Monday, August 31, 2009

Attempt Number Two

Since my first weight loss attempt was an utter and complete failure, I am going to give it another college try (mind you, I quit college too so, take that at face value:-). I hereby pledge to take care of myself first so I can take care of others second.

Anyway, my plan is to get up at o'dark-hundred to workout. I am going to continue my walking tapes until I can get a Wii Fit and the money for the Wii Fit in the same room at the same time. In addition, I am tracking my nutrition stats through my recipe/grocery software. The Living Cookbook rocks in this regard. I just type in my menu plan and viola...success:-)

Now, why am I boring you with all this? I am not sure except that I needed to purge my soul and my other blog would have spit it out:-)

So, wish me luck on this second quest to find health and to take care of me:-) Let's hope this time it sticks!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A (Political) Rant

It turns out that Kermit the Frog was wrong. In fact, it is quite easy being green. Don't worry - I haven't been stricken with some horrid flu virus that has turned my skin a sickly hue. I'm actually referring to living green, doing one's part for the good of the environment.

Now that my part time teaching jobs have started again at the beginning of a new school year, my focus is very much about learning and teaching. One of the places that I learn the most is when I'm in Germany. People who read this blog may be sick and tired about reading my posts about said country. I do apologizefor the redundancy, but I have one more entry about the Fatherland that I just have to write. Now I warn you, this post may get a tad political and hence ruffle a few feathers. So, if you're not the type who appreciates a different political perspective other than your own, you may want to skip this one.

I was in Germany for 2 weeks this summer. I've been there many times before but hadn't been back for 4 years. Every time I return to the country, I'm struck by how clean and orderly it is and how beautiful the vast majority of towns and cities there are.

My first steps onto foreign soil there already tell me I'm somewhere far from home. I see a garbage can that doesn't just have one hole, but three. Three holes that ask you to separate your garbage when you discard it. Above the holes are signs that say, "plastic," "paper," and "remaining garbage." These garbage cans are standard fare for Germany; they are all over the country, everywhere you go.

According to a recent article I read about Germany, this garbage can thing shouldn't be a surprise, because Germany has been named The World's Greenest Country. That's right, it is more environmentally friendly than any other country on earth. Being a person who tries to live green as much as I can, I appreciate this. In fact, over the decades that I've been to Germany, I always suspected this to be true but never had any proof to support my theory. I've been struck by a number of ways that Germans live their daily lives which include the following:

1. Germany is a very clean place, both inside and out. You just don't see a lot of inside grime or clutter, and outside, one immediately notices that there isn't much litter...anywhere.

2. Germans don't use as much gas as we do and can get away with it for a number of reasons. Their inner cities (which have a positive connotation in that culture's language due to all of the culturalperks inner cities there have to offer, not the negative one we have in English of poverty and violence) are pedestrian zones. People walk and ride their bikes to go shopping and often to work. Public transportation is excellent. Many cities have streetcars, buses, and a subway. And don't even get me started on how awesome their train transportation is. Germany also has fairly strict laws about the kind of condition your car is in. You can't go around driving some clunker that's spewing smoke and gassing out everyone behind you. This means better and newer cars which get better gas mileage. Plus, because their country is only about 1/2 of the size of Texas, yet is home to 80+ million people, they're not afraid to look like wimps and drive small cars, like the Smart Car, for example, to get into that rarely available and teeny tiny parking spot.

3. And while Germans are shopping, you see them with their canvas bags or woven baskets. If you want a plastic bag for your groceries, you have to pay for it (and paper bags aren't even offered). A few months ago, I bought myself 5 canvas bags from my grocery store to use instead of plastic bags - a recent trend here in the USA. Germans have been doing this for decades.

I'm going on a rant about all of this, because I sometimes find my adopted state of Texas...well...filthy. This is especially true when I come back from a trip to Europe. And it bothers me. The smog, the litter (when I first came to Houston, I used to call it, "Houston...The City With All The Crap On The Side Of The Road" - not the most endearing nickname). My little subdivision here in Texas doesn't even recycle. That's right, we have no recycling pick up service. And I find that very annoying. My solution to this problem is to bring my paper recycling to the recycling bins behind an elementary school that is 3 minutes from my house. I bring plastic and glass to public bins that are on my way to work. I know that most of my neighbors are not recycling, though. I see their cardboard boxes out on garbage pickup days, and I can just see the landfills piling higher and higher.

Sometimes, I think we Americans could learn a thing or two from our European counterparts.

And here's the political part - so don't say I didn't warn you.

I just don't get why our society is freaking out about Obama's supposed efforts to make this country more "European" and the accusations that he's turning us into socialists. First of all, life is pretty darn good in all of the socialist countries in Europe that I'm familiar with, and I've traveled extensively there. And they're all democracies, too. We're not talking communism here. They have the same rights that we do. And when it comes to their system of socialized medicine, there are no death panels (where ARE there death panels, anyway?? I mean, come on!!), and you don't have to wait for 6 months for surgeries either, like many people claim. My aunt who is German and has lived in Germany all of her life, found out she needed stomach surgery in June. She had the surgery 2 weeks later (and it was only 2 weeks later, because we were visiting her for those two weeks!).

For this Euro-wanna-be, I personally think this country could use some European influence. From what I've seen first hand, it would definitely make life here a a little bit more pleasant.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Depression Survival Tips

Older daughter off to Spain? Check.
Younger daughter getting ready for kindergarden? Check.

With my house almost empty, I have got to make sure I have my time completely filled or I am going to go nuts. As a depression survivor, that is one thing I have to do. So, here is my list:

Closets to organize.
Carpets to clean.
Gardens to weed.
Jam and apple pies to make.

See? I have lot's to do.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby

Today is my first baby's birthday. She is turning 19 today. That's how old I was when I became pregnant with her. Looking back at the young woman I was and the young lady she is, my heart just bursts with pride. This girl has got it together and she is on top of the world:-)

At 19, I had:

...dropped out of college to be with my boyfriend.

...gotten myself pregnant with said boyfriend.

...a job at Burger King.

...barely been out of the state.

At 19, she is:

...on her second year of college with the credits of a Junior.

...staying away from boys (at this point).

...working towards a future in which fast food is not her only option for employment.

...getting ready to fly to Spain for a semester.

We all want better for our children than what we were able to have ourselves. In my case, I have not only reached that goal but surpassed it by leaps and bounds. The world is her oyster and she is savoring every moment. I am so proud of her and I know that the path she is on will lead her whereever she wants to go.

Happy Birthday Baby! I love you very much:-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Try

Not much is new this week, but, I do want to clue you in on someting that I am planning to do next week. I have decided that now is a good time to give it another chance since my exercise regimend is in better shape than it has been in years and I am eating more fresh foods including veggies, fruits and proteins as well. In spite of these changes, it seems I still need something else to kick in, because I haven't lost anything in months so I am going to try Weight Watchers online.

I have been to meetings for months at a time over the years, but, would give up after I realized that I was having a hard time with the restrictions and sometimes I cheated myself by not really giving it my best. I haven't been to one for at least four years now. I was considering going in person, but, with the work/commute schedule and working out 3-4 times a week, I am not sure it will fit into my lifestyle. I figured I would give the online program a try since I was able to succeed in getting my Masters online, perhaps this would be a good way for me to hold myself accountable. Has anyone else had success with WW online? I am curious if you have any tips to share.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rules of Engagement

I love it when my friends are on maternity leave because I get to see them more often:-) This visit was just as nice as last week and we covered a wide range of topics. One of these topics was about play dates and how different we are from our mothers. Times sure have changed.

Our mother's rarely had to organize play dates for us when we were kids. She would send us out the door in the morning and tell us not to come back until supper. And all the while she would tell us to "go find something to do" or "go find someone to play with". If we did that nowadays, we would be hauled into Social Services on child neglect charges.

Also, there is a whole subculture and etiquette to playdates. First, you have to find time on both your busy calendars for the event. Then, it's all in how you ask for the date that tell you the rules of engagement. For example, if a mother said to me, "Would your daughter like to come over and play?", then I know that it is a drop and go. I drop off my daughter, leave the premises and return when at a mutually acceptable time to retrieve my child. The means that the inviter is accepting responsibilty and entertainment for your child but they don't necessarily want to strike up a friendship between the adults.

Conversely, if a mother said to me, "Do you guys want to come over and play?", then I it is a whole different playgame. This parent does not want to full responsiblity of watching your child however, may be interested in striking up a friendship among the adults involved.

So, things are a lot more complicated for us than for our mothers however, as long as we know the rules, we should be ok:-)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Face Lift

My parents have lived in the same house for nearly 40 years. It was over a hundred years old when they first moved into it, so you can imagine over the years their home has pretty much always needed some kind of work. My husband spent the past week or so giving the front of my parent’s home a face lift. I thought I would write about it and show a picture of the flowers we both planted, because, it’s not too many husbands who would spend a week living with their in laws without their spouse doing something he wasn’t asked to do.

I love my parents, sister and nephew very much, but, I also recognize that it’s not the easiest time in their lives. My mom just had double knee surgery (just call her robotic mom). My dad is 66 and is usually working more than 10-hour days because he is afraid he might not have a job next year if he doesn’t. My sister is 35, working part time and living with her parents. Combined, they are helping to raise my 2 ½ half year old nephew who has more than enough energy (not to mention verbal capabilities) to outmatch all of them.

Ben must really love me. We had a very nice weekend catching up with Sue and her husband before her mom came home, picking out and planting flowers, catching bubbles with my nephew and visiting my folks.

Hopefully, it will help to give each of them a little place to relax and enjoy.

Sorry for the late post. Even though it was my flex day today, with all of the appointments I had been putting off, it was just a little busy. I figured that Diane hasn’t been posting on Fridays anyway, so I would still write about something. Hopefully, once she manages to catch her breath from being mother to a new born she will give everyone an update;) Have a good weekend anyone!

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Through the Front Door

Well, my mom is home from her latest medical ordeal. I knew that her catherization was going too smoothly and my fears were well founded because she did develop complications. I find myself desensitized to even the most serious of situations: the ICU. Her life threatening events have become par for the course for me. In my systematic numbing, I have learned something very unsettling: not all patients are created equal.

It isn't a prejudice that we are used to. It isn't race or religious affiliation that causes the deviation in handling. No. In my vast experience in the haloed halls of these establishments, the difference is how you get there.

If you are admitted to the hospital through the ER, the goal is treat and street. This is espeically true if your physican does not hold privilleges at the hospital of your choice. If that happens, you are an unarmed solider in your battle to return back to your baseline. Your attempt to try to enter the "back door of the hospital", will result in them throwing a bandaid on a gapping head wound and sending you home before you can even sit up. And, it is not only the fault of the doctors. The insurance company views you the same way. If you don't have the good sense to prevent yourself from ending up in the ER, the mighty insurance company will not grant you the wish of mending you back to health.

On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to find a doctor who will admit you to the hospital, then you get the red carpet treatment. Upon your arrival, your gold plated invitation to the dance is confirmed and your wheelchair chariot will gently carry you off to your party destination. The lyrics to your tune is "just a precaution" this and "just to be safe" that. The insurance company will fall over itself to get you to accomodations that your situation requires. And when you are fully recovered, nurse and doctors salute your departure like cruise ship employees. You can breathe freely knowing that you came in the "front door".

So the moral of the story is, if you are going to have a catastrophic event, make sure that your doctor is there to greet you at the right door!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Woe is me...

Allergies have taken this family for a loop. Last year, in February of 2008, we had our son tested for allergies, only to discover he has a plethora of plant, dust, and food allergies. Dealing with that alone has been a challenge. For the last six months, I've had a terrible flare up of adult acne on my neck, an area I've never had trouble with before, even though I've suffered from acne since my teen years and into my 20s and now 30s. After reading on the internet that acne can result from food allergies, I decided to get myself tested for allergies as well. My test results came back with just as many allergies as my son. I was ASTOUNDED to discover the sheer amount of foods to which I have an allergy. The list has put a major cramp in my style when it comes to cooking, because, as you'll see for yourself, there just aren't too many basic supermarket foods left that are OK for me to eat. So, in response to my need to do some major venting about my situation, I thought I'd share...

The Complete List of Foods That F*** Me Up:
(Please excuse the implied use of a highly tasteless expletive. I know it's terribly ill mannered, and I am duly sorry, but it is merely an expression of my extreme FRUSTRATION!)

I am highly allergic to...
1) peanuts
2) tomatoes (Good thing I am mostly German, because I have to renounce my Italian side - sorry, Mom.)
3) soy beans (Farewell to many of my favorite Asian foods!)
4) chocolate (Kill me now! Just do it. I mean it. NOW.)
5) shrimp
6) crab
7) scallops
8) chicken (hmmm - about 40% of my cooking repertoire is knocked out with that one - how to rebound??)
9) pineapple
10) pecans
11) coconuts (This is the only one that doesn't bother me one bit - BLECH!)
12) squash
13) cabbage (Ummmm, OK, maybe I have to renounce my German side, too.)
14) cucumber
15) broccoli
16) green beans
17) ginger (Farewell to most remaining Asian foods and all home remedies to help my motion sickness in vehicles - sigh)
18) cauliflower
19) almonds

After this list, one might wonder: What's left?? Oh, but wait! Here is the list of foods I am borderline allergic to and can only eat once a week:
1) eggs
2) turkey
3) oranges
4) strawberries
5) peaches
6) blueberries
7) cinnamon (It's a good thing I lack inspiration in the kitchen, cuz' I don't bake much.)
8) coffee (Someone is out to get me, I SWEAR.)
9) carrots
10) peas
11) onion (Stop the madness! Call me a bad-breathed, tootin' weirdo, but I love onions!)
12) garlic (Life. is. over.)

I'm wondering how to keep track of all these. Actually, I think I've pretty much given up and decided it's impossible. I'll try to do what I can with the first list but this is really just too CRAZY! The other day, I spent two hours looking through cookbooks for new recipes to try, and I found a whopping THREE that I could eat! Out of the 30 recipes or so that I used to make on a regular basis (I had a month's worth of recipes that I rotated for my family), I'm down to about five that I can still cook. In the meantime, I'm becoming more and more malnourished by the second...