Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 1 update

So, week one has flown by. I will admit that this week was rough. Tracking everything I eat has been a challenge. Partly because I find myself not wanting to admit that I didn't stick to it. It has also brought to the forefront that everything in my life revolves around food. I love cooking. I love baking. I love seeing people eat my food and knowing that they like it. I will admit that most of the things I bake are treats. Now, I need to find something else to be my focus. I can still love cooking, but maybe I need to look at food in a different way. I cheated a lot this week and I know I can lose even more weight if I make a concerted effort.

The good news is that I am down two pounds. I am wanting to lose a total of 100 pounds, but I'm trying to be realistic and break it down into 25 pounds at a time. I can do 25 pounds. If I do that, I will be a healthier mom. I will be more active. I will be developing the habits I want to develop. So, my first goal is 25 pounds. My goal is to be down 25 pounds for our family vacation. Then, I can buy one or two new clothing items and feel great in time to see all of our wonderful family and spend time together.

This week, I have stalked a blog called "Drizzle Me Skinny". If you haven't checked it out, you totally should. This lady is a Weight Watchers success story. She has lost a lot of weight and has kept it off by creating a lot of great tasting, healthy dinners. My favorite one from the last week was the "Buffalo Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups." They were AMAZING. Even Bruce loved them. While I didn't use the diet cheese (I had a hard time finding it in my area), it only added one additional point to use regular cheese. They were spicy and saucy and just plain delicious. Tonight we are having Ranch Bacon Chicken Wonton cups and they look tasty. I'm super excited to try them. For me, finding new recipes that fit into my new lifestyle has been fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A New Me

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I think I was ten when someone called me fat. I remember wondering what happened. I didn’t feel fat. I knew I was chubby, but when did I get fat? It continued through Junior High and High School. In High School, through a miracle and a minor case of anorexia, I was able to be slender for the first (and only) time in my life. I remember subsisting on a lot of Diet Coke. I always had to eat dinner at home, so that kept me from completely going off the deep end and made my parents think my rapid weight loss was healthy. To this day, my mother considers that brief moment in my life when I lost all of my weight as a sign that I really can do it if I really set my mind to it.

When I was 27 years old, someone convinced me that I would never get married unless I lost weight. Like a fool, I believed them. I was lonely and tired and just wanted to feel beautiful for once in my life. So, after scraping every last penny together that I could find, I had lap band surgery. Over the course of the next year, I lost about 40 pounds. I was still significantly over weight, but on the mend. While this process was taking place, I started dating the love of my life. Surprisingly, he had known me for several years. At my heaviest and at my new, slightly lighter frame. I remember when I told him about my lap band surgery, he told me that I was a moron to believe that nobody could love a fat girl. He then went on to tell me “I would love you no matter what size you are.”

True to his word, he has. Over the course of our first year of marriage, I lost an additional 20 pounds. I remember thinking I was so close to my goal. And then came our first child. He as perfect. He was everything I had ever hoped for. With him, I felt complete. But I kept on gaining between 15-20 for each pregnancy. Now, I have 3 kids, am 36 years old, and am five pounds heavier than I was with my lap band surgery.

I cry a lot. I worry that my husband won’t love me. I have ankle problems because of my weight and have suffered from serious depression. I have tried every diet under the sun. I don’t eat an enormous amount. People look at overweight people and say a lot of stupid stuff. Like, “If they really wanted to lose weight, they would.” Oh, if it were that simple. I have been fighting this demon for 26 years. I want more than anything to be healthy for my kids. I try to walk. I try to be active and show my kids what healthy is. It just doesn’t seem to work.

For this purpose, I am starting over one last time. We are trying to have another baby, with very little success. I have decided that if I can’t get pregnant, maybe it is God’s way of telling me it is time to get healthy. I am going to start out slow. I would love to lose a lot of weight fast, but I don’t know if that is wise or healthy for me. I joined weight watchers last week. Just online because our finances won’t allow for more. I made my first Weight Watchers Dinner last night. And I am cutting out all food after 8 p.m.. That is usually my hardest time of the day. I get depressed then and then I feed that feeling with snack food.

My amazing husband suggested starting to blog. He suggested that there had to be other women out there who struggled with their weight and who had moments of discouragement. While I am on this journey, we will still be trying to get pregnant. If that happens, the focus will go to maintaining the new lifestyle changes so that after baby four is born, we can pick up. If I don’t get pregnant, I will work my hardest to be the healthiest Mama I can be to my cute kids who deserve the very best.

Join me on this journey. Share what works for you. Share what you struggle with. Together, maybe we can remind each other that the scale really is only a number and our worth is so much more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

We're All Winners!

Recently, our family has gone to two community events. Both were baseball games and involved adults playing against kids and teens. At these events, I noticed something that seems to becoming a serious trend. As a Mom, I can see why people do it. It makes kids feel good. It gives everyone a chance to shine. But as a Mom, it terrifies me. Is this what we are raising our children to expect?

What, you ask, am I referring to? The idea that no one can strike out, that everyone gets to bat. We see it in our schools more and more. Every person who tries out has to make the team. Every person on the team has to play. Everyone is a winner. Society is the loser. I watched these games, both of which the Handsome Hubby played in, with growing annoyance. What happened to three strikes and you're out? What happened to sitting on the bench if you aren't playing well? We are raising a generation of children who are entitled. Entitled to win. Entitled to play. Entitled to a job and a house and all of those things that are part of the American dream. But with one exception. The American dream hinges on the idea that we can accomplish anything with a lot of hard work. Are we teaching this to our children?

The first game was won by the kids. The kids cheered and talked about how they beat the adults. It was a fun win for the kids. It was a sad commentary on the society we live in. Thirteen kids got up to bat with nine outs in the last inning. NINE. Every kid who wanted to bat had to have a chance. Every kid who got up to bat got a hit. Every kid who got up to bat was a winner. I played a very different kind of sport. I was a sporty girl. I loved playing. I wasn't very good at anything, however. I played softball from the age of ten through high school. I wasn't good enough to make the team. I played on a community girls team. I loved it. It was fun to me. Still, there were times that I hated it. I wasn't a very good batter. I struck out. A LOT. I remember one of the few games that my Grandpa came to watch. I wanted so badly to hit the ball. I struck out instead. Twice. It was humiliating. I was very sad. I wanted to impress him and show him that I was good at something. I learned a good lesson, though. I could deal with embarrassment. I could pick myself up, wipe myself off, and play again the next time. I wanted to pitch or play first base. I was tall enough. Not good enough. Instead I was relegated to the outfield. I didn't love it. Surprisingly, though, I was a good outfielder. I really was. I wasn't a great infielder. I learned to like it. I learned to watch the game from a different perspective.

I hope that someday, my kids will lose. I hope that they will play sports and someone will keep the score. I hope they will have to sit on the bench occasionally. I hope that they will strike out and miss that catch. I hope they will try out for something and get turned down. I hope they will learn to dust themselves off and try again. Maybe that will mean playing baseball with Mom and Dad to practice and get better. Maybe it means just not playing. It also means learning to handle disappointment. It means learning that they aren't great at everything and that is okay. My children need to learn the value of being told no; from me, from teachers, from coaches and employers. They need to learn that working hard is a part of the equation. That they are capable of anything and that part of that is being capable of overcoming the adversities in life.

Life is full of adversities. Life is hard and difficult and full of tears. There are days that the whole world is falling apart and it hurts so bad. However, we keep on going, knowing the days will get better. There is sunshine out there and it will find us. We will find a job. We will figure out how to overcome this trial. We will handle this disappointment and come out stronger and healthier. Looking back on the trials in life, I am amazed at the strength I learned I had. When my husband finished college, he was looking for a job. He couldn't find one. He applied everywhere. Being a teacher, he had a very short window of opportunity to find a job. Once the school year started, he wasn't going to be finding one. So, he worked as a substitute teacher during the day and delivered pizza at night. He worked about sixteen hours a day to provide for our family. It was a really hard time for us. But it taught us something very valuable. We could do hard things. We could overcome obstacles. We could strike out and still be okay.

Please, as a society, we need to stop this. We need to stop teaching our children the big lie that they are entitled to winning. The only thing that they are entitled to is having people who love them even when they strike out. My sweet children, I will love you forever. I will love you when you get cut from the team. I will wipe your tears when that girl you really cared about breaks up with you. I will hold your hand when you don't get that part in the school play. Then I will remind you that Mom loves you. I will remind you that Dad loves you. I will promise you that Heavenly Father loves you more than anyone else and He will always love you, even when your whole world falls apart. It will fall apart. It will feel like that hard time will never end. But you will be prepared for it. You will be prepared because you have learned to lose gracefully. You will be prepared because you understand that the only approval you need to be seeking for is His. You will be prepared because you will know that His plan is greater than our plan and His plan will provide us with endless happiness. Learn to lose and learn to trust in that plan and all will work out in the end. I promise!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our attempt at a new outlook!

It has been FAR too long since I last wrote. Not for a lack of desire, but more because I haven't the foggiest idea how to share all of the wonderful things that seem to be going through my mind. First and foremost, we have a new little addition to our family. In February, our third child entered the world. He is absolute perfection. He is the easiest baby out of the three. He makes me happy. So do my other two. I love being a mom. I love being with my kids. I am not great at so many things. I don't do near enough with things like preschool and learning activities. But I am great at loving my kids.

There is no higher calling than being a mother. I remember being a small little girl and knowing that I wanted that more than anything. There was a time in my life when I didn't think it would happen. I thought that this most choice blessing wouldn't be mine. I was single and in my late twenties and wasn't sure I would ever meet my own Mr. Right. I was devastated by that idea. But I was also devastated by the idea that it also meant that I wouldn't get to have all of the babies I wanted. Then, Heavenly Father led me to a wonderful man who became my eternal companion. Within short order, our oldest was born. Now, I look at my three kids and am amazed at the blessings that call me Mommy. We don't have an extraordinary life. We are rather boring, in fact. We hang out at home most of the time. We struggle financially. We pray for miracles in our lives. We pray for our marriage and our children and all those that we hold dear. I never understood what being a mother really entailed. When my Mom would tell me that she prayed for me, I would laugh it off. I was a good kid, making good choices. Why would she need to pray for me? Yet, now I find my prayers laced with plea's for my kids. A prayer that one will figure out potty training. A prayer that another will be able to sleep in her big girl bed. A prayer that we can be better parents to the sweet little ones who sneak into our room in the middle of the night.

As a parent, what wouldn't we do for our children? I would lay down my life for my kids. I would take away all of their pain and all of their sorrow if I could. I would do anything to help them be the best person they can be. What a great testimony this is to me of the love of our Heavenly Father for us. My Heavenly Father loves His children far better than I could love my children. He wants nothing more for us than success. He wants to see us happy. He wants to hold us and wipe away our tears. He provided a way for us, to erase all of those tears and fears. To take away everything bad in our life. If we let him.

Too many times in our lives, we refuse to let the Lord take the reigns. I speak of this with more experience than I should have. I keep learning, over and over again, that I am not in control. I try to tell the Lord what I want, what I need. I take away His ability to give me what I really need. I ignore that He sees my true potential. He sees the lessons we need to learn from an experience. It doesn't take away all of our pain and trials, but it should help us feel less alone. We are never alone. If we could see the cheering section that surrounds us, we would never doubt ourselves ever again. I say this knowing that next week,I will still doubt myself. I say this knowing that tomorrow I may have a rough day with my kids or finances or some other trivial thing that will seem to take all of my energy and faith and everything that I am talking about now will go flying out the window. It is the way we are. It is far easier to talk about faith than to actually display it in our lives. So tonight, as I type this, I pray that I can teach them this lesson more than any other lesson. When we turn our lives over to the Lord, He will do far more with it than we ever thought possible.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Mom Dilemma

I've read two articles recently about motherhood. One talked about the working mom and one talked about the stay-at-home mom. It was a very eye opening read. It made me realize that there is a lot of anger from both parties. Each feels like it is being criticized from the other. As someone who is currently a stay-at-home mom, but who worked for a while with my first baby, I have been thinking a lot about it. Why does this have to be a wrong or right issue? Can't both parties be right? Can't both parties be validated?

I will admit it. When I was working, I cried on my way to work most days. Leaving my baby in the care of someone else was horrible. Most of the time, I made my husband drop him off because I couldn't stand listening to my sweet boy cry. I wanted to hold him and get him to stop crying and make sure that he was always happy. But as those who work know, they cry when you drop them off, even in the loving arms of Grandma or Aunts or the best babysitter in the world. You feel guilty for putting work ahead of them (even if it is only in your mind). you feel guilty for only getting to be with them for the few hours at night that you get to see them. You feel guilty if you can't do everything at work. You feel guilty if you can't give your spouse as much attention as you used to. The life of a working mom is all about guilt. You learn to balance it. Or ignore it. You learn to ignore the petty or judgmental comments that people make. They aren't you. They aren't in your shoes and they don't know why you are working. They are judging you based on their own beliefs and values. It still sucks.

However, there are hard days as a stay-at-home Mom. You feel like all you are is a slave. All I do all day long is watch children. I do three loads of laundry. I make breakfast. I feel guilty if I take the lazy way out and give them cold cereal. I clean the kitchen. I pick up toys. I think about how awesome the octopod would be to live in and want to smack the crap out of Dora. I read books. I pick up more toys. I clean crayon off of the front room wall while wondering how in the world they got a hold of the crayons that I had tried so hard to hide. I pick up toys again. I make lunch and try to bribe my son into eating carrots with his sandwich. I pick up more toys. I finally get to take a shower when I can get one of the kids to take a nap and then leave the other in front of cartoons. Which I feel guilty about. Then somewhere in there, you have to figure out dinner and pick up more toys sometime before Daddy gets home. By the time he finally gets home, I want to cry. I want to go curl in my bed and go to sleep. I feel guilty for not giving my kids the kind of life they deserve. I feel guilty for not being super mom. I always feel guilty.

The point I'm trying to make is that no matter what you choose to do, there is always guilt. You will either feel guilty for working or you will feel guilty for a million other little things that you are failing at all day long. I feel guilty for struggling so much financially and for not working. There are days when I wake up and wish more than anything that I could go to work. I miss talking to adults. I miss seeing somebody besides my husband who talks in full sentences. I miss feeling confident and capable. I miss the working me. But then I have my sweet boy come up and ask if it is time to cuddle yet. I would miss those fabulous moments when my sweet girl holds her arms out to be held. I would miss the fun games we get to play. I love so much about being a stay-at-home mom. I loved a lot about being a working Mom. No matter what you choose to do, there will be moments of doubt, when you wonder if you are totally screwing up your kids by working/staying home. No matter the choice you make, you will feel guilty at times. And that is okay. It means you care. It means you want to be the best mom possible. Don't let others ever dictate to you what your life should be. We have all been dealt circumstances that are uniquely ours. There are blessings no matter what choice you make. There are struggles no matter what choice you make. Decide what you want to do. Make the decision prayerfully, with input from your spouse and the Lord. At the end of the day, they are the influences that matter most.

I am so grateful to have so many friends and family who are such amazing moms. I have so many women to look at to try to emulate. Some of them work. Some of them stay at home. Some do a mixture of both. Yet, when I look at them, I don't see a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. I just see a great mom who loves her kids a lot and wants the very best for them. At the end of the day, happy and healthy kids are all that really matters.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I have been at a loss for words lately. I have been trying very hard to stay upbeat as we have watched not just ourselves, but quite a few people we love and care about struggle financially. It is such a hard thing to watch. In my own life, as hard as it is, it is manageable. But it is harder when it is people who seem to have struggled so much through the past several years, both with finances and medical conditions that seem to come one right after the other. I have questioned why, when they have sacrificed so much to try and live the way they believe the Lord would have them live. Yet I know, deep down, that we are all being blessed. Maybe not the way we would choose, but the way that the Lord sees fit.

Every six months, our church has a general conference that is broadcast world wide. It is an awesome experience to get to hear from prophets and apostles of the Lord. They provide encouragement. They provide useful advice. Occasionally, they chastise and remind us of the things we should be doing. As this fall's conference is approaching, I can't help think of what they would tell us to fix our financial problems.

I believe they would remind us, once again, of the need to be self reliant. I understand that the world we live in is very dependent upon lots of people. This isn't like pioneer times when each family had farms where they raised their own meats and crops, made their own soaps, butters, and any other goods that might be needed. We live in a time where most people live places that make anything more than a minimal garden very difficult. But that doesn't mean we can't be self reliant. If we aren't there now, it is time to prepare ourselves for that. It is truthfully about living on less. One of my favorite questions is "Is it a want or a need?" So many times in my life, I work and work and work for something that turns out to be a want, not a need. I don't need an ATV or a trailer or a really cool SUV. My seven year old mini-van will suffice. It doesn't hurt my husband to drive a 12 year old sedan. It isn't what we would love to have, but our needs are being met. Someday, when we have more expendable income, we will get that nice SUV. For now, we will survive and take care of the things we have.

One of the things we have had to cut out in our efforts to become self reliant is fast food. It has been hard. My kids love the occasional Happy Meal. But we don't eat out anymore. To eat out once takes about 10% of my monthly grocery budget. Sometimes a lot more, depending on where we go. Now it is a treat. We went to McDonald's for my three year old's birthday. He got to choose where we went. Not Mom's idea of a great birthday celebration, but a play land beats a nice sit down place in his eyes any day. We eat out less than once a month now. It is hard, especially when we have driven in to town to run our errands and find that the time has now come for dinner. Instead, I pack sandwiches in our little cooler and we find a park and sit down to eat on the grass. Not as exciting as fries and a free toy, but much better on our wallets. Last week, I didn't follow my own rule. We went out to eat one night. Then, the whole way home, I wanted to kick myself for wasting so much money. Especially knowing that I could have gotten three or four nice meals for that same amount of money if I made them at home.

There are so many other things that we can do to become self reliant. I am so grateful for our financial challenges. They have brought us closer together as a couple. As we prioritize what we really want out of life, it becomes easier to stay strong together. We sit down monthly and review our game plan. We have a budget that we stick to like glue. As extra money comes in, we decide what we want to put it towards and how it will help our long term goal of becoming debt free. It makes it easier to not spend it on something that we don't really need. But we also make it a matter of prayer. When we hit our knees and tell the Lord what we need, we find that we usually happen to have it happen. Last month we were short what we needed for our budget. We were debating what to do. I decided to clean out our freezer and found some freezer wrapped hamburger and chicken in the very back. Enough for a whole months groceries. It may seem small, but not having to buy meat for the month made up the money we were short. I believe that as we prayerfully work our hardest and tell the Lord what we need, the windows of Heaven will open and we will be taken care of. That doesn't mean that it is always the way we would desire. It means it is the way that will take care of our immediate needs.

Self reliance is such a broad topic and one I could talk about for hours. I am trying to focus on the little things in my own life that I have control over. So next time, I will focus on something else. But I do have to do a plug for meal planning, once again. If there has been anything that has had a bigger impact on our budget and sticking to it, it is meal planning. It makes it possible to avoid going to the grocery store for last minute purchases. It is so much easier to talk myself out of going out to eat when I know what I am making. I take the meat out the night before and stick it in the fridge. Then the excuse is totally gone when it gets close to dinner time. I love meal planning. It has literally changed my life. Plus, since I started meal planning when we first got married, my husband has lost ten pounds (I know, not much over a five year period) and I have lost over fifteen (If you take out all of those times when I am pregnant. That kind of kills my average!) without either of us doing any fad dieting. So, consider starting it, even if it is only one week at a time. I promise, you will see a difference!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zucchini Overload

Usually at our house, we have a zucchini overload this time of year. Not as much this year, but in normal years, I have more than I think I can ever use. I love it! I love zucchini. I love all of the things you can make with it. So today I thought I would share a couple of my favorite zucchini recipes. Then, the next time you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, you can try one of these!

As a kid, my favorite part of zucchini season was zucchini pancakes. I have to warn you, these are not your standard pancakes. In fact, these are savory, cheesy, wonderful goodies that will leave your mouth watering. The recipe isn't exact. You will find that you have to vary it in order to get it work. A lot depends on how wet your zucchini ends up being. But here are the basic ingredients:

Shredded zucchini
finely diced onion
bread crumb
salt and pepper
shredded cheese

For my little family, I usually need at least two zucchini's to make this as a meal. You mix everything together. You want the consistency to be thick enough to hold together in a frying pan, but not quite as thick as you would see a meatloaf. Then, place in a buttered frying pan (butter is best here)and form into a pancake shape. Let it fry away beautifully. Cook on each side until it is a dark brown. Golden brown looks good, but it won't hold together to flip it unless you go a little longer. Then, flip and cook through on the other side. These are so tasty. When I was in college, I made these all the time in the fall. My roommates even liked them! My husband likes to put salsa on his. Growing up, on put ketchup. As an adult, I love them just plain. Either way, they are AWESOME!! In fact, these might be dinner tonight.

One of my other favorites is a recipe I recently rediscovered. My Mom tells me she used to make it all of the time. I don't remember this. But a couple of years ago, I pulled it out of the family cookbook and made it. I loved it! Now we make it several times during the late summer/early fall. The best part about this recipe is that it freezes great. So make an extra pan of it and in the middle of winter, you can taste those fresh summer flavors.

Zucchini Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. sliced green onions
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Chili powder
1 c. sour cream
1 large tomato, sliced
3 zucchini, diced
1 small can green chilies
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 c. cooked rice
2 c. grated monterey jack (can use cheddar, too)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute beef, zucchini, onions, and seasonings in a lightly greased skillet until meat is browned through and vegetables are tender. Add green chilies, rice, sour cream, and one cup of cheese. Turn into a buttered, shallow 2 quart casserole dish. Arrange tomato slices on top. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Now, I have to be honest here. I'm not a big fan of the cooked tomatoes on top. Most of the time, I just skip that step. Especially if I'm going to freeze it. But I still love the recipe!! But dessert may be more your thing. Everyone knows about zucchini bread and zucchini cake and all of those lovely treats. But in my family, the only way to eat it was as Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. Now you can see why we loved it, right? Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. So, when you need a chocolate fix, but still want it to be a little healthy, look no further.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. grated zucchini
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. cocoa
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts (opt)

Beat eggs until fluffy. Add sugar, oil, and remaining ingredients. Beat two minutes. Place in two greased and floured bread pans or one bundt pan and bake at 350 for about one hour.

Enjoy those zucchini. Now to decide which one to make first!