Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weight-Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009
Week 16 & 17: 4/15 - 4/28
Weight Lost This Week: -3.9 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -33.2 pounds
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Accomplishments:
Wooohooo! I couldn't be happier! 33.2 pounds of me are completely gone! Every week I am getting closer to my final weight loss goal and it definitely feels like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. On average, I've been losing about 1.9 pounds per week since I first began Weight Watcher's and exercising daily this past January and I am feelin' awesome!
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One of the biggest reasons I initially became so serious and diligent about losing weight was because I was concerned about the risks of being overweight. The first major milestone on my way to becoming healthier was losing 10% of my total body weight. Why is 10% the magic number? Well, because upon losing 10% of your total body weight, you greatly reduce your risk of complications associated with being overweight (such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart complications, etc).
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Losing that 10% felt like a huge accomplishment and after reaching that initial goal, it was time to set my next goal: a BMI that is in the "normal" weight range. Although my BMI had not yet reached the dreaded "obese" label, I had been hangin' out in the "overweight" category for quite a while. Definitely longer than I care to admit. So, this week, upon recalculating my BMI and discovering I have finally reached the "normal" weight range, I was ecstatic!
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However, since I am just barely within the "normal" weight range, I am continuing in my weight loss efforts so that I fall within the middle of the "normal" weight range spectrum.
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Improvements:
Yikes...I have fallen back into those nightly snacks again. However, because I have been exercising more (remember those impossible Pilates? And the nice weather has allowed for many more bike rides!) I am actually really hungry by 8:00 pm. We usually eat dinner early (5:00 pm), so I guess it isn't that surprising that I am hungry in the evening, especially if I've been active. The goal for this week, then, is to pick better-for-me snacks in the evening when I am hungry. It is soooo easy to grab that ice cream sandwich, but I know that choice isn't really the best. So, here's to healthier evening snacks (if needed) this week!
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Fun Fact of the Week:
Over the past few weeks, there have been several people who I haven't told about my weight loss efforts that have noticed I look different. From our next door neighbor to Zach's nurse at our family doctor, I have gotten puzzled looks and questions that go something like, "Wow, you look really different? Is it your hair? No...that's not right!" Although it feels a bit awkward at first, it has been kind of fun to say in response, "Well, I've lost about 30 pounds...could that be it?"
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Also, most of my clothes are so baggy that I'm beginning to think I can't get away with wearing some of them much longer. I went through my closet again tonight and purged several more pairs of pants, capris, and shirts. And, now, for the first time EVER in our marriage, Ben's closet is fuller than mine!
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I tried on the bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding today so that my mom could measure, pin, and begin alterations. We were both shocked at how ginormous the dress is (it didn't seem so ginormous, though, in early January when I first tried it on!). I guess my weight loss efforts have inadvertently created a lot of extra work for my mom, who will essentially have to "remake" parts of the dress, taking in at least 6 inches at the waist!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Remember Our Dead Squirrel?

In case you don't remember what dead squirrel I'm referring to, here's a refresher: Yes, that dead squirrel: The one that got mortally zapped while playing with the power line box back in February and has been hanging out in our backyard ever since.

Since my previous post that first introduced our backyard rodent friend, I have received multiple comments and have personally discussed at great lengths what will eventually happen to the critter's corpse...especially when, you know, it starts to decompose and all. Should we call the power company? Animal control? Or, should I continue to hold out hope that when the vermin finally does fall from its all too inconvenient resting place, fur matted from months of enduring the outside elements complete with disintegrating insides due to the long awaited seasonal thaw, that it will land in our neighbor's backyard so maybe their dogs can have a little fun with it instead of my kids?

Well, I need wonder no longer. This weekend, upon my typical daily dead squirrel check, behold:


Yes, that is a huge black crow pecking happily away at the dead squirrel, who, by the way, has lost a considerable amount of weight and cuteness factor over the past few months.

There were a few times that I gasped in sheer horror as I watched the crow aggressively pecking the poor flimsy lifeless thing, lifting it completely off the box at one point, and I thought for sure that the black scavenger bird would fling its meal directly into my backyard. But, as quickly as he arrived, the crow flew off before he even finished his meal, and unfortunately, hasn't been back since.

So, now, we have a half eaten electrocuted squirrel laying rather precariously on the power box in our backyard.

Any birds out there up for some leftovers?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Summer is Here (at least for the time being)!

Yesterday marked our first 80-degree day of the year. Yes, you read correctly...80+ degrees on April 23! In fact, I saw on the news last night that we were only 1 degree shy of breaking the all time record high for the day.

In celebration of our taste of summer, both Allie and I brought out our flip-flops


and spent some much needed outside play time. Allie played in the sandbox while wearing her almost sleeveless cotton sun dress:

We had fun spotting the blue jays, robins, and cardinals in our backyard together:


Allie climbed to the top of the swing set and declared it room 308 of her personal hotel:

And then she discovered the hazards of wearing a sundress on an extremely windy day while climbing down from her penthouse hotel suite:

We had a great afternoon enjoying the outdoors!

Oh...what's that? You want to know where Zach was? That's right...I do have another child! How could I forget to mention that he spent the majority of the time looking like this?

Ahhh...yes...we have now reached the stage in child-development known as the "I can't really communicate to you want I want, so instead I will throw myself on the ground, kicking, screaming, thrashing, and scooting myself backwards over the full length of the backyard until I get what I want...oh wait...what is it that I want? I can't seem to remember anymore" period. More aptly named: "The Terrible Twos."

After realizing he was indeed missing out on much fun, he allowed me to help him to the top of the swing set: Then, he wanted to go down the slide:
And, after going down the slide when he wasn't able to climb up the swing set all by himself, we found ourselves back at square one:But, then he found the rope hooked to our mini-climbing wall on our swing set and was again amused:
Until Allie came and tried to take the rope away:So, then we headed back to the sandbox

where every single time Zach picked up a toy to play with, Allie proclaimed, in the most dramatic fashion, that she absolutely needed the particular tool Zach was holding to put the finishing touches on her ice cream sundae and that Zach "...never ever EVER shares ANYTHING!"

The moral of the story?

Being a mom kid is rough and can definitely take an emotional toll on you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our Girls' Weekend Away

This past weekend my mom, my sister, Allie and I all road tripped to Wisconsin for my sister's bridal shower. Zach and Ben stayed at home and had a self-proclaimed "Man Weekend" filled with a trip to Como Zoo, bike rides, running a few errands for me, tidying up the house, playing outside, going to church, and enjoying the quiet that is only present when the two female members of our family are away from home.
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Allie has been anticipating this all girls' weekend getaway for several weeks now. I'm sure the promise of sleeping in her princess blow-up bed, swimming in the hotel pool, going out to eat every day, helping my sister open all of her presents while wearing her fanciest pink dress, and eating copious amounts of bridal shower cake had nothing to do with her uncontainable excitement.
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We left Friday and arrived at our hotel mid afternoon, leaving more than enough time for all of us girls to head to the local mall for our wedding makeovers. Along with receiving fresh new make up colors for the big day, complete with "sparkles" for Allie's cheeks and eyes, we decided to get our eyebrows threaded.
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What is eye brow threading? I like my sister's definition best. In response to the same question posed by Allie, my sister responded by telling her, "It's when that lady over there takes that long piece of thread and rips all your eyebrows out." Allie, with a look of sheer terror on her face, quickly made it known that she would not be participating in the eye brow threading. To clarify, the lady did not rip all of anyone's eyebrows out. Yes, the whole procedure was a tad bit uncomfortable, but I'm now the proud honor of perfectly shaped brows with absolutely NO hair in between, above, or below my brow line. For only $10, I have to say, I may have a new addiction.
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The rest of the evening was spent eating pizza, swimming, purchasing and preparing the rest of the food for the shower the next day, watching some good ole' HGTV and then falling fast asleep.
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Well, we were all fast asleep until 1:30 am and then Allie woke up to use the bathroom. Although Allie was able to fall asleep quickly after her potty break, I unfortunately was not able to. And, unbeknownst to me, my mom and sister were also laying silently awake until around 3:00 am when my mom rolled over, sighed, and proclaimed that she absolutely could not sleep. I happily welcomed the company and after my sister chimed in that she could not sleep either, we began to have a full-fledged conversation.
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A conversation about what? I'm not so sure. Remember, it was 3:00 am. All I recall was that there was lots of laughter and complaints about being extremely hungry. We were definitely being loud, probably obnoxious, but Allie continued sleeping soundly through all the ruckus.
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And, then for some reason, I began re-telling the story when I was pregnant with Allie and I woke up in the middle of the night famished, proceeded to slather peanut butter all over saltine crackers, and devoured them in our dim-lit kitchen only to discover the next morning upon opening that same jar of PB that it was infested and crawling with these tiny microscopic maggoty-looking bug things!
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Anyway, at the exact moment we were all proclaiming our utter disgust over the bug infested PB, Allie, who we had all presumed to be sound asleep, bolted upright in her princess bed and screamed, "WHEN MOMMY WAS PREG-A-NANT THERE WAS BUGS?! ARE THEY GOING TO GET ME NOW?! OH NO!"
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After assuring Allie that there were absolutely no bugs in the hotel room, in addition to convincing her that grandma was only joking when she had previously suggested watching a movie because we couldn't sleep (obviously Allie had been awake and listening in to our conversation for some time!), she climbed up into my sister's bed and despite being terrified every time the heater/ac kicked in and the "wind blew on her cheeks," she finally fell asleep. The last time I looked at the clock, it read 4:00 am. And, then, all too soon, it was morning.
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Even though we were all pretty tired the next day, the bridal shower went off without a hitch. The food was great. It tasted as good as it looked:

Allie was thrilled to celebrate with Aunt Stephanie, the bride-to-be: Allie's favorite part was helping to open the presents: Or maybe it was giving Aunt Stephanie her very own present. She was insistent upon purchasing my sister a hot pad for her wedding shower. After Allie picked out the hot pad, I was able to convince her to pick a matching towel and washcloth too. And, who do you think picked out the gift bag? Stephanie opened a bunny. Allie kissed the bunny: Allie was proud to display the wedding rehearsal bouquet put together by my Aunt and Grandma: And, even though she had very little sleep the night before and had absolutely no nap, this was her demeanor for the duration of the shower: We had a great weekend celebrating with the bride-to-be.

Now, Allie is eagerly anticipating the wedding day when Chris B. will finally become her uncle and, in Allie's words, "He will be ALL MINE!" Hmmm...I wonder if Aunt Stephanie knows she has a little competition!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Unfortunately, the following post will not be my usual installment of Weight Loss Wednesday. Between going out of town for my sister's bridal shower this weekend and Allie coming down with a nasty stomach bug (yes, there was puking involved), I didn't have the chance to get weighed in this week at my local Weight Watcher's meeting place.

I know I could post the numbers from my bathroom scale, but that just doesn't seem as "official" to me. Plus, I'm worried that my bathroom scale and the Weight Watcher's scale aren't exactly calibrated (if that's even the right word for it) the same because every single time I go to weigh in, without a doubt, I can always count on the number being higher on their scale than mine at home. Which, by posting my bathroom scale number this week, it is very possible that by next week the good ole' Weight Watcher's scale will have finally caught up to my home scale resulting in a nullification of any weight loss reported this week. And, no weight lost in any given week is definitely a tad bit depressing. Make sense? No? Well, at least I tried to explain my dilemma.

Anyway, Allie is sick. She pretty muched stopped eating after the shower on Saturday and spiked a 102 degree temp by Sunday. The puke came on Monday. She even fell asleep while watching a movie this morning, which only happens when she is deathly ill. We don't watch a ton of TV around here, so when we do, you better believe she has her eyes glued to the screen in an effort to not miss out on one single minute of movie viewing. Here's photographic evidence of her fast asleep while "Cars" was still playing:




As far as what I have to say about weight loss this week...

Basically, going out of town, staying in a hotel, and eating out four days in a row makes a serious weight loss effort extremely difficult.
So, here's the low down: The Good News and Bad News
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The good news: According to my bathroom scale (and we've already covered the discrepancies with using my bathroom scale), I haven't gained any weight.
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The bad news: If I have to eat another bite of a fast food salad with grilled chicken and Italian dressing, I just might hurl...which it seems everyone else in our home has been tossing their cookies lately, so really, why not me?!
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Some more good news: Eating those salads in an effort to compensate for consuming a gigantor piece of the best cake I have EVER tasted, complete with chocolate mousse filling, at my sister's bridal shower was totally and completely worth it. In retrospect, I think it may have been an even better idea to skip lunch on the day of the shower so I could have gobbled down two of those pieces of cake.
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The unfortunate bad news regarding the cake consumption: Apparently I'm not used to such high quantities of sugar anymore and my stomach was churning after only eating half of that piece of cake. Against my better judgement, I did finish the piece and then proceeded to lick my plate, fork, the serving knife, spatula, and part of the serving platter the cake came on completely clean. But, alas, even with skipping my lunch, I'm guessing that eating two pieces of cake would have been close to impossible, unless puking at the bridal shower was an option.
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The good news: It was fairly easy to pick out a meal that was good for me at the local Mexican food restaurant.
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The bad news: Resisting the bottomless chips and salsa offered takes intense self-control and concentration throughout the entire duration of dining at the Mexican food restaurant.
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The good news: Packing healthy snack options like yogurt, apples, string cheese, and low-fat Fiber bars helped me not to make last-minute poor choices when I was hungry.
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The bad news: Yogurt, apples, string cheese, and low-fat Fiber bars will never EVER taste as good as the Chocolate Eclair Custard at Culver's (don't worry, I didn't cave, but there may have been some drool dripping from the corner of my mouth while I watched Allie devour hers).
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The good news: The treadmill was too big to take along with us and since I won't be seen exercising in public (or, at the very least, running in public), I did not visit the hotel exercise room. No treadmill for 3 days was a much needed break.
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The bad news: Unfortunately, after 3 days off, it was extremely difficult for me to work up the motivation to drag myself out of bed at 6 am on Monday morning to tackle the treadmill. I did it, but oh so very reluctantly.
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That's all I can muster up for today...come back next week for the usual report. Until then, I'm just hoping I can make it through the week without giving in to my craving for more cake (I honestly haven't had a strong craving for cake until I tasted it again this weekend...go figure, I have one piece and now I want to eat the entire pan!) and getting back into a diligent exercise routine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!


According to Allie, today my mom turns 16. In fact, Allie even hand made my mom a very special dress last week out of every single blanket and hair clip in her bedroom to celebrate the occasion. She also used her magic wand to concoct a beautiful birthday cake out of legos for my mom to enjoy before she has to be taken back to her real mother and father (who just happen to be the king and queen and live in a magnificent castle) so that she can marry her betrothed prince who, unbeknownst to my mom, is the same kind and handsome young man she met earlier in the day while singing and dancing around barefoot with her woodland creature friends amongst the wildflowers in the forest glen. If only all birthdays were that magical....
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Anyway, since our family was all together for Easter on Sunday, we took the opportunity to celebrate my mom's birthday. Allie was all over the pink flowers, birthday cake, and opening of birthday presents.
Allie also picked out my mom's card which just happened to be pink with a sparkly tiara on the front.


And, just to clarify a few things:
No, my mom is not actually turning 16.
Yes, the above pictures are actually pictures of my mom and not my sister.
Yes, my mom is old enough to have a daughter my age (good grief...how old do I look?!).
No, Allie is not her daughter, she is her granddaughter.
And, yes, that means my mom is old enough to be a grandma.
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Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009
Week 15: 4/8-4/14
Weight Lost This Week: -2.0 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -29.4 pounds
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Accomplishments:
Wooohooo! Even though I was sick with the nastiest cold/sinus thing for most of the week and I had to navigate my way through all the goodies that come along with Easter, I still lost 2 pounds!
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I was probably a little psycho about the exercising, though. There were definitely a few days I should have stayed away from the treadmill, but I endured, even though I felt like I was going to pass out after my thirty minutes. We also went on a few bike rides and I am more determined than ever to master this new crazy, insane Pilates workout video. I have started doing this new video only every other day (on the off days I do one of my "easier" Pilates videos) because I definitely need to give my muscles a day to recoup...let me tell ya', I'm feelin' the BURN!
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Anyway, I was also really proud of myself at Easter dinner. I stuck to my plan of filling up with mostly veggies/salad/fruit/lean protein. I passed on the stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, and gravy so that I could take a generous serving of my mom's Sweet Potato Souffle. It was soooo worth it. My mom's Sweet Potato Souffle only appears once or twice a year and even though I have the recipe and can make it whenever I want, for some reason my rendition never EVER tastes as good as my mom's. I did have cake for dessert, but I passed on most of the Easter candy (I snuck a few jelly beans, but they are fat free, you know!) and cookies.
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Improvements:
This week is very busy, complete with plans to eat out several times (we normally try to stick to 1-2 times a week) in addition to my sister's wedding shower (where there will undoubtedly be more delicious cake!). So, my first goal is to make good choices while eating out. This is often easier said than done, but I am no longer uninformed and am fully capable of picking the better-for-me options at any restaurant that are lower in fat, carbs, and calories in addition to controlling my portion sizes and not over-eating. I know the foods I need to stick with and I need to continue to muster up the self control to do it. Also, I aim to exercise when I have the time and not get too critical of myself when I'm not able to fit in my normal routine. I know for a fact that there will be a few days this week already that my normal exercise routine will not be possible because of other plans.
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Fun Fact of the Week:
As I'm sitting here typing, enjoying the warm spring breeze from the open kitchen window while wearing a pair of cute crop pants that are 2 sizes smaller than the ones I wore last spring, I feel reeeaaallly good. I don't remember the last time I felt this good about the way my body looks. I know as a Christian woman I'm often told to focus on developing my mind, heart, and character instead of focusing solely on my physical appearance. So, I can see how a lot of you may be thinking that I've gone and jumped on the vanity wagon. For those of you in that camp, just humor me for a bit here.
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Although I agree that focusing on who I am is incredibly important, I've also come to learn that taking care of my body, the one body that God has given me to serve Him throughout my entire lifetime, is also important. I guess it's that whole balance thing that comes into play again, huh? Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that it has been a long, loooong time since I have felt like who I am on the inside has been reflected by my physical appearance on the outside. I feel like I am finally beginning to recognize that person staring back at me when I look into the mirror.
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I have worked extremely hard to lose these 29.4 pounds. Just knowing that my lifestyle changes have resulted in looking better, feeling better, and being healthier boosts my desire to work even harder toward my final goal. I'm still trying to determine what the best weight for me is, but I'm definitely halfway there--only about 10-20 more pounds to go! Then, I have to figure out how to keep it that way...but this post is already long enough, so that whole weight maintenance issue can wait for another time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend Recap

Holiday weekends are always full of fun and surprises. This past Easter weekend was no exception.

The first surprise: absolutely glorious spring weather! I don't believe we've had a sunny and warm (yes, 50-60 degree weather is most definitely considered warm to us northerners) Easter weekend since Allie's first Easter when she was only five months old.

So, in an effort to enjoy the beautiful weather we decided to go for a bike ride on Saturday morning. Although Ben and I knew our destination, we decided to keep it a secret from the kids. After about a 45 minute long bike ride near the river, weaving through several different bike trails in our community, we arrived at Culver's where we welcomed our second surprise: a HUGE Easter party celebration. Both the kids were excited when we pulled into the parking lot and there waiting for us was a police car, a fire truck, free books, face painting, and music. We enjoyed lunch and ice cream before saddling back up on the bikes and riding back home in time for some much needed naps.

We spent the rest of the day at home, mostly playing in the backyard. As it was nearing bath time, I headed inside to get things ready for the morning. I always try to set the kids' clothes out on Saturday evening and pack the diaper bag so we can get to church without feeling so rushed on Sunday morning. I also had to pack up a few things so that we could go over to my parents' house after the church service to continue our Easter celebration with my family on Sunday.

As I was just about done with all my preparations, surprise number three of the holiday weekend made its appearance. While Ben was pushing the kids on the swing, Zach tossed his cookies...and to be honest, it wasn't just his cookies he lost. According to Ben, Zach projectile upchucked all of his entire breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Twice. Did I mention this happened while he was swinging?

Ben stripped most of Zach's clothes off and quickly brought him inside where I plunked him in the bath. He was pretty distraught, shivering uncontrollably, and just downright miserable. After his bath we gave him a sippy cup of Pedialyte and took his temperature. Thermometer reading: 101.

From past experience, we have learned it is not a good idea to put a puking child to bed for the night so soon after the puking incident. In our case, doing just that has resulted in cleaning up expelled puke all over the bed a little less than half an hour after laying the child down into the bed. So, while Ben gave Allie her bath, Zach and I sat down in the chair, cuddled up underneath a blanket, and began watching some Veggie Tales while he continued sipping his red tinted Pedialyte.
Red tinted Pedialyte? Yep. Big mistake.
Surprise number four: Pink puke. Repeatedly. Over the next hour and a half. All over me, the blanket, the furniture. But, none on Zach!
Needless to say, we did not attend church on Sunday morning. Allie was definitely sad about not going to church. But her disappointment regarding our lack of church attendance was nothing compared to the surprising blow of opening her last resurrection egg to find it completely empty. The expression on her face and her insistence that we obviously forgot to put something in the last egg was hilarious. Apparently the symbolism of the empty egg went far over her head this year. However, a few pastel marshmallow bunnies in her Cheerios at breakfast while listening to Daddy read the Easter story seemed to smooth things over quite well.



Poor Zach was quite miserable on Sunday morning, but he did not object to eating orange jello for breakfast:

One of the more exciting surprises of the morning was finding out that the Easter Bunny is real. No lie. We opened our windows on Sunday morning to find our backyard full of pastel colored eggs filled with chocolates. Ben and I looked at each other, puzzled, and both exclaimed simultaneously, "Did you...?" To which we both responded in unison to one another, "Um...no!" I'm not sure who was more excited, the kids or us! We're still not sure who played Easter bunny this year, but our suspicion is one of our next door neighbors.
After collecting the eggs from our surprise morning Easter egg hunt, we headed on over to the Richardson's where we had a fun time visiting with family, eating great food, hunting eggs, and eating as much candy as desired (my exact words, indeed, to the kids).
Here's Allie striking a pose in her Easter dress:

Zach was still feeling icky, but managed to have fun:Watching a movie while waiting for Easter Dinner (or lunch...seeing as we ate at noon):Sugar, Sugar, Sugar. And yes, the end of the sugar high was definitely in the form of a massive, MASSIVE melt-down. Poor Zach...I'm not sure that cookie helped him feel any better...in fact, most of it ended up on the ground where Taffy (the Richardson's dog) ate it:Hunting for Eggs! This was Zach's first official Easter Egg Hunt and he was a pro. Allie, also a pro, has a little more experience under her belt:Here's Zach enjoying a bunny marshmallow. Actually, he only enjoyed it for two seconds and then spit it on the ground:Wow...big surprise...absolutely no smiles for the annual Easter kids' shot. Seriously, even though you would never guess it from this photo, they both had a lot of fun!The best family photo of the day. Apparently, for Allie the candy was much more exciting than smiling for the camera and Zach was just not really in that picture-taking mood:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight-Loss 2009
Week 14: 4/1 - 4/7
Weight Lost This Week: -2.8 pounds
Weight Lost To Date: -27.4 pounds
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Accomplishments:
Well, after the disappointing 0.4 pounds lost last week I was determined more than ever to lose some significant poundage this week. So, it seems cracking down on those after dinner snacks and increasing my amount of exercise did the trick. I was on the treadmill for an hour every day instead of only a half hour. Plus, I got a new Pilates exercise video that is beyond difficult--basically, I'm sweating bullets after less than 2 minutes and the whole workout lasts 45 minutes. I'm not quite sure it is possible for me to keep up this amount of exercise for this week, though. An hour and 45 minutes is a lot of time out of my day and I don't always have that amount of free time to devote to exercise. Also, I have a whopper of a cold and have felt like crud since Monday (which hasn't exactly helped my whole desire to wake up at the crack of dawn to hit the treadmill; however, I have had little to no appetite...so that's a plus, huh?!). Anyway, I'm going to continue to exercise as I am able and try not to be too disappointed if the numbers on the scale aren't the greatest next week. Sleep seems oh so much more important this week.
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Improvements:
Well, this week we celebrate Easter. In the world of food, this means a huge and wonderful Sunday dinner spread prepared by my mom. We'll also be celebrating my mom's upcoming birthday, so I'm positive that a delectable cake will make its appearance on the dessert table. Mmmm...cake...one of my biggest weaknesses. So, because I really don't want to gain all 2.8 pounds back that I worked my tail off to lose last week, I am going to be diligent about portion sizes, in addition to making sure I fill most of my plate with lower-fat options at the Easter dinner table (think salad, veggies, fruit, turkey minus the gravy). Also, I will pass on those things (or take very little of...think, one or two bites) that aren't necessarily special, celebratory food (think mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls...you know, basically the things that I could have anytime I wanted) so that I reserve my calories for foods that make their appearance only a couple times a year. And, well, I'm not going to say I'll pass on the cake. That just ain't gonna happen. But, I will make sure to have a very small piece...and I'll pass on the ice cream. Here's to hoping I can control myself!
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Fun Fact of the Week:
I hate shopping for pants...absolutely hate it. Not only do I have to find the tall sizes that only a very few stores carry, but I usually have to venture into the sizes that make me want to cry. So, when I went shopping this past weekend for some dress pants (because all of my other dress pants look like parachute pants) to wear to my sister's upcoming bridal shower, I was very careful not to get too excited about finding anything that fit. Until, I was in the dressing room trying on a pair of pants that were 1 size smaller than any pair of pants I own at home and they were...TOO BIG. And, when my sister brought me a pair of pants that were 2 sizes smaller than any pair of pants I own at home, I looked at the waist band and laughed out loud because there was no way a pair of pants that small was going to fit me! But, giving in to my sister's coaxing, I took the tiny pair of pants off the hanger, pulled them up without any effort at all (I'm not lying...no sucking in, no tugging, no pulling the waist band in a last ditch effort to proclaim they fit), buttoned the button, and zipped the zipper. They fit. Perfectly. I don't remember the last time it felt that good to march up to the register and fork over my credit card to buy a pair of pants. Actually, probably not since high school...seeing as that's the last time I bought a pair of pants in that size. I think I'm actually going to save the tag on the pants. Seriously, this is momentous.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Preparations

I feel like every year Easter catches me off guard. It seems like all of a sudden Easter day is here and gone before I've even taken adequate opportunity to contemplate all the day means for me as a Christian. It isn't that I don't try to set aside time for quiet introspection. I do try, but for some reason or another the busy-ness of life gets in the way and I allow another Easter to pass by without fully acknowledging its significance.

This Sunday at church Pastor John said something in his sermon that really hit home to me. He was talking about how Easter is the most sacred of all holidays and how the importance of Easter far exceeds that of Christmas. He went on to point out that even though we often deem Christmas to be the most important of holidays, it is in fact only a prelude to the greater work that was performed on Easter. Basically meaning that Christmas is only one chapter in the far greater story of God rescuing man. Easter, on the other hand, is the climax of His story, the greatest work, what everything else in the entire Bible is building up to. And, yet, how often it gets short changed.

I have always loved Christmas. Partly because at Christmastime it is so easy for me to "feel" worshipful and "feel" thankful for the gift of Christ. Every time I turn on the radio during the Christmas season my ears are filled with carols proclaiming Christ's birth. Angels and wisemen greet me at almost every department store Christmas display. People decorate their homes with beautiful lights so that I am reminded in the darkest of months that Christ came to be our light. Everywhere I go in the month of December I see physical reminders of God coming down to Earth in the form of the beautiful baby Jesus and I can't help but celebrate.

However, mainstream culture seems to provide little, only a mere 3 1/2 months later, to remind me of this same baby Jesus, who grew up to be a blameless, sinless man, who sacrificed his life to rescue me. The radio plays no Easter carols to make it easy for me to remember that Good Friday is only a few days away. It's not like when I walk into Target I am greeted by a cross or an empty tomb display. And, all too often, during Easter week I simply choose not to remember, I sing "Up From the Grave He Arose" on Easter Sunday, have a great Easter meal with my family after church, and then go about my life as normal again on Monday.

But, the point really isn't that I want to see crucifixes everywhere I turn during Easter week or even that I need outside cultural reminders to bring me to true and thankful worship. I believe the point that Pastor John was making on Sunday, one that definitely made significant impact on me, is that during the Easter season I will get no help from the world to remind me to celebrate the Truth of Easter.

Celebrating Easter is between God and myself. It is my choice whether or not to ponder the magnitude of what Easter means. It is up to me to take the time, to read the account of Christ's arrest, to weep over the unjust accusations made against Him, and to know that the cross he carried on his back was supposed to be for me. It is up to me to remember how He hung on that cross, bleeding, every muscle in his body screaming in agony, while every single sin I have ever committed and ever will commit was placed upon Him to bear as he gasped his final breath and died. Because of me...because He wanted to rescue me...because of His love...He died for me.
And, it is up to me to declare His defeat over death, to celebrate his rising from the grave, to anticipate His return with the joy and gratitude only one who has been rescued from the worst of all fates can know. And, when Monday roles around, I should not forget. Easter should change my life forever.

In an effort to have our family be more intentional about looking to Jesus this Easter, we made our own set of resurrection eggs...basically 12 plastic eggs that each contain a tangible object inside that helps to tell the story of Easter. These eggs have served as our very own physical reminders of Jesus during this week before Easter. As we open an egg each day, I have had the opportunity to little by little unfold the story of Easter to my kids. So far, it has proven to be an excellent way for me to not rush through the Easter story, to contemplate each piece of what was done for me, and to pass these significant truths along to my kids.

Of course Allie looks forward to the egg opening each day and has a multitude of questions regarding each egg, but I am so thankful for the discussions we have had in the past few days about Jesus because of her questions. I was definitely anticipating the kids loving the eggs, but what I wasn't anticipating is how God has been softening my heart as we open each egg and read through the corresponding Scripture. It is neat how He is preparing me a little more each and every day for Easter through something as simple as a dozen pastel colored plastic eggs with little objects I have gathered from around our house that all point to Jesus, making me truly thankful and excited to celebrate this Easter.

What are some ways you and your family prepare for and celebrate Easter?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Case

Do you remember those awkward teenage years when you were so concerned about having everything look just right on the outside? How being seen in public with your parents was pure torture? When everything about your parents, from the things they decided to say to the clothes they decided to wear, completely clashed with your cooler than cool image? I mean, seriously, how can a teenager maintain a trendy persona when they have to be seen in public with the very people that provide them food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and have ultimately given them everything needed for survival since before they were even born?

Since my kids are years away from such ungrateful behavior and because I am sure I never ever treated my parents with such selfish disrespect during my teenage years, you may be wondering why I bring this whole issue up.

Well, it is because I am beginning to build up my case. You know, so that when Allie is 15 and looks at me in disgust before we leave to attend a school function together as a family and snidely says under her breath, "Seriously, if you wear that I'm going to act like I'm not related to you," I will have a whole arsenal of truly embarrassing stories to share with her in the car on the way to the event that will make my clothing choice look like designer runway fashion in comparison.

For instance, I might decide to recount today's events at the tuxedo rental shop/men's clothing store. We had to make a quick stop there to get Ben measured for a tux for my sister's wedding. We also needed to purchase Zach his very own tuxedo because apparently they don't rent tuxedos to perpetually drooling, snot-streaming, booger-schmearing toddlers.

Anyway, I was instantly overjoyed upon walking into the store when Allie located a kids' play corner, complete with toys, coloring books, and a little table with a couple chairs. The kids and I set up camp in the corner, eating Teddy Grahams and playing with toys that looked as if they needed some serious cleaning, complete with bleach, while Ben headed to the back to get his measurements taken. I'm pretty positive there aren't many moms that work at this particular men's clothing store. In fact, as I scanned the store, I only saw men...all in suits...thus fully explaining the disgusting nature of the toys. Maybe I'm being judgemental, but I really don't see suit-wearing men bending over a sink full of bleach water and sanitizing toys. But, to their credit, they did have toys. So, I shouldn't complain. Or, maybe I should've just asked when one of their wives was coming in for a visit....

Back to the topic at hand...

Allie, always the observant one, also noticed the lack of female presence in the store. She was very concerned that there were no girl clothes and was curious as to why there weren't any women shopping there. I went on to explain to her that this was a store for Daddy and other grown-up men. This seemed to appease her for a while and so I went back to handing out Teddy Grahams to Zach.

Then, piercing through the silence that can only be heard by men shopping in a men's store,

"MOM! IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL! LOOK! MOM! I SAID, IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL?!"

I looked over to where Allie was pointing to see a slightly overweight woman in her mid 50's with no make-up on, huge rimless glasses, and extremely short brown hair holding a few extremely large men's shirts she had rifled off of the clearance rack. When I realized she was staring right in our direction I quickly looked away and whispered as softly as possible to Allie: "That is a woman."

"WHADDYA SAY MOM?! IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL?! COME ON MOM! BOY OR GIRL!"

By this time the woman was directly in front of us. Literally two feet away. I did the only thing I could think to do which was to offer an apology. But, really, how do you apologize for the fact that your 3-year old can't determine gender? She responded a bit coldly, "Well, I've been wondering for a while now if I should grow out my hair and I guess I have my answer." She put the shirts down and walked out.

After she abruptly left the store, a rather tall, young, and tan looking salesman, who probably just spent his spring break in Cancun, and was of course wearing a fashionably dark pin striped suit complete with a brightly colored tie, shouts to us from across the room through peals of his own laughter, "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

Allie looks up toward the man's direction, "Hey mom! That man looks just like BARACK OBAMA!"

"No, Allie, he doesn't."

"Well, yes he does. He kind of does. He's dark just like Barack Obama."

"Allie, he's tan. He is not like Barack Obama."

"Well, just a little bit."

"No."

"I think he is...juuuust a little bit...like Barack Obama."

I told you. I'm building my case. And so far, I think I'm getting some pretty good ammo. So, bring on those teen years. I'll be so ready.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesday

Operation Weight Loss 2009:
Week 13 (3/25 - 3/31)
Weight Lost This Week: -0.4 lbs
Weight Lost To Date: -24.6 lbs
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Accomplishments:


Well, let me first tell ya that losing only four tenths of a pound just plain flat stinks. Seriously, only point four pounds?! That isn't even 2 whole sticks of butter! I'm not usually one to look on the "bright side" of things when a disappointment arises, so Ben (who is thankfully the EXACT opposite of me in this department) has taken it upon himself to point out all the positives of this week's weight loss accomplishment. Mainly, reminding me that it would be a whole heck of a lot worse if that little minus symbol in front of 0.4 were instead a little plus symbol. Yep, that would indeed stink a whole lot more. The biggest bummer is that I can't quite figure out why this week's weight loss is so much less. I've been staying within my points, exercising daily (sometimes hitting the treadmill twice!), and any "indulgences" I have partaken in have still been well within the Weight Watcher's plan. Ugh. This was a tough week.
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Improvements:


I will absolutely NOT justify putting ANYTHING into my mouth after 8 p.m. this week. I know I say this every week, but I have seriously got to crack down. I did pretty well last week, but there were still 3 nights or so that I allowed myself a snack in the evening when I wasn't really hungry. Also, I'm going to work to use up my allotted points earlier in the day so that I don't have those leftover 2-3 points after dinner that I am tempted to use up with a bowl of frozen yogurt or popcorn.
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Fun Fact of the Week:
I bet you didn't know that Pilates can be a family event:

Zach is still a bit hesitant about participating, but he has a lot of fun watching! Allie will do a few exercises with me, but then complains they are too difficult, runs to get her favorite stuffed animals, and then has them perform the exercises in her place. Ben occasionally does Pilates with me at night after the kids go to bed, but this particular day he decided to act as photographer.