Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Jammie Jog: How Exercising with My Children Made Our Whole Summer Better

I have to balance out my previous post about brownies with some inspiration to get you and your kiddos on the move!

Our family has been around the block trying to fit exercise into our lives. I used to think that discipline was about finding a routine that works for you and sticking with it no matter what. Now I know that it's more about being willing to change your routine over and over again to keep your priorities in front of you no matter what your season of life looks like. 

Physical fitness is not our top priority, but we realize that we need our bodies to be strong and healthy if we want to accomplish the things that are most important to us. For this season, our goal is not a six pack or winning races, but to maintain a healthy weight and have energy for work, parenting, and fun. 

When Kai was a baby, Brandon was in law school and he biked a couple miles to classes and back daily and would supplement with some weight lifting when he was able. I threw in a few workouts at home when Kai was napping or in bed in the evening. 

When Caleb joined the crew, we joined the YMCA and tried for 6 months to put our children in their wonderful childcare room while we worked out together. Every. single. time. for 6 months, Caleb would cry past the 10 minute mark and they would call us. At least we got in a 10 minute jog each time!! We finally gave up that plan. If my children would stay in the childcare, I would go that route again in a heartbeat. Our Y even had a quiet little prayer room so I could have worked out and had quiet time to pray while my children played happily with new friends. Except, they didn't. Oh well.

After Joe was born, I spent a season running and exercising at night after the boys went to bed. I enjoyed that, but it wasn't the safest option. When Joe went through a short phase of waking up at 6:00 every morning, an hour earlier than his brothers, I put him in the stroller and ran with him in the morning.

Brandon started biking to work once a week. It's a good 30 miles. He also run-mows the grass Saturday morning and does a body weight workout after. Sometimes he plays soccer with friends Sunday afternoon before church. He had his routine down, but I was starting to need something different.

Joe was a poor sleeper so over the winter I started to run out of steam and I was too tired to stay up late or get up early to work out. I needed all the sleep I could get. 

That's when our newest plan came into being....

The Jammie Jog!!!!!

I was waking up tired and foggy and my children were waking up exploding with energy. I needed help waking up and they needed help getting all that energy out ASAP.

I asked around and got a double stroller from a friend (Thanks, Joanne!!). Three mornings a week, we wake up, eat a small breakfast, change dirty diapers, and run out the door. We don't brush our teeth. We stay in our jammies. We just get out that door as fast as we can before someone has a fit, another dirty diaper, or a potty training accident.

Kai rides his bike or scooter. Caleb rides in the stroller for the first 1/2 mile loop and for the second loop he rides his Mini Micro. It's a three wheeled scooter, but I love it because it goes so much faster than a traditional scooter and doesn't tip like most three wheeled scooters.

The first time we did it, the boys complained that they were tired after a quarter mile. I told them, "When you're tired and you keep going, that's how you get faster and stronger!" Now, at the end of summer, they are way ahead of me calling back, "Mom! Go faster or we are going to beat you!!"

At the entrance to our neighborhood, there is a little patch with blackberries and honeysuckle. When they were in season we always ended our jog there for a snack.

It's not perfect, we have to stop a lot for little distractions, but we are all getting faster and stronger together. When we get back, we are all awake, happy and ready to proceed with the rest of our day. I've noticed we are all in a better mood and the whole day is smoother on our Jammie Jog days. 

This is working really well for us in this season. What about you? How do you fit exercise into your life these days? 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fudgy, Chewy, Intensely Chocolate Homemade Brownies

My friends, this is THE brownie recipe. I have spent the last 6 years of my married life trying different brownie recipes on the hunt for that mouthful of chocolate perfection. Let me tell you, it has been a long, difficult journey eating one pan of brownies after another. I took all the calories just for you so that today I could bring you this:

These dance perfectly between the line of chewy and fudgy. They have that delectable crackly, crunchy top. They pack some heavyweight amounts chocolate. Seriously, do not even attempt making them without a big glass of milk or scoop of ice cream around. You have been warned. They have all that homemade taste and goodness and none of the "What is that ingredient???" chemicals you find in the boxed mixes. Last, but not least, they can be made with ingredients that you have on hand. No chocolate chips or special ingredients needed. These brownies are there for you when you need them.

Are you ready for the recipe??

Fudgy, Chewy, Intensely Chocolate Homemade Brownies
(Adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and these brownie tips from The Kitchn)

1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8x8 pan or cast iron skillet. Combine the first 5 ingredients. Pull out your mixer and mix these for a good 5-10 minutes. This part is important if you want that crackly top! The crunchy top is actually meringue that forms from beating the sugar and eggs together. Five minutes should do it, but I usually do a couple more minutes for good measure.

This is me hiding in my bathroom mixing brownie batter so that the noise from the mixer doesn't wake Joe up from his nap. Desperate times call for desperate measures--and brownies. When he did wake up, he was well rewarded.

After you have mixed the first 5 ingredents, add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir just to combine. Pour the batter into your pan. It will be a bit thick. Bake for 20-30 minutes--less time for a fudgier brownies, more time for a more chewy bite.