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Tiaras and Trucks

Monday, January 30, 2012

Losing the Shine

my bissell steam and sweep*

We pulled up the teal carpet with excitement, knowing the promise that hid beneath years of dust and the hazardous tack strips and carpet nails littering the scarred wooden floors.

Having our floors refinished was one of the first projects Ryan and I tackled in our house, though our version of tackling meant calling and hiring someone who wouldn't be likely to let the sander wear through the remaining layers of wood.

For days we wandered back and forth between the addition and the kitchen, moving between our two back doors to avoid the heavy drapes of plastic and untouchable varnish, spending time anywhere but home to breathe without gagging on the fumes.

Refinished and beautifully polished, they were a reminder of the potential lurking within the walls of our work-in-progress old house.

For years I worried about their shine, keeping a static mop in the closet for basic dust issues, a broom for sweeping, and Murphy's Oil Soap for periodic cleanings when I noticed some of the shine fading from their glossy darkness.

Kids brought a whole new dimension to our floors.


A pulverized cheerio settles into the grooves of the floor, the varnish no longer impenatrable.  Sippy cups thrown in gleeful games subtly mar the surface.  Errant crayons smear waxy streaks near the dining room table.

The Murphy's Oil Soap sits neglected, the gleaming surface of my floors a memory like lazy weekend mornings when it didn't matter if a corkscrew was left at the edge of the kitchen counter from the night before.

I've streamlined my cleaning routine: one little magic machine that picks up crumbs and steams the floors into a sanitized surface, warm and clean but lacking the reflective shine and slippery clean of my old stand-by. 

There are moments I miss the shine.  But then I see Dylan trailing behind the steamer, trying to figure out why my path is wet and a little hot and why one of the buttons makes a whirring sound and one does not.

And I remember that there's always more than one way to shine.


Every MONDAY join us…
Write, Post, Link-Up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission to empower, inspire,
and remind
women, parents and children

that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

What gives you that “be enough” feeling?


*This is NOT a sponsored post.  Bissell has no idea who I am or that I'm writing this or that my mom bought me this lovely member of our household as a Christmas gift two years ago.  I just love having sanitized floors in the amount of time it takes to sweep the room.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hats

"Thank you!" Jane breathed, looking back.

"You're welcome."  His dad had talked so much about holding the door Tim could have gotten a doorman over at those new lofts on Seventh.  Picturing himself in one of those red hats, he grinned.

"What's so funny?" she whispered as his eyes searched the rows of wooden booths, making sure there were still seats with optimal viewing available.

"Nothing," he answered.  Doorman hats probably weren't her style.

"You never tell me what you're thinking," she pouted, pulling off her coat to reveal a faded Ohio State t-shirt. 

Confused, he tried to think of what he said to make her mad as the hostess began to place their menus on a table.

He gestured to the largest screen, "Hey, can we grab something closer?" 

The hostess shrugged, nodded. 

"Thanks. And a couple of beers.  Beer's ok, right?" Tim smiled at Jane, suddenly remembering he'd said something wrong.  Something about the door?

"Actually, I want to see the drink menu," Jane said, sliding into her chair. 

"Big game today," Tim said, checking to make sure he could see at least two of the games starting in thirty minutes.

Silence.

Giving her time to read through the menu, he leaned back and followed the closed captioning on the pre-game show looming large about her head.  That loser should've been fired years ago, pulling that stupid mascot head from behind the desk, knowing exactly the reaction he was going to get.

She sighed

"Don't they have good drinks?" he asked, glancing at the menu.

"I thought you wanted to hang out," she said, not meeting his eyes, which he knew meant a long conversation if he didn't do something fast.

"I do." 

And he had when he'd invited her to watch the game and have a few beers.

"Really?" Her voice got higher.  Was that better?  "Oh good!"

His beer came, and Jane ordered one of her own.

"I'm glad you think this is going somewhere," she said, whispering again.

He might have nodded as he took a drink, glad to see the loser had the common sense to pull Brutus's Buckeye Head over his grey hair. 

Brutus was better than a doorman's hat.  He grinned and saw hers spread across her face, reminding him of why he'd asked her out. 

Plus she looked hotter than most twenty year olds in that t-shirt.



Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
the prompt:
no subject restrictions
use a writing "tool" you think you need to polish
I tried working a little more with dialogue and the male POV.

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Capturing Memories - Bellflower Books Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in my Bellflower Books giveaway!

Emmy, I know you are going to love your book :)

Kerry from Bellflower Books will be contacting you about how to redeem your coupon code!  They are so helpful, and you can let me know if you have any questions, too.  I think we're going to start one for my grandma soon :)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Between Health and Weight

my favorite shoes, brand spankin' new

Sweat beads on my forehead, the whir of the treadmill belt muffled by The Black Eyed Peas pulsing in my ears. I’m finally getting accustomed to the monotony of my indoor runs.  I use the time to get lost in my music and my thoughts; my eyes slightly glazed as they focus on the glowing yellow streetlights, halos in the sky through the condensation on the wall of windows.

My runs have been more sporadic than I’d like, mornings thwarted by sick kids interrupting sleep, coaxed back to bed with glasses of water and smoothed brows and curling up in our bed when nothing else works.

My legs tire more quickly than they should, growing heavy as my eyes are drawn again and again to the numbers on the display. Three miles feels longer than three miles. Still, running is one of my safe places, something that makes me feel strong and sure, even when I realistically look at my abilities and know I may never meet some of my secret goals.

I leave my running shoes by the back door so my kids grow up knowing that part of my life, seeing the routine modeled the same way we brush our teeth or read books before bed. I envision myself at seventy, standing around at the beginning of a race, people thinking I am there to cheer on my grandchildren until they see the numbers pinned to my chest.

But there’s another reason I run, a reason I don’t mention to Abbey when we talk about my new running shoes. A reason that’s been sitting in the forefront of my mind since the beginning of the year.

Running burns calories, and calories and I are having an intimate relationship, carefully chaperoned by my new drill sergeant, My Fitness Pal.

I’ve hired (by that I mean signed up for free) My Fitness Pal to help me track my calorie intake. 

I truly wish I could say I’m tracking those calories for my health or to set an example of healthy, clean eating for my family.

I'm not.

I cringe when I see my calorie logs some days, particularly on the days when I am under or at my calorie limit but my morning is filled with French Vanilla Creamer instead of a nutritious breakfast.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, though it may not seem like a dramatic confession.

One of the things I desperately want for Abbey is for her to grow up with a respect for good health and a safe and healthy body image, because I know how difficult it is to struggle with weight.

Punching numbers into a computer or my phone and mentally trading out meal calories for an extra cup of coffee with creamer for the sole reason of dropping a jean size isn’t the example I want to set for her.

Teetering between weight loss and a healthy example, I’m trying to find my balance.

And it’s so much more difficult than I expected it to be.

as always, thanks to Shell for inviting us to pour out our hearts







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Monday, January 23, 2012

Redefining Sundays

Vaguely, I recall Sunday mornings without Abbey and Dylan: long runs, hot showers, a nap in the middle of the day, cleaning the house to prepare for the upcoming week.

Responsibilities were cushioned with late brunches or nights wrapped around a warm mug of coffee at our favorite coffee shop.

Kids change the concept of a lazy Sunday.

After missing too many days at the gym, I hurried out this Sunday, throwing together a quick breakfast before leaving. Ryan and I talked briefly as I poured my coffee, and he rushed out the door for his soccer game.

Games and toys and puzzles and what seemed like a million beads were pulled from cupboards and baskets to litter the floor as I tried to contain the hurricane of toys propelled by two young children still in their pajamas at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning.

I realized my “safe” shelf in the downstairs linen closet was now reachable by Abbey’s growing arms when I came out of the shower to find Dylan playing his version of dress up.


The wood floors I’d steamed the day before were already showing the crumbs of meals eaten half in and half out of chairs, Dylan finding hilarity in pushing himself an arm’s length away from the table, precariously gripping the edge until Abbey or I got up to push him back to his placemat.

A bird lost its way into our chimney, unable to find its way out, flapping against the fireplace screen, scaring Dylan and fascinating Abbey, both of them unwilling to move from the living room or talk about anything else until it calmed down.

Around one o’clock, I could feel their energy levels reaching the fever pitch of kids dangerously close to lunch and nap time.

An image from Pinterest popped into my head, and I gambled that the novelty of hot dog octopuses would pique their interest and keep them at the dining room table for more than three minutes.

hot dogs and noodles-two favorites at our house

Ryan walked through the door as the spaghetti softened in boiling water, diffusing their energy to balance between the two of us, making it easier to burst into laughter when Dylan’s excitement about octopus arms slid to a halt when he figured out he was supposed to eat them.
cut raw hot dogs into segments, stick spaghetti through dogs
cook in boiling water for 7-8 minutes

Deftly, I slid food around plates, all of the octopuses on hers, all of the plain hot dogs on his. Over an hour later, we finally got them both dressed and out running errands.

Lazy Sundays will resume in approximately ten years.  Taking a nap in the middle of the day sounds lovely, but I might miss the octopuses.



Every MONDAY join us…
Write, Post, Link-Up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence, empowerment and share our mission to empower, inspire,
and remind
women, parents and children

that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!
What gives you that “be enough” feeling?

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lies

Numbers churned in front of her, shifting back and forth as she pushed her legs into a whir of motion.

She stared at the bars filling the stationary bike’s display, a ghostly replica of hills, focusing her eyes on everything but the unwieldy black brace encircling her right knee. 

Her doctor’s words echoed in her head: “No running until we evaluate your progress in approximately three weeks. Maybe some easy cycling.”

Numbers whirled in her head, calories ingested and calories burned. Nodding demurely in the office she had already shrugged off the directive; easy cycling would barely burn off the yogurt she had for breakfast, let alone the cupcakes she’d shoveled into her mouth in the closet after turning them down in front of the rest of the office.

Pushing harder against the plastic pedals, feet almost numb from the pressure, she forced her eyes onto the flashing red numbers, refusing to look down at the brace or up at the treadmills lined against the windows dripping with condensation.

She ignored the twinge in her knee threatening to cross into a scream, concentrating instead on the calories burned, imagining the way she must look to the other gym-goers.

Were they disgusted by the sway of her thighs pumping faster and faster on the pedals?

Were they motivated by the jiggle of her stomach against the thin, ribbed tank?

She pushed harder, struggling to force sweat to bead onto the surface of her forehead or the small of her back, affirming her movement. Accustomed to punishing ten-mile runs, her body refused to sweat; her frustration refused to melt away, expelling a scarfed pint of ice cream with it.

Giving up, tears filled her downturned eyes as she escaped past the wall of mirrors, not recognizing the skeletal reflection as her own.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

the prompt:
“The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

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Capturing January



thrilled to be linking up with Alison and Galit for their new monthly feature
and thrilled to give one more birthday shout-out to my boy


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Floundering


Snow fell in Michigan Friday, sparkling flakes that blew in the wind and barely coated the ground, brittle grass peeking through the white afghan.

We made tracks briefly as we walked to the car in the morning, but Abbey kept floating to the window, asking when we could go play in the snow. A simple request, especially considering it was the first real snow we’ve seen this year.

I dragged my heels, thinking of the pulling on of snow pants, the wrestling mittens onto Dylan’s unwilling hands, the way the cold would sneak through the loose knit of my grey cap.

Dylan resisted his nap, finally falling asleep an hour after I expected; I exhaled, calculating that darkness would be creeping into the sky by the time he awoke.

Cloaked in guilt, my shoulders sagged.

I’ve been floundering lately, inexplicably on the verge of tears, feeling overwhelmed despite being more on top of my streamlined responsibilities than I have in months. Instead of appreciating the fifty-four items checked off my list, I’m focusing on the two stragglers that remain unfinished. 

My patience is thin.

I avoided playing in the snow.

Abbey crawled in my lap to read a book, looking sadly at Dylan’s closed door, as though it was his fault that we weren’t bundled against the cold. Her weight on my legs surprises me lately, the way I have to strain around the soft hair that once fit so compactly against my chest.

There won’t be many more Januaries where she and Dylan are home with me, excepting a few hours of preschool each week. There won’t be many more Januaries where they look to their snow pants with excitement and not disdain for such juvenile trappings.

Pushing back my hesitation, I slid her off my lap, pulling jackets and snow pants and hats and mittens and gloves out of the closet, readying them for the moment Dylan began stirring in his room.

Gleefully, they played in the inch of snow, Abbey making snow angel after snow angel, not caring if she was on the grass or the driveway. Dylan shadowed her, cheeks reddening as dusk threatened to slide into darkness.

I wish I could end with the fading light, our moments of laughter crowding out the anxiety hovering somewhere in my chest.

But Dylan’s tantrum on having to go inside was epic.

Our public school district is moving to all-day kindergarten, which doesn’t affect us now but may change our plans for next year.

I need new running shoes.

All little bumps that shouldn’t add up to much stress at all.

My brain knows this.

But as rain turned to sleet outside my window today, tears pricked behind my eyes, reminding me that this feeling wasn’t so simply exorcised.

And I’m not sure why.


 
Thanks to Shell for Pour Your Heart Out.
I needed it this week.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Winding Road


 
Nineteen Ninety-Eight
MAC Lip Glass, Skipping Class, Getting Ass



Write on Edge: RemembeRED
the prompt:

Imagine your life, or a part of your life, as a title and tagline.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Where Doubt & Bliss Collide

This is my First Blissdom!

I've traveled to Nashville countless times. I've made the journey playing with my Speak & Spell in the very back seat of my parents' minivan, napping on a plane, and driving down with our kids and hoping they wouldn't freak out in the middle of the night.  My grandparents retired there years and years ago, and my Nan still lives there, along with an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin.

This February I'll be making the drive again, my kids strapped securely in their seats.  We're already anticipating our visit with my grandma, and Abbey is talking about the pool, but this trip will be different.

For a few days, I'm taking a detour, only a few miles from where we've stayed so many times before.  Abbey and Dylan will bask in the attention of my parents and Nan, without Mommy looking at her watch around naptime or rationing the juice, and I'll set up camp at the Gaylord Opryland for a few days of Bliss.

My first blog conference.

Writing sessions and Life Development sessions jump out at me from the screen; I'm motivated just reading about them. (And can't decide between all of them.  Help!)

Friends I've e-mailed and texted and chatted with on Twitter.  People whose blogs I've read and people whose blogs I haven't.  All of us gathered together to energize our blogs and ourselves.

My first blog conference.

Hundreds of bloggers and writers and photographers in one place.  Bloggers I admire and writers who bring me to laughter and tears with their words.  Photographers who create images I would be thrilled to frame and hang in my home.

I am terrified.

Doubts nag at me as I think about business cards and packing lists and what in the world I am going to do when no one talks to me.

Fear hides behind doubt, subtler and harder to face.

I'm afraid to walk into a room and call myself a writer, without the safety of my laptop to hide behind. 

I've called myself a writer here.  But I'm doing it from the safety of my house, with the power of the backspace key and the time to step back and edit and then, finally, put my heart out for the world to read.

This feels different, and I am afraid.

Dreams that are beautiful and possible and close enough to touch from the familiarity of my desk can seem to grow insurmountable in the dazzling light of day.

I've buried this dream before, this dream of making writing something more than a hobby.  I've let my doubts and my fear crowd together, and I've stepped aside and taken other roads instead of facing my fear.

I don't want to live like that any longer.

I've taken baby steps back to this path, and now it's time to take a leap forward.

So I will pack my suitcase with my sparkly cardigan and my best attempt at comfy shoes, and I will walk into that conference with a (nervous) smile.

(And I will do it with my wonderful friend Kir.  Because I've never had a single doubt about finally getting to meet her.)

who wouldn't want to hang out with such a cool girl, right?






Every MONDAY join us…
Write, post, link-up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence and share our mission
to empower, inspire, and remind
women, parents and children

that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

What gives you that “be enough” feeling?

Labels:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Breaking the Blissdom Ice

Creative Kristi Designs 

1. My blog will have a new URL by Blissdom! So now you're at Tiaras & Trucks, but by Blissdom I'll just be Angela Amman.  This could be confusing, except...

2. ...I will NOT have a new face by Blissdom.  I'll still look like this:

I might look a lot like this.  I like that sweater.

3. I'm rooming with the lovely Kir, so I am packing extra concealer.  We are going to be chatting all night.  Knock on our door if you want to join us!

4. My blog is a space where I can express my passion for writing and capture the humor and beauty that weave together with the ordinary moments in our lives to create something extraordinary. (That's from my About page, but it's still the best way to say what happens here day-to-day!)

5. You can't tell in that picture, but I'm pretty short-even the majority of my comfortable shoes have heels.

6. I love being organized, but I'm indecisive.  That combination keeps me up at night trying to decide how to split my time between the Life Development and Writing Tracks.  I'll be the one wandering around, checking my planner and STILL trying to make up my mind.

7. Blissdom is my first conference, and I'm teetering between over-the-top excitement and over-the-top stress.  What do I pack?  What if no one talks to me?  So please come and say hi, and I'll do the same.  I can't wait to meet you! (yes, you!)

8*. I love writing, running, dancing, and laughing.  I hope to do all of those during Blissdom. Want to join me? 

*Eight's my favorite number, so I'm stopping at eight.  I'll be hanging out on Twitter (@angelaamman) if you'd like to chat more!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Capturing Memories - A Bellflower Books Giveaway

dedication page

A Pandora bracelet rests on her wrist, growing crowded with charms mainly representing her children and grandchildren, her greatest treasures. A thin gold band encircles her fourth finger, her diamond engagement ring and band cushioned in a safety deposit box. She wears no other jewelry.


cover

I wrote about my mom’s Love Lessons on the Bellflower Books blog, an unexpected gift to her, and when she retired (and had a birthday) this summer, there was only one gift I wanted to give to her.

For my mom, a women who cherishes and protects her family above all else, I knew a Bellflower Book would bring a smile to her face in a way that another, less personal, gift couldn’t.


my aunt and uncle wrote about a long-ago visit to Hawaii

Their beautifully bound memory books weave photographs and written words together to create a personalized story for the book’s recipient. Design options abound; you can create a perfect book for any occasion, whether your tastes lean to simple lines and classic colors or whimsical patterns.


My mom would have appreciated a book made of construction paper, photographs glued to the pages by Abbey and Dylan, but that book would have housed only our appreciation, only a small part of our entire family.

The genius of Bellflower Books is that creating one of their memory books means being able to collect contributions from anyone you choose. You simply choose your design and add e-mail addresses for anyone you would like to share in the creation of the book. Bellflower e-mails the recipients with instructions and deadlines, so each person can upload their own photographs and letters for the book.

one of her oldest friends scanned old autograph books & postcards

As the creator, I made the choice about when to stop accepting submissions. Because I know my family, including myself, I extended the deadline several times. When I finally did collect all pages and do a final edit, Bellflower Books had the book delivered quickly.

I cried when I saw the final product.

My mom was overwhelmed.

my letter and a picture from my baby shower

And days later was already talking about making one for my grandmother.
 

If you need a reason above their stellar product, you should know that it's a company owned by childhood best friends who have been in business together since the age of six.  Also, they generously partnered with Just.Be.Enough. to bring their beautiful keepsakes to women affected by breast cancer.  It's truly a business I'm proud to support.


Is there someone you love who needs a Bellflower Book? I’ll be giving away $75 gift code to one lucky reader!!

To be entered for a chance to win, leave me a comment letting me know who would be the lucky recipient of your book (even if it’s yourself!) You can leave a comment each day through the end of the giveaway (next Sunday, January 22nd).

For additional entries, do any (or all) of the following (and leave an additional comment letting me know):

• Follow Bellflower Books on Twitter
• Follow me on Twitter
• Like Bellflower Books on Facebook
• Like Tiaras and Trucks on Facebook
• Tweet out this giveaway

Bellflower Books contacted me when I was in the process of creating my mom’s book to see if I would be interested in doing a review and giveaway. Mentioning that was important to me, because I was absolutely prepared to purchase the book without any incentive from the company, though I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them to promote their gorgeous books.

*Disclosure: I was provided with a Bellflower Book to review, as well as the opportunity to give away a $75 gift code.  All opinions are my own, as always!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tannins

“Let me get our coats,” Vaughn said, glancing back only once before leaning into the cold granite of the coat check counter.

Pulling a mirror and lip gloss from her purse, Carly quickly swiped away smeared mascara with her pinkie, attempting to transform her eyes from bleary to sultry. Her lip gloss tingled peppermint on her tongue as she licked her lips, the subtle sheen fading into insignificance over her cabernet-tinged pucker.

Trying to focus her glance, Carly blinked, the white tablecloth stabbing at her eyes. Was the almost-empty bottle on the table their second or third? She blinked again as Vaughn’s hand slid under her elbow, guiding her to the car waiting in front of the bar, leather seats unfriendly on her bare thighs.

He flung the car into gear, sliding carelessly around the corner before parking, letting the engine idle. Vaughn leaned in and pulled her close in one movement, his hand too heavy at Carly’s dangerously short hemline.

Intoxication encouraged her head to fall back at the insistence of his lips, enjoying the abandon of the kiss. Taste buds sliding together, she recognized the oak and pepper of the wine they had shared, the salty bite of olives covering another, unwelcome taste.

Her nose wrinkled as she broke the kiss, too drunk to read his eyes.

“Why do you taste like cigarettes?”

Silence, electric and cold.

“Do you smoke?”

“No.”

Her breath caught as she tried again to focus on his heavy-lidded eyes.

“But my wife does.”

The locks clicked loudly as his hand, still tangled in her hair, tightened at the base of her skull.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
the prompt:
flavor

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goodbye Splenda, Hello Butter - A Book Review

made with real butter, so feel free to indulge
...in moderation of course


My best friend and I were constantly chasing off the last five pounds during college, and diet pop (sorry! that’s what we call it in Michigan!) was one of our staples.

We waited to see what was on sale bought it, in cans, by the twelve-pack; diet Pepsi, diet Coke, diet Sprite, diet Cherry 7-Up, diet Vernors, diet Cherry Coke, and more all saw themselves stacked and rotated in and out of our hall closet.

The amount we purchased wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator. Nestled next to the chilled cans of chemically enhanced beverages were other staples: fat free sour cream, fat free cheese, sugar free Jello, sugar free popsicles.

The amount of chemicals floating through our bodies was enough to keep us preserved until the ripe age of two hundred eleven, if my chemistry skills are correct. (They’re not; I don’t really think a steady diet of fake sugar will increase your life span.)

Over the years I’ve read and tried The Zone, flirted with the Atkins Diet, discussed South Beach, and had a brief dalliance with Weight Watchers, a certain number hovering in my mind as an ideal goal weight. Through much trial and error, I’ve found that the old-fashioned equation of burning more calories than you eat works best, and I have the most personal success when I’m carefully tracking calories.

Calorie counting meant I could ingest diet pop and sugar free treats, like popsicles, at will, logging few (or zero) calories for my snacks and beverages.

Reading Why Women Need Fat, by William D. Lassek, M.D. and Steven J.C. Gaulin Ph.D., brought to light some things I’ve heard but liked to pretend didn’t matter too much, as long as I was watching the numbers being totaled up at the end of each day. Lassek and Gaulin are talking about getting rid of processed foods (gasp! diet pop and fat free sour cream).

Reading nutrition books can be a little daunting; there’s often a lot of rhetoric, and obviously the numbers are presented in a way that makes the case the authors are promoting. (What can I say? Being married to an actuary has taught me that it’s healthy to be a little skeptical of statistics.)

Why Women Need Fat does present statistics and studies and credible evidence talking about why we’re getting fatter, despite our nation’s attempt to modify our diets into submission by vilifying different types of fat.

What I took away from the book, more than anything, is that we need to shed the chemicals and the processing from our diets. We need to eat cleaner foods and worry more about nutrients and the way they fuel our body’s needs (go omega-3 fatty acids!) Fat, in its naturally occurring forms, doesn’t necessarily lurk in corners, ready to cling onto our thighs and stomachs.

Cleaner eating (good bye fake sugar and low-fat-replaced-by-strange-filler foods) was a concept that already interested me, and Why Women Need Fat helped me better understand why it might benefit my waistline as well as my health.

What do you think? Do you use sugar substitutes or low-fat versions of food to help lose weight? Visit the BlogHer Book Club to read more about Why Women Need Fat or join the discussion about butter (mmmm, butter).

This is a sponsored post, courtesy of BlogHer and Penguin Books.  I received a copy of Why Women Need Fat to read and review and compensation for my time.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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Knock Knock, Dylan Style

He recently turned two, and he's decided to become a stand-up comedian.


Tickets available for his first show soon.

He'll be charging a string cheese and small bowl of Multi-Grain cheerios.

iPhone Photo Phun

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Three Hundred Sixty Seconds

stolen moments on Christmas Eve
an extra long nap while conversation and love surrounded him

I knew what I wanted.

Five or six minutes, somewhere between three hundred sixty seconds.

Motherhood steals time from expected places: nightly hours of sleep are chipped away to a series of catnaps, leaving the house is packing snacks and timing naps and realizing I need to do one more diaper change before walking out of the door.

It snatches time from unexpected moments as well: sitting down to read a book and flipping to the beginning three or five or ten times to twist my tongue around the rhymes of Dr. Seuss, opening the blinds in the morning and watching the recycling truck slowly moving down our street, separating yellow lids from green bins and sliding glass and paper into labeled chutes on the passenger side.

Stealing three hundred sixty seconds from a two hour run seemed reasonable, even simple, when I finished my half marathon in April and began to set my goal for my October run.

Sliding comfortably into a training plan I’d used before, my body tumbled into the routine, my feet moving through the motions and the miles I checked off on my calendar each night.

But my mind wandered.

Writing and motherhood and relationships gathered round, throwing balls into the air at a dizzying speed, daring you to juggle them all while chasing your laughing toddler away from the fireplace doors for the eighty-first time before ten in the morning.

I hardly noticed when my training ball dropped, falling slowly out of rotation, runs missed and miles staring at me from the white page of my planner, yearning for the decorated highlighter of the miles actually completed.

With my race looming, I shifted my thinking, trusting that my mental strength hadn’t lagged behind with my endurance building workouts.

It hadn’t; I finished the half marathon with a smile, the time a respectable one for someone more closely aligned with the tortoise than the hare.

But I hadn’t stolen those minutes. 

I hadn’t met my goal time.

So this past Tuesday, I crept into the gym and climbed onto the treadmill.

This Saturday, I let the unexpectedly warmth of forty degree sunshine beat onto my shoulders as my feet tentatively found their familiar loop.

Saturday night, I registered for my fifth half marathon, three hundred sixty seconds pushing me towards October. Again.

Write on Edge: RemembeRED
This week we’d like you to write a memoir piece about an unfulfilled goal or a broken resolution, beginning with the words, “I knew what I wanted".

 
If you haven't read enough about my running today, I'm over at Just.Be.Enough., hosting the weekly link-up and talking about my first run of 2012.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Dylan Do is Turning Two

Some of my most heartfelt posts are cushioned with this button:
Linking up with Shell and her lovely group of readers allows me to spill my random thoughts in a supportive environment, and I am so honored to be sharing some of my heart over at Things I Can't Say today.
I'd love it if you came over and read about how I felt when snuggling this little cutie.
If you're visiting from Shell's place, feel free to wander around.  Sometimes I worry, sometimes I gush, and sometimes I wonder how to get through it all.

And speaking of cuties? Look at this little guy!
Dylan Patrick
1/8/2010
leaving the hospital

Dear Dylan,

Today you are two.

You are curls I can’t bear to cut.

You are trains and dinosaurs, one in each hand.

You are a willing companion to Abbey’s imaginative games, grinning and laughing and following her lead, even when she's calling you a prince or taking you to yoga class.

You are burgeoning speech, surprising us with your words, pronouncing "dine-sore" before simpler words of less importance to you, sweetly adding “please” with each “more,” making it a little thrill to hear you ask for more milk at dinner, even though I’ve sat down mere seconds before the request.

Dylan's first birthday party
that shirt was never the same

You are “DD!” when you spot your reflection and the mispronunciation of Abbey into Addie that I just can’t correct quite yet.

You are frustrating laughter when I tell you “no.”

You are a heavy head on my chest when you’re exhausted and spontaneous hugs and the always endearing “Care-You” when you want to be snuggled onto my hip instead of walking outside yourself, though you run quickly from us whenever your feet hit the ground, turning to laugh with glee as someone chases you back to safety.

You are singing along and bouncing in rhythm to the music.

You are paging through books and sinking warmly into my lap to hear “A Fish Out of Water” or “Hop on Pop” or “Curious George Rides a Bike.” Again and again and again.

You are such a boy, when I was a so nervous about raising a boy.

December 31, 2011

You are the contradictions of loud yells and the stillness of sleep under your favorite blanket, a mix of frantic energy and contemplative play.

You are my heart, little Dyls.

Today you are two.

And you are so loved.

Love Always,

Mommy

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Changing the Countdown

The New Year's Eve countdown is something that inspires bubbling excitement in the pit of my stomach.  In that moment when that giant, crystal ball drops steadily from the sky, the new year is ripe with opportunities just waiting to be discovered.

Those moments after midnight have always seemed magical.

the magic of playing in a hot tub in the middle of winter

 
But the logistics of New Year's Eve can be a nightmare.  I've counted down from ten to one in a countless number of places: crowded dance clubs, a college bar where my friends and I were able to chat with the DJ as we chose our favorite songs to broadcast to an almost-empty room, friends' houses, and even the comfort of our own couch.

New Year's magic deserves something more, and the last two years we've found it. 

We've spent the last two years away from home, Up North to fellow Michiganders, though our first year was much more west than north.

Between the lake effect and Michigan's typical winter temperatures, we've imagined snowy days and cozy nights, but we've encountered damp and surprisingly temperate weather both years.

This year we gathered ten adults (two more than last year) and seven kids (two more than last year) and spent the weekend cooking and snacking and playing board games that grow dusty most of the year.

Children that were little more than babies last year played on their own for long stretches of time, leaving the adults to referee the toddler climbers and snuggle the newest additions.

Football and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse took turns on the TV.  Bottles of scotch nestled in the corner of the kitchen as we doled out water and boxes of chocolate milk.

Three of the seven kids were awake for the countdown: the oldest, the youngest, and one in between, powered by a lengthy evening nap. 

party dress for NYE

Miraculously, Abbey and Dylan went to sleep after observing a rousing game of Apples to Apples and stayed asleep even through Lady Gaga's performance and the ensuing dance party.

New Year's Eve has never looked so magical.


iPhone Photo Phun

I rarely use a post for a double link-up, but I am so excited to finally be able to finally share in the #iPPP excitement that I'm making an exception.  I hope you don't mind.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello 2012


I've been away for a few days, literally and figuratively, vacationing with some friends and their families.

Thanks to a much too generous Christmas gift, I was able to stay slightly connected, playing around on my new phone, flitting by twitter and traipsing through some of my reader, though my commenting was sporadic at best.

But the writing and planning parts of my brain were left to percolate without the outlet of a keyboard, a welcome break I hadn't consciously decided to take, and one I hadn't realized I needed until I was in the midst of it.

There were no revelations found over the weekend, no epiphanies about how I can best juggle all of the balls I've labeled "important" this year.

But there was a dance party and deliciously chilled white wine and thin crepes spread with Nutella and board game shenanigans my kids somehow slumbered through without waking.

I have goals this year, and they're more specific than they've been in recent years. 

My writing, my fitness, and my relationships are all gathered together in a bear hug to my chest; I want to take each to a level of focused joy that was only hinted at last year.

I'm willing to sweat for my aspirations, and I don't just mean the ones about improving my half marathon time. 

There will be thrills; I am certain of this.  There will be setbacks; I am certain of this, too.

But for today, hello to 2012.  I can't wait to get to know you.

Christmas morning nail painting while waiting for Daddy to wake up
sometimes it's more important to paint your own nails than it is to have the perfect manicure and pedicure
she is wise in ways she doesn't even realize
she is absolutely enough


What gives you that “be enough” feeling?

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodbye 2011

Jessica and Ashley are two of my favorite people in the blogosphere.

Their blogs are amazing and on my must-read list, but their personalities and hearts are so much more than that.

So when I saw 12 Things 2011, I knew I had to link up.

And phew! I finally sat down to review my year, just before the link closes.

Twelve photos

Twelve words

Twelve linked posts

So many memories purused during the past week.

Happy sighs and Happy New Year!














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