"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall Stuff (and lack of chocolate)

It’s been a good Saturday…a lazy family day of the very best kind. Ryan just helped Ryley and her friend solidify their blanket fort with duct tape, and they are finally tucked in for the night in their tiny, self-made home.

Today we did pumpkin stuff at our local nursery. It’s always more fun with a friend…







But instead of doing our customary carving, we decided to let the girls paint their pumpkins. This is the first time since Ryley was a baby that we haven’t carved our pumpkin. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for the mess, you know?


I believe the pumpkins’  names are Susanna and Tasha. At least that’s what I was told.


Almost overnight, Ryley has become gangly. I think she’s grown an inch in the last week. She is always getting hurt on our stairs, on our coffee table, in her room, outside, etc., etc., etc. Always a sign of growth. Look at those long legs….


She’s also maturing. In the last few weeks she’s been finding that we (her mommy and daddy) are funny. She suddenly understands irony and little inside jokes Ryan and I have shared all along….We’ll be talking and joking about something, and she’ll just start laughing in honest appreciation of the humor. It’s been fun. She really likes wordplays and puns.

We had her parent/teacher conference this last week, and after a tough few weeks at school, Ryan and I went in to the conference with a plan of things we wanted to address. We don’t want to be those parents who think their kid is perfect, but since we do know our daughter best, we had some ideas for the teachers. For instance, when they are constantly on her case and issuing “strikes” for talking or other negative behavior, she gradually spirals downward. She gets a lot of strikes. Whether she deserves them or not, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mercy, and sometimes I just want to say, “Give the girl a break!” When I pick her up in the afternoons, many times all she can talk about is how horrible of a day it was and how she just can’t do anything right. That then affects her attitude going into the next day. We know her heart, and we know that she really wants to please. So we suggested to her teachers that if they reinforce her when she is acting correctly, it might help her stay on track throughout the day. The very next day, she came home so excited (she doesn’t know that we talked to them about it) because she received so many compliments and no strikes! This continued to be the trend for the majority of the week. She’s still going to deserve strikes at times, but I think the teachers got the point. In Ryley’s case, when you encourage her, she keeps it up. There’s nothing she likes more than a compliment. I was so nervous about talking to the teachers about it, but Ryan reminded me, “They’re just kids. We’re her parents.” It seemed to work out ok. :-)


We had our first snow of the season on Wednesday, and funnily enough, there was more snow than we’ve received in any storm in the last two years. We had five or six inches at our house. 



It’s all melted now, but there is hope for more this week. We don’t mind. :-)


Last weekend we had our Girl Scout ceremony.



Ryley wore my uniform from when I was a Brownie. But she is taller than I was, so it is quite short on her. So instead of wearing it as a jumper, she wore it as a long shirt over jeans. It was actually pretty cute!



Last weekend she and I also went on a little date to see Alice in Wonderland, the play. It was a children’s theater, and they only charge $6 per person, but it was so fun.


The actors involve children in their performances, so Ryley was called on stage to participate in the tea party scene.


She loved it! We will definitely have to go back there for more performances.

Then, after the performance, we also had some fun in the park, since we knew the snow was on the way….


Ryley found these leaves this way in the shape of a heart and begged me to take a picture…




Ryan took this lovely picture of Denver…


And also this one of Game Night…



And now for a quick “wellness” update….

It’s now been 41 days, and I am getting into a good groove, as long as I take time to plan and shop for our meals for the week. One thing my nutritionist has done is equip me with dozens of healthy recipes. I think that’s key. A low-carb diet seems impossible to implement until you know exactly what you can replace your old diet with.

So we’ve tried a delicious spicy chicken tomato soup, some sweet potato fries, a not-so-delicious minestrone soup, and an interesting and colorful tuna salad:


Some recipes are hits, and others aren’t. But I’m learning for myself that it doesn’t always matter if it tastes good. Tasting good is merely a bonus these days, not a necessity.

I have lost 17 pounds. I tried to eat some McDonalds French fries a couple weeks ago, and within an hour I felt nauseated and headachy. Crazy. I was craving bacon and sausage one morning, so I got some (thinking that it would be ok because they’re protein), and I literally couldn’t finish them I felt so sick. That scares me a little, because those are things I don’t want to give up forever! But if they don’t make me feel good, I guess we’ll see. It felt good to know that my body has gotten so used to fresher, healthier items that it rejects the other stuff.

Also, we noticed such a big difference in my energy level between the Broncos game we attended in August and the next one we attended a couple weeks ago. There is always a lot of walking and stair-climbing involved, and seriously, after the August game, I was considering seeing if we could sell my ticket to the remaining games. It was so painful! But this last one was much easier for me and so enjoyable. We’re going again tomorrow, and I am excited.

So that’s the scoop. It’s been good, and I am feeling better, though I have noticed some increased irritability. I’ve been incredibly impatient with traffic and stupid people, and I even screamed at a co-worker over the phone the other day. Yeah.

I kind of think it’s the lack of chocolate in my diet, but whatever. ;-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Few New Things (“We Are Fast-Food People”)

Happy Autumn! Colorado is fully emerged in beautiful fall colors and crisp, cool temperatures right now, and I love it. It’s time for sweaters and socks and chili and (though I know deep down that it’s still too soon) cozy fires in the fireplace.

I got a little crazy a few weeks ago when the leaves first began to change and insisted that Ryley pose for a few pictures outside in the rain before the leaves all fell off the trees and fall was all over.


But as you can see, fall had just barely begun at that point, and now, weeks later, the leaves are still on the trees, and the colors are even more brilliant than they were. Silly me. These pictures, with their puny amount of branches in gold, look awfully silly. :-)


Oh, well. :-)

We did come across this little grove one night on our walk, though. Very pretty!




We’ve experienced lots of “new,” as well as several changes in the last few weeks.

For one, Ryley has decided to join Girl Scouts again, and I was asked to be her Brownie troop’s co-leader. So this weekend, while Ryan and Ryley enjoyed a nice Saturday together, I was stuck at a random church doing Girl Scout leadership training with 100 other Type-A mothers of little girls. :-)  But I know Ryley’s excited for me to be involved. We’ll see how I feel come January when I have hundreds of cases of Girl Scout cookies in our garage. Better yet, we’ll see how Ryan feels at that point. He doesn’t yet know that that’s part of the deal. ;-)

Ryley has also decided to join her school’s after-school Drama Club (which seems to be a really good fit for her), as well as Odyssey of the Mind, which is a group of students that practices “thinking outside the box” to create solutions to a variety of problems. They then compete against other schools in the spring. So suddenly, Ryley is staying after school several days a week doing “extra-curricular activities,” and she’s such a big girl. I know this is only the beginning, and it makes me a little wistful for the days when she was so tiny and cuddly and wanted me to pick her up at 3 p.m. But I’m also glad she likes to be involved in everything. It’s a trait she gets from me. :-)

I have gained a freelance writing opportunity that I am really excited about, writing out people’s Christian testimonies to be published in books that churches will then distribute as witnessing tools in their communities.  It’s actually a really interesting idea.  I am nervously awaiting my first assignment. It’s one thing to edit other people’s writing (what I’m used to!); it’s quite another to be the writer…to have to interview people over the phone for hours and then make sure I accurately and perfectly put their stories into words, only to be edited by others. The challenge excites me and intimidates me all at once. I look forward to getting started.

Since June, we have been attending a different church from the one we’ve been involved in over the past seven years. It all happened very suddenly. We weren’t looking for a change per se. Ryan’s cousin had started a church, Jesus Church, just 10 minutes from our house, and we had heard so many good things about it.  So one Sunday, Ryan was working, and Ryley was throwing some attitude about getting ready, so we were running super late. I just made a quick decision: “You know what? We’re going to do something new today.” And so we went to Jesus Church. And we loved it. And we took Ryan back the next Sunday, and he loved it. And we’ve been there ever since. I haven’t been sure how the switch affects some of the ongoing editing projects I was involved in, like SHINE Magazine, so we’ve been hesitant to commit completely. Until this week. At church on Sunday, we had so many “moments” within the sermon and with the fellowship that just served to release us from our old church. We feel complete peace with our decision to switch. I hope to still be used in those editing projects if I’m able to, but if not, it’s ok. We’re excited about church, and it’s honestly been a long time since I’ve felt that way. Is it ok to be honest about that? And it’s got nothing to do with the old church and has everything to do with me. This is a fresh thing. It reminds me of that scripture: “Behold I will do a new thing, and now it will spring forth.”


I am 31 days into my “wellness journey.” And boy do I have a lot of thoughts about that. :-) Let’s just say it has been a long 31 days, and there are apparently a lot of reasons why I am fat.

For years, I have made fun (in my head) of skinny people who think those plain cookies with the Hershey's kisses on top are so good. This is my thing: Why bring those to a party, when you could bring gooey chocolate brownies? Or German chocolate bars? Or pretty much anything with whipped cream?

Who seriously prefers an oatmeal raisin cookie to a chocolate chip cookie?

This might sound strange, but I’ve never ever felt guilty for eating something delicious. I feel like I am a connoisseur of fine foods and desserts. There is so much goodness in the world to taste and enjoy. It’s obvious to me that if people are content with these health foods, they haven't been exposed to the amazing foods that I have. How can something ever be too rich? Unfortunately, it seems that my lifetime theme of indulgence caught up with me a long time ago.

It still mystifies me that while I have been eating fried chicken all these years, there have been people stressing and obsessing over whether their flour is white or whole wheat. My nutritionist was pretty much horrified at the amount of pasta that we eat, much less the fact that Ryan works at a restaurant called “Noodles & Company.” She told me she only has spaghetti once every six months because she doesn’t really like it.

Things I've thought we were doing right (mediocre choices maybe, but not unhealthy) disgusted my nutritionist.

Really, I’m learning I have to take all the advice with a grain of salt. ;-)

I told my grandma, “I can’t believe how much I’ve been doing wrong.”

“No, not wrong,” she answered. “Normally.”

Even so, I promised I would do it for 30 days….no breads, pasta, processed foods, sweets, dairy, soda pop, or coffee. I’ve only cheated three times, and those were minor cheats. I’ve been taking three different vitamin supplements and trying to eat much more wholesome foods, like fruits, veggies, nuts, and lean meats, and lots of cilantro, avocado, and cinnamon wherever I can fit them in.

I’m learning to eat to live, not live to eat… to view food as fuel… to "feed" my body, not "stuff" my body. And let me tell you, after 34 years of being me, it is tough to re-train my mindset.

It’s definitely been an education. I had no idea that our grocery store carried flax seed or quinoa or almond milk. Honestly, what are those things? I feel more in touch with our grocery store and more purposeful about my grocery shopping. I’m learning about the merits of protein powders.

I've never been a fad dieter or gone on Weight Watchers. I always knew in my heart that eating naturally was the way to go. It makes sense. God made our bodies; He also made food for it. As my nutritionist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  The problem is that it all tastes so good!!! I've always known that changing one’s food intake to the way God intended would yield results, but I've never been willing to make the sacrifice.  If it was easy, then everyone would do it.

I know I’m extremely heavy, but you have to understand that I don’t feel like I am. I don't feel fat. Yes, I get tired easily. But overall, when I'm sitting, I don’t feel like a fat slob. I feel beautiful. And I credit that to my loving husband who never makes me feel "less" for all the weight I've gained. I am generally surprised at how I look when I see a picture of myself.

I find it amusing when football commentators say, "Wow, this guy is 220 pounds!" As if it’s so huge. Ha!

Anorexics say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Well, I wouldn’t know. It’s actually kind of hard for me to believe that right now. :-)

I want the results, but I don't want to become one of those people that’s obsessed with losing weight and obsessed with talking about it. I know it’s important to be more in control of my food intake, but at what point does preparing three wholesome meals each day become a version of  my food controlling me? 

I keep promising myself that the drastic changes are only experimental...temporary until we get my body where it needs to be. We're not the kind of people who are going to give up hamburgers and spaghetti longterm. And even if there are things I have to decide to give up forever, I hope that someday I can still appreciate that delicious foods exist without having to partake in them.

I have seen results. I can walk through Walmart without my back hurting. I’ve lost 8 pounds (which doesn’t seem like much to me considering how drastic the changes have been). My skin seems clearer, and I sleep better.

My mom was asking Ryley what we were having for dinner, and this was her response:

"I am so tired of my mom making healthy food! My dad and I don't need to eat healthy. We are fast food people."



Here are some images of things we’ve been doing the last few weeks:

The pumpkin weigh-off at our local nursery



We went with our friends Rachel and Emma to Secret Keeper Girl, an event aimed at teaching girls to live lives of purity, even from a young age.



We got to see Tim Tebow’s big 4th quarter comeback at the Broncos game. It was so exciting and fun, even though we lost.


Ryley set up her own jewelry show in our living room after I had a jewelry party. Very cute!


Ryley and her daddy spent a day at the science museum.


And we thoroughly enjoyed the circus!






Good times!

And good night!