Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weight Loss Wisdom

Whenever I undertake some daunting task, such as losing a large amount of weight, studying for a final exam, raising children, training dogs... I try to come up with a mental gimmick to help myself through the hard times and to help myself remember what works.

I have lost over 27 pounds since mid-September, following the Weight Watchers plan. I eat candy bars and brownies and Olive Garden dinners and movie theater snacks. In short, I eat like a normal person. No meal replacement shakes. No bars. No pills.

I was thinking of what has been working for me, and I realized that I had a mental gimmick. Only, it's not a gimmick at all.

It's just that five things that are most important to weight loss for me all start with the letter F. So I call them the Five F's of Weight Loss.

(and, no, "eff it all" isn't one of them)

Here they are...

The Five Fs of Weight Loss

  1. Filling Breakfast. Protein and fiber in the morning keep me full until lunch and keep me from needing a snack. My favorite breakfast is a cup of Greek vanilla low fat yogurt mixed with a sliced banana and a half-cup of granola. If I eat that, I'm full until noon. And I eat breakfast at 6 a.m.
  2. Fruit. Fruit is FREE on Weight Watchers! All fresh fruits have a Points Plus value of ZERO! So, I reach for a fruit instead of a snack with a higher Points Plus value. It sounds so easy but it really makes all the difference. When I'm starving before cooking dinner, I eat some grapes -- without measuring them, just eat them until satisfied. The fruit fills me up and lets me get through cooking dinner without sampling my ingredients.
  3. Fiber. Always reach for whole grain. Also, I eat broccoli every single day. I love broccoli, so that's easy for me. Lots of veggies and whole wheat, whole oats, oh, and fruits are full of fiber, too! Fiber fills me up. I hate being very hungry, so I'm all about the fiber.
  4. Fluid. Keeping hydrated helps me feel better, look better, and lose weight. Fluid helps me flush my body. It makes my skin pretty. It helps keep me fuller. Anything works: milk, water, Crystal Light, diet really doesn't matter! Just drink to your health!
  5. Forgiveness. This is the most important one of all. I had to learn to forgive myself for slip-ups and mistakes. If I decided to go off the plan and eat too much, I had to be able to forgive myself, dust myself off, and get back on the right track. Otherwise, guilt would eat me up and I would quit. Forgive your mistakes. We all make them. Just keep trying. The only way to fail is to stop trying.
I hope my little bit of wisdom helps someone, some day. It's what's working for me. If your New Year's Resolution is to lose weight, keep these five tips in mind. And best of luck!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This Precious Girl

...started puppy training classes today.

I was so nervous.

I was afraid we'd have the bad kid in class.

You know the one.

The kid who makes too much noise.

The kid who doesn't pay attention to the teacher.

We took her to the dog park this afternoon to let off some steam.

...So she'd be good during class.

She barked.

And barked.

And barked.

And barked at another dog there.

She freaked out.

But I pushed aside my worries, because dogs can sense that, you know.

And I gathered my supplies for class:

Shot records

Treat pouch




Payment receipt

Husband (Oh, no way am I doing this alone!)

And away we went to Petsmart.

To fetch a good dog.

Off to Petsmart we went.

When we got there, Sacha started barking.


Loudly enough that the whole store turned to see what that bad dog was doing.

I thought for sure we would be evicted from the store.

But we weren't.

We met our trainer. He introduced us to a gentle leader, which went over Sacha's nose.

She resisted at first.

She hated it.

But it did help.


We got her to sort of calm down.

We got her to focus on us, rather than the other dogs and people in the room.

Most of the time.

She learned two commands:

Watch me


Calm down.

We have a long road ahead of us.

But we're going to tough it out.

Whatever it takes to make this girl a wonderful dog, we'll do.

Because I know she's got it in her.

I can see it in her eyes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas at My House

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Here are some glimpses into my life at Christmas. Unedited. Uncropped. Real. You'll note the messy hair on my children. And on me.

Army Man got a new desk & chair. Also, an electric guitar and a laptop computer. And a steering wheel for his PS3 game.

The Family got a red loveseat for our family room / eat-in kitchen combo room. It looks great in here and makes this the best room in the house to hang out.

A sneak peek of Christmas. We had just finished putting the presents under the tree. The kids were sound asleep. Thanks to modern technology, Facebook saw my children's Christmas before they did.

Our kids got less this year than in any year in our family's past. However, they were major gifts. The Wii was one such gift. Two weeks after we moved to Fort Benning, our home was burglarized and our Wii, all the games, controllers, and accessories, all our cash, our cell phones, and more were all stolen from us. Also stolen from us: the feeling of security. This Christmas, we replaced the Wii and got several cool games for it.

This was Sacha's first Christmas with us. Since she just turned a year old on December 16th, it's technically her 2nd Christmas, but her first one with presents. She caught on quick and liked opening her presents.

She gave cuddles as an expression of thanks.

An old pro at present opening!

Diego needs a little more coaxing, despite having been in the family for several years now. But he enjoys Christmas, too.

I never like pictures of me. This one is terrible. But like I said: real. Squinty eyes, messy hair, and all. For Christmas, I got this crock pot along with an ipod and ipad! Spoiled!

The girls each got a netbook computer. In purple.

Bayberry took her new bike out for a spin. Tuna was too sick to do so.


This made my whole day. It was snowing! Big, fat, sticky flakes! They did stick, too...for a few minutes.

Tuna is sick with cough and fever. That's Flat Stanley, if you didn't notice. We have a homework assignment involving him over school break.  I'll talk about him more later.

It was a great Christmas. Quiet. Unhurried. No schedules. No agendas. No worries. No commitments. Just the four of us and our two pooches, playing video games, relaxing, eating, and enjoying each other's company. I hope every Christmas can be as successful as this one was.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mothers Beware! This Could Happen to YOU!

One day, you're going about your business, wiping dirty faces, applying Band-Aids to boo-boos, scolding naughty children for tantruming in stores, and helping with spelling homework. When, seemingly out of the blue, your daughter marches down the stairs and looks like this:

You won't see it coming. But there she'll be. Hips and waist and big eyes and all.

I'm not sure when it happened, but my little Bayberry turned into a beautiful young lady. Wasn't it just last week she was tantruming at the playground?

Oh, wait -- she's a tween. Yes, yes it was just last week that she was tantruming.

I digress...

Parents, this will happen to you. You will wake up and your little one will be big. Your little bundle of joy will be texting on her phone and listening to Taylor Swift and will know more about pop culture than you.

Yes. It will happen.

It's already happening to me.

Bayberry had her winter semi-formal school dance last week. Wasn't she beautiful? She had a great time. Even got to -- gulp! -- dance with her crush, who then asked her "out" (to be his "girlfriend" I surmise).

Heaven help me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Childlike Excitement

Christmas is coming. Are you ready? I've always loved Christmas morning. I was the kid who woke up the household before the sun came up every year.

Now, I'm the Mom who wakes up the kids Christmas morning.

I love the looks on the kids' faces when they come downstairs to the living room and see what's under the tree.

It's much like this look on Tuna's face:

Pure glee.

That picture was taken at her school on Friday. I spent the day working with her class (that's her teacher...the blurry blonde behind her...wonderful sweet woman). Here's how our day went:

When I arrived at the school, I helped make hot chocolate for the students. They were watching The Polar Express. They drank their hot chocolate and began construction on some milk carton gingerbread houses. It was so much fun to sit at Tuna's desk with her and her desk mate and help them construct their houses!

Next, it was time for a special surprise! All the students in the entire school (roughly 340, I think) lined up on the sidewalk outside for a special visitor.

The excitement was contagious. Little Tuna doesn't believe in Santa Claus, never really did, because the idea upset her, so we went with the truth for her.

Anyway, even Little Tuna was giddy with excitement.

I'm so glad I was there to catch her reactions:

Looking and waiting... What's going to happen? None of the kids knew! this joyful smile and giggle

...and finally a shy Tuna accepts a candy cane from The Man in Red. That's Army Man right behind her--- he got off work in time to come play with us at school, which was lovely. She certainly loves it when we can spend school days with her, and it's encouraged at her school.

I'm so thankful, on days like these, that I get to stay home and be Mom. I appreciate every moment. I love making memories like these. No Christmas present's memory will outlast having Mom (and Dad) come to her second grade Christmas party all day long. It's stuff like that which gives me those wonderful Christmas morning butterflies in my tummy: spending time making my kids' holidays brighter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simple Pleasures

The dishwasher is humming away. The dogs are resting at my side. My oldest daughter is resting on the couch (tonsillitis!). And what I was thinking about writing here on my blog is a list of random gripes. I do have several right now. But then I got to thinking.

Maybe I'll write a list of gripes, but for each one, I'll also write a simple pleasure, in an effort to -- I don't know...cancel out the gripes.

Then I thought some more.

(dangerous, that!)

Maybe I'll just talk about simple pleasures.

At Christmastime, do you find that people are generally more stressed out? I know that's the case everywhere *I* go! People are angry! People are pushy! And people are under tremendous stress.

Sometimes, I wonder why we do that to ourselves at a time of year (anytime, really, but a time of year that) we're supposed to be kind and gentle and loving and giving and selfless.

To stay in that happy place, I bring you my list of simple pleasures.


Sneaking up behind Tuna (my youngest daughter) in her lunchroom at school and kissing her sweet head.


Knowing that my girls are going to love their Christmas presents.


Knowing that we didn't go into debt to make Christmas special.


Going shopping in my closet -- because I lost a pants size during the holiday season!


The tiny flurries that floated through the air for about five minutes here in Georgia last night.


The woman in the pharmacy waiting room who sat beside me smelled like fireplace. (would it have been bad manners to lean in and sniff her clothes? probably)


Feeling giddy about my gift recipients opening their presents. Knowing I chose wisely.


Belting out such classics as Feliz Navidad, Christmas Wrapping, and All I Want for Christmas while driving down the road.


Family game nights with family and friends.


The way hot chocolate warms your throat and tummy instantly. Plus, it's delicious.

Christmastime can be stressful. Please stay sane. There's no need to be in a need to have the latest and greatest everything. Johnnie's every whim need not be met on this one day a year.

Be present. Be still. Be.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

1. I wish I had a robot that would pick up messes with the push of a button. I mean, I already have a Roomba and love it. I want a Scooba. I will likely buy myself one in 2011 (twenny-eleven, not two thousand eleven) The next logical step is a Pick Uppa. Then a Dusta. Then a Window Scrubba. I think I'll write to the iRobot company and make those suggestions.

2. You see how I did that? See how I took the "a" from Roomba and Scooba and used it on my new inventions. I'm so witty. I slay sleigh me. Yes, sleigh. Because it's almost Christmas. And I'm Mrs. Claus. ...that's what I'm thinking.

3. Please bring snow. I mean, if we have to endure temperatures in the teens, why not throw in a little of the pretty white stuff for me to enjoy? I miss Colorado very much this time of year. I could use a white Christmas.

4. Tuna's teacher is so amazing. She has been through a lot. She carried to term a baby with anecephely, gave birth to him, and had to say goodbye to him. The whole time, she was worried about, and thought about, her second grade class. She comes to school every morning and takes such great care of our students. She nurtures them and loves them and has a smile on her face the whole time. I know she's still hurting. I hope she knows how much she's loved and that we hurt right along with her. She's the most amazing teacher I've ever known.

5. One of my fondest hopes is that my children grow up with compassion in their hearts.

6. I just love my Weight Watchers meeting people. Both my receptionists and my leader are incredible ladies. And the people I've met there are wonderful and I just wanted to say thank you to each of them for the roles they play in my life.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to vegging out in front of the television, finishing my Christmas wreath (I'll share pictures when it's done), tomorrow my plans include my Weight Watchers meeting and cleaning house (boring, huh?) and Sunday, I want to get ready for the week ahead and finish one last homemade Christmas present!


10. YKDADAPAVCACADAB:  You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen...

11. ISMKSCUTMLN: I saw Mommy kisssing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night...

12. CSBSDIHS: City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style...

13. HTHASGTTNK: Hark! the herald angels sing. Glory to the newborn King!

14. GGROBAR: Grandma got run over by a reindeer...

15. OHNTSASB: Oh Holy Night, the stars are (brightly shining, isn't it? not shining brightly?)

16. AIWFCIMTFT: All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...

17. DTTSIAOHOS: Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh...

18. WTKOOA: We three kings of Orient are...

Phew! That was taxing! Can you tell I've been listening to the All Christmas Station on the radio since the day after Halloween?

Wanna play along? Go here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

Are you ready for it? I realize I'm early, but that's just me. I've always been early for things. I arrive twenty minutes early to all medical appointments. I get my children to school at least ten minutes before the bell rings. I step into the movie theater fifteen minutes before showtime. I'm the early bird. Hold the worm.

I'm going through some things right now that brought about a harsh realization.

I'm a people pleaser.

That's a nice way of saying that I have, in the past, allowed myself to be used as a doormat.

My resolution for 2011 (twenny-eleven, I call it, not two thousand eleven) is to no longer be a people pleaser.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means that I will make plans as I see fit. I will do things that I want to do. I will accommodate only what I feel inclined to accommodate. I'll cook what I want to cook, and I won't feel guilty when I order Chinese instead. I'll blog when I want to blog, and write what I want to write.

And I won't let anyone -- ANYONE-- tell me what to do, how to do it, or why I'm doing it wrong.

And if they don't like that? I'll be happy to show them the door.

What's your resolution? Are you starting early, like me?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words...

I love the way this picture captures the love between my husband and daughter. Holding hands, him looking down at her. Her looking up to her dad, her hero. Both looking beautiful in their formal attire. They were leaving on a date. Tonight was the Father-Daughter Winter Wonderland Ball.

I took her to get her hair done today, at a lovely children's salon called Pigtails & Crew Cuts. The stylist curled her hair and pinned part of it up. She chose this dress out of many she tried on. It was fun to get her all dolled up.

The sweet child told me, as she was leaving with Daddy, that she hopes the Army hosts a Mother Daughter ball, because she would love to go dancing with Momma.

Isn't she precious? I certainly believe so.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Yesterday, I volunteered at my youngest daughter's school (elementary school). It was "preview" day for our annual Santa shop, a shopping experience where the kids get to choose and purchase gifts for their family members without their parents around. I thought I'd share with you a couple of the conversations I had with some of the students that came.

Boy #1 (Third grade)

Boy: Excuse me.

Me: What can I do for you?

Boy: Do men where rings?

Me: (tries not to laugh) Well, some men like to wear rings. Other men don't. What sort of ring did you have in mind?

Boy: Well, one like this. (points to a delicate birthstone ring with a tiny band)

Me: (tried harder not to laugh) Do you think your Dad would enjoy getting this ring for Christmas?

Boy: (deadpan) My Dad? Who says I'm talking about my Dad? I'm talking about ME.

Me: Oh. (tries really really hard not to fall out laughing at the boy who wants to buy himself a ring and refers to himself as a man in third grade). Well (best grownup voice), I think maybe you should focus on buying for your family before you buy for yourself. Don't you agree?

Boy: (nods)


Boy #2 (pre-K or Kindergarten)

Boy: Hey.

Me: How about "excuse me" instead of "hey"?

Boy: Hey, excuse me.

Me: Yes?

Boy: (deadpan) I've been married before.

Me: (giggle escapes) You have? Who is your wife?

Boy: (totally put off by this notion) Wife? I don't have no wife!

Me: Usually, when a man (hey it worked for the third grader) gets married, he has a wife.

Boy: I don't have a wife! I have a GIRLFRIEND. We got married before.

Me: Oh. Okay.


Other funnies:

Girl: My mom can't give me any money because she can't make her car payment. (Not a funny situation. Just funny because kids should not be told these things. They repeat them.)

Boy: My mother is CHEAP. She REALLY likes things that are fifty cents or a dollar.

Boy: I'll tell her I went to Jarred.

Girl: Are you _____'s mom?
Me: Yes, I am.
Girl: (whispers loudly) I TOLD you she was ___'s mom!
Other girl: Nuh uh!
Girl: Uh huh. I just did!
Other girl: Excuse me. Are you ____'s mom?
Me: (wants to say NO and really mess them up) Yes.
Other girl: (hugs me) HI ___'s Mom!

I tied four shoes.
Said "bless you" three times.
Wanted to run away screaming from the girl with messy hair who kept scratching her head. I think she might have bugs.
Held my breath a dozen times when kids coughed at me.
 Got annoyed at a teacher who kept taking things out of the packages after we told her class there was to be NO TOUCHING today (way to set an example, Teach).
Thwarted more than one theft attempt.
Figured out how to use the cash register.
And spent hours with a wonderful woman named Becky whom I wish I'd met a year ago. I think she could be a good friend.

I'm off again, to go work Santa shop. Today, the kids get to bring their money and make purchases. It promises to be an interesting day.