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Sunday, February 27, 2011

I am NOT the Biggest Loser

But I sure had fun trying to be.

Mike and I went to the Biggest Loser auditions in Indianapolis today. I wasn't sure what to expect, though I did have a slight hope that we might be picked for the show. Oh, how naive I was!

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We arrived at Indiana Live Casino, where the auditions were being held, at about 9:30am. The posted start time for auditions was 10am. I'd planned to be there shortly after 8, however, we got a late start and then had a wee bit of navigational difficulty (read: the casino wasn't where we thought we knew it was). We parked in the designated lot and climbed aboard a shuttle that would take us to the clubhouse where the auditions were to be held.

There were about a dozen of us on the shuttle bus, and except for one young girl who was there to cheer on her friend, I was probably the smallest person on board. When we got off the shuttle bus and loaded into the elevator that would take us the audition space, I held my breath a bit and tried not to mentally calculate the weight load we'd just crammed onto the elevator, but instead prayed we would not get stuck between floors.

Mike and I knew there would be a wait and we were prepared. We'd brought books and magazines, healthy snacks (carrots, pears, pretzels), a laptop -- though we found no wifi. But we weren't prepared for what greeted us when the elevator doors opened. In front of us were about 25 tables of 8, all full of people waiting for their shot. To our right was auditorium seating, probably containing another 200 or so Biggest Loser hopefuls. We were instructed to just wait in the entry area until seats became available.

Looking around, I realized there are different classifications of fat. There is attractive fat, those people who are pretty or handsome, who just also happen to be larger in size. There is sloppy fat. These are the people who wear t-shirts and sweats and who don't do themselves any favors with their dress. There is cuddly fat, which is generally reserved for those big teddy bear-type guys. Then there is what Mike calls "can't wipe your butt" fat -- the very desperately, morbidly obese whose size makes even walking (and other daily activities) difficult. And they were all there, everyone tied by a desire to make a change -- or at least to have their 15 minutes of fame. For the record, I think I fall somewhere in between attractive fat and sloppy fat. Maybe I'm a fifth category -- plain Jane fat.

After only about 30 minutes of waiting in the entry area, we were selected with 6 others to take a seat at one of the tables that had opened up as the previous inhabitants had been taken for their interview. Our table was #1. A good omen, I hoped!

Photobucket In addition to Mike and I, the others at the table included:
  • CJ, a father of 2 with one on the way from northwest Indiana. This was his 3rd audition, including one in Chicago last weekend. Ironically, he doesn't watch the show.
  • Krystal, a 23-year-old from Michigan who auditioned in Chicago last year. She was accompanied by her mom who was there for moral support. 
  • Melissa and Jennifer, two friends from Cincinnati who were also BL audition newbies.
  • Jamie, a father of an adorable 22-month-old son, who lives in southwest Indiana.
  • Danielle, a beautiful African-American woman who was rocking some largely dangling earrings that I would not have even attempted.
We were encouraged to get to know each other. The BL staffers said that in several instances, contestant-wanna-bes who met at the auditions formed friendships (some even found love) that extended beyond the audition. In fact, this season's Courtney (who is from Valparaiso, Indiana) auditioned several times and formed an e-support group with some of the people from one of the audition sites. It was that group which helped encourage her to lose 100 pounds before she even was selected for the show.

Our table was friendly and chatty, but we didn't exchange e-mails or other information. I passed the time by updating my personal and 4th Frog Facebook pages with news about and photos from the auditions. My first post read:

Oh my gosh! It is a fraternity of fat here at the Biggest Loser auditions. And let's just say, I feel skinny right about now.

Thank you so much to those of you who posted messages of encouragement. I really appreciated them.

Annie, who was at home with the boys, requested photos. I felt a little weird about taking pictures of people I didn't know, so I captured this one for her because the gals in the picture didn't know that I was snapping a pic of them:
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Shortly after we were seated at the table, we were given brief, 1-page applications to fill out. (Hint if you plan to attend a casting call: you don't need to fill out the 15-page app that's available online. That's only for mail-ins or call-backs.) I was number 504 and Mike was number 505.

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PhotobucketThen it was more waiting. At our table, we talked about why we wanted to be on the show, what trainers we would choose to work out with if we had a choice (Bob & Jillian for me), and what foods would be hard for us to pass up during a temptation challenge. The responses to that included sweets, hot wings, bread, teriyaki wings with blue cheese, spaghetti, rib eye, pizza (Mike's) and ice cream (that was mine). By the end of that conversation, I was starving! Good thing I'd packed my pear.

Somewhere around 11:30 or noon, a member of the Biggest Loser staff came by our table to tell us that they were up to number 400. Always wanting to know people's stories, I asked if he was a part of the regular staff or if he was just working the Indy audition. He was a local guy helping out just for this audition. I don't remember how I did it, but I asked him if I could put on his Biggest Loser staff badge for a quick picture. He agreed, half-heartedly. Of course, I took the opportunity and looped the lanyard around my neck while Mike snapped the picture. The staffer was a little uncomfortable -- he probably thought I was going to get him fired -- and he drew the line at letting me pass the badge around the table so everyone could rub it for good luck.

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There's no way I could have been mistaken for a real BL staffer -- they were all tiny, wispy people. But it was fun to pretend for a bit.

A little while later, the same guy came back to let us know they were up to number 475 and to brief us on how the interview would happen. (Although CJ and Krystal had already filled us in on how the interviews were conducted in other cities.)

We would be seated as a group of 12 in a U-shape in front of 1 casting director who would ask us to introduce ourselves. Then there might be one other question. The whole interview would last 7 minutes.

"Great," I thought. "I have less than 60 seconds to convince them that I'm fat AND sparkling."

After that I started to get pretty nervous. I think Mike, CJ and Jamie did too, because they got really chatty. I just wanted everyone to be quiet so I could run through in my head what I wanted to say. I was only mildly successful.

Photobucket Soon enough, we were taken from our table to a hallway just outside the interview room, where we waited for about 15 or 20 minutes. During that wait, Mike recognized someone we'd gone to college with. What a small (or in this case, large) world! Steve had a VIP pass for the auditions because he'd auditioned in years past in Louisville, Columbus and Chicago. Apparently, they call some of the previous applicants who weren't selected and encourage them to attend another casting call.

Anyway, catching up with Steve helped to pass the time and around 1:15pm, we were in the interview room.

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Just as we'd been told, we were asked to introduce ourselves -- Mike cracked a few jokes during his introduction and I tossed out that being married with three kids is a whole lot like having four kids. Then we each had about 15 seconds to answer the question, "What is something about you that I wouldn't know by looking at you." For about 75 seconds, I sweated it out trying to figure out what the heck to say. When the interviewer got to me, I said "I'm a survivor of post-partum dpression."

Seriously? That's what I had? I knew it was dumb as soon as it was out of my mouth. On the way home, I thought of at least 3 better responses. But it was too little, too late.

On the way home, Mike and I talked about the auditions. We both agreed we were glad we'd done it, though he said he really went for me and I said I really went for him.

We would have received a phone call by 8pm letting us know we'd been selected for call-backs. The phones remained silent. We'll probably submit a home video as further application, but I don't really see myself driving all over God's green earth to audition in other cities.

I really hope Steve or CJ or Danielle make the call-backs. It would be so cool to see someone we auditioned with actually make the show.

As for Mike and I, we talked about the fact that if spending 5 hours to audition for the Biggest Loser was important enough to us, then we need to get serious about putting just as much importance on making some changes in our health. With or without the Biggest Loser.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fragments of wisdom

Mommy's Idea

You know what the great thing about the internet is? I mean besides Facebook Scrabble and the ability to buy endless quantities of stuff you don't need without leaving the couch. It's that there is a plethora of wit and wisdom floating out there just waiting to copied, pasted, forwarded to friends, printed out and hung on the refrigerator.

Here are some of the tidbits that I've been happy to come across lately:
"What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  -- That one is from my friend Ann, who tells her kids to "be a blessing." 

"When your passion and purpose is greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way." -- I'm not sure who originally said this, but one of my Facebook friends posted it today. Maybe she was the one who said it first? I'm not sure, but on a day when I had plenty of reasons why I couldn't go to the gym, it was one I needed to hear.

"Taking out the garbage is not a chore. It's being an adult." -- or a member of the family. By author Jon Acuff  

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Harry Thurman. I'm not sure how I came across this one, but it made me think of Annie right away. In fact, I think she's using it at her 8th grade quote in the yearbook.

"I am about to take a restraining order out on winter. I think it is stalking me." -- @crisgoode on Twitter. This one isn't so much wise as it is funny. And laughter is good for the soul...so maybe there is some wisdom there.

What pieces of wisdom have you found online lately? Here's some wise advice -- head over to Mrs. 4444's place for more Friday Fragments!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So happy to be Loopy

Do you have friends you've never met? People whom you've become acquainted with via an internet community or blog or Facebook? Do you refer to them as "my friends Sue and Jane," even though you've never once breathed the same air as Sue and Jane?

I sure do. My oldest group of friends I've never met is a group of women who all "hung out" together on the January/February/March 1997 expecting message board on Parent Soup on America Online. How ancient does that make us seem? There's a cattle rancher, a firefighter's wife, a hairstylist, a nurse practitioner, a teacher. There are quiet women and women who could take on a truck driver and win (Cindy-girl, I'm talking about you!).

I've known these women for nearly 15 years, yet I've only me two of them in person. But I can tell you how many children they have (ranges from 1 to 9), what celebrity crushes they have, what their husbands' names are. We've gone through pregnancies, miscarriages, teething, potty training, illness, death, graduations and other life events together. I'm sure menopause is around the corner.

When our babies turned 1 year old, Parent Soup tried to make us migrate to the "Wonderful Ones" board, but we wouldn't hear of it. (Oh to have those kind of troubles today.) So we started an e-mail loop. We just e-mailed back and forth and copied all 15 or 16 of us on every e-mail. For a while, we met in an online chat room on Tuesday nights. Then life got busy and the e-mails came less frequently. But we still stuck together.

We're about 7 or 8 strong still and, thanks to Facebook, have experienced a resurgence in our connection.Our "babies" are turning 14 and our conversation is less about the kids as it is about us. I hope someday to meet up in person with all of the Loopy Moms.

But if I don't? I'll still talk about my friends from California, New Hampshire, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii.

Love you, Loopy Moms! You are all close to my heart.


For more Pour Your Heart Out posts, click the image above.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fat, selfish, co-dependent psychobabble?

 
As we were watching The Biggest Loser tonight, I was formulating in my head my blog post about this week's episode. But I couldn't think very clearly because Mike was vociferously airing his opinion about what happened during the weigh-in. Three members of the black team purposefully gained weight to ensure that their children would not fall below the line and be sent home. Seeing that he was so animated about their decision, I invited him to guest post tonight. 
 
Before you read Mike's take on the show, know that the opinion expressed below is not the opinion of this blogger, but I respect his right to think differently. And because he felt so strongly, I left his "colorful" language intact.

So without further ado, the peanut butter to my chocolate, the chips to my salsa, the milk to my Girl Scout cookies, my huzzzband Mike:
 
I watch the Biggest Loser with Amy almost every week. I don't blog about it, but Amy will tell you I have my opinions and willfully share them like an unwanted heckler at a comedy show.

But tonight's episode of BL made me think NBC changed the name to "The Biggest Gainer! Plus eight pounds to "stop the cycle of emotional eating" for your daughter? COME ON!  You are actually hurting two people -- yourself and your daughter. BL viewers and 4th Frog readers who aren't fat: if you want to to see the inner-workings of a fat, codependent family - it was on display tonight.

There were millions watching who DO NOT want to piss their opportunity away by guzzling water before weigh in. It's just selfish psychobabble and co-dependent scheming like this that got them fat in the first place.

What kind of example is that to set for your daughter? And how twisted is it to only hurt yourself in the process?

I actually plan on applying for the Biggest Loser and, if I am accepted, I am gonna kick butt if the new strategy is "To Gain and Protect." Play your games, mom - while I leave a trail of scorched fat behind me. If I am given the opportunity to win $250,000 AND change my eating habits;  I'm not gonna take a trial run and hope I get on again next season. I am going to bust MY ass and enjoy waving goodbye as my loose skin flops under my forearms.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whateveryacallit

Pop. Soda. Soft drinks. Whatever you call those fizzy pours of sweetness, do you let your kids drink it? Read my latest post at the Fit City Moms blog and record your opinion there.

Sock issues

About a month ago, I was at my gym doing a video shoot for IN Shape Indiana. I told Jason, whom I've come to regard as my own personal camera guy, to be sure to get a shot of my feet because I was actually wearing matching socks. The marketing gal from the gym looked at me like I was crazy. Clearly, she does not have sock issues.

I, on the other hand, have sock issues. In theory, I love socks, especially the fun ones. In practice, socks do not love me. Socks in our house get thrown into a basket...which is currently about two baskets...and only get matched about once a year when I'm in the mood for a Netflix movie marathon.

In the mornings when the kids say, "Mom, I need socks," I cringe. I hate hearing that because the likelihood that they will find socks that a.) match, b.) fit and c.) don't have holes in them is about as high as the likelihood that I will be crowned Miss America tomorrow. To their credit, the kids have learned to roll with the sock punches. They grab two socks that are "close enough," though I do draw the line at Robbie wearing Mike's socks. Annie even makes it part of her personal style, often choosing two mismatched, but complementary socks.

I have thrown out all the socks in the house and started over with brand news socks, only to end up with mismatched basketsful again.

Mike is not immune to the complications of hosiery. He is notorious for snagging a pair or two of his dad's socks every time we go visit his parents (though I think now he does it just to egg his dad on a bit). For his 30th birthday, I asked people to bring 30 of something. His dad brought him 30 black socks.

Given all that, when I opened my e-mail and saw this deal from Eversave, I had to laugh:


I am SO buying this one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Here we go again

A few weeks ago, my college buddy Amy wrote a post on her blog titled "I Don't Care What You Call It." The subject of the post was unemployment. I remember thinking at the time, "thank God that is not us any more." Apparently, I thought too soon.

Mike was laid off on Friday. We were both caught pretty off guard by this. He said his boss was very apologetic, though Mike knew that his position was kind of an experiment -- one which maybe never had complete buy-in from the owner of the company. Initially, we both had a fairly non-chalant reaction to the news. We've been here before. We can do this.

Separately, we've both considered what the blessings might be in this turn of events. Mike will be free to spend more time with his mother, whose condition continues to deteriorate. Maybe this was the window opening to make it possible for him to go to the Biggest Loser ranch (auditions are next Saturday). He can focus on the house and purging all the clutter that has collected over the past 13 years since we moved in. There will be no question of who is available to pick the kids up from school.

Over the course of the weekend, Mike has cycled through a range of emotions -- disbelief, hope, anger, frustration, sadness -- while I remained pretty stoic.

Until church this morning. I think church is the place where I can let my guard down. Where I bring myself before God and let all my anxiety and fear and confusion tumble forward.

This morning, my conversation with God went something like this:

"What is it? What haven't we learned yet? The past 4 or 5 years have seemed like we are swinging from one crisis to the next. Unemployment. Separation. Illness. Financial strain brought on by all the above. What now, God? In the last two or three months, I've finally felt like we were becoming whole again. Paying off debt, learning to trust and love again, enjoying each other's company. What the hell are we missing that our path keeps plunging us into chaos and disarray? What do You want?!"

Truthfully, I'm not blaming God. I don't think He has cursed us. But I do wonder what lesson we are supposed to embrace. I wish I could find it in that daily "God wants you to know" app on Facebook. Sitting in church, I heard Father talk about St. Francis and how after his conversion to the Lord, he was elated and joyful to be suffering in the service of God. And I began to think that perhaps my answer is somewhere in there.

Maybe our focus has been too internal. Perhaps we've been too focused on our own crosses and not doing enough to help others carry theirs. Is the clutter and chaos inside our home a symptom of too much time spent within -- on clinging to things inside? Will freeing our home of the trappings of wants and freeing our minds of the trappings of "us and ours" bring to life a new reality for us?

Perhaps a shift in focus like that won't bring Mike a job any sooner. But it just might make the waiting a little more bearable. 

Awake and unmedicated

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and commiserations regarding my insomniac ways. Several of you suggested pharmaceutical intervention, which reminded me of the one and only time I've ever taken drugs to help me sleep. It seemed like a good story to share here.

The year was 1999. Annie was a little over 2-1/2 years old. Charlie was a baby, about 2 months old. I had wicked and severe postpartum depression. Postpartum OCD, to be exact. It was, without exaggeration, the worst time of my life.

My ob-gyn had referred me to a post-partum depression counselor, a woman named Birdie to whom I will forever be indebted. Anyway, Birdie and the ob-gyn decided that I should see a psychiatrist who could prescribe me some medication. He turned out to be the worst psychiatrist ever to be given a license. I asked him what kind of experience he had working with postpartum depression. His answer? His wife had given birth to 4 kids. Jerk.

Then he tried to tell me that everything I was experiencing was just a fabrication because I'm a writer and so I was just concocting these scenarios in my head. A-hole. Fine. Whatever buddy, just give me the prescriptions and I'll be on my pitiful way.

He prescribed me an antidepressant and Ambien, a drug that would help me sleep. I had been barely surviving on about 1 to 2 hours of sleep each night (even though Charlie was sleeping in 5 or 6 hours stretches at that point) and he felt, and Birdie agreed, that getting more sleep would go a long way in helping my psyche.

That same day, we went to my in-laws for the weekend. We hadn't told them anything about the struggles I was having, but planned to let them know I wasn't feeling well and would be spending most of the weekend resting. That evening, I took out the bottle of Ambien. The instructions said "take one tablet one hour before bedtime." Perfect. I could take one, read Annie a story, say prayers and tuck her into bed and get in bed myself while I waited for the Ambien to kick in.

Well it would have been perfect. Except that within five minutes of taking the Ambien, I was slurring my words and stumbling in the hallway. Mike freaked out, thinking that I had overdosed. He called Birdie, convinced that I was trying to off myself with Ambien. Apparently -- because I don't remember anything after the hallway -- I got on the phone with Birdie and assured her that I had only taken one Ambien and I wasn't trying to kill myself.

And that, my friends, is the first and last time I've ever taken drugs to help me sleep.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Things I think about when I should be sleeping

I'm not a great sleeper. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that. Maybe you're even tired of hearing about it. If so, just put your hands over your eyes.

I went to bed around 1am. That should be late enough to be tired, right? I think I was tired. But someone forgot to tell my brain that it was time to go to bed. My brain wanted to run and roll and flip over thoughts such as:
  1. How much the bedrooms all need to be cleaned in the morning.
  2. What we're going to do with the kids while I work this summer. 
  3. BINGO - as in Scrabble. I see tiles in my head and with my mind's eye, shuffle through them to try to find a 7-letter word.
  4. How tired I'm going to be in the morning because I'm only going to get 5 hours of sleep...4 hours and 53 minutes...4 hours and 47 minutes...
  5. How I'm too hot and should go downstairs and check the thermostat.
  6. How I should get up and go through coupons for the much needed grocery trip tomorrow.
  7. How I wonder if anyone is on Facebook right now.
Eventually, my brain gave up and my body won. Until the dog came in and licked my face. I thought she needed to go out, so I got up and headed downstairs, expecting her to follow. Instead, she took my spot in the bed. Whose idea was it to get this dog?

It turns out I'm not the only one awake at 4:30am. Mike was downstairs watching television. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Now that's enough to put me to sleep.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

4th Frog goes to the Statehouse

Yesterday, I had the chance to participate in a mommy bloggers roundtable discussion with the lieutenant governor of Indiana, Becky Skillman. The meeting was held in the lieutenant governor's office at the Indiana Statehouse. 

I was a little unsure of the purpose for the meeting. Skillman has already announced that she is not running for governor. There was no agenda set for the meeting, though we were invited to submit questions prior to the meeting.
I arrived a bit early for the meeting, so I took a little time to wander. This is the stained glass window that hangs over the rotunda:

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The legislature was in session, so the Statehouse was buzzing. There's are viewing windows where you can watch testimony and votes taking place in the House and Senate chambers. In this picture, someone was testifying to their opposition to a bill that would allow parents to have vouchers to put their kids in private schools. I wonder if it's disheartening to testify to a half-empty room and to have a lot of the people who are in the room not even paying attention to you:
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It was pretty easy to spot the mommy bloggers who were also there for the roundtable. We were the only women in the statehouse not wearing suits. I got a little reality check when we were introducing ourselves to each other. No one said, "Oh! So YOU'RE 4th Frog! I love your blog!" But I didn't recognize too many other bloggers, either. Wonder if any of them had overestimated their own "fame" as I had?

Once we were in the lieutenant governor's office, Becky Skillman greeted us and pretty much said this would be an open forum where we could ask whatever we wanted. We introduced ourselves and our blogs again and then Becky asked if we minded if she slip into her comfortable shoes. I loved that! Her pose here reminds me of the charm school scene from "A League of Their Own" (filmed on location in southern Indiana!).

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I was fascinated by the number of mommy bloggers who were there who are family farmers. Several of them have other "day" jobs as well. I'm definitely going to be checking out those blogs. Who knows, maybe one day I'll visit one of them and do a bloggy series: 4th Frog goes to the Farm.

So what do mommy bloggers and the lieutenant governor of Indiana talk about? The economy. Cell reception and internet availability in rural areas -- there are serious safety concerns, people. It's not just about Facebook withdrawal. How Indiana could lead national sustainable farming efforts. How political bi-partisanship can disillusion voters to the point of non-participation.
But if you really want to get a group of women riled up, start talking about the food served in their children's schools. Hoo boy! That's one that could have gone on for days.

We only had an hour with the lieutenant governor. I know she was thanking her staffers that it wasn't any longer than that. But she was genuinely gracious. She admitted when she didn't know the answer to something. (Only one question about the Indianapolis's internet infrastructure's ability to handle the 2012 Super Bowl crowd stumped her.) She was gracious and, I thought, very genuine. She did, as one of my co-workers mentioned before I left for the roundtable, have perfectly coiffed hair. 

Before we dispersed, we all took a photo with Becky (I guess we're on a first name basis now, even if she does have to read my name tag) on the stairs outside her office. 

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Looking at all of us gathered there, I did have to ask myself if blogging is a Caucasian phenomenon? Surely Indiana has some mommy bloggers of color and various ethnicities out there? Perhaps we'll get to meet some of them at the next roundtable. 

And I do hope there is a next roundtable. Though I'm still not sure what the lieutenant governor's office hoped to accomplish, I had a great time and I'm glad I had the opportunity to be included.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So the priest was right

Mike and I got married over 17 years ago. I still remember the message the priest, Fr. T, gave us in his homily. He said that the key to a successful marriage is "communication, communication, communication."

Well, he said a lot more than that, but it all boiled down to "communication, communication, communication," which he repeated several times. Good strategy because I still remember it after all these years. Remembering it and practicing it, however, are two very different things.

Over the course of our marriage, there have been times when we've been very good about talking to each other. And there have been times when the opposite has been true...including somewhat recently.

I'm pretty sure if we'd followed Fr. T's "communication, communication, communication" admonition, we might have known what the other was doing. And we might not have ended up ordering 20 boxes of Girl Scout cookies!

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(This is only about half of our purchases.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day assortment


Days like Valentine's Day can mean big pressure on a blogger to deliver something good. For my part, I'm offering a Valentine's Day assortment of thoughts, links and quotes that seem (at least to me) to fit the occasion.

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“In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.” -- Robert Anderson, American economist, 1861-1939

Amen to that.

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This video, called Family Man, is making its way around Facebook. I can't think of a better love note from a husband and father to his family:





"Family Man" from Trevor Little on Vimeo.


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You know that stellar Valentine's post I hinted at? In my opinion, it's over at the 4tunate blog, where Jen lays out "What your husband REALLY wants for Valentine's Day." Never fear (or get your hopes up)...it's family-friendly.

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This year, Hallmark's Valentine's Day marketing schtick is that the day is "for saying I love us." Two thumbs up! I love us -- as husband and wife, as family, as best friends, as sisters. I think it's the focus on a relationship that appeals to me, instead of a stalkerish or even mildly awkward "I love you" to someone who may or may not feel the same.

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Remember that pop art I shared before Christmas? The grocery store came through again!


A special thanks to my husband Mike who stopped at the grocery store tonight just to snap this picture so I could include it in this post. My Valentine's gift to him? An appointment for a $49 heart scan at the local hospital. 

Happy Valentine's Day friends.

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Roots and wings

There's a saying that you've probably seen on some cheesy wooden plaque at Cracker Barrel that goes, "Our parents give us two things. The first is roots, the other wings." I'm having a roots and wings kind of moment today. Except that I'm feeling one different sentiment for two different people.

Today is February 13. The date upon which Annie and Robbie made their entrances into the world -- in 1997 and 2003, respectively. So today they are turning 14 and 8 and I am left completely believing the cliche that they grow up so fast.

Bday kids

It's for Annie that I'm feeling the exhilaration of wings.

I am just marveling at the person she is becoming. She has found her niche in art and theater. She's off to high school in the fall. She cares for other people's children -- and her brothers -- so well that I sometimes forget she is really still a young girl herself. She is far more confident in herself than I was at her age. She's also stubborn and mouthy at times; I mean she IS a teenage girl. I find myself wanting give her space to enjoy this time in her life, to stretch her wings and figure out where it is she wants to fly and how it feels to do that.

Then there's Robbie. He has me clinging to roots.

Before we had a "baby of the family," I always thought it was ridiculous that parents seemed to treat the youngest of the bunch with so much ease and tolerance. But now I find myself fighting an internal struggle to stay firm and keep my expectations high. Annie and Charlie will tell you that I'm failing. I can't help it. He IS my baby. I secretly love that he climbs in bed with us in the middle of the night. I melt when he comes to me and asks if I will cuddle with him on the couch in front of a movie. So he doesn't tie his own shoes or ride a two-wheeler, yet. That means that he still needs me.

Yes, I am proud of the roots that we've helped Annie dig deep into the soil of who she is. And I do find joy in the wings of independence that Robbie is testing little by little. But mostly, I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here for the ride.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Career advice from a 14-year-old

We were talking about places the kids can work when they get a little older. I told them they were lucky to have so many places near us where they could get a job.

“You could work at Target or Marsh or Subway…” I offered.

“I’m gonna work at a video game store,” said Charlie.

“But, you could a bag boy at the grocery," I said. "That would be a great job for you. You get to move around and go outside all day.”

“Nope,” Charlie insisted. “I’m gonna work at a video game store.”

Which is when Annie chimed in.

“Charlie, at least at the grocery store you could meet girls. At the video game store, you’ll only meet geeks.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

911 Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Ok, I promise that this will be the last of the posts having to do with my little adventure on Tuesday. But I still have random thoughts tied to the experience and thought what better way to use 'em up than in a Friday Fragments post.

On hospital food: After I got settled into my room in the cardiac observation unit, the nurse told me if I was hungry I could just pick up the phone and order room service. Given that my usual response to stress is to eat and that I hadn't eaten anything for about 6 hours, I thought that sounded like a great idea. Imagine my disappointment to find that chocolate frosted chocolate cupcakes were not on the heart-healthy menu in front of me! But I could have all the low-sodium chicken noodle soup, sugar-free gelatin and Diet Pepsi (ugh! Sorry, Uncle Bill) I wanted.

On faith: The hospital I went to was one I've been boycotting because of some bad experiences we've had there in the past, even though it is a Catholic hospital and I like to keep my emergencies within the flock. However, it was the closest one to the kids' school and given that I thought I might be dying or at least having a heart attack, I decided to let bygones be bygones. One of the first things I noticed in the observation room was a crucifix over the door. I was immediately washed over with a sense of comfort and peace. I knew I was in the right place. And for the record, the care I received was excellent.

On cutting the cord: One of the toughest parts of the experience was to be without my laptop for 12+ hours. God bless Mike for bringing it to me at 9:30pm. In the absence of the laptop, I made do with Facebooking and texting from my cell phone. Yesterday, catching up on e-mails from work, I read one from my boss to all our staff that said "Amy is making up for not having a laptop by texting six times as usual." Seriously, if I was without my laptop and my smartphone for that long, I think I'd have a coronary for real.

On potassium: My friend Beth is a dietitian. I was telling her that I didn't know how my potassium could be low because I'd had a banana for breakfast on Tuesday morning. She said that bananas don't really have has much potassium as people think. (Sorry Chiquita banana lady.) In fact, she said for potassium, you'd be better off eating a whole fresh orange. Who knew?

On with the show: When I got home on Wednesday, I did lay down to take a nap. But once the boys came home from school, it was business as usual. Mike and the kids did a good job of picking up the house while I was gone,  (I should be hospitalized more often!) but I loaded the breakfast dishes that were waiting there, went to school to pick Annie up from play practice, met up with my favorite camera dude at the grocery store on the corner to shoot another IN Shape Indiana segment, then went to the grocery store. When the doctor said I could resume my normal activities, I don't think he knew what I was in for.

On grocery stores and milk: I still have more Nature's Dairy milk coupons for you Central Indiana people. 

Thanks once again to Mrs. 4444s for hosting today's Friday Fragments. That's one thing that's always good for the heart. And if Friday Fragments don't give you enough of a lift going into the weekend, check out the great links on Boost My Blog Friday at Design it Chic:

BoostMyBlogFriday

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The rest of the story

I uploaded my last post at 4:30am yesterday from my room in the cardiac observation unit. I never did get back to sleep. I tried, but all I could do was toss and turn and go from being too hot to being too cold.

I turned on the television and found that there was a "relaxation" channel available. You could choose from relaxing music, calming scenes or guided imagery. I decided guided imagery might be a good option, thinking it would give me a chance to settle down and maybe do a little praying. Unfortunately, the program wouldn't load. So I opted to check out the movie channel instead.

"Up in the Air" with George Clooney was one of the choices. I hadn't seen it yet and decided that watching George for a few hours might be just as relaxing as guided imagery. Good plan, if the movie had not been the most depressing movie in the history of forever.

Shortly after the movie was over, the morning shift tech came in to take my temperature, blood pressure, etc. Then the doc arrived to let me know that the stress echo was scheduled first thing and by about 8am, I was in the treadmill room. In case you've never had the privilege, let me just share that the prep for a stress echo allows for about as much modesty as childbirth, except it's not your hooha that's on display. I just looked straight ahead and tried not to think about the fact that my girls were just hanging out there. The nurse and the echo ultrasound tech were both friendly and very professional. Once all the leads and wires were set, I could cover up again.

If you have personal space issues, you should take care of yourself so you're never lying on your left side on a table with an ultrasound tech literally draped over you. After the initial pictures of my heart were captured, the cardiologist came in, reviewed them and said we were a go for the treadmill. I walked on the treadmill at a slight incline for 6 minutes. Starting out, I was all chatty. After about two minutes, there was no more chatting because I was trying to conserve my oxygen for simply breathing. The cardiologist stood there during the test and said the EKG was looking good.

He also offered that I look much better in person than I do on paper. I guess that's a good thing, right? After 6 minutes, when I was breathless and sweaty, they quick stopped the treadmill. I dropped right onto the table and the ultrasound of my heart was repeated. Then it was back to my room to wait for the results.

As I anticipated, the results came back and everything was good. Of course I was happy about that, but a little frustrated that I'd spent 24 hours and who knows how much money to figure that out.

So what happened? It's likely that I was dehydrated, which caused the low potassium. My blood pressure was low and that started the blacking out that kicked off the whole episode. In hindsight, I feel kind of stupid for all the drama. But if the outcome of the test had been different, I would have felt justified. Since I don't have a crystal ball, I'll stick with the better safe than sorry line of thinking.

And hopefully, that's where the drama ends.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A not so funny thing happened on the way to the office yesterday


Yesterday started out to be a pretty good day. The kids were ready for school early. Mike and I met at the gym and brisk-walked laps for about 45 minutes. I exchanged friendly chatter with the older ladies in the locker room. Took my shower. Got dressed for work. And then...

I was blow drying my hair when everything started to go black. I was able to jerk myself awake and sat down on a chair. Pretty woozy, I looked at the phone to call the front desk, but decided against it. After a few minutes, I got home and walked to the lobby of the gym. Feeling a little "starry" and not real steady, I sat down in the lobby for a few minutes waiting for the feeling to pass.

I got up and made it to the car, where I weighed my options. a.) Call Mike. b.) Call 911. c.) Go back inside and ask for help. d.) Or drive to the kids' school (about 5 minutes away) to see if the school nurse could take my blood pressure.

Gold star for you if you guessed that I chose option D.

About 1 block after I left the gym, I started feeling some chest pressure. I'm an expert heartburn-haver and this was not heartburn. But I was determined not to panic. I took a few deep breaths and was glad to see that I still could. No pain in my arms -- good. No jaw pain -- good. But the further I drove, the more the pressure settled on my chest. About two blocks away from the school, I started feeling woozier and blackish again. Then I couldn't breathe.

I'm pretty sure an angel drove me safely into the parking lot because I don't remember much of it. I grabbed my cell phone, hit the school # on speed dial, punched in 7 for the nurse's extension and barely got out, "This is Amy Magan. I'm in the parking lot and I can't breathe."

I left everything in the car and started to walk toward the building. The nurse and someone else helped me inside. My friend Lisa called 911. It seems there were quite a few people around. What I remember most is looking down at my shoes -- I was wearing pink and white tennis shoes with my black corduroy pants because I forgot my black shoes at home -- and thinking, "I must look so dorky wearing these shoes."

The paramedics arrived. My blood pressure was a little low. They gave me the option of going with them or going to the hospital on my own. I decided to go on my own, though my plan was really to just go home and call my family doctor. That is, until I started feeling like I was going to pass out again. I accepted a lift from the paramedics.

A few thoughts came to mind as I was in the ambulance in they were starting an IV, taking my blood sugar, and doing who knows what else. First, I hoped this was not a repeat pulmonary embolism. Second, I was glad that I'd shaved my legs. Third, how much is all this gonna cost?

We arrived at the ER, where I decided that they should really paint the ambulance bay some bright and cheery colors. It's concrete gray. If I were dying, that is not the last thing I would have wanted to see.

Anyway, fast forward to the part where I wasn't dying. I didn't have a blood clot in my lung, and the cardiologist said I'd earned the privilege of staying for observation overnight with a stress test to be done in the morning. Ironically, my overnight stay caused me to miss a Go Red for Women luncheon committee meeting at the American Heart Association.


Now for the public service announcement: February is heart month. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. If you haven't had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked in a long time, call today to schedule an appointment. If you're supposed to be following a restricted diet and taking medication, do it. And for God's sake, if you feel chest pain/pressure, shortness of breath or any other symptom that seems it might impede your ability to keep on living, call 911. Do not get in the car and drive.

I'm sure that everything will turn out ok for me. My potassium was a bit low. Some mild concern about one of my cardiac enzymes, though that seems to have resolved itself. I'm scheduled for a stress echo this morning and will hopefully be on my way home shortly after.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Milk money

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See this kid? His name is Robbie and he is a milk-aholic. He probably drinks at least a gallon of milk by himself every week. There are worse things to be addicted to. (I know, I know...Diet Coke)


I'm not especially particular about the milk I buy. Usually the store brand skim. But there are plenty of more informed consumers who are picky about the milk they serve at home. If you're one of them and you live in Central Indiana, listen up.


Nature's Farm is a dairy located in West Lafayette, Indiana. If you're into the slow food/local food movement, you might want to check out Nature's Farm. Nature's Farm employs small Indiana farms to raise dairy cows using a special feeding system that increases the amount of Omega-3 and CLA fatty acids -- reportedly good for human heart and brain health -- that the cows produce. No hormones are added to the milk either. 


The result is healthy, tasty milk that is hormone and additive free produced right here in the Hoosier state. 


The 4th Frog Blog is definitely not a coupon or deal finders website. However, Nature's Farm sent me some certificates to try their milk for free. Whole milk, 2%, 1% and skim are sold by the half-gallon at 16 Marsh stores (see below) and a handful of other supermarkets. As you might expect, Nature's Farm milk is more pricey than the store brand. The price at Marsh was $3.99/half gallon -- though it was on sale 2/$4 today.


Seem a little steep? Keep reading...


I served the Nature's Farm skim milk tonight at dinner. Annie mentioned that she thought it smelled different, though I didn't notice it. The boys didn't say anything -- except Charlie who asked for more because he had chugged his glass before I'd finished pouring everyone else's. 


In addition to the free milk certificates (good for 2.5 gallons) I received, Nature's Farm also sent me beacoup de coupons to share. If you live in Central Indiana and would like to try Nature's Farm milk, I have $2 off and $1 off coupons to distribute. Here's how you can get yours:

  1. Follow me on this blog or like the 4th Frog Facebook page
  2. Send an e-mail to me -- 4thFrog70 at gmail dot com -- letting me know you want some Nature's Farm coupons. I'll give you an address where you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  3. Send your SASE to me and I'll send back your coupons. 
I won't record or keep your address. I'll just drop the coupons in your envelope and send them on to you. I'll send at least $3 worth of coupons, maybe more depending on the response. The first 20 people who respond get the coupons. I should get more coupons next month, so I can send them to anyone who doesn't get them this month. 



Marsh stores that carry Nature's Farm milk:
2904 S. St. Rd. 135
Greenwood, IN 46143


320 N. New Jersey
Indianapolis, IN 46204



6965 W. 38th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46254



843 E Main St
Brownsburg, IN 46112



5830 W. 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46278



1435 W. 86th St
Indianapolis, In 46260



2350 Broad Ripple Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220



2140 E. 116th Street
Carmel, In 46032



12520 116 Th St
Fishers, IN 46038



11625 Fox Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46236



715 S. Tillotson
Muncie, IN 47304



1500 W. McGalliard
Muncie, IN 47304



208 E Southway Blvd
Kokomo, In 46902



2250 Teal Rd
Lafayette, In 47905



2410 North Salisbury Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906



3825 State Road 26 E.
Lafayette, IN 47905

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super loser, a haiku


Super Bowl is on.
I really don't care who wins.
Bed and book for me.

Best hot chocolate ever

Today we got about 5 inches of snow on top of our 3 inches of ice. The kids on the street showed up bright and early to sled down our little hill again, but first they had to shovel paths in the snow to expose the ice. How dare that snow attempt to slow them down?!

Those kids were out there for hours. Honestly. And I felt bad that I didn't have any hot chocolate mix that I could use to make them warm drinks. Enter the internet. One quick search on Swagbucks, and I had a recipe for homemade hot chocolate.

It was simple enough:

 Homemade Hot Chocolate

1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. water
1/2 gallon milk
Marshmallows (optional)
 
In a 10-quart kettle combine cocoa, sugar, and water. Stir until heated (slow boil); add milk. Heat until steaming. Add the vanilla just before serving. Top with whipping cream or marshmallows. Serves 10-12.
 
I don't own a kettle, so I just used a big pot. And I didn't have vanilla. So I went back to the computer and found that I could substitute maple syrup for the vanilla. Who knew? Also, no marshmallows or whipped cream. We've been housebound for days -- we're just about out of everything.
When I called the kids to come to the back porch for hot chocolate, they were thrilled, despite the lack of marshmallows. They all took one sip and asked for...an ice cube! I had to laugh. They were standing in snow up to their knees, covered with snow from their fuzzy hats to their stomping boots, but they wanted ice. 

They also wanted to come in from the cold, understandably. So they came in, I put coats, hats, gloves and sweatshirts in the dryer to a.) dry and b.) warm up and they sat at the kitchen table drinking my homemade hot chocolate. 
 
I knew the recipe was a winner when one of the kids said, "This is the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. It's way better than any packet!"

Ten minutes later, the coats were out of the dryer and back on, the kids were back outside, and I was enjoying my unofficial title as "the cool mom." As it should be.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Regis Philbin's next gig

regiss Pictures, Images and Photos 

Since I've gone back to work (5-1/2 years ago), I don't watch much daytime TV. But occasionally I'll catch The Regis and Kelly Show. Driving to work the other day, I heard that Reg is planning to retire. Not sure when, but it's coming.

The radio DJs were saying Regis is stepping down because of contract disputes. You've got a zillion dollars, Regis. What more do you want?

Anyway, I digress. I think Regis has another reason for leaving his mid-morning talk show. I'm pretty sure he's going into medicine. And the evidence is right along I-65 South in downtown Indianapolis. It's on an extra-large banner announcing the new name of a hospital system.

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There you have it. Regis Philbin is going to be a doctor. Or at least he might play one on TV...or the side of a building.

Frozen fragments

Mommy's Idea

I'm sure the "Frozen Fragments" title will be about as original in this icy week as "ice, ice baby." But I've been in the house since Monday, so my creativity might be a little stifled.

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Today is the kids' 4th snow day/ice day in a row. Overall, they've held up well. One saving grace was the fact that the slope of our backyard made a terrific sledding hill -- as long as they stopped themselves before hitting the neighbors' fence. I can't believe how many hours my kids and their friends spent out there sledding, with and without sleds. Here's the gang:

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The boys tried to convince me to try a little body sledding myself. The results were less than spectacular:

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Annie and I cracked under the pressure of nature-imposed house arrest yesterday afternoon. She was teenager-cranky and I was in the mood to push buttons. So I highjacked her Facebook page and posted "Waaaahhhhh! I M soooooooooooooooo bored...so I'm b'in crabby to my fam just 4 fun." I thought it looked and sounded like something a teenager would post. She didn't see the humor in it, which of course made it all the more fun for me.

**********

I've often thought I'd like to push the pause button on the world so I could catch up on all the stuff that I never seem to get done. Well, if there was ever a pause button to be had, this ice storm was it. And guess what? I didn't get much done. Sigh...where's a type A personality when you need one?

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We're 9 days away from Annie & Robbie's birthdays. I guess we'd better be deciding how we plan to celebrate. I suggested Annie take a friend or two to get a mani-pedi and Robbie could have the bigger party this year. She protested, saying, "I don't want a big party. I just want to invite..." then she proceeded to name 10 kids. Clearly, "big" is in the eye of the beholder.

I think the deep freeze has gone to my brain because that's all the fragments I have today. Not enough? Visit Mrs. 4444s for more Friday Fraggers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I have never

  1. tasted Nutella
  2. smoked pot or done any other illegal drug
  3. gotten a speeding ticket
  4. earned lower than C+ for a class (and that was once in my final semester of college)
  5. been west of Colorado
  6. taken a spin class
  7. tried escargot
  8. turned down a game of Scrabble
  9. been accused of being organized
  10. seen Rocky Horror Picture Show
  11. gone skiing, water or snow
  12. wanted a reptile for a pet
  13. gotten a tattoo (though I've considered it)
  14. played softball
  15. regretted having children
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What have you never done?

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Are you suffering from FFS?

    If you live in one of the 30 states in the U.S. currently under attack by the snow and ice, you are at risk for FFS. Family Fatigue Syndrome.

    FFS affects each person differently and at different levels of exposure to family togetherness. Symptoms of FFS include:
    • Locking yourself in the bathroom and telling those inevitably calling to you from the other side that you have a sudden and wicked intestinal virus and you can't possibly leave the bathroom for the next two hours.
    • Inability to make gentle suggestions such as "could you please unload the dishwasher." Rather, what comes out of your mouth is "You have 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher or else you will never play video games again for the rest of your life."
    • Poor decision-making skills, marked by manic thoughts of slipping down your icy street in your pajamas, screaming "Please don't make me go back there!"
    • Acts of borderline child neglect such as locking the doors while the kids are outside playing in the snow, then going to watch a movie with the volume turned up REALLY loud.
    • Distorted interpretations of Carol Brady. Instead of baking cookies for your loving offspring, you throw a roll of slice-and-bake cookie dough on the table and tell them to fend for themselves.
    • Intermittent periods of catatonia during which your family says you have a strange glazed look and a frightful smile while muttering "Hi Boss! So good to see you again."
    • Displays of desperation for animal care. This might show itself in ways such as throwing open the door, running to the middle of the back yard, disrobing from the waist down, squatting and going #2 while yelling, "See dog? It IS possible to poop in the back yard during a snowstorm!"
    An associated affliction to FFS is HFS -- husband fatigue syndrome. This is much more severe than FFS. If you are feeling any stir craziness or animosity toward your husband as a result of being enclosed in the same house for days on end, suggest that he go elsewhere for a little while. Like Wyoming.

    If you have any of the above symptoms, please for the love of all sanity, get out of the house RIGHT NOW. Go to a childless neighbor's house. Slip and slide your way to the grocery store. Sit in the car with a bottle of wine and Facebook on your phone. Save yourself. Do it now!

    Ice-pocalypse

    I definitely got my wish. Indianapolis is one big ice rink. My office and the kids' school is closed for the second day in a row. Fortunately, we haven't had any trouble with our power, though others haven't been so lucky. My sister's power was off for a few hours.

    Here are some pictures I took yesterday afternoon, before the really serious ice hit. I don't think I'll be heading outside to take any more today. I just let the dog out and the wind is crazy wild.

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    As much as I was all for staying in the house -- even canceled my root canal -- Charlie was all about going outside and enjoying the weather. He even used the sled to "snowboard" down the backyard. (He was wearing a helmet when he was doing it on the driveway.)


    Sorry to make you turn  your head. I always forget that I can't turn the camera long-wise when the video recorder is rolling.

    Hope you're snug and safe wherever you are today!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    I'm a believer

    The office is closed tomorrow. I got the call around 4:30pm.

    School is canceled. That was a given when the Indianapolis Public Schools announced they would be closed. They NEVER close. So if IPS was calling off school, I had no doubt that we would too.

    The view from the front door isn't too bad. We've certainly had more snow than this:

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    But the back door tells the real story -- ice!

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    I'm a big woman (in more ways than one) and I can admit when I'm wrong. Yesterday I said I wouldn't believe the weather forecast until I saw it. Now that it's here I can definitely say: