Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Couple of Updates

Well, it's Sunday. You know what that means, church. And it also means my mission to discover if Michael McKean is drinking coffee at the church cafe. I'm sorry to say I am still not sure. He was there, but I didn't get to talk to him. I had a bold plan ready (introduce myself with first and last name and hope he did the same), but, alas, he was absorbed in a conversation with some blond lady. I was discouraged at first, but developed a quick Plan B. Sit at the nearest table to them that I could and hopefully be able to eavesdrop and get the information I need to make a determination. While their conversation was mildly interesting, I still have no concrete evidence either to confirm or deny that the man is Michael McKean. I will try again next Sunday.

As for my 36 by 36 project, it's going well. I have stayed in the vicinity of my original weight, though, so I think this week I will need to get a tape measure so I can see inches, centimeters, whatever, dropping. Otherwise I start do get apathetic and tell myself I should accept my body the way it is, blah. I added some exercise music to my iPod (eminem, rihanna, black eyed peas) so that helps me get motivated to get on the treadmill. My clothes are fitting better, and that's a good sign, I think. My plan this week is to do some exercise every day, in addition to my meal replacement shake and eating no sugary foods or junk. I just really can't stand the sight of my flabby tummy anymore. I think I look good, but then I walk by a mirror or a window and bam! I'm wondering who is that fat chick walking so close to me, then I realize, oh crap, that's me! Reality check.

The week ahead looks busy. The kids are off school tomorrow and Princess O has a play date, which means the boys will be home together with me. Let the fighting begin. I am dreading the day already.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

In the Closet

There is a section in the new Reader's Digest where they published tips from people on how to keep a relationship fresh and exciting, stay in love, all that good stuff. (I read this in the actual magazine and I couldn't find it online.) If I had seen there was an opportunity to send in a tip, I'm not sure what I would have recommended, maybe to not lose yourself, keep your own interests, learn something new, try new things, that kind of thing. I think that's what has helped my marriage stay interesting and kept my husband from getting bored with me.

My husband also noticed this section in Reader's Digest and mentioned that one tip especially stood out to him. A reader had sent in the suggestion for a couple to share "special moments" in the bedroom, the bathroom, and also the closet. The closet? I would love to know what size closet this person has that they can share a "special moment" in it successfully.

The bedroom, yes, of course, I get it. The bathroom, as long as one of us isn't sitting on the toilet, sure. Showering together, which can still be tricky if all you have is a shower stall, can be nice and relaxing, whatever, right. But the closet is not so obvious to me. Our closet is probably the last place I would consider seducing my husband. It's very, very small. It's not a walk-in. It's a typical closet, no sliding doors, but I guess that would be a challenge, too. It's full of our junk. It's not well-ventilated. There is usually a pile of dirty clothes on the floor along with shoes and purses. You get the idea.

Any person who can suggest the closet as a location for a "special moment" must have on heck of a closet. I'm picturing a walk-in with maybe a futon or at least some uncluttered area that allows for two adults to be in there at the same time. Probably smells a lot better than mine. Wow. The closet. That really blew my mind. Blew my husband's mind, too. We had a good laugh envisioning that scenario.

Which means, maybe we'll have to try that. One or the other of us will climb in there one day to surprise the other, that's just how we are. It has to be done just for the sake of trying it and checking it off the list. You know what list I mean, right? The list of places . . . right. So some time this week, I guess I will have to get in there and move some things around, at least pick up the shoes and toss the dirty clothes into the hamper, maybe put an air freshener in there. I just hope that when it finally happens that nothing falls on us, and we don't knock the door off the hinges.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Kindle Cracks 100 Books

This week I officially passed 100 books loaded onto my Kindle. I haven't read them all, yet, and I am comforted to know the at the click of a button, I have a vast library from which to choose.

My latest download is The Forsyte Sage. I saw a blurb for it in Netflix and I always try to read the book before I watch the movie, if possible. This is a pretty good read. There are some slow parts where the author gives details and background about the family and situations, but the dialogue and action is enjoyable and moves the plot along nicely.


My older son has a few developmental issues, which is one reason I am so glad we homeschool. We think his developmental problems are the result of a complicated pregnancy and delivery. He has been diagnosed with tic disorder, ADHD, and I suspect he may have dysgraphia.

Dysgraphia is basically a disconnect between the brain and the arm that is writing. You can see an example of dysgraphia here. Letters in words are reversed, thoughts are incomplete, handwriting is incredibly sloppy. Even though he knows what he wants to write, he can dictate a whole story to me, when he tries to write it out, there is an incredible difficulty in getting the words on paper. Think of someone who stutters, but that stuttering is writing. My son used to write words with capital letters everywhere but where they should be. His handwriting was all over the page and no matter how many times I showed him the correct way to spell or write, he continued to struggle. I did some research online and came across dysgraphia and started to implement some ideas to help him. Some of the tips have helped, but it is still a daily problem.

This morning he struggled to complete an assigned writing project for our homeschool charter school. He simply had to correct a paragraph he wrote last semester. Our overseer had already graded his work and gave it back to him with the corrections marked. All my son had to do was copy his original paragraph with the corrections. It was not easy. He got halfway through it when he started complaining that his arm was hurting. I made him keep going since he was so close to being done. His arm gets fatigued very quickly while he is writing, but he can drag a short assignment out all day and we don't have that luxury today. I wonder sometimes if he is just pretending, but today he actually started to hit his arm in frustration. So I let him take a quick break and then finish. This was one assignment he could not type or I would have let him finish it on the computer.

He definitely has some of the symptoms of dysgraphia in addition to the fatigue. His handwriting is atrocious even after a whole school year spent working on the correct way to write neatly. His spelling has improved, but it suffers when his lack of focus gets him off track and he makes silly errors. I guess, now that I'm writing this out, maybe it's just his ADHD, but dysgraphia is common in ADHD kids, too, so who knows.

I am so happy I found this link with so many suggestions on helping kids with dysgraphia. I have started to let him type his assignments a lot more, which he loves. There are some interesting exercises on here, too, that I will have to try for next week. Usually I let him take a five minute break when his fatigue prevents him from any further productive work, meaning his handwriting gets even sloppier if he doesn't get a break, but I think we will be using the computer a lot more.

I wonder, too, if handwriting skills may be replaced by typing skills in school standards. It seems to me that typing is the more necessary skill for life as we know it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Real Simple Challenge, Supposedly

There is an organizing challenge from Real Simple magazine that totally fits with my goal of keeping my kitchen in order this year. You can find it here. Basically, you pick one spot in your house that is usually cluttered and you organize it and keep it clutter-free for a week. This will then, hopefully, lead to another week and another week and another week, thereby breaking your nasty habit of loading this area with crap. Sounds good to me.

This picture is the top of my portable dishwasher. Coupons and junk mail, bills and broken toys typically cover this area. I really hate seeing it like this, but I only clear it off maybe once a month. This area is just too convenient to dump everything on. Here is another pic from a better angle so you can see just what I am dealing with.

I really like this challenge. It's short and it really focuses on one area. This way I don't feel overwhelmed and I can take it day by day to keep this area clear. The kitchen looks so much neater when the top of the dishwasher is clean and not cluttered. I don't know if the rest of the family will go along with the plan. We'll see.

I put if off all day, but I finally organized everything that I want to keep there, paper, pens, iPod speakers, my Aleve, but tossed most of the papers and other junk into the trash or returned it to its appointed place. I was amazed how much was just straight up trash. Seriously. We are basically keeping a trash pile on top of the dishwasher.

Not anymore.

I think my plant looks a lot happier not to be buried in so much paper and crap. After I organized everything, I wiped the area down with disinfectant and now we are good to go. Lord help the first person I see put anything on there. (who am I kidding? It will probably be me!)

Anyway, maybe this can help you, too. Go clean one area and keep it organized for a week. In one week, I'll post another picture of the top of my dishwasher and we can compare areas.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Night Life or I'm Too Old to Stay Up So Late

When I was in my twenties, I could stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, get a few hours sleep, and then work an wight-hour day, no problem. In my thirties, I just can't do it anymore, but I still think that I can.

We stayed at a friend's house playing Scrabble (my favorite game and, yes, I won the first game) last night. They have three kids and a Wii so the grown-ups actually got to have time on their own. We ended up staying until after midnight and the yawns around the table were getting progressively longer and uglier. While one adult seemed to be getting more amped up as the night wore on, the rest of us were getting red-eyed and quiet. Time to go home.

After getting home and tucking in the kids, I finally got to bed around 1:30am. I woke up at 10am (to the question, when are you getting up, mom? We're hungry.) The kids had already been up for a while, but thankfully they let me sleep in. Shouldn't that be enough sleep, nine hours? I could have slept for a lot longer! What happened to the days of five hours of sleep and then charging through the day and then another late night?

I knew I had to get the kids to science class by 12:30pm (I spent an hour knitting and reading my Kindle) and that I wanted to get some schoolwork done (thank-you notes for language arts) before then, so I got up and got moving pretty well (made quick breakfast and drank my weight-loss shake). But now, the crushing tiredness is upon me. My husband is already snoring on the couch. He had the day off, forced furlough, and took care of all the laundry at the laundromat with our youngest child. Great man.

I have a full night of work ahead - four hours of transcription are waiting for me. I need to get the coffeepot going, but I think I may take a quick 15-minute snooze. That's another change, the 15-minute nap. Even if I just lay for 15 minutes and think about what I need to do, not really sleeping, I get up and feel energized, at least for a while. In my twenties I don't remember ever taking a 15-minute recharge snooze, it was all or nothing. It was a 3-hour nap or just keep moving.

So, I'm groggily off to work. In 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Possible Celebrity Sighting - At Church

I go to a fairly large church in an area of California where it is not totally impossible to sight a celebrity. A few weeks ago at church I had a run-in with a man who looked very familiar to me.

As I was entering the church cafe, he was exiting, and he happened to drop his cup of coffee as he held the door. We both watched the cup hit the floor, it happened to land on the rug just inside the door, and the coffee began to spill out of the drinking hole on the lid. The cup was the to-go kind with the plastic lid. Fortunately, the lid did not pop off, so the coffee was being absorbed into the rug on which the cup landed. The man and I just stared at it for a second, the coffee burbling out the hole onto the rug. Everything happened fast, but in slow motion, and then the man just said something like "oh, darn it!" I grabbed the door handle and he grabbed the cup. He just smiled at me and said, "Thank God for lids, anyway." I laughed and then he went off to re-fill his cup. I had the nagging thought that I had seen him somewhere before, but I couldn't place him. A little while later, my brain finally worked it out that the man looked like Michael McKean, who happens to be in the area working on a musical (or was working since it closed at the end of December.)

I told my husband what had happened and who I thought the man might be, and guess what? He just laughed it off, " No, I don't think so." Typical.

Well, we just saw a movie the other night, "Whatever Works", and I swear that's the guy. This movie is one of Michael McKean's most recent projects and the guy who dropped his coffee looks and sounds just like the Michael McKean in the movie.

Today I saw the Possible Michael McKean in the cafe again, and I wasn't about to lose the opportunity for my husband to get a look at him, too. I texted my husband to meet me in the cafe. I sat at a table reading and drinking my coffee while the Possible Michael McKean sat chatting with a couple ladies. I tried not to be too obvious as I snuck peeks at him while I waited for my husband. If he noticed me, he probably thought I was checking him out! I am convinced this is the guy.

Of course, when my husband and his friend (whom I wish he hadn't told) come in and see the Possible Michael McKean sitting there, right away they scoff, oh, no way. That's not him. I pointed out that celebrities often look a lot different in real life, especially men, than they do on TV or in movies. They agreed with me, but would not concede that it was even possible that the man was Michael McKean. My husband dared me to go talk to the guy, but I didn't. I couldn't think of anything to say!

I couldn't think of a way to introduce myself today, but I'm working on it. The next time I see this guy I am going to find out if it is indeed Michael McKean. I'll keep you posted. Until then, I think Spinal Tap is in my Netflix queue somewhere...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

36 by 36

Well, here it is another year beginning and I have not lost the weight I need to lose. I need to lose this weight so I am healthier and can keep up with my kids better. I need to lose it so that I am more confident I am keeping my husband's undivided attention. I need to lose it so my favorite jeans will fit me forever. It's time. My youngest child just turned five. At some point, I had to admit this is no longer baby weight I am carrying, but lazy weight. I know what I need to do, I need to exercise and stop eating like it doesn't matter. I know what I need to do, I just don't want to do it.

I was looking for some inspiration and, lo and behold, the mailman delivered me some in the form of my driver's license renewal reminder. I am finally due to update my awful (truly awful) photo and have to go down to the DMV before my birthday at the end of February. The possibility of trading an awful picture (no make-up, hair in a bun) with a fat-face picture is the kick-in-the-butt I needed. My current driver's license also shows my weight as a whopping...115 pounds. Hoo-chie mama, I was thin! Look at me now, 12 years of marriage and three kids later, yikes. I know I can't get down to 115 pounds, but I can sure as heck close the gap a little.

My goal is to lose 36 pounds by the time I turn 36 by the end of February. I love my birthday and always use that date to motivate myself to achieve something. This time, I'm not positive I can lose a total of 36 pounds by that date, but I am going to try. (Don't tell me it's impossible or crazy. I am aware!) I've been watching what I eat since the beginning of the year and have lost two pounds already. Next week I am getting back on the treadmill and alternating an abs workout with stretching. I printed out a calendar and filled in my schedule. Seeing the routine in writing always helps me.

So there it is, 36 by 36.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reading Goals for 2011

Last year my goal was to read 100 books. I don't know if I did, but I know I read more than 50. Having a Kindle really boosted my reading time, I'm not sure why, maybe it's the ability to instantly buy a book I want to read. I read through the Hunger Games trilogy on my Kindle in one weekend and finished the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series on my Kindle and through the library. I read the first two Stieg Larsson books and am halfway through the third, also on my Kindle. I love reading suspense novels on my Kindle because I am prevented from flipping through the book to find out what happens. (I am always doing that and sometimes it really ruins the rest of the book, but I keep doing it because I can't stand the suspense!) I am trying to pace myself on The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I don't want it to end.

So, again, the goal for this year is to read 100 books, with the additional goal of keeping better track of what I read. Currently I am halfway through the Larsson book and halfway through Ahab's Wife, which turned into a real snoozer. I really want to discover a new series or author to read through.