Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

I'm staring out my window thinking it looks like early Spring in Eastern Oregon - there are squirrels taunting my little cat, the sun is shining, and the snow that dumped on us on Sunday is slowly melting, so green is showing through again. There are a few problems, however: I am not in Eastern Oregon and it's early winter.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas is playing on the radio and I'm catching up on my favorite non-profit, Soldiers' Angels. And, as inevitably happens, I am now feeling guilty about not "doing more." As cold as my house is, I am at home with a beautiful Christmas tree, my husband will be home in a few more hours, and we have plans to spend a wonderful Christmas with family. Meanwhile, my heroes on the front line will pass Christmas away from loved ones and in less than desirable conditions.

Enter Patti Patton-Bader, found of Soldiers' Angels and 2008's America's Favorite Mom. (And one of my heroes.) She received the rest of her prize last week - a shopping spree in New York - which she used as another opportunity to put our soldiers and their families in the forefront by using the shopping spree to "play Santa" to the children of wounded soldiers.

Every time I visit SoldiersAngels.com my faith in humanity is restored. There are people out there willing to give of their time, energy, and money to help others. My question is, how much am I willing to give up of myself to help others?

During this season of giving, these are the things I must ponder.

On the Third Day of Christmas...

This is the owl that started it all. In 2006 I lived in a townhouse with two other girls. It was my first place on my own and I was determined to have a Christmas tree. Every time we went to Target, I would pick up ornaments, and this little guy couldn't be passed up. He was clutching a branch, and had the cutest feathers above his realistic-looking owl eyes. I was in love.

Unfortunately, this was a challenging love, one, the ornament was inanimate and therefore couldn't return the affection, and, two, everyone else thought he was the ugliest thing they had ever seen. (Yeah, I still don't get it.) He would frequently be moved to the back of the tree where no one could see him (the tree only had about eight ornaments at this point in time and it was a pretty good sized tree from a u-cut tree farm).
In 2007, our first Christmas together, we were so involved with the Christmas musical and preparing for a week in San Diego, that we didn't get a tree. This did not, however, stop us from collecting more Christmas ornaments (I highly recommend Macy's after-Christmas sale) or our friends from bestowing Target's 2007 owl, which even I had to say was a little less than cute. In fact, I saw it in the store and said, "Yeek!" So we were rather amused when it popped up in the annual gift exchange. This picture makes it look a little cuter than it actually is. In person, it looks like an ewok. Which is fine if you're into Star Wars, but we are not.
And now we have the 2008 Target owl. I really can't decide what his cuteness factor is. He's slightly beauty challenged, but has rather cute, tufty "ear horns". His spindly stick legs are a little creepy and I'm convinced the cats are going to get a hold of him and chew them off. (Gus has already had a tussle with ewok-owl, who doesn't have things sticking out from his body to break off.) But all and all, he's one of what is becoming an annual tradition - "ugly" owl ornaments. And that's pretty cool.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas...

Our tree is all set up! This is our first Christmas tree since we've been married. We had one in 2006, but not last year. Dez and Andy (the cute kids on the couch) added some ornaments to our collection this year in the form of a new "beauty challenged" owl and a hedgehog, which is actually pretty cute. Last year they got us a big white owl that even I thought was hideous.

Christmas is a time when everyone's decorating personalities comes out. Jason and I like a simple, traditional country style. I have decided we need colored balls for the tree, however, because our tree looks rather bland unless you're standing next to it. The next picture is of Dez sitting next to the tree, so you can enjoy our topper.

Over the last few years I've been collecting animals made out of grass, sticks, pine cones and the like. It all started with one very special owl that I loved and everyone else thought was hideous. Since then, I have been the recipient of some rather interesting critters for my tree.

This is also Gus and Claire's first tree. Gus tried to climb it when we brought it in the house, and I wanted to let him so that when it fell over it didn't have ornaments on it and he wouldn't do it again, but I lost out. The good news is, he hasn't tried to climb it again. He is quite fond of it, however.

I love Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas...

If you've known me for five minutes, you know that I love Christmas. Like, am crazy in love with it. Today is Thanksgiving Revisited, which is an annual "family" tradition I forced my now-husband and a couple friends to participate in a few years ago, because our real Thanksgiving dinner lacked cranberry sauce and candied yams. The obvious way to remedy that was to recreate Thanksgiving dinner. (Duh.) Now it is something we look forward to every year.

Ironically, this year Thanksgiving Revisited falls on the 12th day before Christmas, which got me to thinking, "Why don't I write a daily post about Christmassy things?" It's a wonderful way to help me focus on the season. Today, while listening to Amy Grant's, "Grown Up Christmas List," one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs I started wondering what things are on my grown up Christmas List. Below are my thoughts.

Nike's Grown-Up Christmas List:

1. That Good will prevail in every situation.
2. That every soldier will know he/she is loved and appreciated.
That we will reach out to help the hurting and lost instead of turning a blind eye.
That people will find contentment with family and friends over material goods.
5. That there will be an end to the in-fighting in our churches, our communities, and our world. We all want that same thing, we just suck at communicating that.

There are other things I would like to put on that list, but to name them would mean I would have to change my actions and attitudes. Even at Christmas, somethings are difficult to change. I think this list is a pretty good start, though.

Merry Christmas all!

Cat Psychology

I have lived with cats my entire life. Today is Thanksgiving Revisited (more on that in a later post) and as I set about preparing the turkey and cleaning the kitchen I was once again reminded how much fun cats are to live with. They provide me endless amusement, and as I write this Gus, the white 15 lb beast, is curled up in my lap while Claire is resting in her bed on the window. So, today's post is dedicated to a few things I've learned about cats.

I. If they can get in it, they will.
This is the first thing I want to discuss, because I have a recent example to demonstrate it. Last night I was on the couch knitting and Gus was on the end table next to me. At my feet there was a paper bag that was left over from a work project I brought home. I casually tipped it over and Gus was in it in a flash.
After a few minutes, I called Jason downstairs and asked him to find his cat. He couldn't. Every once in awhile he would say, "I hear him, but where is he?" convinced I had locked him in a closet. I replied, "No, he's in this room." Roughly five minutes later Gus started attacking my slippers through the bag (which was by my feet) and Jason said, "How did you get him in there?!" My reply? "I tipped the bag over."
Gus has also been stuck in several boxes over the two years we've had him. The bag thing is funny, because when we first brought Claire home she wouldn't play with him, but she would hide in bags and attack him through it. As long as she couldn't see him, she would play with him.

II. Milk tabs make cheap toys.
This I learned on accident. I dropped a milk tab (the ring of plastic you pull off the one gallon jugs of milk in order to twist the cap off) on the floor shortly after bringing Gus home. Before I could pick it up, that cat had taken it across the apartment and was batting it around the bathroom floor. I thought it was cute, so let him play with it. Weeks later he was still playing with it. When Claire came to live with us, the milk tab was a hot commodity. Moral of the story? Don't buy toys, buy milk.

III. There are roughly four distinct meows you need to be able to decipher.
1. "The food dish is empty!" This does not mean that the cat is hungry. It simply means that the food dish is empty and has caused mass panic in the house. This meow is high pitched and there seems to be few breaths taken between each meow. It is often accompanied with a weaving between the human's legs.
2. “Where have you been!” This is a general, talkative meow. Medium in tone, more breaths taken between each individual meow. Usually heard when the cat first sees you at the end of the day.
3. "You surprised me!" Sounds much like, "Mrrr-OW!" Equal to the human's "Ah!" Claire makes this noise when I wake her up by petting her.
4. "Pay attention to me!" We call this the, "Me, me, me!" meow. Cause that's kind of what it sounds like. Medium in tone, but meows rapidly fired.

III. Cats are not cuddly on demand.
I have two cats because I wanted a cuddly cat to comfort me at the end of a long day. There is nothing better than having a warm kitty curled up in your lap purring while drinking a cup of tea at the end of the long day. Gus did not cut the bill. Gus has a fifth meow, in fact, and it's the "OMG, you're killing me!!!" meow. Jason has learned what this meow sounds like and can be three rooms away and say, "Nike, are you holding Gus?" when that meow is heard. Yes, yes I am. That is the story of how Claire came to live with us in a nutshell.
Claire is more cuddly and we have a saying in our house, "Where two or more are gathered, there is Claire." Even Claire, however, the cuddliest cat in the world, has her moments. Last night, in fact, I went to cuddle her while she was in the window seat and she slapped at me and jumped three feet away to the other side of the window seat. Jason, who witness thed event, said, "Huh, that was weird."
Also weird, Gus curling up in my lap. But don't let that image fool you. He also looked up at me sweetly while I typed away before chomping down on my arm completely unprovoked.

I could go on and on about other things I've learned from my cats, but that would likely bore you. Like, don't set anything down that you don't want a cat butt on, because they will find it. This morning Claire made a bed out of my folded up holiday tablecloth. Which was on the table, which is a no-cat zone. Gus is most content when he finds a pile of papers to sit on. We try to keep plastic bags out of reach of cats because those seem to be a prize item as well.

All in all, cats are pretty great.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Day

Just an update, I've had a lot of things running through my head lately and after several nights of keeping Jason up with my blabbering I realized I've always journaled and at some point I stopped doing that. So, I am reverting this blog back to what it was supposed to be - my thoughts on life, love, work, school, and randomness. I will still be keeping a weight loss blog, because that was part of my running dialogue, but it has been moved to http://choosingtolose.blogspot.com/ I won't be posting on it until Sunday, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be writing a term paper, so I'm going to get back to that. Peace!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We'll Try Again Tomorrow

Well, as I spent the morning/early afternoon throwing up, I'm thinking I'm not going to do round two of exercises tonight. I'll go for it tomorrow.

I think I'm going to eat the soup I made for nasty colds as I have only consumed half an apple (which came back up) and a full package of saltines. Hopefully that stays down cause that soup would burn coming up.

Hope everyone else's day was happier. =)

Day 2: Hanging in There

The picture to the left is what Gus looks like after a bath. I think this must be what I looked like during the Circuit 3 Strength exercise because he felt the need to lick the sweat off my forehead and chew on my hair.

The exercises are still painful, but I can feel muscle developing my shoulders. That's probably because my upper body is the weakest. I want - I NEED - to stay committed to this, so I'm trying to focus on the positives. I've heard multiple accounts that Day 8 of Level 1 is the easiest, so it is my goal to get there and see if it's true. And even if it isn't, to keep pushing until even the advanced moves of Level 1 are easy. Then I will move on to Level 2.

So, everyone that is just starting, contemplating starting, or is kicking the 30 Day Shred's hiney (or having their hiney kicked): Keep it up! The results are worth it.

In other news, someone called me at 5:15 a.m. NOT COOL. But, I was able to get up at 6:20 to go workout this morning, so all things work for good. Have a great day everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Starting Over: Day 1

I have no upper body strength. I never have, really, so I am not at all surprised by this. I am currently lifting 3 lb weights for the strength training portions of 30DS and feel like my arms are going to fall off. Which is pathetic, but I'm too stubborn to move down to the 2 lb weights. On the upside, I did more push-ups than I did before. Still not for the full count, but more. Again, upper body has taking a beating over the last year and I'm doing "girly push-ups". I used to do beautiful, proper push-ups. =P I'll get there!

On a bright note, I was able to get into and out of the shower after my workout. Yay, no legs cramping up and freezing! =) (See, "What Idiot Designs a Raised Tub?" for background.)

My mini-goal is to lose enough weight I can get my wedding ring off. It's been stuck on my finger for almost a year now. (I think the last time I took it off was when I made meatloaf for "the fam" - not my biological one - which was around October of last year and it was quite traumatic getting it back on.) It doesn't look pretty and my skin is pretty dry under the ring. It would be nice if my finger didn't suffer anymore. ;-) I intend to lose enough weight in four weeks to be able to comfortably take my ring on and off. Cause I think losing ten-ish pounds would do the trick, especially since I tend to lose weight in my face and hands before I lose it anywhere else.

My long term goal is to fit back into my skinny jeans. Yes, I have a pair. I heart them and even though they haven't fit since my freshman year of college (that would be nearly five years ago) they were the best pants ever so I've never thrown them out in hopes that one day I could wear them again. Also never mind they are pale bluish-white and really don't go with many of my shirts. They are the softest jeans ever! And, jeans are expensive after all so it would be nice if the ones I have fit.

Tomorrow is another day and this chica needs some rest.

Starting Over: The Picture

Love affair with the gigantic cupcake. September 2008

I have always had crazy high self-esteem, but in the last year that has started to dwindle. I feel fat and sluggish and ugly most of the time and that's not me. I started a week or two ago to commit to change, but I'm lazy.

I'm determined to have clothes that fit and to recognize myself in the mirror. So I'm taking a new approach. I still want to do the 30 Day Shred because I do enjoy it (as much as it causes me pain, but it's a good pain). My new approach is to continue tracking my workouts via blogs, but every Sunday/Monday to have a weigh-in, measure, and post a new picture. I took my measurements and such yesterday, but I don't have a current picture. So instead I have posted the picture that made me realize how huge I've gotten. (I should not have consumed that cupcake, it was deceptively small looking, but it was not.)

So, as of the week of November 16th, 2008 I am:

  • 5' 3"
  • 168.0 lbs (which is ten pounds less than I thought I was, yahoo)
  • 40" chest
  • 32.75" natural waist
  • 36" belly at the widest point (this is for my own amusement)
  • 43" hips
  • 24.75" thighs (each)
  • 13" biceps (each)
And on that note, I am off to pick up my husband from the MAX station and then I shall do my workout. I'm already dressed for it, and man will I look awesome at the train station (cold, too). ;-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 4: This should have been day 7

I got lazy this week. I put in three days and then got "busy". This workout is 25 minutes from start to finish. There is NO REASON to throw out the "I'm too busy line." I spent more than 25 minutes playing Text Twirl on Facebook every day this week.

So, because I missed three days this week, today was REALLY hard. Like, felt harder than the first day. And I wanted to quit during the first circuit. And seriously considered shutting off the DVD during the first circuit. But I reminded myself that I have to work for the body I want and that I brought the weight and loss of muscle on myself and now I have to fight to get rid of it. (Not having to tell Jason I didn't work out when he came home from his meeting was good motivation to keep going as well, cause he's really supportive of my endeavors.)

As difficult as today was and as much as I DID NOT want to do it, I did notice that my form has improved and I am repping out more push ups. Not a lot, but more. I still hate the first circuit more than most, but it always gets better after that I just need to keep working at it.

Today, I should buy a scale. That may help (or totally depress me) as well. Good luck to you Shredders out there!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 3: What idiot designs a raised bathtub?

Today's workout made me groan, grunt, and nearly cry. But I stuck with it. I even did a few more push ups than normal. (My upper body strength needs some serious help.) I was so sore walking up the stairs to my bathroom, but was really encouraged by my husband when he told me how proud he was of me for sticking with this. I have to keep telling myself, "It's only twenty minutes, there's no excuse not to do it, and it HELPS."

Unfortunately, my bathtub is raised about six inches off the floor. Why? I do not know. My thighs are screaming from three days of squats, lunges, and butt kicks and I've been having trouble sitting and standing back up. I had to steady myself against the wall to get INTO the bathtub for my post-workout shower, but I was seriously perplexed as to how get OUT of it when I was done. This is how Jason found me: shower curtain open, towel in my head, dripping wet, with a stunned expression on my face. He asked if I was okay and I replied, "I can't move my legs and am not sure how to get down." Fortunately he's a good guy and held my hand to steady me so I could dry off and go to bed.

Note to self: drink more water and eat a banana post-workout to prevent legs from freezing up and getting yourself stuck in the shower.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 2: Oh the pain!

I can't move. And that sucks. I knew my arms and legs were weak, but come on!

As I was limping through church today, which required an explanation which was stated as simply as, "I started the 30 Day Shred yesterday and Jillian Michaels - the mean Biggest Loser trainer - is going to kill me." One of my friends, who is trying to gain weight (jerk), asked how I stay motivated, cause, let's face it, Jillian can be a real beyatch. Basically, I stay motivated (yahoo, day two!) by realizing that I'm in pain because I am weak and the only way to lose the pain is to lose the weakness, ie, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
So, I can barely move, but I stuck with the exercises and made it through another 20 minutes of torture. I will be strong and I will be fit, but it's going to take dedication and effort on my part.

Day1: Gonna get my butt kicked by Jillian Michaels

After hitting a point of being completely disgusted with my weight, I went to Target after work and bought Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. It was recommended by my awesome friend, Leslie, who has been sticking to her healthy-living goal for a little over a year and has been a great source of inspiration for me.

I was a little skeptical at first because exercise DVDs and I have a history of incompatibility. So I read the reviews on Amazon and was totally inspired by a lady in her mid-30s who had been overweight her entire life and has some health problems, but is completely committed to this workout plan and has been sticking with it. I decided if she could do it and not want to kill Jillian, I could do.

Yesterday morning I woke up, threw on some workout clothes, opened the case of weights I've had for a year and had never opened, said goodbye to friends on Facebook just in case, and popped in the DVD.

Let me tell you, that was the LONGEST twenty-minutes of my life. I felt like I had run six miles, but it took me only a quarter of the time. Jillian appeared to be reading my mind, because every time I thought about slowing down or all out quitting, she would say something like, "I have 400 lb people doing jumping jacks, you can too!" or "Four, three, two...." and kept me motivated.

Did I want to punch her in the face at the end of the work out? No. Did I hurt? Oh yeah. But you know what? She said something that really struck me. Her two assistants have amazing abs and she said, "If you want abs like this, you have to fight for them." I think I'm finally ready to fight to be the person I want to be.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Joy. A simple word encompassing a range of emotion. Songs have been sung about it, books written on how to achieve it, and an entire season dedicated to it, but what is it?

My life has been marked, not unlike everyone else's, with times of pain and frustration, but I have also been incredibly blessed in life. I have walked down roads that were filled with laughter and light heartedness. It is most often during those times that I see why I had to walk down the rough road to get to the smooth one. The rough roads are times of refinement and personal growth; the smooth ones times of reflection. I want to remember what I learn during those times of reflection and hold on to the joy I feel when the burden is light, because that is what holds me when life takes a curveball.

As I stare at this picture that was my desktop background for so many months I can't help but wonder if joy isn't so much an emotion as it is a state of being. And I want to be more like that elephant.