Saturday, May 31, 2008

Breaking up is HARD to do!

A while back I wrote a post about breaking up with my butt. Well, I've been trying to break up with my butt for two LONG months now. It hasn't been easy. It seems like if I relax even a little bit, there it is, trying to lure me back. There have been some challenges along the way. A visit to my sister in Wilmington, NC...the Bon Jovi concert...the Preakness of course. How can a person be expected to diet while doing these things? Then there was that short but beautiful two weeks I participated in the dinner exchange. I teamed up with three other girls and each person took one day, Monday through Thursday, and made and delivered dinner to the other three families. It was kind of crazy but I love to cook and the other three days you had a wonderful meal delivered to your door. There were two major problems. The driving was killing me because we just lived too far apart. And the food!!! Not conducive to breaking up with that butt. Among the most tempting were baby back ribs, spaghetti pie with tons of oozing, melted cheese, and some kind of dessert that had snickers bars in it. Ahhhh! That stupid butt was using my friends to try and come back.

Then there's the running. I'm shocked to say, I actually started to like it. I even planned to run a 5K on Memorial Day. Eventually, I got a little muscle pull in my left quad which I continued to run with. It turned into a hip flexor pull and hurt so much it was waking me up in the night. So I stopped running for two weeks in order to let it heal. I want to feel good when I run and it was getting more and more painful every day. So, since I wouldn't be running away from my butt and regularly listening to my motivational break up music, I needed a plan. I'm a little more than halfway to my GREAT REWARD and I refuse to stop now. I also noticed that even though I was losing weight, I wasn't necessarily losing all fat. I want to get leaner so I started doing some research. EVERYTHING I read about cutting fat said you had to cut carbs. My worst nightmare. I love carbs. I love sugar. I love bread, pasta, dessert. But...that butt...I had to try something drastic.

After two days I was completely miserable. Tired, hungry, and not sure it was even working. You can eat all the meat and lean proteins you want but last night I couldn't even finish my grilled chicken breast. You can even have one of my favorite things, cheese. But woman cannot live on cheese alone. I was starting to think I could just find a way to settle for that butt. Forget the cookies and bread, I have never thought a banana sounded so good. Well, after one week of torture, I do think it might be working. I haven't weighed myself yet so we'll see but I'm willing to stick it out a little longer at this point. I will, however, be visiting my stepdad this weekend in Miami. That could be a challenge. That butt may be lurking around every corner.

With my reward in sight I keep pressing on. I started running again yesterday and the pain is back but I'm not quitting until I get to the end. I get through it by dreaming of one more thing. When I reach my goal weight I have a special day planned for myself. A day of gluttony. Is that bad? It probably is. Kind of like a one night stand with my old butt. But in my mind right now I see myself eating out three meals and baking all day. I'm making a mental list of all the indulgences.

Pancake Pantry for breakfast (Sausage and Cheese omelet with a side of pancakes)
Pizza for lunch (any pizza will do, never met a pizza I didn't like)
Mexican for dinner (again, not too picky here)

And then the sweets
Chocolate chip cookies, Caramel cake, Brownies, Blondies, Homemade ice cream, Chocolate covered strawberries (heck, chocolate covered anything), Donuts, I want it ALL!

Wow, suddenly I have visions of Veruca on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and some giant golden eggs. Truth is, I'll probably feel sick by lunchtime and that will be the end of it. Anyway, I just want one long cheat day and then back to eating like a normal person. Back to moderation and maintenance. Back to sanity and satisfaction. Here's to kissing that butt goodbye and cashing in on my great reward!

Has anyone else out there tried the no carb thing? Did it work? How did you feel? What did you eat? What are you indulgences?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Live With a Nudist

She's two and a half.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend who has a child about the same age. She was telling me about how her son is into taking all his clothes off now. I just laughed and said, "Well, thankfully we haven't had to deal with that yet." Big Sister is almost five and never went through that phase so I was expecting the same from Little Sister. I'm not sure why. They've not done much the same. Big Sister never had to wear a bib and ate her peas one at a time with her pointer finger and thumb. Little Sister eats like it's the last day to eat and in the process gets about half of her food on her face, in her seat, and on the floor.

Anyway, THAT VERY NIGHT, Little Sister stripped down. THAT NIGHT. How did she know? It's like sometimes she lives to prove me wrong. I wrote about a midnight nudist excursion here but the most recent strip down took the cake.

A couple of days ago I was feeling down in the dumps over the child of one acquaintance on life support and the death of another child of another acquaintance on the same day. Both due to tragic accidents. So I spent the day really bonding with the girls. We ran through the sprinklers, we baked cookies, we watched a movie cuddled together on the couch in the middle of the day. And the grand finale? We painted finger nails and toe nails. Hot pink. Fuscia Power to be exact. This was Little Sister's first time and although it was difficult to keep her still long enough to let things dry and she did have to have a couple of fingers repainted because she immediately touched them while they were wet, overall, she was giddy over it. She repeatedly showed me her nails and said, "Look my hands Mama!" So I settled them down for one more episode of The Wonder Pets before bed and went downstairs to clean up a little.

No more than five minutes later, Little Sister was on the catwalk looking down into the great room saying, "Look my leg Mama, my leg." Distracted, I didn't look up at first and just kept saying, "Uh huh...yeah...your leg." But she kept on and on with, "Look my leg Mama," and it kept getting louder. I finally looked up to see my nude child sticking her leg through the rails and noticed it had large mysterious hot pick blotches on it. Suddenly I had a vision. Hot pink nail polish. Where had I put it? I thought I put it up high on the buffet in the bonus room where she couldn't even see it. But somehow, in the last five minutes, she had managed to find it, get it, and paint herself. I bolted up the stairs and immediately started looking around. I ran into the bonus room to find this. And there in front of the buffet was a toy trunk that seriously weighs about 150 pounds (now that's some FUSCIA POWER) and the nail polish right where I left it, only it looked like this. Somehow she dragged the toy trunk in front of the buffet, twisted the top off of the nail polish, stripped down, painted herself, and then came to show me her handiwork. I spent the next few minutes wiping her down with cotton balls and nail polish remover. I spent a few minutes after that looking on the internet for a magic formula to get nail polish out of carpet. I spent about an hour after putting the girls to bed finding out the magic formula to remove the nail polish from the carpet is not so magic.

Now I have to say, it did kind of challenge my thoughts of wanting to dote on my darling girls and not focus on the material things and the stuff that doesn't really matter. Had someone asked me earlier that day, "So how about your carpet? How attached are you to that?" I'd have thought, "It's just carpet." Well, I confess, I care about that carpet more than I want to admit but in the end it really doesn't matter. It's a lesson. It's a memory. It's a story I'll tell at her rehearsal dinner one day if we're blessed enough to get there. It will be funny then I guess. And it is just carpet. I have lovely hot pink blotches to remind If I could just keep her dressed...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fear - Part 3

In the past 48 hours I’ve been challenged. I’ve written about fear a couple of times and I know all the moms out there can relate. When you become a mom, you get a real test in trusting God. It’s a challenge to trust God with my own life, it’s a little easier to believe God for someone else, but when it comes to my children, I want control.

A couple of days ago, a young couple from my Sunday school class found themselves at the local children’s hospital with their 22 month old son on life support. Their “normal” day suddenly interrupted with a tragic accident. You can be so protective of your children, safety proof your home, watch them diligently, and still…accidents happen. As I drove to the hospital, I fought back tears as I thought of my 2 ½ year old. I couldn’t fathom their pain. But I saw the grace of God in action. I’ve written before that God has spoken into my life, “My grace is sufficient.” I’ve struggled to believe that. Believe it in a real live way with faith that moves. But I saw it in that young mother at the hospital. I picked up my children, went home, put them to bed, and settled onto the couch to wait for the news. Moments later, fear and horror slapped me in the face again. When I couldn’t imagine something worse, there it was. Another loss…this time, a child the age of my oldest daughter and unbelievably, with her brother behind the wheel of the car that hit her. I can’t begin to imagine what a parent does in that situation. You can be so protective of your children, safety proof your home, watch them diligently, and still…accidents happen. It makes me want to never leave the house again. It makes me want to let our two girls sleep in our room every night until they graduate. It makes me want to never let them out of my sight again. For now anyway.

I keep remembering a Beth Moore Bible study I did a couple of years ago called Believing God. I remember coming to a real turning point with one question in particular. She asked us to list what could happen if you really believed God, if you gave him everything, if you trusted Him completely. I wrote things like, I could lose someone I love, we could lose a job, we could get sick. But I also wrote things like, true joy, blessing, fulfill my purpose, peace, being able to truly know and see God. The next thing she asked was for you to list what could happen if you didn’t believe God, if you didn’t trust Him with everything. It was so clear. All of the terrible things I listed could still happen…but none of the good things. I wasn’t warding off trials with worry. I wasn’t keeping bad things from happening by not trusting Him. I was missing out on the whole purpose, the whole point, the really good stuff, I was missing out on the greatest thing in this life, Jesus himself. Satan still tells the same lie he’s told since the Garden of Eden. “You will not surely die” might as well be “God is a liar”. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God…” might as well be “God is keeping the good stuff from you. If you trust Him, you’re screwed, you’re missing out!” (Gen. 3) But Satan is the father of lies. Why do we trust him more than we trust God? Is it because sometimes we are more like him? Is it because deep down (and sometimes not so deep down) we want to be God? Goodness, there’s a rabbit trail I could write pages and pages on.

Anyway, back to the fear and where I am right now. There’s one more thing that really stands out from another Beth Moore study called The Patriarchs. There was a drawing of bookends with books in between. We had to write on the binders of the books all the really tough questions we had. Today I might write…why did you let an only child, who took his parents almost four years to conceive, fall headfirst into an old sump pump?...or…why did you allow two children to suffer such tragedy in such an amazing family? But on one bookend was written GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY and on the other was GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE. All those difficult questions fall between those two truths.

James 4:14 says Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. But it also says in 2 Peter 3:28 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. Right now, for these families, I would imagine a day feels like a thousand years but not the reverse. But I like to think of it like my friend, Stu Southard, who says that if a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day then those who pass on before us will get a couple of steps in and then we’ll be right there. I absolutely don’t intend to diminish the pain and suffering here. The pain seems unbearable. But it is where he draws us close, where he shows up BIG, where he refines us. Would I choose it? No. Am I in a place of saying, “Whatever it takes Lord! Me…my family…your will be done!” Honestly? No. But I’m weak. I’m a sinner. I’ve got no power of my own. And my sin is even worse that I’ll ever know or acknowledge. But I don’t despair. Because my hope is in Christ. Christ alone. And as I preach the gospel to myself I’m also reminded that if we knew what God knows, all of it, we would do what He does. We would. Exactly. But for now I sing with my whole heart, as much as I am able by His strength, the last verse of my favorite song

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ, I’ll stand.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Hats, Big Brown, Big Weekend

The Preakness! What an event! We just had an amazing weekend. My husband's college roommate, Billy, invited us to Baltimore for the Preakness. We arrived Friday afternoon, checked into the Renaissance and went straight to Billy's house for a get-together. Most of his family was there and they adopted us right into the mix. His house was just blocks away from the center of downtown and it was beautiful. We walked to a little neighborhood Italian restaurant for dinner and laughed and talked and ate for hours. Billy comes from a large Irish Catholic family and there are some characters! There was never a dull moment and the stories got better as the night wore on.

The next morning we dressed in our Preakness best and went to Billy's to meet everyone for breakfast. At around 10:00am a big charter bus arrived to take us to the races. I don't know what I expected but it was so much more than I could have imagined. We were in a huge tent in the infield. There were big bands playing, food and drinks galore, and big beautiful hats everywhere. There was a race about every 45 minutes so we would look over the program, discuss with everyone who they were picking for the race, choose a horse, and then place a bet. This is me placing my big bets! Nothing but a couple of bucks mind you but it was so much fun! Then we would look around and eventually wander up to the fence to watch the race. It was amazing how close we were. For the races on the turf we were literally 10 feet away from the horses as they ran by. The view of the grandstands was sight to see and nearby, ESPN was broadcasting from their tent.

The most exciting moment of the day, besides the Preakness race with Big Brown, was race 10. I had bet $5 on the number 5 horse to win. Now, there was no real method to my madness. I chose based on the names, the silks the jockeys wore, or the number. We were standing at the gate as the horses went by and sure enough, number 5, Pays To Dream, was in dead last. This is a picture of them as they went by. My horse is the one in the back of course.I just looked at Jeff and said, "Oh well, I'm not very good at this." Well, as the horses raced on, we couldn't see them because the track is huge. We tried looking at the big screens but there were enough people by then that we couldn't see what was happening. We watched for the finish as we heard people yelling, "Here they come! Here they come!" Would you believe that horse number 5 won! It was a 19-1 long shot so we won $101! Here I am with my winning ticket!
Finally, the big race was about to start. It was really a sight to see Big Brown and all the horses coming out onto the track. Big Brown ran in 3rd for most of the race and then blew everyone away at the last turn. I guess he's well on his way to being the first triple crown winner in 30 years. We met some fascinating people and felt like VIP's thanks to Billy and his generosity. It will be hard to top, that's for sure. I hope he invites us back next year!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beating the Blahs

Yesterday was one of those days you just can't explain. Everything went well. The kids were fine. Everyone is healthy. But...I was in a funk. You know what I mean? Those days when you're not in the mood for any of the things you normally love and you can't figure out what's wrong with you? I couldn't figure out what I wanted to eat for dinner because nothing sounded good. I settled down with the computer intending to write for my blog and...nothing. I got nothing. I started about four different posts and worked on each for a few minutes before thinking, "Nah, I'm just not in the mood." I'm starting a new bible study on women in the bible in a couple of weeks so I decided to pull it out. The topics are things like "wives in the Bible", "mothers in the Bible", "women leaders in the Bible"... Sounds great doesn't it? I pulled it out and was all set to read about Abigail and...nothing. Again. Where's the section on bored women in the Bible? What do they do? So, I scrolled through the movies listed on ON DEMAND and though there were some movies I'd be excited about any other night, nothing seemed to peak my interest. I finally settled on an old movie I didn't want to watch and went to sleep.

Well, despite the rain, today the funk was gone. Everything seemed good. I appreciated things I normally either take for granted or have just forgotten about for a while. So here's a short list of good stuff. Stuff that makes me smile. Stuff that makes me feel warm fuzzies. Stuff that helps beat the blahs. This list is not at all spiritual and while I know there are spiritual truths to be learned here, that's not what this is about. Forgive me for under or over spiritualizing. It's not my intent to be all correct or controversial or anything. It's just a list of the regular old good stuff of this world.

1. Jazz music. I discovered jazz in the late eighties when I took a music appreciation class in college. Granted, I was looking for the easy "A". What I discovered was something unpredictable, unique, old, new, something that felt like a gourmet meal, a cabin in the mountains, and a best friend all rolled into one. I love it still.

2. Hats. I wish hats would come back. I long for the derby days where women and men wore hats and the more gaudy, the more glorious. I'm going to the Preakness and I can't WAIT to see the hats! They can be so mysterious, so pompous, so humble, so practical. It's mysterious that I like best. Can't you just see the old days when a brim of a hat dipped down over the eye was all it took to make someone wonder?

3. Books. I love being surrounded by them. I sat in Barnes & Noble today and just enjoyed being around books. You're in the midst of greatness, mediocrity, extravagance, simplicity, fantasy, reality, truth, fiction. (This is also why I like Walmart) It's all organized so neatly yet still there is fiction where it's labeled non-fiction and non-fiction where it's labeled fiction. Each book in neat little rows but still it's a maze. More than I could ever know and some things I hope to never discover all in one room. In my dreams I have a library like the one in Beauty and the Beast. I have only ever thrown away one book because it was so poorly written. Up until last year I kept every book I ever read so I could surround myself with them in my home. We ran out of bookshelves a long time ago and still have some books in boxes that I just can't part with.

4. Romantic comedies with jazz music in the soundtrack. I have to qualify this because it's that specific. It has to have jazz or big band or swing in the soundtrack. Here are some examples:
When Harry Met Sally
Notting Hill
Bridget Jones Diary
You've Got Mail
Father of the Bride II
Sleepless in Seattle
and the way underrated French Kiss
I have to comment on French Kiss. Meg Ryan (granted, I have a lot of Meg Ryan movies listed) and Kevin Kline. There's love, there's mystery, there's betrayal, there's wine, there's cheese (lactose intolerance!) and of course, there's France. I want to jump right into these movies. Maybe it's the locations. New York City, England, France. I'll take them all thank you.

5. Drive-thrus. Okay, so all of my good stuff isn't special but as a mom of two little girls, I love drive-thrus. Banks, restaurants, dry cleaners. If they would just come up with drive-thru grocery stores I would never have to leave my car again. "Yes, I'll take a gallon of Horizons skim milk (please give me the one with the latest expiration date), some Capri Suns...any flavor, and a loaf of Arnold's Double Fiber 100% whole wheat bread...thanks!" Wouldn't that be great?

6. Pedicures. I don't think I even have to explain how a pedicure can chase away the blahs.

7. Coffee. Now, my husband HATES coffee. He thinks it tastes like hot dirt. I get why he says that but I still love it. I drink it with flavored creamer and splenda. If I cared nothing about calories I would use real sugar and I would drink a Starbucks peppermint mocha and a caramel frappacino every day. I like it hot or cold but always sweet. I love waking up in the morning just to drink it.

8. My bed. It's heavenly. We finally bought a nice mattress a little over a year ago. It has 8 inches of memory foam on the top and sides. We got our new bedroom furniture back in December. It's a queen sized black canopy bed. It has 600 thread count sheets in white, goose down pillows, and a quilt in ice blue. It's the most calming, comfortable bed I've ever had. I can't wait to get into it every night. I love my bed. I think I'll go there now. Goodnight.

WAIT! I'd really like for you to add to the list of "good stuff" that helps you beat the blahs. No Sunday School answers please.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


As Mother's Day approaches, I am reminded of the day I became a mother and a lesson I didn't learn until two and a half years later when I became a mother for the second time.

The push present. Know what I'm talking about? I didn’t know anything about them until my friend Lisa had her first baby. We went to visit her in the hospital and along with her beautiful baby boy, she showed us the gorgeous necklace and giant box of Godiva truffles her husband bought for her. When I got pregnant with our first child, I frequently reminded my husband how special and wonderful I thought this idea of a push present was. After all, I was the one who was going to have to do the really hard stuff.

I remember standing in Cracker Barrel one day waiting for our table and we were standing near some birthstone jewelry. (Cracker Barrel just has everything don't they?) My husband mentioned that our daughter’s birthstone was going to be ruby. I was surprised that he’d sought out this information and got the idea that he might be thinking about the push present. I went on and on about how much I just LOVED rubies.

I went into labor on my due date. Okay how often does that actually happen? But I did and off to the hospital we went. I had gotten Jeff a present for our special day. After all, I was convinced I was getting RUBIES. I got him a special journal and a book about writing you life story for your children. It came from red envelope and was in this beautiful red box with a cream bow neatly packed for weeks in my hospital suitcase.

I thought this was pretty special as I was the one doing the pushing. After our daughter was born, I waited until we were alone that night and gave him his gift. I was disappointed to find out that he didn’t have my gift. “ I don’t have yours,” was what he said. “I haven’t even bought anything yet,” was what he meant. I was sad, I mean, it’s not like he didn’t have nine months to prepare but I figured it could be just as special after we got home. Well, two hormone filled weeks went by and no present. Then one day as we were getting ready to leave for church, there was a ring box waiting in the carseat. Oh, this is it. Finally I get my push present. I admit, my attitude was bad but I was glad he hadn't completely forgotten. Well, without going into all the details, my husband went to Kohls (hello, don't buy jewelry at Kohls), and bought a cheap little band with microscopic ruby and diamond chips. It didn't even come in a box, he brought it home in a bag and then put it in one of his state championship ring boxes from high school, which he promptly asked to have back. Can you tell I was a little disappointed?

*I feel it's important here to speak to any man who might be reading this. If you're buying jewelry that has precious stones in must spend more than $100. If you are unsure, PLEASE ask one of her friends for their opinion. May I recommend Berry's Pawn in Madison? It's highly reputable, recommended by Dave Ramsey, and owned by Herb Berry, a wonderful Christian man.

Anyway, I dutifully wore the ring for the next two and a half years. Then our second child was born. I begged him not to buy jewelry. I asked him to just write me a love letter and for his gift, I decided to write him one too. As I began to think about what to write, I thought about the last time we'd been in that place and the little ruby ring. And then it hit me. Conviction. Brokenness. Tears. The Lord brought to mind the one piece of jewelry my husband gave me that I love the most and wear every single day. It is a Hebrew scripture necklace created by a Messianic Jew named Leehee.
My husband picked it out and gave it to me for Christmas about a year and a half after our first was born. It's the only time a gift from him has made me cry. When I read what the Hebrew verse was on the necklace, I lost it. It is
Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is more precious than rubies.
Now, I'd worn the necklace for over a year at this point and finally the irony was not lost on me. More precious than rubies. I had been anything but. I wrote the love letter of my life. I was so humbled by all this man had given me. I now wear that little ring with honor. It reminds me of the kind of wife I desire to be. The crazy part is that he already thinks that of me. I know better of course. He even quotes the next two verses whenever he tells someone about the necklace.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
Wow. And as I think of this Mother's Day, I think of the man who made me a mother. If I could be a Proverbs 31:10-12 wife, I know I could be a good mother. So I come into this day with no expectations, just a desire to serve the ones I love. To bring them good, and not harm. To give them full confidence in me. To make sure they lack nothing of value. To be more precious than rubies.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Birthday Boy

*WARNING - The following post may cause vomiting. If mushy talk and lovey-dovey stuff makes you nauseous, you may want to look away.

In honor of my husband's 37th birthday today, I thought I'd write 37 things I love about him.

1. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwich anywhere. (okay, so I didn't want to start with the most obvious stuff)

2. He can build a great fire.

3. He loves to play board games. (especially the ones he can always win)

4. He's one of the smartest people I know.

5. He is a great dad. (of course)

6. He is always diplomatic when dealing with angry people.

7. He is an incredible motivator.

8. He is a vault. (if you have a secret you just have to tell but can't let it get out, call Jeff)

9. When he laughs really hard, it sounds like he's crying.

10. He can talk his way into places normally reserved for VIP's. (this comes in really handy when you arrive at Islands of Adventure with 50 seniors the day before the park opens.)

11. He's loyal.

12. He writes the best love letters to me in our journal.

13. He's hot.

14. He's sweet to his mother.

15. He lets me sleep in on Saturday mornings.

16. He loves learning new things and is a gifted teacher.

17. He's a talented athlete and is highly competitive.

18. What you see is what you get.

19. When you need firewood in Gatlinburg, he'll go out and come back with armfuls leaving you thinking he must have ripped down trees with his bare hands.

20. He tells me all the time that I'm not staying home to make sure our house is spotless or our laundry is always folded and put away, but that I'm here to be with our daughters.

21. He likes doing lawn work.

22. Everyone in my family LOVES him. (sometimes more than me I think)

23. He has a gift for making students who normally feel left out and uncool seem cool and fun to the other kids.

24. He likes my hair no matter how I change it.

25. He likes road trips.

26. He is a leader.

27. He is the best role model for young men that I know.

28. He is strong but he knows the exact moments to be tender.

29. He is a renaissance man.

30. He always compliments my cooking even if I'm disappointed in what I've prepared.

31. He is forgiving.

32. He makes me laugh.

33. He laughs when I'm trying to be funny.

34. He laughs when our daughters are trying to be funny.

35. He'll go to the store at 10:30pm if I really want something.

36. He's not too proud to let our girls put bows in his hair, to watch Dora the Explorer, or to paint a little girls toenails.

37. He loves God and God's Word, and desires to do His will in all things.

I am so blessed to be married to this amazing man. If you know him well enough, feel free to add something you love about him in the comments. Happy Birthday Babe!