Monday, October 6, 2014

Chili with cornbread waffles

Years ago, before children, I used to work nightshifts and Rob worked days. Our time together on my workdays was during his lunchbreak. He'd come home for lunch and I'd have slept about 4 hours, we'd eat and then I'd take a nap and go back to work. While we ate, we would watch Paula Deen on Food Network.

See all of the things that have changed?
-sleeping all day
-watching tv while eating
-eating on the couch
-watching something not animated or including names like Squidworth

Anyhoo, one day I was watching ole Paula (pre-banning from Food Network) make some chili. And she put it on cornbread waffles. It was weird but at the same time, it looked fan-freaking tastic. Here is the recipe if you want hers.

It's a bit........not super healthy. Its not bad in comparison to many of Paula's delicacies, but it can get skinnied up a bit. I also like to cook the meat ahead of time and stick it in the crock pot all day so it can be ready when we get home on a workday.

Sara's Lightened Up Crockpot Spicy Chili
1 lb 93% ff ground turkey
1 onion
1 green pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can corn drained
2 cans 15oz red beans drained
1 can 15oz tomato sauce
1 can 10oz can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 tbsp cumin
1tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

In a large skillet cook the ground turkey. As the turkey gets close to being completely done, use your spoon/spatula whatever, and chop it up into tiny tiny pieces. This is how you make ground turkey doable for a person not used to the texture/taste of ground turkey. Get it into as small of pieces as possible and they won't even know the difference.

After the turkey is done, drain any excess grease and stick it in the crock, chop up the onion and green pepper as finely as possible (or chunky if so desired and you don't have littles that think they don't like big hunks of green in their soup) and cook in skillet. About three minutes before the veggies are done, add the garlic and saute with veggies until onions are transperent. Add to crock.

Drain corn and beans and add, put tomatoes in undrained. If you want a more "soupier" chili, add another can of tomato sauce, this chili is meant to be THICK! Add the seasonings, stir and set at low for 8-10hours. You'll be a happy camper. I promise.
One very overfilled cup will run 334 calories. Its perfectly wonderful on its own in a bowl with cilantro on top. I usually crunch up four tortilla chips and call it 375 calories. This is when I'm being super awesome whole-ish foods on plan dieter. It is a perfect blend of protein/fat/carb.

This is as far as I can take you and still call this a "Lightened Up recipe". But, I suggest you save calories occasionally and do it up right.

Onto the cornbread

I've lightened up the cornbread, but it is still, a huge serving, as its the same size as a Belgium waffle, and full of flour and many other carbs. Half of a large waffle is plenty for a cup o chili.

1 3/4cup white flour
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs 
2 cups milk

Cook in a waffle maker, put it on your plate. Add toppings. 

Sour cream

On Saturday we had the whole Qualls family over for dinner. I worked out hard that morn in the morn, walked all over Walmart getting groceries immediately after,  and the library after, and ate very few carbs all day. Mostly egg beaters, veggies and protein shake.  I budgeted my calories for the half a mamma jamma cornbread waffle with chili and cheese and sour cream and even for two cookies after. An it was heaven. This is my very favorite recipe I make.

Robs a fan too. I told him he needed to make an appearance on the blog so he modeled his chili and waffles. 

But first lemme take a selfie

Oh selfies. It used to be me and my college friends turning the phone around on ourselves and not knowing the outcome till Wal Mart developed the prints. And that maybe happened once every six months. Now we have the power to take pics of ourselves 24/7. I love watching people's transformations on Instagram and they are forever posting gym selfies and progress pics and I'm like "yep, I'm gonna inspire some too someday." So I do a few selfies. Plus I joined an online weight loss challenge where you check in with selfies, so, its not vanity, but me trying to not get kicked off the challenge. I get done with a workout, feeling all eye of the tiger and think, time to have proof I worked out (because actually losing weight isn't proof enough in our world of technology).  But then I look at my phone and....just no.
Fake smile, ten things in my hands, tshirt that I cut the sleeves off which is semi douchy, but makes it comfy

Not looking at the camera. And pushing the button with the other hand. If can't even motor function a selfie really.

Wait, let me fix this one

Sara have you seen the light? Your camera has.

Sometimes I forget I didn't even brush my hair before I take a selfie.

I don't really "do" faces all that well. I'm wondering the story behind this one. Can't be that bad of a day. That's my bacon shirt (which I'm wearing currently). Bacon shirt helps a bad day.

Even when the rest of me looks ok, the lighting is great and the backdrop is fab, I still can't muster the strength to put that chunk of hair in the clippie.

Sometimes selfies prove your overindulgence in whipped cream vodka at a tailgate.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Back in the weight loss saddle and why I call my scale a douche

I'm going to start with this: The scale is a douche
Now I'll wind my way back.

When we found out we were moving, I was doing pretty good in my quest for weight loss. I was on week 5 of Couch to 5k, and doing weights at home. I was tracking my food on My Fitness Pal (quallsy, just in case you wanna bff me on there) and the scale was budging. Barely. But budging.

Then we found out we were moving in a month and I went a little nuts in my head. For a few weeks I had to be reminded to eat, which, in my entire life, had never happened. I just concentrated on painting and getting my kids where they needed to go and all the work needed to move. When we did eat, it was for convenience. Easy meals, lots of cleaning out the pantry so we didn't have to move a ton a food to move. So-spaghetti, sandwiches, breakfast for dinner, hot dogs, and more. I was putting in like 5+ hours of painting or cleaning or lugging around boxes, so despite the fact that I was eating off norm, I still could feel pants getting a little looser. I packed my scale at some point, so I had no idea what I really weighed.

When I got to Fayetteville, I was down 7lbs from my highest weight. Suh-weet! But, we weren't done being a little crazy. The day we moved took most of a Monday, then the movers drove to Fayetteville and stayed in a hotel, to bring our stuff the next day. We had our townhouse, and the stuff we'd shoved into our two vehicles. Then came moving in day. Then came family. A lot of family. And friends. A lot of friends. Everybody that we missed all the time that we desperately wanted to live by was right here. And every one of them wanted to go out to eat. And we had just moved to a new town that is total foodieville.

Our first 24 hours here this happened:
Dinner: Noodles (I shared Bacon Spinach Ravioli with my sister and partook in bread and salad and an alcoholic bev.)
Breakfast: Briar Rose (Rob and I shared Biscuits and Gravy and a Cinnamon Roll)
Lunch: Smitty's Garage (I had Fish Tacos and a few french fries)
Dinner: Firehouse Subs (at this point my stomach was about to blow up, I had the low fat chicken salad only)
Yeah, that was a rough 24 hour patch. It wasn't always that bad, but for about two weeks, we went out to dinner every other night or so and it was at new fun places, so you know my butt didn't choose wisely.

Life has settled down. We've both started jobs, the kids are both in school, and our pantry and fridge are finally restocked. I'm back couponing (not as well as before, never thought I'd miss Kroger so bad) and trying to stock us up with healthy stuff and have myself a plan so I don't fall prey to the easy fix of someone else making us dinner.

The scale caught up with me. For a few weeks I kept losing weight and I ridiculously convinced myself that the gym workouts were offsetting the bad eating. I've lived in this body for 34 years and a big part of that has been spent trying make that dang scale go down, so I should know that bad behavior takes forever to show up on the scale and good behavior takes EVENMOREFOREVER!!! So the drop on the scale was my efforts with running in July, the forgetting to eat during moving, the five hours a day doing squats while repainting my house, the walking around the zoo, museum, and Rivermarket ONE LAST TIME, the jumping at the trampoline park ONE LAST TIME,  and the seventy five boxes that I packed and moved to a storage unit.

So, here I am, in early October. I have been going to the gym 3-4 days a week and wogging 1-2 days a week. I am logging like a beast in My Fitness Pal and paying attention to carbs and fats and proteins more than I ever have. It feels like I should have lost 14 lbs in a month. Instead, I'm almost back where I started. Its sad times. I am being punished for bad behavior in August. If I continue my current plan (working out, eating within my calorie range) I should see this reward in a couple of weeks. It might be 2015 before then, but we'll see.

You know on Biggest Loser where everyone loses like 10-30lbs in the first week? If I was on the show, I would lose 1, maybe gain 2, and get kicked off week 1. Remember when Rob and I did a cleanse and he lost 10 and I lost 3? I followed it to a T and he had a nacho buffet and alcohol on Day 3. The scale is a douche. Its fine.

The good news, is that I can see changes not involved with the scale. I measured myself and I had lost 3.5 inches. Rob was impressed when I flexed for him. And I think my head is in the right place now. Food is tricky for me. It is hard for me to not see food for being just what it is: nourishment. To not think of it as a reward, a therapist, a cheat, an enemy. To just simply think of it as a way to energize my body to get me through a busy day. I feel like my head is going in that direction and exercise isn't a way to 'burn off all the cheats' but to build a strong body.

I've joined a weight loss challenge group and weighed in and measured myself October 1. September was spent getting used to our new life and getting a schedule of sorts set up. October is all about implementing what I know. Water like a fish, logging food, exercising like a beast.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Max's 4th Birthday

I don't even know how its possible that Max is 4. In honor of his bday, this post is all about Max. 

Max was our second child in 2 years. We were overwhelmed to say the very least when he was born. At the same time, I think Rob and I were way more chill with Max. He benefited from our knowledge of what didn't work for Rylan (bless Rylan's heart). We knew that it would all be okay, that he would sleep eventually, that letting him cry for a minute wouldn't kill him and we were overall more calm about the situation. 

When he was a tiny baby he puked all the dang time. All the time, but he didn't cry about it. He just puked and then went about being cute. That was our first sign of our very go with the flow kid. Every day of Max's life is his new best day. He is easy to please and very rarely complains. He will shop with me, eat lunch with my girlfriends, yesterday he played in an empty jacuzzi at my sister's Pool and Spa Store for an hour. I love his chill nature.

That being said, Max is nuts. He is easy to please and overall happy, but ZOMG the kid does not stop moving until he passes out! He is a jumping, running, air guitar playing, spinning, chatting machine!!! If I could have 1/10th of his energy, I'd weigh 110, tops. He is still working on sleeping in a bed and bedtime is a little.......not fun at times. I've decided naps are no longer our friends if we'd like our kid in bed sleeping before 10pm. 

Kid loves corn. A lot.

 Our last trip to the zoo. I don't know many kids that love animals more than Max. 
He told me the other day I was his best friend. He has a sweet heart.

I don't lie, he will play at Toys R Us for an hour and be fine leaving with no toys. Perfectly happy picking everything up and playing and then putting it back.

He's nuts I tell you

He goes until he passes out, quite literally

He could play in the sand forever. This is a sand volleyball court near our new place in Fayetteville. Its his favorite.

Mastering the duckface

I posted this pic on Facebook recently. All the kids were having the best time swimming and Max was giddy about just hanging in this bucket meant for foot washing before getting in the pool.  
Someone mentioned him being my challenging child. He has his moments of having fits, being overtired and hitting or being a mess, but for the most part, aside from his constant ear infections and need for multiple allergy meds and a special diet, I've had a cakewalk with Max. I literally potty trained him in, like 4 hours. He is happy no matter what. He has the forgiving nature of a puppy dog. He has been so good about the fact that he can't have milk due to his allergies and tummy problems. He asks me dutifully, "mom? does this have cow's milk in it?" He randomly thanks me for things that most people wouldn't be thankful for "thanks mama, for taking me to preschool." "thank you for letting me feed the ducks at the pond, mommy." 

So big!

And so crazy

He was placed in his preschool in the "Wild Class" and last week was the "Wild Child of the Week". I've never heard a better phrase describe my kid. 

He's perfect in our eyes. 

Happy Birthday, love bug. You are so loved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rylan in kindergarten

And then, my first born, the boy that originally inspired this blog, was a kindergartner. In a way I feel like we've been through so many more than five+ years in the last five years with illnesses, therapy, playgroups, moves, and more. At the same time, I feel like I blinked and this:

Turned into This:
Really fast

Yes, his favorite song is Turn Down For What by Lil Jon. What? I never nominated myself for mother of the year. I do have two kids that can dance like WHOA though! And one that can do Tommy Likey on command and the other shouts "the new phonebook is here, the new phonebook is here!" like on The Jerk. sooooo....Our work here is done. Seriously, how cute is it that he wants to be a toymaker. That is so much more doable than last year's Spiderman wish. Also, the fact that his favorite food is yogurt and he can't eat dairy and he thinks that dairy free yogurt is the beez kneez is proof that he is a cool kid fo sho.

When I came to Fayetteville to find us a place, I purposely found a place in a certain school zone, because that's the school I was told would be good for Rylan. Since he was 3, Ry has had some form of therapy. He's done Speech, Occupational, and Developmental. In May I found out, he'd graduated from speech, Developmental isn't offered past Pre-k and Occupational isn't given if he doesn't qualify for speech or Physical Therapy. They basically said "goodbye and good luck." So, I was hoping for a school that would help ease the transition of full-on school with no therapies. I had heard this one would do it.

We were set to move on a Monday. On the Friday before our move, I found out Rylan was on a waiting list for that school. They had just forgetten to tell me about this. Good news, he was #2. Bad news, no idea where he would go if he didn't get in this school. Chances were big that he might be put at a school quite a distance from our townhouse. You know, the one I purposely picked out because it was in this school's zone. 

We moved on a Monday. On Tuesday we found out at 1pm that he was going to a different school. And, oh by the way, we needed to be at parent night that same evening at 6pm. mmmmkay. We got lucky. The new school is MAYBE one mile further away than the zoned school, just a different direction. Rob and I went to parent night while the kids played at Rob's sister's house with their cousins (shout out to living in a town with family!) and met his teacher.

She's a seasoned teacher with 20 years under her belt. She insists on "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am". She says she is hardcore for the first 6 weeks so that the kids know the rules and the year goes better. A no nonsense teacher that isn't a pushover and has worked for 20 years with kids Rylan's age for our son that thinks fits are going to fix all his problems and needs someone that will help him ease his transition from having 3 therapies? Yeah, sign us up for that.

Then the original school called and told us Rylan had a spot. We went on a wing and a prayer and decided to stay at the overflowed school. We had a gut feeling about the teacher, and the school was recently renovated and looked nicer and was on a wayyyyyy less busy road, which would make drop off/pickup less of a headache. 

He's done pretty good. Rylan is a precious little thing. He loves to make friends and make people happy. He has a good heart. He is also a bit emotional (he gets that from Rob, just kidding), so things hurt his feelings that other kids would just brush off. Yesterday he was so upset because kids called him "Rylee" all day. He's working through things. I have every belief that he'll do just fine.

I am amazed daily at how much his knowledge and abilities have grown in the last month. His pencil grip that he struggled with so much in therapy is so much better. He is recognizing letters like crazy, something I worried about big time. I have worried so much and tried so hard not to put his abilities next to other kid's. It seems like now he is catching up. And doing it fast. He has started picking out books at the library that have no pictures and just listens intently while I read. He sits and draws and colors pictures, something I have NEVER had with these two rambunctious boys!  

And last Friday? He had a Sock Hop! Is he a teeanager in the 60's? I mean, it was a Superhero Sock Hop and he did wear a full on Iron Man outfit, and he did call it a "Stock Hop" and we didn't correct him, so he's not aging too fast, but stilllllll. He isn't a baby anymore.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fayetteville Life

We arrived in Fayetteville August 11, 2014. This is a dream we've always had. I pinch myself sometimes and other times I have to remind myself that we actually live here. Yesterday I was driving through town and had this feeling "its Sunday, time to head home" when I remembered home is 5 miles away.

We've been having a blast living in Fayetteville. I joined a gym that has an awesome Chick-fil-A type playground and 3 tvs for the kids, so we've been going there quite a bit. Fayetteville has waayyyyyy too many good restaurants that we've been enjoying so the scale hasn't quite moved as much as it should based on my gym schedule. We are getting accustomed to townhouse living. It is not much smaller than our old house, just placed differently, lots of narrow rooms, very steep stairs and a very small patio in the back, rather than a 1/2 acre lot. The fact is, this place is amazing when you compare it to apartment living, which we truly considered. Also, we aren't tied to a mortgage, which is heavenly considering that fabulous house we just flipped that no one has bought yet. Let me know if you need a house just outside Little Rock!!!!!

Tiny porch=Tiny trampoline

A park less than a mile from our house has a huge sandbox

My first gym selfie

I had almost two months off of work, this guy and I had lots of time together

He is so normal

 This is our nephew Wil. We are so happy we get to just call our family and eat pizza on a Friday now. Rylan thinks he needs a family or friend at our house daily now.
 I've perfected pouched eggs. I know that's random, but it needed to be documented. 

This is an awesome Fayetteville thing. A retro arcade. You pay $5 at the door and get to stay as long as you want. They have all the old machines: Pac Man, Tetris, Frogger, Hockey table

I'm ready for slightly cooler temps so I can walk my kid to the park and back without sweaty red face. 
Rylan joined the Boys and Girls Club for after school care. He hates it. Just kidding.

And, most importantly, our kids have been to their first tailgate.  All is well

After a month and a half being home 24/7, I went back to work. Don't mind my allergy eyes here, but I got a job in adult GI. Its at a center, not a hospital. Its all new to me. New people, new center, adults not kids, but so far so good. The biggest perk is that they pay me. I like getting paid. Being home was so fun, but being in this brand new town with all my friends and family and stores and restaurants being so close? I was spending money EVERY day I was home. That didn't happen when I lived in the sticks. 

We're having a blast

We do and will always miss our people from MOPS and our other playgroup and our church. We spent so much time worrying about not living in Fayetteville, it took us leaving East End/Little Rock to realize how many people we actually already had. I am trying hard to find our niche. We have joined a MOPS here, though we've already missed the first meeting, so we suck at it so far. I have two of my besty friends here, but one is moving and one is about an hours drive, so I need to find my own people.  I am loud and chatty when I get to know you, but I am actually quite shy to start with. Work is.....let's just say I hate being the new kid. I worked at Arkansas Children's Hospital for 13 years. I was only NEW twice in that time. I hated it both times. I don't have a very thick skin and feeling dumb isn't something I do very well. And I feel dumb right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ch ch ch Changes, Part II

I apologize,I lovingly sat in my van while Max slept and finished this blog post on my phone and thought I'd posted it. Come to find out, I never did and all the pictures I'd posted, one at a time, are not on here. How annoying to do a "to be continued" and then not continue. Bless it.

I left off on my last post when Rob received an offer for a job, in a town 3.5 hours away, and we had a house they needed major work and very little time to find a house and fix ours and move.

Back to moving. We needed to move yesterday. And we had all that flooring that couldn't be returned in the garage. So, we went to work.

By some wonderfulness, the week after we found out we were moving, I had already taken a week off work to help my church with Vacation Bible School. I talked to the VBS director and told her about our situation and she was so understanding when I said "you remember how I told you I took the week off and could help all five days all day? Maybe I could do 3 half days?" Reason # 8,034,923 why we were sad to leave our church. My blessed Mom and Dad came for 4 days and helped me paint and pack and paint and pack and paint some more. We got a major amount of work done and I am so grateful to them. So, a week into knowing we were leaving, we had repainted the kitchen, master bedroom, master bath, and hallway ceiling and had filled a storage unit with 20 something boxes and donated 5 boxes of crap.

After Mom and Dad left, my sister and her husband came. My brother-in-law helped Rob lay floors in our kitchen, living room and hallway that weekend while Angie and I took the kids downtown and partied at the museum and had a trolly ride and a hotel stay. We attempted helping the boys, but 4 kids+exposed nails+copious amounts of dust=FAIL. So we left and they got much more done without us.

Can you tell which child took a nap and which two didn't?

By the time my sister left, our hearts were so full from all the help we had and our nerves had calmed considerably because of all the work that had already been done. We had three weeks left to find a home, put our home on the market and finish our house.

Everytime we discussed buying a new house, and started looking at houses online, I got crazy face and GI upset. I didn't want to have two mortgages and I didn't want to pick a house in 2 weeks that I would be stuck with if it turned out we didn't like it. We decided to rent until we sell our house. I took the kids alone to Fayetteville and went on an all day search for rentals. Houses, apartments, townhomes, duplexes. We saw it all. And nothing fit. Too expensive. Too small. No outside area for kids to play. Wrong school district. Too many college students. No parking. I felt really defeated and thought we'd never find a home. I thought I was going to have to go back to Little Rock and tell Rob we were going to have to live in a hotel. My sister drove in the area I liked, and texted me a phone number to a townhouse we had missed the day before. Maybe the landlord had put the sign up overnight, who knows. I called the number and somehow this townhouse had an extra room, and a dining room, a one car garage and was $100 cheaper per month that most of the places I had toured. He let me in to look and it was perfect. We had planned to get a storage unit to store lawnmowers, stuff from our attic for Christmas, ect. The one car garage would serve as a storage unit and we'd also save that $$$$. He also offered to give us a 9 month lease, rather than making us do a year. We were going to move in August right before school started and we didn't want to have to move the following August, in the heat, directly before school again.

I drove back to Little Rock feeling happy that we had a place and ready to kick it into high gear. I put in my notice immediately and was done working July 25. It was kind of sad how not sad I was. I mean, when I went prn, I did a whole blog post about it, but I didn't even tell a lot of people I was leaving until I was literally LEAVING the building.  I worked at that hospital for 13 years. It was the end of an era for me and on my last day, two of my favorites weren't even there, the doctor that makes my head spin had overbooked her day and we ran all day and I ended up staying late, alone, while everyone else went home. It was very anticlimactic and I didn't shed a tear. It was time to go. My time there was good but things were changing that I didn't really care for and if we were staying, I probably would have been seeking a new job, to be honest.  I have kept in touch with my old boss, who had retired a year before I left, and two of the nurses I worked with and one doctor. I hope to always keep in touch with them, they are good people.

Getting your house ready to put on the market is hard with littles. But, something happened inside me where I realized the reason why our house was in the shape it was, was because we had lived five years with babies and I didn't BELIEVE I could do it with kids home. It was time to start believing and just freakin DOING. Luckily, I was home and could put in full days of help and the kids were more than happy to zone out with the TV, Amazon Prime streaming, and ABC Mouse, and many other electronic babysitters. We still had to do our "last tour of Little Rock" so in between visiting our favorite stay at home stomping grounds,  I painted 1500 square feet of trim and every door in our house. At night and on weekends, Rob finished the floors in our bedrooms. I powerwashed the house and poolshed and took over mowing. In between we packed, packed some more and packed some more. Literally, where did all that shiz come from.
I can't pain without getting it all over myself

How I felt after 3 days straight of painting trim. Everything hurt (Oh, and I chopped my hair off)

 I started falling apart after a week. Sleeping on my coffee cup helped.

I did have some help
And I took some pics of my electronic babysitters 

 My parents took the kids a few days early to give Rob and I a couple days to be crazy cleaner/painter/mowers. The kids had one last swing on the swingset. It makes me cry to see theis pic. We left the swingset there.
 And one last swim in the pool.

I drove the kids to my parents and came back ready to do the final push needed to get the house ready. Thank goodness for this extra time with just us. We got Rylan's room moved out and discovered that the one room we thought the paint was ok, looked BAD with no furniture in it, so I repainted it. We fixed our fence, cleaned our pool, and began the worst packing of all: the garage. UGH, that place was a mess.
 And then we went on a date to the place where we had our wedding reception. Memories. In all seriousness, the food was MEH, and the wait staff was, meh, and well.....I'm good.
And then, this happened.