Saturday, November 27, 2010

Best Movie Preview Ever

We like to do a family movie over the Thanksgiving holidays, usually the Wednesday before. This year was no exception and we all went to see the "Deathly Hallows, Part 1."

It seems like there was at least a half hour of movie previews, the typical assortment of animation and action. Ho-hum.

Then a western scene popped up. A stagecoach is coming into town and the passenger, under guard, is......wait for it, my boy DANIEL CRAIG! Since his next James Bond flick has been postponed or cancelled, this ought to work for me. And then another scene with the sheriff, who is none other than HARRISON FORD.  It's not like I haven't watched these guys or anything.

The Daniel Craig character seems to be a wanted man who has lost his memory, and he has a funky wrist band on. Then there is another scene with a spacecraft blasting the town's main street with lasers while return fire from the wrist band defends the group. What!?!

"Cowboys & Aliens"

Coming July 29, 2011. Are tickets on sale yet?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Will we or won't we?

Forget the red jello.

Most of the time Thanksgiving Dinner is at our house. The meal is always the same.

Turkey & gravy
Store bought dressing unless my mom comes and brings her great homemade dressing
Potato casserole
Baked beans
Green bean casserole
Mashed potatoes
English peas
Crescent rolls

and red jello

While several of the foods on the list are kids' favorites now, there wasn't much on the list they liked when they were little, but they loved the red jello. Ricky's dad would always make red jello for them and we made it one of our Thanksgiving staples (along with always having Ricky's dad and mom join us.)

The last several years we have had issues with the red jello. Sometimes it has mysteriously disappeared from the shopping list. Other years it has hidden in the pantry until it was TOO LATE to make it and have it firm by the time we eat. Several times I have made the red jello Wednesday night only to remember it's in the back fridge on Friday.

In the past week each of my children have pointedly requested red jello for Thanksgiving. I'll be seeing all the kids today. They are to remind me to make the red jello. Then tomorrow it is their specific mission to remember the red jello before we sit down to eat.

That's all I can do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Humans 1, Winston 0

We spent the weekend wearing Winston out. He slept fine. Of course. And our older dog goes to bed around ten at night and usually sleeps until about nine in the morning. Nice schedule, if you can get it.

Monday was a little busier, so Winston did not get as much attention during the day.

Putting him in the crate at bedtime was fine. But as soon as his peanut butter was gone (doesn't everyone go to bed with peanut butter?) the yips started.

I chased my daughter upstairs for the night, told my son to not worry about keeping the dog quiet for our sakes, and then went to bed and shut the door.

About fifteen minutes later, the yips subsided and he (Winston and my son, too) stayed quiet the rest of the night.

It only took raising four toddlers to figure out how to deal with a puppy. One night in the recliner with special treatment is all you get.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back to normal

There is no normal, none at all.

You think it is waiting for you just around the corner, but instead there is only more craziness. Eventually you realize there is no set pattern for weaving through life.

I think I thought some day I would have the stress free lifestyle of Claire Huckstable* - with a professional career, a great sense of humor, a rich and entertaining husband, a gorgeous (clean) house and children that "oohed and aahed" over the wisdom I imparted.

Ha! Those TV shows and commercials and movies, they're all fakes. Even the more realistic shows can't mirror any one family's life, and certainly not mine.

I have almost eliminated the bad habit of assuming things will be simpler in the future.  I appreciate the classic story of "The Station," believing you just need to reach  your destination to have it made, but then realizing that the trip, the journey, is the actual destination after all.

With us, it's thinking that our schedule will get easier, more manageable.....after our jobs settle down, our kids can dress themselves or drive themselves, or after we've run out of life's surprises.

My first three kids are four and a half years, five school years, apart. I knew that as they moved in a pack through middle and high school that our lives would be hectic, but by the time our fourth child came through six years later, it would be a piece of cake. Right?

Now our baby is in high school. We've just finished marching band season, three months of 7:00 am rehearsals and extra evening and Saturday practices. And when your child does not drive, his schedule is your schedule, in addition to your own. In a two week period we made two round trip trips to San Antonio, several community rehearsals and performances and ended up last weekend for the final competition in Indianapolis. The band leaves on buses on a Wednesday night and arrives in Indianapolis Thursday evening after stopping for  a three hour rehearsal in Illinois. I flew up Thursday night, Ricky came up Friday afternoon. The band performed Friday morning and scored well enough to advance to the next round on Saturday. Saturday's performance put them in the finals on Saturday night. They finished third out of ninety plus bands. Each performance was better than the one before and Saturday night was awesome. After their final performance, the kids loaded up buses, leaving Indy about three in the morning.

Ricky and I floated back to our hotel room, pleased with the results and pleased with the end of band season. Life would once again be normal after our flight on Sunday.

At 1:30 a.m. the phone rang. Our son back in Texas had arrived home to his apartment to find the door kicked in and his electronics gone. Pretty devastating for a kid whose whole life is, or was, stored on his computer. Thank God he is safe and it was only stuff that disappeared.

Later in the day we got home (with only one TSA full body screening,) looking forward to no more 7:00 a.m. rehearsals. So the dog decides to go wonky on us. Winston, feeling ignored, quit sleeping peacefully through the night in his crate. It escalated during the week until Friday night, when I ended up rubbing his tummy for an hour, punctuated by putting him back in his crate, going back to my bed only to be summoned by his shrill, ear piercing yips. I ended up spending the night in the recliner, not that uncommon for me except this time I had a dog leashed to me. Unbelievable.

Now it's the weekend and holy crap! Thanksgiving is here! When did that happen? Obviously when I wasn't looking.

We made our major grocery runs on Saturday, the bird is in the house. And out of nowhere, a fabulous holiday is shaping up. My married kids had a change of plans so they will be able to share the day with us. My parents are heading down from Oklahoma. My older, single kids are a joy to have around, sharing in holiday jobs and dog duties. We are privileged that our older son is going to hang out here for a while, where it's safe and he can be secure while planning his next steps.

So life is back to our normal - a wonderful, wacky, wildly unpredictable normal.

* The first one of my kids to comment correctly on who Claire Huckstable is wins a prize.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It's the end of band season and we are in Indianapolis for the final competition. Wiley, a trumpet player, has performed tremendously. Below is a link to the band's performance last week. Since then the band has added a beginning, changed some music and drill and changed the ending so that there is a band member kneeling before each headstone while Taps is played and the colorguard forms around the American flag. It has been a great season honoring our veterans.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Eating

I weigh the same now as I did thirty years ago. It's not that I eat "healthy" or anything. My daytime diet is mostly coffee, chips, coke and chocolate. I just can't help myself. Even after having cancer and vowing to "improve" my eating habits, I'm back to the beginning all over again. 
Feeling just a tad guilty about it, I've actually cut back on my Sonic Route 44 cokes, but that's been more to save money. I still drink a couple of cans of coke a day, at least. Lunch is potato chips or fritos, maybe with bean dip. Reese's peanut butter cups get me through the afternoon. Of course I'm home alone - no raised eyebrows here.
So now a nutrition professor has put himself on a twinkies and oreos diet. He has lost 27 pounds, feels great and has improved his cholesterol counts. 

All right, then. I am set.

You can read the article here..............................
CNN) -- Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.
For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.
His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food.
The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months.
For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub's pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.
His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds.
But you might expect other indicators of health would have suffered. Not so.
Haub's "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his "good" cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.
"That's where the head scratching comes," Haub said. "What does that mean? Does that mean I'm healthier? Or does it mean how we define health from a biology standpoint, that we're missing something?"
Haub's sample day
Espresso, Double: 6 calories; 0 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Centrum Advanced Formula From A To Zinc: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Little Debbie Star Crunch: 150 calories; 6 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Doritos Cool Ranch: 75 calories; 4 grams of fat

Kellogg's Corn Pops: 220 calories; 0 grams of fat

whole milk: 150 calories; 8 grams of fat

baby carrots: 18 calories; 0 grams of fat

Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Chewy Fudge: 270 calories; 14 grams of fat

Little Debbie Zebra Cake: 160 calories; 8 grams of fat

Muscle Milk Protein Shake: 240 calories; 9 grams of fat 

1,589 calories and 59 grams of fat
Despite his temporary success, Haub does not recommend replicating his snack-centric diet.
"I'm not geared to say this is a good thing to do," he said. "I'm stuck in the middle. I guess that's the frustrating part. I can't give a concrete answer. There's not enough information to do that."
Two-thirds of his total intake came from junk food. He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks.
Families who live in food deserts have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so they often rely on the kind of food Haub was eating.
"These foods are consumed by lots of people," he said. "It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it's unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic."
Haub's body fat dropped from 33.4 to 24.9 percent. This posed the question: What matters more for weight loss, the quantity or quality of calories?
His success is probably a result of caloric reduction, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian based in Atlanta, Georgia.
"It's a great reminder for weight loss that calories count," she said. "Is that the bottom line to being healthy? That's another story."
Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said she's not surprised to hear Haub's health markers improved even when he loaded up on processed snack cakes.
Being overweight is the central problem that leads to complications like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, she said.
"When you lose weight, regardless of how you're doing it -- even if it's with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has improved," she said.
Before jumping on the Ding Dong bandwagon, Blatner warned of health concerns.
"There are things we can't measure," said Blatner, questioning how the lack of fruits and vegetables could affect long-term health. "How much does that affect the risk for cancer? We can't measure how diet changes affect our health."
I was eating healthier, but I wasn't healthy. I was eating too much.
--Professor Mark Haubie diet

On August 25, Haub, 41, started his cake diet focusing on portion control.
"I'm eating to the point of need and pushing the plate or wrapper away," he said.
He intended the trial to last a month as a teaching tool for his class. As he lost weight, Haub continued the diet until he reached a normal body mass index.
Before his Twinkie diet, he tried to eat a healthy diet that included whole grains, dietary fiber, berries and bananas, vegetables and occasional treats like pizza.
"There seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy," Haub said. "It may not be the same. I was eating healthier, but I wasn't healthy. I was eating too much."
He maintained the same level of moderate physical activity as before going on the diet. (Haub does not have any ties to the snack cake companies.)
To avoid setting a bad example for his kids, Haub ate vegetables in front of his family. Away from the dinner table, he usually unwrapped his meals.
Haub monitored his body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, and updated his progress on his Facebook page,Professor Haub's diet experiment.
To curb calories, he avoided meat, whole grains and fruits. Once he started adding meat into the diet four weeks ago, his cholesterol level increased.
Haub plans to add about 300 calories to his daily intake now that he's done with the diet. But he's not ditching snack cakes altogether. Despite his weight loss, Haub feels ambivalence.
"I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it's healthy. I'm not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it's irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn't say that."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Talking to myself

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to think about topics in a comprehensive way. As I write, I try on different attitudes until I figure out which one belongs to me.

If you have read my blog for a while, you might think I am sentimental and mushy. But that's probably not the first, second, third or fourth impression you would get from actually being around me. I am blunt and no-nonsense. I like to think I am practical. I don't cry at weddings or births, just a little at funerals and when I'm really tired or watching the sweet or sad part of a favorite movie.

I write to share what I have seen and who I am, with "who I am" still evolving. (And I am learning, from comments on some posts, that what I thought I saw is disputable.)

While writing, I keep in mind that my friends read this blog. My children read it. My husband reads it. My parents read it. So there are some things I will never write about. I will puzzle out those areas on my own. Then there are the often funny things friends and family do, my boys especially. Yet if I told those stories, they would probably have to hurt me. They aren't little children who won't notice being used for laughs. What you read on this blog is a small piece of my whole.

What writing has done for me is reinforce the need to be skeptical when reading another person's thoughts or opinions, when studying history. You can't just read a headline and get the gist of it. You have to read the whole article, then read what someone else said and what another's opinion is....

Thinking about how we conduct ourselves, if you're like me, there are some things you only discuss with girlfriends, some things you only share with your spouse, some things you only share with one child or another. Yet to know me, you would need to know the whole. Even I, blind to some aspects of my personality, can't tell you why I've said or done some things. My actions would best be interpreted in context, using all the resources of those who know me, some time after the dust settled, hopefully with benefit of the doubt.

Our current political environment is filled with just the opposite approach. People want to take one sentence, out of context, and interpret it using only the mindset of their singular observation, or even worse, using the biased observations of others. There is no thoughtfulness, no study. How ridiculous! (How lazy!)

So read my little rant here as a gentle reminder to think before you speak and consider you may not know it all. Open your mind and take some time to consider. There are many mostly true sides to every story. Sometimes there is no truth at all.

In my own mind I am a warrior, fearless and tough, maybe just a little bit soft, maybe more soft than I want to admit. Check around and then take my word for it.