Sunday, January 30, 2011

Betty Freakin' Crocker

Who the heck am I?

In the past few weeks...I have made some of the most delicious edible creations ever in the history of all mankind. 

Such creations include:
1) Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf
2) Pioneer Woman's Mac & Cheese
3) Pioneer Woman's Potato Skins
4) Bakerella's Cake Pops

I have really been trying to lose weight here lately, so we have not been eating out as frequently. This has allowed me to get creative in the kitchen. I don't get to do very much during the week, but the weekend is when I get to make a huge mess and whip up something fancy. 

Even though I am really trying to watch what I eat, I have made all of the Pioneer Woman (aka P-Dub) recipes using the full-fat ingredients. You see, P-Dub is basically a skinny Paula Deen, and she freakin' loves butter and cream. What's that, you say? How can you be watching your weight AND eating butter and cream? 

Well, what I have come to learn is that if I make the recipe using the full-fat ingredients and don't sub in wimpy low-fat substitutes, I tend to not eat as much of the finished product. It is more filling, richer, and satisfies me more, which means I am not prone to go back for 2nds (unless it is that damn mac & cheese. HOLY CRAP)! 

I also find that if I eat what I am actually craving, I don't hunt around the kitchen afterwards looking for something else to fill me up. Snacking constantly really hurts me in the weight loss department. My actual meals are not that's really all the junk in between that packs on the pounds.

I am far from an expert, but I am learning more and more each day how to listen to what I am actually needing and wanting, and how to make good decisions when it comes to food. 

Except for tonight. Nachos at Don Pablo's was a bad decision.

Good thing there's always tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

McFatty Monday (on a sue me)

In my first official post for McFatty Monday, I wanted to start off with a bang.

First, I will tell you that I am going on week 4 without fast food. This is probably the longest I have ever gone, and I plan to go longer. I have to say that I don't really crave it. I find that I am craving other things that I have been eating at home. I also have really laid off my Diet Coke intake. I have had 1, maybe 2, large "gas station" Diet Cokes. I haven't been through a drive-thru because it is just a freaking trigger for me. Somehow, I mean to order a Diet Coke but then I mumble out "get me a hamburger, too" and it all goes to Hell. I try to limit myself to one can of Diet Coke per day. I figure 12 ounces is much better than 42.

I went through my blog and saw my pregnancy posts with Noelle. I have reasoned that I still look somewhere between 16 and 19 weeks pregnant. What I wouldn't give to look 12 weeks pregnant again! I am getting there. It is a process. I can't be too hard on myself.

I made a pretty healthy recipe on Thursday night. I got it from the Kraft Foods website. I made 90% lean beef hamburgers, put them on buns, and then topped them with pineapple, onions, and green onions. I also put a little BBQ sauce on mine. As a side, I made zucchini fries (oven baked). Not bad!

So, I will leave you with this.... a little progress report. Because I will never post my weight on here (unless I reach my goal), I have used percentages to show you my progress. Basically, my starting weight was last week. I want to weigh 85% of what I weighed last week (i.e. I want to lose 15% of my body weight). This week, I lost 1.3%. So, you can see where I have started, where I want to go, and where I am now.

Check ya next Monday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Super Epic Cake Pop Saga

I decided a few weeks ago that Noelle was going to have a bird themed 1st birthday. Not creepy black birds...but cute little whimsical birds.

I decided last weekend that I needed to find a way to make a bird-like Cake Pop (the Bakerella variety). How hard could it be??

Well...I took on the task, starting on Sunday. I thought it would be a simple thing to do. Not so much.

First, go to Bakerella's site and look at the main recipe. Then you can browse around at all the amazing cake pops she has made. Go ahead. But make sure you come back here! Bakerella's Red Velvet Cake Balls

So, I made the first batch-o-balls. They tasted great, but they were too big and they didn't stay on the sticks very well. When I dipped them in the chocolate, they were lumpy. I also made the mistake of letting them dry by sitting on a cookie sheet with waxed paper. This created a flat top on each cake pop. Yucky. I said...they tasted great!

I harvested some advice from Facebook from people who have done this before, but they helped me get through some of my issues.

Here's a list to help you if you decide to do this. This second batch was a white cake with cream cheese frosting and then white candy melts dyed light yellow.

1. Make sure you have the right consistency of the cake mix and frosting. I really mixed it will and then let it kind of sit out for a little bit, which made it get a little tacky and rolled much easier.

2. Make the balls about the width of a quarter. Do not make the balls too big!!!

3. Dip the stick in a little bit of the candy melts first (about a 1/2"), and then stick them in the balls. This will help them stick.

4. Refrigerate (or freeze) for several hours.

5. Add a little oil to the candy melts to make it a little thinner so it doesn't tug on the cake ball and make it lumpy.

6. Make sure you put the candy melts in a deep enough cup so that you can fully dunk the cake ball.

7. Twist and tap the cake pop once it is coated, getting the excess off.

8. Stick the cake pops in a block of styrofoam so that they can dry standing up.

9. For the faces of my birds, I used some shaped sprinkles and some black frosting dye. I used the end of a pop stick to get some candy melt on the tip and then use it as glue for the beak and feet. I used the end of a pop stick to make the eyes, too. Granted, I haven't really figured out which face looks more like a bird. Some of these look like birds, some look like crazy clowns, others look like rabbits, and some look like hamsters. Meh. I will get better.

Praise the LORD I did not just decide to make these for the first time the weekend of Noelle's birthday! I would say you need to allow yourself at least a full day to get these made. They are time consuming, but if you put in the extra work, they look pretty cute!

The best part is that they taste as good as they look...or in my case, they taste better than they look!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This needs to happen.

How cute would Noelle look riding this thing? I think she should have needs it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

'Tis an art...

I love a good 4-letter word...really, I do. I think swearing is kind of fun, even though it is as unladylike and unintelligent-sounding as it gets. However, my favorite word these days is that of the 2-letter variety.


I like saying it. No. No. No. No. Say it with me..."No!" See, don't you feel better?

I have always been a "Yes" girl. Yes, I will help you with that. Yes, I will be there in an hour. Yes, I will email that to you. Yes, I will be checking my professional email on the weekends. Yes, you can get it to me later. Yes, I have 100 things to do but I will make sure that I do what you need me to do first. Yes, you look pretty.

Sometimes, you just want to say no. 

But sometimes, you fear looking like a bitch (told you I liked swearing) in the process. You fear being disliked. You fear that you won't be needed. You fear that you are abandoning some responsibility you have to make everyone happy BUT you. 

I have found, however, that I am much less likable...much less fun...much less relaxed...and much more on edge, if I have been saying yes too much. 

So, I decided that I would try to say no more often, and so far, I have done it twice, and it has felt great and worked out swimmingly. Of course, upon the initial drop of the n-bomb, I faced some hesitation and some questioning. I felt the immediate need to justify myself and provide an excuse. However, I decided that in these cases, no excuse was necessary, and a simple, kind, calm, professional "no" would do the trick. 

We feel such a need to defend our actions. We feel such a need to provide little white lies as to why we couldn't make that dinner or why the document was late or why we just can't be at that wedding...but really, a simple truth of, "I just can't make it" will go a long way. No one wants to be lied to. No one wants to be given an excuse. I would much prefer honesty if the shoe was on the other foot. 

So, it really is an art to say no tactfully, with an assertive edge and a touch of sweetness...and I am learning. I am learning that it is OK to not be at everything, to do everything for everyone. I am learning that it is OK to want to just be home, to be with your husband and daughter, to be on your couch, sitting Indian style (...Native American style?...) with your laptop resting on your legs, just as I am right now, watching the trainwrecks on The Bachelor. I don't need to give an excuse. I don't need to lie. I don't need to deny myself the right to be relaxed and happy. 

No. Try it. 

McFatties Unite.

I love Heir to Blair. If you aren't familiar and totally in love with her blog, you need to get busy. I don't know how I discovered her, but I am so glad I did, because she so hilariously documents her triumphs and trials as a working mom. More seriously, she so bravely describes her battles with postpartum depression and the miscarriage she went through before giving birth to her son, Harrison. I literally laugh out loud at some of her posts, but then find myself tearing up and wanting to hold her hand in others. She is great, and I find her to be an inspiration.

Anywho...she does a weekly post called "McFatty Monday." She decided to chronicle her weight loss endeavors each Monday, starting with last January 4th. She managed to lose 35 pounds as a result, and she so bravely lists her actual weight and posts weekly pictures. I love this concept (and title), and I would like to "link up" to her McFatty Monday posts and share my struggles, too. I have made a commitment to abandon my fast food addiction, and I truly would like to drop this baby weight and then some. I have a rule that I must lose my baby weight and enjoy my success for a good three to six months before thinking about baby numero dos. we go.

I made a cute little banner for the McFatty Monday link, and I hope to have as much success as Blair. P.S....that's not her real name. She's that cool.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wait...another post!?

This is what a lazy Sunday will do for you. Ample time to think. Ample time to write. Ample time to eat. Sigh. Ample time to play with the best baby on Earth. Ample time to blog! Yippee!!!!

Just thought little miss Noelle deserved to be on this blog a little more...and what better way to do it than to post this picture? We have been trying to get her to take to a sippy cup for a couple of months now. Really, she will do it every now and then, but she is not showing much love toward the thing. BUT...I bought her this adorable little cup only because it had a bulldog on it...and it turns out that she loves sipping through a straw!

No worries. Orange substance in sippy was Pedialyte...not orange pop.

Air it out

I have some thoughts that I would like to get off my chest. And since my husband is nowhere to be found (i.e. somewhere on the ICU floor of St. Vincent's Hospital), and since Noelle is napping, I am just going to air it out right here.

1) I find Jennifer Hudson's weight loss via Weight Watchers to be incredible. However, her obnoxious, exaggerated rendition of "Feeling Good" on the commercial really, really annoys me. I mean...wasn't she an Idol reject?

2) The amount of celebrities getting pregnant lately is super annoying-- not because they aren't allowed, but because 90% of them are not married and are continuing to glamorize unwed pregnancy. In the real world, you don't have enough money to pay for 3 nannies, expensive baby equipment, and the best health insurance. It is hard enough to do it married...let alone by yourself. In the real world, no one has a camera in your face taking a picture of how fabulous you look 35 weeks pregnant and how equally amazing you look 2 weeks after having a baby. Why? Because normal people DON'T look that fabulous and no one cares about you...obviously. Things happen...people get pregnant...but I just don't understand why we continue to make it appear to be the easiest thing in the world to bear a child and then raise a good human being...when it clearly is the most difficult, challenging, (albeit rewarding) experience responsibility you could ever take on. matter how much MTV tries to steer girls away from teen pregnancy by showing the hardships these girls on Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant face each day, they still can't deny paying these girls $280,000 per season and giving them the avenues to wind up on the covers of magazines. Not normal. Not fair. Not helping the situation at all.

3) I am really astonished at how many people my age are going through or have gone through a divorce. I learned of three couples who have called it quits just last night in one dinner with a friend. For one girl, this will be her 2nd divorce...and she is my age. What's the issue? Are we really getting married too young and then simply growing up and growing apart? Are we getting married for the wrong reasons? Are we not well-versed in communication skills? Are we allowed to give up too easily in other areas of life and then it just translates over to the marriage? I also wonder if maybe this is a side effect of my generation growing up with a lot more divorced parents than the generations before us. Of course there are situations that arise that definitely warrant filing for divorce. I am not trying to say you should stick it out at all costs, no matter what, but I am just overwhelmed with sadness as I can still see the couples' wedding pictures floating around on Facebook...and they seemed so happy. What happened between then and now?

OK. I feel better.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


83% could mean a lot of things.

1) It could mean the percentage in which my brain has been functioning this week.

2) It could mean the amount of Luke's waking hours that he has spent at the St. Vincent ICU this week on the night shift.

3) It could mean the grade I got in World History in High School.

4) It could mean the percent of a chance that I will just forego my fast food boycott and make my way to Dairy Queen to get a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard right. this very. second. means none of those.

It means that 83% of Noelle's first year of life is behind her. Yes, she's 10 months old. And yes, even though I teach 4th grade and fractions to percentages and all that good stuff, I definitely plugged it into the calculator on my Mac's dashboard just to make sure that 10/12 is 83%.

This has been a crazy ass week, but I am going to give this post the respect it deserves by telling you that our little sweetie is well on her way to her 1st birthday, and I am excited and sad all the same. I am trying to think of a way to type all of this out without sounding like the most cliched mommy you have ever heard...which means I will avoid phrases like time is "just passing before my eyes," and "she is growing like a weed," and "she is changing before my eyes"...even though all of which are true.

What I will say is that Noelle has approximately 4 and 2/3's teeth. Three full teeth on the bottom, one full fang on the top, and 1/3 of two other teeth are poking through on the top, too. She is starting to look less like a baby and more like a little girl. She still crinkles her nose when she smiles, makes the most adorable sound when she laughs (think of what an overweight chipmunk might sound like if it were to laugh out loud...), and she freaking loves it when Luke tosses her up in the air.

She says a lot of sounds, such as dada, mama, gaga, and she will say "geehceyatt," which is baby language for cat! She loves the cats and will look around the room if you say, "Noelle, where's the kitty cat?" She also calls Ernie "dada," so she is either really confused or...really confused.

Noelle walks behind her shopping cart on her own. She pulls up to stand, cruises down the couch, waves, and claps occasionally. Unfortunately, I caught her clapping during Mitch Daniels's State of the State address a couple nights ago. She didn't quite understand that we don't clap for that man in our house.

We believe Noelle to be a bit on the short side for her age. Her 9 month pants hang off of her at the bottom, and we have to roll them up so she can practice walking. She is still in size 3 diapers, she is mostly on baby food and some table food, though she still loves her 2 1/2 bottles a day.

Last night, I really thought she was going to crawl. She was starting to do a bear crawl type of thing, and she would get on all 4s and rock back and forth. As soon as I got the video camera out, she stopped.

Luke has worked nights all week, meaning that he goes in to the hospital around 5 and gets home around 7-7:30 in the morning. This all adds up to not a lot of time with us together. Approximately 20-30 minutes each day. However, due to the amount of snow we received this week, my school has been on a delay for 2 days and released early one day. This has allowed us to see Luke a little more than we would have normally.

I got my first "your baby is sick and you need to come get her" call today. I think I have done pretty well to make it 10 months without one of those. Noelle has had an upset tummy for the past couple of days, and today it was REALLY upset because she had a blowout so epic that it exploded out of her clothes and spewed "water" onto the floor at daycare. Icky. I had to take her to the doctor today to get a note saying Noelle could go back. As much as I didn't want to leave school in the middle of the day, I really enjoyed being able to spend some extra time with the baby girl.

So, in a nutshell, Noelle is the epitome of awesomeness and I love her more each day. Her personality is really starting to show, and I find myself looking forward to each new day, anxiously awaiting her next development or change.'s her 10 month teddy bear picture!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not lovin' it.

Dear McDonald's,

I miss you. A lot. It has been well over a week...going on two weeks...since I last indulged in your goodness.

More specifically, I miss the Mexi-Donald's on 96th Street. I say this in no disrespect of the Mexican culture. This McDonald's is my favorite on Earth because it is so efficient, quick, and always correct. I have never once had an issue with an order, except for that one tiny slip-up when I was Sweet Tea'd on my way to school. (Sweet Tea'd = I got Sweet Tea instead of Diet Coke and nearly choked to death due to the shock and horror) I have totally forgiven you and see no reason to hold that over your head.

A few times this week, I have been really tempted to just throw my resolution out my window and pull up to your window and place my order. Would it be a Happy Meal? Or would it be a #2 with no cheese? Would I go for Chicken Nuggets? Would I just get a Diet Coke? I am not sure what I would get if I could, but the bottom line is that I have a goal to achieve, so I just can't allow myself to give in.

You have comforted me many times in the past when I have been stressed, rushed, frustrated, or pissed. I ate you many times to spite my husband, just because he hates you. I have gone to you with friends or alone. I have rarely been disappointed.

I suppose you could say that I am an addict, but I am trying to break the cycle. Please don't tempt me with your beautiful billboards or your catchy commercials. I will just have to change the channel or look the other way.

I'm not saying I will never see you again, but it will probably be a while still. Just know that even though we are not seeing each other on a frequent basis, I still have a very big place in my heart and my gut (right around my spare tire area) for you.

Yours truly,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Baby Number Two

Don't have a heart attack, Mom. There is no baby number two. This is just me expressing my thoughts on the subject.

I feel and have felt for a while that the decision to have baby number two will be twenty nine times more intense than the decision to have baby number one (i.e. Noelle).

I am hit with conflicting thoughts about the topic. In many ways, I know that I am not ready for a second child. Financially, it scares me. Daycare is expensive. Everything else, I feel I have absorbed just fine in my "budget" (WHAT BUDGET?) by making sacrifices in other areas. But the daycare...holy hell. It sucks. Daycare in general sucks-- not because I think they don't take good care of Noelle, but because I am paying someone else to play with her, see her smiles, hear her giggles, and all the while I am sprouting gray hairs like I can sell them on eBay due my stress at school.

That brings me to my next point. Is it morally correct to have another child when I know that I am not going to be able to stay home with him/her? When I know that this baby will have years of daycare in his/her future? I feel like Noelle is such a trooper and is just going with the flow...and I feel like she is our little battle warrior baby...but why would I subject another child to long days away from their home?

Is Noelle ready to be a big sister? That sentence almost is comical. She is still such a baby herself. 9 months...or a year...or 18 months.... will she be ready? Will she be ready to share us? Should we only have one child?

But then I get into the cold, hard, facts. My pregnancy with Noelle was flawless, including being 7 cm dilated before I even went into active labor. If I can get my mind to forget about the nearly 4 hours of pushing, I think I would just go around being a professional baby-haver. It was that easy and "textbook" as my doctor put it. Noelle has been the perfect baby. Not a health problem...only one sick baby visit in 10 months. Sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. Sleeping the second her body falls into a car seat. Smiling, laughing, waving, giggling, saying "Cat..." she's perfect. Why wouldn't I have another one? Why do I have any reason to believe that any subsequent children won't be this wonderful?

When will I know that we are ready to expand our family? When will my heart with the battle with my head? I find myself feeling the way I did before I got pregnant with Noelle...jealous of the pregnant women I see around me and wondering when it will be my turn. comments, Mom. ;-)

Resolution Check- Week 1

Well, I am here to offer a weekly update to my resolutions I made. I did not go through one drive-thru this whole week! You might think that is not a big deal, but honestly, I was hittin' a drive-thru in some form or another like 5 times a week-- either for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a Diet Coke (which was it usually was). I know that $1 Diet Coke from McDonald's is not the biggest offense on Earth, but honestly-- that $1 DC usually turns into a $3.49 value meal. Not to mention I was drinking DC by the GALLONS and totally neglecting my water intake. Not good. Not healthy. Not to mention expensive. Spending $1 a day on Diet Coke alone, coupled with a few nights of Value Meals...and it adds up to like $10 a week on crappy SHITTY food. So, in that regard, I have done really well!

I only made it to Zumba once this week. I wish I could have done it at least twice. That is my goal. So, hopefully this week will be better, though I doubt it because Luke is working over night this week. Awful. I hate it. Only 4 more months of Med School of us...thank GOD. Not that residency will be any better by any means...

I did go to Target twice this week. My resolution was just to go once. However, I bought nothing frivolous or unnecessary either time. I just got diapers and some groceries and a gift for Clare's baby shower. Go me.

So, all in all, I think I did pretty well. I didn't fall off any wagon. I am still very much on my way to having a healthy year in all aspects of my life. I even said "No" to a commitment that would have taken me away from my family for several hours. There's so much power in that tiny little word!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

I realize that I need to upload some pictures here soon. I also need to do that on my photography blog is for my photography, so I need to show some photography. Speaking of that-- I am so happy with the growth of my photography "business." I counted, and I did over 20 photo sessions in about 5 months in 2010. I have already started the new "season" with a great session, and I have several more coming up. Very cool. I love it.

Anyway-- we had the most uneventful New Year's ever. I mean...if it were any more uneventful, we'd be 6 feet under, if you know what I mean. I went to a special New Year's Eve Zumba class, and then I came back, got ready really quickly, and then we went to PF Chang's (my favorite Chinese place!) to celebrate NYE and our 10 year anniversary of being together. We made a reservation, they had our table ready, and we were out of there within an hour. We came back, played with Noelle for a few, put her to bed, then I fell asleep long before midnight. I woke up at about 11:45, just in time to watch the ball drop and then fall back asleep. No parties. No drinking. No screaming at midnight. No noise makers. No silly hats. A part of me missed this...the traditions of NYE past...but a part of me was just fine with spending the evening with my husband and my daughter, safe and sound in our home. Maybe the fact that 2011 was welcomed in quietly and calmly will mean that it will be a quiet and calm year...

Now, on to those resolutions. I make them every year. I break them every year...but I think it's because my motivations are never really whole-hearted. I usually say I want to lose weight...not to be healthier but because I want to look good on a bikini. I usually say I want to save money...not for financial fitness but for something frivolous that I want to buy. This year, I have decided to focus on health and balance...the total picture...taking care of myself so that I can be a better mom, wife, daughter, friend, teacher, person. I think that is all we can hope for at the dawn of a new year.

One resolution I am determined to uphold is eliminating fast food from my diet. This is not only for my health benefit, but also for my financial benefit. Honestly, even commercials for fast food are making my stomach churn. Too much. I am done. might scoff at my resolutions and think there's no way I will keep them...but I don't care. I will never know unless I try.