About Me

Some of you know me from my old blog "Moving to Morocco" where I wrote about meeting my husband and, you guessed it, moving to Morocco. Well, we're back now, and I want to write about other things (but yes, we're still happily married). There's no real subject to this blog. I just want to write. If you have a subject you'd like my opinion on, just let me know. I also plan on doing advice posts. If you have something you'd like an outside opinion on, e-mail me anonymously at nicegirlatl@hotmail.com! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weight Loss Update

I can't believe it's been over 2 months since the last time I wrote. Life has gotten busy with starting a new job and having two kids and a husband, but I wanted to take a little time to update on my weight loss.

As of today, I've lost 55 pounds...and somewhere over 60 inches. Over 60 inches could be 61 or 72, I'm not sure as I haven't measured in several weeks but the last time I did I had lost 60 and I am smaller now. You cannot imagine just how much better I feel physically and how strong I feel emotionally. One of the hardest things I've ever done in my life is setting a goal to lose weight and sticking to it. Accomplishing something so difficult has made me feel amazing. I feel proud of myself and I feel like I can take on anything. I'm not done yet, but I am almost there. I KNOW I will get there now. I got through the toughest part of it and I've made it this far, there is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that I will hit the finish line and be completely happy with my body one day soon.

Many people have asked me how I lost the weight. I want to let everyone know here how it all worked.....the very first thing is you have to be READY to lose weight. Be ready to make a LIFE CHANGE. Be ready to commit yourself wholly to something that is hard and requires time and effort every.single.day. I will not pretend that this was easy, however, I will tell you that the sacrifices I've made over the past 9 months have been completely worth it.  Every day I worked out when I was too damn tired to, was worth it. Every piece of birthday cake I didn't eat was hard at the time, but is barely even memorable now.

I lost 50 pounds following The South Beach Diet. For the first month I didn't exercise at all. I was too fat and had no energy. After the first month I was ready to work out, but embarrased to go to the gym, so I bought Jillian Michaels Shred and worked out 20 minutes a day at home. On Saturdays I went on a 2 mile hike through the woods. I bought "Just Dance" for the wii. After a month or two I joined the YMCA gym and got with a trainer to set me up on an automated program that tracked my progress.  For about 4 or 5 months I worked out every single day. Tired or not. The weight was coming off little by little and slowly my clothes were getting bigger. There were weeks I gained - always less than a pound - and I didn't get discouraged. I'd try harder the next week.

In June I started a new job that required a lot of hours and no time for the gym. I was eating out here and there and trying to work out at home. 2 months passed and I had really only maintained my weight. At the end of September I'd gained about 4 pounds and I'd really lost my focus of hardcore "dieting". After much research I decided to try HCG.

HCG is the hormone pregnant women produce to burn stored fat to provide for their fetus should they not eat enough to provide. I decided to use homeopathic HCG instead of the daily injections to see if it would work. I did the HCG for 7 days and lost 9.8 pounds. I was planning to do the HCG for the 23 days that I purchased enough drops for, but after the first week I felt like I'd lost enough to get me focused on losing again the right way. Lots of people have asked me how I liked HCG, so I will tell you.

I am not advocating HCG for long term weight loss. I truly believe that the ONLY way to get fit and stay that way is through a nutritious diet and lots of exercise. However, when I was at a plateau, HCG worked great for me. I took the drops under my tongue three times a day and only ate 500 calories. Yes, 500 is low, and your body will starve at 500 without HCG, but with HCG, you lower your calories so that your brain will be triggered to burn stored fat to provide energy. For the one week I used the drops and only ate 500 calories I felt fabulous. I had tons of energy (think of the nesting stage when your pregnant) and I was not hungry. I had no headaches, no mood swings, no dizzy spells, no nausea. No adverse effects at all. I definitely could have followed the 23 day plan, but for me, easier didn't feel as rewarding as kicking ass at the gym.

I am now in the 150's. I am in a size 10 jean and a medium shirt. I've lost a whole shoe size. My wedding ring is about to fall off. And I feel better at 30 than I have felt in probably 10 years.

I want to say also that I do spend a lot of time talking about my wieght loss. Mostly on Facebook. I am not bragging at all. If it comes off that way, I'm sorry. For a long time I used FB as a way to stay accountable for my wieght loss. If I had to post my loss I had to work out hard. Now, I am just really proud of what I've accomplished and I really want to be an example to everyone that wants to lose wieght. I never thought I'd succeed at it, but I have, and I want anyone who is friends with me to know that they can do it too. And I'm here if you want to talk about it or ask advice or get recipes or work out together. It is hard, but I mean it, if I can do it, you can do it!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pushy People

Last week I bought a new phone after 3 years of having the same one. I am a firm believer that if it ain't broke don't fix it. So while all of these awesome phones have come out that can turn off your tv at home while you're on vacation in Alaska, or allow you to skype with people across the world, I still had my sucky phone from 2008. While in the store the salesgirl kept trying to get me to get accessories. Blinged out phone plates (hello, I'm 30, not 8), home phone chargers (I don't need a second one), car chargers (I can buy one at the gas station for $6), insurance (on a $50 phone? I've never messed up a phone before, I think I'll take my chances) Transferring my numbers from the old phone to the new one for $10 (shit, my fingers work, I'll transfer them myself). I declined all over and over until finally her manager said "yooou cheap girl". I looked at her and calmly said, "while I may not spend money on inconsequential shit, I am sure I have more money in the bank than you". The girls were both nice at first but when I wouldn't buy into their strong arm sales tactics, they got nasty with me.

This got me thinking about other pushy people. It's not just salesmen. It's also converts. Let me give you a few examples.

A few years ago my lovely sister who smoked for many years stopped smoking. At that point she's become the most intolerant person of cigarettes that I know. I actually call her "the smoking Nazi". She cannot stand the smell of smoke and she's very vocal about it. Since she was able to quit the whole world should too. While she's probably right she's very strong in her open hate for all things tobacco, which can make some of us (ahem, ME) seem like losers for smoking.

I too could be pushy. Since I've lost weight and I've stuck with it for many months now, I find myself holding back telling people they should start losing. I never want to be "the weight loss Nazi" but I do see how tempting it is to be one. It's hard when people ask me "how did you lose it" and I see the disappointment in their face and hear it in their voice when I say "diet and exercise". Some of these people want it SO BAD, but are NOT willing to put the work in. I've invited countless ladies to come work out with me or offered to loan them a copy of the book I read to get started on my journey and they ALWAYS turn me down. At that point I could go on some tangent about "putting in the work to get the results" but I always refrain. I remember before I started my diet, I knew I was a huge fat ass but I still continued eating. I couldn't do it before I was ready to, for myself, and that is what keeps me from being a diet pusher.

Finally, there is one other category of pushy that I notice on a regular basis. Converts to other religions. I guess a convert is new to the religion so its at the forefront of their mind. Whereas if you were brought up Christain or Muslim, it's just a part of you. Newbies are learning and excited and want to share everything they're learning with others. Unfortunately, they are also very pushy. Their incessant talk about their new found religion is sometimes off putting and I've actually had to discontinue being friends with certain people because they can make snide comments if you don't want to believe in what they believe in (even if they've only believed in it for a few weeks).

So in summary, salesmen are the WORSE, but there are certain things, we as people in our regular lives should be aware of. We have to know that just because we believe something doesn't make it the right way for everyone, and even if its a situation of "if I can do it you can do it", doesn't mean people are READY to do it. We have to accept people for who they are whether they smoke, are fat, or are of a different religion. I have to remind myself of that every time I want to go on and on about how "you're gonna kick yourself for not starting sooner once you realize how easy and rewarding it is" I've finally reserved myself to being there for people if they want to know about my weight loss, but not pushing dieting on them. People will find it inside of themselves to find whats right for them, including religion, so we have to stop trying to force people to agree with us and just be there for them when they need us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's Forgive Casey Anthony

Since the verdict, the media has been full of stories about her safety. Full of stories of people that want to marry her, kill her, torture her. Full of articles asking how she could have gotten off. Full of speculation about where life will take her now as one of the most hated people in the United States, if not the world.

One category of story I can't understand is "Forgive Casey Anthony". I read an article that asked the question, "Will hating Casey bring Caylee back"? Why no, it won't, but neither will forgiving her. This story has captivated a nation for three years. It angered a nation when a woman did not even tell authorities her daughter was missing for 31 days. It angered us even more when we found out she was entering wet t-shirt contests and partying during this 31 day period. It brought the anger to a whole new level when we heard there were searches for chloroform on her computer. When there was a dead body stench in her car trunk. And finally the anger was brought to a level that cannot be explained when Caylee's remains were found with duct tape and a heart sticker across the mouth.

During the trial, there were talks that she could get off due to all of her changing stories. That they only had to prove reasonable doubt. I, along with the bulk of the nation, believed this case was a slam dunk. When the jury deliberated, they'd surely come back with a big fat GUILTY. As we all know now, that's the opposite of what happened, and today, Casey Anthony is a free woman.

If you feel like you could forgive this woman, go ahead, but please do not expect the majority of the world to forgive her. I am not too proud to admit that I am not that good of a person. I don't think people that kill their babies should be forgiven. Not by me, not by you, not by God. I believe people who hurt babies should eternally rot in hell, and in the interim, should live a tortured life here on earth.

If I heard tomorrow that she was killed, would I be happy? Probably not, just because I don't celebrate death. But would I feel sorry for her? No. I do actually believe in an eye for an eye, and if you kill your kid and get off by a technicality, then you will get what you deserve another way. Call me a bad Christian if you want because I choose to not forgive someone that killed their baby and lied, lied, lied about it for 3 years. Some offenses, in my opinion, are just not forgivable.

This woman will not go away. I don't give it long before we find her back in jail or dead. I don't think there is any possibility in the world for her to live a normal life, and she doesn't deserve one anyway, so when the day comes and she gets real judgement - from God, for that, I will be releived.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Put In The Work Now, Reap The Benefits Later

I am extremely happy with my new job. I've been on information overload for the past two weeks though. I have a huge three ring binder with notes upon notes upon notes. My job requires a lot of attention to detail and I have to learn the way this company does everything. I'm not complaining though, I know I am going to love this job. I've done everything expected of me at other companies, so I just need to get familiar with my current company's policies and procedures. I am currently feeling much like a new relationship feels. You're very excited and nervous. You're trying to learn everything you can, you're on your best behavior, but what you really are looking forward to is the comfortable stage. When you REALLY know the other person, and you can just be yourself, and you know exactly what to do and when to do it. I'm looking forward to when I can run the office and not consult my giant book of notes.

I've worked around 50 hours a week both weeks, and that probably won't be changing any time soon. Unfortunately the Office Managers prior to me just wanted to reap the benefits of the job without putting in the work it requires, so I've stepped into a situation where I am putting out more fires than anything. Finding a customer file requires nothing short of an hours worth of digging and finally just praying for it to appear before your eyes. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Customers have been ignored, organization has been ignored, proper procedures have been ignored. No longer though. I fully intend on making my branch of this company a model.

Right now my office is in the spotlight. I am in the spotlight. Unfortunately for five years corporate has seen Office Manager after Office Manager fail in my branch. I cannot understand why though. The job is straight forward, the work is for the most part clear. The management is great, corporate provides a lot of support, so I can only assume that in the past they've just hired the wrong person for the job. I have a lot of proving myself to a lot of people in the near future, and that's ok. I love a challenge, and I love kudos for a good job. I am expecting that in the near future.

So for now I will put in those 50 hour weeks, and smile the entire time, because in a few months, my office will be running smoothly and I can work regular 40 hour weeks and not have a worry about if work will be effected negatively. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I am just looking forward to getting to the comfortable stage of this relationship.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another One, or Two, Opens...

A few posts ago, I wrote about losing my job. Looking forward to finding new opportunities and staying positive. Four weeks after being "let go", things started changing for me.

I sent out what seemed like thousands of resumes. Applying for jobs that were farther than I'd really like to travel, and for jobs I knew people with more experience were also trying to get. I applied through Careerbuilder, Monster, Indeed, Craigslist, and company websites. I filled out dozens of applications and aptitude tests.

One week after becoming unemployed I applied for a job that was just a few miles from my house. I went on the interview and felt like it went GREAT. The next day I found out I didn't get the job. I was pretty sad because I felt like that job was perfect for me, but I didn't let it get me down, I continued with my search. Two weeks later I interviewed for another company about 10 miles from my house I also found through Craigslist. The interview went pretty good and I was called in for a second interview. That afternoon I was offered the job. The job was set to start two weeks later on June 20. I was disappointed at the salary offered, but knew I couldn't hold out for more money in this economy. The company seemed fantastic and all was set to go for me to start on the 20th.

Three days later, I got a call from the first company telling me the person they hired didn't work out and they'd like to offer me the job, starting on June 20th. I quickly accepted because the position seemed to fit me better and I really felt in the interview that this was the job I was meant to have. I turned around and called the other company and regretfully told them I was afraid I would have to rescind my acceptance of the job. They were so nice about it and told me if anything changed with the job offer, to call them, because they'd love to have me on their team. I wished them the best of luck in finding someone that was as excited to work there as I was.

I was flown up to Pennsylvania for training for my new position, and after one day, I knew this was the company that I was meant to work at. I love the actual work, the environment, and the way the company treats their employees. In preparation for training week, many people from corporate called me to thank me for accepting their offer and to welcome me to the company. They were very efficient in making sure all paperwork was sent to me immediately for payroll and benefit purposes, and I truly felt welcomed and wanted. I felt as if they were treating me like I was doing them a favor for working there, as opposed to acting like they were doing me a favor for employing me.

I had such a good time in the office when I was training and the girl showing me the ropes was an absolute delight. I couldn't believe just how lucky I was to get a great job with a great company in a great location. It just seems like I am getting what I deserve because I did the right thing. If I learned anything from this experience, it's that, although I got fired for standing up for Muslims (and I would have done the same for Jews, Hindus, or anyone for that matter), and while it was hard to comprehend that, it is ultimately what led me to a job I'm confident I am going to be happy with.

God is good, and I owe it all to Him.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things NOT To Say When Someone Dies

Death makes everyone uncomfortable. There is never the perfect thing to say. Some people just don't say anything because they're unable to find the words. Over the years I've heard in person and read on social networking sites, comments people make to friends who've lost loved ones. Brothers, Sisters, Parents, or Children. I think it's in everyones nature to try to ease the pain of the person that is grieving. You want to make them feel better, but we need to realize there is absolutely NOTHING that will make someone stop grieving and say "oh, why didn't I think of that, now I feel better".

The comments I've seen, I know are of the best intentions, but reading from the outside, seem so cold. You cannot say to a mother who has lost their child "God doesn't make mistakes, it was in His plan", "She's in a better place now", "Everything happens for a reason", "At least you can have more children", "You will see this as a blessing one day", etc.

As a mother who has been faced with losing their child, I can assure you that pain and fear was NOTHING in comparison to someone who HAS lost their child. Step back for one second before you write that comment and ask yourself, "Would I be thankful right now if God took my child from me"? If you answered anything other than NO, you're lying to yourself. No one cries when people die because they're happy they're in heaven. They cry because they are sad, and they will miss them, and they realize they'll never be able to talk to that person, hug that person, kiss that person, and in some cases see their children grow up..

Again, I know people say these things to be supportive, but in speaking with a mom who lost her child, I realized that the way I feel about it, others feel about it too. That mom told me when people said things like that to her, she just said thanks, but it honestly just offended her. I assure you, if I ever lose a child, I WOULD let you know just how rude you were being if you told me that he's better off dead, which is essentially what your saying when you say "he's in a better place". To a mother, the best place a child can be is here, now, and with me. No two ways about it. Eventually, you can come to terms with death, and accept that your baby, sibling, or parents have died and may be in heaven, but hold off on those comments until the grieving person mentions it first.

So you're probably wondering, since I keep talking about what not to say, what I think is acceptable. I am by no means an authority on this. I personally feel like there is absolutely nothing you can say to change how someone is feeling. The first step in dealing with someone who is grieving, is to validate what they are feeling. Show that you care. Show you are there for them. Show them that they are NOT alone, no matter how alone they may feel. For instance you can say "I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I cannot imagine the amount of pain that you're in right now. I want you to know that you don't have to be strong right now. Take time to grieve and please know that I am here for you and praying for you and your family. If you ever need to talk to, or cry to, someone, please call me any time of the day or night."

Let's just learn to be more caring and less cliche...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Extreme Couponing

I'm always looking for ways to save money. I've toyed with couponing before but when Extreme Couponing came on on TLC, I got a renewed interest in really doing it. Seeing that first episode I was shocked at just how much money these people saved. Seriously? Getting $800 worth of groceries for $3? Hell yeah I'm in!

I started getting the Sunday paper and clipping coupons. I started visiting websites that would show you what coupons to use when. Tricks to save the most money. My first trip I saved $45 dollars, and spent around $80. Not bad. The second week of my couponing adventures is when reality started setting in. There were items that I wanted to get, but couldn't because all of the extreme hoarders couponers had been there before me. They were taking every last one of an item, leaving none for those of us that wanted a measly one of them. This wasn't on one item, it was on several. The fun of saving money started to become a fight to get there before the people that needed 78 bottles of mustard, simply because it was free or close to it.

I came home and after a little questioning on the internet, I realized I wasn't alone in my frustration of not finding any of an item that was on sale. The popularity of this show on TLC is starting to ruin it for us that don't coupon just to get a stockpile of 32 years worth of tampons, and more bbq sauce than an average town could use in a lifetime. 57 bags of croutons? Really? How many different ways can you possibly use a crouton? Buying diapers simply because you *might* have a kid one day? Could you please leave a few of an item on the shelf so that others may partake in the enjoyment of saving a buck or two?

I asked the cashier at the register just how many people have started extreme couponing in the past few weeks. She shook her head and said "you wouldn't believe the people that come in and get four carts overflowing with only 6 different items". It led me to wonder why there aren't limits set to how many of an item you can buy, or why these extreme couponers aren't calling the store ahead of time to let them know they intend on purchasing every.single. roll of toilet paper in the joint. I'm sure the store could arrange to get an extra truckload in for them.

I've also asked around to my friends that are couponing about just how much they're saving on things they actually use. One rule I've set with couponing is to not purchase anything I wouldn't normally purchase. Most coupons are for junky food that I normally don't bring into my home. On occasion I will buy snacks I wouldn't normally buy, just because they end up being the same price as things I would get, but generally speaking I have only been able to save around $30 - $40 per week. I'm not complaining about that, because that's a large amount of money I've basically been throwing away all of the weeks I didn't clip coupons.

I think that this show just sets a tone that the normal average family could save like they do, but unless the normal average family has an extra bedroom to turn into a small grocery store, and are willing to stop eating meat (meat rarely, if ever, has coupons) fresh fruits and fresh veggies (same as the meat), then this wouldn't work. And to the people committing coupon fraud and even flaunting it on the show....you're stealing. Plain and simple, stealing. Not saving - STEALING! And now the grocery stores across the country are starting to change their coupon policies which negatively effects those of us that are just trying to get what we need, not what we can stuff under our kids beds or in our attics.

I will continue to coupon probably for the rest of my life now, but I'd never spend 60 hours a week on it. And on some level, I feel like the people depicted on this show are no different than the people depicted on the other TLC show about hoarders. I believe its some form of mental illness. Not one person I've ever talked to would consider keeping that much stuff in their house, no matter how cheap or free it was. And I sure haven't met anyone who'd consider dumpster diving for coupons acceptable!

Couponing is a great way to save some cash, and it can definitely be done, but just be realistic and don't expect to save 98% off your grocery bill.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morocco Featured on US TV

The first show I remember featuring Morocco was Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Especially after living there it was fun to see what locations and what foods would be featured. That show was aired shortly after I returned to the US. I figured it'd be one of the last times I'd see a show about Morocco, but I was wrong.

In 2010, Jessica Simpson had a show on VH1 called "The Price of Beauty" where she traveled to different countries to see what women do to be beautiful. It is always intriguing to me to see how other people see Morocco, and how the Moroccan people are portrayed on TV. I was surprisingly impressed with this episode, other than Jessica showing up to a conservative Muslims house in booty shorts and high heels, but I'm sure that she wasn't trying to be rude, just an oversight.

Then Americas Next Top Model visited Morocco for their final four episodes of this past season. I actually got to see a different side of Morocco through this show, because obviously, I wasn't really into the fashion scene when I was there, so it was really cool to see how the fashion industry is in Morocco, and the photo shoot in the desert on the camels was just beautiful.

Most recently, The Real Housewives of NY went to Marrakesh, Morocco. I never watch that show, just because it's too much drama for my taste, but if something is on about Morocco, I can't NOT watch it! I loved seeing them walk through the Jmaa El Fna. And the one girls description of walking through the souk and having "sensory overload" is so true. There is really no other way to describe it. When you walk through and you see all of these vibrant colors, and you smell all of the different aromas coming from the grills in the middle of the square, and you feel all of the silks and the woven rugs - it's just a lot to take in at once. Then you see the monkeys and the snake charmer and you feel excited and then scared when the monkey jumps on your head! You hear the men playing their drums and the whole experience just takes over you! The two episodes of RHONY that I watched actually made me miss Morocco the most. I assume because they were seeing it as tourists and were there for a vacation. But one thing I want to make clear to anyone who read my old blog about Morocco. The hammam they visited is more spa-like than the REAL hammam. A hammam like they went to is luxurious and more than likely very expensive. It's geared toward tourists, as very few, if any, actual Moroccans visit hammams like that.

Coming in June there is a new show on ABC called Expedition Impossible: Kingdom of Morocco. I am very excited about this show. Mostly because it's going to highlight some of Morocco's different terrain. From the commercial I know they'll be in the Sahara, but I'm also assuming they'll be doing some activities in the Atlas Mountains as well. I'm sure I will see parts of Morocco I've never seen and it's going to be exciting!!

I'm so happy that Morocco is becoming a go-to place for TV. There have been a lot of Movies filmed in Morocco, but now that TV is starting to focus on the country, I'm sure more people will be intrigued and inclined to visit there. The more tourists, the more money, and the better for the country's economy. Anything that's bringing a positive light to the country I fell in love with 4 years ago, and now consider my second home, is OK with me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

When One Door Closes.....

I recently lost my job. In this economy and the small pool of jobs available, most people would not be taking it as good as I am. I lost my job due to no fault of my own. I went in everyday, often times putting work ahead of my family. I've always felt a real responsibility to do a great job at whatever task is at hand. Whether I'm enjoying it or not. I've always made a great effort to have a smile on my face and push through the day positively regardless of what may be going on in my personal life. I've proven myself time and time again as a loyal, committed, conscientious, and hardworking employee, so when I lost my job for standing up for my family (respectfully) when disparaging remarks were made about them (Muslims), I was shocked.

When I came home and told my husband, he was so supportive of me. He told me other opportunities would present themselves to me and that while the job was paying the bills, the environment in which I worked was eating away at my soul for two and half years. He said that I deserved better, and that I would receive better. I realized that he was right. And somewhere inside I already knew that, but it was so comforting coming home and hearing him tell me that everything is going to be OK.

I've been looking for a job now for a few weeks. Like I said earlier, the pool of jobs is small, so I don't expect to find something right away. I will continue to send resumes and fill out applications for as long as it takes, but after a week, I realized that what I want to do is write. I have a great story to tell, and I just need to get it on paper. I feel confident that I will find a job. A great job that I will love, but I feel that the real door that is opening for me is the opportunity to work on my book. The last four years of my life have been a rollercoaster. Good and bad, but all of the bad has made me appreciate the good, so I'll take it!  I just haven't had much free time to work on writing. Now I do, and if I don't utilize this time, I will regret it.

For now, I'm loving hanging out with my kids. I get to see my husband more often, I get to cook special meals that take to long on a normal work day to prepare. I get to spend more time at the gym. I get to do things I WANT to do. At the moment, I am looking at this time as a vacation to revitalize myself. So at the end of the day, I guess I am thankful for what happened. Obviously there are negatives to the situation, but if I dwell on those, I will sit at home worried and feeling sorry for myself. The positives are that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I did everything I could to be a great employee, and that without losing my job, I wouldn't find the great job I'm going to get soon, and I wouldn't be able to get my book going.

I once read a post secret (www.postsecret.com) that said something to the effect of "I still think I'm going to accomplish something GREAT in my lifetime.....and I'm already 54". That one secret inspires me. It reminds me that while I may be accomplished as a mom and a wife - career wise, I have so much more to prove and I will never stop striving to accomplish something GREAT in this lifetime, even if it takes me the next 30 years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Losing a Chubby Toddler

Actually, I didn't really lose a chubby toddler, I've lost the equivalent to one. I've lost just about 40 pounds over the past 5 months, I will know the actual figure on Saturday when I weigh in, but close enough to claim it! I've also lost around 46 inches. That is almost 4 feet of fat gone! I am very very proud of myself because I've been overweight for a long time. Well, I'm still overweight now, but I am still going to the gym regularly and eating a healthy diet, so I'm going to continue moving in the right direction. That direction is my ultimate goal of losing 72 lbs. It seemed almost unattainable in January when I started this path, but now that I only have only 32 pounds to go, I can see the finish line.

I don't have workout buddies. When I go to the gym, I rarely ever talk to anyone. I'm very focused on getting done what I need to do. I have not fallen in love with exercise yet, and it's highly doubtful I ever will, but I do see the necessity in it and I can tell when I've not worked out for a day or two, my body craves the exercise, although my mind hates it! I think it'd be easier if I had a friend to keep me on track, a friend who I could work out with and we could keep each other accountable. I do have a couple of friends online that are going through this journey as well and we like to update each other with where we are. It's so encouraging to see others succeeding in getting healthy with me.

For now my motivation comes not only from within, because honestly, sometimes I need a push. I watch weight loss shows and get motivation. I think about contestants on the biggest loser who are 700 pounds and running on the treadmill. I think about people on Heavy who've lost half of their body weight by being focused and working hard. I've watched Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, and seeing what a transformation these people can make in just a year really inspires me to keep going.

I will never pretend that I have all the answers, because I don't. I have bad days and days I am just sick and tired of working out and eating healthy. Sometimes I want a piece of cake. On those days I have a BITE of cake, and then move on. I've finally come to realize that screwing up once, doesn't blow all of the work I've put in and I can start from the next meal doing it right again. At this point I've put in a lot of effort and I won't give up.

 I love giving tips to people about the things that worked for me. But not all of us are the same, so I can just offer encouragement for what they're doing. And then there are those people that aren't ready to lose weight. Sometimes I find myself holding back from telling them that it's hard but it's doable...the time is NOW!  I know that nagging someone to lose weight is counterproductive. But now that I've finally gotten it together, I want to kick myself for not starting sooner. Because now I know I can do it. I have the willpower to change my habits. I want to share that with everyone. It is inside of all of us to change our lives for the better.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kefta Mkawra (Moroccan Meatball Tagine)

I like to throw in a recipe now and then on the blog. Recipes you probably wouldn't have tried without someone telling you how good it is. One of my husbands favorite meals is Kefta. I don't make it often but it is really good, and fairly easy, so I thought I'd share it. I took pics, but only of the end product. I may take pics as I'm preparing it next time....

(This recipe is from About.com, with a few minor changes of my own)

Ingredients:

 For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb.  ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped VERY fine
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1//8 teaspoon ground hot pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (you can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer, about 2 lbs)
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika or 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ---------------------------------
  • 3 or 4 eggs

Preparation:

Start Cooking the Tomato Sauce

Put the two cans of tomatoes in the blender and give them a rough blend, if you're using fresh tomatoes
Peel, seed and chop them OR cut the tomatoes in half, seed them and grate them.
Mix the tomatoes, onions and the rest of the sauce ingredients in the base of a tagine or in a large, deep skillet. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. (Note: If using a tagine, place a diffuser between the tagine and burner, and allow 10 to 15 minutes for the tomato sauce to reach a simmer.)
Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low, just enough heat to maintain the simmer but low enough to avoid scorching. Allow the tomatoes to cook for at least 15 to 20 minutes before adding the meatballs.

Make the Kefta Meatballs

Combine all of the kefta ingredients, using your hands to knead in the spices and herbs. Shape the kefta mixture into very small meatballs the size of large cherries – about 3/4 inch in diameter.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, along with a little water – 1/4 cup is usually sufficient – and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs, and cover. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set. Serve immediately.

Kefta Mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared, with each person using crusty Moroccan bread for scooping up the meatballs from his own side of the dish.





Gotta give my husband credit for making his incredible fresh baked bread:





Sunday, May 29, 2011

Walking Around Naked

Sometimes in the afternoon while my son is napping, I have nothing better to do than watch Tyra. Usually, I can't stand to watch her show as she, in my opinion, is the absolute worse talk show host in history. Not that I don't like her, I watch America's Next Top Model and she is engaging, I just don't like her way of interviewing people. She has a tendency to turn every single subject into something about her. You could mention that you like to eat bugs and she'll have a story about when she was in Bangkok on one of her supermodel photo shoots she ate a grasshopper. You could be a one legged ninja, and she'd talk about this one time when she had a sleepover when she was seven and they tied her leg up and she had a sword fight with her girlfriends. Sometimes there is just stuff you can't relate to, and that's ok. A good interviewer doesn't try to put themselves in the place of the interviewee, they try to understand through a line of questioning. I don't think she gets that, but....I'm getting off track.

Last week a topic on her show was parents that walk around their houses naked in front of their children. To the right of Tyra was a line of women who thought it was completely normal, to the left a line of women who thought it was disgusting. They started with the women that thought it was fine and they cut to home video of one of the women. She was walking around her apartment completely naked. She was cooking naked (OH MY GOD) and she was sitting at the dinner table on the computer naked. Her daughter, who was around 7 or 8 was there. She and her daughter were walking down an imaginary catwalk naked. Her argument as to why she does it, "It gives my daughter self confidence. She will be comfortable with her body because I am comfortable with mine". Ummmm......I am all for teaching your daughter to be accepting of their bodies. To be aware of their bodies. But is it really necessary to be NAKED in order to teach these lessons?

I have a good friend who has no qualms about being naked in front of her kids. Do I think she's a bad mom? Nope. But I also don't think that she's a good mom simply because she's comfortable being naked. And she doesn't do it regularly or to make a stand against prudes or to teach her kids to love their bodies. She just doesn't mind if one of her kids sees her coming out of the shower. She doesn't freak out and grab a towel and run (like I would). This, I don't have a problem with. Intentionally being naked ALL THE TIME, sitting on your couch, cooking food and sitting where people eat, well that's just unsanitary!

I didn't grow up in a house where it was acceptable to be naked. You covered up. My mom locked the door when she went to the shower. I do the same. My kids have never seen me naked. Maybe its different because I have boys? I don't know, but I would never intentionally be naked in front of them. I don't want to scar them for life anyway!

I think that as parents we do lead by example, but there are some life lessons that don't need an example as detailed as the one this woman was giving to her child. You can be comfortable in your skin - with clothes on. You can teach your daughters to be confident - with clothes on. You can teach your kids to love themselves - with clothes on! I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be for the kids subjected to their parents constant nakedness. Maybe not now since they're so young, but as they get older and see that this is not the "norm" in most households, it's going to get increasingly awkward for them.

By walking around in clothes you're teaching your kids modesty. And to me that is a trait you'd want your daughter (or son) to have. Just because you don't flaunt it doesn't mean you're not accepting of it. Just because you got it, doesn't mean everyone has to see it. That is a more important lesson in my opinion. You can teach your kids to be confident and love and respect themselves with words. And with actions such as wearing clothes and still being confident yourself.

Let me help you with saving money!!!

In an effort to save money due to the recent loss of my job, I've turned to couponing. Every week I scour the internet for deals. Not only on grocery store items, but other things myself and my family needs as well. Just because I'm not working doesn't mean my kids stop needing clothes, shoes, and toys. It doesn't mean I stop needing things from The Home Depot to fix small things around the house. I've written before about different ways to cut corners, but recently I've found a website that has helped me out with coupon codes for my online purchases, and so I thought I'd share! It's www.couponchief.com

Couponchief.com has a list of stores that offer shopping online, and they include a coupon code to enter during checkout. Whether it be 10% off, free shipping, or $20 off your full order, there are several to choose from for each store. And these aren't stores you'd never shop at. These are huge nationwide stores. Best Buy, Old Navy, Sears, Lane Bryant, Wal-mart, etc. Even better, they have discount codes for hotels, rental cars, and even cruises! If you're looking for something in particular, you can search the site for the store you want to shop at, and then it will list all of the coupons available and the success rate for each coupon. I would suggest considering purchasing something online that you've found in the store, just to get the discount. It could save you a good amount of money!

I've used this site a few times and it's definitely helped me to save money. I check back regularly, because new coupons are shared often. I recommend stopping by www.couponchief.com before your next online purchase!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Most Wanted Man in the World

There are a few days in my life that I will remember every detail to. Very few. One of those days occurred almost ten years ago. I was six and a half months pregnant and headed into work. Halfway there I started having contractions and turned around to head to the hospital. I was driving on back country roads and blew through a red light as the contractions were coming just a few minutes apart. I got pulled over and told the cop I thought I was in labor and was headed to the hospital. He told me he'd let me on my way in just a moment...after he wrote the ticket. I told him again I thought I was in labor and he told me to stop yelling at him and he'd be back with a ticket. I waited, got my ticket and sped off to the hospital.

Once in the hospital, my boss kept calling me to see when I'd be in. I told her I was at the hospital, in labor, and they were in the process of stopping it. Every 5 minutes she called to see when I'd be on my way. After turning my cell phone off, she started calling the hospital. I was on the phone with her when the nurse turned on the TV. The first plane had hit the World Trade Center and the second plane was heading toward the second building. I was 20 and wasn't very worldly. I remember questioning why there were planes hitting buildings. I'd never heard of Al Qaeda, I'd never heard of Osama Bin Laden. I was speechless. I was confused. I was in shock. I was scared for the people inside both of those buildings.

I, along with most of the country - world, even, was glued to the TV. As every detail and description of what was happening was revealed, another wave of despair for our country washed over me. Watching those buildings collapse...following the gasp of everyone in the room, was complete silence. You could hear a pin drop in that hospital room. The beeps of the machine, the dripping of the IV's - the silence drowned out the random sounds of a hospital room. September 11, 2001.

In the weeks following I remember people being so nice. Maybe people were extra nice to me because I was huge and pregnant, but I believe that it was due to what happened on that day. I think people felt a need to be nicer, to be more respectful, to kind of stand together as a country. I know that no matter where I went, chatter about 9/11 was, at the very least in the background, if not the main topic of conversation. That day changed a lot of people. That one day changed the world.

Although there was speculation that Osama Bin Laden was behind it, he didn't actually admit responsibility until a few years later. Being a young mom with a baby with a disability, I have to admit that I wasn't on top of things and how they unfolded. I wasn't a huge supporter of the war, but I wasn't completely against it either - at first. Over the years, I've learned things that have disappointed me about this war. It's ruined our economy, and its caused unnecessary loss of life to our soldiers who so bravely elected to go fight for us. But I think it's always been a  priority to bring justice to those that were responsible for 9/11. Specifically Osama Bin Laden.

I woke up on May 2 and the first news I was met with was "OSAMA BIN LADEN KILLED" on msn.com. I didn't jump for joy. I didn't scream, I didn't dance. I did feel relief. I felt that there would be some closure for the families of those who died in the twin towers. But I also felt assured that this was NOT the end of Al Qaeda. This is not the end of terrorism. This is not the end of anything. If anything, supporters of Bin Laden will be inclined to retaliate. Bombing innocent civilians will become a priority throughout the world. I was a bit ashamed of the way the news showed people across our country chanting and celebrating death. I felt like it made us look no better than the people who celebrated and chanted in the streets when those two buildings collapsed. We can be relieved. We can feel closure. But death is death. Good or bad people, it's still death and shouldn't be celebrated. I hope more than anything that his death will maybe make Al Qaeda weaker, but honestly I doubt it.

I am glad that he's no longer an issue for our country. I am glad that justice was served. Everyone who commits a crime should be punished. He, for many years, had been very vocal in his hate toward Americans. He encouraged people to kill Americans, even innocent civilians. He was an evil man. Whatever his intentions were, I am happy that he will no longer be a threat. We now have to be prepared for the next in line to take his place. Without a doubt there will always be people who hate America. And Americans. Just because. In a few weeks or months I won't remember the date of Bin Ladens death. It will go down as a memorable day, but not one that was so life changing for me that it reserves a spot in my "forever" memory.

And for the record, yes, I did have to pay that ticket I got for running a red light en route to the hospital while in labor.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What the hell is wrong with kids these days - AND their parents

Today the weather was beautiful. A nice day for a cookout. To throw the ball around with the kids. While I caught up on some housework the kids were outside with their dad, playing football. I saw 4 kids come in the yard and were playing with Cain. I went on about my indoor work while they enjoyed playing. A few minutes later everyone came in and my husband explained that the boys were ganging up on Cain, calling him stupid, several tackling him at once, and slamming him into the woody/rocky area at the edge of our yard. Cain was scratched up and my husband yelled at the kids and sent them away.

A few minutes later, Cain said "where's my football mom, I put it right there." I told him to go look around the yard, in the woods, and in his room before he assumed someone stole it. After both of us searching, I realized it was not here and those boys took it. I got in my car and drove around the neighborhood looking for them, as I didn't know their names, or where they lived. These were not kids Cain had ever played with before. I circled around and didn't see the kids, but Cain said he knew where one lived. I drove with Cain to the house where an older woman was sitting on the porch, and a 20-something man was just walking out.

I stopped the young man and asked, "does a young boy live here?" He seemed hesitant to answer, but said "yuh". I explained, "I'm not sure if its the boy who lives here or not, but there were several boys playing in my yard, they got too rough, we asked them to leave, and now my sons football is missing" He said, "yuh". I said, "well, would you mind going and checking to see if he has it", he looked annoyed and walked inside. Two minutes later he came out and had the football in his hand and tossed it to me. Didn't say anything, nor did the older lady on the porch. I said, "maybe you should take this opportunity to talk to the boy about not stealing" he replied with, "yuh".  With the blatant disregard, I let him know that if anything like this ever happened again, I wouldn't be so cool about it, and I would call the cops. "Keep the boy off my property".

By this time there were around 15 boys ranging from 6 to 14ish standing around laughing. I asked them if they thought stealing was funny. They said "yuh, dis funny". I said, "son, how would you feel if someone walked into your yard, and stole your stuff", "aww nah man, it'd be a fight". I said, "look, stealing is wrong, and sitting back laughing about people stealing is no better, God does NOT like ugly". They apologized and went on their way. An hour later, the kids who stole the ball were hanging out in the street - unsupervised - again.

If the situation was flipped and Cain stole something - ANYTHING - from  ANYONE, not only would Cain be apologizing to the person he stole from, he'd more than likely get spanked (and I never hit my kids), along with being grounded from EVERYTHING for a month. Cain knows this, so he wouldn't even consider taking something that wasn't his. I would be mortified if someone came to my home and said my kid stole something. I sure as hell wouldn't sit there nonchalantly, as if nothing had happened.

This leads me to wonder how people live like this? You just go through life and don't give a second thought as to where your kids are and what they're doing? Most of the kids in our neighborhood are unsupervised in the street from age 4. I've had to yell at kids for darting behind my car when I'm backing out of my driveway. For not moving when people are driving down the street. I don't even know these kids, its not my responsibility to get onto them, yet I do it, because I don't want them run over.

I just wish more parents would take responsibility for their children. I wish that they would teach them right from wrong, supervise them, and guide them to do the right thing. My kids are NOT perfect. I am NOT a perfect mom. I make mistakes, and they make mistakes, but I know that my kids know right from wrong and they know the consequences of their actions. If a child doesn't KNOW that he'll get punished for _______, he will not care. He will act as he wants to and think about the consequence later. I have high expectations for my sons lives. I just wish every parent would realize that THE most important job they'll ever do in their lives, is raise their kids.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Would you paint your sons nails pink?

Recently in a J. Crew catalogue, the picture below was featured. It's the president of J.Crew with her son, and she has painted his toenails hot pink. Apparently there was some outrage and some child psychologists started making claims that she's basically ruined him for life!

I beg to differ....a little. 

A friend of mine wrote "what mother hasn't painted her son's nails" and my response was "I haven't ever painted my sons nails, nor do I ever intend to". I was called judgemental for my response. I was told kids should be able to do what they want to. Boys don't paint thier nails because they want to be girls, but because they want to be like mommy.

This brought me back to Halloween of 2010, when my 2 year old son wanted to be Foofa from Yo Gabba Gabba:
When the answer was "no", a tantrum right there in the middle of the costume store ensued. We took him out of the store and explained that he couldn't be Foofa because she's a girl and he's a boy. Obviously, at 2 he didn't completely understand, but after letting him calm down, we went back into the store and he chose a gender appropriate costume. Do I think I scarred my son for life by telling him he couldn't dress like a girl? I don't think so.

So do I not want my boy painting his nails pink (or ANY other color for that matter) because I'm insensitive to transgendered people? Not at all, and I don't think it makes a boy transgendered if he wants to wear nail polish anyway. I just don't want my boys to do something that is reserved for women. End of story. I would probably think it was funny if a toddler got into the nail polish or makeup when mom was in the shower and she caught him, but for a mother or father to intentionally sit down and make up their son is a totally different story.

Kids these days have enough pressures. Bullying is always in the news. Sending your kid to school, or in this case, publishing a neon toed 6 year old in a magazine, isn't going to help them in any way from being bullied or picked on, or just given a hard time. It's our job as parents to protect our kids, not to encourage them to do things that are going to bring them problems. Yes, my baby has asked if he could put on nail polish when I was painting my nails. I think its completely normal for them to ask. I however said "no, nail polish is for girls" he said "ok" and walked away. It wasn't traumatizing for him to hear me say no.

I don't necessarily agree that engaging your child in your toe painting ritual is going to scar them for life or create emotional problems. I don't think its right to do, but I also don't think it will ruin them. My main concern here is WHY? Why do it? Cause your kid wants to? Well my kids want to do stuff all the time I won't let him do. Why is it sooooo hard to say NO to your kid?

I am not a staunch conservative, but I do believe skirts and dresses and make up and nail polish are for girls. We do not have to tip toe around our boys when they want to dress up like a princess. I don't feel like I'm teaching my son hate or even intolerance by not allowing him to dress like a girl or do girly things. A simple "no baby, princesses are girls and princes are boys" should be sufficient.

I truly believe this is beyond the nail polish issue. I think its just a case of parents allowing their kids to do whatever the hell they want without thinking about the repercussions. The whole "he just wants to be like mommy" argument doesn't work for me either, because mommy smokes cigarettes, mommy drinks alcohol, mommy drives a car, mommy can use a sharp knife, mommy can climb a 6 foot ladder....mommy does a lot of stuff that our kids shouldn't do. So, say no to the nail polish just as easily as you would say no to letting your 6 year old drive your car. Your argument will be "well its not going to hurt him to do it". I say, "its not going to hurt him NOT to do it either".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why not just become a Muslim?

In a discussion regarding a Christian woman married to a Muslim man, accepting her children being raised as Muslims, the following question was asked:

" how strongly can one believe in their professed faith if they are willing to raise their children in a faith that has a ...HUGE difference? If you don't believe strongly enough in Christianity to be sure to raise your kids as believers in it but maybe you find Islam acceptable why not just become Muslim?"

This was not directed or asked of me, however, I am in this exact situation and I thought it was a valid question. I can see how a Muslim woman wouldn't understand my reasoning for allowing this or accepting it. I will offer a little into the way I see it....

Before I offer my views on it, for anyone that isn't clear what the HUGE difference is, let me explain. Islam and Christianity are pretty similar on many levels. Many of the stories in the Koran and The Bible are the same. However, Christians believe Jesus is the son of God. Muslims believe Jesus is a prophet, not the son, and that Muhammad was the last prophet. Obviously, there are other differences as well, but that would be the main difference. Since Christianity is based on the belief that Jesus is the son of God, it would basically mean that since Muslims do not, they are unbelievers. Since Christians do believe Jesus is the son of God and that Muhammad was not a prophet, it would basically make Christians unbelievers. The Koran does not say to hate Christians, quite the opposite. They are allowed to marry both Christians and Jews because we are people of the book.

Now, on to why I am accepting of my children being raised Muslim....

What I know about Islam, I can respect. Can I believe it for myself? Not right now. Why not? Well, I truly believe we are a product of our environment. If I were born into a Muslim family, without a doubt, I would be Muslim. If a Muslim were born into a Christian family, I believe, without a doubt they would be Christian. For me, the past 30 years, I've believed that Jesus is the son of God. It's hard to NOT believe that, which is what I would have to do to convert. It's hard to un-believe what you've been taught for 30 years, and I'm not sure there is a reason for me to. Obviously, it would be much easier for me to be a Muslim, as my husband is, and my children are. But easier isn't always better, in my opinion.

So if I'm not sure Islam is the truth, why would I allow my children to be raised as Muslims? Well, I'm probably the minority here, but I don't think that only ONE religion gets to heaven. I do not believe I have a better chance than my husband or my other Muslim friends, simply because I'm Christian. My husbands faith is something I envy. My husband worships God faithfully. He lives his life in a respectable way. He prays probably more than most Christians. He studies the Koran. But I don't think he has a better chance than me to get to heaven simply because he's a Muslim either. Maybe he does because he's more devout than I am, but not because of WHAT he believes.

On a religious scale, of the two of us, my husband is MUCH more religious than I am. So knowing that, it is better for my children to have that parent to learn from. He leads by example, and he is passionate about Islam. He likes talking about it. He loves telling stories from the Koran. He looks forward to teaching the kids about Islam. I, on the other hand, don't enjoy any conversations about religion. I would never take the time to sit and make sure my children are religious. Believe in God? Yes. Religious? No.

So what about getting into heaven? I think if my children follow my husbands path, they'd have a better chance than following mine. Although I follow the 10 commandments, and I worship God, I do not take the extra steps....like reading the Bible or setting specific times to pray. Taking Islam and Christianity out of the equation....just religiously speaking, my husband is more committed to knowing and serving God than I am. I don't think this makes me a bad Christian (obviously I could be better) but I think it puts my husband in a better position to do any religious teaching in our house.

I don't have doubt in Christianity, so there is no reason for me to convert to another religion. I find Islam, not only acceptable, but respectable, so there is no reason for me not to want my children to be Muslim. I think I find it fine, just because of my belief that God is SO good, he wouldn't punish people that worshiped him in life, to the best of their ability and knowledge. If Christianity is wrong, God will know that we believed it with the best of what we were taught and we lived good lives worshiping Him. And the same goes for Muslims, they are worshiping God as they were taught. How could they be punished for that? I just cannot comprehend how people think that God would send the majority of the living world to hell. If only one religion gets "in", that would be very sad for me.

So in summary, for me, it's just about who worships more - not better, or more correctly. To be completely honest there is no way for SURE to know who is RIGHT. We can only BELIEVE, not know. And in this particular case, I don't think that there is one right answer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Abstinence and Abortion

The only way to prevent pregnancy 100% is abstinence. The only way to prevent getting an STD is to abstain not only from sex, but from all sexual activity. I'm an adult and I know this to be fact. I will teach this fact to my children. Sex before marriage is a sin. I will teach them that too. They will learn it at home, school, and from their religious teachers.

However,

The Guttmacher Institute reports "Although only 13% of teens have ever had vaginal sex by age 15, sexual activity is common by the late teen years. By their 19th birthday, seven in 10 teens of both sexes have had intercourse." 

So, while abstinence is obviously the BEST option, it is not always a realistic expectation of our children. We as parents can do our best to teach our children to wait, but we cannot be with them at every moment. We cannot be by their sides to make decisions for them. We have to accept reality and arm our children with the tools to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and potentially life threatening diseases, should they find themselves in a situation where their bodies are thinking, instead of their minds. We have to give them the knowledge of the consequences of sex. We have to let them know about the 15 million new cases of STD's that are reported each year, half of those belonging to people ages 15 - 24. I will never be the mom that hands my kids condoms and tells them to have fun, obviously, but I WILL be the mom that provides my children with the knowledge to make an educated decision, should they decide to go against what we as parents HOPE for....that they'll wait. Knowledge is power. Knowledge can save their life. Knowledge can prevent a pregnancy. Hoping and praying your kid will wait until marriage is about as solid of a plan as hoping and praying to retire by winning the lottery. We have to prepare them for the real world. And in the real world - teenagers have sex.

And they get pregnant. We have a wildly popular series on TV about teenage mothers. Teen pregnancy is an epidemic. It's not going anywhere either. In a conversation about this abortion came up. Most people I know are strongly against abortion. My feelings on abortion are pretty strong as well, but I am not pro-choice or pro-life. I'm somewhere in the middle about it. I personally do not know anyone that's had an abortion - well, I might know someone - but they've never advertised it or talked to me about it if they have had one. So my feelings do not come from personal experience. I just have an opinion about it.

 This conversation that took place was on facebook. On the page of a preachers wife. Obviously, everyone was pro-life. "God NEVER makes a mistake" "EVERY pregnancy is a miracle, even if you can't see that right now". Yeah? I disagree. I personally believe that abortion should not be used as a means of birth control. I think if you got pregnant unintentionally, there are other options, namely adoption. There are tons of people out there that would do anything to raise your unwanted baby. But, there are certain circumstances that I find abortion acceptable. A rape that resulted in pregnancy is absolutely an understandable reason to want and have an abortion. Another situation I thought of was a single mom who is pregnant and is advised by her doctors that the pregnancy will likely kill her (for whatever reason). Should she give birth and leave two children without a mother, or have an abortion, to be here for her living child?

And in the case of teen pregnancy? I'm on the fence. So I can't really speak with absolute certainty how I would react to that situation, if it were to present itself in my life. I know as an adult with two children and a supportive husband to help me, being a mother is still hard. I know that only 50% of teenage mothers finish high school. And an even lower percentage attend college. Getting pregnant at a young age and becoming a mother will most likely result in a difficult life.Not only will the teen parents suffer, the child will suffer as well. Not in ALL cases obviously, but in most. You cannot expect a 15 year old to be able to teach a child life lessons they themselves have not yet had a chance to learn.  While I think abortion in most situations is wrong, I can't be 100% sure I wouldn't suggest it to my child if they found themselves facing that situation.

 You have to think about all sides of it. It is quite easy to sit back and think that NO pregnancy should ever be terminated. It is quite easy to judge when your not faced with making that life changing decision. It is quite easy to say that even a pregnancy that was a result of a violent sexual act is a miracle, but I'd be willing to bet that while in theory that sounds great, in reality, if that happened to you, you just might find yourself asking God to forgive you while your sitting at the doctors office.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Money, Politics, and Religion

I'm usually an open book. I will talk about a wide variety of subjects. Want to talk about your job? OK. Want to talk about sports? I will try. Want to talk about science? Not really my thing, but yeah, why not? I don't know a lot about any one thing, but I do know a little about a lot of things. I am generally level headed and can look at situations objectively, if you'd like my opinion. I do not however, under most circumstances, feel comfortable talking about money, politics, or religion.

Actually, I will usually listen, but not offer up my opinion or a view into my financial situation. Why? Well I guess the same reason most people don't like to talk about these subjects. We're going to disagree, and I don't like to debate. I've mentioned before if I debate, its because I KNOW I'm right. Well here's the thing. I don't feel like there is a cut and dry right and wrong to politics or religion. Everyone has an opinion and they're entitled to that. I cannot tell a Muslim they're going to hell because they're not Christian. Just as I cannot be sure I'm not going to hell. I can believe what I believe, and respect others for believing what they believe. Same goes for politics. I am not a republican. I am not a democrat. I take each election seriously and decide who I believe is the best for the country and vote that way. The end. You have the right to do that as well. I have no problem saying who I voted for, but should I have to defend my choice? Nope.... and I won't. Because I, like you, have the right to chose whomever I want to, and do not have to justify it.

I've spent countless hours hearing how useless Bush was, and how useless Obama is. I've heard how Obamacare is going to ruin our country. I've heard how Bush ruined our economy and reputation throughout the world. I've heard how our kids will suffer if we don't get Obama out of office. I've heard how Bush was not qualified to be president. I generally don't care what your opinion is. Really. Do you think I've gotten in a debate with someone who has told me that Obama is ruining our nation? No, I haven't, because although I may not agree with people on their opinions, I don't care enough to argue with you. It's your right as an American to love or loathe whomever you decide to. I don't think I have enough power (or energy for that matter) to change your mind. And don't bother trying to change mine. You won't.

Just because I am not a debater, does not mean I am uneducated. I do my research. I am well aware of the situations in the world. I am well aware of the general consensus. But you and I arguing is going to accomplish nothing. Obama is still going to be president, at least until the election. I feel like its wasted breath, and can potentially create bad blood for no reason. I will never agree with someone that I disagree with just to be polite. I will however let someone speak, hear their opinion, and politely change the direction of the conversation. That's just how I roll.

I don't want it to be mistaken, as I've mentioned in previous posts. Just because I don't flaunt my religion, politics, or money (or lack thereof), doesn't make me less than you. I just don't feel the necessity to tell everyone how I feel about those very personal subjects. I do not under any circumstances think less of anyone for voicing their opinion about these things. If you feel comfortable talking about these subjects, feel free. But don't look down on me for not reciprocating. Or look at me as weak or uneducated because I choose not to divulge how I feel about it.

As soon as we understand (which will never happen) that there is no right and wrong about religion and politics, then we'll all be happier. Politically speaking, they all have faults. Religiously speaking, my God says not to judge others. Financially speaking, rich have problems, poor have problems. At the end of the day, its just better to leave those subjects alone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You paid how much for that?

Over the years, I've learned to be frugal. Mostly because I'd rather save my money than spend it. It started  when I was a single mom and needed to make my money spread as far as possible. When times got better I kept those cost cutting ways. I love to get a good deal! I'm almost frugal to a fault. Sometimes, especially when planning on spending money on myself, I feel immense guilt, because I know that money could be used elsewhere. I'm not cheap when it comes to gifting others, but I can do without. I have the same tennis shoes I bought when Cain was under a year old. He's now 9, and I only recently got a new pair because my husbands sister left her addais here (on purpose) when she visited. But over the years the best tools I've learned for cost cutting are buying used.

The following is a list of things that you can save big bucks on by buying used:

Furniture: Craigslist has been a lifesaver for me on more than a few occasions. Not only selling my stuff, but buying it. You can easily buy furniture in like new condition for 10 - 20% of the original cost. And if you're willing to put in some elbow grease you can save even more. Just as an example I bought the following bedroom suit for $100

Not much to look at, right? But $30 bucks at Home Depot and an afternoon of hard work, I turned it into this:


If you're willing to put in some time looking, you can save a bundle of cash by buying furniture, appliances, exercise equipment, and home accessories online, used, and for basically nothing.

Toys: Anything that's bleachable/washable will be purchased used! I've bought tons of toys...ride on toys, learning toys, leap pads, video games, dvds, balls, etc. I've purchased toys that at walmart are $45, for $2. I know kids well enough to know they'll play with a toy for 2 days and then they move on to the next one.

Jewelery: A few months ago my husband wanted to get me a new ring. I'm firmly against this idea, because my ring was what he chose, and it means more to me than what it looks like, but after months of suggesting it, I finally went into a jewelery store and looked. Yeah, I knew myself too well. I walked out shaking my head at the prices of a stupid ring. I then ran over to the pawn shop and found a huge selection of gorgeous rings for really cheap! And they'll prove to you its real. And they'll negotiate with you. Why would anyone go to Kay and pay $3000 for a ring you can get for $400 at a pawn shop? And just as a side note, I didn't get a new ring, and I doubt I ever will.

Cars: Brand new cars are awesome. They really are. They're perfectly clean, they smell amazing, and basically you KNOW nothing is wrong with it. But they're expensive, and the second you drive off the lot, they've lost 10,000 in value! I could never bring myself to purchase a new car. Never. (well unless I win the lotto, in which case I wouldn't mind). Buying used is the way to go. I bought my car from a bank like 8 years ago. It was repossessed, and worth $15000. I bought it for $5000 cash and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. That's why I still drive it. Then I think about the guy it go repoed from, he owed $17000 on it, and didn't have anything to show for it. I've had like 7 cars. None have been new, and no future cars will be either.

Vacations: If I can't get a coupon code to book a hotel room or for tickets to places, I usually won't bother. Many times in my past I've agreed to go to a timeshare sales pitch to get a nice hotel for next to nothing. Yeah it was totally annoying, but it was like an hour of my time and saying no, no, no. I don't have a problems saying no, so for me it was worth it!

Sometimes a simple google search can help you save money on things you wouldn't necessarily think about. I can't even begin to tally up how much I've saved over the years by buying used, so consider that before you go out and buy a $4000 bedroom suit (but still buy your mattresses new!).


Friday, March 11, 2011

Braggers on Facebook

I usually check in on Facebook a few times a day....whenever I get a spare second. I like FB because I cannot see my friends regularly and I like to keep up with whats going on with people. It's a way to stay connected when life is too busy to find actual real life face time with friends. But then there are some people that just annoy me to no end. Specifically the braggers of Facebook.

Look, I just like you, like to share good news. I also share bad news, news stories, and my weight loss progress. Actually I'm sure I annoy people with my postings about weight loss, and that's fine, I understand, but I really do that not to get a pat on the back, but kind of as a way to keep going. I feel accountable when people other than myself know I gained or lost. It's just a little motivation. But I don't mean to annoy, so forgive that. I'm not saying I've got perfect Facbook etiquette.

But some people update several times a day with just how charmed their life is. "I have the perfect husband/wife" "My children are amazing" "My friends are the best" "My job couldn't be any better" "My house is sooo big, but my amazing kids and husband and housekeeper keep it in perfect working order" "I'm the most organized person I know" "I'm better at doing this than anyone" "It's my birthday, anniversary, kids birthday, etc. so I'm going to keep reminding you every 30 seconds" "I love that I'm so in shape" I could keep going. Now any one of these things at once is fine. But seriously, every post? Maybe these people are just trying to have a positive outlook on things, and I commend that (doubtful, but possible). What I really wonder when I've seen months or years of these posts though is "are they trying to convince the world, or convince themselves"? Everyone has a bad day, and it's completely ok if you don't come off as being perfect!

I am always happy when I see someones children have succeeded at something. And when friends get to take a family vacation and share pics. And when a friend buys a new house. I truly am happy when people are happy. But there is a line between just sharing good news and bragging. I just don't know how they don't see that they are coming off as fake!

Anyway, this post may piss some people off, and I understand that, I'm just asking that you re-evaluate your need to say how amazing every single aspect of your life is every five minutes. It's really not believable.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shocking News Story out of Mississippi...

After browsing through the news as I do most days, I came across a story that saddened me beyond words. Daily we are filled with stories of robberies, rapes, war, and murder. These stories are so common that sometimes, they don't even shock me. But this story really got to me.

 A young mother, 24 years old, killed her toddler. This happens a lot in the news as well. What you don't hear in the news often is the way she killed her little boy. She placed him in the oven - alive - and cooked him to death. He died of heat injuries and his body was badly burned.

I understand being frustrated by your kids. I understand wanting to pull your hair out sometimes. I even understand having to walk away from your kids because you're just so mad that you have to breathe for a minute. What I do not understand is what frame of mind you'd have to be in to harm your child. Not only harm your child, but torture them. Slowly killing them by putting them in a hot oven and allowing them to burn to death. Even if she put him in the oven in a moment of rage (not that that's acceptable in any way) she had time to realize what she was doing was the most disgusting thing ever. She had time to change her mind and save him. She had to hear him screaming in pain. She had to hear him kicking to try to get out, yet she continued on with her plan. What kind of sick individual can do this? Not only do it, but do it to your own flesh and blood. Your baby. The one person you should be willing to die for.

Whenever I hear about a child being killed I am always most sad when I think about what the child must have been feeling and thinking. They must have been so scared, and so confused as to why the person they love the most is hurting them. In this particular case I'm sure there was prior abuse, it's not very often you hear of someone going from parent of the year to cold blooded child killer. I just hate that this boy had to suffer.

I really cannot wrap my head around what the mom (and i use that term loosely) was thinking. I sometimes hope that it's a mental condition they cannot control, because it pains me to think people could actually consciously hurt another human being, let alone their own baby. Regardless of her mental state, I hope that this woman gets the death penalty. She deserves to die for what she did. There is a special place in hell for people like that.

You can read the story here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Invincible

I haven't written in a while. I haven't been able to. Since Valentines Day, things have been rough in my life. I've been spread way too thin, so something like finding a minute to write a thought was not doable. Things today are better and I want to take a few minutes to write about whats been going on.

A few weeks ago my mom was brought to the ER by ambulance for being unresponsive. I'd been to the ER for my moms complications from one thing or another dozens of times over the past few years. But this time when I saw her I freaked out. I cried. I don't cry when someones sick. Everyone around me has been sick and I've become accustomed too it. I'm the strong one, and when I cry about a sickness - it's serious. My mom seemed to have had a stroke. Unable to form words. Arm tensed up by her head. Looking to her right, unable to look left, and looking right past you as you spoke to her. As if you weren't even in the room. That is scary. Seeing your mom who told you your whole life what to do and how to do things, lying in a bed, unable to do anything. A few hours later she seemed to snap out of it. She was able to talk, able to look both ways, able to keep her arm down. She was still a bit confused, but she was there. After a surgery to unblock an artery, she was home and doing well a few days later. While she was in the hospital awaiting her surgery I told her,"Mom, you scared me this time, but I'm beginning to think you're invincible. As much as you've been through, you snap right back and keep on going"

Fast forward a few days and I got a call again, "Your mom's on the way to the ER by ambulance, she was unresponsive". I flew to the hospital to find her in the same exact room, but this time it seemed so much better. She was confused about some things, but able to talk and saying she just wanted to go home. I ran to her house to pick up her meds for the dr. and when I came back she was asleep. And she was convulsing. And her blood pressure was so low on the monitor that I made them do a manual one because I didn't believe it was actually possible to have a BP of 40/14. Apparently it is possible. She was taken to the ICU where she didn't wake up for a day. They called me to tell me they were intubating her. She required the vent to breathe for her 100% for a few days and was unable to compensate herself when they turned the oxygen down at all. There was basically no hope. They were talking tracheotomies and long term hospital care, when once again, she just snapped out of it the next day.

Today I was told by her dr. that he didn't expect her to live. To be quite honest, I wasn't surprised, because neither did I. I think this was the first time ever that I really expected to have to say goodbye to my mom. That thought really messed with me this past week. How could I say goodbye to MY mom. I mean..she's far from perfect. But she is really important to me. She has done so much for me and my family, that I can't even believe how giving she is. She is not without fault, but neither is anyone else. I love my mom and feel so bad for people that don't know her. She is a good person, a loving person, she's funny, and she's nice, and she'd provide a complete stranger with anything they needed. I've actually seen her do it before. She loves my children so much. And my children love her too. I often wonder why there is that bond. Grandmas are supposed to bake for the grand kids. And take them out to play, and buy them really cool gifts. And give them lots of candy when the parents don't. But since my moms been pretty much bedridden for the majority of Cain's life and all of Zayd's, she's been unable to do all that special "Grandma stuff". But my kids, without fail, EVERY SINGLE DAY ask if they can go see nanna. Most days Zayd throws a fit when I say no. They love their nanna so much.

Most young fit and healthy people could not stand what she's been through over the past 7 years. Physically or mentally. I'm a strong person, and I don't know if I could deal with it. I envy her for her will to go on. And I am so thankful that so far, she has been invincible.

I know one day I will inevitably have to say goodbye to her, but for now, while I have her, I am going to make sure that she knows just exactly how important she is in my life and the life of my husband and children. Please take this blog entry as a lesson that life is short. Don't wait to visit your mom or dad till tomorrow. Because there may not be a tomorrow. There may not be a next week. Even if only a call, make sure those that are important to you are well aware of it.