Monday, September 30, 2013

Meal Plan Monday!

I am going to *try* to post our meal plan for the week each Monday. I don't always follow our plan strictly, because I give myself one or two "swing" days or what I call L/S (leftovers or simple-meal) days. But, here it is: my first Meal-Plan Monday post:

Breakfast: cinnamon raisin flax bread (toasted) with peanut butter
Lunch: roasted turkey and Swiss on rye/ kids: turkey rolls and colby jack cheese sticks with dried apricots and yogurt along with yogurt pretzels for a treat
Supper: Mom's Spinach Lasagna with French style green beans and rosemary bread

Breakfast: old-fashioned oats with blackberries and walnuts
Lunch: leftover roasted veggies and turkey kielbasa/ kids: pb&j with carrots
Dinner: leftover beef enchiladas from Saturday night with black beans and brown rice (L/S)

Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins & yogurt
Lunch: leftover lasagna
Supper: homemade quiche

Breakfast: banana & blackberry wraps (recipe coming soon!)
Lunch: turkey and Swiss on rye/ kids: Perdue Simply Natural lightly breaded chicken chunks with carrots and apple slices
Supper: L/S

Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins & yogurt
Lunch: black bean and spinach quesadillas
Supper: Chicken and Dumplings or take-out (Ben's choice)

Breakfast: (before a 12-mile run) kids' choice
Lunch: open
Supper: open/ chicken and dumplings if haven't made them yet

Breakfast: whole wheat pancakes with berries plus eggs
Lunch: out somewhere after church (might run a 5K that afternoon)
Supper: L/S early, to get to church on time

Here's the menu I created that I post on our fridge:

Many of my simple meals are:
  • made from things that I have perviously doubled and frozen half
  • semi-homemade pizza
  • frozen pre-packaged veggies such as Alexia Saute Reds (our favorite!)
  • occassional frozen pizza
What are some of your favorite simple meals?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marathon Training Log #9

Race day is three weeks from today!!!

We did our final L O N G run yesterday morning--- 20 miles! The weather was amazing! It was about 55 degrees when we started. I was a little cold before we started, which made me very happy. Training in the summer in East Tennessee has been brutal! So, to the fall season I say, "Welcome and stay a while!"

Chris and I were unable to run this one together, so Ben planned to go with me. We were able to arrange for kiddos to sleep over with my parents on Friday night (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so we got to have a date night and chose pasta from Johnny Carinos to fuel our run. 

For breakfast (around 6:00) we each had a slice of my homemade cinnamon-raisin flax bread with a thin layer of peanut butter and coffee. 

In my belt, I took my usual one water and one sport drink, each 10 oz. I planned to use a Power Gel (the brand that will be provided at the race) at 6 miles, 12 miles, and between 16 & 18 miles. We were running a double out-and-back route, so we were able to plant some drinks and fuel (Marathon Bars, VO2 Bars) at our car. 

We both drank a Spark 20 minutes before we started the run. I stopped to take a bathroom break and re-fill my water at the usual park (5.9 miles) and took a non-caffeine Power Gel with about 8 oz. of water. I also topped-off my sport drink with some water. I decided to turn on some music for a little while, which is unusual for me. But I knew I had a long way to go to be alone. I did not have headphones, so I just carried my phone in my hand. It was a nice little change to pass the time. My two favorites from yesterday were Mandisa's What If We Were Real and Travis Cottrell's Oh My Soul March On. I  stopped for another bathroom break at mile 12, which was back near our van. I refilled my water and sport drink and started eating a VO2 Bar as I started running again. Before I knew it, I had reached 16 miles, which was my turnaround point. I had to go a little further than that because Ben had planted a water for me. Ben ran by me on the other side, heading to the finish. He had planned a 23 mile run, and his pace is over 1.5 minutes per mile faster than mine. Since the planted water was a little past my turnaround, I decided to pause my GPS and walk after I picked up the water so I could pour the water into my belt bottle and eat another Gel (with caffeine). I had drunk all of my water between mile 12 and 16 and drank almost half of the sport drink. I knew that there were no more water stops along the way so I tried to be conservative, but reasonable. Around mile 17, I started getting "giddy" because I couldn't believe how good I felt. My pace had stayed the same (within 3 seconds) the entire run, and it was 40 seconds faster per mile than my goal race pace! I passed a friend at mile 19. It was nice to get some encouragement. When my phone said 20 miles and told me my pace, I let out a joyful "ha!" and threw my arms in the air. It felt great to finish so well. The best part was Ben waiting for me at the finish. 

Once I sat down, which was after a while of walking and stretching, I made a soy milk chocolate protein shake (I had packed a cooler in the van) and drank it on the way home. We took a quick shower, and I made us some roasted chicken and Swiss cheese on rye toast and black bean and cheddar cheese dip with yellow corn tortilla chips, all just in time for the Vols to kick-off at 12:30. We each ate a banana, stretched some more, and then I went to bed. I never went to sleep, but I rested. I think I was too excited from the success of the run. I was praying while I was lying in my bed, thanking God for giving us the physical health and ability to accomplish our goal.  That is something I pray I never take for granted- the blessing of a healthy, fully-functioning body (see Bible passage below). (I hope to write an entire post on this subject this week, so stay tuned.) God has entrusted me with this one body; and so far, he has blessed me with great health, including two healthy pregnancies despite a blood disorder! And I was also thanking God for our supportive family that has been willing to help with our kids while we train. We are so blessed!

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? For you are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I am finally able to say I believe I can run a Marathon. Until Saturday, I was not confident enough to believe it. This weekend, we have 12 miles assigned for the long run. I will still be journaling our runs as we taper.

I found a great blog this week that I just can't get enough of: Jen is a Christian, mom, pastor's wife and runner. Her take on life is so sweet! Check her out!

In case you were wondering what "belt" I wear when running, here it is: the Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack. I could not train without it.


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Flax Bread

1 cup raisins
1 cup + 2 TBsp milk
2 1/2 TBsp unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (and extra for flouring surface)
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1 2/ tsp cinnamon, divided
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
non stick cooking spray

Place the raisins in a small saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain well.

Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, brown sugar, flax, 3/4 tsp of the cinnamon , salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix well.

In a small saucepan heat the milk over low heat (do not bring to a boil). When warm remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until melted. (You can also do this gradually in the microwave.)

Add the warm milk/butter and the lightly beaten eggs to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the raisins and stir until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will be sticky so keep adding a bit of flour to the dough 1T at a time until no longer sticky.

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and flip to coat the other side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour (should double in size). After 1 hour press two fingers down into dough, if imprints remain it is ready. Punch dough and then cover for 5 more minutes.

Roll dough out into a 14 x 7 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Evenly sprinkle the remaining cinnamon over the surface of the dough. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with the short edge pressing firmly while rolling to eliminate air pockets. Pinch the seams and ends to seal.

Place the roll, seam side down, in a 9x5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes (should double in size).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marathon Training Log #8

I will never run more than 3 miles at 2:00 in the afternoon. Ever. Again.

So, I had the genius idea to wait until naptime on Sunday to do my 14-mile run. Chris had already gone on Saturday, so Ben I went together. As always, 50 yards into the run, he went off and left me. I do not use music when I run; so this was going to be a long and lonely 14 miles. It was a beautiful (and mild) 70* day, but there is no shade on this route, except about a 1-mile stretch. And I planned poorly for this one... no hat, no sunglasses, no headband. I did, however, remember sunscreen. Yay for no skin cancer!

I did not know what to expect tummy-wise during the run since I always run in the morning, and I always eat pretty much the same thing in my efforts to stop my problem after long runs. I had a whole wheat waffle with peanut butter and banana with coffee for breakfast, and a turkey salad for lunch at about 1:00 (lunch is always way late on Sundays!).

We started the run between 2:30 and 2:45. I took my two 10 oz bottles in my belt, one with water and one with Spark. I also took my usual Marathon Bar.

The first 2 miles were painful... literally... let me explain:

after the 18 miler, (last weekend), I started having crazy low-spine pain. I thought that it was because I sat on our driveway for a while that same day, but realized quickly that it was more than that. I have a friend who is a chiropractor, so I went to see him on Monday, and he gave me lots of advice and made lots of adjustments to my lower back, knees and feet. The thing he stressed the most to me was icing after the long runs. I had quite a bit of relief over the next few days.

So I was not happy when I started feeling the same pain in the beginning of this run, but it soon faded, and I felt fine the rest of the run. I tried to be conscious of trying to keep my hips tucked under and not sticking my tail out. I know that poor posture has contributed to the problem.

I stopped at 5.75 miles at the usual park to refill my drinks. I ate most of the Marathon Bar when I started back up. I was so happy when I finally reached 7 miles... the first 7 seemed to take forever!

I got back to the park just before reaching 9 miles, and I stopped again to top-off my waters since there is no other fountain from there on. I felt like I  needed to take a short walking break, so I started my GPS back up, but I was walking. I didn't watch the time, I just walked until I felt like it was enough... I'd guess it was about 2 minutes.

Before I knew it, I hit 12 miles! I came to a busy intersection and had to wait a while to cross safely, so I finished the last 1/4 of the Marathon Bar. The last 2 miles were not fun. All I could think about was how 16 and 18 miles seemed easier and less painful than this one! Oh well... I finished. But like I said, I will never run that far that late in the day again.

My stomach did not feel so great the rest of the day, but it wasn't debilitating like it has been sometimes. So far, so good!

Ben finished right about 15 minutes after me... he had run 18 miles. He said it was brutal for him yesterday, too.

This weekend is our biggie: 20 miles!!! Don't know how or when we are going to do it, but I have to do it in order to feel confident enough to register for the race... did I just admit that?

Nope, I haven't registered yet... oh, and, I didn't ice.

New shorts I ordered from Lucy Activewear, my favorite running apparel store.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breakfast Burritos (Freezer)

Freezer Breakfast Burritos


1 lb. breakfast sausage* of choice (Our family favorite is turkey sausage.)

1 bag Southwest-style hash brown potatoes (Found in the dairy aisle) (I have used regular hash browns too.)

6-8 large eggs

approximately 3/4 cup of milk (for scrambled eggs)

approximately 20 fajita-size whole-wheat soft tortillas (We like Chi Chi's brand.) The final amount of burritos depends on how much filling you put in each one and the size of the tortillas.

salt & pepper

approximately 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or shredded cheese of choice)

salsa (to be used after reheating)

optional ingredients: diced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, or any variety of pepper; add in with sausage & potatoes

*Could also use crumbled bacon or go meatless.


In a large pan, begin browning the sausage and hash browns in a bit of cooking oil, breaking it all up as it browns.

While the browning is happening, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt & pepper to your taste.

Just before the sausage-potato mixture gets to the brownness desired, reduce the heat to just below medium, and pour in the egg mixture. Continue cooking until the eggs are completely cooked.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and allow the burrito filling to cool for about 15 minutes.


While the filling is cooling, get out your tortillas and begin sprinkling the cheese in each one.

Begin filling your burritos. Test the first one to make sure the amount of filling you put in will allow you to roll it up. Roll each one as you fill it, and place it seam-side down in your freezer dish (You could also wrap these individually in cling wrap, and then place them in a freezer bag.)

Once the burritos are frozen, they are super-easy to make for breakfast (or lunch or dinner!). In my microwave, I defrost for about 2 minutes, then cook on high for 1-2 minutes. If the burrito is really fat, I sometimes have to cut it in half after defrosting. Once it is reheated, pour on the salsa (inside or out), and enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Marathon Training Log #7

Marathon day is less than 5 weeks away! Craziness!!!

Our training plan assigned 18 miles for our long run this week. Chris and I could not meet on Saturday, so we had to get up extra early (4:20 a.m.!) on Friday in order to start our run by 5:00 so our husbands could get to work.

For breakfast, I had my usual cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter plus coffee. I started drinking a Spark on my way to meet Chris (about 4:50). In my belt, I took my usual one water and one sport drink (both 10 oz.), plus two Marathon Bars and an extra Spark packet.

We carried four waters and planted them along the run because we were doing an out-and-back route. We stopped around mile 4 for a bathroom break and to refill our waters. We shared a Marathon Bar around mile 6. We stopped again around mile 7 for another bathroom break and to top-off our waters. We also shared an AdvoCare VO2 Bar at some point (don't remember when that was... maybe mile 10). I gulped down about half of a Gu packet around mile 12 (yuck!), and that was about when the sun finally came up! We shared a Spark packet for a little extra caffeine around mile 13. I ate a couple of bites of the second Marathon Bar around mile 15.

By mile 16, we were SO ready to finish! This was a distance record for both of us. Overall, the run went really well. Our hips and knees were so tired at the end, but we both recovered quickly, which hopefully means we are doing something right! No tummy problems this run! Yay!

We get to taper down to 14 miles this weekend and the weather is supposed to be awesome.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marathon Training Log #6

We got to taper down to 12 miles for this run! 

Around 7:15, I ate one raspberry mini muffin and a mini cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter along with coffee and water. I drank a Spark around 7:45, and gave the last 2 oz to Ben right before we started. 

 I took a sport drink and a water in my two 10 oz bottles in my belt, plus a Marathon Bar (caramel flavor). 

Our schedules did not allow for Chris and me to start at the same time, so Ben and I started together, but he quickly ran ahead. Ben missed the 16 mile run last weekend, so he wanted to do 14 miles. It was a beautiful morning, quite cool compared to usual. Despite the milder temp, it was still very sunny, and it is the route with no shade (glad I wore my hat). I felt great from the beginning except for a strange tightness in my left calf. But it soon disappeared, and at mile 2.5 I saw a hot pink-clad girl coming toward me--- it was Chris. I was hoping that I would get to run at least a portion with her; so I turned and ran back toward the start (her finish). I reached 5 miles as she finished, so I turned back around and ran the same scenery that I had just run, plus an additional mile to make it to 12. There was tons of traffic (thank you, tourism), which was distracting--- lots of toots and honks and whistles--- but I think it somehow kept my pace up. I ate the marathon bar at mile 6... was still feeling great at mile 10 when I looked behind me to see Ben catching up to me! That stinker--- he is so fast! We finished together, and Ben's parents even did a drive-by around mile 11 with our kids, which was a fun surprise. This was a great run overall. I did not know what my pace was as I was running because I could not hear the tracking on my phone due to the heavy traffic. To our surprise, I had run this training run at my racing pace, which is quite faster than my training pace. Ben was really pleased with his pace as well. 

I drank a sport drink as soon as we finished and ate about a quarter of a banana. My stomach felt good for about 2 hours, but I did have some cramps on and off for the rest of the day. I am starting to see that the harder I push myself, the more prone I am to these tummy problems. I will still call this training run a success! We are scheduled for 18 miles this weekend, and Chris will be out of town on Saturday; so we are planning to get babysitters and run it on Friday morning. I will update again soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Too Much Thinking...


Some thoughts sparked while reading daily devotions from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest...

"Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world, . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares. All that God has done for us is merely the threshold— He wants us to come to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is."

Too much thought to my circumstances, whether good or bad, certainly distracts me from my relationship with the LORD. As a stay-at-home-mom, I am easily caught-up in thinking about how to improve my circumstances, or how I can make each day go more smoothly. I plan meals, I take my kids to do "fun" things (which is really motivated by my need to get out of the house, but it usually turns into a stressful event!); I day-dream about vacations and other ways of escaping my current circumstances sometimes, too. These kinds of thoughts (and more) "choke" the Holy Spirit out of my heart's radar, and rob me of the joy I can have all the time if I can simply be content and fruitful, no matter the circumstances I am in. It reminds me of what Paul said in Philippians 1:10-11:

"For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God." (NLT)

So, after this reading, and after a great sermon from my pastor on Sunday night ( I wanted to post a link here, but the sermon is not on our church website yet.), I am beginning to see what God is teaching me: I am convicted that I must start the process of eliminating thinking about my circumstances, good or bad. These thoughts cause distraction and discontentment, two great enemies of mine (and I think all of ours).  

If I, with God's help, can train my mind (Romans 12:2) to stop being caught up in the "if's", I can be filled with the fruit of my salvation, displaying a righteous character; bringing glory and praise to Him; living a "full and overflowing life!" Oh, Lord, forgive me for being so selfish at times!

To be continued...

Too Much Thinking About Myself continued...

"We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble, and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God."

I must continually remind myself of my true purpose in order to function in true, constant fellowship with God and in right fellowship with my family. "Well, what is your true purpose?," you might ask. Two passages come to mind, and they are two that Ben and I have committed to memory together: 

(In regard to my purpose toward others) 1 Peter 4:7 "The end of all things is near, therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins." 
(In regard to my purpose in Christ) Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."

But, how can I do this in our culture? With all the pressure to perform well, appear to have it all together (this is multi-faceted), own this, wear that, sign my kids up for this, volunteer for this and that and this!?

"Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God’s purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us— and we cannot measure that at all."

I must remember that My life is not being measured by God in the same way that the world measures. "What he pours through us..." For me, this is about how much I pray for others; how tender and patient I am with my kids; how I extend grace and respect with lots of affection (no matter how tired I am) to my husband. Read 1 Peter 4:7-10. As I said in part I of this post, I must stop thinking about my circumstances. Anti-self realization. Christ pouring through and out of me. Things we cannot measure. 

Oh, LORD, I want to be clear-minded, self-controlled, prayerful (especially for others), deeply loving of others, fearfully reverent of Your commands, and most of all, non-complaining, unaware of my circumstances. May I look for You in every detail of my days, whether I am in my quiet time or policing two squealing toddlers. Jesus, give me supernatural strength to live 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, to "be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Marathon Training Log #5

Friday morning, Chris and I met at 6:00 to run 16 miles. Another distance PR for both of us. 

5:00- mini cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter, coffee, and water. Ate a few bites of leftover spinach quiche, too. 

Started drinking a "Spark" as I headed out the door at 5:25. Finished it before the run started. 

In my running belt, I took my two 10 oz. bottles: one with water and one with Gatorade; a Snickers Marathon Bar, 6 peanut butter crackers, an extra Spark mix, and a gel. We planted two waters to pick back up after the turnaround around mile 13, where I ran out of water during the 15 mile run on Monday. 

We have decided that we want to run the Marathon with the 10:30 pacer. So our goal for this run was to stay between a 10:00-10:30 minute per mile pace. 

Chris and I both felt great starting out. It was a very humid morning, so we forced ourselves to drink more than usual. We shared an Advocare VO2 Bar around mile 5. We stopped at the usual park at 5.75 miles to refill our waters. I think we shared a little bit of the Marathon Bar when we started back up (can't remember exactly). We ran by the park again at about 11 miles. We stopped again to refill our waters (mixed Spark into one) and take a bathroom break. I ate 3 peanut butter crackers. We drank lots because it was getting hot quickly, and the planted waters were much-needed. I think we ate the gels somewhere around the planted waters. We walked while we poured the waters into our belt bottles. We finished well with an average pace of 10:04!

I drank a sport drink on the drive home and finished the Marathon Bar and peanut butter crackers. 

We just couldn't believe how good we felt during the run! I was pretty discouraged after the painful 15 mile run on Monday with Ben. This run definitely boosted my confidence. 

And no stomach problems whatsoever. I usually at least feel some effect on my stomach after a long run like this, but I felt NO symptoms at all!!! Yippee!