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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Biggest Loser: Second chances and giving up

Biggest Loser logo

I took copious notes tonight during this week's Biggest Loser. I had planned to tell you how three previous contestants returned to the ranch after being at home for several months.

I was all set to go on about how Nicole lost 87 pounds AT HOME and how that gained her a spot back on the ranch and immunity for the week. Helen has been on the ranch the whole time and has only lost 80 pounds. Tara looked scared because Nicole's massive weight loss landed her as the #2 contender in the house.

I had planned out post based on the theme of realizations:
  • Tara's realization that there are deep psychological issues that contributed to her weight gain and that she hasn't really faced those demons yet.

  • Kristin's realization that Ron is playing the game to keep Mike on the ranch and has been manipulating the votes in ways to ultimately benefit Mike.
After Ron was sent to the hospital with chest pains, I even contemplated saying something catty like, "If I thought Ron's outsides were gross, his insides are not much better" and "Dr. H said a whole bunch of stuff about Ron's health that basically boiled down to Ron is screwed."

Despite this, after all the tests and a transfusion, it was decided Ron could go back to the ranch with some meds.

Oh, I had planned to detail the whole freaking show. But that went right out the window in the elimination room.

Nicole gained FIVE pounds her first week back on the ranch. And in doing so, lost her immunity for the week. So it ended up being Nicole and Ron (who gained 3) up for elimination.

"Please let Ron be voted off," I thought out loud.

Mike voted against Nicole, duh.

Lauren voted against Nicole because she is afraid of her.

Sione. I could kiss him. He commented that everyone always voted on who needs to be at the ranch. Then he said, "If we start depending on the ranch, then what's going to happen when we go home? We are all going home." And with that, he voted for Ron.

No surprise -- Tara voted for Nicole. She is totally threatened by her. Helen voted for Ron, making the vote a 3-3 tie.

So it came down to Kristin. "So help me," I thought, "if she votes for Nicole, I am FINISHED!"

For crying stinking out loud! Kristin, have you learned NOTHING?! That's it. I am officially not rooting for Kristin any more. I think that ultimately she'll come to understand how she is screwing herself by keeping Ron around. In the meantime, Sione is my man.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just peachy

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Hey y'all! Greetings from Georgia! Actually, there are so many northern transplants here that I haven't heard anyone say "y'all," or "fixin'," or "reckon."

Despite my apprehension, the trip from southern Indiana to my brother's house in Kennesaw, Georgia was not too bad. Oh sure there was the "Mom, I have to go to the bathroom" 15 minutes after we left the gas station where everyone said they didn't have to go potty. And there was the "Are we there yet?" about 140 times. But I was pretty pleased with how everyone -- including me -- fared on the trip.

Had I known what was about to greet me when I stepped out of the car, I might have left my seat belt on, the engine running and told the kids I'd be back to pick them up on Thursday. I don't want to give you the impression that anyone was misbehaving, because they weren't.

But take five cousins ages 12 and under -- three of whom are little boys -- who haven't seen each other since Thanksgiving, stir in one 90-pound dog, and a mom who has been solo parenting for 10 hours worth of drive and you've got the makings for a lot of noise. Happy noise, to be sure, but noise definitely.

Within the first two hours of our arrival, we went to the park once, let the dog escape twice, and doled out snacks three times. No matter, my niece and nephew are adorable and have grown so much since we'd last seen them, it was all definitely good.

We were playing in the back yard and Robbie, Camryn and Jack were all climbing a tree. (If you can call 4 inches off the ground climbing.) Happy to be out of the freezing rain of Indiana and in the warmish-Georgia climate, I took off my shoes and socks. Jack, who is 3, was quick to follow suit, which I thought was cute. That's when my sister-in-law Erin came home and said "Jack! Where are your shoes and socks?!"

Oops! Guilty.

Camryn wanted to show me everything -- flips, tree climbing, her fancy purse, her Sleeping Beauty dress. I love spending time with them, especially since my kids are all beyond the cute preschooler ages. The dog is another story.

Toby is a sweet dog, but he's so BIG and so energetic. Think Marmaduke. The kids were all laying on a futon watching a movie tonight and Marma -- I mean, Toby -- sat his hind end on the futon and his front paws on the floor! The kids all hollered, my brother called Toby into the family room, tossed him a ball and the scenario played out over and over again.

Thank goodness this was after my margarita!

Then before the movie was over, Charlie wouldn't give Robbie a ball (which I had repeatedly told Charlie to put away), so Robbie slugged him. That was enough for me. I sent them both to bed. Robbie for punching, Charlie for disobeying me about the ball in the first place.

When I left the room where Robbie was (supposed to be) sleeping, I saw the light on in the room where Charlie was (supposed to be) sleeping. I opened the door to find him playing a video game. Just as I was about to read him the riot act, my brother piped up.

"I gave it to him." Guess turn about is fair play. And it's vacation, so I didn't get too upset. And I was too tired to do anything about it.

They've all had trouble settling down tonight. I hope that means they'll sleep in late. We're climbing Stone Mountain tomorrow. And word has it that crabby kids get left at the top.

180 miles down, 980 to go

We have completed the first leg of our trip. Sunday morning, the kids and I drove to my in-laws' house in southern Indiana. It's the first time we've been here since my mother-in-law moved into a nursing home in February.

The drive had me thinking that those pioneer types were pretty lucky when it came to traveling. Sure, it would take them nearly a week to make the trip it took us less than four hours to drive. But there is something appealing about throwing the kids in the back of the Conestoga. Any complaints or fussiness and the kids had to walk behind the wagon or sit up front in the rain.

The first hour of our trip consisted of "Mom, my Nintendo DS won't work," "Mom, tell Annie I want to watch Twilight on her iPod, too," "Mom, I don't like this song. Can you turn the channel?"

Thank goodness for Wal-Mart, which is one advantage we have over our ancestors. We pulled in, rented a movie from the Red Box (another slight argument over which movie we'd choose), bought a cassette adapter for the computer so the sound of Spongebob Surfer Dude -- or something like that -- could be heard over the radio, and made a quick potty break.

That seemed to quiet the troops who were content to watch Spongebob the rest of the trip, sucking down juice boxes and munching on pretzels that I'd packed.

When we arrived at my in-laws, a few things had changed. The boys ran straight up to the Family Suite -- the big room we all share when we visit -- looking for their presents. GoGo always had presents sitting on the end of the beds. Well, this is Poppo's territory now and Poppo doesn't do "glad you're here" presents. He did, however, have several bags of books and art supplies he'd cleaned out of various closets in the house and offered those to us. The boys thought those were close enough to presents and readily accepted them.

A bit later, we went to the nursing home to see my mother-in-law. She seemed very tired, but in general, good. She was sitting in a recliner, which left her wheelchair open, which invited arguments about who got to sit in it. So every five minutes, I'd interrupt the conversation and yell "Switch," so each of the three could have a turn.

After a pizza dinner that we carried in, we came home and I immediately put Robbie in the bath, then straight to bed because quite frankly he was getting on my last nerve. He's had quite a difficult week and a prescription for early bedtime seemed in order.

The other thing that has changed here is the temperature. I am in the habit of packing warm jammies when we stay with my in-laws because my mother-in-law likes to channel her inner Eskimo and keeps the house quite cold. Well, my father-in-law controls the thermostat now. And so I am sitting in my flannel jammies sweating buckets. Even my boobs are sweating, which is as disgusting as it sounds. And I can't find the thermostat to turn down the temperature.

If I were a pioneer woman, I'd be sleeping outside and would just have to throw off the covers for an instant late-March cool down. Maybe I'll go open the freezer and stick my head in it.

Tomorrow after breakfast, we're headed to my brother's house in Atlanta. My father-in-law has set his alarm for 5:30am to get up and fix pancakes -- a favorite of the kids. I've told him that my goal is to leave by 9am. But he insists we might want to leave earlier. Think he's anxious for his solitude again?!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Procrastinator icon Pictures, Images and Photos

Hi. My name is Amy. And I am a serial procrastinator.

I can't help myself. It's not that I want to procrastinate. It's just that...well, I don't know what. It's just that I can't seem to get myself moving. I get distracted by other, more interesting things, like Facebook and Food Network.

Right now, I should be packing my suitcase and packing up the car for our Spring Break trip. The kids and I are leaving in the morning for a 4-state, 1160-mile trip to visit family in southern Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Maryville, Tennessee and Dayton, Ohio. I'm already exhausted and the trip hasn't even started.

I should also be doing dishes and putting away laundry. Yet, here I am. Blogging, flipping channels, fighting sleep.

My procrastinatic (I think I just made up a new word!) tendencies are well documented. I got one of my only two detentions in high school because I slipped a fake notice into the overhead announcement lineup. The detention was worth it to hear the principal read over the loudspeaker:

"The meeting of the Procrastinators Club has been postponed."

It's still funny, all these years later.

Are you a procrastinator? Or do jump right in and get things done? If you are the latter -- what time can you be over?

Look Ma, three blogs!

I've been at this blogging thing for about eight months and I really enjoy it. Blogging gives me a chance to write in a different way than I spend my days at work writing. Even in my "darker" posts -- and I know there have been several of them lately -- I try to infuse a little humor.

One unexpected benefit of joining the blogosphere is that I have gotten to know a handful of people I probably never would have encountered in real life. Liz, Shannon, Momza and Joanie come immediately to mind.

I also never expected that blogging would net me so much free stuff. Since July, I have been given or won:
  • Tickets to 2 (soon to be 3) plays at the Indiana Repertory Theater
  • 7 packs of Peeps + 1 plush Peep (thanks Joanie!)
  • 5 Ridemakerz cars (total value $450)
  • 2 sets of magnets, six in each set (won in a blog giveaway from at Junior Mints & Reese's, which sadly, is no more)
  • 6 packs of Energizer lithium batteries
  • 1 book by Bob Harper of the Biggest Loser (won in a blog giveaway at Shrinking Sisters)
Soon after I started blogging here at the 4th Frog, I began to feel it wasn't enough. So I started a blog at work last November. I haven't mentioned it here before, but thought I would now.

All Things Aging
is about, well, duh, aging. My role is to edit and publish the blog. Entries are written by various members of the faculty and staff at the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community. Because several of them are a academic types I had to implement rules like "no footnotes in the blog." I think we offer a nice mix of aging in the news, promotion of our online graduate programs and personal experience stories. Do me a favor and check it out!

Next week, I'll be adding a third blog to my repertoire as a regular contributor to the Visit Indiana blog. I'm excited about this opportunity because I'm getting paid to do it and because I love Indiana. Sure, we don't have much in the way of beaches (though we have a few -- none connected with an ocean). But we do have plenty of affordable family fun and Hoosier hospitality to go around. I have some ideas of what I plan to cover in my Visit Indiana entries, but if you know of something terrific to do in Indiana, I'm all ears.

If (when!) you wander over to one of my other blogs, be sure to leave me a note and say hi!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Urrrrrgh!

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I wish I was one of those people who responds to stress by not eating. Unfortunately, I am exactly the opposite. There is something instantly soothing about a Hershey's with almonds, something physically therapeutic about McDonald's french fries.

Over the past two months, I had made some good strides in cleaning up my diet and detoxing my body of all the junk I'd been feeding it. I guess old habits die hard because in the last 10 days, I've been self-medicating with prescriptions written by Burger King, Wendy and the Dairy Queen.

I've even been hitting the hard stuff -- Diet Coke -- despite the fact that I've given it up for Lent (and had quit drinking it all together about a month before Ash Wednesday).

And you know what? I feel like crap.

I'm not sleeping well. The eczema on my hands has returned. For the past six hours, my stomach has been sour and I've been burping up the ghost of rotten eggs.

Guess that's what I get for a dinner of Frosted Mini Wheats with a moose tracks ice cream chaser. The only reason I don't have searing heartburn on top of it is that little miracle called Nexium. (Thank you, God, for the inventors of Nexium. Seriously.)

Ok, body, I get it. You don't like the junk I've been feeding you. I promise, tomorrow (guess that's today already) you're getting water and lots of veggies. And, truth be told, a couple of margaritas out with the girls in the evening. I'll even take you for a walk, or a spin on the Wii Fit if it's raining.

Just knock off the egg burps, please.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cat got my tongue

I am itching to write here tonight. This is at least the third time I've opened up this page and stared at it, waiting for words to come and they won't. I think I have so much to say that I can't say anything.
  • I could tell you about how Robbie was awake at 2am last night -- and stayed awake all night.
  • The fact that Charlie was able to gather enough Happy Meal toys and old CDs from our car in the drop-off line at school this morning to sell at mini-economy might make a humorous tale.
  • I thought about oohing and ahhing over Robbie's new occupational therapist and how it feels so good to talk to someone who actually "gets" kids with sensory processing disorder.
  • Our crazy, just-me-and-the-kids Spring Break itinerary will probably end up on this page, but not tonight.
I am restless and tired. Wanting to say something, but not knowing what to say, too drained to say anything. I guess I'll leave it at what my dad used to say to me every day when he dropped me off at school:

"Say a prayer for me and I'll say one for you."

That works.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The dream

psych

Life around here has been a little stressful lately. Ok -- more than a little stressful. I knew it had gotten really bad when I had THE DREAM.

I have this recurring dream that shows up whenever I feel like my life is spinning out of control. As if I don't know it in my waking hours, my sleeping psyche has to remind me of all the craziness I'm living in.

In this dream, I am back in college. It's the end of the semester and I have to take a final for a class that I haven't been to all term. So I'm running around campus, trying to cram for this impossible test. Then I realize that I've missed so many classes that the prof is going to automatically fail me, which will sink my GPA and ruin my scholarship. So I head to the registrar's office to try to convince them that I dropped the class but that someone in their office didn't process my drop request. Which of course is a total lie.

And then I wake up, usually with my heart racing and my head all sweaty.

It's really not a nice way to start the day. I'm off to bed soon again. Let's hope it's a dream-less night.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Milestones and more

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Congratulations to Kristin who tonight became the first woman to ever lose 100 pounds while staying at the Biggest Loser ranch! (The pic above is from the beginning of the season.)

Both Tara and Kristin had the chance to hit that milestone tonight. They weighed Tara first because she had won immunity in this week's challenge. She lost 3 pounds -- for a total of 99 pounds. I'm not ashamed to say I was glad. Tara kicks butt and takes names in everything that happens on the ranch. I really wanted the record to go to Kristin. And it did!

She needed to lose 3 pounds to hit the 100 pound mark. She shattered it, losing 8 pounds for a total loss to date of 105!

Single file
The other big news tonight is that the players are going stag -- the teams were dismantled and the competitors went to singles competition. They have to compete and succeed or fail all on their own.

Their first decision as individuals was to pick a trainer. The selections went as follows:

Bob
Ron
Kristin
Sione
Filipe
Aubrey

Jillian
Tara
Mike
Helen
Laura

Which basically means they are all training with the person they've been training with for the past several weeks. What a waste of 20 minutes of air time!

Challenge time
The challenge tonight was a brick challenge with immunity on the table. The players had to place bricks on other players' scales, equal to the amount of weight they'd lost on the ranch so far. Kristin called the game "Let's See How Much Everyone in the House Hates You!"

Helen and Tara were given the lion's share of the weight. Helen received 200+ pounds (215?). Tara was given 257 pounds. I felt a little bad for her. Everyone was laughing at all the pounds being given to Tara and she was clearly hurt by it.

But she has to understand that she is the strongest competitor in the house. She has said it herself, she has a target on her back. However, no matter how the producers edit the film from tonight, there is no way that I was going to believe that Tara was going to quit. She is way to competitive for that. And of course, she's not leaving. A waste of another 10 minutes of air time.

The second part of the challenge was that the players had to pull a car 1/2 mile. In addition, their cars were loaded with the extra weight they were assigned in the first part of the challenge. Sione and Mike started out fast, but they looked like they were struggling by halfway through. That's when Tara started catching up. She passed Mike. And soon was neck and neck with Sione. And she won the challenge, which meant she won immunity.

In the beginning of the season, I didn't like Tara. I thought she was arrogant. Then I got to like her because she was a hard worker and so driven. But she's back to being arrogant and I'm back to not liking her so much.

Going home
The elimination came down between Filipe and Aubrey. If I had gotten to vote, I would have sent Filipe home. But the majority of the folks did not agree with me and Aubrey was voted off.

The at-home video of Aubrey was probably the most honest I've seen. She talked about how hard it is to put herself first because she fell right back into that mommy role, doing stuff for everyone else. It was so authentic, so different from the scripted fare the Biggest Loser usually offers up, I found it pretty powerful.

Best quote of the night
Ron, about Mike's decision to train with Jillian -- "My son is 18 years old. He's an idiot. All 18-year-olds are idiots."

Creepiest commercial
Boost Mobile w/the grown man riding in the Baby Bjorn carrier. He says, among other things, "I also happen to like breast milk."

Bits & pieces

Just a few minutes before the Biggest Loser starts, but I wanted to put a few things out there.

Energizing reminder
I received the Energizer batteries in the mail today. If you want a shot at winning them, be sure to check out this post and leave me a comment about someone you know who keeps on going, and going, and going...

Tongue Thai'd
I went to lunch with some co-workers today and I had Thai food for the first time ever. It was delish! Not sure what the soup was, but it had a nice little kick without being overpowering. Then I tried the classic Pad Thai with chicken for the entree. The bean sprouts and chopped peanuts gave the perfect crunch. I washed it all down with green tea. I felt so cosmopolitan, this Midwestern girl diving into such international cuisine.

Throwing up my hands
Charlie informed me at 4:30pm that he has a social studies test tomorrow. I'm sure he knew about it before today, but did he tell me? No. Did he have it written in his assignment notebook before today? No. Did he know exactly what material the test would cover? No. So I spent quite likely not enough time drilling words and concepts like consumer, producer, raw materials and human resources into his head. I give up. This child cannot keep track of his school calendar and responsibilities to save his life. Is third grade too young for military school?

Confession
Remember all those yummy Peeps that Joanie sent to me? Remember how I shared two boxes with my kids and was saving the rest for Easter? Yeah, forget about that.

Good help is hard to find.

Tooth Fairy Pictures, Images and Photos

You would think in this kind of economy, good customer service would abound as people might go the extra mile to ensure job security. Apparently, the Tooth Fairy does not work that way.

Charlie discovered his loose tooth just yesterday morning. He worked at that stinkin' tooth all day long. I kept telling him to be patient, that it would take a few days. But he was determined and sure enough, at 5pm, he pulled the tooth out.

He was so excited.

"Yes! My first lost tooth since the first grade!" and he tore up the stairs to put the tooth under his pillow. At bedtime last night he checked under the pillow three times to make sure the tooth was still there. It was.

Yet, this morning, when he woke up the first thing he did was check for his reward. Nothing.

"The Tooth Fairy didn't come last night!"

"Is the tooth there?" I asked, secretly hoping the answer was no.

"No." Whew! Thank goodness for wiggly sleepers.

So I suggested that maybe the money had fallen behind the bed and told him we would look after breakfast. Amazingly, when we pulled out the bed, there were several coins that had fallen on the floor. (Moms can be as tricky as tooth fairies are unreliable.)

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Several years ago, the Tooth Fairy was MIA from Annie's room for days on end. She finally ponied up the change when Annie left her a letter that read (misspellings included):

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Why have you not came to my house for 3 hole days? If I were your boss, I would fire you!

Your friend,
Annie

Maybe Santa should give the Tooth Fairy a few tips on customer service.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heaven in a microwave

Boy, this was a really long weekend. Tonight after I got the kids tucked into bed and Annie's rough draft research paper typed, I was ready to relax with Desperate Housewives on the PVR and a little something sweet.

And yesterday, the mail lady delivered just the thing: a free sample of a Betty Crocker Warm Delights Mini. Heaven in a microwave in less than 3 minutes!

The Set Up

First, I poured the cake mix in the bowl and mixed in a little bit of water.

Mix

Then, I squeezed the fudge packet over the watery cake mix. I wish I had a picture of it, but I was so excited to get this puppy in the microwave, I forgot to snap a photo until it was already cooked (it only took 30 seconds!).

Cooling off

Next came the hardest part of the recipe: Waiting two minutes for it to cool. I passed the time by pouring a mug of skim milk to have with my Mini.

Milk and mini cake

Before long, my 150-calorie heaven in a microwave went from looking like this:

Cooling off

to looking like this:

All done

It was the perfect size of ooey, gooey chocolatey-ness. Not too much, not too little. I'll definitely be watching for sales on this.

How do you feed your sweet tooth?

Gullible

This morning I was taking Annie and two friends to a volleyball tournament. I don't know if it's because it was Sunday or what, but I was in the mood for some "Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!" music. So I popped in a contemporary Christian CD. Well, let me tell you, Annie was horrified.

"Mom! Please, no. Can we just turn on the radio?"

"It's Sunday," I replied. "You can't just turn off Jesus, especially on Sunday."

"Maaaahhm!" she said as she reached over and hit the power button.

Before I could turn it back or on say anything in reply, one of her friends piped up from the back.

"Yeah, Annie. I was jammin' to that song!"

See? I felt vindicated and a little bit proud that my personal testimony was considered "jammin'" to a 'tween. So I turned the CD back on and started to tell Annie that she shouldn't be embarrassed, even her friends thought my Hallelujah music was cool.

That's when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the two girls sitting in the back seat listening to their iPods.

When will I learn that by definition Moms are not cool?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I totally rock!

Painted Stone ~ Flowers Pictures, Images and Photos

So Spring has sprung and I was getting tired of seeing my little frog fellow with his stocking cap and scarf jumping all over a page of snowflakes.

Know what I did? I changed it myself! I went into the Blogger layout page and figured out how to upload my old, non-winterized, header. Then -- here's the tricky part -- I had to go into the Edit HTML tab and figure out what to remove and what to insert to get my "ordinary time" background back.

And I did it! With no help from anybody! Yep. I am geek. Hear me type!

In short, I totally rock!

This self-indulgent moment was brought to you by Geeks-in-Training. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Know someone who keeps on going?

energizer bunny Pictures, Images and Photos

You know those Energizer Bunny commercials where the little, pink, drum-beating rabbit keeps going and going and going? There are plenty of parents who have given their kiddos -- mostly seems like little boys -- the nickname Energizer Bunny.

But there are other EB types out there, too. I'm talking about the grown-ups, or even teenagers, whose daily schedules make me feel like I need a nap just reading them. And often those people pack 36 hours into every day despite challenges that would stop most of us dead in our tracks -- illness, disability, economic hardship...

There are several people I know personally who fall into that category, though I feel like I'd need to ask their permission before I share their stories here. But I will tell you about my mom who I think fits the description.

That's her on the far left:

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My mom is a nurse. She works full-time in a hospital-based doctor's office. When she's done working most nights, she heads over to my dad's custom embroidery shop (Anyone need logo wear, custom t-shirts, etc? Let me know!) to help him for several hours.

Oh, did I mention she still has one kid at home? My brother is a junior in high school. So many times, my mom finds herself sitting in the gym watching a volleyball tournament or at school supporting my brother in his efforts on student council, National Honor Society and a handful of other activities.

In her "spare" time, my mom is the "craft lady" at an annual camp for cancer survivors -- a job that takes planning and meeting throughout the year. And whoever said Sunday is a day of rest, didn't see the volunteer schedule she keeps at church.

Whew! I am tired!

The folks over at Energizer want to recognize folks like my mom. So a few years back, they created the "Keep Going" Hall of Fame. The search is on for the 2009 inductee. And you can help!

If you know someone who should be part of the "Keep Going" Hall of Fame, visit the Hall of Fame website to nominate them. This year's winner will receive $10,000 and an additional $5,000 to donate to their favorite charity!

But hurry, the deadline to submit nominations is March 31.

Want some free Energizer lithium batteries to keep your iPod, digital camera or the kids' Nintendo DS supercharged?

Leave a comment on my blog telling us about the Energizer Bunny in your life and you'll be entered to win either a pack of Energizer Ultimate Lithium or Energizer Advanced Lithium batteries. To earn an extra entry, link to this post on your own blog and leave me a comment letting me know you've done so.

I'll use the random number generator at Random.org to pick two winners on Friday, March 27.

Honestly, Officer...part 3

police

Honestly, Officer seems to be a recurring theme around here...and here...and now here:

Last night around 9:40pm, I got a call from Mike, who was on his way to work.

"I ran out of gas," he said. "Can you come get me?"

A little irritated to have to leave the comfort of the couch, I slid my feet into some slippers, told Annie where I was headed and drove the 10 minutes to where Mike was stranded.

I picked him up and dropped him at work and made plans to put gas in the car in the morning after his shift was over so he could drive it home then.

Half an hour later, I was back on the couch, snuggled under some blankets, remote in hand to watch Grey's Anatomy. The phone rang and it was a friend from church. So I paused Grey's to talk to my friend.

During our conversation, call waiting chimed in. "Private Caller" read the caller ID (I love caller ID!). I don't mind if people I know call me at 10:30pm, but if you're not willing to make yourself known, I'm not going to answer. So I wrapped up the call with my friend and returned to Grey's Anatomy.

About 10 minutes later, I started getting a nagging feeling that I should check the voicemail. After dismissing the feeling a few times, I picked up the phone and punched in the access numbers to retrieve my messages.

First, of course, I had to wade through a dozen previously left, but never listened to messages. I finally got to the message from "unknown caller."

"Hello, this is the Deputy Foster from the Sheriff's Department..."

Boy, did that get me to sit up in a hurry.

"I'm calling to inquire as to why your car is parked on the shoulder of the road on 111th Street. Please return the call at..."

Hmmm? Is it illegal to leave a car parked on the side of the road? I don't know, but when a sheriff says to call back, I'm gonna call back. So I called the number the deputy had left and reached the dispatch operator. While she put me on hold to find out who had called me, I saw headlights pull into my driveway.

Yep. It was the deputy.

I met him at the door, the dispatch operator still on hold in my left ear.

The deputy was nice as could be, and probably just slightly too old to date Annie. He asked if I was Amy M...and wanted to know if I knew my car was sitting unattended on 111th Street.

I explained that yes, I did know. That my husband ran out of gas on the way to work, that I couldn't do anything about it right now because I had three sleeping children in the house, and that we would pick it up in the morning if that was ok.

The deputy said that was fine. They just were concerned because it was a nice car (obviously the fact that it was pitch black out hid the scrapes and dings on the outside and the crumbs and leftover juice boxes on the inside) and there was a half-eaten baloney sandwich left on the front seat. He and his partner wanted to be certain there was no foul play.

No. No foul play. But there will probably be a foul smell when we get back to the car to remove the baloney sandwich..

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Madness

Today's topic, Class, is madness. Not as in mental instability, but as in the state of being mad -- ANGER. Though, I suppose it's true that anger can lead to mental instability. I could have called this post "Anger," but the term "Madness" seemed more enticing.

Anger is so consuming. It needles its way into my thoughts when I should be thinking of something else. It raises my blood pressure and makes me wish I hadn't forgotten to take my medicine today. It squinches up my mouth into a sour pucker. It makes me tired.

Anger is physical. It is tightness in the chest and clenched fists and feeling the need to hit or kick or tear something.

Anger is sometimes quick and then over. Someone cutting me off in traffic. A parent from the opposing soccer team saying something not very sportsmanlike. And sometimes anger is lingering, layered on over time, fusing itself into my very existence.

Anger is manipulative. It gets my heart into a shouting match with my head. My heart says "let it go, forgive." My head says "you deserve to be angry; you deserve to make that other person pay for what they did."

Anger is in some ways protective. It constructs a solid wall around the heart, saying "no one can hurt you if they can't get in." Except what anger doesn't tell you is that by not letting people in, the heart withers.

And so there is a choice. Rise above the hurt and forgive. Or give in to the anger, enjoy the temporary satisfaction it brings, and add another brick to the wall.

Sometimes I hate choosing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An open letter to kindergarten teachers

Dear Kindergarten Teachers everywhere:

Thank you for being brave enough to take small masses of humanity out of the comfort of the school setting and into public spaces where they can wiggle and learn and grow, all under the guise of a "study trip."

Thank you for patiently reminding your charges more than once that the Legos must go back in the bin before they can line up to leave for the study trip.

Thank you for not losing your cool when wee ones lose theirs because they are not the leader of the line getting ready to leave for the study trip.

Thank you for remaining calm when some of those children find an old, drippy Go-gurt wrapper in the car and fling old, drippy Go-gurt throughout the inside of the car.

Thank you for knowing when to ignore and when to respond to the tearful cries of kindergarteners who a.) didn't win the relay race, b.) didn't get the chair they wanted and c.) forgot their sack lunch.

For what you do everyday for our kids -- for my kid -- THANK YOU!

Sincerely,
A Grateful Kindergarten Mom

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Biggest Loser made me feel...

Biggest Loser logo

Tonight watching the Biggest Loser, I felt:

SHOCKED... to see those first weigh in clips vs. what the contestants look like now. I barely recognized Tara's "before" picture.

BAD...for Mike's brother Max who had to feel huge next to his brother and his dad.

SURPRISED... at the at-home 1/2 marathon challenge.

AGHAST...at the 1/2 marathon $10,000 prize.

PROUD...that everyone (except Ron who should have been sent home weeks ago) finished the 1/2 marathon.

PAIN...at watching Sione laying on the ground with his leg cramping up.

ANNOYED...at Helen. She is really getting on my last nerve. She's just so arrogant. Though, she did look a little sheepish when she had to admit that she ate a cookie to penalize Tara, which handed the $10,000 to Sione. And she needs a haircut.

CONFUSED...to see Filipe and Sione still working out with Bob. Who gets to make the rules here?

HOPEFUL...at weigh-in time that maybe the blue team could pull it off tonight.

STUNNED...that Tara only lost 2 pounds this week. I think she waterloaded last week, so I'm expecting a huge loss from her this week.

UNSYMPATHETIC...to hear the blue team belly aching because they haven't won a challenge or weigh in. If they would have ditched Ron and kept Dane and Mandi, they might be singing a different tune.

EMBARRASSED...when Ron lost 10 pounds after I mouthed off about what a dead weight he is. Excuse me while I remove my foot from my mouth. I still think he's sneaky and manipulative.

UPSET...when, holy tub of cookie dough, Batman -- Kristin gained 1 pound!

IMPRESSED...when Cathy was willing to fall on the sword to save Kristin and Aubrey. Hmmm...who is that the opposite of? Hmmm...wasn't it Helen who threw her own daughter under the bus?

STARTLED...that Kristin, Ron and Aubrey all voted for Cathy.

HAPPY...for Cathy when they showed her weight loss at home. She looked great and got her other daughters involved in exercise and healthy eating.

GUILTY...for eating Golden Oreos and a Dairy Queen Mint Dilly Bar while watching tonight's show.

The new green...

My sister Shelley sent me this in an e-mail today. The subject was "The New Green."

Guess to my 4-year-old niece Kate, PINK is the new green! This is how Kate chose to dress this morning, St. Patrick be darned.

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She's a rebellious little leprechaun, isn't she?!

Go Green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I don't remember St. Patrick's Day being a big deal when I was growing up, but to my kids it's the next best thing to the 4th of July. So, being the indulgent mother that I am, as they were donning the green this morning, I was in the kitchen making this:

Green cakes

which made Robbie go like this:

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Too bad the kids have school today because around here it's perfect weather for the St. Patrick's Day parade. I think after school we might hit the one McDonald's in the whole city that has Shamrock Shakes. To find these minty treats in your area, check out ShamrockShake.com.

Thought I'd share a little Irish humor with you this morning...

Q: What's Irish & stays out all night?
A: Patty O'Furniture

Q: How do you know an Irishman is having a good time?
A: He's Dublin over with laughter.

Q: How did the Irish jig get started?
A: Too much to drink and not enough bathrooms.

May the luck of the Irish be with ya! How do you plan to celebrate today?

Winner, er....LOSER!

Workout Frog
Last week was the last weigh-in for the 4th Frog Biggest Loser Contest. And we have a LOSER -- make that a winner!

Congratulations -- and the prize package of BL socks and the new BL 80s workout CD -- go to Cheryl, aka Ruby's Mom. In the course of the 7 weeks of our contest, Cheryl lost 7 pounds (3.78% of her total body weight).

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Upon hearing that she won the 4th Frog Biggest Loser Contest, Cheryl said, "Wow, I'm surprised I won! I was so disappointed I haven't lost more. I haven't been able to exercise as much as I would have liked to because of having an infant to take care of."

To which I say, slow and steady wins the race, my friend. At that rate, a person could lose 52 pounds in one year. I wouldn't turn that down!

Cheryl also said "I have enjoyed reading your blog and will continue to follow it. I love your sense of humor!" Not only is she our Biggest Loser, she is obviously a smart woman!

So we can all learn from those smarts, I asked Cheryl a few questions about her efforts;

1. What did you change about your eating and/or lifestyle in the past 2 months?
I stopped drinking milk, tea and sodas. I have tried to cut out all sugary treats. I started eating lean meats and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I eat large salad's made with romaine lettuce, tomato and some type of fresh beans.


2. What is your favorite "good for you" treat?
I love peach yogurt.

3. Do you have a favorite exercise? If so, what is it?
I bought a yoga ball to do physical therapy with my baby and found that I like to use it for myself. There are a lot of exercises for the yoga ball. I also like "Walk Away the Pounds" by Leslie Sansone and Yourself Fitness for the X-BOX.

4. What motivates you when it comes to weight loss?
Pictures of myself before I got pregnant with my baby, Ruby. I had worked very hard to lose 30 lbs and I look at those pictures and I know I can do it again.

5. If you were on the Biggest Loser, which trainer would you want to work out with and why?
I would pick Jillian. I like the way she yells and pushes the contestants to work to their fullest.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Resurfacing...

Sorry for the silence. I was at a retreat all weekend and I'm too wiped out to post much tonight. Stay tuned this week for:
  • The winner of the 4th Frog Biggest Loser Contest
  • Biggest Loser episode wrap-up
  • Blog awards
  • Who knows what else?!
Hope your weekend was fabulous. Spring weather is returning here. Woohoo!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's all about the spin

As someone who makes a living by communicating, I know that choice of words can either be the kiss of death or the Midas touch.

When my kids ask what's for dinner and I say "leftovers," I get responses that range from:

Yuck! I didn't like it the first time! to Can I just have cereal for dinner?

But tonight, when I opened the refrigerator and saw one piece of lasagna, four hot dogs and one philly cheese sub, I had an aha! moment.

I fired up the toaster oven to heat up the sub, which was big enough to serve two people. Then I microwaved the lasagna, two of the hot dogs, and a package of steam-in-the-bag veggies. I fixed five different plates, each with an entree and veggie, and set them in the middle of the table.

"Dinner!" I called.

"What is it?" they asked.

Get ready for the spin...here it comes...

"It's Pick a Plate night!"

And do you know there were absolutely no complaints, no suggestions for an alternate menu, nothing but the wonderful sound of happy little eaters (almost) cleaning their plates!

Advantage, (Spin) Doctor Mom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Biggest Loser: The Fill-in-the-Blank Edition

Biggest Loser logo

Confession: I slept through the first 90 minutes of the Biggest Loser tonight. And it didn't tape (I think Charlie had a hand in that).

So, welcome to my Biggest Loser: Fill-in-the-Blank Edition. AKA -- please, someone, tell me what happened!

The continuation of last week's show got off to a 1.) _____________ start when Mike lost 2. __________ pounds -- enough to keep everyone on the ranch for another week.

The first challenge of the night was 3.)_____________________. The
4.) ______________ team won. Their prize was 5. __________________.

At some point, the black team won 24 hours of luxury by 6.)_____________________.

Sione crossed the color line and returned to Bob's side of the gym for the last chance workout because 7.)___________________ [Did Filippe too? 8.)_____________ ]

And the players were squared off against one another for this week's weigh in. Tara sat out of the pairings because 9.)________________________.

Thanks for your help. I can take it from here!

The other pairings were:

Mike vs. Cathy. Winner = Mike (black)
Laura vs. Aubrey = Aubrey (blue)
Filippe vs. Kristin = Kristen (blue)
Helen vs. Ron = Helen (black)
Sione vs. Mandi= Sione -- with Mandi gaining 2 pounds, handing the win over to the black team.

Which means that someone on the blue team would be sent home tonight. Each blue team member gets a vote, as does Laura (black team) who has an extra vote left over from last week.

Besides Mandi's gain, there were two surprises at the weigh in tonight -- Tara lost 0 and Laura gained 1 (ok, so that's not much of a surprise). I have to wonder if Tara, knowing that she wasn't weighing against someone, didn't waterload to save a big loss for next week?

Amazingly Kristin said that Mandi needs to go home because she, Cathy and Ron are going to stick together. Is she nuts?! If she is really tired of the blue team losing she needs to get rid of Ron. The man is dead weight -- pun intended.

Mandi and Aubrey talk with Laura about voting for Cathy, forcing the vote to a tie and leaving the fate to the black team. The black team agreed to vote off Aubrey who said that she would rather go home than have her sister sent home.

Hello?! Why is nobody saying Ron? It's like he's got some Obi Wan Kenobi mind control powers. Instead of "these are not the droids you are looking for," he's sending vibes that say "I am not the one you want to vote off."

I guess there is the possibility that keeping Ron around is part of Cathy and Kristin's strategy, figuring that as long as he's around, they're not the weakest link on their team.

Mandi sacrificed herself by voting for Ron so that Aubrey could stay on the ranch. Wow! Finally, a strong woman emerges from that blubbering mess we've seen for weeks on end. And she looks great at home! She's lost 84 pounds and looks really happy for the first time all season.

Not as easy as it looks

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Tonight's another Biggest Loser night. It's the continuation of last week where we find out if nobody is going home or if two people are leaving the ranch.

One of my favorite parts of any Biggest Loser episode is where they show the ousted player and how great they look now. Generally, people kicked off the ranch go on to lose lots of weight at home as well.

This is where "reality" and "TV" part. It's not that easy losing tons of weight at home. Yes, it can be done. Yes, it's about making the right -- and sometimes tough -- choices. Yes, it's about calories in vs. calories out. And yes...it can be HARD!

We're in our final week of the 4th Frog's Biggest Loser contest. We started with 14 people. We're finishing with five. Sometimes life gets in the way. You know, vacations, work stress, urgent cravings, Girl Scout cookie season...

There have been no amazing losses, but it's been good to be accountable to someone. Our combined total of weight loss so far probably equals about what one player could lose on the Biggest Loser in one week. But the way I figure it, the only way to really lose this fun challenge would be to not try at all.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Please leave a message. Beeeeep.

phOne Pictures, Images and Photos

If you want to get a hold of me or Mike, the best way is via e-mail. The second best way is cell phone. The least preferred way is our home phone.

When someone calls our home phone, if they are lucky we'll answer it. Sometimes we don't answer it because we're busy. Sometimes we don't answer it because we see who it is on caller ID and we just don't want to talk to that person -- usually it's someone wanting money. A lot of times we don't answer it because we can't actually find the phone.

Consequently, we get a lot of voicemail messages. But we don't always check the voicemail on our home phone. Kind of out of site, out of mind.

That's all gonna change now because Mike just showed me that I can actually check my home voicemail online! What will they link of next?

I just log into Bright House, which delivers our phone, cable and internet services. From there I can click "My Voicemails." Each call is listed separately so I can see who called. I can click the sound file to listen to the message and delete them once I am finished. How cool is that?!

So if you call my house and we don't answer -- I'm sure we just can't find the phone. Of course I'd answer if I knew it was you. Anyway, feel free to leave a message. I'll listen to it the next time I'm online.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don't eat that!

I sat down earlier today to make out the menu for the week. Happily, I could plan dinners for the next six nights using what food was already in my freezer and pantry.

Sunday: Chicken salad on biscuits and orange slices
Monday: Oven fried drumsticks and sweet potatoes
Tuesday: Grilled cheese and french fries
Wednesday: Lasagna and asparagus
Thursday: Baked potato with broccoli and cheese
Friday: Fish Fry Night!
Saturday: Leftovers

I realized, though, that we were a little short on fruit and things for lunch boxes and after school snacks. So after I dropped Annie and her friends off at volleyball practice, I popped into the grocery store to pick up a few items: apples, bananas, carrots, yogurt, popcorn and milk.

Now that should be the end of the story. Actually, if that were all, then this would be a story so ordinary that I wouldn't even tell it. But in this house, that's not quite all.

If I came home and put the fruit in the bowl on the counter, the yogurt and milk in the fridge and the popcorn in the pantry, it would be gone. In probably 36 hours. If I buy it, they will eat it.

So, I put 3 bananas and 4 apples in the bowl. I hid the other 5 bananas in the pantry behind the flour and sugar canisters.

Three of the yogurts found their way into the kitchen fridge, with the rest of them and the remainder of the apples in the refrigerator in the garage, hidden behind the bottles of water. One gallon of milk went to the inside fridge, one to the outside.

While I had the refrigerator open, I got out a Sharpie and marked "Do not eat" on the package of cheese I'm planning to use for Tuesday night's dinner. Finally, I put the two boxes of microwave popcorn on the top shelf of the pantry -- visible, but out of reach.

By the end of the night -- two hours later -- the yogurts in the fridge were gone, as was one banana and two apples. Tomorrow after school, I'll set out a few more pieces of fruit and pop one bag of popcorn.

I know it seems very controlling. And I guess that's what I'm trying to do. Control how fast my family goes through the groceries because if I don't, I'll be back at the store tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

What am I going to do when they're teenagers? I think I might need to invest in a walk-in safe.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Six degrees of separation

6 degrees

It's 2:30am and I can't sleep, thanks in large part to a nearly 3 hour nap I took when I laid down with Robbie at bedtime. I've hit all my usual internet haunts. I've watched Ace of Cakes and The Office on DVR and am now half-way through American Idol. And I'm still awake.

So I decided to play my own game of "Six Degrees of Separation." I randomly clicked on one of my followers: Jennifer and followed her profile to her blog Savings Chatter. That's the 1st degree.

2nd degree: One of Jennifer's followers, again selected at random, whose name is also Jennifer. Her blog Rundpinne "showcases my exploits in knitting and life in general."

3rd degree: From Rundpinne, I ended up on Crazy Book Slut (sorry for the language, that's really what it's called) written by Tena.

4th degree: Tena didn't have any followers displayed, so I picked a blog off her blog roll and found my way to The Chic Geek.

5th degree: For this one, I thought it was time for a male blogger, so I clicked on one of The Chic Geek's guy followers. It turned out to be Tranquility Jones' site Montana-tude. Hmmm...maybe Tranquility is what I need for that restlessness I described earlier?

Last stop, 6th degree: Appropriately the last site is The Surly Writer written by Michelle Hickman of Pennsylvania.

Well, that was fun. Check out these sites, maybe you'll find a new fave to add to your list (as long as it doesn't replace the 4th Frog!). Or try the 6 Degrees game on your blog.

Now I am starting to get tired. Finally. Just in time to squeeze in 3 hours of sleep!

Restless

That's me. I'm restless right now. Not just RIGHT now, but in my life in general. I feel like I can't get settled or grounded. That's not a bad thing -- it's not like I'm wishing for someone else's life, more like I'm looking to shake up my own a bit.

After I dropped Annie off at volleyball tonight, I drove around for about 30 minutes looking at houses for sale. Now, we have a perfectly nice house. Probably very nice. But we've been here almost 11 years and I'm getting the 11-year itch.

Oh sure, if we were actually to move, I'd be here complaining about having to pack up more than a decade's worth of stuff, wringing my hands about when someone is going to buy our house. But I don't think about that when I'm scanning the 4-bedroom with basement options on the local real estate site.

When I'm not thinking about buying a new house, I consider selling my car and getting a new one. Not NEW new, but new to me. Smaller, cheaper. Just something to get me to and from work.

You know I must be a little off when I say that I've even begun reading with some measure of seriousness the "Dog needs a good home" e-mails that get sent around work. To quote what my mother will say when she reads that, "I need a dog like I need a hole in the head."

The good news -- for Mike, anyway -- is that my restlessness is limited to houses, cars and pets. Not husbands. Not yet.

Maybe this is a midlife crisis. Maybe its cabin fever -- the effect of taking two warm weather vacations then having to come back to more winter. (I know, boohoo for me!) Maybe it's some deep psychological phenomenon.

Whatever it is, I think I'll buy a new pair of shoes tomorrow and see if that's enough shaking up to snap me out of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What do you want to be when you grow up?

shad waits for a game Pictures, Images and Photos

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I never considered being a teacher or a nurse or anything else. Well, except a nun. Now, stop laughing those of you who know me. I really did think about being a nun. Why I didn't is a story for another day.

Anyway, I followed the path that I knew I wanted. And it's been a good choice for me. Being a writer allowed me to freelance for almost 10 years while staying home with my babies. It's given me an outlet for creativity. And it's come in handy for online Scrabble.

But I do think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. Oh, I'll continue being a writer for a while, probably forever in some capacity. However, I'm so much more aware of the possibilities now -- 20 years after I started college.

Some days I think I'd like to be a nurse when I grow up. Or a hospital chaplain (probably leftover from my nun wannabe days). I might like to try my hand at art. I think I'd make a great personal shopper. Or I might just be a lady who lunches. That'd be okay too.

Because I plan to take advantage of the free college tuition for my kids that my current job provides, I don't intend to make any career change anytime soon. But it is fun to think about.

How about you? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Wordless Wednesday: My Three Monkeys

It's been a while since I've done a Wordless Wednesday post. This one is from our trip to Sanibel last month. I love it!

Monkey kids

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here.

Ahead of my time

Yesterday the kids were just about dressed for school when I remembered that it was "Teamwork Tuesday" and they could wear the bright yellow "teamwork" t-shirts instead of their uniform shirts.

I quickly gathered up the three t-shirts and the kids changed shirts before the carpool arrived. I was pretty proud of myself for remembering (and actually having the shirts clean). Usually, I'm the mom who forgets things like Teamwork Tuesday and "please send in more Kleenex." Yep, since I've started working more hours, I'm one of "those" moms.

But not yesterday. Yesterday, I was ON it and quite pleased with myself for being so. That is until I got home from work to face this:

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Apparently Teamwork Tuesday is NEXT week. Robbie was oblivious and Charlie just wore his sweatshirt all day. But Annie didn't have a sweatshirt with her, so she stuck out like a daffodil in a sea of kids wearing poppy-red uniform shirts. Oops.

----------------
Thanks to Joanie at Joanie's Random Ramblings, I'm also ahead of the game when it comes to Easter candy. A few weeks ago, Joanie blogged about marshmallow Peeps and I suggested she do a Peeps giveaway. She did and not only sent a Peeps package to one lucky winner, but also to me for making the suggestion!

When the box arrived on Monday, I was in Peeps heaven:

Peeps

I opened two packages to share with the kids after school. (Our verdict -- orange creme Peeps taste like marshmallows rolled in baby aspirin.) I hid one package in my pajama drawer so I didn't have to share. I cut a slit in the cellophane so they could get just a little stale, exactly the way I like them, and have been treating myself to one at a time. The rest -- including the cute little plush Peep -- I put away in my closet for Easter.

Thanks Joanie!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Biggest Loser: Burritos, sweat and tears

Biggest Loser logo

In the beginning of the show tonight, they showed a clip where Filipe flipped out. I've never seen that before and wonder when that happened. Did I miss an episode?

Cooking Challenge
The first challenge of the night was Food Network meets Biggest Loser. Celebrity chef Roco Dispirito told the gang how much fat, calories and sodium are in popular fast food items -- a triple cheeseburger (which thankfully, I've never eaten), a burrito and pizza. Then the teams had 30 minutes to create lighter versions of the foods that still tasted good.

Mandi may irritate me with her crying, but I can always count on her to say something funny. Tonight she said, "Having 11 fat people in a small little kitchen doesn't exactly go very well." That made me laugh.

While the black team was enjoying their victory meal prepared by Chef Rocco (the key to the win was the low fat, lo-cal bison burger), the blue team went shadow boxing with Sugar Ray Leonard. Now that looks like something I might actually enjoy, though it looked kind of slow -- which is probably why I liked it!

Food Bank Challenge
The teams had to pack 150 meal kits, push them through the warehouse and load them on trucks. First team to finish would win free food for a year from General Mills! Woohoo! I hoped the black team's decision to sit Laura out, instead of Sione who had a bum ankle, wouldn't come back to bite them in the cellulite.

After being way ahead, the black team lost the advantage. It was definitely gonna be a close one. Ron (blue team) looked cool as he was loading, compared to Helen (black team) who looked frantic. I was really rooting for the blue team -- Aubrey (blue team) has 5 kids, so she got my "free groceries" vote.

Black team won the challenge...again.Though my vote didn't count, it didn't matter because Mike, who is a college student, gave his free groceries to Aubrey. That was cool.

Last Chance Workout
The last chance workout was a tale of two criers -- Laura and Mandi. Once again, Mandi was crying -- "what if I work this hard and I still go home?" Bob was a lot more patient than I would have been.

Jillian was harsh...right, but harsh... to Laura that people think she's weak because she acts like she is. The Psych 101 with Jillian drug on for a little too long, but I think it probably resonated with lots of viewers at home.

For the first time in all the years I've been watching the show I found myself wondering if the gym smells bad.

77-pound Weigh In
If the teams combined lost at least 77 pounds, no one would be sent home and the show would donate 7,700 pounds of food to a national food pantry network. But if they didn't make 77, one person from each team would be sent home. Cathy and Sione each only lost 3 pounds. Allison really sounded like Cathy was letting the whole team down. I've never heard any judgement in Allison's voice before tonight.

It came down to Mike. If he didn't lose at least 10 pounds, two people would reach the end of their Biggest Loser journey. So Mike, stepped up on the scale and.......

to be continued! GRRRRR! They're not going to show the results until next week. It was bad enough last week where they split the show between Tuesday and Wednesday nights. But a whole week? I might have to rewind the recording and watch it slowly for cues as to what kind of number Mike put up.

Anyone care to venture a guess?

How do I answer that?

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When I became a parent, I knew there would be times when my children would ask me questions for which I had no answers. Questions about death and faith and higher math...and now, monster genitalia.

"Mom? Why doesn't Godzilla have a wiener?"

Umm? Because Godzilla is a girl. With PMS. And someone just ate the last M&Ms hidden in the pantry.

He didn't buy it, but makes sense to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The way to their hearts

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The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but apparently the way to my children's hearts is through their feet.

After Charlie's basketball game and Annie's volleyball game (which were won and lost, respectively) yesterday, we headed to the mall to do a little shoe shopping. Who knew that my kids love shoes as much as they do?

First stop was Payless for the BOGO (buy one, get one...half-price) sale. Both boys needed new tennis shoes. We found some black high tops for Charlie. He keeps calling them Air Jordans, but I think they're actually a Shaquille O'Neal shoe. Then I thought he needed some regular athletic shoes as well. So we picked out a pair of Converse knock-offs.

Robbie made the choice of shoes pretty easy. One look at a pair of Power Rangers tennies that light up and he was sold. There was minor drama when we couldn't find the right size. But thanks to a very attentive saleswoman who was willing to climb a ladder and look in the storage sections, it was crisis averted.

We thought about buying Robbie a second pair of shoes, but we knew they would go unworn. So I took a 6-pack of boys' socks as my second 1/2 price item, which really was a gift to me. I absolutely hate finding socks for the kids to wear everyday. I'd much rather they all had hairy feet and no need for socks.

So three pairs of shoes, one pack of socks and $52 later, we were on our way to Nordstrom to pick out Annie's boots. Now, for the record, I have never purchased a pair of shoes for myself at Nordstrom. I have never spent more than $90 on a pair of shoes -- and that was only once. Usually, I keep my shoes to $40 or less.

But Annie has been coveting a pair of Uggs boots for a year now. I told her that there was no way I was buying her a pair of $150 boots, but if she wanted to spend her own money on them, that was fine. So when a check arrived from her great-grandmother for her birthday last month, she had enough to make the purchase.

During the walk from one end of the mall to the other, Annie was practically drooling at the thought of the short gray Uggs she'd been dreaming of. She told me -- at least three times -- that Maggie has tall chestnut Uggs, Ellen has tall black ones and in August Alayna is getting short chocolate brown ones. Like it matters to me in the least...

We arrived at Nordstrom and I hoped that the presence of our two Payless bags would convey the fact that we're really not those overindulgent type of parents who don't think twice before spending $150 on a pair of shoes for our tween. I must have said to Annie in front of the salesman at least four times that the choice of style and color was hers because it was HER money she was spending.

There were no short gray Uggs available in the store in Annie's size. The salesman said they could be ordered and would be in toward the end of March. Apparently, a short chestnut pair on the feet is worth two gray Uggs in the warehouse, because Annie elected to buy the chestnut pair immediately available.

Since we got all the new shoes home, my kids have been practically giddy. Charlie, wearing his new high tops, has developed a sudden urge to practice his jump shot outside in the 33 degree weather. Robbie, who strips his shoes and socks off as soon as he gets inside the door, fell asleep in his Power Rangers shoes last night. And Annie, after e-mailing her friends about her new possession, has told me at least a dozen times that her new boots are "sooo comfy and I just love to wiggle my toes inside them." She even tried to get me to smell the inside of the boots. Gross!

As for me, I'm just happy that for at least the next three days when the boys ask me for socks, I won't have to go looking any further than the Payless bag.