I’m wrestling with what to do for Lent this year. I have been reading some articles and looking for inspiration. I like the idea of a three-pronged approach: fasting, praying, and giving. And I’ll be honest, it’s the fasting with which I’m having a hard time. A couple of years ago I gave up alcohol. Last year I gave up meat for all of Lent. My son thinks I should give up Diet Coke. All of those would definitely provide regular reminders that we are in a season of preparation and contemplation. But none of those is ringing true for me this year.
I read something yesterday that put my thoughts perfectly: “Are those meaningful things to give up for Lent; or just random things you’re challenging yourself to live without?”
Because that’s the goal, isn’t it? Not just to set up a personal challenge but to do something that carries meaning. With that in mind, here are my Lenten obligations:
Fast, Pray, Give
Fast: Give up technology each night. Starting at 5pm, I’ll turn off the laptop, put aside the cell phone and resist the urge to check in on my ipad. Hopefully, I’ll use that extra tech-free time to play a few family games, read a book or simply focus on something that isn’t on a screen.
Pray: Daily Lenten readings & devotions
Give: Clean out everyone’s closet at some point in the next 40 days. Donate what can be donated and dispose of the rest.
I’m feeling pretty good about these Lenten choices. Hopefully each will result in a clearer focus and stronger sense of priorities. Wouldn’t it be nice if I left Lent not just craving sweets but settled into some new, positive habits?
It’s wrestling season again. A time of year my son starts asking about as soon as fall baseball is done. Months of asking when wrestling starts. Months.
We’ve known for a couple years now that he loves wrestling. I’m still coming to terms with it (after all it is a full contact and fairly violent sport), but when your kid loves something you learn to do just that. He’s had the opportunity to workout with the middle school club team this winter. He’s only nine but he’s big enough to wrestle with them. However, thanks to their years of extra experience, he’s spent a good month getting his ass kicked twice a week at practice. He’s had remarkably good spirits about it because he has been learning more than ever before. (And if that doesn’t show how much he loves this sport, I don’t know what does.)
We registered him for his first regional tournament this winter too. It was a learning experience for all of us. 300 wrestlers… 8 matches going on at all times… it took us about 5 seconds into his first match to realize that we were in over our heads. It was a rough day. (a very rough day) But even that didn’t seem to get his spirits down.
And now we’re into the short age group wrestling season (it lasts five weeks). This year he moved up into the “serious” division of youth wrestling. They keep score. There’s an end of season tournament. By and large it’s better wrestling – though you still have the boys who look shell-shocked when they come up against the kid who eats & breathes this stuff. He’s had two matches and he’s done well. Yes, winning is fun (particularly in wrestling… trust me it’s not fun AT ALL to watch your kid get smeared on the mat) but what’s fun for me is watching him put new skills to use. He’s learned a lot more than I realized in the past month.
Once again I’m reminded that wrestling is more than just moves that make me wince in sympathetic pain. Wrestling is probing for weakness and taking advantage of opportunities. There’s a definite mental game on the mat. Now if I could just figure out a way to watch the match without clenching my fists, tensing my entire body as I lean forward and holding my breath…
Let’s just say it’s a lot easier for me to watch a swim meet or a band competition.
Yes, I’m mashing together two memes today to bring you the first recipe I ever posted on this blog nearly five years ago. It’s still something that is made in this house every few weeks and it’s as tasty as ever:
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.
2-3 ripe bananas
First, mash 2-3 bananas
Then if you’re lucky enough to have a stand mixer, get this started (if you don’t have a stand mixer, you’ll probably want to measure & get everything out before you start mixing):
2/3 cup sugar
6 TB butter, softened
3/4 tsp lemon peel
While that’s mixing – lightly mix together (I toss it all in one 2 cup measuring cup to minimize the clean up)
1.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
Your butter & sugar should be creamy now so go ahead and add 1 egg and the mashed bananas. Once it’s all mixed together add the dry ingredients in about 3 parts, beating until smooth between each.
Take it off the mixer and stir in approx 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 52 minutes. YUM!
You prefer muffins you say? Here’s the recipe adapted for Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.
March is just around the corner and while I’ve looked at a race or two, I’ve yet to commit to anything I want to do. I’m sure I’ll come up with some sort of race-related challenge for myself and I figure I’ll know it when I see it. In preparation for that coming epiphany (maybe I’ll find something next week… maybe in April… ), I’ve decided to ramp up my non-training training plan.
I’ve been coasting a bit through these cold winter weeks. Getting in some good workouts. Staying active 5-6 times a week but I wouldn’t say that I’ve been pushing too hard most days. It’s time to change that. I want to make sure that I’m in shape and ready to jump into whatever race or challenge sounds appealing. I’m going to try to ramp up my running a bit. Put some stronger effort into my cross training. Keep hitting the bike and the pool at least once a week. I don’t want to impose any sort of weekly mileage targets or follow a spreadsheet for goodness sake. I do, however, want to stick with the variety that my body and mind love and I’m ready for it to hurt a little bit now and then.
And if I share my plan with people (if anyone still reads my semi-occasional ramblings) then I feel more accountable. So here it is, the official
Non-Race Training Plan
- Monday: Steady pace run for 3-4 miles.
- Tuesday: Running workout. This could mean speed work, hill repeats, or a workout on the treadmill that varies pace, incline & includes some weight training in the middle. The goal is to push the running a little harder – not worried about mileage totals, just workout intensity.
- Wednesday: Hot vinyasa yoga. This workout doesn’t mess around and for at least the next month (until my pre-purchased classes run out) I intend to stick with this as an excellent mid-week cross training session that leaves me shaky, sweaty & tired each and every time.
- Thursday: Swim! I’m back to looking at my tri training workouts. Mixing in some drills and even endurance swims.
- Friday: 60 minute Friday. That might be 60 minutes of running. Or 60 minutes of fast walking with a friend. Or 60 minutes on the bike. Or 30 biking followed by 30 running. You get the idea.
- Saturday: Run or bike – kind of depends on what I did Friday. No predetermined distance or time. I will do whatever the day allows and whatever my body feels like doing.
- Sunday: Rest. And if I’m lucky, read a book.
Lots of variety. Plenty of opportunities for intensity. And I think it will get me in race-ready shape… or at least race-training ready shape. I had a couple of hard workouts last week and realized that I missed that effort and that special tired muscle feeling at the end of the day. I’m ready to push.
Once upon a time (March of 2009 to be exact), I started reading aloud to my children at the breakfast table. We’ve read some great books together – The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Tales of Winnie the Pooh, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and many more. We were just looking at our past Breakfast Book selections (click on the category drop down list on the right sidebar and select Breakfast Books to see all our posts) and soon we may re-read a few of the ones that J doesn’t remember. He is also interested in reading some of those on his own now which is exciting for his book-loving mother to hear.
Over the years the kids have aged out of my breakfast table because school starts earlier and earlier. When we started, all three kids were present and listening. For the past few years it’s just been me & the boy. (And I’m guessing I only have another year or two with him before he tells me to knock it off.) Since it’s just the two of us, I’ve been able to pick some books that his sisters have read but that he’s not quite ready to read on his own. And that’s what we’ve been doing since I last posted about Breakfast Books back in the fall of 2012. We’ve been reading the Harry Potter series.
It took us 16 months to get through all seven books. They have been some of my favorite mornings ever (and a few nights when J just couldn’t wait until morning to see what happened next). I have enjoyed re-reading these books just as much as I did the first time through. Having J go through this entire series consecutively has definitely strengthened his comprehension skills. And we both read some parts with tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats. It’s been a great 16 months.
In Breakfast Book post tradition, I asked J to grade the Harry Potter series. His answer: “A+ of course. For every book but my top three favorite books in order are: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (the 7th); Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire (4th); and Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (6th).”
We’ve been watching the movie for each book the weekend after we finish reading it so this weekend we’ll be watching the final Harry Potter movie. We’re both looking forward to it. I truly think this is one of the few examples where the movies live up to the books. A movie can never contain the depth and detail of a book, but these movies really bring the series to life in a wonderful way.
I asked J if he wanted to read another series of books or a single book. He said he wants a series and preferably one that is “a little above my reading level.” Up next: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. (I CAN’T WAIT.)
What is the Breakfast Book idea? I believe there’s value in reading aloud to my kids at all ages. I used to read aloud to them at night. But as they get older their bedtimes get staggered, practices and homework start happening and sitting down together to read to all of them at once wasn’t happening. I decided to try reading a chapter to them all during breakfast and it has been a big success in many ways. Want to see all our book selections so far? Click on the Breakfast Book category on the right side of this page.