Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rat 12-29-11

I am reporting for (probably) the last Rat of the year.

I ran a 5K, The Jingle Jog, on December 3rd.  In 34:16 (officially, even though my watch read 34:00).  I was 264/454 entrants, and 25/51 of my age bracket.  I got a t-shirt.  :)  I walked for 30 seconds up the very top of the last hill.  I was a little disappointed in that, but I know it's because I went out a little fast.  There were so many kids and slow people, I wanted to get past them and not run them over...and I think I held on to it a little too long...  BUT I did shave more than 30-60 seconds off my pace in every mile.  Not bad for a first time.  I am pleased overall with my performance.

I have lost a full 26 lbs, even with a little holiday weight flux.  I ate Thanksgiving and Christmas in my goal jeans and they are loose now too.  I am about 3 pounds from my tertiary weight-loss goal.  I doubt I'll see than in the next 3 days...but as I am changing my life and not my pants size, I anticipate accomplishing that before the end of deer season, or mid-January if you do not divvy up your life around such things.  :) has record of my choices for 203 days.  Keeping honest with yourself is particularly effective.  No little lies adding up to pounds.

I am now running consistently 3-5.5 miles each time I go out, which is about 3 times a week.  I hope to increase that this year.  Especially as I signed back up to lead the Running Without Weariness Bible Study class at our church again.  I am toying with running a half-marathon this year...we shall see, I guess... I had hoped to do a sprint triathlon, but found that the one I was looking at, banned iPods or other music devices.  I am not sure if I can run without music.  Seriously.

I am holding well with cooking.  As Charlotte has added preservatives to the allergy list, that has caused even more scratch cooking...  It has been such a consistent change that I felt heavy and not myself after even well-earned indulgences.  There has also been significantly less illness in our family since the eating overhaul.  I am sure this is thanks in part to a warmer season, but I am sure, also, that it is supported and strengthened by our increase in veggies and decrease in sugar.

I am adding other workouts back in about once or twice a week, and am pleased to find that my endurance has increased.  We are considering adding the YMCA back to the activity docket for this new year...for Elise primarily, but it will benefit everyone. 

Amelia has been funny, we've been very careful not to harp on weight-loss for skinny-ness sake, we've been very clear that it is for health and life choices.  We mentioned at one point that we work out so we can have the snacks that we want.  Now she has taken this an extrapolated on it:

A:  May I have a snack?
Me:  No, we'll eat in a bit
A:  May I have a snack if I am healthy and workout?  I'll run in the yard.  Then may I have a snack?
Me:  A tiny one, go have fun.

I am feeling pretty successful this year.  For myself and my family.  I hope you look over your year with as much pleasure.  Really.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Musical Monday: Away in a Manger

This is the coolest post on Charlotte and music.  Charlotte is a whopping 2 and 1/2.  She totally gets Christmas.  On Thursday, our elves brought a picture book about Jesus' birth.  And on Friday we were driving and listening to the All-Christmas-Music-All-the-Time radio station.  And she pipes up from the back seat, "Hey, it's Baby Jesus!!"

We were driving looking at Christmas lights last night and again from the back seat, I hear, "It's beautiful!  Like Angels!  For Baby Jesus!!  And his mama and daddy and his cow and sheep and donkey..."

I cannot tell you how much this touches me...and makes my heart full to bursting....

Happy Advent Season!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bonus Music: Swan Lake

On the car ride home from Chattanooga after Thanksgiving, we listened to a LOT of music.  A LOT.  Because the rain and wrecks made it a 3 hour jaunt, instead of the usual just under 2.  During which, we listened to Swan Lake.  And Charlotte piped up from the back seat!  "Ooooh!  Barbie!"  Now, I am amused that she recognized it from a Barbie movie, but I was impressed that she recognized it from the music and bopped her head to it, with pleasure.

I've spoken about my enjoyment of the the Barbie movies.  I find it funny that while the Barbie Doll lines get sluttier, the movies and their corresponding Barbies get more wholesome and classic.  I've called Mattel and told them of my disappointment in their "Street Walker" Barbies and my pleasure in their celebrating the classics in the movies...hopefully other mothers are registering this, too.

Anyway, I love that she responds to the beauty of the Good Music regardless of it's transport.  :)

LATE Musical Monday: Fantasia Dance of the Hours

I watched this with the girls for my birthday last week.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the intricacies of this!  And it was especially fun to watch the girls watch it, too!  :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musical Monday: Tim McGraw

This was the first song that Charlotte sang that Ethan actually believed me that she was really singing.  I actually have her singing it in the dark at a Lacrosse practice on a video on my phone...I played it for him, and his jaw dropped.  It was funny!  Never disbelieve a mama.  :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Running Away

So, unexpectedly, I am running.  Again.  It appears to be a middle aged woman's Oh-my-I-really-ought-to-get-my-life-back-on-track kind of plan.  And I am one of them, now.  But that's okay.  It did,indeed, help me get my life back on track.  :)

That said, I have a lot of very fond memories of running.  And not because I really liked to run. 

My dad has run since I have memory of him.  He ran marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, trail runs, street runs.  You name it.  It was a somehow core part of my "whole picture" of him. 

Imagine my surprise when I suggested that he come run with me for my "homework" run when my folks were here a few weeks ago, and he said "no".  And not just no, I hurt myself and I really shouldn't, but no, my knees have gotten excruciating and I cannot run ANYMORE.

I acted fine, of course...I ran without him after he left.  But the more I thought about this aberration to my universe the more it hurt me.  And not because I didn't get a running buddy.  It hurt because it was a passion, a talent, a joy of his.  It was kind of like when I heard that Julie Andrews could no longer sing because of a throat infection and surgery.  A desecration, almost.

I started running with my dad when I was little.  He jogged and I ran up to the horse farm across the street.  This started when I was somewhere between ages 5-8.  Seriously.  I was not probably the world's best running companion, but I did love the big-ness and camaraderie of it.  I ran with him for years.  I even ran about a mile race on his hospital team for the Deaconess Dashers for a fundraiser run.  I felt like such a part of something.  It was so cool!

As I got older, I kept running.  Not because I loved it, but because I enjoyed how it made me feel after.  Wiped...but triumphant.  Tired...but successful.  I ran track in High School.  Again, not because it was fun, but because I was reasonably good and I loved being a part of a team.  I enjoyed the common goal, the sisters-in-arms kind of relationship with my teammates.

I appreciate my father setting the family goal of health and involvement with the out-of-doors.  I tend to dismay when I am not exercising.  Not depression, but not a great emotional place.  I think that is the same for my father.  I know that he knows that of me, so I suspect it's genes...

All this to say.  I am randomly thankful for my father's passion and sharing of that passion of running.  I am thankful for his sharing his secrets to a certain peace of mind.  Running to exhaustion and to prayer.  He is a great man.  And I am blessed to have run along side of him for 36 years. 

Ethan despises stickers on cars.  I mean really hates them.  I asked him this morning if I managed to get myself in gear and pull off a half marathon, could I put a "13.1" sticker on my Suburban.  He said, "Sure.  I guess."  I find myself thinking that reason alone is almost worth the insanity.  :)

But just know that if I do pull it off.  It's for the running trips to the horse stables, Daddy.  Thank you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gabriel and Our Tea Addiction

"My Randomly Thankful moment: I love that my13 year old, 5'11", brown-eyed, Lacrosse supastar is not too big to tuck his giant self into my side on the couch and drink Earl Grey and chat about everything."

This was my Facebook post this morning...and it got me did it happen??  And as it is one of the tiny things I am proud of, I thought I'd tell the story...

I always wanted a boy.  Multiple boys, if truth be told.  I love the up-front-ness of boys, the brash honesty.  But I love tea.  I love the tradition of it.  I love that you cannot drink it fast.  I love the way it forces talking and reflection.  When I had my boy, I basked in it.  Treasured it. 

When he was about 3ish, we watched Winnie the Pooh.  And Gabriel asked about "Tea".  He wanted to have tea...I am pretty sure this was because he wanted snacks, but I was game.  I poured out cold Southern Sweet Tea and gave him cookies.  He thought this was fantastic.  So it became a tradition that summer. 

When school started back that winter, I changed over to my beloved hot teas.  I kept the tradition alive, he'd get crackers or peanut butter toast and iced tea.  One day, it was particularly chilly and I asked him if he'd like "High Tea" with me.  I made some tiny meat sandwiches and made some heavily sweetened Earl Grey.  It was a total hit.  We had High Tea most of that winter.

The Summer Tea Time fell by the wayside that summer because we were in and out of my parents and in-laws houses due to Ethan's internships.  We also missed out on some tea times when I started back to teaching that fall because I was so very pregnant with Elise.  It fell back to about once a week, tops.

When I had Elise, I felt so discombobulated and uncertain about everything, I am sure he felt it.  Even though he was only 4.  We took up our High Tea tradition again, a few times a week when Elise was sleeping.  It was time for just us.

It fell by the way again, as he got "too old" at 7 or 8 and we had Amelia.  We only broke it out when he was sick and was having trouble with his throat.

Interestingly, it is something that has come back full force over the last year.  It has become a morning treat, with breakfast.  But then, after the meal is over, we finish our tea together on the couch and talk...sometimes about important things.  Sometimes over his future plans.  Sometimes over what kind of Lacrosse socks he'd like.  But we don't rush.  Because you don't rush tea. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cute Baby Deer

Last night I posted up a comment Charlotte made about Ethan's deer:  "Ooh, MY cute baby deer. My EAT him!!!"....

My mother thought it was a little cold...

Today's Randomly Thankful moment is a further explanation: I am thankful that my kids have a respectful, yet practical view on meat and the animals they come from. None of my girls had seen a dead animal whole before last night. And I considered shielding them from it last night. But on the way home from the farm where Ethan hunts, he realized it was eligible to enter it into GON (Georgia Outdoor News) because it was taken with a black powder he took it from the truck and put it in our back yard to take a picture for his submission. All the girls wanted to see the deer so they all trooped out to see him.

They all three ooh-ed and ahh-ed over "how pretty" he was...they all three asked to "pet" him (we said "no" because of ticks)...and they all three expected that we would trundle him into the basement fridge and eat him for supper.

None of the three of them got gag-y or squeamish. None of the three were callous to it's loss of life. None of the three were unaware of it's beauty or it's imminent edibility.

I fully expected that at least one would get upset later. Or have nightmares. None did.

I am genuinely proud of their respect. I am proud that they saw his beauty. I am equally proud that they appreciate his practical sacrifice in feeding us.  It was an unexpectedly neat moment.

Christmas is Coming!!

I am still excited at this point.  I am hoping that I can hang on to it for a while to come...  I am not saying this as a Debbie Downer or anything...but Christmas trappings stress me out.  I love Christmas, with or without gifts...I adore the carols and I cry over the Story and traditionally read stories!!   But all the shopping (I HATE shopping), the get-togethers, the cooking, the dressing of all my kids, the keeping clean of all my kids, the keeping clean of the know, all gives me an ulcer.

To combat it this year I plan to try to add another thing to my list...but as I am excited about it, I think it will be a blessing.  I plan to read all my family's traditionally read books...last year it was too much, but I think it'll work this year...  I plan to do a Jesse Tree similar to what I did last year.  I read about it on one of my favorite blogs HERE.  Our plush Elf-on-a-Shelf brought the advent ornaments and then we read the Bible verses that went with them when we went to bed, Amelia chose a scary 1950's pink tree to hang them from....Charlotte will be getting an elf this year, too.  I am trying to find a CHEAP plastic nativity with a TON of pieces that I can dole out as her Elf gifts.

If you know where I can find or order a Nativity that will fit the bill, PLEASE let me know!!

Here is my current beloved reading list:

The Christmas Movies will come later...

What are your favorite traditions?

Musical Monday: Mama Cass

I have to giggle in pride over this one.  I stumbled upon my The Mamas and The Papas Greatest Hits CD set a few weeks ago...and turned them waaaay up...I was proud to notice Charlotte grooving with a Stevie-Wonder-Happy-Head-Dance on this one...also one of my favorites!!  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rat 11-3-11

Yes.  I know it's been forever since I ratted myself out.  I forgot for a while, then I was too tired to do it.

Current status:
I have logged in to for 147 days.  I only missed one day when my phone crashed.  I log all my food and exercise.

I am on Week 9 of Couch to 5K.  I am running non-stop 30 minutes when it's warm.  When it is cold, I am running 10 minutes, cough and retch for 2, run 10, and so on for 35 minutes...  I have cold triggered asthma.  It's not cooperating as Georgia decided to actually have a Fall.

I am planning to go back to skating and Chalene Johnson (TurboFire or Chalean Extreme Hybrid) after I wrap up the C25K.  I really ought to register and run a 5K, but I think I will redo the program and run one when it gets warm in the spring.  Hacking one's lung up at the finish line takes out a lot the personal pride.

I did not manage to do the in-line marathon.  I didn't get to skate more when the kids went back to school, I actually lost time.  It took Gabriel and myself a while to find the days' rhythm in our school day....but I am still consistently able to skate 10-20 miles.  I will catch that another time, I guess.  But I still love to skate, and my legs like it too!

Grand total of weight lost? 24 lbs. Seriously. I am stoked! 

I am in my goal jeans, but they aren't comfortable to sit in yet, so I am still fighting for those.  I am heavier than when I was skinny before Amelia's pregnancy, but I look better and feel better than I have since before even Gabriel.  I feel like I got "me" back in the exercising!  I'm emotionally in a much better place because of it.

I had to go out and buy church slacks because I've lost so much weight since this spring.  It was actually a pleasure to try stuff on...that's been a LONG time.

I have not made a pre-packaged meal, other than my freebie Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice, since June.  Well, and an occasional pizza, and even that, I try to make from scratch now.  (We did buy corn dogs for Elise's birthday, and I had one when I was sewing Halloween costumes, 3 days later.)  I cannot tell you how proud I am that we've gotten away from that. 

This year has been a great year for me and my family.  Good choices beget good choices.  It's a nice discovery.

Amelia-isms and Food

Okay.  So I don't know if this counts as an Amelia-ism, but it is very her and very I'm going to catalogue it as such...

We were OUT, out of food this weekend.  I mean like it was all gone.  We managed through the weekend, but there was going to need to be a grocery run first thing on Tuesday.  (Monday was an teacher's inservice, but the kids were out.)  But since we had no food, there was no food to pack a lunch.  So I wrote a check and told the girls that they were going to be buying lunch at school.  Elise spit, but accepted the inevitable.  Amelia totally flipped out.  She commenced to yell and boohoo about me not loving her, and how she hates nasty lunch food, and how I had to have something I could pack....I mean complete breakdown.

Eventually, I got her calmed down enough to get to school...I figured a trip through the cafeteria would convince her that it wasn't all bad...I mean, Amelia is my junk food kid, what is there not to like about cafeteria food? 

The SECOND she got back into the car on Tuesday afternoon, the first words out of her mouth were, "I am never going to have to buy my lunch again, right?  That was the last time, right??"

Umm.  Not going to commit to that, but I am loved again, and flattered that they like me packing lunches.  I certainly have more control over what they are eating and what I want them avoiding.

Ever since the whole fiasco with Charlotte...which, by the way, is indeed the color triad, Red #40, Blue #1, and Yellow #5...additionally, we've seen reactions over Red #33 and Red #5.  So we don't buy colors at all or things that don't disclose (juice concentrates don't have to!).  We've also discovered it affects her attitude drastically. 

Anyway, as I was saying, ever since everything broke with Charlotte we have been reading everything.  All labels.  Nothing like that to really make you look at was actually IN food.  Really disturbing.  We have over-hauled our eating habits even more. 

I have to say, I am really proud of the changes made and really proud that my kids like it.  And that they like it enough to proclaim:  "Yesterday was the last day I will have to buy lunch!"

Very, VERY late Muscial "Monday": Thompson Square

Another song that totally took me by surprise when Charlotte belted this out in carline Tuesday!  :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Christina- Proverbs 31 Woman- Reflections for Her Daughters

A friend, whose blog, Raising Little Women, has been in my sidebar since this blog's inception, lept abruptly into Jesus' arms last Wednesday night.

These were the poignant words I read from her husband on Thursday morning:

"To all who haven't heard, Christina Jones Hooker, my beautiful wife and perfect mother of my precious girls, very unexpectedly went to be with Jesus last night, after a hard 24 hour struggle.

These are hard words to say. First, thank you so much for those who prayed so fervently for her life. The preciousness of her life was greatly reflected in your outpouring of concern and grief.

We don't know why, but Christina suffered a severe heart attack Tuesday evening. There was no warning. One moment she was a happy, active young mother, and the next she was undergoing CPR for 15 minutes on the ER at Erlanger hospital. The doctors DID revive her, and fought to save her 24 heroic hours.

She lost that battle. She is so very much needed and missed, and though we do not blame her or God, an awesome person leaves an awesome gap in the lives of those they are closest to. Christina's friends and loved ones, please grieve with me and her children. We are facing something we can only heal with the love of God almighty and you, those who loved her. We are making arrangements at Wilson's funeral home in LaFayette, GA, and I will post om her account as more information becomes available.

Listen to me. Hold close what you have. Your wives, husbands, and children. Every fantasy I had that what is precious to me is too good to be taken was destroyed last night. There are NO guarantees. Every moment we have here is a gift. Live that while you can.

She was just about my age.  Only 35.

She was a Bible Study friend in High School.  At first, I didn't know her from Adam, but every one else did.  Recently, I realized she went to Elementary School with most of them.  I remember envying her and being generally impressed with her, she had an amazing sense of self.  She knew who she was, what she wanted, and had a confidence that was amazing for a sophomore in High School.  She had the perfect blend of sarcasm and earnestness.  She had really mature insights in the Bible Study...  I was struck by her then. 

I was struck by her again, when she friended me on Facebook.  I was struck by the fact that somehow, she had only grown into herself when I was reintroduced to her, through writing.  I admit, that we were not "dear friends"...we were not close, in the practical sense of the word.  But we had so much in common, as far as our hearts go.  We read and enjoyed watching the same things.  We enjoyed our children and were amused by their personalities and God's sense of humor through them.  We laughed at each other's children, commenting how our 2 youngest had to be soul sisters...they were so very much alike.  I found myself hoping that over the holidays this winter I could find the time to let our Littles meet and bond.  And let us re-meet and bond in person.

I had prayed for her so very much during her two pregnancies and then miscarriages, and then as I sought God's healing hand on my soul's hands and knees following her heart attack all day Wednesday, I felt like I knew her and loved her.  I like to think we did know each other...internet pen-pals, I guess you could call us.

I laughed over her goats' antics and was amazed at her Proverbs 31-ness in cheese-making and sewing, and light-hearted homemaking.

She adored her daughters.  She loved them with an all out passion.  She loved her husband, making comments on Facebook about missing him and her joy in his being home.

I am thankful for having known Christina, such as I did.  She was a passionate, joyful, and quirky woman.  I see her impact on her girls.  I pray that her littlest remember her with joy and precious memories.  I pray that her oldest are comforted that she loved her LORD with as much passion as she lived her life....and that they never forget how she loved them with a fervor that was beautiful and honest.

I know that my view of her is a true reflection of her in person the way Facebook blew up with prayers for her...

I wish I had known her better...But my prayers for her beloved daughters will continue as I wrestle with God...

When I was begging God for a miraculous healing, I posted this video to her Facebook page and friended her daughter, Locksley...I knew that she loved Fiddler on the Roof, and I felt that the music spoke to the intensity that we were all praying for her with...

I look forward to learning how to pray specifically how to pray for her family.  I don't know that I would have dared to friend Locksley after she had lost her mother...but I look forward to knowing her more...she has an amazing BLOG and I have enjoyed watching her mind skip about, too.

Please pray with me for Christina's family.  Her huband, Christian, and her daughters: Locksley, Ruby, Isabel, Esther, and Naomi.  Between her husband's job's travel requirements and the fact that she homeschooled, that her very person leaves a hole is only amplified by the way their very lives' structure will be changed....I cannot even fathom...

I am comforted that Christina has joined the God that she loved intensely and that she gets to hold the babies that she lost...but I am still struggling with the hole that she has left with her precious family.

I pray that God wraps this family in his arms...tightly and with miraculous strength...I know he can do that, but I know that this family needs it so very profoundly...I hope that you will join me in entreating for God's love to swaddle this family...and that if you feel led, to donate time or money to help them as well...some of their close friends and church set up THIS FUND for them.

Musical Monday: Adele

Because it's Monday, I feel the need to share more of Charlotte's musical soul.  This is actually the first song that I realized she was actually singing along with.  About a week later, I realized that she was singing every single word.  This was, Folks, at the time she was NOT talking.  Like referral to Babies Can't Wait, Early Intervention, Not Talking.

Love this girl's taste.  Not that I haven't had a hand at helping it be so.  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catching up

I've been over at Muchier Muchness (Yes, there's been a name change, please see its left column for explanations) lately...a lot.  I have TONS of stuff jangling around in my brain, and it will undoubtedly escape one of these days soon...but with Amelia and Elise in school and Gabriel being homeschooled...and my Couch to 5K Bible study...I've been REALLY low on a matter of fact, my house is pretty ratty right now, be completely honest...

I promise to get back into the swing after the October craziness...and after I dust...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Musical Monday: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Because Charlotte is starting to crack me up over her musical taste, I will be initiating the "Musical Monday" tradition so you can be charmed by her musical soul.  She is still a little stingy about talking (although she really is taking off!!)  but she is grooving and singing with gusto and is making her musical requests known!!

Her current favorite is Paris, by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals:

She will sing along with it, complete with the "uh's" and voice growls.  It absolutely tickles me.  She's "gets" the soul of music, that one!!!  I will share her favorites as we go... as tempted as I am to just list her chronic requests...  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Tiffany's Science Theater has struck again. This time it's Charlotte.

I took her to the allergist yesterday. I had been hoping to delay as the tests are supposedly not as effective until age 3. But after a mind-blowing incident at the beach (candy coated popcorn in violent colors) that caused her to hive out in her mouth, on her lips, and rash all around her mouth in a rip-roaring 15 minutes, we started considering that we would need to go earlier than that.

When we went yesterday, they tested for milk allergies. They came back negative, but she undoubtedly has lactose intolerance, so her GI issues and reflux and diaper rash is probably all an outgrowth of that, they are just not a true allergy.

We also suspected colors. The Beach Popcorn Incident was followed by a similarly scary Sunkist Gummies Incident at church snack and a Little Debbie Creme Pie Incident. I cannot tell you why I thought red, but I really did.

I was SO hoping that they could scratch test colors. Nope. SO I was assigned a food diary.

This morning, as an outgrowth of a conversation with my mother (who insisted that there had to be some kind of spread sheet for allergens) I decided to Google the ingredients of the things she had the worst reactions to.

The only 3 over lapping items were Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5. The three very most common colors ever. Awesome.

After posting this discovery on Facebook, a friend commented that she thought those were the colors that come in the baking food coloring packet. Yup, she was right. So I decided to do a homemade scratch test. Nothing. I don't know if they weren't potent enough, or I didn't know what I was doing, or what...

So, I figured if she didn't react to the skin test, and Red 40 was supposed to be completely innocuous, then it would be a safe trial run. So for lunch Charlotte was poisoned, I mean fed her red Powerade (as it has VERY few ingredients!) and a peanut butter sandwich. Within 15 minutes, her mouth had hived out, along with her lips, and a nice goatee of a red raised rash had appeared, too. Bingo, Baby.

As the reaction progressed VERY quickly, I decided to give her Benedryll. Which, by the way, is pink. Huh. I decided to read the ingredients. Red 40. I kid you not. Frankly, this makes a lot of sense, as her reactions never cleared up very quickly with it, and sometimes appeared to become worse...Thankfully I had bought a dye free one at the beach, because the Fair Popcorn only had popcorn, sugar, and colors...and she had been fine on sugar and popcorn...

I told a friend, who's son has crazy allergies that I would rather have a child with Downs than a food allergy, because at least you know what to expect. I stand by that statement, by the way.

Red and likewise violently colored medicines have always annoyed me anyway. I mean, really, your child is sick, may throw up or whatever, so lets make sure that they vomit red or something else that stains...brilliant. The children's medicine manufacturers need to fire their product development guys. The colors also do not delude your kids into thinking they taste good, so what's the point?

Now, I am just totally hacked off. Tylenol, Advil, Benedryll, vitamins, amoxicillan...and after reading the ingredients of the stuff in my pantry, it's in flippin' everything!!!

And as the Little Debbie Incident was thoughtful enough to warn me, even the color of a food does not make it safe. An Oatmeal Creme Pie, while brown, has Red 40 and Yellow 5. The colors of red kool-aid and Mello Yellow. I totally did not see that coming... *sigh*

I am going to give her body a break and in 4 days, I'm going to give Yellow 5 or Blue 1 a whirl. If she goes for the triad, I am going to shave my head and mourn at the city gates...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amelia-ism - Age

Me: How old will you be next year?
A: I don't know
Me: What comes after 5?
A: 6
Me: Good! How old will you be after that?
A: 7:38
(Ummmmm....Gabriel and me dying laughing!!)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week

I have decided that I am a successful breastfeeding mother. I am gauging this not by the number of children I have breastfed, nor how long I did it for. But rather by hearing my son's reaction to a bit of a to do about public breastfeeding.

A few months back, there was a hue and cry about a local county making public breastfeeding over the age of two illegal. Interestingly, putting it on par with strip club as far as encouraging crime rates and public nudity. There was a lot of public ruckus, with nurse-ins and discussions on the radio. My 12 year old son turns and says to me, "Why on earth would they make giving babies their baby-snacks against the law? That seems mean to the babies."

I never hid nor flaunted my breastfeeding his sisters. I just did it. He was quite fascinated by the event when he was small during Elise's babyhood. He asked a lot of questions. By Amelia, it was just what you did. By Charlotte, he would drag her in to me, citing, "She is not happy. She needs baby snacks."

I have been increasingly saddened by the public sexualizing of breastfeeding when it should be the most natural of things, especially on the heels of our children being sexualized by TV and the public in general. I was charmed by the blog post of one of my dear bloggy friends about Breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, really, she says it so beautifully, I am going to leave that pretty much be.

Breastfeeding is not always easy. Not even for every child born to one mother. Gabriel was the easiest child in the world to breastfeed, no massive pain, no awkward learning curve. Not to say there were not bumps in the road, mastitis, pumping when I had to return to school, his abrupt refusal to nurse when he discovered how very easy bottle nipples were for little piglet babies... Elise had a long battle with breastfeeding that we ultimately won. Amelia was a bi-polar nursling who would go on bottle benders followed by needing the real deal with monthly switch-ups for a very long year. Charlotte has loved breastfeeding like no child I have ever known....she had a painful latch and whole months of awfulness, but it nourishes not just her body, but her entire soul. My sister-in-law prefers to call it nursing, and for Charlotte that is supremely more accurate. I've never known a more passionate proponent of breastfeeding with fabulous manners, Charlotte, that is.

I just didn't want this year's Breastfeeding Awareness to pass without a nod to the natural beauty and joy that it embodies...and my pride that my son, at twelve, is protective of the innate balm nursing is to a baby. Because whether or not a mother gets support from her loved ones, is a huge indication of her success. (On a tangent, Muslim Law requires mothers to attempt to nurse a minimum of 2 years. Yet, even if their god tells them to, the likelihood of success [and therefore infant mortality rates!!]still weighs heavily on public and familial support. This was crazy fascinating...)

So Happy Breastfeeding. Be supportive of mothers. Be supportive of babies. They are only little for so long. Don't be in a rush to make them grow up. They always do....whether you're ready or not....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Charlotte Speaks.

I have discovered that although Charlotte is not big on talking, she knows words that will blow your mind. As I promised, she now speaks in badly articulated sentences. Thanks to Elise, I am sure, as most of the mispronounciations are Elise's as well. It shouldn't be too surprising, either, as they are best buddies.

But do you want to know what words she can say flawlessly? Animal names. For example, she popped out with "Oh, look, a hippopotomus!" this last week. Um. What? Why, yes! Yes it is. Crazy. She is an insane fan of "Go, Diego, Go!" who is Dora the Explorer's cousin and a animal rescuer. Like throw her diaper-up-on-stage-groupie-fan. LOVES him.

I am looking forward to this fall. Charlotte will be home without either of her sisters. I will be homeschooling Gabriel, so she'll have a lunch buddy. I bought her some coloring books, and plan to pull all of our animal books so she can have "school" with us too. It's going to be fun. I am curious if she her speech will clean up...or if she'll hold indefinitely popping out with whole paragraphs at a later date!?

I'll get into why we decided to homeschool Gabriel soon. I promise!!

Skating and Rat 7-30-11

Wow. It's been waay too long.

Quick update. I've lost only 2 more pounds. BUT, if you add up those I gained from changing my workout AND those from naughtiness, then I've lost 4 or 5 new pounds. :)

I started Chalean Extreme. Yes, another Beachbody product. (As a matter of fact, I have developed such an addiction, I am now a coach, so if you want anything, order from MEEE! But I seriously needed the discount!!) But the great thing about Chalean Extreme is that it focuses on weights. It is virtually no impact, or can be easily made to be so. Chalene argues that the body's metabolism slows down, not really because you are aging, per say, but because you have less muscle mass and therefore burn less calories. Which totally makes sense. But because I started adding muscle mass, I gained a couple of pounds back because I'm packing on muscle...but my pants were even looser, so as much as I disliked the pounds coming back, I wasn't terribly worried about them. And the weight is coming back off now that those muscles are burning off fat while I sleep. :)

I am still skating. As a matter of fact, my coup today was a whopping 25.5 miles in 3 hours and 13 minutes. I was in over my head, and I seriously almost didn't make it. I have skated no more than 11 miles in over 14 years, so, this was quite the feat. I have only really been actively back on my skates since March. The folks I was with do the A2A every year. I wanted to guage my situation compared to the "big boys". I needed to know how I was standing, how I need to be training. So I crashed their skating party, and they were very gracious. I could have managed 20 competantly, but the last five just about got me. So now I know what I need to do. I even got a very encouraging note to hold the course from the guy who led the skate. He doesn't know how much I want this, and how unneccessary it was, but it was nice to know that someone else is pulling for me! What I learned today was that, surprisingly, I need to work more on the flats. (I know!! Totally crazy!!) I have been so worried about the hills, that's all I've been working on...the flats were brutal for me as I had no down hill momentum to count on.

I gotta tell you a funny fact, though. The skate I went on today is called The Freight Skate. My nerdy mind went straight to the Kessel Run in Star Wars. Don't ask me why. I am just crazy, I guess. But I had to strangle down asking them if they had completed The Freight Skate "in under 12 parsecs"? I really wonder how they would have reacted? :D

I have seriously not sweat so much in a LONG time. I can honestly say I cannot remember ever sweating so much that there were actual salt crystals on my shoulders. Yes. Really.

In some more good news, I had this conversation with Gabriel the other day after I went shopping for pants this week because I had NONE that fit.

Funny thing, after I got home and was wearing the new pants? Gabriel kept looking at me, I started getting paranoid.

Me: What?
Him: You get new pants?
Me: Yup. Why?
Him: They fit. No offense, but the others looked REALLY bad!

You KNOW things are changing when a tweenage boy notices!!! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The First 6 Months Recipes

As you know, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to change not only my eating habits, but my family's as well. Habit will have a huge impact on their health choices as adults. So I have felt the pressure to get away from the temptation of pre-packaged meals. These are the yummy ones that have stuck and have replaced others of my go-to meal choices!

Smashed Sweet Potatoes With Coconut Milk
1 1/2 pounds potato(es), sweet, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup(s) coconut milk, light
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch nutmeg, ground
Place the sweet potatoes in a glass microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high until very tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the hot, cooked potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, salt, and nutmeg. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and combine with the other ingredients. Serve.

Shrimpo de Gallo
by The Pioneer Woman
1 pound Cooked Shrimp (tails Removed), Chopped
½ whole Red Onion, Diced Finely
½ cups Green Or Black Olives, Chopped
2 whole Tomatoes, Diced
2 whole Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, Minced
2 whole Avocados, Chopped
2 whole Limes, Juiced
Kosher Salt To Taste
2 cups Cilantro, Chopped
*(I like to add a healthy glug of white vinegar for a little bite!)

Preparation Instructions:
Combine shrimp, red onion, olives, tomatoes, and jalapenos in a large bowl. Add lime juice to taste, then a dash of kosher salt. Add cilantro. Stir gently with a spoon, then taste on a tortilla chip so you’ll have an accurate gauge of the salt content. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.
Chill until serving. Note that the avocado will brown if too much time passes, so if you want to make this ahead of time, leave out the avocado until just before serving.
Serve with tortilla chips!

Rice Bowl
Insanity Nutrition Guide
(single serving recipe, multiply accordingly)
1 cup cooked Brown Rice
2oz Chicken breast cooked (or you can scramble an egg and substitute it in)
1/3cup yellow frozen corn
1/3 cup frozen peas

Mix. Serve. You can serve it with soy sauce, but it is great all by itself!! My kids beg for this. Even the ones that won't eat the veggies on their own!!

Quinoa Bowl
(variation on a theme from the rice bowl)
(again, single serving recipe, multiply accordingly)
1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 oz chicken
1 Tbsp Thai peanut satay sauce

Mix. Serve.

Turkey and Avocado Rolls
Slice an avocado longwise, salting it just a tiny bit, and wrap it in some turkey sandwich meat...Mmmm! So good!!

Sandwich Tweaking
Laughing Cow spreads have the same number of calories in it as mayonaise, but it is nutritionally better. AND if I use it on my sandwich instead, I can leave off the cheese without feeling ill used. If I put cheese on with it, it is LUXURIOUS!!

Oatmeal-Flax Pancakes

courtesy of Livestrong
1 1/2 cups Quick Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or whatever whole wheat or all purpose flour you've got)
2 tbsp Sugars, Brown
1 1/2 cups Skim Milk
2 egg
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Flax, Ground
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix and cook in a pan or griddle...Serve with syrup or apple butter or fruit spread...Enjoy!!! (These are SO much more filling and nutritionally wise than Eggos or similar items!!)

Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
(Seriously the best change I've made!! And these are the best of the best!!)

Cook according to directions. Add honey, cinnamon, and bananas. Or brown sugar and cinnamon. Or honey and raisins. Or...the list is endless and it ALL good!!!

Dijon Oven-Fried Chicken

(This is a hodge-podge from several different recipes that I merged off of the cornocopia of Google)

Take chicken breast, roll in Dijon mustard, roll in seasoned bread crumbs, lay in an olive oiled glass cookware. Cook at 350-400 depending on your time available.

Apricot Scallops
Pan sear scallops with a tiny bit of olive oil sprayed on pan so it doesn't stick. Serve with apricot fruit spread. Yummm!! A little of cinnamon is fantastic on it, too. This was my quickie invention based off a delicious appetizer at a Moroccan restaurant Ethan and I went to a few years ago.

Squash and Zucchini Bake
Slice a couple of squash and zucchini
spray with olive oil (THIS is a GREAT purchase!!)
roll in bread crumbs
bake at about 350 degrees (Almost as good as fried!!)

Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Thanks to a BBQ restaurant we went to this last week, generously dice cucumbers and tomatoes, mix with a light Balsamic Vinegarette dressing, and chill. Delicious!!

Red Beans and Rice
I would be lying if I said that I have quit all pre-packaged meals. But I haven't bought a single Hamburger Helper or lasagne since I committed to our health. I have found my kids ALL love scratch corn bread and Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice. So, we keep it on hand for rough nights. It is still a MUCH better option than most pre-packaged meals. Frozen or boxed!!

My very favorite corn bread recipe is Quaker's. It used to be on the box, but now it's hit-or-miss. It can be used with ANY cornmeal, but NOT a cornmeal mix, however, as I learned!!)

Here is the cornbread recipe:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Quaker (or whatever you have) enriched corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 F. Grease 8 or 9 inch pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve warm.
(Fast and one of my all time favorites!!)

Salad Substitutes? Always use a sweet and light dressing on a fruit and spinach salad. For a little protein or to make into a salad meal, you can add cheese, chicken or ham, and nuts. I am currently in love with Rasberry Vinegarettes and Bolthouse Mango Vinegarette. Seriously wonderful!! Unlimited combinations!!

I also tweaked a Potato Soup tonight that turned out great, but I still have to figure out it's nutritional while scrumptious, I will wait on the recipe...maybe next week.

And finally, my Less Evil Macaroni. Make up a box (1 Large [Barilla] or 2 Small [Kraft type]) of elbow macaroni, your choice, but I would encourage whole wheat pasta. Add 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of parmesan cheese. Add frozen peas. My kids are all fans. And it isn't quite as processed as the actual box's "cheese" powder, but just as fast and, I think, yummier.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day 2011

I posted for Father's Day for my Daddy last year. I don't think that I can top it, frankly. That pretty much sums it all up.

But I wanted to put together a collage this year of the things I remember specifically, as a child with my Daddy.

I remember the Giant Fake Book and the Omnichord!! I remember singing at the top of our lungs all the songs we loved! I remember cranking the music and singing in the car while snarfing down stale (the best kind!)

Daddy, "And if you fix your bathing suit...and if you do it right, you'll be the hero woavenite..." *snort*

I can hear you yelling at me to look out the windows instead of reading as we drove to North Dakota.

I can smell the crayons as I contemplated the idea of a pastel suit in Noel Paul Stookey's album, before I knew what "pastel" meant. (I concluded, wrongly, that is was along the neon lines of Crayola.)

I can smell the hot vinyl of the car seats and feel the hot metal in the truck bed as we chased down the ice cream man...our very first time...

I remember you reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy" to me.

I remember learning that exercise was fun on the Paracourse.

I remember Par 95's at the Frisbee Golf Course. :)

I remember being important and feeling confident in being loved. I adored spending time with you, and I remember you genuninely enjoying spending time with us.

I remember your eyes squinched up in laughter lines when you explained why "Johnny Sands" was funny.

I remember sitting at the bathroom mirror, trying to squinch my eyes up like you...and terribly disappointed that they wouldn't...because I thought your smile lines were SO COOL!!

I remember you running and biking to Alan Parsons, because you liked how you felt when you were working out...while I sat reading (as usual) and enjoying your rockin' music...

Thank you for Big Band and "Dizzy" and Ella Fitzgerald.

Thank you for happy memories and for fun music...and running through life with passion and joy!!!

I love you, Daddy!! Happy Father's Day!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rat 6-7-11

I am here checking in, as I promised. I am not, however, where I wanted to be. I think I am in a good place, maybe even a better one, but not where I expected to be.

I am on temporary hold in the the Insanity program. I got through the first month, swimmingly. I did as I was supposed to, wrote down every single calorie, exercised every day according to the program plan. I did the 5th week, that was actually supposed to be a semi-rest week. Then, I did Day 1 of Month 2. And the infuriating happened.

About 3/4 of the way through the work out, a mind-blowing electrical charge shot up my arm to my armpit while doing planks and about dropped me. But when I looked down, I couldn't see any damage...and finished my workout in some slight pain and continuous little shocks...about 20 minutes the inside of my wrist was green, a perfectly square bruise, with a bullseye light spot in the center. And it scared the pants off me.

I stuck it out through the day, as it got worse and looked worse. I would forget about it, and bump it, and it would hurt so badly! I finally sucked it up and took myself to the urgent care for some x-rays. The doctor there had never seen anything like it...after the x-rays, it was concluded that I had dislocated a carpal bone in my wrist... They made me an appointment 2 days later, with a hand specialist. At that visit, I discovered that I had not dislocated bones were in the right places for them, but they were not quite where "everyone else's were". Great, now I am a freak straight to my bones.

Officially, I have damaged my ulnar nerve. It may fix itself, or it may not. The hope that it would resolve itself in a week, is gone, as it is now 2 weeks later. I find myself thinking that if I could have just disocated my bone, they could have popped it right back, and I could have gone about my business...

I am unable to do all the plank and push-ups required for the Insanity program. So it is on hold. I am now running, skating, biking, and doing a few of the P90X and Jillian workouts on rotation. I wish I could tell you that I am 2 weeks from finishing the Insanity program. I am pleased to say, however, that having completed the first month of Insanity was enough to jump-start a lot of life changes. I am still planning on doing the in-line marathon in October and am planning to make good on my 15 year old self's desire to do a triathlon. I am planning to get my body in shape running enough to complete a sprint distance marathon within the year...I have bike and swim under my belt...I only need to be able to run about 3 miles...

Officially, at this point I have lost 8.5 lbs. I feel so much better. It's funny, I lost weight before on Weight Watchers...and it worked....but I never felt so GOOD as I have while working out. I feel like old me...when I worked out for the fun of it. I am only 2 lbs from my Goal #1) Get my weight down to "healthy". Then I can more on to the more fun goal of Goal #2) Lookin' Good! :)

SO. There you have it...still holding strong!!

Finally, here is this rat's recipe:
Oatmeal-Flax Pancakes

(The link contains the nutritional content.)

1 1/2 cups Quick Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or whatever whole wheat or all purpose flour you've got)
2 tbsp Sugars, Brown
1 1/2 cups Skim Milk
2 egg
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Flax, Ground
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix and cook in a pan or griddle...Serve with syrup or apple butter or fruit spread...Enjoy!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Every year, I boohoo my way through Memorial Day and Veterans Day services at my church and PBS. I am touched and moved. Any time I look at the flag, I get choked up. I can't hear patriotic music without having my heart fill with the magnitude of their sacrifices. This phenomenon lasts the whole year through.

And not just the grand sacrifice, but all the little ones, too. The days that they never spent with their families. The milestones that they should have celebrated with their spouses, their kids, their parents. The anniversaries, the birthdays, the births, the first steps, the first words, the first days of school, the snow days, the family dinners....that they were not there for and they can never go back and redeem.

And even the possibilities...that are lost...

I know a young man who is a marine. He and his family have always felt strongly about their involvement in government, local, federal, etc. It should come as no surprise that as a young man, he took that sense of duty and felt called to military service. He signed up, with his family's support, concerns, and love. He was in Iraq for less than a month, involved with communications, when he was shot. He has had surgeries into the double digits to try and repair the damage that was done. They have not been as successful as was hoped.

He has been in surgeries, therapies, has had pain medications, addictions, and deep struggles with depression. I have learned a whole other side of veterans. The abyss that is after care.

We see glorious gifts of sacrifice. We see triumphant reunions. We do not see these men broken, struggling, and hurting. I have learned the appalling statistic of "Eighteen veterans a day commit suicide; 6,000 a year". That is more military that we have lost by their own hand, than on the battlefield.

I urge you to be appreciative of the military personal that lost their lives securing yours. I beg you to be aware of the losses of those who gave up so much so you could take your day to day for granted. But I entreat you to pray for those who are back, broken in body and spirit. Hurting after heroically standing in the gap for you. I plead with you to stand in the gap for their soul. I implore you to write to them, call them, be a true friend to them and their families. They now need you to rescue them.

Please don't forget them after the fanfare has died down. Please be their hero.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real Work

A friend of mine posted THIS LINK up on her Facebook page in honor of her husband. And I LOVED it. I loved it even more when I went and read THIS entire testimony, by Mike Rowe, later, when I had time.

And I thought I'd to it add a little rant of my own. It comes in several parts.

#1) I think school is over sold. I mean, really, it is getting too full for it's britches. I believe that "school" has an inflated sense of self.

School has it's place, but practical, get into it EDUCATION is far more important. When I was in 5th grade, I had a teacher who was a little crazy. In the very best way. We would study things holistically. When we studied Mesopotamia, we read writings from then, stories written by them, dressed like them, cooked like them, ate like them, even went to school like them...sun-up to sundown, one day. I've never forgotten any of it.

You can make me read books about stuff until my face turns blue, but send me out to actively get involved in it, and I remember and appreciate it.

I can go to the grocery and buy my food, but kids today don't even appreciate the pre-packed genius anymore...not until they have to make bread from scratch, weed and tend a garden, or can their own applesauce or tomatoes.

I think that we lost a huge opportunity when we went to college. I believe with my whole soul, that we should go back to apprenticeships. Not only would we appreciate our "degree" but we would have a solid idea of the rest of our lives! I know SO many people who went to school, went to college, got a degree or two and realized that they hated that job 3 weeks after they started. They had, however, mortgaged their future with debt, and so stay for 30 years. Despising every minute.

Not only would we know before 2, 4, 6, 12 years of education had passed, whether or not we liked our job, there would also be no "learning curve" once that job started. I know very few jobs where you show up the first day and know everything. Even once you get a job, there is usually on-the-job-training. So, why are we in school for years first????

#2) Also, education has allowed, as was mentioned in both links, a snobbishness to rise up between technical, vocational, self-made, and highly educated people. If we were all in the trenches together, I think a sense of the interdependence would be clearer. I certainly have a affinity to teaching math. I cannot put a car together if it breaks. Do we both need each other? Yup. If "I" hadn't had to suffer through 4.5 years of college to get my degree do you think I would be so smug?

I have dreams of learning how to fix my car and learn how to do plumbing and pouring concrete so it would run, not leak, and not look like a kindergartner's plaster of paris project...I hope to figure out some of it. I have a healthy respect of those who learn and do. And anybody who does look down their nose at the "dirty job" workers? My advice, do it your own dang self. What? What is that you say? You can't??? Then SHOW THEM THE RESPECT THEY DESERVE!!!! (And this goes both ways. I know many self-made people scorn those that got a degree, even if that degree was necessary to fix their problems.)

#3) School hurts those that do not learn like Suzy Average. I should know.

The most practical example I can give you? Me. I had planned to go into medicine. Occupational Therapy to be exact. I did TONS of volunteering, and I had a real natural ability. I liked the problem solving aspect. It made sense. I was told by every single person I shadowed that I had a knack for it. Since having Elise, I have asked her Occupational and Physical Therapists stuff, that blew them away, and they had to go do homework on, and even on occasion, shared my conclusions with their peers. True story.

College decided that I should take Physics in order to get this degree. Um. Okay. So I took it. It was not made for me. The funniest part? I failed it the first time. FAILED. What? You feel scorn and pity at my stupidity? I GOT AN A in the Physics Lab (you know, the place where you practically use the knowledge?). It was 25% percent of my grade. AND I STILL FAILED!!!! Do you know hard that is??? I took it a second time, and passed with a C total grade...but I had hurt my GPA to the point that I couldn't get into any OT programs. Even though I was competent in the actual field and in the practical usage of the taught information, I didn't get the "gold star" to actually pursue my passion.

I went into education, ironically. I like to think that I was able to encourage some of those upside-down-thinking people still duking it out with THE SYSTEM.

During which time, I met Darrin. He was a trouble-maker. He had an attitude. He had bad grades. He was surly. He was angry. He was hurting. He had a IEP (Individualized Service Plan) for Special Education. He did horribly in his core classes. He made it difficult for even his peers to learn in class.

Crazy person that I am, I had my 7th graders make tin lanterns for Christmas. They were just empty soup cans that I had them bang holes in with nails. When you put candles in them, they were cool. He never did his work, but I think that the shock of my unorthodox lesson plan, and the opportunity to make the class under us cringe from the racket, caused him to join in. His lantern was intricate, beautiful, and full of truly professional precision. It was the most gorgeous one that was made the 2 years we did it (300 some odd students). I ooh-ed and aahh-ed over it. And he was so embarrassed. But he gave it to me. I didn't have a single behavior problem from him for the rest of the year. I went to shop and asked the teacher there how Darrin was, told him of my pleasure watching him on our project, and was told that he was one of the best students, that he was incredibly technically talented.

So why do we keep removing the vocational/technical programs from our high schools??? Why do we want to beat down these kids who excel with their hands, and make them wallow in their ineptitude with geography until they are 16, at which time they drop out and populate our prisons, because they never had an opportunity to succeed???????

#4) As both the links pointed out, if we did not denigrate jobs that looked like work, and respected them, we wouldn't have class warfare. Or sky-rocketing unemployment. And an unexpected impact? We wouldn't have to import illegals to do it for us and hurt our economy. If we filled our own jobs, then they wouldn't have reason to come over here. We wouldn't have to be putting up fences and law enforcement.

#5) And we could let men be men. Boys be boys. Kinesthetic learners wouldn't have to suffer until the age of 16 or 22... The men we all respect?? They didn't have fancy educations. They did what they had to do. John D. Rockefeller Sr, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers....(Need I go on???) They made our lives better. What are we doing in return for their efforts? Trapping brilliant people in to learning disabilities and failure. Killing the American Dream.

SO. You may find this odd coming from a woman with a college degree in education, married to a man who has a graduate school dual degree. But if my kids don't want to go to long as it isn't laziness prompting them to live in my basement...I am not married to the idea of school. Get Educated. Work hard. Work Very Hard. Make a difference. Pursue a passion with no illusions of "just deserts" without the time and effort. You will be successful. And I don't care if you have degrees out the wazoo or just a herculean work ethic....

And I will be proud. Very proud.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Actual Jane Austen Challenge

Jane Austen 30 Day Challenge
(I found this HERE)

1. Favorite Austen heroine.
2. Favorite Austen man.
3. Favorite Austen book.
4. Favorite quote from the books.
5. Favorite moment in the books.
6. Favorite movie adaptation.
7. Favorite Austen couple.
8. Least favorite couple.
9. Most hated foe of a heroine.
10. Most frustrating family member.
11. Least favorite book.
12. Least favorite Austen heroine.
13. Least favorite Austen man.
14. Favorite love confession from the books.
15. Favorite love confession from the films.
16. Least favorite film adaptation.
17. Moment that made you sad/cry while reading.
18. Moment that made you smile/happy while reading.
19. Moment that made you laugh while reading.
20. Moment that made you mad while reading.
21. Favorite Jane Austen-related photo.
22. Favorite Austen female casting decision.
23. Favorite Austen male casting decision.
24. Favorite supporting character.
25. Favorite family connection (i.e. sister-sister, mother-daughter, brother-sister, etc.)
26. Favorite casting cameo from the films.
27. Favorite quote from the films.
28. Favorite moment from the films.
29. Favorite character back story or secret.
30. Character you most relate to.

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort."
Jane Austen

Confessions of a Janeite

I ADORE Jane Austen. I mean, JANE. Not the movies, although they do have a lovely place in my happy thoughts...

I am planning on an indulgence to kick off my summer. I am going to re-read my favorite (all of 'em!!) Jane Austen books. Then I plan to wrap up my summer with a 30 Day Jane Austen Challenge. HERE it is, in case you'd like to join me. (I'll post it up in a separate post for your ease.)

If you choose to do it, PLEASE TELL ME!!! Email me, link up your blog, message me on Facebook...I want to know where my Janeite Peeps are!!!

Until then, I plan to post one (at least) Jane-Related post each keep us in the mood! :)

After all:
"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
Jane Austen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Music for the Hump Day #1

LOVE this song...enjoy!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deep Thoughts Down the Drain

Today is not a deep thoughts day. I wanted it to be, but they apparently all went down the drain.

The thought of the day? Does your hair age? Yes, it will change color, grey and all that…but does it get dry and brittle like your skin as you age?

The reason I ask, is my recent experience with shampoo. I used to be able to wash my hair with bar soap, and it would do okay. I mean, not great, but in a pinch, it got by. Recently, my hair has been disinclined to behave. So I have actually broke down and bought it products to whip into submission. Things have been going well under the new regime, but my actual hair, which is still baby silky (dandelion, remember?) has been dry and unhappy, distinctly fuzzy. I ran out of shampoo a while back. I have long been a fan of Suave in the fruity flavors…plus it’s cheap, it used to be a buck, but now with the economy, it is a whopping $1.50. Anyway, I was not planning ahead (as usual) and realized that I had no shampoo, so went and got my travel sized Garnier Fructis out of my trip kit. And lo and behold, my hair was happy, smooth, and not so dry. Huh. SO, I used it until it was gone…yay, happy hair!! It ran out, and I was back to my strawberry Suave…boo, sad hair! Huh.

I went out and bought the real sized Garnier, and spent *gasp* $3.50. But my hair is 18 year old happy. Seriously, is my hair old? Demanding coddling, like my skin has been lately? Terribly strange. I guess when I turn 40, I will have to buy $5 or $8 shampoo? It is an interesting thought…not deep, but certainly a matter for research… :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rat 5-9-11

I have not ratted myself out for a while. I am not proud of this, but I have not lost momentum, I have actually gained ground. I've just been tired.

I completed Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred...granted it was in about 90 days, but I pulled it off. I did lose some weight, and then put on some muscle. Which is good and depressing all at the same time, because although you put on muscle, you also put on some I was at a neutral weight loss, but I looked better and my jeans fit better. Good, but not great. I was feeling more like my old self. When I first started, I took so long between workouts because I had to let my muscles regroup and heal. Then it took a while between workouts because I was adding other workouts, in-line skating, running, stationary biking, etc. so I didn't get bored. I felt like it got me in shape enough to get in real shape.

Then in a fit of craziness, I ordered Insanity, an exercise program that is made to brutalize your body into shape. There are rotating workouts so you don't get bored, and so your body has a chance to regroup, but then again, not really. Ethan did the P90X workout, by the same company, and lost about 22 pounds. And while it would have been smart to just use it, I just could not face an hour and some for each workout. SO.

I actually really like it. I like that the workouts are all under 45 minutes...I like that just when you feel like you will die, they do stretching... I like that it works. I have lost an inch off my waist and 4 pounds in 3 weeks. And it is the kind where not only are you losing, but you can see the muscles show up. I am feeling so much better about myself. I am tired and sore just about everyday, but I am feeling healthy again. PLUS because the program is so brutal, you get to EAT! I am following their diet, and I actually find myself having to eat at the end of the day because I am UNDER their recommended amout of calories for my day...when was the last time you were on a diet like that!!!???!!!

My favorite new recipe that is in their nutrition booklet is the rice bowl. Brown rice, peas, and corn then you add chicken or a scrambled egg...and that's it, nothing else. (Although Ethan and Gabriel like soy sauce on it.) It is yumm-o and the kids like it. Elise is thrilled when I make it, and she will actually eat the peas and corn and beg for more...which is a plain ole shock.

My other absolute favorite food discoveries? Slicing an avocado longwise, salting it just a tiny bit, and wrapping it in some turkey sandwich meat...Mmmm! So good!! Also I discovered that the Laughing Cow spreads have the same number of calories in it as mayonaise, but it is nutritionally better. AND if I use it on my sandwich instead, I can leave off the cheese without feeling ill used. If I put cheese on with it, it is LUXURIOUS!!

I really didn't want to post that I was doing Insanity, because it promises such dramatic results...what if I don't get those dramatic results?? But I read something that my "coach" said, that if you don't have the guts to tell people that you are trying something, then deep down you are giving yourself a way out...and that really struck me. So now you know the reason for my rat today. I am not giving myself a way out. I am going to fight through this program, dagnabit!! I am about to start the 4th week. Then I get a recovery week, and then the abuse starts for the second month...which is supposed to be harder. And I'd just like to say, that if it is too much harder then you will find me rocking in a corner...I am genuinely scared of the second month. But you want to know something weird? I like the workout instructor, still. I usually could take out a hit on the exercise instructor of any other program I've done, after about a week...even those I liked.

I will let you know how things are going in about 3 weeks, which will put me half-way through the second month....if I'm not dead. Plus is gives me a pride incentive to stick to it!! And then it's only 2 weeks til I can say I made it...which I can totally do, right??

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother and Her Babies

All I wanted to be when I grew up was a mama. I had no back-up plan until I was 13. Then I was going to be a large animal vet. Then in high school I discovered that I was a good teacher, so that became the plan...there were a few other changes, but that ended up sticking. But regardless of the plans that came and went, wanting to be a mama was the only constant.

And you want to know why I wanted to be a mama? Because mine was so good.

We made each other crazy. There is no denying that. She made me have a nervous breakdown about once a week, and I am sure I returned the favor, but it was behind closed doors. She never, not once, made me feel like a stress, a disappointment, or a frustration.

I know that I was a mystery to her, we were not alike in our wiring make-up...but she even found ways to coddle my biggest issues. Instead of allowing me to chew the snot out of the car seats and my clothes, she let me chew on her glue sticks before they made it to the hot glue gun. She let me wear the same 4 Ocean Pacific shirts and 2 pairs of jeans my entire 6th grade year, washing them regularly so I could. I flat refused to wear uncomfortable shoes, so she would break-in shoes for me. No lie.

She borrowed her weight in library books every week. She bought me audio books and crayons out the wazzoo, so she could get stuff done. She read Little House on the Prairie books until she was blue in the face....often "reading" quite literally in her sleep as she fought with drowsiness when my brother came into the picture.

She made grilled cheese sandwiches and hot breakfasts. She wrote notes for school lunches.

She would come pray with me when I got scared in the dark. She would lay in bed with me until I calmed down, sometimes sleeping with me through the night.

She would make mushroom soup for me when I was sick. Fill hot water bottles for my stomach. And read some more.

She drove across Cincinnati to pick up a huge box of Barbies just for me. She helped dress them, she talked my dad into making me a Barbie house. She bought it carpet and made it furniture. And she is not a particularly crafty woman. But she did it for me.

She read Steven Kellogg, Russell and Lillian Hoban, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the list is positively endless.

She was there for everything.

She homeschooled me when it became clear that public schooling and my crazy self was not going to be a good fit.

She took on nauseatingly complex craft projects for my birthday parties with quite a few little girls involved as "helpers".

I like looking at her childhood pictures, because she always has a baby doll. Better than 90% of her pictures until she was 4 or 5 has a doll in them. I like to think that she was practicing. Practicing loving. Practicing being patient with bizarre antics. Practicing reading. Practicing being never alone. So that when she finally had me, she had the big stuff down.

I am beyond thankful that she is my mother. I know she wasn't perfect, but I sincerely doubt anyone could have handled me with as much grace as she did.

I am thankful that she was always there.

I hope I can be half the mother to my kids that she has been to me.

Happy Mother's Day!!! I am so very thankful for you!!

"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:28-31

Friday, April 29, 2011


We got a rather terrifying lightening storm night before last...and after watching the insane weather on radar just barely miss us, and talking to friends and family who were not so lucky over the last couple of days, am I the only one who starts thinking The Book of Revelation?

There were some big, bad tornados that have decimated lot of the south that typically do not get hit by any such storms. I have friends that actually had their house lifted and moved 4-5 feet and then dropped by the tornado...destroying it. I am thankful to say that not one of their family were there, they were in their church basement...but all of their stuff is all a loss.

Many of my family and friends have no power and do not anticipate it being restored for a week. One friend has been charging her phone in her car, and posted on Facebook that they were warming water over candles for coffee...thankful that they were safe.

Whole strips of neighborhoods, buildings, and schools are literally gone. Forests have been razed...hundred year old trees snapped like matchsticks.

A friend from high school posted that she went to her parents' damaged house today and they have heard the cadaver dogs searching all day. They can see nothing but destruction everywhere they look.

Today another friend posted that her husband (who is a contractor) has been let go from his job...which I find bizarre (the entire area is going to be rebuilding from the ground up...who do they think will be doing this??) But in the face of the desolation, how awful would it be to get that phone call??

I have been emotionally tossed about over the last few days...I virtually never watch TV (when it is on, we are usually streaming from Netflix) but yesterday I spent the day searching Facebook for friends posting that they were safe, or reporting that they had talked to other friends...I watched the news for pictures, information, and reports of the damage. Today I have watched the Royal Wedding and the reports of the damage...the highs and lows are making me feel manic depressive...I am feeling darn blessed that my life is boring, normal, and safe.

Repeat after me:
I am blessed. My family is safe. I have a home. (even if it is dirty!) I have electricity. My fridge is full of food that has not spoiled. I can microwave said food. I know where my clothes are. I can bathe and wash my clothes. I can contact my loved ones. I can go to the store and know it is standing. I and/or my spouse have a job. I do not hear cadaver dogs searching for the lost. I can give blood. I can donate to those who have nothing. I still have time to tell those I care about that I love them. I have hope. I know what is important. I can cry and celebrate with others. I know who has His Hand on me and that I deserve nothing....that I am blessed to have HIM.