Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the annual birthday party

This year's party for Jesus was pretty much the same as the past few years'
except this year we had brownies and icecream,
the pickle was found so quickly
(by Jeremiah again)
that there was a torrent of tears by the youngest three
and harsh words hollered (for several minutes straight...) by the littlest.

We're re-thinking the whole pickle thing.
The kids earn extra money for Christmas giving (both for siblings and Jesus) by doing extra jobs around the house.
Problem was,
this year,
I wasn't on the ball
at all.
I offered up double the pay from previous years (which was generous already) until I got my chart made.
I never got my chart made.
So they ended up being compensated quite nicely for their work.

Next year - I'm getting a chart made up nice and early.

Amazingly enough,
even though it would have earned them a ton of money
(money could be earned daily for some jobs...)
not one time
washed the bathroom floor.
That is one hated job, I tell ya!


This year
we bought Jesus' gifts through Heifer International, World Vision, and Compassion.
I didn't keep track of each person's gifts - there was a lot of 'going in together' on things,
plus it was kinda fast and furious there for a little while.

We were especially happy to find that Heifer had bees, a hive, and training for only $30,
so we gave 2  gifts of bees
3 flocks of chickens
2 flocks of ducks and geese.
5 fruit trees
and a rabbit
(I'm really hoping somebody else gave a rabbit, too...).
We gave to 3 different clean water projects
a safe playground.
We gave a newborn care package that included a toy, as well as basic necessities,
and fed 2 mommas and their babies for a month.
We gave parasite protection for 3 children
a mosquito net.
We gave to an emergency fund to help mommas and babies survive,
to emergency food funds that will multiply 5 times
a nice chunk of money that will multiply ten times to an emergency clothes fund.

We still haven't found affordable safe heat to give,
but maybe next year...

Happy Birthday, Jesus.
We love you!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

frustrated and mad and sad and discouraged

I don't need the hormone that suppresses appetite.
Or makes you not binge-eat.
Or tells you when you are full.
Or makes you not want to eat carby things.

(can you tell I'm googling hormones and weight-loss again?)

I need the one(s) that will release the fat stored on my body
and the one(s) that will make me want to exercise.

And while I'm on the subject -
why are there photos of bony women in articles about hormones and weight loss?
And why
is always assumed that you are fat because you eat nothing but junk, and too much of it?
And why
do they tell you that these vital weight hormones will level off naturally,
once you've, you got it, lost weight?!
Today is my 4 week weight/size progress check in
and let me tell you 
it is not pretty.

And I am beyond discouraged.

The good news is, 
I was faithful to exercise every day except for Sundays.
I'm up to 90 squats and crunches.
I increased my weights whenever possible as I went through the 8 Minutes in the Morning book again.
I ate well.
I gave myself permission to eat whatever I want on special occasions
like Thanksgiving, Jeremiah's birthday, and various holiday related festivities.
Even so, I didn't go hog wild.

The bad news is - it didn't pay off.

I only lost .6 lbs.
In four weeks.
Your average joe could drop a big dooker and lose that in 8 seconds.
And inch-wise,
I lost a smidge in a few areas, but in several areas, I gained fractions of inches.

If I wasn't so stinking sick of being fat,
I'd just give up.
But I am,
so I'll keep plugging away like the stubborn fool that I am.
And maybe, like Tyler says, it'll all pay off...
But I'm kinda losing my optimism about that.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

a mug rug, with a whole lot of yammering

turned into not a coffee cup exchange - and just a small gift exchange.
But  here we were with a whole bunch of 'new' coffee cups...
so I wanted to go ahead and use them.
(another family did the same thing - so we still came home with 3 new cups :-)

Michelle will be so happy, because,
I finally made a mug rug!
I thought it was the perfect way to enhance my coffee cup
(along with some oreos, of course)
and it was nice to get to make a little something.
(both my crafting and reading time have been fairly nonexistent lately.
And I still have a few hours of secret sewing that I'm going to have to fit in
real quick here somehow....)

Of course, I prefer to hand sew bindings, but since things are a little busy these days
and it was an extra project, I went ahead and tried my hand at machine binding.
(I still prefer hand sewing.)

(I bought m&ms to go with Tyler's cup
and Brandon's we gave with a festive deck of cards,
cookie stick things,
a couple packets of hot chocolate mix 
and candy canes.)
The kids all got to keep the cup we'd bought for them to give
and since we had an extra,
Brandon kept the tall green one too,
that really is a sweet coffee cup!

Roberta chose my gift and seemed pretty pleased with both the mug and the rug,
so I let her keep it
and chose another gift.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to make a few more of these,
because the kids think they're swell.
Or better yet,
maybe they can make their own...
And then I can hand sew the bindings on for them :-)

linking up with Elizabeth's with needle and thREAD

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

tidbits on a Tuesday

Life is moving by at warp speed.
I cannot keep up.

Friday, the day's priority was to get packages in the mail.
I'm hoping I didn't give my sisters-in-law heart attacks.
I have never, ever, mailed their Christmas packages in such a timely manner.
the nieces and nephews got their Christmas money in June.
Having a son and daughter-in-law on the other side of the country put my butt in gear.

After the Post Office, we went thrift shopping.
We needed some cups for a coffee cup exchange.

We tried out a few of them that night - you know, to see if we wanted to make sure to get our own cups ;-)
I thought they looked pretty when I stuck 'em in the microwave to heat 'em up.
(what? you don't heat up your cups for your coffee? we are such snobs.)
(The yellow cup was not purchased for the exchange. It is too perfect for us.)

I don't even remember what we did Saturday.
Oh yes.
Tyler had to work for a few hours.
And then I beat him at backgammon time and time (and time) again.
Does anything else even matter?

On Sunday afternoon, after a quick lunch,
we went to the King Opera House for Earthen Vessel's production of A Christmas Carol.
We had several friends in it this year, and didn't want to miss it.
It was very well done and we all enjoyed it,
and enjoyed seeing our friends excel.
The kids enjoyed the cookies they had during intermission, too ;-)

After the show, we talked about going to Academy;
they had kettle bells on sale for $1.09/lb and they were on our list to buy for the gym.
If you've ever priced kettle bells, you know that is an excellent price!
Tyler took us to McD's for a burger snack
before we headed.
(During which time T and I texted back and forth about the pretty sky :-)
We ended up deciding not to drive into FSM,
and just have Tyler run over at lunch time on Monday.

So, we went to the Hodo's  Christmas light show instead.
Which, of course, meant a stop in at Dollar General for candy canes first.
Only, when we went to grab the candy canes, 
we saw those big plastic candy canes full of sixlets
and thought the kids would be tickled if we surprised them with those, instead.
So we did. :-)
(But just in case not keeping tradition exactly was going to be a problem with anybody, we bought a box of regular canes, too.)
This year's show was dedicated to those serving (or who have served) in the military,
so Tyler texted our Marine to share it with him.
(Of course, in person, it's much more enjoyable)

Last night the pastors had a dinner for the elders and their wives,
so Tyler and I went to that while Brandon stayed home with the kids.
(and fixed dinner, and dessert, and had them in bed when we got home!)
(thanks, Bud!!)
The food was delicious (I ate 1 1/2 rolls - oh they were so good!) and the fellowship was sweet.
We had to play a stupid game which really cut into our visiting time, though.
(and we didn't win! pooh)
Par for the course, we were among the last to leave.
Just following in my parents' footsteps... ;-)

Tonight is TaeKwanDo and grocery shopping
so I can get all the extra food stuffs I need for the 5 parties we have in the next 5 days.
Anybody want to place bets on how much I'll forget??

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

an evening with Ernst

Several years ago, my mother-in-law introduced me,
via the books on her coffee table,
to nature photographer, Tim Ernst.

Knowing of her affection for his work, 
for Christmas one year, we bought her an autographed copy of Arkansas Spring.
The book now lives with us, up high, so as not to get ruined by not careful hands.

We've periodically checked out more of Tim's books from the library,
but, up 'til last night,
we'd never purchased another.

Two months ago, I happened to see on facebook that he was doing a slideshow in FSM.
I knew Jeremiah would love to go,
I'd want to go,
and probably others, too,
so I made a mental note, and forwarded the info to Tyler.
Seeing that my 'mental notes' aren't always reliable,
I checked back periodically,
to make sure we didn't miss it.

We decided on Tuesday night that everyone wanted to go (except Lily. But I'm not entirely sure she wasn't just being a toot...)
so we figured out logistics
and by 7:00 last night, we were sitting in a room full of old people waiting for the show to begin.

It was fun listening to Tim share anecdotes about certain shots
(some of which he includes in his books)
and seeing his (crisp, clear) pictures on a big screen was neat.
I'll admit the q&a session afterwards went on a bit longer than I would have preferred, though.
It's not that I wasn't interested,
but the girls were getting antsy,
it was well past 8,
I hadn't eaten since noon,
and I still wanted to pick out some books :-)

The boys, of course wanted everything, once we finally got shop.
The books were a great price (I'd already checked Amazon, so I'd know ;-)
so we settled on 5 'coffee table' books and a couple of guide books, 
and as a special treat for the boys (mostly Josiah, actually, because he has kept up with marking off days all year)
a calendar for their room.
They're going to try to take extra good care of it, so we can frame the pictures later.
After we paid for our selections, we got everything autographed :-)

Looking at nature pictures
and book shopping 
might not be everyone's idea of a good time,
but it suits our family quite nicely.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

diamonds in the sky

breakfast by the boys

Yeah, we finally bought it for the kid ;-)

Lexi was just sure she wouldn't like them because they have onions in 'em.
(sound like anyone you know, Kacy? ;-)

She had to apologize to her brother;
it turns out that in spite of the onions,
the fritters were quite delicious.
Especially smothered in dill sauce.

...just because I had the camera out.

Thanks, Bran, for helping  your bubs cook.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

didn't make it to church this morning?

Turn your speakers up as loud as you like them. 
Then - trust me on this - crank it up a few more notches
and listen to this song.
On repeat.

For best results - dance clean while you listen.
(note - my computer can't get loud enough, I have to listen on my phone - with speakers)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

follow up

My post the other day sparked some discussion with Tyler
so I wanted to follow up with some thoughts.

I believe the two instances I mentioned
(measurement taking, and Brandon carrying Josiah to the mailbox and the lightbulb moment that followed)
were most definitely the catalysts for change.

I think the timing of Emily sharing THM was serendipitous.
The book was beneficial to me in a couple of ways:

It reinforced some of my already held ideas about nutrition.

It helped me to realize that it was okay for my kids 
- who expend more energy than I do, and have faster metabolisms - 
to eat some things that it isn't okay for me to eat, due to my slow metabolism,
namely foods that are higher on the Glycemic Index.
They are quite thrilled with this :-)

I never want to 'diet' (and THM says they are not a 'diet') I always say any sustainable weight loss requires real change.
But the reality, for me, is, I've made dietary changes. Lots of them over the years.
And they don't result in significant weight loss.
So - I need to diet if I'm going to lose weight.
As much as that pains me....
I'm fairly confident I will be able to keep the weight off,
but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
So, for a time,
I am okay with sometimes eating something other than what the family eats.
(most often, tuna, drained, straight out of the can, and a salad with pepperoncinis. I sound like 'Lish ;-)

The whole single fueling was new to me - and I do follow their guidelines on this, but not exactly.
(I'm sure this surprises absolutely no one ;-)
I can tell you, in great detail, my thoughts on it if you'd like ;-)

Most importantly,
(I think. I may change my mind on this...)
THM helped me believe I could actually 
really and truly
lose the weight.

Also, it inspired me to be more intentional and faithful with my exercise.
(which, as you  know, didn't really last that long before I got discouraged and quit...;-) I'm definitely a work in progress.)
And just so you know ~ I don't swallow everything in the book hook, line, and sinker.
But really, what book do I? ;-)

Tyler and I believe that my weight and size loss
has mostly been a result of the strength training.

But also
my diligence in eating carefully.
Even more carefully than I have in the past.
My ability to say "no" to foods I'd previously go ahead and indulge in 
is greater due to the fact that I really am tired of being fat.
(That said, when I buy chips for the kids, I buy BBQ potato chips, not Doritos. I'm not made of steel...)
(In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that some Oreos came into the house recently
and I ate 3.
And then the next day, I ate 2.
But ya'll, ordinarily when Oreos find their way into my cart, I eat waaaay more than that.
Like I said, no magic willpower here ;-)

those are my thoughts
just in case you were wondering...

Monday, December 2, 2013

brother love

Jeremiah is
by far
our most social child.

He wanted the McCs to come over to play for a few hours for his birthday today,
and they had planned to,
but after I told them that we've had sickness in the house,
they decided it would be best not to come;
several of the kids have worked months
to be in a production of A Christmas Carol this weekend
and they just couldn't risk a tummy bug.

Josiah (who had most recently puked) said,
"I can just stay in our room - that way, they could still come over."

I assured him that it wasn't just because of him - the girls or I could get sick at any moment
and there may be germs in the house still
and we'd feel just horrible if any of our friends got sick and had to miss their play!

Josiah ~  I am so proud of you
for being willing to not play with your friends,
so that your brother could!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

new(ish) stove

about 6 weeks ago
I noticed that the oven element was about to go out.
TJ (or was it Tyler? I forget) suggested ordering a new one
so that when it did die (or go up in flames, as was the case) we wouldn't have to wait for a replacement.
Which was a really  great idea.
I never got around to ordering one
before it burnt up less than 2 weeks later.

It took Brandon and I awhile to figure out for sure just which element we needed
(we were missing a few digits in the model number)
but we finally got one ordered and it arrived a few days later.

I'd been having suspicions about my left front element on the stove-top, too;
it seemed like it wasn't really heating properly,
like medium was low, but high was extra high sort of thing.
As usual, I'd just worked with it
and re-adjusted how I cooked on it.

About 2 weeks after we got the oven element fixed 
(which was a couple of weeks ago)
Tyler found a crack in the stovetop going across the front left burner.
well, crap!
I knew I hadn't dropped anything on it to break it,
so Brandon and I figured it had something to do with the burner acting funny.

We looked into replacing the glass top, but it cost almost as much as a brand new stove,
so that didn't seem prudent.
Tyler found a decent looking stove on craigslist for only $50 (which is a huge bargain)
but we decided to save the money and just keep our stove;
the oven worked fine
(I had a new element after all)
and I still had three burners,  so I would make do.

And then a few nights ago,
the crack spread to the rear left burner
and my favorite right front burner!

Of course, I suggested googling just how unsafe it would be to use the stovetop anyways.
But given my propensity to forget things
and the fact that I'd already had 2 pots of water boil over in the past week,
that didn't seem like a very wise option.

now I have a new(ish) stove / range whatever you want to call it.
(cost more than 50 bucks though. grr)

Terri - I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking - "Man, that sister of mine sure does go through the appliances!"
I think you're right.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Remember a few months ago, when I made my croquis?
Well, Penny was going to come over and help me take my measurements.
The day she was scheduled to come, 
was smack in the middle of my cycle.
Mid-cycle is even worse than PMS for me. 
(which is it's own 5-6 day little hell)
In addition to feeling all out of sorts,
I was so bloaty that my waist measured 1 3/4 inches bigger than my usual big measurement
so I texted her that we'd do it later.
But I was so disgusted with myself
and what those measurements would be,
that I never re-scheduled.

A few days after that,
Brandon had given Josiah a piggy back ride to the mailbox and back.
He mentioned that he was surprised how much harder the trip was
carrying that extra weight.
Josiah weighs about 54 lbs.
I said, "Yeah. That's pretty much how much extra weight I carry around all the time."

It's kind of shocking to think about. I carry around a whole extra (good sized) person. All of the time.

I am
of being

Right about that time, a friend started occasionally linking to the Trim Healthy Mama page on facebook
so I took a peek at it.
I'd heard of the book before, but since it was pricey
(and the authors are naturally tall and thin) I hadn't bothered to really investigate.
After a few weeks of stalking their FB page and checking out a few blogs, I ordered the book.

On August 25th
I started putting into practice what I learned in Trim Healthy Mama (THM from here on out).
It's pretty much how we've eaten for the past few years, with one exception.
THM recommends only a tiny bit of fat with carbs,
when we ate carbs,
we ate them with lots of fats.
I'd learned that fat slows the absorption of carbs, so there isn't an insulin spike.
In true Tracy form, if some is good, more is better....
In theory, that was good (and fine for a thin person)
but when you fuel your body with both fats and  (healthy) carbs in the same meal,
the fat fuels sorta gets 'locked in' while the sugar fuels get used up, making it more difficult to lose weight. 

In addition to 'single fueling'
(which, quite honestly I did most of the time anyways, simply because I don't eat a lot of carbs...)
I started working out a little.

I lost a few pounds.
I gained a few pounds.

I got discouraged and quit adding in the exercise, but I still ate properly.
Then my friend, Michelle,
whom I met  through Elizabeth's 'with needle and thREAD sewing circle' that I like to participate in,
wrote a post about getting fit.
I joked that her pursuit of fitness would get in the way of her sewing.
(I can't seem to do both...)
and it inspired me to suck it up and work out.
Even when I didn't feel like it.

Every single day, except Sundays, since October 18th, I have worked out.
Many of those days,
I have cried.
It has been so. stinkin. hard.
I've discovered that I only have about 5 days a month where my body cooperates with me,
and the scale is kind to me,
and I actually want to exercise.
(I have got to get my hormones balanced!)
On the bad days - I can only  do 5, or, 3, or even just 2 crunches before I have to rest.
On a good day, though, I can knock out 30 without stopping.

You like my sweet shoes? $3 at a yardsale. Bought 'em for Jeremiah, then tried 'em on. ahhh. so they became mine :-)
(I never ever would have thought I would ever wear black tennies!)

I've been frustrated and discouraged
because I'm not getting the results other people are.
The THM authors post success stories just about every day on facebook.
Those stories are why I bought the book.
Now, though,
I'm just being honest here,
those stories 
There are women who started doing THM the same time I did 
and they have lost 20 and even 30 lbs already.

I expected to lose somewhat slowly, because really,
I didn't drastically change my eating habits.
But I did expect to lose more quickly than I'm losing.
Which is silly
because it's always been very hard for me to lose weight...

Tyler keeps telling me to just keep doing what I'm doing
and eventually it'll all pay off.
And I do,
I am
(bless his heart - he has to listen to me whine and moan and fuss and cry 25 days a month, and brag the other 5 ;-)

While I'm not losing as quickly as I'd like,
or as much as I think I should be, given how and how much (or rather, how little...) I eat,
I am losing.

In the past 3 months,
I've lost 12 lbs.
(I'd lost another 5 previously, somewhere between going to the DR for my knee in June and when I weighed when I started THM.)
I didn't take any measurements 'til Oct 28th,
so my 'inch losses' are actually greater than what I've recorded
but in the past 4 weeks,
I've lost:
upper arms - 1/2 inch R, 3/4 inch L
upper bust - 3/4 inch
bust - 1 3/4inches
 (of course. Of course this is where I'd see my biggest loss. sheesh)
waist - none yet.
(What the heck?!) (I did have a loss of 1" prior to taking measurements 10/28 though. As a seamstress, I knew my waist measurement...)
hips - 1 inch
thighs - 1 inch each
calves - 1/2 in R, 3/4 in L

(It's interesting to note that in the 4 weeks that I lost the above inches,
I only lost 2 of the 12 pounds.
Makes me wish I'd taken measurements earlier.)

Most of my shirts look sloppy on me because they are too big.
I bought a few new ones. size m (What?!)
I had to buy a new pair of jeans, even with my elastic in the waist trick, they were too big and looked horrible.
The new ones are size 12
I haven't worn a size 12 in a dozen years.
(maybe even longer.)

I'm not really feeling any better yet,
although, some days, when I have lots of pure deep fats (coconut oil or MCT) my brain fog is lessened a bit.
I keep hoping that my hormones will level off,
but honestly, this past month was pretty awful.
Like I'm moving in the wrong direction...
I'm taking really good notes and will make an appointment with Dr Baker in Dec or January
to change up my prescription.

My heel still bugs me fairly often, but it's tolerable;
my knee has been pretty good for the most part.
Dr Bolyard  had told me the best thing I could do for it was strengthen my leg muscles - which I'm doing...

I am doing 75 squats, 75 crunches, (I started with waaaay fewer and have worked my way up) and 50 of the daily strength training exercises in our 8 Minutes in the Morning book every day (except Sundays).
I'll continue to increase the squats and crunches by 5 every week, 'til I hit 100.
I also do several 'bursts on the bike' (hop on the bike and go all out crazy fast for 45 seconds) 
but really should do more.
I've just started doing inverted and negative pull ups last week,
so someday I can maybe do a real pull up (that doesn't involve climbing the wall with my feet ;-)
And you already know I can do a 2 minute plank ;-)
(that would, of course, be on one of my good days ~ I don't even try to plank most days)

I still have a long ways to go.
But that's where I'm at right now.
Because I finally decided
I was
- you got it -
of being 

Special thanks to Emily, for encouraging me to buy THM,
and to Michelle, for encouraging me to exercise daily,
and of course to my family
for all of your support and help and praise and encouragement. XO

Sunday, November 24, 2013

new car smell

The other day,
Jeremiah said something about 'new car smell'.

Having never owned, or even been in a brand new car, I said, "I don't even know what new car smells like." 
Jeremiah replied,
And for us, cigarettes."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

black belt!

So proud of my boys hard work these past three years!

Brandon earned a black belt in TaeKwonDo today
and Jeremiah and Josiah passed their midterms with flying colors.
Great Job, guys!!

Way to go!!

If you want to see videos of the boys breaking their boards (and you really should! ;-) ) click on their names:

Many thanks to Meggy for taking these pictures for me!!! (Love you, Sweetie!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

colors of fall

My photography skills are seriously lacking - I know this.
But this fall our yard has been so pretty,
I had to at least try and capture a few of my views.
These pictures don't come close to capturing what my eyes see, but it's the best I could do.

You know,
when summer turned into fall, I was really quite bummed.
For starters,
I wasn't ready for summer to be over yet;
I still had things I'd wanted to do....
But also,
fall means winter is next.
And I'm really not ready for that!

We went out to Natural Dam a few weeks ago,
and the color had already peaked,
and many of the trees had already lost all of their leaves.
I was so sad - all the ugly is just right around the corner. pooh!

In addition to this fall being especially pretty, though,
it seems to be hanging on....

I guess that's why I've been especially grateful for the color that remains ~ it all feels like a glorious bonus to me.
(and the beautiful weather that has accompanied it at times has been a lovely bonus, too)

At least there will be a bit of color in the chicken coop this winter :-)