Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Pounds

I might be a little crazy to put myself up to this challenge, but it is something I've been thinking about and something I really want and need to do. What am I challenging myself to do? Nothing too hard I suppose. I am challenging myself to lose 10 pounds in about a month's time. Twenty-five days to be exact.
Losing 10 pounds in about a month is completely reasonable. It is only about 2.5 pounds a week. I can do that, right? Yet, I am only slightly (please read lots of sarcasm in my slightly) apprehensive that I'll be able to complete the task. Why?

Well, there are lots of reasons.

First off, I've never been successful at losing weight, only at putting it on. Over the past 10 years or so, I've pretty much done nothing but gain weight. Sometimes the weight gain was slow, and in my mind no big deal. At other times, the weight gain has been fast, and yet I still have a hard time controlling myself.

Secondly, I'm great at starting things, but not finishing them. I have no problem undertaking a task, but when I have to press onward to complete the task, or when the going starts to get a little tough I give up really easily or put it off until tomorrow. Just ask my husband about completing my graduate degree. I've been almost done for two years now . . . but that's another story for another post.

Thirdly, I'm lazy, terribly lazy. I hate this about myself, yet I am constantly making excuses for my laziness. I'll tell myself that I really deserve to be a bum on hang out on the couch watching TV even though there are things I need to get done. If I'm going to lose 10 pounds in 25 days, I'm going to have to spend some of my time working out.

And finally, I'm slightly skeptical because I'm challenging myself to lose ten pounds between now and Christmas. I already have three Christmas parties on the schedule, and one big family gathering before Christmas Day even arrives.

Something finally kicked in for me recently when I was considering this challenge. If I'm ever going to live the healthy life that I want to live, I'm going to have to learn to live that life all the time, even during holiday seasons. During the month of October, I found myself thinking, "Oh, once all the good pumpkin treats are gone for the season, I'll really start in on my diet." Once Halloween passed, I was rationalizing again, "Once Thanksgiving has passed, I'll really be careful with how I eat. After all, Thanksgiving time only comes around once a year." I cannot live my life always waiting for the next special time or season to pass before I commit to the healthy lifestyle I need to be living. There are too many holidays, birthdays, and special seasons year round to live my life that way.

Just a little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Although many women who develop gestational diabetes are not overweight when they become pregnant, being overweight is a risk factor for getting gestational diabetes (and I was definitely overweight when I became pregnant). I was diagnosed just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, and at first I felt like I'd really be missing out during the holiday season because I had to follow a very strict diet to control my blood sugar levels. And although there were definitely things I wanted to eat and enjoy that I couldn't, I learned that it is possible to make it through the holiday season without over-indulging. For this challenge, I'm leaning on my experience from last year.

I KNOW it is possible to lose these first 10 pounds of hopefully many more to come during the holiday season. At this point, I am way too embarrassed about my weight to post it. I will, however, post my gains and losses over the next 25 days. My goal is to be at -10 pounds on Christmas morning!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful!

If you've read my idea behind this blog, you might think that I'm dissatisfied with my life considering all the things that I really want to change. However, that is not the case at all! I love my life! I am blessed in more ways than I can count!
I've been contemplating what to type next for many days now, because I am thankful for so many things it is hard to them all into words,and honestly, I can't. Here are a few of the many, many things for which I am so thankful!
  • God: We are on this earth because God saw fit to create us. We are able to spend an eternity in heaven with Him, if we are obedient to His Word, because He sent His Only Son for us.
  • The Bible: I am so thankful that God gave us His revealed Word!
  • The availability of prayer: It is such a comfort to be able to communicate with God.
  • Spiritual family: I cannot begin to describe the blessing of my spiritual family. My brothers and sisters in Christ surround me, and we help each other on our journey to heaven.
  • Physical family: I am thankful for parents who raised me in the Lord. I am thankful for a strong Christian husband, who constantly challenges me and makes me a better person. I am thankful for my beautiful baby girl, and the blessing that she has been to me.
  • Friends: I am thankful for friends that I can laugh until I cry with and who also encourage me.
  • And many, many more things I don't have the time to list.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Forming My Relationship with Ella

Ella and I have both had a cold the past few days, and I've almost completely lost my voice from it. I've lost my voice so bad that my husband can't really hear me sitting on the next couch over from me. This is the first time that I've lost my voice since I've had Ella, and it made me realize something - I sing to Ella a lot. I sing spiritual songs and educational songs to her. Sometimes I sing crazy things to her that probably only a mom can understand (I'm not kidding when I say I sing songs about changing her clothing or changing her diaper, but you do what you do to make a baby smile!).
Losing my voice also made me realize that I talk to Ella a lot. I talk to her about many different things ranging from the silly to the serious. I know you are probably thinking, how serious can a conversation with a 9-month old be? But honestly, I talk to her about things she doesn't understand yet and things she won't understand for many more years to come, but a large part of my conversation with her is a training process for me. I need to be able to talk to her about silly things and about serious things. I need to be able to talk to her about physical things and spiritual things. I need to be able to talk to her not only so I can form a very special relationship with her, but also so that my husband and I can bring her up in the Lord.

In a Christian parenting book I read recently called Your Mama Don't Dance, the authors (Glenn and Cindy Colley) make the point that parents who get the attention of their teens are the parents who gave attention to their toddlers. It is important to me to start forming my relationship with my daughter now, while she is still young. I highly recommend Your Mama Don't Dance- this book has given me many great ideas for raising children in the Lord. One of the authors, Cindy Colley, also has a blog you might want to check out.

Snail Mail

I am terrible at sending anything out in the mail. I don't even have a good excuse as to why I'm so terrible. It takes me less than a minute to walk out my front door to my mailbox, raise the red flag, and walk back into my house. I could say that my problem is that I don't know what to say when I need to send out a thank you card or a note of encouragement, but that really isn't true. If I have the exact same task to do as an email, I have NO problem getting an email sent.
In a book I was reading through recently, I read something about changing habits. The author contended that most people don't give themselves near enough time to change the habit before giving up. He suggested writing down the things you want to change, and then revisiting the list, making sure that you are sincerely trying to make the change. I know I need to listen to this advice on many different levels (physically and spiritually). While my difficulty with actually sending out cards may seem like such a little thing, it really is representative of the way I handle other things in my life that I need to change as well. Here's my attempt writing down what I want to change.

I really want to be the lady who gets the thank you cards out promptly, whose anniversary and birthday cards always arrive before the special day, and who sends a card of encouragement to a new brother or sister in Christ. I want to be the one that already has a stash of cards on hand to send out at all times in whatever situation. I want to be the one who'll send a nice note "just because."

I have a few goals for myself over the next few weeks:
  1. Mail a thank you card to a couple to whom I am really, really thankful - and to whom I've been meaning to send a thank you card to for many weeks now.
  2. Mail a note of encouragement to some visitors who came to our congregation on Sunday.
  3. Mail Christmas cards this year. I don't know how many years in a row now I've actually bought Christmas cards and not sent them. They are making it into the mailbox this year!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I am thankful to be a child of God

I am so thankful to be a child of God! Let me say that again-I am so thankful to be a child of God! Tonight I was at a college football game, and four college-age guys were sitting directly behind us. At first, they seemed like OK guys, but I soon realized how sad their lives really were. One was talking about how they'd barely got by in college, but that was OK because dad was going to take care of a job when he finished school. Their conversation was dominated about drinking alcohol, and getting drunk. One had already planned how drunk he we be on a date a month from now. It was absolutely discouraging for me to realize how sunk into sin these individuals were, and how they were reveling in the ways of the world.

I am so thankful that I am a child of God. I know that I am not perfect in myself, but I am covered by Christ's blood. I am so thankful for the hope of eternal salvation.

"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:22-23)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fix-It Friday #37

Oh, how I wish we had these beautiful leaves where I lived in Texas! For this week's I Heart Faces Fix-It Friday, I used Lightroom to make my edits. I'm still really new to this editing thing, but I'm really enjoying working on these fixes every week.
Original photo:

My edit:

Be sure to check out all the other fixes!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin

During the month of September I checked the grocery store every time I went looking for a pumpkin to make pumpkin baby food for Ella. Pumpkin season fell perfectly for me to make pumpkin as a baby food for her. As the beginning of October rolled around, the pumpkins appeared in the stores. I grabbed one up the first time I saw them. As usual, I read about how to make the pumpkin on www.wholesomebabyfood.com. I did, however, buy my pumpkin prior to reading on the website. The website recommends buying a smaller pumpkin, sometimes called a sugar or pie pumpkin. Although I bought the wrong type of pumpkin, I plowed ahead.
I figured that the pumpkin would be cooked similarly to the butternut sqaush - and I was right. After removing the seeds and strings, place the pieces fleshside down in a little water in a baking dish, and bake at 400° until the skin puckers up. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it might have been simple if I had the proper knife for breaking down a full size pumpkin, but I don't. It took me quite a while to get all the pieces cut apart, and separated into several different dishes (I think I had to use 4 different baking dishes to get all the pieces in the oven at the same time). Even though it was difficult to break the pumpkin down, the result was definitely worth it. Once baked, the pumpkin flesh is easily removed from the pumpkin skin. I pureed most of the pumpkin, and froze it in the ice cube trays. What I didn't puree, I cut into small dices for Ella to eat as finger food once she got a little older. I froze small servings of the pumpkin dices in packages I made with Glad Press 'n Seal.

The two best parts of making the pumpkin:
  1. Ella loved it.
  2. I got to roast fresh pumpkin seeds for myself. I LOVE fresh pumpkin seeds roasted with some butter and salt . . . yum :)

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

One of the reasons fall is my favorite time of year is my love for pumpkin. I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, and, well, the list could go on! Last night I combined my love for pumpkin with my love for cream cheese desserts, and made a pumpkin spice cheesecake. I scanned many different recipes for pumpkin cheesecake, but I couldn't find one that fit completely with the quantity (and type) of ingredients I already had on hand, so I created my own recipe based on what I thought might work from looking at other recipes. My pumpkin spice cheesecake probably has a little more "spice" in it than most - but we love cinnamon around our house.

This cheesecake filling made enough for two cheesecakes - one with a crust (store bought graham cracker crust because I was in a hurry and it is easy) and one without a crust. We tasted the one without the crust, which is why there is not a picture of that one. :) However, I think if you made a true cheesecake (in a springform pan), this would be the perfect amount of filling for one cheesecake.

Ingredients
  • 2 packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (I only slightly considered using some of Ella's pureed baby food pumpkin before chickening out)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
Mix cream cheese, flour, and sugar until well-combined. Add pumpkin, sour cream, and spices and mix well. Add eggs one at a time on low speed until they are just incorporated. Pour mixture into graham cracker crust (or pie pan if you are doing a crustless version).
Bake at 325° for approximately 45 minutes in crust, or 30 minutes without crust.

Add cool whip on top as an added touch!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love Texas, but ...

...we don't have beautiful fall colors where we live in Texas. In fact, our grass is still green and growing, and when I took my daughter outside to take some pictures she didn't even need to wear long sleeves! The only reason I have dead patches in my yard is because we had a terrible drought over the summer. I know I'm going to be jealous of all the fall colors as I look through the other entries in the I Heart Faces Autumn Beauty Challenge this week.




Happy Fall!

There are no words . . .

When I caught Ella doing this new trick, I almost died laughing. I was so upset because I didn't have my camcordernearby, but she did it again, and this time I was prepared. :) By the way, ignore my shaky recording (and that the sound is a little quiet) . . .I was sitting kind of far away so I had to zoom in a lot and I was afraid if I got up she'd quit doing it. Oh, and it is shaky because I am trying to hold in my laughter.

video

By the way, Ella was playing in the Fisher-Price Precious Planet Jumperoo when she started blowing raspberries on her arm. She loves her jumperoo!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Creation Cards

When Ella was born, one of my close friends got her these Creation Cards: Exploring God's Creation. I love them! These cards have beautiful pictures of items in God's creation, from the moon to rocks to beaches. On the back, these cards have different facts about the item on the front. Right now, I show Ella the picture on the card and simply tell her that "God created the moon" or whatever is on the card. As she gets older, they'll continue to be a great tool to teach her about God and His creation.

I was showing Ella these cards last night, and was thinking how much I really wish they had these cards with animals on them. When I went to the website to get a link for this post I found Creation Cards: God's Animal Kingdom. I was so excited - the last time I looked they didn't have these cards. I'm planning on getting Ella some of these in the near future.




Be sure to check out the website where these items are sold. Apologetics Press has a ton of great information defending the Word of God.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fix-It Friday #36


Once again, I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to practice editing photos by doing I Heart Faces Fix-It Friday. I made my edits with GIMP.

Here is the original:

And here are my edits:

Check out other edits here.

A Little Change Gives Me Hope (grocery shopping)

If you've read my post about the idea for this blog, you know there are many things that I am striving to be in my life. For a long time, I've felt as though I get in a rut when it comes to how I do things in my life, making it very hard for me to make changes even when I really need and want to make these changes. However, having Ella has helped me make changes that I've always wanted to make, but never had really attempted before.

Since I've had Ella, I've been much more financially conscious - particularly when it comes to the amount of money we spend on groceries and household items. I've finally paid attention to what I'm buying and how much I spend. I'm actually embarrassed thinking back to how I would grocery shop before I really started paying attention to what I was doing. Before, I'd spend way too much money for a week's worth of groceries, and STILL not have everything I'd need for the week and end up going back to the store two or three times before the week was up. Now, I spend a lot less money, have everything I need for the week (and sometimes more left over for next week), and rarely have to go back to the store.
  • Before: I'd buy whatever I felt like without really thinking if I was getting enough for the week or covering everything I needed.
    Now: While I don't plan exact meals for the week before going shopping (perhaps this is the next step), I do take the time at the store to make sure that I am covering everything.
  • Before: I'd use coupons if they were stuck on the product on the store shelf.
    Now: I actively coupon, and have quite a stock pile of coupons for many different things.
  • Before: I never paid attention to the prices of items, and because of that, often paid way more than necessary.
    Now: I watch the prices of items, know a great price, and take the opportunity to stockpile (thus saving money in the long run).
Here are a few of my favorite sites for information about couponing:
The other day my husband mentioned that his new favorite quote from me was "I have a coupon for that!" His comment made me realize that I really have changed for the good!

What are your favorite ways to save money on groceries and other everyday purchases?


Friday, November 6, 2009

Fix-It Friday #35

Once again, I couldn't resist trying my hand at the "I Heart Faces Fix-It Friday" - it gives me such a great opportunity to learn more about editing. For this image, I made my first attempt at making eyes "pop" by following this tutorial. However, I don't have photoshop, so I made my edits using GIMP.

Here is the original:

Here's my edit:
And one more . . . because I think my original edit was too bright.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hot Glue


Today was Ella's first Halloween. I decided fairly last minute that I'd get her a costume (and I'm glad I did!) but because I waited so late, I couldn't find anything in her size. When I found her "pea in a pod" costume, I really thought it was good for her (especially since she was "Lima" for so long to us). The only problem with the costume is that it was way too small. Oddly enough, it was a 6-9 month size (and she's just now 9 months old) but her legs didn't come close to fitting in the suit. So, I cut leg holes out of the bottom, and ended up having to hot glue the inside lining to the outside fur so it wouldn't fray. While I'm glad it ended up looking pretty cute, I really wish that I had the skills to sew it, but then again, maybe I don't need to learn to sew - all I really needed was the hot glue!