Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Milestones


Well, I didn’t reach any milestones this week.  I can be thankful that despite my lack of exercise, over-tasting of baked goods, and neglect of keeping my food journal, I didn’t gain any weight since last Monday.

I even skipped breakfast a couple of times, which led to ravenous hunger, which led to poorer choices.  Oh, well.  Thankfully, today is a new day with new opportunities to mess up.  Ha! 

But seriously, I’m getting back on track this week and being a good girl.  Hopefully I’ll have better news to report next Monday!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Birthday Cake!

I’ve been a little light on the blog posting lately because we’ve been busy with various projects.  One of my projects has been making a baseball birthday cake for our sweet friend who turned four years old!  He told me that he wanted a baseball stadium with baseball “guys” and baseball cupcakes.  This is what I made for his party this afternoon:


Here’s a close-up of the stadium:


Since I am usually more concerned about socializing with my friends than the actual baseball game on the rare occasions that I have gone to the ballpark, I had to rely on my brilliant brother Josh to inform me of a couple of important details.  Josh knows everything.  Seriously, if you are ever on Jeopardy, he should totally be your lifeline.  Oops, wrong game show.

Anyway, apparently the home plate is a FIVE-sided base that POINTS TO THE CATCHERVery important detail.  Also, when drawing the stitching on a baseball, the stitches should go in OPPOSITE directions because it is ONE CONTINUOUS LINE OF STITCHING.  Thanks for being my lifeline, Josh.

The field is a yellow cake with butter cream icing.  The stands are rice krispie treats covered in icing and sprinkled with little candies that are supposed to be fans watching the game.  The scoreboard is a chocolate chip cookie with royal icing.  I used a picture that I took the other day while we were in the backyard playing baseball!

Thankfully the cake turned out great and the birthday boy loved it!  I had nightmares of the scoreboard falling down and crushing the field right as he was blowing out the candles, but I didn’t need to worry…it was pretty sturdy. 

A couple of years ago my mom and I took Wilton cake decorating courses just for fun while they were staying with us on a past sabbatical.  I had a lot of fun doing it, so I started advertising myself to do special occasion cakes.  (But NOT wedding cakes.  THAT is too stressful.)  Since then, I’ve made cakes here and there for various friends and family.  So, if you’re in the Fort Worth area and need a cake for a special occasion, e-mail me! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Southern Living, Y’all

Southern Living (1-year)

Thanks to a head’s up from BooMama, I am passing along a GREAT deal on one of my favorite magazines of all times.  On Amazon, for a limited time until this Saturday, you can get a one-year subscription to Southern Living for only $5.00!  This includes 13 issues over 12 months!  You can buy it for yourself and/or choose the gift option for other folks!

This price is worth just the recipes in the December issue…believe me.  I would estimate that 75% of my recipe collection is straight from the pages of this magazine.  They just never disappoint. 

When I was in college at Samford University in Birmingham, I lived next door to the Southern Living headquarters and often dreamed of working in the test kitchen.  Actually, I still dream of working in their test kitchen.  But that would seriously compromise my new diet plan.

In addition to delicious recipes, this magazine has great features on travel, gardening, decorating, and entertaining.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Milestones


I’m late getting up my Monday Milestones post because we’ve had a fun and busy day!  After ballet class, Chuck E. Cheese’s for lunch, TJ Maxx, various other errands, cooking dinner, and grocery shopping, this is the first time I have sat down with time by myself to write. 

I’ve had an OK week.  I did my treadmill/Shred routine three times and stayed within my calorie count every day.  I could have exercised more and I ate out a few times, which is not 100% reliable on calorie counting.  Sometimes there are hidden oils or portion variations that make it more difficult to know exactly how many calories you are eating.  But, I did my best to count everything.

I lost 1/2 pound this week.  I’m not moving my weight loss ticker because I’m only recording whole numbers, but at least it makes me feel a little better to report it!  My official total is still 62 pounds. 

My mom and I had so much fun today shopping for jeans!  TJ Maxx is an amazing place to go for designer jeans at an incredible price.  I have officially lost four jean sizes since February!  (My mom has lost three sizes, too!)  I found a great pair of Calvin Klein jeans and my mom found a trendy pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans. 

TJ Maxx rocks.  I can’t believe I’ve never been in this store before today.  It is a goldmine of designer bargains.  We saw Le Creuset pots and casserole dishes for $14.99.  We saw Ralph Lauren super plush bath towels for $4.99.  We saw Kona coffee for $6.99/lb.  Amazing prices.

But the most amazing thing is seeing my hard work pay off on my jean size.  Thank you, Jillian!  It’s nice to know I’m not doing lunges in vain.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today was a great day.  We had a wonderful Sunday School lesson on Psalm 11.  We sang some of my favorite songs in the worship service including “Jesus Saves” and “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone.” 

Right after the service, I had lunch with this year’s children’s choir teachers and we had a training to prepare us for the fall semester.  I was asked to direct the Kindergarten Choir and I’m really looking forward to the adventure!  Most of my actual teaching experience is with middle school and high school students, so this will be a new challenge…and today I found myself inspired and energized to dive right in!  I’m working with awesome people and we are so blessed to have ample resources to help make the experience special and memorable for the kids.

Best of all, the children’s choir directors share similar philosophies about this ministry in our church.  Our most important job is to teach and encourage kids to lift their voice in praise to God.  If they learn how to read music and keep a steady beat along the way it’s gravy.  The music teacher in me might have to relax a little and keep my heart focused on the spiritual aspect of what we’re doing! 

This evening we enjoyed dinner with our sweet friends Larry and Joy.  Grace entertained us with some new ballet moves!  It was a good time of fellowship with them and my parents. 

italian innI’ll end this post with a picture of Grace’s hair this morning before we left for church.  She loves to have her hair fixed, and she is always very still when I do a french braid.  I thought she was NEVER going to have any hair when she was little, but now it’s thick and healthy and so much fun to style! 


Friday, August 21, 2009

Preschooler Quote of the Day

Tonight my mom put Grace to bed because I was gone for Girls’ Night Out (woo hoo!) with some friends from church.  Grace’s prayers at night are often quite entertaining…always different, usually sweet and funny.  Mom had a pen and paper ready tonight so she could write it down and tell me later.  Here it is:

“Dear God, thank you for everything we did for you today.  Thank you for saving Jesus.  Please save everybody because they’re SO SO SO bad when they’re mad.  But when they’re good, they’re happy!  Amen.”

Date Night

Last night Todd came home from work and asked me on a date!  Grace went to bed early since we skipped her naptime in favor of Central Market (complete with Lemon Sorbet gelato).  My parents encouraged us to go and spend some time together while they put Grace to bed, so we agreed!

We had a hard time deciding what to do…we’d already eaten dinner, we didn’t want to go to a movie because that wasn’t really interacting with each other, and my diet constrictions meant we couldn’t go get a Sydney’s Sinful Sundae from Outback.  So, we did what other middle-aged couples who haven’t been on a date in months do.  We opted for something practical and went to pick up a few back-to-school clothes for Todd. 

He’s been needing some new brown shoes, and I’ve kept my eyes out for a good deal, but I hadn’t found anything yet.  I was so proud of him because he wanted something trendy!  He’s never worn a shoe like this before and I’m glad he’s branching out. 

todd shoesIt’s a little bit casual for a school administrator to wear, but his school district is more relaxed and other principals enjoy wearing them.  He looked very hip and trendy this morning!  We found them at Kohl’s along with a couple of dress shirts and a new tie.  At first Todd turned his nose up at scouring the clearance racks, but after we found a very nice dress shirt that was only $7.20 and perfectly fine, he got excited! 

I have found that men are very goal-oriented in stores.  They decide ahead of time what they need, they go straight for it on a display, and they get out as soon as possible.  Basically, they order straight from the menu.  I prefer buffet-style shopping.  I have a general idea of what I want, but I’m open to whatever ends up being the best deal, and I’m not afraid of a little leg work to get there.  

All in all, it was a fun date.  And I got $10 back in Kohl’s Cash to use on my next trip!  Best of all, we avoided the “Tax-Free Weekend” crowd while taking advantage of the stocked inventory in preparation for the next few days.  Believe me, it was worth the $4 we spent on tax last night.  (And, I’m not convinced that stores don’t mark up their prices for tax-free days.)

It was also fun to be out together alone, even if it wasn’t a typical date.  That in itself is pretty rare these days!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

At Least I’m Not Blogging From a Jail Cell

After an eventful afternoon shopping with my mom, we were so happy to get home yesterday with a clean criminal record.  Who knew I would barely miss getting arrested for shoplifting at two different stores?  Going shopping in my family is an adventure.  And a possible initiation into the criminal world….

First we went to Sam Moon’s in north Fort Worth.  We’ve been anticipating this trip for a while and were so excited to get there bright and early!  Grace went with us, so we were armed with a stroller, a Leapster with choices of games, a doodle pad, a book, and a purse full of snacks.  I was prepared to allow her quality time with her video learning games and gummies fruit snacks so mom and I could enjoy browsing this huge dream of an accessory store.  (By the way, the Gift/Luggage Shop and the Home Decor Store are now open, too!)

I’ve already shopped there twice in the past few weeks, so I restrained myself and just picked up a couple of little hair accessories for Grace and new necklace set, but my mom scored some great buys.  She got lots of Christmas shopping done and even found some cute things for herself.  If you’ve been to Sam Moon’s, you know that there are no shopping carts.  Since we ran out of room in the small hand basket, we were hanging cute purses on the arms of Grace’s stroller. 

Security at this place is pretty tight.  There is a uniformed guard posted right at the front door and employees are stationed at various places around the store just to keep an eye on customers and tidy up the displays.  There are strict rules about not opening up plastic wraps or trying on jewelry…if you do, a store employee will come running over and take the stuff out of your hands and warn you to obey the rules in order to shop in their store.  (Not that that’s based on personal experience…).

Anyway, we shopped for a long time, paid for our purchases, and left the store, waving at the security guard on our way out.  Halfway to the car, I noticed that there was a leather purse hanging from Grace’s stroller.  Ummm…mom…did you buy that purse?  We went back into the store and I explained to the security guard that we had forgotten to purchase the purse since it was hanging on the stroller.  Thankfully he was pretty cool and little shocked that he missed us walking out with it.  (Everything is bagged up tight and knotted after you pay.) 

I can only imagine what might have happened had the security guard noticed the purse before we did.  My parents might have had a difficult time explaining to the church why the pastor’s wife is coming home from Texas with a criminal record.

Next we went to Gardenridge.  We found some cute Christmas ornaments that Mom decided to buy as gifts.  Then we walked all over the store and were pretty disappointed that Gardenridge is just not what it used to be.  Unless, of course, you are buying scrubs.  Nurses must love that place.  But I’m still trying to figure out what that has to do with gardening and home decor. 

Anyway, we decided to leave, still discussing how much we disliked the new Gardenridge inventory.  As we were unloading Grace from the shopping cart, we noticed the Christmas ornaments that Mom was going to purchase.  Hello!  She went back in the store and paid for them. 

During our last stop at Kohl’s we made extra-sure everything was out of the shopping cart BEFORE we left the store!  Thankfully we got home with no trouble.  I’m grateful that I didn’t scar my daughter for life with images of Mom and Mimi getting arrested for shoplifting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of Ballet

Grace had her first ballet class this morning.  She has been anticipating this day for weeks, and couldn’t believe that today was actually the day!  Here she is practicing some moves before we left.

003 Today was also the first day for me to start babysitting our friend again during the school year.  He actually enjoyed tagging along!

005I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about how Grace would do when we went into her class.  She has always been hesitant about changes and new situations.  Sometimes it takes her a while to warm up.  Soon after we walked in the room, she promptly fell HARD on her bottom while walking in her slippery new tap shoes.  Of course this resulted in some tears and clinging. 

However, after a minute or so she bravely walked to her assigned spot and sat down awaiting instruction.  All the moms (and one granddad!) exited the room.  I prayed the entire time that she would have fun and really enjoy the class.  Thankfully she did!  I was so proud of her!  She participated in all the activities and was smiling every time I peeked through the glass to catch a glimpse of her. 

I happened to be watching when they changed from tap shoes to ballet shoes.  The poor teacher was trying to help ten little girls locate their bags and get their shoes off and on.  Grace walked right over to her bag, took off her tap shoes, put on her ballet shoes, zipped her bag back up, and walked back to her assigned spot.  I couldn’t believe it.  I know it seems silly that I’m impressed by this, but self-guided, independent behavior goes contrary to her nature in a completely new environment.  My baby is growing up! 

After ballet class, I took them to McDonald’s for lunch.  Here they are with Ronald, the creepiest mascot ever.  But then again, I have a strange aversion to clowns.  It all goes back to an old episode of Little House on the Prairie.    But that’s a story for another post…

012They had a blast on the playground and acted so sweetly towards each other.  I think they’ve missed playing together over the summer!

011Before she went to bed tonight, we practiced some of the new moves she learned.   She can’t wait to go back next week! 


Monday Milestones


This was a pretty good week.  I got some exercise in every day (except for Sunday) in the form of the treadmill, The Shred, or heavy yard work.  Interestingly, the yard work is what wore me out the most! 

I managed to lose two pounds this week despite eating my Lemon-Coconut Bars a couple of times.  That brings my total weight loss to 62 pounds. 

My goal this week is to just keep going with healthy eating and exercise.  It’s been so much fun to cook with my mom this month.  We have eaten very well and not felt deprived!  Yesterday for lunch, we invited our sweet friends Larry, Joy and Michelle over after church, and we had so much fun preparing parmesan-crusted chicken, roasted sweet potato/vegetable mix, and green beans with almonds.  For dessert we enjoyed strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries covered in cheesecake pudding with crushed pistachios.  The entire meal was 450 calories!  So yummy.

I’m off to get ready for Grace’s first ballet class this morning.  More on that to come!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Night With the Cats

A few nights ago we took my parents to a Fort Worth Cats baseball game.  We had a church tailgate party in the parking lot, then I had an opportunity to sing the National Anthem with my church choir.  It went really well despite the fact that I almost jumped out of my skin when they set off huge fireworks during the “bombs bursting in air” part. 

If you’ve never been to a minor league baseball game, I highly recommend it!  Parking is easy, every seat is good, and it just feels more like small-town America.  We happened to go on a night where they had a fabulous fireworks show after the game, too!  Here’s Grace at the beginning of the game.  She had just sighed and told me that “baseball is SOOOO BEAUTIFUL, Mama!”  I can’t imagine where she gets her dramatic flair.

003 Here’s a picture of my parents.  They enjoyed it too!

Pic3Our sweet friends Larry and Joy sat next to us.  Towards the end of the game, Grace wanted to go sit with Mrs. Joy.


Thankfully we had a “cool front” come through so it was only in the 80’s/90’s for the game!  Not too bad at all for August in Texas.


Much to Grace’s delight, Larry twirled her around after the game on a makeshift dance floor. 

Pic5 It was tons of fun even though our Cats lost the game to the Wichita Wingnuts.  (How cool of a name is that?)  We’ll definitely be going back to another game!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kroger Coupon Event

I woke up around 3:15 this morning to get ready for my trip to Kroger’s coupon event.  For one day only, they doubled coupons up to and including $1.00.  Usually the doubling stops at $.50, so this was a great opportunity to use my higher value coupons.  It was also a great opportunity to see how I function on three hours of sleep. 

I had some coupons to print from the internet, some more to cut out from my circulars, and a game plan to write for how I would proceed through the store when it opened at 6:00.  There actually is an art to this…you plan to hit the highly advertised items first, along with any items that are part of a group special (i.e. buy four Kellogg’s products, get $4 rebate, etc.).  Then I go for grocery items, household items, and finally beauty items.

Anyway, I pulled in the parking lot at 5:30 and was surprised to see it mostly empty.  People started arriving a few minutes later and there was soon a line at the front door.  I joined the line and stood behind a large family with about ten kids ages 6-20.  The mom was fascinating.  She had paired off her kids in teams of two and handed them each an envelope with a detailed list and matching coupons.  I started talking to her and made a comment about how it must have been hard to get all of her kids up and organized this early in the morning.  She informed me that they had been up all night hitting the 24-hour Kroger stores to snatch up deals before the other stores opened at 6:00.  Now THAT’s dedication.  I guess if I had to feed a dozen people, I’d do the same thing.

Anyway, when the doors finally opened at 6:00, her kids grabbed shopping carts and branched out all over the store in teams.  They went straight for the really good deals and cleaned out a couple of things I was wanting to get.  But, I did pretty well and was satisfied with what I bought. 

My total before coupons was $242.11.  My total after Kroger savings and coupons was $83.27.  I even managed to include three Christmas presents in my total!  It took 3 1/2 hours, but it was so much fun!  I know, I need help…

The funny thing is that when I got home and showed my mom some of the deals I had scored, I turned around and went right back with her to see if some certain items I had bought for Christmas presents were still available…and they were!  I can’t believe I’m actually tired of shopping, but I am.  Actually, I’m just plain tired. 

So, I’ll make my way to bed now so I don’t make a scene by falling asleep in the choir loft tomorrow at church.  G’night, all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Panning For Gold

Grace’s favorite activity to do with Granddaddy is pan for gold.  During his recent trip to Alabama, he visited a gold mining operation and learned all about how to extract flecks of gold and platinum from soil.  I thought it was a bit strange when I saw him lugging a huge bucket full of mud when they arrived last weekend, but it has provided hours of entertainment.  Every time Granddaddy takes a break from his sabbatical studying, Grace asks him to play or pan for gold!


I am just not patient enough for this activity.  There is a very specific process and equipment that is used to separate the gold from the dirt.  I will admit that every little scoop of Alabama dirt has produced gold, but it is painstaking. 

012In this picture, they are using a little plastic bottle to suck up the gold flecks.  He saves the flecks in a glass bottle.  When he has enough saved, he can have it melted into a piece of jewelry or simply sell it.  

Who knew there was gold in the Alabama soil?  Who knew there was someone that was patient enough to filter it out by hand?  Just further testament to how much I love the South.  And my dad.

Special Guests

We were excited to host some special guests for a quick lunch this afternoon!  The Baker family is moving from Cary, North Carolina to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  They stopped for a quick visit on the way through to their new home.

We decided to welcome them to the West with a Tex-Mex lunch consisting of hatch chile tortilla wraps, bean dip with veggies and tri-colored chips, and mango salsa.  For dessert, I tried out a new recipe…Lemon-Coconut Bars.  The name just doesn’t do it justice.  They should be called The Best Thing I Ever Ate Bar or Worth It’s Weight In Gold Bar or Completely Fall Off the Diet Bandwagon Bar. 

If you’re looking for a sinfully decadent treat to take to your next potluck, I present to you Southern Living’s:

Lemon-Coconut Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar, divided

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds, toasted

Lemon Chess Pie Filling (see below)

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Combine flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly; stir in almonds. Firmly press mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

Stir together Lemon Chess Pie Filling and coconut; pour over baked crust.  Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and cut into bars.


Lemon Chess Pie Filling

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk together all ingredients. Use filling immediately.

Grace LOVED playing with Brad and Anne while the adults visited.  Now that we live closer to each other, hopefully we’ll plan more opportunities to get together!

Once again, I took no pictures.  I even had my camera sitting out on the counter, fully charged, and ready to go.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me!  I need to wear my camera around my neck, I guess. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Visit with Granddaddy and Mimi

My parents arrived for a much-anticipated visit last Saturday, and I realized this evening that I haven’t taken one. single. picture.  It’s shameful, really. 

Sunday we enjoyed worshiping in our church together, then eating lunch at the Genghis Grill.  In the afternoon, I showed my mom our newly remodeled Wal-Mart!  We bought a few groceries and essentials for the week and just enjoyed walking around together. 

Grace caught a cold and has been under the weather, so we stayed home on Monday and I caught up on some yard work.  Of course, we had to make an obligatory Wal-Mart trip in the afternoon to get some things that we forgot or didn’t know we needed on Sunday.  For supper, I grilled some hamburgers for the guys while Mom and I ate Boca Burgers.  We were planning on sweet potato fries, but after trips to both Wal-Marts with no sweet potatoes available, we settled for regular baked potatoes. 

Grace was feeling much better today, so we headed to Hobby Lobby to look at the Wilton products that were 40% off.  While there, we ran into my 4th grade teacher from 1983.  She actually remembered me! 

Then we headed to a follow-up appointment with Grace’s allergist.  We got her blood results back and he went over the specifics with us.  Her IgE is extremely high, which is most often a predictor of respiratory problems as she gets older.  A severe Class 5 allergy to cats was confirmed, as was a Class 4 allergy to dog, egg, and mold.  So, there are NO PETS in our future.  Todd’s a little disappointed, but I don’t mind because it’s easier to keep a clean house and travel.  Basically, everything is good right now…we are managing her eczema pretty well and she has no asthma symptoms.  We’ll go back in six months and discuss testing for outdoor allergens (she must be 5 years old for this). 

Tonight, we made a delicious dinner.  I worked on some quesadillas made with fajita chicken, zucchini, squash, onion, carrot, red pepper, and cheese.  Mom made a fabulous mango salsa with black beans, corn, red onions, mangos, red pepper, lime, and cilantro.  We served the meal with sour cream, red salsa, and avocado.  It was a party on the plate as well as for our taste buds!  And all for only 450 calories! 

We’ve had so much fun with my parents and we’re looking forward to spending the rest of the month together while they stay with us during my dad’s sabbatical.  Mom and I have all sorts of outings planned:  Sam Moon’s, Julie & Julia, farmer’s markets, cooking and exercising together, tax-free weekend shopping, and just hanging out while doing our new favorite obsession:  Crostics.  It’s like the Cadillac of crossword puzzles and totally addictive. 

Tomorrow we’re going to Central Market to stock up on some bulk spices.  We’re also visiting Todd at his school and taking some treats to his office staff!  Hopefully I’ll post some pictures tomorrow!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Milestones


Well, I managed to lose that pesky pound that sneaked up on me last week.  That brings my total weight loss to 60 pounds in 28 weeks. 

I’ve been a little off-schedule lately and haven’t exercised as much due to our trip to San Antonio.  And, I ate out at restaurants several times.  But this week I should be able to get back on-track with my routine. 

I had my monthly weigh-in with my nurse practitioner on Friday, and everything was really good.  My blood pressure and pulse was lower than ever and it was nice to see a visual representation of my progress on a BMI chart.  The nurses were so encouraging and really cheered me on. 

Over the last few weeks, several people have talked with me or e-mailed me to inquire about some weight loss tips.  Since I’ve had a lot of new readers lately (welcome!), I’ll list a few things that have worked for me along my journey.

  1. Exercise.  I usually mention this first, because I feel that it is the key.  I know that most people really struggle with this one (myself included!), but if you are truly going for a life change, this is the first thing to do to jumpstart weight loss and improve your health.  My routine includes walking on a treadmill at a high incline and doing The Shred with Jillian Michaels. 
  2. Count calories.  My favorite resource for online food journaling is Calorie Count.  It’s free and chock full of great resources, including a personal calculator that tells you how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.   I count everything I eat, no matter how small.  I fill up on lots of fruits and vegetables, eat lean proteins, and enjoy healthy carbs (whole grain, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.).  I highly recommend the HMR 120 shake.  It’s delicious, very filling, and nutritious.  When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal, I also enjoy the HMR entrees
  3. Be accountable to someone.  For some people, this means joining a weight-loss group.  In my case, I discussed it with my nurse practictioner and we agreed on a monthly weigh-in appointment to check my vitals and track my progress.  Blogging about my journey has also been a HUGE motivator.
  4. Keep the big picture in mind.  Try not to focus too much on the number on the scale, but on an overall improvement of health.  Women (myself included!) are notorious for drastic crash diets.  These usually work for a short time, then you get discouraged, then quit, then gain everything back plus more.  It’s just not healthy.  Eat a balanced diet, exercise, and be patient.  Slower is better for long-term maintenance.  And, the goal should be improving your overall health, not just getting into a certain size.
  5. Celebrate!  Reward yourself along the journey.  I’ve enjoyed buying some new clothes and getting a couple of pedicures along the way!

I want to offer some encouragement to anyone out there who thinks they just can't make changes.  I HATE to sweat and I LOVE to eat.  I am a Food Network junkie who enjoys hanging out at Central Market.  I love to be in my kitchen and I read cookbooks just for fun.  Before I started this journey, my idea of physical exertion was pushing Grace on the swing.

If I can do this, anyone can do this. 

I have prayed over and over for discipline to stick to my goals.  It’s not always easy, but a funny thing happens when you just simply MAKE yourself exercise and eat better.  You will find yourself craving the high-sugar/high-fat foods less and the healthier fruits and vegetables more.  I’ve spent time “making over” my previous favorite recipes into healthier versions that I actually think taste better now. 

Exercise gets easier, too, as you start to build muscle and endurance.  I’m still waiting for the enjoyment to set in while I’m doing it, but I will admit that I enjoy the end result!

I truly appreciate the words of encouragement I’ve received over the last weeks, and I want to pass it along to anyone else who wants to make changes!  I understand the ups and downs that come with getting healthier, and just know that you are not alone.  It will be worth it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back Home

We’re back home from our whirlwind trip to San Antonio!  I can’t exactly say it was relaxing, but Grace had a ton of fun, and that made it worth the trip.  We didn’t do anything super-exciting…no Sea World, no Fiesta Texas, no Schlitterbahn.  Todd stayed busy the whole time attending clinics, reading, and writing.  The manager of our hotel even let him move into the breakfast room at night so he could have plenty of room to spread out his stuff and study until, oh, 2:00 a.m. without disturbing us.

So Grace and I had two days without a car, and this is what we ended up doing within walking distance of our hotel:

  • went swimming in the pool twice every day
  • ate lunch at Pei Wei and sat at the counter, watching Hispanic men cook Chinese food (I don’t know why I found that funny)
  • shopped the clearance racks at Kohl’s (bought a black jacket for $12.00 to replace the one I should have bought at Old Navy).
  • ate supper at Red Robin
  • went to the movies and saw Ice Age:  Dawn of the Dinosaurs (a cute movie…fairly clean…some intense chase scenes that were a little scary)
  • went back to Kohl’s to buy let Grace pick out a toy as a souvenir.  She picked a Tinkerbell book, complete with a noisy magic wand that she used to open the doors of our hotel elevator, turn me into a frog, turn daddy into a princess, and turn some unsuspecting gentlemen in the hotel lobby into a turtle…”Bippity Boppity Boo!”
  • took a break from the 137 degree weather to eat a treat at Coldstone Creamery.  Grace got blueberry muffin ice cream with gummy bears and I got a delicious light lemonade sorbet.
  • shopped at Old Navy where all clearance rack items were an additional 50% off!  I could have really scored some bargains on women’s clothes, but I wasn’t sure what size to buy for winter stuff.  There were jeans and corduroys for $3.00 and a host of other stuff.  I ended up getting a sweater for Todd for 87 cents, another sweater for $1.88, two pairs of jeans for Grace for $2.50 each, and some camisoles for $1.97 each.  I heart Old Navy.
  • ate lunch at Chuy’s Mexican restaurant…the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom enchilada was divine…
  • ate dinner at Johnny Rocket’s diner (with daddy!)

Then we had the  People are crazy down there.  Apparently there is some contagious disease that forces people to change lanes suddenly without looking, without signaling, while talking on a cell phone and smoking a cigarette.  This sickness is out of control in the Austin/San Antonio area. 

I was exhausted from lack of sleep (because what 4-yr-old wants to take a nap or go to bed on “vacation”?), but Todd was more tired so I drove most of the way while they slept in the back.  God tested my patience and ability to not be snippy every time Todd woke up suddenly and asked, “Why are you swerving?”  Because of the crazy people!  Because I don’t want to get hit! 

What should have been a much faster trip took 6 hours due to stop and go traffic and invisible construction in Waco.  By invisible, I mean perfectly fine lanes being closed for no apparent reason with no construction workers seen anywhere. 

Did I mention that God was testing my patience?

And, I had to drive by three fabulous outlet malls without stopping (San Marcos, Round Rock, and Hillsboro). 

But God protected us on the road, we arrived home safely, Grace really enjoyed herself, and Todd got all his work done.  God is good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Livin’ In High Cotton

I have been in many hotel rooms in my life for one reason or another…professional conferences, youth camps, vacations, band trips, road trips.  I must say that this hotel in San Antonio tops most of the ones I’ve seen.  Which isn’t saying a lot, but still…

You have to understand that the last hotel I reserved in San Antonio for a mini-vacation with my parents included a greeting committee of roach carcasses in the kitchenette.  I still have nightmares of bedbugs, and the local convenient businesses included drug dealers and other questionable services.  I will refrain from naming this establishment, but it is a compound word that rhymes with “Gravel-Podge.” 

Your welcome.

Anyway, I stumbled upon our current hotel on Priceline due to it’s rave customer reviews.  It was half the price of the downtown hotels, and…hello…it was within walking distance of Starbucks and Steinmart!  Imagine our squeals of delight when we walked into our room and discovered:

  • a separate bedroom area for Grace with a queen-sized sofa bed
  • a nice office space for Todd
  • a kitchen/eating area
  • a large flat screen TV
  • plush bedding
  • a closet with REAL hangers (not the kind that don’t come off the rod)
  • a complementary membership to Bally’s Total Fitness during our stay
  • a wet bar
  • a darling assortment of travel items including Biore make-up remover towelettes
  • tasteful decorating with solid wood furniture

Todd took one look around and said, “We’re staying here from now on in San Antonio.”  The room was so spacious and comfortable.  Much better than any of those fancy Riverwalk hotels that I’ve stayed in by the convention center.

We also knew it was a happenin’ place when we were invited to become a Facebook fan when we checked in.  Oh, yes, we did.  I even left a wall post.

Grace slept like a log last night…she’s still sleeping as I type…and when she wakes up we’ll go downstairs and check out the hot continental breakfast.  (Apparently, “hot” is an important word in the phrase because according to Todd it alludes to bacon). 

Todd has already left for his professional conference, and Grace and I have big plans to sleep, eat, swim, and shop.  Sounds perfect, eh?

Anyway, I’m giving a big shout out to my new BFF’s at the Comfort Suites Stone Oak.  Thanks for giving us more than our money’s worth!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Visit At Daddy’s School

Todd’s been asking me to help him fix up his office at school ever since he started his new job last year.  Up to this point, his idea of decorating was hanging a dry erase board on the wall and putting a framed photograph of Grace on his desk. 

Interestingly enough, he asked me to make him some curtains, although he specifically asked me to NOT make them “girly.”  When I asked him what “non-girly” curtains looked like, he gave me a blank stare.  Of course, Grace chimed in and told him he should paint his walls pink like her bedroom, but he vetoed that pretty quickly.

I helped him brainstorm decorating ideas and we basically came up with a manly-fishing-hunting-golf-outdoorsy-nothing-girly theme.  Perfect.  Armed with that vision, Grace and I went to my favorite store, Hobby Lobby.  Our inspiration piece was Todd’s favorite picture in our home that we agreed belonged in his office…a large framed print of a man fly-fishing in the streams of the Smoky Mountains.  It’s very nice and reminds him of growing up in Tennessee.

For the curtains (I forgot…I’m supposed to use the term ‘window treatment’ to make it seem less girly), I found a beautiful plaid with browns and greens.  I also found a nice pine cone curtain rod to use after I sewed it into a valance.  Then I went to the frame section to find new mats for his diplomas in browns/greens.  Grace helped me pick out some fishing paraphernalia in the home decor section. 

At home, I went through the house and picked out a few things to re-use in his office including a lamp, leather box, wooden pen holder, decorative plant, and picture frame.  

Yesterday, we loaded everything in the car and drove to his school.  Grace entertained his co-workers while I hammered and hung and moved and re-organized his office.  When it was all done, he loved it!  I even got an offer to decorate another office!  By re-using items from our home and catching the 1/2 price sales at Hobby Lobby, I spent a grand total of $37.43. 

A word about the lighting…I can’t stand florescent lighting, and that’s all you find in most schools.  His office is obnoxiously bright.  But, thankfully, he has two light switches, so I suggested that he leave 1/2 of the lights off.  Now that he has a nice lamp on his desk, it gives his space a warm, welcoming feel.  Of course, he had to throw some jokes out there about the “mood” lighting, but I assured him it looked so much better.

Actually, softer lighting might help him in his job, too.  Since he’s an Asst. Principal, he deals with student discipline a lot.  Often, he has upset and emotional students and/or parents in his office.  Softer lighting will make for a more comfortable setting and facilitate a calmer atmosphere for those tense times. 

I would post a picture of the final results, but I’m a little paranoid about protecting his privacy.  All-in-all, it was a fun day.  We even went out to lunch with the other two principals, who I really like.  It was nice for me (and Grace) to visit the people and places that shape Daddy’s daytime world!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fall Clothes

I went through Grace’s closet yesterday and re-organized it for fall/winter.  I’ve got a nice pile of size 3T winter clothes from last year that are ready to be sold at my local consignment store.  She can still wear some of the things that were size 4T and a little on the large side last year.

I loosened the adjustable waists of her winter skirts and she can get another year out of those, too.  But she didn’t have any Sunday dresses for winter, so I sewed her a corduroy jumper today.  It turned out so cute! 


This outfit will look even better with tights.  The collared shirt she’s wearing underneath is a Janie and Jack shirt I found at a consignment shop for $1.99 in perfect condition. The Gymboree shoes were in great condition for only $2.99.  I just love consignment shops for kids clothes! 

I’ll probably sew her a couple more jumpers to rotate with collared shirts.  I’ve also been thinking about sewing her a Christmas dress.  I don’t usually make fancy dresses…I’m very impatient and NOT detail-oriented.  But I’ve been saving a beautiful high-quality red velvety/corduroy fabric that is begging to be sewn into a holiday dress.

Anyway, if you are wary of consignment stores, I would encourage you to give them a try.  The ones I frequent are very picky about which clothes they re-sell, so you are always getting quality clothing in excellent condition.  They are also good places to support local seamstresses and buy bows, monogrammed accessories, and hand-crafted boutique dresses.  I even found some recycled dancewear for Grace’s upcoming ballet classes! 

Monday Milestones


My results this week are mixed.  It was disappointing to get on the scale and see that I gained one pound.  However, I’m fairly certain that it’s due to water weight.  Although I stayed within my calorie requirements for the week, I ate a lot of sodium (soy sauce, popcorn, rice cakes, etc.). 

I felt a lot better when my new scale told me that I had gained some muscle mass and had a lower body fat percentage.  My suspicion about water retention was confirmed when I saw my body water weight was higher, too.  That’s why I love this scale.  What other piece of equipment could make a woman feel BETTER when she gains a pound?  (By the way – it’s on sale again on Amazon this week…marked down from $49.99 to $17.58 and eligible for free shipping!)

Tomorrow, Grace and I are accompanying Todd to San Antonio for a few days of rest and relaxation while he attends a professional conference.  We don’t have any big plans other than the hotel pool, walking around the downtown River Walk, and some good Tex-Mex food!  For meals, I’ll carry my protein shakes and a couple of HMR entrees, but we’ll probably eat out at least once every day.  I won’t have a car during the days, so I was particularly excited to discover that our hotel is next door to a Pei Wei Asian Diner, a movie theater, and a big shopping center! 

So, my goals this week are to:

  1. Fit in as many workouts as possible around my travel schedule.
  2. Stay within my daily calorie requirements while eating in restaurants.
  3. Enjoy a mini-vacation with my family!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Movie Musical Marathon

Today was lazy and rainy.  Todd spent the entire day in the library studying and writing for his summer class.  Since Grace and I couldn’t go outside to play and I didn’t really feel like venturing out in the weather, Grace and I decided to have a Movie Musical Marathon.

Our three M’s party was accompanied by the three P’s:  Pajamas, Popcorn, and Pedicures.  

We started with Barry Manilow’s Copacabana


Because this is the standard by which I judge all other musicals.  And it’s my job to give my child the best education possible about important things like musical theater and what can happen to a person’s face when they have too many plastic surgeries.

Case in point:





Then we moved on to Grace’s choice:  Annie


The REAL one, not the Disney remake.  She knows most of the words to the songs, and I love to hear her sweet voice singing along with the TV! 

For lunch we had the three S’s:  sandwiches, sour cream & onion rice cakes, and sherbet.  [Must. stop. alliterating.]  To make lunch a little more special, I dug out my cookie cutter collection [I should have been a Southern Baptist preacher.]  Why is it that I have never thought about cutting her sandwiches into pretty shapes before today?  She was delighted!  She had a bunny rabbit sandwich and I had an eighth note sandwich (in keeping with our Movie Musical Marathon theme). 

After lunch, we moved on to the lesser-known but very entertaining Barbie as the Island Princess. 


I’ve talked before about how much I like Barbie movies.  I know that many people feel like Barbie promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for a young girls, which could possibly lead to eating disorders. 

Here’s what I think:  WE should strive to be the main influences in our kid’s lives.  It’s ironic that I should say this when I’m describing a day where all we did was watch movies…but, if kids spend all their time with friends, movies, and TV, then those things will shape their values and attitudes.  If I allow Grace to watch a movie or TV show, I do my best to watch with her and interject comments or conversations about anything that is questionable…which I had to do a couple of times in Annie and Copacabana.  I also try to reinforce good things I see the characters doing. 

Anyway, back to Barbie. 

If you’re still reading this, bless your heart.

Barbie movies are squeaky clean and have positive messages.  Barbie is always respectful to her elders (unlike Nemo, Ariel, etc.) and sweet to her siblings (Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses).  There are no “Class B” bad words (stupid, shut up, etc.).  And the music/dancing is great, particularly in The Princess & The Pauper and Barbie in The Nutcracker. 

During naptime, I got some work done around the house and read for a while.  I should have done The Shred, but did I mention that I was still in my pajamas?  And we are having a rare lazy day?  Sweating shouldn’t enter into that perfect equation.

Now we’re watching The Sound Of Music and thinking about what to have for dinner.  image

Update:  I just asked her what she wanted for dinner, and after thinking about it quite seriously she said, “Apples and M&M’s and chocolate milk.”  She settled for apples, peanut butter, cheese, and crackers.  With a fun pack of M&M’s for dessert.

Because I’m nothing if not consistent, I’ll leave you with a few R’s to describe our day:  rare, restful, rainy, relaxing, and remarkable.