Monday, October 31, 2011

Motivation Monday

No movement on the scale this week. I'm okay with that. Tomorrow I go back to putting great effort into better eating a la portion control and non processed foods. Mostly portion control, since portion control and frequent exercise seem to be the keys for weight loss for me. My goal is to lose at least 20 pounds by the end of the year. I have felt so much better lately that I can't wait to see what hopping back on the smarter eating habits bandwagon will do. 

This afternoon I headed to Zumba for the second Monday in a row. Last week I pushed myself pretty hard on the cardio machines and today in Zumba I could tell a difference just from last week. I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am about that. I got some excellent weight training sessions in as well, and I had the sore muscles to prove it. It felt awesome, as odd as that sounds. 

I took the kids trick or treating tonight on base. Robert stayed home to hand out candy. It was a great night for trick or treating, not too cold or windy. We didn't walk terribly far, the kids were happy with making one big loop around our friends' neighborhood on base. The kids aren't that crazy about candy anyway, so they are in it more for the experience and hanging out with their friends than anything else. But any movement is good movement, especially with the smell of Kit Kats in the air. 

Things aren't always what they seem.

Friday night was the Fall Festival at our local Y. I volunteered months ago to help and found myself in charge of the cake walk when I arrived on Friday. A cake walk, if you've never heard of one (and I was surprised how many people had not) is basically walking around in a circle to music. When the music stops you stand on a number on the floor and a number is pulled out of a bowl. If you are standing on the number pulled, you win! Normally you win an entire cake, but since all the goodies were donated, we had lots of cupcakes, cookies, brownies and things of that nature.

At first, there weren't too many people participating. There was a lot going on outside too, and the weather was holding at pleasantly cool and breezy. When we actually developed the need to make a line, we tried to make it as fair as possible. After trying a couple different ways to do that, we formed a line. After every round, all the participants would leave the floor and line up. That way any new players were the first ones to be in the new round.

For the most part it worked well. The main complication came when people were heading to line up at the back of the gym. Some parents and kids walked through the middle of the cake walk, even when it was in progress, and it got a little confusing when the music stopped and we told the players to stand on a number.

The only other situation we had involved a boy - I'm going to guess his age at around 12 or so - who was taller and heavier than most of the other kids. When he'd come into the gym, he wouldn't wait in line for the next round. He'd just jump into the game.

Other than me, all of the volunteers involved with the cake walk were from the local high school. Several times, they asked him to wait for his turn in line. He would start to walk away, but then apparently jump back in when they weren't paying attention. We were allowing families with more than one child to let each child have a number, so at first no one realized what was happening.

Once we did, we kept our eye on this kid. Then I saw him jump out of line and bump off a smaller kid who was standing on a number. I went up to the bigger kid and explained that he would need to wait his turn, that since no one had to wait more than one round without playing he would have plenty of chances to play and win.  He sneered at me and turned his back to me.


I started to walk around to face him, but he turned around again. I could tell this was going nowhere quickly, so I put my hand on his arm and leaned a little closer and told him that he could either play nicely and fairly, which involved waiting his turn and not shoving smaller kids around, or he would have to sit out and watch all his friends play.

His response? "I can't hear you" and he shook my hand off his arm.

My response? "You obviously can, and if you want to stay in here and participate, you'll stop behaving this way. If not, I'll walk you out of here myself."

He walked off.

The mom of the kid he shoved off a number walked up to me and told me thank you for speaking to him. Apparently, the bigger kid was being difficult wherever he was and she was fed up and just about to find a manager because no one else seemed to be saying anything to him.

Oh boy.

A few minutes later, he was back. Since I was standing by the entrance, I reminded him that he had to follow the rules or he'd have to leave. When I noticed that he was behaving nicely, I made a point to walk over and tell him that I'd noticed and that I appreciated it. He looked stunned that I was saying something nice to him. That made me feel a little sad for this kid.

At the end of the night, I was heading to my car and I saw him sitting on a bench outside the Y. He looked upset so I walked over and asked him if he was okay. He shook his head no. I asked him if I could do anything to help. He shook his head no. I asked him if he wanted to talk about it. He shook his head no. I asked him if he wanted me to leave and he didn't say yes or no. So I asked him if it would be okay if I sat beside him for a while. He nodded. I was surprised.

I was even more surprised to see that he was crying. I put my hand on his back and patted it for a second. Then a lady walks up (I think she was his foster mom) and asks him what was wrong. He points to the window, where the balloon guy was making something for someone. Apparently, he wanted a balloon animal but the guy told him he was getting ready to leave and was doing his last balloon creation. The recap of the issue from his foster mom upset him even further and he moved from the bench to the sidewalk and began to sob.

I asked if I could do anything to help, and she said that he needed space or things would continue to escalate.

I felt so sad for this kid. Sad that he felt being mean to others was the only way to protect himself, sad that he was heartbroken over not getting a balloon animal, sad that this is probably way more common than I have any idea about.

Later on, Tucker tells me that this kid called him a baby that night and also that this was the kid that had gotten Tucker so upset that he didn't want to go to the Y for a while a few months back by being mean to him and teasing him. And that just made me even more sad for this kid.

So, I told Tucker about what had happened that night - both the bullying and the situation outside the Y. I told Tucker that he was lucky to have the life he has and that not everyone is that lucky.

Tucker's response was to ask me if this kid could come and live with us so that he could have a good life too and would be nicer and happier.

I explained that it wasn't that simple, and that maybe a better solution was that we could all be more understanding when people were mean to us. They may have all sorts of things going on in their lives that we don't know about, and the best thing we could all do is to be really nice, even when it's hard and we don't want to be.

Tucker's response to that? "Do you think we could find someone to make a balloon animal for him and take it to him? Would that a nice thing to do, Mom?"

"Yes, Tucker" I replied while my eyes teared up. "That would be a very nice thing to do."

Sometimes this kid of mine just blows me away.

I just wish a solution for kids like this would be that simple.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writers Workshop - 22 Things I've Done

1. Loved and lost

2. Recovered from #1, even when I wasn't sure it was possible.

3. Gone to a drive in movie theater as an adult

4. Eaten dessert first

5. Seen the sunrise from a beach on the East Coast and the sunset from a beach on the West Coast.

6. Driven on the autobahn

7. Gotten in a fist fight

8. Been robbed at gunpoint

9. Danced like no one was watching

10. Gotten divorced

11. Been in a car accident

12. Kept a secret

13. Shoveled horse poop

14. Made a complete jerk of myself

15. Cried with joy and laughed with relief

16. Changed a tire

17. Slept in a castle

18. Read the last page before I read the book

19. Avoided all things Bieber like the plague

20. Maxed out weight machines at the gym

21. Gotten my Masters Degree

22. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year's Eve in London

Another great writing prompt from Mama Kat!
Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Practical or lazy?!?

This morning, I got up and washed my face, brushed my teeth, and made our bed.


It has come to my attention over the last decade or so that I do not really care for housework.  I'll do it, but it certainly isn't with a Disney Princess cheerful attitude.

I love the way my house looks all shiny, polished, vacuumed, mopped, and dusted but very rarely are all those things done at the same time.

Not helping my attitude is the fact that I can get one room done, walk out of it, come back a few minutes later and it looks like I never even touched it. I miss the days when I could clean my house and it would stay clean until I messed it up. I struggle at times to accept those days are long gone, but I'm not willing to become obsessive about always having a clean house either.

I want the kids to remember their childhoods as the best times of their lives, not by how upset I was about not having a perfect house. But on the flip side, I want them to realize that cleaning a house takes effort and  there's no such thing as a house cleaning fairy that swoops in while they are sleeping to do it for them. 

...which circles right back to my search for balance...

Anyway, as I was making the bed today I found myself thinking, "Why am I doing this?" 

I mean, I know the answer. I make the bed because it's important to Robert that the bed be made. If it were up to me? It might and it might not get made up every morning. 

Oh, who am I kidding? I refuse to use a flat sheet because then I can just throw the comforter over the top of the bed and call it made.  Yes, I'm aware that's just sad...or efficient, depending on how you choose to look at it.

I have to admit, the bed looks much nicer when it's made up.In fact, it makes the whole bedroom look nicer. But in the back of my mind is a tiny, annoying voice pointing out that the bed is just going to get messed up again tonight so why bother. I hear that same voice and argument about opening curtains and blinds too. Harrumph. Daylight and sunshine are overrated sometimes. 

Open them shut them shut them....make the bed, do the dishes, do the laundry, dust, vacuum, sweep, mop...

Sigh. Where are the forest animals to whistle my happy little tune?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Motivation Monday

Guess what? Today I felt actual motivation for the first time in....well, a while. ::happy dance!::

My workout yesterday went really well and today I made it to Zumba. Even better than that, I made it through Zumba with ease. Much better than the last time I went.

I credit remembering to take my iron pills. I've had trouble with my iron levels for years, but low iron hasn't ever affected my health (other than making me tired) before this go round.

Last week I did manage to work out five times (yay I met my goal) and lost a pound to boot. Not too bad, really considering all that was going on.

Tomorrow I circuit train which I'm excited about because I have really, really missed doing serious weights.

A friend of mine invited me to go with her to a Zumba certification class in early December. If I really hit the cardio hard between now and then (and get clearance from my doctor), I'm going to give it a try. How cool would it be to be Zumba certified?!!?!? Pretty darn cool, I think!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Word of the Day is Caution

Caution comes in handy. Standing next to a busy highway, I would hope that caution and a healthy dose of common sense would keep you from sauntering across. Pulling out at Mach 10 onto a road and then going 15 miles under the speed limit also does not show caution.

If you've noticed I'm leaning towards tales of vehicular caution, you are correct and it ties directly into my point today.

And yes, I have a point today.

About 11 years ago, Mom and I were driving to the 90th birthday party of a friend of the family. This party was way out in the country, so it was a pretty long drive.

Mom was driving and I was riding shotgun. We came to a caution light at a three way stop and all lights were flashing red. So, naturally, Mom stops. Not three seconds later, someone slams into us from the rear, knocking our car out into the middle of the road.

Everyone was fine, even though the people in the car behind us got completely hysterical and not in a "Gee, are you guys okay" kind of way. We called the accident into the police and requested an ambulance since one of the passengers in the other car hopped out and ran across the road shouting, "I'm knocked out! I'm knocked out!" Yeah, we didn't really get that either.

When the police and ambulance got there, they took one look at the cars (we had moved our car safely off to the side of the road by then) and tried to make all of us go to the hospital to get checked out. Mom and I politely declined, all of them went. I heard the EMT say that this was the third accident scene he'd been to where these people were involved. So either they were really, really bad drivers or they were hoping for a huge insurance payout of some sort. If that's the case, it would probably be a better idea if they were the rear-endees and not the rear-enders. But I digress.

Since then, I've always slowed down at caution lights. I stop at the red ones and slow down at the yellow ones...which if I remember the drivers ed booklet correctly is what you are supposed to do. You just never know when some crazy fool is going to come barreling through.

Yesterday, I was heading back home from Sam's and needed to stop at the commissary for a couple things for Tucker's party. On base, I'm vigilant about observing the speed limit because security forces will get you in a heart beat.

On the weekend, most of the base stoplights turn into flashing caution lights. So, as I approached one flashing yellow, I slowed down. I didn't stop. The guy behind me lays on the horn. Umm..okay then. I look in the rear view mirror and he's all hand gestures and yelling face. So I make a motion or two of my own and motion him around. If he's in that much of a hurry, let him get the ticket.

He passes me angrily (trust me, this guy was pissed) and then...uh oh...we are both heading to the commissary. He blows through a couple stop signs in the commissary parking lot. I park a few cars up from him and see him stomp into the commissary.

I get my cart and see him standing in the fruit section. So I walk over and say, "You know, it wasn't necessary to be so rude."

It takes him a second to figure out why I'm speaking to him and then he starts yelling. At me. In the commissary. I'll skip the details, but the gist of the conversation was that he claimed you don't slow down for yellow lights, I disagreed, and then he yelled some more and stomped off leaving everyone one around us staring with their mouths open. Did I mention he was yelling? Like, really, really loudly?

Now normally, something like this would have me so angry I would be unable to form coherent sentences OR I'd burst into tears. For whatever reason, I was calm and non phased.

Oh, right...I was calm because you are supposed slow down for a yellow flashing light. Even though no one in this regional area seems to agree.

It took about five minutes for the adrenaline/bravado/righteous indignation to wear off and then I realized what a non-cautious, unintelligent thing that was to do even if I was in public.

But never fear. I came home and gave myself a stern lecture about caution and how and when to use it. I'm also grounded and have to go to bed early.

Super Mario Super Party

Tucker's birthday party was today. This was one hectic week, all things considered. My mom and her husband were visiting, I had picked up several full shifts at the Y, I was volunteering in Sara's classroom and I had to get everything ready for the party.

But here it is, the end of the week, and we all survived. The party went beautifully. Because I got so many of my ideas from different blogs off the internet, I wanted to do a blog entry about what we did in case it might help out someone else.

Food: we kept it pretty simple. Veggies and dip, a fruit tray, cheese and crackers and then we served pizza.

Decorations: We ordered the basic party pack from Birthday Express. This included a tablecloth, plates, place mats, cups, napkins, balloons, forks and spoons. This is what the table looked like:

We played several games. 

Pin the mustache on Mario (the reason he looks funny is because I drew and colored him)
I forgot to take a picture before we pinned the first mustache . Oops.
Super Mario Bros. Bean Bag toss. We made this too. On a tri-fold display board we used a cd as a guide for how big to make the holes. We printed the characters off a website. The point value I made in Word using 72 point Bauhaus 93 font in bold. I found the bean bags (in mostly Mario colors) at Party City. The kids loved, loved, loved this. 

Coin toss: I bought a bag of 400 plastic coins at Party City, we tossed them up in the air, let them hit the floor and scatter, and the kid who picked up the most coins won a little prize. 

Egg race: Two plastic Easter eggs, two spoons, and the kids who weren't racing were the obstacle course. Priceless!

Dance game: We found this at Party City too. Each kid takes a card, makes up a dance move representing the picture on the card, and then all the guests try to string the routine together. So cute! Since I was playing too, I didn't get a picture of us playing this one, but here's a picture of the game.

Cake: I ordered the cake through a lady who works at the Y where I volunteer. She did an excellent job! Tucker still wanted some cupcakes, so I made red velvet ones with white cream cheese icing. I had tried making blue icing, but I couldn't get the color the correct shade.  

Gift bags: Wii Remote candy dispenser, Mario yo-yo, temporary tattoos, Halloween pencils, glow sticks, and some Mario fruit snacks.

The best part of the party, though, were the people who came - both kids and adults. We only let Tucker invite six kids and of those six, three didn't come. But those who did are good friends of ours and the parents stayed, which made it that much better. Especially when Tascha and Robert tried to take each other out in the egg race. And while I was doing the dance party with the kids, all the other grown ups were helping clean up, which was way above and beyond. I know it was Tucker's birthday, but today I feel like we were all given a gift. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I'm warning you now, this post is going to be about cake.


Let's talk red velvet cake. I've been playing around with a recipe for about two weeks now. Since I kind of stink at icing cakes, I tried baking the batter as cupcakes and in a pound cake pan. The pound cake pan was a good idea in theory, but the cake turned out too heavy or something. Cupcakes worked much better - they baked more evenly, somehow had a better flavor, were easier overall to manage. Plus, they were done in 20 minutes.

And Oh. My. Goodness. The cream cheese icing? Turned out beautifully every single time. I may be a lifetime convert.

Batch one: cupcakes. They were excellent except for the fact that I didn't have enough red food coloring and they turned out more of a reddish purple than a deep red. That did not deter us in the least from eating them.

Batch two: make in a pound cake pan. It looked so pretty, but the texture was a bit tough (I think I over beat the batter a bit) and the flavor was a little bland.

Batch three: cupcakes. I got distracted while they were baking, so half of them were a bit too done which seems to make them taste kind of bland. I also tried making blue cream cheese icing since I was going for Super Mario Bros. colors. The icing was way too pale blue (if just as yummy) which made the cupcakes look like sunburned smurfs. I gave most of them away and then (and this will appall my mother) even threw some of them away.

Batch four: cupcakes. Last chance before the party. Friday night at 10 pm I start the process. The wet ingredients looked like some sort of modern art painting.

Somehow I managed to get this batch the right shade of red and the right amount of done. This is what they looked like:

They were pretty doggone good, but I gotta say, I think I'm done with red velvet for a while.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just a thought...

I'm watching a show on Discovery ID called Deadly Women. I'm only half listening, but they are talking about a woman who kills her significant others for insurance money. First husband name? Norman. Second husbands name? Robert. While I don't kill my mates, I did divorce the first one (who was named Norman). Robert better hope I don't start hanging out anyone named Clarence.

And as a totally unrelated side note, any time I hear the name 'Clarence' I immediately think of Clarence Carter and the song "Strokin'".

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writers Workshop - A recipe that went all kinds of wrong.

I love to bake. I like to cook, but cooking is not my passion. I favor quick, healthy, easy meals that do not send echos of Rachel Ray bouncing back and forth in my brain.

**Nothing against Rachel Ray, her voice just loops in my head in a most unpleasant way. Yum-O!**

Since Robert spent so much time in the military, he'll pretty much eat anything - lucky for me! He also has a decreased sense of smell and taste which might just help that out a teensy bit.

One day I was making pancakes with Bisquick and I noticed a recipe on the back of the box. The recipe was for a cheeseburger casserole. Hey - Robert likes Bisquick, Robert likes cheeseburgers. I'll make this!

I followed the directions on the box, talked it up nice and yummy for him. Pulled it out of the oven, slapped it on a plate and waited for what I was sure would be the, "This is really good, thanks" comment.


Nor did he want more.

Hey, I'm a big girl. I can take it. So I ask him, "Didn't you like this?"

**long pause**


No. No he didn't like it. In fact, he asked very quietly and politely that I never offer this particular meal to him again.

So I tasted it.

Even though I had followed directions faithfully, it was sort of a soggy, doughy mess. The flavor was pretty good. But the texture and consistency? Not appealing. And it was kind of a uniformly grey color. If you've ever seen Better Off Dead, it wasn't too different from the mom's cooking. Definitely not Yum-O! I don't even think EVOO and fresh herbs could have helped. A strong margarita may have, but I didn't think about that until much later.

But, to Robert's great relief, I have never served it again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A post about nothing

If Seinfeld can make a TV show about it, I should be able to pull off a single blog post, right?

Here's the thing about nothing - it can actually be nothing, or it can be very much something. 

For example: 
Me: Kids, what are you doing?
Kids: (giggling while answering in unison) Nothing...
Further investigation reveals complete mayhem in their bedrooms...blankets and sheets off the mattress, pillows strewn about, and tiny little flushed faces indicating that there has been some significant bed jumping going on. One can practically hear the mattress groaning in pain.

Or this one:

Me: Whatcha doin'?
Robert: (warily)  Uh, nothing?
Me: Okay.
Robert: (after a short pause) Why?
Me: No reason. 
Robert: (radiating waves of doubt) Ooo-kay
Me: I love you.
Robert: No, really what do you want? (you can almost hear him thinking - 'please don't want to rearrange the furniture.')

Nothing. There's something in it for everyone.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Motivation Monday

Yeah, well.....

Today's post should be titled non motivated Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday....

You get the idea, right?

I volunteered at the Y all last week, but I didn't do nearly as well with workouts. We had something going on every night last week, so I didn't work out then either.

Seriously - all this free time I'm supposed to be having certainly has made me busy.

And as a result, I'm up another pound.


So this week, I am going to concentrate on balance. Balance as in finding a way to work exercise into my schedule at least five times a week.

Even as I say that, I'm not sure how that will work this week...I'm working two nights this week at the Y, volunteering on Friday at Sara's school, MOPS on Wednesday, Tucker's birthday party on Saturday, and Mom and her husband are coming to visit this week.

The kids are so tired from last week and weekend that they voluntarily went to bed early tonight. They were dissolving into tears over every little thing after school today, so I didn't feel up for the fight to get them the gym so I could go to Zumba today.

But a friend of mine told me about a Zumba certification class in early December, so now I have a goal to work towards.

Maybe I should park my car and ride my bike everywhere....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When the heck did this happen?!?

Right before we left Germany, we were lucky enough to book a session with Annie Pennington, photographer. She's an AF wife and mom, phenomenally talented, super nice, gorgeous inside and out, and just an all around great gal. My experience with professional photography until Annie consisted of studios such as Olan Mills, JC Penney, Sears, and Portrait Innovations...all of which delivered good pictures. Robert and I hired a photographer for our wedding, but I had to have a private investigator track him down to get my already paid for wedding pictures, so I don't like to think about that too much.

Annie shot us outside, just down the street from where we lived. The pictures on my banner? Annie Pennington. My favorite pictures of the kids of all time? Taken by Annie Pennington.

So I was beyond excited when not too long after we moved back to the States, Annie and her family moved back to Oklahoma. Our very own G Bob and G Sandy live in Oklahoma, so the idea was in my head that maybe one day we could do another session with her. Also in my head was that I would love to get more into photography 'one day' too.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. There I was, in Gatlinburg, innocently having dinner. I pulled my digital camera out of my purse to show Chris some pictures of the kids. A few minutes later, I pulled it out again to take a picture and (insert doom music here) the lens would not extend. No lens, no pictures. The camera wouldn't even let me review the existing pictures on the SD card because of a 'lens error'. I know what 'lens error' means. It means buy another camera.

So I started doing some research. I really wanted a more professional camera. Nothing hugely expensive because who wants to spend two grand on a camera and find out they are completely talent-less? Not this girl! No, sir! I talked it over with Robert after trying really, really hard to use his camera without getting frustrated. His camera didn't have hardly any of the features that my most recently expired camera had. It was kind of like having to start riding a bike everywhere after being used to driving everywhere - a hard step back to take.

This weekend, we went and looked at cameras and I ended up with a Cannon Rebel. Best Buy offered a decent package that included an extra lens, extra battery, and a camera bag. I also have two weeks to decide if I would like to keep it and I can spread the payments out over 18 months with no interest. I had already checked out a couple photography books so that a) I could know what I was actually looking at and  b) I'd have a better idea how to hopefully take good pictures.

Three clicks of the shutter after I got the camera out of the box and assembled, and I was in photographic love.

So today, we all went to the park and I took a ton of pictures - most of which got deleted, but I am learning. Some of them turned out okay. But now I have to figure out how to self edit the pictures, and then I  have to figure out how (or maybe more accurately where) to get the pictures printed.

From our session with Annie, I remembered she listed the printing company she uses on the CD packaging. Only problem with that is that I'm not sure where the CD is. Um...oops. No matter, I thought. I can just go to her website. Only problem with that is that her website no longer exists. I found her old site, but the link on it links to a site that only has her name and a short article on wedding photography. Oh. No. That's okay...we're FB friends, so I go to her info page. No mention of her photography business, which used to be listed there.  I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit heart broken. I mean, I'm sure that if she isn't doing sessions right now, it's the best for her and her family (which I totally **sob** understand), but it's a bummer.

But what doesn't kill you and blah, I'm going to try and figure it out on my own. And then I'll take a photography course or seven and actually learn some skills.  But, here are my two favorite pictures I took today...

I love my family!

I love this picture because it perfectly represents the kids relationship right now. T is trying to accomplish something and S is off in lala land blocking him and not even aware (or concerned) the she's the cause of his frustration. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A history of curls

Sara, like many girls with stick straight hair, is in love with the idea of curly hair.

When school started this year, we bought some foam curlers. Sara's hair is curl resistant, so if we want the curls to stay in more than a couple of hours, her hair needs to be pretty damp when it's curled and it ideally needs to stay curled up overnight.

After doing this pretty regularly over the last two months, I'm finally getting the hang of it.

The kids had a birthday party today, so Sara wanted me to curl her hair last night. Here's what it looked like when I first took it down

Definitely curly!

Here's what it looked like when we first fluffed it out.

Usually it relaxes quite a bit after a couple of hours, but here's what it looked like after the birthday party, about seven hours after we took it down.

I think I may have finally figured it out. Tucker suggested today that we nickname her 'Curly'.

It's Preschool Pumpkin Patch Time

 Friday morning, Sara's preschool class went to a local farm for pumpkin picking and other farm fun.
 After picking out their pumpkins, the kids got to ride rides and go crazy in the play areas. Then we all ate lunch at the picnic area and went to see the pig races.
The only complaint is that we had to leave before the kids were ready. Heck, I could have spent all day there myself!  It was such a beautiful day and so much fun!

I borrowed Robert's camera, but forgot to check the batteries which of course died mid fun farm visit. Isn't that just the luck?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bummer, man.

I know that over the last year or so especially I've talked a lot about friendships and such. While I find people endlessly fascinating, often they leave me scratching my head and wondering what in the heck....

Tonight is one of those times and I'm choosing my blog to vent about it because a) I can and b) it might save me from making an ass out of myself.

In a nutshell, here's the story: I wanted to throw a surprise party for a friend of mine for her birthday. Lately, she's seemed a little down and I wanted to do something really nice. After checking with her hubby about a month ago to make sure that he didn't already have something planned, I started trying to set this little shindig up.

The guest list was a bit short.She works and I don't, so I don't really know her other friends very well. I know she tends to keep work separate from her private life, which makes that list even shorter.  Fair enough. I invited everyone I could think of or find on her Facebook page.  Out of the invitees, two were going to be out of town, two accepted, and two weren't sure.

Tonight I find out that only one other person is coming. I am so disappointed. I tried really hard to put this together and I feel like I have totally failed.

And what do you even say in a situation like this anyway? Sorry, friend. I invited others but no one showed?

Okay, wait.

I'm upset and being a little unfair. I understand that life gets crazy. I get it, I do. But come on. If you've known the plans for several weeks and have said you were coming, what's the deal with bailing three days prior?

I just feel terrible for my friend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Baking Adventures

I got it in my head to try and make a red velvet cake. I looooooove red velvet cake. Well, I love really good red velvet cake. If it's over cooked  nor not moist enough, it's pretty....blech.

Of course I didn't have some enough red food coloring. Red food coloring, as you can imagine, is a pretty important ingredient of red velvet cake. After a trip to the commissary and then to Walmart (for the things I forgot at the commissary), I had what I needed.

But then I didn't have enough time.

Not my red velvet cupcakes, but don't they look  yummy?!
So today I had time and I thought, 'hey! Let's make a cake." I tried to get Sara on board, but she wanted to ride her bike so we did that for about an hour. Which was awesome!

Shortly before the bus picked her up, I started getting all the ingredients together. Guess what I can't find? The two bottles of red food coloring I bought on Saturday. I called R at work to see if he might know where they are. He did not.

Drat. I've already mixed the wet ingredients in one bowl (minus the food coloring) and the dry in another. Like it or not, I'm kind of committed to making some kind of cake.

Interesting fun velvet cake batter without the red is a kind of purplish/grey. It does not look yummy, no matter how yummy it tastes.

I found a tiny bit of red in the multicolor box I use for mixing icing colors, so I dumped that in. It changed the batter from purplish/grey to red-ish. Better than nothing.

So I toss the batter in cupcake pans and bake away.

Man did they turn out delicious! Now all I have to do is make the cream cheese icing and find someone to give most of them to.

Many thanks to Food Network for the awesome recipe.

Motivation Monday/Tuesday/When I remember to post it

***It was a pretty busy holiday weekend, which led to Saturday feeling like Sunday, Sunday feeling like Saturday, and Monday just feeling plain odd. I had the Monday post mostly written, but I was engrossed in a book and forgot to post my Monday post on Monday. Lucky for me, my posting/not posting has no real effect on how the world turns. But I do sincerely apologize.***

No change on the scale.  But I only got a workout in on Monday and Friday. I did active things off and on through the week and I was so busy that I kept moving all week and weekend long, but dedicated workouts? Not so much.

However, with my iron level on the rise, at least I don't feel like walking to the mail box requires a similar effort to, say, climbing Mount Everest. Yes, it was that low. Yes, I know that's really dangerous. I'm doing everything possible to fix this...even if it means having to dive into a delicious, thick, juicy yet lean steak once a week or so. It's a hard life at times.

Friday I thought it would be a GREAT idea do do some serious weight lifting. After I got my cardio in, I did three sets of chest presses with 20 lb dumbbells, three sets of chest flys with 15 lb dumbbells, three sets of skull crushers with 15 lb dumbbells, three sets of military presses with 15's, three sets of shoulder raises with 15's, and three sets of tricep extensions with 15's. Oh, and three sets of bicep curls with 20's.

And then I couldn't move without pain until today.

I talked to Dad on Sunday and we had a chat about frustration and 'healthy living' changes. I wonder if results will ever happen fast enough for me. Probably not. But I have to keep trying. I thought eating healthy and working out would get easier over time. In one way that's true (it's usually a part of my every day routine) and in one way that's not true (because it's still difficult and sometimes a real struggle). But all I can do is keep on keeping on. Eventually, something is going to click that has not clicked yet. And when that happens, you'll hear my whoops of joy across the land.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It was pretty much a perfect weekend

After my recent embarrassing little iPod incident, I've decided to make more of an effort to be technologically um....aware. Proficient would be a bit of a stretch after my half decade or so of ignorant bliss, so I think aware is a good compromise. And achievable.

So this is my first post after voluntarily choosing to switch to the updated/upgraded Blogger interface.

Yay me! Or something.

Moving on....

Friday, the school district we live in had a teacher workshop day, so the kids were mine. Alllll mine. Muahhhhahahaaa! We had planned a play date that afternoon with some kids up the street, but by Friday at noon, the plans had grown from four kids to eight.

Growing up, there were no kids my age on our street, which was kind of a bummer sometimes. So knowing we'd have kids and live where there would be lots of other kids made me really happy. Of course, then that whole anti-social, hate to be outside thing popped up, but I'm working on it.

Friday was proof. I think I was happier than the kids were. Everyone got along and played well together. It was the least Tucker and Sara have bickered, like, ever. And while there were dramatic moments courtesy of our Resident Diva, she recovered pretty quickly and mostly accepted reasonable solutions.

The play date turned into dinner and both the kids were asleep by the time I tucked them in. I hope everyone else's kids slept just as well.

Saturday, we did errands and then headed to the Circus. Last time I went to any circus, I only remember hot, smelly, long, and kinda boring. This time, I really enjoyed it. Granted, it was a little warm inside the tent, but all the performers did a great job and it moved along quickly enough that the kids didn't get bored. It was  two hour show complete with 20 minute intermission, but there were tons of acts and they were all great. Robert and the kids even got to ride an elephant. I passed.

Today we didn't really do much but hang out together.While all weekend was completely awesome, I think that was my favorite part. Oh, and Tucker decided to start riding his bike minus the training wheels, which he mastered in less than 10 minutes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writers Workshop: What does this mean?

They just aren't that into you.

Anyone remember that episode of Sex and the City? If not, the theory of "he's just not that into you" turned into a book (which I didn't read) and then a movie (which I did see and was...meh).

This is so, absolutely, positively, utterly true. Not just about dating relationships, either. Any relationship fits.

I have spent what would probably add up to years and years waiting for people to make an effort be part of my life. Heck, sometimes I was happy for a hint of effort. No worries, mate! I'll do all the heavy lifting. Even imagined effort would work for the right person.

After I split up from my first husband, I made a concentrated effort to go out with anyone that asked me. I figured that since I had made so many bad relationship choices by thinking I knew what I was looking for that going out with what I didn't think I was looking for might actually work. I joined a dating website, and the adventures began.

I went on some great dates. I went on some awful dates. I got stood up. I heard a bunch of lame excuses. I learned how to spot a married guy in an introductory email. I met a lot of nice guys. I met a lot of not so nice guys.

But the most important thing I learned was that if a man was interested, he would call - no matter how busy or crazy work was, no matter who he had just broken up with, no matter what his friends thought. If he was interested, he'd call. And if he didn't call, he wasn't really interested.

What has taken me so much longer to learn is that this theory is just as valid on friendships.


That's not entirely accurate. I've known it for a while. It's just taken me a long time to accept it.

Let's be honest, it sucks when you like someone more than they like matter what the relationship.  But even if the effort has a five year break between tries, effort will be made. And if it isn't, my advice is this: keep an open mind and an open heart, but don't see effort that isn't there. In the long run, you'll be a whole lot happier.

Writing workshop prompt by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Defining busy

For me, today, busy is this:

7:45  - leave the house
8ish   - drop off Tucker at school: fighting traffic, other drivers, and driving idiots
8:15ish - walk Sara into her preschool, get her signed in and settled.
8:30ish - leave preschool, pop into McD's for an unsweetened iced tea. It's going to be one of those days, dontcha know?
9:00 - arrive at first stateside MOPS meeting, complete with open mind and heart
11:00 - sneak reluctantly out of MOPS during craft time (dang it) in order to be able to pick Sara up on time.
11:20 - buy Sara lunch because I forgot to pack it before I left the house this morning.
11:30 - pick up Sara and discover she managed to skin up both her knees at school today. Be very proud that even though she is limping, she doesn't ask to be carried.
11:49 - arrive home and get Sara ready for her afternoon preschool while encouraging her to eat her lunch. Listen calmly as she throws a fit over wanting to be a 'car' kid over a 'bus' kid. Solve this issue by taking the bus tag off her back pack. Do a silent 'Thank you, God' dance that the issue was that easy to fix.
11:57 - walk Sara out to the bus.
12:15 - sit down to check email, listen to voice mail, and figure out how to make the schedule for the rest of the day work.

Here's what I've come up with.....

It's now 12:44. I need to go to Sam's and return something I bought, then buy more sliced apples and some Legos for the kids' Christmas presents.  I've eaten, so I will not be tempted by the food there (yeah, okay).
By 2:30, I need to be at Sara's morning preschool to pick up something.
By 3:00, I need to be home to meet Tucker's bus.
By 3:15, Tucker and I need to be back at school to pick up Sara.
By 3:45, the kids get dropped off at the bible study and I stay to help with snack time.
By 4:30, I head to the library, then home to change clothes and hopefully, hopefully make it to Zumba for the 5:30 class.
5:30 to 6:30 - ZUMBA, baby.  If I survive that:
by 6:45, home, where the kids and Robert should be eating dinner.
by 7:00, bed time routines started (when does Tucker do homework tonight, YIKES!) and Survivor.
by 8:00, kids in bed and I'm thinking I will be too.

The only thing that scares me? If just one thing goes wrong this afternoon, everything is going to blow up in my face.

So, yeah. I think today I can safely say I'm busy. How do working Moms DO this? HOW?!?!?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What to do instead of housework...

I miss my camera. ::deep sigh::

Moving on....

I woke up this morning feeling queasy and therefore it was difficult to get out of bed. I'm not really sure where the queasy came from since I forgot (again) to take my iron pill before I went to sleep.

Unless....dinner last night was chicken I bought last week, but looked, smelled, and tasted okay. Still, you can't be too careful with poultry. We used it by the sell by date, so I think it's just my mind playing tricks on me. That and thinking about the food poisoning episode I wrote about last week might be messing with my head. Blech!

Either way, this morning, I dropped the T man off at school and came back home. I did four loads of laundry yesterday and it needs to be put away. A friend of ours dropped off a box of clothes for the kids yesterday, so I need to wash and sort that too. And since I'll be in the kids rooms, I should go ahead and switch out summer and fall/winter clothes. And dust. And vacuum.

But what am I doing? Blogging.


You're welcome. heehee!

Tucker's birthday party is in about three weeks. It's Mario themed, of course.  While my original party ideas have been scaled back to meet time and budget limits, I did manage to come up with what I hope will be a really fun party.

At first, I wanted to figure out a way to put various Mario scenes on the walls. You can purchase re-usable wall decals, but that gets expensive quickly. Like, really quickly. And since I'm not particularly artistic, I knew I wouldn't be able to draw scenes on poster board in time. Plus, the thought of all that responsibility being on my shoulders was a little too overwhelming on top of everything else. And Tucker tends to be a bit.....anal of a perfectionist about all things Mario. We are just going to have to make do. I'm sure it won't matter once the party starts anyway (and since he didn't know what I originally wanted to try and do).

One of the games we'll be playing is "Pin the Mustache on Mario". To do this, I copied/drew the Mario from the invitations on a piece of poster board.  I had started coloring it, but hadn't finished. So that's what I did when we got back home today. It turned out okay. I'd post a picture, but my camera isn't working. I'm pretty proud of it, considering my lack of true artistic ability. It will be interesting to see what Tucker says about it when he comes home from school today.

After finishing the poster, I cut out mustaches, which turned out really cute. Sara decided she wanted her mustache to be either light pink or light green, so she used the template we made and cut out mustaches in the colors she wanted. They turned out really cute and I wished for at least the seventh time today that my camera was working.

Next on the creative agenda? The target for the bean bag toss. I'm still coming up with ideas for that one, but I'm pretty sure the Mario characters should figure in there somehow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Motivation Monday

I'm actually posting this on a Monday!


First the bad news. All that frat boy eating I did last weekend and the weekend before? Yeah, well, it showed up as a three pound weight gain this morning. Well, that and the complete lack of daily workouts. (Only two days last week - shame on me! Shame!)


I even peed, showered, and weighed again to make sure. Yep, three pounds up. But - I've got no one to blame but myself.

Yesterday involved a trip to Sam's Club. I sent the rest of the family across the street for frozen yogurt while I wholesale shopped. And I resisted the HUGE bag of peanut butter M&M's which, in my humble opinion, is the best thing ever invented...even with their artificial colors, flavors and high fructose corn syrup. That right there? Should have been worth at least a pound on the scale. (oh wait...what if it was?!?! Yikes!) Moving on...

Interestingly enough? Our Sam's Club carries Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero, but no Pepsi Max, which is Robert's favorite thing to drink.

I'm feeling a little sore today from our workout yesterday. My biceps are slightly achy and my butt is reminding me at every given opportunity of my 10 mile bike ride. Serves me right!

I did make it to the 4:30 Zumba class today. I even participated. At the end of the class someone asked me if I come to Zumba often. I said I used to, but I'm determined to get back in the habit. She said the same and mentioned she looked at the clock 30 minutes in and thought about leaving.


But neither of us did. So that should count for something, right?

My weight loss goal for next week is to lose the three pounds I've gained back.

See you next week!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hello, Fear, my old friend

Either yesterday or the day before, Robert asked me if I was thinking of riding my bike to the gym on Sunday for our workout. 

Ummmmm....well, I am now?!?

I'm mentioned a time or twenty-seven that my workouts have really been a struggle lately. Part of it is almost certainly lack of proper motivation. Let's face it, the rut I'm in currently may actually be big enough to camp in. 

Last weekend in the beautiful mountains of Tennessee? Not once did I think 'ooooh...we should go hiking or walking or....anything'. 

Not good. And not like me at all the past couple years. 

I thought a lot about that on the way back to Illinois. Is it really just a motivation issue or is it something else?

I didn't really come up with any sort of answer.  I mean, when I work out now, I know I have to listen to my body...but what if my mind is playing tricks on my body and I just think I need to stop/slow down when I really don't. What if I'm taking the easy way out? Stranger things have happened. 

Or...maybe I just needed to take a break from working out. Which, if I'm totally honest with myself, I've kinda already been doing. I'm soooooo much slower on cardio equipment these days. I get tired so easily. I feel like I'm rolling backwards downhill and can't stop. 

So today, I got on my bike and rode to the Y. On the way there, I stopped twice: once to adjust my backpack and iPod, the other because the chain was making a noise that sounded like it could mean trouble. The whole time I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it.   

But I did make it. I went super duper slowly sometimes, but I made it. Even though I was tired, by the time I was ready to leave the Y, I was ready to ride back. And the ride back went much better, much faster, and much easier. And, I only stopped (briefly) for stop signs. 

And I realized on my bike ride home that fear is holding me back just as much as lack of motivation or anything else. And that just will not do. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Today is the day

A couple weeks ago, I posted about how excited Sara was to be invited to a friend's birthday party.

That party is today. At 11.

Sara's first words yesterday morning? "Mooooooommmmmy....can I please go to Maya's birthday party YET?"

I mentally prepare myself for the next 30 hours before saying, "Tomorrow, sweetie. Maya's party is tomorrow."

Immediately Sara starts jumping up and down yelling, "YAY! YAAAAAAAAY!"


During the course of the day yesterday I agree to paint Sara's finger and toe nails, curl her hair, and let her wear a dress. Of course, out of that little deal I got a four year old who willingly took a bath, washed her hair, and managed to sit still for the nail painting and the rolling of her hair. It was pretty much a win win.

She even went to bed without protest when I pointed out that the sooner she goes to sleep, the sooner it will be Saturday - Party Day.

It worked. Don't judge.

Of course, around 2:30 this morning, there was the lightest tap, tap, tap on my shoulder and I heard Sara whisper, "Mommy?" All I had to say was, "It's still too early, Sara" and she actually went back to bed until the much more decent hour of 7:00 am.  Not too shabby.

Yesterday afternoon, the school nurse called me to tell me that while putting up blocks, Sara accidentally got smacked in the eye. Last night for sure I thought she would have a black eye, but this morning it just looks like she's wearing a tiny bit of eye shadow.

And she's awfully cute with her foam curlers in her hair and her princess nightgown.....

Too bad my camera isn't working.