Monday, September 28, 2009

FMM: I MUST have it!

It's Friend Makin' Monday time again! :-) This week's topic is an easy one for me. It's all about what I need. So, here goes.

List a few things you cannot live without.

I'm taking this list to mean extras - things other than food, water, oxygen, etc. So, here are my must-haves:

My family

(This picture was taken last October.)


Dr Pepper



My computer/Internet

So, how about you? What your must-haves?


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Check-in time

It has been three weeks since I first post about getting myself back in shape. (You can read that here, if you'd like.) I thought I should post a quick update as to my progress.

Keep in mind the fact that my main difference is watching what I'm eating. I'm trying to eat no more than 2,000 calories per day. I haven't started into a lot of exercise yet. I am walking more than I had been, but I haven't done much more than that. Yet. I do plan to do more. But, for now, I'm concentrating on my calorie intake first. That said, I'm happy to announce that it's working! I've been steadily losing weight! My average is slightly above 1 lb. per week, and I think that is great! At that rate, I'll be down 50 lbs. at the end of a full year! I can live with that! ;-)

For now, I am pleased to share that I have lost ...

SEVEN pounds!

Yes, that doesn't sound like much, but when you take into account that I started this five weeks ago, I think that's pretty darn good!

My main reason for deciding to post an update is I'm starting to lose some steam. I had decided to share my journey here in part to keep me accountable, so I must update occasionally to maintain that! But, I currently am struggling a bit. I want to lose the weight. I want to get back to my pre-baby weight - or at least out of the plus-sizes! But, it's hard. It's hard to be constantly disciplined and constantly keeping track of what's coming in. It's especially hard because I LOVE to eat out. Generally, eating out is not conducive to losing weight! Plus, I HATE coffee. When I need a boost, I grab a Dr Pepper, but that's not so smart when trying to lose weight! Those are a LOT of wasted calories!

I'm trying to focus on the good - I'm losing weight. If I keep on keeping on, I will find my way back to ME! I cannot WAIT for that to happen!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It could be worse

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It's that time again

Time for Friend Makin' Monday! Well, it was yesterday. Mondays are too busy for me most of the time, but I figure better late than never, right? That said, Amber once again hosted it, and this week's is regarding fall TV.

What are some of your favorite fall shows?

I actually don't have a lot fall shows that are favorites. A few of mine (E.R., Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone) have been canceled. There are many new shows I'm excited about, but I can't call them favorites without having seen them! Then there are the shows that won't start until winter (24, Lost). So, my list of fall shows is short. But, here it is:
  1. Private Practice ~ I cannot wait to see what happens with Violet!
  2. The Mentalist ~ I'm not sure what it is, but I just love this show! I'm bummed that it's at the same time as PP, but that's what TiVo is for, right?
  3. The Office ~ My husband watches this one more than I do, but I occasionally will watch with him.
  4. 30 Rock ~ Another one of my hubby's favorites. While it can be hilarious, it just doesn't usually do anything for me. I could take it or leave it. But, since I sometimes watch it with him - and since it's the last fall "favorite" - I'll leave it on the list!
And that's all! There are several new shows (The Forgotten, FlashForward, Modern Family, The Good Wife) that I'm looking forward to. Gotta fill the void left by my old - and now GONE - favorites! ;-)

So, how about you? What are YOUR favorite fall TV shows?


Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review: One Tuesday Morning

One Tuesday Morning (9/11 Series, Book 1) One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book I've ever read by Karen Kingsbury, and it was a good one to start with. While it's not some of the best writing I've ever read, the story is EXCELLENT and absolutely captivating. It also was probably the most heart-wrenching thing I have read in a VERY long time. I can't remember the last book that literally had me choking back tears through a good portion of it!

I like that it's faith-based fiction. It's so cool to have characters who do what I do in times of crisis - pray. Ask God for help. Cry out to God in desperation. And I absolutely love that it's a modern-day redemption story. While it had a happy ending for some characters, the endings for others was absolutely heart-breaking.

I did find that the story was a little predictable. Even before the events in the South Tower occurred, I knew who'd survive. I don't know if that was the intent, but there was enough foreshadowing that I couldn't miss it. My only other problem was an inconsistency in the plot. Throughout most of the book, the little girl named Sierra is said to be four years old. But, at one point shortly before the terrorist attacks occur, the narrative says she's "age five." I can't decide whether that's a small error or a big one. But, it's an error nonetheless.

That said, I already have the sequel, Beyond Tuesday Morning, in my possession and will be starting it shortly. I look forward to seeing what's next!

View all my reviews >>

Click here to purchase One Tuesday Morning (September 11 Series #1)


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Review: The Case for Christ

The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a very, very good book. I almost gave it four stars. I think that, for me, it's because I've been a Christian for as long as I can remember. I didn't really need logical proof of Jesus. I know Jesus, and this just backed it up for me. But, the amount of archeological and historical evidence backing up what I've always known to be true is astounding. That is why I decided on five stars. To see this all written out, the evidence in black and white, right there on the page. It makes me want to perhaps read more of the reference books listed. Not because I need proof - I don't. But because it's just fascinating.

If you've ever believed something in faith - meaning, having no concrete proof, but you still believe - you might get what I'm talking about. You know something, but have no way of proving it. Until you stumble upon something that gives you some hard-to-ignore evidence. For me, it was seeing that SCIENCE can back up a spiritual, eternal truth. Just amazing.

I fully intend to read a couple more of Lee Strobel's books, especially The Case for a Creator and The Case for the Real Jesus. I cannot wait to see more evidence to back up what I've already known to be true!

I highly recommend this for anyone and everyone. If you're a long-time Christian like I am, this is an AMAZING book to read. It's exciting and just mind-blowing to know that the New Testament has been highly researched and mostly determined to be an accurate historical record! If you're not a Christian, I urge you to read it. Try to have an open mind. I think you'll be amazed by what you learn.

View all my reviews

Click here to purchase The Case for Christ


Thursday, September 10, 2009

So pretty

I think I am finally completely done with the graphic parts of my blog redesign - I think I am. The final touch (not counting text tweaks I'm planning) is my button.
Ramblings & More
Isn't that pretty? In my sidebar is a spot where you can snag it to use, if you feel so inclined!

Speaking of my sidebar, there's also a widget for earning money for charity. For now, I've chosen, which helps classrooms in need. It costs you (and me) NOTHING. Just click on the box and take the fun survey! (It is fun, I promise. I just took one about which new Melrose Place character I am most like! LOL)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I have a beautiful new signature I wanted to test. Yes, it's one more thing done by The Cutest Blog on the Block! They do AWESOME work. I'm almost done with the design part of the blog redesign. After that, I'll be tweaking font colors and sizes - something I can do without help! ;-) Thanks for your patience - and feedback - as I slowly make this transition!


Monday, September 7, 2009


I finally have my BEAUTIFUL banner up! :-) The wonderful ladies (at least I spoke with a lady) at The Cutest Blog on the Block made it - and my background - just for me! I absolutely LOVE both and am so happy with how they turned out! :-)

I still have to tweak my colors and stuff. Just haven't had a moment to do it yet. But, that will be soon. I've moved my items in the sidebar around, and removed a few things. Overall, I'm satisfied. I was hoping to add a really neat animated label cloud, but I cannot get it to work! :-( I'm so sad. I know I've added the coding where it needs to be, but apparently I'm missing something. It comes up blank. (And, yes, if yours works and you think you can help me, PLEASE DO! I have no pride! ;-) ) I am trying to let it go. I'm generally happy with my blog - I think it is absolutely GORGEOUS now - and I'm trying not to let one defeat get to me. Still, it'd be nice if I could figure out how to make it work!

Friend Makin' Monday: Fall Favorites

Friend Makin' Monday is again hosted by Amber. This week's question is all about fall. 

What are your favorite things about fall?
First and foremost for me is football! Both on the professional and college level. LOVE me some football!

Second for me is the beautiful fall foliage - especially where I live. By the Mississippi River, where there are bluffs and hills galore. The scenery is GORGEOUS!

Also, I really enjoy Halloween. I don't dress up, but it's fun to dress up the kiddos and see them have a blast! Plus, what's not to love about free candy! LOL

And Thanksgiving! Can't leave that one out. It's one of my favorite holidays.

Finally, the end portion of fall brings two of my favorite days: my birthday and my son's birthday! While we're both December babies, both days occur before the technical first day of winter (December 21 or 22).

So, what about you? What are your favorite things about fall? If you blog about it, please post a link in the comments here so we can find you!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Book Review: Baby Proof

Baby Proof Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first started reading this book, I wasn't liking it. I wasn't hating it, either, but I found the main character someone I just couldn't like and couldn't take seriously. But, as I read and the book progressed, I was able to see Claudia growing and changing. Her growth made her someone I could at least be interested in, although I'm not sure I could say I actually liked her. But, I liked the story - her growth, her family members' growth, and even her best friend's growth. That's one thing I like about this book - the characters are well-written and not shallow.

I considered giving this three stars, but settled on four because of the way the characters grow and develop. I think that, while the subject of the story is something I just cannot relate to, it is very well-written and handled in a way that makes it a good read. It had me hooked pretty early in the book, which is always a good sign. I wanted to see how Claudia ended up feeling about things. I wanted to see if she'd change her mind or be stubborn. I hoped there would be a happy ending. Plus, I liked it a bit more than I'd liked Something Blue, and I decided that warranted a higher rating.

All in all, Baby Proof is a good read, but definitely not Emily Giffin's best work.

View all my reviews >>

Click here to purchase Baby Proof

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Time for Change

A few weeks ago, my husband and I met up with a friend from college. This man also happened to graduate from high school with us, but we didn't really "travel" in the same circles. Somehow he and my husband became friends in college (we all went to the same school), and even were roommates for a year. This friend of ours also was a groomsman in our wedding. He and his wife just had their first baby, while we've now had three.

Originally, I thought this meeting was just going to be my husband and our friend, but was called last-minute to find out our friend would like to meet our kids and say hi to me, too. I don't know why, but I immediately was embarrassed - even before meeting up. Embarrassed by how fat I've gotten. How out of shape I am. Three babies in less than 4.5 years is hard on the body, but my youngest is almost two. Some women are back in shape by the time they go back to work - I'm not one of them. Some women found breastfeeding helped them lose the weight - again, I'm not one of them. Some women lose the weight after weaning their child - once again, I'm not one of them. I'm the heaviest I've been (non-pregnant) ever in my life. And I'm not happy about it.

The prospect of meeting with our "old" friend was a bit of a wake-up call. I realized how ridiculous it is that I am embarrassed of myself. I realized how horrible it is that it made me realize how much I hate what I've become. I realized that something has got to change! It is time for me to work to lose this baby weight. Time for me to stop making excuses for myself. Time for me to slim down and feel better about myself.

I have since signed up with MyFitnessPal to help me log my daily food intake and exercise - as well as get some ideas as to what I need to change (aside from the obvious eat less and exercise more). I was shocked to see the number of calories I took in that first day - over 3,000! Since then, I've successfully cut back to no more than 2,000 per day. The eventual goal is to aim for 1,500 calories per day. (I started out trying for 1,500 but was STARVING, and decided it was too much too soon.) So far, I have lost roughly 3 pounds - seems to be the average when taking daily fluctuations into account. I'm proud of myself for that, but this is HARD. Very hard!

I never was a big eater before pregnancy. Pregnancy taught me to appreciate food in a way I'd never done previously. It broadened my still-narrow horizons, and helped me learn to like foods I'd never liked before. Problem is, once my body was done being pregnant, it seemed to still want the same quantities of food. My body seemed to forget how to fuel itself under normal, non-pregnant (and non-breastfeeding) conditions. So, right now, I'm working on cutting back. I have foods I really like, and I tend to overindulge. So, I am now working on allowing myself the foods I love, but in limited quantities.

The other major cutback is my daily Dr Pepper intake. I LOVE my Dr Pepper. It is my coffee. But, that first day of logging what I eat, I couldn't believe how much of my calorie intake was from the Dr Pepper. I decided I had to cut back. Since then, I've had no more than one can of Dr Pepper during the course of any given day. It's amazing the difference from that alone. Not in the weight loss, which so far is minimal, but in how I feel. To my surprise, I actually have more energy now. I have less gas - a LOT less gas. And I think I even have less of my GERD. Who knew such a small, seemingly insignificant, change could make such a huge difference!

At this point, I'm trying HARD not to get discouraged. These things take time. Losing weight slowly, while less gratifying, is better. People who lose the weight more slowly are more likely to keep it off. At least that's what I've heard. So, I thought that maybe I should write about it. For one, it helps keep me accountable. It also can help motivate me.

Speaking of motivation, I have made a list of the reasons for my decision to lose this baby weight. They are:
  • I want to wear my wedding and engagement rings again.
  • I want to look good again.
  • I want to feel good about myself.
  • I never want to be embarrassed by my size again.
  • I want to wear normal clothes - no more plus sizes.
  • I want to be healthy.
  • I want to be a good example for my children - especially my girls.
  • I want to please my husband - and make him proud of me.
So far, I've lost only a few pounds. But, it's enough that I can happily say that I'm lighter than I was at the end of my first pregnancy. While that doesn't seem like much, it's a big deal for me. Next up is to get down to my pre-Natalie weight. I know I can do it. I plan to reward myself, but I haven't yet decided how. Maybe I'll get my hair done - new style, new color(s), etc. We'll see. I have time!

If you care to follow my progress, I have added a button to this blog (right now it's at the bottom of my sidebar) that says how much weight I've lost. Hopefully I'll have double digits in there soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Google Sucks

I never thought I'd see the day when I say that, but I'm ticked. Ever since they acquired FeedBurner, I've had nothing but problems. My feed doesn't display correctly, and I have no idea how to fix it. Their troubleshooting comes up with issues, but I haven't the slightest idea how to go about fixing these issues. Check out my blog's feed, and you'll see what I'm talking about. I've been trying unsuccessfully for quite some time now to figure this out. And, there appears to be NO WAY to contact support about this! I am ticked - and considering ditching the product altogether. The reason I have it, though, is primarily so people can subscribe by e-mail. That works - I know it does. I've tested it. And twitterfeed works, too. But, if I try to view my site's actual FeedBurner feed, I get nothing.

While I use lots of Google products - AdSense, Blogger (obviously), their search engine, Gmail, etc. - I am just fed up. Unfortunately, when everything's working properly, I'm a Google fan. And, really, I don't see that changing. BUT, I don't particularly appreciate the lack of support. If they're going to kill FeedBurner, then do it already. I just wish they'd allow for e-mail subscriptions built into Blogger.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: Beyond Road's End

Beyond Road's End: An Alaskan Journey Beyond Road's End: An Alaskan Journey by Janice Schofield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I honestly wasn't too thrilled about it. I signed up for it because the description sounded a little interesting, and I figured "why not?" Were it not for Goodreads, I never would've glanced at this book twice.

That said, I was surprised. It actually held my interest - and the latter half I just kept wanting to read, find out how it all ended. The last part covers the Exxon Valdez oil spill - which I remember vaguely from my childhood. Reading a local's account is heart-wrenching! That whole situation saddens me to this day, and now it will more than ever before.

I now find myself much more interested in actually visiting Alaska. While I'm not one for cold, I now think I'd like to see it first-hand. I suppose I could go during the summer months. Anyway, this book made me actually want to see Alaska - whereas before I just thought it'd be neat to see.

All of that said, I must say that the characters are a bit - how shall I say it - eccentric. There's talk of listening to voices and spirit forces and whatnot. Being as this is a memoir, I have to take it at face value. It's not something I'd do - or care to do - my life, but to each their own.

I actually wanted to give this book 3.5 stars, but that's not an option - so, four it is. It was an enjoyable read. Anyone even remotely curious about Alaska likely would enjoy it.

View all my reviews >>

Click here to purchase Beyond Road's End: Living Free in Alaska

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm getting there

I have my blog in a condition I can live with - overnight. I'll be back to fix things like colors and photo borders/margins sometime tomorrow. My husband is working a super-long day tomorrow, though, so it might not be until after the kiddos get to bed. Anyway, thank you for your patience as I - once again - strive to make my blog as much ME as it can be! :-)

Under construction - again

In case you haven't noticed, the site is currently under construction. I have long found designs by The Cutest Blog on the Block to be absolutely GORGEOUS. I recently decided that I wanted something by them that matched my current color scheme. So, I decided to pay for a custom background. They gave me three to choose from, and that was a TOUGH call. Their designer is AMAZING. I chose my favorite, which you now see here.

As you can see, I feel the need to tweak other things to make this background show as beautifully as possible. So, I'm tweaking margins, widths, etc. Of course, I completely forgot about using my test blog for this - which is why I'm making this post. I apologize profusely for the current discombobulated state of things around here. I have decided to finish my tweaking over on my test blog, and will fix this ASAP. Please bear with me!

As an aside, I'm considering purchasing a header/banner to match the background. They do an excellent job, don't they?

Yeah, I know, it's Tuesday

But, the ONE week I stop looking for Friend Makin' Monday, it's back! LOL Figures, huh? But, I figure, better late than never, right?

Apparently, it's going to be hosted by Amber for a little bit, while Kasey takes a break. Lord knows I can understand that! Thank you, Amber, for taking it on! So, here I go.

1. Do you cook every night?
Nope. My wonderful husband cooks most nights.

2. What kind of laundry detergent do you use & why?

I use Tide HE. Because it's what my washer needs.

3. Do you do laundry every day or loads at a time?

LOL This is a loaded (pardon the unintentional pun) question! I often end up devoting a day or two to getting laundry done, but I'd like to do one load every day. Now that school's back in session, I think I can get that habit going - FINALLY!

4. How often do you eat out per week?
TOO much. It varies from week to week, but we definitely need to work on this!

5. Where do you usually eat out?
Drive-thru: McDonald's, Culver's, Sonic, Jimmy John's
Eat-in: Chili's, Village Inn, sometimes Culver's

6. What is your favorite retail store?

7. What's your favorite thing to drink?
Dr Pepper, but I'm working on drinking it less and drinking more water.

8. Do you take vitamins? What kind?
I should, but generally don't. Occasionally, I'll take one or two of the kids' gummy vitamins when giving them theirs.

9. What percentage of the household chores to you do?
I'm honestly not sure. DH does cooking, washes dishes, vacuums (most of the time), and deals with the outside stuff. I generally do most of the rest of it.

10. Do your children do chores? {Or will they, did they, etc}
A little bit. Abby feeds the dog, helps feed the cats, helps us clean when we ask, puts away her own laundry. The other two, not so much.

11. Do you go to church?
No. It's been a LONG time. It's not that we don't want to go - it's getting there that's the problem.

12. Do you have a housework schedule?
No, but perhaps I should create one. Maybe I'd actually get stuff done around here!

13. Do you keep a working budget?
No. We're horrible about that. We keep saying we need to make one, but so far haven't.

14. What do you do at night as a family?
Dinner, hang out (outside when it's warm), watch TV when there's something we all like

15. How do you prepare yourself for a new week?
I don't really, except trying to get the laundry finished over the weekend.

16. What do your mornings look like?
Abby and Grant are getting up between 6 and 7 most mornings. I get up with them. Get myself dressed, tell Abby to get dressed, get Grant dressed. Make them breakfast. My husband drops Abby off at school on his way to work, and I drop Grant off at school about 45 minutes later. Natalie is our wild card. She sometimes wakes with the other two, sometimes wakes when we're eating, other times I have to wake her before leaving with Grant. Those times, she eats after we drop him off.

17. What time do you get up in the mornings?
By 7.

18. What time do you go to bed at night?

I'm working on getting to bed earlier. Nowadays, it seems to be between 10:30 and 11:30.

19. How do you manage all of the paperwork that floods into your household? {bills, school work, magazines, ads, etc}
I have a filing cabinet I use for school stuff and other such things. I have what I call my bill book for bills - it's a 3-ring binder with pocket folders inside. Each folder is for a month. There's a sheet of paper with a grid of due date, payee, amount due, amount paid, date paid, check number (or online transaction). Other papers - well, we're trying to figure out a good system for those.

20. How do you keep your household organized? {calendars, charts, etc}
Mostly calendars. I rely on Google's calendar - I would forget most things without the e-mail reminders!
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