Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's not just for Scrappers

In honor of Black Friday, and all the crazy people that will be Christmas shopping in the middle of the night on Friday, I've got a fantastic deal for you.

This deal, let's you stay home in your fuzzy slippers, and not fight the crowds for the most amazing deals on Christmas presents.

In fact this deal let's you make your own presents. You can be frugal and fantastic all at the same time.

I'll admit, I'm not a scrapbook fan. Not at all. I don't see what they hype is. I got a scrapbook that came with papers and everything that you need to make it like 6 years ago. It's still in the package.

But. I'm in love with this software by My Memories. See, since I own my own Mary Kay and Scentsy businesses, I can create these totally awesome fliers.




Or, let's assume that I could actually put together a scrap book. Or even if I didn't want to go that route, how about a Christmas Card.

Add caption

You can do so much more with this software than just scrapbooks. Want to make a fancy picture calendar? Done. Want to make a cool family reunion slide show complete with music? Done. There are tons of embellishments, you can even design your own pages, change the layouts, whatever you want to do.

Plus, as something that I like, especially considering that I'm primarily using this software to create fliers and stuff for Mary Kay and Scentsy, I love that it's got more options than I know what to do with. It's a little overwhelming at first, but by the time I made these two pages, I had learned my way around.

So, because I love you, and because you guys need something easy and fun to better capture the upcoming holidays, I'm giving away your very own. Very FREE version of the My Memories software.

Here's what you can do to enter.
1. Comment on the blog with a) what you will use the software for AND b) the name of one of your favorite kits available at My Memories website.
2. You can also tag me on twitter, and spread the joy there by tweeting about the giveaway.

You may enter one comment per person and you may tweet as well, so each person can be entered into the drawing twice!

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm central time on Sunday. The winner will be announced on Monday, and you will have 1 week to contact me to redeem your code for your free download!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who will be celebrating tomorrow! And good luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gertie Goes to Heaven

Today is another sad day around here. Gertie went to the pathologist on Monday.

Yep, you read that right. The gallbladder was evicted on Monday.

I feel fantastic. That pain in my side that I've lived with every waking moment since September. Finally gone. Gertie was a sick little puppy. Highly irritated and inflamed, and I would imagine a few more months and the words ruptured would have been included in the picture. It was bad folks.

Thankfully, the right doctor gets the job done. Now, I'm working on getting back up and running. Here's the rundown.

Saturday I had an appointment with the gastro that I had been referred too. I was thankful that my appointment had been moved up, and that this doctor does random Saturday clinics, so that I could get in earlier. So we sat in the waiting room, I studied for a business law test, and Brad played on my Kindle. We got back to the room, and started going over everything with the doctor. He mashes around on my belly, tells me he's quite sure it's the gallbladder, and that they can admit me. Huh?

I've spent 2 months with several different doctors and 5 minutes with this guy, and he's going to poke me in the hospital, do a scope because I'd been taking unbelievable amounts of Advil so that I could function through the pain. He was concerned that I might have an ulcer on top of everything else. Thankfully my stomach was fine. So they make arrangements to get me on a list to get my gallbladder out on Monday.

They came in late Saturday night to get some blood for lab work, and couldn't find a vein. I'm not typically a hard person to get blood from, but after 2 months of not eating right, not drinking enough, I was severely dehydrated. I had thought I was bad, simply because of the headaches I was getting, but I couldn't get any other doctor's to voice the same concerns that I had.

Sunday I laid in a bed, and tried to take naps, mostly because they had kept waking me up every 90 minutes the prior night. So Monday morning at 5am they came in to get me to take a shower, and put on a beautiful hospital gown. I'd been wearing my own pj's, because let's face it, those hospital gowns only cover part of the parts, and I prefer all my parts to be covered. We were on the list for about 1:30 surgery time.

John's sweet cousin came about 8 and sat with us until they wheeled me to the OR, and then sat with Brad while I was in surgery. Her presence probably kept some of my nerves at bay, because when they came to get me, I wasn't nervous, just a slight surreal feeling. I think part of me still believed that I'd wake up and be in pain, and nothing would have changed.

Now, here's where it gets dicey. They gave me something to help me relax, and then John kissed me, and told me he loved me, then they wheeled me to the OR. I remember getting in, and climbing on a table, and not much after that. Which is disappointing, I'd have liked to have looked around and checked things out, but I was unconscious before I had a chance to do much.

The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery with some serious pain, which they gave me a shot of the good drugs for. Then my mouth and throat were so dry from the tube that I asked for some ice chips. They pretty much gave me ice, and then sometime later, they told me they were moving me back to my room. I remember John, and his cousin standing their, and I remember seeing my father-in-law and sister-in-law standing outside my room. Then I remember them letting me pee, because they were pushing some serious fluids. They got me in bed, then started checking my vitals, and I suddenly remember having the urge to throw up, and I did, twice. But they said that with all my innards confused by the lack of the gallbladder, that it wasn't surprising, and it wasn't much. I felt really groggy, sore, and like most of Monday is a blur.

They let me come home Tuesday morning, around 11, and part of Tuesday is still foggy. I remember coming home. I remember spilling a glass of water in the floor, and I remember eating dinner. But not much in between.

Yesterday was better, and today was even better. The soreness is starting to get more bearable, I've cut way, way back on the pain med's, and when I woke up this morning I felt good. I felt good for the first time in almost 2.5 months. No nausea, no pain, no headaches. Just like I'd had a good night's sleep.

Of course, after a couple of hours up and moving around, that all changed. I'm still worn out. I know that it will take me some time to build my strength back up, and that even though I only have a few incisions, that this was a major surgery and ordeal for my body to get over. Especially since it had been going on for so long. I know that the next few weeks and months are going to be rough until I rebuild some of my strength. But I'm just so thankful to be feeling better that I'll take the need for lots of naps. I think I've slept more today than I've been awake.

Right now, I'm just thankful to not feel Gertie stabbing me constantly. So, I won't complain about the naps, and the 2 week vacation from school, and the limited activities after that. I'll be thankful that Gertie won't be around at Christmas and that I won't have to create a DIY website for organ removal, because let's face it, another few months, and I'd have volunteered for the test dummy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Words Are Not Enough

I wish I could tell you how many times in the last few months I've picked up my cell phone to send a text message to my friend Andrea.

Andrea was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer earlier this year, and amazingly so, our friendship has grown to new depths because of some odd conversations that we've had along the way. Conversations about our spouses, mutual friends, and several oddities that we have discovered we share. Apparently there are other people in the world who won't drink milk after it has been contaminated by cereal.

A couple of months ago, Andrea faced a ruptured colon, several days in ICU, several more surgeries, and more complications. She's had to make choices regarding her quality of life that I can't even begin to fathom, and what's worse, she has to live with those choices. Which is usually harder than making the stupid decision. Especially if your me, and over analyze, over think, and worry about the how's and the what if's and the unfairness of it all.

Yet, in the last few months, thanks to her illness and lack of desire to deal with people, and my subsequent health issues, college kicking my butt, and my own crazies (that have absolutely nothing to do with her situation, just me being paranoid that I've said or done something wrong), have caused our friendship to be less...involved.

Which I don't like. But at the same time, I understand. She faces choices and fights on a daily basis that I hope I don't ever have to face. She's got 2 babies that she's trying to raise, well 3 if you count her husband. She's got other people showing up at her door, showering her with love and strength to help her find the will to keep fighting and to keep moving forward on the days that she just doesn't want to get out of bed. She needs that. Her family needs that.

I miss those text messages with Andrea, and I find myself picking up the phone, and staring at a blinking cursor, because me, the girl who always has something to say, even it's wrong, can't find the words. I can't seem to tell her that I've missed our double dates. I've missed being able to text her when I've had a particularly sucky day, or a funny moment that I just wanted to share with someone who's first language is also sarcasm. I've missed her. I've missed her sweet kids, and thanks to my husband being on a hunting lease with her husband, I don't really miss him, near as much, anyway.

Yet, I find myself terrified of saying the wrong thing. Even though, I'm quite sure, that we've been on the same brain wave a lot lately. Be sick and in constant pain for 2 months, you'd be amazed at the things you think about.

As school keeps going and the pressure keeps building, and I keep adding stuff to my to do list, I keep realizing how truly important those things that we often abuse, and take for granted really our. Like our health, our spouses, our children, our friends. You don't realize what a vital part of your existence they are, until their existence is threatened.

As my doctor's appointment approaches on Saturday, the fear of the worst wants to kick in. What if it's not something easy like a weird food allergy? What if it's something that I'm not prepared for? What if I have to quit fighting for good grades, and fight for my life instead? What if.....

It's mind numbing, and I find those 'what-if's' sneaking in during the quite moments of my day. I keep trying to tell her to shut up. I keep hoping that it's something simple. I hope that it's easy. I hope that it doesn't screw up my life too much. Then, I think about Andrea. She had all those hopes too. She had all those dreams too. Sure, her's might not have involved college, being a world renowned chef, having a cooking blog that makes me rich and famous, losing a million pounds, and being a Victoria's Secret model at 40, but she had them. As I've sat in class rooms this week, and looked around, it's hard to imagine giving up on that. It's hard to imagine any of it. Cancer and serious illness were supposed to be things we had to deal with when we got old. They were supposed to happen to other people, to other families. Not to us. Not to 30 years old. Not to 18 year olds. And certainly not to an innocent child.

Unfortunately, life doesn't always work the way that we plan. God's plan unfolds in there, and we are supposed to make the best of it. We are supposed to find the blessing. We are supposed to be the light to someone else's darkness. We aren't supposed to be the darkness, searching for a light.

I can only hope. I can only have faith. I can only hope that this is where my plans and God's plans are the same, or at least in the general vicinity of each other. I know this, the last few years, I've had a hard time coming up with something other than the usual "family, friends" thankful list. This year, I've discovered that I don't have to do a countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook with the rest of my friends and family about what they are thankful for, simply because I've spent the last 2 months, finding it.

~She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she laughs at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

~Would you dare, would you dare to believe, that you still have a reason to sing? 'Cause the pain that you've been feeling, it can't compare to the joy that's coming. So hold on, you gotta wait for the light, press on and just fight the good fight. 'Cause the pain that you've been feeling, it's just the dark, before the morning. -Josh Wilson's Before the Morning

Thursday, October 25, 2012

....In sickness and in health

Well, it's true. I've spent the past month testing out those vows.

About 2 weeks before my birthday (roughly the first of September), I had a few days where I just didn't feel that great. But, school had just started back up, and there was lots of pressure being put on me for this semester, and I just blew it off as stress.

Fast forward to the Wednesday before my birthday. Enter nausea and general feelings of ickiness. Really?!? I'm going to be sick on my birthday. Seriously? So, I just tried not to hurl. Then Sunday. Oh Sunday. Sunday, September 23rd, will go down in history as the first day, that I would have gladly let someone perform weird science experiments on me to quickly end the pain.

Fast forward to the afternoon trip to the ER. They "thought" (you'll understand the quotes by the end) it was my gallbladder. Sent me off to do a CT scan, but I refused pain meds, because let's face it I had two tests I was trying to study for. I didn't have time for narcotics. So, CT scan showed my gallbladder to be okay. Well, at least non-life threatening. So, they gave me some drugs for nausea and pain and sent me home to study.

Spent the week thinking that I was going to die. Luckily I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday. The "doctor" (you'll understand these quotes later too), and I'll use that term here loosely, said that some of my symptoms didn't match, but the pain was consistent with gallbladder, so "against her better judgment" she would send me for an ultrasound, because she would hate to be wrong. So on Friday, I had an ultrasound done to check the gallbladder out. According to the results, there were no stones, but the pain was also better than it had been earlier in the week. So, the "doctor" informs me to just enjoy the weight loss, and that not to be worried that I can't eat, can't drink, and have fairly decent pain, and she would see me again in a few weeks. Hopefully it would work itself out. Nice.

So, after the big time brush off, and after being told repeatedly, that "it was all in my head". I began to believe it. I figured, okay, maybe it's nothing. Maybe the older I get, the lower my pain tolerance has gotten. Maybe it's just a muscle being spazzy. Maybe, maybe, maybe. So I gave up. I thought that everything would eventually (probably about the same time I graduated) work itself out.

Then, about 2.5 weeks ago, I had a day of pain, nausea and it was a general day full of suck. So, I found a new doctor, hoping that this one would show some concern and not take the "wait and see" approach. So, I went. She thought, gallbladder. So she sent me for a HIDA scan. Which, was the longest 2.5 hours of my life. Take a nap, they tell me. Sure, because I've always wanted to take a nap, laying on a 2x4 with a pillow that makes paper look fluffy, in a room that apparently doubles as a meat locker on the weekends. Sure. I'll get right on that. I can't lay on my back because of the pain, so that was just a great, relaxing moment where I wanted to take a nap. Right.

So, my gallbladder, whom I have named Gertie played nice. Even after I barfed on the technician because she told me I had to chug an 8oz can of Ensure. Have you had Ensure? It's the nectar of the devil. It's awful, it has a weird after taste, it smells, it's thick. (Burp) Sorry, apparently the memory of the stuff is enough to get my stomach rolling again. So, I drink. I lay down, I tell them I'm going to vomit. I was told to breathe. Well, after the techs catty responses that I would be fine, I hurled, all over her brand new Nike's. They were cute. Not so much after that. However, the next tech, thankfully believed me when I told her that I couldn't drink all of that and not hurl again. So consequently, she let me drink half. Gertie, smiled for the camera.

So that's where I am today. Still have pain. Still have nausea. Still have some other weird, and rather gross side effects that I will spare you from. You can thank me now.

I have an appointment with a gastro November 20th. Yep, I typed that right. It's the earliest that I can get into see the doctor I wanted, or any doctor in my network for that matter. So I wait. And I hope that I don't hurl on a customer, a professor, or a boss. That can't help my grade or my job.

There are tons of things that it could be, and I would love to try a gluten free diet, and no dairy and to stand on my head when the moon is in the 4th house of the rising dog's, mother's, brother's, cousin's, friends house. But, alas, I have homework to do. I'd say I have laundry and cleaning, but I can only manage a few minutes before the pain takes my breath away and I have to take a break. So to say that my grades, my house, and my desk are a disaster, is an understatement. I don't think that a nuclear blast would cause as much destruction as this - whatever this is, has caused.

Thankfully, I have had a husband, who has stepped up to the plate. He's done laundry, cleaned, cooked, wrapped presents, and taken care of me. I'm quite appreciative for, because let's face it, there have been days where, I've googled "at home organ removal" out of desperation for some relief from the symptoms, that are making me crazy.

Which I find ironic. The doctor's think I'm crazy and everything is all in my head, yet, the actual symptoms are making me crazy.

As much as I'm glad that John is an amazing guy, and that he loves me enough to put up with my whiny, sick self for the amount of time that he has. He's given me pretty flowers, and brought me lunch, and gone out of his way to make this experience less...sucky.

I know the posts are sporadic while school is sucking up all my time, but I don't even want to just click publish on some that I have already written, because my heart's not in anything that I do these days. I'm in survival mode. I'm trying to keep my head above water with school, which is hard to do when you don't want to study because you feel so horrible, or you actually do study, but can't remember what you just spent the last 2 hours reading because you just want the pain to stop. I had made some commitments to events and other things this semester for Scentsy and other things, that I just don't care if I do or not. There are days where getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Then again there are days when it's just the pain, and I can manage to kick some butt and take some names, but when every.single. thing that you eat or drink makes you wonder what you were thinking about when you decided you had to eat or drink because you just want to curl up in a ball in a corner and not move so you don't hurl on someone, it gets hard. It takes a beating on your brain, on your heart, and after 1.5 months of the same stuff, your soul. Thankfully, I've had a better understanding of a friends journey with a cancer diagnosis this year, and I have a new level of respect for her after all of this.

I'm hanging on. Some days with a good, solid grip, and other days, well, I'm quite sure that my whining motivates those around me to chop on the branch I'm hanging on to. I'm not patient, and I want answers yesterday, so for those that follow me on twitter, and on this blog, I just want to say thanks for the love, prayers, jokes, and funny comments that you have sent my way. I'm quite sure that you are part of the group that's keeping me sane. Hopefully, this is an easy fix, whatever it is. I'm trying to find the blessing in this whole thing, but when your grades suck, and you feel bad, and you would rather lay in bed than go shopping for new clothes in smaller sizes, it's hard to find the blessing in anything. Although, I'll admit the weight loss is a nice fringe benefit, I can kiss that lovely number I had seen on my scale for 5.8 months goodbye, but I'd have rather kept the pounds and felt good, than this.

So, when I whine on Twitter, Facebook, or this blog, I'd like to ask you to do me a favor. Tell me to quite my whining and do some freaking homework. I might think your a jerk, but my GPA will thank you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ode to Bob

It's been a hard few days at our house. Our beloved friend, Bob, has passed away. We are all so saddened by this loss, and during his brief eulogy there were many tears shed by all.

Let's now take a moment of silence in honor of Bob.

::Silence, in which there is the faint sound of angels singing and birds chirping::

Let me tell you a little about Bob.

He came into our lives purely by accident. See, John had decided that he wanted a fish in his office at work. So after a trip to SmartPets, he was the proud owner of a pretty Beta fish. After a few days, and John's enjoyment of the fish at work, he declared that I should have one at my office too. However, since I wasn't there as much as I had been, thanks to school, I didn't know that the little guy would survive. Besides, I thought it cruel to feed him on Friday, and let him starve until Monday. So John talked me into getting a fish for my office that would live at home. He would clean the tank, and feed him and love him and call him...George (name that cartoon!).

So George came home. Everyone was happy. Except the longer that George was with us, we realized that he was...special. And I'm not talking about having a super cool talent, or a neat trick, or that he could swim faster than the speed of a speed boat. No, George was...well, there's no easy way to say this. George, was a dork fish. He wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, not the brightest crayon in the box, a few fries short of a happy meal. I'm sure you get the idea.

George preferred to...well bottom feed. He liked to float around and watch his fishy dinner flakes float gracefully through the clear water, and land on the beautiful neon gravel at the bottom of his tank. Then later, when he was hungry, he would turn himself in a fish with an incredible amount of buoyancy, and...bob for food. So, it was apparent that George had been misnamed, and well, from that day forward, he became Bob.

You should have known this was coming.

Bob the Magnificent

 Amazingly so, Bob had been a part of our family for the better part of 2ish years.


We had Bob, sitting on this self for about 5 weeks, when the dog, finally discovered something was up there.

Friend or Snack?
Bob, like I mentioned before was...special. He was fondly referred to as a dork fish. Bob's not only speciality was bottom feeding, but Bob, had an imaginary friend. I was doing some laundry one day, and walked by Bob's tank, and as Beta's are prone to do, he was "fighting". Fighting is actually good for a Beta, because it helps to keep their colors bright and the fish in good health. So it's often a good idea to have 2, and place their tanks close together and allow them to fight for a few hours a week to keep them healthy. We would place a shiny pan or a mirror up so Bob would have this opportunity.


Love at first bite, err sight.
Well one afternoon, I was changing out the laundry, and Bob suddenly woke up from his mid-afternoon slumber and starting fighting with...nothing. The cabinet was empty, the dishes put away, and Bob was just going to town. About that time, John called, and I told him, as a joke that Bob, had an imaginary friend. Thanks to the question of what was his name (John should know that I can think on my feet) Stan, the imaginary friend, was born.

The first part of September (yes, I know I'm a month late), we came home to discover that some time between the time I went to bed the night before and that afternoon, Bob had taken his final swim. We knew that the time was coming, and frankly, because John had gone through 4 fish at work (2 of which I'm quite sure committed suicide because his office was so cold) that we knew that Bob wasn't going to be around forever, and frankly, we were surprised he had made it this long. Yet, amazingly so we were saddened by the loss of our finned friend.

I hadn't really planned on getting another fish, with school, work, homework, Scentsy, blogging, and trying to have a life that didn't revolve around school and homework, it wasn't a high priority. But John and I talked each other into it. So off to SmartPet's we went.

Meet...Stan.

Stan, the imaginary friend.
 

Yes, I'm aware that they make hospitals with padded walls for people just like me.

I think that we should rename him to Speedy Gonzales (name that cartoon!) because the fish never, ever stops moving. This was the best picture I got, because he wouldn't be still long enough for me to take it.

Faster than a speeding speed boat.
 
He's a pretty blueish greenish color. With a hint of purple. He's constantly moving, and he always fights. Me, a pan, air. Doesn't matter. I'll be surprised if he doesn't have a heart attack between now and Christmas. However, at first I was leery that Stan was his name. So I've patiently been waiting for his personality to come out, and I've discovered that Stan's name is actually very fitting. See, I had often though that the imaginary Stan often pissed off Bob. Bob would swim around in circles looking pissed off, like Stan had ran over, tapped him on the shoulder, woke him up from the best nap ever and ran off. Stan fits, because he is never still. He is always darting about in his small tank. I'm not sure he sleeps. Of course I don't stand by the take 24 hours a day, but surely at some point he does. Bob slept. I'm quite sure that Bob was a college student. He woke only to eat and when someone pissed him off. Usually me, flicking the tank with my fingernail wondering if he was dead. Or Stan. Apparently Stan was a rowdy 2 year old on a sugar high.

Goodbye Bob. I hope you enjoyed your beautiful sendoff. I hope that Le toilet and the sewage system processional was the exact type of sendoff you were hoping for.

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Shopping We Must Go!

Boy howdy, have I got some super, fantastic news for you!

Have you ever noticed how we, as women have specific wardrobes. I know that I have clothes for school, clothes for work, fancier clothes for work, workout clothes, church clothes, casual dressy clothes, clothes to get dirty in. And that doesn't include all of those categories for each season.

I've got blizzard, frigid, cold, cool, mild, warm, hot and 3 degrees cooler than hell clothes. Amazingly so, I don't have that many clothes. Although I do have a nice stash of clothes in my office that need to go to goodwill. I love losing weight and getting rid of clothes that are too big.

So today, because I love you, and because you totally need to prepare for the cooler days to come and maybe even start that Christmas shopping a few days earlier than last year.

Shabby Apple is running a fantastic promotion where starting today, through Friday September 14.

10% off site wide code: favorite10
 
 Yes folks, you read that right. 10% off, site wide. So anything you purchase is good for a discount.
 
 
 
So what are you waiting for? I'm certainly not waiting on you! Happy Shopping!
 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cheap...or Brilliant?

A few weeks ago my husband and I were catching up on our huge list of DVRed tv shows. We both remember our parents watching the original show Dallas. Heck, John was even born right in the middle of an episode.

We figured, we would watch the new version when it came out on TNT so that we could see what all the fuss was about. There's just enough intrigue involved to keep me interested. Which takes a lot, considering the majority of the crap I watch on TV involves police, dead bodies, suspects, and jail cells.

So imagine my surprise when we were watching this particular moment and up pops this image on the screen.



Huh. That looks vaguely familiar. So I start yelling at John to "pause it". Apparently I'm yelling rather excitedly because he starts scrambling like I've just told him the world is going to end. So after he rewinds it, we pause, and low and behold.

See, this picture was taken on the table in my office at home.



And this picture from my office at work.





John and I both found it rather ironic, that Dallas, a television show that was as popular as it was back in the 80's would be so cheap in it's new venture to purchase a stereo from Walmart. Makes me want to record all the episodes again, and start looking for stuff from the dollar type stores.

They could have at least plugged it in so the message center was blue. They were so cheap that they bought there stereo from good ole Wally World, that they couldn't waste the electricity on that little blue area.

As I was typing this (I've had the pictures saved in a post for weeks), I realized that my grandfather used to watch westerns. Lots of John Wayne westerns. Lots. And I remember him pointing out trains in the background, and numbers that showed the cabins that they were using were actually part of some retreat or hotel. He was always so busy watching the scenery to point out these things that most people don't notice, that I wonder, if he actually knew all of what was going on in the movies. Or maybe, he had just seen them so many times, that he knew them by heart.

It's funny, the things that you miss. He would have had a good laugh about my $40 stereo being on TV.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Online Classrooms and Ashford University (Sponsored Post)

Education is a topic that's very near and dear to my heart. You know, since I'm currently enrolled and all. Even though I took the non-traditional approach and didn't go back to college until I was 30 years old, it's a choice that I haven't regretted for a single moment. (Although, I would kindly appreciate someone pointing this out to me in a few weeks, when I'm in what I like to refer to as "The Homework Slave System").

Going back to college has opened the door to a whole list of possibilities. Not only career wise, but personally wise too. I don't do well in front of large groups of people, and college definitely forces you to learn how to talk to other people, especially if your interested in making good grades and passing your classes.The whole experience has forced me to do things that are out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I've found myself forced to think in ways that I wouldn't have done otherwise. College has opened me up to a type of innocence by young adults who haven't had to face infertility, crazy in-laws, job loss and the other learning experiences that come with age.

When I began pursuing my options for returning to school, part of my desire to return was to be able to graduate and find a job that I love, not just one that pays the bills. I want to be excited about going to work each and every single day, instead of spending 8 hours wishing I was somewhere else. An online education opportunity, just like Ashford University paved the way for me to have that chance.

What's unique about Ashford University is that they provide extensive options for adults, like myself to go back to college and get a degree while still having the time to work a full time job and raise a family. Let's face it, technology advances so much each and every year that universities that aren't offering classes online being left in the dust, and because Ashford offers a program that you work into your schedule instead of working around, they are giving adults the opportunity to get the education that they have always wanted, that they have always dreamed of.

Even if you aren't interested in going back to college, watch the brief video. If nothing else, it will inspire you to see how the future is changing for many adults, and even fresh out of high school people too. Life works out in strange ways, because college at 30 sure wasn't on my to-do list. I figured that college would always be something I would do 'one day', a pipe dream.  Yet today, that dream is very much a part of my reality.

I spent 18 months at another online university earning my Associates degree, and I loved the online experience, and frankly if Ashford had been around back then, I would have definitely chosen their program! It's truly a wonderful option for someone who wants flexibility and a full time job while going to school.

Online classrooms are the way of the future. The technology at Ashford University is moving towards the future by allowing adults to realize their dreams and finally have an option that allows them to follow through. Online classrooms gave me the confidence to continue my education and helped to ensure that I could be successful both inside the classroom and outside as well.

If you had the chance to do something that you knew you couldn't fail at, would you try it?

What are you waiting for?



Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Ashford University, but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Deciding it's a Gift and not a Burden

Our pastor at church is in the midst of a unique series called "Servolution". It's about learning to, and giving us opportunities to serve others. Part of what started this whole thing is a lemonade stand that our church family will be running during the South Plains Fair.

This past weekend, Pastor B discussed how to find your spiritual gifts. My husband elbowed me several times during some of the options.

Yet, as I sat there, my mind wondered, about what my gifts were.

See, I always wanted to do something that made a difference. Apparently I should have been more specific, and I've definitely picked the wrong major if I wanted a career that made a difference. Although, I did pick my career based on something that I love to do, that I enjoy, which makes me excited to sit through millions of hours of classes each semester. Can crazy be a gift?

So as Pastor B talked, I wondered what I'm good at.

I'm a nurturer by nature. I like to do things for other people. My friend Andrea that was diagnosed with cancer this year can agree to that. I've shared the wealth more often than not, that she probably gets tired of the text messages involving care packages for dinner, breakfast, and dessert. Although, I totally love sharing. It's nice to make a cake, and have someone enjoy the other half of it, instead of the creatures that roam the dumpster in the dead of night. I'd rather not think about those creatures, because they have beady little eyes, full of evil, and long twitchy tails, and they are just roaming the streets looking for tasty morsels.

Fabulous, now I'm not going to want to let my dogs out when it's dark tonight. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I like to listen to people talk. Not necessarily joining in, but just listening and observing. You learn a lot about people that way. Another of my friends, wiggles her hands when she is discussing something she would rather not be talking about. She rubs on her fingernails, and constantly moves her fingers. My husband, avoids eye contact. He looks down when he would rather not have the conversation with you or even glancing away while talking to you. My mother-in-law likes to dictate the flow of conversation. She likes the subject to change when she has nothing else to say about it, not necessarily when the rest of the group is ready to move on. So it makes me observant, and when something interests me in the conversation, I add to it. Or manage to say something that pisses someone off, depends on who's around and how much sarcasm I used. Super powers shouldn't get you in so much trouble, should they?

Back to Servolution. They were asking for volunteers, and frankly I miss church when we don't go. I never regret it. In fact, I have this amazing analogy that will probably have me skinned for making on my blog.

Church is like sex. Once I get there, I wonder why we don't go more often. Or why we don't have sex more often. Not while we are at church, but just in general. My husband goes to bed at 6pm. I have homework. You do the math. It's not easy to do either, but it's always worth it in the end.
 
Sorry John. Aunt D. My old youth minister's wife. Mom. Dad. Andrea.
 
 So volunteers. Well, they have this bible study at TTU on Thursday nights. So I thought, you know, maybe if I got to know some of the losers, underage hooligans, babies, youngins, fellow students, I might not feel like I'm all that much older than them. So because I had procrastinated, because let's face it, I'm not a people person. I don't like talking in front of crowds, or in front of small groups either. I don't like being put on the spot, even with people I know. So I hadn't emailed the guy in charge and told him that I would offer up my services. Just couldn't do it. So my husband drug me, by my hair, kicking and screaming to meet with the guy after church.
 
Here's how much I'm not a "people - person".
 
"Hi, I'm Abby Normal, and you don't know me, but I'm fantastic and you should."
 
Yep, totally said that. Still not sure why, but I was nervous, and I say goofy stuff. And that was just talking to him with no one but my husband as a witness. So I spewed out that I went back to school, blah blah blah, did he need help on Thursdays. All the while, praying he would say no. So apparently, the 30th, I'm serving pizza and bottles of water to college students, and trying not to vomit or say something goofy. It's going to be interesting to say the least. Will I regret doing it, probably not. But for the next 3 years, because that's probably how long it will take for me not to want to hurl before I walk in the door, I'll do it. Because, believe it or not, part of me would like to step out of my comfort zone.
 
The other part of me, well, she would like to find something that makes a difference. Not necessarily so that I can feel good about what I'm doing for someone else, but so that I can feel good about who I am again. Because somewhere along the way, I've lost that girl who wasn't afraid to take on the world. I've lost the girl who wanted her life to matter, not to someone else, but to myself. I'd like to find her, before I get older and have any regrets about what I could have done, if I'd only been less selfish, and less afraid of talking to strangers.

My mom should be so proud, apparently she nailed the "don't talk to strangers" lesson, since it still works on a 25, 29, 30, 32 year old.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shabby Apple

I've always joked with John that I should have been born during the 70's. Simply because I like paisley, and some of the clothes that are coming back into fashion. Of course, I'm not a fan of the bell bottoms or flare jeans, but I'm short, and those just don't look right on me.

So when I got this email from Shabby Apple asking me to check out their stuff, I'm in love. I'm also broke now, but I'm in love and I'll look fantastic, so it's a win-win.

This dress. Oh, my. It's a wrap. It's a maxi dress. It's absolutely awesome.


 
 
 
This is a maxi too. I love the maxi's they are sooo comfortable. The knot at the top, gorgeous. Of course, because I'm short, I'll have to hem it up, but it's just so pretty, I couldn't resist.
 

 
I love the way this dress looks. It's fancy enough that I could wear it to church or a wedding and not feel over dressed or under dressed. It's just perfect. And it's a gorgeous shade of purple. Swoon.
 
 
The ruffles. The fact that it's modest and covers more than my panties. (Right now let's pause and imagine my husband cringing as he reads the word panties on the Internet, knowing I put them there.)
It's pink. It's perfect. It's so sad that summer's over. But next summer, I'm totally adding this to my collection of must have swimwear before I go on vacation.
 
 
 
 
I think my uterus just cried. Some lucky child I know is totally getting this for Christmas. Isn't it adorable. The best part - mom can't totally have a dress that matches. Awesome.
 

 
 
So, the best advice in the world is quickly grab your mouse and click over and check out their fantastic clothes. They have kids, women's, maternity (which is absolutely adorable, and they look oh, so comfy). They have gifts and all kinds of great stuff. So, start your Christmas shopping early. Or heck, start your "I need a new dress because I'm awesome" shopping now.
 
Don't worry honey, I didn't spend all of your "lease" fund money. Just most of it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

8 Day Challenge - Day 3

WARNING: BAD ATTITUDE BELOW

Read at your own risk.

You've been warned.

Weight today. 068.0  +1.0

9:00 1 scoop, 1 tbsp PB2 powder, 8 oz soy milk. - I'm so stinking tired of these stupid shakes it's not even fun. I managed to drink more than half. Took the next drink, gag reflex kicked in, and I refused to barf. So I stopped drinking. Poured half down the drain.

10:45 1 cheese stick, 2 oz turkey lunch meat. 2 7/8 oz. Barely managed to eat that. Barely. Not sure what's up today. I think I'm having my 2nd day symptoms that most have complained about today. I feel like I've been thrown out in the street, ran over, and then they knew that I wasn't finished, so that back up and ran me over one more time for good measure.

12:30 Actual vegetables.


Salad. Amen.

Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach. I heart vegetables.  HEART!!! Made sure to eat some carbs, thought maybe that would make me feel less horrific. Had strawberries and watermelon, because it's good for you. And I thought maybe the sugar would help too. It tasted fantastic.
How my Tummy Feels Now!


2:30 Nope, still feel half way horrific. I'm exhausted, like I haven't slept in weeks again. I just got rid of this feeling and now I'm completely making myself have this feeling again.

4:00 I've had 20 oz of water today. I've usually had double that by this point in the day. Wondering if I can do this.

5:30 I'm throwing in the towel. By the time that dinner was ready, I ate 2 bites. Didn't want anymore. Sat down, figured up my calories for the day, and I had eaten 400 less than I had yesterday. 400 less. That would have made my total calories today, under 700.

I knew that going into this, it was going to be tough. I'm not a fan of protein shakes. Heck, I'm not a fan of shakes period. I can count on one hand how many shakes I've had in the last 3 years. There would be several fingers leftover. After gaining a pound this morning, probably because I didn't drink enough water yesterday, and waking up feeling awful, I knew that I could get through tomorrow, and Monday, but that Tuesday, well, lunch would have been the end. I wouldn't have drank the shake. I would have nuked a Lean Cuisine, and hoped for the best. I'm so, so, soooo tired of the shakes. I've never hated anything more in my life. At this point, I honestly don't even know if I could have drank the one tomorrow morning.

I'll admit, I figured that it would be easier than this. I didn't know that I couldn't handle the shakes, and it's not because they taste bad. Because with the PB2, and even the cocoa powder, cinnamon mixture from Thursday was fantastic. It's just the drinking in general. Some of my issues could be because of my issues with drinking in general, at this point I honestly don't know.

Right now, it's just not something that I can finish. Even thought I want too. Because I'm very, very disappointed. Very. I wanted to do this. It just might not be realistic for me to do it for 8 days. I might could spend Monday - Friday and be fine. And let's face it, gaining that pound this morning, didn't motivate me to stick with it at all. It made gagging those shakes down last night and this morning, so not worth it.

Right now, I don't know what the plan is. I ended up missing the protein only meal. Let's just say, lettuce, tomatoes and flour tortilla's were involved. I don't feel better, in fact at 7:30 on a Saturday, I have my pj's on and would totally like to go to bed. And sleep until noon tomorrow, or maybe even Monday.  I'm usually still going strong, and I've gotten up 2.5 hours earlier than I did today. I was in bed before 11 last night.

My advice to all of you thinking about doing this.

-Play with the shakes, figure out what you like with the options that you have in order to make the challenges more doable.

-Don't have issues with drinking anyway. If you have to force yourself to drink them and you aren't getting the water, it isn't going to work. You'll just end up feeling frustrated. And you'll end up with soft taco's for dinner.

-It's important to have a variety of protein. You don't realize how many oz you really have to eat until you have to eat them. You get sick of hard boiled eggs when you have to eat them every few days.

-Make sure you have a fantastic support system. If you have to cook for your family and watch them enjoy broccoli and you just get to eat the chicken, are you prepared to explain to the rest of them why your avoiding something that's fundamentally good for you.

Contrary to what you might want to think, you are doing a very, very low carb, diet. You will feel weird. If you can't live with the fact of how tired you are going to be (and I mean exhausted, like you haven't slept in 6 months) and still have to function, then don't attempt this challenge. For someone who doesn't eat a ton of carbs anyway, today has nearly killed me. And frankly another day like this under normal circumstances and I would have made an appointment to see the doctor. That's how "off" I feel today. Just remember, your results might be better, and you might have an easier time with it than I have. The best advice I can offer, is be prepared, and when you think you are prepared, prepare some more. I have a new respect for the people who have done this multiple times, because frankly, unless I get "stuck" at a weight again, I probably will not attempt another one.

Good luck to everyone who attempts to do this. I'm not completely giving up...yet. Ask me in the morning. If I can gag down the shakes, I might be on board again. If the scale were to show a 12 pound loss, I would be willing to gag down shakes and protein for a few more days.

Friday, August 17, 2012

8 Day Challenge - Day 2

Today's weight. 067.0  Change -3.4

I woke up with a slight headache this morning, but it eased up during my shower, and by 9:30 was gone. Quite sure it was allergy related, as we had rain overnight, and that's normal for me. Plus I stayed up a little later than I wanted (which I've done all week)I had the best of intentions of going to bed, but got a phone call about a possible new customer for one of the 4 brands that I sale, and ended up sending out a couple of emails instead. So I've gone to bed later than usual most of the week now. It was gone by the time I got to work, so I'm still quite sure that it was allergy related, because at that point, I hadn't had enough of anything to eat to get rid of it.  I've heard people mention that they have felt "weird" starting today, from the lack of carbs to the lack of...everything. Yet, I feel fine. I'm not tired, I'm not shaky or anything. I've wondered around the shop twice now, because I felt the need to burn off some energy.

7:45 1 scoop, 1 tbsp of PB2 chocolate version, 8 oz light vanilla soy milk. Shake, shake, shake!

9:34 - having a hard time drinking water (I struggle with drinking anyway). If I'm not thirsty I don't want to drink. So some days I don't drink more than 30 oz. I didn't hit 128 oz yesterday, but that's about what I average, but it's way, way above where I was 3 weeks ago, before my amazing supplements. I might have to start at 70 oz, and each week add more until I make that 128. It's not hard to hit 70 anymore. But maybe that would give me a chance to get my body used to it. I'm getting hungry. It's going to be a long hour.

10:00 - walked around our shop, and not quite as hungry. I think part of it was mental and part of it was that I needed to get up and burn off some energy. I spend most of my days sitting at a desk, but I try to make a lap through the building every couple of hours.

10:30 - 2 hard boiled eggs, cheese stick, 2 oz of mesquite smoked turkey lunch meat. 5 oz total. Yes, I weigh everything all together. It was 5oz on the dot.  Like yesterday, I'm hungry, but not starving. Cheated on the eggs. Seems that I either picked more filling foods than yesterday, because by the time I finished everything, I felt stuffed. Yesterday was perfect, today too much.

11:46 - new plan. Aiming for 80 oz of water from now on. Period. And before you all go sending me hate mail about how I need to hit the gallon mark. If I'm being honest here. There isn't anyway that I could make that today. As of this moment I've had exactly 8.45 oz for the day. I can't force myself to drink water that's just going to make me feel like I want to hurl. So. New plan. 80 oz this week. Adding 10 oz next week. I'll just have to do that until I get to the point that I can do 128 oz. On the days I go over, we will just consider it a bonus. Because in the next 10 minutes I need to have drank 30 oz. It's not going to happen. Thankfully. The good news is, that 80 oz is more than I could drink if I started this challenge when I got my stuff in the mail 3 weeks ago. It's hard when your not thirsty and you have to literally force it down. For those who dislike chicken livers, it would be like telling you that you had to eat 2 an hour every day. I know water is key. But I'm frustrated that I'm not anywhere close to making it.

1:00 - 1 scoop, 1 tbsp PB2 chocolate variety, 8 oz light vanilla soy milk. I wasn't all that hungry. I could have waited another 30 minutes or so, but that would have made me want dinner later, and I'm not sure my husband, who has been us since 2 am would appreciate that. So, I'm drinking a shake that I don't particularly want. I'm sure that by now you can tell I've found my favorite shake flavor for 8 day challenges. Someone suggested on yesterday's post about trying actual peanut butter, instead of the powder. I might give it a go, but probably not. It will be too hard to do once I start back to school. I'll need something that's easier, but I might try it. Although, the idea of creamy peanut butter makes me want to gag. I'm not a fan of creamy peanut butter, and in order to incorporate it, I would need to blend it, and like I said, that's not realistic once I start back to school. Because the first "glob" of peanut butter would be the end of that 8 day challenge and the beginning of a short love affair with a cheeseburger.

3:30 - 2 hamburger patties with 1 slice of cheese. 6 oz of protein. Not really hungry. But ate it anyway. Kinda like the shake for lunch. Other than that feeling pretty good. Except for the extreme boredom of a typical Friday at work. The only people who call or come in on Friday's are sales guys and telemarketers. It makes for a long day. Thank goodness for the internet, Kindles, and my addiction to pinterest. Like my morning snack, this ended up feeling like "too much". But once again, not really hungry. Yet yesterday didn't feel like enough. But maybe without being as hungry I can avoid my 10:30 snack tonight.

7:43 - 1 scoop, 1 tbsp PB2 chocolate. Tonight is typically date night in our house, so this was a hard switch. I usually enjoy something for dinner tonight (since today is also my weigh in day), that is fantastic and not all that awesome for losing weight. So I kinda missed that, but the results on the scale this morning made it some easier. I can't imagine how hard this would be if I were doing it and my husband was eating something fantastic too. So glad that he is doing this with me, it has made the past 2 days so much easier. I'm tired of the shakes. Starting to wonder if I can make it the rest of the week. I'm not feeling to good, stupid allergies, so I would imagine that's part of it. If my husband wasn't ready for his shake, I probably would have avoided mine for a few more hours, if I even had it.

9:00 - 2 flush. To help me flush. Too bad it won't help me pay my water bill. Good thing I'm saving toilet paper rolls for something I saw on pinterest for Halloween. With all the water, I should have a ton of the things by the middle of October.

10:19 - Tired. Tired of shakes. Ready for bed. A little hungry, so I'm going to eat a cheese stick and go to bed. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow WILL be better. I'm looking forward to the actual food and less shakes. I'm quite sure that those shakes are going to kill me. Well, that and the water too.

What I've learned today - Even though I'm doing this challenge (and today has been less of a challenge than yesterday, at least in hindsight), I still have to pay attention to my body. I know it better than whoever designed this challenge. Thus the reason for the late night snacks. If I wake up with a headache, I'll want a Diet Dr. Pepper, and a bacon, egg, cheese, and potato breakfast burrito. Which isn't good for me anyway. I've thought that perhaps I should up the protein amount on my snacks every day, but for this first challenge, I'm not going to change anything as far as those amounts go. I know my body, I know how I feel, and I know me a lot better than someone who doesn't walk around in my body. Because I know that what works for me, might not work for someone else. I also know that in order to stick with something, you have to make it livable for your lifestyle. Without school to work around, this challenge is going fine. But when I do my 2nd one in about 6 weeks, I'll have a full time course load, as well as a full time job to work around. Whatever I do can't add to the crazy that is my life, or I'd only make it through 2 days before caving. I also know that the next challenge I do, I'll swap out today's higher mid morning snack for day 1. And plan for less on day 2. Then again. my allergies are being difficult today, and I usually don't have much of an appetite when that happens anyway.

Had to go get more soy milk, and it was tempting to have Subway for dinner. They were baking bread and it smelled like heaven. Little fluffy pillows from heaven. And popcorn. Bastards. So make sure that you don't go to the store for anything. It was, REALLY, REALLY tempting to have Subway for dinner, and if my husband hadn't been with me, I probably would have caved. I'm just hoping my results the end of the week are going to be worth this. I know they will be great, but I just need a little kick of motivation. Hopefully going to bed at a decent hour and sleeping in will help with that.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

8 Day Challenge - Day 1

Here's my beginning stats:
Weight: your kidding right - here's the last few digits 70.4 (this is the lowest I've been in 2 years, down another pound from last week)
waist - 59"
Right thigh - 30.5
Left thigh - 31.5
Right Arm - 17.75
Left Arm - 18

I have pictures that I took, that I'll post after the challenge. I made sure to wear some snugger fitting clothes so that I could not only see (hopefully) a difference, but I knew I would notice a difference in how they fit.
6:45 is way to early for my alarm to go off. After a couple of snoozes and 15 minutes later I'm up, the dogs are out and I'm headed to the kitchen for 2 Xyng and a 16.9 oz bottle of water. I might drown before the day is over with. Drinking isn't my strong suit.

7:50 1 scoop of Lean mean protein shake powder, 1 tsp cocoa powder, because chocolate for breakfast, count me in! 8 oz light vanilla soy milk. Taste test. Can't really taste the chocolate (so I thought) so I added a couple of sprinkles of cinnamon to the top. Headed to work. Very vanilla still, might have to try plain soy milk. Although it tastes like vanilla bean ice cream.

8:00 found the chocolate. Now my shake totally tastes like the frosting on this cinnamon chocolate cake that my mom made when I was a kid. Freaking fantastic.

9:45. I'm hungry. Good thing, my snack time is coming up soon, otherwise I wouldn't make it too lunch. Might not be a bad idea to try 2 scoops of protein tomorrow. About to force myself to drink the rest of the bottle of water I started out with this morning.

10:30- Amazingly so, the majority of the bottle of water helped with being hungry.  I was still hungry before the snack, but not starving. I was worried that this wasn't going to be enough food, and that I would eat it and still be starving. I forced myself to eat slowly, and to take my time. I tried to focus on what I was eating instead of working, but that didn't work out too well. 2 hard boiled eggs and a cheese stick, plus an ounce of beef . Based on weight in oz, 5 oz of protein. I cheated on it. And slightly salted and peppered the egg. I'm not hungry. Now I'm off to drink lots of water. So far I've had 16.9oz + some. Not near enough to make 128oz for the day without spending half of my night getting up and going to the bathroom.

12:53 - 1 scoop, 8 oz light vanilla soy milk, 2 tbsp PB2 powder, the chocolate flavored kind. Holy, mother of shakes, batman. I'm quite sure I'm drinking a Reese's peanut butter cup. I'm hoping that no one will notice when I start licking the cup clean. This is freaking fantastic. FANTASTIC. Guess what I'm having for dinner? Of course that would mean that I had chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh darn. That's a shame. :) I'm not sure I can every drink another shake any other way ever again. Ever. Still working on the water. I've had about 40 oz of water. Aiming to finish my 50.7 oz bottle before 5, as well as start on another one.

3:30 - 1 hamburger patty with colby pepper jack cheese. 4.5 oz of protein. I was still a little hungry so I had 1 oz of beef jerky. 

3:45 - make the water stop. Gah, I don't have this much trouble drinking on the weekends, but get to work, and its a royal pain. I'm quite sure that there is a little hamster in my body that is sandbagging the doors, and has on a life jacket and life preserve.
6:50 - 2 scoops of lean, 2 tbsp of PB2 - chocolate baby! 16 oz of soy milk. It's weird to be drinking my dinner. I'd feel better if I had just had dental work done. I'm having flash backs to my high school years and braces. As I'm typing this, there is still about 1/4 of the shake left. I was afraid of starving, but 2 scoops is way, way too much food. Way, way, way too much. So my ideas of a 2nd scoop in the morning are a no go. Plus I still have about a bajillion ounces of water to drink. I ended up pouring about 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup down the drain. I just couldn't finish it.

7:40 - I hope our water bill doesn't go up from all the flushing. Shouldn't have waited this late on the water. Oops. Hopefully I'll get better about water. I keep hoping I'll get used to it and not have to force myself to drink.

9:00 - 1 flush down.

10:35 - Headed to bed. I'm feeling good. Tired, but that's to be expected. I'm also slightly hungry. So I'm going to grab a cheese stick (so I don't wake up with a headache) and head to bed. It will be an extra 3/4 of an ounce of protein, but I've got to be realistic if I'm going to make it 8 days. I can't starve, or this will be my first, and my last challenge. That's why I like Weight Watchers so much, no food is off limits, and if you make smart choices, you don't starve to death.

Day 1 is in the books.

What I've learned: Even though I'm worried about being hungry, I'm really not. 2 scoops of lean is just too much. Won't make that mistake again. I've heard of people feeling weird from the lack of carbs, but I'm fine. I haven't felt any different than normal. Although the later it gets the more tired I am, but not sure if that's from staying up too late last night or from today's activities. Like I said, I'm also a little hungry, and simply because I don't want to wake up starving and miserable, I'm going to eat something. I've got my shakes ready. I've got my snacks ready. Day 2 is going to be a piece of cake...er shake!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And in the Beginning...There was Fat

In the beginning there was fat.

Hopefully the ending will be different.

No, I know the ending will be different.

A few months ago another blog that I follow shared how she was losing some serious weight, without extreme unhealthy measures. Since I've fought the fat battle most of my life, and lost, I thought I would give this a try. I caved. I ordered, I waited, I prayed. Then I got the stuff, and I half assed it.

I've been stuck at the same weight for a few months. I've maintained this weight in the past for a couple of years. Just wouldn't budge. I tried everything to get the scale to move, and it just wouldn't happen.

Then in April I decided that I could lose the weight. If I could go back to college and be successful at that, then I could add losing weight to the mix too. So I joined Weight Watchers. I counted points until I'm quite sure I looked at everything with a points value. My car, the dog, stamps, gummy bears. I counted it all. Then I hit those blasted numbers and the scale has spent the last two months laughing at me.

Tomorrow, I'm going to wipe that smile off it's face. I'm starting my first 8 day challenge. The beauty of that is that my husband is going to take that little journey with me. He's lost 60ish pounds since February (boys suck) just by starting a new, very physical job. I'm slightly jealous. I would even go to work with him if I wouldn't kill over within an hour. But I would die. So he gets to do all the hard work and I'll keep my cushy office job with very little pay.

So between Thursday and next Friday, I'll post every single day. Because I want to be able to share with some other people who are in a group with me, following this amazing program. I want those who are on the fence about how they can't do it, or how they don't want to do it to take a walk in my shoes and see, that if someone with my crazy schedule can make it work, that they can too. I want them to have someone telling them what they ate and what they drank to give them some ideas, and some support. Because let's face it, losing weight is hard. You get in a rut and you don't know how to get out.

So to my regular readers, things are going to be interesting for the next week, and I'll make sure to post something good next week for you besides weight loss. But for the rest of you, it will literally be like your following me around. I'll post everything. I'll even post updates on Twitter, so you can follow along there.

If, you have questions, or want more information, use the contact tab and shoot me an email. I'd be happy to share how in just 3 short weeks, this program is changing my life.

Tomorrow is the beginning. The beginning to kicking fatties butt.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Planned Leap of Faith

Several days ago a friend on Facebook posted something that I’ve pondered about for days.

She took the scenic route home one night, and had her two kids in the car. They approached a red light, and saw a homeless man holding a sign asking for money for McDonald’s or Wendy’s because he was hungry and homeless. Her oldest boy (who is 3-4 years old) wanted her to stop and get the guy some food. He kept pointing out the McDonald’s and Wendy’s locations where she could stop. However, (no judgement here) she didn’t stop. She told her kids that their dad was waiting and maybe some other time.

I can relate. A lot.

She continued on about why didn’t she trust.

I can relate. A lot.

I’ve pondered over what she wrote for days. I’ve thought about the last few months, heck the last year of my life and wondered when I quit trusting. I’m not talking about not trusting that the homeless guy wouldn’t hurt me or my family, but when did I quit trusting myself, my husband, my marriage, my relationships.

I’m hard on myself. Really hard. I like things to go according to plan. I like things to be perfect. I like to know the future and make sure that something is doable. I even like to plan out all the steps to my leaps of faith. But that makes it not a leap, but just the next step. Yet, when the tiniest thing screws up my “plans” my world is completely turned upside down. There is no room for error, or even to recover, so that tiny pebble in the road, suddenly becomes a boulder, and everything else seems more difficult and more complicated than it should have been.

A few days ago we purchased a new car. After prodding from a friend the night before not to worry so much and think about things so much, I told my husband to just do it. He was rather surprised. Okay, scared the hell out of him is probably a little more accurate. He was so confused by the very sudden, change of heart. He was right, we needed to do it. We needed to quit relying on my parents and their patience with the use of their additional car. So, thankfully I didn’t freak out while he was signing the papers, but the payments were a little more than I wanted. Only $40 more, but still. When we had the total amount of our monthly payment, I added it up with our rent and our truck payment. I very nearly cried. It’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money when you are terrified that something will go wrong. It’s-a-lot-of-money-when-you-only-work-part-time-and-if-your-husband-loses-his-job-you-will-be-homeless. So I might have freaked out after we left the dealership. I said might have. However, if questioned and even tortured I will deny everything.

When did I stop trusting? Why didn’t I have faith that things would be okay? That God would provide for us? He most certainly did when my husband lost his job in January. We didn’t have to borrow money from anyone to pay the bills. We got by. I was trying to focus on school and not worry so much, and things turned out fine. In fact I told my husband when he was offered one job that the pay was slightly above minimum wage, that if he wanted to hold out and see what happened, he could. I’d like to find that girl. I’m quite sure she only shows up in periods of sleep deprivation.

I’ve always hesitated. I’ve always planned. It takes months of planning for something most people can decide in a few minutes.

I am scared.

I listen to the doubts that creep into my mind of all the possibilities and of all the things that can go wrong.

At what point did that become okay? What about all the other things I make excuses about because I’m scared of what the outcome might be? That list is long. What about all the things I'm afraid to try to attempt because I'm scared of the outcome? That list is very, very long. Which is unfortunate, not only for myself but for John, and for our friends and our family, because they are missing out on the wonderful experiences that I'm too afraid to follow through with.

There is so much going on in my life that I’m terrified of failing. There are so many things that I want the outcome to be good. No better than good, amazing, magnificent. Yet, those excuses keep popping back up.

I’m never good enough. I’ll never graduate. I’ll never pass all my classes. I won’t lose the weight this time either. I won’t be enough. I’ll let my friend Andrea down. I’ll let my friend Amber down. I’ll say the wrong thing. I’ll do the wrong thing. I'll never measure up. I'll never be enough.

I won’t trust.

Them, or myself or anything.

Sure, I’m still terrified, I still want to “what if” every single decision to death. Yet, if I don’t trust myself, my husband, my friends, or my family – then what am I doing? Other than adding gray to my hair and wrinkles to my face, which my husband does an amazing job of pointing out.

There are a variety of things that have nagged me for months. That have tried to push me into taking that leap of faith. Yet, I've resisted. Even the sermon at church yesterday was motivated at me following through and trusting myself. Talk about divine intervention.

So I'm trying. I'm trying not to think every single situation to death. I'm trying not to let that little voice that tells me I can't, or that I'm not good enough just ramble. Then when I get so tired of it, I'm stuff a bandanna in her mouth and sending her to the corner.


Borrowed from Mt. Hope Chronicles

I need to learn how to be a good friend, a good wife, a good daughter. To stop hesitating. To stop second guessing. To stop letting the excuses control my thoughts and my actions. Before I realize that it’s too late.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time Flies

One summer, I remember being particularly bored and actually ready for school to begin again (don't judge, I get excited about school supplies too) and was whining to whoever was within ear shot about how bored I was and how slowly time was moving.
My grandfather, whom I adored, informed me that a week to me was a year to him. As an 8ish year old, it wasn't really a profound statement, although I remember my mom standing nearby and being in complete disbelief, and amazingly so agreement. I thought they were both crazy. Now I know why. Well, I don't know why they were crazy, I'm not sure a psychologist could even answer that question, but I understand the disbelief.

*It's hard to believe I've been at TTU for almost 2 years. I'll finish my second year and 5th (thanks to summer school) semester in December.

*I'll be 33 in September.

*John and I will celebrate our 13th Anniversary in December.

*The puppy that John gave me for my birthday, just before our 2nd anniversary, will be 11 years old this year.

*My other furry baby will be 10.

*My grandfather has been gone for 8 years this October. He would be 90 on Halloween.

*My grandmother 6 in January. She would be 82 in October.

*They would have been married 64 years this year.

*My niece will turn 12 in August. I remember when she was just a toddler with little blonde ringlets.

*Her brother turned 9 last month. I remember when he was born.

* I remember my stepsister telling everyone else that she was pregnant, but avoided telling me because she knew how devastated I would be, because at the time John and I were pursuing infertility treatments to have our own child. I remember tears running down my checks when she finally called and told me that she was having a baby in just 3 short months. I sat in the floor of our bedroom and cried when we hung up.

*I remember the day that John and I agreed that we couldn't keep doing treatments. It was only yesterday, but actually it was 6 years ago.

*I've been at the same job, since we moved for 4 years last month.

*My 15 year high school reunion is next year.

*I remember when I had to by hair dye because my husband informed me that I had several gray hair patches. That was last week, his funeral will be soon...I just have to find him first.

It's funny how the older we get our perceptions and our perspectives change. I have an amazing friend (who I'm quite sure we are sisters and were separated at birth, because she is the only other person I have found who doesn't like the milk after cereal has contaminated it, along with a variety of other freaky similarities) who is currently fighting cancer. Her oldest child, who is absolutely adorable and brilliant (no, I'm not biased), was born 2 months early. Her perception of time is probably vastly different than mine. Although I'm sure that there are moments that time passes us both by faster and slower than we would like it too, yet, we both grasp that it's moving way to quickly when it comes to the grand scheme of things.

There are plans and choices that we are making in our life right now that have a expiration date on them. Once we begin in order to reach our desired end result, we have to commit to spending 2 years on the process. Right now that seems like a dreadful length of time to wait, especially for something as special as the end result would be to both of us. Yet, there are other things going on in my life that I want to give a chance too as well (I would elaborate more, but we are avoiding all parents, family, friends, and people who actually know us, so that we can be completely happy with this choice and have no regrets later on down the road to elaborate now), so that a prior option that wasn't an option might actually be an option.

And if you understood any of that you deserve some sort of medal. Because I wrote it, I knew what I was talking about and I don't understand any of it. You're Welcome.

My point (which was lost about 3 paragraphs ago), was how time keeps ticking away whether we want it to or not. And my grandfather, he was right. When your waiting for something big, 2 years will seem like a lifetime, yet when your just trucking along trying to finish college, 2 years will seem like yesterday.

So the question remains, what will you regret in a year that you didn't start doing today?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love is....

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  ~1 Corinthians 13:4-10


John's sister got married on Saturday, her ceremony was a little different than one I have been to before, as there was audience participation in a part asking that we help to guide them and support them. There was nothing wrong with it, just different.

As the pastor got to a section in their ceremony, as often happens, the famous "Love is patient" spiel began. Yet, at the love is kind section, I got a little side tracked.

Love is kind.

Love is supposed to be kind, but somewhere along the way we all screw that up. Every.single.person.

After the sit down with my inlaws a few months ago, I had hoped that relationship was on the road to recovery. Instead I think that relationship might not ever "heal". To a certain extent, I think that the majority of the parties involved have gotten to a place of comfort, a place that's easy, and instead of pushing forward and trying to change things, so that the past doesn't repeat itself, I think that we have moved on.

We are still often excluded from things. But, with wedding planning taking up a lot of time, we ignored it. Until we found out about John's grandmother being in the hospital, again...via Facebook. No phone call, no text. No nothing, just a post on Facebook, asking for prayers.

So while the pastor was reciting the passage from 1 Corinthians all I could think about was that love was supposed to be kind. I wished I could have stood up and shouted at John's parents, his brother and family and his sister. Love is kind. It's not supposed to hurt. They don't have to love me, but don't they realize what their indifference has done to their son, to their brother. It's not supposed to keep score. Yes, I've screwed up. I'm not perfect. But then again, I keep forgiving them, I keep turning the other cheek, I keep trying to be patient and kind. I often feel that I fail. Here lately they have certainly added to my own self esteem and self image issues. I'm critical enough of myself, I certainly don't need them worming into my head.

Love is patient.

Granted, no one is not going to get mad at someone that they care about. I love John, but every now and then he gets on my very last nerve and I get angry and say things that I shouldn't, and that I honestly don't mean. Yet, I often keep my mouth shut for a while and wait until I'm way past the boiling point, and all the little frustrations come spewing out too. It's not perfect, but it's who I am. Yet John is patient, he lets me vent my frustration, often at his expense, and then he wants to love me. Which, to a certain extent really annoys me. I want to be mad at him and he wants to hold me and tell me how much he loves me. Which is a total mad killer, just in case you were curious. Yet, at the same time I know that he still loves me, even if I did just threaten to beat him to death with the bag of trash.

I'll admit I've acted with less than patient intentions towards John's family. I've screwed up with them too, but to a certain extent, I feel like they want to hold that against me. John's brother's wife isn't willing to forgive. She isn't willing to sit down and at least tell me what we did wrong. She's made up her mind and she isn't willing to move forward. I'd like to tattoo the verse "it keeps no records of wrongs" on her forehead. Wonder if she would notice that?

There are big plans for our future. Plans that I'm not yet willing to post for the whole wide world to see. Mostly because I'm not 100% ready to take that step off the cliff into the unknown. These plans, will change our life. They are going to harbor moments of pure terror, heartache, joy, happiness, and love. They are big enough moments that we have told only a select few people who are important to us, because we simply are terrified. We want to be sure. Plus, after a few conversations with John, I think that we want to see what the future holds with my inlaws. They will play a small part in our future plans, and we need to be prepared for them to play there part and things go back to normal, or for our relationship to change completely.

Love never fails.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sometimes Different is Just Different

I'm 7 days into my no school vacation. 12 more days until Summer school begins. It's not nearly enough of a break. But, I refuse to spend the next 12 days whining, at least here about school. Well, I'll try not to whine much.

I had big plans this semester. I wanted to be able to have a life and go to school and work. I swear I keep finding out more ways that this whole process doesn't work than it does. I can't seem to find a groove where I don't feel like I'm giving something up or missing out on something, yet as time continues to march forward, I honestly don't can't remember what I'm fighting for or towards.

This year has been full of suck. If I thought last year was bad, this year makes last year look like a year long vacation at the beach. Perfect weather, no sunburns, my body clad in a bikini and no one puking. Perfect. This year...words cannot even begin to describe the level of suck.

Yet, I can't seem to make myself wish for something different. I can't seem to see myself anywhere else, other than where I am. I can't believe that I would give up the Saturday cookie runs with my sweet friend, who this year was diagnosed with cancer. I can't imagine giving up my Friday nights cooking goodies to share with her and her sweet family. I can't imagine a world where my in-laws were totally awesome. Yet, I've got to the point that I actually prefer their indifference. No more guilt about spending time with my family, and less rubbing in how perfect everyone else is to John and I. My grades aren't what I would like for them to be, yet, I can't imagine giving up more than I feel like I already have to make them completely awesome. Although, I'm quite sure if I would cut the cord to Facebook, I would be fine. It's a great time waster for college students who want to avoid homework. I stalk people I don't even know, and probably wouldn't even like in real life so I can avoid homework. Yet, I can't imagine giving up school, even though most days it feels like it will be a lifetime before I graduate.

So, yeah, I would like things to be different. I would like John's cousin's wife to have not ended her own life. I would like my friend to be well so we could enjoy our hot sauce dates and movie nights. I would like to be finished with school. I'd like my grandfather to be able to sit at my college graduation and watch me get my diploma. Yet, all of the things I would like different, I would miss out on the thought provoking conversations that I've had on a random cookie run. Conversations that, even though she doesn't realize the impact they have had, has caused us to completely change our plans for the future. They have caused us to have conversations and rethink things that we were unsure of before.

If this year has taught me anything it's that sometimes different is just different. It's not any better or any worse than the what's happening in my little world right now, it's just different. So, I guess the saying about if all of the worlds problems were in a pile and you could see what all was going on in other people's lives, you would gladly take your own problems back. Besides, sometimes those problems end up being a blessing, and who can complain about that?

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