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??)