Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Tomorrow is December 1. How is that possible?!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with a couple other East Coast transplants, and had a lovely time. We supplied the turkey, stuffing & gravy, which thankfully means that I'm not staring at piles of desserts. In theory. You see, my hubby happens to love cheesecake, and our host graciously sent him home with an entire one that was left over. I watched him eat it for breakfast Sunday morning -- while I was measuring out my fiber cereal and skim milk. Grrr. That was one of those times that I kept chanting to myself, "I'm getting healthier, I'm getting healthier!"

Unfortunately we also have sickness circulating in our house. We'd all had a nasty cold a few weeks ago, and while it wasn't severe, it slowed us all down and was taking awhile to shake off entirely. Well, Saturday morning our little girl was not her normal perky self. Our son started showing symptoms yesterday, and both had slight fevers this morning. I kept them home from school, drug them to the doctor's office (where our son had great fun using the stirrups on the exam table as a ramp for his mini skateboards) and received the verdict: strep. Off to Walgreens for pink medicine!

Anyway, I am definitely behind on my normal holiday prep. The tree hasn't gone up - in fact, the fallish decor hasn't even been put away yet. Hoping to remedy the situation by this weekend. I also will be doing some baking, as I'm participating in a cookie exchange on Thursday night; I figure that this is a good way for my family to get some sweets, because there's no way I'm producing a bunch this year. I'm making chocolate crinkles - simple and easy!

Thankfully the gifts have all pretty much been purchased, but I need to get them wrapped up - and of course many need to be shipped. I had hoped to have that done this week, but the new goal is next Monday. We're heading off to Arizona again for Christmas, so at least that's one less package to be sent. Whew - that's a lot to get done in the next week or so. Why on earth am I sitting at the computer?! Toodles!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Scent of the Holidays...

Step 1: Feed kids a healthy breakfast to counteract the pile of sweets consumed last night. Yum, oranges!

Step 2: Rescue peels from trash, and throw into pan.

Step 3: Cut up shriveled apples that were mistakenly not thrown out earlier this week.

Step 4: Add cinnamon sticks and a few anise seeds. Cover with water and set to simmer.

Step 5: Pause every 3 minutes to sniff the air appreciatively. Somehow even washing dishes seems more festive now :)

Note: The blaring playing of Christmas music is also helpful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. ~Johannes A. Gaertner

"God's Word commands us to 'give thanks' about 135 times. How is giving thanks different from being thankful? Giving thanks is an action that implies specificity; feeling thankful is passive and deals in generalities. Giving thanks recognizes the One who is the source of our blessings; feeling thankful may not even acknowledge our Source. Giving thanks ultimately gives glory to God; feeling thankful only makes us feel good about ourselves." ~David Self (from First Place 4 Health)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Belated Friday Funny

I've had the grocery ad sitting on my kitchen counter for the past week so I could snap a picture. Back in Philly suburbia, our Thanksgiving ads promised kosher turkeys, Italian sausage, and a variey of other delights.

Now, I can pick up pig heads & cow stomach for my family's enjoyment :)

BTW, this is the ad from the main supermarket chain, not some tiny specialty meat market.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Weight Loss Journey (Part 1)

I posted this photo on FB last week - me, 25 pounds lighter and holding a 25 pound bucket o' lard. I have never gotten so many comments on any posting, photo, etc. Obviously it struck a chord.

I've had many people ask, "Oh, what are you doing?" I know I've asked others the same question, hoping they've stumbled upon some magical insight.

Here's my insight: "It's hard work."

I'll be writing this up and my book will be available next year ;)

If I've learned anything in the past 30-odd years, it's that shortcuts seldom work out. I've never been one to eat crazy foods or pop pills in an effort to lose weight, and while I have made half-hearted efforts at altering my diet/lifestyle, I never stuck with it. I had joined Weight Watchers back in 2000 and lost a good chunk, but it crept back on after 2 babies and a variety of other reasons excuses. And while I don't think Weight Watchers is a terrible program, I think that there's too much focus on the whole points system and not enough emphasis on nutrition. I've been using sparkpeople's nutrition tracker, and I've found it to be hugely educational as well as motivating. If you set up a profile and enter your weight goals, it will recommend a calorie range, and you can even use their suggested menus. I pretty much knew where I should be calorically (even though I wasn't actually doing it) but the big thing for me has been seeing actual amounts broken down on carbs, protein, fat & fiber. I know low carb is super trendy and low fat was all the rage 20 years ago, but our bodies are designed to use all those things, and it's so important to provide balance! In one sense, I've actually found it liberating to take control of my food consumption. Let me explain. In the past, if I ate a doughnut I'd usually feel guilty (and of course I'd try to "bury" that guilt by eating more. Sheesh!) Since I've been "dieting" I've eaten 2 doughnuts. Each time I chose to indulge my sweet tooth, but I knew that I was balancing that choice with the other food I was eating that day. Same goes with the occasional fast food burger. I'm making serious, life-long changes... and I'm not about to eat only salad and baked fish every day :)

Another insight: It's not just about the weight. I just finished the Begin With Christ Bible study, and God definitely used that to shake me up. Am I really leaning on Him? Really, truly trusting Him with every aspect of my life? I know God loves me, but for some reason I just felt like He didn't need to be bothered with the physical stuff. I mean, does He really care whether I choose to munch on an apple versus a bag of chips? Can putting down a candy bar be an act of worship? Whose voice am I listening to when I continue eating after I'm no longer hungry? This body may only be a temporary vessel, but I still need to honor Him with it while it's entrusted to me. There are *SO* many verses that I've read in the past couple months that have hit me in a completely different way. The study itself was pretty good, but the time spent discussing it with our group was where I was really encouraged. How awesome to share in the struggles and triumphs with a group of women who are earnestly seeking God! We laughed a lot and shed some tears, too. We've wrapped up this book, but will be starting another in the First Place 4 Health series in January, and I am really looking forward to it. To go along with that, I've had several people remark that they just don't have the willpower. Well, I can unequivocally state that I DON'T EITHER!!! But it's not about me - it's about HIM. I can't do this by myself - but He doesn't expect me to. My Loving Father is there to hold me up when I'm weak, and guide me back when I make a bad decision. I'm so grateful for His grace and mercies that are new every morning...

I have a lot further to go. My clothes are fitting differently, but I don't see a big difference when I look in the mirror. It's not like I've gone from a size 8 to a size 4, know what I mean?! And while I've dropped a substantial amount in the past 12 weeks, I also know that realistically the weight loss will probably not continue at this rate. Logically I'm OK with that, but I know that emotionally it will be a struggle. There will be weeks that the scale doesn't budge; I'm trying not to focus so much on this single number, and think about the bigger picture of health. Every day that I provide proper nutrition for my body means that I'm better equipped for whatever mission God has for me. Every rep with the dumbbells (my mega 2 pound ones!!) means stronger arms to reach out to those around me. The exercise part is still hard for me. I don't like getting all hot and sweaty - I like sitting on the couch and watching TV! Many of the exercises that "experts" recommend for toning involve movements that the orthopedic doctor specifically told me to avoid, but I've managed to find some exercises that I can do. And hey, at least I can now put my pants on without leaning on something for support!

Yes, I still have a long journey ahead of me. I know I've commented before that I don't want to turn this into a weight loss blog, but I do want to share what's going on in my life. Weight is major issue for me, and I know it will be a life-long struggle. Thankfully I am not on this journey alone.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Cor 10:31

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's new?

You may remember that I splurged on a bottle of nail polish when I lost ten pounds.

Clearly 22 pounds lost required something larger.

How’s this? Does it make my butt look big?
Seriously, though, we’ve been debating about a family vehicle for awhile now. We purchased our Passat Wagon shortly after our daughter was born; it already had 70K on it, and it recently broke 110K. It also needed some things repaired - nothing major, but it was still going to be around 2 grand. At what point do you stop sinking $ into an old vehicle and decide to put that toward something newer? We also had an F-250 that we no longer needed, but it had some major quirks, so we weren’t necessarily excited about selling it ourselves (we had visions of someone throwing a brick through the window 2 weeks later).

Anyway, we set off on Saturday morning to test drive some vehicles and just get a better feel for what was available in our area. The used market is really crazy down here - they don’t depreciate much since there is such a high demand for vehicles over the border - and many people told us they’d actually done better buying new due to dealer incentives, etc. We really wanted something that seated at least 6, too, so that when we have a couple visiting we can all fit in one vehicle. We’d done quite a bit of research online, so had essentially narrowed it down to a few models. Mitsubishi wasn’t even on our radar initially, but turns out they’re better priced than a lot of other comparable models, plus high safety ratings and a great warranty package.

Long story short, we ended up buying an Outlander with lots of shiny bells & whistles, with 2 vehicles as a trade-in. I know it’s going to serve our family well and we’ll be driving it for many years. It’s strange to think that we no longer have a VW, though. You see, we’ve always had at least 1. Our first real date was in a Jetta, driving to a church event then Olive Garden for coffee. Bought a newer Jetta after graduation, and drove it off on our honeymoon (a cross-country trip from Montana to Pennsylvania. Wahoo!) We commuted in to work together for about five years. We brought our babies home from the hospital. We packed up our basic belongings (after filling a moving truck, of course :) and drove from Pennsylvania down to South Texas to start a new chapter. ALL in a Volkswagen. It truly feels like the end of an era.

In other news, we sent the kiddos out to scavenge for sweets last weekend, dressed in appropriate attire of course ;) I got in on the fun, too, and raided my closet for every clashing print I could find (I also had black & white toile pants on) At least the mob scene in our neighborhood was not unexpected this year; I gave out my 600 Dum Dums in about 30 minutes, and probably could have gone through another 1000. I'm tellin' you, it's crazy!!

I saw the orthopedic doctor on Thursday. I’d had the MRI of my left knee done a few weeks ago, and my primary doctor had filled me in on the basics and I was expecting to schedule surgery to clean out the damaged cartilage. Things didn’t go exactly as expected, though; when the doctor initially came in, his first comment was, “I thought you’d be older” - and then wondered how many in my family had RA. Huh?!?! Yes, it turns out that I have some fairly severe arthritis in there (to quote the dr: I have the knees of a 60 YO), and based on the description of pain, that seems to be the major issue rather than the torn meniscus. Since I’m not even 40, he’s not in a hurry to do a joint replacement… but it’s only a matter of time. I got a cortisone shot as a first step, and we’ll see how long that lasts. They’re generally good for 3-6 months, then there’s also a second injection that they can try that’s an artificial lubricant. Next step would be the laparoscopic procedure to clean out the joint before finally replacing it entirely. Whew. Part of me is happy to know exactly what’s been going on (and obviously I’m not imagining the pain!) but I’m not thrilled to discover that essentially we’re talking a degenerative condition… I’m supposed to avoid stairs, running, lunges, kneeling, etc whenever possible. Walking is OK, and the injection did allow me to stroll around car lots this weekend without excruciating pain.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the past couple weeks. Yesterday was also my hubby’s birthday, so we took our new vehicle over to South Padre and had a nice little family celebration. He is still working in Mexico several days each week, and in case you haven’t heard, the violence has been escalating in this area. There was a major shootout on Friday night (the military took out one of the drug cartel kingpins) with nearly 50 dead, and frankly it doesn’t seem as though the issues will be resolved anytime soon. We’d really appreciate your prayers for his continued safety.