Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Favorite: Stretch out Your Branches

This was the first year without her mom, and I know it was a difficult Mother's Day for my mom.  At our Mother's Day cookout, we toasted her mom, my Grandma, the boys' Jersey GG, but it's just not the same without her.

Jonah was about three months old here.  Ladies don't tell their age. :)

As I reflected on how much we miss my Grandma, who lived a long and happy 100 years, I was reminded of how life comes full circle.  I said these words when it was my turn to talk about her at her service...

One thing I know we will all remember about Grandma was her great sense of humor.  She pretended to be annoyed when Emily would sneak up on her and tap one shoulder, then sneak around to her other side, but we know she thought it was funny.  And although she feigned irritation at my dad’s silly jokes about turtlenecks and henways, she always laughed.  Which is why I feel certain that she would get a kick out of the fact that her great-grandson referred to this service as the “day they’re going to plant Grandma.”  Emily had explained how the service would go, and what they were going to do with Grandma’s ashes, and apparently the way his five-year old brain processed that information is like seeds being planted.  So, we’re going to go with that.  Grandma lived an extraordinary life, strong ’til the end, like an oak tree.  She lived through some tough times—the death of her husband, heart surgery, and shingles.  She also got to experience lots of joy—a happy marriage, the birth of her own three children, and many years later, the birth of six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.  She lived in her own house until the very end, a proud and capable woman.  So, in honor of how Grandma always stood strong and determined, I’d like to challenge us to think of her each time we plant a seed.  Remember that we are extensions of Grandma, Ma, Jersey GG, and that we must carry on her strength ’til the end. 

Extensions...lineage...ancestry.  How cool is it that this year, not even a year since Grandma's service and my mention of her strength being like that of an oak, Jonah won an award for his Arbor Day poem, and was recognized at the Stallings Earth Day Celebration on April 23?  As difficult as it is to experience the pain and loss of someone special, it does a heart good to see that young ones are living on, making their mark, stretching out their branches, spreading their strength and wisdom.

Jonah is wise beyond his years, and I find myself learning from him.  Learning how to be strong, how to be consistent, how to work hard, and how to love life.  His poem is a reminder of how we should learn from the people before us, and count our blessings, being thankful for each minute on this earth.

How will you learn from the stories of your ancestry, and create new opportunities?  I want to learn from my Grandma....and my Jonah.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Meal Planning

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.  Getting our house ready to put on the market, staging it for pictures, having an open house, and having it sell in three days have all made me feel a bit disorganized around here.  So, I am happy to be sitting down to plan the week's meals, because when I know what we're eating, I feel like I can check the stressful "what's for dinner?" item off my checklist.

So, what are we eating this week?  Growing up, my sister and I remember having a meat, a starch, and a veggie every night.  If there were not three food groups on our plates, it was not dinner in the Griffin house.  And don't get me wrong, dinner was always delicious.  Emily and I didn't fully appreciate what a fantastic cook our mom was until we went to college and didn't get to enjoy her home cooking anymore.  Growing up, we rarely went out to eat because, why go out when your mom can cook just about anything?!

I still use my mom's formula--meat, starch, veggie--to a certain extent, although we have tried to do away with the starch in our weekly meals.  But I have started incorporating a lot more one pot meals into our weeknight rotation, simply for the ease, and because my kids are more likely to eat veggies when they are mixed in with the rest of the deliciousness.

So here are four of my favorites, and since I happen to have all four meats on hand (in my freezer), all I have to purchase are the fresh fruits and veggies, and we have four meals.  I started with the meal on the top left and moved clockwise...

Pasta, Sausage, and Eggs

I first had this meal at The Flying Biscuit.  I had always wanted to try it, but thought it sounded kind of strange.  Now it is one of my favorites!!!  This is a great meal for my family, because it allows me to get some extra protein into my pasta eater, Camden.  So far, pasta is the one thing I can count on Camden eating, and I try to mix it up a bit by adding in healthy options to his pasta.  This way, Camden is getting the added protein from the eggs, and the veggies from the spinach.

Steak Stir-Fry

My boys wanted to make stir-fried rice one night, so I said, go for it!  Remember when they created a date night and set up a restaurant for me and Justin?  I love when they want to cook.  They followed this recipe, for the most part, but instead of the white rice, we used Trader Joe's Organic brown rice and added beans and mixed veggies.  I helped a little bit by cooking the steak on my electric griddle and slicing it. They added the steak to their rice and served it all mixed together.  It was delicious!  They cleaned up too. :)

Spicy Sweet Potato Chicken 

See this post for a link to the recipe and some tweaks I have made.  This is such an easy weeknight meal, and one of our favorites.

Chicken Sausage with Apples over Farro

What's for dinner at your house?  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tips for Turning 40 Gracefully and Momsanity Special Offer

I've watched many friends turn 40.  We've partied, vacationed, gone out to eat, and celebrated big time.  So, as my 40th approached, I was excited to be doing something completely different for my birthday.  Running through the mud, climbing over walls, and swinging across monkey bars were just a few things on my list.

Some of the responses I got when I told my friends I was running the Spartan for my 40th?

I want to run through the mud and climb under barbed wire to celebrate my birthday.  Yeah, right.

I’d love to celebrate with you, Pam, as long as it doesn’t involve climbing walls and monkey bars.

That sounds fun.  This one was uttered sarcastically.

Why would you do that?

This is why.  Because it was different.  Because it made me feel alive.  Because it was SO much fun to do something hard and look back to say, I did it.  Well, actually, we did it, because without the help of three of my favorite people in the whole world, I wouldn't have been able to do it.  The teamwork part was one of the best things about the day.  WE did it.  WE are Spartans.

The day started out super cold, but we forgot about the chill in the air after the first trek through a muddy pond about a quarter of a mile into the race.  Our bodies were heating up in the gorgeous sunshine and the thrill of the crowd made our hearts so full.  I knew right away I had made the right choice about what I wanted to do on my 40th!  #thisis40

I also knew I had chosen the perfect people to race with me!  

This was Justin's second Spartan Race so he knew a little about it going into the race.  Blake and Amber are two of our best buddies.  This was our first Spartan Race, and I am positive it is the first of many to come!  Amber said it perfectly in her post on FB (with the pic on the left) after the run...

There aren't 3 people in the world that I'd rather have my back for 5.5 miles of trail running, mud trudging, and 24 obstacles! We definitely aren't this clean any more! We are Spartans!

And believe me, we literally had each other's backs!  Without teamwork, we never would have made it to the end.  Climbing over a six foot wall was one thing, but when we got to the eight footer?  We were like acrobats in a circus performance, balancing on each other's backs to grab the top of the wall and hoist ourselves over.  Without momsanity, I couldn't have completed 19 of the the 24 obstacles, including carrying a bucket of large rocks down a steep hill and back up, and lifting an atlas ball weighing 6o pounds.  There was a time I would have looked at that bucket of rocks and said, no way, I don't have arm muscles.   But knowing I can do a 15 minute momsanity workout using 15 pound (and sometimes even 20 pound) weights gave me the confidence to walk up to that bucket, grab it with gusto, and complete the challenge.  It felt so good!!!

At the end of the day, there were a few things I knew for sure...

Turning 40 wasn't so bad.

My husband and my friends are awesome.

I am a lot stronger than I thought I was.

And on each of my birthdays going forward...

I want to try something new.

I want to do something that challenges me.

And I want to do that something with the people that I love.

We are Spartans!!!

Interested in joining momsanity?  Want to learn how to work out harder, not longer?  Momsanity has made me more muscular and fit than I've ever been in my life.  Check out the special they have going on for one more day--join now and your first month is free with the code MOVING.  You'll also be locked in at their special $20 per month rate.  Join now before they increase their rate to $29 per month (which I would pay anyway since they are just THAT good!).  You will have access to new workouts each month, Bible devotions, accountability, healthy recipes and tips on preparing nutritious meals for your family.  You'll also get to be a part of their Facebook page where you can feel comfortable sharing your struggles and your successes with other moms going through the very same things!  I cannot figure out why anyone wouldn't want all this!  Check out their website today and message me if you have any questions.