Monday, March 30, 2009

The Seasonal Clothing Switch

Well, it's official. I have finally sorted through all the kids' summer and winter clothes, boxing away the ones that do not fit, and making sure the spring and summer clothes that do fit are in the most easily accessible drawers. I've moved the snow boots and winter parkas to the very back of the closet and brought out the spring windbreakers and sneakers. So, it is only fitting that upon my completion of this organizational feat that I discover we are supposed to be pelted by a winter storm, complete with accumulating snow, tonight.

You would think that after three years of tackling the seasonal clothing switch far too early I would have learned that one nice spring-like week in Minnesota does not necessarily indicate spring is here to stay, and that I should in fact wait to put away the snow boots and mittens until at least the end of April. But, no such luck. Every year my excitement over the advent of spring takes over, my desire for an organizational high kicks in, and I can't help but oogle over the sandals and capris while turning my head in disgust at the over sized down coats and confining fleece hats.

I think my over zealousness for spring's arrival is also a bit confusing to the kids. After the clothing switch, Allie was especially excited by the reappearance of her spring and summer dresses on the lowest bar of her closet, making it easy for her to pick out her own clothes and get herself dressed in the morning. However, the past few mornings we have had quite a few "discussions" over why we can't wear a sleevelss cotton dress with no tights and sandals when it is approximately 32 degrees outside.

"But, Mom, you said it was spring," Allie pleads as I stare blankly in her direction trying to think of a come back to my own words being blatantly used against me at approximately 6:45 in the morning when I'm barely able to keep my eyes open, let alone think coherently. I'm eventually able to coax her into wearing a pair of jeans and a particular oversized purple sweatshirt by convincing her it is actually a winter time purple play dress, just like the little girl has in "Purplicious." I've had no such luck with getting her to wear the cute, brown mid-calf boots, though. She officially refuses to wear those anymore, opting instead for her spring time pink and khaki sparkly Skechers. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Anyway, Zackers doesn't seem to be as opinionated in the whole clothing department as Allie. As long as the article of clothing has a truck or some type of vehicle plastered on the front, whether short sleeved or long sleeved, he's happy. And, if we aren't able to locate an adequate vehicle shirt, we can always pacify him by slipping the "Cars" socks on his feet that Daddy found in the dollar bin at Target. Although Zach has never, ever, EVER kept socks on his feet, he absolutely refuses to take these particular socks off. Unfortunately, the dollar bin "Cars" socks were not manufactured with those nifty little grippies on the bottom like the rest of Zach's socks. So, the poor kid continually wipes out flat on his back every time he places even a toe on the kitchen linoleum. We've tried taking the socks off (you know, because as parents we are of course vested in protecting our child from physical harm...even if it is self inflicted by him running around in the kitchen while wearing fashionable, but unpractical footwear) but the crying and tears that result are far worse than those we endure from his unfortunate incidents.

So, tomorrow, while the snow is still fresh on the ground, you will most likely find us inside with the thermostat turned up to 70 degrees. Chillin' in our pink floral sundresses. Slip-sliding around on the kitchen floor in "Cars" socks. All in the name of spring fashion.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mid Week Report

I'm surprised to report that despite the rainy/snowy/gloomy/winter-like conditions we're experiencing this week, we've actually been doing rather well. When I saw the 10-day weather forecast this past Sunday, I was definitely prepared for the worst. Especially since we spent most every waking moment of last week playing outside, I thought for sure I'd be spending every waking moment of this week dealing with hyper, stir-crazy kids who can't help but continually ask me every five minutes if it is snack time yet. And, although we have definitely had our unpleasant moments, the week hasn't really been all that bad.
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Some highlights:
We enjoyed a playdate with a dear college friend of mine who has a son Allie's age and a daughter Zach's age. It was especially fun to watch the older two conversing and interacting with each other while building castles and cooking dinner in the play kitchen.

We watched "Cars," again.

Zach learned how to turn on and off the bathroom light and subsequently says "ON!" and "OFF!" when he does so.

Allie gave a new name to the particular bathroom light fixture mentioned above, that also happens to be on the same switch as the bathroom vent/fan, and is not afraid to direct members of our family when they should make use of it. For instance, "Daddy? Daddy? Are you in the bathroom? If you think that you are going to have a poop in there, then maybe you should turn on the poop light to get the stink out!"

Shopping trips to Target with both kids are much more enjoyable if I can get there before 9 a.m. Not only are there barely any shoppers, but the kids are definitely in a better mood and since they have just eaten breakfast, they are not yet begging for snacks. Oh wait...scratch that last sentence...Allie asked for goldfish crackers, cookies, jelly beans, fruit snacks, an icee, and M&Ms.

Allie was a great listener at the dentist's office today. Even though the dentist had to polish and scrape her teeth twice (don't worry, it's not because we don't brush her teeth, but more due to poor enamel), she still declared that she loves the dentist. She also had her first dental x-rays taken which showed that she already has a small cavity in the making. Poor kid. It looks as though she has inherited her Daddy's teeth and will most likely have a lot of dental/orthodontic visits in the years to come. Good thing she loves the dentist!

Zach was shockingly good at the dentist's office. He also had his first check up and fluoride treatment. Apparently his two front top teeth already have the inside corners chipped off. But, with the amount of times a day he falls down or runs into something, I guess I'm not all that surprised. The dentist said we could fix them when he gets a little older.

We've read lots and lots and lots of books...over and over and over again:

We've played so many games of Pretty, Pretty Princess that I have lost count of how many. I do know that I have only won twice, though.

We lounge in our crib during nap time and stick our feet through the crib slats instead of actually closing our eyes and falling asleep:


And, the true highlight of our day is when we all gather by the back door window to check and see if the squirrel that has been "sleeping" on the little black box attached to our power lines in the backyard since the beginning of February is still resting peacefully.





There he is, taking an over two-month nap with his eyes wide open while his fluffy tail still whips around in the breeze. Snow, nor rain, nor sleet, nor cold, nor wind, can apparently shake him from his perch. Maybe he's just serving as a powerful visual reminder to the other neighborhood squirrels that it is really not such a good idea to chew on power lines or sit on top of a little black box that has the word "Electric" written on the front of it and is partially open with little wires sticking out. Come to think of it, I really haven't seen many squirrels treading atop the power lines recently...they are kind of sticking to running across the back yard fence instead.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 12 (3/18 - 3/24)
Weight Lost This Week: -2.2 lbs
Weight Lost To Date: -24.2 lbs
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Accomplishments:
Yay! I finally broke my 1 pound per week losing streak with a 2 pound loss for this week! I'm not sure that I did many things differently this past week, though. I guess my increased weight loss this week could be attributed to our recent biking excursions. On the other hand, I'm quite positive that the entire bag of Starburst Red Fruits Jelly Beans I single handedly consumed over the past week and a half had nothing to do with this success. And although I stayed within my daily points allowance while eating those jelly beans, I somehow think that eating jelly beans instead of an apple or banana probably did not do me much good. So, I have instituted a jelly bean ban in our house because it is quite apparent I can't control myself when there are pink or red jelly beans around.
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Improvements:
I've unfortunately fallen into the evening snack habit again. Ugh. And even though my snacks aren't necessarily bad-for-you options (think light popcorn or a 1/2 cup fat free frozen yogurt), I know they aren't initiated by hunger, but rather my desire to relax at the end of a long day after the kids go to bed while Ben and I watch some T.V. So, this week I resolve to go cold turkey once again on those after-the-kids-go-to-bed snacks.
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Fun Fact of the Week:
I have received several requests for some before and after pictures of myself. And even though I'm not typically a fan of posting pictures of myself, I'm giving in this week.

First off, I reluctantly bring you my before picture taken on Christmas...just 3 months ago. I can barely believe it myself. Honestly, this is not what I saw when I looked in the mirror. The double chin, the rolls around my stomach! Ack! I can't even believe I just posted that picture...
And, here I bring you a picture Ben took of me on Sunday evening...24 pounds lighter:
And, yes, those are baggy sweat pants I am wearing, but let me assure you, 3 months ago those sweat pants were not at all baggy. In fact, I'm not sure you could even call them loose. And, I most definitely could not have fit Zach and myself in those sweat pants at the same time 3 months ago:

So, there you have it...my before and after pics. Whew. That was tough for me. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring?

Because the past week has been uncharacteristically warm and, dare I say, actually Spring-like for us up here in the frozen north, I really don't feel as if I have the proper justification to complain about the rainy, windy, nasty weather we are experiencing today...and will be experiencing for the remainder of the week...except on Wednesday when somehow those two cringe-worthy words, "wintry mix," have again found there way back into the forecast.
So, in lieu of complaining, I have decided to post our outside pictures from last week as a reminder that Spring is indeed on the way...it's just been momentarily delayed.
Last week we didn't even need jackets to play outside in the 60-degree weather! That remnant of snow in the background has since completely disappeared:
Obviously Zach needed a little refresher course on outside swinging. Notice the hesitancy in his face as he's eyeing up that swing:

Good thing he's a quick learner:There's just something about the sun that puts a smile on everyone's face!I'm not sure what was going on here...just some sibling bonding, I guess:

Zach is big enough to do the step all by himself now...something he could not do last Fall:

There's nothing better than the wind blowing through your hair as you climb to the top of a swing set:

Besides playing outside, we went on bike rides almost every day. On Saturday we even took the majority of the day to bike along the Mississippi River. We packed a picnic lunch that we enjoyed together after stopping by the playground toys at a nearby park so the kids could run around like little hooligans. Naptime was spent in the bike trailer...not nearly long enough as evidenced by the decline in the kids' behavior by 4:00 p.m., but better some rest than none. Plus, just being outside after all the long, cold, dark, and dreary days of Winter seemed to make all the whining and tantrums well worth it. And, it meant both kids slept doubly as long on Sunday afternoon while Ben and I rested our jello-legs on the couch in the living room!

We're looking forward to many more days like Saturday. I will have to keep reminding myself: Spring is just delayed....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Zach's Newest Obsession

Last year at this time we began to realize glass slippers, pink dress up clothes, and shimmering tiaras were taking over our home. Word-for-word quotes from Cinderella were a daily occurrence. And, the only "boys" that were allowed were those who could serve as the princess' long awaited handsome prince.

Although there will always be a special place in our home and hearts for the princesses brought to us courtesy of Disney (in addition to our regular attendance at countless princess tea parties and our faithful viewing of our fair share of princess movies), a new star has recently made his debut at our home.

Move over Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle...
There's new royalty in town.
And his name is...
Lightening McQueen!
That's right. Zach is obsessed with all the cars from Disney's "Cars" movie. Just the mere utterance of Lightening's name causes our little boy to rip off his shirt, throw his hands over his head, and emit squeels and shrieks of excitement:
Ok, so that might not be the exact truth regarding the above photo, but Zach's obsession with "Cars" definitely runs deep.
For instance, we can hardly go to the grocery store now without him noticing every single fruit snack package plastered with McQueen's picture, or pointing out the kids' yogurt with Mater's snaggle tooth grin smiling from ear to ear directly at us, or even reaching toward the chicken noodle soup can sitting right at cart-seat level with McQueen and Sally depicted on the label, innocently beckoning to come home with us. As a sidenote, Allie also notices and points out all the same exact food items in the princess versions as well: Ariel fruit snacks, Hannah Montana yogurt (ok...so Hannah Montana isn't exactly a princess...I just think Allie is a bit too young for Hannah Montana...so when she noticed the yogurt with a picture of Miley Cyrus in a mini skirt and tube top, I of course told her Ms. Cyrus was really a long lost Disney princess), and Cinderella chicken noodle soup. But, unfortunately an argument in the middle of the grocery store snack aisle with my three year old over Disney Princess Teddy Grahams tasting better than McQueen Teddy Grahams and definitely tasting far superior to the good ole' fashioned graham crackers is really not the point of this post.

Back to the topic at hand...Zach's "Cars" Obsession.
It all began a couple months ago when we decided to watch the "Cars" movie together as a family. Both Ben and I knew Zach would enjoy the movie, but we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into! Zach usually has a short attention span when it comes to the television. He'll sit and watch for 15-20 minutes, but then gets bored and is up wandering around the house looking for something to get into. So, imagine our surprise when he sat motionless in the middle of the living room floor for the entire duration of the movie. The movie is over an hour and a half long! The only time he made a motion or noise was to extend his chubby little finger toward the screen while simultaneously uttering "guck! guck!" at every one of Lightening's entrances. Allie also enjoyed the movie, but she made sure to remind us that the girl car, Sally, was her favorite.
Anyway, since then, we have indulged just a tad in Zach's newfound obsession. Here he is sportin' his most favorite pair of shoes:

Grandma Richardson also found some "Cars" books, a talking Mater, and a talking Lightening that she picked up for Zach. Here Zach is before bathtime playing with Mater:

Zach has these cars in a death grip literally all. day. long. He does not let them out of his hands or sight if he can help it. It takes all the strength and patience I can muster to pry them out of his hands if we have anywhere to go. However, Mater and Lightening have been known to accompany us on several outings: grocery store, Target, bike rides, playing in the backyard...you know, sometimes it is just not worth it to leave the cars behind...preserving the peace and my sanity often takes precedence.

Here's a picture of Zach in his favorite McQueen pajamas...and yes, he is clutching Lightening.

It can be difficult to get him to relinquish the cars before bedtime as well. And if we do in fact coax him to give them up, it is guaranteed he will be standing in his crib the very next morning, pointing over to the cars, saying over and over again in desperation "GUCK! GUCK!" until we place either Lightening or Mater in his hands once again.

However, on the plus side we have noticed Zach's Cars obsession has caused an increase in his spoken vocabulary. One of Zach's favorite quotes from the movie and one that his McQueen car also says is, "Speed. I am speed!" And just how do we know this? Well, it is because Zach's newest and most used word while playing with his cars is: "PEED! PEED! PEED!" I guess we'll have to begin working on that 's' sound...either that or maybe we should start potty training.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some Long Overdue Photos

A few weeks ago (actually I think it was almost a month ago) we visited the Children's Museum with my sister. We all had a great time and I was actually able to get quite a few pictures of our excursion. So, since late is better than never, here are some pics from our adventure:


Here we have a picture of Chef Zach:


Allie, a girl after my own heart. Check out that loaded shopping basket and the sheer look of determination on her face as she eyes up what else she can cram inside.

Apparently Zach is already well versed in the fine art of picking fresh produce.
Watch out streets of St. Paul!
Ironically, Zach preferred the passenger seat...even though Allie was driving. Here are some pictures of the blue screen. There were costumes to wear...
and instruments with music to dance to...
We even successfully taught Allie the motions to "YMCA!"
But, the best part was....
We were on TV! (Zach was mesmerized as he just stood there and stared at the television)(Check out Allie's version of the 'Y' from YMCA)


Here we have some bubble action:


Boat races with Aunt Stephanie:

Zach's favorite exhibit...the ping pong balls and water tubes:

However, he found this water fountain equally as enthralling:

Aunt Stephanie helping Zach down the stairs at the construction site:

Allie Writes Her Name

A few weeks ago Allie began to show an interest in writing letters. She would draw little lines on her coloring page and tell me what they said. So, I figured it was time that we began to work on writing real letters. And, what better letters to start with than the letters that make up her name.

We had a few fancy-dancy trace and wipe flash cards that got us started out, but I found the best thing for her was a plain old piece of notebook paper and marker. I began by writing a single letter at the top of the notebook page as an example. I talked her through how to go about "copying" it and let her loose! She has been practicing diligently now with every opportunity she gets and especially looks forward to any time that she can write her own name on name tags at Musikgarten or art projects at ECFE. Here is a picture of her early efforts:
Not perfect, but still, I'm rather impressed! Way to go Allie! She is so proud of her accomplishment that we still have examples of her name hanging on the fridge. We haven't started working on other letters yet, but I figure that will come in time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 11 (3/11 - 3/17)
Weight Lost This Week: -1.2 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -22.0 pounds
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Accomplishments:
It has been really fun over the past five days to add biking to my exercise regimen. I have been keeping up with the treadmill and pilates inside, but biking OUTSIDE has been fantastic! I love the warmth of the sunshine and the feel of the crisp spring air rushing against my face. I don't even care that my legs feel like jello by the time we get to our destination! Although biking alone can provide ample exercise, I've found biking while pulling a 25-lb bike trailer along with 60 lbs of kid loaded inside is most DEFINITELY a work out. While we've mostly biked to local parks and kept on the scenic bike trails or less busy neighborhood roads, today I felt confident enough to venture out onto the busier main road that leads to our local library. I still need to work on maneuvering the bike trailer at corners and stoplights, but overall I think I did pretty good for our first major trip. We spent most of the morning biking and reading books at the library. We even happened upon story time at our library and had fun listening to the librarian reading too. My next goal is to bike to the grocery store...which is about twice as far as the library...we'll see if I make it or not.
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Improvements:
Even though I've increased my amount of exercise and continued eating within the confines of my diet plan this week, I have still only lost a little over a pound. I need to not allow myself to be so discouraged by seeing a smaller amount of weight loss on the scale each week. Instead, I resolve to find encouragement in other areas besides those numbers I see on the scale. Like, for instance, my increased energy levels...the fact that I no longer feel I need a nap everyday and can get oodles of things done during the kids' naps and still have enough energy left to entertain them when they wake up. Or, that I'm seeing muscle tone in places I thought were doomed to flab adornment for the rest of my life. And, the fact that I haven't had a fast food cheeseburger, french fries, or a real Coke in over two months and it doesn't even bother me. Basically, there's a lot more to find encouragement in than my exact weight loss amount and I aim to focus on those things a bit more in the upcoming week.
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Fun Fact of the Week:
Although we definitely do not eat out as much as we did before I embarked on this weight loss journey, we still go to a restaurant or pick something up to eat about once a week. Even though eating out was something we definitely needed to do less of, it was not something I wanted to give up completely. So, I had to find ways to stick within my diet plan while also eating out, which at first proved more difficult than I originally anticipated. However, over the course of the past few months and with the help of the internet to research calorie and fat content of specific restaurant items, I now have an entire arsenal of specific menu choices that I can eat at several different restaurant locations. And, if we know in advance that we are going to a specific restaurant that is not within my arsenal, I whip out my laptop and begin the research all over again for that location. In the event that I don't have the time or access to the internet, I almost always order grilled chicken with some sort of vegetable (plain...no toppings) and a salad with fat free dressing. Granted there are some times I have indulged, not at all thinking about calories or fat content, but it has to be a very special occasion for me to give up all the hard work I have put into this weight loss venture for just one passing meal (off the top of my head, we did have an indulgent Valentines' Day dinner from Olive Garden). Anyway, here is a list of some of my favorite eating-out restaurant options that are part of my arsenal:
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Subway: Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sub (I skip the cheese) with a side of Apples or Yogurt
Papa Murphy's: Pepperoni and mushroom (or sometimes just plain cheese) De-Light Pizza with salad and fat free dressing.
Culver's: Grilled Chicken sandwich (plain...or sometimes with a side of BBQ sauce) with a side salad and fat free dressing or a side serving of plain mashed potatoes
Perkins: I almost always order ala carte off the senior's menu (where there are much healthier options--veggies and grilled meat galore!)
McDonald's: Grilled Chicken sandwich (plain or with a side of BBQ sauce), apple dippers (usually skip the dip part), or sometimes I'll split a yogurt parfait with the kids
Wendy's: Plain chili with a baked potato (plain or with sour cream and chives) or side salad with fat free dressing. If I have enough points leftover I might even indulge in a kids' vanilla frosty!
Chili's: basically anything off their Guiltless Grill menu or a cup of chicken tortilla soup (no toppings) and a salad with fat free dressing
Applebee's: lots of options here...they actually have a Weight Watcher's menu with points already calculated--gotta love that!
Panera: Half Turkey sandwich on whole grain (no mayo or cheese--just mustard and veggies) with an apple or fruit cup and a cup of a broth-like soup (chicken noodle, vegetable, etc).
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Well, there you have it! Anyone else have any restaurants/food suggestions I can add to my eating out arsenal?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yes, We're Still Alive!

The glorious 50 degree spring weather we have been experiencing over the past few days has definitely put a damper on my desire to sit down at my computer and blog. We’ve been trying desperately to enjoy every moment possible basking in the sunshine for fear that in a few days our back yard will again look like this:

That picture of our backyard was taken last year on April 1st. So, as evidenced above, a 4-day stretch of true spring weather does not mean we are in the clear yet!
~
We began our weekend on Friday after Ben came home from work early in the afternoon...and no, he was not playing hooky to enjoy the beautiful weather. He actually had a legitimate excuse-he was at the dentist-seriously! It was just convenient that it was also a Friday and the weather was also so wonderful.
~
Anyway, after a fun family dinner at Chili's we decided that it was high time to purchase the bikes we had been eyeing up at the local bike shop for a few weeks. Although neither of us are what you would call die-hard bike enthusiasts, we are excited for an outdoor activity that we can do together and enjoy as a whole family. We already had a bike trailer for the kids that we picked up for half-price earlier this month, so all we needed were the bikes. And so, after picking out the bikes and helmets for all of us, we loaded up the mini van and had a quiet night at home excitedly planning all of our future biking adventures.
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Saturday morning, even though it was only in the upper 30's, we were out bright and early on our brand spankin' new bikes. We had a grand time biking the neighborhoods in our community and on the local bike trail. The kids also had fun riding in their "little car" (what Allie likes to call the bike trailer). Don't let the kids' expressions in the following picture fool you, they really did have a fun time! Allie just absolutely did NOT want her picture taken. However, I insisted upon documenting our inaugural ride.

We would have happily biked the day away, but I had already made plans to go shopping with my sister at the outlet mall while Ben watched both kids. (Oh darn. What a bummer. Shopping all afternoon with no kids! In all actuality, I had been excited about this excursion for the entire week!)

~

We had a great time shopping and in addition to picking out most of the kids' summer wardrobes, I also scored a new spring top, some silver shoes to wear at my sister's wedding, and a cotton sun dress (for only $14.99!) to wear to the rehearsal dinner. Although the crowds were crazy, it was a great day of shopping, just girls and sans kids.

~

Sunday we decided to load up the bikes and went to Woodbury for lunch with my family and an afternoon bike ride. I never realized how many hills were in my parent's neighborhood until we got on our bikes and began to ride. It was a fun, but tiring ride! Fortunately for me Ben had the trailer hitched to his bike.

~

But, it looks like tonight I will take my turn with the trailer. Since my flute students cancelled tonight due to their spring breaks, I do believe an after dinner bike ride is definitely in order. I can't wait. Maybe we'll even have an early dinner. The 60-degree weather is definitely calling our names!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 10 (3/4 - 3/10)
Weight Lost This Week: -1.2 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -20.8 pounds
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Accomplishments:
Twenty Pounds. TWENTY POUNDS. 2-0. 20! Those two little numbers add up to a pretty big accomplishment for me! Yay! It's also proof that making better food choices, controlling my food portions, and incorporating daily exercise really does add up to weight loss success. I've also bid farewell to the discouragement I was feeling last week due in part to this week's success and also by not daily stepping on the scale anymore. It is much more encouraging to wait a few days between weigh-ins and see the numbers decreasing by significant amounts rather than weighing myself daily only to see the numbers jump up and down by little amounts.
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Improvements:
So, along with my discouragement last week came a little bit of slacking on my part...which most likely showed up in my weight loss this week as well. 1.2 pounds is definitely an accomplishment, but it is the lowest amount of weight I have lost in any given week since I started this endeavor. Although I didn't skip any of my treadmill or Pilates dates, I definitely did not perform with as much "gusto" as I have over the past 10 weeks. And even though I stayed within my allotted point values every day, I definitely wasn't as diligent about my portion controls in addition to not always picking the "better-for-me" options, often choosing the chocolate over the fruit and once again going back to those higher-in-carb breads and snacks. I also indulged in a few after dinner snacks this week that I wouldn't have normally allowed myself. So, this week I commit myself to doing the exercises whole-heartily and once again strictly enforcing my eating plan.
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Fun Fact of the Week:
When I first began Weight Watchers I remember the leader encouraging me to take my measurements (bust, waist, hips, upper arm, thigh) so that I would be encouraged by the decreasing numbers as I lost weight. I always intended to do this, but of course never got around to it. I remembered today that my measurements had been taken back in November when I ordered the bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding. So, I called my sister, and sure enough, she still had the measurements! Although my thigh and upper arm were not measured for the bridesmaid dress, I did have the other three measurements done. And, I was definitely very encouraged after taking my measurements tonight and seeing the difference. In addition to bust, waist, and hips I also took my upper arm and thigh measurements so that I would have something to compare to in another 10 weeks. So, for this week's fun fact, I bring to you the number of inches that I have lost:
Bust: -3.5 inches
Waist: -2 inches
Hips: -2 inches
That has to be one clothing size, right?! I'm getting pretty excited about the prospect of a shopping trip in the very near future!

Rain, Snow, Daylight Savings, "Australia," Grocery Stores, Behavior, The Teaser

As the rain has finally turned to snow and the brown grass that made its reappearance last week is now blanketed in fresh white once again, I continue to remind myself that, according to the calendar, spring is only 10 days away. In a last ditch effort to will the snow away I decided to bring out the spring and Easter decorations this morning. The kids joyfully helped me arrange little pink and blue bunnies, pastel colored eggs, pink and white Gerber daisies and spring baskets on the tables and bookshelves in our living room. So, even though it looks like a Christmas snow globe outside my windows, all I have to do is look around my living room to remind myself that spring is officially on its way.
We also set our clocks ahead this weekend to welcome Daylight Savings time. Now, I know there is a lot of grumbling and complaining about how Daylight Savings time messes up everyone's schedules, but I do actually look forward to it all year long because it is the one morning out of the entire year that I can count on our kids sleeping until 8:00 am. Except, this year Allie was in our room at 7:20 am (which to her should have felt like 6:20 am and to us, believe me, it felt like 5:20 am). The one benefit I have noticed, however, is that for the past 2 mornings both kids have slept until 7:15 a.m. Darker in the morning = kids sleeping later in the morning.

We did have a fun weekend though, despite the lack of sleep which began Friday night when Ben and I rented the epic movie "Australia"to watch after the kids went to bed. Both of us agreed that the over two and a half hour movie would have been much better off with the whole first hour and fifteen minutes skimmed over (or basically deleted). You can only watch Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman dramatically herding hundreds of cattle in the middle of the Outback for so long until it just downright becomes comedic. The last half of the movie was excellent and so redeemed the utter ridiculousness of the first half.

We also said goodbye to my bro's fire engine red Ford Mustang this weekend when we dropped it back off at my parents house on Saturday. Both of our cars are now in working order, for the time being at least. We decided to do our grocery shopping at the Rainbow store by my parents' house in an effort to save some time. What a fantastic grocery store! I think it would be worth it to move closer to them just for the sole purpose of being able to grocery shop at that particular store on a more regular basis. They have the freshest-looking produce I've every laid eyes upon in the middle of March, fresh fruit tarts in their bakery, don't get me started on the meat counter, they have an olive bar...yes, an OLIVE bar with a vast spread of countless different olives to choose from (ok...so I'm not sure that I would utilize the olive bar, but still, they have one!), and they hire educated baggers who know that you are not supposed to bag fresh raw meat in the same bag as the produce or put canned goods on top of bread. They even have little cars attached to the front of their grocery carts so that both kids are able to sit in and "drive" around the store. *Sigh* I definitely have a case of grocery store envy.

The kids also seemed to turn the corner this weekend as well. We had a pretty rough time last week with tons of poor behavior and lots of disobedience, so I was shocked with how well behaved they were for the majority of the weekend, playing happily with one another, sharing toys, speaking kind words, and helping out around the house...Allie, especially. She was kind of in a 'funk' and testing the limitations all last week making for a very long week. Example: Ben puts her in a time out, but she is wailing and shrieking so loudly that we can't even hear one another speak. So, Ben nicely reminds her that time outs are quiet time and she needs to calm down, to which she responds, "I will never stop crying, never EVER! I will just cry and CRY!" As you can tell, we're thankful for the reprieve while it lasts.

And, to end this most random of posts on an upbeat note, while I have not yet mastered this Pilates move, I actually did it for the very first time today (twice in a row, actually). I give you, the Teaser:
Now, granted, my version of the Teaser isn't nearly as graceful or elegant as the one performed by Ms. Ana Caban in the above picture. But, I did it! As I was lying on my back with my legs zipped together and elevated in the air to a 45 degree angle, mentally preparing my abs for the impossible, I all of a sudden found my body upright with my arms reaching forward in the exact position Ana was so gracefully modeling on my TV screen. No way! And, then my abs gave out and I found myself flat on my back once again. So, I had to try it again just to make sure I wasn't imagining things. And...viola! For a mere 3.5 seconds I performed the Teaser for a second time before my abs again turned to mush and my whole body fell to the floor. If I can pull off this move after 21 consecutive days of Pilates, I guarantee anyone can!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Some Excellent Friday Weather and Thoughts from Music Class

I have never been so excited for the kids to wake up from their naps (and, yes, you are at the right blog and you did read that last sentence correctly)! I can't believe that it is 2:25 pm and there hasn't been one peep from their bedrooms. On any other normal, gloomy, freezing cold day at the beginning of March I am sure both kids would have been up from their naps by now. Guaranteed. That is, if they even succumbed to sleep in the first place.

Anyway, I'm just about out of things to keep me busy during nap time...I cleaned up the dishes, picked up toys, put some clean clothes away, tidied up the bathroom, caught up on my e-mails, called Ben, read a bunch of blogs, surfed facebook, did my Pilates, and now I'm blogging at the kitchen table while staring out at the brown grass peering through the massive openings in the quickly disappearing snow while ever so beautifully glistening in the balmy 40-degree sunlight. That's right...I said FORTY. 4. 0. 40.

And there's a brand new park at the end of our street that is just begging for the kids to go and break it in. There's also a mommy that has had a very, VERY long week and is in dire need of some sunshine and fresh air in addition to a very large outdoor plot of land for her kids to run back and forth endlessly, screaming and yelling to their little hearts' desires...or until their legs and lungs give out...whichever comes first.

I guess I didn't realize I had spring fever. I thought I was a true, tough Minnesotan resolved to the dismal fact that winter inevitably takes up at least six months out of our year. I wasn't really planning on tasting spring this early. And, now that I have.....

Anyway, they're still not up, so I guess that means you're stuck with me a little longer. Let's see. What to write about...hmm...

Did you know that attending Musikgarten classes with a 17-month old little boy is like an all-star wrestling match? Seriously. Believe me, it is. Whereas all the little girls sit peacefully and attentively in their mommy's laps, listening ever so patiently to the teacher, following her instructions word for word (I know about these little girls first hand because Allie used to be one of them), Zach's only concern is finding a way to wriggle free from my choke hold on him so that he can run as fast as he can throughout the room, while screaming as loud as possible, only occasionally pausing to point out the window at the pick-up trucks in the church parking lot. Oh, and he also likes the rhythm sticks because of my reaction when he bangs them as hard as he can against my head.

I used to get a little irritated at how disruptive some of the little boys were in Allie's music classes. Of course I never said anything, it was just one of those things I kept inside while silently feeling so proud that my daughter followed instructions and was the perfect little music student. I made a silent vow that none of my kids would ever be so disruptive in a classroom setting.

And now...

I eat my words. As well as offer up my sincerest apology to all mothers of sons. I finally get it. I now understand. B.Z. (before Zach), I had no idea the shear amount of physical energy required to keep a boy occuupied. It is exhausting. They have to be moving literally all. the. time. So, after 35 minutes of non-stop wrestling, bouncing, running, jumping, restraining...I'm pretty much ready to throw in the towel.

I'm not sure music class is the best fit for Zach right now. Anybody know of a local toddlers wrestling league or tackle football team?

It's now 3:00 pm...

And, I hear rustling in the kids' bedrooms...

Time to go outside and play!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Breakfast Food Playground

Yes. That's right. A breakfast food indoor playground complete with larger than life fruit, eggs, bacon, cereal bowl, and waffles. Why? Because, honestly, what could be more entertaining than sitting atop a ginormous waffle with a butter pat the size of your rear end?

"I'm king of the waffle!"

(ok...I admit, that was a little over the top)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 8 (2/24 - 3/3)
Weight Lost this Week: -2.0 pounds
Weight Lost to Date: -19.6 pounds
Accomplishments:
Not too much new to report...basically the same as last week. I've been sticking quite closely to the eating/exercise regimen along with taking my daily vitamin supplements. I've been slowly cutting out the high-carb components of my diet and replacing them with more filling options (fruits, veggies, cheeses, nuts, eggs, etc). I've also noticed my 30 minute treadmill routine is becoming fairly easy...I barely even sweat anymore...so I'm thinking that means I should probably take it up another notch, huh? I've also been able to master some Pilates positions (like the open-leg rocker prep) that I thought impossible...I remember a couple weeks ago staring in awe at Ms. Ana Caban, wondering how in the world she contortioned her body in some of those positions. Next step: master the "Teaser." If I can do that move, I assure you, I will have a visible six-pack.
Improvements:
Ok, so I'm not sure if this is normal, but despite having lost 19.6 lbs., I'm feeling discouraged. I was really hoping to hit that 20 lb. mark this week and when I didn't, I felt really disappointed. Silly, I know. But, all of a sudden, this whole exercising and eating well endeavor feels endless ...like it is going to take forever until I get to where I want to be, and even if I do get there, who knows if I'll ever even be able to stay there. This is not to say that I am contemplating quitting, because quitting really is the furthest thing from my mind. I'm just not feeling the motivational vibe that I did in the beginning. Maybe the "new" has worn off, maybe it's finally sinking in that this change is not temporary, or it could be that I am feeling restricted and confined regarding my new lifestyle. I don't know. But, whatever the reasons may be, I'm feeling discouraged. So, this week, I need to work on looking for the positives, finding sources of encouragement, and focusing on the bigger picture.
Fun Fact of the Week:
So, not to be a complete downer, but I really don't have a fun fact this week. I thought Allie slamming Zach's left hand in the hinge of her bedroom door yesterday (after about 1.5 million reminders that we do not slam doors), resulting in an emergency trip to the doctor's office and a baby hand X-ray for Zach, sucked all the fun out of me. However, that was until I decided to take the kids shopping today and they proceeded to have a pinwheel sword fight in the middle of the aisle at Kohl's. Not surprisingly, Allie's pinwheel found its way into Zach's eye, at which point he emitted blood-curdling screams, resulting in my taking away the pinwheels. In response to the pinwheel confiscation, Allie threw herself onto the floor, kicking and screaming, blocking the aisle and any quick escape route I would be able to take with all my items, two screaming kids, and the stroller cart. Although there weren't many nasty looks from the other shoppers while both of my kids' continued to wail and scream upon us navigating toward the exit, one kind elderly woman with short whispy white curly hair came up to me and said in the sweetest and most encouraging voice, "Sweetie, some day, I promise, you are really going to miss this." I forced a smile, and thought to myself, "Are you out of your flippin' mind woman?!" And that, dear friends, is how the fun was completely sucked out of me. I really think I need a bowl of ice cream....and a cookie.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary to me...
Happy Blogiversary to me...
Happy Blogiversary to me-ee...
Happy Blogiversary to me!

Exactly one year ago today, I jumped on the blogging bandwagon and started this blog. Today, on my one year blogiversary, I give you my 175th post...

A funny story from the other evening:

Allie (while taking her baby dolls to the play kitchen): Here, babies, I'll just heat you up a little bit because you are a little cold (proceeds to stuff all three baby dolls in the play oven and turns up the play dials).

Ben: Allie, you really shouldn't put babies in the oven.

Allie: But they are cold.

Ben: Let's take the babies out of the oven.

Allie: But can't we heat them up?

Ben: No, we don't cook babies. (looks toward me) What really goes on here when I'm not around?

Jennifer (shrugging, while simultaneously trying to hide a grin): Honestly, I have never ever heated up a baby doll in the oven.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Life is Full of Surprises

“Life is full of surprises.” We’ve all heard that saying before, right? Well, over the last few days we’ve definitely proven this saying true over and over again with our fair share of surprises. Here’s a sampling:

I was surprised at Zach’s reaction while I was holding my friend’s new 2-week old baby girl. There was kicking, screaming, wailing, thrashing, tears, and even a failed attempt to climb up onto my lap while completely disregarding the presence of another human being in my arms. Obviously, Zach is not ready to give up the title of “baby” just quite yet.

I was equally surprised at Allie’s hesitance to hold the new baby because for the past two weeks she has been asking me, non-stop, when she was going to get to see and hold the new baby. Actually, upon reflecting, I’m not quite sure Allie was convinced it was a real baby until the baby began to move and make noise. I’m pretty certain she thought we were trying to pass off a baby doll as the real thing.

After deciding not to attend my treadmill date on Saturday, instead opting to sleep in until the ripe ole’ hour of quarter to seven (that was when Allie came into our room informing us that it was morning), I was surprised to discover just how physically terrible I felt. I was tired, sore, lethargic, and a bit on the cranky side (or so I’ve been informed by other members of my household).

I was surprised at how well the kids tolerated being dragged around to several different stores on Saturday morning in search of the perfect invitations for my sister’s upcoming bridal shower. Or, now that I think of it, their good behavior was more likely a result of Daddy’s Indy-500 “cart rides” and the promise of lunch at Wendy’s.

I was surprised that I didn’t recognize Allie’s ECFE teacher when I ran into her and her husband while I was looking for more invitation materials at Archiver’s on Saturday afternoon during the kids’ naps. I probably stared at her for a very uncomfortable 30-40 seconds until my brain actually kicked in and I remembered where I knew her from. Awkward. I’ll have some explaining to do next Monday.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself and Ben sitting in a movie theater on Saturday evening at 7:30 pm after my sister called just an hour and half before offering to watch the kids because in her and my mom’s words, “…you have to go and see “Slumdog Millionaire” at the movie theater. I was even more surprised that a movie I knew little to nothing about (except that it won a slew of Academy Awards), ended up being one of the better movies I’ve seen in I don’t remember how long.

After the movie, Ben and I were surprised to discover that the front heater in our van was not working. It was a very cold ride home.

I was surprised that despite having one more adult in our house (my sister stayed overnight on Saturday) and the fact that I did in fact have my morning meeting with the treadmill, we still arrived unbelievable early at church on Sunday.

I was surprised that during the kids’ naps on Sunday afternoon, Ben offered to help me make my sister’s bridal shower invitations (not exactly a masculine pursuit) and even though Allie got up early from her nap, we were still able to finish every single invitation. To keep Allie busy, we put her to work stamping all the leftover paper, envelopes, and scraps.

I was surprised to learn that you can indeed make a low-fat quesadilla. In fact, for dinner on Sunday, Ben made some pretty mean pizzadillas. What’s a pizzadilla? Well, it’s one of Ben’s culinary inventions comprised of 2 fat-free tortillas, a heaping ¼ cup of part skim mozzarella cheese, and 7 pieces of turkey pepperoni, served with pizza sauce for dipping. Pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.

On Sunday night, we were all surprised to discover that Ben’s car wouldn’t start. We made this surprising discovery after dinner while the kids and I were loaded in the mini van waiting for Ben to follow us in his car to the Chrysler dealership where we intended to drop off the van so the heater could be repaired today.

This morning, Ben was pleasantly surprised to find himself driving my brother’s car, a fire-engine red Ford Mustang, to work in place of his temporarily impaired Honda.

And now surprisingly it is 11:30 am and the troops are hungry...which shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone. Except, the cook hasn't been keeping track of the time, and has instead been busily blogging away while she should have been making lunch.