Saturday, October 31, 2009

What it's all about...

Today has been a tough day, food decision wise. I mean, it's Halloween and we had a soccer party at DAIRY QUEEN (of all places!!!). Today, when I walked into the DQ, I realized just how good fried food smells. Especially when you know you aren't supposed to eat it. And then I wondered if carbs could be absorbed into the skin and bloodstream via the pores. Probably not, but it really did cross my twisted little mind.

I made good choices. I ate two french fries, and I did lick the excess ice cream off of Madalyn's cone (only because it was on the verge of dripping), and I ordered myself a grilled chicken salad. Note to self and all who read this: Dairy Queen is not so much known for their salads, and now I know why. I looked at my friend sitting next to me when I was finally done picking at the salad and said, "That has to be the single most unsatisfying salad I've ever had in my entire life."

Oh well. I made the right choice for my health, not for the taste buds. If I had made the choice for my taste buds, I'd have chosen the cheeseburger meal and fries and followed up with the Reese's peanut butter cup Blizzard. (Deep breath in, and exhale.) That sounds so good, but the fact that I did what I promised myself I'd do is far more satisfying.

And that's what it's all about... doing what I promised myself I'd do. How many of us simply push those promises to ourselves to the side? Most moms do. We make excuses for ourselves everyday after we've promised to take better care of our self by eating right and exercising or to treat ourselves to something special like a new tube of lipstick or a cute new shirt. There's always an excuse to not do what we've promised ourselves to do... I'm too busy right now, or the kids need this or that. But we don't excuse ourselves so easily when we've promised something to another. We have all stayed up too late baking a batch of cupcakes for the class party or making goody bags for the soccer team. I feel more obligated to everyone else around me than I do to myself. And it's high time I started doing so many of the things I've promised myself.

So, that's what this South Beach experience has turned into for me. Promising myself to make better choices - not the choices that are the easiest, but the choices I will benefit most from in my life. And that's truly a difficult skill to master. It's not just about food, but I've discovered that my relationship with food mirrors other relationships in my life. I tend to do what's easy - I don't want to rock the boat or have to work too hard. And that's a part of me that really needs to change.

I am working. It will be a gradual progression, but I will get to where I want to be... but for today, I just have to make it through Halloween and all it's many treats.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day One, Phase One

So, yesterday, I completed Day One of Phase One of the South Beach Diet. It was surprisingly painless. Not necessarily easy, but it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Granted I have been thinking about it and praying about it for a few weeks now, so I consider myself fairly geared up for success. That, and it was just the first day.

I anticipate today to be a little more difficult. This morning, I wasn't really hungry, but I felt that blood sugar low. And I believe that might be a common feeling today. My body has gotten used to such a steady stream of carbs, and I know that my body will begin to do some weird stuff.

Isn't funny that food can be a drug to your body? That something you have to have everyday can be abused so easily? That's the toughest part about changing your eating habits... it's not like anyone on a diet (no matter what type it may be) can altogether avoid food. So you are stuck in this difficult place in your mind - choosing the healthy or the unhealthy. It's a tough choice to make. Rationally, it's a no-brainer. But then the taste buds get activated with the thought of the unhealthy, and that's where the real battle begins.

Yesterday I made great choices. But I can honestly say that I have never felt more committed to following a regimen. I am so interested to see if I really can get rid of these nasty cravings and lose the fat I want to lose. I am ready to change my relationship with food. And, most importantly, I am ready to develop a stronger sense of self-control.

I made it through the day virtually without any hunger. Dinner time (around 5:30) was the only time I really felt hungry, and I wanted so desperately to reach for that box of White Cheddar Cheezits. But I didn't. And that one decision made me feel so much better about myself.

I keep telling myself the same thing I tell my children about their choices: "It's your decision. You are in control of what you do. What are YOU going to do?"

So, today, I hope I choose healthy foods for my body.

I CAN DO THIS. I CAN DO THIS.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Peanut Butter & Jelly with Doritos

I am starting the South Beach diet tomorrow. I am nervous. I am hopeful. And I must admit, I'm a little scared of the mental journey I will have to take to remove all these horrible processed foods from my diet... I know that it will not be easy.

Pretty much, I believe that I am a bit of a food addict. I may not look like it, but I eat 'round the clock. You can ask any friend I have and they will tell you that I am constantly munching. And it ain't on celery and carrot sticks if you know what I mean. So this South Beach journey will be an interesting one, and I have been praying for a couple of weeks now that I can get several positive results from this new way of life.

The first thing I am seeking is the obvious. I'd love to lose this ten to fifteen pounds. Although they may only appear to be vanity pounds to most, they are necessary pounds to lose if I don't intend on replacing every pair of jeans and pants I have in my closet. I feel all too fluffy right now, and I am anxious to see if this diet is as successful as I have heard in shedding belly fat.

I am also hoping it will curb my sugary, carby cravings. I'm talking about daily cravings for sugar and crunchy carbs that do nothing but send my system into a spiral of unhealthiness leaving me feeling void of energy. I want to eat healthy again like I did shortly after David was born - when I craved an apple instead of a Double Stuffed Oreo. I hope that after the first two weeks - the strictest weeks of the plan - that those cravings will be a faint memory and I will be well on my way to healthy eating once again.

I also hope these first two weeks to be a time of spiritual growth. Any time I begin to focus on myself and making myself better, it ends up feeding the soul. It's not just breads and starches that are prohibit ted during the first phase; it's alcohol as well. And it's no secret - I do love a night cap. So reassessing my relationship with alcohol and taming it back down should prove to be positive for me.

Granted, I am liable to kill a small animal or child with my bare hands while detoxing from Oreos and Captain Crunch. So be ye forewarned...

So what does a woman eat for her final lunch before beginning the South Beach diet??? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little sack of Doritos. And I did just eat some Oreos.

I mean, I am starting tomorrow, not today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homecoming

My bestest friend in the whole world is flying in today to visit... I am beyond excited. There's just nothing quite like a best friend - someone who knows you down to the core, who was there for all those stories you have to tell the new friends, who knows just what to say because they know what you need to hear. So many, many years ago, my best friend moved so very, very far away. And so our talks became less frequent, but we always picked up right where we left off...

When I think about the things we've seen each other through, I am amazed... and so very thankful. So very thankful that I still know the girl I sat beside in the second grade. She is the one friendship I have always maintained no matter how far we lived apart or how little we get to see each other. She's just about the coolest person I know.

I am so excited to see her, and I am equally as excited to go back to our high school for their Homecoming game tomorrow night. I haven't seen the football field in 15 years. The last Homecoming game I attended was November 4, 1994 - the day of my 18th birthday. I wore a hunter green (remember when that was the coolest color) corduroy skirt and my hair was permed and my date was some goon who didn't deserve to be with me. Several of us went to eat at O'Charley's after the game. Oh, to be able to travel back and tell that girl a few things...

I don't know exactly what I thought the fifteen years ahead of me would hold. And probably even if someone had pulled me to the side and told me the road I'd travel, I wouldn't have believed them. And I guess, today, looking back over the past fifteen years, I shouldn't want to change or trade the decisions I've made along the way. But you can't help but wonder... What if I hadn't have done that? What would things look like now?

I can't wait to see the campus tomorrow - to see how things have changed and how much they remain the same. I'm pretty sure the young students will be looking at me much the same as I looked at them so many years ago and thinking, "Why would anyone want to come back here?" Oh, you spend so much time rushing yourself to grow up, and then you do.

And then you do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something has to give, Buddy...

So, something has to give with all the dead animals around here. Yesterday, Buddy Love landed him a squirrel. And let me just add, I don't particularly care for squirrels - they are too fidgety for me, and I just don't think you should turn your back on one. The squirrel is just one of those outdoor creatures I have never wanted to get up close and personal with, especially when I find them rigormortis in the bottom of the pool or in the mouth of my precious Buddy Love.

Sigh.

Yesterday, I was working on the door in the garage, sanding and painting, and I heard a commotion on the deck. I didn't think much about it; our gate stays locked, and Buddy is always playing with something or getting into whatever. But when I went upstairs and saw him walking around the deck with it in his mouth, I thought I'd die. Right there. On the spot.

I kept wondering how would I get him and the dead squirrel off the deck. It's hard enough to shovel a limp dead squirrel off the concrete. I just couldn't imagine the course of action to remove said squirrel off the top deck. So I waited, and Buddy eventually carried him down the stairs. And so I devised my plan...

Buddy shames quite easily. Perhaps from his little life he had before he hit the jackpot that day and landed his place of residence at the Blair Casa, where food and water are as plentiful as little varmints in the yard. Maybe he was mistreated back in the day... I don't know. All I do know is that I can raise my voice at him, and he'll sit immediately and flash me those big brown puppy eyes. It's sad, but in a way, it works out for the best. When he gets out of the fence, I can shame him into sitting and staying still for long enough to get my hand on his collar and lead him back into the confines. Anywho - I shamed him, and he dropped the little squirrel and let him be. And then I shamed him some more.

Will the shaming work? Will it keep him from killing more animals? Doubtful. And as selfish as it sounds, it's not the animals I really care about. It's me - you know, the one who has to get the shovel out every time he kills something and figure out what to do with yet another carcase.

Buddy Love - Exterminator. Who knew?

One thing, though. I had forgotten how cute squirrels really are until yesterday. Back in 2004, during Ivan (I think), David and I found a tiny - and I mean really tiny - baby squirrel in the front yard. That was prior to me going digital, or I'd post a picture of it. I felt so sorry for the tiny thing, in part because I was pregnant at the time and incredibly hormonal, and partly because I found it when I was raking and I actually raked over him. I know it sounds terrible, but you just can't imagine how tiny he really was. I called an animal shelter in Oak Mountain to see if there was anything I could do for him. They told me I could put it in a box and bring it to them. That wasn't an option for me - being pregnant, I wasn't about to pick up and animal that lives in a tree with my own hands and drive him to a shelter. Or, the people said, I could just cover him back up and let nature take its course - mom would either come down and get him back into the nest, or, well... you know. Of course, I decided the latter. Let nature take its course.

And I guess that's what's going on with Buddy Love. It's just nature - it's in him, the desire to chase and hunt and kill. Even though I have completely humanized him into being my precious baby, he's still a darn dog. And there's nothing much I can do to change what God willed him to be. A dog. That kills little cute animals in the backyard. Like all the time now.

Oh, well.

But somewhere in it all is perhaps a lesson for me. Buddy just is who he is... he is who he was purposed to be. If God gave that much thought to Buddy to give him the skills and the desire to provide for himself no matter where life led him, I think He'll take care of me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In a fog...

These past few weeks, I have felt myself slipping into the fog. Not of depression, but of this weird and strange thing I deal with - fibromyalgia. I don't understand it; most doctors don't understand it, either. But I know it's real, and I know it's an elusive little annoyance that will pop in unexpectedly for a visit. I never know when it will show, and I never know how long it will stay.

I have really been doing quite well for the past year. No major times of pain and fatigue. But right now, I am really in the thick of it. I first noticed it coming on a few weeks ago - the feeling that I just can't lift my arms, that there is no energy in my limbs, the numbness and weird nerve sensations. The physical symptoms aren't the worst part - it's the endless fatigue. The feeling that I could sleep all day and night and still not feel rested. I think that the weather shifts trigger it to some degree. Stress plays a factor as well. And between those two, my body has become a playground for the symptoms.

I remember when fibromyalgia was first suggested to me by a doctor as the reasoning behind some of the things that had bothered me for a couple of years - shortness of breath, pain in my shoulder region and down my arm, numbness and tingling of the fingers, fatigue unlike any I had felt before. After several blood tests and some neurological tests, it really seemed the only answer. But I thought fibromyalgia was only for crazy people who were sick all the time. As I read about the syndrome, I wept - I had never heard all my symptoms described in such detail. I felt understood, and, oddly, that meant more to me than I ever dreamed possible. Just to know that I'm not crazy made me feel so much better about things.

But where do you go from there? You live with the symptoms. You deal with the fatigue. You keep moving. You appreciate a string of good months. And you are especially thankful that this weird little syndrome, though aggravating as it may be, isn't fatal or causing any damage to your body. It's just an inconvenience.

So, I haven't really been taking care of myself lately, and I think that's why I find myself in this fog right now. I haven't been eating right. I've been drinking too much. And, most importantly, I haven't been getting the exercise I need. Of course, when you're in the middle of this dense fog, it's awfully hard to find the energy to exercise. But I need to do it somehow. I know the benefits are endless. And on the eating front, I am planning on starting the South Beach program next week (after my bestest friend Erika leaves, of course - who can be expected to eat well when their bestie is visiting??). I desperately need to get control over my eating habits again - taper myself away from the sugar and processed foods. I just need to put my body in a healthier physical place - it's not that I am obese or completely unhealthy, but my dependence on carbs and processed foods is ridiculous. I am hoping that the program will curb my cravings. I know things will be difficult, but it's worth a try for me.

Seems like I repeat this cycle in my life all the time. I'll get in a good groove of taking care of myself for a while, and then I pop out of it for one reason or another. I guess that's what most people do. I just need to find an eating program that works for me - no calorie or point counting, just a way of life. So say a prayer for me that I can be strong and eat the way that's best for my body. And not buy any more of those tempting buy one-get one free, heck of a deal on cereal at Publix... I do love Fruit Loops. Ooooohhh... and Apple Jacks. And Captain Crunch. Hope everyone grasps the problem here...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dead Animals...

Here lately, seems like I have been doing a ton of things I wouldn't ordinarily put on my to-do list on purpose (if that statement makes any sense at all). For instance, today, I whipped out my newly purchased caulk gun and tube of caulk and figured out how to use it on my own. To my dismay, there were no instructions written on the caulk gun itself on how to insert the tube or get it to expel the squishy goo that is caulk. Also disappointing was the fact that the tube of caulk said I needed to "pierce through the inner foil", though I could not figure out exactly how to do that. I only realized there was an inner foil after I had figured out how to load the caulk gun and had commenced to pull the trigger several times and still had no caulk coming out of my freshly cut whole on the nose of the tube. The rear end of the caulk tube burst and the icky white stuff was all in the apparatus of the gun itself... well, I think you get the point that it was indeed a very messy and interesting experience. But the areas around the front door that needed to be caulked have been done, and hopefully it will be dry by Saturday so that I can finish painting the door surround.

I just never dreamed I would caulk much of anything. I have bought a small little squeeze tube before and used it here or there around the house, but I never dreamed I would buy a caulk gun or use a razor blade and a screw driver to remove the old crusty caulk out of the cracks around my front door. These are not things I had penciled into my agenda to learn to do. They just seem a little mannish - you know, man's work. And now I can add that to the long list of other things I used to believe were man's work until I learned to do them and therefore took over the responsibility of doing here at the Blair casa.

Another chore I have taken to here lately is the disposal of dead animals. If I have any regular followers here, you might recall my finding a dead squirrel in our beautiful blue lagoon pool this past summer. It was a frightening experience, and one I had hoped not to repeat. But never fear... the fun around here never stops.

Buddy landed himself two varmints last week. The first was a chipmunk - or, as Madalyn calls them, a chickmunk. And, God bless his little soul, Buddy killed him and apparently played with him quite a bit. His body was fully intact, but his middle was flattened like a pancake. Madalyn was actually the one who reported the killing, and when I went outside to inspect, Buddy picked it up in his mouth and proudly flopped it up in the air as if to say, "Looky here what I got!!!" But that's just Buddy's favorite game with any toy - he'll flop it around and shake it, and it seems that's exactly what he did with the poor little chipmunk. So I scolded Buddy quite a bit, and I had to get pretty ugly with him to make him realize he should put it down and quit playing with it. Then I had to get it out of the yard somehow, and there was no one home other than me and Madalyn. So, once again, let me step outside of my happy homemaker box and find a way to dispose of a dead animal. A dead, flat, wet animal...

It wasn't easy, I'll admit. The chipmunk was so flat and his fur was so wet from the rain it just kept rolling over and over on the cement as I tried to shovel him up. But I finally moved it over to the grass and was able to scoop him up and chunk him over the fence into the treeline behind the house. I was horrified. And I didn't even want to look at Buddy, much less touch him.

To my horror, the next morning I found a dead mouse in almost the same place Madalyn has spotted the chipmunk. Buddy just looked at me with his big brown eyes as if to say, "Awwww, mama... I just couldn't help it." So once again, I had to get my trusted shovel out and add another carcass to the treeline.

I am still amazed every day at the new things I am forced to learn. Sometimes, the adventures of life can be fun. But sometimes, life throws things at me that I wished I could just pass off to someone else... like dead animals, scooping dog poop, caulking around the front door, cutting the grass, plunging the toilet. Oh, the list goes on and on. But I guess I'll just keep learning. And one day, I'll be the most versatile stay-at-home-mom around.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Little Red Vacuum Cleaner

I'll never forget the little red vacuum cleaner; it sits quietly in the back corner of Madalyn's closet now as I cannot bring myself to throw it out or donate it.

In the weeks proceeding Christmas of 2001, I had - oh, I mean Santa had - all the gifts purchased and either wrapped or hidden carefully for the exciting day. I forget what all was on the list that year - seems like we had a big easel with dry erase board on one side and chalkboard on the other, all the corresponding accessories such as chalk and markers and eraser, and then there was the Power Ranger merchandise that any almost four-year-old boy just could not do without. With only two weeks to go, David developed a new passion for one particular item in the Lillian Vernon catalogue - a little red vacuum cleaner that looked identical to a Red Devil. He just had to have it, and it made absolutely no sense to me or his father.

I talked to him about Santa, as I still do, telling him that no one child can ever have all the things they want. I also tried to convince him that he had no need for a little red vacuum cleaner - what would he do with that? It didn't shoot missiles or make cool sounds like typical little boy toys. He was not buying it, and every time anyone asked what he wanted Santa to bring, the red vacuum cleaner was the first thing to come out of his mouth.

So, I did what any good mother would do - I rushed out at the last minute and purchased the vacuum cleaner so he'd have his most desired item on Christmas morning. What's another twenty bucks even though the budget was tight that first Christmas with two kiddos?

That Christmas morning, it was the first thing he saw. And he vacuumed his little heart out all day. And every day there after for the longest time. It's what he wanted, it's what he asked for, and so he got it.

Yesterday, I thought of that little red vacuum cleaner when I read the following scripture in chapter seven of the book of Matthew:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I guess, in my weakness and immaturity of faith, I often times forget that God is my Heavenly Father. That He made me, that He desires me to be happy and whole, and that His hopes and dreams and love for me far surpass the hopes and dreams and love I feel for my own children. Because the big difference between being a Heavenly Father and an earthly one is that when your child asks for something as silly as a little red vacuum cleaner, the Heavenly Father knows exactly why the child wants it, how many times it will be used, and how big the smile on the face of that child will be in exact centimeters when he sees it for the first time on Christmas morning. The earthly father remains baffled and confused by the seemingly strange request.

So, that just blew my mind a little when I read it and let it all sink in. I know the joy I got out of that weird purchase for my little boy. I know the joy I felt when I watched him play with it. I know the strong attachment I feel to the little red vacuum cleaner - so strong that I don't think I will ever let it go. And yet I doubt my Father can give me the simplest of things I need to make it through each day.

He is perfect. He knows my heart. He knows my motives, dreams, desires. It's about time for me to have some faith. I guess it's time for me to make a wish list of my own and believe it will all be provided. That it already is...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thank you, Zach and Cody

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Zach and Cody of the Disney Channel for entertaining my kids tonight with the new Hands on Deck: Overboard special.

The house is silent except for the occasional pitter-patter of feet. Ahhhhhh.

I am waiting on the hubs to get home with 20 Daytona style wings from Hooters. I might add that we really shouldn't be spending money on take-out these days, but we really can't deprive ourselves of all things good and wonderful. Well, we could, but that would make us incredibly responsible and somewhat un-American. And we are still trying to make little decisions here or there to help stimulate the economy (sounds good anyways).

I love it when the house is silent. Here lately, when both the kids are gone, I leave all the TVs off and just bask in the silence that I rarely get to enjoy. I can remember when I was younger, I hated the quiet. I kept a radio or the TV on all the time. It drove my father crazy, I do believe. He would get a little irritated with me for leaving the TV on all night, but I couldn't stand the silence and felt the noise helped me sleep better. I also had a CD of ocean noise, which was quite relaxing now that I think back on it. I'd just put it on repeat and sleep away to the sounds of waves.

Now that I have children I realize how golden silence is. How rare. How unappreciated by most people. But sometimes, it's only in silence that we can truly hear ourselves.