Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dare to be Bare

Most days I walk through life with a wig on my head.  I go to work with a wig every day, covering up the fact that I have no hair, one of the most unique things about me  Everyone at my office knows I'm bald, but for some reason I don't feel comfortable there without my hair.  It seems unprofessional, and I don't know why.  Plus, since I work in a service-based field, all the questions from customers would probably be a bit overwhelming. 

My Mom and I went out the other day to look for new hair, because I hadn't bought a wig in about a year.  My old one was getting old and dirty, but had lasted the longest out of all my wigs so far.  We went to the same place, and I bought this:

I absolutely love it!  I think it's cute on me.  The only problem is the bangs swoop into my eyes a little bit more than I'd like. (I probably just need to part it differently)  It has a micro-filament cap on the inside, so you can actually see my scalp through the top instead of the stitches that were on my other wig.  This makes it look more real. 
Still, when I'm at home and on weekends I'd rather just walk around bald.  I feel comfortable enough with myself not to cover up the fact that I don't have hair.  It's taken me a long time to accept that I have alopecia areata and my hair probably will not grow back.  I don't mind explaining the disease to folks and telling them what it is, and in fact it can start some pretty funny conversations, especially with kids. 
The other day Darling Daughter and I were looking at photos on the phone:
DD: Mommy has hair in this photo.
Me: Do I always have hair?
DD: Looks at me quizzically.  No.  She's probably wondering why I'm asking her these silly questions.
Me: Why not?
DD: Because you took it off. 
As plain as day, those words came out of her mouth.  Pure and simple acceptance even though she knows this is different.  She doesn't remember me any other way, besides bald and with a wig.  I'm sure when she's older she'll question why I don't have hair, but for right now she just accepts it for what it is. 
And speaking of alopecia: yesterday, I received an email for their 28th Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri this year. 
I would seriously LOVE to go to this, but we simply don't have the funds.  I would love to be an inspiration to some children who are struggling with the fact that they are different.  I'd love to hear what they have to say about research, cures, acceptance.  I finally started giving to NAAF this year, because I thought if there's one cause I should support it's this, something so personal to me. 
The NAAF website is full of wonderful resources for people with alopecia areata.  It lists support groups, personal stories of people with alopecia, the latest research news, and how to cope when you or your child has just been diagnosed.  A wonderful resource for anyone struggling with this autoimmune skin disease. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weight Loss Tips #13: Scheduling and Consistency

I woke up today with the strangest memory.  I had this memory of going down to the Alabama River with my parents when I was a kid, sitting on the big steps and eating a huge Wendy's cheeseburger. (This is probably because my husband left Wendy's coupons in the kitchen for some unknown reason!)  My parents used to take the four of us down to the river on Sundays a lot.  It was one of the only times we would be allowed to have fast food and SODA!  We would picnic, watch the boats on the river, and then play on the long-since gone wooden playground near the Silos.  Some of my best memories are from those Sundays spent with my family. 

Of course the portion sizes back then, even at Wendy's, were smaller than they are today.  So my huge Wendy's cheeseburger was (maybe) an appropriate size for a seven or eight year old girl wearing turquoise overalls covered in butterflies.  Oh the 80's! 

Anyway--I'll get to the point of this blog, because apparently I just love to change subjects.  One of my co-workers yesterday said this to me, "I don't know how you do everything, Lauren."  That little statement got me thinking, because you know, I just love to spin the wheels in my brain. 

What does it take to lose weight?  It takes a REALISTIC schedule and CONSISTENCY!  I have a little bit of an obsessive compulsive personality, and when I started out I wanted to workout every single night.  I wanted to go to Taekwondo no matter what else was going on in my life.  This was not REALISTIC!!!  For one thing, I was missing out on my children's lives.  Another, I was not giving my body the time it needed to rest.

So, when you're starting a workout routine you need to ask yourself: How many days can I feasibly workout?  What times can I go?  When can I fit this into my schedule?  You need to do this and still make sure you have time for yourself, time for your spouse, time for your kids, and time to rest.  So, if the only times you have to work out are at 5 AM, then I suggest finding a morning Boot Camp, or finding a really good video that you know you'll stick to.  I, for one, really like a class because of the accountability factor, but classes are not for everyone and will not fit into everyone's lives as easy as they have into mine. 

And now for the big one: BE CONSISTENT!!!  Once you start eating well and exercising right make it a part of your life.  You know how they always say the key to disciplining a child is consistency.  Well the key to disciplining yourself is exactly the SAME.  Once you've committed to going to the gym three days a week: GO!  Stop making EXCUSES!!!  It will take weeks and weeks before you actually want to do it, so just drag yourself out of the house with the negative talk going in your head, until one day you just get in your car and drive there and realize this is now a part of your life. 

The same goes for eating well.  Yes, eating a big Wendy's burger every once in a while, will not derail you, but once you've changed the way you eat you need to try to stick with it.  Go to the grocery store and make the right food choices.  Read labels, and see if you're eating actual food or just STUFF with salt added.  Gravitate towards natural foods and try to eat whole foods more often.  Soon, you'll notice that instead of that candy bar for snack you'll want some carrots, a banana, or some nuts. 

*Artwork found on Google

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Writing: The Next Step

So I finished my novel.  I sent it out to a few close people in my life.  I received feedback from some, mostly good, but as my Dad says that could be because they're close to me.  I've received two sets of revisions (thanks Aubrey and Mike!).  I'm waiting on more.  I did read through Aubrey and Mike's revisions, and I've thought of a few changes I could make to the novel before sending it off.  I'm in the waiting period between completion and revision though.  I'm letting it sit and ferment, like a fine wine. 

Sending it off: Scary!  This is the process I know absolutely nothing about.  I need to attend some writer's conferences or something.  I need to figure out where to go from here.  I need to find a dart set to hang my rejection letters on.  Yes, I need to revise the book once or twice before that point, but research is always a good place to start.

I began last week by joining Writer's Market.  Stephen King recommended this site to me, and when Stephen King talks you listen (Okay, yeah, you're right it was not a personal recommendation!).  And one of the best authors of our time was discovered through Writer's Market: Stephanie Meyers the author of the Twilight Series.  See, I probably do have a chance. 

With Writer's Market comes all these email advertisements for Writer's Digest, and because of my crazy busy schedule I  haven't had the time to actually peruse Writer's Market.  I've just had the time to become annoyed with the junk mail filling my inbox.  I need to take the next step and start researching agents. 

The thing is: I love to write.  I would love to become published and make millions of dollars becoming the next Louisa May Alcott or Joyce Carol Oates or Jodi Piccoult, but let's face it, that's not the reason I do it.  I do it for myself, to release thoughts that have nowhere to go, to scribble down on paper the ideas that fill my head, to give a home to the characters who live inside of me.  I have a deep seated desire to write.  Sure, it would be nice to become the next best thing, but that's not why I do it.  I do it because I love it, and you should always try to do what you love to to do. 

It would be completely amazing to become a total sensation and to be able to live off doing something that I love to do.  Something I consider a hobby.  Something I consider totally cathartic.  Something I consider as part of myself.  Amazing, but probably not so realistic.

We'll just have to see where to go from here. I'm going to keep on writing.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meet Season is Upon Us!

We are smack in the middle of Gymnastics's Meet Season for Number One.  The traveling is killing me.  I never knew how much sitting in a car and driving places could tire you out.  Plus, eating yucky food on the road.

This weekend, Number One and I stayed with my friend Stacy.  She and I've been friends since we were four!  We used to both take piano lessons at Mrs. Nichols' house.  Friends for a lifetime, literally.  It's wonderful to have friends like that, who you can leave and come back to and it's like no time has ever past.  You're so comfortable with them, they're almost part of your family.   I really need to thank Stacy's husband Amir for making sure we had healthy food at their house. And by the way: Number One LOVED the smoothie you made. He talked about it three times on the ride home!

Number One attended the GAA's Men's Invitational in Kennesaw, Georgia.  We had to be there at 8 AM on Saturday morning (which is 7 AM our time).

We woke up, and I was just chatting with Stacy in the kitchen, and she says, "When are you going to get Number One up?"

I said, "Oh, I'll give him a little bit longer to sleep." 

Then I glanced at the clock and it said 7:15!  "Stacy, is that the right time?"

She nodded, and we went into full motion, waking up Number One, throwing on gymnastics's clothes, scarfing down part of a waffle, and then eating mint chocolate chip cookies in the car!  My iPhone had not changed over to Eastern time, so when I woke up I thought it was only 6:15!

We made it to the meet at 8:01, and my child who is punctual like I am said, "Mom, I'm late!" 

Of course, he wasn't.  They were just warming up on the floor.  The gym was well lit, and I went upstairs to join the other parents, grab a cup of coffee from the concession stand, and watch Number One compete.

Number One and the United Boy's Team before the competition at the GAA Men's Invitational

He did well, but the competition was fierce, and I think he was still weak from strep the week before and from going to Nashville and missing a few days in the gym.  Coach Ken was super proud of him though, and so was I. 

Here are his scores for the day:

Floor: 9.3 -- 4th overall (and I don't really have a video for this, because I didn't know he had started!  This was his best place of the day).

Pommel: 8.2 -- 8th overall (proud of this, as pommel horse is usually his weakest!)

Vault: 8.2 -- did not place.  He did a flip on vault, and then started crying.  It was heartbreaking for me, but he sat up, stuck his arm in the air, looked at the judge, and sucked it up until he joined his group.  Ken said it was his proudest moment of the meet, because Number One showed integrity and sportsmanship, even though he was upset with himself, and he scored better than we thought he would.

Rings: 8.3 -- tied for 6th with another child on his team. 

P Bars: 8.6 -- did not place

H-Bars: 9.7 -- did not place.  I looked at the list, and he came in 10th with that high of a score.  Like I said, fierce competition.  A child on his team took 1st in this event though!

He came in 8th all around, and I was so proud of him.  Afterwards, we went out to eat Chinese with Stacy and her son, and then saw Frankenweenie at the $1 theater.  Then Number One fell into bed around 6 PM and slept until 7 the next morning.  He was worn out!

Friday, January 25, 2013


I woke up making excuses this morning for why I couldn't go for my run.  The excuses went like this: it might be cold, I have to drive to Atlanta tonight, I'm not even packed, I'm still sore from Taekwondo last night and kisado the night before, and the best one ever: I just don't want to go.  All of these excuses got me thinking, as I dressed reluctantly for my run and headed out the door. 

As I ran I thought about excuses, and I thought that I really need to stop making them.  I sat on the couch for years making excuses about why I couldn't do things.  I can't write, because no one will want to read it, or I'll never come up with a good enough story, or my dialogue and description stinks. I can't exercise because I don't have enough time.  I can't eat healthy because healthy food costs too much money.

Give me a break!  When you make excuses, the only person you're holding back is yourself. You're stopping yourself from realizing your full potential.  Stop making excuses about why you can't do things and start making excuses about why you have to! 

I have to exercise, because it's good for my health and my body and my mind.  I have to write, because it's something I love to do, it gives me a feeling of satisfaction, and it makes me feel whole.  I have to eat healthy foods to nourish my body and to set an example for my children so that they live healthy lives too. 

It's just as easy to make a positive excuse to do something than a negative one, and it makes you feel about a thousand times better.  Postive excuses also help motivate you, while negative excuses help you procastinate: putting off something that could change your life in ways you never realized. 

I'm still making excuses though. Today I had to do an interval run.  One minute fast, 1.5 minutes slow.  I HATE interval running.  Every time the lady's voice would ring out through my headphones and say, "One minute fast," in her sing-song voice, I'd think to myself, "Geez lady, I'm not a gazelle!"   Then when she would come on and say, "One minute thirty seconds slow," I'd think, "Is walking slow enough?  Can I just walk?"  I was making excuses to a recorded voice in my iPhone (thanks Mike--it's spelled correctly here!).  And that is so silly.  So I started making good excuses to myself, "The quicker I run, the quicker I can get home to my coffee, type my blog, and work a little bit on my novel."  That was my motivation, and it worked. 

For my interval workout today, I did 2.19 miles in 21 minutes 38 seconds for an average minute per mile of 9 minutes 54 seconds.  Not so bad, even though I did walk a little bit.  Next time I'll have to make a perfectly good excuse NOT to walk!

*Artwork found on Google.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weight Loss Tips #12: Stop Comparing

So I was sitting on my couch this morning thinking about what to type to you folks, who are wildly anticipating my new weight loss tips edition.  At some point, I'll probably run out of weight loss tips because most of these are common sense, and because you'll have everything you need to know in order to change your lifestyle.

I've been a little down on myself lately, because I still want to lose fifteen pounds and I haven't been able to do so.  Last night, I was wondering if giving up my coffee with creamer would be worth the 15 pound weight loss, and my answer to myself was NO!!!  My body is healthy, I exercise 6 days a week, and I eat well most days.  I know I'm leading a healthy life, so maybe I don't really need to lose another 15 pounds.  Maybe my body just needs to stay where it is.  So without further ado, my big weight loss tip for today is this:

Don't Compare Yourself To Others:  Human nature, you might say?  Comparing ourselves to others is natural, but it is a huge no-no in weight loss or for body image.  Every body is different.  Everyone loses weight in different ways.  If you're looking at your best friend and wondering how she can still wear a Size 4 jean, even though she's popped out six babies then you're not doing it right.  Confidence in YOURSELF is what it takes to lose weight.  Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, including that skinny actress who exercises 80 hours a week and lives off soy milk, and start thinking about where YOU want to be and how YOU'RE going to get there.  Live with a positive self image, inside and out and it will be easier to lose the weight.  And praise yourself for the progress you make every day, and for your ability to create a healthy lifestyle.  It's cliche, but don't compare apples to oranges.  Nothing good comes from it!

Going along with this, women don't compare yourself to men.  Men, in general, have a easier time losing weight.  It seems like they can cut out a candy bar a week and lose 50 pounds, and we whine and complain it's not fair.  There's a reason we have an extra layer of fat or two: to haves babies and to protect our young.  So if your husband, boyfriend, lover is losing weight quickly and you're not, STOP comparing yourself to him.  You'll lose it eventually, if you make the right changes to your lifestyle.

And my motto for the year: NEVER GIVE UP!!!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Must Be Crazy

I seriously must be crazy. I had committed this year to do a 5K.  Remember?  It was one of my 2013 Goals.  Well last week, my co-worker sent out an email about a 10K race that the Montgomery Junior League is Sponsoring. I thought, "Wow, there's no way I'm doing that.  I have to do my 5K first."  I mean, a 10K is TWICE as long as a 5K, and I haven't gotten close to running 6 miles yet. 

So yesterday I hit the reply button, and I told Amy that I would run the Shamrock Shuffle.  Seriously, I'm crazy.  Anyway, my goal is to run at least a 5K and then maybe walk the remaining 5K, unless I really amp up my training between now and then.  Or who knows, become Superwoman?  That would be great.  I could get a lot done in my life if I had super powers!

So if any other runners in Montgomery want to run with me, just let me know.  I can get Amy to help sign you up.  I'm excited for it, but a little bit nervous about the commitment of a 10K.  At least the run is located near where I run every day, so I'm used to the terrain. 
I'm typing this while sitting on the couch and drinking coffee.  I was supposed to go for a run this morning, but I woke up cold and I did not want to go out in the 34 degree weather.  I'm going to have to give that attitude up if I want to achieve my goal and run the Shamrock Shuffle!  I need to put in more and longer miles.  I know I can do it, it's just a matter of setting my mind to it.
Now on to another topic...
I've been brainstorming about finding an agent for my book and figuring out how to go about getting published.  I've received positive feedback from the few people who have read it so far.  I did a no-no last night, and I opened up the revisions that my friend Aubrey sent me.  I looked through, and I made a few adjustments.  In one point, I had changed the character's last name several times.  I love the "find and replace" feature in Word.  It makes my life so easy.  My sister said she thinks the book is totally marketable.  And I'm realizing that when people read my work it makes me happy, even excited, to see their take on it.  I hate criticism, but I WANT them to critique it and tell me what needs to be added, changed, and where the holes are.  I WANT them to tell me if the story flows and makes sense or if I need to change things around, delete, etc. 
I've been reading a lot on the Internet about the world of publishing, and I know the steps I need to take.  I'm steeling my heart for the rejection slips that will follow too.  You have to deal with rejection in order to get to the good stuff in life.  And most importantly, I'm still writing.  I've scribbled down approximately 10,000 words on my 2nd novel, which is whole-heartily different than my first and taking me longer because I've had to do some research on what life in Alabama was like in the 1920's.   
I'm achieving my goals this year, and I'm doing things I didn't even think I could do last year.  It's such an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog Break: Lending a Hand

I had a small blog break over the long weekend.  Son Number One and I drove up to Tennessee to see my sister and help out with the twins while my Mom had a break. I realized two things while I was there: a) I'm so so glad I don't have twins and b) I really miss writing when I don't do it every day.

I did not bring a computer, so I did not write at all. I didn't even work on my novel, although I brainstormed almost all the way home.  (And I did get in about 30 minutes of work last night before falling into bed!) 

Number One came down with a virus the second day he was there, so he quarantined himself to the apartment and watched hours and hours of television.  He told his brother last night that his favorite thing was playing with his 5 year old cousin and watching T.V. for a whole day.  Wow--I'm such a great parent!  If I was a parent of twins and two older kids, then my kids would probably sit in front of the T.V. all day long. 

Incidentally, I think I've owned those snowman PJs since college!
I also came off my exercise schedule completely, which is a big no-no.  I have to try harder to work it in next time I go up (in February). The first day there, Ali and I walked and I pushed 80 pounds of kids in a stroller up a big hill.  That was a great arm workout.  Then the sleepless nights came, and crying babies, followed of course by coos and smiles that make it all worth it, and I just did not feel like exercising.

I did wake up one morning at 5:30 and hopped on Jeffy Poo's spin bike.  Talk about sore.  I took a nap that afternoon, and I woke up to my calves burning.  I guess I don't work those muscles running or in Taekwondo.  I felt it, even though I only got in 20 minutes.

With all of those sleepless nights, I should have finished reading my book, but I didn't.  Instead, I watched almost the whole 4th Season of Parenthood. 

My Aunt Lynn and my cousin Shanna came up from Kentucky while we were there too.  We had Nuvo Burrito (the Gulf Coaster is fantastic!) and chatted, sharing stories of my grandparents and our childhood and of course, holding babies and playing with the bigger kids.  My Aunt Susan and her husband David joined us the next day for a bagel breakfast.  I just love my family.

My cousin, Shanna, is an extremely talented designer, and she transformed my sister's living room just by moving things around and using the pieces Ali had in different ways.  It looked like a completely different room when she left.  Amazing! 

I do have to say though, waking up at 4:30 this morning and going for a jog, then coming home to type away on my computer felt so good!  I am so used to my routine.  I guess, I like Number One, really enjoy the natural flow of things.  Of course, I'm going to miss the sweet smiles of my precious nephews, but I'll get to see them in a month, and hand them back when I go. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Goal Accomplished: Finish my Novel

Check one off my list for 2013, I finished my novel yesterday!  I am psyched, but now the real work begins. I sent the work to a few of my close friends and relatives for their constructive feedback.  I know I have a lot of grammatical issues to clear up, because let's face it: when you write something that's 230 pages you can't always be perfect.  Plus, I'm sure there are holes in the story, and plot clean-up that needs to be done in the second revision.  Still I'm glad to have it done.
Some of you have been asking what it's about and simply put: it's a love story with a little bit of a tragic twist.  I'm not sharing too many details, because I want y'all to read it when it's published (even if it takes me the rest of my life to do that). 

So what am I doing now?  Am I still writing? Yes.  I started my second piece of work last night, an idea that popped in my head one morning while writing Untitled Novel #1.  Idea #2 is a different story line, a very different plot than Novel #1, even a different genre. I'm meddling with the notion of making Idea #2 a short story, to try to submit to some online publishing companies in order to gain some recognition.  I'm following Stephen King's advice to start the next piece of work while some trusted friends are reading your current work, then put it aside for six weeks, and go back to do revisions when you're not so attached to your characters or the plot line, or where people's advice (even constructive) doesn't make you want to throw up.

Next: I need to research publishers, and then I guess I need to start the submission process.  I know it is difficult to get any work published these days, but I really want to try, as this has been one of my dreams my entire life. 

I started writing stories when I was 7 years old, never finishing, but always writing.  I have stacks and stacks of notebook paper and old printer paper filled with stories I began and never finished.  I used to write about these little boy triplets, and then I wrote about the Civil War, something I was completely fascinated with as a child.  I grew in my writing as I grew into myself.

It is simply an amazing feeling to accomplish one of your dreams. 

I have achieved one of my life goals, and that is an incredible feeling.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weight Loss Tips 11: What to Eat and How to Keep Going

I'm exhausted this morning.  Darling Daughter crawled into bed with us some time in the middle of the night, and she thinks that her little 2 year old body should own the whole bed!  She sleeps on my head, on my pillow, on my stomach.  So much for her staying in her bed.  I really need to work on that after my upcoming road trips, because I'm pretty much out of town every weekend for the foreseeable future, and Darling Daughter will be Hubby's child.  Hopefully without me here, he can whip her into shape (not literally, because we rarely spank!). 

So this mornind I was laying in bed wondering what I was going to blog about.  I don't really have many more weight loss tips up my sleeves.  Yesterday, I randomly took photos of my breakfast and snacks to show you what healthy, clean eating looks like, so here they are:

For breakfast, I had a bowl of Oats with fresh cut up strawberries.  I buy the regular Old Fashioned Oats, and for sweetness I add honey.  Honey is a natural sugar, so your body processes it better than pure white sugar.  I cook my oatmeal with 2% milk for the calcium.  This is so tasty.  Then, I added a boiled egg for some protein to tide me over.  I was seriously stuffed after I ate this.  Oatmeal expands in your stomach, and it keeps you full for a longer time in the morning and less likely to snack. 
Snacking is not bad though if you're aware of what you're putting in your mouth.  Here are the snacks I brought to work yesterday.  If I have these, then I'm way less likely to go to that EVIL vending junk machine that is in our hallway!  My snacks consists of a bag of pistachios, an orange, a banana, and a homemade trail mix.  The trail mix will last me a few days, as that portion size is way too big to eat in one day.  It consists of mixed nuts, raisins, Chex mix, and a few chocolate and peanut butter chips.  The homemade trail mix is really my favorite snack.  I bring it to work almost every day. Nuts provide you protein and energy throughout the day, and they also make you less hungry. 
Now that you have some visual aids, here are a few tips for this week:
  • Stay Consistent: If you've already committed to exercising and reducing your food intake, stay consistent.  This doesn't mean you can't splurge, but make the conscious decision to live your life in a healthy way every day. 
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Planning out your meals and your snacks helps you avoid eating catastrophes.  Having pre-packaged snacks at work might help you avoid eating something that you shouldn't.  Having a plan is always a good thing!
  • Incorporate Exercise in Your Life: Exercise can be so fun!  That's why I go to Taekwondo, because I enjoy doing it so much, and I also get the added benefit that it's good for me.  I went to a Latin Craze class earlier this week, which I loved but alas I have no more time or money in my life to join yet another exercise group!  You'll find once you incorporate exercise in your life, you'll miss it when you don't do it.  Exercise is great for your mental health too.
  • Never Give Up: If you give up, you'll never know what you're capable of achieving! I've achieved so many things this year I never thought I could do, because I never gave up.  I can ran 3 miles now, where six months ago I couldn't even run 1!  I can do it, because I stuck to it. I trusted myself, I egged myself on, and I stopped the negative feed in my head, tuning only in to the positive. You can do it too!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Acting in Kindness Every Day

I've had a hard time coming up with more acts of kindness to do lately.  Since I've started being conscious of being kind, my whole mentality has changed, and I do things randomly that I never would have done since I began this project.

Over the weekend, two opportunities presented themselves:

Act #15: One of my high school friends emailed me over the weekend.  She asked if I was running, and she told me about this cool iPhone App called Charity Miles.  Basically, this program gives .25 cents a mile to a charity that you choose from their list. So on my first run of 2 miles, it gave $0.50.  They do this by finding sponsors for the miles that you run. 

I chose the Feeding America charity from their list, because I absolutely hate that there are children in the U.S. who still go to bed hungry at night.  The app sent me an email confirming that my .50 cents will provide 4 meals to hungry people in the United States.  Pretty neat and a simple way to give and get motivated to run.  I just have to remember to turn it on every time I'm running.
Act # 16: Hubby and I took the kids grocery shopping on Sunday to pick up a few goodies before the Patriots game.  When we were leaving, I walked around to buckle Number Two into his carseat, and I noticed that someone had left a whole meal on the ground, just deposited their trash in the parking lot.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I hate litterers.  How hard is it to walk the 500 feet to the trashcan in front of the store, rather than leave your trash to dirty our nation or for someone else to step in? I picked it up and walked it to the trashcan, throwing it away.  An easy, free act of kindness, and maybe someone who saw me picking up trash will think before they litter. 
What acts of kindness have you done lately?  Feel free to share in the comment section.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Moving Through The Week

I slept until 6:15 AM this morning, the latest I've slept in a long time.  Some of our friends took Number One to spend the night with their son last night.  And...wait for it...Darling Daughter slept through the night in her own bed for the second night in a row!  I've probably jinxed myself by writing this, but this is a small miracle in my life.  Now, if only we could get her fully potty trained, and I'd have three kids in their own beds and three kids out of diapers!  That will be an amazing day for me. 

I'm letting Hubby sleep in, and the kids are non-ideally parked in front of the television watching Ninjago.  My boys love Ninjago. Darling Daughter likes it too, but her favorite is Mickey Mouse.

Today RunKeeper says I need to do a 45 minute SLOW Jog/Walk.  I've never run 45 minutes, so this will be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it.  I ran a lot this week, and I went to TaeKwonDo three times this week.  I'm still sore from Taekwondo, all the way up my arms and on my chest and back.  We killed the push ups this week, and I have terrible upper body strength although I am making strides in that department.

Last week I ran 6.8 miles at a snail's pace according to RunKeeper, but that was my goal with my training program.  There's nothing wrong with a snail's pace!  By the way that was 11 minutes 25 seconds average miles per minute.  I'm slowing my time to achieve longer distances.  This works wonders.  Usually by the time I make it to 20 minutes I don't feel like stopping.  Hopefully this means 45 minutes will be easy for me.

I enjoy running so much.  I love the way it makes me feel.  I feel like I own the land I run on.  I know that's sort of a crazy phrase, but when I drive the roads I run I feel like I've accomplished so much. Running in the morning is amazing too, watching the sun come up is like greeting every single day.  I feel like I've already started my day on the right foot (pun not intended) when I begin my day with a run.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2013: A Banner Year!

I am a writing fool this week!  I have sat down every morning, blogged and then worked on my novel.  I'm fitting it into my routine, and I'm thankful that I have the time every day to do something I love so much.

This week has seriously been the best for my family.  At the end of the year, I received a promotion.  I'm now working for the CEO at my office.  I started shadowing the outgoing assistant on Monday, and I honestly really like the job.  I'm also thankful for the extra money, which we really needed to support three kids: one in private school, one in daycare, and one in gymnastics (which costs almost as much as private school per year)!  Plus, miscellaneous expenses that are ALWAYS coming up! 

Yesterday was my first day doing the job on my own, and I do think I will be able to perform it with ease, but I'll continue to be busy which is super important for me.  Hubby called me in the morning.  He sounded down.

Me: "Are you okay?"

Hubs: "I guess."

Me: "What's going on?"

Hubs: "I just got a promotion, with a raise!!!"

Me: "Oh my God!  2013 is the best!!!"

Seriously, thank God we've left the hell year of 2012 in the dust, because 2013 is already becoming a banner year!  I attribute this to the fact that both Hubby and I looked at our life and we were unhappy with our mindless meandering. We both worked on ourselves: our attitude, our bodies, our minds. We both set goals.  We became more goal-oriented, more cognizant of those around us, and of course harder workers.  Working harder always gets you somewhere.

Now for a little bit of superstition: What goes around comes around.  Since I started doing #26Acts and really giving to people, even perfect strangers the Universe has started to repay me. 

This started simply, with a man in a restaurant giving me 2 quarters so the kids could get gumballs after their meal.  He didn't know me from Adam (who is Adam anyway?), but he felt like he wanted to give something to me and make my kids happy.  Even little gestures of kindness like that can make a person's day. 

Then the other morning, the kids left the lights on in my car and my car wouldn't start.  For some reason we were having trouble putting the car into neutral.  I walked down to the construction workers in my neighborhood, and they quickly and willingly came to help.  They did it with smiles on their faces.  I still need to make muffins for them.  Give back. 

Giving to others is amazing.  Not only does it make you feel good, but maybe the spirit starts to infect other people, and before you know it people will be giving back to you. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Goals: What Am I Achieving?

I thought today would be a good day to re-examine the goals I set at the beginning of the year (11 days ago!). I don't think I'm going to keep a weekly goal section anymore, but I am going to update my yearly goal progress, and add more goals as the year progresses.

The first two weeks of 2013 have been hectic, and they'll continue to be through February.  It's Number One's meet season, so we will be traveling almost every weekend until the end of February (plus I'm throwing in a few trips to see my darling nephews too!).  Busy!  I like being busy though.  The busier the better.   

I'm only going to update the goals that I've actually worked on and not whine about why I haven't accomplished the ones I haven't started! 

So, as far as my goals, here's where I am:

  • Run 315 Miles this Year: I've run 5, but RunKeeper says I've run 3, because one day I accidentally set the program for walking instead of running, and I can't find out how to change it!  I think I'll be able to make this goal easily, as I've really incorporated running in my life now.  I'm even getting Number One involved.  He ran 1.38 with me yesterday (he's a faster runner than me, but he doesn't know how to pace himself yet). 
  • Finish My Novel: I am almost there.  I have 56,000 words down on paper.  I know that's a ton.  When I read Stephen King's book, On Writing, he said the goal for your first novel should be 80,000 words, but I'm not quite sure if I'll get there, as this book has a purpose, and I'm drawing to the end already.  I'm thinking it will be about 65,000 words, so I'm fairly close to finishing. 

  • Live in Kindness: This is a new goal.  It wasn't on my original list. This goal is inspired from the #26Acts movement that I began doing in 2012.  I'm stuck on #14, but I feel proud that I've made it that far, and I know some other opportunities will present themselves.   I want to live in kindness every day though, respecting other people, realizing that giving to others is what life is all about. 

So that's that.  My life is a full plate, and I love it that way. 

Reach for your goals, and you'll achieve them. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Parenting: Don't Focus on the Guilt

I read this amazing article yesterday from the Huffington Post, Why You're Never Failing as a Mother.  I loved the author, Amy Morrison's, sense of humor and the truthfulness of her words.  We live in a society where we do everything ourselves.  We live in houses with just our immediate families, and we raise the kids, we work, we cook, we shuffle children to hundreds of places, and maybe if we get to it we clean the potty. 
I have a huge guilt problem, and I always have.  I tend to blame myself for everything.  When you're a parent, you feel that guilt times 1,000 or maybe even 1 million!  I was a stay-at-home Mom for Number One's first two years of life.  When I put him in daycare, he had a hard time.  I beat myself up.  I felt like I was abandoning my child.  When Number One started having issues with control, behavior, impulsiveness, I blamed myself. I told Hubby, "He wouldn't be like this if I hadn't abandoned him at the daycare when he was 2 years old."  He went from being home with me full time to being in daycare full time.  He couldn't attach himself to the teacher in his new class (and really looking back, I think she was the problem because when he moved up to the next class he was fine!).  But the thing is: I shouldn't have blamed myself. I shouldn't have beat myself up for years for thinking I could have prevented the way he turned out.  I should have looked more at what Hubby and I were doing to help him, and what we continue to do to help him succeed and cope. 

I'm a good parent.  I spend time laughing, joking, and hugging my children.  I play Headbanz with them, even when I think it's the silliest game.  I sit on the floor with Darling Daughter and name all her baby dolls, putting them down for naps and singing night-night songs to them.  I play Ninjago Spinjitzu with Number Two, pretending to fight demons and then go to the grocery store to get a cookie, because those are the things that a Ninja does! Quality time.  And honestly, that's all a child needs to grow and thrive: quality time and the ability to allow them to establish some independence. 

We live in a world that is constantly giving us negative feedback.  We live in a world that has Pinterest, where we see that some amazing mother (who probably has millions of dollars and a nanny!) has made a craft every single day with her children.  We live in a world where the news is constantly telling us how to raise our kids and how not to.  No wonder we feel like we're doing everything wrong. 

Amy Morrison's article reminded me that it's not good to beat yourself up with guilt.  You aren't Superman.  Each person can only do so much each day.  Your kids understand that.  They see that you're there for them and in the end, years from now when they're grown up, that's what they'll remember. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weight Loss Tips #10: Splurging?

So last week, I wrote about the correct foods to eat in order to lose weight and become healthier.  I have also been emphasizing along the way that you're making a lifestyle change and not dieting.  I know you might be sick of me beating a dead horse (so cliche!), but it's very important to remember that. 

Okay, that said, the question: Is it okay to splurge?  Is it okay to eat that candy bar that your friend bought you or go to your favorite restaurant and splurge?  Is it okay to eat something cheesy and meaty and full of wasteful calories?


The answer is a resounding YES!  And there's no reason to feel guilty about it, as long as you're doing it in moderation.  The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to do everything in moderation.  Don't splurge EVERY DAY, but having a high calorie, high-fat, yummy restaurant meal once a week is not going to ruin you if you've already made a decision to stick to the changes you're making in your lifestyle.  You know you're going to eat it and then tomorrow you're going to get up and go for a run or pack yourself your healthy snacks and your portioned meals, and you'll be right back on the wagon.

Now, if you know you'll eat it and continue to eat it every day afterwards, then don't do it.  Wait until you know you have the willpower to make it a once a week kind of thing.  Or a when I need it kind of thing.  It's important to be able to realize when you're ready to incorporate your splurges back into your diet without getting off track.  I think after a while you'll also realize that when you do splurge you eat a lot less than you used to because your body is trained to eat what it needs. 

If you don't allow yourself to splurge, you will not stick to your lifestyle change.  You'll feel like you're limiting yourself and at some point you'll just give up (this is why dieting does not work!).  Usually this point will be when you're out with a friend and they're eating a smothered chicken breast and you're staring down at a dry salad pretending that it taste just as good as what your friend is eating. 

That said: Talk about a splurge last night!  On a whim, Hubby and I took the kids to my favorite restaurant Ixtapa, and I had a cheesy chimichanga, rice and beans.  I enjoyed every bite of that chimichanga, fried and all.  I probably ate my weight in chips.  I am a sucker for tortillas and salsa.  Such comfort food. 

I came home, went to sleep, and I woke up this morning at 4:30 AM to run.  Run I did: 2.24 miles in intervals.  Interval running is hard.  Seriously.  I never want to slow down, and then when I slow down I almost feel like I'm walking in place.  I'll get there though with the proper training.  I love running and running in the morning gives me this crazy energy.  What a great way to make up for my HUGE splurge last night too!

What are your ideas on splurging?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Find Your Passion

I just spent half an hour searching the house for my iPhone headphones.  Half an hour.  My guess is that one of the little people who live with me has taken them.  I used to have two sets, so if one was misplaced (as is often the case in the disorganized world I live in) I'd have the other pair to wear. 

I finally decided it was getting too late in the morning to run and that looking for my headphones was not productive.  I needed them, because I'm doing this training program on RunKeeper and today I was supposed to do an 8x1 run: 1 minute Steady then 1.30 minutes Slow, Repeat 8 times for a total of 20 minutes.  I needed RunKeeper to tell me when to slow and when to go "steady."  I'm going to have to search the kids' rooms tonight, find my headphones, and then run.  I have to stay on my schedule.  It's my goal for the New Year.

One of my co-workers told me about a Kid's Marathon that W K Upchurch is sponsoring near us.  I went on the website yesterday, and I registered Number One (without asking him--how's that for parenting?).  I think this is such a great idea to get kids active.  They run or walk the first 25 miles on their own, leading up to the race day.  There's a sheet that can be printed off and filled in to show they've completed their 25 miles.  On race day, they (along with one parent) run the remaining 1.2 miles.  They receive a medal and the satisfaction of knowing that they've "completed" a marathon.  Such a great idea!!!  I'm excited to take Number One out running with me now. 

And speaking of Number One: He finally received his ultra-expensive gymnastics's uniform, and boy was he proud of himself!  He claims this is a Level 5 uniform.  He's a Level 4, but his coach says he will definitely move up after this season.  He can pretty much already do the back handspring.  He's just perfecting it.

And yes, the muscle pose is his typical pose.  So proud of my guy and how far he has come over the last year.  He's really found his motivation, and has made himself happier.  When you have a challenging child, you always worry about their mental well being.  I'm starting to worry less and less about Number One, as I see him dedicate his life to a sport he loves, making good grades, and starting to make the right choices. He's found his passion in life. I'm just wondering how the 8 years passed by so fast.
I remember when he was 6 months old telling my Mom I couldn't believe how fast the time went by, and she laughed at me and said, "You'll be saying that in a minute, but he'll be 20." And she's right.  Time moves too quickly to waste even a minute of it not doing what you love.  I've realized that this year, and I've poured my heart back into writing.
What's your passion?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Easy Peasy Recipes: Red Beans and Rice

So today was Sunday, and I seriously used it as a rest day.  I was lazy.  LAZY with a capital L.  I did go for a run (1.73 miles in 20 minutes) and walk for 22 minutes too.  I'm doing a 5K training plan, and today I was supposed to run 1.5 SLOW miles.  So instead, I ran 1.73 SLOW miles.  I was a little disappointed that the RunKeeper did not tell me when I had hit 1.5 miles.  I may need to play with the settings.

I digress.  I have been COLD all weekend long.  It's in the 50s here in 'Bama, and anyone who lives here knows that is downright cold for us.  I feel like I will go outside and get a chill and just can't warm up. 

So today, I decided to make red beans and rice to warm me up.  My Mom used to make a great recipe when I was growing up, but alas I did not have it.  Instead, I browsed the Internet and came up with Paula Deen's recipe. She is right about this recipe: it is super easy to make.  It does take a long time though, because the beans are not soaked over night.  Still, in my opinion it was worth it. I modified the ingredients a little bit to my liking:


3 tablespoons bacon fat, lard, or olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage (I bought the pre-cooked linked sausages and cut them into rounds)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I minced mine, since I have a great mincer and I like to use it!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound dried red beans
1 ½ teaspoons salt (I cut this down to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I cut this down to 1/2 teaspoon)
6 cups cooked rice (I used Yellow Saffron Rice, and not 6 cups, as we don't eat that many carbs)
¼ cup sliced scallions (I forgot these, but they would be good on top!)

I also serve it with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.  My Mom always did this when I was growing up, and I love the way the balsamic vingear taste mixed in the with red bean flavoring.  Delish!!!


In a large pot or a Dutch oven, heat the fat, lard or oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cumin and thyme and cook for 1 minute.
Add the beans, salt, hot sauce, and enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 ½ hours. Uncover and simmer until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened, 30 to 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Serve over the rice, topped with the scallions. And with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Serving Size: 8

It was seriously delicious, but way too spicy for my kids.  Next time, I may cut out the tabasco completely OR use a milder sausage.  But, it hit the spot for me on a cold day.  Yum.

Never EVER Give Up

My mantra this year is to never give up.  If you don't give up you can achieve your goals, one step at a time. 

This morning, since I woke up at 4:24 AM hacking up a lung, I decided to do a little mindless internet surfing.  I started out with good intentions, working a little bit on my novel, but I was sidetracked by too many thoughts swirling around in my brain.  Maybe I do have ADHD. 

A few fews back, one of my TKD instructors posted this video on one of my friend's pages:

I had not taken the time to watch it, but Friday night Miranda Grace told me I really NEEDED to watch this video.  It's amazing, she said.  She's right.  THIS IS AMAZING!

Here is a man, all odds against him, and he transformed his life!  How?  He had one person (ONE PERSON!) who believed in him, and he believed in himself.  He knew he had the power within himself to lose weight, become happy, walk again and even RUN again! 

People, that's all it takes, the power within yourself to transform your life.  Every single one of us has it.  It's just baby steps. 

This year I realized that, and I accomplished so many things that I thought I could never do.  I lost 55 pounds, I've written half a novel, I started running, I made my home a healthier and happier place.

NEVER GIVE UP!  If the man in that video can fight against all odds, then a normal person like me and you who wants to achieve something surely can too.  The power is within you.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

#26 Acts Update: Keep on Giving

I haven't updated on my Acts of Kindness in about a week.  Christmas and New Year's threw me off.  I am back to acting though, even though I'm having trouble coming up with free acts.  Somebody on twitter said to smile at everyone you see through the day, but I already do that so I can't treat that as my act of kindness. 

My Act # 11 was to give blood, and I attempted to do so on Thursday at work.  I was sorely disappointed that my iron level was 11.1, and you have to have a level of at least 12.5 to give.  The nurse even had the other nurse prick my other finger, but my iron level in that finger was a measly 11.3. 

She looked at me and said, "Girl, you need to be eating your leafy greens!"

I said, "I do eat my leafy greens.  I just don't really eat red meat."

She said, "That's your problem then!  Go get yourself a tshirt.  You tried."

So I sulked off to the break room, disappointed I could not give blood, and a man in there tossed me an Alabama Blood Donor shirt. 

I said, "Um, this looks like an Alabama shirt."

He said with a huge grin, "That's because it is."

"Can I have Auburn please?"

"You mean I have to touch that?"

Ha!  So I didn't give blood, but I did get a pretty cool Auburn Blood Donor tshirt.  One of my friends at work said I should still count that as my Act #11 since I tried, but I can't, so I'm scratching it. 

So instead on the way to work the other day, my co-worker and I stopped at Chick-Fil-A and I bought chicken minis for my department.  That was my Act #11!  They were much appreciative of the special breakfast treat.

And yesterday, I completed my Act #14 too.  I work in loan processing, and we have people who help us process in other locations.  I had a problem with a loan, and this one lady had to stay late to get my documents corrected and reprinted, and she had the BEST attitude.  She even called me to make sure I received it.  She got everything fixed in a matter of ten minutes!  So, yesterday I went to Subway for lunch, and I picked up a $10 gift card for her.  I sent it interoffice mail, so she should get it Monday!  What a great way for me to show some appreciation to someone who works really hard. 

Doing these acts of kindness makes me realize how easy it is to be a thoughtful person and help other people, spreading joy, happiness, and a sense of community to those around you.  Not only does doing a simple act of kindness make you feel better, but it makes the other person feel good as well.

Live Your Life by Constantly Giving to Those Around You, and It Will Come Back to You in Ways You've Never Imagined.    

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sleep, oh Sleep

I woke up with great intentions to run this morning, but Darling Daughter woke up at the same time too.  I cannot keep the child in her bed.  I decorated her room, and it is adorable.  I mean, I'd like to have her room as my room.  I love her so much, but she is so super attached to me.  She follows me around all day when she's awake, and she likes to sleep right next to me.  Right now she's laying on the couch, in need of a few more hours of sleep, watching Dora.  I need suggestions on how to get the child to stay in her own bed.  Cry it out does not work for her.  She'll generally fall asleep up there, but join me in my room at some point in the middle of the night.  I know I just need to get up from my sleep and put her back, but I get so little sleep that I value every minute of it!

And speaking of sleep, one of my friends told me about this SleepCycle app for the iphone.  I downloaded it for .99 cents.  It was the first app I've ever spent money on (yes I'm that cheap!). 

Here are my graphs for the last two nights:

When I look at these graphs, it's blatantly obvious to me that I'm not getting enough deep sleep at all.  The first night, I spent the majority of the night towards awake.  The second night, I began waking up around 1:00 until finally my alarm clock woke me up at 4:58. 

Oh, that's another neat thing about this app.  If you set a wake up time for 5:00 AM, it will wake you up at the lightest stage of your sleep when you're closer to awake than deep sleep from about 30 minutes before until your latest wake up time that you set.  So, on Thursday it woke me up at 4:38 AM and then today it woke me up at 4:58 AM.  This supposedly leaves you feeling more rested during the day then being woken up during a deep sleep phase. 

I've always thought I was a light sleeper, but these graphs confirm it. I now know why I don't wake up rested very often.  I need to figure out how to get better quality sleep.  Maybe get Darling Daughter out of my bed?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Weight Loss Tips #9: Taste the Rainbow

I've been thinking about food a lot the last couple of days, as I try to readjust my diet after the holidays.  Unfortunately, there is still a huge, Costco-size bag of Cape Cod chips in my pantry.  They are my downfall!  I swear, I could eat that whole bag in one sitting if I wanted to. 

Nothing taste as good as skinny feels, right?  I don't know if that statement is totally true, because the cheesecake that's sitting in my fridge right now taste darn good, maybe better than skinny.  Maybe it should be nothing taste as good as healthy feels.  But talking about taste, there are some food choices that can help you lose weight without feeling like you're depriving yourself. 

  • Add Color to your Diet, Lots of It:  Not food dye coloring.  Add natural blues, reds, blacks, yellows, greens.  The more colorful your diet is, the better and more natural foods you are eating.  Some great-for-you and tasty bright foods are: Blueberries (wonderful antioxidants), Cranberries, Mangoes, Bananas, Apples, Tomatoes, Avocados, Blackberries, Oranges, Brussels Sprouts (seriously, if you have avoided these your whole life you need to try them roasted!).  Colorful, natural foods are usually beneficial foods.  They provide certain vitamins that can help you have more energy to get moving. 

  • Go Nuts for nuts!  I eat a lot of peanuts, but I'm slowly learning to love other nuts like cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts.  I mentioned in a previous post that I make a little bag of trail mix to take to work most days with nuts, raisins and a few chocolate chips (just for that bit of sweet!).  Nuts are a great source of protein, so they'll curb your hunger.  Plus, they've been shown to fight against coronary heart disease. 

  • Oats Aren't Just for Goats: I need to listen to this one, because I don't eat oats often enough.  Oats are so seriously good for you.  Not the processed packaged oats that I buy for my kids, but the oats that come in the cylindrical box with some old man's face on it.  Ding Ding Ding, those are the ones!  Oats are a great source of dietary fiber.  They expand in your stomach making you feel fuller in the morning, plus they get your digestive track moving, which is great for your overall health. 

  • Reduce the Processed Food: Does anyone remember that Breyer's commercial, where the six year old is trying to read the ingredients off the other brand?  He's saying things like riboflavin and mononitrate, and wondering what the heck those things are.  Does anyone else wonder what the heck those things are and what they might be doing to your body?  Well you should!  Last I checked, an apple was just an apple and organic beef is just beef, without added processed chemicals.  Reducing processed foods means you have to get creative with lunches, if you're like me and work.  Make yourself a sandwich, eat tuna, take leftovers. I am not an all natural eater, though I would love to be, so I do allow myself one frozen meal a week.  Remember that processed food has a lot of other stuff in it that can hurt your weight loss attempts. 

Think before you eat.  Before long, you'll start gravitating towards the good choices instead of the bad, and you'll notice that it will make a change in everyone around you too. 

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