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Friday, April 30, 2010

Things that make me happy

It's been a LOOOONG week. I'm definitely ready for the weekend, although "rest and relaxation" is not exactly on the menu. But I thought it would be a good idea to close the week with a list of things that make me happy:
  1. Baskin Robbins Peanut Butter 'n Chocolate Ice Cream
  2. Taking a nap
  3. Scoring a bingo in Scrabble
  4. A spontaneous hug from one of my kids
  5. An unexpected compliment
  6. New followers on my blog and Facebook fan page
  7. Praise/worship music (Mike calls it "holy roller" music.)
  8. A workout that leaves me sweaty
  9. Walking in the woods/gardens/anywhere green and earthy
  10. Girls' Night (or morning or midday) Out
What makes you happy?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Old lady shoes

Annie made her theatrical debut in the school musical last night. It was a fun show called "Friday Night Fever." She played Mrs. Koonsman, the high school chess club sponsor.

I wish I had a picture to post here because the dress she was wearing looked a whole lot like our family room couch. The outfit was completed with panty hose and a pair of black shoes. But the pictures are stuck in Annie's camera and I can't find the cord to connect it to my computer.

Anyway, back to the outfit. The school provided the dress; we had to provide the hose and the shoes. Last Wednesday night, I was at a work event late when I got a text message from Annie.

Annie: Mom, I HAVE to have old lady shoes for rehearsal tomorrow.

Me: Sorry. Goodwill will be closed by the time I get home. Just tell them we'll have them in time for the play.

Annie: Ok.

Five minutes later, my phone buzzed again with another text message.

Annie: Mom, I went in your closet and found the perfect shoes.

Me: You did?

Annie: Yes, they are black with a small heel and a buckle.

Me: Those are NOT old lady shoes -- I JUST BOUGHT those shoes!

Guess who is shopping for new black shoes this weekend?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What in the World Wednesday

Just posted a little mystery game on the 4th Frog Facebook fan page. Jump over to join the fun!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Biggest Loser: Humor & Inspiration

Biggest Loser logo

This was one of the best episodes in a long time. It was inspiring and funny. The gang headed to Texas, home to the five fattest cities in the U.S.

The contestants hit radio shows around the state and got people to join them at the Cotton Bowl for a 5K. It was the most inspiring thing I've seen on this series in a long time. Hearing the contestants encouraging other people was really uplifting. (And made me regret the peanut butter fudge I ate earlier.) More on that inspiration a minute, but did anyone else think that
Sunshine running with her long hair under a baseball hat and wearing a yellow shirt looked like Forest Gump?

The challenge of the week was what I'll call a Texas rodeo challenge. Each contestant had to herd cattle into their pen. The reward? Immunity.

O'Neal and Sunshine worked to get calves in O'Neals pen. Sam played for Koli, who ultimately won the immunity. But the most hysterical part of this challenge was Mike trying to sweet talk the calves into submission.

Jillian met up with Abby from Season 8 at a Texas high school. Abby brought Jillian in to motivate the kids. The Q&A in the high school gym was awkward when a very big girl stood up and put herself out there. Jillian talked with her privately after the assembly and encouraged her to make a change. I hope Jillian stays in touch with her.

At the weigh in, Sunshine and O'Neal both fell below the yellow line and, predictably, O'Neal asked to be sent home. Everyone complied with his request and he was voted off. Quite frankly, I'm glad. I was getting tired of Sunshine's teariness and anxiety. Now that she doesn't have to feel responsible for her dad, maybe some of that will go away.

But back to that inspiration. Here is a collection of inspirational things that were said during tonight's episode, most of them during the 5K, many of them from Biggest Loser contestants to the folks who turned out to change their own lives.

Take the small step. Do something. You have to start somewhere. Do a little bit more than you think you can. Go to a different place. Dig deep. Don't leave anyone behind. It's the little things that make the biggest difference. You have to want it. No one can give it to you. Get better everyday. Keep pushing yourself. Your body catches up and then your mind catches up. Little by little you gain confidence. You get such a great feeling from the weight loss and releasing so much crap in your head. It's a lifetime change that's gonna be with me for a lifetime. I've never done that before -- it's great! Maybe I'm not done. Maybe I can get past this and go a little further. I made a difference and I'm thankful. Don't let anybody tell you what you can and can't do. I want to be different. Happiness comes with the achievement of little goals. You have everything that it takes to achieve anything you want. Don't let the little stupid stuff bog you down. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Oh, praise the Lord and pass the potatoes (or the Extra sugar-free gum), next week is MAKEOVER WEEK!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Evidence that I have lost my mind

Today (well, yesterday by now), Charlie had a track meet. And despite my prayer, there was no wicked thunderstorm and it was certainly not a gorgeous, sunny day. No. When it was time to leave for the meet, it was gray and cold and raining steadily.

So what did I do? I grabbed a windbreaker and an umbrella, told Charlie to buckle up, and drove out in the rain, cursing the CYO for not canceling the meet. A sane person would not have waited for someone to cancel the meet. A sane person would have taken one look out the window, seen the downpour and fired up a movie on the instant streaming Netflix.

I did have the good sense to sit in the car during the 45 minutes of warm ups. But once the meet began, I ventured out to watch Charlie compete.

This is me after he won the long jump:

nuts in the rain

Once the long jump was over, I headed to the team tent to seek a little dry(ish) land. Charlie sat on my lap -- both of us trying to stay warm -- and I asked him if he just wanted to call it a day and go home. He looked at me like I had 3 heads.

"I still have to run the 50, the 100 and a relay," he said.

Sigh...

He ran the 400. It was a race he didn't have to run, but he was volunteering for extra races left and right, even though the rain had not let up at all. Maybe I'm not the only one who has lost his mind!

He placed second in the 50 right about the same time my toes went completely numb. Wearing sandals was probably not a good idea.

freezy feet

Then he ran the 200. Another "bonus" race. I was resigned to watching the 100, after which I was going to insist that we bail on the relay, especially since other members of the relay team had already (smartly) packed up and gone home.

But after the 200, he came and said "Let's get out of here. I'm freezing."

"But you haven't run the 100 yet."

"I've done my 4 events, so I'm done."

I started to argue, "You're signed up to run the..."

That's when it hit me. Had I lost my ever-lovin' mind? It was still pouring rain. My feet were frozen. My jeans (and my underwear) were soaked. My kid was ready to go home...and I was trying to talk him into staying longer?

Once I came to my senses, it only took about 3 minutes to gather up his stuff and head to the car.
Ten minutes later -- after my fingers had thawed -- we were on our way home and I was determined that I would never stand around at another freezing, rainy track meet again.

Next time, I'll send Mike.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear God...

I don't want to tell you what to do, but if you could whip up a nice big thunderstorm around noon tomorrow -- big winds, thunder, lightning, the works -- that would be great.

Or if you could manage sunny and upper 60s around the same time, that would be cool too.

Because I really want to be a good mom and support my kid in his activities, but the idea of sitting in the cold and drizzling rain for hours on end at a track meet does not appeal to me.

Thanks for considering this request.

Yours truly,
Amy

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's her loss.

So I was minding my own business on Facebook -- well, that's a lie because Facebook is all about minding other people's business, right? Anyway, I was on Facebook and I came across a link to an article about Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels.

The article was a FoxNews report that was discussing a quote by Jillian that appears in "Women's Health" magazine. On the subject of motherhood, she said "I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body."

Wow. That's so sad and clearly indicative that Jillian doesn't understand the first and most critical tenet of motherhood -- selflessness.

There aren't many women who would jump up and down for the opportunity to watch stretch marks streak across their bellies; who would sign up for months of nausea and wretched heartburn; who would say "sure, make my boobs sag, what do I care?;" or who would voluntarily expel a watermelon from their lady parts. No one would volunteer for that duty just for kicks.

But thousands of women do just that every day in a selfless act of love, in putting their baby's well-being above that of their hourglass figure. Some of those women carry the "scars" of pregnancy and childbirth around for a long time in the form of extra weight, bellies no longer fit to be seen in public, breasts that need significant help to fight gravity. And others are back into their size 6 jeans within a few weeks, pushing their newborns in a jog stroller while the other mothers clutch their coffee cups and mutter curse words under their breaths.

I don't miss having a newborn and the sleepless nights that come with it. But I do miss being pregnant. I miss feeling the baby move within me and having the choice to share that with someone, allowing them to put their hand on my belly, or keeping it all to myself like a sacred secret. I miss the mystery of wondering who the baby would look like. If he would have my nose or Mike's cheeks? I miss jiggling my belly to see if I would get a response in the form of a kick or turn.

Jillian would give up all that for a perfect body?

Wow. It's her loss.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Biggest Loser: Calories, quotes and competition

Last night's Biggest Loser started with a day-long temptation: Whoever ate the most calories in a room filled with food -- some good choices, plenty of bad -- got the one and only vote of the week. However, if the vote-holder fell below the yellow line, the power would be stripped and the vote return to normal.

Koli decided to go for it and eat a lot of calories. Breakfast - hash browns, omelet, sausage, bacon, cereal, donuts = 1,545 calories for breakfast!

Michael said he didn't want to be the one to crush somebody's dream. Guess he figured gameplay is not all it's cracked up to be. But he acted like he ate a bunch to throw other folks off.

For lunch, Koli downed hot dogs, hot wings, cookies = 2064 calories.

O'Neal ate three burgers, sans bun. And he loaded his plate with french fries. But he couldn't make up his mind. Finally, he pushed the fries aside and said "I didn't want those fries. I just wanted to make the hamburger look good." It was the first of several great quotes of the night.

When Koli rolled back into the temptation room for dinner, he said "It smells like fat."

Once Koli finished off dinner, he'd eaten a total of 4,164 calories for the day and felt like crap. I kept waiting for him to throw up.

Not wanting to lose the advantage by falling below the yellow line, Koli and Sam hit the workout hard. I was laughing as Koli was punching with Sam and Sam kept yelling -- instead of "right, right, left, left" -- "hash browns, hash browns, donuts, donuts, omlettes, omlettes..."

Belching from his day of binging, Koli asked, "Can you smell that America? That's obesity. It smells disgusting." I was grateful there's no such thing as smell-a-vision.

My other favorite quotes of the night came when Bob said to Koli during the last chance workout: "That's it chicken wings, let's go."

And when he was talking to Ashley, who was feeling lost without Drea, "You're being tested and I really do believe when life tests you like this, you have the potential for greatness."

The challenge of the night was a building block challenge. It was a ridiculously hard challenge. they had to build a tower of big wood blocks, climb the tower, then climb a metal ladder suspended in the air to get their flag. The winner (Daris) got a 1 pound advantage at the weigh in. The loser (O'Neal) got a 1 pound disadvantage.

O'Neal fell descending his structure and hurt his knee. He didn't finish so in addition to a bum knee, he got the 1 pound disadvantage because he did not finish. That really didn't seem fair, but guess that's the breaks (and in the end, it didn't matter anyway).

The fall was not the end of O'Neal's trouble. He got word that his brother died of cancer. O'Neal was so upset because he didn't get to say goodbye to him. He let out his frustrations and emotions in the gym and then at the end of the workout just lost it.

The weigh-in went down like this:

Koli: -10 (3.7%)
Daris: -7 + 1 pound advantage (3.54%)
Michael: -5 (1.38%)
Ashley: -4 (1.55%)
Sam: -6 (2.38%)
Victoria: -1 (0.37%)
O'Neal: -8 + 1 pound disadvantage (2.52%)
Sunshine: -1 (0.52%)

Koli planned to use his vote to save first Sam, then O'Neal. But they both saved themselves. So who would Koli save now? Victoria or Sunshine? I had to believe that he would save Sunshine and send Victoria home. But then he said "Plan C" was do what was best for himself. That made me think he would send Sunshine home because she is a more fierce competitor. But that thinking was wrong because he sent Victoria home with an admonition to pick it up and work harder.

I feel bad for Victoria because she only got bits and pieces of the experience. She came to the ranch and left before even meeting Bob and Jillian. Then she did a lot of work at home and got voted back on to the ranch. But by then, everyone was in a rhythm and knew what to do. She was left to play catch up.

I'm happy to report that is doing great at home. She's lost a total of 118 pounds so far and her Mom has lost 77 pounds.

So, now we're down to 7 players. Please, oh please, is it time for makeover week soon? Some of those men are looking quite straggly!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top 10 excuses for not mowing the lawn

Mowing the lawn was on my to do list this weekend. It was one of those obligatory to do's because I was feeling guilty every time I drove down the street and saw one of the neighbors' lawns looking spiffy.

My plan was to get up this morning and do it before we had to leave for Charlie's track meet. Which would have worked swimmingly -- if I'd gone to the grocery store last night. But I didn't. So that moved to first on the list. As I was grocery shopping, I put together a list of viable reasons why the grass wasn't cut in case someone asked. Here's what I came up with:

Top 10 excuses for not mowing the lawn
  1. It's too early in the morning. Don't want to wake the neighbors.
  2. I didn't want to get that yucky green stain on my workout shoes.
  3. I'm observing Earth Day.
  4. All that fluffy green complements the blue shutters on the house.
  5. I'm starting a collection of letters from the homeowners association.
  6. I couldn't decide what pattern to mow in -- horizontal or vertical stripes?
  7. All those dandelions have such a pretty yellow color.
  8. I'm thinking about getting a pet goat and it's got to have something to eat.
  9. Operating a lawn mower is not ladylike.
  10. It's too late at night. Don't want to wake the neighbors.
Ultimately, I did get the lawn mowed tonight -- and actually enjoyed cutting it. But feel free to borrow an excuse or two if you need it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not too heavy



For a few weeks now, I've visited blogs that have sported the "Pour Your Heart Out" button and I've thought, "I couldn't do that." Sure, I've whined and ranted here, but I'm not sure that I've ever really poured my heart out.

For some reason, today feels like the right time. I was reading some entries on a message board about dreams and people visiting us in our dreams and it made me think of this experience. So, even though the Pour Your Heart Out blog carnival officially happens on Wednesdays, I'm posting mine today -- before I lose the nerve.

It happened about three or four years ago. I was at a very spiritually low point in my life. I missed Mass frequently. I rarely prayed and when I did it was either unemotional, memorized prayer or frantic pleadings asking God to fix whatever was urgently wrong in my life. I became more and more wrapped in my own life’s drama and less and less aware of and available to people who might need what I had to offer. For all practical purposes, God was dead to me and I, in turn, found myself emotionally dead as well.

I may have turned my back on the Lord, but He continued to pursue me. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He sent Jesus to visit me in a dream one night.

In this dream, I was walking in a small town when someone invited me to come meet Jesus. I went into what looked like a beach house and waited with five or six other people whom I didn't know. Soon we were ushered into a room where Jesus stood at the front. One by one, we approached him and spoke to him.

I was skeptical that this really was the Son of God. When it was my turn to stand in front of him, I quizzed him – where had I gone to high school, what were my pets' names? Of course he knew.

Realizing that I was in the presence of Jesus, I pulled my arms into my chest and leaned into him, craving his comfort. He reached out and picked me up. I was horrified! I was so fat. Certainly too fat for him to lift me.

“No!” I cried out. “Put me down, I am too heavy!”

To which Jesus replied, as he held me in his arms, “Nothing is too heavy for me.”

I awoke from that dream with an eerie sense of peace and an absolute assurance that I had been in the presence of Christ and nothing is too heavy for him.

At first, I felt like that dream was about my weight. That it didn't matter to Jesus what I weighed -- and at that point in my life, maybe that was what it was about -- giving me permission to stop beating myself up for weight.

In the years since that dream, it's come to mean so much more. Since that blessed encounter, there has been some heavy stuff in my life -- and I'm not just talking my hind end. People tell me that I am so strong when in reality I sometimes wonder if I can get out of bed. When my feet hit the floor, it is sometimes by the grace of God.

And then there are times when I do feel strong. When I feel like I can physically and emotionally take on the world. Those are moments of grace, too, when I try to be mindful enough to say "Thank you, Jesus" for this day, for this feeling, for this life.

Regardless of whether it's a day when I'm tying a knot and hanging on or it's one where I'm ready to take a victory lap, I will always be grateful and humbled by the experience of that dream.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Fragments: Back for more

Mommy's Idea


It's been a while since I've done Friday Fragments, but I hate to miss a good party, so let's frag! Be sure to stop Mrs. 4444s's place for more fragments.

End of an era? I'm contemplating dropping the Biggest Loser blogging after this season. I still love the show, but am not as enthused about the blogging. What do you think?

In with the new. After much consideration, I started a Facebook fan page for the 4th Frog. I actually created it a few weeks ago and kept it under wraps before deciding to go ahead. If you're on Facebook (and who isn't?!), I'd be honored if you joined my fan page.

A good news update. I spoke with the parents of two of the kids I wrote about yesterday. Both were apologetic and said they'd talk with their kid. One kid told Charlie he was sorry today. I hope that's the end of it. (BTW - If you were a 4th Frog fan on FB, you'd already have this update by now. Just sayin'...)

Just plain inspired. There are some great writers/thinkers out there in the blogosphere. Two of them who have made me go hmmmm... lately are Momza with her post on living authentically and Rebecca who wrote about what feels natural. Go check 'em out. You're gonna love 'em.

In case you were wondering...what Mike said in his deleted comment on "From the top down," he reposted it for your reading pleasure.

Tempting...Annie asked this morning if we couldn't just stay home. I didn't say no right away, but alas, I went to work and they went to school. The more I think about it, the more I think this would be fun. Once a year -- maybe once a semester? -- let one kid stay home from school and just have fun goofing around with that kid. Watch a movie. Eat ice cream for lunch. Play video games. Would you do it?

Recharged. With Mike in the hospital and other life junk going on, I felt like I lost the month of March on the weight loss front. But I'm recharged, in a good groove at the gym and in new numbers on the scale. I can see my next mini goals -- another 4 pounds by the end of the month, a total of 9 more pounds lost by the end of May -- and I feel confident I can do it. That feels good.

Think that's all the news that's fit to print. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do NOT mess with my kid.

As most mothers have, I've felt the Mama Bear instinct rise up in me when I sense that my child has been wronged or slighted in some way. I've talked about it here and here. But in both those instances, I was contemplating the ways other adults were treating my children.

Today, I found out that some kids have been picking on Charlie. Actually, the one kid I knew about. I spoke about her to the teacher last semester. The teacher talked to the student and things seemed to get better for a while. But just recently, Charlie's been worrying at home about being made fun of by these kids.

Then this afternoon I got an e-mail from the school counselor telling me that Charlie had come to talk to her regarding these kids and some other worries he's been having. Because I had a meeting at school anyway (different kid, different issue), I stopped by the counselor's office to get more information. That's when she told me that these three have had issues for much of the school year. They seem to pick a kid, gang up on him or her, and make fun of him.

After I left the counselor's office, I saw one of the hoodlums, er, I mean kids, in the hallway. Rage boiled up inside me and it was about at this point that I wished we were still in 1974, when Mike was in preschool.

Some kid kept biting Mike and his mom had just had it. So one morning when she dropped Mike off, she walked over to the kid and -- as legend has it -- grabbed him by the collar, got eye to eye with him and said to this preschooler, "If you ever bite my son Mike again, I will beat the living shit out of you." Problem solved. Kid never touched Mike again.

Oh, I so wish that I could do the same thing. Unfortunately, I'd probably be charged with intimidation or some other crime that would land me on the front page of the newspaper.

So I'm left with the mature and Christian options of talking to the kids' parents, letting the school try to intervene and provide corrective action, and, if all else fails, teach Charlie how to throw a fast and mighty left hook.

From the top down

view from the top

The problem with wearing a bra that actually does its job
is that when I look down, I can't see my shoes.

*Note: This photo is not my bra (which is what my husband thought).
It is my chest well-covered by my blouse!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Biggest Loser: A Haiku

Biggest Loser logo


Drea won a car
Fell below the line with Sam
Drove the new car home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The power of NO

I am not very good at NO. I'm a first born, which means that generally I'm a people pleaser. I want people to like me. And people like other people who do things for them. So I find myself saying "yes" sometimes even when I am thinking -- when my insides are shouting -- "NO!"

Sometimes I do manage to muster a negative response to a question or request. But even then, I'm often wishy washy about it, feeling guilty for not being agreeable. My kids have figured this out about me and very seldom take the first no as the final answer.

My inability to say no is quite often linked to my horoscopic Leo tendencies. You know, we Leos love to be the center of attention. Which is quite possibly why I'm drawn to blogging and which is definitely how I got myself into my latest predicament.

Someone at work asked me to be the emcee for the "friend-raiser" of a non-profit organization she works with. There was a part of me that was inclined to decline. But you know what happened. The part of me that can't say no teamed up with the part that loves the spotlight and darn it all if, "Sure I'd love to," didn't flow out of my fingertips and hit send before I could come to my senses.

So last night, I was tossing and turning, going over witty and appropriate things to say into the microphone. I'm still not sure I've come up with anything, but today but my thoughts are focused on what the heck I'm going to wear. And of course, there's the haircut I need to look presentable. I haven't even started stressing about how much I hate the sound of my own voice. I'll leave that until just before the dinner.

If I'd only said no, I would be better rested, unconcerned with my wardrobe and $45 richer. But I would still hate the sound of my voice.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Get creative and get free groceries!

Photobucket

This morning, I stumbled upon the Kroger 3rd Annual Design a Reusable Shopping Bag contest. The person who submits the winning design wins $1,000 from Kroger (or whichever store in the Kroger family is near you -- a list is available on the contest site). Smaller prizes are also awarded to the finalists and runners-up.

I had a ton of fun designing my entries using the backgrounds and clip art provided. There were some limitations -- no ability to center your text, for instance. But I was still able to come up with 5 designs that I liked well enough to submit.

If you design a bag and have a shopper's card at your local store, you can get a free reusable bag just for participating. If you don't have a shopper's card, you can just click "skip this step." (Confession: I don't have a Kroger card because I don't shop there. But I might go in and get one so I can get my free bag.) Plus, if you really like one of your designs, you can purchase it through Cafe Press, so even if it doesn't win, you can have your own one-of-a-kind, totally awesome, reusable bag.

Once you design your bag, you can assign it to a group. Knowing that I have readers who are all kinds of creative, I created a 4th Frog group that you can assign your bags to. There's no advantage to me, but it will allow us to see what each other is submitting. Plus, then we can vote for each others. One vote per design per person each day.

The winners aren't chosen by popular vote, however. That's left up to the judges. Based on last year's winners, I think that the edge goes to folks who do their design outside of the contest tools, then upload the design as a picture. (The pic at the top of this entry is one of the runners-up from last year.) So I might try to come up with a few that way, too. But the 5 I've already submitted I did completely using the design tools they gave us.

So get busy! Design your bag(s), assign them to the 4th Frog group, and leave a comment here letting us know that you have bags for us to look at.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Must not sit

It's Saturday at 8:11am and I have already made the first mistake of the day.

I sat down.

My to-do list is a mile long and quite evident as I look around the house at the kitchen that needs to be picked up; the piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, folded and put away; the blankets strewn about the family room. Don't even get me started on my bedroom. If I were my mother, I would have a fit at the condition of the bedroom. I could go on, but it will start getting depressing.

Even if I look out the window for a little mental escape, I see grass that needs its first mowing and last fall's ornamental grasses that need to be cut down before they away across the neighbors' yards. Then there's the preparing a spot for the tomato and pepper plants I bought from the school flower sale.

There is so much to get done in one short weekend. Add track practice, a birthday party, church, youth ministry cosmic bowling and a track meet into the fray and I'm exhausted thinking about it. Of course, the kids can help -- with some pointed direction and much oversight.

The key, really, is to not sit down. But the family room couch is so inviting, its cushions caved in just the right place for my rear end. And if that's not enough, the laptop is sitting right there, calling to me to just check my e-mail for a minute or two that soon becomes 45 or 60 or 90.

Today, though, I am determined to fight the good fight! I will make a to do list! I will not be distracted by a movie on TV or by catalogs that come in the mail! I will turn off the computer and leave it turned off! I will not sit down! I will be productive and I will feel good at the end of the day for all the things I've accomplished!

Right after I pop over to Facebook.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nice guys finish second

Butler Bulldog logo

The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game between the Butler University Bulldogs and the Duke University Blue Devils has been over for 3 days. And I'm just now finding the strength to write about it. (Not that many of you care -- my BU basketball blog entries were virtually untouched by my usually effusive commenters).

I have to admit that before the game began, I was a doubter. I was in that, "Well, it was cool to get this far" camp, pretty sure that my beloved Bulldogs were going to be trounced by the big boys from Duke.

And if that had happened, I would have still be a proud alum. Butler's got a great group of guys -- 2 Academic All-Americans, 1 guy whose already established his own foundation for kids, 1 guy who is the basketball version of "The Blind Side." Then there's Coach Brad Stevens who is calm, well-spoken and looks like he could be the pitch man for fruit roll-ups (or chocolate milk, as David Letterman suggested).

But darn it all if those guys showed up at Lucas Oil Stadium ready to win! And they almost did. A couple of free throws here, an offensive rebound there, a basket or two falling in and it would have been a different outcome. If Gordon Hayward's last second, mid-court shot had fallen, instead of bouncing in and then out, I think Butler's campus still would be rocking.

Sadly, that's not how the last shot fell. What did fall were the hopes of not just 15 basketball players and a handful of coaches, but the hopes of a nation full of people pulling for the little guy to beat the big, bad giant.

What soared, however, was the pride felt by Butler alumni across the country who probably felt, like I did, that the amazing tournament run by OUR Butler Bulldogs and the mature and classy way those guys carried themselves on and off the court made our degrees a little more valuable.

Thanks Bulldogs! Can't wait to see you next year!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Biggest Loser: No room for gameplay

Biggest Loser logo

I watched The Biggest Loser on DVR at 2am last night and was just too tired to post any reflections about it. However, I was thinking about it on my way to work this morning.

This season is different. Yes, it's the same trainers. Same host. Same shameless product placements. Even the same outrageously large weights at the start of the season. But this season's contestants are different. This season's contestants are supportive of each other. They truly want to see others succeed. They definitely seem to be there for their health, not their wallets.

The only real game player has been Melissa. Once she left the ranch several weeks ago, there seemed to be a lightening of spirits. When she returned last week, no one was throwing her a "welcome back" party. Melissa never made any secret of the fact that she was all about the game -- and I have to give her credit for that. At least she wasn't skulking around being all sneaky about it.

But her desire to play the game did not make her a favorite in the house. In fact, last night's swim challenge in which each player had to move 100 1-pounds weights from the bottom of the pool to a bin on the edge of the pool, demonstrated that quite clearly. Sunshine won the challenge and then moved on to help her father, O'Neal, finish. Sam, who came in second, also helped O'Neal. As each person finished, he or she worked to help another player. The player who came in last would receive a 1 pound disadvantage at the scale. The only person who did not receive help was Melissa.

She viewed that as stupidity, that people weren't trying to knock out the biggest threats in the house, that they obviously didn't understand how to play the game. What Melissa didn't understand is that the players this season don't care about gameplay. At least not yet.

When Melissa fell below the bottom line with Drea, her plea to those who would be deciding her fate was "I'm your fairy godmother. I can't beat you. So keep me and pick off everyone else one at a time." In other seasons, her argument would have been persuasive. But not this season. And so, with five consecutive votes, Melissa was sent packing once again.

I thought that her tearful display of emotion at being forced to leave the ranch for a second time was one of the few times we've seen her real self, instead of this tough competitor image she's projected throughout this season.

To Drea's credit, while she could have been smug and think "I've got this; no one likes Melissa," she didn't. She offered her own plea for why she should stay on the ranch.

I don't think the remainder of the season will be devoid of gameplay. As the numbers dwindle, people will be forced to make alliances and to make difficult decisions which will certainly be influenced by what's best for themselves. The next most likely gameplayer, in my opinion, is Koli. We saw him place seeds of doubt about Stephanie in Ashley's mind. And I think he's getting frustrated by his cousin Sam's success while his own weight loss has not been as remarkable.

So I'm sure the games will take place. But last night anyway, it was refreshing to see that there was no room for gameplay.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grandpa's got a girlfriend

Our celebration of Easter this year coincided with my grandfather's (PaPa, we call him) birthday. So after church, we made the trek to Ohio to congratulate PaPa on his 85 years of life.

I'm pretty lucky. At pushing-40, I still have three grandparents living. My NaNa passed away a little over two years ago. And I have to tell you that on the day she died, my NaNa and PaPa were still in love. He doted on her. He loved her like we can all hope to be loved at any point in our lives, especially when we're in our 80s.

So it was a little weird to see PaPa's "lady friend" at his birthday party on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with it. I'm glad he has a companion, someone he enjoys spending time with and who enjoys being with him. But after 30+ years (in my life) of "NaNa & PaPa," "PaPa & B.J." will take a bit of time to get used to.

She was nice enough, joking that they get along so well because neither of them can hear. And she was a very good sport when PaPa opened a racy birthday card signed "Love, B.J." that was actually slipped into the stack of cards by the family prankster (good one, Dad!).

But I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little sad. Seeing her sitting next to him at dinner, to his right as he opened his gifts made me miss my NaNa. Miss how she would refer to any infant as a "doll baby;" how she thought everyone except (ironically) Bill Clinton was a crook; how her arthritic fingers were awkwardly slanted and how they looked getting into her fanny pack to pay for Christmas presents on our annual shopping trip; and how she had more than her fair share of way-too-tight curly perms in her hair.

No, this lady is not my NaNa. I don't think even PaPa would argue that she is. What she is, though, is a soft landing for my grandfather who spent the better part of 60 years loving a woman so completely that he likely doesn't know how to live any other way. And for that, I'm grateful.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Acceptance

He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:37-39)

Shit happens. That may seem like a harsh thing to say following a verse of Scripture, but it's true. Stuff happens in our lives that makes us feel sorrow and distress. Some of it might be of our own doing. Some might be outside of our control.

But what we can control is how we respond to all that stuff. Jesus had some serious shit facing him. How much more serious can it get than death? And he was afraid. There he was in all his Godly humanness and he was still afraid. But he responded not by calling down 12 legions of angels. It was not his sword that cut off the slave's ear. He responded to the shit with acceptance.

On this Easter weekend, I'm trying to remember that. To understand that acceptance doesn't remove fear or turmoil or shit. Acceptance doesn't equal happiness. To accept a situation doesn't mean that we have to be happy about it. I guess it means that we acknowledge its presence in our lives and try to calmly, peacefully bear with it, do what we can to change it -- if there's anything to be done.

I'm feeling like I should say more on this topic. But I'm not sure what else to say, so I'll just accept that and allow you to contribute your own thoughts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On fat, fitness and food

I was deleting pictures from my phone last night and I came across this picture:

Fat Dress

Do you remember it? It's the fat dress.

Then I had Annie take a picture of me today:

April1me

I have to say that while I have a lot more work ahead of me (about 50 pounds worth), I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far.

Exercise is not only something I enjoy, but it's something that I'm finding sneaking it's way into my life even when I don't have my workout clothes on. At lunch on Tuesday, I went for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and ended up walking two miles!

And tomorrow, I'm going for a 2 mile run (ok, probably a 1/2 mile run and a 1-1/2 mile walk) with Jared the Subway guy. Well, me, Liz and a whole bunch of other people who will turn out for the Subway Fun Run. (Do you think I'll look nerdy if I run with a fanny pack? Where else am I going to stash my camera so I can grab a photo op with him?)

Liz and I are participating on behalf of the Fit City Moms Blog. We may even get a chance to ask Jared a few questions. I've got some rolling in my head, but will be happy to take any of yours with me, too.

Despite my weight loss and my new-found appreciation for exercise, don't think for a minute that I don't still struggle with food. I find it almost impossible to pass up sweets. My boss had the nerve, I mean was nice enough, to bring M&Ms to the office the other day. They were sitting there, open in a basket, all beckoning and beautiful in their Eastery colors. Of course the best way to deal with them, I decided, was to just get rid of them...by eating them fast! I didn't eat the whole basket (I didn't want to seem piggish), but I ate more than enough. Today, the M&Ms were gone, replaced by chocolate bunnies, Hershey's Special Dark bars and cookies! Ack!

If you need more proof that food still holds a certain allure for me, check out my last three posts on The Indiana Insider travel blog -- they're all about food! Onion rings, cupcakes and ice cream!

I think it's a battle I'll be waging until the day I die. I suppose as long as I lean heavily on the fitness and be smart about the food, then the fat will stay in check.