Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Fun

So today is my 40th bday, and we're celebrating the holidays with hubby's family.

Let me summarize the past few days:

Day we left:
  • while washing dishes, shattered the carafe from the coffee maker in the sink
  • our sewer stopped draining properly as we were all trying to "empty" before hitting the road... We called our water/sewer company to report the issue, and decided to go ahead and leave anyway. Will deal with whatever when we get home.
  • since I was unable to go to the restroom at home, we stopped at a gas station on the way out of town.  A woman bustled by A and I as we walked in, and turned out there was only a single restroom.  We waited a bit, but we were hearing noises and finally decided it wasn't worth waiting any more so just hit the road.
  • got about two hours north of home and I ended up getting my.first.speeding.ticket.EVER. I could understand if I was actually wrong, but the cop shot me doing 56 in a 55 and then tried to say I was in a 40 (he was sitting right behind the sign designating the new speed limit - sure, like I'm going to blow by him like that?!)  Anyway, life goes on.
  • our GPS redirected us around jammed traffic, and then proceeded to freeze. Ended up shutting the car off while mostly stopped on I-10 and thankfully it restarted OK.
  • my sunglasses broke (these are the kind that slip over my regular glasses, and I only use them when driving.)
  • hit major cold front/rain just as we were pulling in for the night
Day 2:
  • drove in the rain for about an hour, but thankfully it was warming up at that point. 
  • MAJOR wind through west TX. Hardly shocking, but annoying nevertheless.  Thankfully New Mexico was fairly uneventful.
  • hit some ice coming out of the mountains in Arizona.
  • tried to pull off at a rest stop in a small town in AZ - there was a sign telling us it was coming in 1 mile, but nothing actually designating the turnoff, so we ended up pulling into the wrong place.  D had to go pretty badly, so decided he was going to walk to the right place... well, ended up that we couldn't take the easy walk-through, but had to walk back out to the road.  Hubby had already moved the car around and we were running along... I love walking along highway in the darkness, wearing flip flops in 40 degree weather. Oh, and did I mention crossing the cattle guard?  Good times, good times.
  • arrived, but kids having serious coughing fits.  Thankfully no congestion, fever or other symptoms, but we still ended up staying home from church on Sunday.
There's all sorts of side family drama as well, which makes for a turbulent head & heart, but I'm trying really hard to just focus on the amazing gift that we were ALL given thousands of years ago.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Healthin' it up...

And now on to weighty issues (ha)....

I like to cook.  Oh, and eat, too.  It's one of the ways I show love to the people around me - and food is also my default consolation AND celebration choice.  As a result, there is too.much.of.me.  This has a double meaning - obviously weight, but also I've come to realize it's an example of selfishness.

I've fought this battle for many years.  (I can vividly recall comments from a doctor's visit back in high school).  I gained slowly but steadily in college.  I did Weight Watchers before we had kids, and while I didn't make it down to my "wedding weight" I was able to get to a place where I felt healthier.  After two babies, my weight was not in a good place, and eventually I learned that my thyroid wasn't working quite as it should be.  That's now regulated through daily meds, but of course the pounds I accumulated didn't magically melt away.  I signed up for WW again when D started kindergarten, but I can't honestly say I gave it my all.  I was stressed and "easing the pain" by shoving things in my mouth.  We moved to South Texas, and I took part in a First Place for Health group at a local church - basically Weight Watchers + Bible Study.  I lost nearly 40 pounds during that time (also was using sparkpeople to track my food) but I felt like food was still controlling me - thinking ahead to my next meal, strategically planning my calories.  And frankly I was hungry a lot of the time, so was cranky.  Yes, my family is available to verify this detail ;)  I still needed to drop more weight, but stalled for a long time and then the numbers on the scale started to creep back up.  My solution: stop getting on the scale.

I know I"m being a bit flippant about this, but seriously, there's a lot of pain there.  Watching my kids play and wishing I could join them. Flopping onto the couch after dinner, exhausted even though I hadn't done much.

Earlier this year, a small, informal Bible study that I take part in went through Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst.  It's not a diet plan, but rather an encouragement for women in particular to turn their weight battle over to Christ.  I nodded along with all of her excellent points, but still didn't make changes.  Meanwhile, a friend of mine was counting calories and doing all the "right things" and had lost about 70 pounds.  She's part of the small group, and mentioned that she'd heard some good things about the Trim Healthy Mama program.

Huh? Never even heard of it.  I came home that afternoon and hit google -- and was intrigued with that I found.  Reviews like this and this.  I liked that it was from a Christian perspective and dealt with real foods.  I had read enough about "alternative" approaches like Paleo & Wheat Belly Diet to know that I was interesting in going beyond the government's food pyramid suggestions.  Anyway, I ended up ordering the book that day; it wasn't cheap, but it was still way less than what I had spent on WW in the past!

It arrived, and it's biiiiiig: 619 pages.  Not a fast read.  It starts out by describing a couple "types" of women: Whole Grain Jane, Drive Thru Sue, Raw Green Colleen, and Farm Fresh Tess, and talks about pros/cons of their diets.  They talk a LOT about insulin, and described it in a non-clinical fashion that I could easily understand; I was definitely interested in this part as I have a strong family history of diabetes.  They then go on to talk about Biblical Truths, and finally describe the plan they've created.  The basic idea is that all too often we are giving our bodies both carbs and fat, but our bodies can only process one of these fuel sources at a time.  Basically meals should be centered around protein, but then weighted to either fat or carbs. S (Satisfying) is very similar to Atkins, and E (Energizing) is healthy carb, low fat (more like today's typical "diet" food, but avoiding refined carbs).

It took me almost two weeks to read up to the recipe section (200 pages).  It's not that it's a hard read, but I was just overwhelmed and trying to process it all.  It's a big change from what I'd been taught was "healthy" for many years, and I didn't just want to skim through the info. I also read more about certain topics - google is definitely my friend!

A few more program basics:

  • NO SUGAR!  This includes coconut sugar, brown sugar, agave, etc.  They also do not recommend chemical substitutes like Splenda or aspartame.  Instead, they recommend all-natural alternatives: stevia, xylitol, or erythritol. (I think that was 2 days worth of online research right there for me!)
  • Avoiding wheat, unless it's been soaked, sprouted, or sourdoughed. 
  • No potatoes - they spike your blood sugar too much.
  • Mix it up - you can't eat just E or S meals.
  • Spacing 3 hours between eating - especially important if you're switching between S/E.  There are also "Fuel Pull" foods that are neutral, so great for an occasional snack.
  • Some foundational foods:  salmon, berries, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, almond milk, old-fashioned oats, quinoa
  • Some other items they recommend that aren't exactly American staples: glucomannan, nutritional yeast, red palm oil, defatted peanut flour, whey protein (and yes, the type matters - the big jugs from walmart have lost most of the nutritional benefits due to processing), chana dahl beans (baby chickpeas!), 

FYI: these are all guidelines, especially if you're actively trying to lose.  They stress that each person will respond differently to different foods, hormones, etc. so you need to find what works for you.

Anyway, I've now been THM'ing for nearly two months.  I've lost just under 20 pounds and am feeling more energetic.  The first few weeks were really hard - I hit what I believe to a the "sugar wall" about a week in: I was tired, slightly nauseous, and had a killer headache but it only lasted 2 days.  It took about two weeks for me to really understand the fuel sources idea, and how to implement them.  By the end of the first month, I was already looking at recipes and mentally revising them to fit.  I have MANY more pounds to go, but I am actually hopeful about this process.  I'm not feeling ravenously hungry OR cranky, and I'm not tracking every bite of food (of course I'm not eating 14 oz steaks with every meal, either, LOL).  There's a very active FB group where people can get their questions answered, as well as share recipes, tips, etc.  There are also several sub-groups for special cases (pregnant/nursing, those who have 50+ pounds to lose, food allergies, etc.)  It's been amazing to see all the testimonies on the FB group - people going off blood pressure meds, managing IBS or Crohn's, no longer needing insulin shots for Type 2 Diabetes, etc.  There's a lot of good information in the book, and I don't regret purchasing it at all.

That being said, I do have a few complaints/observations:

  • I think the sisters are stretching it a bit with some of the Biblical "justifications." I'm not saying that I disagree with their views, but picking a single phrase out of an OT passage doesn't sit well with me. Furthermore, I absolutely disagree with their stance on "unclean" meats - "Some people believe the New Testament has more freeing guidelines toward unclean meats." (from page 54 of the paperback).  SOME PEOPLE? I seriously question how they can read Acts 10 and still write that sentence. 
  • Their four "intro ladies" are each simply lacking knowledge for optimum health.  But what about the obese woman who is an emotional eater?  There was really no mention of this issue (but the Made to Crave book I mentioned earlier fills this void nicely).
  • This is a self-published book.  It's actually better written than many self-published titles I've read, meaning it's not full of spelling and formatting errors.  BUT sometimes the organization is a bit odd, and it definitely needs a much better index.  I also would have appreciated footnotes about their various health claims, so that I could research the topic myself.
  • Recipes.  I *HATE* how they're formatted.  I want to be able to see all the ingredients/measurements at a glance.  I've actually started retyping some recipes just for my personal use.
  • Both of these ladies homeschool, and sometimes I felt like their "ideals" were pretty unrealistic for a family who has made a different choice.  My kids attend public school, so are getting birthday treats at least once a week -- it's tough to get their palates to adjust to Stevia when they're still chowing on HFCS at their school desks.
  • I felt they tried to cram too much in this book: hormones, marital relations, exercise...  The "Foxy Mama" chapter described how things should IDEALLY be, but intimacy is a complicated issue, and there's no way that can sufficiently be addressed in just a few pages.
I could say tons more, and perhaps I'll share more thoughts in the future, but for now I'm signing off.  Time to go make a protein shake before I pick up the kiddos :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Funny: home design ad

I often find myself chuckling at the absurdity of rooms in decorating magazines.  Obviously they're staged to look good in pictures as opposed to actual LIVING - and while I often shake my head or roll my eyes, this ad actually make me laugh out loud.

I'm all about planning ahead, but seriously, people, how much wood do you want IN YOUR HOUSE?  And what's up with the candles?!?  Come check out the latest from RL: "Paranoid Doomsday Prepper Chic"

(This is from the September 2013 issue of House Beautiful)

Friday, November 1, 2013


Halloween.  I love to dress up and goof around, but I hate that 95% of the current costume offerings either are about gore (boy options: undead skateboarder, bloody werewolf...) or hoochieness (girl options: sexy firefighter, naughty nurse...).  I also hate that our neighborhood is transformed into a teeming mass of people, many who've driven over to the "rich" neighborhood because they think they'll get lots of candy (heads up: we give out cheap stuff because there are SO many trick or treaters - go to someplace that's less crowded and people will probably give you something other than a single mini tootsie roll).  It's also usually still hot & humid this time of year.

With all that in mind, I made the kiddos' costumes this year.  We looked online for ideas, and A fell in love with a flamingo.  Okey dokey.  I hit the clearance section of Walmart fabrics, and found what I needed.  I made it up as I went along (kind of frustrating at times) and I can't say the finishing is pristine, but overall I LOVE it (and she did, too!)  There is big poofy tulle underskirt, which is definitely one of her favorite features (and I made it as 2 separate skirts, just so she can wear the "tutu" with leggings). D wanted to be a cool archer dude (inspired by Green Arrow) but of course most of the costumes were cheesy Robin Hood types involving leggings ;)  I finally tracked down a long-sleeved green shirt, and then I cut off the arms to make a hood, and trimmed out the neckline.

And rather than staying home and getting annoyed, we decided to go out this year.  We met up with a friend at Bass Pro Shop, and the kids happily skipped around collecting candy.  And I savored the A/C.  BTW, I was a ceiling fan - the pink thing on my hat said "Go Ceilings!" and I had one on my shirt that said "Ceilings are the best."  Yes, I am a goober.  After we had collected sufficient sugar, we played around a a bit more - so many fun photo ops!!

And on a side note, I made it through Halloween without ingesting a single bit of sugar.  WOW!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Yesterday was a glorious day indeed. Our kids had been asking about being baptized. We had considered it about a year ago, but after talking with them, I just didn't feel like they truly "got" it, that this was a milestone in their Christian walks, an outward profession of their personal decision.

But a few weeks ago, our pastor announced that we'd be having a baptism service - and to make it even more special, it was going to be held on our one year anniversary of being a "real" church (officially recognized by our denomination, upgraded from a church plant).

We went through the class last Sunday, and the kids both asked our pastor more questions than anyone else (something he even commented on again yesterday).  And while I was certainly excited to have our kids take this step, I was super excited that my dear friend AND her daughter (A's bestie) also were baptized.  They've been attending our church for a couple months now, and her parents even joined us for service yesterday.  Squeal!!  So cool to see the good news of Jesus spreading...

We do not have a church building, and we meet for services in a middle school.  Oddly enough they do not have a baptismal, so we do it outside.  In a horse trough.  Following in Jesus' example, Texas style ;)  And yet another little tidbit: notice the shell necklace? Every single person ever baptized at our church was worn that. OK, just had to add these other shots from our semi-official church photographer. The first is when we were before the church (being introduced, explaining the significance, etc. Hubby was behind me on the steps), then additional water shots, family with the pastor, and kids talking to our pastor's wife. Seriously, I can't stop smiling when I look at these!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Our really fabulous family weekend

Saturday night was our town's annual "Praise on the Hill." This is a free event, and had heard nothing but good things about it, but every year there was some sort of scheduling conflict for us. Last year, Matthew West was the featured performer, but I was in San Antonio for the Women of Faith conference. Anyway, this year the Newsboys were the headliners. The last time I saw them in concert was 20 years ago - they'd just released the album Not Ashamed, and I was super close to the stage, dancing around in a very mild version of a mosh pit. And now I'm taking my kids - hilarious! Anyway, the temps were still pretty warm on Saturday, so we didn't go until about 7 PM. We caught part of a performance from Hearts of Saints (quite good) and Rapture Ruckus (not my thing). I definitely had a total "old lady" moment during that performance, as all I could think was, "Wow, they're really loud and I can't understand a single word!" Hubby - the sound geek - did point out that the sound was *really* bad during that performance, which didn't exactly help... Anyhoo, Newsboys finally took the stage and the kids were excited to be able to sing along with some songs (having a good, local Christian radio station rocks!) Michael Tait made a comment about love being a verb (inside joke for old school DC Talk fans, which meant I subjected our children to some vintage videos later, courtesy of YouTube). Our daughter had a ball dancing around, too, in case you can't tell from the picture ;)

Sunday morning: church. I had the preschool class for first service - our lesson: passover. THAT's a fun lesson to teach 2 and 3 year olds! I don't know how much they actually "got" but I will say that it made communion during 2nd service even sweeter for me as I was reflecting on how Jesus became our lamb... After church on Sunday, we headed down to South Padre Island for sandcastle days. Again, something we'd been wanting to check out for the past several years. As we were cruising down Padre Boulevard, I had to laugh at the irony of the Irish Pub offering a Mexican Plate. Seriously, life in south TX is downright hilarious at times. We'd had a cold front blow in the night before, and it was only 71 at the beach. Bliss!! Tons of cool sand sculptures, a few photo ops at Pirate's Landing, and then dinner at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. Our daughter wanted nachos - holy pile of food, batman! Let's just say we brought quite a bit home... Perfect ending to a busy but relaxing weekend!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Funny: Highway Sing-A-Long

Comedian TJ Smith brought a smile to people’s faces while they were stuck in traffic on the 405 highway in Los Angeles by rolling his windows down, cranking up the 1968 pop song “Build Me Up, Buttercup” by The Foundations on his car radio, and enthusiastically lip-syncing along to it. TJ received an abundance of positive reactions from people passing by during his performance. The video was filmed by TJ’s friend Kathy Sue.

(I can't help but think about the reaction this would get on I-95 in the Philly area... there'd be a lot more single finger salutes.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some September Photos

 What we've been up to:

  • dove hunting!  This was D's first official hunting experience (last year he just got to play fetch).  Sadly they only got one day of hunting in so far (too much rain), but that did nothing to diminish the smile of pride
  • kids each had a friend over last Friday... they were begging to go outside and play in the rain, so I gave the OK as long as there was no lightning.  About five minutes later there was an insanely loud clap of thunder (even though we didn't see a flash) and there was a collective scream and dash into the house moment, which then led to huge puddles on the kitchen floor ;)  Of course everyone was now cold, so they requested hot cocoa... silly kids!  They sipped cocoa while playing monopoly.  I *love* that the four kiddos played all night long without any TV, video games, etc.
  • The next morning, we made pretzels!  First time we'd tried this.  The process was fun, but need to find a better recipe.
  • A was curled up on the couch reading a Clementine book, giggling at a friend's antics.  Clearly she & I share the "book gene." On a random side note: her tested reading level is very high, which makes it tough to find current "fun" books for her to read; we've come up with the guideline that weekday reading needs to be in her level, and weekends are for fun (as long as she's getting enough AR points during the week).  The Little House series is on her short list, and we'll also be pulling my Trixie Belden books out of the attic soon!
  • We celebrated a friend's 35th birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese this past weekend.  You know how fun it is to inform your children that they're coming along for one of Mommy& Daddy's friends?!  Yes, we had a ball
  • No specific photo, but we've been getting pounded with bands of showers from Hurricane Ingrid.  It made landfall about 100 miles south, but we've still been under flash flood warnings.We had one small leak in our bedroom (this is what happens when the wind is blowing hard enough to make it rain sideways) but thankfully had no other issues.