Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Halloween...

This is Halloween...
The anticipation grows, the thought of sweet candies plucked into little mouths, smiles spread across their faces.  Is this the devil's holiday?  I think not.
Son Number One told me several kids in his class think that Halloween is the devil's holiday.  I can only think this is being spread by their churches, because we live in the South, and churches have a way of incorporating ideas into small children's heads.  (This is not always a bad thing)
In the United States, Halloween is a secular holiday.  The point of the holiday is for children to go door to door in cute costumes and gather candy.  Can you see the devil in these children?  Ha-just kidding. 
Where did Halloween come from?  All sources point to a 2000 year old Celtic tradition, called the Festival of Samhain.  Halloween comes at the time right between Fall and Winter, where coldness is coming in, concepts such as life and death were being addressed, and the lands will soon be fallow.  The Celts dressed up in costumes and lit bonfires to ward off bad spirits or ghosts, probably as a way to seek protection for the coming harshness of the winter.  Also, a pagan holiday, and nothing to do with the devil. 
Later in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saint's Day.  This is a day to celebrate saints and martyrs.  October 31 became All Hallows' Eve, which eventually turned into the secular holiday of Halloween.  In Latin America, All Saint's Day is called the Day of the Dead, in which the people honor their deceased relatives. 
Pull out the candy, and get ready for trick or treaters...
Happy Halloween!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weight Loss Tips #1: Starting Out

Weight Loss Tips #1
Sometimes the hardest part of losing weight is starting out.  We, as humans, have ways to justify everything.  If I eat three candy bars at midnight, there's no way I'll gain weight.  Or, I have been the same weight for years, even if in reality you've been gaining fifteen pounds every year for the last ten years! 
So, here are some tips to get yourself motivated to lose weight. I am not a weight loss expert, but this is what I did, and I've lost over fifty pounds now, so it may work for you, as well.
  • Start telling yourself you CAN lose the weight.  Believing you can do something is half the battle.  I think we tend to be our worse critic, and sometimes as women (and men), we look in the mirror and say to ourselves, "I've gained too much weight. There's no way I can lose this."  But, that's the wrong mentality.  If you tell yourself you CAN, then you'll start doing something about it, and you'll be surprised at how a simple change in mentality can help you motivate yourself.
  • Start with one diet change.  If you're drinking 5 sodas a day, then start by cutting it down to 3 sodas a day (or even better, no sodas per day).  If you start making one change at a time, then the whole process is less overwhelming.  I started by cutting my portion sizes down to a salad plate, and then allowing myself to have limited seconds if I wanted.  This helped me cut my portion size drastically, and it also made me realize how much I was really overeating.
  • Have a long term goal, but enact it with short term goals.  My long term goal is to be a size 8 and to lose 65 pounds.  A short term goal would be something that helps you achieve your long term goal, i.e, lose one pound this week or exercise two days this week.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Growing Up

Saturday!  My favorite day of the week.  I love the lazing around in the morning with the kids.  I love taking my time to sip on my coffee, read a book, basically do whatever I want.  Work this week was crazy busy.  It's the end of the month, so that happens, but I left work every day feeling totally exhausted. 

Still, it was a great week.

Son Number One made all As on his report card, including conduct.  This was a huge accomplishment for him...and for us.  Conduct has always been the issue.  He is naturally smart, and he works hard when he doesn't want to complain about his homework.  But, he has this idea that the rules don't apply to him.  He hates being bossed around.  He wants to do what he wants.  This year, we introduced him to the Boys' Team at gymnastics. Six hours of working out a week.  He has mad energy, so I believe this really helps with the behavior at school.  He needed an outlet, and he found what made him happy.  He's growing right up.  So proud of my silly boy!
I really see a change in him this year.  He is maturing.  He is becoming more aware of boundaries and rules.  Like my Dad said, at seven one becomes a fully aware that they are truly alive.  I see that in Number One this year.  My heart, my love, my firstborn.   
I love seeing him grow up, even though it hurts my heart a little bit.  He's so enthusiastic about life.  He enjoys living life to the fullest.  We can all learn from the simple joy of a child.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Morning Run

I ran a 9.5 minute mile today!  This was the first time I've actually run a whole mile, without taking a breathing break.  I was super excited.  I walked at the beginning and the end, and with the extra .50 miles of cool down and warm up, I still averaged a 10.3 minute mile.  So exciting.  I really like the way running makes me feel.  I never thought I would.  I always complained when I had to run, but I enjoy doing it now.  I think it's because I'm in better shape, so it makes it way easier for me to do!

At the recommendation of some of my friends, I downloaded RunKeeper on my phone, and oh my God!, it is awesome.  You can save your workouts to track your progress.  You can set a minute per mile goal.  You can also set other goals: longest distance and weight loss goals.  Plus, while you're running a lady's voice keeps up to date on how you're doing: you have run 1.00 miles in 10 minutes.  Average time 9.5 minutes, or what not.  She is awesome and motivating too!

There are also training plans: 5K, weight loss, marathon, etc.  You can sign up for these, and it tells you exactly what workout to do in order to reach your goals. 

Here is what it looks like, and I've only had it for one day and I'm already a huge fan:

So my next running goal is to be able to run 2 miles without stopping.  I'm going to keep up 1 mile for a few more workouts (three or so), and then I'll try for 1.25 miles, and I'll build up.  Time to set aside some money for running shoes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post
Thursday already.  I am always in awe of how fast the weeks go by.  Time slips by so quickly, and I can never get a grasp on it.
I had a wonderful week of making my goals!  I really stuck to my goals that I posted in last week's goal post.
  • Run: And I did.  I went on two runs this week.  One on Sunday and one on Thursday.  My conclusion: I'm not a good runner at all.  I like doing it though.  I don't know why I like it.  I've always hated it.  I can only run about .60 miles, then I have to walk, then I can run .60 miles again.  I'm going to try to build up to .75 miles this week...but now I'm jumping ahead of myself!
  • Log into MyFitnessPal.  I logged in twice, maybe three times.  I've made my caloric goals this week...maybe.  I find it funny that I can't be honest with an online calorie tracker.  The day I went to eat at Ixtapa, I quit adding foods after lunch.  So, um, I need to do a better job!
  • Accept myself.  I'm working on this.  Some days are easy and some days are hard.  I believe we are our own biggest critic, and I don't believe that ever stops.  Some day I wish I could see myself the way others see me.  I wonder what they think and how they perceive me.  That could be scary though.  Anyway--acceptance is a long term goal, probably for all of us...
Goals for the Upcoming Week
  • Run-.75 miles at a time this week.  And did you know that at 5 in the morning, the stars are incredible? I was in awe.  I'm not sure I've looked up and just stared in a long time!  I downloaded Pandora, finally, so running with good music will make things easier!
  • Lose 1 pound. Achieve this by watching what I eat and keeping better track of my food.  I feel like I'm slipping, getting comfortable and feeling like I can maintain, but I'm not ready to maintain yet.  I need to lose 15 more pounds.  So, maybe having the actual numeral goal will help me achieve this.  We'll see!
  • Work on my novel.  Quit procrastinating.  I pick it up, write a few pages, and I walk away for a week...or a year.  I know of several authors who worked on novels for many years, but I just need to work on it and finish. I know where my characters are taking me.  I just need to let them lead me there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Supposed to...

I was supposed to go on a run today.  I had good intentions.  I was going to wake up at 5, put on my running shoes, set up my music on my iphone, and take off in the neighborhood.  I was looking forward to feeling the cool air hit my face, letting my mind wander, and just being.

I was supposed to, but I didn't go.  One little Darling Daughter learned how to climb out of her crib last night.  You know the one.  She looks like this:

She was supposed to stay in bed, but she didn't.  She climbed over the sides of her crib three times, and came downstairs to lay on my lap while I was watching Copper with Hubby.  Then I took her upstairs where she was supposed to sleep in her bed, and instead she slept with me all night. 

I was supposed to put her back in her crib, but I was too tired...I suppose. 

Then in the middle of the night, Number One, who was supposed to be in his bed joined us too.  I sent him packing.  And instead of finding him in his bed this morning, where he was supposed to be, I found him sleeping tight on the green couch in the den.  At least he didn't fall asleep in his toy chest as he did back in August:

The only one who did what he was supposed to was Number Two.  He went to bed, and he stayed in his bed all night.  Let's hope he continues to do what he's supposed to do throughout today!

I better end this post, because I'm supposed to be getting ready for work...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Easy Peasy Recipes: Sausage Balls

I'd like to start a new, occasional, post on easy recipes that we like.  I've found a new love of cooking this year.  A lot of these recipes have come to me from other people.  This particular recipe was passed to me from a co-worker.  Here goes:

Cheesy Sausage Balls
This is my favorite breakfast food right now, and it is totally simple to make.  You need three ingredients: Bisquick, sausage, and cheese.
Set oven to 350.
To begin with, take your one (1) pound of sausage and place it in a mixing bowl.  Do not cook the sausage beforehand.
Pour in two cups of cheese.
Pour in three cups of Bisquick.
*Side Note: I only use 2 cups of Bisquick in this recipe, because I use organic breakfast sausage, which is not as greasy as Jimmy Dean or other types of lower grade meat.  Adjust to meet your needs.
I usually put in a little bit of water to help the Bisquick, meat and cheese stick together.  This is not necessary if you use a greasier sausage. 
Then mix.  I use a mixer with the bread attachments, and they work really well to mix the Bisquick, meat and cheese together.  The bread attachments are the ones that look like little hooks, and they come with most mixer sets. 
Once it's mixed together, you can take a scoop and scoop out balls onto a cookie sheet, or use your hands to roll balls and place them on the cookie sheet.  This recipe fills up one and half cookie sheets. 
Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes. 
The finished product:
I enjoy them hot out of the oven, and then I bag and freeze some to pull out during the week.  Just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds and they're still just as delicious.
1 lb of Pork Sausage
3 cups of Bisquick (adjust if using higher grade meat)
2 cups of Cheese (I use Cheddar)
Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Roll into balls.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Heat in the oven at 350 for 15-18 minutes. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Skinny Legs and All

                                    Then--July 2011           AND                          Now - October 2012

I attribute the title of my post to Tom Robbins' book, by the way.  One of my favorites.  Putting this collage together was HARD to do.  When I was overweight, I avoided cameras.  I didn't like the way I looked.  In the picture to the left, not only was I overweight (or probably obese), but I had also just lost my hair.  Two things that were utterly shocking to me at the time.

I decided to make a change.  I took one change at a time.  I started around November 2011, and I started making one change a week.  I set goals for myself, and I began to track them.  I stuck with it.  I stuck with exercising.  I stuck with eating right.  I allowed myself NOT to give up when I had binged or eaten too much the night before, and I ALWAYS started again the next day!

I still want to lose about fifteen pounds, but I'm happy with the way I look now.  I am proud of how far I've come, and I'm proud of the fact that I did it myself (with the support of friends and family, of course!). 

I have a good friend who says, "Why ruin a perfectly good CAN by adding a T?"  I think this is a great mantra in life.  If you want to lose weight and change your life you CAN do it.  You just have to stick to your goals and stop making excuses of why you can't do it.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  It just takes gumption.

Here are some things that helped me when I was just starting out, way back in July 2011 when I decided I HAD to make a change in my life:
  • Set Weekly goals: Setting weekly goals makes your goals seem attainable.  It is easier to look at the fact that you need to lose one pound in a week, than to look at the fact that you need to lose 75 pounds in the next year! 

  • Track your Goals: This is important!  Tracking your goals helps you see what progress you have made and what you need to work on.

  • Make ONE Change at a Time: If you are eating badly all the time and sitting on the couch, make one change at a time.  This makes the changes more manageable, and you can make another change when you're ready.  For instance, I started out by adding exercise to my life.  Then when I felt like it, I stopped snacking at night.  Then I worked on portion sizes, but I added the changes when I was ready. 

  • Surround yourself with people who support you in what you're trying to do.  It's important to have people in your life who tell you that you're doing a great job, and even people who become inspired by what you're doing and begin making changes in themselves.

I honestly believe anyone can make this change in their life.  It just takes effort, willpower, and the ability to look at how losing weight and exercising will impact your life in a positive way!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Goal Post

The Goal Post
The goal post has returned.  I like having weekly goals, as I think it helps keep me focused on what I need to do to live a productive and fulfilling life.  I've met a lot of my goals over the last year, and it's exciting to go back and read all that I accomplished, so I hope to keep this up every week again.  Time, or the lack thereof, always seems to get in the way though.
So here goes.  Goals for the next week:
  • Go for a run. Seriously.  I dreamt about running last night.  I hate running.  I've told everyone that over the last few years, that I'll never be a runner.  Maybe a sprint is more likely, or a wun (as coined by one of my friends).  But still, I am going to put on my running shoes and try to go run around the lake.  I'll see how far I get!
  • Log onto MyFitnessPal to track food again.  I think in order to lose this last 15 pounds, I'm going to have to track my calories again. And maybe I need to stop eating brownies and junk that people keep bringing into work.  I don't want to go backwards!
  • Accept myself, flaws and all.  Lately, I've been dying to put my hair in the cute little side braids everyone wears lately.  But, I have no hair!  I need to accept this.  This goal may take longer than a week.  I have good days and bad days.  I have days where I realize that having lost my hair is definitely not the end of the world, and then I have days where I just want to be "normal," even though I know normal doesn't exist.  So acceptance, yes, work on it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Throw a Fit

Expert advice from Darling Daughter, affectionately called Shoo-Shoo:

Step 1: Choose something to be mad about; in this case, a delay in being able to go swimming.

Step 2: Throw yourself down on the ground, ever so primly, and begin to cry. 

Step 3: And this may be the most important step: Make sure someone is watching you.  If they're not, stop what you're doing!


Step 4: Begin moving closer to Mom or Dad, and have a temporary moment of pure, unadulterated, two-year old pleasure, complete with showing off panties, as only a small child can get away with!

Step 5: Once you are closer to Mom and Dad, begin throwing the fit again. Sink to the ground:

Step 6: Throw yourself on the ground, and begin kicking your legs, with your mouth wide open. Don't stop!

Step 7: Eventually, your parents may be big enough suckers to let you get your way!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Memories of my Grandparents

Yesterday, I was sitting in the car driving to work letting my mind wander.  I had memories pop in, randomly.  It never ceases to amaze me how you can be staring at the back of someone’s hoop-dee and all of a sudden your brain takes you to another place.

Recently, my memories have been centered around my grandparents, Gigi and Gipop.  I saw them taking me to the Junior Museum in Tallahassee.  I “watched myself” preaching in the little chapel there, Gigi taking photos of me and laughing her head off.  Then we had a picnic of fried chicken, good Southern food, with Gigi and Gipop afterwards. 
Gipop and Me on my wedding day

I thought about going to Publix, which I thought was the coolest grocery store, because we didn’t have one in Montgomery.  Gipop let us pick out whatever ice cream flavor we wanted. I usually picked Neapolitan, because I thought it was cool to sample all three flavors! 

Back at their house, Gigi would make a salad with lettuce, a banana cut in half slathered with mayonnaise and nuts on top.  I remember thinking it was the strangest salad, but I always loved the way it tasted.  To this day, I think about that salad and it reminds me nostalgically of those long summer days with my grandparents. 

So many good memories.  Gigi and Gipop had a box of Legos to play with, and I would sit on the floor for hours making creations while they watched the “boring news,” McNeill Lehrer hour on PBS.  Their television was only ever on for news.  The rest of the time, we sat on the couch and read, or talked.  I’m convinced that my grandparents instilled a love of reading into me at an early age.  Their house was filled with books ready to take you on whatever adventure lay behind the pages. 

Gipop told ghost stories from his youth in South Carolina, and I used to lay my head on his big belly and he’d say, “I kind of like you, gal!”  I still say that to my kids today, but because they never had the gift of knowing Gipop they simply don’t understand the tenderness behind the saying.

We used to go to Wakulla Springs, and we’d take a glass bottom boat tour through the swampy Florida marsh.  There would be huge alligators on the banks, and you could see fish and alligators swimming underneath the boat.  Afterwards, we’d eat either a picnic or in the café, then we’d swim in the “lake” which seemed dangerously close to the sunbathing gators on the other bank.  I never remember being scared of them though!  In the café, there was a huge alligator named Joe who had been killed at the Springs and stuffed.  He was shot dead by a poacher in 1966, even though he had never bothered anyone. 
Back at Gigi’s and Gipop's we’d spend nights playing Scrabble.  I always cheated, by using the little Scrabble dictionary, because otherwise I could never beat my grandmother, who had an immense vocabulary stored in her head. My oldest sister sometimes would beat her, and I always felt jealous, because I could never win!
Gipop always liked it cold.  Ice cold.  He drove me home from Tallahassee, or maybe just halfway, one time. I sat in the back, and I froze the whole time, but I never said anything.  When I transferred to my Dad’s car, I asked if he could put on the heat.  He laughed, and he told my grandfather that I’d been so cold the whole ride! 

I miss them, and I know how privileged I was to have them in my life.  These memories almost make me feel as if they are still here with me. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Exercise is A Way Of Life

Exercise is a way of life, which few of us can afford to ignore.  Obesity rates in the United States are rising.  Our children sit around, inside, playing video games, watching television, stuffing their face with processed junk.  Not even food...just junk. 

Just a year ago, I used to be one of those junk-eaters, couch-sitters, non-exercising morons!  I sat on the couch, and I felt like I'd be okay even if I was overweight.  My children followed my lead.  They became couch potatoes.  They became mindless TV zombies.  And then I made a change.  I got up, off the couch, and I moved.  I stopped making excuses for why I couldn't exercise and I started making excuses for why I HAD to exercise. 

There are tons of health benefits from exercising: extend your life, decrease the chance of heart disease, and lose weight.  But, there also emotional benefits.  Exercise raises the serotonin in your blood.  It makes you look at the world differently.  It gives you an outlet for all the little stresses in your life. 

Most important to me is that my children see me leading a healthy life, and they are starting to follow my example.  After dinner, we used to always sit around and watch television, but now the kids want to go for a walk or a bike ride.  If parents make a change, so will the kids.  They will follow suit.  So put on your walking shoes, and take a family walk.  Make a change to your life today, in order to show your children how they should live their life.  Pass on the gift of health and happiness by living as an example.

Get outdoors: run, swim, walk, just move! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Month Hiatus

I've been gone from the blogging world for THREE months.  I've been consumed by reading, taekwondo, kids, husband.  Too many good things and too many bad things going on for me to focus on writing.  I always come back to writing though.  I miss it too much.

I'm only about fifteen pounds away from my weight goal.  Here's a recent photo of me with Darling Daughter:

I'm starting to feel more comfortable with my baldness.  I've been completely bald over a year now.  I will now leave the house bald without a second thought.  I generally only wear my wig on weekdays, to work.  I hate the wig.  I would rather be bald all the time.  I know how to address the questions, and the look of sadness in people's eyes when they see my bald head and three kids!
I went to a spin class with my dear friend, Miranda Grace, the other day.  Afterwards, a woman came up to me and said, "You did such a great job!  You're such an inspiration to us!" 
I just shook my head and I said, "I don't have cancer.  I just have alopecia."
She looked at me and asked a few questions then said, "Well, you're still an inspiration.  You're 'real.'  You truly are who you are."
Who else would I be?
The three musketeers are doing wonderfully.  I am in awe as their personalities develop, and they grow and change.
Number One is an extrovert just like his mother!  He can't get enough of friends and play.  He is on the gymnastics team this year, and he works out six hours a week.  He loves physical exertion, and it helps control some of the manic energy he has.  He still scares me with his wild streak, and his independence.  He is definitely a risk taker.  He decided this year to cut off all his curls, and I finally let him. My sweet firstborn is growing up more quickly than I want! 
Number Two started preschool this year.  I was convinced, he would be my struggle as far as school is concerned, but so far he has not proved so.  He is good natured, and he is a rule follower.  He learns easily, and without much instruction.  He still tends to be my couch potato. 
In fact, when I asked him if he wanted to take taekwondo this year, he said no.  I asked why not.  He said, "Mom, I don't like to exercise, and they make me stand the whole time!"  He is still in love with Lightning McQueen, and loves to play "Injas!" 
And Darling Daughter.  The little bit of pink in my life.  She is growing.  Her vocabulary has expanded lately, and true to the nature of a girl, she is bossy and demanding!  She is a sweet girl too, and fiercely attached to me and her Big Daddy!  She loves to pretend to go shopping. 
The other day, we were having pork chops for dinner.  She said, "What for dinner, Mommy?" I said, "Pork chops, sweetie."  She looked up at me, full of sass, and put her hand on her hip and said, "I have cereal for dinner, OK Mommy?"  I stared at her in disbelief.  No, not okay!  She ended up eating a whole pork chop!

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