Thursday, December 11, 2008

Very Random Updates

Here we are... December 11th. How did that happen?

Well, let's see. What have we Stewart's been up to?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. We were home and invited two people over. One is a cousin - or the son of a cousin - whom I had never met. It was a joy to have him for a few days. The second was a student in the MA program at Notre Dame. Also a joy to have over. I spent the day cooking. I made low-cal versions of many dishes. We all enjoyed the meal.

That night, however, Aron threw up. It was fun. We spent the whole weekend kind of lazing about. Aron didn't really start feeling better until Sunday. By Monday I was down.

Then this past Friday Aron was sent home from school with a low-grade fever. That turned into a very high-grade fever (105) over the weekend and Eric took him to the Emergency Room.

He has recovered and has a normal temperature and is back at school. I'm hoping this will end our holiday illness.

I'm starting to think about Christmas shopping. My list is surprisingly long.

My parents and one of my brothers are coming into town next Wednesday, which conicidently happens to be my 14th anniversary.

Eric and I are spending the night at a B&B on Friday.

The following Sunday I'm cantoring at both services. Monday is Eric's birthday and also dress rehersal for the Christmas concert.

Wednesday is the Christmas concert. Thursday is Christmas. Saturday my other brother and his wife will join us for a few days.

I guess this all means I'd better clean up my house.

I've reconnected with a bunch of high-school freinds this past week, that's kind of fun.

I felt like I should post, but I'm realizing I didn't really have much to say.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

High School Memories

When I was in High School I lived overseas - England. I actually went to two different High Schools in England - moving between my Sophomore and Junior years.

In High School I was a geek. I ended up as a cheerleader, but I was still a geek. And a math & science whiz (apparently - at least that seems to be a theme from the comments written in my yearbook.)

I was kind of a fringe member of some groups. The fringe of the "in-crowd". My Freshman and Sophomore years I had a close knit group of geeky friends. But the school was tiny, so everyone knew everyone. (There were 300 students total K-12).

My Junior and Senior years were different, it was a slightly larger school (400 students 9-12). And I had groups I was a part of at different times throughout the two years.

I realized as I was reading my Senior yearbook last night (the end of everything) that I had decidedly pulled away from pretty much everyone, perhaps as a defensive measure because I knew I was leaving.

So there isn't anyone from High School that I'm still close to. I didn't have life long relationships with anyone there. So finding people now is going back, mentally at least, to life then. No one from that point in my life saw me grow up and grow out of being a geek.

Anyway, thinking on all these things combined with actual contact with some of these long lost people adds up to a very weird place mentally and emotionally.

I'm a strong, independent, business leader. I'm the mother of two kids. I'm a pretty awesome wife. I have close ties to family and a few very close friendships.

But my brain is a 16-year-old tounge-tied geeky teenager and I don't love it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Last Winter - or rather, this past Spring - our gas insert for our fire place gave up the ghost. We have not yet replaced it and I believe the cost would be around $400. It's not something I can afford at the moment.
But this weekend I believe it would serve us well. These are pictures from my drive to work this morning.
  Eric is leaving town this evening. He has his annual SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) Conference. It is held in Boston this year. It is also his annual first interview season. He has two scheduled for this weekend.
  Since he won't be around, I'm planning fun things for the kids to keep us from going stir-crazy. In preparation for Thanksgiving we have the house to clean up and food to purchase. But tomorrow I plan to take the clan sledding (assuming, of course, I can find the sleds).
  Afterward I plan to have a cup of hot cocoa - probably spiked. But the fireplace would be nice at that point, don't you think?
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Friday, October 24, 2008

October 24th

I haven't blogged in a couple weeks. I had that run of blogging almost daily and then it just died, like most things in my life.

I've picked up the pace a little bit at work. But not overwhelmingly so. I'm having trouble targeting what I should be focused on. (and subsequently am suffering guilt from not having focus).

Weight loss efforts continue to produce positive results. Last week I hit my 10% loss goal (the first goal they give you in Weight Watchers). I celebrated by eating way too much over the weekend and not planning this week's meals. Which means I fell back to old standards which tend to be high in fat and calories. They sure tasted good, though.

I'm still exhausted all the time, and I don't have a reason for it. I'm going to bed well before 10. I usually get in bed shortly after 9 with my book. I don't usually get very far in my book because I fall asleep rather quickly.

Then the following day I'm just constantly trying to stay awake.

I went to a conference on Tuesday which was mostly very interesting. One breakout session, however, was a bunch of legalize and it put me too sleep (it fell, unfortunately, right after lunch). I was looking around during the break after that session for a caffeine kick. I could have had coffee - but I really don't like coffee unless it has lots of stuff in it. And the options for said stuff were pretty non-diet friendly at this conference (no Tall Skinny Cinnamon Dulce Lattes were offered). They were serving soda and happened to have Dr. Pepper. I don't like Coke or Pepsi at all, but I've always been a Dr. Pepper fan. I can usually avoid soda because Dr. Pepper (or Pibb) is rarely an option. But there was one, I needed the caffeine and I figured, what the heck. So I had a Dr. Pepper. After 5 months of not having any soda whatsoever, it didn't taste at all like I remembered. It wasn't even very appealing. Which is good in one sense, because now I really don't feel like I'm missing something by not drinking soda.

The kids have a Halloween party at church tonight. They are dressing up in the costumes from last year (Aron is Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas and Jordan is a princess - specifically Snow White from Shrek the Third - with tearaway sleeves). The biggest difference is that this year Jordan gets to wear make-up and put some purple highlights in her hair. She is VERY excited. And why I say VERY excited, I mean she's having trouble going to sleep because she's so VERY excited.

Tomorrow is Zoo Boo at our local Zoo which will provide another opportunity to wear costumes. And of course next Friday is Halloween and Eric will take them trick-or-treating while I hand out candy.

I'm glad today is Friday. I just wish I was full of energy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Future CEO?

In my various efforts to improve myself I have started reading more. Specifically reading material that will help with my career. (Or cooking and saving money). Currently I am reading a book called The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel.

It is about the 6 transitions leaders must take moving from individual producer (worker bee) to enterprise manager (CEO). It is very enlightening. Also there are really only 4 transitions for a small company such as mine. Further - after reading the explanation of the CEO role - I'm not sure I want (or would even be good at) that job.

But it does bring to mind the question: "What the heck am I doing?" And I mean that pretty much in the literal sense. I feel I have very little direction and therefore very little motivation to DO anything. I'm trying to decide what to do about that and so far I'm coming up blank.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Heck of a Week!

Friday -

I had my weigh in and lost 1 pound. Which was surprising, as I was sure I had gained. That puts me exactly 10 pounds over my goal. I've heard the last 10 pounds are the hardest to lose.

Saturday -

I decided to do my pre-cooking for the week. I got up and was out of the door to the Farmer's Market by 8 a.m. with my list in hand and $60 cash. I found stuff there I didn't expect to (Mozzerella cheese) but later realized that it was definietly not low-fat part-skimmed or whatever. I also purchaed a head of broccoli for $2 and found heads down a couple of stalls at $1 each. But I'm learning. It's only my second time shopping there. I didn't take the kids this time, which helped me tremendously. I was done in about 40 minutes.

Then I went to ALDI to look for anything else on my list. They have milk for less than Meijer, but they only carry Whole, 2% and Skim. I usually get 1%, but I opted for Skim this time. As long as I'm not just drinking it, it's fine.

Finally I went to Meijer for everything else I couldn't find at the first two stops. I paid $46 for all three stops and bought enough to make 4 meals.

I got home at just after 10:00 a.m. and started preparing right away. Eric helped by grating the mozzerella and Jordan helped by cutting up the scallion greens I didn't need.

I got everything cooked and in the freezer by 12:30 and then we went down to the soccer field which houses not only a ton of different games but also a large playground that the kids enjoy. On this particular occasion the playground also included a small toad which they spent a good 1/2 hour following around and touching it's back (to make it jump) and then screaming with delight.

At about 2 or so we decided to head back because we wanted the kids to have a nap and they were asking for snacks that we couldn't afford. My neighbors were hosting dinner that night so I didn't have to cook anymore, which was nice. It meant that I too would be able to sneak in a nap, and maybe a shower since I'd skipped that step in the morning.

As we were driving back Jordan opened her door enough to turn the lights on inside the car. We stopped and pulled over as soon as we could so I could reach back and close the door. As I was getting ready to close the door Jordan reached out to get the door and her hand got smashed in the door. She was silent and Eric was screaming. I opened the door, she pulled her hand out and just started screaming. I looked at it and saw read and a broken nail. We decided to go immediately to the Urgent Care at our clinic.

By the time Jordan calmed down Eric was explaining to her that she'd probably have to get an X-Ray - a picture of her bones. And he asked if he could go into the picture room with her. She said "No, Mommy!" and he said, "But Mommy did it!" and she replied, "She didn't mean to!"

It took about an hour before we saw the Dr. and then she sent us down to X-Ray. When we got down there the technition asked who had done this to her and she piped up happily, "Mommy!" Aron turned to me and patted me on the chest, "It's okay, Mommy."

Sometimes my kids are sweet!

It turns out she had a teeny tiny hairline fracture on the tip of her ring finger (and a nasty blood blister on the end of her finger). The only real thing to do is tape it to the finger next to it, to make sure it doesn't get jammed and take tylenol for the pain.

So 2 hours and no nap. FUN!

The Smiths made steak and potatoes for dinner, which was wonderful.

Sunday -

On Sunday I had to sing at the 11:00 service and then a luncheon immediately following until 3. I got the kids up and took them to Sunday School at 9:45. Eric had soccer at noon and wouldn't be done until 1. So I brought a video and some toys and coloring/drawing items for the kids to keep busy until I could run them over to meet Eric at the field to watch the ND Girls play. Also I gave them some of the lasagna that was served for our luncheon - they didn't eat anything but the brownie.

When I got home I watched TV. And did laundry. When the kids got home they went down for a nap.

I made chili for dinner - it turned out pretty good I thought. And also sweet-potato fritters.

Monday -

So my reason for doing all this pre-cooking is that we had plans every night this week. Monday night it was Curriculum night at our kids' school. Fortunately Kevin (neighbor) agreed to watch all the kids and Ashley and I went to Curriculum night. Eric came for some of it too, but then he had a board meeting. Dinner turned out pretty good. I had it all done and mostly cleaned up in time to leave.

Tuesday -

Tuesday night it was Swimming Lessons (first session). Dinner turned out well and I got the kids out the door with all their swim stuff, stuff to take showers after AND pajamas to dress into when we were done. We arrived at where I THOUGHT we were suppsed to be right at 7 - class didn't start until 7:15. I had the kids changed and in and out of the shower by 7:13. THEN I find out that we are at the totally wrong pool (who knew there were two pools on campus) and that the right pool is on the completely other side of the campus. So I took my sopping wet children back in the car and went to the other end of campus and parked and shoed them across the parking long and up the stairs until I found a door that actually opened to the building.

We were about 20 minutes late for a 30 minute class. Oh well, now I know. On the plus side the kids got showers and were ready for bed when we got home.

Wednesday -

Tonight is church.

Thursday -

Swimming again, but at least I'll know where we are going.

Friday -

One of our fish died and it is in a plastic bag in my car with the receipt waiting for me to go get a new one, something I haven't had the opportunity to do with the current evening schedules. I told Aron maybe I'll pick them up from school and take them to the petstore to pick out the new fish.

BUT - I'm supposed to cook dinner for the Smith's Friday night, unless I do it Saturday. Eric is going to Indy on Saturday and invited us to go along, which would be a great outing. But I really need to clean the house and cook the meals and do the laundry and....

So I don't know. It's a crazy week, I tell ya!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Go Dodgers!

So we've been Dodger fans for ever. Eric because the Albuquerque Dukes used to be their top-rated farm team and me because my dad liked the Dodgers (he's now a Mariner's fan).

Anyway, I'm not a sports nut. I don't even really like sports. I know the Dodgers play baseball and I've been to a few games in my life. Eric loves the Dodgers and was very excited that they were in the play-offs. And he was yelling around the house on Wednesday night as they were winning. I didn't even know who they were playing. But I was happy our (but mostly his) team was winning.

I live in South Bend - we have a LOT of Cubby fans. A LOT! So when I arrive to work yesterday there are people in my office commiserating about the fact that the Cubs lost. I (seriously with no malice or ill-will) piped up "But the Dodger's won!" Mostly just excited that I knew something I could contribute to the conversation.

I got a lot of dirty looks and even some vacating of my office. It took me a while to realize that we were talking about the same game. I'm slow sometimes, but loving. (tm DJ).

In other news, my blood work came back completely normal. So there is no medical explanation for my utter and complete fatigue.

Also, I threw my back out this week - by sleeping - how the heck does that happen? It's better now.

So glad it's Friday! I'm going to attempt to pre-make some meals this weekend for the crazy week we are expecting next week. It's my attempt to not spend money (or points) on eating out. We'll see how it goes. I'm not ready to spend the entire weekend cooking for the next month's meals, but I am willing to attempt three-four recipies to get me through next week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


 This is a picture of the Koi pond at our local Zoo (the Potawatomi Zoo). It's one of Aron's favorite hang-outs and he asked me to take pictures of it.

I finally went to the Dr. yesterday about my fatigue issues. I had blood work done but I'm still awaiting the results. On the one hand it would be nice if it were mono or anemia because that at least is a REASON, even though if it's mono that's gonna suck to just stick it out.

But on the other hand, if it's nothing they can tell from blood work that indicates it's mental. Either depression or just lack of focus on my part. And I'm not sure what to do about that either.

Today, being the first day of the month and the end of the quarter, kept me pretty busy. I didn't nod off once during work and my morning flew by. It is now 3:30 and I have a few things to do, but I should be able to get out of here around 4:30 and go home an change before Church tonight.

This weekend the kids and I went to the Farmer's Market in my attempt to 1) support local businesses, 2) pay less for groceries and 3) incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diet. We bought a whole chicken, which I roasted on Sunday and then used to make Soup for Tuesday. Note: the Farmer's Market does not carry swordfish steaks.

I also went to ALDI, which I should probably have been doing all along.

I do believe I spent less overall on groceries, but I'm still way stressed about money in general.

On Sunday we went to the Zoo. We also bought more fish. Subsequently we've lost 2 and 1/2 fish (the 1/2 is one that is really looking like it's dying, but every time I go to sweep it out it flops around). Eric took out the first fish that died - one of the swordtails. He put it in a bag for me to return (14 guarantee on fish from PetSmart). On Monday I was looking everywhere for the fish and couldn't find it. That evening Thumper was running around with something in his month. Turns out that between Eric's putting the fish in the bag and the kids' bedtime, Aron decided to put the fish in his bug vacuum container and hide it in his room somewhere. Thumper (having a 1st class sniffer) found said container and chewed it to bits.

The second fish is in my car with the receipt as we speak - I may go try to replace it this evening, except that PetSmart seemed to be pretty well out of that kind of fish (Algae Eaters) when I was there Monday.

The tank is fun, and currently clear, but I can't figure out how to get the Nitrite levels down to normal.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Living with the Plan

There are consequences to every decision. Intellectually we all know that. Sometimes we forget. I know I do.

So I'm re-energized. Can't describe what happened or changed, but I'm definitely back to my "old" self.

But I'm still committed to making some serious changes in my life:

1) I'll continue to stay on the Weight Watchers plan. The consequences of this decision are some planning time that goes into every meal. I have to think about what I'm going to eat. I generally cook every night which means planning what that meal will be and making sure I have the needed ingredients for that evening.

2) I'll continue to walk every weekday morning. Today I knew Ashley wasn't going to get up to walk, having gotten home extremely late last night. I set my alarm for 5:50 with every intention of getting up and doing my Pilates video by myself. But I didn't do it. I stayed in bed until after 7. Maybe that was part of the re-energizing that happened. Getting up at 5:50 means I HAVE to go to bed by 10:30 at the latest each night. That's lights off, TV off, book down at 10:30. The consequences of this are that I cannot watch TV all night long. Everything that needs to be done in the evenings needs to be done prior to 10:30.

In addition to those things I'd already started I plan to include a few others.

1) I'm going to not watch TV on weeknights. It's too easy for me to be tempted to watch before I'm ready for bed and after I'm ready for bed it's too tempting to just watch and watch. I need to be more targeted about the television I do watch. So I've picked two shows I really enjoy each week (Heroes and House). We have DVR so I can tape them and save them for the weekend. Any other things I want to watch will have to be done on the weekends.

2) I'm signing my kids up for swim lessons. This is actually overdue as they are now 5, but I'm actually signing them up tomorrow. The class is for the next two months on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:15. The consequence of this is that I have to plan out what those Tuesday/Thursday meals will be and have them ready to eat at 6:15. I usually get home with the kids at 5:30 so that means pre-planning and possible prep work done the night before. This all goes into planning ahead.

3) I'm going to start shopping at the farmer's market on Saturday mornings. This means I need to know what ingredients for the next week I'll need prior to Saturday morning. I've generally procrastinated on meal planning until Sunday. I'll need to do it Friday night. But, since I'm not watching TV on the weeknights, this should be doable.

4) I'm going to pick back up my "habit" of reading material relevant to my field. This is something I actually enjoy doing but haven't for the past 6 months or so (more so). If I get everything done by 9:30 or so, that gives me an hour in the evening to read. Also, it means carrying my book with me so that I can read whenever I happen to have a minute to spare.

5) I'm going to learn Spanish. I've signed up for a free-trial of an online Spanish course in which they sent me 6 lessons. I did the first one and haven't done another since. I'm going to do that.

Check back with me in a month to see how well I did on these goals. It's all about the plan. Planning ahead and not procrastinating. I think I can do it. Especially if I'm energized.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Poor Health?

I'm tired all the time. I find it difficult to stay awake during the day. Granted, my work is less than stimulating. But I also find it difficult to stay awake while I drive.

The first step is probably to go to sleep earlier. I go to bed between 9:30 and 10, but I rarely fall asleep before 11:30. It is definitely a mistake to turn on the TV in my bedroom (it's probably a mistake to have a TV in my bedroom - but contrary to my situation, Eric needs it TO fall asleep).

Every weekday morning I get up when my alarm goes off at 5:50 and at 6 I meet my neighbor for a 40 minute walk around our neighborhood. When I return, I try to stretch for 15 minutes and do some situps. Often I fall back to sleep on the floor.

I've never been a real coffee drinker and I gave up soda/pop at the beginning of the summer. I do have an occasional (max 3 x week) sugar-free non-fat latte. But I've never needed caffiene as a stimulant and I don't really want to start now.

Every evening I make dinner (and clean up after, I'm proud to say). Since I've started cooking I've increased the fruits and veggies we have at dinner and gone more toward whole grains and organic foods. Generally I take left overs and a piece of fruit and/or yogurt for lunch the next day.

Since joining weight watchers both my blood pressure and cholesterol have dropped (significantly, even.) So why I am so tired?

Is it the few processed foods I'm still eating? Is it purely a lack of sleep. Is my exercise not stimulating enough to get the oxygen flowing? Or does this possibly speak to something bigger?

Whatever it is, I hope I figure it out soon and get over it. Because, frankly, falling asleep at the wheel is so not a good thing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Yummy Delicious Snack

Who knows where famous cooks get their inspiration? Who knows when the bug for creating new meals starts? This weekend, while I was trying to nap I heard some goings-on in the kitchen. Jordan came in to my room and asked me to open for her the Sugar-Free Raspberry Preserves. I asked Jordan what she was doing. "I'm making a yummy, delicious snack!" Okay.

I didn't actually watch her make this snack, but based on what I cleaned up this is what I assume is in it:

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
4 or 5 slices (what ever was left) of Deli Sliced Turkey
1/2 c. Raspberry Preserves (1/2 sugar free, 1/2 regular)
1/2 c. Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup margarine spread (divided)

Place turkey and perhaps some Raspberry Preserves on the tortilla and roll it up. Leave empty turkey package on the floor. Cut tortilla in half (with a knife that 5-year-olds should not touch). Mix together Raspberry Preserves and Parmesan Cheese in a bowl... loudly. Spread over the top of the tortilla. Put the knife back in the preserves jar and leave on counter. Crumble the banana on top of that. Leave banana peel on different counter. Add dollops of margarine. Leave margarine tub out on stove top. Serve to brother as a picnic along with yogurt drinks.

Later I asked if they ate the snack and Jordan informed me that "Aron didn't like it." I don't know if any of it was eaten.

Ah, life with 5-year-olds.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Weighing In

This has been an interesting (and kind of long) week. Here I'm weighing in on a number of topics.

The Tree - realized that I have a $1,000 deductible on my home insurance. So, yes, it's covered, but only after I fork over $1,000 first. Ugh. That's a budget buster. [Note to self: work on that emergency fund]

The Market - yep, the economy sucks.

The Kids - they had their school physicals this week and it was time for their immunizations. Oh boy howdy was that fun! In previous years I think Eric has mostly been in charge of taking the kids in to the doctor. At least that's true for check-ups. Anyway, they asked as soon as I picked them up for school if they were going to have to get shots. I honestly didn't know for sure, and I told them that. There were nervous but we talked about how, if they did need shots, they would be brave, etc.

When we got to the Doctor's office and found out that shots would indeed be part of the visit we talked a little more about being brave and that shots keep us healthy. Aron wanted Jordan to go first, Jordan wanted Aron to go first.

Aron ended up going first and Jordan told him, "Aron, you'll be fine, they just go *chick* and then it's done!" The nurse didn't want Jordan watching. Didn't want Aron watching either. So Jordan left the room for stickers and a second nurse came in to hold Aron's legs and I held Aron's hands. He really just wanted to watch, so he was pretty tense, fighting to sit up and look. But he didn't cry. He whined a little but then he got three suckers (one for each shot.)

Jordan "you'll be fine" Stewart was next up. Aron was lead out of the room for his stickers. Jordan started out brave, she sat down and asked about the shot block thing the nurse was going to put on her leg surrounding the area of the shot. But I started to push her down and hold her hands and she just lost it. Each shot was more hysterics. Afterward, though she did take her three suckers, she complained that "It hurt very bad, Mom!" and that she couldn't really walk, or at least not fast. It took a while to get back to the car.

[When the doctor asked Jordan if she would get into a car with a stranger if offered candy, my daughter laughed and said, "yes." Note to self: teach children the dangers of strangers.]

The Election - is it over yet?

The Personal Health - lost two more pounds this week, so that feels good. Also had a screening today and my cholesterol and blood pressure are down considerably since July. A whole lot. I'm assuming that's the change in diet since joining Weight Watchers?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This and That

The tree is gone. They efficiently came yesterday morning while all of us were gone and took it away. I went home at lunch to check on them and the only remains were sawdust in the yard. I'm impressed with the speed and efficiency. [They even cleaned off the dog doo from the deck!] Now we are just waiting for the insurance adjuster to make contact so they can assess the damage. It really isn't much, surprisingly. There are a couple holes in the siding. One of the gutters is kind of smashed. The fence is broken. All in all quite a bit less than it could have been (or is for those who were in the direct path of Ike.)

I steer clear of politics in this blog for a number of reasons. I will however share that this clip from SNL this weekend was humorous and enjoyable to watch. No matter your party affiliation or voting plans, this is funny.

In other news my Weight Watchers plans are going well. Last night I made fish. This is something I've steered clear of. I know fish is healthy and when my father was living near/with us he made fish regularly (at least once a week). But I'm afraid of it because it's so easy to screw up, I think.

I found this recipe in Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook for "Herb Crusted Red Snapper." When I went grocery shopping on Sunday I couldn't find Red Snapper so I opted for Orange Roughy because I know Eric likes it.

I have to say, it turned out pretty well! Orange Roughy is a very mild white fish. The Herb topping was fantastic. It is served with steamed carrots and zucchini. The thing that took the longest was chopping up the veggies. (Very thinly sliced).

Tonight I'm making another recipe from that book - Stir Fry Chicken of some sort. I'm looking forward to it. I'm finding that I really enjoy cooking. Also, a great site to follow is Hungry Girl. She does Weight Watchers, but she also tests tons of food and gives substitute recipes for high-fat favorites.

Obviously there was no point to this post.

Monday, September 15, 2008

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

Saturday morning was a rather lazy one. Jordan woke up sometime around 7 or so (as she usually does). She wanted breakfast and a program (read: Spongebob Squarepants or The Fairly OddParents). I set her up out in the living room.

Aron was sleeping in our room and Eric and I were kind of sleeping or at least still in bed.

All of the sudden we heard a mighty crash. My first gut instinct was that the fish tank had fallen over. Eric and I scrambled out of bed and Jordan was pretty upset. I asked her what happened and she said "That fell down!" "That" turned out to be a wrought iron picture that fell off the mantle. I held her and calmed her down.

Aron came out and shouted "OH... MY.... GOD!!!!!! DADDY LOOK!!!!!" and I looked and it took a second for me to register that there were tree leaves resting against my back door. And then it took another second to realize that those tree leaves were also at the windows. And it took even longer to realize that it wasn't a branch that had fallen on our house, but rather a tree... that fell against our house.

Fortunately nothing was damaged. It was monsoon weather all weekend and we had no leaks. No water coming into our house. But we most definitely had a tree up against our house.

What a weird weekend.

Laying on the roof... and across the deck... the biggest casualty was our fence. and possibly the chimney.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Woohoo - nearly 10 lbs!

Friday noon is my Weight Watcher's meeting. I weigh in about 11:45 each Friday. This week I lost 2.4 lbs, the largest loss since the first week. That puts me at a total of 9.4 lost since August 1st.

Every Thursday the neighbors and we eat dinner together, alternating houses. Last night was their turn and she cooked this awesome meat for taco salad. I ate 22 points worth of food last night alone (my daily allotment is 21). Now I had the points to use (you get 35 extra each week to use however you wish). So I didn't go over budget or anything. But I ate the majority of them last night. So I find it baffling that I lost that much weight. Not that I'm complaining.

Another thing. For dinner one night this week I made Garlic Red Potatoes. This is 8 or 9 red potatoes, 8 or 9 whole cloves of garlic and a stick of butter. Throw it all in a saucepan, cover and let cook for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom.) This is not a low-fat snack. It's 4 points per serving (3 from the butter). It's heaven. I've had it for lunch leftovers twice this week.

And then there's other dilemmas with the whole watching what I'm eating. First - I like to take leftovers for lunch because then I'm not tempted to go out and buy fast food. Also, it's good to use up leftovers and not waste food. But generally dinners are a higher point count, so lunch should probably be a lighter meal (a salad would be good).

Second - I hate leftover salad. I also don't really like making salads. I'm okay with eating them... sometimes. I'm having a hard time getting in my 5 fruits/vegetables each day. Also having a hard time getting in my 6 cups of water.

Third - Weight Watchers sells 1 point yogurt, which is great for a snack and counts for a milk product (1 of two needed each day.) All sorts of yummy flavors, too. But each little thing of yogurt produces the waste of the lid and the cup - which I've generally been throwing away, so will show up in a landfill. It'd be cheaper and less package waste to buy a big 2 lb thing of yogurt and just dish out a portion to myself each day. But then it's just plain or vanilla and also more points.

Okay, so I'm not really complaining about my diet, I'm just contemplating how I can live a little greener, save a little more money and still lose weight without wasting food.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Envision Your Life

So the first step to getting your life where you want it to be, apparently, is to imagine what that "where you want to be" looks like. For some reason I find this challenging. [I also find putting together my resume challenging, but that's a different story.]

There are a few things, however, that I can write down that I want my life to look like.

1) I want to be a healthy person who enjoys an active lifestyle. I want to feel like running around with my kids. I don't want to be in pain (mentally or physically).

2) I want my home to be a relaxing and restful retreat from life. I don't want my home to feel overwhelming or something to keep away from.

3) I want to appreciate those around me and enjoy the time I have to spend with them. I don't want to take people for granted, espcially my husband and children.

4) I want to continue to learn things. I think I really want to tackle a foreign language (probably Spanish). I want to be an example to my children of how great it is to learn new things. I don't want to become [more] narrow-minded.

5) I want to be consumer debt free. I don't want to owe anyone money except on my house.

Those are probably the top five. I think I am working on each of those things. But probably if I keep this as my "short-list" for what is important, it'll keep things focused.

I think I'm making Saturday Mornings "work mornings". The whole family will work until Lunchtime. Then we can do whatever after the kids nap. I imagine we will accomplish a lot by doing that week in and week out.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fighting the Boredom Muncies

I never thought of myself as a boredom eater. Now that I'm aware of my dietary intake, however, I have to re-assess.

So my job has gone from 160 - 0 in like 2 second flat. I know it will pick up again and I will find projects that will overwhelm me, but in the meantime I'm fighting boredom and, obviously, writing more in my blog. I'm gradually adding back things that I neglected when I was so busy. But I don't want to add them ALL back at once because I don't want to have to put things off again, (should the business return).

Anyway... my point is that I find myself thinking about munching far more than I ever did when I was busy. I know it's just because my mind is not occupied and food is an easy thing to think about. Plus I'm thinking about food more. Planning my day, planning my meals, writing down everything I eat, budgeting my points. All this is thought energy toward food. And why not benefit from the actual eating.

I'm trying to be consious of when I'm actually HUNGRY. I remember when I was younger I seriously could not put food into my mouth if I wasn't hungry. I want to be like that again.

Oh, cherries. I have cherries in my lunch - that's a good low points healthy munchie type snack!

Clean Sweep Photos

I thought some visuals of my recent "clean sweep" might be helpful.
But I realized that you are only getting the "after" shot.
Which may not be as impressive to those who haven't seen the "before".
You can take my word for it... this is better.
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Monday, September 08, 2008

It's All Too Much

So my father introduced me to this book: It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh (who does the Clean Sweep show on TLC).

He gave it too me way back in February when he moved in for the Spring. But I didn't actually finish reading it until my recent trip to Boise.

I got home from Boise renewed, re-energized and ready to tackle the STUFF in my life. The big theme is: You only have the space you have - you can only have STUFF that fits in that space.

On Thursday of that week I got a call from Aron's school telling me that Aron had thrown up and needed to be taken home. Eric was teaching and I, frankly, wasn't doing much of anything. So I picked him up (he was sleeping when I got there, but perked right up when I woke him up.) We went to the grocery store to get some Sprite for his little tummy. (He was, seriously FINE, the whole rest of the day.)

He wanted oatmeal, so I made him some and then he wanted to watch "a program" (read: SpongeBob SquarePants) and sit on the couch. While he did that I started pulling everything out of my closet.

The book warns that you should only keep clothes that make you feel good about yourself and are complimented on. (I'm paraphrasing).

My in-laws were coming into town that day, sometime in the early evening, so I had a target of when I needed to finish.

Once I got Aron to go down for a nap I really got things humming. By the time Tom and Judi showed up I had finished not only my closet but my drawers AND the cabinets in the bathroom as well. I had 4 bags to give away and 3 bags of trash. Man was it liberating.

I took it one step further. The book suggests hanging up all your clothes with the hanger backwards (so the hook faces out). And when you wear a piece of clothing, put it back right (with the hook facing in). That way, at the end of 6 months you'll have an accurate record of what you actually wore in that time frame.

Also it suggests putting like pieces/colors together so you can see what you have (I have an obscene number of off-white/cream tops - won't need any new ones of those for a while!)

Also - I'm losing weight, so I'm noticing pants are starting to feel looser.

When I did the birthday shoping trip with my mother-in-law, I actually looked for pieces that would go with what was already in my wardrobe. I didn't get anything I already had, and I only bought stuff I knew I'd wear to work.

I put all my shoes in two plastic tubs that fit under my bed (I subsequently purchased a third to store all my handbags). And I have a place in my dresser to store my work out clothes that I wear 2 or 3 times before washing.

Every morning after Eric gets up I make the bed and every evening when I get home I put my clothes away (laundry or hang up or dry-cleaning bag).

It's been 2 weeks and I've kept it up and it feels fantastic.

When the cleaning ladies come tomorrow I won't be rushing around with my room picking things up.

On Tuesday (after Labor Day) I had the day off (for my birthday) so I went through all of Aron's clothes and kept only what fit in his drawers. There is a family who recently lost their home and all their belongings in a fire. They have a 4-year-old son, so I'm taking all those clothes to them.

And Friday night at dinner Eric (very sweetly) asked what he and the kids could do over the weekend that I'd really appreciate. I thought about it and said, "Be able to park both cars in the garage."

St. Vincent DePaul's picked up a load of stuff today so I think we'll be able to park tonight!

While he worked on the garage (with intermittent help from our 5-year-olds), I tackled my second room... the Kitchen.

I started by taking everything out of the fridge (and I mean EVERYTHING). After I removed everything from a shelf, I took the shelf out and washed it.

I only put things back that weren't past the expiration date (did you know that mustard has an expiration date on it?) My fridge seriously looks empty. I found a shelf low to the bottom to hold yogurt so the kids can reach it. It seriously looks like a brand-new fridge.

I moved on to the freezer (veal does not keep for a year).

And then I moved on to the pantry (those packets of "sides" expired in 2006).

And I did the tea cabinet (I'm never going to drink all that herbal tea).

And finally the spice/backing cabinet. (Seriously, who needs 4 jars of cream of tarter?)

The trash can (which doesn't get emptied until Thursday) is completely full, but man it feels GREAT in my kitchen.

Next stop - small appliances. (how often do we actually core, peel and slice an apple?)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More fish tales

When I got out of bed this morning (really only about 20 minutes after I'd been woken by my children) there was a bit of a crisis.

The fish tank looked.... different.

The big plant thingy was gone, the alligator and the statue were moved and there was definitely less fish.

Eric was so very very very upset. He was ready to give all the fish away.

We also noticed that the scale was moved from "safe" to "caution".

So I took some water and some questions to PetSmart to find out if I could learn what needed to be done.

The gist of it was that "your tank is cycling. you need fish to cycle a tank. some fish will die."

Ultimately we are left with 3 sword tails (Eric got two females Friday to replace the one female we lost); 1 neon tetra (3 died); 4 algae eaters and 2 blood fin tetras. We are going to leave it that for a little while and see if we can keep the fish we have.

It was an interesting weekend, but I don't know yet if Aron understands how close he is to losing his fish.

Friday, September 05, 2008

WW - Why I joined

I was one of those "skinny" people. I didn't matter what I ate, I could not for the life of me gain weight. In high school and in college my mom would joke that I looked like a Dachau survivor.

I never complained about my weight. I didn't want to be one of those skinny people who complains that they are "fat" - which I knew I was not. I had a beautiful very classy size 2-4 wardrobe.

I didn't particularly exercise - I was active and occasionally started some regimen. I even joined a gym at one point. But I never had a weight goal or anything like that.

When I turned 30 or even before then, but that's when I noticed it the most, my metabolism changed. I started putting on pounds. Not a lot, mind you, but some. Each year at my check-up I'd hear "You're getting closer to that max weight for your height."

I never dieted in the past, having no need or motivation. I couldn't eat if I wasn't hungry. I often left food on my plate. It was like I just couldn't even swallow food if my stomach was remotely full. Somewhere along the line I got over that.

My father had done Adkins for quite a few years before he moved out here to South Bend. One Christmas I was reading the South Beach Diet book at my mother-in-law's house and I thought it kind of made sense. I had my dad start cooking low-carb (easy for him as an Adkins-minded person) and I even joined South Beach on line.

I don't remember keeping track of my weight, but I do know that if I did loose any weight it wasn't much and it didn't stay off long.

I jumped from a size 2-4 to a size 8-10. Granted an 8 does not look bad on me, but I certainly wasn't used to the hips I'd developed (nor the belly that was looking like I'd recently been pregnant.)

In January I was in Albuquerque and my mother-in-law and (now) sister-in-law and I went shopping and not one of us found a single thing that we liked or that fit. It was depressing.

In May my neighbor asked me if I wanted to start walking in the mornings. I said "sure!" And we started. We walk every morning for 30-40 minutes around our neighborhood. If the weather is not nice we do a Leslie Sansone video. I bought a scale.

In July my office started an initiative called "Get Fit for Life" which was sort of an awareness thing to make people think about the food they eat and the activity they do. I kept track - even did a daily dairy of my food intake a few days.

My problem was that even though I was kind of proud of myself for stepping up the activity and being mindful of food choices, I wasn't loosing any weight. Not a single pound. My scale said 159 for the LONGEST time and if it didn't say that it said something within a pound of that. I did not want to breach the 160 mark.

My mother-in-law (after our disastrous shopping trip in January) joined Weight Watchers. When I saw her in May she looked great and in July she was down-right skinny (size 4's were falling off her!)

When I got home from our Albuquerque vacation, I decided to give it a try. I found a meeting, went and joined all on the first of August.

Now, 5 weeks later I have lost 7 pounds. I realize it's not a lot - but I'm only trying to loose 20, so that's like 1/3 of the way there.

My favorite part is keeping track. I like to track things. So now I get to go online after every meal and input what I ate and find out how many points I used. Only one week (the [in]famous Petersen Reunion) did I exceed my points for the week (by a lot, and mostly due to alcohol intake). That week I only gained .2 lbs.

I like looking for recipies and trying new things (Turkey Italian Sausage is very good!) I like feeling like I've created a well-rounded meal. I like checking off the number of vegetables/fruits that I've eaten in a day (I have trouble getting to 5 everyday). I like checking off how much water I drink (I have trouble getting to 6 cups every day).

They asked us at the meeting today why we are losing weight - what reason right now makes losing weight important. In all honesty (besides the pat answers of wanting to be healthier and more energized) I want to fit in my clothes comfortably and I want to not cringe every time I see a picture of myself.

I feel I need to trim the excess in my life. Not just food. We have too much of everything. Last week I went through all my clothes and got rid of 4 bags determined to keep A) only stuff that fit in my closet and B) only stuff I really like and feel good in. I kept going to the master bath and got rid of two bags of little bottles of hand lotion and almost empty shampoo containers and make-up built up over the past 6 years. I went through my jewelry and put each necklace together with it's matching earrings. Got rid of any single earrings. Polished that which was very tarnished.

Now I can easily find something to wear in the morning but I can also find jewelry, shoes and a purse to match.

I hope that I am able to continue my trend and move to my scrap booking stuff - getting rid of everything that I'm not currently working on.

Limits and Boundaries. Limits and Boundaries. If I don't have any for myself, how on EARTH will I pass them on to my impressionable children?

Fish Tales

Wanted to share pictures of the aquarium.
Last night after I brought home the two replacement fish, we found one of our sword tail's missing.
Unlike the other two it wasn't laying on the bottom (or even floating on the top) it was just gone. Our assumption is that it jumped out and the dog's got it... cuz it is NOWHERE to be found.

I guess we'll be making another trip to the PetSmart!
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Everybody Not Got Brains!

My daughter was telling her grandmother how she got a scratch on her arm. I wasn't actually privy to the story telling but this is how Gramma Judi Relayed it to me:

Jordan: When I was 7 a shark bit me. I killed the sharks by going "HiYAA!" (which she illustrated with a karate chop).

As she's telling this story we are driving somewhere with the kids in the back seat and naturally Aron perks up at the mention on Sharks.

Aron: Who killed a shark?

Gramma Judi: 7-year-old Jordan killed the shark that bit her.

Aron: Is that real or pretend? (a common question lately)

Me: It's real in Jordan's brain.

Jordan: I not got a brain! Not everyone gots brains!


So Aron's obsession with all things aquatic has lead us to the purchase of a 28 gallon aquarium. With Grampa Tom's help we spoke with the fish guy at PetSmart who gave us a 3 day crash course in all things fish. We bought 26 gallons of distilled water so that we wouldn't have to wait through an entire nitrogen cycle before actually purchasing fish. We bought the thermometer and a little alligator that blows bubbles every second.

When we went back the second day to get the "Starter Fish" the guy gave us various options. He strongly recommended some algae eaters to help keep the tank clean. Apparently you can have 1 inch of fish for every gallon of water in the tank. But the algae eaters he showed us don't count toward the inches of fish.

Grampa Tom had convinced us we wanted to get Sword Tails because they are live bearers and are fun to watch have little babies.

The PetSmart guy told us that Blood Fin Tetras were one of the good "Starter Fish" options. So that day we took home two Blood Fin Tetras and two algae eaters. They seemed to thrive okay for the 24 hours they were in the tank.

We went back to PetSmart and picked out the Sword Tails (one male one female) and also 4 Neon Tetras and two more algae eaters.

Let me tell you the tank is beautiful. It's actually very relaxing to watch it. It's sitting right next to the television and is almost (not quite) more popular to watch.

The kids feed the fish once before school and once after school (they are supervised). Yesterday (Wednesday) Eric did the after school feeding because we have church until 9.

Last night when we got home we saw one of our little algae eaters not moving. We waited a bit and finally stuck the net into the tank. Sure enough, he was "so dead." Aron wanted to flush him, but we have a 14 day guarantee on all the fish we bought so we're trading him in. Got him in a zip loc bag, a grocery bag and holding at arms length while carrying to the car.

This morning when we woke up we found another of the little algae eaters - same spot as the first one - not moving. Yep, that one's dead too.

So sitting in my car are two little dead fish. I'm wondering if this is going to be a recurring theme.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Big Three-Five!

Monday I celebrated my 35th birthday. I have to say the best part was saying "good-bye" to my 34th year.

I know I didn't post much of anything last year and there was a reason for that. It was a craptastic year for me, personally. I felt like I never had anything worth saying, so best to keep quiet.

But surviving my bad-posture induced tailbone pain and Shingles and frequent ocular migraines, I'm ready to shed the old and bring on the new.

I've done some things to really take care of myself - I walk every weekday morning with my neighbor, Ashley. I joined Weight-Watchers to lose the 20 lbs that just crept up on me. I cleaned out my closet and my bathroom and my jewelry, only keeping that which fits in the space I have. I'm now inspired to move on to my scrapbooking stuff.

Last year was also kind of an up-in-the-air year. Eric applied for various teaching positions across the country and waiting to see, and then realizing that none panned out was kind of hard for me. We have the same situation this year (first application went out last week), but I guess I feel that because I've been through it once, it won't be so bad the second time around. Also I'm working a little each week to get the house ready for a sale, should that become necessary. So I have things I can control.

The kids are doing great. They turned 5 in July and if you haven't seen the pictures go to: and browse through the various photo albums. We decided to keep them in pre-K this year. A 4/5 class at the preschool they've attended the past 2 years. They love it there and are settling into their new classroom. The difference this year is that they are attending full-time (8-5) every day (M-F).

Eric is teaching at ND again this year. He is teaching one section of Foundations and then a 200 level course that he came up with. He's excited about that. He continues to be very involved in soccer. This is his second year as the Director of Coaching at our local club Echo. He has more staff support this year, so he hopes to be out at the field fewer nights each week.

This summer was a busy one in terms of travel. It was also full of new stuff. We had some remodeling done in our house (moving a door to a bedroom). The kids now technically each have their own rooms. But they also have 2 beds in each room and frequently sleep in what was their old room and is now Jordan's room.

We bought a new car (a Prius!) which is getting approximately 48 mpg - which with the current gas prices has been nice. We had to say goodbye to the Bravada (SUV) but it was stalling and not starting quite a bit, so we were happy to let it go.

We (with the help of my mom) repainted all the rooms upstairs except the kitchen and then had carpet installed in all three bedrooms. We had wood laminate flooring laid in the main rooms (living room, dining room, foyer).

In June my dad left after having spent the spring living with us. My mom came out for a week or so to work with ND and help paint the kids rooms, etc.

In July we went to Albuquerque for a week over the kids' birthday.

In early August the kids and I went to Washington/Oregon for my Gramma Jane's 90th birthday celebration.

In late August we all went to Boise/Adrien to celebrate my brother-in-law (Dave)'s marriage to Jamie.

Last weekend for Labor Day Eric's parents flew out and spent 5 days with us.

I think we are just the four of us for a while now. I'm out of vacation, so we won't be travelling again until next year.

Am thinking of getting the kids involved in swim lessons (should really research that!)

We hope you are all doing well and I hope to do a better job of keeping you all updated.

Love to hear from you!

Rikka (and Aron, Jordan and Eric).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

4 year olds can be very sweet. Especially when prompted by their Daddy or Grampa. On Friday my kids came to the office with flowers (pink roses) and donuhnuts and cards.

It was very sweet and they got such a kick out of it. Didn't matter that it wasn't yet Mother's Day.

Today (the actual holiday) the kids went to church with Grampa and I decided to make breakfast. On the way home from church they picked up a card, some donuhnuts and Mommy's favorite Starbucks as a suprise and a treat.

It was wonderful. I love being a mom to my two children.