Saturday, April 26, 2008

bloom and grow

Shhh. Don't tell Darren. I did yardwork today.

Yesterday, Marjorie helped me choose plants for my front stoop pots, and this morning we planted them. Using her "thrill, fill, spill" method, I put some tall stuff in the center, then filled in around that with plants and flowers, and then planted some vines around the edge that will spill over the side. I had enough leftovers to plant three smaller pots for the backyard.
I really like the way they all turned out, and now I'm anxious for them to grow and fill out more.

Next, I broke up the clay/gravel soil between the sidewalk and the street next to our driveway and laid some sod. I was sweating bullets from the exertion, and told Marjorie that my old bod wasn't accustomed to hard manual labor. I made her promise not to tell Darren, lest he get the idea in his head that this might become a regular thing. It won't. Too many woims in the ground for one thing, and I still haven't gotten all the dirt from underneath my fingernails. ha

(for future reference)

the plants in the stoop containers;
Thrill: dracaena spike
Fill: coleus (2 varieties), Mexican heather, marigold
Spill: vinca vine (wojo's gem), lamium (silver), creeping jenny

in the backyard:
Thrill: salvia
Fill: verbena, coleus
Spill: asparagus fern

on the ground:

20 pounds (9.09 kilos)

Twenty pounds of potatoes. Sweet Holy Moses on buttered toast, those bags are heavy! Especially when you're trying to do curls with them!

That 20 pounds used to be on my bod. I've decided to photograph myself holding the amount of weight I've lost every month. Should be fun!

Today was my 1-month follow-up with my doctor. He prescribed Phentermine (an appetite suppresant) for me last month, which requires a monthly check-up. I didn't take the Phentermine for 5 days last week, because I was doing an experiment on myself. I'd been crashing HARD - hitting a wall - every afternoon at 4:30 or 5:00, and I thought it might be an effect of the medicine wearing off. But when NOT taking it, I still hit that wall every day. I think (and so does my doc) that it was just my body trying to adjust to its new life. It wasn't used to exercising and burning calories during the day at ALL!

He asked if I'd noticed that the pills give me more energy. Honestly, I haven't. I told him that the only side effect I could tell was that during those 5 days when I wasn't taking it, I was starving in the evenings. Evenings have always been my trouble time. It's when I used to get the bulk of my calories.

Doctor said, "See, this is why I hate these pills. I'm afraid that when you go off of them, you'll slip back into those old habits and gain it all back. I see it happen all the time."

I said, "Dr. J! It's not gonna happen, because I'm replacing those bad habits with good ones. I'm not just taking the pills. I'm also exercising every day, (I walk 2 miles on MWF, and do an hour of NIA on T/Th) and starting Monday, I'm adding resistance training to the mix. And I'm eating 6 small meals a day, and never after 7:30 or so, and I'm staying between 1500 and 1600 calories. I will never slip back into those old habits."

He beamed. BEAMED, I tell you!
"Stace, girl, you're ROCKING this!"
He was so proud of me, and since he's always been so nurturing and seemed so fatherly to me, his pride and the big pat on my back felt SO good.

I'm grateful for the pills, because I know they've helped me jumpstart this whole new lifestyle. But I'm also proud of the fact that I'm making great strides towards a future without them. I'm working hard, and it's paying off. I feel. SO. GOOD!

I've lost 21 pounds in 4 weeks.
130 to go! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I spent all day in the car. At 9:20, I left home and headed to Frisco to run an Ikea errand I've been putting off for weeks. I arrived back in Fort Worth in time to take Dani to the doctor at 1:00. After dropping her off, I headed downtown to pick up Darren from work, and dropped him off at his massage appointment. From there, I made a quick stop at Vending Nut Co. for walnuts and dried apricots, and made it back to Dani's doctor just in time to pick her up. Dropped her off at school, stopped at Family Dollar for a few necessities, and made it to the massage therapist just as Darren was walking out the door. Then straight to the boys' school for pickup time. And finally, at 3:15, I was back home.

When I walked into the family room, I immediately noticed a grocery bag sitting outside on the front porch. Inside it was a shopping bag from Old Navy. My first thought was that Dani had lost an article of clothing on her NYC trip last weekend, and it had been returned by one of her friends' Moms. But no - it was a new shirt. In MY size.

Well, wait. Not exactly my size. It was in a size I wouldn't have even bothered to take off the rack, much less try on. But I LOVED the shirt. It's one of my favorite colors, and I loved the style. I came back in the house, showed it to Darren, and then immediately stripped off my t-shirt and slipped this one on. I couldn't believe it fit!

I looked again in the bags in search of a note, but there wasn't one. My first thought (and Darren's too) was Mecca, because the shirt looked like something she'd wear, and she's just the type to leave a gift like that. So I walked down to her house, but she swore it wasn't her. She DID tell me to see if anything was written on the sack, though.

Sure enough, I'd missed it the first time. There was a note.
"Pay it Forward!
Stacy, keep up the hard work!
Pay it forward with kindness."

I almost walked back down to Mecca's, because I was sure it must've been her.
Or Kristi. Or Cara. Or Megan. Maybe Tina. Marjorie! Possibly Wendy. Luann?

In the end, I decided to let it go and just enjoy the anonymity. That is SO hard for me to do. I wanna know who to hug and smooch!

I love the new shirt. I love the new size. But most of all, I love the spirit of whoever left it on my porch.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

POWER! Identifying triggers

So, let me start from the beginning.

When my doctor told me 18 months ago that I'd die young if I didn't get this weight off, and that it was time to do something drastic, he encouraged me to look into gastric bypass and lap band, etc. Darren was completely against it, 100%. One of the reasons *I* decided against it as well is, I felt like I needed to be ready to lose the weight psychologically and emotionally before I did anything drastic. I've heard of too many people who have the surgery just to gain it all back, and I didn't want to be one of those people. For me, I knew that half the battle was in my head.

Finally, through a whole bunch of little things that are starting to be clear to me now, I reached that psychological/emotional place - in just the last couple of months. Slowly, I'm starting to identify triggers in me - emotional triggers, mental triggers, whatever - that cause me to engage in unhealthy habits. It's so empowering to identify those and battle them head to head!

Thursday night, we had a program at school (Ian's Kindergarten class was performing), so we had to grab a quick dinner. We decided to stop at L'il Caesar's for a couple of their $5 Hot-n-Ready pizzas. There's a Subway right next door, so I went in and ordered a Veggie Delight Sub. The pizza hadn't even sounded appetizing to me when we ordered it, but when we got home and Darren opened the pizza boxes, I swear, saliva dribbled down my chin. I quickly put it out of my mind and dined on my sub instead. Then I got rid of the pizza leftovers by giving them to a friend who came over later.

Friday, I took the boys to 7-11 after school for a treat. It's something we do about once a month to reward them for good behavior at school. I always, ALWAYS get a candy bar (or two!) when I'm there, along with a Diet Coke. I stared longingly at the 3 Musketeers, Reese's, Heath., Skor; all of my favorites were there. Beside the candy... a freezer full of pint-size Ben and Jerry's. I haven't craved chocolate or candy since I began this journey 3 weeks ago, but Friday, I had a battle of wills right there on the candy aisle. Eventually I made my way to the nuts and grabbed a packet of whole natural almonds. Instead of Coke, I rewarded myself with strawberry Propel (water) - the first flavored drink I've had in 3 weeks today! (but who's counting!)

Anyway. One of my triggers is so simple. It's the Because It's There trigger. If there's food before me, or the opportunity to GET food, I've always felt like I'd be a fool not to take it. There've been times when, at 7-11, I've gotten TWO candy bars for myself, because "I might get a hankerin' for a candy bar tomorrow, so it'll be good to have an extra one on hand." Then of course, I'd devour BOTH candy bars in the car on the way home. Often, I'd eat when I wasn't even HUNGRY (especially at parties, where the food is laid out before me). Sometimes I'd eat beforehand, to try to keep myself from eating too much while I was out. It backfired everytime. I ended up eating at home AND pigging out at the party. Because it was there.

So. I can't avoid the trigger of having food there. It'll always be there. But it feels good to identify it as a trigger and make myself think about how to react to it. Today, I reacted by choosing something healthy. I really was hungry - it was time for my afternoon snack anyway. But the fact that I recognized the trigger (I didn't want the candy until it was there in front of me), then analyzed it, identified true hunger, and made a good choice.... man. That's POWER!!

I have a bunch more issues to tackle, and I know that most of them will be a lot more profound than this one. Still, it feels great to have this one behind me.

By the way - I'm 10% of the way to my goal! I've lost 15 pounds since March 29. Go me!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What brings out the kid in you?

For me, it's airplanes.

I'm in awe of them. I love to fly, but I think even more, I love to watch airplanes in the air. When I see a contrail in the sky, I almost can't take my eyes off of the plane that's leaving it; I'll watch it until it disappears from sight.
When I'm driving past the airport, and there's a plane coming in for a landing (at DFW, there are ALWAYS planes coming in), I try to time it so that I can drive right under it as it passes directly overhead, so close I have the urge to reach up and touch it as it goes by. I'm a road hazard when I'm driving near the airport, because I have a hard time keeping my eyes on the road. I lean forward and over and back - whatever it takes to get a better glimpse of the planes - before I remember that I'm actually supposed to be paying attention to the road.

Airplanes make me feel like a little kid. One of my "things to do before I die" was to fly in a prop plane. I finally did that 3 years ago - in Ireland, over the Atlantic Ocean no less - but it was an 8-seater, and I was in the 3rd row. It wasn't thrilling enough. I wanted to sit in the co-pilot's seat! DANI GOT TO SIT THERE, and I was insanely jealous the whole time. I practically pouted. See? Airplanes bring out the kid in me!

On Mother's Day a couple of years ago, we spent the afternoon at an Air Show. Some of my friends felt sorry for me, saying, "Aw. I'm sorry you had to spend your Mother's Day like that." I had to explain to them that I was THRILLED. I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other day! What could've been more fun that watching amazing flying formations over and over and over with my family? Well, riding shotgun in one of those jets, maybe. :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

my favorite things, A to Z

From my friend Carol:
I'm watching Ellen and she just talked about some of her favorite the the top of her head. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. Your turn.

Here's mine. And I'm gonna tag some people.
KelleyB, Kris, and Veronica - your turn!

A - airplanes (I'm like a little boy. When I drive past the airport, I'm a danger on the road because I can't stop watching the planes!)
B - banana pudding. My friend Gayla makes the best EVER. It's so bad for me, but oh my WORD, is it delicious! It's funny, though. I'm not real fond of bananas otherwise.
C - Christmas season. I love the hubbub, the twinkly lights, the crispness in the air, the excuse for yummy over-the-top meals, the giving. And yes, the getting, too. Like I said - I'm like a little kid!
D - dollars. Come one. Who DOESN'T love to find an extra dollar in the bottom of your purse, or in the pocket of your winter coat, or under the seat of your car?
E - email. I'm hugely dependent on it, and couldn't run my business or my life without it!
F - Fortress. It's so much more than the place I go to worship on Sundays. It's my friends. It's my comfort. It's my calling. It's where my talents are needed and used. It's where I'm stretched and challenged. It's my home.
G - Google. For real. How many times have I wished I had google at my fingertips? I use it multiple times a day. (I need an iPhone for when I'm not sitting here at home!) Wanna know what that cool hummingbird-looking moth is? Google can tell you. Who starred in Starsky and Hutch? Google knows. What can you do for free in NYC? Ask Google!
H - Hydrangeas. I think they're beautiful, especially the blue variety.
I - Ireland. I've been fortunate to see a lot of places, but this by far ranks as my favorite of all. Ireland is where we've spent the most time on any vacation to date, and it still wasn't enough. I'm itching to go back. Life is so quiet there. So still. So simple. I crave it sometimes.
J - Jif. Don't make me eat Peter Pan or Skippy (do they still make that?). Gotta be Jif.
K - Kahlua. A little in my coffee, or in my brownies. Either way, mmm mmm good.
L - laughter. I love to laugh, and I love the sound of others laughing. I've heard that Elaine's friend (and my blog friend) KelleyB has a HUGE, great laugh, and that makes me want to meet her really bad so we can kick our heads back together and let it rip!
M - Music. From Pink Floyd to The Cambridge Singers. From ACapella to GooGoo Dolls. I love it all.
N -Nia. Who'd thunk I'd EVER list exercise as one of my favorite things? I love it. It integrates yoga, martial arts, and dance. It give me a good workout while somehow totally relaxing my mind and soul. It affirms me. I find myself looking FORWARD to it. That's something!
O - onions. Grilled, to be exact. I love me some grilled onions!
P - Potatoes. I've been known to pass up dessert for another helping of mashed potatoes!
Q - quilts. I'm not a quilter myself (I dabbled in the early 90s, but never produced anything wonderful.) But I'm enamored of them - from the patchwork quilt handed down to me from my great-grandmother Ethel to Elaine's amazing art quilts.
R - Rebel. As in my Canon Rebel XTi. I coveting that thing for a long time and haven't regretted spending the big bucks on it yet. It's a workhorse, and is SO much fun to play with! From the mountaintops of Colorado to the subways of NYC, it's never produced a photo I was disappointed with.
S - Sunday Crossword in the NYTimes. I'm obsessed. Darren used to print one every day for me and bring it home, and I'd work it in bed at night. At Christmas, Dad gave me a book with hundreds of them in it. I'm almost finished with it.
T - tea. My mom's best friend, Ann, used to make tea so sweet that you'd swear you were drinking syrup. I'd often go across the street and play with Kevin and Stacy JUST to have a glass of that yumminess! I suppose it's her fault that I still love an ice cold glass of sweet tea to this day.
U - USA.
V - volleyball. I used to play regularly in college. When I see people playing these days, it brings back such good memories, and I have to stop myself from barging in and joining them!
W - weight loss. Yep. One of my favorite things right now!
X - Xyron, a wonderful little gadget that makes scrapbooking easier by applying adhesive to the backs of hard-to-adhere things like ribbon and tiny letters.
Y - YouTube. Seriously. Find clips from your favorite shows, performaces. movies. Search for "kitty cat dance" and see what Aidan and Ian are cracking up at these days. Over and over. and over and over.
Z - zip code. Specifically, mine: 76110. I love where I live and feel so blessed to have made a home on such a happy block, in such a lovely neighborhood, near such an amazing dowtown and arts district, within walking distance of such a wonderful school, and with such great diversity.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sherry's Challenge

1) Right now I want: to lay down and take a nap. I thought daily exercise and healthy eating was supposed to give me MORE energy!

2) I wish I knew how to: keep better books so tax time for my business wouldn't be so time-consuming.

3) When I want to indulge myself, I: hmmm. Two weeks ago, I'd have said "Go get a Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic", or "meet Cara and Kristi for drinks and desserts." But none of that fits in with my healthy outlook anymore. I dunno. It's time to learn how to indulge without it involving calories!

4) You’ll never see me: wearing high heels. I have a pair of 2" pumps, and that's as high as I can manage. I'm a klutz, and besides that, I don't believe in wearing shoes that hurt your feet. :)

5) A childhood memory that I love: Dad letting me drive the truck when we were out at the farm - me sitting on the edge of the seat as tall as I could, stretching to reach the gas pedal.

6) 2 things I do every single day: refill the water filter thingy in the fridge, and stay up too late.

7) Happiest moment of 2008, so far: falling asleep on Darren's chest a couple of days ago. When I woke up, I just thought, "Wow. How lucky am I?!" Contentment is a wonderful feeling. I'm in a really good place right now!

8) Describe yourself in 3 words: motivated, fun, dependable.

9) 2 scrap related goals for this year: Finish Ireland and both Colorado cabin trips.

10) You have $40 that you MUST spend on yourself – what do you do with it? get a pedicure.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Real Beauty

In our Sunday afternoon girls' Bible study at Fortress, Sheena and I have been trying to find ways for the girls' to see themselves through God's eyes.
So often, growing up in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of the inner city, where drugs and prostitution are part of your everyday, where your self-worth is dependent on being either invisible or exploited, seeing yourself in a positive light is hard. Imagining that God loves you ANYway is nearly impossible.

As a reward for attending our class faithfully this semester, we rewarded the girls with a makeover to end the lesson series. This past Sunday was makeover day. First, we took the girls to a beauty supply store and let them choose a hair product. Viola wanted tracks (hair extensions), TeTe wanted a wig, and Royleesha chose a perm (a relaxer to make her hair straight).

We arrived at my house and got down to business. I'd never given a perm before, much less on hair like Royleesha's! She has 4 times as much hair as Dani does, and I thought DANI had thick hair! It took me an hour brush through and seperate all the hair into sections, and apply the solution. Then it took forever to dry and flatiron it afterwards. But the results were stunning. Royleesha was beautiful, and part of what made her so was the sparkle in her eyes. She FELT gorgeous!

Sheena laid Viola's tracks and made TeTe's wig, and Cara did the makeup. We had a photo session in my front yard when it was all over. It was such a fun afternoon, just chatting with the girls and spending good, quality time together. I'm going to give each of them a framed 8x10 from their portrait session, with the caption "This is how God sees you... every day... no matter what." I hope they continue to believe it. They are beautiful, most especially when they believe that God thinks so.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

it's the little things (it always is!)

We've had a long, rough week here in Cowtown.
Darren's had a hellacious week at work.
Dani was scheduled every night at Panera, and had homework and a UIL competition on top of that (Paschal's Acappella and Select Women's Choirs each earned a "1" in competition!), and I gave up Diet Coke with Vanilla.

Yep, you read that right. I stopped cold. I haven't had one in 7 days now. I bet the carhops at Sonic are wondering if I fell off the face of the earth by now. Wednesday and Thursday were pretty difficult, as I fought a headache that would.not.quit.

But the week ended on a really good note. Darren was able to unwind a little last night and put work out of his mind. We had dinner at Daddy Jacks (seafood) with Marjorie and Tom, and then went to our monthly concert with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Last night featured Natalie Mac Master, a Celtic fiddler who danced and stepped the entire time she played. AMAZING. She was so much fun, and put on a fantastic show. We fell in love with Irish music on our vacation there a few years back, so we really enjoyed the tunes last night. It was a wonderfully relaxing evening.

Dani gave her two weeks' notice at work almost two weeks ago. Monday was to be her last day, and after her schedule this week, it couldn't come fast enough. Her main reason for quitting was the scheduling. Consistently, she's been scheduled to work on days she had asked off for (always school-related stuff), and she'd been working 4 school nights per week, when the agreement at the beginning was only 2. When she arrived at work last night, her boss gave her a $1/hour raise, and agreed to be more accommodating with the schedule. They sat down and went over the calendar through May. Dani blacked out all the dates she must have off; she has a choir trip to NYC this month, then her SAT, then 5 AP tests, and the choir banquet, for which she has to prepare a video and a scrapbook as part of her Historian duties. There needs to be a lot of study time in there. Her manager agreed to only schedule her for one day per week until she's finished with all of those school obligations. Wow! It's unheard of to get a $1 raise in the food service industry, and then to be given all the time off you need immediately. They really wanted to keep her, which leads me to believe that she's a really good employee. That makes me proud!

As for me, already my body is craving water instead of Diet Coke. Mmmmm. That's a good thing! Better yet, I weighed in this morning - my first of The Saturday Weigh-Ins, and just by dropping Diet Coke and fast food, and adding walking and exercise (Nia - more on that in another post), I've lost 5 pounds!! Only 145 to go! lol

The boys spend the night with Grammy and PapPap last night (always a treat for them!), and Darren's spending the day working in the yard. It's a gorgeous 72 degrees today. I'm working on my '07 business taxes, and doing laundry. Do I know how to have fun, or what?

Anyway. It's the little things that make life beautiful. We're celebrating a lot of little things today. :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

small victories, great feeling!

1. Yesterday morning, I had to fast for some more blood work that I was having done. When I got finished at the lab, it was noon and I was STARVING. I had another appointment at 12:30, so I thought, "I'll just grab some Jack in the Box" on the way.

Immediately, I realized what a horrible idea that was. It's just such a habit for me to eat on the run; it was my first instinct. After that, I had a battle of wills within myself to NOT TURN THE CAR TOWARDS fast food row! Ultimately, I drove home instead and made a quick sandwich. VICTORY!! I was so proud of myself that when I got to my next appointment, I wanted to tell every stranger I passed, "Hey! Guess what I just did?" lol

2. Later, at the playground after school, one of the Moms asked me if I'd lost weight. SURELY I've not lost any yet (I'm only gonna weigh on Saturdays, so I don't know for sure, but it's only been a week since I went hard core with the diet and exercise.) Then last night, my friend's brother said, "You've been losing weight!" I kissed him on the cheek for saying so! Neither of these people know I've started this journey, so I know they weren't blowing sunshine up my pantiloons. I can't imagine that it's noticeable already, but it sure felt great to hear!

3. I've made it 6 days without a Diet Coke (or ANY caffeine or carbonated beverage.) All I've had is water. The headache Wednesday and yesterday was intense (and yet, I still went to my Nia class! Go me!), but it's finally abated. I think I'm over the hardest part now! The best thing is, my body craves water already. That's gonna be so good for me.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's

The most convincing - but possibly meanest - prank I ever pulled was on my poor Mom and Dad. I was a freshman in college, living in a dorm, 95 miles from home. Just after midnight on April 1, I walked to the pay phone down the hall from my room on the 7th floor of Kerr Hall and dialed Mom and Dad at home.

"Dad," I whimpered to the sleepy voice that answered the phone.
"Dad, I'm... in.... jail."

"Stacy! Where?"

"Here, in Denton."


"I don't know."

"You don't KNOW?"

"No. They just arrested me, but they won't tell me why."

The conversation went on for a few minutes. I played my part well; I sounded like a scared -to-death kid. And it worked. My Dad was pulling on his pants, getting ready to drive to Denton before I busted out laughing and said "April Fool's!" He didn't think it was one bit funny. Neither did Mom. I wonder if they remember that night.

Today, Darren and I pranked the boys. Darren had the afternoon off, so we walked together to pick up the boys from school. When we got there, we told them that we were going to let them play at the playground, something they beg to do on an almost daily basis. Their eyes lit up and the three of them (we had Tristan, too) let out a "yahoo" and started running for the playground.

"WAIT," Darren said. "April Fool's. We're not going to the playground."
There was a chorus of "Aw, Man!" and some really angry looking eyes coming from the three of them.
"April Fools! We really ARE going to the playground."
That was followed by a couple of playful punches to Darren's arm and some nervous laughter.
"But first, Mom and I signed up us all up to clean the playground."

The boys all looked at Darren, then at me, then back at Darren."
He continued, "It's a school thing. They get the parents to volunteer to clean the playground one day per year, and today is our day."

The boys stood in stunned silence. They didn't know what to think.

I chimed in, "But you still get to play! It's just that first, you have to clean the whole playground."

Ian fell in a crumpled heap on the ground at Darren's feet and began to wail. Tristan and Aidan began to protest. Then Darren and I said, "April Fool's!! We got you!" Ian stood up, wiped his tears, and tried not to smile too big. He knew he'd been had, and while he HATED it, he couldn't help but think it was funny. Tristan tried to act like he knew we were joking, but let me tell you: that kid was about to cry, too.

Darren and I high-fived and giggled all the way to the playground.
I have a bad feeling that karma's gonna get me some day!

6 words

the challenge: write your memoir. In six words.

Loved life.
Laughed loudly.
Pursued God.

or maybe this:

Messy house.
Dancing soul.
Happy heart.

or perhaps this:

Wife, Mom, Friend, Artist, Traveler, Mentor.

how about:

She loved Diet Coke with vanilla.

here it is:

I anticipated happiness; I wasn't disappointed.