FFTFL premiere

FFTFL premiere

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nate Berkus Show!!

Hey! Remember when I went to a taping of The Nate Berkus Show back on 12/6? Well the show will be airing on Tuesday, 12/20. Here in NY he's on NBC at 2pm. Go to http://www.thenateshow.com/ to see when it airs in your area, if you want to sit and wait to POSSIBLY see me in the audience. My friends and I were sitting in the "west wing," which is the section to the left of the stage if you're Nate. I'm the one with the gray hair and the light blue argyle sweater, sitting right next to my gf Donna wearing a multi-color argyle sweater!

that's us in the audience!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Lied

Up 2.2 pounds since "my solemn vow" on November 23rd. That was only three weeks ago. I am perfectly fine during the day. I get up, eat some breakfast, hit the gym for at least an hour, have a normal lunch and dinner, with some rather healthy snacks thrown in. Then, the night comes. Throughout my life I've done most of my overeating at night. Go to bed early, you say? I usually fall asleep early, then wake up to use the bathroom and grab something to eat on the way up to my room. I've got to get my head back on straight. I am still maintaining my weight loss, but I want to stop the thoughtless eating. Trying to make sure this train does not get derailed!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Epic Fail

Trying to run the morning after you donate a pint of blood = EPIC FAIL. Ok, not quite epic, but I STRUGGLED through 3 miles. I ran 9 last Saturday. I think if I would have pushed myself even 1/4 mile more, someone would've been using the smelling salts behind the desk (I'm just assuming they have some!). Bright side? Because the demand for blood is so great this time of year I earned 500 points at the New York Blood Center Donor Advantage program, which equals a $25 gift card! I think I may have found a new way to supplement my piddly income!

But honestly, I've been giving blood since I am 18 years old and I do it because it costs me nothing and it really does help others desperately in need. It doesn't hurt either that there are Lorna Doones on the snack table after donating!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why I Took That First Step

Unfortunately, Tuesday nights are one of my nights to chauffer the kids to all of their activities. I head to the high school to drop my son off for jazz band rehearsal at 7pm, go back home to bring my daughter to dance for 7:45pm, sit around at the studio for an hour and then when she's done, head back to the h.s. to pick up Charlie (Jr.) at 9pm from jazz band. This past Tuesday my husband stayed home from work so I could go into the city with my girlfriend to see Nate and he could do all of that running around. So, I don't get to see Biggest Loser the night it's on. Luckily, no one ever ruins it for me the next day talking about it on Facebook or whatever. I don't have a DVR, so thank goodness for 'Free on Demand' from my cable company!

This week was my favorite episode of the Biggest Loser season--- THE MARATHON!! It is alwasy SO inspiring to see people who, just a short time earlier, were 50, 75 or even 100 pounds heavier, now racing in a 26.2 mile course. Some of them didn't have the strength or endurance to even WALK a mile when they started their journey, and now they are running! Back in May of 2009, while watching Tara Costa in season 7 run the marathon, my husband asked me a question, and I'll never be able to express how grateful I am to him for asking it. He said "Do you ever think you'd want to do that?" My response was "Yeah. I mean, what an accomplishment that is." It's kinda like a bucket list item, COMPLETING A MARATHON. Then Charlie said that if I ever decided to do a marathon, he would do it with me. That short, innocent conversation was a catalyst that sparked my desire to lose the weight I have been battling ONCE AND FOR ALL. 

At my nephew Adam's wedding, 7/17/09- my before shot

I started my weight-loss journey, finally, on August 17, 2009. I didn't start running until March of 2010, after I had lost some weight and I wasn't THAT afraid of having a heart attack. Charlie would  be my biggest cheerleader. I couldn't even run 1/2 a lap when I started training. To increase the distance I could run, I would keep adding 1/2 a lap. I remember reporting to Charlie what I had accomplished in a workout. I can remember how incredibly far 3/4 of a mile felt, and when I finally ran an entire mile, with Charlie by my side, how emotional achieving that goal made me. When we got back in the car from coming off the track, I looked over at Charlie and asked him if he was proud of me (for having run a mile). He looked right at me, with tears in his eyes, and said "I was proud of you when you started." This is the man I married. Having his support on this rocky road has meant everything to me.

our 1st 5k together- 9/11/10
So when it was time to finally sit down and watch this week's BL episode, I wanted Charlie next to me to watch it too. This season's marathon was the best marathon episode EVER!! I don't know if it's because I now run and I understand the mental strength as well as the physical endurance it takes to run or because I can actually visualize myself running one now, but this marathon had both me AND my husband crying. I will probably go back and watch that episode several times because it is THAT inspiring. I was so sad for Joe when Dr. Huizenga pulled him off the course. He wanted to finish SO badly. I was so happy for Ramon for winning (and that John DIDN'T!) and getting a spot in the final 3. But I don't think anything can compare to the emotion evoked when Coach Mike and then Debbie and Johnny crossed that finish line in the dark. I was so proud of them. They weren't looking to win or set any records, they just wanted to finish. Three people in their 60's finishing a 26.2 mile HORRENDOUS course. For starters, does any marathon put the runners through a sand storm? AND, I didn't see any of them with an iPod for music AND there wasn't ANY scenery to look at to pass the time! I don't know, I guess I would need some distractions to keep me out of my head so much.

I'm not there yet. I could definitely finish a marathon, but I want to run a marathon. I'm more than a third of the way to that goal. I plan on running a half-marathon next year. I'm not sure if I can tackle a marathon as well, but I definitely want to run one in 2013. Charlie hasn't been training with me. He didn't run the 10k I did this year. I'm not sure if he really wants to run a marathon or not now, but that's not going to stop me from setting my goals and achieving them, and I know he'll still be cheering me on.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Could Be Considered a Grand Slam???

On Tuesday, I went to NYC with my girlfriend to The Nate Berkus Show. The weather was so-so, a little drizzly, but unseasonably warm for a December day, which was nice. We got into the city early to enjoy the sights for a little bit before heading over to CBS Studios. We walked past Macy's Herald Square to enjoy the Christmas windows and through Times Square to do some people-watching.

A Macy's window display

After that we stopped for a drink at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. and relaxed. We then took a cab to the studio to stand in line for about an hour before we were coralled inside to wait some more.

We had pretty good seats and LOVED the fact that the studio was decked out for Christmas. Donna and I were hoping that was a good sign for some audience gifts!

Donna and I in the audience
Christmas trees in Nate's studio

Christina Ferrare was a guest for several segments of the show. She co-hosted The Home Show and The Home and Family Show on ABC many years ago. She demonstrated several of her favorite easy entertaining tips. I was REALLY hoping for the food processor she used to make her bean dip! No such luck. However, Nate showed off his favorite table settings and there was a beautiful flower arrangement adorning the table. He then gave us all a $75 gift card to Teleflora! YAY! Then, Christina helped bring attention to many dogs that need good adoptive homes. A representative from the ASPCA was there and Nate presented her with a donation from Petco and we all got a $25 gift card as well! Molly will be so happy this Christmas!

After that, there was an expert on frugal fashion finds and she bought 2 women outfits from head-to-toe for under $25 each! One woman had a faux fur coat on that cost $.50!!! Finally, the beauty editor from Self magazine was there to educate us on some beauty hangover tips. She had the entire table covered with beauty products like toothpaste, eye cream, lotions and the Clarisonic Facial Cleaning System. Nate then told the audience we were all going home with a beauty rescue basket! We got the $200 Clarisonic!! YAY  ME! Goodbye fine lines and wrinkles!! Maybe then people will stop assuming I'm a grandma? Doubt it!

OOH! AAH! A prize package valued at $370!!

So, my talk-show swag dry-spell has finally come to an end! Now I have plenty of fun products to pamper myself with after the craziness of the holidays is over with! You think that the high from our goodie bag would have been enough and we would have called it a night, but we decided to hang out, see some more sights and grab dinner. We headed down to Rockefeller Center to see the most famous and beautiful Christmas tree (in my opinion) in all the world. Fifth Avenue is a holiday light spectacular and it makes you feel like a kid again. I really wish my husband and kids were with me to see it. I think we'll be making a trip in together (if I can convince my husband) between Christmas and New Year's. There really is nothing like New York at Christmas-time. I could do it every year. With the hustle and bustle of this season, it's nice to just stop and gaze at the wonder around you; soak it all in and appreciate the simple yet glorious things in our world.



The most spectacular Christmas tree ever.



Monday, December 5, 2011

Hopefully a Homerun with Nate Berkus

It seems I am batting .000 when it comes to hitting the jackpot at talk-show tapings. I haven't been to many, which is sorta sad since I live so close to NYC and have the opportunity to view several. Anyway, when you watch these shows and see what some of the audience members are walking away with, you want to scream. Also, it would be nice to see a celebrity thrown in there if there isn't going to be any swag.

Back in '97 I got to go to a taping of Regis and Kathie Lee. OF COURSE it was in February when it's wedding week! We saw some couple get married, (Kathie Lee serenaded them), and no luck getting our number picked by the trivia contestant. STRIKEOUT #1.

Not long after that my sister-in-law and I went to a taping of the Rosie O'Donnell show. It was her first season. I couldn't tell you who was on the show, that's how memorable they were. When it was all said and done, we each caught a Koosh Ball (remember she used to shoot them into the audience?) and got a travel size bottle of Listerine, because that year she was voted "Least Kissable" in a poll done by Scope mouthwash. STRIKEOUT #2.

Fast forward to last year when my husband and I went to the premier season's second day of taping for The Nate Berkus Show. Now, Nate's been around a while. He's frickin' backed by Oprah herself! But, I guess product public relations departments wanted to see if he had any staying power. He did a few segments on picking paint colors and shopping, so you think maybe we'd get a Sherwin Williams gift card or something?!? NADA! STRIKEOUT #3.

I think I'd be pulled from the batting line-up if I truly was playing on a team. But, I may be down, but I'm not out. Tomorrow I'm going BACK to see Nate Berkus with my girlfriend Donna. I have been watching a little bit this season, and I have to say, his audience members have been LUCKY BASTARDS!! One show Guy Fieri co-hosted (LOVE Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!). They walked away with a professional Kitchen-Aid standmixer (I COVET that!), a professional Vitamix blender (it gets so hot you can make soup in it!), gift cards for wine glasses, etc. That prize package was probably worth around $1,500!!

So, my gf thinks that since the taping we're going to is about 2 weeks before Christmas, we might hit it big. I am not holding my breath!! I just love the opportunity to go into the city, even if the forecast is crummy. My husband actually took the day off so I could go and he'll do the shuttling the kids to jazz band and dance for me. It will be a nice "girl's day out." Maybe we'll go see the tree at Rockefeller Center if we're up to it. It's not that fun walking around Manhattan with an umbrella, especially during the holiday season. Can't wait to see how it pans out!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Look How Far I've Come!

1 hour, 31 minutes, 31 seconds-1049 calories burned-- OOH RAH!
There was a time, only a little over a year and a half ago, when I couldn't run more than 1/8th of a mile. Today I ran 9 miles. I ran 8 two weeks ago, so I just took the speed down a tenth of a mile and decided today I would run 9. That voice in my head tried to tell me "You can run 6 today. An hour of running is a good workout. You don't NEED to run 9. That half-marathon you're working towards isn't until October..." She only said that a few times, but I won out. I just listened to my music, watched MTV (the gym got 8 cable channels back for the aerobic equipment, better than nothing!) and plugged away. I definitely do the numbers game, breaking everything up, to see how far I've gone, trying not to concentrate TOO much on how much I have LEFT to go. My favorite part, other than hitting the stop button and jumping onto the rails? Seeing people come and go on my neighboring treadmills as I go at it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Solemn Vow?

Ok, honesty is the best policy, right? I haven't done very well this past week. I ate more than I should, but in my defense, Aunt Flo has come for a visit. I have exercised every day, though, so that helped keep the damage to what it was. My problem is, and always has been, after dinner, wanting something sweet, then salty... I need to go back to my earlier strategy which was not eating after 7 pm. Starting today!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Pandamonium

I am one of seven children. My parents were good Catholics! The birth order is 1 boy (52 years old), 5 girls (51, 49, 46, 43, 40 (that's me, the baby of the girls)) and 1 boy (35). My brother John was a senior in high school when my brother Ralph was born (they're named after our grandfathers). Needless to say, being that my mom was 41 when he was born, and there was 5 years between us, he was a "surprise!" The 2 boys live 20 minutes away from our parent's home, while the 5 girls all live within 10 minutes. Most Sundays, you'll find 4, 5 or 6 of the 7 kids (with THEIR kids) at our parents house, having rolls and bagels after 11:30am mass. Shockingly, we all get along pretty well, almost all of the time. Let me put it to you this way, we haven't ever NOT talked to one of our siblings. I think most of us are too scared of confrontation, so that's probably why!

This is back in the day! Probably 1990. That's me in front, 2nd from the left, with what my brother refers to as my "Flock of Seagulls" hairdo!
We're a big (mostly) Italian family, with some Puerto Rican thrown in thanks to my Grandpa John, who came from a town outside of San Juan. He lived with us until he passed away in 1980, but I learned zero Spanish from him, :( His "stuffing" recipe is what we have had every single year that I can remember. (I use the word stuffing loosely because other than the fact that it gets stuffed inside the turkeys (we need 2), it bares no resemblance to a traditional stuffing). The recipe has to be 70 years old, at least. Let's just say that this stuffing is an acquired taste, and it's also not too easy on the eyes. I am with my husband almost 21 years and last year was the 1st time he tried it, that's how unappealing it looks.

See what I mean?
So, it has all sorts of chicken innards (Dad has since omitted the liver since we pretty much ALL pick it out), ham, green pepper, onion, green olives, capers, crushed tomatoes, Sofrito and the wet, squished bread that a lot of stuffings use. When you put it all together, magic. It's delicious. When my husband and I went to my friend's wedding in New Orleans, I had gumbo or jambalaya there (it was 11 years ago, you expect me to remember which one? LOL) and it tasted VERY similar to this stuffing. That doesn't surprise me since Creole cooking is a blend of French and Spanish influences.

This stuffing is what we all look forward to on Thanksgiving. My husband is the only in-law that has not been converted. HOWEVER, my mom takes the leftover stuffing and turkey and makes an out-of-this-world turkey soup with it and he LOVES it. He just CAN NOT get over how it looks in its original state. The rule in our family (except my younger brother) is we all are at Thanksgiving. No switching off every other year with your in-laws allowed. My mother-in-law didn't appreciate that too much, but, Christmas Eve was always their holiday and I never veered from that schedule, so she became ok with it.

When we get together for Thanksgiving there's a few less because my brother celebrates with his in-laws. Anyhow, when we celebrate our Christmas, another day agreed upon the week after Christmas (usually 1/1), the grand total, counting my parents, 7 kids, 6 in-laws, 14 grandchildren and my niece's fiance, there's 30 of us. Insane, right? Last night I told my sisters that when our nieces and nephews start having children we're going to have to have a raffle to see who gets to celebrate Thanksgiving (or Christmas) each year. I pictured us all in a room, holding little red tickets, an emcee at the front, calling out the lucky ticket numbers...people going home crying because they'll be home that year. So funny! Or, we can have Thanksgiving together, but different seatings, like they do at restaurants for Mother's Day brunch. Half of us eat at 3pm and the other half at 7pm. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!  
This is the "adult" table, with just some of the noshes. There's a young adult table next to it and then the teen/kids table is in the kitchen. My sister's 1st floor is pretty much converted into a mess hall for the day!
We have such a good time together. I always wanted a big family because I have such incredible memories of growing up in mine. I thought I'd have 6 kids, but once I had my son and daughter, both somewhat difficult pregnancies (weight-related issues), plus realizing how expensive children really are (the cost of living on long Island doesn't help), we decided we were done. However, my kids have grown up with their cousins, so they're almost siblings. The holidays may be chaotic with all of the cooking, the cleaning, the organizing and arranging, (the expense!), but none of us would have it any other way. We're just grateful to be together, all of us, one more year.

Playing Taboo with the crowd. Lots of tears from laughing shed while playing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Solemn Vow For the Next 6 Weeks...

I REFUSE to gain any weight this holiday season. I may not LOSE any weight, but I am determined to remain the same weight and make celebrating the new year a truly joyous occasion. Then I can concentrate on losing the last 10 pounds. I have been fluctuating between 147-ish and 153-ish. So, I decided to weigh in today, before the chaos of Thanksgiving, to see just where I want to be January 1st.
Here's where I am at, 11/23/11, 5:30 am.

So, there it is. I've got the exercising down no problem. I love it. I'm at the gym at least an hour a day. It's the glorious desserts that I and other members of the family make this time of year that I seem to have no power over! Like, tonight I'm making my (ok, Nestle's) No Bake Peanut Butter Bars for tomorrow. http://www.meals.com/Recipes/No-Bake-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Bars.aspx?recipeid=32005 They HAVE to be cut up and put on a tray BEFORE I go to my sister's house... Must remember to chew gum whenever I'm preparing food!!! That seems to be my best line of defense! I'll fill you in next week on whether I was successful or not!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


"Gratitude is not the same as giving thanks. It comes from a deeper place that knows the story could have ended differently, and often does." - Heather Lende

My family has SO much to be grateful for this year. Last Thanksgiving my brother said grace and he asked God to be with all of the doctors, nurses, technicians and aids that were going to be taking care of our mom while she went through her surgery for bladder cancer. She made it through that surgery, where she had a complete hysterectomy and removal of her bladder. That was the first hurdle. Then she began chemotherapy, "just in case." She became so ill, as many chemo patients do, that she really wanted to throw in the towel and take her chances with what might still have been lurking inside her. We all managed to keep her going and got her through her agonizing course of treatment. That was the second hurdle.

Right after finishing her last treatment, Mom was in agony. We got her to the hospital to find out that she had a perforated ulcer and needed emergency surgery, with only a 50-50 chance of coming out of it alive. Thank God she did. She has been doing well ever since. We just continue to pray that her CT scans come back clean. My parents even had colonoscopies this month that turned up nothing. They were told to come back in 5 years, when they are 81. After the prep for this last one, they both said they think they might just take their chances!

Mom, at Relay For Life 2011, the sole reason for our team "Dorothy's Determination"

Now that Mom seems to be on the mend, my dad has been having issues. He's had an irregular heart beat for some time now, but it's gotten worse to where something has to be done. He got through his stress test, so he has no blocked arteries. That means he won't have to endure bypass surgery, thank God. He had a cardiac catheterization and his dr. was able to pinpoint where the irregularity is coming from. Thankfully, it's stemming from only one area. So, on December 15th, he will be going in for an atrial ablation. It's similar to the catheterization, but they go in with electrodes and try to destroy the abnormal heart tissue causing the rhythm disorder. If everything goes well, he'll be home that day.

So, this Thanksgiving, we're still sitting on pins and needles. But we know this year could have turned out SO differently. We'll be grateful to be sitting at the Thanksgiving table once again, all 30 of us, giving thanks to God for all of the many blessings He has bestowed on us this year.
Mom and dad at Mom's 75th birthday party last year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tooting My Own Horn

I RAN EIGHT MILES TODAY!!! And I did it in 1:20:54, on the treadmill. (I always feel like I have to put in that disclaimer.) I ran 7 last week, so I needed to add some distance. I'm kinda sorta following Hal Higdon's Half-Marathon plan. I am definitely setting my sights on a half-marathon in October called the Diva's Half-Marathon. They do them all over the country and they look like the biggest party ever! They hand out tiaras and feather boas along the race route, a fireman is at the finish line to hand you a rose and a glass of champange, and the finish medal is AWESOME! If you're interested in finding a Diva event near you, the website is http://www.runlikeadiva.com/. I can't wait now!

The medal has a spot for your picture and it spins!

Monday, November 14, 2011

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

This was always drilled into my head by my mother growing up, and even still to this day! "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Well, maybe that's a little harsh in this circumstance; maybe it's more "Think before you speak." Twice in one day, I tell you! I don't know if any of you have noticed, but I am PREMATURELY gray. I've looked back at old pictures and I've pin-pointed exactly when I started graying- AFTER my son finished kindergarten and the beginning of homework and school projects! So, I'm gray going on 10 years now. It's hereditary. I was one of the lucky ones- my sister started graying in high school. Thanks Dad!

High School Graduation Day- 1989

Today, it started at the gym. I was on the arc trainer next to my girlfriend from high school, chatting along. Another woman I know from karate, church and the gym comes over, says hello and then asks me if Connie is my daughter! I was shocked. That either means I look very old or Connie just got the compliment of a lifetime! I was a bit offended and told Fran that no, she was my friend and no, I'm not a grandma. She said don't be mad at her, we just look a lot alike. So, couldn't she have asked if Connie was my sister, for God's sake? I hope I wasn't too harsh on her, but it was just an ignorant thing to say. Kinda like when you ask a heavy woman when she's due...(put my foot in my mouth once doing that and I will NEVER do that again!).

So, I leave the gym and go pick up the little one I babysit at pre-k. We head out with the stroller for a walk since it was absolutely gorgeous out for mid-November. We come up to a house where our favorite pug Jack is always waiting for us to greet him. His "mom" and 2 little "brothers" are outside enjoying the weather as well. We had a nice conversation about the kids and pre-school, etc. She then asks me if Kaitlyn is my only grandchild! FREAKING UGH!!! No, no grandchildren for me. My kids are 13 and 15 and I'd probably kill them if they made me a grandmother at this point in time!

Me in NYC enjoying the complimentary fluffy robe!
 So my question is, does gray hair automatically make you old? Looking like a grandma? I used to dye my hair when I didn't have to, when I wanted it auburn or black. Now it's too much upkeep and an added expense I just can't afford. Three of my four sisters dye their hair- two are actually blondes now. They all would look like me if they didn't. My husband doesn't care one way or the other. He's always loved me fat, thin, gray, brunette... Would it bother you enough to dye your hair?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Miss Molly

Is she not gorgeous?
I got to spend a lot of time with my baby yesterday. She sometimes gets a bit overlooked with the hustle and bustle of every day life. But no dog ever seems to be happy with the amount of attention they receive. Molly could never play enough and then when you tell her to go lay down she looks at you like you're the worst person on earth. So then she wants to back her ass up and sit on you. If she could climb into my husband I think she would, kinda like that scene from 'Empire Strikes Back' where Luke gets stuffed into that hairy thing to stay warm.

See what I mean? Oh, but she's really not on the couch because one paw is still on the ground.

 Molly's not a little lap dog. She thinks she is. Her mom is a boxer and her dad was a Great Dane (poor Scooby passed away this year). Belle and Scooby were "brother" and "sister," living under the same roof, and they just couldn't keep 160 pound Scooby away from Belle when it was her special time. So Molly was a product of their "love." We brought her home when she was 6 weeks old. She is now almost 6 years old and weighs 90 pounds. She loves to back up and sit on you, like you don't notice. Before you know it, her paws are in your lap and then her head is on your shoulder.  If only your chest wasn't constricted ('Money Pit' reference) and you could breathe, things would be fine.

Molly's been quite a handful since she came into our lives. She missed her litter mates terribly and cried forever the first few days she was home. Then, when she was not even 2 months old, she pulled the sock off my 4 year old niece's foot and swallowed it. A trip to the vet to get her to throw it up cost us $100. Would you believe exactly 2 weeks later she did it again? This time she found one of my son's socks in the couch. I had attempted to teach her the "drop it!" command. This just made her swallow the sock quicker to then inhale all of the treats on the floor! After another $100 trip to the vet, she lived quite a long time on a leash. She just dragged it everywhere she went and if she was about to do something wrong we could stop her with a step on the leash.

She's mellowed out just a bit since getting older. We now leave NO socks laying around and she always has plenty of toys to choose from. Her favorite things? Molly knows the sound of an empty peanut butter jar from a mile away. With her unusually long tongue (seriously, we're talking giving Gene Simmons a run for his money here), she cleans out that jar in a heart beat. She also sits in front of you while you're eating yogurt, drooling, until you give her the empty container to clean out. Molly can shake your hand and give you a high five for a treat. She's incredibly smart and asinine all at the same time.

Last year, she had a cyst on her tail rupture and I swear she was going to hemorrhage. My son woke us up after seeing all of the blood in the hallway. It was a frigging crime scene. She would wag her tail and blood would be splayed on the walls and cabinets like a Jackson Pollock painting. The drive to the vet at 2am was pure fun. There's my husband in the back of the van trying to keep a towel wrapped around her tail, while Molly, terrified of car trips, jumped from seat to seat.
This was just the bloodbath in the kitchen!

Can you sense the humiliation? She's saying "You're gonna put this on Facebook, aren't you?"

 That visit, with the surgery and aftercare, cost us $1,500. She came home with the dreaded cone of shame. Thankfully the cyst wasn't cancerous and she healed well.

Of course the bandage fell off after only an hour or two at home!

ANYWAY, yesterday I spent the day giving Molly a bath to rid her of her fleas. It was unseasonably warm, so it wasn't that torturous for her. She's just too big to put in the bathtub and I'm not taking her in the car by myself to get her groomed! I made sure I had plenty of pitchers of warm water on hand to warm her up after the sudsing. Then I had to struggle with her to put on her new flea collar. After that, I had to clean out her "house" (it's a ginormous crate that takes up like 1/4 of my daughter's room), spray it with flea spray, put in new bedding, vacuum the living room and spray it down. Hopefully that's the end of them. If not, it's time to bring out the big guns and the bombs. All in all I think Molly enjoyed her spa day.

Lounging in the sun after her day of beauty.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hoarding Much??

Thank GOD that Katie (Runs For Cookies) warned us all about the upcoming peanut shortage!! Apparently, the south had a drought (90 days+ of 90* or more temps. for Central Texas this year!), and that affected peanut crops. Lower yields means shortages on the shelves and higher prices. A few weeks ago, Brian Williams from NBC's Nightly News spread the word that peanut product's prices could increase as much as 30-40%!!! My family LOVES peanut butter. We go through at least 1 regular sized jar a week. My husband eats peanut butter toast every morning because it's one of the only things he can eat that will give him lasting energy so he won't get the "low blood sugar shakes." The kids (mine and those I babysit) eat pb & j quite often, too. Not to mention I enjoy pb, especially baking with it!!

So, I did the only rational thing anyone (including Katie) would do! Every time I went in a store I bought at least 1 jar of the pb on sale. The last few weeks Planters brand has been my BEST FRIEND!! They've been either 3/$5 or 2/$3 at the little market or Walgreen's. If they were out, I got a raincheck! This coming week CVS has Jif 3/$5!!! Guess who will be hitting them up a couple of times??? Again. if they don't have it I'll get a raincheck and buy it when the prices become astronomical. I'll giggle when they have to take $2 or $3 off the price of each jar!!!

Here's my stash so far! That's 15 jars, almost a 4 month supply.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Loving Me Some Tastefully Simple

My loot!
I hosted another TS party last month to help my niece out. She's a consultant, doing this on top of working at 3 different dance studios to save for her wedding that's almost 10 months away. Anyway, if you've never heard of them, they have great food products that you either add 1 or 2 ingredients to prepare or items that you just open and enjoy. I went to my first party a few years ago and love everything I've purchased. What's nice about a TS party is that it's like a cocktail party where you get to eat, drink and shop. The items are all very affordable, most less than $10, unlike the skincare/food storage/food prep/jewelry home parties that are out there. I love to entertain and cook and bake for my family. Sometimes I have the time to start from scratch, but other times I just want to add some water and butter and have a foolproof perfect cake!
My free plus half-price items!!

This is the perfect time of year to get all of these goodies since the holidays are rapidly approaching! ONLY TWO MONTHS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! *GULP* How the heck did that happen???
Sunday breakfast- Cranberry Orange Scones and Oh My Chai tea! Perfect!
Geez, maybe I should sell this stuff!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not Much Going On...

It's been business as usual around here. Getting up at 5:30 am to get the high school kid out the door for 6:30 am and waking the girl up at that time to get her out at 7:15 am. Then it's either babysit the munchkins and shuttling them around or hitting the gym, running errands and cleaning house on my days off. I frigged up my hip during my interval run on Tuesday, (maybe 7.0 at 5 X 400 and then continuing to run between 6.0-6.5 for a grand total of 4.5 miles was a little too ambitious???), so I've been on the arc trainer since then. I get the BEST workout on that thing!!! Yesterday, I went for an hour and here's what I did:

That's 3.96 miles and 1,524 calories burned. This is on the Level 1 Weight Loss Program, with my weight entered. Forgive the suckiness of the picture- I wanted to take the picture quickly before anyone realized what I was doing!

The sweat was POURING off of me. I even had a small puddle under the machine. *ick.* Today I think I'm just going to pop in a Leslie Sansone DVD and walk for "5 miles."  I know for damn sure I am NOT walking a 12-minute mile while I'm doing it, but I AM wearing a 2-lb weight belt and between 2 and 4 pound hand/wrist weights during the workout. Using the Walk Away The Pounds dvds is really how I lost the majority of my weight (a FEW times- insert sad face here!). It's easy, cheap, convenient and you can modify it to your fitness level, which includes kicking it up a notch with the weights.

This is just my Leslie DVDs.
The money I spent on exercise DVDs is the best money I probably ever spent, regarding health and fitness. I have been exercising at home forever. I guilted my mom into buying Richard Simmons' Deal-A-Meal off an informercial back in the 80's with his Sweating to the Oldies VHS tapes. I have one of The Firm's workout packages on VHS with the 2 piece "Fanny Lifter" (step). That is also an EXCELLENT workout. I also LOVE my Gilad Step Aerobics DVDs. Remember Bodies in Motion that filmed in Hawaii? Gilad is H-O-T!! I'm not proud of this, but I have sunk so low as to buy Greer Childers' Bodyflex program off of HSN. (I'm not embarrassed by the HSN part- I LOVE shopping, so shopping at home is a bonus!) Look that one up when you have a chance. You supposedly could melt the fat off of your body just by this ridiculous deep breathing while you flex your muscles. The Lion pose is the funniest- it's even on YouTube!

Now picture a fat person doing this with 2 toddlers and a dog running around her! Oh, yeah, and throw in my husband laying on the couch laughing hysterically at EVERYTHING I was doing!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Should Have Taken a Picture

Went to the gym in the hour and a half between putting the 6 year old boy I babysit on the bus and picking up his sister at pre-k. Today I worked out on the arc trainer. I LOVE that machine. I pretty much run on the treadmill and use the arc trainer every other day. The burn you achieve on the arc trainer is like no other. So, today, I decided to do an hour straight on "Program 1- Weight Loss." 
This is how cute I look on it, too! NOT!

I can usually do 1.8 miles in 30 minutes at that level. So today I threw down a challenge to myself. Get 4 miles done in an hour. The sweat was pouring off me. I see a guy on the arc trainer occasionally with a puddle underneath him, and that makes me gag. I wasn't THAT bad. My shirt was drenched, though. ANYWAY, I fell short of my goal with 3.96 miles, but it said I burned 1,296 calories! That sweaty guy usually gets those kind of numbers! Go Linda! I wish I had my camera so I could have taken a picture of the display! (Now I'll try not to eat back all of those calories!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I NEVER Thought I'd See The Day!!!

Ok, my husband is a skinny-minnie. He has a "problem" GAINING weight. At 6' tall he weighs a whopping 150 pounds, with all of his clothes on and NOT after a visit to the restroom. ASIDE: Don't all women do that? I weigh myself naked, after visiting the bathroom and possibly removing all my jewelry. Too bad my scale is in the dining room under the buffet. That's why I weigh-in at 5:30 am when everyone is still asleep and it's dark! ANYWAY, Charlie wears a W30 L34. They are loose on him, but I can barely find them in the store, let alone search for a W29 L34! Just for kicks, I took a pair of his pants from the pile of clean laundry waiting to be put away, and tried them on. THEY FRICKIN' FIT!!!!!!

You can tell they're his with all of the extra material at the bottom!

I always told my husband he needed to gain weight so it wouldn't be so damn difficult to one day weigh LESS than him. But, I never thought I'd get into his pants, LITERALLY! Now I weigh less than him and I can wear his clothes. I am in SHOCK! I'll have to get a picture of me in them!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Day, New Month, New Goals

Well, I guess I should go back to my September list and see what hasn't been crossed off and add that to my October goal list. I started out all gung ho and once school started and the running around began my enthusiasm kind of fizzled out. This is what was left on the old list:

1). Clean upstairs rec "room."  10/2/11
2). Sort through and organize Charlie's closet.
3). Sort through and organize CJ's closet.
4). Sort through and organize Chelsea's closet.
5). Sort through and organize Chelsea's desk.
6). Spray paint coffee table.
7). Spray paint end table.

Gee, it seems like I didn't get very much accomplished since there was only 11 things on the list. I did go through the closets and take out all clothes that don't fit or aren't worn anymore and I now have several bags to donate to charity. Now I just have to organize the crap that's left, like games and things I'm saving from the kids' younger years. The spray painting has to wait for a day when I'm not babysitting AND good weather. Those don't always happen at exactly the same time! So, I guess I'll tackle #1 on the list today! Keeping up with the fall clean-up on the yard should probably take some kind of priority this month, as well.

There were some fitness goals in my September post that never made "the list." The first was to run the Smith Point 5k in under 30 minutes. Because I thought I would be running the 10k a week later without my music, I attempted the 5k without it as well. MISTAKE. All I heard was my breathing and the voice in my head telling me I couldn't do it. By some miracle I came in at 30:36, which is under a 10 minute mile, my personal best. It still irks me, though.

The second fitness goal for September was to run the Hampton Bays Lions Club 10k under 1:10:00. I had run 6 miles on my 40th birthday (the 13th) in 1:04:39, but that was at the track, a nice flat course (and without the .2!). When I considered the bridge I was going to have to conquer, I thought 70 minutes might be too optimistic, so I was aiming for under 1:15:00. Who would have thought that "No Headphones" on the registration form doesn't actually mean no headphones? I brought my iPod just in case, and I'm so glad I did! Everyone else had theirs, so I ran with my beloved playlist blasting in my ears. I also had my new Forerunner that kept me on track for the pace I was aiming for. I came in at 1:04:09!!! Under my 6 mile run, WITH the .2 miles added AND the bridge!!! I'm still in awe of it!

So, October fitness goals? Well, there are no races on the horizon yet. I would like to do a run that's on the same course as the Smith Point Bridge race and kick that 30:00 wall's ass, but my husband doesn't want me to do it. I still don't have a clear understanding of the reason why. I did run 7 miles (on the treadmill- always need that disclaimer) on Thursday (the 29th), so I'm thinking my goal shall be to do an 8 mile run, either on the treadmill or outside. I'm working on getting ready for a half-marathon next year!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A New Record!

I ran 7 miles today! Of course it was on the treadmill because the weather has been so horrible here. My husband will probably not be impressed because he feels the treadmill is easier than running outside, but this is still a MAJOR accomplishment for me. You know what else? I did it in 1:10:30! Another 3/4 of a mile in only 6 minutes more than my 10k time! I guess that might be comparing apples to oranges since the 10k was on an outside course... UGH! I should just relish in the fact that I ran 7 miles and stop being a Negative Nelly!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Amazing Anniversary!

I kind of missed a few important details on September 17th's post. Well, I really wanted to address my 40th birthday on its own, and this week in September is just so jam-packed with days of distinction that I have to pay attention to each separately. So, September 17th was our wedding anniversary. 16 years ago I married my best friend and we've been very lucky throughout our marriage. We hardly ever disagree and we never fight. I mean, we don't even raise our voices, really. I truly believe I've hit the jackpot.

We are very compatible but we still have our own interests, like he loves video games (I just don't get the appeal) and I can watch the same movie over and over and over... (watched 'Sleepless in Seattle' for probably the 150th time this morning!). I think the most important factor in our relationship is that we love to laugh and make each other laugh. My husband has to be the funniest, quick-witted person ever. Thankfully, we've passed that trait on to our children and the dinner table is extremely entertaining, to say the least.

Our anniversary was not celebrated with a romantic dinner by candlelight or a night out on the town. Charlie had to work from 8am to 6pm and since his job buys lunch on Saturdays he just wasn't hungry for some Omaha Steaks' filet mignon. We didn't even exchange gifts because we wound up going into the city and seeing Mary Poppins with my parents and 2 of my sisters on the 18th. We've been spending money like water, so we had to let it just be.

I did, however, do something momentous on our anniversary. I participated in the Hampton Bays Lions Club "Over the Bridge" 10k! My very first 10k. I was so nervous running it alone, but I had my Garmin with me to keep me motivated and I made a new friend, Donna! My family makes fun of me that I talk to everybody and anybody, including women waiting on the bathroom line at a McDonald's in NYC. But she came and sat with me on the bus from the parking lot to the start line, so how do you NOT talk to someone who is sitting with you? It's plain RUDE if you don't, I'll tell you! I brought my iPod just in case, and I was able to use it!! I don't know why the registration form said "NO HEADPHONES ALLOWED" if it's not enforced, but I'm so glad it wasn't!! I was ecstatic with my results:

            116           834  Linda                 1:04:09            0:10:21               40F              Shirley
I came in 116th out of 136 participants, and 16th out of 21 women from 40-49. Usually the age groups are in 5 year increments, but not this race. I would have been 9th out of 12 women in the 40-44 category. I can't believe I ran 6.2 miles in less time than I ran 6 miles on my 40th birthday!

I absolutely LOVE my Forerunner. It kept me right on track!!
I don't know how I would have done without this little gadget. I felt so good when I finished, and Donna was waiting at the finish line for me! Isn't that sweet? I wish my family could have been there, but I called my husband right after I crossed the finish line with the great news. After really thinking about the course and that bridge, I was going to be content with a time of 1:15:00! Now I want to do another 5k on the same course as the Smith Point Bridge 5k with my handy, dandy toy. I want to break the 30:00 barrier!!!

Tuesday, the 20th, was my husband's 45th birthday. Since he had to be in work late I made him apple cinnamon stuffed pancakes. I felt bad not having anything special for him to open (like a new MLB PS3 game), but he likes if I don't spend money. I don't know if he knows it or not, but I'm having his family and my parents over for dinner on Sunday to celebrate his special day. Maybe I'll let him be surprised!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It Came and Went

So, it happened. I turned 40 on Tuesday. Let's start things out by saying even though I threw my husband a little family get-together for his 40th (nearly 5 years ago!), I didn't want him to do anything for mine. We had a pretty costly vacation in NYC last month and we're going back in to the city tomorrow to see 'Mary Poppins' on Broadway, so I didn't want him spending any more money. My husband is a worry-wart when it comes to money. He never feels he makes enough, we have enough, there will be enough... you get the picture. However, he is the most generous person you'll ever meet. He loves taking care of me and the kids, especially. So, why did I think he would listen and not do anything?

Well, since he works Tuesday nights and he wouldn't be able to take me out for my 40th, he planned to take me to dinner on Sunday, the 11th. Our favorite local place is Ding How. It's not known for it's wonderful service, but the food is great and so is the price! Anyway, it was sold last year and there's been some changes, namely our hot, sexy Asian, Kenny is no longer there. However, the main change is that the restaurant goes by the name Tony's Asian. This didn't dawn on me until I saw the credit card bill 4 days BEFORE the party. I thought someone had stolen our credit card. I was so sad that I had ruined the surprise. I figured once my husband checked the bills he'd see it and realize I knew. But he never checked the bills. So I kept my mouth closed.

At 5pm, we drove the 2 minutes to the restaurant and I tried my best to give a performance worthy of an Academy Award. I mean, just because there was a charge on the card, it didn't mean ALL of my family was going to be there to celebrate with us. But, everyone was there and I tried to pretend I was shocked. I guess I didn't do a very good job because after it was over my husband wanted to know how I knew, so I told him it was the bill. I hated telling him because I didn't want him to feel bad since he tried so hard to keep it a surprise and his paper trail ruined it. He didn't even tell our KIDS until 5 minutes before we left the house!

I tried to act surprised, but I was more mortified!
We had a great time and everyone was so generous with their gifts for me. I figured that if I got money for my birthday (I know my parents and my f-i-l give us money) that I would get myself a Forerunner. Wouldn't you know that starting on Sunday, Target had the Forerunner 110 on sale for $159?!? So, guess where I went on Monday??? I love it and I got to try it out on Tuesday with a 6 mile run at the track. I set it so it would notify me of my times every 1/4 mile. I took it nice and easy because I wanted to make sure I ran the entire time AND that I finished. Here's what I did the morning of my 40th birthday:
Not too shabby, considering it's the farthest I have ever run outside. Now I wear it on all of my walks with the little ones and I don't have to go on www.mapmywalk.com to figure out my pace (although it was nice to have). I think I'll wear it to the city tomorrow to see how far I walk. Wish I had it on our last trip!!! We walked A LOT!!!

Charlie came home early from work and picked up lunch for us (Subway- Eat Fresh!). I made stuffed zucchini for dinner and then we took the kids to dance and karate. It was an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Tuesday. And the party is over...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Smith Point Bridge 5k For Family Literacy

Yesterday was the big day. Well, not THE big day, but a big day none the less. The weather was nice, but it seemed to quickly heat up when we started running. Stupid us- we didn't warm up before the race because I was on the porta-potty line for a last-minute nervous pee. The worst thing that could happen would be to not be able to finish a race because I had to go! Of course, while on line, I was gabbing with the people around us about the fact that when you got to the front of the potty line, there was a sign saying there were additional bathrooms at the beach pavillion. Shouldn't that sign be at the BACK of the line? Who's going to get off the line, being the next person, to walk a 1/4 of a mile to use the bathroom??? Anyway, one of the guys waiting for a friend said the last stall was empty because the sign was green. Wouldn't you know I opened the door and got an eye-full of a man standing there peeing? Glad it wasn't a poor chick hovering!

So, the race started on time and we were off! My legs felt horrible from not warming up! And we were moving at a pretty decent clip. After going over the bridge and turning around past the visitor's center, times were being called out for the first mile. Before we hit the turn times like "7:10" and "7:20" were being called out. We were going WAY too fast. By the time we got to the 1st mile we were at 9:15, which is still faster than I run. I needed to SLOW DOWN! Going back up and over the bridge helped that happen, big time. It felt like it was getting hotter by the minute! My stomach started to bother me, too. I think I swallow a lot of air when I run. Wouldn't surprise me since I sound like I'm practicing Lamaze when I'm running. People sure can hear me coming!

The last mile was pure torture. My husband started talking to me to get me through it. All I wanted him to do was shut up! I just kept picking a landmark and getting myself to run to it. It really is hard to run without music, for me. It's such a nice distraction! Once I had the finish line in sight I tried to make a final push, but it didn't last very long. We finished at 30:36, 37 seconds shy of my goal of under 30:00. I was so disappointed in myself. All of that negative talk on the course slowed me down and kept me from reaching my goal. I am proud that we ran a 9:51 mile and that we shaved 4:04 off last year's time, though. 30:36 is now my Personal Best.

After that race, I have to reevaluate my goal for the 10k next week, though. A 10:00 mile just is NOT realistic for that distance. I don't even know if an 11:00 mile is now! So, to be safe, I think I will shoot for a finish time of 1:15:00 or under. So, I have to do under a 12:00 mile. I would also like to run the entire race and finish. I'm so anxious! I'm running on my own, without music again. I have to motivate MYSELF to get through this! I think I need to start working on some mantras or cadences or a playlist for my head to stay POSITIVE!!