Aloha: Waistline

Aloha, bloggers!

So, lately I’ve been thinking about that dirty of dirtiest words… you know that one that starts with a D and ends with an IET. I hate that word. But as my waistline is not getting any smaller these days – and in fact seems intent on getting maybe just a little bit bigger – it’s becoming clearer to me by the day that pretty soon I’m gonna need to start doing something about it.

What makes this harder, is that I *know* what to do. I’ve successfully and healthfully lost weight in the past, not even all that long ago, while pregnant with Little BB no less! Remember those rocking days when I counted calories all through my second pregnancy and maintained my weight for 9 months while disbelieving nurses made disbelieving faces at me? And then I lost 30 pounds after she was born and another 10 pounds while breastfeeding? And it was glorious?

Well, then I stopped breastfeeding and slowwwwwwly gained back twenty pounds. Really. I know, it makes me sad, too. Apparently I’m having a really hard time accepting the fact that I can’t eat 2,000 calories a day anymore. And the number that the experts are recommending, 1500 calories. It makes me sad. And pouty. And I don’t like it. And I don’t really feel like exercising regularly either. Apparently knowing what to do and wanting to do it are two different things. Huh.

So my Aloha Friday question this week is:

What do you do to motivate yourself to eat healthy and exercise even when you don’t want to and it’s cold outside and chocolate tastes good?

aloha friday @ an island life

Take it easy today with Kailani @ An Island Life.

First time participating? It’s easy!

Write a post with a simple question, then link up here.

Click on the links for other participating bloggers.

Say, “Aloha!” ; answer their question ; make bloggy friends!

I Read: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire They say there are two sides to every story and Gregory Maguire has made a literary career out of sharing some of those other sides to stories we know well. Turning classic fairy tales and children’s stories on their head, revealing a gritty underbelly to the romantic, optimistic versions of the tales we grew up with.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris and Ruth, stepsisters to the beautiful, spoiled but generally good hearted Clara, aka Cinderella. While I can’t say that Ruth and Iris are heroines in this book, as honestly there is no true heroine to be found here – all of the characters have their good and bad sides, their own usually selfish motives and crosses to bear – they are presented in this story in full detail. They are fleshed out, real characters who existed before and after the brief tale of Cinderella.

And not just the three stepsisters, but the stepmother, Clara’s parents, friends, acquaintances, even the Prince is given more of a realistic back story. Maguire creates a scenario in which the basic events of Cinderella might unfold realistically and how that fairy tale version could be construed from a story that is much sadder and with no clear heroines and no one enemy (though the Stepmother definitely gives the job of Evil-Doer a fair shake!) to despise.

While there is no definitive magic happening in this story, the subject of magic flits through the book from beginning to end, but in a much darker, grittier way. The characters in this story are each haunted in one way or another, by their past, their talents, their looks whether good or bad. As young girls, Clara, Iris and Ruth seem convinced that imps, witches and other nefarious dark creatures walk among them, hide in rafters and change the course of their lives at a whim. As they get older, they begin to see that these imps are imagined manifestations for the bad things that have happened to them.

I liked all of these things about this retelling of Cinderella. I like that Maguire acknowledges the fact that Clara and her not-so-evil stepsisters each suffer and that Clara was not the sweet, innocent girl of perfection that Disney makes her out to be; each have afflictions of their own and each try to be good and kind in spite of their misfortunes in life. They don’t always succeed and they often do bad things, but usually for relatively understandable reasons.

In spite of being fascinated with the story of this book and the character development which is absolutely superb, this was not a perfect book. That gritty, descriptive language that Maguire is so well known for also comes across as a bit… tiresome. This is not a light, fluffy read (not that I really wanted it to be) and I occasionally found myself skimming through paragraphs when he went a little Nathaniel Hawthorne on me with descriptions of things which seemed wholly uninteresting and unimportant.

But at the same time, he’s painting you a picture of a story, of all the angles – all the details which you might miss if you only glance. It’s kind of the whole point. The theme of looking and seeing and knowing and understanding are crucial to this story, so I can forgive it these faults because on the whole – I think Maguire told this story exactly as he intended to with far more talent than I could give him credit for as a somewhat lazy reader.

So while I would not call myself a raving fan of all things Maguire, I was glad to have read this story which made me think, captured my imagination and even managed to pass as a good example of a coming of age story. Self confidence, overcoming great losses, motherhood, love and learning to really look at each side of a story are all themes which are excellently ruminated on in this story. Plus that creepy cat, Lusifer, is blessedly nowhere to be found in this book!

Just yesterday, life was always like this, right?

my cool dude

Sometimes it seems like just yesterday I was the mother of one adorable boy. One tiny child who was the sun and moon of my universe all by himself. He got my full, undivided attention; we went everywhere together, just the two of us. Bliss?

my oldest child

I wonder if he can remember when it was just us? When he was an only child? I wonder if he ever resents having my attention split in two, sharing my time with his admittedly adorable sister.

it's not easy being a big brother

I’m sure it’s not easy sharing everything: time, space, food, attention, toys…

But at the same time, eighteen months later (almost nineteen) I kind of can’t imagine life without the two of them. They are a package deal for me. One can’t go without the other now. Hasn’t it always been like this?

and the little lady

Hasn’t she always been here? Always held a piece of my heart, even before I knew her? Haven’t I always been a mother of two?

{heart day in review} how was yours?

heart doodles by MM

So {heart day} has come and gone and I have to say, all things considered mine was pretty sweet. After a mostly nice weekend, spoiled only slightly by a sprained wrist, Monday morning we had sausage gravy with buttermilk biscuits for breakfast (my favorite) and Dan left for work. MM thought this was hugely unfair because “But DADDY, it’s VALENSTINES DAY!” But as Dan informed him, “The Man doesn’t care about silly romantic holidays. The Man cares about Money.” So true, so true…

Since my wrist was still healing, we spent the day at home, coloring, watching a little tv and just hanging out.

a treasure map by MM

MM drew a treasure map…

who is this Big Girl??

BB watched Ellen with me. She is getting into this show and loves to clap along with the audience and dance with Ellen. Meanwhile, can we talk about the incredibly big girl in these pictures? Don’t I have a baby or at least a toddler? Because I’m pretty sure THAT child could be twelve any minute now…

lost to the boob tube

ain't I cute mommy?

WHAT is Ellen DOING?

let's have a little fun today...

let's give a little love away...

Sorry…. got distracted there for a minute… Ahem. So anyway, we spent most of the day kind of just being lazy (but adorable). I put BB in one of my favorite dresses of hers, since it’s a holiday and all. Then I made dinner. I made the kids their favorite meal – mac and cheese and hot dogs. With cute heart shaped napkins made cleverly by mommy with scissors and Hello Kitty napkins.

a valentines dinner for my little valentines

Then while the kids were eating, I set to work making a romantic Valentines Day dinner for two. I made gnocchi with a red sauce, which is a dish that we had on our honeymoon many moons ago and always brings me back to those first few days as a married couple. I served it with some dinner rolls warmed freshly in the microwave for thirty seconds and then tucked inside a toweled bowl to stay warm until Dan got home. We lit a delicious smelling Glade Scented Oil Candle, turned the lights down and handed MM a lollipop and BB a dinner roll and it was a perfectly romantic meal.

our romantic valentines dinner for two

After the kids were in bed we shared a small box of chocolates for two that his office gave him for Valentines Day. Two perfect pieces of absolute chocolate perfection from Candinas Chocolatier, who I am now slightly infatuated with and already trying to figure out a reasonable excuse to buy more…

All in all, a pretty sweet Valentines Day to be sure.

Daybook: Valentines Day 2011

a love letter from my love on 365 Project

Today

Outside my window: We’re seeing a bit of a heatwave here in Wisconsin with temperatures in the 40′s predicted for the whole week! I just hope it’s not followed by another bitterly cold snap.

bracing myself... on 365 Project

This weekend: we started celebrating Valentines Day a bit early. My husband left me the sweetest of love letters on my keyboard Friday night. Saturday we made homemade pizza together which was delicious but I seem to have sprained my wrist making the dough. Yes, really. Hence the wrist brace photo above. It’s starting to feel mostly better, but I’m still trying to take it easy. Yesterday was spent, thus, taking it easy with dinner at Outback to avoid doing dishes (and because it’s delicious).

We also: finally got around to buying the netbook I’ve had my eye on for awhile; when the laptop we use in the kitchen gave us grief for the one millionth time, we decided it was time to put it to sleep. My netbook can simply be carried into the kitchen to look up recipes when I need it – and put in my laptop bag to take to board meetings, coffee shops, etc. when it suits me as well. I think that makes this the world’s prettiest valentines day present, don’t you?

my new pretty

I’m reading: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire which our book club will be discussing next week. I’m about 100 pages in so far and liking, but not loving it. I think the language is kind of pretty, but sometimes … impractically so. I can see that Maguire goes for a certain mood in his books and goes for it full force, but sometimes I’d just prefer it be a bit easier to read. I’m selfish in my reading like that. But the story is definitely interesting and look forward to seeing where he goes with it.

Things you should click eat:

One last picture to share before I go: I know you’ve probably been going into pretty pictures of BB withdrawals. Here’s your weekly fix:

future Gap model

Mini-Blog: February 8th

This is my new little bloggy segment called “Mini-Blog” in which I combine a few or several little things I’ve been meaning to blog about that don’t seem to fit in anywhere else.

despicable me

I forgot to mention in my daybook this week that we took the kids to see Despicable Me at the theater this weekend. How was that possible since this movie is out on DVD? Well Marcus Theaters is doing a $2 Frosty Flicks promotion over the next several weekends showing kids movies that recently out of theater.

Last weekend was Despicable Me which was super exciting. I have heard such good things about this movie but hadn’t been willing to pay full price to see it in theater. We’d been just about to get it from Netflix when I heard about this promotion and mentioned it to Dan who was equally excited.

Even better is little BB got in free being so young so for $6 we were able to take our little family of four to the movies (not including snackage of course). We’re definitely planning to see another movie while this deal is going on. And yes we all loved Despicable Me – such a cute, clever movie and fun for the whole family. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it now!

crusing in the couch

Have I mentioned that my kids kinda play together lately? I love seeing them actually hanging out and doing stuff together. They are both infatuated with this steering wheel toy and they looked so cute yesterday “cruising on the couch” together. There may have been swooning on my part.

my nightstand is feeling a little over-burdened

So I have several bookshelves where I keep “books I’ve read” and “books I haven’t read” and “books I should probably read soon” and even a little pile of “classic books I swear I’ll read this year” – super, sort of organized and works pretty well. On my nightstand I keep the books that are like “in progress” or “to be devoured soon” which means usually there are two or three books there – this is where the essential reading of the moment goes. I’ll keep whatever book my book club is reading next, books I’m reviewing, the book I’m currently reading and / or whatever book looks so amazing that I know I’ll want to read it as soon as I can.

Well things are starting to get a little out of control on my poor little nightstand. I’m not sure when it happened or when it got this bad or what I plan to do about it, but this is just ridiculous. The worst part is that the libraries, book stores, book blogs and amazon.com recommendations are still whispering sweet nothings to me, saying, “Common, just take a quick look, maybe the most amazing book deal of the century is over here and you’ve just gotta find it!” And I’m like, “Shut up and leave me alone. I officially have TOO many books. Officially. As of now.” Which is why I keep requesting new books to review, but shut up, who turns down a chance at Mia King’s new book? She’s like ah-mazing and cannot be refused even if my nightstand pile is in serious danger of falling on top of me in my sleep.

Daybook: February 7th

wintry sunset

Today

Outside my window: We’ve been having flurries on and off today but luckily not much is accumulating. It was awfully cold this morning when I took the kids to story time but we’ve definitely seen colder this winter so I’m trying not to complain.

This weekend: was pretty much the same as every other weekend except for the part where we watched the Packers win the Super Bowl last night! We definitely don’t get to do that every night, which is actually probably a good thing because good lord that’s a long game! But we made some homemade pizza and had some chips (animal crackers for the kids) and tried to teach MM the basics of what was going on until putting them to bed at a reasonable hour and finishing the game ourselves. I wish I could say we got to bed at a reasonable hour, but that would be a lie.

I know: I’ve been a bit scarce here and maybe you are wondering what we’ve been up to since I last complained about the weather. Well I’ll show you…

playing with our friends across the hall

When the weather outside was frightful, we stayed indoors and played with our friends across the hall. That is one thing I’ll miss when we move is the easiness of play dates with our favorite apartment friends.

reading library books

On Friday we finally made it to story time at our library. This was actually BB’s first story time (MM and I were simply allowed to sit in) and I have to say that this library has a phenomenal toddler story time and we all had a great time. MM checked out two Mo Willems’ books to read at home and he’s been infatuated. Today he noticed the different “symbols” at the end of each sentence and I geeked out and explained the difference between periods, exclamation points and question marks and then I geeked out some more when he actually understood me and seemed excited about the whole thing.

I’m reading: Saltwater Taffy by Eric Delabarre right now. I am really on the fence about this book and I cannot figure out if my complaints stem from me being too old for the book or the book being poorly written perhaps? It’s a fairly interesting story – group of friends embark on real life treasure hunt – but … I don’t know. I need to steal a 9-12 year old boy and have him read it, I think.

Things you should click:

One last picture to share before I go: Look at this adorable Valentine that MM spontaneously decided to make for me. I especially love his haphazard writing style.

making valentines

Outside My Window…

Welcome to Wisconsin! on 365 ProjectI thought I’d take a picture today while I was out shoveling / moving my car. Looks a lot more impressive from the ground, huh? The good news is I didn’t lose any keys this time and managed to move my car with little incident.

The bad news is I briefly lost my mind and, being too lazy to get out of the car when I realized that the passenger mirrors needed to be cleaned off, I tried rolling down the window and pushing the snow out. That was a dumb idea. Especially because the snow was like a foot deep somehow and then when I tried to open the door to brush the ginormous pile of snow out of my car, the door wouldn’t actually open because it was so deep on that side (hence the reason I hadn’t wanted to hobble over and clean it off in the first place).

But luckily I was able to pull out of the spot, move to the street and clean it up properly from there for the most part (I think my car will be a little soggy when the snow gets warm enough to melt). ::sigh:: Compared to the drama that was yesterday though, I have to say, it definitely could have been worse!

Taking the easy way out rarely pays off. This is the lesson I’ve learned this week through snow covered windows and spaghetti-o slathered hand vacuums.

Accumulation. When Stuff Piles Up.

one week ago

We’ve had a relatively easy winter so far. One advantage to the cold Wisconsin temperatures is frequently powder-like snow that mostly just brushes aside for you. It mostly makes up for being “bitterly, frigidly, extremely” cold (to quote our weather men).

yesterday

But of course the week that Dan has to go out of town on a business trip, Old Man Winter remembers that he hasn’t properly doused us yet this year.

today

I know that anybody living in New England seeing these pictures is all annoyed like, “Seriously chick, your complaining over THAT?” Well, one, yes I acknowledge you guys have got a lot more snow to contend with this week, but I’d like to point out anyway for anyone who feels like feeling sorry for me, that this is the 3rd floor balcony where very little tends to accumulate. I’m told there are at least waist high snow drifts out there and last I checked I couldn’t actually SEE the road that a few poor cars were driving on. The library and metro system have closed for the day and I am desperately hoping that my apartment complex opts to skip plowing today, though the odds don’t seem in my favor.

But guys, I didn’t tell you about yesterday. Yesterday when granted, there wasn’t a ton of snow to shovel and brush off the car when I moved it into the street so the apartment could plow and I lost my freaking apartment keys in the snow somewhere. And didn’t find out until after I’d already moved the car and headed halfway back to my apartment. Leaving me with no earthly idea at what point said keys fell out of my pocket. And after an hour of searching in vain, I had to give up and head to the apartment office and ask for a new set of keys. Cause I don’t think anybody will be finding them until Spring, and if they do, lord knows where they will end up (and frankly I don’t care, because this spring we’re moving!!!)

And then I made the mistake of cleaning spilled spaghetti-os on my carpet with a handvac (bad idea), then spent a long time trying to clean the handvac (which still doesn’t look great, but it’s better), and then my 4 year old broke the curtain rod in his bedroom, and then I realized that I never actually bought the mac and cheese needed for my Easy Dan’s Out Of Town Kid  Friendly Dinner. And kind of wanted to curl up into a ball and scream.

But instead.

baskingest cheeks ever

I basked in the sweetest of cheeks and kept on basking until I felt like life wasn’t so bad.

and can we talk about those eyes again?

sigh

don't you feel better now?

Then I read this guest post over at Design Mom (who is in the process of moving to France with her family as we read this!! Squee!!) about having a sort of Faux French day for those of us who are extraordinarily jealous of those lucky ducks and their European Adventure. I decided to play along, but I skipped to what, in my mind, was the most important part.

crepe-alicious

And said, “Screw mac and cheese & hot dogs. We’re having crepes.” Who cares that we just had pancakes for dinner like four days ago? These are crepes and that makes them different and delicious and shut up, mommy wants crepes! And it was heavenly. And the kids were pretty thrilled and soon forgot about earlier promises of hot dogs and asked for more syrup, please.

And things started to perk up. We talked with daddy on Skype before bed, read a story, MM asked me, “Does 3 and 3 make 6?” for no obvious reason but DUDE where did he learn that and can we talk about how smart my son is? So once the kids were all tucked in nicely, I set out to watch Rent which I was pretty excited about, but then within about 15 minutes I was so bored I turned it off. And guys, when a musical starring fantastic actors and actresses and an opening song that’s just terrific somehow manages to bore me? That’s pretty bad. But I decided, “No worries, I’ve got some good stuff on Netflix’s Watch It Now,” so I turned on the Wii and got that set up while getting myself some lemon sorbet for good measure and came back to the room to find the Wii apparently frozen. Restart, try again. Frozen. Seriously?

So I watched a couple iCarly reruns until Hellcats came on and when that didn’t seem to perk me up enough I turned to the one thing that always, guaranteed, puts a smile on my face.

[httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B-CCX4ff64]

[httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXtzW_Kv2Aw]

Now I hope you stood up and danced while that was playing. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal not to. I posted those on Facebook, hoping some Craigy Ferg fans might be amongst my FB Friends, but alas, no comments. Really? Really, world? That is just sad. Just plain awful sad. Luckily I got to talk to Dan on Skype again before bed and when I said, “WHO’S THAT AT THE DOOR?” he knew to get his butt up and dance with me. Because we’re perfect for each other. And awesome.

But my point is, I’m not sure if I have the energy to do ALL of that again today if life throws me that many painful, messy, broken, missing in the snow curve balls. So, please, Apartment Manager Gods, just call it a snow day, skip the plowing and lets be done with it, okay?

I Read: Deep Down True by Juliette Fay

Deep Down True by Juliette FayIf you are looking for a funny, heart warming book with characters that are easy to relate to and a healthy mix of heavy and light subject material, I definitely recommend checking out Deep Down True by Juliette Fay.

At it’s root, this book is a fairly standard “chick lit” novel (though I cringe to say so as so many chick lit novels have given this genre a bad name), or rather the new breed of Mom Lit which is becoming so popular, luckily for me as it’s one of my preferred genres lately.

But I think you’ll find a little of everything in this story which is such a true to life representation of the hodge podge that is motherhood.

Here’s a quick description from GoodReads.com as I feel like they sum it up better than I can:

Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice- even to telemarketers-but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad’s departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn’t end in middle school… and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity.

There were a several elements to this story that I can’t really relate to, but the characters are so well fleshed out and so realistic that I found I could relate to them anyway and really enjoyed getting to know Dana and her friends and family. I appreciated the fact that there was such a liberal mix of heavy and light subject material – not too dark, but not too sunny.

And I frequently found myself giggling or nodding in a knowing sort of agreement with little observations the main character makes throughout the book. The author does a terrific job of pulling you into the story and getting you to root for Dana – to groan when she makes silly mistakes, get upset when people are unfair and applaud with delight when things finally start to go her way again.

This was not a perfect book. Occasionally the descriptions were almost too detailed sometimes and pulled me out of the story to nit pick over word choice. But overall I think it was very well told and wonderfully written.