Friday, August 31, 2012

NaBloPoMo - so-so successful

Not to be confused with SO SO Successful!!! It was more of a luke warm, or so-so, run at it.

The original plan was to write daily for the month-long blog challenge.   I tried to write daily, and for the most part, I did that. Here, I wrote 24 days/posts. At the Lifelong Learning blog, I wrote 3 more original pieces (some I copied over here.) And I did the Unschooling Blog Carnival  this month - that took a little time.  Plus I wrote something for my friend, Linda Dobson at the Parent at the Helm newsletter. She has been publishing some of my blogposts over at her newsletter and I'm going to continue to help her out over there a little. I've been toying with the idea of combining all of it into one Wordpress blog - which seems logical. We'll see. Linda's blog/website is Wordpress, so I'll be learning it.

I'm not going to do the National Blog Posting Month Challenge again UNTIL my book is done. I'm on a roll now, and I'm ready to complete this! I will keep you posted.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grandma's Car

This is my mom and her friends in her 1st car. It was 1948 and she was home from college for the summer.
She was so disappointed to learn her dad wouldn't let her take it back to school with her
- she was just to use it while she was home on Summer Break.
They called this car, The Doorknob Car, because it actually had a door knob instead of a car door handle.
She looks happy, though, doesn't she?
I wrote Whatcha Drivin'? last fall about taking the car from my, now 82 year old, mother.

She's still not happy about it.

It's such a strange predicament to be in. My mother was always a "take charge" person. She worked outside the home while most of my friends' moms stayed home.  I'm only mentioning that because it's part of what makes this so uncomfortable for me. It's such a strange turn of events.

Her forgetfulness continues to increase.
Her balance is shot.
Her ability to process what's being said is...sketchy.

But at every opportunity, my mom asks me when I'm going to let her drive again. She wants to pick up her friend and drive to Mass. She wants to go to the grocery store, or Walgreens, or out to grab a hamburger.  Truthfully, it would be SO much easier if I just let her. And the odds are, she'd be ok. For a little while. We've all seen some terrible older drivers.  Yet, there they are, motoring along side us on the roads. Until they plow through the pedestrians at the local farmer's market. ::sigh::

In all of my blogging this past Spring, I forgot to mention that at one point, Mom took matters into her own hands. I was having a particularly frustrating day. Her conversations seemed to be on a loop, and I was telling her for the umpteenth time that she wasn't going to drive. I told her that I would come get her and take her. But I'm sure she could hear the exasperation in my voice. It wasn't that it irritated me to take her anywhere. It was more that she required the same conversation to happen 3-4 times in the same hour.

A couple of days went by and I didn't hear anything from her. This wasn't typical. So I called her:
"I should tell you something," she said very matter-of-factly. "And you're not going to like it."
"Martha took me to Carmax and I bought another car. Because you must just want my car."
"Yes. You were not nice to me and I just got mad and decided to do it myself."
"What do you mean I wasn't nice? I've spent at least 4 hours with you every day for the past week!"
"Your tone."
"I cannot believe you did this."
"I did. It's an older Toyota Camry. I like it. It's silver. It has a lot of miles but it was only $5000."

I was shocked, really. Granted, she was being encouraged by her friend, Martha. The two of them talk a lot about how "These kids think they know everything." Even when we are trying to listen and help all the time.

So I took the Honda back over to her and told her to keep them both. I was frustrated.  So both cars sat in her parking lot.  Most of the time, she didn't drive - just to Mass, and to Walgreens and HEB. A few days went by. and we talked more calmly about it. She agreed that much of it had to do with pride. People in her apartment complex frequently asked her where her car was.  It must be so hard to watch your children take away your independence, piece by piece.

Of course, true to form, she added, "You know it's really all your own fault. I was mad that you spoke harshly to me and I wanted to show you that I could too go out and get whatever I wanted."

Glad we got that settled: My fault.

Within a couple of weeks, she got sick while Ron was out of town. I needed her car to get groceries for her. From that point on, I just didn't give it back. She had a couple more small falls in the apartment and then started to see her own foggy moments. I've pointed out to her that the brain's ability to process is NECESSARY when you drive, and I think she's seeing that. Of course, then she forgets and we start over.

She's asking less frequently, probably because I'm very conscious about how I word things. I refer to it as HER car.  I don't try to get her to AGREE to the decision about driving - something I was always wanting.  I had to just let that go.  I gently say, "OK, well, I'll come get you and we'll go do that."

Of course, some parts of a personality stay strong. Like today, when I was going to be out all day, I asked her if she needed anything before I left the house. Her response?

"Nothing really... except my car."


"Of course. See you tomorrow, Mom!"

Related blogposts:
What? July is Over?
Blogposts about Grandma

Friday, August 24, 2012

She Said YES to the Dress!

The Mori Lee dress she THOUGHT she wanted
Have you seen all the bridal shows lately?  Four WeddingsBridezillas??  It's overload, in my opinion. And it really pushes brides today into ideas (and budgets) that are out of their leagues. I watched a Say Yes to the Dress episode where the girl said her budget for the dress was $3000 (!) and the clerk shook her head saying she'd have a hard time finding many choices in that low range.  That's insane! Then we'd turn to a show about receptions and see that the family spent $40,000. Did you know that the average American wedding costs $25,000??  Shocking! How do real people do this? These shows make extravagance seem commonplace and to be expected.   When I got married in 1987, I bought my dress on sale for $99 at JC Penney!  While I knew we wouldn't be recreating those days, there was just no way we'd be anything like the families in these shows.

Lest you think I'm only concerned about budgets and costs, today was only about dresses. Yes, we gave the clerk our price range - and no, she didn't flinch or make tsk-ing noises. She even told me later that she was deliberately pointing Alyssa into directions of lovely dresses that stayed within my range.  She thought it was really cruel when dress consultants show dresses that the bride cannot afford. I'm glad we were on the same page for that!

Today was Wedding Dress Quest - Day 2.

A week ago, we went to Alexia Gavela. It's a cute little house crammed full of wedding dresses. We had called for an appointment a week before, but somehow when we got there, they couldn't find it. No matter, they let us come on in and start looking around.Alyssa had some pictures on her phone of dresses she liked, and the clerk helped us find some similar to them.  

Grandma, Katie and I all sat in the back, while Alyssa came out, modeling the dresses.  They all looked beautiful on her, but nothing really clicked. Afterward, she asked me if I felt like something was just "off" today. I told her that, for some reason, it felt like we were just playing dress-up - not seriously looking for a WEDDING DRESS.  Between modeling and community theatre, dance classes and Girl Scout outings - we've spent a lot of time in dressing rooms. Maybe it was because the house was small and the dressing room area seemed more like a living room... we just weren't feeling it.

We let another week pass and thought about where we might like to shop next. We had been to Alfred Angelo for a bridesmaid dress, and both times we were there, the staff was frantic and stressed. We decided we'd probably skip getting a dress from them... or at least we'd try some other places first. So we decided to try Belle Saison. They didn't require appointments and so the four of us decided to go see what they had.

We were pleasantly surprised at the space! Rows of dresses, all organized by designer. The front desk girl was friendly and competent, offering to get us a bridal consultant and explaining how we should just get started browsing and selecting. They had little bells attached to ribbons, and we were to place them on the hanger of the dresses Alyssa wanted to try on.

Tracie, our consultant, came out to meet us all. She asked what kinds of dresses we were interested in seeing.  Alyssa showed her some pictures and even had a particular Mori Lee dress that she heard wouldn't be available until the end of September.  Tracie told us that designers frequently release pictures of the dresses in the magazines 4-6 months before they even make it to the stores.  So our option was to look for some similar ones, which we did. And Tracie went to look for our little bells we had already hung on dresses - she said it was like hunting for Easter Eggs!

Anyway, here's how our progression of Wedding Dress Choices has gone so far. Alyssa has been madly pinning them on her Pinterest board so we came in with some ideas.

Initially, Alyssa loved this Vera Wang dress that Kate Hudson wore in Bride Wars. We thought she'd like the fitted bodice and then the flaring out at the hips. Unfortunately, when she tried something like it on, the dress was overwhelming.  It was really difficult to move around in and Alyssa said she was drowning in it.

Then she moved to Mermaid Dresses and dresses with Keyhole backs.

But after trying on dresses at Alexia Gevali, we discovered we like the look of satin. Certainly, she liked the feel of it! From Mermaid, we moved to "Fit and Flare" and when we got to Belle Saison, we were back to more lace again.

While Alyssa introduced herself to the consultants at both stores, saying she liked Bling, she tended to actually move away from it when she tried bedazzled dresses on. Evidently, a wedding dress with a lot of bling tends to make people look at the dress, and not the bride.  So we started to look at dresses without bling, but adding some bling on a belt. Or a little bling in the back or on the veil.

 After a couple of hours of trying various styles, Alyssa narrowed it down to two.  We grabbed different veil styles and Katie arranged and rearranged the trains. Everyone gave their opinions.  We didn't really think she'd make the decision that day, but she did! We agreed, it was an absolutely gorgeous choice!

We even did a little re-enactment from one of the shows:

"Is this Your Dress?"
"Yes. This is My Dress."

Woo hoo!!!

Several people have asked if I got teary when .Alyssa come out in her wedding gown. It was a "Wow" moment with her stepping up on the pedestal, lights shining just enough to make everything spectacular, mirrors all around. And even though I seem to be on an emotional roller coaster these days, I didn't really. I did, however, go back to the dressing room after she hung up the dress. It was just Alyssa and me and her wedding dress. I told her that she looked so happy in that dress and it was just beautiful on her. She looked at me with this look of...I don't even know what... gratitude, happiness, love... and then, I did tear up a bit.

I'd love to share the photo, but we're trying to keep it a bit of a surprise. Alyssa ended up choosing a combination of styles: A champagne satin with ivory lace overlay, very antique-looking. And just enough sparkle that will show up in the lights and not jump out at you with "Whoa! that's bejeweled!"

So, there's your introduction to bridal dress styles - probably more information than you wanted to have. But, hey, that's what our lives look like these days!   I'll leave this blank spot here for after the wedding - then I can show you what the dress looks like ;)

[ Alyssa's Wedding Dress Choice ]
[                   to go here                  ]
[                after 4/26/13                ]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Betwixt and Between?

Willy Nilly.
Waffling. (oh, I should NOT use that one!)
Hot and Cold.

All these words can describe my relationship with what food path to take.  I seem to blow in all different directions when it comes down to a dietary plan.  I get to a point and I jump ship.  You've seen it. I started with trying Vegan (Forks Over Knives) in March 2011.  That lasted a few months. Then I came back to it this year. This time, limiting pasta and avocados. Gail sent me the titles of some books by Gary Taub. I read them, and it lingered in the back of my head. I lost a little weight but it started to plateau. About that time, Linda told me she had read Taub's book and was doing great with the High Protein, No Carb diet...just adding in a few strawberries for breakfast.  So I decided to do that. I was a little nervous about all that meat, knowing I have high Blood pressure and high Cholesterol. But focusing on insulin production made medical sense to me - I was diagnosed pre-Diabetic as well.

Then I read Dr Fuhrman's analysis of ketogenic diets like this.
Actually, he looked at lots of them: Dr. Fuhrman Compares Eat to Live with Other Diets.

While I certainly never felt hungry AT ALL with the high Protein diet, I never really felt like it was a good idea to eat sausage several times each day. What if I really was endangering my health? After all, I'm over 50, severely overweight, and already with multiple diagnoses. Sounds a little like playing near a highway, to me.

Shifting Gears Again
Are you surprised?
I've decided to join Pam in a 6 week trial - no exceptions, follow the very best we can.
So here's what I'm going to do: Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman's 6 Week Plan
UNLIMITED: eat as much as you want
  • all raw vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • cooked green vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • non green nutrient-rich cooked vegetables (such as eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower)
  • beans, legumes, bean sprouts, and tofu (goal: 1 cup daily)
  • fresh fruit (at least 4 daily)
  • cooked starchy vegetables or whole grains
  • butternut or acorn squash, corn, potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, breads, cereals (not more than one serving (1 cup) per day)
  • raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. max. per day)
  • avocado (2 oz. max. per day)
  • dried fruit (2 tablespoons per day)
  • ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon per day)
  • dairy products
  • animal products
  • whole grains
  • between meal snacks
  • fruit juice
  • starch vegetables and whole grains

More to Read and Watch
Healthy Permanent Weight Loss Strategies That Work
How to Eat Healthy When You're On the Go
Who to Trust?
I'm not sure about this, but it's interesting: Powdered Gooseberries - Anti-Oxident Breakfasts

This is long, but REALLY worth watching!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long Line of Lake Lovers

  Dontcha just love a little alliteration? haha!
1971 - How cool was I? I had a swimsuit with SLEEVES!

But it's the truth. My family comes from the midwest, so we weren't often running to the beach each summer. We were, however, running off to The Lake. As a kid, we'd go to the Lake of the Ozarks with other families in the neighborhood. It was the most wonderful vacation! One of the families had access to a giant lake house. The kids would sleep upstairs on the balcony and in the bedrooms while the adults...well I don't really know where they stayed. We would just go to bed listening to them laughing and playing cards downstairs. Our days were filled with Shasta sodas, open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches, and fishing for perch off the covered dock with various dads as they took turns showing us how to bait a hook and remove a fish without snagging ourselves. Delightful memories!

Later, when I was a teen and well into my twenties, my dad owned his own pontoon boat on Lake Ray Hubbard outside of Dallas. We'd gather friends, pack a ton of food and drinks and moor the boat off a sandy edge of the lake. We'd swim, play on floats, relax and enjoy the sun. It was definitely The Party Boat.

And, when I was going through my mom's pictures during her recent move, I found this one. It must be around 1922. My dad is the small child on the man's shoulders. They were swimming in the lake outside Fort Scott, Kansas.

Sailing in California
So, not being one to break with tradition, my kids have had plenty of lake experiences. In Alaska, we spent a lot of time at playing at Mirror Lake or Goose Lake on Elmendorf AFB.  We put a sailboat in at Folsom Lake outside Sacramento and resumed our love of boating.  We'd head back to Texas to sail with Ron's brother Scott and their family on Lake Tawokoni, east of Dallas. And when we moved back to Texas, we'd have a boat at Lake Arrowhead and then later at Lake Travis.  Our family camping trips would always be near lakes or rivers. Ron was the sailor and I was the swimmer - so we must have been hardwired for spending time on the water.

Now that the kids are grown, we're still on the water. And this past weekend, we enjoyed another weekend on the lake. This time, it's Lake Texoma - a huge lake that is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas.  Ron went ahead of us and got the boat ready.  It's big enough for us to sleep aboard, and this was the first time we've all joined him on this kind of sailing adventure! Ron's "New" Boat.

Katie was able to make trades for her work, Alyssa is off on these days. All we had to do was wait for Josh to finish his firefighter shift. Dodging rainstorms all day and evening, Alyssa and I packed the car. Katie had to work the closing shift, so she didn't get home until 2 a.m.  Luckily, Josh was at the fire station near our house, so we were able to be on the road by 7 a.m.! They were all pretty sleepy, so I drove the whole way.

When you have to drive for 4 hours, you have a lot of time to ponder. I missed having Michael with us - he would have stayed awake and chatted the whole time with me.  Katie falls asleep the minute the car pulls out of the driveway. That's only a slight exaggeration - she's just always been this way!  Poor Josh had had calls all night long, so even though he was tired, he just couldn't sleep in the car. Luckily for smart phones, he was able to pass the time looking up all the different fish he'd be able to catch on Lake Texoma, what bait he might need, what the weather would be like, etc.

By Dallas, everyone was awake again.  I felt like a tour guide as I explained what some of the downtown buildings were, and the different parts of Dallas. Growing up there, I had lots of stories of learning to drive there, knowing people from different parts of town, and silly stuff my dad used to tell me as we'd drive around. The kids all humored me!

We made it to the Bait and Tackle shop, kind of a grocery store at the edge of the lake, and bought fishing licenses. Josh has really turned Alyssa into a fisherman! She loves it. Of all the kids, she was the least fond of lakes. She LOVES swimming, but when lake water is murky, she's just SURE some Alligator Gar is swimming near her and about to take off her toes.  Ron was never a fisherman - he's the only person I've ever known that could go on a fishing trip in Alaska when the salmon were running and catch NOTHING. The fish practically jump into your arms then - but not his. So watching her get excited about rods and reels has been fun. Listening to Josh and Alyssa quiz each other about  how to tell a white bass from a largemouth bass and a carp from a catfish is pretty interesting too.

It wasn't long before we had the car all unloaded and Ron was taking us out onto the lake. The kids took turns lounging on the the bow of the boat. The wind wasn't that great so we sailed out toward the dam and took down the sails.  The kids fished a little, but didn't have any luck.  So they pulled out the rafts we had brought, ate our sandwiches, and just hung out on the water. Ron had installed a great new ladder on the side of the boat. But I had major coordination issues and just couldn't seem to master it!  Once again, mom ends up the butt of the jokes for that afternoon - but, hey, I'm used to it!

We started to head back toward the marina, everyone feeling a little sunburned. Just as we took the sails down and decided to motor in for a ways, the wind picked up. So we hoisted the sails again and suddenly took off!

The boat went faster than I had ever gone, and of course, Alyssa got a little panicky. Not being the sailor, I don't know the terminology. Although, it would be a good idea to look it up, because when you have your husband decide to teach you how to sail in a stressful situation, it's not pretty. I know my kids are used to a little shouting when Ron and I trying to accomplish something, but poor Josh. We might have startled him a little when Ron jumped up to do something with the sails and handed me the tiller, shouting,
"Just keep us on course!"
What the heck did that mean? What course?
"Put her into the wind!"
No, it wasn't that I didn't hear him! And no extra volume would help me figure out the lingo.
"Do you mean pull the stick toward me?"
Well, I won't bother you with the deterioration of that rather loud sailing instruction. Suffice it to say that we've been married for 25 years and our language can get a little "salty" under stress. Have you ever noticed that voices can really carry on a lake? I'm sure people in Oklahoma AND Texas could hear us! Yeah.

So, the boat was heeling (tilting, to the rest of us) - a lot. Katie loved being able to reach into the water on the low-side. Alyssa was sure we were going to capsize and at one point sat on the floor of the cockpit clutching a floating cushion, just praying it would all end quickly. I wasn't really sure what Josh was thinking, but he was trying to learn those sailing terms as quickly as possible! Eventually, Alyssa got used to the speed, and while I wouldn't say she enjoyed going fast, she was able to get off the floor and sit in the seat with Josh.  Ron returned to the helm and continued to instruct us all on what the boat was doing, how it was adjusting to the wind, what we could do.  Josh told me later that he felt like he    
learned more on that little 30 minutes of sailing  than he ever thought he'd learn.  He was even able to take the boat in toward the marina himself!
Tiki Bar with stove and lights

When we came back toward the dock, fish were jumping everywhere! Our fishermen were excited. Luckily, the marina restaurant was closed so we cooked our hot dogs and sausages at the little Tiki Bar on our dock.  This way, they could start baiting their hooks and get fishing! The idea of fishing off the sailboat didn't really work out that well. Even when we were going slow, the bait would drag along the top of the water. It just didn't work right. So they were happy to get the chance to fish again.

Sadly, they didn't really have the right bait for the fish around there. Alyssa caught one little sunfish, and that was it. They were up until midnight running up and down the dock with flashlights and putting their poles into the water at different spots. Huge fish - that they later determined to be carp - were banging into the styrofoam that holds the dock up. They even spotted big Alligator Gar- fearless fish that came over to see what the net was all about.

 Everyone slept well on the boat (sorry for the blurry pic) and the next morning, Ron got up early to cook breakfast and Josh was ready to start fishing again. The temperatures were changing so there was just a little steam on the lake. Josh and Alyssa ended up paddling around the marina in the dinghy, Achilles.  Which reminds me... our 40+ year old boat has had several names and Ron pulled the last one off. He just couldn't see himself sailing Venus. So we're all making suggestions and voting on a new name. In the running are: The SusieQ, O Susanna, AlyKat, AlyssaKate. I think it will end up O Susanna! I'll keep you posted.
When I look back at family vacations we've had over the years, they seldom happened in the summer.  But we'd almost always fit a Lake trip in there somewhere - the weather usually being perfect for sailing, swimming, and fishing. Even though the kids are all grown, I'm happy to say the tradition continues!

                                              My little slideshow of the Lake Texoma Trip

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I guess that's really false advertising. There weren't Pomegranate[s], plural. There was one. 

And I watered it and watched it for months. 

I purchased the miniature pomegranate tree from the Natural Gardener in south Austin last spring. It had little flowers about to bloom. I watched the blooms open up with such hope! The fragrance was divine.
But, alas, only one lone fruit remained on the tree. 
So I protected it. 
I put a little fence around it to keep the dogs from digging it up. 
And I waited.  

We first found out about the joys of pomegranates in Davis, California. Our friends had a pomegranate tree outside their front door. They taught us how to open the fruit in a bowl of water - keeping the juicy little seeds from spraying out around the room. We had such fun with that fruit and always loved eating them over there.

If you know what pomegranates look like from the store, you know they're not always pretty on the outside.  So I was unsure of when to pick ours from the tree. Part of it began to turn brown and I worried that either the heat or some other catastrophe had befallen my little fruit. 

Then one day, I went outside to water and discovered it had fallen off the tree! There my little fruit sat, on the ground, in it's little fenced raised bed... waiting for me. Hooray! I was excited! But what if it was rotten? It would be such a disappointment! 

I called to Katie and told her our little Pomegranate was finally ready. She didn't even know we had a Pomegranate tree. I am just in my own little world so often, it seems. Anyway, she was thrilled okay with with trying it out with me.

We gathered our bowls of water, and split the pomegranate. 

Success! No rotten fruit! And delicious - just the way we remembered it from California!

Katie and I chatted a little more about pomegranates and she finished hers off with glee finished half the bowl and wandered away. So, not to let all those antioxidants and vitamins go to waste, I took some pictures and finished hers off too. Yes, with glee. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For the Love of Storms!

Today started out overcast, with the sun peeking in and out.  It was hot and muggy. A typical Austin August day.  We got all inspired about picture taking, after Ari came over and did Katie's official HeadShots for Los Angeles. So here are a couple of pictures we took on our own. Aren't they beautiful?

Katie didn't have to go into work until 5 p.m. so we got to hang out together. And one thing she and I have in common - we love stormy weather! Rainy weather is few and far between around here, so when storms move in, we get excited!  Something about watching the dark clouds rolling around almost makes us giddy! We made a mad dash for lunch at Dairy Queen and took pictures of the clouds as they swept across the neighborhood. We love the blues and the grays and the almost purplish colors in the sky. Low clouds moving quickly, higher and brighter clouds above that. And the smell! Knowing that the rain is close - all because of the smell. Don't you just love that??

 And then the rain came! Yay!! And even though poor Hank was upstairs cowering from the thunder, Katie and I moved to the covered patio in the backyard and chatted while we listened to the rain.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Busy Lives

Update Time....

Michael ~ We don't hear from Michael every week and this is one of those weeks where we didn't.  If you had asked me if 5 or 10 years ago if this could ever happen (the not talking to him part), I would have never been able to imagine it. I might have even burst into tears at the sheer THOUGHT of not speaking to him daily. I only say this because I still run into people who feel this way about their children. And somehow, Life just takes care of it. They grow and go off on adventures, and luckily, it doesn't usually happen all at once. And you just kind of ease into it. I feel a little sad, writing that now, but he's happily cavorting around on adventures, and that IS what he wants. So that's what i want for him. I'm still planning to spend a couple of weeks in Nicaragua in November/December, when he has a work break. And he'll be back here for Alyssa's wedding in April. There are moments when I miss him terribly - but it's not constant, like I always thought it would be. I guess this is just what having adult children is like. :::wistful sigh::::

Katie ~ Katie is firming up her apartment options for Los Angeles. She and two of her friends are doing the paperwork to get a really nice 3 bedroom gated community apartment. Plenty of room for Mom to come visit!! She's working a lot, trying to save as much as she can for the California Life!  She and I will probably drive out there around the 15th of September.  It will be here before I know it!
Tomorrow, our friend Ari is coming over to do new Head Shots for auditions out there. Ari does great work, so I'm sure her photos will look wonderful. Katie's also making it to lots of free Midnight Movies because of her job at Cinemark. Fun!!

Alyssa ~ Alyssa is in Wedding Mode - big time. This week, she tried on dresses, signed with a caterer, made all the food selections, did a second meeting with the florist for minor changes - and I'm sure there was something else, but it tires me just to write all that!  Wedding planning with the internet at your fingertips is an entire different ballgame than when I got married in 1987!  Pinterest pictures, blog suggestions, online registries - wow! It's pretty cool, really.  Alyssa's other big news is that Milk n' Honey offered her a position in their new Apprentice Program. She started this week. Lots of studying and hands on work. It's going to be hard, but it will be so great to learn even more.

Ron ~ Ron has had some motorcycle problems this week. He broke down on the side of the road. Bummer - especially when it's 100 degrees by 11 am! But all that is forgotten because he's heading up to Lake Texoma in the morning for 3 days! This is an exciting trip because Katie, Alyssa, Josh, and I are all going to go up there on Sunday. The kids are so excited to go fishing there. We're all going to sleep on the boat!! I'll let you know how that goes. :)

Tonight's dinner:
Lemon Pepper Tilapia
with a hearty veggie soup/stew
Sue ~ I'm not really sure where my week went. I spent a lot of time taking my mom to dental appointments. She had a crown fall off, so she has quite an extensive "treatment plan" for it. She'd love to be driving herself to these appointments, but there's just no way she can manage it. She doesn't agree. It's a hard spot to be in - for both of us. I'm still working out and trying to figure out what to eat. It's hard to know what to do - high protein, low carb? plant-based, non-dairy? high veggie, nothing processed? What does "balanced diet" mean anyway? It certainly changes depending on who you're talking to! But the exercise seems to actually be changing the shape of my body, and I'm down a couple of sizes. That' a good thing! Ron got the ladder attached on the boat, so I'm looking forward to lots of swimming at the lake this weekend.
Oh! And I have been busy this week blogging daily for the NaBloPoMo challenge. Some of the days, I even wrote more than one blogpost! I'm sure my friends are getting tired of seeing my Facebook Updates! haha!

Forgot to mention, Grandma is going to stay at our house this weekend with all the dogs! I think it will be okay. I guess we'll see!

Related Blogposts:
Videos, Boxes, and Even a Wedding
Ron's "New" Boat
July Update: What? July is OVER?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Food Guides and Pyramids

I wish we could get our facts straight. Facts that aren't influenced by people selling books, marketing machines, or even entire industries based on selling something to us.  I've been reading so many conflicting articles and books designed to help me. But they cannot all be right. What's a mere mortal to do?

So after years of the referring to the "regular" Food Pyramid - I am sure that's not right. Heck, even while my kids were competing on a Nutrition Quiz Bowl team, the pieces of that pyramid were shifting.
We're all familiar with what we started with...

It's interesting that even back with this pyramid as The Rule, we were to eat more fruits and vegetables than meat. Yet, we always referred to the Main Course as the Meat dish. And, we'd have bread as a side item - not as the main piece of the meal, as this pyramid would imply. Still, one has to wonder why we were being encouraged to eat so much bread and grains. 

Then in 2005, MyPyramid was adopted. I think the little stickman was supposed to encourage us to get exercising. In this shift, the dairy component seemed to grow a lot. Breads and grains stayed strong though.
A lot of people began to wonder how much the agricultural industry's lobbyists were influencing these pyramids. And frankly, at this point, I stopped being interested in it. They (the FDA, the Powers That Be) simply lost their hold. The unfortunate part for me is that it was kind of nice to be able TRUST someone out there. But, just like most things, you have to explore it for yourself.

The latest quasi-pyramid that I've seen lately is this:
If you can't read this, you can download it for free as a pdf at

It gives quite a bit of (albeit simplified) information. Still, I much prefer to see diet being talked about on a continuum of health, instead of servings and portions. Maybe if we understand the why a little better, we'll be able to make more healthy choices!

And... lest you think that only serious official people use the concept of pyramids to show how people should or are eating, check out these two:

Denny's suggestions

Zombies-Go-Rawr were taking a stab at Deviant Art

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chakras, Energy, and Emails

I've learning about the Seven Chakras, and this month, I've been learning about the Heart Chakra. Perhaps you've heard the phrase, "Sometimes the Mind knows, and sometimes the Heart knows." I think this is true. But the Heart isn't pushy like the mind. You have to really work to quiet the Mind's chatter and the criticism that is always trying to be heard.  For me, it seems that the Heart won't fight all that. There has to be a conscious choice to listen to what the Heart has to say.

This week, I had a great meeting with a few friends. It's our monthly "Pod" meeting in North Austin. It was great to share how we feel about working with the Heart Chakra, what we've had to work on and where we're seeing shifts.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor on
Super Soul Sunday

This week on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, Oprah talked with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had seen her TED talk years ago about having a stroke and being conscious for much of the experience. She spoke about how she felt when the left hemisphere of the brain basically went offline for her. She did a great job explaining the functions of both sides of the human brain. It's a VERY interesting TED Talk.  But what brought her to Super Soul Sunday was even better!  She  talked about being aware of the energy you bring into the world how people need to be accountable for the energy they're giving others. She talked about how the world is full of only 2 kinds of people - those who bring energy and those who take it. Most importantly, she talked about how having the stroke gave her a clearer perspective about the chatter of the mind. She spoke of how it is a simple choice to not listen to it, and go in another direction. For instance, if you're angry, stop reminding yourself of the story of how angry you are. She actually said that if you feel angry, wait 90 seconds. If you don't keep reigniting the circuitry for the anger, it will pass.  I think I'm going to watch that all again. It was fascinating!

I receive regular Emails that are inspiring and uplifting.
  •  Notes from the Universe come from Totally Unique Thoughts -   They describe it as "a free daily reminder of Life's magic and Your Power." It's the first thing I open every morning!
  • Heart Advice - weekly quotes from Pema Chodron also come to my inbox each week. Great insight!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Snapshots and Memories - 1920's

My dad, his sister, and my grandpa
Going through all of my mom's old pictures, the girls and I are struck by how faded they are becoming. My mom mainly just kept them in boxes, rubbing against each other. Sometimes they were Scotch-taped or even glued to construction paper. I think she had dismantled a scrapbook at some point. We've decided that while we are going to put them in a scrapbook - or two or three - we're also going to scan them so they'll keep longer.  So, I'll try to share them here, every now and then.

The oldest we've found so far is one that I think is of my mom's mom with her brothers and nephew. On the back are the words Mission Beach 1915.  This is the only one like this I have, but I might look through my Aunt Marilyn's things in Dallas. She might have more pictures of my grandma.
Mary Ogan - my mom's mom - she's 15

The next in line are from the 1920's. These are pictures of my dad as a baby and then as a toddler. He was born in 1920 to Cecil and Jessie Howe Wolfe. He had one sister, Barbara Jean - Aunt Bobbie to me. They lived in Pittsburg and Fort Scott, Kansas.

Looking at these pictures, I just try to think about what was going on at the time, what life was like. I know my grandma, Nonnie, used to like to move a lot.
When we visited Fort Scott, we were always driving down some street and my dad would say,
"We lived in that house."
We'd ask, "How many houses did you live in? One on every street?"
"Nearly. Nonnie wanted adventure but didn't want to go far from everyone. So we just house-hopped a lot!"

These 3 are my dad as an infant. 

He was born September 22, 1920, Billy Howe Wolfe. The "Howe" part is from his mother's maiden name. I didn't pursue it, but she had all kinds of paperwork from the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I should trace that - after I get all these photos scanned!!! 

Haircut styles of the past always intrigue me!
And they always come back -
bowl haircuts, Bettie Page bangs, finger waves
The kids think my dad looks like a girl in this photo to the right. They didn't realize how everyone put all babies in dresses and poofy outfits - boy or girl!

Billy probably isn't 2 yet - ~1921
Jessie with Billy 1921

Billy and Little Sister Barbara Jean
Billy ~1921-1924?

This picture makes me laugh! The 2 of them on the running board of that old car.
My dad shouting at whoever is holding the camera. And Aunt Bobbie, just smiling and being good.

Only know that's Grandpa Cecil holding
my dad, who was probably 3
Back on the porch with my Grandpa Cecil