June 24, 2010

Week 8: An additional blessing

I knew something was up when I put on my dress for the wedding and it was loose, even when I sat down. The last time I wore it, it was not loose and when I sat down, I could hear the seams begging for mercy. Generally speaking, God gave me a lot of opportunity to not eat a lot of food, hardly eat any sweets and gave me LOTS of opportunity to exercise, even if it was not always aerobic exercise.

The result for the last two weeks: down 1 pounds total, 34 to go.

All glory to God, who, with his might power is able to do infinitely more than we can ask or think. Glory to Him in the church, in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever. Amen!
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT).

June 23, 2010

New England Vacation Part 3: Remaining highlights

Here is a continuation of my highlights:

12. Best house tour: The Orchard House, childhood home of Louisa May Alcott. It was the best preserved house, followed closely by Paul Revere's house. You could tell the woman giving the tour was a really big fan of the Alcott family.

13. Biggest suprise: Elizabeth demonstrating a hammer she had made using a forked stick, a stone and long stems of grasses twined together. Thanks goes to "Sneaky Uses for Everyday Objects" for supplying her with that information. I think I am going to have to read that book as well as it's two follow-ups so that I can be more like "MacGuyver."

14. Best non-family interaction: Meeting up with old friends from Trinity Community Church.

15. Most informative NPS employee: This is a toss up between the woman who was hanging around the Old North Bridge in Concord, the man portraying Mr. Hartwell at Hartwell's tavern along the Paul Revere route and the gentleman at Valley Forge describing some of the issues surrounding the army and Von Stuben's work in making them a United States's Army rather than a collection of state militias. Very few NPS guides lacked knowledge or enthusiasm for their subject matter.

16. Worst tour: I am sorry to say that it is Constitution hall in Philadelphia. There is a tour every 15 minutes that takes you to three different rooms in Constitution hall. It is too rushed and with crowds, it is almost impossible to really look at the rooms.

17. Loudest moment: This is a toss up between the times the kids became embroiled in arguements and the time at Valley Forge when they shot off the cannon. Kyle, in particular has three volume levels--off, loud and screaming. I think this will change as he gets older, at least I hope so.

18. Most annoying situation: This is another toss up. On the one hand, the teenage couple trying to go up the extremely narrow staircase in the Bunker Hill memorial arm in arm as if they were attached at the hip was very annoying since there is only one staircase for both directions that barely allows two people to pass. They were obviously passing people who were going down as they were trying to reach the top. I asked them to please go single file and they obeyed immediately. I must have been using my "mother's voice" on them. On the other hand, there was the CNN extensive advertisement-disguised-as-a-news-program discussing the upcoming "Woman's Viagra" pill during breakfast at the Residence Inn while my family and I were trying to eat. I am hoping that the subject matter was so foreign to them that the program might as well have been spoken in a different language.

19. Best place to stay for a family of six: Hands down, Residence Inn is wonderful. Eric and I had a room with a door which allowed us to watch a movie or talk after putting the kids to bed (though they rarely fell asleep right away.) They have free breakfasts and offer dinner meals which are free, though they are not always the best tasting food. The Marlborough, MA Residence Inn is much better than the Cherry Hills, NJ Residence Inn.

20. Most beautiful sight: All of the green trees, green grass, and budding flowers that I don't see in Arizona. I love the mountains of Arizona and ruddy rock I see in different places, the saguaro cactus standing tall and the smoke ash trees which bloom purple in the spring. However, it was so wonderful to see tall trees full of big, green leaves and so many flowers that would wilt within hours of being transported to the desert. I also loved seeing the fireflies twinkling around fields at the wedding reception, which was held outdoors. I miss them.

21. The one thing I don't miss from the east: humidity. Our last day in New England was the hottest and muggiest of our vacation. I loved the cool 70's of Boston and having to deal with rain. However, take that same humidity level and up the temperature by twenty degrees and I consider it as uncomfortable as Arizona in the 100s. I like to have my sweat evaporate rather than cling to my arm like two teenagers going steady.

22. Best way to end a vacation: a wedding party celebrating a commitment two different people are making to love and honor each other above all others, allowing distant family members to gather together and catch up on their lives.

June 22, 2010

New England Vacation Part 2: Half of the highlights

Yesterday, I gave you a little summary of our trip to New England. For the next two days, I am listing highlights from our vacation in no particular order. In the spirit of "This is Spinal Tap", I am giving you an extra highlight a day because ten isn't quite enough.

1. Most like "The Amazing Race" moment: Running from one end of the Minneapolis airport to the other trying to catch our connecting flight to Philadelphia. Our flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis was delayed getting to the gate. The arriving gate was at the opposite corner of the Minneapolis airport from the departing gate and they were announcing the final boarding call for our Philadelphia flight as we emerged from the first plane. The kids were awesome, especially John. It helped my weight loss plan in two ways--I got exercise and my lunch ended up being a ciff bar and 1/3 of a snack case. Those snack cases are airway robbery but it is better than virtually nothing.

2. Funniest moment on our vacation that did not involve kids occured at Paul Revere's house. After slipping through a gaggle of teenagers hanging out in front of the gate, we had an interesting conversation with the ticket agent (TA).

Eric: Two adult tickets and four children's tickets, please.

TA: Sorry, no school groups allowed .

Me: We aren't a school group.

TA: Well they are all wearing the same colored T-shirt (same color, four
different designs with no school identification on any of them).

Me: That is a coincidence. We are a family, not a school. Four kids usually
does not make up a school, though these days it does seem to make a large
family. (thinking to myself-- now is NOT a good time to mention homeschooling).

TA: Oh, okay.

Note: There were probably about 20 school groups that day getting a tour of
the Boston Freedom trail, all wearing the same color shirt for each school with
the school logo prominently displayed. Paul Revere had sixteen children born to
two different wives . He probably wouldn't have been able to tour his own home
because he would have been mistaken for a school group.

3. Scariest moment of our vacation: Driving through the bad side of Camden, NJ when Eric made a wrong turn. Fortunately, it was daylight and we turned around pretty quickly and got back on the right road. If you ever end up in Camden, New Jersey, DON'T go down Federal Road.

4. Most enjoyable time with the kids: Walking along the path between Brook's house parking lot and Hartwell Tavern along the Paul Revere trail and watching our kids pretend to be Colonial Minutemen (or should it be Minutepersons since the girls were also participating?) shooting at the British regulars, which would be Eric and I.

5. Quotes from the kids:

* John, upon studying the Liberty Bell: "It looks like a real bell!"

* Jessi, after hours of seeing nothing but trees off of the interstate in Massachusettes on our way to Boston: "It's a good thing Massachusettes doesn't have many people. It sure makes traveling easier."

* Kyle: "Pow", "bang" and other various exploding noises. He is a man of few words, but many sounds. The most frequently repeated conversation with Kyle was the following: "I have to go to the bathroom!" Eric: "Why didn't you go to the bathroom five minutes ago before we left?"; Kyle: "I didn't have to THEN!" This conversation usually took place in the middle of nowhere with bathrooms at least a half hour away.

* Sad to say, I can't remember any particular memorable quotes from Elizabeth, but that could be because she is in a "face making" stage at this time. When she is upset, she will scowl and grimace and glower, sometimes combined with a "harumph". When she is excited, she will make all kinds of wonderful faces, usually involving smiles, and squeal and when I try to kiss or hug her, she will put on a look of mock horror and do her best to thwart me.

6. Biggest disappointment: Philadelphia Cheesesteak. Maybe my mistake was in choosing cheese whiz instead of provolone because a native told me the original was made with cheese whiz. Chicago's Italien Beef sandwhiches taste much better, IMHO.

7. Biggest frustration: This was a tie between driving through the outskirts of New York and discovering that some of the state parks in New Jersey and Philadelphia were closed on Monday. We had to drive along the outskirts of New York City to get from NJ to Plymoth, MA. It took us two hours to drive 15 miles even though we were miles from downtown. Part of the delay, however, was the two bathroom stops required by Kyle, who drank most of his water in the first hour of the drive. When we planned our trip we were originally going to do a driving tour on Sunday and walk around Philadelphia on Monday, but, after spending more than six hours in a plane the previous day, Eric and I thought the kids would want to walk instead of sit in a car, even for brief periods. Unfortunately, two of the parks I wanted to visit--Brandywine Battlefield and Washington Crossing Park--are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays due to budget cuts. Arizona is not the only state to be cutting its state parks budget, apparently.

8. Most enjoyable time with Eric: snuggling with him after putting the kids to bed and watching "Young Frankenstein" for the first time and having conversations with him that were uninterrupted by the kids.

9. Best night: Without a doubt, my cousin's wedding reception. It was great to see cousins and aunts and uncles I hadn't seen for a while, and get to know their spouses. I also enjoyed dancing with Eric, dancing/cuddling with John and dancing/wrestling with Kyle. I also liked dressing up.

10. Best dinner: Yao's Chinese food in Princeton, NJ. It has been way too long (14 months) since I have had good Chinese food. I couldn't stop eating. The food at the wedding was fabulous, but it wasn't Chinese food.

11. Traveling statistics: We flew a total of twelve hours to get to Philadelphia and back. We drove a little more than 1000 miles between Philadelphia and environs, Boston and environs, and driving to the reception and back, which was another 12 or so hours in the car. The kids watched six movies during the travel days--one for each plane we rode, one on the way to Boston and one returning from Boston. They bought a momentos in each city and three of the kids chose books as one of their momentos. The kids earned four Junior ranger badges in four national parks, with the exception of John, who didn't want to work for the Minuteman Badge. We probably averaged walking 2 miles a day in each city.

Eric has posted pictures on Facebook that I have shared, since we don't necessarily share Facebook friends. We will be updating those pictures periodically.

June 20, 2010

Our New England Vacation--part 1

We took a tour of Revolutionary War sites in Philadelphia and Boston, adding a couple of stops in places anchored in other times. We visited most of the historic places in Philadelphia one day, the USS New Jersey and the Aquarium next door on another day. We took a day to drive to Boston, taking a scenic route on the way there to stop at Plymoth. We walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, as well as a tour of MIT thanks to Eric's former co-worker, who is a professor there. The next day, we took Paul Revere's route backwards, which, coincidentally enough, is the path that the British regulars took after "the shot heard 'round the world" caused them to return to Boston after failing to secure Colonial munitions supplies and failing to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams. We returned to the Philadelphia area, stopping at Morristown, NJ, which was one of the wintering spots of Washington's Army after Valley Forge. The morning of the reception, we went to Valley Forge, met some old friends who moved to the area a couple years ago and then left to get ready to go to the reception. It was a wonderful trip and I will be sharing highlights from our vacation over the next few days.

June 19, 2010

Week7: Vacation update

First of all, I have no idea how much I weigh. All I can go by is the fact that my snug shorts are no longer snug. They are actually a bit loose. God has really been with me and helping me. The first day of our trip, traveling from Arizona to Philadelphia via Minneapolis, our plane to Minneapolis was so late that as soon as we got off our first plane, our second plane was in the process of final boarding. And, of course, the departing gate was almost as far as it could possible be from our arrival gate. We literally ran from one end to the other without any opportunity to pick up lunch. Lunch was a Cliff bar and 1/3 of a snack box and a bag of peanuts. The next day, we didn't each much either. With the exception of yesterday, we have been bringing sandwhich fixings, snack veggies and fruit with us and eating in the car. Because we are staying at a Residence Inn, several times we have either fixed dinner ourselves or eaten their dinner, which is buffet that allows a person to chose as little or as much as needed. Last night was my worst night in terms of eating because we stopped at a Chinese restaurant that ended up serving excellent food (Yao Chinese food in Princeton, NJ). It has been so long since I have eaten excellent Chinese food, I ended up binging and seriously regretting it. Our trip has also involved a lot of walking. Even our road trip between Philladelphia and Boston involved stops to tour historic sites. Our biggest day of walking was probably Boston, when we walked The Freedom Trail, roughly 2.5 miles, was given a tour around MIT by one of Eric's former co-workers who is now a professor there and climbed up 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Memorial. That does not include steps we climbed up and down to get to various T stations going back and forth from the Freedom Trail and Cambridge. During our stay in Boston, we were on the 4th floor of a Residence Inn and the only time I used the elevator was at the end of that day, when I had to wash clothes. I was so tired, my feet were sore and I had no intention of carrying bags of dirty laundry down the stairs. So, it was good. I will be posting a blog about our trip soon. But now, it is on to Valley Forge before going to a wedding reception on our last day of the trip

June 10, 2010

Week 6: Back in the Saddle

Weight loss is not an exercise in perfection. Thank you God for that small mercy. I had two days of what I would call “bad sweets days”. However, in the past, I would have described them as “good days”, so progress is being made. I have discovered that eating too many sweets have started to bring on feelings of nausea. Apparently, I can no longer drink a full bottle of I.B.C. root beer. Nor can I eat more than three chocolate chip cookies. I wonder how much ice cream will make me sick—just kidding! I think God has actually answered a prayer that I have only half seriously prayed for the last four years when I have told the story of my daughter’s problem with sugar. One night, when she was six, she ate seven or eight oreo cookies during small group Bible study in our home. That night, she threw up. She had one other incident of eating too many sweets and throwing up and now, she will start feeling sick as she is reaching the threshold of too much sugar and will stop and refuse to eat any more of a dessert. Whenever I have told the story, I usually end it with, “May God smite me with that affliction.” I am usually laughing after the last line because God usually does not answer those types of prayers. However, over the past four weeks, He has changed something in my body so that I feel the consequences of too much sugar pretty quickly. Or, maybe with eating fewer calories in general, sugar has more of an impact on my system than when I was eating excessive amounts of good food as well as more sugary foods. Even that, however is to His glory since He made the human body “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139).

I have developed some strategies for our upcoming trip. First of all, we aren’t always going to be eating dinner out. We are staying at a Residence Inn throughout our trip because they are cheaper than the two hotel rooms needed for a family of six, which especially add up in the Boston/Philly area. This means that we can cook meals there. I think part of vacation is getting to try new restaurants and not having to cook and clean. However, having a pot of spaghetti one night or something just as simple another night isn’t too much work. The second strategy is to bring a pair of shorts that are still snug. They are not as snug as they used to be, but I am sure that if I consistently eat too much, they will get snuggier (yes, I know that "snuggier" is not a word). I am also bringing some exercise shorts that Eric purchased for me last year that are a bit snug so that I can be reminded to not eat as much. I will also deliberately leave food on my plate. And of course, the strategy that I am continuing to work out imperfectly is to rely on God rather than on food when I am stressed or lonely or frustrated.

I am still exercising five times a week. I am jogging/shambling almost a mile now. For two days this week, I walked away from the dinner table still hungry after eating a little bit, which coincided with those two bad sweets days. I have imperfectly memorized Ephesians 3:16-21 and will be working on it more this week, as well as reviewing 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Ephesians 1:18-20. The real key is remembering and reciting the verses in Ephesians when some sort of sugary temptation is singing its siren song so that I can actually resist temptation. 2 Corinthians 3:18 is what I remember when I fail those temptations. I have to praise God for all He is doing and all that I know that He will continue to do to change me from the inside out.

The result for this week: down 2 pounds, 35 to go.

June 3, 2010

Week 5: Nothing to see here

This week, I am experiencing a hurdle that only women experience on a monthly basis in terms of weight fluctuation. If you don't know what I mean by this, then go to the woman you know best and have her explain it to you. It presents a "double whammy" because the body actually resists losing weight at this point in time and introduces cravings in women that are hard to resist.

I still worked out five times in the last week and am having a lot of fun playing in the pool. I only had one really bad day of eating this week. However, if I were truly being honest, I am not letting myself get ravenous or walk away from the dinner table when I am still hungry, which is what I need to do lose weight. The diet I should actually go on is "eating only what my children leave behind on their dinner plate." They are usually pretty decent at cleaning most of their plate and we are usually pretty strict about eating, but there are times when we give the kids too much food. If I started that strategy, however, I would probably be encouraging the kids to put more on their plate than they need.

I am mostly through memorizing Ephesians 3:16-21. Memorizing that big of a piece is hard work. The only part I need to memorize is the section praising God. Go figure!

Looming ominously in about a week is a vacation, where we will be eating out every day for eight days with the final meal to be at a wedding reception! I am already working out eating strategies, which may involve leaving food on the plate to go to waste, which I really hate. However, maybe my oldest daughter could be convinced to split an "adult" dinner with me. Hmmmm....

Week 4: 0 pounds lost, 37 to go.

In summary, I am working out a lot, but not necessarily losing weight because I need to really cut down on my portions and let myself be hungry for a while.