Reinventing the Wheel

I have been working on a project since the middle of January called reinventing myself.  Basically I'm still the same make and model, but was in need of a tune-up, some body work, new tires, and cleaner fuel.  I decided that 3 weeks makes better habits, and there were habits I wanted to change. 
These included:
  • Wake up earlier.  I typically slept in as late as I could, which most often was 8 am, but if the kids slept later, then so would I.  I now wake up between 5:45-6 am.
  • Exercise 3-4 times per week.  I am now up to exercising about 6 days per week, just because the weather is so beautiful.
  • Keep a food diary.  I started using My Fitness Pal to track my food and exercise on daily.  I have not missed a day in the last 125 days of journaling.
  • Eat whole foods.  I want to be healthy from the inside out, so am limiting refined sugars, refined carbs, processed foods, and animal products with hormones and antibiotics in them.  I am also trying to replace fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen list with their organic counterparts.  I also said good-bye to a friend I've had since we first met at the middle school catering truck in 1983: Diet Coke. I don't know what effects 30 years of drinking Diet Coke has on a person, or if they are reversable, but I'm not looking back.
  • Lose weight.  I am committed and determined to eat in a calorie range where I continue to lose these extra pounds.
  • Buy a new wardrobe.  As clothes become too big for me, I am ditching them.  I have bought several new things each month to replace what I'm throwing away, but am going to wait to buy most of my new clothes until I am finished losing weight. 
  • Read my Bible and devotional, and help my kids start this good habit as well.  This one is a challenge for me, but the kids are doing a great job!  I am going to keep working on this.
125 days into my project, I am feeling successful!  22 pounds lost, but more importantly, consistant exercise and good eating.  Giving up sugar and processed carbs was difficult at first, but now that my tastebuds like the taste of my new food, its been a joy to eat healthily.  I don't crave carbs and sugar like I used to. 

I found a neighbor willing to go for a morning walk with me, which has been extremely motivating -  I can't lay around in bed if someone is waiting for me!  I have also signed up for 3 running races to keep me moving and training, started back with my aerobics class once per week, and took my first hot yoga class last night. 

Tweaking my calorie intake to lose weight has been a challenging experiment.  I have found that to lose weight, I have to eat at or under 1300 calories per day, (plus I can eat any calories I burn exercising).  When I go above a weekly average of 1300 net calories per day, or don't exercise, my weight loss comes to a standstill. 

Above all, I would like to make changes in my life that are sustainable.  If I can't keep doing them, what good are they?  I don't want to be another yo-yo dieter.  I want to be remodeled and remolded.


Just-In-Time Productivity

I have degrees in Business and Accounting, and love the idea of JIT productivity.  If I owned or managed a company, and had the means to produce something, it is what I would use.   The Just-in-Time inventory system focus is having “the right material, at the right time, at the right place, and in the exact amount”, without the safety net of inventory.  That way, you don't have to pay money to store something, or worry that the cost of the inventory will be more expensive than what you can currently buy it for, or worry that it will become obsolete before you use it.  This "lean" manufacturing makes good sense!

What does that have to do with anything?  Many times, I mentally chastise myself for not figuring something out way before I figure it out, or knowing something before I know it, or doing something before I finally end up doing it, etc.  Like why didn't I know that Coldplay was so good before I started liking them, why didn't I appreciate my brother more when I was in high school, why didn't I know that having an iphone would be so wonderful, or why didn't I take my daughter (and myself) to counseling 6 years ago when we first adopted her, instead of waiting until 2 1/2 years later?  Think of all those mistakes I made before having serious support and help.  I still shake my head.  This kind of stuff happens to me frequently. 

I have come to the conclusion (and peace) that God provides wisdom, and just enough of it, when we need it, and not before.  Just like He provides  just enough money to pay the bills, and just enough time to accomplish what we need to, and just enough cars, and just enough strollers, and just enough clothes, and just enough food.  He wants us to keep looking to Him for answers and wisdom and money and time.  Very similar to the manna He provided daily for the Israelites.  Very similar to "His Grace is sufficient".


Coming Clean

Many and most times in my life, I feel like there are things I need to hide about myself.  Two things that come to mind right away are my spirituality and my other uality (which should and will remain hidden).  Just like the other uality, there are some people who would feel uncomfortable with me being open about my spirituality, so that is why I am equally uncomfortable bringing it up in most circumstances.  Just like my marriage is a safe place for my other uality, my church is a safe place for my spirituality.  But this is my blog, so I can say (and post pictures) about whatever I want.  The only people that read this beside myself are leaving advertisements about their Kindle Fire.

The first thing I believe in is a Creator God.  Here's why:

He created us out of only 2 cells - I can't grasp the miracle in that, its just so amazing to me.  I can't fathom how in 7 short weeks, those 2 cells look like this.  I also love how His creation has similarities and differences across species, but preserves His ingenuity and perfectness.    The second things I believe are that, in seeing His creation, I can also see that I am nowhere near as smart,
so can deduce that I don't have what it takes to be a creator god myself.  I can also see through His work here on earth, there are more important things than having virgins and money after I die, and/or be reincarnated as an ungulate.  That, to me, leaves only the Bible and Jesus to answer my "if God, then what?" question.  I've thought about this a lot, and this is what it all comes down to for me.  Everytime I have doubts about God, and what might happen to me when I die, I go outside and study creation.  I can't deny the existence of God everytime I see a perfect flower, or a funny little frog.  Neither can I deny His goodness, or His obvious love for me, everytime I hold my happy baby or my loving husband.  Thank you God.


Sobering Up

I will admit that when I wrote this blog 4 years ago, I thought I was pretty funny and a good writer.  I don't think either anymore.  Life has a way of sobering us up at times, and it has been pretty sobering for me these last 4 years.  The difficulties were beginning when I wrote the blog before, which is why I started writing it, but I still had some of my childhood in me.  I think that is all gone now. 
This isn't a pity party - everyone has their troubles, some much greater than my own.  I am thankful for my set of challenges because they aren't what others have, because they are mine, and they are interlaced with all of my blessings too.  But I do miss laughing like I used to, with my gut, and tears running down my face.  If I could have two things back, it might be laughter and eyesight.


The Red Sox

Our family went to our first Boston Red Sox game last week.  Just being at Fenway Park for the first time was truly amazing.  It feels like you've stepped back in time 100 years, and are walking in the footsteps of generations of fans.  Its a legend that upholds its reputation. 

We were fortunate enough to be given seats directly behind homeplate, and couldn't believe how lucky we were.  I think Mike and I had more fun than the kids, since we'd grown up hearing about Fenway Park.  I've never been someone who watches baseball on TV, but I loved watching the game live.  Even  though they lost.
I invested in a Red Sox ball cap, and now consider myself a fan.  Can't wait to go back!


My Fitness Pal and Runtastic

I have a new friend.  Two actually.  We are a friend triangle - they get along great too, but they don't like each other more than they like me.  Sometimes they do talk behind my back about me, but then always tell me exactly what was said.  Sometimes they tell me things I don't like to hear, but its always the truth.  Other times, they are very encouraging. 

I first got to know My Fitness Pal a couple of years ago, but as with most new friends, we didn't really get to know each other until this last January, when we started seeing each other on a daily basis.  I told My Fitness Pal that I would like to lose 1.5 pounds each week, and she came up with a daily calorie limit just for me, based on my weight, height, and activity level.  Its a very reasonable limit of 1320 calories a day, and can be increased if I exercise.  I love that motivation!  I also found that I can go over that limit by about 100 - 200 calories if I'm feeling extra hungry, and still lose weight.  I have lost 18 pounds in 14 weeks, 9 of which I stayed in the 1500 calorie/day average range, and the other 5 weeks, exceeded that (I am doing better this week so far).  I love that I am not hungry, I don't feel deprived, and feel that this is something I can maintain long term.  There are no foods off limits, and no exercise too little.

It has only been recently that I've met our other friend, Runtastic.
She has been a great addition to the growing friendship I've formed with MFP.  As I start my walk or run, I start Runtastic on my phone, and she keeps track of my time, mileage, steps, speed, and calories burned.  When I'm done with my walk or run, she sends the info to our other friend, MFP, who then writes it in my food diary and gives me that many more calories to eat! 
MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods


Attachment Disorder and Other 4-Letter Thoughts

At our house, we deal constantly with things like providing food, transporting kids, folding laundry, washing dishes, crying, complaining, and CRAZY LYING.  I can't even think of a funny way to say how I feel about, or a "picture word" to describe CRAZY LYING that isn't vulgar or inappropriate.  It just makes me angry.  Yesterday, Dee was copying down math answers onto a sticky note from the answer book and got caught.  Even though I caught her, and confronted her, she maintained that she had done nothing wrong, and had NOT been copying answers.  In case you're wondering, this is a smiley face.  Using fractions for eyes.

She refused to back down, apologize, admit she was wrong, or any such thing.  In fact, this morning we went to counseling, and she still didn't admit to cheating or lying, even though I had proof.  That is CRAZY LYING. It is lying about something that is blatantly obvious.  This happens at our house at least once a day, and would happen more often if I asked more questions, which I don't.  Because I've learned what to expect.  CRAZY LYING is a symptom of Attachment Disorder, which is a nasty by-product of neglect, abandonment, and/or trauma.

What should I do when this happens?  From my limited research, and according to our therapist, I should not show anger, but immediately shut down the arguing back and forth, saying something like "I don't believe you" or "I know you wish that was true. Let's try telling the truth again", then have Dee run laps to release stress and adrenaline, and after that, let it go.  By CRAZY LYING, she is either wanting to push my buttons (which puts her in control), not get into trouble, or get negative attention.


The Office: More Reality Than First Expected

While watching the fourth season of The Office on my blackberry this week, I came across a connection that stopped me in my proverbial tracks. I realize that history repeats itself - blah blah blah. But this is uncanny. All the time I've been thinking The Office was a spoof on reality shows, and now it is quite clear to me. The Office is a reality show that makes fun of spoofs on reality shows.

Here is a peice of dialog from the 4th season, 1st episode, taped July 18, 2007*:

Michael Scott: Ladies and gentlemen, I have some bad news. Meredith was hit by a car. It happened this morning in the parking lot. I took her to the hospital and the doctors tried to save her.. life.. they did the best that they could.... and she is going to be OK.
Stanley: What is wrong with you? Why did you have to phrase it like that?
Oscar: So she's really going to be fine?
Michael Scott: Yes, she has a slight pelvical fracture, but people have survived far worse.
Pam: Thank God you were there.
Michael Scott: I know.
Andy Bernard: Did you see who did it?
Dwight Schrute: No need. We can just check the security tapes.
Michael Scott: Kind of good news bad news there. I was able to be on the scene so quickly because I was in the car that hit her.
Jim Halpert: Who was driving?
[Michael pauses and is speechless]
Pam: Oh Michael.
Jim Halpert: One day Michael came in complaining about a speed bump on the highway. I wonder who he ran over then?
Dwight Schrute: It's only Meredith.
Michael Scott: Yeah, it's only Meredith, thank God. But did you see the way they looked at me? Like I was a murderer or something.
Dwight Schrute: Hey... why did you do it?
Michael Scott: It was an accident.
Dwight Schrute: Was she talking back?
Michael Scott: No
Dwight Schrute: You got sick of that face? Did she owe you money? Uh-oh, is this downsizing? Did she spurn your advances?

Michael Scott: I love my employees. Even though I hit one of you with my car. For which I take full responsibility. Look I'm just trying to take everybody's mind off this unavoidable tragedy and on to more positive things. So I thought we should plant a tree.
Michael Scott: Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I don't know... I sing in the shower. Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I'll hit somebody with my car. So sue me. No, don't sue me... that's the opposite of the point I'm trying to make.

Also this week, in the face of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, I found this little piece of old news. I think when you read it, you'll see my point about The Office:

On July 18, 1969, Kopechne attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, held in honor of the Boiler Room Girls. It was the fourth such reunion of the Robert Kennedy campaign workers.[11]

Mary Jo Kopechne reportedly left the party at 11:15 p.m. with Robert's brother Ted Kennedy, after he — according to his own account — offered to drive her to catch the last ferry back to Edgartown, where she was staying.[6] She did not tell her close friends at the party that she was leaving and she left her purse and keys behind.[6]

Kennedy stated he made a wrong turn on the way and came upon a narrow, unlit bridge without guardrails. Kennedy drove the 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 off the bridge and it overturned in the water. Kennedy extricated himself from the submerged car but Kopechne died, after what Kennedy said were several diving attempts to free her.[6]

Kennedy contacted several aides that night, but failed to report the incident to the authorities until the car and Kopechne's body were discovered the next morning.[6] Kopechne's parents said that they learned of their daughter's death from Ted Kennedy himself[1] before he reported his involvement to the authorities, but that they learned Kennedy had been the driver only from wire press releases some time later.[4]

Later, it was reported that Kennedy planted a tree in Kopechne's honor.*

*I did give myself just a tiny bit of poetic license for this article, but the rest is real!


Resveratrol: Just the Beginning

I found out about a new drug last week from an advertisement in my spam folder. At first I thought it must be too good to be true - Really??! A pill that I can take to get the same antioxidant benefits as a glass of red wine!?! But sure enough, I looked it up on Wikipedia and found that the ingredients in Reservatrol are found in the skin of red grapes and are also a constituent of red wine. How lucky that I no longer have to drink red wine to get its benefits! It got me to thinking there must be similar drugs out there. I did a little research, and here's what I found:

Humulus Lupulus: One of these per day will thankfully replace that nasty beer I despise so much. This little pill is packed with all the benefits of hops and barley such as alleviating anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.

Cioccolata: Be gone from me Godiva, depart you withering Dove Candy Bar, free me from your clutches Lindt Swiss Chocolate Truffles that melt in my mouth. Now I can take 2 pills instead. This drug, developed by the same people who took away red wine, is supposed to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from clogging arteries, and reduce the risk of blood clots.

Vanus: I have a lot of hope for this little miracle. Medically touted to take the place of gossiping, it supposedly sends endorphins from nerve endings in the tongue and inner ear to the sensitive receptors in the brain. Reportedly this same research firm is getting ready to develop it's sister, Populo, which replaces reading People magazine.

Diaita: For about the same price as 4 cases of Diet Coke, you can buy one bottle of 30 tablets of Diaita. There are no reported benefits, except that you'll no longer be forced to gulp down that nasty mixture of carbonated water, carmel coloring, aspartame, and phosphoric acid. I don't know how they pack all those ingredients in a pill the size of a small beetle, but they do! As for concerns - I've googled and googled but can't find a definative answer.

Copulare: Not released yet, but the promise of this drug on the horizon is good enough for me. The drug company Funnomore, based in Colorado Springs, CO, is working 24/7 to get this out in time for Mardi Gras. One chewable tablet per day reportedly leaves one feeling relaxed, contented, and with a sense that all is right in the world.


Neighborhood Watch: Sunless Tanning

I hate to report this next neighborhood infraction, but I would be doing my immediate community a disservice if I did not.

This particular neighbor was planning to run one of her silly little races - she don't look like no runner I'VE ever seen, so I think she must either run only every 5th step, or have that hot husband of hers* drive her just short of the finish line, and she runs the remaining 100 feet. But, whatever.

As she was leaving for the race, I caught sight of her legs below her XL running shorts. She has very fair skin - but to be honest, we all do. The sun only shines on our bare legs maybe 2 months out of the year, if we're lucky. I figured she must have felt self-conscious about her legs being so white, and tried using some sunless tanning lotion. It was hideously orange, and very splotchy. I decided to ask her about it. For my blog.

Me: Lois**, what happened to your legs?

Lois: Oh, that? I read this article on the world wide web about how some people use sunless tanning cream to sculpture their legs, using lighter and darker tones to shade in their muscles so they look more defined. What do you think?

Me: Wow Lois - is that really fake tan? It looks so real! And those muscles! You may have missed one little spot there on your knee....oh, and lookie, there are a couple of places the lotion ran down the back of your leg before it dried. Other than that, I never would have guessed....

(except that you've missed huge areas on the sides and backs of your legs, and I think you shaded the wrong places, which may have actually reversed the effect you were going for. Maybe next time, you shouldn't try this at home - GO TO A PROFESSIONAL. I'm sorry Lois, but you're just weird, and I'm going to have to report you on my blog***.)

*What a HUNK!
**Not her real name
***If I don't, someone else will


Undercover: Amish

It was after dark Sabbath night when I landed on the front porch of a "distant cousin" in southern Wisconsin's Amish community. I introduced myself as Mrs. Annie Yoder, the young, childless, grieving widow of the late Joshua Yoder, from Lancaster, PA.

I was trustingly shown to a plain bedroom on the second floor. The walls were white-washed, and a beautiful double wedding ring quilt lay quaintly on the bed. The floors were bare wood, except for a small braided rug that lay nearby. I was tired from my journey, so fell quickly asleep; my last thought being "Ever hear of air-conditioning?"

4:45 am Monday morning: I was woken by an horrendous noise. I can't describe the sound, except to say that it was most unwelcome. My cousins cheerfully called up to me to "Rise and shine Sister, morning has graciously arrived!" I stumbled around for a bit looking for a light switch so I could get to the bathroom in time. There was no light switch, and no bathroom. I didn't quite make it downstairs and outside to the outhouse in as timely a manner as I would have liked.

Later, I put two and two together, and groggily told my "distant cousins"- over our dark, candle-lit breakfast - that I would be most happy to butcher a plump hen for the evening meal. "Denki" they said. "No, Den-KI", I answered, with a smile.

There was only silence when I brought the poultry in several hours later, stripped of his life, feathers, and his cocky attitude. I humbly apologized when they told me of my error, but added that it must be an easy mistake for any newcomer to make. I slept so wonderfully the next morning that the humility at having to apologize was well worth it.


Neighborhood Watch

In an ongoing effort to clean up our neighborhood, I am starting a regular post on weird things we catch the neighbors doing in hopes they will read this blog and see the error of their ways. This was inspired most recently by my discovery of some "play money" belonging to one boy who lives near us*.

You can see in this picture that he takes beer bottle caps from his irresponsible parents and pounds them with a hammer until they are flat. He then puts them in the change compartment of his wallet and pretends they are coins. He seemed very proud of the 4** coins he has collected and pounded flat so far.

If his parents are reading this, I hope I can communicate in a non-threatening manner that you're WEIRD and maybe you should think about what you are teaching your child. I know its difficult to see how your current decisions can affect your children long term, but this can't be good. Just so you and the rest of our neighbors know, we're WATCHING YOU, and are hoping to crack down on the weirdness in this neighborhood in the next few months.

*I can't say exactly how near, in order to protect his identity.
**This is an estimate. I hesitate to say exactly how many "coins" he has collected.