Time for Change

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Physical movement.

Something I desire so much to do but something I’m able to make a million excuses not to do.

It really is hard to find the time. With my husband at school late into the evenings most of the week I don’t have that time available.  By the time I get Ezekiel fed, bathed and sleeping I have to run the diapers through the wash, pack lunches for the next day and all the little odds and ends to tidy the house at the end of it all I’m ready for bed myself.  I wake up at 5 every morning so that I get about 30-45 minutes to myself in the morning with a cup of coffee and some blog reading – that is essential to my mental health and not something I’m willing to give up.

Yet even as I write out that excuse I’m counteracting them with arguments – if this was really important to me i would figure it out and make it happen.

That friends is the real hard truth.

As I continue on this transition to more natural living, being mindful of my body, mind and spirit has become a daily practice.  Yoga is something that has always interested me but something I’ve been reluctant to really try out.  I think a lot of it stems from fear – fear that I won’t be able to do it, fear that I’ll be worse than the person next to me, fear that I’ll let myself down, fear, fear, fear.  In a spontaneous leap I signed Ezekiel and myself up for a mom and tots yoga class with a yoga studio here in Calgary that specializes in children’s yoga (you should check them out, they are amazing). Every Monday I have this dread of going but every Monday I leave the class feeling so incredibly grateful for that spontaneous decision.

Since starting that Monday class I’ve been more and more interested in developing a stronger personal practice of Yoga.  Not just for the physical benefits but for the mental and spiritual benefits as well.  There’s a studio by my house that I’ve been eyeing for months and looking up classes etc. but I keep putting it off.

Last year I was so active because I had the time and I developed a love and habit.  This year I’m continuing to learn how to navigate my way through this journey as a mom.  I recognize that it’s a journey and I recognize that I really need to adapt things in my life to reach my long term end goals.  In this case it’s wellness – physical but also mental and spiritual (they all pour into each other don’t they?).  So I’ve done a couple things to help myself towards that goal in small steps:

  1. I ordered a Fitbit (off Ebay to make it a bit more affordable for me).  I’m hoping it encourages me to get up and walk for a few minutes several times a day to counteract all the sitting I do at work.
  2. Tonight I committed to 15 minutes of yoga practice each day at home. I pushed myself to just suck it up and do a youtube video.  It was a simple relaxation 15 minute sequence and it was absolutely perfect, in fact I wasn’t ready for it to be done when it finished.  That was such a great feeling.  I’m not making any promises here but I’m going to try my hardest to just do 15 minutes a day – that time commitment is nothing in the grand scheme of things and if it’s anything like the rest of my life, once I commit to a small portion it blows up into the rest of my life and I become devoted.  I’m banking on that, but I’m also going to have grace with myself.

Change comes with small steps, having realistic goals and expectations for myself is how I’m hoping to make a long term change in my life.

My Meal Prep

It’s Saturday! Which means it’s my food prep day! I’ve only done this for two weeks now.  The first week was amazing, and I spoke briefly about how life changing it was here.  This week was a bit different as I’ve been sick so I haven’t been eating very well at all, however, the amount of time I saved each night was still just as helpful! I thought today that I would walk you through last weeks food prep and comment a bit about what was good and what I could improve on based on how my week went.

So let’s dive in.

I usually sit down on Thursday and brainstorm what types of foods I’ll make for the next week.  My general rules are: it has to be relatively quick to prepare and it needs to be healthy and nutritious.  I do try to have some variety and the trickiest part is preparing food for my son because he can be super picky while at the dayhome, in the end I pack him generally the same breakfast and snacks each day that I know he really loves and I pack a variety of lunches which are always hit and miss.  To be honest, usually my husbands food wins over mine when it comes to what Ezekiel will eat.  After preparing a list of what I’ll make I then create a shopping list.  I do my Superstore run on Friday evening after work for any dairy or packaged food (cereals, crackers mostly) and my Market run on Saturday morning with Ezekiel for all my produce.

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This is the size of my kitchen, not overly large and everything is pretty accessible and close.  I do try to clean as I go so it’s not so overwhelming at the end of my prep time.  Last week I set my timer to see how long it would take and it was about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

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For anything that needs to be heated I use glass containers, for anything else I’m ok with using plastic.  It’s a bit tricky strategizing what food will go in what container, by the end I have almost run out of containers.
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It really helps to be organized with your containers, I never have to search for lids or containers which speeds up the process considerably.

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Last week I used maple syrup.  I put the entire container of yogurt in a bowl and mixed in about 2.5 Tbsp maple syrup.

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I measured out the yogurt into individual portions – 6 for me and 5 for Ezekiel.  For Ezekiel I added some blueberries.
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This was my loot from the market last week.  It was an incredible deal and I couldn’t resist it.  I ended up making a bunch of fruit salad and then freezing the rest.  I should have frozen the majority of it.  The problem was that the fruit was ripe on the verge of overripe so when I made the salad it ended up going bad by Wednesday.

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I watch Netflix as I do this to keep me company. IMG_9034
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The biggest problem was that I added the fruit salad to my yogurt which means I wasted far too much food.  Lesson learned.  The frozen fruit has been really great for smoothies each morning, Ezekiel and I have been loving them.
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One of Ezekiel’s favourite snacks is cheese and crackers.
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I also send cereal each day.  This is my favourite brand for Ezekiel, it’s got great ingredients and is far more nutritious than regular cheerios.

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Cut up veggies has been amazing for lunches and to snack on at home.   Even Ezekiel loves snacking on veggies.  I pack a big container (on the right) and then I can eat as much as I want, I just keep bringing the same container each day and I bring a dip as well.  I have wasted far less veggies doing this because I don’t get lazy and they are ready to eat so no more prep needed!
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Boiled eggs are easy and fast to grab and go, and super healthy!
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This is how I prepared the fruit to freeze, then when they were completely frozen I put them into ziplock bags.  When you do it this way they won’t stick together in the bags.

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That’s it! 2 hours of work that saved me at least 1 hour each night! I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

Do you have any meal prep tips? I’m always looking for easier more efficient ways to do things.

The Juggling Act

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It’s been 9 months since I became a full time working momma.  It’s been 9 months since I became the “bread winner” of our family.  It’s been 9 months of trying to juggle

  1. My family
  2. My work
  3. My house
  4. My yard
  5. My social life
  6. My finances
  7. My sanity

That’s a lot of balls to juggle. Most of the time I’ve dropped a few at a time, other times I’m dropping at least one and small amounts of time for very brief moments I have them all in the air and it’s a beautiful balance.  Of course the goal is to continue the beautiful balance, but the reality is that it takes a lot of practice to be able to juggle 7 balls.  It starts by juggling a couple balls, and gradually increasing the amount until you can keep them going for extended amounts of time.

I want that, I long for that, and I continue to practice daily. What I also try to be cognizant of, is the fact that sometimes it’s just not possible, and sometimes a ball has to drop – and that is ok.

After 9 months I think I’ve become pretty good at juggling 3-4 balls at a time.  Family, work, and the house are the main three, and I’m at a point where it’s almost easy to juggle those three.  It took a lot of focus, a lot of patience, and a lot of working out what was the most important things to me with each of those balls.  When it comes to my family, I know that I will not be able to spend as much time as I would really like with them, so the little time I do have I make sure that I’m completely 100% there.  That means, very little house work, no TV and as little phone as possible.  It means giving Ezekiel my full attention, doing activities that he is going to enjoy even if I don’t.  It means staying up a little bit later to be with my husband.

When it comes to work, I need to be there, do the best I can do and to excel.  That means when I’m at work I do my best to be completely there and not distracted by the other things going on in life.  It really helps that I LOVE who I work with and I LOVE being at work.  I am passionate about what I do and so working is an easy thing for me to do.

When it comes to my house my priority continues to be to keep a clean, tidy, peaceful and beautiful home.  This means that I have to find the time each week to do a good cleaning.  It means taking a few extra minutes a day to tidy up around the house so that at the end of the week I’m not overwhelmed with what I have to do.  I’ve started cleaning on Friday nights and the last month or so it’s really worked out well.  It doesn’t take all that long to do and then the bulk of it is done so I can spend my Saturday with Ezekiel.

The yard is my second baby right now.  Of course I love to be outside in the garden admiring the growth, but I’m not always great at getting the lawn cut and having it perfectly manicured.  I’m realizing that our yard will take us a long time to get to where we are truly 100% happy with it.  We’ll continue to make little changes each year as we have time and can afford to.  My husband has just as big of ambitions as I do when it comes to the yard and landscaping so I know he’ll help out a lot.  The nice thing about living in Canada is the fact that yard work really only lasts half the year and then you get a break.

My social life is severely lacking right now, and it’s the ball that I willingly drop to let all the other balls continue to be up in the air.  It sucks.  A.LOT. Having only one day out of the week off and a husband who takes evening classes makes it near to impossible to spend any time with my friends.  I try to stay connected and put in effort via text messages etc, but even that I’m not great at.  This is the area that I feel I lack the most in.  Most days I feel like the worlds worst friend, yet I know my friends also have busy work schedules and family life, so they are typically in the same boat as me.  It’s the crappy part of growing up I suppose.

My finances are always difficult – being a one income household, but I’m fairly happy with how I manage them.  There’s always room for improvement, but only so much you can do! Learning to live within our means and understanding where to make the sacrifices is helpful, and like everyone in the world sometimes I make foolish decisions!

Lastly, my sanity! This past week I’ve realized so many things about what I need to do to keep my sanity.  I think I’ll start a mini series on how I keep my sanity working 6 days a week and 55 hours in that week.  I know I’m not the only one out there working hard to keep their family fed, clothed, and sheltered.  It’s a big job and a big responsibility and when it falls to the wife/mom to do it’s often a lot bigger of a job than if it was the husband (forgive this generalization!).  Women tend to be more aware of the household rather than just working to pay the bills.  We work to pay the bills then work to keep the house, then work to keep the yard etc.

Life is an ebb and flow of motion and I’m so grateful to be here to enjoy the ride.

Changes

Well, today was potentially my last shift on the pediatric oncology unit for 2 months.

Part of thriving for me this year is making difficult choices in order to thrive as a mother and a wife.

Working full time is difficult in and of itself, but working full time 12 hour shift work is especially difficult.  For myself, I love it and I love everything about my job. However, for my husband it was just too stressful alongside school work to take care of Ezekiel.  I made the difficult decision to give up my permanent position to go casual and start looking elsewhere for a position that had better hours.  I prayed and trusted that God would make something work – He always does.  Out of the several resumes I submitted, I interviewed for four positions and was offered a casual position in the adult oncology clinics.

It was bittersweet leaving work today.  I’m sad that I’ll be gone for a while and I’m sad that the amount of work I will have there is uncertain.  I’m excited for a bit of a change of pace, and I’m excited that I get to continue in oncology and learn so much more.  I never imagined that I would love oncology as much as I do, and I never imagined I’d be relieved to continue to work in oncology.

I have a week off before I start my orientation and I’m ready to spend the week organizing and cleaning.  I’m ready to have a week to just do a bit of de-cluttering of my house, my mind, my body, my spirit.  A new year always brings these feelings for me.  I love the idea of starting fresh, and I’m ready to do so.  I’m entering the year in great anticipation of wonderful things to come.  I’ve had a lot of stress coming into this week but when I stepped into my house tonight I had a sense of great relief.  God comes through again, and He knows exactly what I need and how to get me to that point.

Back To Work Meal Prep: Planning

Back To Work Meal Prep

With my impending return to work my mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.  The main thought being: How will I balance life while working full time?

I know that it’s going to take time.  I realize that it’s going to be difficult, on everyone, but I am determined to make one small (or large to us) part a little more simple.

Food.

Food is a passion for myself and my husband.  We LOVE food.  We are very particular about our food as well, eating mostly fresh produce with grain fed and finished meat that has been ethically butchered (if you believe in such a thing).  My goal when I go back to work is to have a freezer full of food.

Frozen breakfasts that are convenient to grab and go as we run out the door.

Frozen lunches that will be simple for me to pull out of the freezer and pack for all of us the night before.

Frozen meals that will be simple to pull out, defrost, and bake, or cook accordingly so that when my husband picks up Ezekiel from daycare and comes home, it’s a simple and quick way for them to eat before Ezekiel goes to bed.

Frozen baked goods so that I’m not tempted to spend money at the coffee shop at work.

One thing I’m aiming for is making food that both my husband and I enjoy, and that we are ok with feeding to Ezekiel.  For the baked goods that means making them all refined sugar free and also gluten free.

I’ve been brainstorming and list making for a few weeks.  This week I started on the actual making food process and it has been so therapeutic.  If I’m stressed or worried put me in the kitchen to cook, or give me some cleaning supplies and all my problems seem to melt away.  I’ll be documenting my process in parts for the next 6 weeks and then updating on how it’s going and what could be improved once we’ve implemented it.

So here’s the first step: Planning!

In the picture at the top of this post you’ll see my “Kitchen Book.” I’ve recently implemented it to document all things food for us.  I’m famous in my house for making an incredible meal, not writing down the recipe and not remembering how I made it.  It drives my husband crazy so I’m hoping this resolves the problem! I now jot down the recipes that I make and that we like, and add notes each time I make it if I’ve tweaked anything in the recipe.  I am also using this book for all my back to work meal prepping.

Back To Work Meal Prep

To start I’ve made a freezer inventory that I’ll add to as I stockpile the freezer, as well as cross off items once they’ve been used.  You’ll notice that our meat selection is pretty slim, but all that ground meat is going to be great for some freezer meals! We order bulk from an incredible ranch that has won awards for the ethical treatment of animals, and if we want something else before another bulk order we just buy specifics at the Farmers Market.  I’m trying to stretch out our meat until I return to work and can afford to place another bulk order.  Anyways, let’s get on to the next list.

Back To Work Meal Prep

This is my brainstorming list of meals that can be easily frozen.  Most of these we’ve tried and enjoy, but I’m adding more and more to the list that we haven’t tried.  If there’s a recipe we’ve never tried, I’ll be testing it first before making it for the freezer.  The breakfast sandwiches and burritos will be for us to grab on our way out the door in the morning.  My goal is to have at least a months worth of meals frozen (that means a month of my work days-so 14), hopefully more but I’ll aim for a month to start with and see where we go from there.

Back To Work Meal Prep

This is my list of baking that I want to make and freeze.  I’ve already crossed quite a few off of this list!  The problem with that is, I’m already dipping into my stash!

So there you have it.  My back to work meal prep AKA my back to work stress relief.

Any advice for a first time momma going back to work full time?  I listened to a Podcast this week from Elise Blaha called Elise Gets Crafty: Finding A Happy Balance that was all about a full time working momma.  It was really encouraging for me and put my heart at ease, so if you find yourself in the same boat as me I suggest giving it a listen!