(Sidenote: It feels ridiculously weird to use the word “tween” to describe my 10 and 11 year old sons. “Tween” connotes someone so much older than my baby boys. If I think too long on how quickly they’ve grown and how quickly they’ll be leaving our house (make no mistake; they WILL be leaving), I start to feel a little panicky and my heart begins beating too quickly. Then, I hear them yelling at one another in the next room and I wonder why I think they even deserve Easter basket treats to begin with!)
Unless it’s peanut butter and chocolate (which is the best dessert combination in the world), candy is a “take it or leave it” kind of thing for me.
Actually, I kind of hate candy. Mostly because my kids always bring home boatloads of it from various school functions and holiday gatherings.
It all starts with Halloween. I love that my kids have memories of dressing up and trick-or-treating, but, after school parties and door-to-door begging/threatening, we always end up with an obscene amount of candy. Once I throw away all the crappy stuff like Twizzlers, Now and Laters, and Smarties (keeping the chocolate), we still end up with more sugar than a family of 5 should eat in a decade.
By the time I get around to throwing away the vestiges of the Halloween candy, it’s time for Christmas candy. No one eats those Starlight mints or candy canes, so more goes into the trash. But the CHOCOLATE!
Just as I’m tossing out the Christmas candy leftovers, it’s time for Valentine’s Day. Then Easter comes right around the corner and the candy is driving me insane and controlling my life and I need a Xanax.
My candy-related issues always cause me to seek alternative ideas for Easter baskets. And boys, for whatever reason, are more difficult to buy for than girls. And then OLDER boys are even MORE difficult to buy for because they want all the things that cost all the money. I simply can’t afford to put video games and high dollar itunes gift cards into their baskets.
So I put my brain to work and came up with some ideas for older/tween boys that won’t break the bank. Here you go!
3. Cans/Bottles of Favorire Drinks- Yes, sodas and Gatorade-type drinks are special treats in our house. My boys would LOVE to have a couple of bottles of Gatorade all to themselves.
4. Movie Tickets– If I were to do this idea, I’d purchase tickets for the whole family and then each child would get one ticket in their basket. Make it a matinee and save even more!
5. Pajamas- Target usually has inexpensive PJs, but you’ll probably get more mileage if you go to the store rather than shop online. The current ones online run about $12/set, which is still a little steep for this cheapskate. You can generally find sleep pants in store for under $10.
6. Bandaids– Yes, my boys still want their own bandaid “style.” Heaven forbid they have to use a Hello Kitty bandaid in front of their friends! If I’m buying them for the family, I’m getting the
cheap classic tan ones.
7. College/Team Paraphernalia– We’re HUGE Baylor fans in this house, so I know my little bears would love a small BU token, like a magnet, temporary tattoos, eye black, lanyard, pen, etc.
8. Office Supplies- My boys both love to write and illustrate, so they’re constantly stealing the printer paper, much to J.’s aggravation. Having their own packs of colored notebook paper, composition books or spirals, colored pens, etc. would thrill them.
9. Favorite Snack or Food Item- One of my boys loves fruit snacks/gummies. Another one loves chips and popcorn. We don’t buy any of that on a regular basis, so getting snacks like these in their baskets is a special treat that’s NOT CANDY.
10. Homemade Coupons- I didn’t appreciate the joy of having children until they were old enough to unload the dishwasher and take out the trash by themselves. Now, there are chores that I simply won’t do because my children need to learn good work ethic…right? But they might like to legitimately get out of those chores sometime, so I found some really cute ideas for homemade coupons to stuff in eggs here, here, and here.
11. Earbuds or iPod accessories- We can never find earbuds and chargers when we need them. These are a steal! And if they’re crap, well, at least you didn’t spend much on them.
12. Coins- Throw a few quarters in some plastic eggs, and BINGO! Happy boys!
If all else fails and you’re at your budget but the basket still looks meager, just buy a smaller basket!
I’m so thankful that I work in a fairly casual environment, so you generally won’t find me in business suits, heels, and hose. Cropped pants, cardigans, and flowy blouses pretty much sums up my spring wardrobe. I’m far from a fashionista, but my style has come a loooong way in the past few years, thanks to stylish friends, pinterest, and various style blogs!
So here’s basically what I wore this week. I don’t own a full length mirror, so these are basic re-creations. I do not have any affiliate links.
In January 2012, I joined a 12-week weight loss competition at work. I’ve struggled with my weight as far back as I can remember. I’m sure I was a perfectly normal size in high school, but it seemed like all my friends were thinner than me, so I always felt like a whale. Then, after the Freshman Fifteen (or Twenty), the Newlywed Nine(ty) (I just made that up), and having 3 babies in 4 1/2 years (fun fact: No numbers start with the letter P), I didn’t think I would ever be (what I considered) thin.
The weight loss competition turned out to be the perfect jump start I needed. I lost 50 lbs. in a year and began working out regularly. By January 2013 I was in the best shape of my life, but I started feeling burned out and tired. By the time the summer 2013 ended, I had gained about 10 lbs. Then, in September, a perfect storm of stress of a new job, general exhaustion, and illness caused me to quick attending the workout group I had attended almost daily for a year. I found myself no longer paying attention to what I ate (as if it didn’t matter) and exercising in a manner that calling it “sporadic” would be generous.
So, here I am. Probably 25-30 lbs. heavier than I was a year ago and determined to whip myself back into shape. Well, since round is a shape I guess I want to be a different shape. The first decision I had to make was how to eat to lose weight. Previously, I counted calories, but I wanted something healthier to ensure I wasn’t too restrictive in my eating. I considered paleo, but needed something that would work better for our entire family. After additional research, I decided to begin counting macros.
Macro counting functions on the basic premise that a calorie is still a calorie (so all foods are fair game), and a basic calorie deficit is what’s needed to lose weight. However, your daily goal is to eat the correct amount of your macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) so that you lose fat and not muscle composition. You can eat anything as long as it fits into your daily allotment of macros, but that doesn’t mean unlimited junk food. For example, last week I was able to fit in a classic chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, but didn’t have enough carb or fat macros left for the fries. Eating this way is forcing me to eat WAY more protein than I normally would, and considerably fewer carbs, but I don’t feel too deprived. The high amount of protein keeps my hunger at bay most of the day, but I can still eat my favorite foods, like peanut butter and cereal (I have HIGHLY refined taste buds), as long as I plan for it.
Trying to reach a target macro is like a puzzle that forces me to be creative. Sometimes by the end of the day I need more protein and carbs, but I’m out of fat macros, so I eat fat-free refried beans, nonfat Greek yogurt, or fat-free cottage cheese. Other times I need protein and fat, but I’m out of carb macros, so I get to eat cheese, peanut butter, or almonds. I almost always need more protein, which has forced me to incorporate foods like tuna fish, cottage cheese, chicken, and eggs on a daily basis.
If you want to read more about counting macros, there are a few good articles here and here, but a cursory google search will turn up many more. There is a handy macro calculator here, if you’re curious to see how many macros you should have daily. I like to keep track of my food via a smartphone app, but I haven’t found one I love yet. I used to use My Fitness Pal, but that app was being kind of ornery when I tried to manipulate the daily macros. The current macro app I use is not something that I just LOVE because there aren’t enough foods in the database. I have to add almost everything I eat manually. If I find one I adore, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
If you count macros, how is it working for you? What are some of your favorite high protein recipes?
Because I’ve never had the privilege (or frightening experience) of being inside someone else’s head, I have no idea if my weird quirk of chronically writing stories of my life in my mind is normal or not. Regardless, the words are always there, silently narrating my life. An inward accounting of our stories.
Unfortunately, I’m also chronically forgetful. I can read a book, and by the time I see the movie version I’ve forgotten the ending and many of the important details. I can’t recount the number of times I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera (movie and stage versions) and the ending is always a surprise. I generally live by the motto “If I don’t write it down, then it didn’t happen.”
So in an effort to get the words out of my mind and into a medium which will help me recall our life’s details, I’m turning to blogging. Again. Third time’s a charm, right? I don’t mean to seem self-important. Readers can read or not. I just want to write.