Saturday, November 26, 2011

How to Properly Begin the Christmas Season

Yup, you're seeing that correctly. Ethan is getting a Nintendo DS for Christmas, but let it be known that it's pre-owned.
And Benji's getting a Leapster that I bought for half-price. Here's some games.
Benji did this one for me. Don't worry; I fixed it later.
... and eat a few ornaments and Christmas hooks. They taste excellent.

P.S. I got all my decorations this year for 75 and 90% off from a little place going out of business. Talk about exciting!

What exactly is advent? you ask. Find out here.
Advent activities and ideas for children here.
This one is old, but it has some fun ideas too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

psychological connections to food

I think I might be addicted to food. No, seriously, for real. Read this article and tell me what you think. Any other thoughts on psychological connections to foods and cravings? Do you think you have the same issues? How do I start changing this? And I love cooking good food and then eating it, so how do I balance my hobby of cooking with this new information?

Confronting the Psychology of Food Addiction

When you think about an emotionally traumatic experience, like breaking up with your significant other, is your first impulse to eat something to calm down? Do you think about food when facing other stressful scenarios, such as talking to someone you don't particularly like, or even the idea of just getting through your day? If so, you are showing the classic signs of being addicted to food, and as a result, you are probably also overweight. If you resort to eating as way to combat your emotional stress, you have a dangerous psychological addiction that is affecting your physical health. But how do you overcome an addiction to something as necessary as food?
Food addiction, like other addictions, starts in the brain. Physical addiction is always much easier to cure than psychological addiction, because unlike physical addiction, psychological addiction is rooted deep within our neural pathways. We build profound emotional connections with our addiction. Every time we have a stressful feeling, we will automatically start thinking about eating to help combat that stress. This is the brutal truth of addiction.
In the case of food, we are surrounded by it all day, throughout the year. In fact, there are holidays set aside just for eating-such as Thanksgiving-that make food addiction an incredibly difficult disease to cure. How do we teach ourselves to think differently about food? If you will pardon the expression, cold turkey, when it comes to food addiction, is simply not possible. You need to keep eating to survive. But you need to learn how to eat to satisfy your hunger, not your emotional cravings.
As with any addiction, the first step in overcoming food addiction is learning to recognize that you are addicted to food. Once you've made this painfuladmission, your life will become much easier to control. You will begin to see clearly how you've been using food as a way to compensate for your emotions.
Of course, it is rare to be able to make this major breakthrough on your own. You may benefit from having other people to guide you through this process. Finding someone who can motivate you when you feel weak or tired, or when you feel you may be on the verge of a relapse, is invaluable. Learning how to eat in a healthy manner will take time, but it is not impossible. The most difficult step is in confronting the psychology of the addiction, and understanding just how deeply embedded it is.
Once you begin to separate eating from your emotions, you will begin to lose weight and feel better. You will discover that you have the power to control your life without food. You will no longer be ruled by the kitchen, the bathroom scale, or your emotions! The freedom and personal pride that you will experience will add joy to your life, and take inches off your waistline.

The author has many years of experience in theweight loss industry. He has delivered training on weight loss, smoking cessation, and other cognitive based programs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

playing cars

Benji loves to play with cars. I mean LOVES. He's loved them for a good year and a half. Pretty much every time we go to any store, even the grocery store, he asks, "Are we going to buy a car there?" It makes him really happy when I play cars with him. And I do it, even though it's not my favorite thing. Because it makes him this happy:
Look at that face. What a funny dude. When we play with cars, sometimes it's only 10 minutes, and sometimes it's an hour. There are so many exciting things you can do with cars. We play "car match," where we match them up by color:
Notice how they are in rainbow order; that was me being type-A.
Then we put them on the train table in a line...
...all really close together.
Sometimes we spice it up and place the cars on this nifty fire truck display case thing hanging on his wall.
Then of course, there's "parking garage" to play. We slide them down the twirly part, make them go up the elevator, all kinds of exciting things.
Sometimes we make a "car maze," which means I line up the cars in a maze shape, and then he makes one car go through the maze before destroying it. He also likes to add "dead ends" to the maze, making it impossible to get through it. No problem though; you just jump the car out of the maze to escape it. Didn't you know that all cars can fly if necessary?
There's also lining up some books on the floor to make a road and driving the cars on the road.

And one of his new favorites is "mechanic." That means I take some little guys from our train track set and they own a mechanic shop. Then Benji brings me cars to fix. Here's how it might sound...
Mechanic: Hello, sir. Is your car broken?
Benji: Um, yeah.
Mechanic: Oh, what's wrong with it?
Benji: I dunno. It's just bwoken.
Mechanic: Okay. I'll have it fixed up for you by tomorrow at 3:00. And it'll be $1,430.
Benji: Okay, here you go.
The mechanic turns the car over, bangs on it a few times, says "Hey, Joe, do we have any more fan belts in the supply closet? Oh, good, bring one out," hits the car a few more times, turns it back over, test drives it, then it's done.
Like I said, super exciting. It's definitely an act of love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm so irritated, I don't even know what to title this blog post

Dear whoever wrote the paragraph below,
Well, hurrah for you. You obviously know the value of hard work and motivation; those are excellent traits to have, and they have worked well for you. But your view is short-sighted and not compassionate. It is simple truth that hard work and motivation are not always enough. Lots of people make better than "decent grades" in high school, but still don't get scholarships. Sometimes scholarships are just given for football skills. And perhaps your degree is in something that is very marketable, and you'll have no problem getting a job upon graduation. If that's the case, how lucky you are that your talents and training are in something marketable. You should have compassion towards those whose talents are not in a field with an easy job market. (For example, academics trying to get professorial positions: about 50 of the jobs for which my husband applied last year also had 150-300 other job applicants).
Consider the man who has 6 children while he had a great job. Then he lost his job due to company failure, cannot find another job, spends 60 hours a week working manual labor, and still can't feed his family. Are you saying he's at fault for making poor choices?
We don't have iphones, netflix, or even tv channels. We eat cheaply, my kids share a room, we keep the a/c off when it's not miserably stuffy, but we still are stretched. We almost never buy clothes that are not on sale. We too, "work our asses off" as you say, but we're not going to be able to make it past next May if things stay the same. Are you saying this is our fault because of our "own bad decisions?"
You say you're in college; I'm assuming you don't have a family yet. Since you are still in college, you haven't yet experienced real life. Try having a spouse and children to support, experience the failed market economy, and go through losing a job before you sound so judgmental against people who struggle to make it month to month.

“I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free. I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hrs a week making barely above minimum wage. I chose a moderately priced, in – state public university & started saving $ for school at age 17. I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition. I currently have 3.8 GPA. I live comfortably in a cheap apt., knowing I can’t have everything I want. I don’t eat out every day, or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone-and I’m perfectly OK with that. If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions. I live below my means to continue saving for the future. I expect nothing to be handed to me, and I will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I am NOT the 99% and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Tragedy From Which I Could Never Be the Same

I'm in an amazing women's Bible study at our church. The name of the book and workbook we're using is You Can Become a Saint. It's about becoming holy in our everyday lives. The "theme verse" is Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." If you're a Christian, you have no excuses not to strive for this. We are called to be as holy as we can be. I want to talk more about this study later, because it's really been incredible for me.
There are 18-20 women in our study. And there are five women who are (or who have gone) going through intense trials, physically and spiritually.
One woman (probably about 35 years old) had cervical cancer. She was treated, declared cancer free, then had a negative scan 2 weeks ago.
Another woman has a son who was born with a heart defect. He's never eaten in his life. He won't eat till he's 3 years old. He's been fed through a tube his entire life. He's 1 but looks more like a 5 month old. The mom talked about how the skin around his feeding tube gets irritated and infected. He's not able to crawl, and the mom is very busy with doctor appointments and therapy.
A third woman has a son who had a benign brain tumor the size of an orange. It caused brain damage and he wasn't able to walk, move his arms, talk, or swallow his own saliva. That was over a year ago. Now he can walk with a walker and has relearned talking and eating, but he still has a long way to go.
A fourth woman has a son who was in the hospital extensively. I don't know any more details than that it was something related to his cerebral palsy. For a long time, they didn't know if he was going to live or die. She said that she would pray, and beg God not to let him die, and when she finally was able to say "Thy will be done," she felt a huge burden lift. (He's currently healthy and not hospitalized).
The final woman isn't in our study, but two different people I know know her. She had a 2 month old baby that just died of SIDS. It's probably every mom's worst fear: you wake up in the morning, go to get your baby, and the baby's not breathing.
I'm on the verge of tears just thinking about these ladies. Here's what's scary to me. That out of a group of 20 women, 5 of them have experienced absolute tragedy! HOW BLESSED AM I THAT ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN ARE COMPLETELY "NORMAL" AND HEALTHY? I've had three easy pregnancies, three complication-free vaginal deliveries, and three completely healthy babies. Already I am blessed beyond measure! But not only that, God has granted me almost 6 years as a mother: that's 6 years of immeasurable joy and indescribable love. There have been literally hundreds of moments that I've sighed a sigh of happiness and thought, "Man I'm lucky! These kids are hilarious/lovable/sweet/amazing."
For the past few weeks, I've been so fearful that something terrible, some tragedy, some test of faith, is around the corner for me. I think about all the terrible things that could happen: cancer, car accident, paralysis, brain aneurysm, and the worst of all:death of a child; anything could happen to us at any time. I've always worried about these things, but lately, I've been really worried. God has spared me from tragedy for so long, who's to say he'll spare me any longer?
The event I fear the most is the death of a child. That is the one tragedy from which I could never completely recover. I literally can't even imagine how dark, how lonely, how slow, how painful each movement would be, if a child died.
I've always been afraid of the process of being made holy. It's almost always a long, painful process. Because we must die to self in order to be holy. And dying to self ain't no picnic. What if God wants to make me more holy and chooses the route of a child's death to get me there?
Sound silly?
I know of at least one other mother who struggles with anxiety issues. She told me about one therapist session where she disclosed all these crazy worries, mostly ones involving her children or herself not being able to care for her children. The therapist told her that these sorts of worries are fairly common in women with young children. So at least there's a therapist out there who wouldn't think I'm crazy!
Very important to note: I ALREADY KNOW THAT GOD HAS CALLED US NOT TO WORRY, NOT TO BE ANXIOUS, TO TRUST IN HIM COMPLETELY. (I mainly wrote that for my mother's sake; otherwise she'd call me up and quote that verse to me. Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, make known your requests to God" and Matt 6:25-34 where Jesus talks about how the lilies of the field and the birds of the air are cared for by God.). I'm just sayin' this has been a struggle for me lately.
Also very important to note: If I did suffer the incapacitation or death of a child, would I heal? Somewhat. Would I allow God's comfort to soothe me? Yes. Would I become despaired. No. I would grieve atrociously, don't get me wrong. But I would lean on my solid foundation, my true Savior, who knows a thing or two about suffering. But would I ever be the same? No. There would always be a little hole in my life, a scar that would never go away.
I read once in Operating Instructions: A Diary of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (excellent read!) that she often prayed this simple prayer: "God, please let my son outlive me." I pray that all the time.

**Are there any fears that plague you, specifically involving your children? How do you deal with them?

Monday, September 26, 2011

the Drawer of Delayed Dreams

WOW! I haven't blogged in nearly 5 months! Shame on me. Here are a few reasons why:
1. I had a baby. Yeah, you knew that already and I had posted some pictures of her on here, but life with three kiddos is BUSY. Things that used to be priorities simply aren't priorities anymore. I constantly feel behind.
2. We moved. Yeah, you already knew that Chad earned his PhD from UCI (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and after spending 9 months looking for a job and applying at over 100 places, he got a job offer. At Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Anyway, MOVING IS STRESSFUL. Just in case ya didn't know. Packing boxes, changing our address at the post office, seeing people one last time, making phone calls about new insurance and old insurance ... it all took so much time. Then the actual move: we drove one day to the Grand Canyon (8 hours of driving=not a good day), one day in the Grand Canyon, one day to Albequerque, one day to Lubbock (TX), 4 days with Chad's parents, 4 days with my parents, one day to Gulf Port (MS), one day to our new place.
Then, moving in, unpacking, finding friends, getting Ethan in school, etc.
Obviously, I've been busy lately. 'Nuf said.
3. The more time that passed, the more I thought "There's no way I can catch up on everything now. Where do I even begin." And you know me: when I feel overwhelmed, sometimes I can't even start.
4. For awhile, I had this crazy idea that I would like to start a real website. You know, one that was a step up from blogspot. So I thought I wouldn't bother with this one anymore anyway till I was done setting up my new one. My new one would have all kinds of cool links, a list of places to go and things to do in Auburn, a collection of stories about my conversion process, some "diary entries" about the mom life, etc. But, seriously, who am I kidding? I don't have time. I was really excited about the idea for about a week. Then I started stressing about it. And who needs stress. Therefore, I'm going to file that idea away in the Drawer of Delayed Dreams until I have more time. The other things that are in the Drawer of Delayed Dreams are:
a. getting an MFA in creative writing
b. getting published
c. learning how to dance
d. cooking my way through another cookbook
e. getting lots of money so I never have to worry about money again
Aaaah. Someday..........

And now an update on my kids:
Ethan started school! I can't believe he's in kindergarten. Yes, I cried, and yes, it's been a hard adjustment for Benji and me with him being gone 8 hours a day. No, it doesn't make my day easier with him gone; well, except that when he's gone, he's not there to fight with Benji all day, so maybe it does make it easier. Man, those kids are at each other's throats these days! (I just checked out Siblings Without Rivalry from the library, and I'm eating it up).
Ethan is 5 1/2 now, he loves computer games, school, bugging his brother, wrestling with Daddy, and other boy things.
Here's my Ethan

his first day of school pose:

Benji is 3 1/2 and is (mostly) potty trained. Just for the last 2 weeks, he's been going on the carpet a lot. Hmmm... But he poos in the potty, which is amazing! He loves watching tv (don't worry; I limit it!), playing his own version of Chinese Checkers, playing cars and parking garage, playdough, reading Curious George stories, and being with me. He's tall and still super active.
Here's my Benji
before his haircut:

and after his haircut:

Fiona is 8 months. She is crawling! She's been crawling about 2 weeks, and is getting faster and faster. She made her first "cross-house" trip yesterday from one end to the other. She puts everything in her mouth, including
1. bars of soap
2. erasers
3. clothespins
4. toilet paper
5. magazines
6. woodchips
7. a little rubber thing she found on the floor
Talk about worrying about the next thing she'll find and choke on!
She has three teeth now, and eats some baby food. She ate an entire jar of squash yesterday night and a jar of bananas the day before that at lunch. She talks to herself and can even say "mamama," although I don't think she knows that's my name.
Here's my Fifers

Now, besides all the comments about how cute my kids are, I'd like to hear what's in YOUR drawer of delayed dreams?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fabulous recipes!

Sweet potato and brie flatbread

1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed (I use the whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's)
a little flour or cornmeal for the baking sheet
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh time, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil (I think I used a little less and it was plenty!)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
4 oz Brie, sliced (I don't know how many ounces the wedges are at Joe's but one wedge is enough).

Heat oven to 400 (on our Verano oven, 375 is plenty hot). Shape the dough into a large oval and place on a flour-dusted baking sheet. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potato, onion, thyme, oil, vinegar, and a little salt and pepper. Scatter over the dough. Bake for about 15 minutes till the sweet potatoes are tender. Take out, place the slices of Brie over the top, and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes till potatoes are done and cheese is melted.

And now for dessert...
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (See, that's why it's so delicious!)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus more for the pan
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
5 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup confectioners sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch springform cake pan and dust with cocoa powder. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with 1/4 cup cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder; whisk in the chocolate mixture. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour (if you're patient enough to do so; I can never wait more than 15 minutes). Dust the cake with confectioners sugar if you like.
Using an electric mixture, beat the 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 Tbsp white sugar until soft peaks form. Serve the cake with the whipped cream.

Let me know if you try the recipes and if your tastebuds dance as much as mine do when I make them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day of Fasting and Prayer for Chad

Chad and I are going to have a day of fasting and prayer this Wednesday for him to find a job. Please join us in praying that God will provide an academic job for Chad by the end of the month, preferably a tenure-track position.

There are several different kinds of fasts: a full fast all day, a 12-hour fast (e.g. 6 am to 6 pm), a fast where you eat one normal meal alongside two small meals or snacks (collations), etc. Since I am nursing, I will be doing a modified fast. If you are not able to fast, consider giving up something that day (coffee, chocolate...)
Pray also for all the unemployed people in our nation who are struggling to find work.
Thank you in advance for joining us in this day of prayer! Together, we will make a loud shout to God to provide something for our family.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Six Confessions ... and an excuse for every single one of them

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1. I don't return shopping carts to the cart return unless there's one close to my car. I'm not going to load my kids and the groceries into the car and then walked half a mile to return the cart. It just ain't happenin'. If they want me to put the carts back, they need to make more cart return places in the parking lot.
2. I don't clean out the lint traps in the dryer when my load is finished. There seems to be an unspoken rule in our laundry room that you don't have to clean out the lint trap when your load is done because you've had to clean out someone else's lint before you put your load in. I feel it is unnecessary to clean out lint twice. If everyone started cleaning out their own lint when they're done with their laundry, it would be better. But how to make that happen?
3. I listen to pop music ... that's right, the kind of stuff they play on Kiss FM. Like Justin Beiber, J. Lo, and Katy Perry. Okay, I don't have an excuse for this one.
4. I love to watch shows like E! News and Bridezillas. Chad says they destroy my soul, but they're just so darn entertaining.
5. I pick my nose. Sometimes, you just got to use a finger to get out those pesky boogs when there's not a kleenex within arm's reach.
6. I made a flourless chocolate cake last week and ate a fourth of it in one night. But before you judge, it's not a 9x13 cake; it's made in a springform cake pan, and it's also not very thick, so a fourth is less than you think. But it's still a lot. It's just SO DARN good. It's the best flourless chocolate cake recipe in the world, and it's better than brownies.

If you would like to post a confession here, I'd love to hear it. The juicier and more scandalous, the better!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sunday Six

1. First of all, I'm really sad that no one commented on the Taco Town video. Does that mean no one watched it? I'm hurt. It's so, so funny. If you haven't watched it yet, do so. If it doesn't make you laugh, you are taking life way too seriously. "TACO TOWN!!!!"
2. Secondly, I know you're all just dying to know what I did with my hair after I wrote the post about what to do. You probably haven't been able to sleep well not knowing the outcome. So I am here to satisfy your curiosity so that you can sleep again. It's not as short or as drastic of a cut as I was hoping for. The guy who cut my hair last time, when I told him I wanted to go short, he laughed and said, "Ha ha ha! No, honey, that will not look good on you." So he cut it a little shorter than my shoulders. That wasn't enough to satisfy my need to be drastic, so I went to Target afterward, bought some dye and went blond. It's still pretty orange, so I need to do it a few more times before it's a better shade.
In fact, yesterday, someone said I look like Queen Elizabeth the 1st as a young-un. What do you think?
3. Next, it's time to check out my mad crocheting skills! When I was 6 or 7 months pregnant, I got the strongest urge to crochet something. So I made this blanket.
I finally finished it just 2 weeks ago.
And here's Fifi making use of it.
4. And here are some more pictures of the angelic child.Isn't she just gorgeous?! Love her eyes!
Here's her Elvis Presley face:
5. The sleep deprivation is finally catching up with me. For the first 5 weeks, I was going on adrenaline and euphoria. Now, I'm SO SLEEPY. It's really hard for me to wake up in the morning, my eyes feel like lead most of the day, I yawn during the most engaging conversations, and the 2-4 pm time is KILLER. I should be going to bed at 8:30 every night, but after the boys are down, that's my chance to get the things done that I didn't get to do during the day, or to relax and watch something with Chad, which I love doing. So, I've been perpetuating the situation by staying up till 10. And this week, I'm on duty, so I've had to stay up late.
But it sure is nice not to have to get up 6 times a night to go to the bathroom like during pregnancy!
6. Now that I have three kids and an infant to hold most of the day and nurse a lot, I feel behind most of the time. I'm having to learn to be okay with never feeling done with my household work. I'm really trying to work on "living with intention instead of in survival mode" (which I read about in this blog post, which really challenged me) and focusing on my children and having fun with them. It's a work in progress.
Speaking of which, it's time to stop blogging and do something with the fam.


Sorry for the bitter edge in today's post, folks, but I need to vent a little. Here are some of the things that I did today:
1. Put away a load of laundry that has been sitting in our room for 3 days
2. Brought in a load of laundry from the dryer that had been sitting there overnight
3. Started one new load of laundry that we created yesterday, partially contributed to by Fiona who wet or pooped on her clothes, blankets, and sling three times yesterday
4. Made the bed so I wouldn't feel that everything was so disorganized
5. Finally ate breakfast
6. Went to a friend's house for a playdate and had a great time
7. Totally overate at friend's house (including on nectarine and blackberry cobbler with a buttery topping), thereby destroying my well-intentioned plan of sticking to weight watchers
8. Came home and nursed baby for the 12th time (okay, okay, I don't know if it was actually 12 times, because I'd lost count by then)
9. Told kids to play computer games while I went upstairs and tried to nap
10. Tried to get Fiona to sleep by nursing again, tried to fall asleep myself
11. Got vomited on by Fiona (and so did the bed)
12. Took a shower holding the baby (not sure how clean I got)
13. Laid down on unmade bed and fell asleep while Benji was fussing downstairs
14. Got up and welcomed a dinner from Jackie (THANK YOU!!!!!!), immediately ate 3 of the brownie bites she brought with the dinner
16. Put away toys, wiped table from dinner, and cleaned a little in the kitchen while holding a baby
17. Started another two loads of laundry for the sheets and bedspread
18. Wrote this blog post while nursing again

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hair's thinkin'

Okay, seriously, what IS it about having a new baby that makes people want to cut their hair? Whatever it is, I'm not immune to it; I'm dying to do something absolutely DRASTIC to my hair. Someone ought to do a study about this compulsion; it would be very interesting. But I'll leave that to the scientists.
What I need from you is some help and ideas. Remember that I have three children now and want something I don't have to spend lots of time fixing every morning. Ever since Michelle went bold and cut all of hers off, I've wanted to do the same (Michelle, just remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). But can I pull off a look like that? Here are some thoughts:
1. a bob with a straight perm
2. a really short cut like Michelle's
3. a short curly cut with a stacked back and the front a little longer than the back
4. a really layered curly cut that frames my face
5. something with bangs (but since my hair is curly, I would have to blow dry AND straight iron my bangs every morning, and that doesn't sound fun to me)

And color options:
1. red like I've done in the past
2. blond (I've always wondered what it's like to be blond)
3. dark brown
4. leave it natural

Okay, it's time to cast your votes for my new look here in the comments. I have an appointment for Friday evening, so don't delay!

Friday, January 21, 2011