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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The "F" word

I'm gonna use it. The "F" word -- the three letter one, that is. The FLU. There, I said it out loud. This H1N1 flu stuff is starting to scare the bejeezus out of me.

Earlier this week, a friend of a friend of my sister's passed away from complications of H1N1. She was in her late 20s, had a 9-month old baby. Then last night, I came across the Cheaper Than Therapy blog, where a mother is chronicling the story of her adult son's fight against this. And this morning my mom told me that someone I grew up with has been in ICU on a ventilator for three weeks with it.

I got my kids and myself the regular flu shot, but I was going to pass on the H1N1 vaccine. Too new, too untested, I told myself. But the more I hear about this, the more anxious I am about it. I keep checking our county health department site to find out when and where we can get the vaccine.

I sat my kids down this morning and gave them all a lecture about washing hands and covering coughs. I'm considering instituting a ban on sleepovers because those all nighters don't really do anything to help their immune systems.

The building where I work has a community health clinic on the first floor and WIC offices on the second floor. For the past 5 weeks, I've taken the stairs to my third floor office (no touching the handrails!) because I'm sure that there are fewer germs in the stairwell than on the elevator. Then I hit the hand sanitizer as soon as I get to my office to get rid of whatever germs might have been lurking in the stairway.

And the thought of germs on Halloween candy that gets handed out tonight? I think I just have to say a prayer about that because that just might push me over the edge.

I'm trying to temper my anxiety with the knowledge that we know several people who've had it who, while being really miserable for several days, have not had severe complications.

Are you concerned? If it's available, will you get the vaccine for yourself and/or your kids? Do you think giving the teachers decorator bottles of hand sanitizer for Christmas is a little over the top?

Friday, October 30, 2009

What is it with the garage?

This post was brought to you by Facebook...

I posted on my Facebook page this morning that I want to clean out my closet today, but being Fall Break, I think my kids have something a little more fun in mind. One of my FB friends -- a guy, which is important to this story -- remarked, "Like cleaning out the garage."

What is it with men and the garage? I swear, I think that the priority of thoughts men have running through their heads at all times looks like this:
  1. Sex.
  2. Food.
  3. Garage.
Likely followed by sex in the garage while a big steak is cooking on the grill nearby.

But back to the garage thing. Why is it that men seem to spend so much time thinking about this dirty, greasy space?

Often, we can have a house full of chaos and mess and Mike's first thought is to clean out the garage. As if the mysteries of the universe are contained out there. And I know I'm not alone. Other wives have told me their husbands are the same way.

Perhaps cleaning out the garage is to a man what organizing the scrapbooking or craft supplies is to a woman. Activity that looks like work, but actually is an escape from the real work that needs to be done.

Maybe it's that the garage is the man's domain. Maybe it's not so much the call of the garage, but distancing themselves from the nagging wife and the whiny kids on the other side of the door? I don't have any desire to spend more time there than I have to. There are mice out there. Or at least there were at one time and I'm not about to go find out if that's still true.

Can you tell much about a person by the way he keeps his garage? My neighbor's garage is immaculate. He epoxy'd the floor and put in an awesome heater. Some might say this points to his industrious and fastidious character (he is both). I think it's more that his wife let him do this so if he ever peeves her bad enough she can make him sleep in the garage without feeling too bad about doing so.

Men, shed a little light for us. What is it about the garage that is so appealing? Women, am I in the minority here? Or do the men in your lives have a thing for the garage, too?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Biggest Loser: GRRRRRR!

Biggest Loser logo

Ok. Can I just say (of course I can, it's my blog) that I am SICK TO DEATH of contestants throwing themselves under the bus? Arrrrrggggghhhh! For crying out loud, let people make up their own minds based on how they perceive the game to be going. STOP saying "send me home."

Tonight it was Abby. The Black Team lost the Face Off Weigh Ins. I was thinking that either Amanda or Daniel should be a little nervous. Amanda because she walked out of the gym and has generally been a pansy this season. Daniel because he is just not putting up the kind of numbers you (usually) need to stay.

But NO...Abby starts it right off with "my journey is different than yours." And I understand. I do. Abby was on the Biggest Loser ranch to learn to live again, to learn to love again, to do more than just exist. But for crying out loud! I was royally ticked when the Black Team -- all but Danny -- honored Abby's wish and sent her packing.

AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!

Ok...deep breath...now that my little rant is over, I will say that Abby has done a phenomenal job since going home. She's lost a total of 80 pounds and looks great!

Other highlights from tonight's show:
  • Best celebrity mash up: Liz -- a cross between Paula Deen and Flo from the 80's show Alice
  • Best quote of the night: Abby, upon hearing that she'd been chosen to face off against Tracy on the scale -- "Tracy is, um, well she's crazy. Tracy's crazy so you just never know what's gonna happen."
  • Best nicknames: Given by Shay to Rudy -- Rudy the bear, the lumberjack, Paul Bunyan
  • Best celebrity impersonation: Jillian, aka Dr. Phillian, trying to get in the heads of Amanda, Abby and Shay
  • Best personal epiphany: Abby -- "I came here looking for a purpose - being present in my own life again. To have the energy to get up. I'm doing it. I can love people again. It's scary to love people when you've lost everything. I'm strong. I'm gonna live and not just exist anymore."
  • Best milestone: Rudy -- who set a new Biggest Loser record by losing 100 pounds in just 7 weeks at the ranch!
  • Best recurring theme: It's been said more than once this season -- YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENT CHOICE. I think that's worth putting on my mirror and my fridge and my dashboard.
Curious to hear what you all thought!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Looking for more great blogs to read?

Indiana's Top 50 Blogs contest is going on right now and there is lots of great content out there to read. Some of the blogs are business blogs. Some are lifestyle. Some are family blogs, like mine.

Oh, did I mention that my blog has been nominated? I have a measly 12 or so votes right now, but you know what they say...it's an honor just to be nominated. What I'm more jazzed about is that two of the other blogs I write for -- The Indiana Insider and Fit City Indy Moms Blog -- have also been nominated.

If you want to read some great blogs, go to Indiana's Top 50 Blogs and check a few out. (Oh yeah, vote if you want!) Of course, you can also find great content in the blogs listed in my blogroll to the right.

Gross anatomy

This morning as I was giving the kids some medicine, Charlie asked what would happen if he took Annie's medicine.

"It's illegal and you can go to jail," Annie quickly said. I took a different -- and less punitive approach and said that you should never take medicine that is not yours because it can make you very sick.

"Like sick, how?" Charlie wanted to know.

"Well, for one, it can damage your liver," I answered.

Relieved, Charlie said, "Well, then I don't have to worry about that because boys don't have livers because they can't get pregnant."

Hmm...maybe "Paging Dr. Charlie" is not quite in his future...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The girl cracks me up!

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Remember last July that I told you my daughter Annie started her own blog? It's been a really fun experience to read what's on her mind -- sometimes things that she might not come right out and tell me in a conversation.

This recent entry gave me such a laugh, that I had to share it here (in purple, just as it is on her blog:)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wow.

THIS. IS. AMAZING. i have a B+ in math. my WORST subject. well not any more!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *gasp for air* HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! so friday was the end of the quarter. so mrs. boyll made figuring out our grade an in-class assignment. when she told us this i was thinking " great. im gonna have like an F! well at least no one else will see it." so i began adding and multiplying and subtracting and dividing on my little calculator. honestly i thought my calculator would explode with all the numbers i was putting in. finally i just had to add in my test score then i would be done. when i added in the 86% (a low B. i know i was amazed too.) from my test i couldn't believe my eyes. the little calculator said i had a 89.71% . i started rechecking my work to make sure i hadn't screwed something up during all my cal-cu-la-tions. (inside joke haha) i didn't. i really had a B+ in math. so when is Jesus coming?

Am I boring?

I'm getting the feeling that my blog entries have become boring lately. Is that true? (Be honest, now.)

It feels a little like I've lost that zippy voice I had when I first started blogging. A little like my posts are kind of cliche and mundane, maybe a bit predictable. Even my Biggest Loser posts seem to have lost a little punch.

I've lost a couple of followers in the past few weeks, so maybe I'm just paranoid. I try to not get all wrapped up in the numbers, but can't lie -- I do pay attention.

Do you think I'm boring? It's ok if you say yes -- but please tell me what you'd like to read instead.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Tis the season

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Last night after I dropped Annie and her friends off at swim practice, I had the urge to go to Target and just wander the aisles to get ideas for Christmas gifts. I'm actually a few weeks behind, but I think I'm just busier this year so I haven't had as much time to consider it.

I spent most of my time in the toy department, though I only have one kid who really plays with toys. Robbie loves Legos and Bionicles, so I perused that aisle for quite some time. I was excited to find a Spongebob Lego set on clearance. That is until I saw the clearance price was still $33. I just can't bring myself to spend that much on Legos for a 6-year-old.

I've also started thinking about teacher gifts. I'm thinking about those layered cookies in a jar. I realize that those are so 1999, but I can make those at home pretty inexpensively.

Then this morning, I got an e-mail from BlackFriday.info. If you're into shopping on Black Friday, which I am!, visit BlackFriday.info for details about the deals that will be offered at most national chain stores.

My entire family will be celebrating Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Georgia. My sister-in-law has never done Black Friday shopping. I forwarded her the BlackFriday e-mail and she replied "Does this mean that I'll be getting up at the crack of dawn?"

To which I replied, "Oh honey, we'll be getting up before the crack of dawn -- Target opens at 4am!"

I think this weekend, I'll make up my Christmas shopping spreadsheet. I do have a few gifts already purchased. I need to talk to Mike about keeping it a low-key (read: frugal) Christmas. But that doesn't mean it can't be an organized one!

Have you started your holiday shopping? Will you shop on Black Friday? Is anyone finished yet?

Passages

It always sounds so cliche when parents say "where did the time go" and "how did they grow up so fast?" But I'm gonna say it -- Where did the time go? How did they grow up so fast?

Charlie's class watched THE MOVIE at school this week. I wasn't prepared for that -- probably because Charlie never gave me the letter saying that they were going to watch THE MOVIE. So, when he got in the car on Tuesday and said "Mom, we watched the 'Just Around the Corner' movie today," I about swallowed my gum.

(We call it the "Just Around the Corner" movie because that's the refrain for the song played in the movie, hinting that bodily changes are just around the corner for these 4th graders.)

Charlie was quite fascinated by the content of the movie and proceeded to tell me about in detail. Well, he tried to tell me, but Annie was in the car and positively grossed out which gave me the legitimate opportunity to tell him we'd talk about it later. Then as soon as Mike got home, I promptly reminded him that I had handled THE TALK with Annie and now that Charlie had seen THE MOVIE, it was Mike's turn to have THE TALK.

In another "where did the time go" category, Annie and I attended a high school information night at school on Tuesday. I swear she was just in kindergarten! She's only in the 7th grade, so we have a little time, but next month we'll be going to several open houses at high schools she is interested in.

When I was her age, I had two options for high school: Catholic or public. That was it. She has 5 Catholic high schools and the public school to consider. Truthfully, we're only going to look at 3 of the Catholic high schools, ruling out two of them based solely on the fact that they are too far away for a daily drive.

She doesn't want to go to the public school and I don't think I want her to either, but I do think we should at least visit and tour so we are clear on all of our options.

So we went into the information night knowing only what we've heard from friends about each of the schools. I had a pretty good idea where I thought she should go, as did she -- though her idea was different than mine. By the end of the night, we were still on different pages but we'd flip-flopped, me leaning more toward her original selection and she toward mine.

Good thing we have some time. If anyone has any tips for how to choose a high school, what questions to be sure to ask, I am all ears!

At least I still have Robbie, who will always be my baby. Today was gym day and I was caught with no clean gym shirts.

So I said, "Robbie, can you just wear a white shirt with your sweatpants?"

"Sure, Mom," totally unconcerned with the "what will the other kids say?!" and not even the least hint of drama about the potential (perceived) embarrassment.

Gosh, I love that kid!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's no place like home

Biggest Loser logo

This week's Biggest Loser opens with the Blue team coming back in after sending Coach Mo home. There is some amount of disbelief that Tracey was one of the returning players. Arrrrgggh! I am so over Tracey and her crocodile tears, boohooing because she saw the shock in people's eyes.

Now that we're 6 weeks into the season, I can start to see real physical changes in many of the contestants. Rebecca is looking downright skinny in the face.

Tonight's challenge took place on the beach. Each player (Amanda, Abby & Tracey sitting out) had to dig up a box that contained a key. The team that found all 4 boxes and keys first would unlock a trunk and win the prize that was inside. Ali wouldn't say what the prize is, only that it would "definitely determine who stays and who goes home." Each box was buried about 6 feet deep. Once one player unlocked their lock, they could go help their teammates.

Well, Ali was right about it would determine who stays and who goes home. The Blue team's box contained tickets to go home. They could choose to go home or give the tickets to the Black team and send them home. They gave the tickets to the Black team.

Which would you have chosen? Go home to see your family or stay on campus to work out with the trainers?

So the Black team traveled home. When they showed Daniel's homecoming, I was looking for his partner from last season. David, was it? At any rate, I didn't see him. No big surprise.

Does anyone else want to cut Dina's hair? I can't help it, every episode I want to cut her hair to her shoulders. That'd probably worth 2 or 3 pounds on the scale. They showed her at the gym, working out while her son sat and waited. The cynic in me thought "they wouldn't let a kid in the workout area." Just another reminder that it's not all reality on this reality show.

I felt sad for Shay. There was no big group to welcome her home, just her husband and stepchildren.

Danny's homecoming was pretty quiet too, but more emotional than Shay's.

Of all them at home, Danny was the only one who didn't eat out, though they all seemed to make pretty decent choices. Shay did the requisite spot for Subway, but she did give a great tip, asking the Subway girl to take out the inside of the bread. I like that idea. I wonder how many people will go to Subway tomorrow and ask for the inside of the bread to be removed?

OMGosh! Danny with a ponytail! I think Danny is becoming my favorite contestant on the show.

Blue team went to the LA Foodbank to stuff backpacks. I hope they really worked for a while and it was more than a photo op.

The Black team returned just in time for their last chance workout. Jillian on giving a last chance workout to a team that's been gone all week: "You can pretty much imagine it's gonna suck!"

Dr. "Phillian" showed up again, this time with Daniel during the last chance workout. He figured out that his mom's constant nagging about his weight, her encouragement that he go on a diet wasn't about him not being good enough, but was about how much she loves him.

And here's how the weigh in went down...

Blue
Allen: -8
Rebecca: -5
Tracey: -4
Liz: -4
Rudy: -14 -- He's lost 87 pounds in 6 weeks!

Total Blue team loss: 35 pounds. That mean Black must lose more than 45 pounds to stay out of the elimination room.

Black
Amanda: -6 -- She went home and she still lost more than any of the Blue team girls!
Shay: -5
Abby: -4
Dina: -5
So Danny and Daniel had to lose more than 25 pounds combined to keep the Black team alive.
Danny: -15!
Daniel: +1

I really thought he was going to pull out the 11 -- or at least a loss of some sort. So Black team headed to elimination. My early guess as to who was going home was either Dina or Amanda. I thought Abby might be a target because of her injury, but I think her story continues to save her.

There was some argument that Daniel should go. He's the one who gained this week and he's had this opportunity before, as a contestant on last season's Biggest Loser. This had all the makings of a very interesting elimination...

Two votes for Dina, two votes for Daniel...it takes four votes to be sent home.

A third vote for Dina. Shay was the last vote. Of course she wasn't going to vote for Daniel, her partner. Instead, she voted for Dina, who, I am sorry to say, is NOT the Biggest Loser.

Funny that no one, it seems, considered voting for Amanda. That's where my vote would have been cast.

Dina left the ranch having lost 35 pounds in 6 weeks. I wouldn't kick that number out of bed for eating crackers. She's lost another 30 pounds at home. And what's better -- she went to get a makeover -- including a new hairstyle!

And in case you didn't see my earlier post today, Jillian Michaels is getting her own show! Read all about it here.

Holy smokes!

This just in...Jillian Michaels is getting her own show! According to her Facebook page, she'll still be on The Biggest Loser, as well.

They're taking applications for "Losing It with Jillian Michaels." Check it out:

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I've got my application in, complete with the picture of me in my fat dress. Anyone else plan on applying?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Let's talk movies

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Given that I've admitted to my couch potato tendencies before, I'm sure it won't surprise you when I say that I love to watch movies. Very often, if Mike and I go out on a date, it will include catching a flick at the theater near our house.

But I like watching movies at home just as much. There are certain movies I consider to be "laundry" films. These are the movies that I've seen so often that I don't have to sit an watch every scene to know what's going on. So I pop one one while I'm doing the laundry, that way if I have to get up and switch the load from the washer to the dryer, or I need to carry a pile of folded laundry upstairs, it doesn't matter if I miss a few minutes.

Currently, my favorite laundry movies are:
  • Fever Pitch
  • The Holiday
  • The Devil Wears Prada
Then there are movies to match my mood. On Friday, I was feeling a bit melancholy and really wanted a movie to complement -- not heal -- my mood. So I asked for suggestions on Facebook. The nominees included:
  • Stepmom
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Family Stone
  • Love Actually
  • The Way We Were
I ended up going with Dan in Real Life because a) I had it easily accessible and b) I LOVE that movie. It's just such a different role for Steve Carrell (of The Office fame) and the soundtrack is awesome.

Last night, we had a few friends over and we rented Away We Go with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. What a surprisingly funny and entertaining film that turned out to be. But definitely wait until the kids are in bed or out of the house.

The kids love to have "Family Movie Night." Some of our favorites for that are:
  • Night at the Museum
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop
  • Star Wars
  • The Game Plan
  • Garfield: The Movie
Of course, I love to introduce them to movies like Free Willy, Space Camp and Big -- movies that were popular when I was a kid.

The Heartland Film Festival is going on now in Indianapolis for the next two weeks. If you're at all within driving distance, I highly recommend trying to get to a few of the screenings. Check out the write up I did for the Indiana Insider blog. I'm hoping to see a couple of the films myself.

Of course, I can't see every movie that I want to see. That's what the Redbox is for! Movies I'm waiting for on the Redbox include Julie and Julia and Rachel Getting Married.

Are you a movie watcher? In-theater or at home? What are some of your favorites?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What does it mean to be a woman?

My friend Liz at Eternal Lizdom asked me to answer that question as part of a blog chain that she was starting, where several bloggers would answer the same question. I haven't read any of the other posts because I wanted my answer here to be solely my own. But it will be interesting to see if any of the other bloggers have similar feelings.

The first thing that came to mind when I thought about the question, "What does it mean to be a woman?" was that Enjoli commercial. "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never, never let you forget your a man..."

But that really doesn't have anything to do with how I view my own existence as a woman. Words that come to me when I think about the question include "responsibility" and "strength" and "connectedness."

I find it really hard to separate being a woman from being a mother. From the earliest days of my first pregnancy, I had a sense of the privilege it is to be a woman with child. To know that I was growing a baby deep within me. To feel the first flutters of movement. To see how my baby responded to music and noises on the outside. It was like a secret relationship, one that was mine to share with others or not. And I felt grateful that it was my experience to have.

Giving birth to Charlie put me in touch with the sense of power that was mine by virtue of my womanhood. All three of my children's births are special, but Annie and Robbie were born by c-section and I was a passive -- though quite interested -- onlooker. But Charlie's birth, a VBAC, was a physically, emotionally and spiritually powerful experience for me. An absolute gift.

Now that they are older, I am acutely aware of being responsible for the management and coordination of all the day to day activities of each of my kids. And I'm in touch with the frustration of trying to balance nurturing their souls and their personalities with making sure the homework gets done and they get to soccer practice on time.

But I know that being a woman is about more than being a mother. For me, it's about being connected. About wanting to know others' stories and wanting to share my own in return.

I never understood married women who insist that their husbands are their best friends. I love my husband, but there is something lifegiving in a different way about my relationships with my closest of girl friends. In a way, I feel sorry for men who don't seem to need or to want those kind of connections.

Being a woman brings with it, for me at least, a certain sense of spirituality. Not in an organized religion way, but in a more organic, cosmic sort of way.

It means having the choice to be strong and stoic or to break down and cry and not having anyone question me for doing either. It means being unsure that what I am doing is the right thing, but being courageous enough to go with my gut.

On a more practical level, being a woman means paying good money for a haircut and not feeling guilty about it (much), getting a pedicure as a treat for losing 10 pounds and thinking that there is nothing weird about ordering a Diet Coke with my fat-laden french fries. It's saying "I'm going to bed," but stopping to do the dishes or fold the laundry or make lunches for tomorrow before actually going upstairs.

To me, being a woman is chocolatey, curvy, freeing, heavy, joyful, mysterious. It is full of endless possibilities and limitless emotion.

It is who I am, in whatever way I choose to be.

How about you? What does being a woman mean to you? Leave a comment here or blog about it on your own blog. If you choose to post about it on your blog, leave your link in McLinky below. Be sure to visit Liz's post for her thoughts and for links to more ideas of what it means to be a woman.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Scary thought

Halloween is only 17 days away! Usually by now, my kids have their costumes all ready to go. This year, we're getting a little slower start.

Robbie is all set. He's going to be a pirate.

Cap'n Robbie

I bought the costume on ridiculous clearance last year, kept it hidden in my closet and got it out just a few days ago. It was a pretty perfect fit and he was thrilled. So one kid down.

Annie knows what she wants to be -- a ninja. But I don't have any idea what that means in terms of costume, thought I'm pretty sure a (fake) sword is involved. I know I could probably just go buy a ninja costume, but I'd much rather go the cheap route and pull it together with stuff we have as home.

Charlie isn't sure. First, he said he wanted to be Michael Jackson. Hmmm...not so sure I'm crazy about that. Wonder if we could do a humorous take on the "King of Pop?" Like make a costume out of Diet Coke boxes and stick a crown on his head. His other choice is Danny from the movie "Grease." That's a possibility. Jeans and a white t-shirt. Wonder if I could find a small black leather-ish jacket at the Goodwill?

As for me, I'll just go as a Mom. I used to have a cute little Halloween sweater that I would wear for the festivities. But it's been so blasted hot here in late October the past few years, that the mere thought of putting on the sweater made me sweat. So I gave it away.

Do your kids trick-or-treat? What are they going as this year? What do you do with all that candy?

Over at the Fit City Moms Blog, I posted details about the Great Halloween Candy Buy-Back that we've done in our house for a few years. Check it out and leave a comment there about whether or not you think your kids would go for it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Biggest Loser: A mop and a bucket

Biggest Loser logo

That's what I need to wade through tonight's Biggest Loser drama -- a mop and a bucket. The opening temptation was to spin a big Wheel-of-Fortune type wheel. The contestants had to either eat what was under the lid or they could win a golden ticket that would allow the winner to divide the teams into black and blue, Jillian and Bob's teams. Everyone except Abby chose to participate.

As luck would have it -- or as the producers arranged it -- Tracey found the golden ticket. She broke up every team, except for hers (with her partner Mo) and Daniel and Shay. Plenty of people were upset with Tracey for breaking up the teams. But no one was more angry and more outspoken about having Tracey in the crosshairs than Liz.

"What do Southern women do when they get mad?" Jillian wanted to know.

"They get even," said Liz, ever so seriously.

Abby and Tracey still can't train, though by the last chance workout, Tracey was walking slowly on the treadmill.

Best quote of the night: Jillian to Dina when Dina couldn't make herself jump up on the Plio stool. "You're life is not changing today, but at least your butt will get smaller."

Then the teams had their first blue vs. black challenge: a chariot challenge. Each team had to carry one member of the team on a platform up a hill, through the mud. The winning team -- BLUE -- won videos from home. Rebecca gave her opportunity to watch the video to Dina, who is on the black team, saying "Go get that step," referring to the Plio stool. But Dina turned it down, because she had to get on that step on her own. It was a totally scripted exchange. Clean up on aisle 13!

Liz asked Danny to watch her video with her and I was thinking that her behavior was approaching inappropriate -- they are both married. But it was really Danny's video. His wife said she's lost 20 pounds and several members of her family are losing weight too, inspired by Danny's efforts on the ranch.

On to the last chance workout. Bob heads to 24 Hour Fitness with his team. No surprise there. Jillian pushes her team to the limit in an outdoor workout. She shows a surprising bit of compassion by letting Dina stop her workout even though she didn't make it on top of that stool.

In the weigh in room, can Jillian keep her win streak going?

Blue (Bob's team)
Tracey -7 (no one seemed to be happy)
Mo -6
Allen -7
Rudy -8
Rebecca -7
Liz -8
Blue team percentage of weight loss: 2.56% (43 pounds)

Black
Abby -5
Dina -6
Amanda -6
Danny -10
Daniel -11
Shay -- Needed to lose 8 pounds to keep the black team safe. She dropped 16 pounds!
Black team percentage of weight loss: 3.05% (54 pounds)

Tracey said her head is on the chopping block because she split everyone up. But her head was in a precarious position because of her attitude and her actions for several weeks in a row. However, I had a hard time believing that the producers weree going to let her leave now. She brings too much drama to let her go.

Sure enough, as the blue team was discussing who should go, Coach Mo threw himself on the sword. He's been pulling the lowest numbers, he told them. He should go home.

I thought Rebecca was going to kill Coach Mo. She was really gunning for Tracey to go home. Rudy argued that having Mo around would be better for the team than having Tracey around. Mo is supportive and encouraging. Tracey has and likely will continue to make things insane.

Liz flip flopped from her original position and voted to send Mo home. I'm thinking she thought that Tracey is the next obvious target, so keeping Tracey one more week guarantees Liz at least two more.

Wonder what the black team will think when they see Tracey still on the ranch?

In the Biggest Loser Transformation Moment, Coach Mo had lost 76 pounds and looks great! Next week's show is Old Home week -- the remaining contestants get to go home for a week. Should be interesting.

One thing you didn't see on the show itself was me, actually exercising during several commercial breaks. I'd like to say I was inspired by the show -- and that was a part of it. But I was also feeling guilty because I had a frustrating evening and chose to feed that frustration with a Quarter Pounder (No cheese, though. That should count for something!), fries and Oreos. Why the heck did I do that?

So anyway, I spent several commercials walking up and down my stairs, doing toe touches on the steps, and simulating my own Plio stool by jumping up onto the second stair.

Do you exercise during the show? If yes, what do you do?

Monday, October 12, 2009

My next business venture

So I had my root canal today and I got an inspiration for my next business venture.

I was sitting in the chair, covered with a blanket, looking out the window,

view from a root canal

View from a root canal

when the hygienist asked if I wanted nitrous oxide. I said "Yep. I want anything that will take my mind away from what's actually happening inside my mouth."

So she brought this Apollo 11 looking nose mask out, put it on me and said that it would work quicker if I uncrossed my ankles (a nervous, at the dentist pose I tend to strike when I know sharp metal objects are pointed at my teeth and gums). Within just a few minutes, I was feeling mighty fine. I didn't care what was going on in my mouth or anywhere else.

After what felt like 15 minutes (but was really 2 hours) -- I know I slept during a few of those because I woke myself up with my own snore, the doc said "we're done." The hygienist took away my happy mask and I soon returned to my usual conscious state.

So I got to thinking, I bet people would pay big bucks to go to a nitrous oxide spa. A comfy recliner, a warm blanket, and some NO2. Nirvana to anyone who is just looking to chillax for a bit, right? We could even sell designer nitrous masks -- tie dye, leopard print, purple glitter, camoflague for the manly men. Set the timer -- 30 minutes, 60 minutes or the deluxe 90 minute special. And the beauty of it is that once the masks come off, the nitrous wears off quickly, so no "breathing and driving" liability.

I think it's a winner of an idea. I just wish they would have let me keep the nitrous mask on this morning while I was writing the check for the $537 bill. Maybe it wouldn't have hurt so much.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

As if Mondays aren't bad enough



There are many a Sunday night when I find myself dreading Monday morning, wishing I had just one more day of the weekend to relax or get things done around the house. Tonight, I'm dreading Monday morning for a whole different reason -- I'm getting a root canal in the morning.

Sadly, this isn't my first root canal. But it's been quite a while since I've had one and I don't remember a whole lot about it. I remember the last time I had one, the endodontist's office had quotes written on the ceiling tiles. I thought that was pretty considerate since the patients have to lay there staring at the ceiling for hours on end.

How many hours is it? I don't remember. And I don't remember what kind of anesthesia they offer. I'd prefer to be completely knocked out. Or at least looped up pretty good. But I know I remember that I drove myself home, so I'm pretty sure neither of those things will happen.

I wasn't really surprised when my dentist told me I need a root canal. The tooth in question has been bothering me (read: throbbing) off and on for a while. But I HATE the dentist. Well, not the dentist herself, but what happens at the dentist.

First, there are the x-rays with the films that never fail to gag me. I've thrown up in the dental chair during x-rays more than once. Then the hygienist uses an ultrasonic cleaner to get at the plaque on my teeth and it's like scraping fingernails across a chalkboard. Then she starts digging at my gums with the mini pick axe. All the while, my body is tensing up, preparing for the impact in my mouth.

Then the dentist comes in, looks at my teeth and the x-rays and delivers the inevitable bad news. Last time, it was REALLY bad. And the root canal was just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much work that needs to be done in my mouth, that the dentist asked if she could confer with her billing specialist to come up with a treatment plan and to prequalify the work with my insurance. There goes the thoughts for a trip to Disney World!

So the every six months cleaning leads to a long-term relationship with the dentist to get everything fix and culminates in the next six-month check up where the whole ridiculous thing starts again.

That's why I was serious when I said I'd rather have a mammogram than a teeth cleaning.

It's not like I don't brush my teeth. I do -- at least twice every day. Admittedly, I'm not much of a flosser unless something is stuck in my teeth. But I think my genes are working against me in this battle (I have my dad's bad teeth), so I kind of feel like I don't have much control.

No matter. Tomorrow morning will find me in the chair at the endodontist, hoping for a little laughing gas cocktail and looking forward to my indulgent, post-root canal nap.

Friday, October 9, 2009

For better or for worse

Photobucket

Sixteen years ago today, Mike and I said "I do." Actually, we said "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."

This morning Mike said something to Annie about this being one of the best years of our marriage. The statement caught me off guard.

"Really?," I thought to myself. "This is the year that we were separated for three months and he can say that it's one of the best years of our marriage?"

We promised to be there for each other in bad times and, in my mind, this past year had more than its share of bad times. But when I thought about it a little more, I realized that Mike was right. This has been one of the best years of our marriage because we really did live up to what we promised each other on that altar 16 years ago.

We were separated, yes.

If we had parted ways, thrown up our hands and said "been nice knowing you," then it would have been bad. But we didn't.

We parted ways with an honest promise to work to find each other again. It's been hard work. Going to marriage counseling sometimes stirs up stuff one or both of us would just rather ignore. But we don't. We sit with it and we work through it. And we're better for it. So is our marriage.

While I would like to have been able to give my children an Ozzie and Harriet picture of wedded bliss, I think the example that we've provided to them over the past year is just as powerful. That love is not always rosy. That love is not about a feeling. Love is choice to honor a commitment that we made to each other and to God.

So, my huzzzband, 16 years ago I chose you. Last spring, I chose you still -- even when so much of me wanted to turn my back. And today, I choose you again.

Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When did this happen?

It was gray and rainy here all day. I'm not sure if the temperature ever got higher than 50 degrees. I had on a sweater and my favorite pair of cropped pants with a pair of black loafers that were well past their prime. One of the shoes had a hole in the bottom and the soles on both were peeling back from the toes.

After traipsing around in the rain long enough to have soaked both my feet, I popped into Burlington Coat Factory (AMAZING deals there!) and picked up a new pair of black loafers. But my feet were still cold. And when my feet are cold, my whole body is cold.

So when I got home, I put on a pair of socks. My intention was to just wear them at home. However, Mike and I had an appointment tonight, so I had to go back out. I wasn't about to go sock-less and freeze my feet again. And I didn't want to change into a whole 'nother outfit. So I left my socks on, put my new shoes back on and headed out the door:

dorky socks

Now, I knew that I probably looked a little silly (posted about it on Facebook), but I didn't care. I was warm and comfortable.

When did that happen? When did I start putting function over form? I love silly socks and wear them with abandon because they make me happy. I buy shoes more for how they feel on my feet than how they look in the mirror. I have been known to wear the same pair of pants twice (sometimes three times if you count the weekends) in one week because they are still clean (enough!) and they are comfortable. I rarely wear makeup and when I do, it's some tinted moisturizer and a touch of lipstick.

I don't think it's a matter of not taking pride in how I am dressed. I think it's more an issue of utility and efficiency (and a bit of the "c" word -- comfort). Does it happen to everyone? Is this a "mom" thing? Am I just one of those sorry souls in the world of fashion? Do I need an intervention?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Order Up!

Biggest Loser logo

This week on the Biggest Loser:

- Bob and Jillian weren't all hoo-rah about Sean and Antoine falling on the sword so Shay could stay at the ranch another week. "They have to learn how to put themselves first," Jillian said.

- Amanda said for the 500th time "America chose me to be here," causing this blogger to gag a little bit. Is anyone else tired of hearing that?

- The contestants were forbidden from the kitchen and had to order every meal from a take-out menu for the entire week! To make sure they didn't cheat and try to whip themselves up some healthy fare, there were locks on the kitchen cabinets. Trust me, I've considered doing that at home before. But I think that putting this challenge in week 4 seemed a little unfair. Seems like they should have given the contestants another couple of weeks to get better at healthy eating.

- All the contestants went out to a Mexican restaurant w/Bob and Jillian. Their dinners didn't look bad, but it wasn't what I would want to order at a Mexican restaurant. Of course, that's probably why I'm shaped like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

- Paging Dr. Jillian, who hung apparently hung out her psychotherapy shingle on the gym door. Before the end of the episode, she got into the heads of Julio ("Some people jump in a bottle, take pills. I eat cheeseburgers. That's my drug of choice. "); Rebecca ("I want to wear skinny jeans and have a family and not just be the girl with the pretty face.); and Rudy, who could have crushed her with his pinky, but didn't because Jillian and her crazy ways are what he's on the ranch for.

- Dr. H. told Tracy she was not allowed to exercise at all - not even walking or swimming - because her CPK enzyme was very elevated. For us non-medical types, this link explains CPK. Amazingly, she lost 4 pounds anyway.

- Aside from the silent plug for Extra Sugar-Free Gum, Allison plugged the new book Biggest Loser Simple Swaps, which seems to be kind of like "Eat This, Not That.

- Daniel won immunity for the Orange Team by hanging from his hands on a platform that got steeper longer than any other player. It seems in these challenges that so much of this is mental.
Daniel wanted to win so he knew he would make it past week 4 in this season (the week he got voted off last season). Even after Allen gave in, Daniel still hung on wanting to be certain that he really did win.

- At the weigh in, Danie lost 0. Shay lost 5. But they had immunity. Was 0 pounds lost a strategy or a coincidence?

- Teams Brown (Liz and Danny) and Black (Julio) ended up below the yellow line. I'm glad that the Green Team was safe. Statistically, sending 2 people home made sense -- that much closer to being the last one standing. But emotionally, it would have been easier for me to think that I was only crushing one person's dream by sending the Black team home.

- Mo and Tracy disagreed over which team to vote for. I think Mo should have gotten to make the decision. He's carried that team and he should get to exercise some authority over it. But Mo let Tracy have her way and that makes me mad.

- In the end, Julio was voted off. His goodbye message was genuine and touching. At home he's lost over 100 pounds! "My love for food is not gone. I'm just changing the way I'm doing it," he said.

The preview for next week makes me hope the week goes by fast.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Who would you have voted for? Does Amanda bug you as much as she bugs me? Do you have a favorite team yet?

Off the top of my head

I can't seem to gather one good thought lately. Too many competing thoughts fighting for space in my head and not one of them dominant enough to make it into an interesting post. So, lest you think that I've given up on blogging because I haven't posted in 4 or 5 days, I thought I'd share these random thoughts off the top of my head:

  • Sarah's Key: I actually picked up a book this weekend. And once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. It tells the sad, but powerful story of the round-up of Jewish families from Paris in July 1942 from the perspective of a little girl who lived it and of a modern-day journalist who was assigned to cover the anniversary of the event.

  • The 7th grade science fair just might be the death of me. Annie has until Friday to turn in her topic. Most of the ones I've thought were very interesting, she declared "boring!" She wants to do something related to volleyball or swimming. If you have any great ideas, let me know.

  • I got one of THOSE e-mails last night from the Assistant Principal. Robbie did not get to go on his field trip yesterday because he was upset (crying, wailing, generally inconsolable) that I was not going with him. So I spent 45 minutes after school with the teacher trying to figure out how to help him. (Actually, there is probably a whole post about that, but it seems too raw to flesh it out here right now.)

  • Caught up on the two newest episodes of Desperate Housewives online last night. I should have been doing laundry and dishes. Guess I was hoping to forget my own role as a desperate housewife!

  • I stumbled upon the coolest Christmas gift for my husband yesterday. Actually brought tears to my eyes. Anyone started their Christmas shopping yet? I've picked up a few things here and there, but nothing serious.

  • My sister's baby was due on Sunday. I'm resisting the urge to call her and ask how she's feeling, if anything's happening yet. But if she happens upon this blog and should care to respond here with a comment, that's totally up to her...
So how 'bout you? What's on your mind today?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coming clean

skippyjon jones

Every night when I put Robbie to bed, I read him one or two stories. Usually two if we're getting upstairs on time. One if we're running late. Occasionally we'll skip the stories if it's way past bedtime.

Robbie probably has 50 or more books on his bookshelf. But I bet we only read about 15 of them. We both really like the "How Do Dinosaurs" series -- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and all the books that follow are also favorites of ours. And one year for his birthday, we had a pancake theme going. We still love to read Mr. Wolf's Pancakes, Pancakes! Pancakes! and Hey, Pancakes!

But we don't agree on every book. I've been known to slide the original Curious George books under the bed before he can see them because they are too long. And then there was SkippyJon Jones.

When Robbie turned 5, a friend from preschool gave him the book SkippyJon Jones and the Big Bones. Robbie LOVED that book. Every night for weeks, he asked if we could read it. And I hated that book. Absolutely could not stand it.

First, I couldn't figure out if SkippyJon was a dog or a cat. I eventually figured it out, but the fact that there was a question annoyed me. Then there were all the voices and dialects that were in the book. It took so much energy to read. And I just could not read it any more.

But Robbie would ask for it every night. After a while, it became a big joke.

"Mom, let's read SkippyJon Jones and the Big..."

"NO! I can't do it!"

And he would laugh.

He still asks for it at least twice a week. And I still protest, telling him "Robbie, I haven't seen that book in a long time. I don't even know where it is."

Which is the truth. Because last summer, I snuck SkippyJon Jones and the Big Bones into the pile of books for sale at our garage sale. And I happily sold it for 50 cents to somebody's Grandma. So when I tell Robbie that I don't know where the book is, I'm not exactly lying, because I don't know who bought it or where she lives.

Then why do I feel so guilty when Robbie asks for it? And why am I sitting here with the Scholastic Books order form, about to order that stinkin' book that I hate, but my kid loves?