Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out for Supper

BJ needed some grown up clothes, so we came to the mall. Applebees has a steak dinner for less than 550 calories! Score!!

Happy Flu Year

We were going to have a couple friends over tonight to watch movies, but instead 2010 will find us quarantined in the PB house, with a sick kiddo. I knew we couldn't get through the entire holiday season without someone getting sick! Mary Grace was up with the stomach flu all night, and now has a fever of 102.5+ (she wouldn't let me hold the thermometer in her armpit any longer than that, but it was still rising).

We hid out last year, too, because we'd been exposed to a stomach bug and we were certain we were going to come down with it. New Years just isn't our night the last few years. If we're not sick, we have a baby and I'm asleep by 10 pm, or I'm pregnant and "Sleeping Beauty tired" as BJ says. Maybe when they're older we'll get our party back on.

Have fun tonight. Be safe. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fun with Amazon Associates

So, remember yesterday's post, where I linked to a whole bunch of books that I'm reading (or am going to when I get my cabinets cleaned out)? In my little "FTC disclaimer" at the bottom I was going to put something snarky about "the 37 cents I've earned via Amazon Associates," so I clicked over to it to check my balance, and it turns out that because of YOUR purchases, I've made 49 bucks!

(Thanks, beloved readers reader!!)

Being entirely new to all this, I got fascinated and started clicking around on the reports. It turns out that no matter what you buy, as long as your trip through Amazon originates through Pretty Babies, I get a cut. I thought it was only if you bought the specific item I'd linked to.

So I went through the list of what people have bought. Someone bought a Roomba. Several of you bought a Res-Q-Me (which is weird, because I never even published the post I was going to write about them). The thing that cracked me up the most, though, was someone bought a case of condoms!

That's right!! Reading about the pretty babies inspired someone to buy a case of Trojans. I think I'd be a little bit insulted, if it weren't so funny. I wish I could see which post they clicked through on. Which bad day was it? There are so many to choose from (mainly because I bitch a lot, the pretty babies are actually pretty good kids).

From now on, these are the official condom of Pretty Babies: Trojan Ultra Thin Latex Condoms, Lubricated, 36-Count Boxes (Pack of 2)

(Don't worry, I can't see who bought what - only that it was bought at all. :) )

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is This Thing Still On?

I haven't written a real post since carrier pigeons were forced to haul my messages to your door, because the internet hadn't been invented yet, and for that I'm sorry.

I just can't keep up. Do you ever feel like there is so much media and not enough time, and you can't keep on top of everything you want to consume, much less everything you should consume? I have podcasts that I love languishing on my iPod for wont of time to listen to them. I have blogs that I've had to "mark all read" or simply unsubscribe from, even though they're good, because they're too wordy. I often read the first paragraph, and if it doesn't grab me, I hit "N." Not to mention the books! I have an embarrassing number of books in my Kindle that I have to read (including Audrey Niffenegger's new book Her Fearful Symmetry She wrote The Time Traveler's Wife, which I loved). I also want to read What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, which Dad gave me in hardcover form. Oh, and SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. I read the first one, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, and it was extremely good.

Oh look! Convenient graphics which you can click and then purchase and be overwhelmed just like me! Yay!

In a perfect world, those would've lined up single file. Oh well.

Not to mention the projects. I still need to make a new vat of bran muffins, because the holidays seriously derailed the diet. In spite of being so very, very good, I gained back 10 pounds. I think most of that is water - ham and nuts and crackers and popcorn are all very salty. Hopefully if I drink lots of water today, I'll be back to good in a couple days. It couldn't hurt, anyway, because my skin is extremely dry. Stupid winter. It wasn't terribly hard to behave. The one food I really missed was the chocolate orange that you "whack and unwrap." I love those. But my mom doesn't make cookies anymore because she's gluten intolerant, so I don't have to face great heaping plates of beloved cookies. I had exactly one scoop of ice cream with fudge and caramel and nuts (and the cleverest presentation - she soaked a sugar cube in lemon extract and then set it on fire!) on 12/23 at The Program, one small piece of pumpkin pie at home on 12/24, I had a cinnamon roll at home, then I had a thin (1/2") piece of apple something on 12/25 at BJ's mom's. I didn't have a single cookie until I got to Jen's on 12/26, she had made some chocolate chip cookies, but they were small and I only had two over the course of two days. At meals I tried to stick with veg and fruit, and to limit the amount of meat and carbs. I really thought that I was good!

How does six sweets spread out over 5 days make 10 pounds? That is some ridiculous math.

So, anyway, I have to spend all day making muffins, drinking water, and doing what will inevitably be the consequence of adding lots of bran and water to the diet. Yay. When I'm not doing that, I need to clean out and reorganize just about everything in the house. The day after Christmas Jen and I went to Ikea. Then we went back to her new house and organized everything, and now I want to be organized too. I have nearly 7 years of accumulated detritus in the backs of all my closets and cabinets, and it's either get it gone or burn down the house.

With the influx of new toys, we need to go through the toyroom and find homes for them. Hopefully we can lose some old stuff along the way. I got a few shoebox sized bins at the grocery store yesterday. I would love to find a better organization system for the toyroom. I dream of things like this system from Ikea, but I don't think we can really afford as much as we'd need, and they don't allow online purchases for the stuff I'd need/want, which is ANNOYING. Hey Ikea, my whole house would look like your showroom if you allowed online shopping, but I'm not driving to Schaumburg again until spring. I'd rather pay for shipping. You are losing my money by not allowing online shopping, dumbasses, because I'm going to get annoyed before spring and I'm going to go buy something else.

As if Ikea reads my blog.

Anyway... Christmas was nice. I've enjoyed having BJ home. He bought both of the girls gifts that you wouldn't expect girls to want - none of them were pink. He got LEGO Mindstorms
for Mary Grace (yes, she's only four - they're doing them together), and Claire got the Fisher Price Manny's Repair Shop. I love that he doesn't buy for them based on gender. Either that or he's given up on having a boy, and he wants to mold each of them into someone more fun (for him) to play with. He also bought Claire a jewelry box and filled it up with..... rocks. Claire loves rocks, and will pick them up wherever we go, so we bought pretty ones (like rose quartz and peacock ore) for her. She really likes them! According to Amanda and Matt, who came up yesterday, the geologists they know make six figure salaries, so this is a passion we're willing to encourage!

BJ and I kept it simple with each other - we're planning to get new carpet in January, so that will be our big gift to ourselves. I got him a couple of camping items, and a "rock paper scissors lizard spock" t-shirt, which is only funny if you like the show The Big Bang Theory (which he got from my mom). He got me a popcorn popper and some Pyrex storage stuff for the kitchen.

My favorite part of the holidays has been spending time with my friends. I got to spend time with best friends from middle school, high school, and college. (Barbara Dahling is the only one missing - hopefully I can convince her to come down here and see us soon). I could digress into a whole thing about my friends from different eras of my life, and how they're all kind of similar to each other, but BJ wants to go out for lunch so I need to stop babbling and get in the shower.

(FTC Disclosure Statement - some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links because the percentage of a penny that I might get if someone chooses to buy one of those items might as well go to me instead of Google.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

The children are nestled all snug in their beds. I hope your Christmas is merry and bright, wherever you are.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

By Request - Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Molly - this one's for you!

Not Dry Turkey Meatloaf

1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 Cup (skim) milk
1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 egg (or 1/4 Cup Egg Beaters)
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp salt (unless you're watching that sort of thing)
Dash pepper
Barbecue Sauce

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the wet stuff and the salt and pepper together. Add the bread crumbs to the wet stuff and let it absorb, until you have sort of a paste. Add the bread crumb paste to the meat, mixing well. Shape it into a loaf, top it with the BBQ sauce (go easy - high sugar, high calories) and bake it for one hour (give or take), to an internal temperature of 180 (use a thermometer - cooking time depends on the shape of your loaf).

This is actually a halved recipe - if you want leftovers (and who doesn't??) it easily doubles. Also, I've added that Kroger frozen chopped bell pepper and onion blend to give it a little more flavor. It also makes it Christmassy! You can do ketchup on top, if you wish, but I like BBQ sauce. Experiment a little with the seasonings, too. Worcestershire gives it a beefier flavor. I need to try "Liquid Smoke" too, and see if I can get it to more closely resemble a beef meatloaf. Throw in Italian Seasoning, or Old Bay (it is poultry after all), or garlic, or Mrs. Dash, or whatever you like/have on hand.

This makes AMAZING meatloaf sandwiches.


I need to briefly update yesterday's post. Do not take more psyllium fiber capsules than you're used to before a party. I made myself really sick. Start at two capsules once a day and work your way up gradually, or you will regret it.

Also, the fat free cheesecake cracked like the San Andreas fault. I punished it by not letting it come to the party. Instead I hit the grocery store and got several pies to take to Gramma Susan's. In spite of my stupid move with the capsules, we had a lovely time, and I managed to come in 25 calories under my limit today! Go me!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How I Lost 20 Pounds During the Holidays (so far)

It seems like every conversation I've had lately has had something to do with our recent weight loss, which is tedious, I know, so I apologize to everyone I've talked to in the last month. I do think that people are especially interested in tips and tricks, so I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've learned over the last month or so. You might want to bookmark this and come back after the holidays (but I've got "surviving the holidays" tips, too).

The main thing that we're doing is counting calories. At, if you input your height, your weight, and how much you want to lose (per week), it'll tell you how many calories you can eat. I got the iPhone app, too, so I can keep track "on the go" (as if I'm ever not near a computer). It has lots of charts. I like charts and find them reinforcing.

Once you become aware of calories, you start to realize how MANY are in everything. When you're only eating 1,660 calories a day (which is my current goal) you look at that Big Mac Value Meal at McDonald's (large fries, large Coke) and its 1350 calories and 54 grams of fat a little differently.

Sure, I could eat that, but then I wouldn't be able to eat anything else all day, except maybe a salad or something. I know I feel a lot better when I spread the calories out over the day (and when I save a couple hundred for a scoop of frozen yogurt after the kids are in bed!), so I don't feel like "spending" my calories on that Big Mac meal makes sense anymore.

Speaking of salad - holy carp the dressing! The spicy ranch I like is 150 calories in 2 tbsp. So I'm using the old "dip the fork" trick, rather than putting the dressing on top of my salads. I can usually use a tablespoon or less of creamy dressing on a side salad sized salad. The croutons and cheese aren't healthy, either, so go easy (really easy) on those. And beware of fast food salads - some of them pack a serious fat and calorie punch. Sometimes you're better off with the Big Mac. Or with the Quarter Pounder - they're easier to eat in the car.

If you have to eat breakfast out (I've found myself in this situation a couple of times since I ran out of bran muffins - I really need to make more!), get an Egg McMuffin (300 calories) and the apple dippers (skip the caramel and they're only 35).

Beverages are another place where I was wasting a lot of calories. I don't drink pop anymore (but I never did, much, so I don't really feel deprived). I just recently read a study that said that more than two diet drinks a day (whether soda, or tea or coffee with artificial sweetener) increases your risk of kidney problems. I have always hated the taste of that diet stuff. I am trying to teach myself to drink coffee black and tea unsweetened, but I'm pretty heavily addicted to Coffee Mate's Fat Free French Vanilla creamer, and I honestly don't see myself giving it up entirely any time soon. I'm just drinking a cup or two a day, instead of four or five. Consuming less caffeine is probably healthier, anyway. Otherwise, drink water. It's free.

Starbucks will kill your waist and your wallet (BJ calls it "Fourbucks"). Just don't go there. If you MUST get yourself a treat, the caramel macchiato (with skim milk, no drizzle, no whip) is your best bet at 100 calories and 1 gram of fat. If you have an iPhone, Starbucks has an app that gives the nutrition info of your highly customized beverage, too. I also like Restaurants. It has a lot of the nutrition info for fast food places.

If you don't have an iPhone, Dottie's Weight Loss Zone is the most comprehensive source I've ever seen for restaurant nutrition info. I don't know Dottie, but I love her for putting all the time and effort into this incredible resource. Most of the items also have the Weight Watchers points already calculated for you, so if you're doing WW, it's all there and already done - no math!

I'm not a fan of diet food, in general. But really, who is? I think diet food (like Lean Cuisine and that stuff) makes you feel deprived and cranky and leads to failure. Believe me, I've gone out and spent hundreds of dollars on special food, only to fall off the wagon by Monday and end up at Olive Garden (having fettuccine alfredo, which is the equivalent of three McDonald's Quarter Pounders with Cheese, by the way, and that doesn't even include the breadsticks or the salad or the dessert or the drinks) for lunch. If you were to come over and look in my fridge right now, you'd find a lot of real food. Not a lot of gimmicky pre-packaged crap. Don't waste your money (or your calories!) on food that tastes like cardboard. It's all full of chemicals anyway, and none of that is good for you.

In fact, last time I made a serious effort at losing weight I ate a lot of Smart Ones frozen meals. Most days I'd have one for lunch, and often I'd have one for dinner, too. Well, my blood pressure got up to 170/100 or so. They hide a ton of sodium in those frozen meals. Avoid!!

Having said that, though, we have found several products that we weren't eating before that are lower in calories than the alternative, taste fairly decent, and are filling. Boca Burgers, for one. I've had these several days for lunch, instead of meat. There's also a vegan cheese (Smart Slices I think) that is not bad. It doesn't taste any worse than Kraft Singles, and it only has 40 calories in a slice (about half of "real" cheese). We're eating Aunt Millie's Light Whole Grain Bread - 35 calories a slice. I had a jones for sausage the other day, and I picked up some Morningstar Farms Maple "Sausage" Patties, but they kind of suck, so don't buy those. Egg Beaters have half the calories of real eggs, somehow, and taste fine - especially in omelets. My grocery store sells pre-cleaned, pre-cut frozen onions and peppers, and if you throw a handful of those in a skillet with some Egg Beaters, you've got yourself a nice, quick, easy breakfast. I have a lot more exploring to do in the "natural foods" section of the grocery store, but that's what we've found so far.

We found a strawberry frozen yogurt at Kroger that's awesome. The chocolate's not bad, it's sort of like a Wendy's Frosty, but the strawberry's better. 1/2 cup is 100 calories. Those 100 calorie packs of cookies and stuff are convenient. I've picked up several, and they're ok if you want a cookie or something, but they're not going to change your life. I wish the 100 calorie trend would extend itself into other aisles besides the cookie and cracker aisle. How about individually packaged 100 calorie crouton packets (I have no idea how to measure two tablespoons of something square)? 100 calorie shredded cheese packets for topping salads and soups? 100 calorie cereal packages? I think we'd all be a lot more aware of what we're eating, frankly, if everything in the grocery store came in 100 calorie sizes. I'm not sure how I'd manage to haul home 100 calorie lettuces, though. They'd probably be the size of Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin!

Soup is the bomb. There are several Progresso soups that are less than 100 calories per serving (be careful - a can is two servings). I even found a Southwest Veggie soup that's 50 calories a serving. It's filling and hot and tastes good in the winter. I've had soup once a day nearly every day for the last month. It's hard to feel deprived with a grilled cheese sandwich (115 calories if you use the 35 calorie/slice bread, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, and 40 calorie vegan cheese) and a big hot bowl of soup.

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, by the way, is free (I think you burn the calories that are in it by spraying it), and tastes pretty decent on popcorn. It's terrific on cooked veggies. I actually prefer it to butter because you get even coverage. It isn't my favorite on baked potatoes, though. I think baked potatoes need more liquid than the spray can provide.

Those mini-rice cakes are good for munching on in the afternoon. Just be sure to count them. A serving is like 7 or 8 pieces - and the little bags that are $1 at Kroger have 6 or 7 servings. But a single serving is only about 60 calories, so they're good. I know they're "diet food," but sometimes you want something crunchy.

California Pizza Kitchen's thin crust frozen pizzas taste really really good, and they all come in at right around 300 calories for 1/3 of the pizza. That and a nice salad, and you've got yourself a pretty decent dinner. I mean, it's not Pizza Hut's Pan Cheese pizza, but one slice of a large cheese pizza has 390 calories. And when have you ever eaten one piece of pizza? Or the Meat Lover's Pan Pizza? One slice of a large has 530 calories and 31 grams of fat!!! If you're craving pizza, the CPK will satisfy, and keep you "on the wagon." Spicy food definitely makes me feel more full than bland food, too, so load it up with the red pepper!

We've been making a lot more chicken, fish, and ground turkey and a lot less red meat. Duh, right? My turkey meatloaf is awesome. Everyone thinks turkey meatloaf is dry, but if you combine the breadcrumbs with the liquid (eggs and milk) and let the breadcrumbs soak up the liquid before you mix it with the meat, I promise you'll have a moist turkey meatloaf.

If you want gravy to go along with your meatloaf and mashed potatoes, you can have it. Get those packets of powder that you mix with water - McCormick makes them, I think. They've got like 15 calories in a serving. I made my mashed potatoes tonight with milk only (instead of milk and butter). I added a little of the I Can't Believe... spray for flavor. They were fine. I mean, boxed mashed potatoes aren't ever great, right? But it's a cold snowy night and I was craving mashed potatoes and gravy, so we had some. We also had chicken, "California" veggies, and salad.

We've been splitting entrees when we eat out. Also, we'll often look at the menu and the nutritional info online before we leave, so we can plan what we're going to eat. It's a lot easier to stick to your plan when you have a plan, you know? And don't be afraid to order like Sally in When Harry Met Sally. If you want your French Onion Soup without the cheese and the bread, then order it that way, because it's a lot harder to resist when it's in front of you smelling soooo good. Order your salads without croutons and cheese. Order a box with your entree so you can immediately put half of it aside so you don't eat the whole thing!! Order a salad or fruit instead of a potato or fries. You're paying for it! Don't be afraid to be a pain in the ass.

So, how do you survive parties? Well, before you leave, you can take a few psyllium husk fiber tablets and drink a big glass of water. It'll fill you up (and fiber is healthy, so it's not like you're taking a "diet pill" - it's FIBER) and you'll be less likely to overeat. Load up on veggies. At least half of your plate should be veggies. No one has ever gotten fat eating carrot sticks and raw broccoli. Limit the dip, though, to a tablespoon or less. Stay away from the cheese and crackers. You've had cheddar cheese before. It hasn't changed. Wouldn't you rather try something interesting with those calories (and that fat!) instead? Go really easy on the meat. Remember that a serving of meat is 4 ounces - about the size of a deck of cards. That's four meatballs. Not 10. Chips can have a ton of calories, too, so stay away from the chips and salsa (you've had chips and salsa before - it is the same as it ever was). Appetizers kill me. They're all so good, but so high in fat. I actually pre-ate before my sister's party last night (I had "dinner" around 4 pm) so that I wouldn't overdo the appetizers that I knew she'd be serving.

Don't forget to count the calories in whatever you're drinking. Remember that rum and diet Coke is only 60 calories (and the diet flavor is covered up by the rum), so if there's an open bar, that's a good choice. Wine is good, too, at about 100 calories a glass, and fairly healthy in moderation. Watch out for my mom's wine glasses - each one holds an entire bottle of wine, and somehow they never get empty no matter how much you drink!

For big sit-down dinners, like Thanksgiving, go heavy on the fruit and veg, and take just a couple bites of all the other stuff. You kind of have to change your thinking a little - but why should stuffing yourself with stuffing be more pleasurable than 3 or 4 bites? It's really not. Slow down. Put your fork down between bites. Talk. Chew slowly. Drink lots of water in between bites.

Watch out for casseroles that look like vegetables but are really fat and calorie bombs. There is nothing healthy about green bean casserole (unless it's made with low-fat cream of mushroom soup, and even then it's only marginally better). Watch out for "salads" that look like fruit but are really desserts. Watch out for desserts in general. Pick a favorite, have a couple bites, and then walk away from it.

I made a virtually fat free cheesecake tonight for our Christmas party with Gramma Susan tomorrow. I used fat free cheese, Egg Beaters, and only a bit of powdered sugar. I made the crust from low fat graham crackers and margarine (no added sugar - why add more sugar to cookies?). We'll see how it tastes. I'll probably run by the store and grab an Eli's, just in case!

So, I think that's the extent of my newly-acquired knowledge of nutrition and dieting. I want to lose another 50 pounds, on top of what I've already lost, so I know there's a long road ahead. Since that's the case - will you leave your best tips in the comments, too?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just a quick post...

We're fine, just busy... I've lost 20 pounds (####################). I'm pretty excited about that. Yay!

We're nearly done with our Christmas shopping - just a couple of things left to do and we're finished! Yay!

Today was the last day of school before the break. Boo.

I was afraid that one of MG's best friends, Maddie, wouldn't be continuing at the school next semester, but her parents worked it out, so I don't have to figure out how to tell MG that she isn't going to see Maddie every day, because Maddie isn't going anywhere. Yay!

I had about ten thousand more things that I wanted to tell you all, but they flew out of my head completely as soon as I opened this page to write.

Oh! Two of my friends gave me blogging awards this week, but I need to figure out the rules before I post them. And I never did get back to the questions from the Mamapedia thing. God, I really suck at this blogging thing. Don't quit your day job, Amy!

My computer is driving me insane. I very nearly tossed it out the window this evening. S---L---O---W!

Well crap, I can't remember anything else. Nevermind. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Almost Unbloggable

Claire has diaper rash. She didn't want me to put cream on it, because it's sore, but I had some powder so we compromised. She said I could put some on her.

(Come to think of it, when your kid is old enough to negotiate she's probably old enough to use the big girl potty.)

Anyway, I applied the powder and Claire sat up a little, looked at herself, and said, "I'm a snowman!"

Ha ha ha!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No Puppy

So, a couple of days ago, my Dad and I took the girls down to Middle Of Nowhere, Indiana (Population: Depends, how many people are in your car?) to see some beagle puppies that had been advertised in the paper by a guy named Larry*.

They were so cute, but ALL puppies are cute. A responsible mother pet owner can't base her decisions on the cute.

Larry had over 20 dogs. Probably closer to 30. The dogs that he kept didn't have names. He had a 12 month old female (selling price - $50) and an 18 month old female (price - $35) that he was "willing" to sell (he wouldn't say why - were they infertile? Bad hunters? Barky? Not cute enough?), but they didn't have names, they weren't potty trained, and they'd lived their entire lives in elevated wire cages (they each have a bed area where they can get off of the wire floor, if they want to). I don't know how one could begin to house train a dog that had been raised that way, much less get it to the point where it could be trusted with children, particularly if it had been trained to hunt.

The puppies were kept in more gentle accommodations. They were with their mother. At the end of the mother's elevated wire pen there was a ramp into a plastic doghouse full of hay. The father was on site, too. Those were points in Larry's favor.

It was also clean, and it didn't smell, in spite of the fact that he only had about an hour's warning that we were coming that evening. I don't guess that he was out in the rain cleaning up on my account. The place was probably as clean as it usually is, and it was cleaner than our yard would be if we had 20 or 30 dogs!

On the other hand, about half of his dogs were outside in elevated wire pens. They barked like it was the end of the world when they saw us coming. I said something like, "Boy, it's about time to move these guys in for the winter," since it was a cold, rainy night. "Oh no," Larry replied, "They stay out all year. They're used to it."

Used to it. With those thin beagle coats. I began to wonder if Larry might be the kind of person that puppies get rescued from. Not the sort of breeder that I want to buy a dog from.

What kills me is that it wouldn't be at all difficult for him to make room for the other dogs inside. About half of his space, indoors, was wasted on walkways. I wasn't going to get into a discussion of geometry with him though. Particularly after I saw a mouse in the barn.

He lets the dogs go home at 6 weeks old. 8 - 10 is more reasonable. His puppies ("pure bred") were only $100. Susan pointed out that if he were taking proper care of them, at that price he'd be selling them at a loss.

So, for a lot of reasons, we've decided not to bring home that particular puppy. Even though she's too young for the conditions to really have much of an impact on her, I don't want to support a "backyard breeder," with my money if he's going to take shoddy care of his dogs. I'd rather wait and find someone who treats their dogs like pets, not like livestock.

I realize that some of this may be cultural - he'd probably be appalled that I let my 90 pound dog live inside the house, sleep on the couch, and eat peanut butter. There's a difference in the way that farmers/country/rural folks and suburban/city dwellers treat animals... I know. Also, Larry probably thinks that he treats the dogs just fine. He's probably better than a lot of backyard breeders - his place was clean, and there was only that one mouse. He seemed sort of affectionate toward the dogs, I guess. He handled the puppies gently. I didn't see any signs of overt abuse - the dogs didn't appear sick or injured in any way. It was the mother's first litter, so I didn't get the impression that he over-bred the females. On the other hand, I know how much Max's vet care costs per year (upwards of $400) and I don't see how someone who has no other job (besides puppy selling) could possibly make enough money to support himself and his wife and properly take care of so many dogs. The math just doesn't add up.

When it's time, the right dog will make her way to us. This was not the right dog for us.


I used some of the following references in making my decision. If you've come upon this article while looking for information about backyard breeders, puppy mills, responsible pet ownership, etc, may I recommend the following:

Wikipedia - puppy mill.
Wikipedia - backyard breeder.
What Is A Backyard Breeder?
Reputable Breeder vs. Backyard Breeder. (Google's Cached Version - I'm having trouble with the website tonight.)

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

* Not his real name.

Tired of shopping

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You Should Be Watching Glee

Sorry no post today... Another helluva day. Ugh. I got into it with a client over an invoice, and had to talk to him like he was two years old! "These are your choices...". Ha! Who knew that my mad mom skillz would be needed in business?! Anyway, I'm Gleeking out and taking tonight off. My husband will be home tomorrow, thank God.

Love this show. I'm pretty sure I was a less-talented Rachel when I was a kid. Haha!

Oh, PS, if you have an iPhone add Words with Friends and play Scrabble with me - AA1976. It's free.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Longest Day

Well, this day has not gone at all as I had planned.

Everything ran fairly smoothly at home in the morning, in spite of the fact that BJ's gone (scary dog reminder) so he can't wave coffee under my nose until I wake up. I have to get up with an alarm and make my own coffee! Primitive!

When I opened the garage door to go outside, the snow was blowing horizontally. I was a little concerned, because we had planned to drive up to Grammaland after school, but I had other fish to fry between that moment and the moment, 2.5 hours later, when we were supposed to leave, so I didn't worry about it.

I got to the school. Thanks to Grandpa Bob, I even remembered the dollar for Mary Grace's shopping day at school. I forgot to drop off a diaper with Claire. Whoops. As I was walking out of MG's class I connected with the other "room mom" over an issue I've been worrying about. Then I passed a usually-empty room and saw my friend Casey, who recruited me to help wrap the kids' gifts (which they'd be buying with the dollar that I remembered!). I ran out to the car to get Claire's diaper, dropped it off at her class (without being seen by Claire - I am ninja mom!), and ran back to help with the gifts.

I finally left the school at 10 am, and I remembered that it was recycling day so I ran back home to take out the recycling. We always have three times more recycling than trash. We put out a LOT of recycling. This will be important later.

I arrived at my office about an hour later than I'd planned to. BJ needed a couple pages of notes sent to him, but I couldn't find them. I finally ended up MMS'ing pictures of his desk to him so he could tell me which pile to look in! Meanwhile, I was also talking to my mom and my Facebook friends about the weather. We had planned to go up to Grammaland after school and help Gramma Denna with her tree until 4 or 5, and then go to Gramma Susan's for dinner. But those horizontal snowflakes had me a little nervous (especially after white knuckling all the way to Nowhere, Indiana last night, in the rain, to see the puppies).

Mom and I decided that it was safer if the girls and I stayed put (and thank goodness! This will be important later). I found BJ's papers and sent them to him, got the mail, left the office, and picked up the kids.

Mary Grace took it really well that we weren't going to see her Grandmas. She just wanted to watch a movie when she got home, which was fine with me, because my slight headache was developing into a serious headache. This will be important later.

When we pulled into our driveway, our recycling was gone. The truck hadn't been by, though, it had all blown away! I put the kids inside with a movie and spent 15 or 20 minutes picking up the trash from the yard across the street and the yard caddy-corner from us. I hardly found any cardboard (and one whole bin had been full of cardboard). I hardly found any glass. I found a lot of plastic and cans. I felt terrible, but the kids were alone in the house and I couldn't leave them while I went traipsing all over our town looking for my trash.

By the time I got inside, my head was really pounding. I let the kids make their own PB&J (a favorite activity) and I made soup and a grilled cheese for lunch. I let them watch a second movie, and then we all went upstairs for a nap.

When I woke up, my head was screaming. I couldn't open my eyes all the way, and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was a full on migraine, complete with light and sound sensitivity (which is FUN with two small kids in the house!). I tore up the house looking for my Imitrex, but couldn't find it anywhere. I had to make the difficult choice to drive on increasingly-icy roads with two kids in the car in order to go get my medicine.

I changed Claire, then put her snowsuit on her (because she insists on wearing ridiculous dresses when we're home - either dress up clothes or her "Nemo" dress, and I didn't want to fight her into changing), and put MG's coat on. I was just about to push them out the door when Mary Grace said, "Mommy, we forgot our shoes." Claire didn't even have socks on. Excellent mother I am, huh?

Properly shod and bundled, we made our way to the car. Our recycling was gone, again. No bins. No nothing. I was pretty sure the truck had been by since we'd gone to bed, which meant that our garbage collectors had probably tossed the bins up onto the yard, and they'd blown away. Terrific.

I was too sick to care. It was all that I could do to get the kids in the car without throwing up all over them. I turned on a movie so they'd be quiet. I got to the pharmacy (thank goodness for drive through pharmacies!) and said, "I need Imitrex," and gave them my name. She couldn't find my prescription! I started crying.

Finally she figured out that I hadn't called in the refill yet. She told me it would be 25 minutes (!!!). The kids and I parked at Taco Bell and I made a couple phone calls. I left a particularly desperate and weepy message on BJ's voicemail, telling him how much I love him and appreciate everything he does (from coffee waving to prescription fetching, and everything in between).

Gramma Susan convinced me, on the phone, that it was ok to feed the kids Happy Meals two nights in a row if I had a migraine, so I hit McDonald's drive through, too. I got myself an unsweetened tea to take my pill with. They gave me the sweet tea, full strength, which was a bit surprising. I tried not to hurl from the unexpected syrupyness, and from the smell of McFood in my car. I made my way back to the pharmacy drive through, got my pills (hallelujah!), and took one before I even put the car in drive and left.

Once home, I gave the kids their dinner and went to sit on the couch. I think I might have fallen asleep. Either that, or I hallucinated that there was a headless person walking toward me. It was disconcerting, but not as bad as the dream I had when I was napping earlier, that all my teeth fell out (I think I dreamed it because my migraine was bad enough to make my teeth hurt, too). I have that one fairly often, and I always wake up and count my teeth!

After about 60 minutes, I realized that I could open my eyes. After about 75 minutes, all the pain was gone, and after 90 minutes I wasn't nauseous anymore. Whoever invented Imitrex is a flipping genius, and should win the Nobel Prize. I made myself some eggs and a bagel, and surprisingly un-hideous Morningstar Farms veggie "sausage" patties. I sent my neighbors an e-mail apologizing for the trash, and asking them to return our bins if they happen to find them.

So, it was bad luck that we didn't get to go to Grammaland, but it was good luck that we weren't on the interstate when my head tried to explode, or in Grammaland where I didn't have any Imitrex and it would've been more difficult to get it. Mainly we're lucky that someone invented Imitrex, and that I can feel normal for the rest of the evening, rather than lying in bed crying with the pain, which is all I could do for the first 32 years of my life.

I seriously can't wait for BJ to get home. I don't know how you single parents, or parents of people who are deployed with the military, do it. I really don't.

Need Weather Update!!

People - what's the weather like in Grammaland? The girls and I were supposed to come up this morning (we're supposed to leave in about 45 minutes - at 11:30 am EST) but I'm concerned about the weather. Can you comment or e-mail or call me with current conditions??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh nose!


The Best Salad Ever

Sorry, I know the diet stuff is annoying, but it's Christmas time and everyone's throwing cookies and fudge and cake and alcohol at you. I'm going to give you an awesome tool for fighting back.

Have you ever noticed that spicy food makes you feel fuller? I sure have. Also, salad sucks in the winter. Except this salad. This salad never sucks because it is...

The Best Salad Ever

2 cups lettuce (12 calories, no fat)
1/2 cup ground turkey with taco seasoning - as hot as you can stand (120 calories, 1 g fat)
1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese (40 calories, no fat)
3/4 cup Private Selection (Kroger) brand Seasoned Roasted Corn with Peppers, Black Beans, and Onions (OMG IT IS SO GOOD!!!) (113 calories, 2 g fat)
1/2 tbsp of Kraft Spicy Ranch dressing (38 calories, 4 g fat) OR 2 tbsp Daisy Light Sour Cream (40 calories, 2.5 g fat)

Cook the meat and add the taco seasoning according to the directions (which adds a calorie or two but you're going to save it on the dressing... keep reading). Meanwhile, nuke the corn - it's found in the freezer section at Kroger. If you don't have a Kroger, I am so sorry, because this stuff rocks. Consider importing it. Once everything is done, let it cool a bit. Put the lettuce on a plate, and top it with the meat, the cheese, and the corn in that order.

Now, here's a trick. Rather than putting the dressing (or sour cream) on the salad, just put it in a small dish and dip your fork in it. This salad is so flavorful on its own, you hardly need dressing (which is why sour cream might be a good idea instead, if you need a little break from the spicy!).

I just had this for lunch and I am going to explode.

Best of all, if you do a pound of ground turkey, you have enough for 4 servings. So, you don't have to cook dinner either (the kids won't eat it - make them macaroni and cheese).

325 calories and between 5.5 and 9 grams of fat, depending on whether you use ranch or sour cream. I only used 1/2 a tablespoon of Spicy Ranch, maybe less.

Other clever things I've eaten lately - Old fashioned oatmeal with 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries stirred in. Frozen yogurt. Bran muffins. Progresso Healthy Soups (some of them are as low as 50 calories a serving - just don't forget that there are often 2 servings in a can - and watch the salt!).

I've lost 14 pounds. That's this many:


Ok, I just heard Mary Grace say, "EEEEeeewww! Claire! Did you put macaroni and cheese in my pocket?" And that, friends, is why I don't blog more often!

I'm sorry!

I know I've been heavy on the pictures and a little short on words, lately. Sorry! I'm getting ready for Christmas and working hard at losing weight (14 # to date - woo hoo!! I'm at my pre-baby weight for the first time since November of 2004!!). There's a ton going on right now, and it's just overwhelming. You should see the toy room. Ugh, not pretty. Anyway, I've been a very bad blogger and I'm sorry.

I need to get a great big curtain to hang between the toy room and the rest of the house (it's an 8 foot opening, so a door would cost a fortune) so I don't have to look at it. Actually, the kids would probably have a lot of fun with a big red velvet curtain. It could be their stage or their puppet show... Hmmmm....

I woke up with a migraine, but in spite of it I got up and dressed and got the girls up and ready for school. I need to refill my Imitrex. I thought I had two left, but they've disappeared. I'm sure I'll find them about 20 minutes after they expire. I also need to go to the grocery store. We have like no food here. It's a little desperate.

BJ's on a business trip. (Check out my home security system!! She eats thieves, kidnappers, and rapists for breakfast!!!) The kids are all sad. It's really pathetic. Having him gone this morning really made me appreciate how much he does around here. He gets up with and feeds the kids, gets them dressed while I'm in the shower, makes our coffee, takes out the trash on Tuesdays and the recycling on Wednesdays... Mornings are a lot more work when he's gone! I had to come home after dropping the kids at school to get the trash out, and I got sucked into my e-mail. Whoops. Now I need to hit the store and pick the kids up. Busy day!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

C'mon Guys, Wait Up

It takes longer to get ready to go outside than we actually spend outside.

Updated to add: OMG, I can't believe how whitetrashtastic our house looks from this angle. Um... Honey? We need to do something about this. Ok?

Friday, December 4, 2009

What do you do for pink eye?

I have a question.

Claire has pink eye. Even though pink eye is stupid*, I've always kept the kids home/stayed home with them when they have it, because it's so contagious. The websites I've consulted say that you have to stay home 3-5 days for viral and 24 hours for bacterial pink eye (or 24 hours into the antibiotic drops, I guess, which would make you no-longer-contagious).

The doctor said that Claire's was "probably" viral. She's had it since Wednesday. That means we're benched until Saturday/Monday. We have a party to go to tomorrow night, where there will be lots of kids. I'm going to e-mail the other attendees and ask them if they think we should come or not.

I gave Allison the choice whether or not she was coming today (she's not, and I don't blame her - she's a senior and she has finals coming up).

BJ, on the other hand, has "never heard of someone staying home with their kids because of pink eye." Considering that BJ is self-employed, all the interns are college students, and his business associates are almost entirely men with stay-at-home wives, I'm not sure where his data set is coming from, but I thought I should ask...

Am I overreacting? Do you go places (school, work, mall play area, holiday parties, babysitter's, etc.) when you have pink eye? Is it different when it's a kid (because kids can't keep their *#$%ing hands out of their *#$%ing noses, and their noses are vile little petri dishes full of disease)? What do you think?

* Pink eye is stupid because they feel fine, but you can't do anything/go anywhere, so the kids are bored to tears.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pervy Japanese Spam

I'm sorry to report that I've had to turn on comment moderation. I've been getting a lot of spam, lately, which you hopefully haven't noticed because I've been trying to keep them off of the blog itself.

Enabling the comment moderation (where I have to click "publish" on every comment that comes in) and the "captcha" thing (where you have to type in random words before it will accept your comment) will hopefully encourage whatever pervert has found me to find another blog to litter.

I hope these actions don't discourage anyone from commenting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The kids are at Gramma Denna's.

It is so weird here. Quiet.

Even last night when they would've been asleep, anyway, and BJ and I were watching a movie, the house felt different. Kind of... empty.

I guess I've gotten used to the little turkeys.

I'm sure they're having a super time, but I can't wait to see them tomorrow.

Two nights is too long. College is going to kill me.

(In other news, the appraiser for our refi was supposed to be here "between 3 and 4." It's 3:45. I've been home long enough to create the illusion of cleanliness, and to do some online Christmas shopping. Tick tock, appraiser. Do you have any idea how pickled I'm going to be if you don't show up??)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Food Coma Is Lifting

Hi again, Internet. The fog of the carb coma is beginning to lift, and we're planning on getting out our Christmas decorations today. I think we may have to put the tree in the middle of the living room, because there's really nowhere else for it to go.

Hey, it works for Marshall Fields. We'll just start calling the living room the Walnut Room. We'll serve cocoa. I can make this work.

On the other hand, I've never seen a dog at Marshall Fields. Maybe not.

The toyroom is an unholy mess. We're probably going to have to tackle that before much longer. The stuffed toys are in there having litters of stuffed toys of their own, I'm sure of it.

Claire's eye looks awful. She wouldn't let us clean it off, so the scab is about twice as big as it needs to be. It doesn't seem to be hurting her anymore, though, thank goodness.

BJ's cousin's wife, Pam, had a dream that I was pregnant with a boy. As far as I know, I'm not pregnant. I wanted to write it down though, in case she's right and I have a boy next August. How strange would that be? She says she's never been wrong before when she has dreams about pregnant people. I'm just thankful that she didn't dream twins - I think that twins would send me right over the edge. For one thing, my baby strategy is to wear it in a sling until it's old enough to get up and walk away. That would be tough with twins. I think it can be done, but it would be a lot of babies to haul around.

We went out shopping for a little while yesterday. We only bought one Christmas gift, though. I got Mary Grace some jeans (hers were way too small on Thanksgiving - I didn't realize she'd grown so much!). They were on MAJOR sale at Penney's, so I got her a pair of brown and a pair of black cords. I think they were $4.88 each. Claire's jeans were $3.88. She only got one pair because she has a lot of pants, and because I couldn't find the cute cords for her. Then I got them each a fleece shirt for $6.99 or something. I got out of there with 4 pair of pants and two shirts for about $37, not bad!

People are freaking crazy on black Friday, though, and after Claire got hit in the face with the fifth giant bag full of bargains wielded by someone walking the opposite direction and not paying one bit of attention, I snapped. Looking back, we would've done better if we'd had the stroller. We played in the germ area play area for a little while, after meeting up with BJ's dad and his wife, and then we headed back here for some leftovers.

What are you doing with your long weekend?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful

I am thankful for you - that you take a moment out of your busy life to peek into mine once in a while. I'm thankful for your comments - your kind thoughts, your good advice, and your humor.

I hope that all of your travels were safe, all of your meals were festive, and all of your leftovers are safely stored in sealed containers where they will grow neither mold nor bacteria.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Claire's Eye

Urgent Care

Claire fell and hit the marker tray of the whiteboard on her way down with her eye. No stitches, thank goodness. The centerpiece may be delayed though.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy Feedback, Batman!

Mamapedia published my article on Time Outs on November, 3, and I just now found it! Whoops!!

I get a time out.

A LOT of the (65!!!) commenters left questions, and I'm going to try to answer them here. Expect to see a lot about discipline in this space over the next little while.

Yes, of course I'm hosting Thanksgiving in two days. And doing most of the cooking, sure. And I finally started writing my sitcom today, and why wouldn't I take on one more project? Hahaha...

I was stumped on the very first comment...
My son has a low language level, and doesn't usually understand most of what I'm trying to tell him. So putting him in timeouts has been very frustrating, I can't help him understand why he's in timeout. Do you have any suggestions?
I wish you had mentioned your son's age. If you happen to be reading, please comment with more details.

My first suggestion is to act it out for him. Put yourself on the step or the rug and say, "Mommy is in time out. This is how we take a time out. Can you take a time out?" I think if you repeat the phrase "time out" over and over again, he might pick it up, depending on what his specific delay is.

Also, be very careful that you're not giving him time outs when he hasn't understood your instructions/expectations. You don't want to punish him for his low language level, right? In your situation, I would only give time outs (or any consequences/punishment) when you're sure that he has understood you and willfully disobeyed.

Is his expressive language delayed, or his receptive language, or both? Does he have hearing or speech difficulties? Could you draw a picture of what you expect him to do in time out and show it to him? Maybe could you find an illustrated book where a child takes a time out, and read it to him? Could you have other children demonstrate time outs for him? Make up a time out song? (I know that sounds crazy, but the "clean up" song from preschool does amazing things for my kids' motivation to clean!) How do you teach him other things? Remember that you have to teach him how to do a time out (just like you teach him how to eat with a spoon or drink from a cup) in order for the time out to then become a teaching tool. That's why I started so early with my kids (at 12 months old). When they were that little, it was more for practice than anything else!

It has been a long time since I worked with kids with special needs, so I'm pretty rusty. I know that even the children that I worked with who were institutionalized got time outs. Time outs are supposed to work with extremely low-IQ children. Although, what's the point if they don't understand, right?

I have some of the smartest readers in the world, many of whom are educators. Please, guys, leave comments (on the blog, not on Facebook!!) if you have suggestions for this mom.

I may not sleep until January...

Lazy Bloggers Make Bulletted Lists

  • Claire's down for nap and I totally scammed my neighbor Chelsea into taking MG for a little while. It's nice and quiet on a Tuesday... That never happens!
  • Every single day Mary Grace saves part of her snack at school for Claire. Every day. Awwww...
  • I should be making cranberry sauce right now.
  • I went to grab the link to the cranberry sauce I'm making, and is running soooooo slooooowww! I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't use real cookbooks anymore.
  • Except for the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, which is a classic...
  • The waffle recipe in there, with the egg whites beaten to soft peaks, is awesome.
  • I don't eat waffles anymore.
  • Have you ever made your own cranberry sauce? It's fun, you should try it. Totally easy, too. Do it a couple days ahead of time... As in, today.
  • Mary Grace filled up her sticker row at school today and got to choose a toy. She chose a woolly mammoth, probably the one from Ice Age, Happy Meal toy. She hasn't put it down since.
  • It occurs to me that when parents don't give their children the opportunity to earn something, they deny them a great experience.
  • We have star charts at home, too, but I suck at remembering to use them.
  • All of Mary Grace's stars are red - gold - red - gold etc. and she freaks right out if I suggest we should deviate from the pattern.
  • Four year olds are weird.
  • Claire's weird too, I just can't think of any specific examples.
  • So my sister and I saw New Moon the other night. When Edward dumped Bella, I handed Megan my pocket pack of Kleenex. We laughed. Then, when Jacob took off his shirt, I handed her my pocket pack of Kleenex. We really laughed. I did this several more times throughout the movie - it was fun.
  • Speaking of Twilight - I just want to note for the record that pale boys in skinny jeans do not do anything for me.
  • Plus, I don't like the whole undertone of the movie. Pick the broody stalker who will kill you! Your boyfriend is more important than your soul! No, pick the werewolf who can't control his temper and will probably maim you! Jeez... How about pick the sweet, human friend who asks you to the movies, Bella. Oh he's too boring? Yuck.
  • Teenaged girls would be well-served if they would go for the boring guys more often.
  • I wrote a brilliant essay in college about how bad guys are sexy because the fear of death makes you feel alive, and feeling that alive is sexy, and blah blah blah but it has been lost to the winds of time.
  • I wish I could access my college e-mail account and read what I used to think.
  • It worries me that my next of kin will be able to request access to my Gmail account and read everything that's in there after I die.
  • I'm just going to have to outlive everyone.
  • This is also why I can't write a book.
  • I do, however, have a great idea for a sitcom.
  • Ok, that cranberry sauce isn't going to make itself.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tips to Deep Fry a Turkey

Hey, kids, it's almost Thanksgiving and a friend of mine on teh Facebooks asked me if I had any turkey frying wisdom to share.

Since she can't be the only one frying turkey for the first time, I thought I'd share it here, too.

Turkey Frying Wisdom -

1) The person responsible for frying the turkey shall have no responsibilities/distractions other than watching the turkey for the entire time the oil is heating and the bird is in. In other words, don't expect your husband to also be able to peel potatoes - you don't want to leave it unattended from the time you turn on the gas to heat the oil until you pull the bird out.

2) Follow ALL directions, including the part where you put the turkey in the pot with water instead of oil to see how much water/oil it's going to displace. The last thing you want to have is the oil running over.

3) Make sure the turkey is THOROUGHLY thawed. If it's frozen it's not dinner - it's an explosive device. I'm not kidding. Note - check your turkey the night before because we've had ours in the fridge for the correct number of days, before, and it hasn't been thawed when we've gone to take it out. You want to feel around and make sure that you don't feel any frozen pieces, inside or out. If you do, lukewarm water (running through and over it) is the best way to ensure a good thaw. And this takes time - don't do it at the last minute. You'll get in a rush and you'll miss a spot and KABOOM!

4) Keep the kids and pets away from the turkey frying area. Do it on a level driveway or patio, not over dry leaves or in the grass or anywhere where it could tip over. Try to stay out of the wind, if you can, to help keep the heat even. Stay at least 10 feet from any structure, especially the house, and be aware of what's above you (tree limbs, overhangs, etc.)

5) Have everything that you're going to need washed and ready to go - including whatever tools you're going to use to get the turkey out (the scariest part, except for putting it in, IMHO). You'll need a big roaster pan to put the turkey into when it's done. Don't forget that you'll need gloves (BJ uses work gloves) to protect your hands when you remove it.

6) Don't stuff it! LOL

7) Watch a couple of videos (YouTube) to see what you're getting into.

8) Make sure you've got enough propane.

9) If the temperature gets too high, your oil could boil. If that happens it's going to bubble up over the sides of the pot, and then you're going to have boiling oil meeting the fire. It's pretty much all over at that point. That's why it's imperative that you watch the temperature of the oil very carefully. No football! No distractions!

10) Read all the directions twice. Consider doing a dry run before The Big Day so that you know what you're doing. We did a practice turkey the weekend before our first Thanksgiving. Oh, and be sure to pat the skin of the turkey dry before you put it in the oil - oil and water don't mix.

That said, it tastes really good (not at all oily - it's like fried chicken, all the oil stays on the skin), the inside isn't any worse for you than baked turkey, and your oven is free to heat up everything else (and the men are all outside bonding over the flames and barking like Tim Allen). We think it's worth it. But then again, BJ's used to working with rocket fuel, so it's kind of a walk in the park for him. :)

(I'm feeling a lot better than I was earlier when I posted that psychotic rant thing. Thanks for all the support, both here and on Facebook. You are the wind beneath my wings.)

Doomed Diet Day 8 - To Hell With This

I've gained a pound. I've been eating 1743 calories (actual mathematical average) a day, for a week, and I've gained a pound.

It's taking every ounce of self-loathing I have to not go on a bender and eat my way through every fast food restaurant in town.

Yes, you read that right.

This friggin' sucks.

In my next life I get to be naturally thin, ok? Rather than this:

...except Shamu doesn't have zits and stretch marks. Oh God, sometimes the weight of my own self-hatred is literally crushing. I can actually feel it pressing down on me right now.

So I called Laser Concepts today, because I know 6 people who have gone there and for $300 have had some voodoo done to their ears and they have quit smoking. One person had a stroke and continued to smoke afterward, but the laser thing worked. Another had a heart attack and continued to smoke afterward, but the laser thing worked. I don't understand it, but it really seems to do something.

...and they offer a treatment for weight loss, too.

It's not nearby, but I could get there twice a week for 5 weeks (to the tune of $400) to do the weight loss treatment. But after talking to the guy about what I've tried (breastfeeding MG for 28 months and C for 22 months and BOTH OF THEM AT THE SAME TIME through my pregnancy with C and for 9 months afterwards - - and not losing an ounce. Restricting myself to 1800 calories (or less!) a day for a week, and GAINING a pound) he said, "Something's really wrong with you!" and refused to take my money until I've seen a doctor.

But the thing is, I've seen my doctor. And he says, "Diet and exercise." Well, I'm dieting. And exercise is not my friend. I need to lose some weight first. Exercise is phase two. It takes a month to make a habit. Well, I need a month of eating better before I make another change, you know? October was quit smoking. November was eat better. December is exercise. Or hang myself with a string of Christmas lights. Whichever comes first.

I guess if I diet for a month and then start exercising and do both for a month, and I'm still gaining weight, then I'll go to the doctor.

If I last that long. Because right now, honestly, all I want to do is dive, head first, into a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

(And if you think this was bleak, you should read the parts I deleted!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wanted: Salty, Crunchy, Healthy Snack

The Doomed Diet is going surprisingly well. I've lost two pounds. I even had pot roast and rice with gravy yesterday at my father-in-law's house without going too far over (50 calories over for the day - not bad when you're limited to about 1800!) by practicing portion control.

I'm also finding that it helps to stay upstairs (where there is no ice cream) after we put the kids to bed. BJ and I have been turning on the "toaster" (it's an electric mattress pad, and it's the best thing ever! You need one) and watching movies or TV in bed. I don't eat upstairs. Well, ok, one night we had popcorn...

Anyway, I need a healthy, crunchy, preferably salty snack that's healthy. Has anyone got anything? Is there some kind of puffed vegetable chip I don't know about? They were sampling these snap pea snacks at the store yesterday that were the consistency of a Cheeto, but green and apparently made (somehow) from a snap pea.

That's a little too weird for me.

Nuts are good, but a serving is like three nuts. I need something I can mindlessly, guiltlessly snack on, particularly in the afternoon. Popcorn's not bad, but I'm getting a little sick of it.

Mimi and I are going to see New Moon today. I looked up the calorie info for a small movie popcorn - 400! In a small!!! I don't even know how they get that many calories in there. That's without butter! Raisinettes are only 330, and they have chocolate.

BJ's going to take the kids to a women's basketball game. I hope Claire makes it, she says she doesn't feel good. She might have a low grade fever (hard to say if she's got a fever or it's just her jammies making her warm). Her nose has been runny since October, but so has mine. It's so hard when they can't quite express what's going on.

Speaking of Claire, there's a little girl at school named Lexi. She and Claire don't get along. I've already talked to the teacher (who happens to be Lexi's mom) about it, and I don't think it's actually a big deal, but Claire talks, often, about how Lexi "hurted" her. (Lexi probably "hurted" her once, and we're just hearing the same story over and over...) Well, we've been watching Phineas and Ferb a lot (BJ and I like it almost as much as the kids do), and one of the songs is "My Nemesis" (you can hear a sample here). So anyway, we asked Claire, "Is Lexi your nemesis?"


Poor Claire. Two years old, and already a nemesis!

Well, yesterday on the way to Grandpa Ben's, BJ and I had a good laugh when she started talking about "Lexi, my nemesis," again. And I said, "Lexi Luthor?" Of course that makes Claire, "Claire Kent."


I feel a story coming on...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fun with Technology

Yesterday I decided to transfer all of the photos from my computer onto the big computer (it's got like a terabyte of memory - oh, sorry, I'm being corrected by BJ who says it has 1.5 t of capacity but only 3 g of memory... Whatever.). Then I put Picasa on the big computer (sorry BJ) so that I could use the facial recognition feature (New! And super cool!) to sort the photos and help me choose good shots for our holiday card (which may or may not happen - I am in full pre-holiday panic mode).

Our family completely flummoxed the face recognition software. It's very good at recognizing men, but it's a mess with women and especially the girlies! Mary Grace kept getting in the Claire folder, Claire kept getting into Mary Grace's folder. I kind of expected that, especially with the really old baby pictures. But then Claire got into Mimi's folder, and I thought, "Well, yeah, she does really look like Mimi..." and then Mimi got into Gramma Denna's folder, and Gramma Denna got into Mimi's folder (Mom and Mimi and Grandma Betty once won a look-alike contest), and pictures of me from when I was younger (read: thinner) got into Mimi's folder, and pictures of me started showing up in the kids' folders...

It was a disaster. I don't know if it's just limited software, or if we're all clones of each other, but (my second cousin or first cousin once removed or something) Dayton ended up in (his own first cousin my uncle) Doug's folder at one point. Kelly, Curtis, Craig, and Jill (all my first cousins) were all stirred up.

It was kind of fun, looking at all the old pictures and realizing how much we all resemble each other. If you're working on your holiday card, too, you should download Picasa (for free!) and play with the facial recognition software, too. Now that I've finally got this posted (after starting at about 10 am today!) I'm going to go play.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Honestly Didn't Even Know She Was A Big Deal

Last spring, before I went to BlogHer, I started participating more on Twitter. There was this really funny woman who also happened to be tweeting about BlogHer around the same time of night that I was usually on (post-kids-bedtime until about midnight, Eastern time). I friended her on Facebook. I met her at BlogHer. I yelled her name across the entire lobby of the Sheraton, and I think I scared her a little but she immediately put this big smile on her face and acted like we were long lost best friends.

Until she had a stroke yesterday, I didn't even know that Anissa was a big deal. (I don't check other peoples' stats. I don't check my own stats). But the entire internet (at least, the corner of it that I read) is buzzing with prayers for Anissa, and has been for the last 24 hours.

Anissa is a big deal, and not just to the internet that loves her. Anissa is a very big deal to her three young kids and her husband.

And she just has to get better, because people who can make you feel like an old friend from the moment they meet you are too special to let go. And because kids need their moms. And husbands need their wives. And 35 is too young for this shit.

I didn't know she was a big deal. She's just my friend. Someone who has been hilarious and blunt and risque and awesome as long as I've known her. Someone I'm not ready to say goodbye to, not yet.

I love you, girlfriend. Keep fighting.

Updates on Anissa's condition are here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Doomed Diet Day 3 - I Hit The Wall

I started posting desperate things on Facebook around 3 pm, after a cranky hour of yelling and hating life.

We have reached the point of the diet where I usually say, "Fork it," and dive, face first, into a cheesecake.

I had popcorn (cooked with 2 T oil on the stove, with salt and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter) and a banana (an hour later) instead. Then I made dinner (turkey meatloaf and baked potatoes) so it'll be (nearly) done when we get home from gymnastics. No excuse for pizza.

It's times like these when I wish I were a little better at the whole religion thing, because it would be nice to be able to ask God for strength. But it's just me. Me and a house full of food, two kids who are driving me nuts, and a cold rainy day that really can only be saved with the liberal application of homemade cookies.

God wants me to eat cookies.

Let's distract ourselves with babies, shall we?

We got new hats and gloves for winter, since I couldn't find anything that matched anything else.

Mary Grace picked hers out. The beret is probably not the most practical choice, but one must admit that it is most fashionable.

Ok, blog, thank you for distracting me long enough that I didn't go on a total binge. It's time to leave.

(I know it's boring to read about what someone else did and didn't eat. I'll try to rope it in...)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doomed Diet Day 2 - Kill It With Fiber!

I ran my tail off today. I had MOPS this morning (craft committee, where we cut stuff out and then we talk while other people watch our kids. Awesome!), then we went to Chick-Fil-A with Casey and her kids, then we went to the office to do a couple things (Allison's sick, and I'm sure it's our fault), then we went to the grocery store and got the stuff to make the muffins, and then we came home and made about 5 dozen muffins, which is hilarious when you only have ONE muffin tin, and then I made dinner and then I sat down for like 10 minutes (for the first time all day) and then it was bath and now it's bedtime and I'm blogging.


So anyway, these muffins. When I was a kid my mom made these all the time. There are probably still some in the back of her freezer. They are the bomb.

When I was doing Weight Watchers there was some rule where you take the calories and the fat and divide by the fiber and multiply by the square root of pi and I don't remember how it worked and the WW people would probably be mad at me if I told you, anyway, you having not, presumably, paid for the weight watching, but the point is that if you had two things with the same number of calories - like an apple and a popsicle that are both 100 calories - the one with more fiber (the apple, dur) would be fewer points because fiber is good for you.

These muffins have so much fiber, they've probably got negative points*.

* I haven't actually calculated the points because, as you might have noticed, I totally forgot the magic formula. I think it has something to do with Bernoulli's equation...

Anyway, it doesn't matter because the entire point of all these run on sentences is to bestow upon you The Recipe for the Horkin' Fiber Chunks Bran Muffins.

Get it while it's hot, folks, because Mom didn't actually give me permission to post the State Secrets that I am about to reveal, and there is a better than 50/50 chance that she's going to see this in the morning, call me, and demand that it be removed from Ye Ol' Blog. There are recipes like that in my family. We don't even speak about Grandma Shank's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe in a voice above a whisper.

So here you go. Now you can't say I never gave you anything. Go forth, and do things that Dr. Oz would be proud of... (The parenthetical remarks are Mom's unless I signed them ~Amy).


2 cups boiling water and 2 cups 100% Bran Buds or All Bran cereal (Pro tip - freeze the cereal after you've gotten out what you need because no amount of sugar or starvation will ever be enough to make anyone in your house eat any of the cereals involved in these muffins in any form other than muffin form. Trust me. ~Amy)

1 cup oil or Crisco

2 ½ cups sugar

Mix all the above together and let it cool (so you don’t cook the eggs!)

Then stir in 4 eggs one at a time

In a separate bowl combine and set aside:

5 cups of flour

5 teasp. of baking soda

1 teasp. salt

To put it all together, put 4 cups of bran flakes in a large bowl (a REALLY large bowl!) and pour 1 quart of buttermilk over the flakes (this is what makes them moist)

Add the Bran Bud mixture to this, and any extras you want to add, mashed banana, nuts, raisins, orange rind, craisins, chopped apple and some cinnamon, whatever. (I used a regular size bag of walnuts - it was one or two cups, one bag of craisins which was about 1-1/3 C, and 1 C raisins, and a big old dash of cinnamon ~Amy).

Then add the flour mixture. Once you stir in the flour mixture don’t stir any more than necessary to combine.

Bake in muffin pans that have been sprayed with Pam. Or you can also bake them in cupcake liners in the pan if you don’t want to spray the pans.

Bake at 400 for about 12 to 14 minutes till the tops are not moist. Don’t over bake them. The time is kind of arbitrary. Sometimes they take a little longer depending on what all you put in them. (Mine took 14 minutes and I used exactly 1/4 cup because I'm anal and it really annoyed me that they didn't all come out exactly the same size ~Amy)

This makes 5 or 6 dozen depending on how full you fill the cups (5.5 dozen ~Amy). They can be frozen, and will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks wrapped in plastic.

There you go. Make some today!

I came in exactly 6 calories below my daily allowance, which is as close to perfect as I am ever likely to get.

Two days of watching what I eat - that's got to be some kind of record.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doomed Diet Day 1 - Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Well, kids, it's hard to feel deprived when you start your day with something called Pumpkin Pie.

This was so good, I had to share the recipe:

2 cups old fashioned oats
3-1/2 cups water
dash salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (the stuff for pies that's just pumpkin, no added sugar or spices)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Spices and toppings - see below.

Boil the water and the dash of salt. When boiling, add the oats, reduce heat, and cook for four minutes (out of 5 for the old fashioned oats) stirring often. One minute before the oatmeal is done, add 1 cup of pumpkin puree. Stir. Just before it's finished, add brown sugar and spices to taste. I used cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.

Top with 2 tbsp craisins (if you have them) or mixed dried fruit (which is what I had) or raisins or whatever. It would also be good with granola on top, to give it a little crunch, or even a broken up graham cracker to simulate the crust! I also put a dab of fat free half and half on top of ours (to simulate the whipped cream).

This is really filling and healthy! How else are you going to get a serving of vegetables and a serving of fruit into breakfast? It's loaded with Vitamin A and fiber, too. The recipe made enough for BJ and I each to have one cup today and tomorrow. I used a recipe calculator program, and it's only about 300 calories and 3 grams of fat.

I always start off really strong with diets, and after about 3 days it all falls apart. We'll see...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Oh So Quiet

BJ and the girlies are over at Brandon's. BJ won't be home until late, and the girlies won't be home until morning. So I've got the first verse of this song stuck in my head:

...except the Bjork version (embedding disabled by request). I had no idea it was a remake. Ha! Learn something new every day.

Love Bjork, she's nuts. I like that in people.

Speaking of nuts, there's me. I got another wrong number text on my cell last night that said, "You know anything yet?" so, of course I write back, "Yeah, I'm pregnant." (I'm not pregnant, I'm just mean.) It turned out that the person thought I was his girlfriend's (wife's?) mom! HAHAH... I let him off the hook, after about half an hour (also after telling him I was going to name the baby after him, and, most importantly, told him not to tell anyone. Heee!).

All of this was chronicled on Facebook.

What's funny is that the guy was holding a phone in his hand the entire time we were talking about this (fake) pregnancy, and he never thought to call me for clarification's sake. I love technology.

Speaking of FB, I've had way too much fun this week posting pictures from high school on FB. Pictures like this:

I'm the one in the red coat. I showed this picture to Karen and Tammy - both of whom I've known for 5 years - and they didn't recognize me. "That's YOU?" they both said.

Hellllloooo, diet!

'Cause, you know, two weeks before Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start a diet. I'm not self-defeating at all. In fact, I think if you look in the archives I started a diet last November, too.


I did make it to the grocery store to stock up on fruits and vegetables for the doomed diet. And I didn't forget anything, because, it's oh so quiet... shhhh! Shhhh!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make Mine a Double - Parents Magazine Strikes Again

I didn't find anything in the current issue of Parents Magazine to get annoyed about!

HAHAHA! Yeah, right.

There is a whole article about Playdates with Cocktails. Dun dun dun!

Apparently I'm a bad mother because I've had a glass of wine with another mother while our kids played. Karen? Jen? The sanctimommies are coming for us! Run!!

The author cites an example of a woman who had the equivalent of 10 shots of alcohol in her system when she crashed her car in New York and killed herself and seven other people (including her two year old). Tragic? Of course. But there is a world of difference between a glass of wine at a two hour playdate, and ten shots of alcohol.

Most adult women are intelligent enough to see the world of difference between a glass of wine (or a mojito, which is the first example in the article) and ten shots of alcohol. In fact, most people who aren't in a coma can tell the difference between ONE drink and TEN.

I would like to point out that I have never, ever, ever read an article about dads who get together with other dads and watch sports and drink beer. I know these things happen, so where are all the alarmist articles? Oh - hold the crickets, there are two whole paragraphs about dads in an inset at the end of the 3 page article. The inset can't tell the difference between appropriate social drinking and alcoholism either, though. According to Parents, it's wise for dads to "watch their (alcohol) intake when they're around the kids." And apparently it's necessary for mom to be sober as a judge until the kids are well through college.

"Even if you aren't driving," one mother in the article says, "your kids could wander out of the house, fall into the pool, or stick their finger in a socket."

I'm not going to quote the whole article, but it's insulting. It's insulting to insinuate that women can't responsibly enjoy a drink or two in the company of their friends, without compromising the care of their children.

It's annoying that we have this idea that kids must be vigilantly supervised by a sober, responsible adult every second of every day or they are going to DIE (or, my favorite, they're going to be molested - because there are roving bands of child molesters out there, lurking, just waiting for Mom to turn her back on her 5 year old boy in the public restroom). You know what? It's bullshit. Your kids are going to die of heart disease, and so are mine, and so are most of us reading this, statistically. Let's dial down the hysteria, already.

Here is the truth - I am still able to call 911 after I've had a glass of wine. I am still able to count to two (which is the number of kids I have) after I've had a glass of wine. If I drink so much that I can't count to two anymore, then perhaps I should stop. Or if I have so many kids that I can't count that high after a glass of wine, then perhaps I should stop both having kids and drinking. It's possible that the two are related.

I hereby give all of you, mommies and daddies alike, permission to drink and playdate. Find another parent in your neighborhood (so everyone can walk home) and have one of those Smirnoff things - my neighbor Chelle and I call 'em Koolaid for Grownups. Or spend the night at your sister's house so that after the kids go to bed you can split a bottle of wine and talk about all the fun you used to have. Or go to a friend's house as a family, let Mommy have a cocktail, and have Dad drive everyone safely home. I promise, your kids aren't going to stop breathing because you're drinking. Really. They might even learn a responsible attitude toward alcohol if they're exposed to a parent who drinks socially and in moderation!

I think the biggest danger to our children is having a mother who carries The Weight of Her Maternal Responsibilities so heavily that she can't unwind and have a drink like a grown up once in a while. Or maybe it's our culture, which has us convinced that our kids are going to spontaneously combust if we aren't hypervigilant at all times. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's the biggest risk.

But a glass of wine? Totally fine. In fact, I'm going to go find one right now...