Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's Going On?

My thoughts are everywhere the last few days--I feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions!  I'm not really sure why I feel so scattered--I'm getting more sleep than I usually do, I'm finally exercising regularly, and there's really nothing pressing happening right now.  I was just sitting down last night feeling thankful that the stress of the holidays is over and we don't really have anything big on the horizon...yet I still feel anxious?  I can't quite put my finger on the cause of my anxiety, but it may have to do with the fact that I'm trying to cram all my regular stuff into a shorter period of time every day.

how is it the end of January already?
My Challenge for a healthier lifestyle means that I'm going to bed by or before midnight most nights--cutting my days shorter by almost 2 hours when compared to my pre-Challenge hours.  That's a lot of time!  I tend to get a lot done in the wee hours of the morning, when the house is quiet and I have time with my own thoughts--I organize my calendar, catch up on emails, balance the checkbook...that kind of thing.  So without those hours to myself, I'm working those tasks into the daylight hours (or not accomplishing them at all?).  Our family calendar has been particularly stressful for me the last few weeks--I can't seem to get a handle on our days and feel very off-kilter about it.  Normally, I know the day's or week's activities off the top of my head, but when the kids were so sick for so long, they missed gymnastics and dance classes, and now we're adding make-up classes to our regular schedule of classes to make up for those sick days.  Abby's dance teacher got sick this week, and rescheduled her dance class twice, making my head spin a bit.  The 2nd make-up for that class conflicted with her make-up gymnastics class this week, so I had to reschedule that.  You know, that's just how it's been going--I can't keep up!

I'm also really grateful to be able to work out three evenings a week with these classes I've started, but the rush of those evenings is tough.  I leave home at 5pm (inevitably running out the door with barely time to say hello to Dan as he comes in to relieve me), and I get back home around 6:30pm.  Last night, I came in all sweaty and tired from a really fun Zumba class, and went straight into the kitchen to fix dinner, then cleaned up the kitchen, then Dan and I got the kids in bed...and I didn't sit down until after 8pm.  I wrenched my back on Monday (jumping to get an errant helium balloon off the ceiling...grrrr), and I've been in quite a bit of pain from that--thankfully, I was able to do the step class Monday night, and I did Zumba last night while hopped up on Motrin.  I've been sitting with a warm compress on my back since Monday--every time I sit down, I put the compress on.  It's not helping.  I think the pain is contributing to my anxiousness--I just want to be back to normal again!  I want to be feeling good, because I'm eating healthy and being it's just a bummer to be hurting (and the soreness in my calves from that darn step class hasn't helped!).

Carrying this around counts as weight training, right?

I think I just need to work on my daily efficiency--it's really hard when I have two little boys at home who love to play and always want me to play with them!  Since I don't really have anything big upcoming, it's hard to motivate myself to do the mundane tasks of running this household--the cleaning, the laundry, etc.  I've had a bottle of Fantastik and paper towels sitting in the downstairs bathroom for the last week...just waiting to be used to clean something!  I think I feel anxious because I don't think I'm doing enough--but the kids are healthy and happy, Dan and I are supporting each other (even if that means hardly seeing each other...something else to work on), the house isn't 100% clean, but it's not a dump, and I'm doing what I need to do for I think I just need to cut myself some slack, and take each day as it comes.  The guilt of spending this extra time on myself is hard to keep at bay, but in the end, it's not just time spent on myself--it's an invaluable example of good health that I'm passing on to our kids.  I just need to keep repeating that and feel proud of my efforts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not-So-Miso Steak

Sunday was weigh-in day with my new scale, and I weighed in at 159.6.  From my previous weigh-in last week, that's almost 3 pounds down--but I'm using a new scale, so who knows what the actual loss is (but at least I can be pretty confident that it was a loss!).  159.6 is going to be my new baseline--the first time I weighed myself on my new scale.  Next week will be the true test.  The weekend again proved really hard for my calorie intake--we visited Dan's parents on Saturday, and his mom made us blueberry muffins, which I love, and brownies and ice cream for dessert!  I had no idea how bad blueberry muffins are calorie-wise until I went to put it into my wonder I have a terrible time losing weight!  I also got my hair cut this week, and while Dan thinks that wouldn't count toward weight loss, if you've seen how much hair I have, you would understand--I think it contributed at least a few ounces lost!

I took the time before heading grocery shopping on Sunday to look up some new recipes--I've been saying I'm going to add new meals to the food rotation, but then I am always rushing around like crazy trying to get my grocery list together and run out to the store every weekend that I never remember to actually add to my usual list.  I googled "easy, healthy dinners," since dinner has become even more of a dilemma for me now that I'm working out three nights a week, right at dinnertime.  I need some fast, healthy stuff that I can make after or before class.  I found two recipes I thought sounded enticing, and Dan agreed to try them--so I wrote down all the ingredients for Miso Steak with Green Beans and Baby Potatoes, as well as the ingredients for Lemon-Thyme Chicken.

I still don't really know what edamame is
I headed off to the commissary with my list in hand--a list that included a lot of unfamiliar items, like frozen edamame, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and of course, the miso.  I know the commissary like the back of my hand (after all, I live there one hour every week!), so I figured the new items wouldn't be too hard to find.  Little did I know (although I probably should have guessed), the commissary is not really a place to find adventurous foods--and I didn't even think the recipes I chose were very adventurous!  My first major fail was the baby potatoes I needed for the Miso Steak meal--the commissary doesn't carry them...???  I picked up red potatoes instead, because they are smaller than Russet potatoes, and I thought they were more in the spirit of the recipe.  See, I can adapt!  Next, I found the rice wine vinegar and the sesame oil fairly easily, but miso didn't jump out at me.  It didn't help that I had no idea what miso looks like--is it a sauce?  Is it a type of noodle?  I was totally clueless.  After attempting to read every label in the aisle, I still hadn't found I took my smartphone out of the commissary (I get no service inside) and googled miso.  Ah, it's a seasoning--that gave me a better idea of what to look for.  Again, I read every label, and again, I had no luck...  After what felt like an hour standing in front of that section, I decided to move on without the miso--maybe I'd find it with the other seasonings?  (Nope, no miso there.)  I kept going, picking up my normal foods as well as some other new items from the recipes (like the skirt steak for the Miso Steak recipe), and the last thing to get was the frozen, shelled edamame.  I've never had edamame before, but I have read about it a lot and know that it's a good, healthy snack--I was eager to find it and give it a try.  Of course, the commissary doesn't carry it, either--at least, not that I could find after repeated attempts down multiple aisles.  Urgh.  I headed home with everything I could find, which unfortunately was missing one crucial item from each recipe (the edamame for the Lemon-Thyme Chicken, and the miso from the Miso Steak).

I got home right at dinnertime, because the commissary took me two hours instead of one with all my wandering and searching.  Dan had wanted to make the Miso Steak for dinner, but since I couldn't find the miso, I didn't think it was an option.  I googled miso again, and discovered that some people think it has no taste--others think it has a salty or nutty taste.  The recipe only called for one tablespoon of it, so in our hunger and time-crunch, Dan and I decided to make the recipe without it.  Dan prepped the steak while I peeled and heated the potatoes, threw the steamed green beans into the microwave, and made the no-miso sauce--it really was a pretty easy meal to do, and would have been great if we weren't both frantically racing around the kitchen totally winging it since we had never made it before!  We both enjoyed the meal, as did Abby...but Jake only ate the steak and Alex ate nothing--he took one bite of green beans, declared that he loved them, and then proceeded to play with them for the rest of the evening.  Great.  We didn't feed him anything else, so hopefully with persistence, we will win this dinnertime battle and he'll learn to widen his palate a little.

Not-So-Miso Steak with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

At least I did well with my calories on Sunday!  We're looking forward to trying out the Lemon-Thyme chicken one of these days, too.

Update on the workout classes:  Friday night was my 2nd Zumba class, and it was with a different instructor than the Wednesday class--and by a stroke of luck, I discovered that a woman from my street has also signed up for these classes, so we carpooled over there together.  It was really great to not only get a workout in, but also to be social--I'm way too stuck in the house these days.  The class was fun, but this instructor's technique and moves are a lot different from the Wednesday class.  Friday's was more Latin and lots of hips, so I had a harder time keeping up with the steps, but I still enjoyed it.  Then last night was my first step class--I was very nervous about it (and more so after I told my best friend that I was doing a step class, and her response was "Uh oh..."), and let me just say, it kicked my rear end.  I wore my glasses, which I don't usually do while I work out, and my glasses were all foggy from all the heat and sweat on my face.  Gross!  It was definitely a good workout, and a lot more intense than I expected.  I'm convinced I'm going to end up missing the darn step and sprawl out on the floor, or accidentally push the step out from under myself--it could happen, because I'm just that uncoordinated.  Thankfully, that class is only once a week--I don't think I could handle it otherwise!  Bring on the Wednesday Zumba fun!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Out of My Comfort Zone

Zumba is on the docket again for tonight--I went to the first class on Wednesday evening, and felt pretty good about it.  It was definitely a more basic class than my friend's class I attended last week, but in a way, that was good because I got the hang of everything really quickly and didn't feel like such an awkward dork!  :)  The instructor of the class on Wednesday was enthusiastic and the class was pretty fun--the best part about it for me was the lanky guy who came in late, stood near me, and shook everything he had to shake like he didn't have a care in the world!  It was pretty funny, and he really made it fun--I sure hope he comes back every week.  The other students (and there weren't many--maybe 15 of us?) ran the gamut from skinny girls just looking to stay active and who clearly had taken Zumba classes before, to folks like me who are there to try to get healthier and lose some weight...and have very little clue what we are doing!  There was a lot of laughing from some of the ladies when they just couldn't figure out what the heck the instructor was doing.  I don't really know how the classes here will work--will I have the same instructor tonight?  Will it be the same songs and moves over and over again?  If it is the same every class, will I get bored or will I relish the routine?  I guess time will tell, but I'm pretty happy that I've taken this step toward a more regular exercise schedule.  Special mention goes to my husband, who is cutting his work day shorter to get home and hang out with the kids (so close to dinner, no less) so that I can make these classes work--thank you, honey!

In order to help me keep track of this Challenge, I finally bought a new scale for our house--after years of resisting buying a good scale.  Our old one is not digital--it's one of the ones with the dial on the bottom that you move a little to the right or left to get the arrow pointing at the zero before you step on.  I never have owned my own scale--our old one is a leftover from Dan's bachelor days, and I honestly don't really know why he had a scale...but it's mostly been collecting dust in our bathroom for the last 8 years.  I hate it--I don't think it's very accurate, and I think that dial gives me too much power.  Instead of zeroing it out, I once turned that little dial until the arrow pointed 40 pounds lighter than 0 and stepped on, just to see what weighing in at 120 pounds feels like...yeah, it didn't give me the excitement I was hoping for, since obviously I knew I was making the scale lie to me!  After faking out that old scale, I always had trouble believing what it told me, because I knew I could manipulate it so easily.  When I started this Challenge, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and ordered a new digital scale--weighing myself at my parents' house isn't exactly feasible in the long-term.  Part of my reticence with having a good scale in the house is that I don't want to become obsessed with every ounce and weigh myself constantly--I don't think that's healthy (or accurate--weight fluctuates throughout the day for various reasons, so weighing at a consistent time and not getting sucked into the ups and downs of each day is important), and that's not who I want to be.  I'm going to try to keep to once-a-week weight checks and not get crazy about it...we'll see how it goes.  I got the new scale set up in our bathroom last night, and will resist the temptation to step on it again until Sunday!

this is pretty much how I feel about scales!
I wanted to talk a little bit about the TV workout I did this past Sunday--I have Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred DVD and obviously my treadmill and elliptical in the garage, but I was looking for something different to change things up a bit.  I discovered that our cable offers a few OnDemand workout shows, so I looked through them for a few days before I decided on Sunday to just try one out.  The one I chose was called "Sweat Sexy Workout" (thank you for that, Verizon FIOS...)--there weren't many options available unless you're a senior or working with an ankle injury (so randomly specific!), so I thought that one offered the most promise for a good workout for me despite the horrendous name.  I invited Dan to work out with me, and he was laughing so hard just during the warm up that I told him to take a hike--how am I supposed to be able to concentrate on working out and sweating in a sexy manner when my husband can't stop laughing?  It was okay with me for him to go work out on his own, though--the girl teaching the workout was admittedly sexy and ridiculously fit, so I was regretting asking him to watch her shake her stuff for an hour anyway.  Dan went for a run, and I kept trying to sweat sexy--such a darn oxymoron!  Apparently I'm not sexy in my every day life, because I was terribly awkward just trying to copy that skinny girl rolling her hips all over the place (not my forte!), and I hobbled around extremely sore for three days afterward.  I was pretty surprised I was able to move at all during Zumba on Wednesday night, because I was still hurting from that silly workout!

I was me, and it wasn't sexy

I think changing things up has been good for me--I'm getting out of my comfort zone with a lot of things lately, and that's exactly what The Good Housewife Project is all about.  I just need to figure out how to fire on all cylinders better than I have been--sure, I've been getting done what needs to get done, but sometimes just barely, and cooking has pretty much gone to the back burner (or no burner at all, I should say) again.  I just can't figure out how to cram it all in, but I'm hopeful that I'll get the hang of this new attempt at life sooner or later.  I'll never be one of those housewives who seemingly does it all and still has time to whip up a 4-course meal every night, but I'm not sure those ladies exist anyway.  I'm not aiming for perfect--I'm aiming for perfect for me and my family, and there's a pretty big difference.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our First Home

I do have a life outside the Challenge, but balance is hard to find for me right now!  Paying such close attention to what I eat and also adding quality exercise to my days takes a lot of effort and time, so I'm working to make sure I don't neglect everything else in my life on this quest to become healthier.  As I become more familiar with what's good for me, it shouldn't take up so much time, so I'm just plugging along until I reach that point.  It's hard to make time for my husband, and it's really hard to keep up with this house when I have a lot going on--fortunately, the kids all seem to finally be feeling much better and life is getting a little more back to normal around here.

just for laughs today!
Aside from the Challenge the last two weeks, I've been crazy busy dealing with some interesting developments with the house we own in Ohio--we still own our very first home purchased together in 2005.  Dan went to law school in Ohio, and being a military family, we felt like buying a home there was the right move for us--there was no military housing since we weren't near any military installations, and we were guaranteed to be in one place for three years (a long time for us!).  We bought our first home, an adorable 3-bedroom house full of character that was built in 1920, and had our first baby while we lived there--it was a wonderful existence for those three years.  It was hard to leave when Dan graduated in 2008, and even harder to sell the house--I was very emotional about the idea of letting go of the house we had loved so much and in which we started our family.  Despite late nights up painting the bathroom and touching up trim, we endured months of showings that never resulted in an offer, and ended up having to put the house up for rent.  We've been fortunate to have good renters in the house since then (in that they have taken good care of the house and haven't trashed it!), but the period between renters has been rough--before our current renters moved in, the house sat empty for 5 months.  Even with renters in the house, we don't entirely cover our mortgage, so we lose money every month--and we pay a property management company since we don't live in Ohio to manage the day-to-day issues at the house.  It's not a money pit, per se, but it is a big part of our financial considerations every month.

Our current renters just let us know that they will be moving out of our house in early March--we had really been hoping that they would buy the house from us, since they had expressed interest and really treated the house as their own, but it wasn't meant to be.  The bright spot is that a friend of theirs may be interested in buying the house--he's a single guy and a first-time homebuyer, and we are thrilled at the prospect of being able to sell without having to put the house on the market (and all the expenses that come with hiring a realtor, sprucing the place up, and repairs needed after years of rental tenants).  I've spent the last 2 weeks on countless phone calls to our bank, realtors in Ohio, and real estate attorneys, as well as emailing our hopeful buyer and Googling "how to sell a house by owner" so that we can figure out the best way to move forward should this potential sale come to fruition--it's been a full-time job some days, on top of everything else I have going on!  As it stands right now, we are just waiting--the buyer is still looking at other properties and hasn't made up his mind, so we wait until he does.  While I'm hoping that we are able to sell the house (we'll still take a loss on the sale after considering all the closing costs, but at least it won't be a monthly budget consideration and we won't have the unexpected expenses that come with home ownership...especially with an older home), I'm a little sad that we may be closing that chapter of our lives.  I love that old house and all our cherished memories it holds, and I love the excuse to go back to Ohio--we have such great friends there, and checking on the house is a convenient rationale for our repeated trips back there!

our very first home, where Abby was born

As part of a military family my whole life, I'm used to saying goodbyes--a lot.  I've never really gotten attached to homes that I moved in and out of as a kid--some I liked more than others, but I guess as a child, I wasn't as invested in the houses themselves and was more up for the adventure of a new place.  As an adult who specifically picked that little house to call our own, it's a lot harder for me to separate my emotions.  I think I will handle it better than I would have in 2008, now that I have years of distance between when we last lived there and have a harder time conjuring up the spaces as they looked when we were there, but it will still be sad to let it go.  There is something special about the house, and there always will be in my heart.  We will get through this next goodbye if that's where life takes us this time, and we will build new memories where we are now, and wherever we head next--as good military families always do.  :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Week In

Well, this weekend was a little rough for the Challenge, as I knew it would be.  I went into the birthday party on Saturday determined to be good while I was there--and despite the awesome spread of goodies, I stuck to carrots and fruit salad!  I even stood around the food table, but I didn't eat any of the not-so-good-for-me stuff...and honestly, I tried not to even look at that stuff on the table so that I wouldn't be tempted (although I couldn't miss my dear husband right next to me, chomping on what looked and sounded like delicious tortilla chips...).  My sweet friend Brynne made an awesome Toy Story birthday cake for her son, and of course I had to have a piece--I don't like it when I spend a ton of time making a cake for my kids' parties only to have folks not eat it...and let's just be honest--I like cake.  I took an interior piece, so not much icing at all--I splurged in what I thought was the healthiest way!  I felt really good about my choices leaving the party--even though I ate the cake, it's a birthday of those real-world things I'm going to have to just work to incorporate into my day.

And that's where Saturday went off the rails for me.  We went back to my parents' house, since the birthday party was really close to where they live, and my mom fixed an awesome home-cooked meal for our family and my siblings' families, who all came over as well.  She made flank steak, sweet and baked potatoes, rolls, corn, and her famous "green"--a pear jello salad that we all devour, so much that she has to make two 9x13 pans of it!  Then for dessert, she made brownies from scratch and smothered them with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  I don't get my mom's homemade cooking all the time, so I take advantage when I do...  I knew she was making flank steak before we came over, so I looked up the calories on my trusty WebMD food log--not bad for 3oz., but I could swear I always eat way more than 3 oz.  I was cognizant of that when I made my plate, and tried to stick to smaller portions of the meat and everything else.  I passed on the rolls, had 2 small ears of corn, and half of a sweet potato...and a small bowl of green.  Seriously delicious!  After the kids ran around a bit while the adults sat around the table chatting, my mom brought out the brownies and ice cream, dished up and ready to be eaten.  It wasn't that much ice cream or that much syrup, but it was a pretty big brownie underneath--and so good!  When all was said and done, I ended up almost 600 calories over my daily goal for Saturday--and that 600 was only after I very generously estimated my calories out for the day considering I didn't do any actual working out...

my calorie tracker for Saturday--I really did eat more than 2000 calories!

So yeah, that really wasn't the greatest day, and I learned a few things:  1) Don't have dessert twice in one day.  (Duh!  In my defense, I didn't know my mom had fixed brownies and ice I didn't know I would be eating two desserts.  Obviously I could have passed on brownies and ice cream after I knew I had already had cake...but I'm not out of my mind!)  2) Homemade foods are really hard to track calorie-wise.  I had my mom's recipes for her flank steak marinade and for her green jello salad, so I input all the ingredients into my tracker, but then had a hard time figuring out how much I had eaten--1/8th of a serving?  2/3rds?  I just didn't know, and tried to extrapolate based on the fact that 8 other adults and 7 kids were eating the food with obviously, I didn't eat the entire stick of cream cheese that was in the green all by myself...  Sunday and Monday were better days--although I still ate more calories than I should have, I was able to balance it out better by doing a workout on Sunday (an exercise show through our cable's OnDemand menu), and by cleaning on Monday (3 hours digging out Abby's messy room!).

all this calorie counting is hard work!

One bonus of being at my parents' house on Saturday was that I got to weigh myself on their scale--I always use their scale because it's digital and a lot better than ours, which is not.  Even after stuffing my face with my mom's cooking, I weighed 162.4--I lost 0.6 pounds since I had last weighed myself at their house 6 days earlier at the start of the Challenge.  Not exactly a resounding success for my effort, but I'll take a loss!  This week, I'm going to try to be more active--I'm so ridiculously sore after the TV workout I did on Sunday, but I'm ready for more.  Finally feeling healthy again!  After I attended my friend's Zumba class last week, my mother-in-law asked if the gym here on our military installation offers I looked into it, and they do!  It's pretty cheap, and they offer it in the evenings on Wednesdays and Fridays--so Dan can be home to watch the kids while I go.  As luck would have it, the first class is tonight--so I'm going!  They also offer an evening step class on Mondays, so I can get in 3 hour-long exercise sessions per week if I make this a regular thing.  Like I said, I've never really been a class person, so I'm nervous that I won't enjoy it--I mean, I really liked my friend's class, but part of the fun in that was that I knew I couldn't go every week, and I know her, so it was just fun to watch her in action and get a little social time afterward.  How will it be in a room full of unfamiliar faces?  I don't know, but I'm accepting the Challenge, and I'm going to find out!

I also want to send a shout-out to Brynne, because she has checked in with me numerous times since the start of the Challenge and given me lots of encouragement and advice from her own journey--thank you for being such a positive force in my life for literally as long as I can remember!  :)  Her own love of Zumba and her advice to "just go in there and shake what your mama gave you!" really gave me the courage I needed in my friend's class and going into this new class to just focus on me and not worry about anyone else--a hard thing to do for this Mommy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Challenge Temptations and Tests

Zumba on Wednesday night was awesome!  I got to the class after they had started warming up, and my friend told me to get to the front so that I could see the moves better, so I did--not front row, but second row.  I was very self-conscious--I've never done a group fitness class before, excepting an aerobics class my college roommate and I took together (for credit!) our first year of school.  I'm not one to make a fool out of myself in front of other people...and I'm SO out of shape.  My friend is a really amazing instructor--I was in awe watching her up there, and just so impressed!  She was rocking it, and having a lot of fun--it rubbed off, because even though I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to be doing, I was having fun watching her and trying my best.  About 30 minutes into the class, I looked at the clock and thought that she might possibly be trying to kill me, but I survived--I didn't go as all-out as some of the folks there because I was awkward and definitely exhausted as the class neared the end, but I was pretty proud of myself for the effort.  Now I want to get some Zumba DVDs to do at home--if working out can be fun like that, I want to keep doing it that way!  I wish I could make her class all the time, but it took me almost an hour in traffic to get there, and I would have to join the gym--it wouldn't be feasible on a regular basis.  But it was a great time, and I'm really glad I went.  I thought I would be super sore, but so far, no major aches and pains...I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, though.  Maybe it will hit me tomorrow--I promise, I really was working hard and sweating like crazy!  Dan and I were supposed to get up early this morning to work out, but that didn't happen (it's really hard to start the early-morning workout habit, especially when our garage is so cold in the mornings!) we'll have to fit in some fitness this weekend.

I broke my no-eating-after-the-kids-go-to-bed rule last night...not because I was hungry, but because I was really low on my calorie count.  I underestimated the amount of calories I burned folding and putting away laundry for an hour, and I also underestimated how many calories were in those pieces of cake I was eating on previous days!  The cake is now gone, so I don't have that as a temptation anymore.  I didn't have any dessert after dinner last night, so after we got the kids down, I made myself a large bowl of fresh fruit!  I sliced a whole banana, and then had half a cup each of sliced strawberries, blueberries, honeydew, and cantaloupe.  It was a huge bowl, and it was only 232 calories!  I always knew fruit was good for me, but I thought a big bowl like that would be way more calories.  We always have a lot of fruit in the house because I'm determined to make sure my kids eat healthily, but sometimes that means that I don't eat the fruit...because I want to save it for the kids.  This philosophy of putting my kids' needs above my own is part of how I got myself into this mess--I don't make time (or fruit salad, apparently) for myself, to focus on what I need to do and what is good for me.  I love fruit salad, so I need to be better about making sure I get to have some, too!  I didn't feel great about eating after my 8pm deadline, but I thought it was necessary to bump my calorie intake to a healthier level.  That's something I'll have to investigate--do I hurt myself more by eating later in the evening, or by not taking in enough calories?  I was mostly just proud of myself for the big bowl of fruit instead of a big bowl of ice cream!

delicious fruit salad!

As some sort of cruel trick of nature, my kids are really into chocolate-covered pretzels right now.  In case you couldn't guess, chocolate-covered pretzels are one of my very most favorite treats in the world--such a wonderful combination of salty and sweet!  My parents gave me two bags of chocolate-covered pretzels in my stocking at Christmas, and the kids all wanted some...but this was my pre-Challenge gluttony, so I ate them all after they went to bed...seriously.  Where was that putting-my-kids-before-myself philosophy when I needed it?  Apparently it doesn't apply to chocolate!  Jake saw the bags in the trash can the next day and was a bit distraught that I didn't share with him--I was talking to my mom on the phone at the time, so she heard him getting upset about it, and she felt bad.  So, like a good Grandma, when we got to her house this past weekend for Jake's birthday party, she had 4 bags of chocolate-covered pretzels waiting for him to take home!  Now those bags are in my pantry, screaming at me to eat them.  The kids asked for chocolate-covered pretzels for dessert after dinner every night, so I have to dole them out and try not to eat a few in the process.  This is a MASSIVE temptation, and even saying that is an understatement.  I almost sneaked one last night (I mean, c'mon--it's just one little chocolate-covered pretzel...), but I managed to hold myself off, because I knew one would lead to twenty in a heartbeat.  I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with my willpower this past week--I haven't been perfect (ahem, cake), but I've been way better than I was pre-Challenge.

the dangerous treat spread at Jake's party

I'm really going to put myself to the test tomorrow, though--we're going to a birthday party.  Should I have cake?  Will I stand by the table and eat a whole bowl of chips like I did at Jake's party?  I just don't know how I'm going to be able to handle all the ready-made temptation in bowls out in front of me.  I have a habit of not being able to stop myself, so this will be a true test of my newfound willpower.  It's also going to be hard because I'm a little addicted to my WebMD food log--I've been typing in food before I eat it to see how many calories, and I check my log all the time to see how many calories I have left for the day.  Without that, I'll be flying blind on the calorie count...who knows what my daily log will look like when it's all done.  That's a little scary for me, but I'm going to do my best--this is the real world, and I can't stay cooped up in the safety of my own house and my WebMD food log all the time.  I also can't cut out every treat from my diet, because that's setting myself up for failure--it's not possible to live my life without the fun stuff every once in a while.  I just need to figure out how to treat myself in moderation.  We are going out to dinner tonight as well, so I get a little practice eating notoriously huge restaurant portions without the help of my trusty food log telling me what's good!  Maybe I'll be better at portion control now that I know what I'm looking at?  And this will be my first weekend on the Challenge--we are a big restaurant eating family on the weekends, to include stops at our favorite ice cream places after dinner...stay tuned next week to see how this all pans out for me, and send some willpower, healthy-food vibes my way!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cake Craziness

Nothing like a whole post about cakes when I'm trying to lose some weight!  My sweet Jake turned 4 last week, and we had his birthday party at my parents' new house over the weekend.  He has grown into such a big boy, and is hitting more milestones every day--like parents always say, it's hard to believe how fast the time has flown.  Here he is on his actual birthday--we went out to dinner with Dan's parents to celebrate.  :)

my sweet 4-year-old!

Jake's party was Jake and the Neverland Pirates themed--my kids enjoy that show, but if Jake had had his way, we would have thrown him another train party (he's obsessed)...his 3rd birthday was a Thomas party.  I didn't want to do a repeat party, so I chose Jake for him, and he was happy with it.  Since I'm not a baker year-round, the one thing I really enjoy doing for my kids' birthdays is their cakes.  I had never decorated a cake before Abby's first birthday party, so I started small with a Wilton cake pan--and lots of my mom's help.

Abby's first birthday cake!

Her second birthday cake was also a Wilton pan, and this time, both my mom and my grandmother helped me out because we were running late (what else is new??).

Abby's 2nd birthday cake--Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street

Abby's third birthday party was a princess party, and Dan and I were on our own in Texas to create something special for her--we settled on a castle cake kit that we found at the store.  Dan helped me level the cake and he carved bricks in the icing for me.  He then decided that he doesn't really like doing all!

Abby's 3rd birthday cake--princesses everywhere!

I blame Abby's 4th birthday cake entirely on my mom--we were living with my parents at the time while Dan was deployed, and she and Abby went to Michael's one day and came home with the Wilton Romantic Castle cake kit...apparently Abby saw it in the store and decided that's the cake she wanted, so my mom got it for her.  I was 9 months pregnant with Alex (we literally had her birthday party 3 days before he was born!), and I spent probably 2 weeks researching how I could pull off this gargantuan cake.  There are entire blogs dedicated to this cake, if you can believe it--and thank goodness, because I never could have done it without reading what worked for other people and getting good ideas from them.  My mom and I spent 3 entire days on this cake (even my dad got involved--when the directions called for dowel rods in the turrets, I enlisted his service!), starting with 330 fondant flowers, and ending with this:

Abby's 4th birthday castle cake

Compare Abby's 3rd birthday castle cake (done entirely by Dan and me) with Abby's 4th birthday castle cake (slaved over by my mom and me), and you will clearly note that my mom is the key behind great cakes!  After that monstrosity of a castle, I went low-key for her 5th birthday with another Wilton cake pan.

Abby's 5th birthday Ariel cake

Abby's 6th birthday cake was made mostly by my grandmother--I like to make the kids' cakes every year, but I made an exception because my grandmother made me this same type of cake for my birthday when I was little, so it's a wonderful tradition that I wanted to let Abby experience as well.  I did help a little with the icing, though!

Abby's 6th birthday Hello Kitty doll cake

Update: To see Abby's 7th birthday Rapunzel cake, click here!  :)
I'll show you Alex's cakes next--there have only been two!  :)  (Update: Click here for Alex's 3rd birthday Thomas cake!)  His first birthday cake was a Wilton cake pan--I love those things, and how easy they make it for you to be successful.

Alex's first birthday--Mickey Mouse!

Alex's 2nd birthday cake is my sentimental favorite--Dan drew a picture for me, and I hand-carved it myself into the cake and decorated it all without any instructions.  It wasn't big and fancy, but it's ours and no one has ever had a cake like it!  It was the most ownership I've ever taken over a cake--my mom made the icing for me, but I came up with the idea for the cake, made the cardboard template for carving, and iced it all by myself.  The character is one that Dan created when he was in middle school and has been drawing for me ever since we first met--the kids love him, too.

meet WonderMutt--Alex's 2nd birthday cake!

And now onto Jake's cakes!  His first birthday was in Texas, so again I was on my own.  Our good friend Shauna and her cute kids were visiting from Colorado, and I actually thought I would just make cupcakes and have a small little celebration for him...but at the last minute, I started to feel guilty about not making him a cake!  I googled some easy cake ideas, and my friend Shauna and I took a quick trip to Hobby Lobby after the kids went to bed the night before his birthday.  I worked on the cake for a few hours, and both Dan and Shauna thought I was totally OCD and kept telling me to put the spatula's still a running joke.  :)  I have an affinity for this little cake, because again, it was one I just sort of found at the last minute and went for without any real clue what I was doing.

Jake's first birthday cake--a friendly dinosaur!

For Jake's 2nd birthday, we were living at my parents' house--this was just a month before Dan came home from his deployment.  It was the last major holiday of the deployment, and it felt good--throwing your child birthday parties without your spouse is never fun...nor are any other holidays spent apart.  Jake was obsessed with Bob the Builder at the time, so we actually had to get this Wilton cake pan off ebay, since Wilton doesn't make it anymore!

Bob the Builder for Jake's 2nd birthday!

Jake's 3rd birthday was the Thomas the Tank Engine party--he was in heaven.  This was probably his favorite cake!  It's another Wilton cake pan--I toyed with the idea of trying to do a 3-D train (they do actually make pans for those...), but I cut myself some slack and just went with the flat pan!

Jake's 3rd birthday--all aboard!

And that brings us to this past weekend, and Jake's 4th birthday party.  When I picked the Jake and the Neverland Pirates theme, I started googling right away for cake ideas--there's no Wilton cake pan for this theme yet.  I found the least-intimidating non-fondant cake I could find, and went with it--I've used fondant before, but I'm not very comfortable with it...and buttercream tastes better!  Again, this cake had no instructions--all I had was a picture and an idea of how to get it done, so clearly, 6 years of making cakes has made me more confident in my abilities!  My mom did a ton of the work baking the actual sheet cakes and making the icing for me, and my sister-in-law came over for moral support and to help me flip cakes and make creative decisions.  :)  I just had the job of decorating...which I did for eleven hours to create this cake.  Hover over each picture for a more-detailed description of the process!

the beginnings of a pirate boat--3 sheet cakes!

working on the wood planks
the icing was so thick, it popped my icing bag--TWICE!
working on the back of the cake

Jake's 4th birthday cake--Bucky the Pirate Ship!

Now you know why I don't want to let this cake go to waste and keep eating slices after much effort, and it really is delicious!  Thankfully for my Challenge, it will either be all gone soon, or it won't be good for much longer.  :)  This cake and the big castle cake have been my biggest undertakings--and this cake didn't seem like it was going to be all that complicated!  Oh well--it was worth it to see my little boy smile.  Happy 4th, Jake!!

my pirate, with the Neverland map Dan drew

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Pretzel

This week is full of Challenge posts--I am going to try to get one up about Jake's birthday party, but Challenge #2 is forefront in my mind right now, so that's what I'm writing about!  I'm pretty proud of myself so far, although there have been a few bumps in the road even just in these three days.

Day 1 on Monday was okay, but I was definitely feeling some hunger--I ate too few calories for the day, which seems counter-intuitive...but if I've learned anything from years of watching The Biggest Loser, it's that your calories in count as much as your calories out--you have to hit the right balance, or your body won't cooperate!  Even with a pretty big piece of leftover cake from Jake's birthday party, my calorie total for the day was 1051--I'm supposed to eat 1200 a day, and then exercise to get my overall calories for the day down to 953.  I didn't do much exercise on Monday because I wasn't feeling well, but I did do some walking and burned 161 calories doing that, so my overall calorie total was 891.  Of course, I think some of those numbers aren't entirely accurate (I entered the nutrition information for the chicken, and I was unsure about some of the stuff they wanted me to input, and who knows if I burned that many calories walking?), but I do think the WebMD system is a good guide...and a little addicting.

Day 2 was yesterday, and again, I did decently well.  Dan got upset with me at the dinner table, though...we ordered pizza because Abby's school was doing a pizza night fundraiser.  I had two slices from a medium pizza with double pineapple on it...I love pineapple!  After I finished eating, I grabbed my computer and was trying to manually calculate calories--Domino's has a calorie calculator on their website that tells you how many calories your pizza has, but since we ordered double toppings and the WebMD food log wants more information than just calories (cholesterol, fiber, total fat, etc, etc), I had to calculate it all myself using Domino's more detailed nutritional information.  Dan got irritated because I was on my computer while the kids were still sitting at the table eating--granted, most everyone was done, but we try to have a "no distractions" rule at the table (at my instigation!).  I understood why he was annoyed, but I really wanted to know how many calories I had left for the day--I was trying to get the calculations done to see if I could splurge again on a little cake...  Dan didn't really get the urgency (probably because he doesn't really like cake--ha!).  Turns out a medium slice of double pineapple pizza from Domino's is 204 calories--I did all the calculations for you, so you don't have to.  My dinner was around 408 calories, and I went ahead and had a piece of cake--a smaller one than the night before, but still cake.  The funny thing was, after I sliced it and sat down to enjoy, I didn't really feel like eating cake--I mean, I had just had 2 pieces of pizza, so I wasn't all that hungry.  I thought about taking a few bites and tossing the rest...but my old habits came back into play, and I ate the whole slice because it was there and I didn't want to waste good cake.  I knew I should stop eating, but I didn't...something I need to work on.  After dinner, I burned 300 calories treating the grocery store like my personal gym, so my total calories for the day yesterday was 944--1250 from food (not bad), 306 burned at the store.  My percentages of carbs vs. protein vs. sugar was more on target for the day than Day 1, so I felt good about that--still not perfect, but at least I'm more aware of what I'm attempting to do now.

one pretzel...

Last night, I was getting Abby's lunch stuff together and loading the dishwasher--on track to be in bed by midnight--when Dan came downstairs and said he was hungry...  I was pretty darn hungry, too, since the last thing I ate was that piece of cake around 6pm and it was now 11:30pm...but I wasn't going to eat anything because of my no-nighttime-snacking rule, and because it's no good to eat right before you go to bed anyway.  Dan was helping me put Abby's lunch foods in bags, and we put too many pretzels in one of her bags...Dan got frustrated trying to close the bag, so he pulled one pretzel out and said, "Here--eat this!" while handing it to me.  I had been fighting the urge to eat a little of everything I was making for her lunch--carrots, strawberries, Cheez-Its and it made me upset and hurt when Dan tried to sabotage me by handing me that silly little pretzel.  He didn't really get why I was upset--he had just loaded a plate up for himself of pretzels and fruit.  One pretzel isn't the issue, and one pretzel isn't going to break my scale...but it was the principle of not eating anything after 8pm and resisting really strong temptations.  Pretzels are dangerous for me--I can sit with a bag open and munch off and on on them for hours, without realizing how much I have eaten.  Dan had just been talking to me about my plan of action, so I knew he was aware of the no-eating rule...  I was just a little bummed that he's not taking this as seriously as I am--I'm really trying, even when I'm hungry!  I know his weight isn't an issue for him (I have always weighed more than he does, as a wonderful kick to my self-esteem), but I want him to understand what a big deal this is to me.  My hunger late last night reinforced my need to go to bed early--if I'm asleep, I won't feel hungry and overeat.

Today has been good--I'm getting better at spreading out my calories and planning my meals.  I had my usual measured Rice Chex and milk this morning (222 calories total) for breakfast.  I know cereal isn't the healthiest breakfast option, but I just love my cereal--some people drink coffee in the morning, I can't get started without my cereal.  At least it's healthy-ish cereal, right?  I'm not downing a big bowl of Cocoa Pebbles!  For lunch, I made my chicken salad--one 4.5 oz can of Swanson's premium chicken breast in water, 4 tablespoons of Light Miracle Whip, 2 tablespoons of Craisins, 1 tablespoon of slivered almonds, and 10 grapes cut in half.  I entered all the nutritional information from the labels on everything I put in, and the total calories came to 287--I'm pretty excited about that since I make this chicken salad a lot!  Today was the first day I actually used the measuring spoon for every ingredient while making it, and I'm proud of myself for making that extra effort instead of eye-balling it...after measuring, I see that my eyeballs aren't good at portion control!  I'm also pretty impressed with my math skills--I am terrible at measurements, but have been figuring out the numbers for servings to put into WebMD.  Who knew that stuff would come in handy?  ;)


Tonight, even though I'm still not feeling well, I'm going to a Zumba first one ever (and maybe my last, depending on how things go!).  A friend of mine teaches at a gym, so she invited me to a free preview class--I'm a little terrified, but in the spirit of the Challenge, I'm going to try it out.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Outlining Challenge #2

I've given a lot of thought to how I want to approach my Get Healthy Challenge, and I wanted to come up with a plan that incorporates things that have worked for me in the past, as well as things that I know are manageable...  When I attempt things that simply aren't workable for me right now, I fail.  I have three kids.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, home all day with 2 rambunctious boys.  My days are not my own right now, and I need to carve out time that makes sense to focus on myself.  This has never been easy for me, but I'm determined to try...and not get discouraged when days go by (and they inevitably will) where nothing works out the way I planned.  So here's the rough outline of what I think will work for me--everyone is different, so I don't know that this would translate to anyone else's efforts!  And I'm not sure how successful I will be, so I will probably be tweaking things along the way.

  • Enter my daily food intake into my WebMD food journal...make sure I'm cognizant of everything going in my mouth, and gain an understanding of how it all breaks down and where I can make improvements.  Like, I know I eat too many carbs and not enough protein, for example.

oops...that piece of Jake's birthday cake after dinner last night did me in!

  • Enter my daily physical activity--be that exercise or just the housework that makes up my every day life (going up and down the stairs a million times with loads of laundry has to count for something, right??).  Try to find ways throughout the day to increase my movement and activity level.

this is my idea of lifting weights

  • Dedicate at least 30 minutes to real exercise at least 4 times a week--Jillian Michaels videos, my treadmill, the elliptical (if I can make my feet not go numb), walks outside when the weather is nice...whatever it takes, but actual exercise where I can zone out and work on burning calories.  I have been running on my treadmill in previous exercise efforts, but I'm not sure that's the right exercise for me--for one, I hate running, and for two, my knees really bother me.  I may be a power walker from here on out!
  • Drink more water.  WebMD says I should be drinking 64 ounces a day, to maintain health and curb hunger.  I already drink a lot of water, but I'll make that 64 ounces my daily goal. 
  • Measure my food.  This may seem silly, but my biggest problem with food is that I way overindulge...way overindulge.  Yesterday morning, I got out a measuring cup and measured one cup of Rice Chex and one cup of milk for my breakfast--not only does this help me figure out my calorie intake, but it stops me from mindlessly pouring bowl after bowl of cereal while checking my email.  Today, I measured some peanut butter to put on apple slices at lunchtime--otherwise, I just lose track of how much I'm putting in my mouth.

measuring is essential for my success!
  • No eating after the kids go to bed.  The kids go to bed at 8pm, and the time after they are out of sight is my biggest difficulty food-wise.  After a long day, I deserve a sweet treat...or 30.  I've already stopped buying ice cream to cut myself off, but like a true junkie, I find ways to indulge my sweet tooth.  Old chocolate from 2 Easters ago is not out of play when I'm on the hunt far back in my cabinets for something to eat after the kids go to bed.  It would be comical if it wasn't so desperate and depressing.
  • Go to bed before midnight.  I love to sleep, and 8 hours of sleep every night will help me be healthier and happier during the day, and give me more energy to get done what I need to get done.  By going to bed by midnight, I'm also cutting myself off from those long late-night hours when I get hungry and go hunting for a snack.

So that's my plan in a nutshell.  Like I said, I'll be tweaking it as this Challenge goes on, because I'm sure some things won't work for me, or the things that work for me in the beginning won't be as effective later in the process, so I'll need to modify and change things up.  This won't be a quick fix--I'm typing that mostly for my benefit, because last time, my healthy effort only lasted 10 days because I got discouraged and bored (and sidetracked by candy!).  This time around, I need to be in it for the long haul--if I consistently lose 2 pounds a week every week until I hit my goal weight, I will be at 128 pounds in mid-May.  However, that's unrealistic--there will be some weeks when I lose 2 pounds, and others when I won't.  I could go weeks without losing any pounds--you just never know how your body will react as it tries to get used to a new routine.  So I need to be gentle with myself and with my expectations, and stick with it!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Challenge #2: Get Healthy

The Good Housewife Challenge #2 starts TODAY, and focuses on getting myself healthier and losing the weight sticking around from those beautiful babies of mine.  I feel like I'm behind the 8-ball starting this next Challenge of getting myself healthy--I'm sick (still? again? forever???) and I've been crazy busy the last week planning and executing Jake's 4th birthday party!  His birthday was last week, and his party was Saturday--it was just a family party, but with 7 grandkids in our family, that turns into a full-blown extravaganza anyway!  It was a really fun time that I'll hopefully get a post up about later this week.  Today, I want to get into the nitty gritty about Challenge #2.  I'm making a softer start than I had planned--I wanted to hit it with a vengeance and really get into it on Day 1, but with me feeling so crappy, I really don't have the energy or desire to add exercise to my days just yet.  I just want to get better, and I think sleeping will help more than getting up early and getting on my treadmill while hacking up a lung.  I'm disappointed, but I'm not going to let this illness derail my attempts to be illnesses, life, and everything else have in the past.

my previous philosophy ends today!

Let's talk shop: Where am I on this health/weight scale?  I decided to just put it all out there, to help keep myself more accountable.  I am 32 years old, 5'3" (ish) tall, and after weighing myself yesterday, I am at 163 pounds.  A quick trip to the WebMD BMI Calculator shows that for a 5'3" woman my age, my BMI is in the overweight category at 28.9--obese for me starts at 29.9.  That freaks me out a little...I'm really close to being obese.  I know that I don't feel good about myself, but seeing the numbers to back up how I feel is a bit difficult.  Apparently with my waist size (currently wearing a size 10, but I was honest with the calculator--I put in 12, since that's what I should be wearing if I weren't too lazy/depressed to buy new jeans again...), I'm more of a "pear shape" instead of an "apple shape"--carrying more weight in my legs (aka, my thunder thighs) and rear end.  This is actually good news (according to WebMD) because the most harmful fats are the ones around your midsection, and apparently, my pear shape indicates that I don't store as much fat around my midsection (although if you could see my midsection, you would see that fat is quite happy to be stored there as well).  This whole section on WebMD about my waist-to-height ratio made me feel better, actually:
"Your BMI is higher than what's considered healthy, but your waist-to-tallness measurement indicates that you are healthy. Because your current weight is within normal limits, your goal should be to stay active and healthy, aiming for a dress size of no more than 12."
So it could be worse--it's nice to hear that WebMD thinks I'm healthy, even if I'm too large for my height.  I really do try to be healthy, although I definitely acknowledge where I fall short and that I have many weaknesses.  They (and 3 babies...) are what have gotten me to this overweight place!

just putting it all out there...

I really haven't had much of a chance to research tools for weight loss, although I knew I wanted to try a food journal again since that seemed to work for me back in October (and I found it really enlightening).  A friend of mine recommended an app for my phone that has helped her...but I don't have an iPhone, and when I downloaded the app, my phone ran out of space and I was unable to send text messages anymore...hmmm.  Not working for me.  So I thought I would just do my old school Word document journal, but when I was looking at the WebMD BMI calculator, I saw that they offer a free Food and Fitness Planner to track exercise and food I signed up!  They will send me daily reminders to log my intake and help me figure out if I'm eating the appropriate food and the right amount of calories to reach my goal.

Speaking of my, I went a little overambitious on this one.  I put that I want to lose 35 pounds, and get down to 128.  I don't think I've weighed 128 since my boyfriend broke up with me in 9th grade (by disappearing with another girl while we were all on a school field trip...ouch) and I didn't eat for like a month.  FYI, that's not recommended in any way, and I wasn't trying to lose weight--I just didn't feel much like eating as an overemotional 14-year-old.  Looking back, the guy had a mullet and spent hours a day playing Doom on his computer...not sure why I was so upset over that break-up!  So yeah, when I was 14, I weighed 128 pounds.  I'm now 32 years old.  That's almost 20 years ago.  Not sure 128 is a realistic goal (or one I could maintain?), but my motto often is Go Big or Go Home.  I don't like to get a haircut that no one notices, so why would I want to put in months of effort to lose weight and be healthier and not have the crazy good results to show?  So I'm going big...35 pounds big.  That's like more than Jake or Alex weigh.  I want to lose a whole kid.  What's scary to me is that even if I lost those 35 pounds (when I lose those pounds...must think positively), I would still be in the middle of the healthy BMI range for my gender and height--so BMI would want me to lose even more???  The healthy weight range for my height is between 104 and 141 on the BMI, but c'mon, people--if I weighed 104 pounds, I would scare my children and have the perfect Halloween costume year-round.  So 128 seems like the better number when I look at it that way.  141 might be more realistic, but I feel like losing 20 pounds won't be enough for me to feel really good about what I've done.  I want the wow factor, and I think the desire to achieve that wow factor will really drive me through this Challenge.

I'll post my plan of action tomorrow, to let you in on some of the things I'm trying to help me lose the weight.  I think I may try to do some walking over naptime today, just to get back in the exercise groove, even if I can't be more vigorous until I stop coughing.  Happy Challenge #2 Start Day--wish me luck!!  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Must Try Harder

I have somehow managed to take the last 1.5 months off from The Good Housewife Project, which is pretty pathetic considering that I just started the Project not even 3 months ago.  I don't mean that in a blogging sense--I've tried to keep up with the blog itself, even as I've realized that I've been getting further and further from my originally stated goals...  Let's run down the list of my failures, shall we?

  • After Dan informed me that he was "over chicken," I have pretty much managed not to do any cooking...although I did pull out my old standby, pancakes, the other night (predictably, Dan ate cereal instead of my pancakes).  The days after Thanksgiving, I didn't need to cook because we had so many leftovers.  Then cooking kind of went by the wayside in the craziness that was the Christmas build-up--we were super busy on the weekends, and I was totally distracted by Christmas decorating, making sure the right gifts were bought, wrapping, planning, etc...and totally forgot about dinner every single day until the kids were begging for food.  Oops.  Then we all got sick, and no one really felt like eating anything fancy...and I didn't feel like cooking because I was sick.  It's so easy to fall back into the same patterns--something I was hoping to avoid by blogging my successes (or at least attempts!).  I still don't feel well (and neither do the kids--Abby is home from school today with a fever again, so this just never ends, apparently), and one of the biggest joys of Christmas for me is that our families always gift us with restaurant gift cards.  They know how little I enjoy cooking and how eating out is one of our family splurges, so they contribute to the fund--and now I don't want to cook because I've got free meals out there waiting for me.  So I'm feeling uninspired and unmotivated in the kitchen...I'm hoping that I can step it up again here soon.  I need to figure out that dutch oven--I've found a few recipes that seem promising (albeit filled with chicken...Dan's just going to have to get over it and not look a gift chef in the mouth!), so maybe I'll give them a try in the coming weeks. 

I just got totally distracted by the phrase "look a gift horse in the mouth."  As I was typing it (and modifying it to fit my purposes, for better or worse), it seemed like one of those phrases that I've heard a million times but somehow have managed never to write...and in writing it, it felt more like something I had just made up in my head that didn't make any sense.  I was pretty sure I hadn't made that phrase up (because where would I even come up with that?), so I googled it.  My best guess was that the gift horse might bite you (a twist on the phrase "never bite the hand that feeds you"), but I was wrong.  Apparently folks were given horses as gifts in the olden days (another phrase I've said a ton but never written down), and sometimes the gift recipient would rudely check the horse's teeth in front of the gift giver.  A horse's age can be gleaned from his teeth (which also randomly explains the phrase "looking a little long in the teeth" when you want to say that someone is getting older), so inspecting the mouth of a gift horse is kind of like bypassing the birthday card and instead counting the money in the envelope right in front of the person who just handed you the card.  So Dan should just graciously accept my chicken cooking attempts and devour them like the best food he's ever eaten, basically.  Otherwise, it's clear that when my attempts are rebuffed, this gift chef closes down the kitchen, and it's hard to reopen.

  • The house is in post-Christmas disarray, which normally wouldn't bother me too much, but because we've also been sick, I just feel like I desperately need to clean.  After our big clean right before Christmas, I planned to sit down and work out a cleaning schedule for the house so that I could more easily keep on top of things and not get so behind and overwhelmed by the task...but we all got sick, and the hope of a cleaning schedule quickly went down the drain.  I'm slowly attempting to recover the house (got all the ornaments and decorations put away this weekend...minus the tree, which is still standing because it's Dan's job to disassemble it and he hasn't done it yet!), so I plan to work on a cleaning schedule in the next few days so that it's ready for me when I finally do get the house cleaned.  That's probably been my problem this whole time--I want to get on a good schedule immediately after a deep clean so that I can maintain overall cleanliness longer (wow, I sound anal), but I haven't created said schedule yet...and right after a deep clean, the last thing I want to think about is cleaning again!  If I make the schedule now, I'll have it handy and ready to start as soon as the house is clean again...  I'm putting it on my docket!  I did make a list last night of things I wanted to accomplish today, and for the most part, I'm on track with crossing most things off--I think having a list is the way to go for me.

maybe if I learned how to iron, I'd learn similar enthusiasm?

  • My attitude with Dan has been deteriorating...and I truly believe it's a function of being miserably sick, because I do still love him and think he's great despite my outward annoyance.  He actually called me a killjoy the other day...he called me a killjoy.  That's like the pot calling the kettle black.  Where am I getting all these weird idioms today??  That one fits, though--Dan's personality could be aptly described as unjoyful, whereas at least I smile and try most of the time.  People used to call me "perky" long ago, but those days have faded with my perkiness.  In any case, I may have been being a killjoy--Dan is approaching a big milestone in his career (the list on which his name needs to be in order for him to get promoted in the spring comes out tomorrow...), and he didn't think I was appropriately enthused.  I am enthused--a promotion is great!  What I wasn't enthused about at that particular moment is that we've been talking about this ridiculous list for 3 months:  when will it come out?  last year it came out on this day...  maybe it will come out this week?  I've heard it's coming out tomorrow! no, wait--it's not coming out for another three weeks...  the advanced list came out, but no one knows who's on it! etc, etc, etc.  It's only gotten slightly neurotic around here.  What Dan is misconstruing as lack of enthusiasm is the fact that I have so much confidence in his abilities and performance that I KNOW he's on this list without having to see it.  So it doesn't really seem like a huge announcement to me--he will be on the list tomorrow because he is awesome, and he will get promoted in the spring because he deserves it.  I will throw him a big party and maybe make him a cake (even though he doesn't like just seems like the thing to do), and be proud of him like I always am.  I am super happy that he'll be getting promoted (after we see the darn list, of course)--I just never felt there was any doubt in this fact because he impresses the heck out of me (and everyone else).  I'm a pretty bad military wife, and I'm really bad at expressing my support verbally.  I live this life and move every 2 or 3 years and put up with deployments as a show of my support, but I'm bad at jumping-up-and-down at every positive performance evaluation.  Frankly, he gets kudos at work all the time, so it's hard to amp up my excitement for each instance of positive feedback.  I know, that's my problem, and I'm working on it...  Must do better, especially with that long-awaited list coming out tomorrow!

so proud of this man

  • I've been totally slacking off on working out/eating healthy...but I'm justifying my awful binging by saying that I'm living it up before I take the plunge and start behaving more like a conscientious adult and less like a kid in a candy store.  Or, more accurately, a kid in an ice cream and cookie store.  The start date for my Health Challenge is January 14th (not the 15th as previously advertised)--I just want to get through this coming weekend because it's Jake's birthday party, and then I can start tee-totaling on the fatty delicious treats.  I will start the week of the 14th off right!  I'm still trying to work out in my mind how that Challenge is going to work--what do you think?  Should I go Weight Watchers/Biggest Loser style and weigh myself in, and report my weight to you guys?  Honestly, that freaks me out a little bit (Dan doesn't even know what I weigh exactly)...but maybe that kind of public humiliation is what I need to inspire change.  I also don't want this blog to become all about my eating/exercising/weighing habits, so I'm trying to figure out if the Health Challenge gets it's own blog entry every week, every two weeks, every month, or just an occasional mention at the top of other blog entries?  I've got a week to figure out the plan and how I'm going to include it all in the blog--it's in my head, but I haven't started writing out my concrete goals yet.
The only part of The Good Housewife Project that I've felt good about lately is spending time with the kids--between the holidays and all of us being sick, I've spent A LOT of time cooped up in this house with them!  The boys and I have built awesome train tracks, I've helped with setting up the train table numerous times, and Abby and I have had fun bonding time as well--yesterday, I showed her how I am a master of word finds!

It's a new year, and I must get back on track with the Project.  More cooking, more pleasantry with my husband, less junk food eating, more fun with the kids...more feeling on top of things in general.  I'm putting it all at the forefront of my mind again in the hopes that I will be motivated and inspired to at least try to be a Good Housewife!