Tag Archives: family

My Meal-prep Dirty Little Secret

So I can’t remember the last week that we actually ate all of the food I prepped on Sunday.  Invariably – life happens.

A teen’s event was not planned for.  A worship meeting goes long.  An opportunity to roll presents itself.  Something happens that prevents us from eating what is in the fridge and dictates that we are going to grab something from a restaurant somewhere.

Every.

          Single.

                      Week.

So when for the 3rd week in a row I was about to throw out baked sweet potatoes and chopped peppers, I decided to find a new way to utilize these staples of our week.

Enter:  Sweet Potato Bird’s Nests

These take a bit longer than I would like since the potatoes I use are already baked and take a while to crisp up like I like them but they are awesome.  I will definitely be making these regularly and for sure will do this with a sweet potato hash as well.   Video and the recipe are below.

See the Video Here

Ingredients:

  • Pre-baked sweet potato (each potato yields approximately 4 “nests”)
  • Pre-diced Red Onion
  • Pre-diced Red Pepper
  • Pre-diced Green Pepper
  • Pre-diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until onion is translucent but peppers are still crisp.img_3452
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables and mix well.                                                          img_3450
  5. Transfer a spoonful of sweet potato mixture to each muffin mold. Press the mixture up against the mold until it is approximately ¼ inch thick leaving a cavity for the egg (to be added later).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
  7. Adjust the oven to broil (still at 400 degrees)
  8. Crack one egg for every sweet potato being baked. Add egg to the cavity created by the mold.
  9. Place muffin pan back in oven. For soft yolk eggs remove after 6 minutes.  For hard yolk eggs, remove after 12 minutes.

You have probably noticed that I did not give quantities of potatoes and peppers.   Because this recipe was conceived around leftovers, whatever you have left over will determine how much to use.  You can always cut up more peppers to meet your potato supplies (like I did when I created this one).

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Lessons from a near death experience….

So Facebook was kind enough today to remind me that four years ago on this day, I was testing for my black belt in American Karate.  It was a night that I do not remember and one that I will never forget.  That was the night I discovered I had an Atrial Flutter.  It was a night that started a week long hospital stay that included medically induced comas, CAT scans, EKGs and eventually a cardiac ablation (want the full story?  Read it here).

“You do realize you almost died, right?”    –     Dr. Kevin Wheelan

Even though I had just awoken from a 36 hour medically induced nap, couldn’t remember large sections of the previous 48 hours, had two black eyes and was sore everywhere – the severity of my situation did not really hit me until I heard my cardiologist reinforce those words.

The days are now few and far between when I do not think about how lucky I was to survive.  They are also few and far between that I do not think about the lessons that experience taught me.

Prioritize your health:  If I had not made a specific effort in the 18 months leading up to the test, I firmly believe I would not be here today (did you read the link above?).  The majority of the leading causes of death in America are due to preventable diseases that can be controlled/prevented through diet and exercise……so DIET AND EXERCISE!!!

Listen to your body:  If I had not been so hard headed and determined to do whatever it took to get my black belt, I would not have ended up in the hospital.  I knew early on in my test that something was off.  I think I even knew a couple of weeks before that during one of my training sessions.  If I had really listened to my body, I would have had it checked out.

Pay attention to what you fuel it with:  One of the questions that the medical staff asked me repeatedly was did I fuel up with Monster or Red Bull or place energy drink name here.  They only asked me about drugs once.  That crap puts people in the hospital regularly, I avoid it like the plague.

Prepare for the worst:  I have been fortunate to have good guidance on planning for the inevitable.  If I had not made it, Joy and the boys would have been taken care of.  However, not everyone is in that boat.  If you aren’t, get there.  We are not promised tomorrow but we are promised that those around us will have to carry on.  Take care of them.

Bonus learning – If you are in the Dallas area, immediately go to www.lifefight.org and become a member.  Should you or anyone in your family ever need their services, you will thank me.  We spent months of effort and thousands of dollars avoiding a huge medical bill that is completely avoidable.  Think of it like AAA for your family should they ever need air ambulance service.

Pray like it depends on Him:  Between this event, Joy’s Breast Cancer diagnosis, Tyler’s Papilledema and Charlie’s depression, we have learned to pray in earnest around here.  My prayer life got immensely deeper as I recovered and gave thanks daily.   With it came a deeper peace I had not experienced to that point in my life.  Pray like it depends on Him…….because it does.

Now are those the only things that I learned, of course not, but they are the ones that have stuck with me and I think about almost daily.  Knocking on deaths door will change you.  Hopefully I can have done enough knocking for all of us to learn the lessons.

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

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Directions:

  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

How does your wife deal with it?

I get that question a lot.  Especially from women who learn how much I travel.  So today, on our 20th wedding anniversary, I am asking myself that same question:

How have we done it?  How have we made it work for 20 years when others haven’t?

Our marriage has not been the most conventional (no, not like that).  Since the time we were first married, we have spent significant amounts of it apart.  Even as far back as our first year of marriage, I was working in Los Angeles while she was down in San Diego.  And back then we did not even share the same days off.  We were constantly ships passing in the night as one of us was always driving up or down the California coast to spend time with each other.  Since then, I have basically spent the better part of 3 months each year in hotel rooms away from my family.

So as I have been thinking about what it takes to make a marriage successful among the crazy demands of business travel, I keep coming back to the same six things……..

Take time to understand their Love Language:

If you are not familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages, I suggest you stop reading this and immediately click here.  This was probably the most impactful self-development exercise I did when it comes to the impact on our marriage.  Understanding how Acts of Service speaks to Joy and literally says “I love you” to her changed the way I look at tasks around the house.  Which brings me to….

 Embrace the ‘Honey-do’ list:

Did you catch that Joy’s love language is Acts of Service?  That means that when I get stuff done around the house, she feels valued and loved.  So if there is a research project that needs done, I will do it on a plane.  I try and get stuff accomplished around the house on the weekends.  I love to check things off of lists and she loves to put things on lists.  It works for us.

When you are home – put them first:

I love to golf.  I don’t play golf.

I would train all day everyday on a martial arts mat.  I limit myself to only classes I do with my boys.

These are things that fuel and refresh me but THEY TAKE TIME!!!  I have pontificated on this before but when I am home, I vehemently protect that time.  I can train on the road.  I can work late on the road.  I can only spend time with my family, specifically my spouse, while I am at home.

Set them up for success:

Part of my weekly weekend ritual is to set my wife and kids up for success for the week.  That means getting meals planned out, buying the groceries, meal prepping, making sure laundry is done, projects are completed and ready to be turned in, schedules are clear for the next week, and so on, and so on and so on.  The weeks that are the most stressful on all of us are the ones where I fail to plan for the week.  My job is to provide and more than just a paycheck.

Hide all evidence of travel:

When I get home I tend to unpack right away.  Not because I am super diligent about processing my laundry but because if I leave my suitcase out all weekend it serves as a constant reminder that I have either been gone all week or will be gone all week.  Unpack quickly and pack at the last minute.

Communicate:

This one was the hardest one for me to learn.  Seems silly but for years I would wait till the last minute to let my wife know I was going to be traveling.  She would consistently get mad when I was leaving so if I left it to the very last minute, I got to enjoy a few more days of ‘happiness’.  This does not work.  Communicate early.  Communicate often.  Communicate regularly.  Call, text, email, skywriting……communicate.

Now please understand, developing these habits was a process.  There have been times when I have been incredibly selfish.  When I didn’t put her and the kids first and inevitably, our largest fights have been centered around those times.  Also, I think this list can be applied to any marriage and approaching what separates you.  For us, it happens to be literal distance.  For others, it may just be time.

So hopefully this list will help you and your spouse survive the pitfalls of business travel, whether you have a short season of travel or whether you become a salty veteran like me.

See you on the road!!

So you are thinking about starting martial arts? 10 things I wish I had known earlier in my journey.

So you (or maybe your spouse) are considering studying a martial art, congratulations!!  I can honestly say that the first day I bowed on to a mat legitimately changed my life and put me on a path I never expected to embark upon.

After more than a decade of training in multiple martial arts,  there are a few lessons that I’ve learned that would have been good to know before going all in.   If you are just getting started or considering a martial art, here are my top 10 things to expect that might not be so obvious.  If you are an experienced martial artist, I hope you agree and feel free to add-on in the comments.

Soap

1) This is not Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club may have been to never talk about Fight Club but if you really get bit by the martial arts bug, you will not be able to shut up about it.  My poor wife has heard more stories about spinning hook kicks, slip step-under counter hooks and triangle chokes than she knows what to do with.  Be sure to keep that in mind before you jump headlong into another story about how so and so did what and what.

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2) You will want to train – all the time.

I would train or teach all day every day if I could.  Perfection is impossible but the pursuit of perfection is available to all.  You’ll find yourself looking to attend multiple classes each week, participating in ‘open mat’ and looking for others to help you improve.   Trust me, it is completely addicting in all the right ways.

CT BB

3) Martial arts is a small, tight knit and supportive family.

For a long time I had the picture above from my son’s black belt test as the wallpaper on my computer.  He is landing a beautiful spinning hook kick and stopping his partner cold.  Now with my job, I am all over the country doing presentations and projecting my computer on big screens in multiple offices every week.  As soon as any martial artist saw the picture, there was an immediate connection.  Questions would immediately turn to his training, my training, rank, passion, training methods and goals.  Heck, I have even spared with some of my clients as I have traveled to their offices.

4) Your Laundry will never be in balance again.

Seriously people, this is an issue I was not anticipating and one my wife hates.   Think about it.  Gis are made from really thick cotton to avoid rips, tears, etc.  It is like having 3 towels in the wash that have to be on the same side of the washer.  Now imagine that in our house with 3 of us (14, 16 & 43) all actively training multiple sessions a week.  It just never stops and the washing machine continually sounds like a jackhammer.

5) There is a reason that martial artists say they “study” and “train”.

If you come across someone who says they  ‘do’ Jujitsu or karate or whatever, you have come across someone who really hasn’t evolved into a martial artist yet (and your belt rank has nothing to do with whether or not you are a martial artist).  To be successful in the martial arts, you really do have to study and train.  You have to study the techniques to understand their effectiveness and when to apply them.  You have to train your body to react to the opportunity without thinking.  I have spent hours on YouTube learning the principals of a technique (study) followed by hours on a mat applying them in an actual situation (train).  I stopped ‘doing’ karate a long time ago.

6) You will always be ‘hurt’.

I don’t remember the last day I was not sore somewhere.  Now please understand, I am not talking about being injured.  That happens pretty rarely in a well-run school environment – there is a difference between martial arts and fighting.  However being sore is routine and an important part of the martial arts lifestyle.  In fact, I have never been as sore as I was the day after my first Jujitsu session.  Soreness indicated weakness and weaknesses can be strengthened through studying and training.

triangle

7) You learn to embrace the suck.

Real progress is made when you put yourself in positions that are challenging to you and you work to improve.  I refer to this process as “suck training”.  As a beginner that may be continually letting your partner jab at you until you can slip the jab.  On the ground, let someone take your back and sink a choke in and then work your way out (this is not for your first day however).  You will fail a lot in these situations but that is the point.  Fail less tomorrow than you did today and fail in different ways than you failed previously.

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8) People love black eyes – just not receiving them.

I get a black eye or two every year.  Even as a black belt, I occasionally forget to keep my hands up and my partner slips in a great technique or I simply fall the wrong way.  It is simply a part of the beautiful dance we are performing.  What cracks me up is how people outside of martial arts react.  They either want to know every detail and are fascinated by my participation or they are scared to death to ask anything and assume I have some type of sorted past or had a run in with the wrong kind of crowd.  I find both reactions hilarious.

9) Higher level belts practice offense by destroying lower level belts – just slowly.

A really good black belt can execute her techniques at full speed without hurting her partner.  She can also slow it down so that their partner can learn to feel what is going on without losing technique.  As a black belt, when I am sparing a lower belt, I am typically picking a single technique to focus on and do so in a way that will also teach them something (like keep your hands up!!)  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!!

10) Lower level belts learn defense (aka survival) by being destroyed by higher level belts.

I will never forget the first time I countered a superman punch effectively.  I had been getting caught for weeks with the technique and it was driving me nuts.  In the round it happened in, I was clearly ‘losing’ the round but in my mind, I had won because my goal was to slip the superman punch and I had accomplished it.  If I had been sparing another brown belt at the time, they would not even be throwing that technique.  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!

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11) Bonus for families that train together – what happens on the mat does not stay on the mat.

Nothing makes my wife more frustrated than when random grappling matches break out in the living room.  Or when someone ends up in a kimura on the couch.  Or when turning a corner someone eats a round kick to the face.  Our house is a virtual mine field of martial arts techniques and I absolutely love it.

I hope the list above gives you a little more insight into the journey you are embarking upon and welcome to the martial arts family.  The destination is absolutely worth the journey.  Oss!!

What would you give up?

Welcome to the Lenten season!!  That wonderful time of year when some choose what vice they will give up in order to worship the One who gave up everything for them.  If your Twitter/Facebook feed is anything like mine is, it is filled with people either disclosing their vice of choice or professing what indulgence they will do without until Easter.  All of this sacrifice got me to thinking, what would I really like to ‘give up’ (read ‘purge’) from my life?

What would a Road Warrior like to give up if we really could?

So in honor of Lent, here is my top 40 list of things I would more than happily ‘fast’ from this Lenten season:

  1. Flights that depart prior to 7:00 AM: They look great on the calendar.  “I’ll be able to spend the night at home the night before the trip” is a great way to convince yourself you are doing something special for your family.  Reality is they want to kill you when you are getting ready at 4:30 in the morning.  This is a no-win scenario any way you cut it.
  2. Turbulence: Seriously, if I wanted a roller coaster ride, I would head to the nearest Six Flags park.
  3. Sitting in coach: Yes, I am spoiled but if I get to make the list, sitting in coach is one of the first things I would be willing to ‘give up’ for Lent.
  4. Foam Mattresses: I sincerely would like to introduce whoever invented these beauties to karate mat.  They deserve a good kick in the head.
  5. Airport Food: Yes, there are some good spots but for the most part it is abysmal.
  6. Weather Delays: Hey – this is my list and I get to declare that there are no more delays due to white flaky stuff falling from the sky.Calendar
  7. 3 day trips that span 3 time zones: Seriously, why can’t we book multiple appointments in the same time zone (let alone the same city)?
  8. ‘Day Trips’ lasting 16+ hours: We seriously need to reevaluate what constitutes a ‘day trip’.  Just because you can get to/from a market within a 24 hour period does not necessarily mean you should.Ceiling Height
  9. Hotel ‘gyms’ that consist of a treadmill and a broken down StairMaster: And putting a paper note of apology on the broken treadmill does not make it any better.  Fix the equipment for God’s sake.
  10. The casual traveler who thinks the RoadWarrior life a glamorous one: Really?  Yes, I get to ‘see’ lots of great places.  As long as you define ‘see’ as a path that consists of the Airport, hotel, client office followed by a return visit to the airport.
  11. Taking flights on a non-preferred airline: I fly one preferred airline for a reason (see #3).  I would like them to fly direct from every possible location to every possible location.  Is that too much to ask?
  12. Compact Rental Cars: I hesitate to call half of these cars.  I don’t know how Europe deals with it.
  13. Sunday Travel: I sincerely HATE this.
  14. Friday Return flights: Second only to Sunday departures.  Sundays and Friday are made for family and home.
  15. Conferences: Oh if one could only dream of this world.
  16. Hotel rooms without coffee makers: This is just mean!!
  17. Hotel up-lighting: I realize you want the building to look good from the exterior but if we could manage to find a way to not have a metal halide light equivalent to the sun pointed directly into my window, I would appreciate it.
  18. The forgotten toiletry: There is always something I miss replacing.  Couldn’t a magical fairy replace it for me without my involvement?
  19. Out of Office: Why even bother?  I am always Out of the Office.
  20. Emails from your travel booking system: Yes, I know my trip is upcoming.  So is the one you will email me about tomorrow.  STOP!!  You are just filling up my email box.
  21. TSA Security Line Banter: Yes, I know I need to take off my shoes and belt.  I even know that I am not allowed liquids or gels in containers larger than 4 oz.  I do not need to be continually educated about the procedures as I stand in line to go through the Pre-check line for 20 minutes.denver-tsa-line
  22. Travelers who travel once a year who are TSA Pre-checked: Why did you even bother?   You waited way longer for your interview than you would have going through security.it will fit
  23. Travelers with no sense of special awareness: No, your overstuffed ‘roll aboard’ is not going to fit in the overhead compartment on this Embraer Jet.
  24. Overhead compartments in an Embraer Jet: Really Embraer?   There is not even room for my jacket on the left hand side of the plane.
  25. Clueless casual travelers: (Sensing a trend now?) People – shoes come off, all metal and electronics out of pockets and liquids out of the bag.  It really is not that hard and by the way, look back up at #20 – we have been listening to them tell us this for the last 15 minutes straight.
  26. Barbie Ironing Boards: I paid good money to sleep in your hotel room.  Please provide me an ironing board that actually allows me to iron my shirt.
  27. Something forgotten at home: As hard as I try, there is always something I miss at home.  I get the text from my wife and just want to crawl into the fetal position.  I really could do without this.
  28. Booking 9 AM meetings that start EST when you are actually in PST: This one is completely self-inflicted but dear God, I have got to pay more attention to when a call starts relative to where I will be sleeping the previous night.
  29. Co-workers scheduling calls that start immediately after you land: I realize that the time was ‘free’ on my calendar but seriously, do I have to put an appointment on my calendar that says ‘walk through airport’.
  30. Rental Car Shuttle buses: I know it is impractical but man I wish every rental car pick-up was on airport property.
  31. Unrealistic per diems: I am not an extravagant traveler by any means but sometimes, the hotels that you can get for the company per diem are just not up to snuff.
  32. Expense reports: I know, I know. The aps that are available now make this way easier but I still do not know a single RoadWarrior who enjoys this process.
  33. Useless upgrades: I cannot tell you how many times I have been ‘upgraded’ to the suite level at hotels when I am checking in at 1:00 AM and checking out at 8:00 AM.  Thanks for the extra sitting space that I will not use.
  34. On Demand Movie Preview Channels: I never order them (I have Netflix after all) and as much as I like Mario Lopez, I really don’t need to see him every time I turn on the TV.
  35. Brown Food: Why is it that restaurants (hotel and airport restaurants in particular) serve mainly brown food?  Is it really that hard to make a salad?  There has to be more green than brown food out there, right?
  36. Promotional emails: From everybody.  I am pretty convinced that Southwest Airlines monitors your flight schedule and purposefully sends you an email while you are in flight so you will think about them when you land.
  37. Office get-together emails: It is just mean to send me an email about the leftover bagels/donuts/pizza/happy hour that is going on in the office today.
  38. Slow airport wi-fi: When Jerry Jones built the new Cowboy Stadium, he wanted to be sure that it had the bandwidth to support over 100,000 people posting to social media at the same time without lag.  Airport IT Directors, please take note.
  39. Checked bags: No one needs this drama and time suck.
  40. Worrying about any of this stuff: Life is too short to allow any of the above to affect you.  Love others as God loves you and enjoy the journey.

Hope you got a chuckle at one or two of the above.  See you on the road!

Stuffing Nests – OMG!!

So I have been trying to find some new ways to use all of the Thanksgiving left overs this year (not that I don’t love a good Turkey sandwich on sourdough but….).  Between this desire and watching way too much Chopped, I was on a mission to find non-conventional ways of using everything.  Of all the ingredients, the stuffing was giving me the most grief, so I decided to try something new.  Utilizing the stuffing, I made nests for eggs to poach in.  The result?  Phenomenally good.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Scoop a heaping tablespoon or two of leftover stuffing into each tin, molding the stuffing to the shape of the pan leaving a well for the egg to join the party later.
  4. Place in the oven for 5 minutes allowing the stuffing nest to begin to brown.
  5. Individually crack an egg for every nest into a bowl and pour into the nest (beware, there is a strong possibility you will have more egg than nest area – be sure the yolk makes it in before it is full).
  6. Return to the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove each nest from the pan and plate topping with your favorite fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • Leftover stuffing
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh herbs of your choice