Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 7: Christmas Treats

I have no idea how I missed this one the firs time around last year, but one of my absolute FAVORITE FAVOURITE [take note of the British spelling for effect] parts of the Christmas season is......... the food. No surprise there, right? But not even regular food, like meals. No, no, no, I am talking about the sugary, delicious, wonderful attack on our bodies that becomes our meals when we are not paying attention. Okay, the one exception is the pistachios we get from Baga every year. Those are not sugary. But they fall into the category of treat, and they also have been the spoil of many a meal.
In our house, we have a few select Christmas treats that we ourselves make. Coffee cake, thanks to our years in Cincinnati, has become what we are known for. We make them in bulk and give them out to our special friends and neighbors. It is delicious, so not nutritious, and can fill the place of any meal or snack of your choosing. It is good stuff.But it was not always so. We used to make cinnamon rolls for our friends and neighbors. That was back when we had a few friends and even fewer neighbors. Cinnamon rolls are the most amazing creation known to man. The recipe is my mom's, mixed with a bread recipe from an old and dearly loved friend from our past. There is a lot of work, and a lot of mess, involved with these, which is why we stopped giving them out. Now they are just for us....and the people at Dad's work who won't let him stop bringing them.
Pre-icing, but still. Don't they look tempting?
The other treat we make is also just for us. Christmas cookies. Which is basically sugar cookies in Christmas shapes and with icing on them. Those are usually gone within a few days, as we seem to consume multiple cookies each day. We have bene making these since we were tiny tots, and we still make make them together. I think it's just as important for us to make them as it is for us to eat them. We love it.
Last year's adventure. This is right before J pounded Mom with a face of flour.
BUT we also tend to receive Christmas treats from various people. My personal favorites are buckeyes, chocolate covered pretzels, and peppermint bark. A few years ago, we got IBC root beer decorated like reindeer. That was awesome.
But I am not picky. I am open to try any and all Christmas treats. Bring 'em by and I'll give you a "Merry Christmas" in return, and let you know how it goes. And maybe I'll sneak you a treat. You never know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 6: Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning

Gather 'round, my children. It is time for me to let you in on the inner secrets that are the C family Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning traditions. You are about to embark upon a journey from which there is no return. If you are prepared, venture on. If not, no one will think less of you for turning back.....okay, we will, but not to your face.
Christmas Eve is a treasured time to the C family. The traditions date back to....uh.....well, far enough that I don't remember NOT doing them, how's that? It starts off with dinner, which used to be kind of a big deal, but now we've toned it down. For the last few years, we've done soup in a bread bowl from Panera, which is always delicious. After dinner, we wait around anxiously for the next cue. When ready, we read the story of the Nativity from the Bible. This is key, as it is what Christmas is all about. Then.....when we have permission......we go upstairs to the parentals' bedroom, where all of the presents have been waiting and we bring them down to the family room. Once they are all down, we begin arranging them under the tree. It is quite the process. Big presents have to go towards the back, and you have to spread the presents out so that one person's presents aren't too close together. It's important.
Then.....when Mom feels like it's time.....and if we've been good......she goes upstairs and gets our Christmas Eve presents. Traditionally, we get an ornament and pajamas. We mark the ornaments with our initial and the year, then find a place for it on the tree. Then we change into our pajamas. That's fun. Then we all go take pictures in front of the tree. This is important for in the next morning. THEN it's time for........Dad to read us our Christmas story. [YAY!] Anyone catch the reference? Anyone? Okayyyyyy. Actually, Dad used to make up a story for us. The four of us kids would go and save Christmas somehow from whatever  bad guys were threatening it. Those were some funnnnnn stories.  Dad would get really quiet and then scare us with his loud voice and it was awesome. Now he just reads one, which is still fun. Maybe this year we can get him to tell the story again.......
Then it's off to bed! We kids normally sleep in the same room [except the marrieds + babies] and we always set our alarm. WHAT? Set an alarm on CHRISTMAS? YES! Because we aren't allowed to wake our parents up until 7:00. So we do. Every. Year. Alarms go off at 6:50, and we brush our hair and/or teeth, then when the clock hits 7:00 on the dot, we race into the parentals' bedroom and wake them up. They are always already up, but still in bed. Then we have to coax them out of bed, usually by scratching Dad's back and rubbing Mom's feet. We ignore their complaints about wanting to shower and/or shave and then, when they say so, we can go downstairs and LOOK at the presents, but not touch. So we do. It's always fun to see what Santa brought for us and who has the biggest present under the tree. We all know good things come in small packages, but it's a pride thing. Biggest present wins.
Then we go back upstairs and see how Mom and Dad are progressing. Usually, they are up and ready, so we go back downstairs and turn on Christmas music, hand out stockings, take another picture in front of the tree with the stockings, and then wait for everyone to get situated in their traditional spots. Then.....we have at. But JUST on stockings. Always a good time, those stockings. Then we get to the Santa presents, which we open one at a time in age order. And we have to pose for a picture with our present in between. It's quite the ordeal. Once the Santa gifts are done, we go get breakfast from the kitchen. Cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk and/or hot chocolate are the norm. Then we bring it all back into the family room, and begin the present opening. One at a time. In age order.
When all is said and done, we have "fashion shows" to make sure everything fits, eat more, and nap.
There you go. Those are the C family Christmas traditions. Intense, no? Every year someone tries to change something, and usually, they do not have success. The rest of us protest. Why? Because we love our traditions. A lot. Heaven help our own families when we start this all over again.

The Christmas Eve Story

We do take normal pictures, I's the most complete, recent, NORMAL Christmas picture I have. =)
Hope you all have fun traditions. If not, MAKE SOME!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 5: Spirit

So sorry for my lapse in days, things were crazy what with a birthday and service projects and weekend.... But I am here now, and have a plan.
I gave a talk in my church on Sunday about the true spirit of Christmas, and I thought that for today's post, I would share it with you.
When I was a child, I was so excited by everything about Christmas. Christmas lights, Christmas songs, Christmas trees, Christmas cookies, letters to Santa, everything. Not much has changed as I’ve grown up. But there was one year when I was about ten that I was terrified of Christmas being completely ruined.

For one, it was raining. It shouldn’t rain on Christmas.

For two, we were changing our Christmas Eve tradition by going over to someone else’s house for dinner and the Nativity. You just don’t mess with tradition.

And finally….because when we got back to our house on that rainy, nontraditional Christmas Eve, all of the lights were out, the garage door wasn’t working, and we did not have a house key.

I was horrified. All of our presents were inside the house. The stockings, the cinnamon rolls, the Christmas cookies, the new pajamas we hadn’t opened yet…how could it be Christmas if we didn’t get to have Christmas?

Thankfully, one of my parents has to have a window open if the temperatures are not sub-arctic, and so their window was cracked. My dad hoisted my brother up onto the roof and he crawled to the window, lifted it open, and promptly fell into the room. He opened the front door and we all went inside, and Christmas was saved.

I’ve thought about that Christmas Eve a lot since then. I knew that it would still be Christmas even if we were trapped in our car, in the rain, without any of my normal Christmas stuff, but that meant very little to me. I wanted the stuff.

Time and time again as I remember that Christmas, I remember another Christmas. One that was also different.

We had finished dinner and were getting ready to put all of the presents under our tree when my parents told us they were changing things. We were all to go to our rooms and find three things we could give away. Confused, but obedient, we did so. When we came back down, they told us there was family in our ward who would not be getting Christmas presents. They asked us to look at our toys and see if we would be willing to give them to this family. We agreed, and in some cases ran back upstairs to get something better, and then got in the car and drove to the house. To this day, I do not know the family’s name, and I could not tell you where they lived. But I will never forget going up the porch, sneaking just as quietly as I could, and leaving my presents on the porch with the rest of the toys, food, and other presents, ringing the doorbell, and then running for our lives back to our car. That was a Christmas I treasure, not because someone else got to get stuff, even though they did. What I treasure is the feeling I had as I ran back to the car, knowing that I had given something without expecting anything in return. It wasn't the stuff; it was the gift.

Christmas is not, and has never been, about “stuff”, though we tend to forget that amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.

It brings to mind one of my favorite movies, and stories, of Christmas. The Grinch. In trying to ruin Christmas, he stole everything from the Who’s. Every hint of Christmas was gone. Then he waited for the reactions on Christmas morning and found that instead of mourning their loss, they rejoiced. “He hadn’t stopped Christmas. It came! Somehow or other, it came just the same. And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. “How could it be so? It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes, or bags!” And he puzzled and puzzled, til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.

It does mean more! Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, to rejoice in his life and his ministry and the miracle of the Atonement, the greatest gift of all.

Pres. Monson: Brothers and sisters, this joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings, and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate.

I firmly believe that the magic of the holiday season happens because for this period of time, we are more focused on Him. We are more kind to each other, we are giving and generous, we take up these traditions that are wonderful and peaceful, and we call it the Spirit of Christmas. We mourn when the season ends, and we always wish it would come back.

I learned a long time ago that we should keep Christmas with us all through the year. I never really understood how I could do that. And then President Monson said this in the devotional last week: “When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit.”
Isn’t that what we promised when we were baptized and when we take the sacrament each week? That we would have his spirit to be with us? When we turn our hearts towards the Savior, and towards our fellow man, we will have the Spirit of Christmas because we have the spirit of Christ. Christmas should be a reminder to all of us of how we should be all year round.

A few years ago, President Monson shared this story, and I wanted to share part of it with you. In December of 1970, an ice storm came through the south. Passengers were stranded on their way home for Christmas. One gate in the Atlanta airport was particularly crowded. The last flight of the night, and probably for the next 24 hours, was to New Orleans and everyone was trying to get on it. Not many were having success. One who was unconcerned was businessman in a fine tailored gray-flannel suit, who sat working, knowing he was secured on this flight.

"A young man in military uniform, no more than 19 years old, was in animated conversation with the desk agent. The boy held a low-priority ticket. He pleaded with the agent to help him get to New Orleans so that he could take the bus to the obscure Louisiana village he called home.

The agent wearily told him the prospects were poor for the next 24 hours, maybe longer. The boy grew frantic. Immediately after Christmas his unit was to be sent to Vietnam—where at that time war was raging—and if he didn’t make this flight, he might never again spend Christmas at home. Even the businessman looked up from his cryptic computations to show a guarded interest. The agent clearly was moved, even a bit embarrassed. But he could only offer sympathy—not hope. The boy stood at the departure desk, casting anxious looks around the crowded room as if seeking just one friendly face.

Finally the agent announced that the flight was ready for boarding. The travelers, who had been waiting long hours, heaved themselves up, gathered their belongings, and shuffled down the small corridor to the waiting aircraft: twenty, thirty, a hundred—until there were no more seats. The agent turned to the frantic young soldier and shrugged.

Inexplicably, the businessman had lingered behind. Now he stepped forward. “I have a confirmed ticket,” he quietly told the agent. “I’d like to give my seat to this young man.” The agent stared incredulously; then he motioned to the soldier. Unable to speak, tears streaming down his face, the boy in olive drab shook hands with the man in the gray flannel suit, who simply murmured, “Good luck. Have a fine Christmas. Good luck.”
As the plane door closed and the engines began their rising whine, the businessman turned away, clutching his briefcase, and trudged toward the all-night restaurant."

What is Christmas really about? I turn to the simplest and truest words, which I learned from an unexpected spiritual moment in a Charlie Brown Christmas. He cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” And then his friend Linus says this: “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” “And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about him. And they were sore afraid, but the angel said unto them “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth, Peace, goodwill towards men.” Then he turns back and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

That is what Christmas is all about. It’s what it has always, and will always, be about.

President Uchtdorf, “We do not need a Christmas holiday or Christmas traditions to remember Jesus Christ, the Savior. … May each Christmas season remind us to lift up our voices and fill our hearts with joy and gratitude that Christ the King has come! Christ lives! He is real. He is our Redeemer at Christmas and always.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 4: Stockings

I have no idea how the tradition of stockings at Christmas came to be. I'll leave that up to the Christmasologists. I'm guessing it has something to do with stockings hanging over a grate to dry by the fire, but that really doesn't explain how this:

became this:
...but that is neither here nor there.
When it comes to stockings, I have seen it all. I have seen cheap ones from a drug store, I have seen homemade stockings, I have seen quilted stockings, I have seen matching stockings, I have seen the most random assortment of stockings imaginable. It doesn't matter if you have your stocking embellished with your name in bold engravings or with cheap felt letters. I just love stockings.
Our family is of the mismatched version, but not by my mother's choice. The three of us older siblings have the same stocking, they were made for us by a friend when we lived in California as kids. Jenny got a cheap red one when she was born, mostly because Mom couldn't find anything she liked. But now that she can, none of us [even Jenny] will let her change them. We all love our stockings. Mom and Dad have had a few different ones over the years, but not us. When Erin, and then Carly, joined our family, they got stockings too. I have no idea how they feel about them, but I know for a fact that there is a cuter one waiting for Carly, if needed. And we bought stockings for the twins already, just because we could. Hey, you gotta get the cute ones when you can!
When we go to Baga's for Chicago Christmas, things are different. Each of the grandkids has exactly the same stocking style-wise, but each stocking picture is different.. [Okay, there are so many of us that someone has the same picture as you, but still.] Each of us also has our name written in silver glitter. The adults [meaning my parents, aunts, uncles, etc] has a different stocking than us. The kids that grew up in Baga's house have the stockings from when they were kids, except Tom, cuz they lost his. The in-laws [and Tom] have a basic red stocking. Everybody gets silver glitter writing. I can't remember what Erin and Carly have up there, but you get the idea. Kind of uniform, kind of not.
I have no opinion on what to do or not to do. I love my stockings. I love that they are a little bit different, a little bit the same. I'll probably keep that track for my future just because I think it's cool. But then, stockings are cool. And stocking PRESENTS are cool. Those are the first ones we open! Santa always knows just what to put in there!
I think this is adorable. How fun!
Now THIS is adorable! I'm getting all kinds of ideas.
Cute matching ones!
Basically, stockings rock. That's all there is to it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 3: Ornaments

I am terribly sorry that I did not have a post for you yesterday, but the workday just did not allow for pondering, and then after work I was at a dinner party for Sinterklaas, so it just didn't happen. But never fear, I shall avail you of my Christmas cheer today.
Last year, if you recall, we discussed both Christmas trees and Christmas lights. What we did not talk about was ornaments. You may not think anything of them, but I think a tree without ornaments looks oddly naked. An inside tree, anyway. A tree outside really has no need or cause for ornamentation other than lights. Unless you want to have ornaments outside...but I think the weather would have something to say about that. It usually does, and sometimes doesn't even like lights...
Sorry, moving on. Ornaments. Classically, we, like everyone else, had the colored glass balls that break easily and make a mess when they do. We also had ornaments that held significance, ie First anniversary of Mom and Dad. I'm not sure when the tradition started, but we started getting ornaments every year. Christmas Eve would come and each kid would get a new ornament just for them. We'd mark our initial and the year on the back, and then on the tree it went. We still do this today. We also have family ornaments for every year, some personalized with our names and some that highlight some of our journeying of that year. We kind of collect ornaments, I think.Our tree has a very hodge-podge feel about it, but we love it.
Example of an ornament we DO have. These are made by our friend Lorrie, who makes adorable ornaments. Check out Mistletoe Memories at
We also have some ornaments that will never be allowed to NOT go on the tree. One of those is "the pickle", which is a model of an Apollo spacecraft my brother made in school. Why is it the pickle? Because it is made from green Styrofoam. Nuff said. There is the bus ornament, which was made by yours truly in kindergarten, and due to the adorable yet goofy, COMPLETELY NORMAL kindergartner picture on it, the bus has become labeled "the short bus" and it is a reigning family joke that has yet to be funny to me, but that's how it goes, I suppose. I hide the ornament every year in the hopes that it will not make an appearance, but my sisters always find it and give it a place of prominence. Maybe this year I will succeed!
Now, I have no idea how other people do their trees. I've seen a ton of different ways. Some people just have their themed trees, all color coordinated and formal. Those are so pretty! I've seen trees like ours, with homemade ornaments and pictures and randomness. Those are so fun! I've seen trees with large, sparkly ornaments, trees with clear ornaments to reflect the light, trees with ribbon and tinsel, trees with birds [not kidding]... There is no wrong way to go when it comes to ornaments you use for your tree. What matters is that it works for you and you can be happy with your tree.
Isn't this pretty? Maybe someday I'll have a "pretty" tree, too.
All of my ornaments are so special to me, and it never fails to make me smile to pull them out, look at the year, and remember when I got them. I've started collecting ornaments myself, and I can't wait for the day when I can have a tree of ornaments that describe my life, and give out ornaments to my kids, so that they can enjoy them, too!
I love this picture. It's just so adorable and precious! I hope my kids have moments like this.
By the way, I set up a second tree this year, using the fake one we bought a few years ago but had yet to use, since we always go for real trees. I put it in the front room so that it could be seen from the street [don't you love seeing lit up trees from the street???] a decorated it with all of those colored glass ball ornaments. It looks so pretty!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 2: Colors

Now, now, don't shy away from this post just because I am going to devote the entire thing to colors. You have no idea what I am going to do with this thing, so just sit tight and
During Christmas, there are certain colors that are on display more than others, and I LOVE that. Let's take a look at some, shall we?
I think the red stuff is bold and fun and really adds something special to everything. Stockings can be red, and I think traditional stockings are. But sometimes, just sometimes, red can be a little scary.
Green is beautiful. Green Christmas trees, green ornaments, green sweaters [come on, you know you have one]. Green is a staple Christmas color and very rarely is ever a bad idea. However, green ornaments have trouble showing up on your green tree. Very sad.


White is gorgeous. I really don't know what else to say about it. I love when there are white details involved in the decorations of Christmas. This year, we have opted for all white lights outside, and it is BEAUTIFUL.

Silver and Gold:
Yes, both of them at once. They don't usually appear for anything else, unless it's glitter, but I LOVE having silver and gold as a major part of the Christmas color scheme. Sometimes it's just tacky tinsel, but STILL! It's soooo pretty.
So basically, any and all of the colors individually are awesome. But when you put them together:
Aren't they fun??? Honestly, the colors of Christmas are some of the best colors you are ever going to find. Take a look around, and see if I'm not right.
PS. A special shout out to a break-out color of recent years: BLUE!

I'm hoping for a long run with this one.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown Day 1: Joy

To kick off this year's Christmas Countdown, I thought I would talk about something that is so important to the holiday season, but doesn't usually get talked about. It's the magic of the season, the feeling that everybody gets around this time of year, the imperceptible change that makes the whole adventure from Thanksgiving to December 25th worth it.
It's JOY.
The Christmas season, with all of its lights and sounds and smells, with all of the memories, all of the presents and shopping and food and songs, is not about any of it. It centers around the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are celebrating His birth, the wondrous miracle that it was. He came down to earth to save us all, to atone for our sins, to ensure that if we are faithful and repent we can return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven after this life. He brought--and still brings--peace to the broken hearted, comfort to the wounded, happiness to the mournful, and heals all hurts.
When we think of Him, when we remember His birth, His life, His atonement, His death, and His resurrection, how can we not be filled with infinite gratitude? How can our hearts not be filled with joy?
That is the magic of the season. Though you will never find a bigger fan of Santa Claus than me, he is not the reason we celebrate. Christmas is about celebrating and honoring the birth of our Lord and Savior.
My heart thrills with joy and a million other emotions every time I hear the words of my favorite Christmas hymn.
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Saints and angels sing,
And Saints and angels sing,
And Saints, and Saints, and angels sing.

Rejoice! Rejoice when Jesus reigns!
And saints their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more will sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He'll come and make the blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Rejoice! Rejoice in the Most High
While Israel spreads abroad
Like stars that glitter in the sky,
And ever worship God,
And ever worship God,
And ever, and ever worship God.

I promise to have some lighter, more fun posts later on, but I wanted to start this off right.
Merry Christmas. God bless. And JOY to the world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pre-Christmas Countdown Round-off

First of all, yesterday was my mom's birthday, and I just want to put out there what an amazing woman she is. Let me give you an example: Last week the whole family was in town, and almost every night she asked what we wanted her to make for dinner. This was THANKSGIVING week. We all looked at her like she was crazy and told her not to make anything, since we knew she would be cooking all day Thursday. She just said, "I like cooking for you guys." Honestly? Who LIKES to cook for the whole hungry family every night and THEN prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal? But that's not all. She will wear herself out in the service of others, falling into bed each night without getting more than a few things done on her own to-do list because she was too busy helping others. And she's always been like that, it's not a recent "new Relief Society president" thing, although that has given her opportunity to meet and help more people. Nope, it's just my mommy, being her own selfless self, and not thinking very much of it at all. Everybody loves my mom. And I mean everybody. I have never met a single person who said anything other than "I just love your mom" or "Your mom is amazing." And boy, do I know it. And I am so grateful. Happy birthday [yesterday] Mom!
Okay, on to Christmas:
Starting tomorrow [and every day that I can think of one following that] I will have my Christmas countdown posts. Last year we tackled: snow, socks, trees, lights, advent calendars, music, Chicago Christmas, cards, movies, wrapping paper, candy, and Santa. It was a lot, but so fun, and well worth it. Any requests for what you would like my take on this year? Or should we just leave it up to my own devices and see what sort of cleverless [read: craziness] I can come up with on my own?
Regardless, the Christmas season is officially upon us. It really IS the most wonderful time of the year.
Here's a video of one of my absolute favorite Christmas season songs just to kick us off. It is truly amazing, and moves me every time I hear it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random stuff...again

I keep thinking that I will be better about keeping this blog updated with all of the adventures of my life for all of the world to read and enjoy, but the truth of the matter is this: I do not lead an adventure-filled life. Truth be told, my life is currently very boring. Take a sample:
Every day I wake up and get ready for work. I should get up earlier and work out, but I can never manage to convince myself that leaving my warm bed to sweat is better than staying in it and sleeping more.
I go to work.
I take my lunch break and waste time.
I go back to work.
I go home and eat.
I do whatever activity I have lined up for that day, whether it be something with the singles ward or a date with my washing machine or watching NCIS.
I go to bed.

Spattered throughout that very exciting spread is the occasional waiting for news from grad schools, getting brilliant ideas for my stories [I REALLY need to be better about that! I've been slacking.], and discovering new things, like Pinterest. Ho boy, Pinterest...
But all in all, I really don't ever have anything to say. I dunno, what do you guys WANT to hear from me?
Thanksgiving is over, which means Christmas is upon us. I'm so excited about this. Christmas is such a magical and spiritual time and it just fills up my soul. And not gonna lie, my soul could really use some filling. Things are tough right now.
It was WONDERFUL having my family all here for Thanksgiving. I am really so blessed in the people I have in my family. It is so quiet at the house now. It's a little weird, to be honest.
I'm trying to decide if I will do the Christmas countdown posts this year again and I just don't know. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So October was not very active as far as my blogging is concerned. But I did actually do a TON last month. Here's a quick recap:
  • General Conference. LOVE.
  • Phantom. See post below for my true feelings.
  • Trip to Lansing. AMAZING. Enjoyed a fantastically fun-filled weekend of silliness with my niece, which included the coolest apple and pumpkin farm ever. It was windy, or "winny" as Carly says, and enjoyed doughnuts, fresh cider, cider slushies, and picking our pumpkins from the patch. So fun! She's so awesome. I think being an aunt is the best.
  • Trip to Knoxville. Very fast trip, but SO fun. I got roped into participating in Jenny's institute activity instead of just helping, so I was in the brown bag skit entitled The Dark Side of Justin Bieber. Totally hilarious, particularly when the institute director was Bieber..... Then Jen's meet was AWESOME, and we got to see some of our friends who were there for UK, which is okay, and UT beat IU, which makes the world a happier place.
  • Trip to Louisville and Cincinnati. Got to watch Jen and her team beat Louisville very soundly, which was awesome, as I tend to not be a very big fan of them, but that's besides the point. The day was a bit of an excited blur, thanks to an announcement I will discuss later. Then we drove up to Cincinnati and stayed with the Rahlf's for a few days, which is the most relaxing thing in the world, and not just because they have a fireplace that turns on with a light switch. We watched Dallin play his last high school football game, which ended in a disappointing loss and we spent most of the game angry, but I won't touch that soapbox. I would never get off. I did get to see my friend Amy, who is probably the friend I've had for the longest that is female. We hadn't really talked in a looooong time, so it was so awesome to see her. Saturday we came back home, but not before stopping in Indy to see Chris, who was there for a conference.
  • Stake Conference. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! One of the best EVER!!!!
  • Halloween.
So yeah, that was October. Pretty busy. What you don't see listed are the days and hours spent working on blasted grad school applications and essays. If I never do another, it will be too soon. Thankfully, everything is done except entering the GRE scores and mailing them off. And ordering transcripts. I have to wait until November 8th for my scores, and once I have those, I will order transcripts and mail everything off. I cannot wait until all of this is over.
I am currently on a Jane Austen kick. Again. It comes every few months or so. I just love it so much. Anyway....
Halloween last night was pretty fun. Dad and I sat outside with our outdoor fireplace and handed out candy. I love doing this, because we get to see all sorts of costumes and kids and we get to talk with parents. It was cold, but fun still.
Okay, now to the announcement which has changed the course of life for the Connollys forever: On Thursday, just before Jenny's meet, we found out that my brother and his wife are having TWINS! I NEVER expected that, and obviously neither did they. It has been an entertaining few days for me, watching my parents talk about what they are going to do and want to do and being giddy grandparents. I cannot imagine how overwhelming it would be to find out you were having two babies instead of one, but I am confident that Chris and Erin can handle it perfectly and they will be the most fantastic twins to ever grace the planet.
So that is life as I know it. Now it is November, which is a nice month, but tends to be a tad depressing as all of the leaves turn brown and fall from the trees and it gets colder and darker. But Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, and I really do love Thanksgiving a lot. I'll post on that holiday later, but I feel very strongly it needs to receive its own due.
Happy November to all, and when you are out of your sugar-coma from last night, go for a walk. It's pretty today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Music in my heart

Last night I went and saw Phantom of the Opera, the 25th Anniversary performance, which was taped live from the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was SPECTACULAR. Ramin Karimloo played the Phantom, and he was so good it was breathtaking. I have been a fan of his for a long time, ever since I saw him do this and this. But as the Phantom....he was spectacular. Sierra Boggess played Christine and she is hands down the BEST Christine I have ever seen, heard, or dreamed up. I ADORED her performance. Her vocals were unnaturally good and her acting brought tears to my eyes. Turns out I loved her before I even knew who she was, because I have been in love with this, so it was just an awesome treat for me to see her in this role. What was a true revelation was the man who played Raoul, Hadley Fraser. Now, in the film version of the film, Raoul always seemed a teeny bit simpering to me, but I still liked him and wanted to Christine to go with him. But when I saw Hadley's version of GOSH, I was in love. And quite possibly legitimately so. He was soooooo good, and I do not think he got enough credit for the brilliance of his performance. So I guess you could say that I loved the show...... You know what was awesome? Having the camera close enough that we could see their faces. As much as I adore live shows, I always wish I had a better view of faces. So this was just perfect for me. Aide from the complete lack of a crashing chandelier [can't blame them for that....Royal Albert Hall is not exactly a good place to crash a chandelier], there wasn't a single thing I would have wished could be different. Well....maybe a different Meg. But she doesn't really do anything, so that's okay.
I have a problem, though. Every time I am exposed to some brilliant musical performance, I feel this agonizing twinge. I love music on a level that is so deep, it is engraved on my soul. Sounds dramatic, but it's true. And I have always wished that I had pursued the musical side of me with more vengeance, with more passion. But I am just insecure enough to not even attempt something if I doubt I can do it.
I have played the piano since I was a kid. I had the most amazing teacher, who taught me to love and appreciate music in a way I had never imagined. I had always loved Disney movies and the music from them and I grew up adoring Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. I always wanted music on in the car and singing was my favorite part of church. I played the flute in the 5th and 6th grade band in my elementary school.When we found out we were moving, I was crushed. I was just getting to a fun level with piano and flute, and junior high school had choir, which I wanted to try, though I really didn't think I could sing, but it would be fun. But I decided that I would try out for choir with the other kids in my class, even though I was moving, just to see if I could make it. I would also try out for Jazz Band, to see if I would make that. When we moved, I would do which ever organization I would have made at  my old school. Turns out I did not make Jazz Band. But we got a phone call from one of the choir directors at the junior high to inform us that not only had I made it into choir, but I made the advanced choir. Since our family was not particularly musical, outside of piano lessons, we were pretty surprised. But I did choir when we moved, and never stopped. But sometimes, when I am feeling sorry for myself, I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed. What if I had been able to do the "advanced" choir in 7th grade? Would my training have been better? Would my voice be something impressive? What would I have been confident enough to do if I had that? But 'what if's get us nowhere, right? Right. Moving on.
I was once told that I had a good choir voice. I have no idea what that meant, but to me it said "Don't sing without other people" and very rarely have I strayed from that. I wish I hadn't listened. I wish I had done more musicals in high school. Sure, it would have been tough with swimming, but I would have loved that. I should have done that.
The best compliment I have ever received was when someone who is not particularly musical, but enjoys good music in his own way, said to me after a rather harrowing [on my part] duet in church with a friend, "Becky, I had no idea you could sing like that." I will never forget the glow that spread through me as I heard that. I wish I had tried harder so I could have heard more things like that, not to puff me up or give me an ego, but to boost  me, to reinforce that I could actually do what I loved because I was good at it.
This sort of melancholic musing happens every time I see a show that strikes me. Some have suggested I stop going to shows if this is what is going to happen. I can't do that. I just can't. It's kind of like my addiction, I guess.
Anyways, I hope I didn't sound whiney in here. That wasn't my point. I just wanted to get today's feelings out, and they happen to be a little self-pitying at the moment. Let me just say this: I know that I CAN sing, I just wish I was better, not for acclaim or notoriety, but so that I could be more comfortable with it. I would love to be able to sing in shows and in church and anywhere else without freaking out about it. Maybe I just need to take a little lesson from Sierra, huh?
Sigh. If onlys and what ifs are my weakness, guys. I know I could have and should have done so many things, but I let my own fears and doubts and the opinions of others dictate my actions. Don't do that. Be true to yourself. Do what YOU want to do, and don't let anybody tell you that you can't. Work hard and give it your best, and who knows? You just might get it. Miracles happen every day.
Hingsight is 20/20.
Okay, time to say something happy........uh.......Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo!
PS. I am wearing gray knee socks with fuzzy spiders on them. That is awesome.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts of the Day

...or of the moment, at least. I can't promise these will still be my thoughts later. Some of them will be, but I dunno about others.
  • General Conference was this weekend. If you don't know what that means, it's a special conference that is held twice a year for the general membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our leaders speak to us on topics that they have felt inspired to, and it is one of the most uplifting weekends ever. If you want to know more, click on the nifty little button on my sidebar that says "I'm a Mormon", or just shoot me a message! But this conference was really special. I felt so uplifted.
    • President Uchtdorf's talk in the General Relief Society meeting was FANTASTIC! It literally took my breath away. I will read this one again and again and again.
    • At the very end of conference, when the prophet was speaking, at one point he just said, "I love you. I pray for you." Now, we hear that sometimes, but for some reason, this time it really touched me. Maybe it was the way he said it, with such sincerity and emotion, or maybe it's because I was trying really hard to pay attention this time, or maybe it is just because he is the prophet of the Lord and can do that. Whatever reason, I got choked up myself and I had it confirmed to me AGAIN that this man is truly God's prophet here on the earth today.
  • Along with that, I just love the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I really really just adore them a lot. Who could help it? They are truly spectacular. Now, I am a bit of a hymn junkie, in that there are several hymns that I truly love, if they are done well. But there are some things that the Tabernacle Choir sings that are just turned into gold, and I am convinced that angels in Heaven are singing. Go here and here and here and here for examples. There are so many, many more, but I think that will suffice for now. December I will have more. =)
  • It's October now. I LOVE October. I love the changing of the leaves, I love the smell of leaves burning, I love jumping into piles of leaves [but NEVER with a wet sucker]. I love Halloween. I love the cooler weather and drinking hot chocolate and cider. I love the pumpkin flavor things. Basically, I love October.
  • My sister and I have been playing Scrabble on Facebook. Normally, I am opposed to games on Facebook, but this is Scrabble. I think it's brought us closer together, right, sis? Bah hahaha, yeah, right. Most of the time we are arguing about fake words that they say are real words and real words that they say are fake. But still, it's awesome. We'll have to play real scrabble when she comes home.
  • Someone brought Olive Garden into work today for us. I may have hijacked a handful of Ande's mints from the pile. Maybe.
  • My life coach is having a baby right now. Like right now right now. Well, she's in LABOR right now, anyway. Sounds like the little guy is being stubborn. Hang in there, Shay!
  • I have an obsession with baby names. Have had since I was about 13. It's bad.
  • I need to get going on grad school stuff. Gotta get those apps done so I can get back to life as I know it! Or...brain capacity as I know it, anyway.
  • I get to see Carly next weekend! And baby Deux, I suppose, but he/she won't really be able to play very much. And then I see Jenny the week after that, and then AGAIN the week after that and THEN I get to go to Cincy for an intense high school football game! GO EAST!
  • My mommy made pumpkin sugar cookies with candy corn faces. I felt like a kid again. In all the best ways. Except I didn't get dough this time. Oh well. Christmas is coming.
    • I almost spelled 'sugar' with an H just then.
  • Christmas is coming. It really really is. I may or may not have bought my first Christmas present already. Maybe.
I think that'll do for now. I try not to have too many thoughts in one day. It clogs things up.
Except for this last one: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA TONIGHT!!! Thanks to my love for movies, I occasionally will check listings at our theaters to see what is playing. Lo and behold, one of them had an advert on the sidebar that was for a showing of a live performance of Phantom of the Opera for a special 25th Anniversary show at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I think I bought tickets for it the day I saw the advert. I am SO EXCITED!!!!!
Can you tell?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

So it begins...

Well, my friends, Tuesday it finally happened. The day I most look forward to from July 4th to Halloween. The day we should all get off of work and school but we don't. That's was List Day. For all of you who don't know, that is the day when my mother asks all of the girls in the family to turn in their list. The list is the combining of birthday and Christmas wish lists into a single master list that hides somewhere on her computer until the end of January. This is the day that marks the end of freedom for those who enjoy wandering the spaciousness that is Mom and Dad's closet. This is the day when it is officially okay to start THINKING about Christmas, beyond what you want to ask for. This is the day that I start to go crazy. See last year's posts, if you don't believe me.
Why so early, you ask? Particularly when you know how strictly we Connollys follow the "not til Thanksgiving is done" rule. Well, that doesn't count for Christmas shopping. And in case you didn't know, we Connolly women like our holiday seasons. I mean we REALLY DO. So much so that we were all born around there. It starts with my sister in law Erin in October, then Mom and Sarah in November, then me in December, then CHRISTMAS, and then Jen in January. The only immediate female family member that doesn't have a holiday birthday is Carly, and she's so fabulous, we make an exception. Besides, she gets presents all year round anyway.
So you see, we HAVE to start thinking and shopping now. Or at least, Mom does. So list day is very important. Granted, things get thrown on last minute, and as birthdays come, things get crossed off, so Christmas shopping becomes that much easier! Well, except for Jenny. Since her birthday is after Christmas, we all have to check with each other to make sure our Christmas presents don't mess up any birthday presents, and vice versa.
List day was so much fun when we were kids. We would pull out the catalogs and magazines and carefully cut out pictures, or sometimes just circle what we wanted in different colors. Now, letters to Santa obviously did not happen until later, but we still had List Day. So fun.
Last night I went out with my mom to do some shopping, since we had a really good coupon somewhere, and we actually got some things for Christmas! It was awesome! I tried to talk her into not talking me out of buying a ginormous mug with a snowman on it, but she succeeded. Alas, the adorable snowman mug of massive proportions is still on that shelf with the other winter/Christmas looking mugs. I won't say who got the presents, but we were pretty excited about them. And I got a few things for myself as well! Good stuff.
Side note: I am doing the Special K challenge, but the Becky version. Basically, the original just didn't have enough calories in it and I was starving and grouchy just trying to do it. So it's been modified, which will exclude me from the sweepstakes if it works, but still. I'd rather not starve and be happy and lose inches more slowly rather than starve and be irritable and lose it rapidly. And if I want to have a cookie every now and again, I'm gonna do it, darn it! I mean, really, when they are warm and gooey and still on the pan and Mom says she doesn't need them all, why shouldn't I have one??? Food for the soul, people. Those calories don't really count..... And it's probably thinking like that that caused me to need to shed some weight at all. Vicious cycle.
Okay, I think I'm done. October is coming, so I'll post on that when it does, and hopefully we can get me out of my Christmas crazies before I burn out [HA! Not likely.] before Halloween.

* For those concerned, List Day is NOT an actual Connolly holiday. I call it that, but no one else does. I'm cool like that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hi guys. Guess what.
I know, you were hoping for something so much more exciting, like a decision on grad schools or a book contract or [gasp!] an engagement. Well, the grad school thing is slowly but surely working itself out and in the next few weeks I will officially apply to the top choices. The book contract is on that list of "Would Be Great, But Will Probably Never Ever Happen" things. If I ever have free time again, I will work on book #3 seriously. Right now it is on the backburner behind grad schools and RS lessons and, oh, work. And as for an engagement........well, I'm farily certain my sisters would have called CNN if that had happened, so you'd all know by now anyway.
BUT. The glorious news that the low-carb diet is over should be very happy for all of you! If you ever want to appreciate how good apple pie is, go low carb for 4 weeks. But you know what? I'm really proud of myself. I didn't know if I could do this, and I did! If I had to do it over again, I would have been better about my workouts. I didn't always push myself as hard as I could have, and that might have made a bigger difference. But still. YAY for me! And I'm a little afraid of taking things to a carb-coma level of extreme, so I am being really careful about easing my way back in. Except for apple pie. Gimme a break.
In other news, any Castle fans out there? The season premiere was last night and OH MY GAWSH, it was good. Not as funny as your regular episode, but SO deep and rich and emotional and UGH. Amazing. Simply amazing. And it really showed certain people's acting chops. Who knew that funny man Nathan Fillion could pull of something so heart-wrenching and haunting and poignant? And Stana Katic! Not only is she pretty much the most beautiful woman ever, but the turmoil and tension and pain she brought to Beckett was AWESOME. And that ending??? HOLY CRAP. This is going to be a FABULOUS season, I can feel it! If you are not a Castle fan, YOU SHOULD BE! If you are one of those people who like to start a show at the beginning, have no fear. I have all three seasons and regularly DVR current episodes for future watching.'s kinda like that.
Tonight are the premieres of NCIS and NCIS:LA. These are two shows that my parents and I are very invested in. As in I may or may not own all 8 seasons of NCIS and all 2 seasons of NCIS::LA. I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. ANYWHO: We just refreshed our memories with the finales last week, so we are ready and raring to go! Anyody else see those finales? Talk about DRAMA. I just love this stuff. Why I did not major in something to do with film or media, I will never know.
But in my work as an athletic trainer lately, I have been BUSY. And it is so rewarding, in its own way. So rarely do trainers get any recognition for the hours they put in and the work they do, but every time you can help someone or put some parents at ease, a small sense of accomplishment forms. And every now and then, you get a thank you from someone. A coach, an athlete, a doesn't matter. It all feels good. Well. This week, I got 2 different people telling  me that I am a good trainer, that I do a good job, and they were impressed. That stunned me. I don't do what I do to impress people. Quite the contrary, I've always been a bit of a background person. I just do what I do and get on with it. Not gonna lie, though. I felt really pleased that somebody noticed and went a step further to tell me they thought I was good. Little pokes in the shoulder from Heaven, reassuring me that I CAN do this.
Ummm....what else.....oh! I'm trying the Special K Challenge next week. No, it's NOT another diet.....well, okay, it probably counts as one, but I just want to see if it works. If you follow what they say with food and workout and such, you're supposed to be able to drop a jean size in two weeks. That. Would. Be. AWESOME. I dunno about the rest of you ladies, but from age 19 on, my donughts go straight to the jean coverage area. It would be simply lovely to, ah, TWEAK that general vicinity.
Still hacking away at my RS lesson for Sunday. It's on the talk "Remember This: Kindness Begins With Me". The title comes from a Primary song. Pretty sure I have never heard it. But that's neither here nor there. So I'm trying to figure out how to get a 30-35 minute lesson out of the talk, how to apply it to a single's ward RS, and how to make it enjoyable. Luckily, I have parents who are well versed in the Gospel AND in teaching it, so they're helping me a lot. But it all boils down to what the Spirit tells me to do, and the trick right now is figuring that out.
So that's me right now. Just in case you were wondering. ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 27 + stuff

Sigh. I'm tired of low-carb, guys. I appreciate the benefits of it, I appreciate the creativity that it has brought me and my food options, and I REALLY appreciate carbs more now. I have made some goals for when I get off of this diet trip on Sunday.
1) No more cheap white bread. I haven't done that for a while, but I need to be more nit-picky with my bread choices. It needs to be good for me and not just taste good.
2) Limited processed food. And by processed, I mostly mean pre-packaged. More whole foods, less easy and fake foods. I'll still eat my Luna bars on occasion, because those are a [mostly] natural source of many vitamins and minerals and there are some I like. And I may still have Oatmeal-To-Go-Bars. I love those.
3) Limit treats. I know, I know, that seems basic. But [and here's a big secret] I have a problem with treats. When someone asks me my favorite food, I usually say dessert. But I will still have them. Mark my words, I WILL  be eating cookie dough the next time it is there.
4) Continue working out at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Working out is good for you. The nice thing is that eating carbs again will give me regular energy for working out. The protein diet makes working out hard, as my body is trying to take energy from something that is harder to get it from, and working out freaking HURTS more. Plus I should be able to not be so sleepy.
I think that's all for now.... I really miss cereal, kids. A lot.
Something else I'll be dealing with: I've recently started a new, slightly drastic process from my dermatologist. See, I'm 25 and still dealing with acne and skin trouble. I've tried just about every birth control and medication and face wash and regimen treatment and nothing sticks. So every day I take a pill. Next month I will start taking 2. I will do this for 5 months, then it's over. But during those 5 months I also have to be on birth control and take monthly blood tests to make sure that I'm not pregnant [no worries here, but they have to] because this medication can cause birth defects. I have to use the gentlest face wash and an intense moisturizer, as my face will become very dry. I have to take extra Vitamin E every day. I have to carry chapstick with me all the time, since my lips will get chapped and dry. I have to take a test every month before I can get my monthly pills. I have to see the dermatologist every month and report any pre-discussed symptoms. This all sounds crazy, right? I know. But it works. And quite frankly, it's the only avenue that I have left other than just dealing with it. I don't want to deal anymore.
Okay, on to happier thoughts: CASTLE PREMIERE IS MONDAY! Any other Castle groupies out there? Season 3 finale was CRAZAY. I can't wait to see what they've cooked up for this season. And then NCIS and NCIS:LA starts Tuesday [HUZZAH!] and both of those had rather explosive finales last season, so I'm jazzed!
But the best news of all? I'll be off my diet by then so I can have popcorn. Blessed day.
Oh, and my RS lesson on the 25th is about the attribute of benevolence. Anybody have any thoughts?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 22

Okay, confession time: I may have taken a day off of my very strict diet. But it was really only a half day! And it wasn't my fault. My brother and sister-in-law and niece showed up for Labor Day weekend and surprised us all and when family is in town, you eat right. So Sunday night we grilled and had all of the right trimmings. Now, I didn't have a bun with my two hot dogs, but I did have potato salad and chips. And a cookie. And three s'mores. Can you blame me? Really. I'm only human.
To make up for my slight, but totally understandable, indiscretion, I have added two days to my 4 week challenge. I'm still working out at least 3 times a week and being very careful every other time, and I can see AND feel a difference in myself. I have not lost the poundage that I was hoping for, but that's okay. I'll take feeling better and looking better over a number on a scale any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
In other news, I'm gonna be an aunt again! My brother and his wife are expecting their second baby sometime towards the end of March! YAY!!! We all know how much I adore my niece, and I hope I don't sound arrogant in saying this, but I'm pretty sure my niece is pretty dang fond of me. I plan on having a TON of fun with TWO munchkins running around! WOOHOO! And also, how adorable is this picture?
Seriously, it's just not fair how cute she is.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 15 -- I'm getting there!

I've made it two whole weeks on this diet! YAY! And aside from the low-calorie Jamba Juice I had while in South Bend last weekend, I have not cheated or had a treat even once! And since the Jamba Juice was low calorie and strictly berries, I'm not even sure that counts as cheating! WOOHOO!!!!! I'm finally getting out of the sluggish, no-carbs for energy slump and getting used to the general blah-ness of the foods I eat. I am not quite sure how many carrots I'll be eating when all of this is over. Or eggs. But bless my mother and her creativity. Last night we had taco salad and it might have been the best thing I have eaten in a looooong time.
I have also been working out at least 3 times a week, like I wanted. The yoga has not kicked in yet, I'm just too busy. But I'm trying to make up for it with my workouts.
See, we have this old treadmill in the basement. And when I say old, I mean OLD. It was my grandma's and she decided she didn't want it, so my parents took it. I can't even tell you when Grandma got this because I don't remember. But the thing is basically broken. It works really well up to about 3.1 mph, and then the tread skips, so you actually endanger your life going any faster than that. Not quite the workout you were looking for, right? Well, since I have an aversion to thick sweaty smelly CROWDED gyms in the evenings [mornings are lovely, but I'm having a hard time waking up early right now], I came up with a solution: go longer on the dinosaur treadmill. Longer time = longer distance, and even at a walking speed, this = better workout. So the last two nights I have done 90 minutes on the treadmille. INSANE, you cry. SHE'S NUTS, you yell. Yeah, I probably am, but it's just walking. Do I get bored? Not really. See, there's also a TV and DVD player down there. I have spent the 90 minutes watching 2 episodes of Castle each night. It's been awesome! And I actually work up a pretty decent sweat doing it! Not as much as I would on an elliptical or jogging, but still pretty good!
Besides, I remembered when I was in London a few years ago and we just walked everywhere, [ie I never ran] and I lost a ton of weight and was in great shape by the time I came home. So maybe I just need to do this diet to kick start thigns and walk through it and then when I can eat normally again, I'll rev up the exercise too! I dunno, just a thought.
In other news, HAPPY SEPTEMBER! I always feel kinda bad for September, since people only like it because football starts and so does fall, but everybody who likes fall likes October better. Poor September. Oh well. At least we all get Monday off for Labor Day, right? Thanks, September!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Say Something Nice

Stole this from my friend Celeste's blog [thanks sweetie!] and I just love love love love it. I wish they did this everywhere! Enjoy! Have a great day! Smile, it increases your face value! ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 6...and we step it up

Hiya. So, I've made it six whole days without any carbs. Well, except for a little in my luna bar and my low carb tortillas [which taste just as odd as they sound] and my low carb yogurt. I've almost finished the first week, which is supposed to be the hardest! WOOHOO! It's been really tough, actually. And not because I want bagels [but I do], but because I want FRUIT. I can't have fruit until week 2, and then it has to be low glycemic index fruits. I have been eating nothing but meat and nuts and veggies and dairy, and the thing I miss the most is fruit. Ugh, I cannot wait to be able to have that.
But the funny thing is that I usually feel pretty good. Different, but good. My body is still adjusting to the new energy source, so there are rough spots. Mornings in particular are hard, and there have been some minor, but still annoying, headaches. But I am determined to not give up. I need to prove to myself that I can do this. So far, I've been really good. I haven't even taken my freebie treat yet! And Mom made cookies the other night! GO ME!
Working out has been interesting as well. I have not been able to push as hard as I would like simply because the energy is just not there. Today was better than Monday, though, so I know we'll get there. And since my schedule just got crazier this week, it's going to be hard to find time for everything. But I'll figure it out.
And I now have a new incentive beyond my own personal satisfaction and pride. I have been challenged by my friend that if I am really good with this diet for the four weeks that I had originally planned on, she and I will go get pedicures. And since we all know how I feel about pedicures, thanks to my recent education, I was totally game.
So. It is on. September 16th will mark the end of the 4 weeks, with the 15th being the last full day. That is 23 days away. I can do that. And if I do it better than I thoguht [not by numerical results, per se, though those would be nice] then maybe I'll get my first ever manicure too. We shall see.
You know, this Cookie Dough Luna Protein bar is not that bad....if you don't expect it to really taste like cookie dough and you are used to the Luna bar taste.....which I do and am. 2 days til fruit, 2 days til fruit....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 2

Just as a note, I will not be writing about this every day. But since I need to be accountable, and I'm sure you are all extremely entertained by this, here I go again. Day 2 of the diet was rough. It could be for a number of reasons: 1) It's the weekend. 2) I'm not at work. 3) It's the weekend.
But my mommy loves me, so she took me shopping to get some good food for me to eat. Breyer's CarbSmart fudge bars anyone? Soooooo good. And sugar-free Jello is going to save me.
I even went to a wedding reception tonight. Oh boy, that was rough. Chicken salad on croissants, potato salad, chocolate fountains,...... It was like "let's get all of Becky's favorite foods that she can't have and put them all in one place!" Thankfully, they had meatballs and little hot dog wrapped in bacon things and TONS of veggies. So I was okay.
Workout was a little rough today. It probably didn't help that I tried to start with an advanced Tae-Bo workout called Cardio Inferno not too long after breakfast, which was scrambled eggs with Canadian Bacon and cheese. I was not impressed with my efforts, but I took comfort in the fact that I pushed really hard last night and I tried something new. Monday I start back at the gym, so we'll get going really hard then.
If anybody has ideas for some good, low-carb meals, PLEASE let me know. I'm getting bored already! Here's hoping the rest of the rather intense and strict first week will get easier!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Four Letter Word

So I have decided to start something that I had hoped I would never officially have to do. A diet. [duh duh DUHHHHHHH] In general, I am against diets. I am more for keeping tabs on your weight and/or health as it fluctuates and make changes accordingly, as desired. But that's not the only reason. I have a serious problem with cutting foods I love. I just love food too much. But the time has come for me to make a change and try out this four letter word that I have avoided. And as a way of being accountable, I will talk about it on here.
My reasons for doing this drastic thing are as follows: 1) I want to look better and 2) I want to feel better. And for those to occur, I want to temporarily limit what I eat while I increase my exercise so that my body will go through a change that will make me happier with it. Get it? Good.
I've opted to go for at least a month on a low-carb diet. Not NO CARB, but LOW CARB. I will try to minimize my carb intake while increasing my protein and veggies uptake, and still having some dairy, and every once and again, a low-carb something or other. And lots and lots of water. And a bit of dark chocolate [Sounds crazy, but good quality dark chocolate is actually good for you in moderation, and it's on the diet! I'm saved!] And once a week, I can have a treat. A real, honest to goodness, carb laden treat. But that treat will not come without consequences.
You see, I am also going to start a serious exercise regimine. At least 3 days a week, I will be doing cardio of some kind, whether it will be running, swimming, eliptical, or something else I can figure for at least 30 minutes. Also, at least 3 days a week, I will be doing yoga. I think/hope it will help me with my stress relief and my flexibility as well. In conjunction with those, I will also be doing some core work, as I want to have a flat tummy, which I haven't managed since I was...well, it's been a long time. I don't want washboard abs or anything, and I know that all females have some natural fat in the tummy area, but I want to get mine as flat-ish as I can. So my once a week treat will mean an increase in the workout in the day or two following, depending on the treat and the danger it provides to my self-control.
Why am I doing this, you ask. There is no wedding, no guy, no jeans to fit into, and I've completely missed swimsuit season. This is for no other reason than that I want to. I know I will never be a size 2, and I never want to be. It is not in my body frame to be a 2. I want to be healthy. I want to look good and feel good for me. I have a set poundage in mind, but that is not set in stone. If I lose less but look and feel good, I'll be happy. If I can lose more in a healthy way and not go crazy without bread, all the better!
Once the time is up and I am satisfied with my [gulp] diet, I will return my eating habits to their former apathy. Well, okay, I'll TRY to be better, but I'm still going to have toast. And bagels. And muffins. Ohhhhhh, muffins.... AH! Get out, get out, get out!
Today was day 1 of this endeavor. I have a slight headache, which is natural, considering what my body is trying to work with. But I feel good. I don't want to go into the gory details, but let's just say I have been dealing with some...issues of the digestive nature, and I feel really good today in that area. That alone is making this worth it. And that is what it is all about. Feeling good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

True Happiness

I have been feeling very stressed lately, what with my studying for the GRE, moving back home, my frustration with my life situation, trying to figure out what I am supposed to be doing, struggling to understand the Lord's will for me, etc etc etc. These are things we all deal with [well, maybe not the GRE] and there are more things that other people deal with that I cannot even imagine, but that does not make any problem less. Our problems and our situations are unique to us and we all have challenges that weigh us down. But I found this video through Mormon Messages, and it lightened my load.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Random thoughts

Maybe it's due to the fact that I've been studying too much, maybe it's because I didn't get very much sleep last night, maybe it's just because I have a cazy random brain, but I have about a bajillion thoughts running through my head, and while 77% of those thoughts involve very large words and algebraic equations, the other 23% is not. In an attempt to relieve the strain on my brain [heehee, I rhymed], I think I'll just spill some of them out here.
~~ I'm almost done working on my room! All of the major stuff is in there, so it's just the little things that are still sitting in the "spare room" that I have to deal with. I've already gone through and made a rather extensive pile for Goodwill/sibiling(or Mom) scouring, and I even cleared out HALF of my lotion collection. Sniffle. I miss them already. But it was getting ridiculous, so it's a good thing. I think.
~~ I have no idea what I'm doing for dinner while my parents are gone. I know it's silly, but I don't cook for myself. I can, don't get me wrong, [not very well, but that's a moot point] but I don't see the point in cooking for one person, particularly when most of my recipes involve cooking for 6 or more. And I'm not much of a leftovers person. Granted, it depends what it is [ahem, Thanksgiving dinner leftovers...], but generally, no thank you. So frozen food and takeout it is. I'm going to end up being one of those single women who sits at home and eats Chinese takeout in her sweats.......hmmm.....Chinese sounds good....
~~ Occasionally in my work, I come across things that I don't want to know about. Sometimes that's just TMI on an injury or a person's way of life or just their life story. Sometimes [most of the time, actually] it's people on the phone who just talk and talk and talk, and I'm usually torn between wanting to interrupt so I can get off the call and get to the next one and wanting to laugh my head off. Or just cover my ears and sing "la la la la la" so I don't have to hear. Today I came across the most disturbing story ever, and I have had a really hard time getting over it. I will not go into any details about how I know this or what it is because 1) I cannot, 2) You don't need to know. But suffice it to say that children were involved. I felt so sick after this all was made known to me. How could anybody knowingly injure a child, whether it be emotional, physical, or otherwise? What part of that person's brain made them think that was a plausible conclusion? How could anybody let that sort of evil seep into them until it takes hold? I cried when I got home tonight, thinking of those kids. I just thought of how the Savior loves children and how tenderly He watches over them, and I hope and pray that wherever those kids are, they will find some peace and comfort.
~~ Thinking about that made me think about family life. I know that not everybody is blessed to have a happy home like I did, and it makes me sad. A child derves to be in a home where they are not only loved, but cherished. They deserve to have parents who will teach them right from wrong, who will sing the ABC's with them, who will play catch outside or have tea parties or make forts out of chairs and blankets. They deserve to live with joy, and not fear. I see people in the world who are raising children and doing the very best they can, and it's not perfect. No life is ever going to be. But sometimes, they are not doing their best. Sometimes the children are seen as a hindrance to the parents way of life. How selfish! You made the decision to be a parent, whether you meant to or not, and you have to live with the consequences of your choices. I think about friends of mine who have adopted, and in so doing, have taken infants that would otherwise have been raised in situations that would not have been condusive to a healthy or stable home life. I applaud anybody who can see the severity of their situation enough to know that they cannot raise the child they have created and place that child with a family who can. I cannot imagine the pain that doing so engenders, but surely the knowledge of the rightness of the decision will be a great comfort to them.
~~ On a MUCH lighter note, I love Covert Affairs. It's a TV show on USA and I am SO addicted. There is a character on it that I simply adore, and he is a blind CIA agent who works in Tech Ops, which I think is the coolest thing ever. He was also Special Forces in Iraq, which I LOVE. I kind of have a thing for armed forces.... Anyway, what I love most about this guy [besides his abs, I mean, come on] is the fact that the actor takes such pains to make sure he portrays the character right. After discovering that the character would be blind, he contacted the Canadian Institute for the Blind and took lessons, met people, and did hours and hours of research so that his portrayal would be accurate. When he found out he would be doing an episode about the character's past involving his time in the military, he contacted military advisors and again spent hours and hours doing reserach and learning how he needed to act in order to be accurate. I LOVE that he felt so deeply about being truthful to both of these aspects of his character's life and behavior. And if that wasn't enough, during that episode that aired, he did a public service announcement about disabled veterans. I LOVE THAT. It made me so happy. We hear such crap from a lot of the media about military and it always makes me so mad when I hear people criticize them. It is sooooo refreshing to find someone in the media realm that still honors those men and women and the sacrifices they make for us.
~~ On a much MUCH lighter note, I really want cookies right now. But that would require me to make them, which would mean I would have a bowl of cookie dough, and in my current state of study burn-out and all alone-ness, I do not think that such temptation would be a good idea. Particularly if I want to maintain my determination to be healthier...
So those are my thoughts right now. Well, some of them. I'm also thinking about sleep, dishes, California, apple pie, Carly, bubble baths, and Panda Express. I told you, I'm random.
Oh, and by the way, Happy August.