Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Report Card

I set my goals a month ago. How have I done so far?

1. Lose 20 pounds by the summer
So far, so good. I've lost 5 pounds over the last 5 weeks.

2. Play my guitar for 30 minutes each week.
I still haven't picked it up. I've been busy with other things, but I hope to get to it within the next few months.

3. Read at least 4 books each month.
I've done okay. I've started more than 4, but I've only completed 3.

4. Complete the self-study program by April 11.
I'm still working on it. I've completed one more book toward that goal. Now I have to write my summary. And turn in all my other summaries to my advisor. I think I only have 5 or 6 books left to read.

5. Host a game night with friends.
As much as I'd like to do it now, it's going to have to wait a few more months. At least we can have game nights when our families are here next month.

6. Scrapbook at least once a month.
Nope. I've wanted to, but I've been busy with other things.

7. Promote to Future Director.
I still don't have a recruit. I may be getting closer, though...

8. Promote to Director by December 31.
Well, I can't do that until I promote to future director. My director wants me to promote by October 1.

9. Book a minimum of 3 shows each month.
I booked 5 for January, but only 2 have come to completion. One cancelled and I'm waiting to hear back on two other catalog shows. For February, I only have one definite show booked. I'm working to get two more, but I'm having a hard time with it. It's a great host special - any 2 products from the catalog at 60% off! Who can pass that up?!?

Okay, so I have a lot of work to do in several areas. The year is young, and I have 11 more months to get the other things started. I'm not going to give up on them just because January wasn't a banner month for everything. I'll just try harder to get to things in February.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Brown

I took a What's Your True Color? quiz and it said I'm brown.

So, is this me?

"You're brown, a credible, stable color that's reminiscent of fine wood, rich leather, and wistful melancholy." (Not so much melancholy.)

"Most likely, you're a logical, practical person ruled more by your head than your heart." (I agree.)

"With your inquisitive mind and insatiable curiosity, you're probably a great problem solver." (Of all the subjects I've taught, I prefer math.)

"And you always gather all of the facts before coming to a timely, informed decision." (In most cases...)

"Easily intrigued, you're constantly finding new ways to challenge your mind, whether it's by reading the newspaper, playing a trivia game, or composing a piece of music." (I can add reading various types of books, making jewelry, writing, playing Sudoku, etc.)

"Brown is an impartial, neutral color, which means you tend to see the difference between fact and opinion easily and are open to many points of view. Trustworthy and steady, you really are a brown at heart."

Actually, I like the color brown. I like to wear chocolate brown in the winter. My favorite coat is a long, dark brown leather one that I've had for 11 or 12 years. I also like to eat chocolate. (I prefer dark.) My hair is reddish-brown. Tan and beige are nice. I also wear a lot of khaki in the spring and summer.

I'm happy with being brown. What color are you?

ht: Cindy

Weigh-In Wednesday #2

Last week, I decided to go "public" with my weight loss progress with a new weekly post called "Weigh-In Wednesday". In it, I'll detail my workout strategies, my eating plan, and my struggles with them.

I didn't struggle too much with eating last week. I think a big part of that is seeing the numbers come down each week when I stand on the scales. That gives me the motivation to keep on with what I'm doing. I did really well with not eating a lot of sweets, and when the boys had snacks each morning and afternoon, I made choices like a low-fat granola bar, some chips and salsa, or a bowl of Cheerios. I had a few Hershey kisses, but I limited myself to just 2, and I sucked on them to make them last longer. :o)

For lunch today at Wendy's, I had a side salad with honey mustard dressing and a mandarin orange cup. I skipped the chicken nuggets, but I did munch on a few of Caleb's fries. (I have a hard time turning down French fries!) Next time I might try the salad with the nuggets and a low-calorie dressing. I need the protein after working out.

Today's workout went really well. My iPod worked this time, and my "Walk" playlist helped me walk at a really brisk pace. I completed a mile in just under 17 minutes! I went through my upper body weights circuit and added a new exercise: the fly. For my between-circuit laps, I walked 3 laps (.3 miles) in 5 minutes. After going through the circuit once more - and not quite getting all my repetitions in because of muscle exhaustion! - I walked another 4 laps and finished in a little under 7 minutes. All total: 1.7 miles in 29 minutes or less!

These are the tunes on my "Walk" playlist. (Some of them have a little faster beat than I can walk to, but I'm hoping to work up to it. There may be a problem, though, because I'm not that tall (only 5'4") and my stride isn't very long. If I took shorter steps I'd look funny, and I'm not up for jogging just yet.)
I Go to Extremes, Billy Joel
You May Be Right, Billy Joel
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me, Billy Joel
My Life, Billy Joel
We Didn't Start the Fire, Billy Joel (I thought of you, Taran.)
What I Want, Daughtry
Redemption, Switchfoot
Reached Down, Todd Agnew
Lay it Down, Todd Agnew
Romans 12:1, Todd Agnew
Where Were You?, Todd Agnew
Uptown Girl, Billy Joel
Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
All Fired Up, Petra
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, Reliant K
More than Fine, Switchfoot
Saved, Third Day
Took My Place, Third Day
I Can Feel It, Third Day
Keep On Shinin',Third Day
The Wonder of It All, Todd Agnew

This week/weekend, I want to focus on developing a workout plan for the days I don't go to the gym, which I'd like to start next week. I've decided to focus on my upper and lower body on MWF and my core on TTS. I'm reading Strength Training for Women (click the link on my "Reading List" sidebar for more info), and it's got some really good information in it. There are also a wide variety of exercise plans for a big range of fitness levels. I'm actually considering buying this book!

I know that if I do more focused exercise than what I get once a week, I should see a slight increase in weight loss, as well as a reshaping of my problem areas. Which brings me to today's weight report: 159.9! I lost another pound!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday #15

Last week was crazy, menu-wise. Hopefully this week will be more settled. I don't foresee any disruptions, as I've checked and double-checked my calendar. :o)

Monday: tacos

Tuesday: blackened tilapia, garlic butter rice, and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: corn and black bean soup, tortilla chips

Thursday: leftovers
Lost premieres and I don't want any distractions!

Friday: chicken enchiladas, salad

Saturday: homemade pizza, salad
This time I'm going with our standard mushroom, black olive, and onion pizza.

Super Bowl Sunday: super-stuffed baked potatoes, brownies

To see more menu plans, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Feast 177

It's been quite a while since I participated in Friday's Feast. This week's questions look interesting.

How many times per day do you usually laugh?
How can you even answer this? It depends on my mood and what's going on. Sometimes it's just once or twice, but it's usually more like 3 or 4. Just kidding. I honestly have no idea!

What do your sunglasses look like?
They're magnetic clip-ons, so they basically look just like my glasses, only darker. I think the lenses are amber/brown.

You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It's been probably 12 years since I was there. I miss it!

Main Course
Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
I don't know specifically about my city, but the Metroplex in general has lots to do: zoos, aquariums, farms, museums, professional sports teams, a rodeo, and tons of places to shop and eat.

If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?
Orange, like a sunset.

The Machine

antique fire engine, Owens Spring Creek Farm, Richardson, TX

We haven't been there in well over a year. We'll go back this spring! Admission has increased, but I think there are more things to do there now, including a hay ride. The boys will love that! I think we'll see if Allison wants to meet us there with Grant...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kicking Off "Weigh-In Wednesday"

I've actually made measurable progress in my weight-loss efforts!

Even though I started my workout program last fall and could tell a difference in the way my clothes fit, my weight stayed the same. Then we took turns getting sick and I wasn't able to go to the gym for a month. And it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I ate freely while I wasn't working out. And I lost all that I had worked for. My weight stayed basically the same, but my body went back to fitting in my clothes the old way again.

I like to think I started over with the new year.

First, I changed the way I work out. I challenge myself and push myself instead of keeping to the same pace each week. I even walked a 17-minute mile today - plus another .6 miles at the same quick pace! And without the help of my iPod! (It got stuck on my new "Walk" playlist and wouldn't play. Billy checked it this evening and it was fine, so I don't know what the deal was. At least now I know I can do it on my own, without a snappy Billy Joel beat.) Second, I changed the way I eat. I eat less and make healthier choices. Read more about my weight-loss plan here.

I only weigh myself once a week - on Wednesdays after I work out. On my way out of the ladies' locker room, I stop off at the scales and check my progress.

When I "began" 3 weeks ago, I weighed in at 164.9 lbs.

Last week, I weighed in at 162.5 lbs.

Today, I weighed in at 160.9 lbs.

Next week? Next month? Will I reach my goal of 20 lbs. by the end of May? Tune in each week to "Weigh-In Wednesday" to find out.

(I started to post my weight as 1*4.9, etc., but I need to be real and up-front about this. So, yes, you now know what I weigh. Surprised? I hide it well...)

Seeing the numbers go down each week really motivates me to keep at it. Now I just need to fine-tune my toning and body-shaping plan. Feel free to encourage me! That helps, too!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday #14

Welcome to the worst-looking post in my blogging history...

Last week ran pretty smoothly, but Friday's pizza got replaced with chili-cheese corn dogs. I got busy with other things and didn't get around to starting supper until nearly 6:00, which was too late to get started on pizzas. Saturday night ended up being pizza night and the Greek-style pizza I made turned out good. It's not my favorite, but it was a nice change from our usual. The chicken strips and fries are being shifted to this week.

Update: Things are changing! When I was moving things around on the menu, I forgot that I had to have some dental work done this afternoon. I don't feel like cooking or chewing, so we'll eat whatever tonight. I'm not going to cook something delicious and not feel like eating it!

Additional update: Let's revise this yet one more time... I'm not changing it again!

Monday: crispy Parmesan chicken strips, seasoned fries, salad pot luck

Tuesday: vegetable fried rice, egg rolls
This is a great way to get the boys to eat some spinach! I add finely chopped spinach along with chopped carrots and thin slices of baby corn. The boys love the rice, and the spinach is too small to pick out, so they eat it all. And without complaining!

Tuesday: chicken quesadillas
I have everything I need for this - except the right kind of cheese... Go figure. But it's supposed to be cold and wet all day today, and I don't feel like getting out in it to shop for groceries. I think I'll just use string cheese on the boys' quesadillas and the sliced pepper Jack on mine and Billy's.

Wednesday: corn and black bean soup, tortilla chips
Billy came up with this recipe a few years ago. It's really good, but I can't remember all the ingredients... Guess I better get his list before I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Wednesday: chicken quesadillas, salad vegetable fried rice, egg rolls

Thursday: leftover soup crispy Parmesan chicken strips, seasoned fries, salad macaroni & cheese, hot dogs

Friday: chicken quesadillas, salad pot luck again
I have a PC show that night, so I'll be sampling Baked Potato Soup and Easy Apple Crisp.

Saturday: crispy Parmesan chicken strips, fried ravioli, marinara sauce for dipping
Our small group is supposed to meet here. I don't know what the plan is yet... Guess I should find this out before my grocery trip as well.
For our small group meeting, we're having an appetizer potluck. The one we did before Christmas went over well and seemed to be a lot easier than coordinating a meal where everyone brings something. Next month might be a good time to have super stuffed baked potatoes...

Sunday: sandwiches

For more menu ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie. They'll be much easier to read than mine.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tuscan Soup

I took a recipe for Italian Chicken Noodle Soup that a friend gave me and tweaked it to make a delicious Tuscan soup. Billy said it reminds him a lot of Italian Wedding Soup. The first night it had a good flavor, but there wasn't much in it. Billy made some suggestions and I added to it the second night. It was so much better. We ended up getting about 4 meals out of it! Following is the recipe with mine and Billy's additions. (Changes from the original recipe are marked with an asterisk.)

Tuscan Soup

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned, drained, and cut into large chunks*
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1 can diced tomatoes - garlic/oregano/basil blend
1 lb. ziti pasta*
grated Parmesan cheese

Boil chicken in large pot of water. (Cover chicken with water about two inches from top of pot.) Remove chicken and let cool, then tear into medium-sized portions and put back into the chicken stock.

Add sausage, seasonings, spinach, and tomatoes and simmer for an hour. Add more seasonings if necessary.

When ready to eat, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

Sprinkle top of each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

This soup is amazingly easy to make and has a great flavor. It went really well with the Asiago Cheese Bread I got from Panera. It's definitely a keeper!

Friday, January 18, 2008


"Little Boy"

"Fat Man"

Billy and I toured the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, NM, in the summer of '98. "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" are replicas of bombs dropped on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945). Testing of these bombs occurred on July 16, 1945, at White Sands, NM, which we also visited.

Check out more "disastrous" events at Photo Friday.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

13 Book Series

Hey, look! I finally added a Thursday Thirteen banner!

This week's list, a look at 13 book series that I've read or am reading.

1. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I loved reading these books when I was a little girl. Mama came across them a while back, but I opted not to get them. I don't have shelf space for them, and I don't really think it's something the boys would get into.

2. The Sunfire Romance series
Big during the 80s, these were clean romance novels set in different historical periods. I remember I couldn't wait for my allowance and a trip to the bookstore to pick up the newest book. I had several of them, but not nearly all. I wonder what happened to them...

3. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Billy introduced me to Lonesome Dove after we were married. He had read it in an honors English class in college that a friend had talked me out of taking. I devoured it - then found the sequel and the prequels and read all of them.

Dead Man's Walk tells how it all began. I couldn't put it down!

Comanche Moon, which just aired as a mini-series on CBS, was second. It was really good, too, but it took two tries before I could read the whole book. I came upon a very disturbing, graphic description of violence and had to put the book down for a year or so, then started over with it. The second time wasn't so bad since I knew what was coming.

The final book in the series, Streets of Laredo just wasn't as good for me. I read it and I liked it, but with some of the characters that I had come to "know and love" gone, it was difficult.

(I know, I let myself get too wrapped up in the characters I'm reading about sometimes, but isn't that the fun of reading a book?)

4. The Monk series by Lee Goldberg
Yes, that's Monk of the TV series. I found the first two books one day while browsing in a bookstore. I couldn't help but pick it up to read and before I knew it, I was laughing out loud in the aisle. I have the first three on my bookshelf. It's a series that I had to have; besides, I don't think the library carries them. The fourth book came out a while back, but I'm holding out for the less expensive paperback - which I just realized was released this month! Plus, they all need to be alike. I can't have 3 paperbacks and 1 hardback of the same series... :o)

5. The Mitford series by Jan Karon
These were good, but I got burned out after a while. I think a few more have come out since the biggest part of the series ended, but I haven't really been interested in reading them.

6. The Redemption series by Karen Kingsbury
This is an excellent series! I first learned of it through a daily online book club I'm a part of. I thought it was a good read, so I forwarded that week's excerpts to my sister Lindsay. She started reading the series and got me hooked. I started giving them to my mother-in-law for birthdays, Christmases, etc., and she's hooked. My mom read them all this year and passed them on to my Aunt Sue, who also got hooked. You'll fall in love with the Baxter family as you laugh and cry with them through 5 books.

7. The First Born series by Karen Kingsbury
Another excellent series which follows the families in the Redemption series but from a different point of view. I don't want to go into much detail or I'd spoil the first series for you. This series also has 5 books.

8. The Sunrise series by Karen Kingsbury
This continues to follow the Baxters and the other families introduced in the Redemption and First Born series. There are 4 books in this series, but I think only 2 are out. Maybe 3.

9. Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries
These are really fun mysteries to read. I can breeze through one in just a few days. I've read up to K or L, and Grafton has only written through S or T. I hope to get back into these this summer.

10. The Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross
Mama introduced these books to me. The title character is hilarious! If you've ever watched the movie Steel Magnolias, think of Miss Julia as 80% Ouiser (Shirley McClain's character) and 20% Clairee (Olympia Dukakis' character). I've got book 3 in my basket by my rocking chair, but I'm not going to let myself read it until I've finished the book I'm currently reading for my self-study program (that I will finish by April 11!).

11. Dave Pelzer's autobiographical series
Finally, some non-fiction on the list. Pelzer writes about his life as an abused child in A Child Called "It". In Lost Boy, he chronicles his experiences in the maze of the foster care system. Finally in A Man Named Dave, find out how he overcame his past to become a light of hope, "commended by several U.S. presidents and international agencies" (from an editorial review on

12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I found it while wandering through the library at my grandmother's church one weekday while she worked. I don't remember how old I was or why I was there, but she let me in there and I spent quite a while lost in Narnia. I had pretty much forgotten about it until a few years ago. Billy bought me the complete Narnia series in one huge paperback book as a Christmas gift.

I read and loved The Magician's Nephew, which I had never heard of before. It tells how the wardrobe in the subsequent books came to be magical. I reread The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe after the movie was released. It was every bit as good as I had remembered.

I followed that shortly with The Horse and His Boy. I love the title, but the book was really hard to get through. For some reason, I just can't make myself skip any part of a book. Skim, yes; skip, no. So when I finally decided I needed to get through it, I plugged away again, skimming here, reading there. I read a chapter a day, and as I got toward the end, things picked up a bit.

I haven't started Prince Caspian yet, but I've heard it's much better than The Horse and His Boy. I'd like to read it before the movie comes out later this year.

I don't know which books follow Prince Caspian, but it looks to be quite a few. The book I have is a really thick one.

13. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
A friend's daughter described these books to me a few years ago. One day as I was wandering through our public library (I seem to wander a lot in libraries, don't I?), I found them. My curiosity was piqued, so I checked out the first book and read through it fairly quickly. They're okay, not my favorite series by any means, but it looked like something Caleb would enjoy so I thought it'd be good to know what's there.

He saw the movie at Billy's parents' house a few months ago and loved it, and when I told him about the books, he got really excited about reading them. He's almost finished with the third book now; I've only read the first two.

Bonus: 14. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
I know this is technically not a series, but rather one book in 3 parts. I haven't actually started reading it yet, either. I did read The Hobbit a few years ago. I really enjoyed it and had intended to go from there right into The Lord of the Rings, but I ended up needing a break from Tolkien. It was a tiring book. This year I'd like to at least start The Fellowship of the Ring. I think having seen the movies multiple times will help me get through them. I've heard it's got lots of detailed descriptions, which tend to lose me after a while. I think I may be doing some skimming in this series.

There's one series missing from my list (because I haven't read it and don't own it) that people either love or hate: Harry Potter. I haven't read them, but I'd like to, mostly just to see what all the fuss is about. I've read arguments on both sides of the issue, but I need to read them for myself to make up my own mind about them. Maybe this summer...

Caleb has also gotten into the book series thing:

1. Right now he's reading through Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He's actually one book ahead of me.

2. The Magic Tree House (time travel, history, geography, science)

3. Geronimo Stilton (adventures of a mouse reporter)

4. Flat Stanley (adventures of a young boy)

5. The Magic Schoolbus chapter books (science)

6. Junie B. Jones (adventures of a kindergartner, then a first grader)

7. Ramona

8. Henry Huggins

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday #13

Monday: grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, chips

Tuesday: McDonald's (I have a PC meeting that's about 45 minutes away, so we'll need to eat on the way.)

Wednesday: Tuscan Chicken Soup, bread from Panera

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: homemade pizza (I'm thinking mozzarella and black olives with marinara sauce for the boys. Billy and I will have mozzarella and feta cheeses, black and green olives, and rosemary with olive oil and garlic brushed on the crust. I'll add some chopped tomatoes to my half.)

Saturday: Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips, seasoned fries, salad

Sunday: sandwiches or leftovers

For more menu inspiration, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Not a Total Failure

I was really excited this morning about making a Mint Chocolate Fudge Cake to take on the retreat I'll be leaving for shortly. I mixed up a Chocolate Fudge cake mix from a box, following the low-fat instructions, and added a package of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips - the real cause for my excitement.

Forty-five minutes later, I checked the cake. The top (bottom) had crusted over nicely with just a few cracks and it looked done, but when I put my cake tester in one of the cracks, it came out gooey. I let it bake another 4 minutes and checked again. Still a little gooey. I put it in for another 4 minutes, then went to supervise Caleb's math work.

About 2 minutes into the additional baking time, Caleb said, "What's that smell?" I told him it was the cake and he said, "It smells like it's burning!" I couldn't smell it, but I took his word for it and took it out of the oven. It didn't look burned.

After it had cooled about 15 minutes, I loosened the edges and turned it out onto the bottom of my cake carrier. Oops! About two-thirds of it came out. The bottom (top) third of the cake stayed in my pan, and it looked really gooey. I was afraid it wasn't done, but the part that came out looked fine.

I didn't want to take a horrendous cake to the retreat, so after about 15 more minutes I cut myself a slice to share with the boys. It tasted great, so I heated up my chocolate fudge frosting and drizzled it over the sorry-looking top. It doesn't look so bad now, just short and bumpy. Maybe it won't scare anyone off...

After my pan had cooled, I stuck it in the sink to soak. When I got ready to wash it, I realized the bottom (top) didn't come out because it had burned a little. The gooeyness was from all the baking chips I had put in. Yeah, I should have just put in half the bag. I'll do that next time, and there will be a next time. This is a really good cake!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

13 Things I'm Doing to Lose Weight

Let me tell you, coming up with 13 things for any sort of list is a challenge. Either I come up with way more than I need, or as is more often the case, I come up with only 7 or 8 things and have to rack my brain to complete the list. Today's list falls in the latter category. Read on to see just how many things I can think of that I'm doing to lose weight.

1. Watching calories. Notice I said watching calories, not counting them. Counting seems really impossible to do unless you eat out all the time and can find calorie counts online or you eat from a box and can find the numbers on the back. It's too hard to keep track of all the calories in all the ingredients in a recipe, then figure how much of each would be in a serving.

Something I noticed yesterday: a side salad from Wendy's has 35 calories. Add a regular (not low-fat or fat free) dressing to that and the numbers go up dramatically. My favorite is honey mustard dressing, which adds 250 calories! I often get an order of chicken nuggets to cut up and mix in with my salad. Well, that adds another 230 calories! By the time I've finished my "healthy" lunch and am feeling good about making better choices, I've just consumed 515 calories that I don't need. (Calorie counts found at The Daily Plate. HT: one of Cindy's readers who posted a comment.)

2. Walking a 20-minute mile at the gym each week. By the time I'm finished with my entire workout, I've actually walked a mile and a half, but the first thing I do when I get there is walk a 20-minute (or under!) mile. (Yesterday I did a mile in 18.5 minutes, and I was feeling it all the way. Thankfully I had recharged my iPod, so I had some great upbeat tunes to keep me at my pace.) After my big walk, I do a little upper body circuit training (more to come on that) and walk an additional .5-.6 miles between and after sets.

3. Circuit training at the gym each week. I read somewhere recently that to lose weight effectively, you need to focus on your whole body, not just the problem areas. I also read that strength training not only helps with weight loss but with reshaping the body. When I was working with weight equipment during my last long stretch of going to the gym regularly, I could really tell a difference.

Unfortunately, I've only been focusing on my upper body in my circuit training. I have a bad knee and too many squats or leg extensions put me in a bind. Still I don't need to exclude my lower body. I figure my walking pace does some good, but I need a little more. Yesterday at the library I checked out a couple of books on exercising: Ten-Minute Tone-Ups for Dummies and Strength Training for Women. I'm hoping to get some guidance on developing an effective lower body workout from them.

I know I've mentioned that I like to play racquetball, and that puts a lot of strain on the knees. In fact, that's how I injured mine in the first place. When I know I'm going to be doing something that stresses that joint, I wear my knee brace, but it's just not something I want to have to wear all the time.

4. Doing crunches a few mornings a week. I need to do better in this area. First I need to be more committed to doing them, to get into a routine and stick with it rather than just doing them when I feel like it or when I have a little extra time in the mornings. I also need to do more than just crunches. There are plenty of other exercises I can do at home and not have to rely on going to the gym.

5. Drinking more water. I never drink coffee or alcohol, and I rarely drink juice or soft drinks, so I don't have to worry about all the calories that come along with them. My morning drink of choice is 1% milk (100 calories per 8 ounces), or maybe a cup of hot chocolate if I'm feeling chilled to the bone. The rest of the time, I drink water. Still I don't drink enough of it. I usually don't have my first glass of it until lunch, which isn't good. I need to drink at least 2 glasses before lunch, 1 with it, 2 in the afternoon, 1 with supper, and 2 sometime before I go to bed. That makes the 8 recommended. Now I just need to do it. I figure I'd be better at it if I had a visual reminder, a chart to mark off or something. Maybe tally marks on my wall calendar...

6. Consuming only water between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. I've done this for a long time, though I occasionally slip up - usually when we're out of town. But I've come to realize that when I do slip up, I can just as easily start over with it. It's not an all-or-nothing deal.

7. Snacking smarter. It's almost like the boys watch the clock. Rather their bodies are like clocks. They'll ask, "Is it snack time yet?" and I'll see that it's 10:30-ish - snack time. I get them something, and I have a little something for myself. Afternoon snacks used to be at 4:00, when Jacob got up from his nap, but since he's no longer doing that (a blessing and a curse!), they snack sometime between 3:00 and 3:30. I get them something, and I have a little something for myself again. I've noticed that when they're out of town, I don't snack nearly as much. I get busy doing other things, not watching the clock to make sure they get their snack on time and don't throw off the next meal.

I know I need to have a little something to ward of the hunger so I'm not absolutely starving by the time I do eat my next meal. I just need to pay attention to what I do have. I need to choose low-fat yogurt or string cheese or a handful of nuts instead of chips or cookies or Little Debbies.

8. Cooking healthier. I've been doing this for quite a while. I try to stay away from a lot of pre-packaged foods, though we do indulge in chili-cheese corn dogs every once in a while... I usually make my own pizzas, crust included, instead of eating frozen ones. When we have chicken pot pie, it's homemade. Well, not the crust... But I do my best to stay away from all those additives and preservatives that our bodies don't need. I also try to cut the fat out of a lot of things by using low-fat or fat-free ingredients when I can. I cut the fat from meats by trimming them before I cook them, and I cut excess fat from my ground beef, when I use it, by running it under very hot water after it's cooked.

9. Eating smaller portions. This is my biggie! I love food in general, and if it's something I really like, I want more of it. I need to learn to be satisfied with one portion. One thing that would make smaller portions easier, if I'd just do it, would be to pay more attention to my menu plan for the week. If I'm cooking something that I really enjoy eating on a particular day, I should eat less at other meals so I can afford to have a little more later.

I shouldn't have too much trouble eating smaller portions at lunch. Most days we eat lunch at home, and it's usually a sandwich. I get tired of eating them every day, and it's getting to the point where I don't eat a whole one anymore because of that. I should just start making myself half a sandwich and filling in the rest with carrot sticks or apple slices.

10. Moving more. This isn't quite the same thing as exercising. When I talk about moving more, I mean getting off my bottom and doing things. I've cleaned out my closet. I've straightened the boys' room and closet. Their play room is next on my list, and that'll be quite an undertaking. I still have a few boxes stashed here and there that I need to go through as well. I've started making the boys' beds each morning, and that's quite an undertaking. Making Caleb's top bunk is a workout in itself! Whenever I change his sheets, I end up working up quite a sweat!

11. Allowing myself to have small treats. I'm not depriving myself of the sweets I love. If I did, I know I'd get so crazy for some that I'd binge. If I have two Hershey's Mint Truffle Kisses or a small handful of M&Ms a day, that's okay. I just need to be sure I don't go overboard.

Okay, that's all I can come up with so far. I have gotten a few recommendations, though:

12. Wearing a pedometer. How would that work with just staying in the house all day? I don't think I'd get enough walking done to account for much. Besides, my steps in the house wouldn't be the same as steps when I actually walk. I'll have to check into that.

13. Having dressing on the side instead of on top of my salad. I used to do this some, but I think I quit because it was just easier to have it on top. Still, it would be a good thing to get back to doing. When I eat salad at Wendy's, I could just squeeze some dressing into a ketchup cup and dip into that. That way I could still have my honey mustard dressing. Or I could order a low-fat or fat-free dressing and pour on top.

I'll continue on with this as I find time today. For now, it's time to get our school day going. Hopefully I can think of 3 more things I'm doing to lose weight so I can complete my Thursday Thirteen. Oh, and if you do come back to this post to finish reading it, you may want to skim the part you've already read for some edits. I've found a place or two that I'll be revising and/or adding to...

Monday, January 7, 2008


Caleb won the 2nd grade spelling bee this morning!

The next to last contestant misspelled "blue", which Caleb spelled correctly. His next word was "chew".

The 2nd grade list had several homonyms on it, and the caller had said before the bee began that it was up to the contestants to ask for definitions or sentences if they needed them. I think that's what threw the little girl off. Caleb realized it earlier in the bee when asked to spell "toe".

My friend Jenny's daughter Abigail won the 1st grade bee. We left right after the 3rd grade bee because Caleb and Jacob were both antsy and bored. It was good for us to stick around for that bee, though, because Caleb had a chance to hear the words on the 3rd grade list. They're quite a bit harder than the 2nd grade list, so we'll need to get an early start on them next school year.

Another friend of mine had a son participating in the 5th grade bee. I'm not sure how the bees for 4th grade and up work, but I think each grade participates separately, with the winner from each participating in an overall bee. The winner from it will represent the homeschool association in the county bee next month. The winner of the county bee will then either participate in a regional bee or go on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

Many years ago when I taught middle school, I worked with preparing my students for that bee. The word list is actually a book of several lists that follow different topics. The words range from very easy to exceptionally hard. I remember the first year we participated in it. I was trying to encourage my students to get involved, and they wanted me to give them examples of the words they'd have to spell. I started reading from one of the lists and several students decided they didn't want any part of it. A few of my gifted students wanted me to tell them some of the harder words, so I challenged them to spell "otorhinolaryngology". I read the definition to them (the study of the ear, nose, and throat) and showed them how to figure out the word one part at a time. By the end of the day, many of them could spell the word. I had several students participate in the bee that year. Only a handful participated the next year, and no one did the year after that.

I don't remember ever participating in anything other than class spelling bees when I was in school. I would've loved to work toward the Scripps National Spelling Bee. In fact, I may get out those three lists/books from my teaching days just for fun. Yeah, I'm a nerd.

Menu Plan Monday #12

This is going to be an easy week since I'll be gone part of the weekend. The guys will have to fend for themselves, but there are plenty of quick-fix items around.

Monday: Taco Layer Dip (We'll be having our own small party in honor of the LSU game tonight. I wanted to have fun food, and I didn't want to be stuck cleaning up the kitchen during the game!)

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Crock-Pot steak with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots (Temps are in the 70s and 80s this week, so I'm not really wanting to make soup. Hopefully things will be cooler next week. I still have several soups on my list that I'm wanting to make!)

Thursday: pancakes and sausage

Friday: ??? (I'll be attending a SWIM Board retreat.)

Saturday: ??? (I'll be returning from the retreat shortly after supper time, and I'll probably be too full from snacking all day to eat anything.)

Sunday: sandwiches (AWANA night)

A week or so ago, while I was looking over other menu plans on I'm an Organizing Junkie, I came across a really great post titled "How much does that recipe cost?" I've been saving my grocery receipts for several months because I've wanted to compare monthly costs since I started monthly menu planning instead of weekly. No, I still haven't gotten around to doing that, but now I'm inspired to grab that stack of receipts and figure not only monthly costs, but individual recipe costs as well. I'm really curious about the results...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Passage of Time

January 4, 1992

December 25, 2007

16 years together: 1 cat, 2 children, 7 places of residence, 8 jobs, 11 automobiles, 13 (and counting) years of post-baccalaureate schooling, unmentionable pounds, hundreds of gray hairs, thousands of laughs, infinite love.

Even though someone else took these photos, it makes for a great combination Passage of Time/Happy Anniversary post.

For more "Passage of Time" photos, check out Photo Friday.