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Monday, March 28, 2011


We're a pretty open family around here. I mean we don't walk around naked or anything, but I have been known to dash downstairs in a towel in search of something to wear. Annie is probably the most modest of us all. The boys (all 3 of them) have no problem running around in their underwear.

Maybe that's why underwear has been on my mind lately. Or maybe it's because I did 6 loads of laundry yesterday and folded plenty of underwear.

There were the Diego underpants that I'm sure Robbie has long since outgrown, but apparently has worn at least once recently. They were part of the bribe to go potty on the big boy potty so many years ago.

Whoever came up with those picture underpants was a genius. We've had Diego and Star Wars and Spiderman and dinosaurs, all in the tighty-white briefs cut. I just loved my kids' behinds in those little underwear when they were still part of the preschool set. Totally pinchable, I tell you.

Eventually, Charlie declared the briefs a little too brief and chose boxer briefs instead. They even make those in characters, though I think King Kong is the only one we have left. Oh, there may be a stray Spongebob in there somewhere. Now most of the smallish-boy underwear I fold is either solid colors or striped or army camouflage.

Regular old-fashioned boxer shorts are starting to make an appearance in the dresser drawers now, though I can't, for the life of me, understand why. It seems like all that flimsy cotton would just bunch up under your pants and feel really uncomfortable. Plus, I think if I were a boy, I might want my, um, parts, tucked in a little bit. Who knows? I'm not a boy so maybe I'm way off base.

Anyway, it seems to me that underwear is just one more way to mark the passage of time. I have a newborn diaper saved from when each of the kids was born, to remind me (and them) how tiny they were when they were born -- if you can call 10+, 9+ and 8+ pounds tiny. So maybe I should grab those Diego underpants and save them, too. And a pair of the Spongebob boxer briefs.

And when they go away to college or maybe when they have kids of their own, I can give my sons a box of their outgrown underwear and say, wistfully, "Remember when your butt was this small?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nervous chatter

In my recent post about why I love Facebook, I mentioned that it makes watching sports on TV so much more fun. It's been a critical part of my enjoyment of my Butler Bulldogs' dance through the men's NCAA basketball tournament. (Although I will admit not everyone is enjoying it; I've had more than one person tell me all my posts during the game are "blowing up my newsfeed.")

What in the world might someone have to say on Facebook about a college basketball game, you might wonder? Well, this:

Butler fans...time to get unleashed!

3 + 3 = Shelvin, my hero.

C'mon Dawgs! Rebound the ball.

Is it wrong that I'm enjoying watching the replay of that elbow to the nose?

Shake it off, Dawgs! Come back from the break and play your game.

Dear Coach Stevens: Time to reach into your bag of tricks...

3 is such a lovely number.

Rub some dirt on it.


How is it half=time already?

We'll sing the Butler war song... (sing it with me...sometime take the next line...)

There's a reason they call them FREE throws, boys....

Time out. C'mon Brad, talk some sense into our boys.

7 is NOT a lovely number.

OK, let's make that the start of our run.

4 fouls on Macklin...let's do something with this.

Something bad is happening in Oz when Matt Howard starts missing free throws.

I don't know who you are #20, but I ♥ you!

Mike Magan is on his feet!

Andrew Smith...puh-leeeeze make these.

Hey -- put that #20 back in!

Nice pits, Billy Donovan.

Let Reggie ref.

YES! Shelvin!

Teamwork makes the dreamwork!

I don't know whether to sweet talk 'em or deliver tough love. So please, sweet honey Matt Howard, make these...or I will hunt you down and kick your patootie.

I'm gonna have to self-medicate to make it through this overtime.

Let's make some magic, Dawgs!

The bucket and the foul!

Tough score...

Could someone please explain to me why Matt Howard is not shooting the dang ball?

GD* referees trying to decide the game. (*gosh darn)

This game is sponsored by the St. Vincent Heart Center and Grey Goose Citrus.

I think I might throw up. I can't watch. But I can't look away.


I need some O2. Stat.

Sir Charles, what do you have to say now?

Wonder if Brad Stevens needs to change his pants before conducting the post-game press conference? I think Mike Magan might.

Now, before you go thinking that I'm a bit nuts, it's not actually like I'm talking to myself (although that does fall under #10 on my reasons to love Facebook). I have friends on FB who are chatting it up too and responding to my posts (and I'm responding to theirs). For instance, someone suggested that the reason Matt Howard was not shooting the ball was because he was afraid I would hit him if he missed.

And I'm aware that the team is 99% probably not seeing/hearing my encouragment (though in this world of wireless technology, you never know). But it makes me feel better to put it out there in the Facebook universe. 

The next game is Bulldogs' second Final Four appearance in two years. The game is in Houston, Texas. But you know where I'll be -- in front of my TV and on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yay or nay?

This is what I'm wearing today:


What do you think?

a.) Daring, but I make it work.
b.) It looks like I'm channeling my inner Japanese exchange student.
c.) You can't believe my family let me leave the house in this get-up.

Go ahead. Be honest. I really want to know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 reasons I love Facebook

  1. Free Scrabble, with the board set up like a real Scrabble board.
  2. I can keep up with brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins who live near and far.
  3. Plenty of links to funny videos and interesting news stories.
  4. It adds a whole new dimension to watching sports on TV. Gotta love the corresponding FB chatter.
  5. It expands the number of people who read my blog.
  6. Free stuff! Lots of companies offer freebies and deals just for "liking" their pages. 
  7. Near-instant answers to questions like "what should I fix for dinner" or "is tomorrow an out of uniform day at school?"
  8. Wide-reaching network of people more than willing to pray for things. All I have to do is ask.
  9. Speaking of asking, need a costume for a school play? A used stroller for a friend? A movie recommendation? Just ask on Facebook!
  10. It makes talking to myself more socially acceptable.
1am bonus reason -- Facebook makes insomnia less lonely.

How about you? Do you love Facebook? Why or why not?

If you haven't already done so, check out the 4th Frog Facebook page.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

When shopping is not so fun

I love to shop. If that makes me a stereotypical female, so be it.

But I love wandering the aisle of Target, taking my time to linger over clearance endcaps and frog-themed bathroom accessories. I get a rush matching necklaces and earrings to springy outfits of capri pants and sweater sets. I can feel my blood zing through my veins when I walk through the mall carrying multiple paper bags, their string handles resting in my palms (though it's been a LONG time since I've actually been to the mall).

Having said all that, there was not a lot of joy in the shopping I did today. I was looking for clothes to wear to my mother-in-law's impending funeral. Shopping for a funeral when the person you love is still alive is depressing.

"Are you shopping for something special today?"

"No" is the easy answer.  "Just browsing" shakes off most sales people.

But by the third store, I was ready to be real. "Yes. I'm shopping for something to wear to my mother-in-law's funeral." It was instantly apparent that wasn't what this nice woman was expecting to hear.  She offered condolences and then left me to my search for something appropriate.

First was the matter of color. Is brown somber enough or does it have to be black? How about brown for the visitation and black for the actual funeral? Is a splash of bright pink appropriate? A funeral is a celebration of life, after all.

Then the issue of formality. Ok to wear pants? Maybe for the wake, but probably a dress for the funeral?

With Annie graduating from 8th grade this year, there will be several occasions -- May Crowning and the graduation Mass -- where nice clothes will be appropriate. Can I add some color to the black dress to make it seem festive at a later date?

Do I have shoes to go with this? Jewelry? Or do I need to buy those too?

Of course there is the fat factor. The fact that the clothes I was trying on were a size 18, when this time last year I was buying size 14s , was depressing all on its own. But does it matter if this outfit makes me look fat? It's not about me, right?

I tried to think of other teapot-shaped women I know -- short and stout -- who might have something I could borrow, but I came up empty. So at the end of the night, I walked out with one blouse I can wear with black pants and a jacket I already own, a brown earthy-toned outfit that I will probably keep to wear to work even if I decide it doesn't reflect enough grief for this occasion, and a black sheath dress with a wide belt that I'm not convinced is a good idea with a white shrug -- an outfit that just seems boring.

And paying for all that? You guessed it...depressing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Forgotten fragments

Mommy's Idea

Friday. Thank goodness.

And thank Mrs. 4444s for hosting today's fragments.

This first fragment is a video of some sort. I remember enjoying it so much when I first saw it that I thought "I HAVE to share this on Friday fragments!" and so I started this post several days ago, pasting in the embed code for this video. But right now, it's just a big black rectangle on my screen and I cannot for the life of me remember what the heck it is. So I guess it'll be a big surprise for me when I hit the publish button. 

Thank you to everyone who shared kind words regarding my mother-in-law. We went for a visit on Wednesday, a chance for a final goodbye. It was a time filled with laughter and tears. Please continue to keep us and especially my in-laws in your prayers as we continue this journey.

When the time does come that my MIL passes away, I've arranged for several great bloggers to share guest posts here. That way I won't feel pressured to post and you won't wonder if this blog has come to a sudden end.

Yesterday was the start of March Madness, aka the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. My Butler Bulldogs beat Old Dominion with a buzzer-beater. Gotta love that!

Depending on who you ask, I either earned mother of the year yesterday or should be turned into the truant officer. I let Charlie stay home from school to watch the Butler game. He hasn't had any "mental health" days this year, has been working to stay on top of his homework, and needed funeral clothes. So I took him shopping in the morning -- (FYI, Old Navy does not carry anything funeral appropriate, but I did score a suit for $16 for at Once Upon a Child!), then Mike took him to watch the game with other Butler alum this afternoon.

I'm sure there is more I was more I was planning to share for this week's fragments. But my curiosity about that darn video is killing me, so I'll end it here.

Irish rewind

Forgive the repetition, but enjoy this repost from last year's St. Patrick's Day:

Kiss Me Im Irish Pictures, Images and Photos

It's St. Patrick's Day again and here I am, a melting pot American, longing for a fiercely loyal heritage. I've always been a bit jealous of friends who wear their lineage like a badge -- who celebrate St. Patrick's Day or Cinqo de Mayo or Oktoberfest as part of their connection to the motherland.

Of all of the ethnicities I wish I could be, Irish is the one I most pine after. Maybe it's the adorable brogue or the stiff-skirted dancers or the stew. Maybe it's just that St. Patrick's Day is such a fun celebration, made more festive, I think, by the fact that it often accompanies the coming of spring when people are looking for a reason to come out of hibernation and be social again.

I wear green on St. Patrick's Day. I try to cook something festive -- for the past several years we've had green pancakes for breakfast. When the kids were little, we always went to the St. Patrick's Day parade. And I love to listen to all the naughty tricks the leprechaun pulled at school.

But I don't pretend that I am Irish. I didn't name my kids Killian and Seamus and Colleen. I wouldn't feel right about hanging out at the Golden Ace where the real Irishmen in town go on St. Patrick's Day.

In the vernacular of Harry Potter, I suppose I would be considered a "mudblood" with a mix of Swiss and German in my heritage. At least I've got the good chocolates on my side.

I can pretend to be Irish a little by marriage. Though my father-in-law's family is from England, my mother-in-law is Irish. Her mother was a Dunnivan who married a Donovan. Mike's grandfather once enraged an army official who asked him what his wife's maiden name was.

"Dunnivan," he said, his voice thick with a Boston accent.

"No," said the official, "What was her last name before she married you?"

"Dunnivan," the young Mr. Donovan replied.

"Not her name now. Before you got married, she was Miss...what?"

The way the story goes, it was quite the Abbott and Costello moment. Dunnivan. Donovan. Potato (Irish, of course). Potahto. Whatever it is, Erin go bragh!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My mother-in-law was diagnosed with a neurological disease about six years ago. From the beginning, we've known that it is terminal. With every passing birthday and holiday, I've considered that there won't be many more of these.

Yet her death seemed so far in the distance. It was easy to think that when she was just a little unsure of foot. It was easy to believe it was so when she was living at home and keeping her weekly beauty shop appointments. Even when she moved to a nursing home two years ago, it seemed so far away because she was still so vibrant, just physically impaired.

Last Christmas, I thought about what gift to give her. She loves pictures of my kids -- her only grandchildren -- so I considered a photo calendar...until the reality hit that she likely wouldn't live to see the smiles of their printed faces for each month of this year. (We went with a digital picture frame instead, which has brought her hours of joy.)

I try to place my calls to her room when I think someone might be there who can answer the phone and hold it up to her ear, allowing me to tell her tales of the kids' antics and accomplishments, as if it were one of those long and winding talks we used to have when we both were home watching Oprah. Though now the conversation is one-sided.

Since Mike lost his job a month ago, he's taken advantage of the free time and gone to see his mom several times. Each time he's come back and reported the latest devastation of her declining condition.

And now, we've come to a point where we are not measuring the remainder of her life in months, or even weeks, but in days. And I am unprepared.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Luck o' the Swiss German?

I have been so lucky lately. And I'm not even Irish!

After my post about the dog (who is still here), I had one friend offer us her carpet cleaner and another offer to take Gabby for a playdate with my friend's two dogs. The playdate was today and Gabby gave it 2 paws up.

Then, I was invited to join a group of bloggers at a chef's table meal at a new restaurant in Indianapolis next week. Thanks Jeremy and Cherie (aka The Queen of Free) for throwing my name out there.

Last week (or sometime near then), I won a book giveaway at The Lazy Christian. My book, The Sacred Echo: Hearing God's Voice in Every Area of Your Life by Margaret Feinberg, arrived in the mail today. Which is why I'm keeping this brief tonight, so I can do a little bedtime reading.

And today, I received an e-mail telling me that I won a blog design makeover! This is fantabulous because I've been thinking about giving the 4th Frog Blog a facelift for some time, but couldn't justify the expense right now. The giveaway was at Absolutely Narcissism and my makeover artist is Simply Klassic Blog Design.

Finally, when I went searching for an image to use for this post, I typed in "luck o' the German" and that picture up top of George Clooney appeared. How's that for luck?

Woohoo! I am one lucky -- and grateful -- Frog! Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket? Hope you're having similar good fortune in your neck of the pond.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How my cart stacked up

I was at the grocery store this morning to pick up a few things for the next couple of days. (I haven't taken the time to plan ahead any further.) When I got in line, I noticed that I was behind my old doctor. She didn't recognize me -- it's been a long time and I'm sure that she had hundreds of patients in that practice. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see what a primary care physician puts in her cart at the grocery store.

This is what she had:
  • Activia yogurt
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Protein bars
  • 2 gallons of water
  • Strawberries
  • Lower-sodium bacon
Here's what I had in mine:
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Vegetable broth
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Hamburger patties
  • Hot dogs
  • Buns
  • Mini bagels
  • Trash bags
So all in all, if she had recognized me, I wouldn't have been too embarrassed by what was in my cart.  What was in your last cart of groceries?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

For Mary

The other day, a reader named Mary left a message on the 4th Frog Facebook page saying that she missed my weekly reactions to the Biggest Loser episodes. So Mary, this one is for you. (Howie, avert your eyes.)

This was Team Captain week on the Biggest Loser. I was pretty surprised how quickly and easily each team came up with a captain. I thought for sure that Hannah on the black team was going to pitch a hissy fit about not being captain. I'm pretty much over her. More on that later.

So the black team chose Marci as their captain and the red team chose Justin. Both logical choices, I thought.

The team captains had to choose one person to be the chef for the team for the whole week. Marci chose Olivia and Justin chose Ken. They both appeared to be pretty good sports about it. Though, if it were me, I would not have been happy. Of course the team would not have been happy either because I'm a terrible cook.

Being in the kitchen took up a lot of time and both Olivia and Ken had trouble getting in their workouts. I thought Olivia's solution of bringing a spin bike to the kitchen was a great one. Though she did keep talking about how this experience was giving her some insight into being a mom. Honey, if you were a mom in the kitchen all day, your spin bike would be covered with finger paint and you'd get about three pedals in before you had to yell at someone to back away or they were going to get their fingers pinched.

Anyway, the other decision the team captains had to make was which two people they were going to send to work out with the trainers. Marci chose Hannah and Sarah because they both gained a lot of weight after accidents left them with severe injuries. This is where I'm hoping Hannah will cringe to see herself on TV because she was so arrogant. She basically said, "I'm better than Sarah and I don't want her holding me back and I don't want anyone to think I'm as weak as she is."  Oh, she got her psychobabble boohoo moment with Jillian in the gym and ultimately thanked Marci for her wise decision-making. But as I said earlier, I'm so over that girl.

I'm also not particularly enjoying the Bret and Kara, the new trainers. It seems like they are trying to hard. I'm sure it's not easy to walk in Bob and Jillian's Nikes, but they just don't seem very likable to me. What do I know? Maybe they don't want to be likable.

The challenge this week was a muddy obstacle course that looked pretty fun, actually. The black team had one more player than the red team, so Marci had to choose someone to sit out. She chose her own daughter, Courtney, to sit out. Courtney was definitely disappointed, but was not immature about it.

Ultimately, the black team won (splitting a $6,000 prize). Then it was off to the weigh in -- presumably after hitting the showers to wash the mud off.

The red team may have lost the challenge, but they killed on the scale, which meant that someone from the black team would be going home. Marci said all along she would sacrifice herself before she sent any of her girls -- Courtney, Sarah, Olivia, Hannah, Irene, and Jen -- home. But what Marci didn't foresee was that she would be the biggest loser on the team and had won immunity.

(A quick side-note: Marci and Courtney are from Indiana. I don't usually get starstruck, but I would absolutely love to sit down with them for lunch and just soak up the inspiration.)

In the elimination room, Olivia and Jen each received one vote, but Sarah received 4 votes and was sent packing. But woowheee! Does she look good now! She's lost 91 pounds total and looks beautiful.

So there you are, Mary. What did you think of the show?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not many things can get me teary-eyed

But today I was. As I pulled up into the driveway, the garage door opened and Robbie was putting a bike helmet on. I asked him what he was doing. He said "I'm going to practice riding my bike with no heel wheelers." (Translation: training wheels) It's actually a bike that Charlie has outgrown.

Last summer, we tried to get Robbie to ride without training wheels. He was 7 years old -- high time to be riding a two-wheeler. We tried once. He wobbled and fell and was finished with that nonsense. Anytime after that when I asked if he wanted to learn to ride a two-wheeler he would say, "No thank you. I really couldn't."

And I didn't push it. With Robbie's sensory processing issues, there are some things that just seem scarier to him and take longer for him to achieve. I figured riding without training wheels was one of those things.

A few days ago, however, lots of the neighbor kids were out riding bikes, including our little neighbor girl who is a year younger than Robbie. I don't know if he decided it looked like fun or if he didn't want to be upstaged by a girl, but he decided he wanted to try it.

I went out into the street with him, held the back of the seat and ran down the street as he pedaled. There were two problems with this scenario. First, anytime he felt the least bit unsure, he'd let go of the handle bars and turn to grab onto me, which meant the bike came crashing down on both of us. Second, after about two passes up the street, I was huffing and puffing almost as badly as I was on our hike up Stone Mountain.He finally gave up and went back to the bike with training wheels.

But he didn't give up for good because he was back at it today. And he was determined. He didn't want any help. Though he did want us to watch. Typically, Robbie gets easily frustrated and wants to quit the first time things don't go away. As I watched him try again and again to push off, get pedaling and stay upright, I couldn't have been more proud. That's when I started getting teary-eyed.

Then he rode halfway down the length of the street, stopped in front of me and waited for me to cheer, which I did -- wildly. He dropped the bike, came over to me and said, "Can I get a hug, Mom?"

That's when I lost it all together. This is my kid about whom I jokingly say my biggest hope is that he can move out of the house some day. This is my kid who I worry about making friends and succeeding in school. This is my kid who put his mind to something and achieved it today.

THIS is my kid:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sayonara sofa


Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day in the Christian season of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days of fasting and sacrifice. As a lifelong Catholic, I've given up a variety of things during Lent. There's the mandated giving up of meat on Fridays. When I was a kid, giving up candy or sweets was a popular choice. Of course every kid tries the "I'm giving up homework (or chores)" thing at least once -- quickly corrected by a parent, teacher or priest. 

As an adult, I've given up cussing, sweets (still a tough one for me), Diet Coke. Last year I gave up internet Scrabble. That was harder than it should have been -- I told you, I'm a nerd. If you want a decent explanation of the theology behind Lenten sacrifices, visit Insomnimom's recent post.

Each year, in our house, we choose a family sacrifice and we each choose an individual sacrifice. Our family sacrifice this year is pop. We've been going through it like water and this is a good opportunity to try to break that expensive and not-so-healthy habit. I think we're also going to try the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.

My personal sacrifice this Lent will help make the 40 bag challenge happen. This year for Lent, I am giving up the couch. Specifically, the couch in what we call the FR2 (Family Room #2, which is actually the living room, but has the TV in it). I LOVE this couch. But the problem is that everytime I lay down on the couch -- does anyone actually sit on a couch? -- I enter some kind of time warp and before I know it 3 or 4 or 10 hours have gone by. 

This couch is soft. It's cozy. It seems to conform to the shape of my body. I blog from this couch. I catch up on my DVRd shows from this couch. I use this couch to play "Mommy's legs are broken." I sleep on this couch -- a lot. I love the way the little swirlies leave imprints in my skin when I wake from a nap or a night's sleep on the couch.

So this year for Lent, I'm giving it up. I'll still watch my favorite shows from one of the chairs in the FR2. But when the show is over, I'll get up and do something else -- like laundry or dishes or reading a book. If I watch those shows from the couch, I may as well kiss the rest of the night goodbye. 

So, sayonara sofa. Catch ya later, couch. I'll miss you. See you in six weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hard decisions


This is Gabby. She's been a member of our family since last July, with the promise that she was great on a leash, good with cats and housebroken. She gets me out of the house and walking for miles at a time. She is Robbie's constant source of laughter. 

She is our constant source of frustration.

When we first got her, she had some bathroom accidents in the house. I chalked it up to adjusting to a new environment. She stole things like stuffed animals and shoes to get attention. She'd take them, run off and wait for someone to play with (read: chase) her. 

But over the course of the past several months, she has decided that our home IS her bathroom. She has moved from stealing toys to snagging and chewing to bits pencils, Legos, plastic bowls, TV remote controls and telephones.

We have reached the end of our rope. A few weeks ago, I called an animal trainer to get some help. She told us to take her out, stand with her on the leash for 10 minutes, praise her if she does her business, and put her back in the crate for 10 minutes if she doesn't. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And she has shown some mild signs of improvement. But not enough. I've e-mailed the rescue where we got her to ask for some suggestions and to see if they might take her back. I've looked into no-kill animal shelters. 

She is a sweet, sweet, mild-mannered dog. She rarely barks and she is so tolerant of the kids -- especially Robbie. And considering surrendering her is breaking my heart. The kids are sad, not to mention angry at Mike and I. 

Annie has suggested taking her to a kennel for the week, having all the carpets cleaned and bringing her back to start fresh. It's an idea that seems reasonable, except for the fact that we are 5 people living on my part-time income at the moment and a week at Chez Pooch and a whole house carpet cleaning just aren't in the budget right now. 

If there were a way to keep the better and jettison the worse of this bad dog who I we love, I'd be all for it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I was such a nerd

When I was growing up, I was such a nerd. The oldest of four kids, and born to a nerdy (but lovable) mother, I didn't have anyone to show me how the cool kids did things. But I wasn't really aware of how nerdy I was. It's only now that I look back on myself as a child that I can see that I was probably the definition of square.
  1. I walked to the library every week and brought home a dozen or so books to read.
  2. I dressed up as a dictionary for Halloween one year.
  3. When the local talk radio station switched to a Top 40 format, I called to complain.
  4. I fell in love with the song "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp in 1984 -- two years after it was released. 
  5. Along with two other friends, I started an "exclusive" vocabulary club. We were the only members.
This past Thursday night I went out with some girlfriends to a local Mexican restaurant. The booths each had this chicken head carved into them:

It immediately reminded me of Famous Recipe Fried Chicken. My family only ate Famous Recipe a few times a year. It was our go-to food for family reunions. Seeing the chicken reminded me of the last time I set foot in a Famous Recipe. I was probably about 12 years old.
We were on our way to the reunion. We stopped to get the chicken and I got out of the car to go into the restaurant with my mom. 
I was wearing this way cool shirt that I'd gotten out of a hand-me-down bag from some relatives. It was polyester and looked like it was a quilted pattern of reds, yellows, blues. I remember plaid and some white flowers on it, I think. It buttoned down the front. I think I wore it with denim shorts. I LOVED that shirt. 

That is, until we walked into the restaurant and walked up to the counter. The high schoolers working behind the counter were all trying very hard to stifle their laughter as they took our order. I didn't immediately see what they were laughing out. But then I saw it:

My new-to-me, colorful, patterned favorite shirt was really a Famous Recipe Chicken uniform!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finally fragments

Mommy's Idea

Whew! Does anyone else feel like it took Friday for-ev-er to get here this week? As a little reward to myself for making it through the week, I'm playing in Mrs. 4444s Friday Fragments sandbox. When you're finished here, be sure to head over to Mrs. 4444s to link up to other fragment fans.

* My post about my struggles with food, Food Fight, brought about a lot of comments, all of which I appreciate. Many of you told me you felt much the same -- which is one of the great things about the blogosphere. But the ones that really stuck with me were the ones that basically told me to get over myself. That my focus is not in the right place. I needed to hear it and I'm grateful that we can be real with each other. So thanks.

* Another place I'd like for you to visit today is The Lazy Christian. I've got a guest post over there, which provides a bit of an update regarding me stepping outside of my own self and reaching out to help others in need. I wish the news were better, but I plan to do something about that today.

*  Tomorrow night is date night! Woohoo! We haven't had one of those in a long time. We plan to go see The King's Speech with a gift card we got for Christmas.

* Some good things are happening on the job front. That's all I can say, but keep praying for the right things to happen.

* My goal for the weekend is to get the laundry folded and put away and to get my bedroom cleaned. Anything else will be gravy. What's on your agenda for this weekend?

Whatever you plan to do (or not do!), I hope it's a good one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thank you

I thought of trying to come up with a more interesting title for this post, but "thank you" really sums it up.

I didn't write yesterday's post looking for pity or pats on the back or other affirmation. I wrote it because it's where I was. Well, where I am, but I'm feeling not so alone in it.

In addition to the comments left here on the blog, I received other support from people who left me messages on Facebook as well. Some of you said, "I'm there too." Others reminded me that my size is just one part of who I am. More than one person suggested the book Made to Crave, which I ordered from Amazon -- for only 95 cents, thanks to my Amazon gift cards from!

All of that love made it a little easier to watch the draft of the next IN Shape Indiana video -- can anyone say round face?!

So, thank you. I mean it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Food fight

I'm in a food fight and I'm tired of it.

It seems that lately my whole existence is revolving around food and weight loss, diet and exercise. It's frustrating and exhausting and embarrassing. The quality of my days (was this a good day or a bad day) seem to hinge on whether I caved to the donut or made it to the gym.

I've felt this way before, only it wasn't about food and weight. When I was struggling with postpartum depression after Charlie was born, I recall saying to the woman who ran our support group that I was tired of waking up in the morning and being greeted by the presence of the depression first thing, wondering if today would be a good day or a bad day. "I'm tired of being defined by this," I said to the group.

And that's how I'm feeling about food and exercise right now. Defined by it. Consumed by it. I know it's all of my own making. I ate my way back into 20+ pounds. I sat on the couch most of the winter, even though I could feel my butt expanding underneath me.

I know what to do to get out of it.  I know all the tips and tricks. The motivational sayings like "nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" and "if you bite it, write it." I could tell you to park further away from  your destination, to take the stairs, to do sit ups and crunches during the commercials on television, to split meals or box half of your entree as soon as the food is delivered in a restaurant. Oh trust me, if I had a curtain to hide behind, I could be the Wizard of Oz of weight loss.

So it has nothing to do with knowledge. It has everything to do with power. The power to say no to foods that aren't going to get me where I want to go. The power to say yes to exercise when I'd really rather stay home. The power to believe in myself that I can set a goal and achieve it.

But food has its own power too. I am an emotional eater. A donut or cookies or chips and salsa can bring an instant feeling of calm to my frenzied psyche when I'm wound up about something. And since Mike was laid off almost two weeks ago, food has been my drug of choice.

I haven't just rolled over and given up. I joined Weight Watchers (where I've watched my weight go up by 2 pounds over the past two weeks). I've made intermittent visits to the gym. I've walked on my lunch hour at work. I watch The Biggest Loser and Heavy for inspiration. I'm still working with FitCity Indianapolis and IN Shape Indiana -- and I believe everything I've said or done on behalf of those organizations and I've worked hard to be up front and honest about my own struggles. But I also have to believe that I am not alone, that many, many other people are waging their own food fights as well.

I wish I had some inspirational way to wrap up this post, some rah-rah-victory-is-mine sentiment. But I don't. All I have is a chance to make the right decisions today.

If you want to read some more straight-from-the-heart posts, visit Shell at Things I Can't Say to see today's Pour Your Heart Out participants.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The heart of the matter

I got so caught up in all that Biggest Loser excitement, that I forgot to tell you about the Go Red for Women luncheon I attended on Friday. Of course it wasn't all the big to-do that the luncheon was for me last year. This year, I went as a volunteer.

I worked at a table to encourage women to get an idea of whether or not they are at risk for heart disease. There were three of us working the table, so we took turns walking around to visit the information booths. I had my cholesterol tested -- mine was very good! I tried whole wheatberries and a mustardy beet salad, both of which were way yummier than they sound. I had make-up airbrushed onto my face. I had my blood pressure taken -- it was high, so I need to check up on that. Oh, and I spoke to a crowd of 1,000. Maybe that's why my blood pressure was high.

The American Heart Association in Indianapolis is holding another Better U challenge, with a bit of a twist this year. Instead of starting it in January, as the program I participated in last year, this one is kicking off on March 7 and much of the focus of the luncheon (besides raising money), was on encouraging women to participate in the free, online program. (You can too!) Before this year's challengers were introduced, the AHA had asked me to address the audience and tell them what I got out of the program last year.

I wasn't really nervous to talk to all those people. I was more nervous about being up there and not looking like a supermodel. Most of what I had to say was about the things I learned from the experience. But I did 'fess up to the struggles I've had over the past several months with weight and exercise. I just tried to be real and encouraging. I ended my 5 minutes of limelight with this:

The program is called Better YOU for a reason. YOU can change your life. Start with just one thing. Switch from regular soda to diet. Go for a walk after dinner instead of heading for the couch. Make an appointment with your doctor if it’s been a while since you’ve had a check-up. Stop smoking. The BetterU Challenge made a difference in my life and in my family’s life. And it can make a difference in your life, too.

I thought that speaking to a ballroom full of people was going to be the highlight of my day. Far from it. About 30 minutes before the crowd was seated for lunch, those of us speaking were supposed to gather in the ballroom for a run-through. I arrived a little early, so I scouted out my table to put my swag bag and purse down. One of the catering staff, Lisa,  was setting the table with glasses of water. I asked if I would be in her way if I stayed there. She assured me I would not.

Then she looked at me and she said, "You know, it's weird that I'm working this event today. My mom is having heart-pacer [pacemaker] put in next week in Texas."

Lisa got a bit teary-eyed, so I stepped over to her, introduced myself, and gave her a sideways hug. I told her I imagined how hard it must be to be so far away at a time like that. I asked what her mom's name is -- Maria -- and told her that I would keep Maria in my prayers. And now I'm asking you to do the same. Maria's surgery is scheduled (or at least it was on Friday) for tomorrow.

After the luncheon was over and I was packing up my things, Lisa came over to me and said, "Thank you, Amy. You've inspired me to try to make some better choices and do something about my weight. And thank you for being a shoulder for me."

As I gave her another hug -- full on this time -- I thought, it didn't really matter that I had just spoken to 1,000 women. I was just grateful that I'd had the opportunity to talk to this one.