ApPEARantly Delicious

Charlie hasn't been a real fan of baby food - from the jar or my home-ground stuff. He likes to spray it. He always wants to eat when we are eating and his bottle just isn't doing it for him anymore, but he doesn't go for the mush. I think it's to do with the contraband cookies that his brothers supply him with while I'm occupied with things like driving.

I've been holding back on the food progression because his teeth have been slow in coming and I wasn't sure what he could really handle. He took matters into his own hands (and what adorable fat hands they are!) a little while back - totally snatched this pear out of my hand (I had only taken one bite!) and devoured it. The onesie he was wearing has never been the same, but now I know - don't feed the boy like a baby. He has a tooth and a half now and he knows how to use it.


I'm At That Stage

My husband calls it the self-loathing stage.

It's that point of writing a big paper that your idea feels old, you feel like you're not getting to the real point, you can't think of any way to get yourself out of the corner you wrote yourself into, and the deadline is looming in a big way.

And you don't much want to finish it anymore anyway but it would be really terrible - not to mention, totally lame - if you don't.

Usually, he says, this comes on most strongly when you've procrastinated, which I have not (this time). But I still feel like banging my head against a brick wall, throwing up, and/or blowing it all off to go play in the (yay!!!) sunshine. Yeah, 83 degrees today and I have to go to the library quiet room.

And think about Tolstoy's literary devices in War and Peace. And listen to the clock tick. And get the thing written.

I just can't pump these things out in mere hours, the late night/early morning before it's due anymore. That makes me feel old and stodgy.

And I'm a little paralyzed at the moment because it doesn't look good yet and I really, really want this one to be good. It's probably my last school paper ever.

Plus, I'm not drinking coca-cola anymore so I have no substance abusive buzz to help me make it through.

Stupid healthy eating.

Stupid paper.

Stupid me. Why did I sign up to do this again?

Yep, I'm at that stage.

(You might not see me again until this is all over...in a week or so.)


Personal Service Announcement

I would just like to know...

What feed reader do you use and why do you / do you not like it?

I mostly use Bloglines, just cuz it was my first feed reader love, and I tried Google reader but didn't much like the format. So...tell me what else there is out there, because I am tied up right now and can't research but I want to make a change ASAP.

(I'm always looking for new and better ways to keep up with all you all, and gearing up for the days when I will be able to do more reading of your pearly posts...)


Reality: TV

This is where I recant the preceeding post.

Well, OK, I'm not rescinding the sentiment, but I do have to retract the anecdotes that inspired it because, at it turns out, my son's bits of amazing knowledge aren't magically appearing after all. Impressive that he retains it all, but I now know the whole truth.

Shortly after I posted all about his thought processes on pupa stages and stages where you do plays, he came to me asking for scissors and tape because he wanted to make "a raisin dispenser out of an envelope."

Me: Uh, Calvin, what do you need a raisin dispenser for? Every time I give raisins to you, you tell me how much you hate them. Why would you need a dispenser for them? Will you actually eat them? (We had raisins in oatmeal for breakfast, so I thought that was the connection with raisins.)

Calvin: Well, um, no. But I just want to make the dispen -

Me: Actually, wait a minute! My real question is, how do you even know the word "dispenser?" Huh?

(with a shrug) Curious George.

Me: Oh. Huh. Well, I'm not giving you raisins.

Calvin: Well could I have scissors and tape - or maybe some glue? I need some kind of adhesive.

Me: Adhesive? And how do you know that word?

Calvin: Curious George, Mom. Or wait. Maybe Cyberchase? Everything I know comes from Curious George or Cyberchase.

Or Super Why, Calvin.

Calvin: It used to be Super Why but now I know how to read so I don't learn anything from there anymore. Curious George and Cyberchase.

Henry: Yeah. But I still learn from Super Why. Hey! You can make a dispenser for goldfish, Calvin!

Calvin: Great idea, Henry! (He really does talk to his brother like that, like a grandpa to his grandson or something...) Yeah, Mom! A goldfish dispenser! Can I have the scissors and tape now?

And they were off...

Besides regretting the steep preschool tuition we've paid this year, I was left to reconsider the limits I've placed on their TV viewing. Maybe I need to reduce their interaction with nonverbal animated monkeys and add some instructive how-to housework programs. Since they like learning from TV so much and all.

Probably most importantly, maybe I need to pay closer attention to what they are picking up so that I'm not embarrassed on my blog, thinking my child is mysteriously erudite when really he's just another PBS Kid. Then I might also be prepared with scissors and adhesive when they want a hands-on activity to supplement their viewing experience.

But it got even better today...

Lily came over to play after church and while I was making lunch, I heard her telling Henry that she was going to buy her mom the Topsy Turvy, "and she is going to looooove it!" Henry asked what a Topsy Turvy was and this is the one-breath answer he got, complete with enthusiastic hand motions:

"It's a little thing that you can hang upside down that's like a little greenhouse and you can grow delicious fresh tomatoes in it for salads, sandwiches and sauces to enjoy all season long!"

And maybe you had to be there, but hearing this entire schpiel from a little four-year-old girl made me completely bust a spleen. I could not stop laughing, especially when I remembered the blank but slightly awestruck look on Henry's face while she gave it to him. I was laughing hard, but still to myself, when Calvin asked what they were talking about. Lily said, "I was telling Henry that I'm getting my mom the Topsy Turvy." And Calvin said, "Oh! I've seen that! It's so awesome! You can grow tomatoes in it..."

I lost it again and David came downstairs wondering what was so funny and as I was retelling what she had said, tears streaming down my face because it struck me so funny, Lily overheard me and interrupted with, "Plus! The best bruschetta you've ever tasted!"

Then, for just a moment, standing there at the stove in my Sunday dress with a brood of children at my feet and a smiling husband, all of us talking about the wonders of the Topsy Turvy, I really felt like I was starring on the Truman Show, experiencing one of those tender product-placement moments. And I couldn't contain myself.

So...if I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!



Calvin and Henry woke up early this morning and went downstairs to yell and throw things play with blocks until the rest of us felt like greeting the day. We heard them playing and being violent shouting and giggling like it was their job or something.

I went down to try to catch a few more zz's on the couch be with them, and neither of them said anything to me, just continued their playing. But David wasn't even down the stairs this morning when Calvin met him first thing with this bit of informational analysis:

"Dad, did you know there are two kinds of stages? There's the kind of stage that you do a play on, and there's pupa stages."

I don't think the boy's brain ever turns off. He's always processing, even when he just woke up or is in the middle of playing wildly with his brother. And I can't figure out who's telling him about stuff like pupa stages. Seriously.

He just seems to soak stuff up, ideas that I guess aren't new to me anymore, but they strike him, and then it occurs to me that he's seeing or noticing everything for the first time around. This is one of my favorite drawings that he's made lately:

The green circles at the bottom are people in a theatre, watching a movie. The movie is about a big orange man. The green and red stripes are the curtain going up so that the people can see what's on the screen.

The greatest show on earth is watching how my kids' minds and ideas and personalities take shape, what they think about and what they see. Their learning is becoming almost completely independent of me, and creative and interesting in ways that I could never orchestrate. They are insatiable in their curiosity and have such a capacity to take it all in. The curtain never goes down - it's always going up, I think - on their appreciation and understanding of the world. And I can't get enough.

Even when I'd love to catch a few more zz's on the couch.



Spring is teasing us. We have one day of sunshine and near warmth, then three days of gray. Misty air and gooshy ground and chilly wind. There are blossoms and daffodils, but I want sunshine! (And I need to be able to put my children outside to play.)

I am in the middle of writing a big paper and preparing for my final oral exam, so I don't feel at ease blogging much until I get those closer to finished. Hopefully by the time the sun comes out to stay, I will be able to play and enjoy it.

Maybe my sense of humor will surface again, too, and I'll have more entertaining things to post. Right now, there is only War and Peace and a lot of crumpled balls of notebook paper everywhere. (And I need to be able to put my children outside to play.)


They're Mine, That's the Best Part

I'm still enjoying a honeymoon phase with my kids right now. Enjoying the mom gig for the most part. Charlie's been teething and has had some rough nights and I'm feeling tired and stressed, but my kids light up my world, and it seems like there are so many really small things that I just don't want to ever forget...


Our church has a worldwide General Conference every six months that is broadcast from Salt Lake City. We get to watch it from home in our area - thanks to awesome public broadcasting - so we took in church on the couch today. We only expect the boys to be present and mostly still for just one of the four two-hour sessions, but Calvin surprisingly spent most of both sessions today snuggled up "in the nest" (that's the place behind my knees when I lay on my side and bend them), asking questions and repeating things that were said.

Tonight when we were putting them to bed, Henry was not choosing his bedtime story and was doing the pajama time circus, so Cal went in and picked out the stories. He came out with two books in hand and said, "I decided that we need to read some Jesus-y books tonight, since it was Sunday and we watched General Conference today." I think he just didn't want it to end.

So Jesus-y books it was. I personally kinda like them.


Henry paid attention off and on to the conference. At the very end, today, though, he was suddenly riveted (standing right in front of the TV) when one of the speakers asked for the little children in the audience to listen for a moment to a few things that they could do to make their mother's lives happier. Henry heard, "One of the best things you can do is put your arms around her neck and tell her that you love her." He immediately turned around with this shy little grin on his face, his head tipped to one side, and sidled up to me with a little blush, to give me a hug. It was so precious - he heard something he should do and immediately wanted to do it.


The other night Cal stumbled into my room in the wee hours of the morning saying he had a bad dream. He climbed into bed with me but was so restless and neither of us were getting back to sleep, and David hadn't slept well for a couple nights in a row, so I got up and told Cal it was time to go back to his own bed. He went into the guest room instead and said he wanted to sleep there instead of his bunk. I said OK and even though I hadn't intended to, and he didn't ask me to, I crawled in with him and put my arm around him and we fell into a much more comfortable sleep. I thought nothing of it, but the next day while they were playing, I heard Calvin telling Henry, "You know what Mom did? I had a bad dream last night and so she stayed with me the whole rest of the night. Isn't that nice?"


When I made Calvin and Henry their fringie blankets (the night before Henry was born), I mostly intended them to be decorative and had no idea how attached a little guy could get to something like that. Henry has it bad for his fringies. I sometimes forget...

Tonight he found a bright orange wig at Auntie S's that he was alternately wearing proudly on his head and swinging wildly from his hand, saying he had a million orange fingers. Whatever. When it came time to go home, he had it on his head while I was putting his shoes on and it was tickling my face. I said, "Wow. That's a nice wig you've got there, Henry." He gave this sentimental little sigh and in the most wistful voice I have ever heard said, "Yeah. It looks...like fringies." It made me laugh that he even connected the two, but also the way he said it was like fringies was long lost and he hadn't seen it her forever and the wig was a sad reminder of the friendship he once had...This little boy is something else, I'm telling you.


And then there is Charlie. David calls him the "baby that makes you want another baby baby." I'm working on a ten-month tricks video. Coming soon. Because even the third time around, "so big" is pretty darling. Especially when he tries to do it while crawling, without sitting up first. Stay tuned...


Oh yeah, and I was just about to meltdown about the house being a disaster and so many school deadlines and my brain capacity is capoot and blah...blah..blah...guess I'll go bury my head in the sand blog, and my husband cleaned the kitchen and washed the mirrors and windows and swept the floors and put away all the toys. So now I can study, write, and go to school all day tomorrow in peace. Shoot.

Maybe it can get better than this, but I can't imagine.


A Trip to the Grocery Store

We've become Costco lovers. Third kid was apparently the tipping point, because I just didn't "get it" before. Not a big fan of huge quantities in giant containers that go bad before we can use it. But now? Cheap diapers. Need I say more? But then, there's also...Free samples. The Food Court Chicken Bakes that I don't eat anymore. Fruit smoothies to keep the kids in line. We go as a family because going with the boys on my own is often more than I can get my head around and I hate spending hours of evening or Saturday time alone, grocery shopping. It's a (kinda) cheap family night activity. I guess.

But that's not the point here. My MIL sent an e-mail forward a couple weeks ago that I've thought about every time I've gone to Costco since. Especially since we are getting ready to take our living to a country that, while it has made great strides since I lived there ten years ago, definitely does not enjoy the same variety, economy, and flat luxury that we do...well, it's a lot of food for thought.

So, here's a week's worth of groceries, around the world. (And since I got it in an e-mail forward, sorry I can't give credit to the originator. If anyone knows an original link or has the time to search it out, I'd love to know about it!) Go ahead - count family members, take a look at what they eat...

The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States:
The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week $341.98

The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09


The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

I don't think we - who enjoy so much plenty - need to apologize. I'm just saying that we should maybe do what we'd like our kids to do:

Look at what you have instead of what you don't.

Stop thinking you need "more" all. the. time.

Say - and feel - "thank you."


That's Exactly What It Is

Out of the blue a while back, Cal asked me what a sigh was. I demonstrated with a deep breath in and let it out with a little sound of my voice. "It's kinda like that," I said.

His answer: "Oh. And you're kinda thinking about something sad at the same time?"

Yeah, like about how fast babies grow up.



Calvin has a new-found love for asparagus, but he calls it despairagus. I love that and haven't corrected him because there are so few things that indicate that he is still a little boy. Plus, it's a fitting title for a post about losing weight. Which is what this is. Just want to put that out there, in case you want to click away without further ado.

In lieu of regularly visiting a willowy power-suited Jenny Craig "expert" who 9 pounds in two weeks and now wants to tell me how to lose 60, or visiting a WW meeting every week where someone weighs me and then gives me a "woohoo" pat on the back over .7 of a pound lost and an "everyone has setbacks" arm around the shoulder over every 3.6 pounds gained in a week, I thought I might as well put it on the ol' blog.

Maybe the fact that I don't want to seek counseling or weigh in publicly means I'm not sufficiently humble or serious enough for this undertaking. Or maybe I'll end up like most everyone who tries the D-word and quits after a couple weeks, then starts again after a couple months. Or years. I guess we'll see.

In an effort to get down in writing my reasons and commitment and also to air some of my thoughts on weighty subjects, and even to share some of the things I've confronted in myself since I started this big D on Valentine's Day, I decided to post the good, the bad and the ugly for your...er, enjoyment. I don't think I want this blog to be a diary of poundage, but I want to write about it today.

The Good

1. I have discovered healthy snacks that I love and actually, truly do prefer over the crap I was eating nonstop before. Guacamole with vegetables. Cottage cheese with fruit. Edamame!

2. The major step and one that I am most positive has contributed to what little success I have experienced is that I've turned into a water-drinking phenom. Coca-cola is out. Forever. Well, I tried it again after four weeks off and it did nothing for me - the burn that I thought I lived for was decidely less than thrilling and the taste was bleh. If nothing else changes in my life, this is the one that makes me feel the best.

3. And speaking of the water consumption, I think I am fully hydrated for the first time in my whole life. The best thing is that I see it in my skin, which is healthier and fresher than it has ever been.

4. I have stuck to this plan for 7 weeks! in a row! There have been a few flop days, holidays and family get-togethers where I didn't keep myself in check very well, but I've gotten right back on. That is huge for me.

5. I've really started thinking and feeling that it's much too early in my life to feel frumpy and tired, which I have for the last five or so years. Thirty-three is YOUNG! What am I doing with myself? I've got a lot of play left in me and I need to get the poundage off to enjoy it.

6. In high school I thought I was one of the "big" girls. I wore big clothes because I coudln't look the way I was supposed to in the stylish clothes. I've since realized that I was curvy. Big difference. I have boobs and a butt. That is not going to change. Luckily, my husband is not your standard guy who finds the 12-year-old boy figure attractive. (I'm asking for some killer Google searches with that one, I'm sure...) I'm happy being happy with what I have, and knowing that when I'm trimmed down, the figure I have doesn't have to fit the cover girl standard to be beautiful. It's going to be fabulous.

7. I have made some delicious dinners for our family. (This is my husband's comment - not mine.) I'm learning to cook really awesome tasty things with less fat, cholesterol, sugar and less processed stuff. And they aren't difficult, bland, or granola-y! And it's great!

8. What's more is that the boys are eating it up. Who knew Calvin loves salad? That they would devour broiled fish like it was going to get away? It makes me feel happy that they are eating healthier, too.

9. I'm actually enjoying the planning and thinking through, and I like the new habits of choosing the better for me/more filling options over empty calories.

10. A friend gave me a bag of Lindt lindor truffles and I walked by them every day for a whole week. I shared them with my children (I know - not so good for them, but...) instead of hording them or eating them all in one sitting. Again, giant change of habit. I do have will power!

11. Our finances are healthier and more predictable because eating out has been greatly reduced. Another huge change for the better.

The Bad

1. I took a "before" picture that was horrifying. I had no idea. And I'm not even sure that when I am sixty pounds lighter that I will ever show it to anyone for comparison. Ugh.

2. Bummer that my overweightness and sluggishness isn't entirely caused by hypothyroidism. My thyroid levels keep checking out normal for now, even though I do have a disorder. So I have to make lifestyle changes instead of just taking a nice hormone booster.

3. I am still wearing full-on or borderline maternity clothes. Because I weigh more right now than I did full-term pregnant with Charlie. That makes me ill. And I refuse to buy new clothing the size that I should because I don't want to get comfortable. So, I'm not comfortable. To say the least.

4. Nearly all the women in my family (with the exception of my sisters who have the tall svelt blonde metabolism of my dad's side of the family) have been dieting ever since I've been aware. Are any of them thin or healthy? No. This is one reason that other than a couple half-hearted efforts, I've never dieted in my life. I don't like the extremes that are sometimes taken and I don't like that it never lasts, even when it does result in weight loss (because it's usually followed by huge weight gain). I think about this a lot. In one sense, it's a motivation to keep me at this. But on the other hand, I find myself wondering if I'm not just meant to be heavy. I don't want to believe that, but...

5. It's a huge frustration to figure out how to celebrate without eating or spending money. We live on a budget, so gifting myself with stuff instead of feeding myself when I need a little perk or encouragement is hard to do. Plus, I think I'm addicted to food rewards. I don't like that I see that in myself.

6. I sometimes feel more obsessed and controlled by food trying to get thin than when I just live my fat life. This is probably a paradox that I just need to get over, but it feels unhealthy and I also have a huge apprehension of becoming one of those people who turns down a lovely dessert that a hostess just made because they're watching their figure. Or who talk about all the extra jogging thay're going to have to do in addition to their daily two-hour workout to make up for this night out with the girls. Frankly, I think it's pretty self-absorbed and a total kill-joy to be that way. I can't stand it when people do stuff like that, and I don't ever want to do it - so I worry when I find myself only thinking about what to eat and what not to eat and what that piece of cake is going to do to my weigh-in, nevermind that someone made it as a special treat.

7. I am strug-strug-struggling with the need to exercise. I know it would totally boost the weight loss and make me feel better in a million ways. I love to walk and want to work up to jogging. There are so many obstacles - time, kids, ability to push myself. You'd think 30 minutes in a day wouldn't be that big a deal, but all the getting ready and arranging for the kids that has to happen before and after, plus a shower and whatever else, it adds up. Between housework, school assignments, carpools, meal prep, and other mommy stuff, I have a hard time fitting it in. Plus, I hate the whole idea of a gym - I must GET SOMEWHERE when I exercise - stationery stuff drives me batty. Gyms stink and cost a lot of money, bouncy people in spandex flipping their pony tails gross me out. And I refuse to leave my kids in the under- and immaturely- staffed gymcare. Yeah, I know. Hangup city. I've got to get over it and that just makes me irritated.

8. The only time since high school that I have been thin was a time in my life when I was extremely depressed and not eating anything. There was some kind of sick pleasure that being so sad made me look better than ever, but now it's hard to translate eating less into a thing that happy people do. Weird, I know, but there it is.

The Ugly

1. All my food habits and attitudes related to food are surfacing like crazy. On the times I've splurged, when I've taken a good look at the calorie intake and realized that that was how I was eating all the time before, I seriously want to hurl. Unbelievable. But then the knowing that I can never go back to that decadent, outrageously delicious stuff is almost devastating. That makes all kinds of ugliness - and a weird hunger - come up in me. I've gotten really grouchy about carrot sticks a few times now. Definitely not pretty.

2. If there is a man reading this (besides my husband), sorry, but I have to add this definite ugly: PMS has struck with a vengeance since I started eating better. And it affects me like pregnancy does. I feel like I am starving and if I don't get serious food NOW, I am going to eat your hand off. Yikes.

3. I also experienced some pretty ugly rage at an article in a magazine a while back. The cover title was, "How to lose that baby fat." I expected something along the lines of a busy mom's workout or some easy menus or maybe even a great success story of someone who lost big. The article was about a mom of an eight-month-old. The first thing that appalled me were her vital stats posted in a little box. The woman is 5'9" tall (three inches taller than me). Her baby fat weight? 144 pounds (let's just say I'd be ecstatic to weigh that). I seriously thought it was a misprint. Nope. (Just for reference, this virtual model is 5'9" and 144 pounds.)

The magazine editors got her a personal trainer and a counselor for her obese condition, to help her lose eleven pounds so they could provide this helpful article. She apparently needed professionals to overcome snacking on crackers and cheese in the evening after the baby was asleep. (Seriously! There was not even one mention of a bad ice cream habit!) Presumably all this was necessary so she could feel good about life again and lose that ghastly baby fat that was making her small frame look positively rotund! Of course, the article was written in much more peppy, anyone-can-experience-the-same-kind-of-amazing-transformation verbage than I am representing it. Nauseating, really. On several different levels.

Ask my husband how I frothed. But I'm sure you can imagine. Please tell me I'm not the only one feeling ugly about this assessment of what having babies does to your body and what one needs to do to correct it. When people are calling in trainers and counselors to lose weight, especially when it is incident to having a baby, and when they are already within the healthy BMI range, I am one ugly beast and have some really ugly feelings about moms who can't look at the lives they just created and be more OK than they are with ten extra pounds. Not to mention the emphasis society puts on weight and looks.


But now for something that is good, bad, and ugly...The question I know you are asking, finally answered:

I've lost 10.2 pounds. Yay. But it's taken seven weeks. And I've lost four of those pounds twice. I've given up about eighty pounds of desperately desired crap food consumption and you can't see any difference on the outside. And David has lost 15 in the same time. This is a long, long road. Marked by despairagus.