Monday, December 31, 2012

What does 2013 Hold?

I can hardly believe this year is over.  2012 was a trying year for me and my family.  We went through a lot of hard times, but a lot of good times too.  I think I've probably grown into myself more this year than any other year since college.  Losing my hair was a huge wake up call for me for some reason (some people might say that's post traumatic stress syndrome).  I've discovered what it takes for me to motivate myself though and to live my dreams, every day.  I don't feel lost the way I did at the beginning of last year. I feel happier, more well rounded, and healthier.  I feel like I'm a better person, a better mother, and maybe a better wife (on a good day). 

This year has been hard for some of my family members too, but all of us have had some pretty major accomplishments. 

Hubby pretty much started out the year by tearing is Achilles tendon.  He was recovering from this the rest of the year, until about September.  After a second surgery to treat Staph, he quit smoking.  QUIT SMOKING!!!  What a major accomplishment for him!  I am beyond proud of him, as this was something he's been struggling with since his teenage years.  He took my lead and began exercising and losing weight too.  We both looked at our demons, and we both started dealing with them...apart and now together. 



Son Number One finished up first grade and started second.  His grades continue to be in the all A range, and we were super proud that he made an A in conduct the first nine weeks!  How thrilling for him.  He also joined the gymnastics's team and attended his first meet, coming in third all around.  He has found his passion, and there is nothing better for a parent than seeing your child do something they love. 



Son Number Two started preschool, and I realized he has a brain...and he's smart!  He has always been my quiet child (except he has a very loud voice--I know so funny!), and I really did not know he knew as much as he did.  He can add!  He has made great friends in preschool, and he fits in well, as usual causing me no problems on that front.  I'm so proud of my little guy.  In other news, he finally moved on from Lightning McQueen to Ninjago.  He still likes Lightning, but he's not as obsessed with him as he used to be.



And Darling Daughter, my one and only girl.  She has grown from a one year old to a terrific two year old.  She is demanding, funny, sweet, and my little shadow. She follows me everywhere.  She loves to give kisses.  I love how when she wants my attention, she'll take her still-pudgy baby hands and move my face towards her and then make her eyes round orbits as she talks to me.  She is adorable and she's a handful!



What about me?  This year has been so up and down for me.  At times, I just wanted it to be over.  I wanted everything to change.  2012 has been about change for me and growing.  I think I finally discovered what it takes to make myself happy. I cried a lot this year, laughed a lot, wrote a lot, exercised a lot, and I began to accept myself for who I am.

I really came to terms with my hair loss this year.  I began experimenting with going out without wigs and hats. I do think I need a tee-shirt that says: I don't have Cancer, It's Alopecia, overall people have been really nice and just ask questions about why I'm bald.  I like the way I look bald, and besides being cold in the winter and having to wear more suntan lotion on my head it doesn't really bother me.  At some point, I'd love to give up my wigs all together, but I'm not sure if my work environment is ready for that quite yet!



I lost almost 60 pounds!!!  I turned my life around, completely changing my lifestyle and began setting a good example for my kids.  I exercise almost every day, and we eat a lot healthier and a lot less than we used to.  This was definitely one of my biggest accomplishments this year!

I really began to write again, and I realized that writing is a huge part of my life.  I hadn't been writing, almost since college, and something was missing.  As a writer, I have this need to put my ideas and stories on paper.  Since I've been writing every day, I feel like I have accomplished so much.  My goal next year is to finish my novel (over halfway done now) and to produce some short stories and try to get them published. 

I'm excited to see what next year holds!!! 
 Bring on 2013!!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness #13 for Noah Pozner

Yesterday, I didn't feel like doing much of anything.  I was sick.  I hate being sick.  I'm a huge baby when I'm sick.  I happened to get on blogger though and blog, and then I decided to catch up on some of my blog reading, which I needed to catch up on big time!

I found out one of my friend's granddaughter's was born with Apert's Syndrome.  I had no idea what Apert's Syndrome was, so I researched a bit and found out it is a dominant autosomnal trait, meaning only one parent has to have the gene to pass it on.  It is genetic, and it causes cleft lips, facial weakness, webbing of the fingers and other defects.

Of course, when you have a child you expect the world for them.  And when a child is born with a genetic defect, it alters your expectations, and sends you reeling.  I wanted to do something for this first time Mom, who is currently suffering, and for her baby girl. 


Nicholas Graves, Apert Syndrome Poster Child
So my Act #13 was a small donation to the Little Baby Face Foundation.  I could only give $10 at this time, because money is so tight for Hubby and I right now, but I know that small donation of good will can help someone, some child, and it's what I can give right now.  Every little bit helps. 

The Little Baby Face Foundation provides corrective surgery and medical services, family support, physician education, and research. 

I know as time passes, this new mother will begin to accept the different future for her sweet daughter.  She'll look at her with new eyes, and she'll see her inner and outer beauty.  Dealing with alopecia areata has taught me that sometimes acceptance comes slowly, but it almost always comes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Running and Acting

I'm back into my exercise routine, minus the dojang of course.  I can't wait until Taekwondo opens again.  I dreamt about it last night, and I miss it.  In the meantime, I'm putting some miles on my Brooks.

I went out running yesterday morning, and I made it 2 miles.  I felt the best I have in awhile, mostly contributed to the fact that this cold is finally going away!  I had this sense of exhilaration around 1.5 miles, and I actually felt like I could have run further.  I love the feeling of just being that I have when I run. I love being able to listen to my music (inappropriate songs like G6 too!), and think over important things in my life (and not so important things).  I love the stillness and how I notice everything around me when I'm running.  Yesterday, as I was running by the lake I swear the ducks laughed at me. They were probably thinking, "Hey, look at that lady trying to run!"  But, hey ducks, I did pretty well!  I made it 2 miles in 18 minutes 45 seconds.  I was pretty proud of that time, because after I finished I didn't feel like dying: I felt like running more. 

In other news, I'm still working on my #26Acts for the Sandy Hook victims. I actually feel like I want to live this way from now on, looking for opportunities to help others.  I drove Hubby to work yesterday so my mother-in-law could have the car, and there was this guy fixing the fountain.  He looked so cold, and I turned to Hubby and I said, "I wish I had a pair of gloves to give him.  He needs a pair of gloves."  It's funny, because before I started doing this I probably wouldn't have even noticed a person in need like that! 

My Acts, #9 and #10, were personal to me.  I gave to two people in my life who I love very much, and who I feel are like extended family. 

I signed up to do my Act #11 too!  I'm going to give blood to the Red Cross. I haven't done this in recent years, because I normally faint.  I know stupid, right?  But I hate the feeling of fainting. I told the lady I signed up with that I might faint, and she said she'd bring an extra pillow! My blood type is needed, always, and I just feel like it's the right thing to do.  The blood banks always need blood, so this is a very easy way to help. 
 
 
This act will be in honor of Ana M. Marquez-Greene. 
 
Are you participating in 26 Acts?  If so, feel free to leave your comment in the comment section, telling me what you're doing to spread the effort!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Post Holiday Blah

I'm really trying to get back into my workout schedule. Yesterday, I went for a run and I only made it about 1.2 miles, then I walked the rest of the way. I'm sure it didn't help that I had a runny nose, a cough and was fighting a headache. There was no way I was going to spend my last day off of the year in Urgent Care though! No way! Oh, plus the temperature dropped from 71 degrees to 40-something yesterday. That probably hurt my attempts too.

Grandma is here, and she's going to sit with the kids while Hubby and I go to work, so I should be able to get out there and go for a run a little bit later today, around 6:00 AM.

We had a wonderful Christmas. I missed my Mom, who is in Nashville still helping my sister with her twins (and her other two precious kids). On Christmas Eve we sang carols with my Dad and had some snacks at his house. Then, we came over to my house to open one present and to eat Hubby's Ozo Soup and prosciutto salad. It was yummy.
Alabama Cousins + Dad.


I snapped this photo of Hubby and Darling Daughter that I'm totally in love with. I love the look in both of their eyes. Pure and total love.

 
 
The biggest hits present-wise this Christmas for Son Number One were:
  • The Hexbug Nano Set with 4 Hexbugs: This was not on his list, but Santa must have figured he'd like it.
  • The Lego Batman Set with Robin: He'd been asking for this for months.  And you can tell by the look on his face when he opened it that he was thrilled.
 
 
The biggest hit for Son Number Two was:
  • The Spinjitzu Lego Ninjago spinners: If Santa had only known that this was all Son Number Two really wanted, then he could have saved a lot of money and his elves would not have had to work so hard this year!
  • He also really liked the Cars 2 Tokyo Spinout Track. 
 
 
The biggest hits for Darling Daughter this year:
  • The dollhouse: The whole family has gotten into playing with this
  • The Lalaloopsy Remote Control Car, and
  • Son Number Two's LeapPad2. Funnily, I did not think she would be interested in this year, so did not bother asking Grandma for one, but she absolutely loves it, and she wants to play with it all the time! 
 
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!!




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #8: Losing Weight After the Holidays

Losing Weight After the Holidays

Christmas is Over.  Photos and videos will be posted in the next couple of days, but needless to say everyone in my family had a great Christmas.  The kids received pretty much every thing their little hearts desired.  My Hubby spoiled me with jewelry, which was so nice. 

So did you overindulge like I did over the Holidays?  I partook of too much of my sister-in-law's pumpkin caramel cheesecake.  I swear that is the best stuff in the entire world.  If you did, then it's time to start thinking about what you need to do to scale back.  Don't use the holidays as an excuse to fall off the wagon completely.  After all, you have made a lifestyle change, a commitment that should last you a lifetime. 

  • First and foremost: Get moving again.  Go for a walk, go for a run, incorporate your exercise back into your life.  If your gym or dojang is closed, then find some other way to start moving again.  Get your whole family involved.  Exercising with your children shows them that it's a way of life, no matter what time of year it is.

  • Amend your Eating Habits: Scale back.  Begin to eat three meals a day again.  Try not to snack so much, and try to cut back on the high calorie and high fat foods you've been eating through the holidays. 

  • Throw out or Hide the Candy: If you received candy for Christmas, then indulge in it on Christmas day...and maybe the day afer.   Throw out the rest, hide it, or give it to the candy monsters in your life: your children!

  • Spread the Love: Take your leftover pies to a neighbor who is feeling lonely.  You will be performing an act of kindness here and making sure your pants will still fit in the New Year.

  • Don't get Discouraged:   If you gained a few pounds over the Holidays, remember that it could take a few months to take it off.  But, that's OK. Losing weight is not a race.  If you make amends to your eating habits and exercise then it should come off and stay off.

  • Don't do a Crash Diet: Low carb diets, starvation diets, the Cabbage Soup diets...don't do them.  They simply do not work.  Once you start eating regularly again (and you will), you will gain every single pound back. 

  • Remind Yourself Why You Wanted to Lose Weight in the First Place: I like to visually look back of a photo I took in Boston the summer of 2011 that made me want to lose weight in the first place. This visual reminder clues my brain into the fact that by losing weight I'm extending my life: guaranteeing more holidays to come, more joyful birthdays with my children, and maybe one day with their children.  Change your lifestyle to improve your quality of life and extend your lifespan. 
In order to lose weight, you must commit to making a lifestyle change.  Once you do it, other people around you will start doing it too, including your family members.  Don't use the Holidays as an opportunity to slip into your bad habits again.  Indulge a little bit, let yourself enjoy a piece of pie, or too many mashed potatoes, and wake up the next day prepared to work hard to maintain the weight loss that you have worked so hard to achieve!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve is Here Again

It's Christmas Eve, and I can hardly believe that this year has flown by so quickly.  I'm working a half day today, then I'll be home with my family to sing Christmas carols, eat, drink and be merry.  The kids are off the wall with excitement, dreaming about Lego Ninjagos, dollhouses, and all the other toys they may get from Santa Claus tomorrow morning. 

Here's what last Christmas looked like, and tomorrow I'll see what this Christmas looks like.  How fast they grow and how quickly the years slip by.  Enjoy every single moment you have with your children, because childhood is so fleeting.


I woke up this morning ready to run.  I needed to after spending much of yesterday on the couch or holding a sick child or sleeping.  I watched Glee pretty much all day long and indulged in potato chips.  I wrote about 5,000 more words of my novel, bringing my total now to 40,000 (roughly 150 pages).  I started reading, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," which promises to be a good book even if it does seem somewhat depressing.  I didn't exercise, unless you count the 25 minutes I jumped on the trampoline while all the kids were with their dad at the doctor being diagnosed with sinus infections. 

Some days it's super nice to be lazy.  I woke up with a plan to go running today.  I opened the door to the cats mewing, and alas it has already started raining here in Alabama.  The beginning of the Christmas storm has made it's way towards us so my feet won't hit the pavement. 

I'm okay with that.  I'll get back to running in a few days.  For today, I'm going to enjoy work.  I'm going to come home and enjoy my kids, my dad, my brother and his family.  I'm going to take joy in the fact that I have a family to share this wonderful time with.  I'm going to delight in the looks of my children's face tomorrow morning as they creep down the stairs and see what Santa left them. 

As I write this, the music of Pachelbel's Canon has begun playing on my Pandora, raising my spirits even more.

Merry Christmas Everyone!  May Yours be Shiny and Bright!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Consider Donating to the NAAF

Today my act of kindness (#8) is very near and dear to my heart.  I committed to donating $8 per month to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.  This small donation will only be $96 a year, but it's what I can afford.  All I have to do is give up eating lunch out once a month.  $8 per month to help fund research and find appropriate treatments for this disease.

As a child, I suffered to accept myself.  I hated my bald spots.  I was so embarrassed by them.  One year at camp when I was 11 years old, I kept my hair in a ponytail for 5 weeks, because I didn't want anyone to see that I had bald spots.  I think I pulled out my rubber band once and washed it.   I hated being different.  I hated when people stared and ostracized me.  It's hard to be different when you're a kid, because kids just don't understand.  Plus, I didn't understand when I was little that by educating people they'd begin to accept me. 


Wearing a sailor's cap to cover my spots
I'll never forget in 2nd grade, when I had a lot of uncoverable spots and my Mom bought me two wigs: one long and one short.  I used to interchange them all the time, so I know most people knew they were wigs, but apparently not all the kids caught on.  We had a substitute that day, and we were working on something.  Darryl came up to me to ask me something, and his hand caught the side of my wig pulling it off.  Rebecca shouted, "Lauren's head is falling off!"  I was mortified, and the substitute had no idea what to do.  She put my hair in a paper bag and sent it home with me that day, instead of calling my parents or taking me to the Principal's office.  I can look back on this and laugh now, but as a child it traumatized me. 

Knowledge is a powerful thing, and as I grew older I learned this.  When I lost all my hair recently, I was upset.  I was embarrassed again, almost reliving my childhood.  I just want eyelashes and eyebrows and for my head not to be cold when it's 20 degrees out.  I want to fit in, like everyone else does, even if they won't admit it.  But, I began to accept myself and spread my knowledge of alopecia areata to everyone I knew.  I began telling people about the disease, including my children and their friends and my nephew (who insist that I am not a mammal because I don't have hair!). 

With a little more research hopefully they can find a definitive cause of this disease and begin working on a cure.  To be a child with alopecia areata is so hard socially, but it shaped who I am so I wouldn't change it.  I'm just happy I can give back to the NAAF, as they have inspired me to embrace myself and my hair loss and educate those around me about it.  


With my Adorable nephew this year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Act of Kindness #7

So far, we've completed 7 Acts of Kindness, and I have a few more in the works too!  On Friday, I stopped on the way to the kids' daycare and I ran someones newspaper up to their front porch.  This was thrilling, but almost felt like I was doing something bad like TPing someones house!

We also finished our present to our families from the Volunteer Information Center.  We bought them presents and groceries (the two ladies I worked with shopped two nights until midnight to provide Christmas for these families)!  How amazing!  One of the families came to pick up the gifts, and they were so appreciative!  They hugged us and thanked us about fifty times.  This is what the season is really about. 

Today, I decided to write letters to the soldiers.  I got all the kids in on it, and here is the result!  I added my own personal message in Darling Daughter's message, and Hubby wrote a letter of his own too!

Darling Daughter's letter!
 
Son Number One's letter to a "solger."
 
Son Number Two's letter to a soldier.  That's Spiderman by the way.
 
Our piles of letters will make it out this week, and they'll be put in a care package by Military Missions. They send a ton of letters to soldiers, and they always need people to write them, so why don't you all write some letters and get them in the mail!  It doesn't cost anything, and it will make a soldier's day! 
 
 
 
The address to send them to:
 
Military Missions Inc.
3650 Boston Road
Suite 146
Lexington, KY 40514
 
  7 Complete for Emilie Parker, and the other victims of the Sandy Hook School Shooting

Friday, December 21, 2012

Today is the End of the World

Today I woke up on the day the world was supposed to end (according to the Mayans).  I sit here writing this on my green couch, covered with a rainbow colored blanket that Hubby's Aunt made us a few Christmases ago, drinking coffee, staring at the fireplace and listening to Pavement sing "Cream of Gold" on Pandora.  A pretty nice, calm setting for the end of the world. 

I pondered life this morning as I read everyone's Facebook status updates jokingly say, "I'm still here!"  I laughed, and I even joined in.  This was easy to do because this morning I was avoiding two things: going out in the 28 degree weather to run and cooking for a Christmas party tonight.  I think my best thinking is done when I'm avoiding something.  I usually find those times to be my best moments to write too.

I was wondering if today really was the end of the world would I be happy with my contribution?  I have to say that I have had a pretty charmed life.  I've been all over South America.  I've lived in Washington D.C., attended a private university, have friends all over the US and the world.  I have had many wonderful people touch my life. 

I have a great family, three wonderful kids and a husband who keeps everything rolling at home...not to mention clean.  I have friends who are always there for me, even over several hundred or thousands of miles.  I'd have to say, I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out for me even if life is not ever easy.  If life was easy, it probably wouldn't be worth living. After all, the thick makes the thin better.  Without tears there wouldn't be laughter. 

Yes, I'm pretty happy about the way things have turned out.  I would have one disappointment if my world ended today: my novel is not finished.  How great would it be to have finished that before the end of the world?  Almost done though--over halfway through.  Then of course, there's the second draft and revisions and then trying to get it published for years and years. 

But, because today is not really the end of the world perhaps I have years and years to do it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Four Out of 26 Ain't Bad

I haven't done my weekly weight loss tips this week, and I'm fairly sure it won't be returning until next week.  I think next week I'll try to focus on what you need to do when things get crazy hectic and it's Christmas time and all you want to do is stuff your mouth with cookies, brownies, and oh yeah, my favorite rolos melted inside of two pretzels.  Yeah, we'll start there next week.

Today I focused on my 26 Random Acts of Kindness that I'm doing in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, especially Emilie Parker.  I woke up this morning thinking about it, and I had this major dilemma: We have absolutely no money right now.  I mean NONE.  We just spent all our money on Christmas and paying a fortune to Caden's gym, oh not to mention daycare, and then there's Number Two's private preschool.  So I really needed some cheap alternatives.  Non-money giving, non gift certificate giving ideas.  Some of mine did involve money, but it was a nominal amount.  Oh, and I only did 4 today, and here they are:

1.  I wrote cards to my children's teachers, and I put photos of the kids in them with their names, ages, and the year.  I told the teachers how much I appreciated what they did every day, and that I understood how hard being a teacher must be, but that the difference they are making in our children's life is huge. 

2. I went through the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts today, and I paid for the person behind me.  I wrote a little note for the man at the drive through to hand to the lady with her coffee about doing 26 acts of kindness and passing it on.  This was probably the most rewarding thing I did today for some reason. 

3. One of my co-workers seemed a little down in the dumps today, so I bought her a Twix bar, wrapped it up and had another co-worker secretly deliver it to her.  She figured out it was me, and she is going to do 26 Acts of Kindness too!

4. I sent Christmas cards to the First Responders in Conneticut.  I actually grabbed this idea from a post on MSNBC today.  The addresses are:

Monroe Police Department
7 Fan Hill Road
Monroe, CT 06468

Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470

Connecticut State Police
Public Information Office
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticutt 06457

Pay It Forward
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Honor of Emilie Parker: 26 Acts of Kindness

I've been attempting to process what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14. The truth is, there is no way to process it.  There's no way to accept what happened to those 26 people in Sandy Hook School and to Adam Lanza's mother.  There is no way to accept that someone could go into a school and kill Elementary School children: children waiting for Santa to come, children who hadn't even lost their first baby tooth, children who's whole life lay before them just waiting to make a difference in our world. 

Over the weekend, I read about Emilie Parker.  Her image struck me, with her blond hair and blue eyes.  She looked like she could be one of my children, giggly, wiggly, and excited for Christmas right around the corner.  But Emilie's short life ended on December 14th, because of one random act of violence.  Emilie Parker's Dad made a statement about her death, expressing sympathy EVEN for the killer and his family.  I was amazed at this, so shortly after his daughter's death, that he could begin to forgive the person who took this precious gift from him.  He has something to teach each and everyone of us about forgiveness in this tough time.   Every time I thought about Emilie's little face this weekend and her father's statement tears would brim in my eyes.  But tears don't solve problems.

So, I'm going to take on the challenge that many across America are and perform 26 random acts of kindness in honor of the 20 children and the 6 teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14. 

Emilie Parker can't be here to spread her spirit, her love, and to draw cards when people are feeling unhappy or down anymore, but by performing 26 Acts of kindness, we can help her spirit live on. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas at the Bass Pro Shop

You may be wondering where my Goal Post is this week.  I decided to take a little break until after New Year's.  I have too many time commitments to give my goals their due respect, and I don't want to set goals and write about them knowing that I don't have time because of Christmas parties, kids, wrapping...you name it!

Last weekend, we took the kids to see Santa at the Bass Pro Shop in Prattville.  We dressed them up in their Christmas finery and headed out for a long drive to the "North Pole."  Number One and Number Two both brought Diary of the Wimpy Kid books to read (Number One) and to look at (Number Two). 

When we reached the shop the line was so long. We placed ourselves in the back of the line, and Hubby and I took turns standing there or chasing the kids.  Bass Pro Shop did a great job at providing entertainment for the kids: games, coloring, letters to Santa, a train, and the 4-wheeler display!

 
 
Now I can't say I approve of the Alabama bow on their tree, but I'll forgive them for that!  The boys played nicely which I must say is a Christmas Miracle.  They are like Tom and Jerry these days, always at each other's throats. 
 
 
Darling Daughter snuck off to take a peak of Santa.  I'm almost sure she made it into some unsuspecting family's Santa photo.  She was thrilled and in awe of Santa and not one bit scared of him!
 

 
 
After waiting in line, for what seemed like forever, our time with Santa finally came up.  The kids ran up to him, and there was a slight scuffle between Number One and Number Two about who would sit where.  Number Two didn't want to be in the middle, because well, he's ALWAYS in the middle.  I placed Darling Daughter on Santa's lap.  She was uncertain but didn't cry.
 
And then, the Christmas Elves snapped this priceless photo, that I will remember for years to come:
 
 
And it will always make me laugh!



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get A Grip

Number One has always been full of energy.  He started crawling early, and he seems to move all the time, even in his sleep.

In February, he asked to do gymnastics again.  He had gone when he was little, and he had gone over a few summers at daycare, and he just really enjoyed it.  I thought, sure, why not?  An hour gymnastics class, once a week.

Over the summer he was picked for the boy's team.  He now attends gymnastics 6 hours a week.  He has done really well with it, and it gives him a place to channel his energy.

This past weekend, we took him up to Pelham for his first meet, the Get A Grip meet, and he came in third all around for his age group.  Here are a few photos and videos of our day!


He scored an 9.0 on the Rings.


Caden scored an 8.3 on the High Bar.

Caden scored 8.4 on the floor, and he came in 2nd place.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #7: Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

It's that crazy time of year again: Holiday Season.  Time to go to tons of Christmas parties, drink and eat and be merry to your heart's content.  Hubby and I have about twenty Christmas parties to attend in the next few weeks...OK, not really, just 6! 

With regular life it can be hard to make good food decisions on limited time.  With Christmas thrown in, a couple of kids, gymnastics competitions...it makes it nearly impossible!  That's why it's so important to plan ahead when making your food and exercise commitments for a week.  This is also one reason I do the Goals post weekly, because it helps give me a guide to follow when life gets crazy (as it always does!).

  • Plan Weekly Meals: Pick a day, and sit down and plan your meals for the week.  If you plan your meals, and you stick to this plan then you're less likely to make poor choices or just raid the fridge for fatty comfort foods when it's meal time! Also, eat sitting down with your family.  This encourages conversation, which makes you eat more slowly.  Eating slowly helps you not to overeat.

  • Write a List: Before you go grocery shopping, write a list.  Stick to this list.  If you want to pick up some extra fruits and veggies, have at it, but stick to your list that has all the ingredients for your planned meals (above) and your healthy snacks.  This not only will help you in the food department, but it will help you budget too.

  • Plan Your Lunches: If you're a working mother like me, then you're tempted with going out to lunch every day and getting chips and salsa and cheese dip (Mexican food is my biggest temptation!).  If you pack your lunch every day, then you're less likely to go out and make poor decisions.  Pack healthy foods and also prepare snacks too (like I wrote about here). 

  • Traveling: This weekend, we went up to Pelham for Son Number One's first gymnastics' meet (a blog post will be coming soon about this!).  Hubby and I packed sandwiches and snacks, so we would not be tempted to stop and buy lunch or make poor choices when we reached the tournament. 


    Plan Your Exercise for the Week: If you schedule your exercise in, then you are more likely to achieve your exercise goals, as well. Set an appointment on your smart phone to exercise, and ask it to remind you.  If you have the visual reminder, then you are more likely to put on your running shoes and go!  Every week, Hubby and I sit down on Sunday and discuss what days I'm going to Taekwondo, and what days he's going to cycle.  This way, I know on my off TKD days that I need to don my running shoes

Having a plan makes you feel like you have a commitment, and committing to be a healthier person for yourself and your family is one of the most important goals in life.  Living a healthy lifestyle will influence those around you to live a healthier lifestyle, including your children.  Make a change for the better today!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Time Marches On

Time Marches On

I'm having a hard time believing that we're ending 2012 so soon.  There are officially only 24 days left of this year.  At times, it has seemed to fly by, and at other times it has dragged on and on, but the last few months have passed so quickly it seems unreal. 

The thing about time is you can never stop it to hold onto what you have at that very moment.  Everything changes.  Last night, as I was driving home in the car I glanced back at my 4 year old son and my 8 year old son, and in my mind I thought, "I want them to stay this way forever."  I thought about Number One at 4 years old, and I had a hard time picturing his face each year afterwards.  The years drift by, the children grow up.  It all goes so quickly. 

This year was good and bad for me, as most years are for everyone.  I really struggled with Hubby hurting his leg.  I struggled with my own demons too for most of the year, and I finally feel settled, happy even.  I made many of my goals.  I changed my whole life for the better, by losing weight and exercising.  I finally began to accept that I will probably be bald for the rest of my life.  (Except for some reason, I have not accepted that I will not have eyebrows). 

Hubby and I finally got the house cleaned (literally--and mostly due to his efforts I must say!).  We also finally posted rules for the kids, and became more consistent in our disciplining of them. 

I have goals for next year too, but I know as soon as I blink an eye tax season will be here, and then Halloween and then Christmas 2013, and we will be turning the calendars to 2014 before I know it.  Be thankful for what you have and appreciate each and every day, because time moves so fast.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post

This past week, I went to visit my sister.  She has newborn twins.  They are amazing.  I am in total love with them.  I wish they lived closer, so I could help her more, and who knows...quit my job and be a nanny to them! There is nothing more amazing then holding new life in your arms, seeing their little faces light up and watching babies grow and learn how to explore the world. 

Here's an Update on my Goals from Last Week:

  • Work on Novel: Because of my little trip, my novel was pushed on the back burner again. I don't need to lose my motivation.  I need to pick it up and start writing again.  I have it all plotted out. It's a matter of getting the words on paper.  There simply are not enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want to do!

  • Run 1.75 miles: I ran 1.90 miles and then 2.10 miles.  So, I went over my goal.  I have a complete love for running.  When I was visiting my sister, I kept seeing runners, and I envied them!  I achieved my goals this week by turning off the voice of the RunKeeper lady who tells you how long you've been running, but I kept the distance measure on. I do feel like it is getting easier for me.  I don't feel like stopping anymore, and my breathing has gotten better.  I slowed my pace as many of my friends recommended, and it really helped.

Goals for the Upcoming Week

  • Work on My Novel: I'm starring this goal.  If I don't make any of my goals except this one this week, I'll be happy.  I did spend some time last week looking into how to get published. I looked at self-publishing and regular publishing.  I don't think self publishing is the way to go, because everyone is self publishing these days.  It is hard to get adult fiction books published nowadays, so I know once I finish the work then I'll have more work cut out for me.

  • Run 2.0 miles consistently: Ok, so I did make my 2.0 mile goal last week, but I don't want to increase too much too quickly.  I need o make sure my body is okay with building up slowly, and I don't injure something. 

  • Clean Out My Closet: I posted yesterday about getting rid of bigger clothes.  I need to do this.  I need to clean out my closet completely, box up clothes to give back to friends, and to give to charity.  I need to do the same to my kids' closets.  I have tons of boy clothes to give to my sister who will need them again!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #6: Big Girl Pants

Get Rid of Your Big Girl Pants!
 
Once you start losing weight, chances are you'll start losing sizes.  This is the real indicator of your actual weight loss, not the numbers on the scale.  Sometimes, you won't lose pounds but you'll lose inches.  This is your body toning and slimming down, and it's a great indicator to whether or not you're meeting your fitness goals.
 
 

One of the most important things to do when you start losing sizes is to rebuild your wardrobe, and to get rid of your old bigger clothes.  I think most women want to hold on to their old clothes, because it gives them something to fall back into if they don't make their goals or if they fall off the wagon.  Don't do it, as this is a sure way to sabotage yourself.
 
Some ideas for getting rid of your clothes: friends, Goodwill, Faith Rescue Mission, churches, shelters.  There are lots of places that take donations, and if you donate to a non-profit you may be able to deduct it on your taxes (I'm not an accountant, so ask yours). 
 
Getting rid of your clothes and beginning to buy new ones is a whole new step in the right direction, although it can be scary to lose the comfort of your Big Girl Pants!  Because money is a huge issue in my life, I've been slowly boxing up my bigger clothes and getting rid of them, as I add a piece or two to my wardrobe every paycheck.  Also, you can take larger shirts and put a belt around the middle to keep bigger shirts and wear them in a chic and fashionable way until you can afford to re-dress your wardrobe, so to speak.
 
Getting rid of your bigger clothes will surely show you that you're making a lifestyle change, and it's worth spending on being healthy and maintaining this new way of life that you're starting to live.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post
 

I skipped my goal post last week.  What a way to make my goals!  Seriously though, it was Thanksgiving.  I had other things on my mind, like eating and cooking, and spending some quality time with my family.

I did so-so on my goals last week.  Here's the update:
  • Work on My Novel: I didn't.  I pulled it up and edited it a little bit, but I simply ran out of time to write.  The kids had play dates.  We went to the movies.  We cooked and ate, and we spent some time playing at our neighbors' house.  These things took precedence this week over writing. 

  • Run 1.25 miles: I did more than 1.25 miles three times.! I made 1.34 miles one day and 1.50 miles the next.  I also had a day where my RunKeeper did not track right, and I'm fairly certain I made about 1.34 miles that day.  The day I ran 1.50 miles was amazing.  The running came so easily, and I felt incredible. 

  • Patience and Control: I did a better job this week with the kids.  I controlled my temper, and I allowed the kids to be kids.  We did a fun craft together, and we went hiking.  Overall, the atmosphere was rather pleasant in the house!

Goals for the Upcoming Week

  • Run 1.75 miles: I think I can do this.  I did not run this morning, because I had a splitting headache, but we'll start towards this goal tomorrow morning.  I'm almost to my 2.0 mile goal.

  • Work on My Novel: Yes, I intend to pull it up and write a little bit this week.  I've been a bookworm lately, reading everything I can get my hands on to get a better grasp of dialogue and general plot design.  I need to take some of what I've learned and put it into my book.
That's it for this week.  I have some fairly important things going on, and I'm not sure if having three goals this week will be realistic.  So two it is!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #5: Snacking

Snacking

Oh snacking.  The downfall of many people.  Grabbing a cookie off a co-worker's desk mid-day and shoving it in you mouth, not even thinking about the way it taste.  Eating just to eat. 

I love snacking.  I am a huge snacker.  I crave chocolate and salty things just like everyone else.  The fat and preservatives and other junk in potato chips and candy bars and other not-so-good for you foods seems to make you crave them even more. 

In general, I allow myself to snack a little bit, but I try to give myself healthy alternatives.  Here are a few tips on how to snack healthily, so not to ruin your weight loss plan/lifestyle change.

  • Prepare For Your Day: This is so important.  You may think you can get through the day without a snack, but if you go off to work and there are other goodies laying around you may be tempted to eat them.  I pre-portion snacks before I leave for work.  I put homemade trail mix in a baggie, and I bring fruit to snack on. The trail mix has a few chocolate chips, to curb my sweet-tooth craving for the day, and hopefully to help me not buy that candy bar at the machine!

  • Snack When You're Hungry: Seems like a no-brainer right?  But as Americans, we stick a lot of food into our mouths mindlessly.  Don't bored eat.  Don't eat while doing something else.  If you really need a snack, stop what you're doing, SIT DOWN and concentrate on eating the healthy snack you have on hand.  This will help you to feel satisfied after you've eaten your snack and make you less likely to feel unsatisfied or in need of more.

  • Don't Snack All Day: When I was first starting out, I realized I had a major problem with late-night snacking.  Sitting in front of the TV in a daze and stuffing my face.  Most of the time when people snack this way, they aren't even hungry.  They just need something to do while they're being lazy, so they put food in their mouth.  So when you first start making your lifestyle change, cut out one snack that you know you don't need.  For me, I cut out late night snacking, and then I allowed myself to have a 10 AM snack and a 3 PM snack.

  • Let Yourself Splurge Sometimes: It is okay to let yourself splurge sometimes, and honestly if you don't then you won't stick with it for a lifetime. I generally let myself have a Coke or Diet Coke once a month, something that I have completely cut out.  I also let myself have a candy bar or a bag of chips or some no-no on my list about once a week.  I know that by eating it I'm not going to sabotage myself, because in general I'm going to stick with the other changes that I've made to get as far as I have.

  • Snack After You Exercise: After I exercise I always want three things: water, a shower, and protein or dairy.  I almost always allow myself to have a small healthy snack after I exercise.  I generally crave a cheese stick or yogurt or pepperoni, something that sticks to my sides.  If you feel hungry after you exercise, allow yourself to have a small healthy snack.  After all, everything in moderation is really okay.  Just don't overdo it and sabotage the calories you just worked off.  For example, don't go for a double cheeseburger.  Choose a better alternative!

  • Stay Away from Vending Machines: Nothing good comes out of that little hole on the bottom.  Seriously.  Almost everything in a vending machine is bad for you.  Plus, you can save your money by buying healthy alternatives at the grocery store and portioning them out to yourself during the week!
Here are a few ideas for healthy snacks for yourself and your family:
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Fruit
  • Veggies (Raw broccoli, carrots, etc)
  • Nuts, any type
  • Homemade Trail Mix
  • Yogurt
  • Edamame
  • All Natural Granola Bars
  • Popcorn (without butter)
  • Protein (lean meats)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crafty Kids: Pine Cone Christmas Trees

This weekend, Hubby and I took the kids hiking and along the way we picked up three pine cones: one big, one medium and one small, just like our kids. (Oh and in case you're wondering, that's where Number Two fell and hit his lip.  You can see the result of his klutziness in many of the following photos).  

I decided it would be fun to make pine cone Christmas trees.  I went searching the world on my lunch break today for little tiny pom poms to make the ornaments.  Of course, as is my nature, I went a little crazy and ended up buying a ton of things for the kids to decorate their crafts. 



The kids begin decorating their trees -- Dad helps.
 

Number Two is hard at work decorating his tree.

Darling Daughter is quite fond of the glitter.

Number One was having a great time adding color to his tree.

Number Two made a "star" out of two big pom poms.


Darling Daughter putting the finishing touches on her tree.

Mommy even got in on the fun.  I made a star to go on Number One's tree.

Number One's finished Product.
 
I bought, from the Dollar General, little wrapped presents to put under the pine cone trees.  I put these, along with some tinsel in the bottom of a silver dish, and then arranged the Christmas trees in the middle to give the table a holiday centerpiece, with the help of my kids!
 
 
And an abstract view from above, showing all the glitter:
 
**************************************************************************************************************************************************
Materials Used:
  • Pine Cones
  • Glitter -- multi colored
  • Pom Poms -- multi sized (I actually bought a value set that had the pipe cleaners in them too)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Glue -- I used Elmer's Clear glue
  • Gold and Silver Tinsel
  • Little Wrapper Present Ornaments -- if making a centerpiece.
I found the pine cones in the woods...free.  I bought the majority of the supplies from the Dollar Tree or Dollar General...cheap.  I had to buy the pom poms from Michael's...not-so-cheap.  An hour of fun holiday craft time with the kids...priceless.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Running on my Mind

Running on my Mind

I ran 1.5 miles today in 16 minutes 44 seconds.  I didn't feel like I was going to die at all, seriously.  Most of the time, when I start off a run I feel like my bones and joints are going to break and my breathing seems irregular at first, but today it just came.  I just ran, and it felt natural.  It felt amazing.  I wanted to go 2 miles, but I need to build up slowly.

I slowed my pace today, and I think that's why it seemed so much easier to me.  I want to make it to 2 miles, then to 3.  My overall goal is to eventually be able to run a 5K. I don't want to do anything crazy like run a triathlon or a marathon or anything.  Not.for.me. 

I love running. I love the way I feel when the music is playing in my ear.  I love how I can think about everything and let the thoughts flit through my mind like snowflakes.  Running allows me to let things go.  It allows me to clear my mind, as no other activity ever has.  I feel pure solitude when I run, but not loneliness  That probably sounds cheesy, but that's how it makes me feel.  Hard to explain.

The kids are starting to ask if they can go with me.  I love that they see fitness as a way of life.  I told Number One and Number Two they could run with me tomorrow.  They are looking forward to it.  I know that with them tagging along, my pace will definitely be much slower than it was this morning, but it will be worth it to share my love of running with them.

We're taking the kids hiking today.  They are excited.  We're going to have a picnic first, then hike a little bit. We will go easy, because Hubby is still nursing his ankle.  He does not need to overdo it yet. I remember, when I was little my Dad and Mom used to take us down to the riverfront, near the silo that was once an Amtrak Station and now a restaurant.  There was a playground there with tire swings, and we would sit and have a picnic by the river, play at the playground, and watch the boats as they sped by. 

These are the types of memories I want my kids to have of their childhood.  Memories of togetherness that will stick with them forever.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful

Last week I was in a funk.  My parents were not going to be here for Thanksgiving.  My sister had adorable twins (who I can't wait to hold), and my parents were going to stay at her house to lend a hand.  I was feeling selfish and sad, like a small child.  I wanted everything to be the same.  For once in my life, I was not happy with the change in tradition. 

Almost every year at Thanksgiving, we go to my Mom's house.  My whole family comes.  My Mom invites lots of people, and we spend the time talking, laughing, and mostly eating.  I love seeing all my relatives.  I love the festivities and the overload on food.  I love the way my Mom's kitchen smells, conjuring up images from my youth. 

Then Hubby picked up a free turkey from Publix for getting his flu shot.  For some reason, he decided bigger was better and picked up a 16 pound turkey.  He said we'd just have that and some mashed potatoes.  And I said NO.  I said, I'm going to cook.  I'm going to make a Thanksgiving for our children. 

I set the menu, and I cooked and cooked all day long.  We have enough food left over to feed an army, but it was worth it to give my children a Thanksgiving that they will always remember, even if it was just with our small little family.

I pulled out the fine China.  We hadn't used it since Hubby and I moved into our apartment in Gaithersburg, MD, nine years ago.  I made beef bouillabaisse for him, and we ate off the fine China.



I spread out the food on the breakfast room table, and took a photo of all the mountains of food we will be eating over the next few weeks.  (And freezing some too). 



Number One recited his Thankful poem from school, and then we went around the table saying what we were thankful for.

Number One said: I am thankful for all of you. 

Number Two said: I am thankful for this knife.

Darling Daughter said: Food

I said: I am thankful that all of you are here with me now.  I love you, and I can't imagine my life without you.

Hubby said: He was thankful his leg was finally healed.



And then we dug into the mountains of food we had made.  Afterwards we took naps, and then went over to our neighbors' house for dessert, which was amazing and decadent!  I will need to run a lot of miles over the next few days...



I'm thankful this year for my kids, for my Hubby who has put up with a lot from me over this year, for my parents, for my siblings, my nieces and nephews.  I'm thankful I have a job and I can put food on the table to fill my childrens' bellies.  I'm thankful for my Taekwondo friends who keep me going sometimes, when the going gets tough.  I'm thankful for my best friend who is ALWAYS there to listen to me whine and complain about life.  There are too many things to list. 

Let's be thankful every day for what we have. 
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