in resistance activity at least 2 days a week.

 She kept coming back to the simple concept that she never gets sick, because she just eats real food. She doesn’t have to worry about reducing the processed crap, because she just eats real food. She’s popular on Instagram because she takes pictures of her eating real food. By the end, it was starting to come together.

So, those were my notes. She emailed me after asking for pictures and I responded with the images and a quick note about how inspirational her talk was. I told her it might just convince me to give up my sugar habit once and for all. A few hours later I received a response saying she was, “really pulling for me with the sugar thing.” Thanks, Dr. Ann. Thanks.