Rite of Passage

Today we passed a milestone.

Not the first word, or the first step.

The first dance recital.

We have struggled with listening in dance class.  And by "we" I mean Liv.  And by "struggled" I mean REALLY REALLY DID HORRIBLY with the listening.  But during the past two weeks, she was doing much better.  The occasional squarely actions, the occasional flit and twirl off to the side.  But she was listening.  She was staying on her dot.  She wasn't licking the mirror (yes this happened)

And now for the holiday party.  Three teachers, fourteen preschoolers, five dances.  Chairs were set up, party dresses were donned, parents and guests were invited into the studio - and we all broke out our respective video camera (or iPhone in my family's case) to capture this moment in time.

I'll spare you all from the 25 minutes of video that we captured, but she did a really good job.  There are times when the camera shakes because I'm giggling so hard.  And then I'm filled with pride and joy.  Thats my little girl out there.  I feel like we just brought her home and were celebrating our first Christmas with her, and now she's out there PERFORMING.  Or doing her version of it.

Sure.  We had glimpses of the "usual" Olivia and her listening.

But she did try.  And she was so proud.  And I couldn't be happier.


Two weeks, six pounds

We made it!  Two weeks, complete.

I did eat out on occasion, and Jimmy Johns for lunch on a Saturday is too hard to pass up.
I did have a few glasses of wine, but most nights were doused with ice water.
I did have some holiday treats, but only because I'm sure Santa would have been disappointed had I not.
I did use the walking stations at work, but not every day like I planned to.
I did make smarter food choices, and even with my occasional "slips" on the bad habits, I managed to stay within my allotted calorie target for the day.

And, most importantly (cue the fan fare) I did manage to cut six pounds off the scale.  Not the ten the book said was the tops to expect, but then again, I didn't follow things to a T.  What could I expect!

I have more to go to hit my target, but I know that I'm actually making progress.

On Wednesday, a co-worker said that my skinny jeans looked saggy on me.  I was thrilled.  Well, first I was embarrassed because I didn't want to go from having clothes that were too tight and "muffin-top making" to too loose and looking like a hobo.  But things were fitting better!  I'm noticing it myself, but it was nice to hear from an outsider.

Now today, we splurged.  Meeting J&J&R at Champps for lunch to exchange the LEAP PAD that Jacob had found for us on Amazon (at regular retail price, no less!) I did order the table the waffle fries and seasoned sour cream.  It's just something you have to do when you're there.  It's like going to visit Rome and NOT having any pasta while you're there.  Stupid not to.

But can I just go back to the Leap Pad for a second.  It's what Liv has been asking for since her birthday in September.  Now instead of buying one THEN and saving it, we figured we could get it when it was closer to Christmas.  How were we to know it was going to be the hottest toy out there.  Not wanting to spend $300 on one through Amazon or eBay, we put out and ABP to the family to help us find one.  Jacob came through!

We are going to be the best parents ever.

Or Santa will be.  But he's a good friend of ours so we'll take some credit.

The next seven days between now and Christmas will be the test.  And let's be honest, when we visit the Hattons in Geneva over New Years weekend, there's no way I'm not going to eat a Portillos hot dog, deep dish pizza of any variety and a whole lot of wine.  But I'll do my best to make smart choices ASIDE from those little treats.  And there's always January 1st to start again!

Merry Christmas to you all!


Dowel Wreath

Painted red, this is perfect for Christmas, but can easily be adapted for other holidays and seasons.  Being that this wreath cost me less than $10 total, I see more of these in my future!

First, get your supplies:

* 4, 36" long 1/4" square dowels - cut each into 3 18" pieces, so you'll have 12 pieces total - you could ask the people at Lowes/Home Depot to do this for you.  Nate has a table saw, so he did it - obviously exact measuring isn't critical to the project (see next photo!)
* wood glue
* pencil
* ruler or tape measure
* spray paint in color of your choosing
* t-square (if you have it)

Pretty maids all lined in a row (obviously, perfection is not super critical)

Divide each dowel into thirds (marked at 6 and 12 inches) - this is where the t-square came in handy.  One quick swipe down the line and they were all set!

Now, turn your memories to the class game of tic-tac-toe.  We're going to make 3 boards and layer them on top of each other.  Dab glue on your hash marks of 2 pieces, laying the other two across to make the "board."

Keep going on the remaining 2 "boards".  Let the glue set for 30 minutes.

Ding!  Assembly time.  This will take some trial and error and be based on your personal preference for how you want it to look.

 Second layer,
Third layer.

Now, make some marks at your intersection to make your glue dabs.  I used a permanent marker to show you all what I mean, but wouldn't recommend it because the paint didn't cover my mark.  Valspar - bah!

Don't worry if the glue runs over a bit, I didn't notice at all once it was all dried and painted!

Now spray, and spray and spray.  Lots of angled edges to make sure you cover.  And our front door has a glass pane, so I needed to make sure the backside looked just as good as the front.  But it looks good all on it's own, right?

But we need some glittery goobers to attach.

These babies cost me a whopping 70 cents each, plus 40% off (because everything is always on sales at Michaels)  I told you, this is a SPENDY craft we're talking about here!  I used the wire snips and trimmed them down and my ever-so-trusty glue gun to attach at just the right places.

(Our hall pantry as the backdrop as I'm only allowed to craft and blog at bedtime.  It's winter and is dark at like 2 PM, so the outside, front-door shots wouldn't be as cool right now!)

So fun and easy.  Putsy waiting for the glue to dry, the skies the limit with this project!!

***All of my work was carefully supervised by Norman, our elf (from on top of the cupboards) and Liv, our silly.


Day 3.

Yeah!  I turned 30!  I survived my birthday week of treats and dinners out and drinks.  Lots of drinks.
Sunday, December 4th came around and that was D Day.  Diet Day.  And I hate even saying that I'm "on a diet."  It's cliche and suggests that this is short-term and going to fail.  Isn't that what they say?  Diets fail.  It's about lifestyle.  Hell, I'm in the health and wellness industry, and I even know that!  I should support that mentality - it supports my bank account!
So in the 3 steps of the Mayo Clinic Diet, I am in Step One:  Lose It!  It involves setting a weight loss goal, setting a realistic time line and expectations, learning about appropriate portion sizes and such.  Those are the "technical" elements.
My focus is on the 5 habits that I’m supposed to learn in these two weeks and 5 habits I’m supposed to break.  There are even BONUS habits to learn, which are mostly just increasing the original five.  They’re not extra, just on steroids.

The goals are simple and very intuitive:
¨     Eat a healthy breakfast (in my case = EAT breakfast)
¨     Eat fruits and vegetables (no, wine does not count as a fruit)
¨     Eat whole grains (no, beer is not a whole grain)
¨     Eat healthy fats (oddly, these are not found in my fried treats at happy hours)
¨     MOVE! (minimum of 30 minutes a day; with Optum as my employer, the exercised is encouraged and part of our “goals” so this shouldn’t be too tricky)

Habits to break:
¨     No TV while eating (but Top Chef just isn’t the same without a cheese stick and Doritos!)
¨     No sugar (difficult around the holidays, but I think I can manage.  And no, Mayo Clinic, fruit does not substitute for chocolate.  I don’t care how fresh it is.
¨     No snacks (what the crap?  Aren’t you supposed to snack in between meals to keep up your metabolism?  Turns out, they’re talking about “snack foods” – here’s where they try to trick you into eating more fruits and veggies.  Again an apple DOES NOT EQUAL a Snickers bar.  Stay strong.)
¨     Moderate meat and low-fat dairy (I was raised with the mentality that your meal was:  meat, veggie and starch.  And a big glass of milk.  Hmmm…)
¨     No eating at restaurants (AHHH!)

I’m managing to track my eating, I'm drinking more water (what are my other options, if I can’t have WINE at night!?) and Nate and I are not eating out. 

I have a confession.  On day 2, I had a slip.  We hired two new people to my team, and there was a welcome lunch for them at Bacio.  I couldn’t say no.  I did, however, manage to avoid the bread bowl, dessert and got myself a salad with salmon.  Light protein and good fats, veggies and low on the carbs.   I’m not perfect at this – but I am TRYING to make good choices if I can’t make PERFECT ones.

I also managed to make myself a GREEN MONSTER smoothie for breakfast on my way out the door.  I know there are million options out there.  Mine had:
¨     Big handful of spinach (I promise, you can’t taste anything)
¨     Frozen berries, about ½ cup
¨     ½ banana
¨     1 spoonful of 0% fat Greek yogurt
¨     Splash of skim milk

Thank you Magic Bullet blender – love those info-mercials.  I even made it easier on myself by trying to portion out the spinach and fruit into baggies.  Sounds geeky and putsy, but it has helped eliminate that “no time” excuse that I often have.  One baggie, another baggie, scoop, splash, cut, blend for 5 seconds and you’re done.

Long story, short – I’m trying.  I’m resisting the urge to snack right now as I type this in front of the Gopher Basketball game.  I’m drinking water instead of wine.  I’ve walked a lot at work and once it gets above freezing, we may actually get one of those family walks in.

Small steps.  And I’m reminding myself that even if I do slip, I haven’t fallen off the cliff.  Just try again tomorrow.
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