Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Focus.. hello? Are you out there?

I'm so unfocused right now and feeling kind of overwhelmed at the same time. I'm not focused on anything.. certainly not triathlon. Has me a bit nervous for Knoxville! I'm sure I'll survive.

I'm not even focused enough to write a blog about it. UGh! Thus why I haven't posted in a while.

I have 2.5 hours to myself 4 times a week and they are mostly taken up with workouts. All I want right now is to lay in bed and read the upteen thousand books I have checked out from the library... none of which are about triathlon. I'm reading about simplicity, the environmental impact of our over consumption... guess it's all kinda heavy and has me wanting to be in my head and not outside my body doing the things I have to do as a mother and athlete... can't I just get a tent and go into the woods for a little while? Please? No, oh fine!

So I do my workouts... read some books... feed/cloth/bathe/play with some kids... interact with my husband.... work w/ the contractors that are currently fixing the ice damning (I mean damming) damage to our house and day dream about being able to sell it sooner than later.

That's about it.

Sorry I'm not more uplifting and all go ho and what not about the pending tri season. I keep saying it will come. It will come, right? Of course it will. I guess this is my blog and part of the reality of this Wife.Mother.Athlete gig is that it's not all always great fun... so here's your daily dose of reality....

As we know ladies.. life happens... we keep our chin up and carry on!

Off to the woods w/ the kids and dog. Right after I bake this loaf of bread. We're hunkering down a little I suppose!

What do you do when you just want to escape!?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Foodee Project - fits nicely w/ this simplification thing

I've simplified much of our house (there is still some work to be done), but I am now working on simplifying the many projects, processes and tasks of my life. One big one is MEAL PLANNING!!!!

How do you simplify your meal planning? PLEASE OH PLEASE tell me. Okay.

I've NEVER been good at this and it's definitely a process, but I wanted to share something that I just stumbled upon. Side note: I am working to incorporate more meat into my diet (previously vegan/veg) and am lacking delicious ways to prepare it. This site focuses on Paleo style eating - just FYI. If you're not so much into the meat you can skip this. :)

FOODEE to the rescue!

Basically they have a recipe a day - which I kindly added to my left side bar for your convenience and mine. All recipes are archived on their site. I originally thought these were recipes they were compiling peronsally, but when I clicked on one to check it out I was redirected to another blog. SHEER GENIUS! Now I don't have to spend time searching the web to come up with these things on my own. Browsing through other people's blogs (You know I LOVE to read blogs) and getting distracted by their other content. Yes, it does take me to these people's blogs so I guess I still run the risk of clicking away from the recipe and getting sucked in.

You can also submit your own yummy delicious recipes .... to drive traffic to your blog and allow people to get sucked in! Wink, Wink! :)

I'm happy to support this site and hope you'll check it out! I've got three meals from this site alone on my meal plan for the upcoming week. It really has made my life so much easier!!!

THANK YOU Foodee keep 'em comin'!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Triathlon and balance

 Travel gear for ONE month for STEVE's trip.
I've been reading a ton (I go in spurts.. I'll be a voracious reader on a particular topic and then I won't read for a long time.. it's like taking a drink from the fire hose then suffering through a drought.) about simplicity and minimalism ("Minimalism isn’t about being cool or hip (though some might think so). It’s about re-examining our lives. It’s bucking against the trend of over-consumption, of consumption as the fundamental act of our lives. It’s a critique of the status quo of owning too much, of mindless buying of gadgets and big cars and clothes and other luxury items." quoted from While minimalism can be quite extreme it appeals to me. I'm not in a position to delve so far so to have only a knapsack of belongings and travel through Europe with no source of income, but the idea of owning less and ending my consumerist style of living has great appeal. We've started to downsize quite a bit and I will say it's both freed up my time and seems to be starting to free up my mind while introducing me to a new way of thinking.

I'm thinking about how we are spending our money a great deal lately. We are by no means over spenders (and by we I'm mostly talking about myself bc Tom barely spends any money at all), but I know we (okay.. I'll just start saying I) spend money on things we don't 'need'. I want to work on 'needing' less. I want our family to live our life to it's fullest. I want to DO things together that are both fun and enriching.. not spend all our money on things, but on experiences. Anyway. I could go on and on and on... but I have no concrete answers to it all that I'm ready to share.

Hmm. This ONE RACE worth of stuff looks similar to Steve's ONE MONTH of stuff.
The other day as I'm driving along and thinking about all of this this pops into my head, "Can I be a 'minimalist' and an athlete.. specifically a TRIATHLETE!?" We aren't exactly known for SIMPLICITY or MINIMALISM. How much gear does it take to complete a triathlon not to mention the bottles and clothes we go through in any given week. I mean seriously. And don't even get me started on the shear quantity of food we can throw down!

In the end... yes, I think there is a way to find balance in it all. I have gone through my workout clothes and gotten rid of the non-essentials. You know those jerseys/shirts/shorts that are always rolling around in the back of the drawer. The ones you pick up, look at and then see you 'favored' and choose that one instead and the race shirts that are so ugly but you earned them, but you hang on to the extras for the days that you are behind on laundry and your favorites aren't available. The beauty of it is by getting rid of non-essential things in my life it's a rarity for me to get so far behind on the laundry that I NEED the 'extra' clothes. So away they went and I haven't missed them. A lot of the plastic bottles have found their way to good will or the recycling as well. Not a problem what so ever. Might need to wash a bottle pre-ride when the training volume gets longer and 'exhaustinger', but I'm cool w/ that to have some space in my life.

When it comes down to it part of the LIVING piece of the puzzle includes triathlon for me so it will always be worked into the program. I'll be talking about how to get it done... as I figure it out! Hmm wonder how Tom would feel about starting w/ the 11 bikes and 6 frames we have rolling around the garage! Probably not going to be 'downsizing' any of those. We could fill a small house w all of our bike stuff. I did get him to get rid of all his old extra helmets. Really, you have only ONE head why 6 helmets? Next up the 7 pairs of bike shoes. I get it.. you need road and mountain, but beyond that?????

How much GEAR do you have rolling around and how much of it is redundant and EXTRA!? Why do you keep it?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tri Season is upon us folks!

 For $10 off race entry enter TRAKKERS27 at check out.

Okay. Time to get my head in the GAME! Tri season is here. REAL training has begun and my head is elsewhere (in case you hadn't noticed). It's all good though. I'm hitting the workouts (uh, except the swims last week. Additional level of scheduling headache w/ the hubs traveling and my regular swim time being in the evening.. post kid's bed.) I think I've got it nailed for this week. Time is carved out and plans are made (I sit down w/ my calendar every Sunday and make sure my workouts are SCHEDULED!!! this helps me insure that I get them done. I do have to juggle sometimes, but for the most part I can hit them) so I'm hopeful that my two swims will happen... though I'll be swimming solo and we all know how that usually turns out. Not quite as good as when I'm training w/ my friends, but something better than nothing.

Rev3 Knoxville is only 8 weeks away. EEK! I'm feeling okay. I lack focus a bit right now, but so long as I'm getting my workouts done I'm happy. The running is still painful... BOO! I'm suspecting that I'm going to be limping along all season because, let's face it, I'm not going to have any time to get off it for months to truly let it heal. I KNOW I need to do some yoga and I'm working on (meaning planning and getting my mind around getting up earlier) finding a place to fit it in. I've only ever overcome an injury and gotten back to pain free running through yoga. We all know it would benefit us... as would uh, swimming, biking, running, eating, sleeping and strength training. Who wants to pay me to just exercise all day? Cause I'll do it! Any takers? I can set up a paypal button on here and you can just start clicking it! :)

For $10 off race entry enter TRAKKERS27 at check out.
I'm no longer racing Rev3 Quassy either (oh, how plans change after the initial hub bub wears off and reality sets in). I AM working with Rev3 as the Local Volunteer Coordinator and I'm having so much fun with it. I mentioned some of the connections I'm making as a result. I've gotta say I love LJ too! She's so amazingly energetic and delightful. SO.. if you are coming to the race, but aren't racing (or you, uh, live here) click on THIS link and hit SIGN ME UP! and volunteer for this great race. It's an amazing experience to volunteer and gives great perspective as an athlete. Give back to your sport! You know you want to!
 For $10 off race entry enter TRAKKERS27 at check out.

Originally I had planned on doing Rev3 Portland as well, but things have changed. For a few reasons... 1. Money money money - all frequent flier miles have been used up for our trip to Texas for the MS150 in April.
2. Family. A trip to the PNW to do a race also includes crazy running around to see family. I wouldn't feel right going out there just to race and not going to see everyone. This would add a level to stress that I don't want to put the family through. We will find a time for a family only non-race related trip.
3. We are taking the kids to DISNEY World for their birthday. They don't know yet. We're going to do that 'hey kids, wanna go on an adventure today. Get dressed we're going to Disney." thing. This goes w/ the 'spend our money on family time' and not on items thing. Though Disney is FAR FROM MINIMALIST! ha :) To each their own.

Now I'm speculating as to whether or not I need to (should) do a local HIM. Thoughts on that? Can I hit a Full Triathlon without first doing a HIM? Coach says absolutely.. what are your thoughts fellow AGE GROUPERS!?

For $10 off race entry enter TRAKKERS27 at check out.

We're not even going to talk about Rev3 Cedar Point yet. Maybe after we get through Knoxville. Still totally freaks me out to think about it so I generally just don't! :)
For $10 off race entry enter TRAKKERS27 at check out.

Capping off with Rev3 South Carolina will be great fun. I'll be looking for what coach calls the Ironman Bounce.. a little bit of extra speed doing a shorter (God, really?) race after a longer race. Or I might be just glad to be heading back to my alma mater for some fun with the team and reunions with fellow alumni. We'll see how I'm feeling when we get there!

I am getting paid or three workouts a week so I suppose I shouldn't complain too much! My spins are going great. Coach has worked it so I have my three spins a week to just wreck myself w/ speed work and big gears and then I do one nice long ride outside. This works surprisingly well for me. I have a hard time killing myself on a ride outside, but I have a hard time NOT killing myself in a spin workout. Go figure.

In addition to this a buddy and I are putting together a tri program at the gym where I teach spin (New Milford Sports Club) that starts in June (yes, that's late, but it's for a sprint in August) and I'll be running a run and bike program as well in April and May. I'm really looking forward to sharing my love of sport w/ others and I get an enormous high from seeing people succeed in their athletic endeavors!

Should hear about whether or not I got into the NYC Marathon sometime mid April. Here's hoping that TP and I both get in. It would be a great way to cap off the season before hanging it up for some R&R.

Let's do this thing!!

How are you feeling about your upcoming season? HIM pre IM a necessity or a luxury?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kid fun - Making Playdough

My kids have taken a real liking to play doh and I really hate the smell of it. Plus I don't need to buy more play doh containers so I decided to reuse the containers I already have (which are many) and make our own. It's so easy and non-toxic and I bet you've got everything you need around your house right now!

The kids really love to help and feel pride in making their own stuff. They put everything in the pot, I cook it, it cools, they kneed and put the food coloring of their choice in. Viola! Fun making it and more fun creating with it.

 Here's all it takes.

Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

food coloring (liquid or powder)

Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes.

When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle. (if it feels sticky just keep cooking it until it no longer feels sticky.)

 Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring.

Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring1 in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the playdough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. You could use gloves or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean- only the concentrated dye will color your skin, so as soon as it's worked in bare hands are fine.

Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen color.

They were proud of themselves. Lily had enough attention span left to actually play with it. Jason was pretty tapped out by the time we were done (though it was pretty quick) and they are both outside running now. Off to make dinner.

This really does take up much more of my day than Triathlon! ha I promise there is a post coming on my up coming race and the training that is ramping up.

Scott (a co-worker at New Milford Sports Club) and I had a good meeting today with some potential athletes for our tri program and I'm hopeful that we'll get at least 10 people on board so we can run the program. I can't wait to see them cross the finish line and experience the joy of accomplishing such a huge goal!

Friday, March 18, 2011


As you can see by my latest posts I haven't been focusing on triathlon or running too much ... I was 'recovering' from my marathon. I have still been exercising and running a bit here and there, but my mental energy has been other places. I've enjoyed the hiatus.

It's reminded me that I STILL need to work on balance. This blog is called WIFE.MOTHER.ATHLETE! Not just ATHLETE! I got all swept up and carried away in the Trakkers thing. Which is still totally awesome and I still can't believe that I'm a part of it all, but I need to also attend to, talk and write about the other two aspects of my life and therefore this blog. So in the posts to come you can expect to see more stuff about my other roles... along w/ my athletic endeavors.

Just sayin'.

Off to continue with some recovery SLEEPING!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Connections and Inspiration from an amazing woman - Susanne Navas

 I have been working away on both cleaning my house out in preparation for what I hope to be very exciting things AND working on recruiting volunteers for Rev3 Quassy.

Through the latter commitment I have been meeting people left and right, but only one in person. Susanne Navas lives in a neighboring town and I just had to talk about her here. I was tipped off to her presence by LJ from Rev3. Someone else within the Rev3 organization had met some representatives from the ACHIEVE kids tri program and suggested that we look into it here because there was an ACHIEVE chapter in the Waterbury area. I sent an email to a generic email address off their site and was directed to Susanne.

We exchanged an email and it seemed we had some things in common. She's a triathlete, mom and ambassador for a healthy lifestyle. I just knew I had to meet her. Who can't use a great training partner and friend?

This woman gets STUFF DONE! And she does it with grace!

Susanne is the head coach of the Waterbury Acheive kids tri program through the Waterbury YMCA (which I might add she spearheaded getting started in her community because she believes in it so much), she runs her own life, career and tri coaching business called Reboot through which she does and Active Women's Group, a Girls Program, group coaching and individual coaching. She is a driving force in her community to get people moving!

Susanne and I got together to talk about her involvement with Rev3 and because I am always looking to make great connections with other active women in my community.. or, er, surrounding communities. I had a very easy time of this in other communities I've been in, but it hasn't come as easy here. Don't get me wrong I have a great training partner that I love dearly, but I'm looking for a community of women to get together and inspire each other. Okay ... this is hard with the mommy gig I know!

I had no idea what to expect when meeting Susanne, but I was very excited. I've met a lot of women in the triathlon world... and most are fairly type A and it shows itself quickly. Susanne came in and she was very unassuming and while she was wearing an "I tri like a girl" shirt (which I believe she sells HERE. She does a little bit of everything doesn't she?) she had more of the yogini chill zen aura about her then the hard core triathlete kick ass and take names aura. I didn't instantly feel intimidated by her! (This is all good.) She listened to what I had to say and shared a lot of things about her life, but not in a boastful manner... just in a 'this is my life' manner.

I walked away from our little meeting so inspired by the fact that she sees something that she thinks is cool and worthwhile and she goes home and DOES IT. MAKES it happen in her community. This is how she got started with Acheive. She saw it in the back of a magazine on her way back from Ironman Cozumel (yea she's an ironman too) and when she got home she made it happen. She jumped any and all hurdles (to include getting USAT certified) to bring that program to her community. This just kicks ass if you ask me. I would have though oh what a great program. Looked to see if there was a chapter locally that I could volunteer with and when I discovered that there wasn't I would have been bummed and moved on. I would never have dreamed that little ol' me could get that kind of thing going. Not Susanne man she picked up that phone and made it happen. I'm so in awe of that. And in awe of her nature. I mean if you just met her you never would guess all that is behind her! She's unassuming! Not all "look at me I'm a total bad ass that gets so much stuff done". She's a pillar in her community without being boastful about it.

Her latest thing (which she again discovered in a magazine) is to do a Walking Bus ... basically she's going to be meeting kids (with the help of other adult chaperons) at the local Starbucks to walk to school instead of riding the bus. A subtle way to bring activity to the community and accentuate the need for more sidewalks to facilitate a more active life style.

On top of this she emailed me to see if Rev3 would be interested in donating some t-shirts for the kids to wear during these walks - which will go on the entire month of April. Always thinking about helping her community. WoW!

When I asked her how she mobilize people in such an amazing way her response again was very humble. "I never really thought about it.  I guess I just live my life, & always try to have fun & be thankful."

She's a starter and a doer this one. And a keeper. I can't wait to spend more time with Susanne. I hope to be involved in what she's got going on... because I'm mostly a doer not so much a starter.

Check her out and be inspired to be the best YOU can be and to start doing things in your own community.

Are you a starter or a doer? Do you know a 'Susanne' in your community? What can you do to instill a more active and healthful lifestyle in your own community? It starts with us people!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Minimalism and Simplicity - The Kid's Rooms

I'm skipping right along to Chapter 3: Environment of Simplicity Parenting because it jives with what's up here at the Mount household. Clean it out and simplify!

Our kids have too much stuff. And by 'our' I don't mean mine I mean 'our' in the collective sense. Most of the kids in America have a pluthera of toys they rarely if ever play with. They are scattered here and there, tucked in places, found on the kitchen floor and in the living room. It's rare to go to a friends house (I'm including my house here folks) that has kids without tripping on at least ONE toy.

Have you ever sat back and watched the kids go through the process of play with so many toys. They are like bulls in a china shop pulling everything out and running around like maniacs dropping toys in their wake. They are crazy eyed and lack focus. Then it's time to clean up and they whine and complain that there is TOO MUCH for them to do it all. (Okay parents this is clue numero uno.. if there are too many toys for your kid to clean up there are likely just too many toys in general.) And every time we are out they are begging and pestering us for more toys when the ones at home barely get played with. They really just get dumped on the floor and then put away.

Here's the deal (according to the book) imagine you collected all of these toys... from all areas of the house wherever they have landed. Now imagine that huge pile in your family room. This pile needs to be halved, then halved again and perhaps again. Discard what's no longer even working, donate others that are never played with, store some to be reintroduced later (I did not do this) and the rest are your keepers.

There is lengthy discussion about the types of toys that should be kept. Basically all the ones with batteries.. yea, they can go. (good luck w/ that.) That toy that promised that it would get your kid into Harvard.. guess what, it probably won't. Kids learn the best when they are sort of left to their own devices to use some creativity. Ever seen a kid pick up a stick and use it as any number of things? (We are currently on sword battles. Yeah!)

Here is the 10 point check list for toys that NEED TO GO!
1. Broken
2. Developmentally inappropriate (you know the ones you are holding onto from their younger years or the ones you got from someone, but your kid isn't really ready for just yet.)
3. Conceptually 'fixed' toys - leave nothing to the imagination - think 'character toys'.
4. Toys that 'do too much' and 'break too easily' - most of those battery operated monstrosities.
5. Very high stimulation toys - think flashing lights, mechanical voices, speed and sound effects.
6. Annoying or offensive toys - awful noises, project an offensive attitude or are generally ugly
7. Toys that claim to give your child a developmental edge
8. Toys you are pressured to buy
9. Toys that inspire corrosive play - not only guns and weapons, but anything that inspires play that isn't joyful and fun
10. Toy multiples

The book even moves into the realm of your child's book collection. I have had some direct experience with this one. At bed time your kid goes to pick his/her bedtime stories and has so many choices that it takes them an eternity to choose. The book suggests only 6 or so books per kid. Store the others to rotate in as you see fit. My kids didn't notice that I took most of their books away and now choosing stories at night doesn't become a battle. I put the rest in a bin up in my room in the attic where I can rotate them in and we go to the library to change it up a bit.

There is a long section about what to keep. Think basic multipurpose toys. Toys that aren't locked into one thing usage. You want your kids to be able to use their imaginations for part of the equation.

 Now that you have gone through and gotten rid of a large chunk of toys what do you do with what remains? You put the favorite toys where the kid can see them and you take the rest and put them in 1 to 2 bins that are covered so as not to distract them from play. They can still play with them obviously as they want, but they aren't bombarded by their presence and distracted by them.

All of these ideas apply to your child's wardrobe as well. We have also cleaned out their clothes (okay mostly it's my daughter that needed this.) and it's helped tremendously. Lily is quite particular about what she wears and she had a lot of clothes that did not fit the bill, but I liked them and was hopeful that she would wear them. Okay really? She won't wear them. They would just end up on the floor so she could get to the ones she wanted so my only interaction with these outfits was to pick them up off the floor to put them back where they go. So out the went. Now she has only her favorites to choose from and it is a manageable amount of clothing that she can take care of it herself (to include putting it in the drawers after I wash it for her).

Your goal with your child's space is to offer them an uncluttered space that is inviting and restful to the senses so they can go in there and productively be themselves. Imagining and creating and LEARNING!

Again I have no before pictures, but here are the after pictures of my kid's rooms. I'm loving it! They are now able to pick up after themselves with out complaining that there is too much stuff. And guess what, they haven't even NOTICED that most of their stuff is gone. Yes there has been the occasional 'where is xyz?" and I just say, "I don't know did you look in your bin?" and they usually trot off and then forget about it.

As an aside I had an epiphany the other day about this subject. Our bedroom is nearly empty aside from a bed, two end tables and two chairs. It's a big space - bigger than any bedroom we've ever had and we never purchased any more furniture. The kids LOVE to play up there and I never really got it because there is nothing up there. They would usually bring a few animals with them and just go to town up there... for hours. After reading this book I get it. It's like they've been trying to communicate all of this to me and I just wasn't hearing them.

The light blue/dark blue paint was already there. We added the circles because his sister had circles and he wanted some too.
 That's it. Those are all the toys! (I do have some games stashed for us to all play together.)
 I've since moved Lily's bed to open up the room and allow for more play area.
And the night stand holds all her clothes except her dresses.
 She loves to draw/color.
 The rest of her clothes and her toys.

This process is ongoing and I've really enjoyed the results. If you aren't ready to go whole hog and get rid of stuff I suggest that you get yourself some bins/boxes and just try it for one month. See if your kids notice and how they react and see how you feel as the parent now that you don't have to constantly trip on your kid's stuff and nag them to put it away!

This book is worth the read I'm serious! Pick up a copy at the library or a used copy from Amazon then pass it along to a friend or sell it on Amazon ... that's the simple way to do it! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Minimalism and Simplicity - Parenting

I am a woman obsessed. This is pretty normal for me. Find something ... latch onto it... assume it will fix all the world's problems... consume myself... make changes... move on to next life altering greatness.

My current WORLD's PROBLEM solver is simplicity. I'm not sure that it is the solution to the world's problems, but I know it's helping me a TON!

The book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, M.Ed was recommended to me by a dear friend. She's one of the women/mom's that just gets me (my BFF from the Austin Marathon trip - Mama Marie) and has a similar parenting style to mine so I just knew this book would be a good one! And it certainly didn't hurt that it is in line w/ my current love of simplifying.

This book continues to rock my parenting world.

Here is a blurb from their site that I thought was spot on in describing the book (ironic huh? On their very own site!)

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne offers a simple, orderly, and effective pathway to simplify four realms at home, which reduces stress on children and their parents, and allows room for connection, creativity, and relaxation.

Environment: De-cluttering too much stuff at home.
Rhythm: Increasing predictability by introducing rhythmic moments for connection and calm.
Scheduling: Soothing violent schedules brings moments for Being into all the Doing.
Unplugging: Reducing the influence of adult concerns, media and consumerism on children and families to increase resilience, social and emotional intelligence.
Parents who take steps along this pathway to simplify their homes and their schedules, to introduce more predictable rhythms and to filter out concerns which children are not yet able to cope with, find that their children:

• Are calmer and happier
• Do better socially and emotionally
• Are more focused at school
• Find it easier to comply with family rules
• Become less picky eaters

These parents also find that they themselves:
• To have a clearer picture of what they value as parents
• Are more united with each other in their parenting
• Have more time and energy for connection, relaxation, and fun

I will continue to do posts around the books suggestions - what I'm doing and how it's going.

In the meantime check your local library, cruise around the website and try some of this in your own home and see how much easier it can make things for everyone!

How's the clutter in your kid's life? How do you think it effects them?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Minimalism and Simplicity - The Kitchen

Perhaps because people are cracking up over my drawer photos (well, just the guys.. ha) I thought I should add that I was inspired by Kath at KERF to do this post. She shared (much better) photos of her kitchen and it gave me the kick in the rear to finish mine up!

I finally feel like I've dwindled the kitchen down to a comfortable level. I thought I would share my "after" photos. Unfortunately I don't have the "before" photos of my cupboards and pantry stuffed full of unused items. My wine glasses and martini glasses used to be kept in a separate room because there were too many to fit in my already cluttered kitchen. That was my last 'let go'.. how many wine and martini glasses do I really need? We don't ever entertain.. and probably won't start any time soon. And if we do I can ask someone to please bring some glasses for me to borrow for the evening. Right? :)

So here are some photos. No, it's not always this neat, but I have been trying to leave it looking like this at the end of the day so I wake up to a fresh start each morning. All you other stay at home moms know just how much time we can end up spending in this space any given day.

Nice clear counters. Not the case in the 'before' photos. (Making some chicken broth.)

Ah, my favorite spot in the kitchen. The beloved coffee bar. The white bins on the bottom hold 'office' items like envelopes, our check book, stamps, note cards, stapler etc. The basket on the left is a place I can put random toys found on the breakfast bar until they can be placed in kid's rooms later. The basket on the right holds all my teas.

 Where I keep track of what's up at Che Mount. The family calendar and the filing system. All "to be filed" (upstairs) items go here along w/ kids homework, currently the kindergarten registration paperwork and a drawing to frame. 
 This pantry used to be a nightmare catch all for things I couldn't find a place for. It's since been pared down to 'essentials'.. though Tom and I just had a discussion about some of the attachments for the stand mixer that are rarely - if ever - used that will likely go. I am following his lead on this as they are really his things.

 There are more glass food storage containers that fill in some of the bare spots, but they are all currently in use in the fridge.
 I keep the most used pans (small sauce pan and omelet pan) in the cupboard above the microwave along w/ our hot pads.

I could probably stand to downsize my spices, but I'm not one to throw things out. 

I've got to say that I'm pretty proud of myself for completing this task. I usually find all kinds of excuses to keep things and I've been pretty aggressive in the kitchen and feel so much lighter now. I'm not constantly moving things to find the things that I need to use quickly. I'm able to keep the counters clean because they aren't covered in stuff. I try really hard to use the same coffee and water cup all day. I'm pretty good with that.. I also have a favorite spoon (weird I know) and paticular bowls that I like so I will wash them after each use and reuse them... downsizing my dishwasher load.
On a separate but similar (to dishwasher duty) point. I just changed up my laundry routine and it has cut it at least in half. I now have the kids bring their laundry baskets downstairs (they are 4.5 years old now) and I wash all the laundry. I fold mine and Tom's and I just dump Jason and Lily's into their laundry baskets and then will either have them carry them upstairs or will place them in their rooms and have them put their clothes away. I was wasting my life folding tiny little clothes that only ended up in balls on the floor or in the drawer as they chose what to wear. So why bother right? Jason loves the responsibility of it... it's a bit of a struggle with Lily, but I have let it go. It's just not a battle worth fighting... 
As I get through the rest of the house I'll take some pictures here and there. Another load building in the back of my car to be dropped this upcoming week!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Minimalism and Simplicity

For those of you that check in here only to read about my triathlon lifestyle you can skip this post... all the rest of you... hey, WHAT'S UP!? Let's talk about another dimension of life... because contrary to popular belief I do have a life beyond, triathlon and the gym. :)

I've been working to clean out our house. Okay this has been a YEARS long process, but since moving to CT I've really started hitting it hard. I'm not sure what finally stoked this fire. Maybe I'm actually awake enough to notice the mess, maybe it's the fact that we spend a lot more time at home here than we did in Madison, maybe it's the looming hours of training and wanting to free up as much time as I can to be able to train then concentrate on my family and that's it, maybe it's the size of this house and the volume of stuff. I don't know exactly what the tipping point was, but it's time!

I've made more trips to the Goodwill in the last year than I can count on both my hands. I just did our taxes for 2010 and itemized... all told in 2010 we donated over $1000 worth of stuff... and most of the big donations (furniture, wedding dress - yes I dropped that thing at Goodwill bc it was easy, etc) were made after the New Year. In all honesty I couldn't really tell you what was in the $1000+ of things we donated. I don't miss it one bit, but it feels good to have some more space in the house.. space for thoughts and play and creativity. It's wonderful.

I'm really overwhelmed by both the size of our space here and the volume of CRAP we have. Crap that I am constantly tripping over and moving to clean (cause we all know I clean all the time - I DON'T. Just ask my mom.) Toys that the kids don't play with, but throw on the floor to get to the few that they do. Clothes they don't wear that also end up on the floor to get to the few things they like. And it's not just the kids stuff. Tom and I have plenty (or had) of stuff that we weren't using. I even got Tom to clean out all the clothes he hasn't worn pretty much since I've known him. HUGE accomplishment.

Right now I'm obsessed with finding a smaller space to live in. I know this part will take time (perhaps a long time), but it's what I want. We had 1600 sq ft in Wisconsin and it was perfect. We used every ounce of that space.

Along with all the stuff we're downsizing I'm trying to dumb down other areas of my life... meals, training, our daily schedules. Meals have become really simplified. Breakfast is usually oatmeal and/or eggs or toast, fruit and yogurt (for all of us), lunch is kinda like a picnic every day. Finger foods.. protein, carbs, fats.. easy peasy. Mine is usually dumped in a bowl in the form of a salad. Dinners are dumbed way down too.. veggies, protein, carbs (rice, potatoes, grains). You want a snack you say. Well you know where the fruit is or you can have a yogurt or nuts. All accessible to the kids and all only had w/ permission. No more "I'll prepare you a snack"... less time in the kitchen is good. Got a chicken in the crock pot for dinner... all I had to do was season it and put in that bad boy. Have sweet potatoes made and will steam or stir fry some veggies. I recently read an amazingly good 'parenting book' (I hesitate to call it that bc those words cause me to recoil and run for the hills as most parenting books do nothing more than make me feel inadequate and offer only complicated solutions that I know we won't follow through on) called The Blessing of the Skinned Knee (I need to write a whole blog post about this book.. it was that good). It's based on Jewish teachings (we are not Jewish), but is useful for non-Jewish families. One of the things they talk about is their weekly meal - I forget what it's called - and that they all pitch in to plan and execute the meal. We started this last week and it's great. We all do something to decide what we have (kids pick out our weekly dessert) and we all pitch in to prepare the meal and the table. This is when we can get more elaborate in our meals. We do this on Saturday so it can be nice and leisurely. And since I'm not tearing around trying to clean up all our crap I can help with everything and be calm.

I've been trying to figure out exactly what my strength routine is going to look like and I've decided that I'm dumbing it way down for now. Gotta start somewhere. Basically I'm going to do 2 to 3 rounds of the following to failure: push-ups, pull-ups (assisted when I need to which will be after approximately two pull ups), lunges, squats, plyometric jumps, plank and side plank. I'm sure I'll play around with other stuff here and there just bc I like to lift, but nothing crazy, nothing formatted and only for fun. And of course I'll follow whatever training plan coach comes up with once I get back to training. One more week... I'm ready for some structure!

All this said I was thinking today (while driving to Goodwill) about how getting rid of things sometimes makes me panic a bit. Why? Why do I panic a bit about getting rid of these things that suck me of energy, stress me out and generally just get in the way? And it popped into my head. FEAR! What? FEAR you heard me...

1. Fear that I won't have anything to fill the void with. That I'm just that boring and uninspired.
2. Fear that I WILL have time to spend with my kids. YES! I said it. What oh what would I do if I didn't have all my little 'jobs' to do? Will I fail at just hanging w/ my kids?
3. Fear that the promise that the space will open up in my mind as well letting great things come out. What if NOTHING comes out. What if I have nothing to give to the world? Could my life just be about the mundane bullshit I do to acquire and maintain all this crap?

I know all these things are just silly and unfounded... but it's what I was feeling at the moment.

Here are some great sites I've been checking out for inspiration and motivation:
Zen Habits
Three New Leaves - I'm reading his free eBook right now and it's got some good stuff in it!
Rowdy Kittens

So my future contains way less stuff and hopefully way more memories and good times! :) What about you? Do you think you could stand to give up some things and open up some space in your world for great things to happen?