A Grandfather’s Legacy

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Everyday I’m beyond thankful for my grandpa McEwan, and the wisdom he passed down to me during my youth. He was an amazing man who lived through the Depression and served in World War II.

My grandpa McEwan was never one to lecture, scold, or posture about anything. He always had a smile on his face and that glowing smile made you smile too. The first major life lesson he taught me is the one that has stuck out and stayed with me my whole life, and here is that story…

I was 4 years old and spending part of my summer with my grandma and grandpa McEwan in upstate New York. Everyday my grandpa and I would go for a walk to the post office and library. If I was lucky we would take a little detour into the local pharmacy and get some candy. Lucky for me my grandpa had a huge sweet tooth, so these detours would happen more often than not. However, grandma couldn’t know about them, or we would get lectured about ruining our appetite, and something about me getting hyper from all the sugar.

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One day we took a detour to the pharmacy to get candy. This time my grandpa handed me one of the bulk bags to fill with candy, rather than just picking out a few pieces. Oh man! I was in heaven when he told me to fill that bag up with my favorite candies. I’m sure my eyes had to be as big as saucers, and my heart rate went up in anticipation of all that sugar that was about to send me into the biggest sugar high of my life. I went to town filling that huge bag up with all the best candy and chocolates in the store all while contemplating how to hide the candy from grandma when we got back to the house.

After our purchase we walked, I skipped, back to my grandparents’ home. Instead of going inside, my grandpa led me to the car and told me we were going to go for a quick ride before we went into the house for lunch. He told me to bring the mammoth bag of candy with me, so I was beyond content. While we went on our quick drive, my grandpa told me a story about his time in World War II.

My grandpa was stationed in China, I don’t know what part. However, I do know it was a mountainous area, because he talked about how pretty the mountains were. He began by telling me he was stationed near an orphanage, and would always take trips to the orphanage with his translator in order to bring whatever food and little toys he could for the children. Then, he began telling me about his first Christmas spent in China, and it became a story that I would have him tell me over and over again for the rest of his life. I’ll tell it to you like he told it to me.

“Things were really hard for everyone in China during the war. There was no food, China was going through many problems of its own, and the war did not help. Sadly, many children were sent to orphanages, because their parents could no longer afford to feed them. They wore the same clothes each day, didn’t have toys like you do, and scarcely had enough to eat. For Christmas I wanted to do something extra special for them to make them smile and be happy. I sent letters home to your grandma, friends, and family. I asked them to mail me any clothing, toys, or items a child might need or like. And boy did everyone send as much as they could! So, now all I had to do was deliver these gifts to the children. Steve (my grandpa’s translator) and I decided that I should play Santa for the children on Christmas. So, Steve went out and found me a reindeer, which was a donkey, and a sled, which was a very battered cart. When I arrived and handed out the gifts, food, and clothes the children were so excited, and their smiles lasted for days to come.”

After my grandpa told me this story I had a ton of questions about all the little children in the orphanage, but I didn’t get to ask them, because we had arrived at our destination, and there were a bunch of kids running around the house we had just pulled up in front of.

My grandpa told me we were going to go visit with the family and to bring the candy with me. So, I got out of the car with the candy, and started heading with my grandpa across the yard full of children to the house. The mom and dad came out of the house to greet us. My grandpa introduced me, and the mom told me how she used to have my grandma as her teacher in high school, and my grandpa was the principal.

At this point all the children came circling around me and started eying me and my candy. I won’t lie; I hugged that bag of candy to my body like it was my very own baby I had to protect. My grandpa gave me a nudge and asked me to give them some candy. I figured this was no problem, I could give each of the children a piece of candy and have a ton of it left over for myself. So, I started handing each kid a piece of candy. Boy did their eyes light up when I did this. After giving each kid a piece of candy, my grandpa told me to give the oldest child the whole bag of candy! I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground at that point. All my precious candy was gone! I had been robbed of the greatest sugar high of all time! I turned my head to look up at my grandpa, and I was about to ask him why he wanted me to do this, but he gently took the bag from me and gave it to the oldest child. We then said our good-byes and walked back to the car to head home.

When we got into the car I asked my grandpa why we had to give them all the candy. His response was to have me look at the children in their front yard. He said, “Do you see them? Look at their smiles! They are a family without enough money to buy candy, and you get candy every day. This is a very special treat for these kids. Now, would you rather eat that candy yourself, or would you like to make multiple people smile and feel happy by giving them your candy?” I was only 4 years old, but that lesson sunk into my little brain and stayed there for life. After looking at the children smiling, and showing their parents and each other all the different candies, and realizing I helped make them happy, and gave them something special, I decided I didn’t want the candy for myself at all. I actually asked my grandpa each time I visited them if we could go take candy to the children again.

Later in life I learned that the couple who lived in that house could not have children of their own. Instead, they chose to foster children in their home.

In that lesson and many other examples my grandpa set for me as a child, I learned that if you can help someone in any way, or if you can just make them smile that you should do it, and I always have.

Sadly, I was fired from teaching at the YMCA in Minot recently for teaching free classes in another community.

I teach free classes to people in my community, which is over an hour drive from the Y in Minot. I started teaching these classes for free, because people in my community do not have the ability to join a gym over an hour away, take classes, and I needed fitness volunteer hours for some of my certifications. Once I completed my yearly volunteer hours, I kept going with the free classes. I teach them for free, because I don’t need the money, I love seeing everyone feel good about themselves after class, and hear them talking about how much fitter and stronger they feel.

I was told by my superior at the YMCA that I had to quit teaching free classes in my little town, or they would have to fire me. She explained that they saw my classes (in a town over an hour away) as competition to their classes at the YMCA. I didn’t and still don’t understand this. Especially since the YMCA is a nonprofit organization. If anything I would think they would want to help people in the community. Especially since I’m helping those in a community where there is no access to fitness.

My grandpa’s voice and teachings came right into my head as I sat there in the office being given this ultimatum. I told her that I would not quit volunteering my time and helping others. I was taught better than that from my grandpa. Plus, I really believe that in order to make the world a better place you need to be generous, kind, and helpful whenever you can.

So, I’m no longer teaching my classes at the YMCA in Minot. I’m beyond sad about this, but I’m going to keep my head up, and be proud of my morals and values.

To all my wonderful friends and regulars in class…I love ya all, and I feel like I’m abandoning you. Each one of you has become so much stronger both inside and out since the first time you wandered your way into class. As a group we have seen each other through cancer, infertility, loss of loved ones and pets, terrible horrible no good very bad days, weddings, births, and so much more. Please keep supporting each other, cheering each other on, and most of all…Keep making each other SMILE and LAUGH! Your smiles will always stay with me!

On the Menu

I find it odd that this is our last weekend in September.  We have had record breaking highs in the 90s for a few days now, and before that our highs were in the 80s.  Shouldn’t it be fall/winter and snowing by now!?!  Trust me when I say that I’m not complaining about the heat; however, the mosquito infestation that has come along with it is killing us.  I swear when I run out to grab some produce out of the garden I risk getting West Nile!  Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating on that one, but our poor furbutts get covered in mosquitos each time they go outside.

How is your fall going?  Any heat waves in the other states?

On to this weeks menu.  This week/weekend I’ve picked easy-to-put-together meals that I know my family will love.  I’ve linked each recipe title and picture to the blog/website it came from.  Happy Cooking!!

Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

Slow-Cooker-Chicken-Parmigiana-Sandwiches-Recipe[1]

New Pin!! Cat Davis at Food, Family, and Finds is a GENIOUS for coming up with this recipe.  I can’t believe we have never thought to try something like this in our home before.  When I told my husband this our dinner tonight, I swear I saw him start to drool.  I’m thinking about using one of my frozen Parmesan cheese rinds in the crock pot with the chicken to give it an extra boost in flavor and maybe dice up some mini bell peppers too.

**Recipe Changes** I added 6 chicken breasts, 1 Tbs of sugar, 1 tsp of fresh rosemary, and a rind of parmesan.  I’m thinking about adding fresh thyme next time.

Monday:  Grilled Fish on Pineapple Bark

My husband and son have been fishing nonstop, and they have brought home a ton of fish to cook up.  I love the idea of infusing pineapple flavor into the fish.  I’m going to make a glaze using soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha sauce and reduce it on the stove.  Then, you can brush the glaze on the fish once it is finished.  Check out Make the Best of Everything for this recipe and more!

Wednesday:  Rachael Ray’s Super Scampi

Super Scampi

This recipe comes out of Rachel Ray’s Look and Cook Book, and I HIGHLY recommend you add this book to your collection.  She has so many wonderful, healthy, and clean recipes for you to choose from.  Plus my son loves the recipes in the book too.  You’ll love this recipe for the fact that it only uses 1 pot to cook everything, and is easy for even the beginner cook to put together, and will feed a good amount of people.  Food Network has kindly posted this recipe on their website too, so click here to check it out.

Friday:  Grilled Thai Spice Chicken Sliders

Grilled Thai Spice Chicken Sliders with Sriracha Mayo | FamilyFreshCooking.com #FathersDay #July4th

New Pin!!  I love anything relating to Thai food, and when I found this recipe I started drooling immediately.  I’ve made several recipes from Family Fresh Cooking, so I know I will love these sliders!  I’m making Sweet Potato French Fries with Smoked Gouda and Black Beans as a side.  I’m cheating and using frozen organic sweet potato French fries for this recipe to cut back on meal prep time.

Did Someone Say TABATA?

Workout Wednesday 2

I love tabatas!  I may be in the minority with this, but I love the way my body feels after a tabata workout.  For those of you who have never done a tabata I’ll break it down for ya.  You do a specific exercise for 20 seconds, and then you take a 10 second break.  Repeat for a total of 8 times, so your whole tabata equals 4 minutes.  It is 4 minutes of sweat and you feel awesome afterwards!

Below is a tabata and strength based workout.  It is a great introduction to tabatas, since each tabata is broken up with weighted moves.  This will bring your heart rate back down, and give those lungs a chance to recover.

I taught this workout a few weeks back, and only a few swear words were thrown my way.  Winking smile

**Instructor Note**:  If you are going to teach this in one of your fitness classes, make sure you give alternatives to the burpees, mountain climbers, etc.  Also, at the very end I gave the option to just hold a plank in the last tabata.


Upper Body Tabata

Spinning Time!

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Had to share that little quote with ya.  I’m thinking I need this quote on a workout tank for the gym.  I know it would make everyone laugh.

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Thought I would share the outcome of yesterdays ravioli lasagna with ya.  It was delish!  This recipe is a definite in the “make-again” department.  Plus it was fast and easy to put together.  I’m thinking about switching out the chicken sausage next time with garlic roasted chicken breasts that I can shred up.  Definitely make this recipe.  It is perfect for those days when you don’t want to come home and have to spend a ton of time cooking in the kitchen.

Just wanted to get a spinning ride out to all you enthusiasts.  I know it has been awhile, and I have been getting emails requesting new rides.

This playlist was created by my son, and he had some input on what the riders should do during each song too.  I must say that I’m pretty proud of his creation as a rider and a DJ.  My classes really enjoyed and sweated their way through this ride.  When I told him this, he asked to get paid.  Little bugger! 

W’s Creation

If We Ever Meet Again & Right Round

· Warm Up

Sweet Emotion 5:10

· Seated Climb 60-80 RPM

· 1 min Standing Climb at end…feel free to really attack this hill with some speed during the last minute

Beautiful People 3:46

· Standing Run on a Hill 80-90 RPM

Where Them Girl’s At 3:15

· Maintain Resistance from previous song

· Alt. 1 min seated 1 min standing

You Can’t Always Get What You Want 7:37

· Climb…add resistance every 2 min

· Rotate between all 3 positions every 20-30 sec

Stronger 3:23

· Sprints on Hill

Candyman 3:14

· Standing Run or Seated 100 RPM

21 Guns 5:15

· Climb 70-80 RPM

· Add resistance but maintain same cadence (seated or hover)

Jungle 3:09

· Standing climb in 3rd 60 RPM

· Do a series of attacks on your heavy hill 60-80 RPM

Thanks for the Memories 3:26

· Come down hill

On the Menu…

Well, it has been ages since I have posted a weekly menu for our family.  Sadly we have just been too busy to have a regular menu.  It seems like we are just going nonstop during the week, and my husband has an insane work schedule, so we haven’t been able to sit down for a family meal more than once a week.

Things have calmed down for this week, so I’m FINALLY getting a chance to put a menu together for the week!  I’m even trying out a few new recipes this week.  Woohoo!!  I feel like I’m being a good mom and wife this week.

I’ve planned our menu around the produce that is still coming out of our garden in abundance, and the food that came with our Bountiful Basket.  Hence, why everything seems to have a ton of veggies in it.  So, if you are looking to get a few servings of veggies in, I highly suggest trying some of these recipes too!

I should also note that there is a 90% chance that a side of roasted or grilled zucchini will be served as a side veggie for most of the meals.  Yet again, my husband insisted on planting 5 zucchini seeds, and he was oddly shocked that all 5 seeds produced 5 huge zucchini plants.  Ugh.

Each day’s recipe title is linked to the website that has the recipe, so click away!

Saturday:  Chicken, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Casserole

Chicken, Jalapeño and Cheddar Casserole

We absolutely love this recipe in our house, and it is a great way to use some of our peppers and onions we have a plethora of.  My son even gobbles this down…Well, after he picks out the jalapenos.  The only thing I did different from the recipe was to cover the top with queso cheese at the end when you add the cheese sauce you made.  It is great served over rice.  I highly recommend you check out this recipe at the KaoticKitchen’s blog.

Sunday:  Cheater’s Spinach and Ravioli Lasagna

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NEW Recipe!!  I’ve had my mind set on making this recipe for awhile now, and it is in the oven as I type this menu up.  I did make a few changes to this recipe.  Instead of sausage ravioli, I used 4 cheese ravioli, and I replaced the chorizo with sweet Italian chicken sausage.  I also topped the lasagna with fresh mozzarella and covered before putting it in the oven.  My kitchen smells heavenly Italian as I type!  Check out this recipe at Urban Country Style.

Monday:  Slow Cooker Tosca Zuppa Soup

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana (Copycat) * *

NEW Recipe!!  My wonderful friend Natalie shared this Slow Cooker Tosca Zuppa Soup recipe with me.  She swears it is the bomb, and I totally trust her opinion on anything food related, so I’m making this yummy looking soup for the first time this week.  I plan on adding shredded cooked chicken breasts in place of the bacon, and some gnocchi I found hiding in our freezer.

I’m a little upset that this weekend was the first time that I was on the GetCrocked website.  Jen’s recipes look so yummy and easy to make.  I’ve already Pinned a few more to try out.

Tuesday:  Leftovers…Something tells me we may have a few.  Smile

Wednesday:  Baked Potatoes and Chicken Skillet

Tender chicken drumsticks cooked on top of layers of thin sliced potatoes and onions make this potatoes and chicken skillet an mouthwatering, flavorful meal

NEW Recipe!!  Told ya I was finally getting to a back log of new recipes to try.

This is the day that I get to use up some of our garlic, red potatoes, and onions that have come out of our garden, and I have a ton of potatoes (so thankful they store well in a cool place).  This was our first year planting potatoes, and we had a bumper crop!  Totally planting them again next year.

On to the meal…I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course).  I’m going to finally break out my cast iron skillet that is over a foot in diameter.  Still not sure why I bought it a few years ago, but I’m gonna finally use the bugger.  I’m planning on using chicken breasts and thighs instead of the chicken legs.  We just need more meat in our house, and little chicken legs just aren’t enough sometimes.  Smile

Thursday:  Breakfast for dinner or Leftovers.  I’m leaving it up to my son and husband, since I’ll be teaching yoga during dinner time.

Friday: Seven Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Seven Vegetable Minestrone Soup | @mamamissblog #FluRemedy #veggie #healthy #soup

If you have a garden you will totally understand why I’m making this soup.  If you don’t have a garden…Make this soup anyway.  It is super healthy and yummy!  I came across this recipe last winter, and my husband fell in love with it.  I’ve made it several times, and the last time I made it I added cooked shredded chicken breasts for extra protein.  It was yummy!  Check this recipe out on Mama Miss’s blog.

Back to Basics

Workout Wednesday 2

Well, I’ve finally had some time to type up a fun basic workout for the beginner.  Lately I have been working with a group of beginners to the fitness world.  They have been enthusiastic and very motivated, and I’m beyond proud of them!

Below is a great circuit workout that will introduce you to basic plyo and weighted moves.

Complete each circuit 2-3 times before moving on to the two individual exercises, and then on to the next circuit.  Feel free to end you workout with some abdominal work!

 

Back to Basics Circuit

Birthday Ride!

This month has been a ton of fun in my spinning classes.  We have been celebrating birthdays nonstop!  I always ask my classes what music they want to hear and play their suggestions, but for birthdays I make a ride just for that person with their favorite songs.

Cannoli's

Yesterday was Lindsey’s birthday, and we celebrated!  I made my homemade cannoli’s for her and the class…Don’t worry.  We burned those calories off during the ride.  Plus you have to kick back and enjoy some goodies every now and then.  Especially when it is your birthday!

For this ride I “lightened” things up a bit.  We spent most of our time working on a light hill.  A lot of times we forget that a light hill can still really work us out, and I wanted to get back to some of the basics too.  I have the “Pop Danthology” song in the Fun Burn ride post.

Lindsey’s B-Day Ride

Footloose 3:47 & I Think We’re Alone Now 3:47

· Warm Up

Pop Danthology 8:01

· 1 min Seated Flat 80-110 RPM

· 1 min Standing Flat

Jack and Dianne 4:11

· Seated Climb 70-80 RPM

· Increase resistance every 15 sec until medium hill and continue into next song

Chocolate 3:47

· Standing Climb 60-80 RPM

· Increase resistance to heavy hill and climb

Ain’t Going Down 4:33

· 30 sec Seated Flat 80-110 RPM

· 1 min Jumps

· Repeat

Neon Lights 3:53

· Seated Climb 70-80 RPM

· Increase resistance every 15 sec for the first minute and continue into next song

Happy 3:53

· Standing Climb 70-80 RPM

· Increase resistance and power to the top of the hill

Cups 2:09

· Seated Flat/Recover

Girls Just Want to Have Fun 3:58

· 15 sec Seated Flat 80-110 RPM

· 15 sec Standing Flat

Devil Went Down to Georgia 3:36

· 30 sec Standing Flat 80-110 RPM

· 30 sec Seated Flat…Maintain your intensity/pace back in the saddle

Sweet Home Alabama 4:45

· 45 sec Standing Flat 80-110 RPM

· 45 sec Seated Flat

Whip It 2:41

· 1 min Standing Flat 80-110 RPM

· 1 min Seated Flat

· Sprint to the finish!!