Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Weigh In - Last one this year

Quick report:

Since last Wednesday (Dec 24) I have LOST 1.2 pounds. That, of course is excellent news, given the feastivities of the last 7 days.

The not so great news is that this is also my TOTAL loss for December, due to a gain in the middle of the month (the week of the infamous 'border guard bully'.)

A fresh look at my habits and goals is in order, considering I am just past a year on this journey. Look for them this next week.

Must go feed my baby his breakfast (and change his diaper)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post Christmas

So, what did the holiday bring you?

I hope it brought you JOY, knowing that our Creator God humbled Himself to become a human in order to be the sacrifice needed to save us from sin

I hope it brought you LOVE as you gathered with your family to exchange tokens of your appreciation for each other

I hope it brought you PEACE as you chose wisely which goodies to indulge in and which healthy foods to fill yourself with.

I was blessed with all these things……and more….some things very pleasant, some not so much. ........

Here are a couple of the most wonderful blessings in my life......

But, to get the food/eating/weight thing out of the way first.... weigh in is tomorrow but so far, I am DOWN just under a pound since Christmas Eve.

I am happy with this since (like most of y'all) I allowed myself treats.

However, in keeping with our healthier eating habits, I did something a little different this year – I discouraged people from bringing goodies and I offered substantially fewer treats myself. Therefore, there was less for anyone to overindulge with.

My personal indulgences included, a nanimo bar or two (each day), a few small pieces of Christmas cake (each day), and several pieces of our ethnic treat – Lefse. (Lefse is made of potatoes and rolled into something that looks like a crepe. You spread butter on it then sprinkle it with sugar and roll it up. Heavenly. I controlled the damage of the lefse by using low fat margarine instead of butter. (At least, that's what I told myself)

I noticed that I was not as inclined this year to ‘graze’ on the goodies that were sitting around and that my portions at mealtimes were smaller than previous years. Also, I noticed that I made the healthier choices without hardly thinking about them.

I really expected to gain a couple pounds, at least, and will be OK with it, if that is what the scale says tomorrow morning…..I chose my treats carefully and deliberately (most of the time).

I can honestly say that the holiday brought me PEACE about my food choices.

The Holiday also brought me LOVE....

My home was filled with people and love for 3 days.

The living room was filled with brightly wrapped gifts and my noisy, wonderful family the morning of the 25th until late that night.

I love gift – giving.

I love watching gift-giving.

It is such a joy to me to see how each of my kids goes out of their way to find/make a thoughtful gift for each of their family members.

I love thinking of and finding just the ‘right’ gift for the ones I love.

Some of the highlights this year:

- Robert and Lana made a special 1 hour trip to the city to go to the one store that guarantees its products are all “Fair Trade” in order to buy a gift for Vinj and Kath that would support this social issue that they feel strongly about

- After much hunting, I found a Crokinole Board for Emma – and she was VERY excited!

- I found a site on the internet where we could purchase Seasons 1 – 7 of Star Trek 'The Next Generation' for our one-time-Trekkie son… about ¼ of the usual price! (Which is the only way we could ever get it for him.)

- My niece went and had her photo taken in an “old-time” dress and parasol and gave a framed copy to each of us….

- My niece also bought novelty knitted hats for each of the little girls from the tourist trap (I mean Souvenier Shop) where she works in Banff

- Daniel sacrificed a large amount of money on a gold chain for his dad….because (in his words) “Dad always gets the crappy gifts from me because I never know what to get him”

- Rob and Lana gave us a photo album full of PRINTED photos of their family

- Vinj and Kath found the ‘perfect’ Tshirt for Danny….

- I surprised Jim with an 85 year old map of Alberta that we had found in an old building on our property (15 years ago) . I took it to a framer and had it preserved and framed. We now have the coolest looking 6 ft tall map hanging by our kitchen door! (It is always a plus when I actually surprise my man.

- My SIL cried (and cried) when she and her hubby opened the photo book I made for them with photos from their 25th Anniversary celebration this past summer.

- I cried when I opened a gift certificate from my SIL for ONE YEAR of free ‘fills’ on my nails. (she is the nail tech). Her comment when I remarked on the generosity...."I enjoy our visits while I'm working on your nails".

- Andrew (almost) cried when he opened a gift from Emma - a frame with 3 photos of he and Emma enjoying a Ferris Wheel ride at the fair this past spring.

These are just a few of the thoughtful, loving gifts that were exchanged to fill our home with love.

Unfortunately, the season also brought us some not so nice ‘gifts’……..

A) Sickness…..Robert was very sick Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Lana was very sick Boxing Day (they stayed home that day) and Elizabeth was sick yesterday. As well, my SIL got the same cold/flu Rob had…then both Jim and I also got sick. Kaden seems to have picked up the bug, as well.

B) Accident, Injury and Wreckage……Christmas Day, Daniel and his cousin Scott went out (after dark) for a ride on the snowmachine. Since they could only get one sled to start (too cold?) Scott rode behind Dan. Unfortunately, on his way back to the house, Daniel misjudged the placement of the volleyball net (2” steel posts) and caught the right ski on the post, causing the machine and the boys to part company. The boys flew across the volleyball ‘court’….Dan hit the other post with his leg, which caused it to fling back and kick Scott in the back. Scott got tangled up a bit in the net. (This is what we surmise happened, based on marks in the snow and the injuries received) Dan thought he had killed his cousin when he looked over and saw him laying so still in the snow. Scott thought his ribs and wrist were broken. Scott and his mom missed supper to go into town to emergency….turns out he sprained his wrist and had a bruised kidney (blood in the urine – temporarily). Both boys are well on their way to recovery……Dan’s wallet is not doing so well, though – he has to pay for the repairs to the sled. He was sure kicking himself the next day when the temperature warmed up considerably and he realized if he hadn’t been so impatient to go riding, they could have been out all day in the sunshine instead of having one quick, cold ride in the dark. Tsk, Tsk. The lessons of the young.

C) The Christmas season has nothing to do with this next ‘not so nice gift’…. Kathryn is in the hospital as I write. She was taken in last night – dehydrated and feeling terrible. She had been throwing up all evening – every 15 – 20 minutes and could not stop. This, after having diarrhea for 5 days. She is about 11 weeks pregnant and if the last pregnancy is any indication, has another 6 or so months of being sick to look forward to. I’m not sure if this bout is because of the ‘morning sickness’ (which lasts 24 hours) or if it is a flu bug, but either way, she lost too much fluid (coupled with the fact that she is still breastfeeding Seth) and needs to be on IV for a couple days. Jim and I (in spite of being sick with ‘Robert’s Cold’) went in and picked Seth up – he will stay with us at least until tomorrow so Vinjelu can stay with Kathryn. (Having our grandson with us for a couple days is a NICE thing, BTW)

Of course, the best thing the holiday brought us was Titus…..our newest Grandson.

Other blessings this year…..My mom joined us for Christmas – this is the first Christmas in 12 years we have had with her - and THAT'S a story I will probably never go into......but we were thankful to finally share our family celebration with her again.

Jim’s parents came out on the 26th…..both of them are in better health than they have been in about 4 years. We are very thankful to have these precious people in our lives.

All in all, …..3 "not so nice" things compared to all the wonderful things the season brought to us means that it was/is a BLESSED Christmas season!

Hope you can say the same!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Just wanted to post a couple more photos of my little man...... and his big sisters....

7 year old Elizabeth is so excited to have a baby of their own.... (not just a cousin)

8 year old Emma says "he's cute and precious".....

5 year old Sophia is pretty pleased with her brother....she is just no sure about not being the baby anymore.

all 4 kids....

an active little boy....

I love the look on Rob's face....and the good shot of Titus' hair

The little girls are at our house yesterday and today....we'll take them home before bedtime tonight since Lana and Titus are now home

In other news.....I've had terrible cravings for sweets this week. I haven't had to deal with this kind of craving all. I've not given in too many times, but enough that my weight loss has slowed. WI is Wednesday and as of today I am at 212.0 ....down from last Wednesday, but still not as low as the Wednesday before. It is also hard to find time to go on the treadmill since it is the last crunch before Christmas.

I babysat for Kathryn's day home for 2 days last week, then Saturday evening we went to the girls' Christmas Play and 'had a baby'. Since then, the girls have been here. Because of these things, I am a little behind on gifts that I am making and I still have 3 or 4 to buy.

On the positive side, in the midst of all that extra activity, I managed to reorganize and clean 2 "pantries", a large cupboard, and a small myself just a little more counter space on which to serve dinner for 20. In my kitchen, even a little more counter space is priceless.

It feels good to have more order in my home. Because of the other rooms that I have "decluttered" and reorgaized over the last 7 months, it will be a breeze to go through the house on the 24th and make it "company ready"......

I hope you are finding joy in the holiday rush and not stressing about things that do not matter!

Be good to yourself - do not totally deprive yourself, but do not over indulge, either. Find the balance and have a wonderful Christmas!

Likely won't post again until after the 27th (my last 'company' day) to you then!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


It's A Boy!

James Titus was born tonight, December 20, 2008 at 9:22 pm.
He weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs 4 oz and measured 22 inches long. A big boy!
Consider this.....his mommy gained only 12 pounds during the pregnancy. The baby alone weighed over 9 pounds. Do ya think she lost weight? This is the girl that began to have gall bladder attacks after she was pregnant and has been eating virtually 0 fat since July. Yeah, she has lost she will be 5'8" and weigh about 115 lbs.
Anyway, the labor went very quickly - both mommy and baby are doing well. Titus is very alert and active and doesn't look as big as his numbers sound.
The three big sisters were 'bouncing off the walls' when they heard they had a brother!!! We will be going back to town tomorrow morning to take them in to meet him then bring the girls out to our place for the day and night. I doubt they will want to stay much longer than that, with a baby brother at home! (I expect he will be home Monday) I'm sure you'll understand if I am away from my computer again for the next few days.....
Titus is our third grandson of 6 (so far) grandchildren. His other grandparents have 7 grandchildren - this is their FIRST grandson!
So, God is good and all is right with my world......except that it is WAY too cold!!!! -34C!!! (That is -29 F for you Americans) Bring back Global Warming!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weigh In

My second official weigh in and I have to report a gain. That sucks.

I did gain a couple pounds after my sweet indulgences last Friday night, but I was back down to my weight from the week before by yesterday. Today.....I'm up 1.6 lbs again. Good chance it is water weight (too much sodium yesterday) but.....I guess if it is, I'll just show that much more of a loss next week - right?

I am babysitting tomorrow and Friday - looking after my daughter's dayhome child....a sweet little 3 year old boy. Kathryn and Vinjelu have gone on a mini holiday to Banff, AB.

Update on the job situation:

Our employer (in Houston) hired an immigration lawyer to deal with the border guards.

After some correspondance and telephone calls, and moving 'up the ladder' in Homeland Security, the lawyer is still convinced that they have 'broken their own laws' and cancelled the visa wrongly.

Homeland Security is not convinced, however. They maintain that what was done was right AND they refuse to let the lawyer see the statements that they had Jim write out while he was detained.

The next step is to send another letter, more 'strongly worded' to the next level of supervisors.

Our hope is that our lawyer can clear Jim's name, since as it stands, the record shows that he has been working illegally in the States. (Even though he applied for and was granted an official visa by the border guards at the same station that has now cancelled it) .

The day all this happened (last Thursday) Jim decided to come home through Calgary so he could stop in at the head office of the company he used to work for here in Alberta. He has been in regular communication with these people since we left last fall. He has worked with many of these men for several years - one of the head guys (call him MB) worked for the same company as Jim way back in the 80' there is history there. The men in this office consider Jim to be a friend and vise versa. He wanted to stop in mostly for the comradeship, I think.

He was very surprised, given the current condition of the oil and gas industry in AB, to find that MB needs to hire 2 men for the winter season. He was quick to offer one of those positions to Jim. Jim asked for a few days to see if things could be worked out at the border since he did not just want to jump ship, so to speak.....but after a few days, and much prayer, he took the job.

So, we are again employed - beginning January 2.

The up side is:

- we are employed
- Jim will be working within 2 hours of home (which will feel good, if you know what I mean)
- he is again working with men that respect him and know him and will keep him working if at all possible
- he is no longer living and working beside a plant that has constant upsets of extremely sour gas (I hated that).

The down side is:
- he will be working every day that he is able, all winter (Must be done so that we can save enough to keep us going in the spring)
- No more 2 weeks at work then 2 weeks at home.
- The oil/gas industry in Alberta shuts down for 1 - 3 months over the spring then the summer months are usually pretty slow - depending on how wet it is. We have no idea whether he will be able to work after March 21 when Spring break up begins.
- If we want to have a few evenings together, I will have to find someone to take care of our dogs and then travel to where ever he is staying and hang out in his motel room all day until he is finished work and returns for the evening. This is nothing new....been doing it for years....but it is not as nice as we have had it since April.
- BUT he is working....for people he likes and respects....for a company he likes...close to home

Anyway, that is the news on that front.....hopefully, the lawyer will be able to clear Jim's name in case he needs to go south again for work.

In other news.....

Hubby had a gall bladder attack on Dec 5 and spent the night in the hospital. He spent the next week eating NO fat at all (not an easy task) but when he was in Calgary, he just 'had' to have a Peter's buger and shake. (If you are from AB, you know what I'm talkin about). No adverse effects from that so he is back to his usual diet (fairly low in fat and calories). Today we saw the doctor who gave him the results from the Ultra Sound he had done a few days after the attack. He does, indeed, have (several) gallstones but the doc told him that if it isn't bothering him, leave it be - which is what he wants to do anyway. Nevertheless, he will have to be a bit more diligent about what he is eating so as not to bring on an attack.

DIL Lana, who feels like she is about 12 months pregnant, has been extremely tired, losing weight (even though it is the last few weeks of the pregnancy) and has no energy since obviously Baby is taking most of the calories and nutrition....I mean, Lana is on the thin side to begin with and here she is, losing weight when she should be gaining. Rob and Lana planned ahead and had all their Christmas preparations DONE by Dec 1 so at least she isn't having to stress about that. Her mom has been staying with them for the last 2 weeks so that Lana can get lots of extra rest. She will stay until after Baby is born. The due date is Dec 21 but really, we've been expecting it any day since the first week of Dec - she's been having regular, painful contractions for 2 weeks. Hopefully, I'll be announcing the safe arrival of my newest grandbaby VERY soon.

So, mostly good news.....except for the gain.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I was going to post about this a few days ago, but ….well, you know what happened to derail my good intentions. But, I still want to document these NSV’s …… as well as the scale’s verdict.

So….(from my journal Dec 5)

An exciting thing (to me) that happened……two things, actually…..

First, when I got myself ready to go, I looked in the mirror and thought “Dang! Girl, you look good today!”

I don’t know when I ‘ve ever really had that thought when looking at myself.

Sure, I’ve thought “My hair looks nice today” or “My makeup looks good” or “this outfit looks pretty good”…..all the while subconsciously comparing myself and thinking that I look good ‘in spite of’ or ‘relatively speaking’.

Yesterday, I just thought I looked good.


What a novel feeling!

I liked it.

Then, during conversation, Trisha asked me if I’d been going to the gym because I looked like I’ve ‘lost even more weight’.

That was a nice compliment – one that I was not expecting.

However, as nice as that was, and as good as it made me feel, my own compliment meant more.

Back to today…..

A couple years ago, Jim bought me a beautiful bracelet for Christmas. It barely fit around my wrist, but I wore it, because I really liked it and what’s the use of having a lovely piece of jewelry that you don’t wear?

Last spring, it broke… probably because of its tight fit. I finally got around to taking it in for repair. I was able to pick it up a couple days ago and to my excitement, IT DANGLES!! Not a whole lot, but it deffinately dangles!

I could not make my camera focus...and it is not easy taking a photo with only one hand.... but you can see that there is space between the bracelet and my wrist. When I was wearing it before, there was NO space. It barely moved.

As far as the scale is concerned, I’ve decided that I will give myself an official weigh in day in order to keep closer tabs on my weight. I’ve chosen Wednesdays as my WI day. I will still weigh daily, but having a milestone every seven days should keep me more in tune with whether the numbers are going up or down or staying the same. Time goes by too quickly for me not to have a stop and look at the numbers day.

My first official weigh in was last week – I was down two pounds since the Wednesday before.

I’m not doing so well this week…..Friday my kids hosted and performed in a benefit concert. (You can read about it here, if you are interested.) I wanted to help them out so I volunteered to provide goodies for the “after concert” get together at their house.

I baked some ‘low fat’ brownies with cream cheese and raspberry topping (low fat cream cheese and sugar free jam). I had several ‘tastes’ of the topping while the brownies were baking.

I also pulled out my “Christmas Baking” for this year (Nanimo bars and Ginger snaps from Costco) As I arranged the cookies on the plate, I remembered the Christmas cake I had left from last year and pulled it out. I cut the end off the fruit cake and since it did not have a nice clean cut, I ATE IT! Without really thinking, I ate it.
I cut the rest of the cake, then when I got to the other end, I ate it too!
Then came the Nanimo bars……the first one out of the box is always a mess – can’t serve that! So into the mouth it went! These are big pieces, too! (I normally cut the precut pieces into about 4 small ones) By the time the evening was over, I had had 1 brownie, about 4 pieces of fruit cake (not large pieces), the large hunk of Nanimo bar, and 1 or 2 of the small pieces.

I am currently UP about 2 pounds since Wednesday, but I am hoping that my good eating over the days since then will pay off by this week’s weigh in.

I was most upset about how many times I caught myself AFTER I put something in my mouth! I thought I was pretty much over the mindless eating.
I guess this just proves that I cannot afford to let my guard down – especially at this time of year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Anniversary....One Year

It is one year since I started to lose weight by changing the way I think about food and the way I choose to eat.

I am a long way from the weight loss goal I set for myself…I had hoped to be at goal by the time a year was up.

In fact, I was sure that I would be. (That is, once I quit thinking that I would “give this a try” and began to think “I am going to do this”. )

Well, I’m not even half way to goal in the year.

My goal was to lose 113 lbs to be at 140 by now. I have lost 41.6 pounds, bringing me to 211.4.

I'm OK with that.

I have learned that there is more to losing weight than losing weight.

In fact, losing weight is the easy part – it’s the changing of a lifetime of bad habits and destructive thinking that is hard.

Even harder than that (for me at least) is taking a lifetime of living a sedentary lifestyle and trying to incorporate activity.

That will be my challenge for the next year, I guess.

Aside from the very real facts of having to change deeply ingrained thinking and behavior, there have also been some extenuating circumstances.

This past year has been one full of change and travel - probably not the ‘ideal’ time to embark on a change of eating habits. (As if there would ever be the ‘ideal’ time)

Let me bore you with the details:

After a summer of watching his opportunity for work in Alberta slowly dwindle, my husband decided to take a job that was offered to him in Louisiana. (You cannot get much farther from Alberta than Louisiana and still be in English- speaking North America.) Naturally, I went with him.

This meant leaving my family, my home, and my familiar life to go live in a place where I knew no one, had no transportation when my husband was at work, in a new climate and culture – where I was told to check my bed at night for poisonous spiders. Don’t get me wrong….I loved Louisiana! I’d go back in a minute – to visit. In the fall/winter. These things, while a great adventure, are stressors.

From the day we decided to take the job until the day we pulled away was 10 days. 13 Days since the job offer had been made. And Jim was away at work for 4 of those 10 days. We did not even have passports when we decided to go, so you can imagine what a whirlwind of activity preceded our departure. We didn’t so much ‘pack’ the trailer as throw things into it. What do you take when you are moving for an undetermined amount of time? We had no idea how long we would be gone – in fact, when we left, we did not even know we were going to Louisiana….we were hired by a consulting firm in Oklahoma – they would “place” us when we got there.

Although we felt quite ‘right’ about our decision, it was extremely difficult to leave our kids and grandkids. We are quite close, as a family – our kids would miss us and we would miss them. A lot. Talk about conflicting emotions…excitement at the “adventure” we were about to experience…..pain at leaving our family behind….

the greatest conflicts were:

My daughter and her husband had just returned from Zambia where they had been on “field assignment” for Youth With a Mission after being in school in Montana since March. For the first time since they had been married, they would be living near us. I had been so looking forward to having them nearby. (Kathryn had been living in Calgary, Thailand, and South Africa for two years before their marriage, so I had only had my girl living near me in short ‘spurts’ for 4 years) To make it even harder to leave, Kathryn was pregnant and she had had quite a difficult pregnancy up to that point. They were planning to be in Canada for no more than 2 years…..and now, just when I would have my daughter at home for an extended time, we were moving out of the country!!! Talk about stress….She and I were both heartbroken. At least we had had lots of practice living a long way apart. We had learned to maintain and even grow a relationship long distance.

Also, Our youngest was barely 18 at the time. He was finished high school but did not yet have a job. Vinjelu and Kathryn would be living with him for about a month but were then moving into town. Danny would be living alone (except for our 5 dogs)…..he was never one to have a whole lot of friends and the ones he did have were still in school. I worried about leaving him….I was not sure how he would handle the loneliness – Jim and I had taken a month long road trip earlier in the year….Dan had been very lonesome then. I also worried about the state of our home with just him to care for it. Jim had confidence in him, though, and in the end….Jim was right. Dan did fine.

Interjection: We had a wonderful time in Louisiana….for the first time in many years, we had a “normal” work schedule….Jim went to work at 5 am and returned ‘home’ every night for supper by 8 pm. Almost every night, anyway.

Up until a couple weeks before Christmas break, Jim did not have any weeks “off”, but since he was learning the area and the job, he had more short days than normal and most weekends were no more than driving out to his locations to check well pressures. I went with him at those times and then we’d have the whole afternoon together to explore our new home. It was during this time that I reached the end of my rope in regard to my weight. I was desperate. I had gained five pounds since arriving in LA. I’ve already documented coming to this point here so will go on to my next point….

I had been “on program” for barely 10 days before we flew home for Christmas on Dec. 21. Much of my shopping had been done on line, and delivered to our home (unwrapped), but I still had plenty left to do….not to mention:

groceries for three days of Family celebrations with not only our kids, but extended family as well.

Add to this, my house had been “cared for” exclusively by an 18 year old boy for the past 4 weeks. It wasn’t too bad… but really, can you expect a teenage boy to notice the details?

Also, there were no decorations out, and no Christmas tree in the living room. I told everyone that there was a good chance the tree would have nothing but lights on it since I did not think I’d have time to decorate. (Usually, we have a family night and whoever can make it, helps to decorate. There was no time for this, obviously.) Andrew (number 3 son) ended up doing it for me when he and his wife arrived for the holiday.

I spent 2 days in the city doing my shopping, necessitating eating out. This whole time, Jim was also rushing around doing his shopping – it was normal for him to be shopping on the 23rd and 24th. I NEVER go near a shopping center on those days, normally. Does that sound like just a little extra holiday stress? It was….but I was so glad to be home and around my family that it was easier than it sounds….thanks in large part to my sister (in law) who drove me to both cities so I could do my shopping (Jim was using my truck – his was in LA) It was a treat to spend so much time with her. Of course, both days involved eating in restaurants.

Beginning a “diet” just before Christmas seems to be a little self defeating, but I had been given good advise from the counselors at LA Weight Loss Center and I did OK – I mostly resisted the treats but allowed myself certain indulgences so I did not feel deprived.

My daughter AND my DIL were both due to give birth the first week of January. Kathryn started to have contractions on Christmas Eve. Jim was booked to fly back to work Jan 8. (I had planned to stay home for a month – to help the new mommies get settled) We spent those 10 days or so before Jim left staying close to home ‘just in case’ – Kath really wanted her dad to be in the waiting room at the hospital when her baby was born.

However, the babies were both born AFTER Jim left….I was to be with Kath and Vinj during labor/delivery so every time she thought “this was it”, I was awake for most of the night – either waiting to see if the labor was real or driving in to town to meet them at the hospital. This happened two nights in a row before it was the real thing.

I arrived at the hospital at 1 am on Jan 10. I will not go into the experience of watching my baby have a baby – that would take WAY too much time. Seth was born at 11:28 a.m.

Much later, I went home for a shower and to email photos to Vinj’s family in Zambia/Europe then was back to the hospital shortly before Mike (son number 2) and a very pregnant Victoria arrived to meet Seth. While Tor was holding Seth, he began to cry and…..her water broke.

I was afraid I was looking at another night without sleep, but they sent me home and said they’d keep in touch – Victoria’s mom was going to be with them.

I was relieved to be able to sleep for a few hours between calls keeping me updated on what was happening with Tor. At about 8:30 a.m. I got the call that the birth would be within an hour.

That estimate turned out to be incorrect. I was a little slow getting going, (24 hour shifts do not come as easily as they once did) but I made it to the city before Kaden was born at 11:24 a.m. Jan 11. 4 minutes less than 24 hours after Seth was born.

Did I mention that Mike and Tor live an hour away?

Kath had some recovery complications so required a little extra help, plus I also spent time with Victoria. The two girls lived an hour apart – AFTER I drove the half hour to Kathryn’s. Thank God the weather was quite warm for most of that time (above freezing, actually).

As well, since Vinj’s car was not up to longer trips, I took them to Calgary for an overnight trip that involved a ‘baby meet and greet’ with all their friends there, a 4 hour 'once per month course' which they had been taking, and picking up Vinjelu’s mom from the airport. She was to stay with them for 10 days.

All this travel, visiting, and mothering was hard on the eating plan! In spite of all this, by the time I returned to Louisiana, I had lost 12 pounds in total.

Back in LA, Jim was now on a two week on, one week off rotation. We could not afford to fly home every month (especially since 1 week off meant only 4 actual days at home) so we did some sightseeing. We took one major road trip. I gained SEVEN pounds!!! Oops…I should have taken my scale with me.

We were in LA for another 7 weeks before we drove home….Jim had been offered a job in Wyoming with a 2 on, 2 off rotation by a company he dearly wanted to work for. Most importantly, to him….Wyoming is within a day’s travel of home.

We left our trailer park ‘home’ on March 21, headed for Iowa so we could visit Jim’s Uncle and Aunt for a day or two before driving west to check in with Jim’s new boss in Wyoming on our way home. Seven days of eating out three times a day (even in Iowa, since we cannot be in Uncle/Aunt’s home because of Jim’s severe allergies to their cats). The seventh day found us at Son Andrew’s home in southern Alberta….finally, a relief from restaurant food! We stayed with him and Keltie for 2 days before finally driving home. I had learned from my mistakes on the previous road trip….by the time we got home, I was down 2.6 pounds since we left.

I was home for 3 days then Kathryn, Seth, and I flew to England to spend 10 days with Kathryn’s SIL who had just had a baby. While at her home, I did most of the cooking and shopping so was able to stay pretty close to plan. We also spent 2 days in London – being tourists. (I LOVE London!) I lost 1.6 pounds while in England.

I was home for 3 days…trying to get my body clock back on North American time before Daniel and I left in my little car (which we had bought in LA) to meet Jim for his first 2 weeks “off”. We had tickets for the NASCAR truck race and IRL race in Kansas City and decided to take Dan along….he’d been alone for pretty much the entire winter, looking after our home and our dogs….we wanted to give him a holiday and (most importantly) time with us.

Dan and I left at midnight after Robert’s (oldest son) 30th birthday party, trying to get in front of a major spring snow storm that was moving in….and remember, I was suffering major sleep deprivation at the time…..We were not able to completely avoid the snow storm and by the time we were in the worst of it, I was delirious with exhaustion so Dan drove – on tires that were meant for Louisiana weather, not wet, icy snow.

We were gone for 1 day less than 3 weeks. Again, all that time, we were eating out. To complicate things, I got sick. Real sick. You can’t eat salads when your throat is so swollen that the lettuce scratches and makes you choke. I reached for comfort foods….lots of nice, soft, cheesy pastas…ice cream….thick, creamy soups….. It could have been a lot worse…..the “damage” by the time I was at home….a gain of 2.8 lbs in 3 weeks of eating out.

Another change… more travels planned. My husband’s job would be bringing him home to me for 2 weeks at a time every 2 weeks. For the previous 8 years, I had been traveling to where ever he was working in the province every two weeks. Staying home all the time has been a big change for me – it took some getting used to.

Then Danny moved to town. Another change. Now, I am alone when Jim is at work. No big deal, I have wheels and people to visit if I’m ever lonely….but another change which I have documented here.

Now, we have another change coming…..don’t know yet what it will look like, (see yesterday’s post) but it will be a change, most likely.

I could have lost more weight over the past year and I certainly have not conquered the E word, which would make a huge difference, I am sure. But, all in all, I am actually quite proud of myself….in spite of 3 major road trips, an overseas trip (first time), a month of running around (literally), and 4 major ‘shifts’ in my life, I have managed to make some pretty big changes in my way of thinking about food, the foods I reach for, the way I prepare my food, how I deal with cravings, and most importantly….the way I think of myself.

There is an ad for a weight loss center here in Alberta …. The ‘catch phrase’ is this:

“It’s not what you lose, it’s what you gain”.

How true.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Breaking News

I've missed y'all .....alot.

I haven't been able to read, much less post.

I was going to write a newsy update post, letting you all in on happenings in my life as well as (of course) how the 'weight loss journey' is going.

This morning, however, I was wakened by a phone call from my husband.....his visa that enables him to work in the US was taken away from him as he was on his way back to work.

The Visa he's been on for the last year is completely subject to the whim of whatever boarder guard is on duty at the time he crosses into the States. Today he got someone who (for whatever reason) decided that Jim's description of his duties at work did not fall within the legal description of a "Management Consultant" and, after interrogating him, and fingerprinting him, had Jim escorted back to Canada.

This means that he is unable to return to work, which obviously means he is out of a job in an industry that is in the last stages of death in our province/country.

I am a little overwhelmed this morning, as a result.

If you are interested in a more 'in-depth' report on this subject, you can go to my 'other' blog here .

I do want to catch up with y'all.....I've missed you so much this last week or so......I'm just not quite up to it this morning.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Things I've Learned Over the Past (Almost) Year

Well, I am about 2 weeks away from my one year anniversary on this journey to success.

This will be the first of a few posts I have planned to mark the auspicious occasion.

NEVER in all my ‘weight loss starts’ have I ever stuck to it for this long! It is amazing to me that I have no thought, either, of going back.

When I began, I expected that 'if this works', I would have lost at least 100 pounds by now.

As of this morning, I am down 39.2 pounds. A long way from 100 pounds.

However, I have learned much this last year….

- My expectation was totally unreasonable. Especially considering my age.

- ‘The Plan’ will only work if I make it work. I am responsible, not ‘the diet’.

- I do not have to be “not fat” in order to feel good about myself

- Eating healthy in order to lose weight means that I have to think about food more than I ever have before

- Success on a weight loss journey is totally related to mind set

- I cannot look at this change in my life as having an “end” – this is my new life - I am learning to LIVE it.

- A twenty pound weight loss makes a huge difference, even if no one can see it

- There are many little victories along the way that have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale

- Eating carefully is very satisfying

- I can live without Nacho chips/cheese/salsa

- Underwear that is too big is almost as uncomfortable as underwear that is too small (same with blue jeans)

- A tiny portion of something sweet is very satisfying

-weight loss/gain seems to be random at times, but if I look carefully, there is usually a reason

- Having someone hold me accountable (not policing me) to my choices is a good thing

- Writing about my feelings about weight issues helps to free me of them

- I don’t need to use oil for cooking

- Healthy foods are addicting….yes, addicting

- Water is far more satisfying than diet pop

This list is by no means exhaustive…

One of the most pleasant things I’ve learned is that you can care about people you have never met in person (and probably never will).

I love to read about your lives, your victories, your thoughts, even your struggles. I care about YOU and how you are doing. Even when I cannot spend the time I would like reading your blogs, I think about you and wonder how you are doing today. You have become a source of inspiration, encouragement, and understanding.

I hope I have been able to return the favor once in awhile.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Epiphany

I joined a "challenge" put out by Cara back on July 12. The challenge was to lose 18 lbs in 18 weeks.

The time is almost up and I was asked today what my total loss is since then.

As of this morning, I have lost 10.6 pounds since July 12.

Can't say the fat is just melting off, but 10.6 lbs is nothing to sneeze at.

That being said, I have to admit that when I looked at the time it took to lose that 'almost 11 pounds', I was a little disappointed at first.


I think, because in all my weight loss efforts in years past, it was always implied (at least) that 2 lbs/week was the average that could be expected. I don't know if I was actually TOLD that or if I somehow made it up in my own mind. At any rate, I've always felt that 2 lbs/week should be my goal and my expectation.

So, when I look at 18 weeks, I automatically think I should have lost 36 pounds. Hence, my niggling feeling of disappointment and the thought "That's not big deal."

But then it suddenly hit me......

If I had GAINED 10.6 pounds in that amount of time, it would be a BIG DEAL! I mean, I would be crying in my nacho chips, for sure! I'd be telling myself that I would never be able to lose weight....and all the other lies that have gone with any upward movement of the scale.

Therefore, losing (which is much harder than gaining, as we all know) 10.6 lbs should also be a big deal, no matter how long it took. In fact, it should be a BIGGER deal.

Therefore, I am not downplaying my loss to myself by dwelling on the time frame.

Instead, I am celebrating the Ten point six pounds lost, never to be found again. Woo Hoo!

I am also celebrating the fact that while I was losing that 10.6 pounds, I was enjoying myself....I was enjoying my food..... and I was NOT feeling deprived.....I have been "Learning to Live", as I wrote about in a previous post.

THIS is the ultimate victory.....that I can love myself enough to change some basic deeply ingrained wrong thinking and wrong behaviors and enjoy doing it!

I've been overweight (or thought I was) for almost my whole life....fighting with myself to "just say no" to so many foods......if it takes 2 years or even 5 years to get to a point where I begin to "maintain", so what? What's 2 years more years when you look at it from that vantage?

Especially if I can love myself and my life while I am getting there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Becoming Visible

I want to share something from my journal near the beginning of my new lifestyle/weight loss journey…….

Dec 18/07

I hate looking in the mirror and seeing someone else. It is like that face isn’t mine. Oh, my face is in there, somewhere, all covered with layers of fat – but that isn’t me that you see. It only looks a little like me – an idea of what I would look like if I was visible.

Maybe that is why so many people "in my condition" become so introverted and self-conscious – because we feel like we have disappeared. The real me is lost somewhere under all these layers. Those who become the “jolly fat guy/girl” are those who deal with this loss by trying harder and harder to keep the real person at the forefront. It is all the same, though. We are all suffering a loss of our real selves.

I have heard or read people say that as they are losing weight, they will look in a mirror and be startled, wondering “who is that?” I think I will look in a mirror and be happy to see me again – I plan to have a ‘welcome back party’ for me as soon as I can begin to see me. When my glasses are too big for my face, I will happily buy another, smaller pair. Some days, I am more anxious to lose weight in my face than anywhere else.

What will I look like? I haven’t seen me for at least 20 years. How have I aged? Will I have wrinkles where there are none now? I don’t care, I just want to see me again.

Back to today…..

Like many people, my computer’s screensaver is set to display photos from my files. One of the photos of me that pops up occasionally is from May, 2007. Although I have avoided having my picture taken, and usually hated the results when someone did manage to get the camera out of my hands, I was relatively happy with this photo – at the time.

Lately, however, I have been struck with how fat my face is in this photo and have wondered if it is still as pudgy. When I look in the mirror, I think my face is thinner, but haven't been sure, so I had Jim take a similar photo of me this week.

I still don’t look quite like “me”, but I think I am starting to see myself emerging. At least I'm pretty sure this proves that I don't have quite as many layers of fat hiding my face.

Here is a photo from 1982….I was (obviously) 26 years younger (25 years old). I considered myself to be overweight, but I think this is a pretty good representation of what I really look(ed) like. (That dress was a size 9, actually. I guess I didn't have as much extra weight as I thought.)

Ignoring the face-covering lenses of my glasses, and allowing for the passage of time, what do you think? Can you see “me” in the photo from this week?

I notice that I had a much longer neck when I could wear a size 9. Never really thought about that before.....a longer-looking neck will be nice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching up

Well, as if y'all didn't know it....weight loss sometimes seems totally random.

Yesterday I had a significant gain (see yesterday's post) which I blamed on having a cold since it seems to be a pattern that I gain when I get sick.

Today, I am DOWN three whole pounds! That puts me to below what I had been for the last 5 or 6 days.

Before you get on my case about weighing every day, please don't.

I won't listen to you, anyway.

I do not let the scale dictate my mood for the day or my behavior for the day - except that it does serve to help keep me motivated. And when I say "serve" I mean just that - my scale is a tool that I use daily in my journey to a healthy weight. That is probably why I do not report weigh in's very often.

I would not have commented on either the gain or the loss, except that both seem to be off pattern for me.

I am sorry I have not been able to keep current on everyone's blog this last 10 days or so....I've tried, but ...... I'm sure you will forgive me - I've been spending much time with my family (especially my man) and also on a major de-cluttering project. I hope to be back on a more regular schedule after this weekend.

One of the activities that have kept Jim and I busy this past week was going with Vinjelu and Kathryn to the city to purchase equipment with which to record their own CD's. They used their prize money to set up their own recording studio rather than pay someone else to do the recordings for them. Also, they had their first "gig" last Friday night - at a coffee house in town. They kept the place pretty full and everyone seemed to like the music. I know I enjoyed it. Jim "ran sound" for them so he had fun, too.

We also arranged to meet everyone who could make it at Jim's parents' home to watch our favorite CFL football team (Saskatchewan Roughriders) lose in the "playoffs". The game was a huge disappointment, but most of us gathered to fill Grandma and Grandpa's house with noise, fun, and food. (yes, I managed to make good choices. Of course, we brought most of the food, so the majority of the choices were healthy, low fat, low cal)

Our first winter storm is moving in - snow is on its way. The temp is still above freezing and yesterday was very warm (shirt sleeve weather) but that obviously doesn't mean anything. The wind is blowing hard, though. I hate the wind.

AND I have exciting news!!! I can post it here, because the only people in my family who know about this blog (unless they are lurking) already know the news......

We're getting another baby in the family!!

Daughter Kathryn called yesterday to give us the news - they are very happy.

I hope and pray she is not as sick this time as she was last time.

Of course, she was travelling and working in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia last time - not to mention studying at school for the first trimester.

The only wrinkle with this baby is that it is due mid July - about a week after the big talent search contest they are supposed to be at in Nashville. She says they are still going. In that case, I am ABSOLUTELY travelling with them!

Must run now, and get some more work done on my project - and I think we need to go into town, as well. Hope everyone is having a great week!

I'll be dropping by soon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Official

Remember not too long ago, I asked if there was any corelation to having a cold and gaining weight?

Well, it is official.....yes there is. Here is the proof.....

I know my ticker says that I am at 211 something, but I only stayed there for one day. My weight went back up to 214.2 the next day. Since that was still a 2 pound loss from the last stable weight, I was not upset. I have been at 214.2 or 214.6 for 5 days. I haven't changed my ticker because I'm kind of lazy - besides, I'll be at 211 soon enough that I don't see the point.

Monday night I had a bit of a sore throat.

Yesterday I woke up early and it was obvious I was getting sick (again). I've been dosing myself with garlic and vitamin C since then.

Last night I took a "dry up" pill so I wouldn't be awake all night trying to breathe through a stuffed nose.

This morning when I weighed, the scale reported a 1.8 lb gain! I KNOW I did not eat/do anything in the last 3 days to cause a gain! No Way. In fact, I was more active yesterday than I have been in the last week.

So, the only conclusion I can come to is that having a cold causes a weight gain.

At least, that's my story - and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Changed my Ticker

Woo Hoo! I have reached a new low!.....3 days in a row! How about that!?

As excited as I am about this development, I am also wondering ..... why?

Why, all of a sudden, for the first time ever, has my weight dropped significantly 4 days in a row?

Let's see......

I am (again) working on a 'decluttering' project that has required spurts of hard work - but it is not like I'm getting my heart rate up for 30 minutes or anything 'crazy' like that! However, I have been working harder (physically) than is normal for me. Not stiff muscles hard work, but certainly an increased level of activity.

My eating habits have not changed....

I'm not drinking more water......

The only other thing that has changed is that I have added a "diet" green tea in the last 7 days. The directions say to drink it twice a day - I never remember to have the second cup, but I've been having a cup with my breakfast. (I'm not a hot beverage drinker, normally)

Could the tea actually be making the difference? I only ordered it because:
  • the first 2 weeks worth of tea were free with the ability to cancel any further shipments
  • Drinking green tea was part of Lyn's Habit of the Week challenge

I guess we'll see if I continue to lose or at least maintain this loss once the big project is done with and I'm back to my normal level of activity.

Of course, Hubby is on his way home today.....that means I won't be 'forgetting' to eat supper.

(But then, NOT eating never makes me lose weight.....eating enough of the right foods is what does it for me)

I have reached a stalling point in my project.....There are 2 pieces of furniture left in the room I am clearing out.....both are too large to be moved by one person. Before I can conutinue putting things back into the room, these 2 pieces must be removed. Then, I need a couple bookcases moved in. I reached this point yesterday and if Jim wasn't on his way home last night, I would have called one of my boys or my nephews over to help me. As it is, my sweetie and I will do the grunt work ourselves. When I am finished, I should have an organized, usable office/craft room but that is a story for another post.

For now, I am so happy to be this close to 200 lbs!!! Even if my weight bounces up a bit, once I've "seen" a number on the scale, I get back to it quite quickly.......I might be the turtle in this journey, but I'm getting there!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The problems of having an "empty nest"

Have I mentioned that my 19 year old “baby” has moved out of the house?

Yes, I am officially an “empty nester”.

Except that the nest is far from empty – somehow, they never seem to take everything with them. My daughter has been moved out for 5 years – I just emptied “her” closet and have two boxes of things to take to her because I do not feel right throwing things out that belong to someone else. Then, who knows how many BOXES of things in the basement belong to my kids?

Of course, the most obvious thing my kids have left behind are their dogs. (Except for Michael – his dog lives with him). But Robert, Kathryn, Daniel and even Jim have all left their dogs behind (not that they’ve abandoned them, but they are not in pet-friendly circumstances.) So my nest is certainly not exactly empty.

I am working on getting rid of all extraneous “stuff” in my house, (decluttering) but that is taking time and is another story.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that my husband is not always home. He works in Wyoming (we live in Alberta) so is not home every night for supper. The rotation he works is the best we’ve ever had since he started this career 8 1/2 years ago – he works 2 weeks and has 2 weeks off. That means, with travel time, he is home for about 12 days every month – all at once.

The rest of the month, I live alone. Really alone, now that Danny has moved to town. I don’t mind being alone and seldom get lonely, but I have discovered a pitfall of these living conditions – for me, at least.....

For the last 4 years or so, Daniel has been the only “kid” at home (except for temporary situations when Vinjelu and Kathryn have lived with us). When Daniel would go to camp for a week every summer, I looked at that time of being alone as a holiday. That is, I did not have to think about anyone else but me….didn’t have to answer him, consider him, cook for him, etc. Anyone who has lived with a teenage boy will know that they are sometimes ……shall we say…..difficult to live with. So, the week he was away, I went to bed when I wanted, got up when I wanted, ate when and whatever I wanted, and did whatever my little heart desired. (usually I chose a rather large project.... like reorganizing the office - I somehow always got more work done when he was away).

Well, Danny has been gone for almost a month now. He moved about a week before Jim came home for his 2 weeks off, and now I have been all alone again for 10 days.

You are probably wondering by now “what the heck is her point?!” I’m getting there…..

The day before Jim left I was at 216.6 lbs. In the week and a half following, I have bounced as low as 215.0 to as high as 217.0. Not a big fluctuation, it is true, but I don’t like bouncing around over a one week period. Since I weigh daily, I expect some ups and downs from day to day, but from week to week, there should be a steady downward trend.

I sat back the other day to think about what is going on in my life, how it is affecting my eating habits and lifestyle, and therefore my weight loss efforts. This is what I discovered:

I have been behaving the way I have always acted when Dan was gone for any length of time….as if I’m on a holiday. (Except this is not a holiday) I’ve not been disciplined in when I go to bed or when I get up and I have not been disciplined to remember to think ahead about supper. In fact, I’ve not even been disciplined enough to notice that it is suppertime (or lunch time) until I am so hungry I am shaking. Then, because I need to eat NOW, I do not have a proper meal.

Things could be a lot worse…..I could be eating junk. I’m not. The food itself is healthy, but usually my daily intake ends up being unbalanced.

Anyway, along with this lack of discipline I have been drinking more diet pop than normal (sweetened with Splenda) so then I am not drinking enough water .

Also, I have been feeling hungry all the time. Well, not really hungry, because I know I can’t be hungry right after I’ve eaten….more like “the munchies” – just a desire to eat for the sake of eating. I have not given in to this feeling more than once or twice, but it is annoying to have to deal with it.

None of these things are terrible, but put together, the general lack of discipline has me bouncing between 215 and 217 for over a week.

Wednesday of this week is when I realized what I had been doing. So I watched the clock Wednesday night and was in bed by midnight. I was up by 8 am, had my breakfast, and took out a steak for supper (planning ahead). I watched the time during the day, had my snack midmorning, had lunch at around 1, midafternoon snack was at about 3 (instead of 7 pm) and supper was cooked, eaten, and cleaned up by 7 pm. I had steak and steamed vegetables as well as some baked squash.

Surprise, surprise! I did not have “the munchies” after supper.

And, this morning I was DOWN .8 lbs. Of course, it could be just another bounce. Guess we’ll see tomorrow if having some discipline and order in my life will get me going on a continual (albeit gradual) downward trend.

Today, I’ve had my granddaughters over. They make sure mealtimes (and snack times) happen at the right times. As in…. “Grandma, Mom gives us a snack at 3:00 in the afternoon…’s 10 minutes after 3.” Funny, no one is coming in here and telling me it is 40 minutes past BEDtime! LOL. It is nice to hear little girl voices playing happily….I’ll probably not send them to bed before 9 which still gives me lots of time before MY bedtime.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I've been tagged by Hollie at to list six interesting things about myself.

"Interesting" is such a subjective term. What I think is interesting may be quite blase` to you, and more to the point, I can't think of anything about myself that I would consider to be interesting to y'all. But then, that is what everyone says when they do this exercise and I have yet to read one that I thought was uninteresting, so here goes.....

  1. I do not have TV. That is, I have a television, but no signal of any kind. We cancelled our satelite a few months ago because the TV (as in stations) just never came on. But I love to watch old TV shows on DVD. My favorites are The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, WKRP, and Mary Tyler Moore. Also Barney Miller. These shows make me laugh out loud - even when I am by myself. True comedy. I love to be made to laugh. My other favorite, which is not a comedy, is The Waltons. I feel like John and Olivia and their children are part of my own family.
  2. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus, a child of God but I do not go to church and haven't (regularly) for about 15 years. In my previous church life, my husband and I were: Youth Pastors, Music pastors, Associate pastors, Small Group leaders, and my hubby was in charge of the sound system. All these jobs were volunteer (most were simultaneous). It took about 10 years to feel comfortable with myself without one of these "titles" attached to me because my identity had become so wrapped up in what I "did".
  3. Until 2006, the farthest I had travelled was to BC, Washington and California. Since then, I have driven through MOST of the states, LIVED in Louisiana, and traveled to England. Quite a change. I wish I could do more traveling........(musing)...Maybe if Vinjelu and Kathryn become famous, Jim and I can travel with them - they'll need a nanny after all, and Jim knows how to mix sound..... Of course, they would have to pretty famous to afford us! LOL
  4. The summer before I started grade 7, I read a book a day for the whole summer. My usual spot for reading was in the huge maple tree in our front yard.
  5. My name is legally spelled K A R E N. When I was 15, I saw the spelling K A R Y N and thought it looked much prettier so I started signing my name with the 'y'(besides, there were lots of Karens but I knew of no Karyns). I sign all legal documents, including cheques with an 'e' and all things personal with a 'y'. The funny thing is, I never have to think "Now, make sure you use an 'e' instead of a 'y'"....... But I am the only person who ever uses an 'e' for my name. Even my mother writes my name with a 'y'.
  6. I was not allowed to go to school dances in Junior High. The first school dance I went to was the fall dance in Grade 10. I felt like a 'bad girl' being least, at first I did. I felt like a 'mean girl' when I ditched the dork that had monopolised all my dances in the first set. The next guy to ask me to dance was NOT a dork....he was a hunk. I did not mind at all that he monopolized all the rest of my dances. In fact, he has monopolized the rest of my life - I have been married to him for almost 32 years. And he is still a hunk.

Now, I don't know if any of that is interesting to anyone, but now you know 6 things about me that I don't think I've included anywhere else on this blog.

Now, it is my turn to tag.........Lyn, Crystal, Lisa, Skye (I don't think I've seen this tag on your posts yet)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bustin' My Buttons

Literally and Figuratively.

WARNING: This post has little to do with weight losses or gains. I could be writing about the 2 lb gain I am showing in the last couple days, but that is not why I’m bustin’ my buttons.

Let me fill you in…..

Daughter Kathryn and SIL Vinjelu heard last October about an annual Canada-wide “Talent Search” by the Gospel Music Association Canada (hereafter referred to as GMAC) and sponsored by the Alberta Christian FM radio stations (henceforth referred to as SHINE FM).

It has been Vinjelu’s dream to be able to share his music by being able to perform it to audiences and have it recorded. I mean, this boy has been almost obsessed with this dream – not to the exclusion of reality or even other dreams, but (and this seems incredible to me) he writes a new song every day. This is true – I know, because he and Kath have lived with me on two (or is it 3?) different occasions. Vinjelu’s lyrics are very moving….I don’t think I’ve heard or read one song that I wasn’t touched or impressed in some way by the words.

But I digress…….

When they heard of the GMAC concert, they began to work toward being able to enter for 2008. Since at the time, Vinjelu was not allowed to work in Canada (he did not get a work visa until Jan 2008) and Kathryn was pregnant and suffering with morning sickness, their income was very small. Too small to think of saving money toward the entry fee and recording demos of the songs they would enter. But, being the resourceful couple that they are, they began to collect bottles, cans, and other recyclable containers. I do not know how much money they actually raised in this manner, but it certainly helped. Once Vinj could begin to earn a wage, they began to put cash toward their project. It was hard work and a sacrifice, but they not only saved the entry fee ($300) but also managed to have their 2 entry songs professionally recorded.

The contest took place Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Vinjelu entered his songs in two categories…..Songwriting and Performances. They were scheduled to perform in front of the judges on Thursday at noon. We would find out that there were auditions scheduled for every 15 minutes from 9 am until 4:30 pm both days (with a couple 20 minute breaks and a one hour lunch break each day).

Actually, they had been so focused on just getting entered, choosing the songs, and recording them, that they had not paid much attention to the format of the contest or even the prizes. They went into it with the primary goal of receiving constructive criticism from professionals, of their performance and songwriting.

I offered to go along to look after Seth during their performance. Kind of a long drive (3 hours to SW Calgary) in order to babysit for 10 minutes or less, but I wanted to show in a tangible way that I believe in their dream.

I left before the sun was up and arrived at the venue at about 10:45 am. I needed a restroom in a bad way so hurriedly gathered up my water bottles, book, phone…..into a book bag and ran into the building. (I gave you this seemingly unimportant information because it pertains to a later detail of my day)

I’ll skip over the details between my arrival and just before their audition except to set the stage a little……

The auditions were held in a smallish upstairs room with good acoustics, an impressive sound system, a small stage complete with lighting, monitors, a keyboard, stools, and a drum set. In front of the stage was a table at which 2 of the 5 judges were sitting. The other 3 ranged to their left, in overstuffed leather chairs. Other contestants were lounging on the matching couch as well as being lined up against the back wall or perched on folding chairs behind the front row of furniture. Between the doorway and the stairwell, there was a brightly lit hallway about 12 feet long. Since the room was small, any noises Seth made were immediately noticeable so we were utilizing the chairs just inside the door or the hallway itself.

So….the audition.

Despite the activity and noise around him, Seth had been peacefully asleep on a blanket on the hallway floor for about 20 minutes before Vinj and Kath were called to the stage. All was going according to Grandma’s plan – put baby to sleep so that I could video the performance. I turned on the video feature of my camera seconds before their background track began. As soon as Kathryn started to sing, however, Seth began to cry very loudly. I ran into the hall, wanting to stop his distraction as quickly as possible.

This is where I literally busted my buttons……as I bent down to pick him up, the middle button on my new shirt popped off….That is, the button right at the waist of a shirt that has a band around the waist before it drops below that to cover the hips. There is also a “tie” at the back which I had tied to be just a little snug in order to define my newly emerging waistline just a bit. That is probably why the button popped. (Later, after being constantly worried about whether or not the buttonless spot was gaping and showing my skin, I brought the tie around from the back and tied it across the trouble spot. It looked kind of retarded (like I didn’t know which way to put the ties) but at least I didn’t have to worry about exposing a part of my stomach.

Back on track….

I scooped up the baby and the button and then noticed that the music had stopped. I thought they’d been interrupted by the judges until the ‘rude person who brought a baby to an audition’ got things under control, because I heard Kathryn say something about “that’s our baby”. I found out later that Vinj had actually called the stop because the wrong track had been put on – it was not just background vocals. So, I stood behind and to the right of the judges, a 20 pound baby in one arm and a 2 pound camera held up in my other hand. Seth was perfectly quiet as he listened to his parents perform.

The second start went perfectly! They did SO well. I was excited for them – not only for doing so well, but because they were actually performing for professionals who were going to give them feedback – and in front of other impressively talented artists with the same hopes and dreams.

The spectator’s response was to cheer and clap. Get that – not just politely clap, as the majority of auditions earned – they cheered and clapped. The judges’ responses were all complimentary – so much so, that Kath offered the information that they had another song prepared. They were allowed to perform again. Only one other act that we had seen all morning (or into the afternoon) was asked to sing a second song – and she was very professional, with several years’ experience.

The response from the spectators and the judges was even more enthusiastic after the second song! I was so pleased for them. Other artists converged on Vinj and Kath when it was announced that there would be a one hour break in auditions so the judges could have lunch. Before they left the room, they had 2 unofficial invitations to come perform for youth groups.

*Maybe I should mention here that Vinj’s specialty is rap music – not something that is easy to take to your traditional adult church crowd.*

We had lunch in the dining room …it was a buffet including several different salads and fresh veggies (I took only the lettuce salad and fresh veggies from this offering), potatoes (which I skipped), carrots and a veggie stir fry (both of which I took) and roasted chicken pieces. It was good. I did not even walk past the dessert table.

I will now skip to 5:00 pm when the officials posted the lists of finalists. There were 6 finalists chosen in the “Artist” category and 8 finalists chosen in the “song” category. We were disappointed, of course, that their names were not on the list for Artist finalists, but that disappointment was quickly tempered with excitement at seeing Vinjelu’s name listed in the Song category for his song entitled “Weeping”. That meant that in spite of not making the artist finalists, they would still be able to perform in the finals at 7:30 pm. This was to be an open “mini concert” held in the sanctuary of the large church we had been at all day. The sound would be louder, there would be spotlights, and the audience would be larger. They were thrilled with the opportunity.

Supper was again served ….this time, though, it was $25 a plate. Vinj and Kath could not afford to spend $50 for supper! $25 seemed pretty steep to me, as well, so we braved the unfamiliar neighborhood in the big city at the tail end of rush hour. We had 1 hour to find a place to eat and get back for the sound checks and the pre-concert meeting.

We went to the food court at the mall nearby. I found a kiosk that offered Louisiana inspired food….served by Asians with very broken English! LOL At least they were easier to understand than the Asians I encountered in Louisiana….think Asian broken English mixed with Louisianan accent…..I had a hard enough time with the Louisianan accent(s) as it was, sometimes. (Now, don’t all you Southerners think badly of me….I love the southern accent, but my northern ears don’t always catch every word)

Again, I digress, sorry……

I chose this Asian staffed Louisiana food kiosk because they offered mashed potatoes, which we needed in order to feed Seth quickly and easily. Again, I’ll validate this weight loss blog by telling you I ordered Burbon Chicken (boneless, skinless..but I have no idea what ingredients were in the marinade it obviously soaked in before being cooked), carrots which were delicious and tasted fresh and delightfully without any buttery sauce, and green beans that were sinfully delectable. I am sure (knowing Louisiana cooking tendencies) that they were cooked in bacon grease or Crisco to make them taste so wonderful. Good thing I did not visit the dessert table at lunch.

Fast forward to the concert……


Some very talented singers, musicians, and songwriters shared the stage with Vinjelu and Kathryn. There was no immediate feedback from the judges this time – and a gentleman “ in the industry” was there from Nashville to MC the event. Again, I was so proud of my kids….they showcased Vinjelu’s song beautifully (they would not be judged on their performance, though…just on the technical aspects of the song itself). Still, it was no doubt gratifying and exciting to them to hear the hoots and whistles that erupted when their music ended. I know I was plenty proud.

A little interjection here….just before the contest started, one of the judges found Kathryn and told her that their performance ranked in the top 10 of all auditions….but there were only 6 finalist spots available. WOW!

There was a 15 – 20 minute wait after all artists had performed while the judges left the room to tabulate their scoresheets and make their decisions. We were entertained by one of the professional musicians that had been offering mentoring, advise, and information at the many seminars that had been offered to the contestants over the past 2 days.

The results were handed to the MC who opened the first envelope…..

”The winning song is.......

“WEEPING by Vinjelu Muyaba”.

The crowd actually erupted! My kids were obviously one of the favorites of the other artists.

NOW I was BUSTIN’ ALL MY BUTTONS!!!!! (figuratively speaking, of course) (just wanted to be clear on that point)

I could hardly see through my tears to try to get some photos between the heads of those in front of me. Below, you see Vinj, with the look of shock on his face, being presented to the audience by the MC.

After receiving his prize and hugging his wife, he came back and hugged me before we politely stuffed our excitement in order to “listen” to the awarding of the Artists category.


I am so pleased. As I said, Vinj is incredibly talented with words, but he is also one who is humble enough to be truly shocked at the recognition – shocked and grateful. The rest of us are not surprised, really, but Vinj was sincerely taken back. We are so pleased that his dream is moving forward one big step. (a GIANT step, actually)

Oh, what did they win?

$2000 cash, which is enough to have an entire CD made at a recording studio and a Roland Keyboard (retail value about $9500.00!!!...this will be sold to buy multiple instruments or to finance a tour, or to record another CD at a later date, or.....who knows? But it will be re-invested in their music)

The Artist winner was awarded cash and a similar gift as well as major performance opportunities and travel arrangements to another talent search contest in which they were automatically entered in the semi finals.

We were not sure, as of when I left them, if the songwriter was to receive any such opportunities…..guess I’ll find out when they finally find the time to phone me and catch me up on the details of their evening after I left.

One thing I know for sure, their song is to be played on the SHINE FM stations in Edmonton and Calgary.

My kids are going to be ON THE RADIO!!! (They are called “Another Way” BTW, if you are interested)

Since it was after 10 pm by this time, I pried myself away from all the excitement to begin my 3 hour journey home. I can only imagine how euphoric Vinjelu and Kathryn felt when I think of how I practically floated out into the cool night air toward my little car.

(Remember back near the beginning of this long post, I told you about my arrival at the venue and how I was in a hurry to get in and find a toilet? Well, here's where it comes into play....)

My excitement actually waned only a little as I approached my car and saw the dim glow of lights that had been on for the last 12 hours. The first gentleman I approached for a boost gladly complied, just as my hubby called. In between all the exciting details about Vinjelu’s win that I couldn’t stop talking about, Jim informed me that the vehicle being hooked up to my car likely would not have enough power to start my diesel motor – I would need a truck.

He was right.

There were only 2 trucks in the entire ½ empty parking lot. (What kind of cowboy town is this anyway? Only 2 trucks?!!!) I hurried back into the church, looking for likely owners of a truck. The first group of fellas I approached said no, they didn’t own a truck, but one of them offered booster cables. I told him I’d be back if the truck owner did not have any of his own. I found the owner of the biggest truck in the very next group of people I approached and my car was running in no time at all, thanks to Buck, the owner of the truck.

(No kidding...that was his name)

Since my car is a manual transmission, I was a little paranoid about making sure I didn’t stall it before it had a chance to charge, but once I was freewheeling on the highway, I only had to focus on trying to wipe the grin off my face and avoid the buttons that were still poppin’ all over the place.

I’m still grinning.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

4th of the 4th

This is a quick and cute little "tag" that I saw on Seashore's blog (

Go to the 4th folder in the pictures file on your computer....choose the 4th photo in that folder.

This is what I found in that spot:

It is actually a photo from my daughter's facebook album, taken this month.

Son (in law) Vinjelu with his son Seth....out for a walk.

If you want to do this, leave a comment here that you are doing it so I can go look at your 4th of the 4th.

Have a good day!

PS. My weight stayed the same after my unplanned indulgences yesterday. whew! Of course, it could show up tomorrow or the next day, yet.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I am going to expect a significant gain tomorrow morning (as in at least 1 pound).

Jim invited ourselves and everyone else to Robert and Lana's to watch the hockey game - Alberta rivalry....Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames. This idea was met with enthusiasm by everyone. Only Michael could not be there as he had to work.

We volunteered to bring some snacks...... A few months ago, Jim and I made a pact with each other to not provide snacks or "treats" to our children/grandchildren that are not healthy. With this in mind, Jim decided to get some crackers and cheese and sausage when we got to town.

I decided to make some cookies - but I wanted to make low fat so Lana could eat at least one. Every recipie for low fat cookies I could find called for applesauce. I had no applesauce and the store is 1/2 hr away so I chose to take my usual chocolate chip cookie recipie and tweak it to make it low fat, low cal, and healthy.

I used diet margarine instead of regular margarine.
I used Splenda instead of sugar.
I used Egg Beaters instead of eggs.
I used Whole Wheat flour instead of white flour.
I used Chocolate Chips - no substitues. BUT I measured them and used only 1 cup instead of just pouring them in.

Of course, I had to taste the batter.

It was not good.

I added 1/4 C brown sugar and 2 Tbs skim milk.

Better, but still not very good.

I added a banana.

Still didn't taste very much like cookies.

By this time, I had probably eaten the equivalent of 3 cookies.

I baked the dough. They came out to be pretty "cakey" and did not taste bad, as long as you didn't expect them to taste like cookies. I only had a bite, honest! I let Jim do the taste test.

When I was looking for applesauce, I came across a box of 94% fat free popcorn in large bags. I brought several boxes of this popcorn (in small bags) home with me when we moved back from Louisiana in the spring. We cannot get 94% fat free here. (at least, I haven't found any) The big bags are a whole 4 or even 6 carbs for me so I thought I would take this box to Lana so she could have an almost fat free treat.

After a quick supper (Meatloaf made with bison meat, carrots from our garden, and potatoes from our garden) we loaded up the "cakeys", the popcorn, and my water bottle and headed into town.

Our first stop was the grocery store where we bought some rice crackers, cheese, and sausage (I know, rather high in fat, but healthier than chips). I also picked up a box of Breyer's 98% fat free ice cream cups for Lana.

Kathryn brought whole wheat wraps which she spread with tuna and cream cheese then cut into bite size pieces.

To my surprise, the cookies were a hit! Danny said they were a cross between a cookie and a muffin. Everyone liked them alot. I still did not have one, and although I had to consciously NOT have a piece of sausage and cheese, it was not hard to resist.

My problem came after I finished my water - the second period of the game was over, and I was beginning to feel hungry. I had 2 of Kathryn's wraps (so good). Then Lana had made herself one of the bags of popcorn but could only eat 1/2. (She has the eating habits of the thin person she is.) She offered me the other half and I took it. That is 2 starches....on top of the approximately 3 cookies I had already "tasted" and whatever the wraps would have counted. THEN I remembered the "ice cream" I bought for Lana. Of course, when I showed them to her, she wanted one right away.

So did I.

2 more starches. I am only supposed to have 4 starches all day. I had already had 2 with my meals before I even left the house!

I feel overfull and more than a little disappointed with myself. I know it wasn't a whole lot, but I just felt like I was letting myself down. Usually, if I indulge, it is with forethought and planning. None of this was planned.

On a positive note, we had a fun family night and considering that it was planned at the last minute, we were very thankful that everyone (but Mike) could be there. Even Victoria came down from the city with Kaden. She brought her Flames (boo, hiss) jersey - mostly to torment Robert, I think. To make up for it, Kaden wore his Oilers bib.

Here are the jerseys on display tonight:

L to R: Kaden, Andrew, Victoria, Robert, Emma

On an even more positive note......The Oilers won!!!!! YAY! (Sorry, Lisa). This broke a fairly long-running "curse"..... for the last couple years, every time Jim and Robert have had the opportunity to watch an Oilers vs Flames game together, the Oilers lose. After tonight, no more.

I don't really know if it was a good game or not....except for the cheering...because I was having fun watching the babies play. Kaden started crawling today for the first time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Family Day

This is the first chance I've had to post about our Thanksgiving Day. I tried last night, but I
guess there were just too many people on our satelite internet across the country....watching the election results. That is what my man was doing - on his computer (we don't have TV). Since we are in the country, high speed internet is not available to us. There are some companies with wireless, but we are not in line with any of their transmitters. So, we are stuck with satelite or dialup. Satelite is not very fast, but it is like greased lightening compared to dial up. At any rate, we have to share bandwidth with folks all across the country so at high traffic times I just walk away.
Our Thanksgiving day started with daughter Kath, SIL Vinj, grandson Seth, and their friend from Toronto, Trish, arriving just as we were getting up. Soon, Son Daniel was up and about (he had arrived the night before) and then his friend (MR), who was home from college for the weekend walked in. Within an hour, I was taking orders for breakfast from 6 people. MR can not eat eggs (something to do with having worked in chicken barns all his life) so I mixed up a batch of waffles for him. Everyone else had poached eggs and toast and yogurt. Vinj had already gone to bed since he worked all night, drove 1/2 hr to pick up his family, then drove another 1/2 hr to get to our house.
My breakfast was on plan - one poached egg, one piece of toast, fat free, sugar free yogurt.
Jim and I worked for the next hour or so, cleaning up, making stuffing and getting the bird in the oven, while Dan and MR played guitars in the living room and the girls disappeared into the bathroom to curl hair and apply makeup.
That whirlwind had just settled when the next group arrived....Son Rob, DIL Lana, granddaughters Emma, Elizabeth and Sophia. By then, it was noon and of course, they were hungry.....I was informed that the girls had been offered lunch but had said they wanted to wait because "Grandma always has macaroni and cheese". LOL. It is true. Although I never eat the stuff, I always have some "Kraft Dinner" on hand for the girls. So, Mommy Lana made the girls some lunch and raided my fridge to find something for herself. She commented (more than once during the day) that "it is so nice to come here and know that I will be able to find things that I can eat because you always have healthy, low fat food in the house" (Lana is pregnant and has a gallstone so needs to eat fat free).
Son Andrew arrived, without his wife.....their puppy (1 yr old) Thor had broken his leg the day before and Keltie did not think they should bring him out. A couple hours later, Keltie called to say that Thor had to stay in his pen anyway because he kept wanting to chase his tail, etc. so she suggested they could bring him in his pen. Andrew went to get her later in the afternoon.
Back to this time, the kids had set up a table in the living room and were playing Monopoly.
starting at left: Robert, Daniel, Andrew, MR, Trish, Emma
Jim, Rob, and Andrew were all hungry so I made them each a couple grilled cheese sandwiches (fat free cheese slices on whole grain bread)
I stayed on plan by having a bowl of taco soup.
Here is 8 year old Emma. She is old enough to play games with the uncles and aunts. She loves to be a part of the adult activities.
As soon as they were finished with their lunches, Elizabeth (7) and Sophie (5) went out to play. Soon they were back in asking for a basket or something so they could pick apples. (crabapples) They were so excited about this - they were going to keep picking all day and take the apples home so Mommy could make pies or juice. This is what they came up with before they tired of it. At least there is plenty left for the birds over the winter. :)
Andrew came back with Keltie and poor Thor (a purebred Staffie). Everyone was properly sympathetic as Thor was put into his pen. Since our house is pretty small, he was right beside the action for the whole day/evening.
the break is just below his "ankle"
Keltie did much of her visiting sitting right beside Thor
The Monopoly game over, the game was changed to "Skipbo". The little girls joined in this game, and by this time MR had left and our brother in law Ken and nephew Scott had arrived. Jim's sister had the flu so stayed away. Scott and Dan went outside to play some catch......
Scott - still with his ipod sticking in his ear
Dan, making a pitch back. This is not just "playing catch"....this is "see who can make the other yelp in pain when the ball hits his glove"
While the boys are playing catch, Keltie is sitting with her dog, Vinj is still sleeping, and the rest are playing Skipbo, Lana is quietly "nesting" as she calls it......she is learning to knit - her current project, a blanket in both pink and blue since they don't know yet what sex the baby is.
About the time we begin to peel potatoes and carrots (I had pre-cooked the sweet potatoes and the beets the night before), Son Michael, DIL Victoria and grandson Kaden arrive.
I can always count on my man being my main helper at any family gathering. He washed dishes constantly (by hand) so that there was no mounting pile taking up space on the cupboards as well as peeled both potatoes and carrots.
"Uncle Mike" with Emma and Sophia
Kaden - 9 months old, showing off his 6 teeth
Robert....he's been an avid Oilers fan (NHL hockey) since he was about 7 years old. This year, he was chosen (he had to write an essay) to be part of an exclusive hockey pool hosted by the Oilers themselves. It is quite an honor. As part of the perks of being in this pool, he was given an authenic jersey with his last name on the back. He is quite proud of it, as you can see.
For some reason, at one point in the afternoon, the kitchen became "the place to be". Here is an idea of how small it is - and there are at least 8 people in there!
By mid afternoon, Vinj woke up and joined us. Here is a photo of he and Kathryn together:
We had one more guest arrive late in the day - Scott's girlfriend, JR (sister of Dan's friend MR). Scott and his dad picked her up when they left to get our extra table from their house - we had lent it to them last July.
Did I mention my kitchen is tiny? Counter space is limited to begin with and made even smaller by the fact that cupboard space is even more limited - meaning the counters are also storage for things that don't fit into cupboards. Somehow, we manage to feed up to 30 people out of that kitchen without injury to one another. LOL It has become a dance of sorts. It always amazes me that so many people can work together transferring food from pots to bowls to the tables without running into one another or dropping a bowl of potatoes. The girls help with setting the table and putting the food on the table, the boys find chairs for everyone, Lana usually makes the gravy, one of the boys carves the turkey (all have been taught to do a beautiful job of it by their Dad), I direct everything with Jim being my right hand man......
Lana brought her own fat free gravy and fat free stuffing (she had served turkey dinner to her parents the day before). I kept some sweet potatoes out and mashed them without margarine or marshmellows (just a pinch of brown sugar and some cinnamon) and I put the beets in the oven without the customary butter bath. I did not measure or weigh my food, but otherwise, I stayed on plan.
For dessert, I had made pumpkin pies. I don't normally make pies - in fact, when Dan saw me putting them in the oven he just about fainted. "You made pies, Mom!? You don't make pies!? I didn't know you could make a pie!"
I made the pie with fat free evaporated milk and eggbeaters so Lana could have some. I called her and told her to bring some kind of fat free topping for herself though, because I was serving real whipped cream.
I had a piece of pie and a big spoon of whipped cream. I did not feel bad about it at all.
Clean up is done by the boys. This has become a new tradition. At first, I thought "Wow, my boys are growing up...they are more than happy to help" Then I realized why they were so willing........
Towel Snapping Wars.
They had a huge testosterone-driven war at Christmas last year and apparently, they were just waiting to have a rematch.
Scott and Michael
I have always hated towel snapping and when they were young, I forbade it...."Someone will get their eye taken out" and all that. However, now that they are adults, I really have no control over it. I think Michael came out with the most wounds this time. Vinj calmly loaded the dishwasher in the midst of the snapping. I don't know what the brothers and cousin did, because Jim washed the plates and had already washed all the pots and pans. They did assure me that they worked, though.
The evening was rounded out with Poker. Those that don't play, entertained themselves with babies and little girls - and of course, music....someone is always playing a guitar, the piano, or violin (Dan only) at a family gathering.

Victoria and Kaden, Kathryn and Seth

Seth loves when anyone plays a guitar.

People started leaving in the approximate order they arrived. Jim and I walked each group out to their car - the evening was surprisingly warm for October. Michael and Victoria stayed until quite late....we don't get to visit with them as often as the others since they don't live as close by.

So, it was a full day, a full house, and I mostly stayed on plan. (inlcuding the 3 glasses of wine) The next day I was actually DOWN from the weight I was on Sunday. However, to be honest, I think that spike was an anomoly so I will have to be honest and say that I actually gained .4 pounds - that is still the status today.