Wednesday, April 30, 2008

trendy orange

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Who knew that when orange came back around, that I would be a fan of the color. I remember as a kid, how abhorrent I thought orange and green were. Yuck! Those 70's colors - so dated! My favorite color for so long has been blue, and I would venture to say that it still is. However, I find myself ooo-ing and ahh-ing over most things orange, including this:

and I said, "Ooo! That's hot!"

To which Elizabeth replied,"Ha?"

"No, baby, not hot."

So, I'm setting Elizabeth up for saying "Yuck! Those 2000's colors - so dated!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

nobody is perfect

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No one is perfect, including me. Remember that post I wrote about avoiding things like HFCS, and going for organic stuff? Well today, I was at the "DQ" the evil twin sister of McD. (If you didn't know, McD's is the whipping boy for the fast food industry. Ever watch Supersize Me?)

Why was I there?

Because I was
a) bored
b) driving
c) kind of hungry, and thinking about ice cream
d) all of the above

(the answer is D) Here are my excuses: Elizabeth fell asleep in the car on my way into town to run errands. It was mid-afternoon, about the time that I normally eat a snack to keep me going until supper. So, since she really needed the nap, I just kept driving. I saw the DQ, and impulsively decided to get a kit-kat blizzard, one of my favorite combos. Bad decision.

What I learned:
I need to work on my impulse control. I could have chosen not to get anything, but I did anyway, and I even knew that I shouldn't get it.

Imagining what a kit-kat blizzard tastes like is better than the real thing. My money would have been better spent getting expensive ice cream at the grocery story without all the bad stuff.

Since I had already wasted $3.07, I should have stopped after the first few bites, instead of "waisting" the food.

It was totally NOT worth the Content of said treat.
600 calories of (as borrowed from the DQ site:

INGREDIENTS - Kit Kat Blizzard - Small
Chocolate Topping: High fructose corn syrup, water, cocoa (processed with alkali), modified food starch, salt, potassium sorbate (a preservative), and artificial flavors.

Dairy Queen Vanilla Soft Serve: Milkfat and nonfat milk, sugar, corn syrup, whey, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavor, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, and vitamin A palmitate.

Kit Kat Pieces: Sugar, wheat flour, cocoa butter, nonfat milk, chocolate, refined palm kernel oil, lactose (milk), milk fat, contains 2% or less of: soy lecithin, PGPR (emulsifier), yeast, artificial flavor, salt, and sodium bicarbonate.

So not worth it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

good helper

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Elizabeth is proving to be a good helper, even at 14 months. She picks up the dirty clothes on the floor and helps me put them in the basket. She is a master at unloading the clean clothes from the basket.

At meal times, if I give her something to put in the fridge, or when putting groceries away, she helps by putting things away on the shelves, or in the drawers when I pull them out. She really gets a kick out of helping me with real work. Little people are amazing! To bad big people don't think chores are fun. Now we just need to work on putting away toys.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

read your food labels

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A while back I posted off-hand about avoiding certain ingredients in food, like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). While most people might not really consider what is in their food (I mean, hey, it tastes good, so it must be okay, yeah? Or as Sheryl Crow sang, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."), I tend to spend a lot of time doing reading at the grocery store (out of curiosity now, rather than necessity). It tends to drive Jude nuts, so he doesn't shop with me much, and I stick to what I know when I'm with him. Since I started looking at labels, I don't purchase as many processed foods - I tend to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and only venture into the central aisles for a few products.

I recently had a reader write to me about listing examples of products that I have found that fit my criteria for acceptable ingredients, so I thought I'd take a shot at writing some out.

In general, I try to avoid the following (listed, I suppose, in order of what matters more to me):

artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal), saccharin (sweet n' low)
high fructose corn syrup
dairy and meat products made from animals treated with artificial hormones or antibiotics
monosodium glutamate (MSG)
partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated oils
artificial food colorings (such as yellow #5, FD&C colors
genetically modified organisms (GMO's) (typically products containing corn and soy)
pesticide/herbicide/chemical covered produce

I just wanted to note that I avoid many of these things because there is an established family history of intolerance of some of the ingredients - artificial sweeteners causing headaches, MSG causing headaches, and artificial food colorings causing behavioral problems.

I knew I shouldn't have looked. I found a page that lists food additives, and it makes me want to add more to my list. But, I thought I'd put it out there for your information.

So, on to the products that I use. Generally, if you look for organic products, you can avoid most of these ingredients (although you should still read the labels). When organic isn't widely available, you'll find that many conventional food manufacturers are coming out with their own "organic" or "natural" alternatives. Also, you may find that store brands have fewer of the ingredients you wish to avoid. Here are some that you'll regularly see in my kitchen, purchased at my local grocery store:

Lunch meat - Hormel Natural Choice no preservative, nitrites or nitrates, msg, or other artificial ingredients

ketchup - Heinz Organic - no HFCS, which is my biggest problem with other ketchups

- Amana Bread (a store brand) - no HFCS, and minimal artificial ingredients. I admit, I opted for this instead of Natural Ovens' bread because it was less expensive. The thing I loved about the Natural Ovens bread is that it tasted like fresh, homemade bread (to me). But, I make my own now.

cold cereal - Mom's Best is a great alternative to many breakfast cereals, at a relatively inexpensive price. I especially like that it is family-owned, as opposed to the Kashi cereal that I sometimes buy, which is ownED by Kellogs (just because it's organic doesn't mean it's a small business!)

broth - Swanson's Certified Organic broths - no msg

produce - Earthbound Farm lettuce, organic apples, celery, potatoes. Most produce I have available at my grocery is not organic, so when I can I try to buy according to what tends to have the most pesticides. Aside from that, I buy local, when possible.

I'm sure there are other products in my kitchen I could list, but that's a small start. I suspect that there are some products that I don't even think to put on the list, because I read the label so long ago, I don't remember what similar products have that I avoid. For most other products, I don't have a particular brand that I stick with, but I use the principle of avoiding the "low fat, low cal, low sugar" labels. The "real" thing might have more fat, calories, or sugar, but the idea is to use the "real" thing in moderation, instead of getting something with a host of questionable ingredients for the sake of eating more of that item. As a general rule, if I don't know what it is, or can't pronounce it, then I question whether I should eat it.

Although label reading might sound daunting, take it one step at a time. Choose a product that you buy regularly, such as bread. Pick up the package that you have at home, and look to see if there are ingredients you'd rather avoid. If you find your product doesn't pass muster, the next time you are grocery shopping, take a look at the other bread labels, and see if you can find one that fits your preference. Once you've decided on a bread that you like, take it home. The next time you go shopping, you don't have to read the labels for bread anymore, and you can use that extra 5 minutes to read the label for the next product you want to change. It's kind of like a snow ball - as you address change one product at a time, your pantry will soon be filled with better foods than before!

Don't shop like a robot. Take a look around when you go grocery shopping, and you'll find all kinds of new products popping up in obscure places in your grocery store. That's actually where I spend my label reading time now. When I see a new product, I check out the label to see if it's worth considering replacing one of my current products.

I find that reading labels goes a long way towards not eating foods that I'm tempted to eat or buy. I pick it up, read the label and gingerly replace such products on the shelf. There are so many unnatural ingredients that it's liable to self-destruct...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

fitness blogging

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I have an interest in fitness blogging. As I've been progressing on my journey towards life long fitness (1/3 of the way to my goal BMI since December!) I've been cruising around the blogosphere, subscribing to blogs that seem to fit my interest and that represent what I might one day like to develop a specific blog about.

Here are some of my current favorites: (there are lots more out there - tell me some that you like that aren't on my list!)

The Great Fitness Experiment
- I like this one because I totally relate -She's not a profession health, fitness, nutrition expert - just an average person who has an interest in sharing her research and experiences in getting fit.

The Fit Shack - I like how this blog balances the body, mind, and spirit when it comes to health and fitness. This blog also comes from a woman who is interested in sharing what she has learned as she works towards life long health.

Workout Mommy - From a woman who has experience as a personal trainer, and as a mom trying to fit it all in! I like the video clips that she finds that relate to fitness (but that's not all that she has - lots of other good stuff!)

Fitness for Mommies - This blog is comes from a woman who has history in the fitness world as a teacher and athlete.

Go Workout Mom - Also a blog from a mom-turned personal trainer. I like how she invites her readers to get more involved both in fitness and with each other.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

filibuster fun

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I've learned a lot about my state government in the past few weeks. As is often the case with me, one search for information leads to many paths of inquiry. It all started with my interest in the Midwifery Bill that is currently in the Missouri Senate. I found that I could view the current text of the bill, and that I could get information about all of the senators, and lots of history. I then found out that I could view the Senate Journals online to know what all happened in any given session. I read about the rules of the senate, investigated terms, and grew in understanding of the process. Interesting stuff!

Then, oh yes, then, I found that I can hear live debate from the Senate floor. You would have thought it was Christmas. I've been tuning in to the debates for the past few weeks, hoping to catch the next time the midwifery bill was brought up. I've had fun getting to know the voices of the state senate, and to hear the humor, the camaraderie, and the antagonism that can be evident in passionate debate.

Finally this past Monday after 5 pm, I heard my bill called up - SB 1021. As I listened I became a little disappointed. To my inexperienced ear, it appears that Senator Chuck Graham of the 19th District (that would be Boone and Randolph counties, including the city of Columbia, home to my Alma Mater) was filibustering the bill. Although I don't have a transcript of the "debate" I recall Senator Loudon (sponsor of the bill) mentioning several times (trying to get a word in edgewise to in response to Senator Graham's comments) something to the effect of 'well, lets vote on it!' and Senator Graham responding, 'oh, we'll vote on lots of things!' and then continuing on his verbose way. I'm not sure how long the debate went on - I know when it rolled around to 6 pm, Loudon asked that the bill be placed back on the informal calendar (which essentially means that they set it aside for now.) We can only hope that there will be an opportunity in the few weeks left to get the bill on the floor and around Graham's annoying refusal to let the Senate decide for its self about midwifery in Missouri.

One positive thing today's filibuster did for me was send me on a quest for the longest filibuster by an individual on record - Strom Thurmond stood and spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in 1957. Hopefully it won't come to waiting out Senator Graham for hours on end. But we should be prepared, and send him lots and lots of courtesy beverages.

Monday, April 21, 2008

mud pie

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This morning, our family was outside working in the yard. We were moving dirt to fill in some low spots where water ponds during rain (which does absolutely nothing positive for growing grass in those spots). Elizabeth was helping by putting clumps of dirt into the wheel barrow. Then she helped by rubbing the dirt around that we had placed on the ground. Surely this helps us to level it, right?

We moved on to clearing out some leaves that had collected in the ditch behind our house. It's a clean kind of ditch, where all it does is catch the water coming down the hill behind our house so we don't have a waterfall in our basement. The leaves had been collecting in that ditch for more than a year, and were damming up the water in its course to the big drainage ditch, leaving some very muddy spots in the ditch. As we raked the leaves, Elizabeth ventured down to the ditch, and tested the mud out with her hand. Hmm. This looks like something good to play with...

She stuck her finger in the mud, much like you might imagine Little Jack Horner who stuck his thumb in the Christmas pie (and pulled out a plumb! oh what a good boy am I!). She took a good look at it, and popped it in her mouth. Yum. The expression on her face was priceless. She spat out the mud, leaving it to dribble down her chin like some young man's trendy facial hair.

She didn't repeat that experience. Mud pie does not taste like chocolate, despite the remarkable resemblance.

Friday, April 18, 2008

make bread, save some money

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For the past few weeks, I've been making my own bread, instead of buying store bought bread. I've chronicled some of my experiences with bread making in the past.

Every week, I've seen improvements in the texture and shape of my bread (practice makes perfect!) I've ventured out in to trying bread bowls (fell a little flat) and dinner rolls (pretty good) with my dough, as the recipe that I use gives me enough for 3 large loaves. Since there's no way I go through 3 loaves, and really, 2 is pushing it, I've been trying to find alternative things to do with my dough.

Thus far, I've found opportunities to share my bread with others.

It's also go me thinking about whether I'm acutally saving any money by making my own instead of buying. I took the time to break down my cost for making my bread per batch:

flour - $1.55
eggs - $.35
butter - $.29
honey - $.46
yeast - $ 1.04
salt - $.23

for a total of $3.92 per batch, or $1.31 per loaf.

This cost doesn't include the cost of water (4 cups) or the electricity of running the mixer or the oven. However, I don't imagine that this would contribute more than a few cents to the entire cost.

Considering my preferred loaf of bread at the store costs me $2.45, and gives me about the same amount of bread, that's a pretty nice bit of pocket change that adds up - $1.00 per loaf saved, and it tastes so much better!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

organic is worth it

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I flipped through Prevention Magazine's May issue, and found this little article. I've seen some of the 60+ studies referred to, and it's just more proof to me that buying organic is worth it for the additional nutritional value. Maybe if I'm getting more nutrients in my food I can save money on multivitamins!

Sometimes the price of organic makes it hard to justify. If you think about in terms of preventative measures, it makes sense to spend a little more on organic foods, and save on spending on long-term chronic illnesses.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

change your food, change your life

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I grew up in a household that encouraged the kind of healthy eating that is now advocated by almost any nutrition or health expert. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and few processed foods. Eating wholesome food like these bring with it a host of benefits - reduced risk of most chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. More energy for daily activities.

My brothers can attest to the table setting mantra - "bread, butter, salt, pepper, fruit, vegetable"- that my mom quoted to us each time we were assigned to set the table for dinner. I remember all of us sitting down for breakfast, and eating more than just cold cereal. We didn't have sugared cereals, or foods with lots of food coloring. It's not to say that we never had chips, or soda (I called it pop when I was growing up) fruit roll ups, or other processed foods. It was just far from normal. Except for the pop. We had a pop machine outside of our gift shop. But that's beside the point.

I'm sure some people think I led a deprived life. I am grateful for my upbringing, as it established the ground work for me to make healthy choices (now that I'm choosing to make the healthy choice - most of the time).

Not everyone has been raised in an atmosphere that encourages good food choices. There are some who grow up where soda, white bread, sugared cereals, twinkies, hotdogs, and frozen precooked dinners are the norm. When your taste buds have been trained to prefer the ultra-strong flavors found in such foods, it can be a challenge to exchange those foods for the different flavors found in wholesome, healthful foods that we really need.

I challenge you to take a look at your diet (diet, as in the foods that you eat). Here are some simple changes that can make a huge impact in your health and your life.

whole grains - Exchange the white flour products in your life for whole grain. Bread and pasta are two great places to start.

vegetables and fruits - Take a walk through the produce section, and bring home a vegetable or fruit that you haven't eaten in a long while (if ever). Include vegetables (especially lightly cooked ones) and fruits in every meal.

reduce the amount of soda you drink during a week - Try instead some water, water with a splash of fruit juice, herbal teas. The beverages we drink are an area many people struggle with. Some people say that it's impossible to give up soda, or they think that switching to "diet" soda is somehow better than regular soda. There's plenty of research to suggest that switching to diet soda is just exchanging one set of problems for another.

There are lots of other changes you could make - cutting out fried and processed food, reading labels for and avoiding certain ingredients like hydrogenated oils (trans fat), artificial food colorings and preservatives, Monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

There are lots of great, wholesome foods out there that can more than satisfy our taste buds. Try them out!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

seen at my house today

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I was out taking some photos today, and thought I'd share with you some scenes from around my house on this day:

Some of my bumGenius diapers sunning on the line. This is the first day that's been both warm enough and sunny enough to reap the benefits of line drying the diapers. Bye-bye stains!

Some my prefolds and inserts. And the back of my house.

The daffodils are up both near the spring cistern and the porch.

I've been following the plight of the western honey bee with regards to colony collapse disorder. Even though you might think, "so what, the bees are disappearing," it's a big deal - they are responsible for pollinating 30% of the crops we grow here in the US, including peaches, applies, soybeans, and a variety of berries. The problem is spreading to other regions of the world. I'm reassured to see honeybees buzzing around.

team up online to get fit

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Most of the day, it's just Elizabeth and I. We have a few people that we see once or twice a week, but for the most part, we stay at home and work on playing, learning, and personal projects (like exercising!) I don't have any other people that I exercise with, though, so in the past, I often felt pretty alone in my efforts to improve my fitness and over all health. I've read that having other people with you on your fitness journey can make a huge impact - other moms who you walk with, people from classes at your local gym, or even groups like Weight Watchers.

A few months ago, a friend invited me to join a private online group, full of women that I'd become acquainted with through a forum for a shared interest. Even though I only know one person in real life, the support that I find there has been a significant factor in my continued efforts to get fit. With them, I can celebrate successes, vent frustrations of my journey, and get the encouragement and advice to help me persevere.

I've also recently been looking for blogs of people with similar interest in fitness, especially those geared at moms. Being part of a community, even if it is an online community, can be a significant advantage when getting fit.

If you're working on improving your fitness, I highly recommend that you find a way to connect with others who share a similar interest. It could be your spouse, a neighbor, or an online friend. Use that support to motivate and keep you on track!

Monday, April 14, 2008

rocks for your gizzard

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Today, the family was at a campgrounds belonging to our church, doing some work on the new wireless internet system. (yes, even when you're retreating from the world, you can't escape the internet.) While Jude was crawling around the attic space of the shower house where one of the access point antennas was located, Elizabeth and I took some time to explore the sticks, leaves, mud and rocks on the grounds. (shame on me; no camera! what kind of photog mom am I?!)

So, I'm moving fallen sticks and branches into piles under the trees, and Elizabeth is sorting through the rocks on the gravel paths. Every once in a while she finds the "right" one, and tries to take a bite. I chase after her, "rock are not for the mouth," and eventually she turns to give me the rock, oh so sweetly, "here mom, I picked this one out just for you!"

I don't think she swallowed any rocks, but I guess since she doesn't have much in the way of teeth, they'd be good for her gizzard. If she had a gizzard.

Friday, April 11, 2008

pillowcase monster

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You know how there's a sock monster? The kind that eats your socks - Some live in dryers, some live in the floors of children's rooms. That kind. Well, mine apparently has mutated, and is now a pillowcase monster.

I'm missing pillowcases, and what tipped me off was one particular pillowcase from the sheet set we use all the time. For more than 2 months, I've been thinking, 'surely it will show up. it's just... fallen behind something.' Nope. It's been eaten. I'm sure of it.

Now I'll have to endure mismatched pillowcases. Tragic.

spend less by shoping less

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It seems obvious, doesn't it? If we shop less, we spend less. That's what I've decided to start doing. I go shopping once a week, and when I'm in town to shop I hit everything on this extended trip. The grocery, the Wal-Mart, whatever other errands I deem necessary. As I think back on my receipts, it looks like I spend somewhere around $35 a week at Wal-Mart. That doesn't include any food. It really gets me wondering where all that money goes...

A while back, a friend of mine mentioned how her family only goes to Wal-Mart once a month. I couldn't fathom it. What if you run out of something? What if you find out there's something you Really Need? A couple of years ago, I was at Wal-Mart probably twice a week. I decided to be thrifty, and cut it down to one trip to town a week. While I have saved some money by reducing my trips, it is apparent that I could go one better.

As I've been looking at ways to pare down my unnecessary spending, I thought, if I go to the store less often, I'll be less inclined to make impulse buys. Also, even though it's less than a mile of extra driving to go to Wal-Mart, I'll save a little gas, and save a lot of time. Every time I go into Wal-Mart, I spend more than an hour there, just wandering around looking at things. I think I have better things to do with an hour (like exercise).

So, from here on out (hopefully) the big-blue-box store will only be a once a month trip. Yes, there will be instances where there really is something that I need to get outside of my once a month trip. But, if I make the effort to pay attention to how fast we use consumable goods, and do a little thinking ahead for the month, I imagine I'll have it covered pretty well. I'm curious to see how this works out, and what my savings will be!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

(not) on schedule

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Now that it's been received, I can tell you about a baby quilt that I made for my friend, Melanie (well, for baby Camryn, actually).

When I saw this pattern, I knew it was the one to make. The bees and the z's - I couldn't help but think of Melanie and her fondness for things with bees. I had thought when I started this quilt, that it would be quick. Ha! I actually got the blocks all cut and put together in 2 (longish) days. I thought I was so close to done. That was in January, before the baby shower. I toiled away for then next month and a half stitching the faces on the cute little bees. It was fun, as I expectantly waited to hear the news of Camryn's arrival, and prayed for healthy mom and baby while carefully crafting each unique face.

I got the faces done the day before Camryn was born, and shot off a quick comment to Melanie's blog, lest she was being subconsciously held up by an unfinished project (even though it wasn't her project, not that I thought that was really holding her up.) I thought I was almost done, but again, my estimates were not on par with the reality of life. No fear!

I plugged away over the next weeks, finishing the top, preparing the backing, and taking it off to the quilt shop for them to quilt it with their handy dandy quilting machine. (If I had tried to hand quilt it, Camryn would no doubt have been in college by the time I finished her baby quilt.) It was poor timing on my part, as they were busy with other quilts to finish. So, I twiddled my thumbs while the quilt was in line to be finished. After I got it back, I made quick work of it! On with the binding, try to catch all the stray threads, into the box! So, one month (to the day) after Camryn's birth, I got the quilt packaged and ready to go for shipment.

I really enjoyed making that quilt. Elizabeth seemed fond of it, as she kept trying to play with the bees every time I laid it out on the floor to work on it. Unfortunately for her, this quilt is for another baby to enjoy and wear out. Congrats on your precious daughter, Melanie!

baby see, baby do

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A few days ago, I posted about how Elizabeth mimics some of what we do. I've already found something I would rather she not mimic: weighing in on the scale.

I track my weight every day using the Google 15 gadget on my Google homepage. There are lots of reasons why tracking my weight everyday is helpful, but I won't go into that now. Back to the story. I weigh in every morning in reasonably the same conditions each day - same clothes, before breakfast. In the past, I just stepped into the bathroom (where we keep our scale) and weighed, door open, Elizabeth usually following me as she does throughout the day. Recently, after I got off the scale, Elizabeth stepped onto it, and stood perfectly still, while looking down towards the number.

I find this disturbing. What kind of lessons am I teaching her about her body, and her self worth? Am I setting her up for obsessing over her weight? What other things am I teaching her that are negative, but I have no idea I'm doing?

Now I plan on weighing in at a time when she can't see - before she gets up (not likely) or by simply shutting the bathroom for a minute while I track my progress. Hopefully, I'll stop daily weigh ins here in a few months as I approach my target weight and learn to maintain good fitness and health, so she won't have a lasting impression of her mom always checking out how much she weighs.

While there are lots of things that I don't mind being mimicked, poor attitudes and practices regarding health and fitness are not anything worth copying!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


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I remember lots of sticker charts as a kid. At school, at church, at home. Whenever I did whatever was demanded by the chart, I got a sticker. Almost 2 years ago, I was trying to think up new ways to motivate myself to exercise, and I thought 'Sticker Chart!' What a great way to keep track of what I've been doing, see my progress over the weeks, and have a public record for some accountability!

Unfortunately, I got a little off track that first year. I was pregnant, and almost everything organizationally went out the window. So, here we are today, and I've been successfully using my sticker chart for several months. Successful doesn't mean I exercise every day that I could, but it does certainly expose my habits for all to see.

(That big blank spot? I was gone a lot that month.)

Some people have suggested this is just an excuse to buy stickers. I admit it. I like stickers. Actually, I like just about anything with adhesive, especially tape and post-it notes, but that's beside the point. The point that I'm wandering towards is that stickers can be great motivation, and not just for kids.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

words and actions

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A report on Elizabeth's words and actions.

Her repetoire of signs has increased, and she now actually signs one word she doesn't say: Where. So I ask "Where's your nose?" and she waggles her finger and sometimes points to something on her head. She signs for phone, bird, hot, and I think that's about it. I guess she doesn't say phone either. So that's 2 words unsaid.

She also has be saying "Da," or "Dad" pretty consistently and in the right context. I still only get, "Mum-mum-mum-mum" when she's upset. We know who she prefers now.

She's becoming an obvious mimic - a few weeks ago, her Nana was trying to get her to say "Nana." Elizabeth said it quite clearly, and hasn't said it or anything like it since. Stubborn.

Yesterday, our neighbors were over for dinner, and Evelyn (the neighbor Grandma, who's not really related, but is the mother of Elizabeth's uncle) was touching her own nose and saying "beep, beep." Elizabeth suddenly grabs her own nose, and does the same thing. What a cutie!

I've been playing YMCA as part of her morning music, and working on the actions with her. Now, occasionally, she'll stick her arms up in the air during the song.

Every time she hears or sees clapping, she also claps enthusiastically.

We have some stacking/nesting boxes, and we've been stacking and unstacking, while counting the blocks. She stacks them up herself (only 3-4 high, after that they start falling over) and she says words each time she sets a block down. Clever girl.

She's pretty good about drinking from an open cup all by herself. Sometimes she adds her own flavors to her beverages. Yesterday, she had apple juice garnished with strawberry and dill pickle at lunch. Yum!

All of these things are typical baby things, but they're so fun to see, especially when a new skill is displayed!


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Elizabeth has certainly figured out climbing, and how to use other tools to get her a step higher.

This morning, I watched as she used a #10 can filled with wheat as a step to get to the piano bench, to reach everything on the piano.

She also knows how to move the dining chairs around to get on the table. Yesterday, I found her (quietly) sitting on the table unfiling and refiling my SHE/FlyLady cards, which I had cleverly left out of her reach in the middle of the table.

Monday, April 07, 2008

adopt a pet

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I suppose I'm an odd person to advocate adopting pets. I don't have any pets. I don't plan on getting any pets soon (although I probably wouldn't mind one myself, it's not something that would really work out for us). However, as I watched Oprah last week (a random enough occurrence for me to have the TV on at all) I thought about my family's experience with a dog rescued from a puppy mill.

The dog actually belonged to my parents. His name was Rusty, and he died about a year ago from doggie cancer (I think). When my parents met Rusty, he had just been turned into the animal shelter 20 minutes before they arrived at the shelter. He was a sweet dog, but they knew he'd be a challenge, as the shelter could tell Rusty hadn't been socialized. He couldn't bark (it sounded more like a cough), he had a tattooed number in his ear, and he didn't really care for the grass. It took months for Rusty to be housebroken, and even then he only did his business in on the driveway, and avoided the grass. It took Rusty months to manage the steps, and even when he could navigate them by himself, it was and awkward and slow process. Jumping on to or off of anything of any height was also a challenge for him.

Rusty was with my parents for several years. He showed us all the impact of puppy mills on the breeding dogs, and solidified our rejection of the puppy mill industry. For my family, we'll stick to rescue pets, and say no to the pet shops (since most pet shops get their pets from puppy mills, according to one of the guests on Oprah).

If you're looking for a pet to adopt, check out You can find all kinds of pets waiting for adoption at shelters near you.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I could be more frugal, but...

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I've thought about doing the following, both for the money saved, and the perceived health benefit. I don't imagine most people would consider doing these. Although I am intrigued, I think I'll pass for now.

1) Reusable wipes for adults. Yes, instead of paying for toilet paper, I could just make some wipes (just like I use with cloth diapers) for adults. For some reason, I find this more gross than the idea of using cloth for babies. It's not like it would require any extra effort - they could just be put in the same pail as all the diapers, but... Maybe some day. With regular toilet paper for guests.

2) Cloth menstrual pads. Kind of the same deal with cloth wipes for adults. There are health reasons that make this appealing (same as why I prefer not to use disposable diapers with babies). Not there yet.

I wanted to Add:
3) I could not wear contact lenses, and just go with glasses all the time, but I'm not in a dire need of saving every penny I can gather. We earn money so we can use it, not so we can just sock it away for eternity!

I'm sure there are other interesting and unconventional frugal ideas, but I'm at a loss for them now. Let me know of the more unusual tips you've encountered!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

near the garden

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This spring I'm starting something I've never really done before - a vegetable garden. I've made half hearted attempts in the past, but they usually failed miserably. I've enjoyed the bounty from my neighbor's garden, but I feel like a mooch, when they do all the work and share so generously with my family.

I'm still going to kind-of be mooching. I'll be using a corner of my neighbors' garden to put in some vegetables that I'm interested in - 2 varieties of lettuce, kale, red peppers, green beans, onions and garlic. My intent is that it is a sink-or-swim proposition - I don't want to be rescued if I neglect the garden. If I know that someone else will take care of it, I'm much more likely to find excuses to not do it. I think the challenge here will be more if my neighbors can stand to watch me make some no-doubt painfully learned lessons. I'm grateful for the experience that my neighbors can offer me, and for the preparatory tilling that they'll do as they get the garden ready for planting the tomatoes and corn that they usually put in.

I'm sure I'll be asking for lots of advice, like "Is this a weed, or a vegetable plant?" and "Do they really need water so bad that I have to haul it up to the garden?" It is unfortunate that the garden is several hundred yards away from my home and a water source, but on the hill we live on, it's the flattest, sunniest spot available. (Also one of my excuses for not starting a garden before now.)

I hope to have a positive report back in the coming months. I think this will be a great opportunity to get outside, chase a baby who keeps pulling the wrong weeds and eating the dirt, and a confidence booster. I've always wanted to garden, and now I'll find out if it's really all that I think it should be!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

friends' victories

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I was away this past weekend at a youth retreat sponsored by my church. I had the opportunity to visit with some friends, and I noticed that one friend in particular looked like she had lost some weight. Now, I've seen this same friend once a month or so for several years, but sometimes you don't want to speak up about noticing changes if you're not sure why the change is happening. I figured though, that it's obvious that she's been working on getting healthier, so I asked about it.

She went on to tell me that she's lost 60 pounds in the last year, all through the one principle that is the only way to effectively loose weight to get to being fit and healthy for life: burn more calories than you eat. Or, some might say eat less, exercise more. She made lots of changes in her life, and most of them she found through reading Bob Greene's book Best Life Diet. I haven't read this book myself, but I just picked it up from my local library yesterday. I'm interested to see what new thing I can learn from this lifestyle book.

She told me her family purchased an eliptical machine, and she started out only able to handle 5 minutes a day on the easiest setting. Now she can go for more than a half hour on the most difficult setting. She is involved in community walks, and feel energy to keep up with all the kids in the youth group. Her husband has lost weight, too, and her college-age children are excited and supportive about their parents' healthier lives.

So celebrate with me! It's great when some one finds the tools and the motivation to make positive changes in their lives. Do you have any triumphs to share? Tell us so we can be encouraged by them, too!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

in state legislative news...

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Perhaps most of you don't give a hoot about what's happening in Missouri regarding midwives and licensure. I do care, so as a responsible citizen, I'm keeping the rest of you up to date on what's happening in the legislative process.

Apparently, the Senate uses something like Google's Gmail Custom Time. Today is April 1, at least for the next hour or so, in the Central Time Zone. Last I knew, Jefferson City was also in the Central Time Zone, although I'm sure there are many people who would attest to that area of the state being in some kind of time warp. Looking at the Senate's bill page tells me that the last action on SB 1021 was on April 2, 2008. Neat trick.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that the bill is on the informal calendar. Apparently, there was some concern that the senator responsible for placing bills on the calendar would hold out on this one, but there it is as a bill for perfection. Whatever that means. (So I'm not that into everything legislative.) However, on a quick search of the terms "missouri bills for perfection" I found a nice summary of the process of passing a bill in the Missouri legislature. Thanks, Google.


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My recent experience with sickness-induced fasting got me thinking about fasting as a method of improving one's health and fitness, especially for those of us who are overweight. From the outset, I'd like to say that fasting for the purpose of losing weight is a poor idea at best, and down right dangerous at worst.

One thing to be considerate of with fasting is that it can cause the body to go into a reduced metabolism, which would reduce the number of calories burned. If you're fasting specifically for the purpose of loosing weight, you'll have a tough time getting to your goal this way. Another problem with fasting for weight loss is that you're trying to address the symptom (excess weight) with a "quick fix." You might get rid of a few pounds this way, but like other yo-yo diets, you'll probably gain it back, and more. Letting go of extra weight on your body, and becoming a fit person is something that you need to do for life - fasting is not a sustainable lifestyle, and any diet or regimen that is not truly sustainable isn't for you.

My personal experience was that the forced fasting helped to reset my body's food gauge. I find that whenever I'm sick such that I loose my appetite, I find that for the next few days I don't eat as much. I suspect that if I were watchful, I could take advantage of the reset, and keep to the smaller portion size standard, instead of stuffing myself back to my previous portion sizes. Still, though, the better choice would be to learn to moderate portion sizes at all times.

I have fasted for spiritual purposes, and find it to be a valuable exercise. I know of others who have fasted as part of a "cleanse" and thought it was very helpful as well. Just be sure that if you are considering fasting, that you do your research, and understand the real reason behind choosing to fast. In spite of the name, fasting does not feel quick. I know when I'm not eating if feels like forever until I get to eat again!
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