Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ten thoughts on two weeks in

Last spring, my husband did P90X and had really good results. He wanted to do it again this fall and encouraged me to do it, too. I was very apprehensive having tried some of the workouts and been totally intimidated, but decided to try it, one day at a time (much like my approach to my Christian walk: if I look at where I am and where I want to be or expect myself to be (whether it's perfectly holy or super-sonic-X-fit), it's beyond overwhelming and discouraging [not to mention unattainable since it's not until heaven that I'll be perfect in Christ], but if I walk faithfully today and not worry about tomorrow, God in His graciousness shows me He is sufficient).

Or as Tony says, "Just push play."

So, two weeks in, here are 10 thoughts on my P90X experience (so far):

1. The people in the yoga session are very serious.

2. The music in the legs/back session is much louder in proportion to the audio cues.

3. I'm a little stronger than I thought I was.

4. My wrists are weaker than I thought (all those vinyasas were getting to me).

5. It really does feel good to finish a workout.

6. It's OK to skip segments that I really can't do (like jab/cross/hook/uppercut: I can't get the rhythm/timing and just look like a deranged flailing noodle-armed scarecrow blowing in the wind).

7. I think a little more about what I'm eating because I don't want to waste all that effort I just expended.

8. two words: recovery drink.

9. It's hard to follow Tony's audio cues with a constant background of 4-yr-old chatter.

10. I need to wear a tighter shirt for yoga; the neckline was practically smothering me during every downward dog.

If I wasn't so self-consciously modest, I might take and post a "day 1" picture, but I can't have that kind of thing out there. You'll have to take my word for it if it's effective or not.

Head over to ohamanda for more top-10 lists.

Top Ten {Tuesday}

Monday, September 27, 2010


Some friends and I get together on Friday mornings, now that school has started, and scrap. This past Friday, I decided I could carry a lot less stuff if I made cards. Plus, October is a huge birthday & anniversary month for our extended families (May is another big month for us) and I could sort of assembly-line make the cards and be done with it.

Now I just have to keep track of them until it's time to send them (unlike the Father's Day cards, which I still haven't found . . . I spent a lot of time choosing them and had a "Papa" one for my father-in law and a "Pop-pop" one for my father, plus the ones for Craig . . . they still haven't turned up). I thought about just mailing them all out now; some would be really early but at least they'd be there, right?

All of the paper used is Close to my Heart.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Best. Song. Ever.

I think Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" is the best song ever. I'm not talking about the best worship song ("Shout to the Lord"), the best breakup song ("Little Goodbyes") or the best lullaby ("God is all Around Us"). Not the most fun in a long time ("Hey Soul Sister"), the song that takes me back to the start of our love story (tie, "Cowboy Take Me Away" and "I Could Not Ask for More"), my favorite song to sing in church ("Speak O Lord") or best hymn ("Praise My Soul the King of Heaven").

It's simply the best.song.ever.

Its opening notes roll out of the car speakers, a happy stumble in my station flipping.

It's late in the evening;
she's wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up
brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, "Do I look all right?"
And I say, "Yes, you look wonderful tonight."

Such a simple situation, but who can't relate? It has what makes good poetry good poetry: a specific situation that's universal. It's not so specific we can't see ourselves in it, like a lot of pop music. It gives details to set the stage but let you be the woman wondering what to wear or the man telling her she looks wonderful.

We go to a party
everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady
walking around with me.
And then she asks me, "Do you feel all right?"
And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight."

Which of us hasn't wanted to be the lady everyone's turning to see? Or the guy walking in with her?

I feel wonderful because
I see the love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize
how much I love you.

He doesn't just say a bunch of cheesy, trite you're so hot and you turn me on. He shows us the couple in their natural habitat, simply being in love. Love isn't all hyped-up romance or being super-attractive or the emotional high of the wedding day; those are great moments but we don't stay there. In the trenches of real life, putting out a little effort to look good and then to be told you look wonderful is sweetness. Or to know the other one isn't feeling well even before they're willing to admit it; simple compassion that means she's not totally self-absorbed and feeding her ego on the looks of the party-goers.

It's time to go home now and I've got an aching head.
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight."
I love how he's not too proud to let her drive, to accept her helping him to bed. And her gestures are so profoundly what he needs . . . his head is aching.
I like how the last lines of the verses change: You look wonderful, I feel wonderful, you were wonderful. That's songwriting, not some of the uber-lame songs out there that repeat the same 5 lines over and over and over and etc.
I asked Craig what makes "Wonderful Tonight" a good song and he said, "Its simplicity. It's straightforward with no innuendos."
Yes. Yes, babe, that's it. In far fewer words than I used.
What's your best song ever?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Healthy Morning Muffins

My sister-in-law posted this recipe awhile ago. I thought, with school starting, it might be good for Sam to eat more for breakfast than half a bowl of cold cereal and I thought I'd try these.

I made a few changes which I will detail below.

Makes 12

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup skim milk
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots, and banana and stir until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

From Everyday Food, January 2010
I didn't have any bananas (for all the times this summer I tossed overripe bananas because I was not in the mood to make banana bread, I didn't have any for this recipe) so I used applesauce.
I had 2 really big carrots instead of 4 medium and I shredded them first and then chopped them up really fine in the food processor.
I used canola oil instead of olive and I used chocolate chips instead of raisins.

I sprinkled the tops with some of this

which was offered in May; they have other flavors available.

Meanwhile, my husband was doing this:

Like his presentation? I'm not into really spicy things, but these are very good.

When the muffins came out, I arranged them for this picture.

These came out OK. I have a thing about nutmeg (I don't add it to my cream sauces, for instance) so I didn't like the prevalent nutmeg flavor. If I made them again, I'd use cinnamon.

Sam like them a lot. That makes it worth the effort to try again.

Thanks, Andrea.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lunch Redux

If possible, Kate is pickier about lunch than Sam. One day last week, she heard that her friend ate spaghetti and meatballs (oh I'm sorry, I mean meatbops) and since then she's been obsessed. So every day she's had it. I'm sure it's just a matter or time before we reach full saturation levels and she refuses to eat it anymore.

Plus there's the whole pre-packaged, processed, sodium-heavy aspect that makes me a little nervous . . . but for right now, I'm reveling an easy (and eaten!) lunch for Kate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pastrami Sandwich

"Don't get a pastrami sandwich," he says.

Immediately I start thinking about how I can get a pastrami sandwich.

I can't remember ever eating pastrami. But he told me not to have it and I wanted to stop anyway.

Kind of like in Romans. I had to laugh at myself for wanting to race out and eat a sandwich just for being told not to. At BJ I tried to walk on the grass every day just because they told me not to. I didn't know that grace was the opposite of that particular strain of fundamental legalism, not rebellion.

Following the law wasn't going to get me to God. I stepped on the grass regularly in an immature attempt to "stick it to them;" they might be controlling everything in my life, but I was getting them back by walking on the grass. When I began to try to live up to the externally observable law-keeping of being a BoJo, I realized I was never going to be good enough. Striving to keep the law made me feel inadequate, weak, and guilty.

But grace . . . grace says the price is paid. Grace says you are hopelessly inadequate, futilely weak, and indefensibly guilty, but God loves you anyway. So don't walk on the grass not because not walking on the grass is going to make you any holier, but because sin doesn't have dominion over you. You live under grace. You don't have to walk on the grass to prove anything.

And as for Tony . . . does he have to mention food so much in the workouts?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall

I never got around to posting the things I do like about winter. And summer's pretty self-explanatory. But there's something about the change of seasons, any season to the next season, that offers a fresh start, hope, a change of scenery, a wardrobe change (with new acquisitions).

So here's ten things I'm looking forward to with the end of summer:

1. Getting my house back in order. Forget spring cleaning, I do fall cleaning. I don't need to spring clean because I'm here all winter and the house is clean and in order. I read spring cleaning articles and think I do that once a week. But during the summer, we're back and forth to Maine, and even if we're home, we're not really in the house, and then school starts and there's paper everywhere. Plus fall and then Christmas are such good decorating holidays that I like to look at spare surfaces for a little before going all Better Homes and Gardens on the place.

2. Having a little free time. Sam is in school all day and Kate three mornings, so that gives me about 7.5 hours a week to sit and stare at the wall should I wish. We've only had half a week so far with this schedule but I have grand plans: volunteering on Mondays; shopping, cleaning, organizing, coffee with friends, etc. (maybe I'll start flying again); and scrapping with friends on Fridays. Oh, a haircut too. Soon.

3. Apple picking.

4. Corn Mazes.

5. Pumpkin Pie.

6. Feeling like eating soups and stews again.

7. Baking in general . . . I don't do much in the summer because it's so hot and there's so much else going on and ice cream is so good.

8. People wearing more clothes. It gets gross seeing toes and shoulders and thighs and muffin tops . . . it's just better in the winter because typically the cold requires more covering to keep warm.

9. Harry Potter.

10. Getting back into an exercise routine. Stop laughing.

More lists at ohamanda. So take a break from alchemy and check out a few.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I find lunchtime aggravating. I'm not sure why; maybe because I feel like we just got the kitchen clean and now we're getting things out again. Maybe it's because of the short-order cook system we've set up, where different things can be requested. And maybe it's because it all feels like such a huge waste of time because we'll just be eating again in two hours.

Since Sam is now going to school for a full day, he eats lunch at school. This means either he takes lunch or buys lunch.

Packing a lunch raises my anxiety level just by being a phrase. If a friend says let's meet at the park and bring our lunches with us, I think great idea and start thinking if there's a restaurant nearby that I can convince her to go to. Or I hyperventilate because my children to do not eat sandwiches and what in the world else will I pack to take with us. I can't very well make a frozen waffle warm, buttery, and covered in syrup at the park now, can I?

Seriously, my heart is pounding just thinking about the mental stress of taking lunch somewhere.

The options of what to pack for Sam are limited. For awhile, PB&J was in, then peanut butter was out because it "stuck to his teeth." Fortuantely, he has agreed to eat it lately if I spread the peanut butter very thin. He also likes banana cut up in the sandwich - a nod to nutrition, I call it. And right before school started Craig made him an egg salad sanwich and he liked it, so that's an option.

Buying a lunch is $2.25. So really, which is cheaper, packing or buying? Am I really going to break it down to a loaf of bread is (this much), I use 2 slices a day; 1 tsp of peanut butter is $0.04, 2 oreos is what? who pays attention to this stuff? I'm already freaking out about packing the thing. Plus, Friday is pizza day. With fruit and vegetable (their own nod to nutrition?). And Wednesdays are breakfast-for-lunch days . . . so that looks like two days of not packing.


School's been in for 6 days and I've managed to keep a grip on my sanity for most of it. According to Sam he only has time to eat 4 things AND they aren't allowed to talk while eating, the second part sounds a little boot-campish. My first thought is, how dare they tell my child when he can talk or can't talk, it's lunch time; but my 10 months experience having a 6-year-old tells me he should be eating and not talking and of course a bunch of first graders would yap away as long as anyone let them and when told to go to the next thing would weep because they hadn't had time to eat. Because of the talking.

Sometimes we have "sampler plates" for lunch, which consist of some kind of protien (lunchmeat, chicken nuggets), dairy (typically cheese or yogurt), fruit or veggie, and a grain (say, crackers or a bagel). Then I was reading about bento boxes and it mentioned this website which I keep planning to check out because it seems to make this "sampler plate" idea packable and attractive, but everytime I get on the computer, I have to check facebook and then play alchemy.

Which leads to dinner not being prepped in time, which in turn leads to ordering pizza for dinner.

It's a two-fer: they eat what's for dinner and I have leftover pizza for lunch the next day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I've always done pretty elaborate parties for Sam but for some reason, not really for Kate. So this year I was determined to do a theme party for her.

I looked around online and noticed a recurring design theme: circle cupcake picks and dessert tables. So I put a little effort into thinking of a theme . . . we went through tea party party to doggy party and she finally settled on . . . a hula party.

One idea I read online for a hula party was to play "pass the coconut." I thought, easy enough, but possibly lame. But the kids loved it. They were very excited and into it.

Here's the table. I made the "happy birthday banner," the cupcake wraps, and the "aloha" picks.

And yes. The Blackberry was part of the decorations.

I hand-cut the wraps. I wish I had printed the template I found when I googled "cupcake wrappers" but I didn't. Also I wanted to try a decorative edge but forgot to bring or if I did bring them, couldn't find, my punches in Maine. I really wanted the biggest circle to be scalloped but they didn't have a big enough one at Michael's. So that's on the wish list now.

But overall I like how they turned out.

She was able to blow out her candle before the wind got it.

And one more pic: the shirt I made.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from Oriental Trading Company (I'm not linking for reasons that will soon be revealed) and one box came with the hula skirts in it. It was Thursday, so I called OTC and they said the box was at the post office; it was not. I kind of harassed the guy at the Acton PO but that didn't make the box arrive; Craig got the plastic leis at Wal-mart and we had the party . . . but even now, the second box hasn't arrived.

When I called I said I wanted a refund on the whole order and she said "I'll need the hula skirts back." Really? You really want to be like that?

Oh well. It's not a big deal and now I don't have luau party decorations that I have to store. My sister-in-law brought a few things she had so that added to the ambiance.

And Kate had a great time. She didn't miss a table skirt or making her own lei. She just had a good time celebrating turning 4.

Friday, September 3, 2010


My first baby on his first day of first grade.

He was so excited he was up at 6:04 AM. He climbed into bed next to me and fell asleep for a little longer. I got to snuggle with him and pray for him . . . and snooze a little longer, too.

Here he is turning to look so I can take a picture, just as I asked him to. He was so good about picture taking; lately he grimaces and growls when I pull out the camera and tells me it's not time to take pictures.

Waiting for the bus in the afternoon, Kate wanted to play tag. It was at least 95 degrees out; I was not running, so she scampered off to play hide-and-seek (which it was also too hot to play but I was willing to indulge her for one turn).

He got off the bus smiling. He was up and down emotionally all night; he'd go from chatting out what he did that day to crying about Kate talking or the back of his knee hurting, a combination of being tired and processing all of the new experiences of the day.
I was emotional throughout the day, too; walking back from dropping him off I was sad, and then about noon time I realized I was missing him. I wanted him to be getting off the bus so I could know how the day went.
"Good," he said. His first answer was good.