Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seeing Progress

I was not ready. I didn’t want to be let down which would result in frustration. I wanted noticeable results. But my curiosity got the best of me. green2

On Friday, I put on an outfit that I had worn last month. The pants were brown legging type of pants, knit and slightly fitted. When I put them on that morning, they were baggy. Not like falling off or anything but noticeably baggy. But I was not getting on the scales. I went on to work and decided that I would weigh soon but not yet.

At lunch I had to run pick up something at my house. I went up to use the bathroom and there it was . . . the scale . . . staring at me. Did I dare? What if it was only a few pounds. It’s been 4 weeks and if it was only a few pounds, I know I would get frustrated. But it had to be more than a few pounds, I just know it. Should I or should I not? I shall.

I stepped on it to wake it up. The digital display circled and rested at zero. I stared at it. Then I stepped forward . . . one foot . . . then the other. I looked up so as not to see the number. Then I looked down. Really??? I quickly did the math in my head. This must be a mistake. I stepped off. I stepped back on. The same number. I did the math again in my head thinking I had made an error. Nope.

I lost 17.5 pounds in 4 weeks. I have lost almost 20 pounds. I am one happy girl. One very, very happy girl.

I have been counting calories. Not really counting them exactly, more like just tracking them. I have been using The Daily Plate at which allows you to track your food online. They have an extensive database, larger than any I have seen, with grocery store food, restaurants, and just about anything you can eat. I just look up an item, click on it and it adds it. They also have an application for blackberry and iphones so I can track it during the day away from the computer. It will track exercise and activity also and add back calories burned. It’s been fairly easy to track and manage and I have only gone over my daily calories a few times.

I am really enjoying the bike riding, especially with my daughter and my friends. I can do activity or exercise all day long if there is a social or fun side to it. I don’t care for the gym or jogging or the treadmill. I used to play basketball and I was pretty good. I could run up and down the court for hours on end, never wanting to stop. But if you said I had to run laps, I hated it with a passion. When I was playing, my mind was not on the running. When I ran laps, it’s all I thought about. So I know I have to have exercise that takes my mind off what I’m doing and it has to be fun.

So the journey continues. I’m glad I peeked but I will not weigh again for at least another 4 weeks. Or until the curiosity wins again.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

She’s All That


Sometimes I forget to tell my children that I am proud of them. I tell everyone else about things they do that I am proud of but rarely do I share that with them. My dad did that too. We knew he was proud of us but it sure is nice to hear it occasionally. You know how, when you are growing up, you say “When I grow up I won’t do this to my kids”. Yeah, well sometimes you do.

I have shared with you both my children’s frustrations with their school experience. They are smart, articulate, and motivated in life but their high school experience turned them off to continuing on to college. I was really not given an option when it came to going to college and I left after two years because getting married was a whole lot more important to me than finishing college. I didn’t want to push my kids into it, I wanted it to be their decision. I wanted them to WANT to go and I encouraged them but I didn’t push. There was some interest but no real movement in that direction. So I thought.

My daughter has been out of high school for over a year. She has been working and has put off applying to college several times. A few months ago, she mentioned that she sent in her application to the local community college. Ok, cool. I waited and watched but didn’t push. About a month later she mentioned that she had sent in a check for registration. Really? With your own money? Impressive. But then it wasn’t mentioned again and deadlines were approaching. She shared with me that she had not heard anything yet. I suggested she call.

Turns out the school had both the application and the check but on separate accounts. Things were straightened out and the next thing I knew she was taking a placement test and had an appointment with an advisor. She had planned to start out with 6 hours of classes but went with 12 hours. She had not applied for financial aid so she looked into setting up a payment plan. That’s where I stopped her. I always told my kids that if they wanted to go to college, I would pay for it. I told her if she was committed to doing this, I would pay.

So on Monday, I paid my first ever college tuition payment for one of my kids. I am excited for her. She is starting a whole new chapter in her life and will be majoring in something she is really good at – Interior Design. But I am so proud of her for doing this all on her own. Making the decision, doing the legwork, being a grown up.

Yep, she’s all that.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yet Another Gadget

If you are Gadget Girl like me, there is always some fun new and interesting gadget on the market. But if you are a cautious techie like me, you don’t buy them as soon as they come out. I must be convinced that the new gadget is something I would use and use frequently. It must work well. Any new gadget goes through several incarnations before they get the kinks worked out so I never buy the first version of anything. Kindle2I must do research and read reviews. Lots of them. And when I decide I might NEED the new gadget as much as I WANT the new gadget, then I buy it.

I have been hearing about the Kindle since Amazon came out with it in late 2007. It is an electronic book reader. Basically you buy your books or newspapers and they are downloaded to the reader (which holds hundreds of books) and you can read them anywhere, anytime. It has other nifty and awesome things it does too but basically, you read books on it.

I love books and I love paper and ink. The feel of a book in your hand, turning the pages, smelling the “new book” smell, curling up in a chair on a rainy day and feeling the weight of the book on your lap – how was this giant Ipod looking gadget going to do that? But hmmmmmm, the books are really cheap, less than $10, even for new books and those on the NY Times bestseller lists. Books that I recently paid $15 - $40 for were available for $9.99. That’s a plus. But I was not convinced. So I waited.

The more I heard about the Kindle - on Oprah, on the radio, on TV - the more intriguing I found this device. I read reviews which were mixed. Still not sure it was for me, I waited some more. Then Amazon came out with a new version – The Kindle2.

All the customer reviews were excellent. Amazon had listened to the customers and fixed the problems, making the whole thing better and at a cheaper price than the original. I did more research. Based on the number of books that I buy, the cost savings on books could pay for the Kindle in a year. Not an excellent gain but at least I would be saving money and trees and it was good effort at rationalization. And the thought of not having to store all those books – less clutter in my house. And I could put it in my purse and have all my books with me at anytime – stuck in traffic, in the airport, in the doctor’s office. I am a pro at rationalization. So I gave in. I ordered one.

I got my Kindle today. It is so much like reading a book, it’s a little freaky. I quickly and easily downloaded two books, Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster and My Life In France by Julia Child. I had just finished Jen Lancaster’s book Such a Pretty Fat and it was hilarious. I couldn’t wait to get another one of her books. And I recently saw the movie Julie and Julia and had been left wanting to know so much more about Julia Child. She is NOT just the tall TV cooking lady with the funny voice I remember from childhood, she was quite a saucy broad who led such an amazing life from what I understand. I guess I will find out.

So tonight, I will fall asleep reading in bed as I always do. Except tonight, I won’t lose my place when I fall asleep and the book drops from my hand, pages fluttering as the fan blows. It will be automatically electronically bookmarked and waiting for me when I pick it up where I left off. A lot less romantic sounding but much more practical.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Project 50 . . . check. What Comes Next?

The Future

To the left is my 50th photo in my Project 50 series. Project 50 involves taking 50 photos in 50 days with a 50mm lens.

Ok, so I took longer than 50 days. I did pretty well until I went to the beach for vacation and then to California for my sister’s wedding. I ended up taking a week during the middle of the project as a break. My creativity was stretched and my photos were suffering. It’s difficult to take a photo every day and keep it remotely interesting. So I gave myself a break when needed and then got back on track so it actually took me a little more than 50 days, 87 to be exact.

So I am on to my next project, whatever that is. I haven’t found one yet so stay tuned. I love the idea of a project to keep me focused and trying new things. Even when you love something, as I do photography, you sometimes need a push to keep you moving and learning new things. In fact, when I started Project 50 it was really about learning to do new things with my lens. A 50mm lens is a fixed lens which means , among other things, it doesn’t zoom at all which would be a change for me. But the project became something else – a sort of diary of things going on in my life that day or things going on in my head. I took photos of things that were meaningful to me and shared the stories. I also took photos of mundane things that were going on that day. I took photos of the food I was eating. As I looked through the series I got a sense of me and what I was doing over the last 3 months.

So here are some of my favorites from my Project 50 series:

Pierced Navel curvy Ranier Cherries mother and childaround the bend gumballs My View Schwin-tastic

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Magic Bullet Update


It has been a little over two weeks since I began my diet. I actually hate calling it a diet because of all the baggage that comes with that word. Such a negative connotation. I have changed my eating habits and my attitude so “diet” just doesn’t seem to cover it. Ruby (see her on The Style Network) calls it her journey but, while that is pretty accurate, “journey” seems little too dramatic for me. So “diet” is the word I have right now so diet it is.

As I said in my previous post, I have to do this my way which is what I have done. There is no guilt, I make adjustments as I go, no rigid goals, just figure out what works and do that. And I haven’t weighed myself and don’t plan to any time soon. I know how much I weighed the last time I went to the doctor so on my next visit, I may or may not have them tell me what the new number is. Or I may just ask them to tell me if it’s less than last time. I really don’t want to know the number until I can really tell a difference in my clothes. I can tell a little bit now but that could be wishful thinking so I WILL NOT get on the scale. As I said, I will not get hung up on a number.

When I began the diet, I decided that I would just count calories but would try to be aware of the amount of fat, fiber, carbs, and protein I was taking in to get an idea of where I needed to adjust. I had downloaded a program called “Lose It” on my Ipod Touch so I had an easy way to track my daily intake. It is all about easy for me.

One thing I learned was that I don’t eat anywhere near enough protein. The majority of what I eat was fat and carbs so I made some adjustments, adding more protein and trying to eliminate carbs at least at dinner. Secret confessional here: I could live off of pasta, rice, bread, cheese, and potatoes . . . forever . . . happily forever. And I was raised with dinner consisting of a meat, a vegetable, and a starch. So to have a protein and a vegetable only is a big change for me. But I am doing it and it’s just fine.

I am adding activity but not consistently yet. I bought a bicycle and love it but it has been so fracking hot lately so I have only been riding a few times. In parking lots, I don’t take the closest parking space. I get out at least one day on the weekend instead of sitting in front of the TV. When I do watch TV, I get up during the commercials and do something that doesn’t involve sitting. And guess what – my house is cleaner! Bonus!

So here are 5 things I have learned so far:

1. Hungry Girl says Shiratake Noodles are a great low calorie substitute that tastes just like pasta. I think they taste just like rubber bands. Lesson: Don’t buy three packages of a recommended item before you try it. Anyone want two packs of rubber band noodles?

2. Peach Nectar cake from the Mennonites. The smell of it in your car will cause you to eat it without a fork while driving down the interstate and the calories in it will allow only veggies for dinner. Lesson: Sometimes you need a cheat day and the day the Mennonites make Peach Nectar cake should be considered. But keep the purchase to a 1/4 cake so you don’t go overboard.

3. Organic is expensive and I absolutely cannot tell the difference in the taste. Lesson: Buy fresh and local but don’t get hung up on organic. A blueberry is a blueberry is a blueberry.

4. Just about anything labeled fat free is gross. The cheese doesn’t melt, the sour cream or cream cheese tastes like Kindergarten Paste, and don’t get me started on the yogurt. Lesson: Buy the Light version and just eat less – it will fill you up.

5. Last week, while at work , I was in an office and turned around. My massive assive swiped across a desk and took out a 40 ounce soda that my daughter had just bought. Lesson: That is the LAST time that will happen.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Little White House Down The Long Gravel Road


Some of my best memories are of days I spent on my grandparent’s farm. They lived outside Hopkinsville, Kentucky in a little white house down a long gravel road. My grandfather built the house and updated it through the years but the whole house consisted of two bedrooms, a living room, a large kitchen with a small parlor, and the bathroom. It was such a contrast to the large Victorian home that my dad’s parents lived in.

My brother and I lived with my grandparents during the week while our parents were in college. And when my dad was in Vietnam, my mom, my brother, my sister and I spent weekends and most of the summer there. As we moved around the world, our vacations were spent visiting with both sets of grandparents but my favorite was when we were at my mom’s parents on the farm. There was so much freedom there. The dangers that the city held were non-existent on the farm. We could roam to our heart’s content.

And we did. We chased crickets and frogs around the pond. We climbed into the corn crib and up the ladder to the hay loft. We swung like Tarzan on vines across the large flat rocks that led down to the lake. We picked blackberries and sucked the nectar from the honeysuckle blooms. We fished and caught crawdads.

Our imaginations ran wild as we played on the tractor and explored the barns where the “old stuff” was stored, reading the yellowed books, examining old photos, playing house with the old furniture. We caught fireflies on the lawn and picked apples from the tree. We scratched the pigs backs and mooed at the cows and chased the chickens.

Early in the mornings, we would wake to the smell of my grandmother frying bacon or sausage and making biscuits and gravy and coffee. It was the best smell in the world. No matter how sleepy you were, you ignored the fact that it was still dark outside and you rose to join them at the table for a huge country breakfast. And I have been drinking coffee since I was about 3. Of course it was more milk and sugar than coffee back then but I thought I was so grown up, sitting at the table with the adults drinking coffee.

Dinner was at mid-day and was the main meal of the day. There were tons of vegetables – corn, peas, green beans, white soup beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and more coupled with a fried chicken or pork chops or roast or ham. And there was always corn bread, biscuits, and sweet tea. It was my job to put the ice in the huge glasses. My grandmother’s ice trays were metal with the dividers where you had to pull the handle to loosen the ice. My fingers always stuck to the wet, frozen metal.

We always ate too much, necessitating a nap afterwards. There was no air conditioning in their house until I was in high school so all the windows were open and there was the perfect cross-breeze blowing throughout the house and they always had a fan to help it along. As we sat in the small parlor, the rocking of the chairs, the soft breeze, the sound of the birds outside, the hum of the fan, and the full belly all worked together and it never took long before we were all sitting with our heads nodding.

In the afternoons, my grandmother would sometimes let us help shuck corn, snap beans or peel apples or peaches for cooking or drying. I remember thinking it was genius that she would put the slices on the roof to dry and then be able to save them all winter to make dumplings or pies.

There were not really any toys but I don’t remember needing any. Once my grandmother gave us several large bowls and put water in them. She added a squirt of dish soap in each bowl and handed us some old egg beaters. Once we learned how to turn the crank, we had bubbles everywhere. And it kept us busy for what seemed like hours.

My children got to experience the farm only briefly when they were young and I’m not sure how much they really remember. My grandparents sold my aunt part of the farm and she built a house down the hill from theirs. Then as they grew older and became ill, they passed the farm on to my aunt and my mom. Mom sold her half to my cousin who remodeled the little house and lives there now. The smokehouse is gone and the barn is starting to fall in. The animals have been gone for since I was in high school. We have gone back to visit a few times but it is just not the same. So now I choose to hold on to the memories in my heart rather than face the reality of the present.

I hope that one day I can provide my own grandchildren with the same kind of precious memories my grandparents gave me.