Speak to Me, I’m Listening: Five Minute Friday

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When my first child was born, I was so anxious for her to talk. I wanted to know what she was thinking and better able to understand her needs. She may not have been an early talker, but by 18 months she had more than 100 words. Then the second child arrived. He was a later talker, but once he started, he wouldn’t stop. Even at 5, he is the loudest of the house and barely pauses for breath. (I realize this may be a genetic feature I contributed to his DNA).  By the time my third arrived, I didn’t worry much anymore about when he would talk. I knew he would and sure enough he does. Much of it is unintelligible but as he approaches his second birthday, I definitely find myself wishing that it was a little quieter at my house with a whole lot fewer words.

 

Humans want to connect, it is in our nature. But not all of us want to connect with words. But communication, both written and verbal has always been such a central part of who I am. It was surprising to no one when I grew up to enjoy middle school and high school theater products, speech meets and took up writing. When my husband and I read the Five Love Languages together it was apparent very quickly that one of my primary languages is the dialect of quality time called quality conversation. I need to connect with someone through words to feel truly close to them.

 

Spiritually, this is no different. So often in the cacophony that make up my days I find myself wanting to hear God. I want to connect with him through words. This is why prayer and reading the scriptures is so important for me, even though both are something I’ve struggled with over the years. Because without those words, I can’t connect, I don’t feel close.

 

Yet, I have also felt called, especially lately, to spend time in silence. This seems to go entirely against my communicative nature. How can I connect with God without words? For me, I need the silence to better let my heart be my ears. To let the spirit of God impress himself on my soul and find my spirit renewed. This can’t always happen when I’m constantly full of words.

 

It is in those moments when I am too tried and worn out for words that I have no choice but to lift my silence up as an offering and see what He has to say.

 

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Speak to me, Lord. I’m listening.

Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 4

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Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I enjoyed the exercises this week but I also loved the way exercise integrated itself into my life recently.  We took a weekend trip to the mountains with friends which included some light canoeing. Mind you, I wasn’t responsible for steering, but I did paddle which added an usual motion that I don’t typically do. The best part, I wasn’t sore the next day! Plus sitting quietly out on the lake I was able to close my eyes, if only for a moment and soak things in. I was sad when it was over but I also wanted to use it to keep propelling myself forward. It would be great to be able to do that kind of thing again, and that means I need to keep getting stronger.

 

 

Basic Aerobics II / Kelly Dean’s Wall Workout

I like this combination of workouts because it gives me a quick punch of cardio and just a little bit of full body strength training. Since I know these workouts well, if I’m having a day where I’m just not able to focus well, I can almost do them on autopilot.

 

 

Defining Deltoids

Yay for heavier hand weights! This workout is done using exercise bands and dumbbells. Because the movements are slow and deliberate, I was able to bump up my intensity and still maintain good form.

 

 

Body Sculpting II5 Minute Arms & 5 Minute Booty Burn With A Band

Body Sculpting II is kind of a toning cardio hybrid but because it was so short I wanted to add a bit more. I decided to try the 5 Minute Arms and 5 Minute Booty with Band routines. Both provided a great workout in a short time. While I haven’t done the whole 5 minute series yet, I imagine if you combined them all together, you’d have a pretty great workout as well.

 

 

Body Sculpting

I decided to experiment again with heavier weights and managed very nicely again. I have to be hyper cautious about maintaining form and core engagement (and keep my lighter weights handy, just in case), but it feels great to be finally building my strength up further.

 

 

Gentle Blend

When I’ve had a stressful week, I’ll admit that I want something fast and difficult. (The ripping, tearing style workouts that I know aren’t good for me). But this was exactly what I needed. The even paced, sustained movement got my heart rate up enough for me to break a sweat but then Beth brought it down wonderfully and I left feeling more relaxed. While this isn’t necessarily one of my favorite workouts, it was definitely just what I needed together.

 

 

Kelly’s Total Body Stretching

I love these stretches, though the routine itself isn’t quiet as soothing as the Restorative Poses series. In a perfect world, I would make time to stretch like this every day. (Ok, in a perfect world I wouldn’t need to stretch but anyway . . .) Even if you learn these six movements from memory and just add them throughout your day, you will see such an improvement in alignment, core control with much less pain and discomfort.

 

 

I know I have two weeks of longer and harder workouts coming, so it was nice to have a week where I’m still working in my ideal workout time. This is probably the kind of week I’ll return to when my 6 week challenge is over. There is something wonderful about consistent lower difficulty workouts rather than fewer challenging ones. I like that my exercises make me feel energized rather than exhausted. I hope this will continue as I kick things up a notch next week.

 

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It’s Not Easy to Be a Great Parent But There is Help

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I have almost never felt confident as a parent. Ok maybe that’s not true. There have been moments when something new I was trying appeared to be working and suddenly I was able to see a potential future where every day wasn’t a struggle. But those moments have been rarer than the usual utter chaos and internal turmoil that characterize my days.

It’s easy to feel like you are drowning in a sea of potential help, but so much of it is conflicting. How do you know what is the right approach to parenting for your family or even for your specific child? (Doesn’t it seem unfair that each kid has different requirements? I’ve often thought how much easier it would be if what worked for one worked for all of them. After all, my kids all pretty much look alike, it would be nice if parenting strategies could be more consistent as well?).

The Parent Super Bundle from Ultimate Bundles is one of those potential sources of help. But today is the last day to purchase before this bundle goes away.

“What?” you say, “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

Two reasons.

1. I know as a parent I tend to hem and haw and ultimately wait until the last minute to make a decision anyway.

2. I don’t want you to over analyze this. This is a HUGE bundle with so many fantastic resources. But don’t get bogged down in that. Make it a simple math problem. Find a handful (seriously focus on five or fewer) of books, courses or bonus offers that you know will be helpful and useful.) Then run the numbers of what those resources usually cost.

Don’t think you will use all of these. I have never used every resource in one of these bundles. But I have always gotten my money’s worth and more.

Here are just a few products that I think make the bundle worth it.

The Stop Yelling Handbook
by Amanda Rueter

The Stop Yelling Handbook is packed full of tips and techniques to help every day moms deal with the frustration and anger that comes with raising kids. 
Value: $7.99

When I was perusing the list of resources in this bundle this book immediately jumped out at me. I have become a yelling mama. This is something I specifically did NOT want to be. I’m finally at a place in my life where I am ready to start dealing with the yelling problem and this looks like a great way to get started.

 

A Realistic Action Plan for the Weary Mom:
15 Days of Hope from the Intentional Mom

by Jennifer Roskamp

An extensive book that examines 15 common issues that moms struggle with. This is exactly the hope that will breathe new life into your days. 
Value: $7.99

Since weary has been my buzzword lately, I was immediately drawn to this title. Most days I feel like I’m making it up as I go along, even though I’m someone that likes routine and structure. This book sounds like a great one to help me get a handle on my days again.

 

Training Your Children in Home Economics
by Angie Kauffman

Training Your Children in Home Economics addresses why learning Home Ec skills are important for children, as well as sections on skills in Money Management, Hospitality, Simple Sewing Skills, Gardening, Meal Planning, Meal Preparation, Kitchen Safety, Food Safety, Microwave Safety, Table Manners & Laundry Skills 
Value: $2.50

My husband and I were just discussing the other night how much we value practical life skills and how important we feel it is to teach our children these things, perhaps even as important as their formal education. It is also something that I was lacking a bit in my upbringing so I had a lot to learn when we first got married. This is a great resource to help get the process started for my own kids.

 

Creative Freewriting Adventure: A Journey Into Freewriting
by Stacy Farrell

Bring joy and excitement into your student’s writing with these simple-to-execute (yet significant) writing exercises. No prep required. Just grab a pen and paper, set a timer, and have fun! 
Value: $18.95

As a parent of a reluctant writer, and a creative writing teacher, I was very excited to see such a great resource included in this bundle. Whether you homeschool or not, many parents feel overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching their children to write. Yet, it is an essential skill often overlooked and underappreciated in the traditional classroom. This has the potential to be an invaluable resource toward fostering your child’s creativity and imagination.

 

Bonus Offer

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10 free audio stories for kids

Around the World Stories offers fun, original audio stories that introduce kids ages 5-12 to how children in other cultures live, play, learn, eat and celebrate. Each 30-minute story focuses on the adventures of a child from another country and comes with discussion topics, recipes and activities.
Value: $30

I have been so eager to try this. As lovers of Adventures in Odyssey and Sparkle Stories, this seemed like a perfect fit for our family. Plus, as homeschoolers, it’s a great way to cover some social studies and geography.

 

That’s it! If you only used those 5 products you would have gotten more than your money’s worth on this bundle. Feel free to visit the main bundle page to see a full list of all the products that are included. But not let it overwhelm you. Focus on the things that you think will really help your specific family
.


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I Belong Where I Am (And So Do You): Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: RStonejr Flickr via Compfight cc

 

It’s another one of those days. The ones where I was up in the night with a child who is old enough not to be up. So I drag myself out of bed much later than intended and already the world seems a wreck and I wonder if it’s even worth trying.

 

I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately about where I fit. Motherhood has this ability to make you feel both indispensable (as in, would anyone in this house be able to find their shoes without me) and useless. (They don’t listen, they constantly complain, and they tell me straight out they wish they were orphans). When the budget numbers won’t add up at the end of the month and the needs outstrip the resources, not even accounting for the wants; sometimes I wonder if this isn’t where I belong.

 

I gave up a job, rather than a career, because it seemed the easiest and best thing to do. In fact it was the dream. To be that stay at home mom. But now when there is more month than money I sometimes question my choice. She screams in my face about how she wishes she didn’t even have a mommy, when he flails and kicks and says I don’t love him and even the toddler gets in on the action. I wonder whether all these hours a day are worth it.

 

I could be being paid and potentially appreciated somewhere. Even if I didn’t love the work at least I’d have something to show for my days besides puffy eyes and weary shoulders.  But I always come back to the same thing: I am needed. I realize needed isn’t the same as valued. I also know that children rarely value their parents but I’ve seen the pain it is to be without them, so I choose to believe that this is my place.

 

I would like to offer some kind of pithy encouragement that makes it all better for those mamas in the trenches like me, wondering if this has all been a terrible mistake.  But all I have to offer is this.

 

This isn’t a mistake. Your life isn’t a mistake. Being mom to this kids, in this place at this time is what you were meant for.

 

It is paradoxical. We have these little creatures that we would die for but at the same time won’t share out secret dessert stash with. We want to give them the moon and yet, if I step on one more pile of toys I’ve asked them to clean up I may sell them to the zoo.

 

This is where I am. It is where I belong, even when I wish I didn’t. When I want to run, I can’t even comprehend where to go.  Because for better or for worse, and mostly some of both; I’m their mother. At least for now, I’m the educator, dishwasher, laundress, house cleaner, sibling fight referee boo boo kisser, and sometimes emotional punching bag.  But it’s my place and I move forward in the belief that somehow all if this is preparing me for what is ahead, both the beautiful and the difficult.

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Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 3

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Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I went into this week feeling pretty confident. I’m starting to see some positive results from my consistent effort. (I won’t share the actual full results and my personal stats until the end of Fit2B Inspired (Again), though.) It’s nice to finally feel as though my work is paying off and I’m starting to see visible results as well as feeling better.

 

 

Kelly Core Cardio / Kelly’s Big Band Routine

Kelly’s Big Band was a new one for me and it was also deceptively easy looking. Since I don’t own Bodylastics yet, I settled for a resistance band hooked through my stair banister and it worked quite well.

Kelly’s Core Cardio is a perennial favorite and combining the two make it a great full body workout.

 

 

Insane Upper Body

I’ve been kind of beating myself up for not being able to comfortably use my 6 lb dumbbells yet. It’s been discouraging to feel like I’m not making the kind of progress I want. But I also want to make sure I’m using proper form and alignment so I elected to use my lighter weights for this workout. I was pretty happy with that choice. Contrary to the name, this really isn’t insane. It’s difficult, depending on how heavy your weights are, but it is very attainable one. Just make sure you are focusing on proper body position and not on trying to lift your arms higher by contorting your body.

 

 

Insane 2

I’m always worried going into this one, but it actually wasn’t too bad. I did the easier versions of various positions but it was still challenging in the best possible way. So don’t let the name fool you, if you are feeling strong and learning to consistently and properly engage your core, this one is worth trying out.

 

 

Weighted Warriors

I love focusing on form with this workout while still adding additional resistance. This is not a fast workout, but the sustained movement required provides a challenge my muscles.

 

 

Tabata

I’m always a fan of Tabata. There is something so wonderful about only having to learn a couple of motions and repeating them in intervals. The intervals themselves are always helpful if you have frequent interruptions during your workout. Plus if you are just starting to kick you activity up a notch, the build in rest periods can let you catch your breath.

 

 

Restorative Poses III

I have never done this one before, so I was excited to try it. It is definitely as relaxing as the others, but with a couple of slightly more challenging poses. (Don’t worry, Beth provides tons of explanation and suggestions for modifications). This one is slightly longer because of the additional setup and explanation that goes with some of the poses. While I still like Restorative Poses I better, I would definitely still come back to this one.

 

 

Apparently 20-30 minutes is my sweet spot. The workout isn’t too long that I want to give up, but short enough that I can still fit it in. I’m able to stay consistent and not feel like working out most days of the week is a burden. I love feeling stronger. I can’t say that I’m necessarily having more energy, but that’s mostly my own fault for not getting enough sleep. I’ve been mostly successful with my efforts to cut back on sugar, though I can’t say that I’m not still tempted. I still allow myself treats on weekends and that enables me to resist pretty well during the week, without feeling totally deprived. All of those things together means that for the first time in a while, I’m pretty happy with my progress towards being stronger, and healthier. No, the scale hasn’t moved too much, but that was never the goal. The point was to be strong enough for the life I want. I may not be there yet, but I’m on my way.

 

 

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Are You Even Trying? Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: aqua.mech Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Are you even trying?

So often I utter these words to my kids, frequently in anger. Because when I ask them to complete a task, especially one that is well below their ability it is frustrating when it doesn’t even feel like they are making an effort.

They just stand there, eyes glazed over or flop around on the floor like a seizing fish. It is one of those buttons that gets pushed daily and I’m still figuring out how to moderate my response to.

Yes, I could help them. But I my brain runs ahead too a theoretical future where they can’t take care of themselves, where I am still picking up laundry for my 23 year old and my 30 year old still needs me to cook her meals.

But it’s really unfair.

Because I have a loving Father who sees me. He sees when I try and when I don’t even bother.  He knows my heart and my attitude. He can tell the difference between when I’m phoning it in and when I’m giving it my best but failing miserably.

When it comes to my kids or even the other adults in my life, I obviously can’t depend on omniscience to help me discern their motives. But I can extend them the benefit of the doubt. I can assume the best about them and provide my help, sans the judgement and frustration. That applies especially with my kids.

So before I utter those words in frustration and irritation, I can stop and reassess and choose to try harder myself.

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Fit2B Inspired (Again): Week 2

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Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Week 2

This week things got a little bit more difficult and I was still fighting exhaustion and stress but I really wanted to feel the sense of accomplishment when the week was over. So I powered through, this time in a good way. Meaning I took it easier when I needed to, but I still kept going.

 

 

Basic Step II

Since this is much longer than Basic Step I, I opted to use the lower height on my step and that was a good choice. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite cardio routines. I enjoy the choreography and even though I still frequently mess it up and end up on the wrong foot at the wrong time, I still find it energizing.

 

 

Ultimate Upper Body & Big {little} Band Workout

This is an interesting combo because one workout uses dumb bells and the other resistance bands. Therefore I felt like it balanced things out pretty well. I wisely opted for my lighter weights but still felt pretty bad about it. However, at the end of it, I felt like I had a great workout without totally depleting my energy stores.

 

 

Kickboxing

I love this workout. This particular day I was exhausted and it was very hot and humid. I wasn’t sure I would get through it. But I decided to try to focus and stay hydrated. There are lots of places where Beth offered modifications if I wanted them. But mostly I did the workout as written. A solid, interesting, high impact cardio workout using the interval method. So you don’t have to go at full throttled the whole workout, just for shorter intervals with small slow downs in between. Very manageable while still being serious cardio.

 

 

Yoga and Pilates Loaded

I’ve finally accepted my limits and I used my light weights today. It was still a great workout. The addition to weights to certain Pilates movements and yoga poses definitely adds a level of difficulty while still allowing me to maintain control of my movements.

 

 

Kelly Dean’s Total Body

I forgot what a punch this packs. The upper body portion alone was killer. This one seriously never gets old. I love that I can get such an intense workout without any exercise equipment. I appreciate the way Kelly alternates between core, upper body and lower body so each area has a chance to rest in between exercise intervals. If I had to pick a handful of workouts that I routinely choose, this is one of them.

 

 

Restorative Poses II

While relaxing, I definitely prefer Restorative Poses I. Maybe it’s just which muscles are tight in my body. This one is a tad shorter, but also very relaxing. I didn’t get to this one solo, I snuck it in while dinner was cooking and the kids were wandering about. But they mostly left me alone for it. I would have loved to take another hot bath and head to bed afterwards.

 

 

Beth Learn talks about about honoring your body and its limits. We want to grow stronger and we work towards that, but we also need to accept where we are and not push too hard. I am realizing that for some reason I am not as strong as I thought, so I am having to use lighter weights than I feel like I should. But I’m seeing the benefit of being kind to myself and still leaving room for growth.

 

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