Friday, July 6, 2012

Crossfit


So I did it. I drank the Koolaid, took the plunge and joined Crossfit.

My husband has been begging me to join with  him for the past year, but I was just not willing to let go of my YMCA membership.  I had excuse after excuse....the YMCA is close, has all the classes I want, has free daycare, is inexpensive etc...etc...etc..

But there was one BIG problem.  I wasn't making progress.

For like the past six months I've felt that I've really come to a standstill on my working out.  I knew what I needed to do, Crossfit was nagging me in the back of my mind, but still all those reasons above were playing OVER and OVER in my head.

I finally made the decision that once my husband got back from OCS for the Guard that I would give Crossfit a try with him.  After all I was all ready feeding our family Paleo, so I was half way there... ;)

So the day came for me to hit up Crossfit with Jamin.  To say that I was FREAKED out was an understatement.  I about threw up from the nerves alone before I even got there.  Most of the nerves was actually from social anxiety.  Some was from the workout.  I knew a little of what I was in for, I'd done a couple WOD's with him before for benefits and such, and he had shown me some heavy lifting moves that I could do myself at the Y.  The part that scared me so much is I was the little YMCA girl, the JV girl trying to go hang out with the Varsity jocks.

Once they kicked up the music, and the WOD started I was just fine.  The coaches were AMAZING.  They scaled the workouts for me and really helped me work on getting my form right.

The workout SUCKED.

I loved EVERY minute of it.



I was hooked.  There was NO going back to the Y.

I've done two more WOD's since then.  My social anxiety is getting better.  EVERYONE there is super awesome.  When we were running the 800 meter part of the WOD the other night everyone just cheered everyone on as you passed by each other.  It's like a big family, everyone is super encouraging and nobody made me feel bad for scaling the workout or having to show me what to do.

Speaking of what I did.  Here is what I did that day:

Strength:
Shoulder Press:  Didn't do weight on this, just the 45lb bar.  Getting my form right.

WOD:
100 Double Unders (300 singles) (I scaled to 300 singles...can't do double unders yet)
15 Handstand push ups (scaled to knees on the box for me)
30 reverse burpees
30 Kettlebell sumo deadlift high pull
30 Walking lunges (scaled to 15lb plate overhead for me)
800m run

I thought I would puke several times.  I about peed myself jumping rope.  I didn't thankfully.



I finished in 17:48.  The awesome thing about Crossfit is that it's you against YOU.  You just try and beat your time every time, each time I'll get better, I'll get faster, I'll get stronger.  ONE day I'll be able to say that I RX'd a WOD.  (That's Crossfit talk for doing a workout as prescribed, you see I'm one of the cool kids now learning their lingo....)

It's not gonna be easy.  These workouts are beyond INSANE.  I have to give up my YMCA membership, my free daycare, and I have to try and fit it into our schedule somehow and make it work.  It WILL be worth it.  I can't wait.


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Phoenix Trip

Holy cow has it been a MONTH since my last post?  For a while there I was actually on track doing a few posts a week, then life happens and well I stop posting.

Anyhow I've been busy doing Paleo, working out, camping and going to Phoenix...I got back this week and my kids are now all out of school and I'm just busy trying to get into some kind of summertime routine.  You know, swim lessons, VBS, summer camps etc...

Anyhow I had a WONDERFUL time in Phoenix, so I thought I'd post a little about my trip there and my time with my family.  Oh how I miss them so much, Phoenix, eh, I can leave it.  I miss those mountains but I'll take my green grass and rolling hills any day over the dry desert.  Oklahoma is really home now, and I realize that more than ever, but it's so healing to be able to go back and see my family.  Either way, it's sacrifice, when I'm here, I miss them terribly, when I'm there I miss my home.

My dad and I drove it STRAIGHT THROUGH.  15 hours was the drive.  It was great.  Yes, I had to listen to quite a bit of country gospel and Alan Jackson, but dad also had to listen to some Florence and the Machine, Civil War's and Mumford and Son's, so it all worked out.  Had a great time with my dad and I'm so thankful I got to take this trip with him.

Me and my dad.  Love him.  Best dad EVER.

My first day there started out with a run.  Yes, I ran.  On vacation.  Jamin said that I wouldn't run, then he corrected himself and said "oh, you will run ONCE only so you can prove me wrong."  Well I ran TWICE so poo on you Jamin....anyhow the run was ok.  Since it was like 5:30 Phoenix time it was only like 80 degrees out, but the air felt thick.  Hard to breathe.  Turns out there was an ozone advisory that day.  Duh.  That's something I'm not used to.

After my run, I got ready and headed over to my brothers house where they were (and still are) in the middle of a massive remodel.  Hung around with them for a good portion of the day, then of course headed to Chino Bandito's for lunch.

For those of you who have never heard of it, Chino's is a Chinese/Mexican fusion restaurant.  There are two, one in Phoenix and one in Chandler.  It's amazingly yum.  Featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives even.  SO effing good.

I promise it tastes better than it looks.  YUM.
After that I headed over to my best friends house.  Got to hang with my friends Tammy and Amy all night.  I probably talked too much about Paleo, myself and my kids and I am certain they will never look at the word "smoothie" the same ever again.  We ate, we laughed, drank sangria and had a good time.  God I miss those girls.  Haven't giggled that much in a long long time.

The next morning I got to visit with my step mother in law (is that even a real word?) at their restaurant that they own down near the zoo.    This meal (unlike Chino's) was actually Paleo.  I had a chorizo omelet and it was fantastic.   God I love food.

Good thing I ate Paleo that morning, because I pretty much blew it the rest of the day, including getting TWO Venti Caramel Vanilla Latte's from Starbucks.

That afternoon I spent the day running around with my sister in law getting all the decorations and such for my nephews family party and open house.  That night, I got to take my nephew shopping for his clothes to wear under his gown.  That was a fun experience that ended with him getting a bow tie.  Glad I got to spend the time with him.  He is too funny.



Came home and spent some time gathering photos and starting to make the "shrine" as my nephew would call it.

He is one talented young man.  I'm one proud aunt.
The next day I finished up the photo collages, then we got ready and headed to the Cardinals stadium for the graduation.  They were still building the stadium when we moved six years ago (wow, has it been THAT long????).  Tears started flowing when I was putting together his photos and didn't stop until long after the graduation.

I don't think he can take a serious photo
Oh, and the bow tie looked much better the next day.  He pulled it off.  That night after the graduation we took a BUNCH of family photos.

Me, Gwen, my SIL, Chris, Jon (brother) and Dad
my nephew and me

That night we all sat around and my nephew busted out his guitar.  Not only is he athletic, funny and handsome, but he has such a heart for God and an anointing on his life.  I was so glad to hear him sing a bit of worship.  I'll cherish this memory forever.

video

The next day I spent time shopping at the mall with some of the kids there, then afterwards went out to dinner with my besties.  SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  I always drink talk to much when I'm with them, but it's tons of fun and we laugh and joke and reminisce about old times.  This time I got to meet their significant others which was nice, even though they are both pretty shy (the guys, not the gals us ladies have NEVER been shy) they seemed nice, especially after putting up with listening to us chatter away and giggle for hours.


The next day was spent with lunch at the in law's house, then a huge open house party for my nephew. Got to see a lot of old friends that I haven't seen in years.  Got pretty freaked out by a large tortoise also while I was at the party.  The thing was HUGE.  By now though I was really starting to miss my husband and kids and I was getting pretty homesick.  A week is a LONG time to be away from all of them.

Sunday I got to go to church and hear my brother preach, ate lunch at Macayo's.  Got a baja burrito (worth every calorie).  By now I was starting to really dread the long drive back (not because it was with my dad, he is awesome but just because it's SO long of a drive.)

The drive WAS long.  We got to OKC around ten pm.  My husband had the house clean and it smelled good.  Laundry was done.  The kids were all alive without a scratch on them.  I have one dang good man (oh, and mother in law,  I have to give her a TON OF CREDIT).  I don't think things would have gone near as smoothly without here here.  She is one amazing lady.

I had a great trip, but it was good to be home.  Next year my niece graduates.  She is number TWO out of his five kids, I have four and my husbands sister in Austin has three more that will graduate.  I think we know what our spring plans will be for quite some time.  That's ok though, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paleo/Primal - Week One

So last Friday I went out shopping on my first full Paleo/Primal shopping trip.  It was a little more hectic than normal because I was busy reading labels and trying to figure a LOT of things out.  I should NOT have taken the girls with me.  This just made it even more crazy.

So here is what I learned from week one:

Making all this stuff is a LOT, and I mean a LOT of work.  I think it was good to try everything so I know what works and how long it will take me.  Next time I may just pick a day to do my fruit rolls for the month, rather than try and tackle EVERYTHING at once on grocery day.  I went a bit nutty though because I wanted to make sure I had PLENTY of options in there to feed the family, otherwise this was NOT going to work.

You have to determine how much your time is worth.  You have to figure out what is better to buy store bought and what is worth the savings to do at home.  I tried to make my own almond meal and that was a miserable failure (as you can read about below).

It's all about trial and error.

Anyhow, you can stop reading now if you are totally bored at this point and I won't blame you one bit, if you want, read on to see what I made and what I learned from each process.

Apple Chips

I sliced up the apples thin as I could, put them in a bath of un-sweetened apple juice (to help with browning), sprinkled them with cinnamon and baked them in the oven at 250 degrees for about two hours on a cookie rack placed on a cookie tray.  The rack helps get air underneath them and helps in the drying process.  I've tried apples in the dehydrator, but I think they turn out better in the oven.

I did about 6 apples and it really does yield a SMALL amount of apple chips in comparison to what my family will eat.  The kids LOVE these but they are rather time consuming for a really small reward. Problem is apple chips at the store are CRAZY expensive for a small amount, so for now this is one treat I'll be making at home.

homemade apple chips

Fruit Roll Ups

I have been wanting to tackle fruit rolls for a while, but didn't think I could do them since I didn't have the roll tray in my dehydrator, and I just didn't feel like keeping my oven on for 6-8 hours like this recipe suggested.  I just lined my dehydrator with plastic wrap and it turned out fine.  Of course with it not being square I didn't get the pretty little rolls on parchment paper like they did.  I just sliced it up and placed them in snack size baggies  I think I over did it though because mine were a bit more leathery than fruit roll up type.  Still yummy though.  I tried four different kinds, strawberry, mixed berries, peach and banana/pineapple.  The peach turned out a gloopy mess and I had to pull them out because they were leaking on EVERYTHING.  Berries seem to work the best.

my dried strawberry fruit leather

Home Made Almond Meal

Ok, so this was an EPIC failure.  I bought a 12oz bag of dry roasted almonds at Aldi for $3.49 a package.  I came home, stuck it in my food processor and it never turned fine enough to go through a sifter.  It was way too chunky.  The more I ground I just started to get more like almond butter.  I just ended up putting it in a tupperware container and saving it to bread some salmon or something later.  I ended up having my husband just cave and get it at Whole Foods for $6.99 a pound.  Expensive, but this was one where my time was worth more than the money it saved me.  Until I have a coffee grinder or a better food processor this is going to be store bought.

my sad failed almond meal...sigh

Homemade Beef Jerky

Jerky we have been doing for quite some time, we just pick a roast at the store, have the butcher slice it thin, and we come home and marinade it with various spices then throw it in the dehydrator and let it go.  I know they say it takes like 8-10 hours but our dehydrator seems to dry jerky CRAZY fast.  The batches took about 2-3 hours each.

peppered beef jerky.  YUM.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

My favorite meal of the week was these pancakes below, topped with 100% pure maple syrup from PaleOMG.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this site.  REALLY good stuff. Also this chick's name is Juli and she has a great sense of humor like me, so she is pretty awesome ;)

Find the recipe HERE

Homemade Granola

A recipe from my new favorite blog PaleoOMG (listed above).  This was pretty good stuff.  I subbed out the coconut oil for olive oil because I ran out.  It seemed pretty greasy, and sticky.  More like granola bar consistency, I think I could back off on the liquids and do just fine, but it's a really great start.

Img and recipe from PaleOMG here

Paleo Mayo

So, I knew this one may be tricky.  I followed these directions to a tee....it took FOREVER.  I mean seriously people you need patience for this stuff, and frankly I have none left.  My blender actually started to smoke.  No kidding.  It never seemed to get to the consistency that I thought it should so I pulled it out and put it in the food processor.  This made a pretty nasty mess because my food processor is a piece of crap little bit old.  I gave up and went BACK to the blender, loosing half my precious mayo in the process.  I finally just gave up and put it in a tupperware and figured it may not work well as mayo but I could salvage it for some type of dipping sauce.  What did you know that it started to thicken more as it stood.  I guess it was thin because of the overheating of my stupid blender got it all warm....arrgh.  If I had only figured it out twenty minutes earlier I would have saved half my batch of mayo.

Live and learn people.  Live and learn.
 

Paleo mayo

Paleo Ranch

Ok, so I used the mayo , mixed it with a little coconut milk (equal part mayo to coconut milk ratio), a crapload of dill and garlic and  a little apple cider vinegar to make Paleo Ranch dressing.  It was, different.  The coconut milk gave it a distinct sweetness that I wasn't used to with ranch.  I also tend to go overboard on garlic, like always and this was no exception.  It was not terrible, but it wasn't great.  This recipe still needs some tweaking.  Maybe next time I'll try almond milk instead of coconut milk...dunno, we will have to see.

Paleo Ranch Dressing

I tried several other recipes, coconut shrimp with creamed coconut spinach,  some quiche, etc...but it wasn't worth mentioning in the blog....

This first week seemed to go pretty well so far.  Lucy gave us the most fit out of anyone, which was expected.  Mix a kid going through the terrible two's that currently has power struggle issues as is, add in a diet change and you pretty much have a recipe for disaster.  Evie is thriving on this diet, but then again that girl will eat pretty much anything, she LOVES Paleo is what she tells me.  She also told her teacher, "We are going Paleo, which means that I'm OFF of sugar."  He he.  The older kids seem to be doing ok, Myah has her hang ups, but seems ok and Brett is seeming to like it but more to make us happy and kinda brown nose mom than anything else.  I know inside he is dying for a bowl of cereal.  However I have noticed he does seem to be more full.  He does not have his nose shoved in my pantry all the time.

Jamin got out of the 200's and only has 10 more pounds to go.  He hasn't been this weight since right after he got out of the army in 1999.

Oh, and he told me to talk about his "big muscles".  Silly man.

I don't expect us to NEVER have grains again or to do a complete Paleo Thanksgiving, I mean seriously life is for living, but as long as we can eat well like 95% of the time, we can allow ourselves an indulgence every now and again.  You better believe come Christmas time I'm gonna still be baking some of my favorite treats, but maybe just not as MANY as I normally do.  The problem comes when we have sweets and treats ALL the time...that HAD to stop.   I feel like we are really on the right track.  It's been difficult at times, but I'm hoping I'll soon get in a rhythm and of course I'm sure it will all be worth it.  I mean, check out the photo below.  That was my lunch and GOD I'm STILL full.  I can TOTALLY eat like this.




I do feel like a bit of a Hippie making my own granola. mayo and stuff, but it's also kinda fun.  If I stop shaving, decide to call myself Willow, and start wearing Birkenstocks you may want to worry though....

If you stuck with me through the entire blog post, WOW, thanks ;)
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Going Primal

It once again has been weeks since my last post. My afternoons, which I used to use for blogging time, have been recently taken up with graphic design work and doing a Wordpress site, which I've nerded out on completely and had a TON of fun with.  So MUCH fun in fact I'm considering taking my blog over to Wordpress, but I'm a little freaked about the transition...

Anyhow onto my food journey.  My husband was struggling with his diet and I didn't know exactly what to do.  This week at bible study I lifted him up in prayer, when I did so I also asked that they pray that God show me how to help him and support him.

Funny things happen when you pray.  God will push you out of your comfort zone.

Ok, let me get totally real here and yes, I'm gonna air my dirty laundry.  I've always tried to be real here, and it's time for me to make a confession.  I've been a horrible un-supportive wife to my husband.  For over a year now we have both been working out, trying to eat healthier, but I've been kinda smug and nasty about it all.  I've totally thought "this is HIS battle.  He is the one who needs to loose the weight, not me.  I can eat what I want within reason and I won't gain, so why should I quit the foods I love?"

I know people.  I'm ashamed of myself.  VERY ashamed.

So I would still buy the vanilla wafers, the graham crackers, cookies, treats and sweets.  I'd bake brownies on the weekends and smother them in ice cream and caramel syrup.  I'd make cookies when I felt like it and claimed that it was for the children.  I'd buy fruit snacks, chips and cookies and explain it was for the kids lunch.

Even though I was cooking grilled chicken for dinner with broccoli and salads, and offering some healthy choices in there, there were still cookies in the pantry.  It was like blowing smoke rings into someones face that was desperately trying to quit.  I didn't even realize what I was doing.

So, as I prayed. God began to reveal to me how I'd been behaving.  Not only has he revealed this but he gave me a desire to take our whole family into a Paleo/Primal lifestyle.  (if you haven't heard of it, you can see what it is about here) We can't do it if we all don't do it together.  I can't expect Jamin and I to eat one way and the kids to still have all kinds of grains and sugar in there just calling out to us.

I repented.  I apologized.  I'm trying to change.

As I started scouring the internet looking for recipes and snacks I became more motivated.  My BIGGEST concern was the kids lunches.  What on EARTH would I send with them if I couldn't give them a sandwich in their lunch box?

So I started Googling Paleo kids lunches and came up with quite a few great ideas:

www.paleoparents.com

www.everydaypaleo.com
Look at those cute little cucumber sandwiches!  Rolled lunch meats, little smokies, apples, pickles, olives, etc...

I came up with a schedule of meals for them next week.  I think the biggest challenge for the kids will be cereal and bread.  Lucy eats a PB&J sandwich EVERY day.  She is my most picky eater.  Evie won't have a problem with the fruits and veggies, but she doesn't really like eggs, so that will make breakfast difficult.  I plan to try this breakfast hash and seeing if that will satisfy her:

I've also found some recipes that use coconut flour and almond flour in lieu of white flour so I can try my hand at some Paleo pancakes and waffles.  We will see how it goes!  I'm gonna try making my own almond meal because I just don't feel like forking over $9.99 a pound for it at Whole Foods. 

I'm considering buying my own coconut to make coconut flakes, but depending on the cost I may or may not go this far.  Since I'm doing more primal than Paleo I am going to keep SOME dairy in our diet, but very very little.  For the most part Jamin and I will go without but I do plan on having some in there.  For dairy I'm going for hormone free, full fat dairy (rather than organic because of cost).  Braums milk is very good and hormone free, and their eggs are also cage free I believe!  Later this summer hopefully we can get a freezer and buy a side of grass fed beef from Jamin's uncle.  For now I'll keep buying the Fit and Active from Aldi.  It's not organic, but it's "natural" which is the next best thing and means it's free of hormones.

Anyhow I'm not sure if we can be 100% strict and I'm not sure I want to be crazy strict, I believe you do need to allow yourself some freedom now and again, but for now I'm getting ALL the junk out of my house and I think that will get us eating good like 95% of the time. 

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, I'm hoping that this will be a REALLY positive change for our family.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yard Sale, Craigslist Etiquette and Random Whining

So I've been gearing up for a yard sale for quite some time, and originally planned it for last weekend, but then I got sick and just wasn't prepared so I pushed it back a week.

Then after pushing it back a week Thursday rolls around and I'm still completely not prepared enough to start a yard sale the next morning, so I decide to do Saturday only.

I realized quickly that Friday's do the best in OKC for some strange reason.  I guess that is when all the hardcore yard sale folks come out because even though we had a steady stream of traffic, in comparison to previous years we were really lacking foot traffic.

By the end of the day we didn't do too shabby, a couple hundred bucks in our pocket, but we still had MANY big ticket items left that I was sure would have sold.

I'm also learning that at yard sales, you actually can make more on the tiny dollar here, five dollars there items than the big ticket things.  I decided that I would list some of our larger items online at Craigslist thinking that it would be less headache.

It wasn't.

I was wrong.

REALLY wrong.

Sometimes everything goes smoothly on Craigslist with the transaction.  You post an item for said price, person contacts you in kind an courteous manner.  They show up at said time, hand you cash, pick up the said item and are on their happy little way.

I said SOMETIMES.

There are several things that people do to annoy me on Craigslist, but I'm gonna stick to the top THREE of my Craigslist pet peeves.

Craigslist Idiot #1 "What is the lowest that you are willing to go."

Really? (In my best Amy Poehler voice)  CI?  (craigslist idiot)  Really?  If I wanted to sell my $40 item for $10 I would have posted it for ten dollars, not $40.  I understand negotiation, and wanting to get the best deal possible, and even I expect a little price negotiation and haggling, but lets learn how to do it properly.  Quote me an offer of an actual dollar amount and we can go from there.  Coming right out and asking me though "How low are you willing to go?" Really? Makes me insane.

CI #2 - "Can you please txt me a pic of it?"

Really?  I am one of those Craigslist shoppers that 99.9% of the time I will not even LOOK at your add if it does not contain photos.  Therefore I always do my buyers the courtesy of adding a quick photo or two to my posting.  Asking me to text a photo of the picture to you (while using short text) just makes me irate.  I mean REALLY? My response to this last night was the following "there were photos added to the post.  Here is a link once again to my post showing the photos." and I sent them a link.

CI #3 - "Can you deliver the item?"

Ok, I guess that maybe I may be the CI in this circumstance for not posting "pickup only" but sometimes I just think that is a given.  In the retail world I do not call up Petco and ask them to deliver me a dog crate, I go and pick up the item that I want.  If you don't want to pick it up sometimes stores WILL offer a delivery option but REALLY you have to expect a fee for this, and you definitely can't be trying to talk me down on my price while asking me to drive an HOUR to deliver you a DOG CRATE.  Really?  There is a section on Craigslist informing you where I'm located in the city so please don't act shocked when I tell you my nearest crossroads folks.

Ok, I promise I'll stop my rant now.

So, I got the purple sofas out of my den.

Here is what my den looked like if you recall:


Those overstuffed sofas just were not doing it for us anymore.  They were taking up a TON of space.  They never sold in the yard sale, but I have a couple interested folks on Craigslist, so we will see how it goes.

I've gone back in forth in my wonderful world of crazy indecisiveness over the past week whether to try to recover these two Wingback chairs that I currently have in my possession or just buy new chairs for this room.


Recovering furniture is NOT an easy task, and since the two chairs are not matching I'm afraid that it will look odd.

When we got them side by side they really don't look THAT much different.  One is slightly bigger, but I plan on putting a table between the two of them so they won't be THIS close when complete.  Also maybe I could add a "his" and "hers" pillow in each chair just to be kinda cute. 

Right now I'm like 99.9% sure that I'll recover them. 

I will probably change my mind tomorrow.

I tell you folks, I'm crazy.  I don't know how my husband puts up with me.  That's all I need is another project that I can't finish.

Oh, by the way, I finally got the baskets and fabric for my entryway bench.

forgive me for this craptastic photo of my bench

 We are almost there folks, almost there...

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Family FUN Day!

Ok, I know I haven't written a post in forever.

We've been REALLY busy around here. Not with home stuff with just life, and being sick, oh and reading the Hunger Games and stuff like that.

I mean SERIOUSLY how GOOD are these books?  I'm half way through Mockingjay and I'm DYING to know how they end.


 I digress.

Friday my husband took the day off from work and we decided to unwind and have a family fun day. I'm SO glad he did because it was one AMAZING day.

We started out originally planning a zoo trip, but when we got in the parking lot The OKC Science Museum seemed to be calling our name. We changed our plans in a split second and decided to go for it, because that's how we roll. (Disclaimer, that's how my HUSBAND rolls. Normally the control freak in me will spaz out at a last minute change of plans such as this, but I was actually pretty cool with it).

We have a seriously AWESOME Science Museum here in OKC.  They have this HUGE indoor play area (like a three story tree house).  The little girls liked that.  They got a bit scared at the science live show with the explosions and such, but eventually they started to warm up to the place.  Good thing I bought a season pass.  That will come in handy I'm sure!
 
Anyhow we had a fun morning there and I think the grown ups may have had more fun than the kiddos did.




After the science museum we decided to still hit up the zoo.  Since we have a season pass it's nice to be able to drop in for a few hours and not have to stay the ENTIRE day.  It's been worth EVERY penny to have that family pass.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  That's why we decided it would be worth it to spring for the family pass to the science museum as well.  It will be great in the winter when it's too cold for the zoo!

At the zoo of course I had to stop and satisfy the crazy cat lady living inside me.  We have THREE new baby tigers at the zoo.


Isn't it seriously the most beautiful animal EVER?  I joke that God is gonna give me one in heaven, but I swear when I get to heaven God better have one of these babies waiting for me.

Of course we had to check on mamma and baby elephant too.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE our zoo.  I would dare say it's one of the best ever.

After the zoo we decided to head toward downtown and see what fun we could find down there.  We didn't know exactly WHAT we were gonna do, but this ended up being my most favorite part of the day.

Down by the Crystal bridge in the arts district they have this really artsy crazy looking kids park.  At first I thought it would be kinda lame, but it actually ended up being SUPER cool.

Brett with the new Devon building behind him

They have these large cool rock formations and beautiful gardens.


The slide is a big green hill with metal poles going down it.


They also have these weird little balls all over the place for climbing on.

And my favorite photo of the day, my kids on their GROW letters.


We then left the park and went exploring around the crystal bridge.  It's really neat down there and they have a LOT of cool spots to take photos (or goof off) as our family does.

This is our SUPERSTAR pose on the stage

Jumping OFF the stage

My itty bitty ones


I always get annoyed with my husband making goofy faces in EVERY photo.  I showed him this time that I can make goofy faces too.

After we left there we headed toward Sara Sara Cupcakes.  Seriously,  BEST. CUPCAKES. EVER.  (and I am NOT a cake person). 


They had one cupcake called "Sir Elton John."  I snapped a photo and sent it off to my BFF Lanie in Phoenix.  To say she LOVES Elton is a gross understatement.  She has his initials tattooed on her.  NOT.  KIDDING.  Love that gal.


After eating our cupcakes. We headed to the new Whole Foods that just recently opened here in OKC.  My husband had been there since it is close to his work, but I had not yet checked it out.  I LOVE the place.  It's pretty pricey, but we did pick up a few items (banana chips, some fresh almond butter that we ground ourselves and some chocolate peanut butter and of course Lara Bars for the husband).

After seeing all that yummy food, we decided to grab dinner.  We went to Shogun for dinner, and the kids enjoyed watching the chef cook in front of us.

After that, we went home and crashed of course because even though we had a TON of fun, we were EXHAUSTED.

Best family day EVER.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cutting the Cord on Cable

img from hediacomputers.com via shutterstock

For a while now we have been seriously toying with the idea of canceling our cable TV. I know, crazy right?

Off and on my husband would mention canceling cable when things got tight and I would go into freak out mode. You know ladies, when you and your husband have the dreaded "budget meeting." Gawd I hate budget meetings.

Eventually my tears and whining would win out and we would drop the subject.

About a year ago though when Netflix started getting better and better about their streaming library, I started to give it some more serious thought.

Still though I thought I couldn't live life without a DVR, and also CBS shows were not on Netflix or Hulu.

So, we started toying with the idea of how we could cut the cord, and started working in that direction.

Our first step was to get an old tower and hooked it up to our upstairs TV. We have been streaming up there for more than six months. We tried out Boxee, which comes with an app for the iPhone which gave us a remote (which was nice not having to get up and click the mouse for each new episode or to search Netflix). However we noticed some glitches. Boxee doesn't show EVERYTHING in our Netflix queue. We didn't like that. Also it doesn't list the episodes in order.

Seriously folks my OCD was kicking into overdrive without the episodes in chronological order. I thought I'd pull my hair out.

Boxee did allow us to subscribe to shows like BBT through CBS, however it was really slow streaming, and we were not thrilled with the quality of it. Much better to exit the Boxee system and just go to the actual site through the browser.

We kind of gave up on cutting the cord for a bit, the Holidays came around and life just got too busy to work on the TV stuff.

However each month when that Cox bill would come in the mail, I would ask myself WHY? Why do I keep paying them $80 a month for something that we could easily get for next to nothing?

So, two weeks ago we got serious about this.

I ordered a free trial of Hulu plus and would you know the VERY day I did this Hulu Plus got an app for the Wii?  Our timing couldn't have been better.


I don't like their interface as much as the Netflix interface for the Wii, but they JUST came out with it.  I'm sure it will take some time to get the glitches out of it.

Next, I called Cox and found out how low our bill would go and they talked about "data caps".  A word I had not yet heard.

Data caps?  Are you FREAKING serious?  We have a 200GB a month data limit on our internet.  My heart sank.  We could increase that limit by upping to premier or ultimate package, but what was the point?  We were trying to SAVE money, not spend more.

I thought at that point again our journey to cancel cable was over, however after some research it seems that 200GB will give you about 32 HD movies a month or 500 SD shows.  That's like a LOT of TV people, about 5 or more hours a day if not more, and yes, that is how long the TV blares in our house at times on our bad days.

So, I started looking at our data usage and we stopped using cable over the weekend.  We streamed LITERALLY all day yesterday on both TV's and ended up using under 5GB.  That keeps us well under our allowance monthly.

This past weekend my husband made an HD antenna this weekend. It is very similar to THIS antenna. It's up in our attic and you can't even see it. Our picture quality is just as good if not better than cable.  We are getting all our local channels on both TV's just fine.

There are still some more issues to work out but we will do that along the way.

1.  I don't like having a huge tower in my bedroom hooked to my TV, so eventually what I think we will do is move it to a closet one day. My husband plans to get a video capture card (I think that's what it is...he is the techie on this). With that we can record our HD shows like HIMYM, BBT and CSI etc...all off the air in HD.

Our next step is to get a ROKU box.  It will be much better looking than the tower in our room, and it will give us a remote that we can use.

Img from ROKU.com


Roku seems to perform better than Boxee does as far as an interface according to reviews.  It will take a bit of money to sink into getting our system where we want it, but it the long run it should pay off.

2.  We can't watch CBS through Hulu Plus or Netflix.  ALL my favorite shows seem to be on that channel, so for now I have to watch them on the iMac or else up in our bedroom with the tower (because I can do that through the browser).  They stream a bit slower through CBS than they do on Hulu or Netflix.  Seriously CBS, get with the program!  However I think when we get the capture card, hopefully we can just record these to the hard drive and Roku will let us pull them up.  Again, we are still working on it.

Still, when i made that call to Cox today I was a little paniced and scared.  Cable has been our crutch for YEARS now.  In fact funny thing was my job BEFORE I was a stay at home mom was working in retention for Cox.  Yeah, I was the gal who would try to convince you to KEEP your cable and I got paid WELL to do it.

However the deed is done.  The cable is GONE.

I mean, what will I do if I can't watch mindless hours of House Hunters International on HGTV when I'm sick in bed?  Or what about that evening on the sofa watching VH1's top 100 one hit wonders of the nineties?  And yes, I'll miss my hours upon hours of Nick at Night reruns of Friends.  Who knows, maybe I'll read a book or something or actually GET SOME SLEEP?  Go figure.

Anyhow, if you are thinking about cutting the cord ask me any questions and I'll be happy to fill you in on what we do.  Also I'll keep you posted on our updates to our system!

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