Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not Without Some Help

Note: I posted my recipe for Quick Tuna Salad at Skinny Meals today. Now back to your regular scheduled programming.

When the WIC receptionist told me I had to bring my kids with me to the appointment this morning, I kind of laughed to myself. After that "interesting" afternoon when I tried to take my kids with me to the Y to workout, I know now that I am just not cut out for single parenting... or dealing my children when I'm by myself in public.

So I avoid it. Like the plague.

Luckily, since it's bitterly cold here in Wisconsin, Chris needed to drive to work, not walk. So I didn't have a car, and that gave me the perfect excuse to ask my mother if she could plan the swing-through-town-and-kiss-the-babies visit for during my appointment so she could take us there.

And I'm so glad she was able to come with me. Everything was okay until we were in the office with the nutrition counselor. Ben grew quite bored with her plastic fruits and veggies, and I only had three matchbox cars for him to play with from his diaper bag. Apparently, that wasn't enough entertainment. I had to move my chair in front of the door so he wouldn't get out. He was fussing, and I was ignoring him, trying to listen to the nice lady tell me ways I could get Ben to eat more.

When he was "this close" to a full-blown meltdown, Nana offered to take him out to the lobby and let him play. I happily finished my appointment with a sleeping Anna in my arms.

Little did I know that Ben ran around the entire family services building a few times while I was busy. Up and down stairs, the elevator, in and out of as many rooms as had open doors, etc. Ran Nana into the ground. She even lost him once.

Some days, it's really obvious when Ben needs a morning nap AND an afternoon nap. I had hoped to just give Ben an afternoon nap today... but the stinker woke up at 5:30. So by 9 am when the appointment started, he was already overtired and not ready to be a good boy.

In other news, we had to go to the next size in diapers for Anna. This really isn't momentous news or really worth blogging about... unless you consider the size. Folks, her chubby little butt requires size four diapers now. She's three months old. My nephew Gage is over a year old, and he wears size four diapers and weighs more than ten pounds more than she does.

I'm having a hard time understanding this. Ben's size five diapers are kind of loose on him... and I was considering going back to size fours for him. But it's just too weird to have them both wear the same size. Sure, it's very convenient, but geez. My little girl has a big butt already.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Introduction To Skinny Meals

About a week into our new healthy eating lifestyle, Chris and I talked about starting a new, separate blog dedicated to food, healthy food in particular, food we create and make that suites our weight loss plan.

Today I posted the first recipe to that site, Skinny Meals. I tried a new recipe yesterday, so I posted about my experiences with that.

I'll let you all know when I add another post to that site, and you can visit it anytime by clicking the handy-duty button in the right column on this site. I also plan on doing product reviews of different food items and brands, and hopefully, I'll remember to take pictures of what I serve.

If you have any recommendations or suggestions for the new site, please let me know. It's a work in progress, and I'm curious as to what it might become. I'll also be accepting recipe submissions, but don't feel bad if I don't try yours. We're fickle people with a tight budget.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When Flying Feels Like Falling

I'm not sure I've mentioned our next planned trip. Later in February, I'm packing our bags and flying with my little family to Oregon to visit Chris's parents in their new home. Longtime readers may recall that Chris hailed from Tucson, the hot hellhole without leafy trees. Last summer, his parents announced that they were buying a house just down the street from his Grandma Dixie in Medford, Oregon.

We had already planned on making a trip to Tucson in January to visit the parents and show off the children. Since they aren't there anymore, going to Tucson on purpose seems silly. So the tickets are bought, and we're off to Oregon, a climate far better suited to this purebred Finn. They even got a big snowfall last weekend.

Flying with the children (with two layovers each way) will be challenging and adventuresome. My goal for packing is only one carry-on. I think I can do it with the right bag. I may find a little bag that Ben can carry himself and to keep his trucks and trains. But one big carry-on for the four of us. I'll be using my handy-dandy Moby wrap to carry Anna around.

We have a plan, we have a goal, and I'm scared anyway. I've never flown with children, and I've heard all the nightmarish tales of screaming children and infants, frustrated and angry passengers who didn't pay all that money to hear my babies wail, and horrible hold-ups at security check points.

That's why I'm looking at this as an adventure, not really a vacation.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whatdya Think Now, Toots?

RC has the right idea. Why not give the ol' blog a new look? I made that header a few weeks ago, and I want to change it again... but I figured I'd see how things looked around here with some changes.

Update: I totally ignored the dishes and dirty floors and made a brand spanking new header. I like it much better. Suits me a bit more. I'm sure if I was actually trained in graphic design, it wouldn't have taken me four hours to create, but I managed to get it done.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Evening's Entertainment

Though Dana's little boy has transformed into Super Dawson, Ben has become Benjamin the Great, magician extraordinaire. Just look at how he can make this truck disappear. "Where did the truck go?" "There it is!"

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Anna and Nana Sitting in a Tree

We came back from spa week at the Minocqua homestead yesterday. My mom said she must not have done a very good job, since I lost another three pounds while I was up there (even with the turtle cheesecake dessert that Chris and I shared on our date night). That brings the total loss to 12.5 pounds. Awesome. I haven't been in the 220s since before I was married.

Tuesday morning when Nana arrived to pick up me and the kids, Anna was calmly swinging in the kitchen. Nana bent down to smile and her and say hello, and Anna just stared at her intently for five seconds. Then my precious daughter let loose a scream so loud and so soul scratching, you would think someone had just chopped off her finger with a rusty dull knife.

I rescued Anna from Nana's evil smile and we nursed for a little bit, and then Anna was okay with sitting on Nana's lap.

Such a rough start to our holiday. By the next day, Nana got her to giggle for the first time. Whenever Anna would see Nana's face, she would light up and grin and coo. Two peas in a pod, they were. Content to just sit there and study each other.

This picture does not show my mother at her best appearance, since it was before six in the morning, and she hadn't even brushed her teeth yet, let alone showered and dressed and put on lipstick. But I love how happy she looks holding my dear little Anna.

I didn't have the coziest of grandmothers. My mom's mom was very kind and homey, but she wasn't overly demonstrative or, well, any fun. My dad's mom was ... let's just say she also wasn't overly demonstrative and certainly wasn't homey or fun. I saw both of them a lot in my youth, but I never had warm, effusive relationships with them. (I should note that Anna looks a lot like my maternal grandmother. My siblings always refer to how she looks like a little Lempi, my mom's mom.)

I've known a lot of people who swoon over the mention of their grandparents. "Oh how wonderful!" "My grandma was my best friend." "My grandpa always took me fishing." etc.

I've seen my mom be Super Nana to my nieces and nephews, but watching her with Anna, I really get a sense for how important Nana will be in her life. Their connection is beautiful. I can totally imagine how Anna will reminisce about her early years with Nana.

Ben loves her dearly as well... but it's different. Ben is all energy and movement and squirming to explore and play. He's always been like that. Maybe it's just her current developmental stage, but Anna seems to be more interesting in communicating. When she's awake, she's always cooing and grunting and looking into your eyes to see your reactions.

We're heading off to do some cardio at the Y after we do a quick T-Tapp workout to get our engines running. We'll be exhausted, but it'll be so worth it. Combined, we've lost about 25 pounds.

When we had our date night, we didn't worry much about calories. It was our "cheat meal" to just sit and enjoy food and enjoy each other. Instead of going with the high-fat, high-calorie stuff that we would have chosen before, we went with what sounded the most interesting, something we hadn't tried before. We each tried a Greek dish. I had dolmades, and Chris had pastichio. We probably won't order them again, but we expanded our knowledge of food, that's for sure. We both fell in love with hummus on warm pita bread with cucumbers, tomato and lettuce drizzled in a dill vinegarette. It's a new way of eating for us, and we're loving it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Absence Makes The Heart Grow

So I'm getting into the second night of my vacation here at Nana's. While it hasn't always been restful and stress-free (thanks to the children of course), it has been interesting. We've been learning all about T-Tapp this afternoon and evening, and we just finished the basic instruction video. It's really incredible stuff. Such basic exercises done a tiny bit differently. Makes all the difference. Just 15 minutes, and most of my muscles are fatigued and twitchy, and my body feels warm all over. Wow.

I miss Chris. There's no denying it. I miss having him near me, and I really REALLY appreciate how much he helps me in the evenings. I had such a hard time with Ben last night... being in a strange bed in a bedroom that he can get out of. Eventually, I was sitting in there with him, bawling my eyes out. I was so tired and miserable. And I knew the evening wasn't over yet. I still had to finish getting Anna settled for sleep.

I finally gave up trying to get him to stay in the bedroom and sleep. Really. I just stayed in bed and pretended I didn't hear him. I figured there weren't any guns or knives or scissors at his level, so just let him run around the dark house on his own until he passes out. I didn't care anymore. Luckily, Nana was still up, putzing around, and she managed to get him to sleep.

I am so darned dependent on my husband. I don't know what I'd do without him. He's a freaking saint. It's funny, though, what passes as love notes after nearly three years of marriage. Too busy to sit and email me, he's shown his love in other ways:

"Look honey. I made the bed."

"I'm packed up and off to the gym. I love you."

"All the dishes are done, too."

"Aaron was late because he got pulled over, so I had time to fix the gate."

Ahhh. Music to soothe the disgruntled wifely heart. He sure knows how to sweet talk a lady.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Little Righteous Anger

I remember when I quit smoking a month before I married Chris. I set a date, I prepared myself with some chemical-free stop smoking aids, and I enjoyed my last smoke. That was it. I didn't smoke again. Yes, it was really tough, and one of the many reasons I won't light up again is because I don't want to deal with quitting again.

Since I wasn't relying on patches or gum to help me with the process, I made it a mental exercise. I went through the typical stages of grief. One of them was anger.

I was so angry for a while. I was mad at myself for smoking in the first place, and then I got really mad at the friends I had who were smoking when I started, and finally, I was mad at the tobacco companies for making such a harmful product just because they can and because after the first pack, the product sells itself because of addiction.

This morning I woke up mad. I'm mad at the fast food companies for thinking it's a good idea to serve us garbage. Sure, some people can metabolize that crap food, but even if they can, it's still not doing their bodies any good. Why can't convenient food be good for us, too? They need to get that sh*t off the menu, because the people who keep buying it can't help it. They are addicted.

I'm mad at burgers and french fries and soda and milkshakes and fried chicken and all of that other stuff that helped me get fat. I'm mad that they exist, and I'm mad that I ate them. I'm mad that I let myself get to be 241 pounds before I finally said enough is enough.

Today when I go out for lunch with my husband, you can be damn sure we won't be going through the drive-through at Taco Bell or Burger King. Never again. We'll be going to a nice cozy diner where they have low-fat options on the menu, where they offer egg substitutes for their customers, where the dressing is always served on the side, and where every sandwich doesn't automatically come with french fries. I don't know what I'll be inspired to eat, but it sure won't be garbage. It'll be food that will help me stay on the right track, the track that has let me drop a total of 10.5 pounds already.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cars, Trains and Go-Go-Go!

It's a baby shower for Mothergoosemouse! I've been a subscriber of hers since the beginning of my blog career, and she's an inspiration and a gem... and she's about to become the mother of a bouncing baby boy!

Boys will always love their moms. In the early years, he is Mom's tag-along and best buddy. In a world full of macho images of what boys are supposed to be like, most little boys will privately revolt and spend time adoring all that is Mother. My mom once told me about a boy in her kindergarten class who would spend story time petting the softness of her panty-hosed feet. He craved the softness that mothers bring after time at home with his burly "my son will be a quarterback, not a sissy" dad.

The time will come when he no longer wants your kisses and hugs in public. You'll simply be a source of transportation and new toys and gadgets. But as adults? If you raised him well, his heart will come back to you. Both of my brothers are incredibly close with my mother as adults. They love her to pieces and would steamroll anyone who would dare to make her unhappy.

My son is two years old, and my life is jam-packed full of Cars, trains and racing. His energy is startling, and his obsession for choo-choos and gucks (trucks and cars) seems to be never-ending. But he still loves me dearly. I know this because he'll climb on the couch to be next to me, and he'll wrap his arm around my neck or shove it down my back. He'll lean his forehead against mine, and he'll leave me wet, sloppy kisses on my cheek. We'll spend minutes like this, cuddling and watching TV, his hand tangled up in my hair, wriggling around, smoothing out the curls against the nape of my neck.

Here's to you, Julie. You're in for a wild and crazy ride of fun and love and see-food and vrooom and honk-honk. Enjoy yourself, and don't leave his pee-pee exposed when you change his diaper, or you'll be toweling off the walls. And even though he has an outie, there are still lots of crevices and wrinkles for poop to hide, so be gentle, but clean well.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wow, That's Old

Today is my mother's birthday, so I figured I'd write a post all about her in honor of her awesomeness.

I hope I'm half as interesting and half as kind as she is. That would be a great accomplishment.

When she's not busy being Super Wife to my father, she's being Super Woman of Christ to the women of the northwoods. She has a sincere desire to teach women about the values of friendships with other women, and how those relationships can help even the bleakest of lives shine. She does this by example, and she does it with grace and humility.

Though she doesn't have a full-time, paying job, she is busier than I ever was when I worked outside the home. How she finds time to be Super Nana is beyond me. Clever scheduling, I guess. Planning and preparing and oiling the wheels of her Women's Aglow group is very time consuming, but soul enriching.

Super Nana! She jokes that grandchildren are the rewards for difficult teenagers, and goodness knows she had a pack of those. I'm glad she feels rewarded by our children, and I know my brothers and my sisters try to bless her as often as we can. She's given her heart completely over to us, and even as adults, she's still a backbone of strength and generosity of spirit to us.

I love how she cares for my children. She knows all of Ben's little quirks and eccentricities, and she delights in him as we do. She's always patient with him, and she loves cultivating a life-long relationship with him. I can see it in her eyes and the way she interacts with him. She's there for the long haul. I appreciate every thing she does for them, and every minute she spends with them. I never had close, cozy relationships with my grandparents, and I am blessed by watching my children be blessed by time with their Nana.

And how she cares for me. I think now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I feel more connected to her than ever. She was a SAHM for most of my life, and that's the only way I remember her. When I'm baking cookies with Ben or even folding laundry, I feel her hands on mine as I do the same time-honored tasks women have done throughout history. She's taught me the dignity and grace and power there is in being a SAHM. She's one of my bestest friends, and I know I could call her and vent and whine and cry and laugh anytime, and she'd be right there in the moment with me.

She's the one who taught me that silliness is a perfectly reasonable trait in a parent. When I'm dancing behind the cart in the grocery store, shaking my butt and singing along with the store music, I'm just doing what my mom always did. Even the dullest tasks can be made interesting and fun if you inject a little joy into them.

We are all her legacy. My brother's determination and confidence, my other brother's love of books and sensitivity that he swaddles in burly machismo, my sister's irony-filled enthusiasm for life and mama bear tendencies, and me. There's not much about me that isn't an offshoot of her. Can you tell I'm one of her biggest fans?

I think her grandchildren are her greatest joy. Over the Christmas break, she was busy with snowmobiling and sledding with the ones that could spend their Christmas vacation with her. During summer visits, she loves to go go-cart riding, miniature golfing, swimming at the beach, and four-wheeling all over Upper Michigan. I'm not sure if the eldest has taught her how to snowboard yet, but it still might happen. She refuses to be the kind of grandmother that just greets the kids at the door with an apron and a plate of cookies (though the cookies are always available). She's a Nana of Action and Adventure, and she whispers to each one, "If things ever get bad at home, if your parents are ever mean to you, just give me a call and you can come stay at Nana's house for a while, and you can tell me all your secrets and dreams."

Her gaggle of grandchildren:

Six Random Facts About Yours Truly

Daisy over at Compost Happens tagged me for a meme that requires me to reveal six random facts about me. Let's see how I do with this.
Here are the rules:
  1. Link to the person that tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
  4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Here I go!
  • I shaved my legs for the first time when I was nine or ten behind the garage. I cut myself badly and had scars for at least a year.
  • I love Wisconsin, but it's 15 degrees below zero right now, and I find that to be a bit excessive on the cold scale, don't you think? I will be spending the day with my little family all holed up in my little house staying warm and snug. Do you blame me? The "feels like" temperature is 31 below zero, so says
  • Someone complimented me on my clutter-free house last week, and I swooned with pleasure and pride. I never thought that would ever happen, and a year ago, it wouldn't have been an apt description for my house. Since I became a SAHM, I made it one of my priorities to keep a tidy house.
  • I don't mind washing dishes. I suffered from bad headaches and menstrual cramps in high school, and some holistic health book of my mom's suggested that immersing one's hands in very warm water can relieve pain. I'm not in any pain now, but when I first slide my hands into the water, I still have a feeling of overall wellness and health. After three sinkfuls, though, I start to think dishwashing sucks, no matter how good I feel.
  • I had a dream last night that I woke up to find an empty potato chip wrapper on Chris's chest. I examined the calorie content and then punched him really hard in the stomach for cheating his diet so badly. It felt so real, though I'm pretty sure I'm awake right now, and there's no wrapper in sight.
  • When I'm hurriedly toweling myself dry in the towel room outside the showers at the Y, I do not want to be approached by a naked old lady and asked what my tattoos mean.
Oh, who should I tag? Call me a rule breaker... I'm not going to tag anyone specifically. Instead, if you want some easy blog material, do this meme and leave a comment letting me know you did it, and I'll add your link at the bottom. Okay?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Playdate Fun and other news

We had Ben's best friend Luke over for a playdate last night. So Much Fun. They ran around the house like a couple of rabid banshees. Mostly, Chris and I watched and giggled, only becoming part of the action for a basketball game where they had to take turns dunking. Even Anna smiled at their exuberance on a couple of occasions.

The weight loss bandwagon is still trucking along. What's the point of falling off the wagon when the road isn't even bumpy yet? I've tried four new recipes: Turkey Burgers (5 stars), Butternut Squash and Onion pizza (4 stars), Stuffed Acorn Squash Supreme (2 stars from Chris, 4 from me), and Chicken Parmesan (5 stars). The chicken parmesan started out as eggplant parmesan with chicken, but turns out my eggplant had gone to seed and I forgot to add parmesan to the breading. So really it was just chicken sprinkled with mozzarella on low-fat spaghetti. But it was yummy anyway.

Tonight, the Mathis kitchen features Turkey Goulash from the Eating For Life cookbook. I'm excited to try another turkey recipe, since the burgers were a total hit.

We've both stopped recording our calories since we're good at knowing what our allotment is for a specific meal or snack. With how much I'm exercising, I'm creating a huge calorie deficit every day, so that explains the Six And A Half Pounds I've lost. Can I get a Wooohooo!?

In other news, next week will be the week of the break when I go to my mom's house for a few days. It'll be strange to leave Chris here for so many days (Tuesday through Friday), but I'm looking forward to the break and the change in focus. My mom and I will be trying the T-Tapp program together (you can thank Ask Moxie for finally convincing me to give it a try), and I'll be helping her purge her basement since that's the target of note with her weekly housekeeper lady for the next few months.

On February 2nd, we'll be driving to Appleton, WI to celebrate with a whole bushel of women at my sister-in-law's baby shower. Chris will be providing babysitter service during the shower. I think we'll both have a fun time. I'll have a few gifts for her, but I've also collected one bin and two boxes worth of baby stuff for her that I'm done with. Anna keeps growing, and she's breastfeeding so well, I'm relinquishing my breast pump to the working mother who needs it more.

Cute Ben Thing: He can say monkey clearly now, and it's just as precious as I imagined it would be. He giggles when I tell him to be a good little monkey, ala Curious George. We've watched Cars (Kucks) at least three times a day now for the last week. It's still his first request, then Thomas (Choo-Choo), then Wiggles (Weee-oh).

Cute Anna Thing: One of my favorite things she does right now happens when Chris hands her off to me when she's sleeping. I put her in my arms, nestled into my right elbow. She opens up her eyes a bit at the disruption, notices that it's Mommy who is holding her, and she grins like an idiot for half a minute before she accepts the nuk, burrows her head in and falls back asleep.

When Mommy is exercising, Anna gets an upper swaddle that also conveniently keeps her nuk in place. Notice how she is glaring at me. Someday she'll appreciate the effort I'm making to become healthier.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not Really Bravery

So being brave is something like saving someone from a burning building or drinking the king's hemlock wine. Or, you know, going to war. I don't want to raise myself up to that level, because that would be petty.

All I'm doing is posting my "before" pictures. The pictures taken today, at the beginning of this weight loss battle, or a week and a half into the battle. We both have lost four pounds since our start weights, but they don't make much of a visual difference.

I don't know how often we'll take progress pictures. Maybe every twenty pounds. Haven't decided. Posting these pictures is a way of making us accountable to all my blog readers, because if we were to give up and go back to our old lives, it would be humiliating. The only thing really brave about this is that I'm risking negative comments, but I don't think I'll get any.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

You're Welcome Here Anyway

A long time ago, I read a hilarious post by Mom-101 about how people find her site. She logged funny or interesting referral searches that she found in the cookie that records stuff like that.

For the past few months, I've been doing the same thing. The results are sometimes interesting, sometimes curious, sometimes sad and sometimes funny. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.

Because my blog name is Red Pens & Diapers, it only stands to reason that a lot of those searches would involve the title.

The "diaper" searches were often the funniest:
"Diaper lover couches" (Um. Yeah. You lost me on this one. It's a big, gigantic WTF.)
"Hot boy diapers" (If you have a hot boy, have we got the diapers for you! I don't think they're talking about fevers.)
"Hot boy in diapers" (Now I'm starting to think that this is a weird sex thing.)
"Pain p--sing in diapers" (Okay. This one floored me. Maybe they have an allergy to diapers, but the word terminology was striking, and didn't seem like a parenting issue for some reason. Update: Apparently a couple of words in that search is the URL of a pr0n site. And I don't really want so many of those people looking at my kids.)
"Diapers sister OR mother OR brother" (Yeah. I don't know why a boolean search was necessary or what the heck was the real focus of this search. In my head, I prefer to think that they were just feeling "one" with their sanitary products, like you would with nature, i.e. brother fox, sister moon.)
"Snowmobile diapers" (I was immediately reminded of the astronaut who drove across country, wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop. I can only assume that it's the same concept here, and I find it icky.)

Parenting and pregnancy issues are pretty easy to explain. I've been pregnant and a parent while writing this blog, so naturally, I talk a lot about those issues.

Still, the following searches gave me pause:

"Crazy maternity clothes" (This actually gave me a great idea when I was trying to think of maternity clothes that would be considered crazy. What about extra long maternity tops that have crotch snaps at the bottom? That way when you lift your arms up, the bottom of your shirt won't ride up and expose your belly. But I think the google searcher was really looking for maternity clothes that include sleeves that let you hug yourself a lot, if you know what I mean. Right?)
"Didn't make it to the bathroom" (Oh honey. I've been there. I think most of us have and don't want to admit it.)
"I resent being pregnant" (I thought about this one for a while. You all know I wasn't the happiest pregnant lady. I was grouchy, tired, uncomfortable and hormonal. I think I'll have to admit that there was a lot of resentment that I had to go through the miracle of pregnancy in order to bring another child into the world. I really feel for the woman who did that search, though. She must have felt awful at the time.)
"What to do about a diaper rash that is bleeding" (This amused me, because I remember typing in the same query in the search box. I hope they were able to find some answers. It's a distressing situation to have a baby, especially a newborn, bleeding and you don't know what to do. It's not like you can put a bandaid on their butt.)

The "I wonder why people are searching for that" ones:
"Down-the-slide hair" (Of course this is referring to the static electricity that happens when kids or adults, for that matter, go down the tube slides. Why they would want to look it up, though, is beyond me.)
"She gained twenty pounds in her butt at least" (I end with my favorite, the search that made me start this list in the first place. Maybe it's a line from a movie that they were trying to reference. I like to think of two teen girls sitting next to each other in their computer lab, unable to actually talk to each other, so they are gossiping by typing stuff into their google search box and letting the other read it. So, to all of you Mean Girls-type girls out there, you're welcome here. I don't know why you'd want to be here, but whatevs. I'm out.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A New Take On Life

We're all signed up for our membership at the YMCA now. Those lovely people were able to give us a fantastic scholarship, and we feel very humbled and blessed to receive it. We're going to go this morning for some time on the cardio equipment while the kids enjoy the mini-care.

As I was driving home from my IUD appointment yesterday, I went past Pizza Hut, advertising their latest deal. I thought about how I would feel to eat the pizza and knew I'd probably get sick from all the grease. My only regret was that I didn't indulge in a big deep dish pizza last week before I started my new life.

Then, something important happened. My mind jumped to ways I could enjoy pizza while still maintaining my healthy eating lifestyle. I thought of whole grain pizza crusts with diced veggies and low-fat mozzarella cheese. I started salivating at the thought. That's an important step for me in my re-prioritizing of life and food.

So my weight loss mantra today is: Re-imagine the foods you crave. Don't feel like a prisoner to your diet. Use it to your advantage and find compromises, or this new life won't be maintainable for long.

In other news, Ben had a blast on our Y tour yesterday. He loved climbing up and down all the stairs, and goodness knows there were a lot of them. He had a few moments where he didn't want to leave a certain area, but promising him more stairs did the trick to refocus his attention. I think he's lovely in this regard. It wouldn't have worked for me, that's for sure.

My Mirena IUD appointment was interesting. It didn't take long, but I was supremely uncomfortable since I have very sensitive innards. The cramping started almost immediately, and by dinnertime, I was crying so much I figured I'd have to go to the emergency room and make them rip it out. I sat with a heating pad on my back for a couple of hours, and that helped. As of this morning, I don't feel any pain. Hopefully, it won't return, and the trauma of yesterday afternoon would have been worth it.

We are definitely taking our before pictures today... and my weirdo husband actually wants me to post his before pictures as well. I thought he was crazy, since he doesn't even read this blog, but he says he wants the accountability, so I guess you all will get to hear more about his weight loss efforts, too.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Video Post: Ben Falls Asleep

We tried an experiment this week where we skipped his morning nap. It didn't work out so well. He fell asleep in his high chair during lunch twice. Here's a darling video of me trying to wake him up:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Think I Need A Cookbook

Chris, as he's entering in his calorie count from dinner in his log: So, what kind of meat was that? Pork?
Me: *silence* *tears welling up* No. It was chicken.

Oh well. At least it was healthy, though I cooked the heck out of it and it was left incredibly dry. And I used the same seasoning I use on most meats: worcestershire sauce and minced garlic. Can't win them all.

Dude, where my honk honk?

I decided that one of the cutest things that Ben has ever done is how he says "Hongh Hongh" whenever he sees or plays with a car. It's easier to say "Hongh Hongh" than "Car" ... which he doesn't even bother trying to say anymore. Everything is a "Kuck."

He was not pleased during my hour-long step aerobics video this morning (900 calories burned + almost vomiting from the exertion = priceless). He kept tugging on me saying "Ch00-choo!" "Kuck!" In Ben lingo, this means that he's getting upset that I'm not letting him watch his Thomas video or Cars dvd.

When I was finally on the floor for ab work at the end of the workout, and he got tired of climbing on me for the ride (wow, talk about added work), he started pushing his Lightning McQueen car at my head. After a few minutes, I gave up on trying to do more abs, and I just laid there on my side, playing cars with him. He was happy that I was finally paying attention to him, and I cooled down.

Tomorrow is a busy day. In the morning, we all go to the YMCA for our meeting with the director lady. Then in the afternoon, I leave BOTH of the kids with Chris while I go lie on my back at the doctor's office while she sticks a Mirena IUD up my whacker. I'm not looking forward to it, and I'm anticipating pain. That area is very uncomfortable. I won't go into details. Let's just say my dread is warranted. But hey. At least that whole birth control thing is taken care of until we know that Chris's snippy-snippy was effective.

My latest mantra about weight loss is: No going backwards, just forwards. Tomorrow is a better day then yesterday. Today is better than yesterday. Keep moving forwards without doing stupid stuff that would put be back again... like eating ice cream or a juicy greasy cheeseburger.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Honk Honk and Not Silent

Honk Honk Honk.

Wordless, but certainly not silent.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Eeeennngggh. That's the Spot.

Can you feel the burn? Can you? Do you feel your muscles twitching as you hold that squeeze? Yeah. Right there. Right t.h.e.r.e. Okay. Now hold it for ten more seconds.

This morning when I was doing a The Firm workout video (those women are sadists), Ben started grunting and moaning. "Unnnnhh. EEEHHHGGGGNNNN!" Then I realized... he was imitating me. When the tempo is up and your muscles are getting fatigued... you know the feeling... all you can do is exhale sharply and moan and make a lot of unhappy noises.

By the way... have any of you seen 2.5 pounds anywhere? I've lost it It's disappeared. I'm not really that proud of the loss yet. I'll be more convinced or pleased with a scale move after two weeks, when I can be sure it's not just due to less water retention. I am pleased the scale is going in the right direction.

A new helpful mantra I have been repeating is "That's not hunger; that's a craving." I can brush off cravings, but emotionally, I respond to hunger. If I know my body doesn't need more fuel, what I'm feeling is just a craving that is from a food addiction.

In other news, my forced vacation when Chris goes away for training has been pushed back to March. That blows. It was such a nice excuse to go to my mom's house for a few days. Now I have to go to my mom's house with no other excuse other than taking time for me, which is a great reason, but one that I know a lot of mothers feel some guilt about even though they shouldn't.

I'm thinking about next week. My mom could drive down and pick us up, and then Chris could go up on Friday to spend the night and drive us back the next day. We could go snowmobiling... that is if all the snow doesn't melt by then. This warm spell is doing nothing good for the snowmobile trails.

On the children front, I came up with a good "fix" for Anna's wailing spells she has every evening last night. I don't know if it will work again, but it gave us peace last night, and that's worth a lot. She wasn't responding to a diaper change, an offered breast, bicycle legs, rocking, swaying, bouncing, swaddling, sensory taming, etc. Nothing. Until I stripped her down to her diaper and started gently massaging her all over while singing my "Itsy Bitchy Spider" song. She calmed down immediately. I kept it up for over 30 minutes. Then she went to sleep like a little angel in her swing.

"Itsy Bitchy Spider went up the baby's bed.
Down came the hand and squished the spider dead.
Up came the sun and fried up all the legs.
Now the Itsy Bitchy Spider won't bother Ben again."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Stamina Or Something Like It

We're on day 2 of eating well, and our new lifestyle seems to be all I'm thinking about. I probably changed too suddenly yesterday. The meals I prepared yesterday were SO healthy, we were both feeling ill by the evening, suffering from sugar and fat withdrawals. I had a splitting headache throughout the night last night, and I was sick to my stomach this morning. (I refuse to contemplate the possibility that I'm pregnant, so don't even both mentioning the idea). Because I'm nursing, I allowed myself a piece of American cheese on my egg white scramble this morning, and I'll have a spoon of peanut butter later.

Life is moving along at a steady pace, regardless of any lifestyle change. That is to say, nothing much is going on.

One of the reasons I listed for this life adjustment was that I wanted stamina. Stamina for life and for children and for movement and for activity. I know that feeling healthy and fit and strong provides stamina. Like so many other things, I need stamina to get stamina. I need to move in order to move easier. I need to eat in order to reduce cravings.

So my mantra is Baby Steps. As long as I stay with the plan of eating right and taking baby steps towards more activity, I'll still be proud of me.

Cute Ben Things:
Anna was in her swing yesterday, and Ben was "helpful" by wiping her face with her burp rag. She started screaming from all of his helping. He's starting to tell us things now. Last night, he was explaining about how his cars go down the track. Sure, he didn't use sentences, but I knew what he was talking about. "Guck" "Whee!" "Guck" "Whee!" "Honk Honk!" He used the motions for it, too.

Cute Anna Things:
Her smiles are so precious. She's just starting to coo a little, that is, making noises that aren't her usual grunts. She also has the most precious pout when she wants something that she's not getting immediately, but she hasn't started screaming yet. Mostly, I just love watching her facial expressions and admiring the color of her eyes. She kicks a lot now, and she stretches and squirms to get into a better position while she sleeps nestled against me at night. She'll also put her arm over her eyes when she's trying to sleep when the lights are on.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

What Am I Weighting For?

Candace, a bloggy friend who has become quite dear to my heart with her honesty and joy and love for her daughter Anna, has made this year the year for weight loss. We're in the same sad boat, about 100 pounds to lose.

I wasn't going to make any resolutions this year. I don't, usually. If something isn't important enough to me to make a change without a calendar date change, I know I won't stick to it. When I quit smoking, my motivation was to marry Chris and get pregnant. I'm still smoke-free. When I decided that I'd start keeping a tidier house, my motivation was having a house that is always clean enough for company (or close to it).

I've tried to lose weight many times over the last ten years since I started piling it on. The most weight I've lost is 30 pounds on the Body For Life program. This program has worked well for several people in my family, including my mom who totally changed her body shape on the program and has pretty much kept it off, despite a recent gain due to her knee replacement. I'm just not feeling it anymore. It's become too much a vehicle for EAS to sell their products, all of which are too costly for my budget.

My mom has also loved Weight Watchers, which she used to get back to her goal weight a couple years ago. The concept is good, and the eating plans are solid, but I'm not keen on spending money of the privilege to go and step on a scale every week. It's like I'm just paying for the accountability. And money is something I don't have.

So how will I do it this time? Baby steps. I'll start my cooking more and cooking healthier, more balanced meals (like always including a serving of vegetables) and chopping my portion size in half. I'm picking up some workout videos tonight from a lady who responded to my Freecycle ad. And we have an appointment to meet with the YMCA lady about financial assistance, though I'm totally bummed that drop-in care for my kids will cost me 4.50 an hour. I can't really afford that more than a couple times a week. I guess I hoped it was free.

I also signed on for Discovery Health's National Body Challenge. It will help me keep track of my goals and give me good ideas for integrating wellness into my life and my family. I want to change my lifestyle first and foremost, not necessarily lose weight, though that's also a goal. The intensity of my effort will translate to weight loss.

On their website today, they challenge us to write down five reasons I want to change, in order of priority. So here are mine:

1. I want to live a healthier, more wellness-focused life.
2. I want the stamina to play with my children.
3. A healthier body means a healthier mind.
4. I need to take responsibility for my body.
5. I want to set a good example for my children.

I'll post my starting measurements and before photo when I have them ready. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ben's Virtual Birthday Party

Ben turned two yesterday. It was such a busy day. It started out with breakfast and then an early nap while I decorated the dining room for his birthday lunch.

The curtain of balloons was a big hit. How to decorate for a toddler birthday
with less than five bucks? Try balloons and some twine. It was very festive.

Even Anna got in on the fun...

She was the perfect height in the bassinet to kick and punch the balloons. She really loved lying there, staring up into all the pretty balloons.

When it was time for lunch, Chris came home with Culvers for all of us. Ben ate the hotdog portion of his corndog, and then we cleared the table for CAKE!!! Ben was very excited about the candles. He said, "Ooooooh!" But would he eat the cake? No. Of course not. I tried to give him a taste of the frosting, but he would have none of that. He did touch it a little, but he refused to try a bite, even though we told him it was like candy and cookies.

After we gave up on the cake, it was time
to open some of presents we had for him. We were very surprised with how many presents Ben got for his birthday. We weren't really expecting any from anyone other than Nana. Of course, all of the presents were awesome and total hits.

As I type this, he's playing with his new instruments and watching a Nick Jr video. I've never seen Lazy Town and the Backyardigans before. I have to say, I think I could have survived without seeing them, but Ben is fascinated. This morning, we've played with his new Cars items and rolled his Thomas trains around the end table. He pushed on his new noisy truck right next to Anna's head while she was nursing, and he's raced many cars down his swirly race track.

Back to the party... he didn't stop playing with his new toys until I dragged him upstairs for a nap at 3. He didn't sleep much, and he had a meltdown because I wouldn't let him play with his new choo-choos in bed. He finally slept, but I had to wake him up at 4:30. Because... we had some very exciting plans for the evening!

Nana arrived around the same time Chris came home from work. There was much flurry as we got everyone ready to get out the door, and then Luke arrived. Yay! Luke really loved batting the balloons around. I'm pretty sure he thought they were the neatest things since play-doh and cookies.

Off we went to the Wisconsin Pizza Factory a few miles outside of town. It's like a low-key Chuck E Cheese. The boys didn't end up eating anything; they were too excited to get up on the big tower obstacle course. They raced up and down that thing for a solid 80 minutes before we bundled them back up into their coats to go home. They waited until their coats were back on to finally eat a bite of pizza. :)

Nighty-night time was nice. Ben and I watched some Thomas while he rolled his trains around on the sofa. Chris tucked our two-year-old boy into bed finally, and Ben sighed and passed out. So ended our day-long birthday party. I think I was as exhausted as Ben.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Attached

Check out more Wordless Wednesdays here and here.

Ben's Birthday Breakfast Entertainment

To start off Ben's birthday right, I made him his favorite breakfast: cheesy eggs. While we were sitting at the table, enjoying the meal, Ben started singing. Mind you, it's atonal and total gibberish, but it's singing. That's when I got the camera. For this video, you catch the tail end of the performance, then he starts playing peekaboo with Daddy and Anna. He provided all of the entertainment for his birthday breakfast!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

For Ben, Age Two

Ben dear. You turn two tomorrow. I'm amazed by you every day.

Over the past year, you have learned to walk better and to run really fast. You've learned to jump and turn somersaults. You've learned how to make squiggles with crayons and how to undress yourself.

All of those things are great, but they aren't what make you so dear to my heart. It's the way you run up to me and wrap your arms around my neck and kiss my cheek when you have an owwie. It's the way you sing with me and dance with me and cuddle with me. It's the way you jump with pleasure after sliding down your "wheeee!" slide. It's the way you say "George" and "Doggie" in the morning as you look forward to watching your favorite programs.

I love how much you love your little sister. I love how you play with her and entertain her and show her love. I was worried about bringing her home because I didn't want you to feel that I loved you less. I hope you will always know that she doesn't take any part of my heart that was yours to begin with. I'm your mama, and I always will be.

This past year, you've had to adjust to not going to daycare anymore. It was just you and me for a while, and I loved having that alone time with you. I loved taking you for walks on your bike around the block, even though I grew too big with your little sister inside me to do it after awhile. I loved reading to you and showing you how to draw and how to play with play-doh. I've loved letting you help me do chores around the house; you sweep very well, and you are good at wiping up messes off of the floor.

I could go on and on about all the little things you did when you were one years old. I won't, though. I'll just tell you now how much I'm looking forward to watching you grow and learn and love during the time that you are two years old. It will be a terrific year, I'm sure.

August 2007. You loved the freedom of running around the yard at Nana and Papa's house in Minocqua. You can't quite tell from this picture, but it was your first sprinkler experience. That's why you were making the funny face.

Late July 2007. There's not much better to do on a hot summer day than splash with your favorite friend in a pool in the backyard. You loved your play dates with your buddy Luke, the son of my dear friend Katie. I wonder who started splashing first... knowing you, it was probably your idea. You were always so great at splashing.

July 2007. We had a nice time at the Schofield Fun Days in a nearby town. Put on by the fire department, we went to listen to the live music, pet the animals at the petting zoo and eat some fair food. You were thrilled to play in your first sandbox, which they had created out of the sand volleyball court on the grounds. We let you get so good and dirty. Such fun!

July 2007. I lost track of how many times we went to Scholfield Park, just a mile from our house. You were so brave to go down the slide on your own. You never needed help climbing up to get there, and when you got to the top, you yelled "Wheee!" all the way down.

July 2007. We loved pushing that swing over and over again. When you'd get close to us, we'd tickle you behind the knees, and you'd shriek with laughter.

February 2007. You loved dragging things around our new house, and you loved the Thomas shoes you are wearing in this picture. When I look at this picture, though, I'm reminded of how absolutely wonderful your hair was before we finally did the buzz cut. Your hair was perpetually sticking straight up. Since it was winter, people assumed it was static, but no, it was naturally like that. A cowlick. I miss that.

February 2007. This picture illustrates your natural enthusiasm for life and your willingness to smile for pictures. I love these chubby cheeks. You can see the handle of your corn popper. We bought that in January, and you played with it constantly for months.

We had so much fun at your first birthday party. By the time we got to the cake, we were all tired, especially you. I remember smiling at the dazed look in your eyes as you tried desperately to enjoy your cake. We had to shove your hand in it to get you started.