An unopened gift {Five Minute Friday}

I wrote a message yesterday to my readers  friends about what this blog has be meant to me, and more importantly, that the fact that you READ it means so much to me.  

And now, looking forward.

Intend to Live, the blog I am launching on Sunday with Tracey, is an unopened gift.
There is the excitement leading up to the day, not sure what exactly is going to be inside the package.  Sure, we made a list of what we hope it might be.  We put work and thought into it, and we each have our hopes of what it will become.

I am looking forward with anticipation as to what possible gifts will come from joining with a good friend to create a new blog will bring.  Since that friend has already brought awesome gifts into my life, I can only imagine that they will continue to grow and multiply.
And hopefully its an unopened gift to you.  Isn't blogging in general?  Who knows what waits for you as you sleep and people across the world hit "publish".  We see the gifts of creativity, organization, love, tenderness, photography, skills in the kitchen and other places.  We see the gifts of the people that we share interests, loves and faith with.

My hope and prayer is that going forward you only find unopened gifts to keep you excited about what tomorrow has to offer.

* * *

Make sure to visit The Gypsy Mama for more wonderful women's Five Minute Fridays


A letter to my readers (and friends)

Dear  Readers Friends, 

I started this little blog just about a year ago {in ernest, anyways} and I could have never imagined what has come from it.  I know it isn't all because of the blog.

Most of it has to do with you, the readers, my friends, my family and friends who I haven't met yet.

There haven't always been a lot of comments, but that doesn't mean much to me.  I know you are there.

You are reading, cheering me on.  Who knows, maybe chiding me?  It doesn't matter, I just know that you are there.  And that makes all the difference.

 It has changed me from being a lazy a*s who would find any excuse to NOT get off the couch, 
to being a girl who feels guilty if she doesn't get her exercise in FIRST thing in the morning.  

It has changed me from a Mom who was doing a subpar job into a Mom who is doing...well, less of a subpar job.  
Ha.  Okay, I'm most definitely a better mama than I was a year ago.   

It has changed me from a person who knows nothing in the kitchen to a person who knows...
well, a little bit. 

It has changed me from someone who was wondering what to do with her time, 
to someone who knows what she is going to get accomplished.  

So thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Because of you, I'm a better person.

I truly help you'll stick around thru the weekend and follow me over to our new bloggie home.  It WILL only get better from here.

Really, it will.

And you don't want to miss that, do you?   {Smile}



a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut

The Fontenot Four


Tracey's Thoughts

Hi all!

Instead of our regular Challenge Wednesday, Tracey and I are just trading blogs to share some thoughts on our new Intend to Live home.  Just want to make sure you keep getting a chance to get to know this lovely woman.  So, with that....here she is!

*  *  *

I have found over the last couple of years that I enjoy writing. It has become comfortable, in a way that my wedding ring feels comfortable. I notice it when it is missing. And I feel naked without it.
Despite the comfort I find, I do not consider myself a writer. Not like Jen, who dreams of having her thoughts, her imagination, printed in some form or another. Nope. Not me. I write like I am talking to a dear friend. My husband recently told me that a common trait of introverts is that they are much more likely to reveal themselves via media such as blogging. That makes sense to me. I cannot always deal with people, and talking exhausts me. I am not socially awkward, nor do I romanticize my solitude. I just need some time to recover after particularly social situations. I have a word limit, and when I have used up all my words I am done. But sometimes I still have things to say.
So I write.
Blogging has become my method of choice for sharing myself with others, and for keeping track of my musings and adventures (read: hair-brained schemes and fickle flitting from one obsession to another). I want to keep doing it, but I want to protect myself. From burnout. From stalemate. From writing becoming a chore.
Source: examiner.com via Becky on Pinterest

Intend to Live was born from a desire to keep life simple, and it has grown into a common theme: get rid of the excess everything so we can spend our time living.

This partnership means we can still record our thoughts, share our dreams, and reveal who we are; it also means we can share the load of writing so we can build more experiences. And building more experiences will in turn give us inspiration
to write.
And, to live.

* * * 

Well said Tracey, well said.  


Coming attractions...

Hey ya'll.

First of all...there was question after yesterday's post about whether or not this bloggity blog would still be up when Intend to Live makes its humble entrance to the world on Sunday.

The short answer is, yes.  It'll always be here for history's sake, but the answer that you were probably looking for? I won't be updating it much.

The idea behind creating the new home was to cut back on my blogging time so I can focus on other things.   But the best part of the new home?
There are two of us, so much more {and better!} content.

Tracey knows her way around a kitchen a bit better than I do.  Which means more recipes, like sauerkraut and ideas for picky eaters.  {Guessing sauerkraut won't be on that list.  Hehe.}

I'm going to get back to my roots a bit and talk about bucket lists, and how to start one in case you've been thinking about it.  There are a ton of resources out there, so I'll be sharing some of that.  Not even that, but there will be more coming about healthy living.

And who knows....we might even drop a giveaway or two in there.  So make sure to follow here or at Tracey's home, to make sure you are there for the big launch!


Day 65. {perspective}

Last week was last week.  It's over and done with {thankfully}.

This week is a new beginning and begins with good news.

Weight check-in:
Starting weight (this week): 198.4
Goal weight for week (1%): 196.4
End weight:  194.4

Total weight loss (since start):  20.4 pounds 

Four pounds!  20 total?  Happy girl right here.  

It's amazing what a new perspective can do.  When I look at the weight loss as a whole, instead of focusing so much on the tiny weekly number?  It gives me a renewed sense of purpose.  

I started this journey wanting to lose 85 pounds total.  And I am about a fourth of the way there.  

That gives me a boatload of motivation.  

* * * 

What are you thinking about that could use a "new perspective" this week?

Intend to Live: the Details

In just under a week, my new bloggie home with Tracey from Control the Chaos will launch!

So excited.  And now it is time to fill you on some of the details.  I bet you were just sitting there, drinking your coffee, wondering, what exactly are you guys going to write about?

Well, you asked {okay, maybe you didn't} and I answer.
Mondays and Wednesdays will be my domain.  Mondays will be for bucket list updates, photography fun (maybe even some challenges?) and other memory making and keeping thoughts.  Wednesdays will be my weekly update on my healthy life/weight loss journey and any other great tips about living well that we want to share.  

Tuesdays and Saturdays Tracey will be filling us in on simplifying and making more time for living.  Essentially living naturally.  Living simply.  

Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays we'll toss it back and forth.  Sharing projects that we have pinned on pinterest {and then actually completed!} and other favorites we want to share with you.  Like fun new blogs, books, products....you get the idea!  

So what do you think?  It's in just six short days!


Five Minute Friday: Loud

Friday.  Thank God for Friday.  Especially this one.  I am spent.  But SO excited about my weight loss, so I might even come back today to give y'all an update.

But, it's Friday, and so that means it is time for Five Minute Friday.  This week?  The prompt is loud. 

*  *  *
In recent years, the thoughts in my head were loud.  The ones that said, "I wonder what they'll think."  I don't know if I should do that, what would people say?  

But thanks to recent events, I am not nearly as worried about that any more.  And when I start to go down that road?  I remind myself (again) that I have surrendered (again).

There are still things I keep to myself, and maybe just share with my husband and my mom.  Because not everything needs to be out there.  Out loud for the world to see.

But, all in all?  This feels so much better. When you are not as worried about what everyone is going to think? When you know that your decisions and thoughts and feelings are being lead by a Greater Power? There is much more confidence.  I step outside that comfort zone.

And the comfort zone becomes larger.  And I feel more free to be the true me.  The positive, upbeat, encouraging {maybe annoying?} friend.

The girl who wants to share my story, well...most of it.  That hopes that my story will help other people, because hopefully by writing, I will be ministering.

*  *  *


Bucket List Action: Loch Lomond, Scotland

It is an interesting life, being an expat.  

You are in a foreign country, surrounded by new people, new scenery, new customs {yes, even in Scotland}.  But at the same time you are living your regular life.  Husband goes off to work, diapers to change, laundry to do. 

But in this life {and really any life} there is so much to be thankful for. 
Like a weekend trip to do some "sightseeing". 
This past weekend, we made a trip to Loch Lomond, about an hour away from our home, through many windy and narrow Scottish roads. 

We started out the weekend at the aquarium. Obviously.  
And I was taken aback by how quickly she is growing up.  Thankful that I get to spend each day watching her develop bit by bit.
 The aquarium had an observation deck on their top floor.  So here are J#1 & J#3, doing just that.
We made our way to the hotel and found the kiddo's room.  Cute, right?  Only J#3 got to use it though.
And after a bit of a rest, we headed to find our way to dinner.  The plan was to find a playground that had looked on the map like it was on the way to the restaurant.

It wasn't.

But we found other ways to amuse ourselves.

Daddy tried showing J#3 how to skip rocks.  This would be J#3's attempt....

And Daddy's.
This is when I am thankful for his experience {and a great photo opp}. 

And this one?  Adventurous and stubborn.  Oh boy girl.  Quite the combination, isn't it?

* * *

On Sunday we headed into the nearby town and got ready to board our "cruise", which involved some hanging 'round the dock first. 

Sister and brother doing a bit of discovering.

And then it was on to the boat.  Evidently three & one year olds aren't so into the scenery?  Although J#3 did make friends with the couple sitting in the booth behind us.

Here is J#4 before her minor meltdown that led into her falling asleep in my arms holding her shortbread cookie as a "teddy".  Seriously, I tried taking it out of her hand? And she woke up and cried.
Goofy.  But cute. 

And here are the money shots.  

Our hotel, from the lake Loch.

So thankful for these out of the ordinary experiences that are blending into our ordinary lives.

*  *  *

a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut

The Fontenot Four


Challenge Wednesday #25

My future blog roommate, Tracey from Control the Chaos is here this week, so I am going to let her take it from here... 

#  #  #
A couple weeks ago, Jen asked me this question:
What did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you doing that...or did things change and take you down a different road?  

that's me, rockstar
Sometimes I like to look back on my life and trace how I got to where I am today. Sometimes the journey seems almost circular, sometimes long and hard. And yet I nearly always see the influences that shaped my decisions and led me down certain paths.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. I have always been fascinated with the inner workings of the human body: how the different systems seamlessly work together to keep us breathing and moving every single day.

And then someone told me I couldn't. Because I am a girl.

And I believed him.

Dude. Why did I believe him?

So I went to college and got myself a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in occupational therapy. That was enough for me; I still got to dissect a cadaver. But even then I had planned to go into orthopedics and hand therapy. And then we moved to Hawaii and through a long set of circumstances I ended up in pediatrics. And I've never looked back.

Now I realize it was a blessing and part of a Bigger Plan, because I couldn't imagine that kind of life now. I love having time for my family and following other passions, and I don't think I would have as much freedom if I hadn't chosen the career path I did. When my husband decided he wanted to become a pilot, I was easily able to pick up and follow him literally all over the globe and still maintain a career. Some places we only lived for 6-8 months, and even then I easily found work, because my field is always in demand, and although it is a technical degree, the area of occupational therapy is so broad that I have nearly limitless opportunities for settings where I can work. 
I sometimes consider going back to school and becoming a physician's assistant, which would allow me to do doctor-y stuff without all the school or hassle. But then I think about how I am already doing something I enjoy, and (I feel old saying this) I've been working in it long enough that I am considered an expert in my field. And time and again my crunchy self has aided my professional self, because I have a lot of knowledge about alternative diets and medicines, and that knowledge is proving useful with some of my wee clients.

The path is often not direct, but the journey usually matters more. I'm happy with my path and my journey, and I don't think I would change a thing.
The biggest question is, though, is your path taking you where you want to go? Or are you just enjoying the ride and not worrying about the destination?
Thanks, Jen, for encouraging me to write my story. I would normally give you another challenge or question for next week, but instead we are going to do something slightly different. With upcoming launch of our new website, Intend to Live, we are instead going to trade blogs and share what this new partnership means to us, how it came about, and what we hope for the future. It will be great fun.


What is this "game on" all about?

We have made it thru TWO rounds of Game On.

Fifteen people have found a way to navigate thru the game, lose weight and change their lives all at the same time.  They've been in the Netherlands, Minnesota, Miami and Scotland {that's me.  hehe}.

And I just wanted to remind ya'll what is involved.  In case you are interested in joining us. Because I want you to!

If you have ever wanted to get SERIOUS about losing weight and living healthier?  This is the way to do it.  Being part of a team, and having someone else depend on your success?  Great incentive to keep on the right track.

Even if you don't have weight to lose {lucky ducks}, you can STILL play.  I'll tell you how in a bit.
* * *

Just a BIT of a warning.  This is going to be a LONG post.  But you will want to stick around and check it ALL out.    

Trust me, you do.

* * * 
This whole game is based on THIS BOOK.

But, we {my friend Sonja and I...who baked up this idea back in the day} have wanted to make sure that people could succeed, and the diet they suggest in the book?  Tough stuff.  Similar to South Beach, which can be a drastic change for folks.

And so we decided to be nice {honestly, the niceness comes pretty naturally for us}, and adjusted the rules a bit. And after two rounds of people taking part in the game with our adapted rules? We have had success.

* * *

SO here is the low down, starting first with the points that you can GAIN each week:

#1. Meals/Food (a person can get up to 30 points/day in this category):
In the book, they detail a listing of "flabby" foods {to not be eaten} and FYT {Flatten your tummy} foods.  But they also say on their web-site {http://thegameondiet.com/} that you can follow Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or any other diet as well.  So, friends, that is up to you.

Now that we have been doing this, people have used Weight Watchers, sparkpeople.com, Vitashakes, the Game On diet, and more.   And I believe everyone has lost weight.  So there.  

#2. Exercise (20 points/day): 
Pretty simple.  You exercise at least 20 minutes a day {breaking a sweat}, you get 20 points. You don't exercise? You don't get the points. You exercise 10 minutes a day? You don't get the points. It's 20 minutes people. We CAN do this.

TIME OUT:  Stick through to the end.  I have good news for you.  Really good news.

#3. Sleep (15 points/day):
Participants must sleep at least seven hours each night.  You do that, you get 15 points.  Easy, right?
And for all the mommas out there saying "but my baby won't let me sleep for seven straight hours!", this rule means you INTEND to sleep seven hours.  So, if you know the sweet joy {a.k.a. your baby} is going to wak up at 6 a.m.?  Go to sleep by 11 p.m.  If she {or he} wakes up during the night interrupting your sleep?  That's alright, you still get the points. 

#4. Water (10 points/day): 
Go find that water jug.  Go.  I'll wait here.
Alright.  You need to drink 3 liters per day.  That is 101 ounces.  12 cups.  This WILL take some getting used to {it is often the hardest part of the game for folks}, but you WILL get used to it and your body will adapt.

#5. New Habit (10 points/day):
Pick a good, healthy habit to start doing.  And do it.  Ideas include organizing, journaling, reading devotions, spending more one on one and focused time with your kids.
My next good habit is may have something to do with writing.  Like committing myself to write for 30 minutes per day.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I have lists of good & old (bad) habits to choose from. 

#6. Old Habit (10 points/day): 
Pick an old, bad habit {not like nuns wear} and STOP doing it.  Something like checking Facebook every single hour of the day? Or playing Angry Birds like its your job?  Yup, one of those might just be mine.  

#7. Communication (5 points): 
In order to get these dandy 5 points, you need to be in communication with at least one of your teammates and one of your opponents once a day. We make this pretty darn easy.  This last round we have a completely private Facebook group, where you can easily communicate with opponents and your teammate alike.

It is supposed to involve trash talking.  But we aren't so good at the trash talking.  So, it ends up being a huge spot for encouragement and accountability.

THE GOOD NEWS?  You get a day off!!!  More about that at the end...the very end.

Hehe.  See how I did that? I even snuck a pic of my boy in here.  Looks like he is lounging, taking some time off, right? 

Alright, so here are the penalties.

It's a game people.  There have to be penalties {I guess}.

#1.  Scale Penalty (Deduct 1 point per penalty):  If you weigh yourself more than once a day?  Take off a point for each time.

#2.  Snacking Penalty (Deduct 10 points per penalty): You get five meals.  Don't eat at other times of the day.  Like when you are sitting in front of the t.v. at night watching The Bachelor {oh, that's just me...when I am in the States?}, don't be chomping on potato chips.  If you end up doing Weight Watchers, consider a 1-4 point overage a snacking penalty.

#3. Collusion Penalty (Deduct 20 points per penalty): Be honest.  Don't try to convince a teammate or opponent to cheat with you.   Just don't do it.  It isn't fair.  Nope, not a bit.  If you do it?  Take off 20 points.

#4. Alcohol Penalty (Deduct 25 points per penalty): Other than your day off or your meal off, if you have alcohol?  25 points deducted.  Each time you imbibe.

#5. Change your Habit:  See #s 6 and 7 above?  Change them?  Deduct 50 points.  So make sure they are good ones.  :-)

You get bonus points for: 

**Reaching your fitness/weight loss goal (1% of your starting weight that week):  20% of total points earned.   This is where those lucky ducks that DON'T need to lose weight come in.  You can set a fitness goal {something like running 25 miles in a week...wowza}, and if you reach that goal you get the 20% bonus as well. 
**Reporting your score to your team scorekeeper on time (10 points).  Easy peasy.

ALRIGHT, so this is the good news you have been waiting for....

DAY OFF!  Yup, you get one.  Do what you want with the day.  Want a glass of wine {or two}?  Drink it.  Tired of exercising?  Take a break.  Even the habits...this is your day off, enjoy it.  Plus, you also get a MEAL OFF.  So if you are following the book's diet, you can indulge in your favorite carbs, etc.  and not worry about the points. And you get to indulge in a serving of alcohol.  Got it?  

The length of the game?  
Four weeks.  Doable, right? {starting Monday, March 26}
The cost?  $40 USD {payable on paypal}

Oh...the prize.  Cash.  Cold, hard cash{well, via the internet}. Upwards of $100 or more, depending on the # of people playing.

So, now that I am done with the LONGEST post ever.
Are you in?
Did I scare you away?  
Any questions?  

Let me know in the comment section. 

Now?  I'm off to take a nap.  Ha. Haha.

Day 59 {numbers lie}

Numbers HAVE to lie, don't they?

I bought this shirt last summer, when I was at my lowest weight, and we had made a visit back to Minnesota {gotta love outlet malls.  and shopping trips with best girlfriends.}.
Shirt: Coldwater Creek Outlet {and I am a WEE bit crazy for wearing a white shirt with a 1 and 3 year old}
 Necklace: wedding present from my husband, Bracelet: old as dirt, maybe probably Target, 
Watch: Fossil via Macy's, Jeans: H&M, Earrings: Tesco

I finally feel comfortable wearing it, but I haven't YET gotten past that lowest weight from the summer.

Explain that.

Numbers lie.

But I guess these numbers don't lie...

Weight check-in:
Starting weight (this week): 199
Goal weight for week (1%): 197
End weight:  198.4

Total weight loss (since start):  16.4 pounds 

Only .6 lbs this week.  Who knows the reason, could vary from being a woman to not taking a day off.  So, I did that this weekend, and took Sunday off.  {And yes.  I did have a frankfurter.  And yes.  I know how bad those probably are for me, but once in a long while?  I think that's alright.}  But anyways, we'll see what happens on the scale.  

Let me be honest {alright, I always am, but here it is going to get sort of negative real for a minute or two}.    I am most definitely to a point in this journey where I am ready to be done.  Done counting points, done waking up early every day to exercise.  Done making myself accountable.  

Which has happened every single OTHER time I have been on this journey.  And I gave into "those voices".  This time I can't do it, and I won't.  

I even considered taking a break and NOT joining in the competition for our next round.  We have friends visiting from the U.S. at the end of the next round, and I thought it would just be TOO hard to be on the "game" when they were here.  But you know what? If I am going to be serious about this, and make a major life change, I need to be able to do it under any circumstances.  

We start a new round of "Game On" this coming Monday.  Are you in?  

So far 15 people have taken the challenge and changed their lives for the better.  You might not believe me, but just about everyone who has taken part?  Has been happy they did it.  And EVERY person has lost weight.  

Later today I'll plan on posting the rules of the game again, in case you are thinking about joining us.  Come on friends, family, readers...I dare you!  

* * * 
pleated poppy

Momma Go Round



It happened one night...

It happened one September evening...two American girls in the Netherlands went out for a fabulous dinner and a chance to catch up before one of them moved to another country.  They talked about a wish to stay close and grow their friendship, even though they would physically be distant.
They both have a passion for blogging; and through blogging, hopefully helping people to live a more natural, simple life.  To live life in the moment.  AND they both also have goals that they want to accomplish that take time.

And the light bulb went off.
* * *

Last Thursday, I hinted at a change that is going to be taking place.

No, I'm not moving again {for all of those MN friends that expect that to be the sentence following anything about "change"}.

But I am making a change that is going to allow more time for me to make progress on some of my ways to be brave {like writing a book and continuing on my healthy life journey}.

Tracey and I are joining forces.  Coming to a computer near you April 1st, will be our new blogging home:  Intend to Live.

Because isn't that what we all want to do?

* * * 

Here's how I see it.

Tracey: Has run a marathon.
Me: Starting Couch to 5K over again.

Tracey: Mom to 3 kids, the youngest being just about 3.
Me: Mom to 2 kids, the oldest being 3.

Tracey: Has been serving and eating natural and healthy foods for a few years.
Me: Has all of the equipment to bake my own bread, but haven't used it yet.

Tracey: Has had a container garden for a while too.
Me: This is my FIRST attempt at gardening:

What I'm trying to say...she has A LOT to offer.  And you'll STILL get my updates on living healthier, making my way around Scotland and completing items on my bucket list.

What could be better than that?  Keep following along here as we give you more details.  I can't wait for you to see what we are cooking up!

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