Thursday, December 31, 2009

I totally should have put a Furnunculus curse on that bee-yotch.

I know, I know, it's another link post.

But I would be selfish if I didn't tell you about how I almost got into a fight at the Harry Potter exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science - and how to avoid almost getting into a fight at the Harry Potter exhibition. Because fist fights in front of the kids is just wrong. Deserved, but wrong.

Wand fights are way better.

Regardless, if you were planning on going while it's in Boston or when it comes to your area (Canadians, I'm looking at you. I guess it's headed your way next.) I did all the hard stuff so you wouldn't have to. You're welcome.

And if you're a New Englander and you haven't checked it out yet (Ahem) we have this huge roundup of First Night celebrations from all around New England guaranteed to satisfy all your First Night celebrating needs. Well, not those needs. Sicko.

I do this for you, because I love. I love hard. Not that hard. Sicko.

Seriously? Wow. I'm very disappointed in you. Petrificus Totalus, and stuff.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All I want for Christmas is...

Some very small physical modifications. That's all. Really.

Oh and world peace.

And maybe universal healthcare everyone can live with. But we probably missed the boat on that one, though.

Anyway. Maybe acceptance is the way to go. Be grateful for what we get, yada yada yada. As Chicky's preschool teachers always say, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." Which, you know, is fine for 4 year olds but always kind of bugged me.


(But Merry Christmas anyway! I hope Santa fills your stockings up good... and I mean that in a totally non-dirty way. Maybe. Ho ho ho!

You dirty ho, you.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some might call it luck, I call it threats of dismemberment.

Only seven more days until Christmas, and you know what that means...

Um, no. I mean, yes. But no, I'm talking about something else. Try again.

Well yeah, that too. But that's still not what I'm referring to. One more guess.

You've got a point. But no... Let me help you out. What's 4x6, comes in your mailbox and causes me great fits of angina every year?

Right! Holiday cards! You're so smart.

Every year I have a slight (read: HUGE. MASSIVE. EPIC.) hissy fit trying to get the perfect photo for our holiday cards. I don't know why, it's just what I do.

Except this year it was remarkably pain free. On a beautiful warm day in November, Mr. C and I dressed the girls up in matching clothes, brushed and washed them until they sparkled and then propped them up on a rock in our yard in the hope we would get one picture where they weren't pulling each others hair and no one was missing an eyeball. I positioned them, threatened them with bodily harm if they moved and then stood back, screaming "TAKE THE FREAKING PICTURE!!" at my husband while the kids planned their first trips to the therapist in their heads.

And wouldn't you know, the first picture we took was a keeper. Not just a keeper, but suitable for framing. It was the first damn picture we took! We were so ahead of the game, it was spooky.

I know. Where's the drama? Where's the goofy faces? Where's the screaming??

Well, there was screaming but that was coming from me. Come to find out, scaring your kids silly will result in a good holiday card picture.

*jots that down in my "Things to always remember" book*

So without further ado, I give you our family's 2009 Holiday Card.

The bottom is cut off because I wanted to gray out our names but my computer hates me and Photoshop especially hates me today so I just did a hack job on it and... Let's move on before I throw this piece of hardware against the wall.

I know, you're just as disappointed as I am. They actually look happy! They're smiling. No one is trying to kill the other. How am I supposed to be expected to work under these conditions??

It's bad enough that I've become one of those people who dress their kids up in matching outfits, but now I have a decent photo card. Next year I'm sticking them with pins.

I'm sorry Chicklets, if you want holiday drama with a side of conniption fits I suggest you go here first to read our history of the holiday photo session, then try this post, this one, finally ending with this one. I reread them because all of this happy happy made my left eye twitch.

God bless us, everyone. Now where's the nog?


In other news, I'm writing with more regularity. But it's not here. It's there. I'd love to know how you feel about perpetrating the Santa lie myth with your kids because I'm having a little bit of a hard time with that one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WWJD? Probably roll his eyes, turn some water into wine and eat some lobster stew.

An elementary school in Massachusetts is making national news this week because school officials sent home an 8 year old boy after he (allegedly *wink wink*) drew a picture of Jesus on the cross for a (alleged *nudge*) holiday assignment. Being a former Catholic and survivor of seven years of parochial school, of course I had to weigh in. What do you think about all the fuss?

(Oh, and there's an awesome recipe for lobster stew. How bad can that be?)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Like a busy bee with a slight case of ADD *and* OCD

Busy, busy, busy.

Running hither and yon getting my Christmas shopping done; chasing after children who never stop, EVER; solo parenting; finding time to see friends; starting a meat CSA today (glad I waited to see Food, Inc. until this past weekend. Yikes!) and getting the New England Mamas up and running again.... Busy, busy, busy. Like a little bee with ADD. Bzzzz.

Also, by the way, the sound in my head right now. Bzzzzzzzzz....

But even though I'm busy, I took the time to scour Etsy looking for perfect holiday teacher gifts so you won't have to. Because I love you that much. No need to thank me - unless you were planning on sending chocolates. Then you can thank me all you want.

Bzzzzzz...... (also the sound of a sugar high. fact.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It would have been quicker to script, record, and edit my own infomercial, but here you go - my weight loss secrets in two easy (pssh) steps.

(Sorry, it's a long one. Grab a healthy snack and settle in.)

I've had more than a few people ask me what I did to lose twelve pounds in 6 weeks.* I'd like to say it was as "simple" as working out and eating right, but anyone who has ever buckled down and changed their lifestyle dramatically knows it's anything but simple.

Y'all, those six weeks were wicked hard, but it wasn't impossible. Big distinction there. The key to my weight loss came down to the one/two punch of diet and exercise, and by "diet" I mean watching what I ate, not some crazy I'm-only-eating-kiwi-and-I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter-for-six-weeks diet.

Let's start at the beginning:


I really like to eat; I love a well prepared, multiple course meal with a glass of wine (or three) and maybe some warm bread with good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt... and oh my gawd, my tummy. It is rumbling. But I particularly like to snack. I love chocolate, and Nutella, and salty chips, and Nutella, and cookies... Made with chocolate and Nutella maybe with a side of salty chips and is anyone else hungry right now? Giving up the snack foods was more than I could bear so I compromised - I ate smaller, more frequent meals that were heavier on the protein and fiber and lighter on the carbs so I could have a few pieces of chocolate at the end of the day when I needed it most.

The important part to all of this was that I counted calories obsessively. I kept a food diary and wrote down the approximate calories for each meal and tallied them as the day went on. If I wanted 120 calories worth of chocolate**, for instance, I needed to eat 120 calories less a day than I normally would. Or I would work out harder. More on that later. As the weeks went on I became really good at guessing how many calories were in a particular meal.

For six weeks I kept my calories between 1000 - 1400. If I exercised I could consume closer to 1400 and still lose weight, if I didn't I was stuck to around 1000. Believe me, I exercised.

Okay, a typical day's menu:


Small bowl of Kefir with homemade granola (that way, I knew exactly what went into it. Mine always had almonds in it. Mmm, protein.) and either berries or a few pieces of sliced banana, a cup of coffee with skin milk and a touch of sugar, followed by the first glass of water of the day.

Alternate: Piece of whole grain toast with tiny smear of peanut butter, fruit, coffee, water.

Super busy morning breakfast: Egg and cheese breakfast wrap from Dunkin' Donuts and a small iced coffee with skim milk, no sugar.

Not allowed: Lattes. *sigh*


100 calorie pack of almonds (I almonds on me at all times. They really help with the crashes.), or carrots or celery or fruit. I never want to see a carrot or a piece of celery for as long as I live, or until I need to put some in my Chicky's lunch box.


Usually a spinach salad of some sort. I found lots of ways to eat salad - with fruit or berries, nuts, seeds or a few pieces of chicken breast, touch of vinegar and oil. Done.

Alternate: A turkey burger (no bun) from Trader Joe's, topped with two tablespoons of jarred bruschetta, also from Trader Joe's, or
A portion of a chicken breast with the same bruschetta (I heart Trader Joe's bruschetta and no, they didn't pay me to say that. But if they ever want to send me a lifetime supply of the stuff... Hey Trader Joe's - Call me.) and a side of steamed vegetables.


Very similar to lunch. I was eating a lot of simple foods and since my kids are suspicious of anything that they can't recognize, making dinner was pretty easy. I also made more vegetarian meals and cut out red meat almost entirely. One of my favorite vegetarian meals was this one. So. FREAKING. Good. And no butter or oil needed. Healthy, FTW!

If I was time crunched and needed something substantial to last me a good amount of time - say if I missed lunch and it was 2pm and if I didn't eat something good I'd eat all my kids' snacks, my kids, and then I'd eat dinner - I'd fry one egg in Pam, top it with a half a slice of cheese (or if I wanted to be wild and crazy, a full slice. Somebody stop me!) and put it on a plain whole wheat english muffin (no butter! NO. BUTTER. Can you imagine?). That was roughly around 225 calories and kept me very sated for a long period.

Gratuitous picture of edible baby, eating.

The thing to notice here, chickens, is that I did not eliminate carbs from my diet. Carbs are your friend, but the kind of friend you only like to visit with once and a while. You love them but you know if you spent too much time with them you'd end up passed out, drooling and burping on the floor with your shirt off. Everyone has those friends, right?

Eating out was pretty much out of the question. If I didn't know exactly what went into it and couldn't count the calories, I didn't eat it. That meant I had to shop more (quick aside, why is eating healthy so damn expensive? WHY??) and cook more but overall I'd say the money we saved from not eating out more than outweighed the money we spent on more healthy groceries.

As for alcohol, that was off the menu too. Mr. C and I would split a bottle of wine a week and that was about it. I'm not going to lie, there were a few nights I cried. Instead, I drank water. Much water. So much that I had my own undertow.

The first three weeks were the hardest, after that it got a little easier every week until, toward the end, it got to the point where I simply could not finish a Dunkin' Donuts' egg and cheese breakfast wrap. My body had gotten used to eating small portions it refused to consume more. And because I eliminated the majority of processed foods from my diet, I felt better, my skin looked better, and I was happier. Refined white flour and food additives are the devil. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The bad part of this challenge food-wise was the day, toward the end of week six, when I Googled "How many calories in grapes". I didn't eat the grapes because eating them would have pushed me over my limit for the day. That's just wrong, necessary to do anything I could within my power to win, but wrong. Now I eat smarter; I eat almost anything I want and almost always in moderation. Except for that jar of Nutella I consumed the day after the end of the challenge. And the week of Thanksgiving. And that chocolate orgy I had last night.

I'm back on the wagon now, okay? Moving along...


Speaking of The Devil,

I practically lived on this thing. Or maybe it just felt like that. I was on that elliptical trainer for 30 to 40 minutes pretty much every day. I started slow on the manual setting so I wouldn't hurt anything (I still ended up with sore knees during that first week but nothing three Advil couldn't handle) and gradually worked up to doing intervals on level 5. On my machine that means the lowest setting, when my body was "resting", was actually on level 7 and at the highest it was at level 11. It felt a lot like running on really soft sand. I can't even describe how much that sucked but toward the end I was practically running for 40 minutes while singing basterdized military cadence. Which pretty much came down to me humming "I want to be an airborne ranger" like John Bender in the Breakfast Club (WHY is this video not on the internet somewhere??) while shaking my fist a lot and shouting Hooah! I'm not proud of any of that but, damn, it felt good to go 3 miles without passing out.

After almost dying working out on the elliptical, I would follow up with crunches - many, many crunches - and light weights for my upper body. And that's about that.... Except, I should mention here one thing. It is really difficult to find time to exercise when you have two really demanding little kids and a husband that travels constantly for work. /whining

The trick now is maintaining. I'm sad to say that after last week I am now up 2.5 pounds but I am committed to losing this weight to get back to my lowest and maybe even losing another 2 or 3 pounds. The weight doesn't matter to me, however, as much as toning does. I've never had muscular legs so I'd really like to lose more of the jiggle in my thighs, to say nothing of the junk in my trunk. I'd also like to firm my arms and shoulders and strengthen my core, back and shoulders. And cure cancer, pass the healthcare bill, save the world's starving kittens and help David Hasselhoff kick the booze. I think it can be done.

When I started this challenge I had a terrible pain in the left side of my abdominal muscles that started soon after I had CC and even went as far as having an ultrasound in that area to rule out any internal problems. After week 4, the pain almost entirely went away. Ditto most of my back problems. I have a history of severe back pain so this made me very happy. My physical therapist was right all along - strengthen the core and the pain goes away! I mean, wow, this is revolutionary. Everyone should know about this! I should write a book or something.

Before this, I also had a constant upset stomach unless I ate something. It was a lot like how a lot of women experience morning sickness - if I ate something the nausea would go away but if I didn't eat every two hours I'd get pretty sick, close to vomiting. (Sorry for the visual) I'm going to chalk that up to 18 combined months of severe hyperemesis followed by some pretty spectacularly bad eating habits. It's all but gone now. I've got it under control.

Weight loss and fitting into my skinny jeans was all a wonderful side effect of this challenge but the ultimate victory was getting myself on the road to health. Also a kick ass result? A couple of my girlfriends are competing in a weight loss challenge of their own. These two are too. I'm a mutha-effing role model! Hoo-ah!

*Reading that sentence after watching the Biggest Loser last night really makes me feel like a slacker. They lose 12 pounds in a week. A WEEK. I'm clearly not doing something right. Why are you still reading this?

**Individually wrapped chocolates. They's your friend.