Friday, January 29, 2010

Poor Puddin'

Somebody is trying to ruin our evening plans with a fever of 102. Will Bumpa babysit anyway? Dunno - he worked last night and is still asleep. We'll see, I guess. This is her fourth catnap today. :(

Help! (Valentine's Day)

Maybe it's this stupid cold, that persists in moving back and forth between my sinuses and my lungs, but I have no ideas.

The other "room mom" and I are in charge of the kids' Valentine's day party at pre-school.  We can delegate, assuming that the other parents stop screaming and running in the other direction when they see us coming.  We are supposed to come up with a (nut free) snack, a craft, and a game or activity.

I have no ideas.  Zip.  Zilch.

Well, that's not entirely true - I have ideas, but they're all inappropriate.  I don't know WHY my mind went immediately to Spin the Bottle when they said "game," it just did.  I'm so wrong.  Don't judge me.

(In my defense, in The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday they play Spin the Bottle at Sister Bear's sixth birthday party.  That's a parenting decision that makes me say, "WTF?" every time we read it.  But I digress...)

I'm considering telling my co-room-mom that I'll do the snack (and I'll just get some pretty cupcakes at the store because I'm lazy and also I suck at cake decorating) if she'll do the other two, but I don't want to be a jerk about it.

So, I thought I'd appeal to my most creative readers.  Any great Valentine's day ideas for preschoolers of the snack, game, or craft variety?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I haven't said anything about the disastrous earthquake in Haiti here because it's outside the scope of this blog, (and because I can't bear to watch the news coverage of the situation, honestly).  However, I came across a blog post (posted on Facebook by a friend of mine) that gave excellent perspective on the situation.

In the past couple of days I have read a lot of backlash (on Facebook) against the money that was raised for Haiti during the telethon last week.  People are saying, "We should help our own!  Why should we send money to Haiti when people here don't have health insurance, or people here are hungry?"

This is why, folks.  This is why.

There's a big difference between being poor in one of the richest countries in the world, and being poor in a country where everyone you know is poor, and everyone they know is poor, and there is no escape from the crushing poverty that surrounds you. 

That's all I have to say about it right now. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

In Which I Invent Soup

I didn't know what to make for supper tonight, so I came up with my own recipe from what sounded good.  Each one-cup serving only has 132 Calories and 1.5 g of fat!  Lots of good fiber and veggies, too.

2 bratwurst-sized turkey sausages
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can black beans
1 bag Kroger Seasoned Corn, Black Beans, Peppers, and Onions (frozen)
1 bag Kroger Brown Rice (frozen)
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp (give or take) chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausages, whole, in the bottom of a sauce pan. When they're almost done, cut them into slices. Meanwhile, drain and rinse 1 can of black beans. Return the sausage to the pan and add a can of diced tomatoes (add the tomatoes first to deglaze the pan), the beans, a whole bag of Kroger's Private Selection Seasoned Roasted Corn, etc. Also add a whole bag of Kroger's frozen brown rice. Add 4 cups of water, and any additional spices that you want (a clove of garlic and chili powder, but you may like cilantro or any number of other spices... Experiment! Spices are free!). Simmer for 20 minutes (as with all soups, the longer the better), and serve with tortilla chips, and maybe a dollop of fat free sour cream or a sprinkle of fat free cheddar cheese (not included in nutrition info).

Now, someone tell me how to thicken up the broth, it was a little thin.  Do I need to add a can of tomato paste?  The flavor was good, though, even though it was thin.  I hope you like it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

...and as long as I'm into the wedding album...

How hot is that guy I married?


That is all.
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Another Milestone

Today, for the first time since then, I weigh less than I did on my wedding day.

I am at SW-25.

(Maybe this cold isn't all bad).

I'm 1/3 of the way to my goal.

When I get better I'll post a progress picture...  But it's really hard to feel pretty when you have to blow your nose every eleven seconds, even if you are thinner than you have been in eight and a half years.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and encouragement, and for continuing to read in spite of my endless talking about food and diet and exercise.  I love all of you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I've Noticed Something Rant-Worthy About Food

Have I run this topic into the ground yet?  Yes, I'm about to talk about the diet again... Sorry.  I still have kids, but we're all sick (head cold) and whiny and not at all interesting today (although Mary Grace was reading books to Claire for a while earlier, which was super cute, and BJ made the astute observation that Mary Grace is the only person that Claire will sit still and listen to books with - she has no patience whatsoever for Mom and Dad's reading...)

Anyway, I have recently noticed something about food.  If there are two types of a thing...  Let's say, potatoes - you've got regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, right?  If there are two types of a thing, the LEAST nutritious one is almost always the most popular one, or at least the most readily available one, in the U.S.

When was the last time you saw sweet potato fries at a fast food restaurant?

Or whole wheat buns?

Or honey sweetened soda instead of sugar sweetened soda?

Or sugar sweetened soda instead of high fructose corn syrup sweetened soda?

It's almost like we're trying to kill ourselves.

Think about all the different natural, caloric sweeteners there are.  Sugar, brown (raw) sugar, molasses, honey, agave nectar, (brown) rice syrup, maple syrup, date sugar... Almost every last one of the natural, caloric sweeteners has SOME kind of nutritional or health benefit to offer .....  except for the one that is readily available - plain, white sugar.  (Don't even get me started on artificial sweeteners right now).

Honey will soothe a sore throat, raw sugar contains trace amounts of minerals, rice syrups can be easier on your blood sugar levels than white sugar, maple syrup (the real stuff, not the fake stuff you generally find - and the fact that the real stuff is hard to find and expensive just proves my point again!) contains zinc and manganese....  Are you with me here?  We have so many different kinds of sweeteners available, and yet the one that is omnipresent is the one that's the worst for us.

It's the same with flour.  I dare you to find a loaf of bread that doesn't contain "enriched wheat flour" (or high fructose corn syrup for that matter).  It's nearly impossible! 

We eat the whitest, blandest, most refined, least nutritious versions of almost everything. 

Even apples.  Go to the store.  Those Red Delicious things are lovely, but they have no flavor.  But they're everywhere!  You can find them, year round, at any grocery store in the country.  (My sister didn't even realize that she liked apples until I introduced her to Honeycrisps.)  Why do we continue to buy shitty apples??  Real apples taste good.  Mass produced apples that are so bad that they have to assert their own deliciousness and that are trucked from a zillion miles away taste like cardboard, and they're less nutritious!

Does anyone else think it's ironic that we have to add chemicals (like MSG) to food to make it taste better, because it's made with white flour and white potatoes and white sugar and high fructose corn syrup and crappy produce like Red "Delicious" apples (assuming there is any actual produce in it at all!), when we could save ourselves the trouble of adding the chemicals AND the expense to our health if we just ate real, better quality food?

I love convenience as much as anyone - and I will admit that it has been years since I baked my own bread (and when I did, it was made with white flour and white sugar, anyway), and that tonight I cracked open a can of chicken noodle soup (with white flour noodles and assorted chemicals) for dinner...  I will admit that I would rather BUY cheese than MAKE cheese, and that lately I've even been eating Fat Free Kraft Singles, and who knows what futuristic space mutant chemicals I'm eating when I eat those!

But for God's sake, doesn't it seem ridiculous, in a country where everyone seems to be struggling with weight, that we're eating nothing but garbage, that we're consistently eating the least nutritious of our choices across the board?  We have built an entire culture on the over-abundance of low quality food.

It has to stop.  We have to start demanding better.  We need to move to a culture of high quality food.  If we do, even if it's just in our own families, I'll bet we'll find ourselves satisfied with less food (because it's of higher quality).  I'll even bet we could cure a lot of the health problems that face us in the U.S. (obesity, heart disease, depression, maybe even infertility and stuff that isn't as obviously linked to food...  cancer?) if we stop eating tons and tons of junk, and start eating reasonable portions of healthy, nutritious food.  Real food - not this chemical crap that we've been fooling ourselves into calling food for years.

Where did it start?  With the TV dinner?  The vitamin pill?  When women left the home and entered the workforce?  No, I refuse to blame this on working mothers.  I think it's just been a perfect storm of societal influences - mass media bringing us commercials for chain restaurants - which increases the demand for chain restaurants, women going to work, factory farming, the supply chain for food getting longer and longer, attention spans getting shorter and shorter, TV dinners, cake mixes....  All of it has conspired to make us feel 1) inept in and intimidated by the kitchen, 2) that our time is too "valuable" to waste in the kitchen, 3) that we "deserve" to go out for dinner (where we eat gargantuan portions, because this chain restaurant has to entice you more than that chain restaurant, so they'll feed you as much as possible for the lowest possible price), 4) that convenience food is as healthy if not healthier than anything we could cook from scratch (it's Enriched!  and Fortified!!)...

We have got to be smarter than that if we want to live.

Oh dear.  I just re-read this and I'm totally ranting.  You can tell when I use lots of italics and exclamation points, not to mention the poor abused parentheses.  We'll blame the fever, ok?  I'm really very sick, here, and not at all in my right mind. 

But seriously, we can do better.  We can do better for our kids.  But I have to get better, first.  Right now we're living on canned soup and tea.  It's bleak, folks.  It's bleak.

At least it's green tea (healthy) and not black (abundant), with honey (marginally healthy) and not white sugar (not even a little bit healthy).  Baby steps.


I have a cold.  I am very put out about it.  I'm trying not to whine, because it could be so much worse - there are people out there with actual diseases, who would be delighted if their biggest health problem was a cold.  But damnit!  This is an inconvenient time to get sick!!  I was doing so well with "phase 3," but I honestly think I'd die if I got on the elliptical with this cold (exercise induced asthma... and besides, even if I didn't have that, I can't breathe without coughing).  I haven't exercised in a couple days, now, and I know that with every day that passes, it's going to be harder to get back on.  All the progress I made!  I could spit.

The kids are bored.  They have a little sniffle, but they're past the worst of it.  I can't even really read them books because my throat hurts.  BJ probably has it, too, but he's being stoic, as usual. 

No one is going to the doctor unless we start bleeding from our eyes, because I'm sick to death of paying $25 to hear, "It's a virus, it'll be 2 weeks if we treat it, 14 days if we don't.  Keep doing what you're doing..." 

Now watch, we'll all have pneumonia or something...  Murphy's Law of Co-Pay Avoidance?

I managed to go to work yesterday and get stuff done, mainly because the kids were at home with Allison so I knew I wouldn't be able to rest any if I left work, anyway.  My Facebook friends and I decided that we need to open "nap boutiques" for busy parents - where you can check in for a couple of hours and have a nap while someone else watches your kids.  Wouldn't that be nice?  Kind of like a "by the hour" motel, but less seedy. 

And without the vibrating beds...

Anyway, the forecast today is frustrated, congested, and not at all happy about it.  I'm on a soup and tea diet until further notice.  If I feel really ambitious later, I'm going to try to fold the laundry that's been upstairs waiting for me for days.  Maybe I'll try to vacuum, since Allison cleaned the toyroom (LOVE Allison - I wish I could clone her and give her to all my mommy friends for Christmas).  Or maybe I'll just sit here and read trashy romance novels on my Kindle all day...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Stroller Is Recalled, How About Yours?

I can't feel smug about not buying the uber-expensive strollers that got recalled because they amputate fingers, because now the much more reasonably priced Graco strollers have a recall, too.  And this time, mine is among the strollers recalled.

Check out the "protective cover" they've come up with:

Because no child has ever figured out how to undo Velcro!  Sheesh.  It also looks like crap, and it probably interferes with the operation of the canopy.  I guess if we do have another baby, I'll be buying another stroller.  That's all right, the one we have has lasted through two kids, zero amputated fingers, and probably has over 100,000 miles on it.

In other news, I came down with the pretty babies' cold.  We took a lovely long nap this afternoon.

I seem to have broken through the plateau I was complaining about last week.  The weight loss has slowed, which is to be expected, but not stopped.  Prior to coming down sick, I had worked my way up to 30 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on the stationary bike.  I'm not sure what my goal should be...  An hour of cardio a day?  An hour of cardio every other day, with weights in between?  We have weights somewhere in the garage.  Weights intimidate me.  I'm afraid I'll do it wrong and hurt myself.  I probably should spring for a gym membership and a trainer, but I do a lot better when I work out in solitude, and I don't have to feel self-conscious about my bright red face and profuse sweat.

Actually, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are a problem, because while BJ has switched back to working out on the bike (he doesn't love the elliptical), he wants to be in the spare bedroom/home gym on the bike at the same time that I want to be in there on the elliptical in the morning.  Not only is this not cool because he sees me get all red like a sweaty tomato, but it forces me to watch sci fi. 

I might have to become a person who exercises at night.  That hasn't ever worked for me, though.  Mainly because I don't like taking two showers in a day - it dries out my hair and skin.  Nighttime exercise would also have to take place between about 9 and 11 pm - after dinner is over and cleaned up and the kids are in bed.  That's prime "together time" for BJ and I, and I don't want to give it up.  Plus, doesn't it interfere with your sleep to exercise that close to bedtime?

I don't know what to do.  Maybe skip work on Tuesdays and Thursdays during preschool, so I can work out at home while everyone's gone?  BJ won't love that.  Maybe I just need to get over myself and work out with BJ in the room.  I could wear headphones, or we could alternate who gets to choose the entertainment.

How funny, that he's seen me at my most gross, vulnerable, and primal twice (when I gave birth), but I'm uncomfortable with him watching me work out.

Yep, I think I'm going to have to get over myself.

Speaking of the diet, I've tried a couple more products that I want to share with you!  Wishbone Salad Dressing has a ranch flavored spray - 10 squirts is only 15 calories.  I had it for lunch and it was a reasonable facsimile of ranch.  Also, Jello Mousse?  The caramel creme is amazing!  60 calories.  I've started drinking green tea once a day for the antioxidants.  I'm still not convinced that antioxidants aren't bullshit, but I figure it can't hurt, and I like tea.  I usually have it once a day anyway.  I've been drinking it with Truvia sweetener, so 0 calories on that!  Yay!  Truvia doesn't taste quite like sugar, but it doesn't have the obnoxious aftertaste that Sweet N Low has.  Finally, Kellogg's Fiber Plus granola bars taste great, and make you feel like you've eaten candy for 130 calories.  I still love the Chex Mix Turtle Bars, also 130 calories, but I think the Kellogg's ones are a little bit healthier.  Lots of fiber - 35% of your RDA, which is kind of awesome.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Profundity Has Been Published

Right in between Jane Austen and Bernard Avishai, on pages 24 - 25 of this book, you will find three quotes by yours truly, in an actual book that my friend Mike Muth compiled.

You can get your copy for a Kindle here.  If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a copy of the "Kindle for PC" or "Kindle for iPhone" program at the same link.  If you don't use a PC or an iPhone, you'll have to wait for Amazon to come out with a "Kindle for Mac" program, or buy a Kindle (Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)). 

This kind of thing only serves to encourage me...  Hee!

We Have a Winner!

Yesterday I challenged you to clean out your medicine cabinets, look for products that are recalled (Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, etc.), throw out anything expired, and make sure that everything was out of the kids' reach.  To make it fun, I said we'd have a contest to see who could find the oldest product.

Several of you played along, both here and on Facebook, finding medications that would be in school by now if they were children.  But my friend Beckett (who I met online years and years ago, long before blogs and Facebook existed) was the clear winner.  She found this 90 year old tooth powder in her cabinet!  But wait, there's more...  She also found mustard plasters that date back to the 1900s - 1910s!

When I asked her why she was holding on to her great-grandparents' medicine, Beckett said, "Actually, it was meant to be decor, and during the Great New Year's Resolution detox (of last year) it went into the cabinet. (I have tooth powder in there too. Still with stuff in it:) But it is about 10 years newer than the plasters."

The label on the plasters says, "If the skin is delicate, as in children or many women, place a strip of wet muslin between the skin and the plaster."  Cute!

According to Wikipedia, mustard plasters are used to "stimulate healing" on the chest or abdomen.  Illnesses that call for a plastering of mustard include "common colds, runny noses, rheumatism and problems with the respiratory system."  This line cracked me up: 

"The paste resembles the Chinese mustard sauce served with eggrolls in many American Chinese restaurants."

So Beckett, if you have any 100 year old eggrolls lying around, you are all set!

You guys are fun!  What should we clean out next?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Project

There's a pretty big recall going on that involves Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Rolaids, Simply Sleep, and St. Joseph products.  It's a very good time to go through and check any Tylenol, Motrin, etc. products you find in your cabinet against the list of recalled products.  It's also a very good time to go through the medicine cabinet(s) and throw out anything expired. 

Want to make it more fun?  Let's see who has the oldest product (Mom!!) lurking in his or her medicine cabinet.  I found something that expired in 2005.  I know you can do better than that.

So, whoever finds the oldest product wins a prize.  (Perhaps the tall kitchen-sized garbage bag full of expired products and 75% used-and-the-rest-is-dried-up lotions and soaps that I cleaned out of my cabinets?).  We'll use the honor system - no photographic evidence required (although if you want to e-mail me pictures, I could post them as follow up!).  Leave a comment with the expiration date of your oldest medicine cabinet find!

Where do you keep medicine in your house?  We have several places - a tall linen cabinet in the bathroom downstairs, the medicine cabinet downstairs, the medicine cabinet upstairs, and an old sewing cabinet that we hung in our bedroom.  As long as you're going through everything, please make sure that everything is out-of-reach-of-children.  You can't rely on childproof packaging - it's more adultproof than anything else!

(The picture, from Wikimedia Commons, is of reproductions of Civil War era medications on display at a reenactment of the battle of Corydon.  I'll be impressed if anyone can come up with anything that old!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Why

I've always been an "all or nothing" person.  So, one random Tuesday I'd decide to finally Get Fit!  I'd buy a new outfit, join a gym or buy equipment for the house, go to the gym or use the equipment religiously for three days and work out for an hour and a half, buy a grocery cart full of diet food, quit smoking, hate life, and quit all of these healthy new ways by the weekend.

I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I've lived that sentence.  Probably every 4 - 6 months since I turned 18.  I am not exaggerating at all - ask BJ how many gym memberships we've paid for and never used!

"I can't do it," I'd think.  "I'm not meant to be fit.  My body was designed to weigh XXX pounds.  Look at my family!  They all weigh XXX pounds or more, too!  I'm never going to look different.  Other people are better, stronger, smarter, more worthy, etc. than I am because they can exercise and I can't..."  On and on would go those horrible "mind tapes" that I talked about the other day.

Well, this time I decided to be less of an idiot. 

I quit smoking in October.  I let that sit for a while - about 30 days - before I started eating better.  Then I kept that up for 30 days (a little more, actually, because of the holidays).  Then I started exercising when Brandon gave us his elliptical.

During the time when I was eating better, and losing weight, but not exercising (yet) people kept telling me, "You have to exercise!!" but I resisted until it was time to implement what I called "phase 3," because I knew that this time I wasn't going to bite off more than I could chew.  And it's working...

The first night, about two weeks ago, I tried the elliptical.  I stayed on for 5 minutes and had an asthma attack.  But instead of playing all of my "I can't..." tapes, I decided, "Well, ok, that was 5 minutes.  I'll try it again tomorrow."

That day I did 10 (with my inhaler close at hand).  No asthma attack.

A couple days later I did 15 minutes.  Then 20.  Then 25.  Then I added 5 minutes of "cool down" on the bike.

Today I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on the bike.  Was it hard?  Yeah, a little.  It'll be easier tomorrow.  And when it gets too easy, I'll add another 5 minutes (or I'll up the resistance on the machine).

The thing I've learned, the thing that took me 33 years to learn, is that you can't just up and change EVERYTHING on some random Tuesday.  You have to give your body and your mind time to adjust to new practices.  It's all about gradual, incremental changes.

If I had tried to do 30 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on the bike two weeks ago when Brandon brought the elliptical over, I would've been in pain (I probably would've been in the hospital, actually.  Stupid asthma...).  I would've hated every second of it, and I would be hanging laundry on the damn thing by now.

Gradual, incremental changes.  That's not so hard.  Why did it take me 33 years to figure it out?

It's really hit home for me this week that the changes I'm making are going to prolong my life.  My aunt Ann is in the hospital in Tennessee.  She had chest pain yesterday, and is having an angiogram today.  She is in her early 60s.  Heart disease is the #1 killer of both women and men in the United States - it kills more people every year than all forms of cancer combined.  My dad has had a quadruple bypass a couple years ago.  My mother's father died of heart disease.  High blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes run rampant through my family tree.

...and my kids' family tree.

With every step I took on the elliptical today, I thought of Ann.  And I thought about how, for the first time, my kids are starting to play "exercise."  Mary Grace will run in place, and I'll say, "What are you doing?" and she'll say, "My exercise!"

I'm not just changing my future.

I hope that if you're reading this, and you've been thinking about changing your own unhealthy habits, regardless of what they are, that you'll try what I suggested above.  Just start with 5 minutes.  And in a couple days, when you're stronger, try 10.  Just start with one meal a day.  Try making dinner truly healthy.  Worry about lunch next week, and breakfast the following week.  Just add one vegetable or one fruit to your daily diet.

Don't do it for me.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for your kids.

I love you, Ann.  Get well soon.

Updated to add:  Ann is going to be fine.  It wasn't a heart attack, thank goodness.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Bunch of Disjointed Fragments of Thoughts

1) I was reading an article about body size and the "ideal" body women should aspire to, and it struck me as interesting that the "ideal" for women, right now, is to be a size zero.





Is that really what we want for ourselves, and for our daughters?  To aspire to be something that is synonymous with nothingness?  (Not to mention extremely unhealthy for 99.9% of women).

Can't we do better than that?  In our post-post-feminist world, can't we give our kids something better to aspire to than nothing?

I'll tell you what, I'd rather have daughters who are a healthy size 10 or 12 or 14 with happy, productive, fulfilling lives than a couple of coat hangers who spend every moment obsessed with not eating.  (And I say that as someone who is dieting, and therefore currently obsessed with not eating).

1.5) But the thing is, I'm dieting because my starting weight (SW) was unhealthy.  I don't give a rip what I look like, honestly.  As long as BJ can still stand to see me and be seen with me, I'm fine.  I'm looking forward to buying clothes that look better (because they're all designed to be worn by those size zeroes, right?), but not as much as I'm looking forward to being able to breathe at the top of a really long flight of stairs.  If someone could promise me that my SW wouldn't kill me, I would've stayed there.  I'd still smoke if someone could promise me that I wouldn't get cancer.  But just like smoking, being heavy will kill you eventually, so I want to be less heavy so that I can live to see my grandkids.

I think I had to get to the point where it was about health, and not looks, for all of this self-improvement to work, to be honest... which brings me to point #2.

2) Healing High School

Facebook is a seriously interesting cultural phenomenon for people my age.  Someone could write a book.

I've been out of high school for 15 years (where did that time go?) and I stayed in touch with very few people from that era.  It wasn't deliberate, people just drift apart.  But now people drift back together, through Facebook, and I find myself "friends" with people I'd left behind, and who had left me behind.

And you know what?  It's amazing.

It's amazing to have reached a place of maturity, where we can come together and one person can say, "Hey, I'm sorry I was an asshole," and the other person can say, "We were kids, it's all good," and we can let go of all those old hurts that we all carry around.  We all carry them because high school is brutal (and middle school is worse).  That's why movies like The Breakfast Club are so timeless and classic - because what we go through in school, those rights of passage, are universal.  They happened to all of us, whether we're "preps" or "jocks" or "geeks" or "nerds."

Even if it's never said aloud, a few cautious, friendly comments back and forth, and I no longer feel hurt over the girl who totally ditched me for a new set of friends when we left elementary school for middle school, because I'm too busy talking with her about her baby's fever, and which kind of sling she likes best, and a recipe for amazing butt paste.  (Not that I sat here and agonized every day over what happened when I was 11 - that makes me sound pathetic and I'm not, I really have a full, productive, busy life where I don't obsess about things that happened 22 years ago, I promise - but those sad, hurtful memories are being replaced.  My tape of that girl that used to play in my head every time I drove past her house in Grammaland or heard her fairly common name has been replaced by more current tunes - songs of us being adults, and moms, and it's better now because there's new data to replace the old.  I sure hope that makes sense.  That's why I called this "disjointed fragments of thoughts," because it may not...).

So now here we are, and we're all playing Mafia Wars and Farmville together.  We've all gotten older and wider (no, that's not a typo) and we've all become our parents.  And we're all ok.  That girl who hated the world, and me in particular?  Well, it turns out she had a lot of good reasons to - she had things going on at home that were horrendous.  I mean, really, really bad.  Now I can see everything she did through adult eyes, and through the lens of new knowledge.  Suddenly it all makes sense, and it's all ok.  The boy I always crushed on has finally said to me, "I didn't try to date you because I figured you were too smart for my bullshit!" and suddenly all the old feelings that screamed "I'm not good enough!" are gone.  I could give a dozen examples, but I'm sure you see my point.  In lots of small ways, all those little high school hurts are being healed.  All the scars I've carried (that we've all carried, if we're brave enough to admit it) are disappearing.

Which brings me to #3...

3)  Is it possible that in order to get healthy (finally) and to achieve meaningful weight loss (SW-20 with good batteries this time) for the first time in my life, I had to heal from high school?  Could it be possible that I finally believe I'm worth it - healthy food instead of fast food, nice clothes instead of jeans and t-shirts - because I'm healing all these tiny ancient wounds?

I strongly dislike it when Dr. Phil says, "You're fat because you're a psychological train wreck!"  I've always thought that's bullshit.  I've maintained for years (about 15, to be honest) that I'm not a size 10 (screw size 0 - I'm Scot/Irish, that will never happen for me) because I like to cook and I hate to exercise, and I'm sticking to that...  But I can't help but notice the correlation between all of these old hurts evaporating and my increased ability to stick with it this time.  I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Phil is a little bit right (even a broken clock is right twice a day, right?) and that Facebook, of all things, has helped me deal with all of the dysfunctional tapes in my head that used to say, "You're not good enough!"  Now they're starting to say things like, "You're really funny," and, "You really care about people," and, most importantly, "You're worth the effort that it takes to change."

Could Facebook be curing me of a lifetime of low self-esteem, which has led me to overeat and not make the effort to keep my body healthy?  What do you think?

Finally, 4) I thought your answers to the question I asked Monday were great!  If I could say it out loud, I would tell several people in my life, "The way you treat your family makes me absolutely sick.  You really need to grow up."

Maybe the folks I'd say that to really need Facebook!

Maybe these thoughts weren't so disjointed after all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Comment Here!

It appears that I've finally gotten rid of the spammers who were plaguing me with pervy Japanese comments.  I'm going to leave the word verification on, but I've taken off the setting that requires administrative approval before your comments appear.  When you comment, it should show up immediately from now on.  Thanks for your patience!

Let's celebrate with an interactive post, shall we?

If you could say anything to anyone without consequences, what would you say? 

Be as anonymous or as un-anonymous as you choose.  If you could really tell 'em off, let 'em have it, what would you say?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good thing...

It's a good thing that "blog every day" wasn't my New Years' resolution this year. Jeez.

One of the hard things about having kids is that just when you start to figure it out, things change. You get your legs back under you after having one to begin with, and the little bugger learns to crawl, or needs to eat solid food, or starts sleeping once a day instead of twice, or not at all instead of once. My kids are 4.5 and almost-3, and the constant changes still haven't stopped. We just get our fall schedule figured out, and it's winter break. We just get in a good bedtime routine and Daddy has a business trip and we have to start over. We just sort out who needs what when, and then someone gets the flu and our whole routine is turned on its ear. It's just life, and it's fine, but sometimes I think I'd like to stay in a groove where I feel like, yeah, I've got this, for more than 24 hours.

This constant state of change reminds me to be flexible. It reminds me to be humble (because most of the time, I so haven't got this). It reminds me that life keeps moving forward all the time, no matter what.

Right now, for the first time since Mary Grace was born, I feel like I have a little time in the daily routine to work on myself. That's a nice feeling. I kind of missed myself. Sometimes as a new mom you feel like you spend all of your time taking care of everyone else, and you wonder, "When is it my turn?" Well, the answer appears to be roughly when the littlest one is two and a half. When they can be trusted to sit and watch a movie while you take a shower, when they can entertain themselves the entire time it takes to make dinner, when you don't have to cart a diaper bag the size of the earth around with you everywhere, when getting out the door isn't a 20 minute process... that's when it gets significantly easier. Finally, I have time to take a breath in and let it out again without someone needing something (although while I was writing that, I had to get up and yell at Max for trying to go through the front window at a neighbor, whose mother brought the dog along while selling Girl Scout cookies to the neighborhood - and how good are we for not buying any??).

I'm thinking of my friend who just had her first baby, and wondering if she's thinking, as I did, "Will it always be this hard?" And I guess the answer is, "Yes and no." Yes, it's always going to be challenging, because your child is constantly going to develop and change - s/he'll keep you on your toes and you'll always be working on improving and responding to her needs. But no, it won't always be as hard as it is when they're new. It gets a tiny bit easier every day. And it appears to get a lot easier when they're about two and a half. That's the answer I wish I'd had when my kids were brand new.

I wish I could go back and tell myself.

PS - Happy Birthday Kelly! The girlies and I left you a voicemail at your parents' house - I couldn't find your cell phone number.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Day

The best part of this picture is that Max has one of the kids' shovels in her mouth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Well, I'm an idiot...

The battery was dying in the scale. Dur. I don't think I ever truly got to SW-25. I think that was the dying battery. I had to re-think and re-frame - would I have been happy with SW-15 if I had never seen that SW-25 measurement? Losing 15 pounds in 7 weeks is pretty impressive - that is over 2 pounds a week, and the 7 weeks in question span all the major winter holidays, so I'm ok with SW-15. In fact, I'm proud of SW-15. It's a healthy rate of loss. It's a sustainable rate of loss. It's a huge step in the right direction. And this time I know I will reach SW-25 and beyond. I'm making a real lasting change, not just dieting for a few weeks and then forgetting about it, like I have before. I've got a string of holiday-free weeks in front of me, and I've just added exercise and sugar substitute (in my afternoon and evening tea) this week, so I have nowhere to go but down from here. 15 pounds is more than I've ever lost in my life. I'm ok with 15.

I increased my elliptical to 20 minutes yesterday. I could probably do an hour, but I would hate every minute. I'm hoping that if I increase by 5 minutes every 3 or 4 days, I can gradually build up to an hour without all the screaming and cursing (not to mention the quitting) that I'd do if I did it all at once. The 5 minutes I did the night that Brandon dropped it off nearly killed me (I had an asthma attack, which didn't increase my feelings of well-being!). To be up to 20 minutes already is progress. Also, I'm getting up earlier in the morning, which is healthier. Good things, good things...

New Food I've Found

While BJ was gone earlier this week I found that I didn't have time to have breakfast (it didn't help that both days were trash days!) and get the kids to school on time. I hit McDonald's and got a 300 cal Egg McMuffin and a bag of apple dips (no caramel) the first day. The second day I went to Marsh and found that Jimmy Dean has a turkey sausage, egg white, cheese, and croissant breakfast sandwich that tastes WAY better than an Egg McMuffin (and is bigger!) and only has 290 calories. Woo hoo! 10 calories! But hey, every bit counts, right? So, I got a package of those to keep at the office. They're cheaper than McMuffins, too. I got four for the price of two McMuffins.

Morningstar Farm's grilled "chicken" patties are awesome. You can't even tell they're fake chicken. I had one for lunch today, on a 120 calorie wheat bun with some lettuce and a teaspoon of ranch. (I may switch from Ranch to Hellmann's light mayo - they sent me a taste test in the mail and I literally couldn't taste the difference between light and regular - I guessed wrong!). What is that - 80 calories for the "chicken" thing, 120 for the bun, 25 for the ranch, negligible lettuce - that's a 225 calorie sandwich. I could've added tomato, except the tomato I had was nasty. I also had a bowl of soup, for another 80 calories (Progresso Light Chicken & Dumpling). A very satisfying 305 calorie lunch... Not at all bad.

We tried Gimmie Lean brand "sausage" (what is up with me and the fake meat? I'll tell you - real meat has a lot of calories and fat!) last night. It was pretty blah in spaghetti sauce, but I froze what was leftover last night and had a quarter cup of it in an omelet (one egg, one egg white) this morning, with a slice of Kraft Fat Free Singles "cheese" - not bad! A piece of Aunt Millie's light bread, toasted, with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, and I had a really filling 211 calorie breakfast.

I also need to thank whoever is in charge of apples for making Honey Crisps available nearly year round. I can't stand red delicious or the other styrofoam-flavored apples that used to be available in the grocery stores. Gala are ok, but Honey Crisp are far superior, so thank you apple buyers everywhere.

Other Diet Related Stuff

At Mimi's urging, I watched the premiere of The Biggest Loser. She, and several of my other Facebook friends are fans. Before I reveal what I think about the whole thing (no fair cheating if you're a blog reader and a FB friend!), tell me what you think about the show. I'll save my thoughts for next week, after the second episode of the season airs.

Not Diet Related Stuff

We've gotten several inches of snow yesterday. It looks really pretty out there, as long as I don't have to go anywhere. We elected to skip gymnastics today, since there is no reason to go out in this if you don't have to. Grammaland is supposed to get up to 13 inches of snow over the next four days, so I hope all of you have all your bread, milk, and toilet paper (the things that always sell out when the forecast calls for a snowstorm!).

Oh, Right, the Kids...

They're fine. They're bored. Claire picked the wrong season to reach that "I won't keep my clothes on and you can't make me" age. Brrrr!

I think I'm going to have to spin off a diet blog. It's silly to keep writing about the diet in the mommyblog. What do you think? Keep it here or spin it off?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I have worked very hard at not making Pretty Babies into a diet blog, which is hard, because I'm thinking about food approximately 83% of the time right now (the other 17% of the time, I'm asleep and not dreaming about food). I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to eat next, and planning ahead so I don't just grab something easy, and thinking about what I wish I could eat - if I still ate whatever instead of counting calories like Scrooge counts pennies... I've actually thought about spinning off a diet blog, because it would be nice to be able to write about it, but I neglect my kids badly enough already...

Anyway, I've resisted as long as possible, but I have to talk about it right now, so if you don't want to read it, go with God... but come back tomorrow.

Ok, so are we all ready to talk about the most boring topic on the planet? Dieting? Good.

I am really frustrated. I got down to Starting Weight -25, right before Christmas. (This is NOT The Biggest Loser and the SW is extremely classified).

I was honestly as good as possible under the circumstances throughout the holidays. I mean, there isn't much you can do when you're traveling or visiting people in their homes without being a total pain in the butt. I did as well as I could with the parties and the appetizers. I am not blowing smoke or deluding myself or being dishonest here - I was really good. Not great, but really good. I had dessert a couple times, but the servings were small. I didn't pig out on cookies or candy at all. I tried to eat lots of fruit and veg and not a lot of fattening, high calorie stuff. I didn't even drink much.

Since SW-25 I have gained 10 pounds. I've been stuck at SW-15 for over a week. SW-25 happened on 12/21. I don't know if the (digital) scale was screwy that day or what, but this is so aggravating.

This, in spite of the fact that I've started using fake sugar (Ideal brand - it doesn't actually taste like sugar, but it's close, and less offensive than Sweet N Low) in my tea; in spite of the fact that I've started Phase 3 (exercise) this week; in spite of the fact that I have been under my daily calorie allotment (which is set at "lose 1.5 pounds per week") for a week (and far, far more often than not over the last 6 or 8 weeks - however long I've been torturing myself).

Can anyone help a girl out here? What is going on? It's so hard to behave when I'm not seeing the results anymore. I'm not homicidal like I was after that first week, but I'm pretty despondent, here. Any suggestions you have for getting back on track are most welcome. Encouragement is welcome, too. I need all the help I can get right now.

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Post-Holiday Poem

It's the day after New Years, and trapped in this house
I have spent enough time with my children and spouse.
The stockings are hung from the chimney askew
'Cause Claire tried to wear them instead of a shoe.

The meals have been eaten, and bloated I feel
Because ham made appearances at every meal.
The gifts are all opened, the boxes are trashed,
The post-Christmas prices have all become slashed.

We've spent time out shopping, at malls and at stores,
We've watched tons of movies on couches and floors.
We've visited parents and uncles and aunts,
We're no longer able to button our pants.

There's not been much learning, as school has been closed,
And my daughters' attitudes have decomposed.
So I bundle them up and shove them out the door,
"Mommy," I say, "Cannot take anymore!"

"Shovel the sidewalks," I shout, "After that,
"Shovel the neighbors'! And don't lose your hat!
"When I was your age," I exclaim to MG,
"My mom threw me out until quarter to three!"

I watch through the window as they stand there and sweat,
The cold hasn't gotten through their layers yet.
They're dazed and confused and they're starting to pout,
Because their dear mother has just put them out.

"It's that or I'll strangle them both," I explain,
"And it's all the school's fault! They are solely to blame!
"In our moment of need they've abandoned us all,
"This mommy," I cry, "Has just hit the wall."

"I can't take much more of this so-called vacation,
"It's far too much work, and too much frustration.
"I'm calling it off!" I declare in a huff
"Christmas is over, enough is enough!"