Monday, June 30, 2008

Menu Planning Monday

Here is my menu for this week: June 30 - July 4

Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Steamed Broccoli
Sliced Strawberries
Warm chocolate pudding with Cool Whip (fat free)

Sour Cream Salsa Chicken
Baked Brown Rice
Fiesta Corn
Green Beans

Fiesta Tamale Pie
Pintos 'n cheese
Cucumber 'n Onion Salad
Hot Banana Glory

Indonesian Pot Roast
Roasted Potatoes
Seven-layer green salad
(greens, broccoli, cucs, onions, FF cheese
red and green peppers, etc.)

Friday-- Happy Fourth of July!
Grilled Hamburgers (Lean ground beef)
Whole wheat buns
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Fruit Skewers (great idea, Anna!!)
Fruit Dip

Sunday, June 29, 2008

With You

We waved goodbye
And off we sped
With no plans made at all
The last time we were
Alone together
Is quite hard to recall

The evening sky
Was darkening
As we drove and talked about things
About houses and jobs
And parenthood
And the happiness it brings

We strolled along
While hand-in-hand
And marveled at the sights
The streets were filled
With happy people
And trees with their twinkling lights

It was such a treat
To be carefree
With nothing much to do
What made it special
Was the luxury
Of spending time with you........

written for my hubby in honor of our first date night since Bush took office--or January 30 of this year--I can't remember which. It was heavenly, this thing called Date Night. We might do it more often.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jingles, Crushes and Another Day of Costumed Delight

I have a slight crush on a fake guy.

Well, he's not actually a fake guy, I'm sure he's a real guy. But, I do think he's pretty adorable. And, to prove that the marketing geniuses at Free Credit know exactly what they are doing, I walk around singing the tune..."shoulda gone to freeeeeeee credit, report. dot. com....I shoulda' seen it comin' at me like an atom bomb......"

You know the guy who sings in those commercials? He is just a cutie-pa-tootie if you ask me:

But, not quite as cute as the cutie that dressed like a pirate for the last day of Vacation Bible School this morning!

Arghhhhhhh, matey.

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Little Click, but a Click Nonetheless

Wild 'n Crazy Times--Past and Present

It's one of those memories that has set up camp in my brain...never to fade...hanging around like a longtime buddy camped out in your Barca-Lounger munching on a bag of chips. Yeah, it hangs around like that. And, if you do not know what I mean by the term "Barca Lounger," you are most likely too young and I do not like you anymore.

Kidding. Sorta.

Anyway, back to the memory. It's 19-seventy-something and I'm in the fifth grade--my first day of a new school in the suburbs of Chicago. My sister is in second grade and it just so happens to be Halloween. We had heard from some neighbors that the kids do a really special thing at school for Halloween. You see, they have a costume parade around the playground and through the school. "How much fun!," we thought as we donned our costumes for a fun-filled first day.

My Mom loaded my sister and I up in our VW Wagon for the short drive to J.B. Nelson Elementary. We were there extra early since we were also registering--so no other kids had arrived at the time. Little did we know the social disaster that would soon befall our innocent, young, decked-out-in-costume-from-head-to-toe selves. And these were not the kind of costumes you just take on and off.

We were IN CHARACTER, y'all.

I was Becky Thatcher, Tom Sawyer's girlfriend, proudly wearing a custom-made Little House on the Prarie-ish dress, long stockings, boots, a bonnet and two long yarn braids pinned securely in my air since I had the ever-popular (but not braidable) Dorothy Hamil cut at the time (and if you don't know what that is either, I am going to apply for social security TODAY). To complete the ensemble, my Mom had tied my lunch up in a red bandana and secured it to the end of a fishing pole. I was so proud.

Now my sister was even more ornately decorated than I. She was an enchanted snow fairy, oh yes she was. Blue tutu and tights, ballet slippers and a homemade star wand beautifully complimented the gallon-sized jug of glitter we used on her face and hair. I remember her looking quite pretty and, well, sparkly. Very sparkly in her blue tutu she was.

Mom left us in the capable hands of the school administrators who, consequently, did not advise us on our fate. It was then that the first bell rang and the kids started pouring into the school. Kids that were dressed for a normal day of school only they were all toting large bags, bags that contained...yep, their Halloween costumes to be used AFTER LUNCH.

Tragedy? Yes. In fact, it was in my know-no one-at-the-school- and-now-I'm-a-laughing-stock young mind. My poor sister, standing there in her glitter-bedecked glory...well, at least we had each other. So, we trudged forward with the bravery of a front-line soldier into the cruel world of elementary school taunting. Our teachers did their best to make us feel comfortable and to comment favorably on the creativeness of our get-ups but the damage was already done.

If you are wondering how my Mom found out, well she passed our bus stop on the way home and saw neighbor children with their tote bags and, upon questioning little Andrew from next door, knew that we were in for a day. If she were still here I'm sure she could refresh my memory on her actions thereafter...but I think Jenny and I just chose to stick it out and forge on--anything to avoid getting undressed and redressed later.

I relay this story because yesterday was Crazy-Dress-Up Day at D's Vacation Bible School. My 6-year old could not have been more excited about the prospect of dressing wild 'n crazy (as he called it) but I for one was petrified. Especially when he asked me, "Mommy, what if I'm the only one dressed up?"

What do I say? "Well, honey, if you are, then you will carry years of emotional baggage which will cause you to miss out on all the fun dress up opportunities through the rest of your school years because you're too afraid?"

No. I said, "You won't be. I feel sure of it. And, even if you are, you are just having fun and you can have fun even if no one else does." I'm not so sure my shaky confidence was quite believable.

But, we did find the wackiest outfit we could put together and spiked his hair and found some wacky glasses and he looked adorable. And as we entered the sanctuary where hundred of kids were singing the opening song I noticed almost everyone had dressed "wild 'n crazy" and my child fit right in. And for a moment, I was standing there in my yarn braids and bonnet with my lunch on a stick...having the time of my life.

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

From a Blank Screen to Waxing 60.4 Seconds

This blank box with its blinking cursor waits patiently as I stare off into space.




::crickets chirping::

My brain is fried, y'all. There are so many thoughts competing for my attention, I feel like the really important things--the things I should be focusing on--are like little stock traders on the floor of Wall Street. They clamor for my attention, earnestly trying to wade through all the mess that lay dormant inside my jumbled-up head.

You know, I'm chock full of ideas. Ideas about things to do with the kids this summer, fun new dishes to cook, giveaways for the fall conference I'm planning and even how I'd like to see my dream pantry organized. Ideas about blog posts I'd like to write, how to better keep in touch with family and friends as well as prioritizing neat vacation spots and how I can better keep up with the housework. All of these idea streams are snaking their way through my conscious train of thought all day. every day. But how many do I actually find the time to put into action?

Very few.

Why? Because life gets in the way. More immediate needs are pressing and, by the time I find my way to say...mailing a birthday present to a close friend on time? Well, it's too late. I really do want to be the person who always sends the card on time and who has it all together. And I'm working on it. Each day, I try and make little adjustments to bring me closer to the person I want to be.

You see, I'm not the coolest person in the room, the nicest dressed, the most polite or the funniest. I'm not the super-organized one or the one who could be considered the most consistent. I'm not the one who prefers to lead, nor am I one who's too keen on following. I try to be a lot of things...but most of the time I miss the mark.

Who am I then? I'm just me. Hanging there somewhere in the middle of wanting and having, desiring and achieving, dreaming and creating. I'm right the place where life is sweet in its sweetest moments and bitter in the trying times. Like most people, I'm just trying to find my way and make the most of each wonderful 24-hour period I'm given.

Aren't we all?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Menu Monday

Here are the recipes we're using for the Weight Watchers Core Plan this week:

June 23 - 27, 2008
Roasted Green Beans
Fresh fruit salad

Whole Wheat Couscous
Warm chocolate pudding with fat free ready whip

Steamed broccoli
Grilled Bananas with fat-free cool whip

Core Sloppy Joes (with whole wheat bun)
Grilled corn on the cob
Cucumber and Onion Salad (chilled)

--eating out--


Tragedy in the Rainforest

So there I was, lodged in the curve of a semi-circle booth in the back corner of the Rainforest Cafe Saturday afternoon. My blue jeans glided smoothly onto the toucan-laden vinyl seats as the "ooh, ooh, ahh, ahh" chants of the mechanical monkeys welcomed us from their perch in the fake foliage above. Normally one to enjoy such an intriguing dining experience, I had but one thing on my mind: the BBQ Chicken Wrap.

To the un-dietarily focused reader, this might not seem like such a big deal. But, for the record, I have never visited the Rainforest Cafe and not partaken of the BBQ Chicken Wrap. It's pretty much everything I like about food. A buttery soft tortilla encasing a sweet and tangy BBQ chicken, cilantro, green onions and four (yes four) kinds of cheeses.

Come to Mama.

But as the faux thunderstorm clapped above us, I surveyed the menu in search of a, ahem...HEALTHIER alternative. Now, depending on your particular food tastes, this might not go down in the "Tragedy" column of your personal record books. And I know every time I post one of those "It's Clicked" weight loss tickers on my blog it makes it look so easy.

It's anything but. Especially when you're in a dark corner of a fake jungle with elephants roaring, lights flickering on and off, and a 7-month old squirming in your arms like a cage dancer on Solid Gold. I wanted a BBQ Chicken Wrap in all its cheesy glory. It's not that I couldn't have it, it's that I shouldn't have it. That's the tough part.

So, I did not order it. And, life went on. The world did not tilt on its axis because Katie didn't order the BBQ Chicken Wrap. But I can admit that I was not the happiest camper on the block for a little while. I pouted...a little. I grieved...a little. I ate grilled shrimp and veggies and dreamed of the cheesy, tangy goodness of which I'd deprived myself. But then I got over it.

And just as I was sliding out of my seat to leave, a server came up with several plates on his arm and said to the lucky patron in the next booth "BBQ Chicken Wrap?"

The little ironies of life never cease to amaze me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back from Indy

Apologies for my absence...I drove up to Indianapolis to do some pre-planning for our conference this October. And, my laptop is on the blink so no on-the-road bloggin' for me. (I will admit that it was kinda nice to have a break from the computer screen for a few days, though!)

I gotta tell you, folks. I LOVE Indianapolis. AB-sol-lute-ly love it. Truthfully, I was somewhat dreading that locale because I had never been there and it seemed like it had nothing to offer. Boy was I ever wrong.

Indy is a beautiful downtown with tons to do and see. It's a compact city with clean streets, friendly people, a canal snaking past cool museums and a zoo-- not to mention a gorgeous new stadium for the Colts. I dined at sidewalk cafes and walked around to the various spots we're using for our off-site functions and I never felt anything but safe.

And the food? People. The food. This was tough from the get-go since it was my first trip on the new program. But, I have never had such delicious salads and yummy steak and...and...well, it was allllllllll good. Especially the Asiago-Almond Pan Seared Scallops. Oh my good grief they were good. They weren't just good.... they were INCREDIBLE. Nestled atop a bed of orzo with sauteed asparagus and sweet roasted red peppers.......

OK, enough. I'm getting hungry.

Anyhoo--- I'll try to post some pics when I get unpacked. But, here's what I didn't get to post from Tuesday:

woo hooooooooo :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's Get Physical, Physical...

The Lakers were beating the Celtics on one screen and the "Creepiest Towns in America" were being showcased on another. The whir of the ceiling fans harmonized with the grinding sound of the spinning rubber mat beneath my feet. Thunk, thunk, foot after another...starting off slowly then reaching a cruising altitude of 3.5 miles per hour.

Such was my work-out last night.

I have never been a "gym-goer, workout kinda person." I'd a sooner had you string me up by my big toe than drag me to a place where: a) everyone is fitter than me and b) I'm gonna have to work hard at something I don't even enjoy. Blech. Who needs that?

But, come a lilttle closer. I want to whisper this in your ear so no one else will hear me say it. Come on, that's it...a little closer. Here goes (cupping hand over your ear) ...

"It's not so bad."

There. I said it. And, to make matters worse, I may (brace yourself) actually enjoy going to the gym. Yes siree, I cannot believe those words just came out of my mouth. It has actually come to be sort of a getaway for me. When I get there, I can usually look forward to some quality buddy time and a welcome smile from the trainer I've been working with. And, you know what? I am not the least fit person there. Now I'm not that inhuman woman that stays on the Satan-spawned elliptical machine for an HOUR, but I can hold my own. I can also look forward to the feeling of accomplishment that comes from getting in another day of cardio and weights.

Is this me really talking? Cardio? WEIGHTS? [laugh]

Last night, I went kind of late and it was particularly hard to get through the cardio on both the treadmill and the bike. At one point, I didn't think I could go on. So, I leaned back, closed my eyes and visualized myself stepping on the scale at Tuesday's meeting. In this vision, I could hear my leader saying "good job...2 pounds!" I may not end up losing that much but what it did was get me through so I could finish.

Hopefully, one day I'll look back and read this and wonder why it was so hard in the beginning. It's hard because it's a total lifestyle change for me. I am not accustomed to taking care of the wonderful gift that God gave body. For too long I've been taking it for granted. In fact, next time I get to the hard part of a workout, I may close my eyes and just pray and thank Him for all my blessings.

I'm not perfect, I'm a work-in-progress... but I am blessed indeedy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shhhh, Don't Tell the Husband Person

My husband Keith is not very demanding. And, when it comes to the boys, he pretty much lets me dress/groom them the way that I want. Except when it comes to what he refers to as "the fru-fru dressy stuff."

Well, this outfit is one that was with a bunch of clothes we borrowed when Baby J. came home and I couldn't resist taking a couple pics of him in it before he grows out of it (since he's never worn it) No, it's not a rough-and-tumble boy outfit...but oh did the picture turn out to be so cute!

And Stacey, don't worry. Nibble away. I do it all. the. time.

If It Moves, If It Stays Still, If It is There, It's Going in My Mouth.

...and no, I'm not talking about me and my eating habits. :-)

"hmmm, what's this?"

"mmm, a round black thing. Mama calls it a lens cap thingie."

"I think I will eat it."

"Oh yeah, that makes me happy."

"Ooooh, a camera, I think I'll put it in my..............."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That Funky Movement I'm Making? That'd Be Called the Happy Dance!

Weight watchers weigh-in day... 4 more gone! woo hoooooo

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's All About the Planning

OK, so I stumbled upon the site that encourages planning out your meals for the week... which I am ALL ABOUT by the way. And, because several folks have asked for some of the recipes we've been trying, I thought this would be a good way to post them all in one place.

Don't worry about these being Weight watchers/Core recipes...because they still sound delicious! In fact, I haven't tried one yet that I haven't loved. I guess that's why sticking to the plan has been so easy.
So, here is my meal plan for the week with links to the recipes I'm using. Let me know if you end up trying any of them!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
June 9 - 13, 2008
Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Topping
Green salad with veggies and fat free dressing
Fresh cut fruit (cantaloupe, grapes, bananas)

Apricot Couscous
Steamed Broccoli

Fiesta Corn
Fat free refried beans with fat free cheese

Sesame green beans
Grilled pineapple

--on the road/ eating out--

Enjoy! I'll let you know how they turn out...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What a Slacker!

I seriously haven't posted since last WEDNESDAY? What in the blue blazes have I been doing? I know I had company starting Thursday, but GEEZ!

Well, I wanna update you on The Quest to Be Healthy at All Costs.

I'm doing really well this week! I'm exercising and sticking to the eating plan (Weight Watchers Core Plan) and am feeling more and more confident that I can make it through this to my goal. Sure, I struggle (like walking past the dessert bar today at lunch) but it hasn't stolen my motivation and drive so far.

These are some of the things I'm doing differently this time around:
  • Journaling every. single. thing. that I eat. Not a single tic-tac or piece of gum is spared from this!
  • Plan menus and grocery trips--it felt so good to go through the store with a PLAN last night...and to now have a pantry stocked with good-for-us stuff.
  • Positive attitude-- i think this has been one of the biggest changes from past attempts to get healthy. I really, truly believe I can attain my goal. That is a huge change for me.
  • Having a solid support network--including my hubby and my family doing the program, too--means that I'm not "alone" in my struggle. :-)

If I feel this good at 10 pounds lost, I can't imagine how 20, 30, 40+ pounds gone feels...but I'm looking forward to finding out!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Know That Little Thing They Say Has to "Click" in Your Head?

When "diet" experts talk about motivation, willpower and the ability to follow through on a plan to get healthy, they always seem to mention that something in your brain has to "click" --allowing you to truly decide it's really time to get busy.

Well, whatever "it" has clicked for me.

Since joining Weight Watchers a few weeks ago, I've lost 10 pounds (o.k., 9.6!) and I feel better than ever! I've tried to lose weight before but there was always something inside saying "you won't be able to do this. You will fail. Just like every other time, you will not succeed."

But that voice? It is gone.

It has been replaced with a feeling of determination and a true will to see my goal actualized. I can honestly say I have never felt like this before. Last night at our WW meeting, our leader asked us to write down the reasons we joined the program. I chuckled and turned forty-leven shades of crimson as I recalled one of the major factors. It shall forever be known as " The Unfortunate Accidental Photo of Myself Au Naturale." It happened on a trip as I was packing/getting dressed. I will go no further except to say that it was a day that scarred me forever...or at least motivated me to do sumthin' about it.

And, no, I did not share this with my fellow Weight Watchers folk. I spared them. But you? My faithful reader, with you I share all.

Well, almost.

[sly grin]

Anyway, I just wanted to declare my fitness goals publicly so that I will feel a bit more accountable. I am blessed to have a hubby doing the same eating plan with me as well as my sister-in-law and bro-in-law. Together, we are working hard to achieve our individual goals. But it SURE is easier to do it as a group! On the workout side, my Georgia buddy Melissa and my local buddy Mia are both keeping me on track. Mia and I met at the gym this morning and I did 50 minutes of cardio and worked my upper body on the equipment.

My eventual goal is to be a Weight Watchers leader-- but, to do that, I have to meet my lifetime goal...which is only an eensy weensy 74 pounds away. Hey-- it was 84 a couple weeks ago. I will get there. I truly believe that.

I hope I can count on you guys to be there, too. I need as much support as I can get!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

At Least Two Pics Made It...

I started with these two pics and now it's doing the funky "close down Internet Explorer as soon as you try to post pics" thingie again. So frustrating! Here are two of the first ones I came to, though. Luckily, they are two of my favorites.

Baby J. and that smile of his...melts me heart.

Working on sitting up. Cute little bald thing. I could eat him up.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Special Kind of Love

November 19 was a day that changed my life forever. That was the day that I met the birthmother of my future child. I was nervous that we wouldn't be what she expected and she'd immediately change her mind.

That didn't happen.

Instead, I met someone with whom I now have an explainable bond. And, as a gesture that had to be unbelieveably difficult on her part, I received a Mother's Day card from her this year. I feel so guilty that I did not return the favor-- but I was completely unaware of how that particular day might be affecting her. I could only imagine how painful it must have been and I certainly didn't want to bring attention to her loss.

But the card I received from her? Ya'll. It brought me to tears. I sat in my driveway sobbing huge crocodile tears. One part read, "I have been so sad since J's birth. I miss him so much but I know in my heart that you and Keith are the best thing I could have ever given him. I wish I could hug you and thank you in person...thank you for being such a wonderful Mom."

Lawdy mercy.

She also included some lyrics to a song that played at a birthmother's celebration she attended. It's a song titled, "Everything to Me" by Mark Schultz. Part of the lyrics that really got me were... "But you had dreams for me, you wanted the best for me, and you made the only choice you could that night. You gave life to me, a brand new world to see, like playing baseball in the yard with Dad at night, Mom reading Goodnight Moon and praying in my room..."

Lawdy lawdy mercy.

It was a very special Mother's Day surprise. I always thought (when considering adoption) that I would never desire to have a relationship with my child's birthmother. But, instead, I have this strange maternal feeling of wanting to protect make sure she's OK. I love her in every sense of the word. Because of her selflessness, I have one of the two greatest gifts I've ever been blessed with. I am forever grateful to her for her decision.

A blogging buddy of mine, Anna, recently received her own special birthmother tribute. And guess what? It brought tears to my eyes, too. You're shocked, huh?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Can My Title Be : "Car Ridin, Beachy Things, Family Time, Pound Cake Avoidance and Other Vacation Recollections"?

It can? OK, so shall it be.

After going six days without posting, this road-weary traveler isn't sure where to start?

Maybe I should do a Trip in Pictures! Who can resist a good picture, right? And think of all the describin' I can spare you from? (oops-- I ended in a preposition... think of all the describin' from which I can spare you... is that better? One never knows when one's seventh grade grammar teacher or grammatically superior former coworker might be reading. I'm just saying.)

Did I digress? I don't digress, do I? Am I a habitual digresser? Digressor? Can you tell I'm in classic Blog Post Avoidance Mode? Ok, Ok, I'll get to it.

OR...maybe I won't. I have tried for two days to upload pics and each. and. every. time I do it shuts down my blog. Curses!

So [evil laugh] you get poetry. Oh yeah. That's right. A little versin' as I'm cursin'. OK, I'm not really cursin. But it VERY FRUSTRATING. Just think, once I figure out why my blog has gone postal on me, I will add the pictures, too. It'll be an EXTRAVAGANZA of VACATION DELIGHT. Oh yes it will.

Suffice it to say, our week was full of car ridin, potty breaks, sand, surf, a baby's first taste of the ocean and lots of quality family time. It was glorious. So, here comes some rhymin':

Twas a week of vacation
'Cross more than one state
We started at my inlaws
And got in quite late

Had fun with the family
All the kids came
With sunshine and swimming
The little ones we tamed

There was lots of good cookin'
That I couldn't eat
(And my mom-in-law's poundcake
Simply canNOT be beat)

I spent the whole week
Staying true to my plan
Then I went to eat mexican
With my kids and my man

The corn chips, they got me
I ate way too much
I hope I don't pay for it
When a scale my feet touch

But back to vacation
What a great week we had
Spent time with Keith's family
Then visited my Dad

There was fun at the beach
And a waterpark, too
And then, we were packin'
Boy, time really flew!

We took lots of pictures
Which I hope to soon add
To show all the world
What a great time we had!

* * *