22 February 2016

Time to get moving.

I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I was never shaped like a teenager, either. The juniors' department was not my friend; I had curves from the very onset of puberty. I also have dense, heavy bones.

Shortly before my wedding, when I was the slimmest I had ever been in my adult life, and slimmer than I ever reasonably expect to be again -- nothing like an upcoming wedding to serve as motivation! It also helps that the wedding dress I fell in love with topped out a size 12, which in "wedding dress sizes" is actually a 10 -- I had just fallen from "obese" to "overweight" on the BMI chart. I'm 5'8" and, as I said, curvy, so at a 10 I look pretty good. And I'm fine with the fact that I'm unlikely to ever be quote-thin-unquote.

After two babies, I had reached my highest weight ever, and I can't blame the pregnancies themselves. During both pregnancies, I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum and actually lost a significant amount of weight. Breastfeeding, though -- that is the culprit for me. I have some supply issues so I don't burn the same calories that most nursing mothers burn, but I'm just as hungry as the typical nursing mother, which is to say: ravenous.

So twice, I've gotten pregnant, had the baby, left the hospital around 25 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, and then gained 35 pounds while nursing.


Shortly after Declan weaned, I went back on Weight Watchers for the first time since before our wedding. It's been a little over three months -- this morning was my 14th weigh-in -- and I've lost 29.5 pounds. I was wearing an 18, and I'm somewhere between a 14 and a 16 now. And I still have a ways to go.

So we've got the diet part more or less down. My stomach is mostly adjusted. We're eating fewer carbs and more vegetables. So now it's time to add in exercise to speed this along, because I know my body: a plateau approacheth.

Last week I started going on long walks when the weather is nice. I was using the Runkeeper app on my phone, but I recently got an Apple Watch (it's an early Mother's Day present from my family!) and I'm finding it to be so motivating!

That's my progress as of 1:15pm today. I've burned my goal number of calories already -- the pink circle -- and exceeded my exercise goal -- the green circle. The blue circle is my daily standing goal -- my watch reminds me to stand for at least one minute every hour of the day. It also counts my steps as long as I have it on.

I find it so satisfying to see those rings close. We have to have an orientation at our neighborhood gym before we can use it, but we'll be getting that done this week. Hopefully by the time summer rolls around I'll be happier with my size and more fit. I can't wait to get out more with the kids when the weather warms up some in the evenings. I can't wait to actually want to get in pictures with my kids without being embarrassed by my size.

In the meantime, please pray for me! I've been seeing results which is helping me stay on track but if I plateau I know I'll lose focus. Your prayers will certainly help. I'm going to need God's help for sure!

21 February 2016

When you have a tough parenting day...

... How do you handle it?

Nap time to nearly-bedtime has been a bear. Without going into soggy details, sleep-potty-training the three-year-old is just not even progressing. She's doing great with the potty when awake, but she doesn't seem to wake up until it's too late, and as a result she still wears a diaper for overnight. Naps are the testing ground and today she woke up wet and mad about it. She wailed and wailed and didn't want to put on dry clothes and didn't want to get up and didn't want to go back to sleep and didn't want her sheets changed and didn't want them left on the bed and didn't want these Sofia panties and didn't want the Sofia panties she picked out herself and didn't want to put on the shirt I picked out and didn't want to stop making an unholy racket and she couldn't take a deep breath and so she wailed some more. Obviously she woke up her brother from his nap, pushing him halfway down the road to Meltdownville, population: 2.

Eventually I left her in her room with instructions that she could let me know when she was ready to be happy. Twenty minutes or so later, she got ahold of herself and we went on with her day, but she's been on a hair-trigger -- the second anything doesn't go her way she tantrums in a way that's really not like her. We've been giving her directions and she does the opposite.

I don't have a problem with my temper, honestly. I'm a pretty patient person, and I always try to keep in mind that three-year-olds are creatures of impulse and factor that into my reactions. But today...

Today, my patience is worn so thin. I am not an easily frazzled person, and I am frazzled to bits. She's about to go to bed and I'm dreading trying to get her to clean up her mess before we say prayers. I'm dreading prayers themselves because when she's feeling defiant, it's a war getting her to even say them.

At this point I'm going to have to start fresh tomorrow and hope Little Miss Oppositional-Defiant wakes up on the right side of her mood.

Unless anyone has any rockstar tips?

20 February 2016

A tantalizing taste of spring!

This was an unbelievably beautiful day in northern Virginia.

Her look of utter glee, exchanged with her little brother, at having the windows "on" -- a.k.a. open -- when it was 20 degrees yesterday.

The temperature was in the mid-sixties and it was sunny, so we spent all day... Inside.


We try to spend one day a weekend with Michael's parents when everyone's in town. We hadn't been down to their house in a couple of weeks because of various trips and their coming here once or twice, so after Declan's morning nap we all hopped in the car to drive 25 minutes or so to Bella and Poppy's.

My in-laws had a huge plumbing flood at their house two Thanksgivings ago. They spent months and months living in a hotel, and the house is still not 100% put back together, so when we got there we played in their extremely toy-filled playroom for a bit, then had lunch, then when the kiddos took afternoon naps we helped move furniture around and hang a whole bunch of artwork and curtains.

(Including a new-to-their-home Madonna and child print that made me all ::heart-eyes emoji:: that I was tempted to sneak out in my diaper bag... If not for the inherent contradiction that is stealing religious artwork.)

The kids napped long and hard, we were finishing up hanging stuff, and then all of a sudden it was time to go home and it turned out we had never made it to the park.

On a day in the mid-sixties.

In February.

Well, crud.

Keira was actually sweet about it, even though she had been expecting to go to the "red park" all day. We hadn't even made it off their street, though, before I was overcome with my own disappointment that we had missed this whole glorious day (even if it was for a good cause in helping my in-laws get some normalcy back), and so we swung into the parking lot of the playground and got those kids some fresh air. They had a ball! Then since it was already the time we usually eat dinner, we were 25 minutes from home, and I had nothing on hand for a quick dinner -- plenty of stuff for dinner that takes a bit, but nothing quick -- we swung by Chick-fil-a for nuggets for the kids.

We fed the kids, enjoyed some family time, put the kidlets to bed and then had the ultimate rarity: a just-the-two-of-us dinner at home. (Pan-seared scallops and sautéed green beans, if you were wondering.)

Just... A really good day, even if I didn't get a chance to work on my tan.

19 February 2016

Catholics and Yoga

The area immediately around my home has everything: shopping, restaurants, multiple choices of movie theatre... And no yoga studios. I've been looking for low-impact fitness classes, and yoga seems like a good place to start. But there's nowhere to do it, and in this famously traffic-clogged area of the country, even a studio that's "15 minutes away" is a time commitment because 15 minutes is never 15 minutes.


I mentioned to my sister that I was frustrated by my lack of access to yoga and she said that a priest at her parish gave a whole homily about how yoga is problematic and indeed prohibited for Catholics.

::Needle scratch::


I was familiar with a prohibition against Eastern mystic meditation, obviously. My sister clarified that her priest said that the motions themselves are dangerous because they pay homage to dieties in whom we do not believe.


There is no way -- no logical way -- to make the case that the position of your body, bending and stretching into child's pose or downward-facing dog, is anything but morally neutral (not that there's no way to put your body into a morally questionable position, but that's another conversation).

Chanting "om" and clearing your mind, or meditating on your oneness with the universe, on the other hand: not morally neutral. Seeking Hindu enlightenment is self-evidently not Catholic. Don't do those things.

Intention matters and as always, one must know oneself. Are you the type to get caught up and lose yourself, to the point where you might find yourself chanting in an unknown language and emptying your mind in a quest for enlightenment? Danger, Will Robinson. If you are sure that you can treat it as pure exercise, and ignore all the mysticism, then go for it. We are called to be good stewards of our bodies and our souls.

For myself, I expect to have no difficulty whatsoever ignoring any calls to engage in mysticism. I'm going to be too busy either berating myself for wasting my time or rueing the day I chose to exercise at all, depending on the difficulty level. But I will be on the lookout for danger signs, because I just found out that I can take yoga at the community center in our neighborhood.

16 February 2016

A weekend away!

Forgive the silence, mes amis.

We spent President's Day weekend at my parents' beach house, which means basically no Internet access. I could have blogged on my phone, but I stink at blogging on my phone. So I didn't.

No one got enough sleep and we were crammed in like sardines, and we had a great time. There were seven kids under 5, cousins who don't see enough of each other and love to have a couple of days together. I didn't get many pictures (bad blogger), but here's Grandad reading a picture book with Keira:

And here's Declan and his sweet cousin Avery, four months apart in age but massively different in size, getting acquainted because this was their first time together where they were really aware of each other.


So now I have ten million things to do, as per uszh. (Pronounced sorta like a Trumpian "yuuuuge.") And I cannot focus on anything, because I'm basically a whole night short on sleep. Send help.

09 February 2016

The easiest way to cook a whole chicken, plus broth!

I am a soup lover. My husband always claims not to like soup, but that's not really true. (What he doesn't like is plain broth. Can't really blame him there!) My toddler loves soup as much as I do, and in fact that's our primary vegetable-delivery system for her.

So once or twice a week I make a big pot of soup. Currently we're alternating between chicken noodle and sausage with orzo (recipe in a later post!), because they're jam-packed with veggies and they're light for our lifestyle change. I love, love a good cream of potato, but that isn't as diet-friendly so I haven't been making it. And soup is also great for Lent!

I also feel like I'm single-handedly keeping Swanson in business buying boxes of chicken broth. I never had boxed or canned broth in my life before the last couple of years, because my mom always, always made her own. I have done it a few times, but until recently we've been severely restricted in our storage capacity, living with a series of apartment-sized freezers, so it was easier to buy boxed broth when I needed it. But now we're in a bigger house with a bigger freezer, plus we have a chest freezer in the garage for overflow storage. It's amazing.

I made broth recently but wasn't happy with the way it came out -- I think my water-to-chicken-carcass ratio was off. But then I saw a couple of tutorials for cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot and then turning the bones into broth... And THEN I saw that Perdue Oven Stuffer roasters were on sale at my grocery store.

It. Was. Time. At this very moment, my rich bone stock is cooling in God's refrigerator (a.k.a. my back deck). When it's cool, I'll skim the fat and then portion and freeze it for next week's soup!

And here's how you can do it yourself!

1. Roughly chop vegetables and put them in the base of the slow cooker. I used a large onion, three carrots and the core of a bunch of celery. You could also use balls of aluminum foil if you don't want to use or don't have the veggies -- the point is to elevate the chicken so it's not sitting in its juices the whole time it's cooking.

2. Remove any innards from the cavity of the chicken (save these!), then rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the skin however you wish -- I used salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika, massaging it in.

3. Nestle the chicken in the slow cooker. I happened to have fresh rosemary so I threw some on top for extra deliciousness. My large chicken (nearly 10 lbs!) overwhelmed my large Crock-Pot, by which I mean the lid didn't close all the way. It worked out anyway so don't panic if it happens to you.

Then I turned the slow cooker on low and set the timer for 9 hours.

This is what mine looked like after about seven hours, when the chicken had cooked down some and the lid finally closed. At this point I turned the slow cooker up to high because my chicken was so big and had been cooking with the lid vented the whole time. About an hour later, I checked it with my instant read thermometer, removed it from the slow cooker, covered it with aluminum foil, and let it rest while I made the sides for dinner. Then I carved the chicken -- one breast of this monster was enough for the four of us!

After dinner, I picked the chicken clean of edible chicken -- best to do this while it's still warm -- and dumped the carcass back into the slow cooker along with the veggies, still in the bottom with the chicken's juices, a bunch of parsley I had lying around (optional!), and filled the Crock-Pot to the top with water. Then I just turned it on low and left it overnight.

This morning the whole house smelled like chicken deliciousness. I strained the stock into a big pot, put it outside to cool, and discarded the carcass and vegetables in the garbage, because after cooking for 24 hours they are good for nothing.

I have a couple of rotisserie chicken carcasses and leftover herbs and vegetables stored in my freezer -- which is where I put the innards from this chicken, to use next time -- and I think I'll be using the slow cooker to make that too instead of putting it on the stove. So easy!

06 February 2016

Did you know...

... That if you go to smile.amazon.com instead of just going to amazon.com, you can set it up so that your every Amazon purchase results in a donation to the charity of your choice? I set mine to Catholic Relief Services and as long as I start from smile.amazon.com -- which is proving a challenge to remember! -- then 0.5% of my purchase price will automatically get donated to CRS.

Awesome, AmazonSmile.

04 February 2016

Consider yourself referred:

I started to write a whole post about the CDC's newest recommendation that women of childbearing age should never ever ever drink ever because pregnancies just drop out of the sky and you don't have any agency over your body and you are way too stupid and female to make informed decisions about your drinking vis-à-vis sexual activity.

But as usual, Simcha Fischer and Jenny Uebbing did it better. So go read them.

03 February 2016

Daleiden vs. Planned Parenthood: Who's the criminal?

I'm over on Catholic Mommy Blogs today, talking about Lenten fasting. Check it out!

This news is over a week old, but David Daleiden -- the activist behind the Center for Medical Progress videos exposing Planned Parenthood's grisly practices of selling aborted baby parts -- has been indicted by Harris County, TX on multiple charges, including a felony charge of tampering with governmental records, and a misdemeanor charge of buying human tissue.

{Note: according to this indictment, it's possible to criminally buy human tissue, while the seller on the other end of the transaction is judged to have done nothing wrong. Seems legit.}

It's long been known that some counties, even in Texas, would indict a ham sandwich, so long as said ham sandwich happened to be conservative (see: Travis County's politically-motivated indictment of Rick Perry over a veto threat). In this instance, one of the prosecutors is a Planned Parenthood board member.

Nothing about this passes the most cursory of sniff tests.

Here's the thing: David Daleiden may have done something criminal in the course of his investigation. I'm not sure one way or the other. If he did, I would bet he did so in the full knowledge that he may have to pay a price in the service of getting this information into the public consciousness.

We are not the ones occupying the "end justifies the means" side of this cultural divide, and as such I think that if there have been laws broken, then Daleiden should get his day in court. But let's be serious: it's not possible that Daleiden broke the law by buying the fetal issue if Planned Parenthood simultaneously did nothing wrong -- legally wrong, that is, because there's really no question whether Planned Parenthood's every action and instinct is morally wrong.

So! To that end, please consider signing this petition, which has over 108,000 signatures already, asking Harris County to reconsider their nakedly political witch hunt, and instead focus their investigative and prosecutorial efforts where they belong: on the ghouls of Planned Parenthood.