Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Recap

Why is it that the weekend always flies by so fast? Friday night until now seems like a blur and I can hardly believe that we will be welcoming Monday again in less than four hours.
So, in an effort to record something regarding our weekend's fun before I fall asleep at the keyboard, I am going to incorporate my favorite device: the bulleted list!
Here goes:
  • Friday night (let's see, what did we do Friday night...I can hardly remember back that far!) we ran some errands after dinner. Zach had a massive melt down in Half Price Books, but I was able to snag some new-to-me leisure reads and a great cookbook before it was necessary to vacate Zach from the premises.
  • Ben and I watched a movie on Friday night ("The Proposal") after putting the kids to bed. We also indulged in some doughnuts that Ben brought home from a bakery in Austin (where one of his job sites is) that were honestly the best doughnuts I have EVER tasted (however, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I haven't had a real doughnut in over nine months or the fact that these particular doughnuts are from the same bakery that boasts the creation of Minnesota's biggest doughnuts and that one doughnut is literally the size of a small child's head).
  • Feeling guilty over my doughnut weakness the night before, I got up on Saturday morning and ran 5 miles in 43 minutes...and then I almost passed out.
  • We all headed to Mall of America for a fun family day on Saturday. We spent approximately 45 minutes in the Disney Store (which Allie also refers to as Disney World) where the kids oogled at Cars and Princess paraphernalia while I secretly picked up a few sale items for Christmas presents.
  • We ate lunch at Rainforest Cafe which was a huge hit with the kids. Although Zach had a slight panic attack the first time the lights began to flicker and the rumbles of thunder echoed through the restaurant, he quickly recovered at the sight of the balloon animal guy who came to our table to make the kids balloon animals. Allie also declared over lunch that this was the best vacation she has EVER been on.
  • A visit to MOA would not be complete without a walk through the Lego display and a few rides (thanks to some free ride passes we have been saving).
  • Much thanks to Gap Body who was giving away free cake in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. While I shopped the clearance racks, both Allie and Zach sat next to a silk underwear display and stuffed their faces full of vanilla frosted marble cake.
  • Breakfast for dinner on Saturday night was followed by preparations for Sunday School the next morning and a little online research for a birthday present for Allie. The kids were playing so well together that we lost track of time and they didn't even get into bed until an hour past their bedtimes (shocking, considering they woke up early and completely skipped their naps).
  • Ben and I also stayed up past our bedtime watching another movie ("Transformers II"). I'm not so sure the sacrificed sleep was worth viewing one billion explosions in a little over 2 hours.
  • Zach and Allie slept in today and took incredibly long naps! Ben relaxed while watching some football and I started my new book.
  • Allie spent over an hour painting with watercolors tonight. She painted a picture of heaven and wants to make sure I don't throw it away because she is going to give it to Jesus.
  • And, possibly the most miraculous news of the weekend (drumroll, please.......)
    ZACH HAS TINKLED ON THE POTTY NOT ONE, BUT TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW! WAHOOO!!!! Although his enthusiasm for correct potty usage does not quite match the rest of ours (seriously, Allie, Ben, and I were cheering and dancing around the bathroom applauding his actions while he just sat there and stared at us like we were crazed lunatics), he is now willing to pee on command for a jelly bean or mini chocolate. Could this be the beginning of the end for diapers?!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Operation Weight Maintenance

Well, it has been 3 weeks since I reached my weight loss goal and entered into the maintenance phase of the Weight Watcher's plan. Because I'm still within 2 pounds of my goal weight (and today I was exactly 1 pound BELOW my goal weight-woohoo!), I'm officially half way to becoming a life time member!
The reason I haven't been blogging about weight loss lately is because I feel like I don't have all that much to report. Because Weight Watcher's is more focused on healthy eating and living rather than implementing a rigid, restricted diet plan, I don't feel like I've changed much of what I've been doing since beginning the maintenance phase. Granted, there is a little more freedom in food choice because the maintenance plan allows for about 200 extra calories per day, but the new habits I have incorporated into my lifestyle over the past nine and a half months regarding exercise, portion control, and healthy food choices have remained constant.
To be completely honest, I have definitely had my share of indulgences over the past three weeks. I have come to terms with the fact that I will always love food (sugar and carbs in particular) and to absolutely cut those foods out of my life forever is just not feasible for me. So, instead of eating anything sugary whenever I please, I have learned a lot about self-control and spreading out my indulgences. So, for instance, when I go to a friend's house and she has made some delicious pumpkin muffins (one of my favorites!), I can eat one without feeling guilty because I know I have been exercising regularly, making healthy food choices, and I can choose to forego anything else of that nature for the remainder of the day.
It really does come down to self control and setting your sight on what you want for the long term as opposed to what you want right here and now. I'm always asking myself a slew of questions when I have a craving: "Am I hungry? Is this the best choice? If I eat this, can I stop at just 1? or 2? If I eat 10 of these will that help me to be my healthiest? Is it more important to gratify this craving now or can I forego it in an effort to maintain my healthy lifestyle? Am I bored? Am I tired? Is there something else I could be doing besides eating?"
And, because I am not perfect, there are plenty of times I go through all of those above questions and yet I STILL give in. But, the important thing I always have to remind myself is that one bad choice, or one bad meal, or one bad day isn't going to result in my returning to being 63 pounds overweight. However, if one bad day turns into one bad week, which then turns into one bad month, and then one bad year, we may very well have a problem. So, it becomes a matter of not allowing myself to be discouraged by my weaker moments, refusing to throw in the towel, and waking up each morning with a renewed desire to make the healthiest possible choices that I can.
I know this sounds a little over the top. Believe me, if I would have read this on someone else's blog a year ago I would have laughed and declared that I would never EVER give that much thought or planning toward eating or exercising...what a waste of time. But, therein lies the exact problem that I needed a remedy for.
It is becoming aware of my choices, and in turn caring about those choices in an effort to make better ones, that has really resulted in my weight loss success. The apathy I felt over planning my diet and exercise has been replaced by a concern to do whatever necessary to live the healthiest life possible. The desire for instant gratification is slowly being traded in for a desire to see past the here and now and setting my sights instead on my long term health.
I know a lot of people have commented to me that this (the maintenance phase) is the most difficult part. I've heard a thousand times, "It's easy to lose the weight, but good luck keeping it off!" However, knowing what I know now after working so hard to achieve my goal, I don't see how I could ever go back or why I would want to. To those skeptics out there, I say, "Although I love food, I will always love being healthy more."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Difference in Personality, Age, or Gender?

Today at 3:45 pm I got out some paints for the kids.
At approximately 3:57 pm while Allie was still meticulously engaged in the creation of a castle (that she later informed me also served as a depiction of the Mall of America because that is where she wants us to go this weekend...or Disneyworld...whichever location we choose is fine with her). . .

. . .Zach had long finished his work of art and had moved on to more important endeavors.

At about 4:36 pm, after over a zillion times 'round the coffee table, Mack finally made his way into the kitchen. . .

(The above picture will absolutely NOT upload horizontally, so you'll just have to tilt your head a bit to get the correct orientation.)
. . .where Allie was still putting the finishing touches on her masterpiece.

At 5:15 pm, when Allie finally declared she was finished, Lightening McQueen had also joined the painting party.

Ta-Da! The finished works of art!
Allie was insistent upon posing with hers and then told me she still needed to add some more paint. By the time she was actually done, there was absolutely no white space left on the paper. Total composition time: 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Zach's work of art. He refused to sit still so I could take a picture of him with his painting. Also note that 75% of the paint on the paper was a result of my failed effort to get him interested in painting. Total composition time: 7 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thoughts from the Shower

I feel like I have had a lot on my mind lately. Although I’ve never been one to process a singular thought or concern at any one given time, preferring instead to consider about a billion different things at once, over the past few weeks I feel like I’ve had about two billion things running through my mind. And, just for clarity’s sake, these things aren’t all necessarily life altering changes or big decisions that need to be made. Granted, those thoughts regarding the future are always in my thoughts, but have not been the cause of any anxiety or worry on my part.

Anyway, I just feel like I’ve been processing through a lot of things lately…things that include, but are not limited to:

*what God was trying to teach me through certain past experiences
*making sure I don’t forget to get bread (again) when I go to the grocery store
*what God’s purpose is for certain relationships in my life
*figuring out what the best day to go grocery shopping is
*how we can be more effective at disciplining and encouraging our kids
*when I will find time to dust all of our blinds
*what I can make with the dozens of apples I have in the fridge that won’t cause me to gain a dozen pounds
*how I can be encouraging to my husband in tangible ways
*what God means when he says I am to have a “gentle and quiet spirit”
*how I can best teach a flute student that I’m just not “clicking” with
*what I’m going to do to occupy my time while on the treadmill after I finish Season 10 of Friends
*what is it that God has gifted me with that I can use to serve others

All of these things aren’t necessarily bad things for me to ponder, except I feel like the only time I have complete clarity of thought without interruption is while I’m in the shower.

It amazes me how many epiphanies I have come to during a less than 10 minute shower. For example, most of last week I was procrastinating the composure of an e-mail that expressed some concerns I had regarding a particular situation and after praying about it and thinking it over in the shower, I got out, toweled off, and was able to write the whole e-mail in less than 10 minutes (and it was received favorably and the situation was remedied).

Maybe I’m crazy (or I could be a tad bit enamored by my newest shower gel), but I am convinced that lately my ability to problem solve is inexplicably linked to my bathroom shower stall.

In a world where I am constantly bombarded with requests for snacks, stories, and help with difficult toys, inquiries regarding the presence of ears on earthworms and whether or not we can wear our swimsuit in the middle of October, the sound of running water rushing over my head for those 10 precious minutes each morning is one of the most peaceful moments of my day (I've found it does wonders for my patience and sanity as well).

The only problem with having so much to think about is that I need more than one shower a day...or at least one that lasts longer than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, even though our water heater is new, I'm pretty sure it's capacity is not nearly large enough to support the processing of two billion thoughts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Look

For well over a year my blog has been practically begging me for a more updated look. Not only was my sidebar displaying pictures of a toothless 9 month old (a very cute one at that, though I must admit), but the whole floral pink daisy thing was just not doing it for me anymore. So, with new family pictures in hand and a resolved effort to make over my blog, I spent Sunday afternoon in front of the computer screen sorting through blog templates, backgrounds, widgets, and applications while begging my husband to help me decipher html code and edit headers.
So, although far from the professional appearance of many mom blogs out there, I'm still happy with the end result. I wish I had the time to learn more about blog design, photography, and photo editing. But, unfortunately those endeavors are right up there on the list with learning how to knit, decorate cakes, and quilt...and also reading all of the classic novels and literary works, hearing all of the great musical works live and in person, traveling to every continent in the world, getting my doctoral degree, or coming across an unsightly amount of money that we use to completely remodel our home (or heck, just go buy a new one) and take a second honeymoon to some place warm and tropical where we lay on the beach all day long, sipping strawberry smoothies (sorry, folks, not quite a fan of the alcoholic drinks), and laughing at all those people back in Minnesota who are trudging through snow and the coldest temperatures ever on record for the beginning of October.
And now I will take my head out of the clouds, tackle the laundry, and attend to the two bleary eyed kids (who aren't sure if it is actually morning yet because it is completely pitch black outside) that are professing their extreme hunger.
Enjoy the new and improved blog!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Trip to a REAL Farm

A couple weeks ago the kids and I went with Allie's preschool to a local pumpkin patch/farm. And although we had a great time frolicking through the pumpkins, petting goats, and admiring llamas, I have been told time and time again by my college roomie that if I want the kids to experience a real farm I need to take a trip to visit her so we could take a look around her family's farm in nowheresville rural Minnesota.
I remember the first time I visited Andrea's home while we were still roomies in college. It wasn't exactly a surprise to me that she lived on a farm, but I was not quite expecting this type of farm: See what I mean? It's like the farm from Charlotte's Web jumped out of the pages and made its appearance in real life! Well, almost...except for the fact that Andrea's family doesn't really raise pigs or chickens or goats or have any talking, intelligent, nurturing spiders (that I am aware of). On the other hand, you can see cows right outside her bathroom window, which is enough evidence of a real, true-life farm for me.
Since I'm a self-proclaimed suburban gal, I've never ever before had a good friend who lived on a real life farm with an actual barn, tractors, and livestock. And as I walked around taking it all in, I remember Andrea laughing at all my questions (such as, "Wow! You have REAL cows here?" and "What? You grow CORN?"), but answering them kindly and patiently nonetheless.
I would like to say that I was a little less inquisitive at the farm last week when I took the kids along, but that wouldn't be all that honest. I think, however, that Andrea drew the line at answering all my questions when I found this mostly-dead, gooey-looking, unrecognizable animal in the middle of the cornfield. When I asked what it was, she quickly responded, "Looks like intestines to me!" and continued walking along the way, completely unphased by the discovery while I was still trying to process what could have happened to result in such intestinal carnage in the middle of a picturesque cornfield.
Anyway, the kids had a blast! Andrea's dad volunteered to take them both on tractor rides while harvesting the feed corn. This was absolutely the highlight of the trip!

However, ranking right up there with the tractor rides for the kids was the ride to the cornfield, sans carseats, in the back of Andrea's car. Truth be told, I was a bit terrified while we were breaking every single car safety rule I have been indoctrinated with ever since I found out I was first pregnant. But, the less than 2-minute ride was over with before I even knew it had begun and the only other vehicle we passed along the way was a tractor.
The kids also had an opportunity to "drive" a real farm tractor.
And, we had fun seeing lots and LOTS of cows.
This is where they milk the cows. I was quite impressed (seeing as the only other place I've ever seen cows being milked is at the State Fair or Zoo).
Allie and Zach had fun playing on the hay bales in the barn too. This is where most of the calves and lots of kittens/cats stay. Although I didn't see any of the kittens, we are pretty sure Zach spotted one because he wouldn't stop saying "kitty" the entire time we were in the barn.
Allie insisted upon feeding the baby cows.
Zach wanted a turn feeding the sheep too. No, "sheep" is not a typo. He actually insisted on calling all the baby cows "sheep." In his defense, when a baby cow moos, it does really sound more like a "baaaaa!"
Here is the corn going into the silo. I was unaware of the fact that the corn is actually ground into a fine powder as it is put into the silo to be stored. I guess I just thought all the corn ears were piled up whole inside. See? Farm gal, I am not.

After our farm tour, Andrea made us a nice warm lunch and we had lots of fun playing with her puppy. As the kids took in some afternoon cartoons while also coloring and playing with some toys, Andrea and I had a graet time chatting and catching up on life in general.
What a fun day! Thanks, Andrea, for sharing your home (and farm) with us!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Photos

If you enjoyed the preview I posted yesterday of our fall family photo shoot and would like to see all the proofs, feel free to visit our personal gallery that Karen has set up for us.

To view the photos visit,

Karen Feder Photography

click on the link labeled "Proofs"

Enter the event ID: KF_Dziboa

That should bring you to our gallery page and you can click on "Enter Gallery" to view the rest of our pictures (There are lots!).

Let me know if you have any favorites!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photo Shoot

Last Thursday afternoon, following a seemingly non-existent nap time (whereupon Zach decided to boycott sleep until approximately 30 minutes prior to our necessary departure time), we all dressed ourselves in our finest denim and brightly colored coordinating sweaters and went out to meet our photographer at Coon Rapids Dam Park for a fall family photo shoot.
I was not at all surprised by Zach's lack of enthusiasm regarding the picture taking as well as his insistence upon doing the exact opposite of what was instructed. Also not shocking was Allie's model behavior...and by model behavior I am not referring to her politeness, respect, and impeccable listening skills, but rather her desire to be in front of the camera at all times, striking all the perfect princess poses.
Despite the cooler than anticipated temperatures and my lack of bribery in the form of food (thank goodness for Karen, an amazing photographer who I am positive is just as amazing of a mom, exemplified by her preparedness and quick thinking ability upon materializing a granola bar from her supply bag in response to Zach's almost-but-not-quite-full-fledged-I've-had-enough-of-this-whole-picture-taking temper tantrum), Karen was able to capture some great family moments.
First of all, I love how natural we all look in the photos. Since my kids aren't necessarily that poseable (well, with the exception of Allie) it is refreshing to see how Karen was able to capture their personalities doing what they do best (which was mostly running around like chickens with their heads cut off). We've spent a lot of time at Coon Rapids Dam Park over the past few years and so I also love the fact that we now have pictures taken in a place where we have so many good memories together as a family.
Above all, I especially like how Karen was able to capture the reality of our family on a day-to-day basis. Life in our family can have some pretty crazy moments and I find that in those times when I don't think I can play the role of referee for even one second longer, it is often best to stand back and have a good, long, hearty laugh....

Through my family God is continually reminding me that even though everything doesn't always go the way I intend it to (namely having everyone look at the camera and smile all at the same time), there is no less beauty or love in our togetherness....
I am daily thankful to God for giving us to one another, imperfections and all. And in those moments, when by some act of God through what can only be defined as a modern day miracle, things actually go according to plan,
I choose to give all glory back to Him...for it is only as His love is being perfected in us that others will see the beauty of the gospel and be drawn to Christ.
If you'd like to see more of our family's photo session, you can visit Karen's Blog entry on the Dzioba Family.
To see more of Karen's work, you can visit her photography blog or website.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Winter Weekend

After waking up Saturday morning to find this scene out our front window, rubbing my eyes sleepily and then taking another look because there surely could NOT be snow on our front lawn at the beginning of October before most of the leaves on our trees have even changed colors (let alone fallen),
I proclaimed that Saturday morning would be spent concluding our winter necessities shopping.
On our list to purchase: snow boots for both kids, hat for Zach, mittens for Zach, gloves for me. Apparently we weren't the only parents in a bit of a panic to ensure our kids wouldn't freeze this winter. Of course we all thought we had at least another month until having to worry about things like snow boots and thinsulate mittens, but the already dwindling outerwear section at Target seemed to prove otherwise.
Thankfully, we were able to locate a Lightening McQueen winter hat complete with mittens amidst the very few head wear options left at the store. Since yesterday, every time we go outside, Zach has been insistent upon wearing his "Lightening McQueen Helmet and Hands." The only time the mittens come off is if he has a sudden urge to suck his thumb.
The only place we could find boots in both kids' sizes was Payless...which was actually fine by me because they had their whole BOGO sale going on. And, since Ben is always a sucker for cute footwear (ummm...yeah...I'm hoping the sarcasm in the above phrase is obvious), we also left the shoe store with some pretty cool slippers for both kids. A trip to the local mall completed our shopping list where I was able to find the perfect gloves to match my coat. We also made the unfortunate discovery that the breakfast food indoor kids' playground at the mall has been taken out (which made for two extremely disappointed kids and much less window browsing on my part).
So, we are now officially prepared for winter. However, I'm still a little confused as to where fall fits into the whole seasonal picture right now...especially since Ben has spent all afternoon outside trying to put away our patio furniture, remaining potted plants (yes, that are now completely dead), sand table, bikes, and grill in preparation for the winter storm watch that goes into effect tonight, supposedly warning us of the impending accumulating snow. Now, dusting is one thing, but ACCUMULATING?!
There's nothing quite like going from temptures with a heat index warning right into wind chill temperatures within a matter of a couple of weeks. I guess instead of jumping in leaf piles tomorrow, we might just be making ourselves some fall snowmen....Do you think we could use a pumpkin for the head?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ben's Big Day

What in the world could ever result in Ben becoming this excited?
Winning the Lottery? Free pizza for a year? A brand new guitar? A night out on the town with his radiant wife?
While all of the above would surely illicit an excited response, the item behind Ben's enthusiasm depicted above is none other than. . . A ticket to the Vikings/Packers game! And although the Packers did not win, the euphoria of being in attendance at Monday night's game has not yet dissipated from Ben's face. In fact, it only becomes more pronounced with each retelling of Monday night's events (except for, of course, the sparkle in his eye noticeable flickers when he recounts the unfortunate events of the Packer's less than exemplary performance during the first quarter).
The retelling of the experience goes a little something like this. . . . . .
*All caps used to provide a more dramatic flair to the following dialogue.
**I actually received an e-mail of the following picture during the game so that I would be fully aware of how good the seats were.
***Ben has plenty of documentation of the pyrotechnics getting a little out of hand. Apparently the end zone started on fire and there were a couple guys trying to stomp out the flames before they spread.
****Yes, I had to ask Ben for the correct spelling of Brett Favre (Brett with 2 t's, not 1) and I also had ask who Adrian Peterson is, to which I was met with a disgusted look and then told that he is the Vikings Running Back and is the best in the league. I refrained from inquiring as to what a Running Back is (apparently Ben feels that this is a self-explanatory term).
*****I actually did watch the last quarter of the game in hopes of spotting Ben (no such luck). And, even though I didn't quite understand what was going on most of the time, I did rather enjoy that one Vikings guy who practically came out of nowhere over and over again and kept on taking down that other Packer's guy. I was informed later on by Ben that I was watching Jared Allen "sacking" (apparently that is the correct football lingo for "taking down") Aaron Rodgers and that I wasn't allowed to like that. I still secretly liked it.
******Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the pink towel to share with you...but it is sitting on our bedroom dresser. Due to breast cancer awareness month, everyone in Ben's section was given a free pink towel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Zach!

Well, as of Monday we officially have a two-year old in the house again. I'm not sure Zach truly grasps the significance of his birthday, but that didn't stop him from having tons of fun at his Lightening McQueen birthday party this past Sunday.
After church on Sunday, we kicked off the celebration by heading out to lunch for Zach's all time favorite meal: PIZZA! He definitely ate his fair share and was also more than happy to devour the cookie brought to us by the waiter at the end of our meal.
Upon arriving home, we quickly made our way into the living room to open presents. Although Zach was not quite sure what he was supposed to do with all the boxes wrapped in images of his favorite cartoon characters from the movie "Cars," Allie was more than happy to step in and show him how present opening is done: After opening his first present, it was difficult to get him to open the rest. All he wanted to do was play with the toys. It didn't seem to occur to him that there may be more toys hidden inside the other boxes as well. Again, cue Allie: He was also quite insistent upon saving the wrapping paper as he was enamored by the depictions of his favorite movie friends on each and every torn piece. After all the presents were opened, we worked as quickly as possible to unpack and assemble the "Cars" paraphernalia so that Zach (and Allie) could fully enjoy his new toys.
Second only to Zach's love for "Cars" is his love for anything sweet (hmmm....wonder where he gets that from?), so it was not difficult to coax him away from his shiny new gifts into the kitchen for some Lightening McQueen chocolate fudge cupcakes. It was, however, extremely difficult for him to merely look upon the cupcakes while waiting for us to sing a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday." He really wanted to get his hands on those cakes.
See what I mean?
Yay! He finally touched it! And, no, he did not quite understand the concept of blowing out the candles. He merely yelled, "HOT!" until one of us blew out the flame so that he could touch the cupcakes and lick his fingers.

He was also not that surprisingly interested in the cake part of the cupcake. After biting off all the M&M's and licking the frosting off the top, he made it known that he wanted more (more candy and frosting, that is, not the cake).
Anything that messy must have been extremely tasty.

Apparently Allie's cupcake was the most delectable.
And, it was a very good thing that I didn't have to clean them up. Two was enough for me!
As is tradition in our home, here is a shot of the birthday boy on his very first morning as a 2-year old:
We all had a special breakfast together complete with homemade zucchini muffins. Here he is trying to put the muffin in his mouth before extinguishing the birthday candle. Apparently he was extremely hungry (I guess all that birthday partying will do that to a little guy).
Zach, while still unsure of the purpose of the flaming candle sticking out of his muffin, grew tired of waiting for us to finish yet another chorus of "Happy Birthday," and so opted to eat his string cheese instead of attempting for yet a second time to eat the flaming muffin.

Here is the birthday boy sporting his birthday shirt (for the second day in a row...yes, I actually had to wash it after the birthday party so he could wear it again...and if he had it his way, I would be washing it every single night so that he could wear it every single day) that his Great Grandma from Texas sent him:

Happy Birthday Zach! We love you and are so glad that God has made you to be a unique part of our family! You always make us laugh and your easy-going, mellow nature is often a breath of fresh air for a mommy who can often be quite the opposite. We are so excited to see you learn and grow throughout the coming years and know that God has a very special plan and purpose for your life.