Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 2017 Update

Okay, I know...I'm a month behind. It's okay. I'm still here.

I know you've probably been wondering about how the #deannosoda17 challenge is going. I have to tell you....I am so impressed! No one is out yet. Everyone has seriously committed to this challenge and we are still going STRONG! Today, Raiden said, "I can't wait until next year when I can drink a soda again...well, unless we do the no soda challenge again." We are on day 83, getting ready to wrap up our third month. I have to admit that I drink tea a good bit when out and about now because I don't always want to drink water. I do still have dreams where I look down and I'm drinking a soda and I totally freak out and get really upset that I have messed up the challenge. Thank goodness I always wake up and realize I'm just dreaming!

Let's see, what else is new? Life has been super busy. Without as many snow days this year, the school year has seemed extra busy. Of course, it could be that we have two toddlers running around that exhaust us as well. I have done much better about going to bed earlier, and that has helped in having more energy to survive the busy days.

Roman and Raiden are starting soccer back up. They are looking forward to the Spring season. This is Raiden's last season in U10 on the smaller field, so he is looking forward to trying to score a few more goals before the field gets really big.

Teagan has started taking karate at daycare. She is very excited about wearing her "unicorn" each Tuesday and kicking and punching. I'm not sure how much karate a 3 year old really learns but we thought it'd be great exposure for her. Ryker is getting to that age where they say all kinds of funny things. He talks in complete sentences and it's really amazing what he says. He is a very empathetic little guy. Tim has been sick today and he was asking him, "You feel better, Daddy? You still sick?" Tim told him yes and he said, "I love you very much!" It was just the sweetest thing ever!

We are a little behind inviting people over to eat with us. We had some great company at the end of January and enjoyed some also fellowship and spaghetti, but then February and March have just been so very busy. I'm sure we can catch up this spring/summer. At least I hope so!

....until next month!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 2017 Update

I promised I'd update once a month this year so that gives you one update on my awesome goals. The others, Let's see, how are the other goals going?

1. The #DeanNoSoda17 is going pretty well. It's been much easier than I thought. Of course, we're only on day 14, but usually it's breaking the habit that's hard right? Roman's teacher rewards his class with soda when they have good behavior. He is a little sad that he won't get to participate in the reward and has asked the Family Committee to convene and decide if this might be allowed. I'll keep you posted.

2. Paleo, Power cooking, and eating from our cabinets all kind of go together. Paleo and power cooking will begin in February because we've been eating from our cabinets. In fact, we were snowed/iced in for about 5 days and we REALLY ate from what we had our our cabinets. It's a blessing to have enough food that we can just eat what's been piling up. I think we all should be thankful to have food in our cabinets. Not everyone in our country, and definitely not our world, can say that.

3.  I did pretty great the first week back at school with the 10 pm bedtime on Sunday-Thursday, but then the ice/snow came and we all know how that is. We sleep later and watch movies later, so that got me and even more importantly, the littles off track. In fact, I fully believe they were the last ones awake this past Thursday night at well past 11:00 pm, tucked safely in their beds of course.

4. The snow/ice have delayed our dinner guests but I'm glad we started this monthly tradition of having guests over for dinner. I'm looking forward to a great year with friends in our home.

5. Reading more for purpose has probably been the least of the goals so far, unless you count the 130+ transcripts I read through during the ice/snow break. I know its going to be a busy next few months so I've been trying to get ahead of the scheduling snowball that's heading my way. Hoping this work now will free up my schedule to be able to do some more purposeful reading soon.

6.Finally, I have found contentment this month in our ability to make do with what we have. Eating what you have instead of eating out  or buying more, really makes you realize how much you already have. It's been a great experiment to see what we have and how we can live in the temporary with less. I'm looking forward to the upcoming months, finding contentment in other things. This month's sounds really simple, and it was, but it's really given me a much better outlook on what we often take for granted.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I thought it'd be a great time to tell you more about our no soda challenge, how it came about, and how it's going.

Have you ever had this nemesis that you can never seem to defeat? Maybe it has so much control over you and you can't figure out how to shake it? Well, if so, then you understand the relationship I have with Soda/Soft Drinks/Pop, whatever you call it. Growing up, Friday or Saturday Nights were often the night that someone came home from the store with a big 3-liter of delicious, sweet soda. We mostly drank tea and kool aid, but for movie night (courtesy of the local GO video rental store) we'd splurge a little and have Coke or Dr. Pepper and some popcorn. By the end of the weekend, the soda would be gone and back to drinking the traditional refrigerator stocked tea or kool aid. As I became a teenager, I eventually found a love for Mountain Dew, although I distinctly remember not liking the taste until I was at least 14, maybe 15. Anyway, the obsession began and although I didn't drink too much more as a teenager, as I reached college and it's availability became ever so prevalent I began to drink it morning, noon, and night. For the next several years, I went through bouts of trying to cut back and then back to addiction, so on and so forth. Fast-forward to July 4th weekend 2008...Tim and I decided to drop soft drinks with caffeine. I had never really gone without them for more than maybe a month, so I thought, maybe I'd try it. It seemed easy enough. We thought we'd try from July 5 to get to the holidays. And try it I DID! I lasted from July 5 through Thanksgiving weekend. I was so proud of myself. It wasn't easy, but it was a challenge and it was motivating.

SO....why NOW? and Why the whole family? and Why an entire YEAR?

First, why not? Like I said, it was EXTREMELY motivating to have a challenge to it. Tim participated for a few months before he gave in, but I still felt motivated and it was fun to keep going even when he was out. I've learned that I function much better without caffeine in my system. It's easier to sleep, my digestive system works more properly, and I don't have those up and down bursts of energy. So, why the whole family? Because the easiest way to succeed in this task is to eliminate it wherever you can. By not having it in the house, takes out the temptation to drink it. Not only that, but the food budget really likes it when we drink WATER, because it's FREE. Roman has become much more of an addict than Raiden, but it's good for both of them to take a break from soda. Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on their teeth. So, when Tim and I started talking about it, the boys wanted in, pretty willingly. So, why an entire year? Well, probably because I've done the 6 month thing before, so I wanted a greater challenge, but also because a year seems like it will help make it a more permanent change. It also helps that the New Year was approaching, so that made the terms easier to decide.

If it's just a challenge, why a reward?...and why can everyone win?

Well, you know as well as I that challenges with rewards are just more fun. Originally, I pitched the idea without a reward. Just to challenge each other to see who could do it longer, but then I realized that a reward might sweeten the pot a little and make others want to win. At first, it was just going to be a challenge with just one clear winner, but then I realized that because I've done something similar, and because not everyone in my family is as competitive as I am, they might just give up as soon as we started. So then I thought, if there's a reward for everyone, maybe each person would find their motivation to complete it. $100 is a lot of money to pretty much anyone (well, maybe not if you're loaded, but we are definitely not rich). In our family, Christmas is the only time you get anything that costs close to $100. Since we have an entire year to plan, we thought $100 would be a great reward, not to mention, we'll probably save about $100 per person over the year if we don't drink sodas.

What are our starting thoughts?

We are using this as a great experience to talk about setting goals. We've talked about how we are going to reach our goal and what barriers we might face. For example, we all agreed that not having them in our house will take a HUGE pressure off of us, but our biggest obstacles will be when we are on the go. Think about all the times you stop and get a drink at the store, that's how many times we'll have to be vigilant to choose something other than soda. Another big barrier that I ran into last time, that even the boys have already mentioned is when you go to a party or over to someone's house and all they really offer to drink is soda. I'll admit, we've been those people. Thankfully, more and more people are becoming more health conscious and we suggested to the boys that we can always take a bottle of water when we are heading to a party or to visit someone.

So, on New Year's Eve, just minutes before the ball dropped to celebrate the new year, each of us took our last sips of soda or maybe some of us chugged it, but either way, we savored the last of them and after midnight we threw away the last of the soda in our house, and our CHALLENGE BEGAN!

Raiden has already asked me twice today what was in the cup I was drinking. I guess he has become the new drink police. The boys seem really excited about the challenge. I know the excitement will fade but hopefully, the routine will set in and they will feel good about the healthy changes they are making. Maybe the enticement of the reward at the end will also help them make it to the end of 2017, we will see. This morning the boys asked if the littles were participating as well. At first, I said no, but then I realized that they are participating just as much as we are. They only drink soda when they steal it out of our cups, so I guess they are playing along as well. Best of Luck Dean Family! I hope we all win (even though I better start budgeting NOW, if we're going to pay out $400 in one swoop).

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017's Awesome Goals

Do you know what my FAVORITE number is? Wait, do you have a favorite number? If not, you need one. I'm not sure exactly why, but I LOVE having a favorite number. It helps when you're deciding things like, how many M & M's should I eat? How to randomly pick something out of a list? Things like that. Anyway, my favorite number is 17. It has been my favorite number since, hmm....Actually, it's funny, it became my favorite number when I was 17. So, I'm thinking that this year is going to be OFF the charts AWESOME! I can't wait! I came up with 10 super awesome goals for 2017, and I'm hoping to update you on those goal this year.

Alright, here's my new awesome goals for 2017.

1. Complete the #DeanNoSoda17 Challenge.
This one is going to take the WHOLE year to accomplish! Tim, Roman, Raiden, and I are challenging  each other to go without soda/soft drinks/pop, whatever you call it for as much of the year as possible.The only exception is one drink on your birthday, other than that, NONE! Everyone can win by remaining Soda-free all year or the last one standing wins. Any winner will receive $100 to do as they wish. It will be a fun and healthy challenge, we hope.

2. Get back to the Paleo lifestyle.
Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It's a way of eating, and a plan to be physically active and get more sleep.We switched to Paleo back in August of 2015 and maintained it until about Mid-December. I lost about 25 lbs and 2 pants sizes, but more importantly, I felt better. This time I'm hoping to have similar results. I'd also like to be more physically active to help make these dietary changes more sustainable. I'd also like to strive for the 80/20 lifestyle, so that I don't beat myself up when I'm not eating 100% Paleo. Just 80% is the goal. It's also, like I said, not just eating, it's about living the lifestyle. Being more active, getting more sleep, just being more healthy.

3. Go to bed by 10 pm Sunday-Thursday.
If you know me very well, you know I'm a night owl, but being nocturnal is not effective during the school year with 4 kids, a full-time job, and trying to be healthier. So Friday and Saturday Nights can be all-nighters, but during the workweek, I'm striving for more healthy sleep decisions.

4. Weekly "Power Cooking" Hour.
This one goes along with Paleo, but it will also go along with another goal coming up. One of our biggest obstacles for Paleo is the prep work and cooking for weekly meals. Between schools, scouts, sports, camps, the gym, church, and everything else we are doing or are involved in we often get caught up in the hustle of the week and want to swing through a drive-thru or order pizza. We did a little meal prep last time when we were doing Paleo before, but I want to dedicate one hour each weekend to meal prep. I got most of my inspiration from here. I know some weeks will be tougher than others but I know it will be so much easier and better for us during the week.

5. Invite at least one family over for dinner each month in 2017.
Let's be honest, we're busy. We don't spend enough time with other families because we let time/no planning get in our way. So this year I'm writing it down as a goal. I must also confess that when I mentioned this one to Tim, he said, "Ok, so who's eating bologna sandwiches with us in January?" Don't worry, he's just kidding. So if you are just dying to be on our guest list, feel free to comment your month. That would really take the leg work out of this goal. Hee hee.

6. Eat more meals from the food in cabinets and refrigerator.
Let's face it. Some months we feel like we can splurge a little more on food because "we don't have time to cook." REALity is, we don't plan or make time. So we are going to start the new year off with a new trend. Something my parents always called "Cobbs' Kitchen".  Growing up in a house with 3 kids, it was expensive to eat out a lot. So when someone asked what was for dinner, the answer was often "Cobbs' Kitchen". That just was fancy talk for "We're finding something to eat at home." Dollar menus have come along and my last name has changed, but the cost of eating out is not only a food budget killer, but it's also a waistline killer. 2017 will hopefully help us find more change at the bottom of our pockets while we look into the cabinets and the refrigerator to feed our bellies.

7. Read more for purpose.
I'll be honest. I read a lot. I love to read. I have spent hours of my life buried in novels, magazines, and on websites. I've read less the last few years from books because of the littles, but probably just as much from Facebook, Twitter, Google, and search engine finds. I just haven't been spending enough time reading for purpose. For example, I need to find myself more in love with reading Scriptures instead of a few lines for a short quiet time each day. I need to make sure that the reading I am doing is purposeful and valuable. I've began exploring the idea of minimalism, which to me, ties very close to my spiritual beliefs about following and having a relationship with Christ. I want to explore these things, but wasted time on articles about the top 10 things NOT to wear this Spring is just not going to cut it.

8. Date nights each month with my sweetie.
Tim and I have always tried to have time together. We lead super busy lives and our kids are part of the busyness, to be honest. We often have to ask others to watch the kids for us to do things with our other kids or for work, which leaves us with (a) little time to do things for just us or (b) guilt over asking for another night of babysitting. Our other issue is always the money factor, but this year, I'm not going to let either of those stand in our way! We are going to make it happen! It might be popcorn and a movie when the kids are tucked in bed (on a Friday or Saturday if it's after 10 pm of course), but it's going to happen!

9. Update my blog (at least once a month).
I know, it seems pretty impossible for this one to happen, but come on, once a month?!? You can do this Renata! Ok, so this one is already requiring a pep talk. I'm going to try! Every time I look back at this thing, I'm amazed at everything I've written and what I was thinking at that point in time. I also love the idea of a journal for the future me to look back on. So I'm going to add it to my list and see what happens.

10. Finally, my WORD for 2017 is CONTENTMENT.
As you can tell, many of my goals have to do with consuming less, finding more in less, doing things with purpose. This year I want to focus on CONTENTMENT. I want to be more content with the things I have. I want to plan my food choices and routines better so that I can be content with the meals that I have on hand to prepare and feel good about spending time with others, going to bed early, dating my spouse, sharing with others how life is going. No matter where my goals take me, I want to find contentment in my year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teagan: End of Summer Update

What a great summer for Teagan! Soon to be two year olds really do a lot of learning and growing in just a few months. At the beginning of the summer, Teagan was using short sentences. Now, it seems like she completes paragraphs (well, maybe they aren't that long). She's also discovered some new things along the way. For example, POPCORN! Teagan absolutely loves in and can be found eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...not the same day of course.

When I decided to take the littles to SMBC with me, I thought it would be hard. It turned out to be not so bad. First, I had a lot of really good help from a good friend, my brother, and my dad. They were really well behaved at chapel. They only missed one service (lunch time chapel on the last full day...they slept through it!). They actually slept pretty good as well, although Teagan napped very little. The biggest issue was just the whole concept of going places. Hills, especially steep ones, aren't made for 2 year olds. We did make it to the pool just about every day, even though Teagan just wanted to play in the puddle on the cement. She did however, LOVE the creek.

Our other big adventure this summer was camping at Kerr Lake. We had a lot of fun playing and swimming. Teagan even took Deuce for a walk one morning. We celebrated Teagan's birthday on Tuesday of the lake trip with homemade ice cream and chocolate cake. She blew out the candles on the first try!

I'll be honest. I don't have as many pictures from the summer that I thought I'd have, especially since I spent the whole summer with the littles. But I feel like I spent a lot of quality time with them, not just playing paparazzi. Two kids under two is a challenge. Most days we do well just to be fed, changed, and rested, anything else is a bonus. But I will always remember this summer, and the special time we spent together. I can't imagine life any other way.