Saturday, May 31, 2008

Finding "ME" time

As always, I got up early today hoping to just be in the moment of the morning. That never seems to work for me, do my kids have a "mom's up" alarm? One kid was going to a school concert at the amusement park in which he will be participating, the other got up just because I was and the baby, well, babies never really sleep in. I had to devise a plan so I could refocus, get a workout and accomplish something all in one. Hey the lawn needs a clippin'.

I armed myself with my daughters iPod Nano, comfy shoes and went for a long walk...up and down my back yard. Yes I was cutting my grass with my push mower because my really smart hubby thought it would be cheaper than a self propelled mower. I'm thinking he didn't think he would be using it much since we do have 2 teen age kids in the house. He was wrong.'s a good thing our yard is pretty flat and not too big.

Although I was listening to young teen music, hip-hop, country, etc. and working hard to put the mower into a forward motion, I have to say that I did enjoy my time with "me." During this time I learned:

*that my daughter listens to really nice music,
*that I don't have to go in a straight line because in the end it really doesn't matter,
*that turning a mower in tight corners is a real pain,
*that even though it was loud, I was able to get lost in my own thoughts,
*that if I can't find a little peace in the quietness of my own home, I can definitely find peace in the noise of an iPod and my mower.

Apparently, while I was out there, three of my kids and my husband attempted to get my attention and ask me questions. I never heard a thing so they left me alone. It was a great 45 minute break for me and an awesome workout too.

Now I have the energy to dedicate to the kids and I wont feel guilty about spending the rest of the day lounging around with the family.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fun online blog writing course

Many friends and family members have been asking me about my blogging adventures since I first introduced them to my spinning world online.

I always wanted to blog, I have a lot of things to talk about and things to share, but I had no idea how to get started. I could see by reading other blogs that I had to have an about me page and my first post had to be one that would drive people to my blog, etc. What I didn't know was that I also needed to pay attention to a million other little details to make my blog more successful.

I admit, I am my worst critic. Still today I question what I write about and whether or not anyone would be interested. It is nice to see visitors stopping by and leaving comments. However, I have to say that without taking a blog writing course and the help of the formerly known Black Belt Blogger I don't think I would be where I am today with my blog. The Blog Writing Course is an excellent way to get started if you have never blogged or to improve your skills and your readership if you are a vet blogger.

The course is online, interactive, and fun with a lot of personal attention given to each student. There are many courses out there, I'm sure, but I recommend the one that will put your name on the web map and make you feel proud of your accomplishments from day one.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

10 Smart Moves to Save on Gas

I read this article (I would link to the site but it's my bank and obviously I don't need to be making things that easy for any malicious wrong doer) and I thought it would only be fair to share. We have two big vehicles and when we bought them (to fit our family of 6) gas prices were around $1.30-$1.50 per gallon. Needless to say, things have changed a little but our cars are both paid off and still fit the entire family in one vehicle, besides, we really don't have the means to go out and buy new cars, as much as we may want to. So besides driving less, combining store trips and appointments, here are the tips I found useful and practical. If you have some of your own, please share.

Gas prices hit record highs in April and, at $3.50 or more per gallon, you may be tempted to trade your car in for a scooter — or resort to pedaling your way to work.

Before you make any drastic financial and lifestyle sacrifice, consider these tips from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and Looking for cheap gas? Check out or to find the best prices in your area.

1. Slow down.
No matter what kind of car or truck you drive, gas mileage drops dramatically at speeds over 60 mph. As a general rule, every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 20 cents per gallon of gas.

2. Be gentle.
Avoid jack-rabbit starts and sudden stops, which can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and by 5% around town, according to the Energy Department.

3. Lighten your load.
Try not to keep unnecessary items in your car, especially heavy ones. Each 100 pounds of extra weight can reduce fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%.

4. Scout out cheap gas. recommends avoiding gas stations in affluent areas and near major freeway exits. In major metropolitan areas, outlying suburbs tend to have the lowest gas prices, according to the web site. If you're not in a hurry when you're traveling, suggests driving a few blocks from the freeway exit to find cheaper gas prices. But look out for service stations with on-site auto repair shops. reports they often charge more for gas.

5. Skip traditional gas stations.
Check out wholesale clubs, grocery stores or department stores with gas stations on site. says these businesses often sell gas at discounted prices to entice people into their stores and may offer credit for in-store purchases when you fill up with gas.

6. Keep your car in shape.
Worn spark plugs, low transmission fluid and dragging brakes can suck your gas tank dry. Check your owner's manual for recommended maintenance schedules and get regular engine tuneups. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.

7. Avoid idling.
A gas-powered car at idle gets zero miles per gallon. If you're not in traffic, but expect to wait longer than one minute, consider turning off your vehicle. Idling burns more gas than restarting the engine. Also, look into hybrid cars which can run on battery power when idling.

8. Don't neglect your tires.
Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure you have them aligned periodically. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Plus, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

9. Purify the air.
Replacing dirty air filters can increase gas mileage by up to 10% while also keeping impurities from damaging your car's engine.

10. Choose the right oil.
All oils are not created equal — and that's especially true when it comes to engine oil. Using only the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil cited in your owner's manual can improve your fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%.

#7 would have to be my biggest pet peeve. I know there are times when you have to idle, like when the baby is in the car and it's 100 degrees or minus zero, etc. But there are times when idling is completely unnecessary. I see it a lot while parents are waiting for their kids at school at the bus stop, they'll Idle for 10-15 minutes at a time. Crazy!!

When are we moving, where are going?

It is truly amazing how much we get in the habit of moving every 2 years that before the time is up we start to ask those questions again. We have been stationed in South Carolina, Mississippi, Hawaii, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and we hit Virginia twice. This last time we were fortunate enough to stay in one place four years, giving my older son the privilege of attending the same high school. This is a blessing on so many levels because he was able to realize his goal, what he wants to do, he was introduced to very influential people who have helped him to developed into the great, talented young man he is today.

However, the kids know that we are moving and it's inevitable so the questions are coming in waves, mostly from my 14 year old. She wants to visit Europe almost as bad as I do and daddy said he would try his best but no promises. We wont know until later in the summer where we will be moving to next year so we sit and wait and hope I guess. Regardless of how we felt about moving each time, you know leaving good friends and fear of the unknown, new schools, new cultures, etc., we have always made great friends and great memories. I'm sure this next time will be more of the same good stuff.

We are excited to get the news so we can start planning and preparing. For now we have to do as much as we can with our friends and build many more happy memories. Someday I'll find that time to make scrapbooks or online journals to display our 20++ year long adventure.

Going to the gym now!! Ciao!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not a high energy day

Yesterday I made the mistake of taking Zyrtec to get some allergy relief. I mean I was desperate. My eyes and throat were itchy, I just felt miserable and could not stop sneezing. Why a mistake? Well because although the effects kicked in right away, the drowsiness didn't come into play until this morning, when I had to get up. I felt like I was up all night drinking (no I wasn't, not even a glass of wine) but let me tell you, I sure was whining this morning.

Photo by bherman

I am so jealous of this cat!

On top of feeling cruddy, I had to go to the gym to teach a spinning class. That requires a lot of energy and at least at some level, mental alertness. I figured I would drink some coffee, tea, a high B vitamin sports drink. I ate some carbs too which helped only to make me fill too full and the calories were very temporary. By midday I was beat and ready for a nap. Of course this would all happen on the day of the week g6 has a 1/2 day so napping was out of the question.

Needless to say, there was no "early morning peace" for me today. Instead I was jittery because of the extra caffeine and feeling bloated because of the bagel and toast I ate instead of my usual healthy breakfast.

Class went well and I did get my adrenaline rush kick in time to give and get an excellent workout. However, for those of you who don't know it or realize it, nothing sabotages a healthy eating and exercise plan like being tired, whatever the reason. Next time I think I'll fight my urges for quick energy a little harder and try to avoid those nasty pitfalls.

I think I'll take that little pill much, much earlier in the day so that I'm most tired at night and not in the morning. I don't ever want to give up my early morning peace again. I need it for mental sanity, plus it sets the rest of my day on the right track.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back to school but not for long

I realized this morning as I was seriously enjoying my early morning time alone, that there are 3 weeks left before school lets out. This is good and bad. I always look forward to having the kids home and not getting up so early, eating breakfast together, doing stuff around town, etc. But then for some reason the younger kids never do sleep in when they should. It seems like on the days they don't have school, they get up earlier. It's a pattern I've learn to accept. My teens on the other hand would sleep until noon if I let them, and I do sometimes.

Flor (my mother in law) asked me what we had planned for vacation. I always feel a little awkward answering this because I think she thinks we should do something. Apparently it is an American tradition to plan a vacation away from home during the summer months. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, where I was born, when school let out for the summer simply meant that the kids would play all day outdoors, eat fruit ripened on the tree, make home-made helado (like italian ice),go down to the river for the day, hang out with the neighborhood kids and come home before the sun goes down. There were no major trips planned, no money sucking adventures to go to, just a simple summer. We did occasionally go to the beach, which for us was about 3 hours of away. We also visited family members who lived a little further away but that was it.

We have gone a few summer vacations, the American way, summer house rented by Flor and Dulce and another time we rented a Condo in Florida and it was fun, I will admit to that. Although I felt like I needed a vacation after my vacation. I don't ever feel the need to begin planning a week-long summer trip. I just take each day as it comes and if I see an opportunity for us to go do something fun and we have to spend a couple of days there then we go, if not, we're not too far from the beach, 2 major rivers each with a beach area as well and a few amusement parks.

Then there's our back yard. it's not huge and it's not fenced in but we have great neighbors and a lot of kids in the area. So this summer I plan to turn on the water sprinkler, fill up the water balloons, fill up a kiddy pool, and enjoy the outdoors right here, where it's free, fun and full of smiles.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A perfect morning

Today is Monday, Memorial Day to be exact. I got up early, as always, to take full advantage of my morning before the chaos begins. It was absolutely glorious to sit out back with my coffee, my laptop and nature's elements-wind, birds chirping, flowers blooming, and my chime making comforting sounds of joy. I truly enjoyed this time alone and gave me the strength, vitality, patience, and endurance to take on the day.

I know it's hard for people to make time and sometimes, hard as we try, we can't do this every day which in a way is truly OK because on the days that we do spend time alone we can really appreciate and enjoy every single minute.

I generally advice people around me to find a few minutes for themselves, a little time each day to refocus, set some goals, write some lists to stay on top of all the little to-do's that tend to clog up our thoughts--I need to follow my own advice more often because it really is so amazing how much we get done when we take time to do nothing at all.

I have my schedule for the week, my to do list for tomorrow and a potential menu to get me started. I hope everyone takes a few minutes to take back the control we so easily give up to our families. I know on this early morning peace I found in my back yard, I have!

What do you do to stay in control and find peace in your busy life?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Time to clean house

There's nothing like knowing that company is coming to get me cleaning and decluttering parts of the house they will never see. It's pretty amazing how quickly I get through these clogged up areas in my house. There are times when I wish I was a neat freak...hmmm poor choice in words, just wish I was one of those people who can get things super organized and never have to worry about someone accidentally opening a closet door or dropping by unannounced.

I am clean and somewhat organized, don't get me wrong, but my family seems to think that things don't ever need to go back to where they were and since there are six of us, chaos is pretty much instant. I recently took my two teens dressers out of their room because they were not using them. They pretty much live out of their laundry basket. Again, they too, are clean and wear clean clothes but the clothes never make it to the dressers and I was beginning to loose my mind. To ease that problem I gave them extra baskets and they actually like it that way. Fine! Fine! I just don't want to see it on the floor, all over the room or under the bed. So far so good! It's just my way to choose my battles, besides who ever said your clothes had to go in drawers?

So back to my crazy cleaning. My mom in law, I named her Flor which means flower in Spanish because she loves gardening and her sister whom I call Dulce which means sweet because she is, are coming to visit for the weekend. Flor and Dulce come about every 2 months and it is the best thing. Now they are not judgmental nor do they ever comment on my clutter, cleanliness or my kids disastrous rooms, but I tell myself that I must have this done before they get here so that I can relax and so that's what I do.

I spent last week doing laundry, more than usual because I had to wash sheets, towels and comforters, shampoo rugs, vacuum under the furniture and clean window sills and windows and every horizontal surface in the house. Are you exhausted yet? Well I didn't get to everything but I did most of what I wanted and that's OK. I guess I always look forward to the nice words they say when they first come in--"Terie your house smells so nice" and "This place is always so tidy, I don't know how you do it." One of my favorite comments from Flor this weekend was "wow, look at your garden, it looks so lovely. You have done such a great job at keeping the weeds out, where do you find the time?" I guess I thrive on everyone thinking I'm superwoman. It feels good to get positive feedback on the things you work so hard to achieve.

I think many of you moms would agree that sometimes all that we do, day in and day out, becomes so routine that even our own family members forget to say thank you for dinner or thank you for switching my laundry or thank you for changing my bed sheets. A few simple words of gratitude, that's all.

Once the family arrives it's really no big deal to me that the family room is again filled with toys, books, newspapers, and Wii controllers because they see the progression of how things do get crazy sometimes and it's OK.

When no one is coming to visit we take care of the day to day living activities and easily forget to clear some clutter that's been stacking up somewhere else. I am thankful that I'm not a super organized person because that would mean that I would spend a lot of time organizing and picking up after others or ordering others to pick up instead of just enjoying my family. I'll worry about the toys, the books and the dirty laundry that once again landed on the floor some other time.

For now, I'll just take in m y early morning peace because soon, they will all be up and my house will be a home once again!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In the beginning

Funny thing is that I spent well over two hours trying to create this journal of my life following a military man, four kids, going to school and still trying to maintain some sanity and some semblance of who I am. I have to admit that I am technologically challenged and quite frankly, I don't have the time to read all the tips and helpful advice the programs provide. I have to learn the hard way I guess.

I have a million and one things to talk about and none are really clicking right now so maybe if I list them out, later I'll make more sense. So here it goes:

The kids-- boyTeen (bT), girlTeen (gT), girl6 (g6), and baby boy (BB)--all active, creative, artistic, fun, playful, helpful, loving--those are the good qualities. The bad, well, two of them are in their teens--does that help? One is a needy, tumbling toddler and the other is sort of stuck in the middle.

Daddy is a US Navy guy who loves to spend time with his tools in the garage. The good thing is that he usually produces some piece of furniture he knows I'll love, therefore, no complaints here.

As for me, I'm a wife, mother, an online college student, a fitness trainer, and an much to do, so little time. I wish I could just snap my fingers and be where I think I want to be in 10 years, but then I would have nothing to talk about, there would be no journey. So I am excited to share with other moms, military families, fitness gurus, gardeners, adults going to school--again, and anyone in between, my journey, my daily adventures, my ups and downs, all with a little humor and a lot of real life events.

I go to bed each night knowing that tomorrow I will experience my early morning peace, one more time.