Saturday, February 28, 2015

Step It Up Saturday - Week 2

Ummmmm, there wasn't a whole lot of steppin' it up this week.  I'm not quite sure what happened, but I wanted all the food and lots of sleep.  Just like Harry.  This is how I wanted to spend the week.

Let's see.  Traveling and soccer took up Sunday.

Exhaustion took place Monday through Friday.  I'm still fighting the bronchitis/cold and can't get deep breaths.  I've been achy and sore by the end of each day, and at about two in the afternoon, I feel loopy and light headed.  I'm done with all the medicine except for one asthma preventative inhaler.

There was soccer practice.

On a fun note, though, we threw Coach Washington a surprise birthday breakfast party!

I know, excuses, excuses.  So the exercise didn't happen at all unless you want to count trekking back and forth from my classroom to the office at school.  And that leaves me out of breath!

How did I do with food?


Not good.  I bought oranges, but didn't eat them.  I haven't had any soda.  I did eat three salads this week, but there was also a cheeseburger and fries lunch.  My coworker wanted to buy me a belated birthday lunch.  Who was I to say no?!

However, in terms of keeping up with my Lenten goals, I've done really well!  I pray every morning, I read every morning, I've made the bed (not today because Eric was still in it!), I've been with my kids, I've sent out praise to the kids in my class, and I've tried my best to show Eric a lot of respect.

 I made no progress in health and fitness.

But there's always next week!

I need to focus on this next week!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Favorites - Soccer

I'm linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci today for Friday Favorites.

Today I'm talking about soccer.  I got the idea to do a soccer favorites post after reading this blog and her love of watching her son play baseball.  So, yes, I'm shamelessly stealing her idea.  

If you had told me 11 years ago that I'd be a mom to two boys, willingly drive a mini van, and follow my children around the state of California to watch them play club soccer, I'd have fallen over from laughter.  I mean, seriously, a van?  (I always say I LOVE the van when we are all in it and there is plenty of room.  I HATE being in the van by myself.  There is no way to look cute in a van.  It screams soccer mom.  And that's okay, but still.)

My poor van got T-boned by an idiot running a red light.

Lots of space for my legs!

Anyhow, the point is, my life is definitely not what I thought it would be...thank goodness!  Even after having two boys, I never dreamed they would be in competitive soccer.  My sister and I did not play soccer.  According to my mom, we didn't want to give up our Saturday mornings to run.  Ewww!  So imagine my surprise when my oldest not only wanted to play, but he was really good.

This is just the beginning!

And then imagine my surprise when we made the switch from recreation school league to competitive travel league.  It's probably a good thing I didn't know what was coming, because I would have been afraid.  Change is best in small doses!

Here are my favorite things about soccer.

1. Watching my kiddos play!

Kid #1

Kid #2.

I have to say, it is the coolest thing watching them out there on the soccer field (or any sport).  Both of my boys are very athletic.  I used to be afraid to say that, because every parent thinks their kids are amazing.  However, when other people started commenting on the kids' abilities, I started to believe that maybe Evan and Hudson had some skills.  And they do.  And I'm thinking they don't get it from me!

2. The spirit of the game of soccer.

Soccer was a completely new sport to me six years ago.  I had no clue about the rules, the refs, the culture, etc.  It's a interesting sport where you sit three feet from the edge of the field.  Tensions can run HIGH!  Parents can get aggressive.  Kids can get mad at the refs.  I don't know about the rest of the country, but in Fresno/Clovis, soccer is huge and there is also a large Hispanic influence.  Often times there's lots of yelling in Spanish, and I don't know what's going on.  Now, even if I can't understand, I'm so used to the game that I can generally tell why someone is mad!

3.  The food.

Soccer food?  Huh?  Yes!  Let me explain!  Again, this is a reference to the Hispanic influence of the game in this area, but pretty much anywhere we play, we can find a person selling food out of a little cart often attached to a bicycle.  I was never a person to purchase food from a rolling cart...until now!  My two favorite items are Mexican corn and pinwheels.  The corn is on a stick, slathered in mayo, parmesan cheese, and sprinkled with lime and chili sauce.  Oh heavens it is good!  The pinwheels have a Spanish name that I can't remember, but they are orange crunchy things that I get sprinkled with lime and chili sauce.  So tasty!  My other favorite thing to get when we are at the bigger tournaments are rico tacos.  Those are the little baby tacos with carne asada that cost like one dollar each.  The best!

4. The families.

We have developed some great friendships over the years with the other soccer families.  My oldest son's team, I have a feeling, is rather unique in the way we all get along and enjoy each other's company.  I have heard this isn't always the case.  I'm hoping my younger son's team develops this sense of closeness.  We have the best time at tournaments when we stay at hotels.  There's usually lots of laughing, drinking, and eating!  I rely on these other parents many times to pick up my kids for practice if both Eric and I have meetings.  We come together for each other.  Just last week, we all met to pay our respects to the goal keeper's family on the loss of his great grandma.  

5. Tournaments

These are fun.  We get to travel.  We get to stay in hotels.  We get to eat out.  And we get to enjoy watching the kids play and win!  Now granted, not all of our travel has been to exciting places, but we did do the tournament in Las Vegas.  That's always fun!  We are part of Nor Cal (Northern California), so most of our traveling is north.  I like heading into the Sacramento area for games.  They have some nice complexes for play.  We also did a tournament in Los Angeles at the Stub Hub Center where the L.A. Galaxy soccer team plays.  That was exciting!

Playing at the Stub Hub.

Does soccer consume our lives?  Yeah, it does.  But it's okay because both boys truly enjoy playing, they like their friends, they like the competition, and it gives us plenty to do!  There are times when the schedules get overwhelming.  My husband manages both of the boys' teams and he gets swamped at times with all the details of paperwork, money, and organizing games and practices.  Still, neither of us would change what we are doing.  Maybe, just maybe, there will someday be a Forcey kiddo on a pro team!  Hey, someone's kid has to make it big!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gastric Sleeve Surgery - A Wife's Perspective: Part 4 Nutrition Class

Every Wednesday, I am going to write about the process of Eric going through weight loss surgery to record my feelings and perspective as the wife on the sidelines.  As this is an extremely personal decision on Eric's part to change his life, I am trying my best to stay true to my feelings, while at the same time accurately recording the events.

Part 1 Informational Seminar
Part 2 Doctor Appointment
Part 3 Easy way out?

In order for Eric to have the Gastric Sleeve surgery, there are a number of steps that he has had to go through before scheduling a surgery date.  Seminar, initial doctor appointment, nutrition class, swallow test, endoscopy, and psych evaluation.

Shortly after attending the initial seminar and seeing the doctor to determine if he'd be a good candidate for the surgery, Eric scheduled us for the nutrition class.  I told him that I wanted to be present at the class to get an idea of what he'd be going through after surgery and for the rest of his life.

He surprised me with a phone call in the middle of a Thursday afternoon asking if we could attend the class that was being held that night!  After a little kid maneuvering, I was flying across town to meet him for the class.

I have to say, the presenter/dietitian, was extremely knowledgeable and presented the information in an engaging way.  I was never bored and thought she had a great presentation.

She went over nutrition in general, food labels, hidden sugars, and what to expect after surgery.  Overall, the information was interesting and informative even for people not about to undergo weight loss surgery.  I wasn't bored at any point.

That being said, I got a little emotional after learning about just how much Eric's life is going to change.  It's okay...and I am past the emotion, but it just felt like a lot to take in regarding how he will be able to recover from surgery and then eat for his new life.

A few things that I think I would struggle with:
-not being able to drink anything when eating a meal (the stomach isn't large enough to accommodate food and drink together...focus has to be on food nutrients)
-learning to sip water throughout the day (the goal is to consume one ounce every 15 minutes)
-not have liquid 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal
-learning what the body will be able to tolerate (high fat or sugar foods can cause problems)
-chewing, chewing, chewing and taking 30 minutes to eat a meal
-no alcohol, caffeine, or soda

Eric knows these things will be an adjustment, but he isn't nervous or scared.  The dietitian also explained that with the smaller stomach, it would naturally take 30 minutes to eat the three ounces!  Also, hunger is significantly decreased.

With the gastric sleeve, 80% of the stomach is cut away and stapled back together leaving a "pouch" (their word, not mine) that is about 3 ounces big.

The recovery is broken into six weeks.  The first week after surgery Eric will be on a clear liquid diet.  He'll be able to eat broth and diluted juice.  Overall, the most important item for him to eat will be protein followed by fruits and vegetables.  He has to be very careful about not eating too many sugars.

The second week is still a liquid diet, but it doesn't have to be clear.  It includes foods such as tomato soup, light yogurt, oatmeal, and vegetable juice.  Eric will have to be cautious with sugar as it tends to upset the stomach.

The third and fourth week are the hardest, according to the dietitian.  She explained that patients feel like they are on this particular stage for so long and get frustrated.  The diet includes pureed food such as mashed potatoes, avocado, banana, hummus, and mashed beans.

The fifth week is better because patients can start to add back in solid proteins such as chicken, low fat ground beef, and fish.  Cheese is okay at this point as well.

The sixth week is much like the fifth week but adding seeds and nuts along with steak are possible.  But keep in mind, all this is in super small quantities.  I have to keep reminding myself that Eric will be fine because his stomach will be smaller.

He has to avoid heavy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, tortillas, and pancakes for at least six months.

He also has to give up soda, caffeine, and alcohol for good.  Due to the small stomach and different rates of metabolism, patients are prone to becoming alcoholics, so Eric's doctor says no alcohol.

I mentioned that I got emotional after the class.  It was because it felt so overwhelming thinking of all the things Eric would have to give up and avoid.  It feels so restrictive.  However, in thinking about it, the recovery is restrictive, but after the six weeks, Eric should be able to eat and tolerate a variety of foods, just in much smaller quantities.

As I watch Eric go through this process, I am so impressed with his determination.  The nutrition class did not freak him out at all!  He is not looking for a way to cheat on the food choices.  He is not interested in "testing" a forbidden food to see if his body can tolerate it.  He is planning to follow the diet prescribed by the doctors.  He has been doing a lot of research in looking for recipes and food suggestions.

The kids and I will not be on quite as restrictive of a diet as Eric, but we will be eating better simply due to circumstance.  If Eric cannot eat rice, I won't be making it for dinner.  I plan to follow a modified version of his diet to be in support with him as he recovers and learns to live his new life.

It's a learning process for all of us.  I am glad I went to the nutrition class to learn more about what to expect.

On a funny note, there was one super annoying man at the class who kept asking questions in the form of repeating everything the presenter said.  "So, what I'm hearing is that we can't eat tortillas."  The teacher in me was about to turn around and tell him he was wasting all of our time.  Read the packet and listen up, dude!  Eric had to poke me to settle down!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Homemade Ground Beef Stroganoff

**Normally each Wednesday I have been writing about Eric's decision to undergo gastric sleeve surgery.  (You can check the above link to read all about it.)  Excuses, excuses, excuses, but I didn't quite get the post about the Nutrition Class finished, and I wanted to post my recipe with Andrea at's linkup.  I promise to be back tomorrow to talk about the nutrition class and give you the full rundown on my feelings regarding the new way of eating that Eric will be undergoing in the near future.  And now for my recipe!

Homemade Beef Stroganoff

This is one of our go to meals, especially in the winter.  It's got a creamy quality that hits the spot on a cold night.  I got the recipe from a friend who said it might have been an old Betty Crocker recipe...but I have no verification of that!

One word of warning.  If you make Hamburger Helper Stroganoff, don't EVER make this meal unless you plan to never return to the HH box!  I was cruising along with my box meals, feeding my family quickly with preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients, when a friend shared this recipe for homemade stroganoff.  Once my husband tried it, he refused to eat the box stuff ever again.

Good for my family.  Ease and convenience gone for me.  It's all good.  The recipe is good!

1 lb ground beef (I use 80/20 fat)
1 red onion
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic
2 Tbsp. flour
1 small can Cream of Mushroom soup (I think 10 oz)
3 large spoonfuls of sour cream (probably a 1/2 cup or so)
rice or noodles

Bear with me and my non food blogging pictures.  I tried to capture each step.  I like it when food bloggers photograph each step so I have an idea if I'm on the right track when I make the recipe.

Brown the ground beef.  Drain the excess fat.

While the beef is browning, dice the onion.

After draining the excess fat, add 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of butter and the onion to the pan.  Cook and stir until butter is melted and onions are soft.

Add 1 tsp. of salt to the pan.  I usually add slightly less just because I don't like to overly salt my food.

Add 1/4 tsp. pepper to the pan.  I really like pepper, so I usually add a bit more.  I realized in the middle of this recipe that my ground pepper was missing.  I think we took it to my mom's at Thanksgiving time when we were in charge of the prime rib.  No matter.  I just ground a bunch of pepper into the pan until it looked sufficiently "peppery."  (I am so good at explaining recipes...NOT!)

If you are still hanging in there with me, the next step is to add 2 Tbsp. of flour.  

Then add a teaspoon of garlic.  You can certainly dice fresh garlic.  I don't.  I always have a jar of diced garlic on hand because it's an ingredient we use frequently.  I throw a good spoonful of the stuff on in the pan.

*Note - I throw the four previous ingredients in and DON'T mix until they are all ready to go.  The flour tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, and I don't want it to burn while I'm trying to spoon garlic into the mix.

Once all the ingredients are in there, stir constantly for 10 minutes.  Sometimes I cheat and cut it down to 5.

 Be sure to dye and wash your hair prior to making this meal so you can look lovely at the stove with a towel on your head.

Also make sure that your kitchen is a mess so you have nowhere to work!  It just makes the whole process extra fun!

After stirring for 5-10 minutes, scraping the bits off the bottom, remove the pan from the heat and stir in a can of cream of mushroom soup.  I'm a snob and only use Campbell's.  I can get it at Wal Mart for 75 cents.

Mix the soup in well and let simmer for 10 minutes.  I set the timer for this one and give it a mid-simmer stir at the 5 minute mark.  

I think people traditionally eat stroganoff over egg noodles, but we never have.  Before I even start cooking, I start a few cups of rice cooking in the rice cooker.  That way the rice is done at nearly the same time as the stroganoff.  If it isn't quite done, the simmer step can be extended.  Just stir every once in a while.

When you are ready to eat, scoop out three large spoonfuls of sour cream.

Three big dollops.

Mix it in and let heat until warm.

Plate the rice on super fancy china.

Bring the pan to the table and scoop mixture onto rice.

Mix it all in and enjoy the good stuff.

Our family eats it up!

And be sure to take the towel off your head!  Makes eating dinner much easier.

Directions in one place:
Brown a pound of ground beef.  Add 1/4 cup of butter to pan with one onion diced.  Stir until onions are soft.  Add 2 T. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Still continuously for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add can of cream of mushroom soup.  Mix.  Simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add three large scoops of sour cream.  Stir and heat until warm.  Serve over rice or noodles.

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Piecing Together 2013 - February

I skipped blogging for the entire year of 2013.  For my own records, I'm trying to piece a bit of that year together.  To see January, go HERE.

February 2013

One of the crosses made by my 8th graders for the annual school auction.

My 8th grade class threw me a surprise birthday party at school!  I turned 38 in 2013.

My 8th graders celebrated the 100th day of school with their preschool buddies!

I can't find many more pictures from February of 2013.  I know Hudson was in kindergarten, Evan was in 3rd grade, and Eric and I were working.

I'm sure it was a fabulous month!