Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Abuse Your Chicken! (And more diet tips... And a recipe!)

In addition to figuring out how to eat, apparently I'm still figuring out how to cook.

Have you ever noticed that a chicken breast at a restaurant tastes like 1000 times better than a chicken breast at home?

I figured out why.

They abuse the chicken in restaurants.

I've been just rinsing off my boneless skinless chicken breasts (yes, I can cut up a whole chicken into the right pieces, I just don't always want to, thank you very much) and using them the way they come packaged.  They're about as thick as they are wide, you know what I mean?

Well, folks, I am here to tell you that if you pound them with a mallet (or a rolling pin if you're nutty like me) until they're about 1/2 inch thick, it's a whole new world! 

Here's what you do - put the chicken in a Ziplock bag and beat the stuffin' out of it.  You want to start at the middle and kind of work your way to the edges, abusing firmly and yet not so much that you've got chips of chicken flying all over. 

Don't worry.  Chicken is very forgiving.  Even if you gouge the top, it's not going to matter once it's cooked.

Oh, and you want to pound on the side where the skin was, not the side where the ribs were.

Although I occasionally flip mine over just to be thorough.

There really aren't any rules here.

When you use the chicken as packaged, it takes eons to cook through, resulting in chicken that's dry and half-burned on the outside and still pink on the inside, right?  You end up having to nuke it while your husband is politely spitting half cooked chicken into his napkin and suggesting take out.

When you beat it (pause so you can all hum Michael Jackson........  ok, moving right along) before you cook it, several things happen:

1) the beating itself breaks down the tissue in such a way that it's much more tender and easy to chew. 
2) it cooks more evenly (because it's a more uniform thickness), which leads to...
3) it stays juicy and doesn't dry out and taste like shoe leather.

And DIET BONUS - it looks like a huge portion.  Do not underestimate the impact your eyes have on how hungry or full you feel.  They've done experiments where people eat breakfast on one day without a blindfold, then they blindfold them the next day, and they inevitably eat more when they can see what's on the plate.  Your eyes have a huge influence on your appetite ("eyes bigger than stomachs" etc.) so if the portion looks huge you'll feel fuller even though you've eaten the same amount less.  (Incidentally, this is also why I eat my soup in these cute square serving dishes (mine are solid colors, not tiled, but anyway) that my Bonus Mom got me from Pampered Chef instead of from a big bowl - it looks like more soup in the cute square dish).

So tonight I got a package of 3 chicken breasts and I figured that each one was roughly 10 ounces (hello, Dolly!).  Make sure you're weighing your chicken (or at least looking at the package weight and dividing by the number of pieces in there) because one chicken breast is not a serving.  Remember, a serving of meat is 4 ounces.  A ten ounce chicken breast is two and a half servings.

I rinsed off the chicken in cold water.  I always do this.  I don't know if it does any good, but I do.  Then Claire and I got out our rolling pins and beat them down (inside a Ziplock bag) until they were about 1/2" thick.  I put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and sprayed it with Pam.  Then I sprinkled each breast with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and garlic powder.  After that I measured a tablespoon of bread crumbs (Progresso) and sprinkled one tablespoon onto each of the 3 chicken breasts.  Then I took out the butter and shaved off the thinnest slices I could manage with a sharp knife, and placed two extremely thin pats of butter on top of each breast...  I'm estimating that it was a total of a tablespoon of butter, but it was probably less.

I baked 'em for about 20 minutes, maybe 25, in a 375 oven.

When they were done I let them "rest" for a minute (they'd been through a lot!  Beaten, baked...).  Then I sliced each one in half. 

The kids each ate 1/4 of a breast, and BJ and I each had a half, which means that one package of chicken is now good for two meals in our house, not just one.  Bonus!!  (Makes six 5 ounce servings that weigh in at 208 calories each, and only 3.33 grams of fat.  I've named this recipe "Abused Chicken," and you can find it on

You can absolutely lose weight on a budget.  If this isn't a cheap, quick, healthy, tasty meal, I don't know what is!  I served it with frozen broccoli/cauliflower/carrot blend (bought in bulk at Walmart for around $6 I think, and it's easily enough for 6 meals for the family) and Stove Top.  Have I told you my trick for Stove Top yet?

You know how it says to boil 1-1/2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of butter, then add the package and wait, then "fluff."  Well, I've been using 1-3/4 cups of water and 10 - 15 squirts of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, and so far no one has noticed.

When you do this, you can count the "as packaged" calories (110) rather than the "as prepared" calories (160) per serving, plus it's lower fat.  Serving size - 1/2 cup.

Also, I don't add butter to Kraft Mac & Cheese anymore.  Just a splash of milk.  No one has noticed.

What clever tricks have you figured out?

Beautiful Day!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

If You Give a Claire a Potato Chip

If you give a Claire a potato chip, she may start to exhibit symptoms.  Symptoms which might cause you to spaz and call the triage nurse at your doctor's office.  You might even curse a couple times when you find out that your doctor's on vacation.  The triage nurse might offer you an appointment in 15 minutes with the back-up doctor, to which you'll reply, "Do you think it's that serious??" and she'll say, "No, but I think you should get her checked out today..." and you'll be like, "Ok, but I'm not dressed."  You'll be horrified that it's 10:45 am and you just admitted that you weren't dressed to someone who has probably been at work since 7:30 am.  (In your defense, though, you will have been folding laundry all morning, which does not require clean, silky hair)

The triage nurse will give you an appointment at 2 pm.  Then you'll call your mom and she'll tell you that Claire has Celiac's disease and you'll spaz, thinking of all the birthday cake that your poor baby will miss out on if that's true.  Then you'll Google.

Never Google.

Just.  Step.  Away.  From.  The.  Google.

And by the time your dad (the nurse) takes his turn on Words With Friends, you'll be in full panic mode, wondering if 3 year olds can get Colon Cancer.

In your defense, you will have watched My Sister's Keeper the night before, and you'll still be pissed that they screwed up the ending and therefore the whole point of the damn story!  And you also might still be a little bit freaked out that something like that could happen to a child, and when you think about your kids in proximity to that thought, you might increase your blood pressure.

A lot.

So you'll frantically call Dad and say, "Thank God you're up, Claire has colon cancer!" and he'll be all, "No she doesn't," because your dad has known you for 33 years, and he knew you when you diagnosed yourself with prostate cancer.  And he'll say, "You know what really screws me up?  That Olestra stuff..." and then you'll remember.

You fed her the Pringles.

The ones with Olestra.

And that caused the mucus.

That caused all the panic.

And when you call at 1 pm to cancel your 2 pm appointment, they might laugh at you, but at least they won't charge you the penalty.

Because if they charge you the penalty, Claire will probably want a potato chip to go with it.

(In other news, Mary Grace lotteried into the charter school.  We're still hoping for the neighborhood school, but it's nice to have a choice - between the charter school and continuing one more year of preschool at our current school, that is - for pretty much the last time between now and college.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Helpful Diet Hints

BJ bought some dried apricots at the store.  They're so sweet, they taste like candy!  They have lots of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber and are very filling, and a serving is 6 pieces coming in at just a hair over 100 calories.  WIN!

Check your condiments.  Now that I look back on the way I used to eat, I think I was taking in 1000 calories a day (literally!) in condiments.  From the 4 or 5 cups of coffee (with Coffee Mate fat free vanilla creamer) a day (2 tbsp is 50 calories...  so 200-300 calories a day), to the ranch dressing that I put on EVERYTHING (2 tbsp is about 150 calories), to the cheese that I put on everything (one ounce of cheese = about 100 calories), to the butter that I put on everything (100 calories per tablespoon), to the jelly I put on sandwiches and toast (full sugar is about 50 calories for one tbsp, depending on the flavor, we like strawberry), to the syrup that I had on pancakes about twice a week (1/4 cup of regular syrup is about 200 calories!!), I was consuming an ENTIRE DAY'S WORTH of calories just in "extras"!!!

So if condiments are your nemesis too, what do you do?  Well, you limit yourself to a cup or two of coffee per day (or try to learn to love it black...  I'm working on it).  You find lower calorie alternatives to ranch (mustard has 0 calories and is just as good on a chicken sandwich).  Light salad dressings are a lot easier on the calories, and they taste ok.  Light cheese (either 2% or fat free) can be subbed in for its full fat cousin.  I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray is no-cal, and tastes great on cooked vegetables and toast.  Light sugar jelly tastes just as good and has about half the calories (25 for a tablespoon of strawberry).  And sugar free syrup (made with Splenda) is only 20 calories for a 1/4 cup, instead of 200!!!

I don't like a lot of "diet food" either - it's all chemicals - so I use these things sparingly.

Let's compare a few "old way" meals to a few "new way" meals...

2 eggs, scrambled - 140 calories
1 piece of high calorie wheat toast with 1 tbsp butter - 75 + 100 - 175 calories
3 pork sausage links - 260 calories
4 cups of coffee with 2 tbsp of full fat Coffee Mate Creamer in each - 320 calories

TOTAL:  895 calories

1 egg and 1 egg white, scrambled - 86 calories (usually with some frozen chopped peppers and onions blended in, might as well get an extra serving of veggies out of breakfast, right?)
1 piece of low cal bread with ICBINB Spray - 35 calories
3 turkey sausage links (Jimmy Dean) - 120 calories
2 cups of coffee with 2 tbsp fat free Coffee Mate Creamer in each - 100 calories

TOTAL:  341 calories

3 Aunt Jemima Pancakes - 160 calories
1/4 cup regular syrup - 200 calories
1 tablespoon butter - 100 calories
3 pieces of bacon - 150 calories
1 cup 2% milk - 130 calories

TOTAL:  740 calories

3 Aunt Jemima Pancakes - 160 calories
1/4 cup sugar free syrup (Log Cabin) - 20 calories
ICBINB Spray - 0 calories
1 apple - 80 calories
1 cup skim milk - 80 calories

TOTAL:  340 calories

Am I hungrier?  No.  Do I feel deprived?  No.  Jeez!  Why did it take me 33 years to figure this out??!!!?

Let's do lunch...

Big Mac - 500 calories
Large Fries - 540 calories
Medium Mocha Frappe - 560 calories

TOTAL:  IS A WHOLE DAY!!!  That is 1600 calories!!!!!  My calorie goal right now is 1465.  There is no room in my life for Big Macs anymore!  And if I'd eaten two tablespoons of ranch on those fries, which I totally did all the time, that's another 150 calories.  1750!  In one meal!  And I thought I was fairly healthy because we ate veggies every day....  *snort*

Progresso Light Soup - 50 - 100 calories per cup, pick your favorite
Grilled cheese with 2 pieces of light bread and a piece of Fat Free Kraft Singles - 95 calories
Fruit or cooked vegetables with ICBINB Spray - 50-100 calories depending on what it is

I'm every bit as full, and I don't get that mid-afternoon crash, and I've only eaten 200 - 300 calories!  PEOPLE!  This is not rocket science!

Do you see how easy it is?  You don't have to stop eating.  You just have to stop wasting calories on stupid foods that don't make you feel healthy or full. 

If you do nothing else, give up soda.  It is killing you.  A 12 ounce can of Coke has 140 empty calories.  And have you seen the news about the rat study, where they fed rats an equal number of calories, but group 1 got sugar and group 2 got High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?  The group 2 rats got FATTER on the same number of calories!  Madness!!  It does something crazy to your metabolism.  Get rid of it as much as possible.  Don't mainline it by drinking Coke!

And now they're saying that artificial sweeteners do stupid things to your metabolism too (Hail Purdue!), so use them as sparingly as possible.

Switch to thin crust pizza.  Give up Starbucks (it's bad for your waist and your wallet).  Find a bread that you love that has fewer calories than the usual (and while you're at it, find one that's got more grain and less refined flour, and no HFCS!).  Eat more fruit.  Buy the 100 calorie "mini" bagels instead of the 300 calorie huge ones.  Stop eating before you feel "full" - if you feel "full" at the table, you've overeaten, and you're going to feel gross in about 20 minutes.

Look, I know I'm turning into one of those obnoxious people who is constantly going on and on and on about diet and food...  But it's important to me to share this information with all of you.  Maybe it's my purpose in life to give you the tools I've found so that you can be healthy too!  It's NOT about looking like a coat hanger.  It IS about feeling good and being healthy.  Period!  If you eat more "New Breakfasts" and "New Lunches" and fewer of the old, you WILL lose weight, just like I have. 

You can do it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This is what you get...

...when you judge wine by its bottle. This may become my new signature drink!

Friday, March 26, 2010


My friend Susan has cancer.  Again.  And I am really pissed about it and I feel very helpless sitting here hundreds of miles away where I can't even take her a casserole.  So, in her honor I am reposting an article she wrote when she was first diagnosed. 

You can click through to read it there, or read it here, but please read it.  Ok?

And if you believe in prayer, send one up for WhyMommy, please.  

Inflammatory breast cancer

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hair cut

This is the hair cut Claire got after I threatened to cut her hair about 10,000 times, and after she had to have her finger cut out of it twice. I was hesitant to do it (obviously, with all the threats) but I think it turned out really cute!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Late Night Edition

After I posted this morning, I went to work for the afternoon, came home, made dinner, went to Casey's for a "Creative Memories" party, came home again, watched Lost and Parenthood, and here we are...

But I couldn't go to bed without thanking you for the all of the wonderful comments, Facebook messages, e-mails, phone calls, chats, and face-to-face love and support that you have shown me today. 

Thank you.

I wish everyone could experience the kind of support that I've received today.  The world would be a better place.

You make me brave.

This is me, straight out of the camera and completely unPhotoShopped, at 174 pounds.  I started at 215.  My highest (un-pregnant) weight was 222.  I have lost 48 pounds since then.  My goal is 135.  I am over halfway there.

I think I could lose another two if I got a haircut, what do you think?

(The before picture that I posted earlier was from our trip to Florida in October, 2009.  I started dieting on November 15, 2009.)

Where are the pictures?

I'm closing in on -50 pounds.  Since November, many of you have asked for pictures.

The reason why I haven't posted them is complicated.

When you're fat... and let's not mince words, I was fat.  In fact, at -48 I'm still fat.  When I was at my highest weight, I weighed exactly 100 pounds more than my sister.  I'll tell you what, the only thing more depressing than having lost 50 pounds and still being fat is having 100 pounds to lose when you begin.  But anyway...

When you're fat, you're kind of invisible.  People NEVER comment on how you look.  Ever.  If they do, it's "Have you lost weight?" even though both of you know the answer is "no."  I'm sure there's some deep psychological significance there (maybe people just tend to remember me as even larger than I am?) but I don't want to think about it right now.

So, you kind of go through life like one of those inevitable headless people walking down the city street on a news program where they're talking about how fat Americans are - you've seen it.  Fat people are anonymous.  We are  unseen.

Or at least, that's how it feels.

So you see, for a very very long time, too long for me to even really remember, I've been comfortable with my invisibility.  I wore it like a cloak.  It made me feel safe.

I am more self-conscious now, at -48, than I was at my starting weight.  I look at myself in the mirror, and I see nothing but flaws.  I hate my nose.  I never hated my nose in my life, but it looks like a beak to me now, and I hate it!  I've started wearing make up, because whenever I see someone who hasn't seen me for a while, they say, "Look at you!" and I cringe.  The fat girl doesn't want to be seen.  She wants to hide.  She wants to stay invisible - behind flesh, behind make up, behind the kids.  She knows you can see her, now, and it's really scary.

She can't even talk about it in the first person.

It's easier for me to post that picture of my starting weight body than it is for me to post a picture of what I look like today. 

Because what if I lose all 100 pounds, and I'm still ugly?  Then what will I do?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Adults Only - This Is Why I Love The 'Net

Have you heard of this Chat Roulette thing?  This is what kids are doing these days, and we parents need to be on top of these things (see how I'm tying this into the whole MommyBlog gig?).  So you sign in with your webcam and you hit "go" and you video chat with random strangers.  I haven't done this, mainly because it's reportedly 90% people showing their daddy parts, if you know what I mean, and now because I'm afraid I'm going to end up in a YouTube video.

Ok, so about a week ago I saw this video go by.  As it says, "This video may contain swears," so save this for nap time, kids.  Or do what I did and put on a video so your kids will ignore you.

And it's AWESOME!  It elevates this whole ChatRoulette thing to an art form, even though it contains swears.  And a lot of people hear the piano style and the voice, and they see the glasses and the obvious disguise hoodie and the name "Merton" (no one is really named Merton), and they think, "OMFG that's Ben Folds!!!"

I love Ben Folds, by the way.  We saw him in concert and it was awesome.  He's so talented and he totally seems like the kind of guy you could have a few beers with, right? 

And this morning I'm checking my RSS feeds and I find this:


Now I'm thinking I may have to get on ChatRoulette, after all, so that I have a shot at being in a Ben Folds video!

And now you know what's going on with the rest of the Internet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010


This question merits its own post... 
chicagogoebel ( left a new comment on "Define "Wrong"":

Amy -

I've been on the straight and narrow for 2 weeks now and I'm -4! It feels so good!! I love livestrong, so thank you so much for the recommendation!

My question is this...what are your go-to lunch meals? I'm doing pretty good staying within my calorie goal, but I've eaten A LOT of Subway over the last 2 weeks and need a bit more variety. :) I don't always have time to pack my own lunch and try to grab lean cuisines, but again, would like to have variety. Just thought I'd see what you've found to be tasty.

Congrats on nearing -50! I'm so looking forward to blazing past -10 and to never.look.back.
GOOD FOR YOU!  I am so excited that you've lost 4 pounds, that is SUPER!  Starting is the hardest part.

Lunch is my favorite meal.  I'm going to go back through Livestrong and tell you what I've eaten for the past week:


Progresso Light Beef Pot Roast Soup (80 cal), with leftover cooked red potato (100 cal) and carrots (35 cal) from St. Pat's Day - total calories - 215.  (I used spray butter and salt and pepper on the potato, so this meal was only 1 gram of fat, too!)


Half a leftover chicken breast - (4 oz, or 120 calories), 1/2 cup corn (80 cals), 3/4 apple (because Claire stole 1/4 of it!!  60 cal) - total 260 calories.


Progresso Light Beef Pot Roast Soup (80 cal), two slices of Aunt Millie's Light Bread (35 cals each) and one slice of fat free Kraft Single "cheese" (25 cals) cooked with I Can't Believe... spray for a light grilled cheese.  Total 175 calories (I was saving up for corned beef and cabbage that night!).

Tuesday (at my friend Casey's house):

KFC Chicken Breast without skin (140 cal); sweetened applesauce (90 cal); 1/2 cup canned green beans (20 cal); 1/4 tbsp margarine (in the beans - 25 cal).  Total 275 calories.


Homemade chicken noodle soup (guesstimated at about 150 calories); 1 oz of tiny twist pretzels (100 calories).  Total:  250 calories.

Are you seeing a trend?  My lunch trick is SOUP and LEFTOVERS!

I'll tell ya, those Progresso Light Soups are a freaking miracle.  Yeah, they're high in sodium (but so is Lean Cuisine!), so if you're watching your blood pressure you probably want to go low-salt or make your own, but they're filling and hot and full of vegetables and all kinds of healthy goodness.  You have a microwave available if you're doing frozen dinners, so just take a bowl and a spoon and a can of soup.  It's cheaper than Lean Cuisine too.  I got my soups 4 for $5 last time I went to Kroger, without a coupon.

I usually have a snack at 3 pm, something in the 100 - 200 calorie range, generally a piece of fruit and one of those "100 calorie" packs of cookies or something.  I agree that my 200 - 300 calorie lunches aren't going to keep you full until dinner.  They aren't meant to.  As Sarah said in her comment on Facebook, lots of small meals are healthier than two or three large meals.

As long as we're being specific, I've been eating Vitatops for breakfast with my coffee.  I nuke 'em for about 20 seconds.  Yum!  It's like eating a brownie for breakfast, and they're more nutritious than an apple.  SOLD!

I'm still in the habit of dinner being my largest meal, which isn't what's recommended anymore, but it's a lifelong habit that's hard to break - particularly when I don't have time for a big breakfast most days. 

So there it is, let me know if you have any other questions, and GREAT WORK!!

Define "Wrong"

Since I've started losing weight, I've told many people that everything I used to know about food was exactly wrong, but I haven't done a good job of defining what I mean.  The thing is, I thought I had a pretty decent diet, before.  I ate vegetables and fruits.  I liked salad.  I skipped breakfast most days, so I was really eating only two meals.  How could I have been overweight?  It must have been bad genes, right?

Wrong.  The thing is... now that I'm actually mindful of the number of calories in food, I'm horrified by how much I actually used to eat.

Name a restaurant.  Now, think of the highest calorie item on their menu.  That was my favorite.  It doesn't matter which restaurant - even fairly "healthy" ones - ones that have vegetables on the menu...  At Noodles it was the Mushroom Strogranoff with beef.  At Olive Garden it was the Fettuccini Alfredo (you might as well eat THREE of McDonald's Quarter Pounders with Cheese).

Here's a new rule - dishes named after people = bad.  Because the way it probably got that name is someone said, "Wow, did you see that fettuccine that Alfredo ate?  Stand back, because his heart is going to explode!"

But I didn't think I was being that bad!  When I cooked at home I always made a vegetable.  We ate fruit.  But we ate those vegetables and fruits ON TOP OF lots of high carb, high calorie, high fat dishes. 


You have to REPLACE some (most?) of the high carb, high cal, high fat stuff in your life with fruits and vegs if you want to lose weight.

Duh.  Tell me again why this took me 33 years to figure out?

Think of your daily calories as your bank account.  Every bite you eat takes a little bit of your total away.  Your exercise is your credit card - you exercise so that you have a little cushion, a little room to occasionally go over your calories and not get in trouble. 

You can completely lose weight without exercising, just like you can manage your household finances without a credit card.  It's just a little harder.

You'll quickly figure out that while you CAN eat a value meal at McDonald's for lunch and stay under your calories, you'll feel like crap and be hungry and cranky for the rest of the day.  It's self-defeating.  It's much better for you (and everyone around you) if you eat lots of (low cal) fruits and veggies (so you're full) and use higher calorie stuff like meat and cheese and carbs and fats sparingly.  You're fuller, you're getting the nutrients you need so you feel better, and you'll start to lose weight fairly quickly.

The first week sucks.  Put your head down and get through it until your stomach shrinks and you get used to eating less.  You can do it.

The other thing I used to do that was stupid was that I didn't pay attention to the little things, like butter and salad dressing and coffee creamer.  Holy calorie bombs!  I was probably drinking 500 calories worth of coffee per day, before.  DUH!  Now I limit myself to 2 cups of coffee (with 2 tablespoons of creamer in each, for about 100 calories per day).  If I really need the caffeine, I drink it black.  I rarely need the caffeine that badly.  :)

Who is the asshole that decided that it was a good idea to send ranch dressing with pizza?  At 75 calories per tablespoon, dipping your crust or your breadsticks into ranch is basically just adding insult to injury.  PASS!

You have to count everything.  And you have to decide, every time you put something in your mouth, whether or not it's worth it. 

You don't need a book or a diet plan cooked up by some "expert."  A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

You can still eat cake, ice cream, cookies, crackers, chips - all the stuff you love.  But you have to count it.  Somewhere around January 1, after the holidays, I realized that while I could (and did) still eat that stuff, it really wasn't worth it most days.  Most days I would rather eat broccoli and be full than eat sweets and be hungry.  I still had a (small) piece of cake on Claire's birthday, and it was fine.  I still lost weight that week because I counted it (actually I lost 4 pounds that week, go me!).

My goal is to eventually become intuitive when it comes to food, to be able to accurately guesstimate and not have to write every bite down...  I've gotten worlds better just in 5 months.  But if that never happens, that's ok.  It doesn't really take that much time or effort to write it down (especially with the Livestrong app on my phone!).  And if I have to devote 10 minutes a day to writing things down in order to lose 46 pounds (since 11/15/09!), so be it.  It's a small price to pay!

Go to and put in your height, your weight (your real weight, not your drivers license weight - the higher it is the more calories you get, anyway, so you might as well be honest or you'll be hungry and therefore unsuccessful), and choose "lose one pound a week." 

That's your bank account.  Are you going to spend it on what's going to make you feel good or are you going to spend it on crappy food that makes you feel crappy? 

(For the record, I'm not a doctor or a dietitian or anything, so check with your doctor and this isn't medical advice and blah blah blah disclaimer disclaimer, ok?) 

Today's the day!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gá mé Cócaire Nua!

That's the closest Gaelic equivalent to "I need a new crock pot!"*

I use my crock pot often.  The handle on the lid was melted in a tragic soup re-warming incident, so I've been wanting a new one for about a year.  But I make do because I have better things to spend fifty bucks on.  Well, I made did, I guess, until today.

I got up rather late, so I just threw the corned beef (I am a good Irish girl, of course I'm making corned beef!) and the water into the crock pot and left, hair half dried, to take the kids to school and go to work.  I came home at lunch time and it was no longer under water (it's supposed to simmer, right?) so I added water.  Then after lunch had been eaten I added the potatoes and carrots (because I finally had time to clean and peel them).

I'm not sure if it's because I keep messing with it, or if it's because the heating element is ka-put, but my corned beef is kind of ... not cooking.  Rather than simmering merrily away like an old man in a hot tub, it's languishing like a toddler in a lukewarm bath.  It's getting a wee bit pruney. 

I have cranked it up to high and said a prayer to St. Patrick (because he is the patron saint of salty meat, or something, right?).  But Dublin, we have a problem.  I need to shake my shillelagh if we're going to eat on time.

My soda bread looks delightful, though.  I made this recipe from Cooking Light.  I guess we won't starve.

As I was googling around trying to figure out how to spell "shillelagh" I found some cute Irish sayings:

"A cabin with plenty of food is better than a hungry castle."  Does that still count if the food is half cooked and we all get food poisoning?

"You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was."  (This is either an Irish saying or a quote from Abraham Lincoln.  The internet is divided).

"May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future."  (I used a variant of this in my toast at Barbara Dahling's wedding...  I said, "When you look back on this day, I hope it's the day you loved each other the least..." meaning that I hope their love grows throughout their marriage...  Yeah, I must have delivered it wrong, though, because half the crowd thought I was being nasty!  Whoops...)

And this one, which I think is especially fitting, as I think of all of you as my friends, whether I've met you or not...  "May your home always be too small to hold all your friends."

I think this is my favorite though:  "May you live one hundred years, with one extra year to repent!"

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Remember there are two sorts of people in the world - those who are Irish, and those who wish they were Irish! 

* Google Translate says Gá mé Cócaire nua = I need a new cooker!  It actually looks like it might mean "Get me a new cooker," which is a little more pushy, but we're going to go with it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clutter Threshold Status - Breached

(I had to look up whether it was "breached" or "breeched.")

Everywhere I look in my house, there is clutter.  There is not a single flat surface anywhere in this house that doesn't have something on it.  More likely than "something" is "a lot of somethings" and even occasionally "enough crap that the table/counter/dresser is bowing under the weight."

I could never be one of those people with hoarding disorder.  When the crap builds up to a certain level, I snap.  I start throwing things into the trash and the Goodwill pile with reckless abandon.  Once we get to that point, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

I've already cleaned the kitchen today, and I cleaned out the front hall closet.  I'm about to attack the toyroom. 

While BJ was home for lunch he helpfully put Mary Grace's Lego robot up....  on the mantle.  And I snapped.  "Are you kidding me?  Really?" 

I mean, it's a nice robot and all, but it certainly isn't something that needs to be displayed on the mantle like a trophy. 

If you're reading this and you're BJ, I refer you to yesterday's post, posted this morning, and the second bullet point specifically.

It's just not fair - there are three of them (five, if you count the pets, which in this case you should) and one of me, and they can mess things up a LOT faster than I can clean. 

So, if you're in the mood to clean and organize, come on over.  Bring your shovel.  And if I haven't come out within 24 hours, that probably means there was an avalanche.  Send rescue.  Chances are that I'm buried under a pile of Lego.

Lazy Sunday List

  • The Purple Birthday was amazing.  Thanks so much to everyone who made it a fun day for our big girl!  You mean the world to us, and it was great to see each and every single one of you.
  • I love my husband.  Not just love, I mean.... Love.  LOVE.  With a pink puffy glitter heart instead of an O.  He is the light of my life, the best Daddy in the world, and more than I ever believed I deserved in every way.
  • Casey posted pictures of the party, including pictures of me, and while there's still a lot of room for improvement, for the first time I didn't look at myself and cringe.
  • I really should be cleaning my house.  It's a disaster area.
  • We're having dinner with friends and we have to leave in just over an hour so you can guess how much cleaning is actually going to happen.
  • I am not at the grocery store right now, either, but I should be.  I am a complete slacker.
  • It's Pi day (3/14).  It's also the "spring ahead" day.  One of those makes me happy, the other makes me furious.  Indiana should be on Central Time!  NARG!!!
  • This is my favorite picture from yesterday so far, taken by Casey:

  • If you took pictures yesterday you can upload them to Evite, and they might end up here too!
  • I spend entirely too much time on the computer.
  • I forgot to hit "publish" yesterday. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Toaster waffles for breakfast, and presents before we even got dressed. It's going to be a great day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Claire's Birthday Checklist

Your favorite toy for playing is: Dress Up Clothes

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: Minnie Mouse

Your favorite food is: bagel ("with terster on it")

Your favorite book is: Backyard Beach (or that's what you call it anyway...  It's one of those vocabulary board books for babies, with pictures and different words - shovel, bucket, towel, etc.  You call it Backyard Beach because of the Phineas and Ferb song, which is incidentally your favorite song.  Dad and I ask you questions about the pictures, like, "Which one is the healthy snack?  How many shells are there?" and so on).

Your favorite activity is: Wrestle Night (which is always said with lots of exclamation points)

Your favorite place to go is: Monkey Joe's

Your best friend is: Mary Grace (close second, Lexi, aka your nemesis)

Something new that you're doing:  twirling your hair, and we're over it so please stop

Something you've mastered:  potty training (hurrah!)

Something people say about you:  "She is so well behaved!"

Something that you're saying is:  "...because I love it," (added at the end of requests, as in, "Can I have a bagel, with terster on it, because I love it?")

Something Dad and I are proud of you for:  you are so good at sharing your toys.

Something surprising about you:  you like really spicy foods, like Buffalo chicken.  Mommy made some Buffalo Chicken Dip, and you inhaled it.

Happy Birthday Claire!

(Publishing this tonight, because I know tomorrow is going to be busy and I haven't figured out how to auto-post yet...)

Dear Claire,

I can't believe you're three.  How did that happen?  Just a week or two ago I had a newborn and a nearly-two year old, and I hadn't had a shower in days and I spent most of my time breastfeeding and changing diapers and wondering if life was ever going to be easy again.  Now here we are, you're three, you've long since weaned (I think you were 22 months old when that happened), you're newly potty trained, and you're even staying dry all night.  What happened to my little baby?

When Mary Grace started preschool in the fall, I thought that you and I would have lots of quality time together, just us.  You had other plans, though.  The first day of school you spent the entire two and a half hours telling me, "I wanna go to school!"  So, since then you've gone to school.  You go to the drop-off program at the church where MG has preschool, and you love it.  You have lots of friends there, and you love your teachers.  I can tell that you're going to continue to enjoy school as you get older.  You have such a curious mind, and you love to be busy.  You have an excellent attention span, and the cutest little "I'm concentrating" face I've ever seen.  You ask lots of questions, too.  All of these wonderful qualities will serve you well.  You got them from your Daddy.

You also got his gentle heart and his quiet spirit.  Mary Grace and I go through a dozen moods before we open our eyes in the morning.  Not you and Dad, you're much more level, which balances our family quite nicely.  Don't get me wrong - you get fussy sometimes, especially when you're tired.  But you don't give me whiplash with your moods (most of the time) the way certain other girlies do.

That's not to say that you're boring!  You've been asserting yourself a lot more lately, which is causing endless problems between you and your sister.  On the one hand, I miss the days of peace and quiet, when you two played nicely (because you gave Mary Grace whatever she wanted).  On the other hand, though, it's sure nice to see you come into your own.  We're not raising any doormats in this house!

You still love cats.  You also love Barbie dolls and beautiful dresses (you call them "dress ups").  You love to paint and color.  Your favorite color is purple, and we're having a "purple birthday" for you tomorrow.  You absolutely adore music, and you're always asking me to "turn it up a little" when we're in the car.  You sing along and you dance in your car seat.  You love to read the story "Another Monster at the End of This Book," with Grover and Elmo - especially when Daddy and I do the voices.  You love to play with your friends.  You aren't a picky eater compared to other kids your age.  In fact, you even like to dip your chicken nuggets in Buffalo sauce!  You love spicy food.  Waiters always think I'm strange when I order it for you!

As I was writing this, you crawled up into the chair next to me and you fell asleep.  You little turkey...  It is not nap time! 

Even though you're growing up and doing do much on your own, you'll always be my baby.  I love you so much, sweet girl.  Happy third birthday!


Just Like the Olympics

If you're coming to the purple birthday tomorrow, parking is going to be insane. There is a basketball tournament in the same facility. Please carpool if you can, and don't be afraid to park in the grass (mud) if you have to!

Call my cell if you have any trouble.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Explore Our Galaxy

BJ is filming a commercial right now for the research park where we have our office!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

OMG, Now I Want a Burger

Thanks to Mommy on Fire - I knew that Triple XXX had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but I had never seen the piece!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baby's First Science Lecture


Stripes, dots, and patterns all at once. Oh to be almost three and completely free!

Eating Broccoli - A Radical Act of Self-Love

(Notice how I cleverly hid the numbers over there on the left...   Someday when I'm all finished I'll tell you what my starting weight was, and what my all-time high was.  Not today.)

This is my actual progress chart from  I've lost 35 pounds since I started, officially, but I'm -42 pounds from my all-time high.

42 pounds!

I want to shout it from the rooftops.  "If I can do it, you can do it!"  I've never lost weight before - the best I did, before this, was 10 pounds (on Weight Watchers) that immediately returned.  I'm seriously thinking about writing an ebook (because what the world really needs is one more book on how to lose weight, right?) containing all the knowledge I've gained in the past four months - all the things that I wish someone had told me when I was 12 and 14 and first beginning to struggle with my weight.

I feel AMAZING.  I feel like I can take on the world.  I am strong and confident and losing this weight has improved every aspect of my life.  I am a better mother.  I am a better wife.  I have more energy.  There's more of me to give to the rest of the world because I feel so good.  I find myself saying "yes" to things that I would have made excuses about before.  It feels good to say "yes."

A lot of people have e-mailed or contacted me on Facebook and said that reading about my progress has helped them get motivated.  That is 100% why I am writing about this here.  If you look at that BIG DAMN NUMBER up there (42!!!!!  Three more pounds and I will have lost Mary Grace's body weight!!!) and feel jealous, I want to talk to you directly for a second:

You are beautiful and perfect exactly as you are.  I love you, ok?  I honestly do.  You are so much more than your weight.  You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful spirit, and you deserve to feel good and have energy.  This is totally not about how you look, or caving to society's ridiculous demands that we all look like coat hangers.  It's about feeling good and being healthy.

You deserve to love yourself as much as I love you, as much as your husband/partner/boyfriend/best friend loves you, as much as your kids love you.  And you have to love yourself before you can do this.  Because it's about a million small choices every day.  You have to look at the menu at McDonald's and choose the damn grilled chicken salad with 1/4 of the packet of dressing instead of the Big Mac and fries because you LOVE YOURSELF and you want to be healthy.  You have to choose the iced tea with sweetener over the Coke because you LOVE YOURSELF and you want to feel good in the long term more than you want to feel good in the short term.  You have to make tiny insignificant choices a million times, and if you do I promise, I promise that the weight will come off.

You have to change your relationship with food.  I used to treat myself.  I'd say, "I've been so good, I'm going to get myself a coffee..." (Coffee being something with 600 or 800 calories and costing $4 from Starbucks!) and I'd think that doing that was a loving thing to do for myself (not to mention my wallet... Jeez!).  Now I think, "I've been really good.  I'm going to have an apple!" and I realize that making those healthy choices is the truly loving behavior!

Think about it - you love your kids, and you want them to be healthy, so you make them eat their vegetables!  Eating broccoli is a radical act of self-love!  Those "treats" we give ourselves - Doritos, chocolate, ice cream - those will kill us as surely as cigarettes!  Giving your body those things is NOT loving yourself.  Change your relationship with food and you change everything.

You have to choose to exercise during the day when you know you're going out for dinner and you're going to go over your calories for the day.  You have to exercise to give yourself a buffer. (A skinny person once said to me, "I exercise so that I can eat whatever I want," and it took me years, literally, to figure out what she meant and how that simple statement applied to me).  And then you still have to get the salad and the fish instead of the potato and the steak.  But it's worth it.  It's so worth it, because you can have a couple bites of dessert and you can realize that a couple of bites are every bit as satisfying as the whole carton of Ben & Jerry's - even more so, actually, because your jeans still zip the next day if you just limit yourself to those few bites. 

Even when I get to my target weight, I will never go back to eating the way I used to eat.  It makes me feel sick to think about it now.  I had Arby's on Saturday night because I'd been craving it and BJ and the kids were gone, and I felt gross even though I stayed within my calories.  I felt sick and bloated and weepy and disgusting.  I don't want to feel like that!  Sure, it tastes good going down, but it doesn't feel good for the next 12 hours.  Don't do it!  Or if you do, for God's sake, do it once and then don't do it again for at least a month!!

Ok, I have to go get the kdis, but there is your daily inspiration. I promise you, if I can make healthy choices for going-on 4 months, you can do it too.  I am a die hard sugaraholic, chocoholic, carbaholic, foodie.  I love to eat, I love to cook, and I love food.

The difference is that now, I love myself more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Didja See That New Show Parenthood?

Did anyone else see the new NBC show Parenthood the other night?  I would tell you when it was on, but we DVR everything so that everything is on whenever I want it to be on, which is as it should be.

Anyway, I don't want to talk about the characters or the plot or the dialogue or anything related to any of the above.

I want to talk about that guy from Coach's house.  I guess the grandparents house.  You know what I mean...

It was like porn.  I was moaning.  I am not proud to say it, but when I saw the porch, I began to think impure thoughts about the house, and I did not stop until twenty minutes into the news.  I felt like I needed a cigarette after the show was over.  It is one amazingly GORGEOUS house. 

The trouble is, the show is new and there aren't many photos where you can see the house...  This is the best I can do:

Yes, yes, you're all very attractive and interesting,
now get out of the way and show me that stonework!

The promo pictures are fine, but they do not feature my favorite character - the house!  Show me more house!!  In fact, NBC, I think we need a virtual tour of the house on your website, including links to where certain light fixtures and other items can be obtained.  You could partner with Home Depot and build a replica of the house for some lucky mommyblogger...  

I'm just sayin'.

Did anybody else notice the house?  Did you covet?  I covet the house.  I'm going to go look at floorplans...

If you could live in any TV or movie house, which would it be and why?  And what TV house most resembles your actual house?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Please Don't Squeeze The Baby

I recently got into a big debate at Free Range Kids about this sign:

If you can't read it, it says, "Your Germs Are Too Big For Me, Please Don't Touch," and then there's a dog's foot print (which makes no sense at all, unless dogs can read and frequently go around touching babies...).

I think the sign is idiotic, personally.  I would rather have one that says, "33% of Men and 12% of Women Don't Wash Their Hands After They Pee, Since I Don't Know Which Group You Are In, Don't Touch Me," maybe with a random icon of a toilet paper dispenser at the bottom.  (I get bonus points because mine rhymes).

Or how about "91% Of People Pick Their Noses - Please Keep Your Filthy Boogies Off Of Me!"  Icon: 

Or even "30% of the Population is Infected with Staph, Back the $&#* Up!"

Ok, admittedly, I never needed a sign, because I have never had a problem standing up for myself or my kids.  True story - we were at iHop (that's how it should be capitalized) when MG was about 6 months old, and the waitress moved in to cop a feel, and I said, "Careful!  She bites!"  She gave me a horrified look and backed off.

I have people skills.

I think this is a cultural issue.  While I have no problem whatsoever talking to strangers (I live in Indiana, some of my best friends are strangers), I do not want to touch strangers.  I do not want to be touched by strangers, either.  It could be because I'm white.  It could be because I'm upper-middle-class.  It could be because of my Scot-Irish heritage.  There are probably a lot of factors that influence the size of my "personal space bubble."

I know that there are plenty of people who think that babies (and often even bellies that contain babies) are public property.  I am not one, and if someone comes up and grabs my baby's finger (which she then promptly sticks in her mouth - it's the baby equivalent of dogs smelling each others' butts - maybe that's why the sign has a paw print?), or rubs my pregnant belly I get deeply offended.

I got felt up twice when I was pregnant.  It was enough to make me swear that the next person who touched my belly was going to get grabbed by the privates.  That was the only action I could think of that would feel as awkward for them as having my belly rubbed made me feel. 

Now since most of you who read this are my friends and family, let me take this opportunity to point out that I don't think YOU are a filthy harbinger of disease.  YOU are welcome to touch my kids or pat my belly.  Of course you are.  If you know our names, you can touch the baby.  If you've had a meal at my house, you don't even need to ask before you pick up my kids.  In fact, you may have to tackle me as I sprint for the door if you even look mildly interested in babysitting (Mommy really needs a haircut).

At BlogHer last year I missed my kids so bad it hurt, and there were several other moms who had their babies with them.  I will admit that I copped a couple of smells.  Yes, I went up and said, "Can I smell your baby?  I miss mine so much."  And they smelled so delicious that they brought tears to my eyes, but unless I was asked to hold the baby, I did not touch.

In reading the Wikipedia article about personal space, I had a bit of an "aha!" moment.  I have noticed before that when my children are babies, under 1 year old for the sake of argument, they feel like an extension of my body.  When they get shots, I tense up.  When they cry, I get anxious.  It's like having a little limb running around independent from the rest of me.  I've noticed that this fades as they get older, but so far it hasn't gone completely away, with my oldest child at 4.5 years old.

So when someone cootchie-coos my baby, I feel like they've inserted themself into my personal/intimate space.  And if I don't have the sort of relationship with them where I'd be comfortable with them in my personal/intimate space, I don't want them in my kids' personal/intimate space, either.

It's not really even about disease, for me, in spite of my joking up above.  It's about the fact that babies are people, not objects, and they have the right to move around in public without being groped.  And I have the right to be in public with them without feeling like I'm being violated.

Am I nuts?  Did (or do) you like it when strangers touch your kids, or do you think it's icky?  Oh look, a handy poll:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yay Comments!

Thanks for all the great feedback (here, via chat, on Facebook, via e-mail, and on the phone!) about the school dilemma. 

Not that I wish difficulty on anyone else, but it does help to know that other families have been in similar situations, and to know what you did and how it all worked out.  The thing that BJ and I need to focus on is that the kids are going to be fine, regardless.  Kindergarten is not even required in Indiana.  I could take both of the kids hiking up the Appalachian Trail next year, instead of doing school, and they'd be FINE.  (I could, if I was completely insane.  Can you imagine?  "I hafta go to the bathroom!  My feet hurt!  I don't like this trail!  Are we there yet?  Mom, that bear looks hungry!!!"  I don't even want to take them to Walmart today... and they don't have bears!)

It's all gravy.  It is stupid to get stressed over the gravy, because in the end, they're going to remember Mommy stressing over it a lot more than they're going to remember whether they went to this school or that.

And so I find my zen and chill.

In other news, I look amazing.  I bought new clothes last week, and the weight I've lost really shows.  Or, you know, doesn't... because it's gone.  This is so not about how I look, though.  It's about being healthy, living past my 50th birthday (preferably without heart disease), and setting a good example for my kids.  Last winter we did NO sledding, NO ice skating, NO winter activities of any kind.  This year we've been sledding twice, and yesterday we tried ice skating.  (If we hadn't been sick for the entire month of January, those numbers would be higher - baby steps, though.  Baby steps...)

The boots on the skates really hurt my feet.  If we're going to make a habit of this I need to get soft old-style skates.  The ones they had to rent were hard, like Rollerblade boots.  They hurt BJ's feet too.  Maybe they just don't want anyone to stay too long. 

Claire had a good time, but MG had a meltdown.  We're still not sure what happened, but last night's Facebook status was:  Somebody's gonna cry before they go to bed.  

"Oh, my mean, mean parents...  making me ICE SKATE!  Why do they HATE me so?  Woe is me..."

I seriously do not understand my children.

Speaking of which, Claire's hair twisting is getting worse.  Last night I spent 10 minutes picking out the knots from where she'd twisted and twisted and twisted...  At least this time I didn't have to cut her finger out of her hair!

Do they make anti-anxiety meds in pediatric doses?  Paging Dr. Dave...

Any ideas?