Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Disney Side

NOTE:  I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration, which I will describe, and maybe even show photos of in a future post.  Nevertheless, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

We all have a Disney Side, I think.  As you might imagine if you know me in real life, I keep mine well hidden.  And, to be sure, my Disney Side has nothing at all to do with Princesses or Castles or fairy tales.

My first visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida was a typical Klaus family vacation.  My family, as well as many of my mother's siblings and their families wagon-trained it down to Florida from Maryland -- we made it down there in an un-airconditioned VW Bus, circa 1973.

When we arrived for our week-long stay, I was so excited.  The only amusement park I'd ever seen up to that point was Hershey Park, which is A LOT of fun, but is no Walt Disney World.  Everything was so fantastic. The park had just opened a few years before, so everything was shiny and new.  The monorail was a revelation to a country girl like me, as were all the animatronics (I especially loved the Hall of Presidents), all the rides and the shows, and the swimming -- oh my gosh, the swimming.  We didn't have access to a pool when I was a child, so swimming pools were a big deal.  And we not only had a pool at the hotel -- we had River Country.  My goodness, the JOY.

I know that Disney is a multi-media entertainment conglomerate.  I'm not one for the Disney-style princess, nor are my girls.  I don't like some of the treatment Disney has given to female characters. I can't stand the Disney Channel because all the adults on the programs are idiots and all the teens are smart-mouthed meanies.  But, the joy of that first Disney World experience has stuck with me and sweetens my consideration of some of those other factors.  

Added to my technicolor memory of an extraordinary vacation is the more mundane memory of my family gathering to watch The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night.  I loved the whole thing -- the Castle logo with Tinkerbell flitting about, Walt Disney at his desk talking to us like he could really see us, and the movies and programs that enlivened our little domestic scene.  Watching The Wonderful World of Disney was one of the mainstays of our childhood and was something we looked forward to every week.  

Recently, I was selected to be a DisneySide @ Home hostess, meaning that I was given a hostess kit containing everything I'd need to host a party Disney style.  I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to do for it, since I'm not a really wonderful party planner and I didn't want to just slap up a banner and not make some effort.  So.... for my DisneySide @ Home party, I've decided that my theme is going be....

  • We will have Jell-O, preferably lime with pineapple.
  • We will celebrate storytelling (what I think Disney does best) by collaborating on a storyboard.
  • We will investigate the world of Imagineers by building crazy contraptions and scale models of "rides".
  • We will watch clips from The Best of Walt Disney's True Life Adventures
  • We will laugh and have fun and relax with one another and pretend that we are on vacation, circa 1977.  

NOTE:  I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration, which I will describe, and maybe even show photos of in a future post.  Nevertheless, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday, January 24, 2014


My goodness, I feel good.

I've been having a lot of pain these past few weeks -- the cold has settled into my bones and won't go away. My hip joints are screaming at me and telling me to just lie down for a while. My back is wonky and today I was at my desk working for an extended period, so that when I got up, the pain in my joints made me scream.  Chickadee #2 came running in and watched me with concern and solicitude as I moved from a seated to a standing position, joints crackling and creaking the whole way to vertical.  That was not fun, especially seeing the concern in my child's eyes and hearing her try to soothe me.  The roles should be reversed.

Nevertheless, I feel really good today.

Part of it is the fact that the scale showed a downward trend!  Woo hoo!

Part of it is that I stayed on plan today -- completely!  Woo hoo!!

Part of it is that I drank almost all my required water -- if you knew what a horrible struggle that is for me, you'd know why I say, Woo HOO!

Part of it is that I talked to my TSFL yesterday about my goals (the ones I shared here) and talked about the fact that I had not yet started walking daily.  She encouraged me in such a nice way to just get moving somehow, someway and we talked more about the Try-It Triathalon that I want to do in June.

Well, I can tell you -- I am not going out in 9 degree weather to take a walk on icy, slushy streets without sidewalks.  I also had to work today and I looked after some friends' children this afternoon because my friends were working and their children had a half-day of school.  So it was a really busy day for me.

My plans for a lovely turkey dinner made in the crockpot (my husband loves turkey) came to a screeching halt this morning when I saw the price of turkey breast in the grocery store... thirty dollars?No way. We just will have to do without -- there's no way I'm paying 3 bucks a pound for a frozen Butterball turkey breast when I can get an organic, free range turkey from Maple Lawn Farms for less than that.  So, I had to quickly come up with something crock-pot ready, reasonable, and tasty.  Look what I found... Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork with homemade Kansas City Style BBQ sauce.  My gosh -- it was fantastic, with a little homemade coleslaw on the side and a single serving of baked beans (I like them but no one else in the family does).  Bush's Baked Beans sells a 4 oz can -- perfect, especially when you burn them so half stick to the bottom of the pan... automatically one serving. And it was relatively healthy and everyone liked it.  Imagine that.  I thought it was a bit too salty, so next time I will leave the salt out of the crockpot seasoning, but otherwise it was really good.  And the best thing -- Harris Teeter had a Buy One Get One Free deal on pork tenderloin -- and, if you don't buy two, they will sell you one for half price.  So I got a pork tenderloin for eleven dollars -- that will feed our family for at least 3 meals, maybe four.  I'll have to freeze the leftovers.

But that STILL isn't why I feel so empowered.  All day, it was nagging at me that I wanted to get some exercise in.  Yoga was cancelled this week and I really feel the need for it, but I didn't want to commit to the time it takes to do my yoga DVD.  And I wanted to walk.  Just not in a subzero wind chill.

 To the rescue... Amazon Prime, Nintendo Wii, a newly cleaned and clear basement, and Start! Walking with Leslie Sansone 1 & 2 Mile Walk.  Twenty-five minutes and a nice basement floor and I'm done for the day...  It was a little intense there for a few minutes, but I love the fact that there is a countdown clock in the upper left hand side of the screen.  I could look at it and say to myself, "You can do 15 more minutes, right?  Don't wimp out, 9 minutes to go," etc.  Before you know it, I was done and feeling happy because I had committed to doing some cardio exercise today and, by Jove, I did it.

That's the power of exercise, folks, even in little bits.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stop Challenge Choose -- Day 1

Today, I got my first email from Stop, Challenge, Choose today.  In it, I found the following great reminder:

"The #1 reason why people quit is because they look at how far they've got to go.  Not how far they've come,"

and, boy, did that hit home.  That is a problem for me. I spent a few minutes playing with this little BMI calculator and found that, even when (not if, when) I reach my "goal weight,"  I would still be considered "overweight" according to this tool.  And it's going to take a lot of work to get THERE.  So that is discouraging.

However, on the positive side, I did drink water today (and am off to have my second bottlefull right now) and I pretty much stuck to plan (with the exception of 2 yummy peanut butter cookies).  I had a lovely dinner of freshly cooked leafy green spinach, my favorite vegetable, and a reasonable serving of Asian Peanut Noodles with Chicken -- Lightened Up from my newest favorite website.

I did loads and loads of laundry this weekend (and the children actually put away their clothes (I think)).  My husband, who is just magnificent, sacrificed his entire Saturday morning to clean the office I share with the Chickadees and which was in a state that reduced me to tears and made working really difficult.  He also sacrificed his day off today to clean the downstairs playroom and worked with Chickadee #2 to go through her toys to choose the ones she really liked AND he got rid of of the ones she didn't like.

I worked for almost four hours today and cleaned out the fridge and washed the dishes and got dinner together (the main course had been leftover that were frozen, so it was easy).

All in all, it was a productive and good day.  And God talked to me today in the form of Michelle Duggar, of all people.  We had a difficult time with Chickadee #1 today being disrespectful and there was some yelling involved.  Michelle tells it like it is about that.  With God's grace, I'll be doing a lot more whispering in the future.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Man V. Food... or, we are all going to hell

There is a scene in one of the Suzanne Collins's trilogy The Hunger Games that really fascinated and repulsed me and today a television show reminded me of it...

In the scene, Katniss Everdeen is in the corrupt Capital preparing for her appearance on the nationally televised gladiatorial competition. She attends a party where people she has come to like, members of her "team," reveal just how removed they are from the reality of life outside the Capital.  One of them makes a remark that horrifies Katniss.  She learns that party-goers take a pill that acts as an emetic so that they can eat their fill of wonderful gourmet foods, take the pill, vomit it all up, and continue eating.  Thinking of the near-starvation she and all her family and friends experienced in District 12, Katniss is disgusted and horrified.

I felt this way tonight when I stumbled across Man v. Food on The Travel Channel.  It was set in Baltimore, so I thought I'd watch it a while, Charm City being my hometown and all.  The host (Adam Richman) apparently travels throughout the country eating to excess at restaurants that have "food challenges" (like, eat this gallon of ice cream  in ten minutes and you don't have to pay for it).  Tonight's episode featured a restaurant in North East, Maryland that challenges customers to eat something like five different cuts of beef (totally 74 ounces) with a pound of side dishes in one hour.  So this entire show was about watching this guy eat four and half pounds of meat in an hour.  It was truly disgusting.  

In a world where people are starving, why the hell do we have even ONE restaurant that has this stupid publicity stunt of eating until you are sick, let alone enough of them to sustain four seasons of idiotic television.  It is simply the glorification of gluttony.  I'll never watch it again.

Stop, Challenge, Choose

As I've mentioned, I've been doing Medifast (as opposed to Take Shape for Life, which is what I've been supposed to be doing -- Medifast is one component of TSFL) for several months.  As is my pattern, I've kind of been treading water with it, so it's frustrating.

Adding to the frustration is that my husband, as is HIS pattern, decided in May or so that he needed to lose weight and today he came down the steps to announce that he hit the 50 pounds lost mark.  Of course, I'm really happy for him, but I'm also fairly annoyed.  He does this weight loss thing so well.  I won't say effortlessly because it's obviously not effortless.  He's given up a lot of things that he likes, such as pizza, cheese, and red meat and has started to eat things that he swore he just couldn't stomach, like spinach and broccoli.

So HE'S doing wonderfully well.  Me, not so much.  I have lost weight, but with so much to lose, it's just not impressing me too much.  I've been excellent and back on track this week, with the glaring exception of today.  I had a brownie as a snack and pizza for dinner and I know for sure it was because my energy level was incredibly low after a miserable three hours of sleep.

However, my wonderful nutrition counselor and Medifast Coach, called me yesterday to check in and told me about something new that TSFL is doing.  It's called the Stop Challenge Choose 12 Week Health Transformation.  I was up late yesterday watching a video and filling out some goals.  The video was wonderful -- very inspiring.  My takeaways from it:

  • Our expectations drive our achievements.
  • There are three keys to success:
    • Protect your mindset
    • Prepare to win the night before
    • Focus on your single best opportunity.  
Watch it for more (it has snazzy music too).

I want to share my answers to some questions that Stop Choose Challenge  posed as I get ready to begin this 12 week Health Transformation.  I think they kind of show where my head is, particularly 6 (c).    

  1. What is the PRIMARY reason I am doing this transformation?  I am tired of not reaching goals and I want to improve my health.
  2. What are the outcomes you hope to accomplish in the next 12 weeks?  I want to lose 30 pounds
  3. What destructive habits or negative behavior do you hope to overcome?  (a) not drinking water; (b) not exercising with regularity; (c) snacking unhealthily; (d) not staying on plan.
  4. What healthy habits and positive behaviors do you hope to learn and adopt?  (a) Drinking water 'til I slosh; (b) yoga classes and at home yoga (three times a week total) and walking half an hour per day five days per week; (c) staying on plan.
  5. Identify three things that could potentially sabotage your efforts:  (a) Defeatism, (b) overwhelm; (c) restaurants
  6. What three areas of strength can you draw upon to help you achieve your goals?  (a) prayer and meditation; (b) husband's support and encouragement; (c) Desperation.

Monday, January 6, 2014


I can't imagine why it has been so long since I've written. It could have something to do with the fact that the "i" key on my laptop is broken, so it is very irritating to type.  I've tried all the standard techniques for getting the silly faceplate to remain on the key, but they are not working.  A few words into any sentence, and off it pops.  It's a pain.  I mean, do you realize how many "i"'s are in this paragraph?  There are 32.

But that is just an excuse, really.  My Advent was not anything to write about.  It was neither spiritually enriching in terms of preparing for the Birth of the Savior nor exciting in the conventional way of getting ready for "X-Mas".  In fact, from the perspective of the new year, it seems like one long experience of flatness, of lack.  No Christmas cookies were made.  Chickadee #2 was begging throughout Advent to put up the Christmas tree.  It went up on the Sunday before Christmas, which was a Wednesday.  We didn't put up Christmas lights outside until the Friday after Christmas.  Now it's the Feast of the Epiphany, and I feel almost as if the Christmas season has gone without having been noticed, except for the work.  This is entirely my fault, and I am sorry for it.  But perhaps it's something that I had to go through in order get to someplace better, and I do feel better now that 2014 is here.

There were some bright spots...  Chickadee #2 and I sang in the Christmas Eve concert at our parish.  It was a beautiful thing to share the gift of music with her. We both love to sing and it was fun to see her trying so hard and being so serious about it. She also had the role of "Angel of the Lord" in the pantomime that accompanied the reading of the Gospel.  She was adorable as were all the children.  Christmas Eve, or Wigilia, is the highlight of the year for my extended family on my mother's side.  I have twenty-one first cousins on that side of the family (48 on the other -- at the very least, a tangential part of my DNA will endure).  I loved seeing my cousins and their children and the feeling of warmth and love among people who have known me my whole life was wonderful, as usual.

But, all in all, it was not a great Christmas.  A former classmate of mine wrote a column for Catholic Digest that captures my feelings better than I can.  I'm glad to know I'm not alone in not always riding the happy train.