Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Raspberry Pickin’

Todd’s mom has beautiful raspberry bushes in her backyard, and this morning she took Grace outside to pick some for breakfast. 


Grace was beyond thrilled and had such a sweet sense of awe about the tasty little berries. 


She has officially declared raspberries “Like, my most favorite fruit, mama!” (Move over, apples.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dolly’s Splash Country!

Today was a perfect day.  Actually, my idea of a “perfect” day is tubing down the lazy river with a floating cooler full of ice-cold Coke Zero, only stopping long enough for a snack of fresh-cut french fries.  But, THAT aside….Today was a perfect day!

008Grace had so much fun and she was SO BRAVE!  Today was definitely a milestone for her.  Our shy, hesitant little girl brazenly climbed stairs, waited patiently in line, and went down big slides all by herself!  She was so proud and felt like such a big girl! 

This was the best water park I have ever been to.  It was immaculate, beautifully landscaped, and conveniently designed for families.  Most of the employees are retired folk (with the exception of the lifeguards!) who seem to really love their jobs.  Even the sweet old lady stationed in the bathroom was smiling as she cleaned each stall after a person left.  We will be making Splash Country a summer tradition from now on!

We managed to keep ourselves from getting sunburned despite spending seven hours outside.  I attribute that to reapplying sunscreen like a dermatologist every hour.  The only exception was the part in my hair…who thinks to put sunscreen on your scalp? 

Grace was a real trooper and stayed happy most of the day.  In true Grace form, right after lunch, she announced that she was “tired and needed to rest.”  We went to our reserved lounge chairs where she proceeded to lay her headrest on the lowest level, cover up with her beach towel, pray and thank God for all the fun we’re having, and take a brief catnap.  After a while, she announced that she was ready to play, so off we went!  She repeated this procedure in mid-afternoon.  She also fell asleep briefly while floating down the lazy river.  That’s my girl! 

I just can’t say enough great things about this place.  Another thing we appreciated was the family-friendly atmosphere.  The music being piped through the speakers was tasteful and fun (mostly 50’s music).  The gift shops contained NO inappropriate t-shirts or souvenirs.  As a matter of fact, there were an abundance of Christian items throughout the park. 

Todd and I had a chance to go on a couple of adult slides while Grace’s grandmother (Nan) swam with her.  When Todd wanted to go down the crazy-scary slides, I bid him adieu and headed to the lazy river (anyone see a pattern here?) with Nan and Grace. 

Lunch was good, too.  They offered a delicious veggie burger, which made me happy.  Grace also drank this incredible banana slushie that was yummy.  The food is a bit overpriced, but I guess that’s true at all theme parks.  On our way home, we stopped at Little Caesar’s and picked up a couple of $5 pizzas for their supper, thus completing Todd’s idea of a perfect day!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  I found out it’s called Splash Country for a reason…and our camera is not waterproof.  Consequently, it stayed in our rented locker for most of the day.  But we made some great memories, and I’m so thankful that Grace wasn’t scared and was able to enjoy the water and attractions.

If you’re ever in the Tennessee area during the summer months, plan on checking out Dolly’s Splash Country!

Monday Milestones


This week has been a little hard, but I guess I’m still truckin’ along.  It hasn’t been easy to avoid the gas station snacks, fast food french fries, or cappuccino machines while we’ve been traveling.  To help with the temptation, I stocked up with plenty of fruit and rice cakes for the car and I’ve upped my intake of HMR protein shakes to keep me full and satisfied. 

I managed to get workouts in whenever I could, mainly the first part of the week before we left home. 

I lost one pound this week, and that brings my total to 53 pounds in 22 weeks.  I was also pleased to see my body fat percentage go down a bit and my muscle mass go up a bit.  Thanks, Jillian! 

There have been so many friends and family who have started doing The Shred after seeing how it has helped me, and that makes me so happy to know that others can literally feel my pain!  I never thought that in a MILLION years I would be a person who could inspire others to exercise.  For me personally, I feel that staying consistent with workouts has been the biggest influence on my weight loss.  It even influences me to stay on my eating plan because I don’t want all the sweat and pain to be annulled by eating butter and bacon.  (I feel like such a traitor to my Southern roots…).  Once I start trying to maintain my weight instead of losing, perhaps I’ll get reacquainted with some of my Paula Deen recipes on occasion! 

We’ve got lots of walking/outdoor activities planned for the week…Dollywood Splash Country on Monday, Dollywood on Wednesday, Turkey Creek shopping center on Friday, and walks around Cherokee Lake every morning.  The weather here is predicted to be gorgeous this week…mid-80’s for the high!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dinner With Family

After a long nap on Sunday afternoon (and a severe thunderstorm!), we drove about 20 minutes to Morristown to visit with Todd’s Aunt Lou.  We’re in the backseat of the car taking silly pictures to pass the time.


We had a delicious dinner at Cracker Barrel, then went to Aunt Lou’s house for a while to visit.


Grace was pretty hyper and entertained us by dancing and doing “tricks.”


After being cooped up in a car for a couple of days and acting a little stir-crazy in the house, she is going to LOVE spending tomorrow at a water park! 

Summer Trip

We’ve been on the road for the last couple of days, traveling to visit our relatives in Tennessee.  It’s a little cooler up here, thankfully!  When we left Texas on Friday, it was 103 degrees. 

We drove fourteen hours on Friday from Fort Worth, Texas to Gadsden, Alabama.  Grace did really well and actually slept for a little while thanks to this nifty kid’s travel pillow:


I usually don’t make spur-of-the-moment purchases, but Grace and I saw this at Target when we were picking up some travel snacks on Thursday.  She fell in love with it, and I figured if it helped her sleep, it was worth $14.99.  (She never slept on our recent road trip to Orange Beach because she couldn’t get in a comfortable position in her car seat.)  She took a nap with her new pillow and was in good spirits when we arrived at Nana’s house on Friday night.


Nana has acquired a teacup Chihuahua since our last visit, and this is how Grace reacted at first:


After a few minutes of realizing that the worst thing little Roxy would do is lick her, she had a blast playing with her!  Here is Grace sitting in Roxy’s bed and feeding her morsels of dog food, one at a time.


We woke up early on Saturday morning and drove across town for a morning visit with my aunt and uncle.  Grace immediately asked Uncle Don to take her outside to see the fishpond.  Then she came indoors and “read” a book to Aunt Sassy.


After a quick trip to the Magic Burger Drive-In for lunch, (where Todd enjoyed a Reece’s Cup Triple-Thick Milkshake while I poutingly sipped a Diet Pepsi), we headed north to Tennessee.  The drive was breathtakingly beautiful and it made us nostalgic about moving back to the East!  We arrived in Jefferson City, Tennessee in time to eat dinner with Todd’s mom.  Grace was so over being in the car by this point, and she was thrilled to finally be at our destination!


My mom-in-law and I rose early on Sunday morning for a brisk walk around Cherokee Lake, then we got dressed and worshiped in Todd’s childhood church.  We came home, took a few pictures in the backyard, ate lunch, and now everyone’s taking a nap!



Tonight we’re going to visit Todd’s aunt across town and eating dinner at Cracker Barrel.  Tomorrow we’re going to Dollywood’s Splash Country!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things I Love – Rice Cake Snacks


I’ve discovered a new snack that is totally addicting and not too terrible on the waistline.  Quaker Rice Cake Snacks.  Oh, man.  My favorite flavor is Ranch, but the Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream & Onion are excellent, too.  The other flavors are pretty good if you have a sweet tooth, but I’m more of a savory gal.

The only problem is stopping after a single serving!  I could literally sit down and eat the whole bag (which I did on my recent road trip to stay awake while driving).  When I eat it as a snack, I have to measure out one or two servings then put away the bag to keep myself from going overboard.  But at only 70 calories per (fairly large) serving, it’s hard to do too much damage with these tasty snacks!

For more Things I Love Thursday posts, visit The Diaper Diaries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Preschooler Quote(s) of the Day

Grace kept me laughing today and I had to share a few funny quotes!

[Said while picking her nose]:  “My Mimi told me to NEVER put my finger in my nose because it’s gross!”


[We were at the crowded playground and she was hesitant about playing.]

Me:  “Why don’t you go climb up to the slide?”

Grace:  “Hmmm….well, actually, I thought about it….but there’s just too many kids!”


[Conversation in the car coming home from Wal-Mart]

Grace:  “I’m so silly, mama!”  *giggles*

Me:  “Why are you silly?”

Grace:  “Well, actually, Granddaddy called me a ‘wiggleworm’ because I didn’t sit still in Granddaddy’s church!  That means I’m silly!”

Sidenote:  I thought she did pretty well in Granddaddy’s church.  She managed to sit through all the worship services we attended on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Youth Camp (about 10 total).  Not bad considering she’s still attending the children’s care at our home church.  She mostly flipped through her Bible or fell asleep.  I think Granddaddy’s ‘wiggleworm’ comment was referring to a service at Youth Camp where Grace wanted to go sit with my parents instead of me.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see her moving around constantly despite their warnings to be still.  I gave her the “mom glare with eyebrow raise” a couple of times to no avail.  I ended up taking her out and disciplining her for disobeying her grandparents.


[Conversation while getting ready for naptime]

Me:  “Grace, it’s time to go to the bathroom before naptime.”

Grace:  “Oh, boy!  Can I use my potty?  PLEASE?”

Me:  “Um, yes.  Of course you can.”

Grace:  [Rushes upstairs, throws her arms around the potty and plants a big, wet kiss on the toilet seat]  “Potty, I love you SO MUCH!  You are so sweet!”

Me:  [Stares in stunned silence trying to figure out what the potty did to deserve such affection]

Works For Me – Soap Scum Remover


I’m embarrassed to admit that I have allowed soap scum to build on our master shower glass for too long.  Don’t get me wrong…I clean our shower.  I even use a homemade daily shower spray to keep it fresh.  But, over time the glass went from being completely clear to looking like frosted glass!

I tried every arsenal of cleaners in my utility room, but nothing touched the soap scum.  It’s like it was INSIDE the glass and I couldn’t reach it.  When our new realtor walked through the house and told us we needed to fix the problem, I hung my head in shame and called my mom…the Flylady’s BFF and personal publicist.

She suggested a concoction of straight Clorox bleach, Comet powdered cleanser, and a tough scouring pad.  She forgot to mention the gas mask.  Yes, I know this formula breaks all the rules of natural, chemical-free cleaning, but IT WORKS.  I opened the window of my bathroom so I could breathe and watched the soap scum easily disintegrate with minimal elbow grease.  After scrubbing for a minute or so, I rinsed with water and…voila!…clear, new-looking glass!

Thanks, mom.

For more works-for-me tips, visit We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Out With The Old, Part II

Helping my mom clean out her closets last week inspired me to do the same in my own home.  It wasn’t nearly as much fun doing it alone… Mom and I had so much fun laughing about what we actually thought was flattering in the 80’s.  (Hello shoulder pads!) 

I cleaned out my closets a while back when we first put our house on the market.  This week I’m mainly getting rid of anything I haven’t worn or used since then.  And I’m donating the clothes that don’t fit anymore and can’t be altered.  I’m determined to NOT need them again!

Now I have six garbage bags full of neatly folded clothes and linens, as well as a few baby and maternity items I’m giving to a friend.  I went through all my sewing and cross-stitch supplies, reorganizing and condensing into large plastic bins.  Once I cleaned out my foyer closet, I had room to put all my sewing supplies in it to be within easy reach, and the closet still looks almost empty!  All the floors of my closets are empty, and everything looks nice and roomy.

We signed a contract with a new realtor last weekend, and he’s coming to take new pictures in a couple of days.  I still need to pull some weeds, touch up some paint, and clean a couple of spots on the carpet.  But the house looks nice, and hopefully this new realtor will help us find someone who will love it and want it for their family!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Milestones


I didn’t exercise as much this week because Mom and I always seemed to have plans first thing in the morning and we didn’t want to get up extra-early!  If memory serves me correctly, I think we only did our walk/Shred routine twice.  Then I hit it pretty hard on my own Saturday after I returned home.  I ate pretty well, with the exception of the day I drove home.  There’s something about a long road trip that makes me want to eat junk…I was having a hard time staying awake, which was the perfect excuse to eat all of my snacks plus some of Grace’s Ritz Bitz S’mores (oh.my.goodness), then stop for huge gas station cappuccinos every couple of hours.  Anyway, it was pretty depressing when I got home and added up my calories for the day…hence the tough workout on Saturday morning.

Overall, I lost a pound, which brings my total to 52 pounds in 21 weeks.  I’m hitting the treadmill and The Shred pretty hard over the next four days before we leave for another road trip on Friday. 

My new scale was waiting for me when I returned home, and I love it!  It seems to be pretty consistent.  I love all the different measurements it gives me (body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, and water hydration level).  If there was anything negative to say about it, I guess there are a couple of things.  First, your feet must be damp to get the best measurements.  The scale miraculously computes all those figures by sending electrical currents through your body (you don’t feel it!), and damp feet help conduct the currents more accurately.  So, I have to stick my feet under the faucet, then wipe my footprints after weighing.  Second, the scale doesn’t store your measurements and it doesn’t display them on the scale very long before automatically turning off.  I guess they made it this way to conserve battery life, but it’s definitely an exercise in my memory skills to record my data every day.  However, the benefits FAR outweigh these two inconveniences, especially considering I paid less than $20 for this $60 scale. 

My goals this week are to exercise as much as possible and eat as well as possible before I leave again on Friday.  Hopefully I won’t offend anyone, but I’m going to plan ahead and stick to my diet while staying with different family members.  Surely they’ll understand.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father’s Day

We had a nice Father’s Day today.  We were asked to fill in for someone in the nursery during the early service, so that pretty much nixed my plans of making Todd a special breakfast!  Since we left the house at 7:40 a.m., daddy had to settle for a bowl of cereal. 

Todd and I were placed together in the classroom with the 2-, 3-, and 4-yr-olds.  There were 14 kids, and let me assure you that it was ca-RAY-zee.  The kids seemed to gravitate to Todd, and I desperately wish I had a picture of the panic in his eyes when I looked over and saw six kids hanging off of him at one point.  We acted more like referees than teachers for the majority of the time, but I must admit that it was highly entertaining.  Kids say the funniest things.  It makes me shudder to think what Grace might be saying to her teachers when I’m not there. 

Grace gave her daddy new swim trunks, cargo shorts, and flip flops.  Of course, when she gave him the swim trunks, she asserted, “Daddy, now you have to take me swimming!”  Even at this age, she’s attaching conditions to her acts of kindness. 

After church, we went to Larry and Joy’s home to cook out on their grill.  Todd enjoyed a big, thick, juicy T-bone steak.  The rest of us ate chicken or turkey breast.  Joy grilled an assortment of delicious veggies to go with our meat, and we had fruit salad with Cool Whip for dessert.  Yum!  From the moment we stepped in their door, Grace kept asking to go to bed, so after making her eat a little, we put her down for a nap and had some good, uninterrupted time to eat and fellowship.  After Grace woke up, Larry chased her and threw her around for a while (which she loves!).  After we had overstayed our welcome, we came home where Todd and Grace promptly fell asleep on the couch! 

I have many of the same feelings on Father’s Day that I have on Mother’s Day (see previous post), but I am happy to spend the day giving thanks for both the wonderful earthly father and perfect Heavenly Father that I have.  This is Todd’s second year without his father, so that is tough, but he enjoyed the fun we had today as a family worshipping and spending time with friends.

Regardless of whether a day focused on your father brings sadness or gladness, I hope that we all remember that we have a Father who never fails us. 

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are for this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (I John 3:1)

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Home again!

Grace and I had a (thankfully) uneventful trip back home today to Texas.  She did pretty well on our 9-hour road trip watching movies, reading her books, and playing with dolls.  The “Bear Necessities” song from Jungle Book is hopelessly stuck in my head…I can’t stop singing it after hearing it, oh, 37 times today in the car.

When we got home, Todd had cleaned house and lit candles to make everything really nice.  He even had dinner for us!  That all scored major points.  I thought that I would be up late cleaning house since we have a new realtor coming to visit in the morning, but instead I took my time unpacking and relaxing.

I get to spend one week at home before packing up and heading off to Tennessee to visit Todd’s family!  We’ll really be putting the miles on our car (and portable DVD player).  For me, road trips mean endless Disney movies, answering “How much longer?” questions, dirty McDonald’s bathrooms, Tigermart cappuccinos, and crossword puzzles.  Good times.  I really enjoy arriving at my destinations, but I don’t particularly enjoy the journey.  Impatience, I guess!

We had a bit of a crisis at bedtime tonight.  Lambie was nowhere to be found.  In a brief moment of panic, I thought maybe we had left her in Louisiana, but Grace assured me Lambie was in the house.  After we divided and conquered the house, grid-by-grid style, Lambie was still MIA.  I ended up putting Grace to bed, who tearfully prayed that God would help us find Lambie and protect her while she was alone.  Todd kept looking and eventually found Grace’s cuddly companion under our bed.  Grace was still awake, so Todd was the hero when he proudly delivered Lambie back to her arms.  Thankfully we can all sleep tonight knowing Lambie is safe.  (Question to parents with older kids:  When will the “Lambie” obsession end?)

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Out With The Old


Last night mom and I stayed up pretty late cleaning out her closets.  It had been years since she really went through all her stuff, and she decided it needed a good purging.  Grace and I sat on the bed and watched her pull everything out one at a time, giving our enthusiastic nod of approval or pointing to the donation pile. 

It was actually quite hilarious to see some of the stuff she still had (and occasionally wore).  My favorite mom quote of the night was said after I told her a particular outfit needed to be donated, “But that was my favorite outfit in 1993!”  Um, mom, that was 16 years ago.  She had stuff from the mid-80’s as well as a few moth-eaten things from the 70’s.  Imagine my delight when my middle school/high school wardrobe was lovingly pulled from the back of her closet!

I love lists, so here are a few of the things I was able to convince her needed purging:

  • several pairs of stirrup pants in a rainbow of colors
  • tons of lovingly sewed tea-length wrap skirts with buttons all the way up the sides
  • Chic jeans (“But they actually fit me again!” mom declared.  Um, mom, those are classic “mom” jeans.  “What are ‘mom’ jeans?" she asked.  sigh…)  For a great explanation of the “mom” jean, click here.
  • Outback Red shirt collection, complete with a brocaded upholstery vest
  • tons of walking shorts from the 80’s (i.e. short culottes)
  • sweatshirts with appliqued apples and hearts, complete with matching sweatpants with the elastic band around the ankles
  • baggy linen blazers from the 80’s with huge shoulder pads and roll-up sleeves
  • puffed-long-sleeve dresses that have tiny buttons running from neck to tea-length bottom
  • circa-1986 polyester pleated slacks with tapered legs in a variety of colors
  • baggy “boyfriend” shirts/sweaters that were worn with stirrup pants or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans

We had a lot of fun reminiscing about various items of clothing.  She seriously could open a vintage clothing store.  But now she has extra closet space and a healthy donation to a local charity. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shopping Trip

Mom and I had so much fun yesterday at the Tanger Outlet mall shopping for clothes!  We left early and got there around 9:30 in the morning.  Five hours later, we left tired and hungry, but happy to be able to buy clothes that were 2-3 sizes smaller than the last time we saw each other at Christmas!

Grace did pretty well.  We rented a yellow taxi cab stroller, which lost it’s wow factor, oh, about 5 minutes into our trip.  I had packed an arsenal of snacks that I dreamed she would never get through which she consumed within the first 2-3 hours.  Just so you can see how I pass on my new healthy eating plan to my daughter, I’ll tell you what she ate:

  • 1 Nature Valley Oats ‘N Honey granola bar
  • 1 Fiber One Oats & Chocolate granola bar
  • 2 frosted brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts
  • 7 packets of Welch’s fruit snacks
  • 1 full packet of M & M’s
  • About 3 servings of Teddy Grahams
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 20-oz. bottle of Coca-Cola Classic

Yes, this is what I will feed my daughter to ensure that I have the peace and quiet to try on cute clothes that I have earned by healthy eating.  From the outlet mall, we went to La Madeline’s for lunch where she ate a bowl of strawberries and drank a raspberry lemonade.  When we arrived home, I handed Grace over to her granddaddy while mom and I rushed to the ladies’ bible study at her church.  When I got home, I discovered that she had enjoyed throwing and catching Honey Nut Cheerios in her mouth with granddaddy most of the evening.  Needless to say, today we will be performing a sugar detox.

While shopping, mom was able to find the cutest kelly green (color of the season) bermuda shorts and sweater from Jones New York, a pair of white capris from Liz Claiborne, a pair of beautiful black cropped pants from Ann Taylor, and several summer shirts from Old Navy and The Gap.  I found some white capris and a cute orange shirt at The Gap and a nice pair of black cropped pants at TJ Maxx.  When we got home, mom discovered that three of the tank tops she had bought at Old Navy were too long, so she gave them to me.  (Thanks, mom!)  I also found some good deals on presents for other folks at Osh Kosh, Children’s Place, Haggar, and Old Navy. 

All-in-all it was a tiring but satisfying day. 

Oh, one more funny thing.  On the way home, we stopped at Hobby Lobby and I ran in to buy a particular sewing notion that I needed to make a present for someone.  What should have been a five-minute run-in and run-out turned into a marathon where I ran all over the store at the direction of not-so-knowledgable employees looking for said sewing notion.  One employee actually told me, “We don’t sell fabric stuff.”  Another employee directed me to the home decor section for sewing supplies.  Finally I found someone that showed me where to find the HUGE fabric section.  But, alas, the girl working the fabric section couldn’t tell me where my sewing notion was.  I finally found what I needed and waited in line only to be told “I’m closing…” when it was my turn to check out.  I moved to another line and finally checked out and made it back to the car where mom was waiting with Grace.  Fun times.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Grace at the beginning of the day.  Oh, how I wish I had taken a picture of how she looked at the end of the day!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Being An Only Child

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to be judgmental towards families who have only one child.  There are a host of reasons why some couples either choose or find themselves in the position of raising an only child…many are happy and healthy families!  These are just my rambling thoughts on the subject…

Grace is an only child.  I have finally made peace that my childbearing years are behind me, although I’m sure Todd and I will always grieve the fact that we cannot bear more children.  On our journey, we have found that there are several parenting challenges that seem to be magnified by the fact that Grace has no siblings.

Many people who grew up as the only child will tell you that there are lots of benefits…more individual time and attention from parents, feeling special, not having to share possessions, more financial freedom for the family to do special things, etc.  

However, there are lots of drawbacks as well.  These became more apparent to me over the last week.  Here’s a few that come to mind:

  1. Less opportunity for the parents to teach empathy for others.  Let’s face it.  When you are an only child, it’s all about you.  You don’t have to share a bedroom, a bathroom, or a playroom.  You get all of your parent’s attention, and while at times this can be good, it can also lead to an unhealthy feeling of entitlement.  When there are siblings, there are tons of opportunities for parents to reinforce loving others, caring for others, problem-solving skills, and sharing. 
  2. Loneliness.  As I’ve talked with others (including my husband) who were only children, this has been the most-mentioned challenge.  I can (somewhat) relate since I grew up with brothers who were not interested in Barbie dolls or Easy-Bake ovens.  I always dreamed of a sister that would share my same interests.  When I’m busy, Grace is lonely and is forced to learn how to entertain herself.  (I guess that’s not entirely bad…)
  3. Less developed social skills.  This is not true for all only children, but it is true for Grace.  Less interaction with children has been one of the factors in her insecurity/fear when she is placed in situations where there are lots of other kids (Sunday School, parks, mall playgrounds, parties, etc.).  We are trying to counter this by getting her around others as much as possible through church activities, play dates, and outings.
  4. Less independence.  Since Grace is the only child, I’m much quicker to swoop in and solve her problems than I would be if I were balancing my attention among other children.  I am purposefully mindful of letting her struggle and figure things out for herself at times, but my tendency is to come to the rescue.  That’s not always a good thing.  A little struggle is good, so I know that I need to let her try, fail, and learn on her own in order to gain some independence. 
  5. Caring for aging/dying parents.  I can’t help but feel bad that Grace is going to have to choose a nursing home all by herself.  She won’t have a sibling to share the burden of dealing with my impending senility!

There are other issues, but this post is long enough already.  I guess I’ve just been thinking about it more lately because we’ve been in situations where I’ve witnessed more of the above traits in Grace.  And it just gets me to thinking, which is always dangerous. 

I certainly don’t want to seem ungrateful for having only one child.  The good Lord knows how thankful we are after so many years of praying for a baby!  But there are certain challenges that are unique to raising just one child, and I think it’s important to recognize them and deal with them honestly.

Monday Milestones


I ate a little bit differently this week but I managed to stay on track.  Since we were away at the beach for four days, I wasn’t able to cook for myself and had to make choices at restaurants, etc.  I took a few HMR meals and continued to drink my shakes every day, and that seemed to help.  When we ate out, I ordered grilled chicken and steamed veggies.  I even splurged one afternoon and drank a real Coke float! 

This week I lost two pounds, which brings my total to 51 pounds in 20 weeks.  The number on the scale was definitely a milestone for me this week, and it’s nice to see myself getting closer to my ultimate goal. 

Mom and I have been exercising together every chance we get.  Our routine is to get up in the morning and walk briskly outside for 45 minutes.  We walk through the square of their little downtown area and look in the shop windows.  The old houses and scenery are beautiful, so the walk goes by quickly.  I’ve just forgotten how hot and humid it gets down here in south Louisiana…even in the morning!  I much prefer the dry Texas heat.  After walking, we go inside, cool down a little, then do The Shred with Jillian.  We’ve been switching back and forth between Level 1/2. 

I ordered a new scale on Amazon last night for an amazing price.  It’s a Taylor Body Fat Scale…regularly $49.99, on special this week for $18.90.    The reviews look pretty good and I’m looking forward to tracking more than just my weight.  It measures body fat percentage, muscle mass, bone mass, hydration level, and weight.

Mom and I have really enjoyed cooking together this week, and we have eaten some amazing food.  Mom received a new cookbook as a gift that I ADORE by Ellie Krieger called The Food You Crave:  Luscious Recipes For A Healthy Life.  We made the Crispy Garlic Fries one night to go with Salmon patties.  We also made the Turkey Meatballs with Whole Wheat Spaghetti.  Her De-Light-Ful Ranch Dressing is pretty good, too.  This is an excellent cookbook with amazing recipes and practical tips for eating well. 

It’s unbelievable (and exciting) to me that I can eat delicious food and continue to lose weight. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Good Times at Youth Camp 2009

This was a perfect week in so many ways!  Orange Beach was beautiful.  The weather was sunny.  The water was clear.  The fellowship was fun.  The camp teaching sessions and devotions were excellent.  The youth were well behaved.  The hotel was accommodating.  The food was delicious.  And everyone stayed safe while traveling on the road!

Here’s Grace (and Lambie!) all ready to leave on Monday morning:


We drove in the lead van with my parents.  Our caravan included nine cars and 54 people!  Grace stayed busy eating, talking, and watching movies for the 5-hour trip from granddaddy’s church to Orange Beach.

My responsibility at Youth Camp was organizing and teaching a little Bible school for the six preschoolers that attended with parents who were teaching or chaperoning the youth group.  We learned all about the 10 Commandments!


One of the things we were looking forward to the most was getting to spend some quality time with my sister-in-law and my sweet almost-4-year-old nephew, Vincent.  They roomed with us and the kids had so much fun together.  Grace’s tickle box was always turned on when she got to play with Vincent!


Grace and Vincent couldn’t wait to get to the beach on the first afternoon of free time.  They built sand castles, splashed in the water, hunted for seashells, and dug around in the sand with their shovels.


Vincent wanted to play with this beach toy, but Grace was too distracted to actually catch the ball in the net!


The kids’ favorite things at the hotel were the beautiful fish tanks with colorful sea creatures. 


Another fun activity was blowing bubbles off the balcony!


On Tuesday night, we ate at The Shrimp Basket.  We took a few pictures while waiting on our food.  Here I am (on the right) with my sweet sister-in-law Audra (on the left).


On Wednesday night, we ate at Lambert’s Cafe (Home of Throwed Rolls).  Vincent and Grace didn’t really want to catch the flying rolls…they were too hot…but they loved munching on the fried okra!  The servers gave them a toy to keep them occupied while waiting on our food.  It was a very real-looking mouse that jumped out of a box!


Here are some of the kids on Thursday morning right before our last Bible school time.


When Vincent found out that Youth Camp was over and we were going home, he didn’t want to take any more pictures…he was so sad!  He wants to live at the beach!  (Grace didn’t realize yet that we were packing up to leave).


When we got home this afternoon, Grace was so exhausted.  It was really a rough schedule with lots of activity and very little time to rest and nap.  But, she was so happy (most of the time!) and I know that she made lots of fun memories.  She already misses her cousin Vincent and was disappointed that he wasn’t at granddaddy’s house when we arrived home!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Monday Milestones


Grace and I are leaving on Monday morning for our trip to Orange Beach with my dad’s Youth Group, so I’m writing and posting this on Sunday night.

As of tonight, I’ve lost three pounds this week.  That brings my total weight loss to 49 pounds in 19 weeks. 

Since my 30-Day Shred challenge ended a few days ago, I’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining my workout routine, but this week will be harder since we’re on vacation!  However, I’m determined to get out and walk on the beach a lot this week.  And maybe even use the treadmill in the hotel gym. 

I had a monthly medical check-up on Friday, and my vitals continue to look great.  My doctor is very encouraging and has really been a positive motivator on this journey to healthier living.  She helped me set some weight goals and kept on stressing that things will slow down as I get closer.  I’m prepared for that.  As I’ve said before, my bigger goal is to be healthy and change my lifestyle.  I’m not going to get hung up on a number on the scale.  (Although that reinforcement is nice, too!). 

My goal this week is to simply maintain my weight and get as much exercise as possible while on vacation!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Safe Travels

Grace and I got to my parents’ home safely last night!  It took about nine hours, and Grace did great in the car.  She watched movies, read books, played with her dolls, and sang with some CD’s.  No sleeping, though!  She crashed pretty hard when it was bedtime, completely happy after seeing her grandparents.


We’ve been busy so far today…mom and I got up early and walked for about 45 minutes, then did Level 1 of The Shred together.  It was nice to have an exercise partner!  Then we got ready and went to…where else?…Wal-Mart!  And…wait for it…the Dollar Tree and Shoe Station!  Anyone surprised?  Bargain shopping is our favorite thing to do!  We picked up a few $1 things for our upcoming beach trip (sunglasses, floaties, flip-flops) and a few grocery items.

We ate lunch at our favorite restaurant, The Phoenician Cafe.  We enjoyed whole wheat pitas with hummus for an appetizer, then ordered a dish called Chicken Gabriel.  Oh, boy.  It was this tender, delectable grilled chicken over a vegetable rice pilaf with a light and spicy cream sauce.  There was a side of roasted zucchini, squash, broccoli, and cauliflower with herbs.  It also came with a small side salad with oil/vinegar and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  Everything was heavenly…the best meal I’ve eaten in months!  It was a “heart healthy” choice on the menu, so the calories/fat were quite reasonable, too. 

There was all this glorious Phoenician food, and Grace just drank a Sprite.  She was less than thrilled that her pita pizza arrived without cheese (annoying dairy-free diet!), so she just watched us eat and chomped on her ice.

Tomorrow we are worshipping in the church where my dad is pastor, then Monday we are leaving for Orange Beach! 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Preschooler Quote of the Day

Grace:  “Mama, I love granddaddy, don’t I?”

Me:  “Yes, we all love granddaddy.”

Grace:  “He’s so sweet.  He lives with Mimi, doesn’t he?”

Me:  “Yes, they are married and they live together, remember?  Right by granddaddy’s church.”

Grace:  “Well that’s perfect!  Because I want to go see both of them!”

Grace and I are leaving in the morning to visit my parents.  (Unfortunately, Todd has to work and go on a business trip.)  The long-awaited, much-anticipated, answering-fifty-questions-a-day-about-it trip is finally here!  And I’ve still got so much to do to get ready to leave including:

  • wash clothes
  • pack clothes
  • pack books, movies, toys, exercise stuff
  • pack food/snacks
  • pack toiletries
  • fully charge and pack the camera, cell phone, DVD player, and laptop
  • pack stuff for the beach (floaties, towels, beach toys, etc.)
  • load the car
  • vacuum/sweep
  • cook and freeze meat for Todd’s meals for while we’re gone
  • pick up a prescription at the pharmacy
  • make sure I leave everything clean (kitchen, bathrooms, etc.)
  • clean out stuff Todd won’t eat in the fridge so I don’t come home to science experiments
  • get a good night’s sleep before driving 9 hours tomorrow!

I’ve got a monthly check-up appointment first thing in the morning with my doctor, then we’ll be off!  Now I’d better get off the computer and get to packing.  Hopefully when I post tomorrow I’ll be showing pictures of Grace and me with my folks!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

30-Day Shred – Day 30

30 day shred

I made it!  I’m officially a Shredhead!  The past several weeks have started to convert me into a person that (somewhat) enjoys exercise.  Actually, I enjoy what exercise does for me.  I still hate to sweat, but I’ve learned that it’s worth it!  

Anyway, on to the results.  I’m notating my body measurement changes over the past 30 days.  I’m not publishing my real measurements for two reasons:

  1. I’m not that brave.
  2. Since each woman is so different, I’m not sure it’s wise to compare yourself to my measurements, but I think it’s worth sharing my changes over the past 30 days to show that The Shred WORKS!

Body Part


Necklost 1 1/2 inches
Left biceplost 1 inch
Right biceplost 1 inch
Chestlost 2 1/2 inches
Rib cagelost 1 1/2 inches
Waistlost 1 1/2 inches
Hipslost 2 inches
Left thighlost 1 inch
Right thighlost 1 inch
WEIGHTlost 8 pounds
In summary, over the past 30 days of doing The Shred and treadmill work (I worked out 27/30 days), I lost 8 pounds, 13 inches, and 1 dress size.  Although I’ve shredded inches all over, the most dramatic change has taken place in my upper body around my neck and chest. 
I totally recommend Jillian’s workout.  I hope to eventually build up my endurance to the point that I can work Level 3 into the rotation.  Ideally, I would like to do The Shred 3-4 days a week, at least once on each level. 
*Note:  Jillian is CRAZY, so if you have knee problems, or any other physical reason why you are not able to jump or bounce, you will not be able to do any of the three levels in their entirety.  As the levels progress, so does the amount of jumping and stress on the joints.  Of course, many of these exercises can be modified, but much of the fat-burning potential will be lost.
Overall, I’m so glad I did this!  And although I probably won’t continue to do it EVERY day, I really want to maintain this new muscle.  It will help my body burn calories more efficiently and lose inches faster. 
Thanks for following me on this journey, and I’ll continue to update my progress maintaining my workout routine on my weekly Monday Milestones posts.  I sure have appreciated the encouragement and support I’ve gotten from my family, friends, and blogosphere!

Apparently math skills are not a pre-requisite for this job…

Today I went to Albertson’s grocery store to pick up a few items.  My total was $13.41.  I always like to get rid of change if possible (especially pennies), but I didn’t have the exact .41, so I gave the cashier $20.01. 

She took my money, then held up the penny and asked, “Did you mean to give me this?”  I said, “Yes, I like to get rid of my pennies.”  She continued to hold the penny with a puzzled look on her face, examined the total price again, then looked back at me.  I felt further explanation was needed, so I smiled and said, “I would rather get back $6.60 than $6.59.”  She shrugged her shoulders and punched $20.01 into the cash register.  When the amount of change was displayed on the register, she had an “Ah-ha!” moment.  “Oh, that’s so cool!” she exclaimed, happily giving me my change. 

Yes, it’s “cool” to be able to add and subtract.

Works For Me Wednesday – Shoe Box Surprises


We Are THAT Family is hosting a “Mom-I’m Bored” carnival today for all those moms that are suddenly finding themselves with kids out of school and not much to do! 

Here’s my little trick.  I have a couple of old shoeboxes that I keep hidden in the kitchen cabinet.  When I am out and about at the Dollar Store or the $1 Target bins or the $1 Michael’s bins, sometimes I’ll run across cute little craft/art projects or books or toys that I’ll sneak in the cart and purchase.  When I get home, I hide them in the shoebox, then pull it back out at those times when my daughter is “bored.”

She is always delighted and stays entertained for a while!  Last Saturday, when I was browsing through the Michael’s $1 bins, I realized that everything was 50% off!  I got some fun stuff for 50 cents each including:  paint-by-number, make-your-own bracelet, diary with matching pen, phonics flashcards, puzzles, and stickers. 

For more ideas, head over to the carnival, bookmark the site, then pull it up when you need some fresh ideas!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

30-Day Shred – Day 28

I babysat all day today, so I didn’t get my workout in until after Grace’s bedtime.  I did 45 minutes on the treadmill (and bumped it up a notch on the incline), then I did Level 2 of The Shred.

Only TWO more days!  Then I still keep going…

Monday, June 1, 2009

30-Day Shred – Day 27

I did my 45-minute treadmill work this morning, then put off The Shred because I was actually dreading it for some reason.  Maybe the lunges?  Anyway, when Grace went down for a nap I knew it was then or never, so I rolled out my exercise mat and grabbed my hand weights. 

I decided to do Level 2 today and I even managed to add in a few “Natalie” moves.  Probably because my mom informed me this morning that she was following Natalie, and the competitive side of me decided that I couldn’t be outdone by my own mom, although I wish her all the success in the world!  She also informed me that she was RUNNING, which almost made me choke on my morning coffee.  Before this, I thought the only thing that could make my mom run was a cockroach sighting, but apparently Jillian has the same effect! 

Monday Milestones


This was an encouraging week for me.  I utilized Calorie Count and kept a really good record on their food journal.  It analyzed my diet and told me exactly how much protein, fat, fiber, etc. I was eating and gave recommendations to improve.  For example, I was trying to eat at least 60 grams of lean protein every day, but the nutritionist recommended 80 grams to help maintain the muscle I am gaining from The Shred!  The nutritionist also said I wasn’t eating enough calories, so I bumped up from around 1200 to about 1500 per day. 

When I weighed in this morning, I had lost 2 pounds, which brings my total to 46 pounds in 18 weeks. 

My Shred challenge will be finished on Thursday, and I really want to keep a good thing going, so I’m joining another 30-day exercise challenge with my blog friend Kim, which starts today.  Her challenge is to get at least 30 minutes of activity in each day through walking, running, aerobics, weight training, basically anything that gets your heart pumping.  She’ll be using her new Wii EA Sports Active game.  If you want to gain some accountability in your exercise routine (which totally works for me), go join in the challenge!

Grace and I are leaving for Mimi and Granddaddy’s house this Friday (woo-hoo!) for a short visit before we head to Orange Beach, AL for Youth Camp!  Unfortunately Todd can’t go because he has an education conference in Austin, but Grace and I will enjoy the time with family, friends, and good biblical teaching.  Because several of the camp speakers and counselors have young children, I’ll be helping to coordinate a mini-Vacation Bible School for the preschoolers.  I did it last year, and it was a lot of fun, and this year we’ll have twice as many kiddos! 

Our family will spend the majority of June traveling around the Southeast to visit relatives (that’s what happens when the closest family member lives 9 hours away).  But, although that means I won’t be able to do The Shred every day, my goal is to get SOME sort of daily activity in over the next few weeks. 

Also, traveling to visit relatives presents challenges with what I eat.  I want to be appreciative of the hospitality we receive, but I also don’t want to “fall off the horse” so to speak with my diet.  The key for me this summer will be bringing plenty of my HMR shakes and entrees on the road and using portion control when I choose to eat something that is provided.  If I can get home in July without gaining any weight, that will be good enough for me.