Friday, March 28, 2008

The journey of a thousand miles...

begins with a single step. - Lao Tzu

For the last couple of years, I've hosted a Blog Challenge on ScrapShare. This year, however, we changed it up and started rotating hosts each week. This was my week. The challenge? A photo scavenger hunt! I wanted people to take photos to illustrate the following 5 things:
  1. a sign of spring
  2. an image of joy
  3. a bad habit
  4. a good word
  5. a reflection of you

I've loved seeing different interpretations of the 5 prompts!

Yesterday, I was sitting here (as usual) when Elaine IMed me.
"My last student cancelled. I have an hour of free time. Should I quilt, or walk?"
"Let's walk together!" I suggested.
"I'll be right over," she joked. See, Elaine lives in Alabama.

Ten minutes later, we were walking together, however - she on her cell phone in Huntsville, me on mine in Fort Worth. I headed west and decided walk to the edge of my neighborhood and then follow a city maintenance road that goes down the bluff to the Trinity River. The road is closed to the general public, so I've never been down there, and I've always wondered what I'm missing.

First, you should realize that the mere suggestion of walking for no good reason was a victory for me. Second, I want you to understand that I made a conscious decision to walk toward the river. Big whoop, you say? Well, I knew full well that the trip TO the river was downhill all the way. (Our neighborhood sits on the bluffs above it.) I also knew that the entire trip BACK home would be uphill all the way. And still, I set out toward the river. (Can I get a whoop?)

I fully understand that this is not a big deal to 90% of the world. I even know people who purposefully park at the furthest spot in the parking lot so they can get some exercise in on their way into the store. I, however, have never been one of those people.

Elaine and I walked and talked for almost an hour. I spent some time just hanging out at the river before heading back up - soaking up the sun, feeling the spring breeze, watching the Forest Park kiddie train, listening to the birds. By the time I got back home, I'd walked 1.68 miles, the last of it uphill. My heart was pounding, my leg muscles were sizzling, my lungs were heaving. But I felt WONDERFUL. Sweat was dripping from my chin. Again, not a big deal for YOU, but a huge deal to me. I have never walked for the sake of walking. When I walk, it's because I have to in order to get from point A to point B.

Elaine and I both took our cameras, and then later in the day, I took the boys exploring along a creek that feeds into the Trinity.

a sign of spring:

Our azalea bushes bloomed this week. The ones on the left are still in the budding stage, 'cause they don't get as much direct sun as the ones on the right. Our crepe myrtles are beginning to bud out, and soon, we'll have flowers on the trees. The grass is still brown, but in a few weeks, it'll be lush and green.

an image of joy:

I've ruined my boys; I've taken so many photos of them in their young lives that they've grown to hate the camera. They groan and whine and generally refuse to participate when I want do to a photo shoot. (Doesn't stop me from snapping away while they're oblivious, though, but that's not the point, now, is it?) Yesterday, all the planets aligned and they actually agreed to this pose! It could've been that they felt brave and adventurous perched on the precipice of death, what with that trickling creek roaring past WAY DOWN THERE 8 feet below. ;) Usually, Mom is harping: "Watch your step. Be careful. Pay attention to where you're going. Don't FALL!!!" This time, Mom was saying, "Scoot closer to the edge. No, it's okay. A little closer. You won't fall. Do you think I'd tell you to do something that would make you die? Come on. CLOSER!" Pure astonishment. Followed by joy.

a bad habit:

I've gotten better, really I have. Used to be, I'd have to stop at Sonic DAILY for my habitual dose of Diet Coke with vanilla. These days, I can go a full week without stopping. But yesterday morning, something just wasn't right. I couldn't concentrate on anything, 'cause all I could think about was 44 ounces of delectable goodness. At 10:00, I finally succumbed. I drove to Sonic, ordered my drink, and chased impending doom away with a single slurp. Ah. Bad habits are so good.

a good word:

The boys have rarely had an actual babysitter. Usually, Darren and I plan our dates around other peoples' schedules, meaning either Dani babysits, or we go out when the boys are hanging out with Grammy. One night last October, though, we found ourselves in need of hired help, so we called on my trusted, capable, fun friend Nikki. The boys think Nikki is REALLY COOL, 'cause she is. They were thrilled to have her over, and I was thrilled to return home that night to discover this on my chalkboard. This little note takes up a full 1/3 of "Grand Central", the chalkboard where we all track the week's events. Dani's work schedule, doctor's appts, the boys' Webkinz passwords, etc... everything we need to know is written on that board. But I gave strict instructions to my family: DO NOT ERASE THIS MESSAGE. EVER. IF YOU DO, I WILL THROW YOU IN THE DUNGEON. Almost 6 months later, it's still here. And it still makes me happy to see it, every. single. day.

a reflection of me:

Elaine and I snapped self-portraits on our walk. I had my 50mm lens on, so it was impossible to get a good shot. This is as far as my stumpy arm would stretch. :)

See the sparkle in my eye? You might think it's a relection of the sun. Maybe. I like to think of it as hope. I'm reclaiming my life. One step at a time. Doctor appointment in 50 minutes. Gotta run. (I'll probably park far out in the lot, just 'cause. Don't faint.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

the wai-ai-ting is the hardest part....

Sometimes you don't realize how badly you want something until you have to wait for it.
In fact, that's usually my criteria for knowing if I really want something. I'm an impulse shopper. If I see it and want it, I almost can't stand not having it. But nine times out of ten, I don't indulge myself, and I find that within hours, and sometimes before I even reach the parking lot, that "gotta have it" feeling has passed. If after days and weeks of waiting, I STILL think I gotta have it, that's a pretty good indication that I really do want it. Make sense?

So, when I first mentioned The Biggest Loser audition, I thought it would be really cool, a great opportunity, and even somewhat fun. I gave it my all - put everything I could into the video audition, filled out my application honestly and candidly, and overnighted the whole thing to Hollywood. Then the waiting began.

It's been 3 weeks. Every day, the waiting gets harder. When will I hear? WILL I hear? I know our audition tape is fantastic, but is it good enough in the first 10 seconds to make them want to see the whole thing? I've found myself putting the immediate future on hold, in case I get cast. I don't want to make plans, you know, in case I'm "at the Ranch".

Recently, I've come to a realization:
It's not the SHOW I want so badly - it's the life change.
I've decided that with or without The Biggest Loser, I'm ready to do this.
And instead of waiting to see if the show will be the catalyst that changes my life, I've realized that *I* must do it, regardless of the show.

There's something to be said about deciding it's acceptable to go on national TV, with millions of viewers, and show your ugliest side(s). That I am willing to do so astounds me! In real life, I only wear big baggy t-shirts, and I'm constantly tugging them down. I don't show my legs, ever. But there's been a stirring deep within me....

I'm waiting on news from the show. If they want to see me, I'll be there in a HEARTBEAT. But if they don't, I'm not waiting around. This is my time. I've got plans, and I'm seein' 'em through. I don't know exactly what has changed inside of me, but something has. I'm ready to do this thing.

  • Friday: appointment with Dr. J to discuss him overseeing my weight loss (I've already gotten pre-approval from my insurance company)
  • Monday: first Yoga class with Megan; meeting with nutritionist
----->cool story here. Megan is my neighbor. SWEETEST girl ever! She's going to work with me one on one until I feel secure enough to enter the studio in a group setting. (TELL me THIS. Why am I okay with doing it on TV, but NOT in a room of 30 women? WHY?) Megan's good friend Amanda, a "nutritional/fitness life coach", has offered to work with me at no charge! The cool thing? It turns out, Amanda is also Darren's massage therapist. He only goes once every 2-3 months. Small world!

Next week's schedule:
  • M-Th - Nia (yoga) with Megan, transitioning to T/Th in a class if I like it
  • M-W-F - walk 1/2 mile to boys' school and 1/2 mile back
  • T-Th - dance/weight workout at Cara's, with Cara and Kristi (FUN!)
  • every day - get up and move enough to get my heart rate going, for 3-5 minutes every hour

Two other things I'm considering: this, and this.

And THIS. Crack. Me. UP!! If I could just blow $300 for the fun of it and not have to worry about feeding my family, this chair would be on its way to me TODAY. I'd lop off a boob or two if I tried to work in it (can you imagine? My working tools involve sharp blades!), but I think I'd get a GREAT workout just laughing my abs off! HA! (Then again, I get the same ab workout just watching Ellen!)

The waiting is still the hardest part. I'll continue to wait for word from The Biggest Loser.

But reclaiming my life? I'm not waiting any longer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Paying it Forward

I've seen this PIF on several blogs over the last couple of months, and finally felt the urge to "sign up" when I saw it on my friend Veronica's blog. I didn't know if she'd allow me to participate, though, because I've been the lucky recipient of several hand-made gifts from her in the past. She's a talented artist in SEVERAL art forms - beading, knitting, quilting, and scrapbooking. I can't wait to see what she makes me!

Now it's my turn to PIF. Here's the deal, cut and pasted from V's blog:

"The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF (Pay It Forward) exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog - this means you must have a blog - sorry, blogless readers."

So who will be the first three to sign up? (and what will I make them? LOL)

Personal Bests

Aidan ran his 2nd 5k this morning, and Darren his 4th.
On the way to Trinity Park for the Fort Worth Bunny Boogie, I told Aidan that he was allowed to take off and leave Dad behind if he wanted. The course followed the Trinity River along the jogging trail for 1.5 miles before turning and doubling back down the trail. There was no way he'd get lost or confused about where to go. Plus, I knew that Darren's coworker Bryan would be ahead of Aidan, and would be watching for him after he finished. :)

After the starting gun, Ian and I jumped in the car and raced down the course to the 7th Street Bridge so we could see the guys running. I was able to get some awesome photos from up there.

After I snapped the photos, Ian and I raced back down the hill to the car, and sped toward the finish line. We made it with about 45 seconds to spare; Aidan was already hauling toward the finish line! He beat his previous race time by THREE MINUTES! His official time was 31:16. Darren set a personal best as well, but was about 2.5 minutes behind Aidan. (Just found the official results - Darren's time was 33:28. He pushed it at the end, because there was a 71-year old woman on his heels - she crossed the finish line 11 seconds behind him. He said he refused to be beaten by an old lady. lol!)
They started out together and stayed side by side for the first half of the race, while Darren set the pace for Aidan. Aidan was able to maintain the pace and ended up leaving Darren in his dust at the halfway mark; he even had enough fuel leftover to kick in his booster rockets at the end.

He placed 1st in his age category. To be fair, he was the only kid in his age bracket, so he placed last, too. HA! But whatever. He bested his time, and that's reward enough.

Coincidentally, Bryan and his wife Julie ran their personal bests, too.

Next race: the Fort Worth Zoo RunRun, April 19.
If you're a grandparent reading this, maybe you oughta start planning a trip to Cowtown. ;)

Friday, March 21, 2008


How to have a perfect spring break:

Hit the road with movies aplenty, 44 ounces of Sonic Diet Coke with Vanilla, and strawberry Twizzlers. Stop in the Austin area to spend the night with Jeanne; manage to meet up with other friends for scrapbook shopping and dinner while you're there.

Arrive at Joanie's the next day in time for lunch. Toss the kids (7 total) outside for hours of springtime fun. Spend your day chatting with girlfriends.

Climb into bed that night and actually enjoy the bits of sand that the kids have sprinkled about. It reminds you that they had a wonderful day. Wake up to the smell of coffee and children giggling, and your 6-year old climbing on your back saying, "You have to wake up, Mom. That lady said." Look at the clock, realize that it's not even 8 a.m., and you have the whole day ahead of you.

Don't make plans. Instead, plan to have no plans, and just fly by the seat of your pants. Maybe you'll unpack your scrapbook stuff, maybe you won't. (I did.) Maybe you'll cook dinner, maybe you'll order pizza. It's all good.

Wake up on the second morning and realize that a miracle has happened: there have been no kid fights, no name calling, no hitting, no tattling. There have been no broken toys, no hurt feelings, no angry words. It's been BLISSFUL. You find yourself wondering if you husband would be willing to telecommute from La Vernia, Texas. Your host promises that there are inner city ministries in San Antonio that you could plug in to.

Find joy in the little things, like the sound of rain on the roof, the blue of the sky the next day, the millipede on the driveway, piling on the bed with your girlfriends to watch American Idol together, the primitive church in town where you'd swear Reverend Alden once preached. You'll have no cell service in rural La Vernia, but you'll find that you're okay with that, which both surprises you and satisfies you.

Finish it off with a drive through the countryside, stopping for photo ops in China Grove ("the people of the town are strange, but they're proud of where they came.... well I'm talkin' 'bout China Grove. Whoa oh oh, OHoh, China Grove...") and the Pancho Villa Lounge.

Laugh a LOT.
Smile a lot.
Talk deep into the night about things that matter.
Realize that this life you live is charmed and beautiful, and what makes it so is the people with whom you spend your days.
Count your blessings.

Return home just in time to see the sun setting over your neighborhood, where the cat is happy to see you and your husband meets you at the backdoor. Life is good.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

4 of 5

4/5ths of us are back home in Cowtown tonight. Dani's still in Tennessee. We had wonderful trips; I'll update with photos tomorrow.

For now, I'm gonna follow my friend Melissa's lead and blog something that made me smile each day this week:

Sunday: "Mom!! You did GREAT picking our movies!" - said by Ian, who told me to surprise him with which road trip movies I packed.

Monday: Playing patty cake with Avery.

Tuesday: digging into a brand new jar of creamy peanut butter. There's something about doing that that makes me GIDDY inside. I love it when I'm the lucky one to open a new jar!

Wednesday: the following conversation:
Samuel (8 years old): Mrs. Kocur, I owe you a dollar.
Me: Why do you owe me a dollar?
Samuel: Because you said we could spend a dollar at the store, and I wasn't paying attention. My toy cost two dollars.
Me: Oh, Samuel! You don't owe me a dollar. But thank you for being so honest.
Samuel: Mrs. Kocur? I feel badly about it. I want to give you a dollar.
Joanie (misty eyed): I'm tellin' you. God gave him to me to make ME a better person. He teaches me; it's not the other way around.

Today: forgetting my pillow at Joanie's, and my camera at Ginger's, which meant I had to turn around and go see them both again. They came from opposite directions and met me in a Hobby Lobby parking lot. I didn't do it on purpose, but if I'd thought about it ahead of time, I might have. ;)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

away we go

As I type, the kids are all asleep in their beds, Darren's asleep in a tent somewhere on the side of Guadalupe Peak, and I'm waiting for the last load of clothes to dry.

In 6 hours, I'll drop off Dani at the airport where she'll board a plane to visit Brittani, (and of course Bobbie, Brianna and Santos) in Tennessee. She'll be there for 7 full days, and she's so excited she can't stand it! She misses her cousin so much.

After that, the boys and I will come back home and I'll do some last minute stuff around the house before heading south for a few days of relaxation. First, we'll stop in Round Rock to spend time with Jeanne, one of my most trusted friends and confidantes. I always feel so safe and loved when I'm with Jeanne; I can't wait to spend time with her again! As an added bonus, we'll meet up with some other Austin-area friends for dinner, and I'm excited to see them, too!

Monday morning, the boys and I will head further south to La Vernia, home of my funny friend Joanie. A few months ago, I was talking about where I'd like to travel this summer (turns out, with the price of gas, we WON'T be travelling), and she said, "I wanna know when you're gonna come visit ME." I replied, "Spring Break." Nothin' like inviting yourself, huh? :) Not only did I invite myself, but I invited other friends to join us as well! Diane and Sarah can't make it, but Ginger and Sue will be crashing LaVerniaPalooza, as we've lovingly dubbed it. Poor Joanie. I think she didn't expect me to take her seriously. ;) But I love me some Joanie, and I love that I won't have to share her with a whole room of 50 other scrapbookers this time. It'll just be 4 crazy women and about 12 kids. WHEE! We've made no plans, other than sitting on the front porch drinking ice cold cherry coke and watching the kids play, and that sounds delicious to me.

Ashlie Cat will watch over things here at home; Mecca and Ella Blu will visit often to give her some kitty love and some Meow Mix. :)

It's kind of weird that we're spending this spring break all separated from each other - Darren there, Dani over yonder, the boys and I down south. We're each going our own way, but our hearts are still one. Homecoming will be sweet at the end of the week. I'm already looking forward to it.:)

Monday, March 03, 2008


I'm an idiot. That pretty much sums it up.

Yesterday, I was acting like a 12-year old, playing around at the park with the Fortress kids. Nikki and I were sitting on a fence railing. (That alone was risky enough.) Nikki, with her svelte, athletic, 22-year old body, eased herself over the top rail so that her head was almost on the ground, her feet dangling up in the air. It looked so FUN!! I decided that I must join her.

So I, with my NOT svelte, athletic body, at the age of almost-39, positioned myself on the railing, first hoisting my dunlap up on TOP of said railing, and proceeded to ....

CRASH, headfirst onto the concrete. I landed in a heap on the grass, laughing my HEAD off, and in dire pain. You should've seen the little kids run to my rescue and try to help me up. (You COULD see it, actually, 'cause it's all on video!)I have a goose egg on top of my head. It hurts. I don't think I've had an owie like THIS since I was.... twelve.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Several weeks ago, someone posed this question on the scrapbooking message board that is my home on the 'net. "What would you do, if you KNEW you would not fail?"

People answered "I'd open the quilt shop I've always dreamed of", and "I'd buy a lottery ticket".
I answered with the first thing that popped into my head: "I'd try out for The Biggest Loser."

I've only seen snippets of the show. I don't think I've ever even seen a full episode. Never ever even once have I thought I should be on the show, so for that answer to come flying out the end of my fingertips as I typed was.... odd.

The next morning, I was driving home after dropping the kids at school when I heard on the radio, "Open casting call in Dallas this weekend for The Biggest Loser." I gotta tell ya, after posting that JUST THE DAY BEFORE, I got chills up my spine thinking about. At home, I immediately logged onto ScrapShare and the very first thread I saw was titled: Biggest Loser Casting Call!! I thought to myself, "That's two signs in a row." My friend Amy had posted the details about the Dallas audition, saying, "SOMEONE said she'd like to do this. Here's your big chance, my friend!"

I replied, "It would be a logistical nightmare, figuring out how my family would run without me. I think I could make the cut for the show. I mean, I am a PRIME candidate for weight loss. I'm the right age. I have personality. I don't know if I could cut it though. That's the failure part I was talking about. GAH. This is gonna be all I think about for the rest of the day!"

Friends from across the nation (and even from other countries!) piled on the posts, encouraging me to go for it. I couldn't believe the encouragement!! I needed to talk to someone about it. So I called Darren at work, but got his voicemail. Then I called Kristi.

She said, "Stace, this is so weird. Last night I was lying in bed, and I was thinking about you being on the show! I was thinking you'd be GREAT! But I decided I'd never tell you I was thinking about it, because I'd never want you to fear that your weight bothers me. You know it doesn't. But.... you'd be perfect for that show! Do it!"

Okay, that's sign #3. Then, Darren called me back, and I told him the whole story."Do it," he said.

"But.... what about the logistics? What about the kids? I mean, I think this thing could last a long time... 3 or 4 months, maybe."

"We'll figure it out," he answered.

"I can't believe you just said that. I KNEW you'd say, 'Stace, come on. There's no way we can make it work'."

"We can make it work. We talked about this in New York."

"What?? We talked about Biggest Loser?"
"No, we talked about you getting healthy. How both of us want it. How you want to be able to do things with me." Darren was sign #4.

Then I had lunch with Dani, and I said, "I'm thinking of trying out for The Biggest Loser this Saturday."
"Wow," she replied.
"What would you think?" I asked.
"I think that would be AWESOME," she answered.
"But would you be embarrassed to have your Mom on that show?"
She snarled her lip at me and said, all huffy, "No." Then she asked, "Would YOU be embarrassed to stand on the scale with your fat hanging out on national TV?"

"You bet yer batootie I would!" I laughed.
Then I got serious and said, "It would be hard on everyone."
"It would be worth it. You'd be able to take better care of us when you got back."
"A lot of extra responsibility would fall on you," I warned.
"I know. I already thought about that. It would suck. But it would be okay. It'd be worth it."
Sign #5.

I had several instant offers from ScrapShare friends who were willing to be my partner. (Season 6 will be another "couples" season on the show.) I took that as Sign #6. But Dani had a bright idea: my neighbor. Marjorie and I went so far as taking photos together and filling out our applications. We talked about the ins and outs, the dangers and distractions, the reality of reality TV. And then mere hours before we were to attend the Open Casting Call, she had to back out.

I was strangely okay with that. I briefly considered going alone to the audition, but since I didn't have a partner to list on the application, I didn't go. Even so, I was okay with that. I posted on ScrapShare,
Marjorie backed out tonight. I'm very sad, but not beaten. There are
friends in the wings who have expressed genuine interest in doing it with
me. One is local, two are not. I have photos with the two friends who
aren't local, so that's not a problem. We have a couple of weeks to do
videos and send it in. I'm not giving up yet. But tomorrow, I'll be
sleeping in instead of standing for hours in the freezing drizzle. I
can't say I'm too bummed about THAT. lol!! Darren and I talked about me
going down there by myself, but I really think it would be a waste of
time. I mean, I don't even HAVE a partner at this moment,
and that's a requirement on the application. LOL!! Ah, well. If this thing is
meant to be, it's STILL meant to be, with or without Marjorie.

I spoke with several people about being my new partner. Cara had to decide not to, because she still has a preschooler. Several of my ScrapShare friends talked about it, too, but in the end, sign # 784 happened: Desiree.

Desi is one of my favorite friends ever. We met online years ago, and somewhere along the way, we both went on a health kick and started losing weight. When she got too small for her clothes, she sent them to me. We both left our warm home states of Texas and California and met up at a scrapbooking retreat in Wisconsin. In the winter. That's when we met in person for the first time, but we were old friends instantly. This winter, neither of us were able to return to Wisconsin for the annual retreat, but Desi was able to swing a visit to see me here in Texas! It was already booked and scheduled when we started talking about Biggest Loser, and the timing was perfect. It'd give us a chance to take fresh photos, shoot some video, and do it TOGETHER. Her husband and daughters are as supportive as my family has been. Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.

So, I'm doing this thing.
The mere fact that I'm willing to RISK (lol!) being cast on the show says a lot to me.
It says that I'm really ready to do this thing, for real this time.
Years ago, I said of Oprah, "Yah, *I* could lose all that weight too, if I had a personal trainer and a chef at my disposal, making sure I eat right." This is my chance to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

I like to say how lazy I am. That's only partially true. When I decide I want to do something, i do it all the way. When I wanted to see as much of NYC as I could, I did, even though it meant doing it with a sprained ankle. When I wanted to see Paris, I did it with everything I had, even though I was miserable with strep throat and a double ear infection. When I wanted to see Bash Bish Falls, I made the hike, even though I was 7 months pregnant and in great pain. I am capable of doing what it takes. I'm strong - both emotionally and mentally. I have immense faith in God, and He tells me that I can do all things through Him. I believe that He would include losing this weight in that promise.

I need to lose it. I have 150 pounds to lose, and even then, I'd be considered over my "ideal weight". I owe it to Darren, who didn't marry a fat girl, and who dreams of me being able to climb mountains with him. I owe it to Dani, who leaves for college in 18 months and who needs a healthy Mom she can depend on. I owe it to Aidan, who would love for me to run with him. I owe it to Ian, who loves me with everything in him, even though I'm a girl. I owe it to my friends, to my parents, to my sister. I owe it to the kids at Fortress who make me laugh and make me cry and make me remember why God put me in this place. And I owe it to God. He has plans for me. He promised. Plans to give me a hope and a future. It's time I took that seriously. I want that future. I owe it to ME.